The bath

Yesterday we gave Leo his first bath in a couple weeks. He had started to like baths previously but he probably forgot because it’d been so long since we bathed him. Immediately upon getting in the water he started crying.

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Caleb and I still do the baths together because baths are very complex. We have developed a pretty simple bathing method: take the baby’s clothes off and dunk him in his little baby tub. But before we came up with our method or before we washed the baby for the first time I was nervous so I asked my friends how to do it. I think I was hoping they’d say “don’t worry just put him in the tub”. But that wasn’t what they said. Hilary likes to steam the bathroom so the baby will stay warm when he gets out of the tub. Dan emailed me a very complex method that involved 9 steps and lots of towels. Then he emailed back and suggested I just put the boy in the tub. And that is what we have been doing.

So yesterday once we put the boy in the tub and he started crying, I noticed Caleb hadn’t cleaned the tub because there were all these brown flecks in it. This was highly annoying since it was Caleb’s job to prepare the tub. You probably guessed it, Leo had actually pooed in the tub, but my mean instinct was to blame Caleb. I took the baby out of the tub so Caleb could clean the water because it is no use washing the boy in poo. As I was holding Leo my stomach suddenly felt very hot. I looked down and the boy was peeing on me. My comeuppance for blaming Caleb.

Coo coo

Look Leo loves Christmas! This was taken right before Christmas dinner.

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Ok Christmas was awesome. Who knows why I was stressed out beforehand. Caleb has promised to blog about Christmas, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up given Caleb’s blogging record so far. My hopes are up but I am an eternal optimist. Since Caleb will write about Christmas, I’ll write about cooing.

We read in the books that the baby may coo at around this age. Neither of us were really sure what cooing was, but were excited for Leo’s next milestone. A few days ago Caleb mentioned to me that Leo loves to have his diaper changed. And it’s true. Every time we change Leo’s diaper these days he seems to look at us and smile and smile. Caleb’s theory was that Leo loves to have his man parts flowing in the wind. My theory was that he likes to have his mommy or his daddy looking at him because I can look down at him and smile and he smiles back even when we aren’t changing his diaper.

When, yesterday, we asked the doctor what this mysterious cooing was, she explained that it was indeed hovering over the baby and having him try to talk back. This seems to be the activity he is engaging in when getting his diaper changed. Here is the baby cooing at his uncle Sammy and at me in the second picture (no diaper changing going on).

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The doctor visit was very exciting. First of all, I love our doctor, Dr. Chaet. Not only does she seem very on the ball, but she has this cool mannerism where it seems like she is shouting everything she says. Leo’s growth pattern has continued on, he is long and heavy (12.5 lbs) but his head is now in the 20th percentile, down from the 25th. This worries me more than it should. Mostly I just hope he looks ok. I’m not sure why I’m worried, I’ve never been insecure about my own small head. In fact, I never knew my small head was noticeable. But when I expressed my concern, Doctor Chaet commented on my small head in her big voice — I SEE YOU HAVE A SMALL HEAD TOO and then turned to Caleb AND YOUR HEAD IS ON THE BIGGER SIDE.

Dr. Chaet also gave us lots to look forward to. The baby should be able to sleep 5hrs in a row soon, then 6hrs in a row next month, and then at some point a little too far away to count 10hrs a night! Also, just like I was surprised to see crud behind Leo’s ears, she mentioned that babies accumulate crud between their many chins. Thankfully, he his no crud yet but we should expect Leo to have his most chins between four and six months at which point we should be cleaning between them frequently. Finally, we took a survey to make sure we weren’t putting Leo in danger of common accidents. Most of them we were aware of, hot beverages, falling off the bed, airbags … but she mentioned that someone had run over their child in the driveway! Scary.

Here is Leo, two months old and with only two (or maybe three) chins.

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To Cheryl and Mom, am I in the club yet?

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It is our first Christmas as a family. Caleb and I have been real excited about making Christmas our own. For most of my life Christmas has been a day for people to lavish gifts on me. So yesterday, I was surprised to discover something that mom’s always seem to yak about at Christmastime. Stress.

