Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Child, My Billboard

Or another self-indulgent post on clothing.

Leo and I have a pretty strong feeling that we don't want to make our child wear slogan shirts before she's old enough to know what the slogans mean.

We're particularly against slogans like "Princess," "Diva," and "Drama Queen."

I can, however, testify that she is 100% behind the message of this shirt.

M Flip Book

I suppose I could just get a video camera, but I like still photos better.  When you flip through this series, it gives a pretty good picture of M waking up.  (Which is like a very cute caricature of an adult waking up and stretching).

She's clearly going to be a picnic to get ready for school.  Nothing like sponges full of cold water.*

*This is not to be taken to suggest that I pour cold water on her to wake her up now.  I just imagine that it might be necessary at some point.

Baby Football

M got passed around in this last week.  I would say that her feet never touched the floor, but that's pretty much every week, as her feet are still purely decorative.  (And even more so, since she got new pairs of shoes while we were in Port Angeles.  One pair is very trendy, and the other pair is a pair of work boots.  Decorative work boots.  There's something weird going on with that).

Here she is with my parents.  We're trying to recreate a picture taken of them with a niece of mine, to show the difference in scale.

She also got passed around to various of her cousins.

I love that in this picture with Daniel holding her, she and Nathan have the same expression on their

Also, Hannah went to kindergarten this year and learned the important skill of making bunny ears in photos.  Does anyone remember why that is hysterically funny in early elementary school?

Nathan was quite taken with there being someone smaller than him.  He was excited to hold M.

And help feed her.

Josh also got a look-in, between track meets and piano recitals.

Also, this is what people did while not holding the baby.  It makes the phrase "passing the baby like a football" a lot more frightening.

Hannah, when not sabotaging other photos, got a chance too.

There are pictures of Alynn and Emily holding her, but they are on Alynn's camera, and she's holding them hostage.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

Which implies that there is something to do with a pig and possibly a hog, were I to go from jig to jogging.  There isn't.

Although when we got home to our scale, Leo weighed M and she came out at 14.9 lbs.  Just saying.

But I am home again and so is M.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

M went to her first baseball game tonight.  It wasn't exactly a game - just a practice scrimmage that only went for four innings - but it's a start.

I dressed her in a baseball themed shirt.

And she seemed excited about it, but she soon got bored.

She did, however, learn an important lesson about dressing for the pacific northwest (and also baseball games): layers.  I felt fairly silly putting two onesies on her, but warmth was necessary.  Those of you unfamiliar with Port Angeles's Lincoln Park should realize that it can be 80 degrees and windless for miles around, but for some reason, this baseball field will be 50 degrees with a screaming wind.  For some reason known only to city planners who were probably slightly deranged, they built the airport in this wind tunnel too.*  After the onesies, we put her in a jacket and hat, and then put two blankets over her.  She stayed very warm and happy.  The rest of us were quite chilly.

We had a bit of excitement when one of the boys hit a foul ball; it's a preseason game, and the nets aren't up yet, so the ball came out into the crowd.  It didn't hit M.

And then Daniel struck out the last batter, who was probably 3 times his size, to finish the game.

M decided that she could admit to being his cousin without shame.

*Actually, the fact of the airport and the adjacent ballfield complex probably contributes to the wind, since it means that there is a very large space where they have cleared the trees and there are no buildings.

Friday, March 26, 2010


When I was pregnant, I worried about coming up with a nickname for M, because I felt certain that a child named Margaret would be preternaturally serious and probably disapprove of me.

Apparently even with a nickname, her reaction to me is not particularly respectful.

 They say** that you can teach children sign language before they learn to talk.  If this is what we get, I'm not sure that I think it's a good idea.

*For those unfamiliar with the phrase, a concise explanation can be found here

**Somebody told me once

Thursday, March 25, 2010

There Are No Pictures Or Why I Like Small Towns

We are experiencing a brief hiatus in picture taking since an overly exciting day led to a sudden cessation of camera function.

It all started off nicely.  We decided to take M out to see the water - or rather, we decided to take ourselves out to see the water, since we weren't planning to get M close enough to actually see the water for herself.  We just thought it would make a nice backdrop for the photos.

