Sunday, May 31, 2009


Like Alex, we finally organized our nursery this weekend. Jim had assembled the crib a couple of weeks ago, but until today, it was sitting in the middle of the room. There were also baby gifts everywhere. Things are more in place after today.

Here is a photo of what it looks like now (inspired by Alex's blog post on the same topic):

You can see the hummingbird mobile that we bought in Death Valley on our "baby-moon," which is hanging from the light chain. Above the changing table/dresser is the embroidery that always hung in my room from the time I was a baby. (It was made by my Aunt Joyce). Here's a close-up of it:

The curtains were made by Jim's mom, as was the quilt draped over the rail over the crib. We have a rocking chair in front of the changing table, although I'm considering swapping it for a leather chair that we currently have in our living room. That chair is the most comfortable of all the chairs in our house, and it would be nice to feed Annie in it. The rocking chair is nice, but not that practical for feeding.

Here are some "friends" to keep Annie company while we are swaddling her in the crib:

And here is Solomon, on the rug in the nursery. He's the guard on duty in front of the crib:

And here is Zeusy, trying to be the center of attention while I write this blog:

(Sorry, couldn't resist posting some gratuitous kitty photos!)

It's been a rough day. Annie decided to be awake from 2 to 3:30am this morning, even though she wasn't all that hungry. Jim and I both exhausted, and I don't think my mom (who's visiting) got much sleep either. Jim put in the window in our living room. (The replacement window had been sitting in our porch since November - that's how crazy our lives have been over the last year). He had to cut some wood to make the window fit, and every time I heard the table saw start, I worried that he'd be so tired that he'd injure himself. Ugh. But it's all good. Later, our friend Nate came over and Jim cut some wood for him too. He's installing some shelves in a closet in his new house.

Annie's in her fussy period right now. I can hear Jim downstairs, holding her, saying the nursery rhyme about shoeing the old horsey:

Shoe the old horsey,
Shoe the old mare,
Put a little nail there, there, there, there (pointing to different places on the baby's feet)
And let the colt run bare.

Let's hope we can come up with something to convince her to sleep tonight!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Meet the family

We are back in Boston after a very nice weekend visiting family in Buffalo. It was truly a bummer to have to get in the car and drive away after such a great weekend. The weather was perfect and the company was even better.

Annie got to meet lots of family, including her great-grandma:
...her aunt Alex:

...her crazy uncle Rob:

(She even sort of got to meet her cousin Madeleine, although Madeleine has yet to arrive on an unannounced date!)

She met her great-aunt Dode:
And many other family members. She also got to spend some more time with her two grandmas:

And here's a photo of four generations:

Annie is very lucky. Not many people get to meet their great-grandparents.

I'm sad to be back in Boston. It was so nice eating dinner outside with my mom or hanging out with all of Jim's family. There really is something about living close to family. It is hard to be in Boston without any family at all to fall back on. I miss everyone so much.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Information that I have learned or have been reminded of over the last week:

1) The Punjab Cafe lets you bring your stroller right up to your table when you go there to eat lunch. No kidding. This made eating lunch there very easy. Also, they have a lunch menu, and it's more affordable than their lunch buffet (which I guess they don't do during the week).

2) Medical care is prohibitively expensive. Annie was in the Special Care Nursery at MGH for 2 weeks and we just got a bill for over $70,000. I really don't know what we would've done without our insurance. Seriously, what do people do who don't have insurance or whose insurance won't cover stuff like that? Does Medicaid kick in? Because paying a bill like that is equivalent to paying for a couple years of college tuition or something. It's crazy and impossible for most people.

3) Craig's List rocks for giving away things you don't want anymore but don't want to throw out. I have already unloaded the Diaper Champ (also known as the Diaper Loser or the Diaper Chump). I posted it on Craig's List last night, and it was gone by 9:30 this morning. We now have a standard plastic garbage can with a lid and a little pedal that opens the lid. After fighting with the Diaper Chump, I can't believe how easy it is to throw out diapers. The big question will be whether the lid fits tightly enough to contain the smell.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I want to write tonight about confidence, particularly self-confidence. I recently read this opinion article in the New York Times, which my sister pointed me to. This article spoke a lot about things that I have been thinking about over the last months. Self-confidence is the key to happiness and success and greatness. Those who have it have a lot. As the old grandmother said in the opinion article, it is very important.

How else does someone stand up in court or on the street and argue an unpopular opinion? How does someone stand up in front of a crowd and tell a joke? How else does one wear a crazy blue hat in a public place and totally pull it off, as if it's a fashion statement? If you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you too. The people in the opinion article moved mountains, and it started with confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Those without self-confidence question every decision they make. They feel guilt for things that they couldn't have controlled or foreseen. They view the past as far rosier than it really was. They worry what other people think of them. They can become crippled with these worries, hiding inside instead of going out and living and moving ahead. They become blind to themselves and the great parts of the life they're actually living.

