Chewbacca

The other day I ran into a friend when I was with the baby and she was like “why is his arm all wet?” The answer is Leo loves to chew. He’s entering the baby put everything in your mouth phase. The pictures don’t quite do our baby’s appetite for his arms justice.

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As he is moves into this phase other stuff is going away. I guess folks say to enjoy it while it lasts because this baby business is fleeting. The thing that Leo has stopped recently that I miss most are his coy smiles. He used to look up at you and smile and then cover his mouth with his hand as if he was shy. It was painfully cute and now it is gone. Gone like the wind.

Before I get too nostalgic for two weeks ago, I can point out that some things don’t change. How come these just seem to be the disgusting ones? like constant spit up. We usually carry a cloth diaper around with us when out for a walk so that we can mop it up. This weekend we went for a walk without the diaper. We were walking along and I felt something wet on my leg. There was spit up all down my pants and all over Leo’s mouth. My creative husband decided to take off Leo’s socks to mop up his face. Before you get grossed out, since Leo doesn’t walk, the bottom of his socks are basically clean. But something does seem wrong about cleaning your mouth with something you’ve just taken off your feet.

Exersaucer

Here we are sitting in anticipation of using Leo’s new toy, “the exersaucer”. There is it sparkly and new right next to Caleb’s lovely butt. Leo loves to stand which makes us very proud of how strong he is and also a little sick and tired of constantly having to hold him up. We’re hoping that the exersaucer will take over for mommy and daddy in this regard.

Good news. We are finally listening to all of you people who want our kid to be smart and this morning we actually read Leo a book. It was a fairly uneventful few minutes. But like all the other toys we put in front of Leo he seemed happy to grunt at, drool on, and punch it, clear first steps to literary genius. Caleb thinks we should just read out loud whatever the heck we are reading and maybe that would get the kid excited about reading in the long run. His theory is that a three month old probably would just as uninterested in the New Yorker or The Blank Slate as Spot Bakes a Cake but at least we could be interested. We haven’t started reading the kid such boring stuff yet, but you might think so looking at this picture.

On this same topic, Caleb purchased an Evenflow exersaucer rather than a Baby Einstein one. Turns out Caleb is very against the Baby Einstein company. I guess their whole make your kid smart marketing shtick isn’t working on him. They are the kind of company that caters to parental fears that kids wont turn out smart if they doesn’t listen to Mozart played on the instrument for which it was intended, a weird plastic music box, while at the same time staring at a black and white mobile that looks like it was designed especially to enhance an LSD trip. I do side with Baby Einstein that black and white toys are nice for babies that can only see contrast, although I do think it is little weird to think that Mozart played in the most atonal way possible will increase a baby’s IQ. And I also think it is quite unpleasant to listen to.

All in all it was a good week of parenting for me, perhaps because Caleb has been doing all the parenting. For this reason, on valentines Caleb told me that I needed to get him a present. This seemed a little crazy to me, but still, I had decided to stop off and buy a nice bottle of wine on the way home from work. Yet at 5:30 on Wednesday night, the very clear message I was hearing from Caleb was “don’t waste your time getting me a present and get your ass home” (translate: get your boobs home). But then we had a very modern day snafu. See, I was supposed to instant message him at 5:45 if I was able to leave, but instead I called him, but he couldn’t get to the phone. So I got home 5 minutes to late for my boobs to be of any use any more because he’d already fed the baby.

Luckily for me, Caleb did get me a present and there was some chocolate waiting for me when I got home. Mmmm. It was a really nice coming home to such a lovely family and delicious chocolate and it felt like the best valentines day ever. I mentioned to Caleb that I wasn’t the kind of person to care too much about valentines gifts. To which he reminded me of the year he spend lots of money and time to find fancy perfume (what was he thinking?) and chocolate for me and I burst out crying because he didn’t get me flowers.

Ohh – interruption. I just got a text message! Erik is on his way. Here is a case study in what a luddite I am. Apparently I have received 20 text messages in the past two years and am just reading them now. Adhithi arrived at the airport in September. Katie missed my birthday this summer and was mailing to apologize in knitting class. Erik was stuck in traffic in June ’05.

From 2_15

And now I must go eat lunch. But you are all wondering how did I write such a long blog post and not mention Leo’s poop or my breastpump. It was hard, but I managed to do it. But since it takes me so long to write a post, with so many distractions, Leo has woken up and here is a cool video of him in his exersaucer.

Getting soft & similarities

Wow! Leo is so strong. He can practically jump out of his bumbo chair.

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Last night Leo slept his first six hours in our bed. I think we are getting soft. He cries a little and then we bring him on into the bed. Or maybe we are getting lazy, because we know that he’ll calm down if we put him in the bed. Someone, I can’t remember who, advised me that the best sleep arrangement is the one that lets mommy, daddy, and baby all get the most sleep. I have to say, now that I am at work, sleeping is feeling much more important to me. Pretty much every night last week I was in bed by 9:00. And if putting the kid in bed with me will let me sleep, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Sometimes at night Leo will fall asleep at 7:00 or 8:00 and I’ll wish he was awake, because I think he’ll have trouble sleeping at night. Caleb doesn’t think there is any correlation between Leo’s sleeping during the day and at night, but I’m not so sure.

This week I also heard from a few folks who had babies at about the same time as me. There are all these fun details about babies that seem universal but I never really thought of before having one. Shani in New York sent pictures of her five month old daughter who has that same wide mouthed smile that Leo has. And Mindy from business school is talking about the squeals of delight and also scared about heading back to work. But then I had a guilty shared moment with Patty. Well, Patty probably doesn’t feel guilty, but I love it when moms can admit they are human. Patty and I used to share an office at work. She was pregnant the same time as me and had her baby, Jordan, one month before, and she came back to work the same time as me. So I ran into Patty and asked her how she felt about going back to work she said it was nice to get out of the house. And I agree. It’s nice. I don’t cry every morning when I head off to work. Sorry Leo if you think I’m a bad mommy for saying this, but I need some time away too.

I think having lunch with Caleb & Leo helps. My first morning back at work I was so stressed out, forgetting my breast pump parts, just having to really work once again, that it was such a huge relief to see Caleb and Leo at noon.

And here Caleb has captured another one of those special moments that maybe other parents share. He finally got a picture of what Leo looks like when we are bench pressing him.

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Goodbye Beth

This week I got an email from Shani, an old friend from college, letting me know that Beth Samuels had passed away from breast cancer and asking me to write something for a book of memories for Beth’s two daughters.

This news is really sad for me and has been hard to get off my mind this week. I didn’t know Beth very well but in college she was an important person in an important part of my life. How do I know Beth? And also why don’t I know her very well?

Beth and I were math majors together. Two of a very small set, I’m not really sure how many, at Columbia. When college started we took a four semester long class together that was geared towards students wanting to major in math. The class started with about 40 people, but by the end there were only 8 of us. But maybe all along there were only 9-10 of us really engaged in the subject matter and the discussions and Beth was one of those people. Beth continued to be someone I could count on to be interesting and engaged throughout the rest of the courses in my major.

I’ve been thinking about what I can say to her daughters. What would I want to know about my missing mom from someone who knew her peripherally as I did?

Here are some memories. Beth was strikingly beautiful. I remember having seen her walking around campus during orientation before she showed up in my math class. As I said before, Beth was always very engaged in class. She was unafraid to speak up and always had insightful comments to make. Our honors math class was unique and one of my favorite memories from college. Somehow, our professor, Bob Friedman, or maybe some of us students created a dynamic where everyone seemed really excited about math. We begged our professor to come in an extra day a week and teach us an extra class because we were having so much fun. I’m not sure whose idea this was, but I am sure that Beth was one of the students so jazzed about math that she was coming in for extra classes.

This brings me to something that may not be obvious to her daughters when they hear about their mother. That is, Beth was successful in the long run, in an area very hard to excel. It is no small feat to get a Ph.D. in math, and then continue on to post doc at Berkeley. The funnel gets very narrow. Of the group of Columbia students begging for more math classes, I am pretty sure Beth was the only one to pursue it, the only one to actually go on to get a Ph.D. and to become a mathematician.

So basically, I’m sad that I didn’t know Beth better. It turns out that we were neighbors as she lived nearby in Palo Alto. It also seems that she was very active in feminism in the Jewish community. Even though feminism and math were two things that occupied many of my brain cycles in college, I never knew Beth that well and it sad that now I wont get to.

No basic structure
The aspect which sets this genre of essay apart from other essays is that it has no basic structure or format which students need to follow. In addition to that, the word limit is also kept very low as compared with other genres like argumentative or informative essay. Moreover, the clarity and conciseness which is normally required in a thesis statement of any normal essay is also not a strong requirement here since the reflective essay is about describing your personal opinion and the normal thesis statement can afford to be a bit blurred.

Phone calls

I got back to my desk at around 11:00 am today from a morning of typical work running around and I had two voicemails from Caleb, one on my cell and one on my work phone. Caleb never calls me at work so I was sure something was wrong. What really got me nervous was that the voice mails were so unspecific. Turns out, he was just calling to tell me that Leo hadn’t eaten until 10:30 so lunch would be late. I called Caleb a few times today too. I guess we’ll be talking on the phone more these days.

Leo has so much hair these days.

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Back at work

My nightmare came true. Well I didn’t actually forget my breast pump I just forgot the power cord rendering the breast pump (and all its parts that I did remember and spent hours laying out and making sure they were all there the night before) totally useless. Caleb brought the cord at lunch. I probably stared a bit too much at my own chest during my 11:00 meeting hoping that it wouldn’t spring a leak. Thankfully, I was ok on this front. Then at night another minor hiccup. I forgot to bring the milk home. So one trip back home to get the power cord, one trip back to work to get the milk. All in all the forgetfulness was not as stressful as I expected and day 2 had no such problems.

Caleb also seemed AOK with the first two days of our new arrangement. He even suggested that maybe he continue to stay home with the baby in the fall and prolong heading back to school. I take this as a sign that two days of at home Daddyhood didn’t make him want to crack.

Leo is here swiveling on his tummy. I think must be trying to go forward but instead is heading sideways. No pictures today because I haven’t been around to take them. :-(