July 15, 2009
Before Andrew turned one year old, Nolan turned four. His birthday (and party) were in mid-April; I've been meaning to post pictures ever since, and am only now getting around to it a few months later. Sorry, little guy!
His birthday party was the first full-fledged party of his own. Up until this point, all of his friends were Alex's friends (or siblings of Alex's friends'); his parties were more an excuse for the grown-ups to have a pleasant small get-together. Now, though, he has his own friends from pre-school in addition to the kids his age who are siblings of Alex's friends, and as four-year-olds, they can actually participate. What's so amazing is to see these kids come into their own, rather than just be Alex's or Nick's or Kyle's or Jackson's younger brothers/sisters.
The party itself had an airplane motif. His mother very creatively used our industrial printer at work to create a "put the pilot in the plane" game with stickers and a biiig illustration of an airplane; there were wooden planes for painting that the partiers could take home; and, she created some static cling window stick-ons for party favors, as well. The boys and girls all got into it (since we don't have any girls of our own, we weren't sure if they would enjoy airplanes as much as we knew the boys would, but they did, which was great), and Nolan thoroughly enjoyed being king for the day.
As I mentioned earlier, Nolan is very much coming into his own. It's remarkable how he and his older brother can be so similar in temperment, and yet so distinct in personality. Nolan is more of an introvert than Alex (and, for what it's worth, it appears that Andrew is following more in Alex's shoes than Nolan's, in that regard), but when he speaks, it's with authority. He's assertive, clever, and very playful. In fact, one thing that's marked these past few months has been his constant desire to play with his Mom and Dad. Ohhh, if only we didn't have to spend so much of the day working, instead.
Last summer, Nolan took swimming classes with yours truly -- he was at an age where the classes were toddler/parent. He emphatically did NOT like the transition last summer to taking swimming on his own, when it was time to move beyond toddler/parent.
This summer, he has taken to swimming classes like a US auto manufacturer takes to bail-out money -- he just can't get enough. It's thrilling to me to watch him smile as he splashes around in the pool, doing things he used to be afraid of. And unlike the aforementioned US auto manufacturers, he can stay afloat.
We're hoping that we'll be able to get Nolan into a good gymnastics program before too long. He is quite a climber, and given how well Alex is doing with gymnastics, it's clear that Nolan could take it far if he wants to. He enjoys the classes he does have, but the program he is in has been gutted by recent shuffling of the local gyms' personnel, as have all of the other nearby local boys' programs. So far, no good new boys programs have arisen to take their place. We hope it happens soon. Nolan has such a great command of his body, and he is so fearless that this would be an ideal way to channel his energy and ability and, dare the proud parent say it... raw talent!
In the meantime, Nolan continues to shine with his interest in science and constructive play. And, as I mentioned, there's his ever emerging style. What's most heartening for me to see is how well the boys tend to get along with each other; that they can be comfortable developing their own styles while still being sympathetic to each other. Speaking from personal experience, it's a Very Good Thing to get along well with your sibling(s), and I'm so glad to see Nolan doing so well as both a brother and, at the same time, as his own person.
May 18, 2009
This past Wednesday, Andrew completed his first lap around the sun. As is tradition everywhere in families that have several children, we celebrated quietly at home for our one-year-old rather than having a big to-do. Andrew had his first taste of chocolate cake (in the form of a cupcake, which he promptly smeared all over his face, hands, hair, shirt, chair, etc.) and received a few small presents.
Having two older brothers, Andrew has as many toys as a kid could want, and plays with almost none of them. However, he keeps grabbing for his dad's keys and cell phone, so the little guy got his own toy keys and toy cell phone for his birthday. His grandparents also got him a musical Mozart cube thingy, which he loves to dance to. Andrew seems to have as much interest in music as his brothers and parents, which is just fine with us.
Andrew does the things that typical one-year-olds do. He walks like a drunk, babbles incoherently (also like a drunk, now that I think about it), and instinctively knows which stuff he should avoid playing with and plays with it.
While each of the kids has his own personality, appearance, and style, it's impossible to resist making comparisons. There is one way in which Andrew is completely unlike his brothers at this age -- well, there's two, but I'll get to that in a moment. Andrew is very, very attached to me. Sure, Alexander and Nolan have gone through phases where they would show me varying degrees of affection, but Andrew is constantly asking for me.
When I come home, he won't let me walk by without picking him up and holding him for a while -- otherwise, he'll just cry and cry until I correct my oversight. When I leave in the morning, he clings to me in a way that his brothers had only done occasionally when they were small. The difference is pronounced, and I don't mind saying that it's kinda cool. And don't get me wrong -- I know Alex and Nolan love me, and they still ask for hugs and monkey-back rides and the like. And yes, when they were young, they were attached to me. But not like this.
It could be annoying, I suppose, this constant need for Daddy's attention, but it isn't. I'll give him all the hugs I can as long as he wants 'em. Alex and Nolan are growing *so fast*, that I know it's only a matter of time before they've all outgrown the need for hugs from Dad. I spent this past weekend holding Andrew until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. Sometimes, it's a little inconvenient. But it's never a chore.
There is one other way in which Andrew is different from his brothers; he is the coolest cucumber of the bunch. He very rarely complains (his aforementioned need to be held by moi notwithstanding). He's as easy-going as they get.
That said, as he entered first-birthday-season a few days ago, he has decided to experiment with throwing his version of a tantrum -- again, usually to protest when he's not being held. His version of a tantrum is to refuse to stand up; he'll lie down on the ground and cry demandingly. Any tantrum from any child is a bit annoying, but all his tantrums are doing for me at the moment is reminding me of how effing lucky we've been with him so far.
These are hard times; I am hearing increasingly bad news regarding friends of mine who have lost their jobs, lost their health, or are losing those near and dear to them. I'm having some tough times of my own, for all that, and threats of more on the horizon.
But then there's Andrew. And Alex. And Nolan. I am ridiculously blessed to have them in my life, and incredibly fortunate that they continue to be so amazing, so healthy, and so just-plain-lovable. I love my guys more than I can possibly express, and only hope I can become a better father to them as we all move forward along this bumpy road called 'Life.'
February 21, 2009
Okay, here's another gratuitous photo of Alex and Nolan. Sorry to bore my friends and other visitors who aren't as enamored with kids as I am, but every once in a while, I just need to trot out the ol' photo album.
As I've mentioned previously, I'm inclined to share [some of] my experiences with them now, while their lives are still mostly under my umbrella. As they get older, and their stories become more their own, I'll have to exercise even more discretion. In the meantime... let's take another peak at the brothers Rousselle.
I snapped this photo in August of last year. I'm not quite sure why, in the middle of summer, they were inclined to wear heavy pajamas, just as I'm not sure why now, in the middle of winter, they are inclined to wear next to nothing when they go to sleep. They simply take after their old man, I suppose.
But this photo reminds me of a phenomenon I don't think I've mentioned here before, and it strikes me as bizarre every time it happens. When I am out shopping with the kids, or some similar public outing, and they are seated next to each other, it's not obvious that Alex is substantially taller than Nolan. Apparently, it's also not obvious that Alex is three years older than Nolan. I am often asked by passers-by:
Are they twins?
I look at this photo, and I think I see why. Despite Alex's height advantage, Nolan is quite sturdy for his age, and there's only ten pounds or so separating the two. But just look at those smiles. And look at their eyebrows. For all that they are so very, very different, their mannerisms and eloquence are more similar than most siblings I've bumped into. On those occasions when Nolan chooses to wear shirts similar to what Alex is wearing, the resemblance can be quite pronounced.
It's a funny question, every time I hear it, but I also think it's cool. It's a reminder that I've been doubly -- now, triply -- blessed.
That said, I doubt anyone is likely to ask if Alex and Nolan and Andrew are triplets, what with the six year spread, but it seems possible that, a few years down the line, Nolan and Andrew might elicit the same question that Alex and Nolan get now....
February 18, 2009
I have consolidated the "Alexander Benjamin", "Nolan Theodore", and "Andrew James" categories into one big "The Boys" category. I suppose I could have called the new category "The Kids" or "My Three Sons" or any number of other possibilities. But, this will do for now.
Combining the categories will allow me to occasionally make observations about one or more of them without necessarily tipping my hand as to which one I'm referring to. This is not an effort to be coy; rather, as they get older, it'll be more relevant to allowing them some modicum of privacy while still allowing me to tell my stories....
January 22, 2009
Well, while we wait for me to have time to update my site like a good little blogger, here's another gratuitous photo of Andrew. This one was taken on the occasion of his turning eight months old (a little over a week ago):
Andrew is crawling now... but, mostly backwards. Yesterday saw him finally begin to make "forward progress" in the crawling department. Lately, he's been much more interactive with his environment; playing with toys, grabbing whatever there is to grab, and so on.
Just as Alex did with Nolan when they were at that age, Nolan (at three and a half years old) has suddenly started showing Andrew all sorts of affection. Rather aggressively.
One of Nolan's favorite things to do is give Andrew a nice big hug and kiss... while Andrew is sleeping. Until he is no longer sleeping. When Andrew is awake, Nolan likes to give him a biiig hug, and then pull him down onto the floor. Then, he gets up and moves on to something else. Lately, one of the most common phrases you'll hear at Casa Rousselle is "Gently, Nolan! Gently!"
While it *is* inconvenient to have Nolan waking Andrew up from naps, I have to say I'm happy that he has started to interact with Andrew with such joy and enthusiasm. For a little while there, Nolan didn't seem to know what to make of Andrew.
Alex, at six and a half years old (in fact, he hit "six and half years" exactly just a couple days ago), is very much stepping into the role of Big Brother. He's helpful when it comes to the little things -- running to get wipes or toys for Andrew when we ask -- and enjoys taking time out to play with his baby brother. Alex looks out for his brothers, and that makes me more pleased than I know how to express.
As you can tell from the photos, Andrew's hair is coming in a bit thicker than his brothers', and also a little bit darker. While many people comment that Andrew's face looks even more like mine than his brothers did when they were babies, I suspect he's getting his hair genes from his mother -- which is all to the good, given how thick and healthy her hair remains, and how fine and thinning my hair has been.
We've also belatedly started Andrew on solid foods. Like his brothers before him, Andrew shows little interest in eating, but seems quite content to grab food and smear it anywhere he can reach... most often, his face and aforementioned hair. Is this common with kids, or just *our* kids?
That said, with "short" blog entries like this, is it any wonder I'm finding it hard to get the time to post items that are more in depth?
December 13, 2008
Holy Cow! He's already *seven* months old! Here's another shot I took of him on the day he turned six months (because I haven't processed the more recent photos yet):
Love him! Love him!
November 14, 2008
Yesterday morning, Andrew turned six months old, and I had the presence of mind to take a few photos to capture the event.
Happy half-birthday, little guy.
September 09, 2008
As I write this, our son Nolan is three years old. He is a middle child, with three years separating him from his older brother, Alexander, and there's another three between him and baby brother Andrew. He has just started pre-school, and is racing past the milestones that all three-year-olds approach at around this time: potty training, independence, asserting his personal preferences, etc., etc.
This is not his story.
Oh, sure, I posted that picture of him playing on the school playground because it's a darn fine photo, and it shows off his enthusiasm as well as his beauty. But, more to the point, I posted it because I like it. I took the photo, and I'm proud of the way I captured him. And I'm proud of him. This is my blog, and even when I'm writing about my kids, or politics, or pop culture... I'm writing about me. The photos here are not just about the subjects of the photos; they are also about the photographer.
So riddle me this, Batman: at what point does a story (or a photo, or whatever have you) cease to be mine to post? I've commented on this dilemma previously, but it's becoming increasingly relevant now. For example, I've noted before that you don't see me mention certain family members here because they prefer to keep any details about themselves private. But when their details are also my details, and I want to go public... where is it appropriate to draw the line?
While that's already a bit of an issue with regard to adult friends and relatives, what about the people in my life for whom I currently make those decisions, but who will eventually be making their own? I have devoted an entire section of my website to each of my three sons... but what happens as they get older, and assume more responsibility for their own image?
When Andrew reaches the age where most of his friends have relatively unfettered access to the internet, how much of his life's story is it fair for me to have posted online? When Nolan starts dating, how easy should it be for his prospective paramours to discover the details of his potty training? Am I exposing Alex to teasing down the road in high school because today, while he is six, I broadcast that my son wants to compete in the Olympics?
When I was in high school, I was simultaneously an extrovert and shy. "Shy?" you ask. "Is that possible?" Well, what I mean is, I was shy when it came to romance. I was never very forward when it came to girls, and I always kept any budding romances pretty much to myself. Sure enough, when given the chance to meet one of my girlfriends, what did my mom do? Pull out the old photo albums and show pictures of me from prehistoric times. A regular Cringeosaurus.
But this is different. I've been keeping a blog for all these years as a means of keeping in touch with old friends and new; a way to let y'all know how things are going in my life, for those who might find it interesting. This is *my* story (and, for all that, it's only the part of my story that I currently choose to broadcast... and it's highly edited, at that). My story necessarily includes the fact that I have three brilliant, beautiful, athletic boys. (And I'm not biased in any way about them.)
At what point, though, do I back off from sharing stories here that include them? If one of them faces a particularly challenging problem that is of concern to me, at what point do I say, "One of my children..." instead of saying, "Alex...". At what point do I stop sharing publicly the photos I take of them? (And, instead, I save them somewhere, only to be hauled out at family reunions or when new significant others are introduced?)
I love my boys.
They are growing so fast.
How long can I hold onto them? And how long can I share my experience of them with you?
September 08, 2008
I've been so busy these past few weeks that I haven't had time (until this past Friday) to format any of the photos I've taken this summer to be posted to my site.
And we've already reached the point when I need to take more photos to show you what they look like now! It's amazing how quickly these guys are growing up, both physically as well as emotionally and intellectually.
Here's a shot of the boys taken early in July (back when our futon couch covers were still nominally white, as decorated by Alex and Nolan).
In the two months since then, Nolan (he's the three-year-old -- our middle child, for those of you who are as bad at keeping names straight as I generally am) has found his voice. It turns out he can talk up a storm when Alex isn't around to do the talking for him. He has also started showing more affection for his baby brother, and is asserting himself on a regular basis. Nolan's big accomplishment was entering the realm of the potty-trained just *days* before he started pre-school.
Alexander, our six-year-old and the "big brother" of the three, has been practicing pulling out all of the toys with Nolan and then not putting any of them away. Okay, that's not really new. But, he learned to play chess this summer, and attended chess camp taught by a former Russian and American champion at a local Boys and Girls club. He's also begun training for "team gymnastics". He's surprisingly good at both the chess and the gymnastics, and he has announced that he plans to become a world champion at both. The recent Beijing Olympics certainly captured his attention.
He also attended one week of day camp at the local Museum of Flight, along with one of his best buddies in the neighborhood. Alex and Nolan both enjoy a love of airplanes and flying, and I'm so glad that they'll be able to share this love with their paternal grandfather, who is an avid pilot. (I will also note that their grandmother earned her pilot's license this summer, as well -- congratulations, mom!)
As for Andrew, who is currently a scant three-and-a-half months old, well... he's a champion eater, sleeper, and pooper. He smiles all the time, and it's always a beautiful revelation when he does. He came up with a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem a few days ago, and I didn't have the heart to tell him that Andrew Wiles beat him to the punch thirteen years ago.
After Alex and Nolan managed to thoroughly destroy the futon covers (we don't dare replace those couches with real furniture until the kids are a little older), we replaced them with black, which makes for some striking photographs. This second photo was taken one month after the snapshot above. Notice how much they've all grown. Especially their hair. Eeek!
Paulette has told me this story, and I only partially believed it until it happened to me recently, that people have asked her (and now, me) if Alex and Nolan are twins. Usually, but not always, they are sitting down when the question is posed. In case you can't tell from looking at the photos, Nolan is the one in the blue airplane shirt, while Alex is wearing red. (In the top photo, Nolan is wearing the alligator pajama top.)
It's been another month since then, and another round of haircuts (except for Andrew). I should make a point of taking another photo soon. Yee-ha.
September 06, 2008
August 2008 marks the first time I've gone an entire calendar month without posting to my blog.
For both of my readers out there, please accept my humble apologies. Much has been going on at Casa Rousselle (and at Business Rousselle, Magic Cafe Rousselle, etc., etc.).
Allow me to get the ball rolling again with a little photo I snapped about a month ago. I call this thousand word essay, "Andrew at rest, August 2008." In this one, he was still shy of reaching three months old. He's already grown considerably since then.
June 02, 2008
I'm so behind. I still haven't responded to the many e-mails y'all have sent since the birth of baby Andrew. Please forgive me! I'm working on getting caught up! In the meantime, here are some photos that were taken during the first week or two since Andrew's arrival.
Here's Nolan, Alex, and Andrew. Alex loves to hold his baby brother. We've been encouraging him to provide more support for Andrew's neck, but when the camera is rolling, he sometimes forgets.
... in fact, Alex will often spend very long stretches of time holding Andrew, which not only give them bonding time, and makes Alex feel like he's being a good big brother, but also gives their mom a chance to do things other than attending to the baby non-stop.
Here's a shot of Andrew's maternal grandfather holding him at less than one-week-old.
In this one, Andrew looks almost exactly like Alex did in a similar shot almost six years ago. (I may eventually pull up some of those older photos and format them for the web to provide compare-and-contrast opportunities on this page....)
Mostly, the little guy sleeps. But hey, he does it beautifully!
May 14, 2008
The first I knew of Andrew being born was the sound of his voice; a brief cry that said, "What's going on?"
With that one sound, everything changed. The bond I felt was instantaneous. As had happened before with Alexander and with Nolan, that very first sound put all kinds of puzzle pieces into place: the fact of his being alive; the fact of his being mine; the fact of his being a part of me and my life; the fact of my love for him. I know it all can sound so mushy, but it wasn't, entirely. On the one hand, it was simply "these are the facts": Andrew was here. But, yes, on the other hand, the emotions were here, too.
One of the medical staff asked, "Does he look like your other boys?" I wasn't sure how to answer. The best I could come up with at the time was, "He looks like... him. He looks like Andrew."
But after a little while -- after my brain could process what was going on -- I realized that, in fact, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the way his brothers looked on they day they were born. I mean, besides being all purple and squishy. Their body types are similar, and their faces are *remarkably* similar.
