Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Avian Queen

Last night we took advantage of Gaz's late afternoon nap to run errands as a family after dinner. The last stop was to Petco in our continuing search for the good kitty litter we used to use and can't remember the name of to save our lives.

As soon as we strolled into the main area of the store where there are animal displays several cockatiels immediately noticed us and kept their eyes on Gaz as we walked by. Then the parakeets suddenly fell silent as she and Mark lingered near their case. All of those birds stared at them, but most particularly at Gaz.

Of course, the rest of the small mammals (gerbils, hamsters, rats) couldn't have cared less about any of us and continued burrowing and eating and running in their little wheels. A couple of guinea pigs entertained us by running in circles while we waited in line, but I think the biggest Gaz fans there were the birds.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


Originally uploaded by georgiegrrrrl.
I had no idea that Fermilab had on its premises a prairie restoration project until Mark started writing this story (the sequel to "Improbable Times") that involves said lab. And naturally, as soon as we found out there was a buffalo farm just across the road from one of the particle accelerators there was no way we could stay away.

First we went to see the buffalo. We think Gaz liked them, but it was hard to tell. They didn't come very close and it was drizzling so we set about finding a spot for our picnic lunch. We finally found a nice spot with a view of the "A. E. Sea" (which is really a pretty little marshy lake), and so devoured our sandwiches and vegetables while Gaz tried to eat celery, but consistently gave up after sinking her teeth in just once. Mark and I ate more than our share of slobbered on partly chewed things she handed to us.

After lunch we stopped at the administration building, which has some public areas. The atrium was very pretty. A large pendulum hung in the center, tracing its path in a large trough of sand. Gaz had a lovely time walking around and smacking plants, then an even better time stomping around the back patio area. Then we went back out the front of the building, where Gaz took her first full-front fall on a non-carpeted surface. She came away with barely a scratch on one knee and stopped screaming in a shorter amount of time than usual. Walking to the pond in front of the building helped, I'm sure.

We enjoyed more nature at this pond (fishing is allowed in the ponds that are in the public area), including some egrets, a great blue heron, and ducks. Gaz was fidgety, though, so we hopped back in the car and headed to the Lederman Science Center. Most of the exhibits were either not working or over my head. Physics never was my strong suit. Gaz rode more or less happily in her stroller and then had fun watching Mark play with some video game in one room.

We drove up to the prairie trails, but seeing the height of the grass on the path and knowing how damp the ground was, we decided to save that for another time. Some time when we have a backpack carrier for Gaz so we can keep her out of the mud, or better yet, some time when there is less mud.

An educational time was had by all and we will definitely keep going back, at least until Gaz wins a Nobel Prize for something sciencey.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Gaz's first wedding

Lori & Dave's Wedding
Originally uploaded by georgiegrrrrl.
As a guest, that is.

Gaz was adorable and well-behaved and so personable she got some strange lady we'd never met before to offer us her expensive-looking wristwatch as a toy. (I declined, of course. No sense in ruining the party for someone who was probably a relative.) Of course she always seemed to want to nurse only when a photographer was about to get us, but I think we managed to be mostly discrete. She charmed and was charmed by all, I think it's safe to say. She had a hard time letting go of Izzy as we were on our way to the car.

[The wedding was lovely too, I should mention, and we continue to wish Lori and Dave every happiness!]

In the parking lot we dressed her in some jammies (a clearance onesie we bought in Highland Park when I realized that we forgot to bring anything with us well after we were on 94) and she fussed only a bit and then dropped off to sleep.

It was a good day.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Insert Pithy Title Here

Gaz and I are back from another whirlwind visit to Evansville. We got to see many people, but always never as many as I would have liked and never for as long as I wish we had. But you do what you can when you can, especially when working around naps. The trip was largely uneventful, but the visiting was wonderful and Gaz is having a good time with her new birthday presents. I regret that we left some presents at La Casa Rizen, but at least Gaz will have some good toys to play with when we next we visit.

Now for the news:

Vocabulary - I think we can add a few more words, even though they aren't all that well-formed all the time. These are: cat, dog, Proton (often Pohtahn or Tahntahn), car, and the sign for "more" which often ends up being her clapping. She understands an amazing amount of what we say to her, too. You can ask her to do things (bring me your pajamas, or give this to Grandpa) and she goes right to it. When she's not in a mood, that is.

Motor skills - Just today I noticed Gaz working her way around toys on the floor instead of just stomping around getting tripped up by everything. Her hilarious little sideways crabwalk sort of thing is paying off in the obstacle avoidance department. She's figured out how to work the corn popper, too, although she thinks it's also fun to grab the handle and slam the whole thing on the floor a few times. Not in frustration, mind you, it's all for amusement value. We're not encouraging that.

Higher Education - She now brings me books to read to her and if I ask her to bring me a book she'll grab one and climb up on my lap. Right now she's seriously addicted to "But Not the Hippopotamus" and "Opposites" from her Sandra Boynton collection (Thanks Mike and Terry and Dani!) but she's also open to other books from time to time. She's still hell on anything that's not stiff cardboard, so "Just So Stories" and "Knuffle Bunny" are being kept safe for now. I suspect it won't be long before she gets a bit gentler.

And in the annoying baby tricks department:

Gaz long ago figured out how to work the handle on the Diaper Champ, but now she's also figured out that she can put things in the opening. This morning I caught her putting the phone (!) in the top. She hasn't yet combined these two actions, but it can't be long now. If you ever spend any time at our place and suddenly find something of yours missing, it might be in among the used diapers. Wheeeeeee!

She's never been a subtle child, but now we can add something strange and new to her catalog of breastfeeding habits. She's been very acrobatic for at least the past six months, often climbing all over me in the course of a feeding. Lately she's taken to holding onto the other breast with a free hand while she's nursing. I think it's a security thing, as we've been traveling and sleeping in strange beds lately. I understand that she comes by this honestly; I was an acrobatic grabby child, too. My folks shared stories of my own long-ago breastfeeding antics. What goes around . . .

Since our return Gaz has been having more normal bedtimes and I've been completely wiped out so I can't enjoy the not-fighting-with-the-toddler as much as I otherwise would. Speaking of, it's about time to call it a day.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Christened and Gifted

Well, I spoke too soon in my last post about her sleeping well on her birthday. Not an hour after she went down, she was back up and stayed up until nearly midnight. Next evening, almost as bad. The night before her big day, she was up until 2:00 AM. Not because we let her stay up, but because she could not be induced to sleep earlier.

So apart from the sleep angst, Saturday ended up being a very good day. In the morning we had her nontraditional christening down by the lake, and in the afternoon we had her local first birthday party. Gaz was fussy in the morning and didn't nurse well at all until much later. She was pretty difficult until things got underway. Our good friend Greg officiated and pulled together some amazing readings. The theme, inspired by a quote from Mary Popins Comes Back was remembering and learning, or maybe relearning. Everyone brought little gifts that were symbolic of a hope or blessing that was wished for Gaz, and they were wonderfully thoughtful and creative and I'm still completely blown away. I mean, not that I ever doubted the creativity of our friends and family, but I had no idea what to expect. A catalog of these items will happen one day.

I don't think I can offer a fair description of the, and the video is lovely to peep but has terrible sound. I guess you had to be there. When all the readings have been collected I'll put something up here. Or somewhere. It might end up being a bit long. The long and the short of it is that it was beautiful, it was everything we wanted and more, and Greg almost made me cry at the end.

Then mad rush to get home, get food, get Gaz to nap (didn't happen except for the bit she slept in the car), get decorations up, get cupcakes (red velvet and confetti) set up, and get ready for people and presents to appear. And so many of our friends stopped by to partake of the cupcakes and to help us celebrate (again) Gaz's birthday. Some truly amazing presents were received, among them a couple of knitted nautiloids, a ton of clothes (thanks Grandma Cel and Aunt Hillary!), many wonderful books, a doll she immediately took a shine to, numbers and letters to play with in the bathtub, and so many more things, my brain cannot think of them all now. A big giant blanket thank you to everyone for showing up, for being so generous, and for being part of our extended family. We love you all! And thanks to the tissue paper we wrapped our gifts in, there's glitter everywhere, including on Gaz. Even after a bath.

After such a long week (I was working through all the horrible baby-won't-sleep nights, in addition to party planning and ceremony pondering) I can't claim to be all that coherent here, so feel free to email or comment with requests for details and I'll try to either edit this post or do another, spiffier one. I can pretty much guarantee that there will be more details on the ceremony later, though. Greg is typing up the readings we used for us. Wonderful, nerdy readings. Ursula K. LeGuin and Mary Popins and some guy who's poem I call the space prayer, but that's not what it's really called. But it should be.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Big One

Today is it, that bittersweet anniversary when we officially say goodbye to the baby days and hello to the toddler madness. Today it was too hot to do anything but lie around on the living room floor (okay, I laid on the floor, she did laps around the baby safe zone) and wait for the rain that has finally just come and brough some relief. Gaz and I took a shower to wash off the day's sweat (and the day's meals, in her case) and I was very pleased to see that she's figured out to close her eyes when I told her that I was going to rinse her head. No more freaking out when water falls on her head, no more flailing about when I try to wash her face. What a big girl.

We sat in the rocking chair nursing for a while, but when she was obviously done and obviously not asleep yet, I handed her off to Mark so that I could get out of my robe and into some pajamas. I expected protests from the other room, but heard only Bob Marley. I quietly came out of the bedroom, trying not to attract her attention as she was cuddled up against Dad's chest and on the verge of sleep. The creaky floorboards alerted her anyway. She turned and looked at me, then content that Mama hadn't gone anywhere too far away, she turned back to Mark's chest and promptly fell asleep. Amazing. Since she was out by 7:30 it's probable that she will wake up in a few hours, but that should still give me plenty of time to get some work done. I might even get an early bedtime.

The quiet momentousness of the day hit me this morning when I laid her down for a diaper change. She's been resisting anything but stand-up diaper changes ever since she figured out how to pull herself up, but lately (maybe the past week or so) she's not so violently opposed to it if I'm a) fast and b) generous with the comforting kisses and entertaining zerbets. So this morning I was changing her diaper and I looked at Gaz, her cherubic little face so different and still so like that little face I first met a year ago, and I had to cry a little bit. I quickly went to the diaper champ to dispose of the diaper so I could get ahold of myself before Gaz got concerned and started crying herself. We napped on the couch today and, apart from the blistering heat (yes, even indoors), that felt very much like those early days.

It has been a very good day.