Thursday, December 29, 2005

Rock Creek Park

I took the dog and the Boy for a walk in Rock Creek Park this afternoon. We parked at Pierce's Mill and walked down the creek towards the Potomac. I explained to the Boy how rivers flow downhill, meet up with other rivers that flow downhill, and eventually run to the sea. I explained how Pop & Oma live at sea, as best I could.

The earlier cold drizzle had given way to a moist, cloudy day. The sky was brightening, but was still swimming with gray clouds. The dog was happy to run off leash, pausing where the bridges span Rock Creek or a tributary. We paused too.

I hiked the Boy up so that he could peer through the railings and down onto the river below. There were two ducks and three drakes paddling away, and the Boy noticed them. I wondered what else he noticed about the surface of the river: the rusty leaves floating by at a modest pace? The ripples in the wide section? The small funnel and turbulence where a tree branch interrupted the flow?

Walking along the wide tarmac path, I paused by a long puddle. It looked silver, filled with the gray clouds overhead. I looked into the puddle and saw the reflections of tall leafless trees pointing into its center, into the sky. It made me realize how tall the trees were -- over a hundred feet -- and how few I could identify. Maple and oak. Beech?

Then, by a trick of the light, my vision shifted focus. I found myself looking at a shallow puddle in a black road with some spent brown leaves floating in it.

The Boy was looking into the same puddle. I wondered what he saw in the puddle: the ground or the sky? Did he switch between the two ways of seeing? Did he switch between them on purpose, or did the two notions vie in his head?

I have no way of learning his mind on such matters. I spoke to him softly and we kept walking.

The dog hesitated at the puddle, and walked around it. She doesn't like getting her paws wet.

Feeding notes: Timing is Everything

If the Monkey is not hungry, do not feed the Monkey.

If the Monkey is a little hungry, he will take a little solid food and then get distracted.

If the Monkey is somewhat hungry, he enjoys the experience of a long feeding of solid foods rounded out with a small bottle of mother's milk.

If the Monkey is very hungry, it is too late for solid food: only mother's milk will do.

Word of the Day: Respoon

Respoon (ree.'Spoon)

The act of delivering food that has previously been fed by spoon and subsequently expelled and collected in the spoon again.
"I usually have to respoon the first bite from his bib; after that, there is usually enough on his face to respoon after three or four bites.

~ n. A quantity of food that has been respooned.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Moving the Goalposts

When I first started as a stay-at-home dad, I set a goal of having an outing with the Boy every day. This would serve twin purposes: to generate stimuli promoting his development, and to make me feel that I was getting the utmost from my time away from work.

But after the long outing of yesterday, I decided to stay in today. I sensed that the Boy was tired, and the house needed some picking up after xmas. We had the place pretty well cleaned up for entertaining, so I thought I would try to keep it that way. And there's always laundry. (In reality, this included two long dog walks with the Boy in the carrier and a car trip downtown to pick up the Monkey Mama from her massage appointment. But that's mostly staying in.)

I was rewarded with successes on two fronts. First, the Boy took two large (2 oz.) feedings of solid food. And second, the Boy took two naps, including a 90-minute slumber. The amounts of solid food and sleep were approximately double what I have been able to facillitate since the Monkey Mama went back to work. Since solid foods and establishing a sleep schedule are the most important challenges I am working on right now, I felt gratified and validated in my choices.

Also gratifying was the amount of work I could accomplish around the house during his naps. It's not as though I was able to enjoy any of my many hobbies in that time; but keeping the household together is more challenging than I might have thought.

The presumption behind the philosophy of an outing a day is that the Boy needs stimuli to develop. What I am learning is that when the world is new, there are more than enough stimuli. He develops on every dog walk, through every overheard phone conversation, with every glimpse of something new. In fact, it's often more important to protect him from stimuli. Turning down the noise when the background sound gets too loud. Darkening the room when he gets tired. Calming him with food when hunger beckons. Supplying dry, comfortable cotton whenever he is wet.

So the goals that I want to achieve are changing. It's no longer a matter of dragging the Boy to museums (although some great interior spaces are sure to provoke his thoughts). I am learning to understand what the Boy needs and wants. I am learning his likes and dislikes, and his patterns of wakefullness and slumber. I am learning when razzing his belly makes him giggle, and when it makes him cry.

