Wednesday, January 31, 2007

T's Perspective On Baby Pictures

I know this girl named T. She's really good friends with R. She's pretty cool, and she certainly doesn't hate babies or anything. Keep that in mind when I say this next part:

T doesn't really like it when people send baby pictures to her (link).

I know. At first, it seems strange -- almost criminal. Babies are so pudgy and cute, it seems like people should want as many pictures as they could get their hands on. It probably sounds worse because I haven't explained it completely.

Just like you or I, T receives Christmas cards and other updates from friends and relatives who have kids. Many of these people include pictures of their rosy-cheeked children in their greeting cards, but they neglect to include photos of themselves. T finds this disappointing, because she really likes these old friends, and would love to see pictures of them and how they are doing. In many cases, she has never met the children, so the pictures do not have as much meaning for her as they probably have for some other people.

So, as you can see, T has nothing against babies. I bet she thinks they are impossibly cute. It's just that she is so fair-minded, so democratic, that she thinks every age group in families should be represented.

You know what? I think that T has a pretty good point.

We'll try to take this into account next Christmas -- if we get ourselves organized and actually send out greeting cards or letters. I think my cousin Kage did it just right this year, sending out a custom postcard with a family picture and a short message. Simple and cute, without being ageist.

Way to go Kage. T would approve.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Perspective On Baby Names

"Have you picked out a name yet?"

No... well, maybe.

We're closer than we were before, but it has not been easy. At first I wanted something exotic -- maybe something from another country or culture. After I read a few things, got some advice and thought about it for a while, I changed my mind completely.

I decided I just wanted something that meets a few criteria:
1) Obviously male
2) Only one way to spell it
3) Not one of the top 20 names this year
4) Not just a surname that I shamelessly poached
5) Sounds okay with our last name

Then R reminded me that we'll need a middle name too. We found out that we have differing opinions on middle names. I lean towards using surnames of grandparents for middle names (since that's what I have). R thinks it is better to have a name that is more like a first name, like the first name of a grandfather. We still have not been able to resolve that issue completely, so we haven't really been considering too many choices for middle names.

So, there you have it. We still don't have a name picked out.

Monday, January 29, 2007


According to this week's babycenter, the baby is just under 2 pounds and is about 14 inches long. We will hit the 6-month mark this week (on February 1), so we are entering the last third of pregnancy.

R's mom and sister are still here, and they pulled out their camera to get some quality shots of R's beautiful, swelling tummy. They took quite a series of photos. I managed to sneak into this one. It turned out pretty well, but I'm not entirely happy with my hair.

I'm not so sure what happened to this other photograph. R's sister was taking the pictures, so we can ask her. One of our pregnancy books recommended that we try to take a few nice photographs during this time period, so that we can remember how wonderful R looked. I think we have not done this often enough, so we'll try to take some more over the next few months.

Hopefully, the quality of the photographs will improve with time.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


As you may be aware from a previous post, I check the statistics for this blog. In fact, I check them several times a day. Mainly, I do this to ensure that I am not the only one reading the blog. Vanity, I guess.

A day or two ago, I noticed people linking to the blog from a site I had never heard of, called Share The Love Blog Awards. Usually, when there's a one-off link like this, I figure it's just somebody (or something) crawling through blogger by hitting the "next blog" button.

Strangely enough, this Share The Love link popped up several more times this weekend, so I had to investigate. As it turns out, our blog has been nominated for the category of "Best Writing" in a blog awards competition, which is run by the author of a blog called One Woman's World. The competition organizer gives the raison d'être as follows:
I’ve followed some of the larger blog competitions out there, and I’ve felt sorry that some amazing women bloggers go unrecognized because their readership hasn’t grown large enough. It stands to reason that if a small blog with a small–but amazing– readership hosts awards, that some of the "little lights" out there will get a chance to shine.

While I am certainly flattered at the nomination, I am somewhat concerned that I don't meet the eligibility requirements:
1. The person nominating must be a female blogger.
2. The person nominated for the award must also be a woman.
3. In order to make sure that we share the love with the most people possible, winners of last year's awards are not eligible for nomination. Last year's finalists and runners-up are eligible for all categories.
*4. To nominate a blog, please fill out the following questionnaire and submit it in exactly the format given below.
**5. Please do not nominate blogs that contain pornographic visual or written content.

I admit that I enjoy watching musicals, but I think that still does not quite qualify me for criterion #2. My brothers (if they would ever bother to read these postings) would certainly get a kick out of this. The running gag in my family (4 boys, 1 girl) is that Dad doesn't ask the two younger boys to go out and do "manly stuff" (like hunt and shoot guns) because we're the "sissy sons".

Gender issues aside, I'm still quite flattered.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


According to Wikipedia's article on tourism, there are 35 different types of "niche tourism" that have gained popularity in the last few decades. Here are some examples:

- Armchair tourism and virtual tourism: not travelling physically, but exploring the world through internet, books, TV, etc.

- Dark tourism: is the travel to sites associated with death and suffering. The first tourist agency to specialise in this kind of tourism started with trips to Lakehurst, New Jersey, the scene of the Hindenburg airship disaster.

- Hobby tourism: tourism alone or with groups to participate in hobby interests, to meet others with similar interests, or to experience something pertinent to the hobby. Examples might be garden tours, amateur radio DX-peditions, or square dance cruises.

- Space tourism: traveling in outer space or on spaceships.

None of these definitions quite matches up with our style as Ottawa tour guides. We take visitors to some of the most prominent spots in town (ie: Parliament Hill), but we get equally excited about going to our favourite places to eat -- places like Cora's (yesterday) or La Belle Province (today).

La Belle Province is another Quebecois restaurant chain, but this one specializes in fast food. They give you LOADS of tasty, greasy food for a low, low price. Some of the best items on the menu are poutine and smoked meat sandwiches.

Poutine is a Quebecois classic. Freshly-cut French fries, cheese curds and loads of gravy. We go across the river to Gatineau, Quebec, to get our fix. Each element has to be just right.

I always thought "Smoked Meat" was an eerily unspecific term. It's clearly beef, so it kind of threw me off that they didn't just call it "Smoked Beef". The best places give you a sliver of bread, piled with several inches of meat and sprinkled with mustard. The toothpick is essential to keep this piece of heaven together.

The picture with the smoked meat sandwich was taken in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, on the way home from Quebec City in October. Unfortunately, Ottawa was too far away to deserve its own franchise, so we would have to stop in whenever we were traveling through Quebec.

Just before Christmas, I was thrilled to discover that the restaurant had finally appeared in Gatineau, just 15-minutes from our house. We took R's cousin out there when she was visiting, but we were disappointed to learn that they didn't have the smoked meat sandwiches. The franchise regulations must be pretty lax. Apparently, they had so many people asking about it, they're going to bring in the smoked meat in February. There are plenty of other places to get the sandwiches, so we're all set until then. When we took R's mom and sister there today, we weren't disappointed with the size of the family-sized poutine (in the middle picture).

So, what do you call this kind of niche tourism, where you stuff your guests with meaty sandwiches and cheesy fries? Pou-tourism, perhaps?

That doesn't sound so appetizing, for some reason.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ode To English Cream

I love English Cream.
Some call it Devon.
Fifty percent milkfat--
Oh, I'm in heaven.

Nearly every time someone comes to visit us, we take them for brunch at Cora's (called Chez Cora in Quebec). It's a chain of brunch restaurants with a menu full of omelettes, crepes, fruit and all sorts of other wonderful dishes. In my opinion, the best thing they serve is the "7th of July" (no idea what that date means). This dish is two crepes and two slices of French toast piled high with fresh fruit and smothered in English Cream.

English Cream (also called double cream, manufacturer's cream, and sometimes Devon cream) is thick, rich, lovely cream that goes well with pretty much everything... expecially with chocolate. When we visited London last May, a friend of mine hosted us at his house and he made a FANTASTIC chocolate cream dip by mixing 1-part melted chocolate with 1-part double cream (in England they don't call it "English Cream"). It makes a smooth dip that is perfect for fruit.

We tried to duplicate the recipe when we got home, but we couldn't find the cream anywhere. After a few weeks of fruitless searching in grocery stores, we tried making it with whipping cream (which has 35 percent milkfat). That just turned out runny -- kind of like chocolate syrup. Apparently, English Cream is the secret.

Finally, after looking in 10 grocery stores, we founds some english cream in a store quite a distance from our house. They sell it in little glass jars that cost about $5 each. It turned out perfectly, but it's quite an ordeal. It would be nice if someone would make it for us... someone like Cora.

Well, today at Cora's, R's mom ordered some chocolate sauce to go with her meal (Cora's Surprise - nice choice) and the sauce tasted suspiciously similar to the dip we had in England. That makes good sense, since Cora's obviously has a source for English cream.

