Archives for posts with tag: baby







There’s nothing more like music to a mother’s ears than being called “stick,” is there. Or is there? Wait, I guess “Mama” would be pretty nice, now that I think about it.

For Baby Boy, though, the world is new, full of sights and smells and objects just waiting to be named, whereas he’s been around me every day of his life, all 11 1/2 months of it. We name those things for him, and some, like “red” or “hat,” pass unnoticed, unremarked, much as we might ignore a word like “pulchritude.” (How is it possible that such an ugly-sounding word means “beauty,” and how could you use it without insulting the source of that beauty?) Others prove to be of some fleeting interest, like “Mamama” or “Da,” which we hear every now and again, just often enough to keep the embers of parental-name pride glowing. Yet others bring joy and rapture and repetition – and Saturday, two days ago, that word was “stick” (which, really, was still only in a tie with and did not supplant “kwuh,” his word for “squirrel,” which seems to represent for him all that is good and fascinating about the outside world. He points, he watches, he looks rapturously outside as he says “kwuh!”, but would he know a squirrel if one ran up to him and dropped an acorn on his head? I’m not sure. But he does love to say “squirrel”!)

It was naptime, and, as is more common than I’d like, Baby Boy was not napping. He was, however, fussing. We were outside, our family of four, with my sisters and their significant others (one husband, one fiance), at Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia. As we stood at the playground, a happy home away from home for children near and far, regarding the lake-turned-giant-puddle from the film Dirty Dancing and watching Preschool Girl play, Baby Boy’s fussing continued. To distract him, we held up a stick. (Given the options at our feet, it seemed better than the sand.) “Stick!” we pronounced, as if it were a gold medal, something to be prized and cradled. “Stick!”

“‘tick!” he repeated excitedly.

And then WE seemed like the ones learning the word, because we delighted in the game, each saying “stick!” over and over again.

The trouble with the game, though, is that when you are eleven and a half months old, it is not enough to say the word “stick.” It is not enough to see a stick and know it as a stick, in all its this-used-to-be-part-of-a-tree glory. No, you say “stick!” because you want to hold the stick. You want to hold the stick aloft. You want to brandish the stick in ways that endanger your vision and that of the person holding you. As a responsible parent, then, one must take away the stick. You, the eleven and a half month old, will be bereft. You will cry for your stick. You will call for your stick (since you now have a word for it). You will mourn for the stick you have loved lo these past three minutes. Whoever said it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all has never taken a stick away from a baby. It is a moment of crisis.

And then, thank goodness for the aunts. “Squirrel?” they say.


The crisis is over, for now, with the reminder of another word, another part of the outside world to focus on. Maybe, one of these days, “Mama” or “Dada” will make it back into the regular rotation. We’re outside with him too, right? I guess we just need to grow bushy tails.

Daddy, Baby Boy, and Uncles on the AT

Daddy, Baby Boy, and Uncles on the AT


Aunties, Preschool Girl, and Mama on the AT

Aunties, Preschool Girl, and Mama on the AT

January 7: This is best done on the second day in a row of single-digit weather in a usually warmish climate, when getting out of the house just doesn’t seem like a good idea.

One tube of yogurt, generally marketed for consumption by children or those on the go.

1. Remove the tube of yogurt from the refrigerator.
2. Tear off the top bit of plastic as instructed; throw the trash in the trash.
3. Hand open tube of yogurt to your hungry preschooler. Be sure that the baby is nearby.
4. Direct your attention elsewhere while your preschooler is about to consume the yogurt.
5. Turn back in surprise when you realize the baby has taken the tube of yogurt into his hand and shaken it gleefully, like a hose in the summertime. 
6. Shriek, just a little bit, before tossing the limp remains of the yogurt tube into the trash and assessing the damage.
7. Remove all clothes from your preschooler; skip the hamper and put them directly into the washing machine.
8. Check your son for the tell-tale scent of strawberry yogurt; remove socks and zip-up hoodie. Take these directly to the washer as well.
9. Spot-check the rug for evidence; wipe at least three spots.
10. Laugh at yourself. What else can you do?
11. Remove an additional tube of yogurt from the refrigerator for saddened preschooler and hope for the best…

My math for the day: Months in = Months out. Nine = Nine. A balanced equation with nothing to solve for. (Apologies to my preposition-at-the-end-of-a-sentence hating mathematician of a husband.)

Today, Baby Boy, formerly known as Baby Baby, is nine months old. Sure, if you want to quibble, my math isn’t exactly right: He was born at 40 weeks + 1 day. That would be January 18th. Some two weeks of that were pre-conception, however. 38 weeks + 1 day would put us in the past, on January 4th.

