Thursday, October 4, 2018

2 Years

From one to two in as many bites

"Ahp-a-tah!" (octopus)
"No actually, that's a dismembered, former gecko stuck to your pillow. Octopuses are found in water.
Nope, that's your drinking cup you're filling with noodles.
Oh, right. Like an octopus in water."

I'll tell you now that it's a struggle not to simply list her bodacious vocabulary instead of the fraught summary of the last six months I'm about to leave here.
And so, a compromise:

Favorite story: The ABCs
Favorite song: Happy Birthday,
(currently we're singing it to Uncle Bobby every day)
Worst habit: Running into the street
Celebrity idol: Elmo
Guilty pleasure: Attempting to drive without a license
Favorite lipstick color: Whatever's edible
Power play: Opening the fridge
Richest resource: Size 8 shoes
Scarcest resource: Juice boxes

Two years ago after an appropriate amount of thrashing and pushing, Noble appeared 100% alive. Big success. These days I look for ways to quantify her enormous changes, so I laid out all her baby blankets and meditated on the joy I can access just by looking at all the work by people who welcomed her to the world. At two, she is learning fast. Words have never proven themselves to be more powerful than when I ask her for a compound favor and get it delivered to the letter. She is fearless around cars, continues to stand in her high chair even after sustaining a skull-fracturing fall, friendly, and even more fancy free than she was at one, which is saying something.

This girl is often one shoe-ed, crusty- nosed, eager, helpful, and an absolute asset to her community. Much like Arya Stark, she holds fast to her holy list whenever she finds a quiet moment: "Mommy, Daddy, Gigi, Paw Paw, Grandma, Grandpa, Debbie, Wolfie, Sage, Wiley, Rush, Audrey, Amber, Bobby." (Hil - we're working on it.) Debbie, her doll, rarely gets top billing but it should be noted that she spent a little time with our friend Debbie and very organically chose the name for her baby. What she intends to do with this list remains to be seen.

Upon passing me in the hall this week she said, "Coo mee" (excuse me) and has continued to showcase the many uses for "thank you" and "don't bite". She peed on a pack of toilet paper the other day, and learned how to spit water into the mirror with just the right trajectory to feel a splash back. Tiny discoveries pop up every. damn. day, and we do our best to give her the play space to explore without hovering. It's amazing to watch her cruise around the farmers market completely on her own, walking well ahead of us and making connections like the mayor of her knee high society.  She likes painting the sink and tub in water color, using a green bingo dabber as a toothbrush and squirms bloody murder when I try to use an appropriate apparatus to clean her teeth,
trim her nails or suggest that we
ever stop painting.

Four months ago, she was awarded a little cousin, just as her on-again-off-again BFF Wiley got a little brother. Having two babies to choose from is just how she likes it. I am so tempted to arrange for her to sit on the couch and hold one of them, but it might turn into a "more juice" situation so I'm holding off. I feel especially lucky that she hasn't asked me for a baby of her own, and I'm banking on these two being small and all-engrossing to her for a long time.

Please join us in wishing her many more extra-diaper-on-the-outside occasions, and lots more birthdays full of friends and conveniently loaned bouncy houses. And Louie Anderson look-alike contests.


Friday, February 23, 2018

18 Months

When Noble turned one, sitting down to write turned into a war of attrition. Commandeering a laptop is the least aggressive tactic in her arsenal of course, her needs are met simply by squalling for them in a tone I can't seem to resist, escape or ignore. For all the plans I made to teach her patience via delayed gratification, I continue to choose the convenience of giving in to her whining. Rigorous conditioning, strictly executed.

Noble's technology has been advancing swiftly - when's she's not scooping and spearing with cracking dexterity at mealtime she's climbing disturbing heights and pointing to eyes, ears, and noses whenever prompted. Exclaiming things "too hot" and "ball," finger painting, scribbling with and occasionally resisting chewing crayons are only recent developments, her gait has been gaining grace and agility since her birthday, and so has her sense of direction. Notable charms include the intimacy she shares with her toys, the way she naps against her dad's chest, the miraculous transition she's made to sleeping in her queen sized bed and the delight at her forward-facing passenger experience. She's 28 lbs. of arm-numbing need, with little patience and an enduring self-assured right to breastmilk.

At 17 months we decided it was time for Noble's parents to do a little less parenting, and wrote a check in exchange for scheduled naps, crafts, socializing and two snacks a day, five days a week from 8 to 3:30. Now, we go to the gym every day, take in a matinee when the mood strikes and take outrageous naps when time permits. I've cleaned bathrooms, done mounds of laundry, prepped for meals, meditated,  r e a d     a     b o o k and spent whole hours trying on clothes. I've turned off the engine only to exit the car seconds later hands free, and have no idea where my diaper clutch is. Clearing the clutter of the last year has renewed my sense of identity and revitalized my role as a parent. The week before she started day care she picked up a mean case of Hand Foot and Mouth, which checked my decision to surrender her to all those runny noses without any more prophylactic than her morning vitamin. Fevers and quarantines were managed, and when the blisters began to clear and her glow returned, we were reminded why we'd paid the enrollment fees; Noble belongs with her people.

Met with her infectious smile, her tiny, lovable comrades gather around to welcome her every morning, but a life among her peers has left its mark. In two weeks, she's been bitten four times, but we're confident she's working on diffusing tensions over Lego disputes without violence.

It's been six months, here's what you missed:


It's pigtail country around here now, and the terrain is adorable.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

12 Months: Noble On Parade

As many wise women foretold, Noble started walking on her birthday. 20 pounds. 30 inches tall. Having trained for weeks with a couple steps to her credit, nothing could have prepared me for such a confident wobble. Tears at the ready, I was so thrilled and swollen with pride I had a hard time reacting in a way that wouldn't frighten her. A walking baby is visible proof that the project I've been working on for the last year does in fact have legs. Chubby, silken legs.

If you don't see the video above,  please follow this link for your four free minutes of a baby becoming a girl. We've watched it. Highly recommended.

To celebrate, we lunched at the restaurant where my water broke last year, but made a much more obvious mess under the table with whimsically dropped grains of rice. We took her to Little Land, where she hugged, clawed and socialized with her peers until nap time. Endorphins pumping, I gave her the keys and turned the A/C fan to full blast. "Take us home, you beast."

Back at home I baked a batch of dense, sunken, vaguely-flavored v/gf cupcakes and invited her tiny bestie Wiley, aged two and a half, to guide her through the birthday proceedings. I served animal crackers and berries so he would have something to feed her, (a favorite party trick) and filled the pool to maximum capacity. The dress code was after-five/garden party. Noble chose a pink tankini and navy blue bow for her hair, which stayed put for a record 2 hours. Bill wore disco shorts, Wiley none.

Turning one was a success. The toughness of her first cupcake was just toothsome enough for her tender teeth, and kept her busy for a nice long while. I put her back in the pool when she'd spread her frosting as far as it would go and scrubbed her clean with a bit of ball moss. I often stop and wonder what her life would be like if we'd stayed in the Northwest, picking fresh berries, hiking and visiting all the parks and islands and shores year round. To compensate I've been encouraging unlimited leaf sucking and stick tasting until the mosquitoes start to swarm. We spent a few days in August visiting Seattle, so she could meet her great uncle, big trees, mountain vistas and her newest passion: the beach.

I tried to warn her that water in the Puget Sound is a cold lover. Teasing you close as it laps and rushes, then slapping you fresh in the face with its icy smother. As she charged the surf again and again her gasping choked back sobs, and my feet were instantly numbed in pursuit. Back on land, she learned that sand is a warm friend full of secrets, and her appetite brought home extras every time we visited the shore. At home after I finished shaking it out of our luggage, I wondered if I should have bottled some. But saving things like that seems like a gateway to storing up fingernail clippings, and those don't really age with dignity.

Nine months of incubating and a year of feeding, changing, carrying, soothing, treasuring and soldiering on. I have regained almost all of my freedoms, -  not sneezing, coughing, running or jumping, - and have started to expand my imagination beyond raising a person. When we're alone together I try to leave her to her studies and experiments, and watch as she seeks and finds. Though her thirst for dirt is unquenchable, I'm comfortable letting her toddle out into the grass. The yard, serving ambrosia by the tiny fistful, is likely to be my best tool for weaning her from the breast, but we're taking our time. I thought I'd be more aggressive about weaning when her teeth grew in, but she's been surprisingly well-mannered. As long as I can provide a quiet, held space for her to relax and forget about her growing pains and spastic body and find a little peace for myself, I'll suffer the occasional love bite. And when she bites, how the love does flow.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

11 Months: Dear Noble,

Hi Doll. The approach of your first birthday has me wondering about what to make you to commemorate the occasion. A smash cake is planned, but if I really wanted to treat you special I'd dump out the vacuum cleaner on your tray. You like fizzies and savories, kombucha, curry, refried beans, berries, and are still honoring the same bowl of oatmeal every morning. You are the first to tell me if an avocado has been a day too long on the shelf, and never seem to tire of being in your high chair, eating whatever you're offered, charmed and amazed by the vessel it arrives in. You're favorite food in taste, texture and accessibility remains toilet paper right off the roll.

While we watch you stand hands-free for extended periods, the probability that you might take a step at any moment keeps us bug-eyed and enthralled. Other things that have caught our eye:

Turning on/off light switches
Pushing whatever you can move around the house
Pulling wet clothes out of the dryer
Unplugging cords from the wall :(
Wedging your delicious, thick thigh in the security gate
Threatening to pause Daddy's work day with the push of a button
Holding things in your mouth while you travel down the hall
Rifling through the trash
Licking the trash can
Eating dirt, mulch, rocks and clumps of compost
Walking in your walker like a person who walks

At a playscape you so delighted a little boy that he squealed at the sight of you, and you dissolved into tears. Yesterday you were sitting on your dad's lap while he was on a video call and startled so hard you lost it after he let out a loud laugh. I picked you up and you somehow maneuvered us both out of the room. When I'm holding you and absently stroking your back and you want to transform it into a nursing session, you move my hands to my shirt and pant expectantly.

Nursing is still a big part of our days and while I don't have a hard deadline to wean you by, I wonder where you'll get your teething comfort after my supply has left the building. At the end of the day after we've survived the dreaded pajama game, I shake up a bottle of soy formula and we nestle together on the couch. I am considering this our golden hour despite the raging sun at 6:30, because I can feel our glow. I recline in the corner of the couch with your cheek tucked next to mine, your body trapping my left arm, and while you deftly wield your bottle I wait, sizzling with satisfaction, sedated, wearing your weight like an x-ray apron. In the past I've struggled to call upon my happy place, to picture a sanctuary and hover there to reach a calm state. I don't know if I've ever been more vulnerable, wholly invested as I am and spacing out on the scent of your hair, but I've never felt this insulated or content. Thanks to this crushing love for you and your stillness I can fawn over tiny discoveries, like the downy blonde hair on your knees that grew overnight. Keep it up, Babe.

You're the best,