Splish splash

One of the things Laurel figured out how to do several months ago is to push one of our kitchen chairs over to the sink. She would beg us to turn on the faucet so she could play in the water with the various spoons/cups/bowls/whatever would hold water. Eventually, Devin taught her how to turn on the faucet herself — keeping it to just a trickle.

She would spend all day, every day, playing in running water if she could. At my dad’s this weekend she easily spent more than an hour playing in (and drinking out of, as you can see above) his backyard fountain. He also taught her how to use the sprayer on his garden hose — which she used to water plants, the forest floor, and her shirt and pants.

Here’s a few seconds of her drinking from the faucet at home. In it, I ask, “What did you do?” I thought she would say something like, “Drank the water.” Instead, she said, “Take a video now.”

— Beth

Nudie beauty

We’re in kind of a nudist phase, lately. Where by “we” I mean Laurel, except insomuch as there’s an extra amount of work involved for whoever’s looking after her while she’s running around the house with nothing on.

Most mornings begin with a diaper change. As soon as I reach for the new clean, diaper, she’ll say “Be naked!” There are all sorts of things she wants to do naked: eat meals, nurse, go outside. (This morning she engaged in one of her favorite hobbies, standing on our back stoop with a top and no bottoms, hollering and playing with leaves.) Often, there are tears when it’s time to put the diaper back on.

Kind of by accident, the nudity phase has led to some experiences using her potty. It’s by no means consistent, but if she spends enough time without clothes on, eventually she gets to a point where she needs to pee or poop. You can tell it’s happening because she gets a little agitated and maybe holds her crotch. This has ultimately led to several instances of eliminating on the potty. She’ll have several days of using it daily, then go several days refusing to go near it. (Or, like today, will sit on it, but not pee until she’s put back into a diaper.)

What this means, among other things, is that she’s learning to control her bodily functions, which is great. She’s gone several hours without peeing, holding it in well, when she wants to. For a long time, using the potty scared her — probably because it was so unfamiliar. She’s still uneasy with it sometimes. And, often, she likes using it best when she’s by herself. I’ve left the room more than once only to come back and find her peeing in it. Another time, she asked Devin and I to leave.

Anyway, it’s a long, slow process, and that’s just fine.

Laurel has also started swim classes. For months she’s splashed and “swum” in the bathtub. Her love of water led us to believe she’d enjoy being in a swimming pool, so we signed her up for classes on Saturday mornings with Devin. Their first one was last week — and it was not met with the ebullient delight we imagined.

I wasn’t there, but she was pretty freaked out by the whole experience, owing in part to swallowing/choking on water a few times. Devin took her to a local YMCA pool again today; apparently she was very slightly less miserable this time. (And wanted to get back in the pool after getting out.) When I talked to her about it later, she said it scared her. I asked if she liked swimming and she said no, but she liked having a shower afterward.

— Beth

The maladies, they just keep coming

So, you would think we would have gotten all the misery out of the way in January, when we all came down with a horrible cold and Devin and I were flattened for about a week. You would think that, but you would be wrong.

The past two weeks have been astonishingly germ-ridden. Laurel came down with a persistent cough, but didn’t seem bothered by it. Then, one night last week, Devin said he was having “cold symptoms.” The next day, he was so sick — fever, aches, coughing — that he could hardly get out of bed. And that night, Laurel woke up at about 5 a.m. with the classic barky cough that signals croup.(As soon as her coughing and breathing calmed down and she went to sleep, I got up and searched the Internet to make sure I knew what to do. Fortunately, she only had mild trouble breathing, and nursing seemed to help her calm down. But I spent several nights awake, listening to her breath catch, worrying.)

After four or five days, Laurel was able to sleep through the night without coughing. Great, I thought, we’re in the clear. The next morning, we went out and had fun riding the cable cars, though she did mention at one point that her eyes hurt. At midday, Devin texted me to say he thought he had pinkeye. He’d also developed a persistent sore throat. Laurel wasn’t showing any signs of pinkeye, but by evening was getting chills. Her fever spiked above 103, and she started throwing up.

The next day, she slept and/or nursed pretty much the entire day. With each day she seemed to improve a little, except that the fever and lethargy were replaced with some kind of meltdown-inducing malaise. It was like the stories you hear of some of the worst toddler tantrums. Everything set her off. “No” was the word she used most, usually screaming and gasping through angry sobs. To say it was fun to be her caretaker this week would be almost a total lie.

