Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Churchgoin'


Alice wore this outfit to her first Episcopal Church service (outside of my uterus) this Sunday. Tony is Catholic and I grew up in the Episcopal Church. Our plan is to give Alice lots of time in both churches as she grows. For the past seven years Tony and I have split our time (every other weekend) between both Churches. Though in the past we have habitually attended more services at the Church that is physically closer to wherever we are sleeping on Saturday night.

So far we have found one church that really fit us as a couple, through it's mission and with the friendships we formed during coffee hour. That church happened to be Episcopal and I think it spoiled us forever. The church is in Chicago and it is called St. John's. The smallish congregation at St. John's is very welcoming and incredibly motivated, especially in the arenas of social justice and environmental protection. We were even some of the early members of the Genesis Group (the environmental wing of St. Johns) which has ended up having a real influence in the community. In fact the Reverend called me this weekend about a potential illustration job for the group that is much appreciated.

Tony and I were happily active during our time at St. Johns but the real credit for the success of the environmental programs goes to the remarkable Rev. Kara, the great congregation, and our buddies Leanne and Brad. Especially Leanne (no offense Brad) who is a glorious environmental nerd in the best possible sense!

Our little family is still looking for a St. John's here in Austin, though we have found mostly great big churches here in Texas. The one we attended this weekend has a long history and a large devoted congregation. Though to be honest what we liked best (so far) was the state of the art nursery, attached award-winning day school, and kick-ass playground. Is it wrong to love a church for it's childcare options? I hope not because I am slightly smitten.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Reap the Whirlwind Mr. Bunny


Now that she can grab things on purpose Alice is trying out all her toys. Today was the fluffy bunny's turn at bat. I think I can say definitively that he was a hit.



Happy 3-Month Birthday!!

Happy Birthday my sweet. To celebrate your daddy and I are posting evidence of your two new tricks.

Your fingers.

Last month Alice first glimpsed her cousin Marilyn cleverly intertwining her long graceful baby fingers. Alice has been working on a similar movement and recently has achieved Mr. Burns-ian finger interlacing expertise. Lately Alice has taken to folding her little hands before nursing sessions like she is a reserved Jane Austin heroine waiting for teatime.

Your name.

Tony and I have been trying to get Alice to say her name for ages. Last night during the Obama/McCain debate Alice had tons to say. She had some real feelings about fiscal responsibility. Or it is possible that Alice was overwhelmed by her days of silence (due to a cold) and was trying to get all her built up thoughts out of her baby mind. It makes me feel for her when Alice has something to say but can't quite get the sound out. Though when she does manage a noise it makes me ridiculously proud.
video
Now I might be a crazy parent but I think you can hear her say an approximation of "Al" and perhaps even "Alice". Tell me if I am kidding myself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

hands

My Mom stayed an extra day in Austin so that she could play developmental games with Alice. Mom taught Alice to grab toys with her tiny right and left hand. Then Alice learned to bring her hand + the grasped object to her mouth, therefore crossing mid-line, which is a sign that she is using both hemispheres of her brain. Which is very good for baby brains.

I really enjoyed sipping coffee, eating biscotti, and watching Grammy act as Alice's personal trainer and snuggle factory.

Mom went home on Tuesday morning (thanks for driving 24 hours Mom!) and by Tuesday afternoon Alice had already gained noticeable improvement in her hand motions. For the first time tonight Alice turned the pages of her favorite book ("Moo, Baa, La La La") without our assistance or prompting. Now Alice's hands act as her familiars, fluttering around her body and doing her bidding without her acknowledging their service. They remind me of Odin's ravens Hugin and Mugin (thought and memory) who travel everywhere collecting information about the world and returning to whisper into Odin's right and left ear.

More Baptism pics




Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baptism

This weekend was Alice's Baptism and it went swimmingly. We had all sorts of lovely folks drive into town on Alice's behalf. The Godparents kindly came back into town only days after they left us. My Mom drove the 12 hours it takes to return to Austin after visiting us just two weeks ago. My Uncle Philip drove down from Lago Vista with lovely flowers for Alice. Tony's Dad, Brother, and Sister all took a roadtrip from Dallas to help us get the place ready for Alice's first official party. Alice's Grandma was forced by doctor's orders to stay home and was much missed by all, but Alice has some drool all saved up for the next time she snuggles Grandma.

The church that we chose to go to for the baptism required that we take a class before the ceremony could be performed. We expected this to be the case but were not prepared for the not one, not four, not six, but eight hours of baptism training.
Eight hours ya'll. That is a lot of sitting in folding chairs and drinking decaf coffee while 9 months pregnant.


As it happens we missed the final class because I was having Alice at the time. The folks at the church were really nice about it and let us go ahead and get Alice introduced to the Christian faith anyway.

My Mom basically catered the whole thing by looking in our fridge and making a huge meal out of the contents. We had mango roasted turkey and gravy, broiled salmon, deviled eggs, cucumber cream cheese appetizers, and a tower of cupcakes!

Alice was a trooper for the actual sprinkling. She gave the officiant the stink eye when he got her head wet but she didn't say anything. I loved that my nephew (and Godson) and niece were able to join us at the Baptismal fount. Check out little Andy peeping over the edge with his big blue eyes.

