Monday, March 31, 2008

Parlor Tricks

Did I mention that I sing everything to Zoe? I may have posted that in a previous blog, but I’ll post it again in case you forgot, although I guess I’m the one that forgot, or didn’t forget if I actually didn’t post it. Anyway, I sing everything. “‘Zo-es take-ing off her so-ocks’, ‘Dadd-y’s putt-ing on his sho-oes’, ‘Zo-e wants some Chee-ri-o’s’.” It doesn’t have to rhyme, and it usually doesn’t even have a (pleasant) melody. All that’s needed is to string together whatever sentence you would normally speak (normally speak to a one year old). In some cases Zoe expects it. When I warm up a bottle for her I have to sing, “When the light goes out, the milk is ready,” song, which is that same line just repeated at different octaves until the light goes out, sometime accompanied by a small jig around the kitchen. We also have the kitty cat song. Whenever one of the cats walk by we sing, “Harry the kitty-cat. Fuz-zy kitty-cat,” or “Tucker the kitty-cat. Half of, him is black.” Ultimately I think this type of communicating with one’s child is what makes parents so irritating to non-parents.

After Zoe sneezes I always exclaim (exuberantly) gesundheit. She will than mock sneeze so that I say it again. She’s been trying to copy us a lot more recently. When we brush our hands together to clean them she will do the same, and she knows it’s a different motion than clapping, which she loves to do. I recently rubbed my fingers and thumb together to clean them of some san and she wiggled her fingers in the air while looking at me quizzically. Seeing as how Zoe hates having her hands cleaned she would certainly not be copying this action if she knew the purpose. I have been trying to make animal sounds. She can’t make the sounds but when I do an elephant she will lift one arm up, as I do, for the trunk. When I do a monkey—hands in armpits—she will do a little wiggle that would otherwise be interpreted as a shiver if one didn’t know better. And best of all Zoe has mastered walking behind her ride/push toy. We’ve been trying to get her to do this for a while, but it took us going out for the afternoon and having a babysitter. We came home to an almost-walking child. They also had her napping in her own crib, something else we’ve never been able to do. We’re going to have them come over next week to teach her French. All these new tricks mean that Zoe has advanced beyond the cats for entertaining guests. No longer do we have to pull out the laser light to make the cat run in circles when conversation begins to lag.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dad’s Heart Skips a Beat, Take 1

I sometimes wonder if I should encourage Zoe toward certain accomplishments. For example, ascending and descending stairs. I understand that it is important that she learn to do this, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if she were, say, four feet tall and a decade older. The problem with stairs is that they are steep and in our house hard. But regardless of what I want she is taking it upon herself to conquer them. A few days ago I put her down on the sidewalk in front of the house while I unloaded the car. When I turned around he had climbed up the first two steps to the first landing. Unfortunately the first landing has a water problem and there is a muddy puddle, which, I believe, was her primary goal. Other than the fact that my heart skipped a beat when I turned around and she was not right where I put her, those two steps were somewhat benign. Less so was the other day when I forgot to close the gate at the top of the stairs. I was in the kitchen, I heard her coming across the living room and expected her to join me. After a couple of moments of silence I suddenly remembered that the gate was open and dashed (sprinted, ran, leaped) from the kitchen and found her two steps down, sitting with her legs hanging over the step. If you cut me in half and count the rings you will discover that I aged five years at that moment. After I wrote this paragraph Zoe climbed down the nine steps from our living room to the front door. It was not caught on film because I was inches away from her, ready to catch a stumble.

The other morning Alison’s alarm went off at around 6:30 as usual. But wait, where’s Zoe? Usually she wakes up before the alarm and is already in bed with us (playing, not sleeping). So Alison climbs out of bed and asks me if I think she is okay. Why would she not be okay? She’s just sleeping a little bit later. “Of course she’s okay,” I respond. (Actually I just said, “Yes,” and tried to pretend I was still asleep.) So Alison goes off to shower and I start to wonder. Is she okay? It’s 6:30 and she’s not in bed with us. We did put her to bed with a blanket. Could she have gotten tangled up in it? What about the monkey toy? It has no small parts and isn’t big enough to smother a mouse, but could she have lodged a monkey foot into her mouth? So what do I do? I get out of bed and with as much stealth as possible I ease her door open. She immediately sits up in her crib and I carry her back into our bed, safe and sound. The next morning she is up at five. I guess she didn’t want us to worry.

A milestone was reached this week: Zoe graduated to a forward facing car seat.

See photos of Zoe at

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So Many Changes

It’s 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning. It was my turn to get out of bed early this weekend morning to bring Zoe upstairs to play (which means she is hanging off my chair trying to reach the keyboard as I type). Although usually it’s near impossible to do anything while Zoe is awake, yesterday I caught her playing quietly by herself on her play mat and discovered that she is playing with her toys on a whole new level. Not only is she placing the rings of the stacking toy on the post, but she is also slipping her arm in and out through the hole of the larger ring. She has also been spotted nesting the nesting blocks, and finding small objects to place inside the larger ones. She has a toy that requires that you hit a hard plastic ball with a hard plastic hammer to get the balls to travel through a short maze. The balls balance on their own little base, and she will remove and than put the ball back onto it’s small spot, a task that requires a bit of coordination. As for the hammer, she still doesn’t have the strength and coordination to knock the balls through, so she instead pounds everything else with it, most often the hardwood floor. She has also enthusiastically learned how to wave goodbye. About five minutes before Alison leaves for work in the morning she will start the arm waving, and it will continue until Alison actually leaves. In fact, all it takes is one of us walking away from her, even to go sit on a chair, for her to start in on the bye-byes. She prefers to wave goodbye to people she knows, but will also wave goodbye to anybody else, as long as they are not looking.

It’s been about a month since I wrote Into the Crib, Part 2. The early days were tough on us (and probably on Zoe as well). She would cry and it would nearly break your heart (and require that we turn the TV volume up way too loud). That first week we would go get her if she cried for more than a couple of minutes. Well, we are a month down the road and for a while she was actually sleeping through the night. However, she has recently started waking up somewhere around blurry-numbers-on-the-clock o’clock. She will join us in bed, Alison will feed her, then she will find it impossible to get comfortable and wiggle and kick until I pull myself from the warm blankets to carry her back into her own room, where she will proceed to cry because we have abandoned her. She will eventually go back to sleep (after we have lain awake wondering if she will really go back to sleep), but until she actually sleeps from the time we put her to bed until a reasonable hour in the morning we can not claim complete into the crib success. The saga continues.

See photos of Zoe at
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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Zoe Turns One Year Old

On Friday Zoe turned one year old. Parents of older children told us that the first year would go by very quickly (and that we should take a lot of photos). It has (and I have). I spend a lot of time with Zoe, and I write this blog, but sometimes it’s hard to remember everything Zoe has done and everything we’ve been through. We had friends with their six-week old baby over for dinner recently. We generously imparted some sage advice, but it is hard to believe that Zoe was once that small and so far from doing many of the things she is able to do now, like sitting, standing up, grabbing everything that is within her reach—and wanting everything that isn’t. I once mentioned on these pages that we are always looking forward to the next stage in her development. That’s still true, but what I didn’t realize back then was that our recollection of many of those moments would then ebb into the fog of our sleep-deprived memory.

Zoe is changing almost daily. At the park recently I discovered that I didn’t need to support her when she went down the slide. I have caught her on a number of occasions leaning over a book and turning the pages. It’s true that sometimes the book is upside down, but nevertheless, she is looking at the book, not eating it. Lately she has taken a particular interest in peek-a-boo books, those with the inner flap one has to lift to revel the hidden object (then exclaim peek-a-boo). She knows to lift the flap only after I have turned the page, even if I have to read the lead-up text at double speed, before she has a chance to flip. Any day now she will be walking and we’ve been talking with friends about pre-schools.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. She turned one year old but she is not yet walking, nor is she talking (although she might have said DaDa) and school is still a way off. I really don’t want to rush her, even if it means I can get back to my tennis and golf and lazing the day away at the local coffee shop (and volunteering at the local orphanage). And although parents tell us that age one is the best age, they also said that about three months, and six months, and they’ll say it at eighteen months and probably one or two parents may even say it about being two years old. And I think I’ll agree with them all. Every age is the best age and every day is the best day.


See photos of Zoe at (Birthday Party photos coming later today)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Random Observations

Although Zoe usually wants me to participate in her play time, even if it just means lying on her mat while she plays around me, sometimes she will get into her own world and forget that I am around. Usually this happens when she has found or reached something she shouldn’t have and is focused on pressing buttons or tearing pages or just turning whatever it is around in her hands. I will come up behind her and in a normal voice ask her what she has. Almost every time I will startle her enough that she will drop the object and stare and me with a guilty look. She definitely knows the difference between right and wrong, but her usual reaction when I say no is to give me the cutest smile she has and then go back to whatever it was she was doing, such as turning the cat food bowl upside down. Her other response, more so if she is the slightest bit tired, is after being told no she will give a frustrated cry and press her forehead to the floor, what Alison likes to call a tantrum in its infancy (no pun intended).

I interrupt this weeks post with this important update. Zoe was able to hoist herself to a standing position without pulling herself up on another object. She placed her hands flat on the floor, and lifted herself with her knees to a balanced, standing position. Wow! Catch the exciting video below. Now, back to our blog already in progress.

I’ve only put locks on two cabinets in the kitchen. I suspect I’ll have to add more very soon, but one of her favorite drawers is the one that contains all of her stuff, such as bottles, the nipples (there are a lot), her yet-to-be-used cutlery, a handful of pacifiers that we tried before settling on the one she really likes, and a ton of other miscellaneous stuff. She will absolutely dismantle this drawer, so that the entire kitchen floor is littered with this stuff. She is very methodical; it’s not just about tossing things out. Every nipple and pacifier she will stick it in her mouth for a second or two before tossing it over her shoulder and reaching for the next one. And each bottle she will put up to her mouth and stick her tongue in. She will look each object over before tossing it aside. It’s a pain to clean up but she has too much fun to even consider a lock. Plus it keeps her occupied while I’m cooking.

The other afternoon Zoe and I were having lunch outside on a popular shopping street in Berkeley. Zoe was perched on my knee eating turkey out of my sandwich. In the process of getting lunch and settling ourselves at a table, we had the usual assortment of people approach us to declare Zoe the cutest baby in the world. “What beautiful eyes! Adorable smile! So intense, so smart! What a handsome father, she has!” I never get tired of these compliments, and when someone fails to acknowledge her overwhelming cuteness I feel slightly offended. So, we’re eating our lunch and this guy sits down near us with a beagle. Two individuals approached him to comment on his cute dog, but failed to stop at our table to coo over Zoe. What! Did Alison and I make a mistake when we choose a baby over a dog? Let’s see, dogs usually sleep through the night, right? And you can push a dog off your bed if you want more room. Maybe I should put an ad on Craigslist, “Will trade cute baby for puppy!” I’ll ask Alison what she thinks when she gets home.

See photos of Zoe at