Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gabriel's Halloween costume

Last week was Gabriel's first Halloween in costume. He selected a rocket-ship costume at Target. A great selection because it matches his recent (well, a few months ago) interest in the space shuttle and NASA more generally. Ran around shouting "3-2-1 blastoff!" about as discreetly as one could hope for from a three-year-old, and mostly just seemed pleased to be wearing the costume.
In the attached picture, he's checking out the pace of construction at a construction site down the alley from our house-- an 8-story condo building scheduled for completion next summer. We've been stopping by every other day for the last few months.
On Halloween itself, we went to 4 neighborhood houses of folks that we knew, trying to reinforce a completely erroneous view of what kids do on that night. (That is, I want him to think that we visit a few friends and exchange gifts, not that he's meant to grab a garbage bag and demand loot from every house within a square mile.) He seemed pleased with the take, which was maybe 6 pieces of candy, and has been working his way through it at the rate of one piece a day. The crisis would be completely past but for the fact that we've got a mess of leftover Halloween candy of our own left over that didn't get distributed that night.
Our experience in handing out candy this year was very similar to past years-- starting at 6 PM, a trickle of young kids, usually in costume, accompanied by parents, and then a wave of older kids starting at 8 PM or so, usually with no costume and usually ignoring our instructions to limit themselves to two candies.
I may be imagining it, but it sure seems to me that you can see a behavioral difference even after one piece of candy. G seems more hyper, a bit less rational, and definitely less ready to be in bed at the scheduled 8-o-clock time. So we'll be happy when the candy season ends.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A glimpse of the teenager to come

At three-and-a-half years (give or take), Gabriel is still blessedly in daily-nap land. On weekends, you can pretty much count on him to go down at 2 PM and sleep until 4:30, sometimes later. (Weekdays at Mundo Verde, my understanding is that they schedule between 1 and 1.5 hours, and that many (including Gabriel) don't really sleep during this time.)

But every few days now, the scheduled nap doesn't happen, usually because we've got an unusually busy travel schedule. The embedded picture shows a tall tree falling hard after an afternoon birthday party. He was conked out on the couch, lights on, shoes on, for at least half an hour in this pose.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

After-school snack

Post-school, Gabriel and I will sometimes walk by Locolat, a local Belgian bakery, if we're headed to the playground at Marie Reed in Adams Morgan, and grab a pain au chocolat to eat on a bench. Here he manages to look thoughtful even with melted chocolate dribbling down his chin.

My boy likes croissants.

He is also becoming more open to meeting new kids. This is especially the case when, as is usually the case at Marie Reed, there is only one other family unit of kids at the playground. He will always sidle over to see what's going on. Seems especially interested when it's older kids, and they create their own games. Last time he was a tiger and the boy he was playing with was a shark-- before that, he played with a kangaroo and he was a rabbit (the games focused on jumping that day).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pizza at the library

So, here's a sign that you're a bad parent: your kid associates libraries not with books but with pizza.
Vace Pizza was a family favorite long before Gabriel came along, and we've indoctrinated him to its joys as well. It's in Cleveland Park, which means it's one of maybe 3 reasons we ever use our car (the others being visits to Grandma in College Park, and trips to the beach).
It also happens to be across Connecticut Avenue from the Cleveland Park branch of the DC Public Library. And so now, even if we have no intention of actually going in the library, no trip to pick up Vace pizza is complete unless we have a little picnic on a bench outside the library to have a slice. This is something he insists on in virtually any weather. As it happens, the embedded picture is from a beautiful early-autumn afternoon visit to the neighborhood. And it's certainly not a book that is putting that smile on his face.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Pretty Good Day

Pretty safe to say that riding a big orange tractor is gonna be high on Gabriel's career highlights list for some time. This is from an August visit to Grandma Gardner. Grandma, amazingly doing chores at 94, is in the background.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Oops- forgot a year.

So it's been a year since we've documented Gabriel's exploits here. A bad thing, but also an indicator that we really love spending as much time doing things with Gabriel as possible-- and that doesn't leave a lot of time for documenting things.

In two days, G will be three years old. We'll have a small morning party at preschool with Dagim friends and Grandma Jan, who's in town for the week.

I keep waiting for indications of the "Terrible twos," and of course we're running out of time. The most unpleasant thing he typically does is holding a grudge against mama when she goes on a work trip. Last trip, Alison came home late at night and went in his bedroom to greet him when he woke the next morning and got "go away" as a response. This fades immediately, but is still no fun for her.

He's forming longer and longer sentences every day, usually indicating a detailed plan of action: "go to preschool with Dada and Mama and go to the park and take a nap and go to the firehouse."

He likes having a "dance party," which means we put "C is for Cookie" on the stereo, pull all the sheets and pillows off our bed, and he jumps up and down naked on the bed.

He sings or hums songs unprompted, as part of his regular play routine. He'll be playing with cars by himself and will just start humming "Itsy Bitsy Spider," usually in a pretty consistent key.

He went through a Mary Poppins phase a few weeks ago, in which he really wanted to watch the entire movie on Alison's computer as much as possible. Long before he knew there was a movie, he loved the music. We haven't been encouraging the movie thing at all, and right now he's not even asking for it. So he's seeing very little in the way of movies/TV. No TV at all, really, except for the few episodes of Sesame Street I downloaded before our Cancun trip in February.

Typical day:
G wakes up between 6:30 and 7, calling "mama mama!" or less frequently "dada dada!"
If we try to put him down again, we get "I want to wake UP!"
Play downstairs until 8:50, when Gabriel walks to preschool on dad's shoulders. This is a 7-8 minute walk to 16th and P, and always a pleasurable one. When he's too big to travel this way (a day which maybe is quite close) or when we're no longer walking distance to school (at least a year away), I will miss this a lot.
G gets dropped off around 9. Preschool all day, with naptime from 12:30 to 3:30 or so.
I usually pick him up around 5:15 on average. Then we walk home on shoulders, or if he wants we walk to Stead Park to play first, or to a local restaurant for a snack.
If he hasn't eaten his lunch (which is common), he usually wants dinner by 6. Then if the weather's nice we'll take a walk around the neighborhood, most often to the construction site a block away.
Then a bath or shower at 7:30 (he currently prefers showers almost always, but we alternate), then we read a couple of books and to bed.
Bedtime remains 8:30 (ideal), slipping towards 9 sometimes if we have a good outdoor expedition after dinner.
The latest development post-bedtime is that he'll call out several times demanding milk, or water, or just to "make me cozy" by tucking him in.

Will try to be better about regular updates in this space.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mexico visit

Gabriel poses outside his favorite Club Med playground.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stating His Intentions

A very new development is that Gabriel can explain his needs/wants/intentions pretty clearly now. If he wants to read, he says "book." (He also said this when he just wants to delay naptime-- tonight, as I put him to bed far too late at 9 PM, even as I carried him to the crib he was pointing at the bookshelf saying "book!"

Not quite so new, but very predictable, is "juice." First thing he asks for every morning, after "mama." He gets a mix of OJ and water.
This is mildly worrisome because he seems about as dependent on this as part of his morning as we are on coffee.

In terms of word combinations, he's still working on two-word sentences. "Blue truck" remains ubiquitous, and it's a brush with which he tars too many things. Lots of red cars are being labelled "blue truck" by G. Sometimes he appears to be using it describe things that don't even have wheels, and that aren't blue at all. It's an argument we have a lot.

He's always spoken in sentences-- it's just that they're generally gibberish. But now he's getting closer. When he first wakes up, he expresses his desire to see Alison by saying "Na na MAMA." And pointing me to the bedroom.

When Alison was in San Francisco without us last week, the first morning he made that request and of course I had to bring him into an empty bedroom. He wasn't happy about that at all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Roosevelt Island

Home with Gabriel this afternoon: we took a bike expedition to Roosevelt Island, on the Virginia side of the Potomac. This is a small island nestled between two fairly busy roads, I-66 as it crosses the Potomac and the G-W Parkway in Rosslyn. And it's directly in the last stages of the flightpath into National Airport. But the island itself is unspoiled, in that swampy way that much of the Potomac banks seem to be. And there's a very nice bike path that gets you there. You can hop on a path at the front of the Kennedy Center and be safe as houses until you reach the Island-- where you have to leave bicycles on the mainland and walk across.

Gabriel didn't seem especially impressed. The statue of Roosevelt, which has a bit of socialist realism to it, seemed to scare him a bit, and he wasn't so interested in walking around.
But he really does enjoy being in the bicycle. I have to be careful about leaving his bicycle trailer too prominently in the backyard, because he'll sometimes insist on going for a ride.

On the way home we stopped at a nice small park that I'd never seen before, at Virginia and 21st. We sat on the ground and ate his entire supply of edamame.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

More new words from Gabriel

Gabriel's now at a point where if you ask him to repeat a word, he will take a crack at it-- and will generally do pretty well. But it's quite different when you haven't solicited the word and he blurts it out in the proper context.
Examples from this evening:
1) "pizza." Gabriel and I rode our bike up to Cleveland Park to get pizza from Vace. I got a few slices; they put the slices in a paper bag and I threw the bag in the back of the Burley trailer, and we went home. When I got him inside the house, I asked Gabriel if he wanted dinner. He said "pizza" and nodded. He really likes pizza.
2) "paci" (short for pacifier). As I was taking him upstairs tonight to put on pajamas, we passed the kitchen island, and he pointed at something on it and said "paci". And he was pointing at his pacifier.
3) "bath". While tonight was scheduled bath night (every other day, is his current schedule), we got in late enough that i was ready to let it slide. But as I was taking off his clothes and his old diaper, getting set to put on the nighttime diaper and his pajamas, he got up and said "bath." And headed for the bathroom.
4) "milk". He's said it before, but tonight I asked him whether he wanted water or milk, and he emphatically said "milk."
This is a clever lesson Alison taught me, by the way-- when he's fixated on a thing he wants to do, that I don't want him to do (like staying outside in the front yard endlessly, as was the case tonight), you don't tell him he can't stay outside anymore. You ask him to choose between two different options, each of which preclude staying outside. Hence my milk v. water choice. And it worked great-- meltdown averted.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Richard Scarry, Hack Writer

It's got no plot. It's got recurring characters (namely "Goldbug") that are as cloying as the Brady Bunch's Oliver.
But it's got lots and lots of cars. So it's OK with Gabriel.

Richard Scarry's books seems a lot less compelling to me now than they did to me as a youngster, and "Cars and Trucks and Things that Go" is no exception. In the end, it's just a mechanism for learning what different kinds of internal combustion engines look like-- and most of them date to the 1970s anyway.

But Gabriel loves it, so it's OK.

This was his book du jour for a while, starting at the age of 18 months or so. It's no longer his first choice very frequently, but he still comes back to it.

And it's a hard one to show much sympathy for.

No More Sippy Cup?

There was a time when I laughed at people who said "sippy cup."
And that time may come again, as Gabriel now shows growing interest in drinking things our way-- from a glass.

Last week he drank successfully from a regular straw for the first time. This was at Open City Diner. He did it several times, and was so pleased each time that he smiled broadly. You can tell when he's pleased with himself, as opposed to just pleased.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pots and Pans

We moved back into our house on Labor Day 2009, and Gabriel warmed up to his new surroundings pretty quickly. But in a couple of areas, he seems to disapprove of the way we've arranged things. As you see here, it turns out that we arranged the pots and pans in a completely unsuitable way. Here he takes them all out and rearranges in his preferred way. He's done this half a dozen times, and always puts things back-- just in a different way.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Gabriel's latest word: "up."
Pronounced "up-ppp."
Heard tonight as I asked him where he'd like to go.
He was pleased.
Other words in his vocab so far, in rough order of acquisition:
1) "dada"
2) "mama"
3) "uh-oh"
4) "no"
5) "book"
6) ask him what a monkey says, and he hoots like a monkey. For my money, this is almost better than a word.
A smart kid. Waiting for him to learn "yes."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Next Jackson Pollock?

We now trust Gabriel with crayons.
This has worked out well so far, primarily because all he does with them is stand around naked and brood. Which is how a lot of the great artists start out, I think.

He seems interested in the different colors of the crayons, and likes to stockpile them in different places, but hasn't gotten into actually using them to draw yet.

A Stubborn Kid

At 18 months, Gabriel has learned the word "no."
Important to not quote him out of context, of course: the way he typically uses it is "nonononono."

Not at all clear where he picked this up, but he's getting pretty effective with it.

We're still not hearing a lot of actual words beyond this. "Book" every now and then, but that's about it. Lots of talk, but it's mostly gibberish to my ears.

What's on the Menu

Gabriel remains a healthy eater.
His favorites right now are tofu and edamame. Really. And these are pretty long-standing preferences.

These choices are redeemed by his very healthy attitude toward pizza-- I brought him a pie from Vace last week and he loved it.

Gabriel at the Museum

On a rainy Saturday in early December, we took Gabriel to the Museum of Natural History-- a place I haven't spent much time in since I was very young.
The animals all seemed smaller than I remember them being.

Gabriel wasn't especially impressed with the whale or the elephant at first sight, although he eventually took a shine to the elephant. The museum has a fair number of interactive exhibits for kids, and he obliged.

Friday, October 23, 2009

RIP, Jake

After ten and a half years, Jake left us today.
The picture at right is the pic with which he was advertised at the New York Avenue dog shelter where we found him in early 1999. He was a thin, quiet adult dog, an anomaly in a very noisy place. Terrible, terrible place to be, and he'd been there three weeks.
I knew he was the dog for me when I took him out to the shelter's fenced in yard, found a tennis ball and threw it across the yard-- and he brought it right back to me.
Even when his legs were pretty rickety this past summer, he still wanted to play catch at the beach. And until quite recently, he'd keep fetching the ball until he could barely walk anymore.
For years, whenever we'd walk down to the beach for the first time each day, he'd give this little whimper of anticipation as I pulled out the tennis ball. Really loved to chase the ball.
As a younger dog, he was capable of Willie Mays-style over-the-shoulder catches. Sometimes, I suspect, he would intentionally bounce the ball off his nose to get the rebound instead of catching it on the fly.
As good as he was with the ball (he was also fairly handy with sticks, but generally would sit down and eat them after bringing it back the first couple of times), he just never could figure out what to do with frisbees.
He was like a yoyo. You never had to worry about him running away. Would always come back, no matter how enticing the beach smells.
He also had the uncanny ability, at irregular intervals prompted by nothing specific that I could ever figure out, to give off a stench that was best described as rotting fish in a garbage bag. We'd kick him out of the room sometimes for this sin, as we also sometimes did for his farts. You'd immediately feel bad about having done so, but wow. You had to be there.
When he was especially happy, usually because he was welcoming someone home, he'd wag his tail in a beautiful, slightly askew circular motion. The "circle wag"-- as distinguished from the regular old side-to-side wag you typically saw-- was about as welcoming a sight as you could see.
He gave us a circle wag the day before he died, even though he could hardly stand.
We'll never know how much pain he was in the last few months. It was bone cancer, and the vet told us that this was a fairly painful thing. But I never, ever, even at the end, heard him whimper or cry from the pain.
The only evidence we saw was that for the last few months, after a couple of blocks he'd be ready to stop walking, and that for the last week he simply wouldn't put any weight on his back right paw.
The last couple of nights I carried him up and down from the second floor so he could sleep with us-- the few nights previous he'd stopped coming up.
Pretty much the entire last week, the only times he got up were to welcome people coming in the house or to take a leak.
A couple of times this week, we sat out on the front stoop and watched the world go by. used to do that a lot when he was healthy.
This afternoon, I came home from work to meet the vet at our house, and held Jake's head in my hands as the vet gave him anesthetic, then sodium pentathol. He took a while to respond to the anesthetic, maybe 15 minutes. Alison was holding him when he finally lost consciousness.

We both know there are a lot of shelter dogs that need homes, and Jake was always exhibit A for me in trying to convince people not to get puppies when they wanted a dog. So a shelter visit may be in our very near future. But I really just want Jake back, and right now I have trouble imagining having a different dog.

Rest in peace, old brown dog.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When Fashion Decisions Are Made By Dad get something like this:

A Country Dog

...not a city dog. Ticks aside, Jake had a great time wandering the back 40 at the Rein Hudson estate. He spent hours on end sitting by the river, watching things float past-- and always found a reason to jump in once a day or so.

Walden 3

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Nothing like a trip to the Hudson Valley to help you get back to nature...

Hudson Valley Visit, July 09

With mom and dad, Gabriel visited his New York grandparents for a few days at their country house in the Hudson Valley. While Dad was cycling in the Catskills, Gabriel was getting his hands (and knees) dirty in the back forty.

Don't Put Me In a Box, Man

Gabriel had fun with this the first time. The second time, claustrophobia (or ennui) took over.

Time for a Refill

At dinnertime, Gabriel doesn't particularly need a breather in between courses. In fact, he gets miffed almost immediately when the food runs out. Here he's just about to polish off the tofu (which, by the way, he eats like popcorn!).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


My kid's got 'em.

Gabriel With a Pearl Earring

On the Merry Go Round

In April (or thereabouts), Alison took Gabriel on the merry-go-round on the Mall. He was moderately amused, but the sound and lights were a bit much for him overall. Here, immediately post-ride, he takes stock of the experience. Taken on its own, his expression is sort of impassive. But by comparison to the expression of his mom, who clearly has lost none of her love for joyrides, it's clear that he's less than 100% on board with the whole experience.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Gabriel joined mom on a work trip to Denver in June. The jungle gyms are just as much fun out there, as this picture attests. Gabriel also visited the Denver Zoo with Aunt Nancy, but seemed less impressed.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hey Baby, Come On In!

Gabriel enjoys his new baby pool at the beach. While he wasn't too thrilled about being on the sand this visit--it was often pretty windy--he did have a great time at the house, and enjoyed his new jacuzzi too.

Gabriel Loves His Duck

It took about a year for Gabriel to start developing an attachment to stuffed animals, but now he's got two favorites. Here's one of them, his duck. A pre-birth gift from Carol Berkman-- his face lights up when he sees it, and he groks with the duck all the time.

Dribbling Cherry Juice

New clever eating trick: chew it up, then let it slowly dribble out of your mouth. Especially effective with brightly colored food like (in this case) cherries.
Gabriel's definitely enjoying the summer fruit season. He's a big fan of blueberries, cherries and watermelon. As can be seen in the picture, he doesn't allow his technicolor drool to take away his gravitas.

Sometimes There's No Caption

B/c I'm just looking for an excuse to post a picture of my son smiling. This is one of those times.

21st Century Gabriel

Following in the footsteps of his technophile cousin Max, Gabriel has discovered the joys of the remote control. While he hasn't yet learned the clever Max trick of stashing all the remote controls inside a VCR, it's clearly only a matter of time. The beach house is laden with orphan remote controls that don't control much of anything, so this was a good place for him to develop this attachment.
Beach guest roster, 6/09: Rachel Koop and Larry, Jim and Mary, Arthur Koop with kids Morgan and Lauren.