I think that these are the reasons why I am a stay-at-home dad, and I didn't even know it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Long Outing

I made it to "Mother's First" playgroup today. I only managed to spend 45 minutes there before the Monkey's howls put an end to our participation.

Mondays -- or Tuesdays in this abbreviated holiday week -- are always rough. His sleep rhythms are generally more precariously balanced than ours, so disrupting the weekday rhythms with something a little more free-wheeling on the weekend takes a toll. Not to mention the excitement of Christmas.

It turns out that usually the Monkey Mama gives him a pep talk at the beginning of a week to persuade him to be nice to the Monkey Daddy. She forgot this time. (Also, there was something about milk that is unpalatable when thawed from a frozen state.) The other mothers in Mother's First had never seen our mellow Monkey in such a state; there has always been fast recourse to the pacifying boob.

So I made a beeline from the Petworth library to the National Building Museum for another daytime rendezvous with the Monkey Mama. They had a nice nursing session while I ate lunch, and then I packed the Monkey back into the car for a cultural outing.

My first thought was to take the Monkey to the U.S. Botanical Gardens at the foot of the Capitol. There was a line out the door; whether it was for the blooming corpse flower or the miniature Capitol surrounded by holiday poinsettias I don't know. Either way, I'll take the Monkey there on a quieter day. He doesn't care about those things, and I just want to take him to the unseasonably warm, humid, and hyperoxygenated environment of the Conservatory.

So we went to the Renwick Gallery instead. A lot of shiny eye candy for the Monkey in the "Modernism in American Silver: 20th Century Design" exhibit. But now I know why "Look but don't touch" is essentially synonymous with museums. It's a shame, too: some of the materials and curves of the American folk art collection beg to be touched. (A chair by Sam Maloof, for instance.)

A great feature of the Renwick: a changing table in the bathroom. (I had to field dress the Boy.)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Singing the Soprano Blues

The Monkey Mama and I recently viewed the last episode of "The Sopranos" currently available on DVD. This is sad, for practical reasons but also nostalgic ones.

We have really enjoyed watching the Sopranos, so on a practical level we are sad that we will now have to wait for the next season of episodes to come out (on DVD). The nostalgic reason is that we started watching the Sopranos when the Monkey was very small and nursing all the time. We couldn't count on a 2-hour uninterrupted span in which to watch a full-length feature film. But we could usually count on the Monkey staying down for at least an hour, long enough to enjoy a reliably excellent episode of the Sopranos.

I keep telling Monkey Mama that watchers of the series on HBO had to wee weeks between epidodes, and months (if not years) between series. It's hard to imagine.

Holiday Blogging

Sorry for the sparse posting over the Christmas holiday. I have been too engaged and engrossed with the holiday itself to detach and blog about it. (That's a good thing.)

Many thanks to the friends and family, near and far, who make the holidays special. There is never enough time, and always competing demands on it, to celebrate with each of you as much as we would like. But you are in our thoughts at this fun time of year.

We are also grateful very for the numerous and generous gifts we received.

The Monkey enjoyed his first Christmas immensely. I am sure I will post more anecdotes as circumstances permit, but I think Christmas has a new fan.

Friday, December 23, 2005

If it's not one thing...

Tonight, I was trying to ease the Monkey back to sleep, and the dog started barking downstairs. The neighbor's cat Lester had perched on our window sill, casting shadows against the curtains, which made the dog go out of her head. The barking did not ease the Monkey back to sleep.

A few nights ago, I was having a difficult time getting the Monkey to take his bottle, but we eventually got it together for a 6 oz. feeding. Six ounces is a largish feeding: a warm, satisfying meal on a cold, wintry night. Just as the last drops of milk found their way into the bell of the nipple, and the little Monkey closed his eyes in drowsy bliss, four shots rang out nearby. The shots alone startled the boy, but an instant later the dog was adding to the din. It took a while to put him down after that.

If it's not one thing it's another.

How do you spell relief?

The Boy spells it S-Y-R-I-N-G-E, as in the thing that looks like a miniature turkey baster that I shove up his nose to suction out the mucous. The funny thing is that he doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he almost seems to like it. I guess if you took 90% of your nutrition or more exclusively through sucking at a nipple, you would be glad to have your nasal airways working.

