Lead Balloon

Merry Belated Christmas
December 28, 2007, 8:40 am
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I hope everyone had a safe, happy holiday. I hope that Santa brought you everything on your list, and in your letter to him. I hope it was all wrapped up real nice with a big bow on it, and you ran downstairs early Christmas morning to find it sitting there, and your cookies – half eaten. Maybe even the reindeer’s carrot outside, also half eaten, right next to their tracks in the snow. Wait a minute, we have no snow. Todd thinks it’s just not Christmas without snow. I asked him if he’d hated Christmas his whole life, then, given that he grew up in Texas? No, he just doesn’t feel all “in the spirit” if there isn’t snow and sleigh bells ringing, apparently.

We had a wonderful Christmas with Natalie. I’m not so sure she’d think it was that great, though. Not only did we take her completely off her schedule for a long stretch of days, but we toted her around from house to house, city to city, and everyone who knows and/or loves her shared all their kisses and hugs and cold and sick germs with her. She now has a lovely, rattly cough in her chest and a head full of snot. Actually, she probably got it from me, because I’ve had it for about two months now. Nonetheless, I was thankful that all the family got to see her and spend time with her over the holiday.

She’s such a good baby, she slept through almost all of Christmas mass, and when she was awake she was wide-eyed and looking around, checking things out, happy as she could be. I was paranoid that she’d wake up and start screaming right in the middle of it, but she pulled through and surprised me, yet again, with her perfectness. We visited the church where Todd and I met and were married. It was nice seeing old faces and friends. Apparently, the incense at church doesn’t bother her too much, however she smelled like it for the rest of the night after we got home. Either that, or, she’d been smoking a big fat doob and was trying to cover the smell in her crib, yo.

When we stay at my mom’s house, who gets to bathe her and when is a pretty big deal. Todd and I can’t bathe her, as my mom and sister have to do all the bathing while we’re there. It’s one of their favorite things to do. My sister bathed her one day and styled her hair into a beautiful mohawk, which stayed through the night and into the next day. She loved it, as you can see in this picture:

Nat Mohawk

I would say that this year was the Year of the Gift Card, given how easy gift cards are to purchase now at every grocery store. These were quick and easy gifts for us to give and to receive. Like my friend Mary says, “I hate giving them, but I love receiving them.” It’s true – it seems like such a thoughtless gift, but man, they’re nice to have. What does it say about me that I received a total of $50 worth of Luby’s gift cards??? That I’m an 80 year old woman trapped in a 31 year-old’s body? I think so. Thank you Jesus for Luby’s pea salad. I got gift cards to other restaurants, to movie theaters, for a massage…glorious.

But it’s back to the grind now. I’ve been back at work (and actually working, unlike a lot of people who I think are able to go back to work and enjoy the calm that follows a holiday for a few days) since the 26th. Lots to do before the end of the year, and being on maternity leave for 9 weeks right before the holidays means even more work for me. But that’s good. It means I’m not out shopping and spending money! Once work is done, though, I’ve got to get out there and use some of these gift cards.

Merry Day!


Meet Dash
December 19, 2007, 2:47 pm
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Dash was born on Monday afternoon at 2:14 pm. 7 lbs, 5 oz and 19 inches long.


Dash looks EXACTLY like his brother Drake looked when he was born. Literally, carbon copy, with the exception of his hair color. I’ve not seen him yet because I’ve got a cold that is apparently fiercely contagious. But I’m dying to get my hands on the little guy. SOON!

His mother, Kelly, and I have decided that if I can do the “pregnancy part” and she can do the “delivery part” that we’d be the perfect team for populating the world. Kelly has the best, easiest deliveries known to man. So easy, in fact, that I’m considering making her the surrogate for my next child. I’m kidding. Sort of.

Congrats to the entire Varner family! If this little one is half as sweet and funny and cute and well-behaved as the first baby boy, they’re in for a fun ride.

Usability Rant
December 13, 2007, 9:25 am
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My hubby is a Usability Analyst. His company tests things – all sorts of things – to see if they are usable to the typical end user. Mostly, they test the navigability and usability of Web site and Web site applications, but they also test things like home printers and the instructions that come with them for installation. Do they make sense? Can a grandma do it? They test cell phones, calculators, everything.

I’ve been doing usability testing in my own career for the past six or seven years. But it wasn’t until Todd joined the usability ranks that I started to really see the design flaws of everyday tools and objects. Today, while I was puchasing some ink cartridges at OfficeMax, I realized just how confusing some of the credit card processing machines are at the checkout counters of retail places. It’s not so much that they’re confusing or difficult to use, it’s that they’re all completely different from one another. You go to the grocery store and you have to swipe, sign, and “accept”. You go somewhere else and you have to swipe, “accept” the amount, then sign, then hit “ok”. On some, you hit the green button, on others the cashier wants you to wait and hit the yellow button when they’re done doing their thing. Then there are those that say “please hand your card to the cashier”, but that cashier never asks you for your card. But the WORST ones are those that, once you swipe your “credit” card it automatically defaults to a debit screen and prompts you to enter your PIN, even though you want to use “credit”. Instead of a “CREDIT” button you are supposed to hit “CANCEL”, or in some cases, just “ENTER” in order to process it as a credit card and not a debit card. That’s just completely confusing. Why would anyone use the word “CANCEL” as a way to move from debit to credit? “CANCEL” means it’s the end of the transaction! It means, “NO! I JUST REALIZED I DON’T NEED THOSE SANTA SLIPPERS!!! CANCEL!!! ABORT! ABORT!” It’s crazy.

Most of the time, I find myself hitting the opposite of the “accept” button because it’s green or it’s on the right hand side where the “accept” button is supposed to be. I’m usually in a hurry – but this just jacks up the whole check out process. The cashier gets frustated with ME, I get frustrated with the machine, then the ten people in line behind me hate me and want to run over me with their cars out in the parking lot.

I don’t get why they can’t all just be the same. And before they streamline them and make them the same in all places, they need to test those bad boys. Don’t even get me started on the little “signature” area which doesn’t really record your signature at all. I’ve started signing it “Britney Spears”, “Forrest Gump”, or “Rebecca De Mornay” and such, just because I can and it doesn’t mean a damned thing that I, Lauri Luckey, am “approving” the transaction there on that machine and with that card.

December 11, 2007, 8:59 pm
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My sister bought us a calendar made especially for keeping track of baby’s milestones – first tooth, first outing, rolled over, says “mama”, etc. It’s really cute, and I’ve been filling it out pretty regularly since Natalie was born, something I’m quite proud of and something I think I’ll be so thankful for when she’s older. I have my baby book that my mom kept after I was born, and I can remember when I was a little girl I used to love to go and pull the book from the bookshelf in the living room and look through it. It was like I was trying to “get to know” this person, this baby Lauri that I’d never met. I loved the details that she kept, and those details actually helped me in a 6th grade class where we had to chart our lives on a timeline. I was the only one in the class who was able to chart “laughed out loud” and “rolled over” on my timeline. I think I got extra credit for that.

This week has been a big week for her – she’s experiencing her first real cold, she slept through the night and she’s starting to really talk to us…On purpose.

Her cold…Makes me very sad. I feel like I gave it to her. I’ve got a cold that I can’t shake – some days I start to feel better and other days it seems like it’s getting worse. I hear it’s going around. Our pediatrician, I’m sure, would say she picked it up at school. But she’s been living with one big cold germ for the past two weeks…and that person also loves to hold her close and let her sleep in her arms. I’ve not been kissing on her, but come on…It’s totally my fault. At night when I hear her in there with her tiny nose all stopped up, breathing through precious snot, I cringe a little knowing that a) poor thing can’t blow her nose herself and b) it’s totally my fault that she’s in that situation. Even if she DID pick it up at school…That, too, would be my fault. We do use the nasal aspirator – that bulb-like instrument that makes you feel like you’re sucking brain tissue through her nose. And it doesn’t seem to work that well, but we continue to torture her with it.

A few nights ago, she slept through the night for the first time. She went down around 7:30 pm and slept until around 4:30 am. We thought this was pretty amazing – right after I realized I hadn’t killed her. I sat up in bed, gasping for air, wondering if we’d neglected to check on her or slept through her cries. Todd was all, “Calm down, she just slept through the night…this is a good thing.” He said this as I was running into her room to check her breathing. She was fine. I actually woke her up that morning, she might’ve slept longer if I’d just left her alone. Then we thought this was a fluke, a one-time thing, her being so tired from school that she needed the rest. Then last night…she slept for 11 hours straight! Unfortunately, I didn’t. So while this was great for her, I didn’t get to enjoy the good things that come for the parents of a baby sleeping through the night. I was up all night listening to her snotty nose and wondering if she’d be blaming me for that snotty sleep this morning. Pointing that tiny, chubby little finger at me. But no, she woke up in a good mood, just a little hungry. It’s weird how she loves us and smiles at us, even when we’re sucking her brains out and torturing her with things like saline nose drops.

Oh, her little noises. For the past month she’s really been trying to “coo” at us. She wants so badly to “talk” to us she starts kicking her legs and waving her arms around, and moving her mouth into what she thinks is the same shape our lips are in as we’re talking to her. Her whole body tries to coo – and she’ll try and try and try and then just sigh out of exhaustion. Sometimes, little noises here and there will escape, and those make her extremely happy. Us, too. Last night, though…she really found her voice. Our favorite thing lately is bath time every night. We bathe her together and now that she’s really enjoying her bath, this is really a fun time for us. Once the bath is done we take her into her room and lube her up with a really good baby massage then dress her in her jammies and get her ready for bed. Todd put her into her bed after last night’s ritual so that she could adore the extremely fascinating mobile and he started talking to her. She loves to hear him talk. (I could go on about how she loves EVERYTHING about him and how she smiles whenever he’s within a 10 foot radius of her, but I’ll let that one lie for a moment.) She was just lying there, kicking those legs and waving those arms…and it happened. She got the noise out! And lots of it! LOTS of it. But, of course, not enough so that she’d still be going after I ran downstairs to get the video camera.

We were kind of stunned by it, speechless. Then we started to look at her then back and forth at each other as if something really groundbreaking just happened, or was happening. Of course, to us, it was groundbreaking. We were so proud and excited about it that I understood in that one little moment what everyone told us about having children, before we had children. They change your life. And it’s just so true and in so many ways… It’s amazing. Sure, we miss being able to go out to eat at the drop of a hat or spontaneously doing…ANYTHING. But who cares!? I keep waiting for the “tough times” or the “hard stuff”, wondering how we’ll deal with it or what, exactly, people mean by that? But it never comes. We’re loving every minute of it.

I don’t see how anything can top hearing the sound of her “voice” for the first time…But then again, I know there’s so much more to come. What an amazing, miraculous creature she is. A clean slate…adding little files to her mental rolodex every minute. It’s really just the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen.

1st Week of School – 10 Weeks

Today is MUCH Better
December 4, 2007, 12:32 pm
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First of all, when I picked her up from school yesterday she wasn’t bleeding from her eyeballs, she was still breathing. All was well. She was, however, crying when I got there. Her face was actually covered up with her blanket as she was sitting in the bouncy seat. Now, I know this was just one “moment in time” that I walked into – it’s probably happened 200 times at my house. Now that she has some control over her hands she always pulls blankets and such up to her face. Of course, my initial thought was that they were trying to suffocate her all day and their efforts just weren’t working. I picked her up immediately and she was happy. Got home, and she slept – she was exhausted!

After we got home I thought that she smelled a bit like a daycare and wanted to bathe her immediately. But I didn’t – I didn’t want to seem too neurotic and crazy. But when Todd got home and picked her up he said, “I’m going to go give her a bath.” Wonderful!

She slept well last night and was just fine when I dropped her off this morning.

Today is also better because the normal “teacher” for the infant “classroom” was there today. She was out sick yesterday and I’d never met her before. She absolutely warmed my heart today. She seemed less like an employee there and more like someone who LOVES caring for babies. Just so sweet, caring, nurturing. I left there, not in tears, but smiling and glad Natalie was in good hands.

I’m still counting down the hours until I can go pick her up, though. I wonder if that ever ends?

December 3, 2007, 1:20 pm
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