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.
Earlier this evening we wrapped up a delicious celebratory dinner at Punch Pizza, one of our favorite neighborhood pizzerias, and were enjoying the delicious complimentary candies that come with the check. While walking back to the car, tragedy strikes: Maggie’s candy falls out of her mouth onto the grimy pavement. There’s no way out of this one—it’s well-past bedtime—she’s going to melt down completely. Sarah and I prepare ourselves to deliver platitudes about life and loss while whisking everyone home as quickly as possible. Maggie’s first wail, however, is interrupted as Griffin simply snaps his piece of candy in half and hands her one gooey piece. Her face lights up as she pops it into her mouth and says in a quiet, quavering voice, “Thank you, Griffin.”
Maggie started showing interest in her balance bike at the end of February, and by the time her birthday loomed near at the beginning of April, it was clear she would probably be ready for a bike with pedals this summer! She’s much smaller than Griffin was when he started on a pedal bike, so I hunted down a smaller version and we gave it to her on Sunday for her birthday. She was beyond excited to try it! However, it was raining pretty hard all day that day, and even into the morning on Monday. She begged me to let her try it, but knowing there would inevitably be some spills, I told her we needed to wait until it stopped raining.
Well, Monday afternoon it stopped raining, and she was raring to go! I wasn’t sure how it would go for her, but low and behold, on one of her first tries, she took off! I pulled my phone out and grabbed some video. We spent the rest of the day touring the neighborhood with her practicing her new pedal bike. She’s hooked and asks to ride it at every opportunity now! It’s pretty amazing, and such a testament to the balance bike.
I hope you enjoy these short videos of her first rides!
This morning, per her Wednesday custom, Sarah went to an outdoor workout in the pre-sunrise Minnesota air. (Blizzard last night? Pshaw.) But this post isn’t about Sarah’s well-known bad-assery. Just setting the scene: I’m solo dad.
So at 6:30, I’m down in the kitchen, making my breakfast, steeling myself to shovel the walk and trudge through the very deep snow to school. Griffin comes down earlier than usual — fully dressed — excited for a snow day. (His school was cancelled. Mine was not.) He settles down at the art table to paint some volcanos. Maggie comes padding into the kitchen, bleary-eyed, and croaks, “Where’s Mama?”
I remind her that Mama vanishes on Wednesday morning. She looks sad and cold, and may burst out crying at any moment. Griffin sees this and says, “Maggie, would you like to paint with me at the art table?” Maggie looks up, but shakes her head… not interested. Griffin’s shoulder’s slump, but then he takes a deep breath, and says, “Ok. Would you like me to read a book to you on the couch?” Maggie considers this for a moment, and slowly nods her head. Moments later, they are snuggled up on the couch reading a book together. And my heart is bursting.
Maggie is a verbal kid, talking pretty much all the time. She’s generally an effective communicator, conveying her points successfully, even if she doesn’t ultimately get what she wants. (So many foiled plans, resulting in extravagant drama.)
One quirk of language with her recently is that she has trouble with words relating to the past and future, especially today, yesterday, and tomorrow. She knows what they mean, and can use them in sentences, but she seems bothered by their fluidity: tomorrow becomes today becomes yesterday. To get around this, she’s taken to a using the phrase “this day” to indicate today. Then she adds events with before or after until she clarifies what she means.
Here’s an example that we just heard in the car—she’s excited about her grandparents’ visit tomorrow:
“Mama, this day, after we sleep and wake up, is it grandma and grandpa day?”
No reason to share this other than that Sarah and I think it is unbearably cute, and we know it will fade away in time and we’ll never quite remember how she worded it.
Update: I’ve since been listening to Maggie using this construction and noticed that she also has an alternative to the word yesterday: “last day.” She might say, for example, “Daddy, last day, did you go to school?”
At dinner tonight, hours before Griffin’s 6th birthday, Sarah inaugurated the event by telling Griffin the story of his birth. (If you need a refresher, see one of our earliest posts on this blog: Birth Story.) It began with us simply reminiscing about what we were up to six years ago: watching Watchmen at the Grand Lake, wondering how the incredibly loud soundtrack would affect the as yet unnamed baby, hoping it might encourage him to come out. Sarah so uncomfortable at bedtime that she needed the bedroom to herself. Me reading A Midwife’s Tale on the couch. Both of us eager to meet Griffin.
As I listened to her retelling the story, I felt like I had slipped into the movie version of our lives. Of course it was real life, so there were plenty of un-cinematic interruptions, but fundamentally Griffin was mesmerized, and the whole experience felt exactly right. He asked questions, filled in details that he remembered from past conversations, and wanted to hear the story to the very end. He laughed in disbelief when I described seeing his crowning head, and then how he refused to proceed any further for hours.
When Sarah wrapped up, Maggie demanded, “Mama tell MY story!” Sarah told her she’d just have to wait for her birthday.
A week before heading up to the cabin, Griffin and I walked to our local comic shop to pick up a new graphic novel (he chose Journey to the Center of the Earth). While browsing, I noticed that the latest (fifth) edition of Dungeons and Dragons was out. I couldn’t resist picking up the Player’s Handbook and the introductory boxed set. I wanted to read over the new rules, and I rationalized that I’d use them when the D&D activity gets going again at my school this winter. (Also, the fourth edition was garbage, so I hoped the fifth would do better.) Of course I didn’t have time to read them during the week, so I tossed them into my reading bag for the cabin. It wasn’t until we got there that it occurred to me that Griffin might be old enough to get into it. Sarah was game, so after our hike on Saturday, I opened the boxed set and had them choose from the five pre-generated characters. For posterity, here’s the group for our first ever family D&D game:
- Griffin played an elf wizard named… Griffin!
- Sarah played a halfling rogue named Sarafina.
- Maggie played a human fighter named Maggie. (Armed with a two-handed sword, no less.)
- Andrew, besides being the dungeon master, played a dwarf cleric named Amber. (Those who gamed with me in ages past may recall my appreciation for dwarf clerics.)
A bunch of goblins, some wolves, and a bugbear later and everyone gained a level. Griffin’s first request when we got home was, “Can we play some more D&D today?” (The answer was no, but the request warmed my heart.)
It was neat seeing how Griffin’s five-year-old mind grappled with the complexities of the game. His favorite part was definitely rolling the dice: at one point the group rescued a kidnapped knight and he offered to tell the story of his capture; Griffin responded with, “Can I roll the 20-sided die?” But he definitely followed the story, and has a remarkable memory for detail. He instantly grasped some fairly complicated mechanics around how often he can cast his spells, and a week later he can explain the overall quest and the names of the characters and places in the story. (Including a number of details that I had forgotten!)
Maggie, naturally, had only a loose grasp of things, but also enjoyed rolling the dice and paging through the rulebooks to see the pictures.
With Sarah gone this weekend, we haven’t had a chance for a followup game, but this adds a great new activity to our family menu, especially when the snows blow in. (I always hear Ned Stark… “Winter is coming…”)
Oh, and in case any gamers stumble on this post, my first impression of 5th edition is overwhelmingly positive. The core rules are elegant with an emphasis on flexibility, role-playing, and imaginative fun. The writers captured the spirit of what made the original AD&D so compelling, while streamlining the rules and updating them for the current generation.
After our glorious summer, the school year feels like we’re barely hanging on to a runaway train. On Friday, we fled the crazy for another taste of summer (with a dash of autumn).
The yellow cabin delivered big time. Not only was the weather outstanding, but the kids were 100% engaged, hiking with gusto, begging to get out on the water in the kayaks, and playing together relatively peacefully during down time. We also enjoyed some unexpected firsts: Griffin’s first time fishing, and our first family D&D game (more on that in an upcoming post). It felt like we were away for far longer than a weekend.
Enjoy the gallery below. Remember, they look best if you click on one to engage the full-screen slide show. (Also, don’t miss the postscript below for a glimpse backstage.)
PS: The last picture looks idyllic, and it was, but the picture misses a few telling details. As I floated in my kayak, taking in the stunning colors, Griffin, far behind me in the center of the lake, decided to start playing “echo” across the water. The echoes were, indeed, spectacular, so he proceeded to yell louder and louder, until his tremendous battle cries reverberated across the lake, drowning out all other sound. He was far enough away, and focused enough on his bellowing, that he couldn’t hear our fierce, whisper-shouted admonishments to cool it. As he continued ramping up, I wondered if any of our well-armed neighbors would take things into their own hands. Fortunately, and I’m not naming names, one of us channeled the voice of Thor, delivering the following carefully considered advice at 150 decibels:
“GRIFFIN . . . SHUT . . . UP!!!!”
As the echoes faded, we were aware that this sonic event was not only permanently etched into the minds of the Spring Lake community, but that scientists of the future will be able to see evidence of the interchange in tree rings and sediment cores.
Yup. That’s how it’s done at the Yellow Cabin.
Griffin, much occupied with career thoughts these days, is now considering the world of fashion design. Two hours before attending a wedding yesterday, I went into my closet where I had set aside my best summery linen shirt for the occasion. Griffin, attempting to reboot my wardrobe, had made some alterations.
Note the asymmetrical slashing—very fashion forward. Worried that I might fall back on other shirts, he proceeded through ten shirts with a similarly whimsical Jack-the-Ripper mystique. These were, in fact, my ten best shirts; I had put them at the front of the rack as I considered which shirt to wear to the wedding. (And, my wardrobe does not overflow with wedding garb.) Griffin astutely ignored the oversize denim and flannel, the maroon corduroy, the checkered seersucker, the ink-stained taupe, and any shirts missing buttons. Luckily for the bride and groom, my little fashionista missed a duplicate oxford at the far end of the rack, so I was able to attend the wedding in something other than my Republicans for Voldemort t-shirt.
Time to go shopping. And lock up the scissors.