Posts tagged ‘milestones’

Eight Things About Eight

It looks the same upside down and right side up.

On its side, it’s the symbol for infinity.

It’s a power of 2.

It’s a homophone (remember the old joke, Why was six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine.)

It’s a Fibonacci number.

It’s the number of notes in an octave.

It’s the number of planets in the solar system (sorry, Pluto, we still miss you).

It’s the age of my firstborn son. Happy birthday, Ben!

image credit

9 for ’09

I didn’t manage 9 categories, but here are my top 9’s in 6 (9 upside-down) categories for 2009:

Memorable Meals

Eli’s first meat, a meatball at the Pasta Pomodoro in San Rafael, of all places: “Mama, I know it’s meat, and I want it.”
Jewish Quarter falafel with Lilya
Tony’s 40th birthday party at Beretta – burrata on pizza, mmmm…
Dinner with Libby and her family at Jamie’s Italian in Oxford
One lukewarm bottle of water at Legoland in England (where it does get hot but they still don’t have ice): the difference between surviving the day and passing out from heat stroke
Picnics by the pool
Cocktails & dessert at Aziza, any Monday night we had babysitting
Birthday parties for stuffies, with bowls of unsalted peanuts and eucalyptus leaves, hosted by Eli
Dinner and Christmas carol mash-up/singalong, with my parents, led by the boys

Best books

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
My Life in France by Julia Child
The King (poems) by Rebecca Wolff
Boy Alone: A Brother’s Memoir by Karl Taro Greenfield
This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Lit by Mary Karr


Where the Wild Things Are – a terrific adaptation
Ponyo – Eli’s first movie theater movie since he graduated from the sling
Fantastic Mr. Fox – our first movie outing as a family
The Class (Entre Les Murs) – best new teaching movie
Who Does She Think She Is? – my favorite documentary of the year
Inglourious Basterds – actors, director, everyone at the top of their game
The Hurt Locker – the best war movie
(500) Days of Summer – best dance sequence of the year (and probably decade)
Sweet Land – my favorite love story of the year

2009 Memories and milestones

Eli and Mariah asleep, leaning their heads on each other, in the back of the car on the drive home from Pt. Reyes
Ben learning to ride his bike without training wheels
AWP in Chicago, meeting so many literary mamas, spending 4 days without the boys
Tony’s and my night away at Indian Springs Resort
Wine and snacks with Rob, Lilya, Liz and Ross while our boys played soccer in the courtyard of our Paris rental with one of the boys who lived in the building
An amazingly relaxing two night Big Basin camp-out (8 adults and 7 boys)
Eli learning to read
Ben playing soccer at school recess
Mama, PhD readings at Duke and the University of Richmond


Tate Modern + London Transit Museum
Andy Goldsworthy’s Spire in the Presidio
Musee de l’orangerie
Amish Abstrations quilt show at the De Young
Eli counting down to his weekly preschool art days
Seeing Maya Lin and Andy Goldsworthy installations at Storm King Art Center
Bidding on one of Tony’s dad‘s paintings in an online auction – and winning!
Ben learning how to weave


Eli: “I just want one more hug of you.”
Ben: “How is it that I am I?”
Eli: “I want some food.” Tony: “I’m making dinner.” Eli: “I want something more fastly.”
Ben imitating Yogi Bear: “Hey, Boo Boo!”
Eli rejecting a band-aid for his sore throat, “And anyway, the inside of my throat isn’t stickable!”
Ben: “I’m going to try something new!”
Eli: “Mama? Since you are two years older than Tony, why don’t you know more about LEGO?”
Ben to Eli, referring to us, “Ask one of the grown-ups.”
Eli to me: ” I love you cozier than my bed, curlier than your hair, and gooder than my oatmeal.”

May your 2010 be gooder than oatmeal, too.

Lucky 7

Ben’s been doing a lot of “greater than/less than” (>/<) exercises in school lately, so in honor of his birthday:
7 kinds of airplanes for which he knows the technical specifications

< 7 hours of labor (it actually felt more like 7 minutes) < 7 nights I have been away from him > 7 kinds of airplanes for which he knows the technical specifications

> 7 plane rides this past year

> 7 times a day he will happily build and rebuild the Lego mail plane I brought him from Chicago

< 7 items on his birthday party menu (he'd like to serve cupcakes, raspberries, kumquats, milk, water and orange juice) > 7 x 7 to the 7th that I love him.

edited to add: I am blogging about birthday cake over at Learning to Eat.

