Barefoot on the Moon

Dear Love Bug,

This will be a quick one because I just took NyQuil in an effort to win the war against this nasty cold. 

We barely left the house today, mostly because it was rainy, chilly, and generally icky but also because I couldn’t much motivate to do anything other than nap while you napped. 

When you woke up this afternoon, we found ourselves playing in the basement–one of your favorite spots in the house–and I pulled out the rocket-shaped tent that Nonna got you for Valentine’s Day that you haven’t played much with since then. We set up the play mat so you’d have some padding, and you and Marshall hung out in there for a bit. 

When you were done in the basement, Daddy and I asked if you wanted to bring your tent up to your room, thinking it might get more use if it’s in a spot that you constantly inhabit. You were very excited about this, and once Daddy got it re-mounted in that location, you went about decorating it with blankets and pillows, invited your friends in, and grabbed some books and toys. Daddy read to you for a bit, his head inside the tent with the rest of his long body protruding. When he went downstairs to start getting dinner ready, I took his spot. I can tuck myself inside a bit more easily. 

We read and played. At one point, you asked if you could take your socks off. It was about 1,000 degrees inside that nylon rocket, so I could understand. Still, I asked why you wanted them off as I helped you remove them. 

“Because,” you said, “I want to walk barefoot on the moon.”

Love you like crazy, kiddo,



pretty mamma

18 months

One of my favorite of our recent exchanges, which are becoming more like mini conversations as you begin to string words together into half sentences:

I had taken you upstairs after dinner to brush your teeth, and you spotted my comb on the vanity counter.

You: “Hold it, hold it.” That’s your way of saying you’d like something, stat.

I grabbed the comb for you, and you ran it through your hair a couple of times. Then you ran it through mine a few times, took a good look at your handiwork and stated, “Pretty Mamma.”


Me: “Awww, thank you, Sweet Pea.”

You: “Welcome.”

You’ve become very polite: You say “welcome” any time one of us says thank you. You also say “welcome” when you mean “thank you,” but the sentiment is there. We’re very proud of this new habit of yours. You’re also pretty good at remembering to say “peas” if you really, really want something.

Some other recent things that have absolutely floored me:

  • You can count to 20 (skipping a few numbers here and there, but still).
  • When you see the framed postcards of Verona as we’re traversing the stairwell, you say “Nonno’s.” I have no idea how you know this. It’s like you’re a sorcerer.
  • You can differentiate shapes and colors, and you’re getting to be a whiz at puzzles and shape sorting.
  • And this one made laugh: Tonight, we were looking at a board book about the beach, and I taught you “bathing suit.” You interpreted this as “Beebee’s soup.” Haha! Not quite the same thing.

You’re just getting over your nth illness of the calendar year, and we’re not even through March. This time, you were diagnosed with a sinus infection and pinkeye (shortly after I recovered from the same strange, goopy combination), and at least we’ve been able to treat them with actual effective medicines. The past few times it’s been “just another virus” and we’ve all had to suffer through it.

This past weekend, before the goop hit a fever pitch, you joined me at the salon for your first haircut. You sat on my lap, and Daddy distracted you with iPhone videos and cookies while Connie, my hairstylist, transformed your mullet–adorable as it may have been on you–into a decent style with a shape. You tolerated it until the clippers came out, and then you went ninja on her (also reserved for nail trimming and anti-pinkeye eye drop application). She maybe cut the front a bit too short for my taste, but it’ll grow back quickly, I know. Already, it looks way thicker to me. I’d like to avoid cutting your hair too frequently because I think toddlers with Beatles-esque mops are the cutest ever.

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating 19 months of YOU (along with 37–eek!–years of ME) and also bunnies and spring. We’re not really doing Easter this year, since Mimi’s working, so instead we’re going to go hunt eggs on a farm. The weather’s going to be sunny and spring like, and all of a sudden the world seems pretty again.


what a long, strange week it’s been

35 weeks

I have started to post several times and abandoned it. I’m feeling out of sorts, and the more time I let go by, the more I feel like I need to write to make sure I don’t leave anything out.

This has been a strange week. When you’re old enough to read and understand this, the world will no longer really remember who Freddie Gray was. But they’ll talk about the Baltimore Riots of ’15, like they still talk about the Baltimore Riots of ’68. I hope, when they talk about the ones of ’15, they’ll talk about how they made a lasting, positive change in this city where you were born, the city I’ve grown to love. That is not the case with the riots of ’68; unfortunately, those always seem to be associated with the Beginning of the End, the line between how Baltimore used to be and how it now is, which is to say terribly divided: decaying on one end and overly gentrified on the other. I’m not sure it’s any different from any other city; it just seems much more, well, black and white.

I don’t want to get too much into this, because it’s depressing. But yesterday, when you fell blissfully asleep below your new bucket cap in your jogging stroller in the most glorious weather anyone could dream up, I took a look at you and thought that if I could capture the peace you clearly felt and somehow preserve it for you, I would. Of all the things I want for you–happiness and success and courage and honesty and compassion (I could go on and on)–what I want most is peace, a life unmarred by anxiety or animosity. Right now, I’m doing everything in my power to ensure you have that for the very, very short time that the world grants it to you.

To keep this post from getting altogether bleak, I’ll talk about how spring has arrived, full blown, aflower and sneezy. The days are long and, for the most part, glorious. The sun gains strength every day, and all sorts of green babies are popping their heads up through the fresh, meaty dirt. You love sitting in the grass and ripping it up and battling me in an attempt to deliver it to your mouth. I like taking your socks off so you can wiggle your feet in it.

We’ve been making some major improvements to the back yard, and we’ve been spending quite a bit of time back there with you. The mosquitoes haven’t yet taken over, so it’s wonderful to sit and enjoy our immense maple tree and the white noise of the creek and our garden. It astounds me how much I’ve gotten done back there. Last fall, when you’d first joined us, I couldn’t even get my act together to water the plants, and they all promptly died. Just half a year later, I’m able to get major gardening and planting done with you keeping me company. Once, we dragged your corral out back and set it up with a blanket and a tarp beneath. Mostly, we plop you in a Fisher Price swing that our wonderfully thoughtful neighbor Martina gave you, a hand-me-down from her own kids who have outgrown it. Daddy attached it to the underside of the top deck, so you can swing out over the yard. You love it so much, you giggle and squeal with delight whenever we put you in it.

A few weekends ago (already!) when we’d just arrived on the very cusp of spring with a day that was bright and warm, we decided it was time for you to experience a larger body of water than your bathtub. Since even before you were born, I’ve been saying that I want you to be water savvy and swimming early. We opted not to do swim lessons, primarily because we don’t want to have somewhere to be at a certain time every weekend, but we wanted to get you into the pool as soon as the weather warmed up enough not to be torturous upon exiting the water. So we pulled all of our swim gear out of hiding, packed up towels and headed over to the beautiful, new Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City.

The indoor pool there is spectacular; it has a graduated (what they call “beach”) entry, it’s light and airy, and it offers family locker rooms along a corridor lined with changing tables. At $5/person per entry, it’s a no-brainer. We got you suited up in your Bummis Swimmi diaper, pulled on your adorable miniature trunks and threw you in. Just kidding. We waded in with you in our arms, and you took to the pool like, well, a fish to water. You LOVED it. You splashed and played and smiled and laughed the whole time. Your friend Claire, who’s just 10 days older than you, joined us with her mom and dad. You two didn’t pay much attention to each other, but at least you shared toys nicely.

We stayed in the water for 45 minutes, and if it had been up to you, you probably would’ve stayed longer. We can’t wait to go back with you; we’re thinking we might celebrate Mother’s Day by heading over there with Nonna.

Tomorrow, we have our second full Friday together, and what a treat it is to be able to take the time off work to be with you on a regular basis. I’m glad about the timing, too, since Daddy and I will be away from you overnight for the first time this weekend (riot allowing). Nonna gifted us an overnight stay in a B&B in the city for our birthdays, and we’re planning to go out to a fancy dinner and, perhaps best of all, sleep. And sleep in.

Nonna and Opa will be staying with you, so of course I’m not worried about your well-being. I’m a little worried about how much we’ll miss each other (me more than you, for sure), but this is a great thrown-into-the-deep-end test and good practice, if a slightly different scenario, for when we go to the beach with Nonna and Opa in June and to Italy in October. It’s a change of routine for all of us, and it’ll be interesting to see how we all cope.

You continue to love daycare, and daycare loves you back, mostly. The older kids there adore you, especially one little 2-year-old boy named Elliott. He waits by the front window for you to arrive, then rushes to your side and holds your hand while Daddy extracts you from the car seat. Ms. Gina, your daycare provider, is smitten. She loves you like you’re her own, and she sends us lots of photos of you while we’re at work. You get excited to see me when I come pick you up at the end of the day–even waving hello when I walk through the door–but you’re more than happy to be there, playing with your friends, all day. Recently, you’ve been ousted from your “youngest” spot by a 9-week-old baby girl. Nine weeks! I can’t even imagine. I’m so, so, so thankful that we were able to keep you at home until you were seven months old.

Especially since the Daycare Runny Nose has begun. A couple of weekends ago, you had an extremely cranky couple of days that marked the start of your third illness in four months. While it began with a fever, your temperature normalized quickly (we kept you home from daycare only for a day) but you’ve continued to have congestion and a slow but constant trickle from your nose. You seem to be improving over the past couple of days, now that it’s been fully two weeks that you’ve been dealing with it. I noticed the 9-week-old’s nose was running, too.

Here’s to a healthy ramp-up to summer!

This Week in Guppy Growth

It’s been well more than a week, so we’ve got quite a few new things going on …

  • You’ve begun to wave hello and goodbye, thanks in large part to daycare, where you watch the other kids come and go. It’s kind of a whole-arm flapping, but it gets the job done.
  • You’re still not crawling on all fours, except for maybe a few paces here and there. You prefer to be on your tummy and drag yourself about. That being said, I’ve watched you transition from sitting to all fours and just this morning, with the tiniest bit of help from me, you pulled yourself up to your knees from crawling and played with the activities on the top of your cube for several minutes, balancing yourself completely upright on your knees.
  • You “sing along” to some of your favorite songs, like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “You Are My Sunshine.” You love to play Pat-a-Cake, clapping your hands, and This Little Piggy.
  • You’re babbling constantly. So far, you’ve mastered “baba,” “gaga” and “mama.” No real words yet, of course.
  • You got your first real boo-boo last weekend, when you rolled and flipped yourself out of the hammock we’d just set up out back. Luckily, you fell only a couple of inches; still you landed face first and got a huge, egg-shaped welt on your forehead. You cried, but I think you scared yourself more than it hurt. You’re such a tough cookie. (Daddy and I cried for you, don’t worry.)
  • Your solid-food repertoire is impressive. Recently, you’ve tasted (and liked): salmon, shrimp, hard-boiled egg, kiwi, cheese, pasta with ricotta, yogurt (you fiend) and, perhaps most exciting, Osem Bamba, an Israeli puff snack made from peanut flour. I had to buy it on Amazon (although Nonna found it later at Harris Teeter), but our intention with this is to ward off any nut allergies, per recent research.
  • No teeth yet. This doesn’t surprise me, as I didn’t get my teeth until quite late (around a year), but you’re drooling like crazy. We’ve started dressing you daily in bandana bibs.



sick guppy

27/28 weeks

Two weekends ago was one of the best ever: We took you to our beloved National Aquarium for the first time, followed by our second-only date night since you were born.

You were in wonderland at the aquarium (which, by the way, has a secret family room complete with screened-off compartments for nursing–brilliant!). You were mesmerized by the rainbow of graceful swimmers behind those huge glass panels, and you really focused and took it all in. It was crowded and noisy, and you spent quite a bit of time watching the people around you, too. By the time we took a break for lunch, you were overstimulated and exhausted. I turned you around in the Bjorn so you faced in and could rest your head on my chest, and within minutes, you had wandered off into your dreams. No doubt you were dreaming of your first out-of-utero snorkeling excursion!

That night, Nonna and Opa babysat so we could have an evening out to celebrate your Aunt Danielle’s birthday. It was the first time we’d ever skipped bedtime with you, and while it was a little heart wrenching (I ran straight to your room to kiss you goodnight when we got home), it was so nice to have an adult-oriented evening out with friends.

The next day (the first day of March), winter whipped us yet again with an icy, frigid mess in the form of frozen rain. We probably wouldn’t have gone out, but your Aunt Peggy had invited us for lunch, and since she lives five minutes from us, we figured it would be an opportunity to get you out of the house. While the world outside was enveloped in a treacherous sheet of ice, we ate warm soup and yummy sandwiches–and you joined us at the table (literally, as we’d forgotten the tray for your high chair), eating sweet potato and banana. It’s a good thing Peggy had an oilcloth on the table; you made a mess!

That evening, while we were playing in your room, you army crawled for the first time, pulling yourself forward on your elbows determinedly to reach a toy. So you’re officially on the move, and you’re surprisingly efficient at getting places without using your knees, so Daddy and I now have to work, quickly, at making the house safe for you.

On Monday night, I heard you cough for the first time ever; it was a sad, little noise. I didn’t think too much of it, especially since we had your six-month well visit scheduled for the following morning. Daddy and I both went with you, and we asked your pediatrician to listen to your lungs; she said they sounded clear. You got another round of shots that day (two plus an oral vaccine), and you took them like a champ.

By Thursday, though, when winter raged one last time and dumped another 6-8 inches of snow on us, your cough had erupted into something much nastier. Your fever had peaked at 102.5 (scary!), and we were plying you with Tylenol to keep it low. You were congested and miserable, your cough had become raspy and rattling and you were wheezing when you breathed. You woke multiple times a night because you couldn’t breathe, but you fought us with all your might when we approached with the saline nose drops and the snot sucker.

Nonna and I got you back in to the doctor’s on Friday, and your pediatrician prescribed a steroid inhaler, assuring us it was just in case things got worse (your fever was under control) because your lungs still sounded clear. Trying to find an aerochamber attachment and pediatric mask for this Albuterol inhaler on a Friday night (I won’t bore you with the details of the multiple phone calls to pharmacies, prescription carrier, insurance, durable medical equipment suppliers and so on) was akin to searching for the holy grail. On Saturday, I asked the pediatrician on call how other parents manage to do this, and he set us up with a nebulizer and a new prescription for the Albuterol liquid solution that works with the machine.

By Saturday afternoon, when nothing had gotten any better, we’d decided a nebulizer treatment was warranted. After a first failed attempt at getting you to sit still with the mask anywhere near your face, we figured out that plopping you in front of the TV while sitting in my lap kept you calm enough for me to hold the mask over your nose and mouth for the five minutes required for the treatment. And it did really seem to help.

But by Monday, our nights had become nightmares. You woke multiple times, screaming in what sounded like sheer agony. Nothing could calm you: not  picking you up and walking with you, not Tylenol, not gripe water, not saline nose drops and snot sucking (that only seemed to make things worse), not singing, not rocking, nothing. One night, you screamed for nearly an hour straight. Another night, I broke down and nursed you somewhere in the deepest depths of the middle of the night, something I haven’t done since you were a month old. None of us were getting any sleep, and your panicked screaming started to scare us.

Mimi and I took you back in to the doctor on Monday, and again she confirmed your lungs were clear. We were just going to have to wait this out, she said, and indicated that if you were battling RSV, as she suspected, it might be three to four weeks before you were completely rid of it. We just needed to stay the course.

Every day, we hoped that night would be better. Still, the screaming continued. I resolved to give it a few more days and then take you back in; the screaming wasn’t normal, and I was afraid something more serious was going on.

But then, just like that, things began to improve. On Thursday, you were looking and feeling significantly better. Your breathing had cleared, and the wheezing and raspy cough had dissipated. You were still waking up a couple of times at night, but when you did, your cry sounded much more like you. On Saturday morning, I looked over at the clock when I heard you cry for the first time, and I actually rubbed my eyes and looked at it again to make sure I was seeing it correctly: 6:45 a.m. You’d slept for almost 12 hours straight.

And so here we are, having lived through your first significant upper-respiratory infection (with Daddy and I now trying to fight it off ourselves). I can only imagine what’s to come once you start daycare in a couple of weeks (eek!). Our job is to try to keep you as healthy as possible–and when we can’t, to keep you as comfortable as possible. Those 10 nights or so were rough, and I can tell you now there’s absolutely nothing worse than listening to your baby scream and watching the minutes tick by on the nursery clock. But that, too, passes. May we never have to pull out that nebulizer again.

This Week in Guppy Growth

  • You are army crawling everywhere–and you’re so fast. You are highly motivated by your wooden activity block, your push toy, the cat condo and (strangely) the edges of your play mat and your rug upstairs (you like pulling them up). Also, you like swiveling yourself in full circles while on your tummy on the wooden floor.
  • You tried butternut squash for the first time and loved it. You also like honeydew, although perhaps not quite as much as cantaloupe.
  • We’ve officially lowered your crib mattress one notch.