My runs, along the Hudson

These days, my runs take place along the Hudson River. It goes like this. I wake up to an insistent little girl's "Mommy, get UP!" and put some oatmeal on the stove (or lately, rice pudding!), and brush my teeth and put on my running clothes. I take Meeks out to do his business and buy myself an espresso at the little Cuban coffee hut downstairs. Then I drink it while doing a puzzle or playing with legos on the floor with Catherine. Once sufficiently awake, I give Catherine her breakfast and let Chris know I'm leaving, and what they do while I'm gone, is their business (but I'm pretty sure it involves Catherine watching Mickey Mouse on Chris's phone while he sneaks in a few more Zs and showers in relative peace).

These runs are just about the only time that is all mine.  I step out the door of our apartment building in the early mornings and run three blocks west, past construction sites and coffee shops, dog walkers and high-heeled professionals, cobblestone streets and stinking bags of trash until the shadowy streets and fire-escaped brick buildings part and the sun comes bursting forth, reflected on the rippled water (that sounds a little dramatic but it really does appear like that). I have two Pandora stations and I alternate between them. One is called Mos Def. The other is called Counting Crows. I feel decidedly different depending on which one I'm listening to. When I listen to the Mos Def station, I am a bit of a badass, just so you know. But my Counting Crows station, which plays a wide variety of emotionally charged and poetic songs from the 90s, is the best.  When I run to Counting Crows, I feel open.  I'm sure my running posture says so.  Eyes fixed on the Statue of Liberty, the breeze cold and sharp on my face, the water-smell of the river, and Adam Duritz and all his feelings, and I literally feel like I'm about to take off like one of the fat pigeons that won't get out of my way until the last minute, except more graceful-like, much more graceful-like (of course).

I think while I run.  Often about Catherine and whether or not I'm being a good mom and what she needs more of or less of and what I can do with her to delight her or what new thing I can teach her or, on a bad day, how I can distract her. Other times about myself, how free I feel in that moment, how starting today I'm not eating any sugar and surely I can make it until bedtime, this time, and how I want to be a writer but I don't know when.

I come home with flushed cheeks and a surge of optimism. The time is short, like this nap during which time I've shirked my other duties in order to write this blog post.

"Mommy petty. Mommy petty bond hair. Wike pincess." Touches my unwashed hair which is still in the shape of the sweaty ponytail I've just removed. Then suddenly, "I gotta pee!" and jumps up and runs to the bathroom where I hear her do just that. This time is short, too.

Well, I wrote something. And that feels good. And when Catherine wakes up (any minute!) we're going to make m&m cookies (her choice!) and that will feel good too. And as for not eating any sugar? There's always tomorrow.

Supper last night

Because I always go back to food. :) Shell peas from the farmers market (shelled by yours truly while watching The Royal Tenenbaums with a big bowl perched upon my lap), freshly shucked corn on the cob (Catherine’s fav), green mac n cheese (a staple here), and biscuits (the only biscuit recipe I ever use, except I use all butter because I never have shortening – for shame!). I cook about 5 nights a week, but this was post-worthy because in all my years of cooking I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a meal I cooked as much as this one. It was really perfection, to me anyway. We had leftovers tonight but it just wasn’t the same.

Catherine loves corn on the cob. More than ANYTHING. To watch her eat it, you’d think she hadn’t eaten in days.

Almost-two is definitely an amazing age. It should be called The Wonderful Twos in my opinion.

My Favorite Smoothie

So much has happened since I last blogged. Catherine has blossomed into a perfect almost-two-year old girl with big blue eyes and white blonde curls. We have moved to New York City. And, I have discovered this smoothie and haven't looked back.

[Here is where you imagine I took the time to post a photograph of this pure grass-green smoothie in a tall glass on my white, sunlight-drenched breakfast table.]

Here's a little exercise I did just for you.  Q: Can you describe this smoothie in a few words? A: Yes. Clean. Creamy. Refreshing. Filling. Light. Perfection.

