Sixteen Months: Walking! Really Walking!

Dear Miriam,

In the last week, you started walking! Perhaps it was your pediatrician’s threat to send you to a physical therapist (you seem well on your way to a pathological fear of doctors), whatever it was, you did not start with two, nor twelve. You started with 38 baby steps, counted and duly reported by your Bubbie. And you’ve been doing a lot of walking ever since, although mostly while holding a hand. You wake in the morning, have your milk in bed with us, then announce Walking, making a distinction between this new enterprise and that outdated, holding-on-to-two-fingers Bawking thing. Throughout the day, Walking is declared, and it’s time to go. When you stumble, you order Hug, and we do, and then onward. You are freakin’ irresistible. And your dad and I are anxious to get one last video of your crazy skootch before you leave it behind forever.

Even without the walking, this would be an eventful month. Two more teeth are finally breaking through; they started exactly 1.5 weeks after you were perilously grumpy at your dad’s reunion. You’re on your way to six teeth and we finally have the signs down cold: slight fever, drippy nose, grumpiness as though we are literally standing on your last nerve, and a telltale diaper rash, and a week and a half later: teeth.

Speaking of cold, you comprehend extremes of temperature, declaring anything that’s not room temp hot. You also know On and Off, Open and Close, and you can distinguish between I and you in conversation, as in when I say You got it as I hand you a ball on the swing, you reply I got it. And you finally say Cheers!, clanking your sippy against our glasses with new vigor.

You’re all about vigor these days, actually. You slam pots, you wham your sippy on your table, you bang books and knock down towers of blocks with exclamations of Oh no! that are clearly for our benefit, since we love the way you say oh no and you demonstrate not one iota of regret. You have healthy fear, I watch other toddlers charging over the edges of the play structures at the park and am amazed that you show such care. But you like to bang things. And you love cars and balls. You’re learning the finer distinctions of trucks, buses, fire engines and street cars, but mostly you just like things that move, and wheels move. So do balls, and you’re teaching yourself to throw.

We’ve purposely not given this lesson because 1) as you're bound to know by now, neither of us do so well with the ball sports, but more importantly 2) we’ve seen what happens when creatures with no sense of consequences learn to throw and we love our cats and want the sliding glass door to remain intact and in general are no fans of the pandemonium created when virtually anything can be launched. But there you are, teaching yourself to throw, occasionally releasing when the ball is still behind your ear, reminding me so much of myself that I wonder what possessed me to reproduce. All I can say is, I’m sorry.

Just when I think you’re on your way to being the planet’s most disillusioned tomboy, you call for Puppy and I’m reminded of what a girl you are. Puppy, a gift from your Great Grandma Lil, is your favorite single toy, you hug him and kiss him and when I hear you wake in the night mumbling Puppy I can picture you finding him and hugging him before you go back to sleep. You will carry him anywhere we let you and while he’s not allowed to the park, to meals or in the pool, he may be what got you through the rough two weeks before you stopped crying at the daycare center at our gym. You’re clutching him when I leave, and you still have him when I return, and it’s time you knew that we actually have three Puppies because none of us wanted to contemplate the disaster that would be Puppy Gone Missing.

And you’re an artist to boot! We signed you up for an art class with your Nana and Papa, and you've produced some lovely works. You hate getting your hands dirty (when your hand is covered with sand at the park you hold it out to whoever’s closest, with a preemptive Thank you to indicate you’d like it brushed off), so finger painting is out. But you've created collages and water colors and even some sponge art and we are cataloguing each piece for the transformation of Casa Robmaliam into the Gallery of MZ.

In closing, this month has been an adjustment, but we’ve made it back to our happy place. I’m so proud of all your recent accomplishments that sometimes I think my heart will explode. I love you, sweet pea.

Your Mom
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What we're reading #3

The third in a series… I worried a bit that we hardly read to MZ when she was tiny. It was beyond boring to read to an infant. Fortunately she loves being read to now, and has very specific tastes that continue to develop. Some books, like Itsy Bitsy Spider, remain favorites, but overall I’m surprised at how frequently her preferences have changed since her first reading list.

What with a general lack of time, I completely missed blogging on her Books from the 70s with Collage Illustrations phase, which started during the high fever of her roseola outbreak and lasted several weeks. But during that time, her favorites were Eric Carle’s The Greedy Python
and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?, Ezra Jack Keats’s Whistle for Willie, and Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own. Trippy. But she’s already on to other things…

Come Here, Cleo
MZ loves this book about an orange cat, she can name something on virtually every page, from the cars on the boy’s draperies to the slide in the backyard to the captivatingly drawn Cleo.

Chunky Pets: Cat
Again, she can name something on most of these chunky wooden pages, even details we don’t notice, like the toy car on a dresser.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! This is her first picture book since Wynken, Blynken & Nod (great edition, btw), which we read to her when she was tiny. This book cracks her up, which is interesting since I don’t think she knows most of the words, but the illustrations seem to carry the day.

The City/La Ciudad We all love the simple collage illustrations of city life, although the typo mid-way drives R. and me nuts. It's a first-words book, how tough could it be to spellcheck?!

Buenos Dias, Baby! I think originally she was drawn to this book’s diminutive size, but now she brings it to me and declares what she’d like to see: bottle, puppy, hat, shoes

My First Words
This cheapo book came with one of those crazy gift baskets from China – the kind where you end up throwing half of the contents away because they aren’t even baby-safe. It actually came with a pink gingham bib that said Mommy loves me, but I digress. The pages are super-busy, yet she LOVES this book, she skootches over with it, announcing what she wants to see: Ba-na (banana), boon-boon (balloon), monkey, puppy, car, ball, baby, quack quack -- the list gets longer every week.

Secret Seahorse This is the newest addition to her library, and perhaps not quite a true favorite yet. But the beautiful illustrations – photographs of a carefully detailed underwater tapestry – captivate her, she touches the pages and murmurs fish fish fish as we read. The final page is delightful.


38 Steps

That's how many steps she took from the hall to her bedroom while I was dropping off the car at the shop (all of 45 minutes, tops). Her Bubbie (yes, she's Bubbie again) kept count for us.

Then she promptly went down for an unscheduled 8:30 AM nap.


Oh Sistah, where art thou?

I'm beginning to think I may never blog again. Sure, I'll post something once a month, the letter to MZ thing. But that's not blogging. That's just an electronic letter that I hope to find some reasonable way to print and collect by the time she goes off to college.

Since MZ started napping once/day, life has changed dramatically. She's a dervish, from sun up to sun down, with three hours of quiet mid-day, if we're lucky. And I am almost paralyzed for the first of those three, thinking of the things I could do: Laundry? Clean kitchen? Start dinner? Read? Blog? Read blogs? SLEEP?! I'm thinking of going back to work.

Not really, not totally, I still hold out hope I'll be pregnant again in a jiff. But I suspect someone else may be a better caregiver for my daughter than me at this stage. It turns out I NEED the alone time. Oh, and the adult company. Neither of which am I getting right now, since this nap schedule does not correspond to any of our prior activities. I miss my fellow Bernal moms so much I could weep. I'm too tired to make new mom friends.

We do have new activities. Swimming! Daily trips to the park! More errands! What, you're awake again? We must DO something! But these do not supply the adult time that the playgroup and rec center did. I don't know these moms. And literally every single mom in our swim class is pregnant. It's not the parent/child swim class, you lying marketers. It's the Pregnant Moms of Toddlers swim class. Did I mention that MZ still does not walk?

I even joined a gym, with day care (about 20 pounds overdue). MZ hates the daycare. She's been four times, and four times I've arrived to a baby crying hard into a sweet stranger's shoulder.

It's not that I'm a terrible mom, there's no neglect and there are lots and lots of hugs. But I can only read Come Here, Cleo so many times, can only erect so many Quatro towers to knock down, can only blow so many bubbles. Turns out I'm a great holder and cuddler. Whoda thunk? But chaser and distracter and teacher? Not so much. I am not excelling at reinforcing shapes and numbers and animal sounds in a playful and consistent manner that constantly challenges her young and thirsty mind.

So, I'm lonely and I'm performing below expectations. But there's more endorphins. So I've got that going for me.


