Saturday, December 30, 2006

Free Will

Something not unlike free will is starting to happen up in here and I'll admit that I'm less than thrilled about it.

Used to be that Dash had to rely completely on us to accommodate his desires. He could wail and squirm and make himself generally unpleasant until he got what he wanted, but we always had the last word. These days, not so much.

It started when he learned to crawl, but didn't really come to a head until he was able to stand. The standing, although hampered by the fact that he had to be holding on to something to keep from tipping over, gave him greater access to forbidden things like Mommy's wine and the wipes container (which he empties with great glee about four times a day.)

One of Dash's favorite things to do since learning to stand is to help me empty the dishwasher. He likes to pull spoons and forks out of the utensil basket and try to gouge his eyes out with them. I have always been able to keep him from completely blinding himself, however, by pulling the top rack out to limit his access to the bottom. This morning he figured out that he could just push it back in and, voila, an embarrassment of forks. I know this story is less than astonishing, but I cannot express how completely unprepared I was to see him puzzle out that top rack thing. I just stood there like a moron, pulling the top rack out and watching impotently as he pushed it back in. We must have done it 30 times before it finally occurred to me to empty the goddamn utensil basket.

The final straw, though, happened a few minutes later when I glanced up from the morning paper to see him standing completely unassisted, drinking his bottle like a teensy wino in footie pajamas. I'm pretty sure he had no idea he had done it because he hasn't tried to do it again. But he's got the skill, and soon he'll be walking and that, my friends, will be the end of Dash's babyhood.

I am not prepared. Not one bit.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dash's First Christmas, Part I

You'll notice we didn't get a tree this year. We're new, but we're not stupid.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It Takes a Village

I realized today when I stopped at Dash's school to drop off the last of his teachers' Christmas gifts--last of seven, by the way. gifts for his teachers have cost as much as a week of daycare-- that they think they own him. And that I like it.

They delight in telling me about his faces and strides. I recognize their pride when they brag on his latest milestone because it's the same as mine. We all, the eight of us, cluck like mother hens about him and it feels delicious. If someone had told me that a near stranger would take symbolic ownership of my child, I would have predicted that I'd have to claw that person's eyes out. So I'm pretty surprised at how content I feel about it.

I guess it's about the fact that although these women probably wouldn't lie down in front of a bus for my child, I'll bet they'd go pretty far to protect him. To make sure he's growing strong and sturdy and doesn't spend even a moment feeling unloved.

I also learned today that Dash has joined a gang. There are four of them and they hang out in the ball pit, sqwaking and and babbling with great intensity at eachother. I'm looking into having matching satin jackets made up to make it official.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hanukkah 2006


One day, probably many years from now, I will refuse you a favor. Maybe it'll be a ride to the mall, maybe you'll want to borrow the car. Perhaps you'll want a $20 for the movies or permission to break curfew on a special occasion. But I'll say no and it'll piss you off. It'll make you even madder when I refuse you an explanation. The reason will be this: Hanukkah 2006.

That'll teach you to be an asshole when we're expecting 10 for dinner.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I saw a quote recently:
Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music. ~ William Stafford
I didn't really know what that meant until I saw that somehow you had learned to dance. You are entirely indiscriminate about what inspires your booty quake. It can be my cell phone ringtone, the Arrested Development theme song, Daddy's or my wince-inducing attempt at a tune. Truly, any time I hear anything even vaguely like music I know you will wiggle. It is spectacular.

The other night most of your favorite people came over for an early Christmas dinner. At first you were a little overwhelmed and we worried for a second that all the hubbub might be too much for you. But you rebounded and became the most charming little fucker. You stood at the coffee table, where I had put nibbles for before dinner, and ate an entire blue cheese-stuffed olive. Then you ate another one.

You eat almost like a regular person now. You still like butternut squash, but now I dice it instead of puree. You love mango and sweet potato (!) and yogurt with tahini. You'll eat pasta 75% of the time. You will not eat cheese. Not string, not cheddar. (Although I think you ate the blue cheese in the olive. What are you?) You ate broccoli the other night and seemed to be down. We'll see if you do it again. Today I bought some organic buckwheat pancake mix and am excited to see how that goes. Maybe a little apricot jam will entice you.

Your hair has grown into something of a mullet. Business in the front, party in the back. It kills your father who threatens to take you for a haircut. It will not happen under my watch. I will protect every strawberry-blond hair on your fuzzy little melon like it was an organ. There will be no visits to the barber's chair until we hear our first, "what a pretty little girl." After that all bets are off.

Speaking of, you are reddish-blond and blue eyed. Apparently you didn't get the memo that you're a Jew. I will start soon to prepare you for a lifetime of, "before you continue telling your joke I think I should let you know that I'm Jewish."

You are the best age that you've ever been. You are a riot. You laugh for any reason and have very serious discussions with the vacuum cleaner. I literally can not wait to hear what's on your mind.

I love you with the heat of the sun.


Thursday, December 07, 2006


I spent the better part of the day on Monday feeling a little sorry for myself because I wanted a pair of $600 Marc Jacobs boots but had to settle for a pair of $200 Franco Sarto boots instead.

That evening when I picked up Dash I was given a note detailing his school's participation in Operation Santa and a letter about the family Dash's classroom adopted. The mother of a 6-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy has hit hard times and can't afford to give them a Christmas this year. The little girl's teacher wrote a letter to Santa on her behalf because the idea of these kids going without broke her heart.

So, yeah.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thing learned the hard way

Here's some free advice:

No matter what you think he's capable of. No matter what you've seen him negotiate successfully into his mouth. No matter what his teachers tell you he's ready for. Do not allow your 10-month-old to feed himself steamed rice.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Only (part the second)

Close readers of this blog (hi, Josh!) may have noticed that I removed a post from a few days ago called "Only." It was my sad attempt to talk about my feelings on family size and that Dash may, could, likely will be an only child. Except that it didn't even begin to address my feelings and instead it was all "blah blah hard to get pregnant got too fat no money cry blah!." So it took it down because, my God, really? Stop whining. So I'll try again here:

Before Josh & I started trying to have a baby we always talked about two. We were both only children and although I think we were both happy and never felt a lack, the novelty of having two appealed to us. Then we started trying and it didn't work. It didn't work for two years and after countless procedures and medicated cycles and monitored follicles and blood draws and even a couple of surgeries. Every month that ended with a negative pregnancy test shaved away a little bit of hope that we would ever have even one child.

And then a miracle happened. We found the right doctor who made the right diagnosis and we got pregnant with Dash. At that point all I could think about was coming out the other side with a healthy and whole baby. I thought that if I were given the gift of this one child I would never ask for anything else ever again. I hadn't decided to never try for a second, I just knew that the stakes were lowered. No baby would be the end of the world. One baby would be plenty.

But this weekend we visited Josh's oldest friends and got to hang out with their two boys, ages four and two. These boys are quite clearly bestest friends. The enjoyment they were getting from one another's company was palpable and dazzling. Although I'm completely unused to the chaos of a two-toddler house, I found it delicious and for a moment I became so sad that Dash would likely miss out on that. Hell, that I would miss out on that. It was the first time since I got pregnant that I really, seriously considered doing it again.

Most of the time, though, I've got a shaky confidence that we have what we can handle. That Dash completes our family and that what resources we have ought to be directed solely at him. I know this seems like a freakish attitude to most, so I seek out other families who stopped at one (Parker-Brodericks, I'm looking at you) for reassurance that we're not hurting Dash by denying him a sibling. You know, if we deny him a sibling. Because the confidence? It is shaky.

I guess what I want today is to know that whatever happens, we'll be ok. That Dash will be as happy alone as he will be with a brother or sister. I want to know that any decision, if we get to make one (because I don't so much get pregnant as have medical procedures performed upon my person) is the right one. That our lives will play out without regret.

Are you fucking joking?

So, you've got a pretty good bead on my mother at this point, yes? You won't be surprised to read that she called me last week to say that she was literally unable to sleep at night because the child hadn't gotten his flu shot yet, right? See, we missed the clinic four weeks ago because, to tell the truth, we just couldn't get our shit together to get over there. Then I did a little reading about flu shots and all the crap they put in them and had a little heart attack and decided to let it simmer (i.e. do nothing).

But then my mother called and although I run a department and a family, I turn to pudding when she bosses me around and so I made the appointment for the fucking shot. Guess how long it took after the injection for my son (off of whom I had finally chipped the last of the dried snot just two days before) to be covered once again in the familiar green goo. Go on, guess.

