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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Starting Young in the Art of Selective Hearing

I can hear you just fine. But I'm busy.

Today I had a hearing test. So it was back to my favorite hospital, the one at which I was born, operated, convalesced and visited others. The hearing test is just one of many hooks that doctors like to offer to little babies to keep us coming back to visit them. Otherwise we would only see them for emergencies and then we would associate doctors with pain and chaos.  

We arrived early in the morning and met the doctor who would conduct my test. Immediately, she spelled out all the caveats. We babies may hear, but we don't always tell. We may not turn our heads toward the sounds or our focus is elsewhere and we ignored the sound. And so the professionals are left guessing. When adult humans take a hearing test, they are told to raise their hand when they hear a noise. Babies are not so reliable.

So, when it was my turn to perform, the doctor left the soundproof room and started speaking, yelling or whispering awkward noises over a microphone, but I didn't always look over at the speaker from which the sound came. Why not? Well, there are several possibilities and/or reasons:
  1. My feet, at which I was staring, were far more fascinating than her voice
  2. Her words and sounds were just not that interesting
  3. I already knew she wasn't in the room, and it wasn't a TV, so why look around?
  4. I felt embarrassed for her making all those funny sounds, so I pretended it wasn't happening. For her sake.
You see, selective hearing is a trait we begin working on already in our first year. Just as the speech therapists tell you that we begin processing words at this young age, we are also refining the art of selective listening. For example, if you call my name, but the TV is on, I won't look at you. I'm already happy with what I'm doing, so please do not interrupt. But if the apartment is completely silent, like when you are tiptoeing around in the morning trying not to awaken me, I've already heard you and am staring at the door of my room awaiting your entry.

I can hear the finer, softer sounds - when it behooves me. But if they knew this, the doctors wouldn't get to see me every couple of months and they would feel deprived. Accordingly, I will see them again in October and November, because I didn't conclusively pass their test. They just can't get enough of me!

Later, mommy did her own hearing test on me: Calling my name vs. the TV. She had Mimi call  my name over Skype as I sat directly next to the computer, volume on full. I did not look when called. But then, when mommy secretly clicked a button, I heard the dulcet tones of the TV (on very low volume) and I turned my entire body 180 degrees to get a good view.

Yes, I can hear. I merely choose to which sound to respond.

I even got mommy hooked now

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Culinary Adventure and a Nouveau Gourmand

Ecstasy - my first taste of pesto!

This past week has been an amazing string of firsts in my young life. And all these firsts have to do with food. It isn't just that I had new foods that I never tasted before, but some of them have been so exotic that I think I am on track to be un petit gourmand. Here is how this all transpired.

Some of this has been inspired by authentic Italians, like my cousin Jake. Hearing about Jake's daily feeding frenzy, all cooked up by his nonna, Rosie, left me in a tizzy of jealousy. Mommy took some inspiration from cousin's Sabrina's email (and yes, Sabrina, mommy will email you before the century is over). Other inspiration was derived from Ravid, an authentic Israeli and mother of one of my Shalva buddies, Shahaf. She makes everything fresh and from scratch plus she had a few tips - add tehina or avocado to everything in order to bulk it up. She adds either of those items to fruit shakes and oatmeal.

After having read Sabrina's recounting of Jake's Italian menu, and as she sat next to Ravid feeding me a carton of yogurt, mommy, ever the sleuth, realized what the problem was: She doesn't really cook. In order for me to eat the good food, she might actually have to devote time to cooking and pureeing. Time to get to work!

I'm always a little serious when taking my first bite

Armed with this inspiration and a burst of creative energy mommy went shopping and then dedicated an evening to cooking. Mommy is an "all or nothing" personality. That means she cooked everything in one evening and then stored much of it in the freezer, so she doesn't have to cook again for the rest of the week. It also means that she can't control herself with the seasoning. 

Her reasoning is that just because I am a baby doesn't mean I shouldn't also be exposed to the proper flavors. Accordingly, she has thrown caution to the wind including fears of food allergies or spices that a baby cannot handle. Whole milk at one year? Well, straight up, sure, we can wait. But included as part of something greater, why not? Lucky for her I have complied, having no strange reactions. And in the meantime I'm developing quite a sophisticated palate.

My food journey began on Saturday last week. It was mommy and abba's anniversary and they told me they had been together for six years. This is slightly confusing to me as I thought life only began on Aug. 15, 2010. But apparently it has stretched back more than just that and more than even those six years of my parents. Hmm. But instead of dwelling on these new concepts, I took advantage of the occasion to taste some new foods. We had pancakes with raspberries and maple syrup. Yum! And then later - after I awoke magically in an outdoor restaurant - I tasted, for the first time, pizza! I'd like to note that while the media dissed Donald Trump and Sarah Palin for eating pizza with a fork and knife, now that I'm a pizza connoisseur I have been duly informed that my own very sophisticated Italian grandparents have never eaten pizza WITHOUT utensils. And they are 100 percent Italian, grazie mille. I'd rather follow their wisdom than that of the mainstream media.

