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