Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Architectural Criticism

Margaret’s aesthetic sense leads her to believe that  high-rise buildings are bourgeois.

Margaret also believes in violent revolution, apparently.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Margaret’s Day Of Obligatory Fall Fun

We started off the morning with french toast and bacon with Uncle Ron, but Margaret napped right through that.  She did, however, score a small piece of bread this morning.  Opinion seems to be that wheat is okay after 8 months, so we let her chew it.  I’m not sure that she ingested much of it, but it was certainly good and mangled by the time she was done with it.

We then decided to continue our investigation of St. Louis parks with baby swings.  There is one right next to Leo’s office that has been closed for renovation and is now open.  (Incidentally, should you be in St. Louis with children that can actually play on playground equipment by themselves, may I suggest Clayton’s Shaw Park?  They’ve got a bunch of things that look like they would be both safe and fun, which is impressive in a park these days.  Seriously, I remember slides being 50 feet high.  I’m sure that that is my mind exaggerating, but they were a lot higher than the things we have now).

We didn’t end up going on the swings (there was a birthday party with a band and a knight using them), but we did have a nice walk.


Which Margaret appeared to enjoy.


And she went down the slide with Daddy.


Looking, we thought, gratuitously like her Aunt Helen in the process.

We then decided to go and get a pumpkin, since it is almost Halloween, and this afternoon was pretty much our last chance to go to a pumpkin patch to pick one.  It had become clear that we did not have enough commitment to the idea of the pumpkin patch to get organized and drive to one.

So we went to Mr. Wizard’s instead, and set Margaret among the pumpkins.


She looked around for a pumpkin she liked.


And finally found one just her size.*


Which she quickly put into her mouth.


And decided that she didn’t really care for pumpkins.


*One of my earliest memories of pumpkin patching is a trip taken by my 3-year-old preschool (or at least when I was three).  It was repeated and repeated and repeated that we had to get a pumpkin we could carry ourselves, and my small brain imagined some sort of cross-country hike would be involved, so I picked the smallest pumpkin I could find, probably the size of the one Margaret is holding.  I could have carried it for days, I tell you.  Turns out we only had to carry them to the parking lot.  And my mom was a chaperone, and she carried mine.  I could have gotten any pumpkin I wanted. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Least Substantial Cracker In The World*

Margaret’s interest in people food has been becoming more and more violent, to the point that if she’s sitting where other people are eating, she gets more and more annoyed if she doesn’t have some food as well, which is how she got her little mitts on rice noodles with (as people more allergy conscious than I am pointed out) probably a hint of peanuts.  Oops. 

I’ve been giving her bits of things – tiny pieces of chicken from the center of the breast, unseasoned potatoes, rice noodles, apples – but I decided that the time had come to let her try something that she could really do by herself (her fingers aren’t quite dexterous to navigate the small pieces of food that we feel comfortable giving her).

And I found these rice crackers for babies.  They are, if you can imagine, flimsy rice cakes.  If you put one in your mouth, it pretty much dissolves by the time it gets from the front to the back, without any chewing.  So we thought that this would probably be safe for her.

It was a hit.  A palpable hit.***







What with the dissolving rice cracker and mush factor, this was also probably the messiest cracker-eating ever.

*Ron, Lea – this has NOTHING TO DO WITH MY DISSERTATION.  Sometimes a cracker is just a cracker.**

**Again, talking about a crisp flatbread, not a poor white person.

***That was intentional, and also (for those of you keeping score) also a really bad pun on pap, which I thought was just mushy food, but is apparently, in South African cuisine, something much more specific.  But still mushy.

Bibliophiling Away

Margaret has begun to enjoy books.  Not the way you and I enjoy them (I hope, anyway, because if you enjoy books the way she does, you need to start acting your age!), but in her own special way.  She likes to pick them up and waggle them around and try to rip them up and then shove them in her mouth. 

Which may actually may be a better form of literary criticism than the one I’ve spent the better part of my life learning to perfect.

Anyway, the other day she was really making headway on reading like a real person.  She was holding the book, opening the pages, and  (and I think this is the really important one) not eating it.


Of course, she had the actual book upside-down and backwards.  Don’t tell her.  I mean, don’t tell her now.  There will come a point when it is perfectly acceptable for you to tell her that the book she’s trying to read is upside-down and backwards.  Like when she’s 10 or so.

Anyway, she made progress.  She got it sideways . . .


For Hannah

Who probably doesn’t remember her love affair with the dishwasher, but I imagine that what she saw in it was what Margaret saw in it a few nights ago – and easy way to work on pulling herself up.  Though, of course, when Hannah was Margaret’s age, she was a week and a half from learning to walk unaided.

Which seems needlessly excessive.

In Which Our Heroine’s Mother Rethinks Her Opinion On Bows

I have, in my time, thought many cruel and perhaps unjustified things about hairbows, particularly when they were inserted into my hair. 

Margaret, however, is growing hair down beyond her eyebrows.  She doesn’t have enough for it to be a problem yet, but I can see the day fast approaching where it will be.  And perhaps by that point, she’ll have enough hair that trimming the bangs won’t seem so unfair to me, but at this moment, it seems like she doesn’t have enough hair for me to take any away.

Which brings us to barrettes.


They don’t bother her at all.

And she’s snickering at me, I think, for all the thought I’m expending on something that she couldn’t care less about.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cutting Out The Middle Mommy

Margaret has a fascination with all things electronic.  If it has a cord that could suffocate her, electrocute her, or otherwise cause damage, she’s ready to grab onto it.

Her toys which encourage development?  Not quite so much.  Because though they stimulate her in ways that are important, they don’t offer quite the same scope for accidental death, and so are no fun.

Anyway, she counts among her hobbies chewing on Leo’s unplugged mouse, eating phones, and making a bee-line for any cords or electrical outlets on the floor.  But this morning, she went even further.  She woke up and was still a little groggy.


It’s tough waking up in the morning without your coffee.  Anyway, as she woke up (just a little more)


she had a thought: why not just get her milk straight from the pump?


(This is her thinking face).

So she tried,


and tried,


but it didn’t work, so she had to look elsewhere for her morning milk.


I’m sure that there’s a moral in this somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me think what it is.

Sleeping Like A Grown-Up

This weekend is my mid-semester break, which means that I get Monday and Tuesday off.  Since I have this opportunity to not have to be carefree, we decided that this was the weekend to unswaddle Margaret.

Previous attempts have, unfortunately, meant that she didn’t really sleep much at all, so we were duly worried.  And Friday’s afternoon nap – the first non-swaddled adventure – did not go well  at all.  By Friday night, however, she seemed to have figured out that if she rolled over on her stomach and pinned her arms under her body, they couldn’t bother her anymore.  Clever baby.  And she’s slept just as well as if she was swaddled.


So certain people who have not liked the swaddle because they thought it made her look like a mummy can rest easy and be happy that she’s sleeping unfettered and flipped over.  Of course, sometimes when I go in to check on her, she’s lying completely face-down, which I find unnerving.  I am against her suffocating herself.

Also, sorry about the poor quality of the picture.  I wasn’t about to turn on lights to get a good picture, because then I would have woken her up.

A Walk In The Park

I am an inveterate complainer about the weather.  I am not ashamed of this.  It is usually too hot in St. Louis, or too cold, or too buggy.  And it’s not that I’m particularly picky* about my weather; it’s just that St. Louis has crummy weather. 

Yesterday was perfect.  Oh, I might mention that when I got dressed in the morning, it was much cooler than later in the day, but that would just be for the principle of the thing.  By almost all measures, the weather was wonderful.

So we went for a walk.


We didn’t put Margaret’s hat on at that angle; the stroller swiveled it around.

Anyway, we put a hat and socks on Margaret to keep the sun off her exposed bits.  She seemed to feel that this was too much.  After we ignored the entreating looks she gave us,


she took matters into her own hands mouth.


The second sock was found abandoned in the middle of the path.


She also decided to jettison the hat. 


I particularly like the way she’s holding it between thumb and forefinger.  It conveys her disdain quite nicely.

*All right, perhaps a bit picky, but few places can boast such wonderful weather as Port Angeles.  It’s not that the weather itself is great – 50 degrees and raining is not everyone’s dream climate – but it’s very predictable.  You know where you are with it.  If it’s not July, it’s pretty much going to be moderately chilly and moderately rainy. You know, the type of weather that decent, responsible sorts of places have.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Historical Re-enactment

I’ve had this series of cute pictures for a while, but haven’t had time to post them haven’t been able to think of anything clever to say about them, and so needed to let the creative juices percolate or ferment or carbonate, or whatever it is that my creative juices do.  Stew?  Marinate?

Anyway, last night, I got an email from a friend of mine, in which she pointed out that Henry VI was about the same age as Margaret when he came to the throne.  She had realized this, and further realized that his reaction to his coronation was probably along the lines of “WHAT IS THIS?  LET'S GRAB IT.  CAN I EAT IT?  I WANT TO EAT IT.  WHY CAN'T I EAT IT?  OOH SHINY.  LET'S SEE IF I CAN EAT THAT.”

It is, indeed, a sobering thought that this was probably true.  Luckily, he had a pretty good regent in John, Duke of Bedford.  And honestly – and I don’t mean to draw any parallels here to other Margarets that may have ruled England instead of Henry VI, because my Margaret IS NOT TO TAKE HER AS A ROLE MODEL – I think that my Margaret could do a better job of ruling England and her continental possessions than Henry VI.*

This discussion does, however, make a certain collection of pictures much more amusing.  She begins by being worried that there is nothing on her head.  After all, she is a baby of many hats.


So we oblige with what’s on hand.


She thinks “EXCITING!  WHAT IS THIS THING?  CAN I EAT IT?” and tries.


Signifying her acquisition of a second, ephemeral body**, a heavenly light appears above her head.***


And the body politic**** appears to have gotten up her nose, which is always a hazard in these situations.

*This may be because a bunch of hedgehogs in a wet paper bag could have done a better job than Henry VI.

***People who want to make jokes about there being enough of her to go around for two bodies can turn their attention to Henry VIII, as a more fitting object for those kinds of jokes.

***There may be alternative explanations for this phenomenon.

****Since I’m sure all of you want a more elaborate discussion of how to acquire a body politic, I will refer you to The King’s Two Bodies: A Study of Mediaeval Political Theology by Ernst Kantorowicz.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Furniture Arranging

The recent Pixar film WALL-E repopularized a song from Hello Dolly, the song that is, in my opinion, the most insipid one of the whole film.

Yesterday, watching Margaret move her chair all over the living room, and twine herself through the bottom, I couldn’t help but think of another song from the musical, in which Dolly discusses how much she likes arranging things.

Like furniture.

Oh, and apparently daffodils and lives, but it’s the furniture I’m interested in here.

Now, I’m not saying that I want my daughter to be like Dolly Levi (though probably, being my daughter, she will be convinced that she could arrange other people’s lives far better than they can), but she was displaying very Dolly-ish tendencies the other day.

We have gotten her another chair that is up to her fighting weight, and she seems rather fond of it.

But the other day, she decided that she wanted it to be somewhere other than where it was.

So she threaded herself through it, grabbed the nearest electrical cord,


checked to make sure I was watching,


and took off.


So she didn’t get far.  But look how happy she is to have gotten it to move at all.


On Her Own Two Feet


I took my eyes off Margaret briefly* today, and when I turned back around, she had pulled herself up on a chair.


I’m not opposed to this, but it certainly took me a little by surprise.  I mean, I don’t know that I want her to learn to stand up until she can have it explained to her that the ground is hard, and it’s a bad idea to smack into it with her head.

Which, incidentally, she did shortly after this picture was taken.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s all part of learning to be a person, but I think that I may have to invest in some more foam padding until she really gets a handle on things.

*For the time that it took to feed the cat, as it happens.

Thai Food

Every so often, Margaret and I go and have lunch with Leo.*

We did that today, and went to a nice Thai restaurant.  Margaret has learned about homophones, however, and so was B-O-R-E-D.


Bored, by the way, we can deal with.  After all, being bored builds character.  She became, however, squirmy and fractious.

I was having Pad Thai, and had a brilliant idea -- the noodles are rice noodles, so she could try them.  I licked them off and divided them into bite-size pieces.  Don't they look appetizing?

You can see her hand grabbing at them.  She thought they were delicious.

Also, if you followed the link to the earlier post, and now are thinking that Leo only owns one tie, it's not true.  He just chooses to wear that one on the days that I'm going to talk about Margaret and Thai food.

*In general, Margaret goes to lunch with us, but doesn't eat; few restaurants near Leo's office sell food she wants, and she's too big for this maneuver to work.

All By Herself

Margaret has taken to solid food like a duck to chunks of bread thrown into her pond.  The only problem (and it's not really a problem so much as an interesting wrinkle) is that she wants to do it ALL BY HERSELF. 

She's not too bad at it, actually.  I mean, most of it goes in her mouth.  And she's figuring out the spoon.

Slowly, certainly.  But still figuring it out.  Spoons want careful consideration, you know.

She's certainly gotten that an end of it goes in her mouth.

Not necessarily the right end, but that's asking a lot of a baby, isn't it?  And anyway, she figured out that she needed to flip it around.

So not quite in the mouth, but these things take time.

Ah, there we are.  And for those of you who worry about these things, we did clean the baby.

You can tell she's just had a bath because her hair isn't sticking straight up in the air at the back.

Actually, she isn't quite feeding herself, but she is holding onto the spoon while I steer it into her mouth.  And she's usually quite tidy about things.  Yesterday's feeding was particularly messy, though, because she has learned how to click her tongue, and has been exuberantly doing so whenever she gets a chance.  It didn't go well with the lovely dinner of prune puree and oatmeal that I'd made for her. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hmmmm . . . Where's The Catch?

Margaret is very interested in the food that other people are eating and the things that they are drinking.  She is, as I noted early in her life (because she's SO OLD now, you know?) a person who is known as Miss Grabby McGrabberpants, and so should any of you be holding her and eating, watch out.  She takes dives after glasses, and went after my fork the other day.

Anyway, she wants to be like other people and hold things and drink and eat and whatnot.  When I feed her her nightly cereal and fruit or vegetable puree, I have to let her hold the spoon.  This is not as messy as you might imagine, though she's certainly not exactly up to dining out.*

I also decided that she could perhaps do with a little water in her diet (or at least that water wasn't going to hurt her) and since she was so interested in glasses, she could learn to use one.

It was a very cute experiment.

She was a little suspicious at first.

Well, and that lasted a while, but she soon figured out that it went in her mouth.**

And then she actually got the right bit of it in her mouth (clever baby!).

Next week's goal?  Actually getting some of the water out of the cup.  I think that she thinks that it's a teething toy, and the no-spill technology means that the water has to be removed, rather than just coming out of its own accord.

*Well, except maybe at her grandparents' house.  It's a much easier crowd there than at some places.

**Cynics might argue that she thinks that everything goes in her mouth.  And they'd be right, but still cynics.