Monday, March 26, 2007

Keeping up

Dear Alex has been growing by leaps and bounds - and life has gotten so tremenously busy that it's been hard to keep up and keep track of her prodigious growth and progress as a human being, which after all, is what we're here for. (not me as a writer, but as a parent) There was something about the timing of the too-brief trip to Florida that brought home how much is going on with her daily, (5 straight days, including some very long ones) and how much being mindful pays off. I wrote a while back about her stage in language development, about jargoning and such, and now it's ancient history. She's a constant wonder, and It's so much fun to watch her try to make sense of things. Over the last few weeks she's gone from one or two words at a time to contextually (but not necessarily grammatically) correct three or four word sentences - and her enthusiasm for using her new words is a joy to watch - "gofora rideinda car" or the calls for "taxi, taxi" as we walk down the street never fails to make me smile. There's a thousand things just like that that I hope to be able to write more articulately about, and a thousand moments like that in the last few weeks that I hope I'll never forget as she grows and we move on to issues like pre-schools and serious potty-training. Tonight we had a moment like that - Beautiful Wife and Dear Alex took me out to dinner for my birthday(thank you!), we went across the street to the Outback (not for the quality of the food, but because it's easy and kid-friendly and I didn't feel like cooking) and we had a delightful meal - Dear Alex had broccoli and carrots and Daddy's french fries and BW's chicken and macaroni and cheese - the kid likes to eat. During the meal though, she started repeating "moon, moon, moon" and looking up. It took us a while to figure out what she was referring to, and it turned out to be simple - the light fixtures directly overhead were perfect half-circles of light, and they look an awful lot like the perfect half moon that's riding high in the night sky outside my window as I write.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A day at the beach

Well, not a day actually, but we had the opportunity to introduce Dear Alex to the ocean - a trip to the beach, about which the dear girl had mixed feelings. She loves water, and knows her tub, and the lake and can even say "pool" to describe the turquoise water she's gotten so comfortable in. The ocean was something else, something way beyond anything she's ever seen before - it kind of blew her mind. In true Dear Alex form, she gave it a chance, then decided that it was too much. We retreated to safety of the sand, where she ended up having a good time playing.
The beach has always been important to me for so many reasons, probably because I spent so much time there when I was young - It seems that so much of what I remember from my childhood was days at the beach - it seemed endless, playing in the sand, and all I really remember is the beach. I wonder how my parents did it, how they found the time to give me the time in the sand - I can only hope that I can do as much for Dear Alex. I know it's possible, and I so suddenly understand the value of time over 'things' - If I could, I'd spend a month building sandcastles with Dear Alex, just to help her understand physics and engineering and hydrodynamics and how to have fun.

In true Dear Alex form, an hour or so after she had rejected the beach as suitable entertainment, we couldn't stop her from walking back over and over again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Travels with Dear Alex (part one)

Lil'screamie and family went on an all-too-brief vacation, a few days with Grammy and George in Florida. It was a more than delightful trip, and daddy got an awful lot out of spending 5 uninterrupted days with our ever-changing bundle of delight. First up was getting there - a bit of a departure from our usual care in scheduling travel times to coincide with naps or sleep, we decided to take a 6am flight - I don't think we'll be doing that again anytime soon. Actually, it wasn't so bad - Dear Alex handled the 4am waking in stride, the trip to the airport and through security very well - it was a lot harder on me, and Dear Alex never did go back to sleep. There is something about that early morning rising and the half-concsious bustle of getting to the plane that always puts me in a very different place - by the time I really woke up we were at 35,000 feet in the pre-dawn darkness - BW, myself, with Dear Alex between us, sitting comfortably as though this was something we did every day. For some reason, I couldn't really read, and spent a lot of time looking out the window as dawn spread, thinking about all of the times I've been on an airplane, traveling on business or to visit my parents when they were still alive, and that feeling of time-travel as the plane takes you out of the world you live in every day to some new place with different light and different air. Dear Alex got to climb on daddy and look out the window to see the pristine moon, and was moved to comment - "ish-a-moon, moon". We followed some other airplane for most of the trip south, and I was rewarded by an ever-changing dawn-lit view of a perfectly formed contrail of the plane ahead of us streaming past our wings. I wonder if the guys on the flight deck were having a little fun trying to stay in that little line of cloud.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Walking, walking, walking

Over the weekend, I took Dear Alex out for a longish walk - we wandered over to one of my favorite places - the Conran's by the 59th street bridge - I love to look at the hugely expensive and usually well designed stuff that has no place in our present life. It is, however, a good place to get great kid's books, and it's usually good for an hour or so of letting Dear Alex run around inside when it's cold outside. On this trip we stayed mostly outside as Dear Alex wanted to be "outside" (one of her new favorite words) so that she could walk around in the small park that's behind the store, and that's what this is about. One of the first things you learn (and keep learning) as a new-ish parent is patience - the patience to indulge your child the time and energy it takes to learn and obsessively do the smallest of things over and over again. This day it was walking up and down a concrete ramp, in every possible way. She'd start at the bottom, give a little shout of "up" and stomp her way up the ramp - at the top she'd turn around and give a little shout of "down" and she'd walk down the ramp, at the bottom, she'd turn around, give a little shout of "up" and stomp her way up the ramp - at the top she'd turn around and give a little shout of "down" and she'd walk down the ramp, at the bottom... repeat as necessary until you're freezing, and just a little over the wonder of it all - but for some reason, it doesn't get old - every trip had a nuance, a newness to her - she tried little tiny steps, big steps, a little shuffle, walking backwards (that was new to me) - and if you're paying close attention you get rewarded with watching that brand new brain working out how the world works.

I should point out that this entire walking exercise was an almost perfect repeat of the day before - she really is getting good at getting around.

Monday, March 05, 2007

First haircut

We stayed in the city this weekend, and one of the side effects of that was a little restlessness on BW's part - the need to do something with Dear Alex, so it was decided it was time for the girls first haircut - I was hoping to hold out until she had a little more hair, but BW won. Dear Alex took it like a champ - in fact, I don't think she really noticed. It may have been more traumatic to me. I kind of liked her wild baby hair, but I'm told that this will be better in the long run as more hair grows in more evenly to fill in the bald spots... She actually does look pretty cute.

Alex art

Untitled #782 - pigmented wax on paper. 2007

One of my favorite works in Dear Alex's ever-growing oeuvre -
part of her on-going gestural, action art phase. Note how the almost sculptural soaring forms of the swirls act as a delightful counterpoint to the rigid syncopation of the saw-toothed, aggressive scribbles at the lower right.

If she doesn't stop coloring on the sofa, I'm taking the crayons away.

Friday, March 02, 2007


It's a small thing, but very important to me - tonight we had the occasion of a family gathering - meaning, of course, a gathering of Beautiful Wife's family for a rememberance of their father. There's BW, her brother D., and her sister, T. - between the three families represented there are six adults and six children. We all gathered at Mr. Chow's on 57th street, and had a few drinks and dinner and talked about family things and skiing trips and the things that kids do, and somewhere in the course of the evening someone said "we're the next generation", meaning the we are doing what our parents did when they were raising us. It's a hard thing to describe. but it got to me in a way that I can't shake.
I come from a small family - Mom, Dad, sisters Tysh and Linda. All I ever really remember is that ideal nuclear family, with visits to my grammy (and her crazy chihuahuas) every once in a while. I'm so happy that Dear Alex will have a more robust family (too many aunts, uncles, cousins to count) to learn about and share life with - as I've said before, I'm a lucky man.
This goes on, of course, because family has become so very important, and it really is something to celebrate - I desperately miss my father and mother and wish that they could have known this wonderful child, and that she might have known them for the wonderful people that they were. Over time, of course, I will tell Dear Alex about them - her other grandparents - the ones she'll never know. That sounds a little bleak, I know, but this isn't really about that - It's more about family and what it means to know that you've got people that care one way or another what happens to you and yours. I've got that - from my sisters to my sisters-in-law to my brothers-in-law to my beautiful wife and the ever present Grammy and George, who baby-sat tonight so that we could have a family moment (without them).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

18 months

Dear Alex at the doctor's office

Beautiful Wife, Nanny J. and I took Dear Alex to the doctor yesterday for the 18 month check-up. It's hard to believe that she's already 18 months old - those months flew by - it seems like nothing yet at the same time it's hard to imagine or even remember that there was a time before she existed. Odd concept, that.

Dear Alex is in great health, and was in great form for the wonderful doctor L.
(she cried through the entire visit - perhaps she knew that there was a shot coming) Alex weighed in at 24.2 pounds (with diaper) and is now all of 32.5 inches tall and growing like a weed. Most of the exam was just talking about her development, and I am proud to say that she seems to be pretty smart. Of course BW and I think she's a genius, but it's nice to have a disinterested third party confirm that she's got the verbal skills of a two-year-old. It was kind of fun enumerating her new words and her motor development (the climbing on things, her adeptness with crayons, etc.) Our excitement over her prodigious word skills was deflated a bit by Dr. L., who pointed out that in order for a word to count, it has to be recognizable to a stranger... Oh. You mean that "up-ca" (cup) doesn't count?
We know what she means, she knows what she means...