A Shirt, a Balloon, and Some Drums
I anticipate that in the near future, I will be banned
from H&M. I know this because every time I pass the store, I am
sucked into the baby section where I find something so wondrously,
fantastically, over-the-top-ly awesome for Eliza that I inevitably
end up standing in that back corner of the store gesticulating and
whooping and shrieking with delight like some sort of large, out-of-control
Last week's brilliant find was this fabulous shirt,
which I love with an unholy passion. It's not even so much the shirt,
although it is funny enough — and frighteningly accurate—on
a little kid. It's the juxtapositioning of the shirt with the Michelangelo
putti cheeks and eyes and fluffy hair. I am utterly powerless
in the face of this onslaught of cherub-ness.
Anyway, the shirt made its debut Sunday, a busy day
of social outings.
First, we went to J. and D.'s house to celebrate
O.'s first birthday. They put on a good kid's party. The house
was littered with children and Cole made the rounds, licking as he
went. I was thrilled to see Eliza NOT following the the footsteps
of 3 generations of dog-phobics in my family; when Cole licked her
face, she cackled with delight. Ever since, she's been pointing and
making happy shrieks every time she sees a dog. Today in Amherst,
she saw a min-pin and actually startled the dog and its owner with
her sudden "Aaaaaarrrriiiiiiii!"
There were lots of games and toys every where, and watching
the kids play was entertainment in itself. Eliza really likes other
people, as we've established, and she thinks other kids are cool,
too, but she's a bit young yet to really grasp the concept of playing
with others. She and her friend S., who is a month younger, sit
next to each other ignoring the other person, playing with their own
toys. When they do interact, it's with a total lack of respect for
boundaries, poking each other in the face and (in Eliza's case) crawling
all over S., who is the most mellow baby ever.
At the party, Eliza was intrigued by the big kids, who,
with the help of a friend's husband, constructed a big tall stack
of Legos. Come ot think of it, it was the Legos more than anything
that drew her. She wanted to hug them and love them and lick them,
desires that were incompatible with the uprightness of the tower,
but as it was being constructed to be knocked down, I didn't think
much of it, and I took some pictures of her. I love her sweet maniacal
glee in this picture above.
Then it was time to move on to the carnival at Smith
Voke. Eliza has discovered balloons and their strings, so getting
one was at the top of our to-do list. Small children with balloon
strings tied around their wrists=ungodly amounts of preciousness.
As we have also previously established, Eliza likes
herself some music. The parade last weekend was a hit on this account,
and at the carnival, Enchanted Circle Theater came to perform a piece
that featured Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean singing and dancing
and drumming. Eliza shows all the signs of becoming as big a drumslut
as her mama, gawking raptly at the spectacle, bouncing up and down
and waving her arms around in what passes for dancing when you can't
stand on your own yet.
As the musicians headed for the climactic moment of
their production, the excitement of the day just plain flattened Eliza.
She leaned against my shoulder with a thousand-yard stare, and a minute
later, frenzied drumming notwithstanding, she was totally done.
As ever, Jim and I are seeking to leverage the child-rearing
expenses through new and amusing avenues. Because I am much too lazy
to be a stage mom and Eliza can't play a sport yet, modeling and college
scholarships are currently not an option. I think we have stumbled
upon something potentially lucrative, however: We're going to rent
her out as a chick magnet for single guys. And, hey, it's Northampton
— single butch lesbians.
Jim takes Eliza to Starbucks several times a week, and
aside from the baby-enjoys-her-excursion angle, he readily admits
that part of his motivation is the number of compliments he gets.
From girls. Hot ones, even. OK, he didn't say those last two, but
I can put two and two together.
Last weekend, I accompanied them. When we walked in,
Jim and Eliza got in line — I was a bit behind because I was
threading the stroller between tables, and that gave us enough distance
that I didn't immediately look like I was with them.
Now, I can say honestly that Eliza and I don't lack
for positive comments from strangers when we hang out, but man! Womenfolk
flocked! Oh, that baby is SO CUTE! She has the BEST SHOES! She is
SO WELL-BEHAVED! They would not leave Jim and Eliza alone.
When we finally sat down, I told Jim that it was truly
a shame that he was married, because that kid is a total chick magnet.
He agreed, and that's how we came up with our business plan.
And lest you think I'm offended, I think it's great
that other people think my kid is cute and my husband is hot. It's
a nice ego boost for me that I get to lay claim to both of these amazing
people. Besides, I think it's karma balancing out the flirty server
in the sailor costume who handcuffed me at the gay bar 2 years ago,
but THAT, my friends, is a story for another, possibly drunker day.
Hi. Still Hostile.
It has been pointed out to me that I am perhaps a wee
tad hostile toward people who make comments about how my kid looks
sleepy all the time.
Recognizing that this is true, and that my own insecurities,
anger management problems, etc., etc., are in play, I still say, why
do people do this?!
Whenever I am out with the kid anytime past 4 p.m.,
I get these comments, and it's not just the occasional, "Hey,
sleepyhead," which is annoying and inaccurate. No, I get MONOLOGUES,
entire soliloquies, if you will, wherein I stand by while some random
stranger declaims extensively on my child's need for sleep.
