Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Peet's grants me (a little more than) 15 minutes of (not very much) fame

Peets recognitionOver the years, I've stayed loyal to Peet's Coffee*, never straying to that "other" place (the one with the name from Moby Dick, you know) unless I had absolutely no choice. (At the Bakersfield airport, for example. Then again, I was stuck in Bakersfield, so I had bigger problems. But I digress...)

These days, I take Fern to our newly-opened Peet's down the street at least two or three times a week. (She doesn't get coffee until she's four, we've agreed. But she likes people-watching.)

Imagine my pride, then, when after all these years, I've been recognized as a dyed-in-the-wool Peet's fanatic. I am proud to announce that Fern and I are this week's... Customers of the Week!

How, you ask, could this have possibly happened? How did they pick me from among all the Peet's regulars who buy expensive coffee mixtures instead of cheap black coffee like I do? Here's what happened, recalled in this snippet from my forthcoming off-Broadway play about the incident:

SCENE:  A San Francisco Peet's store. Enter from stage left GRAHAM, an unshaven but otherwise clean guy pushing one-year old FERN in a stroller. Thunder peals offstage. GRAHAM approaches the counter behind which MICHELLE and ETHAN loll, looking bored but alert. Both have tattoos and look like they might have some hidden piercings and attend art college at night.

GRAHAM: Hey, there. How do you get to be customer of the week?

MICHELLE: Oh, I just take a picture of you. Let me get the Polaroid.

GRAHAM: That's it?

MICHELLE: Well, we already have one for this week, so you have to wait until next week. But I'll take your picture and leave it here.

GRAHAM: Great!

FERN: Hah! Mahmahmahmahmah. Psfffft!

And that's all it took!

*Even those of you from elsewhere have probably heard of Peet's Coffee, the local coffee roaster and chain that started in Berkeley a few years before I went to school there. My coffee addiction came of age drinking Peet's. When I first went to a local cafe for "coffee," I was actually drinking the least coffee-like of espresso drinks: mochas heavy on the chocolate and cream, lattes with almond shots, and similar monstrosities. I was a theater major and did overnight shifts on the college radio station, though, so soon, as I began to spend ever less time sleeping, I dropped the adjectives from my coffee order one by one. No more "decaf," ever. No more "single-shot" or "lowfat" or anything with "-ccino" or "frap-" involved. No, I was down to just one-word orders:

"Coffee." (Okay, I probably said "Please," too... at least, after the first cup.)

By this point, I wasn't even suggesting the size I wanted because I would simply hand over one of my capacious travel mugs. Peet's is pretty strong coffee, and drinking 32 ounces at a go gives one quite a rush. I don't remember too many specifics about college, but in the few memories that come back to me, I'm moving really, really fast.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Auditioning to be a Marimekko model

Something about doing nine loads of laundry inspires me to be a little more diligent about Fern's bibs. It's not like we don't have good ones: we've got a whole stash by Marimekko, including this full-arm number. Usually, though, by the time Fern's strapped into her high chair and I've got her food organized, she's already smooshed avocado into the sleeve of her white onesie and dropped peas into her tights.

So it's been a while since Fern put this on, and to be honest, I'm pretty sure she used to hate it. Something about today, though, put her in a great mood! I ran out of time to edit, so these are fairly well raw pictures -- sorry about the flash wash. I couldn't pick my favorite, either, so I'm just putting them all up!

Here's a link to the show.

Friday, February 23, 2007

First playground playdate

Fern and Aliyana
Fern and Aliyana
We finally had what I feel is a pretty major "first" -- our first playdate with someone we met at the playground. I'm not sure why this took so long; I've been going to the playground for a looong time -- since Fern was about 20 weeks old. It's a big deal for me, though, because I've been a little shy to seek social encounters outside of the playground.

Fern got to know Aliyana in a pretty typical way for us: at the playground, I met her mom on weekdays and Kristin met her dad on weekends. (It's amazing how many babies we know in common without having met the same parents!) The girls are pretty close to the same age, and seemed well-matched. Aliyana's a solid walker, but Fern is pretty physical and lopes or cruises or crawls after her without difficulty.

I'm shy about this sort of thing, as previously mentioned, so I left it to Kristin to make the first contact, inviting the family over for brunch and play. (That's what the photos are from.) The next week was rainy, so Aliyana's mom invited me and Fern over for playdate and lunch. A friendship was born!

Since then, I've been investigating playgroups and have planned outings with some other parents, too. I've even gone to Peet's for a coffeeklatsch with a mom, two strollers, and a dog! The floodgates, it would appear, have opened. Next stop: running a preschool from the house!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Replacement O's [sic]

As you may remember, we've been searching for a replacement for Cheerios, with their high-fructose corn syrup. Our urban deity, Trader Joe, heard our plea and provided. Fern seems pleased to the point of indifference.

The one drawback is the incorrect apostrophe. I hate having grammatical errors in the house, but if it's for Fern, well...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Birthday recap

Far too many photos to put on one page... click here for the whole birthday slide show. I'm also missing quite a few because they were taken by other people... could you e-mail your photos if you've got them? Thanks!

Phew! What a birthday -- we're still recovering! In all the hustle and the bustle, I left a few fun bits out of the blog, so I thought I'd just catch up a little.

First off, as you may know, Fern's birthday comes the day after Uncle Greg's, so when he and Grandma Linda arrived we had a little celebration. Fern was asleep for the cake part, unfortunately, but we did spend some time practicing "blowing out the candles" for her big moment to come. (For the record, Fern did not blow out her own candle. I swung her around to set up an air current, but even that didn't really work!)

Grandma Joan and "Papa" Gary had a fun day with Fern when they arrived from the airport, warming up from a somewhat sleepy and whiny car ride. (We picked them up in a Zipcar since we've pared down to just one car at home now, and Fern still wasn't really used to it... and silly daddy forgot her water bottle to boot!) Among other things, they got to see the Christmas wagon put to good use as Fern got some walking practice in.

On the birthday day itself, Fern got all dressed up (we hardly ever get to wear dresses!) and was celebrated by Greg, Linda, Gary, Joan, and, of course, Uncle Ken and Aunt Jewel. She had a bite of her first birthday cake, although it was hard to tell if she liked it. (Judge for yourself from the picture!) Kristin created a Krispy Kreme cake, much like our wedding cake, except this time with a butterfly-and-fern theme, just as if you'd been strolling along a forest creek and happened to discover a patch of the elusive doughnut mushroom.

As mentioned above, I'm short on photos from the birthday, so please send me any more you've got! For now, here's a link to the whole set.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

One Year Old!

Our birthday entry is a joint effort; Kristin starts it out, then Graham's portions are indented.

Dear Fern,

As you walked down the hall today toward the living room where everyone had gathered to celebrate your birthday (you had just woken up from your nap), you pressed yourself into my legs expressing only a few moments of concern. You quickly gave everyone a coy smile and jumped into opening your presents with gusto, taking each in with keen interest.  The flirtatious looks you threw about the room while you were eating your lunch, commanding attention from your high chair, made it clear how connected you feel to those you love and who love you back.
You are now a true toddler (you have taken your first independent steps after several weeks of cruising, and now you utter strings of "no no no no no")—it was hard to imagine a year ago what that would mean.  At that time, all of the nurses in the hospital affectionately called you "the toddler" because of your massive mop of hair and size.  You came out a solid, healthy girl, and remain so to this day, even after weathering acid reflux and casts on both legs.  Your first cry was a throaty complaint, to which we responded with tears popping out of our eyes.  When we caught our first glance of you while the nurses were cleaning you up and weighing you, I remember exclaiming "Oh my god, look at those feet!  NO!  Look at that HAIR!"  And, "No ... really?  9 pounds 6 ounces?!"

In the following weeks, we plunged into a new lifestyle in which we kept the lights down low in the evenings and carried you in Sven (our name for the "Baby Bjorn" carrier) much of the day and all evening to keep the witching hour at bay.  When we finally had enough courage to set you down, we would put you in the basket from Grandma Joanie and Papa next to our bed.  My superstitious nature would kick in each evening as I felt a surge of relief at the sight of the protective totems hanging from the basket, tied there by one of my favorite authors, Louise Erdrich (how that came to be is another story), who also provided much comfort to me in her essays about motherhood, which I read when I wasn't catching up on sleep.  Somewhere between three and four months (the end of the "fourth trimester"), you seemed much more at ease in the world—and we began to gain confidence as parents.  I no longer had the regular urge to call your wonderfully responsive pediatrician to make sure we were doing everything right.  At six months, we moved you into your crib in your own room and began the long journey to "regular" sleep.

My memory's not as good as your mom's, so I remember those first weeks as individual images. Changing your diaper for the first time in the hospital. Waking up from my perch on the chair to see you nursing in your mom's bed. Installing and re-installing the car seat base. The time you squeezed my finger for the first time. And, finally, taking you on outings. You've probably seen all these pictures by the time you're reading this, but try to imagine them the way they were: experienced first-hand by two new parents trying desperately not to be too clueless.

Four months (what your mom called "the end of the fourth trimester"), was also around the time I really settled being at home with you by myself on weekdays. Your mom had taken care of lots of babies before, but with very rare exceptions, I never had. What I had done is cared for a lot of wild animals, and strangely, I took comfort from that. Like any seal pup, you seemed the happiest when I was relaxed and calm, or at least when I pretended to be. So that's what I did.

You would never have known that your dad had any moments of not being relaxed and calm.  While he took comfort in having cared for wild animals, I drew comfort from his stoic serenity.  Through his tireless efforts, he has been the one to establish your regular sleeping patterns (someday we'll share with you the recordkeeping we continue to do to track your sleep, diapers, nursing, bottles, food, etc.), starting with regulating your nap times.  Now your nighttime sleep has started to become more solid—at times even including eight-hour stretches.  And it's much easier to help you fall asleep.

