Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day in Yosemite

Joan and Gary (and Primo and Fratello, of course) stopped in Yosemite as part of a two-week driving trip of the American West. We California kids couldn't miss the chance to see them, especially as they'd rented a beautiful and large house in Wawona for all of us, so Kristin, Graham, Fern, Ken, and Jewel made the trip into the Sierra with our girl! Although we were a little nervous about the road trip, F.E. did great; one or the other of us would occasionally sit in back with her, but mostly she slept or played to herself, and we all enjoyed our rest stops.

As many of you know, Gary's quite a photographer, who's contributed many photos of Fern to her blog. In Yosemite, Gary got some beautiful frames of majestic natural splendor (click on the photo of Yosemite Falls from Glacier Peak at left for a sample of what I'm talking about). He's terrific at portraiture, too; check out this fun series from the cabin's porch. (There are quite a few more photos than I could fit on this page; click here for a larger selection!)

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

cast progress

The girl's got will!

Many people have asked us about the progress of Fern's serial casting (click here for the start of this story, if you missed it). The podiatrist believes that she'll be through the treatments by the first or second week of July, but a lot depends on F.E. herself, now... You see, she's gotten pretty willful about the casting experience, and the more she struggles and kicks, the less likely the casts are to stay on her feet for the entire week.

Here's the progression. First, she'll have the casts put on by one of the techs, as in the first picture at left. As Masi the tech concentrates on Fern's right foot, you can see Fern herself concentrating nearly as much on wiggling her feet to create a gap for a future escape. In the photo at right, you'll notice both casts still on. Fern, by the way, is modeling pantinis that were a gift from Joan's little friend Madeline.

Then, usually within a day or two (and sometimes that very evening), Fern will happily work her way out of one of the casts. This very appropriate sea-star outfit was a present from Kristin's friend Elisa, and shows the sole remaining cast (hee, hee).

Finally, Fern often kicks that second cast off, too. In that case, we're back to the cast room again! Not surprisingly, they're getting to know us pretty well down there these days.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

first mother's day celebrations

OK, I know I'm still behind, but I'm catching up bit by bit!

Among the many fringe benefits of parenting is getting to celebrate mother's and father's day as the honored, not just the honorer. Between the cruelly elided President's Day (how rude to Messrs. Washington and Lincoln, not to mention gazillions of school kids!) and the beginning of summer vacation there are four months I remember as the holiday doldrums. Apart from the Easter break, we had to all that time celebrating just our parents! With time, of course, we came to like that arrangement, all the more so now that we get some of the honors! Kristin's first Mother's Day came with many cards, calls, and thoughts from friends and family. Locally, she was honored by a number of gatherings, as well.

First off, Jewel made a tasty brunch on Mother's Day itself, which we ate outside on Ken & Jewel's beautiful patio. Fern really seemed to enjoy the sunny day. We've been advised that she should be exposed to sunlight often, but indirect sunlight only. As you can see, the courtyard here at K & J's is perfect! (Sadly, Jewel was so busy preparing and serving our fantastic meal that we didn't get a chance to pose her with Fern! We'll have to make up for that soon.

The next week, Deb and Erica came over; we'd been missing them during their fantastic trip to Africa! On a whim, instead of going out we decided to cook in, and jointly put together a fun stir-fry. Everyone (well, Fern excepted) participated in at least some way, with a chop or a mix or a stir or a fry, and all agreed it was a great way to celebrate in a relaxed way.

Sandra and Jessica came over and took Kristin out for a special celebration down at The Metro, with Graham helping by staying home with Fern. Before the party, of course, they needed to get some time in with the girl, who unfortunately was close to her bedtime and so not the cheeriest company. But, groggy and all, she was still the belle of the ball!

And capping a wonderful week of mother's day celebration, Graham's mom visited for some multiple-mother symmetry. Fern and Graham both gave their moms "digital picture frames" (click here if you have no idea what I'm talking about!) which slowly cycle through our photo albums. Now they can look up from work and be greeted a new random image of a smiling F.E. every minute! In return, Linda gave Fern all sorts of things, not the least of which was a nice place to sleep and some loving attention...

