April 30, 2008


Cochon: French for pig, Unfinished Dad for love. Our last meal in New Orleans was so by far the best, that writing about it is almost certainly futile. Yet I will forge ahead and attempt to impart to you some of the joy that this meal gave to me. Detailing the ingredients and manner of cooking for each dish is beyond my epicurean knowledge. I lack the lexicon and kitchen experience. But what I can tell you is how they tasted and how I felt about them.

Before we get to the meat of it though, I would like to give a quick shout out to the restaurant as a whole for combining superb service and food with an atmosphere that was completely welcoming to a ten month old. A few weeks before we left for our trip, my wife asked the many readers of Chowhound for recommendations on baby friendly dining in New Orleans that was still adult in cuisine. The response was interesting in that some were very supportive of our choice to bring Annie, but a few (check out N.O.Food’s comment) were clearly opposed to it. Cochon turned out to be perfect. The tables were large enough for her to play, the din was such that her babbling was not an issue, and the staff, naturally, was enamored with my baby.

Okay, the food.

First: Deep fried boudin balls. For you Yankees out there, boudin is a combination of sausage and rice that is typically stuffed into a traditional casing. I have been intrigued by boudin (pronounce boo-dan) since our first drive to New Orleans in the fall, when it appeared on many, many signs. It became clear that boudin was a cultural phenomenon when, the further south we drove, the more its availability swelled. By the time we reached Baton Rouge, this ubiquitous meat could be found not only at food purveyors, but also at every gas station we passed.

The Cochon version of Boudin was probably a bad way for me to be introduced to Louisiana’s State Meat. Their lightly packed, deep fried balls were what I have always dreamed a hush puppy should be. Forget filling a golf ball sized bite with nothing more than cornmeal; fill that thing with salty meat and rice, then top it was some spicy whole grain mustard.

Also First: Deep fried pig ears. Can you tell the direction this meal is headed? There really isn’t much to say about deep fried pig ears that you can’t already imagine. I will tell you a couple of things about them. One, having cooked an entire pig once a year for the last ten years at my family’s annual pig roast, the ear is very tough. It is something traditionally given to dogs. Cochon gets around this by cutting them into slivers before frying and then laying them in a pretty little tee-pee over mustard. This dish was my least favorite of the night, but scores high on the “you ate what?” scale of dining.

Main: Oyster and bacon sandwich. Every time I eat out with my wife she gives me a distressed look while I peruse the menu for something new and exciting. I can see her turn green (during two pregnancies, nausea has been a villain lurking around every corner) each time I order a variation of some animal’s liver or marrow or brain. Consequently, she likes me to order something that we can “share.” Yech. Eating out is about gorging on what you love. However, I am sensitive to my woman’s needs at this time and passed up the fried rabbit livers, the pork cheeks, and the grilled tongue for a sandwich whose concoction was imagined just for me. Let me explain it this way. Take some oysters and deep fry them. Make your own bacon. Stack multiple pieces of both between two pieces of toast and dress with homemade mayonnaise, tomato and lettuce. Add hint of lemon. Eat.

Also Main: Louisian cochon, with turnips, cabbage and cracklins. In the spirit of sharing, my wife ordered the one dish that I refused to go home without. The recipe for this dish must be as closely guarded as a nuclear launch code. The best I can do is that they slowly roast the most delicate pig meat, then form it into a casserole on top of sweet turnips and cabbage and bake it until the fat gets crispy. For added measure they then top it with cracklins, a new word for me that is defined simply as deep fried ribbons of pig skin. Yes!

Extra: Broccoli and pecan rice dressing. The pecan is even more common in Louisiana then boudin. From pralines to pies to golf courses. Yes, I have walked the fairways of Louisiana’s golf courses and eaten pecans fallen from the trees above. This dish was a nice complement to my porcine gluttony; a sweet amalgam of broccoli, rice and sugary pecans baked in a small dish so that the edges were almost dessert like.

Dessert: Strawberry cobbler. My wife loves her a good cobbler. Cochon’s was great. Hot, crispy, syrupy, and ridiculously decadent. The three of us gobbled this one up faster than I would recommend, both because we didn’t savor it and because once a ten month old tastes whipped cream (especially the homemade variety) they turn into crazed cream-raged monsters. My wife literally had to leave the restaurant while I finished my dessert. The only thing that could have made this dish better would have been N.O.Food sitting next to us while Annie clawed to get her fingers in more cream.

