Top of the World

Dear Cupcake,

Well, kiddo, we did it -- we all survived your first three weeks of living with us, and none of us are all too worse for wear. I know it can't have been easy for you, moving into a house with your Mommy the giant goober who suddenly got stuck on stupid and your poor long-suffering Daddy, but I have to tell you, you've been handling it like a champ and everything has been that much easier for us because you are so many kinds of awesome.

I can't believe how much has changed since you moved in. When you got here you were this wee little baby, so small and strange and foreign to us, and already we cannot remember a time when you were not a part of our lives. Your clothes and toys and stuff are everywhere, and it is always a special surprise when we find things in places we never suspected -- like the other day, when I found a pair of your socks in the refrigerator. (I didn't tell Daddy about that, so let's keep it our little secret, OK?)

Now, with only a few days left before your first birthday, it's like you're not our baby any more, but our little girl, our little person with thoughts and ideas and a mind of your own. Every day you try to do more and more things by yourself. Last night when we were with Nana Robbie and Pop-Pop for dinner, you wanted to feed yourself chicken and mashed potatoes and macaroni & cheese, and I'm pretty sure that's why you didn't eat very much for supper -- because no one would let you.

We worry, you know. You see Mommy and Daddy doing things, and you want to do them too, and that's completely normal, but we're not sure you're ready yet. We'll try to be better about giving you your independence, but please try not to grow up too fast, OK? Yesterday morning you were crawling around under the dining room table, playing with your buddy Owen and nomming on your own feet, and by the end of the day you were walking all over everywhere, and Mommy could already see you running off to college, and I'm just not ready for that yet.

Of course, you're an absolutely brilliant child, and I'm sure you've probably figured out by now that Mommy has a special talent for making mountains out of molehills, even if you don't know precisely what that phrase means yet. And so I hope you understand why I feel a little bit panicked when I look into the future, and after I waited so long to be a mother, to have a little person who needs and loves me, I can already see you growing up in front of me. It's very weird.

So I hope you will continue to indulge me for a little while longer, when we have our afternoon dance times, and when snuggle with you in my bed before and after naptime. I know there are so many other things you would rather be doing, like reading your Bee-Bo book upside down and playing the xylophone and pulling on the cat's tail and becoming President of the United States, but spending time with you is a kind of a big deal to me, and I want to do it as much as possible.

And when you see me with a goofy look on my face, halfway between total bliss and complete devastation, I just want you to remember what the Carpenters sang, long before you were born, but which explains exactly how I feel about you coming into our lives: "Everything I want the world to be / Is now coming true especially for me / And the reason is clear / It's because you are here / You're the nearest thing to heaven that I've seen."

Yeah, I know I never make any sense. But I love you anyway.
XOXO Mommy.


Duck Hunt

It was a nice day today, maybe the first "real" spring day, and so after naps and lunch we went for a walk. Great to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the house with the cats and the Leaning Tower of Laundry and the diaper pail (because, and trust me when I tell you this: deodorant garbage bags? DO NOTHING).

Was also a highly educational experience, in which I learned that Jesus Christ on a cracker, we have got to get a new goddamned stroller. I attempted this outing with an umbrella stroller, which was fine, I suppose, but my God, who are those things designed for, exactly? I'm 4' 11½" tall, practically a garden gnome, and I had to hunch over to steer it properly. Gack.

We went down to Memorial Park, on the Manatawny Creek, during one of the maybe 15 days out of the year when it isn't completely under water. They're doing construction down there, and it was very reassuring to discover that my child is not a complete girlie-girl, because she was watching the earth-moving equipment and making "vraw, vraw, vraw" noises for an hour afterwards.

Strolled across one of the footbridges and ran into two kids who had apparently cut school to go fishing. I didn't know that boys did that any more -- it was kind of trippy, actually. Plus, who the hell would fish in Pottstown, for the love of Pete? God knows I wouldn't want to eat anything that came out of these waterways.

Finally did with my daughter what I had always loved doing with my parents: fed the ducks. Not much, just a couple of Cheerios. But it was fun just the same, a nice little moment capped by the following conversation --

Me: So, Cupcake, what sound does a duck make?
Cupcake: (looking at me like I'm the biggest idiot who ever lived) Vraw.
Me: ... ? What?
Cupcake: (poops)

And thus ended our first outing to see the ducks at the park. Oh: and goose poop? Rank.


Cooking for Dummies (or, What to Feed an 11½-Month-Old [Not That She'll Eat It {Or Maybe She Will, Who Knows?}])

One of the things we're having the hardest time with, kid-wise, is mealtimes. I will be the first person to tell you that I have ZERO IDEA what the hell to feed a baby. I mean, we know that she takes three 8-ounce bottles of formula a day -- although she usually ends up wearing about 6 of those 24 ounces -- but beyond that, we are completely clueless. Her previous foster family told us "she eats table food," but that's such a weird and generic statement that it could mean anything, really. And it's not like we can feed her what we eat, because by and large G and I eat junk. (Yes, we are working to change that, but it's really hard to give up Little Debbie Snack Cakes cold turkey, you know? Don't you judge me.)

We're trying to use our judgement and her signals to determine what to feed her, when, and how much. I will say this about the Cupcake -- she is not a finicky eater. Not usually, anyway. She eats very well, and she'll eat pretty much anything. Not that she ought to, mind you. Parmesan garlic mashed potatoes + "tender chicken and stars" jarred food + formula with iron = REALLY NASTY STINKY DISGUSTING BABY POOP. Whoo, boy. And that is saying something, because baby poop as a general rule is pretty rank and vomitous.

All of our "resources" (our parents, plus other parents we know, plus all the parenting books and magazines that we have been able to scrounge up) have been telling us that around this age, kids want to eat what their parents are eating, or something like it, anyway. But they also want to do a lot of things on their own, which means we need to come up with "finger food" versions of our dinners. Like, the other night, G and I had chicken parm and spaghetti for supper, so we fed the baby some toddler pasta and sauce plus a cut-up chicken nugget, and she did great. Other times: well, not as such, no. Sometimes I really think all she wants to do is chew on her Crocs.

I also think we're having trouble because we are getting close to a growth spurt, if we are not already smack dab in the middle of one. Cupcake eats like a horse in the mornings, and she will eat all sorts of concoctions that I cook up for her. She has oatmeal for breakfast almost every day, and I mix it with whatever strikes my fancy when I am "building" her meal -- leftover fruit dessert or pudding from the night before, mashed bananas, applesauce, yogurt, jarred food that has other kinds of grains in it (i.e., rice cereal with pears or so-called cinnamon raisin granola -- all of which, by the way, looks and smells EXACTLY like applesauce, so I don't know how she can tell the difference).

Since she isn't really fussy, that gives us a chance to be creative and try something new almost every day. This is the closest I've come to "cooking" for the Cupcake. Today I combined oatmeal cereal, kids' vanilla yogurt, jarred mango, and diced toddler peaches, and let me tell you, she nommed that mess right up. (I would have, too -- it smelled just like a Rita's mango gelati.) She loves fruit of all kinds: we've had mango, papaya, bananas, apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, and "mixed fruit" so far, all with great success.

But when it comes to dinnertime, we can't always figure it out. We had Tuna Helper for dinner last night, and she had some kind of jarred chicken stew with Goldfish crackers and Cheerios and I swear to God, I never thought we were going to get her to stop eating. She didn't leave so much as a crumb on her high chair tray. Tonight? She ate maybe 10 radiatore noodles and a dozen spoonfuls of her mixed vegetables, hardly anything at all, and then she started thrashing around and throwing everything on the floor and just generally giving us a hard time. And we can't figure out the rhyme or reason to it.

All we know is, we must be doing something right, because the kid is a pooping machine. Lawd sakes and boy howdy.


Teetsie Weetsie Little Leprechaun Feetsie

G and I took the Cupcake to the new outlets yesterday to go buy her an Easter outfit. Yes, I know Easter is in less than a week. Yes, I know I am already a bad mother. Whatever. I have a kid now, but my life is completely the same as it always was except everything is different -- Mamasita still can't even find her shit, let alone get her shit together.

Anyway. We had a (very) brief debate over whether or not we should get a "Baby's First St. Patrick's Day" outfit -- verdict was no -- but one thing that was never in question was whether or not we would be getting Cupcake a pair of Crocs. "Thou shalt have Crocs" is my new First Commandment of Modern Parenting.

Shopping for your own kid is a very overwhelming experience, especially when you are me and you are the Retail Ninja and you are trying to stick very closely to a budget of $0. Everything is so damned cute -- it's like the people who run Carter's and Gymboree and The Children's Place and Hartstrings are deliberately trying to drive me out of my mind from the adorableness.

And most people who know me know that my particular weakness, the thing that drives me over the edge, is baby socks. I love baby socks. This is probably another one of those things that I need a 12-step program to deal with. Hello, I am rockle, and I am addicted to buying baby socks. Can't help myself -- I am the Human Garanimal, and I need to make sure everything is matchy-match.

But really -- when a kids' feet are so small that their entire shoe fits inside my little hand, with room to spare -- can you blame me for being just a little bit crazy in love?


Sweetness and Light

Some pictures*, by popular demand, with Mommy's patented Snark-O-Vision™ descriptions added as a free bonus. Enjoy!

1. Gone Hollywood. We have approximately eleventy metric tons of toys in the house now -- and that doesn't include the drum that Nana Robbie threatened to send down which is almost certain to send either Mommy or Daddy or possibly both of us straight over the edge -- and so of course her favorite plaything so far has been a pair of sunglasses that she found under the couch. Which are now broken because she tried to put them on the cat. Thank heavens I snapped this when I did.

2. Except for maybe me, I've never met a kid so aware of the cameras, and so I have been referring to her as Mommy's Little Ham Sandwich. This child is destined to be on reality TV someday -- hopefully I will be able to keep her off the trashy shows that air on Fox and get her on one of the classy ones like Survivor. (Yes, I will make sure that she packs a demure, one-piece, pixellation-proof swimsuit, because: geez, where are some of these girls' mothers?)

3. No snark here -- when she wakes up After Naptime, it is my favorite part of the whole day.

4. The Rocking Horse was a birthday present from friends of the other family. She's been scared of it, until today. Next steps: walking, and bungee jumping.

* = I know it's a pain in the butt to link through to see the pictures, but I'm not sure about The Rules and I don't want to wreck anything. Hope you understand and continue to tolerate it.


HG Friggin' TV

Now listen: we got a rug and a switchplate for the baby's room, so I do not wish to hear any more shit from you people about it, OK? Just gnosh on this for a while.


So Damn Lucky

Dear Cupcake,

Fifteen days ago, Daddy and I met you for the first time. Before that, you were just this little person out there in the big cruel world, someone we had always been hoping to find but never thought we would.

Fifteen days ago, my coffee table was covered with junk mail and unopened bills. Since then, your Nana Robbie and Pop-Pop and Aunt Jaime have eradicated dirt on the molecular level so the house would be clean for you to crawl around in.

Fifteen days ago, Daddy and I were just about ready to bag this adoption business, to call the whole thing off, to accept that our childlessness was one of those things we could not change, to resign ourselves to being an aunt and an uncle and maybe a godparent once or twice.

Fifteen days ago, I had no idea that it was possible to fall so completely and utterly in love with someone with whom you have nothing in common except a willingness to be loved and to love in return, an eagerness to play and laugh together, a desire to find a place where we belong.

Fifteen days ago, Daddy was not capable of smiling like this, and now he is, and so am I, and so are your grandparents and your aunts and your cousins and everyone who's come in contact with you, who's been graced with your presence, who's been gifted with your smile. You did this to us and for us.

Fifteen days ago, I thought the best thing that might happen to me is that I would win the lottery and be able to quit my job and travel and maybe get a maid to rid my life of its protective layer of cat hair. I still want to do these things, but the best thing that has happened to me is that the cat hair has been covered with a crunchy Cheerio-crumb coating.

Fifteen days ago, Daddy and I never thought we could be so happy, so lucky, so whole. We were wrong, about all of it. Because fifteen days ago, we met you, and I can't believe how much everything has changed, all of it for the better. Except for maybe the Cheerios ...

... no, even the Cheerios.

Love you,

PS -- Sorry about the missing switchplate in your room. We're working on it, pinky swear.


Gonna Be A Bright Sunshiny Day

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

Look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day



Spent yesterday at my parents' with The Kid. Ohmigod, such win and awesome! She was fantastic with everybody. We were a little bit worried because on Friday night we took her to my mother-in-law's and she kind of pitched a fit -- every time Grandma* came near her she recoiled in horror (yeah, kiddo, me too) and she was very weepy, almost inconsolable. HOWEVER: it turns out that happened because we are idiots who never gave her dinner. Fucking duuuuuh.

But yesterday was wonderful. She let everybody snuggle her, and play with her, and dance with her, and was just generally loving up on everybody. She went for a walk and took a nap with her daddy and didn't fuss even a little when we changed her diaper. She even my mother-in-law hold her, which was a great relief. We had a great day, and for the first time in a really long while, I felt like part of a family. Not that I don't usually, but ... this was different. This was my family, my very only personal complete and total family unit.

It was FABULOUS. Complete and total Zen. I can completely understand why people want to have kids.

* Not her real name. I kind of think what she wants to be called is kind of undignified, and I refuse to acknowledge it. So I'm a bad daughter-in-law. Whatever, get over it.