Thursday, December 4, 2008

Well, at least Cute Coworker's got my back

Or, Fun with Fluids, part two...

Wet puddle on my neck, this one generated not by me (well, at least not directly) but by the babe, as I was walking from one room to the other with her propped against my shoulder.

"Eew," I mutter, and run for a paper towel to try to contain the damage.

This is why I don't wear nice clothes to work. (And never did, even before I started dragging my spawn to the office with me, just for the record.)

"It's all down your back," Cute Coworker observes. "You're never going to get it all."

Sweetie that he is, he helped. Wasn't that nice?

God, I would hate working for me right about now.

A Mid-day dilemma

So we're back at work--more on that later--but for now, a quiz.

When a mom is typing away at work and suddenly looks down to find she has a wet spot spreading across her sweater from over her nipple, she should:

a. hunch her shoulders so it doesn't get any bigger, and hope it dries before anyone notices
b. dump a full glass of water down her front and yell oh, shit! for good measure
c. not worry about it--perfectly natural, nothing to be ashamed of, blah blah blah

Right now I'm going with a, but I'm seriously considering b. ...

And remembering why I was supposed to have brought in some extra clothes to keep under my desk.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Big Welcome to the New Baby Girl!

Born Oct. 24, 8 lb. 5 oz, at 1:05 p.m.--approximately 2 hours after I called Dad, Esq. from the car as I was leaving the office after picking up a pile of manuscripts to say, "I think I just had a contraction."

To those of you who might be thinking, "Wow--that's terrific! Only two hours of labor," let me say only that really it's not so much fun to start pushing in the car. (And mind you, we live pretty darn close to the hospital.) Even less fun is screaming in the hospital atrium, waiting for the elevator.

Sort of fun is watching your husband throw your insurance card at the woman at the check-in desk. Ditto watching nurses and other folks in Crocs run ahead of you down the hallway, frantically grabbing everything you'll need to deliver a baby in a part of the hospital no one ever delivers babies in.

Anyway, it all turned out well. And so far, she's way more mellow than I was expecting, based on the way she was churning around inside for the past few months.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Good lord, is it just me, or have I been pregnant for, like, two years now?

It feels that way, at least, at two days past the due date and counting. Not that two days is a huge thing, either way. But the waiting is killing me--and I suspect it's sort of annoying to everyone around me, too.

Last time, everything was tidy: the due date was a Friday, and I went to work that day, cleaned everything up, sent a flurry of last emails about the kinds of files that are in my left-hand bottom file cabinet drawer as opposed to in the top right, and that kind of stuff, and then went home. Finished up some yard work, cleaned the house, packed the bags. By Sunday, all that was left was to tie-dye the baby T-shirts we had bought. (Note: I don't actually recommend this. Sure, you end up with cute shirts, but you'll need to hand-wash them so they don't run in the washing machine. And let's face it: you're not going to want to do that, so you're going to end up with a pile of once-worn, adorable T-shirts in the bottom of the laundry hamper for, let's see, at least two-and-a-half years.)

So we tie-dyed through the early stages of labor, and when it got to be time to clean up, I just sort of hunched on the floor, and took a shower, and eventually we went to the hospital, and the baby was out just after midnight on Monday. Not so bad, really.

I sent the same emails last Friday, more or less, expressed my utter confidence in my staff, and waved my way out the door with promises to email any news. I'm sure they were relieved to be left alone.

I've been emailing them ever since, and today on my way back from a midwives' appointment, even stopped in to drop off some manuscripts and pick some other stuff up. This, after a "final" lunch yesterday with my boss--who was, of course, in the office today when I stopped by.

Really: how many significant departures can one fat lady make?

And it's not that I'm not doing work from home, but I feel sort of guilty for packing it in early, not working right up to the end. Even though Friday was supposed to be the end.

I know! How totally lame is that, to feel guilty?

But really, without the original W.B. for most of the day (she's either at school or at Nana's every day), and with only some general editing to do, I feel like I'm on vacation. Which is nice, I guess. It just feels sort of indulgent.

