Monday, November 17, 2008


Every time Stellina sees Barack Obama's smiling face, whether on TV or in photos, she grins, points and says, "Baby!" Is it his hairstyle, so similar to hers and that of her contemporaries? Her vocabulary thus far, at 13 months:

Baby -- herself in the mirror, other children, dolls, presidents-elect
Beebee -- small stuffed animals, birds, the dog
Mama -- started as "Mamamamama!" while reaching for me and crying, but now it's pretty clearly the two-syllable moniker
Dada -- not sure if she's connected this to the person. She's said it when she hears a noise coming from another room of the house, but not to his face.
Bye-bye -- coupled with a open-closed-fist wave. Last week she waved side-to-side, fingers splayed, but just one time.
No -- but pronounced "Nyo?"
Nana -- might or might not have been in reference to her banana. There are lots of those words so far -- ones she mimics us saying, but not repeatedly. Also "abble" (apple) and "sweebee" (Sweetpea) and "away" (when putting any object into a container that will hold said object. We practice putting things "away" a lot.)
Poop -- uttered once, very clearly, as she was doing so.

Back to babies. She has three dolls, all gifts. They all have molded plastic bald heads. One blinks, another smells like the cloying, sneeze-provoking powder I'd never let near her tiny heiney, and the third can be filled with warm water so it "feels just like a real baby!" Except real babies don't have leaky plugs in the center of their backs (one would hope) or a heart-shaped tattoo on their bottom. Baby #3 has been relegated to the bathtub for obvious reasons. I thought it was a bit ridiculous, this baby barrage. Isn't she a little young for a doll? I'd kept her toys thus far non-gender-specific (not that babydolls are necessarily for girls). But she loves them, one and all. She hugs them, carries them around by their necks, pats #3 with her washcloth, and "feeds" them with her sippy cup and the tiny bottle that came with the powdery one. That's the craziest part -- Stellina has resolutely refused a bottle from the first (second, fifteenth...) offering, but she immediately knew to hold the hard, plastic, liquid-less, vaguely bottle-shaped thing to her little one's hard, plastic, entry-less lips. It was the first thing she did after bringing the doll close to her face, sniffing it and crooning, "BAYbee!"

Monday, September 29, 2008

Free Snacks

When will I stop falling for the $5 plastic crap gizmos? First-time mothers must be the biggest suckers out there. It's so embarrassing. I bought Stellina this stupid plastic cup thing called a Snack Trap. It has a lid with slits in it so babies can put their hand in and pull out a snack treat but the snacks won't spill out. Well, after filling it with organic Os and handing it over, she turned it around and around in her hands, stuck her paw in, pulled out an O, ate it (at which point I thought "wow! She figured it out! How precious...") Then she crawled around with it on her fist like Captain Snack Trap, then pulled back one of the lid flaps and shook the Cheerios facsimiles all over the floor. Snacks, untrapped.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The day after tomorrow I'm altering a piece of art I've shouldered for 14 years. It's my ex's name, which I had done by Mike Malone at Sailor Jerry's old shop in Honolulu's Chinatown. I was 24 and thought it was forever, and it might have been, but she didn't want to have a child. That was the deal breaker, finally, and we broke up six years ago. I was ambivalent about changing the tattoo for a long time -- it's a big part of my past and represents who I've been and continue to be. But it's time. I'm having her turned into a mermaid.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Window Seat

Goin back to Cali...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stellina Imelda Marcos

Her feet have barely touched the ground and the kid's already outgrown her first shoes -- incredibly cute brown Robeez slippers with cherries on them. They served to keep her socks on and helped people ID her as female. "What a cute..." they'd say as they scanned her bald head and yellow & brown monkey outfit. Ah hah, cherries! "...girl." These apparently connote infant femininity. Lately they've served as teething fodder as she attempts to cram both feet at once into her future (cherry) pie hole.

As a recently fallen vegan, I wouldn't have bought her leather shoes, but they were a gift, and I've guiltily loved them so much that I've been in a quandary. Do I size up and contribute to the hideous hide-stealing industry? I decided I could live with buying them second hand, and found a ton of them on eBay. I don't know what came over me. Perchance it's that I haven't shopped for anything besides maternity pants, baby gear or groceries in the past year. I've been shuffling around in my pilly yoga pants, nursing tanktops and generic Converse kicks, unaware that a lil' shopping spree was needing to take place, with or without my consent. I went into an altered state when I saw all those Robeez on the electronic auction block. Cupcakes! Lady Bugs! Butterflies! Flaming guitars! I intended to buy one pair. I won five. Five pairs of shoes that will fit for maybe three months, for a kid who isn't yet walking, as we go into bare feet season. And yes, those are two identical pairs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I'm watching a tiny TV monitor on which Stellina sleeps. Her back is to the camera set up at the bedside and still I'm transfixed. I watch to be sure her shoulder rises and falls and to be sure she doesn't roll far. We share our bed and when I'm in it she's tucked in next to me, the same place she's been since her first night ex utero. The bassinet at the hospital seemed too far away; the same with the cosleeper we'd set up at home, in which extra pillows, a heating pad, back issues of Brain, Child magazine, a burp cloth and my vibrator now reside (at Arm's Reach).