Take a scroll through the pictures of Alex when he was three and younger, and then scroll through the photos of Nolan, and you'll notice how remarkably similar they look(ed). Look at the baby photos and compare them to Andrew's. Yeah, I guess they do look alike. [Note: Alexander and Nolan used to have separate pages; I have since combined them, for various reasons, into one page for all three of the boys. --AGR 2/18/2009]
There are some notable differences: Andrew was born with a lot more hair on his head than Nolan (and, perhaps a wee bit more than Alex, as well), and his feet are not as big as Alex's. Andrew's birth weight is almost exactly halfway between Alex's and Nolan's, but there's also a sense that this guy is likely to give Nolan a run for his money in the size department when all is said and done.
He's a big kid, but not tubby. He's well proportioned, and his apgars were excellent. This kid is as healthy as newborns come.
So, while phoning everyone to tell them the news, everything could be pretty much summed up by the lines, "He's healthy, and Paulette's doing well, and the event was as about as by-the-numbers as they come." But I wanted to say so much more than that. It seems like the fact that Andrew was as healthy as he was and that Paulette came through as well as she did demands more, and says more. It certainly fills up my heart more than that sentiment implies. But, alas, it only takes up one sentence when converted into words.
Speaking of words... let's talk about names.
"Andrew" was the leading contender to be Baby 2.0's name until near the very end, when we switched to "Nolan" for various reasons. This time around, we kinda threw out the rule book. The only two rules that really stayed with us were: 1) the name be relatively easy to spell, and 2) the name not be particularly career limiting. While I must admit that Barak Obama is proving that names may not be as career limiting as I'd once suspected, I still think it unlikely that we will ever elect a President "Moon-Unit" or "Lemonjello".
That said, "Andrew" instantly became our de facto choice for first name, but the middle name remained something of a challenge. With Alex and Nolan, we chose middle names that commemorated Americans we particularly admire. Several others we admire (such as Abraham Lincoln) have names that don't quite scan well between "Andrew" and "Rousselle", or sound a bit more pretentious than we would prefer. The trick is to pick a name that evokes someone admirable and thereby augments Andrew's name, but without hijacking his name.
In the end, we selected "James" because we like the name, it scans well as part of Andrew's full name, and it serves as a tip of the hat to James Madison, principal author of the Constitution of the United States -- one of the most amazing documents ever written -- and the Bill of Rights, which is far too overlooked by today's political parties. He was a champion of checks and balances in our government, which may well be the saving grace of our nation.
But, enough about James Madison. Here's to Andrew James Rousselle... an American original!
(Incidentally, this picture shows Andrew in the arms of his grandmother, while being surrounded by his older brothers.)
May 13, 2008
Paulette and Allan Rousselle (and their sons, Alexander and Nolan) are proud to announce the birth of their son (and Alexander's and Nolan's brother):
Born May 13th, 2008 at 8:48 am (Pacific Time)
8 lbs., 13.5 oz.
Mother and child are doing well and will be coming home from the hospital in a few days.
Pictures will be posted here in a day or two. Or three. Definitely by Friday.
Thank you all for your support, kindness, and well wishes.
April 06, 2008
We're coming up on Nolan's third birthday, and it occurs to me that a little gratuitous facetime with Nolan might be in order.
As I may have mentioned recently, we moved our office from one end of town to the other. Circumstances conspired to bring me back to our old neighborhood a couple of days ago, and I went into my favorite sushi joint for some lunch.
The woman behind the counter remembered me. I'd been a semi-regular since they opened, and I would frequently bring in Nolan, who, because of quirks in our schedules, would often be visiting me during lunch time while Paulette attended to issues at work. According to the lady who always takes my order (a large California roll, fwiw), the "kitchen staff" simply loves Nolan, and they would often throw in some extra (small) California roll for him, as well. (I suspect that the kitchen staff in question is actually the owner of the joint, but I've never confirmed.)
Sure enough, on this recent trip, even though Nolan wasn't with me, they remembered him and after my meal, they sent me away with a takeaway order for him, as well, no charge.
This kind of affection for either of my kids truly warms the cockles of my heart. [I just looked up "cockle", which turns out to be either a kind of clam or a weedy plant. I didn't know my heart had clams or weeds, but there's always some truth to proverbs, no?]
Nolan is at that age right now where he freely shows me signs of affection, as well, and I enjoy them every chance I get. When I come home, he runs to the door, announcing "Daddy's here!" and gives me a welcome hug. Often, in the middle of the night, he calls out for one reason or another, and after I attend to the issue at hand (blankets need to be fixed, or he wants water, whatever), he snuggles himself back to sleep with an "I love you" for me on the way. I simply melt. (Then again, if you're an insomniac like me, and are further having your sleep interrupted by kids calling out in the middle of the night, you might be emotionally susceptible, too.)
His speech is improving by leaps and bound, and he has had to be moved up to the next size in clothes and sneakers, which combines to make a formidable impression of a kid on the grow. He has a delightfully serious manner of speaking, with an innocent smile and open good humor.
His so-called "terrible twos" haven't been all that much of a problem, and he appears to have already left them behind. He's a bit more reserved than his older brother, and definitely more of a climber. Paulette thinks he's likely to be more athletic than Alex (who is pretty athletic as it is), and I agree. That's one thing I'm particularly enjoying about our kids; they both generally have a pleasant disposition, but they nonetheless have different personalities.
His eyes have remained blue thus far (even though that isn't obvious in the photo I'm attaching to this entry), and he's as blond as I ever was at that age. He's looking forward to becoming a "big brother," and he's made a friend or two in the neighborhood independently of Alex, which is also good to see.
I have no experience with middle siblings, insofar as I've never been one nor had any, but it's important to me to make sure that Nolan continues to get attention and encouragement as an individual as well as part of the clan. As it is, it's exciting to see him come into his own.
February 18, 2008
When I was in college, I took up foil fencing. I suspect that this may be where I picked up the habit of occasionally announcing "Touche!" whenever someone gets me with a good play in cards or some other friendly competition. (I might also have picked this habit up as a result of a line from a Smothers Brothers routine, in which Tommy says, "Touchy, touchy", to which his brother response, "Touche, Touche.")
Alexander (all of five and a half years old) and I have been playing Crazy Eights in the evenings, and he asked me what it means when I say, "Touche!" after he plays something that I can't match. I explained the concepts of announcing a good hit or acknowledging a good rejoinder.
So, imagine my surprise when we were playing cards earlier this evening, and Alex played a queen and said, "Queen Shay!" And then, when he played a six, and said, "Six Shay!"
Dude cracks me up.
December 18, 2007
We found out on Monday that Baby 3.0 is going to be a boy.
(I am also happy to report that the baby-in-progress is doing fine, and the doctors have no cause for concern. Always a good thing to hear.)
Having this news now gives us plenty of time to come up with a name. If events play out this time the way they did last time, we'll probably need all the time we can get.
We haven't set out our list of rules yet for choosing a name this time, although one criteria from last time is likely to be modified. Rather than saying we're ruling out the top X most common names (as tallied by the Social Security Administration), we'll probably simply want to avoid the most common names given in our particular region. How we'll determine that, I'm not sure yet.
And even though we are aware that "ESPN" has been used as a baby name, we are not likely to be naming our third child "Sienen" or "Foxnews" or "Emesenbeesee". "Spike" and "Oxygen" are also right out. (Truth be told, we still don't have cable or satellite feeds, anyway, and "Peabee S." would just get the kid beat up in school.)
We're also not likely to name Baby 3.0 after contemporary icons of brains and business. The fact that such figures are controversial is one problem, but even worse is that their names are, well, nouny. "Jobs Rousselle" or "Gates Rousselle"? Bleh.
Spelling remains an important consideration: we'll want to make sure that there aren't a lot of common variations on spelling, and that it's easy for most people to spell the name correctly upon first hearing. "Cujo," anyone?
Oh, and the name has to be unequivocally a boy's name. Not Pat, Sam, Terry, or Chris. No boys-names-turned-girls-names, like Taylor or Dakota.
But other than that, the field is wiiide open. Let the Names begin!
December 12, 2007
My business finds itself in the unfortunate situation of having to move. Our landlord is selling the building, and so we need new facilities. Now. We need to be out by early January.
I've been coordinating the move, and it's quite a bit of work. Finding a new space took a great deal of time and effort, and now getting movers, getting the phones switched, etc., isn't letting me relax. Now add to that the Christmas rush. And add to that the fact that I'm doing more of the heavy lifting at home these days, as well, and you've got one busy bee at Casa Rousselle.
Paulette and I have typically shared the chores at home (still do, actually), but she's somewhat more tired than usual, and I'm the guy to pick up the slack. Why is she tired? Well, that's the other busy-making thing going on: she's busy making Baby 3.0. Good news, to be sure, but exhausting, and so there's no end of stuff that needs to be done at the Big Red House.
So that's why I'm not posting much on my blog. Well, that, and my proverbial dog ate my blog posts. And I'm bummed about the news regarding Anita, a friend of ours here in town. And I need to go Christmas shopping.
But other than that, not much going on here. How's by you?
May 12, 2007
Nolan turned two years old this past April.
Today, he received his first solicitation for a credit card.
Oh, sure, Paulette and I ran through the obvious questions:
- How did he get on a list to get a card?
- Given how our USPS mail carrier keeps misdelivering our mail to our neighbors, does that mean an unscrupulous neighbor could order a card in his name?
- How can he sign for purchases, insofar as he can't write, yet?
- What would he buy if he knew how to use a credit card?
How did Nolan get a credit card offer before Alex?
And... will Alex be jealous?
February 06, 2007
These days, many (if not most) programs that teach readin' and writin' start with a phonics approach. "Sound it out," is the name of the game.
Paulette and I read to the kids each night, and Alex has been particularly interested in the "Frog and Toad" books. In one of the stories, Toad makes a "To Do" list for the day:
- Wake up
- Eat Breakfast
- Go see Frog
- Go for walk with Frog
- Etc., etc.
After Alex had had this read to him a couple of nights in a row, he decided one morning that he should make a To Do list. He asked for paper, and began to write his list. The first item was something like "Wyk up", which ain't bad.
His babysitter was coming over that day, so on his list he wrote, "Gooleu".
You see, "G" can make a hard "guh" sound, as in "gutter", but it also makes a soft "j" sound, as in gist.
"Oo", of course, as in "moo".
"L" needs no introduction.
"E" can make a long "ee" sound, as in "me".
"U", naturally, sounds like "uh", as in "umbrella".
And therefore, Gooleu is his babysitter, Julia.
I'm not sure of whom I'm more proud: Alex, for his giant leap forward in writing skills at the tender age of four and a half, or Paulette, who could actually explain to me what he had written.
December 13, 2006
Alex is just a few weeks away from being four-and-a-half years old. Yikes!
He continues to enjoy his school, where he is making huge leaps forward in his math skills and in writing. He has already composed his first short story (he drew a picture of a train and dictated a four-sentence description of what was about to happen to it to his teacher, who wrote the story down), complete with action, adventure, and daring-do. But rather, when I refer to his writing, I'm more talking about his ability to draw numbers and letters -- he can write his name legibly, and it gets clearer and clearer all the time. Various exercises in school involve writing numbers and adding them up, which he's doing with amazing clarity.
The biggest kick for me, as far as his schooling is concerned, is that *he* is now starting to read to *me*. Oh, sure -- not much. The first story he read to me was "Fat Cat". As I'm sure you can imagine, Fat Cat isn't so much a story as it is a series of sentences that build upon each other. Fat Cat is sad. Fat Cat is glad. Fat Cat sat. That kind of thing. But it's a pure joy to watch and listen to him puzzle out some parts and breeze past others and correct mistakes. Words can not convey the pride I feel as he shows me newly developed skills on almost a daily basis.
Alex continues to be quite a talker, and very articulate at that. It seems that his favorite hobby is explaining things (which, I fear, is almost certainly more an imitation of me than of his mother) -- gesturing emphatically with his hands and varying his vocal pitch in an exaggerated sing-songy way, complete with dramatic pauses and head-bobbing counterpoints.
He is increasingly self-sufficient, as when he assembles his breakfast by himself (ranging from peanut butter on crackers to cereal with milk, et al).
Like his younger brother, Alex is showing an increasing interest in the space shuttle. We were going to a Christmas party this past weekend and made sure they had a computer with internet connection available for him to watch the shuttle launch, which was scheduled to happen during the party; he had been *most* disappointed when the previously scheduled attempt had to be delayed due to inclement weather, and he didn't want to miss this one.
(That said, he was still quite social before and after the launch. Alex likes parties, even the kinds that are mostly meant for grown-ups.)
We try not to over-schedule our kids' time, which means we try to only have one or two "classes" a week outside of school. Right now, Alex is taking swimming, and he's enjoying it a great deal. He is already able to swim from one side of Redmond's municipal pool to the other. Paulette and I are inclined to eventually sign up both of the boys for gymnastics, but we don't want to over schedule them, either, and we don't want to take Alex away from swimming just now. We'll have to see how that all plays out. One thought is that we'll introduce gymnastics once school is done for the summer break.
In the meantime, we're not letting the cool, dark winter nights keep us cooped up in the house. Paulette brings the kids to the children's museum or the acquarium or the like on a regular basis, and we occasionally dine out as a family (where Alex can be quite well-behaved, especially if we keep the meal from going too long).
It's been almost four and a half years since Alex came into our lives, and he still continues to inspire and amaze me. Raising him and Nolan is proving to be a most excellent adventure.
December 12, 2006
Our children continue to amaze me. At a little over a year and a half, Nolan is as mobile as mobile can be. He walks and runs and dances with amazing grace, and climbs with abandon up, onto, and over every piece of furniture in the house (including many pieces that simply can't support him, like a Lego table we were given by friends).
His smile (and yes, I know I've said this about Alex, as well, and its true for both of them), simply lights up the room. And while he is generally sweet-natured and even-tempered like Alex, his personality is nonetheless very different from older brother's.
He is not particularly talkative, but he is very good at letting you know what's on his mind. His favorite morning routine is to wake up before me, try to pull me out of bed (by the forefinger), point in the direction of the stairs, and say a word that sounds something like "Down!"
He loves to read, with his two favorites being the Sandra Boynton books and a couple of young readers we have about the space shuttle. (Shhh. Don't tell him, but he'll be getting a toy space shuttle for Christmas.) He can't get enough of these books. With the Boyton books, he loves to point at the animals and imitate the sounds they make. Likewise, he loves to carry around toy dinosaurs and roar. It's ridiculously cute. While he's not as talkative as Alex was at this age, he's sure to let us know that he can be vocal when he wants to be.
Now that he's over a year old, he seems to be getting more out of the holiday season. He appeared to enjoy his trick-or-treating with big brother and mom, and he's done an admirable job of not fussing with the decorations on the Christmas tree this year. (Last year, of course, he couldn't even walk yet during the holiday season, so we've done okay in that department.)
As the dust starts to settle with regard to my work situation (I've been putting in rather long hours for the past couple of years, but that should start to stabilize with the new year), I look forward to spending more one-on-one time with both of my kids. For the first year and a half of Alex's life, I was working from home, and so enjoyed the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with him when he was very young. I haven't had the same opportunities with Nolan, and I very much want to make sure that we both get the chance to spend that quality time together. Like his older brother, he's growing very quickly, and I don't want to miss it.
November 30, 2006
The secret to success in comedy, according to Steve Martin, is
timing. Now, I've been meaning for years to remark upon Seattle's self-proclaimed number one television newscast and their penchant for always leading the news with something weather related. I first moved to the area sometime in -- oh, I don't know, 1995?
And I first started maintaining my blog (originally known as an "online journal", since the term "blog" hadn't yet been pimped at the time) a year or three after that. All the while, I've been kicking around the idea of pointing out this silly habit of the Seattle infotainers to lead off their alleged news broadcasts with talk about the weather.
And here it is, years later, and I finally get around to mocking these guys, and what happens? Their silly report about snow just south of Canada actually presages an actual weather emergency for the area. Okay, it's a minor weather emergency compared to many that I've been through (blizzards, cold snaps, tornados, etc.), but it's still relatively nasty. The entire Puget Sound area has been pretty much shut down for this entire week so far, and there have been a few weather-related fatalities.
While we were only hit with a dusting of snow both where I live and where I work, the hilly roads and the dearth of any kind of heavy equipment to clear the roads has left a treacherous ice field between home and office. That doesn't stop me, of course -- I grew up in Buffalo, NY, where winter driving is one long, controlled skid, and besides, my current vehicle is an All Wheel Drive minivan (I'm *so* Seattle Yuppie) -- but it nonetheless means I actually have to pay attention while I drive. And that's tres un-Seattle.
Luckily for me, everyone else is afraid of the weather, so they stay at home altogether. That means I get to skid my way down the ridge without having to worry too much that there'll be another car at the bottom to block my path. Whee!
The kids are already blase about the whole deal. Oh, sure, the first morning, they wanted to get out and play in the snow. But when Alex learned that there wasn't enough snow to even make so much as one lame snowball, he was pretty much done. Nolan seemed to enjoy the change in scenery, but otherwise didn't know what to make of it all.
But while the kids have put it all into perspective by getting on with their lives, I'm happy to report that the local news station of record has not been so enlightened. Every single news story for the past week has been weather-related, and every single forecast has warned us that "things are going to get worse before they get better."
How many ways can you say, "Major employers in Seattle have decided to close their campuses?" Or, "People who drive too fast on the ice are getting into accidents?"
Watch the local news and count the ways.
June 03, 2006
A little while ago, I picked up a new digital camera. A year or two ago, when our friend Adrien came to visit, she brought along a camera and took some pictures that were just phenomenal. While having a skilled photographer and good lighting and a cooperative subject all come into play, having the right tool does help to get the job done. So, I eventually picked up a better camera, and the result has been that my occasional good shots are now better than they used to be.
When I get those really good quality shots, though, I hate to dumb them down by saving them in "economy mode" just so that my web page will load faster. So, thanks to my vanity of wanting to share these photos and my belief that increasingly, y'all are getting faster connections to the internet, I've decided to allow myself to post photos that run higher than 40K.
Well, okay. The one above is substantially more than 40K. I hope you'll forgive me.
I was taking care of the kids this past Thursday morning before heading into work, and Alex picked out the clothes he wanted to wear. Alex is into "matching" these days -- pointing out when the color of his socks match the color of his shirt, or of Nolan's shirt. or of my clothing, etc.
