June 28, 2007

What, to a plum, is the fourth of july?

Friends, we are heading out of town. Just an fyi that if we're not here posting it will be because we are eating Julie's homemade peach ice cream, or paddling in the wading pool with Emma, or chasing grammy's cat Olivia, or shopping at the newly-built fireworks warehouse (because the old fireworks warehouse BURNT DOWN, can you imagine), or participating in a greased watermelon contest, or teasing my dad for stealing all the tootsie rolls at the parade (even though the CANDY is for the CHILDREN, DAD), or watching Ada run feral through the woods.

Happy Fourth, everyone!

June 26, 2007

Product Placement

This morning, it feels a little like a 1950's commercial around here, with two housewives standing around, sipping coffee, saying to each other, "I just love pretreating my laundry with Simple Green! It gets out the toughest stains! And it's biodegradable, too!" Seriously, except for the fact that B and I are standing around, sweaty, in our underwear and not looking powdered and fresh in sweater sets, that is pretty much what's it's like. We really had this conversation: we think we prefer "Simple Green" to "Spray and Wash" laundry spray; that Simple Green is better for the narsty green vegetable puke stains.

On the other hand, we can't totally say that the Simple Green is better, because we also inadvertantly changed detergents at the same time that we changed laundry sprays. Is the difference the Simple Green, or the Tide detergent, which may or may not actually be better than the Costco brand? And does Simple Green work better because it's just stronger, and leaches out color, too? And is simple green really all envrironmentally healthy? Because if you accidentally inhale some, it makes your lungs feel like a superfund site.

I guess what we need is another housewife to swing by with a bundt cake and a bottle of the most definite best laundry product. If that is you, please let us know. We can provide a martini and many envious gazes. That Housewife X! Her laundry always looks fantastic!

June 24, 2007

More of the same

These two videos do not show any new skills, nor do they show Elliot's new proto-skill, which is making a gesture which might be the successful making of "up" sign--that is, poking up in the air with a pointed finger--or which might, less charmingly, be the only semi-successful picking of his nose.*

These videos don't show those things.

However, despite their redundancy and possibly irritating self-indulgence, we are posting them because this is our blog, dammit, and if we want to post reduntant and self-indulgent videos of our wee child, then YOU CAN'T STOP US.

They do show Elliot standing around casually in a nightgown (thanks Julia!), which is kind of new. The standing, not the nightgown. Anyway, it kind of knocks me out, how cute he is, which these videos document by including my enthusiastic maternal screetchings.

*Really, this whole signing thing is a little confusing. We've been somewhat half-hearted about the signing, because of the obvious reasons (I mean, really? infant sign language?), and also because an irritating number of signs involve two hands, and if you are the parent of an infant you never have two free hands. But we've persevered a little, because clearly it would be cool. And now this weekend, when we have made the up sign at Elliot he has several times seemed to make it back to us. We have both noticed this. But it's confusing because he also just likes to point, even when he does not think we are watching him, and also because he's definitely interested in "pointing" into his nostrils.

We'll see.

June 23, 2007

Things Elliot Likes: A partial list, in no particular order

1: His reflection in the dishwasher
2: Tearing leaves off a particular plant in the study
3: His new toy from Nancy, which involves whapping wooden balls through a wooden box
4: The cord on the kitchen telephone
5: Rolling a bottle around the kitchen floor, and chasing after it
6: The crazy toy roxanne lent us, which has lots of bells and whistles
7: Trying to pull himself up on my legs
8: His bath
9: Books with things to grab
10: Things that beep (particularly the phone and the remote control)
11: Chewing on keys
12: Cheerios
13: His rubber ducky
14: Ada

More News from the Front

"The Front," of course, being Elliot's gums. It seems they are currently doing...i dunno, battle, with a third upper tooth. Elliot is not happy about being felt up in his gum region, but we have confirmed that you can both see and feel glimpses of this third tooth, which is on his upper left.

I am at once thrilled at Elliot's tooth-getting precociousness and vaguely put out by his approaching assymetry. Three teeth on top! How odd. I guess we will just have to hope for a fourth soon.

In other news, this morning Elliot was puttering around and commenting on the world (he's very chatty) and said a series of sounds that sounded awfully like, "Zenidene...Zidane!" Wouldn't it be awesome if those were his first words? Our little futbol announcer.

June 22, 2007

Question about sizes

Elliot's age = 9.5 months.
Size = 9.5 months.

He's average size -- more of your middle-pack runner, Elliot is. Graham is another story. We're still waiting by the mailbox for Zutano hand-me-down pants from Graham, who is, let's review, TWO MONTHS YOUNGER.

The Most Uneventful Video in the World...

. . . .except for those who know it's the most awesome thing ever! "Fit audience though few," as Mr. Milton said.

June 21, 2007

"...Say Yeah!"

Friends, we are happy and we know it. Thus, we: CLAP OUR HANDS!!! That's right, Elliot has acquired another new significant skill: hand clapping. Thrillingly, B and I were both there when he clapped for the first time this afternoon. We were walking along and Elliot seemed to clap in an accidental yet extremely effective fashion: he made a loud CLAP. He paused. He smiled. And then burst into hysterically laughter, followed by more clapping, and then more laughing. Clapping and laughing. Clap clap clap.

We are very excited about this, since we've been trying to encourage clapping for a while now with no success. It's amazing how apt the song is: he quickly associated clapping with happiness. Later in the afternoon Elliot clapped again, when he saw me making another baby laugh. I would smooch the baby, she would laugh, and Elliot--on cue!--would burst into applause.

Later, when he was tired and fussy and knew that he was for sure not happy, there was nooo applause.

Not that the applause is very loud or even really audible; the clapping at this point is a little, how shall we say...short bus. Is that mean? I'm sorry. But it's the best description I can think of. But even if it is a little "special" it is extremely charming. I shall try and document it's awesomeness soon.

In other news, the weather is gorgeous and we have good friends with whom to enjoy it. Today, for the second day in a row, my neighborhood mamas and I got together to savor the day (yesterday we were joined by a papa and a Kati, which was also very lovely). We talked about: childcare, the fear of accidentally killing your child, environmental recovery scenarios, how gender affects parenting, union policy, the hypocrisy of supporting a pro-life agenda without also advocating for substantial changes to education and welfare laws, mormonism, and antebellum slave legislation. We also debating the merits of "corn" versus "sweet potato" gerber star puffs, and discussed whether spinach causes diaper rash. Needless to say, I clap my hands. To my life, I say, "yeah!"

June 19, 2007


Here's a post we wish we'd read on the internet sometime in the last 9 months. So we'll just write it for someone else to find.

Garage sales and hand-me-downs
The way to go!

Really nice baby clothes that are pretty expensive. Nice thick cottons that wash well and last a long time.

Nota bene: Gymboree sometimes has great sales on their website, as was pointed out to us by Whitney. I won't pay $26 for any garment for my baby, no matter how cute and clever the monkey embroidered on the front. However, $6.99 is another matter entirely.

There's a sale on right now, in fact, though it's pretty picked over.

Baby Gap
Mixed feelings about Baby Gap. We've only been in the store a few times, and we don't entirely like it. So many of the clothes seem to be based around the idea that it's really super fun to dress a baby like an adult. (Put them in jeans, for example. Tease their hair. Who knows.) In any case, we don't happen to share this idea. We like our baby to look like a baby.

That said, some of our all-time favorite baby clothes have come from Baby Gap -- things he has worn many, many times. Things that are cute and sturdy.

Old Navy
The cheaper version of Baby Gap, and the quality is not as good -- the fabric is thinner, and quicker to fade. Nonetheless, a couple of our favorite long-sleeve long-pant one-pieces are from Old Navy.

The prints come in fun colors, but the quality is questionable and not nearly worth the money. We've seen the fabric fade after only a few washings, and heard reports of same from others. The fit of the clothes can be weird. Even the snaps can be strange. (Yes, we have developed opinions on snaps.)

There's one caveat about Zutano: the socks are excellent. We toast their socks! All through the winter, Elliot constantly wore -- as you might imagine -- socks. And they were almost always Zutano socks, because they stay on. Simple!

Babies R Us
They have a lot of "outfits". We are scared of "outfits". We have mostly used them for buying onesies and basics. (Sleeping gowns, for example.)

The kindness of others
It might sound like we buy Elliot a lot of clothes, but it's not so -- there's just a lot of turnover. And a lot of washing. Plus, there's a whole team of people who always make sure that Elliot has enough -- of everything. Food, clothes, attention, entertainment, wishes, smiles. Our friends and family are good to us, and good to our boy.

June 17, 2007


Basically, we can't believe it. I know clever Anni has been playing peek-a-boo for a while now, but--even so, this is rocking our world.

And Elliot's too...when he first started playing, he was straight up belly laughing. Hysterics! He finds himself SO FUNNY! He is so funny. Nancy said, "Elliot, eventually you're going to have to stop laughing at your own jokes.

June 16, 2007

Extra Extra!

Elliot's top two teeth have broken through! One tooth more in than the other, but both there! Some fuzziness detected! Further updates as event warrant!

June 15, 2007


When I picked him up this morning, Elliot said, "aaaaa...Mama." He did! Then he said "aaaamagabala! brrrrrrr. ga! dadadadada." So I'm not taking the "mama" as a major accomplishment, but I do think it's a step in the right direction. "M" sounds a hard for bebes.

Elliot is starting to have little flecks of gold around the pupils of his eyes...which is beautiful, but which I confess to being a little bummed about. We Mesle's have all blue eyes, and my great hope for Elliot was that he'd get Harvey hair (which curls) and Mesle eyes. But it seems we're working more towards a hazelly blue, like Brandon's.

My Aunt Nan is here visiting right now, and it is so nice.

Sometimes when Elliot had been crying for a while, and then all of a sudden stops, I think it's sort of what it must have been like to be in the trenches, in WWI, with guns firing for so long, for what seems like forever, and then they stop, and it's quiet, but you don't know if it's because you've really won or if it's because they've just paused to reload and start firing again.

You can tell we are urban hippy parents, because we've decided we prefer the Whole Foods Organic Cheerios (for "Whole Kids!") to the trader joe's whole wheat organic ones. Even though we hate the "Whole Kids!" schtick.

The weather here is amazing. Sublime. I can't believe how ideal it is; it's like a fantasy of a summer day.

Apropos of nothing except the nice weather, here is a little video of Elliot and his neighbor friend, Gillian. Note that while Gillian holds her flower delicately, Elliot holds little red bits which were a flower, until he joyfully shredded them past recognition.

June 14, 2007

Yesterday's Elliot Cam

This little video features Elliot's new ability to leave a room when it no longer interests him. It still shocks me that he can do this. Last night before bed Elliot "crawled" from the bathroom to the front room, sat for a minute under Brandon's desk, and then went into the bedroom to see what was happening in there. And then he crawled around some more.

June 12, 2007

Addendum to Brandon's Observation that Elliot is Like a Rock Climber

So I was thinking about Elliot's ever-increasing motor skills yesterday as I myself...went rock climbing.* I had never been rock climbing before, but I had long wanted to and a friend of ours offered to let me tag along when he went yesterday (thanks Vincent!).

Anyway, here's the thing about rock climbing: it is really kind of frustrating. You're hanging there, on a vertical surface, with only precarious little nooks and crannies to hold on to. A lot of your time is spent figuring out what to do next, and a lot more of your time, if you're me, is spent being frustrated because you have figured out what to do next but aren't strong enough to do it. So you hang there, straining. Sometimes someone from down below says something encouraging, and that's nice, because you are working hard, and because it's a reminder that someone is watching you and you are safe. But they can't help you.

Which, I guess, is why it's so rewarding when you do figure it out and you do make your inchworm way up along that funny surface. You have figured it out, and you have made it happen. The moments of figuring it out--I had a few of them--are so pleasing. And then when you are done, whenever you decide that is, you swing free, and someone eases you safely down.

Which is to all to say: it seems like this really must be what it is like to be an infant. Everything new and precarious, every moment requiring your full attention.

It makes me a little jealous of Elliot, actually, though it also makes me appreciate how hard he is working. It seems he like must be living with such amazing intent. No wonder he laughs randomly, for what seems like no reason: he must be having a joyful moment of his mind and body working together to figure something out.

*O, people who know clumsy me, don't worry. This was very safe rock climbing, on a wall, with lots of ropes and harnesses and safety precautions. About the worst you can do is bang your knee--which, of course, I did.

June 10, 2007

Living Room

We adults sit on the couch, or on a chair, or on the floor in our living room. We pose our limbs however we like. We enjoy beverages and edibles, and converse amongst ourselves.

Meanwhile, very near by, a smaller person has to grunt and moan his way through the most grueling displays of physical prowess that he can muster, day in and day out. Where we come to relax, he comes to do battle: against gravity, against leverage, against mass, against his own nervous system. It's sort of strange to be sharing a space with someone going through something like this.

Six weeks ago, he would be spread-eagled on the floor, panting and rolling his eyes like a wild horse from the effort of trying to, say, pivot his left arm downwards toward the side of his body so he could roll over. At some point, he figured out how to manage that trick -- and many other tricks besides.

And now the game has moved to a whole other level; he tells me he's thinking more about this "standing" thing, and he wants to try it. But then he interrupts himself to spend a while prying up the rug -- which he's sitting on -- to see what's underneath. After a while, he turns back to me -- but he's forgotten what he was saying again.

I'm always so impressed by the elasticity of his mind and the depths of his good nature, to cope with such futility and struggle, so constantly.

I said to Sarah, it's as though we were sitting in lawn chairs at the top of a sheer rock face thousand feet high, while one of our friends free-climbed it. We murmur encouragements, we lower down a (sippy) cup of water -- what else can we do? Like the sad songs say, Elliot has to walk that lonesome valley by himself. But fortunately, he's not the least bit sad about it.


June 09, 2007

Things we find ourselves saying

"Any sign of poopsy-doops? No? That's too bad."

Elliot Management

Remember how I told you that Elliot and I had "agreed" that he would sleep until six? Well. He is not, just now, upholding his side of the bargain. This is the second day in a row he has woken up at 5:15. This morning he went back to sleep for a little bit, without intervention from me, but now he is awake again and crying the cry of One-Who-Is-Clearly-Fine-But-Just-Pissed-Off: AAAAAA! AAAAH! huh. Huhhuhhuh. AAAA!

I'm going in there in a second to try and reason with him. I sigh the sigh of One-Who-Is-Awake-But-Not-Happy-About-It.

June 08, 2007

Stray Thoughts

I've been meaning to jot down a few things. Here's one.

One thing I've noticed over & again is how strongly his small person reaches out, cries out, for the hard things. He wants: clasps, handles, edges, buckles, the metal or plastic part of anything. And it's always been this way. He yearns -- visibly -- for cords and things that can twist. He likes wooden blocks, plastic chain links, metal spoons, and a little purple carabiner we have. Things that crinkle and crack -- foils, plastic product clamshells, the paper jackets of books, and the hard backs of the books themselves. He loves the hard black lozenges that protrude from the front of the television and the VCR.

Everything soft, mushy, plush, and fuzzy pretty much holds no fascination for him.

How funny, then, the way we grownups give in so often to the impulse to give children soft things -- stuffed animals, blankets, towels, cushions, and pads. We give them these things because we like to project our own urge for softness onto them. Tiny children give us permission to be soft -- finally.

They are good-natured little creatures, and don't mind our predilections -- they simply ignore them.


June 07, 2007

Brandon's comment on the day

"Cheerios are the new running gag of my life. There are cheerios everywhere. There was a cheerio in my taco."

Happy Three-Quarters

Nine months! He is nine months old today. Here are some things to know about Elliot, at nine months:

*He likes to scootch around

*Next to scootching around, he likes Cheerios. You know how the other day I was asking about baby discipline? The answer to the question of baby discipline is "cheerios." Elliot will do anyting for some cheerios.

*Yesterday, when Shayna referred to Elliot by name, he totally stopped what he was doing and looked at her.

*Sometimes if he is fussing and he sees you make the sign for something he wants ("up," "milk") he will stop fussing and smile.

*He has, a couple of times, seemed scared of things, lately. This is totally new. Along similar lines, he's had a couple episodes of something approximating separation anxiety, which I have been very pleased we have thus far avoided, but which I must confess secretly pleased me when it happened.

*Elliot is right this moment launching a friendly assault on his favorite plant, which means I have to go.

June 05, 2007

Another Developmental Quandry

So, when can you start disciplining an infant? I mean: not disciplining exactly. Not punishing. More just...managing. Like classroom management, but at home, with your infant.

Here's the deal: Elliot is now pretty mobile, and there are various things that he likes to do that he should not do. Like pull himself up onto the TV, or crawl under the coffee table where he can too easily whap his head.

My general thought on this is that, first, you should remove all the things you can that might be tantalizing to das infant, if you do not want das infant to have them. But after that...how does this go? I know that Elliot is not willfully doing things that he knows he shouldn't do. So it's not like he's breaking rules, exactly. But how, and when, is it useful to start teaching him that there are rules? If he gets too close to the TV, should I just pick him up and put him down somewhere else? Or do I need to say "uhuh!" first, so he learns that?

I have done a lot of teaching of older childers, so I have some fairly well thought through ideas on what's fair and effective in terms of dealing with kids. But I realize that I really haven't thought at all about discipline and the pre-verbal set. It strikes me that sleep training is a form of management...but that's about getting your children to do something, right? This is getting Elliot not to do something, without the ability to specify for him what that is. Interesting pedagogical challenge, I'd say.

Some ps's

PS1: So, like, can we not restart the cold war right now, Mr. President? I know Putin sucks, but I have enough to think about without worrying that my child too is going to grow up with the looming threat of nuclear war. I thought we were over this.

PP2: Elliot seems to have no interest in actual crawling. But he's getting much speedier in his crabwalking, as is evidenced below.

PP3: just as a heads up: i think we might have a few more videos than normal, the next little while. I don't mean to bore the onlookers, but we really want to document the whole "moving" thing for Elliot's grandfolk, none of whom live close enough to watch in person.

June 03, 2007

Two Videos that show a little bit of life with Elliot

we keep trying to document the inchworming that is his current stand-in for crawling, but it's hard to do.

June 01, 2007

How we're doing on "child-proofing"

When he was here last weekend, my Dad put door latches on the cabinets under the sink. Also, there's no longer a compound mitre saw sitting in the middle of our dining room floor.

Quick Note

Elliot slept until 6:30 am today. I can't fully describe how wonderful and amazing that is. My normal "deal" with him, negotiated entirely within my own mind, is that he must must must sleep until 6, and if he wakes before then he just has to deal with it because I AM NOT GETTING UP AT 5:30, PEOPLE. So we've had an uneasy concensus on this point. But 6:30! That is so much better, so much later, so much more civilized than 6. If he would sleep until 6:30 everyday, it would give me a whole new lease on life.