Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year!

this has been the fastest year of my life, hands down.  alex agrees.  this has been the fastest year of penny's life as well, but it's her only year so far so she has very little to compare it to.  it's pretty amazing to think that one year ago tonight, we had a two week old baby asleep in a basket on our coffee table, and today we have an almost walking almost talking 20 pound 30 inch marvel asleep in her crib.  penny has far surpassed all of her resolutions for 2010, so she has had to think hard about 2011.  we've decided to work on walking, talking and learning colors.  we'll see how it goes!
we wish you and your family all the best in 2011 - we know that this wasn't the easiest year for many, and we hope that 2011 exceeds everyone's expectations for awesomeness!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

our epic adventure

today, alex left penny and me on our own for the day, and i decided that after her first nap, penny and i were going to target.  a girl needs warm jammies and socks for the winter, right?  we got bundled up and hit the road! normally, the walk to target is 20 minutes, tops, but because of the crazy amounts of snow, the walk took an hour and a half, and was replete with spirals around the block because there were intersections we absolutely could not navigate, danger blocks we spent in the bike lane, and lots of me carrying the stroller over sections of the sidewalk that were not shoveled.  now, i realize that this is a charming delightful throwaway blog about an adorable baby, but i am going to take one short moment here to rant.  you may skip if you like.

who is responsible for clearing the sidewalk around a church?  there are many, MANY churches here in my neighborhood, and usually i notice them because of their awesome architecture.  today i noticed them because none of them had passable sidewalks.  none.  at all.  wouldn't this be a great time to rally your community together?  hi, congregation - can you bring your shovel, please?  this annoyed me a lot.  brooklyn is a highly walked place - i understand that there was a lot of snow, and i'm not asking that everyone make wide beautiful paths for a lady and her stroller, but even the courtesy one foot in front of the other aisle would have been appreciated here.  seriously.  get it together, churches.
the exception to this is the church across the street from me (but i didn't have to walk by it today).  their sidewalk is completely clear; but it has to be to let the firemen in at any time.  that's another story for another day.

end rant

an hour and a half after we left, we arrived at our destination.  i figured it would be a quiet day at target because of the snow and that it's after the holidays.  it wasn't nearly as bad as it's been on previous visits, but it wasn't a quiet sanctuary, either.  i did my shopping, got in the rather long line for the checkout, and took penny out of her stroller because she hadn't stretched her legs in two hours or so.  the very nice lady behind me struck up a conversation, and it was all going so well - she guessed penny was a year old, she told me she was a nanny, asked me if penny got everything she wanted from santa ("he brought her everything she asked for" was my honest and not-wanting-to-get-into-a-thing answer), and her delightful pre-teen daughter was sassy and smart and cute.  then, THEN, i put my stuff on the conveyor, and it all went horribly wrong.  the purple jammies with the owls got an "oooh, cute" from everyone.  the jams with the penguins in scarves & hats, the same.  when the checkout lady scanned the robot pjs and the pirate pjs, the daughter brightly asked me "oh!  does she have a brother at home?" and i instantly changed my entire assessment of her.  "no - they're for her, i just don't like so much pink", i replied.  "she's WEARING pink", the checkout lady helpfully pointed out.  i kind of gave up, though i wish i had told everyone that i was a robotics engineer or a weekend buccaneer.  then penny and i shared a hot dog, and it took us much less time to get home.
am i a terrible person for not wanting to teach a lesson about gender bias in the line at target?  probably.  was it all worth it?


we had a giant blizzard this week!  luckily, i have the week off of work, as the side streets weren't plowed for days, and the subways shut down.  when it first started snowing, we took penny out for her first true winter experience (we brought her home from the hospital in a snowstorm, but none of us were too coherent at that point).

oh, did i mention she can stand now?  yeah, she thinks it's no big deal.  she just stands there looking all pleased with herself.  i applaud for her every time, but she's too cool to acknowledge it anymore.
we stayed inside all day when the blizzard was actually blizzarding, as it was far too intimidating.  while trapped inside, we were visited by the one, the only - Boxhat!  
we may have gone a little stir crazy.  also, check out that belly!
 the day after, i ventured out into the crazy snow to gather supplies (i am a jewish mother now!  my chicken soup is no longer just tasty, it now has magical healing properties!).  
yesterday, we all went out into the world together.  lucky for penny, she received both a sled and snowpants for her birthday!
as soon as our internet stops being so spotty, i will upload video of penny walking around with our help!  it's amazing!

edited to add: it is also confirmed - she is getting four top teeth all at once!  check it out in the above photos!