Fortunately, everyone (sort of) seems to be on the mend. I just hope we’ve banked enough severe-illness karma to last us for a long while.

— Beth

Reading Into It

A while back, I remember trying to read books to Laurel and despairing because all she wanted to do was chew on the pages. (OK, so she was only 4 and a half months old when that picture was taken, but the tendency persisted for months.) We had to go through a lot of play-acting to keep her interest for more than a few pages. Meanwhile, some of her slightly-older friends were poring over books as though they held the clues to the location of the Lost Ark of The Covenant or something. It was a little discouraging.

However, she did eventually begin to love books — and demand that we read them, again and again and again. We can recite Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop and Jamberry and Barnyard Dance without looking at the pages, we’ve read them so many times. A few months ago, Laurel began not only naming her books (“Animals book,” “Water hole book,” “Germs book,” etc.) but quoting passages from them. Then she started being interested in longer books with more text than pictures, and quoting passages from those. It’s been really exciting and very rapid.

I mentioned in my last post that Laurel has been recently asking us to identify all sorts of things, including things she knows the names for already. But she’s now also pointing to words on various objects — books, signs, plates, where-ever she notices words — and asking, “that says?” She’s worked out that those combinations of letters represent particular words and she wants to know which ones. This is coming much earlier than I expected, and it’s kind of thrilling, especially to parents who love to read and write. Both of us were early readers, so it makes sense that she might be, too. Right now, we’re just trying to satisfy her curiosity as much as we can.

Oh, and remember how I said she was saying “walrus” a lot lately? I figured out what she’s saying. “With us.”

— Beth

Almost Two

Laurel’s babysitter recently said something like, “I think she’s going to turn out to be one of those good-natured but feisty ones.” I definitely saw a glimpse of that tonight at dinner. Devin was telling Laurel she had to hold her cup upright if she wanted to keep drinking milk from it. She kept tilting it and spilling milk out. This time, she made a display of showing she could hold it upright. And then, as though to see what would happen, she quickly tilted it over — and then back up again — her eyes locked on Devin’s the whole time. You could almost hear her saying, “Oh yeah? Watch me.

Laurel is almost two, and it’s becoming more obvious with every passing day. So far, though, her tantrums play out like she read about them in a book somewhere, and one that didn’t include good diagrams. For a while, she would throw herself onto the floor, then calmly look up as if to say, “Now what?” More recently, she’s thrown in a little bit of bonking her head on the floor. Yesterday, she managed to flop down and kick her feet a few times. That’s not to say she doesn’t have tantrums. More often, she has them upright, jumping and stomping and swinging her arms angrily back and forth, all while screaming and crying. Unfortunately, it’s kind of adorable. Hard on her, of course, but adorable.

She is really hungry for knowledge and music these days. Last May, when her vocabulary was first ramping up, she would point at all sorts of things and ask, “This?” As in, “What’s this called?” We’re in another phase of that now, though this time she’s asking, “That is?” or, once in a while, “What that?” Sometimes it’s because she doesn’t know the name of the thing she’s pointing at; other times she’s making sure that we still call it by the same name. She still speaks in a lot of one- or two-word phrases, but three or more words in a row is becoming more and more common. Her pronunciation is getting better on many words (“slippers” actually sounds like “slippers” now, instead of “ploo-ploo”), though longer and newer words are often somewhat indecipherable, particularly to people who don’t spend their days talking to her. “Chocolate” is more like “cha-lok-it” and “trampoline” is something akin to “slam-pling.” She recently started saying something that sounds like “walrus,” and even we have no idea what she means.

Our days are met with frequent requests for music. Her favorites right now include “The Pirate Song,” “Slippery Fish,” the alphabet song (which she has also started trying to sing), “Happy Birthday,” and a smattering of other songs and rhymes we’ve learned in various classes. “Old MacDonald” is another favorite, though she calls it the “Yayoyayo” (EIEIO) song. In fact, she likes this one so much I have to invent all kinds of animals that could conceivably be found on a farm (geese are her favorite) because she keeps asking for more verses. It’s a bit like last fall, when she got so stuck on “The Wheels on the Bus” that not only was I inventing verses, but she was.

Speaking of hungry, after being a pretty sparing eater since her introduction to solids, Laurel has finally begun eating most of her meals (and many, many snacks) in earnest. She has resisted some dinners lately, though, resulting in a very hungry and impossible-to-settle toddler in the middle of the night. (Nobody got much sleep this week because of that.) Fortunately, her palate is still pretty broad. She’s pickier now, but there are lots of things she will eat willingly, so we’re not worried about her nutrition.

At the same time, she’s more active than ever. She doesn’t walk much, especially when we’re out at the playground or another place she has free reign. She runs, at the fastest speed she can muster, in her clunky and oddly balanced toddler run, from one activity to another. Last weekend she ran all the way home from a park several blocks away (and down a rather steep hill). She has recently become more cautious on slides — slides she would bravely sail down a month ago, she won’t touch now unless she’s holding our hands or sitting on one of our laps and sliding with us.

She wants to do more and more things herself, and spends a lot of time testing (and being miserable about) the rules and boundaries we set for her. We’re steeling ourselves for the months (years?) of this yet to come, and trying to manage with our senses of humor. Fortunately, she’s also a tremendously fun and happy kid with her own sense of humor, and so far the good moods outnumber the bad ones.

We’ve also begun exploring local preschools, an intimidating process because there are so many (roughly 150 or so in San Francisco; at least 10 in our immediate neighborhood, ranging from low-key household arrangements to formal and even regimented Montessori programs), and because getting into them is very competitive. Laurel’s not even eligible for many of them until the fall of 2012, but since we have so much work to do and so many schools to see, we’re starting early. I know that makes us Those Parents who tour umpteen schools way before they’re supposed to. Hey, at least we didn’t start before she was born.

— Beth

The naming of things

As I write this, I’m puzzling over what to do about Laurel’s very first fear. For a long time I’ve wondered what it would be, and now I know: the garage. What I don’t know is: what about the garage scares her? She won’t walk around in it anymore, like she used to. When one of us takes her down there, she clings and whimpers and refuses to be set down. If we do set her down, she screams. Today I tried asking: “Are you scared because it’s dark?” “Is it the car?” “Is it the neighbors’ dog?” (who once barked at her in there and startled her.) I got no conclusive responses. Nevertheless, I want us to learn how to alleviate her fear, to help her overcome it. Right now I’m stumped, but I’m working on it.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of good stuff going on. Laurel’s range of expression has really snowballed. She’s using many more two-word phrases and some three-word phrases, which makes communicating with her much easier. Of course, one of her favorite phrases right now is “have it?” As in, “can I have it?” (whatever object she’s just pointed out.) She also uses the word “help” a lot to request help doing something — we’re not quite to the point where she insists on doing everything herself and her own way, although I thought for sure I heard her say “[I] do it” today. She has caught on to my limiting certain objects — such as tissues or food items, so often she will hold up her index finger and ask for “one tissue,” “one wipe,” “one fig,” etc. It’s cute, until you realize she doesn’t understand the concept of “one” yet and will ask for one again — once she’s already gotten her hands on one. We’re working on counting, too. :)

Laurel went through a recent spate of learning all the names of everyone in her life. She can say mine and Devin’s names, though when she does it, she usually calls us “Papa Devin” and “Mommy Beth.” She also likes to talk about Grandma, Poppi, Grandpa, Gram, Nana, and so on. She recognizes all of her friends and knows their names, and many of their moms’ names as well. It started with Arlo and Kate and blossomed from there. She also learned her babysitter’s name early on. I think she’s happy and relieved to know the names of the folks she sees all the time, and she loves reciting them. She also names all the local shops as we walk from our house to the train station and back — our neighbors’ house, the grocery store, the library, the frozen-yogurt shop, the taqueria, the coffee shop, etc.

We had our second Halloween. Laurel wore a skunk costume and I dressed as an animal-control officer. On the day of Halloween we took Laurel trick-or-treating with a couple of other friends in a nearby neighborhood. At each house, she would get a piece of candy in her basket. Then she’d squish it in her hands until it was unrecognizable. Devin would take it and we’d give her a single M&M for the “treat.” She was very sad when we stopped after about 10 houses, and requested “walk treat” several times in the weeks after Halloween.

She seems to be a natural climber. At the playground, she loves any climbing structure — yesterday, she really mastered a ladder made out of chains that leads up to a small slide at the park. Then she would hoist her leg over the side and slide down. (She surprised me in another way: when another girl was climbing up, Laurel pointed to her and said “turn.” I said, “Yep, it’s her turn, but she’ll be done in a moment and then it can be your turn.” Laurel waited, then when the girl had gone down the slide, started climbing up.) In the kitchen, she loves pushing chairs around and then climbing up into them to get at things on the counters, or attached to the refrigerator. This has made the kitchen almost unbabyproofable, but it’s amazing to watch.

Laurel is very into giving hugs and kisses lately — to us, to her friends, to random toys. It’s cute and sweet, and I’m trying to enjoy it because I know it won’t last forever. She’s also somehow gotten into the idea of having her feet rubbed while she nurses. She will press her foot into my hand and, if I use my fingers, will correct me and ask me to use my thumb. Occasionally she will pause and say, “tickle,” asking me to tickle the bottom of her foot. She giggles, squirms away, then presses her foot into my hand again and resumes nursing. She’s not spoiled, right?

Devin and I have started the task of learning about preschools in San Francisco, as well as when and how to apply. Laurel isn’t eligible until the fall of 2012, but given that there are 150 preschools in the city and we need to apply a year ahead of time, there’s some work ahead of us. We recently took a class on the topic, which ostensibly helps us sort out the Montessoris and the Waldorfs and the play-based and the child-centered and so on and so forth. It’s overwhelming and intimidating — and one of those topics that drives everyone’s blood pressure up. It’s tough to predict what kind of school will be right for your child one or two years up the road, when toddlers change so much in the span of a few months. But we’ll do the best we can.

— Beth

Running ahead

It’s become more and more difficult to keep up with this blog, in large part because Laurel is developing and growing and changing so quickly that, as soon as we write down what she’s doing, she’s doing something else entirely. That was true when I wrote this essay less than two months ago, when she was still speaking just a few dozen words. Now, it’s well over 100 and we’ve stopped counting because there are sometimes three new words a day, sometimes more. When we came back from Europe in June she was just taking a few steps, and now she’s running everywhere.

We go to a college class every week where she and other toddlers are able to practice their motor skills on different pieces of play equipment; there’s one with a metal ladder on each side with a walkway like a sideways ladder strung between them. She can climb up the rungs and then walk across, holding on to the railings, like it’s no big deal. Then she asks me to help her back down, where she takes off running across the floor and trips on a floor mat because she doesn’t look where she’s going. For such occasions, she knows both “whoa!” and “boom!”

Eighteen and a half months ago she was born, and couldn’t do anything but blink, sleep, poop, and cry. Now she can request her favorite video (and identify the song if I sing a random line from it), eat with a spoon, take off her shirt, put on her shoes (with help), identify a handful of letters of the alphabet, and name the majority of important items that pass through her life on a given day, from beans to airplanes. She knows where her belly button is and loves pointing it out to people. She can also throw a pretty epic tantrum, but we’re learning how to nip those in the bud. In all, it’s pretty mind-blowing; most days I’m still wondering where, exactly, she came from.

Other than the aforementioned video, she’s also currently obsessed with the moon. It was full last week, giving us the opportunity to take her outside and show her the rising moon in the sky before bedtime. Since then, she’s asked to see it every night, and we had to explain that it’s not always in the same place in the sky at the same time. Our story was bolstered this morning when she spotted it in the sky on the other side of the house. She was very relieved to see it again, let me tell you.

Going out is a big, exciting deal, and must be mentioned only before the act of doing so because Laurel suddenly becomes a drill sergeant, calling out all the things we need to do and take with us. Socks! Shoes! Coat! Sunglasses! Backpack! Ergo! She will repeat these items with increasing volume and desperation until we’ve put them on and/or assembled them and are on our way out the door. Sometimes, when she asks where Devin is and I say he’s at work, she wants to make sure he took his backpack, coat, and shoes with him. I assure her that yes, he did. Sometimes she has to doublecheck.

Another activity we can’t mention unless it’s imminent is the bath. She loves taking baths. I think she would spend all day in the tub if we let her. She never sits down in the tub. For half an hour at a time, she sloshes from end to end, scooping up cupfuls of water and pouring them on herself, on me, into other cups, and drinking copiously. (We have alternate nighttime diapering strategies for bath nights.) If we have somehow mentioned the bath but failed to give her one, then she will cry and moan and say, “baaath!” very sadly.

She still loves nursing, and freaking out the cat. Her happiest moments include the ones when Devin comes home at the end of the day, or when I come home from being out for a while. She comes running, shouting “Papa!” or “Mommy!” and showers us with enthusiastic hugs at knee height. She loves food, and talking, and singing (especially “Wheels on the Bus” — I have had to make up new verses to keep up with her demands for “more.”), and doggies, and reading books.