Got pesto?

The rest of this week of new beginnings unfolded like this:

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not exotic, but an American staple. This wasn't meant for me, but mommy was eating it and my puppy dog eyes begged for a bite. I had several.
  • Spinach with bechamel sauce, or besciamela for you real Italians (link to recipe for the sauce, and grazie for the inspiration Rosie via Sabrina!)
  • Homemade tehina - meaning mommy controlled the quantities, meaning zero garlic!
  • Cheddar cheese omelette 
  • Cream of broccoli mush (not quite soup) with carrots, potatoes and cream. Like I said, she's "all or nothing" so she couldn't stop with just broccoli. I devoured this. 
  • And the crown jewel of the week, Trofie al pesto, a delectable Ligurian pasta (link to recipe and explanation), with mommy's homemade pesto again employing portion control - no garlic, just like the real Genovese Italians! The texture was excited, the pesto popped in my mouth and, even having never been there, the very taste conjured up images of the Italian coast. Ahhh. 
Hurry up and feed me!

I also perfected my use of the straw cup. The first time I tried it was on Sunday. By Tuesday, I was an expert. And then I did another funny thing - I took a bottle. I have been on a bottle strike for 7 months now. Remember all the fretting around marathon season when my parents thought I would starve? Haha, silly them. Well this week we had a minor heat wave here, so my parents thought they would try to get some liquids into me in a quick fix. Just for the heck of it. Well, I shocked them all - perhaps you felt the shock waves around the world - by willingly sucking down a whole bottle. 

I'm a new baby. 

Me about to awake at yet another restaurant
I awake and the smothering begins
Enough with the kisses! I want more pizza!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daniel is Upstaged! By Himself

Me, several months ago, in a candy store. Yum!
Just yesterday, to be nice, mommy revealed to her mommy, a Daniel-deprived Mimi, that she had uploaded an extra video of Yours Truly to youtube, but we had not yet unveiled it on my blog. Mimi found it, watched it, screamed in delight and then quickly shared the joy with several people by forwarding the link. 

Not long after that, Zia Em, in a fit of thrill, also decided to share her joy ... with the world. And thus, she upstaged me and my blog by posting this video to her own facebook wall. Did you know she has something like 1 million friends? That is way more than mommy's sub-1,000 friend list. 

I dare say the video has gone near viral thanks to Zem. 

Zia Em and I have a lot in common. For one, we have the ability to resist sleep when we don't want to miss out on something. In fact, when I was in New York I was like the city itself - the baby that never slept. Zia Em was instrumental in bringing me to see the tree at Rockefeller Center at 11 p.m. I did sleep hard when I went to sleep, and usually for eight hours straight. But I never went to my lonely bed before midnight. Also, Mimi reports another similarity: When Zia Em was a baby she squealed in anger if someone took food away from her. I have just taken up that trait as well. It looks like our undeclared motto is: I want it and I want it now, be it food, fun or action. 

And it was probably that same spirit of instantaneousness that drove Zia Em to share with the world, in the very same moment in which she saw it, my best video to date. So there it was, publicized to her millions on facebook, upstaging my next blog. 

I have learned an important lesson from this: If I am to compete in the realm of Zia Em, I must act fast. 

And so, in case you haven't seen it yet, here is the infamous video in which I have an utter fit of cuteness and I can't stop. Mommy kept asking me to stop being cute so she could pick me up and get on with her day. But I couldn't help myself. It comes naturally I guess. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Clean Bill of Health

This photo has nothing to do with the following post. But it is cute.
On Sunday, I had my six-week checkup after my heart operation and I am happy to say that everything is just peachy in there. The fun doctor said I don't have to see him for six more months and then after than only once a year just to make sure everything is still kosher.

I will miss these appointments. For one, I was already a budding cardiologist who helped conduct my own ultrasounds. As soon as they shut the lights, I know what is coming. My eyes go wide to adjust to the darkness. Then the remote control with the gel is placed on my chest. At that point I launch into action helping to guide the probe. I am impressed with the high tech equipment too and the opportunity to hear my own heartbeat pulsate throughout the room on the loud speakers. 

I will also miss seeing the cardiologist, Prof. Azariah Rein. He is by far the funnest doctor out there. We have the best appointments ever. He sings, I dance. He chirps like a bird. He allows me to help him during procedure while explaining to me all the intricacies of the heart, including my two vena cavas!   He sings dictation - in opera - which makes it much more interesting than mere rote analysis of my heart.

You know what, let me show you what I am talking about. This should be much more interesting than just reading my musings.

Some highlights included "nice patch," "perfect repair" and "no leakage whatsoever." All good news!

Monday, June 13, 2011

A New Era

Let the games begin!
We have entered a new era in the baby kingdom. In the last few weeks, mealtime has become a complete and utter mess.

Mommy, being a new mommy, only recently learned that she can give me finger food. She thought finger food and teeth were necessary partners. Up until just a few weeks ago we had tidy feeding sessions. Mommy was in complete control with the spoon and, with a flick of her wrist, would wipe away food remnants around my mouth. Abba too is a bit fastidious and always has wipes on hand. But lately things have started turning ugly. Bibs have nothing on the quickness and alacrity of a baby.

Once the hands are involved, a multitude of chain reactions takes place. For example: After a few minutes, the melt-in-my-mouth biscuit smushes onto my hand. It soon drops from hand into my lap. Instantly my hand shoots upward to rub my eye. Then as mommy reaches to extract the hand from my eye, as quick as a flash, the offending hand has reached my hair. Mommy follows, but by that point the hand is rubbing off the biscuit remnants onto my clothing. and sundry other spots 

And there are many crevasses in which the food can hide especially with my new ample thighs.


That cheerio is supposed to end up in my mouth

But it doesn't always turn out that way

My seat after a particularly messy feeding,
cheerio and biscuit shrapnel everywhere

Another frontier of absolute mealtime chaos is my newly acquired mode of consumption: a straw cup! Liquid flying through a cylinder can be dangerous especially when the concept is still new. Adding to the mess was mommy's lack of control in squeezing the liquid from the honey bear cup: I got showered with yogurt spray each time. After futile attempts at coaxing me into it, mommy had to seek the help of an expert. So my friend Esti at Shalva took some time, and of course, I caught the concept right away once explained by an authority. You can see the miracle occur before your very eyes as captured on video. Also, note the proper pronunciation of the word straw if you hail from the Five Boroughs: S-H-T-R-A-W. Yes, I'm learning proper English.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Daniel Parties On

Me and my party animal friends, Hallel and Ephraim
This week, I attended my very first birthday party. Way back during my first days at Shalva about eight months ago, I made a good friend who was also attending the Me and my Mommy Program. And Hallel just turned one! Hallel lives close by and her mommy threw a big birthday party for her and we were invited.

At Hallel's birthday party, I met Ephraim too. Ephraim was born just about 10 days after me! This party was my first experience not being the only baby in a large setting in a long time. Yes, there are several babies at Me and My Mommy, but we all have our own individual experiences and personal trainers, so I remain the center of attention at all times. There isn't much interaction with the other babies except for during pool time. However, at that point a form of Darwinism kicks in and we all fend for ourselves. Many times the pool experience unravels into crying fits and, one by one, we babies are removed from the pool due to fear of hyperventilation. You see, the pool isn't refreshing relaxing, it actually involves some challenging work.

But I digress. Back to the party. We babies all rolled around on the grass, three of us around the same general size and age. Social interaction with peers rather than adults is a new phenomenon for me and one I plan to further explore. Of course, large gatherings of my baby cousins are already being planned for August when I pilgrim to New York. so I have to practice my baby interaction.

Walking is overrated - here Hallel is practicing flying

A trio of cuteness

Can you tell who is the serious one here? Not I. Not Hallel.

Here you can see I was practicing other skills:

Step 1: Identify target

Step 2: Move in

Step 3: Make my move

Step 4: Secure target
My first girlfriend? Hm. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another First for Daniel: Halitosis!

My new favorite: Toes!
In an embarrassing turn of events, both abba and mommy have separately noted that I, a baby of a mere 10 months, have garlic breath!

How has this happened? This household is anti-garlic. Mommy insists that Italian and garlic are not synonymous, that it is a widespread myth of Italian cooking. Certainly garlic does not have a starring role in northern Italian cooking. In our apartment, there isn't even a clove of the offending bulb to be found. Even abba, a Middle Easterner, is not a big fan unless the garlic appears in sujouk and other Armenian delicacies. 

Mommy thought she caught a whiff of garlic on my breath yesterday, but quickly dismissed the idea. I am an unadulterated baby. Babies can't have bad breath. We haven't consumed amounts of bad food yet, just pureed bits of straightforward meals, nothing complicated or unhealthy. So our breath surely is as pure as cannoli cream. 

But later on, abba confirmed that yes in fact, I have bad breath! 

So how is it that the pure, uncontaminated child has garlic breath? No garlic in my oatmeal, none in the yogurt, not even a bit in the beef stew. Then the light bulbs went off: It was the hummus! The store-bought hummus with which I have been plied has trace amounts of garlic in it. Trace, but enough to destroy the breath of a baby nonetheless. 

There is a reason a flower is named "baby's breath." It is because we babies are supposed to have breath like flowers. But alas, I have been contaminated by food. And it can't be my fault since I don't shop or cook. But I do believe this might be the impetus to inspire mommy's homemade hummus from now on as we forge ahead in our non-garlic household. 

I suppose the taste of foot has conditioned my taste buds to garlic.