Friday, June 27, 2008


Yesterday I ran some errands at the Stanford Shopping Center. After I'd finished the shopping, Adriana and I played around the Merfrog Fountain for over an hour. She climbed up and down the steps, reached under the rail to splash her hands in the water (and then dried them on my pants), tried to imitate the older kids who ran around in circles, pointed at every dog that walked by, and fell over every now and then.

A mother with two young children stopped for a while. She was giving them pennies from her purse to toss into the fountain, and then she tossed in one herself. Adriana watched the boy and girl with interest, and their mother handed her a penny. With a look of complete glee, Adriana threw the coin overhand into the fountain.

I wondered what the little boy and girl were wishing for as they tossed their coins and what it was their mother had wished for. What will Adriana wish for one day when she is old enough to understand the concept? And then I realized that I cannot recall what sorts of things I used to wish for as a child throwing coins into the fountain outside Martinez City Hall when we went to visit my grandma at work or blew the seeds off of a dandelion. Did I wish for something concrete--a new toy or an ice cream cone? Or was it something more abstract, as my wishes are now when I indulge my childhood superstitions.

And I watched Adriana, realizing that not all my recent wishes have been all that abstract as I remembered all the coins I tossed into fountains and dandelion seeds I'd sent flying not so long ago, wishing for baby.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Science lesson: Shattering Pyrex

Yesterday as I was putting away some dishes, two Pyrex measuring cups that I had nested together on a shelf above my head came crashing down and bounced off of my water glass on the counter onto the floor. I put the measuring cups back up on the shelf, stuck the baby in her highchair, and set about cleaning up the shattered water glass. Later in the day, when my friend Adam and I were getting ready to make margaritas, I pulled down the measuring cups and found that they were wedged together. It sometimes happens, since they aren't really meant to be like that, but unlike all previous times, just giving them a little twist didn't do the trick. I assumed the impact from the earlier fall is what made the difference.

Adam and I considered the possiblities as we took turns twisting and prying at the cups. Hot water? Cold water? Which would make the glass expand and which would make it contract? And besides, if they both expanded or contracted, what good would it do? Where was an engineer when the humanities and sociology majors needed one? (Oh, right. He was at work, celebrating his 30th birthday with a singing telegram in the form of a gorilla in a tutu.) We decided that ice would make the glass contract, both of us having some memory of water being an anomaly because it expands as it freezes. But then Adam started to worry about whether the glass would break if exposed to extreme temperatures.

"No, I think Pyrex is meant to survive temperatures like that. That's why you bake with it," I said. "Besides I think it was made for like train lanterns or something initially. I read an article about it once. Maybe in the New Yorker. I mean, doesn't that sound like a New Yorker kind of article? A twenty-page exposition on the history of Pyrex?"

Adam turned to Google, typing in "nested pyrex stuck," or something along those lines. And then began reading articles about an investigation into exploding Pyrex. After a few of those he came to a message board where people had discussed exactly our problem. Drinking glasses would be easier to separate, as Pyrex by design doesn't expand or contract quite as easily with temperature changes, but it could be done. I filled the one-cup measure with ice and poured water of the top of it and then submerged the quart-sized measuring up into a sink of hot water.

Adam went back to browsing articles about Pyrex that had essentially exploded at high heat. I tried wiggling the measuring cups apart after a minute, but stepped away when I discovered they were still wedged together quite firmly. Adam read a paragraph to me, and I stopped him.

"Pyrex isn't supposed to do that. And those were probably at much higher temperatures that just the water from my tap." And then there was the sound of shattering glass, as the outer measuring cup broke. Big pieces came off the top, shards of glass scattered around the sink and onto the floor, and the bottom part sat in the sink full of little cracks.

Incidentally, this is the second time I've managed to do in some Pyrex. At one point I managed to drop a large baking pan on the floor at just the right angle to break it into several large pieces.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nature walk: Purisima Redwoods

I had intended to save hiking in Purisima Redwoods for a hot summer day, when the elevation and shade would provide respite for Brian from my whining about the weather. But then I started planning to do it Memorial Day weekend and invited Rachel and Lincoln and changes in plans make me a little crazy, so even though it was cool and damp, we went ahead. Which was fantastic because cool + damp + redwoods =

BANANA SLUGS. I still remember a song about banana slugs from sixth-grade camp. If you aren't nice to me, I'll sing it to you. (Right here is where I should totally post a picture of Rachel cowering in fear that I will actually sing said song. But I didn't take any pictures of Rachel because I was too busy aiming my camera at slugs. And poop.)

Also, do you know how much joy it brings me that someone felt compelled to named something "sticky monkey flower"?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

17 months

Yesterday I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a couple of months. I admired her six-week-old baby, asleep in her stroller, and then my friend turned and saw Adriana coming towards us and exclaimed that Adriana wasn't a baby anymore, that she'd turned into a kid. I looked at Adriana running towards me with a green ball in her hand, grinning, her bangs falling into her face, and I realized that, yes, she is a kid now, not a baby. And instead of feeling melancholy over that, I was happy. Then last night she fell asleep in my arms after dinner, and I sat there for a long time, chatting with my dad and sister, just glad to have this change to hold her and admire her long lashes and flushed cheeks and her little, tired body that fits so perfectly in my arms, no matter how big she is getting.

She has begun babbling constantly it seems. She says "woof woof," "moo," and "baa," when asked what dogs, cows, and sheep say. She says "muh" and shakes her head when she means "no." (She says "muh" an awful lot.) She learns new signs quickly, and has started signing "please" and "thank you" on occasion, which I find sweet. Yesterday she fed me one of her Cheerios while I was getting us ready to leave the house, and then started freaking out. When I turned my attention to her, I realized that she was frantically signing "thank you." So I thanked her, which I usually do when she feeds me but hadn't this time because I was distracted, and she was happy. In general, when she makes a sign--whether it's "ball" when she sees kids playing soccer at the park or "bird" when she hears one chirping outside--she keeps making the sign until we say the word to her.

A couple of weeks ago we got Adriana her own "big girl bed." It's a twin bed pushed up against our bed, and we are slowly making the transition. I played with her in the bed the day it was delivered and she lovede being tucked in and kissed goodnight. Then she would kick off the covers and do it again. When we lie down to nurse she prefers to lie in her bed rather than ours. I think she is glad to have a little more space to sleep in at night, as she seems to be sleeping much better (most nights, anyhow) now that she's in her own bed. I move into her bed to nurse her when she wakes up around 2 or 3, and if I am still awake when she is finished, I move back over into my bed. Sometimes I pull her in with me, and she has even crawled back into her bed a couple of times when I've done that.

Not too long ago, Adriana fell off a slide at the park. Brian had gone up the play structure with her and she was going down the slide by herself. I was sitting on a bench nearby, not near enough to catch her, as she went down the slide as she has done on her own plenty of times before, and shot off the bottom, landing on her back. (I think it was because she was wearing Robeez instead of sandals, and they didn't drag and slow her down.) She was more scared than hurt, and soon was climbing up to go down again. That time she again went too fast, but I was there to catch her. After that, she would climb up but refused to go down the slide, even on a lap or with someone there to catch her. In a way I was relieved. It's kind of nice to know that the child can actually learn from what has happened, and nice that she has a bit of fear. I've been wondering where this kid who climbs everything and goes down the biggest slides at the playground came from, given the fact that I am just about the world's biggest scaredy-cat. But I was also a little sad, because being a scaredy-cat is boring and frustrating. So even though I have been attempting to coax her down toddler-appropriate slides for the past ten days or so, I had mixed feeling yesterday when Adriana finally got over some caution and climbed to the highest point on the play structure at the park (easily 10 or 12 feet up, maybe more--I am a bad at guessing that kind of thing), and started to go down the slide by herself. In the end, I decided not to stop her from climbing, but I made her go down the slide in my lap.

Some days I'm better at this than others. Some days when Adriana shrieks for the 94th time that hour because I didn't respond to her quickly enough, instead of looking at the clock to see how much longer until Brian comes home, I kneel down in front of her and tell her that it's hard being little and hug her, and then offer her a snack or a toy or just tickle her. Some days, instead of just being glad that I managed to get both Adriana and myself dressed and that I had a chance to bake (and eat most of) a pan of brownies while she napped, I manage to plan and shop for meal for the week, wash and put away three loads of laundry, vacuum the house, fix dinner, and put together puzzles, read stories, and play at the park with Adriana. Most days fall somewhere in between. But every single day I know I am lucky.