Sunday, December 30, 2007

And to all a good night!

Happy Holidays, BSM fans! And thanks to all who sent Sean gifts for his first Christmas. It was a great close to a blessed year for the Considine/Kocsis family - Sean is the best gift we could have hoped for.

Sean received gifts from all sorts of friends and loved ones - some came from far off lands, like Ireland. Sean received so many great toys that we have set up a play room in our guest bedroom. It's not quite finished yet, so stay tuned for a photo of Sean enjoying his new playroom.

Sean made some big strides from Thanksgiving to December. At Thanksgiving dinner this year, Sean previewed his crawling ability for the gathered family, by rocking back and forth a little on his hands and knees, and taking a few halting moves forward. Now he's able to cruise across the floor in seconds, and usually straight for the most dangerous thing in the vicinity - electric outlets, cords to appliances, sharp objects, etc. Even though the house has been re-baby-proofed, he still has a way of finding the most dangerous thing left in any area. During the week before xmas, Sean learned how to pull himself up in his crib. Now we are greeted each morning by his smiling face, with him standing up in his crib. It took only a day or two for him to get back down once he'd climbed up.

As these photos depict, Sean has transferred his climbing skills to just about everything he can, including these baby gates, other toys and furniture, even people. He is even taking steps while holding onto things, which means (gulp) walking can't be too far behind.

All this crawling, climbing and walking takes a lot of energy. Fortunately, Sean loves to eat (usually). One of his favorite parts of eating meals now is the cleanup help he gets from Amber and Buddy. All Sean needs to do is hold his hand low enough to reach a dog, and the tongue does the rest.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday season - only a few months until spring!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sean is officially mobile

On the Move!
Originally uploaded by mtb_james
Sean has officially crawled from one place to another, with the purpose of reaching a toy, thus making him a mobile baby. It's all over for mom and dad now - no longer can we put Sean somewhere and have any assurance that he will stay there. Actually, he has been moving himself around for a while now, usually by rolling. Like a sailor tacking her sail into a headwind, Sean angles his rolls to cross a lot of territory in a short period. As a crawler now, we have to re-evaluate the entire house from floor level to 12", and Sean-proof everything anew. Pretty soon he'll be taking his first steps - his first request for the car keys can't be too far behind.

Sean also experienced his first Turkey Day on Thursday. The family all came over, ostensibly to have dinner, but we know everyone was here to see him. In fact, we had an open seat at the dining table, while it was a full house in the kitchen (where the kids usually eat). Sweet potatoes and corn topped his menu - next year he will have enough teeth and chewing practice to have turkey and fixin's with the rest of the kids.

Naturally, Sean tops the list of things we are thankful for this year. He truly is the best thing to happen to us. Ever.

- James

Sunday, November 11, 2007

No more toothless grin

Our little guy is growing so fast. Sean is seven-and-a-half months old, I can't believe how fast the time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. Now he's got two teeth, and loves to use them on his baby food. He can even sit and hold his own bottle just like a big boy :) He's chatting away. He's got dada and baba down, now if only he knew what those words meant. . . Sean loves the sound of his own voice, he likes to "sing" himself to sleep and talk to himself when he wakes up in the morning. I have to say I love his voice too. There's no better sound than the sound of his laugh. Sean is a man on the move. He's getting so close to crawling. I fully expect, that one of these days, I'll pick him up at daycare and he'll crawl over to me. He gets up on his hands and knees rocks back and forth, like he's revving up the engine. Even though he can't crawl, he's not content to stay in one place, he can wiggle and roll his way just about anywhere. All that wiggling can tire a boy out - he's been sleeping 10-11 hours a night and can fall sleep just about anywhere, as proven recently when he fell asleep in his exersaucer.

Sean has become very interested in the world around him and finds the dogs very entertaining. He tries to pet them, but it usually turns out more like pulling and grabbing, which they are not so fond of. We're working on learning the concept of being gentle. For now the dogs can just get up and walk away when they've had enough. For the dog's sake, I hope Sean masters "gentle" at the same time he masters crawling.

Sean celebrated his first Halloween last month. I don't think he quite knew what to make of it, but he was a good sport and let us dress him up as a koala bear(the cutest koala bear ever, I might say!) We just had his portrait taken in his costume. I thought for sure this portrait session would go smoother than the last one, but remember all that wiggling I mentioned, well, we were lucky the shots weren't blurry the way he was moving around. We still managed to get some pretty adorable shots as you can see here. And were able to get a shot of him for our holiday cards.

Sean is really looking forward to his first turkey day, an evening with family and food, two of his favorite things. This year we have a great deal to be thankful for. We have been truly blessed by our wonderful son. We couldn't ask for more, and are enjoying every minute.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Back from Vacation - Sean Sits up By Himself Now!

Sorry for the lengthy hiatus, loyal BSM fans (that's Baby Sean Michael). There is much to report. First, you'll no doubt notice a bit of a makeover for the site - just keeping it fresh (as fresh as one can averaging 1 post a month).

Sean has been a baby on the go this summer - in August he went to Lake Placid with mom and dad on a brief getaway before dad started his new job. It was a pretty fancy place, The Mirror Lake Inn, where Sean was able to try pool swimming. You can't tell from the photo, but he did enjoy it. Sean made lots of friends, especially one nice server who walked him around the hotel so mom and dad could enjoy their overpriced dinner. This hotel is known for its service, but we sure didn't expect that.

Soon after that, Sean attended his first Ring of Fire up at camp. On the last night of summer, usually the night before Labor Day, everyone on the Great Sacandaga Lake builds a giant bonfire, and then lights it when it gets dark. This year none of the grownups had to build the bonfire (which usually involves many trips to the wooded part of the property to collect blown-down branches), which we were very grateful for. It's a backbreaking job.

On the day after Labor Day, dad started a new job at Vertis Communications, a printing and advertising company. It's a better job than his old one, but involves some traveling, which is not too bad so far. We get plenty of bonding time over dinner, bath, bottle and story (our nightly routine) . Having completed many of Dr. Seuss' fine tales, as well as some more contemporary authors, we're now deep into Winnie-The-Pooh.

Not too long after the Ring of Fire, Sean went to his Nani and Popi's 40th Wedding anniversary party, put on by his dad and the siblings. Sean got to meet his cousins Amy, Kelly, Rebecca, Daniel, Sabrina and Alaina for the first time, as well as Aunt Annemarie and Uncle David. Not to mention dad's many cousins, aunts and uncles, and even Sean's great-grandma Vera. Sean had a blast - he really does love gatherings. Everyone lives so far away from each other that it takes something like this for everyone to get together.

I can sit up on my own!!

Now that we're in the Fall, Sean is hitting his stride with some development milestones. He started sitting up all by himself about a week ago, and is getting close to trying a crawl. Teeth are coming, which is painful, and Sean is counting down to his first Halloween, for which he and mom will dress as a Koala bear and tree. You can probably guess who will be who. Photos will of course be posted.

- James

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sean Loves the Water - And Realized He Has Feet

We've brought Sean up to Joy's family camp on the Great Sacandaga for a couple of weekends now, and he seems to be enjoying the vibe up there. Naturally, our furry kids have always loved camp - we have to say C-A-M-P around Amber as she knows what the word means and starts freaking out whenever we say it.

Here you can see Sean "swimming" - he's actually just standing on my feet in the water.

Preparing Sean for a swim is a multi-step process:
- Swim diaper? Check
- Swimsuit? Check
- SPF Protection Shirt? Check
- Baby Sunscreen? Check
- Sunglasses? Check
- Sun hat? Check
- Kevlar bullet proof safety cocoon? Not needed after 3 months old.

Now we can go swimming. Or wading really. But Sean loves water. Even bath time, which we've started doing every night before bed in an effort to help him sleep through the night. It isn't really working yet, but he's clean and fresh-smelling every night.

He's also discovered his feet, and can be found grabbing them while laying in his crib. He's also usually talking to himself at the same time, generally happy with life at that moment. Of course, that happiness can evaporate in the blink of an eye - sometimes it comes back quickly. Other times, it doesn't come back for a loooooong time.

- James

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sean Says "G" and "B" Now

Hello, loyal Sean's Blog fans. We've had an incredibly busy month of July this year. Here's a quick re-cap.

We had our annual summertime party at our home, this time to welcome Sean into our community and have a brief naming/tree planting ceremony. About 50 or so of our friends, family and neighbors joined us for what turned out to be a pretty nice day. Dr. Gerard Vallone, a longtime family friend (who also married us) was the officiant, presiding over Sean's naming, and the planting of a River Birch tree in the front yard for Sean. We also welcomed little Conal, new son of cousin Felice (photo here) to our home for the first time. All in all, a great time.

A couple of weeks later, we had our first road trip and stay overnight in a strange place. My cousin David got married in the Boston area, and we all went. (Well, the dogs stayed home). It was Sean's first chance to meet his Uncles Pete and Mike, and Aunt Laura, as well as cousins and Great-grandma Vera. Naturally, Sean was happy to meet and greet everyone, though it was very tiring, and he eventually wound up napping through the reception. Thankfully, he's a great sleeper - the brass band hired for the reception was, well, brassy and quite loud. We weren't sure how he'd do on a 3 hour car trip - in the end, he was fine for 2 1/2 hours of it, getting quite fussy towards the end. Come to think of it, I get quite fussy after a couple of hours in the car, so either he's ahead or I'm behind. The hotel was kind enough to roll in a crib for Sean, but he didn't really care for it. I know how he feels - nothing beats one's own bed.

In the meantime, Sean has become quite accustomed to his routine of waking up with dad, having a bottle and a burp, playing with mom for a little while, then heading off to school. After a quick nap in the car (which often extends) he gets to see all his pals at school. The other tots gather around Sean's car seat when he comes in the morning, and more than one teacher has indicated her interest in taking him home. Who can blame them? Mom gets to visit during lunch, and for the most part, it seems to be working out just fine. He is generous with the smiles, and can be coaxed into a laugh or two with some peek-a-boo. It's amazing that game still works on kids, with all the new fangled technology, dvds, interweb, iPhones and the like. And despite all his Baby Einstein toys, his favorite plaything is a plain, white cloth diaper. Go figure.

Sean has also achieved some developmental milestones. He's vocalizing quite a lot nowadays, and is a big fan of the letter G. Guh, guh, guh he says. Or buh - that's a recent addition. The rest of the time it's vowels of some sort - oooh, mostly. He's also started grabbing for things and putting them in his mouth. It seems like just days ago that he had no interest at all in the many hanging toys in his bouncy chair. Interestingly, he prefers reaching with his little left hand - if we were more superstitious, or living in the last century, we might be inclined to discourage his southpaw tendencies, but, we're not, so we don't.

Last but not least, we have to mention Sean's first haircut. He's been gradually losing it around the back and sides, until he had a little on top, and a little mullet at the bottom of his head. A few minutes with the trimmer took care of that. We put those soft little locks in an envelope for safekeeping. He looks very dapper now.

We've also been watching the Tour de France with great interest. Sadly, all of the controversy with riders being hopped up on goofballs, ProCrit, or other things (like someone else's blood) definitely dampened the enthusiasm for the whole thing. I suppose it's just the reality of competitive sports these days, but it is still sad that everyone seems to be hopped up on something out there as they compete. (Barry Bonds is a great hitter and all, but would he really have hit all those home runs on his own? My brief statistical tests indicate that there is no chance that the huge increase in Home Runs per game and Home Runs per at bat after 1998 is explainable by mere chance. Hmmm....) Sean is definitely anti-doping - we had a lengthy discussion about it after Michael Rasmussen (Tour leader at the time) was kicked out of the race. If Sean ever gets into sports, he's going to do it clean. Same goes for music, acting, accounting, or whatever else he may be drawn to - he doesn't like cheaters.

English football season begins in August - yippee!

- James

Friday, July 6, 2007

Back to work...

Well, the honeymoon is over, back to reality. Two big things happened this week, Mom started back to work and Sean started child care. Both were harder on mom than on Sean. Having to leave him for the first time with a stranger was so difficult. While I know he is in good hands, those hands aren't mine and I really miss him. Dad went with us on our first day for moral support and to make sure Mom wasn't a basket case. Sean was pretty good about it, he didn't even seem to notice when we left, and I got to go to my office and have a good cry. Since it is right next door I get to go visit him a lot, which I have already taken advantage of. The teachers are going to get sick of me, but it definitely helps with the baby withdrawals. It is nice to be back at work and talk to adults. It was strange the first day, it felt like my first day at a new job. It's going to take awhile to re-acclimate to the hectic pace of day to day life in an office and crazy deadlines again. My biggest deadlines for the past few months were imposed by a crying baby who didn't want to wait the 5 minutes it takes to warm up a bottle.

I do think Sean will enjoy child care. He's definitely the hit of the room. Being not only the new kid, but the youngest and the only boy. He's getting lots of attention. It could be because his needs are greater, the other kids can crawl and sit up on their own but I think being devilishly handsome also helps. His second day in and he's already gotten an incident report on his permanent record and his first cold. I was a little taken aback when they told me when I picked him up I needed to sign and date an incident report, I thought that something terrible must have happened—then she showed me a tiny little scratch on his temple (he's given himself much worse with his sharp little finger nails). Apparently the teacher was reaching to pick him up, he moved, and she scratched him. Not much of an incident in my opinion, but better to be overly cautious I guess. As for his cold, I knew it was bound to happen, just thought he would at least get through a full week without one.

He is sleeping better, not sure if it is just that he is finally establishing a good sleep pattern, or if all the excitement of his days watching the other kids play and crawl around is exhausting him. Either way, I'm appreciating the extra zzzzs.

Friday, June 29, 2007

What's Sean Doing Now?

I seem to get asked this fairly regularly - of course, my initial response was always, "the usual - eating, pooping, sleeping, crying". I didn't realize that they were asking what new things he's doing. Because, we all pretty much do the first three on that list every day, (with some exceptions of course).

So Sean has some new things he's started doing in the last few weeks. Like smiling - mouth wide open, dimples showing, toothless smiles. Especially for the ladies. I get my share, to be sure, but Sean really seems to turn on the charm for the ladies in his life. He's also started vocalizing a lot more. It almost seems like he's trying to tell us something - maybe he is. Oprah had a guest on a while back that had apparently cracked the baby talk code, and for a mere $50, you could buy her DVD where all would be revealed. We haven't taken that leap yet. Sean may not totally agree, but I think we've figured out his code somewhat, and how to respond. For now. Everything could be different next week (or tomorrow).

Another big step took place last weekend while my mother was up visiting - Sean slept in his own room, in his big boy crib. He seems to have taken to it quite well, hardly protesting at not sleeping in our room any more. He's still up 1-2 times a night, but is sleeping longer, and going back to sleep fairly easily. We keep an ear out for the baby monitor.

- James

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sean's First Father's Day

Sean and Dad spent most of their first Father's Day sitting in the recliner with a refreshing bottle of milk in one hand and the remote in the other. While they were alternating between watching soccer games and cycling races, Mom went to the hospital to visit her Dad who is recovering from a quadruple bypass. He's doing well, feeling good enough to joke around with all the nurses. My Mom is looking forward to having him home again. On the discharge instructions it says he will be able to dust and cook, two things he couldn't do before the bypass. The miracles of modern medicine. After Sean and James' long hard day watching sports and napping, we went out for Thai food. Sean had a pretty good time until the entrees came and the waitress didn't bring him one. We tried to explain to him that he doesn't have the fine motor skills needed to use the chopsticks but it didn't calm him down. So we hurriedly finished and paid the check. He instantly fell asleep as soon as we put him in the car. Later Sean got his bath, faithful readers of the blog will remember how much he used to hate that, but like diaper changes, he has come to accept and even enjoy it. Here's a picture of the little guy in his robe and slippers. Cute as a button! All in all it was a pretty mellow day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Thank goodness it's over

Thanks to all who supported me with pledges in the Tour De Cure ride to support the American Diabetes Association. Over 1100 riders turned out this year, though very few elected to do the 75 mile ride (hence the title of this post.)

While cycling looks to most to be an individual sport, any pro cyclist or elite amateur will tell you that it takes a team to win a race. There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is the huge advantage one has by riding behind another cyclist. The amount of effort required riding in front is about 20-30% more than riding behind. That is especially true for out-of-shape shlubs like me.

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to find a group with which to ride, meaning I wound up on the front for nearly all of the ride. As in, I rode by myself. It is a Goldilocks situation for sure - one group was too fast, another too slow. I thought I had a group of 3 going until I had a flat on the only real hill in the course. Sigh.

At any rate, I felt reasonably good for 50 miles, and if I had elected to do only 50 miles, the experience would have been more positive. Unfortunately, I had 25+ miles to go (I believe the course is actually 78 miles - grrr.) and sortof suffered through the rest.

Except I didn't quite get to finish. My bike had a problem at mile 70 which basically couldn't be addressed on the road, so that was the end of the line. I hopped a ride with a nice couple in one of the SAG wagons to complete the ride. I do apologize to all of you who sponsored me on the basis that I would be completing 75 miles - contact the Diabetes Assn. about a refund :)

It was not all bad though. The route was beautiful, taking us up to Fort Edward, through Washington County and back around western Saratoga county. The weather was nice, unlike recent years. And above all, I saw many families and other folks who were pushing it to the limit in support of a great cause. And I apparently burned over 4000 calories. I say apparently because I weighed about the same this morning. But I did get to eat a lot yesterday without any guilt.

To see how it all unfolded, I have the entire ride recorded. Just click on the map above for 70 miles worth of stats. Thanks again for sponsoring me.

- James

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lots of stuff been goin' on...

Our apologies to all of Sean's loyal fans, it's been a long time since we've updated you on Sean's life. Since our last post Sean has been very busy. He's been to visit Mommy's work and Daddy's work. Security is pretty tight at Daddy's work, so he had to have an I.D. badge. At Mommy's work they don't need no stinkin' badges. Everyone was so excited to see and hold Sean. We are planning our next visits real soon.

Sean took his first trip up to camp on Memorial Day Weekend, he's waiting until the water warms up a little to try water skiing, but he had fun just the same. Sean's been having so many firsts, we thought we'd try one, we went on our first date since Sean was born to celebrate our 3rd Anniversary on May 29th. Sean stayed with Grandma and Grandpa K (first time with a babysitter—scary, but he did fine, Mom and Dad were more upset than he was).

Today, Sean had his 2 month checkup. He is doing well. edging up over the 50th percentile in weight, but not quite there in height and head size. Well, at least no one can say he's not a good eater! He weighed in at a whopping 12 lbs. 14 oz. that is a weight gain of 6 lbs. 5 oz. for those of you keeping score at home. He had to get 4 shots today. Not fun at all, but he was a brave little boy. I think it was worse for Mommy, being enlisted as an accomplice to the torturing he had to endure. I had to hold the poor little guy down while they poked him with 4 needles and listen to him scream. He calmed down pretty quickly though and has been sleeping practically ever since, someday I hope he forgives me for the part I played in his pain. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning—he'll need to get these shots again and more for the next 4-5 doctor visits. Even through his ordeal, he's been able to smile (a new skill he's picked up and has been using frequently to our delight).

Well, I think that hits the highlights. We'll try to do better about updating you on his progress, we promise our next posting won't be about how he got his driver's license.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Sean's First Mother's Day

We all celebrated our first Mother's Day yesterday with a day of firsts for Sean. First, we took him to the annual Tulip Festival, in Albany's Washington Park. It's a Mother's Day tradition in these parts, though the weather is frequently crummy. At any rate, the city plants all sorts of interesting varieties of tulips, leaves them in the park for a few weeks, then digs up all of the beds and puts something else there.

Sean, naturally, slept through the entire outing, as seen here. From there, we went home and met Grandma and Grandpa C back at the ranch for a joint Mother's Day celebration. Sean pretty much slept through that as well.

From there, we headed over to a local restaurant on the Mohawk River for a little Mother's Day dinner. Sitting out on the deck was nice until the sun went down, and the wind picked up. Sean slept through his first restaurant outing as well, until the very end. Fortunately, we had an emergency bottle packed. Sean doesn't like to wait to eat. He understands the concept of NOW quite well.

So Sean managed to sleep through his first Tulip Fest, his first dinner out, and most of his first Mother's Day. He did not, however, sleep through his first Mother's Day night.

Diabetes Ride Training Update:
I have managed to get out to do a 40 and 45 mile ride each of the last two weekends. They weren't too bad, except I really didn't feel like riding another 30-35 miles after pulling in the driveway. This doesn't bode too well for next month's 75 mile ride, but I'm trying to squeeze in the miles wherever I can. Wish me luck.

- James

Monday, May 7, 2007

It's been awhile since our last post

My apologies to the faithful readers of the blog. We have been neglectful in updating you on Sean's daily progress.

First let me give a big shout out to the Grandmas. Grandma K has been coming over a lot to help out with feeding/changing/holding Sean as well as cleaning the house and taking care of the dogs. It has been such a huge help. I don't know what I would have done without her. Just the simple act of showering becomes a daunting task with a baby screaming for attention. And Nani C also came and spent the night, she brought lots of food, and was an enormous help to us. Sean was so happy to see her. We are so grateful for the love and support. With ten kids and thirteen grandchildren between the two of them, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can't be beat.

We are slowly adjusting to the many changes in our daily lives. Sean still has his days and nights mixed up, he likes the nightlife, he likes to boogie. So we're still trying to work out a good sleeping pattern. He can sleep through any noise, it's the quiet that wakes him, but noise isn't exactly conducive to his parents sleeping.

Sean had his one-month check up with the doctor last week. He has gained over three pounds since birth and has grown an inch and a half in height, well on his way to the NBA ;) He's got quite the double chin now, and his little legs and arms have really chubbed out. The doctor said whatever we're doing, keep it up. He's up to the 50th percentiles for height and weight, big change from the 25th that he was when he was a week old.

Sean attended his first baby shower on Sunday, he had a great time. He is eagerly awaiting the birth of his cousin, due to arrive in two months, he's looking forward to playdates. If Sean and his cousin have half as much fun playing together as their moms did when they were little they'll be very happy boys.

Update on kitty - Venus has not returned, we are losing hope of seeing her again. We hope she has found a new home–one free of dogs and babies, where she can be the center of attention.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Could it have been that simple all along?

Over the last few days, Sean has been especially upset, fussing and crying for literally hours. Even his little voice had grown hoarse from all of the crying. Grandma Linda was up to help Friday and Saturday, and got to see firsthand Sean's state of affairs. The burping, swaddling, shushing, swaying, binky-sucking, gas medicine, bouncy-chairing was only effective for mere minutes before Sean erupted into tears all over again.

Here's the thing about infant care - they change so fast, that just when we've gotten a routine down, it suddenly no loner meets his new needs. For days we fed Sean 8x a day, 3oz at a time. Turns out that babies go through several growth spurts during their first year, and Sean happened to be going through one last week.

So it turns out he was just hungry. Once we had increased his feeding volumes, he was back to his mellow self, settling back down quickly, sleeping well. Of course, simply feeding Sean a lot more has it's own consequences - there's only so much room for milk, even if he's in a growth spurt. So things are relatively back to normal for now.

Sean has another doctor appointment this week, so we'll know precisely how much Sean has grown in the last three weeks. He definitely has - he's really filling out his little outfits, and he officially has a double chin. Stay tuned for that update this week.

Still no sign of kitty.

- James

Friday, April 27, 2007

We haven't seen our cat in a while

Maybe she got tired of being the lowest-ranking creature around our house and went off in search of a more attentive owner. Perhaps she felt like she needed some space. Either way, we haven't seen Venus since she ventured out the back door a few days ago. She did this once before - unfortunately for her, it's been rainy up here this week.

Sean continues to do well, although he has been a little more upset than usual. In fact, his little voice has grown hoarse from the extra crying he's been doing lately. Despite all the tricks we got from Dr. Karp, he's still been upset about something. Maybe it's the usual culprit - gas. We may try giving him some baby gas relieving medicine.

Diabetes Charity Ride Update
Training is coming slowly - I've ridden about 125 miles so far this year. Pretty abysmal. I am hoping to get out more, now that the weather is improving. Given that I have committed to ride the 75-mile ride, I'm going to need more training.

Here's information on a ride I did in the winter - I may post these for other training rides, if people find it at all interesting. You'll be able to see just how slow I'm going up and down the hills around our home. Loads of fun.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bath Time for Sean

Sean had his first proper bath last night. Even though he was given a beautiful baby tub complete with bubbling jet and spray nozzle, he didn't really care for it too much. Poor guy - he's so young to have to learn that life is full of things you'd just rather not do, but there you have it. We of course captured the moment and have posted photos to the site - nothing Sean will be embarrassed by later in life (we hope). If so, I'll spring for therapy.

Mom has been cleared to drive and do stairs by her doctor, which is good news. She continues to mend quite nicely, in time to enjoy the beautiful spring days we are currently being treated to in upstate NY. Kindof makes the last few months of lousy weather a little more bearable. The golfers are also out in full force (we live next to a country club), which means we all have to be on the lookout for wayward golf balls. Never having played, I can't quite understand how they make it into our yard, but I'm told it's not that hard to miss that badly. I just hope I don't get beaned one day while mowing the lawn - how will I know who to sue?

- James

Monday, April 23, 2007

Brief Update

We've made a few changes to Sean's photo site. A new feature, Sean's Weekly Photo debuts today. Each week we'll take a picture of Sean next to a somewhat scary looking troll toy that one of Joy's co-workers gave us. We haven't measured or weighed him recently, but he's starting to fill out a little, as evidenced by his chubbier cheeks.

Also, we have added photos of our furry children, Amber and Buddy, for your viewing pleasure. They are the best dogs in the universe.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

- James

NOTE: I have been corrected - Sean's toy is a Galoompagalot, called Zottle. Apparently, you can't get Zottle any more. But you can get other such monsters here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Happiest Baby on the Block

Sean may be the only baby on the block, actually. There are loads of children in our neighborhood, but Sean is probably the youngest.

At any rate, the Happiest Baby on the Block is not a descriptor of Sean per se, but the title of a DVD I was loaned by a fellow father from the office. In essence, it's about calming new babies. Now, Sean is pretty mellow, as 2-week-olds go, often sleeping quite soundly for a couple of hours at a stretch, several times a day. Some of the babies in this DVD were hardly sleeping at all, and their poor parents looked pretty ragged. So I was already feeling pretty lucky. Naturally, we decided Sean was cuter than all of the babies in the video as well, but, that's to be expected.

So Dr. Karp (baby whisperer to the stars, including Madonna and Michelle Pfeiffer) came up with the 5S system - Swaddle, Side/Stomach, Shush, Sway, and Suck (not to be confused with 5S in Lean - Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain - used to quickly organize work areas for increased efficiency). It was amazing. After tightly swaddling baby with arms at the side, and then holding him on his side/stomach, it was as if the Dr. had found the crying off-switch. In later scenes, he shush-ed loudly in the ear of a crying baby, and then brought out the big guns of swaying or jiggling baby while shush-ing, and using a pacifier or a finger.

It was amazing as the Dr. illustrated this set of techniques working over and over again. We've already been taking notes from Supernanny and Cesar, the Dog Whisperer. So now we have the Baby Whisperer.

I have changed my swaddling technique, and we're going to try playing a white noise CD to encourage longer sleep at night. (We already learned that Sean likes the vacuum). Poor Joy has been doing the lion's share of the night feedings since I went back to work, so anything we can do to prolong sleep and quickly calm Sean is a bonus.

For the calming system, check out Dr Karp on the web. If you want to learn more about Lean 5S, to help get organized, check out this site.

- James

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lean Diaper Changing

Ok, I threatened a couple of days ago to talk about changing diapers and something called Lean.

A little history. Professionally, I am what's known as a Black Belt leader in Six Sigma and Lean, two approaches for improving quality and performance in organizations. For simplicity sake, a new-era efficiency expert. Since being steeped in analyzing processes for the last couple of years, I can't help but see processes everywhere, and occasionally, ways to improve them.

I mentioned the other day that Sean generally gets changed 8-10 times a day. Did I mention that he pretty much hates it? Anyway, in Lean there are five principles:
  • Customer defines what's important
  • Get organized around what provides value to the customer
  • Streamline the delivery of that value
  • Let the customer "pull" the value
  • Pursue perfection continuously
Sean is our customer. What's valuable to him is a clean diaper change as fast as possible. As we organize the changing table and process, it should all be designed to deliver that clean diaper efficiently. Change Sean when he needs to be changed. Keep trying to do it better.

My first attempts were clumsy, at best, as I figured out the process. Undress, open diaper, cover Sean with a cloth, apply baby wipe, apply clean diaper, re-dress, calm screaming infant. It took a few tries to learn that:
  • Sean really only complains when he is getting undressed. Try to minimize the amount of time that he is undressed, i.e. arrange all materials before undressing him
  • Sometimes the cold air has an effect on him - cover him with a cloth to prevent an unpleasant accident.
  • Those baby wipes are cold! Heat them up, will ya? (Best $23 we've spent so far)
  • Get that diaper closed properly (one blow-out brought this error to my attention)
Without getting out the stopwatch, I think we're down to about 60 seconds for the whole process. Take that NASCAR pit crew (another excellent example of Lean).

I thought Lean diaper changing was pretty clever, until I Googled it and found out that others have made the connection.

Lean is fascinating, and extremely powerful. Toyota is poised to become the world's #1 car company because of it. Here's a great blog on using Lean in everyday life.

- James

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sean by the numbers

Sean is now eating heartily about 8 times a day. At about 3oz per feeding, that translates into roughly 24oz, or 1.5 lbs of milk. Since he doesn't yet weigh 7 lbs these days, that's over 20% of his weight in food, every day. That's like me eating 35 lbs of food a day.

Perhaps calories is a better way to think about it - Sean's diet is about 20 calories an ounce, or about 480 calories a day. A typical diet for most adults weighing 175 lbs is about 2000 calories a day. So, 1/4 the calories, but 1/25 the body weight.

All that eating means lots of diaper changes. About 8-10 of those a day. Considering how much he hates it, that means 8-10 harrowing moments of Sean crying as loud as he can and flailing his little arms and legs.

About 2-3 times a day, Sean has to be completely changed, including swaddle blanket. So that of course involves lots of laundry.

We did manage to have a beautiful spring day yesterday up in upstate NY, and took Sean out for his second walk. He slept through that one too. He seems to sleep a little better in the day than the night, which we're trying to figure out how to reverse. If anyone has suggestions, we're all ears.

I go back to work tomorrow, after almost 2 weeks off. I expect to spend the first few hours of the day talking about Sean and otherwise trying to remember what it is I do for a living. Let's hope I get a little sleep tonight.

- James

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Layin' Low in the Snow

Mom is giving Dad a break and is typing today's blog for me. Today was a pretty mellow day. We decided to take a rest from all the activity of the week and stay in.

Yesterday we went for our first walk around the neighborhood (well, Mom, Dad and the dogs walked while I rode in the stroller) I slept through the whole walk, but did get to meet our next-door neighbor Judy and our other neighbor Katie and her three girls. Judy and Al have been so nice to us, they made Mom and Dad a veggie lasagna, and gave me a beautiful figurine to put in my room. It was a good thing we took our walk yesterday in the nice weather since it snowed today! I can’t wait for Spring to really arrive so I can take more walks—next time I’ll try to stay awake.

Daddy has been doing a great job taking care of Mom and me. He’s a real pro at changing my diapers, feeding me and rocking me back to sleep. He also has a real knack for coercing those burps from me. He’s been busy taking care of Mom. She’s not supposed to use the stairs much so he’s constantly walking up and down getting her things. He’s been cleaning, doing laundry and running errands for Mom since we got home, yet still finds time to hang with me and have some male bonding time. We are really going to miss him when he goes back to work on Monday.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Big Day Today

Sean was out and about today - first, a visit to Bellevue Hospital, for some nursing assistance, and then on to his first doctor's appointment. He's nearly gained back to his birthweight, and his peanut status was confirmed by his weight, length and head size percentiles (all around 25th).

From there, Sean paid his first visit, to a dear family friend who used to live across the street from us here. She now lives in an adult home for women, which happens to be directly across the street from the pediatrician. Auntie Robin was extremely moved to see little Sean, and even held him for a short while. She said it had been ages since she held a baby, and we were happy to oblige.

Robin's husband Leo passed away a little more than a year ago, which was the impetus for her move from their home of 40 years to the adult home. They were among the first of our welcomers when we moved into the neighborhood in Fall 2004. Really, they wanted to meet our dogs, for they "preferred dogs to people". When Leo took ill a few months before he died, we made regular visits with the dogs, a sort of informal pet therapy. They loved him, and he loved them. We've been to see Robin with the dogs, and are looking forward to an entire family visit once the weather gets a little warmer.

People have said that Sean is going to change our lives, which is very true. Those changes have happened already. For example, my situational awareness is considerably higher than it used to be, as Sean's safety is now paramount. Also, I have discovered that I can multitask. For women, this probably doesn't seem all that impressive, but the guys may relate. We're pretty much one thing at a time, all the time. Now I am developing the ability to do several things at once. Last night I had Sean eating, me eating, and the Sunday crossword going at once. Who knows how far this could go? I'll save the application of the Toyota Production System
concepts (otherwise known as Lean Manufacturing) to the many processes involved in caring for Sean in another post.

- James

Monday, April 9, 2007

He's 6 today - days that is

Welcome to Sean's blog - he's been home for two days now, and we're all starting to get the hang of things. Sean is sleeping for a couple of hours at a time, eating well, producing diapers to be changed like there's no tomorrow. Mom and Dad are getting the basics down ok, for first timers.

Amber and Buddy (our golden retrievers) are adjusting well to having Sean in the house. Amber in particular seems to be guarding Sean, often placing herself between him and the door so that nothing gets past her. Buddy also seems to be never too far away either, though guarding is not really his style. He's more there to lend emotional support, in the form of a big smile and a constant wag. Venus, the family kitty, is definitely low creature on the totem pole these days. Poor thing.

Mom continues to do well, healing from the surgery and generally feeling better day by day. Dad is getting used to the lack of sleep and the seemingly endless amount of laundry that Sean generates each day.

We'll be updating this page pretty regularly - also, be sure to check out Sean's photo section at the upper right.