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.