Saturday, January 24, 2009


This was the day after our birding road trip to Saint Louis. And yes, everyone was tired. But still, I cannot believe this happened. We three were having dinner, Eric and I were talking, and then he was just like, Look. At. This. Maybe this happens with OTHER children. Other children who do not love to eat the way our daughter does.

We were carrying her to bed when she woke up for a few seconds -- just enough time to chew the food she had left in her mouth.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pushing Bla-Bla

BlaBla is the tag on the back of this fabulous doll D got for Christmas. The stroller, she got today. (No reason. We were keeping it till after Christmas.) I think she really gets it -- like, that the doll goes in there. She would sort of walk away from it, then look around like, 'hey, where's BlaBla, and then go back and stroll her over.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How to Prepare for Parenthood

My brother sent me this email a year ago. It's even funnier to me now.

How To Prepare For Parenthood:

Lesson 1: Go to the grocery store. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2: Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their: Methods of discipline. Lack of patience. Appallingly low tolerance levels. Allowing their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it, because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3: To discover how the nights will feel...Walk around the living room from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. At 10 p.m., put the bag down, se t the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 a.m. and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1 a.m. Set the alarm for 3 a.m. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2 a.m. and make a drink. Go to bed at 2:45 a.m. Get up at 3 a.m. when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4 a.m. Attempt to fall asleep, then finally give up around 6 a.m. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

Lesson 4: Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower bed. Then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5: Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this: all morning.

Lesson 6: Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime and stick it in the CD player. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies and mash them into the back seat. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

Lesson 7: Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is excellent). If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8: Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air. You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.

Lesson 9: Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying "mommy" repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each "mommy;" occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 10: Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirtsleeve, or elbow while playing the mommy' tape made from Lesson 9 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Monday, January 5, 2009


The thing about living in Senegal is that everyone speaks French. They all go to fabulous parties and have interesting conversations where they laugh a lot and toss their pretty little heads while shaping their mouths to form exquisite, French sounds. I also attend these parties, but since I can't talk about anything except the weather and where I'm from and whether or not that is an outrageous price for a kilo of potatoes, I usually end up at the snack table eating carrot sticks and drinking red wine.

It is a real trouble, not speaking the language. I was completely and earnestly into learning at first, but what has recently dawned on me is that, even if I get okay at French, I will not be good enough to make a FRIEND in French. To talk about emotions or interesting things, or politics or ... whatever. I'm very, very far from that. Years. Infinity, possibly.

But the worst is that it makes me so dependent on Eric. He has to call the metalworker about making curtain rods. He has to call the phone company because the internet is down, call the pediatrician to make an appointment, type the classified ad for us to sell our car. . .. But wait, no! I can do that!!! Because I've discovered ... BABELFISH!! You type in a sentence, it translates it to French. Type in a paragraph and it does that, too! So, I went ahead and typed the ad out for our car, Babelfished it, and published it online. (Watch me go! Watch me go! Who needs to waste time learning a new language?!) Here is what I wrote:

PRICE REDUCED: Honda CRV 2002, 100,000 km, Runs great and was very well cared for. Imported into the USA in 2005 and has all maintenance records. Gas, new tires, automatic. The car has diplomatic plates (duty free)


You can imagine my disappointment when I found out tonight that my ad is a laughingstock. (I had to translate it back for another purpose. This is how it reads:

THE PRICE REDUCED: Honda 2002 CRV, 100.000 kilometers. Short large and was very well worried about. It was imported in the USA in 2005 and has all the discs D \ ' maintenance. Gases, tires automatic and new, The car has the diplomatic dishes (of frankness)

I think I understand now why the website is called Babelfish. What the hell are the diplomatic dishes of frankess? It sounds like a good name for a jazz band.

There really are no shortcuts in life. Are there.


For some reason she thought this was really funny. I was acting like I was going to gobble up her food.

So the story is, a few days ago we were reading where our 14.5-month-old kid should be, milestone-wise (we rarely do this), and it says she should be able to touch one body part. I panicked. How would she know this? (I've never taught her any!!) Eric swiftly stepped in and within a few hours, she knew her nose. (She also sort of knows her ear, too, but that's a little touch-and-go, I think on account of it being on the side of her head like it is.)

The OTHER milestone we hadn't tried was whether she could feed herself with a utensil. (This was only to be tried by ADVANCED children.) So that's what this video is -- we started with a big hunk of bread and a dipping bowl of mashed spinach and potatoes, and she (obviously) caught on fabulously! Afterward, I handed her a spoon and a cup of yogurt. Voila! Mensa child.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jingle Bells

Red Rocket

For Christmas: A new toy from Grandma & Grandpa Woods -- a rocketship that goes to the moon. Who doesn't need that?! I must say, the hand-painted wooden toys Eric and I favor just cannot compete, especially because this plays eight different songs and she loves to dance, dance dance! She is playing with it right now, in fact, as I write. This is her with it on Christmas morning. Thanks, mom and dad!