Banana Parsley Smoothie

1 banana

1 big handful fresh parsley

chia and flax seeds

water and ice

Blend until smooth. Drink. Enjoy flavors like: subtly sweet and creamy from the banana, grassy and clean and fragrant from the parsley, substantial from the seeds, and cold and refreshing from the ice water. You'll feel completely satisfied and it will hold you over for hours, yet has very few calories.

Little Dipper

Tonight we had sandwiches, cut into the shape of stars.  They were grilled extra sharp white cheddar cheese sandwiches, with finely chopped spinach inside, all on "whole grain" bread bought at Target, because there was no time to get any really good bread from the farmers market, and this was the only imperfect part of the whole meal, though it was barely noticeable.  Because the sandwiches were stars only in shape; the true unintended star was the dip/soup.  Composed of sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, parsley, cooked chickpeas, and a little sea salt, pepper, and bay leaf – simmered in just enough water to cover – then, and this being key, pureed in the Christmas Vitamix (as it shall hereto forth be known, for obvious reasons) to the consistency of velvet, it was first dipped into, then devoured with a spoon – poor grilled cheese sandwichescast aside (you got that, right? GRILLED CHEESE. CAST ASIDE!) in favor of orange velvet soup, by okay let’s be honest the TRUE, BIGGEST star of the table who has been on this earth only 18 months but knows a good dip/soup when she tastes one.

The moral of this star-studded story is that kids like to dip, and when we act on this knowledge we sometimes stumble upon something too good to share the stage.

I know it doesn't look like much, but 18-month olds' tummies just don't lie.

A decision has been reached.

When you become a parent, you instantly love your baby more than yourself, or any other person or thing – or even any dream.  Yet while you gain a new identity, you also remain who you always were before you began changing diapers and sitting on the floor making a dolly talk for someone else’s entertainment. I've always loved to write.

Currently, I face obstacles.  I don't want to write about food in the same way that I used to. I, like most people, love food, but don’t you think it’s become a little cliché as a topic?  What else is there to say about it?  Everyone’s talking about their preference for local, seasonal, and organic – as if it were a new idea, or as if they're more virtuous for having chosen it (never mind that it isn't an option for many).  We've described it in every term imaginable.  I no longer want to read about plump, juicy, deeply red heirloom tomatoes with just the right balance of sweetness and acidity.  I want to read about the tomatoes the more down-to-earth among us experience. The ones my kid bit into – then promptly spit out – so that its slippery seeds lodged themselves into hard-to-reach crannies of the high chair. Oh, and it wasn’t even a great tomato.  It was slightly green, probably loaded with pesticides, and came from a hothouse in Florida. But hey, it still tastes good on toast with a little mayo and a sprinkle of salt.

If I didn't write about food, I could write about something really nice, a place I’d like to be.  Perhaps I could write about a girl who dwells in a little cottage on a rocky cliff overlooking the New England Atlantic.  Each morning, she sits at a wooden desk beside a window, and writes and writes over numerous cups of steaming earl gray.  When she can’t write anymore, she takes her dog out for a run on the beach below.  She picks up pastel-colored seashells along the way, then drops them clinking into a shallow crystal catch-all dish on the foyer table - where they look effortlessly charming.  At night, she chops vegetables for a simple soup and goes back to writing with a glass of red wine.  Other nights, she prepares a feast and invites friends over.  They sip cocktails by the fire and converse long into the night.  Before she goes to bed, she braids her hair, puts on a pretty nightgown, and reads a little before dozing off, worry free, in a four-poster bed under a white down comforter. If this were my story, I guess it’d make me a romance novelist.  If it feels too perfect to be true, it lacks soul, and there’s little satisfaction in that.

Instead, maybe I’d write about a walk across the parking lot to Target at 7:59a.m.  It’s cold, dreary, and misting.  I’m carrying my 18-month old daughter on one hip.   Her face is crusted with oatmeal.  She’s wearing a pink beanie and a puffy jacket.  We’re going to get a cappuccino and stroll around under florescent lighting in search of toilet paper and laundry detergent.  Getting these items back into our apartment will require two trips up the stairs, since we’ve also brought along a toy baby stroller bearing a white stuffed kitty.  By the time we make it back inside, I’ll have just enough energy to deposit the plastic Target bags on our foyer floor, and they, like the seashells in my dream, will also look effortless.  You wouldn’t know it, but these early morning walks with Catherine are the happiest part of my day and I relish them.

Aside from the subject matter, yet to be determined, there’s something else to consider. Can I not care what you think?  Because in order to write well, I can’t. I’m not sure I’m capable of writing all the stupid things I need to write, in order to get to something halfway decent, with you watching.  Wait.  What is that you’re saying?  I’ve already written lots of stupid things here?  Oh, trust me, it gets way stupider.  Or then again, maybe it gets better.  In the past I’ve written with others’ perceived tastes cluttering up my mind, and the result is something that rings ever so slightly untrue.   So the reverse should be an improvement, right?

Do you know the feeling of having suddenly decided it’s worth it?  You just know.  That you’d rather be skinny than eat ice cream.  That you’d rather be alone forever, than stay in your current relationship.   That you’d rather be poor, than stay in your current job.  That you’d rather be happy than right.  That you’d rather be wrong than silent.  That you’d rather get lost than keep driving the same boring route every day.  That you have defined your priorities, and you know what to do.  It feels good, like steering a ship, one you’re qualified to steer, your ship.

Mada Lorene Cox Belyeu

This weekend we drove to New Albany for Lorene’s funeral.  Mrs. Mada Lorene Cox Belyeu passed away at 99 years old.  She was a kind, wonderful woman who lived through, as James pointed out at her funeral, the Great Depression, both World Wars, and countless other events that shaped our nation.  It’s amazing to think of one person living to see so much change...and probably so much lack thereof, come to think of it.  I only had the privilege of knowing her a few years, but I always thought very highly of her.  She was a kind and giving person, never seeming to put herself first, or put on airs.  But she had a vain streak, which was charmingly girly.  Everyone, especially Chris, made it clear to me that her cooking and  virtues were something to strive for.  I don’t think I’ll ever make cornbread or tomato soup as well as she did, and I know I won’t grow a tomato or cantaloupe that tastes better than her homegrown ones. By the time I met Lorene, she was very hard of hearing.  If you wanted her to hear you, you had better assert yourself loud and clear.  Being reserved, I found this difficult at first so I missed out on conversations I could have had with her.  But eventually I found my “Lorene” voice and am thankful I did.  When Catherine and I went to Mississippi without Chris, we got to spend some extra time with Lorene.  We made breakfast together, looked through old photos, went to Walmart for some groceries.  Lorene mentioned she really wanted some new shoes and clothes.  But I had to get back to the house to breastfeed Catherine, who was still too little to be away from me for very long.  I planned to take her back to Walmart for a real shopping trip the next chance I got.  But Lorene fell and hurt herself, and we didn’t get another chance.

We spend Catherine's first Christmas in Mississippi.  Since by then Lorene was living with James and Margaret, we got to spend more time with her than usual, though she couldn’t get around easily and so spent much of her time upstairs in her chair.  Catherine was just learning to sit up.  In the morning, I’d spread out a blanket and prop Catherine up with pillows and give her toys.  I’d sit in the chair next to Lorene and drink coffee and work on sewing Catherine’s Christmas stocking.  We didn’t talk too much but I figured she’d like some company and I enjoyed hers.

Lorene’s eyes were pale blue and she had very good hair, especially compared to most 99-year-old women - even though she was always critiquing it.  She never had children, but she had a husband named Carlton who died in the 80s, and a brother named Hunter who died in 2009 at age 100, I think.  When Hunter went into the nursing home, Lorene went with him to make sure he was taken good care of.  When he died, she went back home to live out her life.  Last year, she was still planting a garden.  One day as we sat in her kitchen watching her slather a ridiculous amount of Country Crock margarine on a "cathead" biscuit (these are the large frozen biscuits she liked, from Stokes), she told us how people always poked fun of her for eating so much butter.  "I'm 98," she said.  "I guess it must be good for me."

