Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wrapping Paper! And there's a toy in it, too!

It has been observed a million times that small children care more about the wrapping paper and boxes than they do the presents. And it's true, Audrey did spend more time with the packaging than anything else, but she also loved the books, puzzles, music, and particularly the baby doll-- although she expressed her excitement by first kissing it and then biting it on the face, so we'll have to talk to her about that. Poor face-bitten baby is all packed up and ready to travel with us to Oklahoma in the morning, where the rest of Scott's clan is gathering.

Happy Holidays! Here's hoping that the flight crew and everybody on the plane has made it their new year's resolution to be more patient and forgiving, and will practice on us weary travelers with toddlers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Audrey and Brady at the Children's Museum

What could possibly be more fun that a room full of shredded paper?! The Boston Children's Museum has some absolutely genius exhibits for the 0-3 set. Audrey and I, accompanied by our friends Heather and Brady (same age as Audrey), had a great morning here. They ran, they squealed, they splashed, they played with trains and toy shopping carts and doorbells and confetti. In her enthusiasm Audrey mowed down some other kids with her cart, so I had to stay close and apologize to other parents and sweep crawling babies out of her way. Brady was so happy he spontaneously hugged another little kid he'd just met. It was pure joy. Audrey fell asleep exhausted on the way home.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

...a new kitchen garbage can with baby-proof, pedal-operated lid that won't close too hard on small fingers! Joy to the world!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Take a memo, Miss Honeybee!

She found a pen and pad of paper today, and sat down and made frantic scribbling motions with the (capped, thank heavens) pen.

You know what's weird about living with a small child? It's not just that she goes everywhere I go (I am seldom alone anymore except in the shower, and she's been known to bust in on me there as well). It's that she's always doing these little imitations of me. Writing. Talking on the phone. Dancing. Of course, a lot of this we encourage, but it's those moments when she copies some very minuscule gesture, like waving in a certain way, that I feel sort of... spied upon. It's an excellent reminder that I must really pay attention to the way I behave, because she's watching. And learning. And taking notes for her stand-up routine, "Mother-- The First Year."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Audrey reads me the riot act

This is Audrey scolding me for a recent offense; my rap sheet includes such outrages as offering cheerios when cheese was requested, preventing her from flushing her clothes down the toilet, and not letting her kiss her own image on the camera. Her disciplinary action is prompt, consistent and uncannily familiar, right down to the slow pronunciation of the "Noooooooooo!" and the finger wagging.

She also follows a program of positive reinforcements with lots of kisses and friendly pats on the cheek.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hat Phone Dog

We begin our film festival with this short about a hat, a cell phone, and a stuffed dog.

I think you'll agree that it's worth the seconds you'll spend waiting for "buffering."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dinner for three of four corners

We had a lovely dinner tonight at our neighbors' home across the street. Since we live at an intersection this was billed as the "four corners dinner" and we had three of four corners represented. Great food, great company, and Audrey didn't break anything!

Going into someone else's home now is such a different experience. If I could wish for a superpower, I think it would be the ability to spontaneously turn my body into a baby gate, so I could block the way to such tempting items as that Christmas tree in the background. Lynda thoughtfully-- and wisely-- put her sturdiest ornaments on the bottom.

What will I call my new super-hero persona? And can I also have the ability to lock toilet lids from across the room, empty cabinets of all "sharps" just by looking at them, and create an anti-gravity field around her highchair? Please don't comment merely to tell me that my superpower choice is totally pathetic. Our lives are what they are, and right now, my life is often about keeping Audrey from playing in the toilet bowl.

Did I just hear a splash?

Monday, December 1, 2008

At the aquarium

Audrey and Bethiah watch sea creatures in the big tank at the Boston Aquarium. I should have turned off the flash in the photo of the two girls together, but you can still see one big, bright, scaly fish going by... Audrey was unimpressed by the sharks and the giant sea turtles, but the penguins and also the kids play area (a bunch of plastic blocks, but right next to the big tank) were big hits.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm "working on my paper" right this very moment!

Janna captured the most elusive of smiles here; it's the "I'm posing because you are holding that flashing thing in my face again" squinty smile. Can't you just see her using this same smile in a job interview, right after they ask her what her five year plan is?

Spooky soulful Chickpea

Reading Thanksgiving card from Gramma Jean. Glitter remains on her face hours later.

If Scott walks into the room while I am editing this post, I will claim to be writing my paper as I insisted earlier I really had to do this evening, and then he will check the blog from his super-powered computer phone, and my cover will be blown. I would make a terrible undercover agent.

Da-Yah, we miss you

If you input the words "Auntie Janna" into that magical mix-master language cuisinart of the Chickpea baby brain, the output you get is "Da-Yah." As in, "Want to go see if Auntie Janna is awake?" Reply: "Yeah! Da-Yah!"

Other charming tricks she picked up during the week of Da-Yah's visit were throwing her arms up over her head in response to "Hooray!" and playing Peekaboo by covering her eyes and looking around wildly, then revealing herself in triumph.

Scott also believes she said something approximating "Thank you" when he handed her a cracker tonight, but I think I'll have to hear that one myself before I can vouch for its authenticity.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Thanksgiving table, before we ate it all.

Difficult to get nine people (well, eight and a half pint) into the frame of the photo, but Elaine did it, and I was glad she thought to take the picture at the beginning of our meal when everything was laid out in perfect order.

There was a tiny little bit of drama about the turkey, earlier in the day when it didn't thaw exactly as fast as the package directions indicated it would. After a little bit of screaming, hair pulling and moaning, Scott was able to calm me down, get the turkey breast into a turkey bag, and save the day. Nothing else went spectacularly wrong, except that Audrey didn't take a nap all day. She was so excited by all the guests that she actually behaved fine and went to bed on time. We all gave thanks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Janna, Kris and Audrey (in a dress, first time ever!)

Now that Audrey can walk she can wear dresses (which she almost never will, except for greeting house guests and black-tie dinners) and not get herself completely tangled in them.

Her sixth tooth appeared this morning, explaining why she's been gnawing on her fingers so hard for the past several days.

Happy Thanksgiving!

...from everyone at Hacienda Willcox.

The above is our short, cold trip to the playground yesterday with Audrey suited up like a cosmonaut against the cold. Janna is here for the week and Audrey appreciates having a fresh interpretation on Goodnight Moon, Olivia Counts, and other favorites. Little Pig Wake Up Service is a popular amenity at our inn.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy monkey

Our neighbor Jennie took this today down at the playground by the Rez. Her son Liam is three weeks older than Audrey. The kids can now actually play at the playground. Seems that Audrey is finally starting to outgrow the put-everything-in-your-mouth phase: no handfuls of sand or bark were consumed. She did eat apple peelings out of the kitchen garbage can the other day, while I was not paying close enough attention, but that's a food item so I'm not counting it.

My friend Elizabeth has told me that I am a "mommy blogger," a charge which I tried to dodge, and then I immediately logged on to blog about the experience and post more pictures of my kid.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Demon Child with Fig Leaf

We have a new editorial policy at Chickpea Central, now that she's a year old. We're going to artfully edit some of the more, shall we say, candid shots. Scott thinks this picture is kind of disturbing but I think it captures something of the particular moment we're in right now. She is fast, confident and thrilled with all the prospects for mischief.

Anyone seen my car keys?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Early Morning

I always think the best time to stop and take pictures is when we're already running late, the babysitter's about to arrive, and no one has showered, dressed or eaten breakfast. She was just so sweet running around in her P.J.'s and asking for stories that I spent my time taking pictures instead of putting together a smarter looking outfit for the day. And I am unrepentant.

Toilet Training is Easy!

Now that Audey has figured out how the flush mechanism works, it will be just a few short weeks until she has mastered the rest of the process. Right?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gramma Jean's Chickpea Fix

My mom says she needs more pictures, stat. Here you go, mom. I don't have any video clips short enough to upload today; when I try to upload longer clips, Chapman (my laptop) breaks out in hives.

Yeah, I called the help-desk for that diagnosis. Anyway, here are the pictures.

Cleaning out cupboards while Mom cooks. Makes that tries to cook. Is there a school of cooking where you prepare the food in 20-30 second bursts and then let the food "rest" while you pull your toddler out of the crisper bin?

Spats! Audrey got new shoes this week to fit her growing, walking feet. The other pair are chickens and even your tough, unsentimental correspondent thinks they are unbearably cute.

Trying on winter gear. We tried to go for a short hike in the Fells after I wrestled her into this, and she basically cried the entire time. A woman who was walking her dogs on the trail came up to see what was wrong-- said (kindly) that her dogs were very worried by the sounds of human wailing.

And a monkey hat.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pa Skip and Cousin It read books together

We've been saying for weeks that she needs a haircut, really got to get her a haircut, boy now we really really need to get her a haircut... She won't stand for any hair clips or headbands (she gets that from me, I never could stand tight socks). So what's the hold up on the haircut? Dunno. Laziness. We don't want to drive up to the mall to the kiddie hair-cut place. But today she was tipping her head back so she could see through the hair that falls down over her eyes, like a person wearing bi-focals trying to read a newspaper and I thought, all right-- this is starting to look like bad parenting. Mark my words: Audrey will have a haircut by the end of the week.

She had a grand time with her Pa Skip this week. They read all the books in the living room and she went from a few hesitant steps at a time to full-fledged walking. Scott calls her style "Frankenstein is off the table."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good habits at table

In this house it's not a question of whether you read at the table, it's a question of which board book will pare best with tonight's courses. We like a little Mother Goose with the amuse bouch followed by Seuss with soup.

Audrey with her pal Brady in Milton

This weekend we visited with friends Heather and Brian, and their son Brady. Great fall day for crawling in the leaves. Brady and Audrey are both learning to walk. Like drunken sailors.

Babies for Obama

Dad and Audrey kept each other entertained while I went to vote on Tuesday. We are still celebrating!!! You'll notice a small teddy bear in the pack with Audrey... that's Lemon Bear, so named because she recently squeezed some lemon slices all over him, giving him a fresh, citrusy scent.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin atop pumpkins

Had to add this one of Audrey with her friends Ruth and Bethiah on top of one huge pumpkin.

At Wilson Farm on a busy pre-Halloween Saturday. For our porch we picked one largish pumpkin to carve, and two small sugar pumpkins, which we will make some spicy pumpkin soup with, if we are industrious and get to it before the pumpkins start to get squidgy. I'd give that about a 10% chance.

Waiting on the front porch for trick-or-treaters

Audrey and Scott waited together for the early set of trick-or-treaters. Audrey did not actually eat that Milky Way bar, she just smashed it. Luckily, our neighbor was handing out boxes of raisins which we did let her have. Next year I can see my way to giving her a candy bar-- this year, I just wanted her to go to bed at the usual time.

Safety Bear is pleased to report that no one tripped on their costume this year and fell headlong down our steep front stairs, maiming themselves and driving up our homeowners insurance. But there's always next year! I may be installing a safety net.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In the leaves

One benefit of our unfortunate loss of the elm tree is that the maple foliage is now better displayed. It's a good year for fall colors out here! We're going to do some pumpkin carving tonight to get ready for our brisk business in trick-or-treaters tomorrow. Audrey's got her pumpkin costume and matching socks ready; very handy that the costume is, itself, a warm coat since it's been getting down into the freezing temps at night. Pumpkin will be nice and toasty-- and will be in bed before most of the tricker-treaters show up anyway.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Words, and a short history of Nell the parrot.

Along with the first steps, there are Audrey’s first words. She is all expressive intent this month, and it helps that her parents constantly—one might even say obsessively—encourage her communications. There is plenty of pointing and clapping, and a little bit of signing (“milk” and “more”). Her vocabulary is growing fastest in the Barnyard Animal sounds department, but there are also practical terms.

What does the [fill in animal] say?
  • Chicken: BOK!
  • Cow: Mmmmmmmmmmm
  • Dog: Ooof, ooof!
  • Lion: Blah! (with tongue out)
  • Snake: Ssssss (hard sound when you have only five widely spaced teeth)
  • Owl: Ooooooooooooooo.
Uh-oh: the original utterance is still a popular choice.
Cheese: pronounced “cheece,” also indicates keys and geese.
Audrey: pronounced "Audie" or "Ah-Dah"
Shoe: Djoo
Book: Boh
Diaper: Dia-Pah
Who’s that?: Hoe dah? (with palms upturned and eyebrows arched)

Now, about the parrot.

When Audrey is working hard to get my attention by using some of these words, I’m reminded of Nell, a neurotic but charming African grey parrot I once knew. Words seem to be much more about getting our attention than about specific meanings, which I think was how language mostly worked for Nell. (Human language anyway; who knows what she said to other parrots.) Audrey, like Nell, recognizes that her keepers do all kinds of entertaining tricks if she throws a word or two at us. For example, when Audrey wakes up from a nap I often hear her on the baby monitor saying “Uh-oh?...... Uh-oh?.....Uh-oh?”

Nell the parrot lived at the aviary in SLC where I hail from, and to get the attention of her favorite bird keeper (who was an acquaintance of mine) she would start performing portions of her bird show—like sneezing and coughing or making the sound of a ringing telephone. She particularly did this when she was stressed or excited, which was pretty near all the time. Nell was a minor celebrity at the aviary but, like many African greys, she was incredibly sensitive and had a lot of nervous breakdowns during which she lived at her keeper’s apartment so she could get herself back together. Audrey is much sturdier of constitution than poor Nell, but she seems to regard me—the resident bird keeper—in much the same way. I almost always show up when called, and I am especially alert to the command “Uh-oh!"

Audrey Aloft in August

This is one from the photo session we did back in the summer. Just thought you'd all enjoy this one today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

She walks! (after a fashion)

Tonight she actually walked straight across the living room from me to Scott. Most of the time it's just a few steps, then tip over. But she can stand independently for longer and longer stretches of time, and she seems determined-- and surprisingly patient-- with the walking.

As you can hear in the video, Scott has learned to say "keys" and "cheese" over and over again. It's really cute. Sometimes Audrey says it with him, but mostly it's just him. He's really precocious!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Walk in the leaves with pumpkin

The brochure says not to walk on the grass or sit on the tombstones, but we weren't being disrespectful. Were we?

We wanted to give Audrey's Halloween costume a try and take some pictures for the grandparents.

She tried to eat these leaves shortly after we took this picture.

Audrey doesn't so much give kisses as hold her face out to receive them. Still, cute.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"That's a wild baby. And she has boy hair."

...wise and honest commentary from four-year-old Oscar who was watching Audrey pull down a whole shelf of board books at his house. He is right, on both points. Her hair is growing straight down into her eyes right now and we aren't sure what to do about it. We'd like to just let it grow but she won't tolerate barrettes. Or rather, she loves barrettes-- as chewy snacks.

This hair-cut issue is such a loaded topic. I remember being mistaken for a boy when I was little because I had close-cropped "pixie" hair and much as I would like to be impervious to all of that gender nonsense now, I'm slightly annoyed to be told what a handsome boy Audrey is, just because she's wearing overalls. And people are so mortified if you answer a question like "What's his name?" by saying, "Actually her name is Audrey," like I'm going to be terribly offended by their mistake. From now on, I'm eliminating pronouns from my speech when I say anything at all about a baby. I'm just going to say, "Your child looks so happy. And you appear well-rested and neatly dressed. If there's any spit-up on your sweater, I certainly can't see it!"

That's all a new mother really wants to hear anyway, if I may speak for us all.