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Journal for 25 Dec 2008: Christmas in Two Rivers


Christmas night in Two Rivers. Or, as I can now say, one week until I leave for India.

The trip across Wisconsin wasn’t the easiest. Mathias flipped out around Abbotsford, making the next half hour a bit of an ordeal. We retired for the night in Wausau, and yesterday woke to six fresh inches of snow. After visiting Lisa’s grandmother–we timed our visit nicely to coincide with her hair appointment–we headed to Two Rivers at highway speeds ranging from 25 to 60mph. Mathias at least handled the daytime travel well, though. We saw 17 cars in the ditch between Wausau and Two Rivers, slightly less than the number of times Mathias looked at our Saturn’s speedometer, pointed and yelled “clock!”

Christmas at my parent’s place was the typical: Good food, plenty of doting on the toddler, gift exchanges, discussion about different digestional problems, etc. My uncle Pat didn’t make it down from Green Bay for dinner like he usually does for Thanksgiving and Christmas–that meant none of the traditional arguing about unions–but Christmas brunch today was still good. (There was a bit of controversy over my mom’s new stuffing recipe, though.) Later on we Lisa, Mathias and I visited Ben, Beth and family, which of course was the first time during the day Mathias decided to take a nap.

The big question for tomorrow is whether Mathias will nap… Or hold anything remotely close to a schedule. He wouldn’t go down for a nap today–he appears frightened of the downstairs bedroom at my parents’, and an attempt at putting him down in my mom’s room didn’t go well, either–and we pretty much lost the entire afternoon as a result. What we do or do not do tomorrow will likely hinge on how he decides he’s going to handle his day. Ah, parenthood.

Well, it’s almost midnight, and the obsessive-compulsive part of my personality is starting to kick in. If I want this to be a legitimate Christmas entry, I need to post it NOW.

So, with that, Merry Christmas to you and yours. (Or happy holidays, if, like me, you’re into Christmas but not, you know, into Christmas.) More later.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal,Travelog at 11:59 pm

Journal for 30 Nov 2008: Thanksgiving in Madison


It’s a cold, snowy night in Madison, one fitting for the last day of November.  We’re wrapping up our Thanksgiving visit with Lisa’s parents, and will be heading back to Minneapolis tomorrow.  I’d planned on calling some relatives here before heading down, but last week was kind of crazy for me, and, as it turned out, we didn’t really have much time anyway.  Hopefully we’ll be able to connect with them before the holidays are over.

Overall, it’s been a good trip.  Mathias has finally gotten over the ear infections and emerging molars that have made him a very cranky baby over the past two weeks, and for the past few days has been undeniably chipper.  He’s been very observant lately, and it seems like he may have transferred to a new developmental stage while flying under the cover of sickness.  He’s walking again–he more or less took a break from that when he was sick–and as of tonight is climbing stairs.  (Thankfully, the inside of our apartment doesn’t have any of them.)

It’s good that he’s been in a good mood, as he’s been getting passed around a lot.  He met some of Lisa’s old neighbors on Friday, and then spent some time goofing off with friends of Lisa’s and mine today.

Aside from that, it was more or less typical Thanksgiving stuff: We had lots of good food, got to visit friends and family, did a fair amount of shopping, and wired a home for broadband.  I’ve spent a lot of time watching the horrible events going on in Mumbai, and will probably have something to write about that in the near future, but not now.

And with that, I’m off for the evening. (One of the downsides of having a healthy baby is early mornings.)  Happy Cyber Monday to all of you.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal,Travelog at 11:32 pm

BabyLog for 24 Nov 2008: What’s Grosser Than Gross?


For someone who’s now well-versed at being a mom, Lisa has proven to have a bit of a low tolerance for things that are gross or disgusting.  It’s kind of contextual, though:  She can stand diapers that cause me to gag–my relatively good sense of smell puts me at a distinct disadvantage when our kid gets creative with what he puts in his diaper–but when Mathias pull stunts like he did in the car today, well, we have to consider ourselves lucky that Lisa’s able to keep her food down at all.

So, what happened today?  We were driving to the doctor’s office–the little one has been battling a snotty cold with an alternating fever for the past few days–when Mathias decided to do some impromptu spelunking.  Before Lisa could stop him, he pulled a large, multicolored booger out of his nose, studied it for a moment… And ate it.  Lisa started gagging, and then started wondering out loud if she should retrieve it or not, while I worked to repress laughter.  After a brief a moment of silence, Lisa set forth with another revelation: “Oh my god, he’s chewing on it.” Pause. “I’m going to throw up.”

I broke out laughing.  “Oh, it probably isn’t the only booger he’s eaten.”

“That’s so gross.”

“He doesn’t know what it is. To him, it’s just an interesting, salty snack.”

“Do you want me to throw up?”


“Then stop!”

I stopped, as I suspected I was on track for dealing with more than enough puke for the day.  That suspicion would be proven later in the evening while cleaning the carseat in Lisa’s car, which Mathias had tossed chunks in a few days earlier.  Lisa had cleaned it off, but it still smelled, so I took it inside to give it a thorough cleaning.  Upon taking off the seat cushion I came across a still-liquid reservoir of milk-based vomit, and, well, it went downhill from there. Each time I thought I’d finally cleaned off the seat, I’d uncover something else.  You’d think something like a car seat would be built in a way to protect it from spills of pretty much any kind, but you’d be mistaken.

Ah, parenthood.  It’s kind of gross, but you get used to it.  And with that I’m off for a walk, hopefully so I can be home before our sick, cranky little kid wakes up again.

More later.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal at 10:27 pm

BabyLog for 16 Nov 2008


So, Mathias picked today to start walking.



Like many things with the baby, the timing was unexpected. (Ironically, we had a developmental specialist from Minneapolis Public Schools scheduled to drop by tomorrow. All kids start walking when they’re good and ready, but at almost 17 months, Mathias was getting near the point where it was recommended we just check in to make sure everything was OK.)  We’d just gotten back from grocery shopping, and after unpacking I settled down with Mathias in the living room.  He was in a bit of a roughneck mood, so I got down on the floor with him, and eventually found myself laying between the couch and the coffee table.  I watched him as he stood up a couple of feet from the coffee table and the couch–he’s been standing independently for a few weeks now–and pondered the couch just out of his reach.  He thought about it for a moment, and then gave three quick steps over to the couch. It wasn’t graceful, but it got the job done.

I yelled for Lisa, and she was there a moment later, but Mathias didn’t immediately repeat his accomplishment.  It wasn’t until an hour later, after a bath and a failed attempt at going to to bed, that he found himself leaning on me next to my chair in the living room, his mom sitting separately a few feet away.  After a couple of minutes of encouragement from his parents, he carefully walked between us, first with Lisa and I providing a small amount of balance to him, but soon enough with him walking on his own.  In all, he probably walked 20 feet independently this evening.  And you know what?  He loved it.

I see a lot of practice walking in the near future, but soon enough, our little guy is going to be unstoppable.

And with that, it’s time to write Mathias’ grandparents…

Posted in BabyLog,Journal at 10:50 pm

BabyLog for 26 October 2008


So, I’m going to interrupt the study-ridden period know as my weekend to talk about the wonderful little toddler we have in our house.   In other words, consider this my warning that there’s a long baby entry ahead.

We’re almost done with October, but I’m going to start with September. Why?  September was a big month for Mathias. For one, we started taking him to a daycare near Lisa’s work, both to add a little more stability to Lisa’s schedule—she now works three afternoons in a row—and to get Mathias into an environment where he can get a lot of interaction with toddlers his age. (The daycare also has a basic curriculum, which is nice.) It may be a bit tough for him as he’s the only one who can’t walk independently—not completely surprising as he is the youngest in his room—but hopefully he’ll get a bit more brave on the walking bit as he sees his cohorts running around.

At home, he’s all over the place. Lisa and him went to Madison last weekend, which gave me some time to finish some babyproofing (but not quite enough time). Most of the items that could be a threat to him have already been taken care of, so at this point it’s more about what we can do to prevent him from destroying the house. While he’s doesn’t have the balance thing completely figured out, he can stand and walk if he has something to hold onto or lean on, which means he can pretty much make his way around the apartment at standing-level. If it’s at table-level or below, he can and will get at it.

On the plus side, he’s kind of lost interest in the litter box, although I’m still going to try to build something around it. The challenge is preventing the baby from accessing the litter box without preventing the cat from doing the same. Untraining a housebroken feline would be a bad thing.

~ ~ ~

A challenge for Mathias trying to walk may be his body shape: According to his most recent checkup, his head is in the 90th percentile, and he’s in the 70th percentile for height, but in the weight category he’s only in the 20th percentile. I suspect his center of gravity is probably quite a bit higher than many his age.

~ ~ ~

Mathias has been very talkative as of late. Most of it’s still baby babble, but his use of actual words has been increasing. Mama, dada, kitty, are common. “A-da,” Mathias’ rough translation at “all done” is on the books, although we haven’t heard it for a while. His most recent word is “clock,” although it often comes out “cock,” which is a bit unfortunate. The word may be a bit difficult for him, as it’s his first monosyllable word, where everything up to this point has been two-syllable.

