December 30, 2008

New Site!

It's time the O'Zee go back to political musings and other random ramblings.  Ciaran has his own site now!  Please check out Ciaran's Adventures (and change your RSS feeds/bookmarks/links) . There are all sorts of photo albums, videos, and even a catalog of my old posts from this site. Enjoy -- and visit (both of these sites) soon!

December 19, 2008


Ciaran is quite the goof... not only did he discover his feet, he likes to be tickled with them!

December 11, 2008

Dad & Son

Yay for Playtime!

December 9, 2008

My Big Li'l Guy

Ciaran had his 4-month pediatrician appointment today. No big surprise: he's one big dude. Weighing in at 18 pounds, 5 ounces, he is 28 inches long -- 90th and 99th percentile, respectively.  The nurse said that I must be feeding him Miracle Gro. How did she know?

December 8, 2008

The Elephant

Ciaran has fallen in love with his ExerSaucer. (Thanks, Mathews Family!) There are so many toys, and when one squeaks or rattles, it just about blows his little mind.  
But the play-time thing can't be all fun and games. Ciaran decided to have a vendetta against Mr. Elephant (who is not to be confused with Herr Elephant on his bouncy seat -- they have a long-standing friendship). 
First the stare-down... Then the grab...

Almost there... Gotcha!  Ha!

Ciaran - 1, Mr. Elephant - 0.

Stink face


How could you NOT fall in love with this little guy?

November 24, 2008

You talkin' to me?

Who, me? Nah, I'm just chillin'. 

November 10, 2008

Three Months Old!

To celebrate Ciaran's 3 month birthday we did a photo shoot -- as nunga punga as his unpredictable sprays would allow.  It's his favorite thing to get and be naked; when we change his diaper, but especially when we take off his shirt, he squeals in delight! In fact, it was getting naked that inspired his first giggle. 

 Who knew we'd have an exhibitionist for a son?  Enjoy it while it's still cute, kiddo!

Other than being irresistibly adorable, Ciaran is doing lots of fun things which lead us, as completely neutral observers, to conclude that he is absolutely brilliant. First, he's grasping at objects, and sometimes even pulling them to his mouth.  he loves his play mat, with the toys and mirror above him. And he's no match for his swing -- we put him in there, and it's lights out. Speaking of shut-eye, he's sleeping between 4 and 8 hours at night -- obviously still trying to figure out his schedule, and keeping us on our proverbial (and sleepy) toes.  He's still figuring out which part of his hand (and, for that matter, which hand!) he likes best to suck on (generally the pacifiers just don't do it for him). It's the cutest when he "finds" his thumb; but his three fingers (leaving the pinky out for effect) is a close second. As you can see, he's getting pudgy, and holding his head pretty steady, and smiling and talking all the time.  We have long conversations, mostly about his day but sometimes what he thinks on the issues. (At least that's how it goes in my head.) 

After 3 short months, it's hard to imagine life without him: he just belongs. Happy Birthday, Little Mister!

Hey, look what I did!

It all started like perfectly normal Tummy Time: lots of squirming, that fun baby doing exactly what I'm doing right in front of my face, and those rude attempts to put me on my back again. But then...

all of the sudden I was kind-of tipping in one direction. I figured I'd see what my arms and legs could do about this situation...

...and suddenly I was on my back -- only this time Mommy didn't push me. I did it all by myself!  I was a little startled...

...but Mom and Dad kept smiling and clapping, like it was the greatest thing on earth. So I smiled and went along with it, although I'm really not sure what the big deal is. It's not like I was about to do it again!

November 8, 2008


Congrats to Tom and Julie, SO'B's brother and now-sister-in-law, who tied the knot on November 1! The festivities were great fun. They got married at Callenwolde, the mansion of one of the Coke founder's sons. Gorgeous.

The rehearsal dinner afforded Ciaran the opportunity to dress up for Halloween (no candy yet, though...except second-hand!).

First: Up, up and away! (Thanks, Julie & Mark!)

