In the months leading up to August’s arrival, we prepared Alden as well as we could for what was coming. She internalized the fact that the baby was somehow inside of her mother (I still haven’t quite internalized that part) and that when the baby came, she would “help take care of it.” The thing she was most excited about, almost from the start, was the prospect of feeding the baby with a bottle. When she visited him in the hospital on the day he was born, she demanded to have a go at feeding him. When we explained that he wasn’t quite ready for a bottle, she was obviously disappointed.
Yesterday, however, we decided to see if the time had come.
I took the first pass. It is a special moment, feeding your kid for the first time. August took to the bottle right away.
Alden watched closely to make sure I was doing it right.
Apparently I wasn’t. She demanded the baby, that she might show me the proper approach.
I must admit her technique was sound. And you’re probably wondering: how did she feel about feeding the baby after months of pent-up anticipation?
The smile says it all, I think.
As for Kato, who has for the most part scorned and otherwise ignored his little brother, the feeding represented an opening to strut his stuff.
And did he enjoy himself? I think he did.
In fact, I know it.
Mealtime concluded with a kiss. Kato didn’t stick around for this part (girl stuff), but Alden made sure that August knew how much she had enjoyed their first feeding.
I’m so glad they’ll have these pictures to look at together some day.
Now that we are liberated by the bottle, I’m sending Robbi off to the movies tonight. I believe it is Mission Impossible on the slate. Which might be a good way to describe the prospect of getting the little man through 2+ hours without his mother. We’ll see. I’m no Tom Cruise, but I do have Alden to assist.
For a glimpse into the thinking and process behind our creation of Build Your Own President, have a look at this recent article from our excellent local paper, The Chestertown Spy.
Writer Simon Kelley spent a few hours visiting our studio (and sitting around our dining room table) asking trenchant, provocative questions. We did our best to provide answers that lived up to them.
Thank you, Simon. Thank you,Spy. And thanks to everyone who has made our December 2011 such a good one.
When I met my friend Christian way back in the fall of 1993, neither of us had any idea how entwined our lives would become. We were in two plays together freshman year. Sophomore year, we were roommates. We lived together again senior year. In the summer of 1998, we just happened to run into one another in the Van Gogh room of the British Muesum in London, even though neither one of us had any idea that the other was in England at the time. In 2004, Christian attended my wedding and, on the night before Robbi and I were married, met Robbi’s good friend Emily and promptly fell in love. A few years later, they moved to Baltimore (Robbi and I lived in Baltimore at the time), and not long after, they got married. Within a year, Robbi and I had Alden. Six weeks later, Christian and Emily had Iris. Two years later, we had Kato and fully expected Christian and Emily to follow suit. Alas, it did not happen. The cycle of parallelisms was broken.
Until last week.
A mere 11 days after August’s arrival, Christian and Emily restored the balance of the universe by welcoming not one but two baby boys, who just happen to be identical twins.
Here they are, Milo Victor Vainieri and Emmett George Vainieri. They came home from the hospital on Christmas day.
As Christian and I were recapping our excitement over the recent proliferation of babies in our lives, we were struck by the sobering realization that when his family and mine get together in the future, there will now be ten people present (enough to field two horrible basketball teams). It seems impossible, thinking back to those simple sophomore days, that we have so liberally expanded our domains.
All for the better, I say. Here’s to you, Christian and Emily, Milo and Emmett. Here’s to good times ahead.
Every year, Robbi and I take a Christmas photo. Not to use as a Christmas card, but just to have an official yearly check in. This goes back to our very first Christmas together, when we camped on the beach on Cumberland Island back in 2000. (We weren’t quite established enough as an entity to spend Christmas together in 1999.)
As the family has grown, so has the number of subjects. With each new personality added to the mix, the difficulty of securing unanimous cooperation compounds. And so, I bring you this year’s Christmas picture.
Robbi, Alden, and I were feeling the holiday spirit. Kato was not. August was, as is often the case, fast asleep.
We considered the photo, wondering if it was worthy of being the year’s iconic shot. But, ultimately we decided that it was important that we all be on the same page, mood wise. Applying the old maxim of, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” we tried again.
But our plans were foiled once more. As the rest of us grew dour, Alden’s smile intensified. Christmas was just too good for for frowns, even artificial ones.
Nevertheless, this is the shot for the scrapbook, our memory of Christmas 2011. In spite of the frowns, it was a very good one.
We got up this morning with great expectations. Surely Santa had brought us wonderful things.
One glance below the tree and we knew that something was amiss.
A closer look confirmed our suspicions.
Instead of a pony and a shotgun, we were “blessed” with 18+ years of headache and responsibility.
Alden saw things differently.
Apparently, she was pleased by our bounty.
We brought the thing to the table. It behaved itself passably well during breakfast.
After pancakes, we turned to the presents in earnest. Auntie Maiko is visiting from Vancouver.
My favorite present of all (which was not a present to me), was this clever glasses/straw combo, a gift from Grandpa John and Grandma Judy to Alden.
Who knew drinking milk could be so fun?
Alden, initially skeptical, eventually agreed to a sip.
Alden’s favorite present: a bag full of colorful fish from Sarah.
Thank you Sarah.
My favorite present: the bag of mini sun buns hand delivered by Michael the Baker this morning. They were still warm, which is to say, they were perfect. I would show you a photo, but alas, they are gone.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Here’s hoping your living rooms are cozy and your fridges are full of egg nog.
I think it only fair to warn you that this post will be excruciatingly dull. It will consist of five photos, all of the same baby in roughly the same position doing roughly the same thing, which is to say, nothing. The post will contain neither narrative arc nor satisfying resolution. It is merely a platform for sharing a handful of unmemorable photos that nonetheless fill my heart with a kind of knee-buckling warmth.
