wpid-wp-1440170713928.jpgWhen my daughter was very young, she liked to grab my ears. I wasn’t able easily to locate the photo, but there’s a nice picture of the two of us from years back in which we’re walking around at the zoo. Well, I’m walking, and she’s on my shoulders, holding on by my ears. At about that time, she developed the occasional habit of rubbing my earlobes, which I suppose are soft.

I am a man who has little trouble growing hair, and my eyebrows can grow to be quite impressive if I don’t keep them in check. A few years ago, my wife let it be known that she preferred when I kept them a bit shorter, so I started getting them trimmed when I got a haircut. I sort of like when they grow a bit longer because it’s silly, but my wife is the one who most often has to look at my face, so I’ve happily deferred to her preference.

My daughter’s fondness for my ears has in recent years been joined by a fondness for my big spidery eyebrows. It started when she began getting allergy shots. For kids new to allergy shots, parents are encouraged to sort of kneel down in front of the kid for some reason, and the kid is encouraged to exhale while the injection is occurring. This arrangement gave my daughter a recurring opportunity to take note of my eyebrows, which I’ll confess I may have waggled at her a few times for comic effect to try to help take her mind off the odious shots. After a time or two of this, she began pinching my eyebrows a bit, and a new weird habit was born.

My wife and daughter have now expressed opposite preferences with respect to my eyebrows, which puts me in a bit of a tough spot. When I go for a haircut, whose preference do I honor? That of my wife who has to look at me or that of my poor daughter who I force to get bi-weekly injections and whose chief solace is this weird eyebrow ritual?

A few months ago, I made a deal with them. If the person cutting my hair mentions my eyebrows and asks if I want them trimmed, I say yes. If the he or she does not mention my eyebrows, I don’t mention them either, and they continue to grow. It’s been a couple of months since my last haircut, and my eyebrows are becoming very impressive (they’d be more so if they weren’t so light), the longest hairs an inch-and-a-half or so by my quick informal measurement. Just the other day, my daughter conceded that they had probably grown very nearly enough and added that once she could stretch them down to touch the tip of my nose, it’d probably be time to give them a bit of a trim.

Fort Dickerson Quarry

There are a couple of quarries in Knoxville that you can swim in. Well, I don’t swim in them because though I can swim, I don’t love doing it and I sink like a stone if I stop. The quarry at Fort Dickerson is reportedly 350 deep, and that’s a little farther than I’m eager to sink should I run out of steam. In any case, it’s really a beautiful quarry, with aqua water and a pleasant enough walk from the parking area to the water. We went a few weeks ago and I caught some minnows and dropped a fishing line in near the shore to see if I could find any fish, but I caught nothing. It was a nice outing nonetheless.



Of my two grandfathers, I only ever knew one, and he died when I was a toddler. This is the other one, my mom’s dad. I understand he was not the best guy in the world, but otherwise I know very little about him. He laid tile by trade if I recall correctly, and I believe he flew airplanes as a hobby, though perhaps it was a commercial concern too. At any rate, here’s the only picture of him I know of. My mother found it years ago and I’ve had a copy ever since. I attach no sentimental value to it, but he sure does look swell all decked out for a flight, like somebody out of an old movie.

F: A Lexicon

F says lots of things that nobody else can understand without help. Here are a few that I enjoy:

  • Agackle: motorcycle, most often said while inviting me to lie down on my side and provide my arm as a handlebar or while riding me when I’ve agreed to strike that pose. He can say motor and cycle independently and with chronological proximity, but he never puts the two together.
  • Dursh: Fish.
  • Garp: Grape. This is a new one. He first calls them berries, and then when I tell him they’re grapes, he says garp sort of from the back of his mouth. Maybe he’s just a fan of John Irving’s fiction.
  • Abbey: Sometimes his aunt’s name, sometimes his cousin’s name, sometimes “up please.”
  • Dooce: Juice.
  • Holmp. Help.
  • Shoon. Shoes.
  • Atide: Outside.
  • At: Hat.
  • Ath: Ice.
  • Mao mao: This is the sound a cat makes, often substituted for the word cat.
  • Beebow: Baseball. Lately, instead of a snuggly furry animal or blankie, he sleeps with a baseball glove complete with grass-stained old ball from my childhood.
  • Annie: Andy (as in his uncle)
  • Uh Lah Doo: I love you (copycatting).
  • Adone: All done.
  • Nennie: L.
  • Ulla: Ella, or sometimes just “somebody else.”
  • Yedldlow: Yellow, sort of shouted, usually in response to having it sort of yelled out to provoke him to say it. The “dldl” part is a general rattling around of his tongue in his mouth and takes different forms at different times.
  • Bone. Phone.

Marshmallow Basagna

basagna.jpgSometimes your kid says something so cute that even though it’s incorrect in a couple of ways, you can’t bear to correct her. L is a big big fan of sweet potato casserole. I knew she would be the moment I saw her cramming marshmallows into her mouth when helping to layer them in on top of the sweet potato puree. This seemed to her rather lasagna-like, and she has for a long time called lasagna basagna. It’s not that she can’t make the ell sound. It’s simply that this is how she heard it at some point, and it’s how it stuck. On its own, it’s kind of cute and harmless, but when said with glee and repetitively and with “marshmallow” as a prefix, it’s just the best. When she’s 30 and learns that this stuff isn’t actually called marshmallow basagna, I guess she’ll hate me, but it’s a risk that for now I’m willing to take.


It’s my impression that by the time L was F’s age, she was already speaking a ton of words, mostly the names of animals from an animal book we’ve also shared with F (though probably less often — having two kids is harder than having one, and you wind up short-changing both in lots of ways that make you feel really bad). F is turning out to be a little more sluggish with words (it’s pretty common for boys, I believe), but he’s finally started to show an interest in words and other linguistic feats. For example, he’s pretty good for saying “dog” now. He routinely says “mama,” but he tends to use it in a pretty general sense, usually barking it whenever he wants something. After some work with the animal book, he’ll volunteer “neeee” if you ask him what a horse says, and with a little prompting, he’ll do a chicken sound. The most impressive thing at the moment is that he’s picked up “bite, please,” which is what we croon at him when he’s insisting “maMA” and reaching for food. He’s not terribly consistent about it yet, but it’s not uncommon for him to say “bite, please” when he wants food or drink, though it comes out more like “Bobby” with a big pause in the middle.

Not to be outdone by her little brother, L has started reading and writing on a limited basis. She’s been increasingly curious about letters, and we’ve been helping her learn their sounds and doing the old “duh, ahh, guh” drill to show her how to string them together to make words. The other morning, she had written “cat,” and neither of us had explicitly drilled her on that one. When we asked her how she had come up with it, she said that she had just worked it out based on the sounds. I’m not entirely sure I believe her, but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of what’s possible.

She continues to be a good little artist as well, picking up things like perspective without any prompting. The other day, she drew one fish at sort of an angle and some other fish from the side; the sideways ones had only one eye (they were not flounder). This sounds lame and obvious if you don’t have small children, but it’s a pretty neat thing to watch happen.


It’s shocking how little I’ve blogged about F. He’s about midway between 10 and 11 months old now, and I don’t know that I’ve written about him more than two or three times, including his quick birth announcement. Cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

Anyway, this week he has begun to stand up on his own at some length. He’s occasionally accidentally stood up for a few seconds, but now he lets go of whatever he’s holding on to and stands confidently, twisting around to grab other things or even to pick big heavy things (like a hippo walk-behind toy) up. He’s very close to taking his first steps. Sometimes if you reach for him as he’s standing there, you’ll start to see one of his feet twitch a little and you can tell he’s thinking about moving it, but then he lowers himself and crawls to you instead.

He’s not talking yet, but he pretty consistently says “duh” when the dog is around (though that’s his main word for most things, so I’m not sure it counts). He had been signing “more” for food, but he’s left that behind. He waves goodbye and does “stick-em-up,” which is where we put him in his little booster seat and squeal “stick-em-up” at him and fling our hands into the air, whereupon he flings his own hands up, allowing us to snap the dinner tray into place. We did this with L too.

He has eight teeth and has had them for months (I think). He got teeth early just like L (but earlier).

He continues to be an absurdly happy baby, though he’ll now occasionally protest loudly if something gets taken away from him (which happens often when L’s around and feeling territorial about her stuff). (See the picture, which I wish we had in full color but which a stray finger caused to be taken accidentally with some weird color-extraction setting turned on.)

This weekend, I got a football out in anticipation of tossing it around some before the Super Bowl (it rained, so we didn’t), and F loved chasing it around on the floor. He also really likes driving cars around on the ground. This isn’t something L ever did, and it’s not something we taught him. He’s just naturally more interested in things with wheels than L ever was.

I haven’t noticed him doing it a lot in the last couple of weeks, but for a while, he would bob his whole body to dance to music. More recently, he’s taken to bouncing his arm up and down conductor-style when he hears a catchy tune.

He’s beginning to get something of a mullet. By the next time I manage to blog about him, he’ll probably be a teen-ager, and we’ll have to see if mullets are back in style then and if he’s one of the cool kids who has one.

19 pounds of wings

Cooking 19 pounds of wings turns out to be overkill, even for a Super Bowl party boasting 20 warm bodies. 11 bags of chips also proved to be excessive (I think we opened four). Last year, my excess was ranch dressing, of which I got probably nearly a gallon. As a gag door prize this year, we gave out a bottle of ranch. I’m thinking of saving some of the wings and chips left over from this year’s party and giving them as a door prize next year.

Peas and Carrots

Well, F is an eater now. About a month ago, I wrote that he’d nibble on a carrot if one was offered, but at the time, he still wasn’t very much into eating spooned food. The last couple of weeks have seen a lot of progress on that front. At first, I could jam a spoon of rice cereal into his mouth and he’d sort of gag but keep most of it down. This past weekend, he really turned a corner and started opening up his little bird mouth and even moving his head (like a cobra?) to get to the disgusting purees I offered. So far, his favorites are brown rice with peas (shudder) and sweet potatoes. He’ll eat a medium jar of the former in two meals, which still doesn’t represent too hearty an appetite, but it’s a big step forward. We also have these barley teething biscuits that are, post-teething, the nastiest thing I’ve ever voluntarily touched. They dissolve pretty quickly into a light brown sludge that coats his chest and hands. I’m not terribly squeamish, but even I wince a little to pick one of these slimy things up for him when he drops it. Once we’re through this box, I think we’re switching to Zwieback toast.

F is also a full-on crawler now. M and others wanted to allow that he was crawling long before I would accept his movements as crawling (I mean, c’mon, wallowing and spinning around on your butt to get to things within a 3-foot radius is impressive for a little tyke, but crawling it ain’t). Finally, a couple of weeks ago, he started doing real crawling, and now he gets around without any trouble, often making a bee-line for the cat’s water dish, which he delights in turning over. He also pulls himself up on things and can stand up assisted. This weekend, he woke up and crawled out of our bed and fell to the floor (which is a 3-foot-plus drop). We installed a gate at the top of our stairs and are trying to decide now what to do about his out-of-bed crawling, whether we can think up some sort of preventive measures or whether to see how long it takes him to learn a valuable lesson on his own about depth perception and exploring a bit more carefully.

Pees and Carrots

No, it’s not a misspelling. For a couple of weeks now, we’ve sent L to bed without a pull-up. She had been waking up with a dry pull-up pretty regularly, and then we just ran out of them, so I started dressing her in her most absorbent undies for bed and hoping for the best. She’s had accidents only twice so far, and one of those was a small enough accident that the undies soaked up all the pee anyway. It’s been only in the last few months that we’ve had any consistent success at potty-training, so this is a pretty big deal. She’s been a fully self-guided daytime pottier for a month or two, and now she’s mostly a non-bed-wetter.

Insert inspiring and graceful transition here.

When he was about 5 months old, we tried to introduce some non-boobie-milk food to F, mashing up some banana. He was very interested, having been in the habit for a while of watching us intently while we ate and lunging with impressive force and accuracy (and often success) to grab our dinner plates and pull them toward him. He’s like a little savage at the dinner table. But he wasn’t quite ready for solid food yet, and he choked a little and we had the necessary heart attacks and put solidish food of for another month. Last week, I got out a carrot for him and held it for him to let him gnaw on it while I ate my dinner. He would grab it and jam it into his mouth with gusto. Then he’d shave at it for a minute with his two bottom teeth, pull it out suddenly, and give it a puzzled look and repeat the process. Yesterday, we tried giving him some rice cereal, and he choked again (I don’t remember L having so much trouble, and we got her started earlier than we did him), but I later gave him some more carrot, and he did ok with it, probably because he seems to have managed mostly to shave little bits off and get them all over his face and chest.

Insert inspiring and graceful conclusion here.