I went to bed with a stress headache thinking about all the stuff I need, or want, to get done today. I woke up just as anxious. First chore was finish Christmas shopping. At 8:15 I told Caleb I didn’t have time to wait for him to get out of the shower so I was taking the boy with me. First stop was cost plus world market. The people there were particularly unhelpful to my lingering pregnancy brain. First they wouldn’t sell me wine because I don’t have a driver’s license. (I left it somewhere about a month ago and haven’t had the energy to face the DMV to get it replaced.) They were even less helpful when I asked to use the phone because I had locked my keys and baby in the car. To me, this doesn’t sound like the kind of request that deserves the answer “it’s against our policy to let people use the phone”. Luckily I have a happy baby so he just sat there and smiled in his car seat while we waited for Caleb to come. Also, luckily, Caleb has a drivers license and could go in and buy some wine after he unlocked the car.

Second stop Crate and Barrel. Of course, Crate and Barrel isn’t open until 10, so I spent 45 minutes wandering around the Stanford Shopping Center and calming down. I called my good friend Katie. Katie has already appeared in this blog because she was nice enough to fly out from NY and throw me a baby shower in September. On the phone, she mentioned that she didn’t get the cute Christmas picture that I had sent to everybody else. Most likely, I didn’t send it to her. I told her the Christmas cards were only for my good friends. Actually, the most likely reason she didn’t get it is because I only made it about halfway through the Christmas card list and then figured I’d better at least send the cards I’d addressed. The list was not ordered, so the situation were in now is something like uncle gets a card but aunt doesn’t. But for all of you who didn’t get cards here it is scanned into my blog post. Note the spelling mistake in the word “Season’s”. The DIY program I made this with had a character limit and the “-“ in “-Johanna, Caleb & Leo” seemed more important the correct spelling at the time.

When I got home from Crate and Barrel my perfect husband was halfway through cleaning the house. Now Kate and Rich (our Christmas visitors) won’t get to see our cardboard collection, except in this picture. Nor will they have to help me clean the poopy baby clothes.

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So left on my agenda is planning Christmas dinner, finishing Leo’s quilt, oh yeah and feeding the baby 100 more times. The one item missing from the agenda, since I’m not in Boston, is baking my mom a birthday cake. Sammy and Cheryl will get to do this without me this year. When I was walking around the Shopping Center waiting for the store to open, I noticed that Leo has some disgusting crud behind his ears. I think we’ve missed that spot in the four baths so far. Now that I am feeling more and more like I am in the mom’s club, I’ll sign off by saying,

Happy birthday mom! Don’t forget to wash behind the ears.

Grandpas

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Grandpa Ken came to visit last weekend. Leo clearly loved his visitor as much as he loves any other warm body. You can see he quickly fell right asleep. We’re hoping that Leo will be more discriminating the future, but now it is pretty nice how he just about likes everybody. Ken said that holding Leo reminded him of holding little Caleb. Aw.

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Ken also came with a bunch of presents from Caleb’s family. I’m not sure why weren’t more on the ball, b/c pretty obviously if grandpa comes to visit the week before Christmas, it’s time to exchange gifts. So we had to rush around Sunday morning to get our presents for Ken to take back to LA. Well Caleb rushed around and Ken and I went to the farmer’s market.

Here is our little brusell sprout baby. Leo’s stroller often serves as both a shopping cart and a baby carrier. A guy at the farmers market who was giving out tastes of Asian pears told me that my stroller was “old school”. We also think it is “old school” if that means the same thing as Swedish. It does seem quite different from the car seat strollers that everyone else has and we are quite lucky to have it. A Swedish family (ok a blond family with foreign accents — the stroller brand was Swedish) sold it to me at a yard sale last summer. It was a bit grungy and I almost didn’t buy it. The guy was basically like “what the hell is wrong with you, I paid $400 for this thing and it’s awesome”. It was a convincing argument and definitely the best $10 I have spent in a while.

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While we were at the farmer’s market I ran into Sherry from work who was with her one year old daughter. Our conversation quickly degraded in to child worries. She’s worried about Autism. Me too. That’s why I’m not eating fish. So when I said Autism is scary b/c the kid is ok until he turns two and then becomes Autistic, Sherry mentioned that I would have these worries Leo’s whole life. That, in fact, she had a boss who son was schizophrenic but he showed no signs of it until he was 17. Anyway, it seems like I should just go back to worrying about SIDS.