Also Dessert: Chocolate pudding parfait. The dessert course is one that my wife likes to pick for me because she knows that chocolate is the only direction I head. Typically, I don’t even read the menu. The parfait I was served was made with two puddings, one dark, one light, and topped with whipped cream. I was alone with my parfait when a cab was hailed outside. So I inhaled it all, much to the detriment of my digestive track and the pacifier and wipes that were left behind, as I was whisked out of a new favorite place to eat.

April 28, 2008

N'awlins Redux

Greetings from New Orleans. We drove down here on Saturday morning for a couple days of work and a couple days of play. I wrote about a trip that we made here back in September and it was obvious that we had a pretty rough week. The combination of excessive heat, a baby that wasn’t sleeping, and a city that was eerily quiet, nearly undid us.

At the time, New Orleans seemed a forgotten city. And while I know almost nothing about the subject, things seem a little more alive this time around. Much of it may have to do with the weather (nothing above 80) and time of year. However, looking back I seem to remember being overwhelmed by the task at hand. Annie was 10 weeks old and could barely function. The heat was dangerous for her and that limited us to very short stints outside. Cabin fever settled on us heavily while we were cooped up in our little hotel room.

This time around we are out and about and there are thousands of others joining us. Any city’s streets are more welcoming when teeming with people, even if most of them are wearing t-shirts tucked into their shorts, stacked on top of white rumpled socks and Reeboks. Their collective pasty kneed reflections are cause enough for sunglasses. How is it possible that this is the traveling American man’s costume de rigueur, no matter the city?

In keeping with family tradition, this weekend’s itinerary has been centered on food. We had hoped to go someplace “special,” but little Annie has not been the best behaved baby when surrounded by other people eating. We have been trying to teach her the sign for “more,” but most times she simply slams her hands on the table and yells. Funny, this works too. Instead, we decided to eat in a more homey fashion.

On Sunday morning we went to Elizabeth’s for breakfast and stuffed ourselves with, as the sign says, “real food done real good.” The sign is right. I had crab cake eggs benedict with grits, and get this, praline bacon. Incidentally, I’m a pray-line guy, while most down here say praw-lines. Kristen dutifully chose fried green tomato eggs benedict with hash browns. If any of you northerners are wondering what praline bacon is, I’m glad. It comes down to bacon (yum) covered in crushed pecans and caramelized sugar (yum). Simple, fattening, frighteningly delicious.

Sunday evening was marked by another New Orleans classic. We went to Acme Oyster House for, well, oysters. My guess is that there are hole-in-the-wall places that serve better, more authentic food. But who could pass up the chance to eat oysters (none for mom), gumbo, jambalaya and hush puppies, all while looking out at The Hustler Club? New Orleans, if nothing else, is very accepting of vices. It’s a great town, although the two men that were holding up huge signs in Jackson Square detailing the top 20 signs that you may love the Devil would beg to differ. My personal favorite was “loud mouthed woman.” Nice.

We woke up this morning after an uninterrupted night’s sleep and said goodbye to mom as she trudged off to the courthouse. Naturally, Annie and I took advantage of our alone time by walking a few blocks over cobbled streets and glinting patches of sun to Café Du Monde for beignets and au laits. What was I saying about that line I’ve been straddling?

April 25, 2008

The Bird

Throwing up. Whining. Waking me up in the middle of the night. Erratic pooping schedule. What’s that you say? Tough week with Annie? Hmmph, I only wish. The member of my family that causes me the most consternation is our beloved dog Zoe. She’s ten years old and still does all the things that a puppy does. Never in your life will you meet a more attention desperate being. She’s the kind of dog that you can pet for an hour, and when you get up off the couch to grab a drink she scratches you, turns up her sad brown eyes and says, “What, you think you’re done?”

Normally during the day she steers clear of Annie on account of her incredibly pullable ears, but we’ve seen much more of her this week as she has been a little under the weather. Like usual, this is her own doing. Two nights ago I heard a gurgling noise and thought that the faucet in the bathroom was leaking. After a few hazy, sleepy minutes however, I pinpointed the sound to Zoe’s stomach. Uh-oh. She soon settled down and the next morning all seemed well. Annie and I went to Dad’s day out and when I got back from the supermarket I kicked off my sandals preparing to write. The moist, squishy feeling of dog vomit was not what I expected upon entering the kitchen.

