Movie Night

May 14th, 2009

Last night, on a whim, Heather and I left all three kids with Salma and treked (heh heh) over to the theater to see tho new Star Trek movie. They refurbished one (or more) of there screens which are now branded as IMAX screens. Well, I think that’s overstating it a bit. The screens are bigger and concave a bit and the sound system is good but it’s not the usual IMAX huge, all-enveloping screen experience. Anyway, I digress…

Heather and I haven’t actually been out for a grownup night out in months. I don’t actually remember the last time. The movie was great, but best part of the evening was just being out. We need to do that more often, especially now that we have a kid with Salma again and can more easily take advantage of her babysitting.

Photos, Middle Names, Dates

March 22nd, 2009

Photos of Julia are up on the ZenFolio site.

Turns out that Lee is a more common middle name in my family than I realized.  Dan and Cathy both have Lee as middle name.  A couple others’ too, but forget who at the moment.

My Aunt Shirley (Dad Stevens’ sister) also has March 4th birthday.

The Donut Song

March 22nd, 2009

When I was a kid my Grandpa Mallone (Mom’s dad) used to sing a couple songs to us.  “You Are My Sunshine” was popular, but “The Donut Song” was the best.  The lyrics as I recall are:

Oh I walked around Columbus and I walked around the block
And I walked right in to a donut shop.
And I picked me a donut right out of the grease
And I handed the man a fine cent piece.
Well he looked at the nickle and he looked at me
And he said “This nickle’s no good you see.”
“For there’s a whole that goes right through.”
Said I “There a whole in the donut too.”
“Thanks for the donut, good bye”

I sang this to all three of my kids in the delivery room when they were born.  Finally a few months ago I remembered to ask grandpa where the song came from.  He remembered singing it around the fire camping with the Boy Scouts.  I think he was a troop leader (maybe founder) somewhere out in northwestern Ohio.  I think this was the late 1930′s.

In writing the post earlier about Julia’s birth I googled some lines from the song to see if I could find anything about it.  Turns out that I’m not the only person with fond childhood memories of this song:


March 4th, 2009

I was sleeping in the kids room when Heather called to me around 5:30am asking if I’d fetch her a cup of water and a couple popsicles.  I dragged myself out of bed mumbling under my breath wondering why she couldn’t get them herself.  Oh, contractions, eh?  Well, we’ve had those a few times over the last month or so, no big deal.  I dutifully collect the provisions from downstairs and return to bed for a bit more precious sleep.

A couple hours later I’m up and wrangling the kids to get them ready for school.  Contractions haven’t stopped, in fact they are more frequent and more painful.  Hmmmmm.  Heather calls the midwife at the hospital while I explain to kids what’s happening.  “Mommy’s belly has to squeeze hard to make the baby come out.  Maybe it’s time for the baby to come, maybe her body is just practicing.”  The kids seem to take this remarkably in stride.  We call the grandparents and tell them to make sure they have cell phones on them today.

Around 8:30 or so and we need to get to the hospital.  I’m practically begging the kids to cooperate with me during the morning routine, really, please.  They’re pretty good and are excited about what’s going on.  Brendan holds on to me and doesn’t want to let go when I drop him, but we manage without too much drama.

Driving to the hospital maybe 9:00-ish.  Having been through this drill a couple times I’m still not much less anxious than the first time.  Difference is that this time I know whan to be anxious about.

Hmmm… guess we need a name.  Kid wasn’t supposed to come for another week and we’re pretty unprepared.  Heather had mentioned Julia a few weeks ago so I’d been mulling over that.  I wasn’t immediately fond of it but it grew on me.  For Fiona we had books of names and lists and long talks comparing our favorite names.  For Brendan we had discussed a few names but had to decide on one in the hospital.  For #3 there was just one name in contention unless we wanted to pick something out of thin air.  Fiona was almost Isabella – still love that name but know a couple Isabellas now.  Brendan would have been Madeleine if he was a girl, but again we now know a few Madeleines.  I’d love something Italian as a nod to my Italian ancestry – Lucia maybe?  Nah, Julia is pretty.  Julia Lee Callahan Stevens.  Lee is both my dad’s middle name and Heather’s grandfather’s middle name (the great grandfather with whom Julia shares a birthday.)

In the hospital now, they are monitoring Heather, taking blood, etc.  Hook up the IV.  At some point Heather and I look and each other and realize what was already obvious to the staff – they aren’t evaluating Heather’s condition, they are prepping her for the c-section.  More phone calls.

The very friendly nurse can’t get the IV into Heather.  Thank goodness Heather has gotten over much of her needlephobia.  Several tries later and the nurse goes to find someone else to try.  Lucky for us the one nurse with legendary ability to find veins comes on duty just at that moment.  She used to work in corrections and had to deal with drug addicts whose veins were a mess.  Apparently she has drawn blood from between a patient’s fingers before when nothing else was usable.  She nails the IV first try.

They bring in the scrubs for me.  Actually not scrubs this time, some type of all white, one piece, tyvek bodysuit thing.  Looks like a painter’s outfit.  Heather gets wheeled off.  I wait a bit.  I remember this wait being subjectively forever with Fiona’s and Brendan’s births, not so long this time.  I make my way down the hall and take the seat at Heather’s right shoulder.

I try to make small talk with Heather to distract her from what’s going on.  I fail.  We chat with the anesthesiologist, she’s very friendly.  I guess they always are the ones sitting up above the patients head during surgeries so they develop the appropriate conversational skills.

Julia decides that this is a good time to start a gymnastics routine.  The docs and nurses actually all stop what they are doing to watch in amazement at the obvious gyrations.  I comment that it’s not fair for them to say things like “Look at that, that’s amazing!” right after cautioning me not to look over there past the drape.

Heather and I chat, trying to decide if they’ve actually started the procedure or not.  I’m certainly not going to look to find out, would likely pass out.  Doc says something that makes it obvious they have.  I few moments later we hear a little baby wail.  Heather mentions to me later that you can actually feel when they lift the baby out.  They hold Julia up above the drape so we can see for all of about 3 seconds before she’s off to the fry warmer.

Aside from that first wail she hasn’t been crying.  Has been a few minutes now.  Not a real cause for concern but they do try to get more gunk out of her lungs just to be sure.  Anesthesiologist (I can’t believe I’m spelling that right, or at least well enough to fool spell checker) takes camera from me and is snapping lots of photos.  They wrap Julia up and bring her over to me.  I do my best to hold Julia where mom and daughter can get a good look at each other.  More photos.

After a little bit I move with Julia back to a seat against the wall to make room for the bed they wheel in for Heather.  For a few minutes it’s just Julia and me by ourselves.  I sing her the Donut Song, just as I sang it for her siblings when they were born.

Julia was taken away upstairs to see if they could dislodge more gunk from inside her.  Heather and I were in a small room on the delivery floor for a couple hours until Heather had recovered enough for us to move up to the maternity floor.  We were told that Julia was fine and that they’d bring her to us soon.  At this point it has been 2-3 hours since Julia’s birth, we haven’t seen her since the delivery room, and we’re tired of waiting.  As first time parents we would have dociley waited for the mechanization of the hospital to deliver our child to us.  As second time parents we would have asked about maybe possibly getting her sooner.  But by the third time it pretty obvious how this work around there – so I strolled down to the nursery and asked them for our baby.  Finally, some time with Julia.

Julia was born at 12:32pm and we finally got her to Heather’s room in the maternity ward sometime around 3:30.  Kids are still at school and their naptime just ended at 3pm.  Mom Stevens is on the road, hopefully here around 6:00 or so.  Time to figure out logistics.  After spending a little time with Heather and Julia I go to retrieve big brother and big sister from school so they can meed their new sibling.

I walk into Fiona’s class first.  She’s sitting at a computer with some other kids, her back to me.  The teachers look up and ask excitedly if the baby has arrived.  I nod.  They ask name and I say that I’ll let Fiona tell them.  Fiona notices me and comes running over.  We step out into the hallway and I tell her that the baby came.  She’s bursting with excitement and runs into her classroom to announce that she has a new baby sister.  I hail Fiona back to me and tell her Julia’s name, at which point Fiona even more excitedly runs back to the classroom to announce this bit of news too.

This reaction is actually a bit of a relief.  Fiona has been excited about the arrival of a new baby, but she wasn’t a big fan of the name Julia when Heather mentioned it to her.  Fiona wanted us to name her sister Rainbow.

I chat with Ms. Julie and Ms. Raza for a moment then sign Fiona out of the class.  Hmmm.. where did she go?  Oh, she’s already down the hall telling Brendan’s whole class.  I hurry to snatch Brendan and give him the news.  He’s pretty excited and wants to tell his teachers.  Hmmm.. where’s Fiona?  Oh, she’s across the hall announcing the news to the other room.  Brendan has grown from not wanting a new baby several months ago to being lukewarm about it lately, so his enthusiasm at this point is a relief.

I sign Brendan out and grab his stuff from his cubby.  Fiona is awol again…. down the hall this time telling whoever she randomly comes across the news.  We pile into the minivan, I produce two tootsie-pops that I procured from somewhere, and we’re off to the hospital.

Our friend Christine is already there and holding the baby when we arrived.  Heather had updated her facebook status and Christine is between jobs so drove right over.  It’s nice to have a friend around to share excitement with.  Kids are both wired, Fiona wants to hold Julia immediately.  She’s been waiting anxiously for months for the chance to hold her baby sister.  The novelty of a new sibling wears off pretty quickly for Brendan and after a bit longer for Fiona.  I set them up watching Air Buddies on my laptop.  Mom Stevens is there shortly afterwards.

After the movie I take the kids down to the cafeteria to eat.  They’ve about had their fill of that hospital room so I just need to get them out for a bit.  I get some chicken strips, fries, etc.  The kids treat the food with disdain.  Normal rules are suspended today, I let Fiona have the piece of chocolate cake she had picked out and Brendan gets his green jello.  The green jello turns out to look much more exciting than it tastes, Brendan wants my pudding instead.  No way buddy, I earned this pudding today, but I’ll go get you your own.

We return upstairs for a little bit before the kids need to head home to bed.  I head home with them to help Mom Stevens with their bedtime.  Trying to keep their routine as similar as possible and make sure they have lots of attention from Heather and me during these first few days.  Getting to sleep takes a while, but eventually they capitulate and I get to head back to the hospital.

Crib, take 3

February 15th, 2009

Well, I dragged the crib out from underneath the basement steps this afternoon and assembled it with a bit of help from Brendan and Fiona.  It’s strange to be putting it together again – aside from Heather’s belly it is the most palpable indication around the house that big changes are afoot.  Heather went to the store to buy new linens for the crib and a new (less stinky) diaper genie cantraption.

Oh boy, here we go :-)

Auto Show

February 15th, 2009

Brendan loves cars.  A lot.  I had been intending on taking him to the DC auto show this year but managed to miss it by a week.  Fortunately the Baltimore auto show was the following week.  So B and I ventured north this morning to check out some cars.

We got there before it opened.  B had a good time walking around on the various ledges, planters, etc in the convention center lobby.  We wandered upstairs to grab a bit of breakfast.  Breandan kept asking if we were going home – he was quite concerned that we were going to leave after seeing only the couple cars visible from the lobby.  He had no idea what was in store for him.

Once the show opened we stepped into the exhibit hall and were in the Toyota section.  Brendan wanted to get into pretty much every car he saw.  I expected as much and let him run from one to the other for a bit.  After a few minutes I picked him up so he could get a better idea how large the room was and how many cars there were to see.  We got into a routine where we’d take turns picking out cars to go sit in.  In this way I managed to move us across the show floor in a kind of Brownian motion-esque manner.

We’d walk up to a car, usually with Brendan tugging on my arm and leaning at a 45-degree angle to get me where he wanted us to go, and he’d crawl in or I’d lift him into one of the front seats.  Usually the driver side window was down so I’d close the door and watch through the open window as he explored the dashboard.  He was a bit disappointed that none of the controls worked, but it seemed to not diminish his excitement at all.

To my surprise Brendan was not really interested in turning the steering wheel and prentending he was driving.  Mostly he wanted to play with the controls and asked me what pretty much every button and lever on every dashboard was for.  Not being familiar with the obscure controls on most manufacturers’ dashboards I pretty much just said that every control was for a different light somewhere on the vehicle :-)

We probably went for about an hour before he showed signs of flagging energy and tolerance.  When I refused to let him sit in a Hummer H3 for the third time he sort of lost it.  Time out for some snacks.  He had a great time pretending his bottle of juice was a car and racing it back and forth along the tray-support-rail at the concession area while we waited for our lunch.  After a snack and a brief sit we were back to the cars.

The subaru exhibit had a tv showing some sort of rally-car event where two cars raced each other on parallel tracks.  Brendan was entralled by this.  At one point in the course one track had a spectacular jump across the other track.  The jumps as well as the inevitable scrapes with the walls/barricades/etc could have kept B  entertained for hours.  We had a bit of a disagreement when it was time to leave, but I lured him away with promises of sitting in the beatle-bug (VW Beetle) in the next exhibit.

We were both getting a bit weary – B was riding on my shoulders at this point with his head resting on its side on top of mine.  Nonetheless we wandered up to the other floor which had just a few cars on display.  Brendan was unimpressed with some of the exotic sports cars there but did perk up for the porche 911 (Sally car – from the movie Cars.)  Some insurance company had a few racing simulators hooked together and B insisted that we play despite my attempts to distract him.  He sat on my lap and helped me steer, it was pretty fun I have to admit.

Of course before we left we wandered across the miniture-car vendors.  Brendan picked out a 1/64 scale model of a white old-school racing Beetle (like Herbie is the Love Bug movies.  Who, incidentally, Brendan insists on calling Harvey for some reason.)

All throughout the day Brendan kept asking me “Are we going home?” every time I’d pick him up.  Not because he wanted to go, but because he was worried we’d leave.  Finally I had to answer “Yes” which caused a bit of stress but not too much.  The hotel we had to go through to get back to the car has some escalators and some glass elevators that are fun to ride and give a great view of the inner harbor.  Going up and down the elevators again on the way out helped ease the pain of leaving.

His favorite car was apparently the silver VW Beetle.

I used to really enjoy going to these shows with Scott when I lived in Philly, and more recently once or twice in DC with various friends.  I love sitting in the various cars I’ve read about and pondering what I might be driving in a few years.  Today’s agenda was more about what was brightly colored or looked fast/tough and not so much about what I’m actually interested in.  Nonetheless it was easily the best time I’ve had at a car show.  Brendan just radiated excitement the way only a small kid can.


December 3rd, 2008

My buddy Drew is a big Washington Capitals hockey fan and has season tickets.  He had a few extra tickets for the game last night and offered them to me earlier this week.  I haven’t seen a hockey game since the Caps moved to the Verizon Center downtown several years ago, and I thought the kids would enjoy all the sights and sounds, so I excitedly accepted Drew’s offer.

However, the kids’ initial reactions to the plan were not what I anticipated.  Fiona was dead-set against the idea.  She wanted to do anything else but go to the game, regardless of how I tried to entice or bribe her.  Brendan on the other hand was pretty excited.  Eventually I convinced Fiona that it would be fun, though Brendan had a last minute change of heart and had to be carried screaming to the car.  By the time we parked at the metro stop moods had improved and excitement had started to set in.  Brendan stepped out of the car without shoes or coat in the 40 degree weather to run and catch up with Fiona and I who were heading to the ATM.

This was Fiona’s first time on the metro where I gave her her own ticket rather than carried her.  I think using the metro ticket reader/gate was her favorite part of the evening.  Seriously.  The kids were great on the metro.  I was surprised at how easy it is to get from our place to the Verizon Center – the trip did not take long, no switchovers to other lines, and the metro exit is right next door to the arena.

Our seats were way up near the top in one corner.  Perfect for the kids.  Lots of other folks in those sections had kids along too.  Toughest thing is keeping the kiddies from kicking the people in the seats in front of them.  Kid legs aren’t long enough for their knees to reach beyond the front edge of the seat, so if they sit back in the seat their legs stick straight out.  If they scootch up in the seat so they can bend their knees then it’s just too tempting to swing their legs and inevitably kick the person in front of them in the head.  This happened several times.  (And the jerk sitting in front of Brendan was none too gracious about it, despite the fact he was toting along a couple youngsters of his own.)

Eventually we figured out that sitting crossed-legged (which Fiona calls criss-cross-applesauce) was the best solution.  Though when poor B attempted this the chair pretty much folder up on him :-)

We got to the game a few minutes into the first period and the kids actually lasted longer than I thought.  B got pretty tired near end of 2nd period so he and Heather headed out.  Fiona didn’t want to leave yet so she and I watched until almost the end of the 3rd period.  We metrod to King St. station then walked the mile or so home down Commonwealth Ave. from there.  It was a fun walk despite our tiredness, I carried her a bit of the way on my shoulders.  She likes to hear stories of when I was young or of when the dogs were younger so I regaled her with several of those.

Overall it was a far more successful evening than I would have thought given kiddie attention spans and so forth.  I’ll probably try to get Fiona to another game soon, maybe with B too.

Roosevelt Island Photos

November 23rd, 2008

Are up on my zenfolio site.

Roosevelt and Madagascar

November 22nd, 2008

This morning I packaged up the kiddies in their winter coats and trekked over to Roosevelt Island. Brendan was afraid of falling off the bridge today for reasons unknown (to me at least.) After a fall and hurt knee I agreed to carry him across. Oooph, he’s heavy. This with a camera slung over one shoulder and a backpack on the other. We said a fleeting hello to the ducks as we scurried across the bridge, the wind was fiercely cold.
Instead of heading straight for the plaza we took a short sortie to check out one of the other paths. There was a 3 foot section of a tree that had fallen and was sitting up so you could check out the rings. A little sign explained the basics of counting the rings and pointed out the brass nails in this particular log that were spaced at 5-year intervals to help in the counting. This specimen dated to about 70 years ago if my nail-counting skills are up to snuff. Fiona was very impressed when I explained that this was older than her grandparents, then even more awed when I mentioned that her two great-grandfathers were older than this huge log.
Brendan was less impressed with the log but did enjoy the huge fallen leaves from some of the trees.
We ambled over to the plaza where we engaged in the usual running around (the kids) and strolling aimlessly (me.) I think I grabbed a few good photos and hope to have them up tonight maybe.
After a trip to the opticians to straighten F’s glasses and a quick lunch at the bagel shop we needed something 1) less cold and 2) more restful for our next adventure of the day. So we directed The Castle (ie, the minivan) toward the theater and got tickets for Madagascar 2. All three of us enjoyed the movie, though I think a couple scary shark moments might be replayed in 3 year-old nightmares tonight.


November 19th, 2008

One of Fiona’s best friends, Caroline, started kindergarten this year so they don’t see each other every day. The last couple months we’ve been alternating visits on Tuesdays – one week Fiona goes to their house for the afternoon and evening, the next week Caroline and her big brother Peter come to our place. I work from home on Tuesdays and their father, Kurt, is home too so this works out great.

Yesterday we were host. Peter couldn’t come over due to a dentist appointment but Caroline and Fiona had a great time playing with paper dolls, dressing up, painting, etc. Prior to dinner I helped the two girls and Brendan make chocolate cupcakes, which I baked during dinner. While the kids were eating I frosted the cupcakes so the kids would have ready canvases for their sprinkle creations. Red, green and rainbox sprinkles were applied with abandon across cupcakes, countertops, clothing and the floor.

We also hosted Kadee (gah – I hope I’m spelling her name right), Eric and Rhonda’s baby girl. From her baby-chair perch on the dining room table she contentedly supervised the older girls’ painting and so forth. It was fun to have four kids running around. Not necessarily something I’d want to cope with on a daily basis however. Predictably the situation deteriorated not long after Caroline left for home. Kadee got hungry and unhappy, Fiona tripped down the stairs and hurt her back, Brendan fell flat on his back while getting his pj’s on and bonked his head on the floor, Fiona went into crying fit because she didn’t want Kadee to leave, etc.

Edit: I was wrong – Keady (I think)

This seems to be further proof that life is a zero-sum game with regard to joy and misery. I think the trick is to push those to the extremes that you’re comfortable with. I’ll have to think about that over a beer sometime.