Thing 2

Before Sophie becomes the forgotten middle child, here’s a quick update.

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Sophie’s first trip to the dentist at 16 months was pointless. She refused to open her mouth to have all eleven of her teeth examined. She did, however, enjoy carrying around the stuffed animals and rearranging the furniture in the waiting room.

When she’s not avoiding the dentist, Sophie works out by carrying pineapples around the house, doing her part to tenderize them by gleefully dropping them on the floor.

Other things she likes to drop on the floor: food scraps. When she eats, she picks her food apart and eats tiny crumb size bites, one at a time. Or she shovels handfuls into her mouth until she gags. Often, she’ll play the game where she pretends to be hungry and asks for more. After you give her more and turn your attention to some other task that requires immediate attention, she swipes the food all over her highchair tray as fast as she can with both hands, hurling as many tidbits onto the floor as possible before you turn around to check on her. On another food related note: she has a minimalist approach to sign language and will only perform signs for “eat,” “please,” and “more,” which she seems to think are all the same sign. All three result in food materializing out of nowhere, so I understand the confusion.

I remember when Stella was Sophie’s age. I should rephrase. I remember nothing when Stella was Sophie’s age, except that Sacrament meetings were spent policing the aisles in pursuit of our child who was about to steal another kid’s toys and snacks. This is why we’re impressed with Sophie’s ability to sit still at church. I get a lot more out of Sacrament meeting now. I can even tell you what the speakers talked about last week. But the freedom to focus on anything other than what Sophie’s doing comes at a cost, of course. Sophie doesn’t sit still just because she can. I can imagine the voice in her head: “Oh, you thought I would sit still just because I can?! HA. I demand the enticements of tactile sensory objects!” She’ll sit still only if she can raid my Primary bag and litter the pew with flash cards, paperclips, magnets, Craisins, and three boxes of crayons until she’s found something in the bag that will occupy her attention, be it a piece of paper she can tear into confetti-sized shreds, or a glue stick that she can rub all over her face and hair.

Other fun facts:

Favorite body part: tie between head and bellybutton. If she’s in the mood, she’ll tell you where her hands and feet are, and if you ask her about her nose, she’ll look at you, grab your nose, and squeeze it as hard as she can.

Favorite animals: owls, dogs, cats. Stuffed animals are their own category. Her favorite is still a little purple owl, or whatever Stella is carrying around and refusing to share (lately, the large psychedelic-colored Alpaca rescued from Target two weeks after Valentine’s Day. It was only .99)

Favorite hobbies: bird and squirrel watching. She likes to point out any signs of avian or bushy-tailed arboreal wildlife she happens to spot while we’re out walking Stella to school. She also enjoys a good book. She carries books around the house and just when you think you can sit on the floor and enjoy a free moment to yourself, she ambushes you by backing into your lap and shoving a book in your hands, which is how she says,  “Read. Now.”

Habits: identifying food sources. If she’s trying to get your attention, she’ll pull on your clothes and push you in the direction she wants you to go. Usually, it’s the kitchen, to the bananas or oranges sitting on the countertops she can’t reach. Or the closet where we keep a Costco size bag of prunes; we put a child lock on said closet so she would stop stealing the prune bag.

Once, while we were at the park, I forgot about her and she imprinted on a nanny who found her so adorable she fed her all the snacks intended for the other children in her charge. One of her kids had a big bag of popcorn; Sophie had her eye on it for a while and as soon as the bag was abandoned in the sandbox, Sophie stealthily toddled over, snatched it, and helped herself. So I didn’t have to feed her lunch that day.

Besides eating, Sophie also loves to snuggle. It’s strange having a snuggly baby. Stella never snuggled, unless she was sick. When she wakes up in the morning or after a nap, Sophie loves to grab all the stuffed animals in her crib and her giant blanket, and lay her head on your shoulder while you hold her. And sometimes throughout the day, she’ll just hug you. It’s the best.

