From the monthly archives:

March 2010

Dear Axelrod,

by Milton on Wed, Mar 31st, 2010

in Letters to baby,Week 34

Okay, that’s not your real name.  Some friends of ours, I’ll call them Penny and Wilhelm (you’ll like them) told us a little story about how Wilhelm’s parents tricked a few of their family friends into thinking that their future son’s name was going to be Axelrod.  When Wilhelm was born, one of Wilhelm’s uncles threw the new parents a party which sported a big banner that said something along the lines of “Welcome to Earth, Axelrod!” much to Wilhelm’s and Wilhelm’s parents’ surprise and delight.  I liked that story, and thought that it would be fun to give you a blog name as well.  Why not, right?  We’re Milton and Esther here.  Might as well call you Axelrod.


So, as you probably heard from inside Esther’s belly, we threw you a little party this past weekend.  Your grandmother even flew 3,000 miles to attend.  They made you cute onesies with words and images of inspiration, prediction, and sometimes pure randomness which you will be wearing for the first year of your life.  It was awe-inspiring for us as well.  You don’t realize yet just how welcome and loved you are by the world you have yet to enter.  You are going to be surrounded by amazing mentors and friends.  I already found someone to be in charge of your literary adventures.  And another someone to help teach you musical appreciation and sportiness.  Yet another plans to teach you how to be socially deviant.  And the bid’s going to be high for the privilege of giving you your first whiskey.  But we won’t get ahead of ourselves.  You are going to have a lot of time to just soak it in.  Your stroller is all ready.  So is your Ergo and your Moby Wrap.  Not to mention your car seat.  Transportation needs have been met, and you can’t even hold the weight of your own head (outside of the womb) yet.

Of course, I’m still thinking about all the different things I can show you.  But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself… I want to give you a chance to let me know who you are before I decide exactly how I’m going to relate to you.  Because this is a relationship we’re entering into.  The magic of all of this is that you are on the way to becoming your very own person.  I’m your father, and I can already tell that I’m going to be very interested in your thoughts, your personality, your spirit, your ideas, and your actions… but I want to make sure that they come from inside you.  I’m going to try not to project myself into your life.  I will help bring whatever spark is inside you, out.  That’s my goal and my mission.  And in the process, I believe that you’ll be able to bring that spark that’s inside of me out a little bit more as well.  That zero-degrees-removed-from-the-universe force of life.  The part of us that experiences things, feels things, thinks things, and IS things, before they get filtered through our expectations, ideas, and opinions.  We all have it in common, and when we see it in others we can’t help but love them.  And when we hide it from others then we slowly start to die.

That’s my deep thought for the day.

Keep growing, Axelrod!  Keep working on those lungs and that baby fat!  And take your time.  We’ll see you when you’re ready.

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Striped and Showered

For weeks now, clients, strangers, and friends have nodded at my belly and asked, “Are you ready?”  My response has always be a quick and dismissive, “Heck no.”

We haven’t been ready anywhere but in our “YAY, BABY!” minds.  As far as the random sundries required for baby care, this place has been a shambles of list making, organization struggles, and baffled wondering.  I work during each of my three days off a week to try and make this house a little bit more ready for hunkering down and figuring out how to care for a newborn.  Sometimes, I freak out.  ”We have to figure out how to care for a newborn!  Then a baby!  Then a toddler!  Holy cow!  What school district is our building in?  What are we going to do with a teenager?!”  My husband is somehow genetically programmed to not freak out.  He mostly laughs at me, which sometimes makes me freak out more.  Eventually, we work together for an hour or two and I back off until the next day, when the cycle starts all over again.

Truth is this: after 34 weeks of labor prep, I feel almost totally ready to take on the struggle of bringing a newborn into this world.  It’s what to do after he gets here that I check and double check our list and wonder what I’m forgetting.  Luckily, a huge and beautiful turning point in my uncertainty came over the weekend when a bunch of our wonderful friends got together to throw us a spectacular shower on Sunday afternoon!  It really helped to make us feel strong with community and WAY more prepared for this baby.  We now have almost everything we need to help our house feel more prepared.  Even Sopor, our precious little pooka, feels more comfortable.  In fact, she’s dozing on the new changing table pad as I type (not so sure of how I’m going to dictate to her that not every cozy space is a cat’s space.  History says: probably not possible!).

I just bought a bunch of storage baskets for the cabinets I bought for family’s living room/baby center cabinets.  Into these will go all the wonderful clothes, blankets (home made, even!), fluffy rattles, nipple creams (yikes), baby carriers, and onesies decorated at our shower’s onesie decorating station!  I am so excited to finally get all this random stuff organized so that I can take a photo of it to show everyone just how we’re going to fit this lil’ family of three into a studio loft.

While I wash, fold, and organize all of these teeny tiny bits of baby love this afternoon, I’m baking my deliciously “healthy” banana/coconut/chocolate chip protein bread for our 5th home birthing class tonight.  I leave you with a photo of a bear that will have to wait to be named until our son can speak to name him himself!  This panda guy was made by our friend April, and is already a prized family possession.  Here he is with April at our shower, being snuggled for a last time by the great lady who put all of his bits and pieces together:

Best bear, ever!

UPDATE:  Our site was down for a while while my husband and our server admins fixed some nasty hacker problems.  In the meantime after writing the above entry, I started to organize, and of course created a big mess.  I keep telling myself that mess comes before order, but really really wish that cycle would break down and sit in order for just a little while, here and there.  Y’know?


A baby by any other name

by Milton on Wed, Mar 24th, 2010

in Week 33

As a writer (by schooling, only), I’ve always been obsessed with names.  Writing a short story or a novel is really just a glorified reason to come up with names, and characters to go with names, and stories to go with characters.  Right?  I can spend weeks, or months, trying to think up a name for a minor character.  So, of course, when it came to coming up with a name for our baby, I was super excited for the task.

We went through thousands of names, suggesting even the most ridiculous names we could think of, just to get used to the waters.  Lampshade Spatula was one of the more unique name options.  After a while of suggesting names it became necessary to come up with a series of Rules that any chosen name must adhere to (no ex-boy- or ex-girlfriends, nothing that rhymes with Aiden, nothing in the top 100 names for the previous year, nothing that is too weird).  Then, we started to feel like you do when you’re tasting your 56 wine at a tasting… confused about what’s actually good anymore, also maybe a little drunk.  And we (or at least I) got a little burned out on names and then start wondering if maybe we were going about it all wrong.  I’m pretty certain every collaborative creative process goes through these same stages.

In the end, it comes down to a gut feeling, and probably timing.  The names suggested at the right point in the name-choosing process probably have a much better chance of being chosen than the early ones that sounded good but seemed untested.  Coming up with a super-meaningful name that satisfies all 18 Rules becomes less important than just feeling good about the name.  In the end, it’s the baby that’s meaningful, not his or her name (yes, we had to remind ourselves of this).

This all happened really early in the pregnancy for us.  Starting pretty much as soon as we found out Esther was pregnant, and going through ups and downs all through weeks 8-20 or so.  After what seemed like forever, we had some names chosen.  In reality, our little baby was still only have baked.  Before the 20-week ultrasound, we had a couple top names for both genders.  When we found out that our baby was a boy, it was settled.  The first name, at least.  And we started referring to him by this name.  It felt right.

The middle name followed soon thereafter, after a crazy middle name brainstorming session one Saturday-like morning (it could’ve been any day of the week but it feels like a Saturday in my memory).

We wanted to make sure we liked the name a lot, so we kept it a secret for a while.  That also helped avoid the awkwardness of having to hear about how the name doesn’t work for other peoples’ aesthetics… it’s intentional in a way, because if the name met everyone’s aesthetics (like, say, Oliver, does) then that’s a sign that the name is about to become quite popular, and who wants that?  Not us.

To help make it OFFICIAL, we thought of a little art project.  This is the end result:

Our baby's name is in this painting!

It’s the name encased in a semi-secret code.  Since it’s probably not that easy to crack, we’re telling people in person as we can.  And, I expect, by this time next week, after the baby shower etc, it’ll be public knowledge.

We haven’t decided if he’s going to need a pseudonym for this blog as well, one that matches his parents’ pseudonyms.  Hmm… probably.



by Esther on Tue, Mar 23rd, 2010

in Challenges,Week 33

Is a bitch.  Every time I think it’s gone for good, it comes back with a vengeance… for days.  I can’t eat anything, lay down, or stop myself from spitting like a sailor.  Then… it rather mysteriously disappears again.  Ever the positive person, I convince myself that it’s gone forever.  Until I find that it’s not.  It’s a pretty vicious cycle.

I try to track its causes, and have been able to successfully curb the problem to a degree… but ultimately something will get in there to knock me all off kilter.  Today, the culprit was peanuts.  Even eating a benign dinner of roasted beets and mashed potatoes after the two lousy and small handfuls of gorp didn’t kill the problem.

An old wives tale says that this baby will have lots of hair.  Mammas tell me that the preferences they had during pregnancy reflected the tastes their babies had later.  A book called “What’s Going on in There” suggests that the things I eat in my third trimester will begin shape my baby’s palate.  All I know for certain is that I am rather uncomfortable.  I guess it’s a good thing that Tums have calcium… because I eat them by the roll and this baby has seriously developing bones at this point in the pregnancy.


How Great is Our New Banner?

by Esther on Tue, Mar 23rd, 2010

in Week 33

So so great.  I mean.  Just the best!  I have the best husbandface and photographerfriendface in the whole, round, world.  Thanks, guys!

Also, looking at this banner, I recall thinking that I look SO pregnant when those photos were first shown to me.  Man.  Now I think I look teeny tiny.  Hilarious.  I wish I had started taking belly measurements when this whole business started so that I had numbers to back up my girth.  I mean, I thought I looked really really pregnant when the photos from our first pregnancy photo session were taken, back in the day.  Now, I’d be thankful to have my 8 weeks pregnant body back as quickly as 8 weeks past our baby’s birth!


33 Weeks!

by Esther on Tue, Mar 23rd, 2010

in Challenges,Week 33

I am bone tired.  I mean, really really really bone tired.  I wake up in the morning feeling not too different from how I feel just before I go to sleep at night.  Tired.  To.  My.  Marrow.  I have even started drinking coffee again on my days off, which gives Baby hiccups, but Mama needs to get through the day.  Every day is a day that we need to prepare a little bit more for our kid-on-the-way.

Milton suggested that I need to work less.  My career and I do not think that this is the correct answer.  I think a better answer would be home cooked dinner (eating out makes me more tired) magically appearing in front of me more often, the moment that work ends.  It would also be nice to have a few fairies who clean and organize the whole house while I am sleeping or at work… so that I could wake or come home to a serious and studied organization that is totally outside of my actual capability.  As I am not going to be getting a personal chef or a professional organizer any time soon, I suppose I should just relax and accept the fact that- while a girl can have an awful lot of things in life- she can’t have every wish granted with the poof of a fairy godmother’s good wishing.

In other news, I got new shoes for my baby shower next week!  The irony of feeling so much satisfaction in something that I really can’t see when I look down is not lost on me.  I’ll have to take a photo of my toes in adorable shoes when I get all geared up, pretty style, this weekend.  I can’t wait for my mom to arrive and join us for one big last, pre-baby, party!

Shower gifts have started to arrive and I’m a little overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and family.  We got our Bob stroller (in Mesa Orange!) from Milton’s lovely family- I can’t wait to go off-roading on some PNW trails with our little one!  It’s going to make for an awesome, car free, first few years.  My mother also recently picked up a glorious vintage pram that I bought off of ebay last month.  She is having it shipped out here in a few boxes.  That will serve as our newborn’s bassinet and boy will we look cute cruising Myrtle Edwards or The Pike Place Market all dressed up, together.

Big Belly Ball


New banner!

by Milton on Sun, Mar 21st, 2010

in Week 33

I added a banner to the site, which I’m happy with.  It’s actually a combination of two pictures.  Esther was in front of this flower mural across the street from our house when our friend was taking pictures of us, but all of the pictures were cropped in such a way that wide views of the wall weren’t available, and I needed something wide for the banner.  Of course, these pictures were taken a month ago and only today did I get adventurous enough to test my Photoshop skills.  The background is actually an enlarged view of a part of the wall from one picture, and Esther is taken from another picture when she was in front of another part of the wall.  Pretty neat, right?  Okay, I know… I’ll include the two pictures here:


See how I made that work?  As an English major turned software developer nerd, I’m happy with my pseudo design skills.  And, while I did have a crush on the font, Croog, for a while, I think I’ve settled on Museo as the official font of our future son.  Haha.

This is how we occupy ourselves between weeks 32 and 34.


Head down!

by Milton on Sat, Mar 13th, 2010

in Doctors, midwives, and doulas,Week 31

Every 2 weeks when we visit the midwife I beg for them to tell me how our little baby is positioned in the belly.  Then I get their patient 5-minute tutorial on how to tell the difference between a butt and a head, and they comment on Esther’s rock hard abs.  I blame the abs on my cluelessness.  Also, there are a lot of disclaimers like “he’s still going to move around” and “I’m not 100% sure” but really, I just want to know, right now, at this moment, how is he positioned.  If I can figure that out, and know how to figure it out, then I can figure it out at home and then the poking and prodding sessions would be oh so much more enlightening to me.

Anyway, yesterday I felt his head!  And it was down!  That makes me happy.  He can move the rest of his body all up down and all around as much as he wants, but keep your head down, kiddo.  Right?  Now, the only thing to worry about is him coming too early or too late.  And the endless domino-line of worries marches one domino forward.

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