Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Day In The Life

A typical day at Casa de Dad Solo, compressed to its 3-second essence.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Freedom Has A Scent, Like The Top Of A Newborn Baby's Head

I was a little surprised a few weeks ago when The Wife declared she was going to recruit my parents to babysit NJ. We had plans to attend a rock and roll show next month, put on by a little combo out of Ireland who call themselves U2. Not that the grandparents aren't willing to babysit, mind you, but they agreed to travel from Houston to Seattle to do it. So she called them, spoke on the phone for about 15 minutes in the kitchen, and came out declaring that they'd be here for a week. I thought it was a pretty spectacular feat at the time, but quickly realized that the folks will jump at any chance to see their granddaughter. They positively adore NJ and they haven't seen her since Christmas -- and, of course, she's a completely different person now.

Of course, U2 isn't coming since Bono had to have emergency back surgery. (You know you're getting old when a concert is postponed not because the star got busted for public intoxication or punching a cop, but because he threw out his back.) My parents are still coming, though, and that's great. My mother even offered to come back again whenever the show's rescheduled (that'll be in 2011, apparently). She laughed when I said that by then, NJ will be old enough to go with us -- after all, for months she fell asleep to the sweet lullaby sounds of the band -- but Mom sounded a little nervous so I assured her I was joking.

So: No U2, but babysitters. Of course, we can always pop a U2 DVD in the machine. I'm sure Mom and Dad will love that.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lazy Sunday (And a Blog Post That Reflects It)

It's almost twenty-four hours later, and The Wife is still walking on air because yesterday, in line at Piroshky Piroshky in Pike Place Market, a stranger snapped a photo of NJ. (I know what you're wondering, the real question, and the answer is: I had the beef and cheese.)

NJ was decked out in the new sun hat we'd purchased moments earlier at a place that I'm going to have to sneak back to without The Wife, because they had some awesome rock and roll baby clothes. (Actually, I'm on the fence about returning because I overheard one saleswoman tell the other that she didn't like Eric Clapton, something I cannot abide. That's like saying you don't like sunshine.) Turning 9 months old has marked a growing milestone of sorts for the kid; no growth spurt, per se, but lots of clothes she's worn for a while have ended up in the "too small" pile over the past week. The Wife bought a couple of garments that I figured NJ would have to grow into over a few weeks; she's wearing them today, though, and they fit perfectly. Kid is growing -- pretty soon she won't be able to perform her favorite sleeping trick anymore, the Horizontal Spin:

NJ in 15 years: "Yes, Dad, it was creepy to photograph me while I was asleep."
Random Notes: NJ scooted backwards about two feet two days ago, further proof that babyproofing is in my near future ... Current favorite meal? Chicken and yogurt. Maybe NJ inherited my parents' distaste for lamb ... We think we taught her to "slip me some crimson, Timson" this morning, but her moves need work ... NJ also has been crushing hard on The Two Idiots lately, waving and/or clapping at them whenever they appear, and her affection is almost -- almost -- reciprocated. Willie the Lab has relaxed around her a great deal, and Zeus will even hang around her for a few moments. Still, there's no better way to get them out of a room than for NJ to let out one of her happy shrieks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Curious Case Of The Bloody Baby

What's that, angel pie -- a little scar on your temple? Man, your mom needs to trim those fingernails!

Oh: There's the baby nail clipper, on the end table. I guess your mom trimmed your nails earlier today. Hey, is that another scar, on your cheek? It sure is red.

Jeez, another one? Three red scars on the right side of your face? That is so very, very weird.

Wait a second, that's not a scar. It wiped right off! Was that ... BLOOD?

None of these are scars, they're all blood smears. Holy cow!

Hey, what the -- your entire index finger is covered in blood! Man oh man. OK, don't panic. Where has that finger been ...

OHMYGOD! Your ear is a nasty, bloody mess! It looks like a pasta shell filled with tomato gravy! Did Mr. Blonde visit your crib when I was in the bathroom?

Dad Solo would have leaped into action if only he'd heard the tell-tale 'Stuck in the Middle With You.'
Let's clean that out with a baby wipe. How's that feel? Cool and moist, right? Man, this is a lot of blood.

Ah, there it is -- a pin-point nick inside the ear. It's producing a nice little bead of blood now. How'd that happen?

OK, the bleeding seems to have stopped. No, don't stick your finger back in there. Here, let's go eat some cereal puffs. And don't ever do that again. Whatever it was.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Funny How Time Slips Away

NJ had her 9-month checkup today -- 28 inches long, almost 22 pounds, and no shots this time -- and a little while ago the obvious dawned on me: she'll be a year old in three short months. Before Garrett Gilbert takes a snap as a starter, even. That is right around the friggin' corner.


A belated happy birthday to, as my Uncle Billy Clyde so astutely dubbed him, the King of Texas.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

¡Viva La Diddle Poca!

Back in the fall we took NJ to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Halfway through our meal her face turned a little red and she started crying, and things escalated to the point I had to get her out of there and rock her on the sidewalk in her car seat. Well, that was weird, we thought.

A couple of weeks after that, The Wife was cooking up some chicken verde enchiladas and NJ was next door to the kitchen in the dining room. Suddenly, she freaked out and started crying violently, and couldn't be placated for what seemed like hours. Hmmm, Mexican food again? I thought. She doesn't like it? This is not my child! ("Take a look at her -- of course she's yours," The Wife replied, rolling her eyes.)

So imagine my relief today when we went to lunch at an excellent Mexican place in Madison Park -- on NJ's 9-month birthday, no less -- and she was an utter delight. Smiling, waving and clapping, and generally charming the dickens out of the waitstaff, fellow patrons and anyone else who ventured within a ten-foot radius of her. She even downed a couple of spoonfuls of guacamole. I was so stunned I barely touched my chorizo chimichanga. (That's a lie. I inhaled it as if I hadn't eaten in weeks.)

¡Sí se puede!
Each of the three excellent Mexican places in town we know of are kid-friendly. (Trivia note: We ate at this one the night before NJ was born, and we're sure the spicy food helped convince the kid to make her debut.) So hopefully there will be plenty of tamales, enchiladas, Spanish rice, migas and Tums in our future.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Movement On Movement

NJ turns 9 months old this weekend, and she's marking the occasion with a multi-day Wrigglepalooza leading up to the big day. Until recently she hadn't shown any interest in crawling, something that's both perplexed me ("Crawl to the toy! You'll never make the Supreme Court at age 30 if you don't step it up!") and relieved me ("Let's avoid childproofing and chasing her around as long as possible.").

Her peers are figuratively all over the place -- one 10-month-old we know has been crawling for months now, and a couple of other 10-month-olds still haven't bothered with it. The crawler can really book, too; she's crawled rings around NJ a couple of times, leaving NJ grabbing air as she moves past.

Over the past few days, though, NJ has become a lot more mobile. And a lot more interested in being mobile, which may be a distinction without a difference, but still. Three weeks ago, let's say, when NJ found herself on her belly she'd fuss for a moment, then look around, then decide to lay there with her thumb in her mouth before rolling over onto her back. Two weeks ago, for some reason she decided that rolling over immediately was the way to go. A week ago, there some leg action and, instead of immediate thumb-sucking, she's lift her torso up off the floor for a few seconds with her chubby baby arms. And the last couple of days, there's been an obvious escalation in the progression. Now the legs are churning, she lifts herself higher, and when she's laying flat she turns herself around using her arms. She does 360s on her tummy, basically, and occasionally inches forward a little bit before sliding back to her original position. It's fun to watch.

Pretty soon, that knee is going to dig into the carpet and she will pull herself forward until the other knee sticks. Then, Katie had better bar that door we're always hearing about. Or, maybe tomorrow she'll just crawl across the basement floor and stand up at the washing machine, out of the blue. Her most recent milestone is clapping, which she did for the first time yesterday. And it came completely out of nowhere. We clap with her a lot, and she had held our hands when we clapped, but she never showed an interest. Then, yesterday morning The Wife came to drag my butt out of bed and she sat NJ down next to me. NJ sat up and slowly, surely, and very happily clapped her hands together several times. Ever since, we've clapped our hands red trying to get her to do it some more (because it's beyond adorable to watch), but she does it on her own time, when she feels like it. Which is as it should be. (I hate it when the "CLAP!" message comes up on the baseball park scoreboard.) This evening when The Wife walked into the house, NJ smiled big and clapped and, well, it was so sweet and touching it should be an insurance commercial.

Now, even when I sit her at her play tunnel (photo above), she's interested in the toys that are far away from her, not the ones within arm's reach. And sleeping? I have no idea what this kid is doing when she sleeps. We put her smack in the middle of her crib, and for a long time we'd find her in the morning or after a nap in almost exactly the same position. For the past couple of weeks, though, when we go in for her we see a lot of this sideways stuff:

Seriously, who's that cheery when they wake up? Don't worry, kid, life will beat that happiness and childlike wonder out of you eventually.
And yesterday, I went to get her after an afternoon nap and came upon this:

I thought I saw a quarter over here.
Now, she obviously rolled over onto her stomach, and then rolled over again up against the railing there. But how did she get from the middle of the mattress to the corner? If it was a trick -- sorry, NJ, an illusion -- surely I would have heard The Final Countdown.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Reluctant Carnivore

Yesterday marked NJ's first real foray into the order of Carnivora. In the only bit of work she performed on her first Mother's Day, The Wife made a lamb-and-lentils recipe, and the resulting dish was actually quite tasty. NJ will need some more convincing, though.

Great Odin's raven!
You know, mixing this vile concoction with the plain yogurt, which I love, doesn't make it any better.
Admit it: You're flat-0ut torturing me so Dad Solo will have another excuse to post one of those dumb photo sequences of me making funny faces on the Internet. That's just lazy blogging right there. I'm so disappointed in you. And on Mother's Day even!
Eventually we moved on to plain yogurt, but there's lamb and lentils in the fridge and I'll be making another go of it later today.

UPDATE: NJ ate the lamb and lentils for lunch today, but only when it was slathered in yogurt. In fact, only yogurt could be visible on the spoon before she'd take it. Then there'd be a head shake and a stream of what sounded like Polish swearing. But: She ate it. So there, kid! So there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

NJ's Ever-Evolving Social Skills: A Case Study

How She Gets What She Wants
Something I learned this week: If you go into your favorite sports replica clothing store wearing a cute baby who's happy and joyfully smiling at everyone she comes into contact with, the charmed storekeepers are likely to give her a free Seattle Angels t-shirt that she'll be big enough to wear in about three years.

How She Ignores What She Doesn't Want
NJ quite obviously and wantonly humored her father yesterday, something I'm sure I'll see again and again for the rest of my days. We were sitting on the couch playing with one of her ring toss games, and I started talking about something I'd just seen on the Internet. I'm doing my best to ix-nay the baby talk, lest she grow up thinking "boo-pa-doo-ba-doo" is an actual greeting to be used in all of society. So after I talked about what I was talking about I poked her in the tummy lightly and said "Know what I mean, kid?" She'd been watching the dog, who was by the end of the sofa, and when I poked her she turned toward me and widened her eyes a bit -- as if she'd been busted in class for not paying attention. Then she nodded her head, uttered a sound that was about ninety percent of "Uh-huh" and flashed the fakest, most last-minute, half-hearted, half-smile I've ever seen. I was actually a little taken aback at how cavalierly she'd treated me as she went back to watching the dog. Then, to add insult to injury, she darted her eyes back toward me -- to see if I was still looking at her -- and, upon seeing that I was, she quickly turned away again and began playing with toys and uttering noises that sounded suspiciously like the "duh-ta-da-ta-da" humming people do in movies when they're being conspicuously inconspicuous. It was a little soul-crushing, but a few minutes later she'd forgotten that I'd bored her silly with info on that night's starting pitchers. Hooray for short baby attention spans. I'm dreading the day she learns how to roll her eyes dismissively, though.

Otherwise, it's been a pretty uneventful week here at Dad Solo HQ. We're gearing up for The Wife's first Mother's Day as an honoree, something I need to think about this afternoon. I told The Wife my original plans a couple of evenings ago, and her response was about as enthusiastic as NJ's reaction to Felix Hernandez's ERA.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Slide, NJ, Slide!

Remember Mike 'King' Kelly, the great baseball player in the late 19th century with the Chicago White Stockings and the Boston Beaneaters who popularized the hook slide? And the poem 'Slide, Kelly, Slide' that made him a household name?

Yeah, NJ doesn't either.

This man enjoyed sliding.

This girl doesn't.