Mmmm, MZ likes it!

Yep, she likes to be in charge.

This afternoon, we started MZ on solid foods. We sat her down in her Bumbo seat on the dining room table, and she immediately began eating her bib, which seemed like a positive sign.

We gave her some very liquidy rice cereal mixed with breast milk, and at first she was mostly interested in the spoon. But after a few spoonfuls, she became more interested in the contents and we began to hear swallowing noises! She grabbed for spoonful after spoonful. Most of it dribbled down her chin, but some of it seems to have gotten into her, and when we were done, she was ready for more. So we gave her a sippy cup with a few tablespoons-ful of sterilized water. Her first water! We have no idea how much of that got into her, but she appeared to enjoy the whole process.

So, we plan to introduce new foods on weekend afternoons, when we're both here and can monitor her for allergic reactions before she goes to bed for the night. We're taking suggestions on what to offer her next. We're thinking winter squash...


Talk about drama...

Robert is home from what felt like his longest business trip ever. It wasn't, in mathmatical terms, but he couldn't wait to get his hands on MZ this morning. So after he fed her, as they played together, I pumped. And they came down to visit me. And Robert looked down at Moki and said, "There's a bird in here." And it wasn't one of Moki's typical petite kills, it was a big, mangy scrub jay. In the dining room.

We discussed the disgustingness of this bird calmly. How big it was, when it must have made it's arrival, how he had downed something so large. And then it fluttered from it's back into a full upright position and flew around the dining room. And we screamed: I screamed, Robert screamed and then MZ began to scream.

"Get her out of here," I yelled bravely. I would take care of the bird! Robert rushed MZ up the stairs, covering her face, like a fireman rushing her out of a burning house.

The bird, shocked at coming-to in a house full of screaming meanies with a cat chasing it, flew to the living room and began slamming himself against the windows, looking for a way out.

Let's pause for a moment to consider how much I hate birds. I really hate birds. Other people see pretty feathers, I see a mass of mange hiding bacteria and tiny insects, like ivy for rats. I save all my germphobia for birds. I hate birds so much that I can't eat chicken if I think of it as a bird.

But Robert is upstairs soothing a frightened baby and I've got to get this damn bird out of the house. And our windows need to be replaced and none of them stay open on their own. Except one. The last one I tried.

The bird's gone now and the baby is soothed, and I'm going to have to wash her crib sheet in the hottest possible water, or maybe even burn it, because that's what I grabbed off the pile of clean laundry to wave the bird out the window.

Sadly, there are no pictures.


Six Months: Grabby Girl

Grabbing and drooling

MZ is six months old today -- SIX MONTHS! That's half a year! She's halfway done with breastfeeding, halfway towards being a toddler. And I am not nearly half-tired of having an infant. MZ is hilarious these days, grabbing and laughing and chewing and drooling and vocalizing and rolling.

The past month brought her first plane flight and her first meeting of her East Coast cousins. It also brought what we assume was our last stay in a B&B for a long while. She was quiet as a mouse except in the early AM, which was a perfect time to practice shrieking, her new favorite thing, which she "discovered" in a white tablecloth restaurant in the North End, and perfected in line at the Modern Bakery, where she regaled the crowds with her shrieking and giggling.

We took long walks in the early morning, to allow the other guests to wake at their own pace, and had our first "Mommy Drive-by." For our morning walks, we placed MZ in the Baby Bjorn, facing out so she could enjoy the scenery. She grinned broadly throughout our walks, so much so that people would stop to comment. Yet a woman coming off the Rockport harbor snarled at us for having her in a Bjorn rather than a sling. C'mon, the baby is SMILING. Let's hope she can muster at least that much righteous indignation over children starving in wartorn lands.

The flights were mostly uneventful, although I was alarmed on our return flight, when it was just MZ and me and a whole lot of turbulence. She pooped within the first twenty minutes, but it was 45 before I could change her, by which point it was a full blowout. And there were no changing tables on the plane, just a tilty toilet seat. I was convinced we were doomed to exit the plane with a naked baby and a bag full of dirty clothes, but by the end she was merely bored with my meager collection of diversions, and confused that no one on the plane seemed as interested in her as all the nice Boston-area Freedmans had been. MZ is becoming accustomed to being the center of attention, and has developed a fabulous little cough to remind us when she'd like some more. A cough, and a death rattle. That's what I call the long, wheezing noise she's hit on and seems to love. It's the first annoying habit she's developed.

