Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just the... Three of Us

The Police
Cords unbroken
Prime, Vader, Indy
All Trilogies

We're a Pack Of Three

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some More Product Recommendations

When we started out this journey back in July of last year, I'd never changed a diaper, much less held a newborn.  Breastfeeding was something that happened under wraps and that public buffet made me a tad bit uncomfortable.  Crying?  Wasn't that what Mr. Binky was for?  Just stuff it in and voila' instant relief, right?
Wow... was I ever in for a whole litany of surprise endings.  To say I had no expectations is hard to fathom, but it's just that I had no point of reference.  Babies were persona non grata until they were able to converse.  Where to begin?
Suzi did some scoping on Amazon and in short order my education came in the mail... Heading Home With Your Newborn gave me an insight I was desperately lacking in a slightly snarky, but professional read.  Drs Laura & Jennifer are successful pediatricians and moms, to boot.  They don't mind discussing their husband's response to cup size increases or blowing old wives' tales out of the water. Who knew that back in the 50's almost everyone in the US used formula?  Color, consistency and duration of diaper contents is explained in detail (in a chapter titled The Scoop on Poop) and parent tested remedies to fix all matter of ills are included.  Wondering when & how to take that first plane ride?  Debating cloth versus disposable?  Laura & Jen, as we affectionately call them, cover it.
Now, the book doesn't claim to be an end-all resource, and there are plenty of instances where they'll refer you directly to your baby's doctor, but it'll give the new dad an overall comfort level with the fact you left home as two and came back as three.  It's all scary stuff to begin with, but the good docs are gentle and firm and tell plenty of anecdotes to set your fears at ease.  You can do this because it's been done for millennia and most folks turn out just fine.  I liked it so much, I sent a couple out to expecting friends.

Counting 'em Down
So, all the signs are pointing to that inevitable trip to the delivery room.  Your lovely spouse is working those contractions like a champ and you're standing by, watching the clock and keeping pace.  But then the phone rings, you step away and bam, you've lost track of when one started or the other stopped and the frequency is all screwed up.  Solve it all with Contraction Master in either an online version or as an awesome little iPhone app.  As with most ingenious designs, this was created out of one dad's frustration in counting contractions.  Hit the Start button when the pain begins and Stop when it recedes.  The app gives duration & frequency and a print or email function so you can take the results with you.  At 4AM, you'll be groggily singing its praises just like we did.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

SUZI: Stocky is in his genes

At two months old, Cooper’s body shape is stocky and barrel-chested.  It looks like my dad’s.   I have no idea how it is possible to see someone’s body style in a two month old, but I’m not making this up.  Scott agrees and his family, while they were here, confirmed it.  My point?  I miss my dad.  He’s been gone since October of last year, but I really miss him.
When I found out I was pregnant, he and my mom were in Colorado so I told them over the phone.  He cried.  He wasn’t the crying kind.  He said some unbelievably nice things to me about the kind of mom I would be and how lucky our baby was.  He wasn’t really the emotionally expressive kind, so those words meant a lot to me.  I think of them often (especially in difficult moments like when I’ve accidentally bonked Cooper’s head or I can’t seem to get him to stop crying).
I just knew he and our baby would be buddies.  I planned that he would teach him or her about the stars, rocks, lizards, birds and science.  I don’t have anybody else in my life who knows as much about the outdoors or science as my dad did.  Now that Cooper is here and my dad isn’t, I realize how much I don’t know.  My knowledge in these areas is woefully lacking.  On my Amazon wish list I already have a book called “The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown Ups.”  I want Cooper to know these things.  Will I somehow be able to convey my dad’s wealth of knowledge and love for nature through some books and experiences I create?  Will I be able to find the right people to teach him if I can’t? 
Do I miss some of the crazy things about my dad?  Like the fact that everything always had to be accurate?  If I announced that it was 100 degrees outside, trying to indicate that it was extremely hot, he would have to check his weather station and correct me with the true temperature.  “Actually, Suzi, it’s only 92 degrees outside.”  Do I miss that everything had to be functional – that there was no reason for merely decorative items?  That his “fixes” almost always included some PVC piping or duct tape.? Do I miss the fact that he always had to be right, arguing an issue with my mom even when we all knew she was right?  (At which point Lucy would wisely keep quiet and I would invariably announce, “I’m on mom’s side.”)  Yes, yes, I miss those things.
Jack Johnson's song, If I Could, talks about a new life coming into the world, while another life passes from it.  One of the lines says, “New life makes losing life easier to understand….”  
Mr. Johnson, I’m just not sure I agree.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Middle East Reunion

The suitcases are all gone and the fridge is starting to look a little bare again.  There are fewer arms to console li'l Cooper and the front door is clear of the pile of shoes once stumbled over.  Yesterday, I ran by Safeway to grab some diapers (imagine!) and found myself wandering the aisles.  I realized I wasn't looking for anything in particular, my eyes just seemed to be searching for familiar shapes or letters as if I was suddenly plunged into an alien world, devoid of what was comfortable.  I missed those faces & voices from home.
We ran like hounds for two very solid weeks.  Who was crazy enough to create that schedule?  At one point, I thought, "Man, I haven't spent too much time with anyone since they've been here."  An odd idea seeing as we seemed to spend every waking moment on the run from one site or event to another.  When we weren't on the road, the tour guide (um... that would be me) was feverishly plotting the next move.
But what fun we had!  And what sights we saw!  And what bags we carried under our eyes as our feet ground the gravel of yet another holy shrine or magnificent wonder of our world!  It was an amazing race across the Holy Land on both sides of the river.  I've posted the pictures from our various side trips and from Jerusalem
So, I'm grateful we all got off with nothing broken and only minor wear & tear.  Nobody walked off a cliff or in front of a bus.  There were no riots in either city, although we missed one by nary an hour as we returned to Amman.  The trip wasn't perfect, but it was full of memories that'll keep us talking for years to come.
As Mom would say, "Now, kids, we've been there, you know!"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Family Stuff

You may be interested to know that a whole gaggle of my kin have invaded our street and presently are prepping a trip across the river to Jerusalem.  If you want to follow the rabbit trail we're headed down, pop over to the McGarvey Family Blog.

Chef Scott

On the very off-chance that you're anything like me, there's nothing worse than an interesting industry rag full of tips and tricks you've never heard of and gadgets for stuff you didn't even know existed.  Once, while on a weekend jaunt to our dear familial relations in O'Fallon, a Cook's Illustrated casually gracing the nightstand caught my eye.
Evil repository from the pits of a well-organized pantry of distraction!
Did I want a subscription?  Yes!
Did I want to stay up all night thumbing through the beguiling pages of sketches and reviews from the last three years?  A thousand times YES!
I don't cook.  I wish I did and did it well.  I actually pulled off a Mexican Cornbread recipe from the Lodge a few days ago, however short of removing the outer wrapper and preheating to 375, my skills don't go too far.  Sure, I can throw some meat on a grill and come out with something edible, but really creating is just a tad beyond my reach.
I once stood in Vito's kitchen as he fried some garlic in olive oil, poured it over some fresh pasta and, without any garnish, blew me away with the simplest flavor.  It's the chemistry... the science with a dash of art that makes great cooks shine in simple kitchens.
I love all the cooking shows that pit creativity against time and show off the amazing skills of talented people.  I go through spurts where it's all take-out and to-go boxes.  Thankfully, that's cheap & easy to do here.  But then, I can't take another thing home... I want to build it myself.  I want to create that flavor and savor succulent success. Unfortunately, when I do try, Suz has prepped, eaten and cleaned off the table of her meal before I get finished slicing and dicing mine.
Another item for the bucket list... Chef.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yeah... I KNOW!

We haven't posted anything for a few days because, well... we've been up til 2AM yammerin' to each other like hens in the chicken house.
You heard me... HENS IN THE CHICKEN HOUSE.  How is it that your eyes will not stay open, your head's back against the wall and yet, you still will not go to bed?  This is the craziness of my family.  We've been resisting sleep for as long as I can remember.  Unfortunately, that issue seems to be genetic as Cooper doesn't so much like the sleep thing either.
I've just not had the time to do anything more than post some shots over on the family blog.  Suffice it to say, we've had a great time and it's not even half over!  Hoorah!

Monday, June 7, 2010

One Final Appointment

Suz had an appt with Dr. Azar and his assistant for a final meet & greet.  She was declared "in great health" and the Doc was happy to see the very healthy boy he delivered a month and change ago.  I have to say, I'm grateful for the lead to Dr Azar and the team at Jordan Hospital.  We came to Jordan this time with very little in the way of expectations or even understanding.  This was going to be a whole new ball game due mainly to that little guy kicking around in his mama's belly.
We didn't know what to expect as far as doctors and maternity wards went.  We didn't even know a doctor to call.  There's no shortage of hospitals in our neighborhood.  In fact, one of them reflects the sun in a bluish haze from its monstrous facade into our courtyard every afternoon.  But which was right for us?  Would there be a language barrier?  How big would the cultural barrier be?  We knew the cost wouldn't be as exorbitant as the States, but where would the money come from?
The questions built up, but slowly the answers came.  In this medical society, the Doctor knows best.  He gives you info when he decides you're ready for it or when he's ready to move on to a next step.  This is NOT the way we operate.  Call it a Western mindset or just our hyper-organizational tendencies, we want the facts up front.  But this is the type of place you can call for an appointment with a specialist and be told, "This morning is pretty busy.  Can you come this afternoon?"  We didn't know which hospital we'd have Cooper in until a few weeks before the due date.  Things just happen at a different speed than we were used to.  You adjust and go with the flow knowing it'll work out.
Dr. Azar's medical knowledge is par excellence.  Our trust in him was sealed when he expertly inserted Suzi's epidural with finesse and very little pain.  The hospital staff was professional and, to a degree, personal.  When we went home that Friday afternoon with our own little bundle of joy, we might not have known every trick or technique we needed, but we were happy with the outcome.  We'd moved to the Middle East.  We'd found a doctor and a hospital.  We'd had a healthy baby.  Alhamdulillah (Thanks be to God)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nat'l Geographic Coolness

Last week, Sandra called to tell me there was an event at the American Language Center featuring a documentary director and her movie, Inside Mecca.  Shot for National Geographic, Anisa Mehdi's 50-minute piece tells the story of three pilgrims who travel from opposite corners of cultures and continents to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.
The point of the exercise was to give students at the ALC a chance to see an English language documentary about a place many of them know well.  The bonus was that the director, who is a Fulbright Scholar and Emmy award winner working in Amman, could introduce the screening and take questions afterward.  She made it clear to the mostly local group that this was shot for an American TV audience which has very little understanding of the inside workings of Mecca or the ritual pilgrimage made by millions of people each year.  A quote from the movie gives a little perspective into what it takes to pull off this annual event:
"If you can, imagine having twenty Super Bowls in one stadium where two million people will come to the same stadium. … [A]dd to that [the fact] that these two million people will actually be taking part in playing the game as well. It may give you a glimpse of the preparations needed for hajj." - Iyad Madani, Minister of Hajj for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Q&A session afterward was insightful and spirited.  Of course, I was most curious about the crew & gear and got a chance to talk briefly with Anisa about her experience.  You can see production shots  on her site and learn more about her work in Amman on her blog.

Friday, June 4, 2010

SUZI: Cooper's Got a New Drug

I’m not normally one to endorse products and sing the praises of some company.  What works for me may not work for you, so I’m not going to foist my preferences on you.  I’m not sporting any logos on a shirt or plastering an advertisement on the side of my car.  However, with that being said, I simply have to write about something that has made Cooper’s life (and thereby ours) immeasurable better.
Poor little Cooper has had tummy problems from day one.  Who knew gas could be such a big deal?  It has gradually gotten worse over the weeks, until this past week Cooper spent more time during the day screaming and crying than he did being his normal happy self.  We’re talking beet-red faced, back arched, can barely catch your breath sort of crying.  I have tried everything – avoiding all the recommended foods (broccoli, cabbage, onions, citrus fruits); massaging his stomach and pedaling his legs; keeping him upright for at least 15 minutes after he eats; stuffing him full of gas drops; (organic or otherwise) and just about anything else I can think of.  After a full day of crying that could break the heart of even the most cold and calloused, I made a doctor’s appointment to see if there was anything else we could do.
The doctor ponked on his stomach and announced, “He’s got tummy problems.  It’s tight as a balloon.”  At least we were in agreement on that.  He gave us a recommendation for BioGaia probiotic drops, and immediately I was a bit skeptical.  The drops are supposed to help build up good bacteria in the intestines, and this helps settle the gas and pain issues.  I seriously doubted that this solution would help that much, but I was willing to try anything.  It was going to take a few days to kick in though.  Days 1, 2, 3 & 4 passed and we didn’t see too much improvement.  Even though the doctor told us it could take up to a week, I felt like my doubts were being confirmed.  Then day 5 came…and the sky opened up, angels sang, and rainbows filled the room.  I walked into Cooper’s room that morning to find him in his crib…awake…and smiling at me.  The happiness continued all morning long, all afternoon long, all evening long.  Scott announced that this was Cooper’s best day of his life.  Surely this was a fluke, right?  I’ve waited a few days to write anything just to see if the improvement sticks.  It has.
We feel like we have a brand new baby.  His problems haven’t completely disappeared, but the improvement is so great that I’m writing about it.  It’s like night and day.  Know a gassy baby?  These are definitely worth a shot.