Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Daddy Has Been Doing

I like the way the Pirate is about to get some grog, and the monkey wants in on the action and has temporarily stowed his wrench in his tail.  Also I dig the jewels.  This is something Jeff was working on for a Lego contest.

I just set up Zack's 529, which I've been meaning to do for about ten months.  Some might say that is a more legitimate accomplishment than finishing a Lego pirate ship.  I am not so sure.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Freedom From the Heat!

We've been having a pretty bad heat wave, and the Valley is always ten degrees hotter.  So it's been pretty tough.

Today, I forgot my phone, and I thought, eh, it won't matter unless I get a same day audition, and what are the odds?  Yep, got one.  Yep, missed it.  I was too busy galavanting with Zack.  Only we weren't galavanting.  I don't think you can really galavant when it's 104 degrees outside.  Our trips to SAG-AFTRA Credit Union and Trader Joe's were cut short by fussiness.  Zack's, not mine, although mine wasn't much better.

But it's a good thing, because then I got home and got my messages and realized I had no time at all to feed Zack and haul us out to Santa Monica.  So I plopped him down and gave him some yoghurt, which he loved.  He has taken to saying, "Mmmmmm," when he likes stuff, and also, "Nom nom nom!"  Just linked that to Urban Dictionary so you can see the many reasons nom nom nom cracks me up.  He really says that.

Except that Zack is a delightful cutie at all times, I was pretty peeved to have an audition.  It meant we were going to miss our little baby swim class at the YMCA.  I don't think Zack will really learn to swim in this class, because that's ridiculous.  But there are three other moms and babies I know in there, and come in, it's 104 degrees.  Plus, auditioning sucks.  I really do hate it.  Working is fun.  Auditioning is lame.

Anyway, great audition, in which Zack got to "act" like he was my baby in the back seat of my car.  Fun stuff.  He wasn't supposed to be there, but he was still fussin', and the camera guy was just cool about it.  He was like, "So, you have a baby in your car.  It could happen."  So Zack got to chew on a water bottle while I tried to park a pretend car.  I'm sure he stole the show.

And then we killed some time in Santa Monica, because oh my gosh, it's sooooo cool there.  What the hell was I ever thinking to live in California NOT by a beach?  So silly.  The breeze blew away our fussiness.  I fed Zack in the park.  He had his favorites:  broccoli and whole wheat bread.  And some jar food.  And he watched kids play.  And we met another little red headed seven-month-old named Clementine.  It's so fun to meet other red-headed babies.  Having a red head is an opportunity for people to talk to you, really.  It's kinda fun.  So I talked to these parents about how everyone talks to us about our red heads.  They were like these tattooed, rocker, Venice Beach parents.  Me likey the freaks.

Then Zack and I came home and had a perfect bed time.  They get better and better.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


We'll get some fun pictures up.  For now, I just want to say, weekends are the best.  We spent some time with Zack out on the front lawn today, and he's ridiculous fun now.  He's a non stop party.  I love that kid so much.  He's crazy goodness.

Weekdays, Jeff and I really don't get to see a lot of each other, because our work schedules are so different.  So weekends are great, and weekdays are fine, but sometimes tough--especially since my job is a major stressor.  Someday, the weirdos I work with will seem funny to me, but right now, it seems all I do is complain about them.  Jeff is a bit of a saint to listen, but I think his last job experience gave him empathy for somebody in a position like mine.

But I have to be very, very grateful this year, because I still have a job.  This week at work, many of my friends and coworkers lost 30% to 50% of their hours.  It was quite painful.  One teacher said it will force him into retirement.  Another one doesn't know how he'll "meet his obligations."  Out of sheer luck, I remained on a pristine little island and my job is unchanged.  Since I'm funded by a special federal program, and the program has been reauthorized for next year, I'll be measuring student outcomes and justifying the school's existence and entering all that information into a gigantic database and sending it off to the state and federal government, just like always.  But it can't last.  There will be fewer classes and fewer students, and therefore, fewer outcomes to measure and less data to enter, so I'm sure they'll cut the job eventually.  I just got lucky this time around!

Scary and exciting times Zack has been born into.  Jeff and I are fortunate to be employed and fortunate not to have bought houses--not like that was part of any master plan or anything.  I'll be spending most of this year trying to get another job.  Well, maybe I'll get one soon and it will only take part of the year.  My job has been great in terms of acting, going to graduate school, and now taking care of Zack.  I don't think I could have found another that's part time, paid as decently, and came with the ostensible satisfaction helping people every day.  Well, there's prostitution of course, but that has so many risks and drawbacks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Monster Mess

Yep, poop in the tub.  I know many parents have been there, and there's probably no need to belabor the point:  it's a bad scene.

