August turned 18 months old last week, and in accordance with the parental prerogative to subject our children to countless pains and humiliations as they progress through life’s milestones, Robbi took him to the doctor for a checkup.
He tried to drown his sorrows in the comforts of Mickey while sitting in the waiting room, but the dread was undeniable. He knew what was coming.
And so, when taken to the exam room, he did his best to hide. The room was cold and white and sterile with no available nooks.
Except for one. He saw his opportunity and took it.
But, being entirely unpracticed in the ways of deception, he forgot one critical detail.
Betrayed by his own legs, August was discovered.
Upon request, he emerged from his sanctuary, resigned to his fate and ready to face the proverbial music.
As it turns out, it wasn’t so bad. Dr. Ramirez is a rather nice fellow, in fact.
August while still rather small (welcome to the family) is a sturdy, robust boy with lackluster camouflage skills.
As those of you with small kids already know, the nurse always asks a bunch of questions at these checkups, meant to provide developmental benchmarks. It has been interesting to see how we answer these questions differently for August than we did for the other two. Kato, for example, was already conversing in sentences at 18 months. August still can’t keep his “Mama” and “Papa” straight. He clearly understands a lot of what’s going on, but can’t yet join the conversation (or else doesn’t feel like it). I asked Robbi to write down some of the questions from the checkup.
Does he have more than seven words?
Can he turn pages without tearing them?
Maybe he can, but he certainly wont.
Can he point to body parts?
That would be a no.
Does he climb?
Can he help with simple tasks?
He removes all the markers from the drawer and uses them to decorate his legs. But this isn’t helpful.
Can he dress himself?
He is remarkably adept at removing his diapers.
Is he potty trained?
Strangely enough, he uses the potty more than Kato does. He seems to love it. Perhaps all of his language development brain cells are being focused into potty precocity.
Does he walk well?
It’s more of a waddle.
Does he run well?
It’s more of a hyper waddle.
Does he play with other kids?
He loves to play withe Alden’s hair. Eliciting screams. It’s a great game.
Does he respond to his name?
By hyper waddling in the opposite direction.
Can he sit through reading a book?
He knows the first three pages of most of our books.
Can he eat with a spoon?
He thinks so.
Can he jump in place?
The waddler is earthbound, except when he falls off of things. But I’m pretty sure a true jump requires willingness.
We have once again been honored by the good folks at Chronicle Books, this time in the form of a blog post by our wonderful, amazing, fantastic, smart, funny, and drop-dead sexy editor Bridget Watson Payne.
As you will see when (if?) you read the post, Robbi wrote a nice comment saying nice things about Bridget to which Bridget replied with a nice comment saying nice things about Robbi—while taking a moment to note that a mutual admiration society seemed to be in danger of forming. Actually, Bridget’s words were more artful than my own. She refers to the “ouroboros of our mutual admiration,” a phrase which forced me to the dictionary where I learned that “ouroboros” is that foolish snake that eats his own tail (along the way symbolizing self-reflexivity or cyclicality).
In any case, Robbi “interpreted” the ouroboros of our love of Bridget (and Bridget’s own, rather inexplicable love of us) with the following drawing, which I am tempted to have printed on a t-shirt.
In all seriousness, working with Bridget (and all the folks at Chronicle) has been such a pleasure. At every step, she took something we loved and made it better, contributing ideas, perspective, and encouragement when each was needed.
Ugh, there I go sniffing butts again.
I guess our experience has been so good that I’ve gotten used to the smell.
Another week of runs, another set of photos to share.
Monday (at the intersection of Water and High)
Tuesday (in Kingstown, just shy of the Chester River Bridge)
Wednesday (on High Street, just south of South Queen)
Thursday (On Truslow Farm Road)
Friday (on River Road)
Saturday (on Truslow Farm Road)
Sunday (near the drawbridge on the Chester River Bridge)
I run the same route every day, and every day I notice something that simply wasn’t there the day before.
It was a good week. A hot week. A week for filling up the pool and getting our splash on.
A week for distracting Robbi. First with wholesome good cheer.
And then with harder-to-resist antics.
It’s as if they have been professionally trained to quash all attempts at productivity.
It was a week of dramatic weather. Here is the view at 9:30am last Thursday morning.
It rained like the End Times for about fifteen minutes. And then it cleared up until 5:00, when it rained like the second coming of the End Times for fifteen more minutes.
Alden was unaffected by the weather. She spent the week cultivating her patented blend of style…
Today was Father’s Day. I posted some scans of my cards from Robbi and the kids over on the Bobbledy Blog.
After breakfast, we took a ride across town.
Our destination: The Finishing Touch, where they have samples of every kind of frame in the world. Or so it seems.
Our mission: to get a frame for my favorite new drawing/painting from Robbi.
Please don’t ask me what it means. I love it because of how I feel when I look at it. Those perpendicular lines, those many shades of blue, those wonky lines, those inky blobs. It’s a picture of what it looks like inside of me. And somehow, Robbi knew how to get it down on paper.
We did other things this week, of course. And we’ll tell you more stories in days to come. But it’s funny how often the very best moments always seem rather ordinary.
Earlier in the week, Kato got a fantastic little wooden wind-up propellor plane, thanks to 1) a potty-related deal we made and 2) our friends at our favorite store in Chestertown, Twigs and Teacups. He was very excited to try out the plane, but after a few very unsuccessful indoor launches, it became evident that we needed some more space.
And so we called up Bob, grabbed the wagon, and headed down the street to the park. Alden insisted on pulling the wagon. Bob didn’t complain.
When we got to the park, Kato couldn’t quite figure out how the propeller worked. Bob did a demonstration.
Kato watched closely. It didn’t seem too hard. But the flight didn’t end up going so well.
Perhaps you can’t see what it is the kids are pointing at.
It’s Kato’s plane. Though Bob wound the rubber band up very well, the first flight launched up over his head, did a huge loop-de-loop, and got stuck way up in the top of that tree. I had to climb up on the picnic table and throw Bob’s shoe at it (he was the one who got it stuck in the tree, after all) to get it down.
We all decided that Alden really ought to do the next demonstration.
She was focused and careful. Kato, once again, paid close attention.
Even August, young as he is, took his first crack at flight school.
Alden’s flight was slightly more successful, though not as long. More of a commuter flight. From her hand to a local airport just 5 feet away.
All of this flying and crashing frankly revealed the sub-par standards of this flight school. August spotted some real flight specialists across the park.
After briefly considering whether it was worth transferring (and seeing Kato’s first flight go careening into his sister’s collarbone), August headed off with the experts.
Kato, deciding that he was getting too much interference from other “pilots” and “instructors,” found an empty spot to do some practice runs.
He discovered it’s just much easier (and gratifying) to fly a plane when you actually stick with it.
In the meantime, we tracked August down at his new flight school.
“What are you doing?” we asked, “what happened to flying?”
“The ducks said to start here,” he said. “Apparently, you’ve got to swim before you can fly.”
Well, alright. The ducks are the experts, after all.
Most of the auction items of late have been of the Bobbledy mold. Cute animals or endearing scenes of cheerful happenings that one might hang on a nursery wall. This week we have something a bit more dignified, a bit more mysterious, a bit more…Robbi. She is not by nature a purveyor of sweetness. When you dig below the smiling exterior, she is a seething pit of coal black vipers, each of which is nursing a host of unnerving questions on the nature of man and being. Now that her hair has been shorn, there is even less insulating between the contents of her head and the unsuspecting world outside.
The other day Robbi sat down and started to draw. And draw and draw and draw. By the time she was done, she had created 30 or so new pen and ink compositions, some of which were cute and fuzzy, but plenty of which were not. I was particularly drawn to this profile of a solitary elephant, and asked her to paint him for me.
I am in love with this drawing and am considering bidding to own him for myself. Robbi insists that this would defeat the purpose, but I insist that occasionally the purpose has to be defeated.
Here he is up close. Notice his noble golden tusks.
And here on the painting table, fresh from the final stroke of the brush.
If you care to challenge me for the right to hang him on your wall, bidding is happening over on Ebay. the auction closes at 12:30pm this coming Sunday.
It’s that time again. My hair has gotten too long and too out of control.
I actually hate having long hair. My hair is super thick, and it takes forever to dry when it’s long. For example, I took this photo last night, and had showered first thing in the morning – my hair was still damp.
But I often hear, “Oh, if only I had hair like yours!” so I feel a little ungrateful. So, I’ve tried to make a point of growing out my hair to donate it (the laziest form of charity work I could come up with) – which means I can’t cut it until I have at least twelve inches.
So, last night, I put my hair up in pigtails…
… and sized them up:
It looked like my hair passed the test.
And so I contacted my hairdresser (she’s very accommodating, given my last-minute appointment tendencies):
She dove right in with aplomb:
My hair is so thick that even a seasoned hairdresser like her had trouble cutting through my gordian knots. She decided that it was necessary to just take a little at a time.
She was focused and determined:
while, I must admit, I was distracted by the paparazzi:
After what seemed like an excessive amount of hacking, the first ponytail was finally freed:
The hairdresser was triumphant:
… and slightly crazed:
… but recognized there was more work to be done. Exhausted by the heavy lifting required for the first ponytail, she called in her brawny assistant, who dispatched the second ponytail in mere seconds.
Apparently, he considered this is greatest physical challenge to date, and did a lot of grandstanding.
I can’t say that it wasn’t justified.
With the ponytails out of the way, it was time to get down to the real artistry. My hairdresser honed in on her work with the utmost concentration:
My head already felt five pounds lighter.
Unfortunately, my hairdresser suddenly lost interest, after discovering some bananas on the counter. I was forced to ask the burly assistant for help, a concession he clearly delighted in:
Frankly, his work was sub-par, so I had to finish the job myself.
My hairdresser suddenly re-appeared on the scene, demanding I supplement my new ‘do with some expensive salon-supplied hair tchotchkes:
I stood my ground and declined to buy any. The whole point of this new hairstyle was that it was going to be low maintenance. NO RAINBOWS FOR ME! Plus, salons are notorious for their outrageous markups.
My two ponytails were now free to be sent away, to inhabit a more grateful and needy head.
I once sent my hair to Locks of Love, but there’s been some controversy over the fact that they sell a good amount of their hair to wig manufacturers rather than using it to make wigs for people who need them. The last thing I want is for my hair to be caught dead on Nicki Minaj’s primped pate. So, I donate to Wigs for Kids, which is a much smaller and less well-known program. Hopefully my hair goes to a kid who really wants it.
So Alden packed up my hair in a ziploc bag:
and we filled out the donation form and put it in the envelope:
and my hair is ready to go!
Off to a new life – exciting. And now I get to embark on my new life too – a new life of more frequent showers (seriously, I hate taking a shower with long hair because it takes so long to wash it) and a low-maintenance head.
And oh, how this pleases me.
Last week was mostly wasted on me trying to file things away and deal with our overdue taxes (see here for some good misery). Though my desk is still a disaster:
I am happy to report that at least the flat table is clear:
(That’s actually a lie. I had to clear off a small stack of papers before taking that photo – evidence on the stool to the right of the flat table).
Almost all of the things that were causing me anxiety were finally taken care of, and I’m generally feeling a lot better, in spite of the fact that I got almost nothing else done last week. I did finally tear down our yearly calendar from last year…
…after being told that it was bad chi to have it hanging there, reminding us of all the things that we didn’t do.
Begone, bad chi!
The baddest chi about it was that the calendar was titled “2012: A Year of Productivity,” and we bought it thinking it would help us be more organized with the onset of Bobbledy. Notice just how long it took for us to fall of the bandwagon:
Also notice the 11 months of neglect following our fall:
Well, at least we’re done with THAT. Though, I’d like to point out that we did, indeed, have quite a year of productivity. It’s just that we didn’t keep track of it and had no idea what was coming down the pike until the night before it was due and we were in a full-on panic. Next year I’m getting a calendar called “2014: A Year of Effortless Serenity.” I’m sure we’ll be over that by the end of January too.
Last week Bobbledy renewals began to trickle in. We realized that a good number of the subscriptions were gift subscriptions, and that we really ought to inform the giftees #1: that they had been re-upped, and #2: from whom. After hand-writing a few notes saying as much, it quickly became evident that this was not the way to go. So, we designed a simple postcard with an image from “The Imaginary Dragon” on the front and a fill-in-the-blank note on the back. I did a bunch of different versions, but the basic idea was this:
I sent off the design to our favorite low-budget but decent quality and fast turnaround online printer psprint.com (they are perpetually running a “sale” on postcards of 50%-60% off). And in 5 short days, we received our new baby, swaddled in brown paper:
As always, they weren’t perfect. The “writeable” uncoated back surface was still a little too slick for my favorite kind of pen (uniball vision elite 05mm, if you must know) so I had to do some experimenting to come up with the right kind of pen (warning: profanity):
What can I say? A week of taxes will put me in a mood.
I also ruined a drawing that I liked very much by trying to be too artsy when I painted it.
It was a bunch of power line/oil derricky-type things, and they looked SO much better in black and white. It was going to be an auction item, but now it’s headed for the bottom of the recycling bin (though Matthew tends to dig those and and put them in a file of failures, which he’ll surely whip out someday to taunt me with).
One good thing that happened is that I managed to fix a mysterious website problem. I will not bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I owe myself about $300. Come to think of it, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.
In family news, I sent Matthew to the store to get some vegetables for a stir fry, and got a series of photos like this one, with accompanying text that said, “What about this?”
Alden and Kato spent a rainy afternoon making kites:
Kato was not satisfied:
Though he had taped a pencil in the bottom to act as a tail/handle, it kept wobbling around. It turns out, the solution was just more tape.
LOTS more tape.
Also: we ate strawberry shortcake for dinner.
And Alden, when forced to be separated from Kato for nap time, built herself a comfortable nest and promptly fell asleep.
If only we had known about this sooner.
Also: it rained like crazy.
This happened on First Friday, which is the day in Chestertown when stuff is actually going on – art openings, stores open late, people out and about. Our desire to be sociable was somewhat hampered by the rain, but the kids INSISTED that we go out.
There is a grating next the bank where Miss Lizzie works, below which water has collected in a mucky pool. A couple years ago, Miss Lizzie told us that there is a frog that lives down there, and so we check on it every time we walk by.
Legend has it, the bank employees once tried to free the frog, but it returned a few days later and has been down there ever since. Over the winter, the frog was not in evidence, much to the dismay of the kids. But the warm and dreary downpour must have brought him out to do some moisturizing. The kids demanded we take a picture to send to Baba. Apparently, they are under the impression that she cares for this frog.
We stopped in the Massoni Gallery to check out the latest Marc Castelli exhibition, which the kids discovered was the ideal spot for an impromptu game of peek-a-boo.
I bet Marc had no idea how fun his show was.
And then we swung by Doug the Baker’s to have a listen to the Pam Ortiz band.
And so, this week of not getting much done actually turns out to be a week quite full of things. I suppose being productive and being busy are two different things, but they don’t really need to be.
Another week has come and gone, and somehow, miraculously, I managed to run on all but one of the mornings. I can hardly recognize myself these days, nor can I truly dissect my motivations.
But whatever force is driving me, I am glad to have the photos that I took on this week’s runs.
Monday (from the Chester River Bridge; those of you who know the bridge will know that this sign’s suggestion is often ignored).
Tuesday (on River Road)
Wednesday (High Street)
Thursday (on Maple Avenue, just shy of the bridge)
Thursday (sunrise over the Chester, seen from the bridge)
The view was so lovely, I had to take another.
Friday (near the top of the rise on the little loop off of River Road; I don’t know what it’s called)
Saturday I did not run. My legs were tired.
Sunday (River Road, looking toward the junction with Truslow Farm Road; I had company).
In spite of appearances, I swear he had a good time.
He is the ideal running companion. No conversation. No complaints. He just sits there and takes it all in, enjoying the sights, the sounds, the clicking of the tires, the feel of the world rolling by.
10 points for form
0 points for execution
That is all.