Lovin’ spoonful

She’s been aching for it. Yearning for it. Grabbing for it whenever it’s within reach. And finally, after more than a month of pursuit, Maddi has finally gotten her heart’s desire — a big bowl of real food!

Technically, of course, her first meal was half of the price tag on a fuzzy new plaything, which she devoured in the span of about 30 seconds as we were strolling through Toys ‘R’ Us about three weeks ago with that new toy foolishly placed in her grasp. She of course ate only the UPC number, rendering her Tiny Love peach unscannable.

And we must confess there have been moments of weakness when Chris and I have offered her “tastes” of table food in response to her agitation over not being fed like the rest of us, but nothing actually got in her mouth.

But tonight, new spoon in the diaper bag, we headed over to Nana’s for a delicious turkey dinner. Maddi, seated in her high chair, seemed oblivious to the fact that today was the day when, rather than being taunted by people noisily eating tantalizing treats (followed by loud expressions of “Mmmmm!” by us and frantic lip-licking by our hilarious daughter), she would finally be eating along with everyone else. And it’s about time, as she recently quit sleeping through the night in favor of eating every two hours.

Big sister Kaija got to do the honors first. She dipped the spoon into Maddi’s little dessert cup of homemade applesauce and brought it toward Maddi’s mouth. Our little girl, even though many spoons have been brought experimentally toward her mouth only to be snatched away when folks realize she’s actually going to go for the ice cream (what can we say, we’re mean!), optimistically opened her eager little jaws — and this time, she was rewarded with delicious REAL FOOD! The novelty wore off quickly. Instead of tasting it and ruminating over the flavor, she gulped her food down and quickly opened wide for seconds. And thirds. And fourths. And twenty-fifths.

All told, we dispensed about a half-cup of applesauce, and by my estimates, at least two-thirds of it ended up in the baby. Quite the first meal!

As we suspected based on Maddi’s feelings about food since the day she arrived on this Earth, she was quite taken with the new gastronomic experience. Maddi’s not a picky baby. She doesn’t care whether she gets Mommy or the bottle, a sippy cup or a sip from a big cup — as long as she’s fed, she’s fine. Still, it was quite amusing and a little surprising to see how excited she was about the food.

As if to say “More, more! Faster, faster!” our wee one squealed, panted and gesticulated wildly, flapping her outstretched arms toward the applesauce with her mouth open like a starving baby bird. At one point, people were paying too much attention to their own food and not enough to hers, and Maddi somehow got a hand on her bowl and came within a half-inch of burying her face in the dish like a little doggie.

As her meal drew to a close, her tummy no doubt full to bursting after ingesting that unholy amount of food, Maddi’s mood waned. The excitement of FINALLY getting that long-awaited first meal had stimulated our wee baby beyond her breaking point, and she was done for the day.

But tomorrow is a new day — a day with more applesauce and more flapping. I hope it will also be a day preceded by a night spent sleeping soundly with a full tummy, although, as I type this, Maddi has been talking to herself in bed for half an hour (probably practicing the words “More applesauce, please”).

It’s sad to think that our sweet little daughter, whose birth seems as if it happened just yesterday, is starting solid food. Pretty soon, she’ll be crawling and next thing we know, she’ll be getting on the bus to go to kindergarten.

For now, though, she’s still our little baby, just 25 weeks old and still a messy eater.

And here’s our little flapper all dolled up for Halloween:

Points of interest

Not so very long ago, little Maddux’ hands existed only for the purpose of scratching her eyes out in a reckless and uncoordinated manner. It seemed like forever before she held them at arm’s length, gazed at them in her trademark wide-eyed intensity, and finally reached for that first toy.

After that, of course, things snowballed. First she was reaching for the animals on her mobile, and then for toys and familiar faces. Pretty soon, she started trying to swipe food and drink from unsuspecting family members. They say that the postpartum estrogen plunge causes hair loss, but I have a theory of my own on how all that hair ends up on the floor, and it has a lot more to do with grabby little hands than it does with telogen effluvium.

This week, after weeks of clutching at hair, fingers, toys and food, Maddi has moved on to bigger and better things: namely, pointing.

Now, I am not trying to claim that our daughter curls her last three fingers inward and extends the index finger. Her method of pointing currently resembles a gimpy starfish, in that her index finger is usually out the furthest, but the others are outstretched too.

Now you would think that Maddi would point at something that she knew and loved, such as foodstuffs or a cat. But no, the first thing she signalled at was her grandparents’ bird, Billy, who is fond of screeching over any noise in the house and has been known to fly into the occasional homicidal frenzy.

I thought it was a fluke, but then tonight we were playing on the floor and she started fussing. I picked her up, but she continued fussing and then pointed to her pacifier, which I’d removed for tummy time.

Of course, if she can actually reach something on her own, she’s definitely a do-it-yourselfer. Tonight, as I was giving her a bath, she expertly snatched her rubber duckie from the bubbles and gleefully indulged in a big mouthful of foam. Let me tell you, it’s hard to tell a baby “We don’t eat bubbles” with a straight face at the best of times, but forget about it when she has a slick mohawk and a full Santa beard and is biting the head off a bird with unparalleled gusto.

Our daughter still scratches herself now and again, but for the most part her hands are always busy with baby work. She’s been practicing handling a ball (usually losing the slippery toy when she tries to hug and bite it at once) and holding a sippy cup (same problem).

She pets the housecats now, although we are ever vigilant in our efforts to thwart the inevitable fur-pulling attempts. There is the ever-pressing initiative to rid all adults of hair before 2006, and let’s not forget the equally-important task of exploring the inside of Mommy’s nose (I guess her rationale is that I pick hers, so she should return the favor). I suspect that within the week, she will point at more objects and probably find new things to suddenly snatch and insert in her mouth.

This week was another bittersweet milestone for us, as pointing is one of her very first ways of communicating like an adult (although I am almost positive she cried “Moomoo” specifically AT ME when I put her down for her nap today, and Nana swears that Maddi says “Hi”!). Pretty soon, she will be saying words that everyone can hear — not just the delusional mommy and grandmas — and maybe, if she ever decides to use those hands for more than pointing and snatching, she’ll even use some of the sign language I’ve been trying to teach her.

And here is the latest picture of our grabby little 24-week-old:

Take a seat

In the past two weeks, our wee daughter has gone from a bored baby to an inquisitive infant. Now that little Maddux has figured out this sitting thing, a new world has opened up in front of her.

It used to be that, in order to play with toys, Maddi had to coax someone to dangle something interesting overhead. To survey her surroundings, she needed to be held upright by some kind adult. Not anymore! With her new found independence, Maddi has become — if it’s possible — an even happier, more fun-loving baby than she was before.

Within two or three days of that first wobbly sit, Maddi began perching like a pro. She quickly began sitting for 15 and 20 minutes at a stretch, happily playing in her playpen with exciting new toys that only big girls who sit up by themselves can enjoy — pop beads, stacking rings and chime balls.

Her stroller now glides about with her facing forward in an upright position, which allows her to grin out gummily at random people at the mall who we don’t necessarily want to meet, but do anyway.

Now that she’s not concentrating so much on keeping her balance in the tub, Maddi has also discovered the transcendent joy of splashing busily with both arms, looking very much like a tiny maestro at the piano. She also devotes great concentration to chasing her rubber duckie around the tub, gnawing on it with gusto for the brief seconds before it shoots from her arms and the hunt begins anew.

Perhaps the most exciting offshoot of Maddi’s new skill is her ability to enjoy the theatre. No, not the cinema, silly! That’s way too loud for her baby ears. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of live performance.

Maddi has the one and only season ticket to the Playpen Theatre, Peachland’s finest animal show. The tiny audience is seated within the safety of a Graco Pack ‘N Play while an intrepid animal trainer shakes a bag of Whiskas Sensations. Within seconds, fascinating creatures known as house cats are crunching and munching their treats within mere inches of Maddi’s little “theatre box.” Sometimes they meow. Other times, they gaze back curiously at the wide-eyed, smiling baby. Either way, it makes for good entertainment.

Of course, sitting is not so entertaining when the poor baby eventually topples over, especially when it is the first pain she’s experienced not related to gas bubbles, vaccinations or teething. And especially when her neglectful mommy is not there to cushion her fall and feels compelled to check her constantly for the next 24 hours to make sure she isn’t concussed. (The nurses on the medical hot line apparently had never been called regarding an infant falling over from a sitting position and bumping its head; I’m not sure whether that means I’m the first mom whose little one hit the carpet, or just the first mom whose imagination conjured up the horrors of closed head injuries and consulted three different medical professionals. Incidentally, after a call to the hot line, a rebuffed attempt to visit the ER, and a quick visit to the doctor, Maddux didn’t even have a bruise.)

The dreadful combination of negligent AND neurotic mothering aside, Maddi has been having an absolute ball as an upright baby. She sits on beds, on couches, on floors and in her playpen. She plays with toys, sucks her hands, watches cats and smiles up at her parents. She doesn’t want to lie down, she doesn’t want to sit in her Bumbo, and she doesn’t want us to hold her. She wants to do it herself! If ever there was a happy baby, it’s our wee one in her favorite position.

To celebrate Maddi’s 24-week anniversary, here’s a publicity still from the hit show, “Look! Kitties!”

And here she is working on her next skill — standing!


As Maddi moves ever closer to that six-month mark, she is more and more excited about eating food. She’s gone from watching me drink juice to trying to grab it from me. (Not only that; if I pour myself a glass far enough away to keep my beverage safe, our hungry daughter can be heard emitting a series of frantic “eh-eh-eh”s and waving her hands angrily in the direction of my cup.) And once, when I was eating ice cream at Nana’s with Maddi in my lap, I jokingly brought the spoon toward Maddi’s face. With at least eight inches to go, Maddi opened wide in anticipation. Despite the fact that she has never eaten anything, let alone junk food, she looked so disappointed when she figured out she wasn’t getting any of my treat.

For now, however, she seems to be doing just fine on Mommy’s milk. A few days back, I was writing down her five-month statistics in her baby book. As I reminisced on months past, I noticed a trend. While Maddi’s height has varied from the 50th percentile to the 90th, each month, her weight remains in the 90th percentile or higher (usually higher). Clearly, this is not a starving baby.

Be that as it may, we are beginning to work on transitioning her into the dining room. For the last week, we have taken our meals in the breakfast nook, accompanied by Maddi in her high chair. Today, we brought out her big sister Kaija’s old sippy cups and put them through the dishwasher. In the coming days, we will give her a small cup of pumped milk so she can participate in “dinner” at the table with Mommy and Daddy rather than sitting in the high chair growing increasingly frustrated at the fact that everyone is eating except for her. And in a few short weeks, our not-so-tiny-anymore daughter will eat her very first spoonful of rice cereal.

But for now, even though she’s incredibly curious, she doesn’t really know what she’s missing. Otherwise, we could not have eaten Chris’ amazing turkey dinner tonight, on Canadian Thanksgiving, while Maddi was content to nurse just 18 inches away from the tastiest stuffing, sweet potatoes and most juicy turkey imaginable. It’s Maddi’s first and last “food holiday” during which she won’t be sampling the delights of the season.

Just because she didn’t enjoy the bountiful Thanksgiving feast doesn’t mean she didn’t play an important part in the festivities, though. Not only did she help provide the entertainment, she also served as our only Thanksgiving decoration.

Here’s our little turkey showing her true colors.

Sitting pretty

It seems like just yesterday I was anxiously awaiting the go-ahead to start pushing. In reality, it has been five whole months. For me, it’s flown by as I scramble to stay on top of my to-do lists, maintain our battery supply lest Maddi’s swing be stilled, and keep the house from descending into such chaos that Chris will be forced to take a week off to unearth me from the floor-to-ceiling laundry in our room (OK, it only took him an afternoon!). There’s never enough time in a day, and it doesn’t seem there have been many days in the last five months. But for Maddi, these five months have been, quite literally, a lifetime.

Maddi has accomplished many things in her short life. Lately, our little darling has been working on her gross motor skills. (I contend that smearing spitup on people, at which she’s quite proficient, qualifies as a “gross” motor skill, but my baby books say it’s a fine motor skill. Well, it’s not so fine with me, but whatever!)

No sooner did she figure out how to sit up with assistance than Maddi began working on removing Mommy and Daddy from the equation. For a few weeks, she’s been pulling herself up to a sitting position when I try to lay her in her baby swing. Instead of cuddling back against my abdomen and chest while reading her bedtime story, she’s been eagerly pulling forward so she can use her gross fine motor skills to wipe curdy gobs of slobber on the pages of her favorite books.

So it shouldn’t have surprised me yesterday when I noticed that, while I was technically holding her as she sat and played with her toys, she was actually sitting on her own.

Sure enough, when I folded up a big crocheted blanket until it was nice and soft and plopped the wee one in the middle, she managed to hold her balance for about 15 or 20 seconds. I tested and retested. It was not a fluke.

Without a toy, Maddi can sit on her own for quite some time. With a toy, it’s a bit shorter because she gets excited, but she still holds her own. Of course, when I brought Chris in to see what his little girl could do, her new skills vanished. She can barely contain herself when he is in the room, and his presence proved far too exciting for our wee princess to be able to concentrate on her balance.

Less exciting for most people, but very thrilling to me, is Maddi’s final accomplishment of the back-to-front roll. She did it once on accident, many weeks back, and was shell-shocked by the unexpected tummy time. She never rolled onto her tummy again.

I tried everything I could think of to get Maddi on her front and keep her there. Mirrors were used to no avail. The flaps on her Gymini’s floor? Worthless! Getting face-to-face with our wayward wee one was an exercise in futility. The second she had the opportunity to roll onto her back, she did it in a flash.

As you might have guessed based on my conviction while pregnant that my failure to complete a French memo board for her room would result in our daughter’s becoming homeless and drug-addicted as an adult, I was convinced that the worst would happen: Poor Maddi, so traumatized by her hatred of tummy time, would never learn to roll over. She would then fail to learn to crawl, which of course would lead to her never learning to walk. I envisioned her at two years old being rejected from nursery school because she’d still be getting around by pushing off against things with her feet. I pictured her scooting up the halls of her university on her bottom. The scenario seemed pretty bleak in terms of Chris and me being able to enjoy our golden years.

But — lucky me! — we live in Canada, where the public health unit has weekly sessions in which experts answer questions from parents about these puzzling young creatures in charge of whom we have found ourselves. On Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to talk to the infant-development expert, who gave me some tips on getting Maddi to roll over.

Tonight, I lured her onto her side using her beloved banana toy. Then I moved it just out of reach so that she would have to roll onto her tummy. And what do you know? Apparently, that silly toy was all the incentive she needed. Not only did she roll onto her tummy, our little one actually stayed there for a few minutes while I praised her to the skies.

So, all of you who were worried about her grim future, you can rest easy now! (OK, so maybe it was just me.)

So some things took a little longer than I had thought they would, and others have sneaked up on me way too quickly.

Not least of which is the fact that my tiny baby is now fast approaching her half-birthday. And yet, somehow, the laundry is never done and my to-do list has only gotten longer. And there are always more batteries to buy.

And here it is: A picture of our proud 5-month-old sitting all by herself.