Monday, April 20, 2009

Going places

Joseph’s new thing is to take things with him when we go places in the car. He doesn’t have a favorite toy or stuffed animal, but it seems like every time we tell him we’re going someplace, he runs off to grab something to bring along for the ride.

Today, he decided to take three stuffed animals with him. The only problem was that he couldn’t carry all three at once and negotiate the stairs at the same time, so he just handed them all to me to take down the stairs for him.

Kicking the Pacifier Habit
Every few weeks, I get it into my head that Joseph’s done with his pacifier. It seems like we get him pretty much weaned (excluding when he goes to sleep), but then something comes up where it becomes too easy to give it back to him, and he’s hooked again. I’m not too worried, because I figure by the time he gets to junior high he’ll want to cave to social pressure and stop using one.

Today, we were about to get out of the car to do some grocery shopping—car rides are always a time when he hits us up for his “pacie”—and in the parking space next to us was a woman getting her baby back into the car.

The baby started to cry and fuss, so Joseph pulled out his pacifier and stretched his hand towards the crying baby on the other side of the car window and said “Baby. Cry. Pacie.”

Joseph has his fair share of power struggles over toys with other kids, but there are times like this where he just does things that are kind. He came to earth with his sweet nature, and we love him a lot.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Asher. Hug."

On Monday we welcomed Joseph's newest cousin, Asher, into the family.

I went to bed Sunday night sure that I would have a new nephew when I woke up, but it took a little longer than expected: my super tough sister Lindsey got this guy out after 17 1/2 hours of labor and 4 1/2 hours of pushing. Whew! He was 8'3", even though ten days early. His cheeks (like Joseph's) must account for a lot of that weight.

We get to meet him in person in a month. For now, Joseph likes looking at pictures of him, and tonight I showed him a picture and he said, "Asher. Hug." So I'm sure Asher can look forward to lots of affection when we visit next month!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Decorations

Once we put away the Valentine's decorations, Joseph enjoyed looking around the house for Easter decorations. Joseph likes the word "egg" lately, so Easter came at a good time in his development.

Joseph's Nana gave us some decorations for Easter, and Joseph took a liking to a couple of stuffed mice who sit on our mantle--unless Joseph is awake, in which case the mice are usually driving dump trucks or under the chair.

Here's Joseph after insisting that the mice come with us in the car one day:

By far, Joseph's favorite decoration is a tree with a bee on it (I'm also hoping that through this post I might find support from other people out there, who, like me, didn't realize that trees, bees, or mice had entered the milieu of Easter decorations).

We have some bar stools at our counter, and Joseph loves to sit up high so he can help the bee to "fly" by batting it around.

I originally started filming this moment because Joseph had been feeding the bee, but he didn't really do it much after I pulled out the camera (much like the other day, when I tried to film him at lunch only to have him stop repeatedly putting deli meat on his head and then leaning forward to watch it fall back on his tray. . . come to think of it, pulling out the camera actually may be a great way to get him to stop misbehaving--I guess by that I'm also saying that at our house putting lunch meat on your head isn't misbehaving).

Unrelated Addendum
This may be the last of the one-a-day posts for the month of April. There are a number of reasons behind this decision:

1.) I only gave myself a 1 in 7 chance of posting every day, so this isn't really that big of a deal

2.) We think Joseph second molars are coming in. Last night, cumulatively between the three of us at our house, we almost got a full night's sleep for one person.

3.) Lately, I've thought a lot about why we write this blog, and I want to make sure we do it for the right reasons.

I used to be a humanities major, and back then I used to sit around (humanities majors sit around a lot) thinking about the motivations for doing things (for example, like most humanities majors, I thought a lot about what drives people to pursue a career rather than actually pursuing a career).

Once I got to law school, I realized that money is the only meaningful motivator, and frankly this blog isn't paying the bills.

But seriously, I think why people do creative acts matters. I'm going to reach a point in this post-a-day mode (if that moment hasn't happened already) where I just post something for the purpose of making sure that I don't miss a day of posting. I even have a couple of back-up posts saved under "drafts" to give me a buffer in case I get to a day where I don't feel like coming up with something new to write about.

I don't want April 2009 to be looked back on as the month where this blog jumped the shark (speaking of which, don't get me started on this season of 24).

For now, I think this blog will be more enjoyable if the posts continue to arrive often but haphazardly.

4.) The first round of the Masters starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holiday Decorations

Now that we have a place that we're going to be in for a while, Erin has decided it's about time we decorate for holidays.

Joseph had a grand time playing with his Fisher Price nativity set that Grandma had given him for Christmas, and Erin thought it would be nice if we had some child-friendly decorations for other holidays.

The marketing department at Fisher-Price had similar thoughts, and has designed play sets for every holiday imaginable (we're still waiting on that Guy Fawkes play set, though, so it looks like the kids will have to make do with homemade effigies for the time being).

Erin looked into these online and ordered the first one right before Valentine's, so that Joseph could appreciate the holiday.

I hadn't really thought much about the concept, so imagine my surprise when this showed up on our doorstep, for my son:

Erin: Did the Valentine playset come today?
the Toddster:
Erin: "It's not that girly."
the Toddster:
Erin: "We'll have daughters one day."
the Toddster:
Erin: "It didn't look that pink in the pictures."
the Toddster:

Not surprisingly, Joseph likes getting new things (I guess he takes after his father in that regard), and he figured out that Valentine's had something to do with kissing:

One day, I found Joseph playing with the Valentine playset, so I watched him for a while. My heart swelled with pride as I watched him crash his truck through the window of the sweet shop ice cream parlor.

That's when I knew that all those YouTube clips of the A-Team I've had him watching were paying off.

Disclaimer: After making that last joke, I had to repeatedly promise Erin that I don't watch the A-Team with Joseph (even though historically more people have died on Sesame Street than on the A-Team). For the record: The baby has never watched clips of the A-Team on YouTube--I looked, but I couldn't find any. (That part was also a joke).

Fortunately, Erin never asked me about Rambo or Chuck Norris clips (That part may not have been a joke).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Important Announcement
Joseph is pleased to announce a first for this blog: a marriage. That's right because they both read this blog (and because of some very fortunate "coincidences"), two beautiful people are getting hitched.

Joseph was born just a few weeks after we graduated from law school, and shortly after his birth we moved to California. As a result, Joseph wasn't able to meet very many of his parents' law school friends (except for his rich and powerful NYC-lawyer-Aunt Jenn).

After reading about Joseph on our blog, one of our dear classmates, whom we will refer to as "Nancy," decided that she needed to meet Joseph in person.

Around the time Nancy told us about this desire, it just so happened that we were heading out to Utah to visit Joseph's grandparents, and since Nancy worked in Salt Lake (where she, with the assistance of her staff--including her own male secretary--ran the show at a very, very large charity--trust us, you've heard of it) it worked out that Nancy would get to meet young Joseph in the flesh.

Totally unrelated to our get-together with Nancy was another Utah rendezvous with one of Todd's closest and best friends, whom we will call "Sam."

Shortly after Joseph left the state of Utah, Sam took a position in the kitchen of one of Park City's most exclusive resorts (we'd never heard of it, but Will Smith stays there). While working in this kitchen, Sam has never given any celebrities food poisoning.

Like Nancy, Sam had also enjoyed hearing about Joseph and wanted to meet the little guy for himself.

The Set-up
It just so happened that both Nancy and Sam were available on the same evening, so we had them both over for dinner at Joseph's grandparents' house.

We won't go into the rest of the details, but here's how the story ends:

bling. bling.

The Offer to all of our Single Friends

Ladies: do you need "a husband type person in [your] life to open jars, reach high shelves, help make the bed and kill mice"? (I stole that quote from one of our single readers who described her views on the utility of husbands, so I figured it was relevant)

Guys: to quote Sam, "Todd, why didn't you tell me your friend is hot?"

Free of charge, Joseph will set you up with someone who is perfect for you. So far, he's batting a thousand.

You've tried every other way to find a spouse, now let a toddler find one for you.

Joseph ponders his next pairing

Act now. Supplies are limited.

You heard it here first folks, Nancy Kennedy and Sam Major are getting married!

(We're even more up-to-date than facebook!)

We couldn't be happier, and after talking to them, we don't know if we've ever heard a happier couple. Sam and Nancy compliment each other extremely well. Each of the knows how to throw a party, so this wedding celebration is going to be "epic."

One week ago, Sam and Nancy called our house at 2 am to shout out the good news--Sam made good on his promise to tell the Toddster before they even told their own parents.

We considered posting something about this sooner, but we enjoyed making them wait for this post--and we also needed to protect ourselves because any claims of "just kidding" or "Actually, I had my fingers crossed when I said, 'Yes!'" have a one week statute of limitations on them, and now they can't take anything back.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Lonely Goatherd

Joseph's new favorite part of the San Diego Zoo is the children's petting zoo. Specifically, the goats at the petting zoo.

During our first visit to the goats, Joseph decided that they needed some extra-help with their breakfasts, so he started hand-feeding the goats.

I thought that his duck-feeding experience earlier this year (when an anxious duck bit him) had traumatized him, but Joseph seemed to have put that behind him as he shoved little fistfuls of leaves into the goats' faces.

Fortunately, these goats weren't as impatient as the ducks at the Wild Animal Park; they seemed to enjoy having someone do the work of getting the individual leaves off of the branches.

We spent a good half hour feeding them without a single goat ever biting Joseph. This is pretty remarkable considering that Joseph's death grip on the leaves--which he fed to them one at a time--often only left a tiny bit of green sticking out of his fists.

Each feeding followed the same routine: Joseph would pick a leaf, select a goat and then force his hands towards the general area of the goat's mouth (i.e., nose, eyes, or neck). The goats wouldn't realize what was going on at first, but eventually they'd take aim at Joseph's darting offering.

After a few seconds of reaching out and missing Joseph's never-quite-stationary hand, the goat would eventually get a hold of the leaf. Joseph would hold on for a brief second and then snap his hand back, rub his own tummy, and then look up beaming proudly and say "mmmm!!!"

The cycle then repeated itself for 30 minutes.

Here are a couple videos of the scene:

I love this first video because of his little nod after the goat takes his leaf, and because Joseph takes the branches of leaves away from the goat so that he can pluck off a single one to feed the goat.

I love this next video because I think he imitates me and Erin when we try to get him to eat his meals by saying, "Eat some more. It's yummy!"

Here, Joseph comes up to the goat and says "yum!" The goat ignores him so he says "more! more!" as he shoves the leaves towards the goat's face.

When we went back for a second visit to the goats, there weren't any fresh branches out, so Joseph dug around in the dirt for old leaves to feed the goats. With a little extra coaxing, the goats even ate some of the dirty old leaves, which pleased Joseph.

We're still looking into local pre-schools to see which ones are feeders for the more selective goatherd prep-schools. Otherwise we don't really see how he'll ever get into an ivy-league animal husbandry program.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Joseph is now the youngest opera fan in his extended family.

For our anniversary this year, Erin and I went to the Los Angeles Opera's production of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute." This is by far my favorite opera, and I was excited for Erin to experience it as well.

To get ready for the opera Erin read a short book about it and began listening to a recording of the opera to familiarize herself with the music.

(If anyone is interested in learning more about opera, I highly recommend a series of books published by Black Dog. Each book contains a brief background to an opera, the full text of the libretto, and best of all a well-respected recording of the opera.)

The cd's to the opera were in the car for most of January and for Christmas Erin got me a video from a production of the opera that I had been to a few years ago.

As a result of this saturation, we'd often find ourselves humming bits of songs or singing little parts of it as we went about our days (Erin will freely admit that she has recurring dreams where she speaks German, but communicates solely by re-combining the eight-or-so phrases she actually knows).

The highlight of the opera is an aria (Der Hölle Rache) by the Queen of the Night:

This video is worth watching in it's entirety because it's amazing and because it gives you an idea of what I'm about to describe.

Although a recording of Erin imitating this would be a valuable contribution to the world wide web, that's not going to happen (but I'm guessing if you came for a visit, it wouldn't take much of a bribe to get Erin started). Joseph, however, has frequently enjoyed Erin's impromptu arias and has even begun to imitate her.

Those of you already familiar with the opera will understand my concern as I listened to Erin sing for Joseph a song in which a mother tells her child that the child will no longer be her child unless the child kills its father. Apparently, Joseph never understood Erin's accent, because he hasn't made any obvious attempts at my life.

Despite the message, Joseph loved hearing that particular aria. We'd ask him, "Joseph, can you sing opera?" and he would then attempt to belt out a few of his own high-F's.

At this point in the post it would be great if I had a video of him doing his impersonation of the Queen of the Night, but I'm just going to cite Joseph's refusal to perform on command in front of a camera and move on. BUT--if I EVER get a video of him doing his opera singing, I will post it and put an announcement at the front of this blog.

If you're curious as to what the Toddster's singing of this aria sounds like this should give you an idea:

(Thank you, Florence Foster Jenkins)

We only realized the extent of Joseph's love of opera on our recent trip to Disneyland. After riding in the car for nearly two hours, Joseph, who really travels well, got antsy in the car and started fussing. We offered him food and a drink, but really he just seemed tired of being in the car.

In desperation we turned on the cd player and switched to the Queen of the Night aria. Instantly--and Erin will back me up on this--Joseph stopped whining and began to smile and say "opera! opera!"

It's a good thing we've got plenty of social workers and lawyers in this family, because I'm fairly certain we're guilty of cultural abuse.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Be Simple

A lot of people (three, to be precise) have been asking for a new post.

Since the last post (and a good chunk of the comment section) was all about how great a husband I am, I figured I would just leave that one up there for a while to give everyone a good chance to soak it up.

(Note: If you’ve already rolled your eyes or groaned as a result of reading that last line, you may want to stop reading this post and go to another blog or skip to the end of this post to the part labeled “Conclusion”)

Today, I considered writing an April Fool’s Day post, but I couldn’t come up with anything, and Joseph’s only prank ideas involved him quietly taking the furniture polish into another room and then running around the house spraying until I could catch him (true story).

Since the last post was about gifts, I will continue on the theme of gifts.

Love Languages
When I was younger, I remember my sisters and a lot of other people getting really excited about a book that helped you figure out your “Love Languages” (If you’re unfamiliar with it you can consult my favorite source for trivial information: the wikipedia).

Basically, the way I understand it is that everyone feels loved (and shows love) through different forms of expression or different “love languages.” The book divided these languages into neat compartments including: having nice things said to you, doing things for others, or physical touch. My personal favorite language was “receiving gifts.” When I first heard this, my initial thought was “That’s so superficial/greedy!” (My initial thoughts often feature two or more words with slashes in between them. Sometimes, after the initial thought wears off, the slashes turn into ampersands, but not usually).

My Love Language
Now that I’m older, my views have changed. I’ve realized that having “receiving gifts” as your love language is actually a really great way to get people to give you stuff (my parents are so proud of the wisdom and maturity that comes to me with age).

With this realization I’ve made a concentrated effort to let everyone know that my love language—my exclusive love language—is, in fact, receiving gifts.

As someone once said:
“Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth.’”

The other great thing about love languages is that the one by which you feel love does not have to be the same as the one by which you show love. So while I know that people love me when they give me gifts, I can show love to them in many other ways such as “giving them personal space” or “hiding unhealthy food from them by putting the cookies in the back of the cupboard behind the cans of cream of mushroom soup.”

My In-Laws
I’ve been blessed with great in-laws who have picked up on my subtle (but concentrated) efforts to let them know that the only way I feel love is through gifts, and they have risen to the challenge.

For example:

For my birthday, Lindsey gave me a German novel that I’ve wanted to read for a while. The book is titled “Die Vermessung der Welt,” which any high-school student with at least a year of German will tell you means “Messing with the World.” (Actually, that’s not at all what it means. This is just one reason why you should never trust the foreign language skills of a high-school student).

This year, I set the goal to read (and finish) a book a month. In January, I read and finished three books. I haven’t read any since then, but if I pick up again in April, I will still be on pace to read 12 books by the end of the year. Erin doesn’t think that’s what I had in mind when I made my goal. This is why I don’t let Erin set my goals.

As a point of reference, for Erin’s birthday this year, Lindsey gave Erin two bags of dirt.

For Valentines (or because she was cleaning out her closet in early February), Hoadus gave me some golf balls and other golf paraphernalia that made her think of me. A lot of people may think it’s awkward to get a Valentine’s present from their sister-in-law, but hey, free golf balls.

Kiersten gave me the Donut.

You can’t put a price tag on that (because selling your offspring is illegal), but during his brief lifetime the Donut has provided me (and all the people within his small, but expanding, sphere of influence) with a lot of really funny memories.

Even though Matt’s still just a teenager, and even though Matt doesn’t have a job (yet), Matt gave me a wii.

"How?" you say. Let me explain:

You see, Matt convinced his parents to get him a wii for earning his Eagle Scout award. Actually, Matt pulled off convincing his parents to give him a wii for earning his Eagle Scout award three years (and counting) before he ever earned his Eagle Scout award, thus enabling me to play his wii before we ever moved to California.

One day, Matt may actually earn his Eagle Scout award. By then I’m hoping he’ll have a new video game system so he’ll give his old wii to me for keeps.

Because my in-laws love me so much, I have decided to give them something in return. Every weekday during the month of April, I will give to them a Joseph post on this blog.

If I don’t actually reach this goal (I’m giving myself about a 1 in 7 chance of making it), then consider that previous line to be my April Fool’s Day joke.

Also, because this post has gone much too long without a picture of Joseph:

Nancy and Sam, if you’re wondering why you didn’t get a mention in this post, we’re wondering where the pictures of the ring are. Erin says she has no reason to believe that things are official until we have pictures of Nancy’s left hand.