She has also developed a fascination with toddlers that started with her cousin Sam. Sam meets her at eye level when she's sitting on a lap, and she was obsessed with him: he walks! he talks! he eats! How do I get me some of that?? She actually seemed frustrated by her lack of mobility and communications skills for the first couple of days after we returned, which makes me think that we better plan on signing with this kid.

A few weeks earlier, I would have chalked the frustration up to teething, but I'm over that now. MZ has exhibited signs of teething for six weeks: drooling incessantly, chewing on things, rash under her lip, that little cough. For a few weeks, every time she whimpered, I'd say, "Oh, she's teething." Now my only real question is whether she can actually drool more than she does now. We change her bib three times before noon.

She's also developing great strength in her upper body, she'll spend a quarter of an hour on her tummy, alternating between lifting up on her arms and lifting up her butt. And she finally has the strength to grab at toys from her tummy, and to skootch forward if she braces her feet against something, like the edge of her crib; or backwards, if she doesn't have anything behind her. Oh, and she's rolling over the other way now! Well, she has, on three occasions that I'm aware of. She's more interested in getting her booty in the air, a clear harbinger of crawling, but the front-to-back rolling is cool, too, when it happens.

I realize this all sounds a little kvetchy, but only because I'm tired and it's late and I'm on my fourth and last night of Robert's business trip. And I'm nervous about quitting work to stay home with MZ. But I'm also excited. She is such a sweet, funny little person, and the thought of enjoying those morning smiles without having to park her in a bouncy seat so I can pump, shower and leave her for someone else to play with feels so good, and like such a luxury. We gave returning to work a try, and mostly it just made our life chaotic. And as I look back on the last six months and how fast they've flown, I am so excited to be here to bear witness to this magnificent, enthralling little being.


Where she's not

Mmmm, napkin

The napkin was the safest thing on the table at lunch yesterday, after she got done throwing all the spoons on the ground. Fortunately she's not yet at an age where she's furious if you try to take something away from her. Can't wait for that phase...

Today she stunned the crowd by grabbing a full plate of plastic-wrapped black-bottom cupcakes off the counter at the local cafe. Fortunately she's not at a stage where the noise made her want to do it again. Can't wait for that phase, either.


Mutual fascination society

Fascinated by the fishtank

This photo was taken at Deb's birthday party a few weeks ago, where MZ became totally, uninterruptably fascinated with a large fish tank. The brightly colored moving fish captured her attention the way trees moving in the wind have occupied her for weeks.

MZ is starting to focus that attention on the rest of her world. She seems particularly fascinated with the more colorful art around the house. She has zeroed in on the brightly colored animal quartet that hangs above the glider in her room, as I burp her, she gazes intently.

And as she lies on the bed in our room while we get ready in the mornings, her eyes move from the sequined Burmese tapestry over our bed to the Huichol yarn painting on the other side of the room.

It's amazing to watch her move beyond simple black/white graphics, and I find myself following her eyes, wondering what's going on in that head of hers.


Teeny Babies Everywhere

Teeny Babies Everywhere

So much has happened between the trip to Boston and work that I've fallen off posting. The temptation to backtrack is tremendous, there are great stories about MZ's first flight, her fascination with her toddler cousin Sam, her touching recognition when Robert arrived home a few days after us. But trying to catch up is paralyzing so I'm just going to start from NOW.

Over the weekend, we gathered our Bernal Teeny Babies together for our monthly family meeting. There were fourteen babies in all, from 2.5-6.5 months, any of whom were screaming or grabbing for each other at any given time. The floor was a wriggle fest. MZ spent most of the time grabbing for her feet, which she does immediately upon removal of her socks.

It's as if socked feet don't exist, but pull them off and she is immediately eating her feet (sing this to the tune of "We like to eat Eight Apples and Bananas" and you're comedy gold on the changing table circuit).