So we loaded her into her stroller, and set off down the path.  She seemed fairly unimpressed, but since all of the things that seem to impress her involve milk, it was unsurprising.*

We went over a bridge that is, incidentally, not a bad Pooh sticks bridge, and we intended to play on the way back, but somehow we forgot.  As we rattled the stroller over the boards of the bridge, M's cheeks jiggled and it made her laugh.  She's developed, over the last week or so, the ability to make happy noises.  But I digress. 

When we got to the water, the ferry was coming in, and I wanted to get a picture of M with the water in the background, so she would know later on that I had taken her to see the water, no matter how much she was incapable of actually seeing it, or appreciating it even if she did catch a glimpse of it at the time.

I walked carefully off the path, picking my way over some sand and stones, and sat on a log.  My dad took several pictures.

This is the only one that survives.

Why, I hear you ask?

Because in picking my way back to the path, I started a chain of events that led to a catastrophic death for the camera.

I was carrying M and I was very careful when I was walking on the uneven ground.  But on that last step, when I got to the edge of the pavement, I thought I was home free and relaxed.  I caught my foot on the 4-inch lip, and pitched forward.

I'm very grateful that I spent all those years alternately playing sports and being clumsy.  I've had a lot of practice falling.  I managed to land all on myself and not at all on M.  I came down completely on the point of my elbow and - amazingly, given my track record - seem not to have broken it.  Though M is fine (in fact, is aggressively exuding good health and happiness, and pretty much was from about 30 seconds after the fall when she decided that she was over being startled and could stop crying) I am walking about with every muscle on the right side of my body protesting, and not a few bones as well.

The camera?  As we were rushing back the mile to the car, worried that M might somehow have hit the ground or wrenched her neck or  managed to spontaneously develop scurvy, my dad went to hand it back to me.  I tried to take it with my right arm, which wasn't at that point capable of lifting anything, and the camera hit the pavement and died. 

Poor camera.  (But I replaced it today, because we've gone two whole days without documentation of M's life, and that's just not acceptable).**

The reason I like small towns is that I was quite worried about M, and it was fairly easy to find her medical care at a moment's notice without resorting to the emergency room.  She wasn't, of course, exhibiting any signs of pain, but that didn't stop me from imagining those nightmare scenarios of internal injury.  We called the father of a friend of mine from elementary school, who does family practice, and he saw M and - at my mother's request - took a look at me.

*Of all the things that the waterfront trail in Port Angeles is, flowing with milk and honey, or even just milk, isn't one of them.

**If M ever becomes famous, the paparazzi presumably won't phase her, since they apparently ain't got nothing on me.  They, after all, will probably not be able to take pictures of her in the bath.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baby Tranquilizers

If any of you know someone who is about to have a baby, I would advocate getting them a sling.  It's magic.  I don't think that M has managed to maintain a good scream for more than 3 minutes after being put in the sling.  It holds her tightly where she can hear my heartbeat, and it leaves my hands free(ish) to accomplish things. 

And after a while in it, she always goes to sleep. (See here for a discussion of the magical properties of the sling and the importance of proper symbols on the cloth).

Besides that, she looks so darn cute in it.

I think that she's biting herself to stay awake, but luckily, the sling is impervious to those kinds of tricks.

On the other hand, perhaps she's just plotting something evil.

World domination, perhaps?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Power to the People

M had another bath today.  Her hair responds to this process very interestingly; when I strip the oil out of the hair, it sticks up straight.  We've also been working on smiles this week.  When she's in a good mood, she will respond to my smile by smiling back.

The combination is pretty good.

Of course, she also seems to be trying to advocate radical political change, so there's that.

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

M has been meeting cousin after cousin after cousin and I've been trying to get pictures, though I forgot my camera one evening, and so need to go and beg pictures from the people who took them.  Anyway, that evening deserves its own post, but suffice it to say that I have the nicest nieces in the world.

Last night Mom (or Nana?) and I went to watch the youngest four while the older three and their parents went gadding about.  When we got there, we ran into some friends on their way out, and Josh brought the little girl over to see M.  As I got out of the car, I heard her say "You shouldn't call the baby fat" and when I opened the back door and she saw M she said "Oh."

The kids seem taken with M's cheeks, and Daniel and Nathan tried to reproduce them.

He had to puff his cheeks out to achieve this.