You've gotten more social by the day. You've always loved to smile back at anyone smiling at you, but increasingly you seek out others as well. This is great for me; I was getting a little lonely at the playground! Having you socialize with other babies opens an entirely new parenting dimension, too. You enjoy touching other babies, and an occasional touch becomes a grab. You sometimes steal toys, even, and they're stolen from you. I'm frequently asking myself when I should intervene: does it do more harm than good to interrupt your normal play? Baby chimps climb over one another and wolf cubs play-wrestle. I'm sure this behavior plays an important role in their development, and perhaps yours, too.

Then again, there are a lot of things baby chimps and wolves do that I wouldn't allow for you (except for licking gristle off of bones, of course). But there's no book to guide these kinds of decisions, so every day I redraw these boundaries for myself. Sometimes my limits float toward liberal permissiveness simply because I'm sleepy. Other days I realize after the fact I've reined you in too closely. I guess that's part of teaching you about life's disorderly nature.

Everyone comments on "what a good waver you are."  At times, you wave even when no one is in sight as we stroll to and from the park (when I'm taking the "weekend shift" where I connect with the other weekend shift parents—often daddies).  You also wave at the webcam in your room, at Wilbur (the name we finally chose for Roomba), and at "kitty cat" Carson.  When I leave each morning, you wave goodbye and assure me with your dimpled smile that you will remember who I am when I return at the end of the day.  I can't fully describe what it feels like to see you at said end of day, but know that there is nothing sweeter than the moment I walk through the door and see you and your daddy.  I treasure our evening bedtime routine, which once focused on reading Good Night Moon, but has expanded to include your current favorites, I Love You as Much, Baby Beluga, Goodnight Gorilla, and Who is Coming to Our House. And I feel myself fully releasing all tension from the day when I sing some of the same songs to you that Grandma Joanie sang to me: Kentucky Babe, The Little Shoemaker, and Over the Rainbow.  I have internalized the importance of setting limits at bedtime—if I let you pull books off the shelf (by reaching over my shoulder while we're sitting together on the chair in your room), bedtime can take three times as long.  Once I started setting limits and sticking to them, you responded beautifully.

When people comment on your personality, I wonder how much of it is going to stick. When you're reading this—how old will you be, 9? 15? 32?—, will the same words describe you as those we use today? Gregarious. Contented. Responsive. Goofy. Resourceful. Determined. Um... jolly? Don't get me wrong: it's fine if you change, too... this is an exercise in early nostalgia more than an expectation. But ever since you were born, I've looked at your face and thought I saw glimmers of your older, wiser self. At times I'm secretly surprised that we're not yet having full conversations in English, although we have clearly started conversing in some language. Lately I've even begun to sense that you, too, are frustrated that you can't say more, as if that word you want to know and articulate is just on the tip of your tongue. Then again, I may be wrong, and simply grownupopomorphizing. I blame all that hair. Makes you look older.

You have learned to use your words.  In addition to mastering a few words in sign language---milk (which you seem to use for mommy too), more, eat, and avocado (in that order with the latter three emerging on the same day this past week)---you now say "daddy" (ever since October), "mom" (or, more often, "momom"), and "kitty."  Most recently, you learned to  say "up" after I told you that you needed to use your words instead of shrieking when you wanted to get out of your high chair.  What started as general vocalization from the time you were very little has now turned into full-blown singing.  You favorites of late are La La La Lemon and Clap Your Hands (which also includes lots of "la las").  When you hear these songs, you stop what you're doing, turn your face toward the music, and burst out with "la la la la." 

You scare the mothers in your music class. Whenever people sing, you sing, and sing loud like a mezzo-soprano on a roller coaster. To strangers, it can sound like you're miserable, but your face is filled with joy. (I think you're happy because you're finally getting your message across.) You're not always thrilled with big groups of people (neither am I, come to that), but if you've got an activity to focus on, like singing or playing, then you're comfortable. I have to confess to a little guilty satisfaction when you're feeling discomfited, because you've started to hug for security, which is fun! You are so at ease in so many situations that I can already feel left out, watching you play and enjoy yourself without me! It's nice to be needed.

Yes, your newfound ability to hug (even when that hug includes a little bite on my shoulder) is incredibly fulfilling.  When you turn to me when you're feeling insecure, or when you're just wanting to give me a squeeze, my insides get all squiggly.  It's the same feeling I get when I enter your room to find you beaming up at me after a nap or when we get into giggling fits together over silly things (your laugh of late is sounding like Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter).  Sometimes it looks like your smile is going to explode.  Or maybe I'm just projecting the feeling of delight and awe inside me when I look at you.

We love you very much! Thanks for a wonderful year, and get ready for many more adventures to come!


Mommy & Daddy