Friday, December 29, 2006

Tales from my baby's booty

Nate has an enormous abscess on his ass. One night his ass is free and clear, the next morning there's this enormous flat buried mass. I gave it one day to clear up and then took him to the doctor.

She walked in, took a look, and froze. Then she said "Well!" and just stared. "Okay!" and another pause. It was not encouraging.

They gave a numbing cream and had us wander for a while. Then two nurses, plus me, plus Stewart, held him down on a table while they drained it with a razor. Blargh.

Directions were: give him a lot of baths, and antibiotics, and hope it drains itself. Keep an eye out for streaking or fever.

Now he has a fever. Same doctor was on call. Her response? "Well, it's unlikely to become a systemic infection. Keep an eye out for...[medical talk here]." Is there any way to get me to worry more? Couldn't she just have told me what to keep an eye on, without saying what she's scared of? I've already crept into his room twice to check to see if he's burning up with fever. Blargh.

Now he's awake and muttering to himself. Is it "I'm awake and muttering to myself" muttering? Or is it "I have a systemtic infection and I'm dying" muttering? It's so hard to tell from OUTSIDE THE ROOM. But if it's "I'm awake and muttering to myself" muttering, and I go in to check, it will turn into "You pissed me off and I demand a bottle immediately!" screaming and that's not good for either of us.

I am now relying on my mommy-mantra: He didn't die last night, he's probably not going to die tonight. I swear I use this. It actually helps me.

Also, he learned how to ding the bell on his bike today. Actually, he learned how yesterday but was still clumsy at it. Today he's a pro. He'll be joining the "bell dinging circuit" any second.

The talking is starting to snowball. A few days ago he finally got interested in trying to repeat what we're saying, and now it's constant. Today he reached out and touched my nose and said "no".

Wawo = water
No = nose
Nah = Nate
Ma = Mama
Da Da = Da Da
Ma = Grandma
Pa = Grandpa

and so on. The earnest babbling is constant, and I expect that real words are going to start working their way in soon. Assuming that he doesn't die tonight.

Off to sleep (aka: lie in bed awake hoping to hear Nate cry but also hoping not to so that he gets some sleep)


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lousy update

I just cannot get over this kid of mine. He is phenomenal. Fearless, outgoing, friendly, happy, independent. He's everything I wished for in a child. We are so lucky.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Fifteen

Dear Nate,

When they say "They're changing right before my eyes!" they really mean it. You've gotta stop with all of this growing and maturing and changing!

Woobie is old news now. He'll do in a pinch, but your new best friend are the fleecy ties that attach your crib bumpers to your crib itself. You hold them and stroke them and love them so much. Sometimes I let you take one of the short bumpers out of the crib and you are as content as you can be. You loll around on the floor using it as a pillow, sucking your thumb and holding onto the ties. You might as well be rolling around in a pile of money, pressing it against your face and sighing with delight. When you walk around you have your thumb in your mouth, a satisfied grin on your face, and the bumper trailing feet behind you. Our floors have never been cleaner.

You give big open-mouthed kisses now, and you grin and say "mmmmmmmm" when you do it. Today you were sitting in my lap while we were having our afternoon popcorn snack ("pap" "pap") and you leaned your head back and tilted your face up to kiss me. My heart actually twisted in my chest.

You've gotten darn adept with a spoon, and you are determined to go it alone. If I try to help, you jerk the spoon away, flinging the food to the floor. Your most favorite food in the universe is grapes. Yesterday Daddy was reporting on your morning when he was handing you off to me, and he said "Eskimos have 20 words for snow, and Nate has 20 words for grapes. It's all about the grapes."

Baby, you can throw. You like to throw your shoes, your toys, balls, whatever. You really pull your arm back and throw hard and straight! Today you picked up something hard and pointy and pulled back to throw it towards me. I said "We don't throw that!" and took it away. You glared at me, picked up your Radio Flyer wagon, and aimed directly at me. Needless to say, you were very mad when I took that away, too. You have gotten quite the sense of entitlement, and get absolutely furious when I take things away from you. Yesterday you got so mad when I took something away that you were actually slapping your own head and weeping with rage. Impressive.

You spend every Wednesday with Grandma now while Mama works. You two absolutely adore each other: Grandma thinks that you walk on water, and you cry when she returns you to me at the end of the day. She loves to take you to her office to show you off, and to the playground. She said that last time you were at the park, you spent 20 minutes poking at the leaves with a stick. She also reported that you liked to poke the stick through the holes in the benches, over and over.

The easiest way to keep you quiet when we're at a restaurant is to let you poke a straw into a glass of ice over and over. At home, you love to try to plug electrical plugs into the sockets, or insert a key into a keyhole. You see a pattern? I am so very grateful that you have gotten your father's focus and intensity; when there's something you are interested in, you can really stick with it until you've mastered it.

When prompted, you can identify your feet ("fffff"), nose ("no"), and ears. You say "ffffvvvvvv" when asked what a dog says, and "fffffvvvvvv" when you want food. You know that the Mamas on the Bus say "shhhhhhhhhhh". You say "bah bah" and wave bye-bye with your whole arm; you're like a southern belle waving in a parade.

You have developed such a wonderful relationship with Daddy. Every morning Daddy gets up with you and you two spend time together alone. He makes you eggs, and you play together in the basement. When he gets home at night, you smile your most happy smile. Tonight after he put you to bed he came in and said to me "He's so beautiful it's almost heartbreaking."

You are so beautiful, and so happy, and loving, and outgoing, and adventurous, and perfect that we can hardly stand it. Every day with you is good and fun, even when it's not.

I love you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Care and feeding

My Mom always told me that she had to handle me and my sister very differently. If Deborah had a doctor's appointment, it was fine for my Mom to tell her the day before or even the day of. But me? Evidentally I had to be told well in advance, and reminded as it got closer and closer. It wasn't that I minded going to the doctor (or whatever appointment it was); I minded my schedule being suddenly disrupted. It made me feel very out of control, and I tended to dig my heels in a wee bit.

Nate is very, very into challenging me. Loves it. His eyes get bright and shiney when I say "no" to something. He hears it, looks at me with barely undisguised glee, and very deliberately does the thing again. And again, if he can get away with it. Most frequently, this involves throwing food off of his tray, throwing blocks at my head, or touching the electrical sockets (despite the baby-proof coverings).

Sometimes I'll plant my body in front of the thing (stairs, or electrical sockets) and just wait - he comes full-tilt at my body and tries to move it. If I'm standing a few feet in front of the desired thing, he tries to dodge around me. It's good training for his basketball career, and he has the tenacity of a dog after a bone.

Yesterday I figured out that if I say "no" sharply, but then look away from him (so we're not doing the "challenge stare-down") he doesn't do the thing! And instead of telling him "don't throw that", a command that he seems to adore and interpret as "please throw that harder", I'm telling him to please put the block on the ground. In a tone that suggests it's the MOST FUN THING TO DO EVER!!

Both are working pretty well. I feel like I successfully taught my dog his first trick. I feel power! I have manipulated a 14 month-old!

Go me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wha' happenin'?

Today Nate gave me a kiss without being prompted. His version of kissing is just pressing his open mouth against yours, but it was touching anyway.

So it turns out that he's just going through a phase. Healthy as a bloody horse. I've never rooted so hard for an ear infection in my life. Ear infection = fixable. "Going through a phase" = really, really hard. On me, anyway.

The "milk" sign has morphed into a "gimme" sign and it is being applied without restraint. He wants the shaving cream, my phone charger, my checkbook, the refrigerator, and really anything else he lays his greedy little eyes on. When I say "no", he throws himself forward onto my thighs, arms clutching up at my shirt, and weeps. When I don't pick him up immediately, he slides to the floor with tears streaming down his face. When I laugh (as I'm prone to do), it doesn't help matters. It's better than screaming, though, since it appears that he's going to keep growing up no matter what I do.

Stewart and I are in agreement on a new perspective on life. When we used to watch Nanny 911 or Supernanny, we would shake our heads with incredulity. How could these parents not see the mistakes they were making? How could they be so dumb?

Now we totally understand. We totally get it. How your kid screams when you take something away, and it's just better if they're not screaming. How the tears run down their cheeks and you think "Why can't they have the pen? How likely is it really that they're going to hurt themselves?" And you give the pen back! And they smile and go on with their lives and then they're 5 and they're calling you horrible names and refusing to eat anything except saltines and ketchup.

We're still fighting the good fight, but the thing that's really confusing is that when you're right there, in the moment, you can't really see what's happening. It's just another day and you're trying to get through some errands and keep everyone mostly happy at the same time. So you get them a treat at McDonald's to keep them happy today so you can just finish up the holiday shopping, and it's only when you step back that you can see that you're bribing them with food. Which you promised never to do. It's not a slippery slope, it's an invisible one. And you're halfway down before you even notice.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Fourteen

Dear Nate,

The trick to these newsletters is to start them on a day when I'm madly in love with you. Starting them at times like these is like going shopping when you're hungry - dangerous.

Right now you are either cutting your fourth molar or you are sick or a bit of both. It manifests with much whining and scrabbling to be held. You like to point at something (anything), and when I don't give it to you, you melt down. Often literally melting to the floor, arising to claw at my legs to be picked back up again. This is one of your favorite "I'm not happy" games - you push at my chest to be put down, but if I put you down you up the whining and cry to be picked up again. I don't know what you want, and I don't think you do, either.

Sometimes I'll just truck you off to your crib and lay you in there for a bit. You don't fall asleep, but the "alone" time with your Woobie and your crib bumper pillows seems to help your mood greatly. As I type these words, you are in your crib making funny noises to yourself. I don't leave you there long, maybe just a few hours. Long enough for me to have a few drinks, maybe a nap or two, and some Quaaludes on a really bad day. Okay, it's long enough for me to respond to 2 e-mails and blow my nose, but that's good too.

You had your first real Halloween! I had fantasies of making your costume, but Old Navy stepped in with a very cute chicken costume. I bought it in honor of your Peepa and his Poultry-Americans. We went around the block with a few of your neighborhood friends. I think you lasted about 35 minutes and that was it. Next year I think you'll understand the "candy" part of things better and we'll probably have to drag you home.

You have had a ton of family-time this past month and have partied like a rock star. At your Peepa's 75th birthday, you actually went to bed at 11:15. We also went to Chestertown for cousin Dana's wedding party where your Daddy captured two wonderful photos of you with your closest-in-age cousins:

What's amazing to watch is you playing with other kids. You're starting to have this fun life outside of us and I'm so excited for you! You're so game for trying anything and so happy-go-lucky. I'm watching it all with such joy and with such wariness; the day will come when someone will try to squash that eagerness out of you, and then I will have to beat them down.

You and Daddy like to go to the park together a lot. You love watching the big kids play basketball, and you love following the little girls around.

You are still my joy of joys. I love you dearly.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My son is back again

As I type this, Nate is gleefully running up and down our narrow upstairs hallway bringing me Legos (they're not really Legos, but I don't know what the heck they are. They look like atoms that nest together). One by one by one - running up, running back. Lots of "bah! bah! bah!" and "pah!" as he goes. And now he's started throwing them, one by one, over the top of the banister and watching them fall down the stairs. He is such an incredible joy to have in my life. My heart is breaking open.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Where I've been

3 molars through at one time and 1 suspected on the way. There has been much clinging and whining and Motrin and crying. And Nate's been acting up, too (yuck, yuck, yuck).

I'm also declaring an official first word: Milk. He says "muh muh" while he signs milk. It's predictable and unprompted and that makes it an official communication.

Now I'm off to the store to buy more Infant Motrin. Thank goodness for the stuff!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Communication central!

There is tons of communication going on around here. It's amazing!

He signs "milk" which is amazing since I only remember to do it about 1/2 the time, and then didn't do it at all for a week before he started signing it (smarty pants)! He points at things he wants and does a little "I want it now get it now" sound. Stewart was feeding him pieces of chicken and evidentally took too much time between pieces so Nate made this little "come on!" gesture.

I'm working hard on his speech to try to avoid the frustration that goes along when kids can't tell you what they want. He doesn't seem inclined to repeat my words, though he does do it sometimes - car ("cahhhh"), Mama ("maaaaaa"), and other Boston-accented words. He's usually just content to babble, though, so mostly it's just me talking to myself.

As usual.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Product un-placement Tuesday

Along with products I love and use, I'm also going to feature products that are hysterically useless (in my opinion. It's my blog, so I can say whatever I want. If you created it / love it / whatever, I hope your feelings aren't hurt. If they are, you have far too much time to worry about these things).

Here's one for today:

The Babykeeper (tm). Hang your baby by straps in dirty, yucky bathrooms. Because they might touch something. And die. And don't even get me started on dirty, yucky shopping carts! They could kill you just by looking at you.

People, there are enough real problems to worry about in this world. Eating disorders, self-esteem issues, date rape, short-shorts, whether or not Jeffrey really did outsource his construction...

(answer, probably yes. Do I care? No. Am I rooting for Laura to lose as a result? Yep.)

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Thirteen

Dear Nate,

One year old is kicking my butt. You never stop with the joyous happy embracing of life. Your mind is spinning, and it looks like one of my biggest fears is coming true: you're awfully smart. We have a neighbor who, weeks ago, played a game with you where she blew on a leaf and sent it flying and sent you cackling. Yesterday she picked up a leaf and you pursued your lips and blew. Damnit, I was really hoping we wouldn't have to worry about honoring your intelligence and challenging you and all that craziness. Blech.

We spent a week at the beach this month - a few days alone, one with Grandma, and three with Daddy. You love the pool, tolerate the sand, and are really scared of the ocean. I would drive you the three hours each way just for the pleasure of watching you when you are put down on the sand - if you could lift both legs back up, you would. Since you can't, one leg suffices - you look like a little "karate kid." It only takes a few minutes to warm up to it, though, and then you're off and running as usual. It's hard not to push you when it comes to the ocean, but if you're scared we're letting you be. It's not like it happens every day!

Daddy and I are now born-again converts to the McDonald's Playland. We stopped both ways on the trips to the beach, and you were right in the middle of things, as usual. Met your first girlfriend! You are also big enough to ride in the police-car front of the shopping cart. So much of the world is open to you now and I could cry with happiness watching you experience it all. Sometimes I actually do.

Today we built a tower of blocks. You really got it - you put one on top of the other and really pushed it down. You looked darn pleased with himself when it stayed, too!

You love wearing necklaces, and will try to put almost any chain/cord around your neck. You then strut proudly around, chest all puffed out. I hate to break it to you that it's hard to be manly proud while wearing necklaces, but maybe your generation will be different!

You are joyfully, gleefully testing me all the time. When I say "no!" (don't touch the socket / hot stove / poision / tiger) you get quite the gleam in your eyes. You walk immediately back to the tiger, look directly at me, and you touch it again. When I get up to remove you (calmly and in a not-angry-and-also-not-giving-you-attention-to-reward-you way) from the tiger's jaws, you get so excited and happy. Then you go right back to it. You're not audibly giggling the whole time, but he might as well be. I have to work very hard, sometimes turning my face to the ceiling, to make sure that you don't see me smiling.

While you still hate, hate holding hands (if you can't manage to rip your hand out of mine, you go absolutely limp and drop yourself to the ground), you have also gottten quite snuggly. Lots of arms around the neck and laying of heads on shoulders. We're like a romance novel: sometimes you see me across the room and run into my arms. Sometimes you veer off at the last minute to play with a toy that catches your eye.

Yesterday we were out running errands and you started to melt down. I decided that, instead of rushing home, I'd take you out for a bite to eat. We had a late lunch out, just the two of us. We sang along to the oldies, blew through straws at each other (you can blow properly now, instead of just spitting), and had a thoroughly good time.

You are your Daddy's son in one thoroughly entertaining way: you charm the pants off of everyone you meet. Big smiles at the women in the grocery store, tilting your head to flirt. Walking up to strangers on the sidewalk, grinning and yelling "Da da!" You have charisma to spare. Everyone who knows your Daddy will see him in you.

You're still a fabulous eater. Tofu is hit or miss, but almost everything else is still good. It's fun to watch you reject stuff, though - the second it enters your mouth you immediately thrust out your tongue and let the food fall out. No hesitation. No class, either. Someone needs to give you some home training!

We had the first of our crazy hectic moments this month. I was rushing to get out of the house on-time to get you to Grandma's house so I could see a new client (plus it was 9:29 and the car has to be moved by 9:30 to avoid a street-cleaning ticket). I had you all dressed, diaper-bag packed, shoes on, and I noticed a splash of yellow on your hand. I stopped to study you, and saw you chewing on something. What was it? The vial of yellow food coloring. The entire vial of it in your mouth, squirting all over your previously clean face. It's you at your best - blissfully doing what you want to be doing and damn the parking inspectors.

My favorite story for the month may be my favorite story for your whole life. I came in to get you in the morning when you were expecting a bottle, but I came bearing the dreaded sippy cup. You were in no mood for this betrayal. I was holding you on my left hip, and offering the cup with my right hand. You did your sweeping "push it away" move so I moved the cup back over to my right side. You looked at it for a moment and then leaned all the way across my chest to further shove it away from you. You pushed it over and over, further and further. It was truly fabulous.

I really, really enjoyed your babyhood, but now I'm really looking forward to the interaction when we can talk to each other and enjoy things together. I am getting such a kick out of your personality, even when it drives me a little batty - your willfulness, defiance, curiosity, persistence, and your charm. You are you, without hesitation or apology.

I love you.


Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Time for a brief intermission

I rarely talk politics, with good reason: I understand only a little and have no gift for "seeing the whole picture." I know my gifts and this isn't one of them.

But I will say this, without a shred of doubt: it is time to do something about guns. I don't care about hunting rifles or old shotguns, so you can save your stories about your great-grandfather's civil war relic. Let's either ban them outright, or let everyone have them. Last night I wanted to go for a walk, but since it was after dark it's just not smart in my neighborhood. Even if we'd left the baby alone and gone together, having the two of us together wouldn't guarantee safety. You know what would? A gun. It doesn't seem right that suicidal pedophiles can have them, and the right/ability to plan the rape and murder of 10 children that goes along with them, but I can't have one.

So either they all go, or I want one. I'm a damn fine shot, and would have given my left arm (truly) to have the chance at a shot at this guy. I'm tired of the rights of the criminals taking precedence over the rights of good people, especially children. You can throw any constitutional argument at me that you want. You will never convince me that it's more important for a child-molester to have his rights than it is for my neighbor's child to be safe on her own street. Never. One person's rights clearly have to trump another's, and it's time to put the good-guys ahead of the bad-guys.

I saw an old ER the other day where they decide a kid's been abused and take him away from his Dad. Dad then goes on a shooting spree, targeting doctors at home and shooting any member of the public who gets in his way. Finally a civilian in a park sees this guy shooting people, pulls out his concealed weapon and shoots the shooter 5 times. This guy ends up in the hospital with a minor scrape, getting patched up. Carter (Noah Wiley) figures out who he is and disdainfully berates him. Is this what we should all be doing? Just shooting people?

I probably saw this episode first 8 years ago. I probably agreed with Carter then. This time I watched it with my jaw hanging open. This guy just STOPPED A MURDERER. He stopped further innocent people from being killed. He was a hero, and nobody treated him like he was. I just don't get it. When did we become so desperate to avoid the truth: There are some bad people in the world. Pretending it isn't so won't save our kids; it just exposes them to more danger. There are bad people in the world, and if it's them or us, I choose us without a shadow of a doubt.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Oh right! My blog!

It's hard to get back into blogging when you've taken too long of a break - there's so much to say, and where to start?

I'm going to take the easy way out by keeping it short. I'm starting a new feature called "Product Placement Day." Whenever I think of it, I'm going to feature a product that I use and love and want to share with everyone. Trust me, I'm getting no kickbacks from any of these companies!

Today I'm featuring the simple wipe-off bibs from Mimi the Sardine. I can't figure out why I used cloth bibs for so long. When Nate besmirches these, I just wipe them off with the rest of the dishes. Hang 'em to dry, and they're good to go for the next meal. No more washing 15 bibs with each load of laundry!

A good update on the boy soon, I promise. Lots of pictures, too.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Twelve

Happy First Birthday, Nate!

You are one year old. You'll never remember it, but this is a very important birthday. You're a little boy now and not a baby anymore. 99% of me is thrilled about that.

You are so tall now that the refrigerator door clonks you in the head as it opens or closes, so I do a lot of moving you around when we're in the kitchen. You are getting picky about what you eat - you want the fruit, and you want it now. Those eggs can go suck, well, eggs. Daddy and I actually have to ration the fruit we put on your tray otherwise you'll eat nothing else.

You are in desperate need of a haircut. I may or may not get to it before your birthday party tonight; I can't imagine how you'll let me do it without whipping around to look at or grab the scissors the whole time. I doubt that even TV and snacks will be enough of a drug to keep you from being all up in the haircutting business. Grandma says you're "curious and inquisitive"; I say you're downright nosey. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.

As usual, you have perverted the laws of parenting. Which parent sings to you? Mama. Which parent does 80% of deadly diaper changes? Mama. Which parent entertains you with funny skits while she changes said diapers? Mama. Who do you prefer these days? Daddy. When he hands you off to me before he leaves for work, you sometimes start crying. All it does is makes me smile that you and your Daddy love each other so much. My heart's tougher than I thought it was (though let's see how it recovers when you tell me that you're quitting school to go raise goats on a mountain in Jamaica and why don't I get it).

You are still walking everywhere, and getting into everything. You rarely stop moving, although you're not frantic about it. You LOVE music - anytime it comes on, you get a huge grin and start bending your knees in an adorably spastic, random way. It's dancing, though I fear for your future as a lady's man (maybe Daddy can help you with this. He is a dreadful dancer, though I hear rumors that he wasn't too shabby with the ladies.)

You love playing with toys that aren't toys. Your favorites are baby Tylenol bottles, drapery cords (go ahead and call DCF!), rulers, plastic drinking cups, rolls of wrapping paper, power cords & cables, and especially brooms.

In the last month, you have gotten a little affectionate. Sometimes you'll walk across the room into my arms, lay your head on my shoulder, and sling your left arm around my neck. Very sweet. And in this sweet way, you also shared your most recent rotavirus with me: we both had a nice day of puking followed by much pooing. Your poo liked to announce itself most while on a very expensive rug at your Peepa's house. Daddy and I had some quality time with the Windex bottle and a roll of paper towels. You were blissfully unaware.

You are very chatty these days. You have given up Mama for Vaaaaaa, and Nang. You still enjoy the occasional Daaaaa and Ava-va-va. The raspberry is still in favor and you do it with relish. You have learned to yell for attention - when you're in your rear-facing carseat, you'll make a loud deliberate "ah!" and when I look in the mirrors you're grinning at me.

The big party is planned for the evening of your birthday. Peepa, Grandma, Grandpa, Nannie, and Aunt Deborah are coming, along with a few neighbors. All of your other Aunts and Uncles have sent cards or e-mails to say "Happy Birthday, Nate!" No one can believe that you're already one, though I can. It's been the best year of my life, but it has been a long one. I'm not sure why, since I've enjoyed every second. Truly.

Thank you for you. We are so glad that you were born.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Our moment of zen

About a week ago, Nate and I were playing in the basement. He has two bouncy balls - a football and a soccer ball and lately he loves to play catch with them. He went to pick up the soccer ball to throw it to me and out of the corner of his eye he noticed the football. He carried the soccer ball over and tried to pick up the football - no dice. Each time he picked up one, the other squirted out of his arms.

I had a moment, watching him, where I was talking to him in my mind: "You only need one, Nate. Please don't want both - you can't have both!" I can do a lot for Nate, but I can't do too much to change who he is deep down. And deep down, he's either going to be okay with only having one toy, or he's going to want to have them all. And however he is, it will make so much of a difference in his life. Please be happy with what you have, Nate. You have so much. This is my deep wish, for him and for us. We have so much.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Teaching the boy to play catch may have been an error in judgment. He throws everything now, gleefully. I'm taking a cue from the only "parenting" book I've read and saying "we don't throw hard/pointy/heavy things. But we can throw the soft ball!" and handing him the ball. Aren't I a superstar?

The book I've been reading, courtesy of sister Deborah, is How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk. I really love the techniques and ideas. I can see myself using a lot of them, especially the problem-solving bits.

As I was reading through their examples of how to talk to your kids, I could hear Fredi in every quote. They talk about praising with detail, so the kid will know you really saw/heard what they wanted you to. So when they give you a scarf, you don't say "I love it!" you say "I love these wide red stripes, and the fringe on the end. It's really going to keep me warm on that walk to the bus." That's Fredi, through and through. She was truly interested in everything her grandkids had to say. She listened attentively and heard just what they were trying to say. She did that with all of us. I miss her so much.

The boy is doing great. Careening through life with a big grin, as usual.

How are you?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two milestones in one!

Two milestones in two days.

Yesterday (August 18th), I went in to get him from a nap. When he wakes up in a good mood, we play around for a while - he in his crib, and me on the floor. Peekaboo is a favorite, and singing. We have also started playing catch - I lay on the floor and toss a stuffed animal into the crib, he retrieves it and flings it down to me. We were playing with a duck yesterday, and before I'd toss it to him I'd say "duck, duck!" He looked right at it and said "Duh." Now I know it sounds like a regular baby noise, but his D sounds are always "Da da da da." This was a distinct "duh" and I know for sure it was him saying "duck." So he hath spoken, and the good word is "duck."

And today he got his first fat lip.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On parenting

So my friends are starting to get knocked-up, and I've been thinking a lot about what I would love to pass along to them. The first thought is how incredibly excited I am for them; I know what they're going to be experiencing, and it's better than anything.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the more important things I've been taught / experienced / figured out.

* Generic diapers are wonderful. Try them. Generic wipes, and generic forumla, are also great.

* Breastfeeding is really, really, really hard and often really, really, REALLY painful. Line up a Lactation Consultant before you go into labor. Line up a few. Everyone thought that Nate was latching beautifully, but it was so horribly painful that I knew something was wrong. The 4th L.C. that I saw adjusted his latch just a smidge, and the pain was gone that very day. Surround yourself with supportive people. If someone had said "Oh, just give him a bottle" I might have killed them, and then I would have had to deal with too many things at the same time.

* Do not stress about how often to change baby's diaper. If it's stinky, change it quickly. If they have diaper rash, change it often. Otherwise, change it when you get around to it. Trust me, they don't care either way. And at night, don't bother at all (unless you want to wake them up even more and hear more screaming). Again, change if they're stinky or rashy; otherwise, lube 'em up good with A&D or Desitin, and don't worry about it too much.

* Every baby is born with days and nights mixed up until they're about 6 weeks. To help the reversal along, try these ideas: During the day, lights are on, shades are open (even while they're napping), voices are at normal range. Around evening time, lights & voices dim. During nighttime feedings, keep the lights as low as possible, no talking or singing or playing, and no eye contact.

* If you want to co-sleep, there are other blogs with great advice. If you don't want to co-sleep, try to set ideas in place at the beginning to help get the baby into their own crib/room. When they fall asleep during the day, put them down in their crib (on their backs, of course, with no blanket) to sleep. If they wake up, just pick them back up until they fall asleep again. Then put them back down. It's not a hard and fast rule: sometimes you both will just need them to sleep, so let them sleep a while in your arms or in the swing. But try to put them down to sleep more often than not. A white-noise machine will help them feel more cozy, since it's such an odd feeling for them to be flat on their backs on an un-moving surface. Swadding is a great help in this; they'll feel so cozy and tucked-in.

* In all things, try to be mindful of the future. The same way that you don't want to let a Rottweiler puppy sit on your lap all the time (because soon it'll be 150 pounds and too damn heavy), try to think about the future implications of your actions. If baby sleeps in your arms all the time (which is tempting, because it feels so good and you need the sleep), baby will sleep best in your arms. If you tiptoe around and keep your voices low while baby sleeps, baby will not learn to sleep through noise. What you're doing now affects the future.

* On that note, read The Happiest Baby on the Block. Loved everything about that book. If you're tired and busy, rent the DVD.

* Also read The No Cry Sleep Solution. I don't agree with everything she says, but there is a lot of great advice there. I used a lot of it in sleep-training Nate.

* Don't sweat things too much. Yes, you need to be mindful. But you can fail to be perfect and everything will still be okay. Nate sometimes slept in his swing, but he turned into a wonderful sleeper anyway. You're all going to be fine.

* I promise you this: if you let your dogs bark and leave the radio on, your baby will learn to sleep through it. She'll learn almost immediately. Don't get stuck in the trap of tiptoe & whisper; it doesn't do any of you any good.

* Don't use fabric bibs; they need to be run through the laundry. Get some good wipe-off bibs like these ones which are also nice and wide. You just use the sponge on them and they're ready to go again. Fantastico.

* I washed all of Nate's clothing with ours, with regular-old detergent (dye-free, fragrance-free). No Dreft, and no separating his clothing. He's still alive.

* Your wife/husband/partner/significant other is going to do things differently. It's going to be really, really hard, but let them be. They'll forge their own way, and sometimes it'll even be better than your way. Give them a chance.

* If you're breastfeeding, you're going to spend the first two weeks petrified that they're not eating enough, since there's no way to tell how much they're eating. Also, they always fall asleep while they're eating so how can you tell? Here's how: if they're peeing a bunch and pooping some, they're fine. The hospital will tell you how many wet and how many dirty diapers you want to see in a day. They'll probably even give you a check-list so you can keep track. Use it to set your mind at ease.

* Also if you're breastfeeding: sometimes they're going to go 6 hours between feedings and get you all excited, and then they're going to spend 2 weeks eating every hour. They have very frequent growth-spurts, so just go with the flow. Frequent nursing is a way of increasing your supply; do not supplement with formula or your supply will never get to where it needs to be. Let your baby guide you in this area. Do as she says and nobody will get hurt. Much, anyway.

* If you have any worries at all, call the pediatrician. It doesn't matter if it's 2 a.m. Just call them. A good pediatrician is used to it, and won't resent it at all. If they're rude to you, find a new pediatrician.

* Have a stockpile of medications on-hand before baby comes home. You don't want to be running to the store at 3 am. Google will surely show you 100 articles on "things to have ready when baby comes home" so I won't waste time with my list. Except to say that it was especially nice to have the tummy-treatment stuff (gripe water and Mylecon).

* On that note, have a stockpile of EVERYTHING on-hand before baby comes home. Blankets, burp cloths, onesies / sleepers / baggies, swaddling blankets, etc. You just want to be able to focus on your baby; you don't want to be running around trying to find everything. Get it all washed and organized ahead of time. If you're Jewish, just wash and organize everything in big rubbermaid containers and store them at someone else's house. They can bring them over as soon as baby arrives safely.

* Set up a changing station wherever you're likely to spend the most time.

* Pretzel rods are an amazing finger-food around 8 or 9 months. It takes them forever to eat their way through one!

* I intentionally got Nate hooked on a "woobie." I held it between us when he nursed, and kept in the crib with him (once he could safely turn himself over, of course). I ONLY give it to him during sleepy times, so he's completely Pavloved to it. Now if I hand it to him in the middle of the day, he sticks his thumb in his mouth and puts his head on my shoulder. Sucker.

* I've never heard of a baby who actually got nipple confusion. If you think they need a pacifier, try one! In that vein, if you're breastfeeding but want them to be able to take a bottle with EBM (expressed breast milk) try giving them a bottle very early. I waited until the prescribed 5th week, and he was already very wedded to the boobies. Also make sure to heat up the EBM pretty warm - remember that it comes out of your body at 98.6 degrees. If you don't heat it up quite a bit, it'll be too cold for baby's tates.

* If you're storing breastmilk in the freezer, lay the bags flat to freeze. They'll defrost much more quickly (because of the extensive surface area) than if you stand them upright and it freezes in a big clump at the bottom of the bag.

* Trust yourself and your gut. Have some plans in mind, but remember to go with the flow. I remember one night Nate was about a week and a half old, and he was up in the middle of the night. I'll never forget being all alone with him while Stewart and my Mom slept. I watched a little TV (on mute to help with the whole "THIS IS NIGHTTIME" thing), cuddled him, and just relaxed with him. Your baby will be a baby for such a short time. Enjoy every second that you can.

Readers, chime in!

Friday, August 11, 2006


I think we're in really big trouble. He may be smarter than both of us, and he's certainly stronger. As soon as he figures that out, game OVER.

Nate has a little hairbrush that came in a kit we were given. Since he was mostly bald until a few months ago, it hasn't gotten much use. Except that it has a nice rubbery handle, and Nate loves to chew on it. Who doesn't like to chew on rubbery bristly things, right?

Now his hair is getting a little long, so I have used the brush 2 or 3 times after his bath. He smiles this really sweet smile while I brush his hair, and looks shyly upwards (this may portend an issue of a whole different sort, but we'll deal with that later). Anyway, tonight I gave it to him to chew on after I brushed his hair, and we went downstairs to make up a bottle. I put him down to toddle around, and as I'm shaking the bottle I glance over my shoulder to make sure he hasn't fallen down the stairs or stabbed himself with something, and I see him staggering around brushing his own hair.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Show off.

Remember that infurating expression about nothing being constant except change? I hate when those things are true. Just when I get into a good routine and start to count on it and make plans around it, Nate's gotta go and be an overachiever. It looks like he's already at the "one nap a day" point, and it's making me crazy. After about 3 hours of having him awake, I've run out of material: we've read books, played "gonna getcha", toddled around the basement, done our tickling, gone for a stroll, and what the heck else is there to do? I guess now that he's walking we can venture off to the playground, but it's so hot that it's hard to motivate to do that. Do you think he could walk there himself? It's only 3 blocks away. You can almost see it from the stoop! I mean, if I'm gonna have an over-achieving kid, I might as well get something out of it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Put your back into it!

Nate's newest love is pushing things around - the heavier the better. As I sat at the computer this morning, out of the corner of my eye I see the tiniest little moving crew bent over, pushing two boxes of clothes across the room. Eyes fixed across the room, back straight, arms out in front, pushing hard. It was a good day's work.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Eleven

Dear Nate,

You're 11 months old, and life is so very good. When I think about this past month, it's almost like you're a different child than you were last month.

I can't think of anything that I would change about you, Nate. You are a dream child. You're active and busy, and such a go-getter. Nothing scares you, except when I start talking after we've been quiet for a while. Then you scutter across the floor to me, pull up on my legs, and start crying. You're a funny baby.

Last month, I was so excited to catch a photo of you standing up. Now, you're walking. Granted, you're drunker than a drunken sailor, but you're definitely walking. Today I counted 14 stiff-legged, staggering steps across the room. You took your first step on July 14th, and you have never looked back. You crawl when you need to, but you walk as much as you can. If not for the diaper, your rear would be one big black-and-blue mark. But you walk, fall, and get right back up to walk more. And fall more. And more getting back up. And the falling.

You are still climbing stairs, but you've added in a Nate note: you slap each step a few times as you climb along. Just another happy-go-lucky move from my happy-go-lucky little kid.

We walk to Westminster Park at least twice a week so you can play in the fountains. You love it - flapping your arms, splashing in the puddles on the ground, and walking straight into the sprays, spluttering and grinning the whole time.

You are big into the interactive games now. Your favorite game is catch, and you started playing this game with your Grandpa. He rolls you the ball, you grab it (sometimes even bending down to grab it as it rolls at you, so needless to say we're already contacting scouts about your eye-hand coordination), and then you get it back to him. I say "get it back" because there's no set method - sometimes you fling it, sometimes you drop it and it accidentally gets back towards Grandpa, and sometimes you take the direct route and walk it back to him. You then hoot for him to roll it back to you, which is hard because you're standing 6 inches away. So he'll hand it to you, and you take great pleasure in delivering it back to him again. It's so precious I can hardly put down the video camera to play with you.

You had our first summer visit to Noconomo as a family. You swam in the lake, ate your body weight in food, and charmed the pants off of your family. It was such a dream to watch you playing with your cousins, and they were so sweet with you. Connor took special care with you, fetching balloons for you to pop and toys for you to chew on.

It took a few days for you to warm up to the cool lake water, but we got you there. I know that in a few years we're going to be fighting to get you out of the water.

I wish I was a funny, snarky, realistic blogger whose love seeps quietly through the writing. But my heart is an open gush since you've been born, and I can't pretend it isn't. You're my heart, Nate.


Friday, August 4, 2006

The post I NEVER thought I'd write

My baby sleeps all the time these days. Seriously.

Today he woke up at 6:30. Went down for his first nap at 8:30 and woke up at almost noon. This is about 2 hours longer than his normal nap.

Went out for a long walk, and then played in the fountains at the park. Went down for a nap at 3:30, and now it's almost 6. Still asleep.

My prediction is that he'll still go down for the night close to his normal time.

Is this normal? Growth spurt? Dealing with the heat? Is my baby broken?

What's next?!

The boy has leg hair. What's next? A wipsy moustache? Playboy under the bed?

Also, he's walking. It's the cutest thing in the world.

Longer update soon, I promise.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

PLEASE lighten up!

Okay, I just have to get this off my chest. Why do people get so bloody defensive when someone makes a suggestion about their parenting? I was reading a blog tonight that irritates me with it's constant cursing, but for some reason I can't stop reading it. Today she blogs about how a woman dared to tell her not to lay her baby somewhere because there were ants (and LO! A big ANT came crawling onto the blanket! But she was still irritated. Because why? Dunno.) And then the other woman dared to question her use of, wait for it, SUNSCREEN! Major parenting issues! The blogger then says this:

we've had almost no encounters like this. Not even from family. It almost ruined the day.

Seriously? Really? My goodness.

People make suggestions to me all the time. Drunk, homeless women question why Nate isn't wearing shoes. Old ladies with big hats returning from church suggest that I pull the stroller backwards so that the sun won't be in his eyes. My own dearest Mother queries, as I hand her a bottle to give him: "You have no sippy cups, baby?"

I. Couldn't. Care. Less. Bring it on! Sometimes these folks have good suggestions. If I don't agree, there's a really complicated response that I have: I DON'T DO WHATEVER IT IS THEY'RE SUGGESTING. End of story!

End of rant, too.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Growing pains

My little baby is changing into a little boy so quickly. It's truly amazing to watch. In the last week, he:

* Stands up without pulling himself up on anything
* Squats down, picks up toys, and pushes right back up to standing (shaking the toy with excitement the whole time, of course!)
* Waves "hi" and "bye" with the sweetest smile on his face. He often waves with both hands, and sometimes one will be facing out and the other facing himself. My favorite is the "stoner wave" where he stares with fascination at his own hand as it waves away.
* He loves pulling off his own hat, and anyone else's. Today he tried to put it back on me so that he could pull it off again. Interactive play!
* Pulls doors open to get where he wants to be. He loves closing them, too, but I don't think he understands any great value to it - he just likes the pushing and the slamming noise.
* Climbs the entire length of stairs, after ignoring them for months.
* He took a first step - 3 days ago. He was standing, and wanted to get to me, so he took one step before falling onto me. But like Stewart says, walking is just controlled falling. I'm counting it as his first step.

I just want to soak up every minute - he's on his way. As he should be.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Ten

Dear Nate,

10 months. I can hardly believe it. This past month has flown by.

You and I had our first weekend apart last month. I went to the beach with Amy, and you stayed home with Daddy. It sounds like you two had a wonderful time - lots of playing, snacking, and chewing on things. I thought I would miss you two very much, but frankly I was too unconcious to think about you at all. You are my favorite boy, but the sleeping was almost as good.

We had a wonderful trip to Bermuda with Daddy's family. You got to spend time with your Peepa, Aunts, Uncles, and 12 cousins. I don't think your feet hit the floor for 3 days. Your Aunts told me that you're the best baby they know - better even than their own kids. Even your cousins kept asking "Does he ever cry?!?!" You almost never do.

In the last few days, you've started mimicing us. When I hold my hands up in the air, you do the same thing. Cousin Staige was making raspberries at you, and you made one right back at her. And yesterday you started waving when I waved at you. You're a very smart baby, boy. We're working on a secret trick to impress Grandpa, but I won't share the details of it until you've got it down. You are happiest when you're on the ground exploring - you can easily spend 45 minutes in the basement, crawling to different toys, shaking them, chewing on them, climbing over them. Sometimes I get a Mommy-pang and think I should be interacting with you, so I grab you and start singing to you. You spend the whole time trying to get down so you can play and explore.

You are independent and brave, but you also like to know that Daddy or I am around. While you're playing off by yourself, you often turn to check that we're still around and flash us one of your big smiles. When you do something new, like pulling up or standing, you grin at us proudly. It's a wonderful middle ground - you like to be with us, and you also are fine being on your own.

You like meat, especially when it's covered with barbeque sauce.

You finally like swimming! We went to Peepa's farm for the Fourth of July, and I took you swimming when we were there all alone before the bikers arrived. You grinned and splashed and laughed. Phew. I was beginning to think you were never going to like the water!

You have gotten fairly adament about things, and make your wishes known. When you're done with your bottle, you forcefully push it away. When I put your hat on to go for a walk, you grab it instantly and pull it off of your head (the funniest part about this is that your little arm sometimes doesn't reach high enough, so you're trying to pull it off sideways and your head is all tilted to the side. It's very funny.)

We were playing in the basement yesterday and you pulled yourself up on the side of the laundry basket. While you were standing there, your pacifier fell into the basket. You didn't cry, or scream, or look to me to get it out; you spent about 20 minutes shoving and moving the laundry basket, trying to figure out how to get your pacifier back. You have such independence, determination, and strength. I really admire you.

You love:

Your pacifier (this is a new thing!)
Running your hand along the wall while I'm walking up the stairs holding you
The electric toothbrush. You really love it.
Food. Anything and everything, especially with barbeque sauce

You hate:

Hats on your head
Being on the changing table, being changed, being dressed
Being in the carseat

You have a constant open-mouthed smile on your face. You are happy and curious and excited about everything. We adore you, Natey.


Sunday, July 2, 2006

My blogroll

Since blogger is a pain in the butt about helping me create a blogroll, I thought I'd just share a few of my favorite blogs with you.

My favorite blog:

Mimi Smartypants

Another favorite:


Okay, no, this is my favorite:


Funny, funny, funny:

little. yellow. different

Lasty, my previous favorite. She finally had a baby and went on hiatus, but when she comes back, it's gonna be good:

Chez Miscarriage

And for your viewing pleasure, this is my carnivorous baby boy:

And this is my standing baby boy (with his favorite wooden spoon):


I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted! Apologizes all around. This one will be short, but I have a long one planned for later tonight or tomorrow.

Nate can now stand up for so long that he actually gets bored standing, and looks around like "what now?". So he casually lowers himself to the ground and crawls off in search of a good time.

Yesterday he pushed off of the floor to standing in front of my Mom, who joined with me in a level of celebration wholly inappropriate to the act. Thank GOODNESS I have someone else who kvell with!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nate's first shower!

We had an absolutely torrential storm here yesterday, and I got to fulfill one of the parenting promises I made: I took my son out to play in the rain. He loved it. It'll be even more fun when he can walk around and jump in the puddles with me - for now I just splashed his feet in the puddles for him. He loved that, too. We are so lucky.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Awwwww. Nate's first fad diet!

My son is doing Atkins now. We've really tried to get those extra ounces off of him, but he has such trouble with his thighs. So we're giving Atkins a try - meat and cheese at every meal, and a tiny bit of fruit. Hopefully we'll see results soon.

The boy tested great on his 9 month blood-draw (lead level: 2. Good news), but it looks like he's anemic. So we had to introduce red meat into the system. He loves it, but he loves all food. He eats so much better than we do - you should have seen me at Whole Foods asking the poor woman behind the counter: "These roast beef slices? Do they have hormones? Ummm...what about antibiotics? Are they organic?" (Answers: no, no, no. I decided 2 out of 3 was fine.) It turned out to be cooked in rosemary and garlic, and it was nice and rare. I took a few nips while doling out his doses, and it's absolutely fantastic. That boy has no ideas how lucky he is.

Annoucing: a schedule!

He loves me, he really loves me!

Nate has a schedule. Period. It's so fabulous to know what I'm going to be doing, when. Took long enough, but we got here!

For posterity:

5:30 a.m. - wake up and suck down a bottle. Back to sleep until
7:30 a.m. - wake up for real. Diaper change, breakfast, playing in the house until
9:30 a.m. - NAP! One and a half hours almost to the minute.
11:00 a.m. - Bottle! Errands around town with the stroller until
12:30 p.m. - Lunch! Then playing in the basement, having our quality time.
2:00 p.m. - NAP! One and a half hours almost to the minute.
3:30 p.m. - Bottle. Playing around the house, maybe a stroll around the neighborhood.
5:00 p.m. - Dinner!
5:30 p.m. - More playing, until
6:15 p.m. - If Daddy's not working at night, he takes over at this point. Bath time!
6:30 p.m. - Screaming commences as whoever's in charge tortures him by putting on a diaper and soft fuzzy pajamas.
6:35 p.m. - The screaming is stifled by the bottle thrust into his mouth. He drinks it, and is out like a light. Bed for the night. Ahhhh....

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Monthly Newsletter, Month Nine

Dear Nate,

This has been an incredibly long, mostly wonderful month. You have truly blossomed. Daddy says you smile at least 80% of the time, and I'm not sure he's wrong. You are delightful these days. Smiling, laughing, exploring, changing, and smiling some more. This is wonderful in a lot of ways, but when I say "No!" to breaking my glasses or biting me, I expect less grinning. Understood?

Case in point: you got sick for the first time this month. Really sick. Throwing up and pooping all over Mama and Daddy kind of sick. And even when you felt your worst, and were sad and droopy and clingy, you'd still smile at me. How could we not love you?

You are very toothy now, with 6 teeth front and center. People notice them all the time - evidentally you are precocious in the tooth department. We like to call you "Sponge Bob Square Teeth" after a popular cartoon character - Sponge Bob Square Pants. I believe that these pictures will show why:

You are officially on the move. You crawl like a champ, you pull yourself up on everything (and everyone), and you even walk a little when you're holding onto the couch. And in the last few days, you've started standing! Yesterday Daddy and I were playing with you in our new basement, and you pulled yourself up on his chest and then let go. I swear you stood for 6 full seconds. I kept looking around you to see if you'd secretly grabbed back on, or if Daddy was cheating and holding you upright. But it was all you. This standing trick is great - you are going to be a hit at our next dinner party. But walking? Please don't do that. Okay? No walking. I'm not ready for it.

You are a pig. You'll eat anything that is diced and put on your booster-seat tray. Tofu, pears, peaches, mac & cheese, sweet potato, avocado, cheese, deli slices - really, anything. Fabulous work. Keeep it up. It makes it very easy for Mama to take you anywhere, as long as she's packing food. (Notice the food clenched in both fists in this photo!)

Oh, did I mention that you're completely weaned? Last month, I tried a bottle as usual, but not before packing my ears with earplugs to keep the shreiking and wailing from permanently damaging my hearing. It was hard to tell with the earplugs in, but this particularly time I didn't think I heard any screaming. And it almost looked like you were drinking. The entire bottle. I sat there holding you, looking around wildly to see if anyone else was seeing what I was seeing. Being home alone with you didn't lessen my need to share the moment with another person. So I tried another bottle a few hours later, and you nonchalantly drank the whole thing. Then I called Daddy, Grandma, and most of your Aunts to share the unbelieveable news. It took 9 days to switch you completely over to formula, and I've been a much happier person ever since.

Thank you for that gift, son. I am taking advantage of it by leaving town for a few days next weekend. You and your Daddy will have your first time really alone together, and I couldn't care less how it goes. Scream all you want! I'll be on a beach (when I'm not blissfully sleeping). I am packing extra sheets to keep the sun out of my room, and your old sound machine to make sure that NOTHING bothers me. Daddy and everyone else I know will be under strict orders to call only in an emergency. I will probably miss you the whole time, but this will be the first time being away from you for more than a few hours. I could drop off to sleep just thinking about it.

You still sit with your legs straight out, and your arms floating around in the air. Life is so exciting!

You are making these unbelieveable connections now. When you were a newborn, we could hold a Cheerio right in front of your face and you would look right past it. At a few months, you would look at the Cheerio, and maybe even start to reach for it - you saw things that existed. A few months after that, if we dropped the Cheerio you would crane your neck to look for it - you saw the thing that existed, and when it disappeared you realized it might still exist. A few days ago, you were eating Cheerios on your tray. When you thought you had eaten the last one, you started looking around the tray to see if there were any more - you made the connection that even though you couldn't see it, it might still exist (in fact, it did exist - one lone Cheerio at the corner of the tray. You ate it in celebration). A huge leap. I'm truly impressed.

And you are just starting to mimic us - if we repeatedly slap our hands down on the table top, or on the floor, you gleefully follow suit. It's one of your strongest skills - slapping your hand down on things. Sometimes you do it while we're giving you a bottle - you actually slap at your own thighs and tummy, just to have something to slap at.

You constantly make a "ooooooh oooooooh" sound like an owl. Daddy is giving you a bath while I type this, and I can hear you cooing/hooting from down the hall. It's your excited-I-want-that-happy-sound.

As your Grama Fredi always wished for you, you are growing strong and growing well. We are so incredibly lucky. I hope you always know how lucky we are.

You made your first visit of what I hope will be many more to our lake-house in New Hampshire. Last year we went at the end of July, like always, and I was very pregnant with you. I mostly laid on the sofa and did a little floating, which was very pleasant. I cannot picture that place without your Grama Fredi manning the helm, making the whole thing work. We will all have to work so hard to keep it the safe haven that it has been for Daddy's family for so many generations. When Daddy was a little boy, he played on the docks with his cousins. As I lay there last year, I imagined you doing the same thing as you get older. I hope you treasure it as much as we do. This picture was taken while I was sitting on the porch with you. If Daddy and I can keep you looking this safe and secure for your whole life, then we will have done a very good job. We love you so much, Natey.