The Christmas Letter

The First Annu­al1 Christ­mas let­ter. I assume we are all Chris­tians here, if not Catholics, but I just don’t want to miss say­ing to “hap­py Kwan­zaa, Hanukkah, Hap­py ‘Īd ul-’Aḍḥā’.”


The dogs Nigel, Kar­ma and Bel­la2 and the cat Mag­gie have final­ly got­ten used to Macon­nell but are still wary of Scar­lett, espe­cial­ly when she grabs their noses, which tends to hap­pen a lot when she is in her high­chair eat­ing and the dogs will come by, sniff­ing to see what she has dropped, or as more often is the case, what she is hold­ing out to the dogs so that they come close enough for her to grab onto their noses. Because we know this and we know the dogs know this, we have to shoo the dogs out of the liv­ing room so that Scar­lett can focus and eat her food.


Scarlett—as you are all have noticed by now—eats. She is in con­stant food retrieval and dis­pos­al mode, and if you refuse her food, she will let you have with some seri­ous pierc­ing screams of annoy­ance: Do. Not. Mess. With. Her. Food. I think she needs all this food to just keep up with her con­stant squirm­ing. I have spent sev­er­al days just doc­u­ment­ing the fact that she does not stop moving—ever.
As for her abil­i­ty to walk, we were off on that one. We thought sure­ly by Thanks­giv­ing she would be tak­ing a few inde­pen­dent steps3 but for now4 she just hangs on the fur­ni­ture and kind of falls for­ward, not resem­bling walk­ing so much but evok­ing ten­ta­tive zom­bie stag­ger steps. Crawl­ing as you know, she has down; she’s fast and con­stant­ly under­foot. I final­ly under­stand why Jenn wants Scar­lett to start wak­ing: It will slow her down. As for cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment, Scar­lett under­stands that mean­ing of “No.” Of course, she also under­stands that she is too young to under­stand this con­cept, and so will hes­i­tate for about a sec­ond after she is told “No,” before she quick­ly plops anoth­er found object into her mouth.


Macon­nell has also improved his loco­mo­tive abil­i­ties. He is start­ing to build up speed to where he is almost run­ning, he isn’t quite lift­ing his knees high enough, but his legs are start­ing to glide a bit bet­ter and his feet are start­ing to bounce more and his tran­si­tion from step to step is quick­er and on occa­sion he seems to be almost running—i need to find the right words—but as he picks up speed he seems to teeter more and more but no longer falls head long for­ward and bites it, like he use to. He also almost knows the fun­da­men­tal issues involved in oper­at­ing a truck: He knows where the keys go and to turn them, he under­stands he needs to down­shift into dri­ve, he under­stands the wheel turns the truck left and right. I have per­son­al­ly seen him demand the keys and head off to the truck ready to go bog­gin.5 Note I have notes about him that I am still work­ing on and intend to put up soon.

Other News

What else, while we did not remod­el the house on the lev­el of my dad, we paint­ed the house a wasabi green. We also paint­ed the chim­ney red, but from across the street it looked like a blood­ied shiv stick­ing out of the roof, so we had to go back and paint it black. We also ripped out sev­er­al trees and weeds in the front yard, and now have a per­fect view of our neigh­bor’s dilap­i­dat­ed hov­el which was quite excit­ing to real­ize after all that hard work and mon­ey was spent.

Death of a Truck.

I got a new truck, no name for it yet though. Sev­er­al months ago, my beloved Ford F‑100 Ranger “Boce­phus” was rear-end­ed and so after much thought, we trad­ed in my WRX Sub­aru and got a bright blue Toy­ota Taco­ma. I sup­pose it’s exact­ly what I’ve want­ed and, if need be, can cross the coastal range in four-wheel dri­ve via the log­ging roads, the kids in the back of the super-crew cab and the dogs safe in the truck bed, cov­ered and pro­tect­ed by a canopy.6 How­ev­er use­ful the truck will turn out to be, it can­not com­pare to Mr.Whitman’s Mini-Coop­er which just brings out all sorts of envy in me.

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  1. this is not actu­al­ly true since this is the first let­ter, but I hope to make it an annu­al event []
  2. named after Flav­ius Belis­ar­ius [505? – 565] is often described as one of the great­est gen­er­als of the Byzan­tine Empire; he helped Emper­or Jus­tin­ian recon­quer much of the West­ern Roman Empire []
  3. This morn­ing dec 11, 2008 she man­aged I think to take one step but quick­ly sat down. Dec 14th at 4pm, she took 3 suc­ces­sive steps before tak­ing anoth­er nose­dive. Dec 15th, at 6:30pm she took two steps before face­plant­i­ng. Each crash quick­ly fol­lowed by peels of frus­tra­tions that just have to be heard to be believed: This is a lit­tle seri­ous girl who is going to get her way. []
  4. Now being when I start­ed writ­ing this on Dec 7th. []
  5. This four-wheel­ing in mud pits for you Mid-West­ern­ers. Think of an out­door Mon­ster Truck Ral­ly track about 15 min­utes from our house out in War­ren­ton. []
  6. Again high­ly use­ful if dri­ving through zom­bie infest­ed woods. []

Blowing our minds, she does.

