Alex’s First Field Trip

27 03 2009

Last week, we had to sign Alex’s first ever permission slip for his first ever field trip. The kids just went outside to the parking lot, where there was a fire truck. Not much of a journey.

The teachers were kind enough to send us some pictures. Here’s one of the class pictures with Alex. In all three of the pictures we got, Alex is standing up and looking over at the fire man, so I only bothered to post one photo on the web. All of the other kids were in various stages of lining up for the class photo. I guess he wants to be a fireman when he grows up.

My Mom’s Been Asking For This Forever…

27 03 2009

Common question: “Is Patrick crawling yet?” We then try to describe how he really “army crawls,” and he can get around fast enough doing that, so we don’t really expect him to get up on his hands and knees to crawl. He has no need to. It’s been hard to describe exactly what this looks like, so my mom’s been asking for a video for months.

Well, I finally got around to posting a short clip that I made back when we were in Florida.

Here you go. Absolutely nothing dramatic or funny happens here. Unless you want to see a baby crawling, there’s no need to click.

Video of Patrick crawling

Not Every Day Can Be Full of Rainbows

21 03 2009

Today was one of those days that makes me wonder why I thought being a parent would be a good idea, much less a parent of two. Let’s see:

  • Alex was up at 5:00 A.M.
  • We left the baby bag at the farmer’s market this morning. Luckily, it didn’t take us long to realize this. I was able to go back and get it. But while I did:
  • Alex, still potty training, refused to use the potty. Not an accident. A flat-out, “No, I don’t want to use the potty.” He proceeded to poop in his pants. As Molly had to feed a fussy Patrick, Alex happily sat in his poopy pants until I got home from the emergency baby-bag rescue mission.
  • While I cleaned out the poop that had been ground in to Alex’s underwear by him sitting in the chair, Patrick proceeded to vomit green beans all over Molly.
  • Alex, the kid who was up at 5:00 A.M., refuses to nap.
  • Alex & Patrick go to a birthday party at Gymboree. The party goes well. But the combination of up-early-no-nap-hyper-from-party leads to one exhausted and fragile child when we get home.
  • All day, Alex has a runny nose. At the end of the day, he complains of his ears hurting.
  • When we get all the kids in bed for a little bit of peace, Molly finds that Cleo has thrown up on our bed.

Some days are like that.

Stuff I Like: Newspapers on the Kindle

21 03 2009

I’m a news junkie. Judging by the fate of newspaper companies across the nation, I’m one of a dying breed: People who subscribe to a daily paper. In high school & college, that paper was The Washington Post. When I first moved to Seattle, I subscribed to The Seattle Times and enjoyed the novelty of getting an evening newspaper. In 1998, I switched from the Seattle Times to The New York Times to get back to the level of national & international coverage I’d been used to with The Washington Post. For over a decade, I’ve gotten The New York Times every day and I’ve managed to at least skim it on most days.

For me, the big news-junkie story of the past week is not the demise of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Instead, it’s that I’ve finally changed my print New York Times subscription to Sunday only. The rest of the time, I get the newspaper wirelessly delivered to my Kindle.

The Kindle New York Times

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Alex’s Real Birthday

19 03 2009

Alex’s birthday party was Sunday, but his real birthday was today. Unlike last year, where we thought we could get away with not signifying the day at all, we knew we had to do something today.

To start, Molly made chocolate chip cookies for Alex to bring to school. They ate the cookies in the morning, before going out to the playground for the first time (giving them an opportunity to work off the sugar!). March is a popular month for birthdays. One of Alex’s friends, Annika, had a birthday yesterday, and her mom brought in tiny cupcakes. They gave the birthday girl two. Alex learned the lesson. When the much larger cookies were passed around today, Alex declared, “I can have two, because it’s my birthday!” The teachers couldn’t argue with that logic, so Alex really loaded up on sugar.

Molly did all of the gift shopping this year. She bought Alex several puzzles. Last night, she started feeling guilty that Alex had only “educational” toys, so before we picked up Alex from school, we darted over to the toy store to look for new trains. Not just any train would do. Alex had found a Thomas catalog/brochure, and he consistently pointed to this weird turquoise train and said how much he liked it. I thought Molly was crazy, because I thought Alex was just pointing to a random picture that he liked, but this is what Molly wanted to get him. Luckily, the toy store had it. The train’s name is Spencer, and he’s more silver than turquoise when seen in real life.

Well, once again, I have to admit that Molly was right. Alex got to open several presents today, including a couple of trains. But when he unwrapped Spencer, he really lit up. “Yay! I always wanted that one. It makes me so happy!” He even did a little happy dance for us.

Alex's Happy Dance

I’ve added a few pictures from today to Alex’s birthday photo album. Be sure to check them out.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

17 03 2009

Patrick & Alex wish everybody a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Here’s Patrick on St. Patrick’s:

Patrick on St. Patrick's

And Alex with his shamrock:

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Quite the Week!

17 03 2009

Last Thursday, I wrote how it was a big day. I wrote too soon. It’s been stretching out into a big week of milestones.

Friday was Alex’s second day wearing only underwear at school. I learned when I dropped him off that his first day had gone better than we’d realized. He had only one “accident.” As normal, he wore a pull-up during naptime, and he managed to soak through the pull-up during nap. That’s what put him into that winner of an outfit of shorts, someone else’s underwear, and someone else’s socks. Anyway, Friday was not that good of a day. About five accidents at school.

Which brings us to Saturday, and our first day of keeping up the underwear-only regimen at home. I must say, this was tough on me. My normal mode of parenting on the weekends is to get Alex out of the house in the morning. This does two things. First, it keeps him engaged and wears him out. He takes a better nap and the rest of the day goes more smoothly. It also helps me – I get stir crazy in the house and I’d much rather get out to the farmer’s market, the aquarium, the zoo, a park… anything. No such luck on Saturday. We decided the prudent thing was to play it safe, stay at home, and keep offering Alex a chance to use the potty every half hour or so.

On the potty front, things went better than I expected. He had two accidents that day. Once, he was happily playing and then looked up at me and exclaimed, “Pee!” Sure enough, he had. He seemed a little surprised. The other accident was the dreaded #2, and what was worrisome is he didn’t seem to notice or care that he was walking around with dirty underwear.

On the stir-crazy front: We all felt it. Alex kept whining, “I want to go somewhere!” He didn’t nap that day. I had my fill of doing kid jigsaw puzzles. But by the end of the day, Alex seemed to have the potty thing down. He’d ask to use the potty, and he had no accidents after 10:00 AM. The hours spent on jigsaw puzzles were worth it.

Sunday’s big milestone, of course, was Alex’s birthday party. We tried to keep the invitation list small: Just four friends from school and four friends from outside school. It still made for a full (and loud!) house. Alex clearly had a great time. One interesting thing: Alex wouldn’t blow out the candles on his cake. They scared him. Last weekend, I suspected this would happen. We’d taken Alex and Patrick to our friend Tony’s birthday dinner at a nearby restaurant. At the end of dinner, the waiters brought out a cupcake with a candle for Tony. Alex turned to me, concerned, and asked, “Why did they bring him fire??” I tried to explain about candles for birthdays, but he just said, “I don’t want candles.” We didn’t listen to him, but we should have. He really didn’t want candles on his cake.


Monday’s milestone: Monday night, Alex and Patrick shared a room for the entire night for the first time. This is the culmination of a week in which Patrick slept through the night, each night, uninterrupted. What a glorious thing.

Tuesday’s milestone: This has been Alex’s first full day without accidents, either at school or at home.

It’s been a whirlwind week. Both kids are changing & growing right in front of our eyes. Yeah, I know I’m supposed to savor each stage of their life and feel a little sad and nostalgic that they’re growing up. But really, I’m thrilled that Alex finally seems to “get” potty training and that Patrick is finally sleeping the night through. I’ll deal with the nostalgia later.

It’s a Big Day!

12 03 2009

As you probably know, today’s a big day. You can get an idea of how big a day it is by looking at Alex’s outfit:

Quite the outfit

Yes, Alex is wearing his winter coat, his moose slippers, and a pair of shorts. That will get him the ladies, for sure. Oh, and he’s pouring oregano on the carpet while daddy has the camera. Typical.

Why is Alex in his shorts? Surely his parents aren’t sending him to school in his shorts when the temperatures are below freezing in the morning?

No. Alex wore pants to school this morning, and he came home in shorts. You see, what makes today a big day is that Polita, the lead teacher in Alex’s room at school, decided that now was the time for Alex to just wear underwear at school. I guess she’s as sick of changing his diapers as we are! Her plan had some results. Alex did use the potty two times at daycare. He also had two accidents. Since we weren’t really expecting Polita to start this with Alex, we didn’t have a big supply of spare clothing at school. Alex went through the pants we brought him in, his spare pants, and then wound up in his spare shorts. He didn’t have extra underwear at school, so he got to use both the spare classroom underwear plus some of his classmates underwear. And we have no idea whose socks he was wearing when he came home today!

So yes, it’s a very big day. We’re going to keep up this underwear regimen for a week and see if Alex finally understands how the potty works. Cross your fingers.

Oh, and it’s my birthday.

A Metaphor for Financial Panic

9 03 2009

At 2:00 today, there was a sudden whiteout at Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Huge snowflakes fell quickly. It was accumulating on the roads, on the tops of cars, on the tree branches. Beautiful, really, but not what most commuters like to see. (My iPhone picture doesn’t do it justice, but this is the view from my office window:

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Even though we knew there wasn’t supposed to be significant accumulation (at least not on the Microsoft campus, and certainly not in downtown Seattle), it was so easy to get caught up in both what we saw outside and in the reaction of everybody else. Over the span of 15 minutes, everybody who could either afford to take the afternoon off or who could work from home (which includes most everybody who works at Microsoft) was headed out the door. Nobody wanted to get stuck in a multi-hour commute home due to snowy roads. Which turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy: even if the snow isn’t that bad, the day can turn into a multi-hour commute home, because everybody is leaving at once. It becomes a race to see who can get out fastest.

For a while, I was tempted to ride out the storm. It came on suddenly, I felt it would end suddenly, and nothing much would stick to the roads.

But what if I was wrong? We did have to get over the bridge in time to pick up our kids from daycare. If things didn’t get better, or if the self-induced traffic jam kept getting worse, then we might not be able to get our kids. We didn’t have the luxury of waiting as long as it took.

It turns out, this is just like a financial panic. First, something bad happens, like snow falling. It’s so easy to get caught up in watching the snow falling, and it’s easy to get caught up in others’ reactions to it. Then, you realize that a little self-destructive spiral gets set up. For the commute, it was people getting afraid of being caught in a long commute, which caused people to leave at once, which created a long commute, which threatened to get more people leaving and making the backup worse. And for us, we had that trigger. Even if we wanted to be more “rational” than the hordes leaving the campus, we had to make sure we made it to daycare. So we joined the destructive spiral and left right at the peak of traffic. In today’s financial markets, I’m sure there are plenty who wanted to ride out the downturn, but retirement/college/whatever is looming, so eventually you can’t risk it any more and sell while the market’s on the way down (further depressing prices, feeding the spiral, etc.).

In this little story, our commute wasn’t that bad. The weather & traffic cleared up right past 405, and once we got into Seattle the pavement was dry. If only the financial panic passed so easily.