December 31, 2004 - July 27, 2005


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Life with Drew

I've been doing the social thing this week with Drew. We've seen my sister Kristen, and friends Monica and Christi. I even brought Drew into Brenda's work. I have more visits scheduled through Friday. If there's one thing I learned about spending time with a baby, you've got to take him or her out on a daily basis. Even if it's just going to Safeway to shop for milk.

Christi also has a new baby, so it's been fun to hang out and talk about baby stuff. I told her it's called "the parent club." People always seem to talk to you when you have a baby with you. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing.

Goodbye Joe's on Roosevelt

Tonight, my family went to dinner at Joe's on Roosevelt. We didn't find out until after we sat down that the restaurant has new owners. Too bad, because everything about the meal tonight was awful. Joe's used to be a great family restaurant, but they've discontinued the children's menu, although they'll still make a few things. Cam had his heart set on macaroni, but he got pasta and butter.

It didn't stop there. It took over 30 minutes to get our food, and when we did get it some of it was cold. (Brenda said she could see her chicken quesadilla sitting out for 10 minutes, since we were sitting by the kitchen.) Brenda's margarita was bitter. The meatloaf sandwich I got was boring (white bread, ketchup taste). Cameron didn't really care.

Well, a manager of mine once told me, "vote with your feet," so we won't be going to Joe's anymore. I'm always surprised when people ruin a good thing, but it's just part of the way the world works.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Drew hits the target

Well, Drew finally peed on me the other day. Twice. When he stopped peeing the first time (blocked by my hand), he started laughing. What a little stinker.

I was feeling so confident with my diaper technique (I put the new one underneath the old one and put it on quickly), but I knew it was a only a matter of time before the little sniper got me.

The other thing I've noticed is he likes to have his hands washed. When I'm done changing him, I just wash his hands with a baby wipe, and he laughs. Now I just wash his hands whether he needs it or not just to hear him giggle.

He took an hour nap today, which is unheard of for him. Usually it's 15-30 minutes max. I wish he'd do this every day.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Back in Seattle

Yesterday, I had one of the longest drives of my life over SR-20 back to Seattle. It was only 215 miles, but it felt like twice that. Drew cried most of the way back, while Cameron watched "Spirit" on his DVD player. If you ever want to shatter your nerves, drive with a crying baby for 5 hours.


I'm doing better today.

Cameron and Petunia

Before we left Sun Mountain, Cameron rode a horse named Petunia down at the stable. This is the reason he wanted to watch "Spirit" two or three times.

We had a few milestones while we were at Sun Mountain:

Cameron milestone: Cameron learned how to put his head underwater. I don't think I've ever seen him so excited. He woke up on Saturday and said, "I want to go put my face underwater!"

Drew milestone: He's now rolling over. He's not quite to the point of rolling around the room, but he's becoming dangerous when you place him on beds our couches.

Friday, July 15, 2005 - Afternoon

Winthrop, WA - Smokejumper Base

Today, I took Cameron, Drew, and a 10-year-old girl Rachael (the daughter of someone Brenda works with) to the North Cascades Smokejumper Base. Two other people we'd met at Brenda's retreat, Susie and her 9-year-old daughter Rachael (yes, two Rachaels), followed us in their car.

Smokejumper Nan and kids

If you go to the North Cascades Smokejumper Base, you can request a tour by a real, live smokejumper. This time, we got a woman smokejumper, named Nan, which was great for the girls. Nan gave us the grand tour, lasting about 1-1/2 hours. She even showed us the barracks and the fish pond, which I'd never seen in the previous two tours I'd gone on.

Smokejumper ParaloftIf you're not familiar with smoke jumping, it's one of the fire fighting resources the Forest Service uses to combat fires that start in remote areas (usually by lightning). The smoke jumpers parachute out of an airplane and then fight the fire by digging around it so it doesn't spread.

The base in Winthrop is where smoke jumping began in 1939. Interestingly, during that first test the military also observed and saw how they could turn soldiers into paratroopers.

After our exhaustive tour, we went to lunch in Winthrop, and then ate ice cream. By the time we left, a light rain began to fall, which would last all afternoon.

Fortunately, the Rachael who was with us ended up helping me out with Drew, pushing his stroller, putting him in his car seat, holding him, and feeding him.

Friday, July 15, 2005 - Morning

Winthrop, WA - Blowout at breakfast

: If you don't like to read about babies and their extraordinary gastrointestinal abilities, you may not want to read this Blog entry.

I took Cameron and Drew to breakfast at Sun Mountain lodge this morning. I brought Drew's new "Bumbo" baby chair, so he could sit in a seat. Everything was going great...

When my breakfast of apple pancakes came, I put Drew back in his chair. I noticed that he was grunting and groaning, so figured he was taking a bowel movement. After his BM, he started crying, so I picked him up and put him on my knee.

Unfortunately, I didn't notice that he'd had an explosive poop. (Later I would find that hardly any of it made it in the diaper.) Now it was on my white shorts. It was in his seat. When I picked him up to clean him off, some of it went on the tablecloth (I know, gross). He had it on his legs, his hands, everywhere. I cleaned off his hands, since he enjoys sucking on his fingers so much.

I did what any good dad would do. I put him back in the "Bumbo" chair and ran out of the restaurant. I didn't even ask Cameron if he wanted to come. I just told the wait staff to look after him. On the way out, people's stares told me how embarrassing the situation looked.

I took Drew up to the room and placed him in the bathtub. Afterward, Drew was happy to be clean and dry. I was sweating, even with the air conditioning turned way up. Throughout the washing and drying, I kept saying to Drew in my best announcer's voice, "We have a level-4 emergency. A level-4 emergency has occurred. We are currently in cleanup mode." Drew smiled.

When I went back to the restaurant, a woman from Brenda's retreat was drawing pictures for Cameron. I guess he got a little worried after five minutes had passed and Dad didn't return.

This is one of the dictums of having a baby: Accept the kindness of strangers.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Winthrop, WA

Brenda has a retreat in Winthrop, Washington, so we're staying at Sun Mountain Lodge, about 11 miles outside Winthrop. It took us over six hours to drive here from Seattle. We stopped three times to feed Drew, and we got stuck for 30 minutes on State Route 20 in Marblemount because road crews were fixing a rockslide that happened two years ago.


If you've never been to Sun Mountain, here's the view, looking west toward the Cascade foothills:

View from Sun Mountain Lodge

This morning, Cameron and I went down to the back lawn at Sun Mountain and saw a deer eating right there. In the picture below, I didn't use my zoom at all.

Deer at Sun Mountain Lodge

Unfortunately, in the afternoon Brenda and I had upset stomachs and had to take some Imodium. There's nothing like looking for a bathroom in the middle of Winthrop. We were better by evening.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Seeing the Dr. with the kids

I had to take Cameron and Drew in for checkups at the doctor today. Everything went well, until we had to get some blood work done.

Cameron did great. They took a vial of blood from his arm. When it came to Drew, I got a person who didn't know how to draw blood from babies. After about 30 minutes, and about four or five drops of blood, we were done. They'd poked my kid enough times in the finger. Drew was so stressed, he just fell asleep during the last blood draw.

We skipped the immunizations. (I'm saving that adventure for another day.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Travels with Cameron and Drew

We're back from a long trip with our sons, Cameron and Drew. We started in Lake Chelan, in Eastern Washington (my wife had a conference there) and stayed at Campbell's Resort.

Campbell's at Lake Chelan

Cam, Drew, and I hung out for a few days together, and Brenda joined us when she could. We ate a lot of food. I rediscovered that Campbell's serves one of the best breakfasts in Washington. They make some amazing pancakes there. The great this is I never had to order them, 'cause Cameron did―and I just ate some of his. Drew usually sat peacefully in his car seat sucking on a pacifier and soaking up all the attention from the wait staff. Sometimes he even slept, although it was never more than 15-20 minutes at a stretch.

During our stay, Cameron and I took out a Jet Ski on the lake (yes, we left Drew with Brenda). It was my first time out on one of these waterbikes, and I have to admit it was pretty incredible jumping over the waves at 35 mph. Cameron finally realized it was a little scary being in the middle of the lake. He kept asking if there were sharks.

Cameron, Camille, and SteveCam also went fishing with his new friend Camille, and her grandpa, and of course went swimming with mom and dad.

I also got a chance to take in a movie at The Ruby theater. I watched Spielberg's latest, "War of the Worlds." Pretty frightening film, actually.

After Chelan, we drove through a sun-scorched landscape to visit my parents in the Tri-Cities. We stopped a few times to feed and change Drew. The second stop, we pulled into a camp area on the Columbia River that had porta-potties. I ended up talking to a husband and wife who were motorcycling their way to Leavenworth on Harleys. It's a good thing I ended up talking to them, because they didn't know where they were going.

The Tri-Cities was hot, as usual. It usually hits 100 every day. My parents have a pool, and my dad just put in a new solar heater that works beautifully. After years of enduring 75-degree water, it was usually 80 to 85-degrees Fahrenheit. Like a bathtub.

Brenda, Drew, and CamWe took Drew for his first swim in the pool, and Cameron learned to put his face in the water. Cameron also spent a fair amount of time on an air mattress.

While there, we also saw Cam and Drew's Great Grandmothers, visited with my friend Dan and his fiancée Kim, and had breakfast at my Aunt Suzie's restaurant, The Green Gage Plum (another great Washington breakfast place).

It was a nice start to summer.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Midnight crash

A terrible crash woke us up around midnight. I remember hearing a car engine screaming outside, along with two or three distinct metal-on-metal crashes. Brenda and I sat up in bed.


"What the hell was that?" I said, completely awake.

"Go outside and see if they hit our car!"

I went outside and heard people talking up the street. I heard things like, "Are you OK?" A man walked by, and I asked him what happened.

"Some guy is drunker than a skunk... he crashed up the street. You have to see it to believe it. But put on some shoes first, because there's glass everywhere."

Picture of truck crashed into house

I put on my shoes and walked up to the house a few doors away. A truck had jumped the sidewalk, drove into the front yard of the house, and then crashed into the porch.

"Where's the driver?" I asked one of my neighbors.

"He took off."

It seemed surreal. A hit-and-run driver running on foot.

I loaned my camera to my neighbors, since they didn't have a digital. I also shot some video, although it was very dark. The police finally showed up, along with firefighters. And then the tow truck. Everyone sat outside until 2:00 a.m. watching the tow truck guy.

I left at 1:30 and went back to bed.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Paternity leave begins

As of today, I'm staying home with my son Drew for 2 months. I could stay home for 3 months, but I just started a new job and I don't think I can be gone that long. At the end of my leave, Drew will be 6 months old, which is a better age for daycare.

During this leave, I'm going on a bunch of trips, including:

  • Lake Chelan, WA
  • Winthrop, WA
  • Tri-Cities, WA
  • San Diego, CA

I wonder if I'll have any time to watch Drew?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Traffic @ 5:00 in Seattle

The other day I went to leave my office in Redmond, and the pictures below are what I saw on the traffic cameras. Needless to say, it took over an hour to get home—and I didn't even go where the traffic was. You would think people in Seattle and surrounding areas would be able to drive in the rain. Not so.

Bad traffic

Really bad traffic

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Asleep at the wheel in Seattle

It's been a bad traffic week. It seemed that every time I drove home from Redmond (about 15 miles from my house in Seattle), there was a traffic jam. Here are some stats on driving home (one way):

Wednesday: 1 hour 45 minutes (10-car accident, I heard)

Thursday: 45 minutes (leaving east side at 3:00 p.m.!) due to stall. In the picture below, you can see the WSDOT truck pushing the stall to the other side of the bridge.

WSDOT truck pushing car

Friday: 1 hour (missed my son's "graduation")

Traffic picture

My cousin just called and said he was stuck in traffic on northbound I-5 at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday!

More stats:

Somebody has to do something about this... oh, I guess the Federal Government is trying.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Museums in Seattle

The last two days, I took the boys out to a few museums. There are only three in Seattle for which I've bought an actual membership:

All of these museums offer a lot for kids (and adults), so I tend to visit about once a quarter.

On Friday, we went to EMP and the Sci-Fi Museum. This was my Drew's first trip there. We always park in the lot across the street for $5. This time, we started off in the Sci-Fi Museum. Cameron, my five-year-old, wanted to the Alien Queen (from the movie Aliens). We ended up spending an hour at the Sci-Fi Museum.

There were a few new things at the museum, including a Star Wars Stormtrooper costume, an exhibit on "War of the Worlds" which I didn't have time to look at, a few more models on display, and an exhibit on Paul Allen's Spaceship One.

When Drew woke up and started screaming (and I kept getting glares from some museum-goers), we went down to EMP's turntable restaurant. I fed Drew, and Cameron built "balloon heads" out of the Wikki Stix (that's what they give kids instead of crayons). I've always liked the turntable restaurant, although the menu isn't as diverse and funky as it used to be.

By the time we finished eating at 8:00 p.m., EMP had closed, so we'll have to start there next time.

On Saturday, we visited The Museum of Flight. We started at the new "Airpark," where they have the Concorde, Air Force One, the first 747, and many other commercial planes. Drew woke up when we got to the Concorde, so I just picked him up and took him inside.

Then we moved on the indoor museum, where Cameron flew an F-18, went in the glass elevator, and tried to climb on the rails (a docent finally told him to get down, after I'd told him 10 times).

We were planning on having lunch in the excellent cafeteria, but the line was a mile long. So we went shopping instead and bought rockets.

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Random e-mail

Here are some funny/interesting things I received in e-mail lately. Enjoy!

  1. This person spent 500 hours with Microsoft Paint to produce an amazing picture:
  2. If you like the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey as I do, check out this essay that a 15 year old wrote about the symbolism:
  3. The subject line with this mail was: "No law against using feces as a flag stand":
  4. Ever wanted to be a Neurosurgeon? Well, there's a book for you now:
  5. Star Wars flu form (use if you've been thinking about seeing Episode III during the day):

Saturday, may 28, 2005

Firefighters and birthdays...

In our family of four, three us have birthdays in May. And for Cameron's birthday, it's usually a huge production. Today was no exception. The party started right around the time the temperature hit 80-plus degrees in Seattle (by the end of the day, the sun turned the helium balloons black).

I think the highlight of the party for everyone was when the firefighters showed up with their fire truck (a request made by our next door neighbor, Pat, an ex-fireman). Cameron and his cronies were in heaven, climbing all over the truck, sitting in the driver's seat, and spraying water from a small tank.

New firefightersOf course, it didn't stop there. To make sure the adults in the audience fully appreciated what firefighters do on a daily basis, they dressed Brenda and me up in full firefighter suits. For me, they even strapped on the tank to give me the true firefighting experience. The thing that surprised me was how heavy the helmet was.

Unfortunately, one of the birthday guests hurt his head on Cameron's slide. Because the firefighters were there, they patched him up and sent him off to the emergency room for stitches. (I called the boy's father today, and he was doing fine.)

After all that excitement, we moved on to the "adult" party. A few of Cameron's friends stayed around, and some neighbors joined in on a get-together/party. I was bushed by 5:30.

Everyone left around 9:00 p.m. That's a full seven hours of partying. I remember when I was a kid, my birthdays would last a few hours and that was it. But this is the 21st century, baby.

Friday, may 27, 2005

Another thyroid test

We had Drew's thyroid tested on Tuesday (he's been of his medicine for a few weeks). This time, it was my turn to hold him as they took his blood (this took over 20 minutes). Thankfully, the test came back normal. So, he's off the thyroid medicine for good!

We need to have him re-tested in the future to make sure everything is still OK, but this is very good news.

Wednesday, may 11, 2005

A fish death in the family

Yesterday morning, Cameron's fish died. His name was Mr. Blue II. Mr. Blue I died about six months ago. Cameron was sad, but I explained that fish don't live forever, just like Charlotte in "Charlotte's Web" (we just finished the book last week).


So we had a burial ceremony in the bathroom, flushing Mr. Blue II down "The Porcelain Express" (after "Finding Nemo"). All these literary and cinematic allusions seemed to help Cameron feel better about the whole thing. And I was, once again, late for work.

Then I had to answer a hundred questions all day. We went down to the Tropical Fish store and picked up another betta (you guessed it, Mr. Blue III). I got chastised by the clerk/fish expert about not changing the Mr. Blue's water enough. When they first prepared me to be an enlightened betta owner about a year ago, all they talked to me about was buying a heater and filter (bettas need 80-degree water). I guess I should have bought "Bettas for Dummies" or something.

In the baby world, last night Drew slept through the night. A full eight hours! Of course, Cameron came in around 2:30 a.m. to bug us.

I'm starting to take Drew out by myself (or Brenda's leaving him with me for hours). For Mother's Day, we went out to some friends in Carnation for something like five hours. Of course, I had a lot of help with Drew, so I guess it wasn't really a solo trip.

Wednesday, may 4, 2005

Einstein's inventions

With the 100 year celebration that's going on right now for Albert Einstein's "miracle year of 1905," I've read some really interesting articles.


Portrait of Albert Einstein taken by Yousuf KarshThe thing I never really understood was how Einstein's theories paved the way for many more inventions than atomic weapons. What's even more impressive, is that all of these theories came in the year 1905 in four papers.

Everyone knows about E = mc2 , but few know about hf = Φ + Ek. The latter formula and theory about the photoelectric effect won Einstein the Nobel Prize in 1921, and made many of these inventions possible:

  • Lasers (DVD players, CD players, supermarket scanners)
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
  • Solar cells
  • Video cameras
  • Television
  • Remote controls
  • Better shaving cream and toothpaste
  • Digital cameras
  • Cellular telephones
  • Smoke detectors
  • Burglar alarms
  • Automatic doors
  • Computers and semiconductors
  • Carbon Dating

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Electronic Drums

A few weeks ago I picked up an electronic drum pad, called the Roland SPD-S Sampling Pad. It has 9 rubber surfaces that you hit with a drum stick and trigger sounds. What kind of sounds, you ask? The sky's the limit, as this sucker can sample, too. I've been having a great time with it so far.


Roland SPD-S Sampling PadTonight, Cam and I went down to Guitar Center to pick up the two pedals I ordered on Saturday. These pedals attach to the SPD-S―one to control the hi-hat sound, the other to set up with a kick drum pedal. Now, I can literally play a drum set on this small pad. I can play all night if I want, because I can plug in headphones. (This is really something I needed when I started playing as a kid, as it would have helped my family and neighbors get a little peace.)

Nothing will ever take the place of my acoustic drums and cymbals, but having an electronic pad gives me the flexibility to play any sound I want. You can't do that on acoustic drums. So, as with all things, they both have they're place, and I'm a happy drummer.

Monday, April 25, 2005


With children, there are always those firsts that you'll always look back on. Some are good, some not so good.


Right now, Drew has his first cold. So he's extra grumpy and doesn't want to sleep as much. Plus he's sneezing all the time. The good news is he doesn't really know what it is; if he did, I think he'd realize how much he could get away with.

On Saturday, Drew went to his first movie―"Madison." I actually positioned his carrier so he could see the screen, and he watched for a while. He made it through about half the movie and then wanted out of the carrier.

He's also learning to speak that lovely baby language called Babble. He figures out a few new sounds every day. What's amazing is how this eventually turns into real words. Tonight, Cam and I tried to teach him "mama," and he was actually saying stuff back at me.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Seven Weeks

Today, Drew turned seven weeks old, and he's as cute as ever.

Baby DrewFirst, he's started smiling and cooing all the time now. And when I come home, he gets excited. I can sit there for hours and listen to him talk. The other day when I was at work, Brenda put the phone up to his ear and when I started talking to him he cooed.

When he gets grumpy, I bicycle his legs. This usually gets him cooing. One day, Brenda tried this and Drew wanted her to bicycle his legs practically all day.

So, regarding Drew's thyroid condition. We're going to take him off the medication this week and see how things look. There's a pretty good chance that he'll be fine.

When Brenda tested her thyroid, it came out normal. So this might just be a case of her thyroid acting up during pregnancy, which sometimes happens.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Cucina! Cucina! no more

Tonight we went out to eat at Cucina! Cucina! in Southcenter. This used to be the best place to take kids. Their food used to be pretty good. But now all that has changed.

When we walked in, they put us in a booth (as we requested). We had a party of five, including Baby Drew, and I went to grab a chair to put on the end of the table for Drew's car seat. The hostess told me that they didn't allow chairs at the end of the table because they're a fire hazard. I said, "What about high chairs?" Same thing, the hostess said. Strike one.

I looked on the menu for my favorite dish: Thai Pizza. Well, they took it off the menu. Strike two.

The meal took 1-1/2 hours to eat. The table next to us changed patrons two times while we were there. Strike three.

Then I remembered something a server told me the last time I visited in 2004. Cucina! Cucina! was bought by another company. Well, they haven't improved it.

No more Cucina.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Back from the beach

I just got back from Manzanita, Oregon, yesterday. We went down there with our friends and their three kids. In all, we had 5 kids!


Manzanita, ORWe did the usual stuff:

  • Visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory; bought cheese and ate ice cream
  • Visited Cannon Beach for a morning, including my favorite bookstore, Cannon Beach Books
  • Got takeout pizza from Marzano's in Manzanita

It was relaxing.

Yesterday, Youssef and I drove back by ourselves and left everyone else at the beach for spring break. We drove through some torrential rains and made it back to Seattle around 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 2, 2005


A visit to Children's Hospital

On Wednesday, April 30, we visited Children's Hospital to see what was going on with Drew. I'd never been to Children's, and it definitely has a much different feel than any other hospital I've been to, with colorful hallways and wing names like "Whale."

We met with Dr. Kletter, one of the experts on childhood thyroid issues. Talking with him was like entering the middle of a conversation. Brenda and I had to keep asking him to clarify what he meant.

He literally walked in the room, looked at Drew's chart, and said, "Oh, yeah, it looks like we've brought his levels down with the medication. That's great, we'll need to keep giving him this same dose... you know it's not a very high dose."

"But, does Drew actually need to keep taking his medicine? I thought that's what we were going to talk about?" Brenda asked.

"Usually with these types of numbers, it's the mother who's passing the problem along to the child."

"Wait a minute, are you saying I have the problem?" Brenda asked.

"I don't know yet. I'll need to check. Do you have a goiter?"

"What's a goiter?"

"It's a lump on your neck. Well, we'll check it out."

Sure enough, Brenda had a goiter (a slight swelling in the neck where the thyroid is), although it's something I'd never noticed before. She hadn't noticed it either. Within minutes, Dr. Kletter was measuring the swelling on Brenda's neck. And then he started quoting all these studies about the mother having a thyroid problem and passing it along to her baby through antibodies in the breast milk.

Dr. Kletter started talking about all kinds of syndromes and diseases, including Hashimoto's Disease and Graves' disease.

The upshot is we're going to keep Drew on his medicine for another month, just to get out of the danger zone for his brain development. And now Brenda has to go in and get tests on her thyroid. In a way, it wasn't all that surprising. Brenda's family has a history of thyroid problems.

I'd never spent 40 minutes with a doctor before. Usually it's 10 minutes and you're out of there.

Saturday, march 26, 2005

Good news

Brenda called me on Thursday to tell me the State had been reviewing Drew's newborn screening test with Children's Hospital, and they've concluded that Drew's thyroid test was normal. Why did Drew get flagged then? Because Brenda's healthcare provider didn't have the most up-to-date information. As you can imagine, this has set off some alarm bells at this healthcare provider, as well as at the State.

We're still giving Drew his medicine until we see the specialist at Children's Hospital, so we're not out of the woods yet.

Tuesday, march 22, 2005

Fussy boy

Well, things are less stressful this week. We've started giving Drew his medicine. All I have to say is, try giving medicine to a 2-week old! The whole process is very time consuming.

First you have to crush the pills. Then you dissolve the pills in water. Then you pull it into an oral syringe and shake it around. Finally, you give it to your baby. I made the mistake of giving him too much at once the first few times. Someone finally clued me in to the small amounts that babies can swallow (thanks, Cynthia at work!). I was treating him like my cat ("take it all, it's good for you!")

