I work with a bunch of engineers, so I got a kick out of this recent xkcd comic. Of course, I do not recommend disassembling your offspring. The parts inside are not user serviceable and it may invalidate your warranty.

This actually reminds me of a book that we bought during pregnancy, called The Baby Owner's Manual. We were looking for something to help us prepare, but I'm frightened by the density of most baby care books, and that's coming from someone who actually enjoys reading. This one is small, but rich in content, and full of illustrations! You should check it out if you're looking for a humorous yet practical guide for new parents.

The Grind

:D, originally uploaded by The Fuzzy Squid

One of our friends had a baby a couple of years ago. Soon afterward, he started playing the massively addictive online role-playing game World of Warcraft. I was childless at the time, and this seemed to me counter-productive to his responsibilities as a parent. He assured me that these activities were not mutually exclusive. I was doubtful. Then we brought our own baby home, and I understood exactly what he was talking about.

While taking care of our newborn daughter, I often find myself with one arm occupied and the other arm free. This limits my range of motion, but it still allows me to play video games! With one hand I can feed her a bottle or jiggle her to sleep, and with my DS-wielding hand I can send my party of imaginary explorers on a magical dungeon journey.

My baby's needs are very simple, but she needs things all the time. The portable system is perfect because I can pick it up or put it down as needed. And since my brain is occupied with other things (mustn't drop the baby), it's the perfect time to play an RPG where I can mindlessly grind low-level monsters into a fine paste.

So it turns out I can be a dad and have fun at the same time. I think I just leveled up in my Parenting skill!


F.M. baby, originally uploaded by ambroziak

I won't post photos of our baby on this blog (so, no, the photo above is not her either). I'm protecting her identity to avoid a situation like what happened with Sweet Juniper, among other reasons. To that end, for the purpose of this blog, I'm also giving our daughter a fake name.

However, too many bloggers already use "clever" pseudonyms that are too cute by half; I hate reading those blogs and I won't subject you to it either. So both for your sake and mine, I decided to use an actual name--like, one that a human would use for herself--even though it's not the one on her birth certificate.

And so, in keeping with the theme of this blog, I give you: Ashley J. Williams.

Labor & Delivery Comix

We've birthed an offspring!

I couldn't fit the fourth panel without making the whole strip too small to read, so click here for the punchline! I understand why sharing measurements is important. Some of you need the stats for your Blog Baby Fantasy Football League.

Our daughter measures in at:
  • weight: 7 pounds, 4 ounces
  • length: 21 1/2 inches
  • head circumference: 32 centimeters

The best edition of the Best Word Book Ever

Best Word Book Ever - He comes promptly, originally uploaded by kokogiak

My wife and I recently scored a rare find at our local used book store: a good condition copy of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, 1963 edition. It was very important to me that we purchase this version of the book, and not the 1991 printing. In the new book, words like "stewardess" have been updated to their modern gender-neutral equivalents (i.e. "flight attendant"). The career fields have also been modernized, so for example, kids can no longer become cowboys when they grow up. Instead, they are presented with new exciting employment options like "judge" and "taxi driver."

None of those revisions bother me much. But some of the changes are not only unnecessary, they also replace the exciting and descriptive language in the original with neutered, generic phrases. Which of these books would you rather read?

While a gentleman jumps from a burning building into the safety of a rescue net, a brave hero climbs up a ladder to rescue the beautiful screaming lady.


An unlabeled animal levitates in midair beside a firefighter and a "cat in danger."

By the way, the text is not the only thing that has been dumbed-down. In many places the art has been altered, removed, or replaced entirely. And yeah, the new drawings suck. There's a Flickr photo set illustrating the differences here.

Birth announcement gig posters from Rattle-N-Roll

Reuben In Portland - Bottom Right Corner, originally uploaded by dgustav

Rattle-N-Roll makes custom birth announcements styled after rock show gig posters. You select a template and send a photo, they do an illustration and send you a stack of handbills with your baby's face on 'em. The FAQ implies that they also sell actual poster-sized prints for hanging on the nursery wall.

Currently no pricing information available for the handbills, but it looks like you can get two full-sized posters for $400.


Eastern Red Cedar, originally uploaded by wcm777

I have been a Will Wright fan since 1989, when I first played SimCity on my Commodore 64. That dude makes some seriously good games. As a young kid, I learned a lot from them, and they encouraged curiousity about things like cities and insects and sociology.

His new creation, Spore, is set to be released this fall. It's basically a simulation of everything: encompassing the origin of life, evolution of species, the rise of civilization, planetary ecology, and galactic exploration.

It's kind of a big deal, and I feel obligated to share this genius with my little geeklet at the youngest possible age. Of course, by the time she's in high school they will have moved on from dissecting frogs to prodding embryonic stem cells, but for now this is the closest we can get to playing God.

Once more into the breach

Once More into the Breach!, originally uploaded by Vic Tan

I'm facing a barrage of coworker expectations. Each morning that I show up at the office is one more day of saying, "no baby yet!" It's one more reason to keep the due date a secret when a rough estimate would suffice.

Not that I'm complaining, mind. It must be so much harder on a working pregnant woman when everyone knows that the deadline has passed.

Lucky for my wife, she works from home. Of course, she still gets the irritating comments from her well-intentioned-but-tactless colleagues on the phone. But on the bright side, it's a lot easier to cope with those people when they can't see you rolling your eyes.

Week 41

Mile 41, originally uploaded by bikeracer

Rather than setting our hopes on a due date, I wish they had given us a "due month" instead. We can say right now with a large degree of certainty that this baby is going to be born in June.

It's normal for the first baby to be late, of course. The problem is nine months of anticipation followed by seven very slow days of mounting frustration. On the other hand, that light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter. The pregnancy can't last forever, and one way or another, we're going to have a daughter soon.

We are just hoping that she makes the decision to arrive on her own. I look forward to many years of bossing her around. I don't relish the idea that her birth--her very first introduction to the outside world and her parents--would happen "because we said so."

Daddy Drinks: Rum and Coke

" Thirsty ", originally uploaded by dibec

First of all, belligerent frat boys may insist that this drink is properly called a "Captain" and Coke. They are mistaken. If you've never tasted a sample of Sailor Jerry's Spiced Navy Rum, then you don't know what you're missing. Time to graduate to a real rum.

Sailor Jerry is an authentic Caribbean-style spiced rum with a 96 proof kick and just a hint of vanilla and cherry. After one sip of this rum, you'll say, "Captain who?" If your love of drinking is exceeded only by your passion for tattoos, then you will also appreciate the packaging on this fine product, tastefully decorated with old-school flash art by the master himself.

Fill a glass with ice and pour in your base of Sailor Jerry. Add Coke. Do not drown out the rum with soda! If you're drinking a premium rum, as you should be, then you want to be able to taste it. I recommend a ratio of 1 part rum to 3 parts Coke. Stir and garnish with lime.


Shadow Man on the Bakerloo line, originally uploaded by Semi-detached

Thanks to everyone for the creative suggestions on how to prompt our baby out of the womb. We tried taunting, guilting, and ignoring her, all to no effect.

She is squirming quite a bit, though, and seems determined to make her mother very uncomfortable during the brief remainder of her time in utero. I'm in the same boat as ever; waiting patiently while I rush toward this event horizon.

The Night of Five Times

We're trying to kick-start labor on our own--spicy foods, long walks, et cetera--but nothing is working. After last night, I think we have exhausted the available options. At least we can say that we gave it our best effort.

Next Stop: Zero Station

to be or not to be, originally uploaded by まてぃあすMattias

We're one day past the official ETA, still waiting for baby to arrive. The midwives assure us that good things are happening inside of my wife, and hopefully our daughter is on track for departure, almost ready to begin the journey to her new home.

FUN FACT: the margin of error for due date calculations is up to two weeks on either side of the target day.