So, two things:

1. Never again, flu shot, you bitch. Never again.
2. I am renaming this blog "Mucus," because really.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006


What? How do you read the paper?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

This is Your Birth Story

By 36 weeks you were very, very big. By 37 weeks you were ready to come out.

I got the call while I wandered the aisles at Party City, killing time until my new glasses were ready at the optometrist next door. The doctor called at 6pm to tell me to be at the hospital at 7:30 the next morning for my scheduled c-section (we always knew it would be a c-section because the same surgery that made me subfertile also made my uterus too weak to withstand contractions). I still have the note I made in my Palm Pilot for January 18, 2006 "7:30am: Have baby-North Tower/3rd floor."

The next morning we arrived at Cedars-Sinai hospital, giddy and carrying pillows and pjs, thinking we were prepared. As can only happen in Los Angeles, the nurse who checked us in was the winner of that season's The Bachelor (God, I hope you don't know what that is) and your father recognized her immediately.

I was so huge at that point that all I could think about was getting you out. It never occurred to me how much I would miss having you in there. Being able to give you a poke good morning. Freaking people out with my undulating belly. But that morning I'd had enough.

I was ushered into an operating room and given an epidural to numb me for surgery. Soon they started poking me to make sure I was numb and, it turns out, I was not. There was a quadrant on my right side that would not go numb no matter what. They jacked me full of vial after vial of Novocaine and still I could feel them poking and prodding. Somehow they started cutting anyway and when I completely freaked out that I could feel them, they jammed Nitrous over my face and, although I still had sensation, I no longer cared.

After what felt like a lifetime but was actually only a couple of hours, they pulled you out. I was so high that when the doctor said, "I see his head," all I could think was that my legs were closed and I wasn't pushing. I had forgotten that I was having a c-section.

Soon enough they brought you to me and you were beautiful. I kissed your head before they took you away again so Daddy could cut your cord. All I saw of you was your hand and I remember thinking how big it was. Your Apgar numbers were high.

You weren't immediately hale and hearty. You were taken away from me to be treated for wet lung and I didn't see you again for nine hours. They were the worst nine hours of my life. But eventually, finally, you came to us and have stayed nearby ever since. It was a long, hard day. The payoff, however, was immeasurably wonderful.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Got fire in your veins*

As I so delicately explained yesterday, Dash has been sick for one day shy of a month. It's kind of been a dance of infirmity. One day he seems better, a delightful child for all to adore. The next he is a tired, cranky, sweaty & vomity baby. You don't know what to expect from hour to hour. Except snot. There will always be snot.

The debates in our house are endless: Is he really sick or is he just teething? Is this a new illness or the same one as before? Cold? Flu? Stomach flu? Does he feel hot? Do ear thermometers do anything else? Because they certainly don't take temperatures and they really should do something.

My mother, who hovers like a hummingbird at the edge of hysteria always, crossed completely over the day we announced that Dash had his first cold. She proposed taking him out of daycare and getting a nanny because clearly his school was unable to protect him from disease. You think I'm joking. Surely I must be exaggerating. I am not.

Yesterday she was vibrating from the anxiety so hard that she was blurry. The child had been sick too long and she was either going to die from sheer agony or we were going to do something about it. So I took him to Urgent Care.

Now, I don't know if you've ever been to Urgent Care anywhere in the city of Los Angeles. If you haven't, let me explain what it's like. You walk into a cramped, filthy room--usually in a strip mall-- and sign in. You will then proceed to wait for four to six hours among a rotating cast of about 100 of the city's great unwashed. You will, if you persevere, see a doctor eventually who will likely prescribe you a medication and tell you to visit your g.p. during business hours. It will be six hours of waiting for 60 seconds of care.

And this is how it went yesterday, in the Los Angeles suburb of Valencia. We walked in to a clean and well-lighted lobby where maybe 6 people were waiting. I signed in and found they already had Dash's information on file because they're affiliated with his pediatrician. We were called after about three minutes and Dash's vitals were taken by a sweet nurse who cooed at the baby and flattered his mother. She did not look at me like I was insane for bringing a baby with a cold to what amounts to an e.r. We were delighted to hear that Dash's regular pediatrician was staffing Urgent Care that night, and when he saw us he remembered that Dash seemed to be getting over a cold when he last saw him three weeks ago. He played with the baby a little, gave him a thorough once-over, discovered an ear infection, calmed us down and sent us on our way with a couple prescriptions. The entire process, including drive time, was 45 minutes.

That right there makes three hours a day in the car worthwhile.

Dash has had two doses of the antibiotic and already seems to be feeling better.

*a 50 cent piece goes to the person who can tell me why that's the title of this post

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Two new teeth as of this morning (top center). That makes four total. Only 16 to go. Then 20 to lose and 32 more to grow again. Christ.


Before I had a baby only one thing could make me gag to the point of throwing up. Not poop. Any pet owner gets over fear of poop right quick, and we have two cats. Not puke. Puke used to do it, but then I became a borderline alcoholic and the smell of vomit, although not something I sought out, didn't really bother me that much. No, it was boogers. Well, boogers and spit. Anything that qualifies as mucus.

I think something happens when you have children. Your grossout switch gets disconnected or something. Dash has literally been covered in boogers and drool for FOUR FUCKING WEEKS and last night I scooped some out of his nose with my pinky nail (after the aspirator failed again) and, when I couldn't find a rag nearby, wiped them on my pajama pants. And continued to wear them for the rest of the night. And then hung them up on the hook in the bathroom to wear again tonight. Pants that are covered in my son's snot, you understand.

So I guess it's two switches: grossout & dignity.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


So, every Monday or Wednesday or Tuesday, who the hell knows, Dash's school has "music & movement" (should it be capitalized? is it a Thing? with a proper Name? again, who the hell knows). From what I can gather, someone comes in and plays a little guitar and the babies all shake rattles and "sing" and wiggle around. Cutest thing ever, right? Apparently, Dash lurves music & movement. So much that they can't pry the rattles away from him once it's over. I've never seen him take to any rattle-y or song-y thing at home, but I do know that the boy loves to wiggle.

Anyway, we decided that we should try Gymboree. They have singing and wiggling and the Extra! Added! Bonus! of mats and tumbly things that he can crawl all over and through and on top of.

I am happy to report that the little man has not inherited any of his parents' timidity. He barreled in there like he owned the joint. Crawled at lightning speed to whatever he thought was interesting (which was mostly some other baby's dad and a poor kid named Rodrigo who sat there minding his own business while Dash smacked him about the head). He bounced and climbed and spun and wiggled. And when it was time to sit in a circle and blow bubbles and clap and be dragged around on the parachute (you had to be there) he laughed like he was seeing Eddie Murphy's Delirious for the first time.

So, Gymboree, hearty thumbs up. See you next week.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Dash was transferred into my uterus as a 5-day-old embryo (technically a blastocyst, but whatev) on May 24, 2005. He continued to live in my uterus for 239 days until he was sawed out on January 18, 2006. He slept either at the foot of our bed in a cradle or in our bed in a snuggle nest for the next 181 days. After that we moved him into his own room where he has slept (or "slept") every night for the next 115 days and counting. That makes a total of 535 days that Dash and I slept under the same roof.

On November 8, 2006 I broke the streak. Las Vegas on business. I was actually kinda looking forward to it. A night of quiet. No bottles to make, no monitors to check, no screaming episodes that start and stop for no reason that I can discern. A night of peaceful slumber for the first time in many, many days.

You won't be surprised to read that it totally sucked. I missed him so much my teeth hurt. I woke up at 5am and couldn't go back to sleep because that's when the little turd has decided morning starts. There is no peace when I'm away from him. When I can't hear him breathing. When I can't whiff the top of his sweaty little head. No peace at all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fun With Baby

They tell you it's gonna be hard with a baby. They tell you you'll never sleep and that the house will be a mess and you'll never have any time to get anything done. And you sort of believe them, because they ALL say it and they can't ALL be liars, but you also somehow think that maybe they're weak. They couldn't handle it because they're not as strong, organized, and smart as you. You think that somehow it won't be as hard as they say.

But it is. And even harder.

Dash is, knock wood, a dream baby. He's happy and friendly and funny and easygoing. He's just like his dad (and the opposite of me). And even with Dream Baby, it's hard. We don't sleep and the house is a mess and we can never get anything done.

Now, throw in starting daycare and all of the new organizational requirements and anxiety that it brings with it. Now throw in Dash's first cold. Now throw in Josh & me getting the stomach flu. Now throw in Dash getting the stomach flu on top of his cold. Now throw in my mother, our only babysitter outside of daycare, getting the same stomach flu.

Are you good and freaked out? Yeah, me too.

Josh and I have been fighting more than usual lately. It's hard. We're tired and sick and we constantly feel overwhelmed and overworked and underappreciated. So that's what we were doing (fighting) last night when Dash woke up howling.

The moment Josh lifted him out of his crib Dash projectile vomited into Josh's mouth. I obviously thought that was hilarious and didn't stop laughing until he vomited again and with such velocity that it not only bathed me completely, but also made its way INSIDE a closed linen cabinet and onto the hand-embroidered organza table runner my mother brought me from Spain that was (I'ma say it again because, seriously) INSIDE A CLOSED LINEN CABINET.

But the point is this: it is so worth it. We fight and we cry and we feel completely inadequate and ill-equipped. We labor trying to figure out how to go from being two people to a unit composed of three (I mean, really, have you ever put together an Ikea bookcase without having a fight? Try building a cohesive fucking family unit. Try. I'll wait here). And there will be vomit-soaked nights and disasters of timing. But it is so worth it. Every frantic moment and passed-around virus. It is worth every gray hair and Rolaid tablet.

Because we are a family.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Well, that sucked

So, our first Halloween with the baby in the new suburban, family-friendly neighborhood. We decorated. Oh how we decorated.

The entire front of the house is still covered in stinky, synthetic cobwebs.

There are 50 ghosts hanging in our trees.

We have witch feet sticking out from under a boulder.

We have windows splattered with gore and dead rodents lolling around.

We have a caged skull on the mantle and black candles in the candlesticks.

We have a welcome mat that cackles when trod upon. We have a motion-activated, lighted rock that screams for people to turn back! Stay Away! We even have the equipment to turn the baby into a chicken (see below).

And then Josh started throwing up. And then I started throwing up. And then Dash's school called to say that he had a fever of 101 and we could expect him to start throwing up any minute. Yeah, stomach flu on Halloween. Awesome.

So, instead of the world's cutest chicken-baby (again, see below), our trick-or-treaters were greeted with a bucket of candy on a chair and this:


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

160 BPM!

When Dash was very little and living in his small, dark, one-room apartment, we used to check in on him every now and again (OK, about 6 times a day) with the help of our own portable ultrasound machine thingy (sorry to get all technical on your asses).

Things we Know

Dear Crazy Legs,

These are some thing that your folks and others who love you know. We are happy to share our hard-won knowledge with you because you're very adorable even though you poop in your pants.

1. If your shrimp scampi or chicken piccata or whatever is coming out more sour than buttery-lemony, add lemon zest and more salt than you think you'd need, and use less juice.

2. For perfectly steamed asparagus, wrap a medium to large bunch in 5 or 6 paper towels, run under the tap, place on plate and microwave for 4 minutes. Be careful when removing because towels will be Hot Hot Hot!

3. To get tinny taste out of homemade tomato sauce, add a teensy pinch of baking soda to the mix.

4. If you do the Jaws sound (duh-nuh, duh-nuh) while you slowly move in to kiss your 4-month-old, he will soon start grinning as soon as he hears the sound.

5. Apply the gel back to front, and then work it through your hair evenly.

6. Anytime you go to OSH, Home Depot, Lowes, etc., always take the part you want to replace with you.

7. Apply more pressure with your fingers to get good movement on your 2-seam fastball.

8. When you're hanging stuff, always have a level, a pencil and nail-hole filler close by.

9. When you take something apart, lay the pieces down logically. The ability to put something back together from memory isn't in the Engel genes.

10. If a girl tells you she doesn't want to be in a relationship, she may or may not want to be in a relationship. If a boy tells you he doesn't want to be in a relationship, he's telling the truth.

11. You should never love people who like F. Scott Fitzgerald more than Ernest Hemingway. There's something missing from their souls. (11a. Girls who say they don't like Hemingway because he's an anti-semite or a misogynist are lazy and missing the point.)

12. People who drive Mustangs are assholes.

13. Don't be a Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda (Auntie Kala)

14. Don't live your life for a resume (Auntie Kala)

15. Don't buy white trash cans or coffee pots.

16. We're a family who drinks. If you want to cut to the chase sans gag reflex, you need to know how to mix a good Long Island Iced Tea. Put in plenty of the white boozes (equal parts vodka, gin, tequila and rum), a splash of triple sec and a hearty dose of sweet & sour. Don't fear the sweet & sour! If the glass is too full of booze get a bigger glass. It's SUPPOSED to taste like iced tea but with a really happy ending. Oh! Almost forgot-- top with a splash of coke. Trust me on this one. All the sugar in the sweet & sour and coke is gonna get you that much more fucked up. Good times! (Auntie J)

17. When you wake up on the bathroom floor the next morning (I told you those Long Islands would be good), you'll need to look decent for work. I know just the trick, Little Man. Generously apply Tuck's medicated pads to the huge black pouches under your red, swollen eyes. They'll take down the swelling and you'll look human again in no time! (Auntie J)

18. Always dress nicely when you travel. People will treat you differently. (Auntie Justine)

Guess What!

Hey, wanna know what you get 2 days after starting daycare? Your very first cold!


Snot: everywhere. Food: refused. Poopies: You don't wanna know. Nonnies: Ha! I spit on your nonnies!


Told you

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Well then

So, his first day at daycare was a big success. He fell in love with his teacher, Miss Natasha, and it looks like she fell in love with him, too. He played with puppets and fell asleep on the floor and chased babies around trying to steal their socks.

And then we took him home and plopped him in the tub and he proceeded to stand the fuck up. I just told him to take a seat because I'm not ready to own a standing baby.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Day 1

I haven't really slept in three or four days (last night not at all) and even Josh was tossing and turning. But this morning at 5:30 we got up and started prepping. Three bottles, two meals, baggies of Veggie Booty and Cheerios and those organic handmade French teething biscuits. Two sheets, three changes of clothes, a stuffed kitty. We put on his little jeans and tee shirt and socks and the most adorable leather booties (it's not easy getting shoes onto feet as wide as they are long). The makework kept me from bawling (just this morning, though--didn't keep me from crying most of yesterday).

At 7:15am we had arrived. Been buzzed in and introduced to Miss Josie and Miss Linda and little Nathan who was working pretty hard on bits of toast. Dash looked confused but not unhappy while we were scrambling, trying to figure out how to i.d. his bottles and grub and clothes and sheets. Miss Josie asked if he liked to be rocked to sleep and that was a comfort to me. He'll be in arms today. Not mine and not Josh's and not Baba's. But arms are arms and kisses are kisses and I think it'll be ok.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Moving Pictures

Please take a vitamin or something before attempting to view this. You'll need to be strong as the adorableness may kill you.

Monday, October 09, 2006

An Explanation

Why we persist in allowing him to sleep indoors despite his completely uncivilized behavior all through the night climaxing with a final awakening every day at 5am:

Good morning, Baby Duck.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It is Upon Us

We always knew Dash would go to daycare at some point. We both believe in daycare. I spent the better part of my youth in daycare and it was the setting for some of my fondest memories. Josh & I are agreed that kids who spend time around other kids and adults are just better socialized. They're less anxious and friendlier and more self-assured.

So, when I was knocked up I researched and talked to moms and called centers and settled on an incredibly expensive center walking distance from our house. I met with the director (Miss Gina!) and took a tour and loved what I saw. I saw smiling teachers and happy babies and I felt calm and secure in the knowledge that Dash could spend a couple of days a week there and learn all of those songs every other kid in the universe knows (wait, what happened to the spider?! and he survived!?) and do a little finger painting. Maybe someone there could even get him to nap in a crib? Please?

So, we put Dash in the waiting list. We figured he'd start at around a year old. It didn't seem likely they'd have an opening before December or January.

Then the unthinkable happened.

They called.

They have an opening.

He starts October 16.

That is less than two weeks from now.

We could have said "no," but he's ready. He's completely mobile and he's trying hard to get on his feet. He needs stimulation. He needs chaos and laughing and sharing and to get out of the goddamn house. He needs more than he's getting right now.

