Thursday, March 30, 2006

White's Bite

Ada is teething again. She's drooling more, she's spitting up again, and she's biting me again. For some reason, the first thing I think when she nips at me (other than OUCH!) is "it's the White's Bite!".

White's is a boot brand popular with firefighters and cowboys. In fact, I know about the brand from Chris's cowboy uncle, who owns a pair. Uncle Cowboy and I don't see eye to eye on, well, on pretty much anything, but he does offer a glimpse into a world that I would not know otherwise. (The fact that this happens to be a totally sexist, Republican, anti-environmentalist world is sort of a bummer for me. I take heart in the knowledge that he's only related to Chris by marriage.)

I should take back that statement about not ever seeing eye to eye with Uncle Cowboy. There was that time during the Clinton administration when we both agreed that the president wasn't our favorite. (To him, Clinton was way too liberal, to me he was not liberal enough, but we did agree for about 3 seconds.) Also, I enjoy telling jokes to Uncle Cowboy, especially when they are risque or otherwise run counter to how he sees me. And then there was the time we talked shoes.

About the shoes: White's are very expensive, but apparently also very durable, comfortable boots. Well, comfortable after a while. Uncle Cowboy told me that he'd wanted a pair of White's for a long time, but for years was too poor, and then too cheap, to shell out for them. Finally he got a pair, and was excited to get his feet into these legendarily comfy boots. But they weren't comfortable. In fact, Uncle Cowboy found wearing the boots was excruciating. And after he'd paid so much for them! He went back to the merchant to complain and get his money back. When he got to the boot shop and told the guy his tale of woe, the salesman laughed. He told Uncle Cowboy, "You got the White's Bite!" A very confused Uncle Cowboy was then told that OF COURSE the shoes hurt. He hadn't yet followed the process to make the boots fit to him. The salesman told him to fill a tub with water and, wearing the boots, step into it. Get the boots good and wet. Now get out of the tub and keep the boots on. Until they dry. Sleep in them if you have to. (this is the part that cracked me up, thinking of this fireplug-shaped aging cowboy lying in bed with his damp White's sticking out from under the covers.

Uncle Cowboy was skeptical, but he tried it. (The store wouldn't take the boots back, so he didn't have much choice.) It worked! The boots molded to his feet, and suddenly became super comfortable to wear. It sounds so good it almost makes me want to get a pair. Almost. What does this have to do with Ada and her teeth? Nothing, really. This has just been on my mind lately, so I thought I'd share it with you. What, you'd rather I posted four paragraphs on the toothmarks on my breast? Never mind, forget I asked.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

I met a ghost, but he didn't want my head,
He only wanted to know the way to Denver.
I met a devil, but he didn't want my soul,
He only wanted to borrow my bike awhile.
I met a vampire, but he didn't want my blood,
He only wanted two nickels for a dime.
I keep meeting all the right people -
At all the wrong times.

-Shel Silverstein

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Milk mustache

Chris and I have been fairly conservative about what we feed Ada. Despite the fact that she took to her first foods immediately and enthusiastically, we have held back on adding too many new things too quickly. (Oh yeah, that was going to be a neutral statement, nice job there NLgirl.) Lots of people feed their kids all kinds of things early, and that's fine for them, but we were being slow. Until today.

I blame my friends. Our east coast like-parents-but-without-the-emotional-baggage-of-parents friends were in town Sunday. (How great of them to make a side trip to see us in Portland, when their main trip is to LA for a conference. Plus they brought gifts, and not all of them were for Ada! And they took us to dinner and were generally fun and entertaining to be around. They are the best non-parents a gal could ever hope for.) Fran was saying that she fed her (now grown with three children) daughter an Awful Awful when the child was 8 weeks old. She survived, right? Better even, the daughter is now a tenured professor at a prestigious east coast university with a good women's basketball team.

The awful-awful was on my mind later in the day when Ada and I met up with Ellen and Monkey-boy for a walk to the park. All day I'd been craving sugar, but I wasn't sure what I wanted. Maybe I was just thirsty. No matter. We were in the park around quarter to five when Ellen says, "Let's get ice cream cones before dinner!" Who am I say no? Especially to Ellen, who is much more health-conscious than I am. When she wants to feed her toddler ice cream before dinner, I pretty much have to go along. Plus, I wasn't worried about Ada, who hasn't had cow's milk (other than yogurt, which she hated). I knew I wasn't going to give my 9 month old ice cream, much less right before I walked her home for dinner and the bath-bed routine.

Yeah. Well, I wasn't going to give her ice cream. But apparently that rice cracker I offered her, when compared to the beautiful, beautiful ice cream Ellen, Monkey-boy and I had in our hands, it just didn't measure up. Thinking the girl was getting fidgety because she was tired, I picked her up. Oops. She went right for my cone. Once she got it in range, she dove for it, spreading chocolate all over her face in a wonderfully (and stereotypically) infantile way. I pulled the cone away, but having gotten a taste of the good stuff, Ada screamed in horror at the loss. Luckily, there was some vanilla on the table. It was Monkey-boy's, but he'd tired of it. Which begs the question, what kind of kid signs "all done" half-way through a scoop of ice cream? Apparently not mine. She sucked down several spoonfuls of Monkey-boy's abandoned treat.

Before Ada could scale the counter and jump into the ice cream tubs, I prepared to flee the shop. But first I swore Ellen to secrecy. Except she had already snapped a photo of the girl scarfing some vanilla, so I knew I could not count on this being "our little secret." I knew J would see the picture, and since I don't currently have anything with which to blackmail him, I doubted whether I could keep things under wraps. Knowing this, I came home and immediately told Chris about my transgression. He was elated (no doubt thinking of all the ice cream he'll be able to eat and blame on Ada forcing him into...)

Well, Ada's baby book certainly will be complete. First smile, first roll, first elicit ice cream before dinner. All in all, a banner day for Ada and mommy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Boy Boy Boy Boy Boy Girl Boy Boy

Ada's friends are all boys, and I like it that way.

Monkey-boy, Henry, Pawie, Dylan! and Leo all make her laugh; she loves their antics and is truly amused by whatever they do. Much of Ada's wardrobe comes from Monkey-boy. Her shoes are his hand-me-downs, she wears his old jeans and red shirts, along with all the pink things everyone gave us before she was born. I love that she is around boys who goof off for her, bring her toys and do whatever they can to make her laugh. As she grows she will engage them more, playing and exploring her world with them.

Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I don't like girls. I'm thrilled to have one. It is just that when we spend time with girls at playgroup, I feel surrounded by a sea of pink. Worse is the feeling that the parents (ok, the moms) appear concerned about their girls being girly enough. There is a weird undercurrent of gender patterning that makes me uncomfortable. At one playgoup a mom said to Chris that a particular toy was a great plaything, "you know, for a boy." What? How is a ball not a good girl toy? Kids - babies - Ada's age don't know or care what physical sex they are or what the rules are for their gender. I know there are some innate differences between girls and boys; I have seen them in action. But why teach kids the "rules" so early? Ada has some great clothes, and I'll admit to caring about clothes myself. But every time someone coos over her outfit I cringe a little. I hate the idea that she's learning that clothes are what people think girls should care about, that being cute is important.

I think I worry about this - especially the focus on the importance of "cuteness" - in part because I was never cute. I was a huge child, the tall gangly brown haired, brown eyed girl with the long weird limbs sticking out of too-short pants. My childhood best friend was short and adorable, and people were always telling her that. I was jealous that she got so much attention (and that I didn't) for something neither of us could control. I am fairly sure that Ada is going to be a big girl too. It has been not quite nine months, but she has not dipped below the 90th percentile for height yet. I'm tall and her papa is 6'5". It seems inevitable that she'll be tall and that her growth will happen early.

Cute is over-rated. Cute doesn't help you reach the top shelf, cute doesn't let you see over people's heads at a rock club. Sure, cute can get you noticed, but it can also teach you that attention is something you get for reasons having nothing to do with your brain or your heart. I want Ada to run with the boys and throw like a girl. And I do think Ada is cute. (Ok, I think she is fucking adorable.) But I don't want her to think that I love her because she's cute. I don't want her to worry about cute at all.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Flying is for people who want to let it all hang out. Invisibility is for fearful, crouching, masturbators.

-man interviewed for This American Life story on Superpowers

Monday, March 20, 2006

Walking with Ada

Now that Ada is getting bigger (at our trip to the doctor today she weighed in at 19.5 lbs!), wearing her on my front is getting less practical. I take lots of walks with her in the ergo carrier. I carry her on my back, which is very comfortable. The down side is that with her on my back, it is hard to see her, or for her to really see me. That's where the camera comes in. Friday afternoon was sunny, so Nonlinear Papa and I took Ada on a walk on Mt. Tabor. (Oh how I love that Portland has a volcano within its city limits!)

On Sunday I was carrying a small mirror, which let me see her, and kept her entertained between dog sightings. The past week or two, Ada has fallen in love with dogs. It started with Henry's dog, but now all dogs make her shake with excitement and exclaim "ooh, ooh!" I try to make all walks pass either the big park near us or the local elementary school yard, both of which are chock-full of dogs.

In all of these pictures Ada is all bundled up against what passes for cold around here. Not today. The first day of spring did not disappoint - warm and sunny, a great day for walking with the girl. It was so nice I forgot to take pictures.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

I'm sick

Sick sick sick. Bleh.

Whatever Ada has, she's shared it with me. Just in time for her to be looking a bit perkier.

I'm fine as long as I sit in one place, but I get a queasy the moment I stand up. I can make it up the stairs, but the thought of standing at the sink to brush my teeth is a bit daunting. Maybe I'll sit on the tub edge.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Girl By Any Other Name

Maybe it is too late to worry about this, but every so often I get weirded out about using my family members' names in blog posts. My husband has already made it clear that he'd love to be nonlinear papa, so that's easy, but my gal is another story. What to call her online?

Some of my friends call her Junebug, owing to her birth month. But maybe that's too close to
Sweet Juniper. Plus, now that the girl has a nanny named Juniper, that could be too much June in one blog. She's AJ to another friend. That has potential, but it isn't the most exciting moniker.

At home I call her Bunny, but CityMama's been calling her daughter that since before my gal was born. I call the girl "Loo" a lot too, but again, that name's in use online. Before she was born we used "the peanut" exclusively, but that one's taken too. I wouldn't care if I didn't read these folks' blogs and know the nicknames they use, but now that I do I would feel weird using one of those names here.

At home we also call her Muffin, but I'm not sure I'm crazy about it as a bloggy nickname. Spoken, it sounds sweet and loving. Written it looks stuffy, east coasty, too close to Muffie. Might just as well call her Pinkie.

Calling her "Morebanana" is a bit of a mouthful. Maybe "earlygirl"? That one appeals. She was born early and is a fan of the 5am wake up call. Plus, we often make plays on her name, calling her Lemonada or Sweet Tomata, so the reference might be nice.

What do you think? Any suggestions? Or should I just not worry, and continue to shout my daughter's name from the electronic rooftops? Advice please.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

The fact is, if a mammal sees a free cookie in front of it, the mammal is going to eat that cookie. The mammal will nibble away at it bit by bit as it drinks coffee and reads Gay Parent magazine, until finally it looks down and is surprised to see an empty plate. This is how mammals survive. Science has proven this.

-Carol Kalb, The Cookie Wars

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fever Pitch

Ada is sick. Yes, I know everyone is sick. Until now, I have felt a bit superior in my girl's non-sickness. I generally don't get very sick and I was hoping I'd passed that on to Ada. When everyone at my job or all my friends are hacking and coughing, puking and feverish, I am usually only afflicted for a day or so. After that I get weeks of runny nose, but compared to several days of vomiting or a week of chills and fever, I'll take the snot.

While it still remains to be seen if Ada will take after her mama in the cold department, she is sick now. When I picked her up for her 2:30 am feeding, she was burning up. I was worried, but she fell right back to sleep after nursing. She woke again at 5. And 5:30. Since then, she's napped three times. (As I am getting ready to post this, she's had 5 naps.)

I feel terrible for Ada; she obviously feels awful and doesn't know why. I am trying to cuddle and soothe her as much as possible, and have been thinking about the kind of caretaker I want to be to my ailing child. Namely, I want to do things differently than my mother did.

I love my mother. She is great is many ways; she's loving, smart and funny. She is efficient, which is mostly great, but less than appealing when one is a sick child. She thinks that acting well can banish your cold. As kids, my sister and I were not allowed to remain in our pajamas (much less, stay in bed) when we were sick. We had to get up and try to get into our regular routine. This may have been her way of rooting out "false" illness brought on by a desire to stay home and play Chutes and Ladders, or more likely the result of her real belief that illness is surmountable by sheer force of will.

I should note that my mom is not a Christian Scientist and doesn't believe that God will heal her, she just doesn't like to be sick. Sure it feels bad, but worse, it is inefficient. Efficiency is my mother's science and practically her religion.

My sister and I joke that we were only allowed to stay home if we were dead. If we were only kind of sick, we got sent on to school to infect our classmates. If we were really sick we went to work with my mom. Going to my mom's office was kind of fun - there were lots of colored pencils, reams of green bar paper and big chalkboards to draw on, and a cafeteria filled with foods appealing to a sick child, like ginger ale and chocolate pudding. But there was no place to curl up and the fluorescent lights were grating on a headache. What I really wanted was to be at home in my pjs.

My mom's way makes some sense. Getting a sitter at the last minute can be a challenge, and why encourage children to try to get out of school? But sometimes a little sympathy, a little "sit in my lap and lean against my chest while I rub your back" helps when you are sick. Ada has shown a distinct desire for that kind of thing today. Between naps and nursing, she's sitting on my lap a lot more than usual. These days Ada wants to stand more than anything else, but today it is too much effort. She really wants to curl up on my lap while I coo softly to her, and I am happy to make that happen. I can't make her un-sick through force of will any more than my mom was able to do it for me. But I've got the infant tylenol, and I can hug her and sing.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Notes from the Nonlinear Lab

Ada likes most food. I know that one day she may refuse everything but potato chips, chicken and rice, but for now she loves pretty much everything Chris and I feed her. Bananas, yes, applesauce, sure, but she also devours squash and can't seem to get enough beets.

Even though she loves a lot of foods, Ada must have preferences. If I could get a reply to the question I currently only ask her rhetorically, "what should I get you to eat?", what would she say? Actually, I kind of know the answer. Even though she can't speak, Ada does express her love for certain foods through her continued interest in a given food at a single meal. Things she merely likes she'll get bored of after a while. Foods she loves she'll continue to cram into her mouth until the supply runs out. Even then she sometimes indicates she wants more by theatrically swiveling her head all around to suggest that she knows I've hidden banana behind her or under the highchair and if she could just find it . . . Using this metric, two of her current favorites are yam and avocado, cut into small cubes for her to pick up and pop in her mouth.

Knowing that she is crazy for both yams and avocado, I started to wonder which one she loves more. Again I face the question, how to "ask" Ada. If I put a piece of avocado on one side of her tray and some yam on the other, she'll go for the one that is on her right side. If I put them both in the middle of the tray with one in front of the other, she'll likely take the closer one. I hit on the idea of holding both chunks in my palm, not touching but close to one another.

Seeing my outstretched, treat-laden hand in front of her, Ada expressed her preference. She took both.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Titles for baby books I'll never write

Don't Dance In Your Poop, And Other Advice for Infants

Chew This Book!

The Runaway Carrot

Eat 'Til You Choke, Laugh 'Til You Barf

Diapers Are For Suckers

Every Sign Your Mother Taught You is Wrong (the book THEY are glad you can't read)

Diary of a Pear-Faced Girl

Kiss Kiss, Burp Burp: An Infant's Guide to the Movies
(apologies to Pauline Kael)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I had my first full day of work today. Very exciting! Well, exciting if you are a health policy wonk. Which is to say, it was pretty boring. But - on my way home, I made a discovery. The butt-end of a BMW x3 looks just like a Stormtrooper mask.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

'Sometime Mr. Mudd kill. Sometime Mr. Mudd not kill.' That seemed to me such a wise, such a sage philosophy.
-John Malkovich

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

If only it was just that once

This afternoon I needed caffeine and Ada needed to be outside the house, so we took a stroll to our local couches-and-wifi cafe. (Not to be confused with our best-coffee-in-town-but-too-jammed-with-hipsters-to-sit-around-in-with-a-baby cafe.) Despite myself I like this place. It has a dumb name, but is spacious, friendly to kids, has decent snacks and is only a little further from our house than the really best coffee.

I walked Ada up the street (past the for-sale sign in front of the insanely overpriced run-down cottage on a major street). At the cafe I got a cup and snagged a couch. I alternated drinking and flinging Ada around to keep her from getting too fidgety (read: to keep her from screaming). Cup emptied, I packed up the girl and headed out. About a block down the street I noticed a little breeze at crotch level. Yes, once again I'd left the house with my fly unzipped.

This is getting to be a problem. It used to be that when I used the bathroom I could leisurely pull up my pants, wash my hands, scrutinize my increasingly grey hair. No more. Now a good bathroom trip involves smiling at and waving to Ada as she laughs and babbles commentary from the next room. When she's not in such an accommodating mood, the girl yells (something about how I'm ignoring her, that she's neglected and will never be happy again). Afternoons are particularly hard - Ada is more likely to be clingy later in the day and resents my desire to pee with a modicum of autonomy. So sometimes I forget to zip. I've got a belt, so my pants aren't sagging.

These lapses are starting to erode the facade I've constructed. You know, the one that suggests to the world that I am a competent person and casually put together dresser. Something must be done.

My new plan is to add "check fly" to my leaving the house routine, which currently runs:

  • dress Ada in warm sweater or fleece jumpsuit;
  • run around looking for her shoes;
  • find shoes and put them on her while she struggles to pull them off and eat them;
  • put on my shoes, rain jacket, sling or ergo carrier;
  • hunt around for keys, wallet, baby hat;
  • put hat on Ada and show her what we look like in the mirror to make her smile;
  • exit house and lock door;
  • remember that I've left radio/lights/oven on and re-enter house;
  • fix problem, exit house and lock door;
  • pull hat out of Ada's hands and put it back on her head;
  • remember that the netflix envelope is sitting on the coffee table;
  • re-enter house and retrieve envelope;
  • pull envelope out of Ada's mouth;
  • exit house and lock door;
  • walk purposely away from house before I can remember something else I need inside.

This scenario is pretty consistent, except when I wear Ada in the ergo-carrier as a backpack. Then I am guaranteed to forget to put Ada's hat on until I already have her in the pack. At that point, I can't reach her head and must hope that I run into someone who looks amenable to helping me. (Not everyone is a candidate. A pleasant-looking young woman visibly recoiled from me when I approached her last week. I think she thought I was going to ask her if she'd accepted Jesus as her personal savior. Or maybe if she'd like to buy a healthy white baby.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I am so lucky

Getting pregnant was a literal and figurative pain in the ass. Once I got pregnant, things got a lot easier. I had a fairly easy and healthy pregnancy (I can count on my fingers the number of times I vomited), my labor was short and attended by people I love, and Ada has been healthy and developing normally. Despite the many sources of happiness, it is easy to forget how amazing these gifts are.

A few weeks ago, Chris and I were given a reminder of just how charmed our lives are; we learned that the baby born to one of his colleagues was having seizures and other problems after a complicated birth. It is not clear whether the problems would have shown themselves no matter what, or if delivery-related oxygen deprivation injured the child. It doesn't matter. The child was born compromised and was not expected to survive long. After struggling briefly in this world, this newborn died today.

Just today I'd sent Chris to work with a note for the parents, to let them know that we were thinking of them and available to help in whatever way might be needed. Chris told me that the child died, and when I responded that we are so lucky, he told me, "Yes we are. I've been near tears all day thinking about how much I love our daughter."

It is too hard to think about all the scary and horrible things that can happen, so we push them aside and take our daughter's perfection for granted. I don't want to be someone who can only focus on the bad things that could happen, but neither do I want to forget how amazing it is that we have her. Today I will not do that. Today when my beautiful 8 month old wakes from her nap I will scoop her up and hug her and tell her how much she means to me. I know in response she'll blink at me and try to stick her fingers up my nose. I feel so very, very lucky.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

I ain't no bozo,
I wish I was though.
That man's a frickin' genius!

-the vandals