Month-Appropriate Madness.

¶ Satan’s Kernels 2: The Fast and The Furious

The week before last, I took Twyla to the pediatrician for what I was certain was an ear infection. As it happens, you can read all about my reasons for the visit and the visit’s outcome here, in an entry I wrote in 2009 about an identical experience with Simone, because apparently I have learned nothing. Now, as then, the culprit was determined to be NOT the child in question’s ears, but the impending eruption of her first set of molars/Satan’s Kernels. The salient difference between then and now is the age of said child: then, Simone was 17 months/13 months adjusted. Twyla turned nine months old a week ago.

At nine months, she has eight teeth, and now she is growing molars. WHY? What could she possibly need molars for, at this age? She’s like a six year old with an unlimited data plan, or a barista with a corporate lawyer on retainer. They are utterly gratuitous, these molars.

I can’t see them yet, but I can feel their lumpy hideouts, and the pediatrician got a good look in there with her baby flashlight. I can see the drool and hear the screaming, so. If I had any faith at all in those amber teething necklaces I would be draping them around poor Twyla’s nonexistent neck, but I can’t come up with a plausible mechanism by which they would be effective, so we are stuck with ibuprofen and chew toys for now. Unfortunately, that little spin I took through my archives/memory lane suggests that Satan’s Kernels can take months to finally emerge.

It’s a good thing that Twyla is generally absurdly delightful.

(HOW delightful, you ask? Here is a 20 second sample:

You can see why I don’t drown her in the river.)

¶ We call it the Pen-Opticon…

Twyla is fast, and I’m not just talking about the precocious tooth development–she moves quickly, scooting around the room sitting up. You’d think the large head that has effectively made crawling impossible would also prove an impediment to speed while seated, in the manner of the ball portion of a ball and chain, but alas, no. I do not remember this being as much of a problem with Simone, which I attribute to a combination of several factors:

-When Simone was a baby, there was no older child scattering dangerous/compelling detritus hither and yon

-When Simone was a baby, she was less determined to put the whole world, piece by piece, into her mouth

-When Simone was a baby, I had a part time nanny (oh, those halcyon days), giving me some guaranteed work time each week (Incidentally, do you know what irks me? Conversations about mothers who stay home with their children or work from home that include snide “not everyone can AFFORD to do that” remarks, obviously assuming that working full time outside the home is always the most financially feasible option, and anything else is a luxury. I am certain that this is true in some cases, but in many OTHER cases–ahem, MINE–day care costs would make working outside the home LESS profitable than part-time-from-home work.) (Not sure where that came from, but apparently it wanted out.)

My pre-tangent point was that I never felt the need to purchase one of those baby-containing cages/pens for Simone. I managed just fine without one, and when Simone was a baby, I was still semi-committed to keeping our small apartment looking like something other than a daycare center. (I have…more or less given up on this, for the time being.)

However, within the last month it has become obvious that for this new model of baby, some sort of kennel was going to be necessary. I am paid by the hour, and if I spend 45 minutes of every one of my hours replacing Twyla in the center of the room and/or removing various choking hazards from her delighted grasp, it attentuates my possible work schedule dramatically, which in turn cuts into my budget for such household fripperies as food and electricity.

(Simone, as you can see, is also a fan of what she refers to as “Twyla’s Pen.”)

Do you remember when Baby Simone came scooting over to ask me to read her a certain book and I got these pictures?
I think we need a similar set of Twyla in her Pen, holding a copy of Surveiller et Punir

¶ Less lion/lamb, more albatross

March is usually one of my favorite months. The snow is melting, the sun is shining, the temperature is balmily in the 40s, then 50s. Spring is coming at last, and I am secure in the knowledge that soon I will be able to wear fetching shoes without ruining them in the filthy slush. USUALLY. This March is different. And by different, to be clear, I mean worse. Bad. Undesirable.

Now, look. I take a sort of pride in our cold, inhospitable winters. As a bookish, fearful sort, I have precious few opportunities to display toughness, and my insouciance in the face of frigid temperatures makes me feel hardy. But in exchange for my tolerance–celebration, even–of Minnesota’s harsh winter, I expect said winter to know its place. A little snow in March is fine. Still having snowbanks as tall as my 5-year-old is not. “Chilly” is fine. Windchills well below zero? NOT. In a fit of pique I googled “when will all the snow be gone minnesota” just now, and the news was not encouraging. The ground is so frozen and the snow so deep that much of it is expected to persist well into April. Damn it to HELL. (Where at least it would be WARM.)

¶ The town will not be toddling, as I am leaving my children at home.

Happily, I do have something to look forward to: my very first business trip! I suppose my book tour was a “business trip,” in its way, but this is a BUSINESS business trip with meetings, and I am terribly excited. I don’t talk much about my work here, but I suppose there is no harm in telling you that I am currently working as a freelance speechwriter. I am going to Chicago for two nights next month, and I am going to sleep for hours and hours with no children. If I find so much as ONE child in my bed I am going to call housekeeping and have it removed.

The trip was supposed to be for one night only, but as my first meeting is early in the morning I am staying the night before on my own dime so as not to risk a flight delay (and in order to get as much fun out of the thing as possible). I will have that first evening in the city to eat an uninterrupted meal and sleep an uninterrupted sleep and then in the morning I will take the train/subway (El? I believe it is the El in Chicago?) to the (reportedly lovely) suburb where I will have my meetings and stay my second night, flying out directly after my last meeting the next day. Technically I could take a cab from the city to my meeting/hotel #2, but I sort of adore public transportation, so I am doing that instead, despite my mother’s insistence that my suitcase will make me A Target For Pickpockets.

¶ Business, speaking of

Lastly, I think I got addresses from everyone who requested a copy of my book in the comments of the last post (I couldn’t just pick two of you, because HONESTLY), and I’ll be sending the packages out early next week. I think this is something I’d like to do a bit more of. I don’t have any more copies lying around, but I can certainly BUY some, and I’d like every possible NICU to have a signed (with encouraging note?) copy for parents to borrow, so if you know of a NICU that might like one, send their information along and I will make a list and mail them out as I am able to rustle up the funds. It seems a little presumptuous to more or less press my book into people’s hands and god knows it has many (many! MANY) flaws, but it is something I would have liked to have at the time, so why not.
(I realize that an author buying her own book in order to give it away to others is not really the customary business model, but there you are.)


  1. Twyla is adorable! Molars at 9 months, though? Not so much. Enjoy your time in Chicago…the El will be perfectly fine with luggage. I have done it many a time, without becoming a target. (Or maybe I WAS a target, but my stealthy 5’4″ frame and intimidating stash of med. school literature made those punks THINK TWICE!)

  2. Swistle says:

    I had many favorite parts, and when I go through the second time to pick them out for the comment, I worry I will miss one and that… As I type that out, I realize the Worse Case Scenario is not worth fretting over.

    1. “She’s like a six year old with an unlimited data plan”
    2. “but I can’t come up with a plausible mechanism by which they would be effective”
    3. “(Not sure where that came from, but apparently it wanted out.)”
    4. “As a bookish, fearful sort, I have precious few opportunities to display toughness”
    5. “If I find so much as ONE child in my bed I am going to call housekeeping and have it removed.”

  3. Sara says:

    Buying one of those child pens has helped preserve my sanity. We originally called it the ‘cage’ (in jest of course) but stopped when we realized it wouldn’t be long before our daughter started repeating what we say. Now we call it her ‘play area’.

  4. Meg says:

    Yay for business trips! Not sure which suburb you’re going to, but the El doesn’t go to most of them (ie it goes to Oak Park, but goes through some sketchy parts along the way, so you’re better off taking the Metra there. If you’re going up north to Evanston you’re probably ok on the El.)

    The RTA’s trip planner is a nice little online tool for figuring out the best method of public transportation to get from point A to B. It combines the CTA (city) train(El) & bus, the Metra (suburban) train, and the Pace (suburban) bus system. Good luck, feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions!

    • Alexa says:

      I AM going up north to Evanston! My love of public transportation is train/subway specific (it does NOT extend to buses, which make me queasy), so I am hoping I will be able to figure out a sensible route. I am pretty excited, even though I won’t get to do/see much. I hear Evanston is very nice?

      I will now go and try out the little tool you posted…

      • Ann Marie says:

        Evanston is actually really cool. I live in the city and worked there for about 11 years. You can totally do the El up to Evanston. Since Evanston is right on the outskirts of the city, I’d recommend that you do

        Actually, I think it’s easiest to go to, put in the starting and ending addresses, and then switch the option from driving to public transport. You’ll get all kinds of options, and can set your departure time to make sure you allow for the (inevitable) delays.

        I like Stained Glass Bistro for dinner. For casual Irish food, try Celtic Knot. For middle eastern, try Mt. Everest restaurant. All 3 of these are not far off the Davis stop (which is a stop for both the El (CTA), and Metra Train (commuter/RTA train).

        Hope you have a blast!

  5. I would first like to second Swistle’s favorite parts.

    Second, that video is wonderful. WONDERFUL. What a happy, charming baby!

    Third, MARCH. Ack. It is supposed to be spring. Here in my neck of the woods, we are getting wild vacillations between Sunny! and Warmish! and Grey with Persistent Snow That Falls without Any Intention of STICKING, Just for the Purpose of Falling and Destroying All Hopes for Gentler Weather. Occasionally, it snows a few solid inches to drive the point home. What a jerk, March. Ugh.

  6. Corinne says:

    I missed the book giveaway thing (for which I blame Google, for taking away my beloved Reader, and Feedly, for having some kind of UNLABELED ICON that with one stray click marks everything as read NONONO!)
    I would like to support the effort somehow of getting them into NICUs. Your book was not yet out when Benny was born at 34w3d but I had your blog archives to scour, which was immeasurably helpful. Can I buy them and send them to you? I could just buy them and send to the local NICUs (Milwaukee metro) but then they wouldn’t be signed. What do you think?

  7. Jackie says:

    Hmm, I just ranted about the stay at home out of financial considerations contigent being ignore, and that’s, like, all of us practically. Does your baby actually not mind staying in there though? If I bought one of those it would be a very expensive, very undecorative decor piece.

  8. Lisa says:

    Hi there from Chicago! I have been enjoying your blog (and your book) for quite some time now. If you are up to meeting a fellow blogger (promise I won’t be stalkerish in behavior) I would love to buy you a drink (coffee or something stronger) while you’re in town. (ok, that sounds vaguely stalkerish and frankly, like a come-on for a cheap date…I won’t escalate things by suggesting lunch although there are some great places here in Uptown). Either way, have a fantastic sleep in your hotel sans kids. Oh the jealousy I feel. BTW, my husband has been a speechwriter for several years (for Sen. Tom Harkin, the head of NASA and most currently the CEO of Boeing). He’d be interested in meeting you as well if you like!

  9. Meg says:

    My teeth all came in early — I lost all of my baby teeth between ages 5 and 7, had my poorly-named “twelve-year molars” by age eight, and subsequently had a full set of full-grown, sideways, impacted wisdom teeth by age twelve. The obnoxious oral surgeons wouldn’t operate to take them out until I was seventeen. Hopefully Twyla’s teeth are not as annoyingly precocious as she continues to grow.

  10. I love this post in so many ways – not in small part because I’m currently undergoing my own series of “wait a minute, my first kid didn’t do this! How do you expect me to be ahead of the curve if you go changing things up, minions?!” moments lol.

  11. Jillian says:

    I am 100% certain that molars at 9 months should be illegal. My boys didn’t even have a tooth at 9 months, or, even at 13 months for one of them, let alone molars. None of my kids got 12 month molars before they were 2, or 2 year molars before they were 5, though, maybe my newly turned 4 year old will get his earlier than that. I couldn’t imagine dealing with teething with molars in an actual baby instead of toddler. I guess late teething has more advantages than just later to lose their baby teeth is better for adult teeth nonsense. (my girl did get teeth earlier than her brothers did, she had all but molars at 10 months/8 months adjusted, but she had none 2 weeks before that and then didn’t get molars till over a year later, so she really only teethed once. Out of 4 kids, she actually was my earliest baby, and yet, she met every milestone earliest, even by actual age instead of corrected age, the boy who didn’t get his first tooth till 16 months was actually born at 38 weeks, he just does everything on his own schedule it seems, like, he didn’t start walking till the day the physical therapist was going to show up to do an evaluation to see if we needed to add PT onto the OT and ST he already got, at 18 1/2 months old. Kids are fun. lol)

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