He'll still be home with the ladies two or three days a week. He'll still get the calm and love and undivided attention that only his Grandmas can offer him. But he also needs a little bit more. And he'll get it at daycare.

I may not survive, though.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dear Nutbag,

I seem to spend so much time freaking out about the stuff of growing up a boy (oh my god, will he nap!? is the floor clean enough!? will I ever be able to watch him eat a Cheerio!?) that I forget to remark in any permanent way about all of the little things you do that crack me up or melt my heart or scare the hell out of me. But today I'll give it a shot because you, my son, are fucking compelling (thank god you can't read or you would totally be learning the eff word right now).

It is completely unpredictable what will make you laugh. I could make funny faces and zrrburts until the end of time and you'd just look at me like "Lady, step it up. This is the majors." But strap you in and feed you some pureed carrots? That's the funniest thing EVER. Daddy doing the "dun dun" sound from Jaws? Comedy gold. Pulling mommy's hair is pretty hilarious to you, too. Unless you're just mean & you like it when mommy winces.

You hate all of your toys.

Mommy: Dash, may I offer you this think-tank-approved-rattle-smart-maker gar-ON-teed to increase IQ by 25 points?
Dash: Yawn. I'll take that copy of Good Housekeeping please.

Mommy: How about this light-up bear with a vocabulary bigger than mine?
Dash: Pshfft. I'll take that salad bowl full of Tupperware, thankyouverymuch.

Mommy: Oh, Dash, lookit! A board book with textures! And funny animal faces! Nice bunny. Nice horsie. Sooooooft.
Dash: Nah, I'll just reach behind you--excuse me--and chew on this blanket.

You love remote controls so much that you have two of your own. TWO! But they're not good enough! You want the real one! You're not fooled! Also, paper. Oh my god, dude, you chew paper and it makes Mommy gag. Seriously. It's disgusting and you should stop. I'm thisclose to handing you some beef jerky in trade.

When one of us comes home and you're on the floor you just start slapping it with your open hand until we pick you up. It is the most adorable thing ever. I know you wish you could run up to us, or at least give us a, "Wassup, Mommy & Daddy!" But all you can do is pound on the floor. It's the helplessness that makes it extra-delicious.

You've just figured out how to get from prone on your belly to sitting down on your buttsky. And it is truly your favorite thing in the world to do. I wish I could describe it (this would be a good time for that whole video-posting deal, huh?) but it looks like breakdancing to me. There's some spinning with one leg out and some anti-gravity effects for sure. When you really get going you'll just do circles: tummy to ass, tummy to ass, tummy to ass.

It's slightly less adorable at 2am when you can't complete a round in your crib so you scream bloody murder until Mommy comes and gets you so you can practice your skills some more. Although I guess I admire your tenacity. I hope you work that hard at buying me a phat Escalade with 22s.

I just realized there's no organic way for me to end this. I am not out of things to remember about you. I'll never be out of things I want to remember about you. Seriously. Every breath. But I'll stop here. For today.

I love you,

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I've been giving Dash non-liquid food since we got the thumbs up from his pediatrician at 6 months. I buy organic fruits & veggies, steam 'em up, run them through the blender & freeze into adorable heart shapes. I don't offer anything even a minute before Super Baby Foods says I can.

He LOVES avocado and butternut squash and bananas with cereal and he's thinking about his feelings for peaches and green beans and goat's milk yogurt. He loves them but he's not in love with them. He'll open wide for just about anything except sweet potatoes. The kid eats like he was born to do it.

But here's the catch: I was supposed to start him on finger foods more than a month ago and I hit a wall. I am just too scared. Every time I put a little bit of something in his mouth I watch him and freak out until he swallows it, and then I have to rest and recover for a week. My heart can't take it.

So, what's the solution? Will I be blending him up some steak and potatoes when he's 17?

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Corn Dip

Well, it's actually Aunty J's Corn Dip (with thanks to Emeril), but Uncle Pookie loves it so much he has a special sound effect for eating it.

Jamie's Corn Dip

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup small diced onion
2 tbsp minced jalapeños
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups canned corn kernels
1 small can diced green chiles
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped (green parts only)
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a sauté pan set over a medium high heat, add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and sweat for 3-4 minutes. Add the jalapeños and the garlic and sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the corn and sweat for 5-6 minutes.