We make it easy on him, of course, by sticking pretty much to standard color themes. His shirts tend to be reds or blues, with a couple of outliers available for good measure. His pants and shorts are either blue or khaki. Socks similarly fall within a narrow color band, so it would be hard for him to pick clothes that clash.
But all that said, he does like to point out when things match. There is one shirt -- a blue "fish" hawaiian -- that we have in both his and in Nolan's sizes. On this particular Thursday, since Alex picked the shirt, I went ahead and put Nolan into a matching outfit. And then I felt like taking pictures.
The brothers remain good buddies. Nolan is a little bit crabby lately, as he copes with four molars coming in at once, but otherwise, we remain blessed with two beautiful, happy, healthy boys.
In my next post -- our first family movie outing since "Finding Nemo":
April 29, 2006
I've mentioned in the past that Alexander likes to be a big brother to little Nolan. Being a big brother is bringing out in him a tendency we'd noticed earlier -- that of occasionally being a "minder." It's interesting to watch this play out.
When I say that he can sometimes be a "minder," what I mean is that he will sometimes insist that other kids (or sometimes even his parents) follow The Rules. Here's an example from a few days ago: Alex and another kid are fighting over a toy at the playground. The parent of the other child is nowhere to be found -- these kinds of disputes don't seem to happen as frequently when parents of both children are present and attentive -- so I step over and announce to both kids that the toy is going to have a time out since they are unable to work it out between them. (I do not generally concern myself with "who started it" or "who was there first" unless there's an obvious bully -- that's all part of the negotiation process that the kids should/will work out.) The two eventually cease their fighting and move on to play elsewhere, this time more cooperatively.
Then a third child arrives at the playground and proceeds to play with the toy that had previously been in dispute. "No!" says Alex. "That has a time out!" He doesn't physically interfere, but his own toy is forgotten while he keeps insisting that the newcomer leave the first toy alone.
(And no, Daddy doesn't let that continue.)
He is not generally bossy, but rather he *occasionally* finds it appropriate to reiterate The Rules. In play situations, I haven't seen many other kids his age do this (although there've been a few), and I'm sure that all kids probably do this from time to time, albeit situationally. But what I find particularly interesting is how this Minder behavior is more pronounced in Alex with regard to his little brother.
Around the house lately, if we tell Nolan to do (or not do) something -- be it to play more gently with Mommy's Waterford crystal or to stop banging on the walls with Daddy's good claw hammer -- Alex repeats the command almost instantly and at least twice as loud. If Alex spies Nolan doing something that he (Alex) knows neither of them should be doing (like, say, drinking the Clorox), he'll immediately jump up and shout, "No, Nolan!"
--this brings to mind the one drawback that we'd considered about giving Nolan his name. A friend had suggested that with such a name, she wouldn't be able to help but call him "No-No Nolan." Because coming up with the name had been such a difficult process, we decided that it would be easier to get a new friend.
But I digress.
Regardless of whether this behavior of Alex's is typical for a big brother, I don't necessarily see anything bad about it. Granted, we do try to correct him -- as totalitarian dictators, we cannot have the proletariat believing that they are somehow part of the chain of command at Casa Rousselle, and Alex is too young to have read any Ayn Rand just yet, anyway. But it's interesting to see him experimenting with exerting authority within the confines of what he understands to be The Rules. Alexander may not always follow The Rules, but he's well aware of their existence.
And, insofar as Alex is in a "Why?" phase right now, it's also interesting to hear him volunteer explanations to his little brother. "No, Nolan! Don't pull on that! You could get hurt!"
As good exploitative parents, we have occasionally turned his Big Brotherness to our advantage. My apologies right now to non-parents who might be squeamish about such topics, but toilet training is an excellent example. During the toilet training process, closing the door is one of the activities of least concern. As Alexander is doing better with the other steps, however, we've been able to add this last step by invoking his role as a Minder:
"Hey, Alex, don't forget to close the door so that Nolan doesn't come in and play in the toilet water."
Getting him to close the door out of politeness is a hit or miss prospect. But as a Big Brother, he's happy to do it out of concern for Nolan.
My entry here has been focusing on Big Brother as a keeper of The Rules, but to be fair, I need to mention that Alexander is a good brother all around. They play well together, and Alex is often offering to "help" Nolan with new tasks, such as opening presents, blowing out birthday cake candles, etc.
...and if there are any parallels here between Big Brotherhood and the role of government, I'm sure they are just coincidental.
April 12, 2006
A few days ago, Nolan turned one year old.
Things have been rather hectic at Casa Rousselle lately. I had a major project due at work, and my resulting long hours at the office have created a time pinch at home. (Notice there've been no blog entries for a little while, as well.) At least one significant birthday at the end of March went completely unobserved, and Paulette had to work without any help from me to pull together a birthday celebration for Nolan this past Monday.
It's amazing how much more quickly time seems to be passing with Nolan than it did with Alexander. I'm sure that a big part of that is simply the issue of novelty: Alex was the first, so every new thing (and every new worry) was amplified by our inexperience. With Nolan, time is not slowing down for us to marvel at each new milestone.
This does not mean we are not marvelling. Quite the contrary. Nolan walks with more confidence each time I see him, his vocalization is increasingly distinct (I wonder what his first actual word will be!), and he becomes more beautiful every day.
His eyes remain a stunning blue, and his hair is slowly coming in fine and blond, just like dear old dad (and older brother). Funny thing about appearances: lately, whenever the four of us go somewhere together, the universal observation is that Alex mostly takes after his mom while Nolan looks more like his dad. I still think both kids take quite a bit of their appearance from both of us, but why quibble? They're both adorable.
(Translation: YOU MUST ADORE THEM NOW! ADORE THEM!)
Nolan's birthday started off with a trip to the doctor's office. It's important, I think, to start a kid's special day with Big Honking Shots in both legs that are painful, itchy, and full of disease.
After a day packed full of swimming and museums and some clandestine birthday prepping, Nolan was treated to seeing Dad come home sometime before bedtime. Dinner was followed by chocolate birthday cake -- Nolan's first exposure to chocolate... and I'm not so sure that he liked it -- and Alex helped him to blow out the candle.
Alex also helped his little brother open the Big Present for the day: a huuuge bag of a couple hundred colorful plastic balls. We opened up the bag in Alex's room (where we had the kid's pop-up tent set up) and the rest of the evening was spent smacking around the buckets o' balls.
For me, it remains great fun to watch the kids figure things out. The joy of discovery is contagious. One of the most beautiful things about the kids at their current ages is that discovery is almost always play. I must have had at least as much fun watching the kids play with Nolan's big birthday present(s) as they did playing with them.
When Alexander was born, Paulette and I had the situation (what we saw as a problem) of being equally underemployed and the two of us were handling our freelance work from out of the home. This meant that we shared about as equally as any two parents can in the child-rearing duties. As I believe I've commented elsewhere on this blog, that is no longer the case, nor has it been for a couple of years. I am now over-employed, which has resulted in Paulette assuming the bulk of the responsibility for taking care of the kids.
This is proving to be problematic for both of us. Paulette needs more time to work for her graphic design clients, and the constant attention that the children require can sometimes wear her out. I, on the other hand, miss having more quality time with both of my sons, and I'm further bummed that I'm missing quite a bit of Nolan's infancy and now toddlerhood.
Striking a good work/life balance is difficult, and it seems to be quite the rallying cry in the high-tech sector these days. I'm still not sure how I'm going to resolve it for myself. Gotta pay the bills, true. But I need to be a parent to my children, as well, not to mention a husband to my wife.
Which brings us back to Nolan's birthday, the joy of discovery, and trying to figure things out. Before I can show Nolan how to juggle all those balls, I'm going to have to practice getting a little bit better at it myself, first.
March 07, 2006
I am told that late this afternoon, Nolan walked his first few steps without holding onto anything.
February 26, 2006
At ten and a half months, Nolan is getting ready to walk. What he does these days is pull himself or lean himself into a standing position against any neighboring wall or furniture or toy that will support his weight, and then try his best to side-step walk his way as far as he can go and still have support. He might occasionally take one or two steps to get to the next object that he can hold onto, but more often if he gets to a gap, he'll gently lower down into a crawling position, scoot over to the next object, and stand back up. Tonight (when this photo to the right was taken), Nolan lapped the living room several times while Paulette and I wound down for the evening watching the box de l'idiot.
I recently acquired a brand new camera, which has much cooler features and boots up much faster than our previous dealy. So far, I have yet to figure out if I can make this thing work any better in low light settings than I could manage with the previous camera, but I'm still getting some decent shots. Alas, alack, Nolan doesn't seem to be smiling in as many of the good shots as he does in the slightly blurry ones.
The fact is, Nolan is rather a smiley guy. When he's not recovering from a cold -- as he has been these past few days -- he smiles every bit as much as Alexander ever did (and still does). His favorite activity these days, it seems to me, is to convince his daddy to hold him upside down and shake him for loose change. Boy, does that bring out the giggles. He's also just starting to be ticklish, which is providing no end of fun for his big brother to exploit.
Nolan is starting to sign to us now. We haven't been as diligent about using signs with Nolan as we had been with Alexander at this age, yet he's picking up on our feeble attempts, nonetheless. He's signing for "all done" (arms straight up), "hello" (waving -- he uses both hands, which is durn cute), and he may possibly be getting the idea for how to sign for "more" and/or "eat". He claps, too, which is more of a programmed behavior for his age than a genuine sign, but we love to clap back and it just brings out more smiles. He likes to mimic us shaking our heads for "No", but hasn't quite gotten the hang of nodding for "Yes."
A couple of days ago, when I posted an entry about how Alexander is doing, it occurred to me to worry about short-changing Nolan. He is the second child, and I don't want to give anyone the impression that he's any less important to me or Paulette than Alex is. I also knew while I was preparing Alex's entry that I'd be posting about the little guy with an entry all his own, soon enough. But it remains a concern. Are we giving him enough quality time and attention? Are we letting Alex hog the show? And, for that matter, are we being unfair to Alex when we have to drop what we're doing with the older child to make sure the younger child is okay? I think about it, and I do what I can to address it, but that doesn't mean that I'm managing to get the balance exactly right.
Nolan chews stuff. He puts stuff in his mouth all the time. Not vegetables... he knows better than to try gnawing on a soft veggie we put before him. But newspapers? Clothing? I'm well aware that this is normal behavior, but it means we have to child proof some things differently from the way we had to for Alex at the same age. The only non-food that Alex ever made a habit of putting in his mouth was any foam toys -- nerf balls, bathtub letters, that sort of thing.
So consider the following picture, with which I shall close today's entry. This is from tonight, and we see Alex and Nolan playing in their playroom. Alex has a jingle bell toy, which he was playing with but is now putting into his mouth, while Alexander considers a bite mark in one of his nerf footballs. I love the juxtaposition. And yet... who put that bite mark there? There is no guarantee that it was Nolan. Alex has chewed on foam toys that we know of as recently as a couple of months ago.
As the two get older, I fear that knowing just who did what damage is going to become increasingly difficult.
Nolan Theodore Rousselle, as photographed February 14th, 2006.
Alexander Benjamin Rousselle, as photographed February 17th, 2003.
Brothers. Definitely Brothers.
February 18, 2006
The conventional wisdom shared by most folks I know is that small children understand more than we give them credit for.
I'm not inclined to agree. Three and a half years of up-close-and-personal observation convinces me that satire, irony, regret, and other somewhat complex concepts are simply not ready for primetime in the small child's world.
But memory? That's a completely different kettle of fish. Kids have an amazing memory. This stands to reason, of course: how else can they seem to learn language overnight, other than by storing away what they hear until they can figure it out, then pull it out and use it for themselves?
Alex recently showed a profound demonstration of just how sharp his memory is. The parents were otherwise occupied, and Alexander was looking for something to do. He slinked off and found his step stool from the downstairs bathroom and carried it over to the kitchen. There, he pawwed around the higher cabinet shelves until he located the face paint we'd bought for his halloween costume (and hadn't used).
But did he remember what it was and what it was for? Oh, yes he did. He took the face paint into the bathroom and proceeded to paint his face. And his hands. And his arms. Well, and the sink and the walls, too, but I don't think that was as intentional. He applied the paint so thick on himself, it looked like he was wearing rubber gloves up to his elbows.
After one parent noticed -- Hey! I've been having a nice long phone conversation without any interruptions! Hey! Wait a minute! -- Alexander was pretty much standing around waiting to be caught. There wasn't much mess to clean up aside from the child, himself, but the trick was to take advantage of the photo op without laughing and making Alex think it was all okay.
I'm guessing he understood.
Another recent event for the little guy was paying a visit to Mr Rogers' Neighboorhood. There is apparently a touring exhibit from the long-running television show, and it began a four-month long stint at the local children's museum. Among other things, they had a main room modeled after Mr Rogers' living room, complete with sweaters that the kids could try on. (They also had one of the original sweaters that had actually been worn by the late Fred Rogers, behind glass.) Alex tried on each of the sweaters in turn. In this photo, the maroon sweater looks more like a Hogwarts uniform on Alex than a sweater.
Alexander watches the show on a fairly regular basis. Aside from a few DVDs in our collection, the only television that he's allowed is Sesame Street, Mr Rogers, and something called Between the Lions. He already loves the children's museum, so this new exhibit was tres cool. Opening day events included a visit from Mr. McFeeley (sp?), a longtime resident of Mr Rogers' Neighborhood.
Now, I recall that the show was popular back when I was a kid, so that autmatically means the show has had a very, very long run. But they were showing an episode recently that came from the early seventies, and the letter carrier (postman? mailman? whatever they called him then) dude was on the show and talking about his *grandchild*. So, the dude was already getting on in years even then. And this guy is still making personal appearances thirty-plus years later. Pretty cool.
Mr. McFeeley still seems spry, and still has a boyish grin. Alexander enjoyed meeting him, although it's quite likely that the older generation got more of a kick out of seeing the Speedy Delivery guy than our child of the 'aughts.
[Nolan was there, too, but he's not so big on television just yet.]
Our oldest son continues to amaze with his ever-expanding articulateness, his increasing autonomy, and developing personality. He has a mind for mechanics, as he demonstrates by taking apart his toy airplane with his toy tools (literally -- the plastic bi-plane was designed with big plastic bolts so that it could be taken apart and re-assembled) and, occasionally, even putting parts of it back together. He likes to pull out his toy tools and mimic me when I work on projects around the house. His play, in general, continues to get more complex.
And as always (so far), he continues to look out for little brother.
January 24, 2006
Alexander: Nolan gave me the train!
Me: No he didn't. You took it from him.
Alexander: He gave me.
Me: I watched you take it from him. You reached over and grabbed it.
Alexander: He gave it to me!
Alexander: Where's Mommy?
Me: She's at work. She'll be home soon.
Alexander: Where's Nolan?
Me: He's here in bed. Let him sleep.
Alexander: NOLAN, WHERE ARE YOU?!?!
Me: Shhh. Maybe we can still get him back to sleep.
Alexander: (jumping up and down on bed) NO! LAN! NO! LAN! NO! LAN!
Me: Thank you for making the world a better place through your cooperation.
December 10, 2005
Nolan is simply amazing. He has already started crawling forward (at the same age as Alexander did -- which is no mean feat, given that Nolan is carrying around quite a few more pounds than his older brother did at that age) and his new favorite pastime is pulling himself up into a standing position, walking around the edge of the table or couch he's holding onto, and then falling down and bonking his head on the nearest piece of furniture. If he is unable to find a good solid piece of furniture to bonk his head on, he just whacks his head on the floor with as loud a ]thunk[ as he can manage.
He smiles all the time (except when he falls and hits his head), and is gurgling and cooing all kinds of sounds. His upper front teeth are breaking through, which has involved some degree of teething discomfort, but he's doing okay.
These past few mornings, Paulette has been getting up early to do some of her freelance graphic design work before it's my turn to head to the office to start my own work day. Thus, I am taking care of the kids from the time they wake up until Paulette is done with whatever she needs to do that morning. Nolan has been getting me up at roughly 5:30 or 6:00 each morning, but he's going back to sleep faster and faster each time I try to sooth him back to sleep. By 7:30am, he's just not interested in sleep, so he and I will typically go downstairs to play until his big brother comes down to join us.
As a late night person, I hate getting up early. But I'm loving spending these morning hours with my boys. They're happy to see me, we have a great time going through the morning routine (getting them fed and dressed is a game we all like to play, not a chore), and it gives me a chance to connect with them with no distractions. The work day arrives soon enough, and the evenings are too little time with too much that has to get done before they go to bed.
All that said, as Nolan's personality becomes more and more pronounced, interacting with him in the morning is increasingly special. He's just so delightful. Inquisitive and smart, definitely, but also pleasant and laid back -- all while showing a certain amount of determination. I've used these same words to describe Alexander, and both guys are about as easy as I can imagine children their age to be. Sure, their poop still stinks... but it's still easy to clean them up, too.
But while both boys have a sunny disposition, it's clear that Nolan and Alexander are shaping up a little bit differently. It's hard to put my finger on, just yet, but it's there. Some differences are probably just situational -- Nolan is still at a stage of discovery where little bothers him because everything is still new.
Nolan is taking to solid food more easily than his big brother did at the same age, and this surprises us not at all. Nolan has always been a bit bigger than Alex at the same age, and it wouldn't surprise me if Nolan outweighs Alexander within a couple of years. Nolan isn't constantly hungry, but neither does he completely refuse solid food when offered. His favorite right now is sweet potatoes. Must get that from his mother's side.
Happily, though, as he practices standing and side-walking and crawling, he's also turning that baby fat into muscle. This kid is solidifying quite nicely. (Unlike dumpy Dad.)
I have to admit that I get rather irritated at the general impression that our society has about the incompetence of fathers. Movies and other entertainment media reinforce the idea that dads are only good for teaching baseball (if that) and offering bad dating advice to their boys. Horse shit.
I change diapers, feed with bottle or spoon, rearrange rooms to make a safe play area, and supervise as much or as little as needed, depending upon the situation. I enjoy it all. I wish I could spend more time raising our sons than I'm currently able to do. I've offered to swap the workload (child-rearing versus job) with Paulette, but she's not going for that.
When Alex was born, I was underemployed. Most of my work was free-lance, and I did it at my home office, much like Paulette's work situation. Thus, Paulette and I split the efforts of raising Alexander pretty much fifty-fifty. I'm not capable of breast feeding, but Paulette wasn't capable of waking up in the middle of the night to take care of a crying baby, so we had a balance that worked out pretty well. For the record, I changed almost all of Alex's diapers for the first several months. Not that I'm keeping score -- I'm just trying to refute the "Cheaper By the Dozen" and "Daddy Day Care" presentation of fathers as being completely out of touch with taking care of children.
By the time Nolan came around, I was back to being fully employed and working out of an office away from the house. I'm therefore not getting as much quality time with Nolan as I did with Alexander at this age. (And, for the record, Paulette has arguably changed substantially more of Nolan's diapers than I have changed.)
As a result, this current arrangement where I take care of the kids in the morning is proving to be extra special. I'm getting that time with Nolan that I wouldn't otherwise get. At night, the ritual involves me putting Alexander to bed -- reading, teeth brushing, etc. Paulette takes care of Nolan in the evening. Now, finally, I get to spend that time with Nolan in the morning that I don't get at any other time of the day.
So why am I babbling so much about this? Because now I get to see more smiles from our little guy. When he smiles, it just lights up the world. It starts my day off on the best possible footing.
I'm starting to see the person Nolan is becoming, and I love what I see.
When I was a young'un, my mother used to tell us kids how quickly time was flying by, and how much more quickly it seemed to fly by as we all got older. She was particularly fond of mentioning this as we approached the Christmas season, when I or my sib would express our desire for Christmas to hurry up and arrive.
But of course, I now have the opportunity to experience that exact phenomenon. Talk about time flying by quickly! The subject came up recently regarding how long Alexander had been sleeping in his own bed on a regular basis, and me realizing that we moved him to his "big boy bed" on New Year's Day (or thereabouts), 2005. Only a year ago. Heyyyy, wait a minute. A year ago? "Only" a year ago?!
Where did the time go? Where did 2005 go? It seems like just a few weeks ago we were worried about whether his potty training would be far enough along in time for him to start pre-school... and, well, that was months ago.
Baby is growing up fast. So many things we'd worried about -- sleep, potty, teething, pacifier, etc. -- are ancient history in a snap. Now we're dealing with questions like what we'll be looking for in a school for him, whether we should enroll him in a gymnastics class, that kind of thing. (More on the subject of education in another post, coming very soon.)
Alex is becoming increasingly articulate. Now when he describes his day at school, I can almost understand what he's saying. And when we picked out our Christmas tree this year, he made it very clear that "I want presents."
I believe I may have noted elsewhere that for the first year or two of his life, I referred to him as Alexander while his mother called him Alex. The shorter form of his name is winning out, as it's easier for his young friends to say and other moms follow Paulette's lead, not mine. No problem. So I've been calling him Alex lately. A day or two ago, he corrected me. "My name is Alexander."
"You want me to call you Alexander instead of Alex."
"Yyyyyup." (I think he got this particular speech mannerism from me.)
At school, there are two Alexes in his class, so our son is known as "Alex R.". Not much of a stretch from Alex R. to Alexander. And I'm pretty certain he remembers me calling him Alexander on a regular basis, even though it's been a while.
But back to time flying by in such a hurry--
I recently downloaded the pictures from our digital camera onto one of our computers, and we had only started taking pictures as we entered the Fall season. Images of him and Nolan in their Halloween outfits kicked things off. And here we are, now, having just passed by Thanksgiving and we are rushing at breakneck speed toward Christmas.
Zip, zip. Time zips by so fast that you could miss something important if you blink.
It snowed here toward the very end of November. Where we live, we typically get snow once or twice in a given winter, every other year. This time around, it fell (and stuck) for about three or four days. (As I write this, the snow has been gone for a little while.) Unfortunately for me, the snow days began while I was out of town on business -- Houston, where there was no snow to speak of.
This was good, big, wet snow. Excellent for snowball fights and making snow men. Paulette and Alexander made a couple of snowmen that first day, using up pretty much all of the snow that was available in our front yard at the time. She took photos for me to see -- this isn't the first time Alex has seen snow, but it is the first time he has actively participated in building a snow man.
I was lucky that by the time I returned, more new snow had fallen and Alexander and I had a chance to build a couple more snowmen. Way fun.
But these kids are growing up so fast! ... a fact that is driven home to me when Alex expresses his preference for me to call him Alexander.
November 13, 2005
For what it's worth, Alexander still enjoys being a big brother. Nolan still enjoys having Alex to play with him.
...but, where *do* they get their excellent taste in shirts?
November 06, 2005
Alexander continues to be quite the world explorer. He enjoys going to new places with his mom and dad (like in this shot at "Hurricane Ridge" on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State), totally digs his outings at the zoo and the aquarium and the park, and continues to enjoy trains and planes and dinosaurs.
What with Halloween and various museum exhibits and various illustrations in dinosaur books, he has shown interest in skeletons and bones which we are encouraging. As he plays with "Bonz" -- a kind of erector set with plastic bones instead of beams and girders -- he's showing an aptitude for mechanical motion, as well.
Alex has an understanding of numbers. He can count up through ten (although six sometimes is missing from the line-up), he can display the correct number of fingers when he counts one through five, and he has even drawn the numbers six and seven on more than one occasion. He is happy to tell you that he turned "three" (and he knows that means "three years", even though he may not be so clear on what a year is, and he seems to forget that this event happened a while ago) and that his baby brother is "six" (and now often remembers to say "six months", although whether he understands the concept of month is also open for debate). He knows that six is more than three but that he is older than his brother. And he has recently decided that his mom is "seven".
His speech gets more interesting every day. He's experimenting with modifiers ("quite" is very popular right now, as in "That's quite silly!") and he loves to explain things to anyone who will listen.
Alex began attending pre-school this year, and we had our first parent-teacher conference just this past week. The teacher commented that he is very calm "for a first child"; that he is good about getting his things out and putting them away and he shows a longer attention span than is typical for three-year-olds. The teacher also noted that he seems to be very good with puzzles, and he shows more interest in letters than many three-year-olds.
These are good things for us to know, since we can hardly be objective when it comes to comparing Alex to others at his age group. He *is* learning his letters of the alphabet, but it's good to know that he's doing well with them to the point of being noticed by his teacher. As for puzzles (jigsaw and other physical puzzles) -- he has surprised both Paulette and me with how well he does with them.
Of course, skeptic that I am, I also realize that the teacher is going to highlight what he is doing well and not what he may be lagging at. I wouldn't expect to hear, "Your son is a bit of a dullard when it comes to numbers," or, "Alex says some pretty crazy shit. What language do you speak at home?"
When the teacher asked us if we had any goals for Alex in school, I mentioned "Just that he be able to read War & Peace all the way through by the end of the year." I swear, for maybe a half a moment, I was taken at my word.
I wanted to respond, "No, not really. The first chapter would suffice." But I was afraid that I'd be marked down as one of those overly aggressive parents who expect too much of their children. The teacher *was* taking notes, as we talked, and didn't seem to be sure that I was joking.
Do they have a way of linking your child's permanent record with that of your own? [shudder]
Story idea: Homeland Security gets its hands on everybody's "permanent records" from school. Hilarity ensues when they detain the protagonist at the airport upon learning that the protagonist once got into trouble for "accidentally" starting a small fire in Shop class in high school....
October 12, 2005
One of the most amazing things that I am noticing about our boys is that they are always growing. A little taller here, a little more facial definition there, a little better coordination the next. All the time.
Lately, the big thing for both Nolan and Alexander has been how much taller they've been getting lately, and how much their cognitive abilities are shaping up.
Monday marked Nolan's six month birthday, and Wednesday he gets his check-up at the pediatrician's office. We had intended to give him his first taste of "solid" food (rice cereal, oh that's solid, ho, ho) on Monday, but the pace at Casa Rousselle has been way too hectic for us to introduce this radical change into our lives. What's that, you say? How radical is letting the kid slurp a few spoonfuls of powdered rice in milk? Feeding him in a high chair, while new for Nolan, wouldn't be the problem. Dealing with the changes at the other end of his digestive tract is another matter.
But while we have staved off Nolan's encounters with new and exciting cuisine, his life is no less full of change. He has begun to not only roll over, but roll over and over and over in both directions. He pivots. He's gotten into crawling position just a couple of days ago, and we won't be surprised if he begins crawling at a much younger age than Alexander had.
At six months, Alex's hair was thin, but it looked like he might end up with possibly red or possibly brown hair. Of course, he's about as blond as blond can be these days. Nolan's hair is just now starting to come in, and very early indications are that he looks very blond. We'll see how that works out. Paulette says that his hair will probably darken as he gets older, even if he does start out a blond. She may be right (it happened to my maternal grandmother in her late teens, and even to me to a lesser extent), but then again, maybe she just doesn't want to be stuck in a house full of blonds.
Nolan remains a very pleasant fellow, with generally little to complain about and plenty of coy smiles and coos to go around. He enjoys studying his toys, and likes to sit at the dinner table with us even though we haven't introduced him to steak, yet.
It should come as no surprise that he's a social kid. He loves to hang out with his parents and with his big brother. He particularly loves to watch Alex dance and sing and run around, and big brother is all to happy to ham it up for his young, captive audience.
I've mentioned how hectic things are around the house lately. Paulette's work situation and my job situation and Alex starting a pre-school program have all been combining to create a bit of a scheduling burden. We still mostly manage to have a family dinner toward the end of the day, but usually I don't get much other time with the kids during the weekdays (although I do have a routine putting Alexander to bed, which is nice). The fact that job and certain volunteer activities and family life are all tugging at my calendar leaves no time for other worthwhile pursuits (like exercising, writing, or sleeping). I guess this is part of the current American situation: working more to make more but enjoying it less. Bust butts to afford the bigger house in the suburbs, then spend hardly any time there, etc., etc. Weh, weh, weh, and all that.
But I will say that all of this frenetic activity forces one to prioritize and get clear on what's important. And for me, it's obvious not only that family has to rank number one, but it has to assume some *urgency* on the priority list. Our children are growing up so fast! I need to be with them as much as I can manage now, because their childhood won't come this way again.
August 21, 2005
Paulette and I had a little bit of trepidation at first over how Alexander might receive his baby brother. Nolan arrived a mere three weeks after we moved into the new house, and Alex had already had to adapt to quite a bit of upheaval.
Fortunately, Alex took to his brother much more easily than he took to the new house. He is very affectionate and gentle with Nolan. He loves to make sure Nolan has a toy to play with, and he often goes up to Nolan and announces "Smiles! Smiles!" Whenever Paulette and the kids leave and I kiss Alex goodbye, he insists that I make sure to kiss Nolan goodbye, too. That kind of thing.
Perhaps the transition has worked easily with Alex, in part, because we make sure to spend a little bit of quality time just with him. When we go for our evening walks each day, Nolan (and Paulette) may or may not join us, but Alex leads the delegation. The bed time ritual, with reading and tooth brushing and changing clothes and all that, is one-on-one time between Daddy and Alex. Paulette, likewise, has a number of activities that are very much Alex-focused.
Nolan, to be sure, gets his own time with Mommy and Daddy. Nursing aside, Nolan gets Paulette's exclusive attention at bath time and in the early mornings and late evenings before Alex gets up and after Alex goes to bed. Nolan gets tummy time and air time and time to enjoy the mobile in his crib. He also ends up sleeping in our big bed most mornings after his 5am feeding. I don't get as much exclusive time with Nolan as I do with Alex -- very much to my chagrin -- but as my schedule gets a little more sane (which *is* happening), that, too, shall improve.
And as far as brotherhood goes, Nolan is absolutely fascinated by Alex. I'll often catch Nolan staring at me or at his mother intently, but even more frequently he'll focus all of his attention upon his older brother. When the television happens to be on for Alex (we're not really putting anything on for Nolan just now), Nolan studies Alex, not the TV.
I realize that what is happening now has no real bearing on how the future will play out. Paulette and I both grew up with siblings and our respective relationships with the sibs have varied wildly over time. Continue to vary. I'd like to think that we both currently enjoy good, healthy relationships with our sibs as adults, but there've certainly been some interesting rough patches along the way. I harbor no illusion that today's affection means that Alex will never have any issues with his younger brother, and visa versa. But we'll continue to encourage Alex's being a good big brother, and we'll continue to give both of them attention separately as well as together.
I'm fascinated to watch how all of these dynamics develop.
August 20, 2005
Now, I don't mention it often on this site, but I was not an only child. The reason I am generally vague about siblingness is that there are members of my family who prefer not to have any information posted about them on the internet. This is completely reasonable in this crazy world, but I obviously have made different choices. In an effort to respect the wishes of said family members, however, while still discussing issues of import to myself, I tend to be vague about these family members and only mention what little might be necessary to make my point.
I had noted earlier on these pages that a client of mine was (is) a second child and lamented the lack of photos of her childhood. When I mentioned this to a sibling of mine (who, as you might surmise, is younger than me), I was greeted with similar concern. Second children, it would appear, may be made to feel as if they were not quite as big a deal in their parents' lives as their elder sibs.
[Let's leave for another day the discussion as to whether these feelings are justified because hey -- people feel the way they do regardless of any objective "truth."]
Nolan may not be quite as well documented yet as his brother was at this age, but he's doing quite well, nonetheless. He continues to enjoy a very pleasant disposition, which means that if his cries of discomfort are more rare, they are also responded to a bit more quickly than his brother's were at this age.
He still loves to smile at anyone who smiles at him, and his eyes remain the most fascinating shade of blue. True, Alexander's eyes were still blue at this age (they are currently fluctuating between a kind of grey-blue and a greeny-grey hue), but not like this. These are, as any silk-screen printer would recognize, an uncompromising "reflex blue". Nolan has a strong neck and holds his head up high. He remains proportionally large for his age -- something like 97th percentile for height and weight and 95th for head circumference.
As with anybody, these physical attributes are highly subject to rapid change (they certainly did change for Alex between four months and one year), but they remain the first things you notice when you meet him.
He's increasingly alert, and he loves to be around people. As I think I may have mentioned before, he also loves music. He kicks and gurgles and coos whenever something's playing. He has recently started to practice with his voice -- every once in a while, I catch him making different sounds in a very experimental fashion. "Ahhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhh? Ahhhhhhhh. Gheeeeeeeeeeeee. Ahhhhhhhhhh." If his talkative older brother ever lets him get a word in, edgewise, I think he'll be quite a talker, himself.
Today, Nolan spent much of the day trying to roll over from being on his back to being on his belly. He didn't succeed, but I think I learned a valuable lesson from his attempts: no matter what your goals in life, no matter how trivial they may seem, you may as well give up now because you are doomed to failure.
August 19, 2005
July 20th marked Alex's third birthday, and we celebrated in much the same way as we did his previous two birthdays: a quiet outing with friends at a neighborhood park.
A dear friend who lives in Canada and who was among the first to meet Alex came down and presented him with a couple of "I Spy" books, which he absolutely loves. If you have any kids near the age of three, or are otherwise inclined to purchase a gift for a three-year-old-ish child, I heartily recommend I Spy. They are coffee table books with large photos of small items that make for wonderful pattern-recognition games. And anything that helps foster a love of books can't be bad.
In addition to inviting friends of ours and Alex that go back to early play groups and the like, we also invited neighborhood moms and dads and kids we have recently started to get to know. Most showed up, much to our delight, and there was plenty of cake and lemonade to go around. These are the kids Alex is likely to go to school with and grow up with for the foreseeable future, and I'm happy to report that they all seem like a great bunch, with parents who are like-minded with Paulette and me.
A couple of weeks after his birthday, Alexander went with Nolan for his three-year (and Nolan's four-month) checkup. The doctor reports that Alexander is no longer at the very lowest end for his age group of height and weight, which makes Mom and Dad breathe a big sigh of relief. He's still on the small and light side of normal, but the doctor is happy with his progress and is no longer worried for his health (as was the case, at one point a little while ago).
There are several photos I've taken that I've refrained from posting here because of how skin-and-bones Alex can sometimes appear. This is not for lack of us making food available to him. He's just not interested in food. Good news for him in the future, I'm sure (if my own weight issues are any indication), but at this young age it's important that his body have the raw materials needed to make growing bones and muscles and all that.
Alex continues to have a healthy interest in trains and planes. A month or so ago, we all drove down to a tree-harvesting museum which featured a train tour of a 1910's logging camp. Naturally, Alex loved the train ride while his parents enjoyed the historical tidbits.
Given the terribly long hours and hard (not to mention dangerous) conditions that loggers worked under at the beginning of the last century, it amazes me that they would opt for that kind of work at all. As mentally exhausting as I sometimes find my own job, I'm living and working in the lap of luxury compared to many. As a history major, I am often amazed at people who complain about how "everything is getting worse." Au contraire. Everything is getting better. We may not have attained utopia or paradise, but we're doing a farsight better than previous generations.
My parents visited us recently, as well, and we took Alex to the Boeing Museum of Flight. My father is a pilot, and so it was an opportunity for all of the three generations to enjoy displays that likewise spanned the generations. As with the logging museum, I'm sure we all took away different appreciations from the experience. Like my father, I hope one day to earn my pilot's license. It's nice that the three of us -- dad, me, and my oldest son -- can all share this appreciation for flight, even if we all do so at a different level. I look forward to taking Alex along on a flight with his grandpa piloting before too long.
Encouraged by Alex's continuing interest in planes, Paulette suggested that we attend the Arlington Air Show that was held here not too long ago. I was pleasantly surprised to notice during our day-long outing that Paulette was every bit as interested in the show and the exhibits as Alex or myself. I get the impression that she might be looking forward to the time when we can take trips as a family in something other than a commercial (read: inconvenient) flight. She has also become more aware of airplane-related news.
Learning to fly is still a little ways off in my future. I've got other bills to pay and other demands on my time to meet. But the circumstances of my life seem to support the notion that we are moving in that direction.
In addition to trains and planes, Alex continues to be excited by books (of which we have plenty, and are always getting more) and... dinosaurs. Is anybody out there aware of a dinosaur petting zoo where we might take Alex?
July 28, 2005
Earlier this month (July 10th, to be exact), Nolan turned three months old.
