You're in the Jungle, Baby!

Greg's Christmas wish came true. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock appeared under the tree, thanks to my sister and parents. (For those who don't know, Guitar Hero III is basically karaoke for the guitar.) As the box promises, Greg's inner rock legend has been unleashed. It's hard to describe the inner rock legend of a white intellectual property lawyer. If you picture a caught carp jerking on the line, you will have some idea of what he looks like jamming out in our living room. Our house sounds like a college dorm. Remember the floor with the guys rocking out to hair bands of the '80's at all hours? That dorm. On the plus side, turns out that Baby C's a big GNR fan.

Baby C's first ten weeks earned her a spot on Santa's nice list--and on the lists of her very generous grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Kudos to the brilliant and hilarious Eugene, who somehow found her a tea set made in Denmark. Even better: he found New Mommy a nice bottle of Scotch. Which is especially lovely in light of Guitar Hero III.

My Hero

The drama! "It's the only thing I want!"
The unbridled excitement! "Do you think I'll get it?"
The anticipation! "Puh-leeze, can't we open just one gift early?"

Christmas is truly magical when you're a full-grown man with Guitar Hero III on your wish list.


As a little girl, I hated dressing my dolls - it was impossible getting the clothes over their heads and their arms through the armholes. (My Malibu Barbie attended all functions in her turquoise-blue bikini.) As a New Mommy, I find dressing Baby C fraught with the same concerns. I've been dodging the issue by keeping her in sleepers 90% of the time.

My lack of fashion dexterity aside, anything other than pajamas seems intellectually dishonest - let's face it: sleeping remains Baby C's activity of choice. On a recent trip to the post office, however, she was the only little one not decked out in some sort of outfit. A baby in front of us snoozed in team jersey with little sneakers, and a baby behind us chortled in corduroy overalls. I adjusted Baby C’s blanket so none of the other Mommies could see that my kid sported a fleece sleeper. At what age is it socially unacceptable to wear pajamas all day?

Sacred Cows

At Baby C’s last checkup, I talked to our pediatrician about delaying her inoculations by a few months, until she had a little more meat on her bones. Don't get me wrong: Baby C will get all her shots, but I'd read and researched and talked to some friends of ours who live in Europe about their immunization schedules, and—after much angst—come to the conclusion that it wouldn't hurt her or society to wait for a couple of months to start the process.

The pediatrician chastised me. He told me that there were no studies that conclusively proved that vaccines caused autism or autoimmune diseases. He told me that I should follow the schedule set forth by the Center for Disease Control and endorsed by the FDA. "You're playing with fire," he stated flatly.

I found his position somewhat weakened by the sign behind his head. It announced that the not-so-infallible FDA had recalled previously-approved children's cold medications containing antihistamines. A few days later, Merck recalled several batches of its Hib vaccine (which Baby C would have received), and Canada suspended the use of several batches of the mumps vaccine, pending further research.

I don't cite the recalls as evidence that I made the right decision; I’m still not sure what the right decision is. The not-knowing. . . that’s probably the hardest thing about parenting thus far. And I suspect there’s a lot more of it in my future.


You know those horrible parents who pace the sidelines of their kid's soccer field, yelling obscenities to the volunteer umpires and "keep your eye on the ball!" to their four year old, who is happily picking dandelions in the goal box? I'm worried that I might become one of them.

Baby C has a bouncy chair, over which arches a light display with hanging toys. When the baby hits a hanging toy, lights flash and music plays. Baby C is just starting to pick up on this - or, at least, her flailing arms sometimes hit a toy and she smiles and coos when the lights come on. This is pretty heady stuff to New Mommy--after all, three weeks ago, she'd just lay there unblinking. So, I sit next to the bouncy chair, willing her to hit the dangling parrot or chimpanzee. Sometimes she makes contact with all the force of a feather falling, and the lights don't come on. I roll my eyes, wondering aloud why they (and don't ask me who "they" are) just can't give it to her. "I mean, c'mon. She hit the parrot, anyone can see that."