2. Remove the corn, jalapeños, garlic and onion mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and blend well. Season the dip with salt and cayenne pepper.

3. Place the dip in a casserole dish, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the dip begins to bubble. Serve with tortilla chips.


I have, honestly, the worst singing voice known to man. It is so bad that Josh literally cringes when I start wailing along with the radio.

Dash, however, thinks it's just lovely. This is the song I sing to him (his face lights up every time).

You are Mommy's Butternut, Butternut
You are Mommy's Butternut Squash

You are Daddy's Creamed Corn, Creamed Corn
Eat you with a spoon

You are Baba's Apple Pie, Apple Pie
Eat you ala mode

You are Gamma's Matzo Ball, Matzo Ball
Eat you in some soup

You are Grandpa's Baked Potato, Baked Potato
Eat you fully loaded

You are Aunty J's Chicken Wing, Chicken Wing
Eat you dipped in ranch

You are Uncle Pookie's Corn Dip, Corn Dip
Eat you on a chip

You are Aunt Pookie's Chardonnay, Chardonnay
Drink you by the glass

You are Aunty Shmust's Jicama, Jicama
Eat you from a salad bar

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Speaking of Nicknames

These are some things we call Dash in lieu of his actual name. Somehow, though, he seems to know his name is Dash. Uncanny.

The Professor - This one has been retired because he no longer makes the snooty face that prompted it. But oh my god, when a weeks-old infant looks down his nose at you there is, literally, nothing cuter.

Slotkin - My Russian mother, Baba Rima, takes care of Dash 4 days a week and coos to him in her native tongue. One day Josh emailed me at work to ask what the word "slotkin" means in Russian because he heard my mom say it to Dash. It took a minute until I realized that he had heard her call him "slodkee," the Russian word for "sweet." Obviously Slotkin rules over Slodkee.

Mansie - I started calling him this for no reason I can remember. But as soon as I started I tried to stop because I hated it. You know what happens when you try to get a song out of your head. This was like that but worse. So we embraced it.

Butternut - Remember the Jerky Boys? No? You're lucky. They used to call some of their marks Butt Nut and I insanely started wanting to call Dash this. When I realized that a butt nut could easily be fecal-related, I forced myself to add an "-er" and started calling him Butternut. Wrote a whole song about it. I'll post that later.

L'Aysh - A contraction of Little Dash pronounced the way his Grandpa John says it, "Daysh." No idea why he says it like that. He's from LA, born & bred, but somehow he has a drawl. Also, it looks like Hebrew.

Belly Shromp - Dash was conceived via in vitro so we have many, many pictures of him in utero at every stage of the game. The first time we actually saw something resembling a life form on the ultrasound he looked exactly like a shrimp (which we pronounce "shromp," because clearly we're insane.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things I Don't Want to Forget, Part 1

When Dash was in the hospital after having been yanked out of my uterus (I almost just said "unceremoniously yanked," but I have no idea if the doctors performed any kind of ceremony so I'll keep my conjecture to myself, thankyouverymuch) he was given a teensy little hat. The hat was small even for his tiny little baby head, so it kinda rolled up on the sides and barely hung on to his downy scalp. This looked exactly like the hat worn on the HBO prison drama Oz by a brutal rapist named Adebisi.

And thus was born our precious baby's first nickname.


And it begins

Because we don't devote enough time or effort to obsessing over our child, we now have a forum to post adorable anecdotes, darling pictures and sweet little videos about our boy, Dash (Dashiell Olson Engel, if you're planning on sending him a wedding invitation).

He was 8 months old yesterday (one day before Talk Like a Pirate Day! Here's a joke: How much does corn cost on a pirate ship? A buck an ear! Arrrrr. No? How 'bout this one? A pirate walks into a bar & the bartender says, "Why is there a steering wheel in your pants?" And the pirate says, "It's driving me nuts!" Arrrrr! Yes? Yes?).

Dash currently has two teeth (bottom center) and is learning to crawl but is really just kinda humping along on his belly by pushing off with one foot. It's pretty effing cute. Here are some pictures to illustrate:

We'll post a video as soon as we can figure out how. Which could be a long, long time from now. But we're optimists.