Tuesday, October 30, 2012

FFFA: Birthday pumpkins

This is terribly old news, but I had a birthday earlier this month, and yes, whatever, they come around every year. I'm just not one to get too fussed about grown-ups' birthdays. (Apologies to all of you about whom I have made an inadequate fuss.)

I do, however, ascribe to the notion that within one's nuclear family or whatever other unit of intimate relations one is accustomed to, the birthday haver should enjoy a day of treats and getting to choose activities and that sort of thing. So, it's not that I believe in ignoring birthdays. Just not throwing an effing parade, okay? [Sidenote: Jasper hates to choose, so on his birthday, I also choose. But I try to choose from a Jasperish perspective.]

Anyway, that was actually not foreshadowing. DUMDUMDUM... (no.)

For my birthday, I decided that I wanted to take one Baby Grady for his inaugural visit to a pumpkin patch. Because babies in pumpkin patches? They are a THING, you guys. If you do not photograph your baby with a pumpkin (and preferably post it to Facebook) at some point within the fall season, it is possible that CPS will make a note. They most likely won't show up or anything. I mean, overkill much? It's just pumpkins. But, it'll put you on notice.

After a brief flurry of research I discovered that the annual Harvest Festival was taking place at Ardenwood Historical Farm nearby. So off we went. [Sidenote: I am almost certain that Jasper thought this was a really, really dumb idea, but he never spoke a peep of such sentiments. Because it was my birthday and I get to choose and there are RULES about these things.]

It turns out it was a somewhat dumb idea. I was annoyed that it was so warm and didn't feel properly autumnal. But what can you do... that's October for you. Baby Grady did not understand pumpkins, I'll be honest. And he definitely did not understand why we would take him someplace with such wonderful clods of dirt and then try to prevent him from eating them. But we got pictures! Baby among the pumpkins!

Okay, a pumpkin.

Okay, all the pumpkins.

Yay, dirt.

Seriously, what the hell, you guys?
After a little while, the baby went rogue and decided he wanted to steal that wagon.

Once we felt we'd done all the pumpkining required, we entered the actual farm. The grounds were really lovely and there were various activities, but most of the "things to do" had long lines and crowds. Except for this beautiful lawn. So Grady worked this lawn hard. At one point, he was referred to by a passerby as "a photographer's dream." Indeed.


See you guys, I'm out.

This lawn really saved the day, Milk Lady.
And then we went and had burgers. As we do.

Monday, October 29, 2012

That rare beast, a family portrait

Ten months after the first family portrait (taken with the autopilot mode with the camera propped on top of Jasper's car), my colleague snapped another one of us. It's silly and dorky, but there you go.

And just for reference, here's the last one:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eleven Months

This month, Baby Grady's picture with Bruce de Bruce is a bit unconventional. Because, when I tried to take one in the regular pose, this happened:

It seems that every few days lately someone expresses awe that this little boy I'm hanging out with is the baby I used to have. Like, wait, that's the same person? And I feel puzzled, because obviously I did not trade him in. And he actually doesn't seem that big to me anymore. Like, he hasn't grown that much in the last 4-5 months, so what once was gigantic now just seems... a bit above average? But most people think he is a hulk.

A recent conversation at the market:

Cashier: Is that your little boy??!!???!!! (gesturing toward stroller)
Me: Yes...?
Cashier: But he's so big!!!
Me: Oh, yes, I guess so.
Cashier: But that was so fast!!!
Me: Um, yes, I suppose. Well... have a nice day!

Yeah, talking about how astoundingly big my baby is always ends up rather awkward. I always fumble over the facts, like, wanting to offer up his percentiles so that we can really discuss, in real terms, whether he is an enormous baby and if so, how enormous. But that is completely not what people are after and they really just want to talk generally about my giant baby. So I let them. In addition to looking big, he looks more and more like a little boy. It's exciting to see him being a little person, but also rather heartbreaking. Stop, time, just STOPIT.

He's a chatterbox these days, though still nothing that means a thing to us. He enjoys holding forth, however, and it's clear that he has a lot to say and we typically agree with him. He is terribly convincing in most matters. Somehow even without any words, he's become quite social. He loves bigger kids and seems to make friends easily. They all love him too and find him fascinating. The other day, a little boy invited Grady to the Halloween party at his school. He gave Jasper the directions and assured him that if they came to the party, he and his friends would take care of Grady and Jasper could just hang. It's a pretty appealing offer, I'm not gonna lie.

How much Baby Grady weighs: 23 lbs. (Yes, a shrinking month. Jasper finds this somewhat alarming, though I actually don't. Hopefully I'm right.)
How tall Baby Grady is: I have no idea. When we tried to get a measurement, he would only jump or sit, but not stand.

Size of Baby Grady's clothes: 12 month, 12-18 month, 18 month

Size of Baby Grady's shoes: 12-18 month or 5, but they are a bit big

Baby Grady's hair color: blond

Baby Grady's eye color: pretty darn brown
Number of teeth in Baby Grady's mouth: 8

Baby Grady's favorites: the pub, slides, cream cheese, grilled cheese, any cheese, pizza (with cheese), green soup, peanut sauce, his dogs, "What I Am," "Call Me Maybe," his water table, bathtime, drinking water, strawberry ice cream, trying to eat sand

Baby Grady's least favorites: going to sleep, sleeping without a boob in his mouth, sometimes his stroller, the vacuum, the hair dryer

Number of first birthday parties currently being planned around this house: just the one

Number of Halloween costumes currently in some state of crafty half-doneness: 2-3, depending on whether you believe Jasper that he is not participating

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Little bruiser

On Tuesday, Baby Grady sustained his first visible injury. A fat lip, as seen above. It happened at daycare and there was an incident report and everything. They felt bad for him; apparently he'd been having a lovely day until his face met the floor. But they didn't feel guilty about it, and I likely would have. Like, I felt really guilty that time I whacked him in the head with a broomstick when he was a newborn. I probably never mentioned it, out of shame. Jasper was so relieved that I accidentally maimed the baby first. And he was fine, of course. Anyway, now that he's mobile, he takes responsibility for doing bodily harm to his baby all by himself. I try to keep him generally safe, but he also has to learn to handle his own balance and such and so there is the occasional hard fall. Such events are inevitable when you approach the world as Baby Grady does (face first and with no regard for personal safety).

As is obvious, he's not terribly fussed about the ordeal. He's a bit of a tough guy, as it turns out. I mean, he's still a bit shy in noisy or crowded environments, and the vacuum terrifies him, and sometimes he finds that a boob in his mouth is really critical to restoring his confidence. But with physical bumps and topples, I am regularly confounded by the things he bounces back from without even a whimper.

Monday, October 15, 2012

UFFA: Accidental fun on a random Saturday

A few weeks ago, I said to Grady's daddy, "I am taking the baby for a hike in the morning, and then I am going to the Babies R Us to buy a lightweight stroller for Monterey. You can come if you want, but you don't have to."

And thus an unforced family funtime adventure was born. Because of course Jasper wanted to come with us. With an agenda like that and company like us, wouldn't you? Jasper then made the clever addition of a playground to our schedule and the day was already well on its way to being great. As it turns out, we can have successful days, even if I am not bossy. I mean, it happened once.

For the hike, we did my most familiar old running loop -- an easy four-miler through Redwood Park that my friend Diana refers to as "ladies hike." I used to run that loop almost every morning with Reese and Puppet, until it started to feel a bit short and then I started adapting it. But it was always the fall-back, the standard, the short-on-time course.

Then we hit a nearby playground, where an adult exercise class was taking place while the children ran wild. Rather clever, we thought. Grady is really getting a kick out of playgrounds these days. They all seem to have stairs now instead of ladders, and he loves climbing up to the top:

He also took a liking to yet another two-year-old girl, but I don't have a picture, because I was too busy getting him off of her. See, his affections were expressed as, "Imma gonna grab your hair and taste your face!!!!!" She was astoundingly patient as we disentangled him from her gorgeous black curls.

After we bought our new mini-stroller (we have a great jogging stroller, but it takes up the entire back of the car, and we were going on a road trip with dogs, luggage, and baby) (there really isn't a story to the stroller shopping part) (we got a purple one), Jasper decreed that it was time for lunch, which was really just so smart of him. We tried to go to Rudy's, but boy was it crowded. I pondered briefly and came up with Barney's, not even realizing that they have this ridiculously lovely patio in the back. Grady had a delightful time, and gave me some faces that were not 100% hambone:

This one is cute, because they were identically distracted:

And, dang, I just have to say it. My baby is ridiculously cute in green.

Monday, October 8, 2012

End of an era

For the past eight years or so, all of the "Carrier kids" -- meaning, me and my two brothers -- have lived within a few hours' drive of the Bay Area. For more than half that time, we've all been in the Bay Area proper. We've spent nearly every Thanksgiving together (last year was an exception), many Christmases, and lots of kids' birthdays. Having family nearby became natural and obvious and I took it for granted entirely. I think we all did. It's funny (peculiar) how far away an hour feels when you're all so busy.

Well, yesterday we hit up what was presumably our last family party at the park in Portola Valley. My older brother Gregg, his wife Carey, and their kids Charlie and Toby are moving to San Diego later this month. I think they're going to love it there, but I'm selfishly bummed that we won't have them so close, that our kids won't grow up seeing their cousins many times a year.

Charlie and Grady:

Grady had a blast crawling in and out of these tunnels with his cousins. I thought he would be too cautious to go all the way through, but it only took him a few minutes to get up his nerve and then he was zipping around chasing everyone:

As if that weren't enough, I learned just today that my little brother is moving to Hawai`i next month! He hadn't mentioned a thing about it, because he is elusive and a mystery. I may never see him again, is what I'm realizing. I mean, I probably will, but it could be years!

Grady loved watching Uncle Chris play his uke today. It made him concentrate super-hard:

He also enjoyed being a giant hambone for him:

Grady also partook in general party things, like the sandbox:

And a strawberry:

We didn't take enough pictures, and we didn't get a group shot, which was really silly. Next time. We're gonna miss you guys like crazy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

With Dad #11

The other day, Grady decided to help Jasper fold his laundry. Apparently they share the same technique. It's very fast.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

FFFA: Oakland Zoo

Last weekend we took Baby Grady to the zoo for the first time. We live, like, ridiculously close to the zoo. I'm not even kidding, if a tiger got loose, they would definitely have to look for him in our neighborhood. But even though the zoo is super ridiculously close, we hadn't bothered to go yet because we didn't really think Grady would be into it yet. And you know what? He really isn't! I mean, he was fine with it. We went early to beat the crowds and he found it to be a perfectly pleasant walk. But the exotic animals? Not really impressing Baby Grady.

The first animals we saw were tigers. There was one walking around too, but she went behind a bush.

This is what Baby Grady thought of tigers:

"I have never been so bored in my entire life."

Then we saw giraffes, which are just the most delightfully goofy, part-alien critters ever, don't you think? They look like cartoon characters. Baby Grady was really taken with the ducks that hung out in the water in the giraffe enclosure. Strangely, I heard a much larger child shrieking with excitement about the ducks. I mean... okay.

"M R DUCKS!!!"

This is what Grady thought of the meerkats:

"I refuse to even look in the direction of that most boring of all creatures."

But the zoo did have some features that enchanted Baby Grady. Notably, Daddy's shoulders were at the zoo!

"I'm the tallest baby in the world!"

And also, his stroller!

"Strollers are even better when you are not in them!"

And a very intriguing rope spider-web for climbing upon.

"That big-kid keeps saying he is a spider. I'm a baby and even I can
clearly see he is not a spider. I wish he would get off my web."

And finally, Grady's hat was at the zoo, and that thing is a riot.

"I am definitely not at all interested in the monkey
swinging from branch to branch over my head."

We'll be back, zoo.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


We have this fireroad that climbs up into the hills behind our neighborhood. It just heads out from the end of one of our neighborhood streets, climbs up to the ridge, and then drops down onto another street. It's the sort of thing I never would have imagined existed before I moved to California.

Until the past week, I don't think I'd hiked it since Baby Grady was born. Maybe once? I know I'd gone partway up a few times, and once when I'd been planning to go all the way, a smaller Baby Grady decided to scream and scream and so I turned around and went home. (Story of my life in those days.) Anyway, I'd convinced myself that not only would it be really, really hard (it's crazy, crazy steep), but also that it wouldn't be safe. It's so steep in one section that it's slippery. But Jasper recently started hiking the loop with Grady on a pretty regular basis and then I felt inferior and wimpy and so I had to start doing it too. Because I am competitive like that.

It is really, really hard, just as it always has been. It just blasts right up into the hills with almost no switchbacks at all. But that means that after about 20 minutes of hard hiking, you are rewarded with this:

Lake Chabot is peeking through the trees.

In real life, you can see the Bay Bridge, a smidgen of the Golden Gate, and San Francisco.

And best of all, this:

And it turns out the footing really isn't as dicey as I remembered. So now my only excuse is that it's really, really hard. I'm not above using that one sometimes.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ten Months

Last Monday, Baby Grady hit the big 1-0, double digits. And that sounds terribly close to a year and the thought of being the mother of a one-year-old just floors me to my toes. I still don't have a clue what I'm doing! How have I been at this for ten months already? Who gave me this baby and just let me waltz off with him with no training* whatsoever? It's crazy, you guys.

Oh, and at the park yesterday? An adorable two-year-old little girl (with whom Grady was quite taken, it's true) pointed at me and said "a mommy!" Like it's really obvious or something.

Also at the park yesterday, we met another ten-month-old (little sister to the observant two-year-old), and it was fun because she and Grady were pretty much equal in development. Both standing while holding something, able to walk with assistance, interactive (but not talking). But omigosh, Baby Grady was so much more... aggressive? He wasn't unkind, of course. I just mean that his approach to the world was so much more grabby, loud, explorative, helloiambabygradyletsbefriends. The other baby sat and played with rocks while he tried to steal her stroller, is what I'm saying. And also her shoes (that were on her feet). And her hair-bow (yep, in her hair). It really made me wish I could be a fly on the wall at daycare and see how he is with his friends there. I talk to him A LOT about gentle touches, and he just thinks I'm a riot with that nonsense. So we do a lot of redirecting. I think that's going to be the story of my life for the next several years.

But as my cousin's husband says: "It's better to have the child you have to rein in than the one you have to work to inspire." And I think that's true. Now that Grady is on the move, we never have to work to entertain him or to find an activity for him; it's just constant scrambling to keep him out of trouble. He is so very hard-working. Yesterday he loaded the dogs' water bowl into his (empty) water table and dragged the whole thing around the patio for a while. No reason. Just for the sake of industry, I reckon. (He gets that from his father.)

His favorite new(ish) trick is clapping. He doesn't really do it with meaning, but rather just because it's neat and then others clap and cheer for him. So, I mean, you'd probably clap too if people responded like that. He's also started waving. It's unclear to me whether he knows that it has meaning. Again, he might be doing it just because it always elicits such a positive response. Adorable baby waving! YAY!!!

Amusingly, Grady is particularly into his books lately. He pulls them all down off the shelves and then sits and thoughtfully flips through them. He doesn't really care to be read to (and will steal the book from you if you try), but finds his books oddly intriguing.

How much Baby Grady weighs: 23 lbs. 3 oz.
How tall Baby Grady is: 30 inches

Size of Baby Grady's clothes: 12 month, 12-18 month, 18 month
Size of Baby Grady's shoes: 6-12 month, I think... a 4 maybe? (we just have the one pair that fit, and he's just started wearing them to the park, because he likes to stand over there and it's a bit pebbley.)

Baby Grady's hair color: blond
Baby Grady's eye color: pretty darn brown

Number of teeth in Baby Grady's mouth: 8

Baby Grady's favorites: the pub (any pub, as far as I can tell), our neighborhood Starbucks (where everybody knows his name), Zocalo (the coffee house with the great play space), cream-cheese sandwiches, his dogs, "What I Am", his water table (which I purchased at a yard sale for $3, astounding and annoying Jasper, who does not like things, except that clearly I won that one), this soup I made (cranberry bean, sweet potato, leek, and rainbow chard)
Baby Grady's least favorites: street fairs, diaper changes (yes, still, and it is ridiculous), going to sleep, sometimes his stroller, the vacuum

*Actually, that's quite the hyperbole. Long-time readers will recall that we took classes. Lots of them.