Walk a mile in another man's mocassins, I always say.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Developmental Notes

For readers of this blog who are fans of the Monkey -- you know who you are -- I report the following developmental items:
  • He is rearing back from a push-up onto all fours, a precursor to crawling
  • He has an incipient incisor: he's cutting an upper front tooth to go with the two lower ones
  • He rolls over back-to-front and front-to-back, and spins from a push-up position
  • Object permanence ("Peek-a-boo!") is strong
There are probably others, but those are some of the higlights.

Transformation complete

Just over two weeks ago, I embarked on an ambitious voyage: the journey between beard and clean-shaven face. (I also became a stay-at-home dad, but that is a topic for another post.)

That journey is now complete.

I hope to post a photoessay of the various phases of this transformation in a future post. Watch this space.

Word of the Day: Applepsy

Applepsy (a'.pul.`ep.see) n., pl -sies.

Neurological condition precipitated by the presence of boiled, mashed, organic apples, characterized by sputtering, lunging, yelling, and squirming. Unknown whether it is brought about by apple temperature, taste, consistency, or other quality.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Not a Proverb

There's no use crying over spilt milk. That is a proverb.

But apparently, crying over sour milk is tremendously useful. The Monkey did it all day today. And I'm not sure it was sour anyway. It's hard to see how it could be: from pump to freezer to hot water to bottle. When would it sour? Maybe that's the way it's supposed to smell?

But it's not a proverb. And the Monkey cried all day, except for a long nap in the Ergo carrier while I grocery shopped. The sweet potato and apple solid foods were not getting it done. He wasn't liking the milk. Then he was too tired, too hungry to really engage in anything -- especially sleeping or eating.

My nerves were a bit frayed by the time Monkey Mama came home. And then I cooked dinner.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

DVD action

Asking my PC, the miniDV camera, and the DVR to cooperate has been a chore. But the chore is beginning to yield fruit. I am optimistic that 2 hours of footage shot and (lightly) edited over 3 months will be available for xmas.


Suspicious Cheese Lords/Best Night Ever

I met friends down at the National Gallery Sunday night to take in a free concert. The Suspicious Cheese Lords are a male choral group of 20 or so, specializing in polyphony and music from the Middle Ages. (The odd name derives from Suscipe Quæso Domine, a song title in Latin.) I missed the group last xmas, but we saw them the year before at the Franciscan Monastery here in DC. The sculpture garden of the National Gallery is not as good a place to see or hear music as the ornate, intimate space of the Monastery -- although the indoor trees were nice -- but it is a nice venue.

For whatever reason, I really like polyphony. Maybe it's the huge sound of a huge interval, written for monks with centuries worth of nothing better to do. But it's great. (Another positive association is to the singing we heard on the Tuscan part of our honeymoon at the abbey of Sant'Antimo.)

The music was great, but I had a free night and time was wastin'. We left at intermission and went to a dirty Irish bar, where I had a beer-and-a-shot and some cheese fries.

From high culture to low, hanging out with friends who appreciate the same things. That was a Very Good Night. My thanks to the Monkey Mama for staying home and making it possible. (She got to spend a quiet night to herself after putting the Monkey down, which is not so bad either.)

New Identity

Re my post on identity the other day, it's becoming clear that being a stay-at-home dad is an identity unto itself. So although I no longer regularly confirm some of the professional or intellectual aspects of my identity, I am cutting out broad swathes of hot, fresh identity. And I'll have it forever: I will always have be grounded in this special time I have together with my son.

Likewise, our identity as a family is just taking off. The other day, each of the Monkey's parents was kissing one of his chubby cheeks, and he was laughing his head off. The more moments like that I can add to my identity, the better.

Third week on the job as full-time Monkey Daddy, and the insights just keep on coming.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Patriots win, 28-0

Tampa Bay is a contender trying to play for the NFC South Division title. And the Patiots licked 'em.

The defense is starting to look nasty. And the offense returned a starting running back and wide receiver.

The champs aren't the champs for nothing.

Holiday Party

I bought the Monkey to the office holiday party, to show them what all the fuss is about. With two vaccinations still coursing through his little body, I couldn't keep him there long enough to introduce him to all my coworkers. But it was fun to roll out a blanket in the hallway and roll around on the floor with a couple of other economists.

Looking at him with fresh eyes, I was impressed at how fluently he rolls back-to-belly and belly-to-back. He'll be crawling soon. So help us.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Monkey Doctor

We took you-know-who to the Monkey Doctor for a routine check-up. All is well. He took a couple more vaccinations, which had him feeling low for a day or two. Fever, aches, and some other incidentals of a well-functioning immune system. His discomfort took a little more caring, but the longer naps (= free time for Monkey Daddy) more than made up for it. Poor little Monkey.

The Monkey Doctor -- who is a wonderful pediatrician, operating a private practice from her home in Georgetown -- adores the Monkey. She notes that the Greeks call their exceptionally large lima beans "gigantes." Since the Monkey is exceptionally large for his age, she calls him a "Gigante." Which kind of brings it full circle, because our prenatal nickname for Monkey was "Bean." We called him that since Week 8 of the pregnancy, when he was the same size as a lima bean.

Speaking of large, I'll try to upload a picture of his weight growth chart. The pale blue indicates the range of 95% of U.S. male children. At 10 pounds, he was born in the 99th weight percentile; he is now bigger than 19 of 20 children his age. Why am I endlessly fascinated by this?

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I was kind of hoping for an easy day today, but instead it was more like another day.

The French have one word to mean both "hope" and "expect." Maybe that explains why the French fertility rate is so low.


I am starting to realize some of the psychological aspects of this stay-at-home dad thing.

My day lacks many of the interactions that confirm my identity. Especially interactions with people, where I talk about economics and policy and intellectual property and things like that. But also interactions with data. And interactions with the written page. (Blogging is not the same as working on a journal article.)

An important part of being a researcher is keeping engrossed with recent developments. For instance, I was following some recent Supreme Court maneuverings bearing on intellectual propety and antitrust. (Are agreements between competitors legal if they potentially fall within an intellectual property right claim, even if they would be per se illegal otherwise?) Now I'm not. Since I'm planning to return to my research career at some point, this is troubling. Will I still care? Will my leads run cold?

I've got hobbies, too. Planing wood confirms my identity. Wielding a kayak paddle confirms my identity. The fact that I don't actually do these things very often means that these things go unconfirmed, unreinforced.

I didn't know I even had an "identity," much less that it needs confirming. See, two weeks as a stay-at-home dad and I've learned something already!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sore Back

Something they don't tell you in parent training is that raising a child is hard on one's back. (Also, there's no such thing as parent training.)

We go to the pediatrician (who is awesome, btw) on Thursday for a check-up, and we will weigh the Monkey. But I guess he's about 23 or 24 pounds. Picking him up and putting him down happens hundreds of times a day, and you can't just toss him around like a sack of potatoes -- his neck control is improving, but he's still a baby after all.

Add in the fact that I purchased 28 cartons of hardwood flooring this weekend. Each weighs 80 pounds or so. On my own, I loaded them into a friend's pick-up truck, brought them up the stairs into my house, and down the winding stairs into the basement. Until I decided that they didn't belong in the basement. (They need to acclimate to their surroundings before I can lay them down. And they're heavy.) Today I restacked them so that they were bearing on multiple floor joists where the joists sit in brick pockets. (Here is a shockingly descriptive photo.) Ouch.

Feeling Good

Another great day. The Monkey ate well and took two long naps. Enrichment activities included music time, a book time, a long dog walk, and a brief visit to the National Building Museum en route to picking up the Monkey Mama from work. I cleaned up the house a bit, moved 3,000 pounds of hardwood flooring around (in preparating for installing it with my dad after New Years), and even took a shower.

If I weren't so exhausted, I'd say this is pretty easy.

Holiday Fracas

We took the Monkey to his first holiday party last night. We knew it would violate his hard-won sleep schedule, but we gave it a shot anyway. It was a great gathering, very friendly hosts. In the "small world" department, I was surprised and delighted to see a friend with whom I go back to high school, and to meet his wife and daughter.

The Monkey did fine in the early goings, when there were about 10 people in the house and the hour was not too dissimilar from bedtime. As more guests arrived and the party gained a sociable hum, the Monkey was displeased and let us know it. I took him upstairs, but he was not to be soothed. Monkey Mama had no luck either.

So we left in a hurry. The baby carrier around my waist knocked a wineglass off a table and broke it. The sound of breaking glass on top of the wailing baby and the rushed departure...yikes. I felt like a spaz, overmatched as a parent.

We pushed our boundaries. The Monkey pushed back. I am sure this will be a recurring theme.

Enrichment Opportunities

The Boy has now heard Bob Marley for the first time. It made him bounce up and down.

