Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How we spend our days

For grandparents, and others, who are far away, here are some more videos and images of Joseph's walking skills.

Joseph's favorite pastime:

A trip to the zoo:

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Visit from Nonnie

Aunt Nonnie/Hoadus/Larvis/Lauren came for a visit last week. Lauren just finished her first year at BYU, where she is studying Elementary Education. Lauren is the most talented person with children that I have ever met and she will be a fantastic teacher. Kids love her, and she loves them right back. Nieces and nephews are no exception. My favorite morning was Sunday, when, by the time I came out of my room, Lauren had gotten Joseph up, given him a bottle, changed his diaper, and had him in his high chair happily eating breakfast. I wouldn't have known how to do that at nineteen ...

We had lots of fun; here are some pictures:

Dinner at Pizza Port in Solana Beach -- Joseph was less than thrilled with the wait.

Lena holding Joseph -- who is almost her size.

I was singing Itsy Bitsy Spider and Joseph was loving it.

We went to the Birch Aquarium. This picture belies Joseph's love for the aquarium and his love for Lauren. Not sure why he is looking so ambivalent ...

I was waiting to finish this post until I had gotten some cute pictures of Todd's computer, but soon my tribute to Nonnie will be completely outdated so I'll leave it to him to put up more pictures if he so desires. We love you Lauren!

Todd so desires.

Therefore, more Pictures:

--Looking at a scary fish--

--At the aquarium with mommy--

--Learning to slide with Lauren--

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An anniversary of sorts

If you’ve ever listened to an oldies radio station, chances are you’ve probably heard at some point in your life the song, “Save the Last Dance for Me” by the Drifters (nb: I haven't heard an oldies station in over 10 years, so for all I know, they now play Oasis and Nirvana).

To give those of you unfamiliar with "Save the Last Dance" an objective idea of how great a song it is: according to wikipedia, it’s the 182nd greatest song of all time—which makes it not quite as good as Outkast’s 180th ranked “Hey Ya!” but clearly better than “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (#189).

If numbers aren’t your thing, here’s an attempt to link to the audio:

Feel free to listen along while you read.

Anyway, based on the lyrics, I always assumed that the song was from the perspective of some arrogant teenager at a dance who was trying to convince his girl, and himself, that he was vastly superior to any other choices in men that she might have, and that no matter what she would end up going home with him at the end of the night. Here's one verse of the song:

You can dance (you can dance)
Go and carry on
'Til the night is gone
And it's time to go
If he asks if you're all alone
Can he take you home you must tell him no
'Cause don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arm's you're gonna be
So, darlin', save the last dance for me
Based on the intended audience, my interpretation may still be valid, but from an NPR segment, I learned that the song is more autobiographical than anything and has a much more beautiful subtext.

Born in Brooklyn in 1925, Jerome Solon Felder contracted polio at the age of 6 and fell in love with music while recovering. As a young man, he took on the stage name “Doc Pomus” to avoid embarrassing his family and began a career as a song writer and performer.

Described as a “short, portly white guy with leg braces who sang at black clubs,” Doc eventually became a full-time songwriter and ended up writing songs for big names such as Ray Charles and Elvis.

Anyway, that's all background to introduce what one historian said about the writing of “Save the Last Dance”:
When he did write something personal, Doc made it universal. He was married by now, and Wilma, his wife, loved to dance, which because of his legs, Doc couldn't do very well. Still, on weekends he’d take her to a dance hall and sit while she danced with others, and then when the band leader called the last dance, get up and stumble around the floor with her. He turned this experience into one of his most memorable songs, written for The Drifters.
I absolutely love the image of this married couple--a gifted dancer and a crippled man--stumbling across a dance floor at the end of a night.

The scene provides a touching metaphor for the mutual support provided by marriage. You have the husband supporting his wife something she loves, and an appreciative wife unabashedly supporting her husband. As an aside, I think the lyrics reflect the thoughts of a man who realizes what a good thing he has going and who will do anything to preserve it.

Here are the full lyrics:

You can dance
Ev'ry dance with the guy
Who gives you the eye
Let him hold you tight
You can smile
Ev'ry smile for the man who held your hand
'Neath the pale moonlight
But don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arms you're gonna be
So darlin', save the last dance for me, mmmm

Oh, I know (oh, I know)
That the music's fine
Like sparkling wine
Go and have your fun
Laugh and sing
But while we're apart
Don't give your heart to anyone
But don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arms you're gonna be
So darlin', save the last dance for me, mmmm

Baby, don't you know
I love you so
Can't you feel it when we touch
I will never, never let you go
I love you oh, so much

You can dance (you can dance)
Go and carry on
'Til the night is gone
And it's time to go
If he asks if you're all alone
Can he take you home you must tell him no
'Cause don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arm's you're gonna be
So, darlin', save the last dance for me

'Cause don't forget who's taking you home
And in whose arm's your gonna be
So, darlin', save the last dance for me, mmmm
Save the last dance for me, mmmm-hummmm
Save the last dance for me, mmmm
So other than sharing a great story, what’s the point in my writing about this song? Well, I’ll tell you.

Depending on which one of us you ask, either yesterday (me) or tomorrow (erin) will mark the anniversary of our first date. Regardless of which of us is right (I am), we both agree that the last few years have been a wonderful and joyful adventure.

Overall, Erin and I are ideal companions for each other. We laugh at the same things; we agree on what we should be doing in life; and we both don’t want any house pets. We also share common aspirations, and I think we complement each other well in whatever life presents. I think it’d be accurate to say that--invoking the biblical metaphor--we’re “equally yoked.”

However, there are moments when I realize that I am married to someone who is so much more brilliant and capable than I am and just how lucky I am. At these moments, I realize that I did take seriously my dad’s marriage advice, “Marry someone better than you.”

Erin's gifts and talents continually amaze me. I love that my wife, who, after a long day of wrestling with challenging legal questions and complex factual situations, comes home each night to listen to my rambling thoughts and ideas.

So, in conclusion, much like Doc Pomus, I am grateful for a wife that slows down at the end of the day to stumble across the floor with me.

Happy (one day late) Anniversary

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Haircut

Let me start this post off by first stating, emphatically, that my son is tough. Allow me to illustrate this point before moving on to the events of this past weekend.

Shortly after Joseph was born, Erin had me accompany him to his circumcision. According to the attending nurse, most little guys start crying from the cold antiseptic, and then it's just down hill from there.

MY son, however, throughout the entire surgical procedure, just lay there on the table without even flinching. He simply gazed around the room and blinked. It was at that time, in the tiny room off of the nursery in the American Fork Hospital, that I realized that MY son was as tough as nails—big nails.

This other-worldly tolerance for physical harm has continued to manifest itself during regular visits to the doctor—where Joseph cries not because he is being injected with multiple hypodermic needles, but as a result of the nurse’s unwillingness to let him play with the syringe—as well as through numerous falls that occur in the course his new-found love for climbing on anything and everything (see below):

Now, again, my son is tough: tough, when it comes to physical pain. However, just as Superman has his kryptonite, Joseph has noise.

Most infants are startled by loud noises. Joseph is startled by almost any noise. Here are a list of noises that have made Joseph cry (in no particular order):

--A vacuum cleaner--

--A blender--

--A barking seal--

--A crying baby--

--A goose honking in his face--

--Meat sizzling in a frying pan--

--Mommy blowing her nose--

After this weekend, we can now add to this list:

--hair clippers--

We took Joseph for haircut number two this weekend. Haircut number one, which was performed with just scissors, went off without a hitch. The first haircut looked ok, but we (read: Todd) wasn’t thrilled about paying ten bucks for it each time.

We had contemplated trying to cut his hair ourselves, but decided better of it and tried a different barber shop instead. The poor, unsuspecting hair stylist—unaware of the above-mentioned list—turned on a set of electric clippers behind our poor, unsuspecting child’s head.

This set off the sirens. The sound freaked Joseph out, and he literally screamed his head off (note: my favorite use of the word “literally” is to use it when you don’t mean “literally” at all, as in the previous sentence. There’s nothing quite like using a word to mean the exact opposite of what it means).

The stylist quickly put away the clippers, but Joseph continued to wail long after the buzzing stopped. He paused to whimper briefly, but spent most of the haircut screaming at the top of his lungs. To top it off, just when the whole ordeal seemed to be over, the stylist pulled out a blow dryer to clear away the clippings. At that moment, the screams caused by the buzzing of the hair clippers became the second-loudest shrieks to ever escape his mouth.

Although the experience was traumatic, a package of fruit snacks and some cuddling with mommy helped him get past the horror. Here are some before and after shots:

Apparently, the shock of the whole ordeal also turned his eyes blue. People ask what color his eyes are, but the dominant color seems to vary depending on the light conditions or the color of his clothing.

That afternoon, we took a family-outing to La Jolla. Joseph seemed to have forgiven us: as we walked along the sea shore, he took one his parents’ hands in each of his hands and giggled and screamed--with delight.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Motherhood Really Suits Her Well

So, according to a very reputable news agency, upon which I often rely,* "Nicole Kidman was spotted having lunch with two friends at Bread and Company in Nashville on Friday," looking "relaxed and glowing and surprisingly fresh-faced for a new mom." This is just four days after she gave bith to little Sunday Rose.

And my reaction is, HOW IN THE WHAT?

In struggling to remember the condition I was in four days after giving birth, I recall the following things that would have impeded me from lunching with pals at a trendy little cafe:

(1) That I couldn't walk down my stairs to go out of my apartment, and indeed did not do so until Joseph's 10-day check up.

(2) That I was crying most of the time, alternately about how much I loved Joseph, how much I loved Todd, and most of all how Joseph was going to starve to death because we hadn't yet gotten breast-feeding down.

(3) That my chest consisted of two lead-filled melons, leaked at the rate of about a quart an hour, and hurt like a billion papercuts.

(4) That Joseph's feedings took about an hour-and-a-half long, and had to be repeated about every three hours (start-to-start), giving me about an hour, max, to be away from him at a time.

(5) That I had slept maybe a combined total of 8 hours in the preceding 5 days.

(6) That a copious (but not excessive, thank you very much) amount of painkillers was the only thing preventing laughing, coughing, or moving from sending me into fits of agony.

So, either it's true that "motherhood really suits her well," as the observer who spotted her was quoted as saying, or that she was taking way more percocet than I was, or that she has a whole boatload of help at home. But anyway, more power to her.


Abraham Lincoln and a Clear Conscience

Erin and I first got to know each other while studying for a Property final in a class taught by Professor Dave Thomas. Because of that connection, Professor Thomas will always hold a special place in my heart.

During a recent speech, he shared the following story from the life of Abraham Lincoln. Even though it's a bit lengthy, I think it's worth reading:

In May of this year I had occasion to visit the recently restored "Lincoln Cottage," a house about three miles north of the White House, where Abraham Lincoln lived with his family for five months a year during 1862, 1863 and 1864. Each day he rode, usually on horseback, from the White House to this sanctuary, where he could escape from the hot and muggy weather, from the crowds seeking his personal assistance, and from the gloom of the recent death of his son Willie. He accomplished much important work in this "Cottage," not the least of which was his drafting of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Late one hot summer evening in 1862, Lincoln was at home in the "Cottage" trying to calm his mind on the eve of a significant Civil War battle about to be fought on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. He was also relieved to be momentarily free of an especially persistent woman who had called on him in the White House that day seeking a promotion for her husband. Nevertheless, late that evening another private citizen, having been aided in finding the President by a Treasury Department employee, was admitted to see Mr. Lincoln. His story was poignant and wrenching. His son-in-law, a Union officer from New Hampshire, had been wounded in recent fighting. The officer’s wife, the visitor’s daughter, had made the journey from New Hampshire, located her husband and helped him recover. As they journeyed by boat back to Washington, the boat collided with another boat at night, and 73 passengers drowned. The wife was one of those victims and her husband barely escaped with his life. The visitor had returned to Washington to locate and return the body of his daughter to New Hampshire. He sought access to the area of the disaster, which had been closed because of the pending battle. The Secretary of War had gruffly refused his request, so he was now before the President seeking intervention. Here is what happened according to accounts published some years after the incident:

Without making any interruptions, Lincoln listened to the [visitor’s] long and tragic story. At the end, however, . . . instead of displaying his legendary generosity, Lincoln reportedly said: "Am I to have no rest? Is there no hour or spot when or where I may escape this constant call? Why do you follow me out here with such business as this? Why do you not go to the War-office, where they have charge of all this matter of papers and transportation?" The embarrassed [visitor] tried to argue his case with the exhausted president, but to no avail. . . . [He was] dismissed curtly and sent back to the city without any relief. (Matthew Pinsker, Lincolns Sanctuary 52-53 (Oxford Press, 2003).)

At this point, I'm now thinking, "Great, even Abraham Lincoln is a jerk. Yet another fallen role-model from childhood--just when I thought I had come to terms with steroids in sports, I now have to accept this. I guess being in the middle of a war could cause Honest Abe to be a little too honest."

There were plenty of solid reasons for Lincoln to react the way he did. He's in the middle of one of the worst wars in history with no end in sight--I mean, I get snippy when the cable goes out. I think that in many people's lives, the account would end there. Fortunately, the story continues:

The next morning Lincoln appeared at the visitor’s hotel full of apologies. "I was a brute last night," he confessed. (Id.) "I fear, Sir, that my conduct has been such as to make it appear that I had forgotten my humanity. You say that one of the unfortunate ladies was your daughter?" As reported in the visitor’s obituary in 1885, "The two men sat down and talked as familiarly as old friends. Great tears rolled down the President’s careworn face as he heard the story of the shipwreck. . . . He then wrote a mandatory order to [the Secretary of War] requiring him to furnish a pass, transportation to the scene of the disaster, and all necessary assistance to find the bodies. . . . [T]he result was that after cruising along the shore in the vicinity of the wreck, and after much inquiry among the inhabitants, the place where the bodies had washed ashore and the place of interment were discovered, and they were brought home to their native New-Hampshire." (How He Atoned for His Seeming Rudeness to a Bereaved Father, published May 9, 1885 in the Boston Journal, republished May 10, 1885, in The New York Times.)

