Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Eat Your Heart Out, Mick

Let me tell you how things are in our house: When Finney's hurt or sick, it's Mommy he wants. (Then, and when I have lollipops protruding from my purse.) But at most other times it's Papa who's top banana when the choice between parents needs to be made. Trip to the park? Let Papa take me. Time to get out of the bath? Let Papa wrap me in my hippo towel. Wrastlin' on the carpet to be done? Papa's my main man. (Besides, Mom's always got that drooling baby strapped to her and three's a crowd. Sheeesh.)

I'm actually pleased with this hierarchy; it's been said that there's nobody who makes a greater impression in a boy's life than his father, so to have such a gem of a man molding our little guy into another little gentleman couldn't make me happier. And John loves every moment of the devoted attention, even when it means getting up at 2am to help Finney "practice his aim" by sinking Cheerios in the toilet.

The only time this nearly infallible structure (Papa =
king; Mom = she who fetches the juice) is shaken is when my brother, Eddie, rolls into town. For Finn, Ed's seasonal appearances are akin to sightings of a genuine ROCK STAR. He follows his uncle around with the urgent dedication of a groupie scrounging for an autograph! A handshake! A knowing glance! Anything!

Ed's a great sport about indulging Finn in his unremitting demands to play, run, catch, hold, fly, throw, and watch this! He's constantly comparing Finn to Calvin, the little boy from the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes, who's always getting lost in an inner world of adventure and mischief--albeit a tremendously creative and visionary world of adventure and mischief. Ed, a little boy at heart and somewhat reformed Calvin himself, obviously sees a lot of himself in his nephew (who bears more than just a slight resemblance to him).

Nowadays there's a long and mostly boring 14-hour
car trip between our family and Uncle Eddie--and next year it will require an airplane ride across the Pacific Ocean--so we're very grateful that he makes the effort to be part of our lives as often as he does. I can't wait for the day when Shea begins her rock-star worship of her Uncle Eddie; screaming boy band audiences will surely have nothing on her when it's time to justify her love.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Face That Launched A Thousand Pinches

Baby Shea's an inquisitive girl who likes (insists on, really) sitting up and seeing the world as much as circumstances will allow. This means she's almost never content on her belly, rarely content on her back, and only partially content in her buzzy chair--and only as long as it's angled so her immediate view includes some good action to watch (usually, her brother). What she really wants at all times is to be upright and facing the world, preferably from the warm comfort of my lap.

I try to indulge her as often as possible, knowing from recent experience that the days of babies allowing themselves to be held and cuddled are unfortunately numbered and I'd better get my fill now since the opportunity's here. But since I have to live my life, too, which often includes doing things other than sitting with a baby on my lap, I have grown to rely on the convenience of my Baby Bjorn.

For those of you unfamiliar with what this is, no, it's not a juvenile Swedish pop group (although think how cool--and safe!--that would surely be), it's a cloth infant carrier contraption that essentially straps your baby to your body and allows you to keep your hands free for other things, like wiping three-year-old noses.

Shea rides around on me every day in the Baby Bjorn, whether we're grocery shopping, picking up Finn from school, or just walking to the mailbox. She drinks in the world with her big, bright eyes and drools the rest out all over the thankfully washable carrier.
But somewhere in between are the two greatest assets our baby's face has to offer the world, the pinchable mounds that allow her to be identified from 40 paces, the place where a thousand nuts could be stored for the winter: her chubby, ever-lovin' cheeks.

It never fails: whenever baby girl's Bjorn-bound, I hear, "Oh my gosh, look at those cheeks!" They're like beacons of cuteness to all who pass by, pulling the masses ever nearer to get a look if not a squeeze. People, so transfixed by the cheeks, are often actually startled when the bigger person attached to Shea speaks from behind her.

Shea, of course, loves the attention, which further underscores her argument for sitting up at all times: "See, Mom, we would be depriving those around us of my facial greatness if I was forced to be laying down at all times. Better keep me up, for everyone's sake."

Point taken, sweet girl. Point taken.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Unless She's Trying To Say Fabulous

Shea has started making "pre-language" sounds this past week...that is, noises other than crying and cooing. Finney's especially excited because her latest noise, Fffffffffffffffffffff, is her attempt (I told him), to say her big brother's name. Either that or she's imitating the sound my tire was making when it had a nail in it last week.

