Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Old toys are new again

The current issue of parents magazine has a little piece about developmentally-appropriate toys for different baby ages. For 9-12 month olds (can't believe Eleri is in that category already), they recommend musical instruments, and it's true, Eleri does love to bang (any) two things together and dance. So I pulled out Clio's drum, a Christmas gift two years ago from my cousin Jesse and his family, and plopped it in front of Eleri.


And the mallets are, apparently, also good for teething. (You can see her first two top teeth- gap and all- in the first photo).

As it turns out, nearly-3-year-olds find great pleasure in drumming, too. Especially when their little sisters are using their drums. Two good ways to give past toys new life!

On Hair

Clio got a haircut.
At first, I did not react well.
I wrote the following blogpost, then found myself unsure of whether it said what I want to say.
In the spirit of authenticity, I am posting it now anyway.
Here goes:

People are always saying how much they like Clio's hair. This surprises me a little: the color is really a mousy brown or, at best, a dirty blond; the texture can never quite decide on waves or curls; and there are some weird colicks going on at the crown that creates strange fullness in random directions. But the wildness of it was appealing, the lack of a part, the volume that occasionally made her look, strangely enough, like a pint-sized Brigitte Bardot.

Today, Clio got a hair cut; she went with Dave, and when they caught up to Eleri and I at Target and she declared, "Mom, I don't have long hair!" I nearly cried. Despite the fact that Clio is perfectly happy, that the shorter hair will be more comfortable in the heat and easier to get a comb through, I can admit that I still hate it.

Why? let's explore:

1. A Trend: little girls often have the same haircut as their mothers. I noticed this is Clio's music class, where Grace and her mom had the same pageboy style, Petra an her mom shared a mod-ish pixie, and Clio and I had the longest hair in the group. Is this because we want to make our children in our own image? Perhaps because our children might look like us, and therefore look good in the same styles? (Clio wears all "my" colors very well). Or maybe it's just a reflection on what we're into at the time, and the trend trickles down to our offspring.

2. The Long hair/ Short hair dichotomy: like the archetypes of Madonna/Whore, women have been categorized for years by the length of their hair. The long-haired sexpot. The short-haired tomboy. Long= bohemian and free spirited. Short= studious and responsible. In a way, I'm surprised that Betty and Veronica weren't differentiated by hair length instead of color (though, as a passable redhead I've always been glad to sidestep the Blond/Brunette dichotomy- maybe that' why I longed for red-headed children?). Gone is our pint-sized Brigitte, replaced instead by Bernice Bobs her Hair.

3. Women's Lib: it seems like the shaved head has become a device to indicate a woman's freedom from the "male gaze" and the sexual identity embodied in her 'do. That experimentation with shape and color is all about claiming your own identity and flying in the face of men's desire and conventional standards of beauty. I have shaved my head. I have dyed it black and blonde and eggplant and flame. I have straightened my bangs and teased out an afro, trying them on for size, looking in the mirror to see if I was the same person now, and now, and now.

I don't think I care that Clio and I no longer have the same hairstyle.
I don't think I worry about what short hair "means."
And while I don't think this idea of liberation does or should apply to children, I do care (though I shouldn't if she doesn't) that this haircut doesn't look like "her."

Okay- that was the end.
A few days have passed, and i will say: it's actually pretty cute. It's much easier to wash, and doesn't even require a comb. It is much cooler in our hot (but now not) whether. In fact, it makes me feel like my own hair is waaaay tooooo loooong.

Here she is:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Caption Contest

This makes me think of the weekly contest in the New Yorker where they give an image and request punchlines. Unlike this, those do tend to be scenario-driven, but I could use some help framing this one.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

No More Stickers!

Now, I know I brought it on myself. I mentioned here, some time ago, how much Clio loooooves stickers. And many of you happily obliged with holiday stickers and Dora stickers and alphabet stickers and sticker kits and sticker art. And it has been wonderful ... for Clio. Yes, Clio has loved it all.

But you know what? This is what my house looks like.

So please, no more stickers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The People in Your Neighborhood

"Titi's House" is such a fixture in my girls' world that there are days when Clio actually requests a "visit" to the daycare, even when the other alternative is to stay home with me. Both girls started there at 2 1/2 months (3 months maternity leave minus babies coming two weeks late), and the children who attend with them, and the grown ups who watch after them, are truly like their family. We've seen the place grow with our neighborhood: when Clio started there were 4 Hispanic kids, and the lower-income families got a discount; now they're expanding across the street to accommodate the dozen kids they already have from diverse backgrounds, and the additional demand they are seeing as our area becomes an affordable option for young families, while still convenient to Manhattan. Gone are the days when Clio was "the baby who saved the day care," when hers was the face of gentrification on the photo wall, when Spanish was the primary language spoken by the majority. In a way, we're sad to lose some of the Spanish influence as the balance tips. But we're thrilled to have more and more like-minded parents, whose paths we cross out in the world as we make our rounds through parental life in the way-south Slope.

Recently, we ran into half of the older kids at the playground, and Clio could not have been more thrilled to take the fun outdoors, and out of the (very tiny) context of day care. She colored with Deston, played soccer with Isabella, and borrowed Elsie's sunglasses for the slid. Of course we are familiar with all these children, but it's wonderful to see the shape and dynamics of their friendships first hand. I wonder how much Clio will remember of these first friends, and how much they are shaping the person she is becoming.

I was glad to capture some of these kids on camera at the playground that day (despite Clio's dramatic protests when I took the group shot, above); I still clearly remember my best school friend from this age, like it was yesterday, but I'm still glad to have this picture. There's Laura, back row, second from the right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My Favorite Thing About Eleri

Is the way she's so content to rest her head on your shoulder.
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I have often referred here to the Perch moms, the group of women I was lucky enough to meet not long after Clio's birth (and named for the restaurant where we used to meet weekly, before we trickled back to work or to other states and on to second children). Now, we have a very active email list, slightly irregular moms-nights-out (Ladies, we are due), and the opportunity to get together (and wax nostalgic) as our kids hit milestones.

Yesterday, at Sam's first birthday party (see cupcakes and cookies, below), I was struck by Dave and Ahmer letting Eleri and Ibrahim get a good look at each other....

Much as Millie and I did with now-big sisters Clio and Zuzu two years ago at Zuzu's first birthday.

If I ever start tagging this blog, I think I'll need an archive section.

Parties are the BEST

yum: cupcakes.
yum: bread.
And in case you were worried that the girls' brains may have become completely sugar-addled, I'll have you know that Clio nibbled away at the "1" cookie (it was baby Sam's first birthday party, the first of the second round of Perch babies) until she proudly declared it a "T."

yum: numeric-alphabet cookies.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Upon encountering the insane lines at the Costco check out (about 20 people deep):

Oh my gosh, Mommy. Right? Oh. My. Gosh.

Oh My gosh is right; sure is a traffic jam today.

I love traffic!

Really? You love traffic? You must not be my child, then.

I hate traffic! I said I hate traffic.

Clio Accidentally Flushed a Comb Down the Toilet

But don't worry; we got it.

Thanks to the fix-it stylings of Mr. David Peterson.

Doesn't he look so casual? So modest?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some things in life ARE free

Clio and I have (finally) discovered the library. And--Barb, cover your ears--for the first time in both of our lives, we have NYC library cards.

We took a cue from my friend Rebecca and have been hitting the children's room at our local branch on a weekly basis, bringing home three books at a time. And like Rebecca's daughter Scarlett, Clio tends to love one or two of the books and have little to no interest in the third. So far, we have read the relatively new and beautifully illustrated books When You Were Small and The Curious Garden and the classic Horton Hatches the Egg, all of which Clio and I both have loved; two books from the early-reader Iris and Walter series, which Clio loved but Dave hated; "learn a lesson" books Nobody Notices Minerva, Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy and Good Job, Little Bear, all of which she could take or leave; and Lilly's Big Day a bad choice by me about a mouse who desperately wants to be a flower girl, in which Clio was not at all interested.

For Clio, who loves books dearly (though lately is not treating them with love, throwing them on the floor, stepping on them, etc.), the library is a total dream. She can sit on the floor surrounded by shelves of stories and be happily occupied for hours. Luckily, Eleri seems content to sit on the floor and gnaw on a book or two, or crawl around and attempt to take books away from the other children. Clio does not quite understand that it is a quiet place, both for quiet voices and actions, and has been known to do some running and loud talking, but I think she's catching on. I'm just waiting for her to start calling it the "Library Party," as in the Children's Museum, which she dubbed the "Museum Party;" she seems to think it's just that much fun.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Peterson Girls' Guide to Being Good Houseguests

or, Easter in Cos Cob.

1. Invite yourself. At the last minute.

2. Allow your hosts to arrange--and pay for--your transportation.

3. Arrive early enough that alarms must be set in order for your hosts to greet you; make sure that at least one of your children is sick.

4. Pack light. You may think that I have forgotten things when looking at this photo, but no. The baby carrier, diaper bag, formula, and toys are all inside the suitcase. Genius!

5. Allow your toddler to gorge herself on grapes and olives for lunch. Make sure that someone else is holding her when it all comes back up. While you're at it, go ahead and let your hosts clean up after her and do the laundry.

6. Speaking of laundry, make sure to create a LOT of it. If the guest bathroom has lush white bathmats, you might want to see if your toddler can miss the toilet just a little while she pees and hit one instead, and if your baby can spit up on the other while you are at the sink.

7. Destroy something. For example, your baby might choose to gnaw the designs off the top block in a cute vintage set of cardboard nesting cubes; your toddler may be inclined to rip open a beanie baby or two.

8. Since it's a holiday, allow your hosts to create the requisite gifts and activities (easter basket, egg dyeing, egg hunt); people enjoy spending their time and money on other people's children.

9. Insist that someone else document all the charm and happiness that you have brought into their home.

10. Write a tongue-in-cheek blogpost about your visit making you appear ungrateful for your hosts graciousness, good will, and help with the kids and gear (when really, of course, you are thrilled to have fun and generous family near by, and can't say thanks enough to Aunt and Uncle Easter Bunny)!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Eleri Ruth, 9 months old

Eleri, you're getting to be such a big girl. I mean this literally- you continue to be in the 70-95th percentile, and are currently clocking in at a whopping 19 1/2 pounds, 28 1/2 inches- but I also mean it like, whoa, how are you sitting-crawling-eating solids-playing peekaboo-clapping-and growing into your personality already?

You often get a touch overshadowed by your drama-queen sister, but lately I'm so in love with your happy demeanor, your contented head on my shoulder, and your exuberance: you clap delightedly at a diaper change, dive enthusiastically for your bottles, and when we lie you down you do these energetic aerobics, scissoring your arms to your legs and scrunching up your face to show us the gap between your two front teeth, which are about halfway in.

I remember struggling to teach Clio sign language at this age- partly because it was de rigeur, but mostly because I felt I needed to understand what she wanted; with you, I generally feel like I know just by looking at you. Maybe because I learned the language of baby signs from Clio, maybe because you and I simply understand one another. You light up when I enter a room and cry when I leave it; I thought this was simply your way, but Dave insists this behavior is just for me. What can I say? Particularly as Clio grows into her independence, it's nice to be needed, and I love this connection.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Perhaps I Should Mention

Eleri is crawling.
She figured it out about a week ago, and as Dave puts it, it's not exactly elegant, but she gets where she needs to go. I caught some wobbly action on tape a few days ago, and finally won my battled with Windows Media Player this evening to resize the thing.

Disclaimer: I have a cold. Apologies for the gross sniffling that is much of the soundtrack.

The memory card filled up just before Eleri looked back at me, sat up with her treasure, and laughed. A lot.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Mommy, I see a cloud that looks just like the moon. It's round, like an "O" with two eyes and a nose and a mouth. It doesn't say anything, but turns around and around and around.

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

In response to the downpour that soaked us all this morning (and the forecast bringing more, more, more where that came from all week), the girls have new slickers.

And neither was particularly interested in being photographed wearing them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Can you tell Eleri is teething? She's got two teeth on the bottom and the top 2 are on their way. Not sure if the flushed cheeks or the desire to chew anything and everything (including, apparently, CD liner notes) is the bigger tell.

For me, the fact that our ever-sunny, happy baby is CRANKY is the clear giveaway.
Teething is hard, but teething biscuits can help.

Happy Fingers

On America

Having a few days a week free to work and run about town, I feel like I am experiencing other worlds on a daily basis. I was just rereading the French postmodernist philospher Jean Baudrillard's America, and during these daytime jaunts I feel a bit like a foreigner or an anthropologist, drawing unflattering conclusions of this country based on our strange shopping habits. I only wish I had my camera on me to record some of these sites (the littlest, most portable camera seems to have a shot battery):

The restroom at Target, Atlantic Center, downtown Brooklyn, 3pm on a Monday:

A parental war-zone. First of all, the 16-stall bathroom is at capacity, with nearly every stall, sink, and changing station in use. There are many screaming children. There are tiny newborns with harried mothers, and the impatient after-school crowd. With the high whir of the hand dryers, it's impossible to hear much of anything, let alone yourself think. Against the cold white tile, I am aware that mine is the only white face.

Costco, 38th and 3d, Sunset Park Brooklyn, 9:30 am on a Tuesday:

Half an hour before the store opens, people are lining up with their carts. The only explanation I can fathom is that al these people, like me, had to move their cars anyway for opposite-side parking, and the Costco lot has ample parking. At least it is sunny: one woman asks me the time, when I tell her it's only 9:30 (I, for one, didn't realize Costco opened at 10 on a weekday), she nods, settles in on a concrete turnstile, and turns her face to the sky.

Costco, 10 am the same Tuesday:

I return at opening time to slip in and out with a 2-month supply of formula. The gate has just gone up, and the carts are literally three deep out the entrance and fan out across the lot. there's a bottleneck as people flash their membership cards at the greeter. It looks a lot like boarding a very full flight, only the carts here are much, much larger than any carry on (or any suitcase) could ever be.

Inside, there is a flock around a table where, I can see from the backside, once I check out with my three items, the staff is putting out samples of coffee cake or breakfast pastry. They can't keep up with demand, and the U-banquet table is littered with empty plates while the crowd stares and waits.

Costco, 3pm on a Wednesday.

Outside, a bus pulls up. Two dozen European's deboard, enter the warehouse. I see them as I come down the flat "escalator" with a loaded cart. They are going up with no carts, looking all around and pointing. As I check out, I see them depart, empty handed.