Thursday, December 31, 2009

I had such a crappy night's sleep last night. A lot on my mind, I guess. But I woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland!



Happy New Year, everyone. I can't help but think this snowfall and the good movie yesterday are good omens.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I just saw It's Complicated and was surprised by how good it was. Sure, the script faltered a bit sometimes, especially in the beginning of the movie, but overall, it was funny and sad and poignant. I thought everyone did a great job - Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm not sure how to sum up 2009. It was a strange year in some ways. We spent the first half of the year crammed into a one-bedroom apartment as we waited for a two-bedroom. We finally got one, and it was beautiful. The living room is big, though we have no terrace. Frankly, I was relieved not to have one. It seems like a big hazard with a baby.

A couple of good books I read this year were Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and The Great Man by Kate Christensen.

Did anyone come up with an interesting New Year's resolution?

Friday, December 25, 2009

The ghost of Christmas...snafu.

It feels so ILLICIT to blog on Christmas! But here I am...

As it turns out, we never did catch a train to Boston. Ended up in a car. Which we might do from now on, anyway. The train doesn't seem to be working out.

Tempers were running high in Penn Station, as train after train was delayed, canceled or "combined." Combining two sold-out, late trains is a recipe for disaster. One woman crumpled to the floor in front of the ticket counter, screaming, "I KNOW I HAVE A TICKET! I JUST CAN'T FIND IT! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!" Four cops surrounded her, each with a gun, but they seemed more amused than anything. Poor woman.

It does seem like one of "those" Christmases. My present for my sister failed to arrive on time. E woke up in the middle of the night, wanting soy milk, and got upset when D accidentally gave him whole milk instead. He decided to stay up till 4 (am) as punishment. I am allergic, as I often get in Massachusetts (maybe because there are more trees than there are in NYC?) and bloated from overeating last night.

Anybody want to take a nap with me until January 2?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Today was one of those almost humorously bad days. I guess sometimes you have to laugh. This morning, I lifted E out of his crib and bent my knees to lay him down on his diaper-changing pad, all the while supporting his 27-lb weight; you could almost hear my back snap. I've done this move about a million times, but I must have done it too fast today. For a moment, I lay on the floor, unable to move. Then I dragged myself into the tub.

Next up: the train to Boston was due to leave at 12:03. I got to Penn Station, only to find that all the trains were delayed. Someone near me said that her mother called Amtrak and was told our train would not get to Penn Station until 2:15 (at the earliest). The board just said "Delayed" across the board with no estimated arrival times. I figured the girl had no reason to lie, and she left the station. I did too. Bad judgment call...the train ended up arriving around 12:47 (as we found out later). We missed it.

So now we are taking a 7 pm train, which will not arrive in Boston till 10:49. Hopefully E will hold up well on this unusually late night (for him).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As I type this, E is chatting into my iPod. He seems to believe it's a phone.

Recently, I discovered Kate Christensen. Of course, I'd seen The Great Man in stores many times, but I was put off by the fake New York Times article at the beginning of the story. Once the actual narrative starts, though, it's great. I'm glad I finally gave it a chance. The main characters are all at least 74, and portrayed very differently than the elderly usually are.

After I finished The Great Man, I started reading Trouble by the same author. And after that, I hope to read In the Drink (her first novel).

Tomorrow I hop on a train to go to Massachusetts for Christmas...anyone else traveling for the holidays? I hope you have a good one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

So I've made a dent in my Christmas shopping. Now I just have to get gifts for my sister's three boys, aged 17, 13 and 11. I haven't a clue what to get them. They are all into sports, and the oldest one wants a car. Unfortunately, that is beyond my means.

I revived my Netflix membership, which I had canceled after I had E. I saw Firelight, which a friend recommended and I enjoyed. It was sort of a mix between Jane Eyre and The Piano (without the gruesome elements of the latter). I also saw An Education in the movie theater. It was about a 16-year-old (who turns 17 in the course of the movie) and gets mixed up with an older man (who looks to be all of 38). I liked it right up till the ending. Instead of a happy one, it was of the punch-in-the-gut variety. The screenplay was written by Nick Hornby and it was intelligent and nuanced...but oh, that ending.

May I mention that I hate New Year's? It's got to be my least favorite holiday of the year. There's just something artificial, not to mention sad, about marking the passing of another year.

I do like Christmas, though. Aside from the shopping. Particularly Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Maybe there will be coffee cake...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I can't believe it's December already. As a high school friend said on Facebook, the dreaded "holimonth" is now upon us. And I have the stress of selecting 8500 presents for my immediate family. Did I mention that I hate shopping? And I'm not good at it? I'm hoping to do it all online. My sister and I already agreed not to exchange, unless we see something that is really suited to the other. But that is just a drop in the bucket. I would love to eliminate presents altogether...but I fear that is Communist.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hi! I woke up early for no reason. So you get a book post from me.

Over Thanksgiving break, I read:

Cleaving: A Memoir of Marriage, Meat and Obsession by Julie Powell. Considerably darker than its predecessor, Julie & Julia. The focus has moved off of Julia Child and onto her (real-life) affair. Unbelievably, she thanks both lover and husband in the acknowledgments.

Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti. Unapologetic yet intelligent teenage fluff. If you like YA fiction, this will hit the spot.

And those were all the books I brought with me...so I started reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which was at my mother's house. I'd been put off by both its length (444 pages) and seemingly hackneyed subject (race relations in 1960s Mississippi). But it's a lot better than I thought it would be. I only have 100 pages left.

Friday, November 27, 2009

So how was your Thanksgiving? A few interesting things happened on mine.

First, my brother became obsessed with his deep fryer. He retreated to the basement and started frying everything he could find. His son would bring up more and more fried goodies. I couldn't bring myself to eat them. But they were fascinating to watch. He deep-fried Twinkies, a Snickers bar, a piece of pepperoni pizza (no one wanted to go near that one), and an ice cream sandwich. Apparently if something's cold, you only fry it for 35 seconds. E.g., fried ice cream.

A sad thing: E was playing on the stairs at my brother's place, and although my mom and sister were watching him, he took a tumble. He got a little bump and I was really sad. Thankfully, it's all gone today.

An odd thing: as Mom was pulling out of my brother's driveway, I suddenly became aware of screaming faces behind us, in a parked car. They were convinced my mother hit their car. But nobody in our car felt any impact. Mom was all meek and apologetic. But they weren't hearing it, and even got a flashlight to see if there was any damage. Finally, they let us go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I feel like once you have a kid, you're terminally uncool.

A friend of mine on Facebook wrote that Lady Gaga and Dali are similar - "disgusting minds but amazingly talented." Now, this friend is the same age. I met him in college. But he is gay and single and hip. I change diapers.

I thought, Who is Lady Gaga? I (gulp) looked her up on Wikipedia. Wikipedia helpfully told me about her most popular songs. I went to iTunes and bought one of them. Then I mentioned on Facebook that I liked it, and it came out that I had never heard it before today.

Immediately my sister wrote: "Seriously? You just heard it for the first time?" Then my cousin/godmother, who is in her fifties, wrote: "Bearette, are you living underground in the Big Apple? Even your old godmother hears Lady Gaga all the time."

Yup. Terminally uncool.

I think I'll put on some Ben-Gay and go to sleep.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hello, it's me...

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged.

Anyway, November and December will be months filled with travel for me. Going to my mother's house for Thanksgiving (actually, I'll be staying at my mother's, going to my brother's on the actual day). Probably going to the family Christmas party, an annual extravaganza where all my first cousins and their children are gathered under one (rented) roof. And then Christmas itself. I haven't started my shopping. Have you?

Am currently reading The Housekeeper and the Professor. I'll be done with it soon since it's a short, crisp 180 pages. Before that, I read The Lacuna. Now, I usually like Barbara Kingsolver, but this latest offering was seriously bloated at 507 pages. It needed an editor's judicious hand. I'd like her to go back to simple, character-centered fiction instead of Novels with a Message. The message of this one? Communism is great, the press is evil. Yawn.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So this blog is going to be booky for a bit. I finished Invisible by Paul Auster. As usual, it was elegantly written and non-linear. I first started reading him because someone recommended him to me, and now I recommend him to others. So if you haven't read him, you might want to check him out. The Music of Chance is a good one to start with. The protagonist loses a high-stakes poker game and finds himself building a stone wall in the middle of nowhere...

