The trip to Lubbock was good. I was busy the whole time caring for Joshua but I enjoyed seeing a few great friends and spending some more time with my mom. I spent the whole day of Christmas preparing for the trip. I packed my stuff early in the day then packed Josh’s that evening before leaving. I was lucky enough to get a couple hours rest late in the afternoon. I think that helped me at around 1am when I was crossing the panhandle towards Lubbock. I took the more direct and scenic route using 380 out of Denton and 114 into Lubbock. Along the way between Guthrie and Dickens I saw- not kidding here- nearly two dozen deer along the road eating grass, 3 coyote, 4 skunks (only one was alive and it was scurrying off the road side), and a hand full of rabbits. It was crzy and entertaining to see so many animals. My imagination kept expecting to see a deer standing in the road at any moment so I decided to sit up a little more, use two hands and flash my brights periodically to scan for more life. Obviously no animals were hit (or you’d had heard about it by now). I listened to an audio book on the way too: A Short History of Nearly Everything. It combines two subjects I am most interested in- science and history- starting with what’s out in space and how we came to find out about it.

My Mom is such a Grandma. Her voice changed an octave higher upon handling, seeing or talking to Josh. She played with him almost the whole time. And he had a darn good time! We went to the park the first day to swing and feed ducks but the lake was drained. Weird. My mom thought she smelled sewage as we neared the muddy remains of the city-made lake. I don’t know why the water was drained but it didn’t matter too much. Birds and ducks were still landing in it.

My mom’s house is slowly falling apart. Although she warned me, I was surprised to see the water damage on her ceiling in the living room. Her roof has a persistent leak that several roofers have been unable to fix. So she doesn’t want to spend the money on repairing her ceiling until the roof is fixed. Makes sense. In addition to water damage, she needs to paint the exterior, replace carpet and install a working dishwasher handed down from a friend. Inside she has appliances working well beyond their life expectancy. If her refrigerator was a person, it would have few teeth and severe cataracts. If her microwave was a person, it would be senile and require a walker everywhere. If her washer was a person, it would be dipping into retirement funds to make ends meet before the family gets involved. If her television/DVD/video system was a person, it would be alive by some miracle of science and have the impending doom that some day, any day now, it will die. According to Raymond, I am young and just don’t understand the value in older appliances that clearly need to be replaced. Bah! I support our economy by replacing appliances that are somewhat dysfunctional or greatly outdated.

During my two day trip Joshua had runny poo. I wasn’t sure if it was diarrhea or just persistent runny soft stool. When I get diarrhea I can diagnose it quickly. But with Josh always growing, changing, trying new foods, and having recovered froma recent cold, I wasn’t sure. To be safe, I got some LiquiLytes mix and called the pediatrician’s office to double check that there was nothing I could do. In two days we went through 16 diapers, most of them on Monday. He’s been pooing day and night, often just a little comes out after passing gas but that’s enough to require a new diaper.

So the whole motivation to going to Lubbock after Christmas was to visit with Matt, Oana and Emily over lunch. We met up at Jalisco’s Taqueria on Ave. Q near 19th street. They have really good Mexican food there. Oana, Matt’s girlfriend, is Canadian and this was her first visit to Texas. Having Mexican food for lunch was part of her tour. Emily joined us after driving all the way from Canyon. She didn’t know I was in town until she walked into the restaurant and saw me. Actually, I talked to her on the phone while she drove in making her believe I was in Dallas and wishing I was there to have lunch. She was quite surprised to see me (and Josh) but soon got over being tricked.

After lunch we went to Maxi Park to feed birds and let Josh play at the playground. By “play”, I mean we put him in the baby swing for a bit, let him hold onto some bars, I held him while Emily gently bounced him up and down on the toddler sized see-saw and he sat watching kids play for a little bit.

At the end of my trip I stopped by Raymond’s home to visit for a little bit before leaving town. I regretted that I only had an hour to spend there. If Josh was in an infant car seat or if I wasn’t leaving town that evening I would have been there at least another hour or more. He had over a friend from Boulder named Marsha who happens to share my birthday- September 18th. She and I had several quirky similarities including an interest in language and cultural anthropology. Anyway, Ray was glad to finally see Josh. The next time I’m in town I’ll need to make more time to visit.

The trip home was uneventful. Not nearly as many animals, only a few deer. Same as going there, I didn’t have any cars visible in front of me or behind me between Ralls and Seymour. After Seymour there was one vehicle far in the distant in front of me that I eventually caught up with at a red light in one of the small towns. Along Hwy. 380 outside of Denton I saw a shooting star which made me scan the sky for about 15 minutes in hops of seeing another one. By the last stretch I was getting very sleepy so I called my mom and we chat while I drove the last 30 miles towards home.

Wednesday is a blur to me. I was sooooo sleep deprived the next day after being home. Josh woke up constantly Tuesday night after we got home. I tried to nap and rest on Wednesday but he didn’t take any lengthy naps. Last night he was up a lot too. If it weren’t for a long nap this morning I would likely be in bed now exhausted instead of journaling. I hadn’t been so tired since Josh’s first and second months when it took forever to get him back to sleep each night. It seems like the more sleep I get these days, the more I want. Now that Josh can sleep 6 hours or longer in a stretch, you’d think I wouldn’t feel as tired any more. Sleep begets sleep and I usually wish I could be getting sleep! ;-)

Random thoughts…
New favorite quote from Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion: “Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted.”

Joshua updates- he learned to clap his hands this week, he can somehow growl/purr by passing air over a very relaxed throat and tongue, and he’s taken interest in biting my arms and shoulders when he’s excited. Biting is bad. He’s got the sharpest teeth!

Knowing my reading audience I won’t lament on my conversation with Emily about getting older. No matter how old you are or how much you weigh or whatever you are in life, there’s always a crowd to remind you that they are more so than you. I don’t talk about losing weight or getting older or my birth story unless it comes up in conversation b/c either someone had it worse and they’ll remind you that your situation, no matter how valuable it is to you, is nothing compared to their ordeal, or that you’ve got it so easy or so good that speaking of it is almost bragging. “Oh I’d give anything to be where you are…” I’ve heard that about weight, age, the newness of being a mother, and other instances. Anyway, we’re planning a small calm New Years Eve thing at our house. I bring up the age thing because a couple friends have mentioned recently how they don’t think they can keep up like they did when they were younger. They can’t drink as much or stay up as late or don’t get thrills from huge parties or get urges to do something crazy. While I always have the urge to do something crazy, I feel a winding down too. Being a new mom doesn’t help either.

We're back from our trip to Lubbock. In a nutshell it was a successful visit. However Josh was up 6 times between 2am and 6am. So needless to say, I'm exhausted with a capitol Z! More to come after some rest and recovery.

Josh has changed his sleep routine. He used to fall asleep at night easily after a bottle or breastfeeding. The last couple of nights he's fought his bedtime. I have to rock (bounce) him on my shoulder or in my arms until he's at least somewhat sleepy. One the bright side, he is getting better at going to sleep when laid down drowsy. But it's still not a reliable technique. He's also arching his back sometimes when I hold him sideways in an attempt to rock him. This drives me crazy! I hate it when he does this. It's as if he's trying to roll the other way or fling himself from my arms. He'll do this whether hes fussy or just being his normal happy self.

We took him to the park today where he sat in an infant swing for the first time. He love that! I got a few cute pictures of him having fun. We also slid him a few feet down a small slide a few times. He didn't like this as much though. I don't think he's old enough to appreciate slides yet. He enjoyed watching the other kids play. I think I'll take him to the park in Lubbock too now that I know he'll have a good time.

Rusty & I played Santa today delivering gifts to our friends around town. A few people are looking for a quiet, non-crazy way to ring in the new year. We're starting to organize plans for a cheese and wine get-together for a few close friends. I welcome this party concept because it allows us to celebrate in a small way while ensuring Joshua is cared for without buying a babysitter. yaaaaay.

Lots to blog about:
Upset tummy
Pacifier weaning
Morning poo
Mom's visit
Upcoming trip

Wednesday night was not a good night for Joshua. Something gave him an upset tummy that caused him to throw up everywhere only an hour after going to bed. Rusty heard him stir so he went in the nursery and inserted a pacifier thinking that was all was needed. Usually this is the case, especially so close to being laid down for the night. I happen to go in just second after Rusty left the room to put something away when I heard the awful splashing sound of liquid being tossed in the crib. I yelled for Rusty to help as I picked up Josh to soothe him. He threw up again four more times while I held him. It was terrible smelling, like real vomit, not the usual spit up after a bottle. Weird detail: he didn't cry at all except in his crib right before the drama. I was worried that something was really wrong and insisted Rusty call the pediatrician or his mom to see if someone had advice. Luckily his mom answered. She advised we get him cleaned and get him to sleep as soon as possible. Josh was looking sleepy despite his throwing up and the bright lights in the kitchen. We used a warm wet cloth to wash him and then the sound that everything was ok: hiccups! I rocked him a little bit then laid him down to seep. The room stank, his laundry stank, his head stank, I stank. The next day was as if nothing happened. He slept well, ate well. and was in good spirits all day.

Since his cold last weekend, he's taking the pacifier less and less. Lately he's found his fingers and thumb to be a fine substitute. I'm going to take this opportunity and slowly wean him from the pacifier. He still likes one when I lay him down for sleep. That will

be the last hurdle to weaning him completely. Nap times are 50/50 with pacifiers, but night is almost always with a binky. I figure it's easier to try it now than when he's older.

The last several mornings have been started with changing a poopy diaper. For some reason Josh has been pooing early in the morning at around 6am. This is not fun. There's no subtle way to clean a poopy bottom. Then getting him back to sleep is unlikely. He just tosses and turns eventually making squeals in his crib until I can't sleep.

My mom can to visit early this week. It was her Christmas trip. We did a gift exchange, ate pot roast, played with Josh, the usual. I've realized the immense power of grandparents first hand. My mom was so much fun to play with Josh fought all of his naps and hardly fussed the whole time she was here. He was exhausted by the time she left and slept 2 hours in his car seat after I dropped her off at the airport.

I'm going to Lubbock on Sunday night/early Monday morning. I decided to leave Christmas Day night when Josh is ready to fall asleep. I expect to roll into town around 1 or 2am. We'll visit friends, spend more time with my mom, go by the park (assuming the weather doesn't turn cold unexpectedly), then leave at night on Tuesday. My neurotic self has begun to overly prepare for this adventure. I'm going to make a detailed list of everything not to forget and obsess over the list until the day comes. Already I have a booster seat and jar baby food to feed Josh while out of town.

Spammers f*ing suck! It's not just email spammers we have to bother with. We have door knob spam from people wanting to clean your house and work your lawn. We have windshield spam containing coupons and ads of nearby merchants. We have mailbox spam from retailers sending catalogs, coupons, newsletters and an assortment of ads. We have blog spammers who send bogus comments hoping others reading the comments will come across it. We have search engine spammers who flood search strings with just enough key words to get your attention only to be suckered into a website packed with ads and nonsense content. We used to have phone spammers who called our houses. Luckily that is mostly stopped thanks to the Do Not Call list. I think we should treat our spammers like those who were ever jailed for crimes against a child. We should have access to their address and phone and maybe a picture if available. Let them be nervous going to the grocery store in fear someone will recognize them and throw an egg at their car. Let them get disrupted during dinner with calls from their spam victims who want to complain and vent. Spammers are the low-lifes of the business world hardly worthy of even a cent earned.

Joshua had a minor cold this weekend. His nose was runny and stuffed up but he didn't have a full on sickness- no fever, no persistent coughing, no lack of or excessive sleepiness, no uncontrollable crankiness though he was a bit fussy at the onset. His nose cleared up today allowing him to breathe normally. It reminded me that I still have not gotten him his flu shot but probably should do so soon. When the pediatrician asked me at the 6-month visit we were undecided whether he really needed one. Now we're feeling guilty about not doing it when we had the chance. We weren't thinking what-if, we were thinking he has a very low chance of coming into contact with someone who has the flu. Then we realize how faulty our thinking was: church, grocery carts, strangers saying Hi, Rusty's coworkers, friends, family... The thing is someone could be infected and contagious before they know it and could pass it on unknowingly. For coming years, a flu shot will be mandatory due to the increased exposure to other kids. My child will be fine, it's yours I'm worried about! ;-)

Rusty enjoyed a nice 4 day weekend with me. We didn't do anything spectacular in part because we had a cold. My mom is coming to town tomorrow for a visit (yay!) so we cleaned house and have a roast ready to cook for dinner. She'll have an early Christmas with us tomorrow evening then I'll see her again after Christmas when I drive to Lubbock for a couple days. Yes, I'm planning to drive to Lubbock solo with Josh for a couple days. Part of me says "Oh this will be fun, we'll get to do things, Josh will have a change of scenery, he'll have a great time..." Another part, the darker realist in me says "You're crazy, this is a bad idea in the making, so much can go wrong, what-if this, what-if that..." I hope my trip leans more towards the fantasy side where nothing goes wrong and we have a great time.

I was watching "Secretary" on Oxygen channel. For some reason this movie always- It makes me- I find I- It's just good. See it if you like unusually formed relationships.

Joshua has had a stuffy nose all day today and yesterday. Snot has blocked his airways making it nearly impossible for him to enjoy a pacifier or take a bottle without gasping for air every minute or so. We've suctioned out his nose several times and I've wiped off snot/booggers a dozen times. I can hear hi snoring through the baby monitor. Poor guy. He doesn't show any signs of being sick other than his runny stuffy nose. No fever, no excessive sleepiness or lack of energy, no uncontrollable crying (although I think the stuffy nose causes him to feel cranky). Trying to suction the nose of a baby is about like wrestling an alligator. He sees the bulb come closer then squirms moving his head every way possible protesting in the process. I have his head inclined tonight propped up on two folded baby blankets. I hope this help keep stuff from dripping into his nose even further. One bright side to stuffy noses! He can't smell which means he probably can't taste well so I've taken this opportunity to feed him chicken and other "gross" things he rejected in the past.

His stuffy nose problems aside, this week has been challenging for some reason. He became squirmy when I tried to rock him to sleep for naps and fussed a little more than usual. I seemed like I was fighting him on everything- feeding times, nap times, every time I had to set him down for a moment- he would just cry and complain. I lost my patience several times and ended up storming out of the house with him. The cool air helped me chill (no pun intended) and it distracted him from whatever was making him upset. I got mad enough to yell back a couple times- which only makes the problem worse and leaves me feeling awful and totally out of control. It's easier to act out than it is to be patient and accepting. And I mean that for many situations beyond child care. Today was much better though. Maybe it took a few days for me, for us, to adjust to some new routine of his, whether it was a shift in feeding times or the way I held him or his upcoming stuffy nose.

He out grew his car seat in October but we decided to hold off until Christmas to upgrade. I'm beginning to regret that. He's outgrown it by length not weight. I think length is far more important a reason to upgrade a car seat than weight. His buckles are at the limit pulling in tight over his shoulders and across his lap. His feet dangle off the end from his ankles. I can't believe he was so tiny just 6.75 months ago. Back then, it felt like he'd never outgrow his car seat. It seemed like all his clothes were so big. I knew but did not imagine he'd start to actually grow up. He's still a baby but some day he'll outgrow his crib, outgrow onesies, outgrow bottles, outgrow diapers, outgrow strollers, outgrow high chairs, outgrow breastfeeding, outgrow pajamas with footies, outgrow nap times, outgrow toys... For all the moments that drive me insane between Monday and Friday afternoon, I still don't want him to grow up.

Saturday night I went to a friend's house for his 31st birthday. It was between Rusty & I to go since one of us had to stay home with Josh. Rusty told me to go out, have fun, stay out late if I wanted to. He didn't have to say that twice! Right after the sermon ended at church, he was fine to watch Josh for the evening so I left. I got caught in traffic along I-75 due to an accident at Midpark but made it to Outback Steakhouse to have dinner with a group of people (Tony, Bec, Gene, Vick & Brent) before the party. They had finished their salads by the time I got there and I was able to order and eat by the time the bill was paid.

I had a really good time at Tony's mingling with everyone and taking pictures with Tony's camera. I met several cool people for the first time that night (Summer, Austin, Dan, Jeff and others I don't remember names of). I was reacquainted with familiar faces and got caught up of people's lives. Only once did I slip into "Mommy mode" by talking to the mother of a 2½ year-old boy. She shared her birth story (emergency c-section due to high blood pressure) and warned me about lack of sleep lasting as long as 15 months. Brent became increasingly entertaining as he became increasingly intoxicated. He no longer introduces himself as, "Hi, I'm Brent and I'm an asshole." He's found a lovely gal who likes his humor and passions for life. He's a lot less bitter now. Amazing what a good woman can do for the man's spirit.

I got home at 1:45. Throughout the whole night, I didn't have a drop of alcohol. I was worried that would make me feel relaxed or drowsy, not the thing I need when I'm already tired. So I drank a lot of Dr. Pepper. Enough caffiene to keep me up and going, not enogh to make me jump from wall to wall. The next day Rusty & I took turns sleeping in until early afternoon.

Josh started mouthing babbles to me this weekend. Up to now he's been mostly an 'a-a-a' type of kid. Now he's 'a-wa-ma-na-wa-la...' He seems to do this more during moments of distress such as waiting for a bottle or wanting to be picked up. Last night I asked him if he thought that was what we sounded like to him. Maybe we're just stringing incoherent sounds together. I made some jibberish talk to him and he just laughed at me. I said things like 'toka-booka-looka-soo-kaka' and 'niki-tiki-ree-ree-bah-rah-bah' and 'moona-moona-looh-dah-bah'. I got giggles everytime until he was bored with the game. He's also humming periodically. I like this babbling way better than the shrieking.

He's doing well eating mangos and banana. I've named the mixture Banango. Last night I peeled four more mangos, pureed them and froze 4 tblsp. rations in small containers. When ready to serve, I'll defrost a bit, add 3/4 a banana and mash up in a baggy. I also slipped a bit of oatmeal into the mango patch to help get rid of it. Since he doesn't like it alone, I've been mixing it into his foods to give a bit of thickness and texture.

Rusty has to work really late today. He won't be home from work until 2:30 or 3am. The trade off is a half day off tomorrow. So it's me and the babe. I hate evenings alone. It's nice to get a reprive in the evenings to cook and eat and just do something without having Josh on my hip the whole time. But at least I can anticipate it tonight and adjust my activities accordingly. Speaking of activities, today should be a good day to wash my car! I think I'll take the Jumparoo into the garage this afternoon and let Josh play while I get the grime off my car.

My dad has a saying that describesthe degree of coldness as "colder than a witches titty." That was today. Our high was in the twenties. Yeah sure we didn't have it as bad as the Northern states and Colorado, but my thin skin can't stand freezing temperatures! Despite the chill, I got out for errands today with Josh at my side. I bundled him up in a cute snow-pant-overalls given to me by my grandmother. He's mostly outgrown it, but it did fine with socks pulled up and a blanket over the car seat. We got pictures from Wolf developed, packages mailed out and I was able to find a gift on my mother-in-law's list.

I also managed to stop at the grocery store for more bananas and Joshua's next food adventure. As of tonight, he tasted mango for the first time. The first spoonful went down with success. Then he realized he really didn't like it. Each bite there after was followed by fake gagging, fake coughing, grimacing and looks in every direction by at me. I gave up after five bites. I'll save the rest for tomorrow and maybe add some banana to sweeten it. I think the mango is a little more tart than he likes. I also invested in three jars of meats: veal, lab and ham. (It seems a tad disturbing that babie are eating baby animals.) I'll try mixing one of these with a fruit or veggie to see if I can get him to take a meat successfully. I'm hoping one of these will be successful and I can start making small meals with a meat and veggie or fruit instead of just cereal and fruit. Doing that will make baby food cheaper to make at home and easier for larger batches at one time.

Josh has learned how to fake sneeze. I find this to be amusing and useful for attention. His real sneezes are loud and tend to shoot a pacifier across the room. To make his fake sneezes he blows a burst of air through his lips with his tongue half stuck out. And he'll do this over and over. He even squints his eyes like a real sneeze. Of course, he can't help but smile while doing it so I know he's just practicing. So there you go, the basics for skipping out on school and other unpleasant situations: coughing, gagging and sneezing. I'm curious about what other ailment he'll attempt next. Perhaps it will be mammammammama.

Tomorrow is the start of an action packed weekend. Tomorrow night, Rusty's company is holding their annual holiday party in Frisco. We found a couple gracious enough to watch Josh for the evening with the agreement that we will watch their baby girl one night. I'm excited to get out of the house to have fun with non-parental types. People who are consumed by their work, not babies. Saturday morning will be fun for me because I am going to the Randy Brodnax exhibit after my eye exam. I'm pretty sure I can find something super duper cool for my mum. Rusty has agreed to watch Josh that morning (sucker). We're getting our picture taken before church then I'm off again like a gazelle to a friend's 31st birthday party. Rusty is doing something on Sunday work or school related so I plan to finish my shopping then. Whew!

I hosted a playdate in the park today. I invited a handful of moms and their babies to join me at a nearby park to mingle and let our babies play near each other. The weather was stressing me out yesterday knowing it would be a high of around 55 degrees. I thought maybe I should relocate to my house instead despite having a total mess of Christmas stuff everywhere and no drinks or snacks to offer my guests. I was worried people would find this to be too chilly to hang out in the park and would not show up. I was right. ONE person out of 8 people who responded as attending showed up. Luckily we had been meaning to get together anyway so we had great conversations, compared the progress of our little boys and strolled for a bit. What vexes me though is what she said as she joined me: "___ called this morning and said she and a few others were eating lunch at __ and said I could join them if I didn't want to go to the park..." It wasn't those exact words, but close. Essentially a group of three moms decided it was too chilly for them (fair enough, I can understand that) and wanted to get out anyway to be social (again, perfectly understandable) so at least one of them invited other would-be attendees to join them for lunch if they too decided it was too cold for an outside event (now that ain't right). I think that was so tacky to steal invites. I'm sure she had good intentions. She probably thought that if someone decided it was too cool for them that they should be included and join others doing something else. But it's just not good etiquette to be proactive about it. IF someone called her to see if she was going or not then offering an alternative, this is acceptable. But she should not have called others to drum support for alternate plans. As it turned out, the weather was sunny with almost no wind. Josh was fine with a light jacket and no cap while in the sun. When we strolled in the shade of the buildings I put on his cap and covered him in a blanket and he was fine. It felt like 60+ degrees in the sun. I wonder how many people were called for the lunch and if that might have effected my turn out. It goes to show that women are a pain in the ass for men and other women.

My eyes are clearing up and adjusting nicely. I definitely enjoy the LASIK now that I've had a few days to get used to it. My night vision is not as good as it was when I had glasses, and I'm no longer at 20/15 like I was. My vision is closer to 20/20 which is a little downgrade from where I started, but I'll take that sacrifice to not have something resting on my nose all day.

I'm on top of my game for Christmas this year. I'm almost done shopping (yay) and have most of my wrapping done. I have a goal to ship the first round of boxes this weekend and have cards ready by next weekend. My only delay is waiting for online shopping to be delivered. My ultimate goal is to not be stressed out as Christmas gets closer. Nothing ruins the spirit of the season more for me than to feel rushed to get things done. Hopefully my organization skills and timing will help me enjoy the holidays for what that's worth.

Josh is getting better about sitting up. He's able to hold himself up for a minute or longer before rolling to the side or falling back. He thinks falling back onto the crib mattress or Boppy is fun. This may pose a problem when he has no soft landing. I'm a little worried I'm not teaching him to stay sitting up- for example, maybe he thinks sitting up is good for falling back instead of good for playing with toys and entertaining himself. He's rolling around and playing feet all the time. His new trick is to jump. He loves to "jump" whether he's standing on the floor supported by my hands or perched on my arm holding onto my shoulder. By "jump" I mean he sticks his butt out while bending his knees then shoots up quickly and straightens his legs. He doesn't actually catch much air under his feet but it's the right motions for jumping in the future.

I got my LASIK today. It felt weird. It didn't hurt, I wasn't scared or nervous, nothing dramatic to report. To start, I knew if I obsessed over "the big day" on Thursday I'd never get any sleep. So I spent yesterday doing normal things and not thinking about today at all. I has hoping I could put my excitement so far behind me that I'd be able to sleep and be well rested.

HA! Boy was I wrong! Josh woke up several times in the night starting at 12:30am. Then the cats decided to run around the house playing and fighting. At 2:30am I had a conversation with Darwin. I told him to chill or I'd kick him outside all night. Alright, so I didn't use those exact words. I ended up closing our bedroom door to separate the two most awake cats. I had an hour or so of sleep until Josh woke up again at 4:30am. Then it took me almost forever to fall asleep again until 6:40am when the alarm went off.

We got there right on time. Having Rusty go with me helps because he's never late to anything. Even with me missing a turn and driving around a cemetery, we got there right on time. I checked in for my appointment, coughed up my Visa to pay, held Josh for a few minutes then they called me back. The technician dude placed a hair net on my head and shoes, put drops in my eyes and lead me into an examination room. I met with Dr. Whitman (we rode in the elevator on the way up so the ice was already broken) and he explained what to expect during and after the procedure. I took my valium pill and went into the laser room. It doesn't take much for drugs to run through my system. In no time I was feeling smooth and loose, at peace with where I was. They taped one eye shut then asked me to look at a red dot. Actually there was a green an red dot. The dot turned into a huge fuzzy grainy blob as they placed an opening device over my eyeball. I think he moved my eye into position though it didn't hurt or anything. Oh yeah, they give you numbing drops before the valium. So I didn't feel anything going on with my eye. They alternate working on both eyes. First they open the cornea of the right eye, then the left. Each time it takes 30 seconds. And the nurse counted down in 10 second intervals so it didn't seem like an eternity. Then they go back and laser the cornea of each eye, again taking 30 second for each eye. After the lasering, they place drops on the eye and wipe cornea with some soft material that supposed to get rid of any air bubbles.

My vision went out during the laser part. I was able to see just a little light around the machine over my head, but nothing else. When they were finished and put in the drops I was able to see the red dot clearly and even the ceiling. I was able to see the tiles on the ceiling! Everything is in a milky fog right after the treatment. They gave me goggles to wear for the next 24 hours, even in my sleep. I went home and slept for two hours. The only time my LASIK was uncomfortable was when I woke up from my first nap. My eyes felt like I had an eyelash stuck in both eyes. It was a scratchy dry feeling. I have a cocktail of eye drops to use for the next few days. One for every hour, one every 4 hours, one just whenever my eyes feel dry.

Josh wasn't afraid of the goggles. Usually he looks scared when people were sunglasses. I think he sees it as part of the face is missing and that scares him. But since these were clear, he thought they were pretty neat. Right off the bat when I picked him after my first nap he wanted to touch the goggles and lick it. Crazy kid! Good thing I had these on though. Josh has been known to reach out on my face to explore. I was able to take a second nap in the afternoon as the valium finally wore off. My eyes look blood shot, especially on the insides closest to my nose, but this is going away as the day wears on. I don't have any discomfort at all, not even dry-eye. And the drops don't bother me a bit. Overall, it was far less intimidating than I thought it was years ago when I watched it done on TV. Tomorrow morning I go for my post-op visit. They'll examine my eyes to make sure I'm healing properly and answer any questions.

So far the big question from friends has been "does it feel different? can you see?" Of course I can see. As far as feeling different, I have to say not yet. Maybe it's because I have on these goofy looking goggles which psychologically feels like glasses. I think I'll really notice and appreciate it tomorrow when I can do things that my glasses used to get in the way of such as putting on a shirt, doing my hair, wearing sunglasses, being able to see across the bathroom during my shower... I've had 20/20 vision or better for years, it was just aided by glasses. Being able to see isn't what makes LASIK the science miracle that it is. It's being to see without anything on my face or over my eye.

I haven't breastfed Josh all day since the valium is in my system. One lactation consultant said it would be fine to resume breastfeeding the same day since the dose is so low (10 mg) and since Josh is old enough and weighs enough to handle it. But the pediatrician took a more conservative approach and recommended I wait 24 hours. I've "pumped and dumped" twice today. It's so sad to see fresh breast milk go down the drain, but alas I had to. I have a feeling he'll be fine to nurse first thing in the morning. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, like at 2am, I may give him a bottle instead of nursing him. Just to be extra cautious. I can't wait to show off my new look to everyone tomorrow! Maybe I'll make a couple surprise visits to friends. :)

I got sunglasses today from the mall. Its the first time I've ever bought a pair that cost more than $10. These are polarized, sleek looking Ralph Laurens that will be very handy after my LASIK next week. I almost bought a cheap pair at Target but decided I could do better than $10.

While sunglass shopping, I stopped by Carter's to look at baby clothes. Joshua has outgrown almost all of his baby clothes. Most of his onesies are tight and only a couple of rompers fit, tightly. I had a coupon for $5 pajamas with the purchase of $35. Today would have been an excellent day to use that because everything is half to 80% off. BUT they did not have a single pajama for 9 month-olds. I asked a store clerk to help me find one and she said they skipped that size. Skipped!? Sizes jumped from 6M to 12M. He's abut to outgrow his 6M pajamas so that did me no good. In my frustration that the sole purpose of going there to use a coupon was futile, I left without buying anything. I suppose though I should go by Osh Kosh and check there before giving up entirely. Maybe this afternoon...

Thanksgiving at the in-laws was a typical affair: everyone sat at the "good" table, traditional dinner supplied by the local grocer, Rusty's parents inhaled their meals while I was last to finish, we bickered about who should relax and who clean (we won the argument and cleaned up... but now that I typed that, maybe we didn't win after all), followed by football and time spent in the computer room. The only change was Josh sitting at the corner of the table banging on his food tray and getting fussy. By the end of our visit, the little guy was so fussy and exhausted he fell asleep on my should within minutes after nursing him. I should expand here- Josh was fussy and clearly in need of a nap. I tried a couple times to get him to sleep with no success. Ann offered to try, she gave up and decided maybe strolling him around the block would make him less fussy. That did not work. He was screaming and tears welling up in his eyes by the time they returned. By then, it was a piece of cake getting him to sleep. Next year we'll do dinner at our house.

I have a loose theory that Catholicism and Communism are similar. Let's review history real quick: Communism fails because it dictates a way of life that goes against human nature. Common ownership as a means of production denies the natural urge to have ownership from one's work. Catholicism fails because the church also dictates a way of life that goes against human nature. People will inevitably go against the church's doctrines.

Case in point: An unmarried Catholic school teacher gets pregnant. The school fires her on the grounds that "each teacher must convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words and actions" as conveyed in the school's personnel handbook. Being a private institution, it has the right to make this rule and enforce it. (I won't go into the blatant fact that this rule is flawed.)

But is this really setting a Christian example? Deeper, is this really serving any good to anyone? For a single mother to lose her job at the onset of pregnancy, when she is least employable and needs the work to support her maternity leave, is the lowest blow. It gives no regard whatsoever to the unborn child. This situation could lead to a miserable childhood because of the lack of support the mother received when she needed it most. Punishment is not the answer. Not in this case. If she had gotten a divorce, molested a student, murdered someone, sold drugs, was a prostitute on the weekends- if she had done something where punishment would only effect her, then fine, no one would care. But you should not punish someone (the baby) who had nothing to do with the situation.

Where does "the church" get off on punishing anyway? Isn't that supposed to be left up to God when they die? Teaching, helping, supporting, caring, loving are supposed to be what one gets from their church. Not ostracism and punishing. Mary herself was unwed when she conceived Jesus. I'm not saying this woman by any stretch of the imagination is a "blessed virgin". Today, would Jesus have fired this woman and sent her away as a lesson to learn of her mistake? No! He'd give her bread and help her in some way while telling her she's stupid for getting herself in this mess. Today's Catholic church does not follow what it teaches. "To err is human nature; to forgive is divine."

Oh sweet potatoes. I made a week's worth of sweet potatoes for Josh last night. What a huge mess. I got the sticky stuff everywhere! But in the end, we have 8 days worth of baby food. Not including my time spent baking and mashing the potatoes, it cost about $2.50. His next food adventure will be apples or pears. I bought those yesterday at the store not realizing how much sweet potato I would have. I'll have to wait until Wednesday to make the apples or pears- which ever I decide to do first.

Have you ever Googled your name? You know, typed your name in a few variations to see what's out there on the web? I did this morning for the fun of it. I hadn't done that in years. Last time I had two results that were me and the rest were someone else with the same name. This time I took up the first several links. All decent stuff too: profile of this blog, a mention on a gmane thread, my Barcelona site, Skydive Dallas, a friend's laments of Thanksgiving three years ago...

I also came across an old journal I started in 2002 from Live Journal. My last entry was in April 2003, when I was depressed about the prospect that I might never have children. It's kinda funny how things seem like such a major deal when you're in the thick of it then seem so petty later down the road, especially after several life events. By 2004, Rusty and I had written off baby making as "nice if it happens, but we won't sweat it if it doesn't". Then BAM, out comes Joshua less than a year later. I wonder what I'll laugh about in these blog years from now when I start feeling nostalgic. In the slightly annoying yet very true words that Rusty often says to me when I'm upset: "This too shall pass." In some cosmic sense, eveything shall pass at some point and my life (perhaps your life too) will go virtually unnoticed in the larger scheme of history.

I made an appointment to get LASIK in two weeks. I am completely thrilled to finally drop my glasses. Now that Josh is grabbing everything, this is good timing. He's grabbed my glasses a number of times bending them slightly so that they slide down my nose.

Josh learned to roll from his tummy to his back on Monday this week. Now he rolls across the living room if I give him enough time. The rolling has made diaper changes a little challenging too. He still inch worms backwards sometimes, but no other signs of crawling yet. His next trick hould be sitting up. He still hunches forward and rolls to the side. As soon as he starts sitting up, I can feed him solid foods in public and he'll be better at entertaining himself. Until then, he still relies on us to provide all the fun in playtime.

I went to Mommy's Night Out last night. Ther were 15 of us around a block of tables in a reserved room at Patrizio's. I had a good time but it was a little difficult hearing some people. I think my hearing is less than fine tuned. Maybe too many concerts or clubs when I was 20-something. Who knows.

Josh is awake from his short nap. I guess that cuts this blog short-

Today was a decently good day despite being up several times last night. After dragging my butt out of bed at 7:30am to care for Josh who was w-i-d-e awake, I decided to join a few moms at a park to work out. I almost didn't go preferring to lounge in my p.j.'s and take a nap the moment Josh took his. But I opted to get out. I am so pathetically out of shape. I got my heart rate going and started a sweat before I ever got to the middle of the park. The trail I took, half being dirt trails, is probably a half mile to the middle of the park where a look-out pavilion intersects several jogging paths. Two other moms were there to work out with me. I didn't do anything extensive. I curled Josh, did lunges with Josh, sit ups with Josh, butt lifts with Josh, and strolled back afterwards. My legs are sore and I coughed up moisture out of my lungs all morning from all the heavy breathing. My body is in a sad shape.

After we got home, Josh & I took an hour and a half long nap together in my bed. That was so nice! Not only did the sleep feel awesome, but sleeping next to Josh who was curled up next to me was reminiscent of when he was just a few weeks old and he'd sleep on or near me all the time.

We spent our afternoon visiting parks in Plano. A few may make good locations for Lee & Barb's reception, if they decide to do it outside. If nothing else, I know of a few good places to take when he's ready to play outside. :)

I made an entry months ago about how I loved breastfeeding Josh. Those were the good days. Feeding him was simple: he would be hungry, I would put him to the breast for ten minutes, he’d barf all over the place- it was great! I even remember a time when he would fall asleep laying on the Boppy after feeding him. I was trapped, unable to get up or move around because I didn’t want to wake him up. And that didn’t bother me. I’d sit in the rocker staring at his tiny body and face and watch a movie. At one time I didn’t want to give Josh a bottle of anything, especially if it wasn’t homemade. We had timing and a routine. I looked forward to feeding him in the morning when he was hungry and at night when he’d fall asleep after feeding. (He still does that. The last meal of the evening, if he’s breastfeeding, he’ll fall sleep on my shoulder softly letting out a wee burp. He slumps over my shoulder surrendering to sleep before we ever get off the sofa. I take that short moment to enjoy the last of the closeness we have. It reminds me that he’s a good little guy and he loves his parents no matter what kind of a day we’ve had.)

Now things are all different. He’s popped a second tooth on the bottom which makes breastfeeding not fun anymore. Increasingly, I feel like I’m about to place my nipple in a bear trap when nursing him. Occasionally he does nip me (like last night) which results in a yelp from me, maybe a curse word- he cries because all he wants is to be fed and doesn’t understand why I get all upset and look angry. It takes me a moment to calm him down, calm myself down, then get back the courage to try it again. Breastfeeding puts me on edge more than ever. I’ve been pushing solid foods more and more these days preparing to wean him from chewing on my breasts. On the weekends I alternate with a bottle of formula, which I detest. Aside from the teething woes, I have a “bad mommy” secret behind my motivation to get him on solids and a bottle sooner: LASIK.

I was supposed to have LASIK last year September for my birthday. I went through the orientation, had all the paperwork, money set aside, dates reserved, time off from work authorized- I was ready! Then I found out I was 2 months pregnant. Mere days before my appointment, I had to cancel everything. Josh came and I hoped I could get it done then. Alas, no. The valium they use stays in the body for 6 weeks and a trace of it gets in the breast milk so I wasn’t able to do it over the summer either. But now- now that Josh is eating solids and taking a bottle- now I can return to plans for LASIIK. This comes with the price of guilt though. I feel a little guilty weaning him for the purposes of my own vanity. It’s a selfish reason to wean him early. A “good mommy” would patiently wait until her baby was done breastfeeding on her child’s schedule and then do whatever she felt she needed to do. It’s not like I have major surgery or a medical need to do this. I have lots of other reasons. But getting mad at him chewing on me isn’t healthy, nor is feeling a little afraid to breastfeed healthy.

The current plan is to schedule an appointment, do it soon, force myself to wean him onto a bottle and solids. I have milk in the freezer for him to have on occasion. I’ll “pump and dump” a couple times a day after the procedure in order to keep my milk supply. Then, when the valium is out of system, offer to breastfeed him only twice a day- morning and evening. Maybe by then he’ll be less likely to bite me and I’ll be eager enough to go back to the simple days that my fears of biting will be allayed.

If you ask for my opinion, you'll get it, like it or not. The NTTA sent an email requesting input about their roads and services, etc. I love taking surveys because I know marketers and companies use input to make improvements. It's a democracy of sorts. So I filled out my little survey and ended on a rant about their stupid mascot: "Wally is stupid. Like a kid drew him. And it has no meaning to NTTA drivers. Can't you come up with a better character or icon or something?? How about an orange smiley face with a T nose or a cute car with a smile? And name it Nate so that at least it reinforces the N and T in NTTA. Unlike Wally which makes me think of Wal-Mart or Walt Disney." Too bad I don't get paid to think of better ideas.

Josh is really trying to turn over from his stomach to his back. He flips from his back to his tummy quickly and easily then gets frustrated that he's stuck there. He's so close in figuring it out. I wish I could just help him out, but he has to learn this on his own. In the process he's getting good at lifting his butt in the air with his knees (and sometimes feet!) under him.

We played a new game tonight that made him laugh for nearly 20 minutes off and on. He'd make a sound and I'd imitate it almost exactly. He loved this! Rusty chimed in by saying "Nee!" like from Monty Python. He thought that was hysterical three times in a row. The three of us had a great time for about half an hour. He was happy and entertained, we were cracking up about him laughing- it all around good times. There is no better sound than that of a baby laughing.

The walk this morning was good but I came home all sweaty and exhausted. Josh began fussing in his stroller along the way so I held him with one arm and pushed the stroller with the other. That made me real hot and tired, real fast! I've got to find a way to make him like the front pack. He almost always hates being put in the Snugli. And it's a PITA to put on, take off, put child in, take child out, etc. I also have a Maya Wrap, but I can't seem to get it secure enough to be totally hands free.

Tomorrow is a pediatrician appointment for his 6 month shots. We've decided against giving him a flu shot. I'm interested to see if the doctor balks at this or is cool with our decision.

I'm sneaking a few moments before we're off for a walk. A group of stroller pushing mom are gathering at the Plano Arbor Hill Nature Preserve for a long walk. We decided 8:30am was a good time to do it. But that means I have to pull my sleepy butt up early before I feed Josh. Luckily it's only a few minutes from our house so could leave a little late and still be "on time" with other people arriving.

Ah- Josh is stirring. Better do our thing!

Melissa had her baby early this morning. She called to give me the details. I'll spare you those details and get to the one juicy detail: she was in labor 60 hours!! Holy cow that's a long time! From Thursday evening until the wee hours of Sunday morning. She was able to do it naturally at the hospital and mostly without incident. I think there was something that happened of interest because she said she'd give me all the details later. And when I asked if she regretted going naturally, she reiterated she'd go into detail later. She has this new mom glow in her voice and feels like holding her baby isn't real. It took me a little while for the reality to sink in that I had a baby. I mean, I damn well knew I gave birth but it seemed so surreal at first. Like I'd wake up and be nine and a half months pregnant still. I'm very happy for her and her husband and want to be as supportive to her as I wish some of my friends offered to be for me. I got a lot of promises of services that never actually happened, like lunch or dinner preparation, housework, day time babysitting, etc. that never really happened.

Josh wasn't feeling well today. I think he had a tummy ache for some reason. I fed him rice cereal this morning then after an hour nap and short car ride to meet Rachel for lunch (she's fine, we blabbed about language and politics for a bit), Josh threw up twice. He had a sickly look to him after the second time and took a nap for at least 30 minutes. He was better this evening. I didn't offer him any solids after lunch. I'm not sure what caused him to throw up. I felt so awful for him. I gave him a teaspoon of Gripe Water after his nap.

I've managed to keep myself busy the last few days. Here are a few quick updates:

  • I got a new laptop this week
  • I met with a lady and her baby for lunch this week
  • I'm hosting a picnic in the park next week
  • A small group of moms went strolling around a park yesterday
  • We were going to visit a friend this afternoon

Depending on how much time I have (Josh is napping and I should be too, but I can't) I'll expand on these.

Yeah, ok,so the new laptop- it totally rocks! I think Rusty got tired of my complain about the last one. I won't go into the technical details, you can see for yourself on Hypersonic's website, but this is a way better machine than I've ever used or owned. First, it's sexy. No, we didn't get any cool colors (if we had, I would have gotten red or luminous green) but it's quiet, it doesn't produce lots of heat, it's relatively lightweight, has an awesome screen, lots of features and plenty of ports to plug stuff. Second, it was a custom build. We ordered it online specifying everything we wanted and within a week we it was delivered. woot! No more sticky 'n' key or lazy shift & ctrl key. :)

I met with Preethi & her son Vincent on Wednesday for lunch at the nearby park (my inspiration to host a group picnic next week). She and I have a lot of things in common such as we're both only childs, our babies are two days apart, our babies had the same socks on that day, we've both done kung fu in Richardson with our husbands, and we're both getting active with other moms as a means to get out and keep busy without spending money. But the similarities stop there. It was a great day for a picnic and a stroll. We compared labor stories (she had a hospital birth but wants to use a midwife next time), compared our baby's achievements, talked about things to do outside the home during the week, etc. I've invited her to join the moms group I go to on Fridays. I think she plans on going next week.

I spent almost an hour setting up and sending an evite to all the moms I know who have babies around Josh's age. So far I've gotten 6 confirmed yes', which is great. I'm hoping this will be a good experience encouraging me to do it on a semi-regular basis. Or until the weather gets cold.

I met up with three other moms and we strolled around Russell Creek Park yesterday afternoon. That was fun although the wind was fierce. Our babies are all about the same age. We started talking about things to do (hence the picnic next week) and decided to get together to make baby food at one of the moms' house. I'm looking forward to this b/c I'm too cheap to buy a food processor.

Melissa started having contractions last night which effectively cancelled our plans to get together. Like any new mom, she's not sure if she's really going into labor, but I'll bet she is. [Josh is awake now, more later.]

last night was the most anticlimatic halloween I've ever had. it wasn't bad, but definately not exciting. we greeted princesses, skeletons, witches, a cop, a Chicago gangster, a football head, and few other mysterious costumed kids. josh enjoyed seeing new people at the door. oh, this was fun- rusty played Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor (the dracula theme song) on the piano every time kids came to the door.

it rained yesterday (yay!!) and now the temps outside are cool. this is great because i'm meeting a mom for lunch on wednesday at the park nearby. i met a mom and her baby (preethi and vincent) at gymboree last month and started a conversation as we were leaving. i met her again sunday evening when we took josh to a nursing home in his costume. every time we start talking it feels like we could go on for hours but then we're cut short. so i invited her to lunch this week and she suggested a picnic. maybe over lunch and a stroll through the park we can start and finally finish a conversation. :)

josh has been sleeping better for several days. he's only waking up twice a night on average. this is fantastic compared to previous weeks of waking every hour. i attribute this success to the new pacifier i got. it's a Playtex pacifier with a special shaped rubber nipple that is supposed to be easier on teething gums. so far it's helped josh stay asleep all night. i'm also working on teaching him to go back to sleep. last night he woke at 1:10am. i went to his crib to soothe him. i wound up a music box, covered him again, stroked his head and eyebrows (all this while he's wailing and crying) then left. i decided to see if he'd continue to wail or eventually get tired from listening to the music. after about 20 minutes he did get sleepy again and fell asleep. i usually turn off the monitor in our room and close his door when he's crying at night. i must have gotten up to check on him because the monitor was turned on again and the door was cracked.

last update, we tried green beans last night from a jar. he did not like that at all! i'll try again today.

Today was muuuuuuuch better than yesterday. Much less crying, whining, fussing, etc. By this evening, I have acquired new crap from Babies 'R Us: Dr. Brown bottles, powdered formula container and Playtex binkies. Before having a baby, I never understood why people needed so much crap with a baby. Now, I get it. We use everything given to us or bought. I once thought that 16 wash cloths was a waste- we'll never use these! Oh no. They get used. All of them. Especially now that we're playing with foods like carrots, avocados, and cereals.

speaking of which. I tried the standing technique this evening in a vain attempt to feed Josh some oatmeal cereal. That so did not work. I think he just doesn't like oatmeal. He used to be ok with it, but not the last few times I tried. And no, I am NOT adding cinnamon. I'll try standing again tomorrow with carrots and/or rice cereal to see if it's the food or something else. For anyone thinking about trying to feed their baby standing, wear a plastic poncho raincoat.

I am now a member of a Yahoo group of moms. This is a great forum to share ideas, ask questions and feel a little more connected to others going through the same baby situation. I sent this today:

"I asked the facilitator (Tammy & her new side-kick, what's her name?) in this morning's group about tips for feeding solids. I explained that Josh has been fussy off and on during feedings and how can I get down solids better. There were no suggestions and only two others in the group are doing solids and experiencing the same challange I am. Then, I had success! Maybe it was a fluke, but maybe not.

To start my story, I have a weakness for candy corn. I love it. And every year near Halloween I can't get anough of it. So after giving Josh a bottle for "lunch", I stood in the kitchen holding him and started snacking from my candy corn bag waiting for him to burp or spit up. He was focused on my eating the candy and opened his mouth as the candy went into mine. Maybe he was imitating me or maybe he wanted some candy too. Anyway, I had a brilliant idea. My candy corn was orange and so are the carrot jars. So I casually opened a jar while we stood in the kitchen and offered him a spoon. Spoon after spoon of carrot went into his mouth and generally stayed there. He was great with this arrangement. The only drawback was getting a little carrot goop on my shirt (luckily it's black) and a lot on his white bib. We got through a whole jar standing up! I will try this again tonight and see how it goes."

In other news, this weekend is shaping up to be eventful. We're trekking across town tomorrow to get my husband's hair cut (we go to a fabulous gay guy named Richard), visiting a nursing home on Sunday afternoon with Josh dressed as a pumpkin and letting Rusty's parents watch Josh for a few hours in the afternoon. Maybe we'll get out to a park too and throw a few discs.

excerpt of an email sent to Melissa: "I'm cleaning out my inbox (i have many pages of messages that need to go) and this one stood out for some nostalgic reason. i think josh's 4th month has been the best so far. this month is shaping up with new challenges such as teething, sleeping interruptions, general fussiness, louder squawking and crying, stinkier poo and solid foods messiness. There are plenty of good things such as rolling over, more smiles, more laughter, more alertness and awareness of his surroundings, new sounds, longer attention span, self play, etc. I guess what I'm rambling towards is I passed the last month so fast and didn't appreciate how easy and pleasant it was until that time had passed.

today was an exceptionally bad day with food rejection, crankiness, loud cries, not wanting to be laid down, and spitting up all over my new jeans within hours of wearing them for the first time. i hope next month gets better and i pay attention to how easy things are compared to where we're headed next."

i had a mommy meltdown after dinner. i was so stressed out from josh's fussiness and loud crying, and so tired from being up half a dozen times over night. rusty casually mentioned "maybe we should start him on formula" and something in my brain clicked. i slowly turned from general tired and cranky to weeping. i still don't know what exactly got to me. I guess i had had enough and needed to purge.

we went to a Halloween playdate hosted by one of the moms in my new moms group. it was fun for about 30 minutes then i spent the rest of the time soothing a cranky baby. I brought a bag of milk to defrost and pour into a bottle. it takes about 5 minutes to defrost it with hot water and two hands to pour it into the bottle. not only did josh get pissed about having to wait to be fed, he really got pissed about being laid down on his back while i poured the milk into the bottle. so he's on a screaming frenzy while other babies and moms are taking pictures and playing. Then he was sleepy after his bottle so he proceeded to cry and whine and fuss. and spit up. so i spent another 15 minutes soothing him and trying to get him to sleep in my arms while other moms where socializing and showing off babies everywhere. i finally gave up, packed our stuff and left knowing he would sleep in the car on the way home- which he did.

one problem of late is my transition from the breastfeeding to bottle feeding. i only breastfeed josh in the morning now (twice) and the rest of the day is from a bottle. this takes time to prepare the bottle and then clean up afterwards. I'd like to keep pumping and giving him breast milk because it is so good for him, but pumping 4 times a day with one pump and using only two bottles is becoming a nightmare. i'm constantly cleaning and preparing for the next meal. and twice today josh was hungry before i expected him to be. so we did our first bottle of formula tonight. i think i'll buy a few more bottles tomorrow and solve at least one problem.

Matt Peck is over visiting tonight. I swear, I think he's Josh's best friend. He just smiled, laughed and lit up every time matt looked at him. We were supposed to be having a cheese and wine night but after stuffing ourselves with lasagna and playing a round of Tri-onminos, we've resorted to watching the tube and making fun of commercials. I should feel underwhelmed but ya know, it's nice just sitting around and not thinking or being responsible for keeping anyone alive.

rusty would like me to make a public announcement: he is the fixer of things broken. He has, in this week alone fixed my laptop problem by ordering a replacement (hypersonic, and no, not colored), installed a new wifi repeater that doesn't drop my connection every time the phone rings or the microwave is used, and he hung a skeleton on the porch for Halloween. Although he had to nag me to write something sappy and positive about him, he actually is pretty handy. And not in a honey-do way. He cooks, cleans, entertains Josh, keeps us online, maintains our websites, keeps plants alive, fixes stuff around house and more. So cheers. Here's to a guy worth keeping.

Don't feed babies cinnamon. I had heard from someone that they used to put just a little cinnamon in their baby's oatmeal cereal to give it a little taste. I tried this a few days ago without incident. We've been doing rice cereal and avocado since Sunday. Tonight I fed Josh some oatmeal with a little cinnamon added. He took it just fine and things seemed all fine and normal until right before bed time. While playing in front of the mirror with him, he all of a sudden vomited. Not like the typical baby spit up, no this was a lot coming out quickly. I cleaned up the carpet and didn't think too much of it. I figured it was pressure from not burping enough or just a really bad bout of spit up. I got him a bottle for the night and he fell asleep in my arms half way through the bottle. As I laid him down in his crib, he began spitting up so I picked him to get a good burp. But again he barfed up probably his whole bottle (about 2.5 ounces) and some more cinnamon oatmeal. I'm guessing the cinnamon was too hard on his immature digestive system although it seems harmless enough. I feel terrible now if that was what caused him to be sick. He's sleeping now (and still breathing last I checked) but when he wakes up I'm sure he'll be hungry.

In other news, he's learned how to stick out his tongue and blow air at the same time. So for the last two days he's been practicing this new trick when he's in a good mood. I've been doing it back to him, which usually cracks him up.

Other than our bad cinnamon incident, avocado has been going well. He doesn't really like it so much but we usually get through half an avocado. The last couple of times he fussed and screamed during the avocado feeding so I picked him up and had to soothe him before we try again. I've found I can feed him while holding him on my hip. It worked great this morning when he was cranky. He finished the last four spoonfuls like a pro. The other problem I'm having is his hands. He wants to put his hand(s) in his mouth after the spoon comes out. This of course prevents me from scraping the stuff that comes out off of his chin (which gets stirred with the remaining food for refeeding), and it makes an awful mess, and most importantly, it gets on his hands which he uses to rub his eyes. When food, like avocado oil, gets in his eyes, he gets fussy. I haven't found a solution yet because I don't have a third hand to use to hold his arms down. If I do restrain him, he yells at me which effectively ceases all feeding until he gets a grip. All of these complaints are exactly what I feared starting solid foods. It's super messy, takes more time to set up and clean up, there's no guarantee he'll like it or cooperate, and there's a chance he'll get it in his eyes. nose, ears, hair, etc.

One last update, I'm taking him off the breast except for morning feedings. His little tooth is sharp as a nail. He hasn't full on bitten me (yet) but I know my days are numbered. I figure early mornings he's hungry enough and sleepy enough that there's a lower chance for playing around. So far we've been adjusting ok. I pump an hour or thirty minutes before I think he'll be hungry then offer him a bottle. Unfortunately, I have one pump. Which means it gets washed about 4-5 times a day. I'll keep this up as long as I have patience for it. At some point we'll transition him to formula and solids, but I'm trying to use breast milk as long as possible because it's so good for him.

We tried avocado today as Josh's first vegetable. He did not like that! Not only did he grimace, he spit it all back out and barfed it up again later. I’ll try again this evening and if he still doesn’t like it, we’ll move on to green beans or squash or something like that. I thought cereal was messy. Now I know that messy is only the beginning! At least cereal doesn’t have the potential to stain and show easily when it comes up again. Avocado was very noticeable.

Now that Josh learned to roll over from his back to his tummy, he's doing it just about every time I lay him down. He even attempted to roll from his tummy to his back but got stuck half way. He's officially at a dangerous age where he must be watched every second while on the change table or sofa.

His little tooth is just waiting to draw blood while nursing. Every time I go to breastfeed him I'm nervous he'll decide to chew on me. I've begun to take him off as soon as he even hints at being done. Perhaps now is a good time to transition him to a bottle. We'll see how this week goes.

My laptop has a problem with the 'n' key. It does 't also go dow . So this blog e try is i ho or of the stupid key. Rusty subjected me to a old 80's movie starri g Ar old Schwarze egger called The Ru i g Ma . I watched some of it i betwee mome ts of avoidi g it. Wow. I k ew the 80's made some really bad movies, but that was aweful. Dumb li es, bad effects, big hair, and the all too typical 80's e di g where the guy gets the reluctant girl a d people everywhere are happy about somethi g. The o ly redeemi g aspect was the discovery of two li es used as samples i music by Messiah. But why stop with o e bad movie whe you ca re t three! That's right! He also got The Adve tures of Buckaroo Ba zia a d Death Race 2000. I'd like to show him my appreciatio of this mild torture by highjacking our etflix queue with movies I'd like to see:

Lost i Tra slatio
Spa glish
The Aviator
Team America: World Police
The Triplets of Belleville
Layer Cake
A Very Lo g E gageme t
Rabbit Proof Fe ce

There are others, but these stand out in the queue as more i teresti g to see tha some forgotte 80's flick. To Rusty's credit, he has dece t taste i movies most of the time. He i troduces ew thi gs to me I would probably overlook. But every so ofte we get stuff like Alie vs. Predator a d Retur er. I could list the movies I should be ashamed of orderi g- oh gee, look at the time! I should really get getti g to bed! :-P

This is the week of many firsts. Josh can roll over from his back to his tummy. He's done this several times today, quite to my surprise. He's also trying to crawl backwards when he's on his tummy. But he doesn't have it down right yet. He sticks his butt up in the air, pulls his knees under and pushes back with his hands and face. Yes, he uses his face to help push himself backwards. Silly guy! He'll rub his nose right off doing that! He has successfully endured both rice and oatmeal cereals so I'm looking at starting him on a vegetable this weekend. Another first- he's sticking his fingers in his mouth after each spoonful of cereal. I'm not sure if he's just playing around or enacting the eating process. Well let me assure you, it's WAY messier with his hands involved than just pushing goop in and wiping it off his chin, nose, cheeks, hair, ears, chest, back of the chair... Now the stuff goes wherever his hand goes- chin, nose, cheeks, hair, ears, chest, knees, legs, feet, clothes, back of the chair, my neck, my hair, my glasses, my shoulder, my face...

Today we went to the pumpkin patch to take pictures. I got a few cute shots of him propped up against a pumpkin. He discovered he could kick dirt with his feet and obsessed over that the entire time he was set on the ground. Maybe I should get him to a park to kick dirt around more often. He grabbed a piece of straw to chew on (I had an image of my son growing up in Kansas with wheat grain hanging out of mouth) but I had to take it away since he was not coordinated enough to avoid poking his eye out.

Speaking of eyes, Rusty claims the color has shifted to a grey-ish tent from the pretty blue he started with. I can't see it. I still blue as a Blue Jay eyes. If he gets any grey or green, it's from me. I have green-blue-grey eyes. I'm hoping he keeps a crystal blue color like his dad's eyes. Rusty has eyes that are very easy to look at. :)

My period came back AGAIN!!! It's the third time in a month! urgh! I wasn't very moody today but I was ready to cry after seeing a cancer survivor on Oprah. Normally stuff like that doesn't phase me, but it must have been hormones or something. So I went for a stroll with Josh. When the weather is good and I have enough energy, I sometimes trek from my house to the shopping center a mile up the road on Midway & Frankford. That walk did me in. Whatever energy I had when I left is somewhere on the sidewalk outside. I am pooped (no baby pun intended) and should get sleep while I can.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I was busy from Tuesday night cleaning the house and making room for everyone until late Wednesday putting stuff away. I invited a group of moms to come to our house with their babies for a playday. I had six moms show up plus Melissa who is expecting. Josh had a pretty good time interacting with several of the other babies. A couple of babies tried out the Jumparoo but they didn't know how to jump. Josh demonstrated his jumping abilities but I guess that wasn't enough to teach the others.

I went to lunch today with Dorothy & Melissa. We went to Dream Cafe in Addison in the Village on the Parkway shopping center. I was surprised by how kid friendly it was (having a small playground area) and how healthy the menu was without being overly salady. I hate it when restaurants pack on salads to their menu to appear healthy. I had the Tuscan Salmon- salmon crusted with sun dried tomatoes, rice pilaf and fried zucchini. It was delicious! Their patio area was packed with patrons who opted to take advantage of the cool weather. The only gripe I had was the service. The waiter was slow to take our order, bring our dishes and present our bill. He didn't check on us after our meals were served but luckily our dishes arrived without incident and were very tasty!

Tomorrow is supposed to be action packed as well, but I'm sure if things will work out that way. Someone from the new moms group wantyed to organize a get-together at a pumpkin patch so we can take pictures of our babies in costumes. BUT over the past two weeks, the email thread of discussion attempting to organize this event has not materialized into any firm plans. I've emailed the lady wanting to organize this but she has not replied. I think the problem is that no one wants to make plans and invite others to join. Instead, it's turned into a discussion among many trying to decide when and where and how. If someone would just step up to the plate and make a decision and let others join or not, that would be better than this back and forth discussion. Maybe by tomorrow morning someone will have done that.

We tried the cry-it-out sleep method last night. Josh did not put himself to sleep. He woke around 2:20am wailing in his sleep. I tried to soothe him, offer him a pacifier, I turned on a fan for white noise, wound up a music box he likes- nothing worked. So I gave up trying and decided to let him cry himself to sleep. He cried from 2:2o to about 3:40am. At 3:40 I intervened. Not only was he not letting up in his cry and falling asleep, but neither was I. I gave it a whole hearted hour and almost a half. Despite the cry-it-out method not working, he did tire himself out and slept from 4am to 7:30 without a peep. I like the effect of getting him tired enough to sleep the rest of the night, but not at the expense of keeping me up and making him cry for so long.

On another front, Rusty declared to me last night that he feels he has a drinking problem. He doesn't have a destructive problem (anger, driving, doing stupid things) but it is persistent. Just about every night he ends with a "night cap" of either scotch or a rum and coke. Some nights he fills up on rum and coke and goes overboard. Like last night. Learning from my mother's experiences with my dad, I am determined to nip this in the bud. Today I will empty the house of our alcohol. Even the wine we sometimes drink at dinner. I haven't figured out where to put it, but it all needs to leave the home for a while. Next, we'll talk things out and work on his nighttime behavior. Get him a new routine for the night. I have to applaud him though. He did the best thing he could do- he involved me. He acknowledge this was getting out of hand and wanted my help. This is already a great start to overcoming the habit.

Josh didn't sleep well last night which means I got almost NO sleep. He stirred about a dozen times between 8:30pm and 7:30am. He doesn't fully wake up, but if left to cry in his sleep, he evetually does fully wake up crying making it more difficult to get back to sleep. This has been going on for a week and a half. Last night was especially rough. I'm thinking about calling the pediatrician for advice or guidance. I know he ca put himself to sleep, I've seen him do it for naps and a few nights. But it's the excessive night wakings that are causing us all to be sleep deprived. Except Josh.

Teething has officially begun, no doubt. I was holding Josh at church this evening letting him drool and chomp on my finger (I usually bend my finger and offer the joint between the knuckle and the fingertip), and that's when I left it. A small but definitely firm, slightly sharp spot on the bottom gum. I tried to get a good look but it's difficult. Babies don't exactly cooperate. In an effort to help him sleep better, I gave him .8 mL of infant Tylenol before bed. Hopefully this will keep him from waking every hour, like last night, and keep him asleep until the medicine wares off.

Feeding him solid mush is going well. I know most people (moms) go with rice cereal first because it's suppose to be the grain that is least likely to cause a food allergy. The problem with that theory is that it assumes babies will have an allergy. I took the assumption that Josh would not have a food allergy and started with oatmeal. No surprise- he's fine. I'll pick up some rice cereal this weekend and start him on that next week. For anyone looking for decent advice on feeding, I like But like most parenting articles and advice, it's a lot of guess work and little real science.

I also got some new toys for Joshy today. Inspired by his insatiable need to chew on stuff, and his limited toy selection, I found a few things to entertain him. I'm still bitching about the lack of things to do with a 4, now 5, month old babe. New toys will help tummy time be a little more interesting for a month or so- until Christmas. And getting out with other moms to do stuff will help curve mine and their boredoms. Of course, this is in regards to the at-home moms, not the working moms who have more than enough going on at home.

Today was a good day overall. Rusty's parents watched Josh for a couple hours allowing me to run an errand, do stuff at home and attempt a nap. They've offered to watch him a few hours each weekend to give us some reprieve. At first I was a little reluctant to hand him over so much. Now I've relaxed and decided that's not so bad. They really want to spend every moment with him they can and I really want a break beyond the few hours I get from Rusty each week. Even if I do nothing but snack on the sofa and watch TV for an hour, that's quality "me time" I couldn't do with Josh. So I'm glad they've offered to watch him once a week. It's nice having family in town to help out, even if they are in-laws! :)

Oh dear God I think we've started teething. Josh has been fussy during the night wailing in his sleep after only an hour or two of sleep. Speaking of wailing...

I saved time today feeding Josh his oatmeal cereal by just tossing half the container on his bib and face. (just kidding) He’s getting better at swallowing. I’ve sweetened the deal by using breast milk instead of water. I think he likes that better and it adds nutrition to an otherwise bland cereal. I think I’m getting better too at finding out how to make the spoonfuls stay in. But it’s still a holy mess.

A growing pet peeve of mine is the lack of friends contacting me/us. It seems like unless I’m hosting something (party, BBQ, game night) people don’t take the initiative to call or get together. I spoke to a few people last week I haven’t seen since Josh was born. That was five months ago. In our conversation, inevitably they close with “We should get together” or “I need to come see you guys”. And then nothing happens. In marketing, we use a term called Call-To-Action in advertisements. That’s the corny but essential line that tells people to do something in response to the ad, like get off their lazy butts and buy the product. “Call Today!” “Buy One Now!” “Visit Us Online!” “Attend Our Sales Event!” People who make comments like “we should get together” should make a call-to-action statement. “We should get together sometime- Are you busy Sunday afternoon?” If they don’t, their putting the initiation on me to contact them (again) to do something. It’s like the empty line at the end of a bad date: “I’ll call you”. If I took the initiative to contact them, and they feel the need to reconnect as friends, they should be the ones to make something happen. Propose a date and time to call, do lunch, have drinks, visit, whatever. I guess I'm tired of being the one to make the first call or schedule the events.

“Proof” is a decent movie but leaves you wanting more. It’s the fancy meal that looks good on the menu but the portion is way too small. Four characters make up this dish: Gwyneth Paltrow is the daughter who cared for her father before he died – Anthony Hopkins is the father - Jake Gyllenhaal is a grad student who idolizes the father’s work - Hope Davis plays a controlling sister who wants to sell the family house after the father dies. There are several potential stories going on: Half crazy recluse girl questions her sanity. Boy meets crazy girl and starts a fleeting relationship. Father makes some great contribution to math and science in his formative years. Girl learns from father her own flare for mathematical genius. Sisters fight over how to settle several matters. Sister tries to “fix” things after their father dies. All of these stories are started but none are fully resolved. This film was a cross between Beautiful Mind and Shakespeare in Love. I have a hard time deciding what this movie is about because so much is set up but nothing is really explored in detail or finished. It would have been great to know how the father went insane, why the controlling sister is so different, what motivates the daughter and the grad student to understand the math left in the wake of the father’s death. Anyway, it was fun to watch and worthy of a rental for those who are looking for my opinion.

So just how did I see “Proof” anyway? The Angelika Theatre has a Cry Baby Matinee for people with little ones. They put out a diaper change table and keep the lights dimmed so we mothers can see what we’re doing. Josh watched some of the movie with me, played on my lap a little then took a nap. About five or six other women with babies were there, along with a few non-baby people who either didn’t know it was a special matinee or didn’t care. No one’s baby cried loudly or caused a scene. Overall, it was nice getting out and bringing the babe with me. I’ll probably do this again. There should be more places that offer baby-friendly things to do in the daytime. Performance halls, theatre houses, comedy clubs, gyms, zoos, museums, and the like could benefit from offering discounts to stroller pushing patrons in the day.

Last bit of update about Josh... I'm slowly trying to teach him how to put himself to sleep at night. It's not going well. I like sleeping too much to try the cry-it-out method, even for two minutes. He doesn't nap long enough in the day to practice. Plus, I feel guilty letting him bawl if he wakes up and no one soothes him. His only way to communicating is through crying sounds, even if he's not really upset about something. So I've been popping the pacifier in whenever he stirs in his sleep at night. My only progress is laying him down somewhat awake but really sleepy to let fall asleep on his own. But I'm not sure how to best handle the waking from sleep and returning to sleep issue. Ahhh- a question to pose to the next new moms group on Friday. :)

Oh sweet nap time! I love it when Josh naps for more than 30 minutes. He's been down for an hour now. That gives me a chance to do stuff with two hands. :)

The weather is cooling off, finally! I've taken Josh to the park a couple times, strolled him around, gone for walks in the neighborhood and plan to do more outdoorsy things this week. One idea I have is to go to the Nash Sculpture Center in downtown. It's an outdoor museum with (yep) sculptures and a garden. I think he'd enjoy looking at weird objects and a change of scenary.

I'm also thinking about inviting some of the moms I know who have babies around Josh's age over to our house for lunch and playtime. This requires I baby proof the house a bit, clean up and prepare some munchies. Maybe next week.

Today was a very active day for Josh. We went to Melissa’s baby shower from 3pm until around 7pm. For him, that’s a long time. She got showered with gifts and well wishes from friends and family. I contributed three things for the mom-to-be (Boppy, Lansinoh, nursing pads) and three things for the baby-to-be (diapers, pacifiers, swaddle blanket). And two books, per the quirky request of the sister who sponsored the shower. Rusty joined for a little over an hour then ran off to run sound at church. Josh had a great time seeing people and playing on people’s laps. I managed to get him to sleep for twenty minutes during the gift opening. Whenever he sleeps at someone else’s house with lots of people around, I get paranoid about people waking him up. That didn’t happen but I kept my eye on the door and watched people walking through the hallway just in case.

Melissa is due in a month. I remember my last month well. I was leaving work. I got sick two weeks before his due date. I couldn’t fit into anything but three outfits and barely three shoes. I was hungry a lot. I tried various tactics to encourage a timely delivery such as acupuncture, evening primrose, nipple stimulation, sex, walking, making plans to do things. None of the above worked except making plans for lunch. I was never really uncomfortable either. Rather, I anticipated the arrival of the baby and got impatient waiting. He was getting heavy and had dropped well before I went into labor. I also remember savoring those days knowing that once I went into labor and delivered him, that my life would change forever and I would assume a new, busy role as a mom. My comment inside Melissa’s card read: Enjoy the moments. I wish I could repeat Josh’s first week again (without the breastfeeding problems). He was so tiny and easy to care for at that time. I used to go to yoga classes back when I was pregnant. The yoga instructor struck a cord with me one day when she said children begin their separation from us (the moms) starting with birth. It’s so true. First there’s the labor when the baby comes out. Then we cut the cord and we no longer supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to him. The mother carries the baby around for months until he learns to crawl. Baby starts to crawl away exploring the world. Then they start walking and running. Years later, maybe in junior high the child exercises independence and freedom. That continues in various forms until adulthood, when they move out of our home. It’s as if our babies are slowly pulled away as they grow up.

Josh successfully swallowed his first few spoonfuls of baby cereal this morning! I was surprised that he didn't totally reject it and spit it all out. He actually took in several hearty spoonfuls. After several minutes of feeding, spitting up and picture taking from Rusty, I breastfed him to make sure he was well fed. The goal today wasn't to provide a full meal. I wanted to see if he was ready to swallow food and able to be fed in the high chair. This is the first step towards solids and ultimately independence from me.

I tried the mall walking thing today. Around lunch time, I decided to load up the kiddo and wander around the Galleria mall for something to do. Many moms do this, and I suppose they enjoy it. I don't get it. I think this is another one of those role-reversal moments for me. When I go shopping, I seek that which I am shpopping for. If I need a blue skirt, I look for places that are likely to have skirts. I don't wander into other stores until I have my goal. So wandering around the mall without a specific goal was (is) foreign to me.

So why did I do it? I have a theory that Josh needs more stimulation than just hanging out at home. I thought I'd walk him around the mall and into a couple shops to give him something different to look at. For about 15 minutes after he woke up from his car ride nap, it worked well. He was animated and excited to see everything within his view. We walked into a toy store for him to look at and nearly grab everything. Then he was done and began to fuss.

I'm hoping if I increase stimulation (i.e. expereince more than what's at home) he'll sleep better/longer at night and be less cranky in the evenings. We'll see if this works. Luckily the weather is about to cool down making it easier to be outside.

I've been reading a book called The Poo Bomb by Jeff Vogel. It was a gift from a friend's ex-girlfriend. I was skeptical about the book at first because I didn't feel I related to the person it came from. You know, people with like-minds tend to enjoy similar things. I was worried this would be another lame parenting book or some boring account of someone's experience with their baby in the first year. It was neither. I am totally hooked on this book. The writer, the dad, cracks me up. It's refreshing to read about someone who is twisted describe the mundane, like diaper changes and blank stares from a newborn. Don't bother picking this up with you want a feel-good, "Betty Homemaker" type of book. For the new parent who wants a little comic relief, this is worth the read.

Here's a rant about Dallas. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to bitch, but here goes... Living in Dallas sucks big hairy balls. Especially in the summer. It's too damn hot to do anything. This last month was a record high in temperatures. If I want to enjoy going outside I have to do it at sunrise or sunset. Last week I was excited that the highs would drop ten degrees- from 100 to 90. It’s so hot nobody wants to be outside. We went from damn hot to real hot. And since no one is outside, everyone is either sitting in a car (read: SUV tank) with the AC cranked or hiding indoors with the AC cranked. And nothing is free here. I’m talking about things-to-do kind of free. We don’t have street performers or a nice park to wander around in or long streets of shops and cafes or anything fun worth looking at. No bays or mountains or rivers or beaches or forests or anything remotely interesting other than malls. And even those aren’t worth going to because they all have the same damn stores with the same crap for sale. You can’t go hiking or biking. There’s no place to walk to and no one knows how to drive with cyclists on the streets. The only place that gets interesting is Deep Ellum at night. Six blocks of shops, clubs, bars and restaurants uphold the evening entertainment for the entire city, and some of Fort Worth! Fort Worth at least has a nice downtown to wander around. Our downtown in Dallas is pitiful! Homeless people everywhere, no shops open after dark and only a handful of restaurants. The tourists go to the West End, which would be cooler to visit if there were more than just chain restaurants. Sure there’s historical sites and a few museums. But what does this town offer for those who have already been to the museum and seen the landmarks? We don’t have local coffee shops with old sofas and good music. We don’t have breweries. We barely have pubs. The daytime culture in Dallas is nil. People work then go home and stay home. A few get out to dance or play pool or listen to music at night, but other than that, Dallas as a community is nonexistent. Recap: it’s too hot to enjoy stuff in the day because I don’t want to go shopping just to be entertained and there’s not enough to do at night except eat, drink or dance. I can’t wait for the temperature to go down next week. I really can’t wait to move to a town that has pedestrians, local shops, things to do and interesting places to be. I’m convinced that if Dallas had more pedestrians, the town would be a little bit more hip. It would force people to be interactive and make being outside worthwhile.



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