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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