Monday, December 20, 2010

birthday party!

on friday, penny turned one year old!  that's crazy!  i took the day off of work, and baked her a cake that we shared with her grandparents and aunt jodi.  in honor of the birthday girl's favorite food, it was a banana cake, and in honor of birthdays, it had chocolate buttercream (it's this cake, if you'd like to make one for your little monkey, but i was too crafted out to make the monkey face on it).  i think she liked it!
thank you, grandpa dan, for the amazing pictures!
i made her a cupcake crown because she is the queen of birthdays!

on sunday, we had our third (almost) annual holiday brunch.  alex and i cook WAY too much food, and have over as many friends and family as we can fit in our apartment.  the star of this year's spread were the BBQ bacon wrapped jalepeno poppers.  after our guests left, i think i ate half of them myself.  after the brunch, alex and i were entirely too sick of cooking to think about dinner, so penny joined the ranks of so many american children and ate chicken nuggets!  shaped like dinosaurs!
though it's incredibly hard to believe:
we went to the doctor for penny's check up.  she has dropped down to the 25th percentile for weight at 19 pounds 5 oz, though you'd never know it from her tummy!  apparently that's just fine, as she's working so hard on walking, she's expected to drop in percentile.  she's right on at 80th percentile for height at a staggering 30 inches.  we've moved from formula to whole milk, and penny has been given the go ahead for every food there is (except for nuts, peanuts and shellfish).  the doctor told us she's doing great!
that's one year done!  she's not going to be a baby for much longer!

Friday, December 17, 2010

dear penny

as of this minute, you are one year old.  i cannot even remember what the world was like before you.  though this year has flown by for me, it must have taken such a long time for you - you have already learned so much!  though my nickname for you is "tiny", your personality is oversized.  you are funny, beautiful and wise.  you are just as comfortable in a room full of people as you are sitting by yourself with a book.  your dad and i hope that today you will take your first step.  i am so proud to be your mother.  it is an honor to be raising you and it is a privilege to make you laugh.  i hope your smile never dims and your eyes are never less bright.  you love to eat grapes.  you are so musical - i have never heard a baby able to reproduce sound like you can, and for someone who can't stand up on their own, you have some killer dance moves.  i hope you did not inherit my: bad back, love for terrible food, terrible sense of geography.  i hope you did inherit my: patience, courage, craftiness.  i cannot express to you how loved you are.  you have an incredible family and massive circle of friends, all of whom are delighted to spend time with you.  it has been such a joy to spend your first year by your side, and i can't wait to see how much more is waiting for us down the road.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

post #100!

this is the 100th post here at chez z!  so many exciting things are happening over here!  penny has decided to crawl for real, rather than the army crawling that's been serving her so well for so long.  she doesn't do it all the time, but it's still exciting.  we can now see her top teeth from straight on when she smiles.  she has started blowing kisses, though she still doesn't know how to give kisses.  
yesterday we celebrated chanukah with alex's side of the family - so much fun and so much food!
penny loves her family!
today we were reading through penny's book of colors, and on three different pages, she pointed to three different pictures i asked her to - a duck, grapes, and blueberries.
so this is it, penny's last week of being zero.  as of the next blog post, our baby will be the big 1-.0

