Friday, January 30, 2009

If Monk had a baby…

…he’d probably be a lot like me.

Like the other night, fearing that I’d dropped my handkerchief in baby’s crib as I’d laid her down, I went through the worst case scenario routine in my head. If her little hands find the hankie and it gets over head and mouth and then…This is why I crept back in her room an hour after she’d drifted off and tried to delicately feel around her crib for said hankie. Only this woke her up and thus followed nearly two hours of trying to feed and soothe her so she’d go back down. All the while my dead tired husband was just praying to be able to sleep himself.

And would Monk be able to take a feeding of the highly stainable mix of apple, banana and blueberry? I sometimes hold one of her hands so she won’t dip it in the jar and get the purple mixture on her clothes, hair, face…And as I spoon it in I see it go all around her mouth so have to keep using the spoon to “clean” up. And then there’s fruit gunk on the spoon handle from having dipped it too far into the jar, and oh, it’s a clean-freak wannabe’s nightmare.

And I’m pretty sure Monk would have called the baby soap customer service line, too. Because I saw a drop of her concentrated bath gel fall onto her tongue as I was pouring it into my own hands to lather her up. And though she seemed just fine I decided a call to the toll-free number wouldn’t hurt. And I’m sure the kind lady on the phone has heard even crazier stuff anyway.

Yes, if Monk were a dad, he’d be a lot like me- a nervous wreck.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Pussycat Doll in the making?

The other week I sang the chorus of that new Pussycat Dolls song, I Hate This Part, to baby during one of her whimpery moments. Guess I’m better versed in the lyrics to modern pop than Mother Goose. And voilà, as the French love to say, a smile appeared on her little face. So for a few days I kept trying that chorus to calm her down, with varied success. Later I played the video on Youtube for her, and I swear she started coohing. And then I started to think, maybe a six-month old shouldn’t be so enamored of scantily clad singers.

I know it’s still too early to get too concerned. But from the moment we knew we would be having a girl, we (but especially my husband) started worrying about how to handle adolescence. It’s true that there are just more things to worry about with girls. How can you teach them to be modest and discreet without dropping them off at the nunnery at age 12? My husband thinks encouraging her to be good in school should help her avoid some of the pitfalls of the teenage years. But I warn him that at the same time, kids who have too much pressure on them are sometimes the first to rebel.

Another aspect of raising a girl that concerns me is showing her that she can (well, needs to) be independent and not let other people tell her what a girl can or can’t do. Then I start to wonder if I’m really a good role model for this. Lately my own plucky streak has gone into hiding. What good will that be in teaching her how to be a strong woman? Maybe I could learn a thing or two from those Pussycat Dolls myself…

In the meantime, I guess I’ll brush up on the lyrics to those good old nursery rhymes. What kind of feminist message is there in Mary Had a Little Lamb?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The 2009 baby diet

In this two-part interview from late December, baby talks about her love of carrots, and how this led her to create the fabulous new purée diet that all the babies are going gaga over.

Then she demonstrates, with the help of papa, how to eat green bean purée and ask for more.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The early bird gets the clean nest

It’s 5:55 a.m. and my alarm will go off in five minutes. I choose to snuggle up to my husband for those five extra minutes and will myself not to open my eyes to glance at the clock. I’m already thinking about the next time I can sleep. What will I get done today on my perpetually unfinished list? I know the Tata Marie’s and ladies like my mother-in-law are up now or will be soon and they’ll accomplish loads. Tata will go to the bakery for her daily baguette at 6:30 and maybe wash her hall floor before receiving her little brood of children. My mother-in-law will get her lunch cooking and simmering before 8. Tata thinks she’s late if her pork is sautéing at 11. They would shudder to see my “organization” of heating up leftover pasta at 1 p.m.

I guess I must face facts- I will never be one of these dynamo super organized women with a sparkling clean home. To be honest their homes aren’t always 100% perfect, but they’re still in better shape than my place on most days. I’m still feeling a bit of inadequacy since that fun run-in with my demonically clean ex-landlady. It’s like staring at the exquisite models in the fashion magazines and realizing you’ll never be completely cellulite-free with flawless make-up and trendy clothes all on the same day. I can’t always use baby as an excuse for not being up-to-date on chores and unpacking. Maybe I’m just not one of those neat-freaks. I read recently that messy people are often better off psychologically and can sometimes be more creative. Like imagine they’re writing a report and shuffling through their pile of unfiled papers and they happen upon something that sparks an idea for their project. That’s what the article said, at least. Was probably written by another messy person.