I peered down and saw that it was not the usual fare. Well, not for most dogs. I was standing in a tattered ball of dog hair, partially digested Pedigree, and a dryer sheet. Dryer sheets will definitely upset your stomach. When I went into the bedroom to check on Zoe I found an identical ball on the bathroom floor. Two dryer sheets will usually put you in a coma. Luckily for Zoe her day improved after these regurgitations. Her poops were normal and she was even happy to let Annie tug those tantalizing ears of hers.

This morning dawned bright with new vigor and zeal from our little puppy. She was bouncing off the walls to go out and enjoy the day. My wife went into the closet to put on her shoes and did a double take before figuring out what lie at her feet. Another Zoe special, only this time with a mystery attached to it. A wool belt from one of her sweaters was half balled up and covered in saliva. On top of this mess was the third (and final?) dryer sheet. Why would Zoe try to eat a four foot long belt? The best I can do is that she used it like a lure and hooked that pesky sheet so that she could pull it out.

At this point, one can only wonder if there are more down there somewhere. It’s hard to believe, but who would have thought even three could fit? I guess when you think about it, a fourth or fifth would be less than surprising. To illustrate this, the below list details some of Zoe’s past digestive highlights.

1. One 12 inch piece of packing tape
2. One large beetle off DC street
3. One large pine cone off DC street
4. One large, live rat off DC street (attempted),(twice)
5. One apartment’s worth of own fur (methodically vacuumed all corners)
6. One dead bird (whole)

And this is just what we have either seen go in or out. The list, if Zoe made it, would be much, much longer. Have you ever seen that guy who ate an airplane?

April 23, 2008

The tarzan stroke

“If we had done that you would have drowned.” This was the answer my parents gave about why they didn’t purchase one of the many houses located on the water in Highland Lakes, New Jersey. They purchased their house directly in between two picturesque lakes (yes, the two on the left), for $26,000, in what I would guess was 1963 or ’64. Granted, I grew up with an acre of land awash in nature, complete with babbling brook, but Highland Lakes isn’t what you would call a real estate hotbed. When my parents moved there, they actually had to sled in their food from about a half mile away if it snowed. They could have had any piece of land they desired. I think they could have had an island if they wanted.

So, why the fear of drowning? It’s simple really. My father grew up in Manhattan and my Mother grew up in Queens. The water they saw as children was either spouting out of a fire hydrant or had a fragrant bouquet of hot dogs boiling in it. Naturally, when they moved 50 miles west of the city the crickets weren’t the only thing they were scared of. By the time I got around to taking swim lessons it was too late. I must have been around six or seven, because I remember being much more fascinated with the way my teacher was poured into her swimsuit than learning any strokes. I was awful, but I always wanted to go back. If my mother had ever asked to see how I was progressing she would have known something was amiss. I bet that if you asked my brother about his experience he would relate the same memory. Damn, I even remember her name.

Today Annie started swim school. I know, sweet segue. The mothers of two children in Gymboree have been telling me how their kids are like fish in the water lately and the jealousy got to be too much. On Monday I signed Annie up and today at 10:45 she entered the pool for the first time. Now, if you grew up like I did this will come as a complete shock to you. My mother and brother thought that I was joking when I told them. It went pretty much as you would expect. Annie cried 90% of the time while I held on for dear life. I was able to calm her down in the beginning, but the first time the teacher helped her “swim” under water to me, we were both in complete shock.

This probably sounds a bit like torture, but they assure me that I should withhold judgment and that by week three she will be confident and happy. Funny though, that there were kids twice Annie’s age screaming more than she was. Like anything else when it comes to teaching children (sleeping, eating, clapping), repetition is the key. For my little girl Pavlov knew best. Ring, ring.

April 22, 2008

Make it work

Have I told you how much I love my wife? It sounds funny, and I know that almost every husband does, but I really love my wife. Our personalities complement each other like crawfish and Tony’s, or three meat plates and my belly. She learns something new seemingly every week. Whether it’s devouring a new book or making something for Annie, she is always pushing herself to discover more. This is nice, because while she does that, I try to perfect all the stuff I never quite figured out.

This weekend, well Sunday afternoon, she made the outfit you see below. Keep in mind that she only had a pattern for the pants. I was so proud to show little Annie off today at school, so I took pictures to commemorate the occasion. Here’s hoping that one day she has her mother’s craving of knowledge and my craving of multiple meats on one plate. Oh, and I did help with the project…I picked out the buttons.

April 21, 2008

The good new days

Weekends were something I used to count down to just like anyone else. I knew that on Friday night I would go out for drinks, that on Saturday morning I would sleep in, and that on Sunday I would play softball, or golf, or tennis, or basketball…you get the idea. In between all of this activity I would do, well nothing. I loved weekends, for the freedom they possessed and because I hated my job. They were a 48 hour reprieve from the monotony and stress of an unfinished life. Nothing could top those old days of late morning breakfast sandwiches—if you live here in LA, you may not know what I’m referring to—and Sunday rounds of golf with friends.

Or so I thought until Annabelle started to grow into the little clapping, ball throwing (more on that later in the week) giggling little girl she is. I’ll never have that feeling of gleeful irresponsibility of the old days again, but I don’t really want them. Now, when Friday night comes around and my wife comes home from work just a short half an hour earlier than usual, Annie and I are both alight with smiles. We know that we get not a 48 hour reprieve, but 48 hours of love and learning and time together that weekdays just don’t afford. So the good old days were good, but when my head exhaustedly hits the pillow on Sunday night this feeling of content can’t be beat.

This weekend, despite all of the lovely weather, and dinner with friends, and another great birthday furnished by my wife, was highlighted by an unexpected surprise. I got a funny update on an old friend that I wrote about months ago upon our arrival in the south. You may remember her as the potential caregiver for Annie who, in a very collegial way, informed us that "black people in the south would just as soon shoot us as say hi to us.” Lovely gal. Well, I saw her in our local supermarket berating a clerk because they didn’t have the cut of beef she wanted. He very clearly couldn’t believe that someone could get that worked up over meat, but she was acting like a hungry junkyard dog, so he did the smart thing…he passed her off to someone higher up the Brookshire’s food chain. Like I said, lovely gal.

April 20, 2008

...and swingin' in the park


It's Sunday, a day for sleeping in, chillin' with dad, and playing with your new favorite toy, which just happens to be a balled up sock.

April 17, 2008


If you will kindly look to your right, you'll notice that the two competing Pearl Jam playlists have been taken down. I have done this for three reasons: One, I wanted to play more with my new toy, two, you seem quite bored with the indundation of Pearl Jam, and three, to cut the voting short, assuring my victory.

In their place you will find a new player. A parenting decision that my wife and I have made is that Annie will not watch tv (except for PTI). A consequence of this is that we listen to a lot of music, which is something I love. However, a problem arose after a few months...the music in my library got stale, so I have been buying up music at a frantic pace. There have been a lot of great finds and some real clunkers, but the excitement of discovery is what it's all about.

Each week I'm going to throw up five songs for your perusal. They won't all be new to me, but they will be tunes that Annie and I have on heavy rotation. Enjoy.

Doing the three things I love

The Wife is out with the other wives tonight pretending to play Bunco and drinking margaritas. Their shindig gives me some rare alone time at night. I’m dvr-ing The Office, 30-Rock, Scrubs and Eli-Stone so that we can watch them later, and in the meantime I’m getting some writing done, so this post will be short. It feels very strange to post at a time other than Annie’s nap. I can’t get used to the idea of not being up against a deadline.

I spent the day taking a golf lesson in the morning and cooking all afternoon. The lesson was great, although I’m always humbled when in the presence of someone who really hits a golf ball. This does two things to me: It reinforces the excitement I feel when I improve, and totally depresses me, because I will never, I mean never, hit them like Chandler. In an attempt to remedy this, we are next week going to film my swing and dissect the hell out of it. I find myself contemplating whether this is such a good idea. It’s kind of like having a girlfriend who you know is cheating on you and just as you open her diary you wonder to yourself if it’s really worth knowing how bad it is.

The cooking I was doing was a great beef stew that is made up of 12 cups of various mushrooms (the dried porcini soaked broth is best) and 4 cups of baked red onions with some rosemary and parsley. Simple and yummy. After that I had to make the guacamole for Bunco night, because had my wife made it last night it would be brown and wet. Plus I love making guacamole…one spoon in the Tupperware, one spoon in the belly.

April 16, 2008

My New Love

The stay at home dad life that I lead has allowed me to pursue the things that have haunted me throughout my adult years. I will never tell you that this is an easy job, but it is the only one that I have worked in which I get a couple of hours every day to do whatever I want. I just had a thought. Before I delve into the perks of my life, I should do a semi-accurate calculation of how much free time I actually have during the week.

Naps: 2.5 hours per day (usually)
Dad’s Day Out: 4 hours two times weekly
Total: 16.5 hours

Hmm, that’s even more than I realized. Now I feel guilty

Cleaning: -1 hour per day
Getting up at night: -.5 hours per day
Getting back to sleep at night: -.5 hours per day (I'm getting old)
New Total: 6.5 hours

There, that’s better.

Well, in those 6.5 hours that I have every week, I get the chance to right some wrongs. I will tell them to you in order of importance. Number one, writing. I have wanted to be a writer since high school and for a variety of reasons (fear, my family, and immaturity, to name a few) never tested the water. Number two, golf. I was wronged as a child. The only golfer I knew was my Uncle Joe, and he was so nerdy (think yellow polo, bright green v-neck sweater and crisp khakis on the course) that I wouldn’t have been caught dead hitting golf balls. Of course, after writing the previous sentence I now want to go and buy that outfit. The point though, is that due to my late start, I have a self taught swing that is somewhat nice to look at, and utterly worthless.

Now, the last long lost love of my youth is cooking. As my mother will attest, before writing and golf, there was the kitchen. I loved to cook as a kid and there are embarrassing pictures of me making meatballs as an eight year old to prove it. In high school I used to tell my friends that I would have my own cooking show. It would one day geniously combine two things I loved, cooking and mooning people (please don’t ask). It would of course be called The Full Moon Chef. To this day I feel that the Naked Chef must have been some eavesdropping classmate of mine that I don’t remember.

I seem to be getting off topic again. Last night I was in the mood to actually cook, as opposed to mindlessly throwing together something I’ve made countless times before. Every family gets into these cooking ruts; as kids there was a London broil or baked chicken every week. Don’t worry Mom, I still love both. So last night I borrowed a recipe from one of my wife’s favorite blogs and tore up the kitchen. I will let the recipe speak for itself, but let’s just say that chiffonading basil really is fun and that I do realize heavy cream does not jive with my new diet.

April 14, 2008

Sonic Anyone?

I’ve been conspicuously straddling a line lately. Unfortunately, it’s a line that I don’t want to acknowledge. Since I began my life as a sedentary stay at home dad this has become more and more difficult. Every day a new sign that I need to make a change reveals itself; a photo of some old guy throwing horseshoes at the beach who turns out to be me, or Annie’s discovery of a new favorite drumming surface.

The line I stand here straddling is the line between regular Joe, who hasn’t been skinny since college, and fat Joe, who may or may not be starting to stoop. Before the start of my new career, I was still able to suck it in when the situation called for it and keep most of my dignity. Now I fear that those days are over. There comes a time when a man has to cut ties with the old and embrace the new. Every time I try and suck it in now I look like one of those guys who goes to the bar, hits on girls that are twenty years younger then him, and refers to his jeans as dungarees.

To top it off, I just found out that my cholesterol is high. This additional complication is easily be explained by our stay in Louisiana (we fry just about everything down here), but it still needs to be addressed along with Abe. Oh, that’s the name of my new stomach. My problem, of course, is that when you are home all day it becomes very easy to say, eat a whole box of Cheez-Its while watching PTI. When you couple that with my lack of exercise, you get one fat daddy.

Stage one of evicting Abe is to start shopping more healthily. Gone are all of the processed foods from the cupboard. They have been replaced with fruits, vegetables and nuts. Gone is the 2% milk, replaced with 1%; no I won’t start with skim, I would truly rather die. Gone is the butter, replaced with margarine. Gone is the half and half for coffee…ha, if you know me at all you know I’d rather eliminate a leg. Gone, sadly, is my French press. It turns out that when you brew coffee by pressing it you take in significantly more cholesterol. In one study, the people who pressed their coffee had a 10% increase in LDL (that’s the bad one).

All of this should add up to lower cholesterol and a smaller, more svelte Abe. I don’t really know how long this will take, but I figure re-testing when we get back to New Jersey (that’s the armpit of America goincrazee, okay?) would be a good time. We will no longer be in the saturated fat belt, and with two kids I’ll be running around enough too lighten up two fat dads.

