If you are here, you probably know what this is about.

The First Year with Felix: A Retrospective

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It’s a fact that is hard for us to admit – Felix is going to be one year old soon. This gives us a reason to look back and reflect on all that has happened. Here are some things that we have learned in Felix’s first year:

  • We’re not as patient as we thought we were. Everyone knows how much Felix screamed. What you probably don’t know is how much we did. Colic tried our patience like nothing ever has before.
  • The miracle of a baby’s firsts. The first smile and first coo filled us with joy and hope. Now Felix is experiencing new things and gaining new abilities. His enthusiasm is intoxicating and so fun to be a part of.
  • Doctors don’t know nearly as much as we wish they did and expected them to. The experience with Felix’s feet was particularly troubling but not the only disappointing experience. After two weeks of our own research we knew more about club feet and their treatment than the doctor who was highly recommended to us. As parents, we can’t just trust the medical establishment to know what’s best.
  • We learned how to sooth a crying baby.
  • Before Felix, I was always amazed at how enthralled parents were with their children. Didn’t they realize that the kid had food all over their face, a messy diaper, and a snotty nose? Now I know that with children, love is truly blind to messes and even smells. There is something so basic and deep about the love you have for your child.
  • We have learned how sleep deprivation affects us.
  • I learned that pregnancy and childbirth is nothing to be afraid of and that it can even be exhilarating.
  • God really does something brave sending us to earth being so helpless and dependent on other people for absolutely everything.
  • You never get sick of looking at pictures of your own kid.
  • People are kinder to you if you have a small child
  • Kids are the best social lubricant.
  • Our parents, siblings, and sibs-in-law make great grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
  • We are much more capable of making baby sounds in public than we ever imagined we would be
  • And, now for a few pictures; we just can’t get enough.







    In the morning (We think he’s particularly cute after he wakes up)

    Ready for a ride

    And, finally, looking all grown up, with his Aunt Bryn


    Written by rapidgrowth

    5 May, 2009 at 12:56 pm

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    We of course badly need to write another real post on this blog. But in the meantime, here’s a great audio file of Felix laughing. He starts getting really silly at about 30 seconds.
    This was recorded about a month ago. He babbles all day long and is quite loud.

    Written by rapidgrowth

    27 April, 2009 at 2:10 pm

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    Rolling, with teeth

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    It is March first and spring is supposed to be around the corner, but the temperatures are still in the teens. I hate the NPR show Prairie Home Companion (maybe too many family vacations listening to Garrison Kiellor), but I was driving home from home teaching last Sunday and it was on the radio and it was very funny. For those of you who live in places where it still gets into the single digits at night (tonight’s low is 9 degrees), it’s very relevant. Listen here. Click on Segment 1 in the left column and at the beginning, starting at about 2:15 listen to his soliloquy about spring, which is very clever, and then from about 24:30 when they start talking about the National Weather Service, where they chant and pray to the gods of snow and ice.

    Here is something nice that the weather did on our front porch:

    We have been keeping Felix warm in the cold with a new hat, made out of pants:

    He likes playing with his toys on the floor. Logan gave him a toy that sings songs in English and Spanish when you push buttons. When you turn it on, it says “First Words Radio” in a really enthusiastic voice, but it actually sounds like it’s saying “earthworms radio.” Here he is, doing with it what any sensible person would do with a plastic radio (eat it):

    And finally, a few more pictures. First, a couple of Felix waking up from his nap:

    And one of him doing one of his favorite things, rolling on the bed:

    He has sharp, jagged teeth now (two on top, two on bottom) and is still growing very tall. He went in for his 9-month checkup and has moved up from the 90th percentile for height to the 95th percentile. And yes, he’s still very trim, though he moved up a few percentile points in weight too. If he keeps going like this, he’ll have a great running, cycling, or swimming body, or maybe even volleyball (watch out Logan).

    Also, as a reminder, there are more pictures of Felix on our Flickr page.

    As most of the people who will read this know, I’m in the middle of a job search. My position (a visiting professorship) was approved to turn into a tenure-track position. That’s great because it means that I can be in a permanent position sooner, but it means that the department is required to do a national search to fill the position, so I’m competing for it with a bunch of other people. I’ve been applying to a bunch of jobs because it would be unwise to just expect to get the tenure-track job here. Well, this week I was informed that the department chair has called off the search. Those of you in academia know how unusual it is for a department to have a position approved by the university and then just call it off. A blog isn’t the right place to go into the reasons, but it has to do with political things in the department unrelated to me (it’s about the position itself, rather than any particular person who might occupy it). They want me to stay in the visiting position. In a way it’s nice, because it’s something dependable and stable for next year in this unstable economic environment, but of course it would be nicer to be in a tenure-track position. In my search, I’ve had a few interviews for tenure-track positions at other schools (and cut my hair short for them), and am quite interested in two of them (SUNY Fredonia (near Buffalo) and the University of New Mexico). I’ve only had a phone interview with UNM (generally, schools do phone interviews with 10 or so candidates, and then bring three finalists to campus for 1- or 2- day interviews, with a bunch of presentations and meetings), but there is some really great stuff going on there in my field and it would be very nice to be in a tenure-track job at a big research school, where my teaching load would be lighter and my own work would be better supported. But we really like Grand Rapids a lot and it would be very hard to leave. We don’t have any decisions to make right now, since nobody else has offered a job.

    We like that the days are getting longer and hope the temperatures rise accordingly. Felix is just getting over his first sickness and this week is Spring Break for us, so it will be fun to spend more time together. I’m hoping to get my website up and I’ll post a link to it when I get it up.

    Written by rapidgrowth

    1 March, 2009 at 6:15 pm

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    What else can I say?

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    Written by rapidgrowth

    2 February, 2009 at 8:53 am

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    Things I have neglected to post

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    This is a collection of a few unrelated pictures/stories that I have meant to post and never have.
    Not in any order…

    Soon after we got back from Oregon, the check engine light in our car came on. Some of you know that we bought a new car that we like a lot, as much for its low cost and fuel efficiency as for anything. But, it was under warranty, so I wasn’t too worried. I took it to the dealership in Illinois and sat there for three hours while the mechanic tried to figure out what was wrong, but he couldn’t figure it out. There was some pressure leak in the fuel system, and he thought it might be a faulty gas cap. After we got to Michigan, I took it to another dealership. After a few more hours, the serviceman came out.

    (Approximate conversation)
    Serviceman: You had better come take a look at this.
    Me: That doesn’t sound good.
    Serviceman: Well, sometimes it’s just better for you to see it than for me to try to tell you about it.

    So, we went out to the car and the fuel tank was dropped down from under the car. On top of the fuel tank, I saw this (pictures taken with serviceman’s phone):

    Me: What in the devil is that?
    Serviceman: Well, it’s a mouse nest. The mice have built a nest on top of the fuel tank, under the body of the car, using the fuel lines for structure. After hours of diagnostics and searching, we blew a bunch of smoke into the fuel system and it came pouring out of the bottom of the car. So, we looked, and found this. The mice have eaten through the fuel lines and into the fuel tank.

    Yes, mice ate our brand new car.

    We drove all over, to Chicago and back, to Grand Rapids and back (from Illinois), all after the light came on, all with a colony of mice living above the fuel tank. It took a week and $700 to get it fixed. All because of mice. Now we have mouse traps in the garage.

    When we were in Oregon over the summer, there were four generations of the Goates family in the house and Wayne wanted to take a picture, so we did. There’s a nice picture of the four sitting nicely on the couch. But this is my favorite one.



    During the fall here, the colors were beautiful.  I loved watching the leaves change day by day on my commute to campus.  Here are some pictures, some of them merges of a few pictures to get a wider shot. This wasn’t at the height of the colors, and it would have been better on a sunny day, but this was the day that I happened to have a camera in my bag with me on my bike.





    And, finally, is this picture from November 4th, Logan’s birthday, and a a day of celebration for more reasons than that.

    Written by rapidgrowth

    7 December, 2008 at 10:17 pm

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    Niagara Falls

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    This pictures is right by the fish ladder in Grand Rapids which is also near some rapids in the Grand River.  Grand Rapids is so lovely.  The fall here is has been warm and golden.  Collin likes to take the long way to work on his bike so that he can enjoy the trees changing colors.  Felix and I run everyday and take in all the color.  


    Felix spends a lot of time looking out our front window.

    I’ve been thinking about the title of this post for quite awhile.  It came from a conversation that I had with my sister a few months ago.  If you know me then you know that there have been times when I felt quite bullied by my baby.  As with all things that has certainly changed.  My sister told me to wait until he was around four and five months and it would change.

    She told me that it would be cascades of love – Niagara Falls of love….

    I’ve been to Niagara Falls.  It looked liked this:

    and it felt like this:


    and this:


    and this:


    So this post is dedicated to my sister.  Bryn, you were right and I feel it now.

    Written by rapidgrowth

    11 November, 2008 at 7:02 pm

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    In the Big Quicks

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    Well, we made it here. We have been in Grand Rapids for about two weeks now. The move went well, thanks to a lot of help from Bryn, Alissa, Matt, and some friends at both ends of the move. We have some friends from Illinois who moved to Grand Rapids a few weeks before us, so they showed up to help too.

    Alissa, Matt, and Bryn helped us unpack and the place was fairly livable within a few days. Things still aren’t totally unpacked (especially bike and tool stuff in the basement), but the upstairs feels something like home. We really like the new house, especially because Felix has his own bedroom, which means that we sleep lots better.

    The big announcement is that we discovered that we have a real baby, not just a screaming machine. He was pretty good during the trip to Utah and was quite good (and slept a ton) in Oregon, and then when we got back to Illinois, he was terrible. About three days before the move, he started acting like an angel and he was great through the whole move. He has been smiling a lot more, kicking his legs to roll over onto his side, making all kinds of noises, and even giggling occasionally.

    BUT…, the Saturday before school started, he reverted to his old ways and was horrible. We think he was going through a growth spurt because he was only sleeping 2 or 3 hours at a time at night. The first few days of classes, he barely let us sleep at all and on the first day I was gone all day on campus (I was gone from about 8:00 a.m. until 10:45 p.m.) he was really bad. Like this:
    IMGP2031… again…

    But we think that he’s back to being a real baby. Yesterday was a good day and last night, he slept from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. without waking up, then he woke up to eat and be changed, and went back to bed and was still asleep when I left for work at about 8:45.

    Grand Rapids is nice and has some really beautiful things. We just discovered that we live really close to the White Pine Trail, which goes along the river here and then extends for 100 miles to the north. Here is a view from the trail near our house (i just found this online, the trees have leaves right now)

    My bicycle commute is kicking my butt, but maybe I’m getting in better shape.

    And, now for some pictures (mostly of Felix) :


    At the Oregon Coast. His first trip to the ocean.



    We have some music that really soothes him. In fact, sometimes it just knocks him out. During our trip, we started resorting to using my headphones to keep him calm during drives. Now they’re a regular parenting tool. I’ll try to remember to put up a small mp3 of his music.


    Okay, sometimes he might not be calmed by it. Here he’s rockin’ out.



    When we were putting a onesie on him, he suddenly looked like a little lamb.


    He’s getting really good at holding his head up now. This was early in his progress.

    Written by rapidgrowth

    28 August, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Posted in Uncategorized