Sam’s Story: Week 31

As you can see from the pictures below, Grandma Sommer (Ger’s mom) is visiting this week, taking part in much of the happy fun childcare time. Sam was a bit dubious at first, apparently not having remembered Grandma, but she has warmed up considerably.

In fact, Sam has bee about as agreeable as we’ve ever known her to be. This is due, I’m certain, to the fact that she is now napping like a drunk. I’ve mentioned once or twice about how she had a lot of trouble napping, and that we were often forced to let her cry it out until she finally fell asleep –sometimes as long as 30 or 40 minutes. Worse, her naps topped out at around 20 minutes, 30 if we were lucky. Avoiding the drama and letting her stay up meant that by early evening we had a shrieking lump of baby that hated you, me, and the entire world with wordless fury. It was not a good situation.

Miraculously, though, in the last week or so Sam has started to zonk out immediately when put down for her morning nap, and only fuss a bit for her afternoon one. And get this: she sleeps for an hour and a half at a time! I’m hypothesizing that her new appetite for sleep is due mainly to her being more active (sitting, pushing up, flopping around), but I really don’t care why. I’m just glad because not only does this give us like an extra two to three hours of free time each day, but Sam is also generally more happy and tolerant of nonsense like not entertaining her for every waking moment.

Here are pictures:

Not much else to report, other than Sam has discovered the great job of taking something and bashing it against other things. She does this over and over and over again, leading me to believe that she has a great career ahead of her as either a carpenter or a contestant on Fox’s Foxy Boxing.

Sam’s Story: Week 30

Sometimes I worry about these updates. When people put photo albums together in the past, they were pretty much relegated to dusty bookshelves and lightless cabinets. They were broken out less and less often until one day when you’re trying to make room for some new junk you bought you find them and have a good laugh over the pictures of wrinkly baby butt or the fallout of uncontrollable baby barf.

But this is today. Or more problematically, you may be a visitor from the future reading this many days from now, doing a little basic web searching on this Samantha Madigan woman you’re getting ready to date, interview, or lend money to. I can just imagine my daughter hearing the words “I’m sorry, Miss Madigan, but we can’t offer you this lucrative dream job in our bioengineering corporation. It has come to our attention that you don’t nap very well and that you like to cram things in your mouth. Security will show you out.”

So if you’re from the future and you’re doing a little checking up on Samantha, don’t believe anything I’ve written before now. Sam is smart, emotionally stable, and fiscally responsible. I’ve seen the way she handles money. Instead of spending it she always tries to squirrel it away somewhere. Usually her mouth. And if you’re some young suitor trying to win her affections, try giving her a little piece of frozen watermelon and shouting “BOING!” right in her face. She loves that.

And now, some pictures of the incredibly hire-able Ms. Madigan in action:

Not much new on the development side this week, other than Sam’s continuous motor skills improvement. She’s gotten to the point where more active toys are more than expensive teething rings, so last Friday Geralyn and I went to Toys R Us to buy her something new. We managed to exhibit some restraint, and only walked out with a block sorter, an “activity ring,” and a little piano. Sam went absolutely bonkers over each of these items in the store, the piano in particular. She pounded the hell out of that thing and got mad when we gave it to the cashier. Of course, by Sunday night she was totally uninterested in any of it, having been there and done that.

Why you shouldn’t directly link to images

If you’re going to “borrow” a funny or neat image from another website, it’s generally considered bad form to just link directly to it in your code so that your webpage grabs the image from the creator’s website and loads it when someone looks at yours. Assuming you’ve got any business using the image in the first place, you should instead make a copy and put it on your website. Linking directly to an image like this, for example, pulls the file from my web server, costing me bandwidth and wreaking havoc with my traffic logs.

The traffic logs, in fact, were how I found out that one message board user on another site was linking directly to the picture of the sniper kitty in this story. The site in question was the messageboards of Now, another reason you shouldn’t link directly to an image on my site is that once I know you’re doing it, I can change the image to anything that I want, and it will appear on your site as long as I leave the file name the same. At this point I considered changing the sniper kitty image to something really obscene and offensive. You know, just to teach them a lesson. However, I didn’t exactly relish the idea of searching for and then working with that kind of imagery.

So, given that this site was populated by Reagan loving, ultra-conservative blowhards, I decided to go another route. Here’s a picture of the forum thread in question before I changed it:

And here’s what it looked like after I changed it:

I don’t think they’ve noticed yet, but I like it better this way.

Sam’s Story: Week 29

This week was much less eventful. Sam hasn’t done anything particularly wonderful, though she is starting to sit up with little assistance. She will, however, lunge for things (the remote control, a toy, the cat) and do spectacular face plants. She’s also eating well, including plenty of mushy fruits and vegetables.

This has unfortunate side effects, though. Allow me to digress a moment and I’ll explain. Several decades ago, Jean-Paul Sartre published an influential book called “Nausea.” In it, the French existentialist philosopher tells the story of a man who one day becomes aware of how disgusting existence is. I think it may have something to do with the absurd realization that he, the narrator, is a mash of consciousness and the fact that consciousness is tethered to a pile of fleshy flesh, but the end result is that everything is gross. Once the fact of his own icky existence hits him, the narrater is awash in the miasma of everyday life. He spends pages contemplating how nasty his own hand is. Whole paragraphs go on about how lewd and vulgar everything around him has become.

I think Sartre must have started his kid on solid foods around the time he wrote this. Yeah, it’s that bad and it kind of seeps (no pun intended) into everything else. I’m sure, though, that it will pass (again, no pun intended).

And now, pictures that stand in stark contrast to all this talk of grossness:

As you can see from the pictures, there are many things that Sam likes. Here’s a list we’ve compiled so far:

  • The Sealab 2021 theme song
  • The boobie
  • Little frozen chunks of watermelon eaten through her nifty feeder
  • The word “Bump”
  • The word “Boing!”
  • Sucking on her own feet
  • The other boobie
  • Her walrus bath toy
  • The Baby Einstein catepiller
  • The cat
  • Songs about weasels that go “POP!”
  • My computer keyboard
  • Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

It’s a growing list, for sure.

Sam’s Story: Week 28

Well, it was a big week this time around, so let’s approach this update by splitting this update into chapters. I’ll even give each chapter a cute title.

Chapter 1: I, Samantha Madigan, Heartily Endorse this Product or Event

Let’s face it: this kid is cute. My mother often uses the word “photogenic” to describe Sam, and I used to disagree with her before I looked the word up and figured out that she wasn’t trying to claim that Sam synthesized carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source. She was, in fact, telling us that Sam took pictures really good. Furthermore, grandma has been urging us to take Sam to one of those modeling agencies that specialize in kids and babies. I had assumed the kids pictured in parenting magazines and catalogs were grown in a vat somewhere, but evidently they belong to people just like us. And they’ll pay you money to take pictures of your kid.

So taking this advice, Geralyn found an ad in the paper sandwiched between a call for topless dancers (no experience necessary, training provided) and a “for sale” notice for an ’83 Honda Civic (runs fine, $4000 O.B.O.). She made an appointment for Monday afternoon and took Sam in.

I have to admit to a certain amount of trepidation over this. Ger and I agreed under absolutely no circumstances would she give them any money or sign anything. Still, I kept envisioning a cold, stone room without any decoration at all except for one picture of Barney taped to the wall as an afterthought. Except Barney would have this certain look in his plastic, googly eye and a certain tilt to his giant foam head as if to say “Come on in, kiddies. Come on in FOREVER AND ABANDON ALL HOPE! Hyuh hyuh hyuh!” There would also be a stern looking man in a grey suit sitting behind a government-grade desk, an intermittent shadow from the ceiling fan overhead sliding across his bald head. He would be wearing a monocle for some reason.

“Welcome to Herr Himmler’s Laborahhh… Talent Agency,” he’d say through smiling teeth. “Please place ze specimin on ze table. Schnell!”

Fortunately, Geralyn reported that evening that the lady she met with was nice, they wanted no money from us at this point, and no one had been transformed into a soulless, goose-stepping supersoldier of the fourth Reich. Well, at least not that she saw. Apparently the deal is that they put Sam in their files, and if they get a request for someone like her they call us and we go to the audition. If Sam gets the part, the talent agency gets a 20% commission. Kind of high, I know, but we’re not talking about big bucks here and we’re really only in it for the bragging rights –for which their commission is only 10%.

The only thing resembling a catch is that we will need to go to the auditions with headshots of Sam. They gave Ger a reference for someone who does this kind of photography, but the going rate was like $185. That’s way too much, and we figure we’ll take our chances with either our own camera or a cheaper portrait studio. More on that in Chapter 3 below.

Chapter 2: Fun with Photoshop

Last week I posted this picture of Geralyn feeing Samantha:

Looking at that picuture, most gamers might find something familiar about it. Especially gamers who have played “first person shooters” like Doom or Half-Life. Inspired by my inspiration, I opened up Photoshop and completed the picture:

If you don’t get it, don’t worry. You’re just not cool.

Chapter 3: Asleep at Wal-Mart

So we decided to get Sam’s picture taken by someone besides us with a little camera and waving toys around like an idiot. We wanted someone with a big camera and waving toys around like an idiot. Since we didn’t want to spend a lot of money, we went to the new Wal-Mart down the street and took them up on a grand opening special they were running in their portrait studio.

Unfortunately, despite a couple of good solid naps preceding the visit, Sam began to caterwaul the second we put her in front of the camera. The grumpy, minimum-wage-earning “photographer” put up a decent pretense of patience for a bit, but soon it was clear that this wasn’t going to work and soon we’d be encroaching on her next appointment’s camera time. So we said we’d walk around the store with her for a bit and come back.

So we put Sam in her car seat and put the car seat on a shopping cart and started to wind through the Cheapest Place On Earth. Let me make clear what a big deal this was by pointing out that we both hate Wal-Mart. Not for sex discrimination or putting mom-and-pop stores out of business. Mom and Pop should suck it up and look up “free market” in that old Encyclopedia Britannica they bought from that traveling salesman the year them tornados wrecked up the Hendersons’ milking barn. Ayup.

No, we hate Wal-Mart for a much more bourgeois reason: the people. Specifically, the people who knock stuff off displays and leave it on the floor, the people who put mud flaps for their truck on layaway, and the people who drag around screaming little children dressed in Budweiser tee-shirts. Yes, yes, we’re snobs. We’ve accepted that. You should, too.

The other ingredient in this recipe for misery was trying to keep Sam asleep while the booming Voice of God spoke to us over the store’s PA system. A typical moment went like this:

Jamie: Let’s go in here to the yarn section. The yarn section has to be quiet, right?


Jamie: [cowering behind a pile of yarn] What the hell was that?

Amazingly, Sam slept through all this for a solid 40 minutes and awoke in a much better mood. We took her back to the portrait studio and managed to get a number of poses out of her before she started to melt down again and cry:

We spent about $50 on a package including some nice, larger sized prints and the digital copies above. Then we got out of there, put the pissing Calvin decal on the back of our truck, and went home.

Chapter 4: The Bringing of the Cute

And now, this week’s non-Wal-Mart pictures:

You’ll notice that Sam is getting pretty good at sitting up, though she still topples over if she doesn’t have any support. We’ve been providing motivation in the form of her tower toy thingie, which she loves. Specifically, she loves to knock it over. She likes it so much that she’ll momentarily forget that she’s still largely immobile, and will lurch for it and do a spectacular face plant if you set just outside her reach. Not that I did that more than a few times.

Finally, the outdoor shots are from a park where Geralyn’s play group met this week. Like many of the parks that pepper our little corner of San Diego, it’s equipped with awesome equipment and facilities that I can’t wait for Sam to grow into. One of them (not sure if it’s the one in these pics or not) has jungle gyms shaped like little ships. I long for the day I can get Sam up in one of those and teach her how to scream “AAARRRRG!” like a pirate.

Chapter 5: The Babysitter, the Sushi, and the Six Foot Angry Clown Bong

This week we took a big step as parents: we hired a babysitter. While the idea of abandoning our child to a stranger caused us some concern, we also wanted to get the heck out of the house for a few hours and have some time to ourselves. So Geralyn hunted for a baby sitter.

Unfortunately, as I reported earlier, most of the candidates we got were 12 or 13 years old, with ads that read something like this:

Hi, I’m Mandy. I’m 13 years old and I’m a cutter. That means I use knives and letter openers to carve intricate patterns in my own flesh to ease my suffering. Because life is suffering. I am very dependable and can’t wait to meet your child!

So instead of some Goth teenage Anne Rice wannabe, we went with an 18 year old college student who came with two solid recommendations by other parents in Ger’s playgroup. Things didn’t start off too well, though, when the babysitter failed to actually show up to sit the baby. When she was 40 minutes late Geralyn called her. We both had images of the babysitter taking a huge hit off a six foot angry clown bong right before answering the phone.

We were wrong about the bong thing, fortunately. The babysitter apologized profusely and was at our house within minutes (she lives just up the street). So we showed her around, handed off Samantha (who started crying immediately), promised to be back around 8:00, and headed out the door.

We had sushi. We had wine. We went for a leisurely walk around the park. We got dessert at the sweets shop next to the park. It was great.

When we pulled back into our driveway at 7:55, though, things got scary. We noticed from the street that the house was dark. That’s okay, we thought. Maybe Sam was taking a nap or they were watching TV with the lights off. When we came inside, the downstairs was dark and silent. Okay, so maybe they’re upstairs. So we go upstairs and the upstairs is dark and silent, too.

At this point, panic started to kick in. The house was dark and empty except for the cat and he wasn’t talking. I started to shout out to the babysitter in the hopes that she’d somehow gotten stuck in a closet or couldn’t just figure out how to work the light switch. No answer. We left our baby with a stranger and now they’re both gone and we’ve got nothing but a plastic cup sticky with the remains of Ger’s ice cream desert.

Geralyn ran downstairs and grabbed the phone while I decided to check the back yard before giving in to panic entirely. Just as I was coming in from the back yard the babysitter comes in through the front door, Samantha sitting in her arms and covered in a blanket against the evening chill. The babysitter explained that Sam wouldn’t stop crying until she had taken her for a short walk around the block.

At that point I realized how scared –really, truly scared– I had been, and how grateful I was that the baby sitter had not absconded to Mexico with Sam. So we took Sam, paid the babysitter, and thanked her for her help. In retrospect taking Sam for a walk was a perfectly fine thing to do. We (and the babysitter) live in a nice neighborhood and if it calmed Sam down then I would have been all for it. So I don’t blame the babysitter for any misdeed there.

But man, still. It was frightening to come home and not find her there.

See you next week.

Sam’s Story: Week 27

Slow week. Sam has continued her way into the cornucopia of solid food, tackling sweet potatoes this week. Unfortunately I don’t think they agree with her, as last night she spontaneously covered Geralyn in orange projectile vomit. And I mean covered. Ger came running into the office holding Sam out to me at arm’s length and jibbering something about needing to do laundry again. Sam had a look on her face like “Hi, Daddy! Guess what I just did?”

Another side effect of the sweet potatoes is that Sam hasn’t pooped in almost three days. I think she’s got a hollow leg, ’cause I don’t know where else she could be keeping it. I do know, however, that when the time comes she will have such a massive, explosive bowel movement that it’ll get all over me even if I’m at work when it happens.

Speaking of feces, Geralyn and I have decided to clean up our own potty-mouths. We’re pretty good while in public or while talking to priests, but we’ve both been known to drop the occasional F-bomb. Or S-bomb. Or J-bomb. Geralyn practically carpet-bombed me the other day when the batteries in the camera died, and I did no better the day before when I couldn’t get the sound in Deus Ex 2 to work.

So to keep Sammie from turning into a little Dick Cheney, we’ve made a game out of cleaning up our language. Whenever one of us catches the other one using a naughty word within Sam’s hearing, I get a point. So if Ger drops an F-bomb on the phone when it rings during Sam’s nap, I get a point. If I curse a blue streak at the cat for trying to drink out of my water glass, Ger gets a point. So does the cat, I guess. The one with the most points at the end of the week wins.

Given that Ger and I can be competitive once we decide the game’s worth playing, this should work out nicely. It will not, however, solve the impending fight over how we teach our daughter to pronounce “caramel.” No game will resolve that conflict, and I fear that it may cast Samantha into a mental asylum where she rocks in a corner muttering “car-ah-mel, car-mel, car-ah-mel, car-mel, so sweet, so sweet, car-ah-mel, car-mel…”

For those of you playing Baby Bingo at home, Sam is rolling over fine at this point (has been for a while, actually) but she’s yet to sit up on her own. She can wobble in place for a moment if you sit her up, but eventually looses it and topples over on her back. Her new favorite position, though, is to sit in the crook of my left arm while I hold her. She then puts one hand on my shoulder and leans back a bit so she can check out the world and better aim her sweet potato projectile vomit.

And now, some pictures: