Monday, November 28, 2005

All mommy, all the time

I guess we’re entering what one might call a separation anxiety phase. The Adorable Boychild has become raw-ther clingy with me lately. There are times when I leave the room, and it’s a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. I went to change over the laundry the other day and when I came back, it was like I walked in on a screening of Old Yeller. Though I know I shouldn’t be, I am vaguely flattered by this new development, but at the same time, I need a little room to breathe. Or at least to shower. And occasionally nap. But I keep telling myself that soon it’ll be Daddymatic who can’t leave the room to pee without bringing the child to the point of a nervous breakdown, and I will probably be jealous for the time when Only Mommy Would Do.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sippy cups, walkers and other developmental leaps

Awhile ago, Dutch over at Sweet Juniper suggested that babies might have more developmental breakthroughs when they are off of their normal routines, and I’m starting to agree—the Boy Wonder made a number of strides when my mother was here in October, and this past week while we were in the Carolinas for Thanksgiving, he seemed to learn a new trick almost every day.

For instance, he learned to manipulate a walker—you know, those contraptions that were insanely popular in the 70s and 80s but which waned a bit when kids were left in them unsupervised and took headers down the stairs? I was led to believe these things were the pinnacle of the evil neglectomatics, but man, he had the time of his life playing a version of kiddie Demolition Derby. It also gave him the security to stand unassisted, which he only does while he’s distracted by something else—once he realizes he’s standing out there with no support, he must feel like his cheese is in the wind, because he grabs on to whatever’s closest and looks at you like “Whew! That was a CLOSE one!”

He also had a sippy cup breakthrough. I am not a fan of sippy cups—too many of my friends had to keep a closer eye on their sippy cup collections than most people keep on their checking account balance because at age 7 their kid still couldn’t drink from a regular cup, but jeez, Davis has been working on the whole real-cup-drinking action for almost 5 months now and STILL manages to have a choking, face-pinkening, gagging session at almost every meal. So we tried the sippy cup from time to time, but all he would do is bite it. Of course my mother figured out what to do to teach him and now he appears to actually be drinking more water than he’s inhaling, which is new.

He also started clapping, which he now does often, especially while we’re preparing his food. I can’t tell if he’s trying to encourage me, kind of a “great job, mama, good effort,” or if it’s more of a “Miss? Garçon? Who is in charge here?” kind of thing, but it’s cute as heck, so who cares? He is still working on incorporating his new waving abilities into daily life, but this has plateaued as we have been unable to convince him that he does not, in fact, have to be in his playpen in order to wave. He seems to think that waving is only permissible from this specific location, so we are at something of an impasse for now.

Oh, and one final item from the "the true developemental milestones are not mentioned in the baby books" category: I think D may be learning how to blow his nose. Now, he's not as much of a pain in the neck when he's got a runny nose as some children are because he thinks the blub-syringe snot sucker thing is pretty funny and is quite patient with us when we have to use it, but Mother Theresa, how great would it be if he could blow his nose instead? Woo hoo! So stay tuned...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Now that I'm a mama. . .

These are things I say WAY too much:

What is that in your mouth? LetmeseeletmeseeletmeSEE!

Let’s just get takeout.

Oh my, do you smell that? (often followed by, “Hmm, someone needs a diaper change.”)

Yes, [cat name], I will get to your needs in a minute.

The wheels on the bus go round and round (often with supplemental lyrics, such as: the oil on the bus goes drip-drip-drip, the brakes on the bus go squeak-squeak-squeak and the old ladies on the bus go snore-snore-snore)

I’ll get him (this is actually in competition with “You don’t mind? You’re the best!”).

Didn’t we just do it last week?

Sweetie, don’t chew on the book/bite Mama/maul the cat.

These are things I don’t say enough:

Thank you.

Oh, the dissertation’s going great.

What can I do for you this morning?

Actually, I’m all caught up on laundry/dishes/errands.

You are the best husband/baby/cat/mom/dad/sister.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Doing the wave

On Monday, his ten-month birthday, the Boy Wonder waved for the first time. It was exhilarating. I was sitting next to him eating my breakfast, and he was sitting in his babyjail, gazing intently at my cereal. Since he had already had his breakfast, I told him this was mama’s cereal and that it wasn’t for him. Not one to be dissuaded so easily, he gave me his most charming smile (as a bribe, I’m sure), and I smiled back and looked away.

When I looked away, he started waving his hand as if he was saying “Yo! Over here! Stay with me, lady. Focus! So…where are we on the cereal?”

Of course, when I dragged out the video camera, he refused to wave until I did it like 10 times, but finally he felt sorry for me (or embarrassed, it’s hard to say) and waved at the camera a little. I’m going to try and post the video here—it’s a little Blair-witch shaky and I sound like a dork, but it does capture the little genius doing his latest trick. Note his rather self-satisfied expression and his triumphant little jump at the end.

Oh, and big, big ups to my friend Lauren, who told me about JussPress and their awesome free video upload service.

Upload Video at

Monday, November 14, 2005

Somethin' for the honeyz

Okay, so lately when Davis eats, he almost always leaves an ounce or two in the bottle. It doesn’t appear to matter how much formula we’ve made--5 ounces, 10 ounces, makes no difference--there’s always a little bit left. We’ve tried to come up with reasons why he does this (An offering to the formula gods? A snack for later? He’s becoming his father, who will leave two jellybeans in a 16-oz jar or 3 chips in the bottom of the bag?) but Daddymatic finally came up with the best explanation last week. He came out of D’s room, showed me the requisite 2-oz. remainder, pretended to pour the bottle out on the ground and choked out: “This one {{sob}} is for my homies.”

I had to ask myself why I even leave the house.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Where have all the Mee-maws gone?

Have you noticed that there is a trend among baby-boomer grandparents not to be called “Grandma” or “Grandpa?” Back in MY day, grandmothers were called Grammy, Gamma, Nannie, Nana, Mee-maw or Grandmama and grandfathers were called Pop, Pappy, Granddaddy, Gramps, or Gaffer. But the grandparents these days—what will they think of next? When we asked what the grandparents wanted to be called, my mother chose “Bee-bee” as her handle and my mother-in-law specified that “anything but Nana” would do (truth be told, both women have teensy, tiny mother-in-law issues, and both my and my husband’s paternal grandmothers go by “Nana,” so there you go). My friends with boomer-generation parents have similar naming issues. One friend’s parents are “Didi and E.J.” which I think is cute and sounds vaguely like a 60’s surf guitar group (“Wait, wasn’t this Didi and EJ’s only top-ten hit from 1969?”), one friend’s mom chose the Thai word for grandmother (which I can’t remember, but I do remember that her mom isn’t actually Thai, just lived there and likes the language) and I know several grandmothers who prefer “Mimi” or “Mae-Mae” to “Grandma.” It just sounds hip and eccentric, doesn’t it? Certainly more urbane and suave than Mee-maw, for heaven’s sake.

But as much as I agree that Bee-bee really is the perfect name for my mom, I kinda like the old-fashioned names. It says grandparents aren’t worried about sounding old—they’re grandparents! They’re ageless! I mean, to whom do you run when you want great-tasting buttermilk biscuits? Mee-maw, that’s who! Mimi might know a great place to get your brows waxed, but I don’t know how she’d be with making a potholder from loops of terrycloth fabric and a plastic loom. You need a Nana for that. And Mae-mae might make a mean chicken cordon bleu and asparagus with clarified butter and herbs de Provence, but is she going to wear that Easter hat your child made from tissue paper and Elmer’s glue to church? No—but I bet Grammy would.

Is this name game a fluke, confined to my parent friends and me, or is it a trend? I’d be interested to hear what your child calls (or, more interestingly, has been instructed to call) your parents or in-laws. Please tell me in the comments section!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Familymatic Wake-up Plan

So, my husband and I decided we need a new system for deciding who gets up with Heavy D in the mornings. It had been that most of the time, we’d just kind of find a rhythm—if I was exhausted from being up a million times, he’d get up with him. If he didn’t sleep well, D and I would greet the day together quietly in the living room so daddy could sleep a bit.

I know those of you whose partners work terribly long hours think I am a class-A weenie not to be able to get up cheerfully with my child each morning, but so be it. I am just not a morning person. In fact, I think I learned German because intuitively I knew that language had a special word for people like me: morgenmuffel. So yes, I know I’m lucky my husband gets up with the baby at all.

But we’ve been so exhausted lately (the Bugster had been making appearances at 12, 2, 4, and getting up at 6:30—he used to sleep till 7:30 or 8:00. I know, I know—call the waaaah-mbulance, right?) that this system was starting to break down. Take, for example, this scene from our bedroom Tuesday morning:

((D howling for one of us to come get him))

Me: ((sighing heavily, putting on pajama pants v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-ly))

Daddymatic: Do you want me to get up with him?

Now, any parent knows that one cannot, no matter how much one might want to, answer this question with “Yeah, I want YOU to get up with our son so I can go back to sleep. I don’t really want to see him just yet.” There IS no answer to this question that both a) makes you feel like you are a good parent and b) allows you to get what you really want, which is another 45 minutes of sleep. So I did what any good passive-aggressor would do, which is to respond:

Me: Mmm, only if you want to.

HA! Take that, my dear spouse! Try and out-guilt the GuiltMaster? I. don’t. think. so.

So of course he got up with him.

Later in the day, when we were feeling less like we were dragging huge Anne-Lamott-esque dinosaur tails behind us, we decided we needed a new system, preferably one that did not make us have to out-strategize each other with guilt so early in the morning.

Thus we have enacted the Familymatic Wake-up Plan. Now, whoever will be gone that morning (we have no external child care, so we trade mornings and afternoons) gets up with D, so on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that’s me. It’s nice because the Boy Wonder and I get some time together before I leave, Daddymatic gets to rest and I am no longer filled with dread when I hear the chattering begin at 6:30—because I know I’ll get to sleep in tomorrow.

Actually, truth be told, I don’t always go back to sleep—this morning I just laid there for 20 minutes, hearing them play and listening to Daddy sing “the Wheels on the Bus” to bribe the child into sitting still enough for a diaper change. Sometimes lying in a warm bed, smiling at your spouse and kid laughing together in the next room and reflecting on what a good life you have is more restorative than another hour (or even two) of sleep.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

These are a few of his favorite things

Bug's favorite things, as of this week:

1) Pulling up to stand. We are convinced his new motto is "Ugh--crawling is SO October" or "Standing--it's the new crawling."

2) Empty cat dishes. A few stray kibble are considered a bonus, especially because mommy has a hissy fit when she discovers them being assiduously chewed up.

3) A large, chunky magnet mom and dad brought back from Canada that is in the shape of a beaver. This one is fun for the "adult teenagers" in the house, too, since they insist on making jokes, as in "Hey, kiddo, nice beaver!"

4) The cats. Still entertaining, but they have gotten warier since the onset of mobility, so they have accordingly dropped in the rankings a bit.

5) Hollering, especially while in the baby jumper or standing in his "baby prison" (that's what daddy calls the playpen). We think he's organizing the troops for an uprising, as he tends to wave his arms as if giving directions. Luckily, he is still too short to be flagging the Homeland Security radar.

6) Empty gallon jugs. Perhaps this accounts for his being what diaper experts call a "heavy wetter."

7) Images of himself--I've mentioned this before. But he's only interested in live ones, as in mirrors or other reflective surfaces like the oven door. He seems discomfited by photographs/portraits of himself, despite being terribly photogenic (see the flickr site for new pics, BTW).

8) Board books, especially the cutest, most PC (and most tasty) baby book ever, Everywhere Babies

9) Gerber fruit and veggie puffs. I can almost hear his Homer Simpson voice: "Mmmm, puffs."

10) Baby Einstein DVDs. I don't think this kid would ever get a mani or pedi if BE didn't exist. He especially loves going right up to the TV and smacking the screen when he sees the fiber-optic lights, which are his favorite part. I see him working at a Spencer Gifts during high school. Also, the cases of the DVDs are extremely good for noshing on.

I guess Mommy or Daddy should be on this list somewhere, but since we are his Mostly Companions, we're not entirely sure he knows we're all separate entities. I wonder how long you see yourself as defined by your familial unit. Of course, I'm not sure I'll ever grow out of that myself, so I guess I have my answer: if you're lucky, you don't grow out of it--the family just morphs and changes around you..

Thursday, November 03, 2005

An Ode to Bee-bee

My mother just left yesterday, and can I say that while I loved my mother before I gave birth to my own offspring, I had no idea what a saintly soul she was until about nine and a half months ago. It is so amazing to have a grandma (or in our case, a “Bee-bee”) around. First, she loves the Boy Wonder more than life itself, which means we will being paying extra for the hot tub and specialty coffee beverages at her nursing home.

Second, she actually likes to do all the tedious chores that never seem to get done around here. She vacuumed twice (twice, I said!) during the 6-day span of her visit, which has to be a new standing record in this house. Every time I turned around, she was doing laundry, folding diapers, doing dishes—it was like having my best friend come over and ask if she could use my place to train for the Olympic housekeeping trials.

And if that wasn’t enough, she cooked wonderful meals every night, enough to be able to leave leftovers for five days. Not only did she free up my husband from his daily cooking duties, she relieved us from having to have our usual witty what-will-we-be-having-for-dinner-bit for almost a week. And what did I do to deserve this kind of treatment? Apparently, nothing more than grow in her womb for nine months, scream with colic for hours on end and get caught making out in the park by police when I was 16.

It’s not just the things she did for us, though. It was being able to talk about my kid, her horseback riding, our favorite mystery writers, my (apparently boring-ass) dissertation (it put her to sleep) and have a friend other than my husband on call for a few days. She bought us meals and groceries without making us feel like po’ grad-student charity cases, she helped my son learn to stand, crawl over obstacles and eat 3 new finger foods, and she held everything together during a dicey incident involving a leaky swim diaper and a missing change of clothes. I. do. not. deserve. her.

I honestly cannot figure it. What is with all the special treatment? I have to assume she’s just buttering me up to get access to the grandkid (she did ask me if I actually thought she was here to see me—should that have been a hint?), because while I wasn’t the worst kid in the world, I’m sure there have been many times when she would have traded me for a Jack Russell terrier (and she is not a fan of small dogs). I have to assume that these maternal stirrings I’ve been feeling for the past year-plus provide the best hint as to why such a wonderful woman would spend her time and energy on a harmless but kinda neurotic person like me. All I can say is that when Heavy D gets to be my age, I will consider myself lucky if he likes me half as much.