Sunday, July 31, 2011

Invincible summer

Bee and I go to the pool most afternoons, she in a baby-sized swimsuit dotted with cherries and I in a perhaps overly-modest tankini-swimskirt thing more suitable for an older gal -- but it's a step up from the maternity swimsuit I was safety-pinning to myself despite weighing less now than before I was pregnant. (Yeah, the sight of me in that maternity suit was just pitiful. Fortunately for everyone, Ben went down into the cellar boxes and dug out the tankini-swimskirt thing for me after an evening of listening to me complain about not being able to find my pre-pregnancy bathing suit. I'm very happy to have it back, but I do wonder why I bought such a reserved suit back in my roaring twenties, when I was so young and skinny! I should have been more ostentatious, clearly.)

So, anyway, yes, Bee and are doing this mommy-and-baby-at-the-pool thing all summer, and I kind of love it. She enjoys playing (and shrieking) in the water, and I like getting out of the house and talking to other humans. Actually, I kind of wish this summer could last forever.

In other summertime news, Bee's grandparents are visiting us this week, and the baby seems to really appreciate that we have bolstered the number of available personnel. There are more laps to sit in, more faces to watch, more adult-sized fingers to cut teeth upon (ow). There's also A DOG OMG A DOG!, by whom Bee is utterly transfixed. (She won't remember our dog, who went to pup heaven* when Bee was just two or three months old.) Anyway, our handsome little visitor is quite a good and pleasant little dog, but he once had his beard yanked (by Bee) during a previous visit to our home, and that harrowing experience seems to be frozen, vividly, in his mind. You really can't blame him, and the put-upon creature now steers utterly clear of Bee -- who, of course, would prefer that the pup come within beard-pulling distance. She gesticulates wildly around the dog, calls out a variation on his name ("Dooo!"), and observes longingly his nervous canine activities and one-eye-open sofa-naps.

What else, what else? Well, there's this nice thing: one recent hot afternoon, my wonderful mother-in-law and I went shopping, then stopped to drink iced coffees in a cafe, with Bee in tow, and I almost felt,
for the first time since Bee was born, like a normal person -- and not an inmate at an Iranian prison operated by a hungry, sleepless baby. The trip involved a car ride that went pretty well, and then, later that day, I took Bee swimming with a friend who has a little girl just a bit older than Bee. It was a glorious, happy, fun summer day, and I vowed to pack more of those into our remaining weeks of summer. I will! I shall! I must!

* After being bad-mouthed by me all over the world wide interwebz during my pregnancy. Rest in peace, pooch.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ne plus ultra

I've done some calculations with the available data, and I’m pretty sure Ben is the Cadillac, as they say, of husbands. Forgive my boast, but as far I can tell (and I’ve been watching him closely for close to a decade), this guy is the Sistine Chapel, Beethoven’s Fifth, the Hope diamond, and that ancient sequoia in California that they call the General. He asks for so little, gives a lot, works crazy hard, and shows his love for Bee and me in a thousand ways.

Lest you believe I’m purposely shorting you, Dear Reader, on the real details of what makes my fella so special: it suffices to say that the man is honorable, compassionate, and brilliant; in fact, he is the most honorable, compassionate, and brilliant person I know. Because Ben is who he is, I endeavor to be a better me. There! Now you know some things about my guy, and about me, too.

Anyhow, Ben's sensational enough that I’m occasionally inclined to wonder what keeps him around, to tell you the truth. It’s certainly not my financial prospects, my housekeeping, or my hearty good health. Because… it just isn’t. Oh, wait, it has to be my rainbowy disposition every morning! Except that I’m a colossal bitch before having my coffee. (Welcome to EVERY MORNING FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, sweet husband. I'm sorry!)

So, to summarize, I’m both messy and grumpy, I accidentally break stuff all the time, I lose things (including, on one infamous occasion, an expensive thing), I get sick a lot, I spend our money on yarn while he hesitates even to buy shoes for himself, and, if I may exaggerate slightly, I owe a million dollars on student loans. Also, I’m pretty lazy.

So, see what I mean? Don’t get me wrong, I’m told I have my splendid qualities, but, really, I can take me or leave me. But Ben – there’s a personage I can really get behind!

Bee, of course, loves both of us devotedly. But she, like her mom, appears to worship the ground Ben walks on. It is sweet, Dear Reader, to witness! She grins open-mouthedly and ear-to-ear when Ben gets home from work, gazes at him with pure delight, and chatters with her papa in a joyous language only the two of them comprehend. And have I mentioned that Bee has spoken her first word*? Although I've been joking (because I am hilarious) that she is actually referring to her favorite nihilistic art movement, it has become very, very clear that when Bee says “Dada,” she means Ben. And as one of the people who have taken care of this baby since she came into the world, I’m amazed and fascinated by the creature’s ability to produce an actual word, with, you know, an actual meaning that she understands and intends. Not baby babble (although she does lots of that, of course), but a word: a verbal and conceptual representation of a thing (and in this case, a person).** She labors so hard to get all the parts of that little pink mouth into the right position to create the sounds. To hear her produce the word “dada” as she looked into her dad’s eyes (once in particular, last week – the first time I was convinced of the true word-ness of her first word) was, Reader, one of my most breathtaking parenting experiences so far – a zenith.

* It's on the early side, but we're convinced. Doubt if you must.
** Speaking of language and semiotics, we have been using a few signs with Bee since around six months, but it's not clear whether she's picking up on them. She might recognize some of the signs, but hasn't used them herself, as far as we've noticed.

Monday, July 18, 2011


My Bee is experiencing her share of the typical baby benchmarks, and, as her mother, I naturally find these milestones compelling. (Basically, I’m having delusions of interestingness.) So, in honor of the baby's nearly nine months of life, I thought I’d catalog a few of her, and our, recent triumphs.

Bee eats puréed sweet potatoes, acorn squash, applesauce, cucumbers, pears, coconut milk (wait, is that normal?), bananas, carrots, peaches, fava beans, and other “solid” foods. (I may have also given her some maple syrup, causing her to freak out until I gave her more maple syrup.) She makes all kinds of cool sounds, including “da da da da da,” which may or may not signify. She’s been to the swimming pool, where she kicked and splashed maniacally. Bee can roll* anywhere she wants to go. And my dexterous girl effortlessly transfers stuff from hand to hand and can pick up, using a tiny thumb and index finger, the most miniscule bit of bitty bittiness, which means I really need to be vacuuming more.

One of the more pathetic milestones, though, is Bee’s recent semi-habitual practice of sleeping for a full hour without waking up. No, not sleeping through the night – sleeping for sixty minutes. Our kid is almost nine months old and when she sleeps for a full hour (not in our laps! zomg!), Ben and I are in the living room dancing a freaking jig. (A very quiet jig.) So, nowadays he and I can generally count on a single hour (another way of looking at it: a whole hour!) per evening of sitting on the couch, eating ice cream/watching a DVD**/conversing like grown-ups. Compared to every previous day of the last eight months, it’s pretty much glorious.

This recent innovation on Bee’s part, insufficient though it may be, is a big deal for us. It came about after we put into action some advice from this book, an anti-cry-it-out manual that will forever have a place of honor and affection in my heart.*** And while sixty minutes of undisturbed sleep might not be the most stunning milestone you’ve ever heard of, Ben and I try hard to stay positive (and caffeinated). Yes, I’ve wailed the words “I can’t go on like this!” almost every day since last fall, and Ben and I would prefer (strongly prefer!) to see more radical improvements to the whole family’s sleep schedule, but what can I say? At present the oracle has not spoken.

* That’s right, instead of crawling, she just rolls everywhere. It’s not the most efficient mode of transport, but it’s original. As for crawling, Bee seems to detest her own grueling attempts, and bawls her way through each and every effort. For her, crawling involves literal kicking and screaming.
** Reader, Ben and I now have the option of watching the same DVD at the same time, together, snuggled on the couch, instead of resignedly taking turns with everything Netflix sends us. (Yes, we’re still enjoying the DVD option. I know, lame. It will be yet another milestone in this family when he and I finally commit to the streaming-only option. We came of age in the roaring ‘nineties, you know; we think DVDs are shiny and cool.)
*** It’s the only baby sleep book that I haven’t wanted to cut apart with kitchen scissors. Elizabeth Pantley ponies up options other than “put her in the crib and let her cry” or “live with it.” Yays!