That means he likes it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Today's Outing(s)

An hour walk to Rock Creek Church Cemetary (I did not know that the inventor of Wonderbread was buried there) to throw a stick for the dog. The cemetary is absolutely beautiful in every season, but especially covered in snow. I pinched a sprig of holly for our Xmas decorations. The Monkey slept nearly the whole walk...a pretty good nap.

Then off to Mommy(?!) & Me Yoga at Yogahouse, the new studio that opened up in Petworth. Monkey Mama has gone to that class several times, but the instructor was attending a funeral and had cancelled class. But instead I had a delightful conversation with the studio owner, who already knew the Monkey.

I felt like I hit my stride today. The Monkey was fed, rested, and freshly diapered for our very punctual arrival for the 1pm yoga class. (Pity it was cancelled.) Afterwards, I fed him another bottle, a lot of sweet potato, and got him asleep for a long nap. His needs were met. Then I picked up the house, unloaded the dishwasher, and folded a basket of laundry. I cracked a celebratory beer and took a pull.

Then the Monkey woke up, wailing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Now THAT'S an Outing!

I have never felt like a better dad than I did Thursday: I took the Boy to the Zoo.

The ride over to the Connecticut Avenue entrance was rough. I stopped to gas up the car on the way, and I took too long. I couldn't communicate with the cashier through the bullet-proof glass, the Boy started crying, he wouldn't take the warm bottle in the passenger seat, meanwhile I was blocking traffic at Pump #1. Eventually we got out of there, and the Boy was asleep when I found a (great) parking spot.

Passing by the hoopla surrounding the baby panda, I made a beeline for the Amazonia exhibit. It's an indoor rainforest, warm and humid and green and leafy, with monkeys (small "m") and tropical birds darting about the canopy. Sometimes they howl or cheep.

I was hoping to get to Amazonia quickly, so that he could take a bottle in the highly oxygenated atmosphere of the rain forest. But I misremembered the distance to the exhibit. (I used to jog through the zoo all the time when I lived in Adams Morgan.) It was a beautiful morning, with bright sun reflecting off the recent snow. But since it was below freezing outside, and the Boy was waking up, I ducked into the Elephant House.

Inside, there was a giraffe that absolutely blew the Boy's mind. The giraffe towered directly over us, eating from his elevated feeder. Staring up from the baby carrier on my chest, his eyes grew huge.

The Boy loves our pets, a cat and dog. He especially loves "Kitty Cat," laughing whenever she ambles into view. I guess a giraffe looks sufficiently like a cat or a dog to trigger an association...but he was clearly trying to process some dramatically new information.

We walked by the elephants, too, and he liked them. Kandula, the elephant born at the Zoo only a few years ago, was playing in his area. He charged back and forth, pausing to crash into some large plastic rings chained to the bars. It made a racket, and got the Boy's attention.

Off to Amazonia. We entered by a very large fish tank with turtles, huge catfish-looking things, and other Amazon river critters. The Boy loved it. I unbundled him, then we went into the rainforest section.

Best of all, I found an empty carpeted conference room just outside the exhibit where the Boy could stretch out, get his diaper changed, and eat a little from his bottle. Another dad with two young sons (and an au pair) came in and we talked about my first week on the job.

The Zoo. You can't beat it.

The Conductor

Step One: Locate CD of a favourite recording of classical music. (I chose Vivaldi's Four Seasons by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Gil Shaham solo violin)

Step Two: Play CD

Step Three: Place the Monkey face up on a nice, soft blanket

Step Four: Conduct orchestra using the Monkey's feet as batons

Hint: Up-tempo music with lots of crescendos and violin solos is a good choice.

Also: This is fun for 5 minutes. Then the Monkey is ready to move on. Keep playing the CD, though: it's a great piece of music.

Clean up in Aisle Four

The Boy and I are getting together with regard to feeding. I think the first couple of days he missed his mama. But he's adapting to the new situation with aplomb. And hunger.

Which brings us to spit up.

Question: The Monkey spits up. It gets on his face and onesie, but also on your shirt, your pants, and the rug. In what order to you clean up?

(a) face
(b) onesie
(c) shirt
(d) pants
(e) rug

Answer: a-d-e-c-b

Discussion: Do the face (a) first, so that you aren't cleaning it up later with a dirty rag. The rug (e) is hardest to clean, but the pants (d) are corduroy, so do them next. Then your shirt (c) and his onesie (b), although they're both a lost cause at this point.

That's the theory, anyway. In practice, I usually start with the floor and work my way back up to the source (a), just as if I were cleaning up a beverage that had spilled from the counter and dribbled down the cabinet face.

Also: You missed the spitup on his trousers (f) and the dog (g).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Getting better?

Another tough day, with the Monkey refusing to take a bottle. Eventually he took a few ounces from a sippy cup, and I got a little sweet potato into him. But he is missing his mama during the day too much to feed.

Not wanting to risk a meltdown away from the comforts of home, I chickened out on a trip to the supermarket.

I did get to take a nap with the little Monkey today, though. I don't know if I have ever taken a daytime nap with him, certainly not for 40 minutes. I didn't sleep: I'm normally not much of a napper, and I got uncomfortable trying not to disturb him.

So I watched him breathe. Deeply and regularly. Reassuringly perceptible, compared to his shallow newborn breaths. Watching his elastic skin inflate, and deflate. Seeing through his skin. Sensing each pulse of his heart as it drives depleted blood ahead of charged blood in perfect circulatory rhythm. Seeing his happy little organs all piled onto one another, clean and undisturbed.

After he woke up, I laid him on the floor to play with blocks while I fixed my mandolin bridge. Music time just got pluckier!

Today's Outing

Does walking the dog count? Oh. What if it was a warm, beautiful walk with bright sun reflecting off the snow, and the Monkey enjoyed it? Rats.

So much for my goal of "An outing every day." It lasted one day.

First Day At Home

Today was my first day at home with the little Monkey.

It was rough.

I started out wrong-footed. The sweet potato gambit worked only too well last night. With a brief interruption for nursing at 9pm, the Monkeyboy slept from 6pm to 3am. That's nine hours, nearly doubling his longest stretch of sleep to date. Normally, he does a 7pm to midnite stretch, then a couple of 3 and 2 hour stretches that bring us to 7am face-grabbing time.

Unfortunately, he did not think to notify the Monkey Daddy of his new plans. So the poor schmuck stayed awake, expecting to give a bottle any time. As a result, I began my first day on the job with 3 1/2 hours of sleep.

He didn't nurse long before Monkey Mama left for work. (She teared up when she did, she later told me.) And the month-old frozen breast milk wasn't doing it for him. (Or was it the way the new bottles were cleaned?) And his tooth hurt. And he needed nap. And then he was too tired and frustrated to eat. Bundling him up to walk the dog in the freezing cold was fine with him, but then that didn't work out because Monkey Mama called and suggested a more recently frozen bag of breask milk. And the dog was whining.

The key to it all, as it so often is, was poop.

Now I promise you as readers and myself as a writer that this blog will not delve too deeply into scatological matters. If experience is any guide, new parents can spend hours and hours talking about poop without repeating themselves. But in this case, poop provides an actual plot point, and can't be avoided.

Anyway, that kind of unlocked the day for us. His mood improved -- he likes being changed, for the social aspect as much as anything. He ate. We had a nice walk. The dog was happy. Everyone napped. (30 minutes was short for both of us, but it was heaven sent.) We went on our outing to the Breastfeeding Center. All was calm. The snow was pretty. I plugged in the Christmas lights.

He refused the next bottle of milk (uh oh), but he ate some sweet potato and water (hooray). He settled in for a couple of hours of griping, teething, and uncharacteristic crying. I must have been stressing him out.

Anyway, Monkey Mama came home, saved the day, etc. etc. and I made broccoli soup while she nursed him to sleep by 7pm. I just gave him his typical midnite bottle, so it's off to bed with me.


First Outing

The Monkey and I made the first excursion of our new stay-at-home phase.

We went to the Breastfeeding Center on K Street. Monkey Mama needed to double up on some supplies so that she can pump milk at work and at home. More of an errand than an excursion, but it's an outing nonetheless.

It was snowing, with a brisk breeze driving the flakes around. This is the first accumulation we've gotten this year. I pointed the Monkey's face into the gray sky, and he saw the flakes a falling. One hit him in the cheek, followed by another on his lip, and he started backward in my arms.

(PS I think I learned how to title a post.)

Monday, December 05, 2005


Today we introduced the Monkey to solid food.
He liked it.
It was messy.

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends exclusively breast milk for 6 months (which the Monkey will be in another week.) He's been sipping water from a glass for months, and has been interested in watching us eat at the table. So we felt the timing was right.

Our pediatrician (who is awesome, btw) recommended sweet potato as a possible candidate for first food. This squares with our instinct that an unprocessed whole food is the right thing for Monkey to start on. (Monkey Mama wants to keep the Monkey's diet strictly organic.) Our pediatrician also said that if we were in Thailand, he would probably be eating chile peppers. The point being that we needn't feel constrained to rice cereal.

Anyway, I don't know how much he ate, and we'll see how the sweet potato agrees with him for a few days before we introduce anything else. (Homemade applesauce is next up.)

Ideally, the sweet potato will turn into a rock in his stomach by night, so that he feels full and rested the whole night through. And yet, it dissolves away to nothing before it hits the diaper.

Odds are against it, though.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Tomorrow, the Monkey Mama goes back to her job as a policy analyst, leaving me at home with the Monkey. Maybe because of that stress on her, or maybe because of the stress I feel about my new role, we had a more-ore-less crappy weekend.

With such a big week in front of us, we should probably have been resting up. But there's no sleeping in with a Monkey tugging at your nose and ears starting around 6:45 am. (He sleeps with us from his last feeding on, usually around 4 am.) And of course there's the house to clean. And Christmas shopping. And putting up the Christmas lights. And our neighbors stopped over, which turned into an impromptu dinner. And there was baby food angst.

At least the Patriots won. And the Christmas lights are pretty.

I also met two couples who live in our neighborhood. One is Bill Crandall and his wife Mariama. Bill hosts the Petworth News blog, and Mariama is expecting. Neat! The other couple, Leslie and James, we met in connection with the Mothers First group that Monkey Mama has been attending. (If I attend, will they have to change the name?)

But best of all, my wife and I treated ourselves to a great dinner. Amazon has scanned the menus for tons of restaurants in DC (and a few other cities). So it's the simplest thing to find a sushi restaurant we like, call in for a take-out order, and bring it back for a nice dinner together at home. With all the running around this weekend, we needed the one-on-one time.

Our delicious meal:
  • Curry lakhsa with chicken
  • Sushi rolls: (1) California roll (2) Tuna avocado roll (3) Spicy tuna roll (4) salmon/cream cheese roll
  • Red snapper nigiri sushi

Accompanied by a 2002 Hogue chenin blanc, of which we recently bought a case (at less than $6/bottle!). There's a certain muskiness to this wine that doesn't make it a good match for every food or every quaffing occassion. But this was a great match; I think the varietal goes well with Asian food.

It was the Monkey Mama's first time eating sushi in over a year, thanks to the pregnancy. And while I was picking up the order, she was taking a hot bath (in a freshly scrubbed tub), with book, wine, candle. The Monkey was sleeping.

So she's got to feel good ab out that one.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


(First in a regular feature.)

1) Take the Boy to wonderful indoor environments: 2) Introduce the Boy to solid food

3) Practice martial arts while the Boy naps

4) Learn/write new songs for guitar, banjo, and mandolin; perform them for the Boy


I cleaned off my desk, but a sign in my office window, changed my voicemail greeting, and installed an email out-of-office auto-reply. I spoke with my closest colleague, my supervisor, and my mentor. I am out of there until June.

It was tinged with a little regret. What if I don't come back? What if I do come back and can't regain my form? Reseach agendas have inertia of their own, but that inertia must also be sustained. And that's what I won't be doing while I take care of Monkeyboy.

Leaving the office today reminds me of locking the door behind me as I moved out of my Adams Morgan apartment in 2001. I was moving to a new opportunity -- the house I bought, with plenty of bubblicious appreciation soon in store. But as I told the open doors, swept floors, and bare walls of that apartment, "I would do it all over again." The twenty months I lived there were great, and I was content to continue with that life. But to let regret interfere with opportunity is unwise.

Now, the opportunities beckon to connect with the Boy, support the Wife (even as she supports me financially), and reinvent myself.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Tonight was a happy hour to celebrate the beginning of my 6 month adventure with the Monkey. Unfortunately, he was feeling a little fussy and congested all day, so Monkey Mama kept him home.

The happy hour was my pal Neil's idea. I had kind of envisioned slinking out of work on a Friday, not with a bang but with a whimper. Fortunately, Neil got all motivated and fired up the email call for happy hour. It was well attended, and I got the feeling that I really did have something to celebrate.

I picked up a burrito for Monkey Mama on my way home, and shared a cab back to the neighborhood with Paul.

Now about that fussy baby...