Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sad News, Happy News

First some sad news. Dianaverse's dog Daisy has been diagnosed with Addison's disease. Daisy's a very sweet dog and has been a great friend to Dianaverse and to e-baby. Please send some healthy dog vibes her way.

And the happy news- Happy first birthday, c-baby!! We are sending you lots of love and virtual birthday cake!! I can't believe it was only a year ago that I was walking around Macy's pillow department and got a call from your mom that It Is Time. I am so glad you are one of our girls and e-baby, SNG and I love you very much!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sixteen Months and The Nixon

E-baby turned 16 months old yesterday, and I haven't done one of these What's New posts in a long time, so here's what the Queen of Everything has been up to the past two months or so.

As I started on this, I realized that there's no way I can begin to list all the stuff that's been happening with this child. A friend told me that at 15 months, all sorts of new cognitive and social processes come into play. I probably had to know that for a final exam once upon a time and immediately drowned the knowledge in a margarita at a Scott St. party. This is definitely an exciting time. Four months ago SNG and I watched an infant shift to a toddler. Now we see a scientist, an explorer, a chef, a veteranarian, a rock star. It makes me wish I could videotape every cute thing so I could return to it someday and remember how funny these times were.

* Language: She picks up new words like they were M&Ms. Between the sign language and the spoken, she can say or sign around 80-100 words, and she understands much more, but it is hard to estimate at this point. The only trouble is that you can't always understand what she's saying, and sometimes she gets a little confused. Example- she learned the word and sign for snow the other day, but the next day pointed at a bottle of ranch dressing and said "snow!" Apparently the lesson learned was the color white = "snow."

* Fine and gross motor coordination. Spoons, forks, drumsticks, buttons, knobs, and other things that were kind of tricky to manage a few months ago are getting much easier now. Bigger tricks like climbing a stepstool to reach something, climbing onto furniture, and playing on the slide are also getting pretty easy for her. That means I've got to be careful not to put anything tempting up on those fun-to-climb bookshelves. The greatest barrier to success now is that pesky gravity.

* New games:
Lots of role-play. To me, the most noticeable change this month has been in the role-playing behavior. E-baby feeds her dinner to the stuffed animals that share her table. She puts them to bed and she tells them "night night!" She shares her pacifier with them, and they have their own blankets. Bigger dolls hold and rock their baby dolls to sleep. Smaller dolls go for rides on small toy cars. Bikes and boats drive all over the coffee table, and they go "vroom!" If I seem sad about something, she brings me a toy to make me feel better. I'm sure that it's related to the "lying to mommy and daddy" trick as well, since these are all aspects of developing empathy and understanding the perspective of other people. To me, that's the most fascinating part of the last few weeks.

Copycat. If I take a bite, she takes a bite. If I take a drink, she takes a drink. If I jabber on the phone, she jabbers on the remote control. If I go around the house picking up things, she picks up things.

Housekeeper. She will throw away anything we ask her to. She loves to blow her own nose (which is bizarre and funny), throw away the tissue, and tell me "thank you!" She learned this trick awhile back, but now I can tell her to throw away anything I give her and she'll oblige.

Animal noises. She can imitate the sounds of cows, horses, dogs, cats, sheep, and I forget what else.

Body parts. She can find any body part on herself, any person, or any toy. And she might decide to find your nose-- waaaaay up in there--- when you're in the middle of a nose-free activity, like paying at the grocery store.

Monster in the closet. She stands in the closet and says Boo! over. and over. and over. and over.

CRAZY face. E-baby has started making this maniac-neck-muscles-tensed-lower-teeth-bared face that probably all toddlers eventually learn. It sometimes comes on with such intensity that she'll shake a little. It's the most hilarious thing EVER. She does it just to make us laugh, usually when I ask her if she's cold. It makes me laugh so hard I snort.

The Nixon face. If she's suspicious of a person or of a situation, she gives The Nixon. She has become famous at daycare for the serious intensity of this face, but it was her Grampy who coined the term "The Nixon."

About 2 months ago I was having trouble keeping track of all the new words and signs she was using, and I didn't want to forget when anything funny happened, so I started keeping 3x5 cards in the kitchen to make note of anything new that was happening. In the last few weeks she's changing so fast that I can't even keep up with the cards.

Perhaps the only people who will find this post interesting are the grandparents, but this blog is as much as anything a way for me to keep track of things that are happening for posterity. Or for posteriority, as I like to say. Right now e-baby is sitting next to me having a complicated and serious conversation with the iPod cable. I'd better make sure they keep it peaceful.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tucked Away For Winter

Starting around Thursday or so, the weather reports have forecast all kinds of winter weather for Raleigh, with the most likely devastation arriving today. Yesterday we were warned about Friday night rain followed by 1-3" of snow Saturday morning, followed by highs around 30 and lows around 10. This would result in lots of black ice on the roads until the temperatures rise above freezing again, which is forecast to be Monday or Tuesday.

In North Carolina, if winter weather is forecast, the schools close a day early in anticipation and there is a mad rush on the grocery stores for bread and bottled water. Three years ago, in a very poorly planned midday closure of the schools, frantic parents and, well, everyone else, sat in traffic for upwards of 12 hours to go a few miles to get their kids from school or just get home. This was primarily because of panic by the schools and local employers, because the minor snowfall should not have sufficed to wreak that much havoc. In fairness, there was a terrible snowstorm about 8 years ago that knocked out electricity and most options for transportation for over a week, leaving people in hotels with no food because the restaurants had run out or the workers couldn't get to the hotel to prepare it, and that was only forecast to be a couple of inches. Then there was the ice storm about 4 years ago that took down power lines and trees leaving behind $millions in damages and electrical outages for over 2 weeks in some areas (I hesitate to admit that we had power back within 12 hours. Oh, living on the hospital's power grid was so nice). There was also the miserable pair of F-hurricanes (Fran and Floyd) in the 90s made clean water hard to come by for a lot of residents. You can't blame people for taking precautions.

Still, it seems to be a teensy bit reactionary that people just clear the shelves of milk, bread and water and stand in long long lines Heck, even people in Austin were less concerned about forecasts of ice and snow. Well, OK, snow is never forecast in Austin. Ice and sleet.

So back to my story. Yesterday we were low on dishwashing detergent and powdered buttermilk (don't ask), but knew better than to try to hit the grocery store the night before a forecast of 1-3" snow. Instead, we ate breakfast and scuttled out the door at 9:00 this morning to get our groceries (luckily we keep 5 gallons of bottled water in the garage, since the grocery shelves were, in fact, cleared). SNG and I agreed, if we were going to be holed up indoors for 3 days, we'd better make soup and bake some sourdough bread. So chuck is on the counter burbling away with his fresh lunch of flour and water, and I'm hunkered down over a hot bowl of chicken-vegetable soup with wild rice and fresh rosemary. It is still raining, but little chunks of snow have mixed with the rain. It's 35 degrees and I still have my doubts that anything newsworthy will happen. Chuck should be bread-ready in another 2-3 hours and by then perhaps we'll have some pretty snow that I can take a picture of.
Edited to add:

Edited again to add:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


This post is not for the squeamish.

Sometimes when people find out that I travel for work, they make a comment about the luxury of staying at fancy hotels and eating in fancy restaurants. I've pointed out that expensive hotels are often just as dirty as cheap ones, but this is often met with skepticism.

And then you see something like this. (And don't miss the followup videos linked on that page)

And then you realize, "Hey, that's the hotel I stayed in the last time I was in Atlanta!" $209 a night.

And then you think about the time you came home from DC with fleas. $299 a night.

And then you remember the time you found a suspiciously smelly brown smudge on the bathroom wall in Chicago. $319 a night.

And then you remember the time you found marijuana in the couch cushion in Nashville. That place was actually pretty cheap, like $99.

And the countless occurences of curly hairs in the bed, suspicious-smelling towels, the list goes on.

Superbug spreading in hospitals and daycares? Maybe it only takes the hospitality industry to bring public health to its knees.

Thanks to my mother-in-law for sending the video links. I'm staying in a hotel in Memphis this week, so pardon me while I go buy some bottled water.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Other E-word

My recent insomnia has been put to rest for awhile. It was a combination of things, really, one of which is something that I should have recognized: the other e-word. The one that has allowed me to sleep and keep serotonin balance for so many years, the one that used to be the central focus of many of my blog posts. Exercise.

It occured to me last weekend, as SNG and I trudged up a hill on bikes, e-baby in her trailer behind my bike, that I had not been exercising regularly since the weather turned cold about a month ago. I can't bring myself to put e-baby all Siberian-styley in her baby jogger when it's 20 degrees to jog to work. Over the holidays, there was just so much going on that we never got out for a workout. We have a big gym at work, but the daycare hours are pretty much my work hours plus 15 minutes to drop off and pick up the baby, so there's no time for a lunch workout. It was beginning to feel like there was some sort of conspiracy against my exercising! Gr. Arg.

This week we put e-baby into early care every day so that SNG could drop her off. That freed me to jog in the cold weather alone, and he left the baby jogger at my office on his way. I'm surprised how much fitness I can maintain when all I'm doing is chasing a toddler, so the running hasn't been too hard. Slow, but not hard. But most of all: sleep! Yaaaaaay, sleep! All but one day this week I slept until the alarm clock went off.

Other stuff- Next week I'll be teaching in Memphis, then home a week, then teaching in Hartford. If anyone knows of fun things to do in either place (besides trawling the Graceland gift shop) let me know.

So that was perhaps one of the more boring posts ever. Sometimes you just gotta dig deep and write about something.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Well, It IS An Important Thing To Learn, I Suppose...

E-baby told her first lie yesterday.

The Backstory: Like many toddlers, e-baby is addicted to her pacifier. I've pretty much limited her use of it to the carseat and bedtime, but even her doctor has noted that she's had a strong need to suck on something since birth, so it's not surprising that the girl will not give it up without a fight. One of her top-ten signs right now is pacifier. This week she was recovering from horrendous diaper rash, with every diaper change being very painful, so it just seemed the humane thing to let her have the pacifier ("chupon" in our house) when she had to have a poopy diaper change yesterday afternoon.

After the aquaphor and a new diaper were applied, I took away the chupon and she criiiiiiied, and signed pacifier and said "pon! pon!" but I told her that she didn't need it right now. We went downstairs.

The Mischief: Less than five minutes later, she went up to SNG and signed change diaper. She's been learning this concept of signing when she needs a new diaper, so he asked her whether she needed to change her diaper and she signed change diaper again, but the look on her face was clearly "I'm up to something!" SNG, always the slave of his brown-eyed-girl, carried her upstairs. She spotted the chupon, picked it up and ran back to the stairway. Her giggling clearly said "Heee! I got you, sucker!"

The Analysis: Learning to lie is an important part of development because it not only requires understanding the difference between "me" and "you" but it also requires understanding that "my knowledge" can be different from "your knowledge." Sounds simple, but it's really pretty complex stuff. She won't really have an idea of other people's perspectives for years to come, but this little "trick" on her part was fascinating. My only disappointment is that it worked: she came downstairs with the chupon. :-)

All of this brings up an interesting question, to which I don't have a good answer. To what extent should I be imposing limitations and when should I just let things go? This was a very important question when we had dogs, and it was SO EASY to answer: if you don't want your dog to do xyz or some variation of xyz when it is an adult dog, then humanely nip the behavior in the bud as soon as you see it. The problem is that my child is not a dog, and I don't really want her to grow up responding to my every command. Also, some of the things I wish she'd give up, like the chupon, will work themselves out in time anyway. No way will her friends let her have a pacifier at her first sleepover. So should I fight it now? Another case in point is mealtime behavior. Lately, e-baby HATES her highchair and would prefer to eat at her small table in a chair. I see this as a natural progression and don't mind indulging her, but so far she sits, eats a few bites, gets up to play, and wants to take her food with her. I don't want her wandering around with a fistful of crackers. If I take up the plate, she misses the rest of the meal. Eventually she'll learn that she has to stay seated if she wants to eat (just like at daycare, where they have the same policy). But the question arises again-- do I really need to fight this battle? Or should I just insist she stay in the highchair longer? Won't there be a thousand other battles to fight that are more important?

Dogs were so easy. But none of my dogs knew sign language.