Trying to accurately predict my 8-month-old daughter’s reaction to outside stimulus is nothing short of impossible. For three days this week, Maddie hated the very thought of getting near any water that was sitting in the tub. Today you could barely stop her from striking out on her own into the Atlantic Ocean.
That’s right, the baby who was afraid to take a bath can’t wait to climb into the ocean. It all started with a sudden keen interest with the sand between her toes.
I was feeding Maddie a bottle on the beach when her foot slipped off of me and into the sand. Suddenly the bottle was totally forgotten as Maddie struggled to immerse her feet deep into the sand. She kicked at it and did her best to get sand between her toes. She squeaked with sheer delight and was more than ready for crack at the waves.
We brought Maddie out to the water and let one of those mini-waves wash over her feet. Her eyes went wide with fear and apprehension as the chilly water rushed past her feet. But that lasted less than two seconds, as she started playing and splashing. Apparently the beach and the water really agree with her.
You could already tell that Maddie thought that dry sand was a fantastic invention. But she quickly decided that dry sand couldn’t hold a candle to wet sand mixed with salt water. She was completely in her element and had no desire to head in even after a half an hour. But with her fair skin, we can only expose her to the sunlight for so long.
Finally it was time for us to head in, clear out the sand and seek out the day’s next adventure. In just the past week, Maddie has mastered flying, swimming and body surfing. Tomorrow she wants to try some cliff diving mixed in with a little bit of parasailing.
A doctor’s appointment for Maddie deep in the heart of Lower Manhattan turned into a race through the city this morning. All it took was a delayed train for our plans to go up in smoke.
Instead of a pleasant ferry ride, Maddie ended up slugging it out on the Path system underneath the ever-soaring Freedom Tower. But before she could do that, we all had to overcome the obstacle of getting Maddie onto the path and through the turnstiles.
There’s no area wide enough for the stroller, so I handed the baby off to my wife and rested the stroller on the turnstile. This created a mini logjam of people as Maddie looked on with great interest.
She still had no idea what she was in for. Once got into New York City, the crowds were as thick as bugs on the bumper. This area is not for the faint of if you are pushing a stroller occupied by a fearsome honey badger.
People were inches apart, all battling for pole position and Maddie was starting to feel a little bit claustrophobic. She snapped her mighty jaws at anybody that ventured too close to her stroller and emitted a series of short grunts.
Maddie noticed far too many near collisions because of all the people who had their snouts buried too far into their cellular devices to bother paying attention to what lay in front of them. One clown had to spin to avoid the stroller and then nearly snapped his ankle on the curb. Poor Maddie was getting more and more anxious as we cut across the island towards toward the doctor’s office.
However, once we got to the doctor’s office located in a quiet and secluded area of Front Street, Maddie exorcised that mean old honey badger and resumed being her ever-charming self.
After the appointment, Maddie took some quiet time to feel the ebb and flow of the city. We all enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch and walk on the East River. Then we took a nice slow ride home on the ferry which seem to delight Maddie. She noticed every detail as we all took in the sights and sounds of the ferry ride home. Once again, Maddie is showing a resiliency and maturity that is very surprising for 7-month-old girl.
My 7-month-old daughter has always been the model of decorum in public settings. But sweet Madeleine may well be on her way to reversing that trend.
It started in church this morning. Maddie was being as sweet as can be and once again charming all those around her, including her father. Maddie was sitting on my lap when she turned around, put her hand on my face and gave me the most amazing smile. It will always be one of those perfect moments frozen in time.
So as you can see, Maddie was in a calm and happy place, shrouded in butterscotch and ponies. But suddenly she found herself troubled by a disturbance in the force. We were just minutes from Communion when you could see her patience dry up all at once.
First she got frustrated and then she got very loud. So loud in fact that when Mom headed up for Communion, Maddie and I scooted out the back door. What’s funny is that nobody seemed to notice Maddie’s little outburst except her parents. We’re funny that way.
Fast forward to a couple hours later at a local restaurant. Maddie had just finished eating and seemed to be high spirits. However, looks can be deceiving. Once again and without warning, Maddie was off to the races.
The baby was more than happy to share her discontent with her fellow restaurant patrons. “Check Please!” As you might have guessed, the lunchtime festivities were over. We got Maddie back in the car and she was sound asleep within two minutes.
So whether this was a pair of isolated instances or the beginning of a new trend, I struggle to keep Maddie in the dark about how I really feel about these little tantrums. I absolutely love to watch her in action whether she is batting her eyes at a stranger or swinging for the fences.
Her little grunting noises and snorts of protest are just too cute. Of course I don’t want to encourage her to act out, but it’s impossible for me not love and enjoy someone like her who is just bursting with all that pent up energy and craziness.
My six-month-old pride and joy is not one to let the grass grow under her feet. Nope, Maddie is a girl who likes to shake things up after a meal and a nice nap.
If early afternoon arrives and Maddie feels like she has not spent enough time outside – her outdoor fever can strike without warning. A series of grunts and complaints start flying around to room notifying people that it’s time to beat feet and hit the shoe-leather express.
This afternoon was a perfect example of our plight. Maddie spent the afternoon vehemently complaining for no particular reason. She wasn’t interested in playing, sitting still, being held or eating. She wanted be out on the streets of Jersey City – also known as “Riding Dirty!”
Even when we strapped her into the stroller, Maddie wasn’t done dishing out some dishonorable parental mentions. However, once the stroller was actually moving, a sly and devious smile rippled across Maddie’s face. Ahh the great outdoors – this is what its all about my friends. Her reverie was briefly shattered by a passing dump truck, but she recovered in seconds.
A few minutes later, the baby and her parents rolled into a local restaurant not far from the house. Her restlessness and fussy britches act was long gone now. Maddie paid close attention to the conversations of other diners, watched the wait staff and shared her some of delighted squeaks and gurgles with her parents.
Just a little fresh air and the theater of restaurant operations was all Maddie needed to wind down and really enjoy her afternoon.
It’s still unclear whether this yearning to get outside is instinctual or if it was cultivated by her father’s string of trips with her each week. Either way, her outdoor adventure needs have basically become a staple in her day-to day life.
Since Maddie was born six months ago, I have had more than my share of caffeinated beverages – but I really didn’t think I was drinking too much coffee. That foolish notion was shot down this afternoon when we walked in to the local Starbucks.
We were barley three steps through the door when heard a chorus of baristas greeting the baby – “Hellooo Madeleine!”
As we made our way to the counter, I could feel the eyes on Maddie as she basked in the glow of all the attention. She batted her eyes at each person behind the counter and they went nuts. “Oh she smiled at me!” “Ohh, she’s looking at me!”
You would have thought that Justin Bieber had just walked in and ordered a Shirley Temple Latte. I stood at the counter with Maddie strapped into the Bjorn as they peppered her with questions and compliments: “What did you do today Madeleine? Are you in a good mood? I love her smile. I want a baby!”
Hey now, keep it clean kids! Maddie’s dad was more than delighted to watch his baby girl’s impromptu press conference. At one point, they even managed to take his coffee order.
Things became even more entertaining when one the employees who had just come on got the word that Maddie was in the store. You could hear the whisper, “Look down there, Madeleine is here!”
By this time, Maddie had her bottom lip out and was done with all the adulation. This did not help to quiet the crowd, quite the opposite really.
“Oh look, she’s pouting – how cute is she?” They have still yet to hear one of the baby’s more potent temper tantrums. Maddie seemed especially annoyed that her fans were just as captivated by her frowns as they were by her smiles. Hey kid, fame is a fickle beast!
The snow was piling up outside and the wind was charging up the Hudson River. All it took was one quick peek at the raging storm outside for the 6-month-old Mad Madster to make up her mind! “I’m going in!”
At this point, Maddie doesn’t particularly care for the taste of bagels, but she loves walking to the little shop where everyone is ready to share a smile and comment with her.
She snapped on her warmest pink bear outfit and called on her father for a little transportation (at least that guy is good for something!) Maddie got all snapped into her Bjorn and was ready for a crack at some real snowmageddon! Her father was a little tentative on the icy steps, but the little girl was restless and demanding some real action.
The harsh snowy wind gave little Maddie a good lick in the chops and I wondered how she would handle it. I paused at a parked SUV and peered at our reflection. This way I could see the baby’s face and gauge her reaction to this frontal blast a frigid air. It was obvious right away that she was fascinated by Mother Nature’s fury and it was time to press on.
I used a scarf as a baby windscreen and kept talking to Maddie during our trudge acorss the snowy sidewalks. Every time we passed a taller vehicle, I took a quick glimpse to make sure the baby was fighting the good fight. A few times we even had to walk backwards to keep the wind from blasting into the face of our little princess.
Once we entered the bagel place, the heat inside seemed more shocking to Maddie than the cold air we had just wandered in from. The place was pretty empty for 7:30 on a Sunday morning, so Maddie focused on grabbing the attention of the boys behind the counter. They all went to great lengths to greet and welcome her.
The walk home was better for both of us because the wind was now at my back. The snow began falling more heavily and the Yukon Baby shared these words with her father, “Buckle up buttercup and keep it moving!” I picked up the pace, but as usual, Maddie was just toughing it out and taking it all in.
One of the first things I noticed in our reflection as I walked up the stairs to our home was that Maddie must be bulletproof or have a built-in heat generator in that bear outfit. Her father was completely blanketed in snow from head to toe and Maddie was pristine – looking like she had just come off the runway. Even weather can’t bust the honey badger!
Unseasonably warm weather settled over New York area this weekend leaving Maddie with a little bit of spring fever. She made it quite clear to her parents that a little bit of outdoor adventure time was now on the docket.
Unlike Katy Perry or Ke$ha, Maddie decided that there was no reason to brush her gums with a bottle of jack before hitting the town. We eased the baby into the stroller, outfitted her with a stylish pair of shades and were off into the wilds of Jersey City.
Warm weather certainly brought out the crazies this weekend and after being seated at an outdoor café near the town square, Maddie and her parents had front row seats to the show. Moments after we sat down, we were pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Michelle and Dan, (a couple of friends, not crazies) who joined us at the table for Maddie’s afternoon on the town.
As always, Maddie was pleased to be the center of attention and gave a great sigh of contentment as she settled herself onto Michelle’s lap. However, there was a great deal of activity and city noise going on around us, and after a while, the baby began to get restless. It seemed like Maddie was on the verge of cutting lunch short, when a homeless fellow across the street took it upon himself to conduct an impromptu saxophone concert right there on Grove Street.
Suddenly a series of soulful and sonorous notes drifted across the neighborhood touching all of those within earshot. The music washed over the delighted Maddie, who was now the picture of relaxation.
The baby did not look for the source of the rhapsody, but instead allowed the gentle tones to soothe her into a dreamlike state. This is when we came to the realization that even in the center of urban chaos, you can still find a lullaby to please the even the most discerning of children.
After yesterday’s sleep debacle, it was time reintroduce Maddie to some intense outdoor time. One of the surest ways to put the little girl down for the count is a heavy does of fresh air during the day. So right after breakfast, I grabbed a shopping list from MiMi, popped Maddie into her stroller and set off for greener pastures.
As soon as we turned the corner, Maddie was sleeping it off. She stayed that way for a good hour – but all good things must come to an end. Maddie woke up on the way home from store in her new stroller – a stroller that faces front and not the backwards-facing model she is used to. This is where things really began to unravel.
Ever since the baby was born (when she wakes up in her stroller) she has always been able to see who was pushing her. Apparently not seeing her chauffeur caused Maddie a great deal of angst and she was not afraid to share her acute displeasure with her PaPa. She lit up her father just 100 yards away from her grandparent’s house. Bummer.
It was classic. Maddie calmed down every time I came around the stroller into her line of sight – but as soon as I went around to push her, she lost it again. We were now crawling in 7-foot increments and getting nowhere fast. Each time I appeared and then disappeared again, the howling got worse. So what do you do with a stroller full of groceries and an angry baby?
Since MiMi’s house was actually in view, it was time to pick up Maddie and carry her in my right arm and push the stroller with the left hand. It seemed like a great solution to me, but at least three passing cars slowed down to stare as they watched this one-man-band stagger up the sidewalk with a very intense looking baby.
Towards the end, Maddie started getting fussy again and to save a few precious minutes, it was time for a little off-roading. We ran up the grassy hill to get inside the house, but the stroller was bogging down in the grass. It was at this point I realized that if I slowed down and lost momentum, the stroller full of groceries would wither roll back down the hill or topple end over end.
We made it to the top of the hill where Maddie was quickly returned to her mother and all the groceries eventually made it in safely. Tomorrow we are headed to central Virginia to see more relatives, so Maddie can enjoy as much time in the car as possible – probably not the best idea we’ve ever had, but hey, it’s the holidays!
With the temperature hanging in the mid-fifties – it was another day to bundle up the little bean, if Uncle Jason, Gina and John were going to enjoy a nice outdoor lunch. So we got Maddie all decked out with her windbreaker, leggings and some sweet thick socks.
Maddie’s windbreaker was a wee bit too big – even for her prominent noggin. Her little face kept disappearing into the hood as if it were in a giant bucket and she was quickly growing tired of these antics. To avoid any type of confrontation, I folded the hood back over her forehead and she immediately took on the appearance of the Gorton’s fish stick guy. Of course she was missing the Alec Baldwin beard and stache – but she really looked like a little girl who was ready to tackle the sea!
We loaded her onto her trawler-like buggy and cast off for Marco & PePe’s in Jersey City. The sidewalks were rough and a stiff breeze out of the north slowed our progress – but finally we got ourselves situated outside and we were ready for some grub from the galley.
It took only moments to realize that the mid-fifties indicated by the thermometer didn’t really count if you were sheltered from the wind and sitting in the direct sunlight. The sun was baking the back of my neck and we all realized that Maddie had to shed the commodore’s look before she became a baked bean.
This is easier said than done, as I had to unstrap Maddie and pull her out of the buggy in extremely close quarters. The good news is that the little girl thought all this activity was a hoot. First we rescued her from deep-sea slicker – good-bye Captain Gorton – and then we peeled off her Flash-Dance leggings.
It was all going so well until I realized that one of straps on the stroller had become unthreaded. I tried to thread it back through, but there was a little leg kicking against my arm every time I tried to patch the strap through. I have to give her credit; my little girl sports a real spirited sense of humor.
Finally, Momma had to take the baby so I could complete the task that took all of about 15 seconds without the assistance of Daddy’s little helper. Maddie really enjoyed the company of her Uncle Jason and is looking forward to meeting all of her aunts and uncles back at home later this afternoon – it’s just a shame that they won’t be able to enjoy her sporty deep sea look.
The day began with a 6am airport run and a full morning of shopping for Maddie and Stay Home PaPa. Aunt Rachel had an early morning flight and kissed the baby goodbye before departing for the frozen tundra of Homer, Alaska.
Maddie was very restless when we got home, but it was still too early to eat and there was not enough time to take Maddie for a walk. Not exactly a situation fraught with upside.
As I looked for a solution – I realized that there was a great deal of noise and commotion going on across the street and that gave me a very unconventional idea. Perhaps this symphony of noise pollution was just what the doctor ordered. (Whoops – we don’t like doctors right now) Was it even possible that the ruckus across the street might actually be the magic elixir needed to put my little girl at ease and send her off to dreamland? What harm could there be in trying?
With Maddie already in her car seat, I threw the window wide open and let the noise from the street flow in with the cool crisp air. Maddie looked momentarily stunned by all the action coming in from the window. First it was constant beeping of a cement truck backing across the street blocking all lanes of traffic. Then came the blaring car horns emanating from all of those courteous and sensitive Jersey City drivers. Then the erratic rhythm created by two men hammering away at the steel poles being driven into place to support a concrete reservoir.
One look at Maddie told me all I needed to know – this chaos was actually sweet music to her ears. She sighed, smiled and began to drift off to sleep.
Suddenly the deafening drone of a generator kicked on at the same time a traffic policeman began yelling at a defiant driver. Surely this would be too much for the Madster. Wrong again, the little girl was sound asleep; literally hypnotized by the bizarre concert that was beseeching our once peaceful neighborhood. It seems that Maddie is bound and determined to teach me new lessons each and every day. Well played my friend!