We've Been Approved!

By our medical insurance, I mean, for Stephen's DOC band. How much of the service they intend to pay for remains to be seen, but I doubt they will cover more than half of the expense. It doesn't so much matter, since we've got to pay for the thing up front and out of pocket, and then send our insurance company a bill for their portion.

The appointment is next Wednesday. They intend to take snapshots of the boy's head bone, and then they'll be making a plaster cast of it so that they can make a precise helmet to correct his flat little head. Two weeks after the casting date, we'll be the proud owners of a DOC band.

Just in time for Halloween. Still, if things go as planned, the kid should have it off before Christmas.

I'm headed to bed now. I'll add more as it comes up.

New Pictures

Forgive the brevity of this post. It's going to be a lot of photographs of the boy, and not much news. I'll try to get some news in this afternoon. Not that much has been happening lately, but I can at least bore you with trivia.

Now...the photos...

At the risk of getting cited for naughty child pictures, here's one of Stephen going commando just after a shower. Happy as can be.

The boy and I. I'm not real fond of this picture of me (I look all kinds of fat), but he's cute (which makes me look even uglier).

Halloween is coming! The boy, his mother, and I took a trip to Target recently to look at their Halloween accessories. I showed the boy a plastic axe, and he fell in love with it (as you can see). We didn't buy it, but I'm sure the experience has irrevocably warped him in some way nonetheless.

After a hard day of laughing, playing, crying, eating, and pooping, Stephen likes nothing more than to konk out completely.

That's all for now. More later, I'm sure..!


Photographic Evidence

Yes, here it is...proof that the boy sleeps on his side...

I so wanted to take this picture last night, but he was being restless. This morning, he's sleeping like a stone. Zzzzz...


New Photos of the Sprog

Today marks the end of Stephen's sixth month out of the womb. He's grown up quite a bit, even though he still fusses and whines and makes a ruckus about this or that or the other thing. I hope we're not spoiling him.

So...let's see. Recent pictures of my boy...

This would be a photo from last Sunday, which would've been the 19th. Stephen is all geared up and in his car seat, ready to go to grandma's house. I've got a base for this particular seat in my car, right next to the driver's seat.

When he rides in his mother's car, Stephen is stuck in the back seat (she's got a passenger-side air bag that prohibits us from putting him up front). He really likes to watch me drive. I guess it's more interesting than looking at my wife's rear window.

Tummy time! Given the rhomboid shape of his noggin, we are forcing the child to spend as much time on his belly as possible. Shortly after taking him to the cranium clinic, he started sleeping on his side. We had nothing to do with it, he just decided that it was comfortable.

Tummy time (redux)! This picture makes him look somewhat pensive, don't you think? He can't crawl...yet. We fear the day that he figures that particular feat out. He can wiggle and "inch" along like a little pale worm, grunting the whole time.

Of course, Halloween is next month. That's his mother's favorite holiday. We have more Halloween decorations than we have Christmas decorations. I plan to do an entire entry on them once she's got them out. The general rule is that we put them out only after October 1st, but she's been wanting to put them out since it started feeling like fall again.

This isn't a picture of the baby, but it is a picture of our newest Halloween decoration. Stephen and I picked it up at Chez Target, while we were shopping for formula and other kinds of baby food. I'd never seen a Halloween nutcracker before, and it's just tacky enough that I figured my wife would love it.


Bloody Noses

I hate them.

I'm having one right this second, in fact. There's an unsightly wad of paper towel stuffed into my right nostril to staunch the flow of blood.

I've had at least one bloody nose every day since Monday. Sometimes, they're spontaneous. Sometimes, they result from me rubbing my nose in just the right way. Of course, I only pick my nose at my own risk.

It's the weather, you see. At least that's what I tell myself. The weather has changed a little in the past week or two, becoming cooler and drier (if my chapped lips are any indication). When this happens, I'll have a run of bloody noses until I manage to get used to it.

I suppose it could be stress-related, too, but I'm not sure how medically sound that hypothesis is.

Eh, well. I have this fear that if I shower with a nosebleed, I'll just end up bleeding out, and my wife will find my pale, lifeless corpse in the shower long after the hot water has run out...

Speaking of showers...gotta take one. I have much work to do at Ye Olde Toothe Factory.


Baptism of Vomit

Let me explain the title.

Stephen, after an evening of extreme fussiness and troubled sleep, became violently ill at around 11pm last night. Ever the optimist, I figured he was just being fussy. I picked him up out of his crib and rocked him slowly, trying to comfort him. My fatherly love was rewarded with a gush of partially-digested formula mixed with liberal amounts of a Biter Biscuit.

I brought him out into the living room, saying something to the effect of, "Honey, the baby is throwing up..." when the next big gush came. There was no sound from the boy, other than the rush of liquid that literally shot forth from his maw and splashed across my chest. Once it was out, he gurgled a cry, but by then it was too late.

I think I was lucky. This viscous soup was expelled with enough force that, had Stephen's elevation been a little higher, I would've gotten a mouthful of it.

We comforted him as best we could, and between the two of us he settled down for a while...until the next bout of vomiting began, about forty-five minutes later. The boy had no fever, and we couldn't really fathom what might've been wrong with him. We gave him little sips of water, and my wife watched TV with him for a good while before getting him back to sleep.

He woke up a short while later, puking again.

It wasn't the worst night ever, but it was somewhat frightening, and I felt sorry for the little guy. I don't enjoy throwing up (who does?), so I can only imagine what it was like for him. Before hurling, the boy would frown, his lips apart slightly in an expression of discomfort that I can only describe as pitiful.

In the end, he went back to bed. He managed to drink a bottle, and kept it down. Perhaps it was a flu-like bug; whatever it was, it was relatively short-lived. Thank the gods for that small favor.

He wound up going to his grandmother's today, as usual. Here he is at her house, dressed in his Varsity jumper and matching hat. With that body language, I think he looks like a little gangsta.

I can hear him on the baby monitor right now, sighing in his sleep. He went down (to sleep) fairly easily tonight. After last night's festivities, I can't say that I blame him for being tired. I'm tired, for Pete's sake...and I still have some writing to finish before bed time...


Hot Tamales

I was gifted with a home-made tamale at work today. It was cold, so I heated it in one of the lunch room's underpowered microwave ovens. After two minutes, it was still cold in the middle, so I blasted it for another sixty seconds.

It was warm, alright. I put a small piece of the masa (at least, that's what I think it's called; the corn meal stuff that surrounds the filling) in my mouth, and it immediately stuck to my palate...and burned. It was like having molten peanut butter stuck there, and there was little I could do to remove it before the damage had been done.

In a word, "Owwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!"

I've already lost a layer of "skin" from that part of my palate. It just sort of sloughed off after dinner. Prior to dinner, I could feel it sliding around with my tongue.

Kind of gross, yeah. Yet misery loves company, so I felt compelled to share.

Anyway, this week at work was brutal. Lots of stuff to do, never enough time to do it. I'm glad I have two days off so that I can spend it working on the WFRP book. I need to have that darn thing finished this week. After that, who knows what sort of projects will pop up..?

Today, the wife and I took Stephen to a special doctor to get his head looked at. Much to our dismay, he's got a bit of flattening on the back of his cranium. Blame the "Back to Sleep" campaign, which advises folks to put their kids to sleep on their backs in order to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The program has reduced SIDS by a large margin, but the incidence of positional plagiocephaly has increased to nearly 1 in every 30 children as a result.

The treatment for this condition includes a custom-made helmet, called a DOC Band, which fits around the kid's head and applies pressure from different angles so that the skull can grow proportionally. After two months of treatment, Stephen's head won't be quite as flat as it is today.

Of course, this sort of thing isn't cheap. We're talking $3,000.00, all-inclusive. With luck, our insurance company will cover most, if not all, of the bill. If not...well, if not, we'll figure something out. I don't need both of my kidneys, after all.

When we got home (after sitting in California traffic), the power was out. Well, "out" isn't quite right. It was more like a brown-out, in that the lights kinda came on, but nothing else worked. Not the television, not the microwave, not the baby monitor, nothing. So we burned some candles and put our little flathead to sleep and waited. I went so far as to put myself down for the night, but the power came back on and here I am to tell you all about it.

So tomorrow I will write like a demon. Assuming we still have electricity.


The Doctor is In

New Orleans, that is.

Yes, I received a confirmation from Melinda this morning that Chris and his family are alive and well. They evacuated the Sunday before Katrina hit New Orleans. Mary and the baby are safe in Beaumont, Texas, and Chris is working in whatever hospital needs him at the moment. Their house, which they had recently finished remodeling, was not in a flooded area of the city, and suffered only minor damage.

So, good news all around for Chris and company. I'm very happy about this development. Melinda says that he didn't have his address book with him, so he didn't have the numbers to call and let folks know they were alright. He's supposed to give me a call tonight.

That's one more load off of my mind.

Stephen is at his grandma's house today while my wife and I get things done around the house. We're truly blessed that my mother lives so close to us, and that she enjoys the baby so much. When she sees him, she says, "Hello, pumpkin!" and his entire face lights up with a big, goofy grin.

All for now.


A Ray of Light

This morning, I received a word from Chris' friend, Michael. To quote the letter:

From a mutual friend about Chris...

Mr. Swearingen, wife and new baby made it out of New
Orleans. I do not know where they lighted. I do know
that he forgot to pack a Chinese army that he had
borrowed from the Gulf South DBM Champion. 8)

Although it looks like Chris might've lost someone else's DBM army, I'm far more relieved that they made it out of the city.

Chris, at left in the photograph, on his wedding day. There was a masked ball after the ceremony, and many guests came in costume. It was an extraordinarily good time.

As for the present, the more I see, and hear, and read about the conditions in the South right now, the more frustrated I get...

My day at work was unproductive. Our computer system went down around 10am, so I wasn't able to process any orders. Between the work I missed on Wednesday, and the work that I wasn't able to do today, I've got a day and a half of work waiting for me. With luck, the system will be operational tomorrow, and I'll be able to get some of that stuff finished.