Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nip Imp

NJ is scarfing down solid foods like nobody's business -- tonight: quinoa with vegetables, chicken and a little kalbi beef -- and The Wife is slowly phasing out the breastfeeding. One session in the morning, and one right before bedtime -- as much for comfort and routine as for nourishment.

She may pick up the pace on that phasing out, though, because NJ's newest big laugh is to not even bother to feed so much as just to bite. Those two little front bottom teeth, still nubbins but sprouting a tiny bit more every day, apparently are razor-sharp. NJ assumes the position, and mere seconds later The Wife is howling and pulling back while the kid giggles away. What used to take quite a while now ends abruptly, with a couple of calls of "Ow! Hey, no!", muttered recriminations, and baby laughter.

I sympathize with The Wife, but I do admire the kid's sense of humor. It's got an edge to it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ballard Of A Sunday Afternoon

The kid's big achievements of the week have been lifting up so she's standing flat on her feet and hands (is standing next?) and deftly honing her mood swings. The former is self-explanatory, right? So: The latter.

NJ has been a giggling, smiling, delightful delight for the past several days. Except when she's been a screaming, crying feral creature. Ever since we returned from Oregon she's done a lot of wailing to get attention. Lately, I haven't been clued in to the fact that her nap is over by the sweet, lilting sounds of her jibber-jabber over the monitor, as per usual; it's been zero-to-sixty crying. Same when we put her down -- crying, not talking. And as often as not, the middle of her nap has been punctuated by a short wailing burst. Nothing is really wrong, of course, but she's really perfecting her crying-as-attention-getting skills.

Otherwise, she's been a dream. Her latest move is to look at a toy, hold it up to me or The Wife, and flash a big, toothy, "I love this thing!" grin. ("Toothy" meaning "two tooth nubbins.") It's pretty cute. Also pretty cute: stream-of-consciousness jabbering that would make James Joyce proud. No longer does it come simply in spurts -- now she talks in sentences, only with words that make no sense (to me, at least). "Baden," "daden," "doy" and "ooooyyeeee," which is something of a wistful sigh, are her favorites. In her mind, they are probably all swear words directed at me.

Today was a big day for NJ. We went to a toy store to buy some new toys, toys that she can't have for another week when we fly to New England. Hopefully, brand new things to play with on the airplane will keep her more happily occupied than the tired old things she's currently got strewn all over the house. It'll buy me some time before I have to invoke the It's My Turn rule.

NJ with an anonymous toy store patron.
After that we hit Ballard for the street market, where NJ saw another girl in a stroller who has co-opted her "antique telephone" method of thumb-sucking (thumb in mouth, other hand clutching ear). We got lunch at the extremely kid-friendly Old Town Alehouse (the first place we took her to, I believe, back in the fall). Her wailing was on full display as she scarfed down a lunch of roast beef, fries and bread dipped in minestrone:

Nom nom nom. Waaahh! Nom nom nom. Waaahh! Nom nom nom ...

Finally, at the end of the meal, NJ gave it her hearty seal of approval.

I'll smile for the camera, but I won't let you see my tooth nubbins.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shiner Tot

NJ is still working out the kinks in this whole mobility thing. I was snoozing on the sofa after our triumphant return from Oregon a couple of days ago when I heard an explosion of crying from the little diddle's room. She was tooling around on the floor and her knee slipped; before The Wife could get to her, NJ's adorable face smacked into the base of her shelves. She got over it fairly quickly, but a couple of hours later the beginnings of a shiner materialized. Now, she's got a legitimate, if faint, black eye:

I want Tyson! Bring me Tyson!
Hopefully it'll fade away soon, because I don't want to tote her around and have everyone thinking I've got a Mel Gibson temper or something. You never know when you'll be in the same supermarket aisle as a DSHS official.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sophie The Giraffe: 2009-2010

May she rest in peace.
Sophie the Giraffe was lost Tuesday, July 13, 2010, somewhere on The Circuit, the daily walk her owner, NJ, and her owner's father take when the weather is nice. Sophie proved an invaluable friend to NJ, who regularly gnawed on her head and feet and thrilled to her squeak. Sophie could usually be found on the dining room table, in NJ's diaper bag, in NJ's stroller or on the coffee table. The rubber giraffe had been lost numerous times before, most recently on Friday in downtown Portland, Oregon, but up until Tuesday had always been recovered and cleaned.

When asked about the loss of Sophie, NJ said: "Brab. Baden baden daden, oooyeeee urh. Dorg."

Sophie the Giraffe is survived by a freezable teething butterfly, a round rattle, a small teddy bear wearing a Texas Longhorns shirt, and a small, pink, stuffed dog named Puppy. She will be replaced immediately by another, identical Sophie the Giraffe.

Oh, The Places She Went

Oregon, in particular. Portland, Black Butte Ranch, then Portland again. it was the first time NJ had ventured farther away from home than SeaTac and Bellevue. And it was the first excursion-with-a-baby for me and The Wife. All in all it was a good trip -- we saw beautiful scenery, a fun and beautiful wedding, scoped out a couple of potential future vacation spots, and spent some time in one of our favorite cities. Oh, but it wasn't all balloons and sea shells, though. Let's recap, shall we?

We put the good car seat and the lightweight stroller in the SUV, along with a billion other items, and set off Friday morning, right at NJ's naptime. It was all pretty uneventful. Extremely uneventful, in fact. There's not a lot a couple of foodie/wine lover urbanites can do in a city with a ten-month-old. The main reason we stopped off in Portland was to break up the six-plus-hour drive from Seattle to Black Butte, but we naively thought we might have a little old-school (read: pre-baby) fun in Portland as well. But: no. After NJ's afternoon nap (and mine) at the hotel, we ate room service and watched an in-room movie (the exceptional comic abilities of Carell and Fey overcome a pedestrian plot).

All this for a three-day weekend, and not a single baby wipe in any of those bags.
Saturday morning we headed for beautiful Central Oregon, driving through the Detroit Lake area and almost to Bend until we hit Black Butte Ranch (warning: automatic audio track when you click the website). We arrived in time for lunch, but NJ didn't sleep much on the drive and needed her afternoon nap in a big way. The ranch is a beautiful place, but its fatal flaw was the lack of air conditioning in our room (since we were only staying one night, I booked cheap). No windows, only a sliding door to the small porch -- which was surrounded by a six-foot wooden fence, perfect for keeping cool breezes out of the room. We pointed the fan at NJ's crib, and her nap lasted until 3.30 p.m., when we rushed to get ready for the 4 p.m. wedding. Once there there ceremony was about, oh, forty seconds old when NJ decided to yammer loudly about whatever was on her mind (the couple exchanged vows in a spot by a lake with the view in the first photo above), so The Wife spirited her away to the back of the field where they played -- joined by our friends and their kids, one who was ring-bearer and the other flower girl -- while our buddies Jill and Ray got hitched. After wowing everyone at the reception with her off-the-charts cuteness, NJ was hauled off to the sweat box-room by The Wife and put down. Dad Solo remained for a while longer, at one point breaking out his world-famous Mick Jagger funky-chicken dance moves when the band played "Honky Tonk Women."

Sunday's drive back to Portland marked the first time NJ rejected her bottle of formula, a situation that lasted until we got home last night. No obvious explanation -- she was hungry, but wouldn't take the bottle. In Portland again, we toured a street festival and the riverfront -- NJ got a cute little tie-dyed dress out of it -- before returning to the hotel. At lunch The Wife had given her some solid food, but without the formula supplement it wasn't enough and by dinnertime the kid was famished. Dad Solo's decision to eat in the excellent restaurant attached to the hotel proved to be a controversial one: NJ fussed and squawked to the point that The Wife thinks one couple decided to leave rather than listen to her. This was when I defiantly steeled myself, sipped my cocktail, and tucked in to my Kobe brisket. For the first 44 years of my life I weathered countless crying babies on trains, subways and airplanes and in restaurants and other public venues, never once complaining to a parent, sighing dramatically or otherwise expressing my feelings. Now, world, It's My Turn. I will do my best to limit baby-related noise and activity, and you will keep your big yap shut if it doesn't always work out. Oh, and the brisket was ridiculously excellent. NJ devoured four grilled chicken strips and a handful of french fries, which had been cut up into little pieces and piled in front of her. We ordered desert to go. I looked at the mess under NJ's high chair and promptly overtipped. The last night of our vacation? I read, The Wife watched The Food Channel, and NJ fussed for a good, long time before finally drifting off.

NJ did some reading at the hotel, too.
We got home yesterday afternoon. NJ took a two-hour nap on the drive (missing out on a lot of Mariners trade talk on the radio). She's back on the bottle, and a slight fever she had in Portland is gone, too. So all's well and her first vacation is in the books. We've learned valuable lessons about packing and planning around naps, hopefully, because our next trip is in a couple of weeks and we're flying across the country for a week. And the It's My Turn rule will be in effect then, too. I hope I don't have to invoke it. But listen up, New England: I will if I have to.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Twist And Crawling From The Wreckage*

*With apologies to the English Beat and Dave Edmunds

NJ has been inching up to this moment for a few days now, and today she made it official: She is a Crawler.

This is so easy I can do it with my eyes shut!
She started off the week of July 4th by honing her sideways skittering skills, moving all over the basement in a sitting position. By Monday she was taking one step forward while in the crawling position, then falling on her belly. Tuesday she did some more of that, but when she belly-flopped she'd assume the position and take another step. This morning, The Wife assured me that "She's crawling now, definitely." And sure enough, she's been zipping all over my basement office today. Turns out there's lots of stuff in here to worry about! Like this file cabinet:

M-Z, huh? So I'm in this one, right?
Or the computer, on the floor underneath the dangerous wood-and-cast-iron desk:

Brace yourself for the Blue Screen of Death, Daddy!
And, of course, there's my chair:

My tiny little fingers would fit just perfectly under this wheel. Or even inside the wheel's grooves. Oh, but wouldn't that be a bloody, screaming mess, Daddy? Better not take your eyes off me EVER!
There's still a bit of quivering unsteadiness when she crawls, but it's getting better and her skills have improved markedly just since this morning. Soon she'll be chasing down the dogs and shimmying up table legs. I'm going to have to step up my game.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mouthy Little Kid

A partial list of things that have found their way into NJ's piehole lately:
  • Black olives (off Dad Solo's slice at Zeek's for lunch yesterday -- yum)
  • Dog hair (straight off Willie the Lab's back -- yech)
  • Tooth No. 2
  • Blades of grass (Dad Solo likes to pluck a blade and tickle NJ's nose and ears with it; she puts a stop to that by grabbing it away and trying to eat it)
  • Small flowers (can't play outdoors without trying to eat a little vegetation)
  • Small leaves (they get tracked into the basement on our shoes)
  • Sippy cups (NJ's very adept with these, but doesn't get it right 100 percent of the time)
  • Dad Solo's electric toothbrush (Good times. Good times.)
Gaping maw? I'll show you a gaping maw!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner! She Can Manage It Just Fine On Her Own, Thank You Very Much

Daddy, if you hate 'Dirty Dancing' but still use its catch phrase when it fits your purposes, isn't that kind of being a hypocrite? Just sayin'.
NJ is zipping around all over the place these days, but not quite crawling forward yet. She crawls backward and scoots sideways while sitting down, and either mode of transportation can propel her across the vast expanses of the basement floor in seconds.

For a couple of weeks she's been sitting down and leaning waaaaaay forward until she's almost laying down on her stomach; since Sunday she's kept going with that until she flops outright onto her belly. A couple of days ago she elicited some ooooohs and aaaaaahs by returning to an upright sitting position after being sprawled on her belly, something that's become a favorite trick of hers.

NJ is comfortable on her hands and knees, too, and several times in the last couple of days she's moved forward in that position -- for one step.

More steps to come.