Now We Are Six

Six years ago today, I was sitting at my desk emailing with my writing students. It was Sunday night, around 11 pm, but they were all on line and a little freaked out that–despite plenty of warning (and the daily evidence of my growing belly)–I wasn’t going to finish out the quarter with them. The previous Friday, at my 38-week check-up, my ob had put an end to my two-hour daily commute. I went on maternity leave without ever returning to campus.

So there I was, typing away, when I realized my water had broken. I logged off with the students, emailed a quick note to my department chair, and called my ob’s answering service, where a weary nurse listened to my nervous answers to her questions about my symptoms (none, other than the water breaking), told me get some sleep and call back in the morning.

Tony emailed his new boss (he’s only been in the job about two weeks), and started packing a bag. He tossed in the Sunday paper and a crossword puzzle book — apparently we thought we’d run out of things to do in the hospital. We didn’t know anything yet about how all-consuming (and yet often quite boring) parenting can be. The cradle wasn’t set up, the car seat was in the car but we didn’t know how to use it. I went to sleep.

A couple hours later I woke up with a contraction, announced the news to Tony, and went back to sleep. A few hours after that I had a contraction that about kicked me out of bed. I spent the next hour or so moaning, counting down the time until we could reasonably go to the hospital. We were both so afraid of getting to the hospital too early; it had been drummed into us to wait until the contractions were a certain duration and coming at certain intervals. Mine were totally irregular and knocking me off my feet. I felt pathetic that I couldn’t handle them. Tony called the hospital and told them we were coming in.

We got to the hospital around 7:30 and the nurse who examined me said I was fully dilated. I could have kissed her. Suddenly full of energy, I managed to get through the admitting procedures and get into a room before pushing Ben out into the world just after 9.

Ben likes to hear the story of the day he was born when he is falling asleep or feeling sad, and this is the version I tell him:

“When you were in my belly I was a teacher. Every day I would drive to a school with long brick pathways and big green lawns. I carried a heavy backpack, bigger than yours, full of papers and books, from my office to my classroom. My students and I would talk about books together, and I would help them write essays about what they read.

“Until one day, my doctor said, ‘I think your baby’s going to be born soon. I think it’s time for you to stop working.’ So that day I went to the movies. And the next day, Daddy and I visited with a lot of our friends and told them how excited we were to meet you. That night, I felt you start to kick and wiggle in a new way, and I called my doctor, who told me to wait until morning to come to the hospital. So I went to sleep.

“But you kept kicking and wiggling until I couldn’t sleep anymore, so Daddy and I got up and he drove us to the hospital super fast. We parked the car and rode upstairs in the elevator, and when we got off the elevator, the nurse said, “You look great!” because nurses love to see a woman who’s about to have a baby.

“She took me to my hospital room, and helped me into my hospital nightgown, and I climbed into my hospital bed, and I pushed and I pushed and I pushed and out you came! And you had your arms spread wide, and I reached out to cuddle you up, and I said, “Benjamin! Benjamin is here! I am so happy that Benjamin is here.”

And I am still so happy that Benjamin is here.

The First Tooth

We don’t seem to track milestones in Ben’s development so much these days. Some time recently we noticed that he can read silently now (which means Eli doesn’t get so many bedtime stories read by his big brother any more), but the days of noting — and recording– the first step, the first jump. . . those days are long past. (He’s playing basketball now, but we’re not holding our breaths for the first slam dunk.)

But today we had a good one to note: he lost his first tooth! Exactly 5 years, 5 months, and 2 days (thank goodness for baby books) after we noticed his first baby tooth, it fell out of his mouth, the casualty of a big bite of dried mango. It’d been hanging on for a couple weeks now, the adult tooth coming up behind, rather than pushing up from below, so he doesn’t even have much of a gap. This strikes us as quite true to form: our Ben doesn’t do anything without being well and truly prepared.

Above: the first tooth, with a Joe’s O for scale