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Archive for June, 2010

Busy Body

Pulling up...

The bad news is, I think that the blog needs to be mostly photos from now on.  Boo hoo hoo. Miles is just too busy, and when he’s busy I’m busy.  There’s no time.  I sit down to craft an engaging lead, and right about that time Miles heads for the bathroom to make out with the plunger or decides to take apart the deep fryer. (Yes, we have a deep fryer, and yes, it is in open shelving at baby level.  Robin is Southern, and we live in New York City.  Deep fryer: required.  Space to store it: nonexistent.)

I’m actually really sad about the lack of writing time because I LOVE posting actual stories to the blog.  I’ve always been the kind of person who processed experiences by writing about them.   In high school, that meant really melodramatic poetry.  In adulthood, it means really melodramatic blog entries about trying to get Miles to nap or impassioned efforts to wipe out homophobia.

But hey, I also really like to take photos.  So if that’s all I can share on most days, so be it.  My goal is going to be more frequent posts with less text.  We’ll see how it goes.

The following photos are meant to illustrate just how busy Miles is these days.  And, ahem, just because I don’t have time to write doesn’t mean  you’re off the hook for comments.  Please comment!  It keeps a lonely SAHM sane!  Comment!  (Ok, pathetic pleading over, for now.)

What lies beneath.

 

Exploring new playgrounds.

 

...more pulling up.

 

Chopsticks.

 

Cake pans.

 

Don't bother me when I'm working.

 

Bubble bath.

 

Play group.

 

Come to Momma.

 

Making the bed.

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Robin rarely gets home while Miles is still awake, but sometimes it happens.  I’m usually in the nursery rocking Miles to sleep or perhaps rubbing him with lotion after his bath, cajoling him into his pajamas.  I’m weary from the day, savoring the rituals of bedtime but also ready to just be done with it all.  We hear Robin’s keys clink in the bowl and then tentative footsteps.

“Miles, Momma’s here,” I say just loudly enough to signal to her that he’s still awake. 

Then she rushes in, and he rewards her with an incandescent smile.

That smile.  It says, I love you.  It says, I need you.  It says, you complete me.  It makes each of us feel that our toils are worthwhile finally.  This small, astonishingly wonderful human has singled us out and aimed the total raygun of his adoration at us.  We are his world.  The love signalled and evoked by that smile makes anything possible.

Until, that is, he gives the same smile to the cat.

Honestly, I think if we could really communicate with Miles and we posed a question along the lines of, “Miles, would you rather be allowed to touch the cat for five seconds or save your moms from a landslide?” he would answer emphatically “CAT! CAT! CAT!”  This is part of the reason I’m dragging my feet on the idea of teaching him baby sign language.  Do I really want to know what Miles thinks and wants?  It’s so much nicer to live this charming fiction in which we’re his sun and moon, and Luna, despite her celestial name, is just a chunk of rock orbiting the household. 

Miles loves — LOVES — the cat.  Back when he used to nap on our bed, I watched him wake from a nap, roll over, see Luna, and beam beatifically.  Now that he can crawl, he chases her like he’s Pepe le Pew and she’s his love object.  She retreats to the top of the armchair and looks at him in horror, and he giggles fiendishly at her. 

Needless to say, Miles’ new ability to crawl and pull up is Luna’s worst nightmare.  As his territory expands, hers shrinks.  He advances; she retreats.  To her credit, she hasn’t taken a single swipe at him.  And she’s fully aware of times when he’s immobilized or not paying attention.  Then, she comes close.  But always out of reach.

It’s a fun little game to watch.

Gonna getcha.

 

You complete me.

 

Pretty please?

 

Catch me if you can.

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Kitchen Aide

Miles has been helping me cook dinner lately.  Throughout the day, in between his naps, we prep the ingredients for dinner so that when Robin gets home one of us can start cooking.  This has led to my favorite type of photo op.  The food photo.

Back in our pre-baby life, most of the photos I took contained Robin, food, or our cat Luna.  Sometimes, to shake things up, I’d shoot photos of Robin eating or cooking food, Robin napping with Luna, Luna sitting austerely next to a plate of food — you get the idea.  Since Miles has been born, it’s Miles, Miles, Miles, Robin holding Miles while Luna lurks morosely in the background, Miles, Miles, Miles… and more Miles.

Well it was only a matter of time until I started taking (you guessed it) photos of Miles with food!  I mean yeah, okay, so I’ve been shooting kajillions of photos of Miles eating.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I mean photos like I used to shoot, of ingredients freshly chopped on a cutting board or mixing bowls laden with deliciousness.

These photos were taken Tuesday, when we were making this recipe for Chickpea Pasta with Almonds and Parmesan from Real Simple magazine.  It’s very easy and comes out tasting like a particularly comforting, more gourmet version of Cup o’ Noodle.  Serious comfort food, and budget-friendly.  Vegetarians, you could easily substitute the chicken broth for veggie broth.  It’s kind of a weird sounding recipe, but just trust me.

Let me taste this bowl for you.

Can I chop the garlic, puh-LEASE?

Fascinating.

Garlic breath.

And one final bit of cuteness…

Chomp, chomp.

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Northern Lights

Traveling is fun!

Finally, I get to the Northern California portion of our vacation.  You may have read about how great Miles was on the plane, or about the Southern California leg of our trip already, or about Miles’ relationship with Skip and how much he enjoyed meeting so many babies.  (And you should definitely check out Stefanie’s blog about Miles and Mya meeting!) This is the third and final vacation installment.

After Los Angeles, we went to Sacramento, where my mom was waiting with SO. MUCH.  BABY GEAR.  My  mom is definitely ready for her first grandchild!  Car seat? Check. Stroller? Check. High chair? Check.  Crib and changing table?  Check, check.  Rocking chair?  Check.  Anything we needed for Miles’ comfort and happiness, she had.  She had even picked up some yogurt and bananas — two of his favorite foods. 

Welcome to Gramma's house!

It had been a long time since November, when she last saw him.  I was happy to reunite them, and they got along famously.  It was fun for me to see him through her eyes as she noticed all of his changes.  He was just starting to scoot around on his own but hadn’t begun to cover much territory, so we spread a sheet on the living room floor, plopped him down, and just admired him.  He rolled around on the floor with a Winnie-the-Pooh cup my mom handed him, murmuring sweet nothings to it.  He was just starting to say “Da, da, da,” and we all took turns interpreting.

Susie.

Miles was thrilled to meet Susie, the younger and peppier of my mom’s two dogs.  He erupted with peals of musical laughter as she sniffed him or licked his face or even just looked at him from across the room.  For about .2 seconds, I thought, “Miles needs a dog!”  Then I came to my senses.  More poop? Something else to take care of?  Noooooo.  Visiting dogs is just fine, thanks.

Although our time in Sacramento was relatively brief, I knew that Miles absolutely had to meet two important women: my mom’s Aunt Kasie and my dad’s Auntie Arlene.  Both of these women have been important in my life, and Miles’ birth reconnected us in certain ways.  Aunt Kasie has been reading the blog and sending me emails full of advice, excitement, and reminiscences of her own early motherhood.  Auntie Arlene has been sending cards with kind, funny letters.  So Aunt Kasie came to the house on Friday morning, and we sat in the shade catching up and watching Miles romp on the grass and attempt to eat a whole banana.  After he had a nap, we went out to see Auntie Arlene and her husband Don at their home.  She lived there the whole time I was growing up, and before she lived there it was my grandfather’s house.  My great-grandmother lived only two blocks away, and I have happy memories there of being with family.  Bringing my own child there was incredible. We talked and ate cake and fruit (Miles enthusiastically gumming a whole strawberry).

This country air makes me hungry.

Visiting with Aunt Kasie.

Hello there, Auntie Arlene.

Facing the Duke.

On Saturday, my mom, Miles’ moms, and Miles got in the car and headed to San Jose.  Miles, of course, shrieked for 20 straight excruciating minutes.  And, of course, about ten minutes after he finally drifted off to sleep, we blew a tire going 70 on the freeway, waking him.  (We were all fine, and the tow truck driver came and changed the tire.)  But once we arrived, all that disappeared because we were engulfed in love!

Miles met my (only) cousins, Jason and Nick, as well as Jason’s fiancee, Cera.  He was reunited with my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Barry, who had last seen him in January.  And he introduced himself quite exuberantly to Duke, their Husky.   Finally, he met  my uncle’s father, Morris.  Hmmm… my mom’s sister’s husband’s father would be Miles’… what?  We cut through the technicalities and got to what matters.  “Miles, meet Grandpa,” Robin said.  It was love at first sight.

Uncle Jason.

Grandpa.

Uncle Nick.

Aunt Cera.

