Friday, March 28, 2008

Blog ohne Thema

Well I seem to be suffering from blogger's block. Don't know what to say.
Chloé's being clingy so it's hard to write an essay while she's climbing on me and I can't leave her on the floor crying. She usually sleeps about half an hour in the mornings and then half an hour in the afternoons, so that doesn't provide much opportunity to write.
But now it's evening, the baby's in bed, my husband is cooking dinner...I have time. But still no topic.
I was just looking at a website for a shoe store. I was looking for these Spanish shoes I want to buy (just a note - I've found several pairs of FABULOUS shoes from Spain recently, I think I may have to go there on a shopping spree), I don't know why, they're right there in the store in Stuttgart, but I wanted to see them online for some reason. But anyway this website advertised their "shoe parties." Wow. They deliver about 250 pairs of shoes to your house where you and your friends can try them on while sipping champagne (their suggestion was prosecco, but at my party we'd definitely have champagne...). I'm ready! Let's do it. I even have friends I could invite. And I get a discount based on what the others buy. What a deal.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Making strides

My eight-and-a-half-month-old (do I need all those dashes?!) daughter wants to walk.

She seems to feel that crawling is an unnecessary phase in achieving mobility. She's been turning in circles for about two months, pushing herself backwards for a month. In the last two weeks she's started launching herself forward with one foot to reach a toy that's not too far away. But apparently she finds pulling her knees up and sticking her butt in the air too much work for too little progress. Why stand on all fours rocking back and forth, not moving anywhere and unable to reach and grab a toy (or piece of fuzz)? Pointless. Better to stay on your belly and scoot in all directions. Hands are free and mobility, within about a five foot radius, is assured.

Until last weekend, when, while sitting on the floor in front of her daddy playing with the colorful wooden blocks, she reached out, grabbed the sleeves of his sweatshirt, and pulled herself up onto her feet. Then she smiled, as proud as any eight month old could be. (Daddy smiled pretty proudly, too.) Those first moments were very unstable, since balancing en pointe takes years of practice which she just hasn't had.

Meanwhile she's standing (usually) on her whole foot. The wobbling continues, as does the proud smiling. Frustration (not only for Chloe) is an issue because she can't stand herself but wants to do it all the time.

This morning standing in front of her, I reached down and grabbed her hands. She pulled herself up. I moved a step backwards. She took a step forwards. Wow! I said. Great! Take another step? I stepped back again. Four steps she took. Relying completely on my supporting hands, still the initiative, the steps and the pride and confidence were all her own.

Besides the literal strides, Chloe's also become quite dexterous. She picks things up with thumb and forefinger, and is interested in everything smaller than one square centimeter. She pushes tiny pieces of paper around the floor, grabs the string attached to the beach ball (and knows that in pulling the string the ball follows), and bangs any two objects together to make "music."

It's really funny to watch her in her high chair at the table, playing with the sippy cup lids: they aren't quite cylindrical, so they roll around randomly like weeble wobbles. This is fascinating but confusing. Now she expects everything to roll in all directions, so she pushes any given toy (say, a little plush giraffe) and looks surprised when it moves a couple of centimeters but then just lies there. She shoves it again; same thing happens. I have to laugh.

But sleeping is not one of her strong points. Or to express it optimistically, she's an outstanding non-sleeper. I call her a nano-napper: during the day, she generally takes two or three half-hour naps. Unless we go for a walk in the stroller, and then she might sleep for as long as an hour and a half. Nights, we are currently enjoying what, if it were a sport, would be called extreme sleeping. Gaetan gets her to sleep pretty well, around 8, and sometimes she sleeps until 11 or even 12. Then the fun begins. I nurse her, and she falls asleep right away. I fall asleep right away. I could sleep until 6 or 7 in the morning, Chloe might wake up again an hour later. I don't want to nurse her so soon, and when she realizes that there is no boob in the offering, she cries. So we go into the living room, where lately she's been falling asleep within a few minutes. Before (and, as it happens, last night) it was half an hour (or an hour) of Chloe crying, swinging her head from one side to the other like one of those crazy bears in the zoo, followed by sleep that could easily be interrupted by placing her back in her bed. By the time she slept again, I was wide awake and wouldn't get back to sleep before it all started again (in an hour). But, as I said, this seems to be getting better, and I tend to quickly fall asleep. When she wakes again, I nurse her, she falls asleep, we're all happy. When she cries again, I'm pissed off: at Chloe, for robbing me of my sleep and making nights a nightmare; at Gaetan, for not waking up; at myself, for supporting this. This goes on, every 2 hours if were lucky, every hour if we're not. Mornings, either she sleeps until 6:30 or 7, or Gaetan gets up at 5:30 or 6 with her (he has to get up for work anyway) and lets me sleep until 7. Thank goodness.

So those are a few of the latest infant developments. Don't get me wrong - she's a great baby and I couldn't be happier. Well, I'd probably be happier if I could sleep, but who needs sleep when there's so much life going on?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Internet friendship

I love the internet. I can find information about anything I want in any language. Okay, I may spend hours reading through a bunch of stuff that I'm not looking for in order to find what I'm looking for, but the information is out there somewhere in that digital world, and I don't have to leave home to get it. I can buy books, clothes, or airplane tickets, rent movies, get film developed (digital, at least), read movie reviews on films that haven't even been released yet in Germany. Apparently I can also download pirated movies, watch child porn, or order assault rifles from some country out east, but I haven't taken advantage of these possibilities.
Also I no longer have to buy pen and paper to write to my friends, I can e-mail them: it's quicker, easier and cheaper. Or I can talk to them live on Skype or Yahoo Messenger or Windows Live Messenger. I can keep in touch with friends using sites like Facebook or Linked-In or MySpace. With Facebook it's literally as easy as a touch of a button to connect with someone, or with all of my friends at once.
Wow. The internet is AMAZING.
But is it really? How reliable is this communication? Can we really call it communication?
When I first started using the internet to communicate with friends (through e-mail), I realized that it was necessary for me to know the person I was writing to, and more importantly, who was writing to me. It's just too impersonal. Digital correspondence is just that: digital, 0 and 1, black and white, there's no grey or personality or emotion. As the receiver, you add the appropriate emotion, because you have an idea what the writer is feeling, because you know them. If you don't know the sender, you're probably reading your own personality into what your read.
Which is probably why meeting people over the internet is so successful: you're meeting yourself. But then when you're face to face with the live, non-digital pen pal, you discover that they're someone completely different.
But that's not my point here.
My question is: what happens when you've been out of [live] contact with a friend for so long that you can't be sure of the emotions they're sending along with their 1s and 0s? When every other sentence seems cryptic and maybe even insulting? When you become so unsure of your relationship that you start to feel there no longer is one?
I suppose the answer to these questions is to ask. It is, after all, a friend you're talking about. You do know them. Or did. You've both just gone through changes in each other's absence, so you have to catch up and find a place in the friendship for the new stuff. I believe that an established friendship can cope with even extreme experiences, assuming both parties are willing to do the work of integrating th new with the old.
At least I hope so.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sick baby

It's 4am Saturday morning. Chloé's crying (this is not unexpected), so I take her out of her crib to nurse her. But she doesn't really want to nurse. And she feels very warm. Scheisse, I think, and take her out to the living room.
Yep, she's got a temperature. 38.9 (102°F). What do I do now?!
Read. The baby book. "What if your child is sick?" chapter. Okay...Up to 39° is not too serious. Okay...So should I give her tylenol, or just put her to bed? But first, how do I get her to stop crying??
And meanwhile Gaetan is snoring away in the bedroom. Men! I think, although I know that you can hear almost nothing from the living room when both doors are closed. I decide to let him sleep. There's no point in both of us being awake.
After not too much carrying and cooing Chloé does indeed fall asleep and I put her back to bed. Gaetan wakes up when the bed squeaks as I slip under the covers.
Ca va? he asks.
Chloé has a fever, I say.
Yeah, just go to sleep, we'll see how she is in the morning.
And so we sleep.

We all sleep until 6:30 (not too bad), but the fever is still there when Chloé wakes up. It's a little higher, and after re-reading the baby book, I decide it's time to try the pharmaceutical route. After the rectal thermometer, she gets a rectal tylenol. But she takes it well.
Sitting at the table with us while we have breakfast, she seems to be feeling okay. I give her a piece of bread to play with (she hardly ever puts stuff in her mouth, although she can chew on bread as long as we're paying attention that she doesn't try to inhale a huge piece). And surprise! She eats it! Well, presses it around her mouth for a while. Everything is fine. Then she looks at me, opens her mouth a little, coughs, and pukes up the bread and all the milk she drank this morning. She's crying and looking at me with eyes that say "Fix it mommy," but all I can do is hold her and tell her it'll be alright.

I have my Writer's Group this morning but I consider staying home. Gaetan urges me to go. He sounds very confident that she's doing better and they'll be fine for the morning. Trusting in his confidence, I go.
After the meeting, everyone goes for coffee. I really enjoy spending time with these people, and I figure Gaetan and Chloé will be able to do without me for an extra half hour or so. I call him to let him know.
So how is she? I ask.
Fine, he says. Well, not really. She puked again after the carrots. Then she cried for a while. But now she's asleep.
Geez! Then I'll come home.
No, no, stay. I'll wait for you for lunch.
Wow, I think, what a great husband and daddy.

The sick baby stays warm (but not terribly hot) and cranky all afternoon. I know a fever is there to fight something undesirable in the body, so I don't want to keep giving her tylenol, but I realize her crankiness is probably a result of the fever. We try to get her to sleep as often as possible, go for walks, go in the car (all the while keeping her bundled, but not too bundled, in the Cosi). She doesn't sleep well.
In the evening we decide to give her a bath. The steam must be good, the warmth. Maybe she'll enjoy the water. She plays a little. It seems to keep her calm.
I decide to just nurse her in the evening instead of giving her a bottle and cereal. Safer. As it happens, she doesn't barf, but she doesn't sleep, either. Finally at 11pm I tell Gaetan to go to bed - again, there's no reason for both of us to be up. I'll wake him up in two hours if she's still not sleeping.
After some wandering and bouncing through the living room, she sleeps. I try to make myself...not uncomfortable on the couch, and I sleep as well, for about an hour. Then she's awake and grumbly again. Doesn't want the boob. Doesn't want to sleep. Doesn't seem to want to be touched or talked to. Again I ask, what do I do?
Almost an hour goes by and it's two o'clock. She's not sleeping, I don't know what to do besides hold her, it's time to wake up Gaetan. He did agree to get up if needed. Well, I need to sleep so he's needed. So I wake him up.
And now I've got a grouchy husband and a grouchy baby. Great. And I feel all he's doing is trying to get out of his side of the bargain: he asks if I tried to put her in bed. Yes. Did you try to feed her? Yes. When? An hour ago. Why don't you try again? Ahh!
I try again. She eats. She goes to sleep. I'm still irritated that he didn't just take her and make himself comfortable (and it was comfortable; once I didn't have a baby in my arms I was able to set up the cushions just right) on the couch. But we sleep until 4.
The next morning she seems much better. Even at 4 her fever was gone, and at 6:30 we all feel, if not bright and cheery, at least able to start the day.
This was only our second experience with sick baby in her 8 months. I consider us lucky, definitely. But I wonder if it becomes easier to deal with if baby is sick more often, if you have the experience that baby is ill but will get better. Or if it never gets easy and all you can do is keep yourself from getting sick with worry.

The Well-Beaten Baby

Really I just wanted to use this title.
One of Chloé's "toys" is a heavy-duty looking plastic whisk. Its odd shape, the material and size make it something interesting to touch, play a drum with, whatever. Also we can "beat" her like a giant egg, which she really loves, especially if there are accompanying sound effects.
But it's amazing what babies and kids can be interested in. Like with the tags, we adults can always be surprised by what draws their attention. We buy Christmas gifts, they play with the wrapping paper, or the box. We give them an intricate toy designed to challenge all of their five senses and they're entranced by the tag. It's nuts.
So why did I start this post with the whisk story? To show how ordinary household items are just as fascinating as expensive toys. Even more, kids are interested in them because they see us using them, and naturally they want to do what Mommy and Daddy do. I sit down to read my magazine, Chloé wants to read too. Or at least tear off the cover and then the rest of the pages. I start typing my blog post on the laptop, Chloé wants to type as well, although, unlike on a desktop, every time she smacks the touchpad something unexpected happens.
Still I'm glad she's so curious. It can make life difficult, but I suspect an apathetic baby won't grow up to be much more than an apathetic adult. And we have enough of those already.
But I digress.
Until next time, faithful Readers.