Sophie is nearly one and a half (or “18 months,” as I guess all the cool parents say), and all of a sudden, she isn’t a little baby anymore.

I mean, sure, she probably looks like one to you. But to the two of us, watching her go tearing through the house on a daily basis, and listening to her speak in complete sentences (”All done taking a nap!” “Where is my pacifier?” “No more tuna. Put it back on the plate”) is surreal and sort of amazing.

It’s like she always tells us: “Not a baby anymore.” (Actually, since she can’t really pronounce her R’s yet, it comes out “anymoy”…but whatever.)

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows my stubborn and unyielding wife that Sophie has very definite ideas about what she wants, what she wants to do, and — most importantly — what she wants you to do. She’s been fairly easy to distract until very recently, but that’s changing, and I can see a time coming when it might be necessary to send her to boarding school.

I’m just kidding. (Boarding schools are very expensive.)

We had a lot of problems getting her to sleep through the night — problems which really haven’t entirely gone away — but in pretty much every other respect, we’ve been extremely, extremely lucky with this little girl. She’s been nothing but healthy, she’s very vocal and affectionate, and she makes us laugh all the time. Not to mention the fact that we’re living in a house with more than enough room for the three of us, on a beautiful piece of land in the middle of a beautiful part of the country, and that Leah works 10 minutes from home, and I work wherever my laptop happens to be plugged in.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because Sophie’s been going through a very clingy/hell NO I won’t nap phase, which has made working from home more of a balancing act than it normally is, at a time when work has been particularly intense and/or challenging. Which is why I haven’t written anything longer than a few words here in, oh, forever. Not because of her, necessarily, but because even if you’re living in a beautiful house in the beautiful country with your beautiful daughter babbling up and down the hallway, it’s still very easy to get wrapped up in other stuff. There’s always something else to do. It’s easy to stop being a Parent, and become someone with a child. To get stressed out, to forget about what really matters, to get to the end of every week and wonder where the days went.

So during these trying last few days, I’ve been thinking about how this isn’t supposed to be easy. From a certain point of view, it’s sort of the job of your children to break you open, shake you around, and help you become a better person — less focused on nominal goals, quicker to honest emotions, and soooooooooo much more patient.

None of these things are particularly descriptive of me. But I’m working on it.

She helps me, too. This afternoon, she woke up from her nap way too early, and was all kinds of upset even after I went in and got her out of her crib. This may come as a surprise to you, but a little person screaming in your ear isn’t a lot of fun, and since I already wasn’t thrilled about her throwing an extra-large monkey wrench into my work schedule, I was having a hard time coping with the volume. I needed to calm down. I stopped, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. Sophie, seeing that I was upset, touched my chin to turn my face toward her and said, softly, “…wonderful girl?”

I know when I’m beat.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things that need to be put off until tomorrow while I get down on the carpet and play with my little girl.


Sophie turned one last Friday (and walked for the first time!) — we’ve been busy with our houseguests this week, so this is a little late, but we wanted to share some footage of our little girl in action. She’s a toddler all of a sudden!

Click on the picture of the birthday pie to see the movie. As always, RealPlayer (or the generic equivalent) required. Next: Sophie, Year Two!


So, here we are, in New Hampshire, and after what seems like many months of insanity, life is returning to normal. Which should, in turn, lead to the long-promised awakening of this here website from its extended slumber.

To the much older Sophie who is reading this and wondering why we didn’t do any in-depth chronicling of the last six or seven months of her life: If you had just been willing to go to sleep once in awhile, kid, it would have been so much easier.

Anyway, before we commence talking in detail about how cute our baby Bean is, and all the products we could not have lived without during the last nine months, I was inspired by J at Thinking About… to share some genuine celebrity correspondence.

That’s right, I’m talking about the Supernanny. Well, specifically, someone who works in casting at Supernanny, but whatever. The point is, we have an autographed picture of a real live television celebrity and you don’t. So there.

Dig it.

But that isn’t all. I will now share with you the unexcerpted wisdom offered to us by Supernanny. (Again, this was technically written by someone who works for her, but I’m sure she dictated it. Or at least read it before it was mailed out):

Dear Mrs. Giles,

Thank you for watching Supernanny! We understand that all parents need a little help sometimes, and that’s why Jo is happy to help. Sure, maybe you’re not the best parent in the world, maybe you huck whiskey bottles at cop cars while taking your child for a stroll, but who can honestly say they’ve never done that?

Jo Frost, Supernanny, understands. We hope you like the signed photo of Jo, as well as the car window shade.

And always remember what Jo says: “Your children are like flowers; flowers who will one day grow up and be pretty pissed off at you for being such a crappy parent, and who’ll probably try to murder you, probably in your sleep, and to make it even more painful, they’ll probably do it while pretending that they love you, so, you know, look out for that, and also, be careful when anyone loves you.”


[name redacted]

Supernanny, Inc.

You are so unbelievably jealous right now that you don’t even know what to do with yourself.

Be back soon!



Have I mentioned how much I love being Sophie’s stay-at-home dad?

I won’t lie, I was a little freaked out going in. Leah likes to tell people that I’ve had more experience with babies than she has, but my younger siblings are all in their 20s now — that was a long time ago. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to get any work done. But honestly, Sophie’s a peach (and a Bean). She sleeps, she wakes up, she eats, we play, repeat. Today, we actually had some sun, for the first time in I don’t know how long, so she and I went for a little walk.

Driving back from the hospital the night she was born, I realized that everything I’d ever worried about in my entire life was totally meaningless next to what had just happened. Just a mosquito’s hiccup in the wind. Everybody tells you how your life changes the instant your child is born; it’s one of those things (for me, anyway) that you hear so often it doesn’t really register anymore. But it’s absolutely true.

It seemed like we waited forever for Sophie to be born, and I realize now that the whole time, I was certain on some level that there was no way this could all work out. I mean, making babies is pretty simple and lots of fun. But I guess — if you’re me, anyway — as soon as you want one, it seems like you’re going to need an endless list of things to happen perfectly, exactly right just to have a happy birth. (And then the real worrying begins, right?)

I didn’t realize I was holding my breath after Sophie came out, but I was. And hearing her cry for the first time unleashed the sweetest flood of relief I think I’ve ever felt. There’s nothing like hearing that first cry. And then to hold her — to look at this living thing that’s really, holy crap, a part of you — well, wow.

I felt a tremendous amount of guilt at first. I mean, this is just an embarrassment of riches, too much for anyone to be blessed with, right? My wife, my family, my friends, my health, our baby. I spent some time waiting for the other shoe to drop — feeling like the unbelievably stupid way I’ve lived my life, combined with this unbelievable good fortune, was going to tilt the balance of the universe so far out of whack that the only way to fix the situation would be for the forces of the cosmos to pull some kind of “yoink” on the proud new parents.

And that’s another thing: Having a child has enabled me to, for the first time, really understand why people believe in God and religion. Not only is it comforting to believe in a being great enough to dwarf your immense new responsibilities, but it’s impossible not to look in your child’s eyes and want to believe in divinity. Some kind of universal plan for life. The idea that, if you get your ducks in a row, you can help shield your family from the bad stuff — or, barring that, the idea that things will be better in the next life, or the afterlife, or whatever.

Like I said: It changes you. Instantly.

I don’t feel guilty anymore, just incredibly fortunate. I couldn’t have imagined a better baby, and I can’t believe I get to stay home with her for awhile. Not many fathers get to spend this kind of time getting to know their child.

I’ve been a lot of things so far in my life, but nothing compares to fatherhood. She is both my main concern and my greatest joy. And it just keeps getting better.