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