Friday, November 27, 2009

Cooper, day 30

Cooper has started this thing where he cries when given the bottle, which is supposed to end the fussiness. Instead he whines with the bottle in his mouth, and it ends up dripping out the sides because he's not sucking on the nipple. Last night this went on for the first ounce, and then again when I gave him another ounce a few minutes later. I won't worry about this too much until we're eating dinner at Texas de Brazil in 20 years and Cooper starts weeping at the table when the gauchos keep bringing delicious meats wrapped in bacon.
James Cameron's overblown blue-alien "Avatar" looks like "Starship Troopers" meets "Dances with Wolves": Humanity is bad, primitives from another planet are good, and we'll get ours in the end. Really, even megabudget science-fiction has to be anti-American?
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE - Everyone had written Karen and Victor off already, so this was no surprise, except that Nigel said that if he had his way, Nathan would have gotten kicked off instead. Oooh, does this mean Nathan is doomed next week, or will there be a redemption story where Nigel comes around? Hopefully the former!
PROJECT RUNWAY - The season finale was last week, and unfortunately Irina The Fashion Witch won. Not that we were surprised. By the final seven weeks or so it was clear she was on a path to victory. Still, her final collection was very dull, all black and not at all "fashion forward," of which, of course, I am an expert, having watched this show for three or four seasons.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed!

We're going to have "My First" outfits for everything until next Halloween!

What I'm Thankful For, 2009

- Our mini Cooper, so adorable, so lovable, so cuddlyable, so cute when he reaches the pinnacle of his crying and his voice quivers. He's such a blessing.

- I'm thankful that my darling Valerie came through the labor with ease, and that a difficult pregnancy is finally over and we can look back at it longingly instead of worrying about gestational diabetes.

- That Val offers to help to load the groceries in my car, though she'd rather be inside with the heat/AC on, so that's why I hand her the keys and kick her off cart duty.

- New Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, whose spirit almost kept the Sox going by himself in the postseason. Also, outgoing catcher and team captain Jason Varitek, a gritty player and game caller who needs to be offered a coaching position immediately by Theo Epstein.

- The viral emails within my family, which go on and on and mutate into different subjects, and when I check my email I have 40 messages out of the blue.

- The Crock Pot, that which we can throw something together early in the day and by dinner all we have to do is scoop out the yummy goodness with little cleaning. (Most notably pot roast.)

- For a wife who accepts my constant jokes, even the ones I say over and over and over again, and even laughs at many.

- XM radio's Christmas music channels.

- Fast-food drive-thru workers who actually know what they're doing.

- Pampers diapers.

- Charmin ultra soft toilet paper.

- Sarah Palin and how she infuriates the media and the left (but I repeat myself).

- The ability to watch movies without having to go to the theater, because I'm not sure if we'll see more than one every six months otherwise!

- Little fuzzy baby socks.

- Cook's Pest Control.

- When Val and I get four hours of uninterrupted sleep, even if not at the same time.

- "Dancing with the Stars" host Tom Bergeron and "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak.

- And finally, of course, my family and friends, for their love and support and understanding that Val and I will be out of touch, selfish and a little out of sorts for the next little while!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sleeping baby passed around

Cousin Amy has a 10-month-old, her third, but still needs some whiff of baby once in a while:

Big bro Scott wonders what Cooper's looking for:

Dad still takes credit for all good Cooper sleeping:

Don't wake an adorable sleeping baby!

Val's Birth Story

Four weeks ago to the minute this is posted, Val gave birth to our awesomely awesome baby, our mini Cooper. Finally, we have gotten together to put down her birth story (my notes are in Italics):

I can’t remember much about Tuesday, what I did that day or how I felt. I do remember that I had my 38 week appointment the day before, and without being TMI thought I had a sign that labor would be coming sooner than later. Jeff remembers me not feeling good that day. I don’t think that I had any nesting instincts, something a lot of women do right before going into labor. What I do remember is Tuesday evening…After using the bathroom I stood up and felt a pop…I know like a water balloon. Immediately felt a trickle down my leg, I knew instantly. Water breaking isn’t necessarily the bug gush that everyone thinks. I eventually had small gushes at time. I yelled for Jeff and told him that I thought my water broke. I can’t remember what he said maybe “Oh Yeah?!?!”, but I remember how he sounded…both a little scared and excited.

While Jeff called labor and delivery, I did what everyone would do when scared, nervous, excited…I called my mom. She gave me some comfort, and said she would head to the hospital. After getting dressed I waited patiently as Jeff got things together. It seemed like eternity. I had my bag backed, but there were some last minute things that needed to be added and done. I was not having any contractions either, even though I had been having some off and on for a few weeks.

When we got to the ER (where you head first at St. Francis), we had paperwork to fill out despite pre-registering online. It seemed like eternity. Finally, a triage nurse wheeled me upstairs to labor and delivery. At first they were going to check my in a curtain room, but they soon realized that indeed my water had broken. They took be to Room 234 where I immediately got undressed and examined me. Jeff had to wait in the waiting room while they asked me all the usual medical history questions. When done, I was left all alone, I felt awful, but knew Jeff and Mom would be there soon.

During the early parts of labor, as the Dad I was just in the way, unnecessary to the proceedings. Val was being poked and prodded like an alien probe (and not the good kind), while the room was filled with the sounds of beeps and whirs of machines.

The nurses came back and told me that the doctor was going to induce at 3:00 (it was around 12:30 or 1 at this point). They also recommended getting the epidural now if that was my plan. There was no need to wait because it does not wear off since it’s on a drip. Not long later Jeff and mom had to leave again while the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural. I had been scared of this process after seeing it done on a video during the birthing class. The nurse and Stephen, the anesthesiologist made it less scary. There were only a few time it pinched/hurt, I flinched twice I think. It didn’t take long for me to feel the effects.

The monitor showed these big mountains of contractions, but Val couldn't feel them, which was awesome. Epidurals rock! You know all the women who say they want to go natural to feel it like the women of old did? Yeah, those women of old wished that they had epidurals in their pioneer cabins in the middle of nowhere 100 years ago!

Now it was a waiting game until inducing. Jeff, mom and I spent the next few hours talking. The nurses soon started the Pitocin for inducing. For the next few hours mom and Jeff watched as I would have a contraction, something I didn’t feel thank goodness. The calmness soon turned a little scary when the nurses would come in and shift me around. Apparently, Cooper didn’t like the positioning at time and his heart rate would go down. I was even more scared when they would give me an oxygen mask. At one point, I asked if everything was OK, of course they said, “yes” even though I knew they were concerned. The doctor was called in around 4:00 because of the nurses' concern. After things settled down, he headed back home.

Sometime during the night Val started to get the shakes something fierce, and on top of that she had terrible acid reflux, which got worse when they nurses would come in and position her head leaning down to ease Cooper's heartbeat during contractions.

I began dilating fast which was unexpected to me because I know it can take hours to dilate. I was around 3 cm when I arrived and was at 7 cm within an hour of the Pitocin. I was complete by 5:30ish. The nurses had me start pushing at this point since they could see his hair. However, the doctor called and wanted me to labor down which mean no pushing, Cooper needed to come on his own. However, after a some time of this the nurses thought I needed to push. By this time, I was feeling the pressure of the contraction and was beginning to feel some pain.

My butt, "labor down!" Labor up! Way up!

I had Jeff on one side of me holding my hand urging me as I held my breath and pushed for 10 seconds (3 times per contraction). Everything happened so fast.

The pushing was difficult, but manageable (yeah, so says the guy without the baby in his birth canal). We had one nurse take charge and counting, who then had to go tend to her own patient, so Val's main nurse took over, but she kept forgetting to count, so I took over the counting to ten. I was on Val's right, holding her head up with my left hand and holding up her leg with the other. Val was wearing out. Even though she couldn't feel the contractions per se, by this time she could definitely feel the pressure, and she was getting more and more exhausted.

I remember looking around and thinking, “where did all these people come from.” The room was filled with what seemed like 20 nurses. They all seemed to have their own task, waiting for the big arrival. Finally, Cooper was almost ready to come out, it felt like he was half-way, and it hurt so bad, I wanted to push so hard. But I couldn't because the doctor and nurses weren’t ready.

Cooper's head was poking out, that much I could see, and the doctor was just putting on his scrubs! In fact, the doctor's subdued temperament amused Val's Mom greatly. He came in during the last few pushes, leaned back against the sink watching, saying once in a while, "Good push," and not getting excited about anything. Val assures us that he's just that way, and his wife happens to be her OB, and she's the same exact way.

One nurse cut the bed and half…they then had the gall to ask me to scoot forward and put my feet up….hello---- I have a baby stuck half through my vagina!!!!! I guess I managed to meet their request. Within a few minutes of pushing I felt this huge relief down there and I knew my Cooper had arrived. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world….seeing Cooper of course. The relief was wonderful too. He was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

Once the doctor grabbed hold and pulled Cooper out all the way, in two milliseconds flat Val went from "Ow, ow, ohmygosh it hurts" to "Ohmygosh he's so beautiful! Hey Cooper! I love you Cooper!" It was just the most amazing thing ever. Immediate gratification and love all around! Who has the cigars?! I am now "Cooper's Dad," and Val will be "Cooper's Mom." I'm okay with that.

They placed him on my chest; I saw Jeff cut the cord.

I guess I was a little too sissy at it, because it took me two snips. The first time the nurse had to tell me to really chop through the bluish cord.

Then they whisked him away for all the necessary cleaning, testing, weighing….

It was controlled chaos, some covered in masks to help the doctor, some nurses helping Val and take Cooper's vitals, yelling out numbers back and forth. Still they let me walk all over the room to take pictures and even got out of my way as if I was the important one, even though I was trying to stay out of their way to manhandle my boy. Which they did. The nurses sure didn't treat him as fragile as we do, taking him to the burger warmer, toweling him off in two seconds flat and poking him and weighing him and sticking a tube way, way down his throat to pull out the liquid that he swallowed in Val's belly. I'm like, hey, that's my kid, be gentle! Every time they did one of these things, like pulling his hands apart to see him pull them back, they'd yell out, "That's good," and I'm like, "I don't know what you're doing, but hey, alright!"

During all this I kept looking over at him, while the doctor took care of everything down there. It seemed like eternity waiting to be able to hold him. Jeff and mom were getting to hold him while I just sat there with my legs spread open trying to expunge Cooper’s former home in addition to getting some stitches. FINALLY, everything was done and I was able to hold the most beautiful baby in the entire world. It is so indescribable.

More notes from Jeff ...

Val's like a superhero with the ability to create life. I'm like the spider that bit Spider-Man; no ability of my own, but can enable others with my touch!

Val's gestational diabetes turned out to be complications just for Cooper in the first day. His blood sugar was low, so we had to bottle feed him, and his temperature wouldn't stay as high as the nurses would have liked, so he stayed under the burger warmer for much of the first day as well. Val's sugars were fine, and she's back to normal.

At 3 p.m. we were brave enough for our first diaper change, and when the books talk about the first day's poops being black tar in color and thickness, they ain't kidding. Yuck. Very tough to clean.

Everything's normal in a pregnancy. "I have a lot of indigestion?" "That's normal." "I have no indigestion?" "That's normal, too." "When I watch TV I daydream about kidnapping squirrels for ransom." "No problemo." And now it seems like everything's normal with a baby, too!

That first day I was going on 30+hours of no sleep, only adrenaline. While in the hospital I didn't shave for three days, but there was a shower in our room so I was able to keep clean at least. That was for the benefit of Val, the nurses and our visitors!

His second morning, the OB circumcised Cooper while he was in the nursery away from us. Cooper didn't seem to mind, except that he didn't like that for the next week we'd have to put Vaseline on his pee-pee to keep it from sticking to the diaper.

Nurse Tiffany watched out for Cooper and Val for the first 12 hours. It was her first week at St. Francis, coming from Washington state. I knew we could trust her when she wore scrubs with Eeyore on them. Most of the nurses had Halloween scrubs on, since it was just a few days away. In those 2 1/2 days that we were there, Val and then Cooper probably had six different nurses.

My co-workers put Cooper on the 5 p.m. news his first day, and the next day at the end of the 9a hour, an hour I always direct, my anchors gave him a shout-out as well. Hopefully the fame won't go to his head.

He was surprisingly strong at six pounds. He's very hard to tuck in to swaddle, kicking those legs, and he's like Houdini getting out of a strait jacket the way his hands poke right out of the blanket.

At lunchtime with her family there I went to Wendy's for lunch, and home to get a few things. I did the same the next day at lunch to get Val some Chick-fil-A and bring even more stuff for me, such as clothes, since we stayed two nights instead of one.

At 8 p.m. the nurse gave Cooper his first bath. He wasn't entirely enthusiastic about it until they let him soak in the tub.

We expected a sort of big baby, and couldn't believe he was using preemie diapers! How the heck did I help produce a tiny baby?

Hey Cooper, how are you? Wanna stop squirming?

Sometimes I find that when I'm talking to Cooper when he's upset, I sound like Andy Samberg during that SNL skit where he plays Mark Wahlberg talking to animals: "Hey, baby. It's good to see you. I like your little toes. What's that all about? We should do a film together, whaddya think? Say hi to your mother for me, okay?"
(Just Google "snl wahlberg talks to animals" and you'll find plenty of videos to choose from.)
Last night was the finale to DANCING WITH THE STARS, and as usual the Osmonds rule the world. Donny and his Aussie partner, Kym, came from behind to beat R&B singer Mya and her partner, Dimitry, while Kelly Osbourne proved to be the feel-good story of the year and just happy to make the final three. During her montage video and all the praising by the judges and Tom after her dance, I admit it got a little dusty in the living room.
Hey Whitney Houston, crack is wack, yo? Wow, those were some awful performances. Did you notice that she barely sung at all, hanging on to complete a sentence or two, and then relying on overly loud background singers to provide the chorus while Whitney kept making random screamy noises when she wasn't reaching for the pipe in her belt?
Over on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the top six couples performed twice, and frankly I'm not sure who is supposed to get the boot because these are some talented folks.
Ellenore & Ryan - Their first dance was energetic but nothing special, but the second one, a Broadway number to "Razzle Dazzle" from "Chicago" was spectacular.
Kathryn & Legacy - The judges tripped over each other to see who could praise her the most and give Legacy a break for not knowing ballroom, so my surprisingly favorite couple looks to be just fine.
Karen & Victor - The prime candidates for leaving this week, dancing together for the first time, for the last time, with a dramatic tango and an unsynchronized hip-hop routine.
Mollee & Nathan - First up, a hip-hop. Meh. Next up, the first ever can-can on the show, and it was sort of fun, although it felt like a collection of moves thrown together on the fly. She looked lost half the time, so she would just throw up a leg and ruffle her skirt, and he'd do a spin or two.
Noelle & Russell - The best dancers of the night, a fun and sexier-than-the judges-said samba, and a contemporary piece that was intense, passionate and sweet.
Ashleigh & Jakob - The cha cha was right up her alley as a ballroom dancer and she nailed it, rendering him meaningless, and he shined earlier in a jazz routine.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cooper Duper, DWTS

Val and I are beginning to resign ourselves to living with Cooper's colicky crying fits for the next couple of months or longer. We've tried different formulas, bottles and routines, but I guess our mini Cooper just needs to cry, needs to get it out, whatever it is, and his mommy and daddy will have to make adjustments to our own schedules.
Heck, the nine hours I spend at work is the easy part of my day. When I get home, I give Val a nap while I watch Cooper, then she wakes up for me to take a nap, and at night we have to stagger our sleep so that one of us can do the feedings and changings while the other prepares for the colic episode that's inevitable, twice a day, like clockwork. I pray daily that he only has his fits when I'm home and Val can take a break.
Still, we try to enjoy every sweet moment of this time because we know we'll actually sort of miss this in the years to come, but it's hard not to look forward to when he's done. Of course, then we'll find other things to worry about with first-time parent jitters, and we'll look forward to something else! When Cooper is asleep he's an absolute angel, and when he's alert and looking around and jerking his arms and legs around squirmily, he's so much fun to watch and play with.
This weekend we got to show off our cutie pie to my family at my cousin Karla's wedding to her sweet baboo, Terry, at her dad's house between Oakland and Somerville. It was also a test drive to see how he was in the car for when we go to Chapel Hill after Christmas, and he did great! Maybe we should drive around in the car during his afternoon crying fits, or as some have suggested, put him in his car seat and sit it on top of the dryer while it's going. Whatever works, I'll try!
For a wedding gift, on Sunday back at our house, Cooper did some poopy on Karla's jeans. Oops. That was a first, and we haven't had any problems with Pampers yet, though admittedly it was my fault since I gave Karla a bottle to feed him without changing his diaper first. Knock on wood, he hasn't even peed on me yet!
Karla's son, Gavin, spent their entire visit outside with the four or five boys his age in our cove and made immediate friends. They were trading MySpace pages by the end and when he had to leave, Gavin had his window rolled down to say goodbye and all the boys around the yard waved and yelled goodbye to him like he was a visiting dignitary. I know I didn't have that ability as a kid, but I hope Cooper does.
Meanwhile, Dad flew into town on Friday and he and Nana came over right away to see Team Jooperie, and he got the credit for putting Cooper on his shoulder and getting him to sleep for a good five hours. And like a good grandfather, he could leave and let us deal with any fussiness overnight. Hey, he had four kids, it's his right.
Thanksgiving looks to be full at Valfrey Estate, with almost my entire family in town to visit so my siblings can finally meet Super Cooper. We'll enjoy a lot of food, a lot of football and while they're partying with Cooper, Val and I will be sneaking back to the bedroom for naps!
Last night the top three had their final performances on DANCING WITH THE STARS ...
DONNY & KYM -  They started off with a cha cha that was decent and hip-shaking. Their freestyle was a showstopper, as Len said, straight out of Vegas, and their first perfect 30 of the season.
MYA & DMITRY -  Their paso doble was solid, but using Queen's "We Will Rock You" with a rock motif, it begged comparisons to Scary Spice and Maks' paso a few seasons back, and not nearly as intense and powerful and good.  Before the judges even said anything I couldn't help but think, "Where's the fancy stuff?" It was a fun number but there was no pizzazz, nothing big, no complicated lifts. They played it safe, and as a result, left an opening for Donny to win this thing, which means years of interminable camera hogging on Entertainment Tonight and in the front row of future seasons.
KELLY & LOUIS - Good start with the Argentine tango. She flicked as well as could be expected. She's so adorable, and their freestyle, a disco theme, was fun, even if she messed up some of the more complicated lifts and looked pooped by the end, bless her heart.
In between their first and second dances,  the contestants had a Megamix routine consisting of three different routines. Kelly seemed to miss a few steps, and unfortunately she had a wardrobe non-malfunction when her dress didn't spin off her when the others' did in a choreographed move between ballroom and Latin. Then, in the kiss & cry room, Samantha's all, "Oh, don't worry, you couldn't even see it." Really? I caught it, and it was pretty obvious what was happening, especially since she was wearing a bright blue outfit that she stood out.
Anyway, the judges ranked them, and Mya won (duh), Donny was second and Kelly third. It was a nice addition to the competition, if only because the freestyles have always tended to shy away from what they've done during the season, focusing on silly stuff, big moves and crap like hip-hop, though this year they thankfully refrained from doing so.
Who's going to win? I don't know if Mya has a big audience, so I'm thinking that Donny will actually take home the mirror ball trophy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cooper's 24th Day

Cooper was such a good boy today during the 25 minute drive back and forth to Uncle Rob's house between Oakland and Somerville for cousin Karla's wedding. Val sat in the backseat with him, and he was quiet and cooing, even if he didn't really care about the toys dangling over him, probably because he was tooting after getting fed. And then he enjoyed getting passed around by everyone during what is usually his fussy time. Hey guys, y'all can come hang out with us about, oh, 1 a.m. tonight to help keep him calm, too!

Cooper's Grams certainly knows how to keep a baby happy!

Granddad got to meet yet another of his adorable great-grandchildren! In no time, he'll have Cooper on his knee, bouncing around!

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the happy couple! Karla was radiant in a gorgeous dress, and Terry long ago refrained from running away from our big loud family, so kudos to you both, and congratulations!

Numbers, schmumbers

The Obamessiah's website is trying to justify the stimulus package by highlighting job creation and jobs that were saved around the country based on congressional districts.

Okay, sure many of the districts don't exist, but that's just semantics. Hail Obama! So say we all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cooper's Friday

Dad's in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, and came over to provide Cooper a shoulder to sleep on:

He's had some very smelly poopy diapers, and as someone with a strong gag reflex, this is a necessity:

Cooper in HD

Cooper had a good day yesterday, barely fussy for either me or Val! Yesterday morning, he even slept FIVE hours, at least two more than ever before! Heck, by the fourth hour, Val called me and we were a little worried that it was too long, instead of letting her enjoy it to get some extra sleep herself. Not that he won't have his colic crying fits again. We're terrified to make him mad, lest he get started and never stop.

He's just so darn adorable! Last night he had a couple of sneezes, and the third he did that thing where you are going to sneeze but it barely comes out, and he gets this relieved look with a "ooooohhhhh," and I could've died there and been happy.

Thursday afternoon I let Val get a nap, and I ended up napping on the couch for an hour with him asleep on my chest. Thankfully neither of us rolled over. I guess we all need a little more sleep. We'll try to get it this weekend, although it should be busy. Dad's flying into town for Thanksgiving, my cousin Karla is getting married which brings my mom and aunt and cousin Amy into town, and old pal Patrick is coming to visit his folks and meet Cooper. We'll do our best to show off our prodigy.

I was up by 10 p.m. last night, and Cooper was up late with his daddy this morning, watching the excellent new History Channel series, "World War II in HD." It uses all-color footage, much of it never seen before by the larger public, that is vivid, gripping, and dramatic. It uses stories by the same dozen soldiers throughout as voiced by celebrities, very Ken Burns-esque. Great, great work. Highly recommended for other military history buffs.

I almost forgot to mention this. Two Fridays ago when I was still home on paternity leave, about 7 a.m. Val woke me up because a bird was in the house. Again. Probably out of the fireplace again, where we'd enjoyed our first fire of the season a few nights before. We shut the doors, I snuck out into the hall, got a tennis racket from the closet, and creeped into the living room, where the big black bird (I know it wasn't that big outside, but looked like a vulture inside the house) was flapping up by the ceiling and broke a frame on the entertainment center.

I went to the front door and propped it open, then walked towards the kitchen to flush it out. I heard something pop the door, so the bird had flown outside. Then I propped the fireplace flue closed to make sure it didn't happen a third time, and I'll have to do so from now on until I get it fixed. Cooper was safely in the bedroom, by the way. In 25 years he'll probably have this weird dream where he sees a black bird flying around the house, and think it's some strange philosophical vision, and I'll be like, "Um, no, there really was a bird in the house. Nothing dreamy about it."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Cooper Might Write

I'm not sure what Cooper's blog would be like if he started writing one, but I imagine one of the first posts would have been something like this:

"Not long after I saw the light and met Mommy and Daddy, the Whitecoats whisked me away. At first I thought they were going to snip off this extra finger that I've noticed a lot down below, but it turns out they were just snipping off the flappy part that kept me busy for many hours of dull floating. I don't know why they don't just cut it all off. I can't imagine it comes in handy, and besides, I think it has a leak."

One of the things that I was sure would go the way of the Dodo after Cooper was born would be TV. On the contrary, because of our alternating sleep schedules and late nights these first few weeks, I've spent a lot of time plopped in front of the television while taking care of my boy. Here's a sample rundown:

"Highlander" - Never seen it before, may never again. It's awful, even for a cult classic that's probably called that because of how hokey and dumb it is, especially Sean Connery's part.
"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" - Val's mom brought this over via her Netflix. Not bad for what it is. Denzel's always the coolest cat in the room, and Travolta is at his best when he's the bad guy who thinks he's the most righteous bada** around.

"Hancock" - Had this one saved on my DVR for two months after taping it during a free Starz weekend. As much as I like Will Smith and Jason Bateman, I couldn't get into the spirit of this movie. It didn't seem to be going anywhere, there were no bad guys that mattered and the whole conflict with Charlieze Theron as one of "his kind" seemed more suited to a sequel.

"National Parks: America's Best Idea" - Ken Burns' PBS documentary is a little long, but the scenery is incredible. Very pleasant to have playing in the background at 3 a.m. while feeding Cooper.

"Kill Bill Vol. 1" - It's been a while since I've watched the first volume. I usually stop at Volume 2 on something like TBS at 1 in the morning. These were some brilliant flicks.

"Red Eye" - Comes on at 2 a.m. on FOX News, a little bit of humor to lighten the mood before I have to drop Cooper off with his mommy in the bedroom while getting ready for work.

Speaking of TV, at work I like to start the morning by having The Weather Channel on in the background, and every morning at 4:30 a.m. central time, under the local forecast, they play the music you'd recognize from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." It's the piece you hear during the museum part when Ferris and Sloan are holding hands with all the kiddies, and Cameron is staring at this pixel painting that keeps zooming in closer and closer until all you see are the dots. It makes me feel good. Very soothing. I may have to find it on iTunes, and loop it while I'm shopping this Christmas season to block out the traffic and other shoppers.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hangin' with mini Cooper, SYTYCD, DWTS

Either I'm tired or working on a local morning show too long when I walk past a clown juggling outside the studio this morning and don't even give him a second glance.

You can probably make a guess leaning towards the former based on how Val and I have had to adjust our sleep schedules to take care of the little guy and still manage some sleep and try to keep our sanity until either a) he stops having these crying fits, or b) we find the right combination of formula, bottles, nipples and medicines to make it stop.

From Tuesday's routine, here's a day in the life with our mini Cooper on his three-week birthday...

Noon - I get home from work, where Val's disheveled and exhausted after having to get up to console Cooper at 5 in the morning without a nap. She threw some pot roast in the Crock Pot for dinner, and otherwise stared at our son wondering why, even when he's asleep, he's squirmy and occasionally cries out for a few seconds.

12:30 p.m. - After I shovel down a bowl of fake Spaghetti Os with hot dogs cut up and added (it's like Cheerios with bananas, only not nearly as healthy), I send Val back for a nap. She does not argue. She's just happy to have time to take a shower nowadays. Now I know why people save up to take off all 12 weeks as allowed by the Family Leave Act. It takes two parents, four grandparents, other family, friends and even some strangers recruited from the golf course to take care of a baby.

1 p.m. - I lay down for a nap, hoping for an hour or more before he wakes up hungry. Ha! Jokes on me!

1:30 p.m. - Cooper starts getting fussy, and the crying fit is on. I spin him, cradle him, shhhhhhh him, walk around with him, whatever it takes for five minutes of cooing.

2:30 p.m. - I feed him again, hoping that this will do the trick. Not so much. Just makes him gassier. I kind of expected that my life with a baby would revolve around his tooting, but still, you just never know until it happens. I even open his diaper hoping that he has a stinky poopy so that he got some relief from the gassy pains.

3:30 p.m. - Val's awake, much too early, but she can't get back to sleep while I'm out in the living room with a fussy baby and she's worried about the hows and whys. Our pediatrician's nurse doesn't seem concerned and only seems to suggest changing the formula, which we do. So now he's on his third formula, after starting with Enfamil Ultimate, going to Enfamil Gentle-Ease on Sunday, and now we're on a Soy-protein formula in case he's lactose intolerant like I was as a baby.

5 p.m. - Val's getting Cooper to calm down a little, and tells me to go get some sleep. I'm going to oblige this time. She stays up, eats dinner, watches TV, takes care of our offspring and makes him happy and sleep while I snooze hard. Val and I won't be seeing much of each other or sleeping in the same bed much for a few months, eh?

11:15 p.m. - My alarm wakes me up so I can take the night shift. Val came to bed around 9:30 with Cooper in the bassinet, and I carry it back into the living room and turn on the TV just in time to catch the last 16 seconds of the Tigers game. I expect that they'll be decent, but to hang around with Kansas until a last-second shot attempt at a win was more than I hoped for. This Coach Pastner is a class act, and even though he was the A.D.'s 15th choice, I think Memphis would be well to make sure he sticks around for a long time. Now, pardon the "everyone is against us" vibe since everyone thinks the media ignores their team, but in the highlights on SportsCenter later, they showed nine clips from the game. The first five were all Kansas, and all dunks by some big white guy. Really? Memphis had nothing until the last 16 seconds? Now that Coach Cal is gone, I think the sports elite will treat Memphis as any other mid-major from a weak conference.

11:30 p.m. - Cooper's awake and quiet, but he starts to let me know he's hungry, so I change his diaper and grab a bottle.

Midnight - He's either asleep or looking around quietly, completely adorable and letting me watch So You Think You Can Dance. I don't know how strong other babies are at 2 1/2 weeks old, but Cooper can really move his head around and climb around me on his stomach. I like to set him on my torso while he sleeps, which is comforting to both of us while I can still read the paper. The other night, however, Cooper was asleep on my chest with Val to my side, when suddenly he whips his head and body around so quick that he rolled right off my chest onto Val. Guess I need to keep one hand on guard, eh?

12:55 a.m. - I decide that if Cooper's fine, I'll go ahead and eat some pot roast. As it's in the microwave ...

1 a.m. - Cooper starts getting fussy, and wailing some more. For the next hour I try every position and walk around the house to try and keep him calm, to little success, the pot roast be darned. Sometimes it seems that he has gas, other times he seems to be crying inconsolably without explanation, like a Democrat trying to take control of your health care plan even though you're happy about it.

2:45 a.m. - Cooper's quiet, eyes are closed and he seems ready for sleep. Right? No! It's a trap!
3 a.m. - It's time for me to take a shower for work, so I put a fake-slumbering Cooper in the bassinet and carry it into the bedroom and set it beside Val's side of the bed. Once I get in the shower, Val tells me that he woke up and is crying.

3:30 a.m. - Val's trying to bribe Cooper with an extra ounce from the bottle and I feel bad about having to leave her alone with him when he's fussy. I get to work a half-hour later, where I finally enjoyed the pot roast, though since I hadn't eaten in 15 hours it wreaked havoc on my tummy. Totally worth it.

As you can tell, most of the day is planned around when we think he'll be upset, and trying to enjoy him as much as possible for the 18 hours a day that he's an angel. When Cooper's awake I feel like a cruise ship entertainment director, doing anything to keep him interested. "Don't like the bouncer? Might I interest you in this swing? No? There's a bellyflop contest on the poop deck at 4!"

Now, for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the top 7 couples performed:

Ashleigh & Jakob - Same old hip-hop as always, the judges love it and seem to be making sure that Jakob makes it to the finals.

Karen & Kevin - The judges couldn't come out and say that the new choreographer sucked a**, though that's clearly what happened. This was terriawfulible. Slow, no tricks, silly but not fun, a disaster from start to finish.

Noelle & Russell - Something about their form in the foxtrot seemed too loose, yet the judges were almost fighting to praise them more than the other. Go figure.

By the way, did y'all notice that instead of Adam going first in the judging and spending ten minutes droning on and on, so much so that we would fast-forward through Mary and Nigel, that executive producer Nigel went first this week. Much better order.

Channing & Victor - They did a jazzy number that called for them to be flittering blackbirds, and I wanted to enjoy it, except that the music was so odd it annoyed me. Thankfully Adam pointed it out, saying that it was "alien sounding."

Kathryn & Legacy - My surprisingly favorite duo had the fire and drama needed to pull off the paso doble and they'll be fine.

Ellenore & Ryan - The judges couldn't stop praising their contemporary number, though I think that's because former contestant Travis put it together, and for them his crap don't stink only slightly less than Mia.

Mollee & Nathan - They did a high-energy pop jazz number choreographed by that chick who wears the pink headphones around her neck for no reason. I still hate him and his wannabe-brooding "Twilight" look, and yet think she's great, so I can wait for the top ten to get rid of him. Nigel certainly can't wait to toss him.

In Danger: Karen/Kevin and Channing/Victor.

Meanwhile, on DANCING WITH THE STARS, Joanna the Tickle Fetish video vixen was knocked off, leaving Mya, Donny and Kelly as the final three. It's probably the weakest group as a whole in the championship, though I can't be disappointed in the entertainment value of an Osmond and an Osbourne, who couldn't be more opposite in terms of family dynamics: Clean-living Mormons vs. Heavy Metal Rockers from England.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cooper pics!

Sorry, been a while since I've posted photos of our little man!

First up, a typical shot from the couch, Cooper asleep on me while I still manage to get some reading done:

Val's cousin Destiny came over with daughter Bailey to meet the new addition:

Daddy's so mean, getting Cooper all naked and cleaned up!

Mommy gets to be the hero, getting him out of that torture and drying him off:

And now he's all comfy, fed and happy again!

Finally, the drama is over, time for some sleep ...

Weekend blog update

Sunday night I did one of those things that made me end up feeling simultaneously stupid and manly. Note to self: In the future, it's not a good idea to try to throw away an entire bowl of spaghetti down the garbage disposal. After stuffing half of it down the drain, the disposal shut off and the sink clogged. Oh dear.
My first tactic is what most would think about who don't know how to fix this situation and can't be troubled to look it up before jumping into action: Chugging a bottle of generic Drano down the sink, then getting out the plunger for a few SSSSKUNK!!!s.
This does NOT work with garbage disposals. In fact, near the top of the very first link that I clicked on once I decided to look for help on the internet strictly said not to do so. Instead, I figured out on the web that there is a reset button on the bottom of the disposal, and that I would have to get something with a hard handle to turn the wheel inside the disposal, not putting my hand in there (I'd already done that, but the switch was off).
Okay, done and done. Still nothing worked. It was humming but nothing was going down. Next step, actually getting up under the sink, exposing my butt crack out of my pants like a real plumber and uncoupling the p-shaped pipe from the disposal to another pipe that goes into the wall. Once I managed that, I could reach in and clean out the gunk in this drain trap, and thankfully it was just plain spaghetti without sauce, or it would have been really disgusting down there, and dripping into the bowl I had under the pipes.
It took a few more (and more) minutes to screw the pipes back together, and two hours after all this started I turned the disposal on and EUREKA! "Ode to Joy" started playing in my head, a feeling of manliness as the disposal hummed warmed the cockles of my heart and everywhere else, and it whirred and whirred and all the gunk in the sink disappeared. Hallelujah!
So when Val's cousin Destiny, hubby Jeff and 3 1/2  year-old daughter Bailey came by an hour later to meet Cooper, I smelled like drain opener and sweat and gunk. Sorry about that. In fact, I still feel like I smell Drano on me 14 hours later. This may be a permanent stain.
Their visit turned out to be quite a relief for my darling Valerie, who, even though she's heard stories from others, still worries that Cooper's crying fits happened only to us and no other babies in the whole world. Destiny and Jeff assured us that Bailey went through her bad spells as well, and even though they promised us at least three to six sleepless months, Val felt better.
Speaking of crying fits, Cooper was gassy all day yesterday, even before we officially swapped his formula from Enfamil Ultimate to Enfamil Gentle Ease. He was fussy when Val's parents came to visit, and was awake more than usual in the afternoon as a result, the poor guy. Last night, after going to bed at 9, by midnight it was my turn to change and feed our prodigy, he decided that was a good time for another crying episode. So I ended up staying up until my usual wake-up call at 3 a.m., handed him to Val, who almost promptly rocked him to sleep, and I took off for work.
I'll get a nap this afternoon while Val hopefully does as well when he's asleep, but you never know when his episodes will occur. Because of my lifetime of being a night owl and working schedules that varied from day to day, I can take a lack of sleep, so I just have to keep letting her know that I need to watch him while she gets her rest.
Here's something Val doesn't mind amid the lack of sleep: Mothers, don't hate her for only being three pounds over her starting pregnancy weight. After all, due to gestational diabetes she had to follow a strict diet for the last three months. I'd say that if she can already be down this much within three weeks, she's doing alright. Unfortunately, I am not back down to my starting weight when we got pregnant.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cold and flu season 125 years ago

- This is one way of explaining it, from Memphis Memories for Nov. 11, 1884:
Coughs and colds are most prevalent in Memphis now. The dreadful atmosphere that fills every hole and corner of the city at night is leading several sober-thinking citizens to the belief that the world must be passing through the tail of a comet.
Well, what kind of explanation did you expect? Voodoo? Witches? Pigs?

- CAN A PRESIDENT GET A BAD BACK FROM BOWING TOO MUCH? I mean, seriously, first he nearly kissed the royal Saudi Reeboks, now he can't seem to look the Japanese prime minister in the eye:

The pres has gotten to be so bad about apologizing for American power that pro-democracy protesters in Iran have taken to trying to urge Obama to be on their side:
“Obama, Obama!” protesters chanted on a day marking the 30th anniversary of the United States Embassy takeover. “Either you’re with them, or with us.”

So, to those in China asking for his help, I would encourage you to look elsewhere for help on human rights. France, maybe?

- Meanwhile, the Obamessiah has proven to be the ultimate One-Upper, the guy who just can't but help make himself out to be the Most Awesomest Dude In Every Situation. He couldn't be bothered to go to the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling, and sure, all those people aren't under the boot heel of the Soviets anymore, but what really matters is that he's a black guy and president of the U.S.!: Rad!
“Few would have foreseen . . . that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent.”
I'm sure that's what Reagan was thinking: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! And if you don't believe this honky, we'll get a black man to get elected president!"

- Finally, another Memphis Memories from Nov. 14, 1959 proves that celebrating Christmas early isn't a new thing:
Big eyes in little faces last night drank in the biggest flow of Christmas spirit the Memphis public has ever seen. Record crowds filled streetside standing room along 11 blocks of Main and Front and a block of Beale to watch the Yuletide season ushered in by the annual Spirit of Christmas Parade.

- HEADLINE: Study: High School Jocks Likelier to Drink, Fight. Whoat nerds did this study, People For The Abolition Of Wedgies And Swirlies?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Longhorn, well done

The favorite hangout when we drive up for dinner with the Jackson Gang, Longhorn Steakhouse, burned down the other day. *sigh*

You must rebuild!

And when I say burned down, I mean, "charred like nobody's business!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wouldn't want your guy to look bad

- WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? The Business and Media Institute studied differences between how the press covered the 1983 recession and unemployment numbers with Reagan as president against this year, and concluded that "network reports were 13 times more negative in their treatment of Reagan than Obama."

- From the "imagine if this was Bush and he had waited months to make a decision on Afghanistan" files, someone reports from a couple of weeks ago: "Today - Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24. Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months."

- In writing about the remains of a Civil War soldier being buried in Nashville, USA Today writer Oren Dorrell proved why folks in the South keep starting arguments with Yankees. It was unclear if the soldier was Federal or Confederate, so this is how Dorrell leads off:

"He may have died trying to preserve the Union. He may have been fighting to preserve slavery."

I guess Oren singlehandedly has decided this whole States Rights argument. Congratulations, Oren.

- IRONY WATCH: In local business news, "Unilever To Expand Slim-Fast Plant In Covington."

More babies!

Many congratulations for more babies! First, Val's friend Melanie of The Jackson Gang and her hubby Roger went into labor yesterday and had Erica this morning, and then Val's cousin Josh and his wife Cathy had their little Audrey this morning, too! Way to go, guys! Can't wait for our mini Cooper to hang out with the new chicks on the block!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wow, was that really two weeks ago?

Val and I went to the pediatrician for Cooper's two-week checkup (can you believe her due date was this past Sunday?!), and the doc was impressed at just how perfect our little boy is doing. Well, I mean, physically and all. He's up to 6 pounds, 8 ounces, which is ten ounces more than last week. I'm told that's good, so I'll go with it.

As for the questions about his wiggly crying fits, the doc wants us to change his feeding habits first, feeding him a little less each time, but feed him more often. We'll try that first, exorcism second. Or third. He also gave us some samples of formula for lactose intolerance, if that's what's bugging him, since Mom reminded me that I had to use a special formula as a baby.

Cooper is a delight, of course, so don't take my talking about his wailing as if we regret our decision! Not that anyone did. It's all part of parenthood, which is why I'm awake and typing this alone in the living room watching So You Think You Can Dance while Val is asleep. We may be two ships passing in the night, but hopefully we'll be two well-rested ones!

I was at work today when his umbilical cord fell off. *Sniff* How much more will I miss?! It starts with the umbilical cord, it ends with dropping him off at college! *Sniff*

Meanwhile, on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, Nigel totally ripped Nathan for being an immature punk and smug about not being in the bottom three this week, and that was wicked awesome. I'm not a Nathan fan, so I was hoping he'd go, too.

Instead, the bottom three was Karen/Kevin, Ryan/Ellenore and Pauline/Peter.

After Nigel attacked the bottom six for inept solos (dude was in a bad mood tonight), he let Pauline go, then Peter, so all the tappers are gone. I think in this case they didn't want to split up any pairs, which ruined Pauline's chances.

Catching up with SYTYCD

While Cat looked like she was molting last night ...
We've been keeping up with the top 20 on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, I promise. I've even taken notes. Of course, two weeks ago, before I could write about it and just 30 minutes after the show ended, Val's water broke, and last week I was too busy with the "post cute pics of our mini Cooper" to get around to talking about the show.
The top 16 isn't easy to figure out, and so far I don't think we've really attached ourselves to any teams like this summer. Let's look at last night:
KAREN & KEVIN - They did a disco routine that was okay to us, though we figured the judges would like it, and they did.
ASHLEIGH & JAKOB - In their intro tapes last night we found out for the first time that he's best buds with last season winner Jeanine, which may not help but it can't hurt, either. They do a Mandy Moore routine involving a cane, and as usual anytime there's a prop, we spend the whole time watching it and not the dancers.
PAULINE & PETER - They do a fun quickstep, dubbed the "kiss of death dance" so many times that the judges seemed to be apologizing for them being "fun" and ignoring their lack of proper technique.
KATHRYN & LEGACY - The closest thing to my favorite surprise of a couple, especially since all we knew about her was that she cried tears of joy a lot in Vegas, and he had more air time than Nigel and Mary in Vegas. They do a Broadway number that Val and I quite liked, and then the judges rip her to shreds for being too happy during it, which, hey, isn't that the choreographer's fault? (No! God forbid!)
CHANNING & VICTOR - Two contemporary dancers doing a contemporary number, it's fine but no "wow" factor.
ELLENORE & RYAN - A yawner of a hip-hop.
MOLLEE & NATHAN  - I don't like him, think she's adorable, but I couldn't disagree with the judges on their salsa. It was terrible, and judging by her "holy crap that sucked" face at the end of it, she knew what was coming.
NOELLE & RUSSELL - They did an Afro-Jazz dance that involved a lot of bouncing around and jiggling, and the judges were impressed, though they would have praised the number no matter what if only so they could boast about how diverse their competition is.
Going home? I say Peter and ... Channing?
Meanwhile, on DANCING WITH THE STARS, Aaron and Karina got the boot, which was no surprise. Next week, the semifinals!  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baby Don't Cry

This was NOT a good day to be the first morning that I went off to work and Val was left home alone with our mini Cooper. Let's just say that the noise that comes out of his mouth when he's unhappy is anything but mini. He's the most important thing in our lives now, and so cute and cuddly and more awesome than I could ever imagine, but for real, we'll be making him feel guilty about this for decades to come.  

Starting last week, Cooper started having crying fits for an hour or so, almost inconsolable. You have to change positions constantly and try to keep him distracted, which can work for several minutes, until he remembers that he's unhappy about something. You can change him, feed him, walk around, sit in the rocker, it doesn't matter. It could be his tummy, except that he only does it once or twice a day.

And this isn't just crying; we're talking about the wailing of a baby that makes you question why you volunteered for this duty. That two hours of crying threatens to negate the 22 other hours of the day that he coos adorably. And yet the crying can be so pitiful as to be adorable, too. He has several different versions, one of which is this rat-a-tat cry that only reduces me and Val to goo because it sounds so sad.

I don't know if we fit the definition of Cooper having colic, but it certainly seems like it. According to Wikipedia the definition is "a condition in which an otherwise healthy baby cries or screams frequently and for extended periods without any discernible reason." The good news? "The condition ... almost invariably disappears, often very suddenly, before the baby is three to four months old." I'm sure that's what our pediatrician will tell us tomorrow for his two-week checkup.

This morning Squirmy McFussybritches started one of his episodes about 12:30. By 1:30 Val came to wake me up because she didn't know what to do anymore. For the next hour and a half I tried to do what I could, to mixed success and failure. By 3 it was time for his feeding, and that seemed to calm him down, but by that time I had to get ready for work, and leave Val with a look of terror on her face. Thankfully he eventually let her get some sleep. My poor darling. I can only hope that Cooper only cries uncontrollably like that when I'm at home and that he sleeps and acts cute the nine hours I'm away. 

It was a lot easier when I was home for the first 12 days and could take the late-night shift, we traded sleep schedules, and my Mom-in-law stayed with us several days to help out. Monday afternoon when I got home from work and Cooper was in hour two of a three-hour fit, even she looked a bit confused and frayed, understandably. I took him outside to watch golfers hack their way up the fairway in our backyard and let Val and her mom eat lunch, figuring that the golfers can't care that much if Cooper's unhappy, and if they do, deal with it because you're not Tiger in need of perfect silence, and I would tell Tiger to stick it, too. He has kids, he'd understand.

The 18-20 hours that Cooper does sleep, he's so adorable, with both of his hands pointed up towards his ears and making cute baby noises. When he's really tired he sleeps so soundly that we can barely keep him awake long enough to eat. The first several days Cooper would only cry and turn bright red when we changed his diaper.

Of course, he has to wake up sometime on his own, and this is what transpires:

"Code Red, the baby is waking up! Will he be happy? Will he have a messy diaper? How do you keep a one-week old baby entertained? Get out the swing! Get out the bouncer! Kill a woolly mammoth! Whatever it takes!"

Soooo ... two weeks down, about a million to go?

Top 5 on DWTS

I'm way, way behind on my reality show updates, and I don't really think y'all care, so to catch up with last night's DANCING WITH THE STARS ...
Val and I loved the decade themes in the Latin round. Mya & Dmitry's 70s Disco and the futuristic Paso Doble by Joanna and Derek was perhaps the most entertaining dancing I've seen on this show since Joey's "Star Wars" dance many years ago.
In fact, it almost redeemed the fact that this has to be the worst top 5 since I started watching the show with Val three-plus years ago. Few would stand up in comparison with past top five contestants as a whole, and I remember liking more of the past finalists as people.
Mya & Dmitry - I think he's one of the best male choreographers on the show now. I'm always interested in their performances, and yes, I know, it helps that he has the most talented star.
Aaron & Karina - It's pretty clear that he doesn't have many fans, and I think he's focusing too much on perfecting the "gay" arm movements and not enough on the manly ones.
Joanna & Derek - Don't care for her, either, and her legs are too stiff for a quickstep in their first dance of the night.
Kelly & Louis - She's so adorable, and yet I can't get over the problems with her technique, and she's not fast enough for the quicker dances.
Donny & Kym - He's actually gotten more reserved as we've gone along. Who told him to do that? Who wants a domesticated Donny? Not me!
Hey, Len, Donny, it's not "arty farty," it's "artsy fartsy!" This isn't difficult!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tigers saw the form of their destructor, and it was giant and orange

Do you remember the scene at the end of "Ghostbusters," when the guys are covered in marshmallow goo and celebrating after crossing the streams to blow up the door to Gozer's realm, and Ray sniffs, "Ugh, it smells like burnt dog hair," then looks over at Peter and is all, "Oh, Veckman, I'm sorry," because he just remembered that gal-pal Dana was turned into the dog-like creature that was toasted?
That's how Val looked at me Saturday night after cheering for the Vols to score yet another touchdown, then looking over at my horrified Tigers-lovin' face.
Ye gads, the U of M is now to be pitied, the football team is so cover-your-eyes awful. Hey coach West, I think there are a bunch of boxes that can be used for moving back behind the Schnuck's near our house.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


We finally gathered the courage to give Cooper a wash all over, which was a no-brainer since earlier in the day we were changing his diaper and failed to cover the most important part, which proceeded to spray our little guy in his hair. Ewww. Maybe he'll be less upset when he can get a full bath in the tub with his toys.

Once clean, changed and fed, he did what every guy would do in that situation. Napped.

And yes, it takes both parents of a newborn to hold down a six-pound baby trying not to get washed in the sink. I tell ya, the boy can squirm!

This is how government science grants should be earned!

The Nobel Prizes are cool and all, but nowhere near as interesting as the hows and whys of who wins the Ig Nobel prizes every year. Take a gander at the 2009 winners featuring Very Important Research:

* Biology: Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Sagamihara, Japan, for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas.

* Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apatiga and Victor M. Castano of Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, for creating diamond film from tequila.

* Economics: The directors, executives, and auditors of four Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, Glitnir Bank, and Central Bank of Iceland — for demonstrating that tiny banks can be rapidly transformed into huge banks, and vice versa (and for demonstrating that similar things can be done to an entire national economy).

* Literature: Ireland's police service for writing and presenting more than 50 traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country - Prawo Jazdy - whose name in Polish means "Driving Licence".

* Mathematics: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers by having his bank print notes with denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion dollars.

* Medicine: Donald L. Unger of Thousand Oaks, California, US, for investigating a possible cause of arthritis of the fingers, by diligently cracking the knuckles of his left hand but not his right hand every day for more than 60 years.

* Peace: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

* Physics: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, Daniel E Lieberman of Harvard University and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas, all in the US, for analytically determining why pregnant women do not tip over.

* Public Health: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, US, for inventing a bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks - one for the wearer and one to be given to a needy bystander.

* Veterinary medicine: Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, UK, for showing that cows with names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Cute Cooper Pics of the Weekend

He just looks like he enjoys sleeping, doesn't he?

