Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The genesis of Pip

Baby nickname update: Carolyn's mom settled on the name Pip for her as yet ungendered grandbaby, and it has caught on. Fathead still holds sway for some of the family, however.

My full-time (plus) job is now baby preparation, which means the house is now an utter wreck but on the way to being the best organized it has ever been. I am happy to report that the ceiling of the nursery is now painted, with the rest of the room scheduled to get its new coat on Thursday with the help of Carolyn's parents. Hang on just a little while longer, little Pip!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Do you have NEWS?

We have a bassinet now. (That's a thing babies sleep in for the first three months or so if you want them in the main bedroom but not in the main bed.) Giddy loves it. This could be interesting.

I've heard that expectant parents reach a point where people start calling to see whether the baby has come yet. We're not there yet, thank goodness, but we have reached the point where almost everyone I call immediately says, "Do you have NEWS?" We had a great Christmas with Carolyn's sister and parents. I am endlessly grateful that I have such cool in-laws, and that they have welcomed me so generously into their family. Baby was kicking madly during the opening of presents. I suspect baby was intrigued by all the talking and laughing.

On the downside, the impending baby means that we can't do our usual eastern driving marathon this year, so I won't see my own family this holiday season--that's a first. It's been good to talk to them on the phone, however, and especially good to have a few conversations with my brother, the very happy new dad.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Crying uncle

Wooo! I'm an uncle! Charles Blake Simpson, to go by "Blake," was born this morning to my brother and his wife. All went well. May his little cousin arrive as smoothly.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


The baby had hiccups (or hiccoughs, if you're old school) for the first time a few nights ago--steady little movements, in rhythm, for about five minutes, then the usual unpredictable squirming again. My mom was happy to hear it; she says I had hiccups a lot before I was born.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Boys and girls in the family

My cousin's third child was born yesterday: a boy, Lars David Simpson (revised from the planned Lars Erik Simpson--a step down, I have to say). Starting with my dad's father, that gives the family a generation of two boys, then a generation (mine) of four boys and a girl, and a new generation of eight boys and a girl, counting my brother's impending son. Total: 14 boys, two girls. Huh.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Baby stuff and strangers' smiles

After some more serious shopping trips, some very kind gifts, and the arrival of the one new piece of furniture we've ordered (a glider for nursing), we are getting a lot closer to being ready for the baby's arrival with regard to stuff. The world of baby stuff is weird and fascinating and sometimes overwhelming: unsurprisingly, I guess, companies realize that new parents are a) clueless shoppers and b) anxious and therefore looking to control what they can (you can't control your baby's heart rate, but you can get it a highly recommended car seat!). The combination results in exposure to intense directed marketing campaigns selling stuff we had no idea existed.

All is well with little [fathead], however. In the latter stages of pregnancy, there's not as much to report: the baby is now (in theory) a viable little creature spending its time fattening itself up for birth; broadly speaking, height comes before weight in the process. Carolyn is growing more obviously pregnant, so strangers have started asking when she's due, and when we were in Perry, IA over the weekend I noticed a middle-aged woman break into a huge smile as we walked by. I couldn't figure out why at first, and then I remembered our new mother friend Emily talking about those unprompted smiles in the third trimester--and how she got used to them, so now walking around in public without the baby, she finds the plain old looks of strangers disappointing. Maybe the lesson is that we should all try, in unthreatening well-lighted places, to smile crazily at strangers once in a while.

Friday, October 15, 2004


[Fathead] can now see light from the outside world.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


from Carolyn--

Suggestion from online friend: "Fathead" could be pronounced "fa-THEED"--as if the syllable break came after the first two letters rather than the first three.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Baby sites

[someone], you're right that baby websites tend to be irredeemably cheesy. I also anticipate being too tired to do much by way of site creation at first. Therefore, I am teaching the baby some basic HTML by tapping on Carolyn's abdomen using a kind of adapted Morse code. I'm hoping the baby will put together a high-quality site for him/herself, but you never know about kids these days.

Monday, August 23, 2004


We have kicking! I've felt a little kick!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Baby pictures!

We have baby pictures! Perhaps you would like to see the baby's foot? Or even the baby's whole darn baby! Though we haven't felt any movement yet, movement there is; that baby is squirming and rolling and kicking! And looking a lot like a little person now. A little skeletal person with a big alien head. But still. Baby!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Avocado lessons

[someone] longs for more comparisons of protobaby to avocados. I agree that comparing the toddler's reading speed to an avocado's could inflate its ego needlessly, but I can see other uses for the comparison, as in

Little Fathead Simpson walks through the Clive SuperTarget, coveting some awful toy or another, approaching the verge of a tantrum. Erik: "Ah, Fathead, take after avocado, your vegetable sibling, who offers up polyunsaturated 'good fats' even to the vegans among us without complaint, hoping only that we enjoy its offerings."

LFS doesn't want to share a Tinky-Winky doll with a playmate. Carolyn: "Remember the guacamole, Fathead! Recall the avocado's willingness to sacrifice its own taste to the spicy goodness around it, finding content in the contribution of its creamy texture to the whole."

Monday, August 09, 2004

Fetal sucking and triplet dynamics

We read that our protobaby is now old enough to suck its thumb. We hear that some babies are born with skin blisters from all the in utero sucking they do. Wild. And did you know that the personalities of twins and triplets are evident well before birth? In general, two of three triplets will bond and exclude the third, and that social dynamic will carry through the first year after birth.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Saxophonic names in the feminine

[someone] provides a useful set of girls' names based on the saxy boys' list:


Outstanding, say I . Boni! Ha! Is that also the plural of Bono?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Saxophonic names

[someone], checking in by email, sent me a long list of saxophone players' names as baby possibilities. Here are some of the best. Music fans, how many last names do you know?


And sure, all of these are men's names, but some of them could work for girls, too, right? Does "Fathead" have to be a boy? I don't think so!

Friday, July 30, 2004


This morning:

Carolyn: Guess what's in my belly?
Erik: What?
Carolyn: Another belly!


Erik: Like haggis!

(Exit horrified Carolyn)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Census names

[someone] has called my attention to the Social Security Administration's baby names site. It's fascinating. (I had seen some of these results in summary, but the full data is much better.) Sample facts:

* Emily is the Lance Armstrong of girls' names. It was 12th most popular in 1990, moves steadily up to #1 in 1996, and has now been most popular for eight straight years.

* After following a similar arc, Jacob has been #1 among boys for five years.

* Erik has been dropping steadily from 97th in 1990 to 159th in 2003.

* [someone] hinted at the surprising (to me) fact that Madison has been a top-3 name for four years for girls. And get this: so popular is Madison that even if you add an extra "d" in the middle and create Maddison, you have still chosen a name that is more popular than Susan!

* As you might guess from the previous fact, Susan has plummeted in recent years. It is tied with Ximena in 2003. That's right. Susan and Ximena were equally common.

* Check out the old names starting in the 1880s. The boys' names are unbelievably stable. And Emily has a long way to go to match Mary's old-time dominace: Mary was most popular every year, usually by a lot, from 1880 to 1947, when Linda topped the list.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Bird names

from Carolyn--

Wow! There are a lot of people on plans. And thanks to so many of you for your good wishes. I'm looking forward to the day when Erik turns to all of you to help us choose toilet training methods by means of a plans poll. I can report that so far (almost 4 months along) pregnancy has not been as bad as I had feared. I have had only minimal food aversions, for instance. Turns out I can't eat cottage cheese any more. I'm facing this loss bravely.

My first ideas when Erik told me of [someone]'s suggestion of bird names were "Buzzard" and "Great Auk". Erik seemed less enthusiastic than I.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

The naming commences

Thanks to a truly overwhelming number of people for the good wishes in response to our Planned pregnancy! I'm really touched.

In case you're wondering, according to the week-by-week updates I get from BabyCenter.com, the baby is now the size of an avocado. It no longer has webbed feet or a tail (note that this describes only the average baby, so we can still hope for those features on ours), and the eyeballs have moved from the side of the head to the properly predatory front.

Many of the comments have already suggested this turn to the conversation: let's have the (non-binding, I hasten to say)

Name Our Baby PlanPoll!

Opening notes:

Literature: [someone] has already moved in the literary direction ("Lord Byron Simpson got beat up in school again today"); [someone] thinks of minstrel names (Thomas the Rhymer, perhaps?); [someone] also suggests Freddy Malins and [someone] Gabe or Gabby in honor of our Joycean expectation.

Hardy Boys: [someone] likes Biff, boy or girl; [someone] cleverly reduces the my two possibilities to Olive-Skinned Ton$; [someone] offers brilliant comments on the implications of the Hardy names for the child's life--[someone], when I approached the end of each chapter, I had to physically cover the last few sentences to keep myself from skipping to the cliff-hanging excitement. And I have long shared your sense that the title of #4 is the best of all.

Other: [someone] offers Interrobang (or, I add, the interrobang symbol itself?); [someone] muses on the possibilities of Carolik and Erikolyn.

We have also considered "[backspace], Jr." as a middle name, so the child would be listed as, say,

Simpson, Interrobang, Jr.

And then could have a child named

Simpson, Interrobang, Jr., Jr.

Who could have a child named

Simpson, Interrobang, Jr., III.


Friday, July 23, 2004

Pregnancy announcement

I interrupt the regular operation of this plan to bring you this Major Life Announcement (TM):

God willing, knock on wood, [insert caveats and good-luck charms from any tradition you like here],

Carolyn and I are having a baby! Yoikes!

OK, mostly Carolyn. And not right this minute--round about January sixth, we're told. (Epiphany, that is, a.k.a. the twelfth day of Christmas, a.k.a. the day on which "The Dead" takes place. That would be cool.)

That's right, folks, there's a bun in the oven! A duckling in the roaster! A rat in the dumpster--except good!

And my brother and his wife have a due date of December 24th, so my parents are facing the prospect of jumping from zero to two grandkids in a blink of the proverbial eye.

We've been advised not to discuss names with anyone, including our parents, but because you on Plans are our extra-special friends, I'll let you in on the fact that, regardless of the sex of the baby (we're not planning to find out--until the birth, I mean), we hope to name this and any subsequent children after minor characters from the Hardy Boys. Biff. Chet. Olive-skinned Tony (or Toni, perhaps).

I'm especially looking forward to having a baby because I figure my life will be a lot easier. I figure that after a few weeks of getting used to the outside world, the wee one will be able to help with low-lying housework: cleaning the floors, taking care of the cats, and so forth. Once those little fingers can make their way around a keyboard, I've got myself a new typist/editor! Score. Things are going to be nice and easy from here on out. Just you watch.