Now that you have been warned, I will continue with the visual monotony.
August is two weeks old today. He still sleeps most of the time, but he has a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening when he is shockingly alert.
The kid likes to lounge.
We took him to the doctor on Thursday and learned that he is growing at a satisfying clip. At 12 days of age he had not only regained his birth weight, but exceeded it by six ounces. Which is to say, failure to thrive is probably not in his future. We might just have a big boy on our hands.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
For now, all I know is that it’s is Christmas eve, and all of us are here together enjoying the glow of the tree. Robbi is making cookies. Alden is eying the presents with all the restraint she can muster.
It’s our first Christmas Eve as a family of five. Here’s to many more to come.
I have done an awful thing, and I won’t feel good again until I clear my conscience.
Typically, we get a lot of orders in the days leading up to Christmas. This year is no exception. Just now, for example, we got an order. The order called for gift wrap. We’re out of gift wrap. We are heading to Baltimore first thing in the morning and won’t have time to buy gift wrap before we go. And yet, the gift wrapped book must be dropped in the mail on the way out of town. All the stores are closed. All reasonable options had been exhausted.
And so we had to resort to desperate measures. The only gift wrap in the house was in the box of gifts we received from Grandpa John and Grandma Judy, who thoughtfully purchased and wrapped nice things they thought we would enjoy. We sized up the box of gifts and saw one that seemed plenty big enough to provide the paper we needed.
I carefully peeled the label off, cringing when I saw that it was Alden’s Christmas Eve gift from her grandpa and grandma.
The label came off without leaving a trace.
Next, I had to unwrap the thing. Luckily, it was that metallic paper that is less prone to tear when unwrapped.
Clearly the fates were smiling down on us.
Once the paper was removed, the harvest began.
We had more than enough to gift wrap our book. But not quite enough to re-wrap Alden’s present.
I don’t feel good about what I did, but I did what I had to.
Sometimes people ask how we manage to keep our heads on straight with our various child rearing and book making responsibilities. The truth is, our lives are littered with patchwork moments like this one.
What Alden doesn’t know can’t hurt her, right? There’s plenty of time to buy paper and re-wrap her present before Saturday. This is what I tell myself as I go to sleep tonight.
And here’s hoping Grandpa John and Grandma Judy aren’t reading the blog today.
Those of you in the DC environs still looking for last-minute Christmas presents might consider stopping by Politics & Prose, one of the world’s finest independent bookstores.
In addition to the tens of thousands of thoughtfully selected and beautifully displayed books on this and that, you may now walk up to the register with a copy of Build Your Own President: 2012.
That’s right. The excitement surrounding August’s arrival has been utterly eclipsed by the fact that Politics & Prose has seen fit to carry our latest title.
Though I must admit, the little guy is getting cuter by the day.
Or maybe that’s just my daddy goggles talking.
We have been rattling on for weeks about our latest book without really giving it a proper presentation.
Here’s the background: About two years ago, on a run, I thought it would be fun to make a mix-and-match book lampooning the various contenders in the 2012 presidential race. About six weeks ago, I remembered the idea, and we scrambled to get it done in time for our reading at Bookplate the Friday before last.
The result was Build Your Own President, 2012
The idea is simple. I wrote satirical stump speeches for ten candidates (Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Romney, Palin, Santorum, Paul, Clinton, and Obama), and Robbi did satirical portraits of the same. I wrote and she illustrated such that components of the writing and images would be interchangeable. The reader is charged with flipping the panels in search of the perfect candidate.
For example, when we combine:
Mitt Romney, the Olympic-Sized, Snore-Inducing, Platform Panderer
With Newt Gingrich, the Whip-Wielding, Marriage Mangling, Neo-Narcissist
With Sarah Palin, the Money-Grubbing, Attention-Craving, Tea Party Tease
You get the Olympic-Sized, Marriage Mangling, Tea Party Tease
Similarly, when you combine
Rick Perry, the Bare-Knuckled, Tongue-Tied, Texas Avenger
With Hillary Clinton, the Dues-Paying, Tongue-Biting, Lady-in-Waiting
And Ron Paul, the Liberty-Loving, Age-Defying, Money Magnet
You get the, Bare-Knuckled, Dues-Paying, Money-Magnet
And so on. There are exactly 1,000 permutations. Start looking now, and perhaps you’ll find one to your liking by election day.
If you suspect that this book might make a good Christmas present for the political junkie in your life, and if you place your order by mid-afternoon Wednesday, we should be able to get it there by Christmas.
Subscribers will be getting a copy of this book in a few weeks. Sorry to make you fine people wait. We are simply too busy changing diapers to stuff envelopes at present.
The details of life as a family of five continue to reveal themselves to us. And, for the most part, it’s going well.
After having had two relatively easy babies in Alden and Kato, we wondered if we were in for trouble the third time around, but August is smooth sailing. He sleeps well. He eats well. He only cries when I change his diaper.
On Friday night, we took him to a holiday party. He was, as you can imagine, a hit with the ladies.
Thanks, Tom and Lizzie for the super soft and stylish fleece hoodie number, which has quickly become our go-to holiday season baby container.
He wore it while enduring yet another session with the doting Alden on Saturday afternoon.
And he wore it while sitting on my lap as I watched the Patriots open a can of disappointment on Tim Tebow yesterday.
Yesterday was my 37th birthday. Thanks to all of you who left those nice messages on my Facebook wall.
To celebrate, we had ribs.
And a flaming pan of pure white light.
Once the threat was contained, August joined his brother and sister in my lap, which is, apparently, just large enough for three small people to inhabit.
For now, at least. These things keep getting bigger, so I hear.