Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mom: Happy Thanksgiving

Last week was an exciting week at the Cook house. It started last Sunday. I could tell Susan wasn't feeling great - her nose was runny and she was sneezing. That night, she hardly slept at all. It was pitiful. She was also grabbing her ears - a sign of teething or an ear infection. The next day, we decided to go ahead and take her to daycare - even though she had maybe slept 6 hours all night.  We figured it was a cold and there just wasn't much we could do.  But I called daycare to see how she was doing around 11 a.m. and apparently, she wasn't sleeping and her ears were draining. So I called the doctors and they said to bring her in. So I picked Susan up and she was so pitiful. Usually when I pick her up, her face lights up and she greets me with a huge smile. But on Monday, she could hardly lift her head and she was just a little river of snot. So she and I trekked to the doctor. She immediately fell asleep in the car.

We got there at 1:35 for our 1:45 appointment. We see Duke Peds but our pediatrician is at a different location then where we went on Monday. But we has been here before for a potential sick visit and were very happy with the doctor we saw. WELL that was not the case on Monday. Susan and I waited in the waiting room until 2:15 and were finally called back. Where we waited in the tiny room for another 30 minutes. During this time, Susan was so cranky and tired. She kept nodding off on my shoulder. At 2:30, I was pissed and angry and marched down to the nurses station to find out when we were being seen. Of course we were next in line but we still weren't seen until 2:45. I went over all of her symptoms and the doctor checked her out. Then it was time to check her ears. I had to hold Susan sideways on my lap, with her legs between mine and my hand holding her head down on my chest. The doctor tried to look and based on what she saw in Susan's left ear, wanted the supervising pediatrician to come check her out. So then we waited some more! Then the supervising pediatrician came in and we had to repeat it. Only this time, trying to hold her still in my lap wasn't happening. So he made me lay my baby on the exam table, hold her arms down and lay my body across her little body so he could examine her ears. IT WAS HORRIBLE. She cried and screamed bloody murder in my ears the entire time. And it took forever because first the doctor had to clear the drainage before he could see inside! And of course she was "iffy" for an ear infection, whatever that meant.  So he gave us a prescription for an antiobiotic and numbing ear drops.  We finally left at 3:15!!!!  I got her home, gave her a bottle and came up with a cold-battle plan.

She slept much better than night, thanks in part I am sure to her new Vicks Warm Air Mist Humidifier, as well as the numbing ear drops.  Tuesday I stayed home with her so she could get some rest.  I had already planned to take Wednesday off and so did Chris.  The plan was to host Thanksgiving at our house, but with Susan feeling sick, we decided to wait and see how Susan was feeling Wednesday morning before making a final decision and letting my mom host in Greensboro.  Well Wednesday morning came and it was obvious she was feeling better.  My brother also flew home that morning, so my family stopped in with him at around 7 a.m. on their way back to Greensboro.  By this time, Chris and I were starting to feel yucky but were sucking it up.  On Wednesday, I cooked all day, and received a lot of help around the kitchen from Susan and Chris.  We also discovered that Susan's FIFTH tooth erupted sometimes between Saturday and Wednesday.  Go figure.  Took the last tooth four weeks to erupt; it took this one four days.  I am sure the matching 6th tooth is not far behind.
Feeling better on Tuesday

Helping my mama in the kitchen on Wednesday

On Thursday, Susan slept great and woke up happy.  She still wasn't feeling great, but was definitely feeling better.  Around 9, she laid down for her nap and Chris and I finished getting dressed and turned on the parade.  It was so nice.  Then my family came over (next year Chris' family will be able to come too) and we had such a wonderful day.  The food was wonderful and the company was even better.  Susan sat in her high chair and just talked to us and played while we ate.  We had and have so many things to be thankful for, so it was wonderful to share the day with everyone and celebrate all of our blessings.  I am sure Susan didn't really understand what we were talking about, but she could tell it was an exciting day (as her pitiful afternoon showed).  Christmas is just a few weeks away and while our plans are still very up in the air (cross your fingers Duke is playing in the Belk Bowl), it will still be wonderful.  And we have so many wonderful family traditions to share with Susan and to start as our own little family, which we are really really looking forward to.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mom: Baby Stats at Eight Months

I know, we get a huge F in blogging, especially me. Things have just been really crazy and hectic since September.  We are currently going through our first cold, which was preceded by the TOOTH THAT WOULD NOT ERUPT, but finally did.  But we have also had some wonderful things happening to.  I don't want to complain too much because we have so much to be thankful for.  It is so hard for me to believe that sweet Susan Louise is already 8 months old!  Time has flown by.  Nine months of pregnancy creeped by, but now that she is here, time is going by too fast!  Below are all of the stats.

Weight:  Not sure, we think somewhere around 23 lbs.
Height:  Not sure, we think somewhere between 28 and 29 inches
Next appointment:  12/20 at 9 months and we will get all of her official numbers
Teeth:  FOUR (lower central incisors, upper central incisors aka her two front teeth)
New Foods:  carrots, asparagus (she loved it but made her a little gassy so we will bring it back later), cottage cheese.  Two servings at breakfast, two at lunch and three at dinner.  These are baby bullet servings, so one serving is about 2 oz. of food.  Next week we are trying white potato and watermelon!
Bottle:  4 times a day, about 6 or 7 oz per bottle.  We have started introducing the sippy cup, but she still has to work on tilt.  We are starting with Nuby but I have been researching other sippy cups.  One mom saw me looking in the aisle the other day and she said "Good luck.  We still haven't found a good one."  Her daughter looked about 2.  Ahh, new challenges! You know I will take suggestions.
Clothing12 months
Diaper Size:  4
Sleeping:  10 to 11 hours at night, two 1.5 hour naps during the day.  This is her sleep on the weekends, so basically 13 to 14 hours a day.  Still working on our daycare naps, although they are getting longer.
Favorite Toys:  Stacking cups, Herman, Sophie, Spring Roller, Fisher Price balls
Likes:  Crawling; pulling up; Itsy Bitsy Spider; Peek a boo; tickles; clapping; rolling the ball back and forth with us; watching us play with Oscar.
Dislikes:  She still gets bored and we have to shift gears once she lets us know that she is bored.  She HATES the snot sucker.  For my pregnant friends, keep the one they give you in the hospital, and try to snag a few extras.  We managed to snag three and they are pretty handy to have on every floor of the house and in the diaper bag.
Milestones:  On Monday, Oct. 29, she crawled over to our ottoman and pulled herself up.  She is such a little champ.  She hasn't had any trouble figure out how to get down once she pulls up.  She either gracefully turns to the side and gets back on her knees to a crawl position or just lets go and falls on her cushy bottom.  A few days later, she started clapping her hands.  Now she pulls up all the time and loves to clap.  She is babbling more, but more like "mumumu" and " a few "gugugu" or "gagaga."  No real discernible "mama" or "dada" yet but when we say it to her, she smiles so big like it is the best thing she has ever heard.  Her favorite sounds to make are "oh" and "ah."  It is adorable.

Eight months old and battling her first cold.  She is such a trooper!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dad: The Great Pumpkin

Growing up, my family didn’t carve pumpkins on Halloween. I remember painting a few (including an awesome Ninja Turtle pumpkin that I made my mom paint when I was probably about 6 years old), but I can’t ever recall watching anybody in my family murder and gut a pumpkin in the name of All Hallow’s Eve. Mary Jane’s family, however, carved a pumpkin every year, so we decided to make that our Halloween tradition with Susan.

The only problem was that I had approximately zero experience in pumpkin carving – other than the Jack O’ Lantern debacle of 2007, which is something that I’m still trying to move past. However, as a dad I'm supposed to have "Dad Skills" to make up for all the times I put Susan's pants on backwards, bump her head while playing airplane and let her watch football when she should instead be napping. Pumpkin carving is very much a dad skill, so the job of crafting the World’s Greatest Jack O’ Lantern fell squarely on my shoulders. Succeed, and I could proudly display my handiwork in photo albums for years to come. Susan would come to idolize me for my pumpkin-crafting skills, and one day she would brag to her husband how awesome her daddy was at carving pumpkins and that he would never ever be as good as me, no matter how hard he tried. Maybe the Louvre would call wanting to preserve my pumpkin for their next Fruit Art exhibit (is a pumpkin a fruit?). But if I failed and gave the pumpkin three eyes or a crooked smile or made it look like Sloth from The Goonies, then Susan’s first Halloween would be ruined and she’d see me as a disappointment as a father for the rest of her life. Or so go your thoughts as a first-time father when it comes to making something for your daughter.

Things didn’t start off well, because to carve a pumpkin you actually NEED a pumpkin to carve and that’s not something we just have stored away in the attic. “We’ll just get one a few days before Halloween,” we thought. “They may be a little picked over, and what’s left may have those weird white spots and a little plagiocephaly, but we’ll find one that works. It’ll be like adopting the ugly dog at the pound that nobody wants but later turns out to save your life after you’ve fallen down a well or gotten crushed under a monster truck tire.” The Cooks’ First Pumpkin: It would make for a great ABC Family original.

So two days before Halloween, we set out to the Pumpkin Headquarters that is Wal-Mart in search of our flawed-but-special pumpkin. Except when we got to Wal-Mart, all they had were those stupid gourds that stores try to pass off as funky, non-conformist, anti-establishment pumpkins that you find on the doorsteps of hipsters who feel the need to push back against the social restrictions placed on Halloween by “The Man”. Not even Gallagher wants those pumpkins. (I apologize if any of you reading this bought those gourds...I commend you for your non-conformity)

Even Gallagher isn't enough of a hipster to buy a gourd on Halloween.

Our next stop was Home Depot, which was another letdown since we were told that all of their pumpkins rotted. We said a prayer for the lost souls who would never get to fulfill their purpose of being carved and were instead tossed in the dumpster out back where the raccoons and possums would eat their sweet insides. At that point, Susan was getting tired and fussy so we decided to give up and try our best to avoid any future conversation about how we failed her as parents during her first Halloween. We went home thinking all was lost and that we both failed at giving her her first Jack O’ Lantern before dad even had a chance to screw up the carving.

It was bad. Until Mary saved the day.

It’s sad that I'm conditioned to think that if Wal-Mart doesn’t have something, then it’s likely that nobody else will. It was the day before Halloween; I had given up all hope and was even pondering buying a hippie gourd as a poor substitute. Then Mary, who realized at some point in the day that our forefathers never went to Wal-Mart for pumpkins but instead got theirs from a PUMPKIN PATCH, called me and said, “I GOT THE PUMPKIN! THREE OF THEM!!!” Then she went on about some project where we carve out the other two pumpkins and put flowers in it or something – I’m honestly not really sure, because my mind was already locked in on the perfect plan of attack for making Susan’s first Jack O’ Lantern the best she would ever see. It would need triangle eyes, a big open grin and three teeth – exactly three teeth, no more, no less.

When I got home to see the pumpkins, they were all magnificent, but it was clear which one would sacrifice it’s rind and innards to become Susan’s first pumpkin. It was huge and round and orange and had the perfect surface to carve out a face. Linus would have shat his pants had he seen this thing. 

We set out newspapers in the garage and put Susan on the floor. Mary sat in a chair, keeping Susan at a safe distance so as not to disturb me from my work. I doubt Leonardo Da Vinci had to constantly keep a handsy baby at bay when he painted the Mona Lisa, so I consider myself an even bigger success than he was that I was able to do this with Susan trying to “help.”

I started to draw the outline of the face in permanent marker, but Mary subtly suggested that I use a case I “changed my mind” about what I wanted it to look like (in wife-speak, meaning if I mucked it up). I took her suggestion and started to trace, but I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted it to look like. I needed something to model it after, something that has a few teeth and smiles all the time. The dog? Too many teeth. Mary? Telling her that her face was the perfect model for our pumpkin didn’t seem in my best interest. Susan?


Using the pencil, I traced the outline and used two knives (one of which was a nice steak knife that I didn’t get permission to use...sorry Mary) to carve the eyes, which popped out in two perfect triangles. I tried to show Susan how GREAT of a job her daddy was doing, but she was too busy stuffing newspaper into her mouth to care. The pumpkin’s mouth was next, and while it took me about 15 minutes to cut it out, it turned out perfect. I showed Susan, she tried to claw out the eyes, and I took that as her way of saying, “OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE GREATEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN THANK YOU DAD YOU ARE THE GREATEST FATHER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD AND I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS.” And I was pretty pleased with myself.

Greatest Jack O' Lantern she has ever seen.
I proudly placed the pumpkin on our doorstep where something like 80 trick-or-treaters saw it that night. Now we have this awesome picture to put in our photo album and a great memory from Susan’s first Halloween. Also I’m not a disappointment as a father, and most importantly, I didn't have to write a blog about "The Halloween when Daddy lost a finger."