Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Alex in wonderland

Just a delightfully surreal image snapped on a recent outing to one of our "places-to-go-when-it's-too-cold-out-to-go-out" places. Dear Alex was temporarily taken by her distorted image in a swoopy polished stainless steel counter. One of the reasons I enjoy being an urban dad - and I'm glad that Alex is a city kid (I say that now, I wonder how I'll feel in a few years) is because she has a fascination for the built environment - so much to see and touch and climb on and explore - it's interesting to see her work stuff out. I know she loves to run around outside in the country, but she also loves stand on the windowsill at home in the city and watch the endless waves of yellow taxis go by.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Baa Baaa

A new favorite, courtesy of Aunt Tysh - giver of the best instant hits for Dear Alex - the furry little ram has a name - "Baa-Baaa" and a place of honor in her pantheon of friends. The little girl constantly gives me pause with her attention to and appreciation of the things around her - it's not to say that everything is special (she destroys a lot of things that she likes) but that when she's into something, she's really into it. I wonder deeply about how she thinks of things and what they mean to her - I really can't wait 'til we get to talk about things like that.

Right hand, left hand

I'm quite sure that I'm not the only father that proudly considers his child a genius, but once in a while Dear Alex does something that leaves me thinking that perhaps I'm over-estimating her capacity to think things through. Which isn't to say that she's not a genius - just that some times her enthusiasm for trying something new overcomes her ability to actually achieve what she's trying to accomplish. For example - look at the picture, look at the mitten. The moment you put the mittens on lil'screamie, she does what all little kids do: she takes them off. Put them on again, she takes them off again. Repeat as necessary until you're frustrated, and she's mittenless. Fortunately, the mittens are attached to the coat - otherwise they'd have been lost a long time ago. At some point on one of our early-evening outings, Dear Alex decided to put her mittens on by herself - dad wasn't allowed to help - if I put them on, she just took them off, so I let it play for a while, with the above result - this too, is one of a series of pix, but the idea is that she did figure out how to put the mitten on, but on the wrong hand. As the mitten is attached to the coat, hilarity ensued as Dear Alex tried to figure out why one moving one hand made the other move, and why she couldn't comfortably gesture at everything (thisssh? thissh?) and suck her thumb simultaneously. It was really funny to watch, but it kind of falls in the 'you-had-to-be-there' category.

Screamie, upside down

Way too much fun, and a tickle is all it takes. Words cannot describe the giggle.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Good morning

Don't let the dazed look (I'm like that when I just wake up, too) on her face fool you - Dear Alex is screamingly happy that mom is home. This is the kind of thing that makes it all worthwhile.

Beautiful Wife brought back some kind of cold from L.A., so I'm going to assume that our little incubator will get it next, followed, of course, by me. It'll mutate slightly in me and I'll give it back to one of them as something else. At least one of us has been sick with something since around thanksgiving - it does seem like we take turns, so at least we're playing fair.

I only wish Dear Alex had her pink PJs on for this shot.

New hat

All the way from California. PJs and a super hat (and scarf) to be immediately checked out in the mirror. Dear Alex approves, and best of all - Beautiful Wife is home! All is almost right with the world.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sometimes you just need a hug.

Not new pictures, but some from the Dear Alex archive that sum it up almost perfectly. This was in the late afternoon of one of those oddly-warm late November days, when it was still possible to look forward to a wild and snowy winter, and the quaintly romantic notion of being snowed in. We're in a playground in a town somewhat near the Undisclosed Location, and in our never-ending quest to provide opportunities for our daughter to hurt herself on dangerous playground equipment, we occasionally visit. Alex and Beautiful Wife had a great time on the swings - the fact the BW could fit her butt into a kid's swing impressed me, and it cracked Alex up to be swinging next to mommy.

The hug part comes a little later, after maybe too much fun and an encounter with a vile other-persons-child, the likes of which I've really never seen: A morbidly obese 2-year-old clutching a bag of potato chips in her teeth as she shoves Dear Alex off the scary spring-mounted rocking-horse-thing and begins to rock it so violently that the ground shudders and the bag of potato chips slaps up and down rythmically, still clutched in the horrid monsters' pointy teeth. It haunts me.

Why write about this? Well sometimes you just need to. Lil'screamie was never intended to be just a place to put cute baby pictures and stories - There's a lot of other stuff going on, like learning how to be a parent. (I don't think that actually happens, btw: If you've got a baby, you're a parent.) It comes to how well you handle the challenges, how much you enjoy the pleasure - almost heartbreaking - of seeing a new soul into the world, and whether you care to do it right. I'm still not really convinced that I like babies, and having one did nothing to change my mind about that - they're dirty and selfish and are demonstrably breeding grounds for endless variations of the common (and uncommon) cold. They turn your life and your plans into one never-ending groundhogs day. They make you forget that you might have even had a life before them, and require endless patience and sufferage and selflessness. Yet - and this really is the thing - you want nothing but happiness for them and you live to witness their next manifestation of humanity, sensibility, and whatever hint you can glean of the future person that they'll become, and you wish them and give them the very best. Even if it's a small thing like a hug, you have every chance to prove through (and to) yourself that there is love and safety and decency in this world, and hope that they remember it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Girl gone wild

Not so much for the gratuitous bath-time pictures, but for the really amazing display of obsessive behavior; Dear Alex's wild display of arranging and re-arranging an assortment of bath toys - don't look at Dear Alex in the sequence of pictures, look at the row of cups and ducks. There are a lot of in-between shots missing, and daddy didn't touch - or hand Alex anything.
It went sort of like this: All of the cups and ducks start in the tub, then are lined up - first cups, then ducks, and then she starts moving them around like some kind of shell game. At some point, some part of the arrangement displeases her, and everything goes back in the tub, and the arranging starts over again. This went on for about half an hour - It made for a long bath, but I couldn't stop watching.
I was fascinated by how important this seemed to her, and can only wonder what goes on in her head - is it pure tactile delight, an attempt to communicate, an exploration of aesthetics, or performance art?

