Monday, April 27, 2009

Monkey See Monkey Do

I remember vividly going over to Bec’s house as a youngin' wanting to:

a) Dress up in wigs and wear the patent leather high heels with red polka dots
b) Go out into her play shed and find salamanders, many of which looked like those high heeled shoes
c) Play Paper Boy on her Nintendo console

There were various other games we played (Zing, “how many chews does it take to swallow a Dorito,” "girls with boyfriends"—in the half developed new homes on Stratton Dr, and don’t even get me started on the school bus ridiculousness that we created…why did we try to convince that one girl we spoke Chinese? And what were we thinking with that robot/rubber girl game?)

I was not blessed (cursed?) with Nintendo as a child, so I resorted to coaxing my friends into playing when I had a playdate. And then there was the double bonus friends who had junk food AND Nintendo…Sarah at the end of our street was a warehouse for Twix. While I would never consider myself a “gamer” as a child, I do have memories of getting to steal a few moments to play video games. Why I bring this up is two-fold. First, my status of novice game player was quite evident if you ever watched me play Nintendo. Let’s take Excite Bike.For every jump, or dodging of an oil slick, I would use my hands to “jump” or “dodge.” And I am pretty certain I did a lot of tongue chewing. I think I believed if I "jumped" my hands hard enough, the bike would go higher. It was as though I thought I was playing a Wii. (Not that I have even played one before.) The only time my physicality worked was if I had a friend who had that track and field Nintendo game. Although--let's be honest. You would just jump off the mat for an extended period of time with the long jump, and jump back on. Anyway, I am someone who tends to mimic things with my body. It is diagnosed as UMR: uncontrollable mimicking reaction.

I keep thinking of this when I, say, feed Miles. As he opens his mouth, I immediately open my mouth in tandem subconsciously thinking that the wider I open my mouth, the wider Miles will open his. Eric called me on this the other day and I began to realize how much of his life his mom has been playing a game of copy cat. If he screeches, I screech. When he crawls, I am compelled to get on the floor and crawl with him. I find myself playing monkey see, monkey do. It’s an innate primal urge that I have become acutely aware of recently. It started in infancy..
Baby: coo
Mom: coo
Baby: Yawn
Mom: (faux) Yawn
Baby: stick tongue out
Mom: stick tongue out
Baby: poop
Mom: po…wait. I am going too far.

Eric and I both converse with Miles through his new screeches. Our house is full of wild yells as we echo his bursts of noise. Miles may not use words to mean much (his one friend at childcare only says "ball" and "clue." Clue?!?! That one has me), but he is so loud now. He sort of hums when he crawls and has started to explore yelling to get your attention. I am not sure if it is cute or grating. Hmmm...perhaps both.

Second (yes, I did have a twofold intention to this post—see above). I attended a great talk by Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods. (READ IT) Providing ambiance, the talk was given during one heck of a thunderstorm that incited some electrical trickery as the power went out at a number of strategically positioned times. It added some much needed light to his sentiments. He is a wonderful author, but I am a stickler for engaging presenters. I must give him credit because he did toss in the word perfunctory and that won points with me. He actually acknowledged that he is not a good public speaker, and I have to agree. But the message was clear and passionate—our children need to spend more time outside! Interestingly, he did not blame video games for the problem—it’s not that they are not A problem, but the problem is more insidious and dangerous. He spoke a lot of that special place in nature we all had as a kid that we retreated to—a wooded area where leaves, sticks and dirt became ingredients for imaginary pie, or a park where boulders served as “home” for a made-up family with a baby named Tabitha (I loved that name). While I did have great times at my friends’ houses playing video games on occasion and don't think that my exposure caused irreparable damage, so much of my childhood was spent outside playing all sorts of games both with friends and family as well as all by myself. And yet, children today do not have that connection with nature in the same way. The tag line that kept coming up in the talk was "no child left inside." What’s changed? Well, what hasn’t changed? I really do suggest reading the book as the elements of the problem are multifactorial, and too vast for me to go into.

What I did reflect on during my car ride home as thunder shook my poor Subaru is that it is obvious that Miles loves being outside, but even inside Miles’s favorite place to be (besides with his two feet pushed up against my chest and with a handful of my hair in our bed from 5am-6:30am) is standing on our couch, looking outside of the big picture window. He loves to see the runners, dog walkers, dump trucks, cars, and don’t get me started if Pappi comes to the door. I can just see him absorbing nature even from the confines of inside. He looks up at the sky when he hears a helicopter or darts his eyes down the road when a car approaches. It's like his version of a big screen TV.

This weekend we got to spend the majority of the days outside (with a good smattering of sun tan lotion). Although Miles cannot help us with the lawn mowing (he does try to trim the scragglers by eating them) or planting, I think his senses being inundated with nature at this early age has to make a difference. It is also times like these I am glad we opted for the push mower. Miles chilled on the blanket with his grass clippings, puffs and toys while I mowed the yard right next to him. No gas going in his face, no noise pollution and I got some much needed grass cutting done! Now, planting in pots was a different story as he tried to crawl all over the pots and eat the begonias. Miles goes for walks every day at the ELC, and sometimes more than 1 time. We also try to take him for 45 minute walks or runs every day after work. Even tonight as he was having a meltdown, we committed to going out as a family to walk around the 'hood. Miles immediately calmed down and was lounging in his umbrella stroller, kicking his feet, and pulling his toes to his mouth enjoying life.

In honor of a belated Earth Day I challenge you all to spend at least 45 minutes cumulatively of your day outside—weather permitting. I am not suggesting that we all don't have days where we become a part of the furniture, nor am I suggesting that no one should ever play video games (heck, someone needs to have them for Miles to play as a treat--ha ha), but I believe we owe it to ourselves to get outside and use our senses again--unplugged; and that means no iPods, no cell phone conversations. You'd be surprised what nature has to say.

And for added interest, I suggest watching Frontline's Poisoned Waters online. I have somehow acquired restless leg syndrome and cannot for the life of me get to sleep these days, so I watched this late last night. It really makes you think...especially about chicken poop (and I thought I was obsessed with baby poop).

On a completely unrelated note, here are some of the newest pictures of Miles in action at the ELC. You'll notice his older buddy S is pushing him in the wagon, and in the very bottom one, Miles is finally getting to act in a psuedo "big brother" role. Though, I think he was really just eyeing one of M's hanging toys to chew.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes

The video speaks for itself!

It's a miracle, folks. Miles tests our patience in all realms of baby development, but his giggles, smiles and now crawling makes the anxiety and frustration melt away (unfortunately, they don't do much for gray hair). 11 months and 2 days and we can finally say our baby has crawled. We've never had a champion eater, napper, sleeper, sign languager (totally made up word), but there is no question that our family has grown to appreciate more fully the little victories of life. And to boot, he ate 3 pear chunks without gagging. Little victories... (Now if we can only conquer the sippy cup.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughtless Thursday continued...

I thought (oops, there goes the whole "Thoughtless" part of today) I would share some great downloads from Amazon.

150 Fun Songs For Kids

by Countdown Kids
Price: $0.99
Album Savings: $132.51 compared to buying all songs

Smile Smile Smile

by Dan Zanes
Price: FREE

A Walking Oliver Sampler
by Paul Austin Kelly
Price: FREE

I would marry Amazon if I could. (Remember when you used to use that line?). We always have music on at home when Miles is awake (although 6:30pm is Market Place on NPR) as we do not let him watch any TV. We cycle the same music over and over, so it is nice to get some new tunes. (We already had some Dan Zanes, and really like him!) 99 cents is a deal for 150 songs; and free songs sound better, no?

Thoughtless Thursday

I am trumping "Wordless Wednesday" with "Thoughtless Thursday." Work has just about maxed out my thought processes, so I present to you the most recent photo shoot Ms. JoAnn sent to me from Miles's time at the ELC. The first pictures with Miles in his sick track suit are from the day one of his classmate's celebrated his 1st B-day party, and the second are from yesterday when Miles was working on standing.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I have many odds and ends for tonight's post.

First--the masses have spoken. Here is the fringe. You'll note the uneven nature of the pieces (proof that this was not done at the hands of a skilled person over the age of 11 months). I promise the picture was not staged. My husband enjoys running up to me and shoving a camera in my face.
From Easter 09

Second--Mommy musing #1: when did I start talking to Miles like he is a puppy? "Sit, Miles, sit." It doesn't help that Miles puts things in his mouth, and then just lets them hang there while he uses his hands to explore other toys.
Mommy musing #2: Somethings get easier with age: dressing a wild and crazy child without the fear of breaking a neck or dislocating an arm...strapping a child in a car seat...getting out of the house in less than 45 min without packing your child's entire wardrobe and toy chest...changing a diaper one handed. And then there are the things that are getting harder: cutting nails, toenails, hair...holding a 20lb chunker while doing chores...eating dinner while grubby little hands find miraculous ways at finding your knife or pulling your plate off of the table...
Mommy musing #3: Can someone please convince me that not having a themed party already set for my 1 year old is okay and that Miles will not need therapy for a negligent mother who refused to hire the traveling petting zoo and balloon animal artist? Someone recently asked me what the theme of Miles's 1st b-day is going to be. Ummm...the number 1? It is hard enough being in denial that my little baby is going to be 1, but now I need to figure out how to execute a themed party with a "smash cake," favors (that will inevitably be thrown away), and matching decorations? I am thinking a low key BBQ with good friends and family (yay MomA and Grandpop are coming down!) will be the extent of his birthday.

Third--this past weekend we got to see the unedited pictures Uncle R took over X-mas. We need to go through them all and decide which ones we would like him to do some touch up work on. I was STUNNED at how much Miles has changed since last December.
From Christmas in April

He had less hair (and a toupee) and more chub than he does now--and I forgot those days of him not being able to sit up without assistance. What's amazing is that we actually got pictures of Miles not crying or shoving everything in his mouth. He was cutting his first teeth over Christmas and provided some challenging moments during our time in Ohio. I have included just a couple of pictures from Christmas just to have fun comparing Miles then and now. At some point I hope to have a link with all of the pictures we have chosen to "gussy up" and will share them at that time.

Fourth--My poor in-laws got the pleasure of spending another holiday with Miles as he cuts a tooth. They drove down from OH with Aunt H and Uncle R for the weekend, and despite the tornado watch, loss of power, blown fuses and a chronically crank baby, we had a wonderful time. Having a father-in-law and a brother-in-law who have a camera attached to their hips at all time relieves so much pressure in having to take pictures, but it results in my not having a ton to share on the blog. I posted the few pictures we took in Picasa.
Weekend low lights:
  • Nursing and pumping frequency decreased drastically. Following, so did my supply. Panic ensued, and now I am on a nursing and pumping vacation. (i.e. I make sure I am attached to Miles or the Medela at all possible moments.)
  • Nap time went out the window. Even on a bad day Miles will take 3 naps of 30 minutes. Well, this weekend we had 1 tragic day where Miles only went down for 30 minutes total.
  • Thunderstorms and sleeping babies don't go well together. We had the worst night of sleep in I would say 3 months--up every hour until I brought the child into our bed where he proceeded to "spoon" me to the edge of the bed. We have been rocking the 7:30pm-4:30/5am stretch for many weeks (thank you sweet Jeebus), so waking up so frequently was an unwelcome reminder of the first 8-9 months of Miles's life.
  • Eric and I realized how hard it is to be away from family. The weekend ended too soon.
Weekend highlights:
  • Music class with Opa and Grandma. Oh, so much fun watching Opa dance with Miles
  • Free hot dogs, lemonade, chips and brownies at the park. Yup. We randomly walked upon a church group stationed at the park with a grill, handing away hundreds of dogs, drinks and snacks. The reason? Just because. Free food tastes better, no? Yum. Those "just because" dogs hit the spot.
  • GAMES. I love games, but I hate losing. This week started off by playing Scrabble with some of Eric's work friends (I lost), and then I tried to redeem myself over the weekend with some bocce ball at the park (I lost again), gin rummy at home (not only did I lose, but I scored a NEGATIVE 20--can you do that?), and then a few games of Blokus. Character building...(I would be lying if I said that I am not still stewing over the losses.)
  • Leftovers. Our fridge is packed and just the convenience of having food already prepared for this week's lunches is enough to make me darn right giddy.
I still cannot believe that in a little less than 3 months, we have gone from this:
From Christmas in April

to this:
From Easter 09

Happy Easter and Passover Y'all!
From Easter 09

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fringe Benefits

It's a coincidence that the day my friend Schlotty posts about the new fad of Hammer pants I had planned on posting about another 80s fad--fringe bangs. Yup. I have bangs now! My stylist convinced me that it was the "thing" to do. Correction--he strong armed me into the decision and used the most primitive cutting tools--his hands and mouth. Payment was old school, too. Bartering--bangs for boobs.

Okay, the jig is up. My "stylist" is none other than my almost (gulp) 11 month old son. You see, he is obsessed with eating and pulling my hair. I have discussed in a previous post and provided photographic documentation. (Please oh please don't let this be the start of trichotillomania or some other neurotic obsession. I am just getting over the fact that he is still not crawling!) Well, the hair that was ripped out of my forehead hairline has been slowly growing back--straight up rooster style. For quite some time I doused my whips with some Aveda mega-hold styling spray so that they stragglers would hibernate beneath the weight of product and hair that has yet to experience the wrath of 4 budding teeth. Recently this no longer cut the muster (mustard?). So, I resigned to the fact that I will have 80s fringe for a good few months. Perhaps this is a subtle hint from Miles that he thinks his mom should get a proper haircut, and if not, he'll take matters into his own mouth. October 2008 is the last time my hair was serviced. I am not 7 days late with my April Fool's joke; it is true. And I think I have purchased all of 4 items of clothing since BEFORE I was pregnant. The cool thing is that things are so old, they start to look new again. Vintage, yeah...that's it.

The reception to the fringe has been mixed:

Husband: didn't even notice until pointed out
Co-worker: laughs every time she walks by my office, telling me she just pictures him eating my hair.
Mom of Miles's classmate: didn't quite compliment them, but acknowledged them saying, "hey! you cut some bangs."

My new canned response: "Thanks for noticing. It's obligatory fringe. My son eats my hair."

I was hoping that the whole, "no one notices mom anymore once she has delivered because of the a yummy baby" would last a good 12 months, or at least until I get a proper haircut and walk out of the house feeling presentable. Alas, this is not the case.

There was, however, one redeeming night that made me pause and realize that feeling like a prime candidate for What Not To Wear was not a cogent line of thinking. Eric and I had a date to a Marist "Event." It was actually called "The Event" and consisted of a silent and live auction, cocktail reception, buffet dinner, music and an empty dance floor. Attire? We were told anything from a Bill Cosby sweater (okay, I added the Bill part), to black tie. That is not helpful-especially for a mother who is tempted to go in gym pants and a dri-fit t-shirt. But, I pulled out a dress I wore for Schlotty's wedding (a simple, timeless J.Crew steal that will make an appearance for at least 2 weddings this year), slapped on some pearls and make-up, flat ironed my 1 inch fringe, and found the highest heels I could. The night was fun--watching other people hemorrhage money (for a good cause) was entertaining. We bid on some estate planning during the silent auction part, but got out bid by about 5 other people--I was tempted to join in the live auction for the trip to Cabos retailing for $17K, but wisely got a second serving of dessert and just watched. It was about the first time I had a night where I felt physically like my old self. Every mom of an under 1 year old has gripes about her looks (at least I hope they do, or I am just an awful complainer), whether it be weight, hair (check), frumpiness (check), bags under the eyes, resilient acne (check), sagging milk jugs, varicose veins (check), so when you have glimmering moments of unabashed compliments, you let them sit in your consciousness for quite some time. I had 3 such moments, and shamelessly admit that recounting them can be construed negatively to some readers. But listen, they keep me showered every day and confident that looking in the mirror before I leave the house can be a good thing.

Upon entering The Event at the Hyatt in Buckhead, we were accosted by "The Event Historian" as she titled herself, and got our picture taken.

Ego Moment #1:
Historian: You are too thin to have just had a baby.
Mama: Well, I didn't just have a baby. He's almost 11 months. But thank you.
Historian: You look amazing. Let me get your and Eric's picture.

Maybe she didn't notice the fringe? Regardless, it was a great way to start the night--even though I tend to be uncomfortable with similar comments. I don't know where that photo will surface, but I'd like to see it to see how fringe photographs.

We quickly found ourselves some drinks and fraternized with parents of Eric's runners. I am lucky that Marist breeds a culture of "family" and we have gotten quite close to many of the parents of kids whom Eric teaches and coaches. If we had not known some couples at The Event, it could have been a LONG night of us wandering around, pretending to look at items to bid on.

Ego Moment #2:
Marist Father: Hey Ali and Eric! Look at you, two--Ali, you don't even look like a runner, you look like a model!

Maybe he didn't notice the fringe? The best part is that he considered me a runner. Heck, I don't even consider myself one right now! Perhaps it is all of the sweats and dri-fit shirts I wear to XC and track meets that fools them.

I also got to meet many parents I had not met before. Primarily, they were of Eric's students as I don't have access to them as much as the parents of his athletes.

Ego moment #3:
Marist Mother: It's nice to meet you Ali. [Marist Mother goes on to tell us how much her son Danny adores Eric's history class.] I have to tell you Ali that I asked Danny if he had ever met Mr. Heintz's wife, and he said, "yeah mom, she's HOT." I would have said pretty to you, but you know high school boys don't say that."

Perhaps she didn't notice the fringe? I don't care if she was 3 sheets to the wind, it was well received. In thinking on this more (remember, I recall these moments to encourage my efforts to look presentable), I am struck by a few things: is it wrong to be flattered by a high school boy's comment? And the thing that boggles my mind--when has he ever seen me? I have NO idea who this Danny kid is.

It was a good night; the kind of night you want to sleep in your dress and make-up, hoping tomorrow you can pull it off again.

Easter is upon us, and we are expecting Grandma, Opa, Aunt Heather and Uncle Ryan from Ohio on Friday. Since it is the weekend of miracles...let there be a miracle that our house gets cleaned...and that 80s fringe will come back into style.

For the far away family: Nothing groundbreaking, just a video of Miles just being Miles.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Viernes Vlog

For some reason I have had trouble uploading videos on the blog, but tonight have had some luck. Miles loves sitting by the picture window to patrol the neighborhood or wait for Eric to get home. The video we have doesn't show Miles at his most excited, but does capture him saying "Dad." His verbal repertoire includes "dadada" "mamamama" "babababa" and lots of combinations of indistinguishable gibberish. Much like taking pictures, taking video of Miles results in his stoic curiosity about the technology. He gets camera serious--not camera shy. That's why you all need to come visit to see the comedic monkey we have on our hands.

Let me just take a moment to reiterate how awful it is to hear your own voice on video. Do I really talk to my child like that? It's so not intentional, but I am reduced to a babbling idiot.

Below we have Miles in hysterics at dinner, as well as our attempt to "get mobile" before his bath. Please excuse the beets and quinoa on his face (as well as his one naked foot. Babies love taking socks off). We are living dangerously and more than not skip the bib and napkins now. Risk taker? or Laziness? Obvi the latter. We were actually surprised he was in such good spirits as he boycotted his naps today at school and then cried for his entire 1 hour PT appointment. I got banished from PT room to see if my presence was igniting the waterworks, but he continued with the drama king act even when I was in the observation room, watching him on the TV and listening to him bawl. I must admit that at one point, I turned down the volume and just watched him on the screen because his histrionics were breaking my heart.

(Warning: this video is long b/c we merged 3 separate clips)

Non-sequitor. In regards to my brother's comment on my previous post about cloth diapers. I still think the evidence points toward cloth being relatively better for the environment. Plus, they are cuter and cut down on diaper rash. I do agree that they are not 100% eco-friendly and really don't love the fact that I have to use 2 cycles per wash (one cold and one warm) to get them clean, but I do not believe in any argument that contends that they are significantly worse than disposable. (And Nick, I don't think JH's argument about recycling is 100% accurate, either.) Plus, we are using a mix of cloth and disposable, so I can claim support on both sides, right? Ha! In regards to detergent, you are pretty much encouraged (if not enforced!) to use specific planet friendly detergent. No scent, no enzymes, no baby detergent, no "free and clear" detergent--they all contain chemicals and substances that do not work well for cloth diaper cleaning. We actually use a brand (at the educated recommendation of Mama D) for Planet Detergent. I use only a few tablespoons (if that!) versus what I used to use. There is not enough room here to devote to the washing and maintenance instructions of cloth diapers, but just know it overwhelmed me at first. And what still overwhelms me is the scent of day old wet diapers. I have a super strong gag reflex, and it gets me every time. I cannot wait until the weather clears and I can hang them out to let the sun do some magic on the scent and whitening of the diapers.

I am going to leave you with some resources that address your compelling question:

A great post on Seriously Spoiled: Are cloth diapers really better for the environment?

Also, Eco Child's Play has numerous entries on the benefits of cloth. I will say, they also reported on the recent UK finding that disposables are better for the environment. Like ECP, I don't agree with the study's findings completely.

An interesting blurb on diapers from the Waste Education Series from the University of Minnesota

And an interesting article in the Boston Globe