Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just Back Off, Okay?

Dear Little Old Ladies At The Grocery Store:

Yes, I am wonderfully, amazingly, delightfully soft, pink, sweet-smelling, and jolly. I appreciate your noticing and acknowledging my cuteness. However, when you say things like, "Look at those cheeks! I just want to eat them up!", like five separate little old ladies did at the store yesterday, it causes me to feel alarmed. I like my cheeks, too. They are downright adorable, especially when I smile. But please, don't eat them. It is statements like this that cause babies to suffer from stranger anxiety. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Max to Mama (pointing to a picture in a magazine): That's a woman, Mama?
Mama to Max: Yeah, that is a woman.
Max: More womans?
Mama: What's a woman, Max?
Max: Womans.
Mama: Is Daddy a woman?
Max: Noooo. (Laughs) Dada is a GUY.
Mama: What about Max? Is Max a woman?
Max: No no, Mama. Max is a guy. Maggie a woman? Nooo. Maggie's a baby. All naked! (We were changing Maggie's diaper at the time.)
Mama: What about Mama? Is Mama a woman?
Max: No.
Mama: Mama's not a woman?
Max: Mama is a LADY.

That's my boy.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Branching Out

Despite her obvious and often violent disregard for my comfort during her fetushood, Maggie has proven to be a bit of a Mama's girl. She enjoys the company of others, but she will usually protest noisily if I am not within arm's reach at all times. Like most aspects of parenting, this has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it is not necessarily convenient to be within arm's reach 100% of the time. I cannot even remember, for example, the last time I took a shower without hearing steadily louder wailing (from Maggie and Ian) over the melodious tinkle of the running water. On the other hand, who on earth could object too strenuously to being loved so much by so magical a creature, whatever the inconvenience?
While I expect to retain my exalted position in Maggie's affections at least until she masters solid foods (which she mostly gives a thumbs-down to so far, by the way), Ian has learned techniques to soothe and comfort Maggie when I am unavailable. The most effective of these, in case you are facing a similar situation with a similar baby, is playing Daft Punk at loud volumes. Some babies like lullabies. Some babies like those womb sound machines. Maggie likes Robot-themed techno. By providing this auditory delight for her, Ian seems to have made up for the fact that he yields no milk. Last night, Maggie was flirting with her dad something fierce. She kept saying "Dada! Dad-dee!" and trying to catch his eye. (Her babbling, incidentally, has become weirdly word-like of late. She says 'Dada', 'Mama', 'baby', and 'die-per', at relevant moments. We can't quite decide if we are just imagining it, or if she is freakishly advanced verbally. I'll keep you posted.) So, in case you are planning a road trip and want to pencil in all interesting tourist attractions, may I suggest a stop at our house. We don't have the world's biggest ball of yarn, and we don't have Stonehenge made out of beer bottles, but we are home to the world's cutest Daddy-Daughter Duo.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reality Bites

The other day, I was talking to another parent at Climbing Class about Max's eating habits. (Max is two months younger than her son, but considerably taller and larger, so she asked what we were feeding him.) I told her that his favorite thing to consume was chocolate milk. She asked if he ever drank regular milk, and I revealed one of my secrets to a harmonious life with a two year old: Max always wants chocolate in his milk, but he doesn't actually take note of how much chocolate goes in the milk. So I pour his milk, shake in a single crumb of ovaltine, and everyone wins. The other parent made a somewhat disapproving face and said, "Don't you think, though, that he needs to get used to not getting his way?"
Obviously, yes, Max needs to know that he will not always get his way. The fact is, though, that there are thousands of times a day when Max does not get his way. He has to get his diaper changed when he would rather go through life filthy and proud. He has to share with Maggie when he would rather ignore her existence entirely. He has to take naps when he would prefer to play himself into frazzled exhaustion. On those occasions when I can allow Max to feel like he is in control, especially if I can do so without harming or inconveniencing either one of us, I tend to accommodate him. When I said this to the other parent, she said, "I guess that makes sense. I just think that a lot of kids today are coddled too much. I mean, you've gotta face the fact that life is hard at some point, right?"

Other ways in which I have failed to make my son face reality in all its infinite darkness:
* I have never told him that in real life, Nemo's dad would be much more likely to eat him than to travel across the ocean to save him.
* I have not told Max that his foam letter soup is not, in truth, particularly delicious.
* I have never talked to Max about how much his college education is likely to cost.
* I have not told him that Superman is not real, or that he would be considered a big weirdo in a unitard if he were.
* I have never told him that someday we will all die.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh, Max

Max to Mama: Oh! Mama, get it out, please? (waddles over to Mama, points to groin.)
Mama: Get what out? Do you need your diaper changed?
Max: Oh, fix it, Mama! Oh! Fix it, please?
Mama: Fix what? Your diaper?
Max: OH!
(Mama notices Max clutching a fold of his pajamas. She unzips his jammies to investigate.)
Mama: You put an actual foam 'O' down your pants?
Max: Yeah, Mama.
Mama: Oh.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hey Good Lookin', What You Got Cookin'?

I was finally forced to admit last night that the time had come to introduce Maggie to the wider world of eating. She has been waking up at night to nurse more frequently, and while her general robust and roly poly health suggests that she is not exactly starving, I am not sure that my body can keep up with her demands for much longer. In addition, she has been eyeing Ian and I with increasing interest when we eat. And so, with a tiny lump in my throat, I made Maggie some rice cereal.

Maggie was very receptive to her first bite, and sucked on my cereal-covered finger with enthusiasm.

When she tried to swallow, though, she ran into some obstacles. She gagged a little on the new texture.

And then, blaming both me and the cereal, she was less excited about subsequent bites.

I don't know how much food she actually ate, but I think we managed to get a bite or two to stay in there. Max watched anxiously from the sidelines, advising me, "Clean Maggie, Mama. She needs a cloth! She's making a mess!" He was right, too.

I have had many people express surprise over my reluctance to give up nursing. It must be hard to juggle nursing times when you have two of them. If the baby eats or takes a bottle, you won't be so tied down. Once she starts getting those teeth, you'll regret not weaning sooner. All true. Maggie's babyhood is just going by so very quickly. Part of me would like her to just stay a tiny pink newborn for a little longer. And, on a more pragmatic note, babies who eat solid foods make more laundry, more dirty dishes, and poop that is smellier and grosser.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Is It Just Me ...

... or is Max sort of weirdly identical to Dash from The Incredibles? We were watching it together yesterday, and I exclaimed over the resemblance. Max laughed and said, "No, Mama!" But then again, he's two. He says no to everything.
I personally think that the similarities are alarming. Large head, blonde hair, big blue eyes, cheery disposition, poorly concealed superpowers. It's almost as if Max is the mild-mannered alter ego of Dash! Wouldn't that be crazy?


Friday, January 18, 2008

Dynamic Duo

The whole sibling rivalry phenomenon is sort of a mystery to me, because I was a perfect child who never, ever argued with any of my siblings. (Incidentally, Sisters, you are respectively forbidden to contradict this statement by mentioning any of the following: chocolate chips up the nose, Fisher Price farms allegedly chucked at any one's head, diapers hurled from cribs at unholy hours, beet greens, and any or all car vomiting or urinations. You know who you are and which of the things on this list you're connected with.) As far as I can tell, Max and Maggie cope with their sibling hood quite nicely. Maggie adores Max. Everything he does fascinates her. We think that the main impetus behind her freakish drive to walk is so that she can propel herself into his business more independently and efficiently. Max is less certain about Maggie. Last week, all in one day, he articulated the following three sentences to/about her: "Maggie's so, so cute!" "No no Maggie touch it!" and the classic, "Maggie all done! Go away now, Maggie!" You can see that he is conflicted. He likes her, but she bugs him.

Sometimes they can play together for short stretches. (I mostly included this picture because it has the backs of both offspring heads featured. I have a thing with the fuzzy backs of baby heads, and so does my mum. Enjoy, Granny!)

Sometimes, Max decides that he is done being tolerant, and tries to run Maggie over with a tricycle and make it look like an accident. And that, by the way, is why this particular tricycle has now gone to stay at Granny and Gramps' house.

My very favorite thing in the entire world, universe, galaxy, cosmos, etc., is when they laugh together. I think a lot about their relationship in terms of myself -- am I giving each one enough attention, am I juggling naps and feedings and bathings in the best way, why are they both yelling at me, and so on. When they play and laugh together, though, I am reminded that they will have a lifelong relationship with each other that has nothing to do with me at all. And I am so excited to see what they do with it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why So Glum, Chum?

All right, look, Max: I know that you didn't want to put on shoes or a jacket, but it is really, really cold outside today. No one would come outside without shoes or a jacket on, that's how cold it is.

I don't know who taught you the word 'hypocrite', but it is not a very nice thing to say about your mother, okay? Now let's move on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Happy Birthday, Grandma/Mom/Mom-in-law! We all love and miss you muchly.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Future Food Network Star

Max is currently hard at work pitching the pilot episode of his new show, Quick And Easy Dinners You Can Make In Your Bathroom Using Everyday Ingredients That You Either Could Not Physically Eat Or Would Not Want To to Food Network executives. Here is a little preview:

You want to start out with a really thick and hearty foundation of foam alphabet puzzle pieces for this recipe, and then thoroughly moisten them. If the entire bathroom isn't soaked, then you have not added enough water, and if you skimp on the water, your rocks will absorb too much toothpaste and become chewy.

When your letters are completely wetted down, add a few rocks to the sink, and then season with toothpaste to taste. Some people prefer a more subtle hand with the toothpaste, but I like to really pile it on.

Stir all ingredients vigorously enough to splash water onto the mirror and anyone standing near you.

Test for consistency and flavor.

This recipe looks impressive, tastes delicious, and is so easy and versatile! Try foam numbers instead of letters for a fun twist! As long as you add plenty of water, you can't go wrong. Make it for your family tonight!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thomas The Tank Engine's Evil Twin

Max enjoys trains. He likes it when we drive past them, he likes stories about them, and he likes playing with small toy versions of them. This led us, somewhat naturally, to Thomas The Tank Engine, and Max and Thomas carry on their friendship through Thomas videos, Thomas action figures, and Thomas bath toys. Thomas, by the way, is blue. So when Max began telling me about the adventures of a secondary character, who went by the name of "Black Thomas", I was alarmed. What evil, alternate dimension Thomas was Max in unholy contact with? Then I realized that Max was talking about a small piece of his Ikea train set, which happens to be the same shape as Thomas and which is, as you can see, black. I was relieved, until I heard a small voice emanating from Black Thomas this morning, commanding me to derail all the other train cars. And, sure enough, if you look closely at Black Thomas, you can see that my initial fears were not unfounded:
Black Thomas, Ladies and Gentlemen: His paint is black, and so is his SOUL!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Attack Of The Fifty-Foot Baby!

Forgive The Interruption Of Cute Baby Pictures ...

I just need one minute of your attention, so that I can direct you to my new blog. It is a book/movie review blog, it is called Mental Monsters, and the link is here and in our list to the left. So, if you like that sort of thing, or know someone who does, come over and say hi!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

School Of Rock

The other day, Ian was playing the piano while I puttered around the house. In the midst of my puttering, I suddenly noticed that Ian's playing had abruptly taken on a distinctly eclectic rhythm scheme (sort of Philip Glass-esque, not really Ian's usual style). I looked towards the piano, where I beheld Maggie, practically diving out of Ian's arms in her eagerness to pound out musical mayhem.

Based on this performance, Ian has concluded that Maggie shares his musical enthusiasms. He might be right. Hopefully, she didn't also inherit my complete and very tragic inability to create music of any kind, or she will be a sad and conflicted soul.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Heart Grows Fonder

Max to Mama: Hip Hip Hooray! I'm so, so excited!
Mama to Max: Really? Why?
Max: Dada coming home really soon!
Mama: What are you and Dada going to do when he gets home?
Max: Play Mario. Max and Dada play Mario 3D! Hip Hip Hooray! (Throws both fists in the air in primal gesture of triumph)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Just Two Zombies Shy Of A Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland

Yesterday, a great and terrible storm raged through Davis. The power was out at our house from 9 am until sometime this morning, and I think we got off easy, because much of Yolo County is still looking decidedly non-electric. I have discovered (and feel free to borrow my notes on this, to spare you the necessity of conducting your own experiments) that nine hours in a cold dark apartment, with no phone and no way to entertain, clean, or cook for myself or my two small children, is not nearly as fun as it sounds. Ian, on the other hand, spent the day at work fielding insurance-based questions about storm damage. When Ian got home, we took one look at each other (as best as we could, in the darkness), took in the steely gleam of desperation in each other's eyes, and took to the hills. We turned up on our friends' doorstep, dirty, disheveled, and hungry. Despite this, we were invited to stay for the night, which we did. Driving through Davis, on our way to and from our more electricity-rich friends' house, was quite bizarre. There were no lights on anywhere, trees were down, power lines cowered on the sides of the roads. There was even a giant tumbleweed rolling down Cowell Boulevard this morning. "This is exactly like the beginning of 28 Days Later," Ian remarked. "Only without the zombies" I replied. Then we both realized that you never see the zombies right off the bat -- they're always lurking in the shadows when the movie opens. Then we both looked around nervously.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2008, Thus Far

My mum informed me this morning that it is bad luck to ring in the New Year with an old blog post. I am pretty sure that she is lying, but to be on the safe side, I have now finished two blog posts in one day. Here is what we have been up to in '08 so far:

An overachiever as usual, Maggie has decided to grow two teeth at once, and consequently has been doing some gnawing. So far, she has chewed through our sofa, our Christmas tree (quite handy, really -- instead of painstakingly removing the ornaments and walking the tree to the curb, we simply let Maggie worry the tree down into sawdust with her sharp little tooth stubs, catching the ornaments as she spit them to either side, and then swept up the sawdust pile when she was done), and is halfway through a kitchen chair leg. This is a bird's eye picture of her carving her initials into my flesh with her fanglets. Yes, it is quite painful, thanks for asking.

I, meanwhile, have been busy solving this mystery: How did this large dandelion seed take root in our rocking chair?

Wait a minute ... I see eyes! That's no dandelion!

What are you doing, Max?

I in a box, Mama! I hiding! Legos, too! I building! No no Maggie building box.

Auld Lang Syne

For your viewing enjoyment, a small New Year's retrospective:

Maggie in January 2007

Maggie in January 2008

Max in January 2006

Max in January 2007

Max in January 2008