So I made a choice. Life is often about choices – what to eat for breakfast, which shirt to wear, whether you can find enough calm in you to gently admonish your shouting daughter while trying to lull your son to sleep. This time, I choose to celebrate today in two ways: happy nine month birthday, Baby Boy, and happy balancing day. Right now, your story arc makes a perfect “v”; soon, one side will grow longer…and longer…and longer. And longer and longer, if my hopes become reality.

For the moment, I’m enjoying the balance. Nine months = Baby Boy = happiness.

Who knew carrots were soothing?


Today is the first day of week 21 of my pregnancy – we are into the second half! This does, of course, assume that Baby Baby does not make a late appearance, but we can’t know that yet. So, for now, as far as we know, we are halfway there.

And again today, at moms’ group (which at one point was really just “mom” as many moms were, presumably, off for Thanksgiving travels already), I asked ML if Baby Baby was going to be a boy or a girl. “A girl,” she said, as decisively as before. Maybe this is because it’s easiest to imagine someone like yourself – as a mother, it’s easiest to know more about girls than boys, so having a girl as my first was, in some ways, easy. For ML, imagining a sister must be simpler, too. But she has plenty of boy friends, and she talks about them, so she knows and likes boys. Maybe it’s that she has an inside line, some small-child connection between herself and the small one living inside me, and she knows Baby Baby better than I do.

Either way, we only need to wait another four and a half months to find out.

She’s nearing sixteen months old. How does it go by so quickly, and when will I tire of thinking that? Not yet. Not nearly yet.

Even at this age, hair seems to be a big deal. Because she hasn’t had much, we’ve often heard that she’s a “cute little fella” or been asked how old he is. We don’t mind, and I don’t think she does, either. Hair and gender aren’t related, and we’re pretty sure she’ll have more, at least one of these years. Maybe it’s happening now; when friends who’ve been away for a few weeks see her, they say things like, “Her face seems longer,” or “She’s looking more like you,” or “She has more hair!” I suppose that’s true: it comes from the back, like a rooster’s comb, lofting above her head. While she does not have a full head of thick hair, what she has gives her some extra height. It reminds me of Conan O’Brien, but instead of the front taking on a life of its own, hers comes from the swirly cowlick in the back, like a wave. One day it may crash down over her forehead, but for now, it hovers like a springboard, sproinging in response to the breeze or her head nodding or shaking.

While she could nod her head “yes” before she could shake her head or say “no,” “no” has, as with so many others, become a favorite word. Many times she’s touched an outlet cover, shaking her head and saying, “No no.” Sometimes we’ll find her saying “no” authoritatively to herself, drawing the one syllable out into something that could be preached from a pulpit, mouth round, the “o” long.

But thankfully, it’s not the only word we’ve heard. She identifies and sometimes can name body parts, including ears, eyes, nose (“no-no”), mouth, belly button, elbow, knee, and toe. She’s started saying “go” after hearing it over and over in Go, Dog. Go!: P.D. Eastman’s Book of Things That Go. Much like “no,” it’s not a syllable so much as a chant, a cry lifted above the crowd at a soccer game as the ball enters the net just above the goalie’s fingers in the time added at the end of regulation play. “Gooooooooooooooooooooooo”(al). She’s said “hard” after talking about the floor and the deep freezer, which her head has experienced first-hand, and “tight” after I squeezed her. We get “Mama” and “Dada” a lot, my favorite instances being upon her awakening. Reaching out and caressing our faces, she turns to me and says, “Mama!” and to him and says, “Dada!” in a tone so joyful you’d think she’d just gotten her birthday presents – and that they were exactly what she’d hoped for. I hope we continue to be a gift to her.

She can identify many things in books, even things we haven’t pointed out but have said, like “tuba” and “bus driver” and “mouse.” She’s a wonder, this one.

Lately, she’s made some good faces. She can do a fishy face, although it’s not always on command. Her newest is akin to a toothless old man: she wraps her lips around her teeth and then opens her mouth in an approximation of surprise. The effect is not attractive but comical, and we laugh every time, which only encourages her to make it more.

Today, she added to her skills again: she blinked. And she blinked again on command, a leisurely blink that conveyed her intention.

And that’s how I feel about her childhood. Recently, we had dinner with a father of two teenage girls, and we asked him if he was surprised that they were so old. “No,” he said. Startled, I didn’t know where to take the conversation from there. No? How could you be anything but surprised? What I do know is that these first almost sixteen months have gone by in the blink of an eye. Who knows what I’ll miss if I close my eyes for longer than that? I’ll leave the blinking to my little one. If you’re looking for me, you’ll find that I’m the one with her eyes propped open. I don’t want to miss a thing.