Sunday, December 28, 2008

Getting Caught Up, Part I

It’s been a dog year since my last post, and if you remember my last entry I pounded out something at the last minute. So, what’s going on that I suddenly don’t seem to have the time to write? It can’t be her sleep schedule, which has actually improved dramatically in the last few weeks. And it can’t be the number of big projects in the works in anticipation of Number Two’s April arrival, since I have always had ongoing projects. But rather than dwell on the sad shape of this blog I will quickly move on to Part I of my Life with Zoe getting-us-caught-up blog.

This year for Hanukkah / Christmas Alison and I made an attempt to prevent our carbon footprint from expanding (although conversely we did little to bolster the sagging economy). In our efforts for a greener gift-giving holiday we did not overwhelm Zoe with gifts. She received a Sit’N Spin, which we purchased used on Craigslist. Almost immediately I rechristened it the Stand’N Fall. We also dusted off a Little People zoo and farm that we had received second-hand. It had been cornered away in the garage for over a year, and except for a couple of missing parts turned out to be in almost new condition. I expect to be tripping on little people for the next few years. She received a tea set made of 100% post consumer recycled material, and is fully recyclable at the end of its life. More on Zoe’s increasing understanding of make-believe in my next blog. She did get a few less than earth-friendly do-dads, but overall Alison and I can give ourselves big haughty pats on the back for saving the planet (or at least not adding to its destruction)

Zoe started a gymnastics class a few weeks ago. There are about ten kids Zoe’s age and one instructor. Let’s just say that Zoe will not be ready for the Olympics anytime soon. However, one exercise she did learn was a trampoline move called a seat drop, in which one lands in a seated position with the legs straight. Being the proud papa, I will brag that Zoe seems to be—and please, parents, correct me if I am wrong—the only child in the class coordinated enough to leap up and throw both of her legs out in front of her. However, she has taken this beyond the class. I have seen her perform this move at the top of the slide before catapulting herself down. She will automatically do this very time she is on the couch or on a bed. And when I am stretched out on my stomach on the floor and she is balancing on my back she will often perform this trick just to hear the whoosh of air escaping from her flattened father.

Part II of my Life with Zoe getting-us-caught-up blog will follow shortly, so check back soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Early Indication of Turning Two

I usually work on this blog across the span of a week, slowly and meticulously building it into the Pulitzer prize worthy blog that you have come to enjoy almost every week (unless I am away on a speaking engagement). This week we are going to do things a little differently. I am going to pound out a blog in the span of a half hour, ignoring standard conventions such as proper punctuation and spelling (unless my trusty assistant—otherwise known as spell check—catches my error). There could be two reasons I am doing this. The first could be because I want to be more spontaneous, creating a blog with an edge; what my former colleague used to call gonzo journalism. The other, and the more likely reason, is that I didn’t get to it this week, and here it is Sunday, my unofficial deadline, and I have nothing. That reason would also explain this long, pointless introduction.

This week Zoe has not been sleeping well. Actually it’s been more like two weeks. It began with an illness that brought her into our bed. It also has something to do with our bedtime routine that we have vowed to change, starting last night. Normally we bring her into our bed, give her some milk, read her a stack of books, and then let her fall asleep in our bed. Once she is asleep, anywhere from ten to thirty minutes later, I will carry her asleep into her room. Lately she will either wake up the moment she touches her mattress, climb to her feet and commence crying. Or she may wait an hour or two before waking up. Either way, our nights are filled with Zoe. Last night was the wake on contact version, so instead of letting her cry for an hour (as we did the previous night) or pulling her into our bed to get her back to sleep (two nights previous) we sat in her room and spent about an hour calming her down and getting her lay down. When we left she cried for about ten or fifteen minutes, but then slept until six-thirty. Obviously we can’t sit with her for an hour every night, but her bedtime routine will now take place in her room. Obviously I will keep you informed as to our progress (as long as you check back here frequently).

Zoe has developed another habit, which we think she learned from her friend Tallulah. She has started stating that objects are ‘Mine’. This is normal in children her age, and someone explained that is actually a good thing. This statement of possession is paired with her other favorite word, ‘No’. She is not too empathetic yet. For example, she may state that something is ‘mine’ but if we ask her if we can have it she will hand it over. And as for ‘no’, she will often use it before she has even absorbed the question. For example, if we ask her if she wants a cookie, she will first say no, then realize what we asked her and say yes. This only means that I ask her what she wants as a matter of protocol. Ultimately she gets what I give her.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Early Acceptance Program

Recently I have been having some anxiety that I have missed an important deadline concerning Zoe’s education. Next September she will be two and a half, and maybe I have waited too long to get her into the ‘right’ preschool. As everyone knows, the ‘right’ preschool will guarantee that she is accepted into an Ivy League college. It is a child’s preschool that determines whether said child will have a bright and glorious future or a dark, lonely life filled with failure and misery. With Zoe’s future in my hands I have begun the arduous task of researching and touring and sending in waiting-list deposits (greasing palms is not out of the question). I have a long list of requirements and I have very high standards that must be met. Currently my first choice is the school that is a block away from the coffee shop with the free Wi-Fi. Actually my only criterion at the moment is that the school be near a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi. Tasty baked goods are also high on my list. I’m a firm believer in the, ‘No Croissant Left Behind’ act.

While having a conversation with a friend recently I was distracting Zoe by dangling her upside-down by one ankle over my right shoulder. My friend was visibly nervous and asked if I was worried about dropping her. Obviously I was not, otherwise I wouldn’t have been holding her like that (or maybe I’m just a risk taker?). But it got me thinking, and I realized that sometimes I play a little rough with Zoe, and it is not rare that while we are playing Zoe will get hurt in some small way. Twice I thought I had broken one or both of her legs (I had not), and she is always bumping her head (though I have yet to knock her cold). Although I am not always the direct cause of the head bumping (or other small injuries) I can often take some of the blame because I either urged her forward or did not discourage her from some risky action. Personally I don’t think of myself as a rough and tumble sort of guy, and I don’t directly put her in harms ways, but I didn’t discourage Zoe when she wanted to stand on one end of the seesaw, for example. Situations like that, I feel, help her develop her balance; and builds stamina when she falls off. Today at the park I told her to try walking up the slide part of the slide, which she did, only to stumble at the top and whack her head against a post. And I didn’t stop her when she wanted to stand up in the Eames chair, and boy weren’t we both surprised when it tipped over. I don’t want her to become a daredevil when she is older, I’m too nervous for that, but I don’t want her to be afraid to try things because there is a risk. Of course it’s easy to say that now when I can control most situations she gets into. I’ve already decided to forbid her to get a drivers license.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

It's A Boy

Well, the news is out. All you folks whispering in the corners, filling the airwaves with speculation, can now sit back and wink knowingly to one another. Yes, Alison is pregnant. Based upon a series of ominous signs, gut feelings and scientific tests we have concluded that we are having a boy who will arrive sometime in April. I’m not sure what I will call this blog at that point (as if I will have any time to write) but I am considering Stay close to your computer for frequent (or not) updates.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Day-in-the-Life

One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home-dad is the random socializing with everyone who wants to comment on Zoe’s cuteness. It helps that Zoe is so charming. I can always count on her to give a big hello or blow a kiss to that cute girl in the coffee shop. Then all the ‘Oh, she’s so cute’ and ‘How old is she?’ and ‘Now I know where she gets her good looks and muscles from’ start. However, Zoe does not discriminate and will just as quickly charm the two hundred pound mustachioed lady wearing the purple tutu. Since Zoe’s conversational skills end at ‘hi’ and I’m too polite to turn my back on anyone, I often get drawn into long, nonlinear conversations, often involving cats and/or Jesus. I’m afraid that once Zoe starts talking, she will take to inviting these ‘creative’ people home for dinner.

Zoe has a large bag with big Lego-like building blocks. There are five different colors and ten shapes. Zoe likes to empty the entire bag on the floor and connect a series of these blocks. However, she will only stack the same color and shape block. As she builds she will say, “More,” and it is my job to find more of the pieces she is using. If I hand her a piece that is a different color or shape, she will abandon the stack she is working on and start a new stack. I will often build something alongside her that uses various shapes and colors, as an example of the possibilities, but she more often seems baffled at my creations and will quickly disassemble them. No, not OCD (commonly characterized by obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts) or OCPD (stress perfectionism above all else, and feeling anxious when they perceive that things are not "right"). She is simply meticulous and perfectionistic. Here are a few people throughout history who have shared this trait; Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Shakespeare. I bet now you’re impressed?

Zoe will eat food scavenged from our floor, food found in the crevices of her car seat, or food picked up off the ground at the playground, but she will not eat something carefully prepared and placed in front of her. I think I’m going to try hiding broccoli amongst her toys and sprinkling fruits and other vegetables around at the playground as an experiment. Maybe she only like’s foods that have ‘marinated’ for a few days, or have had all the moisture pressed out of them by the bottom of someone’s shoe? It’s the same when she is sharing snacks with her friend Tallulah. They will consume each others snacks but reject their own. Actually, Tallulah’s mom always packs better snack anyway; I just pack a few goldfish into to the back to make it look like I prepared.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

‘Mama’ is not an Answer

Zoe loves books. If you are playing with her she will just as often bring you a book to read as some toy. However, Zoe is not the gentlest when it comes to books (or anything) and her attention span is that of a nineteen month old, so we are limited to short, board books. We have a fairly large library of this type of book, but she has her favorites and we have our favorites, which means that the same books get read over and over and over (and over and over). In fact, I think between Alison and I we have read Goodnight Moon about five hundred times. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating by a hundred or so, but during a recent reading of Goodnight Moon I found myself thinking about something completely unrelated. I had memorized the book and was no longer actually reading it. The year before Zoe was born my New Year resolution was to read a book a week for the entire year (I fell short by two books, although I should get extra credit for Don DeLillo’s 800 page Underworld). I now read up to a dozen books a day, but oddly don’t seem to get the same satisfaction. I’m looking forward to Zoe being old enough for chapter books, although I do realize that bedtime story reading time will become exponentially longer, and the books might turn out to be equally tedious. Maybe I should introduce her to video games instead?

In an attempt to give Zoe some autonomy we have started to give her choices. For example, I might ask her to choose which shoes she would like to wear, or if she wants to stay upstairs with Mommy or go downstairs with Daddy. I believe asking her to make her own decisions helps her develop language and cognitive skills. However, she more often than not will just answer with a ‘yah’ to both sides of the questions. But even more irritatingly she will respond with a non sequitur, such as, “Mama.”
• Dad: “Zoe, do you want Some Cheerios in your snack cup?”
• Zoe: “Mama.”
• Dad: “Zoe, do you want any Cheerios?”
• Zoe: “Mama.”
• Dad: “Okay, should we go outside and blow some bubbles?”
• Zoe: “Mama.”
If you’ve ever watched the Simpson’s you may recall the image of Homer throttling Bart. Not that I would ever hurt one hair on Zoe’s angelic head, but by the end of the day I have heard ‘Mama’ in response to enough questions that I envy Homer’s repercussionless ability to vent.

Last year Alison, Zoe and I participated in the Kaiser Permanente (Alison’s employer) sponsored, Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. When the flyer came out for this years walk we were surprised to see Zoe prominently featured. This was the flyer that was distributed to all Northern California Kaisers. Click here to see this portend of Zoe’s future as a star of stage and screen.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Walk in the Park

Our house sits on the border of John Hinkel Park, a 4.9-acre hilly and wooded area that was donated to the city in 1918. There are a number of crumbling trails winding through the hills, an aging outdoor amphitheatre built into the hillside, a deteriorating redwood clubhouse, and a somewhat forlorn playground consisting of a few swings, an ancient metal slide and an old-fashioned style seesaw. We’ve lived in our home for four years and have only walked through the park a handful of times. But recently I have started spending more time there, mostly on weekends while Alison is napping. On hot days it’s pleasantly shaded. This morning there was a chill in the air that I equate with East Coast fall days, so the park today seemed even more tranquil than usual, and perhaps a bit nostalgic. And although Zoe is not quite old enough to really enjoy the winding, crisscrossing paths, she still enjoys climbing on the benches dotting the paths and she particularly likes the old, metal slide. Except for the weekend theatre company that arrives each summer, the park doesn’t get a lot of use and it is not rare that we will wander through and don’t run into anyone. Alison and I sometimes talk about moving back to the East Coast, or even moving closer to the hospital where she works, but I think living near this park makes our current home unique, and should we stay I hope it is someplace that Zoe will eventually enjoy as much as I do.

Zoe's favorite song these days is the toilet paper song. You see, in a hopeful and ultimately premeditated spurt of optimism (and misread signs) we purchased a child’s potty. We chose a model that voices encouragement through song and positive reinforcement for performing various potty tasks. On one side of the ‘tank’ there is a spindle that is supposed to resemble a roll of bath tissue. Spin it and the toilet will say various things, one of which is the toilet paper song. It goes something like this. “Toilet-paper, toilet-paper, on a roll, next to me, I can take a few squares, maybe one or two squares, how about three? Hurray for me!” Zoe will give the roll a spin than do a little jig along with the music. Fortunately she seems to have abandoned the real toilet paper or this singing one. Unfortunately, the few times I have attempted to sit her on this potty she has locked all her joints into a rigid board and yelled, “No!” In an unrelated piece of developmental news she can now use a spoon to get liquid from a soup bowl to her mouth most of the time (although the space between the bowl and her mouth also gets its share).

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cute Things She Does

Zoe speaks almost non-stop now. If you ask her a question she will either give a long response or answer, Yah.” This morning I asked her what she was playing with. This was her answer. “Esht ma beya yash la ma eshya et ah,” or something to that affect. She is also a pro with ‘Bye’. If she sees a plane flying overhead or a bus drive by she will yell Bye a few times and wave. When mom leaves in the morning she will yell ‘Bye’. If we are in the kitchen and she walks into the living room she will yell ‘Bye’. The Yah is less accurate. If I ask her if she wants some juice she will answer ‘Yah’. But if I ask her if she would like to be devoured by tigers she will also answer ‘Yah’. This works in my favor as I may ask her if she wants to play quietly in the corner while I watch the baseball game, and she will most often answer ‘Yah’. Of course asking and receiving are two different animals.

Zoe has unique 'forbidden' radar, a sixth sense, if you will. It works by quickly identifying things that she should not get in to or do. Here are some examples. She will be playing quietly by herself and I'll open a cabinet with a child lock. Suddenly she is there next to me trying to push me aside so she can get into it. Or I'll put something that needs to go downstairs on the other side if the gate, on the top step. A moment later she is on her stomach reaching through, trying to grab it. Likewise when I empty dishwasher. If I open the door she will suddenly appear in the kitchen. I am then forced to grab one item at a time, close the dishwasher door, and put that item away. Then repeat the process until the it’s empty. If there is one square foot of mud in a football field she will find it. If there is a pen near the edge of a table, she will grab it. If I put my glasses down on the coffee table she will instantly know it, even if she is asleep. I, on the other hand, will spend an hour trying to remember where I put my glasses.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Zoe threw up on the plane ride back from Boston. Well, Alison has a theory that has been tested twice. On the last two occasions Zoe was given a new book she has thrown up shortly after being read this book for the first time. This morning, on the way out for coffee, we stopped at a bookshop and I bought her a new book. If she throws up tonight I will ban all new children’s books from the house.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

So Many Changes, Part 2

Every week we see Zoe change, and lately she seems to have moved into overdrive. Her coordination and strength has visibly improved. She can now balance herself between the coffee table and the couch (until the coffee table slides away—thump). She can climb up the steps of her slide one handed while carrying her bubbles, and at the park she climbed a vertical ladder to the top. She is speaking at least a few dozen words (although some interpretation from Mom or Dad is usually required). She has also suddenly become interested in dressing herself. She will scavenge up some piece of clothing, not necessarily her own, and try to pull it on. Nine times out of ten this activity will end in a scream of frustration, since she almost always tangles herself up to the point of immobility. But probably the biggest sign of change we have seen came the other day. I was reading her a book, and when we finished she took it from me and put it back on the shelf before grabbing another one. Now if she could just figure out how to change her own diaper…

Mom and Dad interact with Zoe in different ways. Here are some examples.
  • Mom will hug Zoe and say, “I love you.” Dad will hang Zoe upside down and say, “I’m going to drop you.”
  • Mom will sit with Zoe on the couch and read her a book; Dad will sit Zoe on the couch and hit her with a pillow.
  • Mom will sing ‘All Around the Mulberry Bush’ while turning the Jack-in-the-box; Dad will teach Zoe how to use the top of the box as a catapult.
  • Mom will look for opportunities to kiss Zoe; Dad will look for opportunities to startle Zoe.
  • Mom will roll the ball to Zoe; Dad will bounce the ball off of Zoe’s head.
  • Dad will intentionally push the stroller through the bushes; Mom won’t.
  • Mom likes to sit Zoe on her lap; Dad likes to sit on Zoe.
  • Mom will tell Zoe what each stuffed animal is; Dad will see how many stuffed animals he can fit down Zoe’s shirt (it’s a counting exercise!).

The other evening I gave Zoe some raisins and Cheerios in bowl and sat her down on the kitchen floor while I made dinner. She was playing with a spatula and when I looked down she had spilled her snack out onto the floor and was sweeping the spatula back and forth, spreading the raisins and Cheerios in a widening arc. I asked her to stop, and she did (!?), but when I asked her to help put them back in the bowl she sat there watching me pick them up. I asked her a half dozen times and on the very last Cheerio she picked it up and handed it to me. Raisins and Cheerios are a frequent snack, but they regularly escape. I often find squished raisins stuck to the bottoms of my socks, or flattened and pulverized little circles of Cheerios in the middle of the floor. Though I guess those are still better than the periodic lost grape.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Travels with Zoe, Part 3

Because Zoe is crazy for bubbles (bubbles is one of the handful of words that she says clearly) I recently bought her a spill-proof bubble maker. It’s much like those that we grew up with—a wand gets dipped into soap and a gentle, steady breath creates bubbles—but since she tips and drops the container every three seconds the spill-proof container has already paid for itself in soap. However, we are having some trouble teaching her the art of creating bubbles. She will usually press the wand against her lips. In fact, she seems to like the taste of the soap and will just as often stick the soapy wand into her mouth and suck it like a lollipop as try to create bubbles. At the end of bubble time she always has a soapy film around her mouth. Why is it that I can’t get her to eat her lunch but she will have a second, third, even fourth helping of soap?

Our recent trip to Boston has caused me to reconsider any travel in the near future. The large amount of luggage didn’t bother me. We’ve traveled with her enough that we have that part of traveling under control. But this particular trip had a few quirks.
  • We purchased a seat for Zoe, so we were able to spread out, yet my tray still ended up holding all the drinks and snacks. It was inevitable that the entire cup of ginger ale would spill on my crotch.
  • We had a crib brought up to our hotel room. I’m not sure why we wasted the space as we could count on one hand the number of hours Zoe spent in it. I guess so I would have something to stub my toe on at three in the morning when I got up to figure out why the room temperature had dropped to minus twenty.
  • M&M’s do melt in your hand. And the color is easily transferable.
  • I took Zoe on a swan boat ride in the Public Garden. The swan boats take about ten minutes to circle around the duck pond. Two minutes into the ride Zoe was repeating, “Off. Off.”
  • After our stay at the hotel we moved to the home of our friends Seab and Ali on the other side of Harvard Square. They have converted their third floor into a private guest suite. It will now be forever remembered as the first place where Zoe fell out of bed.
  • We thought the piercing, incessant screaming of the child across the row from us on the return flight would make our sleeping child the darling of the plane; until she threw up. Twice. It was a good thing I had washed the ginger ale off my pants.
But for all the negatives there were twice as many positives. Zoe charmed everyone, was usually on her best behavior, acted cute in front of friends and family, performed all the tricks we have taught her, and did not make the new parents we visited wish they had been more careful.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008


Today, September 7, 2008, Zoe turns one and a half! She gave us a birthday present of a full night sleep, not waking up until 6:50 am. Of course at 6:30 I was awake and imagining the various toys she could have choked on. BUT I SLEPT UNINTERRUPTED UNTIL 6:30!

I’m back after a short break. We’ve been away these last couple of weekends; first to Stinson Beach then up to Healdsburg in the heart of Sonoma wine country. Living in the San Francisco Bay area there are dozens of great places just an hour or two away. Unfortunately there is also almost always traffic, so that hour stretches into two. Zoe hates sitting in traffic almost more than her father (and she is definitely more vocal about it), and can be a terror on the getting-there and going-home parts of these getaways. She probably hates the long drives because she is so filled with energy. She barely tolerates a long hug never mind being strapped down for an hour or more. We try to distract her with snacks and songs and when all else fails we will exit the highway in search of French fries.

We are deep into the uh-oh stage. Every action receives an uh-oh. Sometimes it’s for a legitimate reason; she’s knocks over her sippy cup or drops a toy or slips, but more often the uh-oh will not only be unnecessary but downright inappropriate. Here’s an example.
  • The Scene: Zoe is sitting at the table eating lunch. She is dangling a piece of pasta over the edge of the table.
  • Dad: “Zoe, do not drop the pasta.”
  • Zoe: Looks Dad straight in the face, hand hovering.
  • Dad: “Zoe…”
  • Zoe: Drops the pasta and leans over to see where it has landed. Looks up at Dad and deadpans an uh-oh.
The problem is that she is so damn cute when she says uh-oh that it’s hard to remain stern. She does this other really cute thing that probably saves her from being put up for adoption. Let’s say it’s 2:30 in the morning. She will start to cry in such a way that you know she is not really upset, she just wants you to come in and get her. (The Eskimos have one hundred words for snow; Zoe has one hundred levels of crying). You can try to ignore her but she will just increase the volume until she breaks your will, which really isn’t too hard at 2:30 in the morning. I will storm from the bed, planning on being firm and angry with her, but the moment I open her door she will stop crying and greet me with a cheery ‘hi’. Damn her for being so cute!

At the park recently someone gave Zoe her very first Oreo-style cookie (it was actually a Newman-Os). It looked large in her tiny hand, and after staring at it for a few moments she gripped each cookie side with a hand and separated it into two pieces. She then proceeded to eat the creamy filling first. This leads one to ask the obvious question; are humans genetically hard-wired to eat the center of an Oreo before the cookie part?

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Monday, August 18, 2008


Zoe and I were at the park recently and Zoe borrowed some other child’s toy stroller. It was big enough for a doll, or Zoe if she squeezed into it. She played with it for a half an hour and I had to pry it out of her hands when we left. So, although it is the epitome of a cheap junky plastic that will surely break after a short time, and of which zero percent of it is recyclable, I went out and bought one for her. It was ten dollars and was probably manufactured for thirty cents deep in the bowels of China. When Zoe used it for the first time at home she put too much weight on the grips and landed face down on the kitchen floor, at the same time catapulting the toy across the kitchen and into the two cats that were patiently waiting for their dinner and seemed to have already identified this new contraption as an adversary. Zoe recovered quickly (quicker than the cats, who still run at the first sound of the cheap plastic wheels crossing the floor) and has already cajoled me into pushing her (at break-neck speeds) around the house while she is wedged into the seat, something that I’m sure it was not designed for and had it come with any warnings I’m sure would have strongly advised against such use.

Part of the reason for this blog is so that at some point in the future Alison, Zoe and I can read some of these old entries and get teary eyed with nostalgia (the other reason is to entertain my loyal fan with my wit and poignant insight). So, with that in mind here are a couple of highlights from Zoe’s play mat. Zoe has two sets of lightweight stacking blocks that I am required to pile up just so she can knock them over. However, she gets so excited that she rarely waits until I have built it up to any substantial height. My goal is to build it higher than her head but I rarely have a chance; probably for the best since it would most likely land on her head. It’s these blocks spread out all over the floor that make our living room look as if it was hit by a tornado at the end of each day. When she is sitting alone her preference is for the latch puzzle. I think this particular puzzle is intended for older kids because the latches are somewhat stiff and require a higher level of coordination than Zoe is currently is capable of. But the released latches reveal pictures behind the doors, and she will spend ten minutes opening and closing these doors. Ten minutes! That’s an entire cup of uninterrupted coffee. However, if a latch is closed she will carry the entire wood and metal contraption over to me, and then so much for a quiet cup of coffee.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008


Zoe understands much of what I say. She’ll identify objects I point out. If I ask her to pick up a specific toy and hand it to me, she will pick it up; than drop it inches from my hand. If I ask her to put the toy in the toy box, she will, or at least attempt to (unless she gets distracted on her way). If I ask her to give daddy the breakable or dangerous item she knows to run in the opposite direction, screaming like I’m taking away her favorite toy. And if I ask her to give daddy the keys she will drop them in a hard to reach spot then run in the opposite direction, laughing. These actions indicate that she understands what I want of her, even if her response is not exactly what I was hoping for. So why, if I ask her where something is—“Zoe, where are your shoes?”—she will stare at me with a blank look. “Zoe, shoes? Do you know where you put your shoes? Shoes, Zoe?” Nothing. Just a blank look. Why can’t she at least glance over to where she was playing with them, or at least scan the room to as if she cared where they are? Personally I think she is taunting me. I fear that this is just the beginning of what may be years of rebellious behavior.

Every night Alison and I plot a treacherous course through the turbulent seas of Zoe’s bedtime routine. Eight o’clock is her bedtime, but there are nuances to timing it right; too early and she’ll bounce on the bed and even voluntarily hand you her pacifier—reserved only for sleep time—in a defiant, “I’m not going to bed,” move; too late and she can’t get her overtired body to shut down. Either way she usually fidgets so much that one wishes that Dr. Spock had okayed the use of chloroform as a sleep aid. First, though, is teeth brushing, which is sometimes not unpleasant. Zoe has a low tolerance for this necessary task and at times she makes brushing the cat’s teeth seem easy. We then move on to some warm milk. She will recline against one of us and give us the false impression that she is going to simply doze off as she drinks. Not so. Next we read her three or four books, chosen from a stack of a dozen or so, all of which have been read many mind-numbing dozens of times. Then come the wiggles and the face touching (past the point of endearing and into the territory of wanting to break her little fingers). At some point she is transferred into her own bed and Alison and I spend the rest of the evening trying not to step on the creaky part of the floor.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

World-class Climber

I know all kids climb on things, and I don’t really know what’s normal for seventeen months, but I suspect that there is a direct correlation between a child’s climbing ability and their parent’s willingness to let them do things untethered, so to speak. I see parents at the park with kids Zoe’s age who will not let their child go down a slide on their own, whereas I’m usually too lazy to get up and accompany her. By ten months I was already putting her at the top of the slide and letting go. Only occasionally would she shoot off the bottom and land in a heap. Unfortunately for her I was usually taking a photo and was not there to catch her (but I’ve got some great shots). Around the house she quickly learned how to climb up onto her highchair, and her favorite spot is usually standing on a piece of furniture. She’s been practicing standing on her rocking chair, and I’m really not sure how she has not done a 360° off of it yet. However, where she is fearless with heights she will not crawl through tunnels, no matter how hard I’m pushing her from behind. I would lead by example, as I have done with the slide, but I’m afraid I would get stuck and would have to send Zoe for help, like Lassie only less dependable. Anyway, check out the video below of her climbing the “wall” at the park. I edited out the part where she fell off the side.

Last week I had a great idea for a gadget. Here is another one that will make me rich (and you too if you invest now). I was at a store recently and while I was talking to the sales person Zoe was wandering around. I was giving myself whiplash trying to watch her and talk. The salesperson, who was also drawn into the whole don’t-let-her-out-of-sight game, suggested a GPS like device that would blink a little arrow on a map indicating where she was, in the event she wandered away. However, I thought that a small device implanted under her skin that, when activated, would give her a small shock would be more affective. Instead of wasting time tracking a little arrow around the store I would just quickly go toward the short scream. Of course it would be low enough voltage that it wouldn’t leave a mark or leave her writhing in agony on the floor; after all I’m not inhumane.

Recent photos:
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Haircuts and Blueberries

I seem to recall an early blog entry in which I came up with a few time and effort saving devices for managing baby. The market for baby gear is huge and I think that this one particular gadget could make my fortune. I decided to revisit this idea a few days after we purchased the 50-pound basket of blueberries from Costco. Turns out Zoe likes blueberries and for two days ate only blueberries. Then she threw up. But Zoe doesn’t chew her food very well. And blueberries take some time to digest. And Zoe doesn’t give us any warning before she hurls vomits. The end result required six loads of laundry and a night in the guestroom. Blueberries have now been banned from our home. Now back to the gadget. I envision a large blender-like devise, in which the ‘blades’ create a vortex that, when the child (or item, such as a pillow) is dipped in, clothed or not, whips off any offending material from said child (or item, such as a pillow). Given our recent experience it should be large enough to fit an adult as well. I will be raising funds shortly if you’d like to get in on the ground floor of this revolutionary idea (which will not be sold in stores).

On Friday Zoe had her first haircut. It was long overdue (her hair hung down in front of her eyes like an Old English Sheepdog) and she would not wear a barrette. I remember as a teenager my mother constantly harping on me to get my hair out of my eyes, and I could never really understand why, if it didn’t bother me, it bothered her so much. Well, now I know. It looks bad. That’s it. There’s really no other reason. I don’t remember it affecting my vision and it didn’t seem to affect hers. But it was bad enough that each week even her music class teacher would say, “Still haven’t gotten it cut?” We brought Zoe to our local Snippety Crickets, and even though they gave Zoe a toy to hold and there were a ton of distractions around the room she still started to cry as soon as we put her on the chair. Alison ended up holding her. The woman cutting Zoe’s hair was Russian and was tender in the way that all former KGB torture specialists are tender; but she was fast. And it looked really good for the first half hour, until Zoe’s hair settled into it’s natural position, then it simply looked like an uneven pageboy haircut. But not surprisingly it looks better. You can now see Zoe’s whole adorable face. But more importantly, my mother would have been happy.

Happy Parents Day to all the moms and dads out there.

Recent photos:
First Haircut:
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two-week Recap

Two weeks ago we crammed everything we own into the car and drove into the thick of 4th of July traffic for Zoe’s first camping experience. We were meeting four friends at a campground about 175 miles north of San Francisco, or about five hours with traffic and screaming. The camping we had planned was not really roughing it. One of the couples we joined works in the wine industry and brought a collection of very nice wines, complete with Riedel wine glasses. We had risotto the night we arrived, and Alison and I brought a king-sized down comforter to keep us cozy. As with most big state park campgrounds, the sites were worn down to bare dirt and the area surrounding each site denuded of anything that would burn. But the park was on a beautiful stretch of the coast and Zoe loves being outside so she had a blast spending her entire day playing around the campsite. By the end of the weekend her feet and fingernails were black and she had probably consumed equal amounts dirt and food. Sleeping in the tent proved better than I could have imagined. When she woke up early we didn’t have to get up to get her and we didn’t have to worry about her falling off the bed. She could clamber all over us and wander about the tent (only a two and a half foot person can wander about in a backpacking tent) and we could pretend we were actually sleeping without worrying that she was getting herself into trouble. Oddly enough, it all seems so much more relaxing in two-week retrospect.

Last weekend I flew solo back to Boston for three days for a farewell party for a friend moving home to India. I was secretly looking forward to uninterrupted sleep and late mornings. I was halfway satisfied; very late nights out and a three-hour time change meant that when I guiltily pulled myself from bed at 10:00 AM east coast time it was still only 7:00 AM west coast. It was great seeing everyone, but I was the proud Papa that took every opportunity to pull out the iPod that I had loaded with hundreds of photos of Zoe and show her off to everyone patient enough to sit through the slide show (or too polite to say no). At the farewell party I seemed to gravitate toward the other parents to discuss weighty issues like nap times, eating, sleeping and all the other important topics that I had politely avoided discussing with my non-childrened friends. I guess it just goes to prove that you can take the Dad away from the baby, but you can’t take the baby away from the Dad.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Am I Too Old for This?

What’s for breakfast? Jelly and cheese. Dad toasts a slice of bread, covers it with jam and cuts it into three-quarter inch squares. He slices some cheese into strips and puts a full-frontal bib on child. To eat, child presses a square of jam-covered toast into mouth and after a few moments of moving about in said mouth removes toast, sans jam. Child places soggy square on table beside plate or hands to dad. If dad does not respond fast enough child drops soggy square on floor while staring dad in the eye; follows with cute ‘no’ shake of head. Child periodically grabs three of four strips of cheese and crams them into her mouth with ball of hand. At end of meal child rubs jam-covered hands over tabletop and hair and presses thumb into and through remaining pieces of food on plate. Child then sweeps food off plate and onto floor and laughs hysterically. Child twists and screams when dad wipes child’s face and hands. Once removed from strapped-in position on chair, child eats pieces of food off floor before dad has a chance to pick up all said pieces. Child climbs on dads back while dad wipes jelly off floor. Dad grimaces when he remembers that there are still two meals and countless snacks remaining in day.

A mom at the park recently gave me a CD of children’s songs by Elizabeth Mitchell. The music is pleasant to listen to, not the usual saccharin, insipidly worded music of most children’s collections (think Raffi). But even better than the quality of the music, it seems to relax Zoe. Every time I put it on she will sit in a corner of her mat playing quietly with the half dozen toys closest to her. She will go back and forth from one to another, completely focused. When she gets into one of these zones she behaves as if it’s the first time she’s ever seen each toy. She'll turn the knobs, lift the balls, remove the parts, and laugh to herself. Lately I’ve been pleased to see her experiment with her toys, mixing them up and stacking one toy on another because they have similar characteristics. Ultimately this means she is thinking more about how things work. She is also becoming more dexterous, her balance is improving, and she is climbing and puling herself up onto everything. She especially likes to perform feats that will ultimately result in a bonk on the head, such as standing on her rocking chair, jumping on the couch, or balancing on any item that she can climb on, big or small. I like to see her climbing about like this but it is exhausting, both because I’m required to participate and because it’s nerve-racking to see her teetering on the edge of the couch. Which is why when I put on some pleasant music it’s so nice to have her just sit quietly for a few minutes.

See photos of Zoe at
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Special Midweek Conundrum Issue

A few nights ago we had dinner with friends and they were heating up some hot dogs for their children. Zoe’s been off dogs for a while, but we figured we’d give it another try. She ended up eating a dog and a half. The hot dogs were a brand we’ve avoided because they contain nitrates. Here is where we run into problems. The foods that taste best seem to often contain things we’d rather not feed Zoe, it’s not just nitrates. We stopped heating her food up in plastic containers because there is a risk that Bisphenol A (BPA) is being released when the plastic is heated. We discovered that canned foods are lined with a resin containing BPA, and since most of these food items are cooked in the can, BPA has already been released into the food, so we are trying to move away from canned goods. And since BPA is in most clear, hard plastics, we worry about slow leaching even when the item is not heated up, such as in our Brita water filter. (We are aware that studies of the amounts of BPA being released and the danger levels they pose are inconclusive—which is also true of most items mentioned in this blog—but because most information available on the web is slanted toward whomever is doing the reporting we have decided on the better-safe-than-sorry approach.) We naturally avoid foods with Aspartame and Saccharin. Additives, such as tartrazine, a yellow colorant used in fizzy drinks, sweets and sauces, have shown to cause urticaria, dermatitis and asthma. Preservatives sulfur dioxide, sulfites, benzoic acid and benzoates may trigger asthma attacks or worsen eczema. These additives are found in soft drinks, burgers and sausages. Researchers believe food additives are contributing to hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. And if that’s not all I have to worry about there’s environmental pollutants, damaging sun rays, chemicals in soaps and lotions, and theories of inoculation causing autism and other health issues. Playgrounds are broken bones waiting to happen, and every strange man is a threat. We have terrorists to worry about and poison spiders hiding in the woodpile. There were over six million car accidents last year and well over forty thousand deaths resulting from those accidents. It really is hard to believe that as a race we humans have survived this long. But I got off track. The point I was trying to make is that it’s hard to find a variety of food to feed Zoe that is both healthy and nutritious, and—since she has become picky recently—that she will eat. Maybe we’ll try hot dogs again. Sulfates anyone?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This and That

Zoe does not like any fiddling above her neck, which is why she loses hats. She screams when we wash her face or hair. She twists like a contortionist when I try to put in a barrette or simply try to push her hair out of her eyes. You’d think I was using sandpaper when I wipe her nose with a tissue. And she acts like I am spreading acid on her when I dab her cute little nose with sunscreen. Since I know I am not getting good coverage with the sunscreen, I insist that she wear a hat. Well, she doesn’t like hats either and will almost always fling hers off at some point. She has also has decided that she does not like to recline in her jogging stroller so I allow her to perch up on the edge of the seat (which in turn covers the warning not to do that). But sitting up like that I can’t strap her in (hence the warning). I also can’t close the sunshade because it would hit her in the head and—more importantly—it would block my view of her. Since she periodically decides she is going to climb out while we are rolling down the street I really need to be able to see her. Long story short, I require that she wear her hat if she wants to sit up (as if she listens to reason). However, she has a little David Blaine in her and no matter how closely I’m watching she can make that hat disappear. There goes another hat.

I used to require privacy when I used the bathroom. I believe that as a species we have advanced beyond the indignities of performing our business in front of whomever is walking or standing by at that particular moment, except at major sporting events, where urinating into a trough alongside a dozen other men stands alongside beer and hotdogs as part of the experience. However, at home I still like a closed door. Zoe, however, does not like to be left alone and does not like closed doors (and would probably dismantle the linen closet if I left her alone for thirty seconds). So she joins me and tries her hardest to distract me from the business at hand [sic]. If I am standing she likes to watch the flow, and sometimes wants to see what it feels like, so I twist and turn and use my knees to block her. Or she decides to slam the lid down, or try a quick feint around my back to unroll the toilet paper. And there is always the question about what happens to bath toys when they are thrown in. If I am sitting the game is to see how many bath toys will fit into my lowered drawers, and it’s still fun to unwind the toilet paper, and try to close the lid, which just whacks against my back. Oh, and she’s learning how to flush, so why not just do that a dozen times. When Alison gets home I’ll sometimes disappear into the bathroom for a little while. I’m just enjoying the solitude.

See photos of Zoe at
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day II

This past Sunday was Father’s Day (FD), my second (as a father). I now have two FD credits to my name; FD credits can be redeemed once the child is an adult. A FD credit will allow the parent, me, to tell the child how to do something without getting the response, “Dad, I’m an adult now and I know what I’m doing,” or some other such nonsense. Last FD Zoe was not even rolling over and Alison had just started back at work after her maternity leave. This year Zoe is practically running and Alison had to work all day (and night), but Grandma was visiting so we all went into the city (San Francisco) to run around the Yerba Buena Gardens playground, visit the new Contemporary Jewish Museum, and grab some of the best barbecue in the city at Memphis Minnies over on hip (hippy) Haight Street. Zoe behaved like a little angel all day, although she did throw-up onto my bare chest around three in the morning.

I wanted to use this FD blog to try to express some of the more subtle changes we are seeing. Probably the most obvious (can obvious be subtle?) is her walking, almost imperceptibly improving each day so that now she is just about running, where it seems, to me, like she just learned how to walk. She is able to identify objects with correct responses, less by chance as they were before. And she is learning new tricks such as holding her own cup and drinking from a straw. But there are other changes that are harder to identify, subtle shifts in her perception of the things around her. She is more likely to respond correctly when I ask her to do something, such as, "Hold tight with two hands," or, “Bring me the block.” She is also learning the subtle art of selective listening. For example, requests (commands) such as, “Please don’t put your hand in the glass,” or, “Don’t throw your food on the floor,” will most likely be ignored if she feels like doing one of those things. It’s not that she doesn’t know what I’m asking of her, she just chooses to ignore me.

She has been trying to figure things out, such as the workings of her ‘latch’ puzzle, which has various do-dads that need to be opened and closed. Previously she would just whack it with another toy to hear it rattle. And then there is the ubiquitous head shake ‘no’ that has become frequent and emphatic (and is also used when she means yes). She is not yet speaking, but is making (or trying to make) more animal sounds and making sounds that could very well be words (if you listen closely and know the context). She seems to know what I am talking about when I tell or ask her something or point something out to her. And the other day she looked at a drawing and made a dog sound. There was no dog in the picture, but when I looked closely I could see that the abstract shapes in the drawing resembled a dog. She already has what it takes to be an art theorist, or at least a psychiatric patient.

See photos of Zoe at
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Sunday, June 8, 2008


It’s sort of funny what you can get away with, with kids. Early this week I made pulled pork in the slow cooker (for Zoe, or course). I heated some up for lunch, and after Zoe ate I stood in the kitchen finishing what was left from the plate (which, along with the savory pork, had an ample amount of barbequey cooking juice). She was playing at my feet and started fishing around the cats bowl. I leaned down to take the bowl away from her and in the process spilled the barbequey cooking juice onto her head and down the back of her shirt. She barely flinched, and only became upset when I attempted to clean her hair with a wet paper towel. I’m happy to report that even after a shampooing she still retained the pleasant scent of pork and barbeque.

Last week I ended my blog with a note that Zoe was now drinking from a sippy cup all on her own. I was going add a little comment that the next step would be to teach her how to drink from a straw, which not only required that she not tip the cup but that she suck, a concept that is hard to teach. I instead ended with a ‘witty’ comment about peas on the floor. Well, before I even went to press, Zoe and I were out for a walk and stopped at a Jamba Juice for a refreshing and tasty treat. I usually spoon-feed her the smoothie but this time I handed Zoe the cup (mostly because my hands were full and she was reaching up and yelling, “Innng, innng, innng,” which means everything from ‘I want’ to ‘we’re being invaded by bald-headed aliens’). So, I stuck the straw in her mouth, and within moments she was sucking the juice like a bee sucks nectar from a flower. Next on the list is to teach her what freezer head means.

Although we have received a large number of hand-me-downs I don’t know how anyone with children ever has anything to pass down. Some of the toys we have received are worn a bit and some are missing a piece or two, but are generally they are in great shape. And the cloths look clean. There is the occasional stain, but again, most stuff is clean and almost new looking. Zoe’s stuff, on the other hand, looks like she crawled across Iraq with all her possessions dragging behind her. If she has a toy with a piece that can be snapped off, she will. I suspect Zoe will be the type of kid that will pop heads off dolls and will take her tricycle over hand-made ramps. I guess it’s too early to tell about the trikes and ramps, but her cloths are certainly taking a beating. I suppose it’s possible that I’m letting her get into things or do things most parents would steer their kids away from, but probably not. Anyway, I should go, Zoe’s playing in the fireplace.

If you missed last week’s video, it’s not too late to go back. It’s at the end of last weeks blog.

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Activities, Part 1

At around nine months we discovered that Zoe was anemic and we started a campaign to increase her iron intake. Up to that point she was eating very few solid foods, actually not much more than breast milk. I was tired (lazy) of trying to find things that she would eat, or at least tired of the effort of pureeing everything. But finding that she was anemic changed everything, and the next thing I put into her mouth were chunks of liver, albeit very small chunks. Next was steak (rare, au jus). That she had no teeth I never gave much consideration. I figured if her food was cut up small enough she would simply gum it a bit and then swallow. Then last week Zoe went through an extreme teething episode. The amount of drool that poured from her mouth exceeded the amount of water passing through the Panama Canal locks in a twenty-four hour period. She also ran fever, developed hives and had a loss of appetite. What this means is that she now has more teeth, which in turn means that I will no longer have to cut her food into microscopic specks. Of course she’s still going to choke on the food, but now I get to say, “I told you to chew your food.”

We all hear horror stories of parent’s getting their kids up at 3:15 AM to head off to swim lessons. We may be a couple of years away from that extreme, but the seed is being planted. Here is how Zoe’s week is currently divided. Monday is East Bay Dads (EBD) day. EBD’s are a group of slacker’s stay-at-home dads who meet three days a week ostensibly for various kid-centric activities such as playground time and Zoo visits, but really it’s a thinly veiled excuse to drink beer in the middle of the day (the dads, not the kids). Tuesday is Babygym. Babygym is an hour-long YMCA pay-as-you-go indoor playtime, with fifteen minutes of group activity stuck in the middle to justify the $7 fee. Basically it’s a large room filled with oversized padded things that the kids can jump on and fall off of. There is always at least one child crying because they whacked their head on something. Wednesday is Music Together. You can read what I wrote about MT here. Thursday is Zoo day with the EBD’s. Unfortunately there is no beer at the Zoo. Saturday (at a humane 9:30 AM) is Zoe’s swim lesson. So far she has failed kicking and spitting, but has excelled at choking. Sunday we rest and Zoe will sometimes let us sleep in until 6:00 AM or so.

Zoe has learned how to hold her own sippy cup. She could hold her own sippy cup before, but she hadn’t figured out that she needed to tip the cup to get the liquid to come out. She would often stand there sucking air until one of us would lift the bottom of the cup (at which point she would release it and we would have to stand there holding it while she drank). Now, for the most part, we can hand her the cup and she will drink from it correctly. The first time she figured this out she was so pleased with herself that she drank the entire cup (creating one very wet diaper). This of course has freed up a huge amount of my time, which I can now use toward scraping mashed peas off the floor.

See the world’s cutest bonus video below.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ask and You Shall be Ignored

The gate at the top of our staircase had become almost impossible to open, so I purchased a new gate that I wanted to have installed by the time Alison got home. I first needed to take down the old gate, and installation of the new gate required a small amount of measuring, drilling and screwing. When installing these gates one finds that if your measurements are even slightly off the gate will most likely not operate correctly, and although it does not require a huge amount of skill to install, some concentration is needed. However, with the old gate down Zoe was intent on trying to get down the stairs. So while I measured, drilled and screwed I also had to contort my body to act as a human gate. Here is part of the conversation Zoe and I had while I put up the new gate. “Zoe, please put down the screwdriver. Please don’t hit the wall with that. Can I have that screw, please? No, don’t eat it. Can I have that piece of paper? Please don’t tear that. Daddy needs that. Zoe, that’s called a template and if you tear it I won’t be able to put… Zoe can I have that so I can tape it back together? Zoe, please don’t hit the wood floor with that. Don’t throw that down the stairs, please. Okay, please don’t throw anything else down the stairs. No you can’t go down. I’m not letting you by. No, you can’t go over me either. Watch your head on… come here so I can kiss it all better.”

As you know from reading last Friday’s blog we spent this past week on the East Coast. I left you with my fear that we would spend the entire week sleepless, with Zoe crowding us out of our bed. Well, although Zoe only used the provided crib two out of the six nights it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I’m not saying that we all slept soundly and didn’t get our share of kicks to the head, but I don’t feel that I need to get myself arrested just to catch up on sleep. Aside from the sleep issue and the usual focus on what to feed Zoe and when, her nap times, her diaper changes, where to find milk, and how to keep her entertained on six-hour flights, we had a pleasant trip. Here is a quick recap of our week. We had a nice Mothers Day Sunday brunch with Grandma Maxine, who was also in town, and Great-Grandma Harriette (yes, that’s four generations—see photo). On Monday we had a nice Birthday Lunch for Alison’s Aunt Cecil. Zoe charmed everyone in the restaurant with her almost overwhelming cuteness. I mean really, what’s cuter than a blue-eyed fourteen-month old in a pretty party dress wobbling around, showing off her new skill of walking? And we rounded off the trip by visiting a handful of friends that we hadn’t seen in a while. In five years, when we see these friends again, they will inevitably ask Zoe, “Do you remember me?”

And who would’ve guessed that airlines don’t have milk? Not me. My bad.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

More on Food

While sitting in the sand with Zoe at the park the other day I made a nostalgic observation. Zoe doesn't intentionally eat sand, but she does like sticking her finger in her mouth. And she likes playing in the sand. The result reminded me of those candy dipsticks (Dip’N’Stick, Fun-Dip, Lik-M-Aid, Lik-M-Stix) we had as kids, but with sand instead of sugar. Yum!

Here’s one way children cause their parents to gain weight. We’ve been trying to find new foods for Zoe, mostly because we feel guilty feeding her hotdogs three meals a day (and sand has no vitamins). Every time I go to the store I try to find something different for Zoe to try, and then she will usually reject it. At the end of the meal I will usually eat what she has left behind. We don’t give up right away but if she still won’t eat it after a few tries I will finish off whatever is left. Since we are less concerned with the fat content in Zoe’s food than our own they are not always the lightest items. I’m confident that if this keeps up—and I don’t see an end in sight—that come December I will be a shoe-in for that Santa role I’ve been coveting.

I'm afraid. Tomorrow we leave for a week in Baltimore and we will be staying in hotels the entire time. First, though, a little prologue. Last Monday we stayed in a hotel for one night while we had some work done on our house. In was a beautiful hotel and we had a large room that was very quiet. However, normally when we put Zoe to sleep we put her in her crib and she will usually cry for a short period of time (or long period of time) but she will eventually realize that we are not coming back for her and she will fall asleep (or exhaust herself crying and pass out). In the hotel room we were not comfortable with the level and duration of crying necessary to get her to sleep in the crib they provided, plus she can see us so she may never have stopped screaming. So we tried to get her to go to sleep in the bed with us. However, she is too distracted with us both there so it took us two hours to get her solidly to sleep, at which point we are exhausted from having spent two hours shushing her and trying to keep her from climbing off the bed. So we spent the evening of what we had been calling our "mini-vacation" lying awake in the dark while Zoe fidgeted around us. Is this what we are doomed for in Baltimore? In bed by eight and drawing straws in the morning to see who will take her down to the lobby to crawl around so the other person can sleep? I'll let you know when we return.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Fear Factor

Long ago, in the time known as BZ (before Zoe), I would periodically consider the prospect of fatherhood and deem myself unsuitable for the job for one primary reason: fear. No, not fear of commitment or parenthood, but fear of the thousands of dangers lurking around every corner. I would be in a bank (BZ took place before ATM's) and I would see a mother balance her child on the edge of the counter. So sure was I that the child would fall that not only would I become tense with the anticipation, but I would also physically prepare myself to leap forward in what would have probably been a futile attempt to break said fall. Well, here I am a father, and oddly enough I find myself balancing Zoe on the edge of counters (metaphorically speaking). What I have learned over the last year is that children do not always hurl themselves off precipices. Not that she won't go off the edge, but I can trust her not to go off every time. What I really think is happening is that there seems to be slight signals that children send out that only their own parents can sense, much like Peter Parker’s spidey-sense. Of course that doesn’t explain how I let her fall off the bed the other day.

I shouldn’t squeeze this next tasty Zoe tidbit into the middle of the blog; it should have its own headline. Really, it’s that big. Hint; in last weeks blog I referred to Zoe as a toddler. Ready? Here it is. Zoe is now walking! Three weeks ago she took five steps. Nothing happened for a week, then last week she started with short five-step trips from chair to chair. By the end of this week she was easily crossing the room and now walks more than she crawls. I’m really not sure how she is going to work this skill into her tantrums, in which she flings herself backwards from a sitting position. Will she first calmly sit herself down then tantrum or will she discover a new way to fling herself to the floor? Fodder for future blogs. Of course I have a video below.

Zoe has two new loves. The first is stuffed animals. Up until now she has shown little interest in her stuffed friends, but suddenly she is carrying around either her stuffed lion or rabbit or both. She will roll around on the floor with them, carry them across the room flung over her shoulder, or give them big hugs (though ask her to give us a hug and you might as well be asking a tree). The second love is high pitched screaming. She will scream whenever she wants something or wants your attention. Or just randomly to make noise. I’ve been trying to teach her to say please, but so far she would rather burst our eardrums. I expect that someday soon she will learn how to combine her arched-back tantrums with a solid, ear-piercing scream, at which point I will try to teach her the longtime favorite (and quiet alternative) of children around the world of holding her breath until she gets what she wants.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

50 Posts and Still no Calls from Hollywood

For this, my 50th post (please, no applause), I’d like to share some of the things Zoe is doing, which are not only so cute that you want to give her a huge hug (which actually makes her scream and arch her back, which isn’t so cute) but also demonstrates her growing awareness of the big world around her (or at least the big living room around her).
  • She is clearly paying attention to what is going on around her. For example, when Zoe coughs I will usually mimic her with a fake cough. Now if we are at the store and someone coughs she will do a little fake cough.
  • We have been learning about animals. Every time I say or show her an elephant she raises her arm as a trunk. She doesn’t make a sound (as I do), and the angle of the arm is more akin to a nazi salute than an elephant, but it’s still cute. My monkey is the typical hand’s-in-the-armpits and body waggle. Hers is just a little head wag. And she has been making a noise whenever we see a dog. I think it is a bark.
  • Zoe has learned to ‘click’ her tongue. We were on BART recently and a woman was popping her gum. Zoe, after watching her for a couple of moments, starts clicking her tongue in response.
  • When she starts to climb off our bed we only need to say, “on your tummy,” and she will spin around and slide off feet first. Smart.
  • She knows that a comb is for combing hair, and often tries to do it herself, although sometimes she will use a pen. The results do not differ.
  • She has one particular peek-a-boo book that has various states of babyness (eating, happy, crying, etc.). One of the pages is a baby with her mother. Zoe will hand me the book and say, “Mama.” I know what you’re thinking: Cute!
  • She can now stack plastic rings on the post. She will also take those rings and put them on her arm like a bracelets. Both of which requires a bit of coordination.
  • She knows (at least 50% of the time) which foot is her left and which is her right. I’m not saying that she knows the difference between left and right, or even what they mean, but ask her where her left foot is and she will lift her left leg (or right, if the conversation goes that way).
  • Her kisses have evolved from head-butts to open-mouthed slobbers.
  • She will often climb onto her cute little rocking chair and sit quietly, contemplating life as she looks out the window. If I make even the slightest noise it will break her reverie and she will scamper down and interrupt what ever I am doing.
  • She knows how to call the cats by patting the floor, or if I’m holding her she’ll pat my chest. They never come. Come to think of it, she will do this for any animal she sees.
  • She now understands that the big knob on the stereo will make the music very loud. Fortunately she does not like the music very loud and now, for the most part, stays away from it. However, she still plays with it when the stereo is off so I have to remember to check it before I turn it on or it will register on Richter scales throughout the Bay Area.
  • If you say ‘bird’ she will point to the window, or sky if you are outside. She will than pat whatever surface is closest. They never come.
I realize that these things are what toddlers do as they develop, but if you could witness Zoe doing them you would agree that she is cuter than all other toddlers combined.

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