It's a Halloween blowout special this week. If there's one thing Sam is to us, its a little doll we can dress up for our own amusement. So we've been looking forward to Halloween, plus two people from Ger's playgroup were kind enough to lend us costumes this year. So I have to ask which you like better: Princess or Frog?
Personally, I like the frog myself. We have a thing about Sam and frogs. My mom also sent a great outfit with an orange Halloween shirt, black pants, and a black cat purse. She's so fricking cute it just makes you want to spit, isn't she? Unfortunately this means that we didn't pace ourselves very well and we've already used up Sam's allotment of cute for the whole year. So until January, she'll officially have to be "butt ugly."
One last note about Halloween. Below is the Jack 'O Lantern we carved this year, both unlit and lit.
It took some arguing to convince Geralyn to go with this design, but she aquiessed in the end. If you don't get the joke then you're just not hip enough with the online lingo. Go stand over there.
Besides Halloween going on this week, Sam has expanded her repertoire of finger foods, we've added new ones like peas and carrots, diced apples, bananas, and corn. Yes, corn. I asked Geralyn if she knew what she was in for when she announced her intention to introduce these golden nuggets to Sam's diet, and she said that yes she did and she intended to do it anyway. Let's just say that the subtitle for this week's update could probably be "Somebody's poopy. Look, corn!" Also, we just had a 5-minute debate over the correct way to spell "poopy" (or is it "poopie?").
Sam has also continued to become even more mobile. She's not pulling up, cruising, or walking yet, but she can crawl fast enough to get anywhere if we turn our backs for a second to get the frozen corn out of the microwave. She has also discovered her greatest passion in life to date: pulling down stacks of things off shelves. Her favorites seem to be my video game collection. This really concerns me, as Grand Theft Auto 3 isn't really appropriate for a 9-month old.
While those kinds of games are off limits until she's 7, we can't help but keep buying other stuff for her now. Yesterday we picked up a set of Curious George board books. I was kind of disappointed that Curious George's encounter with the bottle of ether wasn't included, as I have very specific memories of this drug-fueled adventure after reading it as a child. But some of the other ones were good.
And now, pictures. Grab a snack, because there's a lot of them this week.
I should note that this picture (taken by Geralyn) is one of my three or four favorite pictures of Sam to date. The look on her face is perfect. You may also note that I've also been playing around with the ArtsyPretentious filter in Photoshop.
This was interesting. It lists the ten most lucrative fictional characters. They are:
- Mickey Mouse & Friends
- Winnie the Pooh & Friends
- Frodo Baggins, The Lord of the Rings
- Harry Potter
- Nemo, Finding Nemo
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Wolverine, X-Men
- Pikachu, Pokemon
Not too surprising. Near misses include Homer Simpson, Dora the Explorer, The Power Rangers (they're still making that much money?), The Hulk, and Buzz Lightyear.
This bit about the methodology explains why characters like Barbie were left out, and why "Frodo Baggins" and "Wolverine" speak for a whole cast of caracters:
To qualify for our list of the top-earning fictional characters, a property must be both "fictional"--not based on a real person--and a "character" in the sense of having made its debut in a narrative story, be it a book, a film or even a videogame. That excluded pure toys, like Barbie and G.I. Joe.
Earnings were calculated by adding together worldwide toy/merchandise sales, videogame sales, publishing and box-office revenue, and DVD/VHS sales and rental revenue. Actual numbers were used whenever possible, but in some cases we were forced to rely on the estimates of industry insiders. Excluded were advertising and promotional revenue.
Many intellectual properties are managed as a group of characters. In other words, Mickey Mouse speaks for his whole gang--Minnie, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and Daisy Duck, and the earnings of the whole group were considered when we did our ranking. But we only allowed groups of characters when they came from the same story line.
Alas, nobody that started as a video game character. Yet. Also kind of discouraging that only one of the characters is there because of his books (not including comic book characters). Sure, Winnie the Pooh and The LotR cast got their start in books, but they made the majority of their money recently from movies, toys, etc.
