Sunday, May 26, 2013

Babyproof House

In my ongoing quest to baby proof my apartment there is one thing I have been trying to give Clara. Freedom.  I want the entire apartment to be her domain.  Apart from crawling inside the stove or the fridge, or putting her finger in a outlet,  I want her to be able to go anywhere and do anything.

My mother's biggest piece of parenting advice was "Never say no." I will addend this to "try to never say no."  I will have to say "No" if she foils my childproofing of the stove and tries to crawl inside.  Seriously. But I have made it okay for Clara to do some things in the apartment that I could try to forbid. 

Clara's current favorites are:

1) Pulling out shoes from under our bed and making piles of them all over the floor.

2) Pulling all the stacked diapers off the changing table shelf, and flinging the diapers everywhere.

3) Pulling books off the bookshelf.

4) Opening her one of her drawers and pulling out all of her hats.

5) Pulling open a door on our dresser and pulling out all my stored maternity clothes.

6) Pulling colanders and bowls off a lower shelf in the kitchen and playing with them while I am cooking.

Does it get a little boring putting the books back on the shelf, or re-stacking the diapers?  Well, yes. But judging by her laughs and coos and the tiny rebel gleam in her eye, she is having a good time and I can save my "Nos" for bigger, more serious things.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I have been looking for a lightweight umbrella stroller that I am able to carry up and down subway stairs.  I found a perfectly serviceable one on my local parent listserv for twenty dollars. After alot of elbow grease it looked, well, sort of dingy.  It had been extremely well-loved by it's prior, now five year old, occupant.  But for twenty bucks I wasn't complaining.

Flash forward to last Wednesday.  I received an email from  Now usually I skip these emails or delete them.  Who really cares that baby wipes are on sale this week? But for some reason I read it.  It said: Be one of the first 100 people to respond to this email and win a brand new Quinny Yezz stroller.  I looked - it was a chic, lightweight, and most importantly, new umbrella stroller.

I responded to the email.  I was so sure this was either a scam or that 50,000 people had already emailed that I didn't even put anything in the body of the email.  I just responded.

Imagine my surprise five minutes later when I received an email applauding me for being quick on my feet and telling me I had won a new stroller!  The one caveat - I had to buy a ticket to the New York Baby Show and pick it up there on Sunday.  I immediately grumbled - here was the catch.  The ticket was going to cost 100.00 or something.  But no - I went to check and tickets were only ten dollars.

I bought a ticket for Sunday, fingers still crossed that this wasn't some sort of scam to get people to buy tickets to the New York Baby Show.

So on Sunday during my lunch break I went over - and there they were - it was true.  I chose purple because it was CLEARLY the best color. It weighs ten pounds and has handles made for tall people, and best of all, Clara loves it.  I actually enjoyed walking around the show talking to vendors and finding out about new products.  I will probably attend it again next year.

I used to win raffles all the time when I was a kid.  School raffles, Girl Scout Penny Socials - I was guaranteed at least two wins per event.  But I guess raffle opportunities diminish with age (or at least until Clara starts school), so it's good to know I'm still lucky.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hand to Mouth

My sister Becky and I used to run around Riverside Park on the Upper West Side when we were kids.  Usually unsupervised, we dug for worms and poked sticks in anthills to see what would happen. (Exactly what you think would happen, by the way.  After your sister tells you its not a good idea, you do it anyway.  The ants swarm up the stick, covering your hand.  You drop the stick and run away screaming with your sister helping to smush all the hapless ants running up your arm.) We also hunted around for edible plants.  How did we know which plants in the park were edible you may ask?  Advice from other itinerant children, my mother, and my father.  Becky and I climbed a tree and at crab apples.  We called them "May Apples." We also ate the stems of what we called "Onion Grass" but were the green shoots from wild onions.  Our favorite was something we called "Sour Grass."  Not sure what it is really called even today - but I can still identify it.  It tastes a lot like an actual lemon - enough to pucker your mouth.

If we had grown up in the country or even the 'Burbs no one would gasp at this story - but we grew up in Manhattan and went foraging for sustenance in the same park where dogs (and the occasional bum) pee.  Not to worry - we only ate secluded onion grass and sour grass, as far away from dog pee as we could get.

Which brings me to my little girl.  With the great weather I find myself in Fort Tryon Park almost every day with Clara.  She crawls all over the place and I follow her.  I don't really blink when she picks up a stick or a handful of grass to put in her mouth.  Earlier today I showed her a piece of clover. (also tasty).  I was trying to distract her from eating an old brown leaf instead.  It worked.

I know I survived years of eating grass.  Becky ate handfuls of sand out of the sandbox and she's still alive.  But because Clara is my baby I worry...then try not to worry and let her explore.  Babies are very resilient, and they do have some common sense.  When Clara put a small piece of dirt in her mouth today, she made a disgusted face, and spit it out.  Bravo, Clara.  I will try to find you some Sour Grass one of these days.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Baby You Can Handle.

While I was pregnant the most comforting piece of advice I got from veteran moms and grandmothers was: "You get the baby you can handle."  I wasn't sure what I could handle so if these wise women were right I would give birth to a self sufficient, walking and talking baby preferably with her own income.

