Monday, October 13, 2008

Spider Webs by Amy Goldman Koss

Spider Webs

The spider weaves a sticky web
To capture bugs to eat.
What keeps the spider's sticky web
From sticking to her feet?

Spider webs are very tricky
Because not all the strands are sticky.
Unlike the passing hapless fly,
The spider knows which strands are dry.

But if she accidentally stands
Upon one of the sticky strands,
She still would not get stuck, you see--
Her oily body slides off free.
--Amy Goldman Koss

I had heard of this habit of spiders, of course, but had never seen it demonstrated as clearly as today on our walk. Some kind of dust has blown onto this spioder web and only stuck to some of the strands. It's very pretty.

I've been thinking, "I'd better write that down!" fairly often this week when Elizabeth does something new, so that means you all get to hear me bragging about the baby again. That's probably a good thing, because every time I write about myself and my own feelings, everybody writes back with deep concern asking if I'm all right.

While I appreciate the sentiment, and knowing that you care, I think I ought to put a disclaimer on here that says that one of the major purposes of this blog is therapeutic. Yes, I write in the blog when I'm feeling down, and yes I spell out in gruesome detail all the horrible things I've been thinking and feeling, but the act of writing them down lets me let go of them and not have to keep worrying about them anymore. In the case of the conference post last week, all the lousy stuff at the start was there to be a contrast to the wonderful hope filled talks, and to show how much good they did in changing my attitude from lousy to thankful and at peace. By the time you read how bad I was feeling, I was already over it.

The time when you should really worry is when there have been several dark posts, and then nothing at all -- especially no braggy about Elizabeth posts -- for a while. That means I'm too depressed to even bother writing, and that's bad news.

But we're not anywhere close to that right now. Let's get to the good stuff:

Bathtime for Elizabeth has moved from the kitchen sink into the big tub. The first time I tried it, and when we tried it in Ohio, she was very frightened and cried, and just generally wanted out. I think that the noise of the water running and echoing off the tiles was scary, and that on top of other new experiences, the sensory overload was just too much.

When I take her in for a bath now, she still startles at the noise. It's very cute -- she grabs me tight, buries her head in my arm, and kicks her legs. But then once she feels secure, she looks towards the noise, curious to see what it is (she has exactly the same reaction to the blender and the vacuum). I talk reassuringly to her about what a loud noise the water makes, then put her in the tub.

When she sees the bath toys floating in the water, she starts to make her bathtime happy chirping noise. She started making this noise when she was still bathing in the sink -- especially when she would play with the pink rubber duckie that tels if the water is to hot. I'm not sure if the noise refers to the ducky, or the special happiness of being in warm water with fun things to play with, or has expanded to include the happiness of making a louder echoing noise than the scary water is still making, but her bouncing smiling body language leaves no doubt that she's happy to be there.

While in the tub, she likes the challenge of catching a floating toy, chewing on mermaid hair, getting water poured on her back, watching water get poured out of a big cup, trying to drink from the big cup, watching the water droplets condense and run down the side of the tub, and feeling the currents when Mama swishes the water around. Sometimes she'll notice that she can make a splash too, and will play with that for a while, but it's not very often, and she seems surprised each time.

We've been taking a lot of baths recently because along with the normal messiness of everyday living, there's the special messiness of going to the park and crawling around eating the rocky dirt that passes for sand there, learning to feed herself food other than the nice sanitary puffs that Mama has been giving her, and getting sweaty in the heat waves we've been having (alternating with chilly weather more appropriate for October). Bathtime is also uniquely calming, and can get her to stop crying even when she's woken too early from a nap by sore gums (she's teething again).

Speaking of eating, I had a kind of revelation when I got back from my trip to Ohio. I realized that Elizabeth wasn't just chewing on things because she's a baby, or because she's teething. When she systematically gnawed the entire cover off a book by taking bites out of the cardboard, thoughtfully chewing, then going back for another bite, I finally got that she might want to be eating real food, and not just the almost liquid diet of milk and babyfood I had been giving her. I realized that my efforts to keep her from getting staining food on her pretty clothes were stifling her urges to learn and grow. I've been trying to let her explore more types of foods, and I've been doing things like taking her clothes off entirely, or putting enormous bibs on so that I can let go. She still managed to get banana stain (who knew that bananas of all things would be my worst stain enemy?) on her pretty red and white dress, but she sure had fun doing it.

Some of the things she likes to eat are: pita bread, tortillas, puffs, bananas, fruit cocktail, stewed tomatoes from chili, frozen baby food shaved ice (more texture than room temperature, and the cold is soothing on the gums), and yesterday, she had fun gnawing on my apple. She wants to learn how to drink from a cup, use a spoon, and grab anything on Mama's plate, and I need to find ways to let her be messy as she does it. By the way, she still loves eating paper and cardboard.

