Short Stories

YARD.  Right now we’re sitting in the backyard. I in my large Adirondack chair, Maisie in her small plastic Adirondack chair. She is painting. Well, if you can call painting splattering paint on some cardboard and stepping on it. Picture Jackson Pollack of the 2 ½ year old set.

ARM.  Maisie’s Uncle Steve has a pretty great collection of tattoos on his arms. And of course Maisie is pretty enamored with Uncle Steve so this morning Maisie got some “ink” of her own. With a black permanent marker on her left arm. “It’s a butterfly,” she says.

Able to leap tall piles of dirt in a single bound

Able to leap tall piles of dirt in a single bound

GAME. This afternoon, we played a new game. Maisie draped a blanket tent over her crib, then had me sit there for about twenty seconds while doings were going on under the blanket. At the end of 20 seconds, she popped out…totally naked…jumping up and down screaming, “Naked Wacko, Naked Wacko, Naked Wacko…”
Naked wacko, indeed.

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Coupla Things

NIGHT TIME RITUAL.  There’s this turtle that projects a bunch of stars and a quarter-moon on the ceiling. When it’s bedtime, I turn that on, but leave the bedroom light on.  Maisie climbs into her bed, I tuck her in along with Teddy (and God knows the world will end if Teddy can’t be found). Then I ask, “Are you ready for the stars?” And she answers, “And the moon.” Then I give her a big kiss, after which we both wipe it off our lips quite vigorously.  Then I turn off the lights so she can fall asleep under the stars.

And the moon.

SEVEN TO TEN TIMES.  These days, nothing can be done just once or even twice. Everything has to be done over and over and over again.  For example, if she wants to roll her suitcase into the kitchen to visit “Auntie Baba,” she has to say she’s going to visit Auntie Baba, roll her suitcase into the kitchen, then back into the living room, say “I’m back,” then roll into the kitchen again, back into the living room, “I’m back,” back into the kitchen, back into the living room, etc. This has happened a few times, and by observation it appears that once she’s made the trip from living room to kitchen seven times, then and only then does it qualify as an official visit to Auntie Baba.  Same holds true when outside and she straps herself in her wagon, wanting to be unstrapped ten seconds later.  Which means you have to get up from your chair 7 to 10 times to strap and unstrap.

Getting down to Barry Manilow's Copacabana.  Or maybe that's stop playing Barry Manilow's Copacabana.

Getting down to Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. Or maybe it’s more like stop playing Barry Manilow’s Copacabana.

DRIVER’S TRAINING.  Over the past few weeks, I thought it might be a good idea to begin demonstrating the fundamentals of safe driving.  So Maisie is now proficient at yelling, “Move it, Lady,” “It’s called a gas pedal, lady,” as well as understanding the elemental truth that “Green Means Go…”

“Lady.”

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The Year In Review

Well, this is basically what’s happened since October of 2012, besides dumping all the flowers in the aisle at her uncle’s wedding.  That was pretty funny.

TOY FRIEND.  The appearance of Maisie’s first imaginary toy friend happened a few days ago–a poodle dog named Ya Ya, who resides in a toy purse.  Unfortunately Ya Ya disappeared this morning, and we had to spend about five minutes looking for Ya Ya before giving up and moving on to the picnic basket. Which is now named Floyd.

BREAKFAST.  This morning I asked Maisie to make some bacon, eggs and pancakes in her pretend kitchen.  She walked over, opened the door of her plastic oven, pulled out a day-old piece of plastic pizza and held it up high as if to say, “You’ll eat what you get.”

BIRTHDAY COMING UP.  When you ask Maisie how old she’s going to be, she says two.  And holds up between three and five fingers.

YA YA DAY TWO.  Still no sign of Ya Ya.  Maisie says the poodle is in her room, but we have searched and found nothing.  Then in related news, when asked what she wanted for dinner, Maisie replied “Ya Ya.”  Then promptly set out a picnic spread for her and her bear, now named Bay-O.  Hmmm.

Practicing for placekicking duty with the New York Jets.

YA YA DAY THREE.  The purple purse in which Ya Ya resides showed up yesterday, but still no Ya Ya.

CHRISTMAS 2012. Santa Claus came and went.  Three times.  Once in Florida.  Once in Seattle.  Once in California.  Maisie couldn’t really say Santa Claus, so she would just rub her belly and say Ho Ho Ho.

Attack of the candy cane space alien.

ANIMAL BUTTS.  When Maisie refers to the hippopotamus, she always points to her butt and says “butt,” because the hippopotamus backside is, of course, quite large and, for her, it’s the next closest thing to saying it.  So when she did it this morning, thought it might be an opportune time to talk about bodily functions, since she was already pointing to her butt.  So I asked,

“Maisie, where do farts come from?”

“Da da.”

MORE NEW WORDS.  Latest is Dadaup, which is utilized mostly in the morning when Dada is trying to sleep. Maisie walks into the room, pulls at the covers and says “Dada Up.”  Of all her new words, this one is my least favorite.

A NEW KITCHEN FOR CHRISTMAS. Maisie received a huge beautiful new plastic double-decker play kitchen for Christmas (which barely fit in the car), and has since shown her cooking skills with pizza, milk with salt and pepper, beans and spatula salad, lettuce boiled lightly flambéed and some canned wheat. The Kitchen consists of microwave, regular oven, refrigerator, stove on top, sink on top and a third door which is currently a mystery.

Showing off the latest beach fashions

PLASTIC FOOD.  Maisie’s plastic food toys (which include plastic cans of refried beans and plastic slices of kiwi) now seem to be serving double duty.  The other day Maisie brought me the small plastic bottle of ketchup, thrust it in my face and said, “Beer.”  Then she pulled it away, put it to her lips and went about pretending to drink the entire thing directly in front of my face.  Then made that age-old sound of ageless beer refreshment.

“Ahhhhh…sucker.”

Then she walked away.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.  Two years old today, and I’m thinking about the personality that’s developing in my Maisie,  What makes her laugh?  What makes her angry?  What makes her stubborn?  Why she feels it necessary to stand in front of the TV when Downton Abbey is on.  The determination on her face shown when the candles on her cake would not go out at first breath.  Folding the cheese pizza in half long-ways like a real life New Yorker.  Why she feels compelled to wear Elmo, no matter what the social occasion.  Or crying for no good reason, pointing to the floor or her way of saying/demanding to SIT HERE, checking my heart rate and fixing the wonky cartilage in my knee with her Fisher-Price doctor kit.

Pants by Target, Coat by Ross Dress For Less

MISTAKEN IDENTITY.  Appears Santa Claus is getting the credit for all the birthday presents Maisie received, as when Maisie was asked who got her the toy shopping cart, she rubbed her belly and said Ho Ho HO.  Same thing happened with the toy doctor kit, the Elmo microphone and the Dora the Explorer microphone.

YES AND NO.  Maisie can now say Yes and No.  Problem is she answers yes to everything you ask her.

Did you eat all your breakfast?  Yes.

Did you put all your toys away?  Yes.

Did you have a poopy?  Yes.

Did you throw rocks at cars?  Yes.

Did you send a nuclear warhead to Bakersfield?  Yes.

She does say no, but that is usually in response to anything to do with going to bed.

Maisie and "Creepy Dress Alike Doll" from Mattel

LOVE AT THE AQUARIUM. Maisie went up to a five year old kid at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, stuck her tongue in his ear, and did not pay attention to the “get away from me” that came shortly thereafter.

MADAGASCAR. At this moment, I’m watching the movie Madagascar for the 173rd time in the last three days.  It is the “Funny Movie” as Maisie calls it.  And every waking minute of our lives is either watching “Funny Movie” or asking to watch “Funny Movie.”  It’s an entertaining movie the first 50 times.  By the 70th time you see it, it loses a little bit of its freshness.  But at least I have all the dialogue memorized, “Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave.”

VOCABULARY. In the last three months vocabulary has expanded exponentially.  A few months ago, there were three words…

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Dada Beer

But now current estimates put her vocabulary at about 400 words, with new ones added on a daily basis.  On Monday it was Pinky.  On Tuesday it was McDonald’s.  On Wednesday it was Elbow.

Showing off peanut butter and jelly sandwich and bowl haircut

WHAT MAISIE WANTS. Today Maisie said she wanted a horse for the back yard.  This is also where she wants to keep the cow, the giraffe, the duck and the gecko.

REPORT:  Attempts to play the game “Scratch Daddy’s Back” have been unsuccessful so far.

BIG GIRL POTTY Besides being freaked out by watching Potty Time with Elmo (nobody should ever have to watch Elmo urinate, I am now personally involved with Maisie’s progress on the big girl potty.  Whenever she successfully launches some pee pee into the bowl, she comes running out buck naked to proudly show off her work.

“Pee pee, dada, pee pee.”

Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Poop.

ERIC CLAPTON.  Yesterday we were watching Eric Clapton and I mentioned to Maisie that Eric Clapton is one of the best guitarist of all time.  She nodded her head in understanding.

Then that evening to show off Maisie’s knowledge of greatest guitarists of all time.  I asked her to explain who Eric Clapton is to her mother, to which she said…

“Eric Clapton is a funny guy.”

COUNTING.   Asking her to count the gnomes in the neighborhood and she says “1, 2, 5 gnomes.”  But ask her to count lemons and she’ll say “1, 2, 3 lemons.”  Gnomes apparently live by a different set of numerical rules.

ONE MORE TIME.  Another thing Maisie says on a consistent basis is “One more time and that’s it,” with the finger extended at the end.  She said that to me this morning when I asked her if I could sleep a little longer.  Learned from her mother.

ANOTHER MILESTONE THIS WEEKEND.  In Fresno, lying by the pool, I asked Maisie if she would get me a beer from the fridge.  She waddled away for about two minutes, and returned with a root beer.   After some explanation about how real beer comes in blue cans, she returned with a Bud Light.

MORE ROMANCE.  Today Maisie was holding hands with a little kid at the playground but claimed to still be in love with Elmo.

AND ALLKNOWINGNESS. Today Maisie corrected Aimee’s drawing of a baby saying that it looked like a snowman.

Showing exactly how the finger fits perfectly into the nose

FINDING NEMO. Last night we watched finding Nemo for the first time.  This is what happened.

  • Maisie cried when Nemo get separated from his Dad
  • Cried when Nemo got stuck in the aquarium hose
  • Cried when the brat kid showed up.
  • Cried when Nemo still hadn’t reunited with his father.
  • Cried when the turtles showed up.
  • Didn’t cry when Nemo was reunited with his dad, but cried when he went off to school

KID IN WINTHROP.  We spent the weekend in Winthrop where this crazy little kid who started following us around, leaving his real dad in the gift shop.  For like 15 minutes he followed me around.  Then he began calling me dad and tried to sucker me into some sort of the game of tag. Where was his father? Flirting with the girl in the gift shop.

COOKING DINNER. Maisie took a shot at cooking dinner today.  In a very large frying pan, she threw in a full size zucchini, a full-size carrot and a full-size everything that was in the produce delivery bin.

LATER ON.  I walked out of my bathroom to be greeted by Maisie who asked me, “You poop?”

Trying some of her father's Macaroni And Liver Bits.

AND.  On the trying to get her off marrying Elmo front, I asked Maisie if she was going to marry Daniel Tiger to which she replied, “no, he’s just a friend.”

AND. This morning I went to pull out my notebook out of my backpack and instead discovered Ducky Daddle.

ON THE PHONE.  Here is a list of people that Maisie calls on her playphone:

  • GPop and Noni
  • Big Elmo
  • Auntie Baba and Auntie Bonnie
  • San Diego

Here is a sample conversation:

“Hi G-Pop, Hi Noni, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, bye G-Pop, bye Noni.”

This was the last known sighting of Mr. Sheep.

SENTENCE STRUCTURE.  It’s basically at the point now where it’s impossible to keep track of new words or conversations for that matter.  You just wait through a line of unintelligible squawking until you get to the point of the entire discussion…

“So Blah Blah, passorano, bingo, byama, mammor, shoes.”

Oh shoes, yes I understand.

"Stop following me, bastard pumpkins."

CH-CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGE.  Took a bunch of change out of the change jar and put it in my pocket (since Maisie has a habit of taking change out of the change jar and putting it in her mouth).  So she asks, “Is the money in your pocket?”  And I say no.  Then to throw her off the track, I tell her that the money is down my shirt.  So she looks down my shirt and finds nothing down there except a large stomach.  After unsuccessfully scouring the rest of my body for change, she walks into the bathroom, looks down Aimee’s shirt and asks, “Is there any money down there?”

Our new house!

 

 

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All Hallow’s Eve 2012 (Year of the Elmo)

The matter of what costume Maisie would wear was settled sometime around August.  The minute Maisie laid eyes on the Elmo outfit at Target, she shrieked, pointed, refused to consider anything else.  Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, all worthy…all relegated.  To complete her costume, she received a trick or treat “bag” shaped as an Elmo head from her Aunt Baba.

Over the course of the following weeks, Maisie helped Linda put up “sheet ghosts” in the trees, listened to Halloween Hullaballoo at least 72 times and perfected her delivery off the word, “Boo.”

  • Point at the tree ghosts… “Boo.”
  • Point at the giant plastic pumpkin in the window… “Boo.”
  • Point at her mother in the morning… “Boo.”

Then a few days before, it was time to model the full costume.  While of course adorable, it was still a bit strange to see a little Elmo holding an even smaller Elmo head.  It got even weirder when Maisie threw the Elmo head-bag on the floor and the front part of his eyeballs popped out leaving two half shells for eyes.  Undead Elmo, as the bag was now known.

But it wasn’t anything a tube of SuperGlue couldn’t fix, and soon enough Undead Elmo was back in the land of the living.  There was a walk-through of the Elmo costume at Heidi/Shane/Colby/Chase’s party and the results were generally positive.  Except for some comments about Elmo’s parents being lazy and not bothering to dress up, relying instead on “wacky shirts.”

Finally when the big day did come, Elmo and Little Head of Elmo went to downtown Ballard and did a laudable job of collecting loot, the small items were left in Maisie’s possession, but the larger items (Kit Kats, Nestle Crunch bars, etc) were all confiscated by her parents

Elmo on the warpath

PARTING HALLOWEEN SHOT:  10-year-old girl’s comment watching Maisie walking down the street:

“Oh my God, she is so cute, I could just die.”

 

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Ending 2013 With A Large Noise, Part 1

SUDDENLY EUROPEAN.

Maisie doesn’t just say Da Da like a normal kid would.  It’s Da Da with the emphasis on the last syllable. You know, like a precocious French schoolchild…

da DA

It makes me feel very continental, so much so that I am also doing some syllable-emphasis-changing of my own.  I no longer say Bud Light, but rather…

Bud LIGHT

Sending first text: "Wdaj;gvao;ladpaohowedj;ahfp. Love, Maisie."

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN.

Maisie is back in the crib. She’s not sleeping in it of course, but rather jumping up and down wildly while listening to Wheels On The Bus. She jumps so crazily that for a minute you think this particular recording of Wheels On The Bus may have some veiled meaning to certain kids. Like “Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round, Round and Round, Round and Round” is infant secret code for BABY ANARCHISTS, JUMP UP AND DOWN WILDLY IN YOUR CRIB NOW!!!  But then same thing happens on One Potato, Two Potato, so there you go.

BREAKFAST AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

Aimee took off to Vegas with all her East Coast Mob Wife friends, and Maisie and I hung out for four days together. During that time we did many enjoyable things, but the thing I think she enjoyed the most was my new breakfast creation Breakfast Cheesebread.  Here’s how you make it.

  1. Order a cheese pizza the night before
  2. Refrigerate
  3. Serve the next morning as Breakfast Cheesebread.
  4. Serves ten.

I DREAMED A DREAM I HAD CLEAN CLOTHES…

Sometimes you know things are a bad idea, but you do them anyway.  Like on the way to the Athletic Club, Maisie and I decided to stop at McDonald’s and eat in the car. Of course when Maisie eats in the car, you hope most of what is eaten ends up in her mouth.  But within minutes, hamburger was on her pants, fries were scattered all over the back seat and chocolate milk covered her face,  her hair, her neck and every piece of clothing she had on that day. So that by the time I dropped her off at childcare at “The Club, she looked like the little poor girl from Les Miserables, face dirty, hair in clumps and clothes stained with Happy Meal grease.  These are the things that happen when Aimee leaves town for four days.

 

Making a mess, or what happens when you eat sideways

VARIOUS THINGS MAISIE DOES THESE DAYS

  • Holds her hand up to her nose when her diaper needs immediate attention (otherwise known as a “stinky”)
  • Does her own version of Love A Lever (after the song on Sesame Street with Sutton Foster). Whenever Maisie holds her silverware with both hands horizontally that means she wants to watch the Love A Lever segment from Sesame Street Episode #4231  We have watched the Love A Lever segment from Sesame Street Episode #4231 at least 173 times.
  • Hides things like phone charging cords, plums, defibrillators, spare keys, real keys.
  • Smells pictures of flowers whenever she comes across them
  • Uses her plate for the first couple minutes of every meal then dumps everything into her high chair tray.
  • Eats a cheeseburger cheese first, then pickles, then burger patty, then bun, then ketchup.

INTRODUCING VIDEO, WILL WONDERS EVER CEASE!

White Stevie Wonder

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Falling Leaves, Books, And A Newfound Obsession With Pumpkins

BRUSHING THE BACK OF YOUR TEETH.

After every meal, proper hygiene mandates we have Maisie brush her teeth.  Which we do…and which she does…to a point.  She does a stellar job of brushing her front teeth.  Goes up and down, side to side, etc.  It’s when we tell her “don’t forget the back teeth” that she pulls the brush out of her mouth and brushes her actual back.  Then she brushes her hair.  Then back to the back, then hair.  So while her back teeth may suffer some cavities, at least we know the back of her head will be completely free of tooth decay

Maisie, showing off her front teeth and favorite mustard bottle.

GOOD DOG CARL

Out of the tens of thousands of books Maisie has at her disposal it never fails that the one she chooses to read is the one Aimee and I wish never existed.  This is “Good Dog Carl.”  Whenever we see her pull it out of the pile, you hear us say, “Ohhhh no, not Good Dog Carl.”  Good Dog Carl is about 25 pages long and has about 7 words.  “Take care of the baby while I’m gone.”  And at the end of the book, “Good Dog Carl.”  This means, there’s no phoning it in and reciting half-memorized lines.  You have to improvise every time you read it.  This requires thinking.  The kind of thinking that sometimes isn’t readily available at 8 in the morning.  And on top of that, the story line centers on a Mom who leaves the house and entrusts her kid to a Dog.  Where’s child protective services?  Where’s the SPCA?  Where are some more words?

BOOKS WITH LOTS OF WORDS

Now as rebuttal to the previous entry, there’s also nothing quite as tiring as opening a book that looks innocently elementary (and short) on the outside to find they have reprinted the entire Bible on the inside.  This is when you start taking blocks of type and read every fifth word.

ACTUAL STORY.  “What will happen to my little bed?” Small Bear asked as he caught up with Papa Bear.  But Papa was sharpening his ax on his grinding stone and didn’t hear.  “Yes indeed,” said Papa Bear.  “You need a bed you can stretch out in—a bed that will not give you pains in your knees and aches in your legs.”  He tested the axe to see if it was sharp then headed off into the woods.  What will happen to my little bed?” Small Bear asked again as he caught up with Papa Bear in the woods.  Papa had chopped down a tree and was splitting it into boards.  “We will have a new baby soon who will need that little bed,” said Papa Bear as he whacked off another board,  “A new baby?” asked Small Bear.  He hadn’t noticed that Mam Bear had grown very round lately, although he had noticed it was harder and harder to sit on her lap.  “And it’s coming soon?”  “Yes, very soon!” said Papa Bear.  With a final hack he split off the last board, which gave him enough wood to make a bigger bed for Small Bear.

MINUS EVERY FIFTH WORD.  “What bed?” Small up Papa didn’t Papa bed you can stretch will in your axe headed will bed? Small caught in chopped it have will said whacked baby? Mama lately, it sit it’s very final which make Bear.

VERY FIRST HAIRCUT, OR YOU DISTRACT HER WITH THE ELMO DOLL AND THE BARBER CHAIR DISGUISED AS A CAR WHILE I STRAP HER DOWN AND MARINE-CORPS THAT UNRULY HEAD OF HAIR.

Haircut Day: Before.

Haircut Day: After

BOOK.  STOLEN?

This morning, Maisie walked up to the couch wanting me to read her the book, “At The Zoo.”  When I opened it up to the inside cover, this is what I read:

To Emily Grace, Love from Grandma Jack.

We have no idea who this Emily Grace is.  Nor Grandma jack.  Now where “At The Zoo” actually came from.  It just showed up.  Like, like it was from another dimension.  A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.  That’s the signpost up ahead.  Your next stop, The Twilight Zone.

MORNING REPORT

  1. Maisie pointed to a crab in the Deep Sea Dive book and said, “Mama.”  Now of course all descriptions of her mother as a crab need independent confirmation, so I waited five minutes then asked her, “Where’s Mama?”  She pointed at the crab.  It is now official.
  2. A new word today…Canada.  Or “canda” as in “I’m going to Canada where they let me play with the mustard and let me leave the refrigerator door open as long as I like.”

Open refrigerator door

Reason behind open refrigerator door.

FIRST UNAIDED BURST OF LAUGHTER.

Like most American families, we watch TV together.  And last Thursday night we happened to be watching Up All Night on NBC.  It was about fifteen minutes into the show, during the scene when Christina Applegate’s little kid takes her phone and throws it into the toilet when Maisie just burst out laughing.  Just to make sure this was not some coincidence and maybe Maisie was reflecting on some hilarious exchange she had seen earlier on Sesame Street that day, we wound back the DVR a couple scenes.  Sure enough when the phone got thrown in the toilet…again, howls of laughter.  While overjoyed that our daughter is developing a sense of humor similar to ours, we’ve taken the precaution of locking up all our cellphones in a safe.

 

A sweet look from Maisie as she eats her breakfast of cheese and little tiny rocks.

FEAR REPORT

Things Maisie is scared of these days (or what makes her hit her chest with her hand which is Maisie speak for “I’m scared pick me up even though I weigh the same as a large boulder):

  • Fire engines
  • Low flying planes
  • Her crib
  • Pictures of her crib
  • Dogs barking
  • Peanut butter*

*Actually Maisie isn’t scared of peanut better, I am.

WALK

It seems our quick walks around the neighborhood have turned into four-hour marathons.    The reason this happens is we’ll walk half a block then Maisie has to stop to look at a pumpkin on someone’s porch.  Then we walk about ten steps and there are some weeds we have to point at.  Another ten steps and we have to stop for an interesting crack in the sidewalk.  Five steps and she’s spotted a bug.  Seven steps and there is a leaf down on the sidewalk that needs attention.  And so it continues for the next half block, pausing for more pumpkins, a stick, dirt, trees, flowers, little tiny benches, garden hoses, gnomes, another stick, more dirt, and continues as such until we either get home, or she trips over one of the sidewalk cracks and starts crying.

Maisie and one of her favorite pastimes: tearing apart all of her father's bananas and making sure they're so bruised they're inedible.

 

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MAISIE. THE LOST MONTHS.

WHA’ HAPPEN? We all have the best intentions when we start these blog/journal type things.  But then you kind of forget to write something down one week, and six months later you’re looking at several pages that should be filled with witty observations and sharp child rearing tips and instead are filled with cryptic notes that read “tights on backwards” or “fell down today/big snot.”  So consider the next LARGE entry somewhat like the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It fills the void, but am still trying to figure out what half of it actually means…

 

WALKING.  Maisie is full on walking now.  Or actually full on stumbling.  Her form of stumblewalk goes kind of like this.

  • Place one foot in front of other and put hands high in the air while stumbling forward as if you’re looking for someone to high five with each new step.

Every now and then Maisie reverts back to the crab crawling that had been in vogue until just recently.  But the crab crawl has obviously plunged down Maisie’s list of favorite modes of transportation to just above old Ford pickup with no suspension and just below being dragged along by rope.

AMAZING.  It is amazing watching her learn (you do say the word “amazing” a lot through this process like “It’s amazing that I haven’t taken a shower in six days”).  Her vocabulary is still a series of different grunts followed by pointing.  But she definitely will you know when she doesn’t want the banana or does want the picture of Uncle Steve hanging up on the wall.  She can now tell Grandpa from her dad, her Grandma from her mom, and most importantly Elmo from the Cookie Monster.  She is now a full-fledged little person with her own full-fledged little attitude.

Get out of my way, worthless adult.

LIFE OBSERVATION.  Driving along yesterday, I saw a cow with his head stuck in barbed wire.  I thought about this for a while.  Besides the obvious point of why, if you’re a cow, would you stick your head into barbed wire in the first place, there was a deeper thought, a deeper revelation to be had.  Here’s where I ended up:

  • If you stick your head in barbed wire, it might get stuck.

Live by that principle and you shall be happy the rest of your life.

ONE EASTER STORY FROM FLORIDA.  Maisie loves the Easter Bunny, or at least isn’t scared to death of the Easter Bunny.  At a mall in West Palm Beach, she ran after him when he left to go on a ten minute Easter Bunny break. “I gotta go lay some eggs, kid,” I thought I heard him say.  Maisie continued running after him apparently to remind him that rabbits are indeed not oviparous

LIFE OBSERVATION 212:  OLD.  Somehow I’m getting older and getting younger at the same time.  The younger part of me finds programs like Sesame Street entertaining while the older part of me sometimes feels like my arm is going to fall out of its socket.

SESAME STREET CORNER.  Sesame Street has become a full on addiction.  When it’s on, Maisie stands at the coffee table transfixed.  Pointing at Big Bird, screaming at Elmo and looking dreamily at Burt.  And when not watching Sesame Street, we’re reading “1, 2, 3 by Elmo,” “Nighty Night With Baby Big Bird” or “Little Bo Peep As Told By Ernie.”  Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Elmo dolls have taken over the house.  Originally confined to Maisie’s easy chair, they now stretch out on the couch, hog the remote and eat all the cookies.  It’s all encompassing, but it sure is nice to be able to set her in front of the TV for an hour and do some things around the house:  pick up trash, put away dishes, drive to the store to buy cigarettes and bourbon.

Cookie Monster hogging chair, demanding beer

FRICTION ON SESAME STREET.  Don’t ever let it be said that there’s not an edge to Sesame Street.  On the Rocko the Rock episode, Elmo gets pushed out of shape because Zooey’s friend Rocko the Rock wants to take a turn on a swing ahead of Elmo.   But Elmo who is usually fairly easy going about these things, balks.  He just can’t get past the fact that Rocko is a Rock and thus begins to complain bitterly.  This goes on for a time, until Elmo finally acquiesces and says OK, Rocko can have a turn.  That’s when Zooey steals Elmo’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and al hell breaks loose. Elmo pushes Rocko into a tree, and Rocko retaliates by throwing himself at Elmo’s head.  Big Bird tries to separate them but nobody pays attention because Big Bird is Gay.

FAVORITE TOY OF THE MOMENT:  That would be the talking picnic basket.   Every day we all sit down and Maisie opens the basket and distributes food to everyone.  Mommy gets the sandwich, Maisie gets the watermelon, and Daddy gets what’s either an orange slice or a bar of Dial soap.

Maisie vs. Strawberry Jam

BREAKING NEWS:  MAISIE NOT FOND OF GAUGHIN, SELTZER WATER.

SEATTLE–In no uncertain terms, Maisie has let it be known that her father’s birthday outing to the Seattle Art Museum’s Gaughin In Polynesia exhibit was not high on her to-do list.  Settling in somewhere between taking a bath and pooping, she communicated her displeasure by yelling loudly and making arm gestures.  It appears that her least favorite portraits were Parahi te Marae (The Sacred Mountain), Women and A White Horse and Arii Matamoe (The Royal End) which she threw a rice cracker at. In an unrelated development, Maisie also made a number of sour faces while consuming Seltzer Water during a meal on Sunday night. “Who likes that shit, it has bubbles.” She told reporters When questioned why she kept drinking it if she found it so repulsive she said, “You don’t see some of the other stuff I have to eat.”

DANCING:  Maisie’s dance steps are quite complicated, but with applied study and discipline, you too can also be a great dancer.  Pay close attention(to the tune of Sheena Is A Punk Rocker by the Ramones):

  1. Stand on bed, put both hands on table
  2. Stick Butt out
  3. Move head back and forth three or four times.  Stop
  4. Raise arm
  5. Move head again with arm raised
  6. Repeat

THERE HAS BEEN AN UNSUBSTANTIATED REPORT OF a Butt Crack in the house, but has yet to be confirmed.  It is reported that the Grout Doctor came by to do some grout work, and in the process revealed at least a ¼ inch of butt crack while bending over to address the grout situation in the upstairs bathroom.  During the incident, her father tried to shield Maisie’s eyes but failed in the attempt.  Now she is scared of sirens, dogs and butt crack.

An unconfirmed full butt crack sighting

I KISSED A BOY AND I LIKED IT.  Today after church, Aimee rounded a corner in the courtyard to see Maisie mashing on a one year old.  The boy’s parents said that Maisie stalked him coming out of the church, waited until he was away from his parents then attacked with guns blazing and mouth open.   After being separated, the boy experienced his first panic attack but will make a full recovery.  Maisie just said “Whatever,” and went over to destroy some flowers.

NEW CAR SEAT.  I understand that kids grow like weeds, but can’t something kid related last more than like four months.   We just bought a new car seat and already she’s getting too big for it.  It is nice though, it has a black and white cow pattern, a lot of belts and buckles and an instruction book that is completely indecipherable.

COOKING.  I never really cooked all that much before…OK, like maybe never at all before…but I have mastered the art of scrambling an egg.   My signature (which Maisie loves by the way) is called the Cesar Romero which is one scrambled egg with cheese, pepper, egg shells and unidentifiable food crumbs.

ANOTHER MILESTONE TODAY.   Maisie produced her first work of art while at Swanson’s Nursery with Linda (she’s our part time sitter in case I haven’t mentioned it yet).  It’s a pretty good representation of three lines of green and one blob of yellow.

WAVE.  About the cutest thing in creation is an infant’s wave.  sometimes you get it forwards, sometimes you get it backwards (which means sometimes she waves at you, other times she waves at herself or whatever’s behind her).  But it’s when she sends a little wave from her crib as she’s falling asleep that can turn a day when you got a speeding ticket, scraped your car, got fired from your job, and was arrested for male prostitution into a pretty decent day after all. But there were ulterior motives two days ago when I came home when Maisie did a forward wave, came up to give me a hug, and walked away with my keys.

Relaxing in her easy chair after kicking Cookie Monster to the curb.

SPEAKING OF DECEPTION.  I was reminded today of being in Africa and watching how hyenas lure lions away from their dinner.  One would walk around to the right, while another would sneak up on the left.  So the lion would chase after the hyena on the right, while the hyena on the left would zero in on the dead zebra fricassee and drag it away before the lion returned. Maisie just did the same thing.  I was writing on my notepad.  She walked up and pointed at the pen, meaning of course, “I want that.”  When I told her no, she walked out of the room and started rummaging in the boxes she knows are off limits.  When I got up to tell her “no you know those are off limits,” she ran back into the living room and hijacked the pen.

THE DAILY SHOW. Maisie is pointing more than talking (although she does say Da and Ma when she wants something or is angry).  But she does have an in-depth understanding of anatomy, as witnessed by this ritual we repeat daily:

“Where’s Maisie’s feet?” Maisie points at her feet.

“Where’s Maisie’s hair?” Maisie grabs her hair (which usually has avocado or jam in it)

“Where’s Maisie’s tongue?” Maisie’s tongue rolls out (not unlike Gene Simmons of Kiss)

“Where’s Maisie’s ears?” She uses both hands and grabs both ears.

“Where’s Maisie’s belly?” She lifts her shirt and pats her belly just like she finished Thanksgiving dinner

“Where’s Maisie’s butt?” She lifts her shirt and pats her belly just like she finished Thanksgiving dinner.  Still working on that.

 

BUBBLES.  Suns out today, so we’re blowing bubbles in the back yard.  Well, I’m blowing bubbles.  Maisie is putting the bubble wand up to her mouth and that’s about it.  I told her the secret to blowing bubbles begins with actually blowing.  She still doesn’t quite get it, but at least she has a clean lower lip.

Maisie somehow confusing "storage box for toys" with "nice hat."

EVOLUTION.  More and more, Maisie is helping out around the house.  She picks up her toys, closes the front door when it’s accidentally left open and pulls the dishes out of the dishwasher to give to her Mom.  Of course she does all this naked.

Butt Shot II: Helping out around the house

DISCIPLINE.  For those who don’t understand the concept of discipline, here’s how it works:

  1. Child does something wrong like slaps spoon away while eating or bites shoulder.
  2. Parent speaks sternly to child
  3. Child stops what their doing, eyes well up, face turns red, lets out heartbreaking wail, then cries so hard child can’t catch breath.
  4. Parent feels bad, hugs child, says sorry he/she yelled at her/him
  5. Child stops crying knowing parent is in palm of hand

TOYS UPDATE.  Those that used to talk now only make clicking sounds.  This is true for all the toys except the Activity Center, which is permanently stuck in Spanish.

HOW FAST IS TIME PASSING?  Yesterday was Maisie’s one year birthday.  Today, she turned a year and a half.

CONCRETE STORY.  Apparently Maisie did a face plant the other day while walking with Linda.  But rather than be hugged or consoled, she just crossed her arms and walked down the sidewalk crying.

Office Chair, after making fun of scratch on Maisie's forehead

A TALENT FOR SLAMMING THINGS.  Maisie likes to slam doors.  She’ll go to one door in the kitchen and slam it.  Move on to the doorway in the hall, slam it.  Walk over to the front door, slam it. I believe this talent will come in handy in the future especially when a job description states, “must be a self-starter, have good communication skills and be able to slam doors loudly and with great force.”

THE BEST PART OF WAKING UP…  Every morning when Maisie wakes up, she yells “Da.”  Sometimes this is at 6:45 on a Saturday but it’s still pretty great.

Frodo Baggins

OBSERVATION #500  You spend thousands on toys, books, and anything to keep your child occupied.   Which guarantees that her favorite activity will not have anything to do with the toys books, etc.   Spinning round real fast until falling down on the carpet as an example.

FRESNO.  Here is a blow by blow description of her first time in the pool with her Aunts.

  1. Gets feet wet.
  2. Moves on to ankles.
  3. Steps in gingerly.
  4. Immediately graduate to splashing everyone who isn’t in the pool.

MORE ABOUT FRESNO

  • Went  to the zoo, chased birds
  • Spent the day with her cousins and come back with 17 mosquito bites.
  • Ate her first rib, her first beef ka-bob, her first jell-o salad and her firsthomemade vanilla ice cream
  • Spent many hours in the pool
  • Got $10,000 worth of new clothes
  • Learned to like Uncle Larry again

Properly dressed for swimming. And the Kentucky Derby

CHEAPEST TOY I EVER BOUGHT.  The straw from a large “Souvenir” Cup from Roeding Park Zoo in Fresno, California.  Maisie has spent hours blowing into it like a flute that plays a grand total of three notes.  Loud, loud minor and loud sharp.

ALARM CLOCK.  I have a built-in alarm clock now, which is a couple leg kicks to the face.  In the evening, Maisie uses all her persuasive ability to get in the big bed with her parents, then spends most of the night positioning herself vertically, so that at the first hint of sunlight, she can kick me in the face, the ribs, the head, whatever vulnerable body part is closest, to let me know that morning has arrived and to let her sleep another couple hours.

THE HEAD BUTT AND THE FIVE-SECOND DELAY CRY.  It’s a bit of a shock when you’re sitting there minding your own business staring blankly at the window and a little head comes out of nowhere and bangs you upside the head.  Then five seconds later the crying starts when she finally figured out that, oh shit, that actually hurts.

UPDATE:

  1. Maisie just seems to be getting bigger by the day
  2. In the morning her hair looks like it was styled by electric shock

LATEST VOCABULARY AND ARM MOVEMENT REPORT:

  • Father—Gnk (points at father)
  • Mother—Gnk (points at mother)
  • Water—Gnk (points at glass)
  • More—Gnk (points at whatever she wants more of)

GENERATION GAP?  On the way up to a weekend in British Columbia, Aimee was having a hard time remembering a certain show where a bunch of people were stranded on an island.  Of course that could only mean one show, right?  Gilligan’s Island.

“No, Lost.”

WHAT HAPPENED DURING OUR WEEKEND IN VANCOUVER:

  • Found out that Maisie loves Miso and Rice Balls and knows how to drink from a Miso soup bowl and throw a rice ball no problem.
  • Likes Greek food, especially pita bread.
  • Likes to go over to the air conditioner and put her face over it so her hair blows up.   Like Stevie Nicks.
  • Threw pennies into a fountain.  I wished for health and happiness.  Aimee wished for happiness and health.  Maisie wished for her pennies back.

SUDDENLY and I mean like on Friday, Maisie started walking like a hunchbacked gorilla.  Bending over very low, hands dangling to the ground and walking around like an infant Quasimodo. We immediately ran out to Toys R Us to purchase the Fisher Price Hunchback Church Bell, so she can ring it and scream out, “Oh, all that I ever loved.

iPHONE IS NOW NEW FAVORITE TOY.  Maisie ran into the kitchen like she was on a serious phone call.  Speaking loudly.  Angry.  Exasperated. Talking to the cable company would be my best guess.

KEYS ARE NOW NEW FAVORITE TOY.  We have a fun game when I get home from work.  I give Maisie my keys and see how long it takes before she turns on the car alarm.  Usually around 15 seconds

T-SHIRTS ARE OTHER NEW FAVORITE TOY.  Maisie has been raiding my collection of T-shirts and has decided she likes all the yellow ones the best including the Temporarily Out Of Order, Palm Strike and the Celtic soccer shirt.  They are now all in her crib…which, of course, she never sleeps in anymore.

Showing her undying devotion to the Moroccan National Soccer Team

ANOTHER FIRST. Maisie unfastened her diaper all by herself and walked out into the kitchen with her ballerina shoes on and nothing else.  Then she peed on the floor.

ANOTHER CRAZY BOOK “Baby Puppy” starts off well enough, but then goes off the tracks by leading you in one direction then completely pulling out the rug.  Like “Jess and Charlie are sitting in the yard.”  Then in the same breath, pulling a 180 and asking to “point to the fluffy cloud.”  Or…  “These two bunnies have floppy ears, can you point to the green grass?”

ANOTHER FAV:  Her favorite thing to do now is going up and down the stairs.  Then back up, then back down, back up, back down, up, down, up, down, up.

FALLING OFF THE BED.  AGAIN.  Not sure how this all went down, but around 1:00 in the morning heard a thump then a loud cry.  I scrambled around and actually couldn’t find her at first (only extreme panic) then spotted her between the night table and the bed.  She was fine, quit crying and went straight back to bed.  But for the rest of the night and the next seven nights after that, every time she slightly turned or moved her foot, I lunged to stop her from falling off the bed.

NEW BOY.  On our walk today, Maisie met a boy at the playground.  At first he seemed like a cool dude.  But then he needed his Mommy to help him up the ladder and the three platforms to the slide.  In the meantime, Maisie had made quick work of ladder and platforms slid down on her stomach, and been three times around before the little boy made it to the top of the stairs.  Then he sat there and cried for his Mommy.  Wimp.  You ain’t dating my daughter, pilgrim.

FIRST WORDS FOR SURE

  1. MAMA
  2. DA
  3. ELEPHANT
  4. APPLE
  5. BULLSHIT

Eating some taters West Virginia style

AND FINALLY TWO STORIES ABOUT FLORIDA

ONE.  It was a five and a half hour overnight plane ride from Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale.  Long but hopefully uneventful if I could get Maisie to sleep at take off and stay that way until landing.

Everything worked according to plan for the first three hours.   Then she woke up…small whimpers soon became intermediate cries which soon became bellowing wails.

Time for some quick action.

First I said, “Hope none of y’all were expecting to sleep tonight.  We’re from Texas.”  Then hightailed it to the back where we stayed an hour with the flight attendants in the back, ate thirteen cookies and got her calmed down.

We went back to the seat, and I cajoled her to the point where she was ready to go back into her seat.  So of course when I picked her up, I poked her in the eye.  And she started wailing again. And I got up from the seat with a “sorry Y’all, we’re from Texas” and headed for the back again.

TWO.

One of the toys at her Grandparents house is a musical desk (the East Coast Office they call it). This morning she was playing piano section of the “office.”  Seeing an opportunity I showed her how to use her feet to play the piano part of the desk. So now when I tell her to “Jerry Lee” something she knows that means to play it with her foot.   Like the little kid who wouldn’t share with her at the playground.   She Jerry Lee’d him real good.

Whole lot of hat wearin' goin' on

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One Year And Counting.

PLAYTIME OBSERVATION.

Child psychiatrists have hypothesized all kinds of theories on how the development of a child and what they do during their “playtime” is related to a deeper significance.  Freud said that everything a child does is part of a larger search for the satisfaction of libidinal desire, Erikson believed that each stage of development was focused on overcoming conflict, Bandura saw child’s play as a way to learn new behavior from observing other people, where as I tend to agree with Skinner’s theories in that during playtime when a child takes their toys out from where they are stored, throw them, and not put them away can be broken down into three key observations:

  • That the child takes their toys out from where they are stored
  • They throw them.
  • They do not put them away.

Proving B.F. Skinner's Third Theorem Of The Messius Infantus

BENCHMARK #455.

Maisie has now learned how to help out in the kitchen.  She helps her mom load the dishwasher by pulling everything out as it is loaded, and, like her toys, throwing everything she pulls out across the room.  Then she assists further by climbing up on the open door and jumping up and down.

Found guilty of dishwasher assault.

TWO THINGS HAPPENED TODAY.

  1. I realized my little baby is now a little girl
  2. I worked out at the club, went into the locker room, took off my socks and shoes and walked into the showers with my gym shorts and shirt on.

 

MAISIE’S BAPTISM .

Walking into St. John’s Catholic Church I kept waiting for alarms to go off and shouts of “Episcopalian in Hall.”  It didn’t happen.  Instead we were shuttled from the back of the church to the front of the church and given explicit instructions on what we were to do and say at the real baptism on Saturday night.

Unfortunately Maisie didn’t want to listen to what we were to do and say on Saturday Night and instead wanted to get on the ground to knock over some Jesus statues.  So in turn, I didn’t quite catch all the instructions.  Thus when Saturday night did finally I had a small problem remembering the script:

QUESTION:  Who gives this child for baptism?

MY ANSWER:  uhhhh, Jesus?

ANSWER I WAS SUPPOSED TO GIVE:  We do.

 

QUESTION:  What are you here for?

MY ANSWER:  Pancakes.

ANSWER I WAS SUPPOSED TO GIVE:  Baptism

Then I followed everyone around, lowered Maisie into the Baptism Tub (I also missed the part where you call it the Baptism Font), and watched as Maisie became officially baptized.

 

BANANAS + CASHEW BUTTER = ?

This morning Aimee, tried to feed Maisie some bananas topped with cashew butter.  When Aimee walked out of the room, I told Maisie it was bananas and poop.  She wouldn’t eat it.

 

SOMETHING I CONVENIENTLY FORGOT TO MENTION.

A couple months ago, I was changing Maisie’s diaper and lost the cap to the Desitin.  I searched the changing table, the floor, the bed, the crib…couldn’t find it.  So I figured it had gone to that place where lost socks and dollar bills go.

Until the next morning.

When I found it lodged between her butt and her diaper.

Sorry kiddo.

 

MAISIE, THE GREAT DESTRUCTO.

I feel sorry for the poor toys that end up here.  The songbook that came with the Sesame Street music player started out with 24 pages when if first arrived.  Now it has three.  The Noisy Farm book has lost its “What does the furry duck say? Quack Quack” flap.  So you just have a picture of two baby ducks with no explanation.  The Peek A Boo Zoo book has lost two of its most prominent Peek-A-Boo’s, one covering the panda, and the other covering a frog.  The Playskool Mail Carrier has various parts scattered about in three different rooms.  And ever since the hammer incident, the talking phone now starts jabbering away like its demon possessed.

“1, 2, 3 call a friend to elephant wants you to (ring, ring) where is the message for you (ring) 7, 3 goodbye.”

I don’t think she means to beat up on her toys, they just happen to be fragile, emotional creatures.

The toy police have been called.

 

SOME MORE PICTURES OF MAISIE FOR PEOPLE WHO ENJOY THAT SORT OF THING.

Waking up Titanic style in her bedroom

Wearing sideways tomato soup lipstick by Maybelline

Riding the Zebra all Dennis Hopper upside-down like

And shapeshifting as "Daddle."

 

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Happy Birthday, Maiso Potato

January 30, 2012

It is so hard to believe that Maisie is one year old today.  It seems like just last week we were bringing her home from the hospital…driving very slowly…and introducing her to all the people that would be an important part of her life.  I’ve watched her grow from basically a lump of baby needing to be fed every three hours to a real legitimate little person.  Stubborn, independent, prone to throwing cake at times and smiling at all hours of the day and night, unless a camera comes out, then you can’t buy a smile.  She has gone from 4-ounce bottles of formula six times a day to shoving as many peas as possible into her mouth (which, sooner or later, all end up rolling out of her mouth and onto the table and floor).  I was with her when her feet got wet for the first time in the ocean, and hugged her close every time she’s bumped her head on the floor/changing table/doorknob/refrigerator/ oven/end table/coffee table/toilet/sink/faucet/screen door/lawn/vase/toybox/hiking boot.  Her mom and I watched her eat her first banana and spit out her first yogurt, dance in front of the TV to Bruce Springsteen and Rush (yes, that Rush), and laugh as she opened her mouth wide for us to see her six teeth jutting out from her gums like a crazy insane neighbor’s picket fence.  Just lately, she’s started to wave goodbye the minute I get my coat from the closet, and sticks the correct leg out when I slip her pants on.  She likes to stand up and bang on her bedroom window naked after a bath (a habit that hopefully will cease before she’s sixteen), and she crawls like a hermit crab with one leg dragging behind her.  It’s been hard to pinpoint a first word, but it’s either “Momma,” “quack,” or “moo” (I’ve heard her say all three at the appropriate times, like when she’s raised her arms to her Mother, or when she’s opened her animal book to the duck page, or when we’ve brought the cow inside from the backyard).   Her favorite Grandparents are G-Pop and Noni, and Ma and Pa (I figure that’s who she’s gotta be waving at).  Her favorite uncles are Dan, Steve, Larry and Jerry (and Marty, Perry, Shane, Randy, and Disco Danny).  Her favorite aunts are Barbara, Bonnie, Erika and Jen (and Maureen, Sandra, Heidi, Annmarie, Bonnie, Cara, and Floyd) .  Her favorite parents are Aimee and Vandy.  And her favorite toy is whatever keeps her quiet for five minutes.   The day she showed up exactly one year ago (and that is almost to the minute) was the best day of my life, and every day since has been pretty decent as well.

So Happy Birthday today kiddo.  I love you, we all love you.  Even when you throw cake.

Not smiling again

 

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Miscellaneous Or What Has Been Happening The Last Three Months

THE MAISIE CRAWL

Maisie has developed a singular method of crawling.  It goes like this.

  1. From a sitting position, lean over and put one hand on the ground.
  2. Cross the left leg and place it under the buttocks.
  3. Bring the other leg around to the right.
  4. Scoot the butt over to the left.
  5. Roll over to the right side.
  6. Pull left leg around, leave right leg behind as if it didn’t work.
  7. Repeat

Yes, it is an unconventional way of crawling, but, like San Francisco Giants Pitcher Tim Lincecum, if it works don’t screw with it.    Plus she can scoot herself around in a complete 360 degree circle in seconds , and throw a two-seam fastball between 90 and 95 miles per hour.

Displaying the Maisie Crawl and the Look of Supreme Craziness

SOLID FOOD REPORT.

Maisie has been cleared to eat solid food by her pediatrician, so now she can load up on TV remotes, earplugs, wedding invitations and dirt.

BOOK REVIEW—BABY ANIMALS

With “Baby Animals” there is minimal effort to try to develop anything that even resembles a plot.  The story begins with a picture of a baby cat, and a narrative that simply states “Kitten.”  Things do get a little more interesting on the next page as we see the picture of a baby dog, and learn from the narrative that it is a “Puppy.”  The plot does finally take an interesting twist on the following page with the introduction of the baby cow, and the revelation that the baby cow is in fact the “Calf.”   But after that things just spiral downhill. No sooner after we learn of the existence of the calf, we’re off to the foal. Then the piglet, with no explanation of what happened to the foal.  Or for that matter the calf, puppy, kitten, lamb, owlet, fox cub or baby koala.  At the climax we are introduced to yet two more characters the “Rhinoceros and Calf” and “Giraffe and Calf,” then it just ends.

Doesn't live up to the hype

TRICK OR TRICK.  Halloween didn’t quite get off to the best of starts.  We arrived at Heidi and Shane’s annual Halloween Party with Maisie all toted out in her ladybug outfit.  Now as it happened, she was already not in the best of moods because this particular ladybug outfit made it look like a meteor had landed in her pants.  So we walk in the front door and she holds it together through Shane’s Scoutmaster costume and Heidi’s Cruella DeVil, but then completely loses it when little Colby comes running into the room with a sheet over his head.  This, followed shortly by a pirate, a Dalmatian, a witch, a lit-up Christmas tree, and a beheaded used car salesman sent her completely over the edge.

After taking her outside so she could loudly alert the neighborhood that there were midget pirates and ghosts about, she did finally calm down when we removed the giant meteor from her back end.  Maisie then spent a very enjoyable evening with the women as they sat in the living room and talked about raising children while the men retired to the garage and farted.

Father and Daughter, AKA Ladybug and Gossip Girl

HALLOWEEN STORY.  Wanting to relate the story of the Ghost of Sleepy Hollow to Maisie, but not quite remembering how the story actually went, here was my version of Washington Irving’s Classic.

Once upon a time, there was a cemetery in a dark and foreboding land known as Mount Pleasant. The cemetery was filled with all kinds of tombstones, some old and broken and crooked, others old and broken and crooked.  Under these tombstones were many, many bodies, some of them Revolutionary War Soldiers, others belonging to actors and actresses, and still others founders of the Chrysler Corporation and devisors of the Bliss Library Classification System.   One day, several of the Revolutionary War Soldiers complained of their eternal resting situations, making the observation that the largest gravesites and monuments usually only housed one or two rich people, while they were all jammed together like so many sardines.  So after yet one more town meeting, it was decided that headless Major Franck (who had been decapitated by a cannonball in the battle of Saratoga) would lead them in open revolt.  It was then agreed October 31 would be the day of the charge, and they would all rise from their sardine graves at exactly 12 midnight.   And so All Hallows Eve finally arrived, the clock struck twelve and headless Major Franck and horse galloped out of the grave towards the more moneyed side of the cemetery.  He rode hard and firm with great purpose and intent, and was halfway to the monuments when he noticed he was the only one charging.  So he stopped in his tracks, yelled “Where are my men?  For what purpose have they deserted me?” and turned his horse around right into the path of one Ichabod Crane who happened to be in the cemetery drinking a 32 ounce-can of Budweiser.  Crane saw the headless horseman, dropped his jaw and tossed the King Of King Of Beers away and began to run.  He ran and ran and ran and ran.  Unfortunately he ran directly toward the grave of Major Franck’s, in which direction Major Franck was heading (or not heading since he was headless, right).   The chase continued across the cemetery until Franck made it back to his headstone, dived in and immediately rounded the men up for an all-out tongue-lashing.  It was then that Major Franck discovered that it was not only Halloween that evening, but also the end of Daylight Savings Time, and his men had all remembered to set their clocks an hour clocks back while Major Franck was once again done in by his lack of head.  As for Ichabod Crane, he was last seen somewhere around Pasaic looking crazed and troubled.

 

Maisie at the actual Sleepy Hollow, commenting on how "the next time you tell me the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, Dad, at least read the actual story."

VOCABULARY.  Maisie’s seems to be expanding on a daily basis.  In volume.

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A CRYING FIT .  Maisie woke up in an all-out crying fit about 1:30 last night.  The worst thing about these fits (which don’t happen all that often, thank God) is it’s really hard to figure out what’s causing them.  So you have to kind of go down a mental checklist until you figure out where the problem is.  Like, is it a dirty diaper?  Does she have diaper rash?  Did she have a bad dream about pirates, ghosts or lit-up Christmas trees?  Is there a tooth coming in?  Is she sick?  Is she crying because she knows it will get her parents out of bed?  Then you run down a list of remedies…a walk around the room, a cube of ice, a clean diaper, a warm bottle, a cold washcloth, etc.   Or if it’s 1:30 in the morning, give her a shot of baby aspirin and put her in Mommy and Daddy’s bed so you can get some sleep.

THE LAST COUPLE MONTHS IN PICTURES SINCE I’M TOO LAZY TO WRITE.

 

Playing with her favorite toy, a can of Heinz Spotted Dick.

Showing off her ability to get food just about everywhere but in her mouth

What typically happens after she gets food everywhere but in her mouth

And later, payback for what typically happens after she gets food everywhere but in her mouth via the TV remote.

THANKSGIVING REPORT.   We had turkey, cornbread stuffing, greens with bacon and pine nuts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, popovers, and pie.  All of which Maisie seemed to enjoy immensely.

Maisie licking plate

CHRISTMAS.  We had three Christmases.  One here in Seattle with just us three, one in Florida with Aimee’s family and one in California with mine.  Over the course of the three Christmases, Maisie mastered the fine art of opening presents.  Beginning in early December as a novice, she would only make what amounted to a perfunctory half-hearted stab at the bow and ribbon.  But in late December, she would tear open anything that was close no matter if it was hers, her parents, her grandparents, her aunts, the package set aside for Toys For Tots, etc.    She did make a fine haul though…everything from the Zebra Scooter Thing That Talks to a pair of pink maracas.

Taking it all out on the poor green elf

ST. NICHOLAS 2012.  I did modify the Santa story a bit, telling Maisie on Christmas Eve that Santa leaves presents for all the little children in the world, except the bad ones.  If you’re bad, he wraps you up, hauls you back up the chimney to his sleigh and drops you off in Edmonton on his way back to the North Pole.  We’ll see if she remembers that.

ON THE WAY HOME.  On the way back to Seattle from Central California, we drove along the coast, taking in one beautiful  cliffside drop into the abyss after another.  The road follows the contours of the coastal ravines, hanging on to the side of the mountains like discarded crime scene tape.  And you can truly feel the energies of creation at work, gouging, digging, scouring one thousand feet below at the foot of the cliffs.  Waves hit the rocks dead-on sending white foaming shrouds of water and mist into the air.  And the sound…thunderous, crashing, monotheistic…would certainly be very nice if it wasn’t interrupted every 15 seconds by…

“Elephant left you a message, he wants to play.”

or

“Circles, they’re round, round, round.”

See, every toy made in America now talks.  And when you load every toy made in America into the back of the family utility wagon, they talk every time you hit a bump in the road.  And there are many bumps on California Highway One between California and Washington.  Like the one two miles outside of Big Sur when you’re just about to melt into the scenery.

“Let’s meet the hippo in the river.”

Or you’re about to discover the balance between nature and science.

“Red Yellow Blue Orange.  I like orange.”

Or you’re one thought away from the meaning of life.

“1, 2, 3, call a friend to play.”

 

A SHORT COURSE IN CHILDREN’S BOOK SPEED READING .

All kids love to be read to.  But sometimes you’re forced to read the same children’s story over and over, like, say, sixty times in five minutes.  When this happens, it’s OK to cut a few corners by the sixtieth read.  Take for example, the story of the Animal Noises:

First Time

“What does the Fuzzy Duck say?  Quack Quack.”

“What does the Wooly Lamb say?  Baa.”

“What does the Brown Cow say?  Moo.”

“What does the Pink Piggy say?  Oink Oink.”

“What does the Billy Goat say?  Maa.”

“What does the Red Rooster say?  Cock A Doodle Doo.”

Twenty-Seventh Time

“Fuzzy Duck says…Quack.”

“Wooly Lamb says…Baa.”

“Brown Cow says…Moo.”

“Pink Piggy says…Oink.”

“Billy Goat says…Maa.”

“Red Rooster says…Cock A Doo.”

Sixtieth Time

“Duck–Quack.”

“Lamb–Baa.”

“Cow–Moo.”

“Pig–Oink.”

“Goat–Maa.”

“Rooster–Cock.”

If reading continues into the hundreds, it is possible to condense it even further:

“Duack, Lamaa, Cmoo, Poink, Goma, Roock.”

But this should be undertaken only in extreme circumstances.

 

AND FINALLY, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY.

"West VIrginia Maisie" wrapping up 2011 in fine fashion

HOLIDAY AFTERMATH.  Maisie left a trail of food on the floor of every restaurant from California to Washington.  She is very sly about this.  Whenever the waiter or waitress is around she smiles, acts cute, feigns innocence.  But the minute the wait staff leaves, Maisie’s lower lip tightens and within ten seconds everything on her tray is on the floor.   So this means that whenever the waiter or waitress comes around to check on us, we have to divert their attention from all the Cheerios, French fries, carrots, prunes, baby food, napkins, forks, bibs piling up under the high chair.   We do this until the bill comes, then we pay it with cash, run out of the restaurant, get in the car and haul ass burning rubber out of the parking lot.

Fleeing the Cavalier Oceanfront Restaurant

Have to give her credit though, Maisie is a better traveler than most adults. Strap her in the car seat, turn on the ignition and she’s quiet for hours.  Not quite sure what she does back there, but as long as it doesn’t involve throwing luggage out the back, I’m OK with it.

BABY WATER BOTTLE PHYSICS.  If you stop at Mo’s in Florence Oregon and put an eleven month old in a baby seat, then put a baby bottle next to the eleven-month old, the eleven month old will fling the bottle across your table, under a neighboring table and hit the person sitting at that neighboring table in the foot.

MAISIE VS. THE TV TRAY.

Maisie got into an altercation with a TV tray today.

The TV tray won.

She was creeping along the wall– making her usual rounds of the living room when the TV tray got in her way (as TV trays have been known to do).  This time around though, Maisie decided it was time to test the TV tray.  She inched across, grabbed it by the side and wrestled it to the ground.  TV tray, being a little nimbler, pulled out an old wrestling move and did a flip slam mambo reverse pinning Maisie to the floor.  Separating the two, I sat her on one side of the room and the TV tray on the other.  But the damage had already been done. While the TV tray just sat against the wall innocently, Maisie just gave it the death stare.

Maisie following the TV Tray altercation, "No Comment."

SNOW DAY.  Whenever Seattle gets more than an inch of snow it goes into lockdown mode.  So when a storm dumps eight inches in one day, Snow Day For The Entire Population Of Seattle Day!   At our house there was even enough snow to cover up the butt-showing gnome in the back yard,  so it seemed the right time to take Maisie out to get her first taste of the white stuff.

She kind of liked it.  Kind of.  At least liked it enough to not cry in the first three minutes.

But she definitely didn’t like it when placed in snow angel position.  And come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t like it either if I was one year old, and my parents threw me on my back in cold and snow and waved my arms up and down.  “They’ve lost their minds,” I can hear her say, “they’re becoming hippies.”  Anyway, within ten minutes Maisie was back in the house and in a dry change of clothes staring at the TV tray.

Maisie showing exactly how much she loves snow.

11.75 MONTH FOOD REPORT.   Here is what Maisie ate on January 20…

  • oatmeal with apple and cinnamon
  • chopped up bananas
  • bottle of formula
  • whatever came in the mail that day
  • 15-20 cherries
  • dirt
  • bugs
  • buttons off the remote control
  • guacamole
  • water

NEW FOOD ITEM.  Last night Maisie expanded her palate once again.  This time to include dice from the Trivial Pursuit Board Game, 80s Edition.  In other words, just when you thought you had baby proofed everything including everything, Maisie finds something that slipped through the cracks.  Although it would probably help if we were paying less attention to Celebrity Wife Swap and more attention to her when she’s rummaging through stuff.  Oh well.

AND ON A RELATED NOTE…HOW TO BABYPROOF A ROOM.  Pull everything out of the room and put it on the roof.

 

 

 

 

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