Sunday, November 02, 2008

Anayanse repeat

Tonight was the last event in a series of events for El Dia de Los Muertos. Big sister was devastated that we left the disappointing sacred circle dance before it ended. To begin with, we were late arriving. (I had what I think was indigestion and little sister had a full outfit changing poop.) From the look of things, it didn't look like a thing too great. Big sister was expecting drums, indigenous dancers, long flowing skirts, and flowers everywhere. I was expecting a circle and people clomping. We saw a couple of square scarfs on the floor with a couple of small candles in safe little glasses in the middle of the big hall floor--indoors. People were standing in small groups in the corners looking at us like we had something exciting to share. But we were selfish tonight.

We went, as a family--big sister, little sister, Daddy, and Mama--outdoors. In the great soccer field near our home we stopped under the stars. I walked into the field with little sister strapped to my back thinking it should be just dry enough for my purposes. I knelt on the ground and dug in with my fingers. The ground was damp from the rain of the past two days, but today had been sunny, so everything was just right. There was a bit of cloud cover, but you could see the stars. It was clear, cool, and we were warm from walking. I smelled my fingers for dog poop then spread mud with two fingers across big sister's cheeks. She giggled. I called Daddy near and got him too. I dotted my fingers on little sister's nose. After putting mud on my cheeks I looked up and took a deep breath.

Who do you know that's died? "Phoebe Washer" Well, you didn't really know her, you never met her. "How about Grampa Jim?" Yes, that's it, Dad's right, think of him, you met him. Now think of all your great grandparents and your Great, Great Tia Leda and all your ancestors that made it possible for you to be here today. Now look at the stars and feel the ground below your feet. Little sister was quiet. Enjoy it. We held hands.

Now that's what you do. That's what.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

babies love brondo

Mama's exausted after a bout with a not so casually sick baby. See the movie Idiocracy? It's Mike Judge's movie about the United States in the year 3001, or at least sometime in the future. It's not so much a comedy in my view because it's nonfiction on the future. I know it's what the future's going to be like. Wrestlers for president with people painted up like they're at a football game for the state of the union address.

The reason I bring it up. Brondo. Plants love Brondo 'cause Brondo's got what plants crave. I gave my baby Brondo. She was in danger of dehydration so we gave her a grape flavored MUCH TOO SWEET for grown ups electrolyte enhanced drink.

She craved it. She didn't give it to the plants which is what they do in Idiocracy. Maybe there's hope for the planet. That's the legacy I'm going to share with my daughter, Mike Judge. I'm going to be sure she knows that electrolyte enhanced beverages are for people, not plants.

There you go.

Monday, June 23, 2008

rested after vacation

Lucienne Day led me to Alvin Lustig.

Friday, May 30, 2008

trash and buggers

Dear daughter had two breakthroughs. I don't know how to brag about these. Last night she was feeding herself avocado, but she was as tired as she was hungry and was rubbing her nose and eyes. Well, avocado is slippery and her index finger slipped into her nose. Then it went there on purpose, and then again. After her bath, she did it yet again, pulled out a bugger and ate it. We've decided that we'll just not make a big deal of that one.

This morning she had another new word: trash. Every Thursday morning she's excited to watch the garbage truck on its rounds. Today she jumped into my arms, kicked her legs, and quite clearly exclaimed, "trash!"

Her vocabulary is taking off with words like ball, bath, yes, hot!, no, and up. Sometimes clear, sometimes only recognizable by intonation and pointing. Noonyi is one I haven't figured out. People are starting to say, "did she just say that?" Well, yes, yes, I think she did. Listen closely, her brain only allows one time at this point.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Got to use the sleep now

Mom moment

Today was a mixed bag. Back to the city today for dinner with friends. Non-breeding friends. The baby was great until she hit her mouth on the coffee table. And I felt like such a champ. I was keeping her occupied and out of the adults' food. She was happy identifying horses and frogs scattered throughout the friends' apartment. It was also great that I managed to lead the conversation with non-baby topics.

Then the little dog came running up to the coffee table. Dear daughter fell, bumped her mouth and started bleeding. The voice of reason in my head said, "she'll be better if you keep it together". So I kept it together, but mostly for the sake of the rest of the people. So ingrained is it not to make a fuss and to keep up appearances that I calmly checked the baby for injury and decided that we didn't need stitches. She's just about to get her two front teeth. Poor thing, she just doesn't know about life yet. I felt just stupid for letting her fall. She's still wobbly on her feet and looses whatever coordination she's gained as the need for a nap or a good night's sleep approaches.

The mom moment came when I had the helpless feeling that I couldn't help her. She cried in my arms after the fall. She cried in the car seat when I went up front to drive and left her with Daddy in the back seat. She cried to be picked up after I went back to the back seat and nursed her. She cried when she realized I was back driving again, but this time fell asleep holding my hand as I drove. I just couldn't please her or make it better.

The mom moment before that was last night as we pulled into the driveway after a nice and sleepy ride home. I thought about the relief I used to feel when I knew we were home and the day was over. I was so happy to be the loving arms that placed her into a familiar bed after a big night out.

So it's been a big Memorial Day weekend. We survived her first wedding--with compliments on her behavior, even. We visited opening day for the farmers market. We are about to put her in her own bedroom. That's scheduled for tomorrow after the playgroup potluck.

Active busy smiley girl. Sneezing to entertain the hosts. Upset by growling dogs. Panting at happy dogs. Hip hop loving dancey girl.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

just enjoying

I'm just enjoying the moment now. napping on my lap is my daughter. She's holding her plush baby doll, NaNa. On my right knee is the grey kitty who purrs and purrs--this has a white noise effect that I think helps the baby. Further to my right is the black cat. Above me to my right is the black and white cat, Walter. He has the prized spot on top of the couch where sun remains the longest. He's proud, as this is the result of a turf war that lasted all week. On the keyboard cat hair is floating clumsily as I type.

Ahh, it's a loving and warm moment. This is a little more like I'd expected.

Dear daughter entertained her daddy last night with fake sneezes. The fun part is that you get to throw your head back and forth to show the sneeze's magnitude.

Dirt was discovered in our friend's garden yesterday. It's still early, so there was plenty of good soil around to cover baby's feet. I found her an earthworm and she squealed with delight. She loved sitting in the garden so much that she fussed when I picked her up. That never happens. She's always been delighted to be in Mama's arms. Maybe she dislikes our 1970s brown carpet as much as me.

Later, we played with pebbles, ate avocado, and ran around the house. What a good day for big sister, mama and baby.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

mama's together for a day

taking up to three steps at a time
saying uh-oh is fun for everyone
pressing buttons with index finger
knows the words bus and diaper
hears a firetruck and wails
thought she said cell phone and want some

mama's new secret weapon: the vacuum
at the right time and place, the vacuum puts her out

while i can't create much art right now, i'm turning to the subtle nuances of baby behavior. i know getting a baby to sleep is tricky, for just the fact that the 13 moms in my playgroup have a hard time. i'm satisfied to be reading her cues for sleep well. it's a large reward for spending all but 2 hours of my awake hours with dear daughter and none spent painting or drawing--some moments spent writing.

yesterday was one of the more perfect days. she napped on my back (in a baby carrier) for an hour while i vacuumed and paced the house wondering what to do with my freedom. she napped in the stroller later. This let me clear the flowerbox out front. we've had plants i let die and weeds i let die there sitting for two years.

on top of that, she slept for 8 hours, then two hours in a row. my mind was clear and i could make up good baby songs. i had dinner ready for dear husband. when he came in the door, the baby yelled "hi!'', we sat down to dinner and i felt like a champ.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

mama doesn't, but daddy does

Mama doesn't have it together, but Daddy sure does. For 11 months now I've been struggling to stay afloat. My main objectives for myself are to feed, sleep, and keep insanity away. For the baby the objectives are similar, but I am concerned about the baby's overall development rather than it's sanity.

Today, when I felt close to giving it all up, I asked my husband if I could take a short nap. I am not a daytime napper. Usually it's tough to fall asleep during the day. I could feel it coming strong today, though. I just woke up from that nap. I heard no baby screaming. Instead I heard laughter.

Husband was genius in that clever use an object and apply known principles. Dear husband used the wheels of the high chair to move it close to the stove. He also used big sister and her compulsion to help with anything baby. A proud big sister came to me grinning just now willing to keep the secret that Mama was awake in exchange for telling her tale.

Big sister had fed the baby a jar of baby food without spilling anything. She then continued to supply the baby with Os to keep the baby happy. At the present time big sister is supervising baby with apple slices in a mesh bag. An advantage that big sister has is that she can delight and amaze baby sister skillfully and willingly as long as needed. I am amazed with
dear husband's ability to combine these principles of children's behavior. He put a kitchen chair down for big sister to sit next to baby.

Principles used:
Big Sister has boundless energy
Baby Sister has insatiable appetite
Big Sister is fascinated with Baby Sister
Baby Sister is fascinated with Big Sister
Baby Sister needs to be near people
High chair has wheels
High chair does not have to be in the far corner of the kitchen

And he's improvising with a recipe!!! He added apples to Afgani rice
It smells so good right now!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

time to go

new words galore
baby is standing
baby took a first step on Wednesday
baby rarely likes diaper changes anymore
too hot for writing
everything is heating up: computer, baby, my skin
tired, tired, tired
mama lost what she had a couple weeks ago

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

media influenced

Husband just bought a new digital, flat screen television. It's day two and the t.v. still sits in it's box. We aren't in need of television broadcasts and it's kind of nice.

I'm a recovered t.v. addict. It's been months since I've had even a passing thought of Judge Judy. It helps that we don't have cable. We can get Telemundo, Univision, an independent Clear Channel station, and PBS. We don't keep up with American Idol, Survivor, or Lost. If coworker talk turns to television we'll only be able to discuss The Wire.

There have been all those stories in the news about how television interferes with children's brain development. I believe the studies that say t.v. affects babies visual development and attention spans. I am sold on the notion that my child shouldn't watch television until after age two. She's seen images from some French surrealist films. I also showed her a couple of Sesame Street clips.

Big sister watches movies at her mother's house and all she comes away with are odd catch phrases from Disney movies that she doesn't understand.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Everyday is the same. Routine works well for the baby. There are so many wild variations that there's no way to count on that routine, though. We may be in synch for a week where there is a bit of a pattern. Just when I put a pattern together--like 2 hour morning nap--it changes.

And so today I mourn the passage of the 2 hour morning nap. It was a pattern that helped to keep me sane. I could check email, snack, think, and read (READ!!). I could do anything but get up and walk around or go to the bathroom. It was tricky talking on the phone during that time also. How did I do it? I cheated and I kept the baby at my breast on my lap. If she stirred, I just fed her and she drifted off. I thought I was in control.

This system no longer works. She delayed her morning naps last weekend and this Monday when we headed back to the routine, she only slept 50 minutes. I was shocked since she's usually dead tired on Mondays, since weekends are exciting anything-goes times with Daddy and Big Sister.

Days and changes are so gradual, I am happy when I can pinpoint a milestone. See where the changes occurred. I only lament the morning nap because I had a nice spot in the sun and some time to write. I suspect we're heading towards the long afternoon nap and we're getting the 10 hour night down.

I fear the change a bit, but it's also exciting because I'm getting closer to what I thought staying home and being a nicey-nice housewife would be. I thought I would catch up on miscellaneous projects during nap time. I wondered how I would narrow my to do list during that time. I thought I would become an excellent chef in the afternoon and earlier I would wow my husband with the creative yet simple lunch combos I had waiting for him. Turns out I'm grateful to see him at lunch so he can make me a peanut butter sandwich.

I'm preparing a nap center to be used in the afternoons this summer. Part of the reason I didn't put the baby down to nap in our bedroom--the crib location--was because there was no heat and it was chilly all the time. I was looking forward to summer and putting the baby down with a soft summer breeze. The three bedroom windows also let in too much light for the baby's comfort. In her room, currently the storage room, I have dark curtains to block the light and facilitate happy baby napping.

I can't go back to work now. Now that I'm gaining a little sanity. Now that I am able to make not only [peanut butter and jelly], but also [tomato, avocado, lettuce, AND mayonnaise] sandwiches.
And I made two of them today.

I'm still just getting it together and there are more moments when I don't think about the baby.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

mama's got it in a lazy way

I tried to put the baby down for a nap in her crib, twice. It didn't work, even though she was curling up on the floor while I vacuumed. My days are full of what ifs, much more so than it was before. What if I had kept vacuuming? Would she have fallen asleep? What if I had let her cry in her crib until she fell asleep?

So she's asleep on my lap. I heard a loud explosion and a police siren outside. I really wish I could go see.

Instead, I'm browsing blogs, reading until I'm no longer interested. Surprise, surprise, the world online isn't much different than the world at large.

And back to active parenting...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

not the star family

Mine is not the star family. We certainly won't win the prize of the year for families. We don't have enough boats or cars or marketers interested in us. We don't even care for families who win prizes.

My little family visited the museum of modern art today. Big sister, age 7, was most interested in the building's architecture which made me realize that a lot of work had indeed been put into the space. Little sister, age 10 months, was mostly interested in lighting changes. Little sister had been twice before. This was the first visit for big sister.

Big sister's favorite piece was a rusty outdoor sculpture of slabs by Barnett Newman and little sister's was a black and white film of people clapping wooden blocks. It goes to show that people gravitate to what they know.

Big sister had just been learning about sculpture gardens and docents at the museum helped kids create their own mini gardens. She liked the outdoor sculpture. Little sister's favorite toy for the past 4 or 5 months has been wooden blocks. She's been working on knocking them together and is pleased to make noise. I'm pleased to see both girls work their own threads.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Used Kaspar Hauser

I used The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, by Werner Herzog, on big sister a few years back. Big sister is now seven years old. She was compelled by this story of a man who didn't know language as an adult because he'd been raised away from any meaningful human contact.

What touched big sister was a scene where children her age were teaching Kaspar, a grown man, how to speak. They shared a kitten with him and used sign language. Big sister's reading skills weren't quite as fast as the subtitles to the film, but she didn't seem to mind the German. She still asks about that movie.

Several scenes weren't appropriate for a kid. It's so much better for her than Hanna Montana, which we're having a difficult time escaping.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cat vs Kitty

We're losing the fight of cat vs. kitty. Dear daughter's friend, who has been 1 year old for 2 days now says kitty. After daddy, bye, and die it's her most clearly spoken word. I have to admit it's cute when she comes over exclaiming "kitty, kitty" until she finds one of our 3 cats. The friend's daughter gets quite a reaction, naturally, from bystanders, of which my daughter may or may not be aware.

Language is one of the most exciting parts of raising the baby. This was one aspect I've been pondering and waiting to witness. I guessed correctly that one of dear daughter's favorite objects would be a cat. As soon as her vision kicked in--newborns can only see an arm's length and only in black and white--one of the first objects I watched her track was the black and white spotted cat. I had to place her strategically for her to notice the grey cat and the black cat.

I've been deliberately talking and speaking clearly to her since the first day. I chose the word cat to identify the cats because it was one syllable. I also hoped that since she's around adults and the adults she's with mainly use the word cat, it would be reinforced. I try to make things fun, but shun baby talk. While kitty isn't exactly baby talk, I just preferred the word cat from the start.

She watched the cats at first, then she mimicked their meowing. That was a fun surprise. I hadn't thought about the fact that the cat's throaty meows were easier to pronounce than the word cat. (She pants for dogs.) She loves the touch and feel books with bits of fur and other fun touchies pasted in the pages. I deliberately changed the text of one of her books saying cat every time instead of kitten. It was a touch and feel book all about kittens.

She's gaining control of her words now and can clearly say cat. She made quite a verbal leap last Wednesday that was exciting to witness. Her own command pleased her. The past few days, however, she's been favoring the word kitty. It's not as clear as her one-year-old friend, but the intonation is the same. I haven't heard her say cat in the past couple of days at all.

I didn't use the names of any of the cats at all until she clearly understood the word cat. I noticed that she uses the word kitty for the black and white cat, the cat we call Walter Kitty. (I even renamed him Walter Cat in the beginning of this baby adventure to be consistent. Didn't have the right ring and I gave that up months ago.)

What to do? What would you do?

For now, I'm still using cat and confirming, yes, that's a kitty. Next up: dog vs doggy...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

post gravid

Two things I thought about at 3 am last night as I listened to the baby put herself back to sleep: 1. my total responsibility for this person's life and 2. my post-gravid body.

In an act of chivalry and team spirit, I sent my husband home to watch movies, eat Indian food, and have one last, quiet full night of sleep. This was the first night with the baby. I gave birth at 6:30 pm and was settled into my hospital room by 10 pm.

At 2 am, alone with a baby, the gravity of this post-gravid state hit me. I was in charge. I was in control of someone else's life. Who gave me this responsibility? Wanting a baby now seemed a mad and unthoughtful drive. When I wanted a baby, I could ponder a while, then forget and think of other things. Now that I had a baby, the attention was constant. The only time I get a break is when she's sleeping. But then that's when I think of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Safety is a constant motivator. This world has lots of danger for babies. One way out is ignoring the dangers and loosening one's vigilance. That's not how I'm wired. It's my compulsion to look after that baby. So that I'm even driven to check her breathing when she sleeps.

I was helpless in the hospital those first 2 nights. I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself. I couldn't walk more than a few steps. It was my first time using a wheel chair. It was weeks before I could walk a block. 10 months later I can walk over a mile and I've gone back to ballet class. I realized in last night's wee hours that I feel okay in my post-gravid body.

My pelvis shifted, so laying on my stomach on a hard surface doesn't feel the same.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

day 2 - got together

Day two of getting it together and it got. Easing back into the workday after making weekend adjustments. Baby's back to naptime routine and she slept 9 hours, 52 minutes with no interruptions last night! I didn't dilly dally after putting her to bed and managed to grab 7 hours, 52 minutes for myself. Sleep is on of the very best things in the world. I'm glad dear daughter has discovered this.

I'm relieved that I avoided the 100 degree temperature virus of big sister. Though we may not yet be in the clear. Daddy and big sister are still home today following the doctor's orders. It's nice to have my husband working next to me in the sun-filled living room. Feels different than a weekend. There's a buzz of productivity in the air. Because Daddy is home, I was able to put on a face mask and organize clothes.

The weather's moving from the long sleeve days to the short sleeve with a cardigan days. As usual, I discovered that I do own more than clothing for just 3 days. Discovered some old goodies in the t-shirt pile and some that had disappeared.

There's also excitement in the air because today playgroup is at the artist's ranch. There will likely be good food and some drama.

And the baby awakes...back to active mothering.

Monday, April 28, 2008

mama's finally getting it together

Mama's finally getting it together. Maybe this is just a fluke, but it sure feels improved. Typing with one hand is getting easier and faster. The kitchen counter's been relatively clear for almost two weeks. We've got snacks and extra food in the cabinets. The litter box is clean. I'm almost on top of the ant situation. There's clean clothes in the dryer and there's space on the floor to dump them and sort them in the bedroom. It's taken 10 months to get here. All I did was have a little 8 pound baby 10 months ago.

Days are spent watching the baby. Literally watching the baby. For two weeks now I've had a few gates in the door so I can corral her while I complete such daily niceties as go to the bathroom. That was a relief. Two daily operations I've been unwilling to compromise are using the restroom and taking a shower. The third operation, checking email, is not necessary, but it sure helps.

I've devised methods to reach these ends daily. Dear daughter plays in the excersaucer with at least 3 books and one stuffed animal while I shower. The excersaucer is two saucers with three columns separating the two saucers. There's a pocket with leg holes baby sits in and toys attached to the top saucer. The challenge is that this crawling baby does not like restricted movement now that she's got a 3-d world and full hand-to-mouth control.

To go to the bathroom, I wait until the baby's engaged with a toy, tell her that Mama's going to the bathroom, make sure all gates are in place, and climb over the gate to go to the bathroom. I must be sure my bladder's not too full so I can still make it over the gate.

The third activity, checking email, surfing online, and writing takes place during baby's morning nap. This is the one activity I expect to regret later but it's working for now and I need more resources in place before I can change. Baby naps on my lap as I type and scroll. If she wakes, the breast is right there to ease her back to sleep. She has napped without the breast and in her crib, but that was way back before the holidays and when she was 6 months old.

I chickened out and have let her stay in my lap since January. It really is nice, though. The sun comes in the living room drenching my back in warmth. I've got my laptop set up on a tv tray with a nalgene bottle, granola bar, and cell phone. The cell phone is for emergencies and for timing the length of the nap. I control the amount of sleep. She gets the benefit of a full sleep cycle. I get the benefit of keeping in touch and connecting with the outside world. The dirty dishes do not benefit and the office remains cluttered.

This routine does help Mama feel she's getting it together.

And then comes the weekend. And then every other week there's the custody enactment of the other daughter. And this week Daddy and big sister other daughter will stay home because big sister is sick. It's Monday, though, and today, Mama's got it together.