Posts Tagged ‘calcifer’

No Influence

15 January 2012


Dear J-

He is a book nibbler by nature. Therefore this is an entirely appropriate book: The Very Hungry Calcifer, er, Caterpillar. Hope you have a good work week too!



Stubborn Way

19 October 2011

Dear J-

Everyone always blames changes in the weather for the colds that they get but since our vacation, it’s been raiining, then hot, and now foggy again. Naturally we have been sick in some mild form or another but I’m chalking that up to having the kids in daycare and being able to freely swap viruses back and forth. Because of finances (or lack thereof) we’re pulling Calcifer out of daycare later: the double hit of another kid with the loss of the second income has meant that certain measures have to be adopted: belt-tightening is not unreasonable but I wonder about the social lessons so early on, already.

It’s interesting but not especially instructive to compare the two kids as they grow up as there are similarities — these two look remarkably like each other, as expected — and differences — how they deal with things. Calcifer has been unhappy with us lately which means either that he’s cutting more teeth or going through a growth spurt: you can tell by the way he hoovers up his food, and the frequency of his meals. He’s also very much more bonded to theVet, and calms down almost immediately once she picks him up, whereas he’ll rigidly arch away from me and, if necessary, twist as well. So having figgy in daycare has been good for her — she is a social rockstar in the way only four-year-olds can be, various classmates exclaiming her name excitedly as she shows up or when we run into them at stores and restaurants.

It’s a world that theVet and I don’t necessarily understand, as our first contacts with the outside world were preschool at four and I remember sitting around feeling lonely and hotly embarrassed at times by the attention that only “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” could bring, not precisely knowing or trusting what I did in front of the other kids.yesterday she came up to me and declared that we had forgotten a bouncy house and pinata for her last birthday party, and could we remember for next time, please. It’s hard to put a personality on Calcifer now because he’s mute and we don’t know what’s going on inside, necessarily, but I see signs of the same stubborn insistence already.


Under Cover

25 June 2011


Dear J-

Calcifer continues his growth at a fairly normal rate. The kid would rather try to stand than crawl and prefers rolling as a means of getting around which is how I suspect he ended up underneath the crib earlier today. It jives with what I remember of figgy’s development — not a lot of crawling but eventually up and standing without too much trouble around twelve months. What he’s actually doing under the crib is anyone’s guess but I’d say he’s not too worried about where as he is over being abandoned. Being the younger relatively immobile member of the pair means that we can take a little shortcut and leave him to his own devices for at least a little while.

All that is poised to change before long. Given our relatively advanced ages and prior issues this is likely it for us and two really is plenty to handle. The number of seats in the car is no reason to keep going, right? I may be fooled by how easy it seems this second time around: weekends have definitely been more hectic trying to fit around two kids’ schedules and I’m generally not privy to the secret world of the weekdays so that’s something I can’t say would be any different with more. I selfishly like the idea of a little mob of kids running around when if figgy’s any indication, we’ll already have two full-time hooligans on our hands before long.

Don’t let the innocent expression fool you. He’s already looking for ways to get away.


Stupid Me

29 December 2010

Dear J-

There’s things that are shockingly easy, like falling off a log or breathing, and then there’s crap like nursing your anger and letting it grow — stoke that particular fire, make sure it doesn’t burn low by finding fault in everything. I know that when I’m tired I make poor decisions and, besides which, every little thing will seem either insurmountable or incomprehensibly irritating. It’s a bad combination, lack of sleep with selfish desires to just get away from it all. There are days full of activity, like yesterday, when I think I’m never going to have a spare moment to myself and yet looking back there were plenty of chances to take time out if I’d just allowed myself to relax.

Jack Black, who is perhaps the last person you’d think to seek parenting advice from, says that you need a lot of energy to be successful; without it you end up watching a lot of TV together instead. And boy, don’t we know how that goes, and how it ends up — more time in front of the tube than we’d like, slack-jawed and mindlessly munching on something sweet. Even if it is a way to keep her busy and give myself some time is that really the right thing to do? There is almost universal acceptance of a little TV at this age, and no doubt we exceed those limits regularly. I sometimes wonder if I’m already too late, if in the pursuit of time for work I’ve sacrificed too much time for us.

We spend evenings together — dinner, then a bath, then the sleep preparations that encompass songs and books, though it’s almost as though our roles have reversed for that last activity: she busies herself with the million objects in her room while we’re kept busy singing or reading. She learns from habit and routine, and when our solutions include a video soporific to buy us time, that’s what we’re really telling her: we’re too busy for you, go amuse yourself while we take care of X, whether that’s the house, the baby, the meals, or our sanity. They tell us that newborns can’t be spoiled by too much holding; I’ve concluded that pushing your three-year-old away is just as impossible, and why would you want to? We have so few years before she’ll be uniformly embarrassed to be seen with us, and want to keep us out of her life. If we refuse the invitation now there’s no sense in mourning our distance later.