Speaking of grandpas and fish, my dad has been in the hospital for a couple days now and we’re all worried about him. Get better dad! The doctors are still trying to figure out what is wrong. He has an irregular heart beat and some issues with his diabetes. He had some moments of seeming a little tired and delirious on the phone, but also is still acting like his same old self. My dad has a habit of sending his children on crazy errands. (Sometime I’ll write about the time he made me give Jimmy Carter — who I have just as close a relationship with as you do — an antique wood plane. And miraculously, I did). This time, I actually got the easy end of this errand. My brother Sammy called and asked if I needed to pick up fish at the airport and deliver it to all of dad’s friends. I do, but luckily my dad only has one friend in the area so it’s a pretty simple task for me. My brother, on the other hand, has to pick up 50 pounds of smoked salmon from the cargo hold at Alaska Air and distribute to the friends in Boston. My uncle Peter makes really great smoked salmon, so I’m sure it’ll be delicious, but unfortunately until I stop breast feeding or worrying about autism I won’t get to eat any.

718, a trip down memory lane

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Who are those young kids? Caleb has had this roll of black and white film sitting around that yesterday we finally got developed. And what a pleasant surprise, there were a bunch of pictures from when we first met and our apartment, know affectionately by those who lived there as ‘718’, named for both its address — 718 Washington Avenue — and its area code. Some of the pictures had the date 06-20-99 imprinted on them.

Here is a picture of me just in from a run. I imagine that this is what I look like when I met Caleb, drenched in sweat and wearing running clothes.

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I’m sure my loyal blog readers know that Caleb and I met b/c I (or me, Kate, and Teresa) rented him a room after Cherith moved out. Kate and Teresa pretty much hated everyone we interviewed for the room, but luckily Caleb could talk about punk rock music with Kate in the interview and I think that warmed her up to him.

Caleb took a bunch of pictures of the view from our house which reminder of what a funny place that was. 718 was right on the corner of three neighborhoods, Prospect Heights, a very nice neighborhood, Crown Heights, a dubious neighborhood that had some rioting in the early 90s, and some kind of unnamed no-mans-land at the bottom of the hill. Our landlord made a habit of buying property in such neighborhoods, not fixing them up, and then renting them to white kids who would pay a little extra. We shared the building with some NYU students downstairs, and upstairs two forty year olds and two twenty year olds united in their quest to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. Our apartment was enormous, the living room as big as my current house, because if the landlord cut it into smaller units a zoning restriction would have made them rent controlled.

Here is a picture of the “police crime unit”. We’re not really sure what it was, but it has some loose affiliation with the police. When Kate and I first checked out the apartment we stopped in to ask about the neighborhood. The officer behind the desk had a bloody gash on his face and said “I’m not gonna tell you it’s a safe neighborhood, b/c then if you move in and something happens your gonna blame me”.

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So the neighborhood was getting gentrified, but it got a little worse before it got better. Soon after we moved in a Hunter social work student was brutally murdered carrying her groceries home (in the nice neighborhood no less). I’m not sure what this fire picture is, but at some point the building next to us had an electrical fire and then all sides of our house looked at burned out buildings.

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Before the outer-borough chain, Kennedy Fried Chicken, bought this restaurant, it used to have the delightful name “The Washington Fried Chicken Burger”. Cherith went in one time to order fried chicken. When then asked her what kind of meat she liked, her pronouncement “I like dark meat” brought cackles from the crowd of African Americans in the restaurant.

Here are Kate and Teresa. Kate is the sleeping one. Kate and her fiancé will be visiting for Christmas so maybe I can get a more flattering picture of her. Yes, Kate is engaged. I know it’s hard to believe.

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This picture was taken before Caleb and I went on one of our first dates.

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Across the street from the Peruvian restaurant there was a purple neon sign flashing the word psychic so we went in to get a love reading. Anyway we felt a little gypped from the whole experience — the psychic was hardly any good. Before we started dating a psychic at Coney Island told us we were going to so we were hot on psychics at the time. The lady did our reading at a table while the rest of the family (3 generations) watched TV. As we were leaving a little boy shouted out “see ya later dorky!” Well this is what I heard, b/c look at how dorky Caleb looks in that picture. Caleb was convinced that the boy shouted “See ya later Dorothy!” b/c I was dressed like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and even had a funny little purse that you could imagine a little dog in. Looking at the picture now, I think either of us could pass for “dorky” and I’m pretty sure that’s what the boy must have said.

The album

Caleb’s no baby, Dr. Spock, eating out … will Johanna ever shut up?

I’ve gotten some emails recently about my baby Caleb. While I may sometimes think that Caleb acts like a big baby, he’s actually the Daddy. Leo is the baby. And Leo certainly never acts like a daddy. Tons of little babies are named Caleb these days so I’m sure it’s confusing. (Sorry Caleb, I don’t think you’re a baby! I was just trying to be funny).

