Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End Roundoup

It’s just past 5:00 PM on this last day of 2007. Alison and Zoe are napping before the festivities tonight and I'm sitting in our darkening living room watching a brilliant sunset light up the sky over the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was also just around this time of the day when Alison and I were married in this same room three years ago, today. In a week Zoe will be ten months old. Although not yet walking or talking she has definitely developed a unique personality and clearly remembers certain songs and books. When we play music she does this little shoulder and head dance that is cuter than a box full of rabbits. When we get to the, "Down came the rain," part in the itsy-bitsy spider song she does a big downward motion with her arms. And when we tell her we’re going to read her the Pajama Time book she gets all excited and does her little head wag.

And she may not be crawling but she’s fast and hardly ever falls and whacks her head anymore. She’s particularly interested in the cat food, and will cross the kitchen in the time it takes me to fill their bowls and put them on the floor. I have to remove her from the kitchen else she will pull their bowls away from them as they eat.

I’m also happy to report that Zoe seems to be eating enthusiastically now. After my last blog posting we discovered that she is a bit anemic, so I have made a big push to sit her down three times a day with iron rich foods. The most iron rich food is liver, and surprisingly she actually likes chopped liver. Alison, the resident vegetarian, is thrilled that she is getting the big doses of iron but refuses to cook or feed Zoe the liver.

Another thing we were told to do is to start brushing her teeth (she still only has the bottom front two). I was afraid that she would fight us but she really seems to enjoy it. We bought her own tiny little toothbrush and after we get her into her pajamas at night I’ll put a pin-drop of toothpaste on the brush and manage a good thirty seconds before she has had enough. She hasn’t really learned the spitting part, which is why I only use a dot of toothpaste. I think once she learns to spit it will be even more fun.

It’s time to get everyone up and ready for our big night in the city. I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that Zoe gets to visit with everyone who reads this blog.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Zoe Hits the Road

It used to be that I could put Zoe down on her little play mat and basically ignore her while I did stuff, like write this blog (how can I be expected to write a cute blog about Zoe if she’s bugging me all the time?). Now when I put her down she stays put for maybe five minutes, than will sidle—no, more like crab-walk—all around the room to get into everything she shouldn’t get into. First she’ll make her way over to the stereo to fiddle with the knobs and to go through the CD’s and DVD’s. She’ll then make her way over to the fireplace tools. Once blackened, she’ll spend a while by the box next to the couch that holds all the take-out menus and electronic gear and pens and other do-dads that hang out in the living room. On her way across the room she’ll pause by the coffee table to see if there is anything she can reach that she can pull to the floor and hopefully tear. If not she’ll continue on to the stack of newspapers where she will sit for twenty minutes or more tearing them all into little shreds. If she still has energy she will make her way to the top of the stairs, and if I have not blocked the stairs with the box containing the uninstalled gate she will attempt to fall down the stairs. She actually knows what, “Zoe, please don’t do that,” means but chooses to ignore me.

It’s fun to watch her move about, and interesting to note how unaware she is of possible danger. Her head clears the coffee table by maybe half an inch, and I’ve been there to catch her as she simply leans forward and free falls at the top step. She has also learned how to open kitchen drawers, but doesn’t realize that they will hit her in the face if she pulls while she is sitting in front of it. Nor that she should remove her fingers before she closes them, something I frequently forget as well.. Fortunately I keep all the uninstalled cabinet locks in a top drawer, so she won’t choke on them.

She has also been eating a lot more solid foods. We had a ritual every morning where we would sit together on the floor and share a bowl of Cheerios in soymilk. Except today we had her nine-month checkup and I learned that she should not have soy for at least a year and that we should not share a bowl because of bacteria. Apparently I’m loaded with nasty bacteria. Not everyone, just me. The pediatrician suggested Cheerios in breast milk (yuk!) or formula. Definitely puts a kink in my morning bonding routine. I also do things like share my burrito with her. I’ll pull out a little piece of chicken or steak and suck the nasty spicy stuff off and bite it into a less chokeable size, and then feed her the licked-clean tasty morsel. Apparently another no-no. I would have thought the salsa would kill any bacteria. Fortunately she likes bagels and animal crackers, which don’t require the introduction of my bacteria to enjoy. When we give her the crackers she gets all exited and gives us a big head wagging smile. Then she will work on that single cracker for fifteen minutes, slowly turning it to mush, which she uses to create a cookie-kabuki mask. Fact: one animal cracker can cover a twelve square feet of surface area.

See photos of Zoe at

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Big Apple of My Eye

Last week Zoe made her first trip to New York City (excluding a trip made in utero). We were only in town a few days (Alison was there for a conference) but it is mid December and it was cold (no I’m not a wuss, I’ve just become comfortably accustomed to California weather). With Zoe, there’s the problem of not knowing how cold she really is, so we simply pile her in many layers. We bought her a jacket before we left, and a cute monkey hat and mittens (it’s not a hat for monkeys, it’s a hat with a monkey mouth and ears—very cute). We also were given some fleece-lined pants. After layering her in a long-sleeved shirt, sweater and all the other necessary cold weather gear she basically sat mummified in her stroller in a semi-comatose state. Then again, when I take her for walks at home she reclines in her stroller in a semi-comatose state as well. Although in California we just call it being laid-back.

In New York Zoe experienced her first snow. Unfortunately there were only about a dozen tiny flakes, so I don’t think she even noticed. She also took in the art at MOMA, but slept though most of it (yey!). At the Metropolitan Museum of Art she was more interested in her three cousins and the skylights than the art. At the Italian restaurant she ate a double portion of paper tablecloth cover. At the Indian restaurant she was carried around by at least three of the waiters while we ate. I left a big tip. As we passed the horse-drawn carriages I stopped so she could meet her first horse. She seemed confused. Only after I had been petting them and holding Zoe’s face inches from theirs did one of the drivers (drivers?) tell me that they (they being the horses, not the drivers) sometimes bite. And she may have, it’s not really clear, she may have completely ignored the famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. If I had to hazard a guess as to what her favorite New York attraction was, I would say it was the large mirror mounted to the wall in our hotel room.

All in all New York was a lot of fun, but it was a short trip and we didn’t get to see everyone or everything we wanted to. Having a baby constrains one somewhat, as you are at the mercy of naptimes and other baby induced limitations. But on the other hand it is fun carrying her around the city, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of people telling me that Zoe is an adorable baby. Maybe the people who say that to me say that to every parent, even if their kid is an ogre, but I like to think it’s because Zoe is special. Take a look at the photos. I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

See photos of Zoe at I’m behind in updating my photos, but check back soon and there will be some great new photos.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Week after Thanksgiving

Last week we hosted eighteen people for Thanksgiving dinner, my excuse for not publishing this blog last Sunday. However, that means this entry is a bit longer than usual, which will either be a treat or a tedium you will have to endure. Speaking of Thanksgiving, our efforts to get Zoe to eat solid food is slowly progressing. Zoe has rediscovered yams—she was off them for a while—and Alison and I have begun feeding her tiny pieces of food off our plates. During Thanksgiving Zoe rejected the turkey but seemed to like the lentils (with five vegetarians in attendance we supplemented the usual with some specialty dishes). We discovered, however, that Zoe wasn’t actually chewing the lentils. The whole lentils continued to expand in her stomach and came out the other end plumper and juicer than ever. They were almost the perfect lentils, except for the fact that they had come out of her back end. I’ve also begun feeding her Cheerios. Dry Cheerios, however, get stuck in her throat, so I feed her little soymilk soaked O’s directly from my own morning bowl. I’ve included a video of this morning ritual. Zoe also enjoys eating socks, dirty tissues, cat food, particles off the floor, leaves and grass and pretty much anything that gets stuck to her hand. Most real food, however, will, after being masticated, elicit a gag and get pushed back onto her shirt.

Recently I discovered a local group of stay-at-home dads. They meet at various East Bay locations to talk about sports and trade baby gore stories. They then continue on to someplace for lunch that serves beer. Or more precisely, they continue on to someplace that serves beer, for lunch. I’ve been working toward regaining some of the pre-Zoe glory days of wasting a half-day at a coffee shop, and here I think I have found the solution. I meet other fathers to who also happen to like wasting half a day. This last Monday, after some quality kid time at a park, we traveled a few blocks to a local brewpub, where we proceeded to kill off at least four pitchers of beer while I sat and fed Zoe French fries. Zoe and I then went home and took a nap.

Lately Zoe has wanted more attention. She will be happy to play with her toys as long as you sit close by, preferably close enough so that she can climb on you. However, the minute you walk away, even if you stay in the same room, she will begin to cry. So, the moment comes where I need to bake a brownie. You know, offload some freight? Build a dookie castle? Squeeze a coily? Before I’ve even reached the stairs she’s crying. So I carry her down with me and plant her in the hallway outside the bathroom door, directly facing the toilet. I set myself down and discover that it’s not so easy to sink the Bismarck while your daughter is watching. So I partially close the door, but to keep and eye on her and prevent another crying fit I’m forced to play peek-a-boo at the same time I’m trying to put the fruit in the bowl. I can only tell you that it’s fortunate that I am a mature adult and can handle these situations with poise and what some might call savoir-faire.

The other day I was trying to straighten up and Zoe was in one of her stay-close moods. So I donned the Snuggly and proceeded about my business with her strapped to my chest. I thought she would get tired of it pretty quickly, but she seemed to enjoy attempting to grab everything within her reach. I was reminded of that character from the Schwarzenegger film Total Recall, Kuato, the small head and arms growing out of the chest of one of the characters. Except Kuato was the genius leader of the rebel force and Zoe is a jabbering set of moving arms trying to grab stuff out of my hands. Note to self: what did Kuato do while George, his host, was hatching a new superintendent?

Zoe continues to change in small, subtle ways. We actually play a game in which she participates. I take a plastic stacking ring and say, “Blue one on Zoe,” and place it on her head. She’ll hold her head steady for a moment while looking up, and then move her head so it falls. She then picks it up and hands it to me to repeat (and repeat and repeat). I sometimes shake things up by saying, “Blue one on Daddy.” Or I use the green or yellow or even the red one. Good times. She has even begun to study the little nesting boxes, as if she is trying to figure them out, rather than to just smash them against one another. And although she is still not crawling, she has realized that her almost-crawl needs something, so she goes from having her legs tucked under her to a face down, stretched out position, what most of us would call a nap. She hasn’t quite figured out that to actually get anywhere she then needs to move her limbs.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, November 18, 2007

With a BAA and a MOO

This week we all suffered through Zoe’s second cold. Zoe suffers because she can’t breath, isn’t sleeping well and generally seems to be under the weather. Alison and I suffer because Zoe is not sleeping well. And she hates getting her nose wiped. If nasal mucus glowed in the dark you would be able to see our house from the moon. I swear the next cold she gets I’m buying myself a hazmat suit. Mid week I decided the only way to clear the crusted on by-product of her cold was to immerse her in water, so once again I tried the ducky tub. If you remember the last time I tried the ducky tub, Zoe screamed the second her toes hit the water. This time I tried a different approach. I put her in the empty tub and slowly, one cup at a time, filled the tub. By the time it was filled she seemed to be enjoying herself, or at least enjoyed sucking the water off the bucket of toys I crammed in with her. I, of course, took the obligatory baby-in-the-bathtub photos, which I will save and use to blackmail her with when she is older.

Although Zoe is not crawling, she manages to shuffle around. However, she does so surreptitiously. I’ll look over at her playing quietly on her play area, and a few moments later I’ll look up and she will be playing quietly in the snakes’ nest of wires behind the TV. Because she has not started crawling I have yet to childproof any of our rooms. This of course means that one morning we’ll wake up and she’ll be standing by our bed demanding breakfast (which would require that she eats real food, another not-yet). I’ll be forced to duct tape her to the floor while I quickly hide all the breakables and screw the kitchen cabinets shut.

Yesterday I had a quiet hour to myself while Alison and Zoe napped. Since our house is actually one giant acoustic box and ninety percent of our floors creak (I’m planning on spray painting those areas that don’t squeak a bright orange so I know where I’m allowed to walk during nap time) I am limited to the kitchen. I was happily fixing a light dinner (pommes de terre with saucisson a la Provincal in a nice beurre noisette, you know, nothing fancy) and found myself repeating the rhyming text from one of Zoe’s favorite books, Barnyard Dance. “Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance.” I tried to force something from Springsteen into my head but instead I got, “Bow to the horse. Bow to the cow. Twirl the pig if you know how.” I fear that Alison and I will be dancing in the dark (did you catch the Springsteen reference?) and I will whisper seductively into her ear, “Bounce with the bunny. Strut with the duck. Spin with the chickens now cluck cluck cluck!”

See photos of Zoe at

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Teeth, Tubs and Tests

As promised, the big news! Zoe has two teeth. The two lower central incisors’ have popped through and are like cute little razor blades. The good news is that it explains why she has been so grumpy lately. We’re hoping that with these new chompers of hers she will take an interest in eating something other than her toys and any paper product she can get her hands on. Since she puts everything in her mouth that she can pick up (or get her mouth to) I decided to trick her by giving her some apple and pear wedges as toys. She picked them up, looked them over, than casually tossed them aside. Maybe I need to carve her food into blocks or stuffed animals or books or anything that does not resemble food. Maybe I need to rub various food items on Alison’s nipples, you know, to get Zoe to equate one food item with another. Did you notice how mature I am not to add a humorous comment to that last idea?

It’s bath time, and we are excited to use Zoe’s new bathtub, a blow-up ducky with a bill that quacks when you squeeze it. Up until now we have bathed her in the kitchen sink using the faucet sprayer. She has always liked the water and we expected to be the laughing, happy parents watching our daughter splash joyously in her water-filled ducky tub. The tub, however, proved a bit difficult to fill, the faucet in the tub not reaching over the rim of the tub, so dad got a pre-bath, as did the floor. I got the camera ready (I put the pre-set to ducky tub) and we carried her into the bathroom. All was going ducky (yuk-yuk) until we started to lower her into the tub. As her toes touched the water she let out a scream and pulled her legs away. After a few tries (and the always futile attempt at reasoning) we were back in the sink. I guess this means early swim lessons are out of the question.

I gave Zoe a little IQ test, and she is off the charts.
  • Test: Identify the pig (in a row of three animals). Result: She chose the chicken.
    • This proves that Zoe is a Freethinker. A Freethinker is the cognitive application of freethought, a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logic and not be compromised by emotion, authority, tradition, or any dogma. We humans created identifiers, so who is to say a pig is a pig?
  • Test: Which color is blue (choice of yellow or blue toy)? Result: She chose yellow and whacked herself in the head with it in her enthusiasm.
    • Kudos, Zoe. This demonstrates your objectivism, which holds that she has a mind-independent reality. Or more precisely, that the role of art in her life is to transform abstract knowledge, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form—a work of art—that she can comprehend and respond to with the whole of her consciousness. Such as whacking herself in the head with the color of her own choosing.
  • Test: Put the smaller block in the larger block. Result: She put the smaller block in her mouth.
    • Zoe is clearly an anarchist in her non-recognition of authority. Obviously she intended to connote a lack of control and a negatively chaotic environment. However, I think she prefers to be called a libertarian socialist rather than an anarchist.
For those not keeping track, Zoe turned eight months old four days ago. The fun is just beginning.

Tip: Click on the photo at the start of each blog to expand.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Big Changes Soon (But Not Yet)

After a month-long hiatus I’m back with surprisingly few new developments to report. It’s been a difficult few months (see A Sad Goodbye) but we’re settling down and getting back to our routines. Zoe’s sleeping, never great before, has taken a real nose-dive. Last night she was up every hour for a quick snack and during the day she refuses to nap for more than a half hour at a time. She also lately seems to have a short attention span so I’m having to frequently move her from one activity area—play mat, ExerSaucer, bouncy thing that hangs in the doorway and causes you to bang your knee every time you try to squeeze through, soft two-inch pile lambs wool that I put on the kitchen floor with a few toys so she can keep me company while I cook until she falls off and whacks her head against the kitchen floor—to another. I’m assuming that Zoe is getting bored so quickly because she’s so smart she needs more challenging toys. I’m keeping my eye out for a used particle accelerator on Craigslist.

We’ve also had a setback. Back in my September 30th blog I ballyhooed Zoe’s advanced eating skills. You might remember a fantastic little video of her gobbling up a warm bowl of pureed yams. Well, thirty days later and yams are still about the only food she’ll eat. And even yam eating is dependent on her mood, time of day, hunger level, and number of distractions. We have added to the list of rejected food pureed chicken (actually, everything is pureed), store bought (yet organic) jarred food combinations, applesauce and butternut squash. I usually try to eat something while I’m feeding her so that, a) she learns by association, b) she wants something I have and, c) I don’t starve to death while I’m carrying her around the house the rest of the time. Today’s poll, how many of you had a breast milk only diet until you where in your teens?

As of this posting Zoe is not yet mobile, and with each passing day I say a little prayer of thanks. We had been worrying that she hadn’t shown any interest in being any more mobile than leaning too far forward while reaching for a toy and tipping onto her head, but the other day I realized that my being able to place her in the center of the bed while I used the facilities was a convenience I would probably not enjoy for too much longer. The first real motion we had came the other day, and we can all be thankful that I was right there with the camera (i.e. the video is at the bottom of this blog).

If I have sounded at all negative about her various lack of development I assure you that I am not concerned. I myself can’t seem to eat a meal without spilling something on my shirt, so if at forty two I’m not able to successfully feed myself why should I expect more from an eight month old? However, I will make a prediction that by the time I write the next blog something big will have happened. Stay tuned!

See photos of Zoe at

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Sad Goodbye

On October 3rd Dr. Alan Savitz passed away after a long illness. As a good friend of Alan’s said so eloquently, Alan loved to walk in, talk with, look at, listen to and eat up the best of the world around him and left it a better place for having been there. Alison and I are happy that he was able to spend time with his granddaughter Zoe in his final months and we are sad that he will not be here with us to watch her grow. Alan was an extraordinary man and we will miss him.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

From Easy to Solid Foods

This week we have made a quantum leap forward in our efforts to get Zoe to eat solid foods. We had previously tried a number of the foods she is allowed at this age—infant rice cereal, carrots, which actually made her gag, mashed baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, and bananas—but the moment the spoon touched her lips she would clamp her lips closed and turn her head sharply, creating a line of goo from her mouth to her ear. Our most recent attempt was yams, which she amazingly gobbled up like a little baby bird eating worms. And of course we have the exciting video of this joyous occasion (at the bottom of this blog). I had an equally exciting video of her avoiding food but it was mostly my big, fat arm in front of the camera, only the top of her head visible, twisting back and forth. We discovered, also, that if the food were not warmed she would not eat it. We tested this theory with bananas, which remained on the no list until they were warmed to a pleasant degree or two above tepid and watered down so that they would ooze more efficiently through little fingers. Alison has already commented on the changes taking place in her diaper, so it is with some urgency that every time I pass the toilet while holding Zoe I discuss, with her, its function. Unfortunately, telling her, at seven months of age, that, “Only baby’s poo in their pants,” isn’t very effective.

I recently read a study that listed the steps one must take to raise a child able to get into Harvard. It’s far from legitimate science but it was printed in a magazine put out by people who think Harvard is the hub of the universe and its graduates are the spokes. Or in other words, Harvard is a bisporangiate strobilus and is seeding the world with its omnicataclysmic knowledge. Ahem. Now where was I? Oh yes, getting our little Zoe into Harvard. So the magazine claims that one of the first steps one must take is to teach your child sign language. Here in Berkeley that’s la norme. However, we have fallen behind in our duties and I only just started this week, and only one word: milk. I’ve used it at least half-a-dozen times and she has not yet picked up on it, which either means that we will be sending her to a community college or I’m not performing the sign correctly. I will definitely be getting back to you as we progress.

I also want to briefly mention Zoe’ sitting ability. We can now unceremoniously plop her down into a sitting position without the on-going totter-correction you saw in my September 15th blog video. She has even mastered leaning forward to grab a toy while supporting herself with her other arm. Alison has suggested that I baby-proof our house ASAP.

See photos of Zoe at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is That Normal?

I’ve frequently talked about benchmarks and milestones for tracking Zoe’s development. Early on we studied the baby books like we were preparing for the SAT, which actually meant that Alison read them and I went out back and had a beer. We wanted to make sure that Zoe didn’t skip over some import developmental aspect that she would need later (and have to go to baby summer school to learn). But what about all of those strange things she does that the book doesn’t mention? For example, lately Zoe has been flapping her arms wildly. This is probably normal, or at least harmless, but what if there is a deeper meaning? She could, for instance, think that she is a bird and if we don’t nip this bud she will… well, I don’t know what could happen. Something, though! And what about the grunting? No, not the grunting associated with bowl movements, but the sort of frustrated, intense grunting associated with that kid in aisle three last week whose mother wouldn’t buy him the chocolate-covered sugar bombs. I really don’t think anything she is doing is so abnormal we need an exorcism, but if she develops Linda Blair like symptoms (head spinning 360°, projectile vomiting green bile) we are definitely going to talk to someone.

She’s also taken to sudden screams, or screeches. Not angry or needy screams. Just screams interspersed with her other happy noises. Okay, this I’m sure is normal and is just Zoe learning to use her voice. I understand that if she doesn’t learn this skill now than when it comes time to have a tantrum in aisle three because I won’t buy her chocolate-covered sugar bombs she would be forced to reason with me. I will, under no circumstances, have my daughter argue coherently when there is a perfect opportunity for a screaming fit.

If you are looking at the photos of Zoe at—and you better be—than you will have noticed a few shots of her on a swing. We have discovered that she loves the swing. Today I took her to the swing, and when she got tired of that I decided to show her some of the other features of the playground. Usually it’s the swing, then leave. Today I slid her down the slide (while holding her). Hell on the back (mine, not hers) and she didn’t seem to grasp the fun of it. Then we tried the sand box. Bad idea. She had had her hand in her mouth, as usual, and then stuck it into the sand. I spent the next twenty minutes cleaning the grit from her hands and feet, since both would eventually be back into her mouth.

See photos of Zoe at

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Our Zoe is Growing Up

You’ll want to watch the accompanying video (at the bottom of this post) before you read another word. It’s the amazing footage I promised of Zoe sitting up. Alison and I have been working very hard with her, and as you can tell from the video she has almost completely mastered the skill. For those who listen to the audio portion of the video, again I have to apologize for my special ‘Zoe’ voice. As I said before, I don’t think this is the way I usually talk but perhaps it is.

This last week Alison, Zoe and I were in Boston. I attempted to write and publish this blog from there but oddly enough found no time. However, in the two weeks since I shot the above video Zoe has made unbelievable progress on the sitting-up front. Yesterday I put her in a sitting position (she can’t get there herself) and sat myself down, in a sitting position, across the room. Although she did fall backwards a few times (onto a pillow) and did a face-plant once (she took the opportunity to lick the matt) she basically sat by herself and played unattended. Yay!

On the 7th of September Zoe turned six months old. Every couple of months Alison goes through her cloths and weeds out those that no longer fit. It’s hard to imagine that she has grown enough to outgrow anything, but since birth she has gained about ten pounds and added over six inches to her height (or length, since she is mostly horizontal). The last batch that we (we being Alison) went through included some of our favorites, and more than anything highlighted how quickly she is growing up. As excited as we get when she learns new tricks (fetch, speak, sit) it’s also sad to know that she is actually going to grow up and most likely put a good-sized dent in my car. I also suspect that by the time she is in college she will no longer laugh with abandon when I blow raspberries on her tummy.

Unless you were just skimming this blog looking for celebrity gossip, you will have read that we were in Boston last week. I’m happy to report that Zoe screamed far less than other kids on the plane. In fact, even after her most difficult stage, after she fell asleep, the woman in front of us commented that our baby was not only the most adorable baby she had ever seen, but the best behaved and also the smartest. Okay, maybe she didn’t say all that stuff but she did comment positively and absolutely did not say, “Thank God she’s asleep,” which is what people were saying about the demon-child a dozen rows behind us. Not that we were happy that she screamed but I think it’s always better to have another child behave worse than your own. It really takes a lot of pressure off us parents.

On the way to Boston we were lucky that the person sitting in the isle seat was thin, didn’t smell and basically kept to himself. When he sat down I asked if he was planning to sleep—meaning don’t plan on sleeping—and that we were planning a row-wide sing-a-long of Wheels on the Bus a bit later on. He promptly fell asleep. Zoe, on the other hand, decided that sleeping did not suit her mood. On the way home we finagled an empty middle seat and she slept about four of the six ours we were on the plane. An infant sleeping on a long flight is almost better than sex.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Zoe Index

As Zoe approaches her sixth month birthday, in five days, I thought for a change of pace I would just post a few statistics correlating to those first six months.

153: The number of hours spent taking her photograph.
145: Number of those hours trying to get her to smile for the camera.

918: Number of hours spent on the nipple
5: Number of hours Dad spent on the nipple during the same five-month span one year earlier.

1: The number of times a cat was thrown up on.
130: The number of times one of Zoe’s parents were thrown up on.

1,224: Number of diapers used.
60: The percentage of diapers soiled in the first ten minutes of receiving a fresh diaper.

1: The number of nights Zoe has slept through the night.
1: The number of nights Mom and Dad has slept through the night.

79: The percentage of cloths that are hand-me-downs.
20: The percentage that were received as gifts.

25: The number of times Harry the cat has brought a live creature into Zoe’s room in the middle of the night.
25: The times Dad has had to chase a creature around her room while trying not to wake Zoe.
1: The number of times Mom has stepped on a creature Harry has brought into the house.

18: The number of ounces Zoe drinks from a bottle during an average day while Mom is at work.

0: The number of baby’s cuter than Zoe.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Big Developments

We’ve had some big developments in the last couple of weeks but more importantly I’ve learned that it’s a mistake to track the progress of another baby along with your own. We have friends in Kentucky who posted a video of their child, who is three weeks older than Zoe, sitting up and putting blocks into a basket. Our child can suck her toes while pooping. And that was one of her big developments. So, in order to stimulate her budding intellect we bought her an ExerSaucer, a monstrosity of plastic that is sold under the premise that it is really a teaching toy. Actually I bought it because I needed a place to stick Zoe while I ate a bowl of cereal. It has a dozen or so doodads that, for the most part just make noise. I guess if isn’t making noise the child isn’t learning. One of the ‘learning tools’ is a… actually it’s too much effort to describe, but if you push one of the three buttons it will say, “A.” Push it again and you get, “The apple is red.” Push it again and it will make a crunching sound. If you rest your little tiny baby elbow on it, it will cycle through continuously, endlessly. Zoe seems oblivious to the lesson, and when asked what color an apple is still can’t tell you, even though she’s been told, at my estimate, one thousand, five hundred and seventeen times.

Although Zoe is not yet sitting up on her own, she now can easily roll from front to back and back to front. Of course the first time she rolled from front to back we missed it, and although I eventually caught the event on video, she was crying the entire time, so the video is more like evidence of child abuse than a pivotal moment caught on film. She is also beginning to throw her toys, which I’m going to consider a big development since it demonstrates hand coordination, although it is more likely just random spastic movements.

And finally Zoe has learned about comic timing. What she will do is act all innocent and cute while you are running around the house gathering the fifty or so items you might need on a run to the store. She will wait until you are standing by the front door balancing all of these items and have entered the code to open the garage door and set the alarm, then she will either throw up down the front of your shirt or decide she needs to take her sixth poop of the day. I know it’s not random because she always follows up with a good laugh.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Zoe Turns Five (Months) and Uses a Spoon

On August 7th, Zoe’s five-month birthday, we took the opportunity to re-open The Baby Book to make sure her development was on-track. We had pretty much stopped reading the handful of baby books we have because their advice wasn’t in line with our natural baby raising skills. For example, I still think putting the talcum powder and the baby in a pillowcase and shaking is a great way to make sure all the crevices are coated. Some of Zoe's advanced skills are gleefully pulling out handfuls of Alison’s hair and shoving her entire fist into her mouth. She is also a pro at grabbing her toes and standing unsupported for .5 seconds. (I hope soon to publish the dramatic videos of these events.) According to “The Book” she is performing these actions as well if not better than a six month old, and is on track to becoming either a doctor or a tattoo artist. She also clearly understands what we are saying. For example, she knows what, “Up? Up? Up? 1, 2, 3 Up!” means, although she seems less sure about, “Fetch Daddy another beer then go watch TV.”

We recently tried feeding Zoe her first solid food. The word solid should be used loosely, since it’s a 1 to 3 ratio of solid to liquid. But since it is “solid” food, we have to feed it to her with a spoon. This requires that Alison hold her steady while I try to get the spoon into her mouth, a moving target. Remember back in the 80’s those little cocaine spoons that seemed to be popular as jewelry? No? Well the point is the amount of food that I am putting into her mouth would fit in one of those spoons. However, the amount that comes out of her mouth is about double that. The quantity of food I prepare is about a tablespoon of milk to a teaspoon of cereal. After fifteen minutes you couldn’t tell that any of the food was missing from the bowl, yet her bib seemed to have about three-quarters of a cup of the mixture spread over it. Ultimately she didn’t like it, and not only did it not put her into a deep sleep, which was the whole reason we started her on solids, but it gave her constipation. I’m not sure how a quantity of cereal that would fit on the head of a pin could give her constipation, but we’ve decided to wait a couple more weeks before trying again.

Addendum: Since I wrote the above post (often a week or more before it’s published) we have again tried to feed her solids, and we’ve expanded our repertoire to include carrots. The carrots have not been a big hit. She actually makes a gagging face when we put them in her mouth. After three spoonfuls there were carrots across Alison’s shirt and pants, the bib was coated and I don’t think any actually went down her Zoe’s throat. The big success was a bowl (think very large thimble) or rice cereal that was completely gobbled up. Although there were no ill health effects, it still didn’t make her sleep through the night. I think the next bowl will be one part cereal, three parts brandy.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Travels with Zoe, Part 2

I’ve mentioned this before, but thank heaven for boobs. (Actually, I’ve probably mentioned this in more than one context, but for the moment I’m referring to Zoe’s sole food source.) We have just returned from a four-day trip to Seattle (to visit Jill, Martin, Karin & Charlotte—see photo), a two-hour flight that was a test run for our six-hour flight to Boston in September. The flight out went fine, but our return flight required more attention and a lot more boob. The problem with flying with an infant these days is that most flights are full, so instead of being able to spread out over three seats you get crammed into the window and center seats, with some overweight smelly person in a deep sleep on the isle. If we were to take the center and isle seats, the window person would inevitably have a weak bladder and Zoe would inexplicably want to sleep. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is almost preferable to have ones bladder burst than to wake a sleeping baby.

On this flight, as well as our previous trip to LA, we flew Southwest, which, if you didn’t know, has open seating (at rock concerts this usually means a dozen people will be crushed to death attempting to get the front row seats). Now that we are allowed that restricted honor of pre-boarding, we must guard our third seat in the off chance that it is not a full flight. For those of you about to travel on Southwest with a child, here are some tricks to keep that third seat unoccupied.
  • Strap you child into the seat and pretend you don’t know them.
  • Change their diaper during the boarding process
  • Pinch them so they scream. No one wants to sit next to a screaming baby.
  • Pile the middle seat with all the baby paraphernalia and try to look harried (which shouldn’t be difficult).
  • Sing “The Wheels on the Bus” song in a loud and enthusiastic voice. If someone looks like they are going to sit anyway, let them know that they will be required to join in and do their part to entertain your child.
Inevitably your efforts will fail and one of you will spend your entire trip in the center seat with your tray-table piled high with drinks and snacks and your lap covered in toys and blankets, trapped by the snoring football player in the isle seat, and needing to use the bathroom as if you downed a couple of Super Big Gulps® as you were boarding.

See photos of Zoe at

Friday, August 3, 2007

Changes 2

Back in April, on the 28th to be exact, I posted two photos of Zoe in her car seat that showed how much she had grown in seven weeks. These three photos span four months. They were taken March 23rd, May 11th and July 20th. Click on each picture to see it in full size.

See more photos of Zoe at

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

High Jinks

Zoe has decided that her one sleeping-through-the-night experiment was a failure, and so joins us in our bed every two or three hours for a snack and a poop. Last night was more of the same, but with a little special something to top it off. After one feed and change I pulled Zoe close trying to calm her down so she would go back to sleep. After twenty minutes of her pulling out handfuls of my chest hair, flailing her arms and legs around and practicing using her vocal chords, Alison decided to try feeding her again. That often puts her to sleep. But she pooped again (followed by a burp worthy of a Quarterback). I got up to change her. I should note that I don’t own pajamas. I picked up Zoe and get about a step from the bed before she throws up everything she just ate. Did I mention I was naked? Zoe of course thought this was all a lot of fun.

The other day I tried to teach Zoe how to pet the cat. Given her propensity for ripping out my chest hairs I should have know that this was not a good idea. Instead of gently touching Tucker, she latches on with both hands. Oh, I forget to mention that these days her hands are always in her mouth and so are always wet. Anyway, Tucker is unhappy but seems to recognize that it is Zoe and does not bite her, what he would have done (and has done, to me) when he is touched in ways he prefers not to be touched. I quickly pry her fingers apart but so much fur has stuck to her hands it looks like she is wearing back mittens. I managed to rinse her hands off before she stuck them in her mouth again. I think she was just getting back at the cats, which are always trying to step on her.

See photos of Zoe at

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Zoe Learns to Read and Write!

Since my last post Zoe has learned to read and write. Okay, she hasn’t, but when I started typing this post I realized that two weeks have gone by since my last post. And I thought I had just submitted it a few days ago! So much for getting them to you every week. Anyway, after Zoe’s amazing roll from back to stomach she decided that she had done that and didn’t need to go there again. For two weeks she stayed solidly on her back, then two days ago she spent the entire day flipping to her stomach. She would then cry, we’d place her back on her back, and she’d do it again. Good thing we are still enthralled by her rolling, otherwise we would have duct-taped her to her play mat. No news yet on a reverse flip.

Now that Zoe is over four months old we could start feeding her solid foods. We’ve been encouraged by our pediatrician to stick with a breast-milk only diet for as long as possible, or six months, which ever comes first. But since she is still not sleeping through the night we are thinking that maybe some solid foods would sit a bit heavier in her stomach. Which is why I’m in favor of skipping the rice cereal all together and going straight to pureed sirloin. Of course that would immediately move her diaper contents into the superfund realm.

I’ve also noticed a cute little detail about her bottle feedings. As I mentioned previously, she will drink down the entire contents of a bottle without pause. I think if I put a nipple on a gallon jug of milk she could get through it (followed by a 6.2 on the Richter scale burp). So, she’ll slug back her four ounces and I’ll stand her up for her burp—she likes to stand, although she sways as if the milk gave her a handsome buzz—and as I’m pounding her back I can hear the milk sloshing around in her stomach. Given her propensity for throwing up on us and on the furniture (and once on the cat) I always aim her away from milk-sensitive items and I never play airplane or elevator after a feeding.

Last week Zoe had her four-month check up. All is well, and for those keeping score, here are her stats. She weighs 13 lbs 7 oz (almost as much as our larger cat) and is 24.5 inches tall, putting her solidly in the 50th percentile for both categories. And the doctor also confirmed that she is indeed the cutest baby in the world.

On a side note, I’ve added a link on the left to a very entertaining web site called “Sneaky Business,” a blog put together by a friend of mine. He describes it as, “The Economist meets The Onion.”

See photos of Zoe at

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Zoe Turns 4 (months) and Rolls Over

In my July 2nd post I noted that Zoe was working hard to turn over. I’m happy to report that on July 4th she accomplished that task three times. I was able to catch rollover number two on video, which you can watch above. I believe this short video will receive best cinematographer and best actress Oscars at the next Academy Awards. Unfortunately she has not repeated her performance, although some tummy-time almost produced a stomach to back roll. I will keep you updated as this skill is perfected. On the subject of videos, Alison and I don’t own a video recorder, but there is a video feature on my camera. Now that Zoe is getting older and a little more animated, and is beginning to perform tricks, I’ve started using this feature more often. I’ve noticed, however, that when you hear my voice in the background it always has this baby-talk lilt. I don’t intend to speak that way, which might just mean that that is how I actually sound when I speak. If so, I apologize to everyone that has had to listen to me over the years.

Zoe has also learned to recognize the camera, and will go from laughing with a full-face smile to a deadpan stare that will last until the camera is put away. When I was young my father was often taking pictures of us kids, but back then cameras required manual focusing that always took a minimum of five minutes per photo. We weren’t smiling because we had worn out our Zygomatic major muscle. As I am now a father myself, I understand why my father was always taking pictures. But my camera is instantaneous and shouldn’t produce any of those oh no, not the camera responses. I aim, push a button and voila, I have a photo, so there us no excuse for not smiling. There is a small orange light that glows if I perform a half-press (you know, to pre-focus) that Zoe stares at like I am aiming a flashlight at her (which I guess I sort of am), and I think that was distracting her. Now I don’t pre-focus, but like Pavlov’s dog, she’s conditioned herself not to smile when I lift up the camera. I’ve resorted to stealth photography, so what looks like artistic angles are actually my attempts to keep her from seeing the camera.

I’d also like to ask a question about this whole getting dressed activity. I understand why adults need to change out of their pajamas and into real cloths, but I’m not sure why it’s necessary for Zoe. The reason why I bring this up is that Zoe hates getting her shirt on. I squeeze this tight piece of cloth over her head, where it usually gets stuck or I scrape my wedding band across her scalp, then I have to twist her little arms through the sleeve holes. Just so she can look cute in a shirt that has some schmaltzy phrase (No offense intended for anyone who gave us one of these cute shirts.) Why not just leave in her pajamas? They’re more comfortable and she’s really cute in them, with their little feet. What’s the point of struggling with real cloths? All in favor of pajamas all the time say aye!

Today, July 7th, Zoe is four months old. Happy Birthday Zoe!

See photos of Zoe at

Monday, July 2, 2007

Fathers Day

It’s three weeks since my last post, which will give some idea about how much free time I have. I started to write an entry on Fathers Day, June 16th, but didn’t get very far and somehow three weeks have gone by. Alison has been back at work part time for almost a month and Zoe and I have established a very loose routine. Basically, though, the way it works is I cater to her every need and hope she won’t break down completely before Alison gets home.

The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was the eating issue. Zoe really wasn’t taking to the bottle, plus I was always struggling to heat a bottle under hot running water while Zoe was screaming and twisting in my arms, which wasn’t working and was using so much water it was making me meshuga (that’s the Jewish environmentalist in me talking). And if the milk were not warm enough she would reject it. When she’s hungry she really isn’t very patient. We finally invested in a bottle warmer, and although she still screams and squirms in my arms, it’s only for a couple of minutes and I use only an ounce of water. And not only does she no longer reject her bottle, she drinks it like a frat boy in a chugging contest. She used to drink an ounce, maybe two. Now she chokes down four ounces like she has a wager going. She then gets a glassy-eyed look and remains supine until I haul her over my shoulder, where she burps loud enough to shake loose a couple of tiles.

On the 7th of June she will be four months old. I stopped reading all the baby books we have, so I’m not sure where she is supposed to be developmentally. I think she is right where she is supposed to be, unless she should be talking or reading by now, in which case she is a bit behind the curve. Right now we are focusing on rolling over, something Zoe has been struggling unsuccessfully with for about two weeks. She makes it about two thirds of the way before getting stuck. I tried giving her a nudge with my foot while I was videoing one attempt, but no-go. She is now sleeping between six and eight hours at a stretch, and will usually fall back asleep pretty quickly after her very early morning snack. That means we (meaning Alison) are only woken up once during the night. Unless one of the cats (meaning Harry) brings us a present, then we (meaning me) has to get up and chase the injured rodent or bird around the house and haul it across the street to the park. If you see a man running down the street in his boxers swinging a mouse by its tail in the wee hours it’s probably me.

Other than having no time to do anything, staying at home with Zoe is a lot of fun. I only wish Alison were able to be here as well. Everyone (with kids) keeps telling me that it will get even better once she is mobile, however I think it’s pretty nice that I can put her down and she is still in the same spot when I come back. It certainly makes using the bathroom easier. It also took becoming a parent to understand why sometimes 9:00 pm seems like a reasonable time to go to bed.

See photos of Zoe at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Alison Returns to Work, Part 2

Today started my second week of being an official stay at home dad. Fifteen minutes ago I lay her down in her crib and she fell asleep almost immediately. Up until recently she has resisted naps, and would only fall asleep in our arms. I’m not naïve enough to think I have the magic touch, I just think that at three months babies begin to settle into more defined routines. So I am going to try, over the next couple of weeks, to figure out what her preferred routine is, and if that fails I’ll force her into a routine that is more convenient to me. A lot may depend on when she initially wakes up and if Alison is able to feed her before she leaves. Today she fed her around 7:00 and when I put her down she was not acting hungry. I expect when she wakes up from her nap she will be in a grouchy mood and will be even more upset when I offer her a bottle rather than a boob. (Which reminds me, I should start warming up the bottle now so it’s ready.)

The first week was easy at times and difficult some of the time. I spent my entire morning trying to predict her moods so she wouldn’t start crying. The problem is, one moment she’ll be laughing and smiling then I’ll turn away for just a second and she’ll start crying. Sometimes I would try to feed her and she would scream louder, but I wouldn’t know if it was just the bottle / boob issue. But by the end of the week I was beginning to figure it out. She really didn’t want a bottle but she was hungry. So I would give her the bottle, she would push it away, I’d wait a few seconds and try again. Eventually she would latch on and suck away while staring up at me with red, tear filled eyes.

Last night, for the first time, Alison and I went out together and we had a babysitter come in. Actually we had two babysitters, to women Alison works with who are both registered nurses. I was definitely more relaxed having two RN’s watching over our angel than a local high school student. I was told that they had no trouble feeding Zoe her bottle. In fact she drank a lot. I’m thinking that maybe I should hire them full time. But the point is that they took the bottle with no problem, which means that maybe she is actually getting used to the bottle and it will be easier to take walks with her knowing I won’t have a battle every time she gets hungry. And the fact that I successfully predicted that she was tired enough to go to sleep before she fell asleep on one of her toys, and that she actually lay down in her crib without crying or fighting (too much) means that I might actually get through this without going crazy. But here I am, being naïve.

I realize that I still have three and a half hours to go before Alison gets home, and that one good half morning is not really a benchmark I should base my future on, but for the moment I can pretend that I have this baby thing under control. In fact when Alison goes back to work full time I might even be able to handle Zoe for a full day.

By the time I posted this at the end of the day on Tuesday I had made it through seven days. I can’t say it will be easy, but so far I haven’t had a major crisis. But I know there will plenty of fodder for future blogs in the days to come. Stay tuned.

I would also like to welcome Charlotte "Charlie" Elaine Savitz, born May 23rd to Amy and Andy Savitz, and Audrey Madeline Sonta, born May 25th to Shari and Bill Sonta. Congratulations!

See photos of Zoe at

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Poo, et. al.

There must be a study out there that links the birth of a child to a physiological alteration in parents. No, I’m not talking about the many well documented changes that happen to a woman when she gives birth, but the lesser known and studied change that allows one to go from gagging at the thought of certain bodily excretions to scrutinizing the color and consistency of their child’s poop. I’m not saying that parents necessarily enjoy it doing this, although I’m sure many do, but that this task becomes routine so soon after birth. For example, I am amazed at how quickly I found myself doing snuger patrol, our cute name (everything has to have a cute name) for digging into Zoe’s pinky sized nose without gagging. Let’s be honest, snot is universally disliked (maybe even more so than poop, but since I don’t want to lower the standards of this blog I’ll leave that philosophical question for another place) but it’s almost fun twisting a tissue into a petite spade and digging for tiny treasures.

I have to admit that before baby came along the thought of having to deal with our baby’s secretions had me, um, worried. I tend not to like gross things, and although I wouldn’t say I have a weak stomach, a few of the things that would be leaking (or jettisoning) from our baby had the potential to gross me out. It doesn’t help that babies have no manners. When they sneeze they don’t cover their cute little mouths with their cute little hands, so you always get a cute little shower. I don’t know about all babies, but Zoe poops like an old man in a public restroom, long and loud. Like she invented pooping. But instead of grossing me out, like when the bum on the subway did this, I laugh at how cute our baby is.

Occasionally there are not-so-cute events, such as the so-called blow out. This is when your baby poops and it shoots up the back of her diaper and up her back. I know what you’re thinking; gross and can we change the subject? I promise to wrap this up quickly, but for those soon to be parents out there I wanted to pass along a few pieces of advice. First, always bring an extra outfit. Always! Second, dads, always claim incompetence. You may be mocked, sometimes scorned, and you may suffer, but there really is no question, moms just do a better job changing diapers. For example, one middle-of-the-night change I put the diaper on backwards. Alison has never put a diaper on backwards.

Parents devote a huge amount of time into the inspection and discussion of what is coming out of their child. I never really understood why this was until I became a parent, but if someone were to ask me I would probably tell them that our child’s various outputs are an indication of her health. Truth is, it’s just an excuse to avoid those tedious discussions about politics, art, etcetera that childless couples must endure. Trust me, it’s fun to talk about diapers and your child’s pooping ability’s. It’s like grade school playground talk for adults.

I think this is a topic that could stretch on for quite a while. I haven’t even gotten onto the subject of throw-up down the back of my shirt. Or the constant flow of drool, also down the back of my shirt. And since we have a girl I don’t get to discuss boys peeing issues. But I have years ahead of me and have just touched the tip of the diaper-berg. I will leave something for future blogs, when I return with Tales from the Diaper Pail.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Alison Returns to Work or Yikes, I’m On My Own!: Part 1

This may sound cliché, but wow, did Zoe’s first three months go by quickly. Really, I’m sitting here trying to get my mind around the fact that she is already three months old. My Zoe is three months old! I realize Alison and I have been watching her change daily. We notice that she is sleeping longer at night (but not yet through the night). She seems to be trying to grab things (but isn’t quite, yet). She is smiling often and has a very cute though abbreviated laugh. She’s filling out and has actually grown out of some of her cloths. And suddenly her head looks big. But it’s still hard to believe that she has been around for three months. And now Alison is heading back to work and I’m going to have to change all the diapers and try to get her to drink from a bottle and dress her. These are things Alison usually does. I suppose I could just keep her in her PJ’s, but there really is no getting around diaper changes and feedings. It’s the feedings I’m really worried about. Right now she really likes the boob. We give her the boob all the time. If she’s fussy she gets the boob. If she cry’s she gets the boob. If we want her to sleep we give her the boob. I don’t have a boob. When I’ve tried to give her a bottle she screams loudly and only takes the bottle after fifteen or twenty minutes of crying and pushing it away.

I know Zoe likes me. She laughs when I play with her, and she seems to like being held by me, at least most of the time. But sometimes she wants her mother, and only her mother. I can spend fifteen or twenty minutes trying to sooth her, holding her this way and that, but she’ll cry until the moment I hand her to Alison. There will be a sniffle or two, then calm. And this is before the boob even makes an appearance. On the few occasions when Alison has left me alone, I have had to deal with long periods of crying because nothing I do seems to satisfy her. I spend the entire time pacing across the living room with her in my arms, watching the clock, just waiting for Alison to get home.

It is now Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow morning Alison returns to her job. Early on we had talked about preparing Zoe—and me—for this day. I was supposed to start feeding her regularly from a bottle a month ago, to get her used to it, but haven’t. We were going to have her sleeping in her crib by now, but she seems to like sleeping either in our arms or in our bed (with us). And I was really hoping Zoe would be toilet trained by the time Alison returned to work, but she doesn’t even seem to recognize where the bathroom is. I’m sure everything will go fine. I’m not so worried about taking care of her, but that she will become upset early and I will spend four hours trying to calm her down. I expect that the first week or so will be the hardest, while we both adjust, then things will get easier and we can start really having some fun. But just in case, this is an open invitation for visitors to come by in the mornings for the next month or so, preferably visitors who like to sooth crying babies.

See photos of Zoe at

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Travel's with Zoe

Alison and I have recently taken two long car trips. Up until now the longest drive we have taken with Zoe was a two-hour trip to Monterey, when she was a month old but most of our drives are usually less than an hour, often just a trip into San Francisco or Walnut Creek, each about a half hour without traffic. Most of these short drive’s required a stop at some point, our pulling off the road at the first opportunity, for a feed and a calming down because she had reached a level three crying fit. (Level one is her usual bored or hungry or uncomfortable cry and can be dealt with fairly easily. Level two is usually about the same intensity, give or take, as level one, but usually means she is over-tired and simply requires patients (and pacing) since she usually has to cry herself out. Level three is painful to watch and hear. Sticking a sharpened awl in her ear wouldn’t increase the intensity.) So it was with some trepidation that we even considered a long drive, but we reasoned that flying and all the hassles it entails was more than we were ready to undertake. Plus anyone who has ever traveled with an infant knows that while it takes a village to raise a child, you take a village, or at least their luggage, when you travel with one.

Zoe turned two months old the week we drove to Los Angeles to visit her parents, a 752 mile round-trip journey. Two weeks later we drove up to Ashland, Oregon for the long Memorial Day weekend, 660 round-trip miles. We knew that for the drive to go well we would need her to sleep for a good portion of the drive, so timing was everything; feed, nap, go. The drive to LA is mostly along Route 5, a long, hot, flat and boring road through the central valley. On the day we drove down the temperature hovered in the high 90’s. This meant that when Zoe started screaming we would have to take the first exit we came to, one of the long, empty roads that disappeared into the distance, pull to the side of the road, and walk around in the dust with her on our shoulder. Usually a feed and some shoulder bouncing was all that was needed, but when you are trying to get someplace stopping every 100 miles can really make a long drive, well longer. At one point we were had stopped and were pacing with Zoe in the shadow of a shipping container (next to a fruit stand on a road occupied by miles of farmland) and we’re discussing finding a place to spend the night rather than suffer another few hundred miles. Ultimately we made it and by the time she had recovered from the drive we were heading home.

From this point on I can stop trashing Zoe’s traveling skills, because she seems to have decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and on the drive to Oregon she slept for three hours. Three hours! We had to make only one stop on the entire 330-mile trip, at which point my bladder was so distended that it was beginning to block my view. But we have a rule; don’t wake a sleeping baby.

Did I mention the amount of gear we brought with us? It used to be that Alison and I could go away for a long weekend with a bag that could fit in the trunk of my Miata. The trunk of my Miata is about the size of my bladder on the Oregon trip. With Zoe we bought a SUV (a hybrid, thank you), and we do a good job filling that up. Fortunately we also bought a stroller that is about the size of my Miata, so when we got to our destination we would throw Zoe over a shoulder and pile all the crap on the stroller. I could go down the list of things we travel with, but basically it’s everything. In about a month we’re taking another trip to LA, but because we’re only going for the weekend we decided to fly. I’m not sure what gear we’re bringing, but the big stroller is already off the list, which just means I’m going to throw out my back hauling the bare minimum we are going to bring. I’ll report back on that trip after I get out of traction.

I don’t think Zoe will always be easy to travel with, but I don’t think I’m always easy to travel with. But I hope she eventually learns to enjoy our trips. We’ll sing car songs and visit state parks and hopefully I won’t have to say, “Don’t make me stop this car,” too often (it’s my right as a parent to say that at least a few times). But I suppose I should enjoy these early days when often the problem is solved simply; a boob and a shoulder.

[I’ve started adding links to other websites on the left side of this screen. The two I have started with are both sites from friends of mine. I encourage you to check them out.]

See photos of Zoe at