Sophie: Dad, who makes mandarin oranges?
Me: Mandarin orange trees.
Sophie: Trees make these?
Me: They sure do.
Sophie: Good for trees!
Meet Chippie. He looks cute, doesn’t he?
Don’t be fooled — he’s really a boiling cauldron of rage.
How do I know this? I found out the other day, when Sophie, in a fit of anger, informed me (in a very calm voice, mind you) that “Chippie is going to slap you in the face.”
I used to let Chippie sleep in Sophie’s bed. Now he cools his murderous little chipmunk heels in the toybox, underneath all the heavy toys. Serves him right.
Our boy is now more than nine months old. Where does the time go?
Because so many people have asked me in the weeks since I wrote about Owen as an infant, I will say here, for the record, that I no longer believe my son is trying to kill me. Since making his debut as a cranky, occasionally implacable baby, Owen has become the happiest little guy I’ve ever known. Of course, he has his fussy moments — especially now that he’s growing a mouthful of teeth — but even when he’s crying, it’s easy to make him laugh.
He’s also impossible. Where his sister was a very quiet, thoughtful baby, content to sit and absorb her surroundings in relative silence, Owen is a writhing, babbling whirlwind of activity. A snuggler he ain’t — as soon as you pick him up, he’s trying to make a ladder out of your ribcage (or, if you’re Leah, he’s trying to use your shoulder as a teething ring). He can’t sit still — turn your back on him for a minute, and he’s found his way into a drawer or cabinet, or better yet, pulled the kitchen garbage can down on his head.
(The garbage can in our kitchen has a totally awesome motion-activated automatic lid. Sophie has named it Roga. I’m assuming it’s short for Robot Garbage.)
Anyway, here are some basic facts about our son:
Obert (or Bertie)
O-down and Dirty
Obot (or Brobot)
Garlic bagel chips
Open showers, toilets, cabinets, drawers
As you can see, he’s quite a lot of fun, and it’s only getting better, especially since we’ve agreed that two children is plenty. Now I can look forward to being able to sleep again…in ten years.
Next: Sophie goes to preschool!
The calendar won’t announce the change for awhile yet, but as far as we’re concerned, this is the last weekend of the summer. Leah starts her annual back-to-school pilgrimage this coming week, with meetings ‘n’ such most days, and she meets her new students next week.
Oh, and speaking of school? Our little Sophie Bean (who is no longer so little) will be joining the pre-K crowd at the Orchard School after Labor Day. Yes, we’re about to become First-Day Dropoff Parents, and I’m sure it’s going to be terribly traumatic, even if (or maybe especially if) Sophie bolts from the car as soon as we pull into the Orchard driveway without so much as a look back over her shoulder.
But more on that later. For now, we’re enjoying the last fading rays of our family summer. I haven’t taken any vacation, but heck, I work from home — so even on days like today, when I’m hunched over the laptop trying to meet a deadline before 7:00 AM, I’m still here with everyone instead of toiling under rows of fluorescent lights.
We’ve had some guests, and gone on some adventures, and enjoyed our new “no work Saturdays” tradition. Yesterday, with our nephew Ethan and Leah’s sister Bethany here, we took a trip out to Stonewall Farm and enjoyed what was, weather-wise, basically a perfect day.
No, not just weather-wise. Just perfect. Late in the afternoon, I put down the magazine I was reading, roused myself out of my chair, and walked up the hill to get the mail. On the way back down, I spotted Sophie waiting for me on the deck; when she saw me, she walked out to the edge with her arms outstretched, gave me a giant squeeze, and shouted “I love you!”
The world, to borrow a phrase from Bob Schneider, continues to explode into love all around me.
Later: an update on our son the laughing maniac!
No, it was not supposed to be over a month before I wrote in here again. What can I say? The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak. Or maybe it’s the other way around. All I know is, after I spend the daylight hours writing about movie stars and new music, I find that the synapses in my brain aren’t good for much besides watching TV.
Also, I recently took a trip across the country with Sophie. That picture up there? That’s her, reading a story (it’s actually a coloring book, but whatever) with her Grandpa Jim. My little girl and I flew to California to help my sister celebrate her graduation from college, and it was absolutely wonderful — especially the part where I got to spend a weekend with my family, including the unexpected addition of my brother Rich and his fiancee Veronica.
Absolutely wonderful. But. Flying with kids will take a lot out of you, and by “a lot,” I mean “what feels like five years of your expected lifespan.” Our friends Rahul and Sarah are very nonchalant about taking their daughter Tatiana to all sorts of exotic destinations whenever the mood suits them, and Rahul is forever expressing surprise at my reluctance to travel with Sophie and/or Owen. This is just one reason why I hate Rahul.
Sophie, it turns out, dislikes planes. She’s a lot like me in this respect, with the subtle difference that I don’t freeze in place and start screaming bloody murder as soon as I step into the aisle, ignoring my sweating, red-faced father, who is standing behind me, holding my carseat and buckling under the weight of two duffel bags slung over his shoulders like a pack mule, pleading with me desperately to just move already.
(Also, I have never peed in my seat on a plane, but based on some things I’ve recently read, I’m relatively certain that my daughter has plenty of grown-up company in the whole “unplanned relieving of one’s self while flying” department.)
Anyway, in case you were wondering, it is possible to survive three hours in O’Hare with an unhappy little girl, two bags, and a carseat. It is also possible to remove 99% of the vomit that comes spewing out of said girl and into your mother’s car with less than one box of wipes. Finally, provided you have a portable DVD player and some well-timed nachos, it is also possible to get that girl through a college graduation ceremony.
What you may not survive, however, is the week it takes to rid the girl of the supervirus she picks up somewhere between California and your home. Whoooooooooooo. She’s back to normal now, but let me tell you, Sophie does not like to be sick, and she will do everything in your power to make you understand how deeply displeased she is.
Really, though, Sophie did a tremendous job on the trip. Sitting on an airplane for six hours is difficult for me; I can’t imagine how crappy it must have been for her. And then with the disruption in her routine, and the barfing, and all the moving around — well, she was a real trooper.
And what about our boy?
This little guy has a terrific personality. He’s always laughing and smiling and babbling happily. There are a lot of times when Sophie, in the midst of some terrible-twos tantrum, will cross into Owen’s line of sight and his face will light up. He just loves people, and he’s particularly fascinated with his sister. She, of course, wants little to do with him. I keep telling him it’ll stay this way for probably the next 16 years, but I don’t think he understands me yet.
In terms of developmental milestones for Owen, I don’t think there’s anything to report here, other than that he’s branching out into non-breast-derived foodstuffs for the first time, and they have affected his diaper output accordingly. No crawling for him yet. I’m pretty sure that when he does turn mobile on us, no one will hear from me for quite awhile.
There are still a few patches of snow on the ground, but spring is definitely here. And the best part of spring, too — we haven’t had much rain lately, so the ground is dry, and the tiny winged demons they call blackflies haven’t arrived yet. We get a few golden days to shake off our cabin fever and enjoy the great outdoors, so that’s what we did this weekend — we went to the park in Keene.
Going to the park probably sounds kind of ridiculous, given where we live, but hey, it was an adventure — and besides, the park is next to Starbucks, so it only made sense to stop in and get some iced coffee for our stroll. Highs in the mid-70s, clear blue skies…it was a perfect day.
Later, we headed over to the Stoddard school so Sophie could experience the playground. Historically, she’s never been a very physical girl — she’s always been more likely to hang back and watch things rather than climbing on them — but she’s coming into her own.
I recently read A.J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically — a Christmas gift from my parents — and aside from frequently laughing out loud and learning a bunch, I was inspired to swear off work one day a week. I used to work a half day on Saturday and pretty much the whole day Sunday, but for the last two weeks, I’ve practiced my own version of Shabbat on Saturday — the computers go off Friday night and don’t go back on until Sunday morning. I look forward to an entire summer of Saturday adventures.
What? Quit looking at me that way. You think I don’t know how long it’s been? Believe me, I know. Don’t you judge me.
So anyway, yes, I’d planned on posting like sixteen updates between this one and the last one, but obviously, it totally didn’t work out that way. Part of the problem: I was working a lot, on account of Leah being on extended (read: unpaid) maternity leave, and seeing as how “work” for me means “lots of writing,” I have generally tended to find myself without additional words after punching out at the end of the day.
But that’s just an excuse, and excuses aren’t for daddies, even daddies whose fingers are numb from typing and who might find it a little easier to capture parenthood’s neverending succession of precious frigging moments if maybe, once in awhile, the children would go to bed at night and actually stay asleep.
But I digress. Spring is in the air and it’s out with the old, in with the new! I have resolved to work less, play more, and do a better job of making sure we have a written record of all the pint-sized cuteness happening here on a regular basis. Witness the exchange that took place last night, as I was saying goodnight to Sophie:
Sophie: I’m going to sleep all night tonight.
Me: You are?
Sophie: Yes. Will you be happy?
Me: Oh, honey. I’m always happy. I have a perfect girl and a perfect boy, and your mom is perfect too. And look where we live! What is there not to be happy about?
Sophie: Would you be happy if I punched you in the eye?
I swear this conversation happened exactly as I have written it. My verbal little girl is going to be quite the terror in school — she can identify all the letters of the alphabet, knows her left from her right, and is prone to mangling adult speech with wonderful phrases like “the fact of the matter all” (as in: “Sophie, I don’t want you to play with that.” “The fact of the matter all, Mom, I’m going to do it anyway”).
As for our little man, well, he could sleep better than he does, but he’s very easy to put in the crib, and is, overall, the mellowest, happiest, giggliest baby I think I’ve ever seen. Sophie was always very serious and quiet:
Whereas her little brother is always smiling and laughing/screeching like a parakeet:
This dynamic, needless to say, will be fun to watch develop.
Oh, and speaking of child relations, we’ve been very fortunate; Sophie is always very gentle and sweet with Owen. We had a few weeks where we were worried about her behavior, but her outbursts were always directed at adults — and they seem to have been cured by the tried-and-true Calendar Sticker System. Not only that, she seems to be weaning herself off diapers — due in no small part to the arrival of a bunch of Ariel the Little Mermaid undies, courtesy of her Mimi Cheri, which cannot be worn until Sophie’s had a solid week of dry diapers. (We are, as of this moment, midway through Day 2.)
So there you have it: Everything I can remember from the last four months. The next update will have to come faster…right?
Here’s our blog timeline for 2007:
February: We find out Leah’s pregnant.
March-July: We hold off on posting about it here, first because we’re waiting out the three-month superstition, then because we’re lazy.
August-September: The company that had been hosting Screaming Little Person — along with every other site under the Grab Bag Design umbrella — went belly up without notice, leaving all our data stranded on inaccessible servers.
October: Through the valiant efforts of Rahul, all the old SLP posts are rescued.
October 20: Sophie turns two.
November: At 9 P.M. on November 21, Sophie’s little brother is born. Owen James weighs 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and measures 20 1/2″ inches.
Here he is!
So now it’s December 8th. Why am I just posting about it now, you might be asking, to which I grumpily reply that you must not have kids of your own.
I laugh at people who say they miss having a baby in the house. You want a baby in the house? You can have this one. I feel like I should warn you, though, that I’m pretty sure he’s trying to kill us. It started out as just kind of a hunch, but the older he gets, the more certain I am. Once he’s a little more ambulatory, I fully expect to wake up in the middle of the night and find him standing over me, ready to plunge a butter knife into my ear, like Gage from Pet Sematary. I haven’t started a college fund for him yet, because I’m afraid he’ll find out and push me in front of a bus to get it.
Leah thinks he’s cute. This is an example of how differently people deal with sleep deprivation.
Sophie, for her part, has dealt with our new arrival wonderfully. Aside from one morning when she announced to everyone in the kitchen that “that thing in the swing” was “bothering” her, she’s had very few moments of the kind of post-sibling freakouts we were bracing ourselves for. She’s always kissing him, or announcing that she loves him, or sleeping through the night. Oh God, how I love it when she sleeps through the night.
Leah’s mom has been with us since about a week before Owen was born, and I cannot possibly overstate how many times she’s saved our collective ass. She’s going home today. I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s my intention to make Saturday my Screaming Little Person posting day from here on out — our time to talk about what our little Persons have been up to. I’m working on a pair of videos — one for Sophie’s second birthday, one for Owen’s arrival — but it’s slow going. Maybe next week, if I can broker some sort of truce with my son. Wish me luck.
Breakfast: English muffins with butter; fried eggs; granola and yogurt; frozen blueberries (A.K.A. “bloobs”)
Lunch: Bagel chips and hummus; tuna and bread; homemade meatballs; veggie “chicken” nuggets with ketchup; green beans, olives, or carrots; goldfish crackers; fig newtons
Dinner: All of the above, in any acceptable combination, plus whatever we’re having, if she’ll eat it
Dessert (occasional): Mom’s “secret cookies” (I’m not sure who taught her that); Lucky Charms (marshmallows first, cat food-looking pieces if forced); ice cream; chocolate (word pronounced with great care — one of her first sentences was “Choc-o-late? Like some? Have a bite?”)
1. “Rubber Duckie,” Ernie
2. “Again and Again,” The Bird and The Bee
3. “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” The Police
4. Anything with a beat
1. Karma Wilson’s Bear series, including Bear Snores On, Bear Wants More, Bear Stays Up, and Bear’s New Friend
2. Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece and the Big O
3. Goodnight Moon
4. Dr. Seuss’ Many-Colored Days
5. Guess Who’s Coming, Jesse Bear?
6. Pretty much anything by Eric Carle
Exclamations Likely Learned From Mother:
1. “Oh my Lord in heaven”
2. “My goodness”
3. “I’m so excited, I can’t believe it” / “I can’t believe it” (also “I can’t believe it either”)
4. “What in the world is going on?”
5. “Dear God”
6. “Oh my God” / “My God” / “Oh my gosh”
Exclamations Likely Learned From Father:
2. “Damn squirrel”
3. “What the hell was that?” (heard for the first time in the car, as in: “Heard a loud noise. What the hell was that?”)
4. “Dammit” (also pronounced with great care [and joy])
Favorite Adult Behaviors to Model:
1. Pick up phone, hold to ear, say “Hello, mother”
2. Bang (or stand) on children’s Vtech laptop, mutter to self as if working: “Okay…we go back here…cut it…paste it…okay…”
Consistently Identified Colors:
Consistently Identified Letters:
1. S (”is for Sophie!”)
2. M (”is for Mom!”)
3. D (”is for Dad!”)
Favorite Television Shows:
1. Jack’s Big Music Show
3. The Backyardigans
4. Sesame Street (distant fourth)
Least Favorite Things:
3. Car rides
4. Uninterrupted conversations between mother and father
5. Peace and quiet
1. Running around outside
2. Emptying laundry baskets
3. Picnics/parties attended by various stuffed animals
4. Being read to
5. “Up” from Mom (if Mom is unavailable, Dad will do)
Traits Likely Inherited From Mother:
1. Says “please” and “thank you”
2. Loves “big, big squeezes” and “smooches”
Traits Likely Inherited From Father:
1. Erupts in ear-splitting tantrums, periodically for no apparent reason
2. Poops a lot
3. Curly hair
Activity As I Type This:
1. Knocking on office door, saying “Knock, knock, who’s there? Is it Cyril?”