March 29th, 2009

Vibble looks like a kid today. We went to the Promenade to shop a little, and there were all these BABIES, and I realized: She is not really a baby. Toddler Time! I’m cool with that. Pros and cons to any change, but she only gets cuter and more fun with every passing day.

Anyone have advice for how to soothe an allergic rash? Pediatrician says it’s nothing to worry about, but it’s obviously uncomfortable for her here in Day 2.

The Trouble with Jigsaw Puzzles

March 29th, 2009

What do I do with it now? Paint it with puzzle glue and display it somewhere in No. 6? (Stevel has already forbidden such an act of aesthetic heathendom.) Dismantle it and do it again? Ug.

I propose an immediate puzzle exchange. Who has one to send? I will drop this one in the mail to you immediately!

Snow to Swimsuits-on-the-Beach in Less than Two Hours

March 27th, 2009

We had a visit from Debi, Sam, and Mike, who stayed with Vibble overnight while Stevel and I took a little jaunt to Big Bear Lake. Steep mountains and snow, 7,000 feet. We relaxed, walked around, and bought new hats. Mine is a cowgirl hat. Here is Steve’s.

This was my first night away from Vibble. She did just fine; in fact, she had a wonderful time. She adores Sam, so wherever her big cousin is, she is happy. We returned to near 70-degree weather, and I joined Sam, Debi, Mike, and Violet at the beach, where Sam was in his swim trunks playing in the water and sand. He and I made a righteous sand-village along a road we built leading to an abandoned sand castle.

We went to La Brea Tar Pits and the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. It also has to be mentioned that this is the visit where Sam fell in the duck pond at the park. Poor, soaked Sam! He was so excited to find TURTLES in the pond; in his enthusiasm, he leapt onto an unstable rock. SPLASH! That was NOT on a nearly 70-degree day, unfortunately. Chilly walk home. But overall, a really FUN visit together.

No sooner had they left, than I was laid up with the flu. Puke, puke, puke. Viral hangover. It’s Day 3, and I’m still a little shaky and sluggish but doing much better. Violet is not herself, either, but I think it’s this awful teething. It makes her moody and strange. She will be giddy, chirping away and then scream in agony and drop to the floor, grabbing her head or mouth and refusing whatever you offer her in the way of comfort. Poor, poor little bug.

She loves her pacifier too much. She has developed a rash on her chin and cheeks, thanks to constant drool under plastic. She is NOT amenable to being without the pacifier very much of the time. Yesterday the breakout was even bleeding a bit. But ChappyFace MUST have her Nuk. All day and all night.

Banshee Baby

March 22nd, 2009


I’ve been meaning to e-mail all of you about Violet’s increasing volume, and then yesterday one of our neighbors alerted me that it’s been keeping some neighbors awake at night. I really apologize. We try to keep the windows closed when she’s really wailing, but sometimes we forget; if this happens, please don’t hesitate to call us.

I know she’s gotten quite loud and very screamy. Our Little Bundle of Joy has really turned into Our Little Bundle of Noise. Some of it has to do with pain, and some of it is her way of communicating. I thought you might like to know what it is you’re hearing at all hours, so here is a guide:

Shriek-ometer level: 1
She’s asleep, and her pacifier has fallen out.

Shriek-ometer level: 2
She wants something, and we are playing the What-do-you-want game. Is it this? This? Milk? No? Juice? Pick up? Crackers? … This game has gotten more and more complicated as she’s become more specific in her desires. The other day we did this until I figured out, somehow, she wanted me to open the shape-sorter toy and remove the purple oval.

Shriek-ometer level: 2, followed by adult shrieking “Ouch!”
I hope when she learns to talk we can stop playing the aforementioned game, especially since it involves a lot of her chucking at our faces the things we give her that AREN’T what she wants. Full sippy cup of milk = ouch. Sometimes, to be emphatic, she will throw it, then pick it up and throw it again. Ouch OUCH.

