Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hickory Dickory

Another week, another...what? I don't know. The days seem so similar. I know that routine is good for toddlers, but man, it's kinda dull for me! Yeah, yeah, I know: "It's not about you anymore."

Yesterday Jarrah and I attended our first toddler "Let's Make Music!" class. Of course, we got behind schedule, got stuck behind an accident, and then I made a wrong turn. All the while, Jarrah was snoring in her car seat, and I dreaded waking her up when we finally got there. Sure enough, she seemed to find everyone in the room, especially me, certifiably insane. Why were all these ladies and babies clapping their hands and chanting in that unnecessary way?

But I get ahead of myself. When we walked in, they were just getting started, it being the first day and all. There were about eight moms and kids, one who seemed to be about Jarrah's age, the rest slightly older. It also looked like a Benetton ad in there--kids of every race, and I was not the only non-matching mother. Well, that was a relief anyway. The two nice teacher-ladies had us seated in a circle with babies on our laps, and I was just starting to relax when they started clapping their hands and knees and chanting "Mu-ther Goose, Mu-ther Goose..." and something in my head went "Bing!" That sound was the alarm bell that the part of parenthood where I feel like an ass in public has begun. I'm not sure why I felt so ridiculous, except maybe that Jarrah looked dumbfounded by this display as well, and I had to choke back the giggles.

Then I really had to laugh when we were instructed to pick up our child and dance around in a circle to a song called "The Ping-Pong Samba," complete with little kicks like Elaine Benes doing her "full-body dry heave." The reason it was so funny is that Jarrah was sleepy-head deadweight in my arms, and I was staggering, literally staggering, because motherhood has made me throw my back out--just on the left side--and I can barely tie my shoes, let alone samba. I was so stiff and so achey when I woke up yesterday that I consulted David to see if he thought I had one of those "I'm old now" back conditions like a "slipped disc" or a "fused vertebrae" or one of those other horrific-sounding ailments that I used to hear grownups talking about when I was young and supple. David, being Australian and, well, DAVID, waved away my spinal deformities, suggesting I had some muscle strain from always lifting a 26-pound-baby on the same side. I suppose he's right, but...harumph. I feel wrecked.

Anyway, back to the class. Jarrah could not be persuaded to bang on drums or shake maracas for ANYTHING, and part of my amusement was recognizing at this point how much of this has to do with her bleariness after being awakened. At home, she happily beats on her drum and bangs her xylophone, but dammit, now she was TIRED and these people were all up in her FACE. ;) Between that and my crippled inability to lift my own baby, Jarrah and I were the star under-performers of the morning.

Towards the end, she started becoming more alert, but that just meant she wanted to wander around and point out each picture on the wall with great urgency, as if there was a danger of my not noticing them. In general, she is a very emphatic pointer: when the mouse puppet joined us, she didn't want to pet it, but she was insistent on pointing and proclaiming "Deh!" about 87 times. I told David it always seems like she fears dire consequences for all of us should I be so frivolous as to ignore her warnings: an unidentified stuffed animal is in our midst! Let your guard down at your peril!

On the subject of feeling like an ass: none of the other moms seemed affected by it. They dutifully kicked and clapped and chanted and "wee wee wee'ed" like they were born to do it. Maybe it's the novelty of this kind of behavior that makes me self-conscious. Check back with me in a few weeks: I might be putting the mouse in the armpit "house" with the best of them.

Jarrah isn't saying any words in English yet, but I have noticed some changes in her activities in the past week. She has started waving to people a lot, and can be persuaded to wave "bye-bye" if you ask her like five times. Her wave looks like a clam shell opening and closing. She received a pinwheel at Anton's birthday party a couple weeks ago, and occasionally I see her when she doesn't know I'm looking attempting to imitate us blowing on it. The way she blows involves pursing her lips like a grouper and then emitting a whisper that sounds like "Pooh." Feel free to try this at home; it's pretty freakin' hilarious. ;)

At the park, she's over her fear of grass, sand and transitional edges (as in grass/blacktop, blacktop/sand, etc.) and gallivants everywhere, frequently pitching over and hauling herself up. On a more alarming note, she is fearless about stairs and ladders, and heaves herself to dizzying heights from which she thinks nothing of hurling herself back down. At the park yesterday, we had no fewer than THREE incidents where she fell head-first from a piece of equipment in a split second of my inattention, one of which was a full face-plant resulting in an exfoliating mask of sand granules evenly coating her features. I was scrubbing sand out of her hairline well into the evening. She also threw herself down the slide before I could grab her, and not quite grasping the part about sitting, fell right onto her head at the bottom. Seriously, how do children live past the age of two? And, a little less urgently, how do moms restrain themselves from very loud epithets of a profane nature each time an incident occurs? I'm starting to fear that Jarrah's first word would invoke the 5-second delay on network television.

Okay, here's my last question: will you write to me? A lot of people e-mail me and call me and say "I read your blog religiously!" and I am so pleased to hear that! So let me hear from you! I do have my faithful posters (you know who you are--smooches to all of you!) but I want to know who else is lurking in the blogosphere. David suggested I tempt everyone with something irresistible like "your name will be entered in a drawing for an autographed photo of Jarrah if you post." How about that?

If you feel shy about just introducing yourself, you can answer this pressing question:

What should I do with Jarrah between 4-6 p.m. when she won't take a second nap (believe me, I've tried tossing her in her crib) but she spends all of that time wailing either to be picked up or put down and is basically undistractable when I wish I could either make dinner or have two minutes of peace?

Oh, and don't be afraid of the window that asks you to re-type the letters in order to post. I promise you're not agreeing to donate one of your kidneys or anything like that. It's just a feature David installed so that I can't be spammed. Yes, even blogs get posts like "Your blog is awesome! Would you like to buy some steroids?" Nothing bad will happen to you and I can feel secure that my innermost thoughts don't get responses like "Cool blog--and your life will get even better once you're free from erectile dysfunction."

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Yoo Hoo!

Boy, do we have a lot of cute photos for you this time! Jarrah wore her first party dress yesterday! It was corduroy and had tiny cherries on it (it is starting to get disturbing when I look in her closet and there are rows and rows of cherry-themed garments) and she wore her first pair of tights! Of course, they were comically baggy around the ankles, but we cinched them in with a brand new pair of pink shoes. The occasion was our second kiddie birthday party--Isabella turned one! It was a bright sunny day at Overlook Park (which, true to its name, had a lovely view) and there were yummy roast beef sandwiches and potato salad and, most exciting of all (though I'm a mean mommy and didn't let Jarrah have any) cupcakes with perfect pink frosted roses for tops. I was transported directly to my Candyland dreams with one bite!

It was joyous to see all the babies playing together in their beautiful spring outfits, appreciating how far we've come in a year. However, it was not an adoption-friendly event, and Jarrah got a lot of stares. Yes, yes, many were simply agog at her beauty, but I fielded more than a welcome amount of interrogation, too. One older man asked me if the process was "difficult," to which I responded, "Well, it took 14 months, but it wasn't difficult. And there were no shots in my ass." A younger woman near him stared openly and issued the following non-sequitur: "A woman I know adopted from China. Her daughter is about five now. And very smart." Really, what is up with this "and very smart" thing? I get that a lot. People tell me how their friend of a friend adopted from China, and wrap up by weighing in on the child's intellect. Is this what they do when they talk about their friends' biological children? "We saw little Jimmy at the picnic last week. He's so smart. He threw a ball with great dexterity. His skipping is developmentally on track. And he says 235 words!" It irks me because I feel like it happens enough that people are trying to reassure me that, while we're unable to pass on David's creative genius and my bookishness, at least our daughter has a chance of not being a cretin.

Then another nice gentleman announced "Well, thank god there are people like you." This is another one that floors me. I ended up saying something stupid like "Thank god there are children like Jarrah," but that doesn't make any sense, does it? Am I suggesting that I want there to be MORE abandoned children than there already are? Uh, no. Am I suggesting she's "special" in some way? No (though really she is. :)) I have to come up with a better response. David suggested "You mean infertile people?" but that's often more than I want to share. Later, I thought of "Yes, I am quite the saint" or maybe "I really am amazing" but it begs the question of what will I do when people say this kind of thing in front of Jarrah when she understands? It really is very sad to contemplate. Should she then turn to me and supplicate herself in gratitude for my philanthropic largesse? I should hope not. It's totally misguided, anyway--if anyone is in doubt, I want you to know that David and I adopted Jarrah for the most selfish of reasons: we wanted a child of our own; we wanted to be parents. I think that at times people are so amazed that we're raising a child who doesn't look like us that they can't imagine that other essential part.

Okay, hopping down off the soap box: I get vertigo up there! The party was actually really fun; my spirit wasn't crushed or anything. Occasionally, though, I get frustrated that there hasn't been an end to my having to drop trou so strangers can diagnose my bits. Now it's just metaphorical instead of actual. I guess I better just get used to it--after all, it's what I signed up for.

I had a nice afternoon, too. David hung out with Jarrah while I went to buy new sneakers and get my toes done. I never got the sneakers; I saw the rows and rows of white shoes with the cards indicating their different purposes, realized I had forgotten socks, and almost slipped into a coma. I decided that coffee and a magazine were more my speed. Also, when did the world get so crowded, with so few parking spaces? When I started going to the mall on Saturday afternoons instead of Wednesday mornings, that's when. The pedicure was near-bliss. I set myself up with a trashy mag and a color called "Aphrodite's Pink Nightie" while my feet soaked and the poorly designed massage chair grinded away at my lower back. Ah, heaven. I was hoping to have my first-ever pedicure where I didn't feel obligated to make bright and aimless chit-chat with the aesthetician, which distracts me from my massage and is also a hell of a lot of work because I seem to understand only every fifth word. Alas, it was not to be. Thus ensued a seemingly endless story about a "really mean" two-year-old daughter and a lot of me nodding and saying "Oh my!" and "How about that!" Still, my toes look great, and I got to watch Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie in "The Simple Life" on the flat screen and feel really, really smart even though my brain these days seems to function like it's been in a blender with a fruit smoothie.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Please Don't Eat the Daisies

Jarrah's social calendar has been fully booked this week, and she wants me to let you know that she might be stopping by in her surrey to leave a card for you. Hee. Seriously, though, we have paid a lot of calls and it's sooooo good to get out of the house! That seems to be my rallying cry of parenthood thus far: "Get ye out of the house!" And I will continue to trumpet it from the mountain tops.

We've gotten into a bit of a rhythm wherein we toss Jarrah in the crib about 10:00 (I don't know why I'm saying "we;" David is gone by that time) and, after light protestation, she snoozes for the better part of two hours. Then we have some time in which we sit in her rocker and she points at everything in her room and says "Dah!' I'm often not sure what she's pointing at, but I try to be agreeable anyway. Then there is lunch, accompanied by some singing (hers, not mine, generally) and then The Choosing of the Outfit. Then it takes a while to stuff her into the outfit, as she has pressing appointments elsewhere and finds it tiresome to stay for TWO sleeves, TWO legs, and TWO socks and shoes. Eventually, it gets done, and then we are ready for action.

Such as it were. Sometimes it feels like the bulk of the day is spent strapping her into things. I carry her out of her room and strap her into her booster seat. Then I strap her into her car seat when it's time to go. And then when we get there, I unstrap her and immediately strap her into her stroller. Sometimes, soon after, I strap her into a grocery cart or a restaurant high chair. It's like toddlerhood is one big restraint system. Of course, the alternative is said child will try to kill herself at every available opportunity (and lo, there are many of those.) On the plus side, I've become a very savvy strapper. Uh-oh, this is starting to sound naughty--we'll veer away now.

On Tuesday afternoon we received a very welcome visit from Auntie Alicia, who brought over some homemade pasta sauce and all the fixin's (and I wish you all could have seen Jarrah after she had been sucking face with penne in red sauce for half an hour--even her forehead was orange--why didn't we take a photo?) and gamely distracted Jarrah while I tried to nod comprehendingly during our consult for air conditioning, which will apparently cost a million dollars since our house was built in 1957 and has been wrapped entirely in asbestos like a great big, poisonous gift. Then, we headed over to visit the Diann, Nathan and their twin girls, who are getting so big and cute, and were very pleased when Stephanie showed up with Izzy, too. Izzy is getting so big that even Jarrah could not frighten her away from the musical standing toy. Jarrah was uncharacteristically shy during much of that visit, but she was emboldened by a sing-a-long to Disney Princess songs (apparently these are Nathan's favorites) to do some rappeling up and down their stairs, which is probably a good example of why I have 20 more gray hairs since our trip to China. Then Jarrah was ready to spurn me and run off into the sunset with Diann after a few lousy laps of "let's run backwards!" Jeez, if I'd known that was all it took, I would have tried it in Chongqing. ;)

On Wednesday, we met Mary and Joy for lunch at Soup Plantation, which I knew would have good food options for babies, though I wasn't exactly sure how we would procure them. How to push a tray through the salad bar with a stroller? But they are pros at Soup Plantation. They offer you a space-age baby carrier unit as you come in the door that rolls sleekly through the line, and then they go set up a table with high chairs for you. Easy peasy! Of course, the one eventuality they hadn't planned for was Jarrah's sense of entitlement, and you better believe when she saw me filling that tray with salad, she wasn't going to stand for it. Luckily, I was able to slip her a few fusilli (plain, so she wouldn't bespoil her outfit) while in line.

Also in the line, we met a statuesque, modelesque young woman from a town near Guangzhou, with her little boy about Jarrah and Joy's age. She was delighted with the girls, and very happy for us, which was so sweet. She stopped by our table to chat after their meal, and during our conversation I experienced a thrill. Our girls began talking a long time ago! They say "Ni Ni" for "bottle of milk," and you better believe we hear that one a lot. They say "Ama" or "Ema" for "nanny." And the most exciting of all: the "Dah!" game with which we've become so familiar actually translates to something like "I'm hitting you!" which is, by gum, exactly what happens! (Palm to palm, that is, a little bit like a high five down low here.) I can't really explain why I was so thrilled; maybe because I've been waiting for Jarrah to say her first word, but of course she is brilliant and said her first words a long time ago. Now she's trying to figure out this whole English thing, and then we'll probably have 10 words at once!

The following conversation took place when I was sitting with both girls while Mary went to go fill her soda cup. A woman at the next table smiled at us when we sat down and seemed to be watching us carefully. Suddenly, she spoke:

"Those are rad!"

"Excuse me?"

"Where did you get those?"

"Excuse me???"

"Well, it's just, I've never seen a snack mat like those before!"

Well...okay. I was spoilin' for a fight about my "rad" acquisition of a Chinese baby, and then it was all about the Tiny Diner (which David and I call "the Tidy Diner") after all. Whoops! I guess I need to calm down. ;)

Mary was amazed at how well-behaved Jarrah is in a restaurant high chair. She lifts her chin for her bib, and dives in to the buffet I've assembled on the Tidy Diner. Very little ends up on her face or the floor. At various intervals, she raises her face to the heavens and sings a song of gratitude, for the wonder that is lunch. I've explained to Mary that she can't be bothered wasting time on fussing or throwing when she could be eating actual food during that time. It's a matter of priorities. ;)

After lunch we went to Mission Bay, and spring has sprung. The grass is dotted with sweet clumps of tiny white daisies. I tried to have A Very Special Moment with Jarrah by showing her the daisies, and she proceeded to ruthlessly snap off their heads and cram them in her mouth. We had a lot of fun going on the swings, but there was a semi-tragic event. A huge group (I want to call them a gaggle, but I know that only applies to geese) of those skinny, black non-ducks was amassing near the water, so Mary threw a few Goldfish to see if we could get their attention. Jarrah was delighted, and demanded to be put down just as some part of my brain registered that the non-ducks were actually advancing towards us with something akin to menace. Jarrah, undeterred, marched into the fray and pointed majestically in case we weren't sure where to look and then...SNAP! A nasty little non-duck took a swipe at the proferred digit. She began to scream, but truthfully I think her level of alarm escalated because she saw my crushed expression; I had been in the middle of exulting at her boldness and now that boldness was being squelched, hopefully not for good. My sweet, trusting little duck-lover.

Thursday we had a visit from my friend Sharon (hi Sharon!), who was kind enough to bring us lunch and share it in the park. Jarrah was at her most adorable, asking Sharon to help her try on my sunglasses, and tottering around on the grass while doing her husky baby-talk thing. I was stoked because she'd had a good nap that morning and I figured that later, when I had my walk with Amy and her twins around Lake Murray, Jarrah would be in a mood to appreciate the twinkling blue water and gently waving grasses and I'd get some exercise, too. Well, readers, it was not to be. In fact, I have never seen a more nuclear stroller meltdown. It seemed to build with and encourage Maya and Zoe, too, so at some point there were three flat-out screaming babies and Amy and I walking as fast as we could while people stared at us. We couldn't even conduct a conversation above the din, and since we were already a half-hour into the loop, there was nothing to do but push on.

After a while, I found I couldn't hear or feel anything but the screaming. It seemed to fill the whole world. The people going by were a distant blur, and Amy's voice was fuzzy. But the screaming remained distinct. I was light-headed and slow. By the time I got back to the car, Jarrah was slumped forward, furiously exhausted. She fell asleep in her car seat so I drove her around for a while, but the longer I did, the weirder I felt. I fantasized I could hear a choir singing to me, very softly. After a while I started to wonder if something was wrong with me. My head felt like I'd recently been bludgeoned with a blunt object. When David got home, he found me curled on the bed with Jarrah screaming at my feet. I think I must have gotten dehydrated or something--it was a weirdly hot day, and I'm not used to walking really fast while pushing a stroller.

The fact is, I'm used to feeling competent. I gravitate towards activities that feel right to me, feel like I have some talent for them. But every time I congratulate myself that I've "learned" something about Jarrah, she changes the rules, and then I know nothing again. It's a little like pushing that rock up the hill and watching it roll down, only I'm not in the fiery pits of hell; there's actually quite a nice view. ;)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Nu Nu

Jarrah is afraid of The Nu Nu. The Nu Nu is a creature on Teletubbies who looks like a blue vacuum cleaner with goggly eyes and a big brush for a snout. Every time the Nu Nu trundles out, Jarrah screams and puts out her arms to be picked up. I reflexively shout "But Nu Nu tidy up!" because that's what the Teletubbies say and I have been reprogrammed. Jarrah, however, is still resisting. Unlike me, she doesn't go around all day trilling "Time for Tubby Bye-Bye! Time for Tubby Bye-Bye!" She has about 30 seconds worth of attention for the 'Tubbies, and mostly for the big yellow sun with a demented blue-eyed baby face. She likes to imitate the glee-shriek the baby sun makes as it shines on Tubby Land.

I am not so much a fan of the cartoons, like Clifford and Caiou and Dragon Tales (although the devilishly catchy "Dragon Tales, Dragon Tales, It's almost time for Dragon Tales" theme is also hard to shake) but have grown fond of the Kratt Brothers, who wear cargo shorts and sincerely huge grins as they talk about (and pet) animals with their furry puppet friend (I want to call him a marmoset, but I'm not really sure what a marmoset is.) There's something sort of sexy about a man who can muster that kind of enthusiasm about porcupine quills, and hangs out with his brother, too.

I used to think that people were just being hip when they rolled their eyes and said Barney was Satan; I thought it was some parental rite of passage. But now that I've actually seen Barney I can appreciate how truly evil he is. He seems achingly stupid, and his little yellow friend even more. But what's really horrifying are the live children who behave like alien pods, blinkless and grinning as they over-enunciate their lines. Who do these children belong to, and how can their parents live with themselves for inflicting this experience on them?

Luckily Jarrah seems to have innate good taste, and if she doesn't quite shudder as I do when Barney comes on, she is sensible enough to wander off immediately and find something more stimulating, like chewing a box.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Another busy weekend of firsts for our Miss Jarrah Rose. Saturday we met Mary, Paul, Joy, Alison and little Luke (I held him--18 lbs. felt like a featherweight after our solid girl!) at the Birch Aquarium for a little fish action. Turns out Jarrah and Joy are as wild for fish as they are for ducks! It was so incredibly fun to see them not knowing where to point first. And for the first time I noticed that many of the displays are at kid-level--nice! Jarrah really enjoyed pressing her nose and hands against the glass and making her appreciative "uh-UH!" noises. She's not doing any of that annoying tapping and knocking that older toddlers do yet, so I figured a couple of handprints were okay. ;)

She is like a completely different child since she's been walking. (And that's only been four days! Wow!) David and I were joking that she seems so much more mature. Her confidence has increased, and there were several times that she scampered back into the dark, fishy, watery world of the exhibits without so much as a howdayadoo over her shoulder for us. It was sweet to see her so fearless, so venturesome, so Lewis and Clark. Now, strollers at the aquarium are another matter. It was a good thing she's walking because those narrow hallways are crowded as it is, and pushing a cumbersome wheeled vehicle through the throngs was nearly impossible. We ended up carrying her or letting her walk and just shoving the stroller off to one side.

The outdoor tide pools were another big hit, but not because she even noticed there were sea stars and spiky anemones inside. It was the steps she sought, and for the first time, she could climb them herself. See for yourself! During the day, we had a bunch of nice conversations with other parents, who admired our daughters in their squeaky shoes. And you know what? Not one weird comment about adoption. It's uncanny! Now that I've written this, of course, I'll get something freaky and maddening today, but any questions we had were the standard ones like "How long has she been walking?" and "Where did she get those shoes?" and "How is it possible she is so darn cute?" I made up that last one, but it's definitely the question I find myself asking, so I figure I'm not alone. ;)

An aside about what I've begun to call "The Code of Mothers." There hasn't been one instance of me attempting to propel myself and the stroller through a heavy door in an ungainly fashion that a mother, young or old, doesn't come gallantly to my rescue. There seems to be an unspoken agreement about it. Last week at the mall, a sweet-faced granny-type actually came clackety-clacking towards us on her heels, breathless: "I saw you, dear, and I ran so you wouldn't have to futz with the door!" Yesterday, while David was parking the car, I was manoevering a swinging gate with one hand and the stroller with the other when I saw a young mom and three children in my peripheral vision and, blinkety-blink, she instructed her oldest: "You go get that door for her; we'll wait here." It kind of bowls me over. David said I will pass on the honor of the code by instructing Jarrah to hold doors, too, when the time is right.

On Sunday, Jarrah attended her very first kiddie birthday party. Heck, I attended MY first kiddie birthday party. And what a party it was! It was Anton's "Double Bubble" 2nd birthday, on account of him missing his first birthday party because he was still in Russia. The Gillespies provided a grand time for all, and the rain obliged by holding off, just barely, with a couple of drips here and there. We had bagels and bubbles and Jarrah had her first pinwheel, which tickled her immensely when it spun crazily in the blustery wind. But the best part (and here I must confess I speak only for myself; Jarrah will have to bear witness in her own blog someday) was what Mary called "the jump-jump," one of those big inflatable thingos that kids leap around in. I have gazed longingly at these many a time when I've passed a children's party; they are incredibly bouncy and you can hear kids screaming from inside as their little heads practically bonk the roof as they leap. Sigh. As a child, I was somehow always too old or too big for those rooms full of balls in which my siblings cavorted, and I'd press my nose to the plastic window and wonder how life got so unfair. Well, dear readers, I got my karmic payback yesterday. Jarrah and Joy and little Ava had their time in the jump-jump, and enjoyed it to varying degrees. But then they all tumbled out and yours truly got her time in the sun. Well, it wasn't actually sunny, but I did get to jump and leap and bounce and fall the way I've always wanted to, and what makes it all the sweeter is I don't have radiating lower back pain this morning like I was afraid I would. Ah, youth. How I long to reclaim thee. ;)

Last night was another first. David and I had our first official date night, with our first official babysitter. Our friend Barb was sweet enough to offer to stay with the little angel, and after our fun visit with her last week we knew it would go well. We daringly planned an afternoon matinee of "V for Vendetta" (a lot of fun, Hugo Weaving makes a great hero-villian, and Natalie Portman's bald head does not actually signify that she's a bad-ass) followed by our first meal out at a non-chain restaurant for Afghan food, mmm, yum, cherry rice. I typed out a ridiculous amount of instructions, feeling v. important and knowledgeable about our child, and spent 30 minutes walking Barb around the house to annotate the child-friendly features. David left his phone on vibrate, and we took off with Jarrah in a sweet, pliant mood; she had just demonstrated her latest adorable behavior: the leg-hug. We didn't hear a peep all night, and returned at 8:45 to a dim, quiet house and Barb on the couch, peacefully reading magazines to the sound of the dryer. Or so we thought. When I said "How'd it go?" I actually thought she was joking when she responded, "You guys, she cried the entire time." What? Our girl crying? Mind you, we know she's an ace kvetcher, and not above a well-timed shriek or wail to emphasize her point. But consistent sobbing? We haven't seen that since Chongqing! Barb explained that she'd done everything she could think of to amuse and distract her, but the spates of contentment were few and far between. Aside from a mysteriously long late-afternoon nap (Jarrah napping at her dinner time? Unheard of! Are we talking about the same baby here?) she had been inconsolable through park and french fries and games and anything else Barb pulled out of her bag of tricks.

Readers, I felt so strange hearing this. A big part of me was mortified, of course, that Barb had signed on for such an unpleasant evening, and had valiantly soldiered through without calling us in desperation. Another part of me was sad for Jarrah, crying all that time. But there was a part of me, too, that felt not-so-secretly thrilled, because her misery suggested that she actually knows who we are now, and that she misses us when we're not there. And I couldn't even chalk it up to her missing David: after all, she doesn't cry all day when he's at work! I was puzzled remembering how Lindsey and Thomas had teased us after their shorter childcare stint that she didn't seem the least concerned with our absence, but then remembered that was three weeks ago, half the time we've known her ago. Apparently, something has changed.

We went to bed, feeling a bit unsettled that we hadn't seen her to say good-night. She had obviously cried herself to exhaustion because she didn't make a peep all night. But several times, I woke up anyway, thinking of her, and wondering how she was doing across the hall. I was surprised to realize that I sort of missed her, and was looking forward to seeing her in the morning, and smooching all over her to remind her we're still here.

How very strange. What a difference six weeks can make.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Inside Poop

Jarrah walked today! I mean really walked. Like, cruised and shmoozed walked. It was so cute. She balances each step with precision and delicacy, her round belly bobbling out in front. Aaryn said Jarrah's belly arrives a little while before she does. :) This morning David retreated and beckoned in our wide, empty living room and she kept coming. She crossed the entire room without falling! And even more impressive, she walked as her predominant mode of exploration at Animal Crackers this morning. I'm not sure if it was Lisa's Toddler Dream House (kind of like the Barbie Dream House, but less pink, and with more toys in every room) or the walking thing--could it also have been the absence of jet lag?--but Jarrah enjoyed her second Animal Crackers like nobody's business. She walked and crawled and played and stole other children's toys and bottles. At what age am I supposed to start being stern about her unfortunate habit of swiping other children's things? She's so nonchalant about it, too. She sidles up gently from one side, and in one quick motion, the coveted item is at home in her mouth or her freakishly strong little fists.

Wow. I just have to interrupt myself for breaking news. This just in: I was sitting here typing (as I am wont to do) and heard a swooshy padded sound coming up behind me. That is nothing new; I leave Jarrah in another room and she starts to get suspicious that I am enjoying a snack or beverage on the down low, so she sends out a search party. But what made this completely new and different is that when I looked up, she was standing in the doorway. She had WALKED in from the other room. And when I smiled and reached out to her, a gesture that usually gets the big touchdown salute and an additional spring in the step into my waiting arms, she turned on her heel and she left again! Well, I never!

Readers, it's official. We have a walker today. Not just the occasional party trick, but a lean, mean, walkin' machine. Heaven help us.

My title today commemorates another first, and that is experience with baby bodily functions at the mall. That might not sound like a big deal to some of you, but believe me, I am a girl who thought she knew her malls. When I was in junior high, my friends Wendy, Jill and I used to roller skate to the mall every weekend. We were seasoned pros. We "checked" our skates at the JC Penney garden shop (even as a 12-year-old, I had chutzpah--what was this "checking" business all about?) The salespeople always grimaced and agreed by not refusing--they just took our skates and stashed them behind the flower prep area. Then we'd pull our flip-flops out of our pockets and go on our merry way. That merry way consisted of trying on every version of Love's Baby Soft at the perfume counter, modeling purses for each other, buying exactly one quarter's worth of Swedish fish from the candy bins, and basically treating the place like a theme park until closing time without actually buying stuff. These halycon days instilled the mall with a comfy, home-like quality that it retains to this day. I digress merely to create context.

So, until I had a baby, I didn't know department stores had elevators. I am claustrophobic by nature, and prefer the escalator. The stroller, however, does not prefer the escalator. I was also confounded as to the purpose of those "Build-A-Bear Workshops"--what were they for? Why not purchase one's teddy bear fully assembled? And, my friends, I didn't really understand what went on in "the mother's lounge." This is a couch-filled antechamber to the ladies' restroom found in your finer department stores. I have always walked by it quickly, with my head down, not really wanting to know what went on in there. Secret rituals involving breast pumps? Discussions about stretch marks? Even worse was the prospect of encountering one of those spit-up-covered, squalling infants in a state of being patted and rocked by a grown woman also wearing a thin sheen of spit-up. No thanks.

But today I needed the mother's lounge for another, even more nefarious purpose. Caroline, Will, Alex, Jarrah and I were having a perfectly lovely time with the toy train table at Geppetto's when things got a little whiffy. Uh-oh. I had already congratulated myself for changing a dirty diaper during Animal Crackers without incident, and now here was another one. Suddenly I remembered the secret room I'd been averting my eyes from for so many years. My friends, that was about to change. First, we wheeled the strollers in, and I proposed to Caroline that we take turns using the facilities (for grownups, that is) while the other one watched the strollers. But she, gently, with a finesse admirable for someone who has already been doing this for over two years, pointed out that the strollers actually fit inside the handicapped stalls. They do?? Wow! It was true. And so it happened that Jarrah had her first look at the manner in which adults perform their business. I had a hysterical laughing fit in the stall when I saw Jarrah's face at the first sound of splashing. It was like "Yo, where is that water coming from?" I told Caroline that she looked like Jeff Spicoli to me. That probably sounds weird but it was the first comparison that popped into my head. :)

Afterwards, I wheeled her into the mother's lounge, only to find myself perplexed. This room is very nice, I mused, with its plushy furniture and a gal chatting on her cell phone. Am I to disrobe the poopy child on one of these deluxe sofas? I thought not. You can see I was working with very limited experience here. When it comes to parenting, it's as if I were the one who's just been born. While most mothers of almost-15-month olds are a skilled hand at navigating the mall (unless they are inveterate mall-haters, which I do respect) I am a swaddling babe and in need of patient schooling. After turning in circles for a few moments, I spotted what looked like a changing table in one corner. And, because it was Nordstrom, it was actually padded. Jarrah is a very active child. It is not uncommon to find yourself admiring her departing tushy as she motors away in the middle of a diaper change. For this reason I have always changed her on the floor. But now I dumped her onto the changing table and tossed her from arm to arm, juggling my supplies.

A word here about supplies. At times I feel a mother must become a diaper artist. A quick change artist, if you will. ;) I prepare my canvas of changing pad (with thingo to keep it from getting too disgusting to put back in my bag) and then mix my palette of diaper, wipes, and scented bag. I strip the baby, even the socks, as I've learned the hard way that, well, we don't want to be carrying extra socks every day, do we? I manoever her onto her back with one arm, while dangling what I hope is a fascinatingly distracting toy in the other (usually it ends up being something--anything--I have handy, and not actually intended to the purpose.) I roll up my sleeves, and I dive in with a flourish. If all goes well, the baby emerges with a bold, new look of post-modern freshness.

Anyway, things did go pretty well. I ended up flipping her around a few times, and at one point she was standing at attention on the table, looking down on me like I was nuts, and I was laughing so hard I could barely get the diaper open. But it felt like a milestone.

Now if I could just find somewhere to check my rollerskates, I will truly have mastered the mall.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Edge

Lately I've been reminded of a time I went to Sea World when I was about 10. My beloved Grammy Fanny was with us; she used to spoil me rotten. There was an attraction called "Cap'n Kids World" and one of the things you could do was swing on a rope over a shallow pool of water. I was all over it. Grammy Fanny was skeptical. "Why don't you roll up your pants before you go? Are you sure you can hold on to that rope?" "Of course I can," I scoffed. I mean, really, what is up with grandmas? Always so negative; never fully appreciating my gymnastical genius. I grabbed the rope and swung. For maybe a second, it was glorious. I was airborn, the wind in my hair, the pool glistening beneath me. Then the second was over, and I was sitting on my ass in the pool, my jeans soaking. But I still remember the fraction of a second when I could feel the tide turn. When I went from footloose and fancy free to "Uh-oh, Grammy was right--I am going down." And that's the part of the memory that is strongest for me. There is a photo documenting the aftermath. I am averting my eyes from the camera, humiliated, my '70s-era regalia, including the tunic with butterfly sleeves, dripping. And Grammy is smirking, a twinkle in her eye and an "I told you so" on the corner of her mouth.

I recall this charming moment from my youth to make an analogy. There are moments as a mother when I am swinging from that rope in the sun, queen of the world, master of my domain. And then something shifts, and I am up to my waist in filthy water, feeling like a moron. And it happens so fast.

Yesterday Miss Jarrah and I went to visit Mary, Joy and Jen at Mary's house. We left about 10:00 in the morning. David looked uncertain. "Isn't it getting close to her nap time?" "She'll nap in the car," I said breezily, "I can't be one of those schedule moms." She did fall asleep on the way, but was plenty cheerful to be woken so she could play with Joy's toys and gobble about a pound of potato salad. Afterwards we got some coffee and window-shopped. Mary expressed her amazement how quietly Jarrah sat in her stroller. Secretly, I gloated. My baby is soooo well-behaved. I have got this DOWN. I am the MOM. :)

I stopped to do an errand at the drug store on the way home, but it ended up turning into another hour. By the time we got back here it was after 4:00. Jarrah was cheerful but I reasoned that she might sleep for an hour and wake up ready for her dinner. Man, I am good, I thought to myself. I had a fun day and now I'm going to have some free time. Yay me!

I put Jarrah in her crib and she started screaming. That didn't faze me; she often does that for a few seconds. Or maybe a minute. Or maybe five. Say, is that screaming still going on? How long has it been? My nerves were raw. I started timing it. The screams turned to shrieks, alternating with choking. I started to cave. When I realized 20 minutes had gone by without a break, I went in. She was sitting in her crib, face puffy, and when I held her, her heart was pounding and she was shaking like crazy. It took 10 minutes of holding her close just to get her calm. And after that, my friends, I had to pay. And pay and pay. For four hours, until her bed time, the only time she wasn't screaming was when I was holding her or holding onto her while she did something else. And four hours is a long time for that. When David got home, we managed to get very cranky with each other since there was nothing else to do but listen to Jarrah complain. And that felt even worse. And you better believe that somewhere in there, my shield of invincibility shattered. I realized I am not the boss. It's like all those fairy tales where the wizened crone offers some fabulous deal--pots of gold, a saved life, a much-longed-for baby--but warns there is a catch. And the catch is always something like "Later on I'm going to come back and steal your baby and/or kill you." Yet the hapless hero/heroine makes the deal anyway. I guess that's what they call a Faustian bargain. There's really no possible good outcome; there's just immediate gratification followed by a fast descent into the fiery pits of purgatory. And that, my friends, was Parental Lesson #322.

We had a few other lessons over the weekend. Parental Lesson #258: Fuddruckers is only fun for kids if the food is ready in under an hour. I'm not kidding. We arrived; I hopped in the line to order while David secured the high chair. Sweet. But then we waited. And waited. We went through a bunch of cheerios. We shredded some ketchup cups. We imbibed more than a reasonable amount of fruit punch, as did our shirt. All in all, we were remarkably patient, considering it was pushing 2:00 and none of us had eaten since breakfast. I was horrified when the server told us that the kiddie fruit cup "looks bad today" and the only other options were more fried things and cookies. Let me take a moment to kvetch about kids meals in general. What is UP with that? Are there children that eat fried chicken, french fries, soda and cookies every time they go to a restaurant? I'm always desperately searching for anything that doesn't seem fried or sugary. Jarrah wouldn't complain about the fried items, mind you, but since she also doesn't complain about broccoli, I don't see any point in loading her up with grease.

Parental Lesson # 293: One-year-olds do not watch shows of any kind, even if the show has a freakishly adorable baby elephant standing on a tiny platform and catching sticks in her mouth. They much prefer to kick the people in front of them, at which time their mothers realize with open-mouthed horror that they have become the kind of parents that they used to want to smash when their toddlers invaded my space in public. We lasted about 7 minutes at the Elephant Show at the Wild Animal Park this weekend. We won't be going to another for at least a year. And we actually felt fortunate that this event provided a cautionary tale to the altogether inescapable Wgasa Bush Railway Tram, upon which one must remain for a full 35 minutes, while the animals roam at a distance no doubt incomprehensible to a 14-month-old. Whew! We dodged a bullet on that one.

It was incredibly fun seeing Jarrah and Joy with the ducks and geese. They were both so delighted and pointed emphatically and made noises like "Uh-oh!" In general, birds of all kinds are a big hit. And I think her favorite moment was walking around the "Petting Krall" and getting up close and personal with some lovely deer. Also what I kept calling the "small deer" but turned out to be goats. ;) You'd think I was a toddler! I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn't important to see elephants and tigers and the other "money shot" animals, because every furred and feathered beast is new and thrilling to our girl. There's plenty of time for the rest.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Baby, It's You

David is back to work full-time now and I am still a bit shell-shocked by the whole idea. We really start to lose it around 5:00 p.m. when she starts rolling around and "em-eming" purely for recreation. (Just now she grabbed my arm and licked it, then leaned over and bit my pant leg, and then screamed at the top of her lungs. That's a pretty typical non-linear performance.)

It's only been a few days but I feel like I am getting to know her a bit better, and vice-versa. While she is thrilled when Daddy gets home, she doesn't

Okay. It's taken me a week to get back to this entry. Every time I'm about to report something, the scenery changes. Right now it's Saturday and thundering and all three of us are snug inside, one of us sound asleep after nearly two hours. When I put her down at 10:30 she protested, but without conviction. The truth is she's rather blotto these days due to Benadryl around the clock. (We finally learned that we have to double the dosage for a baby of her size.)

It's not that we're trying to sedate her for general purposes, but rather that she's had a pretty stressful week. Monday and Tuesday, frighteningly, are no longer in my memory bank, but Wednesday we had a long day of equal parts trauma and fun, beginning with yet another visit to Dr. Dern, this time for three of her vaccines. She didn't like the exam or the shots, obviously, but she cheered up quickly when we got to Gail's house (Hi Gail!) Gail is a faithful reader of the blog and my long-time writing student at UCSD, and she graciously invited the whole workshop over for lunch to meet Jarrah and have a playdate. Well, may I say with some understatement that Gail does good playdate! With confidence born of frequent frolics with her grandkids, Gail offered us toddler nirvana, including yummy snacks in an exciting and different booster seat, a playroom filled with dozens of toys and an enticing empty box, a backyard swing that actually plays music when it's swung, and last but not least, the delectable Fergus, an adorable white terrier who Jarrah found as funny as a classic episode of "Seinfeld." Gail herself proved to be the best toy, as she supervised Jarrah's introduction to stairs with a series of satisfying tushy-bumping descents. You would never know that the young one had been cruelly jabbed and deprived of her nap to boot, from the gusto with which she played, and I think she was a little peeved when I took her away! She also had fun meeting meeting Don, Jo Anne and Eleanor, who have been a wonderful support to me throughout the journey to Jarrah. Hi guys! Thanks for everything!

As if that wasn't enough excitement, we had some more fun at UTC with Mary and Joy that afternoon, where we snacked and shopped and pounded on the kiddie software at the Apple store. We finally packed it in around 4:30 and Jarrah snoozed on the way home, clutching her cell phone, and I felt a little gripping around my heart when I peeked at her in the rear view mirror. Lately I've been feeling mushier about her, and she about me. She grins toothily when she sees me, salutes both arms to be picked up, and looks to me for comfort at the doctor's office. Although she is a very busy girl and wears me out, I was starting to feel more confidence, more of a sense of connection and belonging with this fascinating little baby. At the same time, in the past week I have sometimes felt on the verge of tears when I look at her, knowing that she is so open and trusting and will only become more so, and that as much I might come to love her, I will let her down. I am a human being and I will do stupid things, and I will hurt her, physically and emotionally, as hard as I might struggle to avoid it. I can't be exactly what she needs. I am going to blow it, and I can only hope and hope and hope that I don't blow it too badly. And, on the flip side, she will hurt me, too. Mary always jokes that they won't call when they go to college--well, I'm sure that's true. Lord knows I never called. But she will hurt me sooner than that. The deeper I get into this whole business, the more room in my heart for hurt. It's hard to give in to that, and even harder to accept that I can't resist.

But readers, let's shelve that maudlin and existential topic for now and return to our week of trauma. On Thursday morning, I walked out of the bedroom to find Jarrah in David's lap at the computer, pounding away at her Australian alphabet game, but when she turned towards me I was shocked. "She has a rash on her cheeks!" I blurted, and David said "I noticed that." By the time he was off to work, it looked worse, her face swelling and purplish, with a terrain of low foothills. Late in the morning, I changed her diaper and discovered angry red swatches of rash on her sides, belly and back. I started to panic. I e-mailed the Fortune Cookies, who encouraged me to call the doctor. I spoke to the nurse twice, and in between I did a lot of pacing. The rash was creeping down Jarrah's arms, onto her hands. Her ears were lumpy. She was fretful and restless, attempting to scratch at her cheeks and belly. I honestly did not know what to do. I rubbed her all over with Aquaphor, which seemed to help briefly, and gave her Benadryl, which did not. Mary said she would come over and bring us some oatmeal bath, bless her heart. Then the nurse called me back and said to come on in. I called Mary and she said she and Joy would meet me there. I rushed Jarrah into her car seat, where she stared moonily out the window, her eyes tiny slits in her puffy, purple face. It was breaking my heart. She didn't even do the Chicken Dance to bad '80s songs as she is wont to do. That, combined with the fact that she barely touched her lunch, worried me the most. To paraphase Algernon Moncrieff, this is not a girl who eats lunch in a frivolous manner.

Readers, we were in the doctor's office for two hours. Dr. Dern was not in that afternoon, and we saw a resident and then another doctor afterwards, maybe because the resident had no idea? Anyway, I ended up not liking him. For one thing, we waited forever, and then he had only been in the room 2 minutes before he left again for a long time. Jarrah was just in a diaper the whole time, because the nurse had asked me to strip her when we first came in. She and Joy were restless and snackish, and between the two of them, the room started to look pretty bad. Mary did her best to amuse them (what would I do without her?) while I stared into the middle distance in a haze, freakishly drained, feeling I had lost even the facility to form a coherent sentence. I wanted to cry, but felt I didn't have the time or the energy. I was already finding this parenting thing so hard, and then the kids don't even remain in their unretouched state! How insane is that? And I could see my future, and it was filled with days like this one, sitting in white rooms, waiting for doctors and worrying, maybe (horrors) even without Mary.

The doctors went in and out, in and out, and I tried to concentrate, but Jarrah was clingy and crying, and mostly I just wanted to hold her close and kiss her and repeat "It's going to be okay." But for a while there I didn't even know that. Nobody was sure what we were looking at. Was it a virus? An allergy? And to what? The vaccines? Pineapple, her new favorite food? We probably won't ever know for sure.

The snow cap on the day came near the end. The young resident, a smarmy and good-looking fellow who (double horrors) is probably much younger than I and kept saying "How's he doing?" in regard to Jarrah, kept staring at her appraisingly. I thought maybe he was trying to figure out the rash but then he said something unrelated. "The Chinese sure do love those cribs." "What do you mean?" I asked. "Well, the flat head and the distended belly. It's from lying in a crib all day." It took a few seconds to sink in that he was talking about my child. Apparently he saw her as some kind of damaged goods I happened to pick up on my trip, along with some really good deals on DVDs. I tried to imagine him making this statement to a mother about her birth child, and couldn't--it would be unthinkable; the mother would take it personally. But evidently it should not have been personal for me, since Jarrah was adopted. I'm supposed to have some sort of practical distance from which I might reply, "Yeah, her head's kinda flat. Weird, huh?" Driving home that evening, I peered at her in the rear view mirror again, and again felt a bit of pain. But it was different now. Before I had known I couldn't protect her from myself. Now I knew I wouldn't be able to protect her in general. The world is sometimes cold and mean to a chunky little monkey who is itchy and tired for reasons she can't understand. It's mean to all of us, and it will be mean to her in its own way.

Friday we were back at the office bright and early, and I was less than secretly grateful for the previously scheduled TB check. "You're here again?" the receptionist asked incredulously, and I said "Yep. We live here now." A big shout-out to Aaryn and Ruby, who came along to keep us company. Aaryn was such a mensch about it; she didn't prevaricate; when I answered the phone she said "Do you want me to come to the doctor's with you?" Her directness helped me say yes. They were awesome. Aaryn even brought treats to distract Jarrah from being poked at yet again. This time, Dr. Dern did the poking, and she was awesome, as always. Although the rash was even worse that day, she said she felt certain it was allergic and would go away soon. Jarrah was even itchier on Friday because she kept raking her little nails over her inflamed limbs and tummy, causing scabs. But I believed Dr. Dern, and that made all the difference. And you know what? She was right. When we woke up this morning, Jarrah was looking a little better. You can see her rash in some of the pics, but now it's crusting over (sorry, that is disgusting.) She has her appetite back, and was very cheerful today. And people still flirt with her in stores because her adorable-ness shines through her scabby little face. The girl can't help herself, and people respond to that.

It was such a relief when David came home on Friday. He arrived early so I could go to NIA and dance my troubles away. I was like a maniac (wait, maybe not a maniac; no one was dousing me with buckets of water or anything) and got good and sweaty. Then David gave Jarrah a bath and, bless his heart, watched her while I went out for some girlie time with Lisa, Martha and Mary.

So, I made it through my first week alone with Jarrah. Just barely, but I did. I want to say that next week has got to be lighter on the medical emergencies, but who knows? Guess what the talented one did this evening, ladies and gentlemen? She got up and walked AWAY from us for the first time. Picked herself up off the floor and wobbled across the room towards a chair. And then she did it again going out the door of her room. That's some big toddler milestone, from what I understand, when a stander and cruiser suddenly has an inner "click" that tells them they can do this without anyone watching and cheering them on. When they can do it for themselves, just because they want to.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Toy Story

We have discovered the thrill of watching Jarrah play with a new toy. Uh-oh.

On Friday Jarrah and I took a field trip to visit Mary and Joy in Encinitas, where Jarrah was pleased to find an entirely new living room designed (from her perspective) as her auxiliary playroom. The fact that these were actually Joy's toys interested her not a whit.

After a somewhat dismal lunch at Panera at an outdoor table in the rain (Jarrah didn't mind getting wet as long as I kept the morsels coming) we arrived at Toddler Paradise: Geppetto's Toy Store, where the staff actually encouraged Jarrah and Joy to sample their wares. Hot diggety! We played for a glorious hour, and I had to restrain myself from buying her everything in the store. We settled on a cannister that goes "Baaaaa" when turned on its side (it's hilarious to watch her tilt her whole body to the side when she uses it) and a tractor full of farm animals that beeps and goes (she still seems a bit baffled when she watches it go by.) But the most exciting thing we learned is that J. is at the perfect stage for a push toy--I'm not sure of the official name but it looks like a jazzed-up plastic lawnmower, Jarrah can walk on her own behind it, using it for support in front. Unlike the evil saucers the children in Chinese orphanages are confined to, these toys require her full weight so they don't hinder her posture or balance. Anyway, the one at Geppetto's was 80 dolllars (oof!) but the next day we were graced by a visit from Jarrah's doting Aunt Lindsey and Uncle Thomas.

Not only did they buy Jarrah a Playskool walker that, as you can see from the photos, makes her feel like the cat's pajamas, but they even added a fabulous orange Pooh who is holding his own tiny blue Pooh. She got busy immediately sucking on Pooh's ears--a sure sign of approval from our orally-fixated girl. We also had a fun time at Fusion Boba Cafe on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. (if you're local, try it--yum!) where Jarrah discovered her own personal ambrosia: Thomas's Mango-Strawberry "Sno Bubble"--a mixture of fruit, ice and soy milk that she sucked so hard we had to replace the flattened straw half-way through.

As you can see from the pictures, Jarrah also had her first Very Special Experience with a doggie--Lindsey's dog, her cousin Zooey, who was incredibly tolerant but seemed more than a little gobsmacked to be sharing the spotlight with a hairless, unpredictable puppy who made a lot of unnecessary noises. At the end of the weekend, she fairly galloped to the car when her mommy said it was time to go home. But I actually think they were quite good with each other, and the encounter was a good warm-up for Jarrah since she watched her first Oscar's Sunday night with Jen and Craig's dog, Huck. Aside from her effusive applause for Jon Stewart's hosting abilities, her favorite activity of the evening was hyper-crawling after Huck and attempting to pat him into submission.

It was a very social weekend, and I'm pleased to report that Jarrah took all her visitors in stride. She is a bit serious for a few minutes when she meets someone new, but warms up quickly, particularly with Thomas, who is a pro with babies. By the end of the weekend, he was giving David a run for his money as Favorite Really Tall Guy. In fact, Thomas and Lindsey were so good with Jarrah that David and I had our first solo outing since meeting her: we went to see "Tristram Shandy" while Lindsey and Thomas and Zooey took Jarrah to the dog park and gave her dinner. David and I did wonder fleetingly if there was something wrong with us that our primary feeling as we sped towards the theater was relief. I had heard that new parents tend to be incredibly anxious the first time they leave their child with someone else and go on a date, but after a careful self-assessment, we both decided that we were just excited to be going to the movies! Mind you, it was an extremely truncated date, as we dashed into the theater as the lights were going down and were already calling home from the car immediately after. Also, I managed to fall asleep twice during a movie that was not at all boring and actually quite inventive and clever. We are just not rested yet. When we returned, Jarrah was doing just fine without us, and we weren't sure whether to be pleased or miffed. ;)