Another Afternoon at Lake Miramar

Jason has been a little sick for the last couple of days, so we've kept him home from day care. I was home with him today, and I thought it would be fun for him to get out of the house, so we went for a little walk at Lake Miramar again.

I'm trying to teach myself how to use photo editing software.  Can you tell?  I'll try to find some new locations, so that it's not just all pictures of Lake Miramar.

A Typical Conversation

This is the conversation Jason and I had Monday evening on the drive home from day care:

Me: Did you have a good day, buddy?

Jason: No.

Me: Yes you did.

Jason: (pause) Dada.

Me: What's up?

Jason: Dada.

Me: I'm right here, buddy.

Jason: Dada.

Me: That's right, I'm Dada.

Jason: Mommy.

Me: Mommy's at home.

Jason: Dada.

Me: Do you know where we're going, Jason?

Jason: (pause) Um.

Me: That's right, we're going home.

Jason: Mommy.

Me: Yeah, Mommy's at home. Where's Mommy?

Jason: (pause) Wuck.

Me: No, she's not at work, Mommy's at home.

Jason: Um.

Me: Right, home.

Jason: Wuck.

Me: No, home.

Jason: Dada. Mommy mommy mommy. Dada. Dock.

Me: The dog's right here.

Jason: Ga.

Me: Right, we're in the car.

Jason: Wawa?

Me: I don't have any water. Maybe when we get home.

Jason: Dada! Dada Dada Dada. Mommy. Um. Wawa. Dock.

Me: OK, buddy.

Jason: Yay! (claps as the song on the radio ends)

Me: Yay!

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

By Michael Chabon

This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. And recently Entertainment Weekly named it one of the ten best novels of the decade. Well, I thought it was pretty great, too.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is about a lot of things. It's about the title characters, of course. When the story opens in 1939, Joe Kavalier arrives at the home of his aunt and her son, Sam Klayman, having escaped Nazi-occupied Prague. When I say "escaped" in that context you might think of something like Casablanca--forged travel papers, traveling under the cover of night, and so on. And all that is the case here as well, but Joe's escape is made all the more spectacular because he's a trained magician and escape artist. He's also a talented artist of the more normal type, and he and Sam end up becoming influential figures in the development of the modern comic book. The novel documents their rise to fame during the pre-war years and the events that lead up to and then follow the break-up of their partnership.

But it's about more than that. Reading this book, the main story was almost incidental to my enjoyment. Because it's also a history of the golden age of comics, a portrait of war-era New York, a meditation on sexuality, family, friendship, and fathers and sons. It's about escape, both literal and figurative, and about magic, both the sleight-of-hand of the stage magician and the everyday magic of life. And it's all done masterfully. Scenes from this story broke my heart, while others had me laughing out loud--no mean feat for a book. The prose at times borders on purple, but instead of feeling over the top it gives the whole thing a lyrical quality, at once realistic but reminiscent of a fairy tale. Other authors have managed that feeling--Jeffrey Eugenides comes to mind--but I'm not sure any have done it better.

If there's anything I didn't like about Kavalier & Clay, it would be the ending. There's little in the way of denouement and, in my opinion, even less of resolution. I'm not sure what I was supposed to feel, because I suppose there is resonance with the themes of escape and freedom, but what I ended up feeling was disappointment and sadness.

Despite that, I wasn't disappointed in the book as a whole. Maybe it's because there was so much more to love about the book than just the plot and the characters. Maybe I just didn't need the ending to live up to the rest of the book, and maybe there wasn't really any way it could. In any case, I'm glad I read it, and I'm happy to give it my whole-hearted recommendation.

Started: 1/27/2010 | Finished: 2/22/2010

Purchase from Amazon

Miramar Lake

Sunday afternoon it was a little cloudy and threatening rain, so we mostly hung around the house. But before we went out for dinner, Juliette and I decided to take Jason to Lake Miramar so he could look at the ducks. I took a few snaps of the lake:

Miramar Dam

Miramar Dock

Wasn't Expecting This One

Jason has never been much of a morning person. He comes by it honestly, of course--I can be a bit of a bear for the first few minutes after getting up, as well. Anyway, it was no big surprise this morning that he threw a little fit when I put him in his booster seat. Based on past experience, I might have expected a tantrum due to having served him the wrong food, or his mother leaving the room, or just being too tired. Were any of those the reason this morning? Nope. This morning he was angry because I wouldn't let him bring a book to the table.

(Here I'd just like to pause a moment and reflect on how difficult it is to write efficiently when the Olympics are on. The last paragraph took me half an hour to compose.)

Now, parenting has brought me a number of unexpected experiences. I find myself saying and doing things all the time that I never thought I would. But I honestly never thought I'd have a problem with my son reading too much. I mean, you want your kid to be a good reader, right? But lately it seems like all Jason wants to do is read constantly.

Of course, by "read" I don't really mean that he can understand the words. But he loves to sit and turn the pages and examine the pictures, shouting out the names of everything on the page. He's even started to memorize some of the ones that we've read to him. In any case, that's what he wants to be doing all the time. Well, that and watch Sesame Street.

And that's fine. I mean, it's great. I love that he loves books. The problem is that it's getting in the way of other, necessary activities. Like eating. Jason has never been the best eater, and now when he's distracted by a book it can be quite an ordeal to get him to pay attention to his meal. Not to mention that Jason's hands get absolutely filthy when he eats, and he has no aversion to smearing food on anything he can get his fingers on. The table, for example, or his hair, or, of course, books.

We've been consistent about not letting him bring his books to the table, so it's just a matter of time until he gets used to it. In the mean time, I expect this will get on my nerves. All things considered, though, this is a pretty good problem to have.

Security "Blanket"

Before Jason was born, when Juliette was pregnant, I would try to imagine him at different stages of his life--as a newborn, a toddler, a teen. Actually, I still do that a lot. Anyway, when I'd think of him at the age he is now, I'd usually include some kind of security item in the picture. Maybe he'd be clutching a blanket as he followed me down the hall after a nap, or dragging a stuffed animal all around the house as we played in the afternoon. Now, I knew that different kids form attachments with different items, but in all my imagining I never stumbled upon what he actually loves to carry with him everywhere: his water cup.

Oddly, it's not a particular cup that he's attached to. We probably have eight or ten sippy cups and any of them will do. And he doesn't have to actually have it in his hands at all times--often while he's playing he'll leave it on the floor in one room while he runs around in circles in another room. But he always has to have access to one of those cups. If I pick up a half-full cup from the living room floor and put it up on the kitchen counter, as soon as he notices, Jason will stand under it, pointing at it and asking for it until he gets it. And if I don't get it to him fast enough, he'll start whining or sometimes even full-out crying. For at least a month now he's even been taking a cup to bed with him.

Actually, these days his crib is getting a little crowded. We always left a couple of small stuffed animals in there with him, even though he never showed much interest in them. And, of course, he's had blankets since he learned to flip himself over, even though he still hasn't really learned how to sleep underneath them. And there's the cup. In the past few weeks he's started taking books to bed with him as well. It started out as just one book, whichever one we read to him before bed. Now there are a few books that just stay in bed all the time. As I'm writing this (he's been asleep now for a couple of hours) he has with him 3 blankets, 4 stuffed animals, 5 books, and his water cup, the latter of which is clutched in his arms.

It's funny, I remember taking books to bed when I was younger and reading until I fell asleep, and I figured that Jason might do the same. I just thought it would start a little later. But tonight after we put him down, as we were making dinner, Juliette and I could hear him happily squealing and shouting "quack quack!" (actually more like "cuck cuck") as he flipped through the book with ducks in it.

Come to think of it, ducks are his favorite animal now. I bet if we got him a duck toy he might switch over to that. Still, it's pretty adorable to see him asleep cradling his cup or snuggling up to a book.

Jason Facts

I keep a little list in my phone's notepad of things I'm going to write about. Every time Jason does something I find interesting or amusing, or on the rare occasions that I have a thought of my own, I jot it down in that list. Over the past six weeks, the list has been steadily growing. So, in an effort to get a little caught up, I thought I'd condense things a bit and just give you the short versions of a bunch of those list items all at once. Thus, some facts about Jason:

  • Jason answers just about every question with "no." "Do you want a snack, buddy?" "No" (as he reaches for the crackers on the counter). "Did you have a good day today?" "No." "Do you like the dog?" "No." "Am I asking you a question?" "No."
  • Jason seldom walks. If he needs to get somewhere, he runs. In that respect, he's a bit like a young Forrest Gump. In pretty much only that respect. In any case, it's very cute.
  • Jason is a mammal.
  • Jason cheats when he plays with his jack-in-the-box. Rather than waiting for it to pop on its own, he just pulls the clasp open with his finger. He used to give the crank a token turn or two, but these days he doesn't even bother with that.
  • Jason always has a runny nose.
  • On the other hand, Jason hasn't had an ear infection in a couple of months. (Here Juliette will want me to knock on wood. I did.)
  • In the past month or so Jason has started "reading" on his own. Rather than sitting on our laps while we read to him, he likes to flip through a book on his own and shout out what's on each page. He even has a favorite place to read: in the living room on top of the wicker toy box we bought him last month. He does skip pages here and there, but on the other hand he's also figured out how to hold books the right way up.
  • Jason still needs more practice eating with utensils, but he's getting better.
  • Lately Jason has started crying when I drop him off at daycare. As soon as it looks like I'm going to leave, he starts jumping up and down and grabbing my legs. It's difficult for me. Still, his teachers report him having a good day most of the time, and besides that he also gets upset when it's time to go home.
  • Jason will offer you hugs, but will sometimes use the opportunity to bite you on the shoulder.
  • Jason loves to blow bubbles in his bath water, but he still hasn't quite figured out how to time his breathing so bath time inevitably involves some coughing and spluttering.

It's funny how quickly things change with kids, and how fast these little moments pile up. I keep wondering what he's going to do next. Fortunately, I get to find out.