He had a doctor visit. The doctor says he's healthy. Very healthy. The kid remains a very happy, healthy, and all-around mild-mannered baby. Here is a photo of him taken just a few days prior to the big 3 MO:
His next doctor check up will be his four-month visit, which we scheduled for the same time as Alexander's three-year-old visit. We'll be asking the doctor if we should be worried that Nolan never gets sick. :-)
Taken earlier this month when Paulette and kids treated me to a picnic lunch break:
June 10, 2005
One of my clients remarked to me that she was a second child, and therefore had many fewer photos of her as a kid than her older sibling had. Now that we have our second child, I can see how that happens.
But if we don't take snapshots anywhere as near as often with Nolan as we did with Alex at this age, Nolan nonetheless has no complaints about his home life. When he's hungry, he's fed. When he's uncomfortable, he gets changed. And when he's sleepy, he sleeps. He gets lots of hugs and kisses from his mommy, his daddy, and his very affectionate big brother.
Nolan sleeps a great deal more than our previous experience led us to expect, but for all that, he's still a generally happy guy when he's awake. At two months, he has just started to show more inquisitiveness about his surroundings. I took these photos during my lunch break today, and you can see that he's an alert and curious little guy. (In the full version of the first photo, you can see my reflection in his right eye. Wacky.)
Like everyone else in his immediate family, Nolan loves music. His favorite toy right now is the mobile that hangs over his crib that plays Mozart and Bach while little stuffed animals circle about. He's learning to smile and coo now, which is a joy for his parents. And big brother Alex loves to pat him on the head and give him kisses.
When Alexander was born, Paulette and I were both equally underemployed (we were both working from home, but neither of us had a full work load), so we took turns changing diapers and bathing and holding and lulling to sleep, and generally had an equal distribution of the work. Now, however, I have a more than full workload, while Paulette's workload has remained about the same. As a result, she's been picking up the slack while I'm attending to clients. She changes the majority of the diapers, gives the baths and the cuddling, and all that with Nolan.
When I'm available, I often find myself taking Alex out for walks or giving him his bath, etc., so that Paulette can enjoy some down time. Remember, Nolan sleeps a *lot*. This means, however, that Nolan's quality time is primarily spent with his mother, while Alex is getting pretty equal time between mom and dad. I don't mind saying that I'm a little bummed by this -- with regard to Nolan, that is.
I shouldn't be bothered by it -- Paulette and I are great partners in parenting, and it's become clear that everything will even out over time. It's only natural that Nolan would be soothed more quickly by mom when she is his exclusive source of food and the primary source of his comfort these days. That said, though, I look forward to being able to spend more time with the little guy and for the two of us to get to know each other better.
As I've commented on other occasions about Alex, it's clear to me that Nolan is an intelligent and playful little guy. He likewise has a very pleasant disposition.
Paulette and I are so amazingly blessed to have such wonderful children.
April 28, 2005
What color will his hair be? What color eyes will he have? Will he get along with his older brother? Will he have his mother's eyesight or mine? Will he be athletic? Will he be an extrovert? What kind of temperment will he have? How can I be the best possible father I can be for him? How can I help him to become the best person he can be?
All in good time, grasshopper. All in good time.
April 22, 2005
Between Nolan being on an inversed schedule -- sleep all day and stay up feeding (or, if not feeding, crying to be fed) all night -- and Alex's recurring homesick blues (he likes the new house, but is confused that we haven't returned "home", and so his insecurity at night has ratcheted up a bit), nobody's getting much sleep at Casa Rousselle.
That doesn't stop us from generally doing well during the day. I've been getting back to some level of productivity at work (although, when I tried to kick caffeine a few weeks ago, that was *definitely* the wrong week to try that).
Even Alex is getting into the "professional" act. We went to have our taxes prepared at a certain national chain a couple of weeks ago (just before Nolan arrived), and our appointment was late in the evening so that there were very few people there. Alex watched us working with the accountant, and then went to one of the vacant desks and played out what he saw. The guy was a total professional. And very, very cute about it.
I'll be posting more photos soon of Nolan, I promise. For logistical reasons, I've been unable to download any more photos to my computer just yet. But it will happen soon. Really!
In the meantime, I'm probably drinking twice as much caffeine during the day as I had immediately prior to quitting. This isn't about addiction... except so far as I'm hopelessly addicted to sleep, and the withdrawal symptoms are overwhelming. I may have to eventually go back to sleeping again. THEN, perhaps, I can kick the caffeine. It seems like I need one or the other.
April 15, 2005
Let me begin by posting a photo of our much loved Nolan Theodore, taken just hours after he was born. I will point out that, in this photo, he looks an awful lot like Alexander did at the age of one or two months. Amazing what a couple of extra pounds will do:
Once we knew that Baby 2.0 would be a boy, we had to get serious about picking a name.
Paulette and I have a long list of names that we'd like to use for a daughter or daughters. But coming up with boys names, for some reason, has proven to be harder.
We did not know before our first was born whether he would turn out to be a boy or a girl, so we had to prepare for both contingencies. We knew that if we had a girl, our first choice was a family name from Paulette's side in the family that would, in effect, be naming the girl after her mother (and mother's mother, and mother's mother's mother). It was Paulette's idea that if we had a boy, we should name him after his father, in a similarly derivative fashion.
The story goes like this: while growing up, I'd look in various dictionaries to see what my name meant, and typically came across an entry that would say that Allan/Alan/Allen was derived from Alexander/Alexandra. My sister Sandra's name, likewise, is derived from Alexandra.
This was a coincidence that my parents neither knew of beforehand, nor expected, nor intended. But there it was, and I always thought that was an interesting coincidence.
On the basis of my telling Paulette this story, she suggested that we pick Alexander as the first name of our first born, if he should prove to be a boy (which he did). This way, Alex would be named after his father (and aunt) without having *exactly* the same name. In case you're wondering, his second name came down to a choice between Ivan and Benjamin. In the end, we decided to honor one of the more interesting thinkers and tinkerers involved with the American Revolution rather than paying homage to my interest and background in Russian studies.
(Names are to be picked at least as much on the basis of how they sound as by what they mean. "Alexander Ivan" would work well, and sounds very Russian, while "Alexander Benjamin" also sounds good and is decidedly American in tone. I'm interested in Russian history, but I am very much an American....)
With the second child on the way, we learned his gender before he was born and took quite a bit of the available time to come up with a name. We started by making a list of names we wouldn't use:
- first names of immediate family members
- names in the top 20 or so of the most commonly given boy names in the US in the past few years
- names of obvious religious significance
- and names that would be difficult to spell right the first time
Paulette has three brothers and we both have many male cousins. We wanted to avoid the problem of "Hey, why'd they name their kid after so-and-so instead of me?" I had, at one point, thought about naming our second child after my cousin who had died a few years ago in a car accident, which also happens to be the name of one of Paulette's brothers, but we eventually decided to defer that idea. Likewise, the recent death of my maternal grandfather almost made me ask to reopen the decision we had finally made, but I chose not to.
We've run into an odd situation where every group of toddlers where we take Alex, there is at least one other Alex. So, we decided to avoid super-common names. (Alexander was the 16th most common name the year he was born, but we didn't expect that to be the case at the time.)
As for religiously significant names... there are a dozen reasons for us to avoid them, many having to do with not wanting to saddle the child with too many loaded messages in his name.
Then there's the spelling issue. Paulette and I both grew up with having both our first and last names mercilessly mangled by anyone we needed to give our names to, and since we are giving my last name to the child, we may as well give him a first name that's easier to spell correctly on the first try.
Now then: with these stipulations (only four of them!), we found it nearly impossible to come up with a name.
For a while, Andrew was at the top of our list, until we discovered its religious significance. Theodore was also at the top of our list at one point, but we simply didn't like any of the common nicknames for Theodore.
Nolan is a family name on Paulette's side, particularly drawing from Irish family members. We both have Irish grandparents, so going with an Irish theme felt right to both of us. It's easy to spell right on the first try, even though it's not one of the most common names in the US. It's meaning, in Irish, is "noble; faithful." Those are virtues we can happily endorse. (Most other Irish names mean "stout warrior" or "brave warrior" or "fearless warrior" or "drinks too much".) We are unaware of any religious significance attached to the name. And neither of us have any immediate family members who share that first name (although, alas, one brother does have it as a middle name -- we let that slide).
His middle name? Well, since Abraham was out of the running this time (rule number three), we opted to pay homage to another stand-out American president: Theodore Roosevelt. In other words, a name synonymous with "bold warrior".
If there should be a Baby 3.0, we will use a different set of rules for picking the name, just as the rules for Name 2.0 were different from the previous time. But that's an if for another time. Right now, we are very happy and very blessed to welcome Nolan Theodore into our lives.
There is, however, a postscript to this naming story...MORE...
April 11, 2005
Paulette and Allan Rousselle (and their son, Alexander) are proud to announce the birth of their son (and Alexander's brother):
Born April 10th, 2005 at 11:49 pm (Pacific Time)
9 lbs., 10 oz.
Mother and child are doing well and will be coming home from the hospital in a few days.
Pictures will be posted here in a day or two. Or three. Definitely by Friday.
Thank you all for your support, kindness, and well wishes.
February 10, 2005
Alexander is just past two-and-a-half years old now, and continues to be growing at a fast and furious pace, both physically and mentally (and, presumably, emotionally).
When he was first born, I posted photos and essays all of the time about how things were going. This was largely because 1) we have lots of family and friends who don't live in the area but who wanted to know all about him, and 2) he was just so *interesting*; having him was such a fresh experience.
Having him around these days is no less of a fresh experience, even after two and a half years. Every week, there's something new about him and how he interacts with the world. Every week, I learn something new about myself because of him.
But I also have a growing suspicion that not everything that I find interesting about having him around would be as interesting to everyone else, especially after two and a half years. For example: it seems like every day these days, people ask me how the new house is coming along. Hence I post updates regarding our house-in-progress on a frequent basis. But fewer people ask for daily updates on how Alex is doing.
And those questions aside, much of what is going on these days with Alex is nowhere near as... romantic? idyllic? cute?
There's a song by a Canadian band called The Arrogant Worms entitled "Baby Poo" in which the singer despairs: "I used to talk about politics, capitalism, socialism, I used to talk about all those -isms, but now I'm a dad and all I talk about is baby poo...." It's funny because it's TRUE. When new parents get together to talk, they not only talk about what their little tike is learning and doing, but also about the frequency and consistency of their children's bowel movements.
Dogs and new parents know something that most of the rest of the world doesn't: there's a great deal of information that is conveyed in bowel movements.
But egestion habits are not the topic of polite conversation, and so much of that kind of talk should be left out of one's updates on "How is the little one doing?" At two-and-a-half years old, however, Alexander's big events surround 1) sleeping (or, rather, resisting sleeping) in a "big boy bed", and 2) potty training.
Oh, sure, he's also learning how to speak in more complete sentences, and he's playing with his toys in more sophisticated ways. He's more emotive with each passing week, and is actually singing along more with his music. He has formed definite ideas of how he wants Mommy and Daddy to play with him or to leave him alone, and he is learning to handle cooperative play with his friends as well as possessiveness.
And it's always fascinating to see what Paulette and I obsess over and what we don't even give a second thought with regard to Alex and his growing abilities. I have taught Alex that he can use his step stool to turn on and off light switches, for example, but he has extended this knowledge to figure out how to get up on the kitchen counter and play with our set of knives. Clever kid, and not unexpected, but it just happened *sooner* than expected. With everything he learns, we learn that there are many more consequences that we have to deal with.
And even when we anticipate those consequences, it's not like we're not going to teach him how to solve problems.
But at the age of two-and-a-half, Alexander's big news tends to center around the same two things as when he was newborn: sleep and poop. He is teething again (back molars), which combined with being removed from the crib and given a bed, has made sleeping a bit of an issue lately. And, we've begun potty training.
Potty training is really not as much of an ordeal as the non-parent might think. But that doesn't make it fascinating dinner conversation for non-parents, either. Which is why I didn't post on New Year's Day: "Well, today marks quite a milestone. Today Alexander peed in the potty, all of his own volition." And why I didn't post on subsequent days when he tried and missed, or didn't try at all, or managed to poop in the potty, etc. It's the kind of thing that parents of similarly-aged kids will compare notes on, because they want to make sure they're managing the whole potty training thing correctly, but they are the kinds of updates that not everybody necessarily would be interested in.
Potty training and sleep issues aside, Alex remains remarkably happy and healthy. As is common with two-year-olds, he tends to resist his parents' will at the most awkward of times, but he's nonetheless just a treat to be around. He's so much joy, in fact, that we may eventually consider having another. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Bwahahahaha.
November 28, 2004
I merely offer a funny observation today.
I've noticed that other parents do this, but now I'm noticing Paulette and me doing it as well: communicating to the other parent by what you say to the child. Essentially, you say something to the child that might normally be a part of your conversation, but what you're really doing is conveying information to your partner who happens to be within earshot.
Parent #1: Well, Child, after we get you cleaned up, perhaps Parent #2 will take you out for a walk.
Translation: Honey? I know you're listening. Will you please take Child out for a walk? I need a break after we finish cleaning up, here.
I've seen this sort of nonsense on sitcoms (usually it's more malignant, like: "Child, if Parent #2 doesn't take you out for a walk, then I'm going to owe you a lot of money for therapy because of our resulting divorce..."), and then occasionally with friends of ours as they started to have kids (not quite so malignant). Now we've got a kid in the house, and we're doing it, too.
Was this learned? Did we pick this up from the sitcoms and our friends? Or is this actually a naturally programmed way for humans to interact? Yet one more means of indirect communication? Hmmmm.
September 29, 2004
A recent trip to Boston didn't go as planned.
This was the first time we'd flown across the country with Alexander. We were heading out to attend a conference, and then visit friends and family in the area before the return flight home.
At the same time, the third (or fourth?) hurricane this year was making its way toward Florida, once again threatening the home of my maternal grandparents. As my grandfather was evacuated with others to Miami, my grandmother found herself being brought along to my parents' homestead in Western New York.
And so came about a slight change in plans. My grandmother, who would never otherwise have found herself in the Northeast, took a little trip in my parent's airplane to a location halfway between Buffalo and Boston. We were able to meet them there, as were other members of our family.
Our visit was short, but we were happy to finally introduce Grandma to her great-grandchildren (Alexander the oldest among them). For the first time in my adult life, we had four generations under one roof.
It was a bittersweet reunion. While we were most happy to see Grandma and the little ones all together (not to mention the other family members who were there), we wished that Granddaddy could have joined us as well.
So while I try not to get all mushy on this site as a general rule, I hope you'll bear with me as I send out all my love to all of my family. I'm glad a slight change of plans was able to bring about an unexpected family reunion. And here's to Granddaddy: you weren't able to join us this time, but you were certainly in our hearts.
And how odd... four generations in one house, and this time I wasn't a part of the youngest generation. Another reminder that I'm getting older, for all the complex emotions that brings up.
I wonder if, in my lifetime, I'll ever get to be a part of five generations all under one roof.
It's a neat thought. But for now, I'll count my blessings and be grateful that these four have made it this far.
September 24, 2004
A friend had sent me an e-mail a month or so asking when I was going to post new photos to my site, and I mentioned that request when I posted the previous batch of photos of Alexander. However, I was being disingenuous. My friend wanted to see pictures of *me*. He wanted to see how fat I'd gotten, I guess.
Or, more to the point, I've been feeling pretty glum about my weight, so I deliberately misunderstood what he was saying (er, typing).
So, a few days ago I updated the photo of me in the "navigation bar" to the right on my site. As a friend of mine has so gently pointed out, "Well, you have the 'before' picture. Now you just need the 'after' picture, and you can start selling weight loss books like that Jared guy."
With friends like these, who needs the upcoming presidential election?
But, while I'm at it, I may as well post a recent photo of Alexander, as well. He's getting taller every day, it seems, and his face is starting to take on more definition. It's amazing how fast he shifting from "baby" to "guy."
His language is taking on more nuances, as well. He's mastering "Please," for example, when he wants something, and he's starting to cleverly put together "more" with the name of whatever it is he wants. "More ice cubes... pwease." For him, a complex sentence!
He's also beginning to get the hang of "thank you", which has a very funny side effect. As whenever he begins mastering something new, he is prone to repeating it over and over again. However, his enunciation is not particularly exact, and so his "Thank you" doesn't sound like "Thank you" to people who don't know him. Oh sure, the "you" part comes out just fine. But, well, instead of a fully formed "th" sound, it comes out more like an "f" sound. And the "n" doesn't quite come through at all. Since all short vowels sound pretty much the same, the result sounds more like a jubilant expletive than polite appreciation.
Oh, and "ice cubes" doesn't sound like "ice cubes", either. The "i" doesn't come out long, so you end up with the short vowel sound in there, as well. More like, "ass cubes."
So we'll be out at a restaurant with friends, and he'll reach for our ice water. After he's scooped an ice cube and put it in his mouth, he'll start repeating over and over again: "Fuck you! Ass cubes! Fuck you! Ass cubes!"
We will have to put him into day care for a couple weeks next month, and we took him along to check out one of the facilities we're looking at. Toward the end of the tour, the nice lady there gave Alex a rubber ball. Now he's running around, shouting "Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you." And we have to expain to her that he's saying "Thank you."
I hope they let us come back.
June 10, 2004
May 18, 2004
"When are you going to put up some new pictures of Alex?"
I get this question almost as frequently as "When are you going to lose some weight?" and "When are those lobotomy scars going to stop scabbing up?"
But work and cleaning out the garage and work and cooking dinner and work and writing the great American novel and work all take up a bit of time, and the next thing you know... it's been over four months since the last Alexander update.
This past weekend, a friend of mine and Paulette's from our college days stopped by our house en route between vacation and home. She happened to have a spiffy camera with her, and shot a lot of photos. So here's your pictures of Alexander, already. :-)
Alex has become quite the articulate kid these days. He seems to be interspersing real words with a generous supply of creative babble, but the sentences he produces often seem to make sense. When he wants to be entertained, for example, his sentences will end with "Nemo?" or "Wanderin'!" or "Nuk."
"Nemo," of course, is his way of asking to see the DVD of "Finding Nemo".
Many months ago, Paulette and I rented the DVD of "A Mighty Wind", a Christopher Guest mockumentary about the folk groups of the 60's. While we were watching it, Alex would keep dancing whenever they played music, so we ended up getting the soundtrack. The word "Wanderin'" is the title of two tracks on the CD, plus it's featured prominantly in the first line of the CD, so Alex asks for the CD by asking for "Wanderin'".
