Tuesday, January 30, 2007

William's crib

The newly-lowered crib is a great place for William to play or read books (see above). It's not helping much on the nap front, however. The last week or so, it's been hard to convince William to take his regular naps. Sometimes, he does. Sometimes he naps, but only for 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes, he doesn't nap at all, and he gets mad that I even suggested it and he lets me know it.

So not only has our nighttime sleeping been sort of a wreck here lately, our daytime sleeping has been wonky, too. Ack. We're kind of tired around here.

William was never the world's best napper, but he was on a fairly regular schedule, and he had mostly stopped fighting it. I could count on a daytime nap around 11 or 12, and usually a late afternoon nap around 4:30 or 5. But all of a sudden, it's like he decided that naps are the Enemy. (Naps: the third pillar of the Axis of Evil. Details at 11.) Sometimes, he gets tired and sleepy, so I stand up to put William in the crib. But the instant he realizes what I'm doing, he screams bloody murder. He begins to thrash around, batting the binky out of his mouth, brushing my hands away and wailing like an air siren. The sheer amount of noise that boy can make when he gets all riled up...it's like Willasaurus Rex cloned himself and created a herd. He just won't have it. No napping. None. No sir. Only he expresses it at a much higher volume.

I don't know what the answer is. I guess I'll try to soldier on. I've heard that some kids experience sleep regressions at certain times. Maybe that's what this is. Maybe it's not. Who knows.

So William is willing to hang out with his books in his crib. He just doesn't much want to sleep there. But on the upside, at least William is really getting into his books these days. Sometimes I can put him down with a handful of books and toys, and he completely ignores the toys in favor of the books. Last night, William even "helped" David turn the pages of "Good Night Moon."

What can I say? I knew I had a smart kid. I mean, he may not be an early crawler or walker, and he may never be the quarterback of the football team or the star of the track team, but by George, he's going to be smart. He can turn pages! He can chew on a book! Already, if you just say the word "wave" to him, he will start to wave--without any visual cues. See? He can wave, too! He's a genius! I should go out and buy him a physics textbook!

Okay. Maybe I won't go that far. He can read one of his daddy's anatomy textbooks that we already have.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Escape artists and graham crackers

Look what I found when I walked into William's room today.

In case the picture's not very clear, it's a shot of William propping himself up on his knees and grasping the crib railing. He's studying the view and plotting his next move. The next step is figuring out how to stand up and launch himself headfirst out of the crib. Which hopefully we can prevent. David found the tools to lower the crib mattress, and that's number one on the agenda for tomorrow.

We've been lucky, very lucky, thus far that William's not hellbent on escape, the way some kids his age are. He's no Harry Houdini. Yet. But that golden era of immobility and its crucial correlary--his blissful ignorance that there's any other possibility--is coming to an end. In other words, William's starting to realize he might be able to get around by himself. And he's starting to experiment. And his daddy and I are starting to get nervous.

Well, the golden age was good while it lasted, anyway.


Here's a little series of photos I like to call Graham Cracker William.

I learned some very important lessons about graham crackers during this little episode:

Graham Crackers for Dummies Lesson No. 1: Graham crackers are tas-teeeeee!

Graham Crackers for Dummies Lesson No. 2: And, my God, they are messy.

Graham Crackers for Dummies Lesson No. 3: When soggy graham cracker debris dries on a small person's face, it is nearly impossible to get off, short of sand-blasting or the vigorous application of numerous baby wipes, which usually has the unintended effect of enraging the small person.

Graham Crackers for Dummies Lesson No. 4: Graham crackers have lots of sugar in them. Lots and lots of sugar, yum, yum, yum! A small, sticky, graham-cracker-coated person full of sugar is a very, um, challenging person to handle.

Graham Crackers for Dummies Lesson No. 5: Eh, it's worth it. Look how much fun we had! And besides, it's one of the many reasons God invented washing machines.

Friday, January 26, 2007

On Becoming a Mother

I have a couple of newly pregnant friends (who shall remain nameless until they're ready to out themselves). I am so excited for them. Nothing like knowing that your excellent friends are going to reproduce and bring new excellent people into the world.

They're experiencing the craziness of being pregnant, and I remember it so well. It got me to thinking back to when I was newly pregnant. Having an actual baby seemed like a very distant experience. I was pregnant, not about to become a parent. If you don't see the distinction, well, I'm not sure I can explain it very well. It means that I was narrowly focused on the completely new and foreign experience of being pregnant (and trying to survive being pregnant) and not on the fact that I was going to birth a small, wailing person who would consequently need round-the-clock feeding, comforting and diapering. I'm actually not sure I clued into that part until after William was actually here, now that I think about it. I was pregnant, I was nauseated, I was tired. The roller coaster of emotions also included happiness, eagerness, disbelief, apprehension, and anxiety.

But for awhile, it was mostly nausea. When you're resting your cheek against the cold porcelain for the fifth time that day and trying not to think about what else had touched that porcelain, well...you're really not thinking about cribs, strollers, bottles and good parenting techniques. At that point, I didn't give a darn whether we were going to let our baby have a pacifier or if we were going to co-sleep.

Later, I began the process of thinking about my self-identity. Who was I going to become when they handed this small bundle of baby to me? I already knew who I was, but I didn't know how Motherhood would fit into that identity. In fact, I think I struggled with it for a couple of months after William was born. Was I still the person I thought I was?

After I got over the shock of the sleep deprivation, after William got over the shock of being a new baby, we both started to get used to our new roles. Once our schedule normalized a bit, I started to feel more like myself, my old self. I just had a new dimension added onto that old self. You know how when you're young, you think that adults are all really, really old, but then when you become an adult, you still feel like you're about 12 years old inside sometimes? It's kind of like that. For awhile, I felt like a Bizzaro World Superhero: Impostor Mom! (Da da da da! It's a bird, it's a plane...it's a confused woman stumbling through the darkened hallway to reach her crying infant without smashing into any furniture! It's a good thing no one expected me to wear tights and a cape with my post-partum figure.) It took awhile for me to adjust to my new status. There was never really a definable moment, no exact hour that I can point to and say, "Then. That was when I really started to feel like a mother." It just sort of happened, and I realized it in hindsight. I started to notice it more when I realized that I was reacting to certain things differently (i.e. the dead baby on TV phenomenon), but it really did unfold gradually.

But I'm still me. Just a (new and improved!) me with an extra dimension. (With new super laundry skills!) I don't think I'd be happy with myself if all I was was Jennifer the Mother. I am proud and happy to be Jennifer the Mother, needless to say, but I'm glad that I've tried to also preserve those other parts of myself. A former editor of mine told me after I tearfully resigned from my old job that journalism is a lifelong sport. I'm counting on that. I'll get that part of me back eventually. That's partially why I'm writing here: to nurture the part of me who likes to write. (Of course, given W's wacky sleep schedule of late, I really should be napping, but oh well.) I read. I keep up with the news. I try to not bore David to death with William Talk when he comes home from work each evening. I maintain a couple of professional memberships and try to freelance as much as I can. I'm even giving a talk to some high school students next week on how I became a journalist.

Well. Now that I've gotten all introspective, I am going to have to shift into Uber Mommy mode. William is waking up from his much-too-short nap, and I must try to convince him that napping is really a good thing and that he should want more.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sleep, finally

We had a much better night here last night. Thank God.

We put the little prince to bed a little later than usual, after giving him a big sippy cup of formula after his last nursing session. And of course, he had a bath, and David allowed him to splash about a gallon of water all over his nice sweater. We got him ready for bed, and he seemed to be in a pretty good mood, which is usually a good sign. He was a wiggleworm, so it was hard to get him dressed in his pajamas, though:

I was so exhausted last night that I actually turned out my bedside light before David got into bed. Given that I'm usually the night owl and he's the early-to-bed one, that's a big sign.

I heard William cry out once, probably around 2:30, and I was suddenly awake. Tense, I braced for him to continue crying. But he didn't, and I eventually fell back to sleep. He didn't wake up for real until about 6:20. David's alarm clock had already gone off.

What a huge relief. I was seriously worried that we were not going to see a decent night's sleep come along again for a long time. I even worried that William was starting some new, horrible routine, and we'd have to break him of the habit. Even with everyone's reassurances that he'd probably be fine, I still worried.


On a completely unrelated note, here's William, "eating" sweet potato puffs for a snack:

Yeah, I just wanted to post some pictures. :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bleary-eyed again

We're having sleeping issues here. Again.

William used to be a pretty good sleeper. Most nights, he was sleeping from 8:30 p.m. 'til around 6 a.m. Sometimes, he'd even last until 6:30.

Then came Saturday night. He woke up around 1 a.m. and then again around 4. He was starving and inconsolable both times, and I ended up having to feed him. Repeat on Sunday night, with slightly altered times. Repeat on Monday night, only he was exceptionally hungry that night. He nursed around 12:30, then drank TEN ounces of formula from a sippy cup around 4:30. Then nursed again around 6 or so. Last night, he woke up screaming around 10. I went into his room to find him on his stomach, pushing up and screaming. I finally got him settled back to sleep without feeding him, but that only lasted 'til around 2:45. Once again, I found myself doing a middle-of-the-night feed. And he woke up before 5, too.

What is the deal? I mean, William is nine months old now! He shouldn't need to eat in the middle of the night. He's been sleeping through the night, with a few exceptions, for months now. This is insanity!

Because he had gastroenteritis last week, he didn't eat a lot for a few days. I even had a few nursing issues because he wasn't demanding to eat very much for a few days. But he has rebounded with a vengeance. So we are speculating that he is making up for lost time and calories. But I seriously wonder if he's really still doing that, and it makes me panicky to think that this might continue.

Dr. Perkins recommended that we wait it out 'til this weekend, and then try to resort to some type of sleep training routine. We really haven't had to worry about it because he was sleeping pretty well on his own. We had trained him from pretty early on to go to sleep by himself by putting him in his crib awake at night. And we don't usually pick him up or turn on the lights in the night if he fusses; we make the visits "quick and boring," as the books all prescribe.

But these recent nighttime wakeups are not like anything else I've dealt with in a long time. His screams are piercing, and it only seems to escalate, and nothing really quiets him down. Not even nursing is a sure bet. It's misery-inducing. I am tired. How on earth did I do this for weeks on end when William was new?

And for the record, no, he doesn't seem to be teething yet. So I don't think that's the culprit. I don't know what is going on. But I dearly hope that it doesn't last much longer!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Nine months old

By the way, William is nine months old today. He's been here on the outside as long as he was with me on the inside.

Who remembers when he used to look like this?

Or this?

This is part of an email that I sent to my friend and former editor Monica after I got home from the hospital...

"Well, I got to hear Marine One make its final descent into Twentynine Palms with the Prez this morning...from my hospital bed with the baby in my arms. Yep, William David Wyckoff decided to make an early appearance, rather than letting his mom rest up for awhile on early maternity leave. My water broke at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, and I went ahead and went to the hospital. He was born at 6:35 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, and weighed 7 pounds and about 12 ounces and was 20.8 inches long. He was born with his eyes wide open and alert, interestingly enough. Blonde hair and blue eyes. And I'm sure that I'm biased, of course, but he's awfully cute, too."


Remember that big list of Stuff Parents Need that I posted last week? It occurred to me that I left out one of THE most important products that a new parent can buy.


HBO's "Rome" started back up again last night. So did SciFi's "Battlestar Galactica." And "Heroes" begins new episodes tonight. We're looking forward to the newest installments of "Lost" and "Veronica Mars" that are coming up pretty soon. Not exactly shows you want to watch with a little person in the room. Especially if your little person can ask "Why? Why? What's that? How come?" and so on. (Not that ours can. Yet. Right now, he mostly just says, "Da! Da! Da!" But you catch my drift.) You just TiVo them and watch them later. Ta da! David and I are watching old episodes of "Northern Exposure" at night after William goes to bed, in addition to our TiVo'd new shows.

Remember the episode of "Sex and the City" in which Miranda's housekeeper breaks the TiVo remote, and Miranda gets all hysterical because she's going to miss her esoteric British serial that she is addicted to? "You broke TiVo?" she keeps asking, her voice rising each time. I understand that. TiVo allows me to at least attempt to watch a few of the television shows that I like. Plus, you fast forward through the commercials and hit pause if you get interrupted. I love this.

I've had other parents tell me that they TiVo "Blue's Clues," "Dora the Explorer" or "Sesame Street," and then dole those episdoes out to their eager children on an as-Mommy-needs basis. Yeah, you can say you never ever want your child to watch any TV ever, but if you say that, I bet you haven't had a toddler yet, right?

I am not being paid by TiVo to endorse it, by the way. Man, I wish I was, though. That would be all good. IF anyone knows anyone affiliated with TiVo, send 'em my way.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Just to let you know William's still alive, here are some photos that I took this evening.

He's been quieter than usual today, which means he's probably not feeling well. He really only perked up twice today: during the singing portion of his class at the Y this morning and when he realized it was bathtime tonight. Hopefully he'll feel better tomorrow.

See, this picture really captures more of his regular mood. This was taken on Sunday, before he got sick:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Baby paraphernalia, round two

Remember how last summer, I wrote about how I love to spread the Gospel of the Bouncy Chair to potential parents or gift-buyers far and wide? I got the chance to do so again yesterday at Ann Taylor. The best part: the mom-to-be's eyes lit up, and she said, "Oh yes! I so want one of those! I think my sister is going to get us one!"

Ah, that feels good, knowing that others will soon come to love the bouncy chair, too. Now that William is nearly nine months old, he no longer uses his bouncy chair. First of all, he's too big for it, and second of all, it would be boring to him at this point. So his basically just acts as a catch-all for all the debris that has no permanent home because they're in regular rotation: his jacket, his coat, the two or three hats he wears the most, the blankets that I throw over his car seat, a random pair of shoes, etc. In fact, you can't even really see the bouncy chair anymore; it's covered in stuff. But it's there, quietly doing its new job, just as you'd expect it to. We'll probably pack it away pretty soon, though.

But it got me thinking. Now that we're past the bouncy chair stage, new things have come to be the Must Have items in our lives. And I've discovered other things that would behoove all new parents to procure. Knowing some people who might find such a list useful, I thought I'd actually write this down. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, I am going to pontificate on such things here. Okay, in no particular order except for the first one.


The No. 1 thing that you will need, once you get beyond the real do-or-die basics like diapers, wipes, receiving blanketse, and onesies: A Philips head screwdriver. You heard it here first, folks. Everything in Baby Land seems to require this tool. I'm constantly prying off the back of the nursery monitor receivers to put in fresh AAA batteries. The back of the music box that came with the Pack n Play also has to be unscrewed. The swing needs batteries. The classical music box on the exersaucer. And even the sainted bouncy chair has a battery chamber that requires a screwdriver to get into.

Which is a nice segue to the reason fo the screwdriver: the batteries. Now, at one point, I had half thought I'd be one of those earnest parents who mostly eschewed battery-powered things in favor of good old-fashioned learning toys like blocks. Well, I still love blocks, and we do have a lot of them, but so many toys and baby items, including some downright cool ones, run on batteries these days that it's hard to avoid them. And in some cases (see bouncy chair), you probably wouldn't want to. So while William seriously digs playing with his whisk, his Mardi Gras plastic cup (Orpheus 2005, just in case you were curious), his blocks, and his strainer, he also happens to really love some of his toys that run on batteries. Right now, that includes his piano and his piggy bank. I think his brain will be just fine. Anyway, stock up on AA, AAA, C and D batteries. And get a lot, or spring for a charger and a couple sets in each size. Those monitors alone eat batteries.

What else? Well, it couldn't hurt to pick up a Fisher Price crib aquarium. William sort of ignored his for the first few months, but once he realized what it did, he developed a definite affinity for it. He can turn it off and on by himself, so it is ready-made entertainment--plus when we turn it on for him, it serves as a cue that it's time to sleep now.

The swing and the Baby Bjorn (spring for the kind with the lumbar support if you're over 30) were great when William was little (read: when he weighed less). He's spent a lot more time in his exersaucer (the Baby Einstein version) since he basically outgrew those. You all know that we call the exersaucer his "office," since that's where he gets down to the serious business of playing and making calls on his toy cell phone. It takes up a fair amount of floorspace, and yes it's a big old mess of brightly colored plastic, but it is worth it. Trust me. We throw his whisk, his strainer, a couple of rattles, and some other toys on there, and he's happy as a clam most of the time, throwing the extra toys off onto the floor and listening to them clatter around.

We love the Nuby sippy cups with the soft silicone spout, although I bought a new kind with handles by Gerber the other day, so we're going to experiment. I use a random odd assortment of plastic bowls and spoons to feed him with, so nothing earth-shattering to recommend there. But we didn't start using those until William was about five months old anyway, so those need not be on the new parents' radar, I'd think. Hmmm. What else....

Oh yes! They're not cheap, but oh, I love them. Robeez. Darling little soft leather shoes that actually stay on the baby's feet. Well, most of the time. William is devious: he manages to pull his off somehow half the time, and the other half the time, he just chews on his foot, Robeez and all. We have a royal blue choo choo train pair that he's about to outgrow, and someone gave us a gift of the navy blue baseball kind that we're about to pull out. I'm trolling for some new ones for the spring, too, but I can't make up my mind which ones to get. We did have a darling pair of brown Robeez knock-offs from Target, but William cough ate a big hole in one of them, so they've been officially retired. But for new babies, they're just decorative, not necessary. But heck, it's fun to dress up the new baby sometimes. You gotta live a little to make up for the middle-of-the-night feedings, right?

The lady in Ann Taylor asked me about diaper bags, and I realized that I never did find the Perfect Diaper Bag. We've used several, with varying degrees of success. I like the little Day Tripper bag by Lands End because it fits most of what you need for short jaunts during the day. Plus, it has a solid padded strap, and it's a black microfiber fabric, so it doesn't scream "Baby!Baby!Lookattheducksgeesesheepbearspuppieseeeeee!" I bought a larger version of it, but I hate it. It's huge and unwieldy. I carried it on the plane to Natchez last summer, and as I walked down the aisle, I accidentally whacked a few people in the face. I prefer not to carry a diaper bag that could double as a weapon. Your mileage may vary, of course. The current diaper bag in use is a black quilted Amy Coe number from Target that has these two little straps that allow the bag to hang from the stroller handles. In fact, that's why I bought it; I use it when I know I'm going to be using the Maclaren stroller, since that stroller's basket is so small. But you could probably just use a plain old backpack, and do just fine. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you carry plenty of wipes and a couple of gallon ziploc bags.

Diaper Champ versus Diaper Genie? This is only a useful debate if you're going the disposable diaper route. We have a Diaper Champ. It rules. No special name-brand read: expensive) bags required: just use regular old kitchen garbage bags.

And since we're about to make the transition to a new car seat, I'll touch on that, too. You've all probably read about the controversy over a recent Consumer Reports article on infant car seats. Another article came out this week, too, I believe, correcting some erroneous info in the first one. We have been very pleased with our Graco Snugride bucket seat, which always gets top safety ratings and isn't expensive. I'd totally recommend that brand to anyone. Plus, it's so handy to be able to carry the baby around in the bucket, stick the bucket in the stroller, and not have to constantly undo and redo car seat straps. I'll be sort of sad to banish it to the garage in the next few weeks, even though William has nearly reached the height and weight limits. His new Britax Marathon convertible seat arrived with the FedEx guy yesterday. Man, that seat is enormous. But it will be William's seat for the next few years, so we wanted a sturdy, comfortable one. Hopefully, I can fit it into my car. It only has to be rear-facing for three more months. I"ll have to give a review of it later.

So. Those are my off-the-cuff remarks. I know that some of y'all out there have opinions, too, and here's the place to post them. Add a comment and add your two cents. Stuff you love, stuff you hate, stuff you wished you'd known when you became a parent, or stuff you wish you had gotten. Or stuff you never used and think is a waste of money. (For example, we never bothered with a wipes warmer. I think it was Phuong who pointed out that the baby ought to just go ahead and get used to room-temperature wipes since who carries a wipes warmer out of the house with them?)

Opinions? I had to delete a spam comment below that was a "make money fast" come-on, but I would love to have real comments from y'all...

P.S. My screwdriver came from the toolbox full of tools that I've collected over the past 15 years or so, courtesy of my dad. The screwdriver has come in handy many, many times!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands

William has started to get the hang of this clapping thing. I noticed a couple of days ago that he finally opened up both hands when he brought them together. David and I have started trying to incorporate clapping into our interactions with him, and he studies us when we do it. He doesn't always immediately imitate us, but his clapping does seem to be getting more deliberate.

He's also getting very proficient in waving. He'll wave if you wave at him, but now he initiates a lot of the waving. He gets a big open-mouthed grin on his face if you wave back at him when he waves at you. Lots of waving and smiling. It's very charming. I'll give him an A in waving. Maybe even an A plus, since he has such verve and enthusiasm.

And all of a sudden, he's just started babbling up a storm. He has done a fair amount of "talking" in the past, but the amount just quadrupled a few days ago. It's funny how much his random syllables sound sort of like words. He says "Ha!" a lot when we say, "Hi!" to him, so we are pretending that it's just his version of "Hi!" And all day long, he's been saying, "Da...da....da...da." Needless to say, David loves that.

But the funniest is when he says, "keee...kaaa..." which sounds like, you guessed it, "Kitty Cat." So of course, we think that's what he's trying to say. This evening, he was in the tub, playing with his boats, when Smokey strolled into the bathroom to make sure David wasn't having more fun with William than he does with Smokey. William lunged toward the edge of the tub and said, "keeeee." Honest to God, it sounded like he was trying to say "kitty." We think that the cats are going to be the big impetus that gets him walking, too. The backwards scooting that he's doing right now just makes him mad, but once he figures out how to move forward--forward toward an unsuspecting cat---I think there will be no stopping him.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Plague, redux

Well, the plague is back.

William threw up twice last night, and once early this morning. So far, neither David nor I have succumbed to the evil that is the Winter Gastrointestinal Bug this time around. But give it time. David ran to the grocery yesterday and stocked up on Gatorade, just in case.

William has kept all his liquids down all day, and despite sleeping a lot more than usual, seems to be doing okay. So hopefully, this is the end of it. This time. And gosh, I hope David doesn't get the bug. His birthday is the 18th, and it seems like he's always sick on his birthday. It'd be nice to skip that little ersatz tradition this year.

In the meantime, to entertain and delight you, the public, here are some shots that I took on Saturday, before the Plague descended upon the House of Wyckoff:

William, wearing a fetching necklace of Fisher Price pop beads:

Boys in navy sweaters:

The king of all makeshift toys and a tried-and-true William favorite: the lowly household whisk:

More of the boys in their navy sweaters (it was bitterly cold here all weekend):

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A long-awaited dream

I'm still reeling a bit from disbelief. I'm a little giddy, in fact. William slept for...wait for it...almost TWELVE straight hours last night. That's TWELVE. Twelve! The big 1-2!

I never ever, in my wildest dreams, thought such a thing could happen. I remember my friend Mary Clare telling me about how her daughter Leland, who's about six months older than William, did that, and how glorious it was when it finally happened. And I thought, "Wow. William will never do that."

He actually slept until about 7:15 yesterday morning, and David and I wondered what was going on. When David crept into check on him, William just smiled and waved at him. Same thing this morning. David couldn't stand it any longer at about 8:30 (I was still luxuriating in bed--my own bed--at 8:30!). He went into the nursery to peek at William, who was playing with his Tigger toy and sucking contentedly on his binky. David is not sure if he was already awake, or if the noise of the door opening woke him up. But still! We last saw him at 8:45 last night, when we put him into his crib with his "Goodnight Moon" book.

And even weirder...William has been taking a nap now for an hour and a half. That's after a crazy long night of sleep.

I know that some sleepless nights do still lie ahead of us. William hasn't started teething yet, so I know that when that starts up, he'll be fussy. I actually dreamed that he suddenly got two bottom teeth, not that my dreams count for anything.

But overall...I love this age. I love having an older baby. William has a more predictable routine now, and I know what to expect, generally speaking. It was so hard when William was little and ate constantly and never slept for any extended length of time. I never really believed that it would improve, even though intellectually I knew that it would. And it did. And thank God for it, too.

And he's fun. William always thinks I'm funny. It's like having the world's best audience for your jokes. The easiest way to make him squeal with laughter is to suddenly say "I'm going to get you!" and then grab him and kiss him all over. He loves the "surprise." It doesn't get old, even after about a dozen times in a row.

He's just a happy little guy. Here are a couple pictures of him in the tub the other night. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say bathtime is his favorite time of day.

Every night David pulls him out of his tub so that I can wrap him in a towel, and we both say "whee!" That used to elicit a big grin from the little prince. But now he just looks vaguely dissatisfied because he'd rather stay in there and play with his bath toys (a Baby Lego ship and a boat with three stacking toys that pour water) and splash water all over his parents. If he could talk, he'd probably, say, "Aw, man." I guess we'll have to start bathtime a little earlier nowawadays so he'll have longer to play.

