Fast 5

Anticipation 2012

I remember it like it was yesterday. After about 13 long hours, they finally wheeled Jen into the operating room. Not to have my usual routine broken, even on a day like today, I was watching Jeopardy. Before Final Jeopardy, they called me into the operating room, and I watched as my little girl emerged from the Cesarian incision, coneheaded, screaming her tiny baby scream–if only they stay that way–and covered in slimy stuff.

She was so tiny, barely over five pounds, but as we would learn less than four years later, not as tiny as they can come. She wouldn’t stay tiny for long though. Before too long she had plumped up nicely, complete with Michelin man arms and legs and a chubby round head; the roundest in all the land if all the comments we got are to be believed. Not much hair though, that came later. When her teeth started coming in, she got her bottom two front teeth first, but then only one top front tooth. She looked like our little hillbilly baby. They eventually evened out and gave her a beautiful smile.

Her early attempts at vocalization were grunts a Neanderthal would’ve been envious of. The grunts eventually mellowed to a much more pleasant coo. At about six months she became a screamer. A high-pitched, wailing, banshee-like scream. It wasn’t angry, just enthralled with its own voluminous existence. Fortunately it didn’t last long. She wasn’t an early talker, but once she started she never stopped. Hasn’t stopped. And it’s not just the quantity of words, it’s the quality. Full sentences almost immediately. Words that most adults don’t use correctly. You always think you’ll remember the memorable things kids say, but there’s just too much and you never do. I hate myself for not writing more of these things down (ok, hate is a little strong). For every hilarious thing she’s said or done, there’s four or five more I can’t recall at will, though they might float through my conciousness from time to time, wispy, like dandelion spores. If only I could grab them before they blow away.

Like the speech, locomotion did not come early. An accomplished roller, she didn’t see the use in crawling and didn’t do it long. After a year she was up and running around, the extra movement slimming down her thunder thighs and pot belly. The hair started coming in, giving her a nice baby mullet that was the talk of rednecks all over town.

And today she turns five. Five is sort of a milestone year. Now she’s going to be, like, a real kid. Five is almost like a new starting point of your life. I remember a few things from when I was four, maybe even a couple of very hazy memories of three. But I remember a lot of five. I remember watching Star Wars–which Lily and I will be doing on Monday–and I remember a lot about kindergarten. I remember moving to our new house and even my fifth birthday party, and other random memories from the glory days of 1981 and ’82.

Now my little girl is at that new starting point. She’ll be in kindergarten next year. She’s already started extracurricular activities, “playing” basketball and “doing” gymnastics. There will be sleepovers at friends houses and learning to ride a bike and swimming lessons and boy/girl parties and “dad can I borrow the keys” and “you’re not going out of the house wearing that” and boyfriends and college tuition and…and…and……….! Ok *deep breath* I may be getting a little ahead of myself.

I guess the point is, time flies when you’re having fun, and raising Lily is a blast, so before I know it she’ll be all grown up. But until then, I’ll enjoy all–ok, most of the minutes, hours, and days when she still calls be daddy and asks me to carry her to bed.

Here’s my favorite pictures of Lily from this year.

Summer Splash
First Fish
Kickin’ It
Beach Baby
Candy Fiend
Head of the Class

Facial Recognition

0728091449I took the day off today to watch Lily so Jen could spend the whole day in her classroom working to get things ready for when she has to go back to work.  Don’t ask.

Anyway, days of just Lily and I are too few and far between so I decided to take advantage by taking her to the park.  When we arrived I was chagrined to find that the Boy Scouts had taken over the half of the park with all the good stuff–playground, picnic tables, most of the shade–for their summer day camp.  So, Lily and I picked out one of the few, nice shady patches of grass left, not fair from the path, and made camp there.  Even without the playground she kept herself pretty well entertained.  There were plenty of leaves to pick up, flowers to smell, grass to be pulled, and twigs to be stuck in her mouth.

The best part of the afternoon came when she walked over to a nearby tree and just started rubbing her hand very intently over the bark.  She moved it slow and deliberate, really studying it, like a blind person would feel someones face in order to recognize them.  She looked very serious.  She’s seen and touched other trees of course, but I’d never seen her really study one like this before.  It was like she was feeling one for the first time.  Then she pulled a piece off and ate it.

As I watched her I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to remember all these kinds of firsts?  Since we start our lives so young and immature, those first experiences of life are either forgotten or not appreciated.  Lily is 18 months old, and whatever she found so fascinating about that tree and whatever baby thoughts were going through her little mind, all of that will be lost in a matter of months.  Maybe sooner.  But imagine that you’re 31 (my age) and you’re feeling tree bark for the first time.  Would that be amazing?  Having had the privilege of being born in California, I have no idea when the first time I saw the Pacific Ocean was.  I was probably a very little kid and at the time didn’t think much of it.  I envy someone who was born and lived their whole life  in Indiana or Kansas or Missouri and the feeling they got when they finally made that long awaited trip to the coast and saw the mighty Pacific for the first time, and the awe and wonder that filled their soul.

I’ve had my moments (first time to Yosemite, Lily’s birth) and know I have more ahead of me (still waiting on that Grand Canyon trip), but wouldn’t it be cool if you could somehow go back and remember how facsinating it was the first time you saw a drawer work?  Or the wonderful terror the first time a dog ran up and licked your face?  Or the first time you tasted ice cream?  Or why a cardboard box is so doggone wonderful?

I’m probably crazy, but I think it would be pretty neat.  Just a thought rolling around in my head on an afternoon at the park.  Could be the bee sting.

Dogs Will Be Dogs

Jen and I have had our dog Jackson for a little over six years.  He was a pound puppy that we rescued from the local shelter .  The first time we saw him he was about four months old and he was lying down in his kennel, gnawing on the metal gate.  We were actually looking at the pup in the kennel next to him, a little black curly haird pooch of some sort, that seemed very reserved and maybe even a bit skittish.  But we kept looking over at that goofy dog in the next kennel that seemed to have a taste for iron.  We came back to the shelter several days that week to see if the black dog we’d been eyeing was available for adoption yet, and everytime we couldn’t help but laugh at the puppy next door.  One day he was chewing on metal, the next time he was leaping straight up in the air repeatedly for no particular reason, and the next time he must have just finished his bounding exercises because he was passed out of the floor looking at us with one sleepy eye.  The little black dog we had been looking at ended up being adopted by the person that found it (finders get first dibs) so we decided to roll the dice on the manicly spastic dog next door, who we quickly christened Action Jackson.

He’s never been the most well behaved of dogs.  He’s always had a penchant for thievery, especially napkins and kleenex (used only), dirty socks, food wrappers, and consumables of every kind.  Over the years he’s stolen off the counter, the table, and occasionally right off our plates.  A few of the more memorable items, which were usually inhaled in the space of about 15 seconds max, are a box of Jr. Mints, a dozen chocolate chip cookies, half a loaf of garlic bread, a stick of butter, some Hershey’s kisses (foil still on), several slices of pizza, and the infamous wedge of Christmas brie.

He’s mellowed a little with age, but not too terribly much.  He knows how to sit, stay, come, get out, and get off, but whether he actually does it or not is always a surprise.  Actually, he is pretty good about following commands, just not sustaining them.  It’s like when we give him a command his little doggy brain adds “for three seconds” to everything.  So if we say, “Jackson, go sit on your chair,” he hears, “Jackson, go sit on your chair for three seconds.”  He’ll go sit on his chair, but only long enough for you to turn around.  Every night we go through the same bedtime routine, “Jackson, get off the bed.”  He hears, “Jackson, get off the bed for three seconds.”  We end up playing this game five or six times before he finally gives up and goes to his bed.

Of course, we are to blame for some of this.  We did take him to obedience school, but we haven’t always been the most diligent of trainers.  Part of it is that, as much as it frustrates us sometimes, we kind of like his mischieviousness.  We’re like those parents with the slightly bratty five year old that everyone else knows is almost out of control, but we just smile, shake our heads, and say, “Well, boys will be boys.”

We were a little concerned about how he would take to Lily’s arrival.  He’s hard to read on new people.  Some he loves instantly, some he warms up to eventually, and some he will bark at constantly until they leave.  There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.  At first he just kind of ignored Lily, but within a few weeks all he wanted to do was lick her face off.  Lily loves him just as much.  Lately she’s been starting her mornings saying something approximating, “Hi, J,” as soon as she sees him.  Its enough to make a dad’s heart melt.

