Friday, December 29, 2006

First Walk, Then Board

Another Christmas tradition in our family is skiing/snowboarding. Obviously, skiing is something you can do throughout the winter, but these days it seems that we only go at Christmastime. With work and other responsibilities, it's hard to find time to go, but you can usually squeeze in a trip to the hill during your Christmas vacations. Unfortunately, this is the case for a lot of people, and we all end up on the slopes at the same time. As a result, Christmas is the worst time to go out.

Yesterday, I went up to Solitude Mountain Resort with my brother and his two oldest kids. Solitude claims to have the smallest crowds, but the workers said it was still one of the busiest days they've seen so far. My brother, his daughter and his son have all been learning to snowboard this year. His daughter (A-L) has learned quite quickly and has become more skilled than her younger brother (A-S). Instead of waiting around for A-S to work his way down the hill, A-L and I went off and skied the whole afternoon together. Here's a picture on the chairlift:

A-L is only 10 years old (almost 11). I remember the Christmas 10 years ago when we saw her take her first steps. I spent much of that vacation walking her around my grandma's house, with her little hands clinging to my fingers. It's amazing to think that little baby has already grown old enough to be out snowboarding and to actually be pretty good at it. She had some big wipeouts, but she was lots of fun.

Maybe 10 years from now I'll be on the chairlift and fighting the Christmas crowds with my own kid(s). Hopefully, my joints will still work, since I'll be nearly 40.

By then I'll probably enjoy the break I'll get from waiting in line.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bowling Balls, Etc

Here are a few pictures from the last day or two. This first one is of me throwing a bowling ball with my brother's family in the student center at Idaho State University (in Pocatello) yesterday. If you look closely, you can see that my nephew and I are matching in our camoflage shirts.

The next one is a shot of R and the bowling ball she's hiding under her sweater. It's amazing how quickly her tummy has grown in the last few weeks. We look at that and we wonder how it can get much bigger, but we know that there are still 4 months to go. Wow.

This last one is the Hulk Hogan & Friends mural that was painted on the wall of one of the bedrooms in the house in Pocatello that my brother bought earlier in the year. I had to snap a photo of this sweet piece of art before they decide to paint over it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Smart Aleck Brother

We were riding in the car with my younger brother T tonight. R said, "Oh, I just felt a little kick."

I was quite excited. I told T, "I've still never felt the kick. I want to feel the kick."

T said, "I'll kick you, if you want."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day - Retroactive

I neglected to make a posting for week 21, since it fell on Christmas Day. It doesn't seem right to leave a gaping hole at week 21, so this posting has been made 5 days later to provide continuity.

According to this week's BabyCenter, the baby is slightly heavier than last week and a little bit longer. We're up half an inch to 10.5 inches, and up to 12 ounces from 10.5 last week. Being a child of the Metric System, I don't know much about ounces. Apparently, 12 ounces is 3/4 of a pound. I know about pounds...and inches. Despite the metrification of the masses, inches and pounds have persisted as the common measures of height and weight. Of course, official documents (like a driver's license) show centimeters and kilograms, which doesn't mean much to people.

BabiesOnline tries to reach out to the Metric Vote by providing the baby's length in both: 27-30 cm or 10-10.5 inches. But anyone who had one of those plastic yellow rulers in school knows that 30 cm is more like 12 inches than 10.5 inches. It is strange that they would bother to provide Metric and Imperial measurements on BabiesOnline without checking to see if they actually matched up properly. I guess Metric babies grow faster than Imperial babies.

Now we're all wondering what fruit is 10.5 inches long. Well, we just measured a jug of eggnog and it was exactly 10.5 inches long (26.67 cm). This seems like an appropriate comparison, given that it was Christmas Day.

I tried eggnog with a bit of Sprite mixed in and I thought it was fantastic. Give it a try.

We named the drink "Monkey Fizz".

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Dinosaur

Season's Greetings from the Christmas Dinosaur!

Yesterday we went to the museum of natural history with my brother and his family. While we were there, we saw the Christmas Dinosaur. Some people don't believe in the Christmas Dinosaur, despite the fact that I have photographic evidence. Some people say that the photos are actually pictures of me wearing a triceratops head. These people will never see their special wishes come true.

I wished that R would be able to get over her sinus cold, so that she would feel better.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sick At Christmas

We have a Christmas tradition in our little family. For several years now, R has gotten sick at Christmas. Sometimes, I get sick too, but the most reliable part of the tradition is that R gets sick.

We figure that December is one of the busiest and most stressful parts of the year for her. There is so much going on, and it begins to get stacked up several layers deep until we finally fly away somewhere for the holidays. She works like mad to get everything done, and then she just disintegrates for the actual holiday.

It's a combination of things: a student recital, buying & shipping gifts, church assignments, other loose ends, lack of sleep, colder weather, recirculated airplane air, cabin pressure, and probably many more.

This year is not much different. R felt a bit of a scratchy throat coming on two days before we were supposed to leave. So far, it hasn't really hit her, and we're hoping that it will narrowly miss, so that we can go see our little baby nephew, who has a sensitive lung because his other organs were in the way when it was supposed to be developing. We're still hopeful. Unfortunately, because R is pregnant, she can't take her favourite booster supplement that helps ward off colds.

Despite this slight nuisance, we are getting really excited about Christmas. We haven't done much decorating at our house the last few years, since we're usually not around for the holiday. Being at my brother's place has really helped to light a fire under our yule log, figuratively speaking.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy holiday season. Hopefully, our little Christmas tradition will not spread to your family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lucky Travellers

Back in October, we booked plane tickets to visit family for Christmas. We used flyer miles to book our flights at a leisurely departure time (11:30am) and congratulated ourselves on constructing such perfect plans.

Then we got a notice from the airline that our flight, which was supposed to go Ottawa-Chicago-SLC was changed to Ottawa-Chicago-Denver-SLC, but without really changing the times. I wasn't too thrilled about the idea, because I figured we'd have trouble getting out of Chicago on time and could miss our flight out of Denver. I called up the airline and they let me change to an earlier Ottawa-Chicago-SLC schedule, but we had to leave Ottawa at 6:55am. I wasn't too excited about it, but I changed it. You may remember last week's post about being on the phone with the booking agent when the phone was going wonky.

It's a good thing I changed it. Here's the notice that was on the United Airlines website last night when we looked at the travel forecast:
Denver snowstorm travel advisory

Due to the significant winter storm, Denver International Airport will be closed until noon, Friday, December 22. As a result, United is canceling all flights into and out of Denver until that time. Please continue to follow the suggestions below regarding rebooking on another flight. We continue to work to accommodate our customers and get them to their destinations safely and as soon as possible.

A winter storm in Colorado is causing flights to be delayed or canceled. In order to make your travel as smooth as possible, United is offering a ticket waiver from December 20-27 for those impacted by the storm.
As it turns out, every flight in or out of the Denver Airport today was cancelled or severely delayed. They say there is a huge backlog of people trying to get in/out for Christmas.

Man am I glad I called the airline.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

First Baby Video

As promised, here is the video from our Week-18 ultrasound. It's pretty fuzzy, especially after I uploaded it to Google. Oh well.

It's a boy!

BabyCenter Was Here

I check the logs for this blog on a regular basis. I find it exciting to see that people are visiting the site and it helps motivate me to keep writing.

Typically, you learn the following about a visitor from the logs:
  • IP address (and sometimes the company name)

  • Location of IP registration

  • Page(s) visited

  • Linked from
This is not a lot of detail about visitors, but sometimes it is enough for me to figure out who they are. For example, my parents live in Parker, Colorado (near Denver). When I see someone hit the site from Parker, I figure it's probably my mom. In places like Ottawa, or Calgary, it's nearly impossible to figure out -- unless the company name is included with the IP. I have a friend who works for Petro Canada, so I can tell when he hits the blog from work.

A few weeks ago, I saw an interesting visitor pop up from California. The company name said "BabyCenter". I couldn't believe it! Someone at had deigned to visit my little blog. What was more exciting, they came back and visited again the next day. I imagined a crowd of office workers gathered around a single monitor, reading the blog out loud to each other in total bliss.

I wondered, what had I written that had prompted this celebrity house call? Looking at the postings for those two days, I think I figured it out:

I had suggested that was a pawn of the corrupt avocado lobby (aka Big Guac). Whoops.

I haven't seen them back since.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bubbles and Kicks

Another successful visit to the kindly ultrasound people. Another baby photo, as well. This one isn't as clear as the last one, which is kind of disappointing. On the other hand, it is a neat demonstration of baby flexibility. If you look closely, you can see the the baby's foot is right in front of his forehead:

I certainly can't do that anymore.

The doctor came in afterwards and informed us that everything looked wonderful. The bones are the anticipated length and the spine and brain look healthy and intact. We got a few close-up looks at the heart, which was fascinating. The technician also corroborated earlier reports that the child is indeed a boy.

According to their measurements, our yet-unnamed son is slightly larger than average, corresponding closer to 21.5 weeks than 20.5. Perhaps he's got his father's enormous head, and that is skewing their calculations. The heart rate was 155, which is healthy. They also noted that he was very active during the scan. This is the reverse of our previous visit, when the child remained somber and contemplative, holding long poses for the camera.

I was amazed at how high the baby is sitting. In previous scans, they were looking just below R's beltline. This time, they were just below her solarplexus. It might have something to do with the extraordinary volumes of water R consumed beforehand, in her earnest desire to comply with all instructions. They did one one more scan with an empty bladder, to check on the location of the placenta. It is still apprears to be anchored quite low, so they will watch it closely as things expand.

"Expansion" is definitely the right term. This tummy is getting bigger every day, and it is very, very cute. Recently, the baby's kicks have gotten substantial enough for R to notice. What felt like little bubbles of air moving and popping turned out to be little feet moving around. The baby's forehead was probably itchy.

Unfortunately, the kicks are still small enough that I can't feel them, but I could listen to the heartbeat -- if I had a stethoscope. Apparently, after week 20 the heart is audible with a stethoscope. I don't have one, so I'll try the time-honoured eavesdropping technique of placing a water glass between my ear and R's stomach.

That's not so strange, you know. According to wikipedia, "Before the stethoscope was invented, doctors placed their ear next to the patient's body in hopes of hearing something."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ultrasound - Round 3

Tomorrow is ultrasound number three. This time, they are going to take a close look at the baby's neck and head. This is the alternative to having an amniocentesis, which we nixed previously.

Originally, we were excited about the ultrasound as a shameless opporunity to peek at the baby again. However, the other day I was speaking to a friend of ours (JS) who will soon give birth to her 5th child (or is it her 6th?) and she said that they haven't had an ultrasound for any of their children since the first one. She wonders if they're dangerous for the baby's health. I wonder if it's getting too hard on the pocketbook. The pictures are 5 bucks and the DVDs are $25. I really shouldn't get another one, but I'm tempted.

We told the other people in our prenatal class about the DVD, and they were pretty impressed.

Another thing JS told us about was her inability to get out of bed. Apparently, her stomach is large enough that she can't use her abs to sit up. Instead, her husband helps to roll her out of bed. That's wicked.


R's tummy is getting dramatically larger, but we won't start rolling her around the house anytime soon. I snapped a picture back on December 7 when she was curling her hair because I thought she looked cute in her maternity sweater. I'll take some more pictures soon so you can see the change:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hump Day

We have officially hit the half-way point. This is cause for celebration and trepidation. As R said last night, it's scary because now we start counting DOWN. And we all know what comes at the end of the countdown -- labour.

According to this week, the baby is supposed to be about 10.5 ounces and about 6.5 inches "from crown to rump." For the first time, they also provide a "head to foot" measurement, estimating a whopping 10 inches. The baby has already reached half of his birth length. No wonder that belly is getting larger.

No fruit this week. Babycenter left us high and dry. Luckily, I've learned a little bit about produce comparisons over the last 20 weeks. In my opinion, the baby is now about the size of a large, cultivated eggplant. This distinction is important, because cultivated eggplants (also called aubergines) grow larger than regular ones. They can be 12-25 cm long, which is about 10 inches. If you imagine the baby curling his feet under a bit, then you probably get the shape and size of an aubergine.

Have you ever tried Spam & Aubergine Casserole? Neither.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

How Not To Be Seen

R has two recitals each year for her singing students, one in December, the other in June. The Christmas recital was yesterday (Saturday). It is usually a stressful time for her, because she has to accompany the students in singing nearly 25 songs.

R had not told any of her students about being pregnant because she didn't want to lose valuable preparation time in their lessons talking about pregnancy. In fact, she hid it from them all the way until the end of the recital, when she finally made an announcement. She carried a binder around with her the entire time before the recital started, as a way to hide her bulging tummy. Nobody noticed. R picked up this handy trick from one of the piano teachers she works with. This lady managed to do a recital at 7 months pregnant without anyone noticing.

Eventually, people will notice. But if you don't say anything, they might feel awkward asking, in case they are mistaken.

We recently watched the Hugh Grant / Sandra Bullock movie Two Weeks Notice, which has just such an awkward situation. Hugh Grant interiews a prospective secretary and asks her a question about "the baby." The woman (who is obviously overweight) looks at him and says, "What baby?" Leaving him to "Hugh-Grant" his way out of the situation in his trademark uncomfortable way. If you haven't seen the film, you really needn't bother. Hugh Grant was funny, but that was the only thing going for it.

There are better ways to handle the situation, and R encountered one of them this week. At her other job, in which she helps record depositions and such for legal cases, she works with lawyers. This week, one of the lawyers (who obviously noticed her mildly protruding stomach) asked her if she had any children. This is a very diplomatic approach. I'll have to remember that one for the future. However, Hugh Grant should ignore this example and just keep doing what he's doing -- for the sake of comedy.

(For more detailed instructions about How Not To Be Seen, see the original video.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Polling Results

For the last week I have been meaning to summarize the results of the predictions we received regarding the child's gender. If I'd realized the quantity or the quality of the voting, perhaps I would not have bothered. Regardless, the votes are in and they have been counted.

It is worthy to note that the Chinese Lunar Calendar was incorrect, as well as traditional method of interpreting by heart rate. Congratulations to those who guessed correctly (3).
An honourable mention to those who guessed "one of each" (1) and "either" (1). I love democracy.

Historical Note: Today I made a presentation culminating 2 months of work. It was only 15 minutes long, but I managed to work in a plastic funnel as a prop. I did not poll the audience, but I think that at least 3 in 4 would say that they were "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the event. The other 25 percent are probably the type of people who would cast a ballot for "either" in a baby gender poll. You know the type I'm talking about.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Travel Plans Put On Hold

Here's my email to the phone company that I just sent:

Hello Customer Care,

I am currently a phone customer with your service. I have been having a problem on my phone line ever since I signed up with you a few months ago. It's as if the call is being put on hold, but I have no control over it. It is a terrible, terrible nuisance:

On a frequent basis, the conversation will suddenly be interrupted. On my end, I get a dial tone. On the other end, the caller gets music. It's as if they've been put on hold. If I hang up the phone, it rings again and the connection resumes. This will sometimes happen several times in the same call. Often, the caller gets confused and hangs up. We've lost several calls that way, and it must be addressed. I thought it might be a passing phenomenon, but it continues to occur. For example, I was on the phone with an airline booking agent this evening, and this happened FOUR TIMES during the call. It was between about 8:10pm and 8:30pm, Eastern Time.

I would call your office, but I spent 40 minutes on hold the last time I called. Please look into this matter and call me. Thank you.

I was calling the airline because they had changed our holiday itinerary by adding an extra connection. In the end, they changed us to a different flight, which leaves quite early in the morning. It was bad news, and the phone problem didn't make things any better.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If You Value Your Sanity...

"Make sure you sleep while you can!"

I hear this haunting refrain more and more frequently these days.  Most recently, it came from one of my coworkers, whose wife gave birth to their first child earlier in the year.  He did not seem himself.  His movements were somewhat jerky, and he seemed frayed around the edges.  For a full 5 minutes, he told me how completely exhausted he was, and how there was no hope for me.  Usually, my excitement allows me to shrug off any such concerns, but this guy actually started to get me worried.  That was the point.  He was trying to prepare me for impending bouts of sleep-deprivation.

Another one of my coworkers has a 7-year-old boy.  Over the 4+ years that I've known this guy, he's often come in late, dishevelled and somewhat disoriented.  Sometimes, he doesn't come in at all, and I hear that he's had to stay home for "family" reasons.  His wife isn't much of a morning person, so he's responsible to get their son up, dressed and off to school.  Sometimes, especially if someone in the house is sick, things fall apart.  On one occasion, when he rolled into work just before lunch with a 3-day beard, he looked at me and he said,

"If you value your sanity, do not have children."

Then he collapsed into his chair.  I suppose that was supposed to be a warning as well.  I have always figured that the positive aspects of raising children must completely outweigh any of the inconveniences.  I certainly hope that I'm right.  Some of these guys make me a little nervous.

Monday, December 11, 2006

From A to Zucchini

On several occasions in the past, I have found fault with the food comparisons. I hope to make amends this week. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, says this week that our baby is "6 inches, head to bottom -- about the length of a small zucchini." At first I found this statement strange, because I do not imagine the baby to be shaped like a sausage. But after thinking about it for a minute, I've decided that the baby isn't exactly round, either. If you are going to compare a child to produce, a zucchini is just as legitimate as an onion, or a kumquat or whatever.

Did you know that zucchinis (also called courgettes) are usually picked and eaten when they are quite immature? According to Wikipedia, "Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long, but are often fibrous and not appetizing to eat." Zucchinis can be round, too.

With the recent knowledge that we're having a boy zucchini (and not a courgette), we sat down to look at some names. Saturday evening we trolled through an online database of names, beginning with A. An hour later, we reached Zachary & co and we still hadn't found any that we thought worthy of writing down. This is going to be a lot harder than we first thought. We are feeling the pressure to come up with something soon, mainly to stop our friends from calling the child "Parkin". If you think about it, you will probably understand why that's funny.

Here's a quote from YPWBY (p. 180) to keep you informed:
An easy way to check your iron level is to examine the inside of your lower eyelid. If you're getting enough iron, it should be dark pink.

In case you were wondering, the doctor said during last week's appointment that the baby is approximately 10 ounces, which is a hair above average for this stage. The heart beat was right on target. The only bad news was that the egg implanted a little low, meaning that the placenta might be blocking the exits when the time comes for the baby to vacate. This does not spell disaster, but they will be watching in future ultrasounds to see how close it will really be when everything stretches out.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guess What? It's A ...


Today we got to sit back and watch one of the best movies I've ever seen. Within seconds of the beginning, we could see the grainy profile of our little baby. Elements of the skeleton were particularly visible, and we saw legs kick and arms move. It was fantastic. It lasted less than 15 minutes, but it was good from start to finish. In fact, it even had a surprise ending.

At first, the sonographer said that she couldn't tell the gender, because the clever child had crossed its feet tightly. However, the baby warmed up to us in the several minutes while measurements were being taken, deciding that we meant no harm.

The technician said, "You wanted to know the gender?"

I said, "Yes, if you think you can figure it out."

She said, "I think I already know." I had been watching the screen the whole time, but I still didn't know. Instead of just telling us, she provided us with irrefutable evidence:

It's a boy. A healthy little boy.

This is a special moment in history. We are bucking the trend in a big way. On my side of the family, there have been mostly girls. On both sides, every first-born has been a girl. Look at our siblings:
D's Brother- G B G G
D's Sister--- G B G B
D's Brother- G G B G G
R's sister--- G B
That makes a total of 15 children, 10 of them girls, 5 of them boys.

We are glad to help even out the teams, but really, we're just happy to have a swelling tummy with a cute little baby in there. We liked our little movie so much, we ordered the DVD. We have a 3-minute film of fuzzy little kicks and turns, and it's fantastic. We'll post a short clip soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Day More

'Tis the night before the ultrasound,
and all through the house,
everyone is wondering,
is it a boy or a girl?

That is bad poetry, but it is very, very accurate. Our ultrasound appointment is tomorrow morning. That means this might be your last chance to guess whether the baby will be a boy or a girl. Several of you have already put your vote forward, so you don't need to vote again -- these aren't the Belarusian elections, after all.

We are pretty excited to solve the great gender mystery. We're also a little nervous, because this is a big day. Perhaps the better thing to say is:

...and all through the house,
everyone is very ner-vouse.

That sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Maternity Pants

R went out and bought herself some maternity pants at the Gap yesterday. They were marked down from $88 to $21 -- a fantastic value. What makes this especially impressive is that she bought them without anyone there to convince her that it was a good idea. That is usually my job. I don't need any encouragement to buy stuff. Quite the contrary, in fact. We make a great team: I tell her to buy stuff and she tells me not to.

The pants have a wide elastic band at the top which can be folded down if it's in the way, or worn right across the belly (R unfolded it for the picture). Since her stomach is not huge yet, she just folded it down today. R says it's so comfortable, she doesn't understand why all pants aren't made this way.

Look at that cute tummy!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ipomoea Batatas, Sweet!

vegetables seem to be the new thing. In the beginning, there were quite a few beans and nuts. Then came the fruit. The fruit have slowly been giving way to vegetables.

This week, informs us that our baby is the size of a sweet potato. Hang on -- it's the size of a large sweet potato. Let's make sure that is clear. The distinction is somewhat lost on me because I am not a big consumer of yams. In fact, all I really know about sweet potatoes is that they appear on the dinner table on Thanksgiving with marshmallows on top. When I was younger, I wasn't a big fan, but they've grown on me with age.

My stunted relationship with the sweet potato (called Ipomoea Batatas) is somewhat justified. Although the crop is indigenous to the Americas, 80 percent is grown in China, and half of that is used to feed livestock. The ones they don't eat or feed to their animals are exported to Japan and other countries of the Pacific. You see, people in the Solomon Islands eat 160kg of the stuff each year. Average consumption in the US is less than 2kg per year. That's 1kg at Thanksgiving and 1kg at Christmas, pretty much.

I hope to have a better relationship with this child than I have had with the sweet potato. I like to think I can learn from my past, and escape from the trappings of my North American heritage.

In other news, we had our first pre-natal class tonight. I probably should have spent more time on that, but the fruit-meter has become a bit of a tradition.

Our class has about 10 couples, and we are all due within May, give or take a week. It was fun to look around the room and compare tummies. R has a pretty good-sized tummy, so she represented us well. We'll meet every Monday until the end of January -- taking two weeks off for Christmas. I wasn't sure what to expect in the class, but it was fun and I'm looking forward to next week.