I noticed it first on the towel, then on Zack, then on the sheets.  Hm...maybe another bath?  Nope, tub's fulla poo.  Okay, let's get Homeslice changed.  Wow, what still smells?  Oh, it's my clothes, covered in poo.

Just put the boy in the Intellipooper (cause it's safe now) and cleaned up the aftermath.  Much laundry.

AND--thanks Jeff, for putting the Cuisinart blade in the dishwasher.  I was trying to staunch the flow of blood from my left middle finger all during this poopalicious episode.  See, Jeff and I have different philosophies about the dishwasher.  Nevermind what mine is.  That's not the issue here.  His is that the dishwasher should do all the work.  He's good at dishwasher geometry, I'll give him that.  He can fill that thing like nobody's bitness.  But well, some items should get a hand wash.  That's what I believe, is all.  I'm not gonna push my beliefs on anyone.  You know, live and let live.  But let's leave the spiral shaped blade out of the silverware bucket, mkay?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ten months. Ten pictures.

Julie had a photo shoot on Zack's 10-month marker day last Friday, and this was as far as I could winnow down the pictures.

We usually refer to his crawling style as "the pegleg," but for these shots I prefer "the crab."

These last three are called "I'm going to get that camera!"

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Amid the Lilacs

A little trip to Descanso Gardens a few days ago.  Ten month pics coming up soon....

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Our Week Off

Yay!  Video.

Okay, get ready to be amazed.  Here is Zack playing with a ball, and well, you may actually hear him say, "Ball."  Also, brace yourself for the face plant at the end of this segment.  I know that's a little rough, but I think it shows a lot about how he's been doing lately.  The crying from any little stumble like that only lasts a few seconds.  Jeff and I both have the same philosophy of reacting to that stuff, which is to make sure there's a complete lack of drama.  So even though inside we're thinking, "Poor Zack!"  And then, "Awww...he looks adorable when he's upset!" we only say, "Yes, you took a little spill," or something like that.  Then, it's no big deal, and playing resumes immediately.

Marc makes Zack laugh.  Sometimes.  Other times,
Marc makes Zack look confused.

Jeff is off for most of this week, and I'm on Spring Break.  So we've been taking care of some business around the house and playing with Zack.  We've been trying to deal with child proofing.  First priority:  securing the cables on our new television!  We're so practical.

The other night, I got the last bit of the internet madness fixed, and I was ecstatic to have a fast connection.  So there I was surfing the internet, while Jeff perused the new TV's features.  This lasted for maybe three hours.  Then we looked up from our respective screens.  It's a happy marriage, folks!

Oh, and I cannot believe I haven't been shouting this from the rooftops.  We had three hours to ourselves because Zack is sleeping through the night!!!

Forgive the indulgence with the exclamation points.  But really, three is not enough.  We did it!  We night weaned him, and then we had one rough night of checkins with some crying.  But the second night, we did not even have to check in once!  He's sleeping on his own and he can get himself back to sleep if he wakes up.

It's like a miracle.  I'm soooo proud of him.  And of us.

I still kind of miss sleeping with him, but in his new phase as a mobile baby, he will not drift off peacefully.  As long as there is someone there to play with him, he will play and play until he drops.  And then he won't actually drop.  He'll just keep playing with his eyes half shut.  He's actually fallen asleep several times now, sitting up in his crib.  So it's just not possible to co-sleep at this point.  Fortunately, bed time is great now.  Since we tackled that a few months back, he goes down very easy and just babbles in the crib for a bit.

Now that I'm with him in the mornings, I'm also realizing he's waaaaay off on naps.  I've been pretty mellow about naps and scheduling.  But I guess Zack never takes one in the morning at daycare, since he's so busy playing.  At home, he has been napping by the book.  So we have to fix that!  I didn't want to get uptight about the nap stuff, but now I'm thinking the kid's been somewhat chronically sleep deprived.  Whenever I pick him up, he just crashes in the car.  It's suboptimal.

Today I put him down for his first nap, and when I checked on him, he was on his feet, looking in the closet door mirrors, jumping up and down.  It was awesome.  Then he started to fuss, and I did do a little soothing and nursing, and he slept for two whole hours.  So clearly he does need a mid-morning nap.  He just has to be absolutely convinced that he needs it.  I'm not sure if daycare can actually fix this one, but I'm going to work with them on it.

This was Mommy's birthday party!  This is an odd picture, but I like it because it gives an idea of the general chaotic vibe.  Pictured are Jessie (with Duncan inside the yellow shirt), the back of Tekla's head, Bruce, Zack, Julie, Marc, Darlene and Kelly, Stephanie and Birdie, Sarah and Lucy...and maybe some extras from the gigantic party for a one-year-old at the next tables over.  Turns out if you're a Mexican toddler, our local park is the place to be on your birthday!  Marion managed to snag a spot for us.