How does one get confidence? Are you born with it? Do your parents give it to you? Do you somehow learn to believe in yourself?

Perhaps it's something that you have to work at. It comes to some people easier than others, but perhaps it's a decision that each person makes about themselves and how they will live their lives.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


The crib is assembled! Jim put it together last night after discovering the assembly instructions. They were attached to the springboard. Here's the finished product:

(The beautiful quilt that you see here was made by Annie's grandma). Now we just have to figure out where the crib will go in the room. Not as easy as it sounds.

And for all the trouble that we went through to get it, it's actually a really nice crib. It was easy to put together (once we found the instructions) and is very sturdy, made out of a hard wood. Annie probably won't be sleeping in it for a couple more months, but it's nice to be getting her bedroom into shape.

Today is a beautiful spring day, and I think we're going on a picnic for lunch!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Birthday and Crib

Today was a productive day. Annie went to the pediatrician and weighed in at 7 lbs, 1/2 ounce, and 20 1/2 inches long. She has grown over 2 inches since she was born. Pretty cool. Her next appointment is in one month, and that's when she starts her vaccinations. It sounds like she'll get three shots at each visit until her nine month check-in. Fun wow!

Here's a photo of us today, right before Annie's evening feeding:

(Annie is as yet unaware of how much fun those doctor's visits will be).

Then Jim decided to attempt to assemble the crib. Oops, they forgot to include any sort of assembly instructions. We know for a fact that they're missing because on the outside of one of the bags is a note that says "instructions are inside this bag." And yet, there are no instructions.

Wait. Let me put on my "surprised" face. Did I mention that we got this crib from Babies R Us? Here's a photo of Jim after he discovered that there were no instructions:

It actually looks like assembly won't be that difficult. There are only 2 types of screws and they are significantly different sizes. The crib actually looks beautiful, and it matches the dresser that we've been using as a changing table. Hopefully we'll get it all assembled by the weekend so that the bedroom doesn't look so disheveled.

Happy Birthday!

Annie is one month old today! Happy birthday! Here she is:

To celebrate, she gets to go to the pediatrician's office to be weighed, poked and prodded. She will have a fabulous birthday meal of milk, and afterward, she is going party it up. Here she is, gettin' jiggy with it:

Annie will party it up by taking a nap.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baby Gear

When my mom offered to throw me a baby shower, it took me a long time to put together a baby registry. I just didn't know what to register for. I looked on-line, but everyone had a different opinion about registries.

I didn't want to buy into the hype of the baby gear market, which I think is a very successful industry because it is able to convince many soon-to-be parents that they need a lot more than they actually need. Since these parents have never had a baby before, they just don't know. All their friends tell them different things. Many parents resort to lists provided by baby superstores, which are self-serving at best. (Anyone who reads this blog knows what I think about such stores). Such lists seem to me to be the equivalent of going to a car dealership and asking the salesman which features you need on your new car.

In this posting, I will attempt to list what I think is useful to have when the baby arrives, and which things new parents should register for. Of course, I'm just throwing my opinion into the mix. There are lots of other blog posts like this on the web. But for what it's worth, here is my opinion.

Things that you need when the baby arrives.
An infant only does three things: sleeps, eats, and soils diapers. So your focus should be on meeting those needs. I recommend that you have the following ready:
  • Diaper wipes (see below for my thoughts on purchasing diapers)
  • Plain, white, cotton onesies
  • A hat to keep baby's head warm (hospital will provide one, but it might not fit well)
  • A few receiving blankets (either flannel or cotton work just fine)
  • A place for the baby to sleep
  • Bottles (if you're not breastfeeding)
  • A car seat (required upon discharge from the hospital)
  • A camera

Things that are nice to have but not required.
  • A diaper changing station with drawers or other storage capability (we are using a dresser with a contour pad on top - works great)
  • Spit-up cloths (we usually use cloth diapers for this)
  • A garbage pail with a heavy top for odorless diaper disposal
  • If you have two floors in your house, a place for the baby to sleep on both levels of your house (ie: cradle upstairs, Pack-n-Play downstairs)
  • Stroller
  • Sling or other baby carrier
  • A few (like maybe 5) cute outfits (newborn or 0-3 size)
  • 1-2 hooded towels
  • Diaper bag
  • Waterproof pads
  • Digital thermometer
Things that you will receive as gifts (so don't worry about registering for this stuff):
  • Baby clothes, all sizes, particularly onesies
  • Hooded towels
  • Blankets
  • Photo albums/memory books
  • Toys
Things that you will receive at the hospital:
  • Diapers
  • Aspirator
  • Pacifier
  • Thermometer
  • Diaper cream (zinc oxide, A&D)
  • Hat
Things to register for:
  • Rear-facing infant car seat
  • Crib accessories, such as waterproof pads, sheets
  • Pack-n-Play (I never thought I would like it, but it is actually super useful and will be great for trips to visit family, since the baby can sleep in it overnight and it's portable)
  • Stroller (I strongly recommend the Snap-N-Go - very portable)
  • Diaper bag
  • Bottles
  • If possible, register for classes! In the Boston area, Isis Maternity has excellent pre-natal classes, as well as all sorts of groups for new moms and dads.
Where to Register?