Happy Fifth Anniversary, John!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Fall’s here. And with it comes the mostly melancholic realization that summer, as a byproduct of the arrival of sweater weather, lunch boxes, and the closing of the snack bars on the beach (and thereby access to some of the best cheeseburgers in town), is indeed over.

So when I write my annual back-to-school treatise in my mind about how I spent my summer vacation, it’s with a nostalgic giggle that I’m able to summarize the entire season by listing only three endeavors:

1. Breastfeeding an infant. Rinse and repeat.
2. Taking a whirlwind, 60-hour road trip to Northern California and back to attend a stunningly beautiful wedding.
3. Sitting in the bathroom with Finn, reflecting on how much fun #2 was while doing #1—and wishing that #3 would get it out, already.

You see, just before Finn’s third birthday in June, he got the hang of potty training and relieved me of the daunting chore of changing diapers on two kids daily. Or so we thought. The truth is, although he is fine with taking care of the other kind of #1 all day long on his own, he’s been locked in a fifth circle of hell when it comes to (insert scatological euphemism here).

The technical term is called withholding, I’ve learned from his pediatrician and parenting magazines, and it's quite common. But in plain mommy terms it translates to lots of quick-step dancing, loud protests, false alarms, more spirited dancing, then sprints to the bathroom and tears when it finally comes time to take out the trash. Not out of pain, mind you, but out of defeat. And despite our numerous attempts to get him past his resistance—encouragement, bribes, mineral oil, more bribes, Benefiber, phone calls from loved ones and superheroes alike—he, nearly three months later and after a few dramatic accidents, still subscribes to the idea that he is all-powerful and can hold it in forever, thank you very much. That, and I’m a meanie for making him go.

Ultimately, it's a control thing at its root. (I have no idea where he gets this from.) And once THE EVENT is over, of course, he’s as happy as a kitten and admits that it’s really no big deal and what a big boy I am and wow do I feel better and can I have a lollipop? Take this scenario and multiply it by once every three or four days since June. I’m not kidding. I've lost count of just how many days this summer we were, sweating and cranky from the summer heat, crammed together in the bathroom, unable to leave the house as we awaited his big moment.

I feel for the guy. It’s tough getting used to new equipment and even tougher still when you’re a living example of Freud’s definition of anal retentive. From my end, though, I am guessing that this is just one of the many trials of parenthood I hear about so often that are sure to come and go through the years--one of those it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon moments.

My mother tells me she potty trained her kids in a matter of days without issue, so there’s no turning to the Fountain of Maternal Wisdom on this one. I just have to continue to be patient and know that—sitting in the folding chair that now serves as stadium seating next to Finney’s potty, breastfeeding an ever-plumper infant—like summer, this too shall pass.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Cousin

We had a great visit this past weekend with John's brother Brian and his son, Reilly. (Grandpa Jack was here, too, so we had a whole lot of family in da house, foh shure.)

It's great to watch Finney and Reilly wreck and giggle their way around the house, speaking in tiny tones that only the other can hear. And since they both have only a sister at home (Reilly has Kendra; Finn has Shea), I'm hoping they get the chance to grow up as brotherly cousins. With only 10 months between them they'll get to tackle life's milestones at the same time. I look forward to watching the bonding unfold.

Friday, September 16, 2005

How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Flu?

When you're feverish with flu, joints aching and bones creaking, there's no substitute for an afternoon on the couch, sipping soup and watching Julie Andrews twirl and jaunt across the Austrian Alps.

Did a world of good for Papa John; he's back on his feet, climbing every mountain today.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Why I Love Coffee

My night last night:

8:30pm: Shea falls asleep. Hooray! Into the crib with you, little one. Sweet dreams, tiny terror.

8:45pm: Finn falls asleep. Right on, they're both down. It's eerily quiet.

9:30pm: John falls asleep. Tells me on his way to bed, "Don't stay up too late." Yeah, right. :)

10:30pm: Heeding John's advice after paying a few bills, wiping down the kitchen table, and doing some final edits on a manuscript, I go to bed.

11:45pm: Shea wakes up.

12:15am: Shea goes back to sleep, after feeding and cuddling.

1:15am: Rumble. Rumble. What's that, an earthquake? Wake to find John, feverish and trembling with the chills--which shakes the ENTIRE bed.