It's kind of like watching the ultrasound. The picture is blurry and black and white, body parts a bit amorphous. I'm only certain that's her head because I just smooched it goodnight before slowly extracting myself from the bed, to attempt to get something non-baby-related done. Like staring at and writing about the baby.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Fine Dining

We brought Stellina out to dinner for the second time tonight. Talk about suburban fare -- first Red Lobster, now Pizzeria Uno's. Forget about the quality of the food or the atmosphere; what matters most now is whether or not there's a changing table in the bathroom and that the atmosphere is raucous enough that a screeching baby won't disturb the other diners. I always wondered why the parking lots of those fine strip-mall dining establishments were packed. Who eats there? I would say disdainfully. That'd be me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Baby's first boogers

We've just weathered Stellina's first cold -- not one of those "firsts" I was looking forward to. Poor little bean, clawing at her stuffy nose with the most perplexed expression; coughing and sneezing, then throwing up from all that unexpected commotion. Despite the misery it caused my girl, and the lack of sleep it caused us both, it was an opportunity to put a character quirk of mine to good use. I've always had a strong stomach for and gross fascination with bodily excretions, and that trait will come in mighty handy as a parent, I can tell already. I had to go easy on the bulb syringe, as to not irritate her teensy nasal passages...but it was so neat-o to see how much snot I could suck out with the hospital-grade gizmo. And if a stubborn glob would spring back inward, I'd grab it and pull it out with my fingers. Breathin easy in suburbia tonight...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Egg Head

Stellina is officially four months old, having made her grand entrance -- exit? -- October 8. We dutifully went to the pediatrician for her four-month visit. It was the first time she's been to the doc in which she didn't wail and shudder the entire time, which was a pleasant change for all involved. The stats: she is 14.6 pounds and 25 inches tall, which puts her in the 91st percentile for height (or length, technically, I guess, since she can't yet stand unassisted). Her head circumference is in the 75th percentile. Her noggin is a distinctive sort of shape. No back-sleeping flat spots or anything, it's just kind of conical. I thought that was from her rapid descent from womb to delivery room, but it still hasn't totally rounded out. I asked the doctor, "Is her head unusually long and big?" He studied her for a moment and said, "Well, it's proportionate to the rest of her. It's just oval-shaped. Like mine." I wish I could insert a photo of him at this point because it's really a visual joke. They have the same exact bald eggy head shape. I blathered something about it being a beautiful head shape and changed the subject. Speaking of egg heads, here's the girl in my favorite hat, which I bought on Etsy back in August, before I could possibly have known how fitting it would be:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


My daughter's name is Stellina, which means "little star" in Italian. I got it from a beautiful children's book by author-illustrator Matteo Pericoli that crossed my desk as a magazine editor. It suits her, I think. People respond to her when we're out and about in the world like she's a tiny celebrity. They make ridiculous faces and clap and murmer and invite us to cut in line. Stellina perches in the Baby Bjorn, flashing her gums and groping the fingers of her fans while I, as her agent and chauffer, steer her away from croupy-sounding children. Of course I realize that all babies get this star treatment. As they should -- it's like one big welcome-to-the-world party. And I feel welcomed, too -- strangers have never been friendlier. It's a great gig, this baby-handling business.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I'm concerned that my daughter is an emotional eater. Since she spends most of the day in the Baby Bjorn or in my arms, she is rarely a foot away from her food source. Yet when she becomes hungry she hollers as if it's been days since she last set eyes on a set of breasts. It's not often more than a minute between her yowling announcement and chow time, but she doesn't seem to remember this from meal to meal.

Today I miscalculated and kept her out doing errands for a few minutes longer than she usually goes between feedings. She began to gripe as we pulled out the grocery store parking lot; by the time we got home seven minutes later she was in full SOS mode. I have to chant at such times, "She is safe, she is not hurt, she only ate two hours ago, she is not starving" so I don't try to jump in the backseat with her whilst driving. I tell her she is alright, that I hear her. I thank her for communicating her needs so clearly. I remind myself to take care of my needs so I can tend to hers -- like using the bathroom or getting a snack before settling down to nurse.

If she is full-throttle hollering by the time I'm ready and able to feed her, she lets her disappointment be known for a while longer. Today she sobbed as she ate, unable to move beyond the consuming upset quite yet. As she calmed down, she keeps pausing to pull back and stare up at me, her huge blue, wet eyes unblinking, for seconds at a time, as if memorizing my face so as to later ID me in a police lineup. ("That's her, officer. She unloaded the groceries from the car and let the dog outside before feeding me. She's the one.") The leftover cry shuddered through her body, and she stayed fastened to my nipple long after she was finished, just because she could. It's easy to joke about my little gobbler, but I hope I can guide her wisely in her future relationship with food. Because I've had pretty large feelings at various points in my life over whether or not to eat something or other, and come from a family of women who've at times deprived or indulged themselves in extremes. Something I'm glad to be conscious of from when my bambina's this young.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tiptoeing Into the Blogosphere

I am quietly joining the ranks tonight of Mothers Who Blog. I'm ambivalent about documenting this maternal journey in such a possibly public way. Most diaries belong in a bedside table drawer. And it's not like this is a unique concept -- there are legions of other women typing away, stealing time from sleep at this very moment, other moms with blood-tinged eyes, their shirtfronts stained with nipple ointment, compelled to tell a computer screen about this mundane and profound job of suddenly being the center of -- origin of -- someone else's universe.

My 3-1/2-month-old daughter sleeps in her bouncy seat under the white-noise heater fan in the bathroom, the only spot she'll slumber aside from beside or on top of me. I just weighed us before sl-o-w-ly rolling her out of my arms and into the springy, angled nest. 146.6 minus 132.4 is 14 pounds, 2 ounces, or exactly twice her birthweight. She has doubled in size in less than 16 weeks, all from a sole diet of my making. She has wrist creases and chunky gams and cheeks full of farm-fresh collagen, and not a bottle of Nestle product has passed her lips. This is astonishing to me, this growing of another being. Why this milestone -- not pregnancy, nor the desire to document her here-ness from day 1 -- has prompted me to begin a blog, I'm not sure, but here I go, where plenty of others have boldy (bloggily, blurrily) gone before...
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr