Sunday, October 29, 2006

Into the Wild

This weekend we headed to a beautiful house in the woods in upstate New York. I expected to see squirrels, birds, deer, maybe even a bear.

I did not, however, realize that sheep were indigenous to that area.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Party Girl

A few weeks ago, the three of us were invited to a pumpkin carving party at a lovely apartment in Manhattan. As is usually the case in our New York group of friends, Muffin was the only kid there. As soon as we arrived, I saw the food so beautifully laid out on the Muffin-level coffee table, and I started sweating. For the next two hours, Muffin was basically the toddler equivalent of the party guest who drinks too much, dances with the lampshade on his head, and spills red wine on your couch. She stuck her fingers in the guacamole, she triple-dipped into the salsa, threw half-eaten chocolates all over the floor, and managed to get her grubby hands on every clean shiny surface in the apartment. She somehow turned on a clock radio I could not figure out how to turn back off. Our hosts were wonderfully gracious about the whole thing, but I left the party feeling like I needed a drink. Aren't you supposed to leave a party feeling like you need to sober up?

On the way home, the Canuck and I debated if we would take her to an event like that again. I think there’s value in putting Muffin in these types of social situations, because how will she ever learn to navigate them if we don’t expose her to them? Plus, from a selfish perspective, we do occasionally like to do something other than deplete our NetFlix queue on weekend evenings. But Muffin seems to be at the worst possible stage to make these kinds of outings. Boundless curiosity – Impulse control = One Ill-Mannered Party Guest.

We’ll probably accept the next invitation, and I’m even thinking of hosting a holiday party, despite previous, um, crappy experiences. Cutting off these kinds of activities is so hard because the Canuck and I cling to the idea that we can still do cool things even though we are now parents. We want Muffin to know our friends, and to understand that while most of the time we live in her orbit, occasionally, she must live in ours. Also, we are very dim.

I take some comfort in realizing that we’ve probably reached the peak of this kind of difficulty. And we’re still standing, still madly in love with our daughter, and still on speaking terms with our friends. It can only get better from here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Math

Sally told me that Muffin could count. I thought she was exaggerating, which she has been known to do. I visualized Sally ticking off numbers, and Muffin blithely continuing her laps around the apartment and see, we're counting! Kind of like we're changing your diaper and we're putting away your toys.

But I was wrong. Muffin counts. Sort of.

Me: Wanna count? Ok, let's count. One...

Muffin: Doo...

Me: Three...

Muffin: Ooor...

Me: Five...

Muffin: Nine...

Me: No, six...

Muffin: Nine!

Me: Seven...

Muffin: Nine, nine, nine!

Me: Eight...

Muffin: Nine?

Me: Yes, nine...and ten! Yay! We got to ten!

Muffin: (stares blankly)

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Adventures in Self-Feeding

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

And Now for Something Lighthearted

In the past few weeks, we’ve finally been getting our parental shit together and crossing some big things off the list. We started using a financial planner, who will help set up a college savings fund and figure out how to afford another kid some day. We’ve contacted nursery schools – ok, one nursery school – about coming by for a tour. And yesterday we drafted a will, just like real-life Parent Type People do.

We figured out guardians for Muffin before she was even born, but it’s nice to make it official. We’re also setting up a trust for her in case anything happens to both of us. I was surprised to find out I have a net worth - me! – and we’re not just talking about my shoes. We got intimate with awful hypotheticals: Should Muffin get the money at 18, 22, 25, or 30? At what age will she start to resent us for controlling from the grave? At what age will she be too young and irresponsible to manage it properly? Right now money is simply a fun thing to put in your mouth to give Mommy a heart attack.

We also talked about a living will, which specifies things like who should make medical decisions if you are unable to, your feelings on life support, if you’d like to be cremated, etc. Since our families are an hour or two plane ride away, and would most likely not be there in an emergency, our lawyer suggested we let all our friends know about our wishes. I got the giggles thinking about that e-mail blast: Hey guys! What’s up? Just wanted you to know that if I am in an accident and declared braindead, no heroic measures should be taken to sustain my life, ‘kay? And, OMG, totally play Justin Timberlake and serve vanilla milkshakes at my funeral.

My mom recently reminded me that my parents tried to talk to me about their will when I was a teenager, and I wouldn’t have it. It was just too awful and morbid to think about, and I got teary as soon as they brought it up. This time it’s different. I’m not thinking of myself, I’m thinking of someone I love even more than myself. As uncomfortable as it is, making sure she’s taken care of is something I am only too happy to do. As much as this navel-gazing blog would otherwise indicate, having Muffin has taken me a little bit outside myself, and that’s what being a Parent Type Person is all about.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Games That Have Grown Tiresome least to one of us:

Moving Target Onesie Snap
The Neverending Story (because we never ever get to the end)
Tampon Pick-up Sticks
Honk the Boob
Passive-Aggressive Blanket Toss
What’s Up My Nose?
Guess What I Want for Dinner
Attention Monopoly

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Sometimes I wish my mouth had a backspace button.

For as long as I can remember, I've stumbled over my words when I am the least bit flustered. It's as if there's a short circuit in my brain, and the wrong word just pops out. Today I asked for a computer card instead of a computer cord. I say "you're welcome" before anyone thanks me. Even with close friends, I sometimes have to start a sentence 3 times before I can finish it.

When I do manage to get a coherent sentence out, I'm often kicking myself five minutes later for its substance. Recently I was talking to a mom in my building who had just returned to work after maternity leave; she was gutted about the decision. I babbled on about how awesome it was to be able to actually eat lunch when I went back to work, since preparing meals was a real struggle for me when I was home. But seriously, I liked going back to work for the lunch? That's what I said to recommend working motherhood? That doesn't even make my top 10 list of reasons why I work. I almost knocked on her door for a do-over.

That's why writing is so therapeutic for me. It helps me organize my thoughts. I'm often not really sure how I feel until I wrestle my thoughts down on paper and cut them down to comprehensible dimensions. If only I could hit the pause button on life, take a few minutes to sketch out my thoughts, and press play again, finally saying something eloquent, appropriate and maybe even funny.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently, because the conversations I'll need to have with Muffin as she grows up are looming before me, and I feel unequal to the task. At the moment, she only understands simple sentences so I've been able to tackle the big topics: "Yes, that's your vagina and your bum" and "Hitting hurts! No hitting." But as she gets older, the issues before us will only get more complicated and the message will be need to be more subtle. What will I say when someone at school teases her about her strawberry? How will I explain why she never got to meet her Grandpa Ken? How will I tackle why it's important for me to work, even if that means spending time away from her?

Well, at least I won't tell her it's for the lunch.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Last week as the Canuck gathered his things to go to hockey, Muffin started fuss. There’s no fooling her these days; she recognizes the signs of an imminent departure, and as the Canuck picked up his smelly hockey bag and sticks, she collapsed to the floor and gave us some serious lower lip. We both tried to tell her he would be back soon, but she could not be dissuaded to view the situation as anything less than tragic. I saw on the Canuck's face a mixture of sympathy and amusement (he's forever awarding her Best Actress for her theatrics). But there was something else: a glint of pride. Muffin has cried when left with a sitter, but never when left with a parent. Clearly parents trump caregivers, but what happens when it’s Mommy vs. Daddy? I never thought that was a cagematch I'd lose.

(For the record, as soon as he left, Muffin realized Mommy was kick-ass company and calmed down immediately.)

Oh, how the mighty fall. Earlier this week, I had to leave for work early, before Sally even arrived. As I said my goodbyes, expecting the same blown kisses and waves that I usually get, Muffin threw herself on the floor in hysterics. It's best to not draw out the goodbye, so I headed to the door. I turned around one last time, and her little mouth, blooming in agony, broke my heart. I heard her sobs all the way down the hallway.

I called the Canuck as soon as I thought he might be at work, and confirmed that it had been a protracted tantrum that could not be soothed by even the magical fuzzy pink blanket. Ultimately, she needed a few minutes on her own to calm down. By the time Sally got there, she was fine.

Now that I could stop worrying, I could start gloating. I see your minor cranky episode and raise you a full-blown meltdown. Who's your daddy now?