Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rock city

We're the first to admit it: Cleveland may not top anyone's vacation list. Sure, the onetime Mistake on the Lake has some fabby public places, a nifty waterfront and a gee-whiz Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But as vacation destinations go, it's probably somewhere between York, Penn., and, well, Detroit.

But Cleveland does have one big advantage: It's 3 1/2 hours from Detroit, which makes it an ideal weekend retreat for a little girl who can endure just about 3 1/2 hours in a car seat before going absolutely bonkers.

We spent Saturday and Sunday in the Forest City, as a weekend getaway mystery trip birthday excursion from Big Mo to Yours Truly. We stayed in a nice hotel, walked around, saw the sites, went out to dinner, took in the very cool Rock Hall, ate junk food and, all and all, had a lovely time. 

In fact, we would dare say it was liberating. With winter and Hope's slow growth, we're still tepidly emerging from our nourishing yolk. But as she does every time, Hopesy made us proud: The kid is a terrific travel companion. She barely fussed, endured her old man's stories at the Rock Hall about The Clash and, when it all got too damn boring, took a nap.

We returned Sunday night full of vim and newfound courage to spread our wings further and more frequently. We can do this! We were lame to be so careful! The only limitation is our own mind!

Monday, the vomiting began. Then came lethargy, dehydration and an overall peaked appearance. Three calls to the doctor and some waffling over the emergency room later, we're still in the throes. Cross-our-fingers, sign-of-the-cross, knock-on-wood, we think Hopesy is slowly emerging. She's at least begun to keep some food down tonight.

We're kicking ourselves for what we did or didn't do, but maintaining our mantra: She could have gotten sick anywhere. Don't blame Cleveland. It's got enough problems.

Seriously, we're worried like anyone and hopeful the experience doesn't curtail our travels. Hope digs the out-and-about. It's good for her, and it's good for us.

Monday, March 23, 2009


More walking from the mover and shaker. New computer. Still getting the hang of it. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Round of applause

Hope has a new hobby. After months of encouragement -- some quite silly -- that involved exaggerated jumping up and down, shimmying and shaking in front of her, and so many "pat-a-cake" games that the baker man has filed a union grievance, Hope is finally clapping.

We come up to her, wiggle about and clap like we've seen a monkey solve a Rubik's Cube. She puts her hands together, ever so hesitantly, in delight. And we squeal like the aforementioned monkeys.

It's been a gradual evolution. For a while, Hope would simply clasp her hands like a contemplative Nelson Mandela. She liked it so much she would sleep with her hands together, evoking those corny but be-still-my-heart illustrations of praying kids that are in dens of grandmothers everywhere.

Then, for what seemed like months, Hope would slowly bring her hands together, discover something off in the distance and forget what she was doing. Then, at long last, she finally put it all together and is clapping like she was in the Catskills.

Mo is pleased as punch. So am I. So put your hands together for the girl who's finally putting her hands together.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Goody Hope

Hope got new hearing aid molds recently. They're a bit too big, making her ears jut out. Hope is so self-conscious of the goofy look that she's become adept and whipping them off seconds after we put them in.

Mo's solution: A bonnet that makes Hope look like she's gearing up to share the first Thanksgiving with those kindly Wampanoags or burn witches at the stake along with those other no-goodniks in "The Crucible."

It works. Sort of. Hope is so stunned by the fashion effrontery that she becomes paralyzed with shame. She doesn't grab her hearing aids. But she doesn't do much else either. She just sits there, dumbstruck, thinking, "Why am I wearing this silly hat?"

Too bad for her. She looks too cute to take it off.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saturday night strutting

We have to admit: Our first reaction was Huuunnnh? The thing looked like a pizza box on wheels, the sort of unsteady tippy-toppy, woopsie-daisy death trap yanked from store shelves eons ago.

The thingamajig -- I guess it's a walker -- was a gift from Hope's grandparents, Clem and Beef. They taught four kids to walk using the contraption, which is little more than a white piece of plastic, wheels and a little basket for a carriage.

It seemed hopelessly outdated, the toy equivalent of treating a cold with cod liver oil or leeches. But, hey, they're Hope's grandparents. They're good enough folks. We'd humor them, take it out of the box, throw it in the basement, move it to the living room when they visit and tell little white lies.

Of course, Hope's in love with the thing. Initially, she would hang out and play with her toys. Slowly, she learned Hey. If I stand up in this thing and lean a little, it moves. From there, she would lurch about the house, thrusting herself like Michael Phelps -- minus the boutique bong -- leaning toward the finish line.

Like parents seeking to strike a Pavlovian cue, we would encourage her with objects she desired -- a remote control, a straw, her own shoe. She'd huff. She'd puff. She'd lunge and lean until she got her prize and promptly plopped it in her mouth.

Now, she's using it to walk. Honest to goodness, across-the-living-room, Look at Me It's Saturday Night strutting. In no time flat, she'll be a menace to the cat, we're sure.

It's a sight to behold and another reminder that the ol' grandparents may yet have a few tricks. We're still not sure about the cod liver oil, the miracle cureall that is A&D ointment or claims that a little water with bay leaves can cure the common cold, but credit where credit is due ...