Meow.

Oh, I can curse like a sailor.  I favor fuck, but it depends on the day.  Otherwise, my language isn’t particularly colorful except, of course, when it sounds like I’m 80.  You there!  Pull up those saggy drawers!  I do prefer proper terms for anatomy though, so you generally don’t hear anything being crassly compared to testicles or breasts.  I don’t even like descriptions like “ballsy”.  And I particularly, definitely, absolutely do not like euphemisms for breasts used in a negative way. So imagine my surprise when I found myself giggling mornings this week when I heard my daughter racing down the hall after the cat.

She’s a profoundly loud crawler, smacking her hands down and pounding her knees on the wooden floor.  She usually cackles the entire time she’s moving, delighting in the sound of herself charging down the hall at full tilt.  She is also learning to wrap her mouth around new words, usually copying us.  Heard recently: duh! (dog), mamamama! (mama), eehya! (yes), tutu! (thank you) and, my favorite, Owbee! (Ruby).  Exclamation points hers, I assure you.

Back to the giggling.  Here I am, attempting to get dresses and I hear slap slap titty! titty! slap slap titty!  Fearing kinky porn stars have moved into my home, I peek into the hall and see my child, barreling down the hall, babbling at full volume, hands slapping, yelling TITTY as she chases. the. cat.

Here kitty, kitty.  Welcome to one.

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Down With Baby Food

Last weekend our child ate chicken, watermelon and a corn/black bean/cous cous salad.  That salad had vinegar and lime juice, onions and cilantro.  When I tried to feed her blended vegetables and baby oatmeal she pursed her lips and spat any tiny bits that escaped with precision aim at my head.  Since then we’ve encountered a range of emotions from her around food.  On one end, a gentle resistance to anything that isn’t chicken.  On the other, a passionate refusal of anything that isn’t chicken.

That said, this week she was convinced to eat zucchini (cooked with garlic and chicken broth) and last night she somehow choked down a bowl of oatmeal.  In a daring chicken departure, we served her black beans and tofu on Tuesday.  Though I was needlessly nervous about it, she apparently also enjoyed the chili powder and cumin it was doused with because she ate it happily on Wednesday.

I’m thrilled that she’s eating our food.  I’m less thrilled that she’s eating eggs (mine) for breakfast and that if we have cereal, I suddenly have to think of something NOT CHICKEN RELATED for her.  Believe me, if it isn’t chicken, it had better be damn good.  Her reluctance to eat purees is keeping us honest though.  I find we’re less likely to eat things we don’t want to feed her.  I cooked two dinners last night – chicken (obviously) for her and pizza for us.  I’m not keen on doing that again, so she’s going to have to start learning to love pizza.  I kid.  Mostly.

She hasn’t mastered the art of feeding herself.  And by that I mean makes no attempt to rather than tries really hard and gosh darnit she almost has it.  If she moves her hand near her mouth she either forgets to release the transported morsel or she brings it closer and closer…to her ear.  I’m not sure what she thinks will happen if she stuffs it in her ear but I don’t need to worry yet.  She gets close and gives up completely forgetting she was attempting to do something THAT WOULD MAKE ME VERY HAPPY.

Eleven months and she’s a miracle.  A miracle of chicken.

MAMA BABY

MAMA BABY!

I don’t know if these are words or not, but the intention is pretty clear. Mamamama will bring a mama to the crib, or the babyjail…er, playpen, and is usually delivered in a quavering brink-of-tears voice that seems particularly programmed to get one of us to rescue her.  Stat.  If we repeat mama back at her, she drops all the extra mas and reinvests in Mama please come get me this other mama abandoned me! Please!   Well to be honest, she just says mama even though she means the rest.

Baby is another situation all together.  It is reserved for the most dire of situations: thunking her head against the floor.  It’s a sickening sound, isn’t it? Baby skull on anything other than carpet (and even that) turns my stomach every time. She’s pretty resilient though.  Immediately post-thunk her face rumples in on itself and she freezes in that breathless, crumpled state and then lets go with a howl and directly follows it with BAAAAAAAABY.  As she cries, she adds in mama until we’ve got a steady stream of MAMA BABY going on.  It reverts to mama once we pick her up and then vanishes completely until next thunk.

Maybe she’s using those words in a logical way.  Maybe she isn’t.  Either way, her intention is pretty clear.  Mama, pick up your baby right this instant.  So we’re calling it words.  For the record, one week shy of 11 months and we’ve got mama and baby.  And thunk.

Increments of Awesome

It seems like our girl is doing all of her developing on Fridays.  All through the week we hover on the status quo and then we bring her home on Friday and BAM! she beaks out two or three new tricks.  It could be that the daycare is hiding her mad development from us so we feel like we aren’t missing anything but I think it’s more that she practices and learns all week and then tries it out (to much applause) on the weekends.  Hell baby doll, I always feel better after I’m done working for the week, too.

This week we leapt from conservative pulling up to full-out standing.  It was amazing to see her initial attempts at letting go and balancing evolve from shaky spilt-seconds to full minutes of steady standing.  She isn’t a fan of stepping so much, preferring to lead with her body and forgetting that she needs to lift up her feet.  If you’re imagining a lot of face plants, you’d be right.  We bought her a toy to walk with, which mainly means we have to hang on to it to keep it from running away with her.

She recently has eschewed waving in favor of clapping. All that applause she’s netting for standing must be rubbing off.

I found her chasing a cat this morning, plowing down the hallway at full speed, quasimodo leg nowhere in sight, barreling toward the open basement door.  As I sped up to overtake her and shut the door, she went FASTER and did some sot of side maneuver in an effort to send me flying while she threw herself down the stairs.  She was a diaper clad blur.  Fortunately for me, she has no stealth about her.  She slaps her hands down so hard, you can hear her into next week.  Catastrophe averted.

We’ve also made huge strides in food.  She had some Thai food with us this weekend – steamed veggies and a bit of num tok, also a bit of pasta, Israeli cous cous and chicken.  I was disappointed when we didn’t have a Sunday meal we could share with her.  Although she still won’t put food into her own mouth, she is happy to have us feed it to her.  She has made gestures toward feeding herself, but once she gets her hand to her mouth she misses the point and forgets to let go.  In what I expect are years of self-doubt, I worry that the fact that I don’t want to give her food to drop on the floor is inhibiting her ability to figure out how to get it into her mouth.  I can’t get past the waste, the mess, the weight the dog will put on from eating her scraps (but not enough to clean up the mess) and mealtimes turning into a circus where I can’t keep track of what how much she has eaten and how much she has dropped into her lap.

I can tell you’re thinking I’m a terrible mother.  Well, while we’re on a roll, she also stuffed the business end of the phone charger in her mouth.  She’s putting things in her mouth!  Well, A thing.  And not, for the record, anything that was currently conducting electricity.  Awesome.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment – moms of walkers: how much time elapsed between standing and taking steps for your tyke?  

Moving Forward. Fast!

RR catapulted through a few milestones this weekend.  It’s almost as if she thought about it and said, “Hmm, what can I get my moms?  I know, I can start doing all those things I’ve been putting off!”  And, pow, like that, she transformed into a proper sort of baby.  Editor’s note: Yes, I know.  Poetic license.

1. She wore her sailor’s dress.  I didn’t buy this gorgeous little thing and, though I would have wanted to, my common sense would have won out.  First, it’s the most pristine white twill thing you’ve ever seen and second, it probably cost a fortune.  It came to us used and free of any stains which I think is pretty impressive for a 9 mo. sized baby item.  Speaking of 9 months, I’ve wanted her to wear this dress before she outgrew it (at 10 months, it’s a close thing for this particular brand).  I had it all lined up for Easter but jetted off to California and she ended up in a Pluto onesie instead (thanks grandma!) but then a Mother’s Day outing presented itself and presto! Adorable sailor’s dress.

2. She allowed an actual Navy man to comment on her “braids” and granted him a smile for his efforts.  And then! she let another man chuck her under the chin without crying.  I’m one of those folks that okay with strangers invading our space as long as they are friendly and polite about it.  Editor’s note: Yes, I know.  I particularly let older folks touch her.  How often do they get to touch babies?  Life turns over far too quickly from “all my friends are getting married and having babies…to all my friends are dying”.

3. She cried when we left her at school.  That’s right, my sensitive soul suddenly stopped crying at her caregivers and has turned to crying at us instead!  Progress!

4. She kicked the crawling up into high gear and (mostly) ditched the Quasimodo crawl that involved using one leg to propel herself while letting the other knee drag behind.  Friday, she was still reluctantly crawling short distances when she really wanted 1) us and 2) the water bowl.  Sunday, she was a rocket, slapping her hands down and launching through the hallways.  She heads for the backdoor and any of the water dishes (Editor’s note: Yes, I know).  She determines what could be turned into an improvised drum-set and throws down.  Dog dish, tambourine, guitar, high chair tray, my arms, tables, the floor.  She pulls up and lets go to flap her arms in joy.  She suddenly loves everything about movement.

5. She ate from our plates.  We’ve been struggling to get out of purees, mostly because she. won’t. put. anything. in. her. mouth.  Not fingers, not electrical cords, not food.  Editor’s note: yes, I know.  On so many levels, I know.  It’s sort of hard to put something in there that doesn’t arrive on a spoon.  A parenting fail turned into a revelation at the restaurant when we realized she was long past due to eat and weeded out a couple of pieces of pasta (new), zucchini and carrots and mashed them up with a fork AND FED THEM TO HER.  This was nothing near a puree and it was totally recognizable as carrots, zucchini and pasta.  And then we fed her a bite of breadstick and you’d think she’d gone to heaven.  Then we gave her water from a straw, because you know, she shuns sippy cups in favor of full on glasses of water and don’t you try to hide your glass, she will find it with her beady little dousing eyes and then she will beg until she can have it.  Since I’m not going to let her spill at a restaurant, she got fed from a straw until we could distract her long enough to hide the glass.

Proof. 

Impossible

I thought of all kinds of titles for this post – like Another One Bites the Dust and 3 to 0 Grandmothers in under 7 Months and even the tried and true, RIP.  there isn’t anything, really, that describes the sense of bewildered loss I have.  Whole chunks of our families are missing but because of their distance, their age maybe, their long lives, what I’m feeling isn’t soul crushing or a sense of helplessness, but rather a profound sense of loss coupled with the realization that I haven’t fully taken a breath.

My grandmother (on my father’s side) – her name was Hazel, let’s call her Hazel – passed away on Monday.  She was an individual – 98 and three quarters, mother, wife and widow, fisherman, businesswoman, college graduate, inveterate gambler and card shark.  She was also beautiful, quick to laugh and had long legs and an easy smile.  My grandfather (Fred) said she was easy on the eyes, a head-turner.  She was also deeply committed to her grandchildren and gin and tonics.   Hazel and Fred were my be all end all until we moved (at 11).

Together D and I have lost all three of our grandmothers, Hazel just now and of Katherine and Annabelle in the fall.  Not completely unexpected but not completely ready.  It seems impossible but there it is.

Baby Shank

Let me tell you how much fun it is staying home sick with a sick baby.  No time for video games, lounging around in pajamas, eating crackers, feeling sorry for myself.  What’s worse, nighttime comes and that same sick baby is STILL sick only she’s more sick than she was all day and refuses to go to sleep, thankyouverymuch.

Note: It’s fun, deciding which of you should sleep less while dealing with the howling gremlin of phlegm.  Should it be the person who worked all day and is tired or the person who is sick?  No one wins here.  Everyone slept in a recliner at some point, except, of course for the gremlin.

I’m not surprised that she was felled so swiftly this time – she’s suddenly movin and shakin (I just wrote shankin there.  And now I’m worried about this:

At the start of last weekend (one spent out-of-town), she was our clear-eyed, snot-free beacon of hope but she got progressively worse throughout and landed home a mess of tears and germs.  At the same time, she went from a quasimodo barely-there crawl to full-fledged locomotion, complete with agile pulling up and attempts to cruise.  On Monday, she pulled up on the living room chair, a trunk, my wife’s pants, a dishtowel, the clothes basket, thin air, and the stove.  Needless to say, they didn’t all work out the same way.

Tuesday at daycare, I set her down in her usual place.  The place where she sits, waves a cup around and grins like a maniac until someone moves her.  Then she flipped around, did some sort of jiu-jitsu and pulled up on a plastic lawnmower.  Unfortunately, she picked the wrong end to swing from.  Fortunately, I’m a superhero.  We left her sitting demurely at the feet of her teacher.  We left quickly.

She’s feeling better, which is good because I’ve been sick for a month and I am t.i.r.e.d. of it.  Besides, I need to stop blowing my nose long enough to appreciate her mad skills!