1:45: After an Advil, some water, and a tight blanket tuck, John's back to sleep.

2:30pm: THUD. Find Finn has fallen out of bed and gone right back to sleep on the floor. Cover him with a blanket where he lies.

4:00am: Shea wakes up AGAIN. This time, bright eyed and bushy tailed, she's looking to play.

6:00am: Shea finally falls asleep again, after numerous feeding sessions, a diaper change, eight laps around the bedroom, and an hour of rocking in the rocking chair.

7:00am: John calls in sick to work, takes another Advil, and goes back to sleep.

7:30am: Shea wakes up.

8:30am: Finn wakes up.

9:00am: Karin needs much coffee.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mmmmm, Philippe's!

In our family, part of the tradition of attending a Dodger game involves having lunch at Philippe's beforehand. The supposed "Home of the French Dip Sandwich," Philippe's is a Los Angeles institution that began feeding the masses in 1908. And, almost 100 years later, people still can't get enough of it. It's the kind of place where you eat your food at picnic-style tables, seated atop stools, with any number of strangers right next to you.

With sawdust on the floor, the hottest mustard around available on each table, an old-fashioned candy counter, and a miniature train museum in the back near the bathrooms (it is across the street from Union Station, after all, so many diners head straight in after disembarking), Philippe's serves up some of the tastiest pre-game grub around. Check out some of these satisfied diners . . .

Monday, September 12, 2005

At The Old Ball Game

With her brother and cousin Reilly seated nearby, baby Shea took in her first Dodger game this past weekend--and lasted a whole EIGHT innings! From the comfort of her Papa's lap and dressed in an adorable pink Dodgers pinstriped onesie (with baseball buttons, no less), Shea watched the boys of summer face off on a gorgeous September afternoon at Chavez Ravine. (The Dodgers, by the way, beat the Padres, 3-1, but since we left in the bottom of the eighth--early, like typical Dodgers fans--we had to learn this from the radio on the way home. So it goes.)

With any luck we'll have many more years of baseball to look forward to in our future. Maybe we'll even get to stay for the whole game!

Thursday, September 08, 2005


It's all about the alphabet these days at our house, what with Finn starting preschool and all . . . so our tiny scholar has asked that we begin labeling things so he can see how they are spelled. And what two better specimens to begin this exercise with than Finn and Shea themselves?

C-L-A-S-S-I C.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Off To School

It's official: Finney's now a preschooler!

He, along with about 50 other children--scrubbed and shiny, wearing their sharpest outfits--started school this morning. Before classes began, the playground was covered with moms, dads, and grandparents--cameras and recorders in hand, some with welling eyes--who watched the tiny tikes as they together said a brief prayer and the pledge of allegiance, and even sang "God Bless America" to begin their day.

Too cute.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I Can Do That!

Over the Labor Day holiday weekend, John decided to give our cars desperately needed washings--inside and out. Not to be excluded from any activity his Papa's engaged in, Finn decided to wash his car, too--inside and out.

Notice the diligence and attention to detail--it's another car lover in the making. And his driver's license is only 13 years away!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Monthly Checkup

She's still growing strong! Baby Shea's now 16 pounds--the weight of the average six-month-old--at four months. But she's still holding strong at 25 inches, which means she's growing out, not up, these days.

More baby for the squeezin'.

Loooooove those cheeks!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Daily Photo Fix, Part 2

There's nothing quite like the calm, quiet peace of a warm, slumbering baby on your shoulder.

Sure to cure what ails ya'.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Can It Be So?!?

In less than a week, our tiny babe, our first born, our bundle of joy, will be starting preschool. I sound like every other mother, I realize, when I marvel in the astonishment of just how fast the past three years have gone and how many changes we've witnessed in him since we brought him home--tiny as a kitten, wrapped in countless blankets--from the hospital. But I'll be darned, those other mothers were right: it's a stunning milestone.

And now, alas, our little student will have his own classroom, his own teacher, and his own schedule--around which our life will now revolve. And I couldn't be happier about it all. Finn's certainly ready for some more social interaction and I look forward to spending some quiet, one-on-one time with Shea. But to watch him get ready for school, meet his new teacher, make new friends, and turn into a slightly more independent entity will make a lasting impression on me.

Stay tuned for photos. (Maybe one of them will even capture the gigantic lump in my throat and enormous sense of pride in my heart.)