This morning, all of the muscles on the inside curve of my left arm were stiff — from the joint of my left thumb down to the elbow. I couldn’t figure out why that was, until I picked up William and propped him up on my left hip, as usual.

Oooooooow! The pain! The pain!

That’s right — my arm was stiff and sore because William — who is currently weighing in at around 20 lbs. — is pretty much demanding to be held ’round the clock these days. So much, that my arm is cramping up in my sleep.

It’s all because of his tooth, really. Yes, that’s right. Wimmy has a lil’ bumpy razor-tooth that took its sweet time emerging from his lower gum this weekend. Saturday night was a scream-a-thon; on Sunday he hurt so much that he couldn’t nurse well. He just clutched his gum and howled. Poor fella.

Oh — oh — and did I mention the bad haircut? Yes, another Baby Milestone that we’ve managed to botch spectacularly. Brian was convinced that the long wispies on Wimmy’s head and the downy tufts over his ears were causing him trouble. You know, getting food stuck in them and so forth. Moreover (and I suspect that this is the real reason) people kept confusing Wimmy for a girl. (Oh. No. Not. That.)

So, after much cajoling, I agreed to let Brian snip a bit. The results?

Oh, dear.

Let’s just say that there’s a good reason why we’ve never cut Eleanor’s hair, ever. It’s because Brian and I are completely lost when it comes to cutting hair. William now has a too-short fringe of fluff bordering his head that begins parallel to his brows, but then rockets up at a 45 degree angle just to the right of his nose. Did I mention how hard it is to get a 9-month-old baby to hold still for a haircut?

The ear tufts look like they got nibbled on by rats.

Fortunately, the whole experience was cut short (heh) when Brian accidentally scraped the top of Wimmy’s ear with the scissors. So not only did William go to bed that night with a bad haircut, but with his ear pathetically bandaged to the side of his head. Poor lil’ guy.

Why? Why did we do this to you?!?

At least people aren’t confusing him for a girl. Now they just say, “Oh! He got a . . . haircut!” Or if I talk about the fringe, they say, “Oh, good! I didn’t want to ask what had happened!”

Mr. Plow

Today I took William and Eleanor out for lunch with friends at Boston Market. William is finally able to feed himself finger food, so I was happy to supply him with a nice pile of corn, bits of bread, and macaroni and cheese. I was having a nice time, chatting with friends and consuming my own food, so I wasn’t watching each and every move William made. His food would disappear, and he kept making a grab for mine, so I’d keep giving him more.

It wasn’t until I took him out of the highchair that I learned the ugly truth: a circle of food particles radiating around him, both on the high chair and continuing on the floor for three feet in every direction. Did any of the food ever get in his mouth?

It’s like he was a snowplow — how they appear to suck up the snow, when they are really blowing it behind them. William was a little foodplow: I gave him food, and instead of being consumed, it was merely tossed into the air as soon as it touched his hand.

Well, that’s misleading. He didn’t throw the food. I would have noticed that. It was just like he had become a little cloud at the center of a foodstorm, raining debris all over the clean floors of the Boston Market.


On the topic of babies throwing stuff:


Overboard! by Sarah Weeks — a bouncy, rhythmic paean to the baby’s favorite pastime: chuckin’ stuff. This book’s text is mega-addictive (“Slippy, sloppy, can of peaches / Yummy peaches, nice and fat / Peaches going OVERBOARD! / Good-bye, peaches! Splat! Splat! Splat!”). Sam William’s watercolors are Popsicle-bright and adorable. A read that comes very close to the chaotic deliciousness of any baby.

*OKAY.  For some reason, WordPress is being particularly stupid right now, and won’t upload my picture into this space.  So just go follow the link, okay?  I’ll try to add the image later  . . . (grr).

Loving and Leaving Pittsburgh: The Phipps Conservatory


Jeffrey and Eleanor were on spring break this week, and I thought we’d take advantage of the spare time to see the always-gorgeous spring flower show at the Phipps Conservatory. I always try to take some good photos of the kids with the flowers; this is the third year in a row that I’ve done such portraits.


So many memories of this place! It was one of the places I visited on my first trip to Pittsburgh, back in May 2001. Brian and I were absolutely enchanted with the butterfly forest.


Over the years, I’ve learned a few hints about visits — go as early as possible to get a good parking spot, watch out for puddles, and never never never pay them a visit on Good Friday. The crowds are horrid on that day.


Just before Eleanor was born, I took Jeffrey for a visit on that fated day, and it was so stressful. He kept dashing ahead of me (he was only 2 1/2 then) and with my huge tummy, I could barely keep up. There were a large number of senior citizens there, and I was afraid that he was going to knock somebody over. We were attracting curious looks, stares, and a few not-so-quiet “Humph!”s all through the gardens.


Worst of all, there were two particular ladies that we kept running into over and over again. Every time I had to beg their pardon, I could feel my face getting redder.

I decided to cut the visit short and get out of there, when Jeff decided to run into the gift shop to take a look at the toys and — aaa! — expensive glass objets d’art. Lo and behold, who should be there at the botanical soap display other than those two same ladies again.


But before I could apologize once more for Jeffrey’s behavior, they both smiled and shook their heads.

“Such a good baby you have,” one of them said. “Most babies wouldn’t want to walk that far without being carried. He went the whole way through without crying to be picked up once.”


I’m sure I wasn’t able to mumble much more than a thank-you before running off to catch Jeffrey once again. If only those ladies knew how much their kind words meant to me!


Jeffrey’s behavior has improved much since then. He and Eleanor were a couple of clowns for these photos. Whenever I sat them down and raised the camera, they immediately began to tickle, hug, and make silly faces at me and each other. They are such good buddies!


William, on the other hand, had a bad cold, so he didn’t get photographed much beyond this:


But he’s still awfully cute, wouldn’t you say?

Too Big For His Britches

I was nursing William on the couch a few days ago, and when I looked down, this is what I saw:


Hmm. Methinks our boy is growing bigger. At least, his toes are. I’m a bit sorry to retire this suit — I remember Jeffrey wearing it, and it’s rather snuggly. Even with the added bonus of easy toe access, it’s not worth keeping anymore. Sigh.


Last Sunday, Jeffrey and William spent a long time playing together on the living room floor.  I had to get a shot of them together:


Let me tell you, Jeffrey is WONDERFUL with his baby brother when he’s in the mood.  He had set a variety of toys out for William to play with, and spent about twenty minutes playing peek-a-boo and singing songs.  Jeffrey even dragged out his big Star Wars book from the library and spent time “reading” it to Wimmy, who was busy chewing on his own wooden baby-book.

“Look, Mom!” Jeffrey called.  “William and I both love books!”

Oh, happiness!

Later, Brian jumped down for another sweet photo op.  Eleanor was napping during all this, in case you’re wondering:


Now With Double Wrist Action!

baby-hand.jpgWilliam’s latest quirk is to rapidly flick both of his wrists whenever he’s . . . well, experiencing some kind of emotion.  He’ll hold up both hands and just flick flick flick, as if he’s conducting some invisible hyperactive orchestra.  People keep asking me if he’s learned how to wave “hello.”  Um, no. . . although it is tempting to fib and let on that he’s preternaturally brilliant.  But this is how it usually works:

William’s upset about being set down in his crib!  flick flick flick

William is in his highchair, and Mommy is bringing out the mashed bananas!  flick flick flick

William sees his favorite bead-bear toy being held a few inches in front of his face!  flick flick flick . . . and then grab

It isn’t an indication of pleasure or pain, it’s just . . . like the wrist equivalent of seeing gears turning in his head.  Like he’s experiencing so much emotion or thought at once, he has to burn off the excess via his wrists.

Happy Half Birthday, Wimmy!

cupcake.jpgYesterday William turned six months old, and we continued the tradition we started with our first child and celebrated his Half Birthday.  We made half of a cake, put on a tiny half candle, and gave him a “half present” (a sweater I’ve knitted for him that has yet to be sewn up — I’ve gotta do that tonight).

The cake was the Brown Butter and Almond Cake with Caramel Apples from Sticky, Chewy, Messy Gooey — the pretty little cookbook Brian gave me for Christmas.  Sadly, I misread the baking time, so it was a little too brown on top, but it was still delicious.

William did a fine job at blowing the candle half out.  Jeffrey and Eleanor blew out the other half, a task in which they found immense pleasure.

We meant to play “half” versions of traditional children’s party games — like “Pin the Tail!” or “Blind Man!” or “Musical!” but after cake and ice cream (and caramel apples that took just too darn long to make) the big kids were just a little too tired and cranky, and so we packed ’em off to bed.

Just as a side note, if you are a fan of half birthdays (or cute babies in general), take a look at this book:


Oscar’s Half Birthday by Bob Graham — some of the prettiest writing you’ll ever find in a picture book, with a topic that can’t be beat for cuteness: an urban family taking an outing to celebrate the baby’s first half year.  Darling.

Good Eats

baby-bowl.jpgWilliam crossed the Food Frontier this week. And by that, I mean that we spooned some rice cereal thinned with water into his mouth.

Poor kid. For weeks he’s been watching us with intense interest whenever we eat, always trying to swipe the cookies, apples, water, or what have you out of our hands. (The funny thing is that he would always move his hand slooooowly up to the treat, cartoon-character-style, as if that would prevent us from noticing.)

Finally, we set him in the high chair, rope a bib around his little chicken neck, and bring out the bowl. He kicks his little chubby legs, and makes a grab for the spoon, grunting like a pale pink monkey the entire time. I have to hold his hands down just so I can give him some delicious — wallpaper paste!

Seriously, have you ever tasted the rice cereal? Completely flavorless. Who can blame William for the look of disenchantment? Who can blame him for letting the stuff just spill out of his mouth?

I wonder if rice cereal’s similarity to glue is the reason why so many second graders end up eating paste in art class. (“Mmmm! This Elmer’s is just like the kind Mama used to make!”)

For his entire life, William has feasted on Triple-Cream Mama Milkshakes, served up hot and fresh on demand, but his introduction to the real culinary world seems like something an orphan would eat in a Dickens novel. Is this symbolic of Something?

“Welcome to the real world, kid! Here, have some gruel!”