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It's What's For Dinner

For the first few months of Baby's adventures in solid foods, he refused bananas consistently until my husband and I finally decided that Baby, unlike most babies, did not like bananas.  In the last few weeks, as if to make up for lost time, when Baby sees a banana in the fruit basket, he points at it with an unparalleled  adamancy. 

Two nights ago, I came home to see my husband feeding Baby dinner.  Baby had not wanted soup.  He had not been interested in turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, or carrots.  He had, instead, chosen a banana for dinner.  When I sat down to join Baby and my husband, Baby had already eaten an entire banana.  

But there was still one banana left in the fruit basket.  He pointed.  I peeled.  And that was dinner.  Two bananas.



I swear I have been trying to come up with at least one potentially fun and witty post . . . but then . . .

Baby got sick on Tuesday night.  He called out for us, I went in, and as soon as I got to him, the poor thing puked.  Repeat twice.  We ran out of sheets and crib liners, at which point I said I would just sleep with Baby on the couch in his room.  But sleeping with Baby is, to coin a phrase, like sleeping with a baby elephant, and that couch is small.  So I put Baby on a blanket on the floor, hoping he would not puke again, while I got rid of the couch cushions, pulled out the sofa bed, and got us some covers.  Baby and I snuggled down.  He proceeded to flop around like a confused baby elephant, and an hour later he finally fell asleep.   Baby woke up, flopped, then puked around 7 a.m..  He did it again after half of his oatmeal breakfast.  Then, all was clear through his toast and apple juice lunch and after his nap.  Around 4 p.m., the worst of an awful, gusty, rainy day was over, and we both needed some fresh air.  I took Baby down to a coffee shop where I had some tea and a cookie while he pointed at everything in sight.  I was almost done with my cookie when he puked again.  I jumped up, grabbed a stack of napkins about four inches thick, and tried to clean up Baby, his shirt, and the sleeping-bag-type-thing that keeps him warm in his stroller.  I did my best, but I still felt embarrassed in the elevator up to our apartment with a nice couple who must have smelled a not very nice smell coming from the afore-mentioned sleeping-bag-type-thing.

I should note that Baby (perhaps like all babies) is resilient in a way that puts me to shame.  His expression is so small and sad when he gets sick, but within minutes he is pointing at something else and smiling.  Seriously - smiling. 

Over the next couple of days, Baby slowly but surely stopped puking and started taking more substantive food than toast.  

My husband got sick on Friday night.  He had a fever and felt sick to his stomach.  Then he came to the bathroom just as Baby finished his bath routine, and he puked.  He has not been feeling well since then (though he is better than he was on Friday and Saturday).

I have no kernel of wisdom from this experience to share here.  I am, very simply, very tired (and wondering if - or when - I will get sick, too).  


Just when you thought . . .

Recently, I was thinking about the state of my mommahood and noticed that the challenges have changed as Baby makes his way to The Great State of Toddlerhood.  I even had the nerve to say out loud to my husband, "I think that my biggest challenge right now is walking the line between giving [Baby] gentle nudges to try new things and making sure I do not push him too far out of his comfort zone." Implicit in this statement is my ridiculous assumption that the earlier challenges of spit up catastrophes, poop explosions, and sleepless (days and) nights were all distant "memories" (i.e., "blog posts" because Mother Nature has been kind enough to give me amnesia about the early wilds of living with a newborn).  Baby - again - proved me wrong.  

It was a weekday morning.  All was well.  We were in the middle of the routine.  Oatmeal, apple sauce, a scrambled egg.  Done.  Then a little fuss and cranky-face I like to call, "Get me out of this high chair before I come at you like a spider monkey."  Down you go, Baby.  Then his morning constitutional, and it's off to the changing table.  I open the diaper and am on wipe number forty-two when Baby decides he is done with this part of the morning.  He starts to kick his legs.  One of his legs gets right into the good stuff and then smears it everywhere.  As I try to use wipes to mitigate the situation, Baby's legs continue to smear while he reaches down to see what all the fuss is about.  Casualties: changing pad cover, changing pad liner, PJs, Baby's hands and legs and belly, my own hands.  A morning bath never seemed more appropriate.

Lesson learned, Baby.  I promise not to get ahead of myself (or you) next time I think about the state of our momma/baby-hood.  


Calling All Mommas!

Do you have a Mother's Day tradition that you are carrying on with your own Babies?

If so, please share your stories. Tricia Romano is writing a piece on these traditions for a major women's mag and wants to hear from you!

Send your traditions/stories to tricia @ triciaromano dot com.


The Tickle Monster: part book review, part regular old post

Baby received a very nice birthday present today: a book (The Tickle Monster), which comes with a pair of tickle gloves.  The gloves are shaped like big, furry, cartoon hands with holes for your fingers (for ease of tickling, of course).  I read the book to Baby while my husband wore the gloves and tickled Baby at the appropriate moments in the storytelling.  

Baby loved it.  He loved it so much that as soon as I finished the story and closed the book, he demanded a second read - immediately.  

(Many thanks to our pals in Oregon who provided the vehicle for the joy tonight.)


Sleeping With A Baby Elephant

A few weeks ago, two nights before his birthday, Baby started waking up at night and crying, and he has continued to do so off and on since then.  We have gone to him almost every time.  One night, after about a week of his new (old) routine, we let Baby cry it out.  It felt about as awesome as it did the first time we "sleep trained" him (i.e., he and I both cried it out that night).  Every other time he has cried in the night, we have gone to him, and he ends up sleeping on one of our chests or between us in our bed.  (One morning, my husband looked across a sprawled-out Baby and said, "Sleeping with him is like sleeping with a baby elephant.") 


Post-Bedtime Glass of Wine Demographic

In an article I read about the woman who started net a, she noted that there was an obvious uptick in sales around 8 - 9 p.m. in time zones around the world.  Her explanation?  The post-bedtime glass of wine.

Just now, I put Baby to bed and walked into the kitchen where my husband was making dinner.  Exhausted, I asked if I could just veg out on the couch while he continued without me.  No problem, of course.  I turned on E! for the comfort of meaningless babble and a little fashion schadenfreude.  What were the first two commercials I saw within five minutes of turning on the television? 
One: Weebles for preschoolers.
Two: microwaveable brownies.

Apparently the woman at net a porter is not the only one who knows about the post-bedtime glass of wine demographic.  


With kids, the days are long, but the years are short.

Yesterday was Baby's first birthday, and it was a long day.  

At 8:00 a.m., Baby was standing on the changing table (yes, standing), naked as the day he was born (ha!), and refusing to slow down for a clean diaper or any day time clothes.  

At 8:01 a.m., Baby peed.  Still standing, still naked.  

By 8:20 a.m., Baby was dressed in a very cute birthday outfit (thanks to my grandmother for the awesome striped onesie... Baby looked like an adorable baby bumblebee, which completely made up for my pee-soaked shirt).

By 10:30 a.m., I was leading a conference call.  Perhaps "leading" is too strong... I was trudging through the mud of the call and waving my arms frantically at the other participants as if to say, "Over here, guys!  Oh hey...  I'm over here!!"

Then it was 6 p.m., and I was in my office crying because I did not think I was going to make it out in time to see Baby before he went to sleep.  About fifteen minutes later, I had the following internal monologue:
Even if I left now, I would only get to see Baby for his sleepiest five minutes, and he will not care one way or another if he sees me for those five minutes.
What am I thinking?


Cupcake Time

Today was Baby's First Birthday Party, and it was amazing.  We met up with friends and family in the park.  There were balloons, toys, sidewalk chalk drawings, cider, cookies, cupcakes, mac&cheese, and smokey greens.  Today - September 25 - it was sunny and 82 degrees.  The whole day was amazing from the clear blue, sunny sky to the group of loved (and loving - so, so loving) ones celebrating with us to the reason for the celebration itself.  What else was amazing?  Hmmmm, let's see... maybe it was watching Baby eat his first cupcake.   I think I can break it down into the following three steps:

1.  Upon presentation of cupcake, plant face on top of cupcake and vacuum up ninety percent of the frosting;



I received the announcement below earlier this week -- my apologies for failing to get this up until tonight.  (in swamp of work lately... oh, and, Baby's First Birthday Party is tomorrow... )


We are offering 2 free Bija Kids Down Dog classes this week for 3 - 8 year olds

81 Washington St (@ Front)
4PM - 4:45PM

Ellie Herman Annex
463 4th Street (btwn 7th and 8th)
3:30PM - 4:15PM

Down Dog Classes introduce kids to the practice of yoga.  Yoga poses and principles are explored in a variety of fun ways and nature, basic anatomy and imagination are all key aspects of the class. Students are encouraged to explore the ways their bodies move through creative projects, collaboration, storytime, and songs.  Chanting, breathing exercises and simple mediation techniques relax the mind.  Practitioners are empowered to use yoga anytime they want to calm down, find more focus and express themselves positively.  No yoga experience necessary.

please email in advance to hold your spot.  space is limited!!!!




I received the following press release this week (take note future yoginis and yogis!)...

Popular children’s yoga program a hit in Brooklyn
BROOKLYN, NY – In its sixth year, Bija Kids, the highly acclaimed Brooklyn-based children’s yoga company, is adding several new programs to meet exceptional demand from area schools, parents, and children.

This fall, Bija Kids will expand to five Brooklyn yoga studios open to the public. Plus, it will enter more classrooms than ever before – 12 schools will have its yoga classes as part of their school-day curriculum or after-school programs. In addition, Bija Kids still offers free or sometimes paid special events throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan.

On Sept. 12, Bija Kids will host a free day of classes at its new Clinton Hill location. All ages are welcome.


BOOK REVIEW - The Very Busy Spider

The Very Busy Spider, by Eric Carle

I enjoy this book, Baby enjoys this book, but my husband has some trouble with the protagonist - that very busy spider.  As she spins her web, several farm yard animals stop by and invite her to join in their favorite activities.  Does she join?



Nourishing Mother

The three of us went to Kenyon for a wedding a couple of weeks ago.   The morning after the wedding, we were up early - of course - and on the hunt for breakfast - of course.  The inn where we stayed did not serve anything until 10 or 11... so we put Baby in the stroller and began our trek around Gambier, Ohio to find nourishment.  The local coffee shop was closed; no students yet, so no coffee on weekends.  The Deli was closed.  The Market was closed.  The bookstore looked so different from when we were there as students that my husband and I assumed we would  not find any bagels in there either.

We went back to the lobby of the inn to re-group.


COMMUNITY NEWS: After-school art program

A new after-school art program for 7-11 year olds starts this fall at the Old Stone House in JJ Byrne Park in Park Slope:  Art in the House!  The program will use the American Revolution, colonial life, and the Park Slope/Brooklyn community as a springboard for "fun and funky hands-on art activities."

Kids in the program will work on painting, print-making, sculptures, and a weekly group mural.  The last day of the program will be an art opening party for family and friends.

I am a fan of the arts, and my husband (the history teacher) is excited about using history as inspiration for kids' art... so please check it out!

Also, stay tuned for arts-related posts...

(yesterday, Baby ate some chalk at the playground, which is a start if nothing else)


Seeking The Joy

When my husband was growing up, he went to summer camp and then became a leader at that camp.  One of the traditions at Camp Belknap is lighting the lamp of love.  One of the rays from this lamp of love is the instruction to be joyful - specifically, to seek the joy of being alive.

At our wedding, we lit the lamp of love (of course).  Later, one of our favorite wedding presents came from a former Belknap leader: two hammers, one for each of us, with handles that were engraved with the reminder to "Seek the Joy."  

It is not always easy to remember to seek the joy of being alive.  In fact, it is often much easier to feel as if joys and sorrows come to each of us regardless of whether or not we seek them.  But, as he often does, Baby recently reminded me that seeking the joy is a much better way to live.

Baby learned to wave a little while ago, and when he did it was his favorite activity for the next few days.  He would wave to us at dinner.  He would wave to us in the bath.  He would wave to himself while he rode in his stroller.  And, one night, on his way to sleep, eyes closed, fully relaxed, he waved to nothing in particular.  He was - very simply - seeking the joy.  


BREAKING NEWS... and Update

Fire and huge amounts of smoke pouring out of building near Waverly and Myrtle...

Waverly between Myrtle and Willoughby is already closed off with a fire truck and two police cars on one end (the Willoughby end).

Hoping that no one was hurt...


From the Myrtle Ave blog, and The Local, it seems the fire was on the roof of a building near Myrtle and Waverly, and that there were no serious injuries.


RED JACKET ORCHARDS CSA - Carroll Gardens and East Village Pick-Up!

I just received the following tip about a CSA with pick-ups in Carroll Gardens and the East Village...

Interested in getting farm fresh fruit at an affordable price?  Would you like to support a local, family farm?  These are two great reasons to sign up for a CSA!  Through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), members pay a farm up front for share of produce that they can pick up from a distribution location once a week.  The price they pay for this share is cheaper than purchasing the same quality of produce at a grocery store or farmers' market.  At the same time, a CSA ensures a certain amount of revenue for the farm.  By joining a CSA, members can also familiarize themselves with their farmer: they can learn more about how their food is grown and who grows it.    


Though most vegetable CSAs are sold out in the city, you now have an opportunity to sign up for something completely new - a fruit CSA!  The Red Jacket Orchards Fruit CSA will provide members with weekly shares of farm-fresh fruit from August - November.  Fruit CSA shares in the city are currently additional product shares of vegetable CSAs - you must be a member of a vegetable CSA to partake in the fruit share; this is not the case for the Red Jacket Orchards Fruit CSA, who is completely independent of any vegetable CSA.  The Red Jacket Orchards Fruit CSA shares will have a variety of fruits grown on their orchards in upstate NY, such as peaches, plums, pears, apples, and grapes.  In addition to fruits, members will receive apple sauces, jams, and fruit juices.      

The Red Jacket Orchards CSA will have two distribution locations, which are listed below.  Full and half shares are available.  Full shares are priced at $22 per week and half shares are $13 per week.    Membership applications should be sent in by August 5th.  To see a sample share list and for more information on how to sign up, visit  or e-mail

Distribution Locations:

1.  Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain
513 Henry Street, Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens)
Corner of Henry Street and Sackett Street
Tuesdays, August 10 – November 9 from 4:00pm – 6:45pm

2.  Jimmy’s No.43
43 E. 7th Street, Manhattan (East Village)
Corner of 7th Street and 2nd Ave
Saturdays, August 14 – November 13  from 12:30pm – 3:30pm


Sand in the Place Where You Are

On July 1, we picked up my husband's youngest brother on the corner of Flatbush and Myrtle at 8:05 a.m..  Nearly eight hours later, we arrived at Camp, my husband's family's cottage on a lake in Maine.  

My husband and his three brothers spent their summers at Camp as boys  (yes - he is one of four boys - this might be a good time to raise your glass to his parents and their tireless efforts at parenting).  During those summers, they spent most of their days catching frogs and snakes and getting into all sorts of secret mischief with the other kids around the lake.  Every Fifth of July, they would scour the lake for the remains of the fireworks from the night before.  They would compete to see who could find not only the most but also the best dead fireworks (apparently, multi-shot cakes were the "best" and Roman Candles were a close second).  The winner's prize was a simple but very real pleasure - pride.

It is probably fair to write that both my husband and I expected that Baby would love Camp and the beach and the lake and the general relief of being out of the city (at least temporarily).  Baby corrected us - yet again.


Random Family

A good friend recommended repeatedly (and over the course of several years) that I read Random Family, by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, and I finally did this spring.  My husband, who read the book last fall, warned that I might not want to read Random Family during my commute because so much of the material can be heartbreaking.  I ignored my husband's advice and plowed straight ahead.  While I was waiting for the R train to take me home a few weeks ago, I finished reading it, and there I was, on the platform at Rector Street, finishing Random Family and starting to cry.

Apparently, my husband was right.  But the reason my eyes welled with tears that day was that LeBlanc had done something truly amazing at the end of her book -- she gave her readers the gift of a happy ending.  Random Family follows the lives of two women for eleven years through their multiple teenaged pregnancies, their varied relationships with men and with the criminal justice system, and - most importantly - their even more varied relationships with the members of their families.  After having chronicled an eleven-year series of substantial parent-to-child disappointments, in the end, LeBlanc gives us a brief scene of joy and love between a father and his daughter.

In the ordered and comfortable world of baby books, mommy blogs,  and parenting education, the starting point is always a celebration of the relationship between parent and child with the underlying assumption that each of us is the best parent for his or her baby.  But can that simple notion withstand complex circumstances?  Is a teenaged mom who goes out to clubs, bribing her own mother to watch her small children in exchange for cocaine, the best mom for her baby?  The answer is yes.  Heartbreakingly, yes.  There are many lessons from Random Family, but the one that has serious lasting power for me is that no matter who you are or what you do, your baby will still need your love and support more than anything in the world.  And so it will be my life's work to remember that fact and to honor it.


Attack of the Wiggle Monster

Baby is officially a Wiggle Monster.


  1. Baby is curious.
  2. Baby has an adventurous spirit - ready to explore the world.
  3. Baby is getting strong enough to get himself around, which means he really wants to get himself around (an amazing positive cycle that builds confidence and independence).
  1. Bath-time has morphed into: "Oh, [Baby] look at this awesome ____ [insert: frog, penguin, duck, puffer fish, turtle, star]!"  "Ummmm, [Baby], try to enjoy the bath while you are sitting down . . ."  "[Baby], please do not try to climb ____ [insert: out of the bath, up the wall of the tub, onto the soap dish]."
  2. Diaper changes are starting to resemble putting a diaper on a rotisserie chicken -- if said chicken had wiggly arms and legs and let out great sounds of frustration and irritation with said attempt to put said diaper on said chicken.
  3. Changing Baby's clothes is a process that sometimes involves two people, or, at the very least, it involves several moments of pause while Baby flips over, gets on his hands and knees, and rocks back and forth in what appears to be an attempt to launch himself off of the changing table and out into the World, where he is obviously meant to be, clothes or no clothes, Momma.  
Tonight, after the bath (See, Con #1), I brought Baby to his room to get him ready for bed (See, Cons #2-#3), and an epic wiggle battle ensued.  Baby rotated on his own axis at least three times while I tried to fasten his first diaper.  Yes, first diaper.  One of the tabs on the first diaper broke free from the rest of the diaper, which resulted in more rotating, more wiggling, and - oh, yes - a prolonged diaper experience.  

By the time Baby and I were working on his PJs, I found my mind wandering.  I flashed to my adventures in Kruger where I tracked lions on foot, stood several yards from a rhino, and walked through a herd of water buffalo.  [To be clear, water buffalo are no joke.]  If I could handle those wild animals, surely I can handle a Wiggle Monster.

But here's my question:  If, during a mere diaper and clothing change, I summon the inner-strength it took to face lions, rhinos, and water buffalo, what when Baby becomes Toddler and delivers his first (and second, and third) . . . temper tantrum?   


Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dads  -- may the giggles and shouts of laughter be extra loud today!


A Morning in the Life

We are currently at the mid-point in the morning, and this morning has involved almost the entire spectrum of Baby's moods and feelings.  The morning kicked off with some good, old-fashioned Floor Time during which Baby enjoyed rolling, scooching, and inching . . . until he didn't.  Then, Baby and I made ourselves half-way presentable for the outside world and headed out to the corner coffee shop.  Baby was calm and happy.  He sucked his thumb while he carefully studied everyone he saw.  

We came home.  I asked a woman who had just lit her cigarette in the hallway on the ground floor to wait to do that until she gets outside next time.  (How did that go over?  Well . . . hmmm . . . not great.    But before she could tell me what she really thought about my request, I got on the elevator up to our apartment.  Unfriendly Neighbor Crisis averted.)

Back in the comfort of our apartment, Baby enjoyed some pureed squash for breakfast.  He even smiled while he was eating it, which is his rarest (and therefore highest) form of praise for solid food.  He drank three drops of juice, which is par for the course.  He seemed sleepy, so we started the morning nap ritual.  He fell asleep while I was nursing him, which is also par for the course.  

Then he fussed and seemed to be protesting the nap when I left the room.  I tried to let him soothe himself until his cry became a serious, all-out, get-in-here-momma-right-NOW-cry.  Baby kept crying as I held him.  He was dealing with what has become a not infrequent predicament.  (I do not want to completely embarrass my almost eight-month old, so I will just note that this predicament started soon after solid foods, I tend to blame oatmeal and/or bananas and/or cooked carrots, and I have started giving him little bottles of diluted prune juice as an antidote.)  After some major cuddling and a little back rub, he calmed down and his predicament had passed.  (Try not to judge me for making poop puns... this is a mommy blog, not an issue of Harper's.)  

Five minutes later, Baby was changed and playing his favorite game as if nothing had happened.  He put a washcloth over his face while I repeated variations of, "Oh hey... where's my baby?  Anyone seen [Baby]?!?"  He squirmed and kicked with delight until he pulled the washcloth off of his face in triumph.  And I mean triumph.

Soon, Baby and I were back in the living room where he decided he would, in fact, love some prune juice, "thankyouverymuch, Momma," and he drank an entire ounce of the good stuff.  Then I read Corduroy while he ate the pages.  

When it was time to try the morning nap again, I placed Baby in his crib with his monkey.  For the next fifteen minutes, I could hear Baby telling monkey all sorts of wild sounding things.  Now, all is quiet.  Baby sleeps, and I feel like we have lived ten days in four hours.  


Happy Mother's Day

To all the Mommas In Training, may the smiles be big, the naps be long, the diapers change themselves, and may you be reminded all day that you are the best moms for your babies.

(Baby woke up at 4:45 this morning.  I normally walk the cry-it-out-line before 6 a.m., but for whatever "reason" (a term I use loosely) I thought that Baby had had a bad dream  - so in I went, and so the day began.  May the naps be long today, people.  May they be long!)


Night And Day Care

Baby spent a month with Nanny because I went back to work one month before Baby was eligible to start Day Care.  I am the first to admit that that month was peppered with challenges, most of which centered around my slow (and reluctant?) recognition that Baby and I could spend some of our days apart and he would still recognize me, enjoy my company, and not feel abandoned.  I never worried about the quality of Baby's care, I was just jealous that I was not the one providing it.  

Then Baby spent about four weeks at Day Care.  I could go on and on about why Day Care was a bad fit for us.  Instead, I will simply note, for the record, that it was a bad fit.  During those four weeks, my insecurity about whether, as a family, we were happy with Day Care was rivaled only by the guilt associated with having chosen the wrong child care option.  I felt like an idiot.  Apparently, I was more likely to cross examine a cab driver about traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge than I was to discern what my baby's days would be like at Day Care.  Had I been careless (careless!) about this decision?  

Last week, we asked Nanny to come back permanently, and she agreed.  When I opened the door to greet her on the first morning of her return, Baby smiled immediately and looked very happy to see her.

On the third morning after Nanny's return, Baby was suddenly a confident, easy little eater of solid foods.  On the third full day of Day Care, I got a call to come retrieve my little dearheart because Day Care thought he had had too many big poops.

Now seems like a very good time to publicly acknowledge how thankful I am that we are in a position to work with a woman who is so kind, capable, and all around amazing.  The woman who referred Nanny confided in me that she believes that Nanny is an angel.  Nanny definitely manifests goodness, purity, and selflessness - and, perhaps even more importantly, she loves Baby and makes him happy.  So... angel it is.  


BOOK REVIEW - Jeremy Draws a Monster

Jeremy Draws a Monster, by Peter McCarty

We have two Peter McCarty books right now, and Jeremy Draws a Monster is the current favorite.  Jeremy is a little boy who stays in his room and draws - even when he can see other kids playing outside his window.  One day Jeremy draws a monster who begins to rule Jeremy's life.  The monster dictates a long list of necessities, which keep Jeremy inside drawing for him all day, and the monster even takes Jeremy's bed at night.  The monster, who has the number "3" on his belly just as Jeremy has the number "3" on his tee shirt, easily could be Jeremy's fear of making friends.  Will Jeremy let the monster rule his life forever?


No.  Jeremy is a crafty little guy who figures out exactly how to deal with his fear monster.      


I Am 1/4 Danish: I Am Jealous Of Denmark's Parental Leave Policy.

Today, I wore a suit, which means little more than that I finished getting dressed by having thrown on the jacket that actually matched my pants.  I wore the suit because I had a meeting in a federal judge's chambers at noon to discuss a new pro bono program in which I had the opportunity to participate.

This morning, Baby cried the entire time I changed him into his "daytime clothes."  His eyes were puffy, his nose was stuffy, his cough that will not go away was still not going away, and to top it all off, two of his teeth have been "erupting."  Yes, erupting.  Babies are born with all of their baby teeth - albeit inside their gums - so we cannot call this process an arrival.  Instead, it is an eruption, a term that sounds almost violent, but trust me, the description is apt.

Despite Baby's discomfort, the two of us proceeded on course to Day Care.  However, when we got off the bus, I realized that I could not see all of Baby at once.  Somewhere in the lower right regions of my scope of vision, there was a void.  So here it was.  After three and a half months of a migraine-free life, here was my migraine.  I decided to walk Baby to Day Care because he would be in better hands with people who could see.  My vision deteriorated, a terrible zig zag line was flashing just right of center of my field of vision.  I waited for the light to change so that I could cross Flatbush and was secretly worried about crossing a major avenue while the aura were in full effect, but I was so close to Day Care, I just wanted to hand Baby to someone who was capable.

By the time I got to Day Care and passed Baby to one of the young women who works there, I could barely see anything right of center.  This kind of vision impairment is normally upsetting, but it felt about three thousand times worse when I tried to say goodbye to Baby without really being able to see his little face.  

The aura seemed to have subsided by the time I got to the subway.  I thought I could go to work, pump, maybe have a bagel, go to the meeting with the judge, and then head home to recover from the migraine.    This thought was a foolish one.  

On the subway, I closed my eyes until I got to the Wall Street stop.  When I opened my eyes and stepped off of the train, the aura had returned.  By the time I got to my office, the nausea was hitting me in full force.  I must have looked like a nauseous little mole when I asked my secretary if I could talk to her in my office where I turned off the lights.  Even though I really wanted to go to the meeting with the judge, I asked her to email the judge for me.  I told her some phrases that could go in the email about vision impairment and sincere apologies.  I cannot really remember because the nausea had enveloped me.  Say a little prayer that my last minute cancellation was somehow professional and dignified (the chances of that are slim).  I got in a cab and headed back to Brooklyn.  The last five minutes of the ride were the worst, but I did manage to make it into my apartment before I vomited  (no small feat).  

I woke up this afternoon and saw the remnants of my crazy morning.  The purse and keys that were left just inside the door because I had to run to the bathroom to be sick.  The shoes just outside the bathroom door because apparently even when I am sick I hate to bring outside shoes all over the apartment.  The suit crumpled on the bedroom floor because it was so obviously unnecessary anymore. 


How Do U Want It

The other morning, I dropped Baby at Day Care and caught the train to work.  I stood mid-car and read my book.  A woman sitting about three people to my left was casually singing along to whatever song was on her mp3-type player.  There were long pauses between the lyrics that she knew.  She caught my attention and the attention of others around her because this was not typical morning commute behavior, but in classic city style, attention caught was quickly released.  We went back to what we were doing for several stops . . . until she started singing How Do U Want It, at which point I had to stifle a guffaw.  A white woman wearing a scrunchy was singing along with Tupac while she was on a New York City subway.  My conclusion?  She has a very free spirit, and I mean very free.


BOOK REVIEW - Applesauce Season

Applesauce Season, by Eden Ross Lipson and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

This book has been on high rotation since it came into our lives (thank you, generous extended family).  It is less plot driven than some of our other books.  Instead, this story is told by a little boy who lives in the city.  His family has a weekly tradition - perpetuated by his spunky grandmother, of course - of making applesauce during applesauce season.  

Three things about this book appeal to me: (1) the narrator is a cute city kid; (2) it underscores the value of family traditions; and (3) the subtext suggests eating local is eating right.  The family gets their apples at the local farmers' market, and they make their applesauce according to the apples that are available each week.

So, for the locavores out there, you will enjoy reading this book with your little one(s) as a way of instilling and reinforcing your locavoracious values.  For the rest of you, I imagine you will also enjoy reading this book simply because it is about a little boy joining a family tradition.

(N.B.  The illustration of their farmers' market bears a striking resemblance to the green market in Union Square except that there appears to be room to run in the illustration.  My experience at the Union Square Saturday Morning Food Hooplah has taught me to be patient because there is no room for turning around, let alone running.)


Thank You For Riding The MTA

Last night, Baby woke up and announced his displeasure with his lingering cold at 10:00 p.m., 10:30 p.m., 1:00 a.m., 3:30 a.m., and 4:00 a.m..  In addition, as luck would have it, at 2:30 a.m., I heard the sound of a sad song by Sarah McLachlan blasting from the television of our upstairs neighbor.  This morning, I woke up feeling a little worse for wear.  

I packed for the day and realized I was going to need to carry three bags with me: (1) a bag for my work-issued laptop, which weighs at least thirty-four pounds; (2) my purse, which necessarily included bottles, pump accessories, a freezer pack, a wallet, and various gadgets; and (3) a bag for Baby, which included bottles, a freezer pack, a blanket, and two back-up outfits because the poor little guy pooped his way through everything he had at Day Care yesterday.  As such, I could not imagine carrying all of those bags plus Baby in my carrier.  I decided to take the stroller and the bus.

The bus arrived right on schedule, and it lowered to the sidewalk so that Baby, Stroller, and I could hop on.  I thanked the bus driver and said good morning as I swiped my Metro Card.  The bus driver, a man the size of three men who looked like an enormous bullfrog on a lily pad, responded by telling me to fold my stroller.  I pretended that this was not the most ridiculous request I had ever heard, most notably because Baby was in the stroller, and I said that I would work on it when I got a seat.

Did I work on it when I got a seat?  No.  There were about three other passengers on the bus, and the stroller was not blocking the aisle. 

Within about three more stops, I was looking out the window and watching some kids play soccer when I heard someone saying, "Miss?  Miss?  Miss!"  By about the fourth "miss," I think I realized that The Bullfrog Magistrate of Lily Pad B69 was talking to me.  I pretended to be very engrossed in that soccer game, but The Bullfrog Magistrate persisted.  So I relented.

"Yes?" I ask from about the sixth row of the bus.

The Bullfrog Magistrate repeated his instructions.  I was supposed to fold my stroller.  He was clearly upset.  He muttered that he had already asked me to fold the stroller.  

"Oh . . . okay.  I will see what I can do.  Yep.  Okay.  Oh, I hear ya."

I made a pile of my three bags on the floor by my feet.  I pulled Baby out of stroller and set him on my lap. I managed to fold the stroller - a stroller that requires two hands to fold - while I was holding Baby on a moving vehicle without damaging Baby, the stroller, or any of the other passengers (who number around seven at this point in the trip).  

Two lessons here.  First, The Bullfrog Magistrate lets the little stuff get to him.  Second, I am a badass.

But I wonder, do any of you feel that strollers should always be folded on a bus?  Do you think it depends on how crowded the bus is?  Or do some of you feel that buses, like bars, are no place for strollers - folded or unfolded?  


Big Day - Part Three: I Always Take 718 Calls

I am trying to get to the subway, and I am being thwarted by the slowest group of tourists ever to walk past Ground Zero.  I have said, "Excuse me," to try to get past them at least three times.  
I repeat, "Excuse me."  
"Excuse me!"  
"Are you kidding me?" as I move past them (and by "move," I might mean push).

Five minutes ago, I was in my office pumping when I saw that my cell phone, sitting on top of my printer, was buzzing.  I looked at the incoming call ID, and it was a "718" number.  I always take "718" calls at work because Day Care is in Brooklyn, and because my husband works in Brooklyn.  I turn off the pump.


"Hello, [Momma-In-Training]?"


"This is [one of the directors at Day Care].  [Baby] is fine, but . . ."

Pause.  Probably just half of a second?  A terrifying length of time.

" . . . but he has had three diapers that were filled with diarrhea today, and we call when there are three because there is a risk of dehydration.  You may want to call your doctor for some [hydrating potion] . . ."

"I understand.  I will be there in . . . "

"If you can get here within an hour, that will be just fine.  [Baby] is in good spirits, but he should probably see a doctor."

"I will be there in half an hour, forty-five minutes at the most."

I am on the train heading to Brooklyn.  That kid's headphones are so loud.  Why is he listening to such crap music?  Is techno even music?  I hope the woman standing next to me, humming her way through the subway ride, is getting off at this stop.  I think I know which stop I am going to . . . I have never ridden to Day Care, only from Day Care.  Am I right that this is the stop?  I think that this is the stop.


"Oh, hi.  He is so tired this afternoon."

I look over and see Baby reclining in a portable baby seat, thumb in mouth, bottle under his other arm, gazing off into space.  Baby sees me and smiles a dazed, toothless smile.  I plop him in the stroller and pack up the million and two things (including several soiled outfits) we need to go.   After we leave and turn the corner, I pull over on the sidewalk to check in on Baby.  He is, indeed, in good spirits, and so mine lift as well.

Baby was fine and got the all-clear from his doctor.  He did have a little bug, though, which brought on a fever, a cough, and an extraordinary amount of snot.  Today he seems better.

Big Day - Part Two: Routines

What do babies need (aside from food, shelter, clothing, and cuddles)?  I have been informed - through myriad sources - that babies need routines.  Routines purportedly provide our little ones with a sense of security in a complex world, which they are only just beginning to explore.

I am the first to admit that I am not prone to routines.  Nevertheless, this past week was Baby's first week at Day Care, and the time seemed ripe for developing a morning routine for both of us.  I imagined a routine that involved a lot of night-before organization followed by an easy morning of putting Baby in the carrier, grabbing my bag(s), and taking the bus to Day Care.

By Thursday morning, however, no routine had materialized.  I woke up feeling groggy and with a bit of a sore throat.  Baby and I played for a little while, and then I made some oatmeal for my breakfast.  As I was enjoying my own food, I looked at Baby and thought, "Maybe now would be a good time to introduce [Baby] to bananas..."  (I do not know why.)  I put Baby in the high chair, mashed up some banana, and gave it a try.  It did not go well.  Baby started to fuss, which I interpreted as, "Mom, why did you think I wanted a banana when what I really need is a nap?"

I responded by hatching a plan to leave in fifteen minutes, put Baby in the stroller, walk slowly to Day Care, and give Baby a chance to nap in the stroller.  After a whirlwind of bottles, back-up onesies, business casual dressing, sun hat grabbing, and general Momma-In-Training hijinx, Baby and I headed out the door.

I took what can only be described as a meandering path to Day Care.  I thought that Carlton Avenue cut straight through the neighborhood to within a block of Day Care.  So, I walked to where I thought I would find Carlton, which is where I found Clermont.  I decided to try my luck with Clermont.  (Baby napping yet?  No.)  Soon, I saw a construction crew in the block ahead of me ostensibly preparing for a wild rumpus of noise and road dust.  I got off of Clermont and took Adelphi instead.  (Baby napping yet?  No.)  Within a couple of blocks, Adelphi ended, forcing me to go right, which was where I finally did find Carlton Avenue.  (Baby napping yet?  No.)

One block later, I was standing on Carlton and Atlantic.  I needed to cross Atlantic to get to Day Care, but the pedestrian bridge was closed thanks to the highly controversial Atlantic Yards construction.  There are plenty of reasons to rally against Atlantic Yards, but on this day, my reason was pragmatic.  Atlantic Yards closed my bridge, which meant that I had to walk Baby down Atlantic Avenue to the next available bridge.  Atlantic Avenue is a loud, gravelly, no-trees kind of nastiness.  (Baby napping yet?  Ummmm, no.)  I started feeling pretty guilty for having created this haphazard, nonsensical, no-routine life for Baby.  I felt like I was failing to give Baby what he needs, and that is the worst feeling for a Momma-In-Training.

Just before I turned the corner to Day Care, I looked down at Baby.  Fast asleep.  We pulled over on the sidewalk, and I let him sleep in the shade while I checked work emails.  A young family walked by.  The mom and dad were walking their toddler in a stroller while the dad sang to his son.  The dad sang, "All you need is . . . "  The kid responded, "love."  The dad sang, "All you need is . . ."  The kid responded, "love, love, love."  The dad sang, "Love is all you need."


Big Day - Part One: Old School Yogini

Today, I went to a yoga class for the first time in many, many months; I renewed my distaste for the Atlantic Yards "project"; and I yelled at several tourists.  It was a big day - so big, in fact, that I have decided that it warrants three separate posts because God knows I do not want to subject any reader to a never-ending story about one day. (I let the professionals handle stories like that.)

With no further ado, here is Part One of a Big Day:

Toward the end of my yoga class today, the teacher asked us if anyone knew the name of the pose that we were practicing.  I answered quickly, "Dead Bug!"  (I am not a whiz at yoga pose names, but, honestly, how can you not remember a pose called "Dead Bug" once you learn it?)

My teacher said that yes, indeed, the pose has been known by the name "Dead Bug."  However, he continued, the name of the pose is subject to some debate.  He explained that people are now calling the pose, "Happy Baby." Although the Momma-In-Training part of me loves the idea of practicing "Happy Baby," I smile to think that I am an old school yogini in Dead Bug Pose.  



On the way home from Baby's six-month check-up, a pigeon pooped in my hair.  I was stunned.  My husband, still able to form rational thoughts, suggested that he use the diaper wipes to clean my hair.  And that is exactly what he did.  On the sidewalk on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, my husband used diaper wipes to clean pigeon poop from my head.  After he finished, I used the anti-bacterial gel in the diaper bag to clean my hands, and then, on a pigeon poop induced impulse, I put some of the gel on my head, too.  Moral of the story?  Wipes are for everybody, not just babies.


When I studied for the bar (a lifetime ago), I followed a very specific routine every day.  One of the essential components of this daily ritual was my lunch break when I watched a certain celebrity-gossip-focused cable channel for exactly one hour.  It provided the absolutely perfect respite - juicy enough to capture my attention completely, and dumb enough that it never lingered in my thoughts after I turned off the television.  

Fast forward several years, and you find me in a different city, on a different couch, after a long day at work, and with my baby asleep in his crib. What am I doing to relax?  Oh, just watching a certain celebrity-gossip-focused cable channel - the addiction to celebrity gossip as stress relief is strong.  When a commercial aired for a certain celebreality show, I suddenly found myself extolling the virtues of both the show and a former playboy bunny or mate or girlfriend or whatever her status was.

Is Kendra really my new hero?  Maybe.  At least the commercial for her show might be.  

When I was pregnant, I spent a lot of my time being self-critical about my weight gain.  I imagine that this self-flagellation was due in no small part to the fact that my doctor was herself a loud critic of my weight gain.  But I admit that I contributed to the problem by having set some unrealistic expectations before I got pregnant.  I thought that I would be one of those Stylish New York Moms-to-be (e.g., that pregnant woman standing on the corner of Great Jones and Bowery, sipping her latte from Dean and Deluca, wearing something chic (not just chic-for-a-pregnant-lady), and with a lovely hobo bag hanging effortlessly from her shoulder.  I was not that woman.  My lattes tended to drip onto my belly, my outfits were not chic for anyone, and my purse always overflowed with the million things I needed for the day.

After Baby was born, I knew that "nine months up / nine months down" made sense, but I set some unrealistic expectations for myself again.  I irrationally felt that I should (perhaps magically?) get back into shape and back into pre-prego jeans much sooner than was possible for my body.  

I am not here to blame "unrealistic media images" for my unrealistic expectations (I am a rational, smart adult who understands the limits imposed by physics without a personal chef or plastic surgeon).  Nevertheless, we seem to live in an era when young, famous, and sometimes beautiful people are getting pregnant, having babies, and losing their baby weight on television, on the internet, in US Weekly, and anywhere else I look.  And these famous people are doing it all so quickly.

Enter my new hero.  Three cheers for the commercial I watched where a woman famous for her figure appeared to be fighting - and I mean fighting - to get into shape after having given birth.  Thank you, Kendra.


I just watched five minutes of a certain reality show, and I feel compelled to state that, in the future, I will be more mindful of the meaning of the word "hero."   



The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Of course The Lorax is great, it is by Dr. Seuss.  It is a wonderful story that reminds us that the world we live in is beautiful, that every living thing is connected, and that we need to conserve our natural resources. But what's more is that it rhymes and offers us awesome words and phrases like "where the Grickle-grass grows," "his Snuvv, his secret strange hole in his gruvvulous glove," the "Whisper-ma-Phone," and "Brown Bar-ba-loots" in their "Bar-ba-loot suits."  Reading this book to Baby is a verbal joy.  


Head Over Heels

I had the luxury of staying home for five months of falling head over heels for Baby, but I am back to my day job now.

My typical day involves
rushing (to work),
trudging (through work),
wondering (if I have enough work to earn my keep),
realizing (that it is time to pump),
listening (to dipwads),
repeating (instructions to dipwads),
wishing (I could go to the gym and instead realizing that is time to pump - yet again),
searching (for that thing that I swear I just set down),
pumping (oh yes, one more time),
plowing (through whatever work I can finish before the end of the day),
packing (bottles and their various accessories, work ID, blackberry, cell phone, keys), and
racing (home to see Baby).

Yesterday I added tripping to the list. At some point between searching and pumping, I opened my office door. I turned to my left so that I could walk to the ladies room. The next thing I knew, I crashed into the wall as I tripped forward and sideways simultaneously. Somehow, I did not fall over - but I did succeed in making a racket. (My kind of poise and grace is noisy.) The Southeast corner of the 19th Floor stopped and looked up at me with a couple of gasps and "are you okays," but then it was back to business as usual for everyone. Nonetheless, I still had to walk from my crash site to the ladies room, past all of the people who had just seen (and heard) me spaz out of my office door and into a wall. I was bright red, hot in the face, and praying (seriously, praying) that I would make it past everyone without falling over again.

As soon as I returned to my office, I put my heels back in their drawer and returned to the flats I had commuted in.


BOOK REVIEW - Knuffle Bunny

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

Adorable. I fell in love with this book the first time I read it to Baby. It takes place in (Park Slope) Brooklyn, which is nice. Willems perfectly captures the way parents and babies try to communicate with one another before they share a common language. Trixie tries to tell her daddy something important but has to make do with only her baby babble sounds, her cries, and her physical expression of distress. After several blocks of miscommunication, Trixie and her daddy end up back at their door a little worse for wear. Who immediately knows what's on Trixie's mind?



Set a book in brownstone Brooklyn, mix in some adorable illustrations and pictures, add a pinch of cuteness between a little girl and her daddy, bake until the dialogue between parents (who have words) and babies (who don't) is golden, let cool, and frost with the brilliance of a mommy -- and Voila! a perfect Knuffle Bunny.

What does Baby think of Knuffle Bunny? He tried to eat several pages this morning, which is one of his highest forms of praise.

BOOK REVIEW - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

An excellent book. It rhymes. The illustrations and graphics are simple and bright. All of the lower case letters try to climb up one coconut tree. Can they all fit?


No. They do not all fit on one coconut tree. There are twenty-six letters in the alphabet, and although they are little, lower case letters, there are simply too many to fit onto one coconut tree. Obv.

The tree bends down with their weight, drops them all to the ground, and the upper case mamas and papas and uncles and aunts have to help them up.

Baby loves, loves, loves this book. This morning, I was reading a different (but equally awesome) book to Baby. He spotted Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom on the cushion next to me, and he promptly rolled right off of my lap, arms reaching out for his dear, brightly colored (and delicious?) book. If that is not a ringing endorsement, then I don't know what's what.


Coming and Going

When I leave in the mornings now, Baby usually looks up at me from his nanny's arms and smiles. Then the smile fades, and he looks confused. The nanny says (for him), "See you later, Mommy." I look back as I walk away, and he knits his eyebrows and watches me go. I tell myself not to look back again. I tell myself not to run back to Baby. I remind myself that this is the Great Recession, and that I need my job. I put my headphones in and try to pretend I am someone else. My solace is that I will get to see Baby smile when I come home. That smile makes my heart beat.

But there are days when circumstances conspire to keep me from getting home until after Baby is zonked. On those days, when I walk in the door, he looks at me with about as much recognition as he might give to the UPS delivery person. I try to fight it. I smile really big and exaggerate my excitement to try to get him to smile back. But he won't. I know that he is just tired, but I feel like crumpling when my day ends that way.

Yesterday was one of those days. I was in my office at 5:45 p.m. listening to some young paralegal question my instructions. He was skeptical of whatever I was telling him to do. Perhaps because my return to Work is so recent, I distrusted myself (and even my notes) and instead believed his skepticism. He wanted to check in with another attorney on the matter, and I told him to let me know if I had indeed made a mistake. When I did not hear from him, I sent him an email. He wrote back, and I am paraphrasing here, but his email roughly translates as follows:

"Dear LadyLawyer,

I think that I know more than you [even though I was learning long division when you were at Kenyon smoking P*Funks]. I am busy [doing what you told me to do because you were right]. I will get to that other thing later [because you were right that that other thing is for later]. I am not going to admit that you were right because I am really busy knowing more than you [and now you are going to get home to see a zonked out baby who does not even recognize you].

Little Dipwad."

I used to think that people moved fast on New York's sidewalks because this is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of and all the rest of it. But now I believe that people move fast, and I mean really fast, to get home before their babies are zonked out little zombies. At least that's why I do.


The More Things Change

I returned to my office on March 1, and I promise to write more about that transition when I am emotionally able. In the meantime, here are some of the oddities from the last week and a half:

1. A man playing a baby grand in the lobby of 1 WFC. Neither the baby grand nor the piano player were there the last time I checked.

2. The ID I use to swipe through the turnstiles to get to the elevators did not work on my first day. The Universe sending me back home? Nope. According to security, I had simply swiped too many times and worn the damn thing out. Thank goodness I do not believe in existential crises because otherwise I think I would have had one.

3. Yesterday, while I was standing in line to get my salad for lunch, a couple of chach-faces roll in. One turns behind to his friends and says, "That's not even Finance 101... That's, like, Algebra 101!" Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. Apparently, I found the only place in America where it is okay [i.e., awesome] to admit [i.e., brag] that you are a Finance Guy.

4. On my third day back, a partner stopped by my office and opened with, "Now, uh, please don't report me to the, uh, you know, politically correct police or anything . . . but . . .." After his "non-reportable" remark, he explained that he had learned at his age that even when you are trying to be nice, some one is going to get upset.

5. When I went to hide in various retail stores after a terribly uncomfortable exchange with the partner in #4, I walked by at least two more pianos and piano players where there had once been only hallway. The entire World Financial Center had been taken over by pianos!


The Breast Whisperer

This morning I had the distinct pleasure of reading an article in the newspaper while I drank a latte and ate the top of a muffin.

Ah, the Breast Whisperer. It almost brought me to tears when I thought about how grateful I was to my own whisperer, Judy LeVan Fram, who lives in Park Slope (of course). In Baby's first week, Judy packed up her scale, hopped on a bus, and came to my apartment.

She asked if I had any swelling in my legs, and I showed her the science experiment that was formerly known as my ankles. She smiled and said that the swelling was not that bad. She even said that she had seen worse (and seemed to mean it). She did not wince or even shudder at the sight of my post-partum belly even though I shuddered at the sight of that belly for weeks and weeks. She helped me find a way to hold Baby so that he could latch on and actually get some nourishment . . . something that a parade of post-partum nurses failed to do in a spectacularly gruff fashion.

When Baby seemed to have finished nursing on one side, Judy suggested that I offer him the other side. I slid my hand under his back to lift him, and somewhere between his lower back and his neck I noticed that my hand was moving faster, it was quite literally slip-sliding up his back. Baby had pooped an enormous newborn poop that came squishing out of his diaper, up his back, covered my hand and arm, and slathered the couch cushion.

Judy responded calmly by saying that she thought she had heard him poop. I was mortified. Three days in and I not only needed some one to tell me how to feed my baby, but I had no idea when he was pooping (even though it was apparently an audible event), and I smooshed his poop everywhere in front of company. My husband came in to see what was going on and seemed just as embarrassed. He threw out the couch cushion.

Judy helped as I changed Baby, and then she offered to hold him so I could wash my hands. (Mortified again. What kind of mother thinks it is okay to continue to handle a baby when she is covered in poop? The kind who is three days in and experiencing a public poop panic.)

Finally, Judy weighed Baby and reported that he was indeed getting nourishment from me. Sweet relief.

My time with Judy was so comforting, I highly recommend her to anyone who lives in New York. And I encourage anyone who is thinking about hiring a lactation consultant to find a good one, give her a call, and feel this wonderful, calm reassurance at a time when the world may seem to have been turned upside down.

N.B. I have not referred to anyone in this blog by name before. However, I had such a positive experience with Judy that I wanted to give her credit publicly. I liked her so much that when I saw the headline for the article I read this morning, I thought that it was about her.


Last Month of Vacation

When I think of the great vacations of my life, several immediately come to mind:

(1) One week with my husband in Hawaii for our babymoon. We went to the beach every day, we snorkled whenever we wanted to, and we even took a helicopter tour of the island. It was perfectly relaxing and beautiful.

(2) Two and a half weeks with my husband in South Africa. We spent three nights in Kruger, we visited Johannesburg, we visited Cape Town, we toured wine country, and we went shark diving (as chance would have it, with Anderson Cooper and his Planet in Peril crew).

(3) One week with my husband in Mexico for our [second] honeymoon. We went to the beach, we drank pina coladas and ate fish tacos, and I went scuba diving for the first time in my life. I even [reluctantly] swam by a [nurse] shark.

(4) A long weekend with my husband in Quebec City for our mini-moon [i.e., first honeymoon]. He surprised me and brought me to the most beautiful hotel in the city. We walked around the old city during the day, we ate delicious food and drank delicious wine at night, and we accidentally referred to flies as handkerchiefs in French.

(5) Two weeks with my husband, who was then my fiance, in the Pacific Northwest. We hiked, camped, went out in Seattle, went out in Portland (sort of), and toured wine country. It was an amazing time.

(6) One week with my husband, who was then my boyfriend, in Brazil. We were there for a wedding. It was a wonderful, week long party.

I just sent my secretary an email letting her know that I would be taking an unpaid leave to extend my maternity leave until March 1. The final sentence of her response was that I should enjoy the last month of my vacation. She does not have children.


No Comparison

When Baby was still in my belly, I called him The Fraggle. For months and months, I silently wished for my little fraggle to be healthy and happy (and sometimes, I would add wise to the list). I think I kept my wishes simple in the hope that, if the Universe were to hear them, they might more easily come true.

Baby is now four months old. My wishes are the same, but now I have an alarming array of metrics by which I can judge Baby's health and happiness. First, the numbers: weight in pounds, length in inches, and head circumference in centimeters. Then, the developmental milestones: smiles, coos, giggles, opening hands, holding head up, rolling, sitting, and so on and so forth (forever).

At the heart of all of this evaluation is comparison. From the very beginning, we mommas-in-training learn how our babies' length and weight compare through that beguiling statistic known as The Percentile. Then, we ourselves engage, often unintentionally, in the game of Baby Comparing. Mommas want and need to share their experiences, which necessarily means that they talk about their babies. While it feels so reassuring to hear the similarities, the differences often present opportunities for false pride or, worse, unfounded guilt.

I admit to having complimented myself for Baby's accomplishments, and I confess to having blamed myself for challenges, e.g. The Great Eczema Battle of 2010 (a story for another day as the battle wages on). In fact, there have been days when I questioned just about every aspect of my Momma-hood qualifications.

Should I eat more fish and walnuts to help Baby's brain grow? Is my body producing enough milk for Baby? How many times did Baby smile today? Am I holding Baby enough? Am I holding Baby too much so that I am depriving him of his opportunity to learn to roll, sit, or crawl? Why can't I remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk well enough to tell it to Baby?

The earthquake in Haiti quickly snapped me out of wallowing in the swamp of self-doubt. But just in case an entire country's devastation failed to provide some perspective, last week, my brother-in-law was at our apartment and said that a man-hole cover next to his building had just exploded, shooting flames and electricity into the air.

I do not have control over many things. I did not choose where I was born; I cannot avert natural disaster; and I cannot predict where or when a man-hole cover will explode. But I know that Baby is healthy and happy, and I am entirely thankful for it.


Twenty Ten

New Year's Eve is my favorite holiday. Plenty of people I know react to this holiday with some form of the following: Too much hype; Never as fun as I want it to be; That bar I rented in New York was actually triple booked, and I ended up celebrating the new year on the Williamsburg Bridge on my way to Brooklyn. Well, I liked having the ball drop when I was on the bridge. It is always as fun as I want it to be. And who uses the word "hype" anyway?

Here are some of the great things about New Year's Eve that are not true many other nights of the year:
  • You may sentimentally review the past with wild abandon;
  • You may look to the future with bright-eyed optimism;
  • You may walk around your apartment in a tiara even though you are not (and never have been) in a beauty pageant;
  • It is customary to kiss at the stroke of midnight; and
  • Champagne is the drink of choice - preferably with a swirl of Grand Marnier [thank you, Last Hurrah at the Parker House in Boston].
This year, of course, was a little different. My husband prepared a delicious dinner, and we opened one of our special bottles of wine. Even though the crowd for the night was reduced to a party of two, I like to think that we maintained a festive atmosphere. As a gift to ourselves, we were in bed by 9:30 pm.

About two and a half hours later, I woke up to two sounds. One was Baby. Presumably, Baby woke up because the second sound (set of sounds, really) was very loud and very unusual.

Pratt Institute is about three blocks from our apartment. Every year, on New Year's Eve, at midnight, the school's engineer plays the school's steam whistles. Even though this is the third year that I have celebrated New Year's Eve in my neighborhood, this is the first year that I noticed the volume, the duration, and the amazing sounds of the steam whistles. What do steam whistles sound like? Well, they sound like a cross between a train whistle and a whale giving birth. (I have heard whales giving birth, and I believe wholeheartedly that I am providing an accurate description.)

Perhaps more impressive than the sound of the steam whistles was the fact that Baby lulled himself back to sleep after a bottle even while the whistles continued to blow.  And so, New Year's Eve remains my favorite holiday of the year.