She’s still a lot of fun. :)

— Beth

This and that

We didn’t mean to go quite this long without updating Laurel’s blog, but it’s been a time of tremendous activity, growth, and change — and we did some traveling — so it’s been difficult to know when is the right time to hit the pause button and say, “This is what she’s doing now.”

However, Laurel is 15 months old now, and had her pediatrician’s visit today, so now seems as good a time as any!

Probably the biggest news is that she’s walking. Over the past month, or maybe a little more, she has gone from taking a few tentative steps each day to walking across the house — and spending very little time crawling anymore. Weeks ago, she would try a little walking, fall down, and cling to one of us in frustration and reluctance. Now, she falls down now and then, but gets up again and keeps going. She really seems to like walking, both because it’s a nice way to get around and because she can carry things while she’s on the go, which doesn’t work so well when you’re on hands and knees.

She’s also learned a few new signs. Lately, “potty,” “tree,” and “dog” are among her favorites. Our downstairs neighbors just got a dog, and every time it barks, Laurel signs “dog” (snapping her fingers), but also makes little “ruff, ruff” sounds happily. When loud cars, trucks, or motorcycles go by she says, “vrrooooooom!” She uses a handful of words regularly, and is experimenting with lots of syllables, as though any minute now she’s going to glue them all together and speak in complete sentences. By now she seems to understand what we’re saying most of the time, and has started nodding “yes” or “no,” although it’s not always clear that she knows what those mean yet.

Also over the past month, she has started saying “this” and “that.” More specifically, she points to an object and says “this?” (if it’s nearby) or “that?” (if it’s further away), asking us to tell her what it is. While we were traveling in Europe, she would wake up in the morning and sit between us in the bed, asking us to name the headboard, pillows, blankets, and other items in the room. Now, when we’re out and about, she wants to know the names of everything we see.

She really enjoyed traveling. She gets a little bit airsick, and was frustrated by the amount of time she spent in the Ergo, but she behaved well on the long flights, and loved seeing all the sights while we were visiting. One of her favorite things was seeing cows close-up on Dartmoor, in England, where she spent a lot of time shouting “moooo!” to them.

Although she’s generally a happy kid, Laurel has gotten pretty stubborn and willful. She cries and screams when we pull her away from something she isn’t supposed to be doing or playing with. She doesn’t throw full-fledged tantrums (yet), but she does occasionally lay on the floor when she’s in a good mood and kicks the floor with her feet, as if to practice for when the time comes. She has also developed some separation anxiety and doesn’t want us to put her down, leave the room she’s in, etc. — she will cling to our legs, cry, and ask to be picked up and taken with us.

She’s also been more difficult to feed. She’s often happy to feed herself pieces of food we put in her high chair tray, but she no longer wants to be spoon-fed anything. She likes to grab the spoon and feed herself, which is very messy indeed. If you try to take the spoon from her, say to load it with more food or prevent her from dumping its contents on herself, she’ll scream and turn bright red. She signals that she’s done with a meal by sweeping or dropping all remaining food onto the floor. Sigh.

On the other hand, she lets us know she wants to stay in our arms by giving us hugs, and lately she’s been giving us lots of kisses, which is just about the most heart-melting thing ever. She also kisses the cat, her friends, her friends’ dogs, the pictures in her books, and so on. She also lately loves to be turned upside down or swung around, likes to climb into chairs (especially the rocking chair), stand up and bounce in them, and blow spit bubbles. Sometimes all at once.

She’s a fun kid. :)

— Beth

Signs of the times

Laurel’s language acquisition has really taken off in the past couple of months — not in terms of words, but in terms of various signs she knows and uses. Granted, she does few of them “correctly,” and in some cases it’s clear she doesn’t really know what they mean, but that’s how we started with signs like “milk” and “cat,” and she clearly understands them now.

She’s learned some from us, some from her babysitter, and some from a couple of books that teach various signs (many of them not exactly ASL — but baby-friendly alternates). It’s hard to keep track of how many she knows, now, but here’s a pretty good list: milk, more, cat, book, love, naked (she made that one up herself), light, sleepy, bath, eat, cereal, banana, bird, butterfly, hot, bib, gentle, hurt, and water. I’m definitely forgetting a few. She’s experimenting with “dad” and has been known to sign “moon” and “ice cream,” but not consistently. I’m trying to teach her “please” and “thank you,” but they haven’t caught on yet.

I just learned today that she knows “hurt.” I’ve been trying to teach it to her, because she’s been teething and she has bumps and scrapes and I wanted her to have a way to tell me where she’s hurting. When you use the sign, you use it over the body part that hurts. I just started teaching it a few weeks ago, and today, after she’d hurt me and I said, “Please don’t do that, it hurts mama,” she signed “hurt.” So I encouraged her and used the sign over the part of me that she hurt. Unfortunately, she seemed to be experimenting with this later on in the day by biting me various places and then watching me sign “hurt” and signing it back to me. Being the basis for all of her psychological experiments is not my favorite part of parenting, but I suppose it’s one I’d better get used to.

Alas, Laurel really hasn’t been working on verbal language, at least not that we’ve noticed. She still has a few words, including “shoes” and “cheese” (without the vowels), as well as “moo.” She’s experimenting more with “mama” and “dada,” and has started saying “hahahaha,” as the sound she thinks sheeps and goats make. Yeah, I don’t “ba-a-a-a-a-a” very well.

On the other hand, she’s making a lot of progress toward walking. She’s standing more on her own (though usually it’s when she’s holding a toy or two in her hands and forgetting to hang on to a piece of furniture), and spending more time cruising around — walking while holding on to walls, tables, etc. She’s beginning to prefer cruising to crawling, except for long distances, and in one case took a single step toward Devin before letting herself crash into his lap. I don’t think it will be long now before she’s on her feet all the time.

— Beth

The revolution begins at home

We’re both pretty proud of the fact that Laurel has never had a taste of that baby food that comes in jars. She barely wanted pureed food, even, in the beginning. Applesauce was OK, but pureed broccoli? Yuck! (We still have baggies of pureed broccoli and beets in the freezer.) Florets of broccoli, on the other hand — ones she could pick up herself — she liked right away. Almost since the beginning, we’ve let Laurel feed herself small chunks of food, with a little spoon-feeding here and there; lentils are tough to eat one at a time with baby fingers.

There’s a whole school of thought based on letting babies self-feed that has the scary name “baby-led weaning.” It doesn’t mean actually weaning your baby off the breast — it just refers to the very, very slow transition away from nursing and onto a diet of solid food, one that begins between 6 and 9 months of life and ends whenever the child stops nursing, somewhere between 2 and 4 years of age. Anyhow, it allows babies to explore their food with their hands and mouths, often making a terrific mess in the process, but ultimately giving them control of their diet.

There are many upsides to this, including that it encourages you toward a healthier diet, if you weren’t already on one already. Most BLW foods need to be cut up, if not cooked from scratch. We feed Laurel a lot of raw fruits — she especially likes bananas, ripe pears, and chunks of apple — as well as cooked vegetables, including sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and artichokes. She also eats fish (salmon is a favorite), chicken, pork (especially slow-cooked), beef, and beans. The only things we spoon-feed her are things like soups and yogurt, and she’s starting to help put the spoon in her mouth.

There are also many downsides, including the almost-unavoidable food-throwing phase. We are in that phase now. Laurel will take a few bites of food, and then throw the rest of it on the floor. It’s only somewhat because she’s not hungry, the baby books tell us; she just needs to experiment with gravity, apparently. I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees, sweeping up painstakingly cooked vegetables.

(Last night she was “experimenting” by throwing her sippy cup — which has a straw in it — onto the floor repeatedly. I handed it back to her, and she took a sip and signed “water.” I said, “I know, you HAVE water.” She signed again. I looked, and realized she’d knocked the straw loose and it was no longer working. “MOM, fix it,” Devin translated as she signed “water” again.)

I have been thinking a lot about Jamie Oliver’s food revolution lately, about how many kids don’t know how to identify a potato, a tomato, or other vegetables on sight, don’t know what they taste like or how to cook them. I also think of Shauna Ahern, the “Gluten-Free Girl,” and her daughter, who is growing up watching her parents cook — and helping them. Both Devin and I grew up in food-rich households and knew about all kinds of foods and how to prepare them from a pretty early age, and I fantasize about baking with Laurel when she’s a little older.

There are times when I wish I could teach all my non-cooking friends how to cook, but so far nobody’s taken me up on the offer. What I can do is teach Laurel how to cook, and encourage her to love fresh, healthy food. She already does. That feels like a good start.

— Beth

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