A is for Alex

Not a new picture, but one of thousands from the from the Alex archive - put it up besause I can, because it sort of captures the sweet silliness of Dear Alex, and the dumb fun little things we get to do. I finally threw that stupid inflatable duck tub away; the slow leak and the mold in the corners was driving me mad - the cheap replacement from Ikea works so much better.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sweet, serious

Day Four: Musical delight

Something new tonight when I got home from work - Dear Alex put on a delightful musical performance for me. I'm not sure what prompted it, but it was well presented. She waited until she was sure she had my attention, went to her little electronic piano and started banging away with purpose - she'd whack away at the keys, then hit one of the pre-recorded demo tunes, turn around and start doing the alex dance, including the little 4-step spin-around, repeated twice. Then back to the piano for some more banging, then another dance, then more music, then a little dance, then some banging on her drum and the coffee table. This wasn't the usual Alex short-attention-span-theatre thing, it went on for a while. Howlingly funny, and heartbreakingly cute. I wonder how long it took her to plan it. It really wasn't random.


Home very late, but for some reason Dear Alex is determined to make marks - 'good for her' says daddy, reluctant to drag her away from her art for bedtime...

Alex in suburbia

She looks a little like a garden gnome, don't you think?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day Three: Hearts and minds

A short post tonight, as Dear Alex and I had a long day - but a very good one - a big family visit with uncles and aunts and cousins and grandparents-in-law and all, but very centering, very much what being a parent is becoming about to me: it's all about family, it's all about the kids - we make them our excuse to get together and hang out as people, no matter our differences in anything else - you go and do because it's family, and it's good. I got that from the day, and something else from the trip home, a true sense of what it actually means to be dad:
Night driving the northern end of the New Jersey turnpike, thinking about the day and the unexpected delight in family that I took away, well past Dear Alex's bedtime, but she's wide awake (probably from the cupcake w/sugary frosting that she ate in it's entirety) and we're doing something that we do in the car - a call and response, where she makes a noise, and I imitate it, then I make a noise and she does her best to imitate it - like this:
Dad: "Technology, Broccoli, Democracy"
Alex: "toggolioccolidoci"
Dad: "Technology, Broccoli, Democracy"
Alex: "toggolioccolidoci"
Dad: "Cantelope, Broccoli, Technology"
Alex: "capillogitology"
At a certain point she lost interest in the game, and gave out with a call that is really what this post is all about - "OooooooooMiie? OooooooooMiie? OooooooooMiie?"
I melted - the call was so mournful and genuine (where the hell is mom?) that it really opened my heart - despite whatever the the explanation is - "mom is in California, and she'll be back soon and she loves you and misses you." Daddy alone cannot fill the need. She got me tonight.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Alex in motion

Day two: She's winning

Up like clockwork, and hungry. Good morning Dear Alex.
We had a fairly typical Alex day:
Diaper, cup
mad scramble for breakfast - Eggo, Yo baby, Banana.
Pat the cat, drawing, boots!
Word of the day: Uh-oh!
Crankiness, then nap
11:30 to 1:30 (daddy cleaned up from the morning activities)
Lunch: Sweet potato, occoli, ch'ken, banana, cookie
A little indoor play, then more boots!

Finally made it outside - I think it was the coldest day so far, far too cold to be out walking around at random with Dear Alex in a stroller. Ended up at Sony Plaza, then across the street to IBM plaza - wonderful enclosed spaces, perfect places for energetic little girls. Today Alex preferred IBM - she had a real fascination with two sculptures outside the Dahesh Museum - polychrome painted oversize apples. Despite the crazy paint, she recognized the shapes, running back and forth between the two of them shouting "app!le, app!le"
All in all, she had a good time - and the running back and forth tired her out sufficiently enough to make bedtime go easy.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Day one

of the mini - lil'screamie-a-thon, wherin I hope to post something, anything related to Dear Alex at least once a day, every day. Tonight is the first night of absence of Beautiful Wife, and I already have the feeling that it's going to be a long week. We did the usual things tonight - a little dancing, some drawing, books, the bath, and the ritualistic throwing of the ducks. A new thing, though; Dear Alex seems to have developed a fondness for a new doll - the rather tart-y 'Bratz' doll. I'm not sure that I approve, but who am I to say. To keep the relative peace, the doll got tucked in with the regulars (pink puppy, pooh, monkey, brown puppy, etc.) So far BW owes me two diapers, a bath, and three rounds of Pat the Cat.

This one's for Beautiful Wife

Who's going to LA to do her Producer thing for a week or so - we are going to miss you desperately, and not just because daddy's got full-time screamie duty. It'll be the longest we've been apart since waaaaay before we found out that there was even going to be a lil' screamie.
Crazy to think about, but true. No worries - Dear Alex is going to be just fine. : )

My, how fast they grow...

Something happened over the last few months, while we weren't looking (of course we were looking - it just seems like it happened so fast - one day she's a little peanut, the next day she's running around babbling) and I wasn't writing about it - Dear Alex changed from a cute little baby into an engaged and engaging toddler. Of course, she's always been interested in the world around her, but now she can actually do something about it and usually does. I know that this is not remarkable in and of itself - all babies go through it, but it is news to me - the actual experience of watching that ever-developing mind absorb things and then try to use the new knowledge. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. There are so many new things of late that they've crowded out my memory of some of the other things that seemed so notable and curious to me before - I really wish that I'd taken the time to write some of it down.