Monday, April 26, 2004

Ms. Hyde

The problem is, I keep posting pictures like these, and no one believes me that this kid is actually a terror.

Emily celebrates one month

Dad and Emily at the park

Mom and Emily at the doctor

Emily goes for a ride

Don't be fooled by her cuteness!

Coping with colic

I'm tired and grumpy this morning, and I'm feeling disgruntled about everything.

Emily delivered another day of screaming yesterday.

I'm reaching the point where I want to punch someone in the face when they tell me "it gets better." I wonder how many of these parents who share that little nugget of "wisdom" with me have actually had to deal with colic (it only effects about 10% of babies).

For those of you who have not experienced it, you have no idea how bad it is. This isn't something you can fix with "well, have you tried such-and-such?" Colic is crying that cannot be consoled. People who fancy themselves amusing quip, "not getting much sleep, huh?" No, Misty and I are not getting much sleep, but that doesn't come close to describing the problem.

The majority of the time that our baby is awake, she is screaming. Not just crying — screaming like she's in horrible pain. Nothing you do will console her (and, believe me, we've tried everything). You can't let her "cry it out" though, because you have to establish trust with her, so you just have to hold her in your arms while she screeches in your face, kicks and twists, pulls at your shirt, and scratches you with her fingernails. It's physically and emotionally draining.

It's not the lack of rest that bothers me so much. I can deal with sleep deprivation. I don't get a lot of sleep, but that little bit I do manage to get is good. What bothers me is that the time spent awake is horror. The moments are rare when I get to simply enjoy watching a happy baby who's acting cute. I feel like I'm missing out on a wonderful time that most other parents get to enjoy. Instead, most of the hours spent with my daughter are extremely stressful. Even if I'm not the one dealing with Emily, I can still hear her. And while letting Misty take her for a while may be easier, it's still horrible. If I take a break, I feel like I'm not doing enough, and all the while I hear my baby upset and screaming, and I just want her to feel better.

It's hard to love Emily when she's throwing one of her fits. But we present her with so much love and comforting, and all we get in return is rage. When she's been fed, burped, changed, rocked, sung to, and more, we know that there's nothing she needs. Everything is fine, yet she continues to wail and struggle against us. It's as if she just doesn't like us. I know that's not the case, but it's hard to feel love at those times.

It bothers me that whenever someone asks me "How's Emily?," the first thing that I'll mention is something negative. It's never "she's doing great" or "she's adorable." It's "she's so noisy" or "she had another bad day yesterday." She is healthy, and she is adorable, but those aren't the first things that come to mind. The bad overshadows the good.

So many parents have told us to cherish these first few months because they're the best, but I can't wait for them to be over. I feel like a horrible parent in thinking that way.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Happy Earth Day, Wal-Mart

Since today is Earth Day, I'd like to say a bit about recycling. Particularly, Wal-Mart's ignorant stance on it.

Wal-Mart recycles plastic bags. Good for them. Recycling lessens the ammount of trash dumped into landfills and it expends less energy than creating products from scratch.

You know what expends even less energy than recycling? Not using those products in the first place!

I don't need 34 plastic bags every time I buy groceries. Nevertheless, the cashiers at Wal-Mart (and many other retail establishments, but Wal-Mart is the worst) seem to feel the need to use as many bags as possible.

Consider the following list of groceries:
1 hand of bananas
1 loaf of bread
1 box of cereal
1 carton of orange juice
1 gallon of milk
1 3-pack of paper towels
1 bottle of dishwashing soap

Wal-Mart will give you between six and eight plastic bags for these seven items. The milk is "too heavy" to share a bag — in fact, they might even need to double bag it. The bread will "get squished" if anything else touches it. Same goes for the bananas (though maybe they'll get thrown in with the bread). The orange juice can't touch anything else because it's cold. The paper towels will fill up a bag on their own. And God forbid you allow soap anywhere near food! That leaves the cereal for its own bag, too.

Wal-Mart has latched onto a single element of the "reuse, reduce, recycle" mantra and seems to think that this absolves them of the other two. Whenever I complain to them that their excessive use of plastic is wasteful, I'm told that I can recycle the bags in a bin at the entrance. But I souldn't have to recycle them. I don't need them in the first place.

Here's how I'd bag the same list. Orange juice, cereal, soap, bread and bananas in one bag. No bags for the milk or paper towels. Look at that — one bag! The soap is not going to leak. If, by some freak accident, it does, the other items are already sealed in their own protective packaging. Milk does not need its own bag. The jug already has a handle, and a plastic bag doesn't suddenly make it lighter to carry. In fact, no item that will fill an entire bag on its own needs a bag. It's all going to my car inside a shopping cart anyway — I don't have to worry about carrying it.

Do your part. The next time you're buying groceries, tell the cashier or bagger that you want as few bags as possible. Most likely, they will ignore your request. At that point, proceed to hold up their line by rebagging everything and giving them back the unnecessary plastic.

They are watching you

This is my house — the one in the middle.

satellite photo

I found the picture using the National Map Viewer. They use satellite photos and orthoimagery to create topography maps.

I'm thinking the same thing: Creepy.

Thanks to Cap'n Ken's for the link.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Unwelcome visitor

It seems that my neighbors aren't the only new vouyers around here. In checking IP addresses, I've noticed that my ex-wife has visited this blog more than 40 times! It's funny because I couldn't care less what's going on in her life, yet she's obviously very interested in what's going on in mine. My life must be positively fascinating for her to want to read so much about it.

Anyway, here's a special message to her from the late Johnny Cash.

Johnny Cash photo © 1968 Jim Marshall

Thanks, Mr. Cash. You said it much better than I could.

What have I gotten myself into?

Last week I was pulling weeds out of the front flower garden when a car pulled up in front of my house and a man got out and walked up the driveway. I hadn't planned to be outside for more than a minute — I was just putting a letter in the mailbox — so here I was in my pajamas as Wayne Guthrie, the new president of our neighborhood association, introduced himself.

He said that he'd seen what I'd written about the Russet Meadows Homeowner's Association on my web site. My first thought was "uh oh." I didn't remember exactly what I'd written, but I knew it wasn't positive. It turned out, though, that Wayne and I were very much in agreement with the way things had been going in the organization. Because of Wayne's "big mouth" at the last meeting he ended up getting appointed as vice-president, then when the president moved away he inherited that role. Anyway, he stopped by to tell me that he intended to see that things improved.

Cut to a week later. Last night at the RMHA meeting, things were indeed running more smoothly. What was odd, though, was that every time I went to make a comment, a group of people would try to direct attention to me, saying "listen to what he has to say." Before the meeting was over, there was a call to fill the vacant vice-president position. Since no one else volunteered, I offered myself as a candidate. The group immediately voiced its endorsement. I wasn't sure if they'd genuinely appreciated what I'd had to say during the meeting, or if they thought, "sure, let that poor sucker do it." Either way, I wound up as the new vice-president.

Mingling after the meeting, I talked to a few of my neighbors. They inquired about Emily and Buttons and Mango. As it turned out, Wayne Guthrie wasn't the only one who'd read my blog. Apparently, someone in the neighborhood had Googled "Russet Meadows" and came up with Impending Distractions. Word got around with the board, and other people started reading it as well. As Misty pointed out, our neighbors now know way more about us than we do about them.

Hi, neighbors!

It's official

We took Emily to the pediatrician for her 1-month checkup this morning, and her doctor said that the uncontrolable crying is indeed colic. The good news is that it's already as bad as it's going to get, and supposedly it disappears miraculously after three months. The bad news is that we've got two more months of screaming to deal with.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Google searcesh

Someone found my blog today by searching for "girl next door elisha cutberth."

All I can say is: Aaaaarrrgh!

The more the merrier

Misty's Aunt Wanda left this morning after having spent about a week at our house.

If you'd have asked me a month ago what I thought about such a situation, I'd have been dead-set against it. We'd read that new parents should try to avoid having visitors for the first couple weeks after birth in order to curb extra stress and allow for better bonding with the baby. It made sense to me. I knew that I'd be getting less sleep with an infant in the house, and I feared that having houseguests would prompt me to visit with them instead of taking a nap when I could. I even asked my parents to please not visit us for a couple weeks.

Now that I've actually experienced new parenthood, I can't get enough of company. I want relatives and friends to visit all the time!

For one thing, Misty is home by herself during the day, taking care of Emily. Having contact with adults helps maintain her sanity. Also, Emily tends to be better behaved for guests than for us. I think this is because those who don't see her all the time make a big fuss over her, thereby wearing her out. Then, of couse, there's the fact that one more pair of arms to hold the baby means our arms can be freed up for a few minutes to do things like eat, play with the dogs, or answer the phone.

Over the past several days, Aunt Wanda cooked dinner for us and helped Misty work in the yard. The two of them bought some potting soil and flowers and planted a whole bunch of stuff. They cleaned all the weeds out of our little garden of lilies. They even dug a hole through the rock in the ground to plant a hydrangea. This morning when Uncle Mike came to pick up Wanda, he brought some yellow bells and planted them in the yard. Everything is looking great.

the irises before this weekend's renovation

Next weekend my parents are visiting us, and I can't wait. They're bringing along my Aunt Suzy who's down from New Hampshire. That's three more people to shuffle Emily around and get her tired.

I'm not trying to imply that Emily is such a problem. It's just that a screaming child does more than merely wake you up at night — she prevents you from eating meals together, watching your favorite TV show, or even having a conversation. As I told Misty the other day, she's totally exasperating, but I can't imagine not having her as part of her family. Given the chance to change how life worked out, I wouldn't change anything. But given the opportinuty for someone else to hold her for a few minutes, I'd be delighted.

Just so long as I get her back.

Lame humor

I keep hearing in the news about Spain pulling out of Iraq. Didn't they learn in high school that this isn't an effective method?

Sorry, I'm tired.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Intergalactic planetary

I got the latest press release from Slave Labor Graphics this week.

Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand
The Power of Cute Triumphs in Emily and the Intergalactic Lemonade Stand
from SLG in June

Earth is under attack! Aliens invade! Robots fight in the streets, battling over the most desirable piece of real estate just discovered in the suburban outskirts of the Cosmos. Emily is eleven. She has a giant robot, a lemonade stand, and would kill for a pony. Somehow she is Earth's savior...

Read a 9-page preview.

There's no getting around it — I must buy this book.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Please don't fire me

Damnit. The Sarcastic Journalist got fired for her blog today. And I just discovered it this week.

To my employers if you are reading this:

I have always been open with you about the fact that I maintain a personal weblog. Likewise, I have always been open in my blog about where I work. If you ever notice anything that you think may make or Advance Internet look bad (which I doubt), please just ask me to remove it instead of removing me from my job. I like writing Impending Distractions, but I value my job a lot more.


Update: If you are worried about blogging about your place of employment check out the annonymous group blog Cubic Hell.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The letterer's nightmare

If you're a fan of Brian Michael Bendis, check out PVP's strip on "Powers" moving to Marvel.

If you don't know who Bendis is, don't bother reading the cartoon. I promise you won't get it. Instead, read "Jinx," "Torso," "Powers" "Ultimate Spider-Man," "Daredevil," "Alias," etc. and familiarize yourself with his work.

Pop goes my breakfast

When I was a kid, my mother used to claim that I couldn't have any Pop Tarts because our family had a toaster oven instead of a pop-up toaster.

I'm not sure whether she actually believed this or if she was just feeding me a line to avoid buying Pop Tarts.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Unexpected thrill

I've been waiting for this day for more than five years. I just got a new computer at work!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Marketing for Elisha

I hope that Elisha Cuthbert (star of "The Girl Next Door" and "24") gets to be really famous. Once she becomes a household name, maybe people will quit mispronouncing mine.

It's not Culbert, Culthbert, Culthberth, Cutberth, Cuthberth, Culbreth, Kubert, Q*bert, or any other number of butcherings I've heard over the years.

It's very simple. Eight letters, two syllables. And it's already spelled phonetically — ie. it is pronounced exactly as it is written. Cuth-bert. There. See? I knew you could do it.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Bring me a beer, Gordo

I had a weird dream the other night:

Misty and I were hunting for a new apartment for her mother. Misty went to one complex while I went to another. Inside the leasing office, all the agents were busy. However, a friend of mine who lived there said he'd show me his place.

We went upstairs to his apartment where we hung out for a while. He warned me that he'd told his girlfriend that he was sick because he didn't want to see her today, and that if she caught him hanging out with one of his friends, he'd get in trouble. Upon peering out the blinds, we noticed his girlfriend's car in the parking lot. At first we thought that she might be on her way up already, but then we saw that she was still in the car, watching the apartment through binoculars.

Worried that we'd been spotted, I hurried out the door. On the way down the hall, I passed Sting, who appeared to be headed to my friend's apartment. I slapped him on the shoulder, said "what's up, Sting?" and continued on my way. Further down the hall, I passed another person whom I couldn't place, though I knew he was a famous musician. I decided he must have been another member of The Police.


I think I understand how some of the pieces fit together. My friend's girlfriend was spying on him. The Police sang "I'll Be Watching You," a song about a stalker.

Why the pieces are there in the first place, though, is a mystery to me.

Trump to chicken: "You're fried"

OK, so he can create a multi-billion dollar empire, and he can hold us captive each week on "The Apprentice," but can Donald Trump beat a chicken at a game of tic-tac-toe?

Yes, he can!

A new source of income

Hmm... Maybe our family can afford for Misty to quit working and stay home with the baby after all.

Link found via Sugar, Mr. Poon?

Friday, April 02, 2004

Emily's first days

It should be no surprise that I've had more important things to do over the past week than play on the Internet. Emily is an all-consuming project. She's doing great, though, as is Misty.

Mom and Emily

We spent five days in the hospital after the c-section, so we didn't come home until Sunday afternoon. Staying in the hospital had its ups and downs. It was nice to have nurses to look after Emily for a few hours at night if she started a tantrum (which she did every night) so that we could get some sleep. Having a slew of people around to answer questions and quell our nervousness was comforting.

On the other hand, people walked into the room constantly. There were family and friends visiting, nurses checking on Misty, nurses checking on Emily, nurses bringing pain medication, nurses performing blood tests, nurses performing hearing tests, nursing interns, Misty's OB-GYN, Emily's pediatrician, dietary service, housekeeping, the hospital photographer, lactation consultants, and a woman conducting a survey about the housekeeping. My favorite was when the director of nursing stopped by and disturbed us to apologize for the phone disturbing us. Apparently, a page listing our room's phone number had gone out from the nursing desk to all the doctors on call. We got several confusing calls within a few minutes.

When it finally came time to leave, we had mixed emotions. We were happy to be getting out of there to the comfort of our own home, but we were frightened at the prospect of suddenly being on our own. It was real then.

For the first couple nights at home, Emily screeched for several hours instead of sleeping. The first night we didn't get her to sleep until 3:30 a.m., and the second night's episode drug on until 7:37 a.m. We were fast becoming flustered. It wasn't so much the lack of sleep — we could always nap during the day when Emily did — it was that there seemed to be no comforting her. She wasn't hungry, she didn't need changing, and she wasn't interested in being rocked to sleep. She just screamed. We knew there was nothing wrong with her, but it was terrifying nonetheless. When your baby is screaming, you want nothing more than for whatever it is that's bothering her to cease. I have decided that the most beautiful sound in the world is the moment your baby stops crying. Not only is everything OK, but it's finally quiet, too.

Misty's mom came and stayed with us Tuesday and Wednesday night. The idea was that we'd have someone to help us in the middle of the night when Emily threw her fit of fuss. And wouldn't you know it? She slept though the night both days, waking up only when she needed her diaper changed.

Buttons and Mango meet Emily

The shih tzu duo have had mixed reactions to the baby's arrival. Buttons is enamored with her. She wants to be wherever the baby is and is constantly trying to sniff her and lick her. Mango is less enthusiastic about Emily. She's held the office of baby for a few years now, yet suddenly this new baby has staged a coup. She's behaving very well around Emily, but you can tell that she's a bit sad.

In all, being a parent is a wonderful experience, though it's exhausting. I've gotten six or seven hours of sleep each night over the past few nights, and I've taken a nap or two each day, but I still feel like I could conk out at any moment. With the exception of Emily's occasional unconsolable screaming fits, parenting has been fun and surprisingly easy. I had been worried that I'd never really held an infant or changed a diaper or anything like that, but with Emily I just did it, and it came naturally.

I love being a dad.

Dad and Emily