Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2013 by Potato

I normally try very hard to resist the urge to plaster pictures of adorable Blueberry all over the internet, but this was so cute I just couldn’t resist.

I had put the skeleton in her wagon thinking it would make a neat, creepy prop. She’s never before had any interest in pulling her wagon, only riding in it. But with a new friend in there who needed a ride she just grabbed the handle and was off! Wayfare says she was at it for nearly half an hour. Then at the end, she went up and gave the skeleton a kiss. Awww.

Anyway, hope you all have a wonderful Halloween.

Pinkshirts (Blueberry Shorts)

October 14th, 2013 by Potato

Wayfare bought Blueberry some new outfits recently, including one that looks like the DS9/late TNG Star Trek uniforms: bar of colour across the shoulders, black body and pants. “Aww, she’s going to be in the Starfleet Confectionary Corps!” I said on seeing it. Explaining further, the colour is pink, rather than red/yellow/blue, so my mind immediately filled in the gap: blue for science and medical, etc. — what would fit pink? Confectionary is what seemed appropriate. Anyway, whatever else a pink Starfleet uniform might signify, it’s cute.

She’s starting to get afraid of stuff. In one tragically hilarious episode, she has a few stuffed animals that make noise when you squeeze them. She leaned on the cow without knowing, and it started mooing behind her, scaring her. Then the next day, she had taken all the toys out of the box to play with except the cow, stuck in a corner of the box. “No” she’d say, shaking her head and pointing at the cow “Shhh, shhh.” [Translation: be quiet and don’t wake the scary cow!]

Things I have inadvertently taught her today: to punch daddy in the crotch, and to pee on herself. The parents out there will know that the context is almost entirely unneeded: at this point I’m boned. To tell the tale anyway, bathtime is the best time. She typically gets a bath every other day, and even at 18 months knows it: on her off days she’s pretty good about not asking for one, but when she knows it’s bath day anything will have her hopefully asking “bath?” Running the water, seeing an ad with people on the beach, getting dirty, anything. So this morning she woke up with a diaper malfunction, covered in pee. “Well, let’s go have a bath.” “Bath?” She asked at first, confused by the unusual timing and not sure I’d actually said it. Then it sunk in: “Bath! Bath!” So yep, now I expect every morning I’m going to find her covered head to toe in pee, ready for that morning bath.

Then later we were playing with flashlights. On, off, on, off, on, off, etc. Then she gave me the flashlight, and then wanted it back. So the next time rather than just holding it behind my back, I put it in my pocket. Then I put it in my pocket while it was on. “Off!” Ok, I turned it off while it was still in my pocket. And back on while it was still in my pocket. Then I let her do it. “Great,” deadpanned Wayfare, “you’ve now taught her that something cool happens when she punches you in the crotch.”

And finally, we were at the park today and for some reason Thanksgiving seems to be bring-your-hamster-to-the-park day around here: there was a group of kids ~8-10 years old with 6 little hamsters in their cage on a picnic table. Blueberry sat transfixed by the hamsters. She was so good: didn’t squeal at them, didn’t bang the cage, just watched as the bigger kids played with them. The kids were great too, they kept showing her their hamsters and telling her what their names were and why they got named that. I’m always impressed at how even-tempered she is when it’s time for us to stop doing something fun (like staring at the hamsters) and move on to something else (like going to visit Grammy or going to bed).

Baby Anecdotes

July 13th, 2013 by Potato

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any baby anecdotes. I don’t know, I figure it’s kind of like talking about my cat: I enjoy it, and think she’s just ever so cute — indeed, the cutest cat ever — but the rest of the world might not appreciate it to quite the same extent. Plus, I haven’t really had any post-length stories to share, so here are a few short vignettes for you to enjoy or conveniently skip in one easy step:

Me: “I see you’re eating your sock. Let daddy tell you the tale of the greatest sock of all time. It was in Super Mario 3, and appeared but once to help Mario stomp all the spikey-shelled…”
Wayfare: “That was a boot.”
Me: “What? No, it was a sock. We called it Sockey. It was green.”
Wayfare: “Yes, I know the part of Mario you’re talking about, with the wind-up key. It was a boot.”
And so it was.
Moral of the story: I need to learn some more conventional fairy tales for story time.

So Wayfare is playing with Blueberry and she discovers what being upside-down is, and it is hilarious. Wayfare’s holding her upside-down, and baby is giggling and having a grand old time… but she is teething. Which brings with it a ridiculous amount of drool production. There she is, upside-down and giggling, with the drool pouring out of her mouth and up her face… and into her nose. She’s not happy with that. Not one bit. Coughing and sputtering, drowning in her own goobers.