I wonder where they get it. I bet they're not paying $5 per jar.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Review: Canadian Museum of Nature

R's mom and sister flew into town this afternoon at 5pm. Because R teaches singing lessons until 7:30pm on Thursdays, I picked them up. Since we couldn't come back to the house without disturbing the lessons, I took them out to the Canadian Museum of Nature. It was a great way to spend two hours.

The builidng itself is a castle. It was built in 1905 as a memorial to Queen Victoria, and was to mirror the Centre Block of the parliament buildings. Unfortunately, the ground was unstable and sinkage caused the tower to tilt so far that it had to be removed. It is still a grand structure. That makes good sense, because Queen Victoria was a grand lady.

I knew that the parliament buildings suffered a devastating fire in 1916, but I didn't know that the museum building served for four years as a temporary headquarters for parliament. The Senate occupied the "Hall of Invertebrate Fossils". I bet you didn't know that.

The Museum of Nature used to share the building with some other exhibits, but they have been moved out to their own separate buildings, so now it's being completely renovated. All the displays are brand new and include a lot of computer displays and interactive stuff. It's pretty sweet. They have four floors, one each for dinosaurs, mammals, special exhibits, and birds. The dinosaurs are, of course, the best part.

It's only 5 bucks to get in, and families get in for $13, so it's a screaming deal. It's open until 5pm most days, but Thursdays you can go until 8pm. It was a great way to spend 2 hours, and would be a great place to take some kids. I saw a group of Cub Scouts coming in as we were leaving.

When you do leave, you should go just a little further north on Metcalfe and get yourself some dinner at Colonnade Pizza. The Colonnade Special is our favourite. It has red peppers, ham and broccoli on it. Have you ever had broccoli on your pizza? Have you ever had gravy on your pizza? You can get both in Ottawa.

So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Diaper Wagon

As a follow-up to my Stroller Madness post, I got this message and picture from Eric in an email:
Hey man. I see you photoshop'd the stroller of the car seat on the luggage carrier. Thats great. Here is one I thought would be handy. You could save on diapers every time you go for a walk.

Not only was it pretty funny, it also brought up a really good point, which hit home for the first time during our prenatal class on Monday: what are we going to do about diapers?

After I did my presentation on strollers, someone else talked about diapers. Apparently, you can do cloth diapers for as much or cheaper than disposables without too much fuss. The diapers themselves aren't even that bad. Until Monday, whenever I thought of cloth diapers I pictured something like a white handkerchief held on by safety pins -- the sort of things you see in cartoons. The cloth diapers she had on display were quite impressive.

Someone else in our class quoted some figures they had that buying a set of cloth diapers costs you about the same as 7 months worth of disposables. People who have several children could save quite a bundle (not to mention obvious environmental benefits). You would just have to be organized and motivated enough to wash the diapers every two days or so. I don't think our washer could handle it. I think it's the original model put in our house when it was built in 1976.

We also learned that you can have a diaper service provide you with cloth diapers on a weekly basis. For example, a truck drops off a fresh set every Thursday, and collects a big barrel of soiled diapers for laundering. Around here that costs something like $21/week, so it's comparable with disposables... for convenience AND for cost.

These are interesting options that I haven't even considered before. Of course, I've been too busy dreaming about strollers.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stroller Madness

Today we hit 175 days of pregnancy, leaving only 105 days until the due date (May 7). According to BabyCenter, the baby is 13.5 inches long and about 1.5 pounds.

I think I've got it all figured out -- the ideal stroller situation.

As noted earlier, I volunteered to report on strollers for our prenatal class. After a short visit to Babies "R" Us on Saturday and some online perusing, I think I've nailed down the ideal stroller solution. Of course, this is my version of "ideal", so it may not work for anyone in our class.

For me, it is important that the stroller be very compact. I've seen how much stuff people have to jam into their cars whenever they go places with their kids. This is particularly true if you have to travel alot, like us. I've been in line behind couples with children at the airport and it looks like they must have a cello and a drum set hidden in their luggage. Incredible. I would like to make an effort to keep the cargo small.

I think the ultimate example of a compact stroller was the rig we saw in the Chicago airport at Christmas this year. One couple had taken a car seat and strapped it to a folding luggage rack, which they pushed through the airport. I don't think that is the ideal solution for most circumstances, but it was pretty wicked, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities for compact stroller solutions.

I think the best solution for us is the Strolee Streak Universal Stroller, because it's cheap and it's compact. It folds up way smaller than all the other universal stroller frames -- almost as small as a little luggage cart. What's more, this is also one of the cheapest universal strollers (at $29), so it's not a huge expense. You won't feel too bad about ditching it when you have to stop using the infant car seat, since you don't have too much money wrapped up in it. This is almost like having a disposible stroller, that you jettison once you're in orbit, along with your rocket boosters.

The only problem is that it's not available in Canada. I went to the website of the manufacturer in Japan, and they say that they market their product in North America through a wholly-owned subsidiary in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the group in NC doesn't sell the items, they just provide links to distributors (online and retail). None of the online sellers appear to do shipments to Canada. If I want it, it looks like I have to have it shipped to NYC for pickup in February. We're going to need a cargo van to get all the stuff back from NYC. I hope my brother has enough room to store this stuff as it arrives. His apartment isn't much bigger than a baby stroller.

I cannot believe that all the baby stores in this country have chosen to ignore the universal-baby-stroller-frame. Babies "R" Us had none. Sears has one model, but it's wildly overpriced. Oh, the injustice! This whole situation is maddening. Why should I be excluded from the world of universal-baby-stroller-frames just because I live in Canada? Contrary to popular belief, Canadians also have an inner desire to push their babies around in wheeled devices.

Whenever I encounter situations like this, I feel tempted to begin importing these products myself, just to fill the void. I have a friend who imports stuff. He finds interesting building/construction products online and contacts the factories in China to have the stuff shipped here. He would know what to do in this situation. Most of his contacts are in the construction business, so he wouldn't be too helpful at trying to sell the stuff, though.

Anyways, after we ditch the infant seat and the universal frame, I think we'll go for a nice, light, Maclaren umbrella stroller. They look so nimble compared to the other models in the store. It's something like $100 to buy it, but I think it's worth it. I am totally crazy though. All I can think about are strollers. Strollers, strollers, strollers.

It's total stroller madness. I think I have become obsessed.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Upsetting The Prayer Balance

We say a number of prayers during the course of a day, so we devised a system.

On a typical weekday, there's at least the dinner prayer and the evening prayer before we go to bed (on weekends we're also together for breakfast and lunch prayers). On even days, R says the evening prayer and I say the dinner prayer. Odd days are the opposite, so I say the evening prayer. The way we remember it is that I am the "oddball". Laugh if you want. It is a convenient way to keep track.

The introduction of a third individual to our household will upset this system that has served us so well for more than six years of marriage. Fortunately, we don't have to change anything right away -- it will take a while before the baby is ready to take a spot in the prayer rotation. Hopefully, we'll come up with a simple solution by then. Something like this: D says the evening prayer on all multiples of three (3n), R gets 3n-1 and D junior gets days 3n-2.

Like I said, hopefully we'll come up with a simple solution by then.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Jolly Holiday With Mary

I made my first visit to "Babies Я Us" today. It will probably not be the last.

"Babies Я Us" is part of "Toys Я Us", but it's got baby stuff instead of just toys. I had no idea it existed until recently. We went there to buy a Snoogle, which is a strange-looking snake of a pillow that helps pregnant ladies to sleep more comfortably. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the $60 item was marked down to $50 this week. Because this item is for R and not for the baby, our streak is still alive (the streak of not buying any baby stuff yet -- maternity stuff doesn't count).

We looked at a few changing tables and things while we were there, but I think we can find better deals on this stuff online. Of course, most of the online deals only ship to the US, so we'll have it sent to my brother's place in NYC and pick it up in February.

That's right, we're headed back to NYC. We figured we needed to get down there and see Mary Poppins before the baby comes, because we might not get another chance for a while. Plus, we love to visit the big city in all sorts of inclement weather. So, all of you residents of Astoria, be informed that the Ottawa cousins are coming to town!

We're also considering getting tickets to the "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", but that one's up in the air. I'd appreciate anyone's feedback on that show and whether they think we should keep it on our list.

Funny thing. My brother actually went to watch a spelling bee today. Given the low admission charge (free), it was probably much cheaper than the Broadway version, but likely less musical.

Friday, January 19, 2007

We Found Your Socks

One pair of men's black dress socks -- the "Gold Toe" variety -- were found in our guest room. I believe these socks were left behind by my eldest brother when he (and his wife) visited us in early October.

I would have noticed sooner, but we haven't examined the laundry very thoroughly since they were here. This is part of a complicated laundry-sorting system we've adopted in the last year:

We dump all the clean laundry on the bed in the guest room and pull out most of the pants and shirts, leaving the socks and unmentionables on the bed to be sifted as needed. Because we never completely clear the bed of all socks, a stray pair can lurk there undetected for a long time. Today the bed was cleared and the socks were rooted out as part of "preparing the baby room."

This preparation has been hurried along by the impending visit of R's mother and sister, who will be arriving on Thursday next. We cleared the cradle out of the room and stowed all the gifted baby clothes in the recently-gifted dresser that we got from Mr. Rooney. We were going to convert the room to a nursery right away, but we realized that we'll probably see some more visitors shortly after the birth, so there's no sense getting rid of the guest bed just yet.

We left the bed in there, but the socks had to go. They can be claimed weekdays after 5pm.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Consumer Reports Gets Side-Swiped

Luke, you were right.

When everyone (including me) was in a tizzy about the recent Consumer Reports tests of infant car seats, Luke was the voice of reason, saying in his comment that we should all take the reports with a grain of salt.

Thanks to my cousin ReeSeSPcS for pointing out the USA Today article, in which Consumer Reports admitted that their tests had been poorly constructed:
Consumer Reports said Thursday it had received information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showing that the speeds at which its side-impact tests were conducted were higher than the 38.5 mph reported.

In fact, the NHTSA said the crash tests were conducted under conditions that would represent being struck at more than 70 mph — twice as fast as the magazine claimed, said NHTSA administrator Nicole Nason.
This should settle some of the initial pandemonium about car seats in general, since we now longer have to worry that 10 out of 12 seats failed the tests. Still, I find it remarkable that two of the seats still managed to perform well at DOUBLE the speed. If safety is your primary concern, then you can feel even better about buying a Graco Snugride.

I hope you have all learned a valuable lesson: Listen to Luke. He knows what he's talking about.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Cold Day To Thread A Needle

For the first half of January, the news were full of stories about global warming -- likely because it was uncommonly warm outside and there was no snow on the ground. Well, greenhouse gases fought bravely and managed to hold out for a long time, but they were ultimately defeated by Jack Frost in early 2007. When winter finally decided to come to Ottawa, it came with a vengeance.

Today was not a great day to try to thread a needle outside. This task is nearly impossible while wearing thick gloves, but without the gloves, your hands would hardly function. Lucky for R, her "sewing orientation" was held indoors.

For Christmas I bought her a sewing machine from a store that provides a 2-hour orientation with every new machine. I was very excited for her, because she often comes across a situation where she would like to use a sewing machine and has to do without. She ends up doing it by hand or not at all, which doesn't seem to be any fun. Time are a'changing.

She learned lots of great stuff at her little class... which was held indoors. Good thing.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Soccer Mom

According to this week's the expanding uterus is now about the size of a soccer ball. R has noticed the baby kicking her soccer ball fairly vigorously lately.

At first, it was wildly exciting to feel the baby moving around, but R has also found it sometimes distracting. R was having trouble concentrating on the movie we were watching last night because the baby was furiously swimming laps around the pool. I thought it was great, because I take whatever contact I can get. Usually, I only get my hand in there for the aftershocks from the really good kicks.

As recommended by our doctor and, R went in for her Glucose Screening Test today. Basically, she had to drink some sugary orange pop and wait for an hour before they took some blood. Blood tests...Ooooohhhhh.... We'll find out about the results of the test later, and if there is a risk of diabetes. Apparently, if your sugar levels are too high your baby can gain so much weight that labour can actually become more difficult.

We had our second-last prenatal class tonight. The nurse asked for volunteers to research a few topics for next week's session. Guess what I volunteered for? Strollers.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Simultaneous Baby Translation

Just before Christmas, we heard about the "baby language" episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show from some people in our Prenatal class. One couple had taped it, so we converted the tape into digital format and burned CDs for the class. Luckily for you, you can also watch the most important clip from the show online by clicking here and then clicking the link that says "Listen to the secret language of babies!".

Priscilla Dunstan, the person behind the "Dunstan Baby Language", has produced a 2-DVD set to train parents in her baby language, but it seems that the most important elements are summarized in this quote from
After testing her baby language theory on more than 1,000 infants around the world, Priscilla says there are five words that all babies 0–3 months old say—regardless of race and culture:

* Neh="I'm hungry"
* Owh="I'm sleepy"
* Heh="I'm experiencing discomfort"
* Eair="I have lower gas"
* Eh="I need to burp"

Those Canadians must need to burp alot, eh?

All the mothers on the show thought the system was a complete godsend. There are a series of testimonials available on the web too. I think it's wicked, because I have no experience with newborns, and I'll take any tips people give me -- particularly the kind of tips that Oprah dishes out.

Apparently, not everyone is a fan. There is a description on Wikipedia of the Dunstan System which includes some criticism. Mainly, they say that she has used some inaccurate terminology, has not conducted quantifiable empirical studies, and has not published her findings in a peer-reviewed journal. Critics also question her credentials as a expert in this area. They may have a point. What do Australians know about babies, anyway?

I read the research section [broken link] of her website and I have to agree that the data is pretty sparse. You wouldn't expect much more on a marketing site, but it would be nice to see a more thorough treatment of her research somewhere to please the critics.
[August 21, 2008: The research section of the site has been updated with a new link.]

I don't think we'll order the $60 DVD package, but we'll certainly listen for the 5 basic reflex sounds to see if Mrs. Dunstan is correct.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Land Consumerism Forgot

I live in Canada, only a 60-minute drive from arguably the greatest consumer market in the history of the world (the United States), yet there are so many SWEET DEALS that are just out of my reach. Researching an infant car seat has demonstrated this to me again, in spades. On this side of the "longest undefended border in the world" we are assaulted by two major shortcomings: a lack of availability, and a discrepancy in price.

As noted yesterday, Consumer Reports tested 12 infant car seats. It determined only 2 of them were any good. Here in Canada, only 6 of those seats were available, including only 1 that was any good (the Graco SnugRide). My conclusion? Only half of the manufacturers bothered to distribute their products in the Canadian market.

How about price? The two best seats in the Consumer Reports test were only $90. Great news. But when you look at the Canadian results, the price of the Graco SnugRide jumps to $150. With the difference in currency exchange, this seat should only be $100. With other items, you could just buy the $90 US model and have it shipped to Canada. You can't do that with a car seat, because it won't have the Canadian safety sticker on it, so your insurance won't cover any accidents or injuries using the seat. Lame.

You would think this would have come up in the G-8 meetings or the Summit of the Americas or something. What DO they talk about at those meetings, if not this?

Despite this lengthy rant, I think I've figured out what to buy. I'll get the Graco SnugRide from Sears for $150 and I'll order the stroller frame that it clicks into for $60 from (this stroller is $100 in Canada). I think this seat/stroller combo (as long as it works) will be a decent compromise between the bulky travel systems and the more spartan umbrella strollers.

Since we don't live in Manhattan or anything, we usually travel by car. Therefore, the car seat is more important for us than the stroller, which would only be for occasional use, really.

And After all, we can only use this car seat for the first 6 months, so we don't want to mortgage the farm to pay for it... do we?

(For more info about the best strollers for NYC and every other occasion, go to the Tales From The Crib posting.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Baby Car-Seat Shocker

We still haven't bought ANY baby stuff. Isn't that remarkable? From Day One, the temptation is great to rush out and buy strollers, carseats, cribs, seasons 1-5 of Romper Room, etc, but we are trying to take our time. Mainly, we are trying to figure out how much of this stuff we really need, and whether we really need to buy it all new. You can save yourself a ton of money if you can find stuff that people are giving away or selling for cheap.

Of course, you don't want dingy, nappy stuff that's all worn out or outdated. You want some decent gear. You also want safe stuff. For these reasons, you have to buy a few things new... you know, things with the latest cartoons on them.

One of the things that you absolutely have buy new is a car seat. This is because you can't risk getting a seat which has been damaged in a way that would compromise the child's safety. We knew that. What we didn't know, is that Consumer Reports just did an explosive article on Car Seat Safety, demonstrating that many of the available seats are not very safe.

I heard somebody talking about this story at our prenatal class on Monday, and then I stumbled across the a link to the actual article on some random financial blog. The finance blog had this great summary from the Consumer Reports site (Click on the image to make it larger):

Check out this quote from the article:
Cars and car seats can’t be sold unless they can withstand a 30-mph frontal crash. But most cars are also tested in a 35-mph frontal crash and in a 38-mph side crash. Car seats aren’t.

When we crash-tested infant car seats at the higher speeds vehicles routinely withstand, most failed disastrously. The car seats twisted violently or flew off their bases, in one case hurling a test dummy 30 feet across the lab.
Only two of the twelve car seats performed well in the tests. I think I know what models we're going to be looking at. I just hope they have one with SpongeBob on it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hooray For Everything

We had prenatal class #4 on Monday, where we learned quite a bit about labour and delivery. There were so many bewildered questions from the floor (mainly from the men), that we didn't get to the video. In some ways, I don't feel too bad about that. I'll try to make up for it by reading a little extra from our books and websites.

As I've been reading from these and other sources, I have noticed a trend towards "celebration". When talking about physical changes and growing bellies, the authors constantly recommend that the ladies "celebrate" their new bodies. I think the maternity store had some of the best stuff in their brochures, clever stuff like "Fashion-forward maternity wear from international manufacturers to celebrate you and your Bump!" (from Yummy Mummy Club and My Bump Maternity).

I think they are trying to say, "try to see the beauty and enjoy the excitement in this big time in your life," so it is probably appropriate to use the word "celebrate." But, for some reason, there's something funny about it. It kind of sounds like that episode of the Simpsons where they are watching a football game and the halftime show features a group called "Hooray for Everything".

Come on everybody, celebrate the bump!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Baby Dolls

Usually, when you think of babies, you have a certain size in mind. That size corresponds to a pudgy pink cherub about 20-some inches long, weighing about 7 or 8 pounds.

Try to imagine what a baby would look like at one pound and only 11 inches long. It's hard. That's because you've likely never seen anyone that small before. BabyCenter provides lots of vegetable comparisons, but these are not overly helpful, mainly because babies don't really look like yams, etc.

The book Your Pregnancy Week By Week (YPWBW) came up with a perfect comparison. As of today, the baby is the size of a baby doll.

I never played much with baby dolls, but I've seen them around. You see, dolls are like miniature people, and baby dolls are like miniature babies. You can make doll versions of almost anything, and they'll be smaller. Imagine a Hulk Hogan doll. It's still Hulkamania, but it's cute.

While we're on the subject of The Hulk, I wanted to say one more thing about baby size.

The average newborn is about 20 inches long and just over 7 pounds. That means that I was enormous. I was about the length of a 2- or 3-month-old baby. It's a good thing I was skinny, or I would have weighed 10 or 11 pounds. My mom says that I was born 2 weeks after my due date, but she suspects that it might have been longer than that -- that they calculated the date incorrectly.

R was the model newborn. She was born on her due date and she was 7 pounds - 5 ounces and 20 inches long. Look at the cute picture:

Isn't she a doll?

She doesn't look much like The Hulkster, though.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Spring Cleaning In January

Given the springtime weather, we've decided it's time to do some cleaning around the house.

Actually, we've realized that there really isn't that much time before things start happening around our house. The due date is 4 months from tomorrow. Also, we're likely going to have a visit from R's mom & sister at the end of the month, so we need to bring some order to the chaos... particularly the chaos in the basement. If the guest bedroom is to become the baby's room, then we will need to make more room for guests downstairs. Right now it's standing room only.

The basement was getting so bad that we could hardly walk around. After a round of renovations, two sets of complicated halloween costumes, and numerous camping trips, there were tools, gear, helmets, tents, wood and flooring all over the place.

First, we gathered all the junk into a corner. Then we realized that it was taking over that corner, so we annexed another corner. We also put together some piles to donate to Value Village. After going through all our clothes and shoes, the piles overflowed from our bed and trickled down the hallway. When we dropped it all off today, I felt a certain amount of pride that we had dropped off so much quality merchandise. The V.V. employees didn't say anything about it, but I'm sure they were wildly impressed.

With that out of the way, we can start preparing the baby's room. A lot of people have been asking us what we have planned for that room, and if we've started painting yet. Apparently, the standard practice is to doll the baby room up and make it look "fun". We just finished painting that room last year, so the baby is going to have have to settle for "grey". It's a nice grey -- with a little blue in it. I think he'll like it well enough.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

United Airlines Made Me Fat

This message finally appeared on the United Airlines website this evening, at least 3 hours AFTER the luggage had been delivered to our house, and nearly 10 hours after someone called us to arrange an afternoon delivery.

I would like to point out an inconsistency. When I called United Airlines last night and tried to connect to an agent to find out more about the location of my luggage, the automated operator informed me that a connection to an agent was unavailable, and that I should call back later. This was pretty frustrating. The operator then recommended that I check the website, because it contained the most up-to-date information.

This is the inconsistency. Obviously, the United website lags behind reality significantly, yet they try to pacify you by saying the website is your best source of information.


I am glad to have my bags back, but I did not appreciate the lack of information on the part of United. I was growing concerned that I might never see my bags, just because they couldn't keep the online database up-to-date... or accurate.

Several times I queried the system and got information about OTHER PEOPLE'S BAGS, intermingled with my own information. For example, one query brought back a list of 4 green, zippered bags which belonged to someone surnamed Moy who lives in Los Angeles and contributed $500 to John Kerry's presidential campaign (thanks Google for the link). The delivery address was in LA, but the telephone number was mine. The itinerary was also mine. For a few minutes, I was concerned that my bags would end up in LA. I queried the system again and came up with a different result -- this time with an address in Michigan or something. The third time, I came up with my own information again. Needless to say, this did little to boost my confidence in United's competence. Why have a tracking system that doesn't work? All it does is freak people out.

In unrelated news, we went to the doctor today and had a very positive checkup. R learned that she gained 8 pounds in the last month and the doctor ribbed her a little bit about her holiday feasting. We figure she's up about 15 pounds from her pre-pregnancy weight. She's not the only one. I packed on some weight over the holidays. For almost 2 weeks, every meal we ate was a feast, and physical activity was nil -- unless playing darts counts.

I blame United Airlines for the weight gain... them and John Kerry.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Have You Seen This Bag?

Three pieces of luggage, including two black suitcases and a black "MEC" brand duffel bag, similar to those pictured at right. These bags were last seen in the company of a United Airlines official at the Salt Lake International Airport, who scanned them and (presumably) sent them along to their destination (Ottawa, Canada).

Airline authorities were immediately contacted, and reassured the beleaguered owners that 95 percent of all "delayed" luggage is returned within 24 hours. However, with 60 minutes remaining before the expiration of the 24-hour mark, hope had begun to fade.

The owners were also referred to an online tracking service, which should detail the whereabouts of the misdirected bags. This service has brought no comfort:

The owners were given a toll-free number which they could use to make inquiries. The automated system spat out the the same info as above, verbatim. After choosing the option to speak to an agent, the owners were informed that the transfer was unsuccessful, and that they should try calling back later.

For supplementary horror stories about baggage, please refer to this traveler's posting and this news article.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Missed Connection

Home, sweet home.

We made it back tonight, safe and sound. Unfortunately, our luggage missed the connection in Chicago. We made it to our gate 5 minutes before loading started, so I shouldn't be surprised that the bags didn't make it. There were several other people filling out forms at the baggage desk, so we know it wasn't an isolated incident.

As long as we get the bags back, this is only a minor inconvenience for me. It's a bit worse for R. Her bag of hair products and her curling iron were in the suitcase.

While we were on the plane, R felt another good kick, and I got my hand there in time for a follow-up punt. It's remarkable that this stuff has just started in the last few days. What has this little guy been doing up until now? Did he suddenly grow large enough to let out a big kick, or was he just holding back all this time? I know I'll never get any answers, but I won't let that stop me from asking the questions.

We'll, I'd better go see if we have something to brush my teeth with. I think I have a wire brush in the basement.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Kicking Off The New Year

Happy New Year! 2007 is going to be a big year for us, and we're pretty excited about things to come.

Although we rung in the new year at my brother's place, we'd begun the day at my sister's place, 4 hours away. We went out there with my mom on Friday and spent two nights. While there, we spent a lot of time talking about babies, since my sister has four adorable children -- including a cute little baby boy. I wrote my Retroactive Christmas Entry while we were there, and my mom pulled out a yardstick to help me measure the jug of eggnog. We marvelled at how small a 10.5-inch baby really is. We then compared it to 24 inches -- the size I was when I was born. Apparently, I was one long, skinny baby, tipping the scales at 9 pounds, 5 ounces.

Well, this week the baby is nearly a pound, and nearly 11 inches, so we still have a long way to go. I noticed that BabiesOnline is still mixed up on their metric conversions. They say that the baby is "30-32 cm (10.8 inches)" long. 30 cm is 11.8 inches. 32 cm is 12.6 inches. They are still pretty far off.

Here's the big news of the day: I felt the baby kick!

This morning R was lying in bed with her hand on her stomach. Suddenly, she felt a little push against her hand. She prodded me awake and told me about it and I put my hand on her stomach just in time to feel another little kick. It was incredible.