Friday, January 25, 2008

Words I like

  • persimmon
  • covert
  • trousers
  • indigo
  • chuckle
  • gossamer
  • sea
  • onomatopoeia
  • rosy
  • crud
  • delight
  • cascade
  • ache
  • riverbed
  • stagger
  • daffodil
  • ombudsman
  • silver
  • bitterness
  • bougainvillea
  • sunset
  • hobo
  • curve
  • arabesque
  • mourning
  • olive


A few days ago, walking through the Stanford campus, I inhaled the scent of the eucalyptus trees, and was suddenly surprised by a memory of a night nearly exactly seven years ago. My mother had just died, and Brian and I had returned to Santa Cruz. We were invited to the home of some friends, and I reluctantly consented to go: I knew I needed to get out of the house, and most of our friends didn't know yet, so I wouldn't receive too much sympathy that I wasn't prepared to handle. No one said anything to me about my mom that night, which was something of a relief, but our host walked us out to the car and gave me a rib-crushing hug. Imprinted in my mind now are the intermingled sensations of the cold, coastal night air, the scent of the eucalyptus trees along Western Drive, and the almost-painful embrace of someone who understood.

This morning I sat at the kitchen table while the baby napped, sipping hot chocolate and watching the rain. The image that came to mind was my first day in Madrid in May 2001. A bright, refreshing morning had given way to a gloomy and wet afternoon, and Brian and I wandered through the narrow, winding streets, which are bronzed in my memory by the rain of that day and the time since then. Lost and wet, but still having a good time because it was the beginning of our trip and everything was exciting, we took refuge in a crowded cafe where I ordered a cup of the rich, thick Spanish hot chocolate, and immediately fell completely in love with it. I don't remember the rest of the day at all.

Pet peeve

I hate it when people whose first language is so obviously not French talking to someone whose first language is so obviously not French insists on pronouncing "croissant" in the French way. What is the point? Other than to make me have a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard cringe when I hear you order your coffee and cwah-sahhhh?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Runner's High

I am here to profess my true love for a shoe store.

Six years ago I signed up to walk a marathon. At the beginning of the training, I bought a new pair of running shoes, some Nikes that I liked the feel of. But on the very first walk on which I wore them I was left with a painful blister on my little toe on each foot. I tried again on the next weekend's training walk, and once again was hobbling by the time I'd gone five miles. I sucked it up and bought myself a new pair of shoes, and gave the almost-new Nikes to Goodwill.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that my Asics were losing their support--probably because I've been walking around in them since before I was pregnant with Adriana. They were my third pair of the same shoes--once I had found a pair I liked, I would just walk into The Running Company in Georgetown on the way home from work and say, "I need a new pair of these." Now that The Running Company isn't on my way anywhere anymore, I looked for a good athletic shoe store recommendation online and decided to try out The Runner's High in Menlo Park. I picked out a pair of Brooks, and as I paid for them, the saleswoman told me about the store's return policy: I could return the shoes in ten days for a full refund or in thirty days for store credit, even if I'd worn them outside. On Friday I walked five miles at Crystal Springs with Mary and found that the shoes came up too high in back so that they were rubbing the skin on the back of my ankle raw. That night I told Brian about the return policy and we speculated whether they really meant it: would they give me all my money back if I tried returning a pair of running shoes with a bloodstain on the back?

Turns out the answer is yes. I walked into the store today, handed over the shoes and my receipt, and explained what had happened. I told the guy who was helping me about my old Asics, and he brought me out a pair. I put them on, and they felt just right. He had processed the exchange and placed the shoes in the basket under Adriana's stroller by the time I had finished tying my chucks back on.

Friday, January 18, 2008

WYDSILSMOTDKA*, Part II: Carriers for bigger babies

Steph! Clara! I'm so glad you asked.

By the time Adriana was four months old, the one-shouldered baby carriers that I'd loved were causing me a lot of pain, and I'd never really gotten the hang of the Moby, so I was down to just one carrier--my meitai. I was considering purchasing another one in a different color, because really, how can you have only one baby carrier to choose from, but I was sometimes frustrated by the readjusting I had to do with the meitai, so I started looking at other carriers. In the fall, we ended up with two new ones.

At a Bay Area Babywearers (formerly NINO) meeting, I tried on an assortment of "soft structured carriers"--an Ergo, a Beco, a Sutemi, and a Patypum, and maybe another one. I didn't completely fall in love with the fit of any one of them over the others--they all seemed pretty similar to me--so I went with the Beco because it was the prettiest, and I am a sucker for a pretty baby carrier (I have the "cocoa butterfly" pattern--approved by me for being pretty but not too loud, and approved by Brian for being not so girly that he won't wear it, although I actually think it's more girly than the green dragonflies of the meitai that he objects to, but what do I know?). That carrier has become my default. The Beco is more bulky than a meitai, so I can't shove it into a diaper bag as easily and it somehow doesn't feel as snuggly. The bulkiness is partly because of the big waist strap, which I think helps distribute more of the baby's weight to my hips. I like that I don't have to tighten the straps up after I've had it on for a while, and in the wetter weather, I don't have to worry about long straps dragging on the ground when I'm putting it on outdoors.

At first I used the Beco just as I had the meitai, with Adriana strapped to my front. I found quickly that the sternum strap, which goes across the back for a front carry, doesn't shorten quite enough to make this comfortable for a long haul; the shoulder straps would start to slip relatively quickly. Still, it was good for getting the baby and groceries up to the apartment, and for longer carries, I could lengthen the shoulder straps and wear them crossed over my back. That gave me more support, and made the shoulder straps unable to slip. (If you do this carry with it, take the sternum strap off and place it in the pocket so you don't lose it!) Where this carrier has been invaluable, though, is in getting Adriana onto my back. Someone at the Babywearers meeting had helped me figure out a way to do a back carry in the meitai, but I was never sure that I had Adriana securely in there. The Beco, with its clip closures, made me more confident that I had things right. Now I rarely carry her on my front, and she travels around town on my back and often spends time there in the evenings while I am fixing dinner.

Deuter KidComfort II
Shortly after the Beco arrived, Brian decided that he really wanted a frame backpack carrier for hiking with Adriana. We went to REI and tried out everyone they had, which included the Deuter, a couple of Kelty carriers, and the REI one. It figures that the most expensive one is the one we both liked the best. It seemed easiest to adjust, which is important when there is a 10-inch height difference between you and your spouse, and the seat seemed the most comfortable for Adriana. I also liked that it had a good-sized pocket/backpack underneath the seat.

Adriana loves riding in this carrier. We use it for the farmer's market every weekend, and she really seems to enjoy being up high and able to see what's going on. (In the Beco, she can see to the sides but not over my shoulder, as she rides so low that sometimes people don't notice at first that it's not just a backpack that I've got on.) Brian is the one who carries her in it, and he seems fine with the fit. I did carry her home in it once, and it didn't feel quite right, but I don't think I'd really taken the time to adjust it properly. We've only used it on a couple real hikes so far, although I am hoping to use it more this spring. He was able to do a fair amount of maneuvering in it. I was worried at first about whether Adriana would be able to fall asleep in the backpack, but although it takes her longer (for a while we were taking the stroller to the farmer's market, and we would time the walk there with her morning nap, which was perfect), she does manage; it doesn't seem as though her head is quite as comfy as in the Beco when she sleeps because she's not pressed right against us, but she can just lean her head forward slightly and rest it on the padding. After our failed attempt to see Body Worlds, Brian and I both wished that we'd had this carrier with us. Perhaps if she'd been up high and able to see everything, she wouldn't have objected so strenuously to the fact that we weren't letting her run around.

I'll try to update this post with pictures later, but naptime is ending soon, and I need a snack. A nursing mother needs her calories, you know.

*Original review of carriers here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ah, the trials and tribulations of a white, upper-middle class liberal

On Tuesday I turned on KQED for All Things Considered, and after listening to the pledge drive spiel a couple of times, I went online and made my pledge. Then I kept listening to the program and kept having the news interrupted by the pledge drive spiel. When Brian came home, I complained, as I always do, that it doesn't seem fair that after I've handed over my credit card number I have to keep listening to them asking me for money. But you know what makes it worse? When they add cooler gifts further on in the pledge drive. Next time I am totally waiting to pledge until I hear them name off a gift that I want.

I think gracefulness comes later

Photos courtesy of Grandpa Andy.

Twelve-month stats

We saw Adriana's pediatrician on Tuesday. She (Adriana, not the pediatrician) was 22 pounds 2 ounces (68th percentile) and 30 inches tall (78th percentile). One more inch and she'll be half my height! They say (and by "they" I mean a few of my girlfriends) that if you double a child's height at her second birthday you'll know how tall she's going to be as an adult, so Adriana should definitely get to be taller than I am. Oh, and her head circumference was 18 inches (93rd percentile). It's amazing to me that she has grown so much in the past year--her weight has more than doubled (some babies triple their weight in the first year, but since she started out big she hasn't), she's grown eight inches, and her head has grown by four inches.

Adriana also got three immunizations--the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, the Hepatitis A vaccine, and then the booster for the
haemophilus influenzae type b. She screamed her head off from the time of the first shot to when the nurse finally left the room, but then she had a pretty quick recovery and hasn't had a fever or any other reactions. The chicken pox vaccine was also offered, but we've decided to delay it for the time being; the doctor said we can do it whenever we want or not at all, but if Adriana doesn't get chicken pox by the time she's eleven years old or so, we should probably consider going ahead with it. I'm thinking we'll probably do it before then, but I hate for her to get too many shots at once.

One thing that was revealed by Adriana's vocal dislike of having her hips examined was four swollen spots on her gums--the poor baby is working on four molars at once. I had been a little upset by her sleep patterns and was considering night weaning, but now that I know what's behind the wakings, I have more sympathy for her and will try to give her what she needs (which is to say, Tylenol before bed and milk whenever she wants it).

Definitely back in California

Yesterday in Palo Alto, an older man saw me and exclaimed, "You have a baby on your back!" It's a reaction I get often, and I usually just nod and smile. (Brian thinks I should say, "Shit! How'd that get there?" or something to that effect.) This man stopped me, though. "What do you call this contraption?" He studied it carefully and asked me a couple of questions about it. Then: "My stepson and his husband are adopting a baby this year. I'll have to let them know about this."

Friday, January 11, 2008

12 months

It's much easier to say "twelve months" than to say "one year." I guess I am in some sort of denial when it comes to acknowledging that my baby is becoming a toddler. Although, in spite of the fact that I am finding parenting a toddler to be more challenging that parenting a baby, I am enjoying this age just as much as I've enjoyed every other one.

Over the past month Adriana has started signing for milk. It's funny how such a little thing is such an amazing change around here. She fusses and signs and I know exactly what she wants. Or sometimes she just fusses and I ask her, "do you want milk?" Sometimes she makes the sign in reply and I know that she wants to nurse. I am thrilled by this communication, although she has been making other sorts of signs for a while now--raising her arms to be picked up and pointing at things she wants. We are trying some other signs with her, and while she seems to understand some of them (Brian signed for "ball" the other night without saying it out loud, and she went and picked up the ball), she isn't attempting to make them herself.

She walks fairly well now, without reaching for my finger to hold most of the time, and her skill at and willingness to walk increases noticeably every day. Last Friday I set her down on the floor when we arrived at yoga, and she got to her hands and knees and crawled over to the ball she wanted. On Wednesday when we got there and I set her down, she immediately toddled over to the toy she wanted. She still falls down a lot, but now she can pick herself up off the floor without pulling up on anything. In some ways it's nice--trips to the park are more fun--but it's also made her slightly less portable. We tried to see the Body Worlds exhibit in San Jose last weekend but had to make a hasty exit because the stroller and the carrier were both unacceptable to her, and I wasn't prepared to let her walk by herself in a crowd.

And of course there is the climbing. It started with a ride-on toy that her Grandpa Ted gave her for Christmas. At first I thought the toy was obnoxious because of all the stupid songs it would play at the press of a button, but it kept Adriana busy while I fixed dinner or (gasp) went to the bathroom ALL BY MYSELF. But then I discovered her standing on the toy in the middle of the room. She squealed and waved at me. She quickly learned that she could push it over to the bookcases to get to things that were formerly out of her reach, or to climb onto the couch, where she leans back against the cushions looking mighty pleased with herself. And then came her discovery that she could squirm her way onto other furniture without a stepping stool, so that one day I could leave her alone in a room for a few minutes, and the next I was fearful that within two minutes she would have climbed onto the chair and from there onto the chest where she could hurl CDs to the floor and open and close the stereo. So right now our projects are teaching the baby how to turn around carefully and slide off the furniture safely, and figuring out a way to keep the electronics in this house safe from curious little baby hands.

I am comforted when other women I meet say that their children didn't really get going on solids until 18 months, because Adriana is still going back and forth. There was a week or so when she greedily ate breakfast and lunch with me. Now, she has a few bites and is finished, and she must feed herself those bites--having me spoon-feed her is once again unacceptable. But she is eating more food at dinner with us now (another reason to appreciate the later bedtime is that I don't have to fix her dinner at 5 or 6 and then make a real dinner for Brian and me after he gets home from work), gobbling up black beans, carrots, enchiladas, and pretty much anything else I put on the highchair tray.

She is sleeping better at night (although still not through the night) than she was a few weeks ago, but she did not get the memo that all the other babies got about going to bed by 7 or 8, and instead prefers to be up until 9:30 or 10. For a while that was bothering me, but then I figured out that if I stopped trying to get her down to bed at 8, I would stop being frustrated by her refusal to sleep at that hour. I am fairly sure that the late bedtime is the result of her tendency to nap later in the afternoon than she used to, but because she is still taking two naps a day and is sleeping in an hour later than she used to, I am trying not to complain.

And it is hard to complain when we snuggle up to nurse down for the night, and after she finishes eating she rolls away and lies there in the dark, just looking at me. Then she pats my cheek and comes back for just a little more milk before drifting off.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My job just got 5,784,998 times harder

I mean, look, now I'm going to have to pay attention to the child:

After mastering walking (well, "mastering" is used fairly loosely here), she's decided the next step is climbing the furniture, apparently. Unfortunately she hasn't yet figured out how to climb down safely. Or that mama doesn't like it when she pushes all the buttons on the stereo and throws CDs on the floor.