Saturday, July 24, 2010

Memory and wonder

Lucy Kaplansky’s The Red Thread and Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints are joined in my mind to Adriana’s babyhood. The first week or two after her birth I couldn’t listen to music. The experience of her birth combined with first-time motherhood left me so overwhelmed that music seemed like too much--which seemed strange even at the time, since we always had music on before she was born. A week or two later when I was finally ready to open up my senses again, those were the albums I was drawn to, and now when I hear those songs I am suddenly immersed in the memory of cradling my new baby and the new rituals of our life with her.

Last summer, Adriana found a bottle of Burt’s Bees Buttermilk Lotion. She asked me to put it on her after her bath, and as I rubbed it into her skin, I was instantly, unexpectedly transported back to our place in Alexandria, with he pale sunlight of winter was shining through the bare trees into the bedroom where I was dressing her.

I walked into our living room early one morning last week with Lyra in my arms. Instead of the cool, grey mornings we’ve had, it was brightly sunny, and as I set the baby down on the living room floor with a toy so that I could go pour myself a glass of orange juice, I remembered coming out for my juice on a similarly sunny morning when Adriana wasn’t all that much older, and seeing her and Brian sitting together out on the deck, while he had his coffee and she played with the same pink elephant rattle I had just given to Lyra.

The memories are physical, involuntary, and yesterday I began to wonder what I will associate with Lyra’s infancy--what music, what scents, what light--but right now I can only guess and hope. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to hear Patty Larkin or Josh Ritter without recalling my second baby’s first few months. Perhaps I will remember the way my hands smelled after pitting cherries for Adriana and mashing a mango for one of Lyra’s first foods. Instead of the faded winter sunlight, I want to recall the light that filters through the trees while the baby rolls on a picnic blanket in the with her older sister playing nearby, and the way the sunlight squeezes in around the blinds in my bedroom as I wake up from a nap between my two girls.

Maybe I’ll remember the way Lyra’s silky hair felt tickling my neck while she slept with her head tucked under my chin, just as her sister did, or maybe it will be a totally new memory--the way it feels to go down a slide the baby strapped to my chest while Adriana sits in my lap. Instead of the sound of the baby crying as she wakes and drawing me away from what I am doing, I will have the sound of the baby’s cry followed by the reassurance of my older child as she rushes to comfort her, or even better, their giggles as they look at each other while I give them dinner.

I close my eyes and bask in the memories of just a few years ago, and simultaneously try to imprint forever in my mind what our year so far has been.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Morning people

I am normally the first one up in the morning, but not too much later, while I am still having my juice, I hear Lyra wake up. Sometimes she fusses a bit, but mostly she just coos and babbles, and I go into the bedroom and find her lying in her bed (or sometimes in mine, if that’s where she ended up) gazing at her hands or playing with her feet. I say her name softly, and she turns to look at me and smiles. It is the most perfect thing, that first baby smile of the morning when she is happy to be awake and glad to see me, a wide smile that crinkles her nose and shows her two teeth, and I pick her up and it might be the very best moment of the day.

Six month stats

For the record, because at some point I will want to know and willl check here first because it’s easier than digging out the baby book, at Lyra’s six-month checkup yesterday, she measured 27 inches long and weighed in at 17 pounds 2 ounces (85th and 68th percentiles). She is the same length that Adriana was at this age, but more than a pound lighter. She was wearing nothing but her diaper last night when I mentioned this to Brian, and we looked in amazement at her neck folds and chunky thighs, and wondered how big Adriana had been exactly. We concluded that Adriana had chubbier cheeks. That explains the missing 18 ounces on Lyra, right?

Friday, July 16, 2010


“Fleet Feet is a funny name. Mom? Did you hear me, Mom? Fleet Feet is funny. It starts with the same letter and it rhymes. It starts with F like firetruck. Do you remember that firetruck we saw this morning? It didn’t have its lights on, but the guy waved at me when I waved to him. Do you remember that, Mom? And firetruck starts with F. Those white flowers start with F. Except those white flowers are jasmine. Mom? Mom? Those flowers are jasmine. Jasmine starts with J. It goes ‘juh juh jasmine’ so it starts with J. Except sometimes G goes ‘juh juh’ like gentle. But mostly it goes ‘guh guh.’ Like Grandpa. Grandpa Ted starts with a T. The Ted part. And Grandpa Andy has an A. My name starts with A. And so do Abigail and Allegra and apple. Let’s buy apples at the store today. The honey apples like in Minnesota. I like honey. Only Dad squeezes the bear right in my mouth, though. You say no. We could put honey on apples. That would be good, don’t you think, Mom? Maybe we could have apple tea with honey in it. If you can have apple tea. I don’t know if there is a thing called apple tea, but it could have honey. In London do they have apple tea? Abigail and Allegra both have G in their name! Guh guh. I don’t like to draw the G. I make you do the G for me. Someday I will write the G. Sam has an A in her name, but it is not her letter. Right, Mom? Her letter is S. Like snake and snail and shoes. But shoes only sort of starts with S. It doesn’t sound like Sam but it has an S. Starbucks starts with S. Mom? Can we go to Starbucks? I need vanilla milk. Are you listening, Mom? This is the sign for A and this is the sign for S. They are kind of the same. And I start with A and Sam starts with S. M for mom is kind of the same, too. See, Mom? This is M for Mom. Your letter is M. Like milk. M is for Mom and milk and Mary and Mark. Big Mark and Little Mark. And Mountain View and Minneapolis and Martinez and moon and Menlo Park. All those things have M first. You have two Ms. M O M Mom. I can write your whole name and my whole name and D A D Dad. And Lyra except you have to help me with the Y. But I can make it in the bath. Lyra starts with L. London starts with L too. I saw Starbucks by the firetruck. T is for truck and Ted. I wrote Grandpa Ted on his birthday card, but you had to write Grandpa and I wrote Ted. Right, Mom? I could have vanilla milk and you could have a treat. Mom? Mom, the moon isn’t purple. You like purple, but the moon isn’t purple. Except for in that book. Then that boy makes it purple. That boy is too silly. Are you listening, Mom? Is that so silly? I am silly too, so I want vanilla milk.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

First food

People have been asking me for a month or so whether I’ve started Lyra on solid foods. I’ve told them I was waiting until six months, as I thought pretty much everyone waited that long. I did discover at a moms group that several of the women were trying their babies--who are slightly younger than Lyra--on some foods, but I decided that was because they were first-time moms and it was a novelty for them. I, on the other hand, learned the last time around that feeding babies is messy and you have to think about what to give them and if they like it you have to keep doing it and if they don’t like it (which was the issue with Adriana) then you have to keep wondering what you should try and when, and . . . no. No, thank you. I am very open about being a slacker, and exclusively breastfeeding fits quite well with my slackerness: I keep the baby with me, and when she gets hungry I feed her, and I don’t have to think about it.

And then Lyra turned six months old, and Brian started asking about it. So I bought a box of rice cereal this week and we tried it out on her this evening.

It seems funny to me to call this “solid” food. A little bit of brown rice ground into powder and mixed with breastmilk? That's solid? That’s food? Seriously?

But she seemed to like it.

Six months

When Adriana was a baby I would say every month, “This month is better than last! I want to keep her this age forever!” And I am doing the same thing with Lyra. Six months seems just about perfect to me. She is sitting up and smiling and cooing. But she’s still not going anywhere (at least not too quickly) or making any mischief (at least not intentionally).

It wasn’t until right at six months that Lyra was sitting up well (and she still can’t get there on her own), while Adriana was sitting well at about five months. But Lyra already seems more mobile than Adriana did at this age. Lyra rolls everywhere, and wishes she could crawl--pushes up, but can’t get her knees under her, and just ends up shoving herself backwards. This mobility is enough that we now have to be strict with Adriana about little toys on the floor. For the most part she’s been quite good about keeping pop beads and doll shoes and various little bits of Hello Kitty-themed plastic off the floor. She’s been dismayed, though, to find that Lyra can get her hands on bigger toys. Adriana has always been pretty good with younger children and toys: she knows that if they take something she doesn’t want them to have, she can usually trade with them for something she is willing to share. But that’s apparently a lot to ask when it’s her own younger sister in question. It just seems unfortunate to me that this issue is coming up at exactly as Lyra has reached an age at which she objects to having a toy taken away.

Lyra has continued to be one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. She seems very social, always smiling when she sees people, and taking an interest in board books with photos of baby faces. She’s been somewhat fussier the past month as her first two teeth came in. I was surprised by Adriana’s first few teeth; she would just wake up in the morning with a new one. Lyra’s teeth, however, hover below the surface of her gums for several days, and she is vocal about her discomfort. Luckily, she has an older sister who likes to bring her cold teething rings, so most of the time she is still very smiley.