Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cradle - final product

Over the last few months, we have been writing about the progress of our cradle. Our aim was to get it completely done by April 1. While it was mostly done by then, it still had to be varnished. Jim applied the last coat of polyurethane to it two days before Annie was born! :) Here are photos of the final product (with Annie in it):

It is in our bedroom right now, as all the books and experts say that it's best to have the baby sleep in the room with you for the first few months. You'll see that she fits perfectly in it.

Jim is now learning how to do dovetail joints, and he's practicing by remaking our kitchen drawers. It's a good project, because anything he builds, even with serious mistakes in them, will be better than the drawers we have now. He did a great job remaking our kitchen utensil drawer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Annie is home!
(She slept all the way home).

Monday, April 27, 2009

I love... I don't love... Part Deux

I Love (In no particular order)

The smell of rotting wood in a wet forest
My wife and child
The view of an approaching thunderstorm
My family
The smell of sawdust
People who want to make the world a better place
The first snow
People who think about what they are, why they are, and what they want to be
The smell of rain
People who enjoy life
New York City in the fall (Bryant Park when it snows!)
Listening to the Damnation of Faust
Thinking about why people do what they do
Hamlet (A Rat! A Rat!...)
The eternal wilderness of upstate New York
Community Opera
The feel of heavy bond paper in book
Old Homes
Being Squared
Driving in new places
Organized confusion
This ad (and this one too)
Being here

I Don't Love
Country Music (I can't even bring myself to appreciate it! Sorry)
Prairie Home Companion; Prairie Style Architecture
Pretentious Poetry ('coming over the Starnbergersee' my arse!)
People who don't think
Government stimulus

User's Manual

Please, when you design a product, write a manual which gives you a bag of screws and then asks you to pick the M-1-8-15mm screw. Good god, what on earth is the 1-8 and what does the 15mm stand for? As an engineer I did not actually find this confusing. But please, I suspect we are not all engineers.

A better solution? Manufacture the screws with a drop of colored paint on the head, and make the manual read "Put the screw with the red top in the red hole, put the screw with the green top in the green hole." Is that really that hard to do?

If you can't paint the top, how about describing things like this:
This product is manufactured with three different sized screws. Please open the bag and divide them into small, medium, and large. Now... take one small screw and put it in the hole labeled 'S' ." Can't we just do that?


We got the phone call this morning - Annie is scheduled to be discharged tomorrow! Yesterday after we went home from the hospital, she decided to pull out her feeding tube. Because she has been feeding so well, they decided not to reinsert it, and she's been feeding quite well since then. Perhaps in the end, it's the baby who decides when it's time to come home!

This morning, I called in to find out when she was feeding, and was told that they've been feeding her when she was awake, instead of on a set schedule. Then Mom and I went out to run a few errands, and when we got home again, there was a message that Annie was going to be discharged tomorrow, and that we should bring her car seat into the hospital so that they could test her out in it.

So today we went through a bunch of discharge requirements. They had to check Annie in the car seat by letting her sit in it for an hour with all of her probes on to make sure she could handle it and could hold her head up well enough in it. Here's a photo of Jim and the nurse putting her in the chair. She had just had her bottle and was sound asleep, so at first, she wasn't so happy about being disturbed.
But she did just fine - she slept through that. We also had to watch a video on infant CPR and choking, meet with a dietitian, and purchase some vitamin drops that Annie will have to take every day. The hospital made us an appointment with our pediatrician for Wednesday, and I assume we'll get a lot more advice then.

We left the hospital around 5 and went out to dinner - the "last supper," so to speak. :) We went to Kagawa and I had vegetarian sushi. Then we got back home and Jim put together a little chair/bouncer, whose instructions were written by someone who lacked an appropriate command of the English language. Not unexpectedly, Zeus is now sleeping in said chair.

We also picked out a few options for Annie's "going away" outfit. :) The contenders include a blue onesie that says "Miss Marvelous"; a green, long-sleeved onesie that says "Peas On Earth But Not on my Plate"; and an off-white onesie with matching blanket that says "Peaceful" in pink. We're not sure if she's going to fit in any of them because she's so little! It's supposed to be 90 degrees tomorrow, so she'll probably be comfortable in a onesie and a blanket.

