The official website of Noelle Richman, the baby formerly known as Tuffy

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Democrat in the Making

In her second week--which seems ages ago--Noe developed a problem with clogged tear ducts. Her eyes would constantly goo up with a yellowish mucus. Noe didn't much care, but it worried her parents, who thought we'd somehow failed to protect our daughter from infection in her first days of life.

Fortunately, I know a good ophthalmologist. He assured us the condition was quite common in babies and prescribed some antibiotic eye drops to unclog the ducts. It worked.

But the problem returned this week, most likely, I suspect, because we stopped using the drops too soon. So I've been putting the drops in again four times a day.

Now I know from personal experience that Tobramycin drops sting. It's not the cool, refreshing feeling you get from Visine. It's more akin, I suspect, to decanting a nice white wine vinaigrette into your eye.

Which brings me to my problem. I don't want to be the bad guy. Everytime someone is standing over Noe instigating this unpleasant experience, that someone is me. It's my face she associates with pain and sting. It's me that makes her wince or scream.

That sucks. And I'm sure when she's three or four years old and goes through her "I hate you!" stage, I'll think back to the eye drops.

But all is not lost! As it happens, I hit on a brilliant solution this morning while walking Ooja in Hickory Hill Park. From now on, whenever I need to put the drops in her eyes, I'll just wear my George W. Bush mask. It won't be daddy inflicting discomfort any longer. Nope, W will be the man responsible for my daughter's displeasure.

In fact, I've decided that there's really no reason to limit this strategy to eye drops. All unpleasant aspects of parenthood will henceforth be carried out by W. When Noe gets her first shots next month at the pediatrician, do you think daddy will be standing there in the room with her? Hell, no! When she makes the transition from months of delicious breast milk to strained peas, will daddy be the one with the spoon in his hand? Nope.

Early bedtime? Bad-tasting medicine? Rectal thermometer? W. W. W.

It may be daddy who takes her to the playground or to the Iowa Children's Museum in a year or two, but you can bet it ain't gonna be daddy that will be there when it's time to leave.

So for the first time since the 2000 presidential election--actually, for the first time ever--let me just say, "Thank you, George Bush. Thank you for helping me raise my daughter to love her daddy."

And if Noe happens to vote for a Dem in November 2024, well, all the better.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Latest Report from Central Command

Iowa City, Tuffy CENCOM, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 11:41 am CDT

Operation Stinky Butt commenced at 17:29 Zulu with a loud shock-and-awe rip on the living room sofa during an unscheduled binky reinsertion. Target was immediately transported via MATS (Maternal Arms Transport System) to nursery and secured on changing pad.

Removal of outer garment and PPS (Poop Protection System) followed at approximately 17:31. Shortly after PPS removal, an MBE (Major Booty Explosion) ensued resulting in TBR (Toxic Booty Residue) dispersion.

New PPS was temporarily placed in service pending completion of MBE, which lasted until approximately 17:35. Target clean-up was completed, a second replacement PPS was attached and target is now resting comfortably. Walls, floors and furniture were evaluated for TBR contamination. Result: negative.

PCG (Primary Caregiver, aka Mom) was treated in the field with paper towels before being transported to bathroom for CCS (Comprehensive Clean-up and Sanitization).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Dog Psychology 101 (or, "Hello, Matisse. How Are We Doing Today?")

Jen's mom left yesterday afternoon after 2 1/2 weeks of diaper changing, cooking, laundering, playing fetch with Ooja, helping us figure out what to do and, most importantly, holding Noe for hours every day. We are incredibly grateful for her help. It's difficult for me to imagine those first days on our own.

Dori was actually a bit choked up when she left and made a quick exit without actually saying goodbye to Ooja, who was in the backyard.

So when Ooja didn't eat her dinner last night--in 5 years, I can't recall a single instance of Ooja leaving a bowl of kibble uneaten--I assumed it was because she was mad at grandma for not giving her a proper belly rub before departing.

But I think Jen hit upon the real reason. Ooja wasn't upset about Dori leaving. She was upset that Dori forgot to take Noe with her.

Since their arrival was more-or-less simultaneous a couple of weeks ago, I suspect Ooja had always assumed that eventually things would return to their normal, familiar, comfortable state: just the 3 of us with no grandma and no baby. Obviously, that ain't the case.

Dogs--at least our dog--seem to thrive on consistency. Ooja eats the same food every day. She gravitates toward the same spots in the house--behind the ficus, next to the bed, in the big, brown chair--over and over. She likes her daily walks. She expects Jen to be on the sofa eating a bowl of cereal when we return from our morning walk, and she instinctively runs straight there as soon as we come through the door. So change doesn't come easy.

I don't know whether Ooja didn't eat because she was experiencing gastric distress at learning that Noe is here to stay or because she was staging a hunger strike to protest this new reality. (As with Saddam, it's difficult to imagine the hunger strike lasting too long or producing any visible effects.)

But Ooja will adjust. Dogs are like some people, I think. They don't always like change, but they learn to deal with it. And in a couple of months, the new routine will seem just that--a routine--and the old one will be forgotten. And until then, we'll just have to continue making sure that Noe doesn't get all of our attention.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Twosome Again, Albeit Briefly

Jen and I had two nights out this week. Thursday night we went to Hancher to see a recently-restored version of the original 1925 silent Phantom of the Opera accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra. Fantastic. I thought I'd be asleep 30 seconds after the lights went down, but even two weeks of sleep deprivation couldn't keep us from enjoying it.

And tonight we went out to Atlas for dinner. Jen was mightily excited to be able to eat the seared tuna crisps. Nine months without wine and rare fish. I'm pretty certain she's the only one in the Tucker/Burnell families who would consider that a hardship.

Noe also made her first trip to the farmers' market this morning where we ran into the Gilchrist clan. Noe's playmate-to-be, Ada, has grown quite a bit. Jen was amazed how different she looks from just a few weeks ago at Kerry Egan's send-off. But of course, Ada's 50% older now than she was then.

Two photos from today.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Happy Birthday!!

Noe is two weeks old today. It's incredible how fast it goes; the days are all blurred together. It's also quite astonishing how different she looks from those first photos (or from the immediate aftermath of her birth when she was all funny-shaped and covered in goo).

She had her first office visit with the pediatrician yesterday. She's up to 7 lbs., 13 oz. and 21 in. And since we all know I'm a numbers junkie, she's in the 75th percentile for height (length), 30th for weight and 50th for head size. Which I've decided to take as an ironclad guarantee that she'll be tall, slender and not end up looking like this guy.

Noe's Furry Sister Goes Swimming

The pool in Iowa City's City Park closes for the year on Labor Day. And each year, on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Labor Day, the city opens the pool up to the local canines for the annual "Iowa City Dog Paddle."

Literally hundreds of dogs swim, jump, dive and play in the water while owners wade in with them or try to coax their nervous pets down ramps into the water. (I still haven't seen a dog go off the high dive, but I haven't given up yet.) I often wonder whether these events are designed more for the dogs or for the people.

I didn't get to go this year, but Jen took Ooja while I prepped for my Tuesday night class and Dori stayed home watching Noe. As Jen observed, it's funny when a dog poops in the pool. All the owners standing knee- or chest-deep in the water clear out of the immediate area until some new people who weren't there to witness the event wade into the area.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Posse Arrives

Pictures of Noe from her big weekend meeting the family. Noe with cousins Katie, Zack and Henry. Noe with Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Gary (aka Bon-Bon and GG). Noe taking a snooze with Dad.