Archive for the 'Children’s books' Category

Airplane Cry

February 11, 2011

Andrew Hicks

After four days of being late with my posts, I’m finally caught up. I can write in first-person present tense again. Which is a comfy-cozy feeling.

I stepped outside to take the trash out this morning and noticed it was a pretty decent, sunny day. Right now, 34 feels terrific, because it’s thirty more degrees than 4. So I stood out there for a minute and heard, over my shoulder, a crazy, demonic baby shriek. It was the craziest thing for a second, until I figured out it was just the noise of an airplane flying overhead. Good thing, too. I don’t think I’m ready to deal with Silas bursting into an Airplane Cry.

One of the grandparents gave Sarah a heavy hardcover book (it has not been dropped on any of my toes — yet) with classic, public-domain children’s stories in it. Most of which I’ve never heard of. Sarah always brings it over and acts excited for me to read it, but in seconds she’s bored to tears.

One story hinged on a character drinking some Irish coffee, and I was reading to Sarah while she was watching Baby Beethoven. So after she said, “What’s that?” and I noticed she was asking about a watermelon on the screen, I quickly realized I could explain the ins and outs of an Irish coffee to my kid but couldn’t accurately state just how a watermelon grows and ripens.

To sum up: Watermelon = research necessary. Irish coffee = no research necessary.

I just pigged out on cottage cheese, applesauce and grapes. What am I, five?


Our post on January 30 (“Penguin’s balls“) incorrectly stated the number of balls inside the inflated plastic penguin as 4. (Two pair.) There are actually only 3 balls inside the penguin, as the picture next to the blog text clearly shows. (One-and-a-half pair.) Dad’s Daytime Diary regrets the error.


Milk-chunk vomit

January 4, 2011

Andrew Hicks

My family has been fortunate enough to be in good health in our journey thus far. The ankle break incident was my first time as an overnight hospital inpatient since I was a newborn. Before that, I had two in-and-out admissions for stitches on accidental cuts, and I broke a metatarsal in my foot when I was 10. No disabilities, no congenital conditions, no allergies, none of that.*

My wife Tiffany has had basically the same clean track record. She had an ovary removed in 2003 after years of unsuccessful attempts with her first husband to get pregnant** again. And my kids have fared well so far — Silas has had a couple cry-all-night episodes where whatever was bothering him quickly went away, and Sarah has been healthy and happy aside from contracting RSV*** from one of the other daycare babies when she was 2 months old.

So it was a surprise to me to have Sarah bound into my room and wake me up at 3:30 this morning with wet hair and a new sleeper on. I’d only been in bed for about an hour, just long enough to enter that stage of REM sleep where “Shiny Happy People” starts playing in your head.

Tiffany told me Sarah had woken her up screaming, and when she went into Sarah’s room, Sarah and the bed were covered in congealed milk-chunk vomit. If you’ve ever accidentally left a half-consumed baby bottle in the car for a week, then opened the top and dumped out the contents, you can visualize the consistency. If you’ve ever handled uncooked cubes of tofu, your mental picture is even more three-dimensional.

Sarah, for being sick, was one happy little girl. She wanted to read books, play with toys and jump up and down on the bed. I wanted her to lay down next to me and fall asleep so I could go back to being a shiny, happy, unconscious person. I got her back into her own bed pretty quickly, but minutes later, followed the unpleasant noise into her room and found she’d puke-soiled her second outfit and batch of clean sheets with more tofu-milk chunks.

We were up another couple hours after that time, and there was more throwing up and dry heaving. She wasn’t holding down water or ice chips. Tiffany took off a half-day from work, and there were fleeting moments, maybe up to an hour, were everybody got some sleep. It was the first time Sarah slept in bed between mommy and daddy, which was super cute and sweet, etc. but isn’t a habit I want her to get into.

Sarah shows signs of being better now. And the upswing of this is, with the lack of rest from last night, she’ll most likely go to bed early and sleep the length of a waking day. Give dad a little break. It’s also, as a layparent, assuring to see her symptoms get better, not worse. The general health of my family and myself is something I mostly take for granted as a given, but the occasional brief reminder pops up to make me give thanks for the basics.

*Okay, I am known to chronically reach for the easy joke, but I’m turning that experience into a positive by authoring a cautionary children’s book called Andrew and the Low-Hanging Fruit.

**The missing ingredient from that equation? My single-ovary-shattering super sperm.

***Previously, as a church kid, I’d only known the letters RSV to signify the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. You know, the one that changed “Jesus wept” to “Jesus sniffled and cried a lil’ bit.”


Sarah and Grandma Ginny greet newborn Silas in the hospital.

“Who’s this?” “Iola.”

December 7, 2010

Andrew Hicks

2-year-old Sarah has reached the point where, if I name every character and object on the inside flap of her Sesame Street books, she can point it out from the lineup. It’s like a 20-person Hollywood Squares amalgam of the usual PBS Muppets – Cookie Monster, Bert, Big Bird – plus A-listers of the toddler vocabulary like book, shoes, truck, flower, etc. Sarah has it down pat. There’s nowhere to go but up for this girl. Tomorrow we start studying my framed print of the cast of “Mama’s Family” from the 1989-90 season. Which was a very good year for Mama and the family.

ME: Who’s this?
SARAH: Vinton
ME: And who’s this?
SARAH: Iola.
ME: And who’s this?
SARAH: Naomi. Trashy.
ME: Where’d you learn that word?

She’s getting really good at naming and pointing to parts of the face and upper body, too. Hair, teeth, eyebrows, forehead. She counted ten noses on me this morning. This little girl thinks way-y-y-y outside the box. As my Facebook buddy Open Mike remarked, “To quote the over-quoted old lady from the diner scene in When Harry Met Sally, ‘I’ll have what she’s having.'”

Sarah’s speech patterns are progressing at an ever-quicker rate, too. She’s stringing together short sentences and listening a lot better to what her mom and I tell her. We’re at a ratio now of probably three real words to every gibberish word. Sometimes what’s what is a kind of toss-up.

Like, either I was having problems understanding her earlier today, or my 2 year old’s new favorite person to talk about is Sanjay Gupta. I tried to put her reference in context: “You mean Sanjay Gupta the renowned neurosurgeon and CNN correspondent who writes those delightful but insightful medical features in Parade magazine?”

She said, “Kipper? More Kipper? More Kipper? Kipper, daddy?”


Sarah pauses before opening birthday presents earlier this month.

Mr Mom, meet Mrs Donkey

November 8, 2010

Andrew Hicks

The babies and I have been back home for a week and a half, and it’s wake-to-sleep childcare, house chores and writing for me, with some lazy patches in the middle. I’m enjoying it, and the days when I wasn’t surrounded by my tiny progeny seem distant already. Silas is a calm, sweet-natured baby with occasional fussy times. Sarah is an adorable, curious little chatterbox who is almost always amused, loving or both.

Lately, Sarah’s been really cracking me up, too. She grabbed one of her favorite books, opened it up and pretended to read, “One time, there was a story. The end,” and closed the book. I’ve since made those eight great words into a catchy Nate Dogg chorus. Ask me to acapella it if you ever run into me at Karaoke by Kris in the bowling alley lounge.

Another hilarious Sarah exchange came just after she’d woken up, bright-eyed from a good night’s sleep, and was lowered into her highchair to eat some breakfast. She stretched out her arms, threw her head back and announced, pseudo-dramatically, “Sooo tired.” I replied as if she was being silly: “You are not,” and she insisted, “Am!” Does Reader’s Digest still pay people like $300 for Very Cute Little Kid jokes? I admit, I used to love all the Reader’s Digest domestic niche-joke columns: “Humor in Uniform,” “Life in These United States,” “My Time in Juvey,” etc.

Fictional armchair philosopher and ADD sufferer Jerry Maguire would insist that we live in a cynical world, but it really doesn’t seem like it when I spend an unseasonably warm fall afternoon hanging out in my big backyard with my little play-buddy. Stuff like that truly is “what it’s all about,” even more so than the Hokey Pokey. My heart melts when Sarah excitedly calls out “Daddy! Daddy!” Although, I admit, sometimes I’ve already heard “Daddy! Daddy!” a hundred times in the last ten minutes, and I start to wonder where Mommy! Mommy! is hiding herself.

More than anything lately, Sarah likes to sit in my lap and have me read her books. Sarah’s current favorite little-kid book is called Mother, Mother, I Want Another. Very basic, intriguing little plot for a toddler. Baby Mouse is put to bed and, as mom’s leaving him to sleep, he asks mom, “Can I have another, mother?” Mrs. Mouse freaks out: “What? You want another mother?! Whatever will I do?”

Mayhem ensues as Mrs. Mouse dashes off to grab, one at a time, Mrs. Duck, Mrs. Frog, Mrs. Pig and Mrs. Donkey, and they all sing lullabies to Baby Mouse. Finally, Baby Mouse explains that their lullabies were great and all, but he really just wanted another kiss from his mother. Ohhhhhh… all the Mrs. Animals say, and they all realized they were yanked away from their families for a completely false emergency. Baby Mouse should’ve spoken his ass up sooner.

Good lessons here: Misunderstandings are a waste of time, clear communication is necessary, and damn, does Mrs. Donkey have some bad breath.  Sarah right now likes MMIWA at least as much as famed film critic Pauline Kael enjoyed Chinatown, “with its beautifully structured script and draggy, overdeliberate direction.”

Sarah subscribes to an activities magazine for preschool kids. It transfixes her even though she has no clue yet how to play the counting games and run her little crayon through the mazes. Her favorite thing to stop, point and shriek at is the tiny cover art of some PBS semi-all-star Christmas DVD they’re shilling in an ad. This particular picture, like an inch tall, is buried among lots of other visual noise, but Sarah is repeatedly drawn straight to it. And she’s always excited to point to the mini-image of each little kid mascot when I ask, “Which one’s Thomas the Train? Which one’s Barney? Which one’s Fireman Sam?”

Sarah’s good at pointing to those little head-and-shoulder shots of popular children’s characters that sometimes appear on the front and back inside covers of kid books. And she’s pretty accurate at identifying the purple horse, black sheep and white dog in the sophisticated children’s masterpiece Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Sarah right now likes BBBBWDYS as much as Roger Ebert hated Mad Dog Time. “Watching it,” declared Rog, “is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line.”

Single me would bitch-slap married me for spending 800 words on the redemptive beauty of being around my children. I’ve already been accused of selling out, although to me the key component of selling out involves receiving money. Maybe I’m selling out on consignment. I should ask Mrs. Donkey what she thinks… What? Oh, Pauline. Her name is Pauline, not Mrs. Donkey. I always forget.


Sarah swings.