When our mini Cooper is wide awake, we've tried to keep him stimulated with some of his toys. He hasn't taken to the swing yet, but the play area kept him interested for at least fifteen seconds, so score!

This weekend we've gladly let our friends use us to meet Cooper and provide us some sort of social interaction. First, Friday Meredith visited while in town from Jackson:

This afternoon Tracy came over to meet our little guy:

Baby Valfrey Challenge Results!

Sorry I took so long, but the numbers have been crunched and I can finally congratulate cousin Karla for winning the contest! Her keys to victory included being within one MINUTE of his time of birth, a pound of his weight, one inch of length and five days of delivery, which wasn't easy since he was almost two weeks early.

If you want a copy of the Excel spreadsheet for the full scoring and I don't have your email, send me a note and I'll get it to ya.

1 Karla - 155
2 Steven R - 142
3 Sara H - 140
4 Amy J - 125
5 Stacy E - 123
6 Randy Be - 121
7 Polly A - 113
8 Kevin H. - 109
9 Bev S - 108
10 Karen P - 107
11 Cody B - 104
12 Cheryl B - 98
13 Carol H - 95
14 Natalie M - 92
15 Julie H. - 86
16 Amy C - 79
17 Heather K - 76
18 Michael C. - 75
18 Scott R - 75
20 Jenny H - 74
21 Rann R - 71
22 Jeremy N - 70
23 Diane R - 65
24 Jeff D - 60
25 Lynn P - 57
26 Will H - 53
27 Destiny D - 52
28 Sarah R - 42
29 Stephanie L - 38
30 Rob P - 25
31 Jenn R - 21
32 Mary P - 0

The "shout out" that should depress the country

The Lefties who still make fun of President Bush for continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to schoolchildren when the first plane crashed into the WTC on 9/11 will probably not even make a peep of criticism towards their Obamessiah's behavior at a press conference where he was supposed to lend leadership following the Ft. Hood shootings:
Obama's Frightening Insensitivity Following Shooting
A bad week for Democrats compounded by an awful moment for Barack Obama.

President Obama didn't wait long after Tuesday's devastating elections to give critics another reason to question his leadership, but this time the subject matter was more grim than a pair of governorships.

After news broke out of the shooting at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas, the nation watched in horror as the toll of dead and injured climbed. The White House was notified immediately and by late afternoon, word went out that the president would speak about the incident prior to a previously scheduled appearance. At about 5 p.m., cable stations went to the president. The situation called for not only his trademark eloquence, but also grace and perspective.

But instead of a somber chief executive offering reassuring words and expressions of sympathy and compassion, viewers saw a wildly disconnected and inappropriately light president making introductory remarks. At the event, a Tribal Nations Conference hosted by the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian affairs, the president thanked various staffers and offered a "shout-out" to "Dr. Joe Medicine Crow -- that Congressional Medal of Honor winner." Three minutes in, the president spoke about the shooting, in measured and appropriate terms. Who is advising him?

Anyone at home aware of the major news story of the previous hours had to have been stunned. An incident like this requires a scrapping of the early light banter. The president should apologize for the tone of his remarks, explain what has happened, express sympathy for those slain and appeal for calm and patience until all the facts are in. That's the least that should occur.
Remember, for the Obamacons and our president, it's not about us, it's always about them.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Jeff's 2009 Baseball Predictions in Review

There's always next year?

My predictions made in April weren't too awful:

AL EAST: Boston Red Sox - Have to put my team here, right? I was just hoping for another implosion by the Evil Empire.

AL CENTRAL: Cleveland Indians - Wow, not even close. If they'd even tried it wouldn't have been that tough to beat Detroit or the White Sox.

AL WEST: Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles of California of the U.S.A. of Earth - Though they started slow, this was too obvious. Every other team in the AL West is mediocre at best.

Wild Card: Dang Yankees - Yuck. Of course they won the AL East. Of course they're in the World Series. And now I have to resort to rooting for the Phillies as a result. Double yuck.

NL EAST: Philadelphia Phillies - It's not easy to defend, unless you're in the same division as the choke-job Mets, the rebuilding Braves, the worst-team-in-baseball Nationals and that Marlins team that is only good once a decade.

NL CENTRAL: Chicago Cubs - I really couldn't have figured on the Cardinals being as good as they were with that pitching staff. But I also should always expect the Cubs to fold like I do in poker whenever anyone raises me a nickel.

NL WEST: L.A. Dodgers - By default. Really, the Giants? Diamondbacks? Who's the other team? San Pietro? Saint Diego?

Wild Card: Mets. Okay, okay, it's time to stop buying into preseason hype and realize that this organization is a disaster.

WORLD SERIES: Red Sox over Phillies. I was right about the AL East beating the Phillies, just the absolutely wrong team. The Evil Empire has won a title in Cooper's lifetime. Drats.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

One whole week!

Happy One Week Birthday, Cooper!

It was a beautiful day outside so we hung out on the back patio for a while this afternoon, trying to keep our mini Cooper awake so that he'll stop being wide awake at 3 in the morning! Yeah, how's that working out for me? Not so well. The boy just likes to sleep all day and party all night!


He could sleep next to a construction site:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Super Duper Cooper!

Yep, I guess once we're back home and my Mom-in-Law has gone, we're trying to keep Cooper happy and catch up on sleep, the blogging gets a little slow!

We went to the pediatrician for the first time this morning, and he told us that our little man is doing great. He's Cooper Duper! He's at 5 pounds, 14 ounces right now, which is pretty good according to the baby doc, having lost just a few ounces, and up to 19.5 inches long. We'll go back next Wednesday for a follow-up, and it seems like they're going to keep letting us take him home!

So here are a few pictures until I can write some more. First, Cooper finally got to meet Nana this morning! We drove over after his appointment. He only cried for a few minutes in his car seat, which is either because he was hungry or just felt cramped in his car seat. At first we only had a baby headrest, but then realized that he's so tiny that he needed the headrest-within-a-headrest as well. Here's how he looks:

Anyway ... Cooper is Nana's third great-grandson on our side, with another two down in Mississippi, and even a great-great-grandson. Somebody get our Nana a great-granddaughter!

This is how Cooper sleeps, one or both hands up by his ears. He loves to have his arms up by his face, and the boy is strong! No matter how much we swaddle him with his arms down, he's like Houdini getting out of a strait jacket in 15 seconds flat. He wants his hands to suck. He NEEDS his hands to suck! We love having this bassinet, by the way. We can keep him next to us in the living room during the day, next to the bed at night, and with the sleep positioner that Amy gave us, he's snug and we don't worry about him as much. (Not that we don't constantly peek over to make sure he's sleeping and nothing's covering his mouth.)

Finally, from Sunday, sis-in-law Cheryl stopped by to say hey to our mini Cooper and appropriately ooh and aah some more.

Speaking of grandmothers and our babies, here's Val's Mammaw with Cooper from this weekend. She didn't get to hold him in the hospital since he was under the burger warmer when she visited, so she was happy to get to come over and feel his cuddly-uddlyness. Cooper is Mammaw's eighth great-grandchild, and fifth great-grandson.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Ho Ho and all that

This pic from an email courtesy my Mom-In-Law in relation to my concern about keeping up with the neighbors in the cove: