Monday, December 31, 2007

Have Dress, Need Shoes

Yesterday I made a quick stop into Ann Taylor Loft to return a skirt and attempt to use a $25 coupon that expired Jan 1. I ended up buying this dress for our New Year's Eve party tonight:

It's a color I don't usually wear, but it fits perfectly and the beaded neckline is gorgeous- the picture doesn't do it justice. It's also more of a pewter than silver so I think it's dark enough to look acceptable against my pale skin and reddish hair (and actually the model kind of has my coloring, so it must be okay). And the best part: it was originally $129, marked down to $89, then 30% off the sale price to $68, my coupon took it down to $38, and the skirt I returned was $35*- so I paid $3.27.

The only problem is that I don't own silver shoes. Rather shocking given the number of pairs in our collective closets, but true. And I definitely can't wear black ones with it. So I'm off to find inexpensive, but cute silver (preferably pewter, but I'm not pushing my luck) shoes before we dress up to say good riddance to 2007.

*I know it was still technically $38, but I'd already paid the credit card bill with the skirt on it, so in my mind, that was a sunk cost and doesn't count. JP tried to convince me otherwise (some nonsense about how our account could have been credited so it isn't a sunk cost at all), but I'm sticking to my story that the dress was $3 and therefore had to be purchased.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Baby Gear Reviews- 5 Months Later

Back in August I wrote a review of Landon's baby items at 3 weeks old. When we were shopping and registering for stuff I kept wondering what we'd need after those first few months. With a small apartment and budget, I really wanted things that would last beyond the newborn phase. So here's an updated list of what we have and what we like:


  1. Storkcraft Rochester Crib w/ Drawer: I still love this crib. It was $200 and looks great. Landon has slept in there since he came home from the NICU. I hear him babbling to his mobile and the cars on his bumper when he wakes up, and it's roomy enough for him to roll around in. He'll be in here until he graduates to a big boy bed (I have no idea when that happens, but I'm pretty sure it's a ways off).
  2. Ultimate Crib Sheet: very nice to have when your baby spits up all over the crib- just unsnap the sides and put on a new one over the still clean fitted sheet. It's soft on top and waterproof underneath. I've also found that his drool soaks through the normal sheets and starts to smell- this is quicker and easier to change every few days.
  3. Changing Table: I still really like having this- I know you can use any surface with a pad, but we found this one in the same wood as the crib for about $75 and I like the rails and security it provides. Plus, the extra shelves come in handy for larger items and stuffed animals.


  1. Graco Snugride Infant Car Seat and Stroller Frame: I still love this whole set (especially the stroller) and would highly recommend you get something like it rather than a giant travel system. Unfortunately Landon is getting too heavy to carry around in the car seat. We'll continue to use it a while longer, but we've begun looking for a convertible car seat (if you have any recommendations, let me know!). I'm really, really going to miss the stroller and the ability to just pop him in and out of the car base and stroller frame.
  2. Chicco C6 Umbrella Stroller: This is our regular stroller. It's lightweight, sturdy, and collapses easily, but I've noticed my feet constantly hit the wheels. It's a great stroller, but next time I'd go to a store and try out different ones before buying to make sure it fits my height and stride.
  3. JJ Cole Bundle Me: necessary if you live somewhere cold. It keeps him warm in Chicago winter weather without a coat or heavy clothes- we just stick a hat on his head and we're off. It's roomy and will last him as long as he fits in his infant car seat.
  4. Fisher Price Baby Papasan Chair: this thing was a godsend for about two months. Landon did all of his sleeping in here all swaddled up. I would absolutely buy it again, just for those two months, but it really isn't a playtime bouncer (the toy/mirror are pretty boring) and he quickly got too big for it.
  5. Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker: this is his our fun chair. Landon loves it- at first he just looked at the toys, then he was able to hit them, and now he grabs them and tries to stick them in his mouth. We often take the toy bar off and hand him other toys or books to hold while he's in there. I love that it will grow with him (it can be used as a rocking chair up to 40 lbs.) and wasn't too expensive. I think you need some kind of chair to safely hold the baby while he entertains himself and you get stuff done. I move this all around the house with me.
  6. Diaper Genie II: love this. There's lots of diaper pails out there, but this one is very simple to use (you only need one free hand, a very good thing) and has kept his room stink-free. You have to buy refills at $6 a piece, but they last for a while- after 5.5 months, we're only on #3.
  7. Sure Comfort Deluxe Tub: this worked well, but we only used it for the first 3-4 months (now he takes baths in the big tub with mommy or daddy). I think this a good model and it is nice to have even now for a quick wash when he spits up all over himself during the day.
  8. Evenflo Expressions Plus Highchair: we love this- it's compact, folds up easily, has 3 reclining positions for the back, 7 height positions, and is nicely colored. The tray is wide and snaps off to go in the dishwasher. I was sad we couldn't get the cool Fisher Price booster that snaps onto a regular chair (we don't have a kitchen table or chairs), but now I'm really glad we had to get a normal high chair. We stick him in here all the time to play with toys and books, and it's tall enough to let him see over the kitchen island and watch me cook or do things around the apartment (it's on wheels).
  9. Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier- Active: I wanted to love this, but we haven't used it much- maybe we would have if we lived in a warmer climate and spent more time out and about. It worked well for me on Landon's fussy days when I just couldn't hold him anymore, but buying a swing quickly rendered it unnecessary. It was a gift, but if we'd bought it, I would have wished we saved our money.
  10. Fisher Price Cradle Swing: like the papasan chair, it was priceless for the months we used it, but it didn't last long. It was expensive and big so I didn't get one at first, but having a colickly, acid-refluxy baby made me change my mind. I think it just depends on your situation- I'm glad we have it now for future babies and Landon spent many, many hours (and took many naps) in here between months 2-4, but he's already lost interest and it's getting small. I'm sure there are more interactive swings that would last longer, but the soothing, quiet nature of this one is what made it so magical.


  1. Gymini Total Playground Activity Mat: I think it's nice to have some kind of play gym, but it doesn't have to be this one. I like many of its features: the sides snap up to make a mini barrier around it, the big mirror, the toys can be switched around, and the bars can be removed leaving just the play mat to roll around on, but Landon never figured out the kick pad and I think that's what makes this one so expensive. As a gift, it's awesome, but if you're paying, you could probably do just as well with a cheaper one.
  2. Fisher Price Rainforest Waterfall Soother: we didn't use it at all for the first five months- I wasn't even sure why I registered for it, but we've been trying some light "sleep training" on Landon (basically just getting him to fall asleep on his own without having to be rocked until he's a dead weight in our arms) and it's a lifesaver. Now when he gets sleepy, I put him in his crib, turn off the light, and turn on this soother. He'll fuss a little, but is captivated by the moving water and sounds and quickly quiets and watches. The movements slow, the music gets quieter, and by the time it's done playing, he's asleep. We also use it if he wakes up at night- it gives him something to look at while he's trying to figure out how to fall asleep.
  3. Symphony-in-Motion Geometric Shapes Mobile: the best mobile, ever. He still adores it and I can depend on it to keep him busy for a full 15 minutes (this is not a "go to sleep" mobile, it's definitely for entertainment and you can swing it out of the crib at nighttime). It's pricey, but it's the reason I can take a shower every morning and it hasn't gotten old even after looking at it multiple times a day, every day. He still squeals and pumps his arms and legs like crazy- it was also the first thing he ever babbled to.
  4. Little Superstar Sing Along Stage: Christmas gift from grandma and grandpa. Great fun- lots of lights and sounds, and it isn't too big. It's already made him better at sitting up on his own.
  5. Books: this was the most important thing to me for Landon to have. He loves anything bright and made of cloth or plastic so he can stick it in his mouth. Dr. Seuss is already a favorite as is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
  6. Bumpo chair: great- he likes sitting in this and holding his books. Not necessary if you have a bouncy chair, but we got it as a gift and I'm glad we have it. There was a recall because people are dumb and despite the smooth bottom and lack of any restraints, they would place the seats on counters or tables and leave baby unattended. The recall just involved Bumpo issuing you a giant warning sticker telling you not to do this. Ours came from Target, but I can't find it online anymore- maybe they stopped selling it after the recall. I hope not, it's a useful little seat.
  7. Teethers!! The big plastic ones you put in the freezer haven't worked for us- I think the cold on his hand bothers him and they're too big for his mouth. These blocks are fantastic- they can go in the bath, squeak, and are perfect teethers. Baby Einstein makes a duck with rubber teethers attached and it's Landon's best friend (he's talking to it right now).

Clothes, Diapers, etc.

  1. Outfits: Landon pretty much lives in the footed sleep-and-plays from Carter's. They're easy, keep his legs and feet warm, and you can put a onesie underneath for an extra layer. I've discovered I prefer ones with snaps around the crotch instead of a zipper all the way down. I almost never dress him in two-piece outfits that don't involve onesies- he has no hips (do any babies?) and the pants ride low, exposing his giant belly. It looks chilly.
  2. Burp cloths: we use a 12-pack of cloth diapers and they're great. Absorbent and inexpensive.
  3. Bibs: have lots of these. We go through at least 3 a day because of the drooling and another 2 from meal time.
  4. Diapers: we used Pampers Swaddlers and are now on to Pampers Cruisers. I know I should try the store brands to save money, but each Pampers pack has a coupon inside and I can usually find them on sale at the grocery store. He's never had a leak in these, so I just pay the extra dollar. We use store brands for almost everything else. (And FYI, in Chicago I've found grocery stores- Dominick's or Jewel- are the cheapest place to buy diapers and formula, though oddly, not wipes or baby food)
  5. Dr. Smith's Diaper Ointment: the best diaper rash cream. Landon had a stomach virus and developed a really bad one; we tried Desitin, A&D ointment, Boudreaux's butt paste, and finally this expensive stuff and after 2 days the rash was almost gone. Worth every penny.

So that's a lot of stuff- and to think I bypassed entire sections of Babies R Us (and have so far held out on getting any kind of exersaucer, though I'm quite sure Landon would love it). Most of the big stuff was used in stages: first the papasan and the swing, now the rocker and high chair, so it's not as bad as it seems. For advice from other new moms, see Magic Cookie's baby product reviews from when her son was a newborn and the list Shelley's doctor gave her when she found herself with a baby several weeks earlier than anticipated. And please add your own reviews or favorite items in the comments!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bikinis Already?

I made a quick Target run this morning and saw bikinis prominently displayed at the front of the women's section of the store. Really?! It's 20 degrees outside and we got a bunch of snow yesterday- just the thought of exposed skin gave me goose bumps. It also made me look at my stomach with sadness and a longing for the days of yore. While my old clothes fit and I now weigh less than I did before growing a Landon, my stomach has not returned to its previous form. Perhaps from a distance, if I was standing up perfectly straight and nothing was pressing into my middle, you might be fooled into thinking the extra skin (that is no longer needed but appears to be staying) is toned abs rather than pure squishiness. But you wouldn't be fooled for long. Sigh, I suppose it's time for a few sit-ups or maybe even going to the gym. The small mountain of Christmas cookies I've eaten over the past few days probably hasn't helped. At least I live in Chicago and can stay fully covered for a good five more months- and maybe the bathing costume will make a come back...

Friday, December 28, 2007

PJ Snow Day

We're in the middle of getting 6 inches of snow- it's making quite a beautiful scene through our big front windows. I'm in my new flannel pj's, Landon is in his kangaroo pj's, and we're both having a warm, snuggley day. There's a pot roast cooking in my crock pot and I've made a lunch out of leftover Christmas cookies and herbal tea. When we're back down South, I'm really going to miss this kind of day. I love the excuse to stay inside, not get dressed, and feel so cozy while the wind blows and the snow swirls outside. So far my biggest accomplishment has been making the tea. The never ending to-do list can wait, Landon and I are taking a snow day.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas, version 2007

Well, Christmas was different, but it was good. Christmas Eve went off without a hitch. The in-laws came over to the apartment in the morning to deliver their presents and eat a light lunch of crackers, meats, and cheeses (I had lots of fun finally using all those fancy serving dishes we received as wedding presents!). Dinner at the Drake was elegant, delicious, and champagne soaked. Unfortunately Landon's teeth decided to make their presence known and he was very unhappy all two hours we were there. We took turns dancing with him by the live band which brought out his smiles, and when that trick lost its magic JP abandoned his prime rib to run down Michigan Avenue in search of infant tylenol. Luckily there's a Walgreens almost every three blocks downtown and a dose of that made the little guy comfortable enough to fall asleep during the church service later on.

It was strange to be at a hotel on Christmas Eve; we've always done dinner at home and I never realized so many people ate out. The Drake is so expensive and I saw tables with 12+ people ordering bottles of wine- I just can't imagine being a part of that world (I was only a part of it that night because of JP's family). There was a large family sitting behind me- all the parents perfectly coiffed and dressed in Brooks Brothers and the kids miniature versions of their parents. They were perfectly behaved, having fun, and obviously used to having their apple juice poured into wine glasses by tuxedo clad waiters. It was so different from the Christmas Eves of my childhood, but they seemed to be creating happy memories of their own. Looking at the other diners got me wondering if/when I'll stop getting so excited about each opportunity to dress up and eat a nice meal. Despite marrying into a family used to fancy dinners, and entering into a profession full of them, I'm not there yet. I kind of hope I never am. A meal that's $100+ per person should always feel special.

Christmas Day was nice. Landon was his usual jolly self in the morning and even though he had no idea why the day was so special, it really was more fun to celebrate the holiday with a child- we were so excited on his behalf. Our apartment looked very cute with its cheap and eclectic mix of decorations and my brunch turned out delicious (I have to post the recipe for the egg casserole I made- I found it online somewhere and it's very easy and tasty). We opened presents around noon- by far the longest I have ever waited to open them, I couldn't believe how grown up and patient I was. I got some beautiful Ann Taylor clothes from the in-laws (this year I suggested that store and it worked out perfectly- for the first time I honestly loved everything she gave me and my work wardrobe is nicely expanded), the Harry Potter books 1-7 boxed set (I was so excited about that, I can't wait to read them all again and one day read them with Landon), cozy Victoria's Secret flannel pj's from JP that Landon loves to snuggle up against, and a few books and other little things. My parents gave Landon a Sing-Along Stage (as my mom put it, it's one of those noisy, flashy toys we don't have room for that grandparents buy for their grandchildren). He adores it- he finds the microphone to be very tasty and the sounds and lights are a source of endless fascination and delight. His mom and dad love the fact that the sound is adjustable and the songs are more catchy than annoying (so far). We got him a few of our favorite childhood books and some rubbery blocks that make the best chew toys (that makes him sound like a puppy, doesn't it?). He always has one partially crammed into his mouth and they're great in the bath tub. I gave JP a game night basket filled with our favorite board games, snacks, and beer. The evening ended with me beating him in Monopoly for the first time in six years (I had to throw that in there, it was a very proud moment for me).

So Landon's first Christmas was a good one. He was full of smiles and he seemed to pick up on the excitement surrounding the day. Everyone got along pretty well in our little apartment, which is more of a miracle than I'll ever explain in this increasingly public blog. Next year we'll be celebrating in Texas, hopefully in a house with a dog at our side, and continuing to craft our own holiday traditions.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is the big night for my family. It's the day of the fancy dinner in the dining room, the church service, the looking at Christmas lights, and the opening of the presents. Tomorrow is just for Santa and playing with toys. This year things are different- we're in Chicago and JP's family is visiting us. This means that for the first time in my life I won't be opening presents on Christmas Eve. Luckily I'm grown up now and can handle waiting 12 more hours, but if you had told me this when I was little, it wouldn't have gone over very well (not to imply that I wasn't a perfectly behaved, patient child...). One good thing about this first Christmas away from my family is that it's completely different from anything we would do in Houston- tonight we're having Christmas Eve dinner at the Drake hotel on Michigan Avenue followed by service at a nearby church. Tomorrow we're opening all the presents, we don't have stockings, and we're not having breakfast tacos and tamales for brunch. I may feel like I didn't really have a Christmas, but at least I'm not sitting here comparing everything to what I'd be doing at home- there's really no comparison to make.

Landon is having a marvelous time with all the attention. Yesterday we all went to Marshall Field's on State Street (I refuse to call it Macy's) for lunch at the Walnut Room underneath the great tree. He was in his Santa suit and practically caused a traffic jam around our table. The kid is a charmer. His stack of presents underneath our 3 foot Christmas tree is larger than JP's and mine combined (thank goodness he's too young to have any idea how spoiled he's about to be) and I'm about to put him in his most handsome outfit for dinner tonight.

So things are different, but getting married, joining another family, having a baby, and starting your own family are all about changes and the ups and downs that come with them (mostly ups!). Christmas 2007 will be a unique one and as long as JP, Landon, and I are together, I don't really care what we do to officially celebrate it. Merry Christmas Eve to you all, I can't imagine my year without this blog and all the support I've received through it. I leave you with a picture of Landon in the abovementioned handsome outfit:

I can't believe that a year ago he was just a little heartbeat on an ultrasound.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Thank you, readers, for sending me this comic on the theory of "airplaneseatreclineology" and how it explains the human condition. Cracked me up. Who knew seat reclining was such a mainstream and contentious issue?!

I hope your holidays are going well. It's about 5 degrees outside and the wind is howling. Landon is in his Santa Suit, JP is wrapping presents, and I am finally baking our cookies with Raffi's Christmas album playing in the background. It's warm, cozy, and quite wonderful to be inside together. Merry almost Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cookies, interrupted

I've spent hours on multiple grocery store visits preparing for our first Christmas at home. I did one last Target run this morning. I then spent 3 hours in the car going to the airport to pick up the in-laws (and grandma-in-law), delivering them to their Michigan Avenue hotel, and then battling traffic back to our apartment (all with a non-napping, increasingly annoyed Landon in the backseat). We're home. The little guy is happily playing in his high chair, the Christmas music is playing, the tacky lights are twinkling, and I'm all ready to bake sugar and gingerbread cookies before we meet everyone downtown for dinner.

