Monday, December 21, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Ah yes, the first real, meaningful snow of the season. Like other rites of seasonal passage, like pitchers and catchers reporting, or the first BBQ, or the first day of school, it is something to be cherished – even though the other three don’t cause me to wake up the next morning with a sore back (well, depends what the BBQ is like).

Leanne and I have been waiting with baited breath to take Olive out in the snow for the first time. We love snow. Leanne has a plan to have Olive on skis before she can walk – how else will she make it to the Olympics? We had the snowsuit all ready. The hat. The warm footed pajamas. The camera. All we needed was the snow. Well, New England delivered yesterday with a good foot of the fluffy stuff and so we were able to take her out and let her experience something she will either grow to love or hate over the years.

Like most things parents are excited to introduce to their baby (shopping for a Christmas tree being the most recent), Olive really didn’t care. She cracked a smirk when daddy threw a shovel full up in the air and watched the flakes fly around. But mostly, she was wondering why she was in a snowsuit that was way too big and why mommy and daddy were so excited about this cold white stuff. She sat motionless, almost in protest: “Okay, this is silly, it is cold outside. I’m not going to be your dancing monkey so snap some pictures and get me back inside.” As you can see from the pictures, the youthful joy and enthusiasm is practically bursting out of the little fluffball like fireworks of pure excitement.

And yes, I moved her arms and legs in an attempt to make a snowangel…

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We've Got a Screamer

Olive is loud. Our day care provider tells us that when the older kids are trying to go down for naps, Olive likes to squeal and scream, waking or keeping up the room of tired toddlers. Of course, she is smiling all the time. Of course, we already know that she likes screaming and yelling when she is happy. Others, particularly sweet four-month-old little girls still getting used to the world, do not know this.

Yesterday, my mother was watching Olive and her younger cousin, Lucy (who is getting cuter and cuter by the day. She smiled at me yesterday and I remembered what a thrill it was to see Olive cracking those virgin smiles for the first time). Well, apparently the two of them were playing quite nicely until Olive decided to say hello to Lucy in a way only Olive can.

As I heard it told, Olive was sitting facing Lucy and both were playing quite nicely on their own. Two cousins laying the foundation for a good long relationship. Olive then stops playing, stares at Lucy and lets out a quick, loud, high-pitch AH! Olive does this a lot. Probably because we do it right back at her when she does it. We like to get into contests. Admittedly, not the best parenting to encourage squealing like this, I know. I should probably be encouraging soft baby talk and reciting Shakespeare and having her listen to Dave Brubeck and stuff. But it is fun, and we are rookies, so deal with it.

Well, Lucy apparently wasn’t expecting this sound. For comparison, it sounds a little like the noise someone would make if they were jumping out from behind something and trying to scare you – except 37 octaves higher. Lucy then startled, shook like a leaf and started crying from – apparently – sheer terror. It took my mother a good five minutes to calm her down and dry her tears.

I can’t wait to tell this story at Lucy’s wedding, when, Lucy will be a beautiful blushing bride and my daughter, judging by her early screaming ability, is probably going to be a punk rock musician or a successful conservative AM radio talk show host.

Friday, December 18, 2009

We Have Movement

Things are happening. I can see them happening. Slowly. When Olive is sitting down she will stare at an object half-way across the room and then, like a swimmer diving into a pool, lunge towards it with both hands. Her legs push up and for a couple beats she holds herself up, arms pushing her away from the floor, one leg extended back, one leg folded in front of her, straining for stability. Eventually she falls flat onto her stomach and stays there, stationary, kicking her feet and desperately staring at the ball or toy or remote control or parent that she is trying to get to across the room.

Olive wants to move. She wants to move and she is slowly figuring it out. She can hold herself up pretty well now if you put her hands on a table or the seat of a chair -- causing me to rush to lower the crib mattress last weekend. Instead of sitting and playing, now she wants to stand and play. She still hasn’t figured out how to move her feet to transport herself to an object out of reach, though, or really to take a more stable stance. Most times she just stands and plays until she leans back too far and falls on her bum, or until her slowly sliding feet get far enough apart that she is about to perform a baby split. This ends in screaming.

But sometime last night she did something she has never done before. We put her down to sleep on her back, with her head facing the left end of the crib. This morning, when she woke up, she was on her stomach, facing the right side of her crib. I’m not sure I want to know the process involved in this baby twist and turn, but it is at once exciting and a little frightening.

She is moving! Oh my god, she is moving?

Finding her like that this morning was a little bit like that scene in a scary movie where someone walks into their kitchen and the poltergeist has opened all the cabinet doors in the kitchen. How did they move by themselves!? Things are happening. Soon, I’m going to have a walking, running, stair climbing toddler.

At least I think so. I don’t think poltergeists move babies.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Time is Here...

Ah, baby’s first Christmas. So much to do. So many traditions to lay the foundation on. This year is Olive’s first Christmas tree (as if her view of the world isn’t confusing enough as an 8-month-old, now we put a tree in our dining room and fill it with a bunch of small, mildly frightening representations of talking piles of snow, jolly elves, and white women with wings – Snowmen, Santa and angels, keep up with me now). This year is going to be her first time hearing Christmas carols; songs that she will hear thousands of times for the rest of her life. It is her first time that she has seen things like stockings and reindeer and fruit cake. We really need to make sure we do this right.

Unfortunately, after taking her to get our Christmas tree and snapping this picture where she seems to be thinking “I can’t believe my mom is embarrassing me already”;

after sitting down at our piano and singing Jingle Bells and Here Comes Santa Claus only to have her be far more interested in trying to jump off the piano bench; after trying to show her the majesty of our fully decorated Christmas tree only to realize that I just put about 100 chocking hazards within arms reach of my desperate to crawl daughter; after all this did I realize that she isn’t going to remember any of this.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been a lot of fun going through the Christmas motions. Leanne couldn’t be happier bringing Olive along to pick out a tree. Leanne is also almost Grinch-like in her disdain for Christmas music, but will spend an hour trying to get Olive to dance to Jingle Bell Rock. Picking out Christmas dresses has been fun. Showing Olive off at holiday parties is too, even though I know I’m probably upping her chances of getting the swine flu exponentially every time she gets passed around a room full of holiday revelers.

But it was a few weeks ago, when I was doing some Christmas shopping, that I had a frightening realization: Olive won’t really know what to do with her presents. She won’t fall asleep on Christmas Eve with drowsy anxiousness, sugar plum fairies dancing in her head. She’ll fall asleep calmly on her mom’s shoulder, with visions of Similac and bananas. She won’t go racing down the stairs looking for all the presents that Santa brought. She will wake up babbling or screaming, beckoning me to come find the present she left for me in her diaper. And she won’t go tearing into presents, sending paper and bows flying. She will probably be sitting on the ground hoping that someone lets one of those shiny things get close enough to her that she can snag it and see what it tastes like. Presents and gifts and Santa don’t mean anything to her. But they mean something to us! This is our chance to get her presents! We WANT to spoil our daughter and buy her cool stuff! This is my right as a dad.


Since buying presents, putting them away for three weeks, wrapping them, and then opening them up yourself at a later date seems silly, Leanne and I came up with a plan. I love our plan. I’m sure many many new parents have thought of it before, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend it.

Leanne and I are both going to buy a couple presents for Olive. But I’m keeping my purchases a secret from Leanne, and visa versa. I will wrap my presents that I bought for Olive and Leanne will get to open them. And visa versa. It gives us the thrill of buying for Olive and feeling like we are surprising someone. And it gives us both a couple more surprises on Christmas morning.

Everyone is happy. I’ll be sure to let you know how the presents turned out. Needless to say, I did my best to avoid Babies ‘R’ Us this year, and somehow succeeded. Though it was tough when I came home from a local baby store and realized that I probably could have bought the same toy at Low-Standards ‘R’ Us for about half as much. But hey, it is Christmas.