Monday, August 31, 2009

Clash of Parenting Styles

            Michelle and I had a clash of parenting styles over the weekend.
            Friday after work we scurried out the door with a bursting car (kids add about 2.3x to the amount of stuff required at any one event) and headed to the beach for a friend's birthday party, complete with barbecues, a boccee ball tournament, and a late-night dip in the ocean. Anyway, long story short, Michelle had had a long week, and when we were just arriving she said to me, "You're on baby duty tonight."
            "No problem," I replied.
            But of course, my version of baby duty was quite different than hers. I think her version involved things like 100% focus on the child, feeding her, entertaining her, etc, etc. My version involved letting her roam around, because, "Hey, where's she gonna go anyway?" We were on a grassy field, with lots of friends who'd help if she was doing anything crazy, and what could she possibly do to truly hurt herself?
            Side note here, I did explain all of this to Michelle the following day, and the best she could come up with was, "She could've eaten the goose poop!" Yes, there was a proliferation of goose poop in the near vicinity, but I have a suspision that if the little sweetie were to try some she'd instantly know she didn't like it. And frankly, I'd rather she try goose poop than dog poop, or worse, human poop, to learn the lesson of what not to eat. Geese eat grass, and although their poo is stinky, I'm sure it's not going to kill my kid.
            Anyway, all this to be said, she ended up taking over responsibility for the baby, and afterward we had strained words about the event. For the record, I did apologize, because of course I could stand to be more watchful, but in the end (and I hope I don't come across as a typical male here) my overall impression is that perhaps this whole discussion was heightened because she's finally reached that "time of the month" again, after at least eighteen months.
            Yeppers, we can get pregnant again.
            Watch out Celia. I doubt you'll ever get this kind of attention ever again. Enjoy it while it lasts, because parenting styles aside, when you add a second child to the mix the firstborn gets less than half of the available time of the parents. Happens every time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ugh.

            She cried a lot last night.
            Ugh. Didn't get enough rest. Again.
            You'd think she was past this, because she already learned to sleep through the night months ago, but when we were traveling Michelle gave her lots of grace and fed her during the night to calm her. Every time there was a decent enough excuse for it; she was in a different bed every night, and started teething, and then got a bit sick with a skin rash and slight fever. Michelle just wanted to make her feel as comfortable as possible.
            The problem with all of this is that the baby obviously decided that she likes this way more than what we taught her earlier, which is to sleep through the night. So of course now that we're back and trying to get her to sleep through the night, she's just flipping out.
            She literally was freaking out. She was fed, and Michelle even gave her Tylenol just in case. Nope, nothing wrong. She just wanted the booby.
            In the end, after even I couldn't console her (I tried, because at least the baby knows she ain't gettin' no booby from me!), I finally gave up and slept downstairs on the living room floor. I got some sleep and a sore back.
            Like I said... Ugh.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Joke From the Chiropractor

            I went to the chiropractor yesterday. Hadn't seen him in months. He asked me how my trip was.
            "Nice," I said. "We had a great time."
            "And how did the road trip go?" he asked.
            "Oh, she broke down in tears twice, but overall did really well."
            "That's not too bad. And how did the baby do?" he asked.
            I laughed so hard we couldn't say or do anything else until the tears finally ran their course and my belly stopped shaking.
            Ah, kids. Sure, they cry, they stink, they fuss, but they sure add a good dose of humor as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How Guys Parent Different Than the Ladies

            I think it’s safe to say that for most women, having children is the biggest accomplishment of their lives. I say this because Michelle was reading through the booklet from her twenty-year class reunion, and some people filled out updates about themselves under the contact info. Of course, some wrote many pages’ worth, and some only a snippet, but under the “Accomplishments” section, it was surprising just how many of her female high school friends listed “Children.”
            I don’t think guys work that way at all. Don’t get me wrong, we love children, and we love being fathers, but we’re not so relationship-focused as women. It’s like, for women, relationships are “it.” That’s all. That’s all that’s important in life.
            If you were to ask a woman “Who are you?” she might say, “The mother of two children, the wife of a great man, etc, etc.” Ask a guy, and you’d get an answer that revolved around their activities. Work. Sports. Hobbies. Religious orientation. Etc. We’d never even think to mention our relationships.
            All this to say, I think women put a lot more into parenting than men. And I’m not trying to defend myself of anything here, because I do my best to be the world’s best dad, but I definitely see that Michelle puts way more effort into it than I do. And in fact, I think most women do. Which can lead to both positives and negatives. Let me explain.
            I took Celia on a run yesterday after work. We jogged around Trout Lake a couple of times, and as we passed the playground she got excited so I stopped and let her roam around. I did pull-ups as she crawled up to the gym. I did pushups as she crawled onto a ramp and met other kids.
            A mother was walking her fifteen-month old daughter along the gym when Celia went crawling past. Celia didn’t quite make it up a ramp, fell down and almost cried. I could visibly see the mother tense up and want to pick her up, but it wasn’t her kid so she didn’t. I walked over and watched as Celia sputtered back onto her hands and knees and did it again, only to succeed this time. I went back to my exercises, then checked in again. The mother of the fifteen-month-old said, “She put a rock in her mouth.”
            “Thanks,” I said, and peered over at Celia. “Where’s the rock, sweetie?” I asked her.
            The woman was starting to get agitated. How could any self-respecting father allow his daughter to put sand and rocks into his baby’s mouth? I knew she was thinking this. But Celia just spat the rock out, and I patted her on the head and said, “Good girl.”
            Then, I turned to the woman and said, “She’s had her fair share of sand at the beach. She’s learned she doesn’t like it.”
            The woman said, “My daughter always tries to eat everything she’s not supposed to. Especially paper.”
            I looked at her and instantly knew, now here is a woman who doesn’t let her kid explore the world and figure things out for themselves. And already the child is rebellious. At fifteen months she’s already doing exactly the thing her mother doesn’t want her to.
            I can’t blame the mother, because it’s like I said earlier, women are all about relationships, and since most women see their children as their greatest accomplishment, I think it’s a struggle to not put too much stock into their kids. So, this woman, who’s trying her best, ends up overprotecting her kids.
            At least, that’s my lackadaisical father perspective. But look at the results… my kid has learned for herself that she doesn’t want to swallow rocks and sand. Her kid still thinks it’s something interesting and wants to constantly try it. Why? Because she’s never had the chance to do it for herself! All she knows is her mother says, “No,” and she doesn’t get to experience it. So what does it cultivate? Curiosity. Why not give her the chance to explore a bit more, fall on her head once or twice, and pick herself up again, all the stronger for it, rather than holding her hand through the small things? I’d save the hand-holding for the dangerous or truly important things, myself. It also gives me time to do my own thing (like exercise).
            Every parent of young kids always seems shocked when they find out how young Celia is, and just how mature she already seems to be. I just figure, heck, if you give them lots of chances to experience life, rather than being cooped up in a protective sphere, they’ll get out there and mature faster than ever.
            And that’s the fathers’ way. None of this over-protective rubbish. I’ve even caught myself thinking to say to my daughter, “Now don’t be such a Cry-Baby,” but then I realize, “Oh yeah, you are still a Cry-Baby,” and I let it go. But I think she’s getting tougher all the time.
            And she certainly loves me to bits. Every time she sees me she just breaks into the biggest grin and puts out her hand as if to say, “Get over here and give me a big kiss. You know the way I like it. Come on, Dad. Show me the love.”
             Which of course I am eager to do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Elephant Sounds and Forgetting the Mexican

            It’s good to be back home. I know, it’s a funny thing to say, back to work and the big city, but there’s something to be said for getting back into the good work I’ve been putting my efforts into this last year. Something wholesome. And it’s also good to be in our own home again. With our own bed, our own carpets, our own kitchen.
            The cat almost freaked out when we arrived. She followed me around everywhere for hours, wouldn’t let me out of its site. Celia seemed like she didn’t remember anything. I was quite surprised, to tell the truth. All the most important people in her life, she just looked at them blankly when they said “Hi” to her.
            “She doesn’t remember me!” our Mexican house-mate said.
            “How can that be possible?” I said. But it did seem true. I guess three weeks is a long time for a ten-month-old, almost a tenth of their entire lifespan to date. That’d be like three-and-a-half years for me! Enough to forget someone, most certainly. Still, I felt apologetic to my friends. Celia seemed to recognize my mother instantly when we first showed up in Montana. How do you explain that?
            She travels well, this kid. She only broke down twice in the twelve-hour car-ride. Both times she just needed some attention and a change of scenery. We’d take her out of the car and point to the scenic things on the way – the tall trees or deep river. She’d take a large breath and say, “Waaaaaw!” to mimic my exclamation of, “Wow!”
            She’s mimicking me in other ways now, too, which is so delightful to watch. The cabin on the lake had this huge elephant toy, and I made this elephant sound by blowing through pursed lips, and Celia, the little cutie, would mimic me and try to do the same, with a big grin on her face. Oh, it just made me smile and laugh.
            We just had to video it, and when I later showed it to my parents on the big screen at their house my mom said, “How precious! We never did video anything of you boys.” I think that’s too bad. I’d love to see videos of me as a kid. That would be priceless to me. I’m certainly glad we’re taking all these photos and videos of Celia. It feels overwhelming at times, just how many we’re collecting, but I think that once we sift through them and select the best, we can put the photos in a book, and make a nice little DVD for her. These are things she’ll probably cherish. At least, I know I will.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Great Plum Explosion of 2009

            The Great Plum Explosion of 2009.
            That’s what I’ll forever remember yesterday as. We went to a friend’s house who has these beautiful plum trees in the backyard. And partway through our conversation on his porch he said, “I want to enlist all of you.” So, we happily followed him to the backyard and each held a corner of his sheet as he proceeded to shake the highest plum tree branches with a long rod. Plums fell from the heavens, nearly knocking the head of little Celia, and within minutes the sheet was full.
            We then proceeded to gorge ourselves. Okay, we didn’t eat dozens each, but I certainly had more than a few, and I have no idea how many Celia ate because she had at least two from me, and I saw both my mother and Michelle feeding her plums at different times.
            As you can well imagine, the “Plum Explosion” occurred late that evening, while Celia was asleep, and yes, it was in her diaper. Anyway, it wasn’t all that big a deal, just a smell to be dealt with, and we’re most certainly veterans of that. We’re heading back to life in the big city soon. I’ll miss these times we’ve shared, and I’m glad we took a lot of photos. It was a great vacation for Celia to see a lot of the world, and even though she won’t remember it, she might have a better chance of remembering things if she sees the photos.
            So, back to work. I’m surprisingly ready. I’ve started gearing myself up for it, and I feel good. I think three weeks is a good amount of time. Less feels a bit too little, as if I’ve just started to relax, and more would be nice, but seems unnecessary to truly feel rested.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Conquered By the Great Outdoors