As for "Nuk", that just seems to be Alexander's generic word for "music". Go figure.
I'm pleased to report that he remains a happy, healthy, intelligent, and beautiful child. Of course, good looks will get him farther than intelligence in this society, but that's no reason not to encourage him to think. You know... just in case his amazing good looks should someday leave him (as they did me).
Speaking of good looks... Remember how I lamented a few essays ago about my darkening hair and corresponding loss of identity? Well, everywhere we went this past weekend, people commented on how positively blond Alexander looked -- to which I would reply, "Just like his father," only to be greeted by totally blank stares.
Anyway. Um. Where was I? Oh, yeah, the kid's got good looks. No doubt about it. The fact that he has this incredibly infectious smile makes him even more of a star when we go out for a walk. As we pass by, people look at him and can't help but smile. Then they look at me and their eyes say, "Isn't that nice? His grandfather is taking him out for a stroll."
As for the "healthy" part of that equation -- like any child, he gets sick from time to time, but not so often as to keep the household in a perpetual feedback loop of illness. We hope he's getting sick *just enough* for him to build up his immune system. The evidence suggests he's doing okay in that regard: just enough, and no more.
His favorite activities include: going to the park once or twice a day, and going for at least one vigorous walk; listening to music and singing along to "Wanderin'"; reading the Sunday comics and then shredding them to pieces; playing "Where's Elmo" with the monthly Sesame Street magazine we get as part of our Parenting magazine subscription; watching "Nemo", Baby Mozart, and the 6 o'clock news (and, sometimes, Wheel of Fortune afterward), although we are careful to limit his television viewing on a day by day basis; chasing soap bubbles; drawing with pens or with crayons (usually all over his mommy's crossword puzzle); pressing buttons wherever he can find them; and playing in the driver's seat of the car. He likes that last one so much, he broke the rear view mirror off the windshield of our Passat.
Let's see... what else can I tell you about the little guy?
He goes to bed without complaining. That doesn't mean he necessarily goes to *sleep* right away -- tonight, for example, I know he was awake and playing in his crib for at least an hour and a half after we put him in his crib -- but that's okay. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he usually doesn't call for us. Instead, he turns on a Mozart music box we've attached to his crib, and he just lets the music carry him back to sleep. In the mornings, he's good about letting us know he's up without screaming for attention.
Which is all by way of saying that Paulette and I have absolutely as wonderful a kid as we could have ever asked for. Even if we have to make sure to read Dilbert or do the crossword puzzle before he does.
PS: all of these photos were taken this past weekend.
January 21, 2004
No pictures today, sorry. I'm sick (my sinuses are so stuffed, a taxidermist consulted with me on what to do to preserve Willy the Orca), and I'm just not in the mood to do all that photo manipulation stuff so that you can download a picture of His Cuteness in less than a day. I'm tired, and I'm going to go to bed early. Nyeh.
Suffice it to say, Alexander at a year and a half is one amazingly good looking child, even if I do say so myself.
We took him in for his regularly scheduled doctor visit. The doctor says he's still too thin, but not dangerously so, and otherwise he's growing quite nicely. He's doing well "developmentally", which I reckon means his mental is developing well.
His vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. This past week, he's been mimicking us with all kinds of words, esp. names of things. He's also started to say back to us things we've been teaching him for months. He'll poke us in the eye and say, "Eye!" He'll poke us in the nose and say, "Nose!" He'll ram his sticky hands into my mouth and say, "Teeth." What a guy.
After a set-back last week, when he and Paulette were sick and I was out of town, he's resumed sleeping through the night again. Alas, now that I've gotten whatever ailment they had, I'm not.
But I'm not bitter.
Alexander gets together a couple of times a week with friends his own age, as well as a babysitter who is great with him, and I'm glad to say that he plays well with others. Alexander, I mean, not the babysitter.
Paulette and I are still figuring out this parenting thing, but Alex has such a great disposition that it doesn't seem to be as hard as I know it can be. We are, to put it mildly, very fortunate that our little guy is so happy, healthy, smart, and pleasant to be around.
It's hard to believe that we're already a year and a half into this adventure. Oh, my.
Oh, and it's after eleven. Hard to believe I've managed to stay up so late, feeling as awful as I do. Here's to a better tomorrow!
November 12, 2003
A month or two ago, a friend posted a note to a list we're both on saying that it's time for an Alexander update. Alas, alack, I've been woefully remiss in sharing the news about life with Alexander Benjamin.
So here's the news, so fresh that the pixels aren't even dry yet. In fact, I snapped the picture to the left earlier today, so now you know *exactly* what he looks like as of this writing.
At his fifteen month check-up a few weeks ago, where his measurements were taken and he received a number of shots (including a flu shot) and the like, the pediatrician said that his weight is not keeping up with the rest of him, growth-wise. While he's still around the fiftieth percentile in height, his weight is in the bottom five percent of children his age. In short: we have to fatten this kid up.
It's a completely different problem from the problem I've been having, weight-wise, and I hope it bodes well for his metabolism as he gets older. In the meantime, however, it *is* a problem.
Three days after the check-up, as we were starting to see some improvement in how much he was eating, he got sick with flu-like symptoms and threw up everything he'd eaten during the latter half of the day... and he kept throwing up. Roughly every fifteen minutes. The poor guy. The thing is, he was otherwise happy and having an excellent day.
The night was not so excellent, as I stayed up with him until he was finally able to go to sleep and not be awakened by the need to vomit. The next day, he was a little better, and he was able to drink by around noon without causing him to throw up anymore. However, he had zero appetite, and it was days before he started to eat anything other than milk. For about two weeks, he was eating *less* than he was before the doctor told us we had to fatten him up.
I'm pleased to report that his appetite is coming back, and he no longer looks like a poster child for a Sally Struthers Save-The-Children campaign, although he was definitely looking a bit scrawny during bath time for a little while there.
Aside from the fact that we need to fatten up the kid, the big news is his emerging personality.
One of the things that gets more prominent each passing day is how much he enjoys music. The other day, we gave Paulette's old stereo from college (which still has a working turntable) as a gift to a friend of the family who is in high school. He (the gift recipient) had never seen a record player in action before, so his father took out his old records (from *his* high school days) and showed him the proper care and feeding of vinyl records.
Now, our friend's old record collection consisted pretty much exclusively of old Rush albums with the occasional Bob Seger or Dire Straights album. So, the son put on the Bob Seger album, and Alexander started dancing up a storm to the music. Then it was time to try out a Rush album, and Alexander still kept dancing. It was quite a sight to see, little Alex bobbing up and down and trying to figure out the beat to a Rush song (which, of course, has no regular beat).
A few nights ago, Paulette and I rented the movie "A Mighty Wind" to watch at home. This movie is a "mockumentary" of the reunion of several fictitious folk bands from the 1960's. The movie was part parody, part homage to the great folk legends of the '60's (like Peter, Paul and Mary, and the Kingston Trio). Every time a song came on, Alexander would go into his little dance.
We're thinking of getting the soundtrack to the movie for Alexander, since we know he likes the music. :-)
Alexander still doesn't speak much, although he babbles incoherently all the time (much like his father). He's starting to show that he understands speech, however, and he is getting very good at responding physically even if not verbally. If we're getting ready to go out to the park, for example, I can ask him to find his shoes and he does -- and he brings them to me to put them on him. Then he brings me my shoes. You can ask him questions about whether he wants a particular thing, and he'll respond by shaking or nodding his head. (And then he'll act consistently with the response he gave.)
He can sign for "more," "done," "book," and "what noise does this make when I bang it against the glass table repeatedly?" He can say words that approximate "shoe," "bird," "cheese," and, alas, "no." (Plus, of course, the earlier mentioned "up," and "balloon".)
Speaking of speaking, he's signalling me right now that he's tired of my doing all this typing, and he wants me to read to him. So, I'm going to go.
Oh, one last thing. We've finally started a bedtime regimen, and he actually goes to bed *awake* and manages to fall asleep all by himself, without much protesting. It's been a long time, but Paulette and I are both happy to finally be at this point. :-)
July 27, 2003
I retroactively added a photo of Alexanders "Up" routine to the previous entry about his being a year old. Here's another photo, taken on his birthday, in which he unwraps his first toy truck. Coooool.
I love that shot. It looks like he's found the holy grail.
One of the other things I think I forgot to mention is how much Alexander is starting to imitate us, even when he doesn't understand what we're doing. For example, a couple of days ago I was playing a video game on our XBox console. I don't play very often (much too busy), but I had the opportunity and decided to take it. Alexander observed me playing, then decided that he had to have a controller, himself. Which means he kept grabbing mine. Cleverly, I pulled down one of the other controllers (unplugged) and gave it to him to play with. He then began pushing the buttons on it and generally acting as if *he* were playing a video game. Very funny. And very revealing, insofar as I don't know what I'm doing, either, when I'm playing video games. :-)
I'll leave you with one more photo before I go. Here's one of the little guy sleeping. Is he not a little angel? When he's asleep, I mean. Nothing spells trouble like Alexander when he's awake.
July 24, 2003
Time for an update about the kid.
Alexander turned one year old this past Sunday. It's amazing how quickly this past year has flown by. My parents used to tell me that this time distortion zips things by even fast with each passing year, and that kids grow up faster than the national debt. Well, they didn't use those words exactly. But you get the idea.
One year down, seventeen to go until college (if he chooses to go to college). Ahhhh!
Alexander is doing alright for himself. Paulette picked out a local park where we claimed a picnic table and set out cake and watermelon and grapes (for adults only -- did you know that grapes are a choking hazard for kids under four years of age?) and soda and juice and the like. Friends dropped by to share in the birthday celebrations, and Alexander got to run around the park, swing on the swings, and play with some of his friends from the group of moms and babies that Paulette spends time with.
One of the highlights for me was watching how the tots played with one of the toys. A friend with a boy the same age as Alex had brought him a little "Elmo" piano toy that plays music and lights up lights when you hit the keys. Alexander and two of his buddies stood around the Elmo toy which was sitting on the cooler, and they kept hitting the keys and then bouncing up and down as the music played. I wished I had a video camera to capture it, it was so *cool* to see them dance like that.
Another highlight was, well, just seeing all the cool people who came by to wish Alexander well. We even had a dear friend come all the way down from Vancouver, BC to give him a stuff Canadian bear and a big ol' tonka-style truck. It was great to see so many good friends come by and share their time with us. Alexander had a fine time, got himself all exhausted, and finally zonked out just in time for the party to wind down.
By way of celebrating his new status as a toddler, I've taken to let him climb up and down the stairs whenever we are moving from one part of the house to the other (usually upstairs for diaper changes, main floor for most other activities, and downstairs to go out for a stroll). He is moving around with much more agility than in the past, and his upper body strength is surprising. He is also enjoying playing with new toys and reading new books that he receive for his birthday.
But he also surprised us with something very new today: he said his first word. Over and over and over again. You might think his first word would be "Mom" or "Dad" or some variation of one of those. But no. His first word was (drumroll please):
Several times today, he would simply point up and say, "Up!" And, of course, we encouraged him. It was distinct and it was deliberate. Now, whether "Up" means the same thing to him that it means to us, we aren't certain. He didn't say it like a command (as in, "Pick me UP!"). More like a general observation. As in, "Mother. Father. The direction I am pointing could be considered, in a word, 'up'."
I have photos from the birthday party as well as photos of him from today doing his "up" routine. I'll try to post these soon.
Hope you're having an "up" day, too.
June 25, 2003
Because so many of you have asked, here is an update on Alexander. I haven't posted anything about him in a while. This isn't because nothing's been going on. No, no, no. This is because I feel the need to include photos when I post entries about him, and cropping down the photos so that they'll still look good at Web resolution (that's 72dpi to you) takes more effort than I have time for, these days.
And shrinking them down to fit... how far do I shrink 'em? I want them to be large enough for you to see, but small enough so that you don't have to resize your browser window just to take in the whole view.
And then, there's selecting which photos to post. For today's post, I narrowed two electronic rolls of 64 photos each down to thirteen representative (and relatively in-focus) shots. I put all thirteen into Photoshop, cropped 'em, shrunk 'em, and saved 'em. But, which ones should I choose to put up today?
Okay, okay. That's all a long-winded excuse for why I haven't shown you the little guy. Let's get on with the show.
A great deal has been going on since last I posted about him. Alexander's two lower teeth and several upper teeth have come in. A couple more upper teeth are on their way.
He has started walking. He doesn't walk around a lot, yet -- he'll tool around for six or eight steps and then sit back down. But he's doing that more and more often. He's been very articulate. We notice more inflection and variety in his speaking all the time, even if we can't understand a thing he's saying. More often then not, he'll explain to us that, "Bwah, bwah, bwah." Don't know what it means, but it's endearing.
As ever, he keeps going through growth spurts. At one point, his growth spurt seemed to be dealing exclusively with his head. His cranium started bulging out so much, we thought he looked a bit like a mad scientist. I've included a photo here showing the mad scientist at work on the most important tool for controlling the world: the remote control.
His appearance changes from day to day, especially eye and hair color. Most days, his eyes are a brilliant blue, but every once in a while they take on a greenish tinge. His mother's eyes alternated between blue and green for the first five years of her life before they settled on green, so it's anybody's guess what will happen with his eye color. (For the record, my eyes are green and my father's eyes are blue, which is also true for Paulette, so we know that we both carry both blue and green eye-color genes.)
On any given day, his hair will appear blond, reddish, or brownish.
Dear friends of mine across the country has a son who was born one week before Alexander, and we also have good friends here who have children just a few months younger. You can't help but compare your child to other children when certain things come up in conversation. Alexander was a late crawler compared to most of the babies we know here, but he started crawling early compared to Jack out on the other coast. But Jack, on the other hand, has been eating solid food without complaining for months. Months!
Not so, Alexander.
Alexander simply doesn't get into eating "solid" foods, like the Gerber pureed veggies and the like. For a while he'd tolerate them, but he's not even doing that any longer. There are very few things he'll put into his mouth, and food is not among them.
He will, however, chew on paper products. Napkins, envelopes, yellow legal paper. His favorite paper product, though, is playing cards. Just like his father, he has taken an early liking to playing with cards (someday I'll have to explain why I named my web site "House of Cards"...). Unlike his father, though, once he gets tired of playing with the cards, he'll put them into his mouth and gum them to oblivion.
Is the red dye in playing cards poisonous? I sure hope not.
For a kid who doesn't eat much food, though, Alexander is doing just fine. And in less than a month, he'll be celebrating his first birthday. Yee-ha! Or, in the words of Alexander, himself: Bwah, bwah, bwah!
May 01, 2003
Alexander Benjamin turned nine months old recently. We took him to the doctor, who says he's still a healthy, healthy boy. There is *some* cause for concern, insofar as his weight has dropped relative to his height. He's gone from being a 90th percentile (or so) in height and weight compared with other kids his age to being 75th percentile in height and 55th in weight. I think this is because he tries to eat everything but food. Go figure.
Just a day or two ago, he became an expert at getting into everything that we'd rather he not. He's learned how to take my records off the shelf and out of their jackets and drool on them while we're not paying attention. He has figured out how to unspool a roll of toilet paper, how to flush a toilet (lots of fun! big noise!), how to unshelve books, how to press buttons on the CD carosel to make it spin around and around, and how to climb up the stairs. Oh, and another recent behavior change is that he no longer likes to lie still when we change his diapers. He gets quite upset about it, actually. He'd rather stand or crawl. Very frustrating for mom and dad.
We've been signing certain words to him for a couple months now, but he's not signing them back to us yet. He is, however, expanding his vocabulary of sounds. Taking a cue from his dad, he will now bounce his finger up and down between his lips and say, "Brbrbrbrbrbrbrbrb."
When we took him to the doctor, they ran through a series of routine questions:
"Is he pulling himself up to a standing position?"
"Does he work his way around the coffee table in a standing position?"
"Does he clap his hands or clap toys together?"
Is our child somehow defective? He hasn't clapped! "Well, no, Doctor, but he does splash in the pool with his hands, and none of the other kids at swimming class do that." (Okay, I'm kidding -- I didn't actually say that.)
Well, as it turns out, he started clapping just a couple of days ago. So I guess we can rest assured that, his bizarre eating habits aside, he's doing quite well. Yee-ha!
April 15, 2003
A couple weeks ago, Alexander began taking swimming lessons. He seems to enjoy himself quite a bit at the pool, and it's cool that he gets to spend more structured quality time with his dad. In general, any structured parent/baby activities he's had have been with his mom.
Alexander is crawling around the house like a madman, and he is also frequently working himself up into a standing position. He'll stand for up to half a minute at a time, and his balance gets better every day. Even though he was a relatively late crawler (that is, relative to the other babies his age in the primary mommy/baby class that he goes to each week), all indications are that he could start walking very soon. Good thing we house-proofed the baby! Er, uh. Baby-proofed the house.
Well, at least part of the house.
We have gates at the top of the stairs to keep him from tumbling down. But we don't have gates at the bottom of the stairs to keep him from climbing up. And he does like to climb them stairs.
All in all, I'm proud of my kid who is growing up faster than we can anticipate. He'll be doing laps around his dad in the pool in no time. :-)
March 20, 2003
With all that's going on in the world today, my goal with this entry is not to get *too* heavy. Just a fun little pause to celebrate the ever continuing saga of "Alexander Grows Up." Alexander Benjamin has begun crawling, as of a couple days ago. And today, he turned eight months old.
He's not super fast at crawling (yet), but he can go a fair distance now without having to stop and think about what he's doing. This time last week, he'd go about one and a half paces forward, then get back into a sitting up position before moving ahead again. Made for slow progress.
We haven't child-proofed the house yet. Is that a bad thing?
Actually, Paulette has at least started to gather the chemicals from underneath the sinks and put them up on high shelves. And I make sure to unplug the phone wires before letting him play with them. So we're making *some* progress.
We've also started to watch what we say around the little guy. Paulette and I are keeping a running total of verboten words that the other says in daily conversation. This started when I suggested that Paulette uses colorful language more often than I do. She disagreed, and so the running tally began. She's winning so far. I think the score is something like 427 to 1. We started two days ago.