When Catherine is older, we’ll show her pictures and tell her stories about Lorene.  I think the biggest thing about Lorene is her sweetness.  I’ve heard she has a temper, too, though I was never close enough to her for her to show me that temper.  I wouldn’t expect anything less though.

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I've got to do something.

This morning, I was showering.  And while I was showering, I was thinking.  And while I was thinking, I stumbled across this thought.  I am not enough.   Every day, I am the best mother to Catherine I can be.  I've been breastfeeding her for over a year now, never leaving her side long enough for my body to realize it.  At bath time I get in the tub with her and make the rubber duckies swim underwater and surface to greet her, then bathe her with the gentlest soap available on Amazon.  I change her diapers and if there's a hint of pink, coat her butt in expensive cream.  I read to her every day.  I sit down on the floor with her and roll a ball back and forth and tell her this is a red block and this cow goes moo and this is the letter C, for Catherine.  I sign want more water? with my fingers and give it to her in a pink phthalate-free sippy cup.  I take her temperature rectally and literally suck the snot out of her nose myself and when she's upset in the middle of every night I pick her up and talk softly to her and snuggle her close.  I kiss her a million times a day because I can't help it and before I close the car door I blow her a kiss and this week, she suddenly started blowing her own kisses.  I observe her to glean insight, I try to listen to what she can't tell me yet.  I do these things and if you think I'm writing in praise of myself, you're wrong.  I am so genuinely and utterly unimpressed with these things.  They're nothing, they're simply the least I could do for the privilege of raising my baby.  These things are the easy things.  Later, I'll have to be a better person.  Because while she is noticing things now, she is really going to notice things later.  And here's where I get tripped up.

I expected more from myself.  Now it may be too late.  To sit alone in the wee hours of the morning, wrapped in a blanket with a mug of tea beside me click, click, clicking out something great - no, something actually great.  Something (someone?) worthy of recognition.  I couldn't do it right now if I tried.  Let alone the house by the sea, flooded in natural light.  The sea glass, throwing sea sticks for a dog to fetch.  On my knees in summer picking vegetables under the shade of a wide-brimmed hat.  Stirring stew for strangers in a winter kitchen while snow swirls behind the window glass.  A New England winter is so cold but so gorgeous, and the summer is like TV land, I somehow know even though at 31 I've never even been.  More than all this, I just wanted to have fixed all my imperfections before she arrived.

I've got to do something.  To prove to myself that I'm enough.  So that feeling enough, I will then be enough.  And seeing that mommy knows she's enough, my daughter will then know she, Catherine, is more than enough.

Letter to Catherine Upon Meeting David Sedaris

Dear Catherine, Life has a way of sifting out most all but the happier memories – or so said your grandfather one day when I was about ten years old.  I believe he is right.  So every day I make it a point to savor things – like how utterly relaxed I feel after a looonnng run and a shower, slipping into shorts and a tank top with clean skin and damp hair…or how carrying you across our parking lot when there’s been a downpour and the pavement is wet and warm and smells like summer is somehow simultaneously nostalgic and promising.  And sometimes, mostly when we least expect it, we experience something a little out of the ordinary and kind of fun and exciting, which makes it more likely to wind up in our arsenal of happy memories years down the road.

You and I met David Sedaris yesterday, for about 20 minutes, at the Barnes and Noble by our condo.

You may or may not know who David Sedaris is.  Well, let me tell you, he is a very, very funny writer.  The rare kind who makes you laugh out loud with every page.  He is also a regular NPR contributor and I’ve been listening to his distinctive deadpan rendition of story after story for years – usually while I wash dishes or fold laundry - just to spice things up.  He’s a kindred spirit, I can tell.  We would probably get along.  More likely, I’d want us to be good friends and he would be confused and scared and run away.

Long story short, Catherine – I didn’t get to meet Roald Dahl (God rest his brilliant, beloved soul), but David Sedaris isn’t too shabby a consolation prize.

If I didn’t have the parenting philosophy I do, you might never have met him, and I wouldn’t have met him the way I did.  What I mean is, another parent might have arranged for childcare, or not attempted it at all.  In a packed-out venue, there was not one other child, let alone baby.  Probably those parents didn’t bring their kids out of consideration for others or because they wanted to stay long enough to actually hear Mr. Sedaris speak.  I on the other hand don’t share the same concern for others, so I usually just bring you along, plan for the worst, and hope for the best.  I’ve only made an exception to that rule once so far – on our wedding day.  We hired a nanny.

Because your dad and I bring you along – to nice restaurants, shops, museums – we often return home after appetizers, without a new dress, or before we reached the third floor of the Guggenheim.  I was kidding in that earlier paragraph about not considering others; we certainly make sure to never inconvenience anyone around us.  If you begin to cry or cause a ruckus, which it must be confessed (borrowing a favorite phrase of Frances Hodgison Burnett) you do enjoy, we leave, making us the ones inconvenienced.  But here’s the thing Catherine – if we didn’t take these risks, we’d miss out on the magic moments!  Let me describe one.

When you were four months old, we were lucky enough to fly up to New York City and stay with your dad in a really nice hotel in Chelsea for a whole week.  He was there to work, but you and I were along for the ride and free to play in the city all week!  Every day, I carried you in the baby carrier with your little sunhat, and a huge shoulder bag crammed full of diapers and maps, all over the city by train and foot.  I changed your diaper and nursed you on benches on busy streets while endless herds of people hurried past.  This scenario wasn’t the “serene mother breastfeeding her babe on a peaceful bench on a river in Central Park surrounded by birds chirping whilst from a distance a street painter can’t help but capture our beauty in his painting which would go on to become a priceless work of art hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” I’d pictured.  In fact, the only time I breastfed you in Central Park, we sat at a dilapidated picnic bench and a rat emerged from the brush, spotted us, then scurried away.  And yet.

On the Highline, a park in the sky, suspended by steel along an old train rail with views of the water and imaginative architectural buildings, I bought an iced coffee and you slept nestled against me while I walked along, listening to a string quartet that happened to be playing there, admiring the plants and colorful graffiti art their artists had strategically placed in our line of vision so that they were like works of art displayed on the walls of a museum – except those walls were the buildings of New York.  When you woke, I nursed you on a private bench surrounded by flowers with a view of the city and yellow taxicabs below.  When you finished, you sat on my lap and flirted with two elderly ladies who’d joined us.  Late that afternoon, we went back to the hotel.  It felt so good to take off our city-worn clothes and shower and put on our pajamas and stretch out together in the cool sheets.  You were soooooo happy that night (as you were every night after our long treks).  You cooed and sucked on your toes.  I ordered room service from a five-star sushi restaurant.  You fell asleep.  I made a vodka with orange juice and watched the presidential debates while my baby slept peacefully in the bed beside me.  That, my Darling, is heaven on earth.

It wouldn’t have been the same without you.

So that’s why I took you to meet Mr. Sedaris.  Plus, Barnes and Noble is steps away from our house and there was no one home to watch you while I went.  I loaded the stroller with toys, slipped a piece of paper with the correct spelling of your name into the jacket of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, and mentally prepared myself to call off the mission if at any point you ceased to cooperate.  Either that, or stick a boob in your mouth.  Was I brave/desperate enough to do it while standing in line at a book signing?  I thought so.  Everyone would probably see us and murmur, “Look how committed that mother is to meet David and feed her child!  What a supermom.”  They might even offer us their place in line, or at the very least form a human privacy shield around us.

