Personality Test

Grin!Sometimes, when we’re out in the public and strangers are coming by, I’ll make a silly face or do something that’s sure to make Maddie laugh or crack a smile just as they get near.  Maddie will look up at them with this big ol’ irresistible smile.

Then, depending on how the strangers react, we can tell if they’re good people or bad people.  If they smile back, they’re good.  But if they don’t react, then we know they have dark hearts.

Luckily, based on the Maddie personality test, the world seems to be 95% filled with good people.


Scarred for life: Rainforest Cafe

Maddie’s got uncontrollably wavey hair.  It’s cute, but we get jealous of other babies that have comb-able hair.  Las Vegas managed to do what no amount of baby hair care could:  it straightened Maddie’s hair.  But when we returned to the Bay Area, Maddie’s hair returned to its usual wavey anarchy within a couple of hours.  Oh, well.

We just got back from a long weekend in Las Vegas.  A good time was had by all, with one minor exception.  We may have done a little irreparable damage to our child.

On our way through the MGM Grand hotel, we noticed the Rainforest Cafe, and thought that that would make a nice place to lunch.  Parents of babies take note: After getting on the list and waiting for half an hour, and the hostess calls your name, it’s not for seating.  It’s so you can wait in line for seating.  Ugh.  So, Maddie’s nap would be a little delayed.

We get seated, and are immediately taken by the atmosphere.  The cafe is dimly lit, with a little LED milky way overhead complete with shooting stars.  And our table is distantly surrounded by realistic animatronic figures partially hidden in a simulated forest canopy.  There are two elephants, some monkeys, a talking tree, and two leopards.

Maddie, in her high chair, seemed struck by the surroundings too.  But she never really took her eyes off one of the leopards.  She even pointed it out and gave us a concerned, “Ooo.”  We acknowledged the cat, and said “Yes, Maddie.  It’s a cat.  Can you say, ‘cat?'”  Maddie didn’t seem interested in lessons.  The leopard would occasionally wag its tail or rotate its head, the way animatronic critters are prone to do.  There was lots to watch, and it made passing the time easier.

Then, out of nowhere, Maddie freaked.  She just went nuts and lunged for her mother, who was sitting at her side.  She clawed at her mother’s blouse, almost ripping it off, as she tried to claw her way up and out of the high chair.  Maddie was crying and her little legs were pumping and her arms were flailing and her head was buried in her mom’s shoulder.

We didn’t actually see what the leopard did, but it must have given Maddie that “I’m going to tear you apart, limb from bloody limb” look.

This, of course, was well before the food even came.  Suffice it to say that the tempo for the meal had been set.


Maddie has begun saying, “um,” when she babbles.  For example, she’d pick up the phone, and have imaginary conversations with someone.

“Um, raba ticle dele bedle.”
“Um. Dele needle rata bel.”
“Um, bala rata raba udu.”

She’ll do the same thing when she talks to her animals in the crib.

A couple of days ago, while I was talking to Maddie’s mom, she answered a question with, “Um,” somthing or other.  I giggled because I thought she was immitating Maddie to be cute.  But it turns out she wasn’t.  Aha, I figured, that’s where Maddie must have picked it up!

Yesterday, I told this story to Rosie, and a little later in the conversation caught myself saying, “um.”  I tried to ignore it and kept going, but I couldn’t help but notice that I eventually said “um” at least two more times in the same conversation.  Darn.  Maybe Maddie didn’t just get it from her mother.

Mood Amplifiers

Babies are mood amplifiers, especially if you’re already tired.  I notice this in myself and in conversations with other parents.  What our babies do aren’t ever slightly cute.  They’re adorable!  They delight us.  Their giggles, hugs, and the way they discover every new little wonder gives us big warm fuzzies.

Then there’s the dark side.  Babies being bad.  They don’t get into just a little trouble, then leave it.  They (seem to intentionally) get into deep trouble.  At least Maddie does.  Tell her not to do something, and try to distract her with something not-so-dangerous, and it won’t work.  She’ll obsess about what she’s not supposed to do.  And when she cries with her mighty little fury, even if I’m still glowing from the above mentioned warm fuzzies, it just doesn’t take long to sour my mood.  It only takes a few minutes for a tantrum to suck the joy right out of life.  I’m a level-headed guy, but, Grrrr.

