Monday, January 24, 2011

My work here is done

"I can't eat pig because I can't eat Piglet because I like him, and if you eat the mommy or the daddy pig, then the little piglets will be sad. And really not the mommy pigs because all the baby pigs have to line up on her belly for their milk. I can't eat cow because I need the cow to give me milk for vanilla milk and cheese and yogurt and ice cream, and it can't do that if you eat it up. I can't eat chicken because then the kids at school would be sad if the chickens were gone, and the feathers taste bad too. I can't eat fish because they are slippery and get away and make funny faces. I can't eat bears because they might eat me first. So I'm a vegetarian."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is it bad parenting to just tell her it spells "smartass"?

“What does this spell, Mom?” Adriana was holding up an index card on which she’d written out E-D-A-D. She likes to string together random letters and ask me what they spell. Sometimes she does hit on a word or an acronym, and I tell her when she has done that. Other times I will try to pronouce the word for her, if it happens to have any vowels in it, which makes her giggle, and sometimes remind her that not all letters make words.

“That spells ‘edad,’ the Spanish word for age,” I told her.

“I know Spanish?” She exclaimed happily. “Like Elena? Okay, what does this spell?” On the back of the card she’d written out N-M-A-F-r-F-E. (And yes, the R was in lower case.)

“I don’t think that spells anything. It’s just letters.”

“I think it might be Spanish. I think you just don’t know Spanish like me and Elena.”

“Oh, then what does it say?”

“I don’t know,” she told me. “I don’t know how to read.”

Monday, January 03, 2011


I woke yesterday around 3:30 in the morning, with Lyra in my arms, and realized that a year ago I had been up with Adriana in the middle of the night, realizing that I was in labor. Watching Lyra sleep, I was amazed that it’s been so long, but as I studied her silhouette in the darkness, bent to kiss her cheek, leaned my face against her hair, I also realized that life without her is already a distant memory.

I lamented to a friend recently that now people were going to start chastising me for calling Lyra a baby, but she is still so clearly a baby, with her chubby cheeks, the way she reaches for me, the way she calms down when I carry her on my back or rock her in my arms. But she’s also growing up, becoming more kid-like every day. I realized one evening a couple of weeks ago that she was stacking two blocks on top of each other. I was stacking the little alphabet blocks into towers for her to knock over, and I noticed that she was trying to imitate me. She could stack on block on top of the other pretty easily, and occasionally she managed a third, but usually after two (and definitely after three) trying to add a block would cause the whole thing to topple. She began stopping at two and then lifting the bottom one while attempting to keep them stacked. She couldn’t keep them balanced for long, but it was fun to watch her experiment with it.

She is also beginning to work out the art of making mischief. I try to redirect her attention from something she’s doing, such as opening a door on the buffet or pulling cookbooks off the shelf, but a few minutes later she’s back at it. Only this time she’s not just doing it for the sake of doing it. Now she starts to do it, and then looks at me and giggles, waiting for me to come stop her. She grabs my phone and makes she she has my attention before she tries to run off with it.

Lyra’s sleep leaves something to be desired (note the above, where she was sleeping in my arms; that seems to be the only way she’ll sleep much these days), but I know she’ll get better at it eventually. Some days she’s down to only one nap, which is quite nice--it breaks up our day a little bit less, and it means she goes to bed at a decent hour. She is developing a good appetite, and we are often amazed at how well she eats, although her intake of “real food” doesn’t seem to have inspired her to cut back on her nursing at all.

She signs “music” all the time, and “milk” and maybe “all done” on occassion. She says “ma ma ma,” and “da da da” and seems to mean them to refer to us. She’s spent the past month pointing at the Christmas tree and making a “T” sound, but she also did a bit of that looking at fish when we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium last week.

The aquarium was so much fun. Adriana’s been there several times now (as well as the ones in San Francisco, London, and Barcelona, but we all agree that Monterey is the best), and we always enjoy ourselves, but we didn’t take her until she was two, because we didn’t think she’d really appreciate it sooner. Now we realize that we probably didn’t need to wait. Lyra pointed at the fish, and ran around to the different exhibits. She watched other kids, and enjoyed the toddler play area. We had forgotten to grab the baby carrier on the way out the door and I didn’t have a stroller in the car, so she spent most of the time walking. She refuses to hold hands most of the time and tends to wander, so my mother-in-law tied one end of her scarf around Lyra’s chest, and then she felt as if she were roaming free and ran around with so much glee, that we were just happy to watch her.

I remember this age being a lot of work with Adriana. When they’re one they can do so much, but they don’t have any common sense yet. That means I’m constantly hearing the baby screech because she’s shut herself into a bedroom and can’t let herself out or making her sit down on the sit-and-spin or in the bath, fishing little things out of her mouth or reminding her to be gentle with pretty much everything. It's a little easier this time, because I've been through it before, so I was more prepared for it and I know it won't last forever. And also because there are still the sweet little baby moments--nursing her in the arm chair while she holds a fistful of my hair for security, her funny chuckle when we play peek-a-boo, snuggling her when she’s all wrapped up in a towel after her bath. It’s hard to believe that she isn’t the tiny little newborn I’ve been seeing in the pictures I’ve been looking at from last year, and it’s hard to understand that that little lump in the photos is this funny, adorable little girl napping beside me while I write this.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

One Day

Today I finished reading David Nicholls’s One Day, and I have a confession: it’s the first book I’ve read since Lyra was born. I'm telling myself that it's perfect to finish a book for the first time the day before she turns one, but mostly it seems shameful in a way to me, someone who considers herself an avid reader--I was the kid who was admonished to put down my book and go out to play--but somehow I just haven’t been reading. I would say it was that I lacked the brain power after having a new baby, but I did a lot of reading when Adriana was an infant (mostly the New Yorkers that I hadn’t read while I was pregnant, if I recall correctly) and this wasn’t exactly an intellectually demanding book, so I think it’s just that coping with an infant and a preschooler has left me drained. I haven’t had the energy to read, at least not anything new. When I’ve wanted something to read, I’ve wandered over to the bookcases, looked guiltily at the books I was given last Christmas, and then picked up something familiar, something I’ve read before that doesn’t require a lot of concentration.

Of course, it helps that One Day was the perfect sort of book for me. I will read any book that promises me a love story, and this one reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife, a book I’ve picked up over and over again, since I first grabbed it randomly in the little bookshop near my office in Glover Park before I headed to the airport on a work trip to Iowa. They’re not written in the same style and are very different books in most ways, but it was a love story that followed a couple over a long time. I’m not entirely sure why it is I like that, but I fall for it every time. I liked that I basically knew where the story was going, but that it took a long time to get there and that in the end it did actually surprise me, but didn’t totally baffle me with where it went.

Mostly I’m glad I finally just picked up a book and started reading again. I began a couple of days ago t while I was nursing Lyra to sleep, and then began sneaking away to read more when Brian was playing with the girls. Today Brian took Adriana out on her new bike, and I read while I nursed Lyra to sleep, read while she napped, read while she nursed after her nap, and then put her in her high chair and fed her while I finished the story. It felt good to be immersed in the story, to wonder when I’d next have a chance to settle down to read, to see a new book on my nightstand when I settled into bed.

Now I have to read the other books I was given this Christmas. Then I’ll start on last year’s books.