The other evening Jen and I were both in Lily’s room getting her ready for bed, when I heard the clanging of dishes out in the living room.  I rushed out to find Jackson standing on two legs at the dining room table eating the leftover peas off Lily’s dinner plate.  I was ticked.  I scolded him and sent him to his chair.  I may have even broken out the squirt bottle and gave him a wet barrage (he hates that).  A few minutes later (actually longer than three seconds) he slinked off his chair and walked over to where I was sitting on the couch.  He sat down and looked up at me with those big, sad, brown eyes.  Oh well, dogs will be dogs.

Lily On Film

For all of those interested in babies in general and/or my baby specifically, here’s a little video to help satisfy your need for cuteness.  For the rest of you, click here for a video of people getting punched in the face.

Tongue Tied

tongue_tiedI feel like I haven’t had much to say lately.  I guess that’s mostly because I haven’t had much to say.  But on the other hand, there are a few things I’d like to say, but I just haven’t had the energy to say them.  This may seem like just plain old laziness.  But that makes sense because that’s pretty much what it is.

The thing about having a free-form blog such as Life of Ando, is that there isn’t any established structure to speak of which can help guide the writer when ideas are lacking.  If this was a celebrity gossip blog I would have no problem throwing up a juicy tid-bit about Brad and Angelina to fill the space until I could come up with some fresh new rumor, like which one of the Jonas Brothers Miley Cyrus is dating. (What?!  Miley Cyrus is dating one of the Jonas Brothers?  OMGosh!)

Speaking of throwing up juicy tid-bits, that’s what I spent the bulk of Monday night doing.  I’m really glad Lily is learning to share at such an early age, I just wish it wasn’t always her sicknesses she chooses to be unselfish with.  For the second time in three months Lily has started the barf train rolling in our house.  Monday night Jen and I were on rotating shifts to the bathroom for about five straight hours.  We handed Lily off to Grandma and Grandpa Tuesday morning so we could recover without relapsing at the smell of dirty diapers.

See what happens when I get writers block?  Fake celebrity news and vomit.  Hmmm, those two things seem strangely appropriate together.  Come back soon!

YouTube Friday: Game Changer

As a new parent I’m learning more and more that even what seems like the smallest thing can make you happier in that one tiny moment than you ever thought possible.  Things like traversing a foot and a half on hands and knees.  Jen appologizes for the screaming.

Here’s another video.  Less milestoney, but pretty funny and definitely cute.  But then, I am a little partial.

Mind Your P’s and Q’s

I’m giving you all fair warning, on Saturday night I’ll be on another ride along between 8 PM and 1 AM.  So be good.  I don’t want to see any of my friends in steel bracelets, but I’ll do what I have to do.  And that is sitting in the car watching until it’s safe to come out.

And now a little sumpn’ for da ladies…  That’s right, baby news!

Today she will begin her ninth month on planet earth and so far she seems to be enjoying the human experience.  She’s constantly smiling and screaming herself into happy little coughing fits.  Yes, she has rediscovered her scream much to our ears’ pain.  She hasn’t yet acheived full, purposeful locomotion, but I think she’s beginning to grasp the concept.  She rolls all over the place, which is fine except that as soon as she’s off her blanket and onto the living room floor she is bathed in a sea of dog hair.  We try to vacuum at least every other day, but I suspect we could spend the bulk of our waking hours doing so and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.  Jackson and his hair is not unlike Pig Pen and his dust.  I have accepted this as a fact of life, while Jen still clings to the hope of a pristine and doghair-less baby.

Lily’s first tooth came in a couple of weeks ago, not without much crying and gnashing of (pardon the pun) teeth.  As rookie parents we were mystified by her unusally persistent crying the previous night and didn’t realize it was the emergence of a tooth that was causing all the ruckus until her baby sitter pointed it out to us the next day.  Needless to say that we didn’t feel like Parents of the Year candidates after letting our poor baby scream herself to sleep while in agonizing pain.  Three cheers for us.  Oh, well.  Live and learn.

The only other thing to report is that she is on the tail end of battling her first bout of the common cold.  Nothing serious, just a runny nose and a little cough, but it hasn’t dampened her spirits in the least.  She’s still as happy as ever, shrieking away as she plays in her Exer-saucer.

All in all, she couldn’t be a more perfect little girl.  Its hard to believe its been eight months already.  Time sure does fly.