It reminds me of this reality show I watched while we
had HBO this summer, about the owner and workers in a legal Nevada
brothel (Have I mentioned that I was out of my mind this summer? Because
I think that may be germane here). The owner, a guy in his late 50s,
early 60s, kept horning in on conversations the women were having
about techniques they were using, making comments along the lines
of, "Hahaha, I know that one, you just go such and such and do
this and that and Woooo!" And the women would all look at him
like, "Dude, this is SO NOT YOUR TERRITORY."
OK, so this post has detoured badly with the whole motherhood/brothel
comparison, but where I'm going with this is that a lot of the comments
that irk me the most seem to be coming from the same sort of place,
some misguided attempt by others who know nothing about us to show
off how well they understand the travails of parenting in general
and this situation in particular. What they're really showing is that
they understand very little.
Like nothing else that I've ever done, parenting is
filled with judgment. Because, obviously, so much is at stake, every
single decision is, in effect, a butterfly effect experiment as you
make the best calls you can based on research and your gut and hope
that the path you're choosing results in a happy, fulfilled, confident,
successful child — however you and your child define those terms.
I have learned very quickly that there is no one path
that works for every parent and every child, and that a lot of the
absolutes you set out for yourself at the beginning are dust in the
wind quickly enough (No pitocin or pain meds during delivery, breastfeeding
till 12 months, no co-sleeping ever, no crying it out ever, no PINK
As a corrollary, I have learned that some choices that
are totally wrong for us (attachment parenting, elimination communicatin
and early toilet training, nursing past infancy) may work VERY well
for other parent-child combinations. And just because I don't choose
to follow your path does not mean I condemn it. There are as many
correct paths of parenting as there are roads to enlightenment (but
let's not go there, because if I added Buddhism to this already festering
brew of hostility, whores, and parenting, I think the computer would
But I have also found that everyone you meet is happy
to be your backseat driver, whether they know you and your child or
not. Which I get in the non-parents more than the parents —
see above ignorant absolutes — but find myself having little
patience for in people who have been through this. Whether it's the
sleep thing (and yes, I do get this from non-parents and parents alike),
my decisions regarding pumping, our schedule as regards childcare,
the fact that Jim and I continue to enjoy an occasional concert, whatever.
The reason this sets me off is that, in addition to
the whole over-developed sense of guilt which is the lasting legacy
of my years in Catholic school, and despite our society's talk of
equality, it still feels like the blame for being a bad parent, and
accordingly the fears that you are being one and/or will be accused
of being one, fall more heavily on the mother's shoulders. Just look
at all those "parenting" magazines — aside from the
occasional, pathetic, "househusbands are people, too" manifesto,
there's NOTHING in there about or for dads. Mom, so goes the unspoken
reasoning, is still expected to be the guding force in these matters
— regardless of a family's actual make-up. I guess the peer
pressure is getting to me.
(To this I hasten to add for the record that I think
Jim is a fantastic dad and wonderfully involved and shouldering his
half of the burden (which includes a fair bit of un-freak-outing me,
big surprise). While I am a little grumpy that he passed on the whole
weird sleeping thing to Eliza WITHOUT the sanguine coping skills to
handle the above, I am so glad to be in this together with him.)
I am a little chagrined to realize that I am such a
lemming after all. I always prided myself on a "Screw that"
mentality. But again, there's that little matter of how high the stakes
are. Because above all I do not want to screw this up. If I mess with
my own life, big deal, I'll figure it out. But Eliza? That's precious
cargo, and God, what if they ARE right? What if everything I've thought
and reasoned and researched and argued and laid awake at night about
is wrong? Or, what if it's not precisely wrong, but it will get her
ostracized, or looked at funny, or for whatever reason rob her of
Because this, THIS is what's at stake.
"Hello, House of the Baby Who Is Getting On My LAST NERVE!!"
That, friends, is how I answered the phone this afternoon
when Jim called to say hello. He laughed: It's funny because it's
true, in the words of the immortal Homer Simpson.
The screaming during the diaper and clothing changes,
it wears me down. A few nights ago, I Googled the subject and came
up with some suggestions, most of which I already have tried, and
the rest of which would send the kid into outer space. I figured I'd
give the idea of letting her be upright and letting her set the pace/take
a break between stages of the process another shot.
While it has reduced the baby swearing, we have a 300
percent increase in the peeing on the floor, and a 100 percent increase
in the open-air pooping. The peeing is how we started the day. Then
there were tantrums (I am not letting her set the damn pace when she
poops, thank you very much for your helpful hints) and shouting, and
for a change of pace, screaming.
There was angry standing (which includes, guess what,
shrieking) before the morning nap in spite of the fact that she was
Then we drove Grandma Texas to the airport and though
Eliza was adorable playing with the box of arrowroot crackers, the
final outcome of that experiment in not-screaming (only partially
successful; still got a good dose of Fonzy-Aaaaayyyyyyyys) is a fine
film of animal cracker dust all over my car.
Then there was tired whining — eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaargh!
— until I put her in bed, at which point she went nuclear and
tried to flay my flesh with the noise. (There's an old Kate Bush song,
IV, wherein she tells a sci-fi tale of some scientists working
to discover a lethal noise, and Katie, sweetie, I gotcher noise right
After many minutes of angry standing and Experiment
IV-level noise, there was no sleeping whatsoever, so I gave up.
I decided to take her to the pool, not sure, at this
point, whether I would be joining her in the water or just throwing
her in to fend for herself (KIDDING! Mostly.).
Once wrestled into the swim diaper, she uttered a very
convincing-smelling fart. I had to take many layers off again (screa-he-he-ming),
before discovering that it was a false alarm.
Loaded her into the car (weasels-are-ripping-my-flesh
howls of pain). Took her out (wolverines this time).
Went swimming, no problem.
Puked on herself/me in the locker because she drank
too much pool water.
Peed on the floor at the YMCA in the locker room. (Yowling
when mama attempted to clean up mess.)
Fell dead asleep in car, woke up, played with empty
Removal of clothing (pain, weasels, etc.). Put her in
the crib while I heated the bottle (starving abandoned baby screaming).
Put baby in bed (sad pathetic half-asleep whimpering,
funny because baby on stomach with butt sticking in the air).
Mama tired now. Also, freaked out, because I Googled
the diaper/clothing business again and am now convinced Eliza has
Sensory Integration Dysfunction and will need extensive therapy to
lead a normal life. Good times.
Before you, the spambots and spiders who are my main
audience, become convinced that we are a hideous and miserable household,
I have to note for posterity the saving graces of today.
1. The yogurt cup. This falls into that "Why bother
with children's toys when they have random household goods to work
with?" category. She LOVES this yogurt cup. And she sits there,
all serious-like, too absorbed half the time to even lick the thing,
working out, again and again, how to get that lid to snap on and come
off again. The whole time, she does that excellent snort-panting that
she does like no one else. To die for.
2. The cracker eating. This was more mad-scientist stuff.
I gave her the box, which had been previously opened but which I'd
closed, and let her have at it. In the mirror, I watched as she pondered
the thing from all angles, pulled the top open, figured out what was
inside, pulled out the bag, shook it out, ate some crackers, pondered
the box some more...
3. The swimming. Our instructor had advised us to take
our kiddos swimming on our own this week since we'd be missing a class,
so that's what I did. It was the best 30 minutes of our day. Eliza
LOVES the water. She kicks her legs, she splashes with her hands,
she cackles like a little crazy chicken, oh my god does she love it.
We practiced kicking, we tried some assisted back-floating, blew some
bubbles (though she drinks the water mostly, to the above-mentioned
effect), doggy-paddled. My favorite, though, was that I put her on
the side, and when I was ready, I told her to get in, and with a giggle
she flung herself off the side into the water and my arms. Over and
over. Her joy, and her trust in me, were absolute and pure, and a
treasure for me to carry along during days like today.
UPDATED: I was sitting downstairs medicating myself
with veggie chips and custard-filled muffins (can they even legally
call that a muffin anymore? It's more like a cupcake without the stigma)
when I saw on the monitor that there was noise coming from Eliza's
room. I turned up the sound and heard the sweetest little snore, so
I went to investigate. She asleep on her knees, butt in the air, right
side of her face smooshed against the matress, and in her sleep, she
has inched up about a foot from where she first landed when I put
her in the crib tonight. Anne Geddes wishes she could take this picture.
The cuteness, it burns! It burns!
Fetch, the Next Level
The kid has some pretty stiff competition in the cute
department from the cats lately.
Moe's trick? She bounds onto the banister post at the
bottom of the stairs, and meows until someone comes and pets her.
Barney, meanwhile, is working his little mousie fetch
game for all he's worth. For a long time now, he's played fetch with
mousies - you throw, he brings it back and drops it near you for you
to throw again.
I'm here to tell you that 2 minutes ago, I held out
my hand, and he dropped. the. mousie. INTO MY HAND.
Oh. My. God. He just did it again.
Now if only I could convince him to stop walking on
the damn keys while I'm trying to type.
I've discussed the angry standing and the anti-nap resistance
leader binky tossing before, but as of yesterday, we have a new entry:
Trying to put her down for her nap yesterday, we encountered
the usual objections, plus a greater-than-average amount of red-faced-ness
and grunting. That's right, she poops in protest.
More Mutants, Angry Shamrocks,
and Unclear On the Concept
R.E. The tiny mutant irises — apparently, post-partum
depression makes me purchase REALLY SHORT FLOWERS. I bought these
gobs of bulbs off the internet in the midst of my most deep misery,
and I suppose it's nice and all that I chose to manifest my mental
unwellness this way as opposed to bad tattoos or drinking binges,
but really, how weird is it that I bought all these REALLY SHORT FLOWERS?
Because, in addition to the tiny irises that are taking over my flower
beds, now, there are itty-bitty daffodils coming up. These things
have stems so short it looks like the plant has been buried up to
the flower. It's unsettling, and yet to terribly, terribly cute.
Hmmmm. Perhaps the cuteness overdose of the household
has simply spilled out into the yard....