Then again, I know blogging, emailing and Facebooking (you’re right about its addictiveness, Crystal!) aren’t making matters any better. Should I really start getting up earlier to clean my apartment or should I drastically cut my Internet time? What do you think, gentle readers?

A French tradition I could do without

It’s mid-January and a client in the cheap-o hair salon where I’m getting my layer cut freshened up wishes the hairdresser a happy new year. “Oh, yes, Happy New Year. I forgot,” says the hairdresser. The retired-age client says, “Yes, I suppose we can keep wishing it into the middle of the month.” This is serious business in France. At work the salesguy sees clients and asks them if he’s “presented his wishes” yet. If not, then get ready for a sappy, long mini-speech that goes something like this: Happy New Year, stay healthy, may all your wishes come true, lots of love and money…” Ok, I’m exaggerating, but not by much. This little ceremony always kills me, because we Anglophones generally just say Happy New Year, and only until January 3rd at the latest. But the French are the kings of formality sometimes. Just saying hello in the office every morning can mean a round of cheek kisses for the girls, hand shakes among men.

But more tiring than all the wishes is the Visiting of All Relatives for the New Year. This takes place some Sunday afternoon in January when I could think of a million better things to do. I thought having a baby would shorten this for us, but we still spent our whole afternoon with my husband’s parents, hopping from one house to the next, three in total. Baby slept through one visit completely. Must be her American side protesting the tradition?!

I think I must be getting used to it myself or taking care of baby serves as a nice distraction. Of course, there are still some rather annoying aspects, such as my husband’s great aunt who blithely asked me if I’ve gained weight. Perhaps, I replied neutrally, though frankly I don’t think I’ve kept too much baby weight, aside from a kind of bumpy tummy. Then there are those conversation topics that never change from year to year, genre, the unmarried cousin and the teenage girl who is rather “strong”, meaning chubby.

At each house we are offered something to eat and for once I don’t have to deal with weird meats and blue cheeses. So the “menu” this year for all three houses: sugary cookies at house one, bits of cake and strawberry mousse frosting at house two, then two slices of the marzipan-filled epiphany cake and one slice of the roulage type “bûche” cake at house three. But even though I have a super sweet tooth, it’s a bit too much for me. All of it is doused with alcohol, except for me as baby’s still nursing and I was the designated driver for my little family unit.

Luckily we made it home by 7, and the good news is I’ve got a whole year before we start the thing over again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dancing queen(s)

Baby and I are getting down to this tune by Lady Gaga, Poker Face. (Warning, the real video is slightly more risqué than our version.) Pay more attention to baby than me, please!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

This is why white chocolate-covered Oreos were invented

For a first week back to work, I think it's been rocky. Woke up Monday to a light dusting of snow, and, more importantly, sub-freezing temperatures. My eight-year old car doesn't enjoy this and the battery made this all too clear. Luckily my husband was leaving to drop off baby at the sitter's at the same moment and I was able to catch him and ask him to jump my car off. But to no avail. Change of plans thus, and after dropping baby off, he drove me to work and bought a Black and Decker charger/booster for us. Poor guy hung around the office afterwards as I finished my lesson. But the next day, we tried out the booster and the battery still wouldn't turn over. So Super Husband sacrificed anoter day of work (luckily it's his family company and there was nothing urgent going on) and bought me a new battery. But then I could see oil was leaking onto the pavement. A trip to Midas showed us it was a probe that had broken or cracked and wouldn't cost too much to fix. But playing the prudence card, we decided I better not chance driving around today while we wait for Midas to get the part. Which brings me to today.

Luckily my classes were here in town, a rare occurrence, and the two companies were only a ten-minute walk from each other (even rarer!). The only hitch is these continuing bitter cold temperatures made walking home an adventure. Bundled from head to toe I walked along the sidewalks breathing in the nice exhaust fume and admiring the frosty landscape. The snow flurries went from barely visible to respectably flaky and then back to invisible that stung my cheeks. I debated taking the bus but would have had to wait twenty minutes in the cold whereas at least when I was moving I felt the cold less. So thirty minutes later I got home (and treated myself to those Oreos). With no car I'm waiting for my husband to pick up baby when he gets home from work. I feel guilty having her at the sitter when I'm not working, but there was no way around it. Chat's warming my lap and the sky hasn't evolved much from the gray of this morning. Is this whole winter gonna be like this?!