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

dad on the job

First of all, I have to apologize for the long blog drought. As many have guessed, I found myself overwhelmed by the new job of stay-at-home-daddying. (Not least of my worries undertaking this new position is the thorny issue of what I want to be called --- stay-at-home-dad is not it --- but I'll have to leave that question for another post.)

At left, you can see that what finally brought me back to the computer was Fern herself. She was feeling bad for having been out of touch for so long with our far-flung friends and relations, so she took matters into her own hands! So. Off we go...

The weekend before Kristin went back to work, we took Fern to the zoo. It seemed appropriate, for we've gone there several times as part of the process of becoming parents. Fern wasn't too terribly excited by any of the animals, although she did notice the flamingos, and I'm certain (though Kristin doubts it) that she smelled these penguins. I mean, look at that expression -- it's identical to the one she gives me when I come home smelling fishy from the seal hospital!

So then it was back to work for Kristin. She's working three days at her office and two half-days at home for a total of 80% time. That's allowed us a lot of transition time, which is fantastic. For her days at work, I've set up a webcam in Fern's room that she can log in to and watch; we also call and IM pretty frequently. The contact is just barely sufficient, but we feel lucky to have as much. Kristin, I'm sure, will want to weigh in on how this has all been for her, but let me describe a little of what my days are like.

Fern's become a champion at feeding from a bottle. This, I think, was one of my greatest fears: that F.E. (our new nickname for her) wouldn't be happy with milk from a bottle, or would spit up excessively, or would reject anything but the tiniest range of temperatures. Far from it: she's taking bottles regularly now, as long as they're roughly room temperature, and although she doesn't start off well sometimes, she's generally got the idea and accepted it. One huge burden off my mind.

So, on an average day, I wake up when Kristin finishes the 7-ish feed and hang out with the baby for a while. She typically doesn't stay awake much longer than the morning feed, and goes down again for an hour or so, which gives me some nice time to straighten up, make coffee, get myself going a little bit (or finish sleeping, as the case may be: I'm a bit of a night owl). Following the advice of the "Baby Whisperer," I'm roughly thinking of the day in cycles that each last from between two and four hours. My goal is to include in each cycle at least a little sleep, a feed, and some form of activity. (I hasten to point out that I'm not regimenting or scheduling these cycles in any way; it's more just a way of making sure all the needs are covered.

The choice of activity depends quite a bit on F.E.'s energy level: we might take a walk to the playground, if she's up for it, or just exercise in her boat (pictured below), or some tummy time for exercise. We've even taken to singing together: we hold concerts for Carson (the cat) to which she pays rapt attention. Add to that the challenges of timing feeds when the milk needs to be measured and warmed, changing diapers, and trying to keep the house more or less in order, and our days are nothing if not full.

I won't kid anyone that's it's not a challenge, because it is: sometimes I feel helpless and outmatched, not to mention just plain tired. But, all in all, I think I've got the good end of this bargain: I get to hang out with this incredible growing being, watching her learn and think and, really, just watching her sleep is a treat beyond words.

I've long since trampled the soul of wit with this entry, I suppose partly to make up for my long absence and also to mirror the enormity of this adventure we're embarking on. I'll sign off with this photo of Fern in her boat (a gift from Ken & Jewel), which is one of my favorites, although it's not the smilingest. This was from one of our first days at home alone, and F.E. was pretty new to the boat, too. We'd been having a conversation of sorts, and she just turned away and sat back, still thinking (you can tell by the way she's curling her hands), almost pensive. She's discovered something here: I don't know what, exactly, but the best part of being with Fern will be finding out.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Emma and Fern meet again!

Emma & Fern (with a little bit of Ann in the background) seem to be (?) enjoying a beautiful day at Lake Merritt!

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