And I have no butter. I have eggs, sugar, flour, etc. but no butter. I never use butter, but I was pretty sure we had a few sticks laying around- turns out, we just have the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter zero calorie spray. I'm pretty sure that would not work in my delicious, sugary, calorie-laden cookies.

So we're piling back into the car to get some freaking butter. If I wasn't craving raw cookie dough so badly, I'd probably just scrap the whole thing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Best Way To Wake Up

Last night Landon slept from 10:30pm - 5:45am (yay!). I fed him a few ounces and since he looked a little tired, and I felt a lot tired, I stuck him back in his crib. There was some protesting, but I knew he needed more than 7 hours so I waited before going back in to get him. He fell back asleep and so did I.

Then at 9:15, for the first time since Landon was born, I woke up to happy babbling sounds rather than a screaming insistance that he is starving and no one has fed him, ever. I went into his room and found him rolled over (yay!!! his pediatrician was concerned that he hadn't done that yet) and talking to his mobile. He looked quite proud of his new position and was definitely enjoying the more exciting view. (He sleeps on his stomach because of the breathing trouble and acid reflux- both are exacerbated by being on his back.) I got a huge smile and then he continued his conversation with the yellow triangle. Sometimes I look at him and just can't believe I grew something this adorable.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Raffi! (and random updates)

A family friend just sent us the Raffi Christmas album. My childhood Christmas trilogy is complete: Raffi, A Sesame Street Christmas, and A Christmas with the Chipmunks. I love how kids are an excuse to revisit your own childhood!

And now we're off to our parenting class (that we aren't allowed to bring our baby to).

Class Update (because this is already a mixed-topic post): the parenting class was fine, though we didn't really learn anything new.

General Landon Update: he's feeling better, the inhaler has made a huge difference. It doesn't bother him anymore- he actually smiles when I put it over his mouth, which looks hilarious. I don't think he breathes as deeply as he did when he cried, but it seems to be working anyway. The Prednisone has made him projectile vomit, so we're not giving him that anymore. The pediatrician is calling me tomorrow to see if we should try something else or just wait longer and see if the mucous clears up on its own. For the first time EVER he slept 7 hours last night. There was great rejoicing in the LagLiv household. He's over 5 months old and still a terrible sleeper; due, I'm sure, to the craziness and upheaval of the last few months. Maybe now we can finally give him some sort of routine- I think we'd all benefit from that.

Airplanes, revisited

I had no idea my opinion that people should not recline their seats on airplanes would be so controversial- apparently many people feel quite justified to do so regardless of the comfort of the person behind them. The most recent comment:

I don't see how it's rude to recline one's chair, regardless of whether the person in the chair behind is with a child. When you pay for an airline ticket, you pay for the right to recline. If anything, you should be apologizing to him for brining [sic] your baby on the plane and making his trip much less enjoyable. Buy a business class ticket or suffer like everyone else.

Interesting... I'm not sure how the person in front of me's trip was less enjoyable. They took their maximum amount of space the whole flight, Landon was silent the whole flight, and after we landed she (not he) complimented me on his good behavior (she complimented me on his cuteness before we took off). I guess I just don't understand feeling so entitled to knowingly make someone uncomfortable. Of course you have the "right" to recline your seat, but that doesn't mean I can't find it rude. You have the "right" to do a lot of things that are rude. And I have a right to use my tray table and just try using a laptop or eating a meal on your tray when someone's seat is pushed back. I've never reclined my seat- I don't have a dire need for the extra space (lovely as 3 more inches might be) and I just picture the person behind me being all squished and I feel bad. If people kept their seats up, maybe we all wouldn't have to "suffer" so much on planes. And I'm pretty sure those people so full of entitlement to their maximum amount of space would rather sit behind someone like me who will keep their seat up as a courtesy than someone like them who won't.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Career Without Apology

I have a lot of half-written posts right now. Most concern the investigation- the after-effects, our thoughts on the appeal, and reflections on how it has changed everything and nothing about us as parents. I also want to write about CPS doctors in general, ours specifically, and how I think the system isn't helping those who need it and hurting those who don't. But I'm having a very hard time getting those words down- maybe I need more distance, maybe I need more therapy, I'm not sure. But they'll get done someday because I think they need to. Until then, I'll be writing about other random stuff and updating everyone on Landon's increasingly bizarre medical file. And so, without further ado:

At the suggestion of PT-LawMom I ordered Pink magazine- you can get 2 free issues, so I figured I'd try it out and at least I'd have two new things to read at the gym. Well, I have yet to go to the gym, but I love the magazine. It's smart and about real women balancing serious careers. It's not for working women who truly wish they were home, it's for women who love what they do and do it well. And I don't think any other magazine speaks to them (us? I hope to be in that group someday). It talks about being a working mom, but many of the articles are for women in general- how to manage finances, investing for retirement, asserting yourself at work, how women lead teams differently then men (notice the word "lead" - it assumes many of the women reading this are bosses and I like that), etc. Anyway, one article that really struck me was the "My Time" column which features a female at the top of her career path and gives a "day in her life" time line.

The "My Time" this month is an interview with Julie Greenwald, president of Atlantic Records. She leaves at 9am after breakfast with her two kids and gets home around 11:30pm. For the 11:30 entry she said "I sneak into my house, look at my BlackBerry and answer as many e-mails as possible. My family sees me only in the morning and on the weekends. My husband is the most understanding man on Earth."

What I liked about that quote is that it isn't tempered with anything. Plenty of male CEO's work those kinds of hours and you can read interviews with them in Fortune and Forbes (and like most of those men, Ms. Greenwald has a stay at home spouse). But when female execs are interviewed it seems like they almost have to refer to their children and how much time they get to spend with them- as if they know everyone is wondering about that and they need to prove they're still good moms, when the article is supposed to be about their business success. I'm not praising Ms. Greenwald's schedule- it wouldn't work for me, but you can't be a president without putting in a lot of hours and I appreciate that she's up front about that. I think that if she must be judged, it would be a step forward if she's judged as a working parent rather than a working mom. I'm definitely looking forward to future issues of this magazine.

One Day He'll Win the Lottery

After worrying about his coughing all weekend, we were finally able to get Landon to the pediatrician yesterday morning. The nurse saw his wheezing and retractions (a sign of respiratory distress when the baby is pulling the chest in at the ribs below the breastbone), and immediately got an oxygen saturation reading- it was 93%, definitely too low. The doctor came in and diagnosed him with tracheomalacia, an "extremely rare" disorder where the windpipe is floppy and closes completely after each breath, making it harder for him to take the next one. In Landon's case, the extra mucous in his respiratory system because of a little cold (he's had a runny nose) created a terrible, choking-like cough as the trachea collapsed on the mucous. Which is why the cough sounded so awful even though he didn't seem very sick (no fever, no change in temperament). She said it usually resolves by 18-24 months of age, but in rare cases requires surgery to place a stent in the trachea to keep it open.

He had two albuterol breathing treatments which did NOT go over well. I think the mask freaked him out, but at least all the crying made him inhale it well- his oxygen saturation was back up to 99% when we left. We now have an albuterol inhaler with an aerochamber to give him every 4 hours for the next two days and then every 6 hours until his retracting improves. He's also on the steroid prednisone for 5 days. He seems much better today and only coughed a few times last night. I'm so glad to know what's going on, and I'm even more glad it's not some serious respiratory infection I found during my late night googling, but man- how many more "uncommon" disorders can this kid have? He's five months old and was born a healthy weight at 36 weeks but still had RDS and de-satting episodes for 12 days, he had an undescended testicle, then digestive problems with everything but alimentum formula, then he had severe acid reflux, then unexplained chest fractures, then a mysterious bump over his eyebrow (that appointment is on Thursday), and now tracheomalacia. Some of those are more unusual than others- but all in one 5-month old baby?

As Maya said when I told her the latest, "someday he'll have something rare that's good!"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

5 Months!

I wanted to do a whole post about what Landon's doing at 5 months old, but my sister is here and things are busy, so maybe I'll write something for 5.5. Until then, a few pictures of the little big boy (as his grandpa calls him):

Playing with his special friend, Bonnie the cowgirl.

The rare tummy time smile.

Eating some squash and cereal in the big boy high chair.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Friends have asked me if being a mom has changed me and I kept saying that I didn't think so. Maybe in subtle ways, but I didn't feel a big transformation when Landon was put in my arms.