Sarah Palin wins again, I guess. (Just as long as she doesn't win on the 4th, I suppose I can live with that...)

As the original W.B. has been saying to my belly lately: Come out, baby! Come out and play with us!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It Gets Worse

I know: you're wondering, How could the purple toenail polish get worse?

What if I tell you my mother-in-law absolutely loves it, because IT'S THE EXACT SAME COLOR SHE JUST PAINTED HER FINGERNAILS?!

WTF, Sarah Palin?

Not to pass judgment unfairly, or anything. But really--and I know I'm hardly the only one asking this question--what in the hell can Sarah Palin be thinking?

Now, I know lots of people have been talking about the three-day maternity leave. That doesn't bug me so much, though I do wonder (not to be graphic) how quickly she managed to walk into the office that first time. Maybe it gets easier by Baby 5, but I remember my shuffle down the hall to the pediatrician (that also happens on Day 3), and it was none too spry.

And--no surprise here--I'm with her on the whole bring-baby-to-work thing. The Times reported today that she has a travel crib in one office and a swing in the other (I wonder, why not both in both? I mean, if you're governor and all. Probably her offices are big enough) and that she took Trig to meetings all summer in a sling and breastfeeds during phone calls. (No word on whether she has a magic nursing poncho...)

To all that, I say, you go, girl!

But still--Vice President? Like, of a whole country? As her baby (let's be generous and ignore the whole Down syndrome part of the story, not to mention the baby her teenager is about to add to the mix) is turning into a toddler?

It may be that most of the job is attending funerals (though I've done that with the W.B., and it's not the easiest thing in the world, though you do get a nice excuse to get up and walk around, which I personally find to be a nice benefit, at a funeral). Still.

It pains me to admit this, but I'm not even trying anything so ambitious--I mean, I'm proud of what I do, and all, and I like my job, but let's be honest: the stakes are pretty low at my cute little part-time, nonprofit job--and still it's kicking my ass these last couple of months.

Today, for example, on the way to work I had the bright idea that I would take some manuscripts and get a pedicure. Of course, the first place I thought of, one of those cheapy salons, had a half-hour wait, so I passed, and then thought about how nice a foot run would be, and so stopped at a place near work, where nothing is cheap, and actually made an appointment for an hour later. That's right--I played hooky to get a foot rub. That I worked the whole way through the experience mostly took away the guilt, but not as much as you would hope. (And let's not even talk about the economics of what I earned versus what I spent for that hour...)

And, I am completely embarrassed to report, I now have purple toenails. Well, not purple, exactly, but a nice lilac, not too bright or too dark or too grape-y, as I was assured by the nice woman who did the pedicure.

Why purple?

Because I panicked--there were too many choices, and red seemed too bright, and I hate pink, and I never, ever know what color to pick, and the woman told me it was one of the new colors and really pretty. And of the four weird colors I picked to try, it was the nicest.

But mostly, I ended up with purple because I'm insane: wracked with guilt over my formerly easy-going and totally mellow toddler, who, having figured out that now I abandon her for large parts of every day, clings to me, bawling, whenever I drop her off, and wakes in the night crying; fat and clumsy and uncomfortable and tired of being kicked in the ribs and sick to goddamn death of having to pee every five minutes; stressed out about the insane amount of (low-stakes, but still) work I need to get done in the next five weeks (please, please don't come early, baby!) ...

It sounded like such a good idea. Purple--why not?

Maybe that's what Sarah Palin is thinking. Vice President--why not? Life's pretty crazy anyway.

But you know what? The purple isn't actually looking so fun, now that the foot rub is over...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Number of Days of Preschool Before the Snot Began to Flow


Coincidentally, the same number of colds the kid has had so far in her entire life.

Yep. Gotta love socialization.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And did I cry,

driving away from dropping the former Working Baby off at her first day of preschool?

Well, duh: of course I did.

And then I drove to work, parked, got out, walked down the street, stood in line at the coffee place, walked further down the street, climbed the stairs to the office ... all without stopping to look at dogs, walk on walls, use my knees to corral a squirming toddler against the milk/sugar station at the coffee shop while adding copious amounts of both to my coffee, check out the toy amusement parks in the window of the card shop, wait at the bottom of the stairs for while the Babe climbed "by! my! self!," looking back after each step to make sure I wasn't in violation of her "you stay at the bottom, mummy" edict.

Boring, yes. But I could get used to boring, I think.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen...

the baby has left the building!

That's right: at the ripe old age of 2 years, 3 months and 1 week, with a backhand wave and a "Bye-bye office, see you later!" the Working Baby has graduated to bigger and better things, leaving behind her baskets of beads and books and puzzles and bucket of pens and highlighters (such a great toy, until she learned how to open them and write all over herself and other things...) for the fun, fun world of preschool/daycare, where there's all that and more.

Like a real sliding board, not one made from a tipped-over folding chair.

I'll spare you the details about how finding her a place in a preschool/daycare occupied the better part of my spring and summer--no doubt someone out there has a whole blog devoted to that whole insanity. Let us all simply direct a few mean thoughts in the direction of the Waldorf School and acknowledge what I should have realized in the first place about it, namely that there's no such thing as "charming disorganization."

Anyway, many frantic phone calls and a few crying fits later, we finally got a spot. True, not at the Waldorf School, where "speaking beautifully" is a priority, but somewhere perfectly adequate. She'll go three days a week for 10 - 2 preschool followed by 2 - 5 daycare--all for the low, low price of just under $7 grand for the year. Or, expressed according to the Office Mom's personal economic system, a little less than half of all the money I'll make if I work for every single one of those hours. Before taxes.

Yay, Dad, Esq., for making enough money to make all this possible. Boo, hiss, Dad. Esq., for catapulting us into the highest tax bracket, which means that I'm working three days a week now basically to cover the cost of the coffee I'll buy on the way in to the office. God, how depressing is that?

Oh right: I forgot! And this whole setup lets me keep working at my job, which mostly I really do love. Not to mention that although the Baby Formerly Known as the Working Baby is a lot of fun to hang out with, I would have long ago killed her if we were spending all day every day together alone. True, we have not yet gone to see the dinosaurs at the museum, and that would probably be fun. But every day? Even once a week? Can you imagine? Or am I just sadly lacking in imagination, that I can't figure out what I would do to keep us both amused without work to fall back on?

Anyway, Day 4 of the week goes to Nana, who costs nothing. (At least, not in dollars.)

And Day 5--well, that's a good question. For now, the plan is to, um, go see the dinosaurs and other fun stuff like that--a last flurry of mother-daughter bonding in the 6 weeks (!!!) before Working Baby 2.0 makes her entrance.

Because as nice as it was to go to work alone today, truth to tell, the walk from the car was a little dull. Not to get all codependent with my toddler--because that's icky--but it does feel a little like I'm losing my best friend.

(I know: Poor, poor me.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Today's Fortune

This came with the Working Baby's lo mein at lunch:

"Nothing motivates a man more than to see his boss put in an honest day's work."

I wonder: Does crawling around picking up stray lo mein noodles and fetching cups of water count as an honest day's work?

Back to work, everyone!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"I am so shocked at how well this is working,"

says a woman who works as a wine steward in a grocery store in Portland, Ore., and brings her baby to work with her.

(Sigh; Wine, says the fat lady, wistfully. I remember wine, and martinis.)

Read the whole story, by Noelle Crombie of The Oregonian, here:

Working Baby v. 2.0

It's another girl!

She's not scheduled for delivery until October, but gosh I feel like I've been pregnant for, like, ever. And she moves around way more than I remember #1 ever doing, so I suppose there's the very real possibility that this one will turn out to be a demon child, which could change everything. (Oh yes, I'm planning on bringing her to work, but it's also true not every baby is suited for office life. Though if she turns out to be a not-Working Baby, I don't have the first clue what I'll do with her ...)

