A friend came over this week to bring some pie and whipped cream. Everyone got a little bit after lunch and it was delicious. Dad and Mom were picking at a little piece before putting it away and Dad was going to share a taste with Stella.

Dad: “Stella! Come here!”

Stella: “What?”

Mom: In hushed tones, “No, don’t let her have that.”

Dad: “Nothing!”

Stella: “AHHH! It’s not nice to say ‘Nothing’.”

[Dad subsequently called her back over and shared another little bite.]


The girls have both been pretty sweet to their little brother. Sometimes Stella tells him stories or says sweet things to him. Recently, Stella leaned in close when nobody else was around and whispered…

Stella: “Don’t worry brother. I’ll protect you from the dinosaurs.”



Since Dylan was born, it’s been a period of adjustment for everyone, Stella included. It seems like just like mom and dad, she’s a little more tired than usual. Which means a little more cranky too. When she’s upset about something, she’s been throwing fits–screaming and crying. We’ve been working with her on using words to articulate what’s wrong and how we can help.

After Stella finally settled down after a fit…

Dad: “Why were you so upset? I wanted to help but I didn’t know what you wanted.”

Stella: “I really just wanted you to hold me on the [arm]chair.”

Dad: “Well, I didn’t know that’s what you wanted. If you want me to know what you want, you have to tell me.”

Stella: “Oh!” (lightbulb moment)


Dad was getting Stella ready for bed and was in her room trying to get her clothes on after a bath. Stella gets very protective of her stuff and heard Sophie wandering near some of her stuffed animals and got up in a hurry to save them from little sister.

Dad: ” Stella! Come back here. You need to put your clothes on.”

Stella: “I need to get my animals.”

Dad: “You NEED to get your clothes on. If you don’t come back you’ll be in trouble. 3. 2…”

[Stella runs back into the room.]

Stella: “That was close. You almost knew I was gone.”

Apparently Stella thinks she’s so fast that dad doesn’t know she’s gone…


Dear Little Brother,

We’re still calling you Little Brother. We’ve mastered the art of giving a vague, noncommittal response every time someone asks if you have a name. That is, everyone except Stella has it down. She has decided that your name is “Pickle Pants.” Thank you Judy Schachner, for this gem of a euphemism that obviously refers to the protruding part of the male anatomy in the Skippyjon Jones books…

Aside from this unfortunate choice, Stella continues to be unhelpful, so we stopped asking her for suggestions. Her contributions to the name pool, to date are: Boo Boo, Captain Hook, Absalom, and Mike.

Stella has left us no choice but to ask Google.

Google was only slightly more helpful than Stella, and more useful in determining what NOT to name you. We considered way too many names of various origins: Welsh, Irish, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Scandinavian, Greek, French, German… We ruled out gender neutral names. And overly popular names. And names we love that our friends claimed years ago. We decided against alliterative “R” names, as well as names ending in “r.” We couldn’t think of any “S” names we liked. None of the “J” names seemed right. And the Biblical names seemed too common. Except Absalom, but he was a rapscallion anyway. Any time we heard a mom at the park call for her son, we’d make note of his name and cross it off our list if it was a name we had considered. Names of boy students who made it their life’s work to make my life difficult were OUT. And the problem with most guy names anyway is that they’re well suited to grown men but seem too “old” for babies and toddlers and preschoolers and boys age 5-18.

Herein lies our dilemma. If you were a girl, we would have known your name months ago.

Consulting lists of literary heroes didn’t even do it for us, because “good books” are filled with too many Sebastian Dangerfields:

Sebastian Dangerfield (The Ginger Man) Sebastian Dangerfield is a whirlwind of bohemian misadventure. An American of Irish descent studying in Dublin, he is a somewhat immoral beast – relentlessy cheating on his young wife who is trying to raise their infant daughter and forever drunk – but you can’t help rooting or him. 

The literary characters we do like have names that just are just a little too weird: Atticus Finch, Inigo Montoya, Colonel Aureliano Buendia, Edmond Dantes, Don Quixote, Snowball from Animal Farm, etc.

Monosyllabic names didn’t make the list, as per the counsel in Gail Hopson’s copy of What to Name the Baby by Evelyn Wells (© 1946): You can build a satisfactory sound pattern for your baby by constructing from the base that is your family name. The more arresting the family name, the simpler the first should be. The longer the baptismal name, the more important that the last be short. […] A one syllable surname calls for a polysyllabic forename, such as Victoria James or Addison Jones…

This means your name will not be Owen, Noah, Max, Micah, Jonah, James, Jeremy, Lincoln, Logan, Lucas, Kilian, Finn, Alden, Ari, Aidan, Adam, Caleb, Connor, Reuben, Yan, Rowan, Toby, Tristan, Tanner, or Wesley…

I even thought about Wells’ description of number power and numerology: while you may refuse to believe in numerology, or to think that the date of birth may carry its own numerological meanings and portents, you can accept that millions of other otherwise hard-headed citizens do believe these things, and have worked out the validity of their names or their babies’ names by a number formula that has stood, they tell us, the test of time…Select the right number for a name, we are told, and its bearer will stay in step with destiny.

I even read “Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?” from Freakonomics and Levitt and Fryer’s “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names,” but stopped after page 8 (of 53) because there were too many charts and graphs and formulas for determining how “Black” or “White” your name is…

But I think we finally have something – a name that covers most of the bases.

It’s a distinctly BOY name (although parents somewhere have surely appropriated it a girl’s name and we can’t do anything about that). It derives from Welsh mythology and fits coincidentally with your astrological sign. And you’ll know your mom is an English major when you hear it (we also can’t help that the poet you share a name with was an inveterate drunk, but what poet isn’t). So what’s not to like?

If we stick to it, Little Brother, your number power is 8 (which means you’ll supposedly be realistic, practical, well-equipped in a managerial sense, with outstanding organizational and administrative capabilities, potential for achievement in business or powerful positions with financial and material rewards, and exercise sound judgment when it comes to money and commercial matters. But also possibly rigid, stubborn, materialistic, and overly ambitious).

Ugh. Thank goodness we’re not having twin boys.

Year of Dog [2] flattened
Happy Year of the Dog!

Thing 2

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

2018-01-12 16.16.02

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]




Today in Sunbeams, the lesson was titled “Jesus and Heavenly Father Love Me.” I was trying to reinforce the main idea by repeatedly asking, “Who loves us?” I think Stella got tired of me asking.

Mom: “Tell me again, who loves us? Heavenly Father and J, J, J…”

Stella: “Jafar!”

Mom: “NO. He didn’t love anybody!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dad and Stella went to Safeway and saw wood for sale piled high outside the store.

Stella: “Hey, look at all that wood, like what they used for Abinadi!” [As in, Abinadi, her favorite Book of Mormon prophet who was martyred and burned to death by the wicked King Noah…]

*Note: As a former reading teacher, Mom is supposed to be proud of these sorts of text to world connections, no matter how macabre they are… ____________________________________________________________________________________________

During dinner prep:

Mom: “Stella, may I put some peas in your bowl?”

Stella: “NO, you can’t. It’s IMPOSSIBLE!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

We were walking home from the store and approaching a group of high school boys bouncing basketballs on the sidewalk.

Stella [in a really loud voice, while pointing]: “Those boys have balls!”

Mom: “Shhh, yes they do.” [And then laughing]

Stella: “Mom, are you laughing at ME?” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella was playing Great British Baking Show and making “Genoise sponge” cake by tossing Legos and stuffed animals and giant plastic spiders into a bowl…Sophie came along and tried to help…

Stella: “No, Soph! Don’t touch my semolina and strong flour!!!!” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dad came home from work and told us about a meeting with a coworker in which they discussed the possibility of us moving to Hawaii for a new position with Kaiser. Stella was eavesdropping at the table:

Stella: “We’re not moving to Hawaii. We’re going to stay in this disgusting house.”

She’s probably right.  ____________________________________________________________________________________________

I asked Stella what we should name baby brother.

Stella: “Captain Hook!”

Mom: “But he was a rapscallion. We can’t name brother after a bad guy.”

Stella: “Well, your baby is a rapscallion.”


While out driving, an orange Lamborghini pulled up just ahead of us in the adjacent lane:

Dad: “Hey, look at that orange Lamborghini! Isn’t it fancy?”

Stella: “Yeah. Our car’s not fancy. It’s black.”

Mom: “How can we make our car fancy?”

Stella: “By cleaning it.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella went to the dentist this week and on the way to the office we had this conversation:

Stella: “Are you going to the dentist too, Mom?”

Mom: “Yes, but not to your dentist. You get to go to a pediatric dentist, which is a dentist for kids. I have to go to a dentist who only sees adults.”

Stella: “Adults?”

Mom: “Adults are grown ups, like moms and dads. And when you grow up to be an adult, you can see an adult dentist too. Won’t it be nice to grow up and do adult things?”

Stella: “No. That’s the worst thing of all.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Sophie was playing with her Sesame Street Bert doll…

Stella: “I want Bert!”

Mom: “Right now it’s Sophie’s turn. You can have a turn when she’s done,” [while restraining Stella and trying to keep her from grabbing the doll from Sophie]

Stella: “But I wanted to roast him in the oven!”