Bruce making Zack laugh.

Natalie managed to get her butt in the baby swing.  I'm not sure if there's an award for this, but there should be.

Marion and Jason.  I just think this is a nice picture of them.  As you can see, we had fantastic weather for the party.  Unfortunately, Baby Wes decided that the party was optimal nap time and had to leave.

Since I'm off work, we took Zack to infant and toddler story time at the local library.  I can usually not make this event, since I'm working.  It was really fun, even though it was total chaos!  Zack had a great time.  One LA note:  many nannies were there.  I know I keep mentioning the Hispanic population where we live, but it is interesting to see a 40-year-old Guatemalan woman with a little tow-headed baby.  We just looked at a house a block away from us--it cost close to a million dollars.  And at our local park, I often see $900 strollers.  So that's where we live, in an apartment that for some mysterious reason is one of the least expensive in all of LA.  Oh wait, I think I figured out the mysterious reason:  it's kinda crappy.  But cute!

Another thing I learned at infant and toddler story time is that Mommy is a SAP.  Yep.  When the librarian was singing the shake your body song, at the end part, where you shake your body and walk around and say hello to your new friends...well, I almost lost it.  I loved seeing all those little babies walk around and say hi to each other.

I had a similar reaction at Avery's birthday party.  Avery's brother, Jack was grousing and crying about how he wanted a certain seat.  Avery did not want to wear her birthday crown.  Robyn couldn't get the lighter to work to light the candle on the cake.  It looked like there would just be a complete implosion at this key point in the party.  And then the candle got lit and everyone sang Happy Birthday, and guess who almost started crying?  It just seemed so cool--family life!

Hey, this one's on sale.

After story time, we took Zack south to the Citadel Outlets, located at the intersection of the Five Freeway and all my memories from childhood.  We used to pass this place every trip to LA from Orange.  It looks like a giant Babylonian temple.  It's now a mall.  I had never, ever been inside until yesterday!

We had to get Zack some clothes.  Until now, we haven't had to buy him really anything, but we were almost completely out of PJs that did not fit him like a tight little sausage casing.  And Elsa, his main lady at daycare, doesn't like to dress him in tight pants.  We got him six pairs of "Roomy Comfy" pants for a two-year-old at the Carter's outlet store.

Chocolate mousse cake we had yesterday.
And I had today.  For breakfast.
My "It's my birthday so I can eat anything" mentality 
has been in effect since Sunday.

Jeff went to pick up food and picked up a ball for Zack, which was a hit!  He spent the entire visit at my folk's throwing this thing and then chasing it around and talking.  So much fun for $1.09!
So yesterday was story time, outlet shopping, and visit to my family.  AND, in the morning, we heard a new word.  We really could not get over this one.  As I was leaving our room to get the phone, I could have sworn I heard Zack say, "Water."  He was playing with Jeff's water bottle.  Water bottles are probably his second favorite toy, after this new ball.

Jeff said, "Did he just say water?"  Then we heard it several more times!  The weird thing is that I was getting the phone to call Arrowhead Water and straighten out our order for today.  So Zack kept saying, "Water!" and messing up the phone interaction with the Arrowhead robot customer service system.

Later, Jeff was filling up Zack's sippy cup, and Zack again said, "Water!"  It was so clear.  The feeling of amazement I have when I hear this is totally disorienting.  Jeff said, "Yeah, it's like seeing a ghost or an extraterrestrial creature or something.  Like something you've heard about but never believed in."  And that's really it.  I knew the kid would talk, but seriously?  He's talking?

He doesn't seem to accumulate words yet.  We hear these things, and then the next day it feels like we dreamt it, because he doesn't repeat himself.  Today we heard "Mama" again clearly.  But it's not like he starts using a word and then continues using it regularly.  It's still like a flicker, like we're getting some flash of reception from far away, and then back to jumbled static.  Except the jumbled static is actually still pretty charming.

Here's some fun footage of Zack trying to stand.  He is so determined.  He has also started cruising along furniture.  I have written a lot in this post because this video takes for-EV-ah to load.  So I hoped you enjoyed my chatty run down of the last few days.

Freaking's loaded!

Oh, and one more thing.  I've pretty much been thinking all along I would nurse Zack for the full first year, and I still believe we'll get there.  Nursing has been easy and enjoyable, for the most part.  I'm just sick of pumping at work, and I'm finding I want a little personal space back.  But yesterday, he bit Mommy soooo hard that he actually broke the skin, and I bled onto my shirt.  It was a pretty bad scene.  I had to hand him over to Jeff right away, because I was so upset.  I think I actually said, "You little bastard," which is something of a low blow, since you know, Zack really is a bastard.  But in a good way.  So I'm less inclined to believe we will go past one year of nursing, and more and more I'm thinking we'll get him onto cow's milk in a couple months and I will pack up the nay nays.  But we'll see!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Avery's Birthday Party

Zack went to a baby play date to celebrate Avery's birthday.

