A Is For Alphabet

On Wednesday morning I was toweling June off after a bath and she noticed my shirt in the bathroom mirror. “You have letters on your shirt,” she observed.

The shirt said, “Feel the Power: VOTE.” I got it back in the early 90s when I worked for Project Vote (http://projectvote.org/?gclid=COWA_PW90JkCFR4hnAodPEgwvQ). “VOTE” is the largest word on it.

“Do you see a V?” I asked June. She pointed to the V. “How about an E?” She pointed to the E. We went through all the letters in “VOTE” and she got them all right. In the past several weeks June has become intensely interested in letters. She doesn’t know all of them yet (maybe 75%), but she’s learning more all the time and she can recognize her own name. She is always asking us what letters begin various words and what sounds they make. The wooden alphabet puzzle she inherited from Noah has become a favorite toy. She’s taking the first wobbly steps of literacy and it’s exciting to watch.

So I read a lot of alphabet books to her these days. Luckily we have quite a few, though ABC: A Family Alphabet Book (http://www.proudparenting.com/node/309) is a favorite. Reading these books over and over (and reaching the twenty-six month anniversary of this blog) has inspired me to make an alphabet of our lives over the past twenty-six months. Most of the pictures have appeared in the blog already, but a few are new. A lot has changed since I started writing here, both for our family and for our country. June has turned one, two and three. She’s learned to walk and talk and started school. Noah has turned six and seven and he seems bound and determined to turn eight next month, despite my protests that he can’t possibly be that old. He overcame a difficult kindergarten year, learned to read and stopped believing in Santa Claus. He’s now thriving in second grade. Since I started writing a woman came tantalizingly close to winning the Democratic nomination for President and an African-American won the Presidency (and the world economy imploded, but let’s not dwell on that).

Here are some snapshots of our lives during these times:

A is for Alphabet

Here’s June playing with her alphabet puzzle on Saturday morning.

B is for Baby

She and I were at a coffee house and she was cruising around and around a low table, eating bits of Fig Newton I handed her every time she passed by. She paused every now and then to remove the sugar packets from their container and scatter them across the table and floor and then she replaced them. As she reached the corner of the table closest to me, she let go and stood, swiveled on her feet to face me and smiled, as if she was going to do something dramatic. I waited, holding my breath, thinking this was the moment. Then she chickened out, dropped to her knees and crawled to me. I don’t know when she will walk any more than when Noah will start having an easier time in school. It could be months from now or right around the corner. (April 25, 2007).

June took her first steps about a week later. Noah’s school troubles cleared up when he started first grade with more sympathetic teachers.

C is for Cherry Blossoms

We went to see the cherry blossoms on Friday and it was…challenging. June had been very cranky for almost a week. She’d been sick the weekend before and at first we thought that was the reason but by Friday she’d been better for several days so I’m not sure what was up with her. Anyway, she wailed in the car, she whimpered in the stroller and when she was walking she kept tugging on my arm, wanting me to go in another direction. At one point she darted under a chain and headed straight for the Tidal Basin before Beth dashed off to capture her. Anyway, the blossoms were gorgeous and afterwards we went out for really excellent pizza in the city that made me wish we still lived there. June threw fits in the restaurant, too.

D is for Duck

Once we were back on land, the guide let Noah pass out the souvenir quackers (duck-bill shaped noisemakers) and instructed everyone to quack “Happy Birthday” to him. It wasn’t quite recognizable as “Happy Birthday” but it was impressively noisy. (May 4, 2008)

E is for Election

The transition from Obama-land to McCain-land was not subtle. Either that or I missed it while I dozed briefly as June napped in her car seat and Noah watched downloaded episodes of his favorite shows on Beth’s phone. Before I closed my eyes there were Obama-Biden signs everywhere. When I opened them it was nothing but McCain-Palin as far as the eye could see, including those annoying ones that say “Country First.”

When I commented on the shift, Noah looked out the window long enough to spot one. “That’s the first McCain sign I’ve seen in my whole life,” he noted.(November 5, 2008)

F is for Friends

Jim is one of a handful of people in my life who bridge past and present. We lived down the hall from each other our first year of college and we were roommates the next year. We were living in a student-run co-operative dorm where co-ed rooms were possible with a little administrative subterfuge. The summer after sophomore year, when I fell in love with Beth, Jim and I were living together again and he was the one who urged me to kiss her while I was agonizing over the decision. Even if we had no more history than that together, I’d be forever in his debt. (February 26, 2009)

G is for Gabriel

Gabriel is usually known as the Caterpillar on this blog. He’s a sweet, affectionate, well-loved boy, who will be three in July. His moms are hoping to adopt a younger sibling for him. They are looking for an African-American or biracial baby. Here is their webiste: www.emmyandbethadopt.com. Please visit if you think you can help.

H is for Hug

As we were getting ready to leave the house to go vote later that morning, I found Noah and June in a spontaneous embrace. “Hug!” June announced.

“Take a picture, Mommy!” Noah suggested.

I went for the camera, thinking it likely June would have wriggled out of his arms before I got back. But when I returned, they were still at it.(February 14, 2008)

I is for Ice Cream

It wasn’t a perfect day, but fairy tales aren’t perfect either. They just have happy endings. Here’s ours: And then the queen and the prince and the princess had ice cream. The End. (July 18, 2008)


J is for Jump

At 5:30, I could hear Noah singing out in the yard as I poured orange jack-o-lantern lollipops into a bowl….I brought the bowl outside and set it down on the round table on the porch. Noah and June were playing in a pile of leaves under the dogwood while Beth watched. (October 31, 2007)


K is for King

This was the first headshot of Noah that appeared on the blog. It was taken in December 2006 at the Children’s Museum in Wheeling, West Virginia.

L is for Liberty

We caught the last ferry of the day, the 3:40, and sat on the top level, for the view and so I wouldn’t get seasick. After a scenic (and very windy) ride we arrived at the statue. She’s impressively large in person and really quite beautiful. We admired her and walked around the island. We paid a quarter for Noah to look through the telescope at the harbor, and then we got back in line for the 4:45 ferry. On the way back we opted for the heated lower level. We shared a warm soft pretzel, and Noah got a pair of Statue of Liberty sunglasses, much coveted by a little boy sitting near us. (December 27. 2007)

M is for Moms

Clearly he was paying attention at Kids’ Camp because he knew exactly what to put on such a sign. He instructed me to write, “I Heart My Moms!” and to fill in the heart with rainbow stripes. As a finishing touch, he decided the point of the exclamation point should be heart-shaped. (June 9, 2007)

N is for Nest
It turns out four adults to two children is about the right ratio for me to spend an almost perfect day at the beach. Noah and I arrived around nine, and had built just enough sand castles and played just long enough in the water to be looking at each other and wondering “what next?” when my mom arrived and he had a fresh playmate. He found a hole someone else had dug and spent a lot of time jumping into it. Later it was a nest and Mom was a bird laying eggs they made out of balls of wet sand. (August 25, 2007)

O is for Ocean

He’d been quite taken with the idea that he was “the only one in the whole world” who knew both my “versary” gift to her and hers to me. He kept the secrets faithfully, only letting slip that he thought Beth’s gift to me was better. “But they’re both good,” he added diplomatically. This piqued my curiosity since Beth had hinted she would make up for her absence on the actual day of our anniversary through the gift. Inside a store bought card with a picture of a falling star on it was a card she and Noah made on the computer. It had a photo of the house where I lived during the summer of 1987 on the front and the Rehoboth boardwalk on the inside. “We’re leaving Friday afternoon for Rehoboth Beach,” it said. (July 22, 2007)

P is for Princess
June wore a dress with a black velvet top and a puffy, gold satin skirt that a friend of Ya Ya’s bought for her. Ya Ya said she looked just like a doll. Beth’s brother Johnny and I both said, independently of each other, that she looked like the Infanta Margarita in this painting (http://www.artchive.com/meninas.htm). In either case, doll or princess, it was a new look for her. (November 23, 2007)

Q is for Queer

We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant that night to celebrate twenty years with spinach enchiladas and virgin mango daiquiris. (July 22, 2007)

R is for Redhead
The snow was dry and powdery, useless for snowballs or snowmen, and just barely serviceable for sledding. He went down the hill a few more times, then bored of it. We took turns dragging June around the yard. She was tranquil, but not as enamored with it as the last time. (February 7, 2007)

This is from my very first blog entry. June’s hair turned blonde the following summer.

S is for Santa

Noah seemed happy and satisfied with his visit to Santa. But as soon as we left the little house, he asked if it was possible that the person he’d seen was just someone in costume pretending to be Santa. We allowed that this might be the case. Beth pointed out that Santa couldn’t be everywhere at once so maybe he needed some helpers to visit with children and find out what they wanted. Probably, they would send an email to Santa with the requests. “But he just asked my name. Why didn’t he ask my address?” Noah was suddenly alarmed at the possibility that his information would be incompletely conveyed to Santa. (December 10, 2007)

T is for Train
Just around the time I reached the tricky part of the operation, spooning the batter onto the griddle and making sure none of the pancakes burned while I was distracted by something else, they both wanted my attention at once.

Noah had tired of his magazine and said, “What should I do?”

June wanted to know if I could “play train tracks?”

“Maybe Noah can play train tracks with you,” I suggested. I only gave this idea about a 25% chance of succeeding, but you have to try. Much to my surprise, Noah took June’s hand and they walked into the living room. He repaired a track I had built earlier in the day and they took turns running the trains over it, looking startlingly like two full-fledged kids playing together.(March 23, 2008)

U is for Underpants

This was the headshot of Noah when he was in first grade. If you remember the photo and thought he was wearing a bandana on his head, those are underpants. Beth took it on their mother-son camping trip in September 2007.

V is for Valentine
Noah dug around in his bag and pulled out a card. “Here,” he said, handing me the funniest valentine I’ve ever received. There’s a snowman lying on its side on the front with the words “Love you to death!” written in crayon. Inside it says, “OOPS! I guess I loved you to much!” Like mother, like son is all I have to say about that. Also this– it was the perfect Friday the 13th valentine. (February 13, 2009)

W is for Wizard

The last day of spirit week was “Put on Your Thinking Cap” day so after some careful consideration, he put on his wizard hat. (March 9, 2007)

X is for Xylophone

You were expecting something else? I took this picture on Thursday.

Y is for Yard

After Noah ate breakfast, brushed his teeth and got dressed, it was time to bounce. Along with the hopping ball, we bought Noah his own personal bouncy castle for vestibular stimulation, deep pressure on his joints, oh, and fun, too. He loves it. We’ll see if it helps organize and focus him the way the occupational therapist says it will, but in the meantime he’s using it several times a day. When possible, we try for a bouncing session before Beth takes him to camp. (July 10, 2007)

Z is for Zeitgeist

Next we moved inside to carve our jack o’ lanterns, or in Beth’s and my case, our Barack o’ lanterns (http://yeswecarve.com). (October 26, 2008)

I can’t claim this blog consistently captures the national zeitgeist, but if you have or once had elementary-school or preschool-age kids, or if you live in Takoma Park or its environs, or if you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, I hope you sometimes find a little of yourself reflected in it. Thanks for reading.