Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Benjamin's First Tooth!

These past few weeks, Benjamin has shoved anything within his grasp into his mouth. His selection of teething items seems arbitrary - toys, designer handbags, handrails in public elevators, and even a stranger's shirt sleeve haven't been safe from his gums. He's especially fond of chewing on my fingers. At his four-month checkup, the pediatrician assured me he wasn't teething, but my mother had a different opinion. "He's definitely teething," she proclaimed. "Doctors think they know everything even when they don't have kids of their own, and don't they realize that mothers - not doctors - know best, and..." I tuned the rest out.

So we were at my inlaws' a week ago today when Benjamin started fussing. My knee jerk reaction was to plug his mouth with my finger when-- Holy Moly, what the $#%@ was that?! I felt something sharp sink into my knuckle. A tooth! I tell ya, I've never been so happy to be bitten. Well, I have, but I can't talk about that, because this is a family-oriented blog, hear?

I tried to take a picture of Benjamin's first teeth for you, but everytime I got close to his mouth with the camera, he tried to eat it.

After the appearance of those two tooth nubbins (on the bottom in the center, in case you're wondering), we bought Benjamin some special teething rings. Of course, he didn't enjoy chewing on those as much as he enjoyed chewing on other, non-teething items, so they were added to a growing list I'll refer to as the "Things We Bought for Benjamin Which Benjamin Isn't Interested In" List. Other items on the list include a mobile, stuffed animals, a fancy bassinet, and his crib.

Speaking of which, Vince and I are determined that the crib won't remain on the T.W.B.F.B.W.B.I.I.I. List. On the urging of Benjamin's pediatrician, we're going to attempt to sleep train him. Don't get me wrong - I have enjoyed every moment snuggling up with my beautiful baby. I do realize, however, that if we don't make the switch now, we may not be able to until Benjamin is ready to, which could be years down the road. As such, I've been educating myself on the different sleep-training methods out there and have found that they run the gamut. Some experts insist that letting a baby cry is tantamount to child abuse and will result in the creation of a future serial killer. On the other end of the spectrum are the experts who believe that kids are hardy creatures, and letting them cry to the point of vomiting is perfectly acceptable. Vince and I were hoping to find a happy middle road.

So I was sitting at our dining room table performing my due diligence when Benjamin reached for my stack of sleep-training books. I figured he was just searching for something on which to soothe his sore gums, but then he began to rummage through the pile. First he chucked the most moderate of the three books. Next, he separated the remaining two books, both of which espouse a more rigid approach to sleep-training. One of the books in particular goes so far as to say that childhood sleep problems are linked to psychiatric issues later in life. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled to have yet another thing to obsess over as a new mom. Well, wouldn't you know, Benjamin chose that book as his chew toy! I watched in shock as he attempted to eat it like corn on the cob.

After a minute, he decided that the book wasn't to his liking either, and it was summarily discarded. I guess that maybe his choice of teethers isn't as arbitrary as I had thought!

Monday, July 28, 2008

My New Gig

I realized after I wrote the last post that I'd neglected to mention why I decided to quit my old job. As is often the case, I left because an incredible new job opportunity presented itself. This one involved working from home. Yup, this former art student - turned - dilettante rockstar - turned corporate rat has decided to be a full-time mommy. And you know what? It's awesome. I feel like I've found my true calling.

As with any job, there are aspects of this one that are more tedious than others, chief among them mopping floors, scrubbing toilets, and going through weeks of old mail. Strangely enough, I actually consider doing laundry, shopping for groceries, cleaning the house, and washing dishes to be fairly enjoyable. I'll say it again: I've found my true calling. Anyway, in the process of cleaning the house, I organized our main floor into a liveable space. Instead of mass chaos induced by a fungus-like growth of baby accoutrements, our living area is now divided into separate areas for Grownups and Baby. We did have to sacrifice our formal dining room to make a playroom for Benjamin, but let's face it - as new parents we weren't going to be doing any formal dining in the next decade anyway.

Another great perk of the new gig is that I have more free time to meet up with friends. Above are a few snaps taken from various outings with friends both big and small - a trip to my old office to see Yvonne, Kyong, and Nancy, a playdate with Lucy and Liam of Benjamin's Gymboree class, a morning playing beach volleyball with Uncle Mikey (notice Dad looking triumphant in the background), and a brunch date with my old college bud Camilla.

Of course, we've had more time to see family, too. We spent several days hanging out with various members of the Chan family who were visiting LA. Below are pics from a dinner at Vince's parents' place - Benjamin with second cousin Jet; cousin Tyler; Benjamin, Jet, cousin Ryan, and Jet's sister Hana; and Benjamin with his Grand-Aunt Viola. Benjamin was especially taken by Aunt Viola who is so good with kids I think she should have her own baby whispering TV show.
We did also get a chance to see much of my own family when we flew to Atlanta for my brother's wedding, but I'll tell you all about that in a separate post. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The End of an Era

A week ago Tuesday I worked my last day at my old company. Why has it taken me so long to finally mention this in my blog? Well, I spent the last week trying to come up with a post clever, heartfelt, and meaningful enough to do my time there justice, and I've been drawing a blank. Perhaps it's because I know that even though I won't be showing up to work with them anymore, many of the people I've met there will continue to be a part of my life. We'll continue to call each other with our good news and bad, to send each other pictures of our little ones as they grow, to meet for knitting sessions, and to get together to celebrate the big and little milestones in our lives. After all, that's what family does, right?

Thank you all for a great couple of years. I'm really going to miss you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Baby Idol Part 2

Not to be outdone by the previous night's performance, Vince decided to do a duet of his own with Benjamin.

video

Just in case Oliver and I missed it the first time around, they returned for an encore performance.

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And Vince says that my singing bothers him?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baby Idol

Benjamin has always been a very vocal baby. He announced his arrival into the world with ear-piercing wails, he's perfected a cry we now lovingly refer to as "the car alarm," and he is quite fond of proclaiming both pleasure and displeasure with yelps, shrieks, giggles, and chirps. Still, nothing prepared me for his latest vocal milestone - singing a duet with Mommy.

And in case you're wondering, yes I do realize I got some of the lyrics wrong. But who's listening to me when there's a burgeoning American Idol in our midst?

video

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Necessity is the Mother of Mohawks

Ever since his birth, people would watch me lovingly stroking Benjamin's full head of hair and caution, "You know it's all going to fall out, right? Babies always lose the hair they were born with." But the months went by, and his hair just kept growing longer and longer. Last week, I was admiring my beautiful son in profile when I noted that we almost had the same bob hairstyle. At that moment I decided it was time for a haircut.

Vince and I decided that Benjamin's first haircut should be a mohawk. Now before you start shaking your heads and thinking we're wacky L.A. parents, you should know that Benjamin's 'do was pretty much headed into mohawk territory anyway. Let me explain... Benjamin had developed this awful habit of grabbing his hair when he got really upset. And since he's a baby with a baby's big head, his little fists would naturally land at the spots just above each ear on either side of his head. After weeks of grabbing and yanking, he'd inadvertently created two bald spots. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. Or mohawks.

We brought Benjamin to First Cuts, an adorable kids' salon in Santa Monica where stylist Margan was more than happy to clip her client into a tiny punk rocker. As she snipped away, Vince fretted that he didn't want the sides of Benjamin's head shaved all the way down. Was he worried that the he wouldn't fit in with the kids at school? Who knows. In any case, Margan simply buzzed the sides of Benjamin's head into a "fauxhawk." But as we headed home, the complaining started. "You can still see his bald spots! Why can you still see the bald spots??" Uh, maybe because the sides were left buzzed as you had requested?

After an afternoon of listening to Vince fretting over the still-visible bald spots, I got fed up and told him that I would shave the sides of his head. Vince seemed to find this solution agreeable, so I went to Target, purchased the cheapest clippers I could find, slapped on the 1/16" fuzzing guard, and went to town. Five minutes later, we were done. As I admired my handiwork, Vince came over to offer his critique. He gave Benjamin a once-over, started pouting, and then cried, "But now he has a mohawk!" Say what? Mars and Venus, indeed.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Then and Now

My (not so) little brother Leon and his fiancee Claire were in town for the long weekend, and I couldn't help but reflect on how much things had changed since the previous July 4th. This time last year, my brother was not yet affianced, Vince and I were in the process of moving into our new home, Oliver was a blissful only child, and I was about 7 weeks pregnant. Now Oliver is sharing the spotlight with pudgy usurper Benjamin, and I'm about to gain a sister-in-law. It's amazing how much can change in one short year.

The weekend was marked by food, food, and more food. On July 4th, we enjoyed a feast of BBQed steak, corn on the cob, salad, fruit, cake, and more cake at Vince's parents' home. A few days later after we finished digesting that meal, we celebrated my mom's birthday with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

The weekend was also marred- I mean, marked- by Rock Band. Having discovered that women with new babies don't have much free time to play the game with him, Vince was very happy to find that Claire and Leon were willing participants. As I watched them eagerly banging away at the songs, I was forced to reflect once again on how much things had changed in my life. A few years ago, I was a part of rock band of a different sort. Instead of playing in the living room, we played at The Viper Room...

I had an experienced drummer instead of a newbie who needed some hand-holding...

My guitarist Elias impressed the fans with his shredding mojo and Van Halen-esque solos, but I'll admit it's pretty sweet that I get to make out with the guitarist of my current band...

As I journeyed down memory lane, I started to get a little nostalgic for the crazy days of yore with my old band. But then I caught a glimpse of my current drummer and guitarist taking a break, and I realized that I wouldn't trade that band for this one. Not for any amount of fame, riches, or glory.