Books With Wheels

Possibly the greatest invention ever: books with wheels. While Gabriel isn't yet into cars, he's definitely into wheels, and things that spin more generally. Here he "reads" one of his new mobile books at the beach in North Carolina.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Rare Moment of Stillness

It's getting harder and harder to
get a decent picture of this kid-- always on the move. Here he sits still for the camera, if only for a moment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Drumming at the park

The new park at 16th and P, open since January, has been a wonderful thing for us all. I can look out my office window and see the kids playing there, and occasionally I look out and Gabriel's there. Here he plays the drums.

At the Sculpture Garden

A very composed Gabriel strikes a pose at the Sculpture Garden on the Mall. We haven't yet taken him inside any of the museums-- have chosen so far to show him the outdoor sights.

Like so many of the places DC has to offer, the sculpture garden will be a wonderful place to take the Goose once he's able to appreciate things a bit more. It's a wonderful city in which to be (and to raise) a child.

A Builder, or a Destroyer?

Early evidence points to "destroyer." Gabriel has developed a tendency of systematically dismantling things. Here he takes apart, one piece at a time, a stack of, well, stackable toys. His general approach upon discovering that his dad (or his grandma, whose handiwork is being taken apart in this picture) has built a stack is to start from the top, patiently tossing each piece over his shoulder using his left hand. He seems incapable of sitting in a room with a peacefully built stack-- feels compelled to disassemble it. I feel equally compelled to re-assemble. The battle of wits is ongoing.

Gabriel's 11 month birthday

We celebrated Gabriel's 11 month birthday with a trip to the Mall on a lovely April day-- walked down from our temporary 13th street digs. Gabriel went on the merry go round with Alison, who seemed much more into the whole thing than he did. Alison and Gabriel shared a bench with another parent and child. This was a difficult thing to photograph without blurriness, so you'll have to take my word that they actually got on the thing.

Climbing the Stairs

A new development since we've moved into our temporary 13th Street abode: Gabriel is climbing stairs. Frequently.

This started in early March, at the age of 10 months, with slow, deliberate, supported climbing up the carpeted steps of our apartment. He quickly became better at it, and now scoots up without even pausing, at least when he's had a good nap. Even after a few consecutive trips up the stairs, he's still ready for more. Here he poses mid-ascent.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bath time

A couple of people have remarked that Gabriel looks more like a little person than a baby now. Here he stares down the camera mid-bath. Photo courtesy of Uncle Kurt from NYC.

Paparazzi Shot

These damn photographers! During a quick visit this weekend from NYC, Uncle Kurt snapped this one of Gabriel immediately post-bath. Is there no privacy anymore?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

With Eegee

Gabriel had a great time in Florida, as he was never without a playmate.  Here he is with his Eegee - the name for now, but we'll see what he has to say about that once his vocabulary expands beyond dadadadadadada.......

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Exploring at Grandma's

In late March, Gabriel paid his second visit to the Gardner Farm. For a 158-year-old house, it's remarkably well child-proofed, probably because the other 14 Gardner great-grandkids have put the place through its paces already.

Man in Motion

Gabriel practices his speed-crawling on the sands of Daytona.

Thus Endeth the Dance Career

Gabriel's brief period of training as a professional dancer under Wendy's tutelage came to an end when he found pulling her hair was more fun.
She was a good sport about it.

Dancer in Training

Wendy flew in from San Francisco to join us this weekend, taking a break from her Rawdance duties to give a few pointers to our budding ballet dancer. Her presence was especially welcome in that she's the only family member left who's still capable of lifting Gabriel.

Grokking with Barry

Gabriel expresses affection by pressing his forehead against other people's. Here he gives Barry the treatment.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Once named "house under contract," our home is now probably more aptly named "house under construction." Here's the view from the back - minus our bedroom.  The room with the scaffolding (former kitchen) is now gone too. 

Room to crawl

Gabriel started crawling in earnest about a week shy of 9 months, and has been picking up speed ever since.  Here he is demonstrating his moves in the park with Grandma Jan.

On the swing

Swing time

There's a wonderful new park in the neighborhood and, based on Gabriel's response to the swings, I suspect we'll be spending a lot of time there in the coming years.  What a joy!


Another Kodak moment.