Does he actually know what he’s saying when he says “clock?”  His errors in recognition are just as telling as the times he’s correct.  When in Madison, he started saying “clock” when he spotted the round thermometers in the refrigerated cases at the grocery store, and at a recent swimming lesson he “clocked” the pace clock from the middle of the pool.

For a while it seemed his use of “dada” was more about parental units than me in particular, but he seems to have the differentiation down now. One of the most grotesquely heartwarming things I’ve ever had happen came just a few weeks ago while I was carrying Mathias down the hall. He was in one of his quietly contented baby states, fully awake but with two of his fingers in his mouth. (Instead of his thumb, he usually sucks on his left middle and ring fingers.) At one point turned at me and paused, as if to study me. He pulled his fingers out of his mouth, matter-of-factly said “dada,” and put his fingers back in. It wasn’t as much what he said as the look on his face and how he said it—I suddenly had the recognition that, holy shit, he actually knows.

There’s quite a difference between knowing you’re a dad, and knowing your son knows you’re his dad. And, trust me, it’s a big one.  The flips side is, I’ll be holding him, and he’ll be all “mama mama mama.”  So I’ll hand him to his mom, and he’ll reach for me and start dada-ing.

So, he’s definitely developed a preference among his parents: both.

Back to studying. More later.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal at 9:34 pm

Journal for 2 September 2008


And so Tuesday brings us back to reality. It’ll be a short week, but a busy one, with my stats class starting on Thursday, the first meeting with my India-bound class on Friday, and a bus trip to Door County on Saturday.  On top of that, there’s the continuous battle to not go all day-trader on news on the RNC.  There’s also the urge to actually go over to St. Paul, of course, but my dear wife would go postal on me if I did that.

Note to Levi Johnston: Marriage involves compromises. Get ready, bucko.

~ ~ ~

The Labor Day weekend was interesting. On Saturday we headed over to St. Paul to check out the convention prep, and on Sunday we joined a the throngs watching the Liberty Parade in downtown Minneapolis.  Labor day brought some laboring around the apartment, which was moderately successful aside from my spectacularly failed attempt at rehanging my clothing rack.  Turns out my stud finder wasn’t finding studs as much as thicker points in the plaster. So, yeah, that turned out poorly.

~ ~ ~

One baby update: On Saturday morning, Lisa walked into his room and found him standing on the side of his crib, quite pleased with himself.  To our knowledge, this marks the first time Mathias has stood up without adult assistance.  He seems to be getting close to figuring out the entire balance thing, too, so Lisa and I are quietly awaiting the little man to go through a mobility upgrade.  He seemed close once before, but then he figured out the crawling thing and got sidetracked.

And with that, I have work to do. More later.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal at 10:46 pm

BabyLog for 15 July: Baby Going Mobile


Warning: Long baby entry ahead.

I’m not sure what it was about the trip to Madison, but it seemed to have flipped a switch in Mathias causing him to find all new kinds of mobility.  He hasn’t started crawling–and, really, it’s increasingly starting to look like he’s going to skip that step–but all indications are the baby is about to make it difficult for us to keep track of him.

The changes started making themselves evident almost as soon as we got back from Madison.  Lisa gave me a call at work with the news the day after we returned.  Mathias had already been standing up using the coffee table and other items for balance for a month or so, but that day he realized he could move his feet while holding the table for balance. Lisa watched him slowly make his way down to the end of the table, where he eventually began crying until she picked him and put him around the corner. And so the cycle went: Walk, cry, get help from mom, repeat.

I have a patient wife.

I saw Mathias’ newfound skill first-hand last week Wednesday.  Mathias was again holding onto the coffee table, with Lisa sitting on the couch behind him.  I sat down on the floor at the end of the table and started talking to Lisa, and within a minute Mathias had made his way over to me.  He seemed quite pleased with this accomplishment. Or, at least, he did until he decided he wanted to turn the corner.

The other (and unfortunately somewhat more frustrating news) is that Mathias has learned how to sit up in bed.  In the big that’s a good thing, but the current problem is that he hasn’t figured how to lay back down yet.  The past few nights were extended well past his bed time as Lisa and I tried to get him down for the night.  All of the sudden we don’t have a baby as much as we have a little robot programmed to auto-sit.  Literally the moment after laying him down he flips onto his stomach, crunches his knees, and uses his arms to push himself into a sitting postion.  Over and over and over again.  Indeed, the only time he’ll relent and go down is when he’s completely and totally exhausted himself from sitting.  Earlier today Lisa watched as he basically passed out while sitting, resulting in a nasty meeting with the side of his crib.  You can guess how that went over.

On my list for this weekend: Babyproofing.

Posted in BabyLog at 11:42 pm

Parenting in Minnesota


It seems that just about everyone born in Minnesota decides to stay here, meaning young families often have extensive support systems in the form of grandparents and relatives.  Of course, Lisa and I aren’t from around these parts, and so the past week has been rather challenging.

While in Madison we got the bad news that the two-year-old son of one of Lisa’s close friend Aimee was in the hospital with an unknown illness.  Aside from the obvious concern we had for him, this presented us with the practical problem of losing our childcare for the week.  Aimee and Lisa both work part time, and set up a babysitting agreement where each takes care of the other’s son for a few hours a week.  With both of the other sitters we know busy with day jobs, Lisa scrambled to cobble together sitters for the week.  I ended up having to work from home one morning, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if not for an important meeting I had to call into rather than attend in person.  (I was the only person not in the meeting room; the conference bridge had been set up just for me.)

We survived, of course, and in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t as bad as having our son in the hospital, but it did illustrate how we’re a bit on our own compared to many other parents in the area.  Sure, this may sound like a generalization, but it would take more than two hands for me to count the parents we know that have family around here, while for the parents who don’t…  Well, to my count, we only know two.

~ ~ ~

Over the past year Lisa has made some good connections with other moms in our neighborhood, and, to be sure, we have many friends around here we can count on.  For me, though, weeks like the one we just had are just another encouragement for me to get out of Minnesota.  That doesn’t mean I’d want to move closer to family, but it does mean I’d be interested in finding someplace where not “everyone is from around here,” wherever that “here” may be.

~ ~ ~

For what it’s worth, Aimee’s son is back home, still sick, but doing better.  He’d apparently caught a nasty virus that had been making the rounds.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal at 11:27 pm

TraveLog: Back to Minneapolis


One last warm, humid night in Madison. Tomorrow, it’ll be time to head back home.

Mathias and Nora’s dedications went well. I got kind of cranky about the sermon–I predicted references to Stephen Jay Gould, and we ended up getting a whole section–but the dedication portion at least was nice. I don’t want to say more about our time at the Unitarian society itself, as we were self-invited guests and put ourselves (and our baby) up to it. I can say, though, that if anything, this weekend served as a reminder that I personally don’t see much difference between spirituality and religion–religion, to a large extent, strikes me as little more than organized spirituality–and that I have a deep aversion to pomp and ritual of any sort. While in theory I’m OK with its use to highlight and identify the things we find important, the frequency with which its used to prop up ideas that may not stand up unadorned to scrutiny causes me to become uncomfortable whenever I’m in its presence.

In other words, I doubt I’ll ever regret skipping my college graduation ceremony to go camping.

Anyway, the party after the dedication was cool. My parents were able to drop in for a bit, and Ben and Beth were able to make it down from Two Rivers. It was good to visit everyone, even if the visits themselves were brief.

Mathias slept for most of his party. When out and about today, though, he was consistently chipper.

We have a great baby.

Posted in BabyLog,Journal,Travelog at 11:49 pm

Journal for 23 Jan 2008: Birthdays, Cancer and Mini Golf


My dad emailed this afternoon to let me know my mom had gone in for unexpected surgery today related to her cancer. After a number of failed attempts I was able to get a hold of him this evening, and it sounds like she’s doing OK. I’m not going to go into the details, but it appears her surgery today was actually to fix some scaring the had resulted from another surgery a few years back. One positive side effect of the surgery is the doctor was able to directly check in on her cancer, and from all indications it has pretty much stayed as it was a few years ago.

So, considering the situation, things are about as good as they can be, I guess.

~ ~ ~

Mathias had his first official birthday party on Saturday, and it went pretty well. We had a good crowd–about 25 adults and rambunctious kids–although we ended up completely overstocked in the cupcake department. (Forgetting how freakin’ huge Lund’s cupcakes are, we figured about 1.5 cupcakes per person. Instead, people were cutting them in half.) Mathias seemed to have a good time, too. For the first 30 minutes or so he was kind of like “who the heck are all these people,” but eventually he seemed to get into the chaos.

We let Mathias have at two cupcakes. Result: Lots of laughter, and one extremely wired baby. It proved to be a stupid-parent move in more ways than one, though: One of the cupcakes had chocolate in it, which is a no-no for a child of his age.

Anyway, it was fun, and Lisa did a good job organizing. Photos should be up on Flickr soon.

~ ~ ~

After the birthday crowd had cleared out Lisa and I walked Mathias downtown via the Walker. Rock The Garden was in full effect, and the land on which Ralph Rapson’s wonderful old Guthrie Theater once stood was filled by spectators. I wonder how many of them realized that in their arc they were mimicking the seating of the old theater.

Despite active attempts on my part, it may be a while before I get over the demolition. What we had then: The most innovative U.S. theater design of the 20th Century. What we have now: Mini golf.


Posted in BabyLog,Journal at 10:20 pm
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