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I refer to Dr. Spock a lot in this blog. Caleb and I picked up his book in the used bookstore and I really like it. Probably because he is generally seems to think parents should trust their instinct and not be totally stupid. He has pointed out some of my own basic stupidity. For example, drs see children scalded by hot drinks, so he recommends not drinking coffee or tea when the child is on your lap. I read this advice while drinking coffee, feeding the baby, and (obviously) book in hand. My reaction was to have a slight twinge of guilt and keep right on at it.

I guess Dr. Spock’s ideas that you should hug and love a crying child were quite novel for his day. His “trust your instinct” attitude seems a bit novel these days too as it seems like everyone has strict ideas on perfect parenting. Even though his book was updated in the 90s you can tell that it is out of date. For example, Dr. Spock talks about prunes (hello — they are dried plums) and he also talks about babies using blankets. Now no one would think to put a blanket near a sleeping baby these days. We are led to believe that anything cozy or cuddly will kill the sleeping child. If you don’t want your baby to contract the all scary SIDS you must lay him on his back on a hard slab. It is somewhat comforting to know that people my age all slept on their tummies and some of us actually lived (approximately 997/1000 of us). Generally, Caleb and I feel obligated to follow SIDS prevention advice because nothing would be worse than your kid dying unexplained in the night. So when the kid falls asleep lying on his tummy, even if we are holding him, we turn him over. But last night he was crying so much, that we put him in bed with us, another irresponsible act, where he slept for 5 ½ hours! Amazing.

“Sleeping” is a word that I think means something different to parents or maybe just to me. People keep talking about babies “sleeping through the night” or “sleeping for 3 hours”. I just put the kid in his cradle and he squawks around, often not sleeping, but the key point here is that *I* sleep. So when I say “the baby sleeps for four hours”, I mean, “I slept for four hours and the baby didn’t eat during that time”. But last night, I really think the baby was actually sleeping for five hours.

On Thursday we finally went out to dinner for the first time in two months and the first time with Leo. At first he seemed quite happy looking at the ceiling lights, but as to be expected, as soon as we ordered dinner Leo started crying. So we took turns holding him while we ate. I got much more food on clothes then I usually do at dinner. Good thing I’m still wearing maternity clothes and not as worried about their longevity.

And finally, we have some pictures of Leo looking like he seems to look to us. He is always lying on our tummies and he has this square little face that I never see in our pictures until now.

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Happy Hanukkah!

Mommy’s gonna leave you home alone with Daddy!

Leo has started smiling which warms the hearts of his parents. We know he is healthy and now we can say he is happy too. Taking a picture of his smiles has been quite hard. I blame the slow shutter speed on the camera but I hear I’m getting a new camera for Christmas. Yay! Then I’ll only be able to blame the photographer. So how did we get him to smile? Caleb tells me the boy is smiling and I say what did you say to him and he says, I said: “mommy’s gonna leave you home alone with daddy” and again a beautiful smile for the camera.

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Why will mommy get to leave him home alone with daddy? Because he is finally eating out of a bottle. These are pictures of daddy giving him his first bottle.

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The first six weeks

As of yesterday, Leo was six weeks old! This feels like it deserves a monumental blog post. You may or may not know, six weeks is a big landmark in for both the baby and the parents. It used to be that maternity leave ended at six weeks. Breastfeeding is supposed to be the most important in the first six weeks because the baby is building up his immune system and you are not supposed to take the baby into public places b/c his immune system will be weak and if he gets a fever chances are he will need to be hospitalized b/c drs basically have no idea why babies get fevers.

Taking the baby into public places is an area in which we have rebelled just oh so slightly. It used to be that we would take the baby for a walk in the stroller to get a cup of coffee or go to the bookstore. Then we’d get there and because we’d be afraid of all the germs in starbucks one of us would stay outside with the baby and the other would go in. Then one day after we had walked to safeway and I was going to stay outside with the baby, it just seemed grosser outside than in so we took the baby inside and that was pretty much the end of that. Today when we took the baby into safeway we weren’t being bad at all.

Leo went from a crinkly little thing to a chubster already in size two diapers. He has three tricks: turning over (you’ve all heard about), chewing on his hand, and our favorite … smiling! No, this is not documented in a photograph, and no, I’m not making it up.

Some more pictures