We're supposed to bring pillows and a blanket for "nap time." I'm not sure what that's all about.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Freezing Rain

Ottawa is a special place for many reasons: It is a blend of English and French culture, sitting right on the border between Ontario and Quebec; it has a beautiful canal and several rivers; and of course, it is the capital of Canada.

Even when compared with other capitals, Ottawa is still outstanding is several respects. According to Wikipedia:
- 7th coldest capital in the world (avg temp -1.3 C)
- 2nd lowest temperature recorded in a capital (-36.1 C)
- freezing rain is very prevalent

We had a heavy dose of freezing rain this afternoon. In a matter of about an hour, it had completely encased our car in ice. Unfortunately, I still hadn't put the ice scraper back in the car, and I didn't have any other suitable tools for removing the ice (ie: jackhammer). I found a bungee cord in the car and used the plastic-coated hook to scrape through the ice and slush that I was slowly thawing by running the engine. Luckily, it was still warm enough outside that it hadn't had a chance to freeze completely. Otherwise, I would still be there now.

Tonight is supposed to be the live outdoor Nativity Pageant. What a miserable night for it. Murphy's Law, I guess. A few years ago we helped with the pageant and it turned out to be colder than -30 C the first night. That's one the of the reasons why they moved it up to the beginning of December, I bet. I wonder which one is better? I think I'd take the -30 C, actually. Getting pelted by that rain is miserable, and it's murder to drive in.

Come and visit Ottawa sometime. We can't make any guarantees on the weather, but the chances are pretty good you'll get something new and interesting.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Underneath His Beard So Snowy White

I'm hiding upstairs. I have to stay up here until 7:30.

In case you didn't know, R is a singing teacher. Wednesdays are at the academy and Thursdays are here at home. I don't want the students to feel self-conscious, so I hole up in the office until the coast is clear. Tonight I've got the soundtrack from The Drowsy Chaperone to keep me company. It can get old to hear these students sing the same song several times in a row, so it's nice to have some alternatives.

Earlier this evening, R was getting ready for her lessons by practicing one of the carols on the piano. She was playing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, which has the following lyrics:
I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn't see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked
up in my bedroom fast asleep.

Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night
Most carols are about things kids understand, things like snow, sleighbells, Rudolph and baby Jesus. Not this one. I remember singing it as a kid in elementary. All the students would gather in the gym and we would sing carol after carol. I still remember my confusion about this song every time we sang it.

When you are still young enough to believe in Santa, it is difficult to understand why he and your mom would be kissing on Christmas Eve.

My young mind would try to find an logical explanation -- perhaps Santa was standing under some mistletoe. If so, why the tickling under the beard? You can see how troubling this might have been for me. My confusion was compounded by fear... fear for Santa's safety. In the song, they say "what a laugh it would have been if Daddy had only seen." I think Santa would have a lot of explaining to do, and I don't think anyone would be laughing.

In fact, I think Pops would have decked him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sears Deal: Truth or Fiction?

In a comment to this posting, J&L said that they'd heard from their nurse that purchases on a Sears card are free if your baby is born on the due date. I am generally suspicious of this sort of thing, so I thought I'd check it out.

I searched all over the internet without finding any other mention of such a program. The Sears site doesn't have any information, and I couldn't find any bloggers talking about it. I think the only thing left to do is to call the baby department at a Sears store to ask them directly. I would do it right now, but the stores are likely closed at the moment.

Suppose that this is true -- do they have conditions covering induced labour? If not, you could buy all sorts of crazy stuff and then prevail upon your doctor to induce you on the due date. Then you could turn your baby's arrival into a big scam. What a way to start life -- accessory to fraud.

Is it really is true that Sears will refund you the value of your baby-related purchases should your baby be born on the due date? Has anyone out there heard anything more about this? I would like to know... for educational purposes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cradle Full of Thoughts

Some friends of ours (B&B) from church gave us a cradle. They dropped it off last night. It's our first item of baby paraphernalia. It's interesting that we should get it from them. They went through thirteen years of frustration before they finally decided to adopt two children. Thirteen years!. B&B have been good examples for us as we were dealing with our fertility woes. They also loaned us two books: one about coping with not having kids, and one about adoption.

Then today I found this blog about infertility, while I was looking up something else. The blog belongs to a pair of writers who are now authoring a book, to help educate the rest of society about "the feelings and needs of those experiencing infertility." Sounds like a worthy project.

All of this reminded me of the feelings that we had just a few months ago, when it was uncertain if we would ever be able to have kids. While we are relieved to know that it's possible, and now we have a bit of a reprieve, at times like this I can't help but wonder if we'll be able to have any more kids. Ideally, we would like several kids who are close enough in age to be friends and have fun together.

Well, for now, we'll just forget about our fertility problems and enjoy the excitment.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Large Onion

I have been advised that some responsibilities around the house need to take precedence over the blog for the next few days. I'll be brief.

According to, the baby is now the size of a large onion (5 inches). I think I know exactly what they're talking about. I've seen some big onions before. You might remember the picture of the enormous onion rings from the Iceberg Drive Inn, which I posted in week 11.

We also ran into some big onions Labour Day weekend when my brother T was in town. We went to the "Blooming Onion" chip wagon in downtown Ottawa and had their trademark dish. For those who don't know, they serve an onion blossom, which is basically a huge onion that's been cut, battered and deep fried so that it expands like a huge flower. I looked it up on wikipedia and found out that the onions used for this sort of thing are Vidalia Onions, which are large, sweet onions that are grown in Georgia.

I know about large onions. I've seen 'em. I hope you believe me, because I really shouldn't write any more.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


They say the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. It had better be, because there is NO WAY you could cram more people into Macy’s without crowd-surfing. On a whim, we decided to meet up with Kage and J for a morning of shopping and admiring the festive window decorations in the big stores. The only store we went into was Macy’s. We were carried along through the surging humanity, bouncing off displays of jewelry and neckties until we were spewed out into a bit of stillwater near one of the walls. I felt particularly bad for them, because they were trying to navigate the floods with a baby stroller and two little kids.

