Poop. Madeline and I have recently become fascinated with poop. Not ours, mind you, but the poop of the two little creatures in our lives: Izzy the baby and Shelby the dog. At first it seemed that my primary way of relating with Izzy (now almost seven weeks) was through diaper-changing (thankfully today, after about 20 minutes of total bawling, she finally fed from the bottle). Even my nicknames for her seemed to be derived from diaper-related activities.

Much of this was precipitated by Shelby’s sudden regression, as it were, into the same nervous behavior when she first arrived from the pound: bouts of vomiting and melted-chocolate-ice-cream diarrhea inside the house (right next to where I’m sitting now as a matter of fact). A bland diet of rice and cream cheese ensued. Diarrhea continued for a while (the stains on the sidewalk stayed out there for what seemed like a month), but now it’s back to the reassuring dark-green, solid stuff.

Izzy’s bowel movements, on the other hand, remain the same consistency, whether fed with breast milk or formula — to be precise, her diaper always looks smeared with Skippy Super Chunk peanut butter. This is in contrast to the grainy Grey Poupon (or is it “Poopon?”) Dijon mustard stuff from her first two weeks. (I’m just thankful we have diaper service, otherwise we’ll have to be rinsing and washing a whole sackful of dirty diapers once a week.) But what varies is the force by which it comes out — either slow like toothpaste coming out of a tube, though accompanied by much farting, or downright explosive. One time the poop shot off the changing table and onto Madeline’s desk, a good two feet away, spraying everything (the changing table, the edge of the desk, the diaper Genie, Madeline’s arms, my hand) within a two-foot radius. Pretty spectacular.

Of course, the trick is to wait until all the racket is over before you decide to undo the tapes or Velcro (depending on whether she’s wearing a wrap). The change in the temperature, especially if the wipes are cold, can also stimulate other adverse reactions (peeing all over her clothes is not fun — I can’t imagine what we’d do if she was a boy, especially since I’ve heard many stories about little boys hitting their parents in the eye).

Haven’t written anything in a long time, what with an onslaught of midterms and quizzes and a spate of sleeping outside on the sofa during Izzy’s second month, when she wouldn’t go to sleep without being held. About two weeks ago, however, Izzy started sleeping through the night; now she goes to bed at 9 p.m. (and pretty much so do we), cries a bit at 5 a.m. as she moves from one sleep cycle to another, and then we wake her up at 7 a.m. with lots of good morning kisses, a moisturizer rubdown, and a diaper change.

Had a bit of a breakthrough with her bottle-feeding, which has caused us much anxiety and stress. It seems that Playtex nipples (and their nursers with disposable liners that look suspiciously like, um, never mind) seem to work, as Izzy was happily sucking away yesterday. (Previously Izzy would hardly suck or swallow with the Avent nipples, and the Gerber nipples, we think, gave her a massive tummy ache.) She took about an ounce and a half of breast milk with the Playtex, so we’ll continue with that today.

I’m in a bit of downtime right now, being in the middle of Thanksgiving weekend (spent last night’s dinner with my friends Jeff and Kumi), waiting for my dissertation committee to respond and with nothing to grade. So I’ve been preparing a syllabus for my Research Methods in Ethnic Studies class in the spring — quite difficult for someone with little background in quantitative research (which is wherre my team-teacher comes in) — and actually enjoying looking up information on interviewing and case studies.

Oh, and a little plug for an absolutely stellar game (I played the demo a few days ago): Max Payne. The comic-book cutscenes, the voice acting (but not the enemies, who come with terrible Italian accents right out of Life with Luigi), the graphics — are flat-out superb. But the best twist to this shoot-’em-up is “Bullet Time,” where with a click of the right-mouse button you can slow down everyone’s movement (and hear nothing but a loud heartbeat) and dive, John Woo-style, with dual berettas in hand, gunning your enemies down at the same time. And if you manage to clear out a roomful of baddies, you get an awesome slo-mo, Matrix-like 360-degree shot of the bad guy going down. (My favorite scene was when, via Bullet Time, I leaped out of a corner, gunned one bad guy down, jumped up on a sofa where another bad guy was hiding, and promptly wasted his ass from above while standing on a sofa.)

Okay, enough violence for such a little plug!