Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Heart Staycation

The onesie everyone signed at my baby shower!

I'm loving my week off, at home, with my girl. Though after a long quiet day together today, with no outings except an hour at the home of a nearby friend, I am realizing that I am probably not cut out for Stay At Home Motherhood. I think I would get, frankly, bored.

I'm not feeling all that much like I'm on vacation, either. I think maybe those days are gone forever. Though it's not so much because of her as everything else that I want to get caught up on.

Or else I have to get a whole lot more organized so that I somehow prioritize having "free" time over catching up on emails and listserves.

My mom came to visit for the three day weekend. That was nice. She's not much of a talker, or all that social -- she wanted to hang out and watch the baby with me. Literally, we sit there and gaze at her, watching her do her thing. Other than that, she wanted to read, or play Scrabble on her Kindle. It was fine with me because I am some kind of tired lately.

Calliope's previously awesome sleep has taken a turn for the worse. Last week, two nights in a row, she was up three times. Requiring me to be up... at 12:30, 3:30, and 5:30.

This makes getting up at 6 am less than pleasurable.

I think girlie has discovered separation anxiety. Twice today, I left her alone momentarily, only to hear screaming sobs, the type that mean either severe pain or abject terror.

Both times, I came hurrying back into the room to find... nothing.

Of course, another time today, I heard a loud "clonk" noise just before the scream, and swiveled around in my chair to find my baby had tipped over sideways. The "clonk" was the sound of her head hitting the floor.


She had already stopped crying by the time I reached her.

Calliope learned to wave this weekend!

It was all very exciting.

She's getting better at standing, and loves to practice. She bounces up and down and screeches at the same time. It gets pretty loud and monkey-house-like around here sometimes.

We also started solids in a more official way, putting her in the high chair and everything!

However, if it's not swiped from Mommy, she's not interested.

Bananas in the high chair went over okay yesterday (I gave her a long skinny piece of banana, which naturally splits into thirds (easier to grasp than if it's cut)) and were met with sobs today. Go figure.

Sure, I can hang out in this chair. I'm going to ignore
the weird looking white thing on the tray, though.

Hmm, so you want to introduce me to the white thing, eh?

Okay, Mommy, I love you, so I'm game for anything!

You hold it, though. I don't want to get my fingers yucky.

I'm starting to feel suspicious that perhaps this isn't such a good idea

Okay, here I go, I'm trying it.

Oh, Mommy! That's disgusting!

This act of treachery is heartbreaking

And now I can never trust you again.
I'm not so much angry as  hurt and disappointed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What We've Been Up To

Nastya snapped some pictures of Calliope standing, albeit briefly, last week. My jaw literally (not just metaphorically) dropped when I saw this. I am no not ready for my five month old (for one more day, but was only 5 months and three weeks when this was taken) to be standing!

As you can see from the top picture, she's also recently discovered how to stick out her tongue, and seems to enjoy this new ability. But when I stick my tongue out back at her, she seems puzzled.

She has graduated from the bath seat in the tub, now that she is sitting so well. But I am far too nervous to let her sit alone in the big tub. I was planning to start using the large baby tub I have... but have discovered that the kitchen sink is once again perfect for her (we used the kitchen sink with the bath seat when she was tiny, then moved the bath seat to the tub). So now she sits in the kitchen sink (without a seat), which is ever so much more convenient than the big tub... plus it keeps the bath toys in convenient reach for her, which is an advantage, given that her reaching and grabbing and retaining of toys is still not 100% reliable. It's hilarious to watch her trying to grab things as they float by... it's like bobbing for apples for older kids, only she's using her hands... and yet they still elude her sometimes!

I passed along her standard yellow duckies for the BPA-and-everything-else-free-yet-still-plastic Bo.on duckies, and I have to say, she loves them. Plus the similarly everything-free BeanSpr.outs stacking cups are great for the bath, and so delicous! (okay, I haven't personally tasted them, but Calliope and Eleanor sure do love chewing on them.)

I successfully hosted a "baby brunch" on Sunday. I have a little touch of social anxiety at times, and generally avoid hosting at all costs, so I was proud of myself. I had six babies, six mommas (including two other SMCs), and two dads. It was fun!

I didn't get a chance to snap a pic until two babies had already left to go home for naps, but here's four babies. M, age 11 months, is already crawling, little Eleanor learned to sit independently while she was over that day!, and Luna is still working on her sitting skills.

And here's a funny one of Calliope and Eleanor. Nastya props them in the glider and then sits on the ottoman to sing and play the guitar (I gave her a book on how to play since I have a guitar and she likes music). The girls LOVE her singing and playing! A five month old audience is perfect for a fledgling musician.

I like how Eleanor cleverly stashed her pacifier in the stacking cups...
I'm telling you, these cups are their favorite toys!

Happy Valentine's Day

I got to bring my darling girl to work with me today, and to carry her with me on our annual field trip to Albany with a busload of 12th graders to meet legislators and ask them to support school health programs across the state.

The kids (the big ones) were well behaved, as always, and spending the day with my girl was the best possible Valentine's gift!

Above is the Valentine's Day card we sent out.

I loved doing something "different" by sending a non-December card, and I feel like my card celebrates the MANY kinds of love their are in the world, not just the romantic kind of love... a kind of love that tends to fade in even the best relationships.

There are many kinds of love in the world... all are a precious gift.

Personally, I couldn't be more thrilled with my lot in life, and couldn't be further from lonely on this Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


It was like a scene from a bad Harlequin romance... she grasped my face passionately with both hands, leaned in gently, her open mouth seeking mine... and then I burst out laughing, and her tiny (nearly) toothless gums curved into a smile.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Five Month Photos

Sleeping under the maternity photos

New teeth in the new high chair!

Sitting up on a park bench, all by her ownself!

She can sit up and hold toys, all at the same time!

What's more delicious than baby toes?

Studiously examining the Exersaucer

delicious pudgy feet

first time swinging... and not very impressed!
it was more fun to sit on my lap and watch kids running... now that's fun!


Tonight I slid Calliope's legs into the legs of her velvety grey pajamas... only to have her wiggle and kick her legs right back out again.

I mockingly scolded her, "Are you being difficult?" as she giggled and writhed on the changing table.

And it struck me, forcefully, how happy it makes me to see her being "impudent," as much as a five month old can be.

Calliope is one hundred percent sure of being loved. She has not yet known fear.

I was not so lucky.

I was terribly afraid of my father.

I only remember being hit a few times, thrashed, I suppose the word would be, with his leather belt. All when I was quite young.

I remember once being lifted off a stool in the kitchen. I must not have been more than five or six years old. And I remember what he said,

"This'll teach you not to hit your brother."

I don't remember what it felt like, just the terror beforehand, lying on my parents' bed, watching him slowly withdraw his leather belt from his belt loops. And I remember the anger and righteous indignation afterwards. Lying in my bed, sobbing, imagining putting pins in his shoes.

I think his power of us was more psychological. I remember wondering, back then, if I was scared of him because I was afraid of being hit, or just afraid of how he could make me feel. I never really figured that out.

But he could reduce any of us to tears, instantly. We felt so powerless in front of him.

But once, after we were no longer small, he did hit my brother again.

It was horrible.

Horrible not in the physical damage -- I don't know if it left marks, or if the physical pain was really all that bad -- but horrible in the completely out of control anger and fear in the air. My brother was no longer small enough to be easily corralled, and it was an all out battle.

I remember my father bodily dragging him down the stairs. I remember the howls of indignation and rage, the murderous screaming from my brother, and more noises, too. Grunts of exertion, I think, from my father, as he struggled to gain control as my brother fought and kicked.

I think my mother was outside the door, pleading, "Dick, stop!"

I don't know why she didn't go in. I loathed her for that. How could she, too, be afraid?

I was only a few feet away from her, in the hallway outside our bedrooms, my heart in my throat.

I walked to the phone, picked it up, and stood there, waiting. Wondering if I should call the police. But afraid. Afraid of having my father's wrath directed at me.

And so I waited, told myself I would call if it continued.

And it didn't.

He never hit any of us again.

As I got older, I learned to see my dad's many shortcomings more clearly.

His enormous ego hid enormous fear. He was deathly afraid of being discovered, of being known as a fraud. He seemed to think that if only he showed off his many talents, and subverted those around him, no one would see his faults.

My dad had many strengths. He was enormously gifted intellectually. He also had many weaknesses, including a total inability to relate to others.

I learned to gain his respect by giving him respect for his many accomplishments. He learned to truly love me, and was enormously proud of me. After I became an adult, he was able to share his weaknesses with me, and I was able to show compassion for him.

We had a good relationship, as far as he was concerned.

And I forgave him his many shortcomings, because what else was there to do?

I believe that each of us does the best we can.

My father was a deeply unhappy man. He didn't want to hurt us, though indeed he did, he just wanted to feel better himself, and his deeply flawed thinking led him to believe that putting others down would make him feel better.

My father was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring of 2005. After a horrible few months where my mother finally threatened to leave him -- the impact of chemotherapy on his behavior, causing him to attempt to control her even more tightly, finally pushing her over the edge -- he came to face his mortality.

He did not become a perfect man. He still lacked an ability to relate to others.

But for the first time, he wanted to try.

He and my mother had a good year together, before the cancer came back out of remission, sooner than we had expected.

He died a few months later.

This is the first time I am sharing this story.

So how does this affect Calliope, that mischievously writhing, deliciously dimpled, joyous little baby girl?

Calliope, my precious girl, you will never know this fear.

I will keep you safe. No adult will ever hit you.

You can be as naughty as you like. You can lie, steal, curse at me. You can even hit me.

I will not hit you back.

No matter what.

You will grow up taking your own safety for granted.

That is my promise.

I am a Joyful Girl

i do it for the joy it brings
because i am a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
and i do it just because i want to
because i want to
-- ani difranco