Grandma Texas came up in part to run the St. Patrick's
Day Race this past weekend, and on Sunday we were joined by Jim's
dad and stepmom for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. With all this Erin
Go Bragh going around, I felt we should be at least minimally accoutered
for the holiday.
I bought some green napkins and a shamrock-shaped candy
dish (which, OK, I admit, I filled with Puerto Rican plantains), and
I made Irish lamb stew and soda bread.
I also bought these thingers for Eliza to wear to the
race and parade, but as you can see, she was NOT in favor:
Grandma Texas tried to help by showing her that all
the cool people wear shamrock deelyboppers this time of year:
It didn't really work, because though Eliza thought
they were nifty on other people, she just didn't want to be caught
dead in them.
We put them on her again just before the race, and because
they were over her snowsuit, it took her a while to figure out they
were there, so we were able to get this picture before she wigged
After all that shamrock modeling, I figured I owed her
and today I bought Eliza these shoes to wear when spring finally gets
here for real:
Could they be any cuter?
Nope, didn't think so!
Somewhat Unclear on the Concept: Giving, and Guitar
Eliza has learned a terribly endearing new social interaction:
I should say, spontaneous giving.
For a few weeks now, she has responded to a request
for something by placing the item in the asker's hand. (See March
But a few days ago, I gave her a cookie to try, and
she didn't like it. She turned the matter over in her mind for a moment,
then stuck the cookie out at me. When I thanked her, she looked pleased.
Later that same meal, she took it one step further with a piece of
peach that she was also not that excited about, and put the peach
in my mouth.
The success of these two endeavors has inspired her.
In the last few days I have received numerous Cheerios (both dry and
saliva-dampened), banana (half-eaten), several binkies, a fridge magnet,
and an occasional mousie.
Also held in high esteem by Eliza are chapsticks, which
she will not give outright, instead resting them in your palm for
a few seconds before reclaiming them.
She is also fond of guitar picks, and because she is
always trying to put them in her mouth, we are trying to teach her
the correct usage. I am SO proud to say that my child is now capable
of strumming a guitar with a pick.
What's funny is how she got there: One day, after yet
another eating attempt, we took the pick away from her and sitracted
her with one of Jim's innumerable chapsticks, and the tiny wheels
in her brain clicked on, and she started gleefuly strumming with the
chapstick. If Jimmy Page can use a violin bow, our kid can for damn
sure use a chapstick!
And finally, I admit to spending probably more time
than I should worrying about whether Eliza's development is progressing
as it should for her age. My co-dependent enablers in this are the
authors of Everything You Always Thought Was Innocuous Is Really
A Sign of Disaster, who list common milestones for a child's
age in each chapter of their horror of a book. (Why do I keep reading?
Well, it's like the raccoon roadkill near our house in Portage when
I was a kid. I was unspeakably grossed out by the 20-foot section
of intestine that trailed out from the corpse, which lay there, day
after day, rotting away, but I. COULD. NOT. STOP. LOOKING.)
Anyway, as I noted above, one of the milestones for
Eliza's age is following a simple, gestured command. When she started
doing the "give" thing, I said, "great, check that
one off." But today, I realized that she is actually FAR advanced
in this particular area, because it was back in January, at about
7 months, that Barney trained her to open her mouth and pant when
he came over to smell her breath.
What does it say that my kid repsonded to an animal
before her parents?
Wherein I Do Not Have My Act Together and Vamp with Another List of
Things You Should Know About Eliza, and Photos
1. The current must-have toy for this season's hip baby
is apparently toothpaste. This little tube of Colgate has accompanied
Eliza to many places, including the tub.
2. Paul and Elizabeth's may be Eliza and my new favorite
restaurant, on account of the fact that the kid's menu includes, for
$2, a plate of sliced cheddar cheese. Heaven, we're in heaven!
3. Eliza currently has a Pavlov's dog reaction to the
words, "Bye-bye!" Yesterday, I was recounting to Jim some
story about how she waved bye-bye to something, and every time I spoke
the word, she began to wave.
4. Grandma Texas, who is visiting, worked her way onto
Eliza's short list of favorite people by means of a gift that was
wrapped in crinkly plastic.
5. After a successful run of diary product experiments,
we have run into something Eliza does not like: cottage cheese. I
gave it to her the other day, and on the first spoonful, she shuddered
and made a face. On the second, she gagged dramatically. I have suspended
all cottage cheese operations because I do not wish to wear any.
6. The screaming for the diaper changing? Still happening!
Even the surprise addition to the diaper-changing roster of Grandma
Texas did not deter her from the usual noisiness.
7. My friend J. says —jokingly—that she's
convinced we're highlighting Eliza's hair because it is currently
a reverse-root tone-on-tone blond (see above), with the ends being
strawberry blond, and the new (since birth) growth being ash blond.
8. Current tooth tally: 8 — four on top, four
on the bottom.
9. Eliza is in a wonderfully affectionate phase, which
especially manifests itself when she is tired. Then, she throws herself
against me and buries her little face in my shirtfront. Usually, said
little face is food-covered, so I have taken to wearing hobo clothes
in the evening.
10. I think she is getting close to speaking. Often,
she says "Dih!" when she sees a cat, and I think she may
be trying to wrap her mind and mouth around "Kitty." She
also says "Da!" in a very declarative way, like she's trying
to make a point or direct our attention somewhere. Can't wait to see
where it leads. I think the smart money's on "Kitty" being
her first word, although smart money's been wrong before.
Apparently, last fall, as part of my 200-bulb planting
frenzy, I planted little mutant irises. These little guys are about
5 inches tall, and they are blooming now - most irises go May-June-ish
They are just the cutest little things, though, and
I'm thrilled to have them:
I also am getting more traditional early-spring floral
fare, like crocuses:
I have gobs of daffodil leaves coming up, and I forgot
entirely what varieties I ordered, so I am excited to see them bloom.
On Saturday, when we went to the Mexican place with
Eliza, we arrived during lunch rush. The tables are quite close together
and stationary. We wedged the high chair between two. Having baby
ADD, Eliza got quite distracted during the meal at various points
and twisted and fidgeted around in her chair to examine her surroundings.
Which was fine until she turned around to face the people at the next
table and spotted a plastic cup of sour cream, and as we four adults
watched — Jim and I in horror, the couple next to us (thankfully)
in amusement —she gleefully grabbed the cup and stuck her fingers
into the sour cream up to her second knuckle.
Quoth the Raving
Jim to Eliza today, after the latter came at the neck
of the guitar he was playing with baby fangs bared for a good gnawing:
"No! You can't play the guitar with your teeth until you're as
good as Jimi Hendrix. You have to learn the basics first!"
He also explained that he had tried to teach her the
fundamentals of harmonica playing (i.e. blow into the the little holes)
but was, thus far, unsuccessful.
Eliza's musical learning keyboard is next to the cabinet
where I keep my shirts. She loves to play with the learning keyboard,
especially as she has lately discovered the whole ball tube business,
and she loves to drag my clothes off the shelves. The last few days,
she has attempted to combine these two great loves of hers, and keeps
trying to stuff my shirts into the ball tube.
That she is completely unsuccessful fazes her not a
This afternoon, she stuck her toothbrush in there, and
this apparently was all the encouragement she needed to keep going.
Did You Make Farties?
I need to talk to the dude who invented the 30 or however
many words the Eskimos allegedly have for snow, because we need to
get him working on the cuteness synonyms.
This morning, we had our second swim class, and it was
a rousing success, most especially in the area of desperate clinging.
That is to say, there was none — Eliza was markedly more comfortable
in the water this week, and so clearly having a blast. She even started
kicking her legs. On the downside, blowing bubbles still turns into
drinking the water most of the time.
I was prepared for the singing this time, having practiced
"If you're Happy and You Know It" with Eliza throughout
the week, in part because, according to my You're Always Doing
Everything Wrong book she's supposed to be learning to clap.
Although she is imitating us all over the place — holding her
toy cellphone to her ear with a quizzical expression on her face,
flicking light switches on and off, whacking the knocker on the front
door — clapping is one of those things she does not feel like
However, she likes the song just fine. We also did "Ring-Around-the-Rosie,"
and a. is it just me or is that the creepiest nursery rhyme ever and
b. what's up with that second verse? I didn't even know there was
a second verse. Furthermore, what do the cows who are frightened of
thunder have to do with posies?
We also had free time again and we played with an exciting
ball that had little nubbly spikes on it; it was a big hit, this ball.
When it was time to end free time, I told her we had to bring the
"Time to say bye-bye to the ball," I said,
and, completely unprompted, she waved bye-bye to the ball.
After naptime, we headed back to Northampton with Daddy,
so we could enjoy the beautiful weather outside. After some errands,
we had lunch at Bueno Y Sano (Mexican), including Eliza, who had a
bean and cheese soft taco. Eliza was very excited about her meal,
although Jim was concerned about the beans, or rather their process
through Eliza's system. 8 hours later, I can say, so far, so good.
I ate burritos all the time while I was nursing and she never had
problems, so I'm not too worried. Chinese food, that was another story,
but I do not wish to digress in that direction.
This does bring me to the observation I made today,
that I seem to spent a disproportionate amount of my conversations
with Eliza discussing her bodily functions, to the point where, when
she's a teenager, if she remembers any of this, I'm going to have
to shell out for the therapy.
It's self-defense. She's with me so often in public
places, and with the trucker burps, the eerily accurate raspberries,
and the occasional loud poop, I just feel like I have to protect myself
from being unfairly maligned as a public farter and burper. So in
case you overhear me, you should know that I utter sentences like,
"Wow, that was a good burp, kiddo" or "Did you make
poopies?!" strictly in an attempt to exonerate myself.
These were last night's PJs. Putting on the PJs at night is often
a stressfilled occasion for Eliza.
And, therefore, for me as well.
This could have something to do with the fact that
during last night's wrestling match I actually managed to put the
shirt on upside down, i.e. instead of her head coming up through the
trunk of the shirt, it was actually inserted INTO the trunk. Things
were then further complicated when Eliza stuck her hand up, as she
always does so I can insert it in a sleeve, and somehow managed to
wedge it through the neckhole as well.
It's at this point that I discovered my mistake and
Eliza began expressing her displeasure in earnest. I believe baby-swears
Here, Take This. Now Give It Back. No, Take It, Really.
Eliza has clearly been reading our copy of What
to Freak Out About the First Year, because in the past few days,
she's racked up new accomplishments like she's planning to check them
off on the list.
There's the whole crawling-while-holding-items-in-one-hand
thing. So cute, especially when the item is big and she steps on it
with her knee and then she has to yank really hard and she almost
sends herself flying.
Then there's the waving to not-parents. Anyone willing
to carry on like an idiot and flap their arms about like spastic chickens
will generally get a wave in return. Except when they don't of course,
because Missy likes to keep it unpredictable.
Then there's the whole I'm-thirsty-where's-my-cup-thanks-I'm-good-I'll
do-it-myself business. Still not using a sippy cup, because those
bastards are totally irritating, but the straw cup? Totally got that
and has even figured out how to flip the top open.
The book says babies should be following simply gestured
commands. As of this week, if you say, "Can I have that?"
or "Can you give that to me?" with an outstretched hand,
she will hand you whatever it is that she is holding. And then if
you give it back to her, she will look at it in wonderment for a few
moments, then fling her arm in your direction to give whatever it
is back to you. This back and forth can go for hours.
But she is stingy with chapstick and onesies. I asked
for both when she was holding them at various points. The chapstick
(Jim's) she would rest in my hand, her fingers curled tightly around
it, for a few seconds before taking it back, and the onesie, she tugged
out of my grasp.
Yesterday, I gave her a spoon and showed her how she
could scoop her food herself. She scooped twice and manhandled the
spoon mouthwards, then handed it back to me with an expression that
clearly said "Woman, that's too much work!"
Grasped today for the first time is that you can put
the ball into the ball tube, and it will come out the other end, and
then you can pick it up and put it in the tube again. Or you can just
stick your hand in there and wiggle it around and set off the musical
The pointy finger is also new and touchy. ln the past
48 hours, Eliza has taken to pointing. It's an unpredictable point.
Generally, the pointy finger goes, but sometimes she does this funny
Bill Clinton hand gesture* :
And tonight, trying to repeat a success from earlier
today, I brought Eliza into the bedroom where Barney was lounging
on the bed and asked her, "Where's the kitty?"
Her response? "Plllrrrrt! Da!"
* Woah! I was looking for the picture
of Bill Clinton doing the hand gesture I meant and I found these crazy
people. Who knew George and Laura Bush were Satanists?!
Mind Like a Sieve
Today, I had the babysitter come for several hours so
that I could go talk to a store for one of my fashion stories and
then go wild and crazy for an hour.
My wild-and-craziness consisted of buying a new shower
curtain and bathmats (Mom is coming to visit and the shower curtain
with the red algae growths on it? Not so welcoming.) The bathmats
are red, and I was concerned about inadvertant patriotism au toilet,
but it looks pretty nice, actually. Eliza likes it. She is partial
to red, or maybe it's just an incipient Elmo infatuation. When we
read the Elmo book about colors, and I ask her to show me red, she
pats Elmo. Yellow and orange still elude her. Big bird, apparently,
is not so charming for babies.
Anyway. So, after the exciting bathroom purchases, I
headed for the Y. Imagine: I exercised for a half hour without being
paranoid the whole time that the baby watch people would come get
me on account of thw wigging out! Although, to be fair, Eliza rarely
does the wigging out anymore, neglecting her screaming in favor of
exercising her immune system by licking all the communal toys.
So I got to the locker room to change, priding myself
on having had my act together enough to remember to grab my sneakers
when I left the house. Except, whoops, I forgot PANTS. This is a fairly
significant oversight in terms of workout gear, but I wasn't about
to give up this opportunity, so I left my dress pants on, put on my
sneakers and t-shirt, and for good measure, tied a fleece around my
waist so people wouldn't be able to see the velvet trim on the waistband,
and ellipticalled like nothng was the matter.
Verily, yea, I doth be smooth.
These are all the states
I have been so far.
These are all the countries.
And you can make
Tragically Unclear on the Concept: Kissing
I think it's possible Eliza may be trying to kiss me.
Sometimes, especially after I have completely contaminated her with
yet another outburst of kisses all over the face, she comes at me
with her mouth open, then latches on, suckerfish-like, to my chin
or jaw or nose or whatever other protruberance she is able to locate.
For a long time, I figured she was trying to bite me but if she wanted
to bite me, duh, she WOULD. So I really think it might be a particularly
inept attempt at kissing.
Not entirely unrelated is this: Every day, Jim relates
to me all the compliments our prodigiously cute offspring garnered
during their day together. Yesterday, we'd been discussing the fact
that Eliza is nearly off the charts for her height — which strikes
us as funny given her parents' extreme average-ness in that regard—
when he wondered aloud, "Why don't they have charts for cuteness?"
I have no idea, but I find it ineffably cute how ridiculously
biased he is regarding all things Eliza.
Ass over Teakettle
Eliza's door is difficult to close for several reasons,
but the main one is that the wood has, after 75 years, warped significantly.
We used to bungee-cord it shut, but lately we've figured out how to
give it a good yank and get the pokey-outy part to click into the
hole thingie. (I have, by the way, an excellent command oF the intricacies
of door anatomy.)
Yesterday, I was doing the same, and suddenly, with
a very graceless flail and a thud, I was flat on my back on the floor.
Jim looked concerned, my elbow and my butt hurt, and I think I may
have strained a back muscle.
What happens, since I came away from the experience
with half the doorknob in my hand, is that apparently, said half of
the doorknob is, or rather was, connected to the other half by a rim
of metal that held the whole business in place throgh some sort of
tension setting. Our repeated yanking, however, put enough pressure
on the metal that it finally gave way with the above-mentioned balletic
At some point, it is now obvious, we are going to have
to stop jury-rigging the damn door and actually fix it.
A Busy Weekend
In the first of many attempts to find the talent that
we can pimp out for college scholarships, Eliza has started swim class.
It's one of those mommy-and-me deals, so I brought her
down and got in the water with her as the instructor led us through
a set of baby-friendly water activities.
First, we're going to sing the Washing Song, the instructor
What, pray tell, is the Washing Song, I wondered, and
then a nanosecond later, singing?! No one said there would be singing!
In one fell swoop I was forced to re-examine my "Eliza will only
learn good music and none of that juvenile singalong baby lullaby
crap" policy. Because, obviously, the Washing Song was composed
neither by U2, nor by Bruce Springsteen, but all the cool kids seem
to know it.
lipsynced sang the Washing Song (This is
the way we wash our feet, wash our feet, wash our feet, this is the
way we wash our feet early in the morning; repeat with other body
parts), and then we took our kids in the water and swirled them around
like they were big oreos in milk and bobbed them up and down like
we were catching fish and then we had to sing about being happy and
clapping our hands, which I knew because of the Church Lady from mid-1980s
SNL skits, thank god, and then we did free time.
Throughout the class Eliza sent mixed signals on the
order of the barking dog who wags his tail. On the one hand, there
was crazed grinning and cackling and arm-waving and general baby mirth.
On the other was the fact that she had such a tight grip on my bathing
suit straps that I thought she was going to peel the damn thing off
my body rather than let go. She relaxed when I flipped her onto her
back, with her head on my shoulder, staring up at the ceiling. Eliza
is enamored of ceiling fixtures of any sort, and there was plenty
going on in the swim hall rafters.
This week, we will work on blowing bubbles at home.
She knows how and does it in her bath water all the time; I just have
to figure out a way to get her to do it on command...
And, Person of the Week!
After swim class, we rushed home — or at any rate,
as much as is possible when one of you, midway through the process,
raises objections to getting dressed — so we could take our
excursion to New York.
We got to Jeanne's house at 2, and I am duty-bound to
give her a hard time (I already did so IRL) because in her directions,
she told us to look for the house with the blue shutters and the columns
in the front. Imagine, if you will, our consternation at pulling into
her neighborhood and seeing three houses fitting this description.
It turns out theirs was the house with the square columns, but still.
Anyway, we toured the new house, met Gary's lizard (who
is very pretty and would make an excellent purse), and totally over-explained
how to take care of Eliza, especially when you consider that Jeanne
a. has 2 kids of her own and b. is a teacher. She clearly needed to
know the underpinnings to our philosophy on binkies. Thank god she
is also a patient person.
As we left, Eliza was being entertained by the Stony
Point Puppetry Theater (that'd be James and Ryan).
Jim and I had ourselves a nifty evening in New York.
First, we ate Korean food. Which was extremely tasty, although I suspect
that they gave us the white-person (i.e. wussy) kimchi, because I
was nowhere near sweaty and/or crying as I ate it, which is unlike
my usual kimchi experience.
Then, we saw the Strokes. I can take them or leave them,
but they do put on a good show. As entertaining as the band, however,
was the crowd (which included Drew(!) Barrymore(!) and Jimmy (!) Fallon
(!)). I expected hipster apathy and was shocked to see them light
up the joint — there was dancing and pogoing and moshing and
extremely loud singing along of the variety that only happens when
a mass of people completely abandons its previous relationship to
coolness and goes for connection and joy instead. Even the overgrown
fratboys next to us were endearingly enthusiastic, though it's been
a while since I've seen actual adult humans give each other noogies.
Back home, Jeanne said Eliza'd gone to sleep just fine
— had, in fact, had a great time and knocked the collective
socks of the family, until about 20 minutes before we got home. Once
she got hugs and kisses from us, she quickly went back to sleep.
Jeanne had said she'd take Eliza in the morning when
she woke up. I think I was pretty dismissive/bordering on incredulous;
I've gotten used to being the only person who will entertain the kid
at 5 a.m.
Well, wouldn't you know it, at Eliza's first early morning
cackle, Jeanne was at our door demanding that we hand over the infantry.
And God Bless Her, because I got to sleep in until 7:30! That's the
latest I've slept in 4 or 5 months.
So, Jeanne is my person of the week, with James and
Ryan, aka the entertainment committee, following close behind. And
Gary, because he has the lizard and he showed Jim a way cool new online
music thingie, www.pandora.com.
And, Jeanne and Gary's house, which features 3 ceiling fans, Eliza's
favorite type of ceiling fixture. She was so gobsmacked by the plethora
that she forgot to scream during the diaper changes.
And, Tired, Tired Baby Who Is Teething Again!
At 6:30 Sunday evening, Eliza had hit the wall with
greater force than usual. Swim class, travel, family brunch with grandparents
and cousins who also came over— every synapse was fried, and
my poor little Poo simply couldn't hold it together anymore.
Bath made her cry, food made her cry, being held made
her cry, not being held made her cry — add to that the teeth
coming in (bottom ones, on either side of her beaver teeth) that we
didn't notice yesterday — and she was so done.
She had kept up with all we'd thrown at her so well
but now, it obvious to see, her brain was full and she just wanted
to go to sleep so badly. I put her in her crib and she turned on her
side and stared off into the dark for a minute, let out a little deflating
sigh/sob, and nodded off.
Ugh. I am sick and it's no fun. The oxygen deprivation
promises to make this a very random post.
I woke up with one of those colds where your skin feels
like it's not properly attached to your body and sitting down on a
cold toilet seat is the most unpleasant thing you do all day. I have
vitamin-ed, smoothied, Airborned and hot showered, and still, my brain
feels like it's going to fall out the back of my head.
Thankfully, Eliza seems to be aware that Mama is at
half-mast today; she is playing fairly independently. She has some
new toys, includng something like this,
only smaller and not $500. I also got her a baby cell phone and keys,
because, frankly, the thin film of drool covering our electronics
was starting to get to me.
She played with all three very well and now, she is
unloading my spring T-shirts from the closet and waving them around
I'm crossing my fingers, now, that The Poo will not
get my cold, which is another reason I've been pleased with the independent
play today. Less chance of me infecting her.
In addition to the usual reasons for not wanting her
to get sick (grumpy baby, no sleep for Mama), we have plans to go
to New York this weekend — Jim and I will head into the city
to get a little cultcha, and Eliza will hang out with her cousins
James and Ryan. Auntie Jeanne has been itching for some
princess time. She has no idea what she's in for.
I am VERY excited about New York. I got me some jeans
that do not muffin-top (squeeze the waist so tightly the roll of fat
extrudes all around, like a muffin) and some killer boots
so that I do not look like too much of a dork at The Strokes concert
we are attending. I am not really that big a fan of The Strokes, but
what the hell, it's an excuse to head to New York.
Later in the spring, we will be heading to the MOMA
for the Edvard
Munch show. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see this show.
130 pieces of art by Munch. I had a conniption when the Guggenheim
hung out one, so my brain may well explode...
It is almost time to get my little closet-organizer
I love our bedtime ritual. I change her (OK, I don't
love that part, because it generally includes what our babysitter
then we settle into the rocking chair with the bottle. I tell her
the story of Little
Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, which I know from memory
at this point, and then I tell her I love her just as much as Big
Nutbrown Hare loves Little Nutbrown Hare. And then I tell her, "Mama
loves Eliza's toes. Mama loves Eliza's feet. Mama loves Eliza's ankles,"
and so on. When I get to "Mama loves Eliza's tushie," she
starts snickering in anticipation because I'm about to tel her that
I loves her belly and I tickle her belly and she wiggles a little.
And by the time I get to the top of her head she is so relaxed and
snuggled into the crook of my arm I have to remind myself that I can't
sit with her all night.
Among all of the reasons I am taking my sabbatical from
karate, this is maybe the biggest. This week, because of various fun
and work things, it has worked out that 4 nights, someone else will
put Eliza to bed. And (wonderful and amazing as our babysitter is,
and generous as Jim's sister is, and excited about New York as I am)
I miss it so much. When we have had a good day, it's a way to cap
it off. And when it's been a bad one, this is the way to push the
reset button and tell her that no matter what, I will always love
her. In a not-Whitney Houston way.
When her sleep schedule and our life schedule change
and three classes a week no longer means that I'm giving that precious
moment away, then I'll go back to karate.
And finally, some random things I love about life with
We have a package of cheddar cheese in the fridge marked
"Eliza's cheese, DO NOT EAT!"
That nimbus of dandelion fluff on her head.
That there is someone in the house who is THAT EXCITED
about my keys.
The marching in place-drunk Elvis-tap dancing thing
she does when she's preparing to cruise.
Well! File this under "Possibly Unnerving":
Eliza crawls in her sleep.
You don't think it's that weird, Internet, I can tell,
but trust me, it's weird.
When I go into Eliza's room to rebinky, I don't turn
on any lights — I just sort of feel for her face and hold up
the binky, and she waggles her head back and forth (Stevie Wonder-like,
only without the R&B and half-asleep) until it settles into her
mouth properly, and she goes back fully to slumber-land.
Well, twice in the past week, I've gone into her room
and felt for her face and couldn't find it. Instead, I found her on
all fours, trying to propel herself forward, and not a little frustrated
because she'd come up against the bars of the crib.
But then I turn her over onto her back and without another
peep, she flops back into a deep sleep.
On another night recently, she had sat up in her sleep
and was crying, clearly disoriented. Again, as soon as I laid her
down, she went back into hypersleep.
Oh Yeah. Weird.