Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the weather. I love the color orange. I love candy corn. I love fall activities like apple picking and going to the fair.

Last week we went to the Big E, which is like a state fair, only it is regional instead of just, um, state-al. Abe had a good time looking at all the animals, especially chickens. He loves chickens!

Not to eat, however. Chicken is one of the few things he won’t eat so far. I guess he wants to be a vegetarian.

Abe has been signing a lot lately. Here he is signing, “MORE CHICKENS!!!” He mostly signs “more,” which in Abe-speak also means, “I want,” but he also knows “milk” and “all done.” I’m trying to teach him a few more.

We went to our Early Intervention playgroup today. You know what is not popular amongst the early toddler set? Circle Time. Circle Time SUCKS. Nobody wants to sit in a circle and sing songs. Everyone is ready for a nap and is wondering WTF just happened to Snack Time and why can’t I crawl over there and play with those toys. It might as well be called I Don’t WANNA Time.

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Your Feet Are Going To Be On The Ground

Abe is PULLING TO A STAND. His stand is a very brief and rather hunched-over stand, but it counts, right? I’m so proud of him! I could tell the possibility  had entered his mind. He was testing things out, putting one foot on the floor while keeping the other leg firmly in the kneeling position, that sort of thing. Knowing my Abe, I thought pulling up was still months away, because he always takes his sweet time doing anything. But yesterday he stood up at his piano.

Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Abe, unfortunately, has become very difficult to photograph lately. You get out your camera, or your phone, or some other digital recording device, and he immediately stops whatever cute/amazing/milestoney thing he is doing and tries grab the it.

Thus, we have a lot of photos that look something like this:

Or a little like this:

Every once and a while, however, stars align, babies cooperate, and you get THE shot. It might be blurry, it might be poorly composed, but it proves without any doubt that it DID happen.

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A Recipe!

Gosh, I’m not very good at this, am I? As always, life gets in the way, I’d rather watch “Teen Mom” than write a blog post, etc., etc.

In my quest to become a world-famous mommy blogger (if you are wondering how that is going, see above), I have been studying other mommy blogs. If you want to feel inadequate, read some of these blogs. Somehow they manage to prepare wholesome meals chock full of ancient grains and heirloom vegetables straight from the garden, sew their own baby wipes, bake bread with hand-milled flour, tend to their farm animals, crochet matching hats for their five kids, and create enriching and stimulating children’s activities using everyday objects from around the house. Oh yeah, and then they exquisitely photograph it all and write regular blog posts about it.

Their houses must be very messy. That’s what I tell myself. I will never measure up, and I’m not even going to try. But I was very proud of myself for creating my very own toddler-friendly pesto recipe. Using basil fresh from our garden, natch. I had never made pesto before, and I wanted something nut-free, since we haven’t introduced nuts yet. After reading some recipes, I deduced that there was no real science to it–you just throw some basil in a food processor with some other stuff, and out comes pesto. Then I came up with the brilliant idea of substituting spinach for some of the basil. I’m always trying to get Abe to eat spinach, you see. Spinach is one of the few things he will not eat, and I’m not one to turn down a challenge.

I serve it with whole wheat pasta and some sauteed peppers. Here is a not-so-exquisite photograph:

We have a fancy camera and one of those lenses that makes the background blurry, but I don’t know how to use it. See how random parts of the photo are blurry? I don’t know.  I’m sure there is some editing stuff I could do, too, but who has time to learn all that crap? Dozens of mommy bloggers, apparently.

Abe likes the pesto, though. That’s all that counts!

Toddler Pesto

Note: Does not contain actual toddlers.

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup cooked spinach (I squeeze out as much water as possible)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

Throw the basil, spinach, cheese, and garlic in your food process and process until smooth. Then slowly add the olive oil with the processor running until it reaches your desired consistency. I freeze it in an ice cube tray and find that one cube is the perfect amount for a toddler-sized serving of pasta.

Don’t get used to it. This is likely the only recipe I will ever post.

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A Confession

So, with Abe crawling all over the place, I am trying really hard to keep the floors clean. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I got it in my head that keeping the floors clean would be easier if I used a Swiffer rather than the vacuum, broom, and mop. I hate the concept of the Swiffer and everything it stands for. I hate that you throw away a piece of it every time  you use it, when a broom and a mop can be used over and over again! How wasteful. What a scam, really, that a company would sell a product so clearly designed to force you to keep spending money. But but. The Swiffer is so small and lightweight. I can keep it in the pantry instead of having to lug it and all its accessories up from the basement. It’s so easy to use on the stairs! And I don’t have to fill and empty a bucket.

I believe the real reason that Swiffering seems easier than sweeping and mopping, however, is because I always think of it as just Swiffering. As in, I’m just Swiffering, so I don’t need to move the furniture or scrub that weird spot or get into that corner where nobody ever goes anyway. I’ll take care of the dust bunnies under the couch when I clean FOR REAL. Next time. Eventually. When does Steve get home again?

But really, if I do a halfhearted Swiffer just about every day, there has got to be some point at which the entire floor is clean. Right?

Of course, the obvious solution is to just sew Abe some arm and leg warmers out of Swiffer pads and let him do all the work.

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Stormy Weather

We survived Hurricane Irene! Or rather, Tropical Storm Irene, as it was known by the time it hit us. We didn’t lose power and we have no destruction to report, other than a messy yard and a downed apple tree. Given that our neighbors’ soccer nets and plastic playhouses are still standing, I’d wager that the apple tree’s demise was due more to its age and frailty than the storm’s strength. We went for a walk this evening and there was a big plant blocking the sidewalk, and I was all OMG HURRICANE DAMAGE, but it turns out it was just an overgrown weed.

Other parts of our town didn’t fare as well. There are downed power lines and giant tree limbs all over the place, so a bunch of roads are closed. Whoever did the road closings didn’t put much thought into all the ways people might encounter said closed roads. We were trying to drive to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and kept having to turn around because we would come across barricaded streets with no warning and no suggestion for a detour. Apparently, some people will be without power for another day or possibly two! I am so grateful for our working electricity. It’s not hot out, but I have the air conditioners on full blast to show my appreciation. No power is fun for an hour or two. You can pretend you are camping, without the bugs or having to be outdoors. And with toilets! I could go on about the pros of pretending to be camping inside while your power is off for an hour or two. But for days? No thanks. I was totally prepared to eat all the ice cream in the freezer, however.

The reason we were going to the doctor was to meet a possible new pediatrician for Abe. I remember when I was pregnant, I saw an ad in the paper announcing this doctor had joined a practice in our town and was accepting new patients. I was all, Perfect! until I noticed that she got her medical degree in Albania. No offense to any Albanians reading this, but I thought, Albania. Interesting. I’m not sure, but I don’t think Harvard Medical School is in Albania*. So I found a different doctor. But things have changed, and now my number one criterion for a pediatrician is not being a jerk. And she fits the bill! We are probably going to switch.

*Well, I did have a really long commute when I worked there.

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Abe is crawling all over the place, and boy does he LOVE it! Winnie, on the other hand, isn’t so thrilled. I don’t think she realized that this thing would be able to chase after her some day.

I’m so happy he is making progress, but it does make me a little sad that he has to work so hard. Other babies figure things out just by being babies. They don’t have to play a certain way, or do exercises, or see a physical therapist a few times a month. I just want things to be easy for him. But, as my wise husband points out, Abe doesn’t know that he is behind. As far as Abe knows, everything is happening just when it is supposed to. It’s really hard, particularly as a first-time mom, not to project my sadness and expectations onto him, and I have to keep reminding myself that those feelings are all mine. Abe is not sad that he only just started crawling at 12-and-a-half months, and he certainly had no expectations otherwise.

I’m also very self-conscious about his limitations. It probably sounds ridiculous, but at Little Gym, for instance, I can’t help but wonder if the other mothers are judging me because Abe can’t do things that the other babies can do. I wonder if they blame me, assume that I just keep him in a high chair or his crib all day, assume that it must be something I’m doing wrong. I know mothers who have had babies who were a little late on their milestones, and I know people who gossiped about and blamed those mothers for their babies’ delays. So I’m not totally crazy. I wish I could be the sort of person who isn’t bothered by those kinds of things. But I’m not.

A few days ago, I posted a video of Abe crawling to Flickr and sent it to family and friends. Normally I make photos and videos on Flickr public, and it automatically puts a link on Facebook, but I made this video private. I worried that someone who doesn’t know me well, who doesn’t know our story or know how hard we are working with Abe, might watch it and think, “Wait, isn’t her baby over a year old? And he is only now crawling? What is wrong with him? What is wrong with her?”

But I need to get over that, because you know what? Abe is right on track according to the Abe Milestone Chart. Abe’s okay with that, I need to be okay with that, and everybody else is going to have to be, too.

So, without further ado, I present: Abe crawling.

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Back by Popular Demand

I haven’t been writing. No kidding. But a few people have asked me about the blog recently, so I thought I’d see if I could get started again.

There are a few reasons I have been quiet. Life, of course, tends to get in the way. But mostly, I stopped writing because I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about certain things, and I didn’t feel like I could be honest about that on the blog, which is, if not read by, at least available to a wide swath of people: friends, people from my past, former colleagues, family. I had started writing the blog in a chipper tone, and I felt like I had to keep that smile plastered on my face, no matter what. I had dug myself into a hole of cheerfulness, if there is such a thing, and I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable making myself vulnerable by sharing other feelings like fear, worry, or sadness to all those people.

How quaint, right? Everybody shares EVERYTHING on the Internet these days! So, if you don’t mind if I indulge in the occasional gloomy post, I will try to write on a more regular basis.

Now, I’ve probably made things seem a lot worse than they are. Really, life is good, but there were two things stressing me out over the past few months. The first is that the house has not sold. We have lowered the price several times and are now in the process of switching realty agents. I will talk more about that some other time.

The other worry, which isn’t as worrisome anymore, was Abe’s development. You may recall he was a bit behind on his gross motor skills, but his doctor wasn’t concerned and I tried to accept the fact that he was simply on his own timeline, even though there was a little voice in the back of my head that kept insisting something wasn’t quite right.

But then we joined Little Gym. On the first day of class, I noticed that all the babies, including the very young ones, like four to five months old, would stand in their mommy’s laps. The mommies were holding them up, but they would stand. Abe, already the oldest in the class at 11 months, did not do that. Sometimes, if he felt like indulging me, he would put his feet down for a few seconds and immediately sink down jelly-leg style, but he would not do anything that resembled standing. Most of the time he just picked his feet up and refused to put them down altogether.

I expected Abe to be a little behind the oldest babies in the class, but the fact that babies months younger had this skill that Abe did not was, to be honest, a little shocking. As a first-time mom, I had no idea babies were supposed to do that. I had assumed Abe could bear weight on his legs because he would jump in the Jumperoo, but the difference between Abe and the other babies in this respect was stark.

I made an appointment with the pediatrician to discuss it. The doctor said that he wasn’t worried, but if I was I could call Early Intervention. Long story made a tiny bit shorter, Abe was determined to have low tone and he qualified for services.  He had his first physical therapy appointment, today, in fact! He has made so much progress in just a few short weeks. He is crawling on hands and knees a little bit more each day, and he is starting to pull up on his knees (although his PT wants him to focus on crawling for now).

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. We also celebrated Abe’s first birthday, he got six more teeth, his eczema is clearing up, and he has eaten (and thoroughly enjoyed) peanut butter!

This post was very boring and expository (Yeah, I did just say “expository.” Gotta use that MFA somehow). I will make more of the hilarious, provocative, fascinating posts you are used to starting…next time!

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