Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Social Experiment

BVZ had to go into the office today so Norah and I went to the mall (on a Saturday, no less--clearly I was in the mood for pain). Lately, whenever Norah is in the stroller for more than about 10 minutes she demands to get out and walk and then after about 10 more minutes, demands that I pick her up and let her push the stroller herself. It is so annoying. So, I made a bold move and didn't take the stroller in at all.

We were only there to buy her some shoes and weren't in a hurry at all, so we did a lot of wandering. Norah browsed around and tried on all the Stride Rites at Nordstrom's and discovered her new most favorite thing in the entire history of the world--the escalator. She is getting her incisors and has a mild head cold right now (ie, she is back to eating like a bird), so I did what any good mom would do and got her some full-fat vanilla ice cream.

After that we walked around and I let her go into any store that suited her fancy. She was into: Victoria's Secret (there were these stuffed dogs in the window and at the front of the store that she petted and kissed); the Hallmark card shop (all of their Valentine stuffed animals were on display); 2 shoe stores; the watch store; Ann Taylor; The Body Shop; and wait for it... wait for it... The Disney Store.

I don't think I have actually ever been into a Disney Store before, so I thought this would be an excellent social experiment to see what items she was most drawn to. I didn't say a word to her, didn't point out anything or direct her anywhere, I just let her take the lead and followed her around.

As anyone who knows me is aware, when we first found out we were having a girl I was ecstatic, but then had a moment of panic--what the hell would I do if she liked The Princesses? It's hard to escape The Princesses these days, they are everywhere. On clothes, and toys, and DVD's, and lunch boxes, and luggage, get the idea. It's not that I am morally opposed to The Princesses (okay, I kind of am), but I feel like it's kind of a Pandora's Box. Once it's opened, you are screwed.

So, imagine my relief that immediately upon entering the store Norah made a beeline for the display of balls (yay!) and chose the pink one with The Princesses (doh!). But then she threw the ball as if it were a softball (yay!), but then ran and picked it up, gave it a kiss, tucked it under her arm, and carried it around the rest of the store.

Thankfully, that was our only encounter with any of The Princesses. She was really interested in the wall of stuffed animals:

And REALLY into Buzz Lightyear:

She got ahold of a pink Minnie Mouse golf bag with wheels and lugged that around for a while.

She then found a pink plastic shopping cart and was thrilled to walk around picking stuff off of the shelves and putting it in the cart (she was not so thrilled when I walked around putting it all back). We probably spent a good 45 minutes in the Disney store today. Believe me, I am just as surprised as you are.

If Norah ends up loving The Princesses, I will love her just the same. I have no problem with anything she ever wants to do and will support whoever she wants to be. Except a cheerleader. Or a Republican.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Afternoon Bagel

Pam sent me this picture about an hour ago. They were on their way to story time at the library and stopped for a bagel. I haven't stopped smiling since I saw it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I have to preface this post with an explanation that I LOVE television. Love, love, love, love it. I like just about everything--from witty comedies, to cutting edge HBO dramas, to quasi-science programs (ie, 'Man Without a Face' and 'Half-Ton Mom'), to every single one of the Real Housewives. I don't discriminate too much (well, I can't watch crime shows--occupational hazard I guess--but PEOPLE come on! There isn't a magic computer with all the DNA that will spit out the name of the killer in 32 seconds....and I can't watch crap like 'Two and a Half Men'--I do have some standards).

So, it surprised even me that I would be such a hard ass when it comes to Norah watching tv. I read quite a bit about it before she was born, and as it turns out when kids are really young their teeny tiny brains can't process the fast moving images they see on the tube. While it isn't necessarily going to cause damage, they don't get any value from the language or images. As a result of my neuroticism, Norah remained tv free for the first year of her life (I say that with a slight hesitation, as I would bet $100 she watched either football or baseball with BVZ on more than one occasion).

When she turned one, however, we introduced her to the joy and wonder that is Sesame Street. She loves it. Loves it so much that we have to spell S-E-S-A-M-E when we talk about it, because if she hears the actual words she looks at us with those big, blue, pleading eyes, climbs up on the big chair and says 'Elmo' about 9,000 times. She and Ruby watch together during their snack and are in seventh heaven.

Since my time is so limited with her now that I am back to work 80%, she doesn't watch it too much when I am around, but every once in a while we will snuggle down together and check it out. The show just celebrated its 40th anniversary and I have to say there are a lot of differences in the current show from the one that I remember and love.