But Dad Esq. and I were babysitting for his cousin's three-month-old last weekend, and I started to think how nice it will be, actually, to have a baby around again, and how much easier it was to bring a baby to work than a toddler. We had the baby for not even six hours total, and he took two naps in that time. And the rest of the time he looked around and gurgled and chewed on a blanket.

And to think, the first time around I thought there was some challenge in juggling all that with work.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We're ba-ack...but not for long! I hope.

So, at last, we come to the question everyone's been asking: how long is too long to take a baby to work?

Answer: about two weeks past a child's second birthday.

Which is, unfortunately, almost two months ago now. And yet, the fat lady and the toddler in question are still shlepping into work every day.

Isn't that always what happens? You try to hang on to a good thing for just a little too long, and then suddenly it's not such a good thing anymore.

Why is it not such a good thing anymore? Let me count the ways:

First, there's the talking. A few days before the W. B.'s second birthday, Dad, Esq. and I decided it would be fun to make a list of all the words she knew. We came up with a couple hundred, give or take, and were pretty impressed. And a little relieved, because the kid had seemed to be sort of taking her time, to the extent that at least one person had annoyed us by asking if we--being pretty wordy people--didn't worry a little that she was so un-verbal.

Well, ha! Because a week or so later, the girl was speaking in paragraphs--long, unlikely combinations of words we didn't even know she knew, with subjects and verbs and adjectives and strings of prepositional phrases.

I know, I know: this is completely typical child development. But until you've lived through it, it's hard to believe. And seriously mind-blowing, and (most of the time) funny as hell.

And really, really demanding. I think this must be the point where full-time mothers (ok, I don't even know what I mean by that--all mothers are full-time mothers. We'll table that discussion for another time) start to go a little nuts. Sure, the relative silence and unresponsiveness of a baby gives you that isolated, here-I-am-talking-to-myself-again feeling, but life with a two-year old is a constant, low-level, just-loud-enough-to-drown-out-your-own-thoughts-but-not-loud-enough-to-actually-be-intellectually-satisfying conversation. Uh-huh, that's a dog, yes he's walking down the street, yes, we're following him, yes, that's the cookie place, no we won't stop there today, yes, we have food for when we get to work, no we don't have any applesauce today, but yes we have a banana, uh-huh dad is at his work, can you run to our work? no, mum can't carry you, because she's carrying her bag full of papers and her laptop and your food and her coffee and a baby in her belly, remember?

Don't get me wrong: this is not an entirely unpleasant haze to get lost in. Though it's true, as many have observed, that it leaves you a little short on conversation starters at grown-up events. (On the bright side, the toddler gives you an excuse not to go to grown-up events as much, so I guess it all works out, right?)

So there's a certain ... distraction factor. Not that it's not possible to ignore a lot of the babble, because it is. I hear the word "poop" and I run, but other than that, it's possible to drown out the chatter, give or take, and to feel relatively ok about doing that for three or four hours a day. I think (though I'm sort of afraid to ask) everyone else in the office is developing the same skill, and perhaps after this, we can all go to work at the U.N. or in a strip mine, or a call center, or Iraq, or somewhere else where there's constant background noise to tune out.

But it's not just the sounds--it's that there's so much more intent behind them. "I have a good idea," the Babe will announce, marching up to someone's desk. "We will eat your food now" or "We should play Kennywood now" (admittedly, playing Kennywood--which involves Tall Coworker swinging her up to the ceiling and swooping around in circles and flying into the other room--is pretty fun) or "We should send a fax now, and talk to robots." (Because, of course, if you push enough buttons on the fax machine, eventually a robot answers. She's Wall-E's friend, naturally.)

And then there's the physical ability to back up the intent. A month ago, one of the Working Baby's favorite pastimes was filling a bucket with pens and markers, then dumping it out and filling it again. Kept her occupied, and if anyone needed a fancy, colored writing utensil, well, they knew where to find it. But then she learned how to pull the caps off. So now her favorite pastime is drawing on her hands, and feet, and legs, and bits of scrap paper, and bits of non-scrap paper, and, yes, even the walls. (A tip: wet-erase markers do wet-erase from painted walls, and without much effort. So that's good.)

And, more generally, "Mummy, stop working now, and play" is a tough one.

So the question is, what do I do now? Because as far as I'm aware, there's not a doorstep where I can just drop her off on a Monday morning in the middle of July. (The plan has always been to send her to part-time preschool in September, so it's really just the timing. I did know this wouldn't work forever. Duh.)

And, btw, if anyone out there has tips for how I can convince Dad, Esq., that this isn't just my problem, please do send them along! The obvious thing would be dropping the little darling off on the Firm's doorstep on Monday morning. Would that be satisfying? Well, yes, but probably only for a few minutes...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

'Scuse My Absence . . .

. . . I'm gestating. That's right: get ready for twice the fun!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled queasiness and wow-am-I-tired. . . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Babies at Work in Arizona

A recent article in the Arizona Daily Star profiles the Arizona Department of Health Services, which has a bring-baby-to-work policy. (Read the whole story here.) Included are interviews with moms and dads who have taken advantage of the program, as well as one mom for whom the arrangement didn't work. Here's an excerpt:

Don Herrington, bureau chief of epidemiology disease control, acknowledges that he was skeptical early on.

"My initial thought was that infants at work would require lots of attention from Mom and Dad, and it would be disastrous from a productivity perspective. Then I thought, with crying and other noises babies make, that it could be disruptive for the rest of the staff."

Herrington kept his concerns to himself, though, and closely watched what happened when the first mom came through. He found that workers were happier after seeing the baby. Morale went up. The staffers interacted more.

Plus, he said, the presence of a baby helped to reaffirm all the things his department preaches about health, from immunizations to hand-washing. "It brings home why we do the things we do," he said.

Now Herrington is one of the program's biggest boosters, saying he has yet to receive a complaint.

"It was 180 degrees just opposite of what I expected."

More interesting than the article, though, were some of the responses readers posted online. Like Herrington, it seems, many people leap to conclusions without ever having actually encountered a baby in an office, which makes much of the discussion a typical online exercise in vitriolic responses to hypothetical situations.

There is some balance, including at least one reader who admits to having worked with two babies, one of which worked out well, and the other of which didn't, and concludes that it depends on the baby and the mom and the coworkers and the workplace. Well, um, yeah.

But the thing that always strikes me in discussions like this is the utter fanaticism people bring to their work--or at least to talking about their work. I like to think I'm pretty hard-core (or, at least pretty hard-core for working part-time at a nonprofit): I check my work email pretty compulsively, sometimes embarrassingly so, I think about work in the shower and the car and sometimes even in my sleep. Heck, I went back three weeks after having a damn baby, because I missed it and knew there was work that wasn't getting done while I was gone. And I've always sort of been that way; at my very first summer job, tending a turnstile at a zoo, it was weeks before I really learned how to lighten up and take all the break time I was entitled to, not to mention the whole half hour for lunch. I figured, it only took five minutes to eat my sandwich, why not get back to work? Which, in retrospect, was idiotic, and I did figure that out eventually, though I never got really good at playing the system.

But some of these folks are, I think, robots. For example, the person who writes, "People go to work to make a living and give their utmost to their employer ... not to attend a nursery function."

I'm with her on the "to make a living" part, and I would maybe add "to contribute to something larger than themselves" and "to feel a sense of purpose," but I think the idea of going to work for the purpose of giving your "utmost to your employer" is a little wacko. I mean, assuming you're a good worker, you probably do it anyway, but is it really why you go to work?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Office Mom's New Guilty Little Secret

OK, deep breath. True confession time.

I've been letting the Working Baby watch DVDs at work when nobody else is in the office.

It gets worse: she does this in another room from where my desk is, because that's the only computer at our little nineteenth-century nonprofit that actually plays DVDs. So it's not even interactive television-watching, the kind that, I read somewhere once, actually gets a semi-free pass. Alas, I put the disk in, hit play, and flee.

I know, it's awful.

And I totally got busted, too; the kid's no dummy (yet--wait til she's brain-dead from watching tv), and now gravitates to that computer more than ever, pointing at it while she yells "Big Bird" and lolls her head back and forth in a dance move she apparently picked up from Stevie Wonder.

"No, no Big Bird," I told her yesterday, wandering out there to pick up papers from the printer.

"That's what that means," said Administrative Assistant (for whom, sadly, I won't come up with a nifty nickname before she leaves, having quit). "I knew that wasn't a game we play."

Nope. Because rotting brains out is a privilege reserved for mom.

I exaggerate, of course. I don't actually think it's the worst thing in the world for the Working Baby to watch a bit of the Jungle Book or Sesame Street in the early evening when the office is empty and I'm trying to finish up some work. I mean, we do (gasp) watch some television at home, and I'm sure if I were a stay-at-home mom we would watch even more than we do--and we don't even have cable. (Because there are, it turns out, a lot of hours in the day to fill. And television, unlike museums and most errands, is free.) But the pbs morning lineup includes Sesame Street, which is actually pretty fun for everyone to watch. And, as Dad, Esq., points out, we both watched television growing up, and we're doing reasonably ok in life. (By the way, we recently bought the "Old School" Sesame Street DVDs, and if we're ok having watched those--I swear, the first episode has a segment about prepositions that shows kids playing hide-and-seek in what appears to be a junkyard, not to mention the naked Ernie drying off from his bath with Bert's help and the creepy framing story in which Gordon invites a little girl up to his apartment for milk and cookies--well, then, kids today should be fine, if over-Elmo'd.)

Do I wish the Working Baby knew more names of real people, like the people she sees every day in the office, and fewer of Sesame Street characters? Well, yes, of course. But mostly, I guess, I'm just glad she's not into Barney or the Teletubbies.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Working Baby Starts Earning Her Keep

Sure, we've had random moments of helpfulness--she will sometimes take things to the garbage, or fetch her hat or scarf, or carry something to someone, or pick up the pens and paperclips she spilled on the floor (and yes, thank you, I know that paper clips do not make the best toys for a baby, but it's also true that they'll keep a baby busy for a long, long time, and that's the name of this game, most days)--but this week I feel we made real progress.

In a flurry of unpacking and packing to get ready for a conference, we ended up with bags full of styrofoam peanuts and broken-down boxes and other stuff that was taking up too much space in the office. So, on my way out one afternoon, I grabbed a couple of the bags, which were piled up near the door, and turned--with great pride--to see that the Working Baby was tugging down one of her own, which she refused to let go of (because let's face it, she's coming up on two, and head-shaking is her new hobby). So she carried it down the door and down the hallway and tried to carry it down the stairs. And then she hauled that bag down the street, held high, around the corner and almost all the way to the dumpster.

So, my question is, how long until I can make the case that we should be paying her? Or maybe I should start keeping a volunteer log for her? Clearly, the way college admissions is going, by the time she's seventeen it can only help to prove she's been volunteering productively since she was a year and a half old. . . .

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Working Babies in Time Magazine!

The January 3 Time Magazine had a story about bringing babies to work, with quotes from Carla Moquin, who has just founded a Parenting in the Workplace Institute. I've been emailing with Carla, and she's compiling a database of companies that have had babies: the list is up to 70, but she's always looking for more!

The article's best quote was from a baby-friendly business owner who said, "I don't think a baby is more distracting than talk about Dancing with the Stars or your weekend."


How (and How Not) to Babyproof a Bookcase

This is for all you do-it-yourself types out there who are working in the kinds of offices where you build your own furniture. (My desk, as you can see, is basically a big board balanced on some filing cabinets. But hey, at least it's real wood and not particleboard...)

But I digress. Today's topic is how to protect your books once the baby starts becoming mobile. And since the end goal of my work is basically to sell books, you'll understand why this was such a big concern for me. Because sure enough, once the Working Baby started inching herself across the floor and off the blanket I used to put down behind my chair, the first place she headed was to the big bookcase full of our merch, and when she got there she would reach out her tiny little hand and tug at a book until it was on the floor with her. And then she would want to gum the edges. But no one, even the biggest baby-lover in the world, wants to buy a book that's been drooled on. So it was pretty clear I needed to do something, and there simply wasn't enough shelf space in the office to just remove everything from the lower shelves (though it's true I've also sort of done that, with some of the shelves).

Now, there are some excellent babyproofing products out there--for example, the kit for covering up the front of your hard drive so the toddler doesn't try to load crackers into the CD tray--but nothing for bookcases. So, one time while my dad was in town, the Office Mom headed to Lowe's to try to cobble something together.

The requirements were, basically, that the solution had to be reasonably attractive and stymie a baby without keeping adults out of the shelves. I planned to babyproof the big bookcase with all the books we sell, and the bottom section of another bookcase that held some not crucially important stuff, but stuff that needed not to get drooled on. You know: office stuff.

Originally I had been thinking along the lines of a wood frame with fabric over it that could be somehow attached to the frame of the bookcase. My dad was thinking velcro attached to some screen. And the more he talked up the wonders of heavy-duty velcro (my dad occasionally works on location for television and movies, and so while not a furniture builder by any means, he knows some tricks for making things look ok on the surface, at least for long enough to get the shot), the more I was sold. Plus, it was less work.

So here's what I did, one afternoon after the regular work day, while the baby was napping:
  • cut screen to fit the bottom three feet of the shelf, with the top and bottom edges falling at actual shelves.
  • cut velcro to go on the sides of the bookcase (it should be noted here that heavy-duty velcro is pretty darn sticky, and you may need to take extreme action to get the velcro backing off, down the road. If you happen to work in the kind of office where that would matter. Which I, lucky girl, sort of don't. Not that I advocate gratuitously trashing office furniture, or anything.)
  • attached the screen to the other side of the velcro
What was unexpectedly difficult about this:
  • cutting the velcro. Your standard rinky-dink office scissors just ... well, you get it.
How the system was supposed to work:
  • you unvelcro one of the sides to gain access to the books
What really happened:
  • Despite the super-stickiness of the velcro backing, the screen didn't stick to it. Not enough heft, maybe, or just not enough surface area. In retrospect, this makes sense.
  • Because the screen wasn't really stuck, the velcro--that is to say, the ripping--didn't really work.
  • Instead, when you went to open the bookcase, you were basically unsticking the screen from the backing on the velcro,
  • which, over time, predictably enough, stopped being sticky.
How I tried to fix this:
  • lamely, taking shortcuts
  • in other words, by adding, first, some black electrical tape and, when that didn't really stick, yet more velcro to the other side of the screen
  • and when that stopped working, with a push pin.
  • also, by adding some tiny little bits of velcro to the shelves on the top and bottom of the screen, with electrical tape to back them
What it looked like:

Meanwhile, as the screen was slowly drooping away from the velcro, the baby was growing and getting more clever at wiggling her arm behind the screen to pull out books. She was by now old enough not to eat them--she mostly wanted to empty the shelf and make piles of books, a developmentally but not otherwise appropriate behavior.

The other shelf I had covered was worse, since--having sort of run out of screen--I had covered only one shelf. Here's what it looked like:

Yeah: horrible. So, a couple of weeks ago I sucked it up and started over. Well, at least I bought supplies for starting over; what I ended up doing was ripping all the velcro off the screen and re-velcroing it all, but on both sides. I even made a handy extension on the side we tend to open, to facilitate the ripping. And, where the dorky little pieces of tape had been, I folded velcro over the edges and on to itself. (These, alas, are showing some signs of not staying stuck, so I may need to revisit this part of the plan.)

Pictures coming soon.

In general, I would say you might not bother with this at home, unless you have a lot of bookcases and you just can't keep the baby away from the books. We found, actually, that the Working Baby was reliably terrified by a rainstick--like a primal reaction, or something--and so we propped that by the shelves for a while until she lost interest. Also, I don't neglect her at home to the same extent I do at work. . . . Now that I think of it, all you folks who work from home with babies around might want to up the babyproofing. Because, of course, the whole point of babyproofing is so you don't have to watch the baby so closely, right?