The Most Dangerous Children’s Book Ever

Darth Vader and SonEarlier tonight, Hope asked me to read her a book, a request I always grant. She had the book in the picture to the right, saying “Daddy, that’s Darth Vader.” I wanted to continue the conversation so I pointed to the other figure on the cover, asking her if she knew who it was.

When she answered in the negative, I said “that’s Darth Vader’s little b….”

And then I realized there is no way I can read “Darth Vader and Son” to my children. I would be a horrible father and person if I let my children even look at this book before watching any of the Star Wars saga.

So I finished my sentence.

“…buddy. Hey, let’s read something else.”

I immediately hid the book, vowing to myself to get it out of the house as soon as possible.

I’m glad that Hope and Luke have some exposure to Star Wars (something I think The Civee probably disagrees with me on). And I’m looking forward to watching the movies with them when they can understand and sit through something longer than an episode of Sesame Street. A few years ago I read an article online (which I can’t find) where the author suggested watching in a different order (4, 1, 2, 5, 3, 6 (even possibly cutting out Episode I)). So this is something I have put some thought into.

Star Wars and its characters are ubiquitous. I’m glad my children will have it around (again, The Civee may disagree here). There are a lot of great Star Wars-related toys and educational materials. And the book does have its moments. But what was the Lucasfilm licensing department thinking with this book?

I’d rather Luke and Hope play with Jar Jar and Ewok rock ’em sock ’em robots than be spoiled in this way.

So this book will disappear for a long, long time. And hopefully, by the time Hope and Luke get around to watching Star Wars, there will be some surprises left.


What Hope Wants for Christmas

One of Hope’s favorite books is Don’t Get a Gink, a story starring The Cat in the Hat as he tries to convince some kids looking for a pet to not pick the titular creature. The book never says why one shouldn’t get a Gink. Additionally, judging by his actions from his first book, I don’t trust the Cat in the Hat. So each time we finish the book, I tell her that I want a Gink. Lately, I’ve been telling Hope I want a Gink for Christmas, something she always protests.

Recently, we were getting Luke and Hope’s picture taken with Santa. Hope went up, sat in his lap and shouted out “My daddy wants a Gink for Christmas,” to which Santa politely asked her to repeat. But she continued her argument, saying “No! No Gink!”

I don’t know if she ever got to tell him what she wanted for herself. But in between laughing at the situation it felt nice that when she had the chance to speak with the big guy, she thought about me.

Have a great Christmas.

Hope and Luke with Santa

Hope’s Bill: Progress

A bill inspired by Hope is headed to the governor’s desk (or whatever surface the governor uses to sign acts into law).

Earlier today, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 135, which designates September as Craniofacial Awareness Month. The Senate passed the bill back in May, during a session in which Hope got a nice round of applause from the lawmakers. This has been an interesting process to watch since The Civee first gave testimony on the bill more than a year ago.

I could go on about how great this is, but I think the Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Cleft Lip and Palate Center’s Facebook post put it best:

(And yes, the Christina referred to in that post is The Civee).

So thanks to The Civee, Senator Kearney (and his staff) and the team at Nationwide.

But that’s not the only cleft-related item. Today, I found out about Smile Trek, a journey undertaken by Marine Winston Fiore, who walked 5,000 miles across Southeast Asia to raise money for cleft surgeries. Fiore took the walk with fewer supplies than I have in my car trunk and used his Android and Google Maps to plan the trip. I don’t see anyone with an iPhone walking 5,000 miles across Asia. It’s an incredible story, check out the video:

And finally, here’s a picture of Hope and Luke:

Learning to Move

Luke is almost five months old and he’s starting to do a lot more than just lay around.

Hope is very happy that her younger brother notices her. Luke will often laugh when she makes a funny noise or tries to joke with him. When Hope was Luke’s age, The Civee and I read every book or website we could find to know where she should be developmentally. We knew exactly what milestones she should reach each week and celebrated every one.

But with that a few years in the past and Luke being our second child, we are more relaxed. We don’t have all the milestones memorized. We don’t need to. We are happy he is where he is and celebrate each new accomplishment when it comes. Having two kids takes up more of our time, but it’s great watching them together.

And just as Hope was moving around as soon as she was able, Luke is ready to follow in her footsteps. Luke likes to stand up, whether it’s in his exer-saucer or Johnny Jump-Up. We think in the past week he’s spent more time in the exer-saucer than Hope did all the time we had it out for her. Hope is more interested in the exer-saucer now, showing Luke what each one of the distraction gadgets does.

