Saturday, June 28, 2008


Well, both due dates (from two different midwives) have pretty much come and gone, and there's no sign that this baby is joining us soon. I'm sure I should continue to look at this as a blessing, and a period of rest before the chaos (the proverbial calm before the storm), but truth be told, I'm not that good at waiting. Anticipation has never been my strong suit- I'm much better at just dealing with whatever it is that I've been anxiously anticipating.
Plus, with 2 1/2 weeks of rest already under my belt, it seems like it's time to get on with already.

Baby, do you hear me?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Clio Grace, Photographer.

The other day, we showed Clio how to take a picture with our small digital camera. While she thought this was a great new activity, she didn't fully grasp the concept. As you can see, she had some trouble keeping the camera still while pressing the button.

The real issue, though, is that she only really wanted to take pictures of Clio. Which she went ahead and did, with about the same success as taking pictures of Mama and Da da (as we're now called).

Highlights from the ClioCam:


Our internet has been out for a few days, so forgive the sudden glut of posts. We send Clio's dinner to daycare with her every day, and lately she has taken to wearing the little paper bag over her shoulders, like a backpack. Problem is, the "straps" are not very comfortable, and they tend to slip down her shoulders. So on our outing to Target this weekend (I'm noticing that Target figures disproportionately in this blog), we found her a real backpack. She is so proud to wear it on our walk to Daycare, and loves to put things in it, like her "tiny little dog" and some random business cards she found on the side table.

The best part? It features Dora, naturally.

As an aside, I always said I would NOT be one of those parents whose houses are filled with TV characters. I heard an interview on NPR yesterday with the man who wrote a new book about the boom in TV marketing to toddlers, and his dismay at the toy aisle, whose theme-character filled rows show a real loss of imagination. For now, I find that a Dora backpack makes my kid happy, and who am I to judge? I do draw the line at decor, though: no Dora sheets for us.

Bed Rest

Now, technically, I'm the one whose supposed to be on bedrest. And I will admit, after an initial heavy resistance and frustration, I've given myself over to it, and I'm glad that someone out there was smart enough to tell me it was time to take a break (because goodness knows, with SO MUCH TO DO before the arrival of a new family member, there was no way I was slowing down voluntarily.) Now, I'm sure there are many circumstance under which bedrest is a real drag. If the baby is in danger, there's obviously a lot of anxiety and emotional weight that I, thank goodness, am not suffering from. Also, I'm sure bedrest in a first pregnancy is a whole different story: having pampered yourself for 9 months, you don't necesarrily appreciate bedrest as a break, but perhaps look at it as a punishment. For me, I quickly realized that I could not remember the last time I got to just sit around and relax all day. A full time job plus a kid kind of make that notion obsolete. Let's face it, just being a parent pretty much makes that notion obsolete. The last time I can remember indulging in such full-on laziness would be the several days following my appendectomy the year before we had Clio, when I stayed with Missy and Jim, and Jim and I watched all 24 episodes of the first season of the O.C. in about 48 hours. Bliss.

In similar fashion, it seems I'm having no trouble passing the days. I have napped. I have watched a year's supply of design shows. I have watched the entire second season of Grey's Anatomy, including bonus features. I have flipped through magazines and
continued to reconsider the living room decor. I have strolled the two blocks to the daycare, and sat at the playground down the street enjoying some fresh air while Clio runs around. I have napped some more. Here and there, I have taken on a little project, like pulling out all the baby clothes or watering the plants on the deck, but even those small activities set me back, and remind me why I was sentenced to bedrest in the first place.

I have also been operating on a theory. This theory held that there is a real mind-body connection when it comes to childbirth, and that for me, the transition from normal life to a birthing state of mind, takes about two weeks. This is based on my experience with Clio, where I worked right up to me due date, woke up the next day, and thought, okay, bring on the labor. Nearly two
weeks later, my body finally responded, and Clio came into the world. I have now been on bedrest for two weeks, and realize that I was counting on this timeline, and feel maybe a tiny nit disappointed that there's no real sign that this is happening soon; the truth, of course, is that baby's come when they're good and ready, and I could be waiting another two weeks. At that point, I may not have such a positive view of bedrest, but for now I'm looking at it as a gift.

Here's another kind of gift, one I'm sure I will yearn for when this baby does appear on the scene: a peaceful, sleeping household.

P.S. Don't you just love our new bedding (top photo?) It's from the fabulous line that Dwell is doing for Target. In New York, most of it sold out pretty immediately (the Brooklyn Target often looks like a scene from a diasaster-ravaged city, with swathes of empty shelves and the odd misplaced item); luckily for us, they were not only available, but ON SALE in Minnesota, and my parents were kind enough to pick us up a set and ship it off. Love it!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


We thought Clio was doing well with this whole Becoming a Big Sister thing. First there was all of that business naming her animals "my little brother-sister." Then she woke up one day and announced to Dave, "I'm getting a brother-sister, and we're going swimming!" As swimming is her absolute favorite thing to do, it seemed like a good sign that she would want to bring this new sibling along. Finally, we've been reading I'm A Big Sister Now, by Joanna Cole and Maxi Chambliss, which Clio has essentially memorized in her reverence. ("Babies little. No walk, no talk, no eat pizza.") She insists on reading it before every nap and every bedtime. And when we tell her our new baby is in mommy's tummy, she lifts up her shirt and says "me, too. Me, too!"

The other pregnant perch moms and I recently compared notes, and it seems like there's a variety of behaviors running through the older-siblings to be, ranging from indifference to a real lack of enthusiasm to some interest. This seems normal to me.
But now, it appears that Clio would prefer to be the baby. Her "no pants, only legs" rule has evolved to "only diapers," which is truly all she thinks she should wear. She is also talking baby talk. Literally saying things like "goo goo ga ga," espite the fact that she can communicate fully and express herself in quite a sophisticated way considering she is not yet 2. While I suppose this seems like a natural reaction, too, I hope it goes away when the baby comes, and she slips into her BIG sister role. I'm getting tired of the tantrums over pants!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eloise Comes to Visit

Yesterday, I took a little break from bed-rest to have a playdate with my friend Kim and her daughter Eloise, who were gracious enough to drive from NJ to visit before the baby arrives.

We also had a visit from Sara Fenske, last seen in my San Fran girl's weekend, who happened to be in town for about 24 hours and was gracious enough to drive down from the Upper West side on her way out to the Hamptons.

After nearly a week of bedrest, it was fabulous to have company- and also a little chaotic. My hosting was reduced to a nice big pot of mac n cheese, but everyone was thrilled with it as if I had gone a little more gourmet, and beyond that we just let the girls run wild.

They created new games, like jumping off the window ledge onto the couch and running relays between Kim and the TV, grabbing a handful of Cheerios at one end and turning on (or off) the TV at the other; they did a pretty okay job of sharing toys (for a couple of 2 year olds), and hopefully did not freak out Sara, currently 7 months pregnant with her first child.

At the end of the date (and feeling out of practice where the blog is concerned), I realized I had failed to document any of this activity, and tried to get a portrait of the girls as a last resort.

Do you think they cooperated?

No, they did not.

I will say, as fabulous as it wwas to have company, I was completely wiped out. At least I know that my midwives are right: I do seem to need bed-rest!

Clio's New Book

A week or so ago, Grandma emailed me to say she had made a little birthday present for Clio, and to keep an eye out for the package. As she herself pointed out, she doesn't usually make things, so we were intriuged. Well, it arrived, and we let Clio open it as an early gift (her birthday is July 5). And it may be one of the single best gifts ever.

This one needs some background, too.
When Dave was a toddler, he was given a book called Come Play With Me. The authors were Barbie and Glenn Peterson; as Dave's parents also happen to be named Barbie and Glenn Peterson, I suppose Aunt Fern couldn't resist the coincidence. The book addresses the reader directly ("I'm glad you came to play" "Would you like some milk and cookies?") with a series of full-bleed photos depicting a day of play-date activities. Clio loves this book. When we're in Morrison, she forces us to read it over and over again.

Clio opened her present yesterday afternoon,

And discovered Come Visit Us, by Barbie and Glenn Peterson.

Following the same format as the original, the book is full of pictures of Clio doing various activities on the farm, from feeding the calves to collecting branches.
("you can help Grandpa feed the Calves" "You can help Grandma collect the branches")

What could be better for a self-portrait obsessed toddler than a book all about her?
I think I have already read it 4 dozen times. It would have been more, but I pulled a bait and switch and hid it for a little break.

Dave's New Bag

Somehow, the impending life-changing addition of a second child to our home has given Dave a jump start, and after months (or even years) of research, he recently invested in some "big-ticket" items.

Last week, he bought a limited edition Casio G Shock in white- it's fabulous, and he didn't even hesitate (when he called, Macy's had 6 left and predicated they wouldn't last the day.) Generally, Dave would lose out on such a purchase from indecision, but off he went to Macy's, and home he came with a watch. Which he is keeping, and actually wearing.

Then, today, he came home with a messenger bag. Some background: Dave has been carrying the same backpack since High School, and has sent it in to Eastpack at least once for refurbishment. I find this kind of devotion and long-term investment to an object somewhat awe-inspiring in our disposable culture, but the truth of the matter is, the thing is incredibly faded, has some holes, is losing it's shape, and is generally not so presentable.
I got in on the act at Christmas, researching additional options (watches, too, in fact), but warned all potential gift-givers that whatever we came up with would likely go back. My mom bravely bought a great leather messenger bag, but sure enough.... back to the store.

Still, I was shocked when Dave bit the bullet and came home with this thing.
It's just about the right size for Clio, and Dave tested it out with this precious cargo.

Doesn't it look like half her body is missing? Weird.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

Poor Dave.

Since I was put on bed rest last Tuesday, he has been working extra hard (to make sure that I am not.) And Father's Day was no exception. He got up first thing with Clio, did breakfast, ran to the grocery store, took Clio to swimming and then a birthday party (in the rain), came home and collapsed on the couch. I did manage to make some lunch for all of us but thus fed, the Daddy got a second wind and got us a new cell phone (good bye, Motorola Startac, c. 2001) sorted the laundry, worked on his motorcycle, bundled us all off to the playground, got Clio home and down for the night, cleaned up the lunch dishes and made dinner.

Meanwhile, I went to the video store to load up on early seasons of Grey's Anatomy (I'm outing myself) and to pick up a copy of Hellboy, the movie Dave really wanted to see. On the way home, I tried to find some frozen fruit bars for this deserving Dad (we had just been reminiscing about getting them all the time in Park Slope).

When I got home, I realized that I had rented Hellboy ANIMATED, which is apparently not the same thing, and because I walked home very very slowly, the fruit popsicles I had bought in substitute for the real froz-fruit were melted anyway.

In hindsight, I don't think poor Dave even got to change his clothes, and spent the day in Saturday's shorts and T-shirt.

Poor Daddy.

I'll tell you this, though. Maybe Father's Day is supposed to be about Father's getting their due, being a little pampered, receiving gifts. For me, this Father's Day just went to prove that Dave is about the best Dad around; Clio may still take it for granted, but I appreciate the devotion and hard work 150%.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Playing the Building

Creative Time's newest installation opened May 31 to huge crowds and rave reviews. A project by David Byrne- yes, of the Talking Heads, but also a visual and sonic artist who dabbles in books- Playing the Building installs an old church organ in the historic Battery Maritime Building on the southern tip of Manhattan, hooking up the keyboard to the columns, girders, and water pipes of the historic space by a system of pneumatic tubes that allow anyway to literally "play" the building.

You can see more about the project (and see pictures from opening) on our website
here, read what the New York Times had to say here, check out the Village Voice here or New York magazine here or NPR here, read about it on David's blog journal here and get some dish on The Bwog here, but I know the opinion you all care most about is Clio's.

As soon as she walked in to the ante-room, she declared "I like it!"

Dave got in line to play the organ, and Clio and I walked around the 9,000 square foot space listening to the grunts and creaks of the old, lovely, skylit building. Some of the organ's more powerful notes sound like tubas or thunder, and Clio was a bit less sure of those ("Sounds!" and "Noisy.") but all in all she gives the project the thumbs up.

Eventually, she took a stab at playing the thing herself.

She spent most of her time reconfiguring the seating arrangement, but luckily Grandma recently taught her to play the piano; otherwise she might have missed the point entirely. The sound is not at all good on this little video clip, but if you listen closely, you can hear that Clio is playing the "flutes," and Dave is playing the clunkier girders. You can also see a more professional video on creative time's aforementioned website. But then, that one doesn't feature Miss Clio Grace Peterson.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Old Wive's Tales

I'm now 37 weeks pregnant (next weekend the baby will be considered full term) and I have no greater sense of the baby's gender than I did going in. With Clio, I was 100% convinced through my third trimester that it was a girl, despite the fact that everyone told me I was carrying like I was having a boy. Maybe it was just that I secretly wanted a girl; or the fact that we had a list of girl's names including a very certain front-runner (Clara, after two of Dave's great-great grandmothers and the little girl in the nutcracker) but not a single name we loved for a boy; or maybe I really did just have an intuition about it.

This time people again say I'm carrying like I'm having a boy, but I feel they might be right. This baby is moving around a lot, as Clio did, but Clio felt like an acrobat, and this one is more like a boxer. Is it misguided to believe the baby is a boy because it feels more aggressive than the girl I already carried?

To try to put these questions to rest, I had Dave perform the Ring test. I can remember one of my aunts doing the ring test with my mom when she was pregnant with my brother Rory; apparently all three of us kids were predicted correctly, simply by tying my mother's ring to a long piece of thread and dangling it over her pregnant belly. Theory goes, if the ring moves back and forth like a pendulum, the baby is a boy; around in a circle, you can expect a girl.

So down I lumbered onto my back on the floor (we wondered if I would ever get back up), and Dave dutifully held the thread very, very still. So still, in fact, tgat the ring barely moved at all, and when it did the thread seemed to move in a very slight pendulum while the ring itself moved in a circle. Hmmmm. Inconclusive, to say the least.

As one of the architects pointed out at the Montessori party the other night, the same test was performed with a pencil in the novel Middlesex, equally inconclusive, and if you know of the book you know how that turned out. So let's just say we're now hoping for a baby that's all girl or all boy, whichever way the ring swings.

Of course, the other wives' tale is the aforementioned belly shape. With Clio, everyone said boy but for very conflicting reasons: You're carrying high, must be a boy. You're carrying low, is it a boy? Etc. So for now, I've been curious whether I'm carrying the same.

Here I am on my due date with Clio:

And here I am last night:

So. Is it a boy or a girl?

Outfit of the Year: Before and After

As I was just saying, along with a broadened vocabulary comes the ability to be increasingly specific in one's demands. Clio has lately employed this specificity in all matters of her wardrobe. Her main instructions: "No pants" and "warm jacket," which leads to a pretty season-confused mix of leopard-lined faux suede, bare legs, and sandals.
(In fact, one of my biggest pet peeves is adults who are still wearing sandals in November even though they've admitted on the top half of their body that it's simply not warm enough, by throwing on a parka. But Clio's not quite 2, so I guess I'll excuse her on this one.)

We also recently found some excellent baby Esprit at Century 21 for tiny prices, but Clio categorically refuses to wear any of it. This morning I somehow managed to get her into one of the tops (white crinkled cotton with white embroidery and an intricate hem), AND a pair of pants (better for the playground), but as we were getting ready to head out to Zuzu's birthday party, a package arrived with all of Nonny's latest TJ Maxx conquests. (Many excellent items that should mean I don't need to take Clio summer shopping at all). Among the loot: a shirt and skirt set featuring none other than Clio's very favorite character, Dora. As I tried to show her each of the other lovely pieces in turn, Clio scooped up the lot of them, pushed them in my direction, said "Here, Mommy," and proceeded to put the Dora outfit on. Over her existing tank and pants.
So we let her change into what will surely be the number one most requested outfit of all time.

And then we did go to the party, and here's what Clio and her new favorite outfit looked like when we got home:
Quite a make-under, huh?

(To be honest, the full scope of the hot sweaty mess doesn't read in this picture, nor can you see too well the marker that is covering her hands, knees, and the backs of her thighs- she decided tha coloring was a full-body-contact sport - or the watermelon and strawberry juice coating her chin and neck. But you get the idea. Let's just say she had a good time!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Welcome, Saya!

My cousin Jesse and his wife Catherine welcomed a new baby into the world on June 1. Here is Saya:

(many more photos if you click on "Clio's Second Cousin Mira Olivia," in the list of Clio's favorite links, to the right.)

In our O'Shaughnessy clan (Jesse's mom Eileen and my mom are sisters), Saya is great-grandbaby number 5 (second baby Peterson will be number 6). Here's our patriarch with the first four:

The kids from left to right: Finn, Clio, Mira (Saya's sister), and Lucia!

Laughter is the best Medicine

I just figured out how to resize the AVI video files taken on our little digital camera to be small enough to upload to the web. Hooray! Just to warn you, this may (or may not) mean a video extravaganza.

To start, I love this little video of Clio and Grandpa the day before his surgery. We just got a letter saying he is feeling 100% better after the tube was removed from his nose, and I hope this little reminder of his weekend with Clio boosts his spirits as he starts treatment next week.

Backyard Jungle

If you are walking Clio home from daycare and you are in a hurry, there are two dangerous pitfalls you might encounter. If you circle down to 4th Avenue and come back up our street, you will pass the schoolyard, which happens to have a playground that has lately been unlocked after school. You will, therefore, have a toddler who is very insistent on visiting the playground (unfortunately, she has learned the word "playground" and is not afraid to use it- no more playing dumb about what she's trying to say), and if you give in and visit the playground, you will find yourself feeling very protective of this little person who would like very much to take part in the game of chase that is inevitably going on among 5th graders who, I swear, are bigger than many high schoolers I have known.

If, on the other hand, you circle up to 5th avenue and come down our street, you will not only pass many houses with yard ornaments that all must be identified ("one, two, three bunnies!" "A tiny little bear!" "pennies in the plate!" "bear holding fish!" and so on), but you will also pass the entryway to our alley, to which you will most likely hear the plaintive little phrase, "I want to go back there!"

What's back there? Well, it is literally an alley (yes, in Brooklyn), with garages/ car ports on one side and fences on the other; it is overgrown with weeds; and it is home to a large family of bees. A lovely place for a child to play, no? But play she does.

Favorite activities include running up this "hill" to the gate,

exploring the greenery,

and picking and throwing rocks. Today I got her to agree to go inside (to take her nap) by telling her we would wash the dirty rocks she had found and graciously given to me.

In the process, I introduced her to the kitchen sink and the water-sprayer, two items that are even cooler than the back alley and will likely be the latest pitfall in any attempts to get Clio home, fed, bathed, and in bed in any kind of timely manner.

On Language

Clio is talking up a storm these days, and I am constantly amused by some of her (mis)understandings of common phrases.

My favorite toddlerisms:

When given something she has asked for:

"Thank you, you're welcome!"

When told to ask nicely:

"Nicely, please!"

When asked to smile for the camera, she doesn't necessarily look your way, but she does say:

When leaving the room:
"Good bye, see you tomorrow!"
"See you later!" (I suppose this one is technically correct)

Just now, she was hiding a spoon and a shovel behind her back. I asked, "Are they hidden?"
She came right over and hit me with the shovel.

And, lately, the naming of her animals:

"This is my brother-sister."

Here she is driving her brother-sister cat around on her Mickey Plane.

And here she is with the original brother-sister, her sheep, wearing the new sunhat and sandals that Grandma bought her when we went to wallmart.

Incidentally, these sandals are fantastic because Clio's feet are very puffy on top, and the 3-point velcro makes this one of the only pairs we've found that actually fit. However, when we first tried to put on her "new shoes," she freaked out, saying "no new shoes!" over and over. The next day, when I asked if she would like to wear her "sandals," like Mommy, she could not have been more thrilled.

Oh, the power of language.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I Heart Brooklyn Heights Montessori

Last night, Dave and I went to a New Parents event for Clio's school, hosted at the fabulous brownstone of a current parent and board member. On the way there, looking at my limited maternity wardrobe and Dave's cool but beat-up sneakers, I found myself wondering if we would be the shabby/ arty/ casual/ not-so-well-off parents in a room full of bankers and fashionistas. (In contrast to my hippie/earthy memories of my own Montessori school, the prospective parents at our orientation back in October all seemed to be wearing expensive suits (men) and Sex and the City heels (women).) What would we talk about? Who were these Montessori imposters?

I needn't have worried. Much of the crowd was not so different from us- down to the detail that half the room seemed to be pregnant (and another woman is counting down the same 3-ish weeks as me.) Dave and I had about the best time we've had in weeks, and made fast friends with two couples whose kids are also starting the "twos" program, architects all, who even (small world) went to school with the principles in Dave's firm (who also designed Creative Time's offices for me). What did we talk about? Our children, sure (Nap Wars and Boy Energy, two excellent topics); the school, of course (the verdict on the spring fundraising auction: "raucous," perhaps too much too soon; Dave's feelings on the head of school's insistence on "needing our children" while he waits for grandchildren of his own: "Creepy"), but also public art, architecture, the City Planning Department, and a junkie squat in Gowanus known as the Bat Cave, among other wide-ranging, real-world topics. It was a refreshing mix - it often feels like my parent self, my work self, and my intellectual/cultural self get split, and it was nice to feel like more of a whole person in a single situation.

In grand Duggan tradition, we closed down the party (and went out to dinner all together.) Another sign of kindred spirits: one of the couples confirmed that they, like we, don't know how to leave an event until they're kicked out.

Shortly before leaving, I put my hands on my waist (or what's left of it) and felt something slimy: a slug. (I should mention that we spent most of the evening in the slightly rainy garden, under a big tree). We saved the slug and returned it to the great outdoors, and later that night I noticed a trail of slime zig-zagging from my ankle all the way up to my back: the slug had taken a long, slow journey up my body, and I hadn't even noticed. If that's not a sign of a good time, I don't know what is.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Playdate with Isa

Isabella is one of Clio's daycare friends, and her mom, Alexa, is probably the most like-minded of all the parents we have encountered there. We've met for lunch in Soho (midway between our jobs) to commiserate over the bad food and poor communication we endure for the sake of inexpensive, local, and loving daycare. When our schedules align, we ride the subway together, commiserating about the overcrowding at the place, the fact that we are both expecting number 2 sooner than later, and the dilemma this may pose.

We are also neighbors. In fact, you can see their living room window from our bedroom window, looking diagonally east across the alley.

This weekend, after much talk, we finally got together for a playdate. Sometimes when Clio's two main worlds collide (e.g., Alex from the day care comes over to babysit), Clio kind of freaks out, so I wondered how she would respond to seeing Isabella in another environment.
I needn't have worried. Isa was so excited to have Clio visit, she was shrieking at the front door by the time we mounted the last of the stairs. And Clio, like any toddler, was so thrilled to have a completely new arsenal of toys, books, and costumes to explore, she could not have been happier. There were a few tense moments around the concept of sharing, but for the most part we tried to let them work it out, with a minimum of parental stress. Alexa is calm and sure in a way that I could learn from (I'm not sure I have ever been termed "laid back," but I think it suits her in all the right ways.)

Isabella had an amazing array of real dolls and doll paraphernalia, like this cradle,

a double-swing, and various strollers, so right there, Clio was in heaven. She also pulled Isa's tutu on right over her skirt, and wore it for most of the visit.

Isa also knows how to use the camera, and attempted some portraits of Clio.

Here's Alexa, showing them the results. (I'll see if I can get my hands on those!)

All in all, it's fabulous to have playdate options so close to home.

Incidentally, here are the girls last summer, at a day care party, with Marco, one of the after-schoolers. It's amazing how little they look there. Alexa said that her husband, Frankie, came home the other day and remarked that Clio was getting so big, "She asked me a question." Indeed. Where does the time go?