Drew also seems a little fussier this week. When Brenda calls me on the phone, he's always complaining in the background. (We don't know if this is the medication yet.) But he's also been sleeping a little more at night. I have to say, my wife is one of those nice mothers who lets me sleep at night. Every once in a while she'll tell me to go change his diaper at midnight, just to keep me in line, but that's it.

At least we have a few more tricks up our sleeve this time around. We got a book from Brenda's mom called "The Best Baby on the Block." The author, Harvey Carp, has discovered the way to calm down your baby. I haven't taken the time to read it, but Brenda's been using the method and has taught me. I have to say, it works pretty well.

Friday, March 17, 2005

Nuclear medicine

Another stressful day. Brenda and I are wrung out, fried.


Brenda's healthcare provider got us in for Drew's thyroid test. It happened unexpectedly this morning―so fast, in fact, that Brenda had to tear out of the clinic where she was camping out until they got her in. I was in the middle of bringing Cam to school.

Anyway, we brought Drew down to nuclear medicine on Capital Hill. A nice technician told us what they were going to do. Drew started waking up, so I danced around the hall with him until he conked out again.

They started the procedure by inserting an IV into his tiny hand and then injecting radioactive dye. Brenda and I moved into the hall, not wanting to watch people stick our two-week old baby with a needle. But we didn't hear any cries. He was still sleeping!

When we started taking the images, I had to hold Drew's head still for 10-15 minutes while the imaging system focused at his neck. The way this works is the camera is a type of Geiger counter, catching the photons coming off the isotope they had injected.

In the end, we had a pointillistic portrait of Drew's thyroid that even I could see on the computer screen. After a few minutes, the doctor came out and told us Drew's thyroid was in the right place, was the right size, etc. The image doesn't tell us anything about how the thyroid is functioning.

Drew slept through the entire procedure, which lasted over an hour.

Thursday, March 16, 2005

Fighting the system

We started off today with a call from Drew's doctor. She reported on what she had learned so far, and what we had ahead of us. She liked that we were doing our own research, too. (It's how I cope with this kind of stress.)


We found out that the abnormal results were from the first test, not the second one. That made us feel a little better, since there can be a high percentage of false positives. Since we were waiting on test results, I headed off to work.

We got the test results back by 2:00 p.m., even though it was supposed to be on Friday. (At least someone understood the gravity of the situationand put a rush on it.) We found that for the most part he's fine. But one of the measurements was still abnormal.

A later development in the day was that the endocrinologists didn't agree on how to proceed. One thought we should put Drew on the medication now, and the other said we should wait. Everyone agreed we needed to get an image test of Drew's thyroid. But the problem was that my wife's healthcare provider couldn't get Drew in until Monday. This is a situation we cannot accept. Drew is getting the imaging test tomorrow―whether my wife's healthcare provider or mine does it.

When the nurse told Brenda that we couldn't get in tomorrow, Brenda pushed her about making it happen faster. After about 10 minutes, Brenda broke down, overwhelmed by the obstacles. I took the phone and talked calmly to the nurse. I knew she was just the messenger. By the end of the conversation, the nurse said she'd keep trying to get Drew in as soon as possible.

The hard thing about this is congenital hypothyroidism is it's a rare occurrence, so most family docs don't know how to treat it. For example, Brenda's and Drew's doctor has never seen a case of congenital hypothyroidism, nor has anyone else in the clinic.

Bring in the specialist...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Newborn screening test issue

Today, Brenda got one of those calls you don't want to get. Drew's newborn screening test came back with possible congenital hypothyroid issues.

The doctor asked her to bring Drew in for another test ASAP. Unfortunately, Brenda understood exactly what this meant; she was on a committee that decided which tests to administer in the newborn screening test. When she called me to tell me about it, I didn't have a clue what it meant. Brenda said, "This isn't a good thing. I've got to go now!"

I was left at work wondering about what all this meant. Later, when I got home, I did my own Internet research and found out that if Drew has this condition, he'd need to be put on a synthetic hormone that the thyroid would usually produce. From the genetic point of view, the odds didn't look good: Most of my family already happens to be on this hormone―everyone except me. Some other facts I found out: Only 10% of babies with this condition have a genetic connection. The odds of a baby having this condition are about 1 in 3500 (about 25 babies a year in Washington). If the condition isn't caught, it can lead to development problems and mental retardation. I finally understood why everyone was so nervous about this.

But we were left with other questions. There are two tests that they do on babies. The first is in the hospital, the second is a few days later. They usually catch any abnormal readings in one or the other test. We didn't know which test caught it. If it was the first, I read that this test has the highest percentage of false positives, since the baby's levels of this hormone can change drastically in the first 72 hours.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Newborn essentials

Here are some items you need to make life easier with a newborn. I learned about many of these after my first baby was born. If you're having a baby, or currently have a baby, check these out.

BoppyThe horseshoe-shaped pillow makes holding the baby easier. I don't sit down on the couch without one of these pillows in my lap.

Baby PapsanThis little chair that vibrates and plays music can put a little one to sleep in no time.

Automatic baby swingLike the Papsan, the swing can put baby to sleep (and keep him asleep). This is essential for any working parent.

Baby wipe warmerHow would you feel if someone put a cold towel on your butt in the middle of the night? The baby wipe warmer takes care of that.

Co-sleeper or elevated basinetIt's important to have a place for you to put the baby besides your bed, and even more important to have it elevated so you don't have to bend down to the floor.

Whoozit - 6”Whoozit baby toyThis clever little toy is something that babies and toddlers actually love to hold and look at. We've always had a Baby Whoozit 6".

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Settling in

We named our second child Drew. Brenda really liked this name, and when I first saw the baby, I knew his name was Drew. The same thing happened with Cameron.

So far, things are going pretty smoothly with Drew. I think a lot of this has to do with our experience as parents. My new theory is that babies sense how comfortable you are with them and adjust as necessary. For example: When Cameron first arrived, I would take five minutes to change his diaper. Invariably, he'd either pee or poo on me. I started taking it personally.

With Drew, I know to lay him on top of a fresh diaper so I can get it right on after I'm done with the other one. I know to take no more than 5-10 seconds to clean him off.

Today, when I changed Drew for the 37th time, I followed my own directions above. And as I removed the old diaper and started putting on the new one, he went #2. I said, "You're not getting me, buddy!"