But Luke isn’t content to just stand (with assistance) in one place. He enjoys time on the floor, is able to roll from one side to the other (and will roll all the way across a room if given the space). Luke is also starting to work on his crawling technique. Take a look (and I am aware he’s drooling. He’s a teething four-month-old. It happens):

I can’t remember the last time The Civee or I picked up a baby milestone book. And it doesn’t matter. Luke is developing and it’s something Hope, The Civee and I are able to enjoy. He’s happy. And he keeps us entertained.


The Firefighter and the Pumpkin

Our family reached a milestone this Halloween: Hope kept her costume on all night.

Just like last year, we let Hope pick her costume. She wanted to be a firefighter. With her rejection of the helicopter costume in mind, we wanted to keep this year’s costume simple. Helmet, boots and that’s it. She was very proud of the helmet. She was also much more into trick-or-treating. A little too much, as she wanted to keep going and eat her candy after every stop. She learned eventually and thankfully, we were able to limit her intake.

Not only was she proud of her helmet, but she also seemed happy to tell Luke what was going on and involve him in her night.

(I should note that bag isn’t her bag full of treats. It’s just a Target bag full of toys. She’s really into bags right now).

If the outfit Luke’s wearing looks familiar, that’s because it’s not the first time it’s been worn in the family. Hope (at six months) wore it two years ago. Luke, who just hit four months this week, barely fit into it. I don’t know if it’s just me, but they look similar. You’d almost think they were brother and sister or something:

The Smile Era

I can confirm that Luke has reached a milestone: the era of non-gaseous smiles has begun.

Luke is starting to respond to other people to the delight of The Civee and I and (especially) Hope. He’s been giving us a lot of this lately:

For comparison, here’s one of the first pictures of Hope smiling , also at the same age (six weeks and a few days):

We went to the Zoo today, about an hour before closing. It was the first time we’ve ever seen the kangaroos awake and moving, which was entertaining. So if you want to see the kangaroos moving around, eating and getting into kangaroo fights, visit them at the end of the day. Any other time for them is nap time.

Male Bonding

Getting around with two kids isn’t easy, especially at first.

Before Luke was born, The Civee and I got a sit-and-stand style double stroller (thanks Grandma). It’s great for places we do a lot of walking. But it’s also heavy and not easily maneuverable. For situations where a double (or single) stroller would be overkill, we also have a Moby (no relation to the bald singer (thank The Civee for that line)) wrap, essentially a long piece of fabric you wrap around your body a number of times and then just stick the baby in.

We had tried a carrier with Hope, but she wasn’t into it because she liked to move a lot and because we think we didn’t start her in it early enough. So we’ve been using it frequently over the past two weeks with Luke and he’s gotten used to it- a little fussing at first, then eventually he falls asleep.

The first few times, The Civee would don the Jedi robe-like wrap and walk around with Luke snugly secured to her body. But earlier this week when visiting a park where we knew we’d want to go off-trail, she offered me the chance to carry Luke in the wrap. I have to admit at first I resisted, for reasons I’m not even sure of. But then I thought, “hey, I’m a father, I can do this.” So with The Civee’s help, we twisted the wrap around my body (I don’t see how anyone could get the thing on without help) and stuck Luke in next to my chest.

It was different. But pretty comfortable. I felt like I had to hold him with one of my arms, even though he was secure within the hundreds of feet of fabric (or so it felt) I had wrapped around my body. My only complaint was that the thing got hot. But then again, in 90-degree weather, anything would be hot.

Even though the orange wrap and blue shirt I was wearing are the colors of the Mets, I can’t complain. At least we didn’t get a red or pink one.

I would happily carry Luke around in a wrap again. Although, I wouldn’t do it if it were just him and I. I could never get the wrap on without someone else’s help.

Hope Meets Luke

For the past few months, The Civee and I had been talking up Luke’s arrival to Hope (although because we didn’t know if he would be a boy or a girl, we referred to him simply as “the baby”). We gave her the basics about babies and told Hope her brother or sister would be here around fireworks time. Some days, all Hope would talk about was the baby, while others, her interest waned. We tried to keep everything as positive as we could, but didn’t know what to expect.

The day after Luke was born, Hope’s grandparents brought her to the hospital to meet her new brother. She walked in the room, excited to see her mother and me. Hope gave The Civee a big hug and then noticed Luke in my arms. Her first reaction was “baby…fireworks time!” Hope then launched into a long stream of stories, things she had done and seen, like feeding the goats at the farm last Columbus Day or seeing a bird land on a guy’s head at a Clippers game. It was easy to see that Hope liked her brother.

That hasn’t changed since bringing Luke home Sunday. She’s always talking to him, trying to play with him (although she still has to learn why one would need to be gentle with a newborn) and still telling him stories. And they’re the same stories, which to Luke and Hope, haven’t gotten old yet. Although, today, she’s tried a new twist. Rather than tell Luke stories, it’s almost as if Hope is trying to start a stand-up routine, mixing and matching her stories. See for yourself: