Archive for November, 2012

Nine Months


The baby has now been on the planet for about as long as I carried him in my body. He is a wiggly, bouncy, crawly delight with five teeth and a giggle that gets me where I live. His coos are balm for my soul, and I cannot imagine anything sweeter than snuggling his neck first thing in the morning.

Hm. The clich├ęs don’t do it justice. But if I think about how amazing it was to be in Paris with my husband, going up in the monuments at night and strolling the streets while eating pastries in the morning, and concentrate that and multiply it by a googleplex, that’s pretty close to how this baby makes me feel.

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Yesterday, after weeks of scooching around with one leg in front, rocking on his hands and knees but going back to sitting up, and generally not being all that motivated, the baby started crawling. With a vengeance, if that’s possible.

As with the clapping, he busted out this new skill while I was in the kitchen, paying just enough attention to make sure he wasn’t going to bash his head on the floor. A favored toy had rolled away, and nothing else was within easy reach. He sat there for a moment, looking from toy to toy. He looked at me. I said “Hi,” I think.

Then he took off on all fours, both legs behind him, cruised over to what he wanted, and sat down Iike it was no big deal. I cheered.

Today, of course, he is everywhere, going after everything. The heating vent, the door to the deck, that lovely but very pointy table in the photo above. When he went down for his first nap, I moved things and mopped and began mentally bracing myself for the beginning of a new era in which our primary goal is to keep him safe. While letting him explore. And only using the pack-n-play to contain him when it’s really necessary.

At times like this, when I feel fear and doubt taking over, I like to think of my friends who have triplets. And my cousin who has twins. Surely, if they made it through this, so will we.

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A few Fridays ago I was in Macy’s. That was the second day of November, in case your memory’s as bad as mine.

Lots of things bugged me while I was in there, but primarily I was pissed about the Christmas decorations. It’s too early. I know why the retailers do it, but I just hate it. Maybe it’s because I worked in advertising for so long, or because I worked retail one Christmas season.

To make matters worse, this year’s slogan at Macy’s is “Believe,” which made me think, “in what? Spending money?” Additionally, I thought, “Gag me.”

Here’s the other stuff that perturbed me:

– Passing the men’s cologne counter is like eating soap.

– It is not possible to pick a tie in under half an hour because there are at least 80 shades of each color and pattern variation.

– All the cosmetic counter claims are bullshit.

– It is mean to sell $500 purses in the Midwest.

You know what’s cool, though? There’s an iPod vending machine in Macy’s now.

Also cool: Nordstrom doesn’t put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll start entering the mall through there instead.

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Baby’s First Divali


My husband is from Tamil Nadu and was raised in the Hindu tradition, so we observe a variety of holidays from that faith. This morning we celebrated Divali, a major festival that centers on banishing darkness and vanquishing evil. In India, it’s celebrated by pretty much the entire country, across many faiths, and the markets often get a boost from it. This is an excellent summary.

Our observance is relatively simple: We prepare the altar with offerings of fruit, raisins, almonds, sweetened milk with cardamom in it, new clothes, and images of gods and goddesses. We light an oil lamp (most families light a huge number of clay lamps), pray, and go outside to light sparklers. Then we shower, put on the new clothes, light a tablet of camphor and a stick of incense, pray again, drink the milk and eat the raisins and almonds, and go outside again to light more sparklers. At some point we anoint our heads with oil — I think just before the first round of sparklers — but I can’t recall precisely.

The baby will be nine months old this week, so accomplishing all of this around his morning schedule was tricky, and by the end of it he was overtired. It didn’t help that I didn’t realize the top of his Divali outfit (pictured above; a gift from his Indian grandma) didn’t open until I went to put it on him. A few cries of protest were uttered as I worked it over his head and maneuvered his arms through the holes (the fabric, though gorgeous, has no give to it).

But I’m confident he’ll remember the flames and the sparklers more than the wardrobe wrestling match. He’s always been attentive during rituals, and is of course entranced by fire — add sparks, and you have a very happy baby. I know I’ll always remember the rapt look on his face when I think of this day.

And next year, I’ll check the outfit before the big day arrives.

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Cue the circus music.


For the record: I love these.

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Green Tea Time

I’m trying to cut down on my coffee consumption. Again.

I switched to decaf, but it just became a vehicle for sugar and milk — not the greatest thing when you’re trying to banish your muffin-top. Also: The jitters, because decaffeinated does not mean caffeine-free.

Behold, the only green tea that doesn’t turn my stomach upside-down:


Of course, it’s a vehicle for honey, but at least I’m not putting milk in on top of it.

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A Little Help


This morning around 3:30, I thought I heard a few unhappy sounds from the baby. Not full-on crying, just moaning that was on the verge of becoming something… more.

When I peeked at the video monitor I saw that Ned — dear, dear Ned who is Baboo’s most bosom bedtime buddy bear — was in corner of the crib, as far away as he could possibly be from my slightly agitated baby.

I’ve seen my son reach for Ned, and snuggle him, and halfway bite his nose off in glee, so I’m not exaggerating in the previous paragraph. Ned is the closest thing the baby has to a friend, and he provides comfort all night.

So I crept in, put Ned in my baby’s arms, and went back to bed. Overkill? Perhaps. But babyhood is fleeting, and Baboo settled down for four more hours of happy sleep. And it just wasn’t right, those two being so far apart.

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If anything is going to stand in the way of me being the best parent I can be, it’s that I’m a Virgo. Granted, there are advantages to this sign: Attention to detail, very logical, excellent at creating order from chaos, yadda-yadda. But the flip side of liking order and a certain level of cleanliness in the kitchen means I live in fear of teaching the baby to feed himself. Embarrassing, but true.

I’ve been letting him play with the spoon, and putting bits of food on it to reward him for getting the right end in his mouth. And I sit there cringing every single time, damp rag clutched in one hand, the other hand poised to shield my face from flying sweet potato. Imagine the state I’ll be in once I let him really go at it.

It’s kind of sad, actually. This should be a fun time, a happy time. But how to achieve that?

Maybe I should drape the kitchen in old sheets for a few months. Or hire a professional cleaning crew after he gets really good at it. Or just redo the kitchen.

Ah. See? Virgos really are logical!

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New Arrival


As I was coming back from lunch yesterday, I spotted a neighbor helping his wife up their front steps. I knew her due date was next week, so I stopped and called out, “Congratulations!” Followed quickly by, “Is everyone okay?” The answer, thankfully, was yes.

I am just itching to see their brand-new baby boy, but I remember very clearly how overwhelming those first few days and weeks were. Starting with the first trip to the pediatrician — the idea of putting that fragile little being in a big carrier and strapping him in like a teensy NASCAR driver and then putting him in the car was just so weird! Like, I’m supposed to let go of him? For longer than five minutes? And put him in that big hard thing and get those straps on him and tighten them? How barbaric!

These days, of course, it’s second nature. Going to the store, going to lunch, going to the doctor, putting him in and taking him out. No big deal, and now it’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t doing all of that. In fact, it’s a little freaky how quickly having a baby became the new normal, how it suddenly became difficult to recall life before he arrived.

And now a new little family down the street is going through the same wonderfully crazy, bizarre, amazing time. I just hope I don’t cry when I see that itty-bitty and all my memories of my baby’s first days come flooding back.

Fat chance! Already happening!

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Getting out the Vote


I made a face as I was leaving my polling place yesterday morning. I couldn’t help it. Even though I had arrived ten minutes before the doors opened and was only about 15th in line, it took a full half hour for me to get verified and ready to vote. And when I turned from the table where I’d just signed my name and initialed my signature (?!), I had to wait for someone to get up from one of about 15 seats before I could fill out my ballot.

One of the election workers saw my grimace and asked me what was wrong. I said, “I know it’s not your fault, and I appreciate your service, but it seems like the system is designed to discourage people from voting.” She was sympathetic, though obviously powerless to change things on the spot. But it got me thinking: what needs to change in order for voting to be not quite such a gigantic hassle?

Here are some ideas:

– Issue permanent voter ID cards with electronic strips carrying information about the voter, eliminating the need to wait for hours while IDs are manually checked.
– Use portable electronic voting machines and set them up at churches, schools, and community centers not just on Election Day, but well beforehand.
– Require candidates to stop campaigning a few weeks prior to the election.
– Let people vote for at least a month prior to election day.

Does this sound crazy to you? Then consider this: in India, the world’s largest democracy, with a population of over 1 billion people, that’s pretty much how it works. India, people. A Third World country.

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