Instead, we got totally helpless, totally reliant on two adults named Gerald and Jeannine,  totally beautiful Clara Jane.  Since becoming a mom I have commiserated with many other moms about the trials and tribulations of being a new parent and all the issues that come with caring for a growing baby.  So if it's true that you get the baby you can handle, this is the baby we could handle.

Clara had no problem switching from the breast to the bottle, which allowed Gerald to help me at night when we were feeding newborn Clara every two hours and we were trying to give each other each a connected four hours of sleep each night.

Clara hated tummy time with a passion and did not learn to roll over very well which is a milestone pediatricians look for but has become an early crawler an creeper regardless of missed tummy time.

She has had relatively little trouble with teething (knock on wood), and is currently cutting teeth number four and five.

She had no adverse reaction to vaccinations and I think I was more upset about her getting shots than she was.

Apart from one day of sniffles, she has not been ill.

She did have a terrible time with gas for about 3 months - crying, leg pumping woe.  But we found a homeopathic remedy called Colic Calm and it eased her trouble considerably.

She has taken to solid food with a passion.  Apart from an abject hatred of broccoli she pretty much will eat anything we give her.

We transitioned her into her crib and her own bedroom at 3 and a half months, and she was fine with it.  I, on the other hand, had the separation anxiety and heart palpitations in her stead.

It has taken her longer to sleep through the night than most babies I have heard about but as of 2 weeks ago she has begun to sleep through the entire night.  7pm to 6 am.

So if the old saying is true, the baby Gerald and I could handle was (and is) an easy baby.   Not sure what that says about me and Gerald, but I am forever grateful.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Nightmares realized...

So in all my well laid plans about childproofing, Gerald and I decided that we would make the entire apartment baby-crawler friendly.  The only room I wanted to keep off limits for a while was the bathroom.  My logic was that Clara is still a bit wobbly and I didn't want her falling down in a room full of hard surfaces.

So I have been practicing remembering to keep the bathroom door shut.  It was working pretty well until yesterday.  I got home with Clara and Gerald had to go out and find his mother, Susan who was lost getting to our apartment.  I was a bit distracted and ended up leaving the bathroom door open.

Clara was in her room playing (so I thought) and I was picking up around the apartment.  I walked back towards Clara's room to check on her and was presented with this scenario:

Clara was standing, in the bathroom, holding onto the rim of the toilet bowl.  One hand was holding on - inside the bowl - (UGH!) and the other hand was happily waving around the toilet brush!!!!! (DOUBLE UGH!)

If all my free-from fears of Clara getting sick or hurt due to some negligence on my part could resolve themselves into one picture - this would have been the picture.  Instead,  it was my reality in that moment, and what I did was laugh really hard.

I swopped Clara up in my arms, divesting her of the toilet brush in the process and shut the bathroom door.

Lesson learned? Babies will get into whatever it is you don't want them find/touch/eat.  And they will smile while doing it.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Babbles that sounds a lot like words.

Clara talks a lot.  Or makes noises.  Or both.  From the time she was very little (to be honest, she's still little) she has been very focused on me and her dad and her other family when they talk.  She intently watches our mouths moving and I can almost see her brain learning and storing away the information for future use.

I believe that babies can understand a lot of what we say.  They can interpret tone of voice and understand words.  At nearly 10 months, Clara responds to the sound of her name and whenever Gerald or I exclaim: "Yay!" in response to something  she has done (which is pretty often), Clara takes that as her cue to smile and start clapping her hands.  She has connected the word "Yay" to applause.  I think that is pretty awesome.

Clara also says "Wow" a lot.  It's one of her sounds.  Does she know it means "an exclamation of surprise, wonder, pleasure?"  I don't know.  But it seems like she does.

She also says Ma for me.  And happily says Dada whenever her Dad isn't around so Gerald has yet to hear it from her directly.

But then there's the more advanced words she seems to be saying which I think she's too young to be able to do.  Is it happenstance?  Once, yes.  But she has said most of these words more than once, so the mystery lingers on.

When her grandmother said: "I'm sorry" after dropping a spoon.  Clara said: "Uh-oh."

Clara often says: "Hello" when you say hello to her.  Or sometimes initiates it on her own.  Is she repeating a sound she's hearing or comprehending that "hello" is a greeting?

Then there's the more ridiculous instances, one where her Nana said, when handing her a toy: "Here you go." and Clara handed it back and said: "Here you go."

Or yesterday, when my sister caught her on film apparently saying: "Thank you."

She's so little it seems ridiculous and wonderful...and it's a mystery only she knows the answer to. Maybe I should just ask her.  She might surprise me and answer.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

From Zero to Pro.

One day, Clara started crawling and she's suddenly a professional crawler.  There was no testing the waters - say, crawling a few steps then stopping and taking a break.  Nope.  Clara immediately was able to crawl all over the apartment, following me from room to room.

I was positive she was going to skip crawling all together because she loves standing and pulling herself along the coffee table and the rungs of the crib.  But somehow she has seamlessly intergrated crawling into her repetoire.

I also thought my house was pretty well childproofed.  All it takes is a crawling, inquisitive baby to poke holes in all your artfully laid plans.  Oh well.  Now I'm running around the apartment adding more childproofing with a zooming baby close on my heels.