2018-02-19 Jesse and Sophie [1]




When I grow up, I’m going to be…

I continued to not meet my book deadline by celebrating Sophie’s birthday in September, and finally making zhua zhou cards. Zua Zhou is a form of first birthday celebration that supposedly originated in dynastic China but is celebrated in lots of countries in East Asia–it’s Doljanchi in Korea, Thôi Nôi in Vietnam, and Erabitori in Japan, for example. Anciently, the procedure was to present baby with a variety of symbolic objects connected to future occupations, and whichever item baby grabbed first would give an indication of their future life. The items presented depended on gender. Girls were given jewelry, flowers, or scissors and thread, while boys could choose from items like scrolls, pen and ink, and swords. I’m not sure who thought swords would be a good idea…While the tradition used to be perceived as a peek into a child’s future, today it’s basically an event that provides blog fodder and a reminder that my kids are something or other sixteenths Chinese. So for Sophie’s first birthday, we used the cards to predict her future in the most unscientific way possible.  Stella chose an onion and a calculator in 2015. Not to be outdone, Sophie surprised nobody by choosing…you’ll never guess.

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The meanings of most cards are probably obvious–books for scholarship/academic inclinations/the perpetual state of limbo euphemistically dubbed “All But Dissertation,” or ABD Land; an egg beater for reigning power in the sphere of domesticity; pen and ink for literary aptitude/writerly talent…etc. But some are less obvious, like peonies for reproductive power/beauty/richness/honor/high social class; noodles for long life; or a syringe for upstanding medical professions (not intravenous drug use, silly). I threw in the cleaver just for fun. Sophie didn’t pick that one.

 And Sophie picked…  the same thing every kid goes for: whatever is closest to her fingers. But that’s a boring story.

We’ll go with a tie between cupcake and gramophone.

Cupcakes for the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life. Sophie regularly demonstrates her appreciation for the pleasures in life. She loves food, sparkly things, and anything soft, furry, and fuzzy. When Sophie gets really really mad or wakes up cranky from her naps and is in a foul mood, food is usually our friend. Hold a cracker in front of her face and the crying stops instantly. She squeaks excitedly when in close proximity to dogs and carnival stuffed animals. At church, she practically fell out of my arms in an attempt to snatch a lady’s glittery, neon pink scripture case. The lady was really nice and gave me the scripture case, making me promise to give it to her when she was old enough. But that decision might have been inspired more by the puddle of drool Sophie left on the handle.

Let’s just say that cupcakes don’t symbolize a potential penchant for hedonism, but instead a possible career as food critic or patissiere. Yes, that sounds nice.

And a phonograph, for what I initially thought might be musical talent. When I made the cards I was just looking for a cool picture of a musical instrument. It was going to be a violin at first, but then I stumbled upon a phonograph and chose that instead. And then later, I realized I didn’t know what a phonograph was. So I asked Google. And Google says it’s one of the most revolutionary inventions of all time, Thomas Edison’s favorite patent. That is so COOL. If you’re bored or in the bathroom with nothing to read and want to know more about phonographs, here’s a fascinating article from Smithsonian. But if you have better things to do than read about phonographs, just know that Edison’s phonograph was responsible for some major evolutions in music. 1) hits and genres emerged when producers realized they could sell music and people would need quick and easy ways to identify what they wanted; 2) songs got shorter; instead of one hour live symphonies, songs were cut to 3 minutes to accommodate a phonograph’s recording capacity; 3) genre instrumentation changed because some instruments produced better sound quality on the phonograph than others; 4) performances had to be perfect--instead of an occasional vocal slip being acceptable on stage, the most “microscopic accidents” became monumental in a recording; 5) listening to music changed–you could listen alone at home instead of going out and listening live or playing music yourself, which were your only two listening options.

All this is to say that maybe Sophie will invent something. Or be a music historian. Or own a bakery franchise. Or maybe she’ll be a *Bowling for Soup groupie who goes on pastry tours. Either way, we’ll still love her.

*#27 on a list of 60 bands named after food






I was one once

Today I am one year old. WHAT?! Pretend I wrote this on my actual birthday and not two weeks late. Pulling all the dishtowels out of the kitchen drawers is a huge distraction. You should try it sometime.

2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [11]I have six teeth and I like to use them to bite my mom, and whatever you happen to be eating. However, I’ve shown surprising restraint when handling books. I don’t eat the corners, or chew them into pieces the way Someone Else I Know used to. Instead, I sit quietly, turning the pages like a normal person, while pretending to read. When I’m not fake reading, I’m pulling the books off the shelves. It should be an Olympic event. I would win every time.

I walk, when I want to. BUT walking is overrated. Crawling is easier and faster. Besides, all I have to do is scoot over to the closest adult, raise my arms, say—“Excuse me, you’re not holding anything and it’s already been two minutes since you put me down in the other room and I just really need to be up there to see what you’re doing and if it involves food that I can eat and can I have some right now please?”—but instead all that comes out is, “edah!” and they pick me up anyway. Mobility problems solved.

I like to get ready with Mom in the morning. We go into the bathroom and she puts on contact lenses while I open Stella’s jewelry drawer and put on all her necklaces.

I love breakfast. I eat it 2 or 3 times a day. First oatmeal. Then pancakes or eggs or toast or muffins or bites from Dad’s cereal bowl or whatever Mom has just made for herself. She sits down to eat and I mosey over and open my mouth. A few bites later, I’ve polished off her whole bagel. It’s a good life.

Laundry and zippers might be my favorite things. I love laundry. Dad folds shirts and pants into neat piles, and when he turns around, I unfold everything and put the underwear on my head. I can’t resist. Those little sock bundles rolled into colorful balls are just asking to be carried off and hidden somewhere in the house. And zippers? Stella has a box of purses that she forgets about—but only until I want to play with them. I can sit for five whole minutes zipping and unzipping zippers whenever I want. My favorite is the unicorn fanny pack because it has two zippers. And because Stella stuffs it with random paraphernalia—Legos, spoons, rocks, plastic food, real food, acorns, pairs of mismatched socks, the Tylenol syringe she smuggled from the bathroom cabinet when she was supposed to be using the potty… You never know what I’ll find in that fanny pack.

Overall, I’m a good peanut. But even I have my limits. Even so, there are only a few things I won’t stand for: brushing teeth, taking pictures, eating beets, sitting in the grass, birthday candles, being handed to a stranger (unless stranger has food), getting my diaper changed, being mistaken for a chair when Stella needs to sit on something, hairclips, being handed to Dad when Mom is standing right next to him empty handed (unless Dad has food), sitting down in church, putting toys away, wearing dresses…

I weigh 20 pounds. No thank you, I do not need to go on a diet.

Mom and Dad are wondering how I’ve managed to survive Stella’s weekly accidental attempts to step on me or smoosh me into the carpet, but I’m still here.

And now, for the cake pictures. I tried to tell Mom that multiple photoshoots were unnecessary. But nobody listens to me, I’m just a baby.

2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [4]2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [5]2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [3]

The perks of being a Sophie

My hair fixes itself. Or, it used to. That is, it stood up on its own like Iggy Peck’s magnificent coiffure.

2017-02-23 Sophie 5 months [7]Now that my head is growing into my hair, I require a bit more maintenance.

2017-03-11 Sophie 5 months [11].jpgThese days I can’t go anywhere without a whale spout on my head. Usually it’s centered, slightly skewed to the side if Stella has yanked it out of place. I can’t complain. It beats being bald. Except, I think I would have liked wearing color coordinated headbands with enormous flowers and bows and feathers, but oh well. Oh, by the way, did you know, I’ve already had multiple “haircuts.” It started at 3 months. Apparently I had quite the mullet. One day Mom just cut it off and nobody has seen it since. Except she doesn’t know how to cut hair, and even after watching multiple Youtube tutorials, it still looks like she stuck a bowl on my head and went to town. Soooo…yeah. We won’t talk about it anymore.

My hands are dainty. I can fit my whole fist in my mouth. I’ll enjoy it while I can. Note: My hands are also swift. I’ll grab any nose that wanders within inches from my face.

2017-03-11 Sohpie 5 months [12]I have a secret superhero identity. Sophie is just a pen name. My real name is ELASTIBABY! My feet can scratch my nose and if I ever get bored, I can chew on my toes indefinitely.

I am easily amused. I could spend all day turning around in circles on my stomach and backing myself into corners. Or rolling myself into blankie burritos. My favorite game is to lie still when Mom lays me down on a blanket, and then once she walks away to do damage control on whatever Stella has broken in half in some other room, I wiggle away as fast as I can in any direction. Then when Mom comes back to check on me, it looks like I’ve crawled all the way across a whole room. When I’m not free to move as I please on the floor, I’ll settle for sticking out my tongue and wrinkling my nose while blowing air out of my nostrils, or gnawing on my favorite teething toy: Mom’s face. I tried Dad’s. It’s just not the same.

2017-03-11 Sophie 5 months [9]I can eat as much as I want. I’ve discovered purees in this order: sweet potato, squash, apple, avocado, peach, mango, banana, blueberry, pea, pear, plum. So delish. Peas + thyme. Squash + chili powder. Sweet potato + cumin. Blueberry + lemon. Pear + corriander/ginger. I do have to eat that multigrain mush that smells like old paper because Mom doesn’t believe in rice cereal, but I only have to eat it once a day, and if it means I get to eat pears after, then so be it. And, an added bonus? I can eat all day and still look like a small potato next to Stella.

2017-03-11 Stella Sophie [3]2017-03-11 Stella Sophie [4]Yes, I wear all Stella’s old clothes and play with toys she doesn’t want anymore (which don’t really exist because as soon as I pick something up she swoops in to grab it, feigning interest only because I want it), and share the bathwater she’s probably peed in (or so she says), but life is good. Who wouldn’t want to be me?

All I want for Christmas is for my 2-year-old to sit still for more than two seconds…

Sophie was blessed at church on Christmas. She made it much easier for us than Stella did on her blessing day in Rhode Island. She slept through the entire Sacrament meeting. She kept her headband on. And she did not feel the need to unwrap all the fake presents under the Christmas trees in the hall, like SOMEONE else we know…

Three month old Sophie looks exactly like three month old Stella, but seems to be WAY more mellow. Sophie does not do nocturnal gymnastics when she should be sleeping. When you put her to bed, she wakes up in the same place in the morning, instead of upside down after a night of turning around and around and around in circles. Sophie, unlike Stella, seems to be able to sit still for more than two seconds. Sophie, unlike Stella, loves to snuggle; her favorite place to be is squished in someone’s arms. Usually it doesn’t matter who is holding her. In that way, she’s like her sister. Sophie is friendly and pleasant and loves smiling and having one-on-one conversations but only if she has your complete attention. We wondered if she might be the calming force to complement the crazy of Stella. So far, Stella is still crazy and thinks she has better things to do than hang out with Sophie. She still thinks Sophie’s head is a xylophone and that her tummy is a trampoline. Oh well. One day, they’ll be best friends forever. At least that’s what everyone says…


Sophie would like to interrupt this broadcast to announce that she laughed for the first time on New Year’s Eve and discovered how to roll over and not hate tummy time on New Year’s Day.

And then there was Sophie

I knew something was up one January afternoon in 2016 when I was convinced I would shrivel up into a little ball if I didn’t drive to the nearest Dunkin Donuts RIGHT NOW to see if they had half a dozen Boston cremes. They didn’t, but I bought half a dozen anyway, and even chose one with sprinkles and I hate sprinkles. I ate all my donuts in one sitting.

I also thought a lot about meat in January. Especially steak and burgers. When I went grocery shopping and passed a  McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive thru, I’d seriously consider making an illegal u-turn to spend whatever cash I had on hand. What was happening?!

One week after Jesse’s birthday, we realized if all went well, Stella would have a brother or sister (or both?) in the fall. My meat and doughnut cravings felt totally validated! We were thrilled, excited, overwhelmed, and hesitant because Stella has proven to be more of a handful than we anticipated. But mostly excited. Graduation ONCE AND FOR ALL was on the horizon, which meant post grad school job prospects, and settling in a lovely west coast suburb and maybe buying a house with enough bedrooms to store all of Stella’s stuffed animals. It was a good time to be expecting a baby!

Besides, I had the dream pregnancy with Stella. I ate kale! I ran 10 miles a week! I did yoga and meditation and kegels! Stella’s labor started (as far as I know) with my water breaking and she was born just shy of four hours later. And I was fully dilated upon arrival at the hospital.

Yes, I could be pregnant again because it was so easy the first time!

But then lots of other things happened:

  1. Morning sickness. Fourteen weeks of it. All I could eat without throwing up was toast and fruit. And burgers and fries from the drive thru. And anything I didn’t have to cook myself.
  2. Work. During the months when I was most sick, I was rushing to meet a publisher’s deadline for full interior sketches on a new book. I was very irritable and sluggish from January to March. Exercise was NOT on my to-do list.
  3. Syphilis. My OB called in February and said I tested positive for syphilis. How does someone just “get” syphilis?! I had no symptoms, no questionable sexual encounters, nothing remotely indicative of infection. But I still had to be treated with three weeks of penicillin shots in the back. The shots are horrid. Not just the needles, but the recovery. It’s most painful the day after, and for several days afterward it hurts to bend over, to sleep, and to move in general. Chasing Stella around and carrying her up and down flights of stairs to get in and out of our house for three weeks was super fun. Eventually, the OB did several rounds of confirmatory tests and determined that the results were false positives. I didn’t have syphilis. Yay.
  4. Summer. Graduation came and went and we were still waiting for jobs. It was time to move in with parents. June happened. Then July, then August…
  5. More Syphilis. I unknowingly picked a terrible doctor ASAP after moving to Rancho Cucamonga. I showed up for appointments and waited 1-2 hours in the exam rooms only to find out that the doctor wasn’t even in the clinic and nobody knew where she was; I only found out because I left my exam room to ask the secretary. Said doctor also ordered me to take the 3 hr glucose tolerance test instead of the 1 hour test like any normal doctor on the planet. Said doctor’s staff forgot to tell me I had to schedule my own ultrasounds on Wednesdays because that’s when the traveling radiologist visits. And finally, at the end of July, said doctor said she couldn’t see me anymore because my new patient blood work indicated that I had syphilis (the same exact results I received from the OB in CT). And therefore, I had to go to the Loma Linda clinic (35 minutes away) because I had a high risk pregnancy. I forgot that you could look up reviews of doctors on Yelp. I might not have chosen a doctor who, according to one viewer, “got her degree from a Cracker Jack box in India!” But you have limited options with state insurance.
  6. More Syphilis. My first visit at the Loma Linda clinic took SIX HOURS. The visit ended with the doctor ordering more confirmatory blood tests for syphilis. I had to drive to the lab a few miles away and it turned out the nurse gave me the address for the San Bernardino Public Works Department instead, but oh well. The confirmatory tests came back negative. So far, my syphilis test record was 2 positives and 2 negatives. So, again, as far as I was concerned, I did not have syphilis.
  7. GBS. I tested positive this time and was told I would need penicillin via IV during active labor. I knew then, that labor would be so different. In a bad way. But I felt like there was nothing I could do, except hope that I would be lucky again and have a quick labor and delivery. Because subsequent births are supposed to get faster, right?
  8. More Syphilis. At my 38 week appointment, an appointment that should have taken five minutes took 2+ hours because doctors determined that I still might have syphilis. This time, they brought in flow charts to show me how complicated syphilis is. Apparently, there are several confirmatory tests (with varying degrees of reliability) and this whole time, I had only been given one kind of test, and not the test to end all tests. I went home wondering if I had been wrong this whole time. Maybe I DID have syphilis!!!!!!!! But the results were negative. If a doctor ever tries to talk to me about “syphilis” again, I will punch her in the face.
  9. Castor oil. At 39 weeks I was dilated 3 cm and 60% effaced. We still didn’t have a place to live (although we knew Jesse would be working for Kaiser in Oakland starting on October 3rd), and I wanted to be done waddling and living out of a suitcase. For all we knew, the baby wouldn’t arrive until October! So I drank castor oil on September 17, something might happen, but not expecting much. I drank 2 Tbsp at noon and at 3pm painful contractions woke me up from a delicious nap. We arrived at the hospital at 5:30pm, because the baby would be here any second! So I thought. I was only dilated 4 cm at 6pm when I was examined at the hospital! WHAT???!! There was talk of sending me home. But an hour later I measured 5.5 cm. Finally, we were getting somewhere! Just kidding. Ten hours later, after unplugging the IV wires 5,000 times to expel IV fluids, and vomiting half my body weight into the toilet, and only making about 1 cm of progress, I was kind of tired. Around 5:30 am on September 18, the epidural kicked in, I think. I don’t remember the time sequence very well, but shortly after I started feeling light and feathery enough to fall asleep, the doctor checked in for another exam and said, “Ahhh! You’re at station 3! Your baby’s here! Push!” And then there was Sophie.

This summer of horrible doctor visits and lots of fake syphilis (1st World Problems, I tell you) ended with this sweet, squishy fuzzy head who learned how to sleep through the night at 4 weeks.


6:16 am, 7 lbs, 13 oz, 21 inches