January 2006

  • Kyle Half-Elven


    Kyle Half-ElvenLaura and I have noticed that Kyle has somewhat pointy ears, as shown in the photograph below. This leads us to believe that he is at least part elf. 1Keep your Vulcan mouth shut, Trekkie.

    If Kyle is part elf, then it stands to reason that one of his parents also has elven blood running through their veins, but which one? Neither of us has pointed ears, nor do we seem to resemble elves in any other respect. 2I have a goatee. Have you ever seen an elf with a goatee? Didn’t think so. We’re not terribly graceful, and we’ve achieved maturity 3I’m using the term loosely. far more quickly than the long-lived race normally does.

    Laura is half Colombian, but she is also very fair-skinned. Could the lack of melanin in her dermis be explained by heretofore undiscovered elven heritage? Perhaps, but Laura has done some fairly extensive research into her genealogy and has yet to stumble across anything to suggest that she is descended from the Firstborn.

    I, on the other hand, can only trace my ancestry back a couple of generations, 4Granted, I haven’t exactly researched my lineage. but what I do know about my forebears is that they were primarily Finnish. This is very telling, because it is well-known that the High elvish language, Quenya, has striking similarities to the Finnish language. 5Really. It’s well-known.

    Is this enough to conclude that I am the source of the elven blood coursing through Kyle’s veins? Probably not for science, but it’s enough for me. When the boy comes of age, he will accompany me across the sea to the Grey Havens, which I imagine will be a lot like Disney World.

    1 Keep your Vulcan mouth shut, Trekkie.
    2 I have a goatee. Have you ever seen an elf with a goatee? Didn’t think so.
    3 I’m using the term loosely.
    4 Granted, I haven’t exactly researched my lineage.
    5 Really. It’s well-known.
  • Weird Habits


    Codeshaman tagged me with this silliness, and though I generally don’t participate in this sort of stuff at KJToo.com, I’m making an exception. I don’t know why.

    The Rules: The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You have been tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

    1. I’m extremely disorganized, but every once in a while I organize the living hell out of something. I create a wholly-unnecessary spreadsheet of all my PC and Xbox games about once every two or three years.
    2. If I’m channel-surfing and I see that the movie Predator is on, I’ll watch it, whether it just started or it’s halfway through. This despite the fact I own the DVD.
    3. I will pick up a “hobby” on a whim and pursue it very determinedly until the next shiny thing catches my eye. Darts is a good example of this.
    4. When I’m in a video-gaming mood but don’t want to get too involved in playing a game, I’ll play Spider Solitaire. This almost invariably leads to two solid hours of playing solitaire on the computer.
    5. I used to claim that I “went to high school with a guy/girl named” whoever Laura and I happened to be talking about at the time. She got so annoyed with me that I told her I’d stop doing it, and I did. I told her that this might work for some other things I do that she finds annoying, but I don’t think she believes me.

    Now, who to tag? How about blob, Yotto, TechnoHippyBiker, Jude and Sudrin.

  • Welcome to Parenthood: Home Sweet Home


    As I mentioned last Friday, Kyle is now home from the hospital. He spent six days at the Children’s Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with him. the best guess anyone could give us is that he had a bad reaction to the formula he was given at LakeWest to bring his blood sugar up.

    We’ve now had a four-night sampling of what is to come, and we’ve seen both extremes, I think. On Friday and Saturday night, Kyle slept in four-hour stints, which is pretty much what we were shooting for. Sunday and Monday night, he was a bit fussy. He’d cry, we’d pick him up and take care of whichever orifice needed attention, get him all settled down, put him back in the bassinet… and five minutes later have to do it all over again. This did not make for a very restful night. Or two.

    In related news, my mother was babysitting my eldest brother’s (that’s you, Thagg) boys in Toledo over the weekend. Toledo is about eleven hours from my parents’ house and about two hours from ours, so it seemed only logical that she swing by for a visit before heading back to the U.P. It also gave my sister-in-law and nephews an excuse to see their newest nephew and cousin, respectively.

    So, while I catch up on my correspondence, Laura has been making phone calls and my mother has been cuddling her newest grandchild (she has seven, now) and cleaning the floors. She also made coffee and cinnamon rolls this morning, which made for a pleasant treat when I finally got out of bed at noon. Hurrah for mothers and grandmothers!

    Coming soon: a return to the type of nerdliness you may have come to expect from me. I’ve got a review of The Forty Year Old Virgin in the works and the TiVo is recording Mr. and Mrs. Smith from pay-per-view as I write this. Also, I’ve been tagged by Codeshaman to discuss five of my weird habits, and I want to prattle on about George R.R. Martin a bit.

  • Welcome to Parenthood: Homecoming


    Kyle is home.

    That is all.

  • Welcome to Parenthood: Progress Report 2


    The days are kind of blurring together, and I didn’t realize that it had been so long since I posted an update. Kyle has been eating very well, so the doctors have been changing his feeding schedule and the amount he is fed throughout the week. He started on 10cc of milk or formula every three hours, which was elevated to 20cc, then 50cc. Now he is “ad lib, on demand,” meaning he gets fed as much as he wants, as often as he wants it. When I called to check on him this morning, the nurse said that he had been eating 100cc at a shot through the night, but backed down to about 60cc (2 oz.) this morning.

    The nutrient and lipid IVs were turned off a couple days ago, though they haven’t removed the IV tube just yet. After Kyle kicked the IV out a couple of times, the nurses put the tube in his left hand, where it has stayed pretty well. I’m hoping they’ll actually remove it today, though.

    The nurse I talked to this morning said Kyle would most likely be discharged tomorrow, but it has been very frustrating to have one person tell us “Thursday or Friday” at 2PM, then another say “Friday or Saturday” at 6PM. The difference between Thursday and Saturday may not seem like much to them, but it’s huge to us.

    That’s about it. Hopefully, the next time I post it’ll be to say that Kyle is home with his mom and dad (and Rosie & Gil).

  • Welcome to Parenthood: Progress Report


    First off, let me thank everyone for the congratulations, well wishes, prayers and warm thoughts. Spending the last couple of days running back and forth to the Cleveland Clinic hasn’t been fun, and Laura and I have both been very frazzled, emotional and exhausted. But we’re also feeling incredibly lucky. All around the NICU are babies who are in far, far worse shape than Kyle. One little girl was on a respirator until this afternoon. Today, two more babies were transferred from other hospitals, one of which was born only twenty-four weeks into the pregnancy. A baby in the room Kyle was moved to this evening has been at the Clinic for two months, and may have had a stroke. As gut-wrenching as this whole experience has been for us, we realize that it could have been much, much worse.

    This morning, the tube that was draining Kyle’s stomach (I forget what they called the thing, but it sounded like one of the moons of Jupiter, or something) was removed. Also removed was the antibiotic from his IV. He’s still getting nutrients and lipids intravenously, but the doctors are now confident that he doesn’t have an infection.

    This evening, Kyle took another stab at nursing. Though that didn’t go quite so well as we’d hoped (he was too impatient), he did get some breast milk mixed in with his soy formula at 9:00. We’re hoping to deliver another dose of mom’s milk when we head over to the Clinic tomorrow morning. We’re also hoping that he doesn’t have any further digestion issues so we can take him home ASAP.

  • Welcome to Parenthood: Our First Speed Bump


    Things have not gone very smoothly since Friday. I guess once in a while we need a little reminder that we are Not in Charge.

    Kyle had some trouble keeping food down Saturday morning. He was spitting up and his stomach was noticably distended. An x-ray revealed what appeared to be a blockage in the small intestine. A neonatologist decided that it would be best if Kyle were moved from Lake West to the Children’s Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic, and that’s just what happened Saturday afternoon.

    Once we received a call indicating that Kyle had arrived safely, Laura’s mother and I went to the Cleveland Clinic (Laura, still recovering from her c-section, had not yet gotten out of bed). Though hooked up to an IV, a tube to drain his stomach and a host of sensors, Kyle did not appear to be in any distress or uncomfortable at all.

    The Clinic performed an upper G.I. as well as a barium enema, and we were greatly relieved when they told us that there did not appear to be any structural problems with Kyle’s intestines, and that they could almost certainly rule out the need for surgical correction.

    Laura was discharged from Lake West yesterday morning, and we drove down to the Clinic shortly after that. Kyle was sleeping, but the nurses removed the sensors as well as the tube from his stomach so Laura and I could hold him. Apart from the wires and tubes and a few spots of rash here and there (which I’m told is normal in newborns), he looks to be perfectly fine. His situation isn’t life-threatening, but it’s serious enough that they are watching him closely.

    As of last night, doctors were not certain whether the problem is an infection or a severe feeding reaction. There is also still a slight possibility that it is a blockage that must be corrected through surgery, but the doctors we have spoken to seem to think it is highly unlikely. Whatever the case, he is on antibiotics right now and is not being fed orally (which had a tendency to make him a little cranky now and then).

    I called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) this morning and the nurse told me that the tube has been removed from Kyle’s stomach, and the distension has not increased. I also learned that Cleveland Clinic was apparently unaware that Kyle had been fed formula on the 13th. He was given formula (by me) because his blood sugar was low. The formula seemed to take care of the blood sugar problem, but may ultimately have been the cause of his digestive woes.

    We’re going to head over to the clinic a little later today, and maybe they’ll feed Kyle a little of Laura’s breast milk, which she has been pumping on a regular basis for the past couple of days. (Laura and I considered staying at the Clinic last night, but the lactation consultant thought it would be best if Laura slept in her own bed, so we came home.) The earliest Kyle is likely to be released is tomorrow, but nothing is certain at this point. We would certainly like to be able to take our little guy home with us as soon as possible.

  • Presenting Kyle Abraham Johnson


    At 12:54pm on the afternoon of 13 January 2006, Kyle Abraham Johnson 1Not “Diamond Neil Johnson.” I’m afraid that was a little mischief Laura and I cooked up for the benefit of those who really, really wanted to know his name ahead of time. was delivered by Caesarian section. Kyle weighed 8 lbs, 5.9 oz. at birth, and measured 20″ in length. His hair is dark blond, his eyes are blue and he has ten fingers, ten toes, two ears, two eyes, one nose and one mouth. 2And two testicles. I was there when the nurse counted them.

    Kyle has a healthy set of lungs, which he put to good use mere moments after being removed from his growth chamber. He is doing very well, as is his extremely proud (not to mention entirely awesome) mother.

    As today is Friday the 13th, I thought there was really only one way to properly present my son to the world.

    1 Not “Diamond Neil Johnson.” I’m afraid that was a little mischief Laura and I cooked up for the benefit of those who really, really wanted to know his name ahead of time.
    2 And two testicles. I was there when the nurse counted them.
  • Readiness Report: What’s in a name?


    Over the years, Laura and I have discussed the topic of baby names several times. Since early in our relationship, Laura had favored the names “Olivia” and “Luke.” However, a few years ago it seemed that everyone was naming their baby girl “Olivia,” and the name lost some of its appeal to us. Shortly after we found out Laura was pregnant, I asked her if she was still considering “Luke” as a boy’s name. Truth be told, that name had also lost its appeal for me. I was relieved when Laura replied that it was no longer a contender.

    We then had a couple of long conversations about new alternatives for naming the baby. As is fairly common, we agreed that the name (or, at the very least, part of it) should have some ethnic/cultural significance to both the Johnson and Sperry families. Laura’s mother is Colombian, and her paternal grandmother’s family is Scandinavian. Most of my ancestors hailed from Finland. Unfortunately, our combined family trees did not yield any one name with which we could honor both clans. Simply glancing at the range of family surnames (Garzon, Peña, Sperry, Carlson, and Johnson, Komula, Niemi, Mikkola) reveals that there’s not bound to be a lot of common ground. Thus, the task before us was daunting. Learning that the baby is a boy should have simplified matters, but we still had no real starting point. Yet it remained of primary importance to us both that we instill our son with a sense of his varied lineage.

    Whatever we chose, Laura decided early on that we wouldn’t tell anyone until after the baby was born. She didn’t want our selection to be criticized or second-guessed by friends and family, as often occurs. By keeping the name a secret, Laura hoped to eliminate any opportunity for debate until it was too late – once the child is born and officially named by his parents, who would dare quibble with us?

    The logic sounded reasonable, at first, but it turns out that there are a lot of people who really want to know what our son’s name will be. They have tried, through straightforward questioning and downright trickery to get us to reveal the name. “I want to monogram his gift,” they said. Or a simple, “so, what’s the baby’s name?” interjected into an entirely unrelated conversation. It was as though our friends and family had turned into starving dogs, and Laura and I had the last soup bone left on the planet. Well, in these final days, our collective resolve has weakened. We’ve decided that there is no harm in revealing the name now, but no one — be they blood or not — will convince us to change the name we so painstakingly selected.

    The time between four home pregnancy tests returning positive results and the ultrasound was filled with baby conversations. At first, Laura wasn’t absolutely convinced that there was a person growing inside her, but that didn’t stop us from talking about it. A day or two before the ultrasound, we were having dinner at The San Francisco Oven and we returned to the subject of names. We both threw out a few suggestions, but nothing stuck. The difficulty of finding the perfect combination of first and middle names that would resonate with our respective families was proving all but impossible to overcome. We mulled over middle names starting with our fathers and my mother (Laura’s mother has no middle name), then going back to grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Laura has spent significant time researching her genealogy over the last few years, so she had a lot of names to choose from, whereas my knowledge of my own family tree only goes back a few generations.

    After a good deal of discussion and a fair amount of frustration, we started over with yet another interesting strategy. We’d heard of some couples combining their first names to form an entirely unique name — an acquaintance named “Jonobie” (whose name is a combination of “Jon” and “Obie,” both of which I’m probably spelling incorrectly [EDIT: See comments for correct spelling.]) comes to mind. Also, Laura had a friend in grade school named “Rhonda” whose parents were Ron and Linda. Alas, “Laura” and “Kris” don’t easily combine to form anything. Once again, we traversed our family trees to see if some combination would create something that we liked. Unfortunately, nothing was working. “Zorandra” and “Wilhold” (i.e., Zoraida/Sandra, Wilhart/Harold) and the dozen or so other namemorphs we came up with sounded like monikers from a bad science fiction movie or, even worse, a Dungeons & Dragons gaming manual.

    We realized with great frustration that naming our firstborn would require us to stretch the limits, consider a new paradigm, perhaps even think outside the box. Eventually, we posed this key question: aside from ethnic heritage, what is an important cultural influence common to both families from which we could draw much-needed inspiration? And for the answer we needed to look no further than the two women who had given each of us life. In the end, it was our own mothers’ true musical passion that finally provided us with the perfect name combination for our son. An uncommon name? Yes. Unusual? Certainly. But — without doubt — we have chosen a name worthy and befitting the shared grandson of Sandra Johnson and Zoraida Sperry.

    We look forward to welcoming you, Diamond Neil Johnson.

  • Pimpage: Planet Retcon


    There’s a new link in the Blogroll, and if you like your science fiction with a twist of comedy (or vice versa), head over to Planet Retcon and download the first installment of Wesley Clifford’s new podcast, featuring the pilot episode of Stargate Cafe.

    Wesley is responsible for (among other things) introducing me to NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, and this year he bowed out of the challenge in order to get Planet Retcon up and running. The result of his hard work is a Stargate Cafe, and I’m thoroughly impressed with how good it sounds.

    Another reason I want to pimp Planet Retcon (and Stargate Cafe) is that it features the voice talent of the one and only blob, frequent commentor on the KJToo blog and contributor to the general madness that is the KJToo forums. Oh, and that Wesley Clifford fellow? He’s also known by his Intarweb nom de guerre (or nom de plume, if you must), Yotto. If that name doesn’t ring any bells, you probably don’t make a habit of visiting the aforementioned KJToo forums.

    Go. Download. Listen. Enjoy.