Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Introducing Solids, "HYPNOTOAD," and the pit of the ALMIGHTY SARLACC

We gave Millie her first solid foods yesterday!  Actually, she's been eating solid food for months now if you count dog hair.*  So, I guess I should clarify that yesterday was the first time she tried solid foods apart from dog hair.

Anyways, she was pretty psyched about it, and graciously overlooked the fact that she had to eat rice cereal, while the rest of us had spicy thai bisque.

This momentous event has been a long time coming.  At about 3 and a half months old, Millie started showing an extreme interest in our food, specifically the portion of it that was contained in Sean's coffee mug.  The effect this coffee mug had on our baby can only be compared to the effects of the character, "hypno-toad" from the TV show Futurama. Next, she began gnawing on Sean's coffee mug, and--to a lesser degree---all other coffee mugs.  Now she is in full-blown consumption mode, leaving no vessel of liquid unassailed, and snatching at our forks as we transfer food from our plates to our mouths.  It has been many weeks since Sean's coffee mug was safe at all.  

Much like THE ALMIGHTY SARLACC,  the pit-dwelling monster featured in Star Wars, Return of the Jedi,  our baby features a lightning fast, almost octopine reflex which enables her to reach out and grab any unwitting food that comes across her path.   The ALMIGHTY SARLACC used this technique in Return of the Jedi to  to capture Boba Fett and slowly digest him over a period of 1,000 years.  Similarly, Millie used this technique to capture our plate of Asian Pot-Stitckers two nights ago, before being thwarted by her sleep deprived yet street-wise parents. 

Nesting place of the Almighty Sarlacc
In the end, she consumed her rice cereal with every indication of enjoyment, despite the fact that we did not serve it to her out of Sean's coffee mug.   

At least so far, the introduction of solid foods hasn't disrupted our lives too much. Of course we've been warned that this introduction will result in the nastification of her baby poop, but we're not worried about that.  She's already been processing the dog hair without any significant fecal shift.  It's a mystery where this dog hair goes after she's eaten it---we've never seen any in her poop---but if I had to venture a guess, I would assume that it's still in her belly, being slowly digested over 1,000 years. 

* No matter how many times we lint-roll her activity mat, the ubiquitous dog hair prevails!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm becoming my mom.

Oh my God.  I'm becoming my mom.

My mother used to come into our rooms each night to check that we were still breathing.  She did this our entire childhood, and by "childhood" I mean "the period of time in which we were her children." One time, I was home from COLLEGE, and I heard a rustling in my room at 2:00 am. I naturally assumed that it was an intruder coming to ravage me, and prepared to attack him with a rack of decorative porcelain figurines that hung near my bed. (These were a relic of my youth, a time in which collecting porcelin figurines seemed like a good investment, and after many trips to THE DOLLAR TREE with my indulgent grandmother, I was now the curator of an impressive collection.  It would be a shame to break them all, but it was undoubtedly preferable to being ravaged.)  I reached out into the darkness to grab the rack.  At the same time, a hand groped in the darkness towards my face....

....and stuck its finger underneath  my nose.  A familiar finger.  My mother's finger.  "What the hell are you doing?" I asked her-- still clutching the porcelain figurine rack.  "Oh, you know, just checking that you are still breathing," she said casually, as if this were a completely normal behavior.  Obviously, without her constant vigilance, her healthy 20 year old daughter with no known diseases or illnesses would perish in the night.

We used to tease my mother about this all the time. "Wait until you have children," she would tell us, "then you'll see."  "Whatever." We replied, like the insolent little assholes that we were.

My mother also used to confuse our names, especially when yelling at us.  "Dammit Kelly! I mean Tori! I mean Brandi--Katie-- whoever you are!" She would yellWe would laugh at this especially because Brandi was the dog.  Silly Mommy! Why was it so hard to tell us apart from the DOG?  Surely we would never be so foolish as to make that mistake.

Fast forward 20 years.  Now I have a daughter, and what do I do? "Millie sit down!" I tell her, "Stop licking the baby!"  Then I add, "Cricket, do you want to read a book with Mommy?" Oh my God. I'm becoming my mom.

Oh my God. Oh my God.

And I think owe her an apology.


I am so sorry that I teased you about confusing my name with the dog.  You were right, it was harder than it looked, and I was being kind of a bitch.  Also, thanks for checking on me so many times to make sure I was still alive.  Do you think Millie's still alive?  Hang on, I'd better go check on her....

Ok. I'm back.  Anyway, please accept my collection of decorative porcelain figurines as a token of my appreciation.  I see now that I was being an ungrateful little twat. 

With love,

I'm so lucky that my mom is still with us, but I know it wont always be that way.  Now that I'm a mother too, I'm 100% certain about what will happen to my mom when she goes. She will DEFINITELY turn into a ghost, that way she can haunt me and my sisters. She will sneak into our bedrooms and night and wail sage advice as us in a ghostly voice such as, "don't sleep in your bathing suit, it will give you crotch rot!" Then, as we lay dreaming, an eldritch hand will reach out from beyond the pale towards our faces.... and she'll check that we're still breathing. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our Video baby Monitor and the Harry/Voldemort Connection

I love our baby monitor.  I mean LOVE. Sean also loves our baby monitor, in that he would LOVE to smash it with a hammer in the driveway.

My argument is that the baby monitor saves me tons of time and sleep.  Since I have become a mom, I hear every sound my baby makes in her crib.  Every coo, every cry, every fart, every gurgle, and every grunt.  I can hear these sounds if I am elsewhere in the house, or even outside in the garden. If I'm sleeping, it always wakes me up.

My sister-in-law recently likened my strange connection with Millie to the link between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. This is an analogy that totally holds up. You know how Harry can tell what Voldemort is up to even though they are separated by distances? I can certainly do that with Millie. Also, Millie was born without eyebrows, which doesn't prove anything, but you have to admit it's suspicious. (Yes, in this comparison I am Harry and my baby is Lord Voldemort, stop judging me! I think that makes Sean Hermione, but I'm not sure.)

Our baby monitor is awesome because it has a live VIDEO STREAM from the baby's crib.  That means that when Millie wakes up in the middle of the night, I can glance at the monitor and tell if she needs my assistance. If she's stuck against the rails, or has rolled over on her belly and is now trapped, or has cast the dark mark onto the ceiling of her nursery, I can go help her. If she's just throwing a fit, I let her work it out on her own. It's a system that works for us, and by "works for us," I mean, "doesn't require us to get out of bed."

On the other side of the argument is Sean, who says that the baby monitor turns me into a crazed junkie who can't stop checking to see if the baby is ok.  This is a totally unfair accusation, just because I watch it continuously throughout the day and evening, and physically confront anyone who blocks my view of the screen! That proves nothing!  I don't want to switch fantasy-series analogies on you, but my relationship to the baby monitor is exactly like that of Smeagol and the PRECIOUS ring of power.

One day, when Millie is old enough, we will stab the baby monitor with a Basilisk fang, or maybe throw it into the cracks of Mount Doom-- I'm not sure.  Either way, there is going to be a shitload of spells and general wizardry, which will be BAD ASS. In the meantime, I'll have my work cut out for me here, because I can see from my baby monitor that Millie is awake, and has started speaking to her nursery toys in parseltongue.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Non-stick" Cake Pan, My Ass

Lately I've been baking a lot of chocolate cakes.  Like, a LOT. I don't know what's wrong with me, but ever since Millie was born I've been craving chocolate like crazy.  No.  You know what? "Craving" is the wrong word for it.  I should have said, "I now have a biological need for chocolate, which, if not ingested at thirty minute intervals, will result in my head exploding." I attribute the whole thing to hormones.  Before my baby was born, I had the same amount of chocolate-craving-hormones as any other normal person. Now, after Millie's birth, I have roughly the same amount of chocolate-craving-hormones as a bus full of teenage girls with their periods synched up. Last week I baked three chocolate cakes in a 5 day span.  I am not making that up. I think I need a choco-vention.

You would think that my baking skills would at least improve with each subsequent chocolate cake.  You would be wrong.  I blame this entirely on my "non-stick" cake pan, which is a complete piece of shit.  Yesterday, I baked this cake:

Yeah, I know.  I'm an embarrassment.  It's basically just a pile of crumbles arranged in a vague, cake-like arrangement.  As you can see, I attempted to compensate for its disfiguration by sprinkling powdered sugar in a decorative fashion on top.  This had largely the same effectiveness as putting your grandma in a wonder-bra, or decking out your 1985 Yugo with a sweet spoiler and rims.

Last week, I graciously shared one of my three chocolate cakes at a neighborhood potluck. You can probably imagine how classy it looked based on the picture above. I don't know what prompted me to expose myself like this because, also in attendance at this gathering, was TAMMY, QUEEN OF THE CONFECTIONARY ARTS.  Tammy, Queen of the Confectionary Arts, is our neighbor and supreme overlord of all things sugar-based.  If you invite Tammy to your house for dinner with only 30 minutes notice, she will show up with a dessert that looks like it was stolen from America's Test Kitchen, and an entree wrapped in bacon.  Here is an example of a little dish that Tammy recently brought to a causal neighborhood barbecue:

I know.  WTF Tammy?! What are the rest of us to do in the face of such supreme culinary domination?  Sometimes, as I'm cooking dinner at my own house, I gaze across the street at Tammy's house.  I imagine what she is making in her kitchen and then just say "screw it, let's order a pizza."

Hopefully, one day I'll get a cake pan that doesn't use the term "non-stick" ironically.  In the meantime, my hormones were thinking of holding a little get-together at our place tonight.  Tammy, we've been meaning to ask you-- would  you care to join us?  We'll be having chocolate-wonderbra-crumble, and whatever you'd like to bring.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Blog!

This week I wrote a guest blog for my sister Kelly's West Virginia based CSA.

how to cook chard

  • If you live in West Virginia, you should totally enroll in her CSA. 
  • If you don't live in West Virginia, but are enrolled in a different CSA, you should probably still frequent her website, because there are lots of recipes, including ones for cocktails.  So, when you are all "Oh! What am I supposed to do with these organic marketmore cucumbers?"  She will tell you EXACTLY what to do with those organic marketmore cucumbers. (answer: soak them in vodka.)
  • If you are reading this and thinking "What is a CSA?" I want you to go out and buy a book with a foreword by Michael Pollan. Right now. 

Anyways, here is the link!  You should read my post because it's funny, and it will tell you how to cook chard without it tasting like dirt!

*In addition to being one hell of a farmer and cook, Kelly is a bad ass community organizer.  Be warned, she uses cocktails as an offensive tool for social domination, and is the only person I know of who has managed to weaponize Limoncello.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

RIP- Stroller Spider

A few days ago, Millie and I saw a spider as we were headed out on our walk.  A huge, hairy spider. Guess where he was sitting?  On my baby's stroller. That's right. He was sitting on her stroller, about six inches from her hand.  He was just hanging out there, blinking in the sunlight. Millie looked at him appraisingly, wondering if she should try to shove him in her mouth.

I'm no expert in spider physiology, but this spider appeared to be in a great mood.  He was probably having a really good morning, having recently found such a dry, comfortable place to live.

We noticed each other.

I snatched Millie from the stroller as quickly as possible, before anyone could shove anyone else in their mouth.  The spider bolted---running down into the cracks of the stroller from whence the seat belts came.

"I live here now." He called to me, from his cavernous seatbelt stronghold "this seems like a really nice place for a spider to live."

"You don't live here" I said back to him, "And if you don't get out of there I'm going to have to beat you to death with a paper towel."

The spider must have assumed I was bluffing.  Perhaps he could tell that I'm not the sort of person who usually beats spiders to death with paper towels.  Maybe he could sense that I'm the sort of person who catches spiders in overturned cups and releases them outside.

This is true.  In fact, several years ago Sean and I had a spider living in our bathroom who I named Mercucio and frequently saved from drowning in the shower.  Mercucio thrived, and produced hundreds of other spiders, who were also named Mercucio.  I refused to let Sean kill them, and every few days we would have to hold a "Mercucio Roundup" to catch all the Mercucios and place them safely outside. THAT'S how benevolent I am to spiders.  But, those spiders weren't inches from my baby, and unfortunately for this spider, I wasn't bluffing.  I was a mom backed into a corner. "Go ahead you spider son of a bitch," I said,  "make my day."

The Spider hunkered down, refusing to move.  I had no choice. I beat him to death with the paper towel.

I tried to make it a quick, efficient assassination, to minimize his spider suffering.  I made sure to compost the paper towel afterwards-- I think he would have wanted it that way.

When Millie grows up, I hope she's the kind of person who brakes for butterflies and releases spiders.  I  plan to teach her NEVER to kill things for no reason (with the obvious exception of fire ants,)  and to respect the sanctity of life, (unless that life is attached to a fire ant.) But, when it comes to protecting her kids, I hope Millie will fight like a tiger in a corner, and never let a pair of big, dopey spider eyes stop her from protecting her baby.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The 4th of July is Cricket's Least Favorite Holiday

dog on fourth of july

I love the 4th of July. Any holiday that combines beer, water-sports, and colorful fire is OK in my book.

This year was our first 4th of July as parents.  We did the responsible thing and took our daughter on  her first public skinny dipping excursion*.  Afterwards, we left the party early to get her into bed by eight-thirty. We were sad to leave, but this did mean that we got to spend the evening with our dog, Cricket.  Unfortunately, Cricket cannot attend any July 4th parties because of the proprietary relationship she feels towards all unattended hot-dogs.  She also goes bat-shit when the fireworks start.

* Just to be clear--only the baby was skinny dipping-- we had bathing suits.

I still remember Cricket's first July 4th.  We were at the lake with our family, and had just enjoyed a long and fulfilling day of beer and water-sports. We settled into our lawn chairs to enjoy the town-sanctioned firework displays, and also the amateur firework displays-- which were much more impressive than the ones put on by the town. (It's important to note that this particular lake was located in South Carolina, where roadside firework stands are the largest contributor to the state's economy, and neighbors--while friendly--are somewhat competitive in the area of backyard pyrotechnics.)

The dog was having a blast.  She had gotten to swim in the lake all day, fetch sticks by jumping off the end of the dock, and roll in an unidentified dead fish that had washed up on shore.  You might say that it was the greatest day of her dog life. That's when the fireworks started.  She couldn't understand why everyone was just sitting there when WE WERE UNDER ATTACK! She had no choice--she did what any brave and loyal labrador would do and BOLTED. I think she figured that if someone was going to get shot, it might as well be her parents, who were much slower than her and had been pretty stingy with their unattended hotdogs earlier anyways.

We eventually chased her down and put her in the trailer for the rest of the evening, but that's when we realized that the 4th of July is the one night of the year that Cricket must be indoors.  Usually we heartlessly leave her-- going off to a party while she cowers under the bed alone.  This year was different.  We sat with Cricket and reassured her as the fireworks exploded. Instead of the bed, she cowered under the coffee table-- which we viewed as a great improvement. All in all it was a great evening, full of cold beers, a sleeping baby, and a very grateful dog.  We managed to eat 3 of the 6 hot dogs we brought to the party, which is our best average yet.  Maybe next year, we'll go back to the way things were, going out on the town without the dog.  Or just maybe, Cricket will learn to be brave and then she can go skinny dipping too.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sleep Training

As the parents of a new baby, the most precious commodity in our house is sleep.  Sleep is what we covet, what we dream about, and what occupies our most elaborate fantasies.

If the pornographic film industry wanted to make a dirty movie just for parents of young babies, then the guy who shows up and says "I'm here to fix the cable," would just go into the bedroom with the buxom young home occupant and sleep.  If it they were REALLY NAUGHTY, they would turn off the baby monitor during their nap.  SO BAD.

Sleep is also an important resource for our little one.  There is nothing in the world sweeter than a baby who has gotten enough  sleep. They are adorable, life-affirming little cuddle machines that make you amazed to be alive.  When our baby has gotten enough sleep, she is like a combination of a golden retriever puppy and a new baby kitten, multiplied by a unicorn.

Conversely, when our baby has not gotten enough sleep, she turns into a hateful little snot-harpy, who wants nothing to do with life, her parents, or anything in the world apart from screaming at her crib mobile.

When Mille turned four months old, her sleep-- and by extension OUR sleep-- took a definite turn for the worse.  Even though she had been sleeping in 7-9 hour stretches since she was 2 months old, she suddenly began waking up 5-6 times a night. Sean and I were getting almost no sleep. If you looked at our internet browser history in those days, you would see searches for terms such as "sleep training," "cry it out methods, how old?," and "sell baby on craigslist, how much?"

That's when we read the book "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems," by Dr. Richard Ferber. If you are a parent whose baby is having problems sleeping, I would definitely read this book.  (Unless you hate yourself, your baby, and your marriage, in which case I would keep to your current course!) If I ever meet Dr. Richard Ferber, I will probably try to open-mouth kiss him.  So will Sean.  Odds are good on both of us sticking our tongues down this poor doctor's throat and frenching his face off-- just to show how grateful we are for our improved quality of life.

When we started his program, our baby considered going to sleep without nursing to be a barbarous activity, roughly equivalent to water-boarding. It took at least half an hour to get her down for each nap or nighttime waking, and each time there was a strong chance she would wake up again as we transferred her to her crib. We began following Dr. Ferber's program of heartlessly listening to her cry at increasingly long intervals.  The first time she cried for 30 minutes.  It was agony. We were the WORST PARENTS. The second time she cried for only five minutes. It wasn't so bad. We were okay parents really. The third time, she rolled onto her side, sucked her thumb and fell asleep. It was heaven. We were the BEST PARENTS IN THE HISTORY OF PARENTING.

Now, it's like we have a whole different baby.  She doesn't have to be rocked or nursed to sleep, and she doesn't cry at all when we put her into her bed.  She just smiles, sucks her little thumb, and rolls one her side to sleep.  The best part is, since Millie goes to bed so early, Sean and I have some free time to watch movies in the evenings.  The past couple of nights we've been watching "Lethal Weapon," but I'm hoping the pornographic film industry will take my hint and make "Debbie Does NyQuil" soon. I can't wait to see adult film stars Lunesta Jamison and Yawn Jeremy in action as we curl up on the couch and rekindle our pre-baby romance.  Dr. Richard Ferber-- wherever you are-- you're welcome to join us.