I looked into registering at Amazon and Target before I caved and registered at Babies R Us. I also looked into doing an on-line registry that was not linked to any store.

I chose Babies R Us mostly because their baby products can be purchased both on-line and in-store. Target and Amazon products are mostly available on-line only. I wanted both options available, because many people do not like shopping on the web, or do not know how to do so.

A registry not linked to any store initially seemed like a good idea, until you think about how it would work. People have to have the forethought to print out the list before going shopping, and they have to remember to return to the registry after they've purchased a gift to check it off your list. This is just too much trouble.

This is not an endorsement of Babies-R-Us, however. I actually think their customer service stinks more than Annie's diapers. You can go back on this blog and read about our saga with the crib. Furthermore, their on-line descriptions of products leave much to be desired. For example, don't you think it would be helpful if they included the dimensions of their cribs and mattresses? You know, so people can figure out if the crib will fit in their nursery and they're purchasing the correct mattress? But, at this point in time, their registry gives you the most selection and convenience.

Various and sundry thoughts.

Regarding diapers. You don't know what size your baby is going to be when s/he is born. Annie, for example, was 5 pounds. Many of the "newborn" diapers we had were for babies that were at least 8 pounds. These are easy to buy at the store, so I would recommend waiting until the baby arrives and then getting the diapers. You will have enough from the hospital to get you through the first couple of days at home with the baby.

I have also heard that some babies are very particular about their diapers. We have not found this to be the case with Annie, but every baby is different. Better to wait til she's born.

Regarding diaper pails. If you can believe it, I actually researched this topic before registering for one. There seemed to be two major designs of diaper pails. There's the "Diaper Genie," which scrunches up each diaper into a sausage-like shape and wraps it in plastic. You have to buy cartridges for this. Then there's the "Diaper Champ," which is essentially a garbage pail with a special "revolving door"-like lid that is supposed to keep the stink inside. The benefit of the Diaper Champ is that you don't have to buy cartridges; all you need is a garbage bag.

We registered for the Diaper Champ. Jim has renamed it the Diaper Loser. The revolving door function doesn't work very well. Often, you'll put the diaper in and revolve it around, and a soiled diaper or wipe from a previous changing pops out. We plan on purchasing a standard garbage pail with a pedal-operated lid as soon as we can.

And anyway, given the number of diapers I change, I am the Diaper Jeannie, and I don't come with cartridges.

Regarding bath tubs.
Even Consumer Reports recommended registering for one. Maybe my opinion will change once Annie gets a little older, but these seem to be unnecessary if you have a sink.

Recommended reading.

Consumer Reports has an excellent 0n-line section on all things baby. They are fantastic. I would print out their section on whatever it was I was purchasing and bring it with me to the evil superstore so that I wouldn't get sidetracked. Consumer Reports is a subscription service, but it is well worth the money. They have sections on just about anything you want to buy.

I also recommend a book called Baby Bargains, which just printed its 8th edition. I had their 7th edition. It is very similar to Consumer Reports, except that they only write up baby products, so it's more specialized and there's more information. In addition to detailed write-ups about just about anything you could consider buying for your baby, the book includes a simple ratings list for each product you want to buy, so that you can do a quick check while you're at the store. there it is. My thoughts on baby gear. As a last thought, I should say that even if you don't have any of these things, you will be fine (except for the car seat, since the baby doesn't leave the hospital without it). You will figure it out as you go along. Take it from someone who knows - there's only so much you can prepare for, and even when you do prepare, things often turn out differently than you expected anyway. So try to be flexible and trust that you'll figure things out. I'm interested to hear what other people think.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the moms out there, I hope you had a happy mother's day. I had a very nice first mother's day. My mom was here, visiting from Buffalo. Today we went to the Lilac Festival at the Arnold Arboretum, same as last year. The lilacs are just amazing, and we always say that we really should go to the Arboretum more often because it is just a beautiful place.

Here are me and my mom with the lilacs:

And here we are with Annika, after we fed her:

After we saw the lilacs, we went to Legal Seafood for lunch. I was pretty nervous about bringing Annie into the restaurant. She did end up waking up at the end of our meal, and I brought her to the restroom to change her. Thankfully, my mom was there and helped me. It's pretty intimidating to bring the baby out in public. There is so much stuff to bring with her and I never know how things are going to actually go down once we're out in public. Luckily, she's a pretty calm baby most of the time.

Friday, May 8, 2009


To give you an idea about how small Annie is, here's a photo of her on our bed:

At the last visiting nurse appointment, she weighed in at 6 lbs, 3 oz., which makes her almost a pound bigger than she was when she was born! Progress!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baby Games

This morning, after being awake half the night with Miss Annika, Jim and I decided that we needed to try to keep her awake in the evening so she would sleep at night. We were trying to think up ways we could do that, and decided that we needed to invent games to play with her. But newborns are not all that interactive. The games ended up being ways that we could keep ourselves entertained while in Annika's presence. I give you "Baby Games."

1) Diaper Race
Try to get the clean diaper completely on the baby before she soils it or the changing table or her clothes or you or all of the above. Half credit if you get the diaper on her with at least one side sealed and she soils it then.

(While writing this post, I lost the above game and am now washing the changing pad cover and Annika's onesie ... a word of advice for new parents-to-be: you need at least 3 changing pad covers; we bought our third yesterday. See Survivor, #6, below. I'm thinking we might need to buy more. Or maybe we'll get better at this eventually).

2) Who Does Baby Look Like?
In this game, you look closely at the baby and baby's actions and try to figure out where she inherits them from. For example, is that blond hair or brown hair coming in? Does she have ticklish feet? Where did she inherit that propensity for passing gas at inopportune moments? (See "Diaper Race," above).

3) Chase the Garbage Truck
The winner of this game is able to either remember to put out the trash the night before the garbage truck comes, or, after a sleepless night, is still able to successfully catch the garbage truck in time for it to take his/her trash. This is a particularly important game because soiled diapers do not get better with time.

4) Name that Baby Noise
Stay awake at night and try to figure out if the grunting that's coming from the cradle is a) a normal baby noise; b) a sign of hunger; c) a sign that Annika has been replaced with a baby seal; or d) Annika is actually in distress.

(So far, we've only had experiences with (a) and (b), thankfully).

5) Juggle the Accessory, or, Grow a second pair of hands
Babies may be little, but you have to carry around so many accessories for them. A normal outing includes a diaper bag, filled with all sorts of goodies, a car seat, many blankets, and ... oh yeah, the baby. I'm not sure we'll have enough room in our car for all the accessories involved in a weekend trip. So, the winner of this game is the one who is able to carry around the most accessories and still find room to carry the baby.

6) Survivor, the Baby Store edition
The winner of this game is able to spend the most time in Babies R Us or other baby "super"store without: a) running out of the store crying; b) getting lost and having to ask for directions to the exit; or c) yelling at a sales associate. Bonus points if you actually find and purchase the item that you came in the store to buy, and even more bonus points if you accomplish all of the above while carrying around your baby in the infant carrier.

(As a side note, our crib was delivered today. It was the only time in our lives that the deliveryman showed up earlier than the set time frame to make the delivery. It was also one of the few times in our lives when we would have preferred him to have been late, since we were trying to get caught up on our sleep).

7) Find that Spit-Up Cloth
It never fails. You are in the middle of feeding the baby and you realize that the spit-up cloth is in the other room. The winner of this game remembers to have a spit-up cloth in hand before feeding the baby.

8) This is Your Life, or, Most Extreme Makeover: Baby Edition
In this game, you recall your pre-baby life, which in our case was only a few weeks ago, and you marvel at how it seems like about 100 years ago. This is often triggered by a phone call from your job, a visit from friends, or other evidence of your prior life.

That's all for now, folks. But look for a second edition of this blog post in the near future.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sleeping and Not sleeping

Well, its late tonight. I got up at 6:30 this morning and now its 12:11am the next day. Annie sleeps like a champ during the day. At 9pm she starts crying. I take her into the study and she falls asleep. I bring her back to the cradel and she cry's bloody murder. I bring her back to the study she is out cold. In the study she sits in her bouncer. In the bedroom she is in the cradle. I switched the cradle and the bouncer. Its the room. She cries bloody murder in the bedroom, and sleeps when I am awake. She looks 100% content and asleep now. I am not 100% content. I just finished chapter 4 of "The Sun Also Rises." I think I have read chapter 1-3 at least four times. I still don't see why anyone thinks Hemmingway is good. I need something better to read.

Maybe I should work at night and Jeannie can take the day.