Saturday, August 30, 2008


Sarah Palin? Really?!

Image Credit: Anchorage Daily News

By and large, we've refrained from putting presidential political commentary on this blog. It's not from a lack of thought and opinion on the subject. In short: we are inspired by and ethusiastically for Obama. We enjoyed the Democratic convention this past week, and next week's RNC will be quite interesting - being in our backyard and all. So maybe the Republican choice for VP isn't as interesting to us.

But, really, what on Earth is McCain thinking?

I guess I can fathom some of the thought process that lead to this choice. First off, Palin is anti-choice, rabidly so - a boon to the social conservatives. She's not Washington. She has, I guess, a reputation of being a crusading maverick, something that would naturally appeal to McCain - the image of McCain that he's tried to cultivate. She loves oil and gas. Oh, and guns. She's young, beautiful, and energetic.

And, oh yeah, she has breasts and ovaries. More on that in a moment.

But I can't possibly imagine how this actually helps McCain. If Obama is too inexperienced to be President, how much better is it to put Palin a 72-year old heartbeat away from the Oval Office? That number one argument against Obama goes right out the window. Theoretically she has executive experience - two whole years as governor of the nation's 3rd least populated state. But she has no particular expertise to bring to the table - economics, foreign policy, defense (being titular head of the Alaska national guard isn't quite the same), technology, or energy (a love of oil and gas dosn't count - you need more than that today).

No, I think the main thing she brings to the table are social conservative bona fides, and the fact that she's a woman. She'll be able to say all the things Republicans want to hear, and look great on camera doing that. The social conservative stuff is all well and good, but energizing the base probably won't be enough this time.

So, I think it boils down to: does McCain think we're all stupid? Does he think an otherwise undistinguished female VP candidate, by virtue of being a kindred "hockey mom," will be able to sway enough women to swing the election? The women who supported Hillary's candidacy are not going to support Palin, no matter how bitter they still are about the primaries, because they two are opposites in all ways except for that XX chromosome thing. Palin is not heir apparent to Hilary's trailblazing. Unless, of course, McCain and the GOP think women are stupid enough that they'll just not notice or care about the difference.

Think of it - of the others widely believed to be on McCain's short list, is Palin really the most qualified, not merely to compliment McCain's ticket, but to actually be President? No, I think that, for whatever reason, they rearranged their priorities away from the ones that matter most, and put "woman" at the top as though it were some trump card. Instead of another Dan Quayle, I think McCain will end up with another Harriet Meyers.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

4 weeks old!

Sorry, we've been a bit lax with the photos and updates this week. Brynna is doing great! She spends most of the day eating and sleeping, and then she has a few alert periods scattered throughout the day. During those, we usually read to her, play music, or otherwise try to do some interacting. She makes very good eye contact now and can even follow my face if I move slowly across her field of view. No social smile yet, it's a little too soon, but it's going to be a killer when it happens!

Brynna often gets a bit fussy right before bed, but after an hour or so settles down, eats, and then is very amenable through the night. She gave us almost 4 and a half hours of straight sleep last night! And we've pretty much got the lying-down breastfeeding figured out, which means that I barely have to wake up. Alex changes her and then rolls her into bed next to me to eat. Eventually one of us realizes she's done, and returns her to her swaddle in her cradle. Or I feed her again.

Here are a couple of photos of her in her cradle, which my grandfather made for me. Could she be any cuter in her little sleeper? Well, I suppose she could be wearing the matching hat.

Big yawn:


I love this shirt:

Here is Brynna reading with her Dad. She really seems to be focusing on the bright pictures:

And here are a couple from today. This one is with Beth, who gave us the birthday boards and who stopped by to visit this afternoon:

Here is Brynna next to the yummy arrangement that showed up from Grand and M (my parents) today. I ate off the entire back half before Alex even got home from work...but left this part for the photo op! Brynna seems a little annoyed that she cannot partake in the chocolate-covered pineapple. Her chocolate-colored gDiaper will have to do for now!

Friday, August 22, 2008

3 Weeks Old!

Brynna was 3 weeks old yesterday. No big celebration this week—we'll have to do something big for 1 month—but we did take a photo before all heading out for Jasper's evening walk. Here we are:

Jasper has become much less shy around Brynna, and has started poking his nose onto the couch to sniff at her when she is resting there or sitting on our laps. He'll be licking her feet (his favorite pastime with his humans) in no time! He has also not been as terrified of the stroller as I thought he would be, though I haven't yet ventured out solo with dog on leash and baby in stroller.

Brynna was a champ at the committee meeting this morning, sleeping in my arms throughout. (She stays asleep longer when being snuggled.) Then we visited Alex for a few minutes at his office. I think Brynna was too distracted by the unusual morning schedule to nurse very well despite several offers, so she lost it a bit as we headed out through the clinic. I discovered that the big main atrium is quite the echo chamber for a crying baby! Luckily, the nice ladies at the information desk were able to direct me to a nearby "family room" where I could feed her again, and she was then sleepily content for the walk home.

We're hoping for a nice relaxed weekend. There's a school picnic tomorrow that we are planning on attending tomorrow, and Alex is hoping to make some progress on the bathroom project, which has been on hold for a few weeks! And we can probably count on plenty of napping for the whole family.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Brynna has been out and about quite a bit for a three week old! She goes out with us to walk Jasper in the evenings, as long as her feeding schedule allows it.

We also went to a class party on Friday where she was much admired by all. She did get a little alarmed when 30 people started screaming at Michael Phelps on the TV, but other than that had a nice sleep, then some food, and then an awake period where some friends were able to hold her.

On Sunday, we went to a free concert in the park: Tommy James and the Shondells. Here is Brynna in her car seat, where she hung out snoozing quite happily for much of the concert:

Then she woke up for awhile and we danced a bit:

We also went for a nice walk to the library last week:

And we went (briefly) to the mall. Here I am figuring out her stroller.

The stroller is actually a "stroller frame," a nifty contraption that the car seat snaps onto. It is much lighter and easier to haul around than the usual sort of stroller. It also doesn't require moving Brynna from car seat to a stroller seat and back again, a particular bonus if she's sleeping. Once Brynna outgrows her carseat, then we'll buy a different stroller, but by then we'll have a better sense of what sort of features we need. Or maybe we'll just get by with a jogging stroller, which we already have!

And here's Brynna all dressed up for the La Leche League meeting a couple of nights ago:

I had a couple of specific breastfeeding questions, and got lots of tips about learning to do the side-lying position (thus letting me sleep while Brynna eats) and getting started with pumping when we are ready to introduce a bottle in a week or two. I will need to start building up a supply of stored milk before I head back to rotations!

Brynna is doing very well. My parents left on Monday morning, so Brynna and I have been alone during the days this week. I'm getting used to the lack-of-routine and learning to be less ambitious about what I get done each day! Today, other than the sleeping and eating that take up most of the time, we read a bunch of Sandra Boynton books plus The Little Engine That Could. Brynna seems to be starting to focus on—or at least look in the general direction of—the pictures. I also watched some Olympics and did some reading of my own...currently Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith.

Jasper and I have also been having a little outing of our own each morning. After Brynna's breakfast (usually between 6 and 7:30), I put her back down with Alex and take the fuzzy puppy out for a half hour or so. For the last week, I have been running—yes, running!—a tiny bit. The first day it was just a quarter mile, and it's been about a half mile every day since. We just walk the rest of our usual route. It's not much, but something. Besides, Jasper has to get back into training, too!

Monday, August 18, 2008


After Alex and I spent several months exploring the merits of unbleached disposable diapers versus cloth diapers versus the hybrid gDiapers, Brynna has been kitted out quite happily in gDiapers for the past couple of weeks.

What are gDiapers, you ask?

They are an Australian invention that have only been available here in the States quite recently. They consist of three layers: an outer cotton pant that comes in a variety of colors, a middle plastic waterproof liner, and an inner absorbent insert.

The insert is 1. flushable (this is the way that most people, including us, choose to dispose of it) 2. plastic-free (so much more quickly biodegradable than disposables if you choose to throw it out), and 3. compostable (only if wet...not a sanitary solution for dirty ones).

Then you just rinse or briefly hand-wash the waterproof layer, or it can go through the wash if it's gotten really gross. Those air-dry in about ten minutes.

The outer cotton pants usually do not get wet or dirty, so those can be reused. They do go right into the washing machine and dryer when they need it.

To put all the pieces together, we just snap the waterproof liner into the diaper and stuff the flushable insert doesn't take long at all.

We keep a stack of these made-up diapers on the changing table. At the moment we have five of the "little g" pants, and we've actually ordered four more from the website, which should decrease our laundry frequency.

The other cool thing about gDiapers is that they have fabulous customer service. There are little movies on the website demonstrating how to put the diaper on and how to flush the insert, and the owners are easily accessible on the phone for advice on everything from diaper fit to flushing methods for various plumbing systems.

We do have some 7th Generation disposables at home. We used them for the first week or so, and also thought that we might end up using those when we were out and about, but it turns out that it's easy to just tuck a new gDiaper in the diaper bag and then fold up the used one in a plastic bag for later disposal at home.

We also gave really serious thought to cloth diapers. This option was at a bit of a disadvantage for us since our city does not have a diaper service, and we weren't sure how efficient our not-super-new washing machine and dryer would be at taking care of this task (using a lot of water and power to process dirty cloth diapers can take away the environmental advantage over disposables).

I spent some time poking around online trying to figure out how gDiapers stacked up against cloth, environmentally, but they are a bit too new for in-depth analysis. However, I think they do have a bit of an advantage given that we flush the inserts and are done, whereas with cloth, the dirty diapers require a flush and a wash.

And, an added bonus, the gDiapers are absolutely adorable! Here is Brynna with her little g-butt:

And here's one during "tummy time" today. A minute after I took this photo, she pushed her head up and turned it over to the other side. She's very strong!

Ah, blackmail photos already.

Though this is the only time she'll ever be allowed to wear pants with writing on the butt!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


This morning, we all went out for brunch at Chester's, a new restaurant in town.

Alex and I both chose the delicious-sounding buttermilk pancakes with roasted apples, which was advertised with the accompaniment of "real maple syrup."

When our plates arrived, the pancakes did indeed look fantastic. However, sitting next to them on the plate was this:

Alex and I looked at each other in horror. I picked one up with the tips of my fingers and inspected the ingredients list. Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, natural and artificial flavor, salt, caramel color. (Perhaps the "maple" part was somewhere in the natural or artificial flavor?) There was no way—absolutely no way—that we were going to eat this abomination.

The next time the waiter came by, I asked if it was possible to get actual maple syrup to accompany our pancakes. To his credit, he looked confused, apologized, and said, "I definitely punched 'real maple syrup' into the computer, let me go see what happened."

Several minutes later, he returned, even more apologetic, and said, "the kitchen told me that that is the real maple syrup." We assured him that it was not (he agreed), then declined the offer of some sort of banana-maple syrup that he promised did actually contain maple.

Brynna started screaming at this point. We are convinced that this is because she was also horrified at this travesty. I assured her that I would not be subjecting her to any second-hand breakfast syrup, and she recovered herself.

Now, I will note that the breakfast was overall very tasty, and the apples added enough sweetness that no syrup—real or fake—turned out to be necessary. In addition, there is a complementary free mimosa with Sunday brunch.

But seriously, people. When you advertise real maple syrup, what you give people should actually be real maple syrup.

Which looks like this (if you're like us and ship it from Vermont by the half gallon):

And contains only...drumroll please...maple syrup. In fact, it doesn't even have an ingredient list, because the only ingredient is right there in the product name!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two Weeks Old!

Brynna was two weeks old yesterday. As with last week, we considered this a good opportunity to get out and have some great food! This time we headed for Lake City, MN, and Nosh, the restaurant where Alex and I had our anniversary dinner last month. Brynna, as you can see, was very impressed by the ambiance:

We had a fabulous meal with lots of tasty local ingredients. My heirloom tomato salad featured basil ice cream, which is as weird as it sounds because the taste simply doesn't match the texture and temperature, but it was very yummy all the same! For dessert, we split a couple of delicious homemade sorbets: sour cherry and red currant.

Brynna was totally conked out until the very end, when she started to fuss and we headed out to the car to feed and change her. What a champ!

Then we took some photos in front of the Mississippi. Brynna, true to form, had her hands in front of her face for every single one of them! I think this is the best one:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucy's visit

In addition to our parents, we had a visit this weekend from my best friend Lucy, who drove from Chicago to meet Brynna!

Here we are in the backyard:

She brought us an adorable board book called That's Not My Pony, which is one of those touch-and-feel books. Here is Alex reading it to Brynna, and touching her foot to the different textures:

Lucy and Brynna reading on the couch:

Lucy, Alex and I also had a really nice dinner out at a local wine-and-tapas place, while Brynna hung out at home with her grandparents. What a treat!

Family time!

We have been so lucky to have lots of help over the last couple of weeks from all four of Brynna's grandparents. I can't imagine how exhausted and overwhelmed we would be if we were trying to do this all on our own! Grandma and Grandpa S arrived this past Friday and stayed through this morning. We were certainly sorry to see them go, but hope to see them again pretty soon if we are able to bring Brynna east in September to meet more of her extended family.

Here they are just after arrival:

Catching up on sleep after the long drive:

Bringing wonderful hand-me-down toys from New York friends:

(Alex is already plotting how he can engineer restraining bolts for noisemaking toys...this little piano doesn't have an off switch!)

Art and Denny also helped us out with a lot of tasks around the house. Art trimmed the bushes, which have never looked better, and edged the weeds and grass away from the sidewalk. He and Alex also did a lot of cooking, including a delicious red and black raspberry shortcake the other night.

And Denny sewed! I was hoping that she might be willing to make a couple of extra covers for my Boppy, which is the crescent-shaped pillow that appears in many of the photos of Brynna. So off we went to the fabric store, where we found two lovely bright flannel prints, and in no time at all she had whipped up the finished products:

Testing the stripey one for fit:

Brynna and Alex modeling the other one, which is red with little lions, elephants, and crocodiles on it:

After finishing this project, Denny was brave enough to ask if we had any other little sewing projects that needed doing, at which point she was quickly buried in a pile of clothes that appeared from all corners of the house! Now Alex's fleece has a new zipper, his khakis have a new button, and my maternity clothes are in much better repair to sell or give away.

Finally, here's a big family portrait that my friend Lucy took for us:

The only person missing is Aunt Kate, who will be here in a couple of weeks! In the meantime, we've been listening to a wonderful CD that she sent called Brynna's Aire, which has lovely soothing harp music on it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Sap-O-Meter

We've all been watching a lot of Olympics...very entertaining whilst feeding or snuggling the baby, not that she's not fascinating enough on her own.

The women's gymnastics started last night, triggering an abundance of NBC schmaltz. The lead-in earned several groans from the watching crowd in our house, and I was pleased to see that we were not the only fans who felt the same way: it won Sappiest Line of the Day from Check out their Sap-O-Meter, which will be updated daily.

And finally, if you didn't see the men's 4x100 freestyle swimming relay last night, find yourself a replay! It was just amazing!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

First Baseball Game

Last night, we all went out to the ballpark to see the Honkers...Brynna, the two of us, and all four grandparents!

We were prepared to leave right away if Brynna was upset by the noise, but she slept through the first four or five innings, probably helped by Alex packing lots of blankets next to her ears.

I don't think I paid as much attention as usual to the field, though...Brynna is quite distracting!

She looked very zippy in her special baseball outfit...her Red Sox shirt and red g-diaper.

She eventually woke up and had a snack, then watched an inning or so quite bright-eyed.

We took her home at the bottom of the eighth to make sure that we were well out of range by the time the end-of-game fireworks extravaganza got rolling. All in all, it was a great outing!

One More From the Birthday

Friends Beth and Cassi made these adorable little age signs. This one says "I am 1 week," and there are "month" and "year" placards as well, and little numbers to hang on them. Beth suggested we use something as a size comparison each time we took one of these photos. Jasper was our first thought, but he didn't come with us to the Wisconsin picnic. So we figured the champagne bottle would serve nicely!

Friday, August 8, 2008

1 week old!

Yesterday was Brynna's one-week birthday, and we celebrated in fine style!

A few weeks ago, I saw an article in a local magazine about several farms just over the Mississippi in Wisconsin who have wood-fired pizza nights. We headed off to Smith Gardens Farm, taking along a really nice bottle of champagne to toast the occasion. The pizza was fabulous, made with all of the farm's own ingredients, and it was a delightful picnic.

Here we are, waiting for pizza (Brynna, however, did not have to wait for her dinner...she is snuggled under the blanket, eating):

The oven:

And some random photos from the last few days. Here's Brynna showing off her gDiapers and her pink Pooh hat:

Quite alert, joining us around the coffee table for dinner a few nights ago:

Post-bath a few nights ago:

Resting with her grandfather:

All continues to be well. Grandma and Grandpa S arrive today, so there will surely be photos from that upcoming!

And in a little bit of non-baby news, I received word yesterday that I passed Step 2 CS, the looooong and expensive exam with the mock patients that I went to Chicago to take a couple of months ago. Whew!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Brynna at home

We're still doing great! Brynna is just a joy, and she even let us get some pretty good sleep last night. I was only up twice with her, once for about half an hour and once for about forty-five minutes. Though, as Alex points out, she's only five days old, so past performance is no indication of future returns...

Here are some more photos. She's been very hungry all evening, so I think I may just have a few minutes to pop all of these online before she needs another feeding!

Brynna resting, with me trying to catch up on what's going on in the world:

Brynna at her leisure, post-feeding:

Conked out in her pack 'n play:

With Beth, who made the most adorable customized onesies for Brynna...see, this one even has her name on it!

Get 'em started early (this was my T-shirt when I was a baby, too):

Out for a walk with the whole crew:

Getting ready for a bath:

Brynna objected most strenuously to the bath, which so brought out what seem to be protective instincts in Jasper that Jasper ventured into the kitchen despite the presence of a screaming baby and four adults, and parked himself as close to the sink as he could possibly get. He and Brynna both calmed down when we moved on to shampooing her hair...she seemed to enjoy the scalp massage!

More when we can...