Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve

After much deliberation, aborted plans, warnings about swine flu outbreaks passed around through candy wrappers (or something like that - I'm still not clear), we gathered child and dog and set off for the magical world of trick-or-treating.

Foster went as the Hound of the Baskervilles (minus the glowing-in-the-dark, since Bree wouldn't let me spray him) while Otter went as... an otter, of course.

Our journey followed the path of our usual dog walk, with bonus encounters with Yoda, some princesses, a few zombies and the occasional unidentifiably clad teen trolling for candy. Otter met trick-or-treating with equal shares confusion and curiosity. At the first house, after staring blankly at the piece of candy that had been handed to her, she offered it back. Can't say the girl doesn't like to share!

By the end of the block, she'd gotten the hang of it though. Not only was she reaching in and grabbing loot like a champ, she was actually going for the good stuff (mom thanks you for the extra Reece's Peanut Butter Cups you scored, baby)!

Our journey was short-lived. The weather was about 20 degrees north of autumnal, while the otter suit was designed to keep babies snug in sub-polar regions. So after hitting about 6 houses, a hot and slightly damp Otter was brought home and summarily deposited in the bath. And offered her very first Kit-Kat.

As she sat in the tub, chocolate smeared all over her slightly-dazed face, I had to laugh. "This is what ladies do," I told her. "Sit in the bath and eat bon-bons."

Was I teaching my girl to embrace gender stereotypes? Would she be bouncing off walls instead of drifting off to sleep? Who cares? It's Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I admit it - for a while, I suspected my child might be part rodent. That her 2 bottom teeth would remain her only means of chewing, growing for her whole life, and requiring her to gnaw on furniture to keep them from growing too far.

While all our baby friends sprouted incisors and molars, Otter teethed with a vengence, drooling, chewing, sucking and being cranky with absolutely nothing to show for her suffering.

But today - oh joy of joys - as I flipped her upside down, I saw them. Not one but BOTH of her front top teeth peeking out! In days, we'll have doubled our tooth supply. Not bad for a few weeks' work.

16 to go...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things I Miss While At Work

Bath time.
Otter is undressed, ready to go.
Susana realizes the bath is in backwards, and puts Otter down so she can fix it.
Otter uses this time to pee on the floor.

She then takes our blue kitchen towel and starts wiping the floor.

Monday, October 26, 2009

14 Months

Walking, talking, climbing, laughing, screaming, kicking, opinionated.

When you yawn, she says "wa wa wa wa wa."
All animals are "doggie."
Bananas are "nanana."
Her smaller board books are "gapty gapty ga" - though we're not sure what that means.
She "moos" at cows and loves ducks and tigers.
Monkey is her go-to guy.

She dances, and claps, and climbs on piles of her books to reach shelves she shouldn't. She rearranges our DVDs, sorts laundry, loves to smell her socks (both dirty and clean) and wipe the floor with dish towels.

She loves being swung inside the laundry basket and climb all over the bed. She hates having her feet covered by blankets.

Somehow, we blinked, and she grew into a little human girl.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I'm not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I'm pretty sure that Children's Television Workshop is practicing an insidious form of mind control over babies everywhere. No, I'm not talking about their stealthily teaching letters and number to unsuspecting toddlers. I'm talking Elmo and the subliminal messages to love him that are sent to all children from the moment they exit the womb. There is no other way I can explain the love that has spontaneously sprung up between Otter and the fuzzy red muppet.

My own feelings for Elmo aside (and I quite enjoy the little guy, especially once I learned that he is voiced by a fairly large and imposing looking black dude, which entertains me to no end), I've always been a little disturbed by the cult status the puppet holds in the 2-8 year-old set. There was no Elmo when I was a kid, yet in the last 15 years, he's somehow clawed his way to the top of the Sesame Street food chain, trampling the likes of Grover, Big Bird and even Kermit in his wake.

It can't be as simple as TV exposure - Otter has yet to see one episode of Sesame Street. Attending her first Elmo themed birthday party came and went without any recognition on her part. And Elmo's presence in our house was long limited to one toy that was a hand-me-down from a coworker. For months, Hug Me Elmo (or whatever this model is) hung out, attracting minimal attention.

And then, something imperceptible shifted. I'll never know what it was, but suddenly Otter's night-time routine began revolving around the song Elmo sings when pressing his hand. It goes something like this (sung in his reedy voice to the tune of "Are You Sleeping"):

Elmo loves you, Elmo loves you.
Yes he does. Yes he does.
Show him all your lo-ove,
Give him a big hu-ug.
La la la. La la la.

Now Otter sits and rocks, moaning and whimpering until the song is played again. And again. And again. And just when you think she's had her fill and moved on to something else, Elmo (who's been lying quietly) blurts out "Bye bye!" and the process begins all over again. The only way to break the cycle is to un-velcro Elmo's back and turn him off after the song. And then distract, distract, distract. I'd like to think this is a passing phase, but judging from the overabundance of Elmos at Target, I fear that this is only the beginning.

Not that I have anything against him. He's just so...omnipresent. Back in the day, I had a pull-string Big Bird who talked, and that was as cool as it got. Walk into any toy store today and you will find Elmos who sing, hug, tickle, dance, make you coffee, vacuum and cook. Maybe I should get one for myself...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Choked Up

Otter's a choker. Even before she started eating solid food, she'd find ways to take in too much, too fast and pay the price of coughing, tearing up, and, on the odd occasion turning slightly blue before hurling.

While the first few episodes were incredibly frightening, I've got to admit that with repeated practice, Bree and I have become rather blase about the event. Lest you think we're heartless monsters, I'd argue that keeping a calm, matter-of-fact demeanor has actually helped us deal with the episodes. We don't panic, but simply deal with the obstruction, reassure SB, and go on with our day.

Two mornings ago, Otter decided to up the ante. While feeding her breakfast, I turned my back for a moment to wash Foster's bowls. My attention was drawn back by wheezing and panting, which I soon discovered was my child suffocating on a piece of cereal. The usual routine of tipping forward and rubbing the back resulted in some Exorcist-style vomiting, and, after being reassured and changed, Otter was good as new.

My friend once told me that Cheerios did a test and proved it was impossible to choke on their cereal. I shudder to think what they did to determine this, and all I have to say to the makers of the cereal is this:

Either my friend was mistaken, or I've got a helluva lawsuit on my hands. If I was the litigious type...


We'd all like to believe that our kids are, at the very least, bright. No one wants to think their child is the dim bulb in the lamp. And yet, I've encountered a substantial number of unintelligent adults throughout my life. I have a hard time believing they were born with genius potential and simply grew...well, more simple with each passing year. It stands to reason then, that they were born stupid.

So what do you do if you realize your kid (the one you enrolled in Japanese for Babies) isn't bright?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes

Otter's been babbling up a storm. Some of it is even been comprehensible... So here is her vocabulary, to date:

Mama - meaning "mama," but also "give me" or "I want"
Papa - meaning "papa"
Nyum-nyum - meaning "hungry" and "good" (as it pertains to food)
Doggie - used to signify dogs and virtually all other animals. On the other hand, often used to identify dog barks, which is quite perceptive.
Night-night - goodbye
Uh-oh - not sure if she knows what this means, but loves to say it, and uses it to ID the "What Does Baby Say?" book that first introduced us to that phrase.
Agua - water (yeah, in Spanish - my child is multi-lingual you see)