Upon learning of this episode I exclaimed “You waterboarded the baby?!”

Wayfare: “OMG, I waterboarded the baby!”

Whatever the future brings, however many times I accidentally bump her into furniture with my clumsiness, get oatmeal on her nose at mealtime, or embarrass her in front of her friends, I can always say that I wasn’t the one who waterboarded the baby. (Yes, to be fair, she waterboarded herself, and she’s totally fine. But Wayfare’s exclamation was too funny not to share.)

There was a bit of a water getting behind the siding causing rot issue at the family cottage on PEI, so some windows and part of the wall had to be replaced this year. We knew this way back in February when we booked our tickets, and were assured by many that this relatively minor renovation would totally be completed before we got there in June. Well, of course it wasn’t. So we’re down some bedrooms and forced to “rough it” and put Blueberry in with one of us. In a cute-in-the-retelling-but-not-live-in-concert it turns out that Blueberry thought sharing a room was a grand plan. Finally, she could wake up in the middle of the night, shout “Da! Da! Da! Da! Da! Da!” until I got up, asked her what was up, and have her say [sign] back “Tired!” and lay back down to go to sleep.

In the middle of the night, awoken from a nice, deep vacation sleep my attitude was all “Thanks for that update Blueberry,” and “damn but we need that bedroom window to get installed so she can sleep somewhere on her own.” In hindsight, it’s super cute that she wanted so desperately to share her current mood with her parents — though if it wasn’t for the fact that she also did it with Wayfare, I would have sworn it was a passive-aggressive commentary on my snoring.

Oh, speaking of sign language, I am so glad we did that. I wasn’t sure we should bother keeping it up when we got to 10-11 months and she still wasn’t signing anything back to us or seeming to understand the signs any better than what we were saying (the book I had read implied I should expect signing to start at 8 months). Then around 13 months a few key signs seemed to click (we only ever learned about a dozen that we use consistently with her), like tired, hungry, and want. As a parent I am a professional worrier, so of course I worry a bit that she’s not using her (verbal) words when she has signs for things and that it’s going to delay her speech a bit. But she’s so much less frustrated when she can express some things to us and have us understand where she’s coming from.

Grammy bought Blueberry a wagon, and I took her out tearing across the lawn and sidewalk in the rain. She has this massive happy grin for going fast over rough terrain, she was just loving it.
Grammy: “She’s so brave, and so relaxed in there! She just took right to it, no fear at all of the bumps and speed!”
Me: “She’s faced death already, she has no fear of it.”

Wayfare: “Your cookbook is DELICIOUS!”
Me: “You mean it is filled with directions to make all kinds of yummy food?”
Wayfare: “No, the residue of sugar and flour and shortening on the pages. Blueberry was over at the bookshelf, licking her fingers, wiping on the book, and doing it again and again, so I had to see what the big deal was. And I agree: It’s delicious.”

I have recently been sucked into Doctor Who by Wayfare. I found the show strange and frightening as a kid, and kind of hard to follow, so I never bothered trying to get into it with the 2005 relaunch. Given that it’s a show about time-travelling, I’m going in mostly the wrong order, starting with the most recent Doctor, Matt Smith. And I’m loving it: it’s sweet and funny and ridiculous, and ever so quotable. There is such a strange disconnect between the really terrible, cheesy special effects and the truly excellent makeup work on the show.

Anyway, in practically no time at all (less than two weeks), Wayfare has managed to teach Blueberry the Doctor Who theme song. Basically, she bounces baby on her knee going “Bump-bump-bump-bum” and Blueberry will chime in with “Wooo oOOoooOooooo OOOoooo” and a little bit of baby dancing.

It’s great having a baby and going out for a walk, particularly one as wonderful and happy as Blueberry is. You can just see people lighten up and smile left and right as she waves and giggles at them, or even if she’s just chilling and they think she’s cut. Wayfare says it’s like going out and hitting people with a happy stick.

Baby Monitor Theft

April 23rd, 2013 by Potato

Ever since Blueberry started sleeping through the night, I have been the one on baby monitor duty. She’s a pretty good little sleeper — and so am I for that matter, so I can sleep through the little non-emergency noises that would otherwise wake Wayfare. Most of the time I’m only woken up by the false positives of the breathing monitor going off (which, now that’s she’s 1, I can’t wait to turn off).

Well this morning I had to get up earlier than normal, so Wayfare agreed to take the monitor from me whenever she got up to pee in the night. Normally I wouldn’t even hear her come in to get the monitor, but for whatever reason today I did wake up to the creak of a floorboard. And you now have to keep in mind that I’m more than a little bit sleep deprived.

