Archive for January, 2013

Well, dear readers, in this breathless post I promised you an update on bifocal contacts. So here it is: They pretty much suck and are worthless.

See, pun intended, if you correct one eye for distance and one eye for reading, there’s a lot of territory left uncovered by both corrections. So if I wanted to see clearly far away, no problem. If I wanted to see clearly about 18 inches in front of my face, again, no problem.

But the middle distances, like, oh, across the room where the baby might be plugging his fingers into an outlet, were fuzzy and hazy and a lot of work to bring into focus. And the very close range, such as my baby’s sweet face? A total loss.

Also: I had no idea how much tiredness my glasses frames were covering for me.

And so, dear readers, that’s how I ended up with perhaps the grooviest pair of bifocals ever:


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During a few spare minutes, I relaxed on the kitchen floor, back against the cabinet, knees bent. Baboo came over and pulled up to standing with astonishing fluidity and confidence. One hand let go of my corduroys. Then the other. He weaved side to side ever so gently, a look of revelation on his face. His hands found my leg again within seconds, but in those few moments I gasped and then held my breath.

Standing. My baby was standing.

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The Big Snip

My husband Mowgli (not his real name) is from Southern India, and as such, has certain traditions he follows when it comes to babies. Among these: Not cutting the baby’s hair for the first 11 months. Here’s some information on the custom if you’re curious.

I do not share my husband’s beliefs, but I support them, as he supports mine. Which is why I did my best to keep my kvetching to a dull roar during the four or five months I had to deal with the baby’s increasingly unruly hair. Here’s the kvetchitude post on that in case you missed it.

The date of Baboo’s haircut was fixed by consulting the Hindu astrological calendar. Rather, my mother-in-law, who lives in India, consulted a priest who consulted said calendar. If we lived there, we would likely have had a ceremony in a temple, but since we don’t, we simply plunked the baby in his high chair, put some Cheerios in front of him, and started snipping.

My mother was on hand to help us — a good thing, because not only was my husband sick, but she used to cut my and my brothers’ hair, and my hair cutting experience is limited to clumsy attempts at giving myself bangs in the mid ’80s. This is something I should never attempted, as I have a massive cowlick.

Grammie and I took turns making sure the baby was distracted by the aforementioned Cheerios or a glass of water while the other one wielded the scissors and tried to neither stab the baby in the neck nor give him a bowl cut. These twin goals were rendered more difficult to achieve by the baby’s insistence on whipping his head around to find the source of the snipping sounds.

Every last bit of hair we cut off Baboo’s little noggin was deposited on a paper towel so that it could be bundled with some money in a hankie that had been soaked in turmeric water and dried. This package will be sent to Mowgli’s mom so she can take it to a temple and do what needs to be done with it to complete the process.

After half an hour, with Baboo starting to get fussy, we called it good. There are a few spots we’re going to refine, but generally, we now have a baby who looks much more like a little boy than an infant.

And yes, that means I cried a little when I stepped back to look at the overall effect and recognized the transformation. Because even though I was more than done with being a baby hair wrangler, I don’t think I’ll ever be done with thinking of my baby as a bay-bee.


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Look, it’s the trash truck! Oops, he went by really fast. But listen, can you hear the truck? He went down to get our neighbors’ trash, but he’ll be back, don’t you worry.

Oh look, he’s turning around very carefully! He’s picking up our trash bin! Up, up, up, up, up, aaaaaaand over! Bye-bye trash! And now he’s bringing it down, down, down, and setting it down very gently. What a good trash man!

And now he’s picking up our neighbor’s bin! Up, up, up…

You get the idea. It was actually quite exciting, for both of us.

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For Christmas, because he loves buttons, zippers and shoelaces, my mom gave Baboo a learn-to-dress monkey we promptly named George. He’s awfully cute:


The other day, just for kicks, I asked the baby, “Where’s George?” For more kicks, I added, “Go find George!”

He got up, peg-legged his way over to George, and smashed his face into the monkey’s face — his equivalent, I think, of a hug.

I sat on the kitchen floor with my mouth hanging open for a moment before saying, “What a smart baby you are!” A few days ago, he did it again when a friend was visiting.

Later, I thought about all of this and realized a few things:

– We were in the kitchen, and George was in the dining room, at least 15 feet away, and he was slumped on his side (we often sit him up because he’s so damn cute).
– George has been around for just over three weeks and is not a constant plaything; more like one of a cast of rotating characters.
– We use the monkey’s name perhaps every other day.

So after roughly a dozen usages of the name in reference to the monkey, not only does the baby know the monkey’s name, but he understands “where” and “go get it.”

Things are about to get really fun around here.

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You are eleven months old.

You like to steal dish towels off the stove when you think Mama’s not looking. But you are such a good boy that if she says “ah-ah” you move away from the oven. You might make a little noise about it, but you do move.

You are very amused by the game of peekaboo.

You love sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, pears, peaches, applesauce, bananas and Cheerios. You will eat Cheerios and bread with your fingers but you do not recognize small pieces of fruit and veggies as food, unless they’re on a spoon.

You take your bottles facing outward on Mama’s lap — this has been the case for a long time — and you prefer to have something to hold while you drink. If there’s nothing in your hand, you will take off your sock and play with your foot.

You are desperate to stand and walk, and you pull up on the gate, your toy box, your music table, the dishwasher, the fridge, and our legs. But you are also very good at getting where you want to go, quickly, with your funny, leg-in-front crawl. It makes a funny ka-thunk noise, so this is why we sometimes call you Peg-Leg Pete.

You will come thumping across the floor if we open the fridge or the dishwasher.

You would eat your weight in Cheerios if we let you.

You are fascinated by sunbeams and shadows.

You are equally interested in the screws that hold a toy together as the toy itself.

You have figured out how to take things with you when you crawl, so now we find books in the kitchen and fridge magnets in the dining room.

You have also figured out how not to yawn or rub your eyes when you’re tired. Instead, you become very vocal and active and will climb all over Mama and bite her shoulder. But once you’re on your way upstairs, you give in to yawns and eye-rubbing.

You know that when you hear the garage door, someone is arriving or departing. Either way, you wave, say “buh” or “mama” and often go to the gate to see if someone’s coming.

You like to lick the glass of the deck doors.

Your favorite books are Baby Faces, Pat The Bunny, Trucks Go and Dear Zoo. You consistently pull them off your bookshelf and turn the pages and interact with them and carry them with you across the room. Unless it’s Pat The Bunny, in which case you will sit and play peekaboo with Paul and feel Daddy’s scratchy face and bend over to look at yourself in the mirror.

You enjoy playing with us, but you will also play by yourself.

You are so handsome that strangers routinely stop to comment about it. This has Mama a little worried.

You love your Daddy to bits. You squeal when you see him in the morning and at the end of the day. You love to grab his face and ears, and you love it when he puts you on his shoulders. If you go over to him and ask to be picked up, and he doesn’t pick you up, you do a really funny fake cry.

You also love your Grammie. You give her the biggest smiles and reach for her face, and you like playing with the pretty necklace she wears for you.

You get a huge smile on your face whenever we Skype with Avva, who lives very far away. Even if you’ve had a funky morning, you smile and smile and greet her, and then you imitate what she says, and try to feed her Cheerios when she asks you to.

You are eleven months old, and we’re pretty sure you’re the best baby ever.

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Christmas Memories

20130117-091053.jpgYes, it was nearly a month ago. Yes, I should be writing a post about the baby’s (very exciting!) haircut or how I can’t believe he’s 11 months old now. But Christmas is what I can’t stop thinking about.

Well, not the holiday itself, so much as a few things that happened during ours.

We have a photo of my nieces on the fridge. A couple of times a day, we take the baby by it and say their names. You know, “This is Blanche. That’s Matilda.” When we arrived at their house, Baboo had had half an hour of his usual four hours of nap time. He was discombobulated. And when he saw my older niece, his face completely lit up.

The girls had a lot of questions about the baby. Can he stand? Does he talk? What can he eat? I told the almost-four niece he could have tiny bits of bread. Every so often, she’d hand me a crumb and say it was for the baby. I would thank her profusely.

The girls helped me give the baby a bath. Okay, they watched and said cute things. But the older niece (six) asked if she could get a towel for him, and I said yes, that would be very helpful. She came back with a (very lovely) hand towel. Small creature, small towel, right?

My younger niece said Baboo could play with her Duplos (which he loved) but not her new, Christmas Duplos, because she didn’t want him putting chew marks in them. Fair enough. The kid is a gnawing machine. And she’s almost-four.

The baby met many, many family members, and with most of them, he was his usual reserved self. But he seemed to really connect with two people: My cousin’s wife, who is tall and pretty and has long, blond hair (which he had never seen); and a dear old friend who was born with some sort of baby and kid magic. By the end of the visit, Baboo was reaching out to his face, something he only does with me, my husband and my mom.

My husband, the baby and I stayed in my older niece’s room. A few times, I said to her, “Blanche, thank you so much for sharing your room with us, it’s so nice of you.” Each time, she shrugged and say, “It’s okay, I’ve done it before.” We were there for nine days, and every time she needed to go in there to get a pair of socks or a book or a toy, she would come ask one of us if it was okay. Nine. Days. Six years old. That is one well-raised little girl.

After either Christmas Eve or Christmas night dinner (it’s hazy, because both were grand affairs with phenomenal food, lovely wine and The Good Plates), we sat around discussing (among other things) babies. There were folks there who will have some, and folks who already have them. There were a lot of lovely things said about feeling the baby move and holding the baby for the first time.
I sat there mostly listening, and thinking about the shock of the size of the love you feel for your kid. How you think falling in love with your partner is the most amazing set of feelings you will ever feel, and how you realize once the kid comes along how puny that is in comparison. It’s not that it isn’t fabulous, the love you have for your co-pilot, but it seems like a speck of dust in comparison to the Louvre that is Baby Love.

Happy holidays ex post facto, y’all. Hope yours were as tender-sweet-delicious as ours.

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I have a few key ploys for keeping Baboo (not his real name) happy while I cook or do dishes or one of my 88 chores in the kitchen/dining area where we spend a LOT of time. Chief among said ploys: Fun stuff on the fridge.

We had a few magnetized containers I felt were safe for him, so those have been up for a while. But I wanted something more fun and baby-friendly. After a brief Internet search I settled on these, from Geomag:


They’re meant as a farm animal play set, but they work really well as fridge magnets. The animals are soft molded rubber, so they’re nice for the baby to both grab and gnaw on. They’re made in Switzerland, and with European baby safety standards being what they are, I know they’re safe for him.

The rubber animal parts fit around magnetized balls, and they’re not that hard to pop off, which ends up providing more entertainment for the wee one. They come together to make free-standing toys, too, so he can play with them as he grows.


Bonus features: I can use them to teach him animal noises, which he thinks is hilarious.

They seem to be carried at quite a few places, and of course, Amazon has them.

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Mind Your Language

Almost as soon as the baby was born, I started saying things like, “My goodness!” and “Oh my!” (The latter not in the spirit of George TakeiGeorge Takei, but a middle-aged Midwestern namby-pamby.)

I don’t understand. I love language, my vocabulary is pretty decent, and I particularly like salty words. So why did I suddenly start spewing verbal pablum?

No really, I’d like to know. Does anyone have any ideas? Do babies emit something that makes this happen? If so, will it also cause me to consider buying sweatshirts with appliqu├ęs? Because that would be way over the line of acceptable parental sacrifices.

The good news, however, is that the baby hasn’t taken away my ability to swear up a storm.

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I knew it was coming. One day the baby would do something hilarious at an inappropriate time and I wouldn’t be able to keep from laughing.

As it often does in my family, it happened over food. A big spoonful of baby cereal mixed with fruit went into the baby’s mouth. Almost immediately, he blew a raspberry. Cereal on him, on me, on the tray, on the floor. And before I could stop myself, I laughed.

I’ve read the books, so I knew it was the wrong thing to do as I was doing it (babies know how to play for laughs). Still, I didn’t care. Until a few minutes later when he did the same thing while looking at me with a glint in his eye.

And so I prepared to pour all my disapproval into my face and bust out the Stern Mom Look. The next time he did it, I slapped that look on my face and said, “No. Not funny.” A big fat lie. But since I don’t want to spend the next four months scraping baby cereal out of every crevice in the dining room, a worthwhile lie.

It worked. He stopped doing it.

A few days later, he started something new. He takes the spoon between his teeth and bends down until his face is flush against the tray. Usually, this sends whatever’s on the spoon up his nose. And in between performances, he sticks his right index finger up his right nostril, holds it there, and just looks at me.

Seems I have a comedian on my hands. And I’m at least partly to blame — I taught him to blow raspberries.

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