Spring Sprung 001

There are still a few patches of snow on the ground, but spring is definitely here. And the best part of spring, too — we haven’t had much rain lately, so the ground is dry, and the tiny winged demons they call blackflies haven’t arrived yet. We get a few golden days to shake off our cabin fever and enjoy the great outdoors, so that’s what we did this weekend — we went to the park in Keene.

Going to the park probably sounds kind of ridiculous, given where we live, but hey, it was an adventure — and besides, the park is next to Starbucks, so it only made sense to stop in and get some iced coffee for our stroll. Highs in the mid-70s, clear blue skies…it was a perfect day.

Sprung 048
Sprung 101

Later, we headed over to the Stoddard school so Sophie could experience the playground. Historically, she’s never been a very physical girl — she’s always been more likely to hang back and watch things rather than climbing on them — but she’s coming into her own.

Sprung 143

I recently read A.J. Jacobs’ The Year of Living Biblically — a Christmas gift from my parents — and aside from frequently laughing out loud and learning a bunch, I was inspired to swear off work one day a week. I used to work a half day on Saturday and pretty much the whole day Sunday, but for the last two weeks, I’ve practiced my own version of Shabbat on Saturday — the computers go off Friday night and don’t go back on until Sunday morning. I look forward to an entire summer of Saturday adventures.


Offspring 014

What? Quit looking at me that way. You think I don’t know how long it’s been? Believe me, I know. Don’t you judge me.

So anyway, yes, I’d planned on posting like sixteen updates between this one and the last one, but obviously, it totally didn’t work out that way. Part of the problem: I was working a lot, on account of Leah being on extended (read: unpaid) maternity leave, and seeing as how “work” for me means “lots of writing,” I have generally tended to find myself without additional words after punching out at the end of the day.

But that’s just an excuse, and excuses aren’t for daddies, even daddies whose fingers are numb from typing and who might find it a little easier to capture parenthood’s neverending succession of precious frigging moments if maybe, once in awhile, the children would go to bed at night and actually stay asleep.

But I digress. Spring is in the air and it’s out with the old, in with the new! I have resolved to work less, play more, and do a better job of making sure we have a written record of all the pint-sized cuteness happening here on a regular basis. Witness the exchange that took place last night, as I was saying goodnight to Sophie:

Sophie: I’m going to sleep all night tonight.

Me: You are?

Sophie: Yes. Will you be happy?

Me: Oh, honey. I’m always happy. I have a perfect girl and a perfect boy, and your mom is perfect too. And look where we live! What is there not to be happy about?

Sophie: Would you be happy if I punched you in the eye?

I swear this conversation happened exactly as I have written it. My verbal little girl is going to be quite the terror in school — she can identify all the letters of the alphabet, knows her left from her right, and is prone to mangling adult speech with wonderful phrases like “the fact of the matter all” (as in: “Sophie, I don’t want you to play with that.” “The fact of the matter all, Mom, I’m going to do it anyway”).

As for our little man, well, he could sleep better than he does, but he’s very easy to put in the crib, and is, overall, the mellowest, happiest, giggliest baby I think I’ve ever seen. Sophie was always very serious and quiet:


Whereas her little brother is always smiling and laughing/screeching like a parakeet:

Smiling Boy 2

This dynamic, needless to say, will be fun to watch develop.

Oh, and speaking of child relations, we’ve been very fortunate; Sophie is always very gentle and sweet with Owen. We had a few weeks where we were worried about her behavior, but her outbursts were always directed at adults — and they seem to have been cured by the tried-and-true Calendar Sticker System. Not only that, she seems to be weaning herself off diapers — due in no small part to the arrival of a bunch of Ariel the Little Mermaid undies, courtesy of her Mimi Cheri, which cannot be worn until Sophie’s had a solid week of dry diapers. (We are, as of this moment, midway through Day 2.)

So there you have it: Everything I can remember from the last four months. The next update will have to come faster…right?


Here’s our blog timeline for 2007:

February: We find out Leah’s pregnant.
March-July: We hold off on posting about it here, first because we’re waiting out the three-month superstition, then because we’re lazy.
August-September: The company that had been hosting Screaming Little Person — along with every other site under the Grab Bag Design umbrella — went belly up without notice, leaving all our data stranded on inaccessible servers.
October: Through the valiant efforts of Rahul, all the old SLP posts are rescued.
October 20: Sophie turns two.
November: At 9 P.M. on November 21, Sophie’s little brother is born. Owen James weighs 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and measures 20 1/2″ inches.

Here he is!

Up Close Owen 006

So now it’s December 8th. Why am I just posting about it now, you might be asking, to which I grumpily reply that you must not have kids of your own.

I laugh at people who say they miss having a baby in the house. You want a baby in the house? You can have this one. I feel like I should warn you, though, that I’m pretty sure he’s trying to kill us. It started out as just kind of a hunch, but the older he gets, the more certain I am. Once he’s a little more ambulatory, I fully expect to wake up in the middle of the night and find him standing over me, ready to plunge a butter knife into my ear, like Gage from Pet Sematary. I haven’t started a college fund for him yet, because I’m afraid he’ll find out and push me in front of a bus to get it.

Leah thinks he’s cute. This is an example of how differently people deal with sleep deprivation.

Sophie, for her part, has dealt with our new arrival wonderfully. Aside from one morning when she announced to everyone in the kitchen that “that thing in the swing” was “bothering” her, she’s had very few moments of the kind of post-sibling freakouts we were bracing ourselves for. She’s always kissing him, or announcing that she loves him, or sleeping through the night. Oh God, how I love it when she sleeps through the night.

Sophie and Owen 014

Leah’s mom has been with us since about a week before Owen was born, and I cannot possibly overstate how many times she’s saved our collective ass. She’s going home today. I don’t want to talk about it.


It’s my intention to make Saturday my Screaming Little Person posting day from here on out — our time to talk about what our little Persons have been up to. I’m working on a pair of videos — one for Sophie’s second birthday, one for Owen’s arrival — but it’s slow going. Maybe next week, if I can broker some sort of truce with my son. Wish me luck.



Favorite Foods:
Breakfast: English muffins with butter; fried eggs; granola and yogurt; frozen blueberries (A.K.A. “bloobs”)
Lunch: Bagel chips and hummus; tuna and bread; homemade meatballs; veggie “chicken” nuggets with ketchup; green beans, olives, or carrots; goldfish crackers; fig newtons
Dinner: All of the above, in any acceptable combination, plus whatever we’re having, if she’ll eat it
Dessert (occasional): Mom’s “secret cookies” (I’m not sure who taught her that); Lucky Charms (marshmallows first, cat food-looking pieces if forced); ice cream; chocolate (word pronounced with great care — one of her first sentences was “Choc-o-late? Like some? Have a bite?”)

Favorite Songs:
1. “Rubber Duckie,” Ernie
2. “Again and Again,” The Bird and The Bee
3. “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” The Police
4. Anything with a beat

Favorite Books:
1. Karma Wilson’s Bear series, including Bear Snores On, Bear Wants More, Bear Stays Up, and Bear’s New Friend
2. Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece and the Big O
3. Goodnight Moon
4. Dr. Seuss’ Many-Colored Days
5. Guess Who’s Coming, Jesse Bear?
6. Pretty much anything by Eric Carle

Exclamations Likely Learned From Mother:
1. “Oh my Lord in heaven”
2. “My goodness”
3. “I’m so excited, I can’t believe it” / “I can’t believe it” (also “I can’t believe it either”)
4. “What in the world is going on?”
5. “Dear God”
6. “Oh my God” / “My God” / “Oh my gosh”

Exclamations Likely Learned From Father:
1. “Jesus”
2. “Damn squirrel”
3. “What the hell was that?” (heard for the first time in the car, as in: “Heard a loud noise. What the hell was that?”)
4. “Dammit” (also pronounced with great care [and joy])

