June 2006

June 27
Over the River and Through the Woods...

... to Granny's house we go!

On Saturday, we visited Granny and Bob at the RV park in New Hampshire. We were all dreading it, because it was pouring, and entertaining a 13-month-old whirling dervish who thinks TV is for pussies in a leather-upholstered, non-baby-proofed, 12 by 40 foot space for 8 hours is NOT my idea of a good time.

Luckily, Granny must have a direct line to someone on the weather committee, because as we pulled up to their gorgeous campsite, the sun broke through the clouds, and it proceeded to be absolutely beautiful the whole day. Whew!

Granny's front door opens up onto a view of Loon Lake. We wasted no time getting our butts down to the beach for a walk. Missy, having abandoned the pretense that she cannot walk, needed the practice, and drug us hither and yon all day, and I just want to make it clear here that I am wearing cropped pants, NOT gauchos:

Eliza is a huge fan of the beach, and has completely gotten over her baby-ish compulsions to eat sand. She also thinks wind is really fun; it makes her cackle with delight:

All that walking around whetted our appetites, and Bob brought out the enormous lobster. We were going to have a cage fight between the lobster and Eliza, but we changed our minds after Eliza petted the lobster and we figured she'd probably throw the fight. But seriously, get a look at this thing — it was huge!:

Dude, did you see my cleavage in that picture above? This is the second excellent cleavage shot of me that I've found. I'm beginning to think that god is trying to compensate for the loss of my abs and waist.

I know I'm hopelessly shallow, but I truly mourn the loss of my abs. They were a thing of beauty. Sadly, I have no true photographic record, since even this photo is of me 4 weeks pregnant and already bloating. But you get the picture:

No matter how many sit-ups I do, I'll never have abs like that again, because the skin is stretched like a baggy pair of nylons.

Uh. Anyway. HUGE digression.

OK. Look again at Eliza vs. the lobster. Here, I'll even give you a picture without my distractingly lovely cleavage so that you can concentrate better:

Right. So then Bob jammed the lobster into a pot and boiled it to death, and we ate (I had no lobster, not because I'm a wuss, but because I don't like the texture.

After lunch, Eliza proceeded to become progressively more nude. She sat down in the water and we got rid of the now-soaking dress, so she staggered around in her diaper for a while. Apparently, when you are learning to walk, ballast helps, because she insisted on carrying around this water bottle with her everywhere, and snared the phone when she could as well:

Granny and Eliza also took a walk to the beach:

And then she pooped and we decided we were just tired of the whole diaper thing and let her stagger around like a hobo redneck baby in the nude, which worked out better anyway because she kept wanting to play in the water:

Then we went home and on the way, we passed the drive-in movie theater, so we decided, since she was asleep, to see if we could get a night out. But guess who woke up — BING! — as soon as the car stopped? Add to that, the drive-in was showing an utterly atrocious movie, and we decided to abort and head home.

The next day, Eliza may have had sore muscles, or she was angsting that maybe now that she could walk, we wouldn't pick her up anymore, because she refused to stand up. Yesterday, she got over it.

***

Outgrowing all of your shoes has its upside — you get to buy all new shoes! I bought these at TJ Maxx today:

They are mighty sassy. They are Heather-Locklear-as-the-bitchy-boss-on-Melrose-Place-sexy.

I will be wearing them on Sunday evening when Jim and I head to New York for our long-awaited schmancy dinner-and-Madonna show date. I modeled the shoes for Jim and he pointed out that they were high heeled.

"I think the show's going to be, like, disco dancing," he said skeptically.

To which my repsonse is, I'm going to New York. Painful, hot shoes are an essential element of any trip to New York. I refuse to be one of those tourists who dresses comfortably for sightseeing. Instead, I attempt to blend like a native — while still marching all over the place sightseeing. Are my feet going to be blistered stumps of throbbing agony at the end of the night? Of course they are! Do I care? Uh, did I care when I wore the green box-toed boots? The black roach-killer boots? The black sling backs? The red ones? (OK, I did with the red ones, but I was pregnant, that doesn't count.)

Anyway. All hail my awesome shoes!

***

Whew! LT dislikes our bookclub book too. I thought it was just me, but I broached the subject yesterday, and she was not, to say the least, a fan.

This book was poorly written, the characters were stereotypes, it should've been vigorously edited down to about half its size, and the ending is so offensive I'm not touching it with a 10-foot-pole. Let's just say someone has Madonna (as in Jesus' mom)-whore issues out the wazoo.

It should be an interesting discussion.

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June 24
Drunk Frankenstein

Eliza has decided to abandon the pretense that she cannot walk.

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June 23
Annals of Stupidity: How NOT to Interview a Celebrity

A friend and I were discussing last night the alarming number of decisions we have made from a groinally-directed standpoint. She selected her major because she had a crush on the TA in one of her classes. I joined Model UN because I had crushes on pretty much every boy in the club (cute brainy boys with a sharp wit and the slightest soupcon of nerdliness; what's not to love?). I joined the newspaper at college because, um, I had crushes on every male member of the staff (see above) and career-wise, well, it didn't hurt that I had gotten an eyeful of that cute green-eyed reporter covering Easthampton (That'd be Jim!) when I was trying to decide whether the newspaper business was for me.

So, there I am, newspapering in college, running the arts section (psyched to join the editorial board because guess why?! Oh yeah! I had a crush on the editor in chief! And the sports editor! And one of the news editors!), and getting sent all these lovely press releases about the Next Big Thing musically.

Anyway, along comes Mr. Matthew Sweet, indie tunesmith/college rock deity of the early 1990s, who is coming to our college to play, and I manage to actually line up an interview with him.

The fateful day arrives. I have practiced, in my head, various scintillating conversational gambits which will, in my mind, lead to Mr. Matthew Sweet declaring, "Why, you are the most wonderful interviewer EVER. Please date me!" Because. Guess! What! I have a rock-star-crush on him. BIG TIP here folks, when interviewing a celebrity, it is probably best not to approach the interview this way. It is probably better to READ UP on the celebrity and their activities.

Because Mr. Matthew Sweet gets on the phone with his publicist and the other college journalist who is part of this conference call and they say hi, and I respond with "Hi, y'all, my name's Anna-Maria, but you can call me AM!" What?! What?! What?!

But, dude, beyond my name, I've got NOTHING. So the other journalist gets to asking questions, insightful ones.

And then we get to some comment about Lloyd Cole. What? What? What? Lloyd Cole?! I LOVE Lloyd Cole! Oh, it turns out, Lloyd Cole played with Mr. Matthew Sweet on his latest album.

"What was that like?" I proceed to ask. Mr. Matthew Sweet says nice things about his friend.

Omigod, they're FRIENDS?!

And here, my friends, is where this interview, as if it weren't already abysmal, goes really, really wrong.

I. ask. Matthew. Sweet. what. Lloyd. Cole. is. like. in. real. life.

And then I ask if Lloyd going to be playing with him again.

Mr. Matthew Sweet has unfortunately also made some sort of remark about how Lloyd Cole's wife has recently had a baby.

I. ask. Matthew. Sweet. how. Lloyd. Cole. is. doing. with. the. new. baby.

And then! And then! Wait for it!

I. ask. Matthew. Sweet. if. Lloyd. Cole. will. be. recording. another. album. anytime. soon.

I know! I'm shrieking in agony just writing it (internally. mustn't wake the baby).

All I can say is, it's a good thing that I never found a way to get an interview with Bono.

"Dude! You owe me a kidney!" That could actually even be a worse interview. (Girding loins to tell U2/diseased kidney story, which is possibly even more embarrassing than the above.)

Anyway. I was reminded of the Matthew Sweet debacle the other day because I read that Lloyd Cole is now living in the area and playing occasional dates here. I really, really hope I never run into him.

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June 22
Mama's Boobies!

Here is a film of Eliza sitting on a stool and swinging her feet. It is without sound and sideways because I recorded it on the regular camera and forgot you can't rotate films.

Eliza knows many body parts now: feet, toes (Tay!), nose (Nay!), mouth, eyes, hair, bellybutton, legs, hand, tail (Tay!).

Today, however, I was chagrined to discover that if you ask her, "Where are Mama's boobies?" she will point to the mammaries in question. I'm not sure how she knows this, although I suspect it has something to do with all those times I've said "Stop yanking on mama's shirt, her boobies are falling out!"

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June 20
Eating, Disordered

So, I guess it really IS just my mom, my sister, and Jim reading this. Or you're all stalkers. Cool.

***

Captain Sneakypants? She can walk just fine by herself.

It's just that she refuses to do it if she can make one of us lead her around instead.

I had suspected as much after several instances in which I left the room briefly and returned to find her standing in a different spot than I left her, with not enough time elapsed for dropping to all fours, crawling over, and pulling up again.

