Monday, March 31, 2008

It Didn't Take Long

For our new cat Olive to appreciate the wonder of radiant heat.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Accounting

We went down the street last night and had pizza with neighborhood friends who have children of similar ages. We've happily gotten to the point where the adults can sit around a table and enjoy food, wine and quiet conversation while the kids are off somewhere else, playing in the basement or otherwise amusing themselves - a developmental milestone that clearly trumps walking, drinking out of regular cups or learning not to wander about the house with digestive waste suspended in purpose-built undergarments.

We're also in that sweet and innocent period during which the list of nefarious things that might happen to one of the little ones during these non-parental interludes is basically confined to falling down on the sharp edge of a block, fighting over a toy, enduring a paper cut or choking on some Play-Doh.

They also might have occasion to watch something on television that we don't typically allow at home, which Madison reminded us of at the conclusion of this impromptu adult/child play-date, by presenting the above handwritten account of all of the "unappropriate" shows she and her diminutive co-conspirators watched - in whole or in part - over the course of the evening.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Virtual Animal Cruelty

Ava, riding in the car tonight, apropos of nothing:

"Dad? I need to go on the computer sometime soon, 'cause one of my Webkinz doesn't have a bed in their room, and they've been awake for, like, two years. I'm serious, Dad, and it's not even funny. I need to go on there soon and get them a bed, so they can go to sleep, OK? Quickly."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top Chef – Family Function Edition

We drove down from Vermont on Sunday and made it to my parents’ house in time for a mid-afternoon Easter dinner. After having watched back-to-back episodes of Top Chef the night before, Gwen and I amused ourselves by imagining what it would be like to subject this kind of big family meal to the rigors of the show’s brutal judging.

Cue Uncle Freddy, in the role of Tom Colicchio, addressing the hassled matriarch host, sweat beading on her forehead as she carries in another platter of candied turnips: “Can I just ask, did you taste the mashed potatoes before you served them? You did? Did you think they were salty?”

Matriarch: “I… I thought they were good.”

Uncle Freddy (Colicchio): “Hmm...” [Shakes head in dismissive disgust] “I have to say I wonder whether you’re really right for this competition.”

Aunt Sally, affecting her best Tony Bourdain: “What is your major malfunction, Grandma? When the turkey’s ready for the window it’s ready for the window. I don’t give a damn if the kids say they want ten more minutes playing Webkinz, it’s your responsibility to get that food out! The piece on my plate was so dry it would have made a perfectly acceptable doorstop.”

Your sister (Padma), looking far more fetching than you remember, staring blankly at a card that has just been handed to her and reading slowly: “I’d like to hear more about the empanadas. What was the motivation for combining the goat cheese and black licorice? Did you think it was successful?”

Back to Uncle Freddy (Colicchio): “I think that dish was actually fairly well-conceived. Unfortunately, it really fell down in the execution.” [Looks at others while awarding himself an affirmative, self-satisfied nod.]

Aunt Sally (Bourdain): “I find it hard to get past the stuffing. I mean, I’ve scraped things off my shoes in dark alleys that were more appetizing.”

[Uncle Freddy (Colicchio) chuckles and offers an admiring glance. He’s down with Tony, now that he’s evolved from the kind of gangly tough who used to torment him unmercifully on the school playground - “Hey, Saucier, you want some of this?” - and sit menacingly at the back of Social Studies class reading a dog-eared copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” through dark sunglasses.]

The camera focuses in on Rocco DiSpirito, sitting at the end of the table. Not a relative playing Rocco DiSpirito, the actual person, who had nowhere else to go: “Did anyone write something for me to say here? No? Well, at this point let’s be honest, I’m just grateful for the hot meal.”

Your sister (Padma), affecting a level of stilted gravitas usually reserved for debates over global warming, or telling someone their pet died while they were away on vacation:

“Grandma... please pack your knives and go.”

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hanging On

A Blog "Of Note"

Big Bucket List development for this blog the other day. I guess you could also call it a Tipping Point – Morgan Freeman or Malcolm Gladwell, pick the personified literary device you’re comfortable with. We were tapped by Blogger as a “Blog Of Note,” and in the event there were any lingering questions related to the power and influence of Google let’s just wrap that up right now, because one nice reference on the Blogger home page resulted in more people coming here in two days than had stopped by over the nearly two-year history of the site. And most of those earlier visitors were compensated celebrity endorsers.

Suddenly we can’t help feeling like U2 at Red Rocks, the boys from Nirvana after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit MTV, William Hung as he wrapped up his American Idol audition. You get the idea.

We quietly enabled reader comments a couple of months ago, and as is typically the case for fledgling blogs, no one commented. Not the case over the last few days, and to everyone who has written a kind word in response to one of our recent posts, let me say thank you. To the couple of people who took time out of their busy schedules to pass along word that my blog made them want to vomit, not so much.

I sent an e-mail over the weekend to the good people over at The Best of Blogs, saying I didn’t think I’d meet the eligibility requirements to defend my “Parenting Blog” title in this year’s installment, given this welcome influx of new visitors. While writing the message it occurred to me that these unofficial blog contests shouldn’t really be about defending titles anyway, they should be about helping little-known (or entirely unknown) blogs find an audience. Every time I click on a new site I’m amazed at how much great stuff is being written and posted out there. So go out and click away. And thanks again, very much, for clicking here.

This is your blog:

This is your blog on Blogs Of Note:

Any questions?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


It was seven years ago today, a little after 5 a.m., when they handed you to us. Your mother had been sitting in a rocking chair in our apartment the afternoon before, and felt a little tinge of something that seemed worth investigating. I’ll leave it to her to fill you in on the clinical details somewhere down the road. Let’s just say we were sufficiently motivated on a Saturday afternoon to grab our “go” bag and head into the hospital, where we got the confirmation we were hoping for. You were on the way.

Once we were admitted – and my role was basically reduced to administering ice chips and verbal reassurances while trying not to pass out – I remember coming to the strong realization that when we left this place it would be with you. Our two was turning into three. Our marriage was turning into a family.

Seven years ago today, we traded the lives we were living, the only ones we’d ever known, for you. We traded quiet Sunday mornings with coffee and the paper and pleasant mid-afternoon phone calls plotting spontaneous dinners at favorite restaurants for diapers, sleep deprivation and stuffed animals. And it was the best deal we ever made.

Tonight after work I picked you up at dance class. Like we do most every Tuesday night, we stopped off at a little Italian place on the way home for some dinner. You had your usual Caesar salad with the special lemon vinaigrette dressing, and then we split a pizza. You were tired walking in the door and ready to leave mid-way through the first slice. When I motioned to my half-full glass of wine in an appeal for more time you said, and I quote, “Come on, Dad, slurp it down!” True to yourself, Madison, to the end. No matter what life throws at you, I hope it’s something you never lose.

And happy birthday.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wild Art

We've been picking up some new visitors over the last few days, largely as a result of a very nice post over at The Best of Blogs. So, in an attempt to get everyone up to speed (and to phone it in on a Saturday) I thought I would compile some of the more memorable wild art/screen saver/wallpaper images that have graced this blog over the last couple of years.

In other news, the Olive integration is proceeding nicely. Allergy impact has been minimal to non-existent, I guess there really is something to these anecdotal claims that have been directed at Siberian cats. The girls are dragging carrying her all over the house, and she's been unbelievably good natured about it. I can say without reservation that she's been a great addition to the family.

Here she is, earlier today, sleeping on Ava.

Now for the photos...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Say Hello To My Little Friend...

Yeah, so I caved on the cat. Outnumbered 3-to-1, you can only hold on for so long. Just ask Davy Crockett. Of course we'll be back with updates as we continue on this feline Magical Mystery Tour. We just got her yesterday, her name is Olive and - as of this morning - I'm not itching. Her breed is said to be hypo-allergenic, at least anecdotally, and so far I have no evidence to the contrary. As one might expect, the girls (all three of them) are over the moon.

Anyone interested in preparing themselves for future reports by reviewing the full history of this epic struggle should read this, and then read this, and then stand by.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


The Best of Blogs, 2007

It's "Best of Blogs" time again, and as a previous winner I was asked to post some thoughts on this, the king of all blog competitions, and to do my part to remind everyone that nominations are open through March 23.

About a year ago, at a time when this blog was struggling for relevance and reach in an uncertain world, we decided to run the gauntlet that is The Best of Blogs, and happily emerged on the other side with a victory in the Best Parenting Blog category. We were gratified to find an online sandbox where Dooce, Amalah and Dad Gone Mad were banned - by virtue of their insane traffic - and winning made us feel for the first time in our lives like Michael Dukakis riding around in that tank.

I was able to quit my job, we moved to a larger house and could finally afford French lessons for the girls. But the best part is that even with all the success, our traffic is still so insignificant that we qualify to defend our crown in this year's installment! So here's hoping we make the final cut of nominees on April 7 and have another opportunity to activate our foot soldiers (who go up and down Wilshire Boulevard) and once again stomp down the unsuspecting competition.

In all seriousness, The Best of Blogs is a great opportunity for the little-known blogger to get some visibility, recognition, and - if victorious - a cool new button for their template. So if your readership is more or less confined to relatives, friends and people who stumble upon your site as a result of stringing together random (and possibly inappropriate) search terms, fire it up and get yourself in the game we like to call The Best of Blogs!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

(Winter) Sunday