Wednesday, April 30, 2008

They were so quiet again...

The last time the two girls were playing well together very quietly involved a ball point pen and lots of skin as a canvas. This time (no photos) the girls marched out of the bedroom following their undetected quiet time to proudly show off their new form of body art: head-to-toe "painting" of their naked bodies in white cold cream. They were marched straight off to the bath.

97 pieces of the man

Good and evil

Last week, NPR aired a story about an Iraqi girl who needed life-saving surgery, and the drama around trying to make that happen in today's Iraq. My wife and I are frequent listeners of NPR news broadcasts, and on this day it became apparent that we are not the only family listeners. Genevieve had many questions about this story, and in trying to figure it out began asking basic questions about the nature of good and evil, what is good and bad, why do people do bad things, and does it follow that doing bad things make you a bad person.

97 pieces of the man is all they ever found

That is one of the lines from a version the children's song And the Cat Came Back that we were listening to in my effort to expose my children to more music. We were in the car, and following that line Genevieve asked, "Daddy, how did that man get broke?"

I thought for a quick moment and said, "Well, the song doesn't really go into the details of that, does it? Sometimes, when people sing songs or tell stories, they don't tell you all of the details about something like to make it more scary, because then people will use their own imagination to make up how something like that might happen."

Without hesitation, she replied, "Oh, like I think the cat had sharp knives, and then he had a gun, and the cat used them to do that."

She followed that up with an explanation that the man was probably bad, so that is why the cat broke the man. We didn't get so far as to cover the morality of lethal self-defense. We talked about calling the police to take care of people doing bad things. She is really into figuring out what to do about bad actions / people.

Governor of Hawaii

It's not the kids that need to be cut off from NPR news -- daddy needs it. I had a (loooong drawn out) dream that I was filing papers to run for governor of Hawaii against two women. One of them was Hillary Clinton. It did not look like Hawaii, and for some reason I couldn't figure how to get out of it. The dream went on for a long time. It was not a restful night.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Da things dey say

Reesa's words
Dat kangaroo is just like da movie in da mailbox.That kangaroo picture looks just like a kangaroo in one of the cartoon DVD's we get from Netflix.
I wanna go down da ev-a-lator.
I wanna go down the elevator.


Genevieve wrote a birthday card to Jacob. All by herself. Showed it to me after it was completed. It read:


Friday, April 25, 2008

Daddy diary Dec 2003 - Jan 2004

I found a briefly attempted and abandoned early attempt to diary the fatherhood experience, covering the first month and a half following Genevieve's birth. Here it is.

Daddy diary

15 Dec 03

Genevieve was born six days ago, and already Marilee and I are developing a first-time parent routine for accomplishing both familiar and unfamiliar tasks. There is no routine to cuddling or staring at our daughter. Between Marilee and myself, I am the one with limited experience with newborns.

My daughter is healthy, of average weight and length, and to my eyes she is tiny, with unimaginable little fingers. I thought her digits would be pudgier, with the creases poorly defined, and not in proportion to adult hands. I was surprised to see long, delicate fingers with complex knuckle creases attached to a well-formed hand. On the night of her birth I must have told everyone I saw how amazing were her perfectly manicured fingernails, slightly more reddish-purple than her fingers.

For my wife, who delivered Genevieve via normal vaginal birth, there have been daily recovery milestones. Today's celebration was the wearing of footwear other than loosened tennis shoes, as the water retention from the final trimester diureses. Marilee, aware that her body will never be quite the same, nonetheless is ecstatic at the return of some of her "former body."

Last night my wife took the first diaper change, so I had the gift of sleeping five hours in a row. Six days into fatherhood, I am lucky to have a child that usually sleeps when not feeding or getting her diaper changed. This is no worse than final exam week, and in many ways less stressful. We are blessed to have the ability to provide health care, shelter, food and lots of love to our daughter.

16 Dec 03, Tuesday

Notes for dads about breastfeeding wives:

1. Post-partum, day three or four is likely to be the worst. Milk has not come in yet, baby has not figured out how that nipple works, and mom is frazzled because nothing is working. Be prepared to be highly supportive on this day. (This was the most useful advice I received from another dad, given to me a couple of days in advance so that I could remember it!)

2. There are opportunities to be an active partner in the early stages of breastfeeding--it is a four handed job early on, and once latched on, mom may need something but not be willing to risk moving. My new animal totem is the gopher.

3. No cow jokes unless your wife offers them first, and even then at your own risk.

17 Dec 03

Things to try with a cranky infant at 2 a.m.:

Set her on top of a clothes washer or dryer and run a load of clothes. Stay with her to insure safety.

Things to NOT try with a cranky infant at 2 a.m.:

If your child calms favorably while perched atop these vibrating labor saving devices, resist the urge to duct tape her to the appliance for an hour while you get your first hour of sleep for the night. Yes, this thought will occur to you.

Notes for dads about breastfeeding wives, continued:

4. New breastfeeding positions are best tried when mom is well-rested.

26 Dec 2003

I do most of the diaper changing Marilee does all of the breast feeding. That's how we divide some of the tasks here. For a while, I thought it would be cool if men could breast feed, but then I thought about the inconveniences of larger (than men's) breasts that I've heard from so many women over the years and realized I enjoy the happy-go-lucky low maintenance male version of useless breasts.

We don't offer Genevieve a pacifier yet, so as to make sure she gets used to momma's nipple, so to calm her I sometimes offer her my clean pinkie finger. It was quite a surprise first time I did this. Babies have vigorous suction, beyond what I thought such a little body could sustain.

30 Dec 2003

Ooo, not too much sleeping going on here. Genevieve has gas, or other aches, and cries in spurts. Usually, this happens in the evening or overnight.

Footie pajamas are my favorite baby clothing. One simple outfit, no socks to struggle to put on only to pick up off the floor later (unless the dogs see it first-yummy!), and it keeps baby warm. I prefer the kind with the snaps down both legs. If you have one leg that doesn't open, it is sometimes a struggle to get that leg in. Zippers are right out, for partly aesthetic, partly practical reasons. The practical is that zippers lock from the foot up to the chin, but when I change a diaper I want to leave the top half on and unfasten and peel up the bottom half. This way, at least the top of baby stays warm. Also, zippered outfits don't seem to be as well made.

Genevieve went to the pediatrician yesterday, and weighed in at seven pounds, twelve ounces, having gained seven ounces in six days. I enjoyed what may be our last peds visit not involving illness or vaccinations for some time to come.

My parents left town yesterday. It was great to have their company and their assistance. Mom helped to calm Genevieve, did laundry and helped in the kitchen. Dad helped put up family pictures, and fixed and assembled the rocking horse from the Standifer's. It was also great to see Dad after his recent illnesses and pacemaker installation. He looked in good health, was able to go on short walks (less than one mile), and had good energy throughout the day.

6 January 2004, Tuesday

I never really thought very much about the cheerleading aspect of parenthood. I encourage her in burping, hiccoughing, eye contact, passing gas, and anything else see can do. Imagine how I’ll be when she is in sports or music or whatever.

Genevieve has a liking for Frank Sinatra music. When she gets her evening fussies, we crank up Ol’ Blue Eyes and dance the foxtrot, and she calms fairly quickly.

8 January 2004, Thursday

On January 3, Genevieve developed her first tears, noticed while crying during a diaper change (of course). The next day, we noticed that her left eye was goopy, and read that was a function of the duct in the inner corner of the eye that drains away tears not being fully developed. This is normal, and can take up to a year to fully develop.

She occasionally will track my face from side to side, and a little bit up to front. She is awake more hours now than her first week, though I don’t know how many. She occasionally coos to herself, awake and alert, moving her limbs and looking around. She responds to loud sounds, and sleeps well in noisy public places. On her second day, she was already lifting her head 45 degrees for a few seconds while on her belly. She can currently hold her head unsupported, though with not much control. Marilee has noticed her smiling a little bit.

25 Jan 2004, Sunday

Genevieve now repeatedly smiles when she is content and in reaction to positive stimulus from us (such as smiling at her or making funny noises of faces). Rebecca is here with her two 3-year olds, and they are a handful, especially Ellie, who will instigate chasing and shouting at the dogs.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Swim results

Having nothing to do with children, but as a follow-up to the March 19 blog, I note the following:
  1. I (and my wife) correctly picked the winner of the college basketball tournament. Rock Chalk Jayhawk.
  2. I also said in that same blog entry that "I am very hopeful that I will not lose to my wife for the second year in a row." Mission accomplished. I did not lose to my wife for the second year in a row.
  3. Bonus accomplishment -- I did not lose to any chimpanzees this year. My children, as expected, finished somewhere in the middle of the chimp pack.
Just knew you were on pins and needles awaiting those results.

Way. No...

When you have two pre-K's in the house, the conversation can be positively scintillating...

No way Jose.
No way Jose.
Yeah way.
No. No way.
Way way.
Way Joselina.
No way.
Okay, I give up -- says my wife -- no way.
Uhnn uhnn -- says the four-year old -- It's WAY.

And this is the higher purpose that we are called to as parents.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I played with Reesa in a really big sandbox today. Adults call it a volleyball court when the net is up, but it's too early in the season for that. I drew a big letter R in the sand, and she liked that, and asked for it again and again. She erased them with her feet, and after four or five R's I threw in an A.

"That's not an R!"
"What letter is it?"
"I don't know."
"It's an A."

She knew the O, couldn't guess the S, and identified the R when I drew it again. She made a game of erasing all of them with her feet

Later, in bed while I snuggled with both of the girls for a little while at bedtime, she whispered to me all of the names of the children she played with in the sand, and told me about the R's that I drew for her, and softly said, "And you drew an A, but that was the wrong letter."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

They were so quiet...

...playing their room...with a ball point pen...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Last night while I was in the kitchen doing dishes and the kids were in the bathroom getting ready for bed, Genevieve wanted to floss her teeth, and she pulled out some floss and began that task. Reesa, taking the cue from her sister, also decided to floss her teeth, but starting doing that thing that two-year olds do with rolls. She kept pulling and unrolling and after a small pile of a yard or two gathered at her feet, Genevieve took notice. I don't know how it all went down, but the end result was that Genevieve got the box of floss from Reesa and came to tell me all about it.

I heard her coming down the hall, through the playroom and to the kitchen complaining about something, but couldn't really hear her until she got close, and then I had a hard time hearing her because Reesa had never let go of her end of the floss and in fact, now that Genevieve was standing relatively still, was beginning to pull in some more floss, and I found myself saying over and over, "What...what...what are you DOING?"

"Reesa was making a mess of the floss, so I'm bringing it to you."

[Floss image from]

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hula leaf girls

Genevieve let me know that she's got the facts on hula dancing. As we left the house one recent morning, I said that it looked like momma was doing a hula dance to send us off (momma sure does act ecstatically when I take the kids to their preschool). Genevieve informed me that hula was a dance done only when it was hot out, and only girls do it because they have to wear a nice skirt and fancy shoes, and that it is a special dance. I have no idea where she heard about this, and I may as well get used to that--she is or will be entering into that time when she learns more basic facts from sources other than mommy or daddy.

Today was a warm spring weekend day, and I raked the leaves from last fall that were buried under snow before I could get to them. Reesa and Genevieve announced that they were "leaf girls" and the leaf piles were their homes. You could tell that they were leaf girls because they had leaves stuck all over their clothes and they had gone to extra step of rubbing leaves into their hair. Needless to say, we had quite an extensive hair combing session before eating lunch.

Genevieve is demonstrating much more physical strength and ability this spring. She's starting to climb trees (I'm okay with that) and the onto the roof of her play house (not so okay with that one).