My Review of Shadow Ops: Red Mercury is up at GameSpy.com today. Again with the subpar shooters. This pretty much sums it up:
Shadow Ops: Red Mercury is just a first-person shooter with all the markings of mediocrity. It's got linear levels, an unimpressive arsenal, and simplistic shooter gameplay for both the single-player and multiplayer games. On top of that, it's got no in-game saves and a rather harsh difficulty level. The cutscenes and story are decent, but it's not enough to outweigh the faults.
Read the rest of the review. Or don't. I think you get the idea and I get paid the same either way.
I normally leave politics off this blog, but this article from thestranger.com is an absolute riot. It is also terrible. But in a funny way. It's a do-it-yourself guide to this year's scariest Halloween costumes, like this one:
There are others that are a lot edgier, like "Nancy Reagan" and "The Littlest Prisoner at Abu Ghraib." I'm particularly fond of the "Bush Protester" and "Jenna Bush's Liver" ones, though. If we didn't already have costumes for Sam...
Finally catching up on photos. I've added the ones Geralyn took of Jenny Seliga's wedding out at The Farm (a bit of vacation land in rural Missouri owned by Ger's family). [Editor's Note: Removed the photos to free up some space. e-mail me if you want them.] I'll point you to them (again) in a second, but I'd like to highlight one particular picture that Ger took because it reminds me why The Farm is so frickin' awesome:
Nice. I wish I had been there.
Thirty nine weeks. This is a confetti-worthy week because it means that Sam has now spent more of her life outside of the uterus than inside of it. Despite initial reservations, she seems to prefer it now and I think she'll stay.
Sam has also seems to prefer getting into things, now. This last weekend we capped off our baby-proofing efforts with the installation of safety gates that block off the kitchen and the stairs. Sam immediately tested the boundaries, but eventually gave up and went back to picking up questionable objects and cramming them in her mouth. So I can stop worrying about her getting into the cleaning supplies under the sink, but I'm still distracted by the thought that I'll come home from work one day to find that she's somehow gotten on the roof.
In addition to things going in the mouth, though, things are also coming out. Specifically, sounds that almost seem like words. Sam has started to put together consonant and vowel sounds pretty regularly, and while it's still just babbling now, she making deliberate progress towards the day she can tell me she got her tongue pierced. In a way, it's really weird to hear these human-like sounds come out of a baby that I've only heard scream or occasionally laugh and coo. It's like if one day the cat were to look up at me and start mooing.
This morning was pretty cool, though. Sam and Ger were lying on the bed and I went in to see them. Sam looked at me and started to babble in a way that sounded enticingly like "Daddy!".
Sam: Du du du du...
Me: Are you trying to say Daddy? [Jams finger into own sternum] Daddy!
Sam: Da da du da du...
Sam: [Looking me right in the eyes and grinning] Da da dud dud ...Thrrrpbpbpbpbpbbbtt!
Me: Well, that's my online nickname. Close enough.
Here's some pictures this week:
And just wait until next week. We have like three Halloween outfits for her. Yes, there will be dressing up, despite any protest.
Okay, imagine this as a premise for a video game: You play a little ball of garbage that rolls around picking up other garbage, until you become a huge ball of garbage, at which point you turn into a star. Sounds weird? It is, it's called Katamari Damacy, and I'll be damned it it's not a LOT of fun.
I've played games where you play as a soldier, a raccoon, a robot, a vampire, a college student, a dead travel agent, a Persian prince, a Jedi, a singer, a plumber, a cyborg, a superhero, a fox, an alien, a martial artist, a wizard, a car, a tank, an assassin, an athlete, a gorilla, a secret agent, a samurai, an archaeologist, an elf, a mercenary, a pirate, a spaceship, a photographer, a gangster, a dragon, a computer program, a cat bugler, a zookeeper, a scientist, and a monkey trapped in a ball. But I've never played one where you're a sticky wad that adds things to its mass as you roll over them.
