Thursday, August 28, 2008

On becoming THOSE people

Ah, blessed progress at last. The baby Zantac is having a soothing effect upon Stella's stomach, calming her crazy reflux, finally. It took about a week to finally kick in, but I tell you, this stuff is a god send.

Her stomach no longer grumbles non-stop, roiled. She is no longer spitting up, and swallowing acid back down. She no longer squirms in her crib, or on our bed as she sleeps. She no longer wriggles in pain as I hold her.

I tell you, acid reflux is no joke. It pretty much ruined all our lives for the first four months of Stella's life, and no one even told us about it. We had to find out about it ourselves. So, parents, or would-be parents, if you're kid can't sleep, cries after eating, and writhes around, consider that you might have acid reflux. Your pediatrician probably won't bring it up if you don't, but it could be that.

Now, if we could only get her to drink from her bottle on a regular basis.

In typical Stella fashion we got her a new sippy cup, and the first time out she drained it right down, like she was funneling at a college kegger. I was like, wow. Then in even more typical Stella fashion she's absolutely HATED her new sippy cup every time I've tried to use it after. No reason why, no rhyme or reason to it.

Which brings me to today's post. Are we becoming THOSE people?

You know THOSE people. We all know THOSE people.

They're the people who cut off traffic as they push their stroller across a busy intersection, expecting everyone to get out of their way.

They're the people who sat in the movies behind us, with a little child talking the whole film through. The mom got terribly offended that an irritated patron asked her to quiet her child. "It's okay baby," the mom answered. "You just keep right on asking questions." The film? No Country For Old Men. The showing? 10:00 p.m.

They're the people who take over our local coffee houses, stretch their bodies across the sofa for hours, and let their kids run around, irritating everyone.

They're the people who do nothing but talk about the minutia of their child's life, often larding this chatter with lofty praise for their spawn, boring all our asses. On the flip side they are also overly-involved with their children, making them little into neurotic, tantrum-throwing, spoiled Mini-Mes. They're the dads who flip out and berate the refs, or even other kids, at Little League games. They're the moms who put bumperstickers about living organically on their $50,000 BMW's as they nearly run you over.

They're entitled, they're offended, they expect everyone to pay homage to their child as they do.
We, of course, have been accused of this, even by those who comment in this blog. And the whole issue had that as an element. (Thankfully resolved. The owner of the site, Kerry, simply took the posting about us down, which was a nice way to treat a neighbor. We didn't ask her to, as she has the right to freedom of speech, but she decided, I guess, that it wasn't worth it.)

We try not to be THOSE people. We haven't been to a movie as a family since Stella was born, although Randi went to a mommy 'n me specific showing of Sex And The City, a month or so ago. I missed that one, which is all well and good. I kind of hate SATC, mainly because I refuse to buy Sarah Jessica Parker as a writer. Or Candace Bushnell either, for that matter. But we've hungered to see The Dark Knight, and have said no way, because our crying baby would piss off everyone else who paid $11.00 to watch Heath.

We try to keep in a lane as we walk down the street with our stroller. We try to not assume that everyone finds our baby as cute as we do. We try to not assume an entitled air as we shop.

We try to not make everyone's schedule revolve around ours.

But, some changes in life are inevitable.

I shop for fresh produce more at the Union Square farmer's market these days. I don't know if this makes me an entitled parent, or if it simply corresponds to what entitled parents do. But, damn, those summer tomatoes are tasty!

As noted, at great length, we now get pretty irritated by door to door religion sales-people. More than we used to.

I, of course, also blog about my child's life, which could be seen as one big, entitled action.

We schedule interactions with our friends around whether Stella has had a nap that day. Often, as noted, the answer is no. Meaning we stay inside just a bit too much.

If I'm all used up at the end of the day, from work, being a parent, and general free-floating stress, I might skip on the calls back to family and friends. This rankles some people, sometimes, although most understand.

I guess the real litmus test is yet to come. Stella doesn't walk yet, and she doesn't talk yet, and those thresholds are the real ones that mark the entitled parents from the other ones.

Entitled parents think it's cute when their kid mouths off to you, and they get furiously mad when you try to correct this behaviour.

Entitled parents let their kids run around, even inside, with no concern for anyone else's well-being, or mental sanity. If you ask them to not do this they get mad, again, at you!

Entitled parents treat their child's school teacher like an employee, and refuse to understand that their kid isn't allowed to receive to what amounts to private tutoring, all day. They also refuse to understand that sometimes their child isn't being abused by the teacher, but is simply unpopular with the other kids, because they have no respect for anyone else's boundaries, property or happiness. Randi's seen this one a lot.

Entitled parents always seem to have kids that are allergic to everything. It's amazing that we have survived as a species this long, as so many people are allergic to wheat (only the backbone of human civilization), nuts, dairy and everything else. When I was a kid I didn't know one kid allergic to nuts. Now they ALL are. Except when they're not.

Entitled parents are the ones that give all of the rest of us a bad rap. They're the reason why hipster doofuses sneer at Randi in the coffee shop when she's with Stella, for no good reason.

So please tell me if you see us acting like THOSE people. But be kind. After all, the movie might just be getting started.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Why I Am A Democrat: Warning Political Content Ahead

"I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."--Will Rogers

I know this post might range afield from my usual chronicle of Stella's insomnia, ongoing colds and crying. For that I sincerely apologize. Fear not! I am sure there will be more to report on that front soon. (Although for now, she sleeps.)

Instead, in this political season, I felt moved to write about why I support the Democratic party, and want Barack Obama to be president. I feel that this will have a profound effect upon my baby's life, and that of many other babies, and as such still fits into my over-all theme: stuff that I care about as a new dad.

I, of course, am a Democrat. You probably could've guessed this by the fact that I live in New York, and am a Jew. It's practically a requirement. But I have my reasons anyway.

I have always been fascinated by politics. To this intensely rewarding hobby I credit my older brother Stuart, a lifelong Republican. He has a sharp mind, and was always hot to debate at our kitchen table. Since he is almost eight years older than I am for most of my life I lost the majority of our debates. This spurned me on to learn more.

I majored in government at Wesleyan University, a campus somewhat to the left of Lenin, and Lennon. Here I was considered a conservative by some, amazingly enough.

After college I interned at the office of Congressman David Skaggs (D-Colorado) (no relation to Randi, D-Brooklyn), and a fellow Wes alumni. It was interesting to see the governmental process from the inside: lots of boring requests from constituents and computers so old they looked like leftovers from Wargames. Here I learned that the everyday work of politics probably varies little from office to office, no matter the party affiliation: desks filled with mostly middle-aged women helping their local constituents get things. This, public service, is the meat and bread of most politics, whether for Jessie Helms or Nancy Pelosi. It was far away from the glamour of the campaign trail, which was where I wanted to be. I also realized here that a life fielding requests for free passes to local museums from spinsters probably wasn't for me.

In 1996 I got to know some Boulder/Denver area bigwigs in Rock The Vote, and as a result got to be a driver in Bill Clinton's motorcade when he came to the Mile High City during his re-election campaign. My car was the absolute last one in the whole 20 car motorcade. It was a copper colored Ford Taurus, code-named Straggler Two, by the Secret Service. For two days I had full permission from the President himself to blow through town, often doubling the speed limit, without having had any special driving lessons. Straggler Two was also empty on both days, as all the honchos were secretly ensconced in the first five cars of the 'cade. (A little trade secret.) The rest were mostly for show. I secretly dreamed that Straggler Two had a rocket launcher that I could launch from my control panel, but alas.

For two days of my motorcade duty I sat in the lobby of a hotel with other local party activists/drivers, as we eagerly awaited any news that Big Bill, the POTUS (also a Secret Service nickname, and the first time I'd ever heard it) might want to go to Wendy's. If he did we had to all haul ass NOW. But it wasn't to be, he mainly played golf, and did god knows what else.

The highlight was at the end, when I stood in a greeting line, and Bill came down, person by person, and shook hands with us all, the local wretches. The kicker was that he was supposed to pose with you and you would get a photo of it taken, and sent to you, to keep for life.

And, yes, I met a standing president of the United States.

And it was awesome.

For the 30 seconds I stood there, with Bill Clinton, and shook his hand, and mumbled that I drove in his motorcade I was the center of his universe. I basked in his warmth, his hugeness, his smile, his massive head, tilting down towards mine. This was the full Clinton. He made you feel like you were it, you were what it was all about. He was glad to meet you. He talked to me, I have no idea what he said. A photo flashed. Somewhere there is a picture of this, but I don't have it, as the Clinton team never sent it to me. And then he moved on; it was a hugely satisfying experience. (Utterly different than when I met Jessie Jackson a year later, and received the cold, dead eyes of a fish. Not that I was crazy about Jessie. After all, I am a hymie, and I live in Hymietown.)

And yes, Bill was a flawed, and in some ways tragic figure. I know Republicans hated him for many reasons: Monica, Whitewater, the Bimbo Brigade. But I also know the actual reason they really hated him: because he would fight back and because he would win. Which is why I loved him.

So I am a Democrat. And if anything being a business journalist has only clarified this for me. As I've seen the rich only get richer, and complain that it's still not enough. Meanwhile the rest of us have seen our economic dreams stagnate.

I am for a living wage for all Americans. I don't believe this will kill our businesses, or entrepreneurship. Why? Because I know some of our American states have already done it, like Oregon, and their economy is just fine.

I am for making those who can most afford it pay their fair share in order to fund our tragic mis-adventure in Iraq. Cutting taxes during a time of war, as we did, is a perversion. Specifically, I don't think it's fair that there are some people who make almost all their money from capital gains and end up paying less in taxes (just 15%!) than their cleaning women. This is insane. This is a sign of decay. This needs to stop.

I believe the environment is not a gift given to man from god, but that god created the world so that man could be a part of it. I don't stand behind drilling in our last pristine wildernesses, so oil might drop a few cents, decades down the line. Our environment is all we have, it's our home.

I am a Democrat because I saw New Orleans, my favorite city after New York, drown thanks to George W. Bush's ineptitude, and simple lack of care. This is a crime, this is murder.

I am a Democrat because I believe everyone deserves health care, especially children. People can differ passionately on when life begins, but we can all agree that it doesn't end at birth. It is a disgrace that there are children in this country who don't have real health care, with a real doctor. Who are we, that we don't all agree on this? Insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms should not be writing our health care scripts.

I am a Democrat because I believe gays and lesbians--like Mark Foley, Ted Haggard and Larry Craig--deserve the same rights the rest of us take for granted, including marriage.

I am a Democrat because I believe that while capitalism is the best economic system ever devised I don't believe it is an infallible moral system. And I don't believe the free markets have any incentive to protect things that don't make it money, like, say, endangered species, or forests.

I am a Democrat because I believe in the seperation of church and state, something I have in common with all those dead white males who wrote our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. I also believe we not only have to protect the state from religion, but we have to protect religion from the state; this latter point is what the Founders really meant, by the way. Since there is by law no state-mandated religion there can be no state-mandated interference in my right to practice my religion as I see fit. Or not. It's my choice as an American. I believe that.

I am a Democrat because of Iraq. I believe, no I know, that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with September 11, was premised upon lies, was executed in the shoddy manor of a second grade play, was done mainly for the benefit of the multi-national firms that control the West Wing, and has cost thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi lives, many of whom were, again, innocent children. In the process we have opened up the regime to the sort of vindictive revenge killings that would've made Saddam Hussein proud. I guess some people thought we had to kill the country in order to save it. And yet we ignored the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan for years, even though that is where the Taliban, our actual enemies, were from.

I am a Democrat because I believe torturing prisoners of war is disgraceful, and unwarranted spying on our own citizens is unconstitutional.

I could go on, and on. And I've gone on long enough. This is a watershed moment in American history. The Republican party stands for quite literally nothing right now. It doesn't stand for small government, fiscal responsibility or shrewd foreign policy. It's given all those points away. All you can say for sure is that Republicans, or at least their leaders, believe the rich should pay less and get more, that one they've stuck to. But I think poor children need books more than billionaires need another yacht.

Sorry for the tirade, but Stella deserves a world better than the one we have now. She deserves to know what a healthy forest looks like, and to see us finally, as a nation, try to live within our means. Some will say it's funny to hear a Democrat talk about living frugally, but to that I say we have no other choice. Our addiction to oil will kill us one way or another unless we kill it. If it's not soldiers quite literally dying to protect oil firm's interests and Haliburton's contracts, it's in the atmosphere that traps our greenhouse gasses and strangles us all.

I will wind down now. Good night my fellow citizens, and God Bless America.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Sort Of Fame, I Guess!

Hi Everyone,
Exciting times on the Inter-web here in lovely BBD Manor, that just had to be blogged about.

A few weeks ago, during our endless season of sleepless hell Randi realized that beyond anything else she was really peeved at Jehovah's Witnesses who would buzz during the middle of the day, waking Stella. This annoyed the BBM for a few reasons.

One, is that we are NEVER going to join the Jehovah's Witnesses. Any religion that is against Halloween is not high on our conversion list.

Two, we have no ability to ID who is buzzing. Our intercom is broken, so if we're expecting a package, which we often are (new parents are always ordering stuff) we often buzzed in the JWs, expecting UPS.

It didn't happen every day, but it happened often enough that we realized we were pretty sick of it.

Second, because Stella is the lightest sleeper I've ever met the buzzer itself, if even rung once would set her off. Then she might not sleep all day, which meant she probably isn't going to sleep all night.

So we also realized it might be better if delivery people didn't buzz 10,000 times, as they are wont to do.

Randi, being a pro-active type, took matters into her own hands, and wrote a sign. That sign is at the top of this post.

I didn't know she was going to do it, but when I saw it I thought it was funny stuff, and was happy to leave it up. Anything that PO's religious proselytizers is okay by me. I'm a Jew, after all, and we don't believe in door to door sales.

Not surprisingly about four days after it was posted someone had ripped it off. At the time I was annoyed by this, but Randi seemed non-plussed, saying she could always write another one.

And that was that.

Or so we thought.

Yesterday at work I received an e-mail from a former co-worker that had "Mini Web Celebrity" in the headline. Intrigued I read further. Apparently there is a site called, the e-mail said, and is this post about you? I clicked on the link, and this is what I saw.

There was a whole thread dedicated to Randi's sign!

The whole thing was rife with oddness. For starters the original poster, who runs the site (which apparently is a big success) lives on our block. But we had never met her! In typical New York fashion we have never met most of our neighbors that live a few doors down, and now we were finally being introduced, but only through the Internet. Weird, post-modern irony something going on there.

The second part of it was that we were now sucked into the Internet vortex of comment and rebuttal that we have all read so much about, and heard is so destructive. It was definitely kind of a voyeuristic thrill to see all these people interested enough in our short-lived sign to make all these conjectures about our lives, even if most of the conjectures were wrong and/or negative. And, being frank, I know most of these people probably don't care all that much, they're just bored at work, and looking for something to do. Although I know nothing about that.

Another irony: I am a professional journalist. I have spent most of my career trying to get people to pay attention to things I've slaved over. My last article, for example, was about how Australia is running out of water. I spent the better part of a month on it, and it was tight and painstakingly detailed. You know how many comments it received? None! You know how many comments my other stories have received? Just about none. But Randi dashes off a bitchy-funny note in twenty seconds, and the passions of the Internet are inflamed!

I also thought it was pretty damn fun, to finally be on the other side of the window. It cracked me up.

Naturally I called Randi and told her that she should log onto the site. First she entered it wrong, and went to some other bogus site. I didn't tell her why I wanted her to log on, by the way. Then she got the address right. And this is what I heard:

"Huh!" This was accompanied by the quick intake of breath, on the other end of the phone.

Randi immediately took action. One no-no, our names had not been redacted by the original poster. I don't know the legality of all this (it was a public note, after all) but that would have been courteous of the blogger to do, especially since we ARE neighbors and such. Randi dashed off a pretty peeved e-mail thataway, and soon enough that was corrected. Although I love that many people misread the original note, and wrote about one mister "Sarchuk." So even in my brain-dead mini-web fame my name is misspelled.

Then I had the distinct (mis) pleasure of reading the whole thread, because, you know, I had to. Oh. My. Goodness. Lots of vitriol about us entitled, baby-coddling yuppies, surely written by either embittered single folks, or hipsters in skinny jeans, or at least trying to wear skinny jeans. One sample:

"Well obviously they let the Stork buzz at least once. Guess they felt they got screwed over when they ended up with a satan baby and don’t want to let the bastard in with another lemon."

Pretty mean, I have to say.

But mostly it was people trying to be funny. Because on the web the standards aren't all that high, and a lot of people think of themselves as clever writers. Most of them probably couldn't hack the real thing. So they need an outlet. Fair enough!

After awhile we logged on, and posted back, which always reminds me of my favorite, if horribly politically incorrect statement about trying to win fights online: Winning arguments on the Internet is like the Special Olympics. Even if you win you are still retarded.

And, seeing an opportunity, I of course told the throng over there about my blog. I mean, has a book coming out. I deserve, at least, a pamphlet.

My lasting takeaway? My neighbor really has a kick ass blog. I could learn something.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Easy Does It

The BBD & Stella Rae: August, 2008

So far, so good. Stella got her second round of shots this morning, and tonight she is relatively mellow. Last time she got the shots she had a massive fever, and seemed really drugged. This time she had a mild fever, which Randi treated with Children's Tylenol, and now just seems relaxed, although she continues to stubbornly fight sleep, as always.

In other words, I am really glad we divided up her vaccines.

This was a decision we reached about a month ago. After seeing her in so much pain last time, and being worried about loading her up with so much drek at once, we decided to divide the vaccine dose in half, and instead of doing it all at once do half this month, and half next month.

I think it was the right move. Her reaction is less severely bad, as noted, and we have piece of mind that we're not filling our baby with aluminum, or at least reducing the amount over a longer period of time.

Our doctors at Premiere Pediactrics were completely understanding about it, and Stella's general checkup went well. She's a touch over 16 lbs. and a little over 24" long. She's in her 95th percentile for weight, and 75th for height, meaning she's a little more wide than long, which wasn't really a surprise.

It was a nice day to push the stroller up the few streets to our clinic, near the Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. I am lucky enough to have a job that understands that this is important to me, and allows me to go to these visits. For which I am really grateful.

I have to say, though, that every day with Stella is better than the last. I know I've complained, at length, about the crying, the endless terror, the frustration we've felt because she's as close to an insomniac as any baby can get. But I don't think I'm giving the full picture. Because even amidst all this, she is really just an absolute joy, and the best thing in my life.

When I get home at night, she is often asleep. Of course before not too long she's crying, and fussing, mainly due to this baby version of acid reflux we think she has. I'll pick her up, and in between horrible, acidic burps she'll gradually relax and calm down. Half the time she falls asleep leaned against my chest. It's incredibly sweet, and I have to remember that it won't be too long before I won't be able to hold my baby for as long as I want. That time could even be six months from now, based on how fast she's growing.

She smiles at me, she rubs her head against my beard to scratch herself, she hugs me as I hold her. This is all amazing stuff. I know more amazing stuff is to come, and I will never cease to love her, but I am pretty sure that when she's a teenager she won't rub her forehead against my beard anymore. Mainly because she'll be taller than me, but also because she'll think she's too old. So I better get it all in. Summer time is already more than halfway over, and we have to enjoy every moment of it before it's gone.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Night's Alright ...

True dat, it just is. Spent a nice day in lovely Prospect Park with the BBM, the Brooklyn Baby and our friend Eric Molinsky. Eric is a former roommate from good old Wesleyan University, class of '94, like your author here.

The park is just one of those lovely things that I never seem to get to quite enough. It has lovely concerts, and great rolling meadow, bird watching expeditions, and, yes, the occassional murder, but we don't let that get in the way of our enjoyement. It's especially important for us to get out there as much as possible as the summer is now more than halfway over, and we've spent a lot of it in a dark room trying to get a baby to sleep. That's more that BBM's area during the day than mine, but we kind of have cabin fever.

Stella cried and fussed for a fair amount when we were up there, and hadn't napped at all well this morning, either, but we're beginning to figure out what could be going wrong. The sudden upshot in fussiness after the shots might be linked, possibly to the rotovirus vaccine, as it gives children a live dose of the virus, and some say it's linked to gastro-intestinal reflux, which Stella has pretty bad. She burps a lot, and seems to swallow a lot of burbs that then make her wail when they go back down. The poor thing, it's always something with her. But she's definitely in some kind of major discomfort, and unless we give her the magic gripe water, which only partly works, she writhes and wriggles, which are both symptoms of a rotovirus-related problem.

Which makes us not all that psyched to give her yet another dose of the rotovirus vaccine Monday as we are scheduled to. We aren't against the vaccines, it's just that we've kind of taken out a legal practice in Murphy's Law by this point, and know that if something can go wrong it almost certainly will.

But Stella is what we live for, and we will do all we can for her. Tomorrow we go to Long Island for a trip!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Nice And Quiet

Pretty mellow night over here, in stately BBD Manor.

As predicted, the sleep issue went back into the red zone right after my celebratory blog entry. By this point Randi had cut dairy, nuts, eggs and, I think, food out of her diet, but the little one kept on a-wailin' and a cryin'. My Mom's advice was useful as always: get ear plugs.

But I ignored that, especially as I already have ear plugs from when I was the lead guitarist in the dork-rock band Connecticut.

Still, Stella's crying got pretty bad, and her stomach was tight and rumbling. Seriously, she growled like a little Mack truck, pretty much all night long, and she'd fuss in discomfort. She loved being held up, but would wake herself up when we put her down, from the pain.

We considered calling the doctors on Saturday, but they would tell us there's nothing they could do unless we brought her in. It's not really an emergency if it's been going on for weeks, now is it? And I am also trying to cut down on the extra doctors visits, as they rape you financially for each one.

So we thought about it. Finally Randi read up on a gastro-intestinal problem that some babies have, where they kind of have acid reflux of some kind. And when they lie down it gets even worse, because their stomach acid travels up their esophagus. Hmm, sounded like this could be it.

Like all new parents we've also been forced into the roles of amateur physicians and pharmacists, so in this new if ill-fitting guise, I recommended we buy some new gripe water, and see if it does anything.

Gripe water is a mixture of fennel, chamomile, ginger and sugar designed to soothe baby's stomachs. We'd bought it when Stella went on her month-long crying rampage when she was born and, like everything, it worked for exactly one night. So we gave up on it.

But we figured it was worth one more shot. So, Saturday morning we bought some more, and took it home and fed it to the little one. Immediately her crying got much worse, and then she started burping like the Laurence Welk bubble machine. By that night her stomach was once again soft and normal feeling. She still had green, frothy poop--which she's had for several days, off and on--but we could tell her stomach was finally getting back in balance. It was a blessed relief. That night she slept, pretty much all night, and woke up pissed off, upset at all the action she'd missed.

Things have been a lot better since then. She still gets upset, of course, but now we know that most of her problems are from her stomach. Why? God only knows. This kid is sensitive, and everything that can upset her does.

Saturday itself was spent in the car, checking out property in Montclaire, NJ. You can get more for your money there than in Park Slope, which is roughly as expensive as Tokyo. And it's nice and quiet. And there's a train, and it's nice and quiet, and it's got a lot of culture for New Jersey, and Stephen Colbert lives there and it's nice and quiet ...

But I don't know. New Jersey is what I couldn't wait to escape when I was in high school. NYC, I dreamed, that was where the action was. We used to drive across the George Washington bridge to buy beer in Washington Heights, and lord did that feel badass.

Yes, NJ was a great place to grow up, until about age 14, when I couldn't wait to leave. And then it was four long years later until I did go. It's hard to live in a suburb when you want to be mobile and all you've got is a bike. Stay out until 10:00 p.m., and it's a long, cold bike ride home through creepy, deserted suburban streets.

Yet, Brooklyn is filled with problems. It's expensive, it's cramped, it's snooty in the nice areas and dangerous in the dangerous areas. I make an average salary for the rest of America but in this borough we might as well be on food stamps, if they accepted food stamps at Trader Joe's. (Do they?)

It's a dilemma. One bedroom living is not a long term plan. Two bedroom living is almost impossible to afford unless you try to pioneer a crap neighborhood, which is like a big no way, especially with a kid. Yet if we move to the 'burbs I'll pretty much be living my own petty version of "Groundhog Day" styled Hell, waking up every morning and repeating the same small circle of routine. Although I'm sure it will always be nice and quiet. But there's a certain element of throwing in the towel there.

Either way, we've got to make a decision, and I don't have a strong indication of what's to come. I don't want to leave Brooklyn, but we're not taking advantage of it now, what with our miraculous, non-sleep baby. And to what would I change the title of this blog?

God, there are so many places I would want to live, at least for a while. Edinburgh (at least in the summer), London, California (North or South, I love 'em both), Arizona again (at least NOT in the summer), maybe even the Boulder/Denver area again. And I still love NYC, although sometimes it feels unrequieted. Notice that New Jersey wasn't on the above list. It's so hard to commit to living in a place you're not excited about, when there are so many places that you are excited about.

There are also so many things I would still love to do with my life. I am young(ish), and still want to write, still want to write comedy even. I've always been curious about what it's like to write for a sketch show. This also plays a role in where I would like to live. And although Colbert lives in Montclaire, I don't feel I can and make it happen. He's made it, I haven't. You can retire to the 'burbs if you've made it.

I have been thinking more and more seriously about my dreams, and trying to make them real. I don't want to talk too much about it, unless I can be more specific than I am being right now, but I just can't see suburban home ownership in Montclaire enabling those dreams. I want to be where the action is, where I feel alive. I think the BBM agrees with me. The baby? She just wants a boob, pretty much 24 hours a day. We can do that for her. But what can we do for ourselves?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Me And My Shadow

Quick kids, spot the needy cat!

We are constantly being stalked. The stalker is an eight pound cat named Talisker.

Simply put he is out of his mind with jealousy over this new interloper in our lives. He is the most possessive cat I have ever heard of. By the way he is in my lap right now, sitting here happily. Ah, I imagine he thinks, if only life could always be this way!

The problem isn't just that he's jealous, the problem is that he acts on it. If we leave the bedroom door open he makes a break for it. Often he will run into the bedroom and hide before we can remove him. Then he will get under Stella's crib and make all kinds of noise until she wakes up. Seriously, he likes to wake her up. It's a little psycho.

I mean, he's always been a little psycho. If I pet Cromwell--who perennially looks depressed--Talisker will run over and get in the middle of it. If I am playing with Cromwell Talisker will try to take it over. Occasionally Cromwell will bitch slap him down, but he keeps coming back, like the villain of a really unusual and non-terrifying horror movie.

The problem is that he loves, loves, loves ... me. I've never had a pet glue itself to me before. If I'm on the couch, he's on the couch, if I'm in bed, he wants to be there. If I'm laying down he will often lay on my chest. It's adorable, but I'm also being stalked by a creature that weighs less than a large chicken.

And Talisker is a very goofy cat. For starters he has terrible balance. That thing about cats always landing on their feet? Well, it's not always, I've learned.

He also is completely undignified. If he wants attention he is relentless. I get home from work, and walk into the bedroom, on a typical night. There Randi will be in her customary position, on her side, with Stella feeding. Only then will Talisker bound in, make a bunch of noise, and reach his little paws up to my face. Sometimes he will jump on my shoulder out of nowhere. This would be adorable, except for his horrible habit of never withdrawing his claws. I end up looking like I had a little bit too much fun with the BBM the night before, but sadly it's just my cat.

Other bad habits: he tosses his food out of the bowl for no reason before he eats it. Sometimes this leads to us getting ants.

He likes to eat challah.

The list goes on.

At this stage his constant whining and fussing around Stella--which wakes her up--is starting to really get on Randi's nerves. Cromwell is far more calm and collected. But not the little guy. He will do everything in his power to piss the baby off. And it works!

Ah, one bedroom living! The advantages just keep piling up!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


We call this pose: Minutes From Freedom/Li'l Houdini

Well, maybe I was a little premature with my victory lap of a post last time.

Stella is back to having sleep issues, although they're not as bad as they had been before we purchased the Miracle Blanket. Somehow she's found a way to break free of the almost baby-proof 'Blanket, first wriggling out a leg, and from there getting her arms out. I swear this kid continues to astonish, in delightful and sometimes exhausting ways.

Once she's out all bets are off, and soon she will be back up to her old tricks of flailing around and hitting herself in the face until she wakes up. Happy times.

But it's not all bad. She also continues to astonish in ways that are just kind of astonishing, at least to this first time parent. For instance, yesterday, Randi held her up, and Stella got her face right close to her mom's and tried to lick her on the mouth. She did this for quite a while. It was absolutely adorable, and beautiful, at least from my perspective as a parent.

She is also enormous. She must weigh at least 15 or so pounds, and is probably six inches or so longer than when she was born. Now when I hold her I feel like I'm really holding a substantial human being. True, I still live in fear, too, when I hold her, but now that she can hold her neck upright all by herself I am less afraid. Not to be morbid but that was always the big one with me, that somehow I would hurt her neck. Randi always reassured me that if I were hurting Stella she would find a way to let me know; Stella that is, not Randi. But I was afraid that somehow I could be so horrifically bad with children that I would find a way to hurt her quite badly and do it so fast that she wouldn't even have the chance to cry.

Morbid, yes, I know, but that's how I thought for about the first two months of her life, until she became super good at holding her head up on her own.

But, the crying game continues, if not quite as endlessly as before. She still wakes up at the drop of a hat, if I had a hat to drop. But she's easier to get back to sleep. Often I will pick her up, if I have to and she's not falling back asleep, and walk with her back and forth in our tiny bedroom, letting her rock against me. I always feel like kind of a magician when I see her little eyes start to get heavy, like it's an alchemical transformation.

This is the dangerous time, this time between sleep and wakefulness. If I can get her to really settle in at this point our chances of getting several hours in a row of sleep rise dramatically. To do this I often will keep walking with her for several minutes, until it's crib time. I keep rocking her even as I put her in the crib, which is hard for me, because the crib is really tall, and I kind of have to lift her over the gate and down, gently of course, while rocking her.

Here's how willing we are to try anything in order to get Stella sleeping. The BBM had noticed that Stella's stomach was often tight at night, with gas. Randi read about dairy causing allergic reactions in babies in many cases, so she gave up dairy two weeks ago. Then, last Sunday, I thought, hey I can do that too. So I gave it up. I had a small slice of pizza tonight, against my better judgement, but for over a week I've avoided all dairy.

Tell you the truth, it's been awesome. Less snot in the morning, I wake up less groggy--always a problem for me--and I have more focus and energy during the day. It seems to only make sense.

It's also worked for Stella. She's less fussy, and sleeps better, if only slightly.

On the news front we had a great weekend at my sister's in Connecticut. In addition to the blessing of getting to leave NYC for a couple of days, we also got to spend time with my Mom, sister and her two delightful daughters, aged four and soon-to-be five. The younger niece, Samantha, is a very, very sweet girl who kept on trying to bring toys and things to her cousin Stella. They're delightful kids.

It also didn't hurt that my sister has a lovely pool, and it was great weather on Sunday. I even took my shirt off, which must've blinded some people flying by in airplanes. But it felt great, soaking up the Vitamin D. I needed it. I had read that in cultures where people get more sun there is less diabetes. I didn't know that, kind of blew my mind. I also read that 20 minutes in the sun is the Vitamin D equivalent of 200 glasses of milk. Talk about lactose intolerance.

We drove home Sunday feeling relaxed and happy, like we'd been away on vacation for a week. Ever since reading a book on fussy babies, and learning how common it is we're less stressed out and worried about Stella. We don't love that she's groggy a lot during the day because she won't sleep enough, but we aren't as afraid anymore. She's who she is, and what she is is wonderful, and a gift. Our job is to preserve this gift and make it thrive. We really try to do it.

I guess even if we know there will be some sleep-deprived times ahead we have it all in a little bit more of a perspective now. I think the next step is being able to get away from Stella as a couple for short periods of time. We aren't there just yet. The BBM feels unable to leave Stella with baby sitters even for a couple of hours, as she's so worried about Stella's sleep schedule.

This is too bad, because our three year anniversary is coming up soon, August 7. I would love to take Randi to one of the many fine restaurants our neighborhood has to offer--Al Di La is a favorite--but it's unlikely. Instead we will likely be here, in Stately BBD Manor, enjoying our own company. And it's more than enough.