Friday, November 27, 2009


An updated dictionary of SB's growing vocabulary, as well as her interpretations of the English language:

gaga - tiger
mama - 1) mama; 2) lemon
papa - papa
doggie - any and all animals
baba/nyumy nyumy nyumy - bottle with milk
mooo - what cows say
up - up
appa - apple
ba - ball
neow - what cats say
constipated poopy noise impossible to spell - what horses say (also what sea horses say)
mouth opening and closing - what fish say
sniffing - what rabbits say; also the smell of socks, clothes etc.
nana - banana
ni-ni - good night
naaaa - nose
maaa - mouth
agua - water
gabtey gabtey - what turkeys say
neena - nina (little girl)

The Stages of Weekend Feeding

Everyone has a multi-step program - AA, Weight Watchers, those grieving. And now I, too, have joined in, as each weekend I go through the stages of feeding Otter.

Stage 1 - Certainty
Saturday breakfast, our first meal without our nanny to run interference begins peacefully enough. Breakfasts are relatively easy, as they are chock full of carby baked items which go down the hatch with speed and ease. I am full of hope and positive energy.

Stage 2 - Creeping Doubt
Saturday lunch begins with cautious optimism, which quickly disintegrates as reality sets in. On a good day the first offering will be accepted. More often than not, it'll take three different tries before I give in and give Otter a slice of toast.

Stage 3 - Righteous Rage
Saturday dinner is usually our worst meal. I am at the midpoint of my weekend of culinary hell - 3 meals away from any hope of reprieve. As course after course is rejected I become angry. I make speeches about how Otter is testing us, and how we should stay strong. Occasionally I declare that we're NOT operating a restaurant and that if she doesn't want to eat what we have on offer, then she can eat nothing. Eventually I offer her a dinner roll and call it a night.

Stage 4 - Cautious Optimism
Sunday breakfast, and we're back on Easy Street. What's that Otter? You want toast again? The PERFECT breakfast food, if I do say so myself.

Stage 5 - Ambivalence
Sunday lunch, I start reminding myself that this, too, shall pass. At this point I can usually sneak in some chicken along with the bread, and convince myself that this qualifies as a well - balanced meal.

Stage 6 - Apathy
Sunday dinner, I am SO done with this. Let's be honest here. Otter eats healthy, well-rounded meals with our nanny 5 days a week. Starting tomorrow, she'll be on her way up and down the food pyramid. So I do not pass go, I do not collect $100. I hand her a piece of bread and chase it with a granola bar. The weekend is over.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks at 15 Months

Otter is 15 months today, an event we're celebrating as family joins us for an over-ambitious meal. So much has happened in the past 15 months.

We are thankful for our family, whom we love and who are close to us, some in person, others in spirit.

We are grateful for our friends, who comfort us when the aforementioned family drives us nuts.

We are thankful for every day that Otter sleeps until 7.

We are thankful for our nanny, who has magic.

We give thanks to our home, while asking humbly that the roof not leak to badly this winter.

We are overjoyed at our health.

We are grateful for all that we have seen, all the places we've been, and for the vivid memories of those things, which will hopefully sustain us for the next 16 1/2 years, until Otter goes off to college.

I, personally, am thankful for good food and good booze. Mostly good booze.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Otter Takes Her Game Up a Notch

For a while now, feeding the Otter has been a challenge, to put it mildly. The list of foods that are deemed unacceptable changes rapidly, and with little warning. One day, zucchini is the belle of the ball. The next, it's the redheaded bastard stepchild of the weird cousins.

To our credit, we've learned to navigate the murky waters with some finesse (which usually translates into us folding like a deck of cards at her dietary whims, but that's besides the point). We plead and trick, but manage to shove a portion of what we originally intended her to eat into her mouth - at least half the time.

This weekend, sensing that we were gaining the upper hand, Otter decided to up the ante. Clearly shaking her head violently, crying and trying to hit the offending food out of our hands wasn't delivering her message sufficiently. So, as I attempted to feed her the same spoonful of yellow squash (a favorite of prior meals) for the 8th time, SB changed the delivery of her complaints. No sooner did squash meet tongue, Otter began to choke (old trick). Then gag (seen it before). Followed by promptly barfing up the contents of her stomach. This. Was. New. And highly effective, I might add.

It instantly changed the dynamic of our meal, for as much as one can "nyum nyum," "look at horsey eat yogurt," and "look Otter, bread (while shoving in chicken)" through a meal, a puke covered child cannot simply be ignored or cajoled into taking another bite. But I was not to be defeated that easily. What I needed is to divert and distract while planning my next offensive. So after changing and cleaning her up, I ended the meal, lulling her into complacency.

I bided my time, waiting until Sunday night dinner to strike again. Originally, when discussing our dinner plan (something Bree and I do regularly, like a coach planning the football game) we'd decided on fish and (when that undoubtedly failed) going straight to pumpkin pie. But I just couldn't resist. After fish was promptly rejected, I needed to try one more thing before succumbing to dessert-for-dinner. I chose baba ganoush - Middle-eastern eggplant salad for the uncultured among you.

The spoon went in. A full meal came back out. Dinner was over.

In retrospect, this was not the best plan ever, a fact that I got to mull over as I changed a barfy child for the 3rd time that day. Another thing I got to think about? It's on. Otter's thrown down the gauntlet. And this is a brand new world, with all new rules of engagement. May the best woman win.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I HATE the Britax Marathon

The time has come to upgrade our infant car seat for the toddler version. Yeah, Otter she is a-growin', and facing the back of the rear seat for entire car rides is WAY out of favor. And the new chair is hip, it's cool, it's cow-print for god's sake!

Since I had watched the CHP officer flail at installing our original seat, and put the base in my new car (with far better results than the CHP, I might add) I felt more than qualified to take on the new seat. It faces forward, after all, the way seats in cars logically should go. I had this one in the bag.

I had my first glimpse into the extent of my misconception after we'd spent a fruitless half hour trying to remove the instruction manual, which was inexplicably attached by industrial strength bungee and screws to the base of the seat, making it virtually impossible to utilize. "This does not bode well," I opined in what was soon to be the understatement of the year, as Bree tried to beat the screw into submission. Fortunately, he had the brilliant idea to actually LOOK at the manual, which demanded that it be kept attached to the seat AT ALL TIMES, or we'd still probably be out there now.

Allow me to share a few key differences between the infant car seat/carrier and the monstrosity that is the toddler car seat.

For one, the latter weighs about 30 pounds and is bulky as hell.

For another, the makers of this thing decided that parents would be convinced of the chair's greater safety by seeing a multitude of straps. These straps and latches protrude from every angle, or are tucked away in hidden compartments and serve no apparent purpose.

Thirdly, the aforementioned instruction manual is permanently attached at an angle that makes it extremely difficult to read while lurching around with the heavy-ass seat in hand. Further complicating matters is the fact that one must cross-reference three separate chapters to get through step 1 of the 10 or so installation directives. You see, when every part of the seat is labeled "LATCH _____ (fill in hook, strap, release, etc.)" it becomes quite confusing attaching the LATCH _____ to the LATCH Holder to the LATCH Strap. You get the idea.

Mind you, I consider myself fairly technologically minded. I can wire a stereo, set up the computer. But this damn seat, with its straps and latches and doodads has my number. After another 20 minutes of struggling, I was ready to take a hammer to the ungainly thing.

Today, I did what any modern woman would do and went online to see if there were any helpful hints. What I found instead was a 12-step (count 'em, 12 - just like AA and about as easy to complete) video anthology designed to simplify the installation process. I didn't get far though. Merely 2 videos in, I realized I'd skipped the first step and done the second incorrectly.

Maybe this weekend will find me on my lawn, laptop in hand, trying to install a seat that, once wedged in, is most likely never coming out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saints Day

I've long been a fan of extended celebrations. Why should Halloween have only one night? So because it's one of our favorite holidays, and because Otter's 1st birthday party had been indefinitely postponed until it was silly to have it, we opted for a Halloween party.

Now we've had kids over before - usually one at a time. How hard could it be with a few more - especially if some of them don't even walk? And unlike our usual fests, where we kill ourselves We ordered pizza, bought trays of veggies and 5-layer dip. Susana made a cake.

Let me tell you - 7 babies is A LOT. Especially when they're screaming, bullying each other, running around like banshees in the back yard. Otter took it all in stride, making her exit to push her lion around the back yard when the action indoors got tad too intense for her.

Bree and I? We muscled through - barely seeing each other - until the last guests were gone and we fell asleep sitting up on the couch. Only 15 or 16 more of these, right?