After that, I read Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters. This was a children's book with echoes of Harriet the Spy. Not quite as good, of course, but still enjoyable.

And now I am reading Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs. It's part of the Friday Night Knitting Club series. The literary equivalent of a warm blanket.

What are you reading? And do you like it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I am bookless

So...I just finished reading Nothing Like You, a trashy yet intelligent YA novel that I greatly enjoyed. Before that, I read Perfume, a bizarre but interesting fable about scent. I started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I don't know if I like it in a 600-page way. Maybe I should hang in a little longer. Or not.

Outside my window, the rain falls...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hello, poor neglected blog. What to say? Well, I finished reading Her Fearful Symmetry and loved it, though the ending gave me pause. Then I figured it out (I think). Before I had my epiphany, I read the reviews at Amazon to see what other people thought of the ending. No one really talked about it. They either loved the writing (like me) or said the story was "twee" and the characters "amoral." Hmm. Well, I liked it.

I saw an exceptionally hairy man at the pool today. Back, shoulders, chest...all covered. However, he did not have the "eagle tufts" of D's cousin.

And E has a new word: giraffe.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tidbits

So I bought 2 books today - The Gates by John Connolly and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. The cover of The Gates says: "The gates of hell are about to open - want to peek?" It's different from anything I've read before, though it reminds me a bit of Rosemary's Baby. The author is kind of dry and witty and Irish.

Her Fearful Symmetry also looks good. It didn't grab me the first time I saw it at the bookstore, but I read a bit of it on Amazon and it started to pull me in. I like how one of the characters is named Elspeth.

And finally, the toddler room is having a Halloween party. I'm psyched. But I have to figure out what costume to get for E.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Rebel mom

I've become a terrible blogger, I know. So I'll tell you a bit about the toddler room. It's not in my building, but it's in one of the buildings in my complex. I've met another mother and her child there. I am intrigued by her because she is, well, a Rebel Mom. I described her to D as a "rule breaker."

She:
  • has been kicked out of the exercise room for bringing her kid there
  • campaigned for a trash can in the toddler room, which resulted in her being kicked off the committee (I know, that's a little extreme)
  • leaves her kid's shoes on in the toddler room
  • brings snacks into the toddler room, and if crumbs are spilled, says, "I hope that guy comes and cleans up this crap tomorrow"
  • has her kid drinking out of a bottle instead of a sippy cup
If you say "Rules are there for a reason," you are right (especially about the crumbs). Yet in this age of helicopter parenting, she makes me relax. I like that she uses a bottle instead of a sippy cup. So do I, after I weaned E. It was a big enough deal to get him off the breast, and he doesn't like sippy cups. So there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So I took E to his Spanish music class today. I skipped last week because he fell asleep in his stroller en route. Anyway, this week there were only 3 kids including E (a lot of attrition from the first week, when there were 7 or 9 kids). I remembered a kid coughing like he had the croup at the 1st class, and of course he was in attendance. In the middle of class, he threw up on the padded surface that the toddlers walk and crawl on. Then his nanny pressed her hand to his forehead and announced: "He's hot." She explained that she brought him to the doctor and "it was just a cold." But he's been sick for at least 2 weeks.

I was livid...especially when E felt a little warm when we got home, although I gave him some Tylenol and it was probably teething-related. But if you know your kid (well, she was his nanny, but still) is sick, WHY BRING HIM TO CLASS? I wrote a note to the center explaining about the vomit, cough and labored, phlegm-y breathing, and suggested that they institute a policy insisting that kids stay home when they're contagious.

It's a good thing E is not in daycare. I'd be getting pissed off every week. As it is, I'm skipping next week, because the kids all touch the same maracas, stuffed duck, etc. I applied Purell to E's hands and my own 3 times after class.

Okay, you may think I'm overreacting a little. But E has only been sick once and I'd like to keep it that way. It just annoys me when people are inconsiderate.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

E's favorite word is "book." Sometimes when he wakes up, he sits in his crib and says it. He puts a little extra emphasis on the k: BooK, booK.

Today at the toddler room, where I can basically sit on my butt as he plays with the toys and pushes trucks around the room, he spotted the bookshelf. "BooK, booK!" he started to chant. My heart sank when I saw the selection. We have great children's books at home, but these were, um...let's just say there was a biography of Ronald Reagan. I don't want E to grow up thinking that ketchup is a vegetable! ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009


This picture is fuzzy but cute...D took it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wow, I went through a whole week without blogging. That's bad. But I guess that's what it's like when you have a kid.

I joined the toddler group in my building. This means we can use the toddler room. But when we went there today, it was closed for renovations. E knew exactly what he was missing out on and let me know about his displeasure as we left the building. I was able to distract him with a visit to the park. He had fun pushing his stroller around the park - one of his favorite pastimes.

One of my favorite babysitters moved to Vermont. She was about as excited about the move as I was. She's really good with E and loves him. But her boyfriend might come back to NYC for law school next year. So we'll see.

E is sleeping great - 9 pm to 7:30 am last night. And he's taking a language/music class in Spanish. I wanted French, because that's what I know, but the location near me didn't have it. I'm picking up some Spanish, though. Now I know that "manzana" means "apple."

Friday, September 11, 2009

So I ran into a woman and her child in the elevator. I was bringing some books to the laundry room and she was interested in a couple of them, so I gave them to her. We got to talking and I wondered if she was pregnant. I actually wondered this the last few times I saw her, but I couldn't think of a tactful way to find out.

Well, today I figured it out! I asked, "Is she your only child?" And she said, "Yes, and then I'm expecting another one," patting her belly. It turns out she's having a girl. She's five months along, but hasn't really "popped" yet. Although she was wearing a loose drapey top, so it was hard to tell.

Anyway, someone asked HER if she was having twins! Can you imagine? Maybe it's a New York thing.

Today I finished the new Anita Shreve book while the babysitter was here. I literally read it in 2 1/2 hours. I liked it so much that I'm considering reading Testimony, which I couldn't get into before.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

So I took E to the park today. It's one of my favorite playgrounds in Manhattan. It's shaded by leafy trees and there are a variety of things to do. E particularly likes this elephant that you can sit in and rock back and forth. While E communed with the elephant, a cherubic blue-eyed blonde in a billowing white dress opened her mouth and roared.

"What powerful lungs for such a little girl!" I observed.

Her mother said, "I know! He's actually a boy - I put him in a dress, it's terrible."

I thought that was funny. She then revealed that he was her only child. So I'm not sure why she had a dress in his size, but whatever.

After taking a step a few nights ago, E is back to crawling, standing in the middle of the room, and "creeping" (walking while holding onto stuff). My mom told me my brother was a late walker too (16 months), but he walks pretty well now.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

We bring you this important update...

After months of creeping (i.e., walking while holding onto furniture, the wall, etc.), E took an unsupported step during his bedtime story. ("Story" here means "many stories." Mom says she has never seen a baby so into books. Apparently I wasn't as into books at his age, though I've been addicted for many years.) We cheered. Hopefully unsupported walking is next!

He's been doing unsupported standing for a while and can now even fiddle with my cell phone (using both hands) while standing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I have insomnia, so hello! Plus it's getting a little dusty here. E has been sleeping well - last night he did a 10-hour stretch, then took a bottle and went back down for 2 hours. Yeah, really. And on his "bad" nights he's doing 8-hour stretches, then a bottle and back down for 2.

I'm reading Prospect Park West by Amy Sohn and liking it. She went to high school with my husband and I met her at one of his reunions. I thought she was an interesting person. I got the feeling, from her book, that she now has a child. I went to her website and after poking around a bit, found that she does. (I'm really good at ferreting out information. I would be a private investigator, except that I've read how you mostly look at people's tax records. Yawn.)

In fact, she wrote an article about the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother. She talked about how she was able to wake up in the night without feeling anger and frustration, how the nursing calmed her. I can relate to that. When I was co-sleeping and E woke up to nurse, it wasn't a jarring experience. Sometimes I still second-guess my decision to wean E and put him in the crib.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Human nature in the playground

So I brought E to the playground today, which he loves. At some point he noticed two little boys (I found out later that they were both 4) in a kind of hollow in the middle of some playground equipment. He advanced on the hollow and the boys chanted, "No, no baby!" and "Baby can't come in!" I asked them, "Why don't you like babies?" and they just looked at me blankly. E tried to get in again and they chanted some more. Then he laughed his big, hearty, infectious laugh and they said, "Baby's laughing! Baby can come in now." (I swear, it was that easy.) But by then E had lost all interest in them and was playing with a blue Polaris Road Ripper.

I got the name of that toy in hopes of getting one for E. He loved it. It belonged to a little boy whose mother was very nice. She has 4 kids and the toy was a gift for her 9-year-old. He said, "It's lame; it doesn't go." But it makes a nifty noise and her 2-year-old and 1-year-old love it. I asked her how it was having 4 kids and she said (laughing), "I can't handle it half the time." Then she said, "They're all boys." Personally, I am pro-boy. Interestingly, her kids prefer soy milk too!

Cautiously optimistic

So E's sleep seems to be working out okay, even without the night nanny. I have to say, though, this has been a real struggle. I know there are people out there whose kids slept through the night at seven weeks "and we didn't really do anything." Right. That's great - but don't talk about it to me too much. Because I might have to kill you :)

And I do believe that at least one thing has to go wrong in a situation. So I'm not sure I want another kid. Because I got off easy with breastfeeding - no mastitis, bleeding, etc. And I'm pretty sure if we had another one, one of two things would happen:

1) s/he would be a sleeper like E, which I could not go through another time.
2) s/he would be a better sleeper, but I would be plagued by breastfeeding problems.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For all you kale lovers out there

I made this for the first time today, and I really enjoyed it. E likes kale, though it takes him a while to chew it.

Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch kale, chopped (you could use Swiss chard instead, but why would you want to?)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 large onion, chopped (preferably Vidalia)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a wok, and saute the onions over medium heat until they are golden. Add the kale, toss and cover. The cookbook says to steam for 10-12 minutes, but I thought it was more like 5-7. Then add the vinegar, black-eyed peas, salt and pepper, and cook just until heated through.

(from 5-Ingredient Vegetarian Gourmet)
I'm convinced that most parents have a list of things they never thought they'd say or do. I just added one to the roster: I never thought I'd fish a plastic duck out of a jar of peanut butter. But I did.

Another note: E really likes peanut butter. I'd mentally categorized it as a satanic food, in this age of helicopter parenting. But my brother's wife said off-handedly, "You could give him some." It should be noted here that my SIL is an unimpeachable authority on such matters - anything mechanical or vaguely medical, or even practical, she knows. So I offered E some peanut butter as I was eating it out of the jar this morning. (Yes, I do that.) And he LOVED IT.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We went to a wedding on the Jersey shore today. I drove in Manhattan and tackled the Lincoln Tunnel for the first time. It was freakishly narrow, but I survived. Then we sat in traffic on the Garden State Parkway (so called because it's a parking lot - get it?) We were 15 minutes late for the wedding, but it didn't matter because the bride didn't walk down the aisle till 11:22.

There was a Wizard of Oz theme at the tables. We got The Yellow Brick Road. My college roommate's husband was there, though my roommate didn't come. The food was interesting - a brunch buffet. So the offerings included French toast and herbed red potatoes, which E loved. It was his first wedding and he handled it like a champion. At one point, I noticed he was practically falling off my lap with fatigue, so I bundled him into the stroller and we walked along the beach behind the building. The sun beat down on us and the boardwalk thumped beneath the wheels, but E didn't seem to notice. He was conked out for a solid hour.

I liked the adventure and change in routine of going to the wedding. Next weekend I am going to Providence for the traditional post-weaning trip. And after that, my mother is coming.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sigh of relief

So tonight I put E to bed all on my own (the night nanny came, but she stayed in the living room) and he only cried 5 minutes before he drifted off. I'm feeling so much better about the whole thing. He still will only nap in the stroller during the day, but the nanny said that is not a big deal - sleeping in the crib is only important at night.

In other quality-of-life improvements, we got a teeny-weensy, itty-bitty, light-weight Maclaren stroller. Every other parent in Manhattan has a Maclaren...because they're easy to take on the subway. I prefer our Peg Perego (cute, smooth ride, has a detachable harness so E can sit forward, which he loves), but it means that I can only take the subway with D (I'm not strong enough to carry both E and the Peg down the subway stairs). This Maclaren is practically lighter than a diaper bag. So I'll use Peg for everyday excursions, and the Maclaren if I want to take the subway to Central Park, Brooklyn or the pediatrician. Because frankly, 26 pounds is too heavy for the Ergo.
I went for lunch with a friend and her son yesterday. Here are some pictures:



On the way back, a man approached us urgently and said, "Watch out for the chicken." I said to my friend, "I bet you weren't expecting to hear that today." Then we saw a woman kneel down on the sidewalk and take a picture of the chicken.

Monday, August 10, 2009

And now, for something completely different.

This blog entry is *not* about E's sleep habits!

I like to keep track of my favorite authors. They fluctuate over time. My algorithm = writers whose next books I would read. So authors who are no longer writing are not included here. Feel free to leave a comment about your own favorites...I'm curious.

Also - I read a book recently called Shelf Discovery: A Reading Memoir. The author writes about all the teen classics (plus some I've never heard of) and re-examines them from an adult perspective. It was very interesting, even though I'm usually a fiction person. Then again, it was nonfiction about fiction.

Without further ado:

Paul Auster
Elizabeth Berg
Maeve Binchy
Hester Browne
Katherine Center
Jennifer Chiaverini
Sarah Dessen
Emily Giffin
Jane Green
Sophie Kinsella
Elinor Lipman
Mameve Medwed
Jane Porter
Richard Russo
Anita Shreve
Alexander McCall Smith
Sarah Strohmeyer
Adriana Trigiani
Jonathan Tropper
Anne Tyler
Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Jennifer Weiner

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Well, after last night's craziness, E fell asleep while I was changing his diaper, and then I transitioned him painlessly into the crib. Hopefully this is the dawn of a new era.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

So I'm at my in-laws' in the Poconos. I used to not be nuts about the place, and this time I'm enjoying it. I think when I came here in my 20s, I was looking for excitement. But now I'm just looking for relaxation. And the Poconos has that...in spades. D and I rented a Mazda and I enjoyed driving it on the rolling hills (until a Sunday driver got in front of us). Earlier in the day we lounged by the pool while D's parents looked after E. They took him in the sandbox, and then we all went out for Chinese food. And I was able to finish a book.

Of course, we haven't tried to put him to bed yet. The gruesome truth: he never really had an aversion to the crib. He had an aversion to me leaving the room. We found this out last night when I tried to put him down multiple times, and he screamed every time I left, without stopping. Then the night nanny put him down. He was still awake when she left the room, and was quiet as a mouse. So it looks like it's best for someone else to put him down. The problem? The night nanny's not free and we can't keep her forever. So hopefully he'll get used to me putting him down.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sunday, August 02, 2009

It's getting better all the time

Last night E slept from 8:15 to 4:30, drank an ounce or two of soy milk mixed with breast milk, and fell asleep again till 7:15. The night nanny is still coming each night. She says he'll phase out the 4:30 feeding soon enough.

Meanwhile, I am weaning. I haven't nursed him since 7 pm on July 31st. The problem is, the supply doesn't stop when he does. I gave in and pumped a little last night. I'm wondering how much or how little to pump.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The nanny diaries

So I got to the point, with E's sleep, that I needed help in the form of chemical substances or a person. I chose the person. We've hired a night nanny to help out for 2 weeks (the time she says it will take to get him used to sleeping through the night in the crib). And I was so relieved. I was getting so anxious before bedtime, my stomach tied in knots, wondering what I was going to get that night (and knowing it wasn't going to be good).

Then I got stressed after the nanny came, even though she seemed perfectly nice, competent, firm and kind (in short, everything you would want in a night nanny). I felt like a horrible person leaving E with someone else for the night (even though D and I would be there, and I know E needs to learn to sleep in the crib). So I chickened out and went to my in-laws' apartment (they're away for the summer) and D stayed at our place.

It felt so unusual to go to sleep without a baby in the apartment. A few times, I even thought I heard a baby crying, but it was probably my imagination. I drifted off around 11:16 pm and woke up around 6:30 am (not bad, especially since we had to relieve the night nanny at 7 am and I wanted to talk with her before she left). So I stuffed my clothes in a plastic bag and headed out to the elevator. It all felt very walk-of-shame, especially since I ran into a guy in the elevator. I can only imagine what he thought.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A small miracle

So I'm having quite the struggle at night these days. E is teething, with a fifth tooth struggling to come through; I can see the bud in his gum, and he felt like he was burning up. (As I learned when I once rushed him to the doctor, thinking he was sick, teething can cause a fever.) It can also cause a little diarrhea! Fun! And it occurred at 5:30 am! (I'm not at the miracle part yet, but hang in there.)

After changing the sheet and his diaper, I lay him down and he slept. This was momentous. It was the first time ever that he has fallen asleep without motion (car or stroller) or nursing. I hope it means good things are to come.

Monday, July 27, 2009

New words

I'm pretty sure E said "no" and "hi" today. I was giving him his bottle of whole milk and I said, "Do you want any more?" and he said, "No." I asked again and he said, "No." I asked a third time, to see if he would say it again, but he just laughed. Then I told the babysitter about it when she came, and she asked, and he said, "No no." It was really cute. I can't wait till he shakes his head like my friend's kid.

We took him to a Chinese restaurant where one of the waiters loves him. He brought E a fortune cookie and the fortune was, "You are the center of attention in every group." I'd say that's true. Anyway, as the waiter passed by, E said, "Hi."

In the trenches

So last night was the first night of sleep training. It didn't go too well, but I guess you have to keep plugging. I used to be able to nurse him and he would go through the night, but it doesn't work anymore. It feels like he's outgrown it or something. I mean, he still feeds, but it's not as effective. Anyway, we finally ended up letting him cry it out a bit -- okay, an hour -- then I nursed him again, and he fell asleep. In the bed. But I'm going to try at the beginning of the night to put him in the crib and keep trying each night.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sleep mishegoss

I've co-slept myself into a corner. For a while, it worked. But if I don't fall asleep at the same time E does, he tends to wake during the night. After a long spell of sleeping through the night, he's been restless. So I got a copy of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and I'm going to try one of the strategies she recommends. There is a gradual solution (where you put the crib mattress on the floor, surrounded with pillows, etc.) and after the baby falls asleep, or when he's drowsy, you put him on the crib mattress. After about a week of this, the baby supposedly gets used to sleeping by himself, and then you move the crib mattress into the crib.

There's also a "sneaky solution" where you put the baby to sleep using the usual method, then put him into the crib. I tried this once and he only lasted a couple of hours in there.

There is also the cute solution (for toddlers) of making a "go-to-sleep" book. Hopefully, his problems will be solved before that age.

He has always been a delightful baby during the day, but tricky at night.

We took him to a dinner in Princeton, NJ yesterday. It was hosted by someone D works with (who sends a lot of business his way). She cooked enough for an army, but only 6 people attended. I think I made up for my consumption with lots of biking and walking today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

E and shawl





Some pics of E and the shawl I made, for those who are not on Facebook. (Judy, it's time!)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stress

So I got a letter from the doctor's office saying that E needs more iron, and to call him. D tried this morning (because I would be a nervous wreck) and he's going to call us back, because he wasn't in yet. In the meantime, I'm trying to give him lots of iron. Unfortunately, he digs the foods that are fairly low in iron (watermelon, broccoli) more than foods that have a lot of it (spinach, oatmeal).

D thinks he already might have more iron than when he was tested, because I was still exclusively breastfeeding him then, and now a lot of his nursing sessions have been replaced with soy milk. I'm trying to cook a lot of quinoa and tofu. I'm probably freaking out too much (though inwardly). This is the first thing that has been "wrong" with him; he's only been sick once.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cribophobia

People often tell me how easy E is. "He must not give you any trouble at all!" said a woman in the elevator. His babysitter said, "He's so easy. I've never seen him cry yet. If he starts to fuss, I can just distract him." So I told her how he hates the crib. I've started putting him in it again without a lot of success. He slept there 2 hours last night, then started screaming. I took him into bed and he slept for 8 hours straight. So you can see I have a real disincentive to crib him. But I don't want to co-sleep forever.

My babysitter said, "Yeah, my brother hated the crib too. He was climbing into bed with my parents until he was, like, eight."

Oy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It feels like no one is blogging anymore, but I will valiantly soldier on.

Weaning is underway (sort of). For the past few days, I've been feeding him early in the morning, then giving him soy milk instead of a feeding until he insists on it (usually 8-9 hours after the first feeding). Then I nurse him to sleep. Though he doesn't fall asleep during nursing anymore. He finishes nursing, then rolls around or stretches and then he falls asleep.

We went to the park today and he met a plump, adorable 13-month-old named Johanna. She was with a babysitter, whom she resembled, but the babysitter said it was just a fluke. She hopes her actual kids look like Johanna.

On the train ride back from MA, I took E to the cafe car because he was fussing (teeth #3 and 4 were breaking through). As usual, he was revived by flirting with the cafe lady and enjoying a professional photographer's attentions. He was doing a profile of the cafe lady and snapped a few pics of me and E. He said he would email them to me, but who knows; I haven't gotten them yet.

D and I saw Bruno. I felt a little polluted by the experience, but I did laugh.

Friday, July 10, 2009

So D and I went to Massachusetts today for a wedding and family visit. I thought E was a little fussy on the train, so I strapped him into the Ergo and went for a walk. One woman tapped me on the back and said, "The baby was awesome. He really was." So that made me feel good.

When Mom picked us up, she was a little anxious from being in traffic. The tall ships came into Boston today and everyone went to see them, so the car situation was a bit snarly. So we took a break before driving back to the 'burbs. We found an upscale hotel with a beautiful view of the water and a casual bar/restaurant that was reasonably baby friendly. Our couch and chairs were right next to the window. I had a lentil burger on an onion roll with a bit of salad and Indian sauces. It was quite yummy. Then D got a brownie sundae, and you know, we just had to help him out with that. You can't expect someone to eat one of those on his own :)

Monday, July 06, 2009

The zoo



Here are a couple of pics from the zoo. They were taken with D's cell phone, since I forgot to take my camera. E pressed his hand right up against the polar bear's paw (although they were separated by glass, of course). D and I saw that polar bear before E was born. The bear is an enthusiastic swimmer. He uses his paws to press off the glass and propel him to the other end of the tank.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th, everybody. I'm just relieved it stopped raining. We might have a chickpea burger for lunch, and tomorrow we're going to the children's zoo with friends who have two kids. They are our only friends with more than one child. I'm a little stressed right now because I have to wean E at some point (I probably shouldn't nurse him forever), but it's bound to be difficult. I also need to get him in his crib for good - I read that you really shouldn't co-sleep after weaning.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is the fastest recipe ever, and just as good as it is quick:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c water
1 can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c grated unsweetened coconut (although you can use the sweetened variety, too)
10 oz frozen chopped spinach

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan or soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Break up the block of spinach with a fork, cover and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir well before serving. I like to serve it with jasmine rice.
(from Lorna Sass's Short-Cut Vegetarian)

In other news, E and I survived the pediatrician visit today. I ended up spending almost two hours in there, which was annoying. But he handled the blood test (every 1-year-old in NYC has to have a blood test, to check for lead) and the shots better than expected. I forgot the Tylenol, so initially I was worried. But he only cried briefly, because there were plenty of people to flirt with.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So I am back in NYC after almost two weeks. What started as a simple trip to celebrate E's birthday with my family changed when 2 of my aunts died within a week of each other. One aunt was on my mom's side, age 81; the other was on my dad's side, just a week shy of her 93rd birthday. At my Aunt M's funeral, I did the first reading, and E was fascinated by the church music. However, he did a loud raspberry at the end of one of the priest's statements. Both deaths were expected, but sad nonetheless.

We came back to the new apartment and it did still smell a bit like paint. But we opened all the windows and the air seems fresher now. E is truly knocked out - he fell asleep sans bath or fresh diaper. (Note: it's not that unfresh; his poop of the day (POTD) is already behind us. So at most, he has a little pee in there.)