Shriek-ometer level: 3
This one is specific for “Give me a pacifier and turn on Sesame Street so I can zombie-out for a while.” A while ago we downloaded about a dozen episodes on iTunes/Apple-TV. She has been watching these same episodes over and over, probably 50 times each. She loves them. No other TV show comes close to soothing the shrieky beast like this one does.

Shriek-ometer level: 4
She’s done eating, and someone is trying to wipe off her face and hands. GOD FORBID.

Shriek-ometer level: 4.5
Someone is trying to strap her into a car-seat or stroller. This shriek is typically short in duration, as once she is all strapped in, she’s happy as a clam.

Shriek-ometer level: 5
She’s tired and one of us is trying to help her fall asleep. She has always been sobby when she’s tired. If this lasts all her life, I might have to teach her college roommate how to swaddle her.

Shriek-ometer level: 6
Teething shriek. Her teeth have been popping in one after the other, and it clearly makes her head hurt, her stomach hurt, and, obviously, her mouth hurt. She grabs all of these pained places, including reaching into her open mouth to grab at her gums, to let us know about it. Frozen teethers help.

Shriek-ometer level: 7
Someone is trying to change her diaper or clothes. This shriek is actually MEANT for YOU, Neighbors, and specifically translates to “Call Social Services! They are abusing me!”

Shriek-ometer level: 8
She’s hurt. Poor kid. The more she stands up and takes a step here and there, the more she seems to injure herself. Our baby-proofing efforts can’t take away how hard the floor is, or how sharp the corner on that shelf is, or how much it hurts to fall on top of a trash can and split your lip open.

Shriek-ometer level: 9
She’s having her hair washed. She loves to play in the bathtub, but this part—well, she’s not a fan.

Shriek-ometer level: 25
We have just told her no. No, Violet, you may NOT climb up to the shelf behind the couch. No, you may not open the oven door. No, you can’t have the scissors. No, we do not eat rubber bands. Her suicide missions mostly involve attempts to climb very, very high and then wiggle backwards over the edge of something. Being told no makes her very angry. VERY! ANGRY! We’ve started trying to set some boundaries, to have some things be “against the rules,” with simple consequences, like setting her on the floor. This shriek means, “Screw your boundaries. And screw you. And screw all of 26th Street, THEY WILL ALL KNOW MY SUFFERING!” I am so, so sorry, and I promise we will keep this to daytime.

She has so many sweet little sounds, too, and it’s too bad these aren’t what you hear. The little “language” she speaks, mostly burbles and “la la la”s, is cuter than cute. She gives us kisses, waves bye-bye, and continues to be the giggliest baby I’ve encountered. Cookie Monster = HILARIOUS! She loves to dance, and as soon as music starts playing, she bobs her head up and down. She pets the cats now, mostly gently (sometimes she can’t resist Linus’s ears). And she roams the house on all fours, making rounds of the toy boxes and non-toy boxes she THINKS are toy boxes (e.g. laundry baskets) and removing all objects from them.

Here is a link to some very recent photos taken by a friend of ours. He called the set “Belly Poker,” because while he was here taking these photos, Violet kept poking his belly button.!

Thanks again for your patience in these early years with Violet. She’s a wonderful child, and we appreciate the fact that you have to listen to some of her growing pains. You are all living proof that it really does take a village, one with plenty of ear-plugs.


Belly Poker

March 16th, 2009

Jeremy was over last night and took these photos. Violet caught sight of Jeremy’s belly button while he was photographing her, and she cautiously touched it. Jeremy made a noise, and Violet clearly thought the noise happened when she pushed “the button.” She looked around at us, like, Did you guys know about this? And the following moments of cautious belly touching were hilarious.

The little wooden trike was a birthday gift from her Aunt Debi, Cousin Sam, Mike, Nana Anne, and Papa Auggie.

Oh yeah, and she took a couple of steps during the whole affair. She does that sometimes.

Full Moon

March 12th, 2009

The bug passed. The diaper rash remained sad-looking. We got a prescription diaper cream, but we haven’t had to use it yet, since other “methods” are finally clearing up the stuff. On a related side-note, her un-diapered bottom has twice found its way onto our bed in the last two days to soak the sheets in baby pee. After washing and changing the linens and mattress cover the first time, we felt lazy. By “we,” I mean “I.” So we all three slept in Violet’s room.

Yeah, she can climb onto our bed. Want to know where else she can climb? Oh … everywhere. I put her down for a nap a few minutes ago, but I won’t be surprised if she finds her way to the roof while unsupervised up there in her room. The problem comes when she wants to get down. She has learned that getting back down the stairs means you turn around and go backwards. What she HASN’T yet learned is that this cannot be applied in ALL SITUATIONS. Like when you climb onto a picnic table at the playground and then decide you will exit said picnic table NOT via the bench where you came up, but off the END of the table, where there is a three-foot drop. Steve caught her that time, but we don’t have much warning. She’s all playing … playing … BACKING-UP-BACKING-UP-ZOOOOP. She needs one of those beeping things like on big trucks.

Speaking of naps and sleep: The past few days, Vibble has been horribly difficult to put to sleep. Despite being obviously tired, she remains awake for hours in put-the-kid-to-sleep mode. Swaddle, snuggle, sing, swaddle, snuggle, sing, rock, walk, swaddle, fill with milk, snuggle … yeah, until ONE A.M. last night. And just now? Took me over an hour to get her down for her nap. This is unacceptable. I have other things to do. Like sleep MYSELF. I think it must be the full moon. I HOPE it’s just the full moon.

I’ve been trying to get her out amongst kids. We hit the playground every couple of days. Guess what she most wants to do there? CLIMB. Our playground is popular and very nice, and it has separate areas for little ones, littler ones, and littlest ones. But does Violet want to play with the littlest ones like herself? Nope. Does she want to play with the little ones, who toddle and talk? Uh-uh. Nope, no matter how many times I plop her on her hands and knees in Littlest One Town, she turns toward Big Kid Ville and speeds ahead on all fours. Never mind that she gets creamed every five minutes by some third-grade boy with a sneaker full of sand. This is where she can get to the HIGH GROUND. Monday she crawled full-speed without stopping to the big slide. Now, this slide has a platform above my head. Up the ladder she went, sure as could be. I thought, OK, but she won’t try to go down that huge slide or anything. WRONG. She was in a seated position and about to push off before I realized what was happening and almost fell over myself getting from the ladder area to the slide area in time to slow her descent and catch her at the bottom. DUDE! I cannot spot you in two places at once! The moms of the Big Kids were agape in wonder. I think they were a little excited to have a visitor from the land of bucket swings in their rough-and-tumble neighborhood. Rather than cautioning us to go to the safer-for-babies area, they insisted their own kids watch out for Violet. Or maybe they had seen how futile I’d found it to keep her contained with her own kind and took pity on me.

Nope, still no walking or talking for her. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. She talks plenty, I just don’t know what language it’s in. As for walking, she doesn’t even want to be walked by her hands like some babies do. If you take her hands and stand her up, she goes limp until you let her crawl off. She is a very fast and good off-road crawler, though, so if she never walks, I think she will still get by just fine in life.

Today was our second day of Gym n’ Swim. As before, gym was a hit with Violet. Swim? Not so much. She cried almost the whole time. Maybe if she’d had a proper night’s sleep last night she might have been able to cope a bit better. In any case, she was only willing to do one of the activities; during one part of the half-hour session, she and the other 12- to 18-months-old kids in her class get balls or duckies, which we then toss. “Let’s swim over and get it,” we say, and take them in the direction of the tossed toy. The ones who get kicking kick on the way. The most I could hope for from Violet was a brief cessation of terrified attempts to climb up my face.

In case you’re curious, here are the other activities they do with kids this age:

Naturally, we sing vomitous songs and go in circles. The other babies seem to love this. There is a hello song, a goodbye song, a song about swimming at the Y, Ring Around the Rosie, and several songs in which we sing rounds over and over in order to insert the name of each child present. It is amazing how willingly a parent will swallow her urge to gag and participate in such embarrassing, annoying mirth-making in order to make her kid smile. Or, in my case, to make Georgie smile HE IS SO CUTE while Violet alternates scowling at the water and looking at me sadly.

We take turns dunking them under. First, we count to three, so they will learn to anticipate and prepare. On “3,” we blow in their faces quickly, which causes them to “batten down the hatches” in reflex. Then under they go. Most of them come up blinking and arching their little bodies. It’s very cute.

We take them to the side of the pool, put their hands on the side, and hold them while teaching them to “walk” with their hands along the side. There is some vomitous creeping-spider song we sing during this part.

We do “Humpty Dumpty,” which involves repeatedly sitting them on the side and holding them as they “fall” in.

We show them how to blow bubbles and spit out the pool-water (as in, not drink it).

We sing a song about boats while we shoosh them around on their bellies and then on their backs.

That’s all I can think of. Each exercise is meant to teach some basic little water-comfort skill. Today was the last day of winter session (spring session starts up in two weeks). One mother who brings her littlest boy to our class, said her three-year old, older boy “graduated” today, and amazingly, he can swim. She encouraged all of us to stick with the Gym n’ Swim program. In our case, I think we’d better, because if we are ever at a pool with a high-dive, I believe Violet will not stop until she has climbed the ladder to take in the vista from atop it. And when she decides it’s time to get down? Yeah, she had better know how to swim.

And now, some pics from the last few days. Enjoy!

Vomit, with Smiles

March 9th, 2009

Vibble has a little bug. It’s very sad, but that doesn’t stop her from grinning a lot of the time, like right after she pukes, or immediately after having her diaper changed, which involves a lot of pain; her bum is completely raw from two-plus days of caustic baby-squirts. Poor thing. She has done a lot of shrieking, don’t get me wrong. The diaper changes? They are not fun, for us OR for the neighbors. And getting her down for naps and nighttime sleep these last two days has been murder. But overall, she keeps her chin up. Her appetite is pretty poor, so we’ve been tempting her with bananas and yogurt and plenty of Pedialite. She will see the doc today, most likely, unless she has miraculously improved overnight (she’s still asleep). She just amazes me, though, with her resilient nature. Friday we had to have blood drawn for a routine test for lead or some such crap. Oh man. We thought getting her shots was bad? They used the same needle they use for an adult and took just as much blood—two vials. Steve and I had to plop into chairs in the waiting room for five minutes after the ordeal to recompose ourselves. Vibble was over it, though. Despite how painful and terrifying it had obviously been for her to be held down by three people and poked and drained, she was completely fine afterwards. While Stevel and I took deep breaths and wiped our eyes, she laughed and played with the mini-blinds in the waiting room. Yeah, I want to be more like that. Don’t you? TEACH US, SENSEI.

Welcome, Little Prince!

March 7th, 2009

Steve, Violet and I got up this morning and headed down to Irvine to meet the several-hours-old Christopher Hill! Full name is Christopher Jayden Hill, born at 4:04 a.m. on 3/6/09 (kind of a cool birthday). He’s a bit early, but healthy at 5 pounds, 9 oz. And what a cutie—see for yourself!

And Because I Owe You a Video

March 5th, 2009

Here is a really long and tedious one: Violet at the keyboard and at the table


March 5th, 2009

We just got back from Gym n’ Swim at the Y. Violet was in LOVE with the gym half, which takes place in a room full of cushy climby things and other 12- to 18-month olds. She literally did laps around and around the outside of the big mat and then went wild climbing all over the place. We sang corny songs, and she was in heaven. AND THEN they busted out the BUBBLES. I think she may have broken her face smiling over that one.

The swim part she was a little less into, and that just confirms for me that it’s a good thing we’re doing this. The other kids were amazing, kicking and dunking like pros. They’re all very comfortable in the water, and I hope to see Violet get to that point, too. The other moms assured me in no time at all she will be a little pre-swimmer. Glub glub. Now she is out cold. Glub Gl—zzzzzzzzz.

The trip to Florida was relaxing, really terrific. We flew out on a red-eye, and you know how you’re supposed to just sleep? Violet wasn’t interested in sleep as long as there were other people awake. New friends! And she must touch every one of them WHAT IS WITH THE TOUCHING. It’s very awkward for me on the plane when she lunges forward and rubs the head of the bald man in front of us. AWKWARD. Fortunately, most people are quite happy to be touched by Violet, and they offer her their sleeves to caress with smiles. Finally, once everyone around us had turned out their reading lamps, the kid went to sleep.

In Atlanta, we saw her grandparents, her great-grandmother, and her great-aunt Janet, as well as cousin Chels. A short but quality visit. On to Orlando, where we rented a car and drove on up to Altoona, a mini little town at the Southern end of the Ocala National Forest. The senior village where my grandparents live is an idyllic little place. They have a nice garden condo on a lake, and they are truly happy being an active part of the community there. The dining hall food IS a highlight, although I’m not sure it compared to the highlight in the high-chair at the Kinkers’ table each meal. POPULAR CHILD.

We mostly relaxed (per my request, not theirs!) and watched Violet crawl around, but we did take one day and do a little something fun. We drove over to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and toured it and saw a few local sights. I really love seeing the homes of literary greats for some reason, and it’s motivated me to get reading. I’m going to re-read The Yearling, but first I’m catching up on some of her first publications. I just finished Jacob’s Ladder, and I enjoyed the poetic, illustrative quality of the worlds Rawlings creates. I’ll keep you posted as I read more. Meanwhile, I can give a hearty recommendation to Jacob’s Ladder.

The trip home from Orlando was a bit trying. It began with Violet puking up her whole breakfast just ten minutes into our hour-plus drive to the airport. Wardrobe change! This put us a bit behind schedule, but we still managed to return the rental car and make our plane. Commence the TOUCHING. Fortunately, we were seated between two women who seemed to have no problem putting away the work they had brought to do in order to entertain a one-year old instead.

It’s not as easy to fly with her now as it used to be. She wants to MOVE. On one recent flight, she escaped out of the seat and took off up the aisle. By the time I could get my seatbelt unfastened and get up to chase her, she was nearly to the cockpit, with all of the passengers looking around like, ‘Um. Whose kid is this?’ She also sleeps less and for shorter periods of time. If not for her love of destroying magazines, I don’t know whether we would have survived this last five-and-a-half-hour flight. (Thanks, SkyMall and American Way Magazine! Thanks, Seat Pocket!)

We were glad to be home. I say “we,” because Violet went happily into her dad’s arms in the Baggage Claim area, and there she stayed.

One other thing I need to mention is that she decided on this trip to bite or pinch me whenever she was displeased with something. This meant I came home with little brown bruises all up and down my arms. Next time I see someone roaming the streets who looks like this, I will be less quick to think, ‘Ew. IV drug user.’ Instead, I will concede the possibility that there is a tot nearby with chunks of this poor person’s flesh in her teeth and under her fingernails.

Just in case you think Bitey McBitey is satisfied with such abuse, let me tell you she has also taken to ARGUING with me. No, she doesn’t talk yet, doesn’t say Yes or No. But when I tell her NO, she NODS her head vigorously and continues to do whatever behavior is being forbidden. This usually involves an attempt to climb to her death.

Still no walking; when we hold her up to try and walk her around, she goes limp and wants to crawl. She is a crazy efficient crawler. My grandparents and I did discover that if there is a floor she doesn’t like having her knees on, like cold tile, she walks on all fours. So maybe it’s just a matter of motivation. In any case, she is content to crawl and CLIMB. Sitting? Not interested. I mean, why SIT when you can STAND on your high-chair? What good is a skull if you can’t do a little dare-devilry now and then … or AT ALL TIMES. Besides, when Mom freaks out, it’s almost as hilarious as when she says, “Ouch!” or “No!” HILARIOUS!