Monthly Mara Letter: Month ten

Dear Mara,

You turned 10-months-old this month. You’re now in the double digits. This is but one of many previous and soon-to-be experienced milestones in this thing called life. You won’t remember this day because, well, you’re drunk half the time. But in all seriousness, I think the National Institute of Microperson Rememberization states that babies don’t really start remembering life events until they’re somewhere around 5-years-old, which gives your mom and me plenty of time to do some serious damage and can pass the blame onto you when your therapist asks why you’re so “unique.”


This month you figured out to wave hello and goodbye. It’s cute because you’re quirky with your waves. You open and close your fingers with your right hand to wave, and you lift your left hand up and down to wave at us. Sometimes it takes a little coercing to get you to wave, and one of us invariably has to sit there and wave at you to get a response wave from you. Sometimes, if one of us peeks into the bedroom after you’ve woken from a nap and you’re standing there in your playard, you’ll see us and immediately start waving. It’s cute to watch you figure out how to use both of your hands independently. It’s looking like you’re going to be right-handed.

IMG_2141When you’re not being all cute and perfect and angelic, you’ll have a spell where you get really upset about something. Usually it’s because you’ve bonked your head, smashed your fingers, the cat bit you or you just need the close company of mom or dad. In these infrequent cases, you’ve learned to stick out your bottom lip in such a pitiful yet precious way that always warrants one of us picking you up and talking to you to make that pouty bottom lip (as cute as it is) go away.

You’ve also taken a keen interest to music this month. For the last six months or so, I’ve been really bad about not listening to music. This month I’ve made it a point to open iTunes or Pandora whenever the opportunity presents itself and play some likable and danceable playlist. You’ll stop whatever it is you’re doing, look at me and, if you’re standing up, you’ll immediately start bending your knees and bobbing to the beat. If you’re sitting, you’ll usually lift your arms to your side and rock back and forth on your butt to the beat.

This month you’ve started recognizing sounds and you often attempt to imitate them. We call the cat by making these click click noises with a tongue and top of the mouth. Whenever you hear this, you try to imitate the noise by parting your lips and making a smack smack noise. More recently you started imitating the sound of me giving your mom a kiss goodnight by making the same smack smack noise. As I’m walking off to my bedroom, your eyes will follow me and before I get to the door, you’ll wave to me and make kissy noises.


And then there’s the grin. Words can’t express the awesomeness that is this grin. It evolves every month. It’s infectious.


I love you so much, Mars. Every hour, every day, every month brings us new joys and happiness as we watch you experience and take in your world. Don’t ever stop being exactly who you are.

I love you, Sugar.


No monsters


Last night she came home and told me about the Monster Club. She and two of her classmates had a discussion yesterday and are fairly certain that monsters come out from within the closet or under the bed at night while they sleep. The plan was to perform a test. Counted kibbles of cat food would be left under the bed. If any of the cat food went missing, we’d know we have a monster problem.

She told me about this plan, and her concerns with having monsters in her bedroom. And the way in which she told me proved that this is a very serious and grave subject. Childhood fears can go unmatched for a lifetime, and I acknowledged, to her, the understood severity of this situation. I told her I liked her plan and course of action. I applauded and praised her for doing something instead of passively accepting what could be, and living with this element of fear.

Her mom and I told her that the cat would probably come in to her room while she was asleep and eat the cat food, thus derailing her plan. She concurred. I assured her that no monster would set foot into her room on this night. I would stand guard. I would check on her before I went to bed, just like I’ve done every night since the day we brought her home from the hospital. And I told her Beary the teddy bear would be on watch by her side all night as well.

I checked on her at midnight, just before going to bed myself. No monsters.

After staring at my daughter, sleeping peacefully for a few minutes, I decided I would make sure no monsters made it past Beary’s guard as I was going off duty for the night. I recruited the A Team of friends and placed them on guard at the foot of her bed, all facing attentively toward the closed closet door. I also installed the Monster Deterrent Tripwire System between two posts at the bottom of her bed. This is a strand of bright red yarn, pulled taught that creates a impenetrable barrier against monsters from getting in or coming out from under her bed.

She didn’t know that I labored in the dark of night to keep her safe from monsters until I showed her my work this morning. I want her to always know that I will always be there, doing whatever I can to help protect her from monsters. It’s my job.

How to get your kids to do stuff

Maybe this is the wrong title for this post, but as it implies, I’ve a list that I’ve meaning to impart for quite some time. I don’t mean for this to be a list of how to get your child to make his bed or do the dishes – it’s more of a list of personal discoveries and victories that I have personally discovered in my job and adventure of being a parent. There’s no rhyme or reason to this list, and I may or may not update it at any given future date.

  • playskool-walk-n-rideHow to help your child develop walking skills: kids are going to learn to walk on their own eventually. For our first child, it was like she was always almost there. In my heart of hearts, I knew there was no reason to rush things along, however I was compelled to give her that little extra umph to help her along. Note: I’m one of those impatient sorts who’ll be quick to say, “Geez!… Here, let me do it for you.” So anyway: get your kid acclimated to putting one foot in front of the other with a Playskool Walk ‘n Ride. It’s a 2-in-1 jobber that acts like a push buggy for when he’s in that pre-toddler phase, and then it’s a little push scooter for when he’s old enough to keep his balance and push around on it as a little car.
  • razor-scooterHow to get your child to ride a bike: get a bike with training wheels. This will help her with the overall function of a bike and the concept of pedaling, steering and braking. Don’t rely on a bike with training wheels to help your child get a sense of balance. For my daughter, the balance came after learning to ride a Razor scooter. The Razor scooter is great because it’s adjustable to any child’s height, and it’s propelled by the child pushing with one of her feet, and therefore maintains a sense of balance and control. You’ll know when your child is getting that sense of balance when she’s going down a small inline, has both feet on the scooter’s base and is genuinely balancing herself. That’s the prime time to take the training wheels off and get her back on the bicycle.
  • magic-bulletThis is more for the parents, but thought it was a useful product tip. Baby food can be expensive. Our youngest is 10-months-old and while she’s beginning to eat soft, solid foods, we still blend/chop/puree some foods for her. Before they were on store shelves, I think you could only get these blenders from informercials. With that said, we use the hell out of our Magic Bullet blender system. It’s not one of those clunky, pitcher-style, eyesore appliances that either sits out on a countertop or takes up room in a cabinet. It’s a small & unobtrusive appliance that stays on our countertop and we use it daily. The best part is that it comes with “mugs” (I think they’re maybe 12 ounce), which are perfect for blending up smaller quantities of foods and liquids. And it comes with a bunch of lids, so you can whip up a strawberry, banana and yogurt smoothie, put a cap on it and put it in the fridge. And, of course, it comes with a pitcher, so if you’re going to make a batch of margaritas, you can do that. I’m notorious for burning up blenders, and surprisingly, the Magic Bullet has endured my abuse and keeps on trucking.
  • things-appAnother tip for parents – you’ve got to stay organized. Our oldest is in first grade now and there are always field trips, school activities, after school activities and reminders-in-general that need to be taken care of. For me personally, I rely heavily on two things: 1) iCal (native calendar that comes with your Mac) for all of our appointments and due dates. 2) Things – a mobile and desktop app to organize your “things” (your to-dos). I use both religiously and daily because I’m always either in front of a computer or have my iPhone on me so I can be reminded of upcoming appointments and events, or have quick and easy access to my to-do list.

That’s it for now. More as I experience parenthood.