Monday, August 9, 2010

Cuuuuuuute...and other tricks

Before Carrie and I were ever dating, married, parenting, or even knew that the other existed, she had a dream that she would have only one child - a boy named Julian. I think a fortune teller also gave her a similar forecast, so by the time of our 20 week sonogram, I was all but convinced we were going to have a boy, and that his name was a done deal. Needless to say - except in most basketball circles - Amari turned out to be a girl, while fortune tellers and prophetic dreams turned out to be a bunch of hooey.

This week, however, my niece Siobhan (pronounced Shevonne for non-Irish readers) arrived from India to live with our family for her final two years of high school. Although she's not a boy, she is the daughter of my sister's first love and husband, Julian. Siobhan has been attending an international boarding school in south India for the past five years - a school I also attending in high school - but the recent increase in tuition led my sister to ask if she could come to America to finish up school. Although friends and family alike cringed at the notion of adopting a teenager, Carrie and I unhesitatingly obliged, knowing that Siobhan is an anomaly amongst adolescents and hoping that her presence will quell people's questions about whether we're going to have another kid. Unfortunately, this also means I now have to postpone my blog about why I don't want to have more children.

Siobhan has been a delight. I hadn't seen her since my mother's memorial four years ago and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I knew that she didn't want to leave her school and worried a bit about how she might handle the adversity. To go from a private school on a small, rural hill station in India to a mid-sized American high school is no small feat. Siobhan's attitude, "I'm looking at this as an adventure." Today - the adventure began. We took her into the high school counseling office, registered her, and signed her up for classes. The elective she chose - auto shop. Awesome - she can earn her keep with oil changes. All in all, she is a sweet, soft-spoken, eloquent, and nonetheless, phone talking, Internet chatting teen. I happy she's here.

As for our other child...Amari still rules. She is definitely going through the classic six to nine month phase where she's discerning more between her parents and other people. She's less likely to go willingly into other people's arms, cries if we leave the room without permission, and whines if we don't share whatever we're eating with her. I find myself tip-toeing out of the living room to do my morning chores and  hiding by the coffee machine to take a few uninterrupted sips of caffeine. She's so interested in what we're eating these days, that I sometimes have to trick her by putting a small bowl of what I want her to eat inside a larger bowl of what I'm eating. Is that weird?

Last week Carrie and I went to our first movie in eleven months, and apparently Amari cried for the first fifteen minutes we were gone. It makes sense, since one or both of us has been around every minute for the past seven weeks. Transitioning back to work is not something I'm looking forward to. It was hard enough when she was cute and personality-less, but now she becomes more and more like a little person every day.

On the cuter side of things, she is learning new and endearing "tricks" every day. She can clap and stick her tongue out on demand, and she shakes her head, "No," every time I say yes. She also flops to the floor from a seated positing whenever we say, "Rest, rest," and she tilts her head endearingly to the side when anyone says, "Aww, cuuuute." I think this came about from Carrie saying it while tilting her head. Now Amari will actually tilt her head to any word that sounds like "Cuuuute." We've even experimented with slipping the words into sentences such as, "Hey, Carrie, could you pass me some fruuuuit." Like Pavlov's dog, Amari's head drops to her shoulder and she glances up at us with her adorable giant eyes.

The best part is that I will sometimes catch her doing all the tricks at once in the morning as though she were so thrilled with the response it elicits in us that she feels compelled to practice on her own time. It looks like some kind of Special Olympics victory dance as she shakes her tilted head, sticks out her tongue, and then flops down on her belly to "rest." Inappropriate jokes aside, it's fucking awesome. Babies are perfect, little geniuses. All of them. I hope to capture her morning practice on video soon and post it here for everyone's viewing pleasure.

In lieu of that, I have recently submitted another video to my Vimeo site. My friend Jim is in the timber industry and offered to give me a winter's supply of firewood if I helped him clear some trees of his property. After the first day, I decided to bring my camera and make a little mock-umentary of our work days. It also hosts the return of Neil Goldberg and his trucker 'stache (by popular demand of my wife) from their debut in "Wiffle Cup." Here is the link to "Trees, Inc." if you want to check it out, and "Wiffle Cup," if you want to know where the hell Neil Goldberg's came from.

Trees, Inc.:

Wiffle Cup:


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