The people who lined up outside BestBuy for the 5am doorcrasher sale probably got some sweet deals, but we did all our shopping for free. In the end, the only shopping we did was window-shopping. More than fifty blocks worth. The further north you go, the thinner the crowds.

No trip to NYC would be complete without a night at the theatre. This time, we saw The Drowsy Chaperone. I’d read a lot about this one when it made its start in Toronto, and I was pretty excited to see it. I recommend it to anyone who likes musicals and likes to laugh. All of it was funny, but I have to say the bride’s song about the monkey on the pedestal was one of the funniest things I’ve seen on the stage. It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

We’re on our way home now, so it’s all over for this year. Looking back on our six years together, we couldn’t help but notice how much better we are getting at this. When we got married, we were clueless and in love. Now we know much more stuff, and we love each other more than ever.

This time next year we’ll have a 6-month-old baby. Amazing.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Through their 5 years of experience, my cousin (kage) and her husband (J) have figured out the best way to see the Macy’s Day Parade. I shouldn’t give away all their secrets, but I’ll give you a few tips:

Go early.
Go early and dress for the weather.

The plan was to meet J at 6:30am near the intended position on the west side of Central Park, so that we could stake out front-row seats for the parade, which would not begin until 9:00am. Unfortunately, it was cold, rainy and windy at 6:30 … and at 7:30 … and at 8:30 … etc. Instead of a front-row seat on the exposed sidewalk, we opted for a second-row seat under the shelter of some scaffolding. This turned out to be a good move, because we were spared the worst of the rain, but we still got pretty wet traveling to our destination.

From our position, the view was somewhat limited, but we still got a great look at SuperGrover, SpongeBob and the rest of the crew. We also saw such celebrities as Emmitt Smith, Julie Andrews and the Harlem Globetrotters (not all on the same float, however). It was really good, but after several hours, the wet and cold took its toll. We finally had to bail out.

When we showed up at Kage’s house for Thanksgiving Dinner at 1pm, we could still feel the chill in our bones. That didn’t last long, as we tucked into a legitimate FEAST. Kage really knocked herself out preparing it all – literally. As we lingered around the table, nibbling on rolls and wishing we had the capacity to eat one more helping, we noticed Kage had disappeared. She went to check on the baby and crashed. Poor girl had worked so hard. Rightly so. She had cooked up every conceivable Thanksgiving dish.

We spent that night in a hotel near Times Square. We were pleasantly surprised. Not only was it nice, it was a good deal. We were particularly impressed/intrigued that they used a funky yellow lamp to backlight the headboard. The only unnerving thing was the mysterious knocking.

In the night, we heard a knocking at the door. When I figured out what was going on and got to the door, there was no one there. We really weren’t expecting anyone, so I was confused when it happened again a little while later. Only half-dressed, I stumbled to open the door to find what looked like a repairman, standing in the hall with a bucket of ice. He asked, “did you order the ice?” We didn’t order any ice. What circumstances would require a express delivery of ice in the middle of the night?

The Mansfield Hotel: They get plus one point for the yellow light and minus one point for the ice debaucle.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

NYC Part I

The blog was on hiatus while we were out of town. We decided to celebrate our sixth year of marital bliss in the Big Apple. We figure, it’s easier to make this kind of impulse trip now (before we have kids), so we should take every opportunity. And this was a perfect opportunity, really. Our big day corresponded with US Thanksgiving, so we could go down and see the big parade and have a big turkey feast with my cousin and my little brother, who both live there.

Did you know that it only takes 7 hours to drive from Ottawa to New York? Do you know where Ottawa is? Not everyone does. A lot of people asked us where we were visiting from. When we said “Ottawa”, we got quite a few blank looks. We did our best to be ambassadors for Ottawa, telling people about all the great activities that Ottawa has to offer. More than once, we talked about skating on the canal and enjoying Winterlude. In retrospect, this may be a weak selling point. There are probably few people from New York City who are looking to travel north during the winter. We’ll have to come up with some more ideas.

Wednesday was mostly just a travel day. We drove down quite casually, and met up with T (my brother) at his apartment. He and a roommate share a two-bedroom place on the Upper East Side. It’s nice enough, but man is it small! T’s bedroom is big enough for a loft bed with a chair underneath. He moved the chair to the living room so that we could put our inflatable mattress on the floor under the loft bed. Once it was set up, there was almost enough room for two people to stand in the doorway. His roommate had a visitor sleeping on the couch, so we had 5 people jammed into that little place.

I guess they have a lot of visitors – cheap people like us. A decent hotel in Manhattan is at least 100 bucks / night, but usually more like 200 bucks – and that doesn’t include parking. By mooching off these guys, we saved a ton of cash. I did the math, and it costs them nearly $50 each per night to live there. Not a cheap place to live, not a cheap place to visit.

R didn’t do so well on the inflatable mattress. She never sleeps well the first night away from home. It always takes her a day to adapt to a new bed. She didn’t have a lot of time to adapt anyways, since we were getting up early for the parade.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Little Feet Get Bigger

I was reading an excerpt of a male-oriented pregnancy book on yesterday, and it said that a woman's feet can grow by half a shoe size during pregnancy. They don't just get swollen, they actually grow bigger. I found this difficult to understand. I searched the term "pregnant feet grow" in google and guess where it took me? --!

According to the article on, the hormone that helps your bones get ready to deliver a baby also loosens the ligaments in your feet, causing the bones to spread out. As a result, your foot can get noticeably bigger. Get this: it's permanent. Wow.

An article from a rival site ( quotes an expert who says that the "weight of pregnancy lowers the arches, further adding to the foot's length and width." This site emphatically warns against wearing shoes that fit too tightly. They give some brilliant advice on how to determine whether your shoes are too small: trace the sole of your shoe on some paper. Now trace your foot. Now compare the two. Guess what it means if your foot-tracing is bigger than the shoe tracing -- Yep, it means the shoes are too small. Genius!

These guys are going to give a run for their money.

R's feet are tiny (size 6). She has REALLY high arches, though. If her arches were to come down, her foot would probably double in length. Between that and the magic hormones, she's probably going to need to wear my shoes (size 12) before long. Then I'll have to go out and get some more.

Maybe I should get some now, just in case...

Monday, November 20, 2006


We've been telling people that we're just a little past the 3-month mark. We've been saying that for a few weeks, and just yesterday we realized that we're actually closer to the 4-month mark. With this realization, R felt better about the recent expansion of her stomach. At 3 months, it wasn't really supposed to show, but at 4 months, she's right on track. must have taken notice of my previous complaints about imprecise fruit-based measurements. This week they say that the baby is "about the size of an avocado." At first I was confused, because I thought that an avocado was smaller than a softball, meaning we had actually lost ground.

But then I looked up wikipedia's avocado article, which says that an avocado can be 7-20 cm long, and can weigh anywhere from 100g to 1000g. Very clever, babycenter. They picked a fruit that can cover the baby's development for the next 2 months. Very clever, indeed.

I think has some sort of Avocado Agenda. This week's article discusses how to manage weight gain (you should gain 12-14 pounds this trimester). If you aren't gaining enough, they recommend that you "Add avocados to a lunchtime salad (they're nutrient-rich and full of "good" fat.)" Why the sudden preoccupation with avocados?

Perhaps they have constructed their fruit-meter carefully, so that each fruit reminds you of something you are supposed to eat or do to maintain proper health and development. Or perhaps they are funded entirely by the corrupt avocado lobby (called "Big Guac" in certain circles). I think it's Big Guac.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


During this week's reading, R discovered this segment in YPWBW (p179):
Short of taking up a reclusive existence on a desert island, there's no way for a pregnant woman to escape the unsolicited advice of those around her. There's just something about a bulging belly that brings out the "expert" in everyone.
People will see you running and say you shouldn't run. The same will be true about carrying heavy bundles, or stretching. According to the author, most of what you hear is nonsense -- old wives tales, myths, etc. The book recommends that you just take your advice from your doctor. This sounds fine, but the author is not our doctor... does this mean we are to ignore the author's recommendation, as well? What a dizzying conundrum.

The book forewarns the expectant parents of "gratuitous advice and inevitable predictions about the baby." It is interesting to note that every person who has decided to make a prediction about the gender of the baby has made the same prediction. I find this slightly eerie. What do they all know that I don't know?

I would like to solicit your predictions regarding the baby's gender. Please comment below. These are just predictions, not advice, so you are not obligated to become our physician in order to comment.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Good news. The tummy has arrived.

After three months of reading about the baby's growth without much physical evidence, we can proudly say that R is beginning to show -- even if just a little bit. She had already noticed the difference at her waistline in some of her slimmer-fitting pants, but until now it had not been very visible. I guess it's still not very visible, but I can tell. I think it's very exciting.

But remember, just because the tummy is there, that doesn't mean you should rub it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

swallowing spiders

We have an inordinate number of spiders in our house. It's not like "Arachnophobia" or anything, but we probably find one crawling on the wall weekly. Spiders totally freak R out, so I have to deal with them. I have now learned to recognize the sharp intake of breath that is her trademark reaction to seeing a spider. Without exchanging a word, I can follow her gaze to locate the invader. I guess it's nice to feel needed. However, when I'm not around, she somehow musters up the courage to take care of it on her own.

Recently, we found one crawling on the bed. I'll admit, it's quite startling, but I couldn't understand the absolute terror. I asked, "What's it going to do to you? It probably doesn't bite or anything."

R said, "I don't know why it's so scary, it just is." She also mentioned the disgusting possibility -- no matter how remote -- that you might swallow one. This idea had only occurred to her recently, because someone told her that you swallow, on average, eight spiders per year.

I thought that sounded ridiculous, and I went on this long rant about it. Eight spiders? That's nearly one per month! Ridiculous, I tell you.

I looked it up and yes, it is bunk. This is one of the articles I found:

What self-respecting predator would hurl itself into the jaws of a sleeping foe on a regular basis? Just goes to show that you shouldn't believe everything you hear. R wants me to make it clear that she didn't believe the spidercide stats, but it grossed her out all the same.

(This posting has nothing to do with babies, pregnancy, doulas or layettes.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Married Party

We went to a birthday party on Saturday for a friend who had turned 30. He had just gotten married in October, so this event also served as a housewarming of sorts for him and his wife. Predictably, many of the guests were married couples as well.

I wasn't sure if I would know very many people (since we've not known this fellow for very long), so I put in a call to a friend of mine who I knew would be going, just to be sure we'd have someone to talk to. I've been to a lot of gatherings where I knew the host, but no one else. Those can be awkward, because you spend the evening building relationships from scratch (I rely heavily on lame jokes). R performs well in those circumstances (she's good at "bubbly"), but an evening of it tires her out. Fortunately, we knew most of the guests, so I was able to relax and enjoy the tour around their recently-acquired home and the large selection of finger foods.

Like I said, the company largely consisted of married couples, but there were a few singles in the group -- seven to be exact. Four of them were engaged, so that doesn't really count. One young pair have been engaged for a few months, and will be married during the Christmas break. They seemed quite comfortable in their surroundings. You would not guess this was their first venture into the world of "married parties."

I spoke to DM (the groom-to-be) the next day, and asked him how he had enjoyed himself in this new milieu. I mainly expected comments about the quality of the food -- because it was pretty good. DM said, "When I walked through the door, I immediately felt five years older." He said the experience felt completely different from single life. He pointed out the following differences about a married party:

1. Nobody sits on the floor.
I take this mean that single people like to sprawl about, wherever there is room for them. I had not noticed this before, but it makes sense. You rarely see your grandparents lounging on the living room floor. There must be a transition point somewhere. Apparently, that transition is matrimony.

2. People don't talk or shout across the room.
They speak only to people who are closer to them, making the whole atmosphere much quieter. I was surprised at this comment as well, but it is absolutely accurate. Why is this the case? No idea.

3. They all go home early.
It makes sense that the couple that brought their baby would need to leave early, but they weren't the only ones. By 11:30pm, the place was desolate. The hosts themselves were completely surprised. They must have expected us to linger in various corners of the house until we had to be forcibly removed. I have a hypothesis here:
The event started at 7:30pm. All the married people arrived within 20 minutes of the appointed time, but the singles trickled in until 10:30 or so (DM had to work until later, so he was justified showing up later). By 11:30, we'd been there four hours. There's only so much artichoke dip you can eat in one evening. Eventually, you have to give up and go home.

Well, welcome to married life. Sometimes it may not appear that wild or crazy, but the food is excellent.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

maternity clothes

Here's a little quote from this week's article at babiesonline:
Your regular clothes may begin to feel a little snug now so don't try to force your body into them. You can wear elastic top pants such as stretch pants or sweats until you can either invest in or borrow some proper maternity clothing. If all else fails, borrow some of your partner's clothes if needed or just unzip your pants.

This is remarkably similar to the advice on p. 177 of YPWBW*: "Your spouse's closet will be your best friend."

It is certainly possible that R will require access to my wardrobe, but probably not yet. There is still a substantial size difference between us. For starters, I am 11 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier than she is. The way I see it, it will probably take a few more weeks of pregnancy to make up for that difference. I can't really think of anything that she could wear. I don't have any sweat pants, but maybe she could try on a pair of shorts (men's XL). My shorts are long enough that they'd likely pass as capris on her... sporty, baggy capris. Here's a picture of R wearing a pair of "one size fits all" parachute pants that I got from surplus store a few years ago. As you can see, she has 5 or 6 inches of excess waistline in those pants.

The parachute pants are quite adjustable, but they fit me almost perfectly. There is a drawstring on the waist, but I don't really have to use it. The legs are maybe an inch or two shorter than I'd like. Well, we cinched them up wherever they would cinch, and we rolled the pantlegs up a bit. In the end, they looked like they might not fall right off. R tried one of my sweatshirts, but we took it off for the picture -- you couldn't really see the pants.

So, she'll have to find some of her own maternity clothes until she gets to 8 months or so. Then she can raid my side of the closet all she wants.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pink Softball Cocktail

Can you think of a fruit that is 4 inches across? If so, you need to send an email to and to Neither of them had any comparisons for us this week. Luckily, YPWBW* came through for us, suggesting that the baby is about the size of a softball. I found this website that lets you print baby pictures onto softballs, perhaps for people who can't wait to coach little league. You probably wouldn't use those softballs for batting practice.

We have a softball sitting in our shed that we received a few years ago. In the middle of the night, we heard a crash, but we couldn't figure out what it was, so we went back to sleep. In the morning, we realized that someone had thrown a softball into our bedroom window. Luckily, the screen was in place, so the ball and the glass fell into the yard, instead of the bedroom.

I think a grapefruit is pretty close to the same size as a softball. In fact, I just looked it up in wikipedia and it says that it's 10-15 mm, which is 4-4.5 inches. Perhaps babycenter skipped the grapefruit because they don't really like it -- maybe it's too sour for their tastes. I don't really like it either, but R loves it. Watching her squeeze out the juice and slurp it up with a spoon gives me the shivers. Did you know that grapefruit was grown mainly as an ornamental fruit until the 19th century? That was probably for a good reason. The only real way to have grapefruit is in Noname Brand Pink Grapefruit Cocktail (which probably doesn't have any grapefruit juice in it at all).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Scarce Heard Amid the Guns Below

Growing up, every year we would have school assemblies on Remembrance Day (Nov 11), and we would have a minute of silence at 11'clock am. There is a national memorial service in Ottawa every November, at the war memorial near Parliament Hill. Today we watched it on TV. Before the memorial, there was coverage from a funeral service for a servicewoman who was recently killed in Afghanistan. I always find these types of services moving. The most poignant of these experiences was in France two years ago.

In June 2004, as part of a tour by the Carleton University Choir, R was invited to sing in an international choir that would perform on Omaha Beach, on the Normandy coast of France, for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. I had the opportunity to go with her. The concert on Omaha Beach was great, but the real highlight was a visit to the Canadian Cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer, near Juno Beach.
In the cemetery were buried more than 2000 Canadians, killed during the first weeks of the Normandy invasion (nearly 400 were killed the first day). While we were there, a charter-bus of Canadian WWII veterans arrived. The University Choir began an impromptu concert, singing (a capella) a musical adaption of "In Flanders Fields". The choir finished the number with difficulty, singing through tears. I wept like a baby.

In case you haven't had a chance to read it again this year, here is the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian field surgeon Colonel John McCrae during World War I. McCrae wrote the poem in May 1915 near Ypres, France, the day after he had conducted a funeral service for a friend and former student from Ottawa.
In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

If you had been in that cemetary -- if you had seen the veterans walking among headstones, row upon row -- you would have felt the same. Although the names of the dead were etched on most of the headstones, those who could not be identified say simply:

"A soldier
of the
Second World War
A Canadian Regiment

Known Unto God"