happy 100th post, everyone!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


on thursday, when i started thinking about what i would post this week, i was coming up very empty.  penny still had her stuffy nose, she was kind of sleepy and out of it, and there were no developments to speak of.  but on friday, i got a call from alex - penny had gotten top teeth!  he could definitely feel one, and there was a tiny nubbin of a second!  well, that surely was enough to write about, no?  and it would have been, too - but when i got her to giggle with an open mouth to take a look in there, i saw not two, but THREE teeth looking back at me!  THAT'S got to be enough to satisfy you blog readers, right?
it sure would have been, except that as of today, penny has decided she's interested in walking!  the penny signal for "up" is slightly modified by flapping, and that means that she would like to hold on to our fingers and walk!  it's super exciting!  she has also balanced on her own two feet for several seconds!  it turns out to have been a VERY exciting weekend!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


happy thanksgiving week!  here at chez z, we have so much to be thankful for - we hope you all had a safe and delicious thanksgiving.  we sure did!
penny started getting a cold at our thanksgiving celebration, and we think it's on its way out now, but she's been sniffling and coughing and not sleeping a whole heck of a lot the past couple of nights.  we're lucky that she has such an even temperament, though - she's not letting it get her down!  we started off our thanksgiving day watching the parade on tv - penny was enraptured by both it, and a bagel the size of her head. 
what i'm thankful for.
we know five people in the parade this year (hi, mark, barry, kevin, mary & jen!)!  we celebrated with tons of cousins in brooklyn.  on friday, we went to visit grandparents and great grandmas.  penny is lucky enough to have three great grandmothers to celebrate with, and we are so excited that she got to see all of them this week! at grandma and grandpa zalben's house, penny opened early birthday and chanukah presents, and enjoyed an impromptu concert by uncle jonathan!

on saturday we had dinner in the city with a gr-aunt, a gr-uncle, grandparents, an uncle and a cousin!  fun!  more deliciousness!  then, today, we had an early chanukah celebration!  more family!  more food!  MORE COUSINS!
everyone in this photo is somebody's cousin.

is has been a very packed four days - penny has been quite a trooper through all of the travelling, and hopefully she's on the mend.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

oh no!

mary burke, stop reading now.  go to, and just pretend that you didn't even notice i posted something tonight.

penny likes tomatoes.  you guys, this might be the first time that i'm a little sad about something she likes!  what am i supposed to do with this?

Monday, November 15, 2010


penny has now started pointing!  she will point to where she wants to go when she's being held, or what she wants - it's great that she has a whole new way to communicate!
at dinner last night, she was pointing at a photo of her that we keep on the dining room table.  she patted it for a while, then gave it a hug, THEN tried to share some of her dinner with it by putting food on its mouth.  alex and i almost died.  it was SO sweet.
she makes an "o" shape with her mouth when she points to the box of cheerios, she has started sharing her leaves with other babies in the park, and she knows that when she hands us the book with the chicken face on the cover, she should say "bok bok bok bok".

this is getting good.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

how is it november, exactly?

so i was just wrapping my head around the fact that it's september already when, blammo!  it's november!  daylight savings starts tomorrow!  apparently baseball is over for the season?  i can't keep up.  all i know is, i broke out the knitwear because it's cold!  penny wore the one hat she can't rip off her head at the park today, and she's looking more and more like a kid and less and less like a baby all the time.

there's been a whole lot of screaming and not a lot of sleeping this week at chez z.  as usual, we're pretty sure she's teething.  last night, she ate pretty much a whole piece of chicken, and tonight she ate a major amount of chinese food.  she's started eating off of our forks, and she is so delicate about it, it makes me giggle.
after the jump, i need your help...

Monday, November 1, 2010

halloween twitter nerdy madness!

@neilhimself (that would be Neil Gaiman, HIMSELF) retweeted my tweet about alex giving out comics for halloween!  eeeeeeeep!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

happy halloween!

it's hard to believe that one year ago today, we were taking maternity photos in the park, and now here we are with a 10 and a half month old baby.
park slope is the place to be on halloween - and since it fell on a sunday this year, kids were out in costume starting at about 3:30.  we ended up rushing home from our afternoon walk to start our candy distribution.  alex had read about neil gamian's all hallows read campaign, and so he offered every trick or treater a copy of his comic book.  the kids FREAKED OUT, the parents seemed really impressed and appreciative, and overall, it was pretty amazing.
penny sported two looks for her first halloween; her daytime attire:
 and her costume:
for those of you who don't know what this is, penny is nibbler from futurama!  not a bad job, if i do say so myself.  wandering around and seeing everyone dressed up, visiting our favorite stores and showing penny off, and watching the parade with friends - plus candy and wine!  halloween is such a great day!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


so, sometimes i am having a bad day at work.  like, a big, bad, frustrating, nothing is going right, i want to punch people in the face kind of day.  the kind of day where i want to curl up under my desk and eat skittles until 6.  and then, i get an email from alex.  no text, just the subject line "we're in the park!", and this photo:

and everything gets better.  maybe i was sending my anguish out into the cosmos and he could sense it?  whatever it is that made him send me this picture, my day just got about 400% happier.

Monday, October 25, 2010

a beautiful day!

today was an absolutely lovely, warm day.  we've been a little bit lazy this weekend, and spent our time hanging around, eating a lot, going through penny's clothes and walking in the park.  aunt jodi told us about a gap kids open casting call, so why not enter another photo contest?  once i figured out how to get my camera out of fully automatic mode, i was so much more pleased with the photos!  what do you think?

Monday, October 18, 2010

ten months!

it's october!  that means that penny is 10 months old!  there is no way that she will sit still when there is a delicious sign to be nommed on!

also, penny is playing games.  lots of games that she makes up herself!  for example: she puts her blanket on her head, and laughs and laughs and laughs.  that game is called "your blanket is not a hat".  she crawls over to  the door to the nursery, waves bye bye, and then plays peek a boo with the blinds.  that game does not have a name yet.  
alex took a video of penny and i playing my favorite of her new games; it's called "surprise!", and while this may not be the best example of the game, it's a pretty spectacular video, i think.*

*granted, i am pretty biased...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

crime fighter

this weekend was new york comic con, so alex was very busy!  penny and i went to visit him at work on sunday:

i made her a tiny spiderman "crime fighter" dress for the occasion!

basically, this is the way to do comic con, if you have the opportunity.  show up for a couple of hours, bring an adorable baby that everyone wants to talk to, and watch the whole thing from a glass box up above it all.  oh!  and make sure someone takes a photo of your whole family:
this week, penny has hit what i found out from the internet is called the "nine month sleep regression".  she has hit all of the milestones that bring on this phase - pulling up to stand, cruising, parroting vocalization, teething - and she has stopped sleeping, pretty much altogether.   if we don't get it just right, she lies in her crib screaming - not crying, SCREAMING - and for the past two nights she's woken up at 3am and not gone back to sleep.  when cuddling her to get her to sleep, i have noticed that all of her little muscles are firing - a lot in her legs, but her arms twitch too, and her face goes through all of its expressions. there’s clearly a lot happening in there, and if it were happening to me, i’m sure i wouldn’t be able to sleep either!  i hear that this is temporary, but that "temporary" can mean "three months", so hopefully this will be over soon and we can go back to our non-zombified selves.
she's just so gosh darned cute, though...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

guess what?!

you GUYS!  guess what we just found out?  it turns out, that if you give someone some money, they will come to your house and watch your baby for you!  and they don't even have to be related to you or anything!  and if they aren't doing anything else, they might even do it at NIGHT?  so that you can possibly go see a movie or go to dinner with the people who USUALLY babysit for you!  this is amazing!
in truth, alex had to be somewhere this afternoon, and we are already asking too much of our parents, so we hired a friend who babysits  for a living.  six hours, and penny had an awesome time!
alex is pretty sure he felt a top tooth, and though i didn't, he felt them before i did on the bottom, so color me convinced!
penny has become a pulling up on stuff master!  she is getting much better at cruising, and can still plonk down on her bottom when she's done standing.
we have started sharing our meals with her at mealtime, and tonight i cut up an apple into matchsticks for her - what a treat!  here's a collage of tonight's dinner (apples, grapes & cheerios) featuring her new bib!
also, we got a new couch!  last week we took a spontaneous trip to ikea, ate meatballs and mashed potatoes, and bought a convertible couch!  now you have a place to stay when you come visit!

Monday, September 27, 2010

ouch. ouch! OUCH!

penny had her nine month doctor's appointment today, and she's doing great!  she is now 18 pounds 5 ounces, which is right on at the 50th percentile, and 29 inches (sorry, mom - i said 27 on the phone, but that was last visit!), which is still 90th.  she's doing all of the things she should be doing and more, and the doctor is very impressed with her cuteness!  she told us that her top teeth are probably coming in any day now!  we have gotten the go ahead for all sorts of new foods!  that was the good news of the day. in less good news, poor little penny got her third hep b shot and a flu shot - the first injection in her arm - and she handled it like such a big girl!  she didn't cry at all for the flu shot, and managed to recover from the vaccination by watching water pour out of the faucet into the sink.  easy as pie, we thought.  but NO!  it turns out that nowadays they send you to get blood drawn for a CBC and lead screening when you are nine months old, and we figured we'd take care of that today as well since it needed to be done.  hello, surprise visit to the hospital!  since alex bit the bullet and held her for the shots at the doctor, i held her for the phlebotomists.  luckily for her, she has very good veins (she gets them from her mama), and it was over pretty quickly.  the poor thing was so pooped after the whole ordeal that she fell asleep all snuggled up on me as i carried her home.
this week, penny has learned to pull herself up to standing!  it's very exciting, and she is really proud of herself.  she has started to figure out cruising, and i'm doing the mean mom thing of putting something she really wants just out of her reach to encourage her.  it worked for rolling over and crawling, so why not this too?
also, she is feeding herself with a spoon!  i help her go "dip, dip, dip" in the bowl, and she expertly maneuvers it into her mouth.  she was stuck on putting the wrong end in her mouth for a couple of days until i pulled this trick - totally ignoring when she chomped on the wrong end, and cheering and clapping like a maniac when she got the right end.  it IS a bit like training a pet, but whatever!  it worked!  here's a collage:
i was trying to take photos, hold the bowl
and help her eat, all at the same time.
please forgive the blurriness. 

i am totally in love with all of her fall clothes, and i try to dress her in them until alex helpfully points out that it's in the high 80s outside.  we had the air conditioner on two days of last week.  seriously, people, it's late september already.  i was not wearing tank tops as back to school clothes when i was a kid.

finally!  a photo of her teeth!
and to tie it all up, speaking of trying new foods:
so, you grownups call this "chicken"?

i LIKE this chicken!
this has been a rough day for me.  do not judge.
after the jump, a bonus photo for fans of penny's ridiculous expressions

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


we're still not sure whether or not last week's storm was a tornado, but whatever it was, it made a huge mess.  penny was fascinated by the storm, and didn't mind the thunder, lightning, or super ridiculous rain.  the next day, alex took her out to their usual swings and found this:
it has since been cleared away.

since penny was born, it has been our great dream that someday we'd be able to go to a restaurant or sit around the dinner table and share our food with her.  this week, penny has started doing just that, and taking it one step further - she has started sharing HER food with US!
it all started one night when we ordered indian food and i gave penny a piece of my naan - she really enjoyed it, but she had a great time holding it out to both of us.  then over the weekend, the big gay ice cream truck (<- yes, i'm serious) stopped in park slope, and we got ice cream.  when i was done with the good part, i let penny finish off the cone:
(you can also pretend she has just shoved an entire ice cream cone in her mouth, if you like)

but tonight - TONIGHT - i was walking home from work when alex and penny caught up with me and we made a spur of the moment decision to go out to dinner!  not only was penny perfectly behaved, but we got a couple of carrot sticks for her, she shared my soup, crackers, the bun from my hamburger and alex's fries!  she had sips of water!  and she held out her carrot stick for us to share because she is such a sweet baby!  it was a dream come true - really.  we waited for this day for a very long time, and it was all we had hoped for - we all had so much fun.

just to wrap it all up, in honor of the first day of fall, a photo of penny in my favorite of her new autumn outfits:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

gentlemen, let this be a warning to you.

tonight, alex left penny & me alone in the apartment to go to friend's surprise party.  fellas, when you leave your ladies alone, who knows what sort of shenanigans they can get up to?  what sort of SPINACH BASED shenanigans?
when he left, penny started a pretty typical dinner, baby carrot in one hand, and no warning of what was to come; except perhaps the fact that she's not wearing a shirt....
but when all was said and done, she (and her carrot) looked like this:
not pictured is the spinach splatter on the wall, the floor, the chair, the couch and my computer (which are all behind her) from when she flung the bowl.
despite appearances, she ate quite a bit of spinach.

after penny went to sleep, i got up to solo shenanigans.  i have, for a very long time, HATED the lampshades that came with the lamps in our living room.  since the lamps and the accompanying shades came with the living room, and we paid not a penny for them, i felt bad complaining, and when i researched replacement shades i found out that holy heck, they are expensive!
a couple of weekends ago we stopped at my new favorite store in the slope - a supply store for absolutely every single craft you can think of, and several more that i can't yet identify BUT WILL.  i bought a yard of fabric and some elastic, and my lamp went from this:
to this:
success!  i only bought enough fabric for one lampshade, just in case the whole thing was a miserable failure, but i am super psyched to get another yard and cover the other one!  and then, scraps!  to make something else with!

you didn't think i was going to end with a lamp photo, did you?  nuh uh.  proof that penny got cleaned up all nice and pretty:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

baby sitting!

penny has figured out how to sit herself up without holding on to anything!  she changed radically when she could hold herself up in a seated position, and she has changed again now that she can get there herself.  she's generally happier and she's eating again!  she's also in the middle of a raging bout of separation anxiety, and gets frustrated when we take things away from her that she really wants.  we've had to empty all of our lowest shelves, and whatever she finds, she can carry with her from room to room.  she gets super excited when she sees either of us and waves hi and bye!
i bought a lot of clothes from ebay for her, and she had a great time sorting them with me!
i decided a little while ago to have a long term project - taking a photo of penny's hand on top of my hand every mother's day...but then i kept forgetting to do it.  so this week, we took the first of these photos, and i will definitely take one a year - hopefully in the mother's day general time frame, but if not, i'm not going to stress it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

so i put penny to sleep tonight, though she seemed more awake than usual.  alex and i were chatting about how maybe we should have lowered the crib height today when, on the video monitor, we watched her pull herself up to stand for the first time ever!  cut to half an hour later, the crib was lowered and a sleepy baby was put in it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

what penny's been working on


sorry for the long absence - it's been a very sleepy week here at chez z.  here is a video for you that might make up for it - here's how to optimize your enjoyment.

step one - press play here:

step two: press play here:

step three: be amazed!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

family reunion

this week, we all celebrated penny's eight month-day.  it's getting harder and harder to get her to sit still for these photos - all she wants to do is eat the signs.  so, for eight months, eight photos!

she's definitely got teeth!  they've spent this week breaking through, and she's been enjoying chomping on the spoon as she's eating - she's got some grip!  we still haven't been able to get a photo of them, but we're working on it!

yesterday was my mom's side of the family's reunion - penny got to meet lots of cousins, and it's always wonderful to get together.  lots of firsts, too!  penny ate french fries (big yum) and cantaloupe (also yum); and she went swimming with me in a big pool!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

teeth! and a tutorial!

so we definitely think penny is teething for real now, mainly because we can see and feel her teeth.  she can now eat bananas three ways - mashed, picking up her own pieces, and taking bites from a whole fruit.
She is so proud!
On Wednesday, after Penny went to sleep, I made her a present!  It was the third time I'd brought out my sewing machine since she'd been born, and while not perfect, I'm pretty proud of what I made and thought I'd show you what I did in case you have a baby who loves making noise, too!  Here's how I made a recycled onsie noisy blanket.

Does that make sense?  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments!  Enjoy!