We Are Fabulous

Everywhere we go, people point us out.  At the mall and the market and the grocery store, they stop in their tracks, elbow their friends, smile in our direction, laugh with delight.  Everyone loves us.


Actually, since people don’t point and whisper when I’m alone (unless it’s behind my back), I’ll have to give most of the credit to Ruby.  She is a pretty freaking cute baby to begin with, and when she’s riding joey-style in my sling, with just her big head and the odd arm poking out… well, we can’t be beat.

For the most part, I ignore the adoration.  Part of me is just plain anti-social, but most of me wants to send a message.  It is perfectly normal for a ruggedly handsome man to be walking around the grocery store in the middle of the day with an adorable baby.  We are just doing our thing.  We’re not showing off, and this certainly isn’t a rare exception while we give Mom a much-needed day off. This is just our ordinary, fabulous life.

However, and despite my brusque demeanor, let me just say to all our passing fans: I’m glad we make you smile.  I think Ruby’s cute, too, and I can’t stop staring at her either.

I’ll Settle for Top Ten

Ruby went for her first hike on Monday.  It was actually more of a walk in the woods than a hike (rambling with her Papa, Nana and Grandpapa around Tiger Mountain) but we’re going to count it anyway.  She enjoyed her time in the backpack carrier, didn’t enjoy wearing her several-sizes-too-big sunhat, and we all had fun.

I’ve come to appreciate what a long, slow process parenting is.  You can’t just put on your super-parent hat one day, take your kid for a hike, and then claim that you’ve instilled a love for the outdoors.  If you want her to love to hike, you need to be a hiker.  She needs to experience the woods as she grows up, and not just as a special occasion.

The same idea applies to just about everything else.  You don’t teach manners, or piano, or quantum mechanics, or how to bend a soccer ball, in just one day.  You teach them over a lifetime.  Every tiny little moment is miniscule, discardable, delayable, half-assable, but all those tiny little moments add up to something colossal, huge, bigger than anything else in your life.  So to be the best parent in the world, you need to bring your “A” game every single day.

Your child doesn’t take days off being a child, and so you don’t get to take days off being a parent.  You may be fatigued, or bored, or really just wanting to read a few more emails, but you need instead to brew up some of that wonderful creativity you’ve always prided yourself on, and you need to do that every single day.  You need to be like a dial-tone of creative energy, always there humming when your kid picks up the receiver.    That is, if you want to be the best parent in the world.

Forget the Nanny State; I need a Nanny Church

Katherine Harris is running for Florida Senate.  She was recently interviewed by the Florida Baptist Witness:

If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you’re not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin. They can legislate sin. They can say that abortion is alright. They can vote to sustain gay marriage. And that will take western civilization, indeed other nations because people look to our country as one nation as under God and whenever we legislate sin and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better, we are leading them astray and it’s wrong. …

There is plenty that is laughable (or just plain offensive) in this statement, but I’ll just pick at the lowest-hanging fruit:

“…then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don’t know better…”

Apparently, as a non-Christian, I’m not able to tell right from wrong.  It’s a miracle that I haven’t eaten my baby yet. 

Now, let’s see where her blazing righteousness has gotten her:

Katherine Harris may think I need a nanny church to lead me around by the moral nose, but at least I’ve got a sense of ethics.

Table Food Day 4

The night of Ruby’s first applesauce was a nightmare.  She went to sleep around 8:30pm but awoke, crying, at 9:30pm.  She continued wailing for an hour until finally settling down and going back to sleep.  Kate’s back has been bothering her so I’ve been on bounce duty for the past few weeks.  Anyway, from the way Ruby’s legs were kicking around we thought maybe the applesauce had given her some kind of cramps.  However, we’ve now given her apples for four days in a row without a repeat of the first episode, so we’ll just chalk it up to coincidence.

Ruby hasn’t quite got the hang of unbottled food yet.  If she’s not really hungry, she’ll ignore the food.  When she’s interested, she’s very… lengual?  tongue-oriented?  licky?  …she prefers to lick food off the spoon.  If you catch her with her mouth open and get a large amount in, she’s just extrude it down her chin.  She’s not eating much; maybe two tablespoons today, of which half ended up elsewhere than inside her belly.  In any event, she’s not averse to this new experience and I’m looking forward to the next food.  Bananas, maybe?

Update: Kate fed Ruby her first bananas for dinner tonight.  Ruby seemed to enjoy them more than the apples.  Still messy, but with less extruding all around. 

Ruby’s First Table Food

food1.jpgWe gave Ruby her first table food tonight: tsugaru apples, picked fresh from our garden from a tree I planted three years ago.  The apple was diced, steamed, mashed, thinned with breastmilk, and then promptly smeared all over Ruby’s chin.  Overall she seemed to enjoy her applesauce, even if she did seem a bit confused by the whole endeavor.

I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time — probably more than any other milestone in Ruby’s life.  Today is the start of a special relationship between the two of us as I take her on a wonderful culinary journey.  I just hope her appetite can match my enthusiasm.

Like any parent I want to provide the best for my child.  That means we’ll be providing her with whole foods, home cooked, maybe organic.  That’s a little hypocritical, though, since my own diet often leaves a lot to be desired (pizza for dinner tonight!).  I’m hoping Ruby will provide a little inspiration, or at least a little regulation, and that my own diet will improve to match what I expect hers to be.

More pictures and a movie over at Ruby’s Blog.

Blink of an eye

Many parenting tragedies begin with the phrase “I only turned my back for a few seconds…”

This afternoon I spread out a blanket for Ruby in the backyard.  I put Ruby on her back in the middle of the blanket and went a few yards away to water the garden.  I only turned my back for a few seconds, and when I turned back I saw this:


Sometimes, comedy can strike just as fast as tragedy.

Only So Much You Can Do

Last weekend we went to a reunion of our childbirth class.  There were eight couples there, and we all told the stories of our babies’ births.

About halfway through, we got to a couple who had needed to have a caesarean birth.  The mother was in tears — she was a doula and a childbirth advocate, and she had really, really wanted to experience natural birth firsthand, and listening to the other birth stories had been very difficult.  In her words: “I never even got to feel a contraction”.  Despite that couple’s best efforts, their medical situation ruled out vaginal birth.

I think one of the important lessons of parenting, which this woman had to learn the hard way (and before her child was even born), is that there’s only so much we can do for our children.  We need to accept that we are physically incapable of providing the absolute best, 100% of the time.  We’ll get pretty close, but we’re not perfect people and we’re certainly not perfect parents.  Our skills are finite. Sometimes, we just need to step back and let things happen outside of our control.

I experienced this a few months ago with Ruby.  Late one day, abdominal cramps brought on her worst crying spell ever.  She screamed for about an hour.  I held her and bounced her and changed her and did everything in my power to soothe her, but nothing would work.  In the end, she had calmed down enough to sniffle, sob, and quietly moan while I held her.  I felt powerless — especially at the end, when she was quieter, when I could see the difficult journey she’d just gone through.  I came to realize that despite everything we would like to do for her, Ruby will have to take the lead in battling her own demons.

That brings us to last night, and my final example of the physical limitations of parenting.  Kate’s milk supply has been slowly decreasing, and we’ve been using milk from our freezer cache to make up the difference.  We’ve tried many things to boost Kate’s production.  As the freezer supply has dwindled, we’ve become increasingly aware that supplementing with formula might be the only answer.

We’re now down to about a half-dozen meals in the freezer, and we wanted to try formula before it became an emergency, so last night Kate gave Ruby her first formula bottle.  (Ruby will continue to get the vast majority of her food from Kate; we’re only short about two bottles per week.)

Giving Ruby that bottle of formula made Kate very sad.  She wants to provide Ruby with the superior nutrition of breastmilk.  She has struggled through incredible pain, anxiety, and frustration to provide her milk for Ruby.  In the end, though, she had to accept that there was nothing else she could physically do.  It would have been in Ruby’s best interests to drink nothing but breast milk for as long as possible, but her caloric needs won out over our ideals.  We just need to accept our physical limitations and move on.

(For what it’s worth, Ruby sucked down the formula with her usual gusto and didn’t seem to notice the difference.)


More on bad habits

Further to this post… MetroDad relates this story:

Yesterday, my adorable, little 22-month-old daughter climbed up on the couch, leaned her head back, sighed deeply, stared blankly at the television, and then stuck her hand down the front of her diaper.

To Play or Not To Play

Before Ruby was born, my feeling was that I would be an active playground parent.  I’d play with my kids at the park, running around on the climbing equipment, and going down the slides.  I looked with scorn on the parents who parked themselves on the benches and stared blankly from the sidelines while their children ran about. 

But then last week my buddy Chong sent me this article which is making me reconsider:

Or perhaps it’s today’s playground, all-rubber-cushioned surface where kids used to skin their knees. And… wait a minute… those aren’t little kids playing. Their mommies—and especially their daddies—are in there with them, coplaying or play-by-play coaching. Few take it half-easy on the perimeter benches, as parents used to do, letting the kids figure things out for themselves.

The article goes on to discuss over-protective parenting and the effect it has on children, particularly when they reach college.  Most of it is highly speculative, but the above paragraph struck me.  Children really do need to learn how figure it out for themselves — how to build relationships, negotiate rules, and defuse angry situations.  Ruby will get plenty of playtime with adults throughout her childhood.  When she has a chance for some unstructured interaction with her peers, it’ll be best for me to leave her alone to explore that world on her own terms.