Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Awesome Baby Cow Quilt

When Mr. Field Notes and I visited Japan in January, one of the more unconventional things we did was go to a quilt festival.

Although we saw quite a few traditional patchwork quilts, it was the unconventional quilts that caught my eye.

This cow themed quilt continues to be one of my favorites. It had upwards of 40 different cloth cows of various sizes, shapes and expressions. At the time I walked away from the quilt, I thought it would be wonderful to have one like it but with monkeys. I could adapt the OrnaMonkeys I've made for the purpose. That was the idea, anyway. My travel companions were enthusiastic about the idea, I think because they thought this whimsical cow quilt was fantastic too! They thought I should make the monkey quilt and enter it into the 2010 quilt show. I could compete for the prizes too and maybe win some big bucks... to pay for another trip to Japan??
Maybe I will make that quilt one day.

Until then I wanted to share the crazy clever cow quilt. Here are some close-ups.

Button Nose & Eyes

Rope Tail
Ring Nose & Alphabet Body
(I like the one to his right too!)

Metallic Mama & Baby Moo Moos
As you can see, the quilt is three-dimensional in a way most quilts aren't. I really like that aspect of this one.

Monday, July 27, 2009

An Academic Dream

A few nights ago I awoke from a dream — the kind I love; the kind that makes you think hey, what if Freud was right and dreams represent wish fulfillment, what if this is what I subconsciously wish to happen?

Mr. Field Notes had taken a couple of classes in psychology at the community college (Intro and Developmental) and loved them so much that he decided he wanted to go to graduate school and get a PhD in psychology too. He wrote his dissertation on the degree of bonding between dads and their newborns in c-sections versus vaginal deliveries. Then we moved to Maine where we shared a position in the psychology department of a small liberal arts college.

That would be freaky.

Of course now, I want to plan that study (I have an idea for the general hypothesis and an inkling of an idea on how to test it). I think it could reasonably get grant funding given the topic. This may be my new direction rather than his! And, this is also so like me. Once I have too much to do, I pile on more. And I thought an academic career didn't appeal. But then recent life experiences prompted me to realize a nifty study that could actually get some grant funding and would also be a nice extension of my own dissertation research, and I suddenly find myself wanting to sit down and do some background research to write up a proposal. Huh. How about that? One can get A LOT of background reading done while nursing.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back to work!

According to my present employer, I need to get a note from my doctor to go back to work. I've decided I'm ready to go back to work. I see him Tuesday and hopefully he'll sign off on the plan. I have no idea what to expect as far as my chances; I had a c-section so I am thinking he might think it's too early. BUT —

I have already gone back to work in the job of my own creation, selling my handmade paper. I've bundled up and sent out several orders since returning home. I've even collected '09 seeds for use in cards and paper for planting season '10: arctic poppies, bachelor buttons, dianthus and snapdragons so far. The zinnia will be ready soon.

It was a relief and highly gratifying to spend time outside gathering seed pods from my plants. I even took photos of a new product and listed it for sale online. Click the pic to see it up close! The flowers are confetti you can plant and use to grow flowers. The paper flowers are chock full of seeds I gathered from my garden plants. They really do grow too.

That's how I got these beauties at the left. I tell you, I cannot wait to teach Baby FN about plants!

I am ready to go back to work! I need it for my mental health. I hate being cooped up and cut off. That is a killer. So getting back to my former routine as much as possible will be good for my mental health and ultimately my physical health too - that mind/body connection is bona fide. That's the argument I will be making if my doc balks at the idea of me returning to work. I have an easy desk job that I do from home so I can't imagine I'll need to argue much, but I am prepared in case he does.

My doc (me, LOL) signed off on me going back to my papermaking job the first weekend I got home, about 4 days after delivering (and having a major abdominal surgery). I have been taking it easy. Really, I have.
I promise.

More on the labor and delivery soon. I am really eager to share the saga, even if no one is really interested, I need to write about it soon while it's still fresh in my mind.

I labored at home by myself and reached 8 cm dilation without needing pain meds or anybody around me. I don't know what the hell I was thinking, really. It just didn't hurt as much as I thought it would and the contractions were coming 2 weeks early so I didn't even think I was in real labor. Boy was I wrong!

It turned out to be a big week of work: The butterflies I make with seeds I embed in the pulp made an appearance on the front page of etsy. Click the photo to see the butterflies close up.

They didn't sell out, but several other things did that day! What a nice surprise to have. The last time I got that level of free advertising was a year ago. What timing! Fortunately, I have been teaching Mr. Field Notes how to press the paper so I can still make paper for orders. He does the hard, physical labor part while I do the creative, technical end. It's a great division of labor. I will really miss him when he's no longer taking leave time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vestigial Characteristics: Monkey Features of the Human Newborn

Newborn babies arrive with some pre-installed software and hardware that demonstrates, beyond a shadow of a doubt, our primate heritage.

Vestigial features like Darwin's point (see post below) evoke the pointed ears of Old World Monkeys — the ancestral line of nonhuman primates from which human primates descended. Old World Monkeys have pointy, Spock-like ears. You can see them perfectly in the photo of the baby saki monkey at the right.

The ears of Baby Field Notes have this point, named after Darwin because he was the first to observe and write about it. The arrow in the photo shows where she also has a tuft of hair growing from her ears. Right now the hairs are about 1/2 centimeter long. Like the hair growing on her shoulders, this hair will thin out with age.

Perhaps you can feel a small bump along the rim of your ear. Feel along. Not everyone has one that is pronounced and if so, it is often only present on one side. That little bump is a relic of your ancestors' descent from monkeys. So is the shoulder hair and ear hair of the newborn human primate.

In fact, humans are just as hairy as other primates, including other apes. We have just as many hairs per square inch as chimps, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans. Ours are just so fine and so short that they appear to be invisible, thus giving humans their 'naked ape' label. We're not really naked and hairless at all. Look closely at your skin under good lighting the next time you get out of the shower and you'll see what I mean. Our faces are hairy too.

As for pre-installed software, newborns have a number of reflexes that would clearly have been evolutionarily advantageous. One, the Palmer grasp, wold have been useful for grasping onto mom's hair in an emergency if she had to move abruptly. Newborns can actually support their own weight with it. I am not willing to experiment with BFN, but you can see in the following video exactly how impressive this reflex is.

Palmer Grasp Reflex

The Palmer grasp can be seen in human newborn feet as well.

The Moro reflex is another reflex useful for keeping baby with mom when she moves. Other primates occasionally hold their babies when they move, but for the most part, nonhuman primate babies latch onto mom's hair on their own and can stay in contact with her while she moves even when mom doesn't provide support. Humans retain these reflexes in spite of not being able to take advantage of them. They are atavistic, vestigial traits. These reflexes, like the presence of a nonfunctional appendix, illustrate that not every trait that is a product of evolution has a function in its present form.

Moro reflex

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Better Photo of Baby Field Notes

I love her so much!

Newfies Meet Baby: Nanny Dogs Extraordinaire!

Katy the Newfoundland, Chief Baby Guard,
reports for duty!

Both newfs were justifiably curious about their new housemate and also very cautious. They were not afraid. They showed gentle, profound interest in what she was.


Lots and lots of gentle sniffs to her fuzzy little noggin. Those became delicate kisses to her head and cheek.

I don't recall any excitable tail wagging during the introduction nor do I recall Yuki wandering around with her tail raised. She showed complete submission. I was very surprised we did not have to establish dominance over her — she just knew. I think that must be part of the Newfoundland's "nanny dog" reputation.

After they met and things calmed down we set Baby FN down in her 'bassinet.' Both dogs peeked over the sides to see and sniff her. As things returned to relative normal at home, both Katy and Yuki would periodically go in and check on her. She doesn't fuss, she just sleeps and makes little cooing noises when she wakes. She displays an amazingly 'easy' temperament right now. Perhaps too easy, her pediatrician says. She thinks my baby is "too content," so we're agitating her around feeding times to get her properly worked up into an eating frenzy so she'll put on good weight.

Yuki, if she knew, would be flabbergasted to hear BFN needs to be prodded to eat a bunch. Flabbergasted! And no surprise here, Yuki thinks I smell fascinating. Katy hasn't shown much curiosity there — she seems to get that I am nursing "puppies." Katy has always been very maternal toward Yuki so that's no surprise either!

Regarding Katy, she immediately took charge and bossed Yuki into being a better dog. And, for her part, Yuki appears to have grown up overnight. Well, it's more like 3 nights since I was in the hospital that long. I had to have a C-section. Ugh. More on that later.

Although Katy immediately assumed command of baby guard duty, she did allow Yuki a volunteer position. And, Yuki has already earned a promotion.

Brevet captain of the Baby Watchmen
after her battlefield promotion

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Baby Field Notes Arrived!!

Baby Field Notes decided to join the primate family early! She made her grand appearance in dramatic fashion on Tuesday. I am already admiring her prehensile toes and monkey ears. Her ears even have little tufts of hair near the 'Darwin's point.' Click here to learn what Darwin's point is.

7 lbs, 20 inches
11:05 pm, July 14

When I have recovered, I will definitely write a labor and delivery post! Right now, we all just need to catch up on some ZZZZZZzzzzzzzs.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Artful Bento Food for Kids

I know it's a long way off, but I think these would be a super cool way to make taking a 'sack' lunch to school more fun.

Mr. Field Notes and I searched high and low while we were in Japan for the perfect bento box for Baby Field Notes to use once she's old enough to take her lunch to school.

We decided, without discussion (I think) that she would be sent to school with food made at home rather than eat the lunches provided at school. It's something I think Mr. Field Notes is really excited to do, I know it. I think he wants to be just like the dad in the movie Eat Drink, Man Woman. It's a good movie about food, fatherhood and family ties. At one point in the movie the dad makes gourmet bento meals for a little girl every day for school - to the envy of all of her classmates.

We have yet to find the bento box, but we have plenty of time. She's not even here yet! Speaking of that, she'd better hurry her little butt up; I am getting tired of waiting.

So, I don't know if we'll actually be sending Junior Field Notes off to school with gourmet bento box lunches, but it's something to aspire to and these are certainly inspiration!