            The great outdoors has conquered me.
            We went down to the lake for a little swim, and the area where we’re at is full of reeds. Michelle’s friend, who owns the place, said we could pull them up if we want it to be a nice swimming area. He usually does it every summer, he said.
            We balanced on rocks and walked to the neighbor’s section of lake to test the water out. Nice temperature. Celia found it a bit cold, but I figured it would be well worth pulling up the reeds for her to have a little swimming hole right in front of the cabin. Plus, we’d be doing the people who let us stay here a favor.
            I got a good start on them, pulling up big clusters along with seaweed and other plants. These reeds were covered with goo. Fish eggs, snails, you name it. After fifteen minutes my arm started to itch. I had this sudden moment of recognition and in utter horror I realized what a fool I’d been.
            Swimmer’s Itch!
            I’ve had it a few times. I don’t know why I didn’t think it would happen. It’s usually worst when you’re in with the sea plants and muck. Duh!
            I quickly made my way to the cabin. By the time I was drying off, the itching had turned into pain. I looked down in horror at my arm and prayed that Celia didn’t have any of it.
            “Michelle! Quick! I’ve got Swimmer’s Itch!” I ran into the shower and started scrubbing vigorously. “Bring Celia in here!”
            Michelle dashed into the bathroom with Celia, who was more than happy to join me in the shower. By then the pain was unbearable. All over my arms and legs were hundreds of little red dots.
            “I can’t wash her… too much pain. You do it.”
            Michelle scrubbed Celia and looked at me in pity. I scrubbed and scraped and lathered and scrubbed again, but the itching didn’t go away. I knew I needed to do something fast. I felt like dying, or at least throwing up. My entire body went into seizes and muscle spasms. Michelle dug around and found a spray for me, which I applied generously, and took an anti-histamine. It was like I’d done nothing.
            “Call my parents!” I said.
            Michelle got on the phone and reached my brother, who said you can put a salve on them.
            “Let’s go! Let’s go!” I said.
            “I’m feeding Celia the leftover salmon,” Michelle said.
            “Okay, I’ll wait,” I said. I stood there tensing my muscles, then paced around rubbing my arms and legs, then tensed up again.
            “Never mind. Let’s go,” she said, looking at me with a furrowed brow.
            We sped down to the pharmacy, where of course the pharmacist was on lunch break, but the clerk seemed to know a thing or two about Swimmer’s Itch and pointed at the most expensive bottle of anti-bug-itch cream on the wide shelf of options. For a moment I surveyed the vast array of options, then grabbed the largest bottle of the good stuff and scurried off to pay for it. When it comes to pain, money becomes of little importance. By the time I reached the parking lot I was lathering the stuff all over myself. Thick and creamy. There couldn’t possibly be enough.
            The story does end well. By the time we got back to the cabin the itching had dimmed down to feeling more like mosquito bites. And by the time we had dinner it had all but disappeared. And thankfully, the baby didn’t have any of it. I later told Michelle, “You know, if Celia had had even one of those dots, we’d be miserable for the next few days.”
            She nodded in agreement.
            Today the dots are large and bright red, and itch only moderately. Michelle hates the smell of the cream, but it’s so worth it to me.
            So much for swimming with my daughter in the lake!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Boundaries and the Resurrection of Squealia

            Celia is now at the stage where she tests my limits, then cries when she doesn’t get it. From a psychological development point of view it’s quite interesting actually. I appreciate watching her slowly develop into a more mature human being, and I constantly think back to that child development course I took back in college.
            Here we are in the vacation house on the lake, with all its splendor, and Celia had to explore every nook and cranny. Thankfully, it’s a mostly baby-proofed house, so every corner she found brought smiles from us, but of course there’s going to be at least one place that will end up being off limits. For me, it was the basin that holds the logs for the fireplace. At first I didn’t mind that she was playing with them, but then she started putting little bits of wood and dirt in her mouth.
            “Tay-Tay!” I said, “Don’t eat that, Celia.” I wiped her hand clean and turned her away from the basin. She instantly turned around and climbed up it again.
            “Tay-Tay! Not for baby.” I pulled her down again and put her in front of some toys.
            She looked at me, then turned forward, closed her eyes, and started to wail. And we’re not talking a little cry, we’re talking a resurrection of the old “Squealia,” whom I hadn’t heard for months and months. “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” she cried, then “Aaaaaaaaah!” she shrieked as she turned bright red, then purple, and tears began to pour down her face.
            I just shook my head and marveled. It’s not like her crying was going to make me give her what she wanted. This is a very important border-discovery time. She’s figuring out just how far she can push the boundaries I set up, and I want to make sure she knows that not only can she not get past them, but she will receive no consolation when she cries because of it.
            “Celia, look at all these toys you can play with!” I said to her. She kept wailing. I was about to plug my ears when she suddenly snapped out of it and went back to normal again. Smiling. Playing. Crawling. It was as if nothing had happened. But we both know it did, and the boundary is set.
            Not only is the boundary set, but future boundaries. I have a feeling that these next weeks of setting boundaries will be critical for all the future ones as well. I hope to get to a time where all I have to do is say the word, and she instantly (and happily) removes herself from the situation.
            Perhaps I’m being ridiculous, overly optimistic and ambitious. Who knows? But at the very least I know it’s a critical time to do it right. The groundwork we’re laying now will have a tremendous impact on all of our futures. And now, I will remove myself from this laptop and get back to the great outdoors on the lake.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Little Monkey

My brother Sam was telling me yesterday about some of the huge differences between Celia now and five months ago when he was staying with us. For one, she cried a lot more.
Michelle interjected and said, “No she didn’t.”
            Sam said, “Oh yes she did! She’d cry if you left her alone after five minutes!”
            “I know,” I said, “It was because she wasn’t mobile enough to entertain herself.”
            We all nodded. This makes total sense when you think about her personality. She’s always got to be busy. Whenever I look at Celia today she’s either interacting with someone, playing with something she’s discovered, climbing onto/into/through something, or crawling to get somewhere new. She’s such a crawler, we took her to the mall and this huge train play-area with kids all over it. Celia had a blast crawling all over the thing. At one point, she crawled up the front of the train, a ramp that went on a 45º angle for about six or seven feet. As she was crawling up, a three-year old was trying to crawl up next to her and lost his footing and slid down, and a five-year old girl accidentally kicked her, but she made it up. I just marveled at the little monkey.
Celia was obviously the youngest kid there by a longshot, and a woman asked me, “How old is she?”
“Ten months,” I replied.
“Wow!” she said. We both looked and saw Celia climbing onto the top of the train and patting the arm of the kid next to her happily.
“She can’t even walk yet,” I said as I shook my head.
            I’m happy that she loves people. It sure makes things easier with our lifestyle. Sunday afternoon my brother Abe and I bushwhacked up a solitary mountain nearby and he asked me what we were doing that night. I said, “Come over for a light dinner and games.”
            “Great,” he said. But by the time he got over to my parents’ place, and by the time we sat down for dinner, there were fourteen people sitting around the table for one of my father’s feasts, including two Swiss bicyclists who were making their way around the world and who were told they just had to stop by. And of course, Celia was in the middle of all of it, smiling at everyone who picked her up or played with her.
            Likewise, yesterday a group of twenty-six of us took a whitewater rafting trip, and ended with a deluxe barbecue (cooked by one of the Swiss bicyclists, who it turns out was a chef in Switzerland). And Celia had a blast. All the different ladies would pick her up and play with her, and people let her crawl around in the dirt, which is pretty much a first for her. Talk about a messy adventure!
            I’d have liked to take her rafting, but it was a bit too dangerous for that. On one of the more treacherous rapids, called Tumbleweed, my brother Abe’s boat took the plunge and lost four people, three of which seriously thought they were in danger for their lives. Yeah, not really a good place to take a baby. But I would like to take her rafting, perhaps on a more docile river.
            Today, we’re finally going to get out of town for more than day trips, and go to our friends’ cabin on the lake. I’m looking forward to the time away from it all. This vacation has been great, but certainly not mellow!  No wonder Celia is so hyper all the time… that’s the kind of life we expose her to!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Long Jogs and the Chicago Zoo

            This is the longest stretch yet where I haven’t written. And as expected, much has happened. I won’t even try to grasp all that’s transpired. The growing Celia has done. The adventures we’ve had. The best I’ll do is give you a quick list:
            • We hiked mountains in Montana, then left for farm-country in Illinois;
            • Visited the Zoo in Chicago where Celia went crazy about the giraffes and the beavers (who’d have guessed, of all things, that the beavers would be the best event?);
• Celia learned how to clap her hands;
            • I wrote a new song about clapping hands;
            • Celia took her first (and only) step;
            • We got back to Montana and took Celia to a hot springs, where she swallowed water and met other kids;
            • Michelle got sick for a few days, so I was on Daddy-Duty all day long for a couple days;

That last one was particularly challenging. I love that daughter of mine, but being on Daddy-Duty for the entire day was tiring. I’m not talking about being rested, although I wasn’t, but really it came down to mental fatigue – being at the baby’s level of thought all day long. Sure, I took her out for sushi, took her to friends’ houses, took her on long walks and jogs, but she definitely missed her Mama. I think I have a new appreciation for Michelle’s efforts with Celia. It’s exhausting to be with her so much of the day. No wonder she looks forward to me arriving home from work so much!
            The time we spent in Illinois with Michelle’s family was surprisingly enjoyable. Michelle said it went better than any other time she can remember. I bet it was because of having me and the baby there. It completely diffuses things; gives people something to focus on completely outside of themselves. Celia got an awful lot of attention on that trip. I’m glad it’s not always like that, but it was good for her to meet all of them and I was thankful.
            I found the mentality there a bit restrictive compared to my home-town, and definitely compared to our current lives. For example, I went for a long run with the baby. It’s a small farm-town, and I ran through the streets till I hit farms, then got turned around and had to ask for directions. By the time I got back, I’d been gone for over two hours, and when I told Michelle’s family how far I’d gone someone said, “You went that far?!” then turned to Celia and said, “You poor baby! Your Daddy took you out so far!”
            I just shook my head and was thankful that we don’t live in Illinois. Poor baby? As if! She’s getting front-row, street-level exposure to every neighborhood we travel to. This is a gift and a privilege, not a problem.
            But despite all that, I felt appreciated and loved, and we had a magnificent time. It’s amazing to me how quickly Celia is maturing. Today she gave me this smirk and a look as if she was thinking, “I know everything that’s going on right now,” and I was shocked. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was; was it the smirk? The way she raised her eyebrows at me? Or the twinkle in her eye…? But I know that she knows what’s going on. She understands what I’m telling her now. I just know it.
            And I love it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Celia Pinched the Snake

            I was chatting with Michelle when three ten-year old girls came running up to us.
            “We found a snake!” they yelled.
            I said, “Oh! Let’s take a picture!”
            I handed Celia to one of them and the four of them posed for the camera, holding up the little squiggly snake with enormous smiles. After a few good photos I said, “I wonder what Celia thinks?”
            Michelle came over and took Celia, then held her close to the snake. Everyone held their breath. What would happen? Would she cry? Get scared? Freak out somehow? The girl slowly raised the snake for Celia to look at. I took a picture. 
            Celia looked curious.
            Then, in a sudden instant, Celia reached out, with her new vice-grasp cereal-snatching abilities, and pinched the snake right on the head!
            “Aaaaaaaaaah!” the girl shrieked.
            “Aaaaaaaaaaah!” the other girls shrieked.
            “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” Michelle shrieked.
            Celia started waving the snake around, wondering what was going on. Too bad I was laughing, or I could’ve taken some great photos.
            Of course, all that alarming screaming made Celia open her hands and start to cry. I can’t blame her. She has such a limited life experience, and all these previously calm people were suddenly freaking out around her. She dropped the snake and Michelle took her to a bench to breastfeed her to tranquility.
            I smiled and shook my head. I’m just glad she didn’t hold it long enough to put it in her mouth!
            The girls later reported to me that Thank Goodness the snake was fine.
            What do you mean by that? I asked them, and they said, Well, we put it in a home we made for it, and when we came back later he was still there enjoying the home.
            Oh, right. A snake that doesn’t like to move. Yes, definitely not hurt, I nodded with them. That Celia has quite the little pinch. She’s getting stronger every day. And I can’t believe it, but we took her to this public kid’s pool with water slides and the whole works, and she fit in beautifully. She had so much fun, never once cried, and kept trying to swim out to the deep end to play on the flotation toys with the bigger kids.
            I can count on one hand how many times we’ve actually been deep enough in the water with her so that she’d know how to swim, but I kid you not, I held her under her chest and she naturally kicked her legs and arms beautifully, as if I’d already taught her. Sure, she would have sunk in no time without me, but I was quite impressed, and reminded yet again seeing her next to her inert little cousin – this girl is really growing up quickly!
            I do have to say, this new spurt of maturity she’s going through right in the midst of hanging out with a neonate is quite the eye-opener to just how much she’s grown, and also just what a precious little girl she is. Every time she smiles at someone, it lights up the room and creates a smile on the other person’s face. She’s one precious little pumpkin, and I am so glad she is my daughter; the snake-pinching little monkey.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Road Trip and Deadly Comparison