Daniel managed to get M's grumpier face down (and did a pretty good job of self-portraiture; he kidnapped my camera and took these shots of Margaret imitation).

I did manage to get a shot of Ben holding her.  No doubt someone on the other end of the couch was being silly.

A Farewell to Arms

And legs and torsos too, but that's not as catchy.

While I was packing to go to the west coast, I realized that there was no point in taking the clothes that M has almost grown out of, since she would need new ones before we came home, and traveling with a baby requires a ridiculous amount of gear (I didn't bring the bath with me, you'll all be happy to know, and my parents have their own kitchen sink, so I'm borrowing that).  I spent Thursday saying goodbye to outfits of which I was particularly fond, like this polka dot sleeper.

(That was the day after she came home from the hospital, and here I commemorated the last time she wore it).

Also, for a bonus, a cute one of her face above the sleeper.

I feel very silly missing clothes.  I'm aware that it is essentially ridiculous, but I can't help it.  She's getting so big.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Back Soon

M and I are about to leave for the airport to go to the west coast to meet lots and lots of new relations (and cousins, another novel experience).

Before we go, though, I thought I'd put up a picture of M and Helen; the slightly wary look is no doubt because her cheeks have just been pinched, and she was realizing that while aunts will be good for ice cream and trips to the zoo in a few years, they take payment in their own way.

Just after this picture was taken, we all went wedding dress shopping.  M was very helpful, as she has decided opinions about cut and style.  She suggested something in a zoo print in stretchy cotton, but the salesperson was unable to oblige.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Question of Limits

As many people know, one of the traditions of St. Patrick's Day is that those people who refuse to wear green open themselves up to pinching.*  But, as has been mentioned before, M has excessively pinchable cheeks.  Since I am a good mother, and even though she's not really going anywhere social today, I dressed her in green.

When I went to pinch her cheeks, however, she seemed to raise an objection.

So here is my question:  although she should be protected, by her green shirt, from pinching on account of it being St. Patrick's Day, does the green shirt provide absolute protection from pinching?   Or, if I stipulate that the pinch is because of her chubby little cheeks, am I allowed to proceed? 

*The wikipedia article on the holiday** (found here; I draw your attention to the section on "Customs Today") suggests that the pinch is affectionate, but I don't remember that from elementary school.  More that the pinch was vicious and frequently left marks.  And that once someone had noticed your lack of green, everyone in the class felt that they could pinch you.  There's an argument for smaller class sizes in public school.  Less damage on the pinchy holidays.

**I know, I know, but it's not like I'm turning this in anywhere.  And wikipedia is a perfectly fine source for things like this.  Some people are really picky.  Also, I'm footnoting a footnote, which seems excessive.  Do you think I'm overcompensating for the fact that I linked to wikipedia? 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Elephant Never Forgets

The time has come to speak again of ears.

I have been very pleased that M's ears are well within normal parameters, lie flat on the side of her head, and, should she become a swimmer and  choose not to wear a swim cap, will not serve as a significant source of drag.

I thought this was a cause for universal celebration and joy.  But apparently Leo has been wishing for a child that had somewhat flappier ears, and is trying to accomplish this covertly, by training her ears to go out.   Observe the process:

He first captures the hands.

He then nabs the unsuspecting ears.

He stretches them to full extension, and says "Who's a cute little monkey?"

(She is, of course, a cute little monkey).

His final step is to dodge the punch that she throws at him for trying to deform her natural beauty.

She doesn't punch all that hard, and far more often hits herself than her intended target, so he's pretty safe.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mommy's Little Slugger

Has anyone reading this not heard my rant on gendered children's clothing?  Really?  Where have you been living?

Then if everyone's sitting comfortably, I'll go through it again.

First, I want to have more children (really, I do.  And there were only about 3 days at the beginning where I thought that it wouldn't be so bad for M to be an only child).  There is presumably a just about even chance that said other child will be a boy.  Baby clothes don't exactly wear out, and so it is ridiculous that there is so little genderless baby clothing.  I mean, there are white onesies out there with slightly gathered sleeves, so that they look feminine.  Who needs their baby's undershirt to look feminine? 

And all of the baby sleepers for little girls seem to insist that the baby will be a ballerina.  It's not that I'm against ballerinas, mind you, but putting fake toe shoes on the feet of a baby sleeper seems a bit much.  So I've taken to getting a good bit of M's stuff in the boy's section, where one can at least get things in browns and greens with animals on them that don't have to be masculine.  When I went to pick up some 3-6 month stuff the other day, the checkout person asked me if I had twins and where the boy one was.  I said that I was just trying to get stuff that wasn't gender specific, and she said that I couldn't put my little girl in boy's clothes because it would confuse her later in life.

 Hear that Mom?  I'm apparently confused.

And it really bugs me that all the little boy clothes seem to advocate sporting pursuits, and none of the little girl clothes do.  I think there's a case for some sort of Title 9 lawsuit here.*  When you think about all the time and effort we spend arguing for equality between the sexes, which we quickly throw out the window for the 2 years we can make our daughters wear frilly clothes, it's enough to make you burn something.**

Anyway, I've decided to buck the system.  My daughter can play sports if she wants to, and wear bright colors and not be a ballerina.*** 

*Yes, I know it's about funding for sports, and clothing availability doesn't really come under its umbrella, but it should.

**Though not a bra, because nursing bras are expensive.

***Which was probably a given anyway.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


No, I haven't turned into Mel Gibson.

At least, I don't think I have.  We have, however, discovered that M will eat from a bottle without any major psychological traumas for anyone.

This lengthens my leash somewhat.  And means that I don't have to feel horribly worried that she might be suffering when I leave her with someone to go and do things like grocery shopping.  She doesn't seem to care one way or the other who feeds her or how as long as she gets food. 

No Vacancy

I don't know that I've ever been more excited for daylight savings time.

The reason for this is that M's 5:30-6 am feeding seems pretty hardwired; she can finish eating her last meal at 4:30, and still think that she needs to be up at 6 for another meal, because apparently that's when civilized people eat breakfast.*

And now it is 7.  My joy knows no bounds.  Of course, this morning it felt like 6 when she got up at 7, and she'll go to bed at 10 instead of 9, and her middle of the night feeding will between 3:30 and 4:30 instead of 2:30 and 3:30.  So I'm really no farther forward except that I am more in sync with the rest of the world, and there's a certain psychological value in feeling that she's sleeping until nearly morning.  I mean, if she just added another half an hour, she'd be sleeping 10 to 5, which sounds like a full night.**

One of her really fun tricks, though, is to refuse to go back to sleep for about an hour after her 6 am feeding, so I have to wake myself up thoroughly.  She then drifts back to sleep at about 7, leaving me stranded.  And often she decides to sleep lightly enough that if I try to put her down, there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of gums.***  So I sit (or lie) and hold her.

This morning, it was noticed that I looked like a good pillow.

I guess this means that Puck is warming up to M.  Yesterday, he came and sat on her while I was feeding her.  It didn't last long, as she kicked a bit.  And I imagine that if a cat that weighed more than me came and sat on my legs while I was eating dinner,  I might kick too.  An alternative explanation for his behavior is that he is trying to reestablish his ownership of me.  I imagine that at some point, there will be a showdown between the cat and the baby.  Anyone want to place bets?

*I assume she thinks that she's civilized. 

**I am aware that 9 to 4 would be the same amount of time, but I refuse to allow that anything ending at 4 is "almost a full night" because 4 is still the middle of the night.

***You might think that it is impossible to gnash one's gums.  And for most of us, that's true, because when we gnash, our teeth inevitably get in the way.  But M has very advanced gnashing skills, and takes no notice of her lack of teeth.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Bear, However Hard He Tries Grows Tubby Without Exercise*

There seems to be a certain truth in this.  M is now well into her 3-6 month clothing; she still fits into some of the 0-3 month things, but they are all beginning to strain a little in places.  Usually places like her tum, which is, to answer the question posed by Michael Palin in reference to John Cleese, tubby.**

As of this morning, she was 13.3 pounds.

Anyway, this move into a larger size bracket has changed the complexion of her wardrobe.  She has a couple of pairs of jeans, which look very cute, but make her look rather grown up.

I feel that it's only a matter of time until she starts stealing cars and rolling cigarettes up in her sleeve.  But that may be partially because of the cuffed jeans, and the reason for that is that she isn't quite tall enough for them.

Also, in the continuing discussion of what color her hair is, I would like to submit this bit of evidence:

It doesn't look that color all the time, just to be ornery, but in sunlight, that's what it looks like.

Hopefully we don't have to get her a passport any time soon, because the hair color question would confuse me in much the same way that the question on the pediatrician's information sheet as to my occupation did, but that's a story for another day.

*For the full text of this poem - and I would encourage everyone to read it, if only to figure out how to pronounce "adiposity" (and, if you didn't know what it means, pick that up as well) - go here.

**A quite amusing Monty Python sketch, to be found here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tummy Time

One of the things that we have been encouraged to do by books, internets, nurses, pediatricians, and the cat is put our baby down on her tummy while we are supervising her so that she develops her muscles without managing to kill herself.*

So we do, because we're very conscientious and we do what we're told, even when it involves a silly name like "tummy time."

The fun part is where she windmills her legs as if she's trying to crawl and gets no traction.

(Also, notice the awesome blanket; thanks, Christy!  We're doing our best to convince her that this is her blanket, and will go with her to preschool for naptime).

*The cat, I think, doesn't care if we supervise her (and depending how hungry he is, might prefer that we not) and probably, if he thought about it, would prefer that she not develop muscles which will allow her to do things like crawl and grab tails.

Sometimes Daddy Just Needs a Little Help

Leo and I hate to pass up a chance to be smug about ways in which we are better than other people.  We are quite proud of the fact that we don't have a television, and are looking forward to being able to mention it loudly in public so that other people can feel that we're judging them.

I'm trying to make myself feel comfortable with calling it the idiot box and the boob tube.*

We haven't given up television shows, however.  We watch them on our laptops and on the desktop in our living room.  So it isn't like M is growing up in a television free house.  Just one without a television.

I'm not actually sure what Leo was doing when this picture was taken.  I imagine he was watching something, but it's a far cuter picture if he was working.  I want to know what M bills out at per hour, and why I'm not seeing a cut.

She looks quite interested in what's going on, whatever it is.

*Unfortunately, this name hits a little too close to home these days, since one of the things I do when I am nursing M is watch television shows on my laptop which I perch next to me on the couch.  I used to put it on my legs, which I had propped on the coffee table, but she would thrash around and skip chapters on my dvd, so I stopped.  I also type emails one-handed.  When you get an email with no capital letters, it means that it was painfully picked out while I fed the baby.

Over the River

Actually, we went over no rivers, which upset me.  Since we were going to visit M's great-grandmother, it seemed to me that there ought to be two rivers.  And to be fair, we probably could have arranged two rivers, but it would have meant a lot of extra driving.  We've had a lot of familial visiting this week.  On Monday, M spent time with a great aunt and two first cousins once removed.  (And I didn't get a picture of Caty; sorry!)

Here she is with Christy

The suspicious look is entirely normal.  Leo and I think that she's just cycling through possible expressions, and it has little to do with what she's actually thinking.  The other morning she was giving me a look that could only be described as one of consternation.  I ask you, what possible reason could she have for that emotion?  None.  We insist, however, that her smiles are real.  This may be inconsistent, but I can't make myself care.

Here she is with Aaron:

On Wednesday, we went to visit Leo's grandmother - across no rivers, as I mentioned - and she behaved very well.  I have this theory that she might be an extrovert.  She's always pretty calm and well-behaved out in the world, even if she's hungry and tired.  And even at home when she's cranky, she can be fooled into happiness by creating the impression that she's going somewhere to do something.  Perhaps she's not an extrovert, just someone who likes to be out and about.

On the other hand, perhaps it stretches the definition of well-behaved to include "taking a punch at your great-grandmother."

Perhaps not a very effective punch, but she's working on developing coordination.

Yesterday, she met an aunt, and got her cheeks properly pinched.*  I again forgot my camera, but if you were confronted with these cheeks, could you resist a pinch in passing?

I mean, really.  Look at them again from another angle.

They're just asking for it, aren't they?  When she's in a grocery cart or something, and we go over a bump, they jiggle.

*It's not that there wasn't cheek pinching going on before, but no one but an aunt can really do the job properly.  Some might argue that she has had her cheeks pinched by people who are aunts (myself among them), or even that great aunts are even better at cheek pinching, but those people are missing the point.  It's a trope, and I like it done properly.