It's a slippery slope from the side of the bouncy chair to the side of the soccer field, but I hope to get a grip before she toddles through her first game. I suppose those crazed parents on the sidelines started in the same place, though: thrilled by the idea that their child is learning and growing, and wanting somehow to be part of every amazing minute.


I had a brainstorm that all the little girls on our Christmas list should get tea sets. None of them have tea sets, and I believe that all of them should. The only problem with my perfect idea is that all of the china tea sets are made... in China. It seems like a bad idea to give a kid a toy that says "Made in China" this year. Unfortunately, this rather limits my options. There's only so many wooden toys carved by the Amish out there, and they've already been bought by other paranoid parents. I suppose it would be even worse form to give the little girls my default gift, which is a nice bottle of Scotch?


Time stopped when Baby C was born. In my head, it was still mid-October until a Christmas commercial during Desperate Housewives heralded the truth: December 25 was only three weeks away and I hadn't bought a single present. And lo, it came to pass. On Monday, I bundled up Baby C for our first trip to the mall.

Baby C did fine as I wandered aimlessly about the rows of reduced cashmere, but I started to get overwhelmed. It has been months since I set foot in a mall. Even with all my wits about me, I'm a reluctant shopper. Add a stroller, a baby, and a blank Christmas list, and it's pretty ugly.

Baby C eventually wearied of my indecision and demanded food, so we headed to the Nordstrom's Lounge, which I'd heard was an oasis for breastfeeding mothers. I changed her, fed her, and then tried helplessly to console her. Apparently, the realization that her mommy was a crap shopper was pretty upsetting. Other mothers came into the lounge to change their cherub-like babies, took one look at screaming, red-faced Baby C and backed out as quickly as their Bugaboo strollers permitted.

After three full cycles of the Nordstrom's Christmas music track, Baby C relaxed. I headed to the coffee bar to develop a shopping strategy over a decaf latte.

"That'll be $6.16," chirped the barista.

"Really? That's one expensive latte," I said.

"It's for the latte plus the bottle of water you took," she said.


Sure enough, I had absentmindedly taken a bottle of water from the cooler and put it in the stroller's cup holder. Red-faced, I apologized profusely, paid the $6.16, and high-tailed it out of the coffee bar and back into the Nordstrom's.

That's when the security sirens went off. The barista craned over the counter to see. We both wondered what else I'd tried to steal. Turns out that my cell phone set the alarm off, but the barista didn't look convinced. Baby C looked like she wanted to die from embarrassment.

We went home before I could get into any more trouble, and I reviewed my paltry purchases. For all that time and effort, all I had to show was a latte and a turtleneck from BabyGap. And a bottle of water, of course.

Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-- Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Baby C had an eventful day. Her cousin, 7 month old Baby E, came to visit from Boston this week with her parents. The babies played Tag Team Nap and were rarely awake at the same time, which made getting out of the house challenging. Getting out of the house is somewhat overrated anyway, when car seats and nursing schedules and changing toxic diapers away from home are considered. Nonetheless, Greg and I felt like slacker hosts after four days of solid sofa time, so we crammed in a quick visit to the Air and Space Museum before their flight home.

Baby C's first Smithsonian visit consisted of sleeping through one exhibit and nursing for 45 minutes in a food court next to a table of older children who were throwing ketchup. New Mommy gazed down at her sweet baby and reflected that, as exhausting as parenting an infant can be, at least they lack the motor skills to throw condiments. Later, in the gift shop, a crowd of Japanese tourists circled Baby C's stroller and snapped pictures of the cooing American baby (with Greg's permission - I was contemplating the merits of freeze-dried ice cream and was mildly horrified to hear what transpired).

At home, however, Baby C's sweet mood gave way to rebellion. Her tiny fingers are still clenched into fists, but she is quiet at last after hours of swaddling, singing, feeding and bouncing. Our ears are still ringing. I'm beginning to think that flying ketchup might not be so bad.