Happy Third Day on Earth

Jeff and Pam suggested to the kids that they might want to make a welcome home banner for us when we returned from the hospital. Griffin immediately took charge, finding all the necessary art supplies and making, with Maggie’s help, multiple banners.

The first one was across the doorway when we entered:

Welcome home Mom and Dad!
Welcome home Mom and Dad!

The second, my favorite, was across the sideboard in the dining room:

20161127_161202_003_edited-1
Happy Third Day on Earth Oliver!

The third, not pictured, was an “I Spy” picture with a list of things to find, including 15 goldbugs (à la Richard Scarry). It was especially challenging due to the fact that many items on the list had been subsequently scribbled over. Maggie thought that this was especially clever, “Under here is a tree!”

As indicated by these banners, Maggie and Griffin are, thus far, extremely excited about Oliver’s arrival. We had a lovely afternoon, playing games, letting them hold Oliver, and eating Thanksgiving leftovers. (Sarah and I have been jonesing at the hospital for the past few days. Though we did have the pies delivered. Duh.)

Below are a few more pictures from our first day at home.

Oliver Louis Stocco Roy

Sarah’s water broke at 7:15 AM on November 25, 2016, and Oliver Louis Stocco Roy was born twelve and a half hours later, at 7:44 PM. He was 9 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long. We’ll post more about his name later, but it should be noted that “Louis” is pronounced LOUee after his great grandfather, Louis Stocco.

Sarah’s labor was complicated by the fact that Oliver’s umbilical cord was both wrapped around his neck and fully knotted, cutting off oxygen during contractions. It was an emotionally intense experience for all of us, including the medical staff. Because of the urgency to get the baby out, it was also far more painful and physically traumatic for Sarah than we had anticipated.

Fortunately, moments after his rather dicey arrival, little Oliver loudly proclaimed his health and hunger. He was a rock star overnight, dividing his time between eating and sleeping. Today he got to meet two of his grandparents (the other two, we hope, in January), and his older sister and brother. They were very excited to meet and hold him.

Below are some pictures from Oliver’s first 24 hours. Click on any picture for a larger version.

Persons don’t Eat Persons

Like many parents, I’ve adopted the weird tradition of expressing my affection toward my children in cannibalistic terms. When Griffin and Maggie were babies, I regularly described them as “delicious” or “so cute I could eat you.” As I write this, we impatiently await the arrival of our third child, who will no doubt receive the same dubious treatment.

These days, it’s more of a faux threat that I toss out when we’re playing tickle games or otherwise rough-housing. I’m a hungry troll! I’m going to eat your belly button! (My beard is an astoundingly effective tickler.)

This morning, while chasing Maggie around the loft, she suddenly put our her hand and yelled, “STOP! Persons don’t eat persons.”

I burst out laughing, as did she, and I pressed her further. “What about delicious little toes?”

“No!”

“Crunchy elbows??”

“No!”

“Angel hair salad???”

“No! Persons do not eat persons. Period!

I was simultaneously amused by the whole interchange and pleased that she’s properly internalized the cannibalism taboo. And then she continued, doubling down on the weirdness factor.

“Because we have brains.”

“What?”

“Persons have brains. Up here,” tapping her head.

“Ok. So, I shouldn’t eat people because they have brains?”

“Yes.”

Now that that was settled, I prepared to tackle her for some more tickling, but she added, “And when you die you turn into a plant.”

“Um. Wait, what?”

Grinning with increasing excitement, she explained, “Daddy, when you die some day, you will grow into a plant. Or a bush. Or a flower! Or a TREE!” She was very pleased with the thought that I will be a tree.

There is nothing cooler than a 4½-year-old brain.

Baby Names

Maggie has been keeping a running list of baby names. So far we have:

  • Steve
  • Pumpkin
  • Avocado
  • Elizabeth
  • Winter
  • August

PS: We write this on the eve of Thanksgiving, five days past the due date. Hoping we get to meet Steve (or whoever) soon!

Reading Time

Our bedtime routine is not as structured as it used to be, though we do get the kiddos to bed by 7:30 most nights. (Which we know from experience is a major ingredient in the following day’s success.) But one thing we all love to do is read in bed together before lights out. On nights when we finish dinner early enough and the kids clean up, brush teeth, and get their PJs on in time, we pile onto the big bed in our bedroom and select a book to read. Sometimes we only have time for a few pages; other times we read multiple chapters.

I love this time for a number of reasons. Of course I think it is “good” for the kids. And it helps calm them down so they can actually fall asleep instead of hurling stuffed animals at each other. And I love books and stories. But it also hearkens back to my own childhood when I remember sitting with my dad reading books. I still clearly remember many of the plots, the sound of my dad’s voice, the way he would slam the book shut when we were finished, the way his wedding ring reflected the lamp, and the ridges on his massive (to my young eye) fingernails.

I don’t remember conflicts and problems, though I’m sure we had them. We do now, too. Sometimes the kids can’t agree on a title. Sometimes Maggie interrupts the story so many times that I want to exile her from the room. Pretty much every night Griffin elbows Sarah in the face or fidgets so much that we want to strap him down. But these sorts of challenges are part of everything we do, and they don’t diminish the magic of storytime.

With the completion of The Secret Garden a few weeks ago, we’re finally at the stage where we can read complete novels. Maggie’s still not 100% ready, but Griffin is eager to tackle bigger stories. Prior to this, we were mostly reading shorter children’s books or episodic graphic novels (BoneAmulet, and, our all-time favorite, Lumberjanes). It’s exciting to consider all the books we can read together now!

Girl Power

The weekend after the election, the kids and I stopped by our local bookstore to browse. They went straight to the kids’ section while I looked at new releases. Moments later, Maggie comes running up to me with this book in her hands:

Girl Power
Girl Power

I didn’t manage to capture the look of wonder that she had on her face moments earlier, but she could not have been more excited that such a book existed. I was still pretty raw from the election, and my emotions ricocheted between hope and despair. Hopeful that as Maggie gets older, she will discover and nurture her own super powers. That her generation will join her. That she will appreciate the powers of the superheroes who preceded her (mothers, grandmothers, celebrated warriors, silent survivors). Despair that I’ll need to explain the phrase, “Grab them by the pussy;” that our culture still reveres hypermasculine cavemen; that two of the three superheroes on the cover are wearing swim suits.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
The Secret History of Wonder Woman

The book, by the way, is only meh. Too moralistic for my taste: “Wonder Woman knows the importance of telling the truth.” Not to mention the absurd implication that DC Comics is at the vanguard of any sort of women’s empowerment. According a reputable recent study, women make up about a quarter of comic book characters, and among comic book creators, men outnumber women by a staggering nine-to-one ratio. But, I’m good with Maggie, at 4 ½, grabbing a book called Girl Power and thinking it’s the coolest thing ever. Someday, we’ll graduate to more sophisticated fare. (High on my reading list is Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman. I think I’ll bump that into my next spot!)


On a barely related note (we’re talking about books, right?), one of Maggie’s favorite things to do is pull out my D&D books. She looks at the pictures, no matter how gruesome, making up stories as she goes. She is also very proud of the D&D character that she plays at our rare family games, proclaiming, “I’m a fighter with a really big sword!”

D&D books
One of Maggie’s favorite genres: D&D books!

November 8, 2016

I’m nowhere near ready to write about this, but feel that I should include a snippet of the outside world in this otherwise unapologetically navel-gazing blog. I hope it provides a historical anchor when we look back in years to come.

Election results as of Saturday morning.
Election results as of Saturday morning.

This is the week we thought we would be celebrating the election of our first woman president. A week when we could finally put this repulsive presidential campaign behind us. A week when we could tell our children that the American people hold themselves to a high standard, are welcoming toward immigrants, stand up for women’s rights, defend the religious freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, etc., etc., etc.

I have alternately felt shock, grief, and anger in the days since, but my overwhelming feeling every morning, as the reality dawns on me again, is shame. I am ashamed of my country and I’m ashamed of myself (for being party to this debacle, for being so naive as to think it was impossible, for drifting so far from so many other Americans, for having enough privilege that the storm will likely leave me unscathed). I know these aren’t particularly productive emotions. My fundamental optimism will reassert itself in time. I’ll be reinvigorated to continue my work as a passionate educator, believing, like Jefferson, that an educated citizenry is our best hope.

But for now, I’m profoundly sad.

How long will my daughter have to wait?
How long will my daughter have to wait?