Friday, January 12, 2007


When I opened the blinds in William's room this morning, I was stunned to see very light flurries, almost a suggestion of snow, flying sideways through the air.

"Look, William, that's snow," I said, as he sat in his crib and cheerfully banged his hard plastic blocks together.

About 15 minutes later, I started seeing large wet flakes of snow. And I realized that the empty tree branches and rooftops of neighboring houses were taking on a distinct white cast. Real snow!

I picked William up and took him onto what passes for our front porch. "Look, this is snow," I told him. "Like the snow in our Snowy Day book. Look!"

William stretched out his hand and stared at the flakes, which were flying heavier and faster than ever. Finally he spoke. "Caaaaa!" he crowed.

Absolutely, kiddo. He knew it was something new and unusual. He knew the snow was something special. Unfortunately I have no pictures to commemorate William's first snowy day. We had to hustle off to the doctor's office, and by the time we returned, the sun had come out and melted all the snow. Oh well.

Here he is, wearing his warm clothes and his hat, having shed his coat, shoes and heavy blanket.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's just lunch

I've been going back and forth on whether to introduce a third daily meal for William.

William has been eating breakfast and dinner, in addition to his breastfeeding sessions, for some time now. We're down to four, occasionally five, nursing sessions a day, but William is eating a fair amount of food at breakfast and dinner. He typically has a big bowl of oatmeal or cereal plus a jar of fruit for breakfast. For dinner, he eats a jar of meat and at least one jar of veggies, sometimes two or else an extra jar of fruit.

But I can't quite decide if it's time to start giving him lunch or not. I've encountered moms who are serving their babies three meals a day, and I've also talked to moms who didn't introduce a third meal of solid food until much later. David suggested that perhaps I try giving him something like one serving of fruit or veggies for lunch, see how it goes.

I looked up a sample menu for babies William's age in our American Academy of Pediatrics book--the one with the reassuringly confident title of "The Complete and Authoritative Guide : Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth to Age 5." For babies eight months to twelve months, it recommends the following:

Breakfast: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cereal or mashed egg yolk, 1/4 to 1/2 cup fruit, and 4-6 oz of breastmilk (or formula)

(Check. We're doing good. Except that William gets his breastmilk an hour or two before he has his sit-down meal.)

Snack: 4 to 6 oz juice, 1/4 cup diced cheese or cooked veggies

(Snack? We're supposed to give them snacks already?)

(Editorial note: David's not big on giving babies lots of juice: too much sugar and extra calories. 4 oz a day, max. I don't even give William juice yet. He's had a little bit, diluted with lots of water, but he's not super-enthusiastic about it, so I rarely bother.)

Lunch: 1/4 to 1/2 cup yogurt or cottage cheese, 1/4 to 1/2 cup yellow veggies, 4 to 6 oz breastmilk

(We're waiting 'til W turns nine months old to offer yogurt. I guess the same goes for cottage cheese, although I hadn't even thought about that.)

Snack: 1 teething biscuit or cracker, 1/4 cup diced meat or cheese

(There they go with that snack again. Well, I know one thing: no more teething biscuits around here. I should have listened to my friends who warned that those Biter Biscuits are unbelievably messy. Boy howdy. I will probably let William finish up the box that we already have, but he's going to be naked or close to it before I allow him to eat them.)

Dinner: 1/4 cup diced poultry, meat or tofu, 1/4 to 1/2 cup green veggies, 1/4 cup noodles, pasta, rice or potato, 1/4 cup fruit, 4 to 6 oz breastmilk.

(Does that seems like A LOT of food to you, or is it just me?)

Before bedtime: 6 to 8 oz breastmilk or formula, and don't forget to wash your mouth out with water or brush teeth afterward.

(We already know about the teeth issue here.)

Of course, W is on the young end of the age spectrum for that menu, so we haven't gotten to all the foods yet. He's a good eater, though, and he's even gotten over his early aversions to things like bananas and apples, so it's not difficult to find things to feed him at all. I just want to make sure I'm feeding him enough, you know?

Er, not that he looks like he's in any imminent danger of starving.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

No, he's not crawling yet, and I'm okay with that

Allow me a few minutes to be cranky.

William is eight and a half months old. He's a great kid. He's curious, funny, a good sleeper (usually), a good eater, loves to laugh, and loves to play with his toys and books. He does not crawl yet. He can squirm his way backwards, or around in a circle, and he can get up on his hands and knees. He can even pull up to standing with a minimum of assistance. But he does not crawl yet. This is not a problem. With the current "Back to sleep" campaign aimed at reducing SIDS, it's not uncommon for those back-sleeping babies to not crawl in a traditional manner as early as stomach-sleeping babies did in the past. Some babies never crawl in the traditional way; they combat crawl or scoot around on their bottoms. So the fact that William is now crawling yet is not only not worrisome, it's not even unusual.

So I'm getting a little weary of the occasional random people acting either 1) superior or 2)falsely and irritatingly concerned for my child's development when I report (only when asked, mind you) that no, he's not crawling. No, he's not delayed, you silly fools. No, we're not worried. And you're just pissing me off by acting like he's got something wrong with him. Would you like me to cite the American Academy of Pediatrics on developmental milestones, or would you rather I just ring up my pediatrician husband on the phone and get him to talk some sense into you? Oh yes, and by the way, I wasn't an early walker, and I have a master's degree, so I think my son will be just fine, thanks.

These are the same people who act like it's a travesty that William doesn't have any teeth yet. Um, no. It's not a travesty. A, it's normal, and B, he's still nursing, so not having early teeth is nice for me. As my friend Beth points out, it all evens out, and no kid is going to be waiting for his baby teeth to come in when he's graduating from high school.

Now to be fair, I know lots of people who are perfectly nice when they ask questions about William. They don't act like their child is better for somehow having mastered a developmental milestone at an earlier age (see: Beth, mentioned above, my friend Jennifer, and numerous others). They're just trading notes, asking perfectly normal questions, and that's just fine with me. I learn a lot from those people, and I'm glad to have them around.

It's usually the people who really don't know me or William who use that grating tone of voice--you know the one:"He's not crawling yet??? Oh my goodness. Well..."

Grr. They make me all defensive. Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it that really matters.

So, friends, if you catch me using That Tone when asking a question about your perfectly normal and adorable baby, you just let me know so I can cut it out. Now, if you're doing something like giving your baby scissors to play with or a bottle of Red Bull to drink, I might have a hard time shutting up, but I doubt that anyone I know would do something like that.

All right. I feel better now. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

W's television preferences

A few minutes ago, I left William on my bed, surrounded by pillows so he couldn't roll off. I dashed to the bathroom for just a minute; I don't normally leave him alone on my bed because you just never know when he's going to discover a way off the bed.

But anyway, I came back to find that he had somehow grabbed the television remote control and switched channels. But he wasn't watching CNN or the Food Network or heck, even Sesame Street on PBS. No, my eight month old son was avidly watching "General Hospital."

And so it begins.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The role of Horowitz will be played by William

Baby Einstein, meet Baby Horowitz.

We finally started giving William his Christmas presents. This is him practicing his music lessons on his piano. We think he likes it. He still hasn't gotten his fire engine riding toy thing that we ordered from LL Bean. We won't be able to get away with this slacker present-giving in the future, so I guess we're just milking it for all it's worth while we can!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Random William news

Let's see...

What can I tell you on the Random William News front?

William recently bit the head off his George W. Bush toy. I found the decapitated head lying next to his exersaucer the other day. No word yet on whether this was some sort of political statement.

He has also decided that he likes to read in bed. Usually we read "Goodnight Moon" to William every night before depositing him in his crib. Earlier this week, he started clutching the book tightly, so we just let him take the book to bed with him. Last evening, he did cry out at one point because the book had slid down and was blocking his access to the row of spare binkies at the crib's edge. That could have been ugly. I mean no one gets between William and his binky buffet. But other than that potentially nasty little episode, he seems to like to have the book with him, and really, who are we to deny the little guy access to books, right? David said that when he checked on William early yesterday morning, William had both of his hands tucked behind his head, with his elbows sticking out, and his book down by his feet. I guess he got tired of reading it at some point in the night, and he doesn't have a nightstand to put it on.

Oh yes. On the developmental milestone front, William is learning to clap. This is fun. It's pretty funny, too. David likes to sing "If You're Happy and You Know It (Clap Your Hands)" to him, and sometimes William will swing his arms together like he's trying to clap. He hasn't quite gotten the hang of opening up both hands when banging them together--often one is clenched like a fist--but I think he'll catch on eventually. He's still doing a lot of waving, and oh my, his wave just cracks me up. So does his babbling. Sometimes, I swear he's saying "hi." That always provokes a flurry of "Hi! Hi! Hi, William! Hi!" from me. I guess that's the sort of thing that makes non-parents look at us parent types like we're crazy.

And William attended his first birthday party this week. I mean, it wasn't his first birthday; it was the first party for someone else's birthday. Our next door neighbor's younger daughter was turning nine, so she ceremoniously brought over a pink and purple Barbie invitation addressed to Ms. Jennifer and William. Of course we went. We bought a bunch of markers and drawing paper for a gift, too. William mostly sat in my lap or in his Bumbo seat, but he seemed to have a good time. No cake for him, which is sorta sad. I mean, isn't half the point of a party to eat cake? I guess his time is coming, though.

I say that a lot, don't I? Ah well.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reading time

There once was a young boy named Will
Reading gave him a thrill
He took his first look
And stuck his whole head in a book
that came from a store in Nashville.

Okay, no, I'm never going to win any awards for my poetry. I'll keep my day job...er, get a day job.

On a typical day, I try to read a few books to William right after we get up in the morning. We have a decent selection of board books, so I try to rotate them. He likes to scratch his fingers at the pictures and gnaw on the corners of the books, but as long as he's enjoying himself, I figure it's all good. He loves them. He has come to expect us to read "Goodnight Moon" to him every night, but he seems to love reading other books, too. Today, I pulled out Dr. Seuss' "The Foot Book," "Caterpillar Spring," and Baby Einstein's "Neighborhood Animals" and a children's bible.

I, big sap that I am, got all sad when reading part of one bible story to him. You all know how I am with editorial comments, so I'm sitting there reading the story about Noah's Ark to him and trying to not add on comments like "Well, actually, God was very angry at men for being bad, and oh yeah, he actually sent the storm that flooded the earth, and well, many scholars believe this is all an allegory anyway and it's pointless to look for an ark on a mountaintop." And then there's the creation story, and I wanted so badly to say, "Well, there are actually several creation accounts in Genesis. There's the account by the priestly writer, and the one by the yahwehist..."

But I resisted (mostly). This is supposed to be fun Reading Time with Mommy after all, not Dissecting the Bible for Babies. But then I got to the story about Moses. The story tells how Moses' mother feared for the life of her son, so she placed him in a basket and then put the basket in the river. Another woman, a princess, found him and raised him as her own son. The reason I'm a big sap is that I read the part about the mother releasing her son in a flimsy little reed basket into the river, not knowing if she'd ever see him again, and I got a little teary-eyed. I mean, we don't even know for sure how much of that story is true, but man, I'd never thought much about that part of it until now. The thought of putting William in a basket and sailing him down a river, even if it were to try to elude danger, well...let's just say that it wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that it gives me heart palpitations. And why doesn't the bible tell you more about how Moses' biological mother must have felt? What ever happened to her? Did she ever get over the loss of her son? Did she find out what really happened to him? Did she have more children? Why, why can't we know more about this? Think how helpful this would be to regular old readers; it's the sort of thing we can relate to.

Is that one of the things that they never tell you about parenthood until you experience it yourself? Suddenly you have a whole new take on things that you've never really given much thought to, and sometimes it's disturbing? Like I can't watch television shows that have dead babies or babies in serious danger. It makes me upset. I think about how I'd feel in that situation, and my whole stomach clenches up and presses itself into my diaphragm, making it hard to breathe.

The other new, much more mundane thing that I've recently experienced as a result of parenthood is tendonitis in my right wrist. I've been wearing a splint on it for a couple of weeks. See, the books tell you things like oh, you'll lose a bunch of hair after the baby's born (nope) or it'll take a while for the weight to come off after you've given birth (yes, but it did eventually come off). No one tells you that you might get pains in your wrists and lower arms from constantly lifting a heavy baby. I mean, yes, when you spell it out like that, it sounds perfectly logical. But it had never occurred to me. Where's my worker's comp, huh? Seriously, I should write a new-parent book and include all this stuff. Maybe somebody, somewhere, would benefit from it.

Edit: At the behest of my father, I went back and reread the beginning of Exodus in the real bible, not the kiddy version. Turns out that the pharaoh's daughter allowed Moses' real mother to come nurse and take care of baby Moses, so she at least got to be with her son again and know that he grew up just fine. That makes the mother in me feel much better. I mean, it's still lousy that this other woman got to call Moses her son and be his mother, but at least his real mother got to be part of his life while he was growing up...and more importantly, she didn't see him for the last time when she put that basket on the water. The kiddie bible should have added that part for nervous moms like me; after all, who do they think is reading this stuff to their kids?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

David and I woke up this morning just before 8 a.m. and realized that we still hadn't heard from William yet. I had heard him mutter once around 7, and David said he heard him cry out once around 6, but I guess both were false alarms.

I mean, the last time we really heard from him was when he looked like this:

(Okay, we did wake him up, give him a short bath, feed him and then put him back to bed. And David did give him some grape-flavored Tylenol around 12:30, so I guess technically, William rang in the new year almost on time. But I think that's just a technicality.)

We trooped into his room about ten after eight, and there, wide awake in his crib was the little prince, smiling up at us and churning his legs. He was in a pretty darn good mood for having skipped his typical 5 or 6 a.m. morning feed.

We all piled on the couch together in a cozy bundle of pajamas to watch the Rose Parade. Then I slipped back to our room for a minute, but even down the hall, I was able to hear the following conversation that David had with William:

"It's not 2006 anymore. It's 2007," David told William. "It's not the year of your birth anymore. It's 200. It's a time for new starts, new resolutions."

He continued, "My New Years's resolution is to exercise more...maybe yours could be to learn to walk. That would be a good New Year's resolution, wouldn't it? And maybe to learn to eat big people food. What do you think about that?

When I came back in the living room, David informed me that William's resolutions also included "learning to talk" and "cutting back on his binky addiction."

Sounds reasonable to me. Since William has four resolutions, maybe I won't make any. I'll just help him work on his. I pretty much gave up on resolutions years ago anyway. You know that old saying "Know Thyself?" Well, I know myself, and I know myself has no business making resolutions that I'm not going to keep.

So, resolution-setting over and decided, we settled in to watch the parade. When the mayor of Pasadena came onscreen, the cameras showed a close-up of the mayor waving. William studied the mayor closely and leaned forward. Then he began to wave back at the mayor. For the next few minutes, every time the camera showed someone waving, William waved right back. Isn't he clever? I wonder what he'd think of a real parade, not just one on television...

Too bad he's too little for one of the best New Year's Day traditions: eating black eyed peas for good luck. I ate some extra ones for him, though.