Another recent change as Alexander hits the two-thirds-of-a-year-old mark: his strong grip has become a vice grip. And his fingernails have become claws. My left arm is covered in short, deep scratches. When I change his diaper on the changing table, I always set him down so his head is to my left and his bottom to my right. As I undress him, etc., he likes to reach down and grab my left arm. Youch!
Alexander is generally a happy baby. He recently recovered from a cold, which wasn't necessarily his most favoritest experience, but he still spends more of the day smiling than complaining. That's just fine with me.
And while I want to keep the news in today's entry all about Alexander, there is something on my mind that keeps me from ending on a completely happy note. (Although, how could one look at that face and *not* be happy?)
We just received word a few days ago that little Alexander will soon have an even littler cousin. My brother-in-law phoned us with the news that he and his wife are expecting their first child to arrive later this year. The news is bittersweet, however. Lee phoned us from Ft.
March 14, 2003
Paulette recently took this photo of Alexander while I was trying to feed him. Clearly, his early influences include Messy Marvin and Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes).
It's kinda weird to note how his hair color changes from day to day. Here, it seems to me he's showing rather auburnish or reddish highlights. Some days, he's definitely got brown hair. Others, he's a blond. Go figure.
February 12, 2003
Is this baby stylin', or what?
Alexander's paternal grandfather is an avid pilot, and he picked up this flight jacket for the little guy during a recent visit to an aviation shop near Boeing field. The outfit says it's for 12 month olds, but Alexander is, as always, ahead of the curve.
He's got the outfit. Now all he needs is the plane.
February 11, 2003
A kind reader recently e-mailed to ask how my recent gum surgery went. Rather than reply off-line, I thought I'd share the news with the world.
This second surgery was much quicker than the first. Of course, they didn't have to transplant any material, they only had to traumatize (sorry, "freshen") my gums and re-sew them this time. The recovery was also much less of an issue than it was the first time: I needed no painkillers at all (not even my favorite stand-by, Advil) after the surgery.
I did everything I was told to do -- I took it easy for a couple of days, I went to see a movie, I ate soft foods. I didn't pull my lip to look at the surgery site. I was a very good boy.
The results? Well, the jury is still out. I went back to the periodontist's office two weeks after the surgery. They removed the sutures and cleaned everything up. The clefts were all healed, which was very good news. However... the coverage didn't end up being as perfect as it had once looked like it would be. That is to say, there were early indications that the final results would be *perfect* coverage, and now it looks like there may end up being a recession of about 2 mm. Maybe. We'll check back in a couple weeks to see. Originally, there was a tear (less likely to happen now) and a 4mm recession, so the result appears to be progress, but just not perfection.
I'm told that in the next couple of weeks, because the gum tissue is still healing, it very well could end up rebounding and shrinking that recession. So the jury is still out. If we fall short of perfection though, my preference is to avoid further surgery. Perfection would be nice, but I can live with "better than it was." We'll see what the periodontist recommends.
Ah, but I had said this would be a tale of two teeth in the title of this missive, did I not? This isn't just about the gum surgery in front of one of my lower teeth. Oh, no. Someone else has a lower tooth of note, as well.
Baby Alexander, who turns seven months old in a week, is just now sporting his first tooth. It appears to have broken through the gums a day or two ago. Not quite visible enough to see unless you're up-close-and-personal, but I'll post pictures when there's something to see.
January 22, 2003
Alexander Benjamin turned six months old yesterday. To celebrate, we took him to the doctor's and had him shot.
Which is to say, he had his regular visit to the doctor, who gave him four different immunization shots. Ouch! Poor guy. (When I say "poor guy," I mean the kid, not the doctor. The doctor is a woman.) His next visit, in three months, will be his first visit to the doctor's office that won't involve shots. Hopefully, he won't have developed a negative association with doctors' offices by then.
Wait a minute... what am I saying? How can one *not* have a negative association with doctors' offices? I mean, when he gets older, he'll still only see a doctor when he's sick, right? The only reason *I* don't have a negative association with this particular doctor's office is because it's not my doctor! (Sorry, Adrien. Sorry, Frank. :-)
The doctor reports that Alexander is still gaining weight and height at an appropriate pace and that he seems to be adjusting well. He currently weighs just under 19 pounds, so he is almost out of the official range that his car seat is intended to support. Alas, he is also 28" long, which *is* out of the range that the car seat says it will support. Rats. We'll have to install a new car seat.
The doctor also gave us tips on feeding the little guy solid foods, a process that we had begun a mere few days before.
By solid foods, it turns out we're talking about "rice cereal", which is runnier than cream of wheat and hardly solid at all. In fact, it's pretty much just milk with a few tiny rice flakes in it. Solid food? Semantics.
Did you know that rice cereal can have a mildly constipating effect? Did you know that pears and prunes can have the opposite effect? Allow me to be the first to observe that pears and prunes both start with 'p' and end with 'poo.'
But anyway, I digress. As usual.
The doctor is under the impression that he's likely to retain his blue eyes, as opposed to his eyes turning green. Both of his parents have green eyes, but both of his grandfathers have blue eyes. Hence, the recessive trait had a one in four chance of making it to him. His eyes have varied in color, but have tended to remain a shade of blue, and the doctor thinks that is probably going to remain the case.
It's been a while since I've posted any pictures of Alex, but that doesn't mean he hasn't changed. Sure, he's taller (longer?) and his hair is looking fuller (and, I think there's still a chance he'll turn out blond like his dear old dad), but there are other changes, as well. He sits. He stands in his exersaucer and jumps up and down. He turns over from back to front to back again, and raises his head and flails his arms. Just like a turtle. Not that I'd know.
He still can't manage to get past the "Flood" level of Halo on our XBox game system, but he keeps trying. It's just a hand-eye coordination thing, I'm sure, and he's bound to figure it out sooner or later.
Not much else to report on the little guy. He keeps eating and growing, learning and laughing. I love his smile. Maybe, when he turns one year old, we'll be kind enough not to schedule four immunization shots on the same day as his birthday.
January 08, 2003
I just wanted to post a quick note about Alexander, for those of you interested in how things are going with him.
He remains the Cutest Baby In The World, although he's quickly outgrowing that title... because he's growing so *big*. He's noticeably (sp?) taller than he was even at Christmas time, and we've just now moved him up to 9mo to 12mo clothes.
He's been turning over a lot lately. As of yesterday morning, he even sleeps on his tummy, despite the fact that we keep putting him down on his back. Did I just type "tummy?" Guess I'm becoming a parent.
He remains a happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy. And yes, I'll post more pictures soon. :-)
December 03, 2002
We took Alexander in for his four month checkup yesterday morning. The doctor says he's healthy and growing at a healthy rate. He's ahead of the curve at "transferring" objects from one hand to the other, but he's not rolling over as much as other four-month-olds tend to do. In other words, he's developing fine motor control faster than course motor control.
He's also now in the 75th to 90th percentile range for height, weight, and skull size. He's a little over 16 pounds, which means we should be able to continue using his current car seat for a few more months. We were worried he'd outgrow it (the max is 20 pounds) before he turned a year old. That still seems likely, but at least we won't have to rush out to buy a new car seat *right this minute.*
You see, the law says that any child under one year old has to be in a rear-facing car seat. Most rear-facing car seats are only rated for children up to twenty pounds. If Alexander weighs more than twenty pounds before he turns a year old, we'll end up having to buy him one more car seat than we would have had to, otherwise. It's funny how many things like this you have to be aware of once you have a baby in the house.
Anyway, the big event at the doctor's office yesterday was another round of innoculation shots for the kid. He needed FOUR shots. Ouch! He was not happy about that.
Otherwise, life continues to move forward with our little one. He's not crawling yet, but he is starting to scoot around the room by pushing with his feet while he's lying on his back. So far, his favorite places to go are under the tables and chairs in the living room. A whole new world for him. :-)
November 22, 2002
Alexander Benjamin's paternal grandfather came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. One of my father's passions is flying. While he was in town, he bought the coolest little flyer outfit for Alexander, complete with leather airman's jacket and sharp khaki pants. We'll show a photo of that once Alexander is old enough to fit into the new ensemble. (There's also a body suit with airplanes on it that grandpa bought that fits Alexander now; I'll post a photo of that one soon. I guess I'm becoming a fashion photographer. Ack.)
As you can see, both of these Rousselles are fine looking fellows... and they're both looking funny at the Rousselle behind the camera. I have no idea what the I was doing at the time to earn these reactions.
We've been fortunate so far to have had a chance to introduce Alexander to both of his paternal grandparents, plus his maternal grandmother (who was here to help out during the week before and the week after little Alex was born), and most recently his Aunt Sandra and Uncle Michael. My own Aunt Ginny (my father's youngest sister) lives not too far away from us, and we get to visit more frequently. With any luck, Alexander will meet his other three uncles and his godmother before too long. Family is assuming a completely different kind of importance to me now that I am raising a family of my own. The connections run deeper -- with siblings as well as parents and grandparents. I don't have the words to describe it... yet. But I'll figure it out. And, no doubt, I'll put it down on paper. Writers are funny that way.
I'm looking forward to Alexander meeting his great grandparents. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them, myself. I'm older now than my father was when I was born. I hope Alexander nonetheless will grow up knowing his extended family, including his grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles. They're all good people.
Now, his dad, on the other hand, could still stand some improvement....
November 11, 2002
Wayback (not "way back," but "wayback") when I was in college, a good friend and I enjoyed watching a television show called The Wonder Years, which focused on the coming-of-age of a fellow named Kevin and his friends and family during the 1960's. The story was told like one big flashback, narrated by actor Daniel Stern as the adult Kevin, even though we only saw the young Kevin (played by Fred Savage) on screen.
My friend pointed out on some rainy Tuesday many years after we'd started watching this show that every single episode seemed to involve the narrator saying something along the lines of, "I knew then that things would never be the same."
Kevin kissed his girlfriend Winnie for the first time, and he "knew then that things would never be the same." Winnie's brother was killed in Vietnam, and Kevin "knew then that things would never be the same." Kevin played hookey from Coach Cutlip's gym class, and he "knew then that things would never...."
Well, you get the picture.
It was sort of a funny formula, the kind that drinking games are made of. "Next time Kevin says he knew then that things would never be the same, everyone drinks a shot." Whatever. Despite this predictability, the show was fun to watch. Even as I type this, I realize that there may even be a little bit of "Wonder Years" that was lurking in the back of my mind as I began exploring the good and the bad of 1980's Buffalo in my recently completed novel.
But that's not why I bring this all up.
It seems that most days with Alexander are producing in me the same kind of "and I knew then that things would never be the same" response that seemed to fill up the ficitional Kevin's life. Ferinstance, Alexander (three and a half months old at this point) completely rolled over from lying on his back to resting on his tummy all by himself yesterday. More than once. After rolling over, he started trying to crawl. He moved around a bit, but didn't quite manage to get anywhere. But you could see he was figuring things out.
Once he rolled over the second time, I knew then that things... you know.
Allow me to point out that we don't currently have a television feed in our house. We rent movies, borrow DVDs, etc., to pickle our brains as necessary, but we don't have cable or satelite or anything like that. And yes, this is a little odd, given that my current project (near completion!) is a pilot for a television series being written on spec. It's also a little odd, given my role as some sort of pop culture consumer type guy. I'm catching up on my pop culture reading though. :-)
Anyway, this all means that Alexander hasn't been spending much time plopped down in front of the television. In fact, he hasn't been spending *any* time in front of the TV.
Now I must point also out here that there's this little device called a "pacifier" which is a pretty magical gizmo. You place the little rubbery thingy in his mouth when he's crying, and he stops crying. If he doesn't seem tired and you want him to sleep, you give him this wonderful invention, and he goes to sleep. I knew from the first time we gave him a pacifier and he took it that, well, things would never be the same.
Recently I was watching a video course (this is like an audio course, only it's... oh, you know) from the Teaching Company about detective fiction. I no longer get my pop culture the old fashioned way; now I watch videotaped college lectures about pop culture. (Actually, I'm learning more about the form of the detective novel because I think I can learn from these kind of thrillers as I put together my next novel.) As I was watching this very dry presentation by a rather high-pitched professor, I noticed that the previously-antsy Alexander had moved around on the floor where he was babbling so that he could see the screen. He was fascinated. Completely drawn in. The television was acting as uberpacifier. He watched until I was done with my lecture.
We are not using the television as a baby-sitter for Alexander, and we have no intentions of doing so. But now that I've seen the immense power of the television on our child, I can't unlearn that knowledge. Things will never be quite the same.
...I gotta say, though, that the television makes the pacifier look much less of a controversial choice than it once had seemed. :-)
November 01, 2002
Every so often, I download the photos we've taken on the digital camera and select a few to send to Alexander's paternal grandmother, who then posts them on her site. I know I've mentioned this before.
Lately, when I do this, I try to come up with clever captions. Some of the recent photos have had a bit more liveliness to them... Alexander's coming up with all sorts of new facial expressions, etc. I love his expression in this one (for comedic purposes, of course... this isn't an expression I want to see on an everyday basis!):
My original caption for this one was "Cornell's going to cost how much?" But I'm not so sure that works. What do you think?
What would *you* suggest as a caption for this photo? Click on the comments link below and share! :-)
October 21, 2002
Yesterday, October 20th, marked the three-month anniversary of Alexander Benjamin's arrival into the world. This evening, while I was out at a meeting, marked another milestone in Alexander's life: he turned from lying on his back onto his side.
He turned! And I wasn't here to see it!
The kid is going to be crawling around in no time!
Alexander's paternal grandfather was here for a visit this past weekend, leaving our fair city just this afternoon (and thus, like me, just missed seeing Alexander turning on his side for the first time). A fun visit was had by all. I'll post a picture or two, shortly. And this time, I mean it!
October 11, 2002
Alexander turned 11 weeks old last Saturday. He'll be 12 weeks old on the 12th of this month (that's tomorrow). I haven't been as good about posting pictures as I was a while ago. Part of that (admittedly, only a small part) has been not wanting for Alexander to take over my web site -- I know that not all of you come here just to hear his Daddy gush about what a great kid he is.
Then again, I haven't been posting regularly, anyway. But I *have* still been taking pictures. Every once in a while, I forward the full images to my mother, who then makes them suitable for the web and posts them on her site. Although, I notice the last batch or two still isn't up yet. Hint, Mom. Hint.
Still, some of you have asked to see something more recent, and I particularly like this photo of Alexander that Paulette took just a few days ago. As the budding photogs we are, we've been playing with lighting, backgrounds, etc., and I think that everything came together quite nicely on this one.
Alexander remains happy and healthy, and he'll be meeting his paternal grandfather for the first time in about a week. Every day, he makes more (as in different) sounds and offers more facial expressions. His smile is huuuuuge. He still can't change the fuel pump in the car but, fortunately, the fuel pump should last a little longer yet.
I'm told that once he's three months old (which isn't that far away at this point), he'll be even more interactive than he is now. I guess once he starts eating solid foods, he be even *more* interactive. (This is a sly reference to the fact that he doesn't produce anything that smells bad... yet.)
Ain't he a cutie? Sorry for the long download time, but I just had to share this picture.
September 12, 2002
It's going to happen sooner or later. The Kid is going to start crawling. Then, I am told, the trouble begins.
They say (you know... they) that you (meaning anyone with a kid) need to childproof your home by the time your child can move around. Cover up the electrical outlets. put gates at the top and the bottom of each staircase, at the entryway to your kitchen, etc. Move all chemicals up from the bottom cabinets. Likewise, the medicines in your bathroom drawers. Padding on furniture corners. Bolt the bookcases to the wall and similarly secure the television. Pick up any sharp objects. Pick up any objects small enough to fit into the kids mouth.
It's a lot of work. I don't think they are thinking this whole situation through. Think like an engineer. You can go through all this effort to childproof your house. Or...
You can houseproof your child.
After all, it's the child who is the single changed factor in the situation. Your house doesn't suddenly require all this attention; your *child* requires you to pay this attention to the house. But, wouldn't it be easier to cushion your kid than to cushion the house?
In the old days, they didn't childproof houses. No, sir. I remember quite clearly. They had big ol' splitters on the electrical outlets that turned two outlets into six, which then had extension cords or three-way splitters in each socket, with every new socket occupied by some lamp or other device with exposed wires, etc. We had roller chairs that the child in question could sit in and move around the house by psuedo-walking. These little death traps could take a kid right down the stairs, yes-indeedy, and a child only made that kind of mistake five or six times before learning to stop doing that.
Likewise, licking electrical wires was usually a self-correcting behavior. I remember quite distinctly one time when I touched an exposed plug that was only half-way inserted in the outlet. After I let out a yelp, one of the adults nearby -- back in those days, it took a village. I had both parents, half a dozen aunts and uncles, and then grandparents, extended family, and friends of the family -- said to me, "Betcha won't do that again." And he was right.
If the kid started playing with the TV or bookshelf or whatever, the standard mode of operations went like this:
1) yell "NO" at the kid
2) if that didn't work, slap the kid's hand
3) if that didn't work, spank
4) if that didn't work, use The Rack
5) if that didn't work, use the Mace
6) if that didn't work, burn at the stake
This method was usually quite effective, and most of my generation learned the lesson without having to go beyond step five. In this way, the house was duly protected from the child with minimal effort expended by the parents.
These days, we don't have a village of adults to watch over the kids. These days, it's extremely not in vogue to spank or yell or show disapproval of any sort. And yet, I'm reticent to spend all the time, money, and energy to child-proof my house.
So once the Kid starts crawling, here's my plan:
* You know those white plastic cones that vets put around the necks of cats or dogs when they don't want the animal to scratch its head? Put one of those on the Kid. That way, he can't put anything sharp or small anywhere near his face. This should also protect him from fiddling with electrical outlets.
* Wrap up the Kid in thick, padded clothes. A down-filled jumper and a thick, knit hat ought to do it (plus thick mittens, of course). Now, sharp corners are no longer a problem.
No muss, no fuss. The kid can still crawl around, but he will be safe. And so will the house. And there will be no beatings involved, no expressions of disapproval. Everybody wins. :-)
August 24, 2002
Okay, my *next* entry will be an entry either about religion or writing (or both), and not about the kid. I promise.
But, for now, let me just wax philosophical on the fact that Alexander had his one month check-up this past Friday. The doctor (well, the doctor's non-nurse practitioner assistant, actually) takes all kinds of measurements to make sure that the kid is growing correctly by comparing the kid to other kids the same age.
