Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mystery Play

For months now, the BB has done something that she clearly enjoys and I find totally mysterious.

She stands on my bed, which is next to her crib, and walks to the corner of the crib, always the same one. Then, she picks up some invisible object from the corner of the crib, walks back to me, and deposits the invisible thing into my hair. If I thank her for it, she will smile happily. Then she does it again. And again.

She'll also do it to her father, and yesterday she took the object and apparently deposited it on the head of someone else, not visible to me, but about two feet to side of me.

She used to announce 'ba-BEE!' when she did this, and I still occasionally hear 'Ba!'. I mention this because my MIL mentioned that children often play with spirits, and wondered if any older woman in the family had been called something like that. And of course, they were. My mother is 'Bubbe' to her, and as my mother points out, many generations before her would so identify themselves if they were asked by a little child.

I'm not superstitious. I swear. I just don't quite know what she's doing. My own notion is that the gesture seems as though she's picking flowers and then decorating us with them, but it may not represent that to her at all. I don't know if she's ever done that in real life. I also don't know why flowers only grow on one corner of her crib.

As my husband points out, by the time she's able to tell us what it means, she probably won't remember.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

What Happened To Unisex Overalls?

The Baby Balabusta has spent pretty much her entire eighteen months being misgendered more or less constantly. Today, at Target, the lady ran a couple of little dresses over the scanner, and asked me, "Oh, do you have a little girl as well?"

"She's the little girl," I explained, indicating BB, who was sitting in the cart. The woman looked extremely startled. "Oh. Oh, she's a girl!" She hastened to explain to me that one of her daughters is fond of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

BB has finally got enough hair that she looks as though she has a cute little pixie cut. (We have not cut it--I'm planning to wait until she's three, and give her a nice upshirin, to make up for the fact that we totally dropped the ball on naming ceremonies.) Today she was wearing small capri stretch jeans, a long-sleeved Batman shirt, and the Thomas the Tank Engine sneakers she got as hand-me-downs from a friend's son.

She's tall for her age, and sturdy, but I don't think that would be enough to identify her as male so consistently. The hair is a lot of what says 'boy' to people, the clothes are a lot of it. Her hand-me-downs at her present size are mostly from boys. Additionally, both I and the Balebos have tended to buy boy's clothes for her. There are reasons for this. The Balebos tends to get her clothes he would wear himself, from nice polo shirts in sober colors to Star Wars tees, and I'm afraid she might be allergic to pink glitter.

We were both startled by the extreme gendering of small children's clothes, which has, frankly, gotten the hell out of hand. I was a small girl in the 1970s, which, I realize retroactively, was some kind of golden age of unisex children's clothing. There does not appear to be any such thing as unisex children's clothing anymore.

Boy's clothes come in strong primary colors and have machines and macho animals on them, or male superheroes, or sports equipment. Girl's clothes come in a lot of pastels, and have petaled attachments and glittery images of girly animals, and Disney princesses, and a lot of stuff about shopping. Girl's pants tend to be leggings, skintight. When girls have blue jeans, or khakis, they have little touches of pink stitching here and there, just to reassure everyone.

There is sports-team themed clothing available for little girls, but it is not in the team colors, it is pink.

Both the Balebos and I had rather a negative reaction to this. Additionally, the Balebos absolutely rejected the practice of marking a baby with too little hair as a girl by putting small glittery, maribou-dripping or flowered headbands on her.

So she dresses like a teeny tomboy, and I accept that at some point she may decide that this is unacceptable.

We're starting to get the hang of shopping for a baby, and I've found some resources. Land's End has nice clothes for children,albeit mostly for older toddlers, and I was thrilled to find that they have tee-shirts for little girls with a range of graphics and colors, including, to my glee, not only outer-space themed ones, but also one that reads "NASA Crew". Clothes I can stand for my daughter are out there.

She has a few now. Her Tante Niamh bought her a small tie-dyed dress, and I found a gray one today at Target that looked like something a little girl should wear. Her father has picked out some sundresses for her. But in her daily uniform, jeans or shorts and a little tee-shirt, I continue to hear her referred to as a boy pretty much every day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

One dog. Woof!

The Baby Balabusta has a favorite book. It is Doggies, by Sandra Boynton.

Luckily we actually have two copies of this, one from Bubbe and Granddad, and one from a pen pal of the Fella's. It's lucky we have two copies, because the first copy we started with is utterly trashed from rereading and rereading and rereading.

And rereading.

"One dog. Woof!"

Those are the opening words, and the BB lights up whenever she hears them.

She's seventeen months now, and in the process of beginning to talk. Just recently, she began to bring the book to us to read and then saying "Woof!" herself. Sometimes she woofed for books that were not Doggies. We began to think that "Woof" was, to her, a verb meaning 'read this'.

Today, however, we were outside, at the park, and a man stopped nearby with his dog. "Woof!" she announced.

I think she's getting the idea.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


The Baby Balabusta has learned to give kisses.

Sort of.

She has learned that we press our mouths onto her face to express affection, and she does it back. However, she hasn't quite gotten the concept of puckering up, so her version is to come at you open-mouthed, and suction on to the side of your face. Then she licks you, for good measure.

It is very cute, and also very silly.

Monday, May 27, 2013

She rolls with a purpose

Today I put the BB down on her quilt on the floor. I showed her a toy--she's only just, at four months, starting to get interested in objects--and then I left her to her own devices, and got sucked into reading an article on the computer.

Some minutes later, whining pulled my attention back. She had, while I looked away, rolled from her back to all fours, and grabbed the toy, which she was now trying to pull toward her.

I showed it to her again, and then flipped her on her back, because she was getting tired.

A minute later, same thing.

So I put her in her bouncer seat, and we played with it together, which mostly consisted of me spinning the spinny part, and occasionally encouraging her to touch it and move it a little.

I've said that having a small child is like watching the evolution of humanity in fast speed-up motion. Having finally reached the point of seeing that this thing was interesting, she was beside herself. Her fact was rapt, and her whole body was twitching with the force of all those firing neurons. The colors! The sounds! The movement! This thing was AMAZING! Oh my God, this is the best thing ever!

Eventually she just started to short out, and cry a little. It was too much emotional energy for one sitting. I hid the Most Amazing Thing Ever under the bouncer seat, and we nursed a little. Now she is taking a nap.

Parenthood is awe-inspiring, and amazing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


The Baby Balabusta can now roll over, if you start her on her side, and let her struggle a little to get over her shoulder.


There are other things I should blog about--for example, the latest job hunt, and the amazingly awful way in which it came about, and what happened with the miscarriage, and my pregnancy with the BB. But for now, rolling will have to do.

She rolls!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Making the Baby Balabusta: Part One

A year ago, I got pregnant. Again. I tend to say that 'we' got pregnant, but the Balebos rejects that formulation. I got pregnant, he points out, he did not get pregnant. I have had to settle for 'we were expecting'.

At any rate, I got pregnant, again, a month or so after a miscarriage at nine weeks that shook me badly.

I'd never been pregnant before the pregnancy that miscarried. And I was not entirely convinced that I was going to get pregnant, not at thirty-eight, not for the first time. I obsessively pored over websites explaining how your fertility dropped off a cliff in your thirties. I reckoned the odds. I worried.

I hadn't worried much before then. All through my twenties, and into my early thirties, I told people confidently that if by the time I had my financial and emotional act together I was no longer fertile, I would adopt. By thirty-eight, however, I had realized that my financial act might never be together to an extent that would allow for adoption. If I wanted to raise children, giving birth to them might be my only option.

And so, at thirty-eight, I put my foot down. I wanted children, and I could see the end of my eggs from where I was standing. There was no more time to give to hoping for a better job situation, or paycheck. There was no more wiggle room. We were going to do this thing.

The day I took the pregnancy test and learned about my first pregnancy, I was almost manic. I had realized that I was at least two or three weeks past when my period should have begun. And I had gone to get a pregnancy test from the drugstore, while firmly convinced that I would not be pregnant. On the way home, I had a vicious imaginary argument with a doctor who was telling me that I had waited too long to have children. I marched home with the CVS bag, bawling her out in my mind, surged upstairs on a wave of pure righteous anger, and peed on the brush end of the test.

And the two lines that indicated a positive came up, so fast that I didn't even have to wait the prescribed minute.

I assumed I had done it wrong, so I waited an hour and tried again. Two lines, strong and blue.

The biology, it seemed, worked.

12 Weeks

Today, Baby Blue Jeans is twelve weeks old!

Israeli Couscous: I Have Learned Something New

Israeli couscous from Trader Joe's holds a special place in the hearts of the Bay Area's local pro-Israel activists. TJ's, bless them, have gone on stocking Israeli products in the face of considerable pressure from the BDS crowd to get them to stop. They have all kinds of lovely Israeli products. My own personal favorite is the Dorot frozen garlic cubes, but I am aware that many of my friends at one time bought a lifetime supply of Israeli coucous from Trader Joe's, to the extent that local activists were trading Israeli couscous recipes for months, desperate to use it all up.

I confess: I never bought any. The garlic cubes, yes, and matzo in season, but not the product I thought of as the 'fake couscous'. When I first became aware of this stuff, I had no idea what I was looking at. Couscous, to me, means, well, actual couscous, and in my childhood was usually eaten in the form of tabouli. It was also generally cooked and served by Israelis, adding to my bafflement--surely Israeli couscous is no different from normal couscous, I thought, puzzled. This odd stuff from TJ's, made up of little pasta balls like tiny ball bearings was a new substance altogether, and confused me. What made it Israeli? Why wasn't it actually couscous? What the heck was this?

I've learned a little more about it though, now, and I'm fascinated enough to be planning the purchase of a few boxes. It turns out that this peculiar carbohydrate is unique to Israel, and is actually a piece of Jewish history.

Let me take you back to the 1950s, when the newborn State of Israel is struggling to survive, and to feed its exploding population. Food is rationed. Immigrants and refugees from the Arab world are flooding into their ancient homeland and new haven. Rice is a staple food for these new Israelis, but it's not readily available because of the limited food supply and lack of imports.

David Ben Gurion to the rescue! Approaching the Osem company (yes, that same Osem whose tahini and matzo ball mix you still buy today), he asks them to come up with a rice substitute that can be produced in Israel. The result, called in Hebrew 'ptitim', is a baked wheat product, shaped like grains of rice, which can be boiled like pasta and served hot or cold. Dubbed "Ben Gurion's rice", it made its way into Israeli culinary history. The round balls of 'couscous' shortly followed.

Israeli couscous is currently very chic with foodies, to the amusement of Israelis, who seem to think of it as kid food. I am fascinated by its legacy. If matzo is the bread of affliction, this is the rice-substitute of the Ingathering, a tribute to Israeli ingenuity and determination to survive and thrive. I plan to learn to cook with it, and to give it a place in my kitchen, this most Zionist of foodstuffs.

Some reading: