Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Due Day, Mason!

Today at parent-teacher conferences I was told...
...I don't give enough homework.
...I give too much homework.
...the text books are horrible.
...I speak good Spanish (they were being very kind. I conjugated at least all the verbs incorrectly).
...I am providing a vehicle (knitting) for a woman's son to turn gay.

But enough about my work. You came to hear about Mason (one of my students, the gay one, asked me, "Why is Mason so famous?" I guess he just has that "jue-no-say-quah"). Today was Mason's Due Day. He is now well over 9lbs. Jen sure dodged a bullet there. I can't imagine how red her face would have turned trying to fire out this:

Ok, I guess seeing the dog exiting the birth canal would have been a real shock. Still, there are worse cases. Take, for example, the student in my class whose mother just cranked out baby number 5. It was a girl. A twelve pound girl! Now that is something to talk about! Discuss.

In other news, Mason has once again made waves to impress all the "How-de-doo-dats" out there. His tricks, sorry, illusions, are feats of infant strength and skill. Today, it was The Amazing Head Lift. Where many have tried and failed, Mason rocks the house!

Boohyah! Happy Due Day, Mason!


Mason has developed this incredible talent for quickly and effectively escaping from his swaddling blankets. He has moves to obfuscate the mind of Harry himself! I know, I know... you're child can do this too. All I can say is, "Does your child do it with a face melting soundtrack?!No?!

Well, here he is, Mason Jonah, with 80's pop sensation, Europe!

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Mom's Life

Looking after a newborn is hard work. Just ask Jen.

I returned to work a week after Mason was born. Back to school. Back to life. Work is work.

Jen has been keeping up her home routine with Mason. Those of you who have newborn experience know the drill... wake... change... feed... sleep... wake... change... feed... sleep... wake... change... feed... sleep... wake... change... feed... feed... feed... feed...

This is the routine. This is a mom's life. In a recent email to a friend, Jen wrote about the exciting events of her day:

"I just woke up from a huge nap. Mason and I got up and drove Josh [to a conference] this morning because parking is crazy downtown. Then we headed back home and hung out with Onyx and ate. Then totally crashed. He is still out so I get to take a shower and chat with you. I know this isn't an exciting story, simply a recap of an uneventful morning, but I felt the need to talk to you. It is funny, I always tell my students to share something about their weekend or whatever that was a highlight, not just the normal stuff such as waking up and eating breakfast...blah blah boring."

Jen's "normal stuff" might not be glamorous, and it might not make a great Hallmark movie, but I am and will be forever grateful for the time that she is giving to our child, our family. When we look back on these months, so many years from now, so many more feedings from now, it will be the "normal stuff" we will miss the most. The quiet feedings and the hours when time seemed to stand still and the world revolved around our new family.

Thank-you Jen.

Oh, and if you have a moment, drop Jen a note. She would love to hear about your "normal stuff."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gettin' My Bath On

Well, technically this is his second bath, and the quality of the video is kinda poor because I shot it on my still camera; however, it is in fact Mason, and he is indeed wet. So, what do you want. Besides, I took a whole bunch of time to put this together, and, while I know I am no Scorsese, I think it works. Enjoy!

Oh, yeah. I edited the footage so as to keep the PG-13 rating. If you would like to see the "uncut" reels, you will have to come over for a visit.

Pumpkin Thief

So, I walked out onto our porch last night to discover that one of the three pumpkins from our trip to the pumpkin patch was missing. As I scanned the lawn to investigate this caper, I discovered the thief hiding with his prize among the weeds.

Great Pumpkins!

Fall. A time for leaves. A time for soup. A time for burning out the dust in your furnace. A time for extra-hot, tall, two-pump, vanilla, nonfat lattes. A time for babies and pumpkins!

I know this is late, but need I repeat myself about time well spent? Halloween came and went and left many of you to wonder about Mason's inaugural holiday.

It went something like this:

Having Grandma Strong in town for the week provided an ideal opportunity for our family to have our Pumpkin Portrait taken since we now had our own personal photographer in tow. So many times Jen and I are on our own to try and get a family photo. This usually means taking two separate pictures and Photoshoping them into one, or getting a passer-by to take a picture which inevitably becomes a shot of disembodied heads floating in the vast blue sky.

So, after feeding Mason, and starting the 3 hour baby-travel timer, we dressed Mason in his Halloween garb, packed the diaper bag and stroller, loaded everything into the car, and drove the 2 minutes to the Pumpkin Patch.

Once there, we were immediately bombarded by the swirling dust storms of the parking lot as holiday fiends raced to have one last glimpse of the Haunted Barn, Trampoline House, and the guy who has nothing better to do than stand around and scare little kids. Finally, we made it to the patch, and I scoped out fantastically spooky old tree as a backdrop for our family photo. I took a few test photos just to check framing. When we were all set and ready to document this historic moment, an entire hay ride full of ghoulish families invaded the scene, kicking up dust and cluttering up our photo. So, to avoid being trampled, we abandoned this setting and set off to find another location.

After pausing for a moment to take a break from the heat of El Nino (as Chelsa made so perfectly clear, Sacramento Halloweens do seem more like summer holidays), we took a long walk to the dregs of the pumpkin patch.

Mama Ray finds an ironic, green tree to shade little Mason from the ironic, fall sun.

Papa Ray and Mason have a pattern war. Mason is the victor!

It was here, amongst the decaying corpses of the pumpkins that time forgot, we were able to have the peace we needed to get on with our picture taking.


Fall. A time for family. A time for loved ones. A time for snuggling. A time for trekking back to the car through the hordes of screaming kids, dirty farm animals and dusty parking lot to travel back home and spend the next several hours wiping down the stroller. I love Fall!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ok, Fine...I'm Back!

Well, here it is! The blog you have all been waiting for. I know it has been some time since I posted my last entry. Well, excuse me for wanting to spend some time with my family, and not giving all of you out there a play-by-play of my private life. Geez! As if all I have to do is sit here at the dining room table and type all this blah-blah-blog for you all to gush over!

Ok, with that off my chest, how are you? We have been doing just swell. Our little trio +K9 has been working to get into some form of a routine. Man, babies are needy!

Mason's First Visit to Starbucks

We have been making an effort to get out from time to time. Between feedings, we have a 3 hour window in which to make our outings. Timing is crucial for a successful "out-of-home" event.

The entire outing usually follows this pattern:
- Secure child in safety seat
- Cover child with various child insulation items
- Fill diaper bag with necessary accoutrements
- Sift through piles of crap to find car keys
- Relocate all said items to car
- Get in car
- Realize you forgot to pack extra "onesie" for potential explosive, onesie-soiling episode
- Get out of car
- Retrieve extra onesie
- Get Greenie for jealous dog
- Get back into car
- Drive around the block
- Return home for next feeding

Mason and Josh Order Breakfast

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Edible Complex

Mason was born on October 14th, about 5 weeks early. This was not really a problem other than the fact that our baby shower was scheduled for October 21st. Both Jen and I feel that little Mason heard about the party and, not wanting to be left out, made plans to be there in person.

About 3 days before the shower, my cousin called and asked me to email her my favorite picture of Mason. First of all, how hard is that?! Finding my favorite picture. I only have about 80 or 90 favorites of the 80 to 90 pictures I have taken so far. Well, I narrowed it down to a couple, flipped a coin and ended up with this one:
Fast forward three days. The day of the shower. We walked into my cousin's house to find the room filled with friends and family. It was nice to get together with some adults and have some conversations about adult things...you know...like babies.

On the table was a cake (there is always a cake), and on the cake was the winner of the coin toss. It was so cute and sweet (pun intended).
The baby shower played out as expected: conversations about the baby, presents for the baby, spinach dip and carbs! It was then time for cake. We all gathered around as Ariana, our hostess, began making slices through my son's face on the cake. Don't get me wrong, the cake was great, but there is something about watching your newborn child being sliced into little cubes that is somewhat unnerving.
The Masonic Cubes were served to the hungry guests, and Jen and I watched as these little cubes were devoured by our family and friends.

There are some cultures where canniblalism is the highest form of honor. To be eaten by loved ones ensures you will live on as a part of them for years to come. There is also the old saying "You are what you eat." In that case, Mason will be a part of me forever, and I will continue to be a little bit "snotty."

Some Changes

So, I made a few changes to the site. Let me know what you think.

Also, I think I fixed the video. Scroll down and try it again.

Woah...look at the time!