(Technically you don't play as the ball of garbage, but rather a tiny green Prince of the cosmos that runs around behind it and keeps it rolling. But like that's any less weird.)
This game is, I think, Pac-Man with modern technology. That is to say, it's got brilliantly simple gameplay (roll the ball over stuff) but it's addictive and a TON of fun. The coolest thing is probably that as you pick stuff up your ball grows and you can pick up larger stuff. So you may start a level picking up strawberries and crayons, but by the end you can be rolling over cars, bicycles, and people. I hear that in later levels you even get up to rolling over buildings, skyscrapers, amusement park rides, and sperm whales. Everything scales seamlessly, and it's just ineffably cool.
Also, the music is weird and totally awesome. If you know where I can get this music, please let me know.
But you know what the best part is? This game sells for $20. New. Twenty bucks for one of the most creative, charming, and fun games I've played in a long time. If you can find it (I was apparently lucky, since it's in short supply) buy it.
Ger: Has that been like that all day?
Ger: Your tee shirt is on inside out.
Me: Well, whatcha gonna do?
Ger: Fix it?
New this week: "finger foods"! Followed shortly by "tarp time!" We started giving Sam little bits of non-mushy food, like Cheereos and a few grains of steamed rice. Mostly she has succeeded in smashing said food up and throwing it on the floor, which is where the tarp is going to come in.
Sam has also begun to crawl extremely well, able to pretty much go wherever she likes. This forced us to buy all kinds of baby-proofing materials for the house, like swing gates, toilet latches, and electric socket plugs. Once the house was thoroughly baby-proofed, though, I felt safe in stocking up on Disney's Rat Poison and candy-flavored sewing needles.
It's actually kind of interesting how much more relaxed we've become around Sam. We put her on the ground and let her grab anything that's not an obvious choking hazard and play with it. I mean, I don't let her play with steak knives or anything, especially if they're dirty. But we're much more lenient than we were when we first brought her home and we were obsessed with washing anything that came in contact with anything else. Dropped the sippy cup on the floor? There ya go, go for it. Threw your teething ring out the window? I'll go get it, then it's all yours again. It's just got more antibodies on it now! It's good for ya! Science and stuff!
Having spent the previous weekend by myself and pretty much playing video games nonstop, I was determined to get out of the fricking house this time. So on Saturday we headed out to Balboa Park so I could see for myself that the outdoors still existed. Sam enjoyed checking out the features of nature, like flowers and water and the $3 lemonade that mommy bought at the overpriced cafe. We went to an art museum, but Sam's critique of every piece we saw pretty much amounted to "Thrrrppphbhbhbppbbtt!" She's hard to please sometimes.
Oh, and we also discovered that Sam has irrational anxiety about grass. We set her down on some at the park, and she immediately got this worried look on her face as if to say "What, what is this? It's weird. It's prickly. WHAT IS IT? OMG!" So we picked her up and left the bad bad green stuff behind.
This morning we took Sam in for her 9-month checkup. She's still a little over average length and a littler under average weight. I don't know where she got those qualities, but if she didn't look so much like me and my sister in the face I might be suspicious. Sam did get three more inoculations, though, and as usual it fell to me to pin her down while the nurse jammed needles into her thighs. Sam is a smartie, though, and she's learning to turn on the waterworks the minute her daddy lays her down on a sterile-smelling bench covered with white butcher's paper. Soon she'll start shrieking as soon as I walk into the room.
Here's some pictures from this week. Enjoy.
NOTE: Most of last week Geralyn and Sam were in St. Louis, leaving me without much to talk about for Sam's most recent update here. So Geralyn wrote something up and asked me to post it. Here it is:
This week, Sammy & I flew to St. Louis for Jenny & Dave's wedding at "The Farm." The wedding was a beautiful occasion with a spectacular setting, a huge amount of flowers, and a stunning bride. It was easy to see that so much effort and coordination went into the planning of this weekend-long event, and it appeared that everything went off perfectly, from the rehearsal on Friday, to the bonfire and fireworks that brought the event to a close on Saturday night. Even the weather cooperated, and what started as an overcast morning turned into a bright, sunny day right on time for the ceremony.
Sammy was quite the social butterfly, oohhed and aahhed over by many a family member who hadn't met her yet. We also visited with my godparents while we were there. She handled the whole week extremely well, considering she was still recovering from the cold that brought us to the emergency room the week before, and being kept up past her bedtime on more than one occasion. During this week, Sammy has also become increasingly adept at crawling. She can now move forward as well as backwards, and move from crawling to sitting with ease.
It was a fun visit, but Sammy was glad to see her Daddy at the airport when we got home. Both Sammy & Mommy missed Daddy so much! She slept well when we got home, exhausted from the trip and glad to be back in her own bed.
Here's a few pictures I took, including a whole round of "pass the baby" with my parents, Father Dave, and my godparents Joy and George.
Jamie will post pictures of Jenny & Dave's wedding in the next day or so.
I got nothin' this week. Sam and Geralyn have been in St. Louis for almost the whole week, visiting family and attending a wedding. I'd have gone, but I lack the vacation time. But in a way, spending a week by myself is like a vacation.
I'll ask Geralyn to give us a special update on Sam's antics this week, but in the meantime, here's all I've got to look at:
HIM: Isn't there's a correlation between intelligence and how socially graceful people are? So if you're really smart, you don't get along with people well?
HIM: What, you don't think that's true? Why not?
ME: It sounds too much like something stupid people would say just to make themselves feel better.
My Shellshock: Nam '67 review went live on GameSpy today. The game's a dud. I'm also currently playing Shadow Ops: Mercury Rising for review, and I'm unimpressed and annoyed so far. But I'm only a few levels in.
HER: Thanks for calling Islands! How may I help you?
ME: Yeah, I'd like to place a carry out order.
HER: What can I get you?
ME: Uh, a Big Wave Burger, medium well.
HER: Would you like cheese on that?
ME: No thanks.
HER: How about bacon?
ME: No. Just the vegies and mustard.
HER: Okay, what else can I get you?
ME: An order of chicken soft tacos.
HER: With guacamole?
HER: Sour cream?
HER: Okay, anything else?
ME: I think we're going to split an order of fries.
HER: Gotcha! Would you like them topped with cheddar cheese?
ME: ...Okay. Yes. Cheddar fries.
HER: Got it! How about chilli, too?
ME: Good God, no! No, that's all.
HER: Okay, it'll be ready in 15-20 minutes.
ME: I'll waddle right over.
This week's story is subtitled "Sam's Craptastic Trip to the Emergency Room."
Sometime Friday afternoon Sam started to run a fever. It was mild and Ger's call to the pediatrician only yielded advice to keep an eye on it and give her Tylenol. So we did, but by early Saturday afternoon the fever was getting alarmingly hot. Holding Sam felt like holding a hot water bottle. The kind that cries a lot and spits its oatmeal back at you when you try to feed it.
Despite the Tylenol, the fever got over 100°, then over 102°, and when it topped 104° we packed it in and headed for the Urgent Care facility. When we got there, they told us that "Wow, 104 is high" and that we should go to the E.R. forthwith. So we did.
When we got there and checked in, the receptionist told us to strip Sam down to the diaper and wait for someone to admit her to triage so they could check things out. So we stripped Sam down and sat in the crowded waiting room, feeling like total rednecks for carrying our ill-tempered baby out in public wearing nothing but a diaper.
When the doctor admitted us to triage, it was the unfortunate beginning of things being stuffed into places where things aren't normally stuffed. But on the plus side, according to the doctor who administered it, up the butt is "easily the best way" to take Tylenol. So we had been doing it wrong all along, but based on Sam's reaction to the application of his advice, I think she prefers "the second best way" by a country mile.
Sadly, that wasn't the end to the invasive cramming of things into Sam's privates. There were also two rectal thermometers, though fortunately both weren't used at the same time and each was taken out after a few seconds. But ten times worse than that was when they tried to tap Sam like a keg to get a urine sample. This involved, if you must know, a catheter. Again, I learned something new: my daughter has a difficult-to-navigate urethra. I know this because they tried the procedure three times, and by the third time Geralyn and I were holding Sam's arms and legs down while two nurses tried to do the procedure, one apparently just there to say things like "There, see it? No, not there. There. There. No, down. There."
Sam, of course, was screaming bloody blue murder the whole time, as I'm sure you or I would have been. After a couple of agonizing minutes Geralyn finally threw in the towel, shouting "Okay, STOP! STOP, STOP!" because none of the Madigans could take it any more. The catheter tapping was not to be.
Yet they still needed urine to determine the cause of the fever, which had at least gone down by this point thanks to "the best way" of administering Tylenol. So Plan B was enacted. Plan B was brilliant in its simplicity, if a bit gross. It involved taping a plastic sack over Sam's hoo-ha and waiting for her to pee into it. The nurses gave us a diaper with a hole cut in the crotch so we could thread the plastic sack through it and have it dangle between Sam's legs like the world's most vulgar fashion accessory.
Normally, getting Sam to pee is far from hard. That's like one of her core competencies. In fact, there are often times when I can't stop her from doing it, like when I carry her from the changing table to the bathtub. But sure enough, a watched pot never boils and a watched baby never micturates. We walked around the E.R. waiting room for an hour and a half feeding her Pedialyte (basically baby Gatoraide) and trying to convince her to let it all out so the nice nurses could have their specimen. Not only would she just not go, but she became fascinated by her pee sack and insisted on grabbing at it.
But wait, it gets worse. While we were waiting for Sam to pee on demand, the doctors wanted us to do the second of the two procedures needed to determine the cause of her illness: an X-Ray. So we took Sam and her pee sack into the CHAMBER OF X-RAY HORRORS. While there we --and by "we" I mean I, because these things always seem to fall to me-- had to don a lead apron and hog tie my shrieking Sam to a table using little velcro straps that pinned her tiny arms up above her head. I then had to force down her flailing legs while the X-Ray tech lowered this massive, horrifying device from above, lining it up so that it could BLAST ENOUGH RADIATION THROUGH MY BABY DAUGHTER TO BURN AN IMAGE OF HER INNARDS ONTO THE FILM BENEATH HER.
Throughout all of this, Sam was screaming and sputtering, alternately terrified, angry, and hysterical. The whole time she stared me directly in the eyes, wearing a pleading expression as if to say "Help me! That's your job! Why aren't you helping me? You're my daddy!" And I just had to stand there and look at her, scared out of her mind and made helpless by the straps pinning her arms to the table and her own father's hands restraining her legs. For a split second, I had an absurd image of her as James Bond, tethered to the cold, sterile table while the villain's death ray slowly descended from above. Only James Bond didn't typically shriek hysterically until snot streamed out his nose.
In a few seconds it was over, though, and I was clawing at the straps to release Sam's arms. Geralyn was there in the next instant, holding Sam against her cheek and soothing away her tears. About that time I looked at the plastic bag protruding from Sam's diaper and noticed that something good had come out of this after all.
The ordeal had literally scared the piss out of her.
Actually, that wasn't the only good thing. It was, in fact, the X-Ray that told the doctor what's wrong. Apparently Sam has a small infection in one of her lung. Not pneumonia or anything that scary, just a small bug against which the doctor armed us with antibiotics that we could thankfully administer the "second best way."
So, Sam's doing better. Her fever is still there, but it's nowhere near as high. She's cranky, but on the plus side she's sleeping a lot and we raised her daily juice limit to infinity ounces so we can keep her hydrated. She should be over this in a few days, a week at most. Still, this whole thing sucked more than I can tell you and I hope Sam ultimately takes after her dad, who barely ever got sick as a child.
To top it off, here's this week's pictures of a non-feverish Samantha: