Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pancake breakfast!

Leanne and I keep having to remind ourselves that, at this point, Olive can eat a lot of what we eat at meals. So this morning we decided to sit down and have a nice little pancake breakfast as a family. And we ate in the kitchen! No TV!

Olive, if you like those blueberry pancakes now, wait till you can have them with butter and maple syrup!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Have to Crawl Before You Can Walk

Apparently, that is not true. Olive has always been a girl who knows what she wants. She has always tended to whine when she wasn't getting what she wanted, and then when she did, she rewarded you with a huge, cute smile -- this is nice now, but is really bad news when she turns 13.

Right now, what she really wants to do is move. She wants to get to that thing over there, and eat that thing over there, and then she wants to get back.

A few weeks ago, she was content sitting in one place and reaching for things. Now, not so much. She has figured out that she can move. She just doesn't want to do it on her hands and knees. Usually, she when she ends up on her stomach, she screams bloody murder until Leanne or I give in and pick her up.

I know, I know. We aren't letting her figure it out. Trust me, we let her cry on her tummy quite a bit. She shows no motivation to get up and crawl. What she does work at, however, is walking.

Olive is now successfully cruising from chair to chair around the kitchen table, from couch to coffee table in the living room, and from dresser to crib to toy box in her bedroom.


Oh yeah, and she also loves having her hands held and just walking around the house. You can get huge smiles from that. My back is still sore from bending over and walking behind Olive for half the day on Monday. Hopefully all this works out into a good 100M time.

2030 Olympics here we come!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Babysitter's Here...

This past weekend, Leanne and I left Olive with a babysitter for the first time. Well, we left her with a babysitter who is not family or friend and who was not providing the service pro-bono, either through some sort of duty through blood or through a friendly favor.

We actually hired a babysitter.

I’m not going to lie, I was a apprehensive going in, and as the moment approached when we handed responsibility of our daughter over to a perfect stranger – even for just a few hours – that apprehension grew.

We had great confidence in our babysitter. She was recommended by a friend and seemed very nice over the phone. Also, we really needed a night out and we really needed to find a babysitter who we wouldn’t feel beholden to, you know, since we would actually pay this one. We needed a babysitter who could watch Olive on a Saturday night and we wouldn’t feel like we were ruining a friend’s weekend or spoiling someone’s plans. The time had come when a trusted babysitter who we could have on call, and one that would grow to know Olive, is an arrow that we needed in our parenting quiver.

I spent the afternoon methodically laying out the implements of a successful dinnertime feeding. Spoon. Cheerios. Washcloth. Bib. Jar of Olive’s favorite vegetable/fruit combination (she is a sucker for apple/sweet potato).

I place a few disposable diapers on her changing table (yes, we still use cloth diapers, but we decided to go with ease here). I made sure Olive’s toys were out and available. Leanne wrote up an impressively comprehensive list of instructions for the evening (example: “6:15 – Put Olive in high chair…”) and I tried not to sweat through my shirt with nervousness.

The babysitter arrived. I felt awkward. I didn’t know this person from anyone on the street and I was inviting her into my home to take care of my first born so I could go out and have cocktails with friends.

But oh, those cocktails would taste good. I think I can get over this. Just think about the whiskey…

It helped that, by all accounts, our babysitter seemed like a fine, upstanding, wildly overachieving young woman. She attends a mildly prestigious local university, has a demanding major with a double minor, and plays three varsity sports. When I was in college I had enough trouble trying to juggle classes, binge drinking, and what is wildly known as the least demanding major going: English.

It also helped that when Olive first saw the babysitter, she flashed her a huge approving smile. Still we spent the next 40 minutes going over everything we could think someone might need to know if they were going to watch our child for five hours or five days. Phone numbers. Location of food stuffs, trash cans and light switches. Operation of television. Preferred toys and play spots. Take out menus. How to comfort child if crying occurs before feeding, after feeding, before bed. What happens if she doesn’t fall asleep.

About 30 minutes into this, even Olive was looking at us as if to say: “Am I really that hard to work with?”

Eventually, the babysitter, acknowledging for the 17th time that she had everything under control, sat down with Olive and started playing with her. Olive glanced up, and then back down at a bucket of plastic blocks. The babysitter looked up and said “Goodbye, guys. Have a great time.”

But I didn’t tell you how to flush the toilet yet. What about basic first aid?

But we really did need to go. We were meeting 14 people for a birthday dinner and we were picking up the birthday girl. It really would have been bad if she was late because I needed to show our babysitter the various features of Olive’s exer-saucer.

We each leaned down to give Olive a kiss, took a deep breath, and walked out the door.

Surprisingly, we were comfortable. Olive is a good kid and we had confidence our babysitter was too. We leave Olive at daycare regularly and have flown across the country on vacation. But this was different. Olive knows her daycare provider and so do we. When we went on vacation we left her with her grandparents – as close to a subsitute parent as possible. There was something transactional about this. Watch my baby and I’ll give you money and we never have to see each other again.

Soon enough though, we settled down. We had a baby-less night out (at least until 10:00 PM) in front of us and we needed to take advantage of it. They don’t come around too often. By the time we arrived at the restaurant we were a little more at ease. We placed our cell phones on the table at the ready, but they never buzzed or rang. By 8:00 PM we were laughing and eating and talking about – gasp – adult things. By 9:00 PM Leanne was trying make time slow down with her mind so that she we would have time to get an after dinner drink at a bar. (Alas, the check came slowly and we settled for stopping at Dunkin Donuts on the way home and spiking it with Baileys.)

We got home and within two minutes our friendly babysitter – who explained how everything had gone smoothly -- had collected her wages and left. Leanne and I snuck upstairs to peak at our sleeping baby. Everything was as if we had spent the night there at home. Babies are resilient little buggers and need just a few staples – food and love. For a few hours, and a few bucks, someone new had provided that for Olive.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Celebrate Consumerism!

So, needless to say, Leanne and I have purchased way too much stuff since becoming parents. I've said it once and I'll say it again, there is a strong possibility that Leanne decided to have a baby because it meant she could shop in a new section of REI.

A lot of stuff is useless. We have some clothes with the tag still, books that remain unread, and products that haven't come out of the packaging. I know, I know, we are horrible, mindless consumers...but it is so much fun to buy stuff!

So why not periodically share some of the good stuff (and maybe some of the not so good stuff) that we have found. The best of the best, the most useful, most cute, most time-saving, most helpful, most creative, most awesome-est.

To show that we are good, cultured people and that our consumerism does have some redeeming value, I'll start with books! Enjoy, and let me know if you like the selections, have read the books, or have other suggestions.

All in a Day
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Nikki McLure

Really, more of an illustrated poem than a children's book. Nikki Mclure's illustration is really the reason to buy this. Here is the artist's note from the book that describes the process:
The illustrations are cut paper. First, I draw the image on black paper, and then I cut it out with an X-Acto knife. I keep everything connected by a path of black paper...There is no erasing, so if I make a mistake, I just have to keep cutting and find a solution. The cut paper is then scanned, and color is added by computer.

You can see from the cover that the art is stunning, to the point that you wish you could rip out the pages and frame them. The story is a simple touching one about the possibilities that each day holds and implores us to make the most of each moment. My favorite line: "Every bird and every tree/ and every living thing / loves the promise in a day, / loves what it can bring. / There is faith in morningtime, / there is belief in noon. / Evening will come whispering / and shine a bright round moon."
Sure, the book is a little mature for Olive (probably about five or six years to mature) but sometimes it is nice to read something that isn't all about what sounds a duck makes or how fire trucks are red and oranges are orange.

Duck! Rabbit!
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

Rosenthal, author of Little Hoot, Little Pea, and Spoon, among others, is quickly becoming one of my favorite children's book author. Duck! Rabbit! isn't really a story as much as an argument between two competing point of views over an optical illusion. So, which one is it, a duck or a rabbit. Read it to a few different kids and let them decide. Again, Olive is more interested in trying to rip and eat the pages than trying to figure out what is going on, but another fun book for the adults to read.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finger Food

So over the past month or so we have been making a concerted effort to let Olive feed herself a little bit.

The first experiments didn't go so well. She dry-heaved after her first piece of banana. A cheerio caused her to choke for a second and caused me to jump over our kitchen table, hurdle a chair, and shove my finger down her throat to dislodge the offending whole-grain "O". It also took me a while to get my heart placed back in my chest. Her introduction to baked sweet potato ended with me cleaning up vomit.

But she is starting to get used to it. She eats cheerios with a natural grace now. She eats pieces of cheddar cheese like she is 50% mouse. Leanne took her out for dinner last night and Olive shared some of her Taco Salad. Avocado, beans, chicken. Yum.

But it has been a struggle to get her to eat certain items. Banana has been particularly tough because, well, have you ever tried to pick up a small piece of banana. That stuff is slippery! I heard/read about a little trick somewhere -- coat the pieces of banana in crushed up cheerios. Genius! And it works! Olive was able to pick up her little cheerio dusted banana pieces. That was the good news. The bad news was that she could care less about eating the banana. She did like playing with them and sucking the cheerio dust off and basically rubbing it over her face. Here is the aftermath of her cheerio encrusted banana experience.

In other news, we have also tried to start giving Olive a sippie cup. Something tells me she hasn't quite figured it out.


Olive is fully recovered now from her ear infection, but it was rough while she had it. Here is what a sick baby who doesn't want to do anything but sleep looks like when you don't let her sleep.

And here I think she was trying to eat the camera.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Like Father, like daughter

We have a sick little baby on our hands. First, infants really do get way too many colds. I remember hearing or reading somewhere that babies average 10-12 colds in their first year of life. Really!? That is one cold a month. I once thought this impossible. No more. Olive has settled into a nice two week on, two week off sickness model.

Keeping with that schedule, Olive woke up today with about two pounds of snot dried to her face (be glad I didn’t post THAT picture) and the overall demeanor of a heavily sedated kitten. All she wanted to do was snuggle, moan quietly, and drift in and out of sleep. This picture was captured about 15 minutes after she finished her morning bottle. Notice the form on her mouth-breathing since her nose is all blocked up. Take a moment to appreciate the far-off gaze that just screams “I feel like a pile of turd but I’m only 9-months old and don’t know how to say the word ‘turd’ or any other words, for that matter, so I’m just going to lay here on my mother, mouth breathe, stare off into the distance and hope my parents take me to the doctor.”

(I also apologize to my lovely wife for posting a picture of her sleepily watching TV at 7:05 AM – but I think it is cute)

Well, soon enough Leanne took Olive into the doctor and we have another first – Olive’s first ear infection! I guess she really is her father’s daughter. You see, I had about 5,829 ear infections while growing up. I don’t remember that many, but my parents certainly do. To really add insult to injury I am allergic, or extremely sensitive, to several antibiotics. So not only did I make my parents deal with a sick and screaming child, but then I put them through a grueling trial-and-error process to find a drug that would make me better and not cause me to vomit.

Luckily, Olive looks to be handling her meds with flying colors and has spent a good chunk of the day sleeping. Hopefully in a few days we will have our healthy little girl back – she has a schedule to keep.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chubby Baby!

You might be able to tell from the recent pictures, but Olive has been gaining weight. Not sure what it is, but I'm chalking it up to the McDonalds we are feeding her. A little soda in the sippy cup helps too.

Officially she was pushing the scales at twenty pounds at her nine month weigh in today. That puts her near the 75th percentile. A long cry from the 5th percentile she was in after her one month appointment.

You (and by "you" I mean "no one") might remember that I actually wrote a post about fending off criticism of our skinny baby. No more! Actually, recently someone told my wife that Olive looked like Santa Claus. My first nickname for Olive was "chicken" because of her Frank Perdue-like physique. Now it just seems weird.

We put her on Atkins tomorrow. Bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Get out of my face! Seriously, I will break that camera! Don't make me wipe snot on you!

Something tells me Olive doesn't like having her picture taken when she is sick. Next time I'll pull out the long-range lens and hide in the bushes.


This is a long overdue post regarding the joy that was Olive's first Christmas. My in-law's were down to enjoy watching her make her way downstairs and open gifts and really discover the joy of giving and receiving. What could be better than a little chubby ball of happiness on what really might be the happiest day of the year? I can almost hear the sleigh bells jingle right now!

Or maybe I just hear the mucus in Olive's chest? Really, though, Olive had a killer of a cold, had no idea why we were all smiling and taking pictures of her at 7:00 AM and was far more entertained by the ribbons and bows and crinkling wrapping paper than anything else. Merry Christmas, in-laws! Hope you enjoy getting snot wiped on your shoulder and dodging coughs and sneezes!

She also had a constant stream of snot running from her nose and her horrible mean parents dressed her in a red velevety, frilly, monstrosity of an outfit because it happened to say "Baby's First Christmas" on it. I don't think she enjoyed our style, but I mean, there is no other appropriate time to wear something like that, so if she was ever going to wear it, it better be the 25th of December. Suck it up.

I have to say though, one thing about a sick baby is that they never want to be put down -- which helps when you can't imagine letting them go.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Crosstown Traffic...

Do you know how when you learn a new word and then you end up seeing it everywhere? Like, you look up the definition of “doppelganger” because you see it in a book and then you read it in the New York Times later and hear it on a television show the next day. Then you wonder how you lived your whole life without noticing “doppelganger”?

Well, when you become a parent, you start to notice things you didn’t before. Sometimes it is small, like you never noticed how large the parenting self-help section is in a book store, or how many kids seem to be allowed to wear ridiculous clothes, like Halloween costumes in July, because parents have just given up trying to dress them. Usually, it has something to do with parent and/or child behavior.

Lately, for me, it has been parents at bus stops. There is a school at the end of my street and I pass a couple bus stops on my way to work. I’ve been passing them for a few years and never really taken a second look. The thing that I’m starting to notice now though is that the ratio of adult to kid is probably 1:1.5 – and that doesn’t include the crossing guard. Are the parents going to school? Maybe it is a public bus stop and all the adults are waiting to go to work? And why aren’t any of the kids talking to each other or daring the little one to stock his tongue to the frozen light pole like kids did to me at the bus stop (ah, memories)?

Now, for the life of me I can’t remember a parent ever standing at a bus stop with me when I was going to school (way back in the 80s and 90s). To be fair, my bus stop was across the street from my house and my mother has admitted to staring out the window until the bus came to pick us up (don’t know how she missed me licking a frozen mailbox and getting my tongue stuck for a solid 30 minute). Apparently, several other parents of neighborhood kids knew that my mom would be watching, making their supervision unnecessary. But my parents didn’t know ALL the other kids at our bus stop, meaning their parents were either negligent or simply didn’t see a need to stand in the freezing cold watching over their kids.

For a few years I walked to school. It was probably five houses down my little suburban street so the fact that I was allowed to walk alone didn’t and doesn’t surprise me. But a lot of the other kids walked too – and they were coming from further away. Some even had to cross streets (AAAAHHHHHH!). I also never remember seeing a kid dropped off. The front of the school is a parking lot, and it was practically devoid of traffic. We used to run around and play in it before the bell rang.

But now, the elementary school at the end of my street looks like a mall parking lot before Christmas at 8:00 AM and 2:30 PM. Cars jockeying for the position close to the door, SUVs pulled onto curbs. In the afternoon, they even shut the street down to other traffic because the parking lot overflows and parents need to idle on the street. We used to hear the bell and run out of school and run home in rain, sleet, snow, sun – like little postal service employees. We would play and tease and get in fights and invite each other over for Nintendo and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now kids file out to their waiting SUVs. And forget the PBJ – parents and schools won’t want to serve them in case of allergies.

Was 1987 really that dangerous that we all saw the error of our ways and smartened up and said that it is stupid to let our kids stand at the bus stop or walk to school alone? They are sitting ducks! Or is it that 1987 was safer than I remember, a utopian sitcom-like existence where nothing bad ever happened; but 2010 is the real world, sexual predators so pervasive that they can make an entire TV show about catching them, like some sort of pedophilic hunting program (think about it, can’t you see “To Catch a Predator” both being the show hosted by Chris Hanson from Dateline, and also a show on Versus hosted by Big Jim-Bob Daniels about hunting mountain lions?). It is a dangerous world! We need to watch our kids.

I guess they call this helicopter parenting. This is where you hover over your kids like an LA news chopper watching a car chase. I can think of few things that I would hate myself more for becoming than a helicopter parent. But my tune might change in a few years. Olive is still pretty immobile, I don’t have to worry about making these choices yet. But I do know that I will do whatever I need to keep my daughter safe. If that makes me a helicopter parent someday, I’ll just have to deal with it.

Right now, I just think about how much I would have wanted to crawl out of my own skin if my mom waited at the bus stop with me every day. But I’m sure when Olive is older I’ll feel differently. When she is in second grade I will want a crossing guard at every corner 24 hours a day, the speed limit changed to 15 mph on all public roads and I’ll have a GPS (seriously?) and a Lo-Jack permanently implanted under her skin which I will monitor from my panic room when she is out of the house. For now, I’ll just drive by all the bus stops wondering how I made it through life in such a dangerous world.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fun with Sock

One easy lesson to learn is that it doesn't take much to entertain a baby. They will play with almost anything you give them -- measuring cups, pieces of fruit, spoons, pieces of paper, knives, fire, you get the point. I like to call it parenting by distraction. One day, Olive took a particular likeness to a pair of socks that were on the ground while we were folding laundry. Much screaming, smiling, and overall fun-ness ensued.