Sunday, July 27, 2008


Eric is out of town this week, and apparently Dessi is starting to really feel the pain. All day yesterday we (the nanny and I) would say "Mama" to her, and she would call back, "Dada."


She is pretty funny.

We also took what they call a "potty pause;" for a week I stopped offering the toilet completely, and then this morning I offered and she went peepee. I clapped and cheered like a lunatic, but she seemed pretty unenthused about the whole thing. Maybe I seem too desperate?

Monday, July 21, 2008


Have you ever seen a chameleon crossing a road? Or is that just an Africa thing? Anyway, if you've ever seen one, you will recognize the gait here. Very herky-jerky. This was filmed yesterday, but then already today she was moving with agility and grace, practically.

The only thing I would say is, whose stupid idea was it to allow this child to crawl? Now I can't just put on my Yoga Toes and laze around on the floor with her.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Our baby is SO cute!

Dessi has started making noises of delight as I open and turn the book pages. Ooohh. Ahhhh. Ooh EEy ooh (pitch rising and falling). I laugh at her the whole time. Also, she tilts her head down and leans right to sneak a peak at the page that is coming next. It is SO funny!! She loves loves books. They are always the first things she reaches for, but I can only give her board books; if it's just paper, she crinkles and rips them, and I hate to see books getting crinkled and ripped.

She is crawling backward at a crazy fast rate, and she can do downward dog (yoga) all day long. Last night and today she crawled, like, a half-body's length forward, but I don't think she realized what she was doing and technically I don't think it really counts. She's also jumping-lunging forward to reach things that are very close. I personally think she is waiting until she can figure out how to fly.

We have gotten on a downward spiral for potty training, unfortunately. It was all going GREAT, peeing within five seconds of being put down on the potty at least three or four times per day, and pooping almost entirely there. I was really SO impressed. Then suddenly two days ago, she decided she didn't want to do this anymore. Now let me tell you, this is the most agreeable girl ever. So why she has picked this fight I do not know. But you put her on the potty and she arches her back and cries and protests, so that it is not worth it and anyway there is no way she's relaxed enough to pee. I am sad and so is Vallarie (the nanny); Dessi is fighting her as well, and we don't know why! We are going to give it a rest for a few days, see how that goes. Darn it, though!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Dakar has its perils. Driving on goat-riddled roads, watching out for pickpockets and scammers (I lost $75 to one, I am sorry to say), and now we learn of ... the blister beetle. Here is Eric, modeling his run-in with one.


Or at least that's what we think it was --he didn't see it, we think it happened at night. Their joints carry this poison, and as you brush them off your skin while they're walking across you, you spread it around (thus the long red marks) and, where enough of it leaks out, your skin blisters. It also burns like hell, I have repeatedly been told.

The pygmies of South America use blister beetle poison to whet the tips of their deadly paralyzing arrows, but we don't such toxic ones here. There are 2,500 different blister beetle species around the world. Including, they're in Florida. Which is where I grew up.

On an equally bummer note, last week we found out that we have mango flies in Dakar. Mango flies lay their larvae in the dirt or in wet things. So let's say your little puppy rolls around in infested dirt. The larvae will activate and worm through his skin and live embedded in there until they're ready to fly away. They actually eat his flesh a little. (This must be the purpose of being embedded; I do not think they bring snacks of their own.) But, the most horrible thing is, they can get humans, too! It happens most commonly when clothes are left to dry; the flies lay eggs in the damp fabric. (We use a clothes dryer or we hang our clothes inside.)

My friend Amber's puppy, Cha-Cha, was unfortunate enough to have many embedded larvae thingys when they first got him, she was understandably quite distressed by her task at hand but said I could take photos as she popped the larvae out of their little holes (the skin gets large and looks like it's a big zit that has to pop, but when you squeeze it, a little white worm comes out.) I came with my camera but the puppy didn't have any real poppage, mostly just white ooze came forth (we think she caught it early). Apparently, they leave a little breathing hole at the surface, and you can cover that with vaseline and encourage them to back out (for air), but I didn't see this. This is what I saw, but the photos is not very good; Cha-Cha didn't really like it and so squirmed a lot.


Anyway, disgusting and more disgusting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


We're still not crawling forward, but ... does this count for anything?


Everything is going very, very well here. Dessi just laughs and laughs all day long. Right now she is chewing on her new wooden stacking toy and rolling around next to me, smiling. It's early and we've just pooped and peed in the potty, had breakfast and now she is ready for her morning nap. Still sleeping 12 hours a night with two 2-hour naps per day, and the crazy eating thing has subsided a little; we changed her meals so that she gets one about an hour after each of her bottles (so, four times per day) and just one small bowl each time. This seems to have made her feel more secure, and I worry less about her gorging herself.

She just returned from her 9-month checkup -- 75th percentile for height, weight and head. A big girl! And this is with the American growth charts, not the international ones. I wonder if she'll end up being tall? Most Ethiopians are so petite.

We have a fabulous nanny, Vallarie, who mostly cleans the house for us (things gets dirty here really fast) but also is just a ridiculously good cook and takes care of Dessi while I work with the street boys or to French classes. Dessi loves her. We call her "Tata," which is Wolof for auntie, and ... I don't know, am I the only one who thinks it's kind of weird to have toddlers calling adults by their first names? I never did this! It was always Mr. O'shaunnessey or Mrs. Whatever. What about respecting your elders? When my friends started having children and introducing me as "Linda," I was like, what?! I'm LINDA?

My brother's kid does what I have been thinking of doing, which is he (the child) calls adults Mrs. Sara or Mr. Pete. I really like this. I may ask Dessi to do this, too. I am thinking about it.

Anyway, no, we're not crawling. I've stopped predicting when it'll be. I am excited for her to start because I feel like there will be so many more cool things for her to see and discover, but on the other hand, it will make a LOT more work for me, so, whatever.