Sunday, January 27, 2008

Help! I’m Standing and I Can’t Sit Down!

I did mention this last week, but it briefly got worse, than suddenly got much better, which definitely interfered with the title of this weeks post (which was clever enough that I decided to keep it anyway; and by clever I mean in that hackneyed, threadbare sort of way). I mentioned that Zoe was pulling herself up but having trouble figuring out how to sit back down. Well, during the week she was pulling herself up on everything, all the time, but instantly wanting to move on, so she’d cry because she couldn’t get down. I’d put her in a sitting position, she’d shuffle to another object and we’d repeat the process. Well, by the end of the week, not only had she figured out how to sit, but at one point she was doing squats; standing, squatting, standing, squatting. There was even one brief moment when she took both hands off the table she was standing against. Think first step on the moon. Orville and Wilbur’s first tentative flight. “I have a dream.”

As usual I was trying to get Zoe to take her nap. This usually means I lie down on the bed with a book and let Zoe crawl all over me until just the right moment when I pull her down beside me and she closes her eyes and goes to sleep (it has to be perfectly timed). Usually, when she is being particularly active I will verbally remind her that she is supposed to be napping, at which point she will stop what she is doing and clap her hands. “No,” I tell her, “nap, not clap.” At which point she will clap some more. Subsequent requests that she stop playing and nap are met with defiant stares. She doesn’t even have the courtesy to stop trying to bite the tiny, red nose off the little man on her just for the bed toy.

I’ve noticed, recently, a little detail that I think most parents are guilty of but few will admit to (or maybe don’t even recognize that they are doing). I do it intentionally now, but usually after catching myself doing it unintentionally. What happens is you are trying to get your child’s attention and they are ignoring you (although I like to assume that she is so focused on her task that she really doesn’t hear me). You call her name a few times, then do a little whistle or cluck your tongue, exactly as one would call a pet. The only difference is that pets usually respond.

See photos of Zoe at

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Best Clapper in the House

Last week I talked about how curious Zoe is and how she will get into, or try to get into, everything. If you don’t want her to get into it or touch it than you absolutely cannot leave it within her reach. She will find it. Alison and I have frequent oh! moments, where we see her reaching for a glass that’s just a little too close to the edge of the table, or a precariously piled stack of magazines that she is about to pull down on top of herself. But I didn’t mention how cognitive she has become. She quickly imitates our actions, and takes noticeable enjoyment in our praise of her accomplishments. For example, clapping is something I tried to teach her starting when she was only a few months old. Now every action requires clapping. And because she is cuter than a tiny kitten, when she claps everyone claps. Than she claps some more. Then everyone else claps some more. Than, pretty soon, everyone in the room is singing the, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands,” song. Zoe may be learning from our every action, but she causes everyone who happens to be in the room with her to visibly lose IQ points.

Did I mention that her two top front teeth are coming in? They started to break through while we were on vacation, which meant that she woke up every hour. Fortunately she still prefers Mommy at 3:00 AM, but usually just a little effort is needed to get her back to sleep, sometimes a quick snack and sometimes just shoving the pacifier back into her mouth does the trick. (A quick word on the pacifier. Early on someone asked us what we called our pacifier, since apparently you’re supposed to give it a cute pet name. Alison and I decided we would avoid cute names for it and refer to it simply as ‘the pacifier’. It’s not that we don’t have cute names for things. For example, I call preface almost every object, living or not, with Mr.; Mr. sippy cup. Mr. Kitty. Mr. Tissue. And Zoe’s name is never just Zoe, it’s Zoe Zo. Zoe-Zo is wearing Mr. Shoe-y shoe). Since last week her pulling herself up has developed. If two pieces of furniture are close enough, she can transfer her standing self from one to another., though she still has trouble getting back to a sitting position. While we were visiting someone recently with a round coffee table, Zoe figured out how to walk around its perimeter. She couldn’t get down, so she just kept circling. I suggested we space Cheerios around the entire table and head out for drinks.

See new photos in 10th & 11th month of Zoe at

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Suddenly She’s Doing Stuff

Sometimes I like to engage Zoe by lying on my back on her play mat and closing my eyes for thirty to forty five minutes. During that time I become a human jungle gym. She’ll crawl all over me, back and forth, over the top, until either she offsets herself and falls on her head and screams or lands on my crotch and I scream. Sometimes, rarely, she’ll get bored and actually play with one of the dozens of toys spread across the floor. What she prefers to play with, however, is the pile of newspapers that “we will get to, as soon as we have a few moments,” or… well, basically anything that isn’t a toy. She is more likely to play with her toys if I am joining in, but if I am sitting on the couch (or engaging her from a horizontal position with my eyes closed while on the couch) she will need to be near me, climbing up the side of the coffee table pulling everything to the floor. There is basically a six-inch strip directly down the center of the coffee table that she can’t yet reach, but the coffee table only remains organized for about ten minutes in a twenty-four hour period. The rest of the time it is covered in crap that needs to be shuffled about whenever Zoe is awake. If I’m sitting at the dinning table she will need to be crawling around the legs of the table and chairs looking for old Cheerio’s to eat. And if I head into the kitchen she will follow me in and head straight for the cats bowls.

At ten months old, she is curious about everything and is so distractible that she gets distracted from her distractions. She has to explore every bag within reach, every cabinet that is open, and every speck on the floor. She can pull herself up, so anything that is within her reach she will grab. She has also been making climbing motions with her legs. She seems to know what needs to be done, lifting one leg to pull herself up, she just can’t figure out all the mechanics of the task. It won’t be long before I find her on top of furniture that was previously safe for all the stuff we pulled from lower spaces.

She has also recently started performing tricks on command, such as clapping and dancing (her dancing consists of a cute little head and shoulder wag). Yesterday I wanted to demonstrate--to a complete stranger at an Old Navy store--Zoe’s shuffling crawl, so I put my cell phone down on the floor and told her to fetch, and she obliged. I am now training her to fetch my slippers and the newspaper so I won’t need to get a dog. However, even though she has learned a few tricks, she still doesn’t understand spatial differences. When she gets to the top of the stairs she recognizes that it requires some different action but can’t conceptualize what is required. After she ‘touches’ the open space for a few moments, she will put her hand out as if she is going to crawl and just leans herself forward. I think she is trying to place her hand down on the next step. It’s a good theory but doesn’t explain why she’ll crawl right off the edge of the bed.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, January 6, 2008

There’s a Superfund Site in my Daughters Diaper

Zoe has moved almost completely to a real food diet, and we are living the consequences. The first is a glut of breast milk. It’s beginning to fill our freezer and refrigerator. Okay, maybe fill is an exaggeration but I wish breast milk tasted good on ice cream. I would not go wanting. The other is in her bedroom, used only for diaper changing these days (her crib is used only when I need her in a safe place for a few minutes—she screams like we’re breaking toes if she is left in there for more than ten minutes). Alison has suggested we make a mobile from air fresheners. I won’t go into the composition of her diapers contents, but I will say that I’ve learned to breath entirely through my mouth. In the past, in situations when excluding my nose from the breathing process would have been advantageous, I’ve always taken a little sniff, my curiosity always overpowering my better interest. During Alison’s cesarean the surgeon performing the procedure suggested I breath through my mouth (which did not help allay my anxiety.) I couldn’t help but to surreptitiously sniff a little—stopping short of a full nasal inhale—and was fortunate not to smell anything that would have provoked that legendary father-passing-out-in-the –operating-room-during-childbirth event. But Zoe’s diapers have transcended bad. We have crossed into another dimension. Trust me, it’s bad.

As I write this I’ve been watching Zoe play. For a few minutes she was content to take her plastic nesting boxes and repeatedly bash it into her wooden puzzle of farm animals. I can understand the pleasure she must derive from such an action. Often I wish I could smash with abandon without suffering any consequences. She then moved over to the pile of books (those cardboard ones that withstand multiple chewing’s) and actually flipped one open and turned a couple of pages. “Look, Honey, she’s reading!” She’s at an awkward stage where she’s curious about everything but does not have the coordination to do much about it. She can’t open boxes or operate her monkey-in-a-box or nest her nesting boxes. But she’s very good at pulling things off the coffee table and finding small, chokeable sized items that we overlooked on the floor. Speaking of choking, yesterday I took a First Aid and CPR for All Ages class. It was either that or clean and childproof the house. The instructor, a retired fireman (overweight, diabetic and leaning on a crutch) spent a third of the class instructing, a third telling ‘example of situation’ stories from his years in the fire department, and a third of the class raining doom down upon us in the form of doorstops, toilets, electrical wire, perverts, car seats, house plants, germs, cordless phones, and unscrupulous retailers intent on selling us parents useful albeit deadly accessories. Although I now feel a little more comfortable knowing that I have at least some inkling of what to do if Zoe gets eats my iPod Nano, I have decided that it would be a good idea just to move into an empty, padded (but not too padded) shipping container until Zoe is older.

See photos of Zoe at