There's the good:

1. The celebrity guests are awesome. The show does a great job of throwing out a little something for the adults. For example, the actor Will Arnett guest starred as a hapless magician (you will remember that he played a hapless magician on the best show ever invented--Arrested Development). Sesame even gave him the same theme song. Brilliant.

2. The show does a fabulous job of demonstrating multi-culturalism. The human characters are of different ethnicities and various cultures are routinely celebrated. There are handicapped kids as well.

3. Murray Has a Little Lamb. Murray is a monster and he and his lamb (who only speaks Spanish) go on fabulous adventures together.

4. The musical numbers. There are some great sequences with famous musicians who take one of their recognizable hits and modify the lyrics. Norah and Ruby love a Jason Mraz song, and low and behold, there is a Sesame equivalent. We watch this You Tube video very, very, very often:

But, I also have some complaints about the new show:

1. Abby Cadabby. I LOATHE Abby Cadabby. She is a 'fairy in training' and her voice kills me. She is a crazy popular character, though, so she is on all the time. There is even a segment entitled Abby's Flying Fairy School and it is animated. Animated? On Sesame Street? That totally defeats the purpose of Sesame. They are MUPPETS, not cartoons.

2. Elmo. Don't get me wrong, I like Elmo. He's super cute and Norah goes bananas for him. But he is in almost every scene, it seems. It is definitely the Elmo show.

3. Baby Bear. He's the dumbest muppet ever.

4. Claymation Bert and Ernie. I appreciate the fact that the show is trying to progress technologically, but c'mon. It's the muppets. LET THEM BE MUPPETS.

5. Lack of old school characters. It is very rare that I see Big Bird, Snuffie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch (although he's there more often than the others), Bert and Ernie, or the Count. And remember that awesome dude who used to get frustrated and bang his head against his piano??? He was awesome! And now he's nowhere to be found.

This is another of Norah's favorite videos. You can't imagine what it must be like to hear her boyfriend Elmo say her name over and over again....

So far, Sesame is the only thing that Norah has watched. I have checked out a few other shows, but I am not into any of them at all. Barney is not even an option, I think she's a little young for Yo Gabba Gabba, I am not into the religious message you get from the Veggie Tales (nothing wrong with it, just not for us) and both Dora and the Backyardigans are way too annoying. I am open to suggestions, for sure--would love to hear any ideas in the comments. I did get her a Curious George DVD this past weekend, so we'll see how that goes.

It got me thinking though, that when I was a kid the options were so much more manageable. We never had cable (oh, the injustice of it all!) and so when I was home sick it was PBS or nothing. That meant, Sesame, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, The Electric Company, The Letter People, or that awesome show that I can't for the life of me remember the name of (it was a woman who taught lessons about the human body and health issues. One of the more traumatizing things I ever saw on television was her show on why you should never play in old refrigerators you come across at the dump--you could get caught in one! And die!) And if you didn't happen to catch them when they came on, you lost out. Now, we have On Demand and DVR and Norah will grow up believing that any one of nine million shows will always be at her immediate disposal. I never thought I would say it, but there's something to be said about rabbit ears.

I wonder how old Norah has to be to start watching the Planet Earth series? I could watch those lions take down that elephant again and again and again....

(PS. Thanks to BabyKaboom for posting this great Feist song. We had somehow overlooked that one, but thanks to Lilah it is now in the regular rotation. Norah asks for it by doing the dance Feist does with the four chickens back from the shore).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jr. Fire Fighters

One of the million reasons Pam is an awesome babysitter is the fact that she takes pictures of the girls during the day and sends them to me by text. It is literally the best part of my day to be at work totally engrossed in something and then hear my phone beep and know I am going to get to see Norah and one of her adventures.

It has been pouring rain all week, but Pam took advantage of a break in the downpour to get the girls out for a walk. The local fire truck was parked around the corner and soon enough, some firefighters were more than happy to chat with the girls and make them official Junior Fire Fighters. (Don't pay any attention to the fact that one of the nice gentlemen has a giant axe right by their heads....)

Norah came home proudly displaying her badge (a sticker) and insisted we put it on the fridge.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Na-nor and U-bee

This is what Ruby and Norah call each other. It's unbearably cute.

Going to the Gym

There's a new place in town for all the yuppies and their kids: U-Me. We checked it out this past weekend for free with our friends the Lahey-Jaffe family (they brought 3 week old Kevin--swoon!) and while we all enjoyed ourselves, there was no way we were going to pony up the $99/per month membership fee.

Blurry picture, but is there anything cuter than grown men jumping on a trampoline with their 18 month old daughters?

New Kicks

Good toddler shoes are shockingly expensive (like $50 a pop). So, Norah gets one pair per size and wears them every day. Any other shoes she has have either been gifts or I get them used. I have been dying to get her a pair of Converse, but I can't break my rule. I was stoked, then, to get an email from a mom in my neighborhood who has a daughter 6 months older than Norah and sells me her clothes on the cheap.

We match! (Don't worry, this is as far as it will ever go...)

The Library

In a feeble attempt to corral all of Norah's stuff, I made her a little 'library corner' in the living room. She has her big chair, and a side table loaded with books. She pulled up her baby stroller before she settled in the other morning. She didn't 'read' anything aloud to baby, so perhaps she and baby have some kind of awesome ESP.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eighteen Months

Norah turned 18 months right after Christmas and I can't believe we have a kid on her way to two.

At her well-baby check up, she weighed in at a lean 22.7 lbs (which is around, like, um, the 23%). She was almost 34 inches, which puts her in the 78% for height. She still has a big, giant head--I don't even pay attention to the numbers anymore. Less than a week before her appointment she had a touch of a bug (or something) that resulted in 2 days of disgusting diapers and a diminished appetite, so I am thinking were it not for that, she would have been well over 23 lbs. At any rate, I am trying to look at the bright side of things--she can be a supermodel and support me in the life in which I plan to become accustomed to....

But most importantly, she's happy and healthy and we couldn't ask for anything more. (I have come to accept the fact that it is perfectly normal for a toddler to eat like a teenage boy one day, and have 2 molecules of food the next. I get it.)

She's just a big bundle of awesomeness these days. She talks (adds a new word to her vocabulary almost every day), runs, twirls, dances, and demands that her music be played at all times. (And by 'her' music I mean the Dinosaur Song, a Grateful Dead CD that BVZ gave her for Christmas, and the latest Kelly Clarkson. That's her rotation.) She has the best sense of humor--and laughs at stuff that is legitimately funny (like farts). She's very into independently playing these days (thank you, play kitchen), and can entertain herself for hours (okay, 12 minutes).

She can't get enough of books or my iphone, tries to climb in the dryer everytime it is open, and has broken 2 portable CD players. She is so interested in how things work and is mesmorized by anything electronic or mechanical. She loves people watching, and can't get enough of other kids. She gives the best hugs and kisses you could every possibly imagine. She's a complete and total love bug.

She has learned how to take her clothes off, as well as her diaper, and spends many an evening after dinner walking around in the buff. She demands to eat with a spoon and fork although not much food makes it from the plate to the utensil to her mouth. She prefers a real cup to a sippy cup and now knows how to get a towel and clean up what she spills (which is a lot).

I am astounded everyday by what she understands. I was sorting through some stuff in her room last weekend and said 'Ah, Norie. What I really need is that empty box from the living room.' Next thing I knew she was dragging it into her room with a big smile on her face. I can't wait to exploit this.

It would take me hours and hours to describe all the neat things she's doing and how much we love her. She's the best part of my day, the best part of our world.

San Jose Children's Museum

On Saturday we had a GVZ adventure at the San Jose Children's Museum. It is a hands-on, interactive space for kids and Norah really enjoyed herself.

The most popular exhibit by far is 'Water Works' which is a series of centrifuges, air pressured pipes, fountains, and drains. The kids wear stinky little raincoats and go nuts throwing balls into the mix.

The exhibit is much bigger and more dramatic, but I couldn't take pictures of the whole thing because I had to constantly rescue Norah from bigger kids who mowed down anyone and everyone in their way. (As an aside, some kids are just assholes, and at that age, it's 98% the parents' fault, so I try to cut the kids some slack).

Thankfully, the museum's second floor is designed exclusively with the under 4 crowd in mind, and it was a little more Norah's speed. She went shopping at the produce market, made a pizza, and then rang everything up at the cash register.

Our favorite part was the toddler space with all kinds of science-y exhibits (if BVZ knew I referred to something as science-y, he would kill me. Good thing he never reads this blog....), giant building blocks, dress-up, etc. Norah and I built a castle--that she promptly knocked down.

This was the 'forest' with a quiet reading tree.

There was a fun bubble exhibit that Norah was really into it, but I didn't get any pictures because I was too busy turning her upside down to shake out all the soap she ingested.

The Cup

We were at the hospital for a long time when Norah was born. Six nights from start to finish. By the time we left we had collected at least four of these 'souvenir' mugs with the hospital's logo printed on the side. They are my all-time favorite cups--big, sturdy, and insulated (so water stays cold). Norah loves them too and has decided that sippy cups are for wussies.

She's remarkably adept at drinking out of it, and so far we've only had 2 near drownings.

The Playoffs

Apparently it is NFL playoff time. BVZ and Norah are very excited about it. Me, not so much.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A New Year's Celebration

Last monster post, I promise.....

After winding down Christmas, we headed to Austin to ring in the new year. I spent a considerable amount of time preparing for our trip, including at least an hour making and packing a lunch bag full of healthy meals and snacks for the plane ride (normally we fly non-stop, but had Southwest vouchers we had to use and so the journey was going to be longer than normal). Of course, I promptly forgot said lunch bag in the fridge at home, as well as Norah's lovey (bear), blanket she sleeps with, baby monitor, and other miscellaneous necessities. So, for a 6 hour trip, all I had to feed my child was a bag of chemically altered yogurt melts and a squeeze tube of pureed fruit).

Oh, and I forgot her thermos of milk too. Thankfully, when we stopped in LAX even though we didn't change planes, the flight attendant let us off for 10 minutes to scrounge up something to eat.

And it happened. In my defense, I had no choice. It was either this or she might starve. Sigh. I fed my 18 month old an Egg McMuffin. And then I ate a McGriddle (which was disgustingly awesome). She just kind of picked at the bread with cheese and then drank a ton of milk, so I am hoping this means I haven't opened a Pandora's Box after all.

The flight wasn't full (thank goodness) and so Norah could do a bit of wandering between 4 attentive adults.

We got to Austin and it was a cousin reunion love-fest. Trevor and Megan have DS games and Norah isn't interested in them at all.

We had a fun and lively gift exchange (thanks everyone for your generosity and kindness), and Norah got her new favorite thing in the entire world.

All I hear 900 times a day now is 'Baby, Baby, Baby, Baaaaaaaaabeeeeeeeeeeee.'

Trevor got maybe the most awesome present in the history of the universe.

A mo-hawk for Rock Band.

Megan proved herself to be an excellent and innovative baby sitter.

On New Year's Eve we held our annual cooking competition (usually it is on Christmas Eve, but this was the only time everyone was together). It is serious business. The day before the contest everyone draws a course out of a hat. We had 8 people participating this year so there was appetizer, 2 sides, 2 main courses, 2 desserts, and a wild card. Each person was then responsible for researching a recipe, shopping for their groceries, and preparing their dish. At the conclusion of the meal, everyone votes by secret ballot and assigns 5 points to their favorite dish, then 4, 3, 2, and 1, respectively. The person with the most overall points is declared the winner. Amy was the reigning champion with last year's pork tenderloin with mango chutney. It was game on.

BVZ made his traditional cosmos, of course.

The kids had kid wine.

Megan and Norah played a few duets.

And played some Super Mario Brothers.

Mark showed off his guitar skills.

And we remembered those who couldn't be there, but live on in our hearts.

Norah doesn't love her cousins much at all.

The kids got to watch cartoons while the adults got their party on.

First up were Amy's appetizers, a roasted red pepper stuffed with manchego cheese, and a fresh mozzerela and pesto layer.

Lynn made a spicy beef salad.

Poor BVZ. He had such great expectations and even purchased an electric fryer and made a tempura batter from scratch. He then battered and fryed onions, brocolli, and zucchini. It was a hot, hot mess.

Kristin was the wild card and did a sausage pasta in cream sauce.

I did a pan seared halibut with a pesto butter.

Mark did a slow roasted carnitas taco.

Steph did an amaretto, ricotta, and strawberry parfait.

And Andy did a cranberry and apple oatmeal cobbler. The greatest moment of the night came when we discovered Andy's cobbler ready to go in the oven. I casually asked him why it was all piled to one side of the baking dish. He said the recipe called for an 8x8 pan and he didn't have one, so he 'made' an 8x8 pan by squishing all the fruit to one side. As you can imagine, we probably won't ever let him live that one down.

The final product, served with Bluebell ice cream.

With the exception of BVZ's fry disaster (it isn't just me being mean either, he didn't get a single point), all of the dishes were excellent. But the most excellent? ME! I won! My triumph!

We watched the ball in Times Square drop with the kids (well, Norah went to bed about 9), and then played Rock Band until the wee hours of the night.

New Years Day was spent with more cooking, more eating, and more hanging out.

We thought Norah was just really into giving hugs, but no, she was really into wrestling. Trevor was a good sport about it because she gave him quite a pounding.

We rounded out our trip with a birthday celebration for Grammy and Aunt Kristin.

Thanks family for your hospitality, babysitting services, and overall awesomeness. I think we'll be back.