But this morning "Cold Mountain" is on TV and I just watched the scene where Natalie Portman's baby is put on the ground, uncovered in the freezing cold, to get her to tell some roaming Union soldiers where she's hidden food. She's crying and saying her baby is sick and shaking and oh my god, I thought I was going to throw up. I had such a deep, physical reaction to that scene that it shocked me. I don't even remember it from the first time I saw the movie. I know it's fake, but I had tears in my eyes and was holding out my hands to pick up that baby and make him warm.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Airplane Etiquette

To the person in the middle seat in front of me:

When the woman behind you has a baby in her lap and two bags in her one cubic foot of leg space because the flight is overbooked with business travelers and their giant carry-ons, have a bit of courtesy and KEEP YOUR SEAT BACK IN ITS FULL UPRIGHT POSITION. Did you notice that I couldn't move once your seat encroached upon my 15 inches of personal space already compromised by a squirming infant? I would have enjoyed kicking the back of your chair, but it was no longer possible for me to move my legs. Airplanes are crowded and uncomfortable, but we can all work together to make the experience a little better for the person behind us if we just keep the seat back up. If you do it again, karma is going to put your ass in the last row window seat behind a person reclining their seat to the maximum extent possible. You're not claustrophobic, are you?

Lag Liv

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Letter Quandry

The flight to DC went quite well- over 300 were canceled out of O'Hare yesterday, but ours got out only an hour and a half late. Landon was a perfect travel companion. He sat quietly during our lunch at the airport Chili's, had a big poop before we boarded the plane, slept for an hour, and then smiled at everyone on board for the last 40 minutes. At one point we had all 3 flight attendants crowded around our seats fawning over him- he's such a flirt, giving them sideways glances and little coy smiles. After landing we cabbed it to the hotel, admired our fancy room (the shower is incredible- lots of sprayers, including ones in the middle of the wall- someday I will own a shower like this), and then spent 30 minutes reconfiguring the room to fit 3 suitcases, a stroller, a crib, the desk, other furniture, and the king sized bed. After some serious rearranging we loaded Landon into the stroller and went out to find dinner. We ended up at a scrumptious Mexican place in Dupont Circle with very tasty frozen margaritas (if you haven't noticed, I rate Mexican restaurants purely on the frozen margaritas- because if they do a good job there, the food really doesn't matter). It would have been a perfect day if Landon hadn't projectile spit up all over his crib, our comforter, the floor, my shoes, and JP's shirt before going to bed, but you can only ask for so much.

JP's parents picked the little guy up this morning and now I'm trying to accomplish things in the room while JP attends his meetings. My to-do list includes: research how to clear a stale mechanic's lien for dad, download the Texas bar application (apparently it's due Jan. 30- what?!), respond to lots of emails, type up address labels for Christmas cards, write the Christmas letter, and create Shutterfly photo albums for JP's parent's Christmas present. I dissected the crazy Texas property code and got the lien question answered for my dad, so I'm moving on to the Christmas letter. Now, I know a lot of people who mock the Christmas letter, saying it's just a way to brag and make your family sound better than the recipient's, but I love them. One of my favorite things about Christmas is reading the letters my family receives from relatives and old friends. Before facebook and blogs they offered one of the only ways to keep up with that group of people whose lives were closely intertwined with yours for a time, like college roomates and old coworkers, that you may no longer stay in regular contact with, but you still want to know how their lives have progressed. I hope that I'll get letters from college and law school friends because I really do want to know if/when they have kids and what they're doing in their careers in 10 and 20 years. Checking the mailbox is so much fun around the holidays and it's such a letdown when someone just sends a card with their signature- I want pictures and information! And, as a personal benefit, they're a great way to document your life. I made a scrapbook for my parent's 25th wedding anniversary and the most fun quotes in there were taken from old Christmas letters. So, in conclusion, written properly and with the intent to update rather than brag, I think the letter is an important part of the holiday card.

But what on Earth do I include this year? Almost everyone on my Christmas list knows about our 2+ month nightmare, and it did dominate the last quarter of the year, so it seems odd not to refer to it at all. But writing: "And in October, Landon was ripped from our arms and taken to a shelter while child abuse allegations swirled around [JP] and I..." just doesn't match my cheery holiday stationary. I suppose it's a sign of how blessed we are- that we've never had to wonder how to address bad events when summarizing the preceding year. I think I'll say something about how the challenges of the past few months have reminded us of the importance of family and friends... or something. I just can't not acknowledge the investigation at all, but I also don't want to mention it so cryptically that someone who doesn't know is intrigued and confused. Hmmm... maybe I'll start with the Shutterfly albums- playing with pictures of Landon photos is so much fun and I already miss the little fellow.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Bright Side

As I pack for our flight to DC tomorrow, I'm definitely seeing the bright side of not flying home for Christmas. The packing logistics are almost overwhelming- and I'm not dealing with presents and saving space for bringing more stuff back. Gone are the days of throwing some clothes in a suitcase, grabbing a magazine or two, and heading for the airport. Traveling with a 4.5 month old is much more complicated. The carry-ons are carefully filled with everything needed to support us for 24 hours without back-up: toys, Landon's favorite peek-a-boo book, his spit rags/blankeys, a wardrobe change for JP and I, two wardrobe changes for Landon, more diapers than he could possibly use, and enough formula and bottles for two days. (The forecast shows freezing and snow tomorrow, so a long airport or runway delay is grimly realistic.) The logistics are made more complicated by the fact that Landon will be with us in the hotel Tuesday night and then staying with JP's parents in Maryland Wednesday and Thursday nights, so his stuff needs to be separate and ready to go in his grandma and grandpa's car Wednesday morning. (Oh yes, we get a hotel room to ourselves for TWO nights- just think of the sleep, the glorious, uninterrupted dreams we will be able to have- and the sex, but oh my god the SLEEP!) I've been trying to think of everything we need to feed, clothe, bathe, and entertain a Landon overnight in a hotel room, but I'm sure I'm forgetting things.

This trip is for JP's annual company meeting and holiday party. His firm's headquarters is in DC so they fly everyone out for the event. I've missed the last two because I always had a final on the day of the party. This year, my last chance to go, our finals ended a few days early- and since JP's parents live right outside the city, Landon's existence didn't even stand in my way. I have a gorgeous dress (I found some non-obtrusive band-aids to cover the stitches), even more gorgeous shoes, and a hot date. We're all about escapism right now and this is going to be a fun few days away.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Decking our Halls

For the first time in my life, I will not be at my parent's house for Christmas. The holidays were divided early on in the pregnancy: JP and I would visit Houston for Thanksgiving and the baptism and his parents would come to Chicago for Landon's first Christmas (we never pretended it was about seeing us- it was all about who got to see the baby when). We spent out first two married Christmases with my parents, so it was JP's family's turn, and we really wanted to avoid packing up the presents and dealing with the inevitable airport delays. JP is an only child, so we knew it would be easy for his family to come to us. I'm excited to be in Chicago over the holidays- it's our last one here and the city is so beautiful right now, but it's going to be a little sad to not be home.

My family has always celebrated Christmas alone with just the five of us. Most of my friends find that strange- their Christmas is all about big family gatherings and all the fun and stress that comes with them, but I cherished our little Christmas. As a kid I loved our special family traditions: dressing up and eating a prime rib Christmas Eve dinner in the dining room, taking turns reading the Bible story, going to the 7:00 church service, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, and then going home to open presents. The present-opening had its traditions too: wearing cozy pj's, listening to our favorite Christmas albums (A Sesame Street Christmas and Raffi's Christmas album were huge), eating popcorn and sugar cookies, sitting on the floor around the tree, and taking turns opening each present. On Christmas morning I always woke up first and had the arduous task of rousing my younger sister (my little brother would help). We'd yell downstairs to our parents that we were ready to see what Santa brought, and then we'd sit at the top of the steps and wait for my mom to get ready and Dad to try (and usually fail) to get the ancient video camera up and working. After waiting for forever we'd finally be allowed to run downstairs to look at our gifts (my mom hates wrapping presents and interestingly, so did Santa, so our Santa presents were just out in the open). Our stockings always contained an orange, chapstick, and a toothbrush, among other little things, and we got one big gift each and a few family ones like movies and games to share. My dad always took us out to the driveway to see if Santa brought him a boat (and when I was really little, I couldn't understand why Santa didn't bring him one. He had been so good!). Christmas wasn't huge, but the Santa gift was always something exciting that we had waited and hoped for. We'd eat a big breakfast (complete with more Christmas cookies) and then play with our toys. As we got older and the toys didn't lend themselves to playing as easily, we'd go see a movie in the afternoon. Almost all of my mom's family lives in areas surrounding Houston so we'd often see some aunts, uncles, cousins, and/or grandparents at some point on the 25th or 26th. It was nice to see family over the holidays while keeping Christmas Eve and morning to ourselves. I think that's what I would like to do as JP and my family grows. My memories of Christmas are so happy and relaxed, and when JP and I are two full-time working parents, that is going to be lovely.

So that was a nice though unintended trip down memory lane... now back to the point: Christmas will be at our apartment this year with JP's parents and grandmother and I realized we didn't own a single Christmas item. Since we're moving to Austin over the summer I didn't want to buy nice stuff that may or may not work in our future home, so I thought we'd go fun and cheap. I bought an adorable 3 foot tree to go on the table, some multi-colored blinking lights (that I would normally hate but Landon is going to love), garland to string over the fireplace to pretend we have a mantle, and mini stockings to hang on the garland. We now have Christmas candy in a Christmas candy dish and little red bows attached to a makeshift Christmas-card basket. There are Christmas songs queued up on iTunes and I am going to try baking my mom's Christmas cookies. It will be different, and it might be a little sad (ok, I'm already tearing up just thinking about not being home, so maybe more than a little), but it's going to be special in its own way. We're together as a family (something that means even more than I imagined) and starting our own traditions. I think growing up is done in pieces, and this is just another one. Hopefully someday Landon will talk about our Christmas traditions with the same love and nostalgia that I feel for mine

Baby Santa

We took Landon to our friend's holiday party last night.

The wee Santa was a big hit!

Friday, December 7, 2007

7 Quarters Down, 2 To Go

Well, it's done. I think I did fine- I'm guessing just below the median (B-). I finished reading my notes around midnight last night and stopped bothering to transfer them into my outline around 11 since transferring is really all I was doing at that point. The exam had three fairly straightforward essays. You knew immediately what area of the law they were concerned with and it was just a matter of figuring out how to structure the response and what info and cases to fill in. I found myself staring at the wall and checking email a lot- it wasn't that I had so much extra time, I just wasn't that concerned. I knew I had something to write down and I knew that it would get down before time was called, I just wanted time to speed up and get it over with. I think about how hyped up I used to get for finals and feel rather pathetic. Or smarter. Think of all the energy I used to waste for pretty much the same grade.

And so ends another quarter. I enjoyed International Law and I wish I could have focused on it more. I enjoyed my seminar on Complex Business Transactions and I wish I could have kept my other two classes. I have no idea what I'm taking next quarter, but I'll figure it out before classes start on Jan. 3. Now it's time to catch up on a few emails, pick up Landon for some quality play time, and just relax at home. Oh- and I have two papers to write from past classes that I never completed. Not sure when I'll do those. Anyway, I'm happy this quarter is over and time is moving on.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Year Ago Today...

... I was sitting in the law library trying to study for my four finals when it dawned on me that I might be pregnant. Once the possibility entered my head I couldn't focus enough to study so I went home to take a test. And it was positive! (I had just started my blog and no one read it or knew about it- not even JP- so I wasn't worried about telling the internet world before I told my own husband.) We were so excited that night. We knew we were embarking on a pretty amazing ride- and that most of the time we wouldn't be the ones driving- but we certainly never expected the amazing highs and devastating lows of the past year. He's worth it, a thousand times over, but wow... I wonder if we would have been so eager to start a family if we knew how little control we'd have over our lives from that point forward!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Le Baptism

Because I can't really focus on International Law while waiting for our lawyer to call with the results of the DCFS expert determination, I thought I'd post a picture of the baptismal outfit. As I wrote earlier, we weren't sure we'd be able to fly to Houston, so I never bought anything for the baptism. Landon was supposed to wear JP's baptismal suit, but his head and belly were too big. His godmother offered to buy him one and this was the adorable result:

He also had white knee socks and little white sneakers, but all the pictures on Sunday feature JP and I too prominently to post them. This picture was taken Wednesday when he was modeling the different options. Thank goodness he seems to really like having clothes put on him- there was a lot of pulling stuff over the head going on that day!

The baptism itself was really wonderful. It was performed by the same Pastor who baptized a few of my cousins, confirmed me and my siblings, and married JP and I. Landon was perfect during the church service right up to the point we had to come up to the front for the ceremony. He then decided he was starving and proceeded to tell the entire congregation about it. Luckily, the water that was eventually poured over the top of his head distracted him from his hunger and he gave everyone a giant smile. He's totally going to be a swimmer- he loves water. He listened carefully to the children's message (we were in the front pew, so he was able to see all the little kids up close- he was probably relieved to discover he wasn't the only mini person in the world) and never made a peep during the sermon.

I realized how much I've missed my old church. We've been bad about finding one here in Chicago. This is partly because I was spoiled by my amazing church back home which my family has attended since it was founded in the commons area of a local middle school. It's Lutheran, but a very contemporary Lutheran (the church "band" has electric guitars and a drummer) and I haven't found anything that fits me nearly as well. The other reason (or excuse) is that 1L was so demanding I didn't really have time and now we're just in the habit of sleeping in on Sunday morning. JP grew up Catholic and attended Catholic school until college. He's not particularly religious, so he's fine with us not being Catholic or raising our kids in the Catholic church, but he's also not going to be the one out finding an alternative. Once we get to Austin I really want to try harder to find a church home. I think it's important for kids and I miss it for myself. Some of my best friends today were in my Sunday School classes back in elementary school and I loved the Sunday morning church routine growing up (if we got up for the 8am service, that routine involved donuts). Beyond the spiritual aspect, it's also just the best way to meet other young families and offers an amazing support system for whatever life throws at you. And life can throw some pretty crazy stuff.

Exams, Round 7

Yesterday was the last class of my last Fall quarter. I'm a little sad- I feel like I've completely missed it. I'm only in two classes, one of which is a seminar where our final is to be treated by our professor to brunch at The Peninsula hotel tomorrow. So I'm not too worried about that one. My other class, International Law, has a real final in 8 days. I haven't read for this class since October 3rd, the night before all this drama started. I did make myself attend, so I have pretty good notes- even if I have no idea what they mean. For the first time this quarter I am in the library. I'm surrounded by my casebook, course packet, printed-out class notes, laptop, and a big cup of tea. I am ready to begin acting like a real law student and trying to care about this exam.

And the person in the library carrel next to me is snoring. Rather loudly. If this was JP at night I'd be hitting him in the arm, ordering him to wake up, informing him of the offensive snoring, and then making him roll over. (Yes, I could just make him roll over without the waking, but I feel he should be aware that I'm not sleeping). However, I don't know this person, so I'm pretty sure I can't hit him in the arm. Argh! Snoring has got to be one of the most grating noises in the world. Maybe I'll take an early lunch and when I return, he'll be up from his nap.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I adore margaritas. Actually, I adore tequila, and margaritas are a convenient way of delivering it. JP's birthday was largely overshadowed by the fact that we had just gotten Landon home from the shelter and were terrified of what else DCFS may do to us. Our lives may still be in DCFS's oh so incompetent hands, but my parents sent JP and I out for a belated birthday celebration tonight while they babysat. We went to a very delicious Mexican place where our bar bill far exceeded our food bill- in the words of my grandpa, "that's a successful evening out!". JP and I were able to dress up, drink, flirt, eat, talk, and drink a little more. And because you can't go anywhere in my hometown without running into at least 3 people you know, I ran into seven at the restaurant. It was wonderful to see familiar, caring, and supportive faces. It was a great night for us.

The day was good too. Mom and I left the boys at home and went shopping. We had a terribly successful Marshalls trip- terrible as in, we found way too many "so perfect I had to buy them" items. I found not one, but two, dresses to wear on Sunday, a gorgeous pair of black leather boots that mom bought me as a Christmas present, a super cute sweater, and a pair of black pinstriped capris that I can wear to work (my new test for whether or not I can buy a new piece of clothing: can I wear it to work?). The marvelous thing about Marshalls is the capris were Limited, fit perfectly, and only cost $14.99. The two dresses were over $100 regular price, around $60 Marshall's price, and on clearance for less than $40. I love that store. Someday when I'm a lawyer and not a student living off loans, I wonder if I'll stop shopping at places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Ross. I kind of hope not- I get beautiful clothes for amazing prices. But shopping there takes time and patience- two things I may have in short supply as a BigLaw working mom. We'll see. I hope I never think $200 is an acceptable amount to spend on a single piece of clothing. Landon's godmother brought over an adorable Christening outfit complete with white knee socks and shoes, so we're all set for Sunday. Our family portraits turned out great yesterday. We spent way too much- they must love the new parents that come in with their babies. The little guy totally hammed it up for the camera. He finds flashes hilarious, so there were some good smiles.

Well, I think I've managed to type a coherent blog post after drinking two giant top shelf margaritas and while watching Die Hard 4. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Our flight was delayed by three hours, Landon didn't sleep At All, and we ended up with nine pieces of luggage (not counting Landon himself), but we're here! While the little guy did not have any interest in sleeping at the airport or on the plane, he behaved pretty well. We had two seats in the bulkhead and the woman next to me was very nice about Landon occasionally squirming his way into her personal space. It was about a million degrees on the plane, which made having a furnace of a baby in your lap for over 2 hours all that much more fun, but we survived. Landon cried a few times, but there were other kids making more noise than him so I don't think we weren't the most hated parents on the trip. He's now asleep upstairs with my old monitor beside him. I'm pretty sure that chunky old Fisher Price model one works better than the fancy one JP and I have now.

It's so nice being home. We moved to this house from L.A. in 1988 a few weeks before my little brother was born. I was 5 and almost all my memories were made here. It will be devastating when my parents move someday. Getting married, moving across the country, and starting my own family haven't changed the wonderful feeling of "coming home" that I get when we pull in the driveway.

Texas Bound

I don't think I've ever looked forward to heading down to Texas more. It's like a sanctuary from our DCFS-ridden lives in Chicago. I was up late last night packing- it's a whole new ballgame now that we have Landon along for the trip. There's bottles, wash cloths, bibs, blanket, toys, and clothes to think about. His outfit selection process was much more involved than my own. He has so many cute things and we're planning to have family portraits done tomorrow morning at a place recommended by a commenter, so I had to figure out our casual and holiday ensembles. Very tricky- you want to blend together without being too matchy-matchy. JP couldn't understand the dilemma and suggested outfits that would have clashed horribly. Packing for me is always tough because I have way too many shoes, necklaces, earrings, etc. It's very hard to only pack one pair of black heels for 4 different outfits when I have others that would be even more perfect for certain tops, but I sacrificed for the suitcase space. Another layer of difficulty was added by my lack of a baptism outfit. Mom and I looked as hard as we could, but it's impossible to find a young-looking, church appropriate dress right now. It's either holiday cocktail dresses or super matronly shapeless ones. I'm 24, not the grandmother of the bride. So we're going to look in Texas- but this means I need to bring a few extra pairs of shoes and some jewelry just in case I find something that doesn't match the shoes I brought. Do you see the challenge?!

Anyway, all that is left to do is arrange our carry-ons. Our carry-on list includes: Landon, his gate-checked car seat and stroller, my purse, his diaper bag, and another bag with my laptop, JP's magazines, Landon's extra clothes, and extra tops for JP and I. It almost seemed excessive until I realized that if Landon were to spit up or have an explosive diaper, the ejected materials would be all over us and we (and whoever gets stuck next to us) will be very grateful for the change of clothing. I'm hoping Landon will sleep on the plane, but he's been doing this thing where he screams and cries right before falling asleep. I'm sure the other passengers could do without that little routine (as could we). Oh, well, we'll do our best. We have the bulkhead, it's only a 2.5 hour flight, and Landon is so cute maybe people won't send too many evil glares our way.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Baby Milestone: Starting Solids!

Tonight was the night to attempt spoon feeding with rice cereal.
Landon was ready to go.

He took to it better than expected.

Mmmmm tasty!

Everyday Things

I keep writing about the investigation- and it's definitely the biggest thing in our lives- but there's so many every day things that are missing in my posts. So I'm going to ignore the whole "my child was taken by DCFS and we still don't know what's happening with our case" thing and share a few of the more superficial but happy things that I would have been blogging about during the past month and a half.

Like despite the fact that the gym regime I started on Sept 24th came to a screeching halt on October 4th, I fit into my smallest pre-pregnancy jeans (that didn't actually fit before I was pregnant) about a month ago. Very exciting. My stomach is still not the same, but the 4's fit and I'm quite happy about that. I can finally reclaim my wardrobe- which all feels very new after not wearing it for a year.

JP got an interview for UT's MBA program- even more exciting! He's meeting with an alum in Chicago for the interview and then we're hoping to hear back from the school before the end of the year. The application process was very stressful (applying to b-school is way more involved than law school where you can send the same personal statement and rec letters to everyone) and we're all hoping to get good news soon.

Landon just rolled over this morning- and he did it in both directions! The pediatrician gave us a soft scolding for not giving him more tummy time. With all the doting visitors we've had staying with us lately, he's been held 90% of the day. We're supposed to encourage a little more independent time. Mom put him on his tummy this morning and he just flipped himself over! He looked quite surprised by the new view and then gave me a big smile. He's such a cutie.

We've called the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania to get a second opinion for him. The unexplained rib fractures, cyst on his eyebrow, reflux, prematurity, breathing trouble, etc. all make it seem like something else could be going on. Our pediatrician said, "I just can't shake the feeling that we're missing something with him." I think it will be good to have an entirely new doctor (who is one of the best in the US for pediatric bone disease) review his medical records and examine him. We'll be in DC for a few days in December for JP's holiday party, so Landon and I can head over to Philadelphia during JP's day of meetings. One of the many reasons I want this investigation to end (I know, I said I wouldn't talk about it in this post) is so that we can finally put all our emotional, physical, and financial resources into figuring out what's going on with Landon rather than defending ourselves. OK, back to superficial...

Mom, Landon, and I are about to go downtown for some shopping. We need to get Landon a baptismal outfit (he's being baptized the Sunday after Thanksgiving in the church JP and I got married in) and a dress for his mommy to wear. I had previously been afraid to shop in case we weren't allowed to go and now there isn't much time. Landon was supposed to wear JP's baptismal outfit, but his head is so big we couldn't get it on. I don't think there would have been room for The Belly either. Too bad because JP's little white suit was adorable and had obvious sentimental value. Oh well, just gives me an excuse to buy him something new. I love shopping for baby clothes- they're so inexpensive compared to big people clothes, I don't have to try them on, and he doesn't protest my selections like his dad does. Such an agreeable fellow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

4 Months!

Landon is 4 months old today. Mom (new Safety Person, she flew in this morning before dad flew out) and I took Landon to the pediatrician for his check-up. He received 4 shots, which made him Very Angry, and some new stats:
  • Length: 24.5 inches, 25th percentile
  • Weight: 15.5 lbs, 50th percentile
  • Head: can't remember the measurement, 75th percentile
So we have a short, slightly pudgy baby with a large head. The perfect proportions for cuteness! I love that his head waited until after he was born to move up percentiles. At delivery it was only in the 25th percentile (thank god), but now, I'm sure due to JP reading Landon the Economist and Newsweek each night, it's gone way up!

Landon seemed to be retracting a little when he breathed laying down so the pediatrician gave us a prescription for an inhaler. She said to wait to fill it if he starts coughing along with the retracting, but labored breathing is why he was in the NICU so it's definitely something she wants us to keep an eye on. In other prescription news, we're going to try a few days without the reflux medications. I've forgotten his Prevacid the last two days and he's done well (he still drinks formula thickened with rice, and that was the change that helped him the most). The doctor said that reflux often starts resolving itself around 4 months, so it's a good time to test how much he needs the meds. We also got some more proof that Landon is a medical mystery in a very cute package. He has had a bump on his eyebrow bone for about three months. At first it was quite small, firm, and not at all tender, so we just thought it was a little cyst that would resolve itself. The pediatrician didn't even notice it at his 2-month check-up and I forgot to ask. (I did ask about it several times in the hospital, but since it was unrelated to the alleged child-abuse injuries, no one was interested in solving the problem.) The bump must have gotten bigger because she noticed it immediately this time and was somewhat concerned. She is going to refer us to a plastic surgeon to have it removed (more hospital time for the little guy) and then sent to pathology. I don't think she thinks it's serious, but she definitely wants it out- soon.

Solids (well, semi-solids) are going to be a new addition to Landon's life. He adjusted fine to the thickened formula, so rice cereal shouldn't be a problem for his tummy. Eating it off a spoon may be a challenge, but it should be good for a few pictures. He did great during the whole check-up and was very flirty with his doctor. He now loves being naked and gives you big smiles the whole time his clothes are off- I think his giant belly likes to be free. The pediatrician was dismayed, though not surprised, to hear we are still in the midst of this investigation (update on that coming tomorrow- no real news, just more frustration). It's been a crazy four months- parenthood has definitely taken me in directions I never previously imagined- but Landon is the light of our lives and hopefully this dark cloud will pass soon(ish).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tagging After All

After saying I wasn't going to tag people on the "7 Things" meme, I've decided to do so after all. Being tagged makes me feel special, so if the request to fill out the meme makes you feel anything other than that, please disregard it.

First, a few of the many new blogs I've found through the comments on my Nightmare posts:

1. Nini at Dear Diary, to distract her while researching renter's rights
2. Denora, because she already took the initiative
3. Someone Being Me, because it turns out we share a baptismal link
4. el-e-e, to help her out during NaBloPoMo

And a few people I've read for a long time:

5. Magic Cookie, because she's having blogger's block and maybe this will help
6. Citations, because I always enjoy what she writes
7. Transmogriflaw, because she was the first blog I ever read and her archives helped me survive two quarters of crim law

So, enjoy! I found it surprisingly difficult to think of 7 random things about myself- although, I just thought of a #8, which I'll put down as a bonus since I didn't follow the meme properly the first time around.

8. I always pronounce "photographer" "photo-grapher" in my head (and occasionally out loud). It's a complete mental block and no amount of knowing the correct way to say the word fixes the problem. Because I was a fast reader as a kid, I read far beyond my actual grade level. This meant I was introduced to words in books long before I was introduced to them in speech- there are many, many words I said wrong in my head for years before learning the proper pronunciation. Photographer just seems to be the only one I can't mentally correct.

Monday, November 12, 2007

7 Things

Elizabeth and Moo tagged me and I can't think of anything to write except what you've already heard 100 times before: I hate being in limbo, I hate what's happened to our little family, and I hate that I don't even feel enough emotion to be upset about it. So, how about 7 Things?

Here's the meme info:
- Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. 7 is my favorite number and 21 is my second favorite number. For some reason I have always loved the fact that 3 x 7 = 21. It just seemed like a surprising multiplication fact when I learned it.

2. I am an obsessive researcher. It now makes me uncomfortable to have to go to a restaurant before I can look up the reviews and menu online. I hate it when hotel websites don't have pictures of the rooms. I wonder what it was like when you couldn't learn every detail about destination before you went- I don't think I'd like it.

3. I adore lists. I frequently do something and then write it down just so I can cross it off. I bought a palm pilot when they first came out, but I abandoned it after a few weeks- checking a box just wasn't as satisfying as crossing something off. On a related note, I also get great pleasure from crossing out a day when it's over and this is why I still use a planner instead of Outlook or Google calendar.

4. I was the fastest woman ever to swim across the Hudson River in 2000. I was a senior in high school and flew to New York with my best friend to swim the "Race for MS" across a 3-mile section of the Hudson. It was freezing, long, and a little scary (although I did have a kayaker next to me). I placed third overall, first for the women, and broke the previous record. I was interviewed by Meredith Viera and I think I was on TV somewhere. The day after the race my friend and I toured NYC. I still have my ticket for the top of the World Trade Center- it was Sept 11, 2000.

5. I grew up taking camping trips with my family and definitely want to do the same with my kids. It's the best kind of family time and a wonderful way to see the country.

6. Because of the camping, we almost never flew in airplanes or stayed in hotels. Now, even after years of frequent flying, I still get excited to fly on a plane and dress up for the ride. I feel the same way about hotels.

7. I am terrified of moths and have no idea why. I've had nightmares where one landed on me while I was sleeping and I spend the whole night tensed and too scared to move. I wake up sore and realize there was never a moth in the room at all.

This was a hard meme, it's must easier to answer questions. It took me two days to think of 7 things to write about myself- odd since I post nearly every day and the posts are filled with things about me. I don't think I'll tag anyone specifically, but if you want to do it- or you need to distraction from law school and/or life- please do!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Couldn't Help It

I know I've already posted pictures, but this one makes me laugh every time I look at it. A lobster clutching a blankey and eating his own leg- it kills me. I want to drive home, scoop him up, and hug him tight.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


The MPRE was not good.

Last night was not good either. At 10:30pm I panicked about my lack of a passport sized photo. I printed out my firm mug shot from the summer, but then I noticed the admission ticket said: "photocopies of photographs will not be accepted." Well, what does that mean?! It's not a copy, it's color, and it's clear, but it's not glossy. I decided if I was going to drag my ass out of bed in the morning I was not going to be turned away because of my lack of a glossy picture. I googled "MPRE photo" and a post from Ms. JD came to the rescue. It pointed me to a site called where you upload a picture of yourself and the site creates a 4x6 picture with six 2x2 inch passport photos. You can download the image, send it to, and pick it up 1 hour later for 21 cents. So I got home from Walgreens around 11 and decided I needed to read all 150 pages of the bar/bri MPRE book. I finished that around 1:30am. Landon woke up a little after 2 and then every few hours after that. Luckily JP got up with him, but in a 2-bedroom apartment, we're all up with him in spirit. When my alarm went off this morning I don't think I've ever felt so tired. I took the el downtown, read my outline on the way, and sat down at my desk ready to consider this a practice for the March exam.

And I think it might have been. It's not that the test is hard, it's just bad. There were so many questions where I could have written in the rule of professional conduct that governed the fact pattern, but none of the choices seemed to fit. In at least 40 of the 60 questions I narrowed it down to 2 (and sometimes even 3) answers that I absolutely could not choose between- and sometimes they were very different answers. My multiple choice testing skills were useless. I actually counted up all the A's, B's, C's, and D's at the end and tried to even things out a little with the few I just couldn't pick answers for. I was so exhausted I got up twice just to walk around and run my hands under cold water. "Bleah" pretty well sums up the experience.

So we'll see. It's quite possible that I passed and it's quite possible that I didn't- it depends how many I guessed right after narrowing it down. I did laugh when I heard someone checking in to the test before me say to his friend, "Dude, you have no idea how tired I am." No, you really don't.

Friday, November 2, 2007

MPRE madness

The MPRE is in 12 hours. I have a screaming, teething baby and a bit of stress in my life due to a month-long, emotionally exhausting child abuse investigation.

I was never particularly worried about the MPRE, but it does seem like even the biggest slacker manages to read through an outline. Right now, I still have not read the outline or done a practice exam. I couldn't sleep last night (or really any night since Oct. 4th) and I just want to take a bath and go to bed. I know Landon will be up multiple times tonight because of his teeth- and his general refusal to go more than 4 hours without wanting to party with everyone in the apartment- so I hope I can force myself out of bed in time for the exam. Attendance rather than preparedness seems to be my goal for tomorrow.

I really hope I pass. I liked the comment on the last post about how the second most ethical answer is always the right one on the MPRE. I think I'll put that theory to the test.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Landon the Lobster

I haven't been able to go through all the pictures, but I had to post a few:

Making a lobster look this adorable is exhausting.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Post-Bath Snuggle

I love his expression here- I couldn't edit out myself as well as I'd like, but I figured what the hell, you all can see me smiling.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

On Childcare

Several people have asked me how we found Maya, so I thought I'd do a general post on childcare. Obviously I am not an expert, but maybe something about our thought process will be helpful to others.

What We Wanted: I was interested in a small family daycare. I knew Landon could be as young as 5 weeks when he started and I wanted someone who could give his as much individual attention as he was going to need. The fancier, more official daycare centers are very bright and look filled with fun, but he wasn't even going to be sitting up for several months and it looked like the infants mostly hung out in their cribs. I wanted someone who could (and would) hold him and interact with him.

Our Process: UChicago is about 75% graduate students and many of them have children. The school hosts a listserve for student-parents and I sent out an email requesting infant daycare recommendations. I got several responses and set up appointments to visit each one. At the visit I mostly went off gut-reaction. Was the apartment clean? Was the person warm? Did she seem excited about caring for an infant? Did she ask good questions of us? What were the hours and flexibility? What was the cost? How long had she been doing this? How many other children did she take care of? Things like accreditation and certification weren't on my list (many would disagree with that, but given that I'm not certified to be a parent, I cared more about the provider's personality and demeanor than a certificate). I also wasn't too concerned with English language skills- if we could communicate clearly, that was enough for me.

Timing: We started looking for care in April (I was due in August and needed daycare beginning at the end of September). Having a baby over the summer was very convenient because many grad students move away during those months. One of Maya's clients had received a fellowship and was moving in August so she had a spot for Landon in September. I think finding care in the middle of the year would be a little tougher because looking too far in advance would yield few results (people moving in the middle of the year may have little notice) and waiting too long would just be nerve-wracking. I think I would probably start investigating early, get several leads, and then check in again closer to the end, but someone who has dealt with the situation should definitely chime in if they have a better idea!

Our Decision: We chose Maya for several reasons. I liked her matter of fact answers to my questions- when I asked her about a daily schedule (I was just reading off a list of questions to ask that I found online) she said, "they eat, they sleep, they poop, and we play - no schedule for the little babies!". She also seemed genuinely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about babies. She asked all about the pregnancy and talked about holding our baby close so he could hear her heartbeat and get to know her during that first week. She had been operating the family daycare for 23 years and just seemed warm and competent. I called a few of her current clients and they all raved. One had her baby in Maya's care from 3 weeks to 3 years and that recommendation meant a lot to me because her daughter could now talk and tell her about her day and about Maya- Landon wouldn't be able to do that for a while. Her apartment was cozy and she had a few baby play gyms and comforters spread out on the floor with toys. She had each parent bring a play yard for their baby to sleep in and I liked that because he would know his space and I could control what was put in there (one place we visited had lots of blankets in the crib where the babies slept and that just screamed SIDS risk). Her price was $200/week for full-time (drop off between 8-9, pick up around 5, although you could always drop off later and pick up earlier) and that was on the lower end of the price spectrum of the places we looked at. One wanted $250/week and another was $300. We honestly liked Maya the best, but the lower cost was definitely a bonus. I know the infant care at daycare centers in Austin is between $1200-1350/month, so I'd imagine that's what a center is in Chicago as well.

In Practice: Before Landon's first day we brought his play yard, diapers, wipes, and a few changes of clothes for Maya to keep for him. I think supplying the diapers and wipes is pretty standard for in-home care. Each morning I make up 3 bottles and drop him off in his car seat with a little lunchbox of bottles. In the afternoon when I pick him up she hands me the lunchbox with the empty (and cleaned!) bottles with a little post-it note on each one stating when he drank it and whether he had a dirty diaper. I had not thought of that system, but it is so nice when I get home to know what his schedule was like during the day. So far things have gone very well. Landon seems happy and I sincerely believe that if he didn't like her, he would let me know. He's always happy in her arms and that makes me happy when I continue on my way to school.

In The Future: I knew I wanted a small informal daycare for Landon as an infant, but I think that we'll switch to an activity filled center after he's one, which coincides with our move to Austin. I'm already on three Austin daycare waiting lists for Sept. 2008 (a post on the absurdity of that statement might be forthcoming). I also think that when he's in elementary school it would be preferable to have a nanny so that he can come home after school and keep a schedule similar to that of his classmates with stay-at-home-moms. We would also like more kids and at some point a nanny is just more cost-effective. I think it would be nice to come home at the end of the day to a bright and busy house with the kids already there. All that said, JP was in daycare and then after-school care all the way through middle school and he loved it, so I'm sure all of this will depend on our kids, their activities, and our financial situation.

Guilt? Just a quick paragraph about this. I've already said I'm okay with the fact that Landon is in daycare while I'm in school. I also think that he's okay being separated from me during the day. At this point in our relationship, I'm pretty replaceable. He needs someone to hold him, love him, feed him, and change his diaper. My physical presence is a bonus- I think he knows who I am and together we've learned how to comfort him best- but I'm not necessary. However, I do think that at some point JP or my presence will be more important- still not so much the physical, but rather our unique thoughts and beliefs. I want JP or me to be the one the kids talk to when they've had a bad day, not the nanny, and I want time together so they can unburden their troubles whenever they randomly want to. I don't have an answer to this yet, but it's something we both think about and will have in our minds as we talk about, plan for, and live out the next several years. It's hard to admit that I struggle with all the realities of being a working mom. I feel pressured to put on a front that I'm 110% happy about the situation every second (mostly because my family is so full of doubts), but I want to be honest in this blog. The arrangement we have now is the right one for us, and we'll just keep trying to make the decisions that are best for everyone.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Worn Out

Landon has an appointment with the GI doctor on Thursday morning- I'm just hoping we can all make it until then. Yesterday Maya called around 1:30 to tell me that Landon had a terrible morning and screamed so much he turned blue. She was obviously very troubled by his behavior- she said that in 22 years of watching babies, several with reflux, she had never seen one in that much pain. She reassured me that he was fine staying with her, she just wanted me to share that observation when I called the doctor to beg her to see him as early as possible. I'm really looking forward to the appointment. So far there haven't been any tests or x-rays at his doctor or ER visits. The doctors listen to my story and all agree that it sounds like reflux. I don't necessarily disagree, I just want proof that we know what the problem is and we're doing everything we can to help him to comfort me when he's hurting so much. And I can't shake the feeling that something more is wrong. No doctor has seen him at his worst and I think they all write me off as a first-time mom who thinks the crying is worse than it is. At least now I have Maya's support that the crying (no, shrieking) really is that bad- they can't just call it colic and expect me to go home again.

I'm also just plain mad and frustrated. In the brief intervals when he's comfortable he's so adorable and SO much fun. Yesterday I stuck him in his crib for a few minutes while I folded his clothes and he rediscovered his mobile- I think it was the most exciting thing that's ever happened to him. His entire body reacted with happiness- his arms and legs were flailing about to the music and he had a giant smile on his face. It was so cute it almost made me cry- we so rarely get to see that side of him. And he so rarely gets to experience that side of himself since he's normally consumed with hurting and screaming. I missed out on his first 2 weeks because he was in the NICU and now I feel like I'm missing his first few months because of the reflux- and he's missing out on his first few months too. I don't think I'll go into the details of how hard this has been on JP and my relationship over the past few weeks. Deep down we're fine, and we know that, but on the surface things have been pretty tense. The past few days we just haven't spoken much when we're home- it's the most effective way to avoid snapping at the other.

The countdown to Thursday at 9:30am continues.

Monday, October 1, 2007

ER Conclusion

Sorry I didn't finish the ER story yesterday- when we were done I went to the law school to do a few hours of reading and catch-up (yes, catching up after only one week of class) and when I got home there was dinner to be made, a baby to be cuddled, a husband's business school essays to edit, and the season premieres of Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters to watch.

Landon is fine- he had another miraculous "recovery" the moment we were on the road to the ER and gulped down a 4 oz. bottle of formula in triage. This time the GI specialist had called ahead to tell the ER we were coming, so even though our baby looked all charming and adorable, we were still admitted immediately. The doctors did a thorough check for bowel obstructions, hernias, a UTI- anything that could explain the screaming other than reflux. Nothing came up and because we were obsessive with the Pedialyte, he wasn't dehydrated enough to require an IV, so we were left with a diagnosis of severe reflux combined with colic. Treatment: time, cuddles, and patience.

We do have a follow-up with the GI doctor sometime this week (I have to call and get an appointment this morning and have the names of two Very Important Doctors to help us get an appointment within 7 days rather than the usual 2 months). Reflux may only be cured with time, but there is definitely room to improve on his pain management. His current dosage of Prevacid just isn't enough. The docs said that reflux almost always gets worse before it gets better. I initially got excited thinking that maybe this past weekend meant he would get better soon, but they felt it was more likely that his body had quickly adjusted to the medicine and now required a stronger dose. Babies usually don't get worse until 4 months and better until 6 months. I can't even describe how far away that feels.

Luckily his sleep has been going great. We're not doing anything, he's just sleeping longer. Friday night he went six hours between his first two nighttime bottles and in the past three days he's always gone a minimum of four. We can survive for a long time on four hour intervals.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

In My Shopping Bag

Walgreens, 10pm last night:

- Unflavored Pedialyte: to rehydrate our screaming baby who had been on a hunger strike for the past 12 hours
- Fruit Flavored Pedialyte: in case Landon rejected the unflavored variety and we needed to sweeten the deal
- Enfamil Nutramigen: in case the problem was our formula
- Dark Chocolate M&M's: because getting drunk wasn't going to help the situation

Yesterday Landon screamed for a solid 12 hours. By 8pm he had only eaten 6 ounces and looked like he was in almost constant pain. At 9pm, worried that he was going to get dehydrated, and at a total loss on how to make him feel better, I called the pedatric GI office number. I expected to go through some automated stuff, leave a message, and finally hear back from a doctor- instead I was transferred directly to the on-call doctor. Apparently having the number of a specialist makes you some kind of VIP. Anyway, the on-call doc suggested we give him an additional half-dose of Prevacid, some Tylenol, and buy some Pedialyte. He took 3 ounces of Pedialyte, enough to make him sleep, and JP and I collapsed in bed. At 2am we tried to give him formula again (hoping the extra dose of Prevacid would have helped the reflux) but he freaked out and refused all liquids. At 6am he took some more Pedialyte, and at 10am he was refusing everything and screaming. We called the GI doc again and she said to head to the ER. So that's where we are- again. And he's now smiling at me from his dad's lap. Again.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Reflections on the First Week

Today ends the first week of a lifetime of balancing work and family, and I can only hope that the future is full of weeks as good as this one. The mornings, drop-offs, and pick-ups all went smoothly and Landon was a "very good boy" for Maya during the day. Despite many warnings to the contrary, I'm okay with the fact that Landon and I are separated during the day. After a few too many conversations with people telling me that "it was okay to be sad," I wanted to respond "I know that, but you need to be okay with the fact that I'm not." It was almost as though they needed me to admit I was sad to fit into their idea of what a good mother should be, and that made me sad.

I'm excited when I go pick Landon up, and there's a smile on both our faces when he's in my arms again, but I don't actively miss him during the day. I can focus on my classes (all of which I really like this quarter), my friends, and my work because I know he's in Maya's warm and competent hands, and then I can go home and focus on him. The first day I brought him home I was happy, and almost relieved, to find how much I enjoyed him. I felt guilty while I was staying home because I spent so much time just wishing he would go to sleep. I resented the nagging feeling that I wasn't doing enough to stimulate his brain and promote language development (or whatever the parenting magazines say you're supposed to be doing). We weren't singing enough, reading enough, or interacting enough- it was worse than the pressure of law school hanging over my head before exams. There were days I'd get in bed and want to do the day over so that I would play with him more, but the next day would come and I'd go right back to wanting him to sleep so that I could accomplish things like brushing my teeth and eating breakfast. I hated that I was wishing away his babyhood- especially since everyone tells you how fast it goes and how much you should enjoy it.

I now know for certain what I had always predicted: I need a family and a career. So many people told me "just wait until you have a baby, you might change your mind." I understand why they said that, but I don't think that having a baby fundamentally changes who you are. It can certainly cause you to adjust your priorities and modify career plans, but the things you've wanted and worked for your whole life don't just stop mattering.

So things are good. There will be days when it's not good, but right now JP is happy, I'm happy, and Landon is happy. This is the right balance for us right now.