Just as I started cleaning him for the second time, he went #2 again! He still missed me, though. As I got a new diaper, he decided to pee straight up in the air. This time he nailed me and himself. I thought I saw him smile.

So, I guess this goes to show that not only are you smarter on the second baby, but the second baby is smarter than the first, too.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Baby arrives

So, we had a baby last Friday.

I took Brenda to the hospital on Thursday morning to do another "non-stress" test. She failed (not enough amniotic fluid). They tried to induce her right then, but she was having too many pre-labor contractions to start the process. So they asked us to call later and possibly come back.

That night, we went back to the hospital to check things out and, hopefully, induce Brenda. They decided to admit us and to start a few things to get labor going through the night. Brenda sent me home to sleep. As everyone knows, "a watched pot never boils," and we'd been watching the pot all day, as it were; I was bushed.

When I returned on Friday morning, labor still hadn't started. They started the pitocin (the drug that induces labor) around 10:00 a.m. and we waited. And walked. And waited. I think the nurses got tired of me asking them when things were going to start up. I always got the same two replies, "We don't know" and "I'm not going to make any predictions." The contractions started to get more intense.

Then, around 3:30, Brenda's water broke, and things really got moving. For this baby, Brenda had back labor. She said it was excruciating. It's a helpless feeling watching your wife go through something like this.

But we had the greatest nurses. They coached Brenda through the pain and really helped us out. Brenda stated early on that she wanted an epidural "when she couldn't take it any more." (While she didn't want to subject herself to too much labor pain, getting an epidural too early slows down the labor process.)

During the early discussions about when we would call in the pain patrol, the nurse said, "Let me know 30 minutes before you hit the point when you can't take it anymore." It's a good thing―because the anesthesiologist's pager wasn't working correctly. Brenda continued to writhe through the pain, and I continued to rub her back and do anything else she wanted. She was focused. Determined. And in no mood for jokes.

And then the anesthesiologist arrived. I've always thought that anesthesiologists are a bit crazy, and this one was no exception. She complained about her pager breaking down and then proceeded to give 10 minutes of patient education. As she started getting out all the needles and other instruments, I decided to leave the room. Long ago, one of my relatives told me never to watch the epidural procedure. He told me it almost made him faint.

Once Brenda got the epidural at 7:00 p.m., she looked like she'd been given 20 valium pills. When I commented on this, the anesthesiologist said, "That's the difference between extreme pain and little pain."

My family, including my mom, dad, Cameron, and my brother Erik, had all gone out to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. They returned shortly after Brenda floated off into la-la land, but they couldn't enter the birthing suite yet. Brenda was sleeping (or trying to sleep). When I told them this in the waiting room, my mom said, "I don't know how anyone can have a baby if they're sleeping." Ah, the miracle of the epidural.

About 9:00 p.m., I headed back to the birthing suite to try and relax before the big event. I even fired up the portable DVD player and watched a little of "The Sure Thing." After about 10 or 15 minutes, I closed my eyes and tried to center myself. This is when Doctor Kato came in. She checked Brenda and said, "This baby is right there. I'm going to go change my clothes!"

I saw her run out of the room.

Then I called the family from my cell phone and told them to come in. My dad was a little confused. "Is this happening right now?"

"Yes, dad, you need to get down here now!"

In his mind, he was thinking this was going to take three hours like it did the last time around. I was thinking the same thing... but I'd never seen the doctor run out of the room like that.

Once every one was present in the birthing suite, Brenda pushed through three contractions and our little baby came into the world. This time, they put the baby on mom's stomach, and we all gathered around. (For Cameron's birth, they whisked him away to the table to examine him and make sure he was alright.) Throughout the birth, I looked over at Cameron, held by his birth buddy uncle Erik, and a smile lit up his face―a smile I'd never seen on him before.

This baby was happy and healthy... well, he wasn't really happy. Would you be if someone pulled you from your warm home?

After all the post-delivery procedures and after all the relatives left, Brenda and I were there with our labor nurse. She gave the baby his first bath (he liked it) and got him ready for bed. Brenda devoured a club sandwich from The Cheesecake Factory (sans bacon). She said food has never tasted so good. She wanted to have her luxurious post-delivery bath in the Jacuzzi, but the bubbles didn't work.

I was ready to go home, but they keep you for 24 hours to make sure everything is OK. I knew we had a long night ahead of us in the hospital, with nurses checking on Brenda and baby throughout the night. But I felt an incredible sense of relief. Our beautiful baby boy was here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

T-plus 7 days

Yes, we're still waiting for this baby to arrive and grace us with his presence. The phone calls continue both at home and work, "Any baby news?" We've gotten to the point of sending out regular e-mail updates.

Yesterday, Brenda, Cam, and I went in for a "non-stress test." This is a test they give to mothers/babies if they're overdue and want to make sure the baby is still doing OK. They cinch two belts around Brenda's stomach and she clicks a little button each time the baby moves. The nurse is watching for baby movement coupled with an increased heart rate.

The last part of the test is an ultrasound, where the nurse measures the amniotic fluid along with some other things. Everything looked good.

Cameron was there for the test, too, and behaved about 50-60% of the time. We were able to show him one of the actual birthing suites, so he could get an idea of what it looks like, etc.

So, we remain on baby alert.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar® night

I watched the last third of the Oscars tonight. I felt a little removed, since I haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, Ray, or Finding Neverland. I'm going to see them all eventually.

Even though I didn't see the other films, I think The Aviator deserved Best Picture and Director awards. That Martin Scorsese failed once again to get the Best Director award seems improbable. That Clint Eastwood got Best Director (his second, after 1992's Unforgiven) seems equally improbable. As my mom said to me on the phone afterward, "It must be political." This hasn't happened since Shakespeare in Love beat out Saving Private Ryan.

In addition to The Aviator, Scorsese deserved his Best Director Oscar for at least one of the following films:

  • Taxi Driver
  • Goodfellas
  • Raging Bull
  • The Last Temptation of Christ

I guess the Academy is waiting for him to make something better than these five aforementioned films. It's as if they're saying, "Hey, Marty, if this were anyone else, they would have gotten the Oscar already. But we know you can do better. Try a little harder. Dig a little deeper."

For those who follow such categories, here are my reviews of the participants and nominees themselves―at least during the last third of the show.

  • Worst hair: Annette Bening (no wonder she lost a second time―and to the same actress, Hilary Swank!)
  • Best dress/most stunning overall: Kate Winslet
  • Worst patience: Clint Eastwood running off to his seat after getting an award, instead of going backstage like all the other winners
  • Worst attitude: Sean Penn
  • Most surprising speech: Jorge Drexler singing the words and melody to his song "Al Otro Lado del Rio" from The Motorcycle Diaries
  • Worst teleprompter reading: Prince
  • Weirdest tux and facial hair: Johnny Depp

Click here to see all the winners

Click here to see the red carpet fashion show

Click here for more photos

Friday, February 25, 2005

A slight detour

While we're waiting for this baby to arrive, I wanted to make a few observations about things... things that bug me. And they may bug you, too.

What's with the McDonald's marketing campaign around their Select Chicken? "Become a believer." I like the new Select Chicken, but it's not some religious ceremony for me when I order a three-piece with honey mustard. Besides, the only reason McDonald's introduced this product was Wendy's chicken was ten times better.

Here's my suggested press release rewrite:

Seattle, WA (February 25, 2005) – After Wendy's started to take away our chicken product market share, McDonald’s® decided to introduce new Chicken Selects® premium breast strips to its core menu at participating McDonald’s restaurants nationwide. Most people will wonder, "Why didn't McDonald's do this earlier?" And the answer, gentle customer, is we'd rather not do something if we don't have to. Sure, we'll try to entice you with our dollar menu and the kids' playground and hope that you forget about the crappy Chicken McNuggets that you've been eating for years. And you know what? It'll work. So, try staying away from Chicken Selects... we guarantee you'll be going through the drive through one day and will see the picture of the crispy, juicy chicken and you won't be able to help yourself.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

T-minus 0: B-day

Today is our due date for baby #2. But my wife is lying on the couch watching "The West Wing." Actually, Brenda just stopped working the other day (officially, anyway), and she wants a few days to relax. Even though they say you don't have any control over a baby's arrival, never doubt the power of the mind.

Brenda wanted to have a bunch of music for the delivery room in the hospital, so I went out and bought a 1 GB memory card for my Rio Cali digital music player. It was $100 or so dollars, but it'll be worth it to have that much memory.

I also bought these really cool flat speakers that hook up to the Rio and sound pretty damn good. Now we don't have to haul 20 CDs and a huge stereo with us to the hospital.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

T-minus 7 days

I asked my wife tonight, "When is this baby going to be born?" She looked at me like I was crazy.

All I know is her belly gets bigger every day, and she looks more uncomfortable by the minute. I'm ready now, although I seem to have lost the battery to my video camera.

As if the baby wasn't enough, I started a new job this week. And it hasn't been a slow start. After my first day, my brain and body were exhausted. Too much information. But I'm liking it.

At least the sun is shining in Seattle (even if it is 32 degrees F at night).

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Joe Eszterhas and Scott Brick

Over the past month, I've listened to the audio book, "Hollywood Animal," by Joe Eszterhas. This is one of the best autobiographies I've ever read. The story spans from the refugee camps of Hungary to the exclusive restaurants of Hollywood. In between, we're introduced to a motley crew of characters, including Eszterhas himself.

After doing a little Web research, it puzzles me that Eszterhas provokes so much disdain from the critics and the media at large. His book, "Hollywood Animal," is beautifully written with gusto. There were very few times that I was ever bored, which is saying a lot when the total reading time was close to twenty-four hours!

I guess two of his movies, "Showgirls" and "Burn Hollywood Burn" are noted as being some of the worst of all time; but people forget that Eszterhas doesn't direct his screenplays. In "Hollywood Animal," we find out that Paul Verhoeven is "dating" Elizabeth Berkley, who can't act to save her life. Only "Burn Hollywood Burn" has Eszterhas's fingerprints on it; the studio rejected the director's cut and liked the one Eszterhas put together.

So, my hat's off to Joe, a great screenwriter―a great writer, period. "Hollywood Animal" is a must read for all screenwriters or anyone who wants to dive into the Hollywood machine.

Some credit must also go out to the narrator of "Hollywood Animal," Scott Brick. This is the second book I've heard read by the golden-voiced Brick, and his narrative powers are extraordinary. (The first book I heard read was Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City.") If you get a chance, check out Brick reading either of these books.

What's ironic is that the next book I started listening to was "Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber," and it's also read by Brick!

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

T-minus 15 days and counting...

My four-year-old son's birth buddy is Erik, my brother. Tonight, Erik came over to do a little birth training. We talked to him about what to expect, he read a book with Cameron about the birth process, and we watched the video of Cameron's birth.


It's probably the fourth or fifth time I've watched Cam's birth, and it's always a little emotional for me. Erik also commented on how it made him feel emotional, because he knows Cam so well now. You look at the baby in the video and realize it's the person you know now.

So, things are more ready now. We're mostly packed, we've taken care of the priorities for the house, and Erik's been trained.

Now we wait...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Recording two new songs

Over the past two weekends, my friend Chris Niccoli invited me over to his home recording studio to record some songs. I hadn't recorded in about four years, so I was a little nervous.

For the first session, I'd been dutifully practicing along with the demo Chris had given me, and had found it quite challenging. It had a punk tempo and attitude. It was fast. I wondered if I'd be able to keep up with it, given that Chris didn't want to use a click-track (basically a metronome) to keep me on target.

But once I got to his house, all my apprehension melted away. Chris had a fast, efficient way of working that put me at ease―from setting up the microphones to getting the drum sound he wanted. He didn't give me a lot of time to think, which was a good thing. It's so easy to overanalyze with music―especially for someone like me.

We recorded the track in a few takes and did one extra for good measure. You can never tell which take is going to be the best--especially right after you've recorded it. I've learned this the hard way. I just put my faith in Chris's ears.

Yesterday I went over to record another song, and Chris played me the track we recorded the week before, complete with guitars and bass (no vocals yet). The sound coming out of the monitors amazed me--so much so that I didn't think I was the one playing the drum part. The song was electric, moving at an insane pace. It went by too fast. Chris said, "You want to hear it again?" I did. I had the same feeling. Not only was I amazed, but I found myself laughing. Chris has this great way of injecting humor into his songs, but not at the expense of the song or the musicianship. It's just the way he writes the guitar and bass parts.

Anyway, Chris is working on the two songs that I recorded with him. You can hear the first two he recorded with Barry Oliva on drums on his site.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Preparing for a new baby

My wife and I are expecting our second baby near the end of February, and we're not even close to being ready. Well, that's not exactly true. We've got the crib set up, the changing table ready, clothes organized in drawers, diapers out, the Diaper Genie standing by, a baby swing sitting in the corner, and the most important item―the baby wipe warmer in position.

It sure helps to have been through this before. We've got all the baby stuff; it's just that a lot of it is still buried in the garage. Then there are the bags going with us to the hospital. I haven't started on that one yet. For our first son, we practically brought in half the house. I'm aiming for a more minimalistic approach this time around.

Oh, we got the family heirloom bassinet today. Many of the babies from my mother's side the family have been in this bassinet, and so was I. My cousin Terry shipped it from Colorado in a huge box that blocked my door when I tried to open it. After we're done with it, we're handing it off to Terry's son.

I'll be charting our baby adventure progress in this blog, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oscar nominees and a new Star Wars villain

And the winner is...

Well, the Academy Awards were announced today. The big news is Paul Giamatti was snubbed for the Best Actor award for his work in "Sideways." I haven't seen "Sideways" yet, but I've heard it's an amazing film. The other nominees were what I expected. If you didn't get a chance to check out the nominees yet, go to the Academy Award site for more info.

Star Wars III villain

The other day, a friend of mine at work showed me a new character coming out in Star Wars Episode III. His name is General Grevious. He is described on in this way:

"A twisted melding of flesh and metal, General Grievous' body is a deadly weapon forged by the cutting edge developers of the Confederacy. Within the hardened carapace beats the heart of a remorseless killer. Grievous hunted Jedi for sport and proudly displayed his victims' lightsabers around his belt as trophies of his conquests."

General Grievous

I have to say, my anticipation for this film has increased even more. Not only do we get Vader, but this other guy who seems even worse! Movies are only as good as their villains...

I only wish Lucas had gone directly to Episode III instead of doing the first two. The backstory of Anakin as a child and teenager, as well as the love interest with Padme, is just not that interesting. I like the special effects and all, but the story just isn't there. Sometimes the backstory for a movie needs to remain in the background.

I may even subscribe to Hyperspace for this year, since it is a Star Wars year and all. I think it's a little bogus for Lucas to make the best parts of a pay site; but I guess he does have to run it like a business.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A weekend at Semiahmoo

My wife and I took a long overdue weekend trip to Semiahmoo, which is about 2 hours north of Seattle. Our son stayed behind with his uncle.

Semiahmoo Resort, where we stayed, is on a spit overlooking the Canadian border. It's not a cheap night out, but we like to splurge every once in a while. When we arrived, we went straight into hour-long massages at the spa. It was my first visit to a spa, and my first hour-long massage.

After the massage, my body was Jell-O. I was so relaxed I felt like going straight to bed . But I was hungry. We ate at the Pierside restaurant as light snow started to fall outside. This was the third snow storm we'd had in one week, which is unusual for the Northwest. The local news always makes any threat of snow into a national emergency, and it was no different on this night.

Later in our room, I started watching a documentary on the History Channel about Heinrich Himmler , the Nazi S.S. leader. At first my wife was interested, but then she started getting agitated as they talked more about Himmler and the Nazi's atrocities. "Is this what you call a nice romantic movie?"

I turned the channel, and we rented "Before Sunset" through the hotel movie system. It was my second time seeing this film, and I liked it even more.

In the morning, we checked out of the resort and drove through icy roads to Birch Bay state park, where Brenda used to camp as a kid. We got out to look around. The forest was still and frozen. A woodpecker landed nearby and started pounding on a tree with its beak. I tried to get a picture, but woody flew off before I could get close enough.

After Brenda scoped out possible future camp sites, we drove off toward Seattle, stopping off in Fairhaven, where we shopped at Village Books (one of the Northwest's best book stores) and ate lunch at Mambo Italiano. We topped it off by losing $40 at the Skagit Valley Casino (nothing new).

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hockey and popcorn

Cam and I went to a Seattle Thunderbirds hockey game on Thursday. The birds won, 4-2 against the Tri-City Americans. Here's a breakdown of the cost:

  • 2 tickets on the ice: $40.00
  • Hotdogs, pop, and fries: $22.00
  • 1 tub of super salty popcorn: $4.00

After we got our food, we moved up to about row 30 in a sea of empty seats. I was feeling a little claustrophobic with all the people around me, and I couldn't really see the play on the other end of the ice. Besides, the guys behind us were yelling insults and obscenities at the players (even with all the kids around).

During the game, the players were trying to fight after practically every whistle. The crowd wanted them to fight. Cameron asked, "Why do they want them to fight?"

I thought for a moment and said, "Because they get two sports for the price of one: hockey and boxing."

Cameron said, "Why do they want hockey and boxing?"

Ah, the mind of a four-year-old.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The day after...

We spent New Year's Eve with our friends, Michelle and Youssef and their kids. We ate Mexican food at Ixtapa in Redmond, and then retired to our friend's house. The kids ran around with swords and shields and came in to "fight the parents" every once in a while.

I didn't think I was going to make it to midnight, but somehow I did. We watched Regis in New York (I guess Dick Clark had a stroke and is in the hospital). The Space Needle in Seattle literally blew up with fireworks. My wife and Michelle both worked there during college, and they didn't remember it being so elaborate in the 80s.

I finally fell asleep around 2:00 a.m., and of course my son got up at 8:00 a.m.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Welcome to my new blog for 2005!

Happy New Year, everyone! This year I'm trying something new with my blog. I'm using Blogger technology, so I can publish this anytime from any computer.

Now you can add comments to any blog by clicking the Post a Comment link. I've added one to this entry to show you what these look like.

So, if you have any comments about this format or have any problems, please let me know:

2/18/04 note: Blogger technology did not work out for me. I'm back to blogging on my site directly.