Then, the giraffe (he is tall, after all...):

Ciaran loved hanging out with his Mimi...

...who cracked him up endlessly!

All the activity -- and the excitement of being universally adored -- sure did make him sleepy. He actually slept for a continuous 8 hours one night!

Thanks, Mimi & Pop, Dado & Mamo & the whole family for a great weekend.
And thanks to Gabi, Ann & Mary for wonderful pictures!

Dadó & Mamó

Ciaran met Sean's dad and stepmother for the first time in Atlanta last weekend!  They decided their grandparent names would be the Irish names for grandpa and grandma -- only we didn't know what they were... So a quick call to Sean's friend and colleague, who grew up speaking Irish, and John and Connie became Dado and Nano.  
Here is Dado: 

and Mamo: 

and the happy clan (with Uncle Kevin and Aunt Mary): 

November 4, 2008

This kid knows what he wants:


Ciaran needs a change!

October 18, 2008


Ciaran begin his illustrious musical career:

October 15, 2008

Conversations with Ciaran

Our conversations go something like this:
Me: "Hi, Ciaran"
Him: "Ah."
Me: "Oh, really?"
Him: "Ah-i."
Me: "What else?"
Him: "Ah-o."
Me: "You don't say..."
Him: "Ah. Ah-i."

It goes on like this, sometimes for minutes at a time. He's usually smiling the whole time, delighted to be communicating in such a sophisticated manner.

And--this is beyond cute--when I sing to him he sings too, ah-ing right along with me, occasionally even hitting a harmonic note.

They grow up so fast... before I know it he'll be in a garage band.

October 10, 2008

Smiley O'Brien

Here's the happy kid on his 2 month birthday! We went to the doctor on Tuesday, and he is 14 pounds, and just over 26 inches long (how about that, 98th percentile)! He's happy and healthy as can be, and we couldn't be more overjoyed.

In addition to being incredibly adorable, Ciaran (or as I have taken to calling him, "Little Mister") is holding his head up and steady like a champ, lifting his head and neck up almost upright while on his tummy, cooing, tracking objects by sound and sight, and making his parents super-proud all the time.

Mommy's gonna try for her first "run" today, too! I can't wait to hit the great outdoors.

September 13, 2008


Like father, like son. This is Sean as a baby:

Little Irishman

Notre Dame has a new die hard fan!
He's smiling at the 3rd touchdown by the Irish in the first quarter against Michigan...

(Shout-out to cousins Chuck and Ann -- thanks for the adorable burp cloths!)

Reusable Diapers -- They're Easier Than You Think!

They may look a little goofy, but they're great!

Bum Genius diapers, washable and reusable one-size all-in-one diapers, are so cute (if a little bulky on a newborn). While Pampers leaked all the time, these hardly ever do -- and if they do it's because we put them on too loosely. They're also really soft -- softer than disposables -- and keep Ciaran dry enough with the microfiber absorbent inserts and the wicking fabric against his skin. The outer part, built into the diaper (so no plastic pants needed), are also soft -- but waterproof too.

They're easy to wash (cold wash, followed by a hot wash with an extra rinse), and they use very little detergent. Dry for a cycle in the dryer and we're all set -- only one load per day! Breast milk poop is water soluble, so there's no rinsing or soaking required. When this is no longer the case, we have a diaper sprayer (like a sink sprayer) that attaches to the toilet, so rinsing will be easy.

They're a hefty investment (running about $18 each), but it's still far less expensive than disposals, which run between $2000 and $3000 during the diapering life of the average baby. (If you have more than one kid, these really start to save you some serious cashola.) They're even better when you consider the environmental costs and the presence of toxins in disposables. Sure they're slightly less convenient than disposables, but not enough to make the other costs worth while. Oh -- and we use cotton reusable wipes, too! They stay moist and comfy with a diaper warmer, which has an anti-microbal insert. We just throw them with the diapers in a regular waste basket lined with a waterproof liner (which goes in the wash right with the diapers).

Some people say that reusable diapers are just as bad environmentally as disposables, and they have a point: the washing uses a lot of water and energy. But we have a front-loading Energy Star washer which cuts both water and energy use by quite a bit. And imagine thousands of diapers in a landfill for 500 years! And that's just for ONE baby! Nothing is perfect, everything has costs and benefits. But these are really great, and that'll have to be good enough for now.

More Family!

Last Sunday my sister, Renee, brought her kids down to see Ciaran. (Seth didn't come, though, because he's "not that into babies." His words.) There was lots of lovin', and even a walk to the park. Grandma and Grandpa also made an appearance. So much fun! Thanks, Renee!

August 30, 2008


Ciaran got to meet his Dershem cousins today! As you can see, he took it all in stride...

It all tired him out (even though he slept through it), so Mimi obliged him with a happy nap:

Ah, a day in the life of a newborn.

Forgive me, I've been busy.

It's amazing how much time changing poopie diapers takes.

Ciaran is 3 weeks old now, and growing so fast! I can hardly believe there was life before this little guy made his grand entrance.

And what an entrance it was ... After 48 hours of labor, he was born by emergency C-Section at 9:11 on Sunday, August 10, 2008. He was a great big kid -- 9 pounds 6 ounces and 22 1/2 inches long!

I'll post a few pics here, but there are lots more at our growing gallery of Ciaran pictures at the link on the right.

And you can consider this my return to the blogging world, now that the fog of newborn-mommyhood is slowly wearing off...

August 7, 2008

41 Weeks, 1 Day

Seriously, this has gotta end.

Induction is scheduled for Friday night/Saturday morning.

Unless my uterus blessed me be squeezing out this kid sooner. Oh, the happy thought.

August 5, 2008

Hot, Humid and Overdue = Impossibly Cranky Pregnant Lady

Six days overdue now, and though I had a lot of encouraging contractions last night, they petered out when I went to bed. We've scheduled an induction for Friday night, but we really hope this kid will find his way out before then.  We'll see how the spicy Indian curry work this evening.  

August 3, 2008

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Yet another trip to the hospital, and home again. This time it was because Ciaran was just so still for so long, I started to get worried. Spurred on by our doctor's insistence that there's no such thing as crying wolf too much at this stage, Sean and I decided to call the doctor, who recommended we go in to the hospital for a non-stress test. 

After a few words with the intake guy in the ER, who was (a) lackadaisical (at best) and (b) seemingly incompetent (looking me up twice to no avail, and failing to take down our insurance information despite the insurance card we handed him), we headed up to the Labor and Delivery unit. The non-stress test consists of two monitors on my belly, one measuring contractions and the other measuring the baby's movement and heart rate. Just about as soon as I was hooked up Ciaran started boogying, which was great.  And I had several (weak) contractions, pretty regular, but not strong or regular enough to stick around.

Who knows, maybe I'll be back sooner rather than later. What was great to know is that the nurses were fantastic and made me feel like we did the right thing coming in. 

July 31, 2008


I was wondering what our little BO'B widget would do when I passed my due date... now we're counting up, apparently.  

July 30, 2008


Due date feels like any other day. 

July 29, 2008

Awaiting Arrival

Due date is tomorrow, yet we still have no sign of labor. We are now visiting the doctor twice a week and he may induce next Tuesday if the little one still refuses to show himself.

In the meantime here are some stolen moments from the ultrasound. Zee says he looks like me. I hope he favors his mother.

Zee has gathered a lot of suggestions for how to encourage our son--many of which seem to involve baked goods. She experienced a number of strong contractions whilst shopping at Value City this afternoon, so perhaps further adventures in egregious frugality will expedite this process.

Fingers crossed.

July 25, 2008

Still No Kid

You'll notice the widget to your right says "5 days."  Well, at our last appointment the doctor made me feel like I'm actually going backwards!  Still 50% effaced, but the kid apparently isn't yet "engaged" in my pelvis. And there's nothing else going on that might indicate impending birth. He's just happy as a clam in there. A friend whose due date was 1 day before mine already has her precious little girl, and I am nothing short of insanely envious.  My sister tells me that she had no signs of impending delivery until she went into labor. A friend was dilated to 1 cm for 3 weeks. Yet another friend's delivery seemed far-off until her water suddenly broke. 

All I can say is that these last weeks feel ETERNAL. Any suggestions how to coax this kid out???

July 17, 2008


During an otherwise lovely visit to Grand Rapids, where all of my siblings and my dad and step-mom had the very rare and wonderful opportunity to hang out together, I had a little scare. As I tried to go to sleep, my heart started to skip beats, beat very quickly and/or very slowly, and sometimes pound, sometimes barely beat at all. It was all over the place.  I waited about 2 hours, hoping the trick my uncle taught me (he's a doctor) would work. Nope. So I called my OB and she said that I needed to go to the hospital. Right about the time we left for the hospital my heart rate regularized, but was still beating pretty fast. So Jeanne took me to the nearest ER.

Thankfully, having a giant pregnant belly gets one treated pretty quickly in the ER. We heard Ciaran's heartbeat -- strong and healthy (whew!), then geared up for some tests. They thought there was a possibility I had a  blood clot, apparently not uncommon (but still dangerous) during pregnancy. So I was hooked up to a heart monitor, and then had an EKG. There were two potential abnormalities, so they ordered a chest X-ray and a nuclear test where they (gulp) injected radioactive material into my blood and took pictures of my blood flow between my heart and lungs. 

As a very important side-note, all of these procedures were safe for the baby, especially as I am considered full-term. The radiation I had was less than a CAT Scan, and they halved the dose to make it even safer. And the ER doctor consulted my OB, so I felt okay about getting this all done -- well, as okay as I could.

The good news is all the tests came back normal. The bad news is they still don't know what the heck caused the irregularities in the first place.  Hopefully it won't come back... I don't have to know what it was as long as I don't have to go through that again! 

So I pulled an all-nighter, slept until lunch, and plan on a good night sleep tonight.

July 11, 2008


For any of you curious enough to get a video tour of the nursery... here it is! (Along with a great clip of Chris Thile music.)

July 9, 2008

37 Weeks

This is what 37 weeks pregnant looks like -- at least on me.

I'm also standing in Ciaran's nursery which, incidentally, is DONE!

You'll also notice that my hair is also nearly gone, which feels oh-so-good in the hot weather, and takes about 2.2 seconds to "do."

We went to the doctor, and Ciaran is still head-down, but not engaged (meaning that his head still float when the doctor checks my cervix). And there's absolutely no indication whatsoever that he wants to come out of my uterus any time soon. Being that I'm officially "full term," this is a little disconcerting for me, as I get more unwieldy and uncomfortable by the day. But as long as he's happy, I'm happy (with the possible exception of last night, when he was happily kicking me in the ribs while I was trying to get to sleep!).

Ah, the joys of pregnancy.

July 3, 2008

My Little Acrobat

Well, it's happened again... Ciaran flipped back to head-down!  We're very relieved, and pleased with the apparent acrobatic ability of our son. Today during the ultrasound he grabbed his foot, as if to show it off to the camera -- very cute. And we got good head shots for the first time too!  

According to the measurements (which are notoriously off, but still...) he is 6 pounds 12 ounces and is measuring a week ahead. If he makes it to term, we're looking at a solid 8-9 pound kid. Yikes.  And, being that there is no dilation as of yet, it looks like making it to term is a decent bet!

In other good, but completely unrelated, news: we got our first fresh-from-the-farm produce delivery today! Tons of strawberries, a pint each of bing cherries and blackberries, some pickling cucumbers, and a bunch of zucchini and summer squash... yum.  If you see me in the next two days, my hands and all around my face will likely be stained a beautiful, bright red.

June 25, 2008

A Wrench in the Works

Another week, another appointment with the doctor. This time the news wasn't so good: Ciaran went transverse -- his feet are down, and his butt and head are horizontal (and pretty high) in my belly. At least his latest position explains why I've been more uncomfortable the past few days. So there is a chance that he'll go back head-down, but there's also a chance he won't. So we're back to the uncertainty of what kind of delivery we'll have.

I have to admit, I got my hopes up that we could have a normal delivery -- we were getting well-versed on pain management techniques and childbirth options. Now I don't know what to do -- except wait. We have another scan in a week or so, and we'll know more then.

The good news: he looks very healthy and well, and that is, of course, the most important thing!

June 16, 2008

The Number 1 Thing You Didn't Know About Chocolate Chip Cookies

They are, in fact, younger than presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.  For more on this topic, see No, I'm not kidding.

June 13, 2008

The Woes of Nursery Furniture

I was so hoping for a finished nursery this week. We have everything we need -- diapers, clothes, toys, books, even furniture. No -- scratch that last one. Yesterday I opened the box and took out the crib components, only to find that two of the pieces were damaged. It took the wind out of my sails, and I left the nursery alone. Today SO'B and I boldly opened the changing table box. This time there were three damaged parts. 

So, we're waiting for new pieces to arrive for the crib (end of next week) and for a whole new changing table -- which is out of stock.  It "should" come in by the end of next week, and there are no extra charges, but the nursery remains in chaos for another week... at least. Do you know what that does to a nesting mom-to-be??? 

June 2, 2008


Me at 31 1/2 weeks:
This just in: I have one smart, acrobatic kid living in my belly: Ciaran turned head-down! That means, despite my uterine anomalies (which I get to read on my file each and every visit), I will likely have a normal delivery! YAY!

It also means that I have to pee more, but that's a small price to pay for not getting cut open.

Now, let mental preparations (and Kegels) for a vaginal delivery commence. The pain won't be so bad, right?

May 12, 2008

Oatmeal Bars

I've been coerced by my good friend, Grimsaburger, into sharing my Oatmeal Bar recipe with "the internets." Actually, to avoid reprimand by my sister, I should say that this is a recipe that she developed and we perfected together. But I'm the one that come up with fruity variations, which you will see below.

As Grims notes, they're not filled with butter, but they have lots of sugar (which you can cut back on, particularly in the fruity variety).

Preheat the oven to 375.

Spray a 9/13 baking dish (glass and metal both work fine) with non-stick spray.

Mix the following in a large bowl with a big spoon:
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (or a bit less, if you're adding fruit)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Fold in:
4 cups oats (I prefer the old fashioned variety to the quick oats)
1/2 bag chocolate chips*

Press into baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes; they should be gooey.

You can also add 1/2 to 1 cup peanut butter to the recipe above (yummy).

Or you can experiment with different fruits. I've added some peeled chopped apples (with some cinnamon and nutmeg to taste) and peeled, chopped peaches. Both are excellent. But lots of fruit would work. Just add less milk if you use fresh fruit, or otherwise you'll have to add more flour and they'll be cakey rather than chewy, and they're much better chewy.

Let cool for about 10 minutes, particularly with the fruity ones.  Cut into the size you want and enjoy. 

May 7, 2008

28 Weeks

This is what 12-weeks-to-go looks like...

As for what it feels like, well, let's just say that I feel larger than I look. My lungs and stomach are getting squished from below, and my bladder is getting squished from above.

But I'm sure glad that this gets to last a little longer. I had a little scare this morning -- The Kid had been really quiet for a day or so, and my heart was racing at 130 b/m for about an hour. I called the doctor and they fit me in to the schedule. Of course, by the time I got there, my heart rate was normal again, and in the waiting room The Kid was doing the jive in my belly. They hooked me up to a fetal heart monitor just in case, and his little heart was beating strong as ever, which was great to hear.

As for the heart racing thing, that's a bit more complicated. I'm going to try having more protein for breakfast (hello, boca sausage) and have a snack an hour or so after I eat. My body is apparently a little too good at getting my blood sugar down after eating breakfast, according to my glucose test. That should do the trick. But if it doesn't, we can either pursue an EKG and think about meds, or chalk it up to a pregnancy symptom (which it very likely is) and let it be.

Either way, we're both okay! Yay for 28 weeks!

May 2, 2008


Painting and hardware and tools, oh my!

We got possession of our house last night, and went over straight-away to take a look around. The sellers were great -- leaving us clearly labeled paint cans, little house tips, and even their new phone number, should we have any questions. We're not moving in just yet -- first comes the Big Trip To Lowe's, then the Grand Paint-Off on Sunday -- thanks to Grimsaburger & Spouse, El Ranchero & Sap, and friends J & M for their help! In addition to the paint (non-toxic, low-VOC, and prego-friendly!), we'll be stripping wallpaper, pulling up carpet, tearing off fake-wood panelling, sealing floors,  hanging blinds, getting new countertops, hanging new hardware, installing a bathroom fan and a new stove hood, spot-tarring the roof, caulking the bathtub, replacing the shower head, moving the downspouts around, upgrading the electricity, and, if all goes well, finishing the basement. All by the end of May. No, really -- it'll happen. I think.  

Being a homeowner sure is busy!

(Pics coming soon...)

April 21, 2008

Jon Troast

This guy is fantastic. He's a singer/songwriter from Lake Geneva, WI. But he's also an alum of my alma mater. What's super-cool is that his big tour this year involves people's living rooms! He is on a $100 tour, where people invite him into their homes to play for groups of friends and family. My sister, who heard him first on A Prairie Home Companion, set up a tour stop in her living room last night. Jon is warm, fun, and uber-talented.

This video is for her kids' favorite song -- Knock-Down Stupid. Gee, ya wonder why the 2-year-old likes it? He loves telling us that "Jon Tost sing 'knock-down toopid,' like dat. He good."

Check out his stuff. You'll be glad you did.

25 weeks, 5 days

Geez, I look pregnant. What a difference between now and a few weeks ago. But people continue to tell me I am "tiny." Tell that to my too-tight pants!

Last night The Kid kept me up for an hour, kicking away. He was absolutely still all day long, and then at 11:30 he decides its time for a work-out.

Not that I'm complaining (well, maybe a little...). But it's really, really fun - and a little weird - to see little bulges pop out of my belly. It's like Alien, but for Real. And not as creepy.

Aren't they lovely?

It's been a great, fun weekend in Grand Rapids with my nieces and nephews.

This morning Anton (age 5) told me that he only has 4 fingers on one hand, and proceeded to count - beginning with zero - from his thumb to his pinky. We have a future Enron accountant on our hands.

Then there's Hannah, a precocious and precious little girl. Besides thoroughly enjoying bossing her little brothers around, she also loves music, art, dance -- anything artistic, really. She and Anton did a sign version of the Lord's Prayer with their "signing choir" at church, and Hannah did all the motions with grace and feeling.

And this little guy, Christian (pictured here with Lallow Caw) looked at me yesterday afternoon and said, with a big grin on his face, "Auntie Naw, you make me happy." I just about smothered the poor kid with kisses right then and there!

April 9, 2008


I'm 24 weeks pregnant today, and I'm pleased to say that everything is going really well! The kid is regularly practicing his Tae Bo in my belly, all the tests have come out just fine, and I'm feeling great.

Whenever I see this oh-so-cute little hat (Thanks, Mimi!) I think about what our son (our son!) will be like. Will he have a big smile and quick wit like his daddy? Will he easily surpass his mommy in musical talent? I have so many questions and worries, hopes and dreams. And I realize with a (joyful) start that I get to keep on hoping and dreaming along with this kid for the rest of our lives! What a blessing, and what a responsibility, to be chosen to watch over him as he grows.

Most of all, when I look at this little hat, I can't wait to meet the little guy and see him in it! It was knit by his grandma with so much care and love. And I know that more than anything else, this kid will be loved deeply and unconditionally. Indeed, he already is!

Dr. SO'B

Congrats to SO'B on his very successful dissertation defense! His committee (pictured below) gave the New Doctor the respect of asking very difficult questions, which he handled with intelligence and grace. I'm so proud!