One of my friends, Liza, points out that babies’ best natural defense is how cute they are.  And she’s right.  Maddie’s worn me pretty thin, but in five minutes, after I turn off this computer and head off to bed, I’ll drop by her room, poke my head in, and see that perfect sleep of the innocent that babies do.  She’ll probably be on her side, one leg bent a little more forward than the other, each hand relaxed in an almost-a-fist.  Her cupid’s bow lips will be parted and her breaths deep.  My temperament will lighten, my heart will melt, and I’ll get a good night’s sleep, too.

The Walkman

A few days ago I admitted how I enjoyed it when Maddie was sick.  That was because that was the only time Maddie would stay put, and seemed to want to be loved.  (Normally, she can out pace a caffeinated Tasmanian devil.)

Last week, Maddie noticed her Mommy listening to her discman (portable CD player).  When Mommy was done, and put down the discman, Maddie naturally wanted to see what the attraction was.  She pushed the buttons on the case, and was delighted that one or two would affect the slight whir of the tiny motor.  Then she noticed the wire to the headset, and did what babies to best.  She yanked hard on it.  The connector to the case unplugged.  So she entertained herself for a good minute trying to replug the thing, and unplugging it again.

Finally, she traced up the wire to the headset.  At this point, the disc was stopped.  She’d put the headset up over her head and around her neck like a necklace.  Then she’d call out, “Hello?  Hello?”  But alas, the thing was not a phone.  Mommy stepped in, and turned on the CD player, and positioned the headset over Maddie’s ears.

Maddie froze.

She didn’t dare move her head, body, arms, hands, even fingers, lest this wondrous music disappear as suddenly as it came.

So, naturally, we tease her.  We start circling her, and position ourselves just out of sight, but within arm’s reach.  Then we’d call out, “Maddie.  Maddie!”  And Maddie would cautiously, slowly roll her eyes in our direction without turning her head.  But even if she still couldn’t quite see us, that was too bad.  She wouldn’t move.  She just couldn’t risk losing the music.  After a couple of minutes, we took pity on her, and took off the headset.  Maddie breathed again.

This little game worked again over the next couple of days, but today Maddie was already over it.  She’d figured it out, and it wasn’t so special.  So, once again, there’s nothing that’ll keep Maddie still.  (Except for possibly the TV.  That’s not so good.)

How fragile we are.

Dr. Dean Edell, in his quest to provide medical perspective with “Eat Drink and be Merry,” says something very similar to this entry.  That we shouldn’t worry excessively about every new finding in a medical journal (some are premature or erroneous), and that we shouldn’t obsess about how much we diverge from our physical ideal (the human body is magnificently engineered and tolerates variation nicely).  We shouldn’t needlessly sacrifice the quality of our lives in a misguided effort to perfect them.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from a friend that read, “I feel behind.”  And it linked to a site where another parent reports how her two-year-old likes to glue clothes onto construction paper dolls.  (And she’s like to sell you her cutouts, so you can do it too.)  My friend felt behind because her 19 month daughter does not do what the 30 month daughter does.  Puleeze.

That got me to thinking about a few things.

  1. Selling construction paper cutouts on the web?!  Why didn’t I think of that?  I’ve got scissors.  I’ve got paper.  I’ve got a PayPal account.
  2. We really do ourselves a disservice by browsing the web until we find someone who’s got it better than us, and then obsessing about it.  That’s not just a waste of time, it’s destructive.

And three, that we humans in some sense, are not as fragile as we’re led to believe.  I love Sting’s song Fragile as much as anybody else. and it’s very poignant.  But as fragile we are, we can be (and often tend to be) even more resilient.  It’s important to keep that in mind to maintain proper perspective.

In America, the essence of a capitalist society, we’re told by every huckster that they’ve got something that will better our lives.  The correlation is that our lives are not what they should be.  Parents are particularly vulnerable, because we want the best for our children.  And when somebody else’s kid pastes shorts over the doll’s waist when our kid tries to eat them, we always wonder, “could I be doing something better?”

I’ve come to the enlightened conclusion, “Yes, I could be doing something better.”  I’m making plenty of mistakes, and don’t have the resources to do some of the things I’d love to do for my child.  But, I don’t know anybody who didn’t fall on their heads from the kitchen counter, or who didn’t get a door slammed on their fingers, or who didn’t go to public school, or whose parents didn’t lace their gasoline with MTBE.  And most of these friends seem OK.  Not that there aren’t cautionary tales.  There are.  I also don’t know anybody who doesn’t know someone in jail, or addicted to drugs, or who died due to human error/action.  But, of all the “success stories,” none of them are of people who’ve had perfect lives.  Everyone’s emerged from multiple failings.  And we have every reason to hope and expect that our children will overcome what we inflict on them.

Maddie loves her shoez and ca-ca!

Babytalk is a wonderful thing.  Maddie’s learning how to say shoes, juice and crackers.  (She’s very fond of Silang Coconut Crackers.)  She picked up shoes and juice first.  Actually, at the same time, since to her, they’re both about the same word.  “Shjuzch.”  A few days later, she’d learned to say crackers.  “Ca-ca.”

So, the joke’s over for you, the reader.  Maddie loves how her juice and crackers taste.  Ha, ha.  Move along.

But the joke just goes on and on for us.  Because Maddie really does love her juice and crackers, and we love how she pronounces them.  Here’s what happens before walks and before snacktimes.

Momma:  Maddie, can you say, “juice?”
Maddie: Shujch.
Momma: Maddie, can you say, “shoes?”
Maddie: Shujch.
Momma: What should we pour your juice into?
Maddie: Shujch!
Momma: Maddie, what do you think of crackers?
Maddie: Ca-ca!
: Maddie, what’s your favorite thing in the world to eat?  (Waves a cracker out of reach.)
Maddie: Ca-ca!

It doesn’t get much more clever than that, although I wish it did.  You have to punch the word you want Maddie to repeat, or you have to show it to her to make her call for it.  Actually, we’re pretty happy that Maddie’s picking up new words, and just getting her to say them lights up our day.

Ice Cream Makes Maddie Smart

Maddie has a limited vocabulary.  And we were worrying that she’s falling behind the other kids her age.  Although she has a spoken vocabulary of around six words, (Dada, Mama, baba (ball), whea-whu (thank you), baebae (bye bye) and Popo (Grandma)), she didn’t always use them in the right context.

Momma:  Maddie, can you say “bye bye?”
Maddie: Po po.
Momma: No, that’s grandma.  Maddie, can you say “bye bye?”
Maddie: Po po. po po po po. po po po po po po.
Momma: Maddie, look at me.  Bye bye.  Bye bye, Maddie.  (Waves hand.)
Maddie: Pu-oh po.  Po po.  Puoh po po po.

You get the idea.  The same thing happened when we asked her to identify body parts.  If asked where her nose was, she’d slap the back of her head.  It may sound cute to you.  But when the other kids are reciting Chaucer and our kid completely ignores us, it gets a little frustrating.

Yesterday after dinner, I served a bowl of vanilla ice cream to my wife and myself.  Maddie saw the treat, and insisted on trying it.  Well, we decided to make her work for her food.

Momma:  Maddie, can you say “Ma ma?”
Maddie: Ma ma.

Yea!  Maddie got a taste of the ice cream.  “Mmmm!”  So we decided to see how far we could push it.

Momma:  Maddie, can you say “bye bye?”
Maddie: Bae Bae.  Ahhh.  (Opens mouth and leans forward.)
Momma: Good girl.  (Gives a bite of ice cream.)  Maddie, where’s your nose?
Maddie: (Points to her nose.)  Ahhh!
Momma: Goood girl!  (Gives a bite of ice cream.)  Maddie, can you say “thank you?”
Maddie: Whea whu.  Ahhh!

It was that easy.  Our girl instantaneously jumped one whole grade level in one night.  I know that we shouldn’t use ice cream as a motivator, but what are you gonna do?

Playing With Baby’s Mind

Just before loopy time tonight, we were all in the living room, on the floor playing.  Lillian got up, went to the couch, grabbed a pillow, came back, and plopped down, resting her head on the pillow sideways.  Maddie, who’s usually oblivious to such stuff, got up, went to the couch, grabbed the other pillow (which was about as big as she was) to her chest, stumbled back, and collapsed tummy first near her Mamma.  Maddie’s face was buried in the pillow, so she was safe.

Being tired ourselves, and easily impressed and entertained, we laughed.  Maddie got it into her head that she had done something right.  So up she gets, then plop, down she goes again, already laughing in anticipation that Mamma and Dadda are going to laugh too.  We get a few more encores.  And it only got better with repetition.  She’d perfected the routine.  Then suddenly-

  “Uuh.  Uuuh!”

  Which means, “Everybody, stop!”  We did.  Maddie was indicating something on the floor.  It was just a two-inch piece of thread that had come off of the pillow she’d been mauling.  So we all stare at the thread.

  Time passes.

  “Uuh!  Oo!”

  Apparently this thread was going to do tricks.  We keep watching it.

  More time passes.  Maddie backs off from the thread, never taking her eyes off of it.  The thread was either somewhat threatening, or the trick was going to be pretty spectacular.  Then it hits me: Maddie must have discovered worms.  She thinks this thread is going to crawl.

  Oh, the opportunities.  Good parents wouldn’t play with their baby’s head.  Babies are very impressionable, you know.  We must try to be good, but maybe we can eke out a little fun from the situation.

  So we slowly, gently grab the thread, and offer it to Maddie.  She backs up just enough to be out of striking range of the varmint.  We put it back on the ground and whack it, to show that it’s not alive.  At least, not anymore if it was before the whack.  She edges closer.  We whack it again.  And again.  Maddie (the killer within awakened) gets close enough, raises her hand into whacking position, crouches, and…

  …gets the heebie jeebies.  She shivers, turns and runs back to a safer distance.  The thread could be playing possum, you know.  Lillian and I decide to try another tactic.  We grab the thread and give it back and forth to each other.  Then we hide it and reveal it to each other, delighting in the revelation.  She finally warms up to it.  And she gradually lets me place the thread in her hand.

  Lillian and I looked at each other, and silently congratulated each other for not messing with Maddie’s head by exclaiming, “eww,” which certainly would have rewarded us with another heebie jeebie dance.

Projectile Poo

The following is an email thread from this morning.  I didn’t think much of it as we were replying to each other, but now I’ve decided to archive it here, as a cautionary tale to those who don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when considering parenthood.  The original message is at the bottom, and the replies are at the top.

From: David Blume
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 11:41 AM
To: ‘James & Minna Wurzer’
Subject: RE: Your niece

Yep, plenty of thoughts.

We put up a poo shield at the butt end of the changing table.  (Cardboard wrapped in tin foil / saran wrap, wrapped in an old tshirt.  The tshirt prevents spattering, the poo-proof layer underneath saves the cardboard.)

Of course, it didn’t happen much after we put in the defensive measures…  Maybe twice more, but never as spectacular.

It won’t happen to such a degree when she’s a little bigger (meaning her sphincter’s a little bigger & more mature) and especially when her diet changes.  (Of course then, her poo will smell.  It’s always a trade off.)

You’re a parent.  You learn to cope.  If you’d had a boy, after a couple of “sessions” you’d learn to use a clean diaper as a shield over the baby’s tummy for sprays that go in an altogether different direction.

Best of luck!


From: James & Minna Wurzer
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 11:23 AM
To: David Blume
Subject: Re: Your niece

Thanks for your support 🙂

It’s nice to know that my daughter is not an anomoly (sp?)

This poop shooting thing just started and I am wondering how long it might last..

any thoughts?


From: David Blume
To: James & Minna Wurzer
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 10:22 AM
Subject: FW: Your niece

Hi James, Minna,

  First, congrats on your baby!

  Rosie probably told you, but I wanted to assure you: I feel for you.

  Our daughter did that, and it made the Christmas newsletter.  As a matter of fact, I’m never going to let her live it down.  When she sneezed, poo shot six horizontal feet in a pretty rainbow arch, hitting the wall, chair, chenille (sp?) throw, and everything on the changing table.  We scrubbed the wall so hard paint came off.  And this was at 3:00am, of course.


From: Rosie VanHerp
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 8:23 AM
To: David Blume
Subject: FW: Your neice

Ok, have I told you my neice does what Maddie did?

From: James & Minna Wurzer
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 7:29 AM
To: Rosie VanHerp
Subject: Your neice

did it again….

She sneezed and shot poop out the bedroom door. This time it hit the door frame too. AND I heard it all hit the floor.

AND I had to clean it up…..


Daddy’s Update: 1/13/2003 Our experience with Maddie helped prepare us for Aaron.