Knowing Matthew and me and the sorts of people with whom we consort, Alden suggested we make a video outlining the basics of health and hygiene. For those of you willing to sit through an immaculate step-by-step detailing of how you ought to put on deodorant, brush your teeth, do your laundry, and weigh in, watch and learn:
For those of you not willing to sit through it, here it is in condensed form:
1. Lick your deodorant before putting it on.
2. Apply deodorant to both sides of your belly.
3. Make sure to throw all toothbrushes onto the floor before putting them in your mouth.
4. Don’t actually put any toothpaste on your toothbrush. It’s overrated.
5. Just push some buttons on the washer. It gives the appearance of doing laundry without actually having to do laundry.
6. Weigh in. But do a little step-on-step-off first, to trick the scale into thinking you’re 5 pounds lighter than you actually are.
7. Say good-bye to your father. Though it appears that he is filming videos from the toilet, your mother hopes this is not true.
8. Assure your mother it is not true.
Last week, Alden and I headed to Kansas City, I to immerse myself in basketball and Alden to spend some time with her grandparents.
Robbi and Kato drove us to the airport and we said our farewells.
Robbi gave Alden a small red suitcase for her birthday.
But Alden didn’t seem to understand what it was for.
From the window of the plane, Alden enjoyed pointing out the trees, cars, and “duckies,” down below. The kid must have better eyesight than her dad.
Safely arrived in Kansas City, we went to visit Grandpa John at work. It was employee appreciation week, so Alden got a balloon.
Did she feel appreciated? I cannot say. But moments after this photo was taken, she learned some hard lessons about helium and how it defies conventional expectations about the role of gravity when one lets go of a balloon string in a parking lot. Teachable moments, I say.
After work, Grandpa John took Alden for a walk.
And Grandma Judy made some incredible cupcakes. First she sculpted tiny ladybugs out of marzipan.
A closer look.
Then she used a special frosting attachment to place green grass atop each cupcake.
The cupcakes were so beautiful, I took about 40 pictures of them. But you probably only need to see two.
Or maybe three.
Or surely no more than four.
With Alden’s second birthday party in the books, Dad and I drove east to St. Louis for the Midwest Regional of the Men’s NCAA basketball tournament.
This was the view from our seats.
We got there early, and had a look around. The games were being played in the Edward Jones Dome, an enormous stadium that is the home field of the St. Louis Rams (that’s a NFL football team for those of you not in the know). Anyway, a football field is a lot bigger than a basketball court, so instead of using the entire dome, they just use one end of it, and put up a bunch of bleachers in what would be the middle of the football field.
Here’s a movie that shows what it looks like when you try to play basketball inside a football stadium.
We saw two exciting games on Saturday. First we saw upstart University of Northern Iowa (Jayhawk-slayers) fight a good battle with Michigan State before ultimately coming up short. Then we watched a scrappy Tennessee team edged the favored Ohio State.
The next day we decided to balance basketball with culture, and started our tour of St. Louis by walking the beautiful campus of Washington University, with its flowering pink trees.
Millions of pieces of tiny tile grace almost every surface of the place.
There was also some rather nice stained glass.
We walked around the trendy bars and galleries part of St. Louis and, though we were tempted, did not use Hortense Place as a through street.
We stopped in a trendy furniture store and I almost bought these stacking red plastic bins for Robbi.
Until I was informed that they cost $3,400.
Humbled by the high-end grandiosity of St. Louis, I admired, but did not contemplate purchasing these wonderful glass sculptures.
Thoroughly cultured, we returned to the Dome on Sunday to watch yet another game, in which Michigan State edged Tennessee to advance to the Final Four.
Alden and I are now back in Chestertown, our attention firmly directed toward this coming Saturday evening, when our Duke Blue Devils will take on the Mountaineers of West Virginia for a spot in the national championship game. I love Duke, but never expected them to get to the Final Four. For the first time in a number of years, my fierce loyalty has been rewarded by a chance to do fairly well in my bracket.
Those of you still watching the standings in the Idiots’Books Bracket Challenge will note that Robbi is still on top. But notice also how my sister, mother, and I (all devoted Duke fans) have suddenly pulled in just behind her. If Duke wins Saturday night, Robbi’s reign will come to a crashing end. Alden, who doesn’t understand how the standings work, still thinks she’s in second place, behind only Uncle Roji, and certain that she will find a way to beat him in the end.
The girl is all heart. Pancakes everywhere beware.
Alden and I are back in Chestertown in the wake of a most enjoyable Midwestern tour. I’ll do a proper post on our adventures once I have cleared a looming tower of accumulated obligations, but for now I’ll share a photo of Alden’s favorite moment from the past week.
My favorite moment involved Duke surviving a tough, long, athletic, spirited Baylor squad and returning to the Final Four. But I wasn’t sitting by a large fish when it happened, and thus can’t compete with Alden’s photo-op.
I have two cats. They lie around and loaf. They eat and excrete. They are wholly ungratifying animals. And yet, if Robbi is to be considered an expert on the topic, cats do have have limited use when it comes to getting us out of jams. I bring you this week’s auction, titled Rescue.
When all else fails, call on a cat, but don’t expect them to be gracious about it afterward. Their service is self-motivated. It is we who fill their bowl, we who empty the litter, we who tolerate their endless indifference and perpetual airborne dander.
Cats suffer us because we suffer them. It is the perfect marriage.
Okay. This post will bore some people to tears. Read on!
I was just made aware of a new function in Photoshop CS5 that will
1. blow the minds of anyone who has ever used Photoshop, and
2. be completely unimpressive to people who have never used Photoshop.
The reason is this: this function does something with the click of a button that used to take hours and HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS to do. And yet is something that people who don’t use Photoshop ask for all the time, and say, “Well, can’t you just click a button and it’ll just do that?”
At the risk of teaching clients that fixing an image can now just take minutes, I’m still going to post this video for those of you who use Photoshop, just so I can say that I totally blew your minds. Prepare yourselves:
For those of you who are unimpressed, how’s about this?
Since Matthew has left us alone here while he’s off galavanting and watching basketball, we’ve felt unprotected, endangered, and incapable of fending for ourselves. Kato has lain helplessly on his back, waiting for Matthew’s return. “I have no role models,” he wails, “I no longer know how to behave, how to navigate this treacherous path towards manhood!” Seeing this sorry state of affairs, my maternal instincts kicked in.
“Pick up a hammer, son,” I said, “look like you’re doing some work!”
I have to say, with maternal pride, that he is a natural. Which was made even more evident when he drank too much …
… and then fell asleep on the job.
No need to come home, Matthew. Kato’s got this whole Man-of-the-House thing totally under control.
It was my firm expectation that while Alden and I were gone in Kansas City, Robbi and Kato would sit around pining, weeping, and being generally miserable. How then am I to feel when I receive photos like the one below, taken mere moments ago and sent to me in an email, which seem to imply an opposite reaction?
Consider me officially miffed. And bewildered. How could Kato be so seemingly happy with his father so very far away? This must be a trick, something done with mirrors. Or Photoshop. I can’t think of any other explanation.
We just received our advance copy for the Makers Tile game. I must say, I think it looks pretty awesome.
Its compatriots are somewhere in the South Seas, chugging slowly along through the azure waves of shipping lanes towards America the beautiful. We are very much looking forward to their arrival. Subscribers, you will receive your copies when they arrive. If I can bear to break up the happy family.
It is the first day of the second “weekend” of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. We turn our sights to the four games to be contested this evening and to the standings in the Idiots’Books bracket challenge, of which Robbi is the current champion.
Not only does Robbi lead our little pool, but she excelling on the national level as well, ranking in the top 99.7 percent of the 4+ million who filled out brackets on ESPN, besting even president Obama, who stands at a respectable 92.9.
Look at her. If you think she’s smiling because she’s the mother of a healthy baby boy, you’re wrong. What you mistake for satisfaction is smugness, unfiltered and high-octane. She has been impossible to live with this week. Just like every other week.
But (and here’s the other shoe to drop) like so many other foolish prognosticators, Robbi chose the Jayhawks of Kansas to win the tournament, when any sensible analyst could have predicted they would bow out in the second round to the University of Northern Iowa.
Her success moving forward will depend on the other favorites, Kentucky and Syracuse (and, dare I say, Duke?) bowing out soon. But for now, Robbi having her fifteen minutes while I suffer indignantly at 74.6, Kato wallows at 55.4, and Alden smarts with indignity at .1 percent, with no prospects for further points, given that all her teams have been eliminated.
Tomorrow, Dad and I will head to St. Louis to watch the games associated with the Midwest Regional bracket: Tennessee v Ohio State and Michigan State v the previously mentioned, unstoppable, and strapping Panthers of Northern Iowa.
More madness will soon ensue. Stay tuned for updates on the standings.
Alden is two today. It seems impossible. But the calendar does not lie.
Today, our family rose early and drove to Washington, where Robbi and Kato wished Alden and me well for our trip to Kansas City, where my dad and I will be watching a lot of basketball over the next four days.
Last night we gathered with Bob and Seiko and our good friends Donald and Ann to celebrate Alden’s arrival at the tender age of terrible.
There were presents, of course, including one from Iris.
Inside was a beautifully constructed, tastefully imagined pillow/friend thing, with which Alden formed an instant bond.
And then there was a gift from Donald and Ann, who are easily three times more thoughtful and generous than Alden’s own parents. The hulking gift was cloaked in a light blue sheet. Alden was stunned by the sheer mass of it, but Donald and Tanker offered moral support.
Beneath the shroud was a magnificent Radio Flyer with retractable handle, fold-up bucket seats, safety belts, and four cup holders.
Things have changed since my childhood days.
A great ruckus ensued, Alden demanding rides around the kitchen island at breakneck speed. There was great merriment and enthusiasm. The whole affair was emotionally draining, and poor Kato resorted to his only party trick.
The rest of us ate cake, and sang and wished the birthday girl well.
She made a wish, but would not tell us what it was.
For all we know, she may have wished to have a piece of it. If so, she was soon satisfied.
At first she was demure and ladylike.
But moments later, taking a cue form her mother’s playbook, she picked up her pineapple upside down cake like a slice of watermelon, eating the gooey, sugary, buttery topping and leaving the cake itself in undignified glory on her plate.
Kato awoke as the festivities were dying down, unaware of their import, feeling a vague sense that he was something less than the center of attention, and in sore need of consolation.
I was happy to do what I could to make him feel better.
One party down, several more to go. Here in Kansas City, Alden is the soon-to-be recipient of another pile of gifts, another gooey cake, another round of song and celebration. More on that to come. For now, Happy Birthday, Alden. May you somehow avoid the proverbial wretchedness that is forecast in the year to come.