2008-10-01 7:30pm

Just so you know, we saw Scar­lett climb up a flight of very tall stair steps and we all kind of just stared, mouths open, stunned;1 it had the same effect on us as see­ing a dog sud­den­ly get up on its rear legs and talk.

  1. We were qui­et and did­n’t want to star­tle her and have her real­ize that she was doing some­thing impos­si­ble and sud­den­ly decide to tum­ble down the long set of stairs. []

The Mysterious Case of Kirsten and Scarlett

Sept 30, 2008 6:09 PM

For the past few months, mul­ti­ple mem­bers of the fam­i­ly have noticed the star­tling­ly sim­i­lar appear­ance of Kirsten and Scar­lett.1,2 They both seem to be devel­op­ing at prodi­gious rates that just leave their sib­ling in the dust. Dad said, “They both have legs that could sup­port ele­phants.” We are pret­ty sure this was meant as a com­pli­ment but you won’t hear me say­ing that to any­body over age two.

So the ques­tions becomes is this the “Arnaez” look, and can we say that their speed of devel­op­ment is due to some “Arnaez” gene?3 Or is it that they are females and Arnaez. There is some­thing very inter­est­ing going on in these two. There are a cou­ple of pic­tures of them both star­ing direct­ly into the cam­era and an expres­sion that could be read as “Real­ly? Youse tak­ing my pic­ture?” — It’s a wiseguy look, com­ing from these baby girls.4

I thought Macon­nel, when he was 3 or 4 months old, looked like Ivan, espe­cial­ly when Mac got mad and turned beet red. Now I keep think­ing Scar­lett looks like Ivan too and I won­der if that what an “Arnaez” looks like.5

As for the Mac update, today when I got home from work, I walked into the liv­ing room and Mac was sit­ting in a chair, sort of bounc­ing up and down, and was singing the “ABC song (won’t you sing with me.)” He has a low, almost com­i­cal­ly low, singing voice for a lit­tle boy,6 and while I’m sure he sort of under­stands what count­ing is: He will count his cook­ies, his grapes, the fresh black­ber­ries that are just ripen­ing7 and the steps as he walks down them; I don’t think he con­cep­tu­al­ly gets the alpha­bet in any mean­ing­ful way, but heck he has to start some­where.

  1. I keep think­ing they look like Ivan. []
  2. I was going to post the pic­ture, but I sus­pect both Lau­ra and Jenn would have some seri­ous objec­tions. I’ll email you the pic­ture if you like — just let me know. []
  3. It is at this point that Jenn will like to point out my essen­tial­ly epis­te­mo­log­i­cal­ly solip­sis­tic phi­los­o­phy or as she puts it: “Ego­cen­tric.” []
  4. I won­der, if like Scar­lett, Kirsten has start­ed say­ing, “Da-da” at a very ear­ly age and pret­ty much con­quered any sort of inde­pen­dent will that said Dad had. Per­haps mine only last­ed a few min­utes, and was quick­ly wiped away, know­ing that this is a very lit­tle girl, and I am her dad. []
  5. So then I start think­ing and won­der­ing well if Ivan looks like an “Arnaez”, what do I look like? I sus­pect I look like my mom’s dad, but I’m not sure. []
  6. I final­ly got it on tape []
  7. We had a scare recent­ly when I unwise­ly intro­duced him to the con­cept that he could eat berries. We spent the morn­ing pick­ing black­ber­ries and eat­ing them, and even­tu­al­ly we ran out of pick­able berries, so I turned around to head home, but Mac found anoth­er set of red berries, lat­er iden­ti­fied as Rock­spray Cotoneast­er, and pro­ceed­ed to start eat­ing them. Any­way, we called poi­son con­trol and they men­tioned they con­tained cyanide and we would need to watch Mac for any signs of sleepi­ness. I’m still kick­ing myself think­ing that Mac would be able to tell the dif­fer­ence between Cotoneast­er hor­i­zon­tal­is and the Himalayan Black­ber­ry:Rubus arme­ni­a­cusn

    But as Rousseau said:

    S’il tombe, s’il se fait une bosse à la tête, s’il saigne du nez, s’il se coupe les doigts, au lieu de m’empresser autour de lui d’un air alar­mé, je resterai tran­quille, au moins pour un peu de temps.


    If he should fall or bump his head or make his nose bleed or cut his fin­gers, instead of rush­ing to him with an with an expres­sion of alarm I will stay calm, at least at first.

    Émile, ou De l’éducation — Livre sec­ond