Alexander is in the 90-95% range of height (or length) for a baby his age. This means that 90 to 95 percent of the babies his age are shorter (or, uh, less long) than he is. Thus, he is growing well. Now, when he was born, he was in the 70th percentile or so. He is growing *fast*. In fact, he's still averaging about an inch per week, as I'd noted a few weeks ago, which means he is still on target to be seven and a half feet tall by his first birthday.
His weight is in the 75th percentile, which is good, because that means he's not as fat as other kids as tall as he is. As we all know, looks are everything, and fat babies are doomed.
His skull is now in the 75th percentile. When he was born, he was in the 90 to 95% range. Thus, his head isn't growing as quickly as his height. Don't know what that means, but if he's anything like his daddy, he'll have a bigger head than the rest of the kids before too long.
Oh, wait. Nevermind.
* The volume of his screams is only at the 50th percentile, but the quality of harmonics (the "Piercing Factor") is closer to 70%.
* He is so white, they can't even measure it. All factors indicate he will eat Miracle Whip on white bread, watch Laverne and Shirley reruns, and listen to country music. He can't dance. If he plays sports, he'll either swim or play hockey.
* His flatulence is in the 45th percentile in quantity, but only 35% in quality.
* His cuteness is in the 95th percentile, but apparently so are the majority of other babies. Sounds statistically dubious to me.
Alexander Benjamin is healthy and happy, and doing okay for a one-month old. We hope his pleasant disposition will carry through for our road trip to ConJose, a science fiction writers' and fans' convention being held in San Jose this year.
...that's a long, long drive, even if the kid is in good spirits! :-)
August 22, 2002
Haven't written much lately, and I'm not just refering to ye olde web site. I haven't written an original scene for a story in a couple of weeks now... that's the horror story I'm writing about how sleep deprivation drives a father insane. I haven't been writing, but I guess I've been doing some, uh, field research.
Never fear, I'll resume posting pictures and writing more goofball essays soon enough. (I know this was a big worry of yours. :-)
In the meantime, Alexander has turned a month old (that was the 20th) and he doesn't look a day over four weeks. As I mentioned earlier, we've been making a point of bringing the little tyke with us to various events, and we have even had him baby-sat *twice* now so that Paulette and I could go do stuff out of the house. Okay, the first time was so that we could see a movie (Signs, which is about children in jeapordy. Ack!) and the second time was so that we could get our respective work done for a few hours in peace. But, the proof of concept is there.
The next big task for our little family is a road trip, which is coming up soon. We've already driven down half the state to meet up with good friends who flew in from across the country, but now we're talking about driving down half the country. Should be fun.
If I get around to it, I'll probably write to you tomorrow to tell you how/why I'm so morose about the prospects of building a successful writing career. Arrrrgh. In the meantime, I think I'll try to squeeze in my daily ration of four hours sleep.
August 05, 2002
This two-part essay about "Changes" is not, ultimately, about having a newborn in the house, but that *is* where the essay begins. I'm starting off with an illustration, as it were, of one kind of life changing event, but there will actually be some content here that is not baby-related.
Allow me to start off my illustration, however, with a few baby pictures, since visuals are always fun.
In addition to the pictures I posted here when Alexander was first born, I've been sending along photos to Alexander's paternal grandmother who has been posting these additional photos on her site. I particularly like the batch at the bottom of page three, which I had taken when Alexander was only one week old.
I haven't had as much time as I'd like to scale the full versions of the photos I have down to a manageable size on the web, so I've been kind enough to allow Alexander's grandmother to take care of that. However, I *am* taking photos, and I simply *must* call attention to a couple that I'd taken yesterday, the day after he turned two weeks old.
It's amazing how much can change in a mere two weeks. The changes in Alexander's appearance only capture part of it; there are changes in how he vocalizes, changes in how he sleeps, changes in how he interacts. Naturally, we're still figuring things out. When he's awake, he's a very alert baby; when he is not happy with the world situation, he's very vocal about it. Each day is different in terms of how awake, how happy, how upset, and how hungry he is.
Alexander's mood, like anyone's, is prone to changing frequently and often. In a newborn, however, those mood changes do not appear to be terribly subtle or sophisticated. As adults, our emotions might shift several times within an hour, but the shift is rarely profound enough to be noticeable to outside observers... or even to ourselves. For example, in the mail, Paulette and I receive a gift for the little one from a friend, and I am happy. In the same pile of mail, there's the new car payment bill. I'm concerned. I drop the mail onto the kitchen counter and realize I'm hungry.
Little Alexander's shifts are a little more abrupt. He is set down on a favorite couch, as in the photo above, and he is happy. He remembers that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is off by several hundred points, as in the action shot below, and he is concerned.
This change took place within about ten seconds, in a photo shoot that lasted about, oh, thirty seconds.
When Paulette and I first started telling people that we were expecting, the most frequent response was "this will change your life forever." And of course, my most frequent thought about this response was, "Well, duh." Getting a puppy changes your life. Getting a driver's license changes your life. Forever! Anything that shifts your responsibilities and your capabilities has some profound effect on the quality and shape of your life.
Has Alexander changed my life? Certainly. But the whole idea that "having a kid changes your life" is trivial. It's a tautology.
Try this one on for size: life is all about change. Change *is* life. Once you stop changing, your life is ostensibly over.
*That* will be the focus of the second part of this essay.
...to be continued...
A friend of mine sent me the following. I didn't realize he was such a clever artist; I love the way he makes this look like a well known comic strip:
Sleep deprivation is nothing new to me (or Paulette), of course. I'm informed by my friends that the sleep deprivation that goes along with having kids usually tapers off after about, oh, twenty years or so.
July 26, 2002
Q: Is there anything that you guys need for Alexander?
A: Well, yeah, there are a few things here and there, so we set up a baby registry through Babies 'R' Us (That's "We B Babies 'N' Shit" in West Philadelphia), which in turn has an online store through Amazon.com. Kind of you to ask!
July 25, 2002
Q: Will you post any more baby pictures?
A: Oh, okay.
Q: Will he go by Alex or Alexander?
A: The jury's still out on that one. But he seems to be nonresponsive to both, equally, at present. A friend of the family has noted that four syllables ain't likely to survive all that long. Neither Paulette nor I are particularly concerned one way or the other, so you may call him as you like. Paulette and I mostly call him "Pumpkin," "Pistachio," and other assorted terms of endearment. I wonder whether he'll ever actually learn what his real name is from us.
Q: When can we come over to see him?
A: When can you get here? Just please call first, as we might be napping.
Q: What did he weigh when he was born?
A: Just under eight pounds (7lbs 15oz). According to our doctor visit earlier today, he currently weights 7lbs 12oz, which is a remarkable recovery (since most babies lose weight at first and take a couple of weeks to get back to their birth weight.)
Q: How long was he?
A: 19in, I think. He measured 20in today. At this rate of growth, he'll be just over seven and a half feet tall by his first birthday. (Hey, if that kind of logic is good enough for Wall Street, as it has been until only recently....)
Q: Other than the jaundice, is he okay?
A: Yeppers. A very healthy baby
Q: Do you really plan to start taking him with you to events *this week*?
A: As some of you may be aware, we'd originally hoped to bring the baby to an event this past Saturday (this was before it became obvious he wasn't going to be born *until* Saturday.) Alas, the late birth and the c-section have slowed us down a little bit. But, yes, we are already taking him out for walks and have already started introducing him to friends and family. While Paulette's recovery from the c-section is astounding, she's still not going to be hiking up and down stairs much any time soon. Still, you are likely to see us at the next Clarion West party (that's this Friday. Tomorrow.), since all we have to do is drive there (we've already mastered the art of driving with the baby) and sit down... then get up and leave. BTW, that's not just some bravado talk from the dad. That's Paulette's way of putting it. Her words, and everything. I'd be okay with staying home, if that's what she wanted, but it isn't... and I'm okay with that, too.
That's all for now. I'm going to bed. :-)
Paulette and Baby Alexander are safe at home now. We had a pretty good "Day Five." Highlights included: getting through our first night at home, discovering that pacifiers can pacify, even when baby is getting an immunization shot right in the thigh (he didn't cry, the little guy), having Alexander fall asleep while resting on my shoulder for the first time since he went into "the Box."
As we left the hospital with our baby yesterday, and none too soon, I had to take a snapshot of part of the sign that graces the entryway to the "birthing suites" (hospital rooms with baby stuff) because I had walked by and read it several times every day for the first four days of Alexander's life. It's a depressing thought, really, attributed to Charles Dickens. Something along the lines of "Each baby born is finer than the last."
Every time I walked by it, it seemed to me that by Chuck's account, our baby was getting less and less fine, relatively speaking, with every passing moment. I must disagree on that score.
July 24, 2002
I'm going to the hospital to pick up Alexander and Paulette *right now*. The doctors say he's made wonderful improvement, so we get to bring him home. Happy day!
Well, there's lots to tell. And there have been lots of requests for photos. Please excuse any long delays in loading this page, but you asked, so here come the photos.
The short version of the first four or so days in Alexander's life go like this:
Friday morning, 7:30am. We load up and drive in to the hospital. The plan is to be induced, because we are two weeks plus one day past the due date, which makes getting that baby born as soon as possible Medically Necessary.
We show up at the hospital on time (8am), check into our room (it's like a hotel, fer crying out loud) and meet our nurse, who is amazing. Monitors are set up, vitals are taking, IV is begun, and the process gets rolling.
I won't describe all the gory details of how induction and labor work. The long and the short of it is, things are going great until, well, the baby refuses to come out. By around 11:30pm, the doctor decides that we may want to try some clever techniques (like vacuum extraction), so we move into the "delivery room."
"Delivery Room" is a euphemism for "Operating Room," by the way.
They try everything, realize that the baby isn't coming out that way, and decide to go for a cesarean section. The entire team is quick and professional, and they take care of the baby and Paulette with a minimum of fuss.
Alexander doesn't cry when he's born. I get to hold him, then bring him over to Paulette. His hands and feet are purple, but the rest of him looks mighty normal. He has some hair, and these big blue eyes. Here's what he looked like after he was two hours old. Notice that the hands have already pinked right up:
After we return to our room from the operating-- delivery room, the nurse suggests that I put on the first diaper, and she took a photo since I had the camera out. I think she was surprised that I had no problem with putting on the diaper.
Anyway, Paulette and the baby get to take in some sleep after the first feeding, and all is going well, but I can't sleep at all. The accommodations for the father are, uh, not so good. At least, in our room. I return the next day to find Paulette and her mother (who is visiting from out of town) have things well under control. Day one proceeds fairly smoothly, with the occasional feedings, sleep, and soiled diapers. I leave that night in the care of Paulette's mother, and we decide that I'll take the day shifts and she (Paulette's mother) will take the nights. So far, so good.
When I come back the next morning, I discover that one of the nurses has decided that the baby looks a little bit yellowish, so they check Alexander's blood tests. Turns out that he *may* be creeping into jaundice territory, so they take even more blood, which sets him to screaming for the first time. This (combined with an increasing case of jaundice, as it turns out) tuckers the poor kid out, so feeding becomes very difficult. However, feeding is very important to combat jaundice. Day Two was rough, with lots of crying and resisting the program. (And, no, I'm not just referring to myself.)
We had to keep Alexander wrapped up with an illuminated pad against his back which emitted ultraviolet light. This is supposed to help the jaundice.
I go home. Come back the next morning, and it turns out that the pad isn't working. So, they've put Alexander into an incubator that is bathed in ultraviolet light. They've attached Geordi LaForge-like fasteners on his temples to hold a cover over his eyes to protect them from the light.
While they look like "visor implants" from Star Trek: The Next Generation, they are really just velcro pads in the shape of a heart that are Crazy Glued to his temples. His "visor" is a little cushioned set of sunglasses with velcro fasteners at the ends. When he sits in his incubator, it's hard not to imagine all sorts of science fiction images.
In fact, I must digress for a second to point out just how science fiction-esque the whole birth process is. Let's see, there's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the 1974 version, with the hatching of the pod people. There's Alien with the c-section (and the hospital food, har, har). The Abyss, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Species also come to mind.
The writer's mind at work, I suppose.
Our Martian Baby had a much better Day Three than Day Two, as he got into a routine with the coming out of "The Box" (my term for the incubator) to feed, getting a chance to see the world for about half an hour or so, and then going back into blind-folded contemplation in his ultraviolet solitary cell. He slept better, fed better, and his mother was doing likewise. Everyone was happier.
Day four, and the routine hasn't changed much, except that we're tired of the routine and we're pretty much ready to all go home. The food at the hospital is actually not bad, but it's a limited menu. Paulette is ready to spend some quality time at home, and we'd really like the chance to let the kid enjoy his new home rather than spending time in the Box. The doctors are optimistic that we'll be able to bring him home tomorrow (Wednesday). Wish us luck.
As for me, I just want to hold the guy. Right now, all I get to do is change a diaper or two. It breaks my heart to keep blindfolding him and putting him into an incubator. :-(
And that's the one thing I'm really leaving out of this little description of events: the emotional ups and downs of labor, birth, and recovery. I'm as analytical as the next guy when it comes to solving a problem or pursuing a goal, but the emotions that go along with the events of the past few days are something else. They are hard to describe without sounding mushy to anyone who hasn't been there, or sounding woefully inadequate to someone who has.
I'm pleased to say that Paulette is recovering quite nicely from the operation, and she appears to be in excellent spirits (although, as I mentioned, she'd like to come home now). Her mother has been a wonderful help, and we're all glad that Alexander and his Grandma Dwen will get to spend some quality time before she heads back home. (Alexander's paternal grandparents will get to visit in a couple weeks.)
That's all for now. I need to get some rest before driving back to the hospital in the morning. There will certainly be more news to follow, and I'll bet there's even some non-baby-related news that awaits us all. In the meantime, Thanks again for reading, and don't be bashful about dropping me a line!
July 21, 2002
Paulette and Allan Rousselle are proud to announce the birth of their son:
Born July 20th, 2002 at 12:12 am (Pacific Time)
7 lbs, 15 3/4 oz
Mother and child are doing well and will be coming home from the hospital in a few days.
Pictures will be posted here in a day or two.
Thank you all for your support, kindness, and well wishes.
July 18, 2002
No baby yet.
July 15, 2002
No baby, yet.
But I did make some spicy jamalaya tonight, just in case that might help. :-)
In writing news: everything that I have that is ready to go out there is currently out there. The novel and several short stories are making the rounds. When they come back, I send them back out. I have another short story I hope to send out by the end of this week. It's probably the only pre-Clarion West story that I'll end up sending out any time soon.
Stories being out there means I'm opening my writing up for more rejection. Stories kept safely at home means I'm not going to get published. So, out they go!
July 13, 2002
No baby yet. :-P
July 11, 2002
The answer is no. No baby yet.
July 09, 2002
The title above does not refer to my constant rejections from magazines that are not inclined to publish my short stories. Rather, it refers to how every phone conversation must now begin.
You see, since just about everyone I talk to on a regular basis on the phone knows that my wife and I are expecting a baby -- were, in fact, expecting it this past "In"dependence Day -- they therefore assume at the beginning of every phone conversation that 1) if I called them, then I have news about the baby being born, or 2) if they called me, then I have news about the baby being born.
No! The Answer is No! There is no baby! The baby has not been born yet! There is no news!
And so every phone conversation must begin thusly.
Of all of the things that I had expected to happen as a result of impending parenthood, this never even made the list. Never even *occurred* to me.
June 11, 2002
I've been planning for months now to write a little essay about how much annoying advice I get whenever someone finds out that 1) I'm trying to get a book published, 2) I'm going to be a father soon, and/or 3) I vote.
As you can see, however, I haven't gotten around to it yet. And, while some people have been so passionate about their advice ("You have to do such and such...") that I'm inclined to tell them to buzz off, most of the advice has been well intentioned and not overly dogmatic.
Got a great piece of advice today, though, about the upcoming arrival. Said a good friend who recently became a mom: for the first couple of weeks after the baby is born, don't let anyone come over to visit unless they bring something. And most especially, grant no one baby-holding privileges if they didn't bring food. Since, for the first couple of weeks, the new parents will not have much opportunity to step out of the house, it is most helpful if others bring what you need to you.
I like it. Good advice that allows me to act in a silly and autocratic fashion and *justifies* it! :-)
June 03, 2002
So, today I went to "Infant Care" class.
I learned how to bathe a baby and change a diaper.
I learned that toilet training is easier with cloth diapers than with disposables.
When I grabbed the nearest doll (they had these life-sized infant dolls for us to practice upon), it happened to be a black baby doll. When I got to my seat and saw all of the other parents, I noticed that the white parents all got white baby dolls, and the black parents all got black baby dolls. The parents of apparently Asian ethnicity got white baby dolls. Once again, I had mistakenly and inadvertently failed to conform with convention. Luckily, nobody arrested me. But I was a little uncomfortable at having bucked some convention that the room had adopted.
So, I guess I learned that I'm still uncomfortable when I don't conform, even when conformity is stupid.
May 29, 2002
Have you noticed that, aside from babbling about writing projects, my web site has been relatively content-free lately? Are you wondering why I'm getting into this weird kick about "commitments?"
There are many reasons for that, but I guess it's time to 'fess up to the biggest reason of them all. I've been mum here on the website on pretty much the most important thing going on in my life, because I wasn't ready just yet to introduce this "new" factor into public discussion whilst I was in the middle of dealing with it. But it's hard to hide now:
Paulette and I are expecting our first baby this summer. In fact, the due date (I'm told that only four percent of births happen on the "due date") is July 4th.
Eight months into the pregnancy, and everything seems to be going smoothly (says the male portion of the team)... at least, as far as the baby's and mother's health are concerned.
Now, the fact that we're broke, and that one of our cars just died (permanently), and that my vertigo problems haven't gone away, and that working from home is about to get *much* more complicated, well... maybe "smooth" isn't the most appropriate term to describe the situation at Casa Rousselle.
Nonetheless, balancing baby, finances, "job" career, writing career, personal commitments, spiritual and intellectual health, and physical health -- not to mention the all-important Relationship between Paulette and me -- should make for interesting times.
I'm looking forward to being a Dad.
Copyright (c)1998 - 2010 by Allan Rousselle. All rights reserved, all wrongs reversed, all reservations righted, all right, already.
Click here to send me mail.