This morning, Jim caught her red-handed — he'd left her on the back porch while he ran inside to grab something and kept an eye on her through the window. Whence he observed Miss Oh-god-why-are-you-making-me-walk-Eeeeeeeeee! cross half the length of the porch without a blink. And this evening, I was watching the news (we had mucho exciting thunderstorms here and I wanted to know if more were on the way) and caught her, out of the corner of my eye, walking across the bedroom without support.

***

Make that Captain Willful McSneakypants.

Yesterday was one of those days where I wanted to trade my stubborn, noisy wuffly-headed spawn in for something a little more docile.

She has adopted a capricious attitude towards eating that would do Kim Jong-Il proud for sheer demented cussedness.

Bacon, yes.
Ham, only prosciutto, and only for licking, not actual ingestion.
Eggs?Gack! Less gack if there is cheese mized in.
Yogurt, yes, but she must, at the end, be allowed to crush the container and pour the remaining yogurt over her naked belly (I shudder to ponder what this means for her future as a Jello wrestler).
Bread, yes, but it must be whole grain (well, thank god for that, at least).
Cheese? Only if shredded cheddar. Never sliced, and never, ever chunks or cubes.
Pork? Gack!
Chicken? Only if pulled and barbecued, as at Smokin' Lil's.
Burger? Only from The Brewery, NOT homemade.
Broccoli? Only in broccoli cheddar soup or at Legal Seafood.
Grilled Cheese? Yes yes yes! But! The cheese must NOT be allowed to extrude beyond the reach of the bread or that piece will be COMPLETELY unacceptable. Are you trying to poison her? No? Then what the hell is your problem?!

This bizarre and sudden scoping down of her previously ecumenical eating habits is frustrating, to say the least. Part of me wants to take the "If she gets hungry enough, she'll eat" tack, part of me wants to acquiesce and give her whatever she wants — how bad can a diet of yogurt, whole grain bread, and bananas really be? — and part of me just wants to scream.

She eats something once, I go out of my way to prepare it for her, and she either spits it out or refuses to even open her mouth in the first place.

Yesterday, her dinner consisted of 3 bites of pork. That was it. Then we went to the mall and got stuck there for an hour and a half because a hideous thunderstorm broke out, and all the while, Missy got hungrier and hungrier. And shrieky.

In addition, the reason we'd gone to the mall, to buy her walking shoes, was a total failure because Willful McStubbornpants decided that not only did she not want to try on any shoes, she would not be wearing the ones she had, either.

Also, the stroller was a tool of the devil and should not be touching her body.

Thus it was that the 8 o'clock hour yesterday found me steering the stroller with gritted teeth while Shouty O'Pigheaded walked behind, barefoot, pushing and, yes, shouting.

Gummy candy was purchased in copious amounts for later consumption.

And when we got home, frustrated and irritated with each other, Eliza staggered into the kitchen, saw the lazy susan where we keep the bread, and brust into big, heart-breaking tears, "Beh! Beh!" she sobbed, and when I handed her a piece, she sat down where she stood, and devoured it.

Every one of those tears could've been acid for the way they cut me to the quick. Not my finest day as a parent.

Today's total food consumption? Bacon, bread, banana, cheese pizza, grilled cheese on whole wheat, ice cream, milk.

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Daddy Day: A Photo Essay

On Daddy Day, it was super-hot, so we decided to go to Look Park to visit the water park. And maybe the Peezh! and the train, too.

We started by doing our best Brittney Spears Child Endangerment imitation:

When we got to the park we rode the train. We kept all extremities inside the train as ordered:

Then we went to the zoo where taking pictures is pointless because all the animals are behind a chain link fence, hence un-photographable. Despite her bold Peezh!-petting of the previous visit, Eliza wanted nothing to do with touching the Peezh! this time around. She was instead content to point and smile. So then we headed to the splash park, which was so NOT a hit. "Random water? Cold water? Coming at you without warning? Or even with considerable warning? Dude, are you NUTS?" was clearly Eliza's attitude about the proceedings. Not a fan, shall we say, but we did get this photo where she isn't actively yowling:

No, Missy was much more interested in pushing the stroller around (check out my gut!):

And, of course, in ICE CREAM! Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Give me that popsicle!!! Now!!!! Please note how she goes from clean-shaven to soulpatch to goatee to full beard over the course of the eating:

Happy Father's Day to Jim!

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June 16
I Made a Poll

Hi.

So, there are more readers of this site than I have moms (1) or sisters (also 1). I am assuming you're not all Googlebots.

Please satisfy my curiosity and take this poll; as far as I can tell, you will remain totally anonymous, they don't make you give them your email, and I won't try to sell you anything. (Which I know because I am the first person to respond to the poll. I put myself down as a relative.)

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Thanks!  

June 15
Mick Jagger Goes Cold Turkey

One of the nice things about tagteaming childcare is the unique relationships Eliza builds with each of us. Jim and I both have activities that only we do with her, and each of us teaches her different things. From me, she learns "Octopus!" From Jim, rock star impersonations. We're just not sure whether that's Gene Simmons or Mick Jagger.

No, seriously, during our overlap times, we show off the cool things we have just done with Eliza: Words learned, motor skills mastered, kisses given (for that one, whch is at this point more of an open-mouthed slobber against the cheek, Jim gets credit).

Yesterday, Ms Jagger went to sleep cold turkey for the very first time. By which I mean, no bottle of milk, formula, whatever, before her nap or bedtime.

I knew the doctor wanted her weaned, both for healthy sleep habits and because it would be better for her teeth (no milk sugars sitting in her mouth all night), and when I asked if I was supposed to taper or have her go cold turkey, the doctor voted for cold turkey.

I said, Urp! but we did it. There was half a squawk last night and a later than usual nap time yesterday, but by tonight, she was fully into the swing of the new routine and gave the babysitter no trouble at all.

Woo! I say, at the risk of cursing us. And Hoo!

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June 14
A Pox On Both Your Houses!

They told me yesterday that a possible side effect of the chickon pox vaccine is a rash. No kidding. The poor kid is covered in poxes. They don't seem to hurt or itch, thank god, and they're supposed to go away in a day or two. Still, not her most attractive day, poor thing.

Here she is looking a bit better (the pox are mainly on her extremities) in Auntie Johanna's dress. Which is lovely, with one teeny tiny problem that is all Eliza's fault: She crawls in it, and as she crawls, her tugging on the bottom hem has meant repeated baby-boobal exposure today. I keep telling her she should just walk, but the baby, she is stubborn!

***

As promised, about Monday.

I took Eliza to Look Park, which was an excellent decision. The park has a little open-sided train that goes past the zoo and through a tunnel. Eliza and I took a ride and she was in what I've come to think of as Easter Bunny mode: Raptly, reverently enthralled by the situation. She sat very quietly next to me, taking it all in with saucer eyes. The only peep she made was when we passed some chickens at the zoo.

Speaking of which, this was a happening zoo. I thought Forest Park was teeny, but they at least had some big cats. This zoo has three enclosures with chickens, a couple of hawks, some bald eagles who clearly felt they were slumming, and pens of goats, bunnies, and sheep. There are a lot of chipmunks because the zoo allows visitors to feed the sheep and goats, ensuring plenty of corn for the stripy critters. But I can't complain too much. Eliza was happy and it was free.

Eliza is in some sort of a sheep phase. She has now completely inverted the word, Peezh! and was very excited about all the Peezh! in the zoo. When she spotted the goats, she called them Peezh! too, which I actually thought was a pretty good logical leap.

Anyway, the Peezh! were very friendly and stuck their heads over the fence to get a closer look, so I let Eliza lean over and pet them, which was just frosting on this spectacular day for her. I think Peezh! might be her favorite animal now, dogs, cats, birds, frogs, etc. notwithstanding.

***

This evening, we read a book about sea creatures and she correctly ID'd a fish, a starfish, a seahorse and an octopus. I am not surprised that she came out with Fsh! about the fish, but when she spouted Octp! (Vowels? We don't need no stinkin' vowels!) I was momentarily taken aback.

***

Eliza has several toys with musical keyboards. I played one of them for her, and she wanted more. When a grunt failed to produce results, she pointed at the hand I had used to play before. Because I am a Mean Lady and I wanted to see what would happen next, I did nothing. She poked it. When this, too, yielded no action, she picked up my hand and put it on the keyboard.

She does something similar when I do not repeat Itsy Bitsy Spider: first she grunts, then she points, and then she brings my hands together for the Itsy Bitsy hand motion.

***

Maybe Barney is not her only role model. I sat on the sofa and watched her play independently for a few minutes tonight. She picked up a stuffed bunny, clutched him to her chest tightly, closed her eyes and rocked back and forth blissfully — it was uncannily like what I do with her sometimes when I suddenly can't stand how much I love her.

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Oy

I am currently reading Gospel by Wilton Barnhart; it is our next book club book.

Knowing how I am about travelogue cloak-and-dagger religious conspiracy theory thrillers that stick it to the man (i.e. I am as a crack-whore is to crack), you can imagine how excited I was about this book.

Perhaps the fact that it was out of print should have been a warning, because sweet fancy Jesus does it suck! The plot is your standard religio-crypto pot-boiler, from what I can tell, but the writing! It is clunky with a special clunkiness that is full of clunk!

The book is told in the third person, but get a load of the heroine's internal monologue about her erstwhile aspirations toward the monastic life:

Yes, my mother would have loved it if I had followed through. It started with my namesake, my Aunt Lucy, my mother's sister. (I don't know about you, but when I'm internally monolguing, I don't generally pause to explain to myself how I am related to my aunt.) I was the middle of the three girls, and I was named after Aunt Lucy and I was ordained to follow Aunt Lucy. (run-on! And who stops to tell themselves what their birth order is?) I was to be the nun in the family since the intended priest-in-the-family, my brother Nicholas, fled for Notre Dame, then left the seminary for advertising and now lives in New York, comfortably, ecstatically far away from the grind of Dantan family life.

This grated on me so badly I had to put it down and go read a People magazine article about Brangelina and The Most Important Baby In The World.

Speaking of, what the hell is up with that middle name? "Nouvel" is the masculine form of the word. If you're going to give your kid a French word for a name, please at least make sure that you're using the proper ending for the gender. Nouvelle, people! NouvelLE!

But back to the book. The author has a real tin ear for how he imparts his information. He has a religion grad student explaining to her advisor and a bunch of religious scholars who the author of a particular gospel was and offer a short bio of same. I'm guessing that they already knew that, being, you know, religious scholars and all.

At first, I thought maybe this was just set-up, but I'm on Page 119, which, even in a 773-page book no longer qualifies as the beginning. I'll keep reading, but I can tell I'm going to have to take a LOT of People breaks.

Which reminds me, have I mentioned my excellent second career idea? Editor to the stars!

I would hire myself out to the ruler of Hollywood as the editor at large to keep stars from making asses out of themselves. I would start with portrayals of writers and editors, who all write like nitwits on film. Then I would make Beck run his lyrics through spell check. I would make Fiona Apple stop using big words like "demeanor" and Alanis Morrissette would have to promise never ever to sing about Irony again. Then I would explain to Madonna that "Ik ben droevig" is NOT the right translation for "I'm sorry" on the song by that title. I would also slap some sense into all these nimrods who give their kids names that practically guarantee they'll grow up to be drug addict.

Celebrity-Child AA: "My name is Tu Morrow. I drink to stop the pain!" "Feh, you don't know pain!" says Pilot Inspektor Lee, while Fifi Trixibelle and Heavenly Tiger Lilly Geldof frantically snort coffee grounds.

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June 13
Only Slightly Huge

Today I took Eliza to the doctor for her 12-month check-up. The doctor to whom we have been assigned is very nice.

To be honest, she wasn't my first choice, but she is growing on me, mostly because every time we visit her, she seems really impressed by our kiddo and comments on how advanced Eliza is. She probably does that with all the parents, but she seemed properly amazed when I told her Eliza knows 20 words.

#20: Shyuh! Which means Shirt! That's not counting Mama! and Da!, which she has finally consented to start using.

Of course, she refused to perform in front of the doctor. She was all chatty in front of the nurse, but the nurse is hearing impaired and, sadly, heard not a word of Eliza's lengthy treatise on socks and shoes.

Perhaps it was a protest against the finger poking (a lead test all kids her age have to get) and a vaccine (chickenpox) that awaited us later in the visit. It's a good thing she can't swear yet.

Anyway, so the doctor who is growing on us informed me that Eliza weight is holding steady, as it has from day one, in the 75th percentile, but height-wise, she is only in the 95th percentile now. Last visit, she was in the midst of the growth spurt and literally off the charts. I can't tell you how amused, and also bemused, I remain by the enormous baby we have produced.

And by her sociability — Jim and I were painfully shy as kids, whereas she'll flirt with anyone. And by her fearlessness around dogs. She thinks they're hysterical, and loves to pet them, and is never more entertained by them than when some enormous sofa with legs comes up to her and licks her in the face.

I have more to report about yesterday's sheep and duck-related adventures, but that'll have to wait till tomorrow.

June 11
Eliza Kong

Jim and I watched the latest version of King Kong last night.

It was pretty bad, and I am amazed that it was reviewed as glowingly as it was. Possibly, as Jim pointed out, it looked better on the big screen.

But the big screen thing in no way explains the racism. Let's start with the Chinese ship dude who is about a half step removed from Mickey Rooney's "Miss Go-Rightry, I must-ah plotest!" shtick in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Then there's the savage black native zombie types who sacrifice the white woman to the beast (The native women don't even like chocolate!). And, oh, the beast. King Kong is a pretty obvious mythical manifestation of the white man's fear of the black uber-masculine man (and all that implies, although King Kong was digitally rendered as a neuter) stealing/raping/converting the white virgin. Ick.

Anyway, there was one moment we enjoyed, though, when the white virgin is standing up to King Kong and he gets this peeved pouty expression on his face and gets all shouty with her.

I turned to Jim and said, "King Kong reminds me of Eliza," and he said, "I was just thinking the same thing!"

That was only about 5 minutes out of 3 hours, though. The rest of the time, we amused ourselves pondering the sex appeal of Adrien Brody, wondering if it's difficult to kiss when you have a big nose like his, and comparing Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman. I say the only difference is that Naomi hasn't had her forehead botoxed into immobility; Jim thinks she's actually a warmer (better?) actress. I think we also might've both taken naps.

***

Charming/alarming things Eliza has done this weekend:

1. Speak French: This morning's new word was Bébé!

2. And also English: Pih! (pig) was also new this morning.

3. Grabbed my hand, opened my fingers, and jammed a book into it.

4. Started waving to people to say Hello as well as Bye bye, including the life guard at the Y pool when we took her swimming yesterday.

5. Discovered her own belly button and spent an inordinate amount of time futzing with it.

6. Tried to get at the cookies in one of those transparent plastic packs and finally succeeded by tearing a hole in the side.

7. Discovered Oreos, with the expected crumbly, black-toothed results.

8. Danced to the latest Bruce album, complete with head waggling, hand clapping, and rump shaking.

9. Drove the cats ca-raaaaaay-zy by deploying a can of cat treats as a rattle.

10. Cruised up and down the locker room bench at the Y waving one of my socks shouting "Sha! Sha!" at anyone and everyone who would listen.

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June 10
Positively Reinforced

Clapping is good times, people!

Eliza is ALL ABOUT the clapping since it was discovered two weeks ago. She claps when Mama asks her to, she claps when she hears fun music, she claps because she is very happy and inspired.

But the best kind of clapping? That is when she answers a question correctly (Where is the red fish? Where is the pink pig?). And when Mama says, That's right, good girl, Eliza smiles and claps for herself.

***

New words:

1.Fwowa!

2. Zpee!

***

Incongruous quote:

"This is going to feel like you put your ass in a snowbank."

Said to me today by the massage therapist fixing my poor messed-up back, as he made me lie flat on my back on an enormous cold pack.

Commentary notwithstanding, the guy was a genius. In the space of 75 minutes, he made me all bendy again, which, after 3 days of walking hunched over and nearly passing out from the spasms every time I picked Eliza up, is SO AWESOME!

***

1. Flower

2. Sheep

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June 9
For the Person Who Thinks I Am Perfect

The fourth trimester was the hardest.

Eliza screamed for 2 hours every night after she was born. I rocked her, I fed her, I changed her diaper, I swaddled her, I fed her again, I rocked some more, I carried her everywhere in a sling, and most of all, I loved her, and I tried to make her understand that, and to tell her that I would take away the hurt.

She just kept screaming. Often, I thought, Why isn't this enough? I can't GIVE you any more.

Six weeks, I said to myself. The books said the evening screaming would start to get better at 6 weeks. I can hang on, by my fingernails if I have to, for 6 weeks, I thought.

There was a break at 4 1/2 weeks when she smiled at us, and it did begin to get better.

And then the reflux kicked in, and our relationship and my mental state went to hell so quickly it still takes my breath away.

Eliza had spit up since birth, and it wasn't any big deal—lots of babies do it and it doesn't bother them. I spent more time than I care to admit casually wandering around town with a Bjorn-ed kid vomiting into my cleavage.

But around 6 weeks, it began to hurt her, and she got really angry about it. What was supposed to be a let-up in the screaming instead turned into a marathon. She'd make it through the morning without too much incident. Then, around noon, the storm clouds would start to gather, and by the time Jim headed to work at 2:30 or 3, there would be screaming. It would last until 8 or 9 p.m., when she'd conk out until her middle of the night feedings.

I understand more than I cared to about the psychology of POWs who are tortured by a barrage of noise. Until it happens to you, you have no idea what it's like to be hearing something shrieking at you for hours on end.

That's my only excuse for why I fell apart so utterly.

I felt like—and was—a failure as a parent and as a compassionate human being. My kid was in pain and instead of empathy, I felt anger and despair. I figured it would be mere days before they'd take her away, and the worst part was, half the time — hell, most of the time—I was kind of hoping they would. I had only the barest glimpses of connection to Eliza. It was like a bad phone line, where you could make out a word here and there, but most of the time, it was just frustrating static.

I acted the way I'd seen good mothers act and hoped no one would catch on that I was on on good girl autopilot while inwardly I seesawed between seething fury and complete, want-to-throw-yourself-down-the-stairs despondency.

At about 8 weeks, I laughingly admitted to someone that I spent quite a bit of time thinking What the hell have I gotten myself into and then she would smile and I would think, oh, it's so worth it.

Lie. I spent 100 percent of the time wondering what the hell I had been thinking when we decided to get pregnant. I ruined my body, destroyed my life and unbalanced my marriage for THIS?

It created an excellent bio-feedback equivalent of the fear-tension-pain cycle between me and Eliza and the more she screamed, the more upset I got, and the more upset I got, the more she screamed.

It got so that I began taking her everywhere with me: the mall, the supermarket, on walks, anywhere I could reasonably transport her. I figured that in public, the pretense of being a calm, collected, loving, capable parent could carry me through —and protect her from my worst impulses. I lost the first 45 pounds of my pregnancy lugging her up and down the hill behind our house, as I became a familiar figure to the neighbor ladies who sat on their porches every night. Mustn't freak out the grannies...

Fixing the damage went in stages. I finally decided that the social pressure, real or imagined, against medicating this tiny person, was just something I was going to have to stand up against because none of the "natural" ways I was hearing about for this problem were working. The doctor prescribed Tagamet, which had an almost instant effect, and the crying backed off geometrically.

And it was about a week later that I had a moment of clarity that was almost like an out of body experience and I realized that I'd gone from moody to dangerous, and that I needed to do something NOW. I went to karate an hour later and much as it pains every bone in my Cruise-hating bone to say so, it was the start of pulling myself out of the scary place I'd wandered into.

As both of us calmed down, we began, finally, to become acquainted, to understand each other, to bond. Now, she is my treasure, and I love her so much that when she smiles at me, I can feel it into my DNA, it affects me so deeply.

All is not sweetness and light. Quitting karate and meditation has undone all the hard work of becoming a more patient, tolerant person, and I am probably worse than I ever was in that regard, and I regret that it's those closest to me who know that the best.

I get wistful when I hear childless friends' spur-of-the-moment plans. I remember when I used to be trendy and in such good shape that the army guy in my karate class referred to me as macho.

But being a parent, being THIS girl's parent, is a gift I could never trade back.

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June 7
One

Guess these words:

1. Sha!

2. Fwa!

***

At 8:11 a.m. on Friday, Jim asked me, Hey, what were you doing last year at this time?

And I said, Getting pitocin, and demanding an epidural! Wooooo!

Celebrating the tiny one's first birthday was a considerably less painful experience, thank god.

We started at breakfast. Since Jim was going to work in the evening and we had a birthday party planned for the next day which would require copious sugar, I thought we'd go semi-healthy for the birthday breakfast, and I made tasty blueberry muffins. I arranged them on a platter and stuck candles in two (One, plus one to grow on!)

Eliza thought the candles were nifty:

She was a little unclear on the blowing-out procedure (Digression, whenever we blow bubbles, she blows fiercely, but NEVER when the soapy wand is anywhere near her face, because then she gets distracted. Kind of how she blows fiercely in the pool whenever she has her face out of the water and drinks whenever it is in the water. Timing is not so good yet.). But she was VERY clear on the purpose of the muffins and started breaking off little pieces she could reach and nibbling on them.

So we had to hurry and do gifties so we could get to the eating.

She loved Grandma Texas' sparkly card:

And the binkies were a big hit too:

Then she unwrapped some gifts from Mama and Daddy:

I just included this picture because I think it is an excellent shot of my cleavage, which does not look this good in real life:

Then we quit lollygagging around and got to the eating. Eliza had her muffin served at her new workstation, aka the desk from Grandma Texas:

Which was all very well except afterwards it looked like she'd been crushing crumbs as though they were grapes at a winery:

Then we went to eat Lebanese food. Eliza loved Mama's cauliflower soup, Daddy's falafel and the schmancy cinnamon-flavored ground beef, and especially Daddy's baklava.

When we got home Auntie Johanna's package was waiting for us, so that was exciting. Barney and Eliza enjoyed the card:

And then Eliza played with random combinations of gifts:

After Daddy went to work, we squeezed into the bathing suit from Auntie Johanna and went swimming, but not before taunting Barney with one of his favorite toys. Please note also incredibly cute monkey toes:

Then we were pretty conked out and Mama made cake and potato salad for the party on Saturday.

It was supposed to be a barbecue outside but the weather gods had some things to say about that, so we put a rug down in the living room and a kiddie pool to be a pretend beach and lake, and made do and squashed 30 people into one room and dammit, we had a good time.

The guest of honor woke up late-ish from her nap. She was greeted by her first guests, the incredibly sweet and thoughtful and well-mannered and smart little girls from next door who are SO TOTALLY making me rethink my anti-home-school bias, and who love Eliza and have adopted her as their little buddy:

Then it was off to change into the cute party outfit as the rest of the guests arrived. I'm afraid I did not do a very good job documenting the day because omigod, 30 people squashed into my living room, 8 of them children. Ack! But it all went VERY well, if somewhat noisily, but there was no crying or misbehavior on either the part of the childen or the adults.

Here is Eliza's mountain of gifts. I enlisted the other kids to help us, so they would feel part of it, which worked a little too well because they started unwrapping willy-nilly and I'm not entirely sure I know who gave us what, so I'm going to have to make my best guesses n the thank you cards:

But like I said, it all went very nicely and while I would like a little more cooperation from the weather-folk next time around, I'm glad things turned out as they did.

We have 3 bags of hot dog buns and about 40 sausages of various sorts left over, if anyone's hungry.

Answers:

1. Sock

2. Frog

And, yes, the vocabulary list really is this random.

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June 1
Vocabulary

Just so you know, Eliza's word list currently comprises the following:

1. Kitty
2. Cheese
3. Outside
4. Shoes
5. Ball
6. Balloon (Usually still Voon! or, sometimes lately, Bloon!)
7. Duck (Duh!)
8. Bird (Buh!)
9. Stick (Sti!)
10. Tail (Tay!)
11. Truck (Swuh!)
12. Book (Boh!)
13. Tree (Swee! or Tee!)

The latter 7 are new and especially the last 3 are still shaky, but they are all being used regularly enough to count as words.

This afternoon, she insisted on being disrobed, then used her dress to play peekaboo. I could be making this up, but she kept shouting out this uncomfortable array of consonants, and I swear it sounded like peekaboo, only without the vowels. PCCCCHHHHB! PCCCHHB!

And then there's "Dih!!" which apparently means "Baby," and "Mimimimimimimimimimimi!!!!!!!!!" which means,"Forsooth, woman, I am very upset and require your ministrations forthwith, why do you tarry and futz with the dishwasher instead of picking me up and feeding me ice cream?"

Someone tried to tell me recently that babies usually learn verbs before nouns, and I reawlly don't buy it. I've NEVER heard a baby use a verb until some months after they say their first word. Verbs are a much harder concept to grasp. The first one they know is "want" and that can be communicated by shouting the name of the desired object, or pointing and whining. Why add a word in there?

Eliza also knows a handful of body parts. The funny thing is, while she has figured out that she and I both have feet and toes, apparently I am the only one who has a belly button. When I ask about bellybuttons, she crawls over, lifts up my shirt, looks at my midriff searchingly, and then bores her pointy finger into my navel.

And while Jim and I, as well as several stuffed animals, have noses and even mouths, she apparently doesn't. And only the frog-shaped sponge has eyes. This afternoon, she also mastered hand. If you ask her where her hand is, she holds one out, palm up, and looks at it as though possibly a previously unknown gospel of Jesus Christ has been discovered on it.

She is very excited about tails and has just figured out, this afternoon, that not only Moesie, but also Barney, has a tail.

On the subject of toes, I am going to have to stop nibbling on her delicious little feet, because I do it so often that the other day she crawled over to my big toe and started gnawing on it.

Right now, she reminds me of a puppy, the gangly limbs going every which way, the goofy grin, the affection expressed by flinging her body recklessly at mine, followed by an enthusiastic nuzzle or lick of whatever chunk of my body she has managed to grab at or land on.

Best. Kid. Ever.

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