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Riley's First Blog

Damon’s birthday (update)

Just an update to the birthday post… At two years old, Damon weighs 31 lbs (75%) and is 2 ft 11 in tall (50-75%)… which means he is rapidly gaining on Riley. His check-up was uneventful, he seems to be a happy healthy boy with an exceptionally large vocabulary.

Some birthday pictures…

The cornbread mini muffins Riley and I made…





Everyone gathered around to watch Damon get a dinosaur temporary tattoo (he wanted the first one on his leg, then one on each arm)…


The kids running around being crazy…

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Wouldn’t be a party without balloons…



Back at home…




Blueberry picking

We went blueberry picking recently…

To be fair, Sage and Riley did most of the blueberry picking while Damon and I sat under the bushes and did most of the eating. We managed to pick enough to make little mini blueberry crumbles, which were quite good. Damon likes to help with baking, especially the taste testing part. He kept sticking his little finger into the extra blueberry filling (to freeze for another time) and licking it. I turned around for a moment and when I turned back he was literally covered in blue. I wish I’d gotten a picture of that…


Farmer’s market

Dragon eggs

Riley is having some conflict at preschool and it all stems from her active imagination. A few weeks ago, she and her friends Charlie and Audrey discovered a bunch of tiny little plastic balls in the loft at school. They decided they must be dragon eggs and started collecting them and hiding them in the corner under some pillows. A few days later they realized the balls were coming out of a stuffed puppy dog, so they started digging their fingers into the little hole and pulling out more and more balls. Eventually the teachers noticed and confiscated them. Herein lies the the conflict. Riley is certain they are dragon eggs, 100% certain, and there is no dissuading her. How do you get dragon eggs to hatch? Fire of course! She learned that from Harry Potter. When I went to pick her up a few days ago, she marched over and declared indignantly, (hands on hips) “The teachers won’t let be build a fire and they won’t let me take the eggs home! What am I supposed to do?? There are no other options and they won’t listen!!” Her teacher (who is a lovely woman) came over and tried to reason with her to no avail.

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[The origin of the dragon eggs]

On the way home we made a plan… Any alternatives to building a fire? “We could cook them in the oven.” Um, any other alternatives? She finally settled on hot water. She said some dragons have already hatched at the preschool and we agreed that they must be invisible to adults, which is why the teachers don’t believe. Only if you really, really, really want to see a dragon will you be able to see one (very convenient, learned that from The Last Unicorn). Her plan is to hatch one for each kid in the class. Luckily, as soon as they hatch they fly to the kid’s home by magic, so don’t have to worry about dragons hanging around the preschool. When the dragons get a little older, you can put a clock around their neck and ride them to school. When the alarm goes off, the dragon knows to come back and pick you up. They know how to feed themselves, so they are easy to take care of. Riley is planning to write a book with 4 chapters to explain all this: Chapter 1: How to hatch a dragon egg; Chapter 2: How to take care of a baby dragon; Chapter 3: Things you can do with your dragon; Chapter 4: Important rules so you don’t get hurt.


[dragon eggs in hot water]

I’m not really sure how one is supposed to handle this murky realm where reality and make-believe mix. It doesn’t seem right to insist she is making it all up and it isn’t real, but also doesn’t seem right to fully encourage it. So I’m taking the middle ground and neither encouraging or discouraging, just seeing where it goes, and trying to help her have a plan for school that is acceptable to the teachers too.

This isn’t the first and I’m sure won’t be the last example of her imagination get away with her. When she built her fairy village, she put a little sign next to it saying, “If you are a fairy, please sign your name,” and she would check every day if a fairy had come by. If anything moved she took it as proof that a fairy must have been there. Whenever she throws a penny in a pool or blows out candles, she always wishes to see a real fairy.





Last weekend we watched The Last Unicorn, which is an animated movie that both Sage and I watched as kids. My memory of it is really vague, more of a feeling than anything else. After watching it, I realize why. It’s a very strange and dreamy movie, mystical somehow. Riley cried through most of it (but didn’t want to stop watching), and after it was over she went and sat on the couch by herself for a while and just cried quietly. She said she wasn’t sad exactly, just wanted to be alone a bit. That is exactly the feeling I remember when thinking of watching the movie as a kid. Later that day, Rachel came over for dinner. She told Riley she thought the movie was sad and asked if Riley cried. Riley thought for a minute then said, “I almost cried twice.”

Last night we took a look at the dragon eggs, which had been sitting in water on the kitchen windowsill for about three days. I asked her if she thought they had hatched yet, and she looked at them for a long time then said, “No… I think maybe they are just plastic balls. But at least we tried.”

The influence of uncle Mikey

Here’s what happens when I leave the kids alone with my brother Michael…


[buying beer in Costa Rica]


[stocking the refrigerator in Cambridge with Michael’s favorite beer]

(just kidding, of course. Michael is an AWESOME uncle. I wish he lived closer…)

Self portraits

Riley’s self-portraits on the wall at preschool…


[5 months ago]


[3 months ago]

CicLAvia!

Back in April the city of Los Angeles shut down 7 miles of streets around downtown to cars and opened it up to bikers for CicLAvia. It was pretty amazing, tons and tons of people from all walks of life… hipsters, young kids, families, old ladies, anyone you can think of was there with their bike. Damon was in the little green seat on the front of Sage’s bike…

And Riley was in the Wee hoo attached to the back of my bike (that thing is HEAVY, but it’s kinda cool because she can peddle along).

We biked all the way from the begginning (Melrose and Heliotrope) to the end (4th and Boyle), then went back to City Hall to meet up with Riley’s friend Nusia and her family to have lunch. Other friends showed up later, and everyone was having such a nice time that Damon’s nap time came and went… When we finally started biking back to the car, he was exhausted and promptly fell asleep in his seat. The police men at one stop light thought it was really cute and actually called ahead to the cops at the next stop light to be sure they keep an eye out for the sleeping boy biking by…


Dress up!

Riley and Damon love to play dress up. A few months ago we finally managed to get the dress-up clothes organized into one box, which means instant fun whenever it comes out of the closet…

Can’t wait to show these videos to Damon’s prom date some day…

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Almost 3!

Little Damon just turned two! If you ask him how old he is he’ll immediately answer, “20 months!” When we try to tell him he’s almost two, he starts running around laughing and saying, “I’m almost three!!” It’s pretty much his favorite joke right now. Doesn’t really sound that funny, I’m realizing as I write this, but somehow just about everything Damon says seems funny. He’s talking A LOT. Anything Riley says gets immediately repeated by Damon, so as a result he’s developed quite a vocabulary.

Damon is a real joy to be around. I know I’m biased, but he seems to cheer up others as well. A couple months ago I took him to the emergency room after he cut open his head at daycare. It wasn’t too serious, but did need a few staples. We were at the hospital for about 4 hours and over that period he ran around charming everyone in the waiting room and winning over even the grumpiest ER nurses. No tears at all when they cleaned out his wound and put in the staples. The only time he cried was when they wouldn’t give him water after eating saltines (just in case he need to be sedated, I guess most kids his age do for a head wound).

I think Damon should be the poster boy for sleep training. We were pretty strict about it right from the beginning (having learned our lesson from Riley), and he’s been a great sleeper. Around 8pm one of starts reading to him in his room. After the last book, the lights go out and we sit in the chair talking about the day. After a few minutes he points to his crib, gives a a big hug and sloppy kiss, then curls up with his his head in the corner. As we leave he waves and says “g’night! sleep well! love you!” Around 7am we start hearing him singing through the monitor. Usually it’s a combination of twinkle twinkle little star, abc’s and row row row your boat. Sometimes he just chats to himself. Sometimes he starts calling out every name he can think of, not urgently, just checking if anyone is around. Riley, amazingly, sleeps through all of this, even if Damon is singing at the top of his lungs.

Damon certainly isn’t a complete angel though. He’s very… physical. The main source of conflict in our house is that Damon always wants to play with Riley, and she usually does not want to play with him. So Damon ends up pushing or pulling on her, trying to wrestle, generally being rough. Riley is still bigger and stronger, but every time she’s the one who ends up crying. He also likes to throw things, hit things with sticks, generally make a huge mess in any way he can. None of it is done in malice, even the hitting and pushing. I hate to say it, but he’s kind of a stereotypical boy. He likes trucks and dirt and he isn’t afraid of anything. Except for the cats. He is inexplicably frightened of the cats. If we’re around, he’s okay, but if he’s alone in the hallway and one of the cats walks up he’ll scream at the top of his lungs and run away, it’s bizarre. Big huge dogs on the street, no problem. LIttle kitten sleeping on the couch, terrifying.

For his birthday we decided to just do something simple at the daycare, like we did when Riley turned two. Riley suggested we make mini cornbread muffins which went over surprisingly well with the kids. I was worried they wouldn’t like them since they aren’t very sweet, but the gobbled them all up. It was pretty sweet, Lucy had them all sitting around a little table outside waiting for us. They all sang and cheered, then dived in to the food. After muffins, we brought out dinosaur tattoos and the kids went crazy for them. Temporary tattoos are BRILLIANT. After each kid was tatted up I suddenly wondered if their parents would mind… but luckily Lucy’s daycare attracts a pretty low key easy going crowd. We brought a huge bunch of balloons and the kids had a blast running around the yard. This is such a great age, doesn’t take much to make a toddler happy.

Back at home, Riley, Eric, Kylene and I had put together a big birthday table full of legos and wrapped up dinosaurs. Sage and Riley put the finishing touches on with lollypops, gummy bears and M&M’s. Damon nearly exploded with excitement when he saw the table. He’s been on a big lego kick recently. We have a bunch of legos that Sam gave us before she moved (her mother had saved them since Sam was little), and Eric and Sage have been building crazy houses and cars with Damon. The obvious choice for his birthday was thus more simple lego blocks, and a bunch of little lego men (Damon loves to put the little guys together). We figured the dinosaurs would be a good indestructible toy for him. He takes them everywhere – they eat dinner with him, go in the pool, ride in the car seat. Luckily there are plenty of them so he and Riley don’t have to argue.

As usual I wish I was better about chronically Damon and Riley’s lives. I fear that I’ll forget anything that isn’t recorded on the blog or with a picture or video, so as a result we have a bizzilion pictures on my phone and Sage’s. It’s amazing how happy they make me. Life is definitely more complicated and hectic with two kids, and there are certainly a lot of things we miss out on, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. When work is discouraging and stressful, it’s so nice to come home to kids who just love you, pure and simple. They are endlessly entertaining, you never know what is coming next with these two…

New shelves

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Elise has been lobbying hard to replace the ancient IKEA eyesores that were in here before. After many months of frustarting internet furniture shopping, discontinued items, backorders, and late night calls from incoherent delivery guys, they’re here and assembled.  Finally more room for plants (just what we needed).