            Celia is exactly ten months old now, and I’m struck, as I see my newly born nephew, at just how old she really is. We’ve been in Montana with the family for a couple of days now, and Celia is absolutely huge compared to her cousin Webber. She seems like a mature little girl in comparison to her motionless cousin.
            Not only that, but I realize that she’s getting older for other reasons too. On the drive down we stopped by a café for a light meal and a beverage. We ordered, and the woman behind the counter looked at me quizzically and said, “Did you order three items?”
            “Yes,” I said, and looked at Michelle for her confirmation. As I sat down at the table and each of us had our little sandwich, it suddenly hit me; this is the first meal where I bought a full menu item for the baby. Up till this moment, she’s always just shared our food. But now, we both wanted a full sandwich, and we knew that she’d eat about half of one, so of course it made complete sense to order one just for her.
            I feel like I’ve crossed a border where there’s no turning back. I said aloud, “Another mouth to feed.” I suppose this would be one argument to breastfeed longer; it’s cheaper! I think of that Far Side comic where the guy is looking in the mirror and says to his wife, “Oh great! As if this is what we need… another mouth to feed!” In the mirror he has two mouths on his face.
            In Montana our little baby is fitting in like she’s always been here. She seems to remember her grandma, and all the relatives. She absolutely loves her new cousin, although he just kind of lies there most of the time.
            I can’t believe the difference between my brother’s baby and Celia. From day one Celia was all fussing and squiggling. Webber is so docile. So quiet. It’s actually a bit shocking to me, to tell the truth. Shocking that a child in the family would be that calm. I figured that all the energy that runs through the family would make all the kids wild. Well, I suppose he has time to become wild, but he sure is quiet for now.
            Not that he sleeps through the night or anything. No, at least he’s a normal baby in that respect. And Elise, my sister-in-law was telling us how my brother wakes up through the night to take care of him. “In fact,” she told me and Michelle at lunch earlier today, “In the first week, because I’d had the C-Section, Sam took care of him entirely.”
            Michelle turned to me and said, “He took care of the baby all by himself!” She said this with a certain tone that said, “If your brother can do this, why can’t you?”
            I stood up. “Excuse me,” I said, “This is a good moment for me to use the restroom.”
            We all laughed, but I thought to myself, “Ah, the comparison already begins. First we compare what the kids are like. Then we compare how we raise them.” I wonder if that’ll ever change, or if we’ll be doing comparisons for a long time to come.
            My mom is simply thrilled to have all of us in her home. She loves playing with Celia, and takes every opportunity to be with her, which of course Michelle and I are happy about.
            The house could use some baby-proofing, though. When I first arrived, I did the customary parental first-glance around each room I was in and thought to myself, “This will be a lot of work!” Sure enough, the next morning I took the baby at 6:20am (which would be sleeping in except for the time change, so our home time would really have been 5:20am!). I staggered into the bathroom, set her on the carpet, and relieved myself on the toilet, sitting so that I could watch her.
            She sat for a few seconds and looked around with her early-morning stares. Then, she stood up using the knob on the drawer, and opened the drawer. In a matter of seconds she’d pulled out a box of lightbulbs, looked at it, and thrown it on the ground in disinterest. Then, pulled out a box of Q-tips, and again thrown it on the ground. Finally, she pulled out a plastic razor blade, which she put into her mouth! All in less then five seconds!
            I jumped off the toilet and grabbed the razor blade. We definitely will need to do some baby-proofing around here!