My mom stayed the night, and Debbie and Barry were kind enough to let us invite all of our Bay Area friends over for the next day for a baby viewing and general hangout.  They whipped up mounds of incredible food, and we all took turns passing Miles around as guests arrived.  We saw friends who went to college with Robin, Daily Journal friends, and friends we’ve known so long we forget how we know them!  We sat out in the garden under the fantastic California sun, lazing in the shade of lemon and orange trees.  The number of babies and kids multiplied, and the food disapperared.  I found myself buzzing around, almost vibrating with happiness.

Quality time with Gramma.

Hil and Alda.

Kate.

The enchanting Maleah.

Inder, Joe, Miles and me.

 

Joe, all tuckered out.

 

Could we possibly fit even more love into one trip?  It seems we could.  The next day, we met up with our friends Jordan and Erica and their son Parker, who live in Portland, Oregon, and with our friends Rob and Kristin and their twin girls, Abby and Emma.  We picnicked at Lake Elizabeth Park, marveling at how much has changed since we last were all together over five years earlier.

Erica, Jordan, Parker, Momma and Miles.

That night, back at my aunt and uncle’s house for a mellow dinner with the cousins, I found myself unusually emotional.  (Or maybe that’s misleading — I’m a pretty emotional person.)  It was hard to imagine walking away from all this goodwill and affection and returning to Brooklyn.  Sitting in that Northern California kitchen, it was hard to feel the pull of my ordinary life.  Often at the end of a vacation, you’re tired of travel and weary of being in places and with people who aren’t familiar.  You want home.  But for me at least, California is also home. 

Uncle Barry.

Exploring tupperware with Auntie Debbie.

Now we’re back, and I think how lucky I am to have love, friendships, and stories in all of these places — Brooklyn, Southern California, and Northern California.  Leaving a beloved home to go to a beloved home: that must be the definition of bittersweet.

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Miles turned eight months old today. 

Since you couldn’t be here to spend the day with him, we thought we’d bring his day to you.

Breakfast.

 

Morning glory.

 

Discovering the bookshelves.

 

I'll just alphabetize these for you.

 After a busy morning he took a long nap (not pictured).  And then…

Lunch.

 

Helping Mommy clean house.

 

Almost time for nap number 2.

 

 After 20 meager minutes of sleep, Miles decided naptime was officially over!  So we packed up our stuff and took the subway over to my school to meet Laurie for ice cream.

This chair device is quite clever.

Then Laurie took some rare footage of me holding Miles.  So indulge me as I post a few shots.

Chocolate milkshake.

 

Love.

Finally, we went into a baby store called Green Onion, and Laurie went into a buying frenzy. 

“What does he want?  Does he need a bib?  Does he need this rattle!  Look!  A frog!  He’s totally getting this frog!”

The woman at the store asked, “Are you his aunt or something?”

“An honorary aunt,” I said.

Laurie kept grabbing and buying. 

“Do you live out of town or something?” the woman asked Laurie.

“No,” I explained.  “She just likes kid stuff, and we never see each other.”

After that it was time to go home and start the bedtime routine.  Laurie walked us to the subway.

Thanks for everything, Auntie Laurie!

 

Dinner time.

 

Bath time.

 

Pajama time.

 

Sweet dreams, everyone.  Thanks for sharing a beautiful day with us.

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Crawl Space

Up, up, and away.

He’s crawling!  Look out world, he’s crawling.

It started on Sunday.  Miles had been scooching around for awhile on his belly, and he’d even learned to pull up on all fours and rock violently back and forth.  But the mechanics of actual, belly-off-the-ground crawling?  Totally evaded him.  He just didn’t seem to have the concept that he should move his opposite hand and knee in conjunction with each other.  I mean, give a kid a break — it’s kind of a counterintuitive process!

Based on  how long it took him to refine his rolling over, I figured we had plenty of time.  Maybe a month or more.  I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing. 

But on Sunday morning, he took a really good nap.  You know how sometimes you go to bed with a problem percolating in your mind, and when you wake up you magically know the solution?  I suspect Miles was working on the crawling conundrum in his sleep.  After his luxurious 90 minute snooze, I brought him into the living room and set him down. 

He saw a toy.  He wanted the toy.  He crawled. Five actual, respectable, real crawling “steps.” 

Chasing the ball.

“Robin, are you seeing this?!” I choked.  We stared in suspense. 

Then he plonked on his belly.  Thought for a minute.  And got up and crawled again.

My first thought was for Miles: freedom!

My next thought was for us: babyproofing!

This is hard work!

 

Unstoppable, and proud of it.