I have to take him to the pediatrician on Thursday. I haven't been there since January. I'm not really looking forward to it. I dislike going to doctors in general, though this one is much nicer than his predecessor. Plus, E is getting a whole mess of shots - the one-year vaccinations. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The case of the missing book

So I have an ARC coming my way from LibraryThing.com. A fellow from the publisher left a comment for me at LibraryThing on June 5, saying he had just mailed it. We went to Massachusetts on June 12, and ended up extending our stay.

As of June 12, the book had not yet arrived. Typically it comes right to your door. I was diligently checking both the old apartment and the new (they are all of three blocks apart). No dice. So I hope when I get back to New York, it will be sitting outside the new apartment. If not, I have to go to the old apartment and check with the next-door neighbor, who just might have taken it under her wing.

You may ask: which address did LibraryThing have? I changed my address to reflect the move before I got the email from the publisher. So I assume he had the right address. But you never know.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

So when D and I moved, we went a little further away from the heart of the action. I thought I'd like being on a quieter street. I do like it, but find myself missing the sociality of my old building. Of course, I don't miss the porter. He used to get in my face and yell, "WHEN YOU MAKE ANOTHER?" (which means: "When are you having another child?") He had nine children or something, but was not in regular contact with most of them.

But there are a number of people I miss from the old building:

  • Abu and his father. Abu was a fluffy Pomeranian who got a short haircut for the summer.
  • Pinocchio and his father. Pinocchio is a dachshund who joined the building 6 years ago.
  • A woman and her dachshund. She doesn't actually live there, but visits her mother in the building. Her mother doesn't know she has a dog. This woman loves, loves, loves E.
  • A guy who always says, "My friend!" when he sees E.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Well, we're moved in, but it's not entirely pretty. It's like a molting larva in its cocoon, I think...not quite finished. The apartment itself is lovely, but it's full of boxes and STUFF. Even after my extensive closet cleaning, there are things I never knew we had (they must have predated me). Hopefully E will sleep well tonight in his new surroundings. He just discovered a bit of Velcro underneath a cabinet door, ripped it off and is playing with it.

Our move got interrupted. One of the rules of our co-op (I'm sure there is a rule book somewhere, as long as the OED or Encyclopedia Britannica) is that you have to be done moving in by 5. We got permission to go till 5:30. But there are still 25 boxes left to be moved in.

In other high jinks, the movers had to temporarily remove the door to our old apartment, in order to get the refrigerator through.
The moving process has begun! I'm camped out at my SIL's apartment, feeding E bits of orange and watching him have a blast with SIL's exercise balls. D is supervising the movers, who are all wearing cheery orange shirts. I wondered if they make one in a baby size, but I didn't ask. They were upbeat and cheerful when they came in, and then they clicked into action. Faster than you could say, "Where's the crap?", it was all packed away.

SIL has a gorgeous view of the Hudson River. I had a horrible night's sleep, due to electrical repairs taking place on the street not far below our windows (very noisy, and E woke up AFTER it stopped - maybe he was like, "Where's my backdrop?"). When I woke up, the bags under my eyes -- you could put groceries in them. But now I feel more awake and hopeful. Our new apartment is on a much higher floor (almost at the top of the building) so we shouldn't hear much street noise. And hopefully we won't see Gladys (our name for the roach who appeared periodically at the old apartment. We killed her whenever we were able to; however, she is Gladys in all her incarnations.). 

Sunday, June 07, 2009

So tomorrow we are moving. The painting is done: a light buttery/lemony yellow for the living room and kitchen; "creme brulee" for the hallway and master bedroom; and a hint of "bashful blue" at the end of the hall (E's bedroom). I still can't believe it. I've been living in this apartment for ten years, and although we have definitely outgrown it, I will miss it.

Tomorrow, the moving company will come to pack, move and unpack us - promising to be done by 7 pm. Over the past couple of weeks, I've cleaned the closets intensively, but I still feel like we have so much CRAP. What can you do? And the moving company is called Schleppers - how New York is that?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

So today is E's birthday. I know it's ridiculous, but I feel like he's growing up too fast. I remember reading in the No-Cry Sleep Solution how the sleepless nights would later take on a "romantic haze" in recollection. I thought: Yeah, right. But I can see what they mean. Soon he'll be a toddler...then he'll have a girlfriend...then he'll go off to college...I can see what the empty nesters get upset about.

Sunday, May 31, 2009





So E took his first (supported) steps today...while holding onto the couch. I think walking is around the corner...

Friday, May 29, 2009

So I went to Old Navy today and got a dress, skirt, a romper for E, and socks for E. The romper says: All-American Hunk, 2009. I'm going to need a new bra for the dress - it has really thin straps so the somewhat sports bra-like nursing bra I've been wearing is not going to cut it, and my fairy-sized pre-nursing bras are out of the running. In the past, I would have just gone without a bra in it, but that is not an option. Big-breasted friends of the Internet - am I stuck with an uncomfortable strapless bra or is there an intelligent solution I didn't think of? At any rate, the dress was really cute so I figured it'd be dumb to pass it up due to bra problems.

I have mixed feelings about our move, which is imminent. The new apartment is superior in many ways. It's much higher up than the current one, so it'll be far quieter. There is no balcony to babyproof. The living room is about twice as big as the one we have now. We're going to have it painted in fetching colors. Et cetera.

But I will miss our big picture windows in the living room. We knew we were giving them up. During this whole process, we realized we could get a cramped 2-bedroom with the large living room windows, or a spacious one with smaller living room windows. We chose the latter. That's life, I guess.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The return of Rainer

So D, E and I saw Rainer today. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that Rainer is an exceptional cat and a long-time friend. If you haven't, Rainer is a tabby who lives in a Brooklyn bookstore. Because of distance, pregnancy, childbirth and the whole megillah (a little Yiddish has rubbed off on me after living in NYC so long), I haven't seen Rainer since January '08.

When we got to the bookstore today, the owner (also known as Rainer's father) said, "Hi!" I saw Rainer's friend, Hayes, napping on the counter. I asked, "Does Rainer still live here?"

The owner nodded, but seemed a little uncertain. Then he told me that Rainer had had cancer. The tumor spread, and now he only has three legs. But he's getting around fine and feeling much better.

I saw Rainer then, sleeping peacefully on a box. When he woke up, he came over and sat in my lap. Just like old times.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Of window treatments and other demons

So D and I went to Home Depot to pick out window treatments. This is about as much fun as, I don't know, getting your toenails clipped. But finally we found some really nice, not blinds exactly but in that genre (I'll put up pictures when they're installed. If I remember). They had a little veil thingy on them (I believe it is called a vane) and we had to pick out the color of that. Then we were done.

They have a big sale on, and to take advantage of it, we needed to get the measurements done by May 27. (MIL, who loves this sort of thing, warned us to have the final measurements done by the installers, so they would be responsible for any errors. It seemed like sound advice.) So D met the measurer/installer in our new apartment, and had an unexpectedly good time.

The installer told the story of an especially trying woman earlier. The woman, who lives in a rent-controlled apartment with many windows, asked him to install eight blinds (supposedly pre-paid to Home Depot). He did it. Then she asked him to install eleven more for a total of thirty dollars. He refused. She said, "Okay, I'll do it through Home Depot." She called HD and paid over the phone. He installed the eleven additional blinds. Then HD called HIM and said, "Don't do it. Her HD credit card is in collections."

So then he had to take all the blinds down. And she said, "You're gonna put my old ones back up, right?"

He did. But he told D, "I'm gonna have a Bacardi and Coke when I get home."

Monday, May 18, 2009

I wonder if E is starting to wean himself. His first birthday is June 4. He seems to be eating more food - not wolfing it down, but he loves tofu as long as it's not plain; he likes the smoked variety and also a kale-tofu dish I make where the tofu is flavored with balsamic vinegar. He also likes ice cream, little bits of vegan cupcake, bread, dry salad greens (baby greens are his favorite, appropriately), Cheerios, and so forth. He's gone almost 5 hours without nursing, which is unheard of. I gave him a little rice milk in a sippy cup. (I read that it's the most similar to breast milk.) He was not too successful with it, but what he did get, he seemed to enjoy. He also seemed tickled by the whole concept; he started laughing, flashing his two white teeth.

I like to take him to lunch at a sandwich shop. Next to me, two guys were talking about how someone else (not present) was tightening his belt in the tough economy. "He only gets his dog clipped for $300 every 3 months now," said one. "It's hard," said the other. I really could not tell if they were serious or joking - about how tough this was. I tend to think, weirdly enough, that they were serious.

I also did some quick math in my head. My three-month hair expenses are cheaper than the dog's. I get my hair colored once a month (or 6 weeks) for $65. I get my hair cut every 3 months for $35.

P.S. E is *not* weaning himself. Oh well...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some pics of E








Some shots of the bare apartment.

We can't move in for another 2-4 weeks, and don't have keys yet; but here are some pix from the day we inspected the place.
One of the bedrooms; I'm not sure which. D took the pix.
One of the views.
Kitchen.
Me in the living room.
Hallway.
Me in the living room again.
Walk-in closet in the front hallway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The search is over.

We got the apartment. It's big and beautiful and below market rent. We only had to wait ELEVEN MONTHS for it. Kvetching aside, I am grateful. Now we have to figure out what color to paint it...the co-op people will paint it for you, but you have to supply the paint. So I'm looking for good paint brands and color ideas. I think light green would be nice for the bebe's bedroom...

P.S. I got recommendations from a friend who knows a painter over on Facebook - Durations (first place) and Benjamin Moore (silver medal).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Too wired to sleep

So D and I were offered an apartment from our list. We're going to see it tomorrow. It should be great, but I'm anxious about it nonetheless. Big life changes and all that. I wish we could see it right now. But the management office was already closed when we got back from Boston, so we couldn't get the keys.

E is crawling, but in a very calm way. He's not one of those terrors who zips around the house, unplugging everything and swallowing chemicals. (I actually moved all the detergent to the top of the fridge months ago.)

We went to a "wedding celebration" on Saturday. It was in a town that's hard to reach because it's not accessible from 128, eastern Massachusetts's major highway. It was for a friend of mine, hosted by a friend of hers (whom I've never met before). At one point, the hostess yelled, "Everyone out of my kitchen!" but I didn't know whether she meant it or not. My sarcasm/joke meter is not always the best. I chose to believe that she meant it. I could see that another woman was confused as well.

At the party, I realized that I've become a bit of a one-trick pony, conversationally. All I want to talk about is pregnancy and babies. That's a slight exaggeration, but there's a glimmer of truth to it. Fortunately, two women there were pregnant, and another woman had two kids.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

So E is getting more into solids. Lately he has enjoyed avocado, bits of smoked tofu, Cheerios, steamed spinach, crumbled cornbread, bits of burger bun, vegan cupcake, bits of veggie burger, and soy ice cream. I was worried for a while because he didn't seem overly enamoured of the purees. So now I'm not using them and just giving him nibbles of table food. It seems to be working.

I read a book today where a woman had trouble weaning. When her baby turned a year old, she gave him cow's milk (as her pediatrician advised) and he said, "No. Bad." Then she tried soy milk, goat's milk and rice milk. Supposedly, rice milk is the most like breast milk. Who knew? He turned them all down. He finally accepted the cow's milk when he was two. Like E, he is not fond of bottles (I gave up on pumping bottles for babysitters because they all reported that he was just chewing on it rather than drinking from it).

So....not really looking forward to the weaning thing. I have a friend who was determined to wean her baby by her first birthday. I am not in this category. I think I will start making a half-assed attempt to wean him after his first birthday. Sometime. So you just start swapping cow's milk for feedings? And can you use a sippy cup?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First swim class

I survived E's first swim class. The other moms were very nice. I saw the one I met last time, whose baby has a very serious expression. I also met a new one, from England. I explained how when we went to London, we stayed in Marble Arch and had fun saying that with a British accent. Hers was better, though. I also liked how she said "nappy" instead of diaper. After class, there was a surprise appearance by her nanny (a surprise for me). She said to the nanny, "If I change his nappy, can you get him dressed?" I thought, "That's a sweet deal." I would feel weird about having a nanny, though. I don't know why. Unless I had 6 kids or something. There are some people who should have nannies. The octo-mom is one.

Anyway, the only downside of the class was the swim diaper. It was not what it was cracked up to be. I was, shall we say, baptized before class. But I had a towel handy and no one was the wiser (except the British mom, whom I told; she said cheerfully, "At least it wasn't poo."). After class, I headed to Buy Buy Baby and got him two pairs of swim trunks with much sturdier built-in diapers.

Monday, May 04, 2009

More snippets of conversation

I went to the hairdresser the other day to get my roots done. It really is a drag once you start getting your hair colored professionally, because you have to keep up with it. However, my hairdresser does a good job. She is a tiny woman, a self-confessed bottle blonde who treats hairdressing as artistry. I like how she gets really serious about my head.

We never had one of those confiding-in-each-other relationships, but somehow we did last time. She has one kid but would have had more if she didn't get divorced when her baby was 6 months old. "If I had a good husband," she said in her Armenian accent, "I would have 2 more."

"3? But that gets expensive," I said, thinking of Manhattan real estate.

"That's why I say, a good husband," she said, and winked.

I told her about my hesitation with the 2 kids thing. I told her about 2 kids I know, where the older kid beats up on the baby when the parents aren't looking.

"They want someone to fight with," she said.

I shared my fears about E feeling displaced, no longer being the sole focus of attention.

"Is not good for child to get all the attention," she shrugged. "My daughter is such a selfish girl."

Finally, I mentioned that I became enormous during pregnancy.

"Me too," she said, holding her hands out to indicate a beach ball instead of her concave belly.

"You?" I couldn't believe it. She disappears when she stands sideways!

"Oh yes," she nodded. "Is normal. And now you have a nice body, you are in good condition." I felt like a shiny car ;)

*

In the elevator today, two older guys were looking at E and one said to the other, "Whenever I see a baby, you know what I think?"

"What?"

"When he grows up, I'll be dead."

"Well, there are all kinds of technologies now...helping people live longer."

"Then we'll have a world full of old people. We need more babies."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Honey, how does it feel?

Today D, E and I had lunch at a funky diner that we visit every weekend. The waiters know and love E. One of them rushed over and gave him a hug. Then two or three waiters noticed and commented on D's weight loss.

"You look good! Muscles," one of them exclaimed.

Another waiter looked at me and said, "Honey, how does it feel to have every homosexual in the restaurant saying how good your husband looks?"

I said, "I feel validated."

He said, "You know if the ___ like him, it's good."

I asked D how he felt about the attention. I think he was flattered. He has a theory that men get less attention than women.

Random update

Well, D is out taking E for a walk, and it feels like I have nothing to do (a strange feeling that moms almost never have). I've been cooking a bunch and we've been making progress with our apartment search. We live in a complex that has Byzantine rules in exchange for below-market rent. Anyway, we were offered 3 apartments, all of which were in effect smaller than ours (a smidgen bigger, but with an extra room, so that each room was actually smaller than its counterpart in our current apartment). Turns out we were offered apartments from only two "lines", which are essentially identical, known for being cramped but having large windows.

Entering into phase 2 - we sent in a certified letter explaining exactly what we wanted. We want two other lines that are big but have fewer windows. We decided space was more important than enormous windows. These lines feel quite spacious so we're pleased with our decision. The next thing that happens is, we'll be offered an apartment from our list and we will have to take it (or else go to the bottom of the waiting list). But we should be happy with what we're offered, because we did all this painstaking research and apartment visits to make sure we knew what we were committing to.

Happily, the swine flu seems to be blowing over. For a while, people in NY were panicking a bit (albeit in their worldly-wise, slightly jaded way). I overheard one man telling another that there's a difference between allergic sneezing and swine flu sneezing. "You can tell!" he said. "An allergic sneeze is like, CHOO, and a swine flu sneeze is like, a lot of nose blowing." Hmm.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Water babies

I signed E up for Water Babies today. I'm not a member at this particular pool, so when I got to the front desk, I went to the receptionist rather than "Member Services."

"Oh, you can go over to Member Services," the receptionist told me after I explained I wanted to sign up for a class. In the interim, four people had formed a line at Member Services. Oh well.

The Member Services lady *loved* E. She called him "curly top" and asked him to hand her my credit card (he was gnawing on it). His ID photo features him chewing on the card (a first?).

I also met a mom and her son who would be taking the class. Her son was six months old and she said, "We've been waiting for this!" (Whereas E is 11 months old and I'm just now enrolling.) I had a flicker of guilt for not yet signing him up for SAT prep.

The Member Services lady gave the other mom the spiel about swim caps for both of you (mommy and baby).

"But he doesn't have any hair!" said Other Mom.

"He still has to wear one," said Member Services.

I tried a swim cap on E later, and I don't think he liked it. Hopefully the water will distract him.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asparagus quiche


This is a vegan asparagus quiche that I made today. I selected the recipe primarily for its size - it promised to feed 6-8. (My mom, niece and nephew are in town.) Unfortunately, it was not a big hit with the kids, but my mom and I enjoyed it. The crust (which I made from scratch) came out perfectly.

D has lost about 30 lbs, following this routine where he figures out the calories of everything he eats and works out accordingly. He discovered that the entire quiche contained 4320 calories. Scary, isn't it? And it's vegan! Imagine what the egg quiches are like.

My niece and nephew were excited (but also disturbed) to see their first "insane person." A woman was cursing and yelling at an invisible someone by her side.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On teeth and adults

So yesterday E and I were trapped inside by the rain. I could have used his plastic stroller cover, but it was the type of torrential rain that drowns you within minutes. It was a very grey and sodden sort of day. So we stayed indoors even though I think he's cutting about 3 teeth - the pediatrician said he had several "buds." He has two teeth on the bottom already, but they didn't cause half as much trouble.

I survived the day with a sense of pride (got through it! yay) and got up to make carrot raisin muffins this morning. They were awesome. Then E and I wandered the streets and went to a playground near my building. He swung a bit in a bucket swing, and then we went to a little wooden house intended for the young 'uns. I couldn't help but remember the playground of my own youth, all rusted tin and flaky paint. Everything in this park was wooden or plastic with nary a sharp edge to be found.

I did find some graffiti, which surprised me (its content, not its existence). It said: "I'm having trouble learning to become an adult. I know how to be a kid. Let me learn." This was something that plagued me after college. It felt like I was suddenly plunged from having fun into a dull, corporate world. I still didn't really grow up, not until I had E. But this time, it feels like growing up in a good way. And you can still keep your inner child alive when you have a baby :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Venturing into veggie sausage-land

So tonight I will be cooking veggie sausage for the first time. I was never a fan of the meat version, but I have a recipe for white bean cassoulet that calls for veggie sausage, so I decided to dive in. D and I are both excited and repulsed by the idea. Whole Foods offers 3 types of phallic veggie links - chorizo, Italian and apple-sage. I went with the sage because it seemed most compatible with the French-inspired dish I will be making.

I'm also thinking about getting a slow cooker. I was always sour on them, and not sure why. I think there was an unflattering description of a crock-pot in one of the Ramona books, so they always make me think of limp pieces of stewed meat. But I have a vegetarian cookbook with some appealing slow-cooker recipes in the back, and there's a whole other book devoted to slow-cooker recipes by the same author. Also, they're good in the summer because they don't heat up the kitchen. Summer is the season when I tend to forget about cooking, only to slink back in the fall like a fickle lover. So I'm planning to order a slow cooker from Amazon by then.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So today my mom, D and I went to Vinny Testa's for lunch. (By the way, I'm in Massachusetts.) Vinny Testa's is a Boston institution. They used to take a bottle filled with tiles and shake it at the end of the meal, then pick one to see if you won a free meal. D said it ended the meal on a bad note because you usually don't win. We never did, anyway. They got rid of the tradition, whether because of the economy or D's hypothesis, we'll never know.

Anyway, they have fantastic bread, served with a big head of roasted garlic in a dish of olive oil. E had some of the bread, crumbled up. Nearby was a baby named Isaac, with adorable pudgy cheeks. Suddenly his mother looked in his mouth and screamed.

"He just popped his first tooth! RIGHT NOW! I'm calling his grandmother." And she whipped out her cell phone.

I was bemused because I couldn't remember when E's two teeth came in. They both arrived after his nine-month "birthday" and before his tenth. And they're cute. That's all I know. And he's working on a third one, I think.

I saw that the mother was a formula-feeder. That's one of the things I'm curious about but think I shouldn't ask - how many people breastfeed as opposed to using formula. And if they breastfeed, how long they did it. It's funny, I went into it planning to breastfeed for 3 months, and only if it was easy. Now E is ten months and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I might wean him at a year. Or I might go a little longer.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

So E and I went to a nearby park today and he tried the bucket swings for the first time. Of course, he was more interested in chewing on the swing (the chain and the rubber part) than the actual motion. He also caught the eye of a little girl using the "big kid" swings.

Girl: She's so pretty!

Me: He's a boy.

Girl: Well, he looks like a girl!

I give up.

We also gave up with someone who lives in our building. He's a very nice man, but the idea that E is a girl is lodged in his brain, and he can't let go. Sample conversation:

Man: You have such a beautiful daughter. God bless you!

Me: Yes, he's ten months now. (Admire the subtlety?)

Man: Well, she's gorgeous. Enjoy! What's her name?

Me: Eric.

Man: That's beautiful. Bye, sweetheart! What a perfect girl.

We also checked out a preschool this morning. Though this particular place takes children very young, even younger than E is now, we have no interest in putting him in preschool until he's at least 2 years old. Maybe even 3. But we figured we would check out the local places.

We were both a little disappointed. We like the concept of the place - lots of outdoor activity; the kids even cultivate a garden. We got a peek at some daffodils they planted. But there was one kid crying in his high chair for kind of a long time. At that point, there was one woman with two kids in her charge (the other caregivers and kids were outside). One of the inside kids was just wandering around contentedly, so there was really no barrier to her taking care of the crying kid. Eventually she brought out a jar of food for him. I don't really know what the deal was with the delay. D noticed it too.

So we weren't thrilled with that. But we're going to look at some other places and get a feel for what's out there.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Here's a polenta casserole I made today. It was fabulous...and vegan. I had actually put off making it, because I don't always like polenta. It can be mushy. But this had a nice, crisp top. And it was a different way of cooking with polenta...buy it prepared, unwrap it and grate it. It gave it more personality, somehow.



And E wants to say hi:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Well, I got E some French teething biscuits at Whole Foods, and he loves them. The package features a picture of a baby gazing at a biscuit as if it contains the answer to age-old mysteries. The little blurb on the package practically suggests that you try one yourself. Maybe I will (just kidding). They look pretty hard.

While we were in the store, some song by Squeeze was playing and E danced a little to it, tapping his stroller in time to the beat. A guy who was sitting on the floor, drilling or something, made friends with him. I mentioned that he was teething and the guy said, "Yeah! When my kids were teething, we took the milk we were feeding them - soy or whatever - and mixed anisette in. It works!" I explained that I was still nursing, and he said, "Then you pump and mix the anisette in! It works!" He was really enthusiastic. I'm not sure. Maybe I'll stick to Tylenol?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Baby fever

It is here. It is strong. For a while, after I gave birth, I looked at pregnant women and thought, "Thank God that's not me." The last month of my pregnancy was very hard for me. I had put on so much weight that it was hard to walk (though I had to, since this is NYC and we have no car, and strangers admonished me not to use the subway - I think they thought I would pop at any moment, and their fear was contagious) and I was often short of breath. I'll never forget when, a few days before giving birth, I was walking along and my hat fell off. The distance to the ground was daunting. I couldn't bend over because of my huge belly and I was staring at the hat, trying to figure out how to get to it with minimum sturm und drang. Then this tall, willowy blond creature passed me and elegantly dipped to the ground to retrieve it. I was grateful, but couldn't help feeling like a barge.

Anyway, I now look at pregnant women the way I used to, with a mixture of envy and awe. It's sort of like watching a miracle happening. But I'm going to wait a little while, maybe till next year. I want to make sure this is what I want. (D is on board, whenever I'm ready...it's the opposite of the first child...we were married 5 years before he got comfortable with the idea. But I think he really likes being a daddy.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Love/hate relationship with travel

Part of me wants to see the world (or at least part of it). I'd like to go to Greece, Australia, Hawaii. I've already been to France, Italy, England, Ireland, Bahamas, Canada, California, Florida, etc. I have no interest in going to China, India or Africa.

This weekend I'm going to DC to see the pandas, cherry blossoms and a certain blogger mommy and baby. But I find myself discomfited because they probably don't have the yogurt I like in DC. It's called Wallaby.

It's probably no accident that The Accidental Tourist is one of my favorite books. It's about a guy who writes travel books that let people believe they never left home.

Update: It looks like the weather in DC this weekend will not be conducive to panda viewing or any outdoor activity...so we'll go later. Oh well. On the plus side, a beautiful baby slept for seven hours straight...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So today E and I got out and enjoyed the beautiful weather. After a vegan panini (smoked tofu, sundried tomatoes and pesto) on ciabatta bread, followed by a vegan cupcake, we headed to the Union Square Barnes & Noble. This is my favorite bookstore in the city (probably), although the Strand has its own charms (half-priced reviewers' copies, often available before they've hit the shelves in other stores). The Union Square B&N has multiple levels and the most extensive cookbook section I've seen. They have a children's floor, but the secluded bench in the cookbook section is actually better for nursing.

I was a little alarmed because the woman who used the bathroom stall before me seemed to have the croup. She kept blowing her nose and it was bright red. WHY DON'T SICK PEOPLE STAY HOME? Anyway, after using the stall after her, I rolled my sleeves up and soaped my hands vigorously. A non-sick woman, after seeing me do this, did the same. Maybe she figured I knew something she didn't. Or maybe she saw the red-nosed girl too.

I bought 3 cookbooks (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World - I haven't baked in a long time, but maybe I'll make these for a birthday party or holiday or something; Eat Drink and Be Vegan; and Quick-Fix Vegetarian). I also looked at The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Cookbook but it quickly became apparent that by "quick," they meant "using almost all frozen ingredients." By "quick," I mean a recipe that involves some chopping and sauteeing and/or oven time, preferably in the 30-minute range. So that was not the cookbook for me. I like fresh ingredients.

We stopped at the Children's Place afterward. I've noticed that 12- and 18-month clothing often slips through the cracks. It's somewhere in the limbo between baby and full-blown toddler. But I do what I can. It's a little scary; E is not quite 10 months old, but he fit into a pair of 18-to-24-month pants (a gift from D's cousin's wife) this morning. They were a little long, but the waist fit perfectly.

And finally, I am reading two books at once - Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty (part of the Jessica Darling series) and The Best of Animals by Lauren Grodstein (a short story collection). I like them both, though they are very different. The series is getting a little bit old, but still enjoyable. The Grodstein collection is fun and surprising. They both have new books coming out soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Today was a nice, lazy weekend day. D and I went to our favorite diner, which has really cool art deco decor and a fun menu. I had a tofu/vegetable stir-fry (billed as "New York Meets Hong Kong"), followed by a carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting from Billy's Bakery. The cupcake was tres petit and thus not guilt-inducing.

Our Saturday sitter came and instead of going out and doing something productive, I thought, why not lie down and read? So I rested and read Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani. It was fun and mindless and will pass the time until the next Adriana Trigiani book arrives at the library.

What did you do today?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bottomless pit

So lately, I've been a bottomless pit. I'm not pregnant; maybe it's the 500 calories a day burned up by breastfeeding. Or maybe I was always a bottomless pit (who are we kidding). At any rate, I walked with E to the vegan cupcake place, had one with a golden base and white icing, walked back home, peeled a mango and ate it. It was all delicious.

I took a brief stop on the way home at a park, because E was sleeping. I have a favorite bench in the park; the sun falls on it in a certain way. A man we know with a small, fluffy orange dog walked by and said how he's getting older. He feels like the guy in Sanford & Son, all stiff when he wakes up. I've never actually seen the show. E slept through the whole thing.

We also tried to go to a preschool in our neighborhood. It has a garden and everything. However, I was looking between the wrong 2 avenues. We're paying a formal visit in April. (Yes, I know it might seem early, but I live in NYC, where some parents write admissions essays for their babies with sentences like, "He's a lover, not a fighter.")

E also noticed his first dog. He usually either ignores them or is lost in his own musings - hard to tell which. This dog was fairly large, with black-and-white markings. E leaned forward, giggled and touched the dog's nose. The owner reassured me that the dog is very friendly, loves children and has "a 2-month-old at home." Still, I didn't know how the nose-tapping would be received, so I moved the stroller away from the dog.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So D, our friend J, and I (plus E!) spotted Malcolm Gladwell today. He had his trademark 'fro and a laptop computer. He was eating at the same place where I had lunch with the babies not long ago. They have the best cupcakes in town. I don't know if Malcolm knows that or not.

There was some debate about whether it was actually Malcolm, but J was decisive. "It's him," he said. "Very distinctive." Plus, J mentioned honor wars, and I asked him what they were, and Malcolm heard me and his head swiveled. Apparently it's a concept from his books - in the past, Swiss people fought to keep their sheep or something, because their sheep were the best. Or something like that.

I've never read MG, but do know what he looks like. Another distinctive-looking author was John Updike, whom I've also met (when I worked at a movie theater in Massachusetts during the summer, back in college, and John came in to see Tin Cup, a golf movie starring Renee Russo).

Friday, March 13, 2009

So we tried out a new babysitter today during lunchtime, and had a bite to eat at a place where we can't bring E. It's vegan, but a little formal. We both had the portobello ciabatta (portobello, red onion, and bell peppers with vegan cheese and vegan mayo on nice chunky ciabatta bread). Then we shared a piece of cheesecake (made with tofu, of course) drizzled with strawberry sauce with a fresh strawberry on the side. It was delicious.

Caro did a post about grocery prices and I realized belatedly that our local store's costs have been creeping up. In fact, Whole Paycheck is now cheaper (as long as you get conventional instead of organic most of the time, and 365 Brand canned goods). Their produce is better, as well as cheaper, so it's a no-brainer. I'm trying to go during off-hours. And the conventional bananas are actually better than the organic - not as soft, and they don't go bad as quickly. I know - pesticides doing their work. But it has a protective peel, anyway.

On Sunday, we're going to a party for my SIL's new boyfriend. In honor of the occasion, she designed and made two cakes - one will have a pair of sunglasses, I think (maybe made out of frosting)? I might not try them because she has had a cough for a month and I am paranoid about such things. We shall see.

And finally, I'm really digging Adriana Trigiani's books. Lucia, Lucia was the right one to start with. Then I read Very Valentine. Next, the Big Stone Gap books...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I love this:

The Pink Teacup on Grove Street has the best coconut cake in the city. Made from scratch, it's a yellow cake so moist, for a moment it seems like it may not have cooked through. The batter is full of tiny pineapple chips, and the icing is butter cream whipped so light that the coconut curls sink into it.

(from Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani)

I am coming around on Adriana Trigiani. I resisted the whole Big Stone Gap phenomenon. But this book (from the library) is lovely. Can't you taste that coconut cake?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I just made a vegan pot pie. It's excellent. The crust has margarine in it instead of butter, but actually tastes better. It's from this cookbook by Sarah Kramer that I've been loving for a while - La Dolce Vegan. I still wouldn't "present" as a vegan (I have the occasional yogurt or macaroon, which has egg whites in it) but I feel better when I'm eating less dairy. Of course, when I was pregnant, I was the Dairy Queen. I think it's more important to have oodles of calcium when you're preggers.

With E and movement, it's the calm before the storm. From sitting, he rocks forward onto all fours and he's - almost - so close! - to pushing off. You can feel his frustration and desire to move. He can also pull up to standing or almost-standing, using the side of his crib (until we lowered the mattress) or the bedrail.

I'm reading Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock. It's a bit darker than my usual picks, but I'm enjoying it. She captures the hairy underbelly of adolescence...

Saturday, February 28, 2009


He's wearing a Red Sox onesie...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Playdate pix









So I got together today with a friend from Brooklyn to do lunch with the babies. She and I are on the same wavelength in many ways and going through a lot of the same things. We also like the same FOOD, though she is giving up cupcakes for Lent. I had my usual golden cupcake with vanilla icing (it's a vegan cupcake and better than any other I've tried) and tried not to feel like Satan tempting Jesus.

I also got a bunch of pictures. Some are dark, but I actually liked the effect.