Monday, November 24, 2008

Utah, part 1: Provo/Orem

Dave Barry describes going on a flight with his 8 month old daughter. Among the factors he discusses that make traveling with little ones difficult are: the average baby requires 100 times the baby's weight in supplies (diapers, wipes, toys, stroller, car seat, clothes); planes make babies poop extremely and the only changing table available on the plane is barely large enough to change a baby chipmunk; babies pop their heads up over their parents and emit shrieks like prairie dogs; they have an attention span of 15 seconds, so you need 960 different activities for them on a 4 hour flight.

With this difficult research done, we prepared to fly to Utah to visit Joy's family with our 8 month old son. We didn't pack tons of diapers - we bought more at WalMart when we arrived. Hyrum didn't poop on the flight, but one plane didn't even have a changing table if we had needed one. He popped his head up occasionally, but only to look around. He enjoyed playing with some Mardi Gras beads Joy bought for him most of the time he was awake.

Best of all, he fell asleep in my arms and slept through a significant portion of both flights. This was the first time he fell asleep in my arms. It was precious. I texted Dad on our arrival that he was "Dickesian." He asked: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?" I finished: "He was as good as gold, and better."

We've spent this first part of the trip with Joy's cousin/sister Laurel and her wonderful family in Provo. Joy says, "It is so nice to stay with Lala and Rich. They play games with us and make us feel so at home. Our first day at their home we just rested and visited. We played Dance, Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, and a singing competition game - all for the first time. A good time was had by all. Joy had to go to bed by 10pm that night because we were up until 2 am the two nights previous. The second day I went to visit my aunt and uncle Swanny and Leonard. My cousin Swanny and her children live at their home, so I got to see them. Cousin Swanny and I got to chat for a while, it was really nice. We played board games with the Lala, Rich and kids that night. We played Throw the Pigs and Therapy." We also got to crash a birthday party for a 5 year old cousin. He was happy to get a Lightning McQueen car, but really excited about Mater. [Edit: Thanks to the several people who corrected me. I haven't seen the movie yet and very few Americans pronounce a mid-word T like a T, so always thought he was Mader. One of the worst teasings I got out here was when I pronounced ghetto with a distinct T - laughed to scorn, I tell you.]

Saturday we had a party at their church and invited all of our family in the area. We had a really great turnout. Best of all, family came in waves, so we could spend some quality time with each group before they left and the next families showed up. In that way, it was much easier for me than the last time I met most of them, which was at our reception line. We played a lot of volleyball and kids raced around on the racks that hold the folding chairs until some enterprising parent hid them. We were all up pretty late.

Hyrum's two favorite toys were the dirt for the potted plant and a broken fax machine that beeped at him whenever he hit its buttons. Videos forthcoming.

We joined Lala and Rich for church on Sunday and were disappointed that my friends from BYU/Cornell/and now BYU again got sick so we couldn't get together. We finished our game of Therapy (my wife, the Master of Counseling Arts won) and headed over to spend the night with my brother and his wife. Hyrum had a very bad night because he was trying to sleep in the same room we were all playing on their Wii. We somehow all got to bed eventually.

In Hyrum development news, Hy stuck a piece of food in his mouth for the first time! It was a carrot. We're uncertain how much of it he ate, if any. But a few days later at our first Thanksgiving dinner, he munched on a few crumbs of a roll that I placed in his open mouth. Until now, he has only been willing to eat things on spoons and forks, so this is an important, if dangerous, development. Joy informs me as I type this that he also ate a few Cheerios on a spoon for the first time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More than meets the eye

As I went outside tonight to take out the trash, I made a startling discovery. Or rather, two discoveries. The first, minor one, was that today was Ithaca's first snow that stuck to the ground. The more interesting one was that our car, Monk, is actually a Transformer. Behold the proof for yourself!
A Transformers logo-face if ever there was one! Joy (aka Beautimus Prime) wonders if we need a new name for Monk.....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

8 Months Old

Being 8 months old means many things for little Hy.

It means he gets to be CAPTAIN AMERICA for Halloween! Between Captain Hyrum and Zorro (middle-aged version), we were able to rescue the fair Roman maiden (whose costume isn't portrayed to best light in this picture).

8 months old means that he gets to eat EGGIES! He doesn't care for them yet as much as his parents do. But this is also cool, because it means he is learning to express his preferences. This week he learned how to stick out his hands in a STOP gesture when he's tired of hamburger/rice/green bean mush and wants milk. He even did it for applesauce and his milk tonight when he was all full. Now, if we had handed him some of our ice cream, he might have found a little more room.... "Something new, there's always a bite or two of room."

8 months old does NOT mean that he eats with his hands yet. Mom tried to feed him bread, but he wouldn't touch it until she put it on a spoon. "However, Friday I tried giving him some crushed grapes. (I know, some of you are going to think grape juice. This was grape pulp.) But I also cut up some of the grape and put little pieces on his tray that he kind of pushed around and played with - but for the first time after giving me the sour look like 'I'm not going to eat that, Mom' he opened his mouth and lunged for the piece of grape and my fingers. He missed it of course. But, he did try again and we got it in."

(Here he is doing his best Punky Brewster imitation)

Speaking of Hyrum's pattented lunge, this is how he normally kisses us. Open mouth, attack like a raptor, big slimy, gooey smack. Being 8 months old, however, means he also now uses this to bite his mommy. Saturday I was bit 5 times. "He bit me on purpose. He was hungry and wanted food. I don't think he knew it was going to hurt me." He hasn't tried to bite the daddy on purpose yet. "We are working on our gentle ways of teaching him that that is not appropriate."

In other anti-social behaviors, being 8 months old means he pushed his first child over. We were home teaching, no less, when he inadvertantly knocked Rhoda down. He was surprised that someone else was as fragile on their legs as he is.

Hopefully, being 8 months old will mean that he finally gets over the fever and runny nose he's had the entirety of being 7 months old. "We hear it comes with teething." So there may be more teeth coming to join his four. But since he was sick the same 3 weeks his old man was sick, I'm ready to accuse germs rather than gums.

Also at 8 months, his grip on my hair is getting TIGHT. He could hold on pretty well before, but now he's taking our mission president's advice to heart and yanking for all he's worth. "And the doctor said he's really strong."

Hy is discovering himself ... in the mirror at 8 months. One of his favorite games is to look in the mirror and smile at himself, and then smile at Mommy in the mirror. He will change his angle to see Mommy in the mirror and then make her disappear and reappear. He also really enjoys playing with screwdrivers and other manly tool toys. He has also discovered splashing in the tub.

Being 8 months means we have an adopted older brother in James P. We've been able to hang out this week with our good friend, Jon and Shari, whose nearly two yr. old son James really enjoys it when 'Bebe Hy' comes to visit. He crawls around with him, shows him cool toys, and how to play with the train. Hy's other adopted older brother comes to Friday Forum with his parents and likes to entertain and tickle the baby.

Excitingly, 8 months is when he will get to fly on an airplane for the first time. We're heading off to Utah to spend Thanksgiving with Joy's family (10 days) and mine (4 days). We've been preparing him for this by keeping him awake until 10pm our time so that when we get there, he will go to bed at the same old time (8 pm) and wake up at a decent hour (6-7) instead of when we'd rather everyone else be asleep (4-5am). He's making the transition very well.

Our little angel is growing up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's GOOD to the be the Dad

Thursday morning - Joy and I had had a rough night's sleep and were kind of groggy and grouchy. We decided one of the best uses of our morning would be to sit on the couch and hold each other and be friends.

Then up crawls little Hyrum. Dear, sweet, little Hyrum stands up and begins pawing at my leg. He wants to be held too! This is unusual for him, but he knows that if we're paying attention to each other, we can't be paying much to him. We pick him up.

And, oh, the friendly little happy family cuddle we had! Baby kisses all around! Have another round, Mommy! Laughing, giggling, Hyrum planted sloppy wet kiss after sloppy wet kiss on my wife's face until I dived in for a turn.

Hyrum has the funnest way of giving a kiss. He opens his mouth wide and dive bombs in on a sudden. It can be a little frightening, since he sometimes bites your nose or cheek when he does this. Usually, though, it's a slobbery tongue that greets your cheek (or lips if you aren't fast enough).

We spent a very rejuvenating 15-20 minutes together as a little, sick family, just loving each other and being happy. I like our baby. I like my wife. It's good to be the Dad.

We have our computer back!

Every time we've contacted Dell about a problem with our laptop, it's gotten slower. We finally sent it to them to have them take a look at it. It's been very weird being without internet access at home for a week. Surprise, surprise, we lived. Given that we were all sick, I also didn't go in to the office like I would have normally, so it was almost a total abstinence!

It got back in today, looking all clean and newish. The keyboard types like new, the usb ports that didn't work work again, the crack in the casing is gone, and we have a suggestion on how to speed things up a bit. What am I looking forward to most?

Let the serious blogging re-commence!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



On Monday I defended my dissertation from the insightful, informative banter of my noble committee all of whom were in town for the first day since May. They signed the paper. Three signatures = PhD. No longer quite so piled higher and deeper, I am now a PHony Doctor!

I still need to reformat the dissertation and fix a few minor points before turning it in, at which point Cornell will acknowledge the prefixed title:

Dr. Derrill D. Watson II

I like it.

One of the best parts was calling Grammy (my namesake's wife). Her joyous congratulations and tears really made it special. Joy was a big help, also, making the presentation go off well. She has been such a support these last 5 years, particularly with her never-flagging confidence and encouragement. I'm very glad that in NY, a spouse gets half of the degree the other one earns. She deserves it.
So there I am all happy and stuff, and decide to spend a few minutes finishing up my scripture reading. I had only had time to read in the Bible in the morning, so I opened up the Book of Mormon and for my very first few verses as a newly minted PhD read the following:

"Whoso knocketh, to him will he [God] open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches -- yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them." (2nd Nephi 9:42)

Hm. (long pause)

I'd noticed that verse many times on my path here, but it never struck before how powerful that wording is. You now have the dissertation in hand, and are you willing to cast it away? To plead with Him for guidance and protection and insight every day just like you did in trying to get those three signatures? To trust His Spirit and His servants, the prophets and apostles, even if something they say goes against the principles of economics you cherish? To remind yourself that research involves learning more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing, and that you have only begun to learn some things about nothing? To acknowledge His infinitely superior wisdom and unsurpassable knowledge of everything about everything? To put that into practice with how I treat His other children, particularly when I leave the confines of Ithaca and become in all likelihood one of very few over-educated people in my ward?

And that if I don't, that I will be someone God despises? He doesn't use that word often to describe His relation to us. ... Probably something deserving some more thought.