When sitting at the table, she often gets distracted by noises from outside the window. There are some wind chimes that are particularly fascinating, but even more so are sounds of the neighbor girl going outside to watch her grandma water the plants. Skylee (sp?) is about 7 or 8 months older than Elizabeth, and can walk and talk (in a kind of half Spanish/ half English baby talk that's almost entirely unintelligible to me). Grandma knows about as much English as I know Spanish, and I expect we both understand a lot more than we can come up with to say, so there's not a lot of deep communication that goes on between us. Elizabeth ad Skylee don't really care though, and just like to look at/grab each other and generally enjoy just watching the other be a happy little girl. When Elizabeth hears Skylee, nothing will satisfy her except going outside to see (she'll even start to cry if I don't take her out quickly enough). I'm still not certain that she doesn't think that other kids are just a special kind of kitty, a fascinating thing that moves in order to entertain her, but it's nice to see that she's becoming more social.

Speaking of kitties, our evening walks have become kitty hunts for Elizabeth. Our mobile home park has a large population of feral cats, and the management does nothing about it. It frustrates me, because they all seem to think my garden should be their litter box, and they don't even bother to bury it, so we get lots of enormous flies breeding in our yard. At the same time, it makes me happy that Elizabeth can get her kitty fix each day. When she spots one from the stroller, she sits up on the edge of her seat, kicks her legs, reaches out her hands, and starts panting (which is her way of saying, "I see it! I want it! I'm gonna work hard to get it!" about anything). We walk very slowly up to the kitty in question, trying not to spook it so that Elizabeth can get a good look. Most of the kitties are pretty patient, and a few will even give us a good meow or leg rub before slinking off under a car or house. A couple of times we've even seen a skunk out on his nightly prowls (we think he lives under our next-door-neighbor's house), but I wouldn't let Peter push Elizabeth's stroller nearer to him.

Elizabeth's current hobby is looking out my office window. At first, I let her just stand on the floor, but after she gnawed through the paint on the windowsill down to the plaster, I found I needed to make sure that part wasn't at mouth level anymore. Now she stands on a grey box full of random cords bits of electronics which was originally a barrier, but now is a stepstool to give her a better vantage point. She will stand there looking out the window for a good solid hour while I read email, write in my blog, or sew Halloween costumes. She seems to like the changing scenery -- she gets really excited when a car goes by -- and the breeze coming in and blowing in her face.

I gave her one of the sparkleys I had hanging there to catch the sun, and she twists and turns and chews on and bangs it, providing all the entertainment she needs. Occasionally, she will drop the sparkley, and be sad when she can't bend down and pick it up (if it falls between the box and the wall or into the fabric and netting next to the box), but a quick noise of displeasure alerts Mama that something is amiss, and the problem is soon remedied.

When I say she stands for an hour, I really mean that she does a kind of dance that involves squatting down, pulling up, side-stepping back and forth, bouncing, and sometimes (with increasing frequency) letting go altogether in order to manipulate the sparkley with both hands without relinquishing her view of the outside world. She can stand unsupported for a good 30 seconds to a minute, and likes to practice balancing. When we clap for her, she'll even start to show off by leaning and correcting or bending down and coming back up.

While I'm on the subject of the office, there's a funny/sad story I want to tell. You may remember that a few months ago, I posted a youtube video of Elizabeth trying to get the rattle on her exersaucer. She's been yanking on the rattle for months now, and one day I detached it from the saucer. The poor baby was OVERCOME with glee. This video is about ten minutes later, and she's still frequently doubled up with happiness at finally being able to hold the whole thing. It makes me kind of sad to know that she's been so frustrated for months over this thing.

I've posted several pictures of Elizabeth in her pumpkin hat, which I made after seeing a similar one in a flickr group of handcrafted baby stuff. One of the other hats I saw was a bunny hat. I might have been able to find and read a pattern to knit a similar one, but I'm really better at crochet, and Grandma Becky is always asking me what I want her to knit for Elizabeth, so I sent her the link and set her loose. Here's the result. In her email thank you note to Grandma, Elizabeth said, "Thank you Grandma, for my bunny hat! I wasn't cute enough before! ;)"

Well, that's all for now. Elizabeth has been asleep for an hour and may wake up at any minute. I also need to eat some breakfast before it's lunchtime. Remember, there's more photos on Picasa and videos on youtube than I post in the blog. Links are in the sidebar.


  1. This blog sure is going to be great for her (and you!) to read when she's older. It's a multimedia baby book!

  2. This was a treasure to read. Thanks for sharing everything in such detail.

  3. Watch out, she's eating books!

    That hat is just darling.