Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving Blackmail

Thanksgiving morning, I woke up, stumbled out of the bedroom, and found Mark muttering to himself over a collection of baby diapers, baby food, baby toys, baby blankets, and three baby bags.

"There's too much food," he said. Arthur's recently started eating pureed winter squash. "I can't fit it all into the food bag," he said.

"Put all the food in the diaper bag, and put the diapers and clothes in the toy bag," I said.

"What about the toys?" he asked.

"We don't need that many. Put them in the food bag."

I don't know where this early morning wisdom came from. Normally I'm a stumbling wreck for about ninety minutes, my morning shower, or a Pepsi (whichever comes first). I must have been channeling some domestic goddess. (Reading this over my shoulder, Mark remembers a different version of the morning.)

Then we went off to Thanksgiving at my folks' house. I made up for my earlier lucidity by forgetting to bring the snack crackers for horderves.

I wasn't sure what to expect this Thanksgiving. I thought it might be extra weird or overly Anne Geddess. But it wasn't. No one was late, the turky didn't need an emergency thawing, no one read symptoms of food poisoning from a book, the oven didn't blow a fuse, we didn't have to cook the meal on a camp stove outside on the deck, the potatoes didn't burn, no one got slimed by a garbage disposal imitating a gyser, and we didn't get snowed in. All of these things have happened in the past, so I'm a little disappointed things weren't a little more exciting. In fact, the only thing that we've discovered is that a certain unnamed relative needs to clean up their language in front of the baby.

I was thinking that if this certain unnamed relative (you know who you are) were to pay me not to reveal their name on this blog, then I could turn around and ask my readership to make a counteroffer. I suppose that I have to wait until after the holiday season.

Besides, Mark and I have discovered that there's a lot of artistic material we have to lock up in the grown-up trunk. That and we like humor that's just plain wrong. So; good-bye Avenue Q, Company, Camelot, A Chorus Line, Once Upon a Matress, Hairspray, if not all of our original broadway musical soundtracks and a bunch of our Madonna CD's. I don't have a problem saying, "Arthur, it's OK to sing 'you can be as loud as the hell you want when you're making love' within a context of an artistic performance at home, but not everyone likes the same art you do." But Mark just doesn't want phone calls from a school principal.

I guess we'll have to get a replica of Michelangelo's David for our family room.

Saturday Mark went into work, so Arthur and I went to the local Holiday Market. It was fun. I like the Market, all though every year there's the same old same old. Arthur, however, went just about bonkers looking at all the lights, the sparkly crystals, the cat paintings, the dicrylic jewelry, the stain glass, the wooden toys, and everyone.

I walked around the place for about two hours while he looked at everything, squealed, and jumped around in the baby bjorn sling. He also started babbling more; he did the same thing after a September wedding. Mark thinks that our voices talking to him have become a kind of background noise, and other people talking to each other is new somehow.

The weird thing was that we made a lot of new best friends. Arthur was happy, so instead of talking about what they had to sell, the merchants launched into the Oh What a Beautiful Baby aria. I should be grateful that they don't scowl and throw things, but I still think it's odd when people try to touch his head. At least Arthur was too high up for children under ten to reach him. Arthur babbled all the way home, and then passed out for about three hours.

He had so much fun, I convinced Mark to come with us the next day. This time Mark wore Arthur as we went from stall to stall. After the first merchant performance of "Oh What A Beautiful Baby," Mark leaned into me and whispered, "You're right, people are strange around babies."

We didn't buy anything. Well. OK. One tie-dye sock for Arthur to hang from the mantle with care. And something secret that Mark says I'm not allowed to write about until after the holidays.

We've poisoned the cat, and now she's toxic. I hadn't realized how much she rubs herself all over everything and tries to make us pet her. OK. To dispel the image of a zombie cat lumbering all over the house muttering, "Pet me... brains..." we didn't exactly poison her; we put Advantage Flea Death on her to kill some fleas. Although, it is kind of horrible to have her trying to suck the oxygen out of the room all the time.

Muriel seems to know that she's toxic, and now waits until my hands are full feeding Arthur to jump up on the couch and try to sit on us both.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pre-Thanksgiving Report

We just got back from a week in the Redmond, Oregon area.

We got to see lots of stars and watch the moon. It was great to be above the inversion that covered the Willamette Valley in rain and smog. The place we stayed had a wonderful eastern view, so in the morning we had the sunlight streaming through the windows at 7:30, and each dusk we watched as the moon progressed through fullness, moving thirteen degrees each night away from a ruby Mars. The eastern windows were a refreshing change because our house in Eugene has a nice southern exposure, and we tend to see the noon and midnight sky ( and trees block our views to the east and west).

Mark, Arthur and I hiked around the Descutes river, and also the Metolius.

Mark didn't stay the entire week, but when he was gone my folks came up and also some writer friends. The writers got a lot of writing done. My folks watched Arthur for large swaths of time, and my friends made sure he didn't roll into the fire or play with razor blades.

While away, I made some discoveries.

  • The next house we live in has to have a dishwasher. Anyone who doesn't like dishwashers obviously doesn't value their time.
  • I tend to discover my story plots intuitively; a strong visual image or interesting idea grabs me and I try to work it into a story. This way of writing works if I have large blocks of time. I need to develop plot outlines to maximize the creative process.
  • The Discovery Channel will teach you that 1) a large rock from outer space could strike Earth and extinguish all life on the planet any time now; 2) a fault running off of the Pacific Northwest could trigger earthquakes and giant killer tsunamis that could destroy cities from Seattle to San Fransisco any time now; 3) weather patterns that govern the earth's climate could cascade into a new ice age that make your heating bills really large any time now; 4) electromagnetic energy from cell phone towers can amplify the psychic energy of a home so that untrained sensitives can create their own, very scary poltergeists out of their repressed, negative emotions.
  • Although dating shows now feature (very young) gay men competing for a chance to date each other and earn cash prizes, it hasn't changed the fact that people on dating shows are really really mean.

Mark and I have come up with some new infants' books.

Shapes with Spot: "See Spot's triangle? Spot's triangle is pink. Spot's pool is oval. Spot's pool boy is a mesomorph."

Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You Hear?: "Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you hear? / Well, I hear that Mrs. Jones two houses over is having an affair with the postman. / Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, What Do You Hear?"

Arthur discoveries.

Arthur has no teeth. This doesn't prevent me from asking him (too many times, according to Mark), "Are your teeth bothering you?" whenever I can't figure out why he's crying. Or drooling.

Arthur has object permanence and he knows what a fork and a french fry are. Arthur was fussing during dinner, so I put him on my lap as we ate. The look of betrayal as the french fry sailed over his head and into my mouth was so funny my dad nearly died laughing.

Arthur has discovered his toes. They are almost as fun as the teething ring.

Arthur can now bring both of his hands together to grab things.

Arthur's hair looks like it might be red. Then the sunlight will change and his hair looks blonde. His eyes are still blue.

Arthur prefers shaking a ring of plastic measuring spoons over shaking a knit hat; probably because the spoons make more noise. (Yes, he shook the spoons first, then the hat, then went back to the spoons.)

Arthur is beginning to grab things. This afternoon Mark was speaking with Lime Green Larry and Arthur took the phone from him. I don't know how a five and a half month infant can wrest a cell phone from a forty-something gay man because I was washing dishes in the next room. See; if we had a dishwasher, I wouldn't have missed this precious moment in Arthur's development.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

New Tricks

Arthur has some new tricks.

The first trick is that he'll wake up about 10:30 PM and be very awake. Then he'll start babbling. He'll babble a lot. He's obviously telling us something, but we don't know what. We try to encourage him to fall asleep by laying him between us with the ceiling fan on. Mark breathes deeply and relaxes. The fan blades turn, and behind them the shadows of the blades turn on the white ceiling. But Arthur just looks at them and talks to himself while we try to fall asleep. It's like bedtime stories, only in reverse; the baby is telling the story and keeping us awake.

Arthur has been on semisolid food for about two weeks. We didn't have to teach him how to eat. By the third time Mark held up the spoon laden with rice formula, Arthur was imitating a baby bird.

Arthur's other tricks involve rolling around. So far he can only roll onto his stomach. He also scoots around in a way that I haven't figured out yet; I'm pretty sure that it's not teleportation, but I'm not sure.

Arthur really likes the cat. A lot. He wants to pet her. He's only grabbed her once. We're trying to teach him sign language for 'cat.' Muriel is pretty good natured about it all.

His final trick is bonking himself with his plastic, multicolored rattles. He'll grab the rattle and start waving it up and down, repeatedly bashing his forehead. Sometimes if he doesn't have a rattle, he'll use his hands. So far he has not bonked the cat.

Today I went to Sweet Life. I'm always trying to explain things to Arthur, and anyway, I was wearing him in the Baby Bjorn, so as long as I have to pass my wallet in front of his face as I grope around for the money inside, I figured I'd make it a learning experience.

"This is money," I said. "It's legal tender. It doesn't have any real value, but we all agree that it's worth the time daddy put in at work or for material goods. If we were in a barter system I'd have to give them you, but I'd get a lot more truffles."

The cashier wasn't sure if it was OK for her to be amused or not.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

It Just Got Worse

OK. It's happened again. I might have to change the route I take to the library.

I was pushing Arthur in the pram along 10th street on my way to the library. I stopped on the corner of 10th and Charnelton, and there was this guy. He was sort of tall, he wore a brown corduroy suit, and his beard, which started about halfway down his neck, was bushy and gray. I stopped so as not to block Charnelton and waited for the pedestrian light to change.

He stopped short of me. Looked at me. His body language was like a deer about to bolt. I sort of smiled and adjusted the piles of blankets on Arthur.

The light changed.

As I started to cross the street, the man spoke.

"You hungry?" he asked.

"Uh," I said. "No. Oh, no." I continued walking. "Um, thanks for asking."

I looked at my reflection in the plate glass of the library as I walked to its entrance. Tall, salt-and-pepper beard, grey-green cloak, clean hair in a ponytail, clean shoes, clean pants; I look like a homeless person? I thought.

Later, in a cafe, I was having a friendly conversation with two guys. "Arthur's your son, right; not your grand..." I must have given him The Scowl "...son."

I hate this town.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Viorst Syndrome Sets In

The other day when Mark came home, he found a bunch of bibs, stuffed toys and baby bottles on the couch. "It looked like the remains of an infant drinking party," he said.

There are things hanging from our ceiling. Granted, we tied them to the rafters, but as I look around I realize how many of them are primary colors. There's the mobile of platonic and archimedian solids, of course; but there are also yellow and orange fish, blue birds, a sweater closet organizer filled with baby clothes, and a yellow sun thing with jangly bugs hanging from it. The soft-sculpture changing table mirror is sitting on a chair with a large Amazon Forest frog on top of it (I don't want to look too closely at what the frog is doing).

But I think the final straw was this morning. As Arthur dangled from the sling across my hips, I nearly dumped the cordless phone receiver into the filling washing machine. I don't know how the receive got into the baby's dirty clothes hamper.

Clearly, our house is suffering from Viorst Syndrome. So I think we need A), to have more adult company threaten to visit us so the house stays cleaner; B) Thom Falicia to help us find snappy little storage bins that double as benches; and C), a cleaning service.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Edition of The Fearful Parent

Another Halloween is fast approaching.

I'm working on this year's pumpkin. I'm carving out a medusa head based on some the cameos I saw at the MET. I think the snakes are going to be the hardest.

The only problem is that The Child has fallen asleep, so I can't use the power jigsaw. He seemed OK with it earlier, but I put it down for some sharp knives and while I was carving out the little feathers of the wings on the left side of medusa's head, he passed out.

Trick or treaters should be appearing at our house in about four hours...

While I was carving, I had all sorts of Fearful Parent articles going through my head. Arthur's on the floor so he can see what I'm doing. Naturally, when I first separated the top of the pumpkin's head a few seeds fell out onto the newspaper. I picked up the seeds. Later, Arthur started to try to eat the newspapers on the floor. The article came unbidden to my head

Pumpkins can be a festive treat for baby's first halloween, but they can be deadly, as Susan of Chicago, Illinois found out. "I'd given little Dakoda-Shanti her own little knife to carve with. We'd always carved jack-o-lanterns when we were kids. I turned my back for just a second, and Dakoda-Shanti was out the door, with the knife." Susan's voice quavers. "She got into a police standoff holding up a Fisher-Price Depot."

We spoke with Dr. Sheridan Johnson, of the Safe Holidays Institute. "We all remember the fun of holidays past. But holidays these days are a lot more dangerous. Take pumpkins. Baby sees the pumpkins and will try to eat them. Most parents use the "bigger than baby's fist rule" and don't realize that it doesn't apply to pumpkins. Sam and May of Minneapolis, Minnesota discovered Dr. Johnson's warning too late.

"We thought, '[the pumpkin is] bigger than Leonardo's fist,'" recalls Sam.

"But Leonardo was just starting to teeth," adds May. "We were both in the kitchen when we heard a noise."

Sam continues. "I thought it was some early trick-or-treaters, so I went to the front door. But..."

"It was Leonardo. He'd gotten his little mouth around the stem of the pumpkin and the whole top of the pumpkin was lodged in his windpipe."

They called 911 and EMT's managed to dislodge the pumpkin from the infant's throat just in time.

Experts warn not only of physical hazards, but also of the psychological damage of Halloween pumpkins.

"We see this sort of thing all the time," says child therapist and pediatric physiological expert, Dr. Margaret Castle-Jones. "We call it, 'Post-Pumpkin-Stress.' PPS all starts out innocently, and 94% of the parents of sufferers of PPS we interview are completely unaware of the early trauma they've unwittingly submitted their children to."

Dr. Castle-Jones leans in. "The young child is taken by her parents to a pumpkin patch. They choose a pumpkin. Then the child sees how the pumpkin is cut up. A face is carved on the pumpkin; it can be a smiling face, it can be a frowning face -- it doesn't matter, the pumpkin has no choice about its emotional expression. After one special night, the pumpkin disappears; maybe it ends up in the garbage or a compost heap. During this whole time, the child is internalizing the pumpkin process. She might worry that someone will come to take her away; or will have her emotional expressions limited or dictated. Birthdays or other special celebrations can trigger PPS related anxiety that the child will disappear the next day. If the parents have been calling her 'pumpkin' as a nickname it can compound the damage fivefold."

Dr. Castle-Jones points to a graph on her wall. "We're experiencing the legacy of PPS as a culture; teenagers today are reacting to infant PPS by piercing ears, noses, chins, brows, lips and even eyes in an attempt to regain some of that perceived control they lost in their early developmental years."

We asked Dr. Castle-Jones what parents can do. "I'd recommend avoiding pumpkins during halloween altogether. However, if your family tradition is strong, a fallback strategy would be to purchase a plastic pumpkin that already has a smiling face (see SideBar for Plastic Pumpkin comparisons).

....oops. Look's like Little Pumpkin The Child is waking up. Time to fire up the jigsaw.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Today Arthur and I went out and bought some Halloween pumpkins.

Our new best friend was a small girl who rushed away from her Mother's side, shrieked, "A baby! A baby!" and attempted to touch Arthur's head. Without asking.

Now that I think about it, there must be something about large pumpkin patches in the Eugene area, because last week when we went through the corn maze, one little boy was about ready to take off with the baby distraction toy attached to Arthur's pram.

Anyway, this girl was determined to touch Arthur. She was fast, too. I'm not sure why her mom didn't intervene. Luckily, I was able to channel my inner Mark Dwyer instead of my inner Mamma Grizzly.

As a result of today's encounter, I think I have a product that could make me millions if I advertise it in The Fearful Parent Magazine. It's an electric fence you attach to your pram to keep small children and other wild animals from pawing your baby.

I can see it now. A small generator attaches to the pram's wheels and charges up a capacitor which hooks to a series of wires around the bumpers of baby's pram. I think I'll call it a "Don't Bug My Baby Zapper."

I suppose there's some law about bringing an electrical device like that into a public place. Pity. And don't even get Mark started on letting me attach a flame thrower to the pram.

I suppose I'll have to wear a Malificent costume and practice saying, "On your child's sixteenth birthday she will wear a black halter top and ride off with a motorcycle gang leader named 'Snake.' Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

No. Too much work: I'd be smashing the hat/horns into doorframes everywhere and I'll bet that on the days I really needed it, the outfit would be at the cleaners.

I guess I'll have to rely on judo-chops.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Moments of Discovery

Arthur as Hugh Hefner.The other day , I made a discovery.

If I play with Arthur really hard for about two hours, he'll fall asleep. If I plan my play time right, he'll fall asleep when I want him to.

Nobody told me that becoming a parent meant becoming a master at manipulation.

I also learned that the heartbeat bear has an inexorable affect in the evening. Turn it on, put Arthur in the crib, and bamm, he's asleep. So far it's Arthur zero, HB Bear six. It works like a charm. This can be a good thing when it's been a long day and it's 7:30 PM.

In slightly different news, Arthur has learned the "throw the rattle on the floor so Dad picks it up game. " I'm very conscious of this one. I think I'm going to start a one-two-three rule or something and not pick it up after the third time. I suppose that this means that I'll have to remember where I am in the rattle count.

I had to laugh this weekend. Mark is a real sweetie and takes the brunt of childcare over the weekend. So I shouldn't laugh, but the event went something like this:

Scene: The living room, near the entrance to the kitchen.

Arthur (for no fathomable reason): "Waaaah. WaaA WaaA WaaA!"
Muriel (because she's just come in and now she wants to go out): "Meow. Meoow. Meoow."
Mark (Holding Arthur): "Augh! I'm surrounded by whining creatures!"
John (reaching for the Calgon): "Welcome to my world."

You know, I've never really seen satori on someone else's face before.

Arthur & Mark in he Woods.Last Sunday was Arthur's first real hike. OK, maybe it was his second hike, but we don't think he trip to Yosemite Valley counts as he was only about four weeks old at the time and we only hiked between parking lots and sights.

We went on a very nice trail with lots of trees and leaves for Arthur to look at. Arthur is in for some big time betrayal when winter rolls around and all the leaves are gone. In fact, just yesterday he scowled at the barren tree branches on our Library walk.

People give you the strangest looks when you're pushing a baby cart. Their behavior changes. Either they look at you as if to say, "Dude, why don't you get a real job," or else they generate a demeanor one usually finds in a church and they utter something completely smarmy, like, "that's a precious cargo you've got there." It's not just Eugene, either; Roseburg bench bums stopped swearing when we walked by them. And it seems like I'm making more new best friends every time I go to check out a new book or DVD.

Today, for example, there I was, walking down 10th street toward the Eugene Library, when this guy started talking to me. He had white hair pulled back into a ponytail. He saw the pram, saw Arthur "So, is this your grandkid?" he asked. Something in my stance must have tipped him off that he'd asked the gay male equivalent of asking a weight-concious woman "So, when are you expecting?" Mark figures I must have given him The Scowl. He quickly amended "-- or your kid?"

For those of you who need help with the math, in order for Arthur to be my grandkid, at the minimum I'd have to be 32 years old (flattering on some levels, but wildly wrong on others given my status as a science geek in high school). At the other end of the scale, a more reasonabe assumption would be to do some sort of 25 - 25 or even 28 - 28 combination of ages. This makes me either 50 or 56 years old. Even in an age where "30 is the new 20, and 20 is the new 10", that still means that "50 is the new 40." Since I'm celebrating the 16th anniversary of my 25th birthday this December, I'm really not getting much out of this after all the assumptions and "new math."

Are you expecting an art class?
Do I look like someone who's 50 or even 56? Or maybe I looked like my new best friend, who confessed the music his son listened to in the seventies was The Greatful Dead.

I'm not sure, but I think I've never been so insulted in all my life.

I'd ask Mark if I look like someone's 56 year old grandfather, except I'm pretty sure that he'll say something along the lines of, "Honey, that guy was blind; you look like a lesbian art teacher."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Flaming Pumpkins Are Next

The Jellicle Moon is shining bright / Jellicles come to the Jellicle BallI think we might be raising a Cirque de Soleil baby.

We've been making masks at our house. So I've got various masks I've aquired over the years out for inspiration. Arthur was asleep during this shot and I managed to rest the mask he's wearing on his shoulders. Despite what other people in the room thought I might be doing, Arthur's mouth and nose were unobstructed and he slept through the entire procedure.

For those of you wondering where the other John went, later on I did put some dry ice and hot water into a very large ziplock bag and closed it. About a minute later there was a very satisfying explosion, and I proved to Mark that a small chunk of frozen carbon dioxide can expand enough to blow out a plastic bag.

Remember; it's not a real science experiment unless something goes BOOM!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Obligatory Diaper Post

OK. Here's the scoop. You know those natural diapers, the ones with words like "green," "planet," and "generation" in them?

Well, they suck.

Have you ever had all-natural cereal; you know, the kind that comes in a box that looks like it might be something like Fruit Loops or Sugar Smacks, only the box is pastel colored instead of bright, screaming, Romper Room primaries? The stuff tastes like recycled cardboard dipped into diluted apple juice.

Natural diapers are like their natural breakfast cereal counterparts. First off, they're itchy. Second, the material doesn't conform to a baby's body; so they leak (when they aren't giving the baby the equivalent of paper cuts). Third, the adhesive strips on either side stick really well. Once: when the strips are in their pre-deployed position. They stick OK when you use them right the first time -- but you're on your own if you goof up and need to reposition them. Luckily, I think they're Scotch Tape, so in a pinch you could Scotch Tape your baby into natural diapers.

I'm so glad we're using cloth. When we do use disposable diapers we use Huggies; at least the only thing odd about them are the name. OK... and they're covered with cartoon characters (why anyone would would put cartoon characters on a baby's undergarments is beyond me: the baby doesn't know who the characters are, and grown-ups can't see the characters when the baby is wearing clothing over the diapers). It's sort of like putting advertising on the inside of a cereal box.

You'd only see an advertisement on the inside of a cereal box if you were recycling the cardboard.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thrashing to Tubular Bells

Arthur has two relatively new sleep behaviors.

The first is thrashing around in his sleep. The first time it was a little disconcerting because he managed to kick his sheets out from underneath him. The second time I thought maybe someone was trying to break into the house. The third time I was used to it, so I didn't think there was an earthquake in progress. Dr. Jimmy assures us that sleep-thrashing is normal.

The second thing... which I've almost been able to catch on video tape, is that Arthur sleeps with one eye open. It's weird. The other day I poked my head into the bedroom where Arthur was sleeping and his left eye was cracked open enough that I could see his iris. The other eye was shut, and he was in the middle of R.E.M.; at one point his left eye rolled back into his head.

Today when I caught him at it (the two times I've seen it, it's been during the afternoon naps), he smiled a little bit as if he recognized me, but then his eyes rolled back into his head. It makes me wonder if we're going to be raising a little sleep-walker, as both Mark and at least one of his brothers used to sleepwalk.

But let me tell you, the strangest thing is seeing the blue flame of Arthur's iris when he sleeps with an open eye. If eyes are the gateway to the soul, I'm not sure what they are a gateway to when the soul's asleep.

I'm glad this happens during the afternoon and not in the middle of the night. At least there's no projectile vomit.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Four Month Milestones

OK. It's official and legal. As of last Thursday, October 6, "Baby Boy" Wagner became Arthur Corvus Jackson Burridge, the legal heir of John Burridge and Mark Dwyer.

Mark and Arthur in Peggy's officeThere was a very brief court ceremony, which my folks attended (someone had to take the pictures). Getting to the courtroom was sort of an adventure. Our lawyer, Peggy, wasn't sure where the wheelchair access ramp was. We had Arthur in the pram, at least at first. Between stopping off at Peggy's office and walking over to the courthouse two blocks away, Arthur got transferred to Mark's arms and all of the cameras (one video, one digital) and my bag of everything and the baby bag and the umbrella and the bags for the cameras and someone's jacket got transferred to the pram.

Going through security was interesting. I had to demonstrate to the happy security guard that my video camera was a working video camera. Luckily, everyone knew Peggy, and Mark had Arthur out, which seemed to relax people. The nice (but kind of weird) thing about a courthouse is that when folks see two guys with a baby and a pram with two grandparents, they recognize an adoption in progress, stop what they're doing, smile and wish you good luck. We made more new friends between the X-ray machine and the courtroom than I can remember.

The courtroom we got to use was being used by another trial. I was too busy videoing Arthur, Mark, my folks, Peggy and the judge to notice stuff, but Mark says it looked like some sort of drug interaction trial. I didn't see it, but there was some sort of chart with dosages and weights and some interaction graphs.

The judge was less of a ham than I thought he would be, but he did agree to pictures. And we have it on tape that as part of the adoption process we have to love Arthur (although it is kind of hard to hear him). So a few years down the line when Arthur accuses us of not loving him, we can say, "Kid, we've got a judge on tape saying that we do love you."

Monday, October 10, was Arthur's four month checkup. Although he feels a lot heavier, he weighs 17 pounds, 11 ounces. This places him in the 95% for weight. He's 26.2 inches long, which places him in the 90% for length. His head circumference is 17.27 inches, which is 75%.

Arthur also got the latest round of shots.

Dr. Jimmy seemed pleased with Arthur's weight and formula intake. He suggested that we might want to watch for signs that Arthur wants solid foods (Arthur already sort of watches us with a look a betrayal when we eat, so it's only a matter of time before he starts reaching for our food).

Arthur demonstrated a roll for Dr. Jimmy, so he's on track for this and other motor skills.

OK. I need everyone's help.

John, Julie and ArthurWhile we were visiting Julie in Roseburg this weekend, she walked into her living room where I was playing with Arthur. I was spider-walking my hands up from Arthur's tummy to his shoulders (and back) saying "Ugga-bugga-bugga-bugga" (clearly enunciated) in a rising inflection when I moved up and a falling inflection when I moved down. "I never would have believed that you'd be all 'goo-goo-ga-ga,'" she said.

I stopped.

"'Goo-goo-ga-ga?' I asked. I'm not going 'goo-goo-ga-ga;' I'm breaking up language into clearly delimitated phonemes." I switched to the theatre exercise, and said, "Tee-ka Tay-ka Tah-ka Toe-ka Two-ka." Then I switched to the left-foot, right-hand game.

Later, I realized that I had told (for about the third time) the story of The Mountain of Excrement.

It's happening. It happened to Judith Viorst, and now it's trying to happen to me.


If you notice me getting extra goo-goo-gaggy or if I start to talk about baby poop, will you please interrupt and change the subject to
  • Bronze Age artifacts from Thrace
  • The changing perceptions of female characters in fantasy short stories as revealed by a longitudinal inspection of Sword and Sorceress cover art
  • The (in)ability of Oregon to maintain a quality museum.
  • The diffusion of animal motifs by the Sythicans of the steppes.
  • The impact of hypertext and DVD scene selection on each generation's ability to process information in a linear narrative style.

In slightly related news, the Baby-Industrial-Military Complex sent us ads for Disney Books (in an envelope targeted at children) and another magazine. This month's issue of The Fearful Parent featured an article on herbal and alternative remedies. We read about the mother who mistook pennyroyal for mint and brewed a deadly tea for her child. We read about the drug interactions between herbs and allopathic drugs. And we read about the herbs prepared Outside the US of A (and subsequently pumped full of mercury, pesticides, and other non FDA-approved substances). So don't use herbs with your children; parents who did have dead children.

And Mark doesn't want me to sing Child Ballads ?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

October Starts In Eugene

Scene: The household living room. John is reading Are You My Mother to Arthur.

John (in a gothic voice): "...'I must find my baby something ... (pregnant pause) to eat,' the mother bird said, and she flew off. In the nest, the egg jumped, (more gothic intonations), and jumped, and JUMPED -- "
Mark (preparing food in the kitchen): "You didn't use a scary voice when you read that to Muriel!"
John: "Muriel gets nightmares, and then she keeps us up all night."

This weekend was the Eugene Celebration. The Eugene Celebration can be described a couple of ways.
  • It's a party thrown in an attempt to lure people to downtown Eugene.
  • It's like a Grateful Dead concert, only with slugs.
  • It's an event where Eugenians gather together to piss each other off.
  • It's a marketing attempt to package Eugene as a really edgy place where individualist hippies live.
It was kind of bland this year. And smaller.

I did like the parade, which for me is the highlight of the Eugene Celebration. Although Mark goes insane when he hears them, I love the bag-pipers. I also liked the shirtless guy in a kilt who rode a very tall bicycle (he was the edgiest, as his left nipple was pierced with some kind of shiny weight). The slug princesses (middle-school kids) were the funniest because they were being chased by a parent with a trash-cansdecorated as a Morton Salt container. The high-school kids racing in their electric cars were the most geeky. Probably the most impressive were the gymnast kids doing flips on the street.

This year the organizers decided they would discourage controversial floats. The result was that a lot of the parade participants were various kids from school groups. Mark and I used the parade to figure out which school Arthur will go to. Sadly, the lack of controversy made the parade a little flat. Although they're kind of creepy and weird, I did sort of miss the Very Literal Christians with their Live Crucifixion float. At least it's well done. This year's creepy float was a bunch of effigies of Wayne Newton on sticks bouncing around to a recording of Danke Schone.

Scene: Sunday night.
Mark (opening door for Muriel): "Kitty, if I let you in, I'm not going to play your little games."
Muriel (walking in from out of the dark rainy night into the living room): "Mrow."
Mark ignors Muriel and returns to his origami.
Muriel (walking around Mark's ankles): "Mrow."
Mark continues to ignore Muriel.
Muriel (looking as if Mark's legs might be a scratching post): "MrMrow!"
Mark: "Muriel, go bother the baby."
Muriel (saunters over to bedroom where Arthur is sleeping): "Mrow."
Mark (dropping oragami and following Muriel): "Agh, I didn't really mean that..."

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Life of the Wife...

Cute baby.I've made a new discovery, for which I'm very grateful. Arthur has a new fun thing. He thinks it's the funniest thing ever when I lean over him and say, loudly and clearly, "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain." He'll look up at me, his eyes will get very wide and he'll start to giggle. I can say "The rain in Spain..." for about five minutes without loss of amusement factor.

I can tell you that I'm being sure to ennunciate very carefully.

Yesterday, Mark made the Savoure girls cry when he shook their hands goodbye. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with my Wednesday mornings.

My love's a prickly snakey thing.The Library is an OK place to go... except that Mark is convinced that if I take Arthur there too many times one of us will catch consumption. There are some times when I agree with him; the other day one of the patrons at their cafe sounded like she was going to cough her lung out.

I could go to Sweet Life... they've got nice pastries. But only so-so tea. At least they're not as loud (or expensive) as Cafe Zenon. Marche would be OK, but it's a bar; and I can't very well bring an infant into a bar, can I.

I've thought that maybe I should simply have the full moon days be days when I have my own tea salon and cocktail hour. With eurdite subjects like
  • The use of griffin imagry from Babalon to England
  • The alure of intelligent design
  • Short presentations of music and poetry
  • Why can't downtown Eugene support tea salons?

Wedding -- er BABY smile.Hmmm. It's tempting. And I suppose it would motivate me to clean the house a bit more.

In an only slightly different direction, I was reviewing the pictures I've taken to my various visits to the MET and I've noticed something. As I looked at the pictures, I had a sense of pleasure that seemed, well, a little odd. I mean, sure, it's nice to see pictures of old artefacts and dead people's jewelry and tombstones; and Mark would chime in at this point that having pictures is a whole lot nicer than cluttering up our house with acheological knick-knacks. But I felt a little like a safari hunter reviewing animals heads as I looked at my MET pictures for the hundredth time.

And, I'll admit it; I would like to wear the golden diadam of Hyksos Princess (Dynast 15 (ca. 1640-1540 BCE) Gold, carnelian, amethyst, lapis lazuli, sard, rock crystal, steatite, and faience) with the little ibex and gazelle heads and flowers. But what about the other stuff -- you can't wear an insense holder or a
hieroglyphic inscription
or a statue.

And then I looked a little more closely; I relized that a lot of the art that I like in the MET has something to do with processionals and feasts. Even the Christian art; the expulsions and assumptions are movements from one place to another. Those insense holders and
funky bronze quadruped ritual items from Anatolia
, the rhytons, the Proto-Elamite kneeling silver bull; they're all props for a grand entrance to a party. Even the sundials and clockworks measure the processions of the heavens.

Arther and MaryMaybe "procession" as the ultimate expression in all art can be another cocktail hour topic.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Eugene to loose Savoure

Well, there goes the neighborhood.

Savoure, the Tea Shop of Suburban Tea Fags, is moving ten blocks from Broadway and Charnelton up to Willamette and 15th. But more importantly they won't be serving tea there!!!! This is a major bummer. With the closure of the tea salon, it will be harder for me to pretend that I'm not living in a town which is stuck somewhere between a Grateful Dead concert, a dormatory, and a rodeo.

Now I won't be able to push Arthur in the pram as part of my morning consitutional and tea. And when I teach him the proper, polite way to take tea and scones, I'm going to have to do the dishes afterwards.

OK... OK... I know... I'm going to have to teach Arthur how to do the dishes afterwards.

In other news, since we've returned from Megan's, Mark's sister's, wedding, Muriel has been extra needy. Either that or it's gotten colder and she's more desperate for body heat.

Mark, Arthur and I were in New York for a week for the wedding. Megan's (and Morgan's) wedding went well. They got the ceremony they wanted, and it looked like everyone was having a fun time.

  • Thursday, 9-15: We flew to NY; Arthur was the best baby on the plane.

  • Friday, 9-16: Pre-wedding part at Uncle Matt and Aunt Joanie's house. We met many relatives, including the Zeffs from Florida.

  • Saturday, 9-17: All-day wedding preparation and festivities at the Joseph Campbell Center for Symbolic Studies.

  • Sunday, 9-18: We said good-bye to various out-of-state Dwyers.

  • Monday, 9-19: Mark, Arthur, Mary and I go to the Rockafeller Estate for a house tour.

  • Tuesday, 9-20: I ditched everyone and go to NYC; en route to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I got on the wrong train and ended up at 152nd Street, in Harlem. Once I got to the Met, I had a great time. If you had told me that I would be navigating the NY subway system ten years ago, I would have laughed. Mark and Arthur visited the newlyweds in New Paltz.

  • Wednesday, 9-21: The return to Oregon. We nearly missed our connecting flight in Seattle and Arthur was only the second-best baby on the trip back home.

OK. Everyone I've visited with in the last month has had one thing to say about this blog: "More Pictures of Arthur." I had kind of hoped that my writing would be interesting to some folks... but it looks like I'll just have to accept that infant photos will always trump personal essay. Who was it in Shakespeare in Love who said to "put a little dog in it"?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Doctor Stats

Here are the stats from Arthur's last doctor visit:

Date: August 15, 2005
Weight: 15 lb 0.08oz. This places Arthur over the 95% in weight for babies his age (nine weeks, at that time).
Body Length: 24.2 inches long.
Head circumference: 41 cm. I don't know why our doctor's office uses English measurments one moment and metric the next.

The doctor says that Aurthur is "in perfect health." ... And then proceded to look at us suspiciously, as if we had been feeding Arthur a pound of butter every week. Through a funnel.

Dr Jimmy: "And how do you know when he's had enough to nurse?"
Mark: "He lets us take the bottle away."

Arthur next got a series of shots. Which he hated.

In the three weeks since Arthur's visit, I think he's gained about two more pounds and Mark thinks he's gotten longer.

Mark has been back at work for about a month. When we're not walking around outside, Arthur's usually sleep or feeding.

I've discovered the Eugene Library's DVD collection, so Arthur and I have been watching The Avengers (wow, those plots are slow), Upstairs Downstairs (1905 soap opera), Star Trek: The Original Series (I've heard that a star ship captain has to be a paragon of virtue. I've never met a paragon before.) , and The Pirates of Penzance (Faithless woman, to betray me). Mark was especially horified that I got a hold of Cher's Farwell Concert (Do you believe in life after love?), and we both agreed that Troy was so terrible that not even the cool costumes and sets could help (Honor the gods, serve your city, and love your women).

Arthur seems to like the Star Trek red alert music and will go to sleep to it when we hum it.

We've also been listening to books on CD. This is helpful, because I'm realizing that I forget to speak to Arthur as I go about the house. Alice in Wonderland seems to be a hit, and I'm hoping that Arthur gets an English accent from it. When we're in the car, we listen to The da Vinci Code. Maybe Arthur will get an outrageous French accent from that.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Love For Sale

Scene: Mark and John (wearing Arthur in a sling) exiting the Lane County Fairgrounds after submitting cookies and photos for judging. They stop at the traffic light.

Mark (looking down the road at two cars speeding towards them): There's the car I want.
John: What? The station wagon?
Mark: No! Not the station wagon. The Triumph TR6.
John: We can't afford that; we're poor.
Mark: Listen to you, Mr. Tea & Scones.
John (singing): Love for sale.
Mark (also singing): Middle-aged love for sale.
John: (still singing): Love that's only slightly old. Love who says his feet are cold...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

If you squint a little...

Tuesday morning when I woke up and looked at the crib where Arthur slept, I thought I saw him levitating above the crib. Since my glasses were off, and because the perspective looked wrong, telekinesis was not high on my list of explanations for this apparent floating behavior. I fished for and found my glasses; when I put them on, what I had mistaken for Arthur's head turned into a pale green gift bag, and his body resolved into the bug net which was stuffed into a storage pocket on the crib. I took my glasses off; levitating baby. I put them back on; nothing odd looking here, no reason to be alarmed.

While I'm on the subject of weight, we weighed Arthur last weekend; he's up to fourteen pounds. He started out at over seven, so that means that he's been gaining a pound a week.

Speaking of feeding. I had just finished feeding Arthur his lunch Wednesday when Muriel jumped up on to the couch. Muriel is handling the transition to a household with a child nicely, but there are moments when she will insist on coming up to suck all of the oxygen out of the room.

This was one of those times. Muriel pressed up against Arthur with some kind of cat notion of occupying my lap. My hands were kind of full burping Arthur at the time. The nurses at the hospital showed us a way to burp babies while the baby is sitting in your lap. So I was leaning Arthur over a little when a bit of white spit-up and baby formula drooled out of his mouth and only Muriel.

I started laughing. If I hadn't been holding Arthur I would have fallen off of the couch. Muriel couldn't figure out what I was laughing at, but I think she knew it was about her.

Wednesday morning on my way to Savoure, I looked across 10th street, and there was a stout man with long gray hair pushing a shopping cart the opposite way. I was only slightly better dressed and I realized that my clothes and the fact that I was pushing a baby instead of my belongings were really the only differences between us (OK, I was skinnier and my hair wasn't quite so gray).

I think that's one of the weirder things about being a stay-at-home dad. There don't seem to be many of us guys about, so we stick out when we're on the street. Then of course my writer's imagination took over and I thought, what a great spell to have if you were a street person magician -- the harassing cops are closing in on you, so you cast your spell and poof! Instead of a homeless person with a shopping cart, you're a stay-at-home dad pushing the pram; nothing odd looking here, no reason to be alarmed.

We got a magazine in the mail today. Actually, it was addressed to Arthur, which made me suspicious that this was actually propaganda sent out by the Baby-Military-Industrial Complex. I was right; the articles were written by Pod People Parents.

I nearly died reading one article about gross babies; the author goes to a fancy dinner party at a friend's house when, right in the middle of the dinner, the hostess whips out a port-a-potty for her two-year-old daughter to use in full view of the guests and just inches away from the dining room table. The author is horrified, but three years later, after becoming a Pod Person Parent, laughs at her earlier notion that small children should learn to have bowel movements in, say, a bathroom. I am not making this up.

Fear sells these kinds of magazines, so they are filled with "your baby will die or become an underachieving bum pushing a shopping cart unless you act now and often" articles. Acting now and often usually involves purchasing enrichment toys or programming your cell phone to dial 911 the moment you sense that a bum with a shopping cart might be following you.

I'm holding out for a parent's magazine that tells you how to teach your child telekinesis.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Getting Things Off My Chest

This morning I made the mistake of having a large cup of tea before plunking Arthur into a Baby Bjorn pack and walking to the library. The result is that three blocks away on the return trip home I had to pee really badly.

Have you ever tried to pee with a child hanging in front of you? First of all, you can't see anything below your chest. Second of all, you can't be entirely sure of your aim. There's always that little bit of doubt in the back of your mind as you peer around the child's bulk: am I actually delivering the stream to the bowl, or am I doing some kind of rim-shot and is it half splashing onto the floor? I guess I'm going to have to practice, because I think it's profoundly weird to have a floor length mirror next to the toilet reflecting your every movement.

What I want to know is do the !Kung people of the Kalahari Desert have this sort of problem?

Luckily, Arthur was asleep in the Baby Bjorn pack during all of this.

It's a toss up in our house which we like better; the baby sling or the Baby Bjorn. The sling is pretty easy to throw on and take off. The Baby Bjorn is a little more consistent in terms of how Arthur is positioned against us. The baby sling offers more sunlight protection. To make sure Arthur doesn't get too much sun, Mark typically drapes Arthur with receiving blankets. The overall effect is that Arthur looks like Ambassador Kosh the Vorlon from Babylon Five. Or Mother Superior from The Sound of Music.

Speaking of The Sound of Music, we're slowly discovering Arthur's taste in music. He likes older Annie Lennox, but doesn't seem enamored of her latest release, Bare. He likes Wendy Carols' recording of Switched on Bach, and the New Koto Ensemble of Tokyo's recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Handel's Water Music. Last I checked Anna Russell was not a big hit. The B-52's seem to be OK, and so are They Might Be Giants. There were mixed results for Yma Sumac.

Moving on to the visual arts, Arthur likes black and white objects. I used to think that all those black and white baby toys were some kind of marketing trick, but I made a bunch of high contrast Lamaze cards. Arthur consistently chooses the black and white graphics over the ones with color. So it looks like we're in for an Art Deco period at our house.

In other baby related news, we're trying to make sure that we have some skin contact with Arthur. We've been commanded by the Baby Police. "Skin on skin time," they said. "Make sure you spend time in skin contact with Arthur.

You want to know how that usually works? One of us take off our shirt and plunks Arthur down on our chest. Arthur lays there for about twenty seconds. Then he hears our heartbeat or something and starts rooting around for a nipple. Mark and I don't have milk producing nipples; Arthur's known this his entire life, but he still hasn't caught on. Rooting happens for another twenty seconds, and then Arthur grabs a fist full of chest hair. And pulls. I really have to hand it to baboons who run around the savanna for months with an infant baboon hanging from their chest hairs without a baby sling or Baby Bjorn. Maybe that's why they screech. I know I'd be hoarse after ten minutes.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Today (Sunday) Mark took Arthur out and so I had several hours of baby free time.

I suppose that I'm supposed to feel guilty, but it was great. I got some writing done without having to wear a sleeping small person around my neck. It was nice to be able to leave the house for a moment and not worry about Arthur, and being released from the two-hour Feed me, Seymour cycle was fabulous.

We seem to have a million baby clothes. I think about a half-million of these we can give to other new parents, as Arthur is already getting too big for the newborn stuff.

It seems like every other day he's bigger. A few days ago I realized he's taking up about half the length of the cradle; now he's taking up almost half. His crib seems a little smaller, too.

We might be raising a tank.

OK. I admit it. We made our first baby toy impulse buy. Small wooden blocks with numbers, letters, and animals on them. I'm not sure what we were thinking.

That's a lie. Mark was thinking, "Look, wooden toys that were made in America." I was thinking "Oh! How cute!" and secretly planning photoshoots with baby and blocks.

Up until then, we were secure in the knowledge that Arthur's happy with several books to look at. He really likes Animals on White, a huge photo book by Pete Dine (he liked the Irish Wolfhound and the bull); and Tiaras Past and Present by Geoffrey Munn. The Tiara book was the first book Arthur turned the pages of all by himself: he seemed to prefer a neo-classical tiara made up of diamonds and emeralds owned by Dame Ellen Terry and later by Dame Joan Sutherland over a tiara of rock crystal made by Cartier for Baron Pierre de Gunsburg, 1912.

It was only after we had paid for the blocks that we realized that the only thing Arthur's going to do with the blocks is suck on them for the for the next eighteen months. Then he'll probably throw them at us (or the cat). I had about consigned them to the shelf of misfit toys when I realized that they would give me something educational to wave in front of Arthur as he sucked down another six ounces of organic baby formula.

John (propped up on the couch within reach of baby blocks and a Pepsi): (Picks up block): "See Arthur, this is a swan. This is a swan."

Arthur (in the manner of Maggie Simpson): "Suck suck."

John (rotating block 90 degrees in the X axis): "And this is the letter A. This is an A."

Arthur: "Suck. Coo....coo. Suck... (eyes roll upward into head before closing).

John (discarding block, grabbing Pepsi): So much for higher education.

Uh, this is your pilot; we are about to attempt a crash landing...Mark has re-discovered rubber-band driven airplanes.

We took Arthur to the park to fly them. The rubber-band on Mark's plane broke, and after a few crazy flights, my plane got stuck in a tree.

Arthur was completely unimpressed. So we made him wear sunglasses.
My mission must not fail.  Do not resist me or you will be destroyed.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Counting Rhymes

John and Arthur sleepingThursday morning I was able to get Arthur to Savoure all by myself. I'm proud of this achievement, because it demonstrates that I've gotten far enough out of the baby-haze to be able to string more than three thoughts together.

After pushing the pram to Savoure, I parked it next to a small table and began to write. I managed to get some notes and scenes down for a short story involving busses when I noticed a very small spider dangling from the pram. Twenty minutes later there was another one on the other side. Arthur's pram seemed to be a kind of spider heaven. I managed to snag both spiders by their webs. With them hanging off of my pen, I delivered them to the bushes outside the tea shop.

I'm sure there's a significant message here. Spiders hanging from my pen... is the pen my tool for weaving webs of words? Ideas taken from the cradle to the bushes? What else does one take to the bushes? Or possibly the spiders are part of some sort of Old English counting rhyme.

Counting spiders in a crib;
Arachne's daughters will not fib.

One is for colic,
Two is for sleep.
Three is for jaundice,
Four a diaper heap.

Five is for showers,
Six is nursing time.
Seven is a stranger,
Eight is pantomime.

Nine is for in-laws,
Ten is a test.
Eleven is a doctor's bill,
Twelve's a spider's nest.

Mark and ArthurI wish I could say that I found the rhyme in an old book, or possibly a picture book by Heidi Holder, but I made it up. It does have the advantage of being an accurate divinatory rhyme, because Arthur managed to sleep through both Savoure spider visitations.

Arthur, John, John's Mother, John's Mother's MotherI realize that I've been slightly remiss in not reporting the results of the last doctor visit, which was about a week ago. Arthur's weight on June 28 was 4183 grams or 9 lb., 3.5 oz. Mark and I are pretty sure that Arthur's up to 10 lb. by now. His height was measured at 21.4 inches; but do you know how hard it is to accurately measure a squirming baby? Arthur's head circumference is 37.2 cm or 14 and 5/8 inches.

Arthur's very healthy. He's also more or less ravenous when he's not sleeping. I've watched him suck down 6 oz of formula in one sitting. The doctor says that if he consistently devours more than 36 oz in one day to mix rice into the formula.

I find that I'm developing a little more sympathy for what I call "Pod People Parents." You know the type of parent who has redecorated the entire house with Fisher-Price, and can only talk about baby poop, the baby, toys, the baby, formula, the baby, their play group, the baby, car seats, the baby, the baby and the baby? Extreme cases are only able to have adult conversation for no more than ten seconds.

I used to blame Pod People Parents for being weak-minded or misguided. Anyway, I realize now that it's not the parents' fault. It's not just that their baby has put them into a sleep deprived state. It's not just that the baby exudes pheromones as a kind of mind-control. It's that no matter where they go, all about ninety percent of other adults want to talk to them about is the baby.

In some cases, it's not so much a conversation about the baby as it is a kind of monologic aria. The other day I was trapped under Arthur while a woman I had met moments before launched into her twenty minute solo of "What a Beautiful Child." At least I think that's what she said. I was a little sleep deprived at the time, and what attention I did have to spare from feeding Arthur his formula was spent grunting, "Uh huh."

Will the real Arthur Corvus please stand up?I know I should be more gracious about everyone's excitement. After all, Arthur is being raised by two gay dads. One is a baby, raised by two dads; there's a counting rhyme for you. It could have been worse. She could have been telling me horror stories about spider bites.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chivalry is not Dead (Yet)

I think I've discovered a new baby superpower. The ability to affect traffic patterns at a three block distance.

Either that or there's something in the Eugene water that is similar to Northfield, Minnesota, water. When I lived in Northfield, it was dangerous to cross the streets. Not because of any traffic, but rather a case of what I used to call "Terminal Niceness." This is where two or more car drivers spend five minutes using hand signals (this was in the days before cell phones) to try to urge the other drivers to be the first ones through a (usually uncontrolled) intersection.

The Eugene twist is that someone in a car several blocks away will see me standing on a street corner with the pram and slam on the brakes and then use head and hand gestures to try to get me to cross the street (thank the gods they don't have my cell phone number). I think I need to write a letter to the local Eugene rag:

"To all automobile drivers in Eugene:

How wonderful it is that you want to help me out as I wait to push my infant son around the downtown area of Eugene. May I suggest that when you see me with the pram, waiting at an uncontrolled intersection, devoid of crossing signal or pedestrian crossing that, instead of slowing down or stopping in the middle of the street, you continue to drive your car in a regular, controlled and predictable fashion? For those of you wishing to show support, a simple wave and a thumbs-up as you drive by would be great.

I know when you slow down, you mean to be helpful; but every time this happens I wonder several things: A) is that driver lost? B) is that driver waiting for me to step into the street so they can speed up? and, C) is that driver going to get rear-ended by the driver behind them? It's great that Chivalry is Not Dead in Eugene; but as it's been more than ten years since my last CPR class, I'm afraid if you keep this sort of thing up it soon will be.

Gratefully Yours, John Burridge"

I suppose if they do print it, I'll be able to tell who's from out of town; or at least Northfield.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Rejection by Mail

I just got a rejection for my short story Corporate Samurai. I also made semi-finalist (again) in Writers of the Future for my short story The Colossus of Rhodes; while it's nice to make honorable mention, it would be nicer to actually win (and sell) a story for a change. I'm waiting for the critique that I'll receive as the prize for recieving honorable mention. The other short stories that have made honorable mention are Briallen Dreaming of Myrmidons and Skies of Dreaming.

Anyway, all these rejections brings my number of manuscripts in the mail down to two. My writing group's wisdom is that if you have ten stories in the mail at once, chances are good that you'll sell one of them (you don't get to pick which one, however). So it's time to get cracking and put manuscripts into the mail.

Civilized Baby

Coffee, tea, or...
I'm very proud of us.

Today we took Arthur to his first tea at Savoure. The visit went without a hitch.

Well, almost. The bottle of formula leaked. Luckily, we discovered this before Arthur did, so there wasn't a big scene. We parked the pram right next to our table. Mark had Willamette Morning Blend. I had Earl Grey Blue. We shared a plate of (high cholesterol) scones. Arthur slept through most of the tea (although there was a minor break for a diaper change).

We decided that Monday is French day, so when we got home, we put on Edith Piaf.

Yesterday Arthur met my parents. They were very excited. Arthur also met Vaal.

Do you eat vegitarians?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Only in Eugene

A new vaccum pump?

I'm pinned under a child. I'm amazed that I can type this, as I am holding Arthur in my right arm. At any moment we expect a Guatemalan baby sling to arrive in the mail. This will be a good thing, as it will free both of my hands. I'll admit that the stick the finger in the baby's mouth to trick him into thinking it is a nipple has lost its appeal (for me at least) because Arthur's sucking reflex is strong enough to take off fingernails. I've gotten to the point I sometimes look down at Arthur and think, "Augh!! There's a parasite latched onto my index finger!"

Last night (Wednesday) was Arthur's First Full Moon and the First Full Moon of Summer. We thought we might be able to see moonrise. Mark and I put him in his pram and were pushing him down a street near our house, minding our own business, when we walked by a mother and her six-month old. The mother was watering her front yard garden. The six-month old rode in a pack on her mother's back.

We got to talking. "What formula are you using?" she asked. The next thing we knew, she was offering to pump milk for Arthur. Her partner thought she was a little crazy as she wrote down her name and phone number for us. It was sweet, but at the time I must have had a odd look on my face.

We knew it was only a matter of time before the Secret Society of Mothers Who Pump Breast Milk would contact us.

Happy Solstice

Each new day with The Child seems to last forever. Maybe that's something to do with the 2 hour feeding schedule. Or maybe it has something to do with the goofy sleep schedule that is creeping into my days.

Mark continues to be a sweetie; he's become a laundry demon, whisking soiled clothes to the laundry facilities next door. He's also been sure that we each take some baby-free time each day.

The Child looks bigger today (Tuesday) than he did a few days ago. It's a relief; given all the food he eats I was beginning to wonder where he was putting it all. His solstice event was loosing his umbilical cord. It was pretty gross the night before solstice, hanging on his stomach in a red bloody paste. I found the umbilical bit in the morning. As a proper pagan parent, I suppose I need to sew up a bag and put the cord into it for him.

(Cue drumming)
John (dressed in ritual robes): "Oh my son, several hours after your first Summer Solstice, the umbilical cord that sustained you inside your mother's body fell away."
Teen Child (rolling eyes): "That's nice; can I have the car keys?"
Mark (stops drumming): "If we're done, can I stop drumming? It's hurting my wrists."

Yesterday (Monday) Mark and I put The Child into the baby Bjorn carrier thing and I carried him on my chest to the Eugene Library. The Library had a book on the Summer Solstice on hold for me. Of course I had to sing Sensitive New-Aged Guys by Christine Lavin as we walked. We hadn't gotten a half-block away from home when one of our neighbors pounced from her porch and wanted to see The Child. Once we got to the Library, we put him into the pram and pushed him back home. A different neighbor pounced as we returned home. I think I need a T-shirt that reads, "It takes one child to raze a village." The Child was out like a light by the time we got back to our house. I can tell that the pram is going to be my very good friend over the next few months.

One of our other very good friends is a heartbeat bear we got at a recent shower. It's a stuffed bear with a recording of a heart beat in it. It will play a whooshing rhythm for about twenty minutes and then turn itself off. It's kind of strange to me because it sounds a bit like the engine room from Star Trek. It's also oddly compelling because after a while, the relentless pounding noise starts to work its voodoo on my libido.

Heartbeat Bear: "Thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh..."
John (entering the bedroom where Mark has put The Child to sleep in the cradle): "Man, that bear really puts him to sleep."
Mark: "Yeah. He's out."
John: "It's odd; it kind of makes me want to do it."
Mark: "Everything makes you want to do it."
John (indignant): "Nuh-uh! Ancient Assyrian Art does not make me want to do it."
Heartbeat Bear: "Thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh..."
Mark: "But Ancient Egyptian Art does. (Takes classic Egyptain arms out stance) I don't see what the difference is."
John: "Assyrian Art is too militaristic; the Egyptians had a good eye for the human form. I still don't understand why this bear does what it does."
Mark: "That's because it's like mommy's heartbeat; Freud didn't get everything wrong, you know."
Heartbeat Bear: "Thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh..."
John: "What? Pound-pound-pound equals mom equals sex?"
Mark: "Yep; why do you think drumming is such an integral part of religion?"
John: "Mommy's heartbeat? Eeuw!!"
Mark: "It's primal; it's the first thing you heard for the first six months in the womb."
John (runs out of bedroom): "Mommy's heartbeat?"
Heartbeat Bear: "Thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh, thud-whoosh..."

Mark and I have been splitting up dad-duty. During my watch Monday, I decided to take The Child on another pram trip. I did a quick walk around the block. I was pulling the pram behind me in our front yard when I thought I heard The Child make a very odd clacking sound. I stopped the pram and I heard the sound again, only it wasn't coming from Arthur; it was coming from a crow perched on the power lines in the alley over our house. Traces of white frosted its black wings and its eyes glittered like hemetite beads. It inclined its beak as if trying to look into the pram, so I pushed back the cover for the crow to see. The crow peered down from the power line, then got interested in something else.

(cue drumming)
John (whisking aside his ritual robes to reveal a box): "And for your sixteenth birthday, I have made you this."
Teen Child (muttering): "It's not another mobile, is it?"
John: "What?"
Teen Child: "What is it?" (opens box) "A cloak of crow feathers?"
Mark (stops drumming): "Eeuw; so that's what you did with that carcass. I hope you washed those feathers before you sewed them together."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

First Fathers' Day

John Harps for Arthur

Our first Fathers' Day is over.

Our house is getting back to normal; we moved furniture around and now our bed is back in our bedroom and Arthur's cradle is at the head of our bed. It will be nice to sleep in our bed in the bedroom.

Arthur's a little fussy today. Mark thinks one of my secondary super-dad powers is bouncing Arthur to sleep. We think his embilical cord is bothering him. Maby tomorrow we'll take a picture of it and post it. It sort of smells like Pickle's ears did and in general looks like a small shred of dead flesh. I suppose that we'll have to make up some sort of ritual with lots of drumming, lots of fathers, encase the cord in lucite when it falls off, and read passages from Robert Bly's Iron John.

Mobile of Platonic and Aristotitelian Solids
In other news, I finally finished the mobile.

Well, OK. It is missing an octahedron. But as someone said yesterday, we can leave the mystery of the octahedron as a special treat of discovery in eight years. Arthur really loves looking at the mobile. I'll admit, it is neat, but I'm not sure that I'm as mesmerized by it as Arthur is.

Maybe for his birthday I can add some blinking LEDs.

Friday, June 17, 2005

More Pictures


Since I know someone will want to see a picture of Arthur's placenta, here's the link to it:

It was actually kind of cool. I think it looks like a tree, and I imagine that I'll have to meditate on it before I go to bed tonight and see what fun dreams or poetry I come up with. The OB turned it inside-in and showed us how it connected to the inside of V's womb and how Arthur had been floating around in the amniotic sack (and where he broke through).

Since we've had about a million phone calls a day and tons of e-mails asking for pictures, pictures and more pictures, you can see other pictures in the directory

New Health Report

We just got back from the doctor's office. Arthur is looking rosy and was looking so good they didn't want to give him another heel prick blood test (which he hates). Arthur is now 22 inches and has gained another 5 ounces since his Tuesday doctor visit.

Health Report.

Aurthur's doing great. He initially lost 5 ounces, which is normal for babies. Last we checked, he had gained back 1 ounce.

I am Locutis of Borg...

He sleeps a lot, and drinks a lot. It looks like he's settling into a 2 hour 15 minute cycle (plus or minus 45 minutes) of sleeping and then eating. Mark was a anxious that Arthur was eating too much formula because Arthur wanted 2 to 3 ounces at a feeding. This works out to 24 to 36 ounces per day, which Mark thinks is a little too much. Arthur doesn't agree; almost everyone (and about four of them are mothers) I've spoken with says, "If he wants more formula, give it too him."

Arthur's 'Stork Bite'
Arthur was a little jaundiced, but he's looking better. The poor thing had to endure 3 heel pricks so the doctor could get a bilirubin count. (Most babies' livers don't turn on all the way at birth and they have a really high count of red blood cells; when the cells break down and the liver can't process the waste, the result is a yellow baby.) We've chosen a pediatrician who is able to look at Arthur and predict his bilirubin count, which is a great pediatrician super-hero ability.

So far Arthur's not a fussy baby. He likes being held firmly while the holder bounces up and down on a Swiss Ball; I'm hoping this will tone my abs, and I'm pretty sure that my biceps are toning up from hours of "the football hold." He also likes to sleep on us.

You've got a breast!!!
Arthur also can smell progesterone at about 10 feet. The first time Julie visited and held him, his eyes and mouth opened wide and he started rooting around for her breast. I'm pretty sure he did it later in the day when Sarah H and Reverend Caroline visited.

On the subject of smells, the other day I was urinating and I was struck by the thought, "My urine smells like the baby." I'm still pondering if maybe the baby simply smells like urine and I'm suddenly more sensitive to smells or if there's some weird baby-biochemical voodoo going on. Or maybe I'm just sleep deprived.

Something to bring out for the first big date
Mark's been going crazy with the camera, so I should have some baby shots up soon.
There've been a lot of firsts; so far we've had, Arthur's first rain water (which I sprinkled on his forehead). We've had Arthur's first eye-booger (which Mark did something with -- I hope it doesn't show up in a scrap book). We've also had Arthur's first package addressed specifically to him.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Arthur and John
First off, no one told us we would get superpowers when we became dads.

I should have been suspicious that this might be the case several years ago when Keith Packard leapt across a fifteen foot room and snatched a piece of clear cellophane out of his daughter's mouth. The cellophane was invisible to me, and I was standing right next to her.

My superpower is judo-chopping friendly German Shepherds as they rambunctiously jump up. This happened with my sister Julie's dog, Sierra, while Julie was holding Arthur. I swear it was spinal cord reaction. Before Sierra hit the ground I had turned to Julie and said, "I'm sorry, that was a reflex." I'm not sure who was more surprised: Julie, Sierra, or me.

Just for the record -- because I know there are some stories floating around -- when Julie came near Arthur a little later on with a cup of tea (which it turned out afterwards was cold) I did not judo-chop her.

Julie holds Arthur while Mark reads (notice no judo-chop bruises on Julie)

Mark is jealous because his superpower is the ability to unflinchingly suck spit-up baby formula out of Arthur's nose with his mouth. And not being sick afterwards.
Mark's secondary superpower is being able to rattle off "diapers, formula, and baby-wipes" without thinking whenever anyone asks us what we need.

Arthur in stylish clothing
With chagrin I'm noticing that the Infant-Military-Industrial Complex is trying to slither its tentacles into our home. For some reason Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger are on the front of the diapers we use, and there's a Gerber Baby looking up at us from one of the receiving blanket labels. At least the hospital didn't want to stamp Arthur with a hospital logo (although now that I think about it, he did have to wear a security tag on his ankle while he was there).

Arthur in Arms of Gorilla/Bear/Dog/Thing.
To counter marketing schemes, I've continued work on the baby mobile, which Mark now refers to as "The MOMA project." Mostly because it's big and looks like something Frank Lloyd Wright would have installed. I think Mark was a little surprised at how big an icosidodecahedron is; all the polyhedrons have the same unit side, so the pentagons make all the dodecahedron-based polyhedra soccer ball sized. I still need to make an icosohedron and an octagon to complete the set of Platonic solids, and I'd like to make a snub cube and then I'll be done cutting and pasting paper.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's A Boy!

But we knew that all ready.

Arthur on the Scales

The child was born 3:04 PM, Saturday, June 11.

V was induced around 8 AM. She started having labor pains about 10 AM, and they broke her waters about then. Some time before 11 AM she was given demerol. The hard pushing began about 2 AM.

First Minutes

He was born facing up, head first, with no complications. The attending physician allowed Mark to put on latex gloves and help the baby out. Mark got to see his skull plates shifting around as he came down the birth canal. I managed to get photographs and video of a lot of the birth. I also got to cut his cord.

V had very little interior tearing.

My mother laughed when I told her the baby was 11 inches long and my sister condemed me with all other men who ever attended a birth and had to guess what the birth weight was. For the record, he was 22 inches long, and he weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces. He scored 9 (out of 10) on the Apgar Baby Health score. He has very big blue eyes, long fingers, long limbs, some fuzz on his head, and looks a little like his uncle Kevin.

Arthur Asleep

Then began the naming process. This consisted of me looking down into his plexiglas bassinet and asking him, "Is your name Corvus?" (baby kick -- yes) "Is your name Philip?" (no response -- no). "Is your name Arthur?" (baby kick -- yes) "Is your name Bootes? (the constelation of the shepherd in the sky)" (big baby kick). "Is your name Orphinchus?" (no response). At this point Mark said something about sticking to the list.

More Arthur Asleep

Melora also participated in what Mark called our "pychic communion with the baby."



Let the child be called Arthur Corvus Jackson Burridge

Our lawyer, V's lawyer, two hostpital records ladies and V inspecting paperwork 2 hours after Arthur's birth

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Things Are Getting Started

Pepsi Magic With VJust a quick post. This morning we went to the hospital and around 8AM, V got induced. I think she was three to four cm dialated. Sometime around 10 AM they broke her waters and contractions have started. It's looking like it might be a long labor.

The hospital is a no cell phone zone. They also don't have internet access. So... the next posting might be a voice-post. If I don't answer my cell it's because I'm not in the little waiting room which is the sole cell phone area on the materinity floor.

(left to right) Veronica, Melora, & Lisa

Friday, June 10, 2005

Maybe Friday Night

I just got off the phone with Melora.

The doctor says that V is another centimeter dialated and that he'd be surprized if the baby didn't decide to come tonight and if the baby doesn't come they'd do and inducement Saturday. They're running around right now doing last minute errands.

More as I learn it.

He's Not Coming Out

No baby yet. The amniotic fluid is crystal clear, so clear the med techs were saying things like, "Look at how clear this is" to each other. If the results of the tests show that the baby's lungs are ready to breathe air, they'll probably induce this weekend; maybe Sunday. Given my track record at reporting on what the doctors will or won't do, don't quote me.

The baby name game has taken a new twist. If the baby was born while Mark, V and Melora were bowling, his middle name could have been "Lane." If the baby was born while they were at Ambrosia (a Eugene restuarant), the middle name could have been "Ambrose." If the baby is born on artist Cristofaro's birthday, then his middle name will by Cristo. If the baby is born on William Butler Yeats' birthday, then I'm going to have to change my name to "Maud Gonne." (Although I've always thought "Gyre" would be an interesting name...)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Secret Agent Dad

The child is docked (or engaged). This means that his little forehead is firmly nestled into V's pelvis. I understand this is uncomfortable; sort of like having a beachball-sized cueball banging around between one's thighs. I'm pretty sure V's in the get this thing outta me! stage. At this point in time, calls to us (or left on our answering machine) of "Have You Had The Baby Yet?" are really not very helpful. If you simply cannot resist saddistic urges to call and ask, you'll have to use a secret code. I suggest something like the following:

John (picking up the phone): "Madam Vaal's House of Air Dusters."
You: "Hi, it's me."
John: "Oh hi! How are you?"
You: "I'm fine. If you haven't had the baby yet, say, 'Oh! We love our Denby!'"
John: "Oh! We love our Denby." (indicating the child is unborn)
You: "Oh well. If Veronica is doing OK, say 'Our pattern is 'Storm.'"
John: "Our pattern is 'Storm.'" (indicating V is OK). "We love it."
You: "I'm glad she's doing well. If dishes were days, how long do you think she'll be?"
John: "Oh we have one large platter, but we could use eight ramkins." (indicating 1 to 8 days; by the way, we really could use eight ramkins....and a new tea kettle)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Let the Child Be Named Gerbil

Still no child. The doctors don't seem to be as gung-ho to induce labor as they were last week. So now we wait. Veronica and Melora have turned to cooking.

In a related item, last night I dreampt my son was a small black gerbil. I was trying to do the father-son bonding thing by laying the baby on my chest. Only he was a gerbil. I had to chase him into a corner and under the hospital bed. I remember thinking, man, this baby sure is small; and I was concerned that I needed to support the baby's head (although as near as I could tell all the leaping around wasn't hurting him too much). I said to the nurse, "You know, I don't quite remember how the birth went."

"Oh," she said, "you passed out right away."

The dream concluded with a (possibly mechanical) bat side-kick trying to help me bottle feed the gerbil-boy as I lay in a very narrow hospital bed that became more and more tree limb like as the dream progressed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Post-New Moon

Still no child. But... Melora did have a dream that V was in labor and the doula wasn't able to make it. And V stepped on a very large snail last night. In bare feet. In related news, I finished a double-tetrahedron (technically not a Platonic Solic) and a cube. I think I'll work on a snub-dodecahedron next.

More baby news after V visits the obstatrician.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Still No Child

Despite a marathon day of shopping, napping, and some "restless behavior", V is still great with child. I believe she's reached the get this thing out of me stage.

Mark and I sat down and wrote out our top-twenty baby name lists. Much to the dismay of various people over seventy, Corvus, Kepler, and Rigel are still in the running. Other names include Arthur, Henry, Blake, Edward, Harold, Martin, Phillip, James, and Jason. Mark told his mother, "If you want to name a baby, you can have your own." After my father groaned particularly loudly, I told him, "If you keep that up we'll ressurect Greek names like Orpheus or Agamemnon."

Work on the baby-mobile continues. I've finished construction of a regular dodecahedron, a regular tetrahedron, and a cuboctahedron. Mark has warned me that this (paper) mobile is not allowed to fall onto the baby.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

New Moon on Monday

New moon is June 6, 21:55, Universal Time. That translates to 2:55 PM, Pacific Daylight Time. Two new moons ago, Mark and I were just touching down in Orlando, Florida (we couldn't see the annular eclipse through the airplane windows).

The Summer Solstice will be roughly two weeks later: June 21 06:46 UT; or June 20, 11:46 PM, PDT.

Latest Doctor Visit

Veronica visited her obstatrician. Mark and I entertained a 3 year old with kooshes in the waiting room. The doctor told Veronica that she is 75% effaced, 1 cm dialated, that the baby is tall, and that if the baby isn't born by June 6, she'll induce labor.

Veronica's happy with the June 6 date; her mother, Melora, is flying in late Thursday night (tomorrow), and V wanted Melora there for the birth.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Fisher-Price King

I feel so banal. I’ve just discovered the Infant-Military-Industrial-Complex. And I know I’m not the first. Walking through the aisles of kid stuff, I want to write about the forced choices before me: pink frilly, or desert camouflage.

But all this ruminating is so forty years ago. I can see back to one of my writing idols: Judith Viorst. She wrote Nice Baby in the sixties. How can I top Judith? Damn these baby-boomers anyway! First it was Wicca, then it was the Radical Faeries, now it’s child-care; everywhere I go they’ve had a twenty year jump on the writing market.

So, pink frills or desert camouflage? I choose neither!

Okay, Okay, I can hear all of the progressive parents in my audience tisking, shaking their heads and saying, “Before I had children, I swore I would never have plastic children’s stuff on my lawn. You want to know what’s on my lawn?”

“But I can be strong,” I say. “I refuse to be pulled into this game by falling for a false choice.”

“No,” says the parental Greek chorus, “You cannot resist. Every Bohemian Parent believes they will be the first to preserve their ‘stubbly with goodness’ lifestyle. But they get worn down. Give in; you can go gracefully, or you can go kicking and screaming, but you’ll still go.”

The only protection I have from the Cult of Anne Geddess is to shriek, “But what about the well-being of the child?” This pops me out of the desert frills level and up to the Politically Correct or Commercially Complacent level. You want to know something? The baby-boomers have written all about this, too.

What is is about our society that makes it want to present us with all these choices that aren’t really choices? And what is it about being an expectant parent that makes us examine these false choices? Stumped, I leave the keyboard for a moment for a bathroom break and stumble across this quote: “I arise each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day.” -- E. B. White.

Gracious. I found portent in the bathroom. There must be a metaphor in there, somewhere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Invasion of the Fisher-Price Link-A-Doos Snatchers

When I first encountered Link-A-Doos, I was reading a Fisher-Price catalog thinly disguised as a Pregnant Mother's Magazine. The first page I opened to had a half-page glossy photograph: Small, brightly colored, plastic, flower-shaped mutant creatures swarmed through an open window and proceded to hang from every concevable vertical surface. There wasn't a baby in sight; obviously the mass-produced, churbic faced ones were waiting for an unsuspecting parent to leave a child in the room for a nap so they could whisk it away to the mothership. Other brightly colored items with Very Round Faces And Eyes littered the room with highly-athropormorphized baby expressions.

I stabbed an index finger into Mark's shoulder. "This," I said, stabbing the photo next, "is *not* (stab) what our house (stab) is going to look like (stab-stab-stab)."

I can deal with bright colors and high-contrast. I can deal with animal shapes. I can even deal with flowers. And I thought Ellenor's pull-string toy that wiggled was cool. But I draw the line at smiling, insipid, Anne-Geddes-on-Steroids faces. What lesson do these toys teach beyond "look cute so you won't be left for the wolves?" Don't children know how to do this already? Doesn't modeling "cute behavor" undermine a child's intrinsic motivation to be cute spontaneously?

So. This:,linkspeg

out. *Way* out. Escape-velocity speeds aren't too slow.


in. I'm working on constructing a baby mobile this week.

In a related topic; we now own an iMac G5 -- so we can watch DVD's. We will not be watching any Teletubbies at our house. Instead we will be instilling a sense of cultural hertigage into our son by playing a Books-on-CD version of The Oddessy and watching DVD's of the Original Star Trek series ("See, son; Mr. Spock always has to save Captian Kirk; what do you think that says about doing well in science?...:).

- John

PS: Thanks to everyone for all the advice on straight -- er swaddling. Now I really want a leopard-print swadling sack.