15 Months by the Numbers

Since she was born, R. and I have done all her milestone pediatric appointments together. We both want to hear the news, and when shots are a part of the deal, the Family Hug is really the only cure. But that means sometimes the appointment has to shift a bit, so here we are, a few weeks late with the 15-month data.

MZ is holding firm at about 18th percentile for weight, 50th for height, and 90th for head size. This is no longer a cause for alarm, we're used to her wee-ness and I'm over thinking she's suffering from some hideous brain-swelling malady. She's gained nearly 15 ounces since her last appointment, and that seems just fine.

However, her ped is not as sanguine as I about the fact that MZ isn't walking. While I am extremely conscious of it, because she's in a whole new cohort with the new nap schedule and she's usually the only crawler at these activities, I don't worry about her physical health in this regard. I live with her daily, I know she's an extremely deliberate child.

She looked like she was going to be an early crawler, rocking on her knees at seven months, but it took two months for her to pull it all together and move forward. And when she did, there was no fumbling. Walking appears to be the same, she's doing all the right things (standing, squatting, lifting while standing, cruising). I fully expect her to take not two steps but twelve, and sometime before she's 22 months. But the doctor wants her to see a physical therapist if she's not walking by her next appointment.

Also, MZ recognized immediately that she was in the doctor's office, and became extremely agitated, thus she did not show off her words. So her pediatrician totally didn't believe how much she's talking. When we told her that she says I got it. when we hand her something while she's on the swing, she said, oh, yes, that's a "superword," she thinks that's all one word.

So how to explain today, when she woke up from her nap, looked at me considerately and said deliberately, Daddy. Home. She didn't get the question uptalk part, but the meaning was clear. The child scares me sometimes. Posted by Picasa


If a blog falls in the forest...

One of the first blogs I ever read was Chez Miscarriage. Someone told me about getupgrrl when we were going through all our shit, and while her challenges were very different from ours, I found her almost-daily blogging on her grief and excitement and fear related to procreation a tremendous comfort, a help, and almost always, a good laugh.

I read with the excitement I feel for someone I know as she progressed through her eventual pregnancy. I related to all the assvice she was getting, I even chimed in from my lurker status when she asked for baby product recommendations. Reading her birth story, I cried as I held my own longed-for baby.

Then, on October 05, 2005, this: Working on the next big bloggy idea... Silence. Chez Miscarriage is now Chez Bebe, and I can completely see how one would need a break from YEARS of blogging on grief and disappointment. But I still check in occasionally, okay, weekly, okay, even more often than that. I miss her voice. Mind you, I don't even know this woman.

But the thing is, she had a following. A HUGE following. So if she came back with her big new bloggy idea, I'd know, right? Someone would tell me? Maybe we could take turns checking and tell each other? I'm just sayin'...


MZ is a baby on the verge... she may not be walking yet, but boy does she bawk.

Bawk! It's a command, and we obediently take her fingers and follow her lead down the hall, the sidewalk, between the tables of the restaurant. Bawking! she cries, to make sure the world knows she's on the move. Posted by Picasa


May day! May day!

Our fridge went out completely last night. It had threatened us rather fiercely, so we already have a repair appointment set up, but I did not expect a complete and total strike. And a day early...

But it gives me a chance to blog a bit on The
Strike. Checking the news, I see lots of noise about how this strike is ineffective, about how the dollars it will cost are not the "right" dollars. Well, of course, no one-day strike can effect that much change. But as a kid whose family boycotted grapes out of respect for farmworkers, and Nestle products for their infant formula marketing practices, I find myself supremely receptive to this tactic. How else to make the invisible visible? How else to remind overwhelmed and under-engaged Americans of the role that immigrants play, have always played in this country?

Many have written eloquently on the nature of immigrant labor in America today, how personally it touches us through our children, in our homes and gardens, through the food we take for granted, and in so many other ways.

But today I'm thinking about my family and the paths they took to get here, some not so long ago. Of what they fled and how they arrived. Of the contributions they made, some visible and some known only to us. We are linked to today's immigrants in our daily lives and through the legacies of those who preceded us. "Illegal" is just a matter of the politics of arrival. How could I not honor this strike?