P.S. We should be flattered and not aggravated that she loves us and wants to spend time with us. That means taking the whole package as it is, crazy though it may seem. You may have wondered why there have been so few pictures of Calcifer and part of it is that he spends much of his day strapped to us, often me when I’m around because I’m not around much. The other part is because figgy has proven to be the more interesting subject lately, always in motion and demanding the lion’s share of the attention. Babies are nice, and I love having Calcifer around, but figgy keeps my viewfinder and mind occupied; funny how even when she was a baby you could already tell what craziness lay ahead.

Long Day

26 December 2010

Dear J-

It’s 10:30 and I can’t believe I haven’t had a spare moment until now — I suppose there are other things I could have put off but between having the boy strapped to me all day (hey, I don’t get any of that during the week) and the girl running around ragged (the energy expenditure was staggering, as figgy took a three-and-a-half hour nap this afternoon) we haven’t had a lot of time to ourselves. I go back to the lessons of Shrek 4 here again — if that’s what you wanted, clearly you weren’t thinking right when you decided to have kids.

We’ve settled into a routine of sorts, or really just reverted back to the way things were three years ago: the radius of action is fairly limited to where we can go before Calcifer needs to eat again, although we have been experimenting successfully with bottle feedings (the beauty of this morning was that that was the first time in five weeks that Calcifer’s meal was not delivered by mom in one shape or another — the first bottle feeding happened while I was at the ER with figgy).

The night’s too short for my-kids-are-cuter discussions and recapping the lowlights* isn’t of anyone’s benefit so I’d better execute a mercy ending worthy of the Chargers** and sign off for the night.


* My particular favorite from today: sitting down in a restaurant, having figgy reach up and jostle Calcifer awake and then having to joggle the baby while trying to eat.

** If you haven’t been following, they’re out of the playoffs with their loss to now 4-11 Cincinnati and I’d expect there to be some reckoning in the offseason, although to expect AJ Smith to do anything actually, you know, productive or rational is probably too much. AJ’s been dubbed the “Lord of No Rings” if that makes you feel any better.

Cold Shoulder

21 November 2010

Dear J-

The weather has turned cold (for San Diego, which means that shorts are now uncomfortable) and so naturally when theVet’s family comes visiting today we end up barbecuing in the brief period between storms.  There’s nothing quite like Korean short ribs (galbi) on charcoal — we could have cooked inside, but the weather and timing matched up quite nicely with the opportunity presented.  Afterwards we took the two older kids out on a brief walk, cut short by the rain starting up again and curtailing any hope of going out.

At one point we’ve got all three kids clustered on the floor, Calcifer wrapped up as newborns are like a burrito:  inert, quiescent, and calmly taking us all in by turns.  He’s a watcher, which is how I’ve lived my life, observing and acting, which has led to some impressively prescient moments, but also a lot of frustrating indecision and ineffective inaction.  Of course, we are talking about a three-day-old person, so let’s not jump to hasty conclusions.

figgy continues to demonstrate (at great length and volume) how much we need her and what she provides to the family, often keeping us simultaneously entertained and frustrated.  I’d forgotten that she hadn’t had a nap today and found myself incredulously regarding a seeming demon of activity, running around at warp speed all day, fueled by a few bites of pasta and a sliver of beef and wired to be wild with her cousin, bouncing around the house until sleep overtook her like a sledgehammer.  Life is great, and I know I’ll regret saying it, but two hasn’t been impossibly difficult.


Love Life

18 November 2010

Dear J-

So, best laid plans and all that:  figgy broke with a little diarrhea this morning, which immediately disqualified her from daycare, and thus we ended up making an emergency shopping trip to Target for some toys to keep her busy today.  And the winner of that particular derby was not the snap-together beads nor the spiny blocks.  Nope — it was the cheap markers and Hello Kitty notebooks we picked up from the dollar aisle that held her attention best, better than a new brother, better than grandma and grandpa, better than TV.  Well, not better than TV.

The big news of the day is therefore Calcifer, who weighs in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 19 inches long.  There were times today I wanted to divide myself in two; you’re only allowed one other person in the operating room besides the mom, and so I had to abandon figgy to her grandparents for the half hour or so it took to perform the birth rituals:  no slapping bottoms, but cord cutting, putting the baby on mom’s chest, etc.  Even now I’m stuck thinking I should be back in the hospital, helping out but I suppose that being with figgy is what I (and she) needs.  The memories from three and a half years ago kept flooding back, from the deep newborn outrage to what I think were the same nurses telling the same jokes.  There are some advantages to being consistent:  I remembered everything I really needed to, but with the added wrinkle of having figgy along, everything was new again.

We hadn’t planned on having figgy around during the birth — pick her up a little early from daycare and go see mom and brother perhaps — but it worked out perfectly as I thought it might in the end:  the process is a little less mystifying, and she’s comfortable with the hospital, more or less, making free with the nurses and taking outrageous advantage of her innocent looks.  It’s better this way even though it’s been the longest day, filled with worry and anticipation, struggle and chaos, but mostly life and love.