I like how you can see Leyla in the background chewing on another toy.

The birthday girl

Wow...this is all posting so fast.  I can't believe we lived without a fast internet connection for so long.  It feels like waking from a nightmare!

Uh...speaking of waking, that's what Zack is NOT doing now.  He's been asleep for four hours and fifteen minutes, which is a record for recent months.  We've weaned him off night feedings and he's sleeping in the crib.  That's a lot progress.  I'm so proud of him.  And of us.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Last night we all went to bed early and slept just about through the night, with a few minor interruptions from Zack. Even Jeff went to bed at ten.

Here's a more typical night for us:

Julie wakes up at 3 a.m. and comes into the kitchen, where there is a fierce, bright light. Jeff is photographing his pirate pod racer Lego creation. He's got the dining room set up like a professional photographer's studio. Julie wanders around like the living dead, pumps some milk, checks email, fiddles with the internet for a while.

It's no wonder Zack isn't on a strict night schedule. Schedules are for squares.

I don't think the lack of sleep involved in having a baby got to us as bad as most people. I was in graduate school just about until the night before Zack was born. And Jeff just doesn't keep a schedule or really believe in sleep, it seems to me.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Yay internet.

The cable dude came back again today with a partner and completely recabled our apartment.  Turns out the lines were damaged, possibly by plumbing issues beneath our place, and definitely by squirrels chewing the lines above our place.


So I am currently enjoying some speed on the connection.  Hoooray.

Zack smiled like crazy at the cable guys.  You know, that whole adorable baby for strangers routine--little showoff.

I think it was Sunday that Zack played ball with me.  I rolled a ball to him, and he got the game and rolled it back.  His version of rolling the ball back is holding it up high until it drops and bounces to me.

More and more like a 100% sentient being every day!  So cool. 

I also got Zack more books at the library.  Yesterday when I went to pick him up, he was asleep.  He's usually asleep now that I have a new work schedule.  I no longer work Saturdays!  So I took advantage of his nap to hit the library, which is right near daycare.  I got a new card and a whole bunch of board books.  Zack, unfortunately for me, preferred his old books!  But tonight he warmed up to a few of the borrowed ones.

He has been going down to sleep more and more easily.  We are slowly crib training him and training him to sleep through the night.  I hope what we're doing works.  So far, he has gone back to his old peaceful night routine.  After a bath, some playing, some nursing, and stories, I've started telling him that he's going to bed and giving him a big hug and a lot of kisses.  I do the whole rationalization about how awesome it is to go to bed, because then you get to wake up tomorrow ready to play some more.  And well, it's working!  He goes in the crib and he gets himself to sleep.  Tonight he chatted to himself for a while, and then O-U-T.  Great stuff.

He is still waking up several times a night to eat, so Jeff is feeding him only from a bottle for the first couple night feedings.  We're lessening the ounces every time.  The result so far is that Zack has acclimated to the smaller feedings, and then when my shift comes around at 3:00 a.m., he is completely ravenous.  Plus after those unexciting bottles, the boobs make an appearance and it is just a lot of general excitement.  He's eating a huge meal at 3:00.  I tried to shorten it last night, and he woke up at 4:00 and then 5:00.  Oh, and then 6:00.

But we'll get there.  I really want him to sleep through the night, but my unwillingness to let go of co-sleeping with him interfered.  I only wanted the evenings to myself.  Once I got that, sleep training stopped for us.  I just loved having Zack sleep next to me.  I will really miss it.  And I'm sure I'm not completely through with it.  It's just too great.

But at the moment, he is soooo into crawling that he actually wakes up in motion.  If he's sleeping next to me now, the way I know he's awake is that he is on his way out the door.  Seems slightly dangerous.

So we put him in the baby cage!  And he's actually starting to like it, I think.

He has also fallen asleep twice sitting up.  He is just so into moving around these days that he will play and play until his eyes just close.  So far in his short life, he's been a baby who went to bed at his bed time, and it wasn't something we had to enforce.  But now it is!  So I'm really happy we did the minimal sleep training, because it made it easier to just put him down awake and walk out the door.

I haven't heard "Mommy" in a while, so now I wonder if it really happened.  Today when we were playing ball, I said, "Ball," and he said, "Ba!"  It's more the tone that seems like he's imitating me.  Yesterday, he bit me really hard on the shoulder.  I said, "NO!" and he shrank a little.  Then he said, "Na!" and it really seemed like he was imitating me.  So funny.  First time I've ever raised my voice to him.  But hey, those teeth are sharp!