Sunday, April 24, 2011

JULY 2010

All right, since my strongest memories about this month consist of the release of INCEPTION and the last volume of SCOTT PILGRIM and that incredible TREME finale and discovering, mainlining, then getting flattened by The New Pornographers live, we're going to look at a lot of pretty pictures with minimal commentary.

Hitting the rack with Jubilee/
Roaring back through the first five volumes of SCOTT PILGRIM to get ready for Volume 6.

Standing while eating her first burger. Polished the whole thing off in about five minutes.


And here we are having a spontaneous soak in the water fountain at The Domain.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

MARCH 2011


We’ve been rocking the word games lately. Last week, we were out to dinner and the waitress was taking our drink order and Miller waited her turn and then held out two fingers real close together and said, “I’ll have a little little water. In a kid’s cup, please?” just out of nowhere, all of a sudden ordering for herself.

We’re heading to Lubbock for a comic book convention this weekend and her repeatedly stated plans are to hang out with Pa, go to the bank and get some money, and then go pay for some red cowboy boots. She was on the phone to Oma yesteday explaining all this, but then when she got to the part about the boots, she said, “bread cowboy boots, Oma,” really putting the emphasis on the first word. Then looked at me with this wild grin. Back into the phone, “I said, bread cowboy boots,” then looked back at me again, just about to rupture from the suspense of whether or not Oma hadn’t noticed and was still going about her day, or, and this was the real good one right here, she had caught that slight addition and was even now squinting into the phone, wondering how in the world she was going to manage baking up a pair of bread cowboy boots.

Also yesterday at the park, while swinging, she abruptly started yelling, “Bring-ee!” and getting pretty tickled about it all. I asked her what bring-ee meant and she laughed even harder. “I don’t know! I made it up!” The next time I asked, she said, “It means,” reached down and smacked the bottom of her swing, while saying, with her voice all of a sudden pitched as low as she could go, “kinda like this,” then at the top of her lungs, leaned way way back, legs kicking up into the sky, “BRING-EEEEEEEE!”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Hot off the virtual press: Just spent close to an hour going through this Scarry BEST WORD BOOK EVER that my little brother and I had when we were little and Mom gave the girl on her actual Birthday Zero and, you know, we probably didn't even make it halfway through. Especially allowing for digressions to talk about each two-page spread, you can probably occupy a curious kid with that thing for three or four hours, no problem, provided all that anthropomorphism doesn't start in on the old sanity erosion--which you definitely want to watch our for when you're home alone with the kid, always and no exceptions--but I kept checking the digital clock on the cable box waiting for it to be 2:00 and NapTime. At five minutes till, I told her that we had five more minutes and then it would be time to use the toilet and get pajamas on and read one more thing before taking a nap.

Then it hit me. She knows numbers. But, so far, telling her "one more minute" is pretty much interchangeable with and as abstract as "just a little bit more" (which she busts out all the time, these days, unfailingly accompanied by thumb and finger an infinitesimal distance apart, a very little bit). So, I stopped reading and said, "See the numbers on the cable box? That's a 1 and a 5 and another 5 over there. Right?" Nod. "All right, well pretty soon here, that second 5 is going to change into a 6. And that means one minute went by. Then it's going to bump up to a 7 and then an 8 and then 9 and then the whole thing's going to change to a 2 and a 0 and another 0. And then it's going to be time to stop reading this book and get ready for NapTime, like I said before. Does that make sense?" She points at the clock. "The numbers are going to change one more minute." "Yeah, that's pretty much it." "I want to see it." "Well, take a look." And three seconds didn't go by before that 5 clicked over to a 6 and her jaw just dropped. Astonishment, pure and total.

As you might expect, we did not read another word of Richard Scarry, but crouched down in front of the clock, marveling as the next four minutes clicked by. The wonder was pretty much gone by 2 of the clock, she jumped up the instant it changed and ran to get ready. Will probably give this a little while to sink in before we hit military time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


No pictures this time.

The girl's awareness of her waste functions has been steadily increasing of late. Oftentimes, we will get real-time updates with regard to breaking developments in her diaper. Sometimes, they are of the present tense gerund variety (I'm pee-peeing!"), other times, we are only privy to the aftermath ("I have a bowel movement* in my DIaper!"). We've been talking about how we're going to toilet-train her, when it's going to happen, etc. Catherine figured she'd take off a Friday or Monday and we'd just hunker down with this 3-day method that's all about positive reinforcement and the goal of keeping your underwear dry. Result based. Well, that was all well and good, but I have really not been looking forward to the notion of dedicating a weekend to this, even though I know that of course it needs to be done, essential for proper upbringing, blah blah blah.

Well, Sunday, the kid wakes up at 6:30 like she does, and her mom tries to change her diaper and notices that it's dry. She held it through the night. Then the girl says, "No! No more diapers! I want to wear panties. Like a big girl." Well, with me still out for the count, Mom busts out the Superman underwear (naturally) and I wake up three hours into Toilet Training: Day 1. With the proviso that we can pull the plug if we want, this is not really what we signed up for, but at the end of the day, you've got to listen to the kid, and she seems pretty gung-ho about it. While I read the 40-pg document that someone's passing off as an "e-book" (I prefer to think of it as a toilet training manifesto), there were two more accidents, bringing the total count up to 5 by, seems like, 10:15. Not a grand beginning. But by the time I made it through the whole thing, she had landed it all in the toilet without incident and could not have been happier about it. The final count for Day 1 was 7 Celebrations and 6 Learning Experiences (because, friends, every sopped pair of underwear soaked through with urine is a teaching moment, I am here to tell you). No sign of any bowel movements. Not a strange thing, as it's kind of a different situation.

Day 2, five Celebrations + one crazy 2-day worth of serious eating bowel movement right under the wire before BathTime, which was serious cause for celebration, as well as gratitude to the four prunes that made it all possible. We're here in the middle of nap time of Day 3 and so far we're at four Celebrations along with another turd that was frankly intimidating, bringing to mind Jack Palance's catchphrase, or at least opening salvo, from beloved family classic City Slickers.

Along with maybe half a dozen false alarms, because she's having such a good time saying, "I'm pee-peeing!**" and watching everybody drop what they're doing and hustle into her bathroom so that she can do her business. Sometimes, she wants company, directing people to sit in certain locations, sometimes she will say, "I need my privacy," and slam the door in your face before, presumably and one hopes, waddling back over to her little toilet with her underwear around her ankles. But, as with everything else, she is embracing this experience with great delight on her face, a joy that is infectious, even when the smell is a little bit stout.

*I can't stand any of that "poop" or "potty" level of language. Was originally campaigning for "urinating" and "defecating" but none of that took. She added the second "pee," too, but my sole triumph was that she was totally down with calling it "bowel movement," which really brings down the house when she busts that out on someone who isn't ready for it. Also, not unfunny when we're walking to the park and she will point out the droppings of dogs with lazy owners. "I see bowel movement over there. And right there. And right there...."

**Still, yes, with the present tense, even though experience has taught us that the literal intent behind the sentiment can be translated to something more like "I need to pee soon."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


As with most kids, I suspect, around our place the final minutes transitioning from dinner and post-dinner activities to bathtime and bedtime are fairly crackling with manic bursts of home stretch madness. A furious naked dash across the living room, trying to make it into the master bedroom closet to hide or maybe even leave a last puddle of goodnight to clean up. Last week, she was down to her diaper and broke free once again - security at these times is admittedly fairly lax and willing to look the other way north of eight o'clock - only this time she picked up a spigot from an almost-empty bottle of lotion and started brandishing it around like a sword, making these zhhnn zhhoww noises that we absolutely could not make heads nor tails of at the time that now clearly seem to be a recreation of lightsaber sound-effects (though of course she has not seen any piece of that yet)(though, again, come to think of it, there is a Darth Vader mask and lightsaber still hanging up in her room, maintaining from the days when I wrote in there)(and since we're already over parenthetical quota and in case you're wondering, the other two holdovers are four black and white framed pictures of Bird, Eric Dolphy, the Kind of Blue horn players laying down a track, and Elvin Jones, as well as 19 longboxes containing 7,000+ comic books; it is about time to move out of good old #936, yes).

But, the zhhnn zhhoww. We were cracking up at this routine and finally asked what are you doing, to which she replied, "I'm fighting crime in Gotham City!" which of course knocked us out.

A couple of days later, she was looking through an old BATMAN comic and came up asking, "Who's this, Daddy?" The scene was Batman and Gordon on the roof. "Well, honey, this is Commissioner Jim Gordon. He helps Batman fight crime. He's in charge of all of the police officers in the city, and he helps Batman catch the Joker and guys like that. They're pretty much best friends." She took all of that in stride, gave the page due consideration. Something popped into my head. "Hey, who would you say your best friend is?" Now, as far as I know, no one has explained that concept to her, and I was just wondering which one of the two girls that we play with regularly would be her answer. Or, you know, Batman, maybe. She put her hand on my knee and gave it a couple of pats. "It's you, Daddy. My best friend is you!" As you might expect, this about knocked me off of the couch. I didn't want to just smother her but gave her a reciprocal pat on the back and said thanks, that meant a lot. Then she looked me right in the eyes and grinned total mischief. "You're welcome, Daddy. I'm trying to give you back the magic."

Make of that what you will.

The other funny bit, lately, we were walking to the park and she wanted to wear her Superman outfit and ran far ahead of me, then doubled back. When she finally ran into me, she laughed and said, "I just went back in time, Daddy! Back in tiiiiiime!"


A couple of weeks ago when I was reading our girl NOW ONE FOOT, NOW THE OTHER, we got to the fourth or sixth page and she got upset.

"Say the magic words, Daddy! Say the magic words!"
"Please? Thank you?" I was pretty sure those weren't it. She repeated her demand. "Shazam? Abracadabra?"
"The words in the book!" She angrily pointed at the words. I started back up again and she kept trying to make me say the magic words, but I had no idea what they were and just got us through for the 200th time and on to into naptime.

She did the same thing the next afternoon, and I still had no idea. That night, I remembered to ask Catherine about it. Apparently, at some point, they established that they were all magic words. You just had to point at them and read them out loud to activate the spell. Which, yeah, I guess I've been behind that for some time now, storytellers as magicians, etc, and not even just Alan Moore, who, clearly.

So. The next afternoon or evening when we were rocking the Tomie de Paola, I knew just what to do when the call came. I put my index finger down and pointed along as I read. And it was magic. Or if you prefer science, it was like somebody put the batteries in the translator. She just started reading along. She didn't get every word and would even sit out the odd phrase, but I'd say she was getting close to half of it perfect. And the funniest part, she wouldn't stop talking for the other half, just kind of la-la-gluh-bla, jabbering her way through until we made it back to a part she remembered.

It made me think, though, how much I take the whole written communication thing for granted. How we trap such a wide spectrum of experience, thought, and emotion and leave it there, charged in just a few possible letters, waiting for someone who speaks the same language to come along and unlock whatever it is we left for them.

They really all are magic words.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


So, yes, I wasn't able to do this for a few weeks, and then the notion of trying to fill in All the Important Bits that happened in that month was too daunting, which of course kept increasing exponentially in direct proportion to the gap of silence. The archivist in me still thinks he's going to go through and do a series of posts by month to try to capture fragments of the intervening wonder, but, in the meantime and right off the top of my head, here is some of the fun we've been having with vocabulary, in a possible approximation of chronological order.

"You're welcome." - I think I mentioned that she picked up "please" in under an hour, in order to get what she wants. Little girl has never seen the merit in the flip side of that coin, the gratitude part, but now amuses herself by almost always saying "you're welcome" in place of "thank you." She gets it, just elects not to participate in the manner that has been suggested.
EX: "I want grapes." I bring grapes. "Cut them up!" I cut them up. "You're welcome, Daddy."

"Hold ya, hold ya." - This is another one, but I can't decide if she's flipping it on purpose or not. Translated as, "Pick me up."

"I want to go to Lubbock and tickle Uncle Brett." - This was the mantra for most of last December. Kid loves to tickle, be tickled, direct third parties to tickle other third parties.
EX: "Daddy, tickle Miller. Mama, tickle Daddy. Now, Daddy tickle Baby. Mama, Daddy, tickle Miller." Etcetera, ad infinitum.
(Too, she never actually laid hands on Uncle Brett during the holidays, after all the hype.)

"Excuse me." - This doesn't require explanation, but I can't describe how precious it is to be emptying dishes or folding clothes or some such, and then feel a little hand on the back of your leg and hear that voice say those words, she needs to get by to get on to the next thing.

"I didn't like it." - Uttered after giving something like zucchini or squash a fair shot, always accompanied by a shake of the head, usually along with offering up the partially chewed item, in case anybody else might not feel the same way.

(BONUS ANECDOTE: A couple of nights ago, we were all eating this pasta tetrazzini recipe that Catherine found somewhere, which was delectable except there was no meat, but the kid was going to town on the pasta, to the exclusion of everything else. She wouldn't even try the zucchini, and kept calling for more pasta. Finally, Catherine brought out the old bit, "If you have a bite of this, I'll get you a bite of that." So, quick as a wink, the kid puts a piece of zucchini into her mouth. Catherine gets up, goes over to the pot, and takes out another couple of pieces of pasta, puts one on Miller's plate. Miller spits the zucchini out into her hand, puts it on her plate, and pops the pasta into her mouth with a huge grin at the trick she has played.)

"Rock and roll!" - Usually hollered while trying to break the mounted motorcycle at the park off of its spring by rocking it forward and backward as hard as she can. Or standing at the foot of her friend Jubilee's bed with her hands on the footboard (backboard? the opposite of the headboard) and banging her head, again, as hard as she can.

"Have a good meeting, Mama." - In parting to her mother, who was on the way out the door one morning last week.

"I have superpowers, Daddy." - Said to me with a grin last week before she climbed over the edge of the couch and jumped down onto the trampoline sitting next to it. I kind of want to get rid of all the capes and ladders everywhere now.

"I can't find my cane." - The predicate is interchangeable, but she'll wander around, narrating what's going on with the strong implication that maybe everyone within earshot should pitch in until we get the matter resolved. The back end of this is, "I see my cane . . . right over there!" with that last phrase in a pretty fair Queens accent. "Ovah theyyyaaaahhh!"

"I want Daddy to sit right here, read Miller Tiny Titans, no cuddle up." - She said this last week, patting her hand on the couch to show me exactly where I should park it, while waving around the particular issue that we were to read and expressing a desire that I should not put my arm around her or make any movement in her direction or attempt at conversation of any kind, just read the dang book.

"Too tired to run." - Sometimes said on the way back from the park, walking or usually being held, about thirty minutes away from NapTime.

"Gotcha!" - Taught her to play tag yesterday. Too much fun.

And all of these are from today. She came rolling in the room this morning with some water cup that had been poured yesterday or the day before and then hidden somewhere, about to drink it and I said, "Where'd that come from?" took it away, and got her a fresh one. Since then, every time she sees a bottle of milk or whatever, she holds it out and says, "Where'd this come from? Where'd THIS come from?" working herself up into minor hysterical giggling.

Gave her a peanut butter bagel for lunch. She's in the kitchen working on that, I'm at my desk typing. She walks out of the kitchen with her cheeks puffed out from the last 25% of bagel and says, "I wa'. Mo. Bagl." So, I hook that up and she swivels around in her chair, holds her hands out at me, palms up, and says, ever so casually, "Maybe some blueberries? And some nana?" Yeah, maybe so.

We were at the park and she likes it when she goes down the little slide and then watches me come down the big slide. There are two ways up the playstructure, the easy way and the hard way. After a slide, I'm following her up the hard way and she turns around and says, "No, go the other way." "It's cool, I'm right behind you, let's slide." She makes it up to the top, turns around, puts her palm in my face and yells, "(s)Top, I want Daddy to go other way! Right nooooooow!" This last, again, in the Queens accent, accompanied by frantic hand gestures in the direction of the alternate passage.

I did what she told me.