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L.A. Story

The morning after our arrival in Los Angeles, we woke up … at 5 a.m.  Apparently, time change plus baby does not equal sleeping in.  It was okay, we had a lot to do.  A bunch of our friends were meeting us at Jeff Cain’s house for a barbecue.  Jeff opened his home and yard to us, and we caught up on life, love, and work while I made guacamole in his kitchen.  He is the kind of friend I see only once or twice a year — yet every time I do, I wish he lived next door to me. 

Our lesbian Montessori barbecue.

The day was Los Angeles beautiful, with just a few clouds for occasional shade.  Jeff’s house guests set up the backyard, Skip and his girlfriend Courtney played with Miles, and Robin and I put out fruit, chips, salsa, and little snacks.  Our friends arrived with babies and kids and stories to tell.  Jeff’s friends arrived,  many of them gay artists without children.  Some of the Jeff contingent, watching babies romp on blankets, said, “It’s like a lesbian day care!  But it’s okay — it’s a Montessori, so you can do whatever you want!” 

Miles didn’t nap a bit, not with so many babies and kids to play with.  We passed him around and talked and ate, and I desperately tried to spend quality time with these people I love and miss so much.  It was like being at a buffet, but a buffet of love and friendship, and I was that fool who tries to gobble everything in sight.  Max and Sachi!  Fenton and Amoret! Stefanie! Liz! Jeff!  Kevin!  Marissa! Babies! Kids! Gobble, gobble, gobble, chomp, chomp.

Miles and Amoret.

Pancakes.

The next few days passed in a blur of Mexican food.  We drove out to Whittier and visited with some of my old professors at Whittier College.  (They remembered me.  Aw, shucks.)  We had drinks at Hotel Figueroa, our old haunt, with Missy. We ate lunch at the home of Hugh, a friend and Daily Journal colleague.  We drove past the beach at

Dr. Joseph Price, a great mentor.

Santa Monica without stopping because Miles, for once, was peacefully asleep in his car seat.  (Trust me, this never happens.  “Babies love cars!” people insist.  This is another memo Miles never got.)  We cooked dinner at home with Skip and Courtney, talking and laughing late.

Finally, at Robin’s insistence, we went to the Long Beach aquarium on our last day.

Hugh makes us feel at home.

“I don’t want to go!” I wailed. 

“Why?” Robin asked.  “Miles will love it.”

“I know but I can’t!”

“But we used to be members.  We know all the animals.  What’s the problem?

It was true.  We had considered getting married there.  It was one of our special places.

“Miller!” I cried.  “He’ll be dead by now, and I can’t face it.”

Miller was the oldest sea lion at the Aquarium of the Pacific back when we used to go regularly, over five years ago.  At the time, he was ancient and had long exceeded the life span of a wild sea lion.  Instead of being dominant, as he would have in his prime at sea, he was a lovable old fart.  The young female pups flouted his authority and refused to yield the best napping spot.  He didn’t mind his has-been status.  In the water, Miller cruised peacefully to and fro with a look of sublime satisfaction.  I loved Miller.  I loved knowing he would be there every time, lolling noisily on a rock or gliding on his usual rounds, care-free.  But I knew he couldn’t have survived the five years since we last visited.

Underwater world.

In the end I gave in and we went.  Miles would indeed like it, I knew.  Robin clutched Miles in her arms, carrying him ecstatically from tank to tank.  We ruefully noted that our baby was more interested in the kids at the aquarium than the fish in the tanks.  However, there were moments of wonder, of Miles tilting his head back with widening eyes.  An otter playing inches from his face.  A school of silver fish twitching flashily past. 

And wouldn’t you know, the universe gave me a free pass.  (Thank you universe.)  Miller was still alive in all his gargantuan, geriatric glory. I admit: I teared up a little. 

Look Miles, it's Miller. He's alive!

I’m sure you’ve heard that saying that you can’t step in the same river twice — meaning that life constantly shifts, nothing is permanent.  Even if you go to the same place, it will have changed, or you will have.  I think I had this fantasy that we could come back to Los Angeles and step in the same river, sample the same feelings and friendships and places we left behind.  But we’re different — I mean, for God’s sake, we have a baby now, among other changes.  Our friends have babies or even big kids or houses.  We’re not the 20-somethings we were when we met working at a newspaper in downtown Los Angeles and fell in love.  Or when we moved in together in a house behind a liquor store in Long Beach, four blocks from the ocean.  Or when we would rollerblade to the aquarium and talk about maybe, possibly, moving to New York some day.

You know something?  I kind of like where this river is going.

Aquarium bliss.

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