Favorite Adult Behaviors to Model:
1. Pick up phone, hold to ear, say “Hello, mother”
2. Bang (or stand) on children’s Vtech laptop, mutter to self as if working: “Okay…we go back here…cut it…paste it…okay…”

Consistently Identified Colors:
1. Blue
2. Yellow
3. Green
4. Orange

Consistently Identified Letters:
1. S (”is for Sophie!”)
2. M (”is for Mom!”)
3. D (”is for Dad!”)
4. W
5. P
6. O
7. I
8. B
9. L
10. E

Favorite Television Shows:
1. Jack’s Big Music Show
2. Maisy
3. The Backyardigans
4. Sesame Street (distant fourth)

Least Favorite Things:
1. Sleep
2. “No”
3. Car rides
4. Uninterrupted conversations between mother and father
5. Peace and quiet

Favorite Activities:
1. Running around outside
2. Emptying laundry baskets
3. Picnics/parties attended by various stuffed animals
4. Being read to
5. “Up” from Mom (if Mom is unavailable, Dad will do)
6. Dancing

Traits Likely Inherited From Mother:
1. Says “please” and “thank you”
2. Loves “big, big squeezes” and “smooches”
3. Adorable

Traits Likely Inherited From Father:
1. Erupts in ear-splitting tantrums, periodically for no apparent reason
2. Poops a lot
3. Curly hair

Activity As I Type This:
1. Knocking on office door, saying “Knock, knock, who’s there? Is it Cyril?”



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.


It is my mission to capture our talking genius for you all. As soon as possible, there will be new video footage to share with you.

Also, today is my birthday. It’s strange how ever since I had Sophie, my birthday is a day that that I think more of my mom than myself. What did I do on that day 30 years ago? My mom gave birth to me. We should be celebrating that.

I am my mom’s Sophie. And it’s amazing when you all of a sudden understand how much you are loved. To think that she looked at me the same way I look at Sophie. I’ve written and deleted so many words, I can’t describe why my eyes are watering.

Anyway…It is my plan to make sure that Sophie appreciates ME every year on her birthday. And the best part is that the more kids I have, the more birthdays I will get!



Sophie is almost 15 months old.

These are some things that have made me smile lately.

Sophie cracks up when she hears certain words. Her current favorites are ‘freckle’ and ‘waffle.’ She throws back her head and giggles.

She has recently insisted that we both read to her and put her to sleep at night. I love seeing her run down the hall to get Jeff all clean and snugged in her footed pjs. I love hearing Jeff reading to her.

I love how if you stop before the end of a line in her favorite books she can say the last part. I love playing with her damp curls as she’s brushing her teeth before bed. I love to kiss the side of her chin as she’s tilting her head back and drinking from her sippy cup.

As soon as she hears a beat, Sophie starts to dance. She smiles and proudly bounces her legs. Sometimes we are treated to some interpretive dance-type arm movements as well.

I love her favorite “it” phrases: Hold it, get it, dropped it, broke it, fix it, kiss it, etc.

I love when I come to the sliding door after work and seeing her notice me. She smiles so big and I see her mouth say. “MOM!” I love anytime she is still enough to rest on me. I love how she says, “Come. Come.” with extended arms when she wants you. I love how she snuggles with us in bed in the mornings.

In a matter of a few months Sophie has ceased to be a baby. She’s a walking and talking little girl. She’s getting more fun by the second. I have to slow myself down sometimes. I get so excited for all the things we can do together soon. Will she be crafty? Will she like to go to the pond with me? Will she sit still long enough for me to do her hair?

I can’t wait to see who she is. But I try not to think about all of that too much because it takes a little away from right now. These days are just more blinks.

The three of us are in a very nice place. But I still get giddy when I think about where we are headed.


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!


Our little girl can talk! As I said before, Sohpie loves the letter B and says many B words. However, none have excited her as much as her new favorite word. Duck. I think the letter B may be old news. Here comes the letter D.

Sophie enunciates each sound in the word duck. She says it perfectly and she knows it. She looks at you and beams each times she says the word or retrieves the duck on command. Today she even saw a photo of a duck in a magazine and said, “Duck.”

She’s smart.