Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

plate o' shrimp

Several times recently, just when I am thinking a lot about something, I read someone's blog post on the same topic. My life is colliding with other people's blogs.

(1) She may SUC but her son was pretty cute

I think I met Bridgermama's SUC mom. I was early for Book Babies, so Ada and I were hanging out reading board books on the floor of the library's kids section. This woman plopped down next to us with her (admittedly very cute) boy. Ada loves looking at other babies, so that was cool, but then the third degree began. It was just as Bridgermama described it - the direct questions posed in an aggressively intrusive manner. How old is Ada, how big, what skills does she possess . . . Luckily we were interrupted before the chest-thumping could begin. (Ok, so the mutual grooming was nice.)

(2) Well, there was that month of "It's getting hot in here. . ."

Child's Play x2 posted on The Blogfathers about songs that get stuck in your head. He thinks he's got troubles. At least he's singing inane grown-up songs. For days I have had the following baby-ditty stuck in my head:

Everybody knows I love my toes,
Everybody knows I love my toes . . .
I love my eyes,
and my ears,
my mouth and my nose.
But everybody knows I love my toes.

This little gem was so firmly wedged in my brain that Saturday, even after 5.5 miles of skiing straight up Mt. Hood (gasp, wheeze, phoo-ee, snort), the whole way down I sang it aloud to myself. I'm lucky I cross-country ski. We had the trail all to ourselves, so no one else was infected by this horror.

(3) No, not jealous. Derisive and condescending, sure, but not jealous.

Mama M wrote about a Baby Talk article on mothers feeling envious of other moms. Although I admit to the occasional "how does she do all that?" twinge, like Mama M I am mostly pretty happy with my momself. In fact, rather than feel much mom-envy, I find myself perversely curious about the lives of people who have made very different choices from my own.

Such anthropological leanings took the girl and me out to the 'burbs last week for a play group. I know the host a bit and am fascinated by her strangeness in my world. I admit it, I was dying to see her house, to see how she lived. Why did I feel the need to see all this? Why do I feel smug and superior? Not my prettiest side, I know. This is a perfectly nice woman who obviously loves and takes good care of her child. I don't get this way around most people, but somehow when I am faced with women with whom (despite our mutual fruitless efforts to "connect") I share nothing more than the fact that we gave birth around the same time, I get ugly. I think maybe my foolish disappointment that meeting people who are in my same general situation doesn't guarantee shared experience or interests makes me extra snarky. I'm ok with being a touch misanthropic, but I should probably try to be a bit less judgmental about people who have chosen lives so different from my own.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Open Letter

to Lee Ann, the prospective child care provider who completely blew us off last weekend:

When we talked by phone, you agreed to come over at 10:30 on Saturday. I explained about the weirdness of our street and how to get there from your place. You seemed enthusiastic and sweet.

Chris was feeling a little sick on Saturday, but at 10:15 I pried him out of bed so that he could get dressed and brush his teeth before you arrived. But did you show up? No, you did not. Not at 10:30, not at 11:00 when I called you to see if you'd gotten lost or forgotten the appointment. Not later that day.

Oh, but you called, right? No, you did not. Now, you might have gotten another job offer in the mean time, or you might have fallen into a sink hole on your way over. There are many things that could have kept you away. A call would have been professional. Even if you did forget, or decided you didn't want the job, common courtesy fairly well demands that you call. Lie to me: tell me that your brother was crushed by bulls in Pamplona and you'd had to hop on the next flight to Spain. You caught a flesh-eating virus and your fingers fell off before you could dial my number. You were hit on the head by a blunt object and this caused a sex-mania that forced you to move to Baltimore. Whatever, I don't care. You just should have called.

Don't advertise your man?



(Turn away now if you are averse to "I love my husband" posts.) Before Ada was born, Chris took good care of me. He read all the books on labor and delivery, even when I was still in denial about the process. He got obsessed with the idea of me getting "high quality protein" and cooked whatever I wanted to eat. He made it clear that he loved my pregnant body.

Now that Ada is here with us he continues to be amazing and thoughtful. Like cooking dinner 3 of every 4 nights. Like doing his share of dishes, diapers, middle-of-the-night Ada soothing. Like reminding me that I should get out with friends. Like looking at me in that way that lets me know that he's still into me, 15 years after our first Valentine's dinner. Like not complaining too much when I snuggle up to him with icicle toes and fingers. And so much more.

Despite what Sippy Wallace said, I can't help telling people how great Chris is. I feel so lucky to have found him early. He was great when we met, and he just keeps getting better. I love you, Chris. Happy birthday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

At the Hollywood Trader Joe's


Oh, and Lorenzo gives speeches. Lots and lots of speeches. It's like a police investigation run by the Toastmasters.

-Mike Russell, from his scathing review of the film Freedomland

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'll have the club sandwich

There is such a "club" for mommies. Now that I am part of that club, I understand why it exists, and I love my membership. Moms deserve the support they enjoy from others who share their experience. It is great to talk to friends and read in mommy-blogs about the amazing, exasperating, frightening and hilarious things our children are doing. But for years I wasn't part of the club, and I resented that I was an outsider and that others were enjoying being in. Although I wanted nothing more than to see those twin pink lines on a pregnancy test, month after month I was disappointed to find I'd started bleeding again.

I am back-posting some old journal entries I wrote when Chris and I were trying to get me pregnant, getting tested to figure out why our efforts were not working, and undergoing assorted medical procedures that ultimately led to me getting pregnant. Although I wrote the entries for myself (and most were never shared with anyone) by the summer of 2004 I started to talk openly about the fertility problems Chris and I were experiencing. Once we knew what was wrong, I felt more able to share my experiences beyond my closest friends. Getting more certainty about the cause of our infertility (if not the likelihood of overcoming it) made me want to let others facing this frustration know that they weren't the only ones without membership in the club.

At times during the years of unsuccessful attempts and medical interventions I felt really alone. Even though I knew that tons of other people were going through the same thing, my self-pity was pretty strong. When I did tell people about our problems, it was amazing how often I heard back that someone had faced similar problems, or that their sister/cousin/friend had undergone tests/taken hormones/faced IVF. It meant a lot to me to hear this from people, but I was frustrated that I didn't hear about these people until I brought it up. So I kept bringing it up. I still talk about it, and think that doing it in person is ultimately more meaningful than sharing it online. Often when I looked online for evidence that I was not alone, I often felt worse after reading the sad and frightened words of women facing infertility. Once people were successful, they often disappeared into the excitement of pregnancy and beyond. I did not find many people posting about the struggles and the successes. Maybe those women didn't want those of us still trying to feel jealous or resentful. I wanted to post my thoughts on the hard part, from the vantage point of a happy outcome. I feel so lucky that things worked out as they did - we got Ada, who is better than I could have hoped for.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fathership Connection

Did I mention that Parliament used to totally put Ada to sleep? Scratch that. I meant, it still totally puts her to sleep. I had a meeting this afternoon (related to the job I am starting next month, but more on that later) and Chris came home to hang out with Ada. I got home around 4 and heard Ada complaining upstairs. It sounded like "I'm awake from my nap so pick me up", so I went upstairs and got her out of her bed. I could see Chris's legs on our bed in the other room, so I figured they'd both napped and he wasn't up yet. Well, apparently he'd just put her down and she was just whining a bit. Oops. Oh well, she and I played for a while. When Ada started to get a bit crabby, Chris put on the Parliament and started dancing her around. Like the "old" days, within 3 songs, she's out.


So is he.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week



"Love is mysterious and rad, like Steve Perry from Journey."
-Diablo Cody

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oh Won't You Take Me To...

Or, My Geekiness is Genetic

My father has an amazing memory. He knows tons of poems, song lyrics, etc. When I was a kid, he used to bust out with a Keats verse he'd memorized in college, or sing Fats Waller songs to me. (Your Feet's Too Big is still a favorite.) This ability to memorize served my dad well in med school and makes him a useful resource for all kinds of arcane information. But any super-power has a dark side, right? He's also memorized tons of old advertising jingles, and they come spilling out of him at the least provocation. My childhood was filled with these ditties - for Jello pudding, Ipana toothpaste, Hoffman soda, and - BrylCreem!

Sadly, I don't share my father's fantastic memory. Despite this I have somehow committed to memory the jingles used by numerous companies - mostly slogans from THE NINETEEN-FIFTIES. Very useful information that no doubt has pushed from my brain the ability to recall names, the memory of whether a recipe called for a teaspoon or a tablespoon of baking powder, and the ability to remember mail that bill that's been sitting in my bag for a week.

This week I've had the following bouncing around my head:


BrylCreem,
A little dab'll do ya.
Use more only if you dare!
But watch out,
The gals will all come to ya,
They love to run their fingers through your hair!

As a side note, eww. BrylCreem is a thick pomade that gives the wearer a "wet look" (think Rudolph Valentino, or George Clooney's character in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?). Not something I'd want to snuggle up to, thanks.

Since Ada's been teething, we've been seeing a lot of drool. This has inspired me to sing the following:

Drool Girl,
A little drop'll do ya.
How nice that it's spit you want to share!
And watch out,
The babies will all drool on ya,
They love to rub their spit up in your hair!

This thing I do with Ada, this is not new, nor is it just me. My family (especially my mom, but my dad and sister too), we can not help ourselves. We compulsively change the lyrics to songs and jingles so that they fit the situation at hand. It is sick and odd, but it has helped me get through some dark days. Most recently it helped me manage Ada's colic days. (Though "days" makes it sound manageable, like a long weekend in a bad motel. "Months" is more accurate for the summer of scream we recently survived.)

During this special period, Chris and I were in a constant search for anything that would calm our crabby peanut. For a while, Ada loved white noise in various forms, including the exhaust fan in the kitchen, radios tuned to static, and metal drone/feedback bands like Earth. Although I wasn't sad to see that period go, when the old standbys started to fail us, we flailed around for something to replace them. That is when we learned that Ada loves Motown. We have a CD called Motown Remixed that worked wonders. Jiggling her to the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder cuts was especially effective at bringing her out of a screaming fit.

It was also during this same period that we learned that Ada loves herself some P-Funk. We figured this out when I started sing (to the tune of Parliament's Give Up The Funk "we want to burp, gotta have those burps". This worked well, so we slapped on a Parliament CD, and within three songs, Ada had fallen asleep in Chris's arms.



For several weeks, I sang along with every Parliament song we own, replacing "funk" with "poop" or "fart". It worked wonders during Ada's intense 4-6pm cranky time. Our collection of Atlantic Records R&B worked well too, as long as we fast-forwarded through the slow songs. As amusing as I found it to turn that Otis Redding song into "I've been holding you too long", the tempo didn't do it for miss cranky-pants.

Lately I've been singing that Brothers Johnson classic "get the poop, out your pants...get the poop out your pants" (to the tune of "Get the Funk, Out My Face") Works wonders for distracting myself and the girl during diaper changes. I'm also not above crooning "Oh Won't You Take Me To, Poopy Town". In the bath we routinely make up lyrics to "Rubber Ducky", based on the body part we are cleaning (Rubber Ducky, I wash my hair, even though, there's not much there). Ada seems to enjoy the singing, despite my horrible voice. But to be honest, even when she specifically demands that I stop singing, I don't know if I will be able to do it. Lucky for me, that day is years away. Think of all the songs I can butcher in the meantime!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For Stephanie, who reads the blog for the photos:

Beet Eater or Vampire?




Ada at Play


Monday, February 13, 2006

Someone needs to learn that "I could just eat you up" is an expression

After months of chewing and drooling, Ada has a tooth. It showed up a couple of weeks ago and didn't immediatly change her life in any way, but it just changed mine. The past couple of days Ada has been biting me.

A few months ago I came across some advice in the Dr Sears baby book. When the baby bites your nipple, pull her in close to you. With her face up in your breast, the baby won't be able to breathe without releasing the death grip on your nipple. Baby releases, mom is spared further pain. It seemed so reasonable - smother your baby! Actually, it did look like a good idea, because if you follow your instinct and yank the kid's head away from you, you are likely to suffer as she locks her jaws to hold on. I was all ready. I've even told other people about this idea. But that was all before Ada started using me as a chew toy. My problem? (Ok, my problem OTHER than the obvious "Nora is Ada's teether"?) Ada has a cold. She can barely breathe while nursing anyway, so my attempts to stop the biting by giving her a "breathe or chomp" choice turn out to be not so effective. This morning she bit me multiple times, each time then looking up at me smiling. Very funny, baby. In case I ever had any desire to say "bite me" ever again, that desire has been drained from me entirely.

I wish I had something funny to say about this, but Ada's new interest in nibbling has not brought out the best in me. This morning was particularly bad, in part because Ada woke up Chris and me at 1, 2 and 3:30 AM (this last time refusing to be soothed and instead complaining for an hour until we finally gave in and I brought her into bed to nurse at 4:30). I know she's sick (and given all the drooling - and did I mention chomping? - teething), but I am so much less sympathetic when I don't sleep. Chris is a bit better, but then he gets to go escape across town during the day. (All he has to worry about at work is whiny students complaining about how they "need" an A in his class.) I know that the struggle to respond lovingly to your child, even when she is being incredibly annoying, is one faced by many parents. Chris and I have talked about the fact that as Ada gets older she will become increasingly attuned to our moods and the way we express them around her. I am very easily moved to tears, and I worry about the impact that my tearfulness could have on my daughter. When I am tired it is harder to respond with love to Ada's unbending demands. My goal is to feel love for her even when she's refusing to be soothed at 3 AM. Although this isn't an entirely realistic goal, I am trying to think of the advice of a Buddhist friend that we try let the negative flow over rather than through us. This kind of advice used to make me laugh. Now I appreciate the suggestion. I know I won't be waking up at 3 AM forever. Maybe I can let this experience flow over me until it is past me.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sign of the Times?

Ada knows what she's doing. Or rather, when she's doing.

Chris and I are trying to teach Ada signs. I say "trying" because I knew when we started this that it might be a while before we saw results. I figured that I was entertaining myself, even if nothing else came of my gestures. We started with the most basic signs for things we do with her every day. So the first signs we showed her? "Change" and "more". "Change is our diaper changing sign, and we use "more" as a question about whether she wants more applesauce, banana, squash, avocado...

Ada pretty quickly understood what we meant when we signed and said "change your diaper", since the words and sign happen consistently right before we take off her diaper. Well, that and the fact that we are repeating this scenario no less than five thousand times a day. In addition to her comprehension being evidence of some actual gear-movement inside her little head, Ada learning this sign has helped calm her when she's fussy on the changing table. Sometimes I put her on the table or floor to change her and she's tired or annoyed at me or whatever (see, who KNOWS what's going on - maybe she just doesn't like the paint in in the side room.) When I make the sign, Ada stops fussing. Of course, if I am too slow to finish up the change, she picks up her bitching again, but I can only ask for so much from a 7 month old.

For the past few weeks Chris has been convinced that Ada not only understood the sign, but that she was making it. Knowing that every parent wants her (or in this case, his) child to be brilliant, I was skeptical. But now there is no denying it. She's definitely making the sign. A lot. In addition to making the sign whenever she has a bowel movement, she is also helpfully letting us know when she's peed. Which, as I said, is a lot. About ten minutes after I nurse her, Ada starts with the grabby hands and gives me a proud look like "Hey, guess what I just did?" She's proud, I'm proud.

Lest I get too excited about my clever child, I should admit that not only is she not making the sign for "more", she seems not to really know or care what I am doing when I make it. She generally responds to my question/sign with frantic open-mouthed whines that suggest Ada not only wants more but can't understand why her mom is so cruelly withholding that delicious squash when she is clearly wasting away right in front of said hand-waving mom. For a while only bananas and applesauce were worthy of this reaction, but recently she's decided that pretty much all food deserves this treatment. Well, except for that one thing of processed baby food I bought as an experiment. So she may not be getting the "more" sign, but at least she prefers home-cooked squash to that grey "mixed veggies" crap. Even organic crap is still crap.

So maybe Ada's just scatalogically inclinded. Just in case, I am going to stop reading Dooce aloud to her.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Enjoying that February Break in the Weather



I love Forest Park. It is the nation's largest park in a metro area, and has over 40 miles of trails for walking and biking. I have had some great walks there with Chris, Karen and Ellen. Chris and I took a long walk there and talked about how to deal with our fertility issues. My parents and Karen strolled slowly with me when I was 8 months pregnant. I've seen cool birds, a fox and lots of spiders and other insects. On one walk with Ellen, she kept stopping to move slugs off the trail. Yes, slugs.



When the sun finally came out last sunday, Chris and I agreed it was time to take Ada there. The record rainfall we've received really shows in the park. Balch Creek is rushing and the flora is busting out all over. Ada seemed to enjoy it too. Or maybe it she was just excited by the snack I brought along for her.



At least she'll know where she got her neuroses

Every time I talk to my parents (which is weekly), my mom asks how Ada is sleeping. Since she got into a night-time groove a few months ago, Ada mostly sleeps from early evening until about 2 am. She wakes up, I feed her, she goes back to sleep. There is some variation - sometimes she wakes up later, sometimes she wakes up a couple of times - but in general this is our pattern. It is one that has felt fine for the most part, except after I talk to my parents. After our weekly chats, I start to worry that Ada's not a good sleeper. My concern fuels conversations with Chris about whether Miss A is really hungry, or maybe just waking for a little mom time. I start to obsess about whether I should DO something to break her out of this. I feel unsettled and concerned, even though I felt fine before the call.

(Even worse, as much as I'd like for all three of us to sleep through the night, I know this night feeding is a limited-time deal and that I will miss it when it is no more. I love sitting in the dark with Ada: feeling her warm body against me; looking out the window to see if the light at Stark is red; drowsing and thinking about who might be out driving at 3 am. In a strange way getting up in the middle of the night makes me feel more a part of my neighborhood. This summer, as I woke with Ada every few hours during the night and heard people walk by our house in the middle of the night. It felt like a secret club, with membership secured by Ada's birth.)

Last week I talked to some other moms who breastfeed. This is Portland, so it shouldn't be a surprise that many of these parents co-sleep. (We tried, but when our little shuddering, thrashing bundle of joy kept us up nights while she soundly, if acrobatically, slept, we decided we needed her in her own bed.) These moms report waking several times a night for nursing, and I started to feel confirmed in my sense that Ada's waking isn't abnormal at all. My mom's obsession is.

When I checked in with my parents, my mom asked how things were going and I told her what I'd been thinking about - that her inquiries were making me crazy, but that Ada's continued waking was not. Mom took it pretty well. She said she only asks because she thought it was bothering me. (a little weird, because what is she doing, poking around in what she thinks is my open sore?) I suggested that I'd like it if she just assumed Ada was waking at night until I told them things had changed, and they agreed to back off. Now if I could just get them to stop asking about whether she's started to enjoy tummy time for more than 5 minutes at a stretch.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I smell a winner

Two of the books in heavy rotation at our house are Bill Martin's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and the "rollicking companion" Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?. Ada really enjoys these books -both looking at the pictures and chewing the pages. After 2,000 or so readings of the books, Chris and I were wishing for a third in the series - something to mix it up a bit. Although we couldn't hope to compete with Martin's work (much less with Eric Carle's art), we did come up with an idea for a third book. Introducing (with apologies to Bill Martin):

Stink Bug, Stink Bug, What Do You Smell?


Stink Bug, Stink Bug,
What do you smell?
I smell a wet dog,
shaking near me.






Wet Dog, Wet Dog,
What do you smell?
I smell a dead rat,
lying near me.






Dead Rat, Dead Rat,
What do you smell?
I smell a musk ox,
shedding near me.





Musk Ox, Musk Ox,
What do you smell?
I smell a striped skunk
spraying near me.






Striped Skunk,
Striped Skunk,
What do you smell?
I smell a rotting fish,
decomposing near me.





Rotting Fish, Rotting Fish,
What do you smell?
I smell an guinea pig
scrabbling near me.




Guinea Pig, Guinea Pig
What do you smell?
I smell a Tom Cat,
marking near me.



Tom Cat, Tom Cat,
What do you smell?
I smell a Ferret,
scratching near me.





Ferret, Ferret,
What do you smell?
I smell children...


Crushing a stink bug,
hugging a wet dog,
poking a dead rat,
teasing a musk ox,
scaring a striped skunk,
grabbing a rotting fish,
fondling a guinea pig,
ruffling a tom cat,
bathing a ferret.

That's what I smell.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pregnancy, the series

Two years ago, when my friend El was pregnant, she spent a lot of time sick and tired and not up for much more than hanging out on the couch. This was a change for this very energetic woman whose daily activities tend to run from 'find amazing priceless artwork at Value Village' to 'plant 700 bulbs' to 'walk to Mt Tabor and back 3 times'.

But back to her pregnancy days. El was tired, and watched a lot of Tivo'd programs. She got really obsessed with American Idol. At the time, Chris and I were living next door, so every week I'd march over to indulge in the horror with them. (I don't know what number season it was, but this was the year that included Fantasia and William Hung. El, Gee and I got more into this show than we liked to admit - El was on the phones the moment the show ended, trying to make sure that her favorites stayed in (she practically had "I heart La Toya London" tatooed on her expanding belly). All I can say is thank goodness they had Tivo. How much worse would it have been if we'd had to watch the show with commercials? I don't even want to think about the ads that are pitched to AI's target market.

Although all three of us were definitely into it, El and I especially were enthralled. We talked about how lame John Stevens was, and wondered about the future of American girlhood if he was so appealing to them. As obsessed as we were, it was a short-lived love. After that season of American Idol finished, I never watched the show again. I really have no desire to see it, and the days I was excited for the program feel hazily far behind me. Hey, everyone has a skeleton or two in her closet.

The television season after monkey boy was born, I was pregnant. (Oddly, on almost exactly the same time frame as El had been - my due date was within a couple of days of monkey boy's birthday.) Instead of watching more reality TV, Chris and I got deeply into Deadwood. We don't have cable, so we had to scrounge episodes from friends. We watched the second half of the second season saved on Gee's old Tivo before he sold it on ebay. We could not get enough of that show, and I'm still addicted. This year we'll be trecking the 7 blocks over to Casa El/Gee to watch it with them, or without them, if need be. Why else would they have given me a key to their house, unless they wanted me to sit on their couch and watch HBO?

This is really a great series, and I am thrilled that I can now share my obsession with my sister. She had her man got Chinese bootlegs from some friend and have been watching the disks obsessively with their friends. While she was visiting we spent a good 45 minutes on the HBO website poring over plot synopses, costume notes, actor bios. Actually, the plot synopses are great, since sometimes it is hard to tell exactly what has just happened at some critical moment, due to the characters' faux-archaic speech and mannerisms. This is especially a problem if, like me, you tend toward multitasking - tv and sudoku are one of my current favorites.

This year, Z is pregnant. Again on the same schedule. (weird, huh?) Housebound as we are most nights, we often have Z and Mike over for dinner. It is a great arrangement; we get a social life and they get dinner. Well, and our brilliant company. When they first moved back to town, Z and Mike were telling us abou this show that a friend had gotten them hooked on - Project Runway. This reality tv program is about clothing designers, and is interesting in large part for what the designers make in response to challenges to create an outfit for Barbie, lingerie, whatever (oh crap - in looking for info on the website about other challenges, I accidentally saw the winning dress from an episode I haven't watched. Oh well. It looks like a cool challenge - "garden party" is the theme. I'd tell you about the dress, but pretty much the only one reading this blog is my husband, and he's obsessed with the show too.) The year I was watching Idol, before I walked next door to El and Gee's, I'd ask if he was coming. He almost never did come over, and I think he was proud of not sinking to our trash-tv level. But this year? He's way into it - way more than you'd expect from a straight guy who for many years thought jeans and plaid flannel shirts were the height of fashion. To be fair, over the years he's developed a good eye, and he contributes to our group critiques of the runway portion of the show. Plus, he LOVES to randomly bust out with host/supermodel Heidi Klum's "you are off the program" tag line: "Auf Wiedersehen". He loves that almost as much as he loves sending me text messages that say: "Ach, Mein lederhosen!"

I love watching this show with Z and Mike. It isn't just the fun of indulging in trash tv with other people, that feeling that you can share your love of something lowbrow and cheesy without worrying that talking about it will make people laugh or look at you like you've just professed your firm belief in the benefits of an all circus peanut diet. What I love more is spending time with Z and Mike in their last pre-baby days. When the four of us lived in Chicago, we lived two blocks apart and used to spend a lot of time together. Z and I worked together, but we also socialized a lot in a very unstructured way that was so relaxed and open. We sat on our porch grilling and drinking beer, we ate breakfast out, watched movie, wandered around town, listened to Evil Beaver play a street fair gig. For a long time I'd wanted that kind of friendship, where dinner dates don't have to be planned a month in advance and you don't have to be on your best behavior or even be in a good mood to have a good time. Here in Portland Chris and I are lucky enough to have two such friendships with two amazing couples. I know that when Astro is born, things will change some, just like they did when monkey boy and Ada were born. But the changes in our social lives has not been bad - just different. Monkey boy now sometimes goes to sleep at our house, and one day Ada will start doing that at his house and at Astro's. I love that Z and Mike are coming over tonight to watch two more episodes of Project Runway. Even more I love that these friends live within blocks of our house, and that they don't need to knock when they show up unannounced.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Coffee and bagels and kid toys, oh my

Aarin and I met at Urban Grind yesterday, with kids in tow. I am in love. Despite an inauspicious beginning (I turned down 22nd, only to notice that all the cars were pointed the other direction. Didn't notice the "ONE WAY" sign before then.) it was a great outing. The staff were friendly, the coffee was good, they had bagels for adults and animal crackers for kids. Ok, so the bagel was not a good bagel in the strictest sense, but it was fine and I was hungry. The cafe is huge, with tons of room for tables and couches, including a spacious corner for kids that included toys and chalkboards. H spent a good amount of time bringing toys to Ada, which she happily gummed. A and I checked out the other kids, who checked out one another and roamed the room happily. Looks like they have free wi-fi too.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Have you heard the one about the girl who walks into a milk bar?

Tonight while nursing, Ada was laughing.

The laughs were little, as if Ada was responding to a joke she liked but had heard before. They were like the fakey, almost coughing laughs that she uses to get people to smile and coo at her. This hammy, "pay attention to me because I am adorable and hilarious" ploy works well for her, especially with strangers. Until now, this laugh was always directed at someone. But last night, in the dusky light of her room, Ada was laughing at my breasts. Or was she? Although I'm no Salma Hayek, no one has ever complained. So maybe she was trying to be friendly. Weird she'd start with the charm campaign now. She should have figured out that I'm pretty accomodating. My breasts don't need to be won over or amused in exchange for a good dinner.

While listening to Ada laugh and nurse, I started thinking about kids and humor. I realize Ada is a bit young for jokes, but since I am a big fan of corny humor (especially jokes based on word play, with bonus points for bar jokes) I can only hope that she'll share my love for this kind of humor. I'm even looking forward to the day she starts to understand the structure of a joke without really getting what makes something funny. I love jokes told by 4 year olds, who seem to specialize in "knock knock" jokes. I am completely charmed by a chid who busts out with "knock knock!".

"Who's there?" I ask.

"Spinach!" (child laughs hysterically, prompting adult laughter at the child's obvious glee in making a good "joke".)

Ada is only 7 months old and I am already anticipating the day she busts out with her own dadaist knock knock. I just hope it is about breasts.