April 11, 2008

Hammer and Sickle

Yesterday someone posted a comment on Unfinished Dad in Spanish. I could only pick up on a few of the words due to the fact that my high school wasn’t the best academically. Over four indistinguishable years of Spanish I was allowed to skate by on a few curses and the ability to quickly write the answers on my desk before every test. First I tried to translate with some Spanish to English online dictionaries, and then I remembered that my sister-in-law (who is a rock star and who I look up to as if she were a face on Mount Rushmore) is fluent in Spanish and has spent a significant amount of time in Central America. Her translation didn’t mean much, the author is basically spamming for hits on his blog, but the implications are far reaching. Let’s just say I’ve somehow found my niche.

From what she could glean from the babblings of Colonel Almodiga Batista (that has a nice ring to no?) my new found audience is none other than those fun loving communists that are still dispersed throughout the world. Now, I’ve told you that I love tracking my readers through Google Analytics and yesterday we here at Unfinished Dad experienced a bubble. On a normal day, 15 to 20 of you log on, mostly from the United States, and check in on Annie and me. However, yesterday there were 39 visitors from 13 different countries. While perusing this list, some classic socialist states appear prominently: Russia, Czech Republic, Germany and Argentina. How can I explain this?

The only guess I will hazard is that on Wednesday I was referred to as General Poulas by my wife, and somewhere out there in some socialist corner of the world, millions of people are being paid identical wages (very low I’m sure) to identify like minded bloggers. Once your General (it sounds better when you replace the English G with an H) was unveiled to the rest of the world, his words just spread like proletariat wildfire.

April 10, 2008


Annie was unleashed on the public today. She appeared in a fashion show for our friend Trish, who own's a delightful store in town. We had lot's of fun and Annie enjoyed herself despite being hungry and tired. Below are the pictures from the event, they make me feel guilty that I don't dress Annie this way every day. Sorry Grandmas.

April 9, 2008

Intercepted Transmission

The following text was intercepted this morning by General Joseph R. Poulas while assiduously monitoring the electronic mail chatter in the little known world of baby moving.

TEAM: Here are the details of your mission, should you choose to accept it.

1. Occupy year old insurgent, Annabelle Poulas (CODENAME: SPRINKLE), while General Poulas packs base camp in preparation for the move.
2. Roll Kristen (CODENAME: FAT GIRL) onto plane headed for NJ
3. Accompany and Protect FAT GIRL and SPRINKLE on their journey to NJ
4. If FAT GIRL should detonate, i.e., go into labor on plane, promise not to panic


DATES: FAT GIRL and SPRINKLE will be flying from HELLHOLE SWAMP to NJ at approximately 0900 hours, Saturday, July 12th. General Poulas will need assistance with the insurgent SPRINKLE for a few days before the flight.

QUALIFICATIONS: Perseverance, good humor, comfort with poop, familiarity with finger foods.

BENEFITS: If you choose to accept this mission, you will receive the following:
1. Unlimited BEER
2. Whatever sustenance is available in HELLHOLE SWAMP
3. The company of SPRINKLE, who can be quite charming
4. Our undying love and affection

Team, this FAT GIRL cannot fly home alone! I hope that some brave souls among you have the courage and the fortitude to accept this mission. If you deem yourself worthy of such an endeavor, please contact FAT GIRL for further details.

Signing Off,


April 7, 2008


The excitement over Annie’s onrushing adulthood caused me to neglect another milestone she reached last week. On Thursday night when my wife got home from work, Annie gave her the perfect surprise…a spontaneous bout of clapping. She and I have been working on this for a couple of weeks now, but I thought it was still some time off. Unlike her kissing a boy in public, I think this is a benchmark moment that I can get behind.

What I have found so amazing about clapping, is that it's the first manifestation of a physical act that required a true line of thought. All of the other movements in her life (crawling, standing, laughing) have been a matter of instinct. However, with clapping, she had to observe, calculate, and then act. I’ve been so excited about this. All weekend we have seen her mimic our actions more and more; both cute (clicking her tongue on the roof of her mouth), and not so cute (simultaneously yelling at the top of her lungs with my wife in the back seat of the car). Thanks honey.

I love that she now has a way to express herself other than crying. Last night when she woke up five times (yech, more on that some other day, I don’t have the strength) she should have clapped instead of screamed. I would have been so much happier about losing those few hours of sleep.

April 4, 2008

Seriously, I'm not kidding

Well people, it’s time for a little chat about the birds and the bees. You see, sometimes two people just come together at the right time and fireworks go off. They happen to meet, say when there is a full moon, and they both just got haircuts, and they both happen to be wearing their favorite jeans. In a cosmic stroke of good luck, he says the right thing about Obama’s 37 and she laughs, then she happens to know that the Yankees lost last night and he is totally smitten. It’s love from the start and there’s nothing anyone can do about.

I know, it’s the same story time and time again. Young men and women meet and fall in love. They have children and the beautiful process begins again. How young though, can these magical little sparks appear in people? When I was in sixth grade I had a “girlfriend” who I barely ever talked to, and even forgot that we were “going out” when I went home for the summer. The next year, at the start of seventh grade, I was greeted with evil looks from her and her friends, and immediately realized that I wasn’t a single man. Well, I was actually. I just didn’t arrive there the way I presumed.

I was 12 when this took place and a full two years from the first time I would come home dumbstruck and tell my father I was in love. I understand though, that the kids these days are dating sooner then I ever dreamed. Today, astonishingly, I witnessed this cultural phenomenon first hand…with my own 9 month old daughter.

Gymboree was coming to a close, with a rousing rendition of the parachute game…

Up, up, up to the very top
(James, class leader and all around cool dude saunter crawls to the middle of the gym mat)
Down, down, down on their heads it stops
(Annie, class cutie and all around little charmer coquettishly wanders off under the cover of a nylon rainbow)
Up, up, up to the very top
(James’ mother and I exchange glances across the dome that is a rising 20 foot parachute as we are sure one of our kids is about the pull the other’s hair)
Down, down, down on their heads ker-plop
(After a tiny little second, when the parachute is on the way up, the record skips and all the other moms stare in utter disbelief as James and Annie lock lips in the middle of our parental circle. Time stands still while we all let go and the chute flutters away. The two babies steal one last kiss, um, yeah, three last kisses, and the class erupts in red-faced laughter.)

I’ve been trying to get Annie to kiss her dad for weeks now, only to find out that she has had eyes for another man all along. Their Gymboree wedding is going to be the party of the year. Gymbo is of course officiating.

Every single part of the preceding story is 100% true. I really did forget that I had a girlfriend in sixth grade and Annie really did kiss a boy today (four times) in front of about 12 amazed onlookers.

April 3, 2008

Like Great Grandfather, Like Grandfather, Like Father, Like Daughter

I never know what to expect when I pick up Annie from Dad’s Day Out. Invariably she does not behave the way she would at home. Most notably, she refuses to nap while under their care. I’ve already told you that at home she has been napping for at least three hours a day, but at DDO they are lucky if she goes down for 30 minutes. I was confident that this week would be different and asked the wonderful ladies there to put her in a crib in the “dark room” at 10 a.m. On both Tuesday and Thursday they were met with lonely cries and standing, leading to their inevitable rushing in the get a little more face time with the cutest baby on this planet earth.

This I can live with, especially if like Tuesday she naps for three hours when she gets home. Today though, my wife was met with a little surprise when she went to pick Annie up. You see, Annie loves a certain play table very much, and often stands near it banging various plastic buttons and oversized piano keys. Apparently, she can stand there holding on for most of the day. Today would be a bit different. The other girls in her class decided that they also liked the idea of getting a little standing practice while being stimulated by brightly colored molded plastic.

Now, the rest of the details are hazy, but fisticuffs ensued while my little scrapper fiercely defended her turf. I know not if she ultimately won, but only that she came out of it with a bite mark on her hand. The ladies were diplomatic enough to not tell us who did the biting, but I will definitely be checking their little mouths next Tuesday and taking imprints CSI style so I can compare at home.

A quick food note for you:

I was running late to pick up Annie, because I was droolingly awaiting my Reuben Po’boy from Deli Casino. This is flat out the best sandwich in town, made at the best deli in town. When my wife first took me there a few weeks ago I took one smell of the place and one look at the owner and knew he was from New York. He looked like half of my father’s family. The situation required my asking a total stranger where he hailed from. Turns out Sam George is not only a terrific guy, but a native New Yorker. I will have to make up for lost time and eat there as much as possible over the next few months. If for no other reason, parting will be such sweet sorrow.

April 1, 2008

Discoveries are fun!

Annie seemingly learns something new every week now. This past week she has discovered how much fun it is to have a tongue. Not only is it a good appendage for eating, it's also great for making faces, and it's simply perfect for doing both at once.