30 July 2005

Chicken Run

I'm just back from my semi-annual "Chicken Run". It's a 8-9 hour round-trip drive to Eberly Poultry, across the treacherous PA turnpike. More about just how treacherous if you keep reading.

Two of the dogs, Chewy and Penguin, eat a raw meaty bone diet. They can't have processed grains so this diet works very well for them. Piper does just fine on regular old dog food (well, I remember a day when Eukanuba was "exotic" but not anymore) so that's what she gets, though I do slip her some of "the good stuff" just about every day.

I always seem to pick a hot day for the summer trip. I have to decide early in the week since the order must be called in so I don't worry too much about the weather since I can't do anything about it. Think for just a minute about 200-300 pounds of poultry and ninety degree temperatures, on the highway for 4-5 hours. Though I crank the A/C until I'm shivering, I still know I've got poultry in the car. And CD knows it's been there for a week or so afterwards. Not his favorite thing. So I've sprayed the febreeze twice already, and the car sits in the garage with all the windows down. If that doesn't work, I dump baking soda all over the cargo area and hope for the best.

Today brought a couple of complications to the Chicken Run. I had to pump once in each direction since I left what I pumped yesterday for Oliver to have today. Ordinarily Friday's milk is saved for Monday. My pump has batteries so I really can do it anywhere, even the restroom at turnpike rest areas. The return trip pumping session was a bit abbreviated, as there was no shade at all at the Midway rest area and my car's thermometer said 92. Fortunately, the restroom was so busy, I don't think anyone heard my pump. If they did, I can't imagine what they thought I was doing.

The second complication came shortly after leaving Midway, when traffic went from 80 to 0 in very short order. We were at a complete stop for about 10 minutes, then we moved at about 5-10 mph for half an hour or so. Finally, just before the Allegheny Mountain tunnel, was a horrible looking accident. There were at least 6 fire trucks present, and a helicopter getting ready to transport injured. I lost count of the other emergency vehicles. It looked there were about 50 emergency workers. It had to have been horrible. I decided I was glad I stopped to pump at Midway. It's impossible to know, but pumping may have saved me from being involved.

What's so great about this place that I risk life and limb on the turnpike? Great prices (they would have to be, given the price of a gallon of gas) and phenomenal quality, for starters. Nice employees who don't make fun of me for driving all that way for my dogs helps too. Today they shovelled ice into my boxes. In January, when I was very pregnant, one of the guys loaded my car for me.

There was some disappointment today. No cornish hens and no turkey necks. The hens are greater loss, since the dogs share those with the humans in the house. We throw them on the grill. Yum! All I managed was chicken backs for the pups, eggs, sausage and bacon for the humans. The big freezer, aka the dog freezer, is not even half full. It looks like there could be three trips to Eberly this year, though I'm going to try and tag onto a trip someone else is making in September.

Oliver and his father seem to have done just fine without me. I really just provide the food.

28 July 2005

that zerbert will get you 20

DaddyTypes is one of my favorite blogs. I started reading it when I was pregnant and got hooked. Can't break the habit. While many posts are about baby gear and design, as well as where to find a changing table in a Manhattan men's room, there are some posts that can only be called "News of the Wierd." Today there's a post about a father who was imprisoned for 6 months on sex charges after being turned in by the drug store photo developer who spotted a photo of him kissing his son on the bellybutton. If this isn't an argument for digital photography, I don't know what is.

And what does this say about this poor guy's lawyer?

26 July 2005

Prescription for a nervous mother

At our three-month doctor visit, I asked The Doc what he could tell me about the relationship between preauricular ear tags, like what we had removed from Oliver, and congenital kidney defects. He looked perplexed to say the least. I mentioned that I heard about this from a friend and he did his best not to roll his eyes. Then I said I did a bit of poking around on the internet and he couldn't help himself.

Not surprisingly, my search uncovered conflicting information. One study that says there's a link. Another says probably not. The Doc wrote a script for an ultrasound, while telling me that if no problems showed up on my 20 week u/s, odds are excellent there's nothing to worry about. Clearly he was treating my anxiety, and maybe looking to satisfy his own curiosity. We'll find out for sure on Thursday morning.

24 July 2005

Give me a kid to build a team on

And my imagination....(with apologies to Louis Armstrong). So the Pittsburgh Penguins won the draft lottery this week. Couple that with the announced drop in ticket prices and it's enough to make a girl positively giddy. While I doubt Oliver will share his mother's childhood fascination with hockey, I look forward to taking him to a game or two.

And before you ask, Penguin was not named for the local hockey team, nor was Piper named for the Pittsburgh Pipers or Piper's Pub. Awfully tempting to see if that would get us a free beer though. After Oliver is weaned, perhaps. Brewer's yeast may be good for the milk supply but alcohol is not.

22 July 2005

102 Days

For those of you keeping score at home, Oliver is 102 days old. I'd planned a 100 day post, but life, counting ballots for the CSCA, and orientation with the new daycare got in the way. Our old friend, sleep deprivation, is also continuing to hang around, serving as my catch-all excuse. Anyone who has children seems to understand. In this case, I'm so sleep deprived that I forgot the 100 day mark passed. It seemed like such a good idea on Monday when I was updating Oliver's weight chart.

So to rescue the great idea that was circling the drain, here's the 100 day post, 2 days late:

Oliver does a lot more stuff than he did on day 1. He's interested in toys now. He grabs my sleeve during diaper changes and won't let go. He can turn himself 180 degrees in his crib. He rolls onto his side. He smiles and laughs and babbles.

Stuff he does about the same as on day 1: screaming when hungry

Stuff he does less now than on day 1: sleeping

In spite of his reluctance to sleep, he's the best thing. Ever.

19 July 2005


Oliver has decided he doesn't want to sleep. Ever. Napping over the weekend was nearly non-existent, and when he did nap is was oh-so briefly. The folks at daycare claim he is their best napper. HA!!! The lack of naps sends us into a downward spiral sleep deprivation. When Oliver naps well he also sleeps well at night. When he doesn't, we all suffer mightily.

It does seem like Oliver thrives on the weekday routine and weekends really throw him for a loop. He gets this from his father, of "two pieces of toast, burnt, butter on both, marmalade on one, consume, repeat" fame. Apparently two full days with both his parents is too much for the little guy.

For a few nights now I've been having a problem putting Oliver in his crib. Typically he would nurse a good long time, often twice as long as his standard nursing session, burp, rock a few minutes, then be put in his crib. He would either be completely out, or nearly so, such that he might open his eyes for half a second but immediately close him and go to sleep for 3-4 hours. I must have lost my touch because now he is wailing before I can even turn around and very much awake. No matter how soundly I get him to sleep before setting him down, or how gently I set him down, he wakes up. CD has a magic touch but even he has struggled lately.

Those 4 or 4.5 hour stretches of sleep are also a thing of the past. He's back to being up every three hours. I know this will pass. I just hope it is soon, for the sake of all who have to deal with my sleep-deprived grumpiness.

17 July 2005

Not like Martha

No, we're not talking about housekeeping skills today, but rather Oliver's new "ankle bracelet". He is sporting an ActiWatch on his left ankle for seven days, as part of a research study. A few people have spotted the device and asked about it. I tell them he's under house arrest for insider trading. Once again, the daycare folks think we're a little nutty.

We took the new stroller for a spin yesterday, introducing him to the wonders of the Post Office, Penzey's and Bagel Factory. The stroller makes Oliver look small again but he seems to like it. Mum liked the pricetag best of all but it's not bad. I wish the handles were height adjustable but it is otherwise very nice. We added a very spiffy sun shade, which we needed more for rain than sun yesterday, with the downpours coming frequently, yet not cooling things off a bit.

It's clear from the dearth of pictures on this blog that Oliver's mum needs her own digital camera. CD's is too complicated for my little brain and the pictures I do manage to take never make it to my computer anyway. I'm looking at the Canon elph models. I want tiny and easy and Canon. Any suggestions?

15 July 2005

Stuff we love, volume 2

Two things we love today and two pictures. First, Oliver's shades from Hanna Andersson. It doesn't get much cuter than this. They may not always stay on his face, but I love them anyway. Photo taken by Otto Wahl back in May at the CSCA National Specialty.

The second thing is the Baby Bjorn, purchased with a gift certificate from our good friends Mark and Mary. Oliver is getting close to facing front in the Bjorn. In his early days, it was a favorite place to snooze. This time the photo is from Tim Haggerty.

Thank you to both guest photographers!

13 July 2005

Pump It Up

After a rocky start, I have finally hit my stride with the milk pumping. I'm down to pumping twice a day at work, instead of three times, and I'm getting more milk than ever. I've had two 11 ounce days already and it's only Wednesday. [Note: Medela bottles and Dr Brown bottles do not seem to agree on how to measure an ounce. 11 ounces in Medela bottles consistently turns into 10 ounces when transferred to Dr Brown bottles. What gives?]

This is probably due to a few factors:

More Herbs: 3 capsules each of Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle, three times a day
More Time between pumping sessions: 4 hours between feeding and pumping seems to be optimal
More Relaxed: I made an effort to stop worrying about the whole thing.

Being more relaxed is the result of having a larger milk stash in the freezer, and knowing I have kept Oliver alive for three months. He seems to like me. That first smile of the morning is worth every bit of sleep I have missed.

11 July 2005

Three Month Growth Spurt - just kidding

Weigh-in revealed all the hype surrounding the three month growth spurt is a lot of hoo-ha. Oliver only gained 5 ounces. Well within the acceptable range, but a bit disappointing for me. I was sure we were looking at 8 ounces, at least. It's a lot like when I am positive I smell poo and undress the kid, only to find a perfectly pristine diaper. Oliver frequently teases his Mum in this manner.

While we're on the subject of poo, Oliver went "on strike" last week. He does this occasionally and our doc has said it is nothing to worry about, but that doesn't make me feel better. I'm not sure which is worse, the repeated opening of a clean diaper when I'm sure it will contain poo or the aftermath of a few days with a virtual cork in the kid's bum.

So we had no poo from Wednesday morning until Saturday morning. Saturday's "production" was on the light side of normal. Sunday was pretty average. I foolishly thought we might be out of the woods. Today....whoa nellie! Be very glad there are no pictures.

Happy three month birthday to Oliver. Happy three month nursiversary to both of us!

09 July 2005

The Penguin knows all

Penguin was the only dog who knew I was pregnant. Her behaviors changed very soon after we knew a baby was on the way. Most notably, she started pawing at me while sitting on the sofa, but there were lots of other little things I noticed. She's a worrier and she spent a good eight months worrying right along with me. 2 dogs oblivious - 1 who knows too much.

We were very nearly older, first-time moms together. We bred her in early August last year, but she did not concieve. This is pretty common in Clumbers. Timing has to be just right and it's hard to pinpoint, in spite of a number of pretty pricey progesterone tests.

Pen has been very bonded to me, almost since the day I brought her home. She has extended this bond to Oliver, trying to protect him from Piper, "washing" his head, camping out by the nursery during feedings. She clearly recognizes his spot in our pack and has been tolerant of the many changes taking place in the household. As the designated "good girl" in the house, I expect nothing less.

07 July 2005

Seeing yellow in July

If it's July, our TV must be tuned to OLN and the Tour de France. It's a nice change of pace and all we miss are repeats anyway. I must admit I'm having trouble staying awake to the end each night. This is a new post-baby problem. Fortunately, I can keep up with what is happening live during the day, and if the end is worth watching, try to stay up.

The helicopter views of the French countryside are spectacular. It's worth watching just for that, even if you are not a cycling fan.

This year's winner for silliest team name is "Liquigas", which Phil Liggett pronounces as "Leaky Gas." Not a nice problem to have while on a bike.

Please don't call us between 8 and 11pm until after July 24. We probably won't answer anyway.

Oliver Van Gogh

The mystery of Oliver's ear is solved. The steri-strip came off this morning, mostly on its own. I can feel the tiny scar more than I can see it. Not sure if that says more about my need to visit the opthamologist or the skill of the surgeon, but in any event, I could not be more pleased with the outcome. This is yet another post that should come with a picture or two, perhaps before and after shots. We'll work on that soon.

For those wondering how Oliver's relatives across the pond are doing, we assume all is well and no news is good news. He has an uncle who commutes to London but the rest of the family is outside the city. I suspect the London Oliver visits will be very different from the city I came to know and love during my trips there with CD the last few years.

06 July 2005

Stuff we love, volume 1

I'm planning to do a product review or two (or more if companies want to send me free stuff to review), starting with the baby stuff we have and can't imagine living without.

At the moment, our favorite baby-amusement device is the Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Bouncer. Oliver did not start out a fan, but he thinks it's pretty fab now. Even though the green light in the toybar didn't come on, he didn't mind a bit. (Kudos to Fisher-Price customer service for dispatching a replacement quickly and at no charge.) Now with a fully-functional toybar, it really is the bee's knees. Oliver is mesmerized by the spinning starfish.

The fact that he's at nose-level with the dogs is a feature or a bug, depending on whether you are a dog or a parent attempting to keep your child relatively free of dog-spit.

I especially like the bouncer when I'm on my own and in desperate need of a shower (and want to avoid the aformentioned dog spit problem). The bouncer is easily carried around the house, even into the bathroom. Please, no complaints about the use of a "baby bucket"! Sometimes it is necessary to combat mommy-stench.

Thanks go to Nikki and Jason for a great gift. They are experts on how to survive the early months of parenthood, after the crash course they got last year with twins!

05 July 2005

Survivor Guilt

BFAR, or breast feeding after reduction, is going extremely well for Oliver and me. Sometimes I think I did so much research that I willed this to happen, but more the more likely scenario is I just got lucky. Most BFAR moms, based on what I see on the message boards, supply less than 100% of their child's nutrition. Some supply really small amounts. They supplement in various ways. Though Oliver has received a few ounces of formula during his 12 week lifetime, it's not a regular thing and probably only totals about 16 ounces. In no way does that make me a success and them a failure. Any breastmilk is a good thing for baby and there's a lot more to breastfeeding than nutrition.

Oliver isn't a michelin-man baby, but he's not underweight and continues gaining at a solid rate. I don't produce the volume of milk an "intact" mom would, but what I make appears to be enough. Still, I feel like a freak for being BFAR with a full supply. I'm staying away from the BFAR fora. I don't think I have anything to contribute since so many women are struggling and I am, by comparison, experiencing smooth sailing.

To make things "worse," Oliver shows no sensitivities to what I eat. Other women have to give up dairy, chocolate, citrus, onions, other vegetables, wheat, etc., in order to feed their babies. I'm staying away from caffeine (other than what is in chocolate) and alcohol, but nothing else. During some of the especially fussy early days I did try giving up milk, but it made no difference.

On a different breastfeeding topic, I should be pumping up a storm today. After the three-day-weekend of nursing like crazy, possibly in preparation for the 3 month growth spurt, and Oliver getting no bottles, pumping should be going better than ever. Alas, I'm down half an ounce from what I usually get in the morning and in a state of mild panic over it. Perhaps I should go back and re-read that first paragraph. It's all relative.

04 July 2005

Mummy's country beat up Daddy's country

Oliver is 12 weeks old today, high time he deal with some citizenship issues. We have gathered the forms to register him with the Home Office in London as a British Citizen. The instructions, though written in English, baffle me. Two countries ... separated by a common language. Sometimes I think we should just get him the union jack Robeez and call it good. I'm not sure the ability to go through the EU-passports-only line with dad when travelling within Europe is really worth the trouble. His mum will still be stuck in the line for everyone else.

At least Oliver will not be forced to choose a country when he turns 18. The US government has decided the "special relationship" that exists with the UK warrants permanent dual citizenship. Clearly, a few things have changed since 1776.

To learn more about the crazy things our former combatants across the pond like to say, check out this site. I can't say it helped me translate CD all that well, but it's a fun read nonetheless.

03 July 2005

the obligatory post about poop

Although every baby blog seems to have one of these, mine is about the dogs. Penguin and Chewy have a mild case of the squirts. I'm guessing it's mild...CD cleaned them up himself without calling for reinforcements.

I really should know better than to give them tripe two days in a row.

7 days, 6 ounces

It's weekly weigh-in day for Oliver, now that we are not weighing him daily. The moment of truth: he's gained 6 ounces and in my head I do a little happy dance. Not that I'm tying my self-esteem to his weight or anything....

He does seem to be closing in on the 3 month growth spurt I keep reading about. He would like to nurse about every 2 hours and evenings are turning into marathon cluster feeds, with almost constant nursing for over an hour before he will fall asleep. I keep expecting to look down and see shriveled up, prune-like appendages on my chest.

The steri-strip on Oliver's ear is showing no signs of wanting to fall off, despite this being The Day the surgeon said it would. The suspense is killing me.

02 July 2005

Professor Chewy

On the occasion of Chewy's 11th birthday, I posted the following to Clumber-L on June 9:

Chewy has lived with me for nearly 8 years and as an ambassador for the breed, he is second to none. Life before Clumbers? I don't remember.... Chewy started me on a path that has included wonderful dogs, great people and unforgettable experiences.

He's not moving terribly fast unless a meal is involved, his hearing is mostly gone unless you're rattling the cookie jar, and I think his sight is starting to fail him but he still thinks every meal is cause for celebration and a potential belly rub is reason enough to get up from his bed to greet a stranger.

Happy Birthday Mr Chew!!! Ch Cameo's Charleston Chew CW TD CGC

You can learn a lot from a dog.

01 July 2005

Lousy Lamb

Oliver's room at daycare is known as "Lovey Lambs". This is a tale of entirely different lamb.

I started feeling really horrible about 2am. I fed Oliver, popped a handful of advil, and headed for the guestroom. My fever broke eventually but every joint continued to ache a while longer. The tummy and parts further south continued complaining. I could not sit up to feed Oliver for his 4:45 feeding. I felt a bit better when I got up, and I did go to work, but it all came back around 4pm, when I was getting Oliver from daycare. Total relapse.

This is what I get for saying nice things about our favorite food delivery service, Wheel Deliver. I was quoted in one of the local papers (the one I refuse to read because of its illustrious owner) saying we wouldn't look at houses that were outside their delivery area.

Last night we decided to try one of their newly-added restaurants, an Indian place. The lamb biryani did me in. They also messed up CD's order and had to go back to the restaurant to make it right. Looks like we should check out the competition after all.

Cereal for dinner....bed by 9pm. Oliver, if you're listening, please sleep a while.