I heard the floor creaking and got really freaked out, I was like “someone’s in my room” and then part of my inner monologue was like “it was probably Wayfare getting the monitor” and then I waited, heart pounding, for about a minute, and slowly,

reached my hand out to check if the monitor was there AND IT WAS GONE just LIKE I EXPECTED but somehow my brain only latched onto that first bit and for like 20 seconds I was all OMG someone is in the house and stole the monitor and they’re going to steal my baby and do I call 911 first or am I being crazy and I should just rush out and stop them and the police aren’t going to do anything and I don’t want to accidentally wake Blueberry up at this ungodly hour but I have to rescue her yet these guys are obviously pros and probably have guns with silencers I mean come on they snuck into my room to grab the monitor so the sensor pad wouldn’t go off when they snatched up my baby and seconds matter here get out of bed and… oh, right, Wayfare.

So I’m off to bed early tonight.

Car Seats

March 5th, 2013 by Potato

We bought the Graco Snugride 35 carseat initially because all the safety research suggests that keeping kids rear-facing longer is safer. Rated up to 35 lbs, we figured that this car seat — though large and heavy — would keep Blueberry rear-facing until she was pretty much two years old. Though it’s large for an infant carrier, I was able to fit it in the Prius and still manage to get my seat to a decent position for driving (it’s about an inch further forward than I had it when I positioned my seat without any such constraints — not the most comfortable position but a workable compromise). Blueberry is very tall for her age (obviously a mix-up at the hospital), and though she still has over 10 lbs to go before hitting the weight limit she’s getting close to the maximum height for her infant seat. Time to move up.

So now we’re off shopping for convertible car seats, the next step up that can be either rear- or forward-facing. With these larger seats, it’s almost impossible to find ones that can fit behind a front seat well enough for me to drive or for Wayfare to comfortably sit. I’ve been checking various forums for tips and reviews and pictures of how they fit, and it seems like the two on our shortlist are the Britax Marathon/Boulevard or the Diono Radian. I’ll spare you my pro/con lists, coin-flipping, and hand-wringing on this decision (though feedback on those seats is welcome in the comments).

What really got me in our search was the oft-stated fact that carseats are improperly installed some huge portion of the time. I heard numbers ranging from 80% to 95% depending on the source, and it got me thinking: where does this bit of conventional wisdom come from? I’ll grant that installing the old-fashioned way with a seatbelt is difficult both in terms of skill and strength required, but I really had no issues with the LATCH install. After all, that’s what LATCH is supposed to help with. Plus, the epidemiology data all says that kids in car seats are safer, so either the install error-rate is over-stated, far more people are managing to get/pay for a professional installation, or seats are safe even if installed incorrectly. I started to wonder just how true this conventional wisdom was, or if perhaps this factiod had been invented by the stores offering a $25 installation service and picked up by the media, so I went off in search of a source.

There are some NHTSA reports that seem to be the origin of these figures. This one, for instance, gives a high error rate for installation, topping 95% for first-time installers, who in this study (or a similar one I just read) were recruited from a university’s volunteer pool (i.e.: first-year psych students giving their very minimum effort for $10 and a course credit).

The most common error is loose installation: a carseat, when properly installed, is supposed to be able to move less than an inch. Now, a carseat that can be wiggled an inch and a half is not meaningfully more dangerous than one that can only be wiggled an inch; likewise, the carrying handle for a removable carseat has a specified position for use in the car for each brand (and it is often different for each model) — though many first-time installers got it wrong, it’s also not usually critical. If they apply a severity score, then “only” about 30% of seats were incorrectly installed in a really bad way. The good news: the error rate drops in half once parents/caregivers who have carseat experience are tested, rather than novices. The bad news: that’s still a nearly 50% error rate. To pick out one more interesting factoid, there was a higher error rate for those who drove cars with leather seats.

I’m surprised that even digging into the data, the “legitimate” error rate still appears to be shockingly double-digits high. That really says that something needs to be done to make carseats easier to install safely. Some kind of standardization is most likely the answer: either continue with LATCH but standardize the connectors, or create a universal base that the manufacturer’s individual seats can clip into. Angle adjusters with a wide range of motion are also likely going to be needed — far too many official installation instructions include the use of towels or pool noodles (sold separately) to prop up one part of the base, which is frankly ridiculous. Many require a great deal of strength to tighten properly, or that the adult put their full weight on the seat to jam it down into position — a ratcheting belt-tightener would be a great feature on many of these seats.

As an aside (and not necessarily a product recommendation) this car seat is a neat one from a human factors point of view, with sensors and a display to help ensure correct installation. The video there is only about a minute long if you want to go have a watch.