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The day before we got on the plane to Miami, where we are now, Elizabeth started pulling her ears.

This has happened twice before and twice we've had this conversation with a doctor:

"The ear's a little infected, but it may clear up on its own. Come back in two days."
"In two days we'll be on a plane."
"We'd better not risk it. Antibiotics."

But this time two molars have just appeared, with another on the way, and that would make anyone pull on their ears, wouldn't it? It must be the molars, we said.

It wasn't the molars. So here we are on the morning of day three of our five day trip to Miami, planning a visit to a doctor. I grab an appointment with the nearest pediatrician on the map at zocdoc.com, just a couple of miles away, and Joel rents a car and a car seat to take us there. But actually, when I look closer, I realise that the address doesn't match the map. Same street address; different city. We're booked a doctor in Homestead, a city fifty minutes to the south-west, beside the Everglades. That works: we'll go to the doctor, then see some alligators.

Joel texts from the car rental place asking me to pack a bath towel and my heart sinks, because I know what that means: the car seat is the Terrible Bolt Upright Baby Hating Car Seat, a model we've had in rental cars before. With a sufficiently fluffy towel, you can make it recline a few degrees, but not enough to sleep in. These things are also hell to install. After a lot of practice and some YouTube videos, Joel can usually do them in fifteen minutes.

Skip forward and we're finally in the car and we're late. The traffic got worse: the 50 minute drive is now 65 minutes and we didn't have any to spare. I pick up the phone to tell the doctor we're late and, as I find the number, Elizabeth abruptly throws up breakfast berries, yoghurt, tomato soup and something gelatinous I don't recognise. There's a lot of it. We're on the motorway.

I mop up what I can. I pet her hair. I get through to the doctor. No, they can't postpone the appointment by 20 minutes and actually the doctor is leaving now, 17 minutes before we're even supposed to be there. Can we come tomorrow instead? No we can not.

E would really like to sleep now and the TBUBHCS prevents that, so I set my arm up as a headrest and futz with Zocdoc on my phone with the other hand. No morning appointments, but I accept a nearby 3pm, then call the doctor's office (still one-handed: phone under my chin as I fumble in my bag for a pencil) to see if they have anything earlier. Nope, actually the doctor has left early today. Well.

We abandon Zocdoc and park outside a pharmacy where Joel starts cold-calling pediatrians in the area and I go look for wet wipes and a plastic bag and scrape the rest of the vomit off the car seat and the baby. Joel is having the kind of painful conversation that you always do with doctors' offices (repetition, clarification, polite incredulity), but he eventually finds an office that will see us in half an hour. Elizabeth chucks again.

Half an hour later. I'm in a small but very crowded waiting room, filling out paperwork ("Does the patient drink coffee?" "Not... directly?") while Joel is in the car attempting to hose down the baby. He changes her too, but the nappies are in my bag, so he uses one designed for swimming in. That's important later on. That's a gun that goes off in a later act.

Joel goes off to buy a car seat that reclines and isn't covered with vomit. Almost everyone in the waiting room is speaking Spanish. We read My Many Colored Days five times. We read Oh The Thinks You Can Think six times. Elizabeth's name is called and I shuffle through the door, walking cautiously because I left the hotel without my belt this morning and for the entire day I've been preoccupied with making sure my trousers don't fall down. The administrator asks some questions and types some information about us. She doesn't ask my demographic; I see her choose "non-Hispanic". True.

Another hour. I find a place to dispose of the bag of vomit I've been carrying around. (What, you think I left that in the car?).

Joel returns with a Kiss Me I'm Irish shirt in toddler size. E finds some babies to play with. At first I try to police whose hands go in whose mouths -- we're in a doctors office -- but it's futile. She catches whatever she catches and shares whatever she shares. She also falls and raises a welt on her forehead and I hope the doctor doesn't think I beat her.

The doctor comes in. Elizabeth, sitting on my lap, pees effusively. The swim-diaper doesn't even try. I am now wearing vomit and urine. Today is going well.

The doctor diagnoses infections in both ears. Antibiotics, see our own doctor in a week, don't fly. Luckily we have train tickets home.

It's now 5pm. I've eaten one croissant, one cappuccino and a piece of cheese that I stole from the child. I am splashed in vomit and liberally soaked in pee, my trousers are falling down, the small child on my hip is bellowing and I don't think we're going to the Everglades today. At least Joel has installed the better car seat.

First stop: Walmart for shorts and t-shirt. I change in the car on the way to the second stop: food. I'm hungry enough and the options are limited enough that I declare that Joel can pick any crappy chain place and I won't be obnoxious about it. He doesn't believe me and turns in to a Burger King to prove the point. Ok, I won't deny that I wince. Starbucks provides a protein plate: egg, cheese, peanut butter and fruit, and I don't need to order anything when Joel stops at Wendy's for a chicken sandwich.

An hour later. Almost home. Do we miss the exit for Miami and need to take a circuitous route? Of course we do! Is the kid screaming the entire way? Not quite: she stops when I read to her. We read My Many Colored Days another four times. She's been saying "duck" at the page with the blue bird, and over the four readthroughs she adds a convincing "horse" and "fish". The rate at which she picks up vocabulary right now is unbelievable. I should probably stop swearing around her soon.

South Beach! It takes a couple of pharmacies before we find one with a pharmacist and I join a long queue of people waiting to fill prescriptions. The woman in front of me is on the phone loudly bemoaning the morals of people who cut in line to ask the pharmacist a quick question and then stay ten minutes. The man behind me is not on the phone so he loudly tells me about it instead. The woman who is at the front of the queue pretends not to hear and stolidly continues her conversation with the pharmacist.

The prescription will take 40 minutes. We drive to a fancy hippy organic smoothie and sandwich shop and I run in to get us fancy hippy organic sandwiches. On the way back we take a wrong turn and accidentally get on the bridge back to Miami. I find this impossibly hilarious.

Back to the pharmacy. They've got the antibiotics but the nausea drug the doctor prescribed doesn't exist. They've faxed for clarification. It's 8:30pm. We'll do without the anti-nausea drug. The pharmacist says that flat 7up will do the same thing anyway. I always thought that was an Irish thing, like whiskey for toothache and poitin for everything.

Hotel, oh thank god. Milk and drugs into the kid. Sandwiches into everyone else. Joel and E are asleep before they're fully horizontal. I open a beer and tell the internet about my day.

Baby in being a person shocker. Today e was a full member of the household twice. Our Sunday mornings predictably involve two lattes and two quiches from Smith Canteen. This morning we got three quiches. She doesn't get a latte yet.

This evening Joel put up coat cooks: his coat, my coat, e’s coat, all hanging in a row.

Maybe this is why today we realised that we’re going to need a dining table that sits three people. She’ll graduate from a high chair at some point.

It turns out that babies are people. Or at least they turn into people at some point. It’s very strange and I like it.

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Baby update. Baby steps

It's not the first step, but it's a first step. I have a bunch of six second videos of her looking like she's going to walk and then sitting down, diving for a handhold, or smoothly turning it into a crawl. Come on, Fizzbuzz, you can do this.

She's talking all the time now. Every day we get a few moments where she says "nana" to a banana, "god" to a dog, "turta" to her turtle, or "boo" when uncovering the bear in the peekaboo book. "Did that happen?", we ask. "Was that a coincidence?" Unclear. Either way, her babbling sounds like English now and she has a lot to say.

Her little paws are getting good at manipulating objects. She puts things into other things and gets really excited when they fit neatly together. She waves at people all the time too. She's ridiculously social. My parents took care of her for all the time we were in Zurich and got very used to saying "No, sorry, we don't speak any German" to people she waved and smiled at. She has zero stranger-danger and currently would go home with anyone. This is kind of alarming. Joel and I are still all stranger-danger all the time, so we don't know where this gregarious small person came from.

She thinks books are great. She thinks phones and things shaped like phones are amazing. This is because bad parenting. She's cheerful of disposition and it's very easy to make her smile, but it's hard to make her laugh. You can do it, but you'll work for it.

She likes soup and ramen and cheese and crab and crackers and corn and fish and sometimes egg, if you get her in the right mood, and enchiladas and chile rellenos within reason. We've mostly managed to avoid sugar so far, though we'll see how long we can keep that going. We'd like her to not be a picky eater, but a bunch of people have told us that no matter how epicurean your one year old, a two year old will suddenly refuse to eat anything other than pasta and cheese, and you can't do much about it. I hope it's not true.

We still haven't officially shortened Elizabeth, but sometimes she's Liz and sometimes she's Fizz, and daycare calls her Lizzy, which I like. She's Baba and Babacakes and Caca Baba and Baba Milis and Elizabeth J Reilly Votaw the Third even though she's not really the third anything.

She is so great. I can't even really communicate how much fun she is, and she gets even better every day. She's a reasonable dinner companion now. I can go to a restaurant with her, just the two of us, and we can sort of hang out and have a good time. She's relaxed and curious while travelling: you can tell that airports try her patience, but she's less grumpy than we are. I can't wait until we can talk properly. We're going to do some cool stuff together.

A year of pictures is at hhttp://whereistanya.smugmug.com/Family/.

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Yeah, it looks like a five year old made it. I don't make a lot of pies. Tastes reasonable enough though.

I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying cooking. It's not really something I've had much interest in before, but recently I get definite satisfaction from combining ingredients and making something dinnerly. Joel and I have a home-cooking rating scale: inedible, edible, successful, triumph. Triumphs are rare (one moussaka, one dal, neither reproducibly), but I've had plenty of successes recently: pasta with pesto, fishes on beds of various vegetables, bean burritos. We take it in turns to cook for a week. It's currently Joel's week, and he produced a successful salad nicoise yesterday.

 

We joined a local CSA this summer, so every Thursday we get a basket of vegetables and have to figure out what to do with them. Scallions, carrots, radishes and bok choi: sounds like a stir fry to me. Summer squash: fry it up and put on top of leftover pasta. Kohlrabi: the internet suggests fritters? Several types of lettuce: several types of salads and sandwiches! It's a challenge to use it all up, and the composter is eating more chard and kale than I'd like, but it's kind of fun to have this weekly Iron Chef competition. (If you know what we should do with little turnips, do let me know.)

 

The containers on the deck are starting to produce as well right now, and yesterday it was such a pleasure to go outside, grab a handful of basil and a tomato, still warm from the sun, and turn them into a sandwich using a slab of mozzarella for the bread. Summer food is the best food and life is good.

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The three types of tomatoes, the marigolds, the basil, the raspberries (not pictured) and even the jalapeños have loved the recent rain and are flourishing. The zucchinis... we won't talk about.

We had a gardener come in this week -- such decadence! -- to take a wise look at the back yard and give us a quote. "I could mow that lawn for you", she said. "We don't have a... oh, you mean the  weeds?" "There's enough wild grass and clover in there that if I brought in my little electric mower it would become a lawn" "Take my money!"

 

So we're maybe going to have a lawn like grown up people, except it'll be a lawn that's not quite convinced it is one, which is of course the kind of grown up people we are too. (Mortgage, baby, whatever. But grass that's all the same height... that's an adult lifestyle right there!)

 

The gardener lady is going to do a bunch of other things, like removing some of the excess soil that mudslides out of the flowerbeds every time it rains, getting the ivy under control, planting out our tragic apple trees, and mulching... whatever it is that one mulches.

 

"And I can trim back that wisteria for you" "... ?" " That's this one on the back wall." "Oh, I like that one! It planted itself last year." It turns out that gardeners are great. I wish I'd hired her years ago.

Elizabeth, E, Seamus, EJ, LJ, Kidface, Eliza, SpaceFrog, Lizabiz, Liz, Fizz, Spud, Piglet, Bald Cat, Grumpkin, Poppyseed. Our many-named baby is six months old! It's been the nicest time and the most exhausting and the most terrifying and the most fun. I guess everyone says things like this, because getting a kid comes with useful brain damage that makes any road-not-taken comparisons very suspect, but I'm so glad we did this. So glad! Is it objectively better? It _feels_ like it is, but it's impossible for me to tell.

At six months old she looks less like a bewildered baby and more like a small kid. She talks a lot, using words that sound like a language we don't know. She laughs. Oh my god it's so good. I hoist her up into the air on my knees and she grips my fingers and makes these big capital-D smiles and laughs like this is the funniest thing that ever happened. She laughs at stupid faces, at nonsense words, at falling over. Sometimes she laughs just because someone else is laughing. How does she know to do that? I don't know!

She can't crawl, but she has invented a ridiculous mode of perambulation where you push your face into the ground, brace your legs to make an arch, then flop. It hasn't occurred to her to use her arms for any part of this operation; the face does the heavy lifting. It works: she no longer stays where she's put. I have woken to find her looming over me, jaws wide, two tiny razor-sharp teeth glinting in the moonlight, gigantic baby bobble head moving jerkily around as she searches for something to chew on. It's a little unsettling at 4am.

She likes the baby in the mirror. She's just discovered how great it is to kick the water in the bath. She thinks peas are amazing and carrots are weird. She loves the bright pictures in The Snowy Day, but is also fairly attentive when I want to read Dr Seuss. When she thinks really hard, she looks cross, but isn't, just like Joel does when he's thinking really hard. I like to watch her contemplate things. I wonder about what she decides.

People in work say "How's the baby?" and I can feel myself light up as I think of a hundred things I want to enthuse about. I say "She's amazing :-D" and "She just did this new thing, let me tell you!", and honestly, I do know that other people's babies are not intrinsically interesting, and I try to rate-limit myself, but, dudes, she's so cool. I really enjoy having her. She's a great baby.

Here's a bunch of pictures.
Elizabeth 4-6 months.

Elizabeth, May 19, 2013

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Some livejournal folks are blogging what they had for dinner, and today I will Participate in a Meme. Here's my dinner, in blogular format:

So, Joel asked "What do you want from seamlessweb?" and I said "No! I shall eat something from our fridge just like an adult would". This is not a normal response for me, and maybe I regretted it a bit as he ordered great Chinese food from Tofu in Park Slope and I extracted half a mozzarella and a bag of wilted basil and no Kerrygold because we put it all on the garlic bread on Thursday (and, seriously, that was three quarters of a block of Kerrygold and the garlic bread was an appetiser for a dish that was made mostly out of cheese. How are we still alive?). And I said "huh" and "well" and checked two or three more times to make sure that nothing else in this quite full fridge could be converted into food, but vermouth and apple sauce and old carrots do not a dinner make, even when you have two kinds of every condiment that has ever been sold.

So I went over to the bakery on the corner and I said "Hey, I have a mozzarella and I need bread to put it on" (because after five years living here I still don't know what any kind of bread is called, and this is my survival strategy: I lay out the problem and let them solve it) and the bakery lady said "You need an Italian" and she sold me a soft and crusty white loaf that felt pretty fresh even though it was 8pm. Also, the bakery was still open at 8pm because this is the city that never sleeps (until 9pm), and that's a thing I love about living here.

I took that home and sliced up a lot of the mozzarella and salted and peppered the holy hell out of it, and washed the basil and put it on top, and dug around in the pantry to see if we had any sardines and we did. The pantry is really a converted coat closet, but we have airs. I fried up the sardines in the olive oil they were canned in, which has the side-effect of making the entire house smell vibrantly like sardines, and to be clear I don't just mean the apartment, I mean the upstairs neighbours are probably like "did we buy the world's least likely air freshener? What were we thinking" and if you think sardines are amazing, then that's delightful, and if you hold the exact opposite opinion, well, you're Joel and I'm lucky to not have been divorced yet.

25% of the sardines found their way into the cats, as was laid out in the ancient covenant, and I poured the rest on top of the mozzarella and wrapped the bread around it, lamenting the Kerrygold we didn't have, and ate it in about 45 seconds while paying the co-op's water bill online.

I occasionally have classy dinners, but today was not a classy dinner day.

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ORIGIN 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Princes_of_Serendip

Accidents and sagacity, my friends! I am thoroughly delighted by this etymology :-D

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The non-baby-related excitement in my life is that I bought a new bike. It's a Novara Transfer, a "european-style" bike, the dude in the shop said, which I think means that it's the kind of bike you enjoy if you like trundling around the city on a nice sunny day and not if you like to weave in and out of traffic at forty miles an hour while wearing lycra. Since I'm firmly in the first camp, I think I'm going to love it. It's the kind of bike that should have a basket, and ideally the basket will have a baguette sticking out of it, but a bag of bagels and a travel mug of coffee probably works too.

It arrives next weekend. I can't wait.

Here's a review: http://open.salon.com/blog/familyonbikes/2011/05/08/rei_novara_transfer_a_review

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Jan. 7th, 2013

Our baby's a month old! At this time on December 7th, my water had broken while I was coding[1] and I was wondering whether I'd have time to submit a half-working version of the project before we had to go to the hospital. Nope! At midnight the contractions started and eight hours later we had a little Gollum lookalike of our very own, all covered in birth-goop and yelling the place down.

A month already. Without unusual events or notable weekends to demarcate time, it doesn't feel like weeks are passing. We feed and clean the baby. We do small recreational things that don't take a lot of brain power. We go out for breakfast. We marvel at how much we adore this small person and discuss minute changes in her abilities. I pump milk. Joel does laundry. He introduces her to Dave Brubeck ("Listen for the change in time signature here"). I take her for walks around the neighbourhood and tell her about being a New Yorker ("Don't make unnecessary eye contact, but it's always ok to compliment people's dogs"). We've figured out a pretty good schedule which gives both of us some time off. It'll get much harder once work and real life come back into play, but for now it's fantastic to just watch her booting up.

Babies don't change that much in the first month and at the same time the difference is remarkable. She's growing rapidly, which is a relief. She no longer feels fragile. She reacts to sounds and she now sometimes looks at things and can track slow-moving objects. She grips my finger while I'm feeding her and makes me feel like the best person in the world. She sprawls out on her belly on Joel's chest, arms and legs hugged around him, and falls into her most contented sleep. Humans are her favourite furniture.

She searches her surroundings for sources of milk, mouth open to the air like a baby bird. I hold her upright to make her burp and she flails a little sticky, milky face against my collarbone in case I'm hiding a spare nipple there. She doesn't cry yet, but she makes furious frustrated animal sounds when we're slow about feeding her. She has feeding frenzies. We call her Captain Sharky.

We swaddle her in a sheet and it looks like a toga and she throws one arm above her head (about an inch above her head: she has stubby arms) and we make impassioned speeches to the Roman senate on her behalf ("Friends, Romans, fellow babies. How long must we wait for the milk we have been promised?"). Music makes her calm. She likes voices. I've discovered that I like reading out loud (it's likely correlated with a love for the sound of one's own voice) and she and I read classics like The Great Railway Bazaar and Happy Pig Day.

It's _lovely_. I like it so much. Part of me can't wait for major developmental milestones -- all of the smiling and gurgling and moving around -- but mostly I don't want this time to end. Real life can back off for another few weeks.

If you like baby pictures, here's an album of the first month in chronological order:
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Elizabeth First Month


[1] Approximate next thoughts: "oh god, the new sofa!... oh, come on, I _just_ figured out how to write this, can't it wait half an hour?... I should call the doctor".

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