Friday, October 20, 2006

Baby Phantoms

Jen, Mason, and I got to bed last night around 11:30. While I love being with my son, it is nice to get that much needed rest! So, with Mason snuggly swaddled in his crib, and Jen and I nestled in our bed, we all drifted off to slumberland... for a bit.

At 1:30am, Jen woke me in a panic!

"The baby!" she said. "I can't find him."

Jen was rooting around in our bed and despratly grabbing at the sheets.

"The baby?" I asked puzzled. It was dark, and I was pretty sure he was not in the bed, but I couldn't be sure with my sleep daze still washed over me.

"I brought him here to be with us, but now I can't get him. It's hard to know which is the sheet and which is him." Jen was really grabbing at the covers now and trying to get ahold of Mason.

I got up to check the crib. There was Mason, sound asleep and dreaming of milk and poopies.

I returned to bed. "He is still in his crib. He's not here," I assured Jen.

"Oh, he's not?" Jen sounded exhausted from the pawing of the bed. "Oh, ah...I though he was here. I jusssss..."

She was alseep.

I drifted back to sleep and settled into a very satisfiying dream sequence (it was a great adventure dream... I love those!). Jen woke me up with alarming news.

"The baby! I can't find his head! He's here, but I can't find his head!"

The panic in her voice promped me to franticly scan the darkness of our bed. Jen had our son in her arms and was patting him down, as if fluffing a pillow... wait a minute! It was a pillow in her arms!

When we both calmed down a bit, we broke into a great hearty laugh. We had officially had our first "loopy parent" moment. The kind of stories that we will pass down to our children so they can tease and taunt us!

Jen got up and fed the baby.

As for me, I had an adventure to continue!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Look, Ma! My Hands!

So, little Mason found his thumbs last night. I think he is in love!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Beast Friends

Here lie Mason and Onyx. May they (and their parents) rest in peace! Please, please rest...we need to rest too! Onyx! Leave it! Hey, give me back that keyboaallkjalnnbbbv,bn,s.v...

Friendly Fire

Saturday, October 14 - At 6:34am Nurse Peggy draws friendly fire from Mason as she places him on the scale to be weighed.

Monday, October 16 - At 4:55pm a nursing assistant takes it in the face as she prepares him for discharge. There were no injuries other than the nurse's pride.

Tuesday, October 17 - At 12:30pm Mason takes aim at his father. The stream grazes Josh's shoulder, but he is otherwise unharmed.

When will Mason strike again? Experts are unsure. There does not seem to be a pattern to these crimes, but chances are, he will strike again...and when he does, I will be ready!

So, here's the whole story...

Warning: This is a narrative version of the story. If you would like the Cliff Notes version, check the previous post.

The wedding party was in town, and wedding happenings were in full force. Weston, my brother, and Adrienne, his fiance, were to be married on Saturday. Friday night, Gran called me and asked if I would bring over the inflatable bundle of bed. I agreed, reluctantly. I was already snuggled into my home and ready for a restful evening. You know how it is.

Anyway, I took the bundle of bed to Gran leaving Jen to rest in slumber on the couch. I visited with Gran for about an hour or so. After my visit, I returned home at about 12:30ish to find Jen on the computer replying to an email from a friend who had sent a list of "things to get before you have a baby." After finishing her email, we hit the sack.

At 2:30, Jen woke me up to "come look at something." I was assuming it was the mouse that has been ransacking our pantry for the past week, but that was not her concern. It seemed that her "bag-of-fluids" had ruptured. I called the hospital and explained to them what I was looking at. I said that the mouse was a bit bigger than the last mouse we found and...wait, no that is not what I told them. I actually don't really remember the conversation. I remember...I remember feeling a bit nuts. We had no bags packed, no baby stuff, nothing! I ran through the house for about the next 20 minutes gathering things we would need for our trip to the hospital.

When I finally looked at what I had gathered, all I had were the toothbrushes. So, with toothbrushes in tow, Jen and I got into the car at 3:30am. Jen had her first contraction as she waited for me to unlock the car door. Into the car went Jen, and off we went!

On the way to the hospital, we had one last name conversation figuring that we only had a few hours to make a decision. How right we were!

We pulled into South Sacramento Kaiser Hospital at about 4:00am. Jen and I walked into the hospital and up to the 2nd floor. When we got to Labor and Delivery, there were 7 people ahead of us. Jen took priority due to the "water-bag" thing. I was taken to the admitting nurse to give her the needed information while Jen was escorted to her womb room.

I was in with the admitting nurse for about 20 minutes and joined Jen the room at 4:30am. For the next 45 minutes, Jen and I breathed, panted, moaned, and did all the things they told us to do to get a head rush to make you forget about the pain. Well, it worked for me (head rush was great!), but Jen was feeling pretty uncomfortable.

Finally, at 5:15am, Nurse Peggy and Dr. Sheppard exploded into the room (Ok, they just walked, but I am trying to create some tension...feeling tense? I was, and so was Jen's uterus!). So, the medical staff were in the room. Jen was finishing off a particularlly tasty contration, and Dr. Sheppard did a quick exam.

"Wow! She's ready. You're ready to push, Jen!" said Dr. Sheppard.
"I'm not feeling ready," replied Jen.
"Hunny, you want to do this," interjected Nurse Peggy. "That's what you're here for!"

I just kept breathing and keeping up the head rush.

Jen began pushing at 5:30am. She is so kind to let me believe that I was such a great help. I counted during pushing, breathed with her through contractions, and made motivatioal mini-speeches like, "You can do it!" and "Go, go, go!" and "What the heck?!" I thought they were pretty convincing, and I am very fluent at counting to 10, but really, it was all Jen!

Well, I was running out of mini-speeches and was just about to start recycling them, when Mason's head became visible.

Jen hunkered down for one more push.

At 6:02, Mason was born. Jen and I both fell into tears as they placed him on her chest. I knew this would be an exciting moment, but I was overwhelmed with the emotions washing over me. I am not a good enough writer to describe the feelings of those first moments with my family. What I can say is this: All happiness in my life will be measured against that moment. The moment I first met my son.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Cliff Notes Version

Friday, October 13, 2006
7:00pm - Jen and Josh go for a hunk of meat at the Outback
8:30pm - Jen and Josh relax on the couch to watch the Netflix movie they have had for over 3 months
10:00pm - Gran calls and asks Josh to bring over the Aerobed for wedding guests

Saturday, October 14, 2006
12:30am - Josh returns from Gran's to find Jen answering emails from Jeanne
1:00am - Jen and Josh slumber
2:30am - Jen wakes up Josh to "come look at something"
2:30am - Jen's "bag-of-fluids" ruptures
2:30am - Josh begins to freak out...just a little
3:30am - Jen and Josh get into the car and Jen has her first contraction
3:50am - Jen and Josh agree on a name for their son
4:00am - Jen and Josh arrive at the hospital
4:30am - Jen labors in her room at the hospital
5:15am - Nurse Peggy and Dr. Sheppard enter the room
5:20am - Dr. Sheppard examines Jen and declares that she is fully dialated
5:30am - Jen begins to push
6:02am - Mason Jonah is born
6:02am - Josh and Jen begin to freak out...just a little


Peggy is from Louisiana. Peggy was only engaged for 45 days before she was married. Peggy married a king. Peggy is a nurse. She was our nurse for delivery. It was said about Peggy, "People love her or can't stand her." WE LOVED PEGGY! At one point during Jen's labor, Jen rammed her leg up on the doctors sterile table. The doctor grew concerned that the sterile table was being compromised with the invasion of Jen's foot. Peggy simply said, "It's her foot! She can get it up in her stuff if she likes!" With her sassy commentary, moves of a pro, and southern appeal, Peggy made our stay in Labor and Delivery most memorable! Well, Peggy and the new baby boy!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fatigue...for a good cause

I just got home from the hospital. I have had about 6 hours of total sleep in the past 2 days. My head aches. My back burns. But my heart breaks that I am not with my son. I hope all goes well tomorrow and he and Jen can come home. The house is cold and lonesome. Come home soon, Mason!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why "The Big, Brown Lawn?"

My wife and I just extended our family with the birth of our first child, Mason. He is the real purpose of this blog. The title of the blog is not really all that important, but I do believe it should be explained. I am sitting at home now while my wife, Jen, and Mason are resting at the hospital, and since I would rather be with them right now, and not just sitting at home, you will have to wait for an explanation of "The Big, Brown Lawn."

Here is what you need to know:

Mason Jonah
October 14, 2006
6 lbs 7oz

Jen, Josh, & Mason