What happened when we arrived was over in the span of twenty minutes and doesn’t necessarily warrant the anticipation I’ve tried to create.  But it was nice.  You’d just awoken from your nap and David spotted us in line.  He walked straight over to us and said in that unmistakable soft, thoughtful voice, “Are you here by yourself with your baby? Let me go ahead and sign a book for you just in case.”  I felt the least star struck I’ve ever felt around a famous person.  I believe this has to do with us being, as I said, kindred spirits.  When I met Bill Clinton, I stared at him, paralyzed, and whispered hoarsely “thank you.”  Whereas to David, I gave a confident, resounding “thank you!”  You can see the difference.  I scanned his face.  It was lovely!  Genuine, open…the best kind of face!  Freshly awake, you stared at him with big, judgmental eyes, the hair on one side of your head sticking out as if a bird has just begun building her nest there.  David stared at you right back, taking in your face and considering what message he might leave for you in his book.

“You have amazing eyes,” he said to you.  “Is she for sale?” he asked me.

“No,” I said. “I’m attached.”

“Oh come on,” he said.  “You can have another.  You can always have another. Right?”

‘Hmm. That’s true, I could,” I said, cleverly.

He opened our copy of his book and wrote, “To Catherine.  You’re such a baby” and signed it David Sedaris.

He then walked a few feet away to his podium to begin his talk, and – symbolically, perhaps – you and I sat right at his feet.  I knew it wouldn’t last long, but while it did it was awesome.  You clutched your Little Red Riding Hood doll and looked around, delighted/pleased at everyone laughing and clapping as if you thought they were your audience.  I held you and listened to that familiar voice rattle off a few old jokes I’d already heard in a Terry Gross interview and then ease into his plain-spoken, conversational style of delivering new jokes so that you don’t even realize they’re going to be jokes.  I laughed and laughed and you liked the laughter, so you stood up and turned around and hugged me around the neck for a solid 2 minutes while I listened and laughed.  It was a golden moment, girl.  And all golden moments must end.  This one did when you tried to climb into my neighbor’s lap and when I wouldn’t let you, you protested loudly and I quickly escorted you out.  And that was that.  Our experience was over!

Outside Barnes and Noble I immediately called your dad and your grandmother both to tell them about our little adventure.  I was so excited and couldn’t believe our luck!

Now you own a book signed to you by David Sedaris, and one day you may care or you may not at all.  You may love to read, or you may not.  But I hope that like me, you will realize that happiness in life is made up of little moments like this, stitched together.  The more of them you can make happen and pause to appreciate, the happier your life will be.  Your moments will be different from mine, so I can’t do this for you and neither can anyone else – not your friends, not your future husband, not the third party that this sentence seems to necessitate in order to maintain its flow.  Only you can create happiness for yourself by knowing what you love and surrounding yourself with as much of it as possible.

I can tell you this.  As much as I can, I’ll try to teach you this skill, while I continue to learn it myself.  Somehow, I will try to make every load of laundry and every pile of dirty dishes contain some small magic.

Love always my Lovely,

Mama

david sedaris signed book
david sedaris signed book

Toys

IMG_3600Confession:  I love shopping for toys.  I normally refrain from giving toys as gifts to my nieces and nephews, because I know how toys can quickly pile up and take over the house.  But sometimes I can't resist.  And for my own child, well that is a different story.  I get to carefully select the cutest toys for her, give them to her, enjoy her excitement, and play with her.  The only hard part is narrowing down which to buy because we don't want to overdo it. IMG_3602One amazing thing about having a child is you sort of get to be a kid again!  Reliving vicariously all the things you left behind when you became an adult (trick or treating, seeing or doing things for the first time, etc).  So since I'm now newly obsessed with toys, I'm going to talk about a few toys I - oh, and Catherine ;-) - love!

IMG_3615 IMG_3617First, I have to mention Lamaze cloth books.  I was a big reader growing up and I'm hoping Catherine will be too.  Not only do books teach you to slow down and relax and focus and be patient (hard to come by in today's instant gratification world), they also expose you to new perspectives and philosophies and you absorb these much better than if you watched them passively on the tv.  Not to mention your language and communication skills improve with reading.  Sooo...long story short, my mom read to me and I read to Catherine.  But she isn't quite ready for regular books.  Her attention span is short and she grabs them and tries to eat them.  That's where these books help.  I'm not sure why, but she will actually focus and sit quietly, captivated, while I "read" her Mittens the Kitten Lamaze cloth book.  I say "read" because this particular book doesn't have words so I make up the story, which I think has a lot to do with why she's more interested. But even when I make up the story for her board books, she doesn't sit still for those stories the way she does for Mittens the Kitten.  Maybe the colors, the soft feel, and the crinkly cat on the cover has something to do with it.  Catherine loves Mittens so much I ordered How Do I Feel, Peek-a-Boo Forest, and Emily's Day.

IMG_3702 IMG_3707 IMG_3709 IMG_3714 IMG_3715Another toy we love around here are these blocks by Apple Park.  Catherine got them in her Christmas stocking from Santa this year.  Each one makes a soft jingle, chime, or squeak.  They stitching and detailing is very nice, making these an attractive toy to have around the house or on a shelf.  Most importantly, Catherine loves them.  Each side has a number, a color, or a baby animal on it.  They're great learning toys!  I show her the animals and she looks and listens as I say the names and make the animal noise.  She has now learned how to roaaarrr like a bear (though I'm sure she doesn't understand that's the noise a bear makes)!  They're soft and just the right size for her to grab and throw.  Plus, they have a cloth tag she loves to chew on.

IMG_3788 IMG_3803And since we're talking about Apple Park, here are a couple more Apple Park toys we love:  this bee critter puppet blankie with a wooden teether attached.  Catherine has a weird obsession with cloths and linens.  She'll take anything and put it over her face or suck on it, but it's nice to have this soft, pretty little blankie she can hold on to easily using the wooden teething ring.  I love that the blankie is so pretty.  Good for baby, good for mommy. :-)  IMG_3604And...this bunny puppet!  My only complaint about this puppet is that my hand barely fits in it, but other than that Catherine gets a big smile on her face when she sees Bunny and gives him a hug.  Bunny is good for car rides and diaper changes and he has long ears that make excellent chew toys too.

This next toy is highly recommended...

IMG_3720_2 IMG_3724 IMG_3728 IMG_3759 IMG_3767 IMG_3768IMG_3778The Haba Toot Toot Rattle is a MUST.  I'm not kidding.  Chris picked it out before Catherine was born.  I was skeptical because it looked slightly boyish and she already had some teething things.  But this little teether holds her attention longer than...I do believe...any other toy she has.  It is especially useful when we go to dinner as it's small and keeps her occupied.  There's absolutely nothing toxic in the wood or paint, so she can chew away without me worrying!  And as a bonus, this toy is really nice to look at.  You almost want to display it.  I plan to buy more of these toys for her, as there's a huge selection for all stages.

IMG_3627Yet another hit from Chris - and he'd been eyeing this one since before we were even pregnant - this Fun On The Farm Stacker from Pottery Barn Kids is a BIG hit with Catherine.  Not only is it a really pretty toy, there are so many things you can teach with it - animals, animal sounds, colors, sizes, etc.

IMG_3629Catherine loves to aggressively attack her stacker and take it apart then chew on the top.  I hold the little animals and tickle her with them, making the animal noises, and she laughs! Don't let this photo fool you. Someone was ready for a nap. :-)

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IMG_3686Okay, so this next one is something I'm hoping will sort of grow with Catherine.  It's the Pure Nature Organic Doll named Bea.  It was Catherine's Christmas gift from Mommy.  I'm trying to teach her to "love the baby" and "kiss the baby" and all that sort of sweet, gentle stuff.  She hugs Bea for a second, then grabs her by her spaghetti hair and shakes her aggressively.

Catherine really loves her toys, and it's so much fun to watch her greedily try to play with them all at once, and eat them and love on them and shove them out of her way when she's done.  Her eyes light up when she sees them and she gets a big smile on her face.

IMG_3584So, I need to stop. But toys are so much fun to photograph since they always put Catherine in a good mood. I'm sure there'll be many more toy posts to come!