Wednesday, October 8, 2008

First(ish) Feeding

We just tried to give Stella some solid food. It's not exactly the first time we've done it, but it's the first time I saw it. The very first time was when Randi froze some breast milk and gave it in a kind of slushy form. That actually went over really well. The second time was some Cream Of Rice. Before this I didn't even know Cream Of Rice hot cereal existed. Stella really liked that too, and got food all over the place.

But it upset her stomach something fierce, so we decided to beg off.

The plan this time was to mash up some avocados, and give those. We thought it would go well, since she's been eyeing all our solid food with a hawk-like attentiveness for about the past month.

To get it all ready I took the high chair my sister had given us, and brought it upstairs to our apartment. It had been in the basement of our building. We are lucky in the sense that while our apartment is a decent size, by one bedroom Park Slope, Brooklyn standards, we also have a basement where our landlords allow us, and the other tenants to store equipment. Most of the space had been claimed before we got here, but there was still some room, if we made it, for some odds and ends. As a result we have some old suitcases down there, and I had stored an extra guitar amp down there (as if I needed another), in addition my rucksack from when travelled the world, and used to do some back country hiking. The rucksack itself has sat in the basement now for four years, smushed into a corner, getting ever dustier and dirtier. I wonder if I'll ever really use it again?

But, anyway, back to the main topic. I had stashed our high chair down there. The reason was because even though it's a chair for a little baby it takes up an enormous amount of space. And even though it folds it somehow keeps unfolding at random times, and was kind of the bane of my existence.

Like most things baby-related it is made of a combination of plastic, cheap metalish tubing and fabric. Three things that are almost impossible to recycle. It also has a removable tray that, once installed, takes up even more room.

If it seems like I'm really making a big deal out of the space saving issues, well, I am. For those who don't live in New York, it might be impossible to communicate just how efficient one has to live in order to merely have any breathing room at all. I have often compared it to living on a submarine. Every single aspect of our apartment has been calibrated to fit as flushly against our various walls as possible. As I noted in this blog long ago I built a bunch of new shelves before Stella was born, so we no longer need space-hogging book cases. Our couch is kind of a starter model, but it was the only one that would fit up our crooked, ancient stairwell.

Our desk is a particle board student-sized job that is wedged into a corner of our living room, and our kitchen table is about 2' by 2'.

But all this was okay until we had Stella. As I've noted, I am sure, many times it's amazing just how much space one little baby takes up. Her crib is almost as big as our queen sized bed. Her changing table/bureau is almost as large as the dresser that Randi and I share.

So, anyway, to get back to the main topic once again, I brought the high chair back up from the basement, as it clinged and clanked against the walls going upstairs, almost as wide as the stairwell. Virtually everything is almost as wide as our stairwell. Some morning I am almost as wide as our stairwell, I feel.

But get it up I did, and soon Stella was ensconced inside it. The avocado was mashed up, the spoon was ready. I even had our little video camera ready to film the historic event.

Everything was ready except Stella. She simply refused to have any and all avocado at all, I was kind of amazed. First Randi tried it, then I tried it, it didn't matter. She wanted nothing to do with it. Back to the drawing board, I suppose.

I am not too surprised or put off by it. She's just a baby, she doesn't know what she likes yet, and if she did know she still wouldn't be able to tell us.

After that I picked her up as Randi searched the Web, and held her in my lap, facing me. For a while we were looking into one another's eyes, which is something nice that I would like to do more. I feel that with work, and her sleep schedule, I don't see her as well or as much as I would like. As a result sometimes I feel like I sometimes am getting left behind as she sprouts up.

Soon she shifted from gazing into my eye to shifting around a little. Then she started to get a little cranky, made a face and and unleashed a massive poop. One diaper change later she was all smiles, once again. I don't change as many diapers as Randi, but I've changed more than I ever thought I would. And it's nice that I get to do this.

Now Stella is asleep on our bed. We have a new white noise machine that we had recently bought, and it's whirling away. It sounds like a combination of a dishwasher and a jumbo jet. We got it because The Sleep Sheep (TM) really wasn't cutting it, unfortunately. It shut off automatically after 45 minutes, which was too short, and it burned through batteries. Which is kind of the central paradox of all this baby stuff. It all looks so cute, and cuddly, but this stuff clogs landfills sea to shining sea, and devours batteries. It was still such a kind gift, but we needed to go heavy duty with this kid.

The jury is really still out as to whether the new white noise machine does anything for Stella, though. She still wakes up multiple times during the night, and whines until Randi gets her back to sleep, often via the boob. She even fell asleep with the boob in her mouth. Eventually Randi turned on her stomach, and faced away and just went to sleep. Amazingly, Stella fussed for about another minute and then went to sleep herself. I was pretty much asleep the whole time. The white noise machine might not be doing much for Stella, but it knocks me out cold.

Now we're watching the news, as I decide what to have for breakfast. Outside our window is the ever-present scream of construction, as half our block gets knocked down, and rebuilt in condominium form. Condos that just might never get sold for what the builders hoped, given how our economy tanked. To which I can only say, ha ha!

I sometimes feel like I'm holding my tongue on this blog as the financial services industry melts down, and the political season is upon us like a lion. These are exciting times, and they will effect us all, and all our children. As an editor at a financial web site, I have a window seat to the whole meltdown, and it's astonishing. Maybe I will talk about it here, or maybe I will make another blog to talk about it. (Any thoughts from out there?)

But America is going through the kind of shift that only happens every few decades, no matter who is president, or what plans they put in place. Wall Street, as we knew it, no longer exists. What will come in it's place nobody knows. Most people have seen their 401ks shrink 30% in the past year or so, if not more. Mine sure has gone down. I keep telling myself I am going to transition into holding more bonds, or even more inflation-adjusted bonds, but I haven't done it yet. We think about buying a place, but it's hard to get a loan now, and amazingly housing is still over-priced in New York City.

My feeling is that we have a long time to go before things right themselves. The "rescue plan" won't save this ship. It's like trying to bail water out of the Titanic with a bucket. Many more places will go out of business before this is over.

And, eventually, this will hit New York City. A lot of the people who drove up home prices here were Wall Streeters who needed somewhere to park their enormous bonuses. Well, a lot of those people don't have jobs anymore, and see themselves holding diminishing assets. On the other end a lot of speculation from overseas also drove up American and New York real estate prices. As the dollar strengthens, which it eventually and inevitably will, a lot of foreign speculators will leave town, losing a little money today versus losing a lot tomorrow. Yes, they've been fighting this readjustment with all their might, these homeowners and speculators, upset that they only made, say, $100,000 on their investment, when they expected, and feel they deserve, the $300,000 profits they could have earned two years ago. This will change.

And, eventually, this will put housing prices in New York much more in line with salaries. It might take a long time, but it will happen. Life here will never be cheap, but it might be a good deal more affordable before not all that much longer. Maybe in a year to two years, I would like to think.

Oh god, there is so much more to talk about. The presidential race, for one. God, who isn't riveted by this? I sure am. Also the Fed just lowered interest rates again, meaning, if nothing else, more inflation. Stock up on canned goods!

But there's no more time this morning. Off to eat, shower and work. Talk to you later.


Anne Stesney said...

First solids are quite exciting! Walt couldn't stand rice cereal. He loved avocado, but only if it was pureed into almost a cream. As he got older, I made it chunkier. it's still a favorite.

I think you should talk about the financial crisis here.I'd love to read the perspective from someone who's actually reporting from the trenches.

Randi Skaggs said...

As an update -- Stella now is digging the avocado. She makes a sour face when it first goes into her mouth, but then gobbles it up.

I really wasn't too worried that a daughter of mine wouldn't like to eat.

David Serchuk said...

Okay, Anne, your wish is my command! The Meltdown According To Dave is up!