Mostly Alice enjoyed snuggling up on family members like her Aunt Becky and Grandpa Mike (see below).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Raspy McNo-voice

Alice is sleeping in her crib during the day. Oh fantabulous day! She must know that Mom is a germ factory because she fell asleep in the crib and not my lap for the first time in who knows how long. I have almost no voice left so apologies to Leanne who was sweet enough to give me a call this afternoon. I will catch you later lady!

I hope that I haven't infected my niece and nephew who were Ike refugees this weekend. Here is a picture of the three cousins together being enthralled by Auntie Karen:

This is Alice's beautiful cousin Marilyn who was born one month before Alice. The girls were both interested in checking out the ceiling fan in our bedroom, but I was able to distract them with the camera for an instant. I can't wait until the girls are old enough to play together in earnest rather than just gazing adoringly at the same shiny thing.



The kids are coming back this Saturday for Alice's baptism. Which should be very tiring for their poor parents who just made the trip between Houston and Austin twice already this week. Poor folks. But as the Godparents-to-be they have no choice. Alice appreciates their dedication.

Operating Instructions

Beautiful friend Lucy sent me a treasure box full of books about Motherhood this week. I love Lucy because she is a passionate scribe who gives gifts of inspiration. She reminds me of those Irish monks who saved civilization.

First out of the box was "Operating Instructions" by Anne Lamott. I generally don't have a moment to read through more than ten pages of anything in a given week, but I am more than halfway through this memoir. It is a journal of Ms. Lamott's first year with her son. I love it completely. Here are some excerpts:


"I felt very sorry for myself today until Peg called and reminded me of Renata Adler's wonderful line about how self-pity is maybe just sorrow in the pejorative."

"In the middle of the colic death marches, I end up looking at the baby with those hooded eyes that were in the old ads for 'The Boston Strangler'."

"His hands are like little stars."

"I have spent so much of my life with secret Swiss-cheese insides, but I tell you-- right now, Mama, my soul is full."


I have a bit of a sore throat today and don't want to breathe on Alice much less indulge in my usual habit of kissing every inch of her little face while she tries to grab my nose. Instead I have let Alice practice scooting around on her tummy while Mommy reads her book and occasionally promises a nursing break. Alice seems to know that I am feeling poorly because she is asserting her (almost) three month old independence. After a sudden loss of pacifier my little girl was able to scoot over and work that baby back into her mouth without parental assistance. I guess she's ready for her own apartment. Tony and I might as well take a vacation to Hawaii.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby love


Last weekend my Mom came into town and generously offered to babysit so that Tony and I could go to The Alamo for dinner and a movie. Being greedy sons-a-guns we went to see 2 1/2 + hour long Batman. The freedom was so sweet and the movie was so much fun.

However, I was gripped with tension the whole time with the vague feeling that Alice needed me. I fairly sprinted in the door when we made it home only to find Alice happily perched on Grammy's knee watching Bill Moyers.

This is when I was given the best gift in my experience as a mother. Alice turned and gave me a huge gummy grin. Then she wiggled with delight and reached for me. For ME ya'll. Just the sight of me made her deliriously happy. It melted my heart into soggy bits. We had a bit of alone time that night. I just snuggled that baby like crazy as a small thank you for all the happiness she has given me.

I tend to get used to Alice after all our constant face time. I think we stop looking at each other after a while. I know that it is really rough having to go back to work when you are a new mother, but getting a greeting like that every day must be wonderful.

ATE foods



My Dad kindly offered to get us any baby present we wanted as long as we picked it out for ourselves. Dad and his partner Jill are not really baby people but they do like to give gifts. Dad said that my Aunt Betsy had suggested clothes or toys. I appreciate both of those things but the first thing that popped out of my mouth was "FOOD!!"

And thus it was done. Dad got us a four week gift of food delivery from a great Austin business called: ate foods

The food is really healthy and tasty. Every Monday they deliver to your door three meals big enough for two adults plus desert! Whee!! I would highly recommend this service.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monkey

Alice's Grandma Nancy made a clever discovery about the Alice and her mobile (which is still broken and being twirled by hand). It turns out that of the four stuffed animals in the set Alice is tracking the monkey. Grandma Nancy thinks this is because the monkey has a human-like face. To test this theory I brought each of the animals down into Alice's grasping range. Nothing for turtle or elephant. The giraffe got no response. But Mr. Monkey was met with a torrent of giggles and flapping baby arms. Guess Grandma Nancy knows of what she speaks!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Look-alikes


This weekend my Mom came into town and reveled in how much Alice reminds her of my babyhood days. To prove this resemblance Mom had us play fashion show with Alice and the dress that I am wearing in the above 1978 picture. Man..she wasn't kidding, we look like the very same baby.

Here is Alice, who loves the fashion show game:


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Aaaaalice. Can you say Alllllllice?


Part of our bedtime routine (post bath and nightgown) is to slowly enunciate words to Alice and wait for her babbling response. Lately she has taken to furrowning her tiny brows and slowly pronouncing an aproximation of her name: "Aaaallllyygg".

Last night Tony said "Hi Alice, how are you?" Alice turned to face her daddy and said very distinctly, "Hi."
Shocked we looked at each other and grew misty eyed. Alice is used to our cheerful exclimations following her every peep so this heavy silence made her nervous. So she said in a quavery worried voice, "Hi?"

We burst into reassuring applause and she continued her happy burbling monologue of "guhs" and "yahs" with the occasional distinct "Hi." She has no idea what it means, but she can say it.

This morning I woke up to this smiling face and my daughter saying, "Hi"

Good stuff.
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