Sunday, November 26, 2006


We had a good Thanksgiving. We were going to make our own Thanksgiving dinner but then our neighbor invited us to Thanksgiving dinner with her and her daughter, son-in-law, and their kids; and her son, visiting from Atlanta. We had been over to their place a few weeks ago for dinner, and they were pretty nice, so we accepted. I brought rolls, since, as I indicated before, I really enjoy baking rolls. The dinner was delicious, and the company was very nice.

The next-door neighbor is friends with two of my colleagues at work. Her husband was their softball coach or something like that. She's also a lawyer, and whenever we get around to it, we're going to have her make up our will.

As it turns out, it was a good thing we went over to the neighbor's, or we might not have had any turkey at all, because our turkey was still frozen as of yesterday (despite being in the fridge thawing since Monday).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Five Fun Facts

I got tagged for this meme by my sister Rachel. I'm supposed to write five things that my vast blogging audience doesn't know about me. Seeing as the majority of my audience is family, this is going to be nearly impossible. So instead I'll try for things that they knew but may have forgotten about me.

1. I have perfect pitch. No, not baseball. If you sing or play a note, I know what pitch it is. It's a fun parlor trick and comes in handy when you find yourself without a pitchpipe or other source of tuning, but mostly it's a royal pain for a variety of reasons. First of all, listening to someone singing or playing off key can be excrutiatingly painful. Secondly, it means that I am unable to read music and transpose it. So if there's a song that's too high for me, too bad; I have to sight-read it in that key or not at all. This also means that I can't play any instrument that is not tuned to the key of C, such as a clarinet or trumpet.

2. I once convinced a bunch of people that I was French. It was my freshman year of college, and I had just gotten back from France. I spoke French a lot better than I do now, and I did a really good French accent too. Whenever I would visit Jeff in his dorm across campus from where I lived (he lived on South Campus, I lived on North Campus), I would speak to the person at the desk in my faux French accent and pretend to be from France. I was masquerading as a foreigner before Borat even thought of it! But I did not incite anyone with misogynistic or anti-Semitic remarks. I was always very polite and everyone liked me. I ran into trouble though when I ran into a person that the French me knew, hanging out with a person that the American me knew.

3. I have this recurring dream about owning a historical site. Every so often, I dream about this historical home I inherited from someone-or-another. I don't actually own a historical site, but in this dream I have inherited the former home of an obscure poet. There's some sort of a trust that runs the historical site and I don't have to do anything but own the place. In addition to giving tours, they periodically host special weekends like "Christmas with Obscure Poet," depicting how he celebrated Christmas or whatever. The last time I had this dream, I was explaining to my sister Laura that I inherited this historical house. I had invited her along to the special Christmas celebration with me. I got free admission since I owned the place. I have no idea why I have this dream.

4.When I was a kid, I used to pick my nose at night and wipe it on the back of my headboard. This caused the headboard to become kind of crusty. When my parents got divorced, my mom took my bedroom furniture. I take a certain passive-aggressive delight in knowing that (at least according to my scouts' reports) the headboard is still booger-encrusted. Yes, that was gross. That's why I haven't exactly broadcast this humorous tidbit.

5. I love to bake rolls. It is one of my favorite activities. I especially enjoy dividing the dough into parts. I think this is my inner mathematician.

Now I'm supposed to tag others to do this meme. Well, of course I'm going to tag Ginger and Jeff. And anybody else who wants to do it. Post a link to it here, or if you'd like, do your list in the comments section.

Adventures with Baby

We went to Kentucky this weekend so that Vinny could meet even more family. The original plan was to take him to see my maternal grandmother, who just turned 98. But then my dad brought his mother over from Evansville, and we decided to spend Sunday afternoon with Jeff's family, who all gathered at Rhonda and family's house in Lexington. Also, my dad's sister Rosemary was passing through on her way to Evansville so she also got a chance to meet Vinny.

We packed our car full of baby stuff and headed for Lexington on Friday afternoon. (I think that the amount of luggage a person requires is inversely proportional to age.) That evening we had dinner with Dad and Marvis and Grandma Mary (the grandmother from Evansville). The next morning we went to see Grandma (the one we had planned to visit in the first place). She was delighted to meet Vinny. I knew that she really enjoys babies, so I was not surprised. She has some short-term memory problems so she kept asking over and over who was his father and whether he helped with the baby. But she soon became convinced, based on Jeff's stature, that he took good care of the baby. (Don't ask about the logic. I don't know.)

We got a nice picture of Vinny and his two great-grandmas. We also got a four generations picture: Vinny, me, my dad, and his mom. I'm not sure how many pictures were taken this past weekend, but all those pictures lined up end-to-end could quite possibly stretch from here to Lexington and back.

Rosemary arrived in time for dinner. She was happy to meet her new grand-nephew too. His Grandma and Grandpa couldn't get enough of him either. Marvis just loves babies and babies love her too. I think Vinny might prefer staying with her instead of his mean parents. (Someday we will need a break from being parents, and we will pawn him off on his unsuspecting grandparents for a day or two.)

On Sunday afternoon we saw the other side of the family, including the elusive Aunt Ginger and Uncle John. Granny and Granddad also made the trip down from Louisville to see the newest member of the family. Granny and Aunt Ginger were fighting over who got to hold him. (Okay, that is an exaggeration.)

Vinny is one lucky little boy to have so many relatives who love him so much. The world would be a better place if every baby were as loved.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Well, as it turns out, Vinny indeed has a big head. A big, healthy head, full of "ze little gray cells," to quote Poirot. Or, if there is something wrong, it's not serious enough that they kept us at the hospital.

This weekend we are going to head up to Lexington. My grandmother just turned 98, and I wanted her to meet her youngest great-grandchild. Her mother lived to be over 100, but you never know when it will be the last chance to see her, so even though it's a royal pain to travel with a baby, we're going to go up there and see her. At least it's a three-hour drive, instead of a cross-country plane trip or something!

Then on Sunday, we will have a get-together with all of Jeff's family. If all goes as planned, Jeff's parents, his brother and sister-in-law, his sister and brother-in-law, and two nephews will all be there too. It will be the first time the family has all gotten together since Jeff's brother and sister-in-law's wedding three years ago.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

New Car

I'd been looking for a new (to me) car, because Gundar the 1990 Volvo has become a petulant teenager and once again believes that he'll start when he dang well feels like it rather than every time we want him to. Instead of trying to get him repaired, we decided to just get another car.

It didn't need to be a very big or luxurious car like the new Impala we have for the babymobile; it just needed to get me from point A to point B and back (i.e. home to work). I decided that I didn't need to have a brand new car, but it would be strategic to get a car three years old or less, because it could still have some warranty left.

We found a good car on the internet: a 2005 Beetle with less than 5000 miles, at a dealership. On Sunday we went to testdrive it. It was really nice: a 5-speed stick shift, silver (not my favorite color; silver is just "shiny gray" and I hate gray), surprisingly roomy for such a small car. Even Jeff could fit in it comfortably.

So on Monday we went to our bank and got a car loan (a blank check, preapproved up to a certain amount). Then we went to the dealership and bought the car. We parked it near the dealership before going on to the hospital to see Uncle Wayne (who was finally in a recovery room and got to meet Vinny). After our visit, I drove the new car home while Jeff drove the other car.

I had missed driving a stick shift. With all the hills here, it is much more fun to drive than it was to drive Ingrid the 1982 Volvo around flat Illinois. I am so looking forward to coasting down hills and enjoying physics in action!

Friday, November 10, 2006

On Sucking, Part II

First of all I wanted to thank everybody for the supportive comments. I have decided to discontinue any regular attempts to breastfeed, but to continue pumping for him at least until I return to work at the end of the month. I am able to pump enough for one meal each day, so I feel good that at least he's getting that much breastmilk.

If circumstances had been different, I probably could have gotten breastfeeding to work. In particular, if he hadn't stopped breathing at that lactation consultation, I think the problem would have been resolved right then and there. I think that hospital stay really messed us up, because I was too upset and afraid to continue attempting to breastfeed while in the hospital. Also, if I had known then what I know now about proper latching and what it's supposed to feel like, I think that would have helped too. Next time (if there is one!), things will work out better.

Since I have to work (I'm not saying that out of disappointment -- I like my job and I make four times what Jeff could ever make), Vinny is going to be mostly bottlefed anyhow. Oh sure, there's a difference in the ingredients of breastmilk and formula, but at the same time one of the main advantages of breastfeeding -- the variability of caloric content based on how hard he sucks (i.e. hindmilk from a long feeding session, the more watery stuff for a light snack) -- will not apply even if he is drinking breastmilk out of the bottle, by virtue of the fact that it's a bottle.

Given Vinny's genes, we are concerned about obesity but we are being careful not to immediately offer a bottle the first time he cries -- we change his diaper, or hold him upright (he suffers from a bad case of reflux), or try other things unless it's obvious that he's hungry.

I kind of like the fact that I don't have to be the only person to feed him. Jeff has been feeding him primarily, but others have also gotten a chance to do so, and I think they kind of enjoy the experience. For a while I was trying to pump religiously every two hours (except at night) but that was driving me crazy because I was literally spending a quarter of my time doing that and I was sick of it. So instead I have resolved to pump enough to produce at least four ounces per day -- something I can do in three or four pumpings.

Something else that was driving me crazy was that I was told that I couldn't drive for six weeks. I don't know if that's a real prohibition, or if it was because the nurse who was debriefing me for my discharge from the hospital thought I'd had a c-section, but it was making me feel extremely depressed, like I was living in Saudi Arabia or something (especially because when we went out, I was always sitting in the back seat with Vinny). After talking to several people, including the speech-language pathologist who was working with Vinny, I decided that either that was an instruction that applied only to a c-section or the patriarchy was trying to keep me down, because there was no logical reason that I should be prohibited from driving. So I've started driving again. Mostly the prohibition from driving was what was making me nuts; now that I feel like I can drive, I have no real desire to drive anywhere. I did drive once on an errand with Jeff and Vinny in the back, but when Jeff offered for me to go alone on an errand, I declined because I didn't mind staying home. Just knowing that I can get out if I want to was freeing enough for me.

We had his one-month checkup on Tuesday, and it went well. He has reflux so the doctor gave us a prescription for some medication to deal with that. Vinny now weighs over ten pounds, so he is still right about average on the growth charts, except for his head, which has grown more rapidly than the rest of his body. So just in case there is something wrong, the doctor ordered a head ultrasound for next week, which will probably show that nothing is wrong. Personally, I just think it's his enormous brain. But I am glad that even though I am unable to feed him in the way that I wanted, he is thriving. Ultimately, that is what is the most important.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Math Update

I realize that lately, there hasn't been much on this blog about math. Instead it's been mostly "Vinny this, Vinny that." It's enough to make you think this blog should be entitled "Adventures with Vinny" instead of "Adventures in Applied Math."

To those who are reading this just for the math, I apologize. It's just that since I'm on leave from work and caring for a newborn, I don't get many opportunities to think about math. Here's what I got for you:

  • There were 288 cranberries in the bag of cranberries I used to make two loaves of my world-renowned cranberry bread: one for Aunt Mary, and one for the neighbors who invited us over for dinner last night.
  • We are looking to buy a new used car, for me to drive to work every day, because Gundar the 1990 Volvo has once again decided to act like a recalcitrant teenager and not start unless he feels like it. I have been looking at the government vehicle crash-test ratings website, and it is totally cool. Look up your own car in it and see how safe your ride is. I've also looked at several different websites that give you used car values, and I find myself wondering how they do their computations. You can get divergent values for the same car on different websites.
  • I realized recently that I "visualize" numbers primarily through sound. I wonder if other people do that too. If so, this explains the math/music link.
  • I count everything, even the number of times I pat Vinny on the back when burping him. I also make things rhythmic, like I pat him three times for every rock of the chair (six times in one period [back and forth] of the chair). Or four sets of eight pats, followed by four sets of three strokes of rubbing, repeated until he burps. Hopefully I am instilling in him both a sense of rhythm and a sense of math.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Baby Vinny Meets More Family

On Thursday, Vinny got to meet more family for the first time. Jeff's Aunt Mary, cousin D.W., cousin-in-law Christy, and their kids were in town. Unfortunately, it was not for a happy reason: Uncle Wayne (Mary's husband) is in the hospital after having had two very serious heart attacks in a short period of time. He'll have to stay in the hospital for at least another week, and then come back for heart surgery in another month.

But Vinny was his usual charming self and I think his presence helped take Aunt Mary's mind off Uncle Wayne's very serious condition. Of course she didn't forget about him but Vinny gave her something else to think about.

Last night we saw them again, this time going out to dinner. Jeff and I treated them to one of our favorite local restaurants. I bribed the waiter to give me the check by promising him a generous tip. He complied and so did I.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Cutest Little Vampire

We took the cutest little vampire out trick-or-treating around the neighborhood last night. He was a big hit with all the neighbors. He fell asleep after the first or second house or so, so he was especially well-behaved and darling while asleep. He charmed a bunch of neighbor girls who were out trick-or-treating, too. (I guess I'm a real parent now because when they saw us come home from the hospital with Vinny, I stressed to them how it's nice to coo at a baby from afar, but having one is painful and should not be attempted until you're in a place financially and emotionally to support a new life.)

Anyhow, thanks to Vinny, I managed to score a lot of candy, some of which he will eat vicariously, no doubt.