Needless to say, it's all quite exciting. And scary too. Tomorrow will be quite a day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I love... I don't love...

I love:
The smell of baby
Forsythias and magnolias in bloom
The smell of lemon blossoms in my house
Warm weather in April
Dozing with a baby on my chest
Sunny Saturday mornings with endless possibilities
Boston, the Charles River, the city at night, the city during the day, and the care at its hospitals

I don't love:
Waiting for Annika to come home
Books that are trying to give advice but just make me doubt myself
The "baby blues"
Being far apart from family
Employment uncertainty
Uncertainty in general

Monday, April 20, 2009

Patriots' Day and Marathon Monday

It's Patriots' Day here in Boston, also known as Marathon Monday, and it's a state holiday. Patriots' Day commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord and there are always reenactments of those battles in Lexington and Concord. When I first lived in Boston, I went to part of the Lexington reenactment. We mostly just saw people dressed up like Minutemen, marching along the road. I think we might've seen a small skirmish with some red coats too.

The Boston Marathon is always on Patriots' Day. It starts in mid-morning in Hopkinton, MA (west of Boston) and usually around noon, the first of the runners are at the finish line. The marathon is a big thing in Boston. They shut down a lot of major streets and there are always huge crowds at the finish line. I've stood at the finish line several times - it is really moving to see people make it to the finish line, some running, some limping and crawling. You are allowed to run if you fit into either of these categories: 1) You have qualified for the marathon by running one or two other marathons with a specific time; or 2) You are running for a charity. My friend Jen ran the marathon once. She ran for a family friend who had died of cancer, and raised money for one of the cancer organizations. I think it's especially moving to see the people running for charities make it to the finish line, because many of them aren't even runners. They're just trying to challenge themselves and do a good deed in the process.

For me, Patriots' Day marks the beginning of real spring. The trees and flowers are in bloom, and it's usually much warmer and spring-like than the "official" first day of spring (March 21). Only a few weeks until I can plant my garden.

Annie remains in the hospital and will probably be there for at least a week longer. She is still on oxygen, still in the isolette and last night they had to put a feeding tube in because she's not eating enough to gain weight. She's actually losing weight. She is very good hands at the hospital, although I desperately want to bring her home. At this point, because taking her out of her bed and holding her expends energy, we have been discouraged from holding her very much. We can hold her around meal times, which happen every three hours. This is pretty hard - I really could sit there all day and hold her.

My mom is visiting from Buffalo and arrived on Saturday night, staying til Wednesday morning. It's good to have her here because I really need the extra support right now. Jim went to work today and my mom and I are going to go to the hospital to do Annie's 11:00 feeding.

I guess this starts the first full week of my maternity leave. It's weird. I called into work last week to make sure the transition was going smoothly. I miss my bosses and my clients and the work itself. I had a lot of projects that I was trying to plow through before the baby came, and now they have to finish them for me. It's hard to let go, especially for a control freak like me. I guess the transition isn't just happening at work - I'm going through it too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Home again

Today I was discharged from the hospital and I'm home. It feels really weird to be home after everything that happened this week. It feels like the last time I was home was at least a year ago. And yet, the groceries that I bought on Sunday are still in the fridge and the cooling racks from the cupcakes I made for Easter dinner were still on the counter. It almost seems like everything that happened this week was a dream. It has dream-like qualities. At some point, I should post the story of Annie's birth because it is actually quite unbelievable.

We could not bring Annie home from the hospital yet. She is still on oxygen and needs to get the hang of feeding. They took her off the IV this morning.

It was really hard to leave the hospital without Annie. I didn't like leaving her there, even though the people taking care of her are wonderful and are so good at what they do. I've been carrying Annie around for 8 months and I miss her. It was comforting to feel her kick.

Some things about the hospital: I think Mass General is the best hospital ever. They were great in so many ways. The nurses and doctors were always available, never condescending. I have learned so much about breastfeeding and baby care in general over the last week, all thanks to everyone's willingness to teach and give expert advice. I'm still learning. If there is a positive side to Annie staying in the hospital a bit longer, it's that I can continue going there and learning from the nurses in the Special Care Nursery. They are amazing.

And that's all I have to say today. I now have a date with a breast pump.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


We welcome Annika Wendy! 5 lbs,5 oz,18 inches.We love her. Photos to follow. I can't believe she's really here already.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter morning

Here I am, it is 6:15am and I have been awake since 4:30. Same as yesterday. I really don't know why I'm awake. The baby doesn't tend to kick very much at night and I'm not more stressed-out than usual. I tend to just sit awake and ruminate about things going on at work, or I try to organize the upcoming day in my head, or sometimes I'm just awake and not thinking of much of anything.

Then again, when I was kid, it was completely normal to be awake early on Easter morning, because my sister and I would have to find our Easter baskets. We would normally go to Cleveland for Easter and would be so excited to see what the Easter Bunny brought us (and where the baskets were hidden this year) that we would be awake very early. Right about now, actually. We would try to be very quiet as we got up to find our Easter baskets, but we'd always manage to wake everyone up anyway. Grandma would usually be the first to get up. She would tell us to be quiet so everyone else could sleep, but we were too excited. One year, we couldn't find Laurie's basket, so she went upstairs and woke up poor Dad, who suggested that she look in the stove or something.

But why am I awake this morning? Maybe my body is preparing me for the sleep interruptions that will come soon. But logically, wouldn't it make more sense to let me sleep now so I won't be nearly as tired when the baby comes? Everyone says that now is the time to rest, but I can't, and what's worse, I worry that I'm also interrupting Jim's sleep. Now is the time for him to rest too.

Today's weather already looks better than yesterday, although I shouldn't complain too much about yesterday. My new seeds got a really nice shower yesterday, and they like the cool temperatures. But a little sun would be nice. The plan for today is to hopefully get all those things accomplished that I listed yesterday, and then go over to our friend's house for Easter dinner tonight.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

High aspirations, little accomplished

I expected to do a lot today. Baby class in the morning, followed by purchasing a crib, followed by getting our dresser out of storage and organizing all the shower gifts.

In reality, we managed to attend the baby class, which was on breastfeeding. And that's all we accomplished.

It wasn't for lack of trying. After the class, which was in Needham, we had a really delicious lunch at Panera Bread. I am not normally a big fan of Panera Bread, mostly because they seem to put these funky-tasting peppers in all of their vegetarian dishes. But lately, absolutely any food tastes phenomenally delicious to me, and plus, there were none of those peppers in the sandwich and salad I got.

Afterwards, we went to the following stores to try to find a crib: Jordan's, Ikea, Bassett, BJ's, and Babies R Us. Jordan's is a local furniture store that markets itself by emphasizing that it has "underprices." (I think that catches people's attention because it sounds like "underwear"!). They had 4 cribs, all basically the same except for the color. They were all convertible models (we don't need a convertible crib) and they were all almost $700. That wasn't happening. Next, we went to Ikea, and found a great crib. Except that the only colors it came in were Pepto-Bismol pink and Cookie-Monster blue. The other cribs looked pretty flimsy, like portable cribs. Next.

So then we went to Bassett, which is a brand new store. Before, if you wanted Bassett furniture, you had to find it at a more general furniture store. So, when Jim's mom bought us a coffee table a few years ago, she ordered it in Buffalo at the Bassett store, but we picked it up at a general furniture store in Quincy. Anyway, the Bassett store we went into today didn't carry cribs. I've heard that Babies R Us carries Bassett cribs now.

Next, it was BJ's. They also didn't carry cribs, or any furniture except one dresser with very bent drawers. You can buy cribs on-line from BJ's, but not at their store. And by the way, going into BJ's was quite an experience. I hadn't been in one of those wholesale-type stores since college and forgot how Walmart-esq they were. Jim was fascinated with their large blocks of cheese. We bought one of those in college and I think we had it for the whole semester. Just had to scrape off the mold before eating towards the end of the semester. :)

Finally, we caved and went to Babies R Us. I really don't like Babies R Us. We have had quite a fiasco with the crib that we registered for, which I think I've already blogged about. Anyway, we decided to look at other cribs, but really couldn't find anything that we liked in our price range. Plus, the saleswoman said that her computer seemed to indicate that our first-choice crib might be in stock soon. She said it looked like a shipment might be outside the warehouse, waiting to be categorized and stocked. I don't know how she would know this from her computer. Maybe she was making it up. (I wouldn't put it past BRU customer service). But at this point, we were both exhausted and discouraged and decided to get ice cream and go home. Which is what we did. We'll try again next weekend, I guess. They're supposed to call us if the crib is stocked.

We didn't end up getting our dresser out of storage because it is pouring rain/snow and miserable here today. We're going to try to do that tomorrow.

Jim is almost finished with the cradle - he just has to put 2 more coats of polyurethane on the bottom (the part that the mattress will sit on). It looks amazing. I'm really glad we have a cradle lined up because we may not have a crib when the baby comes on the scene.

Still on the agenda for the weekend: grocery shopping, laundry, getting the dresser out, organizing everything.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's gardening time!

Finally! It is time to start gardening. I love it. The magnolia trees are starting to open up, the forsythia is in bloom, and my crocuses are well past peak. My daffodils will be open in a week probably.

Jim worked manure/compost into the garden last weekend, so it was time for me to plant my cold weather veggies. Normally I would do it on the weekend, but it's supposed to rain tomorrow and be cold on Sunday. And thanks to daylight savings, it was still light when I got home from work (in fact, it still is now too). And it was 63 degrees. Time to do a little gardening before dinner. So I planted my radishes, snowpeas, garlic, and Asian spicy greens (fancy lettuce). Jim stayed late at work tonight to play poker with some of his co-workers.

You might ask how my back is doing. The answer is that it felt pretty crappy right afterward, but it's pretty much OK now. It actually wasn't as hard as I thought to put the seeds in the ground, and it felt really nice to actually be outside.

While I was out there, I met the new neighbors that moved into the red house behind our house last fall. (This is the house with the door that goes to nowhere, if you remember. They actually got rid of the door and put up siding where it was. This happened in the fall, I think). I'm embarrassed to say that I don't remember their names. But they were very friendly. I think they're Irish. They were carrying a small black and white cat, who they said didn't go outside normally.

It is supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow, so it was a good opportunity to plant the seeds. Our hoses aren't hooked up yet so I didn't water the seeds tonight. I figure they'll get enough water soon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weekend Summary

Yes, it may be Tuesday, but we just got back from Buffalo, so for us, it feels like the weekend just ended. (What a luxury). Here are the highlights from this very busy weekend:

1) Getting to see lots of family and friends this weekend, particularly on Sunday at the baby shower. I just wish I had more time to actually visit with everyone.

2) Excellent food! Santasiero's (or whatever it's called) and their fabulous cheese ravioli on Saturday night, great shower food on Sunday, a wonderfully low-key lunch at Koglers' on Monday, and Ming's for dinner on Monday night.

3) Sunny weather on Sunday for the shower.

4) Getting an extra day, Monday, to relax after the shower festivities and catch up with people.

5) Not bad weather on the way back to Boston. We hit some snow around Buffalo and Rochester, but the rest of the trip was clear. It was partly sunny and in the 50's here in Quincy when we got back.

6) Getting close to finishing the cradle (see post below about that).

7) Being home at the end. But still missing everyone in Buffalo and Cleveland.

Now that we're back, we're in the final stretch before Baby K. arrives. A million things to do to get ready. We have baby classes to take (breastfeeding and infant CPR); a cradle to finish; a crib to find; and many, many things to organize. We need to find a pediatrician and a day care center. I need to continue with the job search and get my current cases in order for my maternity leave. The next weeks will be busy, but exciting too.

Cradle base and rockers

It's now time to finish the cradle's base and rockers. Today, Jim attached the rockers to the base and the base to the top. Then he sanded it:

Then we signed it:

And now he's applying polyurethane to the bottom. Originally, he was going to finish the base and rockers separately from the rest of the cradle, but now he thinks that finishing them while attached will seal them better to the top of the cradle.

The cradle should be completely done in a few days!! It's really exciting.