I had never heard that story before, but it really touched me. I love that this one episode teaches about character and humility and forgiveness.

I think the story ties in really well with a quote from President Monson that Erin shared with our primary class as well:

My young friends, be strong. . . . You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow. There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness—and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pride and Prejudice

So, as it turns out, Pride and Prejudice (you know, the novel by Jane Austen) is TOTALLY HILARIOUS. WHO KNEW??? I certainly didn't. I really think this book should not be read in high school because that's what I was first required to read it, and I didn't realize it was funny AT ALL, and it was deathly boring, and I only made it through about 70 pages. Anyway, as a result of that experience, I didn't try that book again for a long time. Until now, even. And it is great!!!

Other books I failed to read in high school? Most that were assigned. My junior English class was supposed to read Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and Wuthering Heights for some British lit unit. Well, I got through 70 pages of the first, the cliffnotes of the second, and not a word of the third. I did awesome on the exam, though, for real. And one time we each had to go to the white board to write a "thesis statement" for Wuthering Heights, and mine was totally the best, something about the conflict between Romanticism and Rationalism, and my teacher L-O-V-E-D it. I totally learned so much about catering toward teachers' painfully transparent expectations in high school, and that served me equally well in law school. But in college, I did actually have to think sometimes.

I *did* read MacBeth in that English class, cause I had to write an actual paper on it. I watched the movie for Hamlet, but it was the Kenneth Branagh movie, so really that wasn't too cheatish. Also, I'll have you know that on my own, I read books like Towards a Feminist Theory of the State by Catharine MacKinnon, and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, and various other books that strike me as potentially far more boring than Jane Austen. But I had an axe to grind back then, I guess.

I read Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park for college classes, and liked them, but I still held a grudge against Pride and Prejudice (how ironic). I also read Tess finally in college and loved it. So perhaps I shall one day get around to reading Wuthering Heights, since, it turns out, those books we were supposed to read in high school really *were* good books.

But seriously, thanks for turning me off to Jane Austen before I had enough of a clue to appreciate it! Not nice. I think they should only assign Stephenie Meyer in high school, and leave the real books for college. Otherwise they are just going to turn everyone off to reading. Honestly, I have J.K. Rowling to thank for getting me back on.

I'll close with this (which I totally stole from my sister's awesome blog):

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dancing Machine

Although he kept this talent largely hidden from the world for the first 11 months of his life, I am proud to announce that Joseph has inherited his mother's dancing skills.

I offer the following videos as evidence:

--Dancing in the tub (11 months)--

Lots of hip shaking and a glance at the camera that says, "I'm just getting warmed up." Very reminiscent of mommy's dancing.

--Dancing with the drum (12 months)--

Many of the dance moves in this second video are more subtle; mommy's dancing isn't subtle. However, pay attention to the great deal of head-bobbing, the occasional flailing of arms, and the attempt to sing along with our own version of the lyrics--all classic mommy dance traits.

Hopefully, I'll be able to dig up a video of erin's dancing to post here for a side-by-side comparison.

If Joseph ever shows signs of picking up my singing talent, we'll likely stop having children.

Friday, July 4, 2008


This week, Joseph spent some time with his cousins on Todd's side of the family. All of them were able to spend a few days with us in San Diego, and Joseph had a great time giggling and playing with them.

Between trips to Sea World, the beach, and the pool, we had one very busy, and very enjoyable week.

--Pointing the way to the beach--

During the past couple of months, Joseph has discovered that if he simply points, people will take him where he wants to go. Now that he's much more mobile, he still points at what he wants before charging towards his goal.

Sometimes, when we're holding him, and he just wants to be somewhere else, he'll stretch out both arms and point in opposite directions and then quickly look both ways to see which one looks more promising. If he finds a suitable destination, he'll then drop the other arm and continue to gesture towards the greener pasture.

--Cousins splashing--

--Practicing our surfer stance--

--Playing with Katie--

--Pointing the way to the pool--

--Swimming with the Larsons--

(Jake--if you look in the upper-right corner of the picture, you can see the stream from your water cannon.)

--The Waterboy--

We were sad to see our cousins leave, but we're looking forward to their next trip down here.