Sunday, February 28, 2010

Everyone Loves Chone! Nobody Loves Chone!

From Mariners 2010 Annual:

"Players like David Ecksktein [sic] and Dustin Pedroia are often complimented on getting the most out of what they've been given, physically, but perhaps no one in baseball does more with less than Figgins.  An untimidating 5'8", he has taught himself a level of plate discipline that allowed him to lead the American League in walks a year ago, despite the fact that he has no power whatsoever."

Welcome to Seattle, Chone, where you are greeted with constant reminders of all that you lack!  We're happy to have you!

First day of school.  They grow up so fast!

We think you're great, even though your parents got an F in spelling and you're short and have no power whatsoever!  WELCOME HOME, CHONE!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nor the Linoleum

Olivia and I have been enjoying this song lately.  When we listen to it she likes to bang her hands on the table as percussive accompaniment.  Try it yourself!  It's fun!  And remember, not on any family member - you might want to make a list.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Born Firstborn

Remember when Olivia was a little baby?

So tired.  So happy.  Even after 20 hours of labor and a major surgery I couldn't sleep because I was too excited.

Kuato escapes her swaddle

Welcome to the gun show.

All that dark hair!  Where did all that dark hair go?  And where did all this blonde hair come from?

It's the most bizarre feeling to be nostalgic for events that happened only 7 1/2 months ago, and it feels so disloyal to the magical baby I enjoy now to miss that skinny little baby back then.  But, I do.  We've taken thousands - THOUSANDS - of pictures of Livy in the last half-year, and they seem woefully too little to assuage my heartsickness for my sweet, new, tiny, fresh baby daughter.  I thought the term "babymoon" was a pile of touchy-feely, new age, Seattleite garbage until now.  I really was happy during Livy's first weeks.  I just couldn't see it through all the fatigue and anxiety of new parenthood.  I wish I could take a trip back to July 13th like a ghost of babies past just to take a deep whiff of that sweet girl's head, smoosh my face into her cheek, and then leave her to her bewildered mama and daddy.

My girl, I love you infintely more each day.


And, my girl, I love you as infintely as I miss you.


Agent Orange

Apparently we need to move the high chair.  I left to get a washcloth, and Olivia wondered if he loved her or he loved her not.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update, Buffet-style: Leaps and Bounds

1.  We made an anticlimactic visit to the Woodland Park Zoo with our new family aquarium/zoo pass.  I am an idiot and didn't check the winter hours, so we had a whopping 45 minutes there.  Of those 45 minutes we mostly saw exhibits under construction because I chose to go through the West entrance, the nearest to all of the construction.  Eh.  It was a lovely day and a nice walk anyway.  I'm just not counting it as her first official zoo trip.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle

Neither monkey would acknowledge the other.  The question of which is the lesser primate remains open.

2.  SLB dressed Livy in my new favorite outfit Saturday morning.

Look at that poor, congested face.  You can SEE the cold, it's been so strong.

Octopus friend T-shirt and red-and-white train engineer pants.  Both are size 12 months, and careful readers will remember that I bought her the T-shirt last Wednesday.  Apparently Olivia hit a huge growth spurt last week, because this is the last week she'll be wearing either of those garments.  That baby is HUGE.  So, to all of those kind people who bought us sweet little sundresses and rompers in a size 12 months thinking that it'd be August when she wore them, I'm sorry.  They'll go to good homes.  And to any and all grandparents looking to buy this baby clothing (*cough*Mrs.Snyder*cough*) from any exotic locations (*cough*LasVegas*cough*), don't get anything smaller than 18 - 24 months.

The power of this awesome ensemble directly contributed to the next miracle.

3.  Livy sits up on her own!

Yeah, Michael J. Fox showed her how.  We tight.

Olivia's been strong enough and has had enough balance to sit up on her own for a while now, but she never would because it was just too much fun to throw herself backwards and either be caught by Mom or Dad if she was on the floor, or bounce off the bed if she was on our bed.  Well, apparently Dad didn't catch her on Saturday morning, and she learned immediately from cause and effect.  Smart baby!  Good sitting!

Do you see the adolescent irritation in her eyes?  Come puberty, WE ARE SCREWED.

That toy, which we call her salad spinner, was great motivation to sit up, too.  She was not happy that I kept trying to pull her attention away from it long enough to take a picture, so I had to stop.  I know my place in her heart, and it is firmly below Daddy, octopus puppet, and salad spinner.  Fair enough.

4.  We began baby swimming lessons today, and Olivia LOVED it.  She giggled and splashed the whole time, even when I dunked her.  She's a good kicker and paddler already, and, as a poor swimmer myself, I'm so proud of my baby girl!  I'm going to have to sign up for adult lessons so that I can keep up with her level of expertise.  She deserves to have a proficient swimming partner.  Pictures next week, I promise!  We'll have a spectator take a few shots while we're splashing around.

Until then, let this tide you over:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not Wrong, Just Different

Don't judge me.

The days get long, and it's a safer pastime than snorting coke off of her belly.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Livy usually doesn't exhibit her babbling skills on video.  When a camera enters the room, she intuitively clams up and stands stock still.  So, I went all wildlife photographer on her, hid out in a duckblind (behind the dining room table), and captured this footage with my hidden camera.  Wiley mama.  Babbly baby.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Not at all safe for work, and it's full of cussing and sexual references that some folks might not appreciate.  I appreciate them, though, and, sadly for Livy's development, so does my baby.  Oh, well.  Genius doesn't come from stable upbringing, and I want so badly for her to be exceptional.  I do what I can.

I especially recommend this song.  Had I heard it while I was pregnant I would have sung it all the time to anyone who would listen.  Maybe it's best that I found it today.


Big Meanie

Before today the meanest thing I'd ever done to a child was to call my students on a snow day to assign them homework.  Mean, right?  It seemed a desecration of something holy worse than the time I swore in Mass when I got a splinter in the back of my leg from an old pew while surrounded by 11 year old girls whom I was supposed to be supervising as their homeroom teacher.  The holy spirit was not with me that day, nor was it with me as I called and, God help me, WOKE UP students to tell them to do their homework.  It was boss-mandated, or else I never would have done it, and I still feel dirty for having broken the sanctity of the sacred snow day at an administrative behest.  Never again.

Today was worse, though.  Far worse.  I interrupted this peaceful nap, clearly a deep and satisfying late morning sleep.  I saw a dreaming baby and ripped her from her tranquil slumber.

Fleece jammies?  Check.  Kitty?  Check.  Foul-smellling, chewed-on burp rag?  Check.

Why would I do this to my beloved child, you ask?  Here's the meanie kicker.  I woke her up from this perfect rest to take her to the pediatrician to get her flu boosters.  That's right, I awakened this sleeping angel so that she could get shots.

And that, my friends, is why I'll be riding an eternal rotisserie in Hell.  See you there!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Octopus Week: Oh YEAH We Celebrated!

This week has been Octopus Week at the Seattle Aquarium, and, as anyone privy to my mad ramblings knows, I hold a lot of love in my heart for cephalopods in general and octopuses in specific.  In fact, I always have loved them, according to my parents.

Exhibit A:  My mom remembers a time when she was eavesdropping on my dad and me reading a book about an octopus when I was about 2.  Thinking I was a normal toddler, he commented on how many arms the octopus had.  I then said in my most serious munchkin voice, "You mean tentacles, Daddy."  I'm sure he never thought I was a normal toddler again.

Exhibit B:  My dad recollects taking me to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium when I was 4 or 5, a trip in anticipation of which I had babbled about the octopus exhibit for days.  The aquarium is structured circularly with a raised ledge for little ones to stand on to see better.  I was absentmindedly walking around this ledge when WHAM! I came face to face with a huge octopus sprawled across the glass of his tank.  The shock of it scared me backwards and nearly onto my keister.  I asked if the octopus could unlock his tank and get me, and when my dad said no I pointed out to him that we couldn't be sure because there was obviously no padlock on the tank.  Luckily he'd likely grown to expect this from me after having experienced the infallible logic of Exhibit A.

And so, as part of a strong family tradition and my personal prediliction, I took Olivia to see divers interacting with a Giant Pacific octopus named Electra (appropriate for a little girl whose only discernible word is "DADADADADADADA!").

First things first - the fashion:

Lean back, Fat Joe.

If an occasion ever called for an octopus shirt, this would be it.

Here we are in front of the big tank awaiting the octopus and her human friends.  I am clearly thrilled.  She is clearly confused.  Fair enough.  We found one of the few remaining benches and waited for the show.  Another mother whose little boys were sitting on carpet squares directly in front of the glass sat next to me.  While I engaged Mom Rock Mode to keep Olivia happy, my benchmate unconsciously joined me in sycopated oscillation.  Moms are all connected like that.  We're a tribe of swaying soothers.

Then the octopus came!  Although she is technically a Giant Pacific octopus, she was smaller than I expected.

See what I mean?  Big and neat, but not BIG and NEAT!  Olivia was finished with the presentation after about 7 minutes and started whining.  It was clear that Livy felt a great empathy for the besieged octopus whose solitary nature was so cruelly violated as Electra was prodded and pulled by divers eager to display her body to leagues of nosy humans.  Olivia's a softie like that.  I'm sure she would have been more satisfied with the experience had Electra shot some warning ink at the divers and yanked at least one regulator out of one mouth.  She's a softie like that, too.

So away we wandered to check out the rest of the aquarium.  Olivia was a big fan of the seahorses and a huge baitball in an overhead tank.

Baitball: So much better packed in olive oil with some garlic and maybe a red pepper.

Ceiling fish > stupid musical mobile at home.

Then we defaced a children's coloring table,


visited the old dome of the aquarium that amazed me when I was a kid,

Everything is smaller to my adult's eye except for my enormous baby.

admired some snuggling river otters,

Even creatures with no concept of cutlery like to spoon.

bought some schwag,

and headed home.

Dreaming of 8-armed hugs.

A fine time was had by all!

The Cat's out of the Bag

Olivia's been in good spirits this week in spite of her cold and teething.  My mom said that someone forgot to tell her that she's supposed to feel poorly when she's sick.  Well, someone told her yesterday.

This was the process by which she went to bed for both of her naps yesterday.

She was very loud.  She was also very sad.

Dear whoever told Olivia that she was supposed to feel bad when she's sick:  I WILL DESTROY YOU. 

Best wishes always,

Monday, February 15, 2010


Oh, it's on!  And don't think just becaue Livy has Godzilla legs and tail that she won't swipe that flying upstart out of the sky and wallop her with a dead cat.  DON'T.  YOU.  THINK.  IT.

Art by my lil' brother, Corey.  Ass-whooping my my lil' daughter, Olivia Lee

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lovely People! Lovely Things! Lovely Day!

In spite of the pestilence that has taken hold of Me Show Central (Livy down, Mama down, only SLB left standing), we celebrated Valentine's Day today with delicous food, wonderful friends, generous gifts, and lots of tissues.

First, we woke up this morning and shared gifts.  I only got SLB a card because he ruined my master plan of having our wedding invitation framed for posterity by cleaning and organizing our office - including moving where our file of wedding crap is stashed.  Thus, the card.  Besides, it's probably best for us to choose the frame and mat together seeing as how I have no flair for anything visually aesthetic.

But SLB is smart, and he knew that just getting me a card would be a passive aggression that WOULD NOT STAND.  And so, as proof both that he has a strong sense of self-preservation and that he is a total chubby chaser, I received a mosaic of chocolates.

No.  I'm not sharing.  Thanks for asking.

Olivia received a wonderful pair of hand-knitted stuffed monsters from our Portland friends who were up for the weekend.  We met them at the Dahlia Louhge for brunch, and Olivia quickly fell in love with those two and these two.

Marsupial monsters!

Ain't they adorable?  And what great teaching tools to tell Olivia how she came into the world by being ripped from her mama's belly!  We can even make assorted moist surgery noises to enhance the experience!  What a lucky girl to have such a thoughtful friend make her such an adorable gift.  What an unlucky girl to have been born to such jackasses.  Eh.  6 on one, half a dozen on the other.

Livy also received another special Valentine's gift, this one only for big girls.  Here she is for the first time in her new high chair!

I am your queen, and this is my throne!  Fetch me my strained peas, peasant!

And, for extra added Valentine's lovingness, here is a shot of Livy performing her new trick of starting worshipfully at her daddy while she absolutely, categorically, unconditionally refuses to acknowledge her mommy.

Mommy who?  Who is this "Mommy" person of whom you speak?

(Not to be confused with:


She took this trick to new heights today when we were playing our usual game of "Where's Mommy?/Where's Daddy?"  It goes like this: I say "Livy!  Where's Daddy!," and then when she looks at SLB we celebrate like brain-damaged cheerleaders, and vice versa.  She was valedictorian of "Where's Daddy?" today but refused to participate in "Where's Mommy?" so stubbornly that when SLB actually just pointed to me, instead of looking at me she stared intently at his finger.  I am a cypher in my child's life.  I thought I at least had 15 years before this happened.

But no matter.  I love that little squish regardless of her snotty nose or snotty behavior.  She is my daughter, after all.  And, besides, I get her point.  There are times when I only want to gaze at SLB, too.  He's just so handsome!  I mean, if you had the option of feasting your eyes on this unparalleled specimen of manhood, wouldn't you ignore everyone else in the room including your own mother?

A Valentine's bouquet!  How sweet!

I know I would (sorry, Mom), and so I can't blame that little snotmonster for following in my footsteps.

Like Mama, like Livy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

THAT'S What I'm Talking About!

I swear I didn't do it.

But I really, really appreciate it.

Also, today is Livy's 7 month birthday!  We celebrated by taking her to the Saturday emergency hours at the pediatrician to see if her cold was anything worse than a cold.  It isn't, but she's sick and cranky nonetheless.  Poor biscuit!  No pictures of her today, but here's one from yesterday of her learning to enjoy Mama's favorite movie.  She has great taste in cinema.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Mama Food

One of the biggest challenges I faced when transitioning to stay-at-home-mommery, as opposed to mere housewifery, was feeding myself.  It seemed nearly impossible to find the time and energy to fuel up with more than handfuls of cereal and Hershey's kisses in between caring for Olivia and keeping the house from becoming one huge landfill of dirty laundry and diapers.  As she's gotten older and we've gotten into more of a routine I've figured out some good go-to ways to keep myself fed and happy, emphasis on the happy.  See, I like my food to be delicious and good for me as well as fast and convenient (Food Network, call me!  I already sound like one of your drones, and I look like a rich, smart man's Rachael Ray!).  I get grumpy when I have to eat canned soup or toast for meals on end.  So, here are some easy meals that are actually made out of food to keep you going regardless of what your day looks like.

Two caveats before I begin:  1.  I don't measure things.  I'll put approximate quantities in these recipes, but you'll have to futz around to find the right proportion of spices, etc., for you.  2.  If you want low-fat or low-calorie, go elsewhere.  These are nutritious recipes that taste good, but I'm not currently in the dieting game and these should not be taken for diet foods.

Breakfast:  Smoothie
Smooth Operator

.5 cup plain nonfat yogurt
.5 cup nonfat milk
1 banana, frozen or fresh
.5 cup frozen blueberries
.5 cup frozen raspberries or frozen mango chunks

Toss into blender and pulverize until drinkable and delicious.

This one's a no-brainer, and it's an easy way to get 2+ servings of fruit in one meal.  Plus, it's drinkable, which means I can sip on it as I feed Olivia her breakfast in the morning.  Add a cup of tea on the side, and you have my usual morning breakfast right there.


Salmon and avocado salad sandwich (makes 2 servings)
It looks like a dog's dinner, but it tastes like your lunch!

1 can wild-caught salmon, no salt added (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
1 avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out
.5 - 1 lime, to taste (I like 1 lime, but then I have a huge sourtooth)
1 chopped green onion (I like to keep a plastic container of mixed chopped green onions and cilantro in the fridge, because I wind up putting it into nearly everything.  You'll see this in action later.)
1 T chopped cilantro
Salt, pepper, and Sriracha to taste
Whole wheat bread

Smoosh up everything but the bread, then slap half of the smoosh between two pieces of bread.  Voila!  You are now immortal with the power of Omega-3's!  Good for you!  Bonus points for adding a bowl of sack salad spiked with grape tomatoes for extra vegetable virtue.  It's high in fat, but I actually like that here.  It keeps me full until dinner time.

Vegetarian Chili

Beans: delicious now, hilarious later.

1 chopped onion
2 chopped bell peppers (orange and yellow here for color)
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped chipotle in adobo
2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
.5 package of Trader Joe's fire roasted corn, or any other frozen corn
2-3 T tomato paste
1 palmful chili powder
1 palmful ground cumin
.5 palmful oregano
1-2 t cocoa powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions and cilantro (See?  I told you!) to top it all off.

Sautee the chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and chipotle in a large pot.  When softened and nicely mingled, add the rest of the ingredients except for whatever toppings you prefer.  Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to low, cover, and let simmer for 25 - 30 minutes.  Add the frozen corn and stir; the residual heat from the stovetop should heat it through in 5 minutes or so.  Top with yummy things and devour. 

This one's more of a time commitment, but only a commitment of 10 minutes of chopping and stirring.  Plus, it makes enough for at least 2 meals, and it's a relief to me to know that I have something delicious to heat up the next day.  Again, bonus points for adding a salad to the side.  Even more bonus points for adding a beer to the side, too.

Turkey Taco Bowl
Looks ugly.  Tastes pretty.

This one is component-heavy, though not necessarily time- or effort-heavy, so I've broken the components up using *'s.  You'll get it; you're smart people.

*1 lb ground turkey
.5 palmful chili powder
.5 palmful ground cumin
1t dried oregano
.25 t garlic powder
.25 t onion powder
cayenne to taste
salt and pepper to taste
*cooked brown rice (Rice cooker = no effort on your part whatsoever.)
*1 can black beans, including what we in this house call "bean poop," meaning undrained
1/3 package Trader Joe's frozen fire roasted corn (or any other frozen corn)
1 chopped chipotle in adobo
*chopped bell peppers (here yellow & red)
grape tomatoes, sliced in half (or any other chopped fresh tomatoes)
chopped green onions and cilantro (I TOLD you so!)
*guacamole (avocado smooshed with lime juice, green onion, cilantro, salt, and pepper to taste)
Tabasco or other hot sauce

In a large skillet brown the turkey with the spices listed below it.  In a separate pot dump the black beans, chopped chipotle, and frozen corn and cook until heated through.  Now, find yourself a big bowl and dump .5 cup brown rice, .5 cup turkey, .5 cup bean and corn mixture, 1 cup total chopped peppers and tomatoes, a healthy dash of green onion and cilantro, 4 T guacamole, and hot sauce to taste.  You can add grated cheese, too, but I find it muddies the flavors of the veggies and guacamole, so I omit it.  This makes a good amount of leftovers, too, so you're covered for more than one meal.  SLB prefers to omit the rice and eat this on a tortilla, but that's because he had a violent grudge against B vitamins and fiber.  I leave it in your hands to decide how you get this delicious goop into your own faces.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


While Olivia is occupied licking the laundry basket, I'll post some bonus shots from Sunday's playdate for you.

Olivia and Tevin: Profiles in Courage

Baby party!  Clockwise from top: Liv, Tevin, NJ, and Olivia

Next time we'll have to get Lexi and her mommy and daddy over from the Eastside and Levi and his mommy and daddy from Bremerton to complete the shot.