Observations on Fatherhood

Daniel S. Weld

Anxious waiting broken by the expected phone call. Margaret's voice unexpectedly coy - she's hiding good news! Absolutely unbelievable. We rush to the fountain and hug in the sun, gazing into each others face, surrounded by spring, ducks and the Mountain. She recounts Nancy Klein's words on the phone "We did it!" Could this be happening to us? Could this actually be real? Realizing the odds, but unable to hold back a vision of new life. Loving each other. I've never been happier.

After two months of helping Margaret through bedrest, fearing premature delivery, the expected induction was almost surreal. But when they broke Margaret's waters, and she was launched into the rapids of labor, the tempest was pretty shocking to watch. Contractions were back-to-back with no time to rest or recuperate. Fortunately, Margaret dilated quickly and after a mere two agonizing hours, her pleas for an epidural were granted. Now I'd heard from multiple sources that this form of pain relief had almost magical power. In fact one friend had such gratitude for her anesthesiologist, a man named Hans, that she would have bestowed the name on her child if she hadn't gotten a daughter. Before helping Margaret through labor, I thought this story apocryphal, but now I know better. If her anesthesiologist hadn't been a woman, I imagine that Margaret might have argued we switch our choices as well.

The delivery itself was amazing. Adam and Galen entered the world just 9 minutes apart as witnessed by about fourteen doctors and nurses. I did what I could, but even without me Margaret had a full squad of cheerleaders. Good thing too - I just couldn't keep a straight face while saying "What good pushes!" but Tanya and the nurses sounded so sincere. When Adam emerged at 2:43pm on 10/22/95 (my Mom's birthday!), he was so small and helpless. It's impossible to describe his first tiny cry. Galen almost swam out, riding the water slide of his breaking amniotic sac (Tanya couldn't jump back and so got soaked). I'm so happy for the videotape because it all happened so fast.

The next two weeks were frustrating. I had planned to take uninterrupted time off from work, but given that the boys had to stay at Swedish hospital, there was little for me to do. It made more sense for me to work so I could take time off when they came home. But of course I wanted to visit at night, so my schedule revolved around the bus trip to Swedish and my brief chance to feed and change them. A tiny amount of contact for 5-7 hours of travel/hospital time each day, but the contact was amazing.

I gather that many couples have an emotional homecoming with their child. The homecoming was emotional for me too, but the particular flavor was "panic." We took the two boys from Swedish to Childrens where I dropped Margaret and Adam, then I took Galen home alone. As soon as we pulled out of the Children's parking lot, Galen started to cry. By the time I got him inside, he was screaming. And I was alone. No Margaret. No nurses. Ok, I'm a new-age man. In fact, I thought I was pretty good at diapers and bottles, but that was the hospital routine. I had that wired. But here at home, nothing was in its place. I couldn't find the diapers. The breast milk was in the trunk of the car. There were no bottles to be found, nor any nipples. The wailing grew louder! Finally, I found the diapers and by removing the soiled one in preparation of its replacement gave Galen the opportunity he sought - pingo, pee all over Dad.

Once Adam came home from Childrens Hospital, we finally had our family. Spending days with the boys at home fulfilled many dreams, but the nights were another matter. The sleep deprivation didn't bother me (not until my reserves wore out a month later), but Margaret did. She started acting weird at night. We'd put the boys down nestled together in the cradle across the room and then climb into bed ourselves. Later, woken from a barely-begun sleep, I'd hear the cries and wonder if Margaret would get up to feed them (as we had agreed) or whether I should go and try to comfort them (a futile endeavor given my anatomy). Although the cries were escalating, Margaret wasn't moving; couldn't she hear them? I felt guilty that Margaret had full responsibility for feeding (even though we had agreed on this plan), so I felt hesitant to wake her. But finally, I nudged "I think Galen's hungry" I suggested quietly. "That's why I'm feeding him!" she responded. I got angry "What?! He's over in the cradle screaming" And she woke up "Oh, I was sure he was here in bed nursing - what a vivid dream!" On subsequent nights we had variations.

Dan: "Don't you think you should go feed Adam?"

Margaret: "That could be complicated."

Dan (incredulous) "Complicated?!?"

Margaret: "Because of all the babies here in bed." All she dreamed of were breasts, suckling, and rivers flowing with milk.

Some nights I would bottle feed the boys (not much relief for Margaret since she then had to pump, but they often ate more and hence slept longer after a bottle feed). And even when Margaret breast fed, I would get up to help change diapers and burp them. It's always hard to climb from the warm, sleepy, covers into the cold chill of the bedroom. But the sight of Adam or Galen gently stretching and slowly waking up is so wondrous that delight quickly overwhelms selfish annoyance. It's a joy to watch them wuffling heads back and forth in search of Margaret's breast. And once they both latch on, they stare, wide-eyed, watching each other, competitively sucking.

Galen in particular is fun to watch. He gets so frantically hungry that he often has difficulty realizing that the breast is right THERE in his mouth. But when he gets latched, he has a tremendous vacuum. Last night I realized why his sucking sounded so familiar. It was the same rhythmic noise of the gasoline pump at the service station: Chug, chug, CHING, Chug, chug, CHING.

Over Thanksgiving, Margaret's sister Anne and her husband Jona brought their newborn, Oliver, to Seattle. Only one month older, but boy is he big. And what an eater! Apparently, he keeps asking his mother "Please madam, could I have a bit more of that milk... with some milk sauce?"

(12/7/95) Unbelievable. I'd read cartoons about how new parents actually got excited about pop and drool, but when I came home from the departmental Christmas party, Margaret was bursting to tell me about her evening alone with the boys... "Galen had this really MASSIVE poop!" she exulted.

The boy's Bris. Lots of heavy feelings and concerns - especially in the 24 hours right before the event. But I don't wish to write about it. Instead, let me rejoyce in the fact that they are fine. And recount the funniest incident. Part way through, the rabbi figured that the mohel was probably ready with the preparations (in the nursery) and (going to get the boys) discovered that there was five minutes to kill. Delaying, the rabbi asks kids in attendence if there are any questions...

Silence. Then Una says "What's a bris?"

"Very good question" says the rabbi and answers with a long, philosphical discussion of the ritual's history and significance. Then, since there was still need for delaying tactics, he asked again "Any other questions?"

Casey chirps up: "Are the bow and arrows REAL?"

Margaret and I always used to remind each other that it is crucial to treat life as a process, not as goals and objectives. The boys make this ever more clear. It's incredible how fast they are growing - at seven weeks, they are almost double their birth weight. Focusing and tracking. Loving to be held. Hands gaining control. Smiling. The ultimate process.

(1/2/95) What a night. I came home late (8:15pm) after a hard day which started early. The AAAI deadline is only 6 days away and things are heating up. But I felt so bad missing a whole day of the boy's lives... The bike ride home rejuvenated me and once I arrived it was delightful to just hold and calm first Galen then Adam. (Margaret had already cooked a delicious meal). Felt so relaxing! But the simple pleasure of coaxing Galen to sleep on my chest was nothing compared to what was to follow...

While we ate dinner in the kitchen, the boys were in their car seats beside us. Adam was calmer now and waving his hands like a conductor. Suddenly I noticed that he was watching me intently, so I dropped to my knees and crawled over beside him... His eyes are locked on mine. I shape a grin and he suddenly matches it! Huge exaggeration! Eyes incredibly wide! Amazing! Such spasms of feeling! It goes on and on! His body writhes with it! A happiness seizure! I will never forget it.

Eventually it became to much and, overstimulated, he started to cry. The binky solved the problem, and 20 min later he was ready again. As I smiled at him, his eyes opened SO wide! Head wiggled and fussed as he tried to figure out what to do. Then the smile broke out - WOW!

It really seems like a momentous occasion. I wonder what is going on in his head. At some level, it's more incredible than learning to use one's hands. This is the first real communication with another being for him. Up until now it's all been a one-way cry for help, but tonight it was a two-way connection.

I had thought that we'd had social smiles before this, but they have been paltry affairs compared to tonight. They were gratifying, but just not of the same significance.

(1/9/95) The AAAI deadline is finally past --- papers express mailed yesterday at five --- and I got to managed to spend last evening and this morning actually watching and playing with the boys. How much they've changed in the past week! Adam seems to perceive the world in a completely different manner than the last time I really spent time with him. He really tracks objects, eyes shift from Mom to Dad and back when both are in proximity. It's an incredible learning phenomenon; I just can't imagine how much is going on inside his head, how he's figuring it out. Originally the stream of visual information had no structure, but now he can recognize human faces!? There must be some incredibly strong bias which directs the process. It's both magical and inspiring. It's also incredibly fun! Both Adam and Galen are giving lots of smiles now. Melts my heart.

A couple nights ago I came home from work at midnight, all tense and absorbed with technical (and political) issues. The bike ride thru crisp air cleared my mind and set the stage, but when I saw the boys I remembered how unimportant research is in the grand scheme of things. The boys are groing so fast that I simply must take a day off a week to witness the process.

(1/24/95) The boys are gaining control of all their muscles, and naturally their mouths come first. Their feeding behavior is very different from the tentative and uncoordinated initial efforts. Now they know what they want and are quite expert at getting it. At times they exude a calm competence in the pursuit of their food, and it reminds me of cowboys herding their cattle. If Margaret's nipple was a steer, the boy's mouth would be a lasso. The capture movement is a giant facial lunge, much like the leap into a saddle. Adam and Galen are breast cowboys.

(2/6/96 Hawaii Big Island) I tried taking the boys for their first swim in the ocean, and the frightening wailing which ensued suggests that they didn't fully like it. I controlled Adam's water landing by holding him in a mock standing position and gently lowering him towards the black sand which was periodically washed in a thin sheet of water. When his feet first touched a cold wave, Adam's little legs retracted up next to his body (knees splayed sideways) like the wheels of an airplane that refused the touchdown.

However, the ocean experience has caused me to notice how Galen (just a bit) resembles a wet flopping fish when he gets angry and frustrated - too hungry to eat, all stiff, neck whipping around, arms flailing. Like a sad and panicking grouper, out of water.

Nathan's bouncy chair has been a revelation. When we first put Adam in it, his eyes expanded saucer-like. The brightly colored toy bar fixed his eyes and his arms started their weird spasmic gyrations. The toys are so easy to grasp and so rewardingly pivoted on the bar that the slightest knock produces a gratifying jiggle or spin. One can almost see the reinforcement learning at work. Indeed, it's quite amazing how dramatically his behavior has grown in just two days. He now hits with much higher reliability (both hands) and frequently contects solidly enough to spin the toys for a loop. I think controlled grasping may be but a week away. How satisfying it will be for them to be able to put things in their mouth whenever they want. In the meantime, they are dedicated students: the combination of complete concentration with helplessly incompetent movements is incredibly endearing.

No matter how many times it happens, I can't seem to get used to the sudden surprise when one of the boys has an oral eruption. The ensuing river of fresh spitup soaks my shorts and races down my leg with shocking warmth. It feels strangely as if I was peeing in my pants. No, I don't like it, but it is somehow akin to a forbidden act, an illicit pleasure. Once past the shock, I yield to the experience and smile.

(2/20/96) Our week in Hawaii with David, Felecia and their baby Nathan was wonderful, but the trip has lead to a new avoidance behavior for Margaret now that we are back home in Seattle. Last night, when she woke in the wee hours to the sound of small, hungry wimpers, she simply nestled deep in the covers ignoring the cries. After all, she told herself, it's just Nathan crying, not one of my boys.

(2/24/96) In a surprising landmark, Adam exhibited purposeful grasping this morning. His look of intense concentration would have inspired the ape-suited actors from the beginning of 2001 A Space Odyssey in their discovery of fire. Indeed, we could almost hear the ghostly sound of Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra playing in the background. Meanwhile, Galen remains stuck in the excited batting stage. When I managed to trick him into holding the Squish, he then flailed his arm in such a way as to knock himself in the head.

(2/26/96) At the routine checkup today, Margaret asked our Pediatrician why babies drool; apparently Science has yet to solve this mystery, but the doctor did explain that the more talkative ones drool most copiously. Indeed, it is the squawking Adam who soaks his clothes and drenches ours with the precious substance.

Inspired by this soggy state, Margaret is considering applying her epidemiological skills to a prospective study correlating drooling in infancy with verbal performance during higher education. Perhaps this will lead to the ultimate early predictor of college admissions: the Salivatory Aptitude Test.

(3/2/96) Chip's birthday coming just a week after our boy's four month birthday emphasizes so many things. The Yin and Yang of life and death. The transitory nature of so many of life's joys. The danger of taking people and pleasures for granted. I just can't imagine how the death of Adam or Galen would hit me. How terrifying.

(3/16/96) We just returned from a week in Utah, camping in the desert canyon country with the boys. By day, we scrambled across slickrock, pushed between sandstone needles, and explored dark joint caves --- babies tucked securedly in snugglies. By night, Adam and Galen slept quietly in their own sleeping bags on either side of us. Sometimes when I woke, I forgot that I was a father - the owl's call across the quiet night, the bright stars, the smell of wilderness - it seemed natural, like so many of my camping experiences in the past. Then I'd hear a slight stirring to my side and I'd realize my sons were here too! Incredible.

Utah was the first chance for Nathaniel and William, ages 9 and 6, to meet their cousins. I was touched by their obvious love for the babies and their excited interest in playing with and singing to them. I also noted the sibling rivalry that Nathaniel and William displayed as we hiked during the day. The age difference affects the relationship so strongly --- William copying and competing his role model, Nathaniel needing occasional time away from the cloying dependence. With no age difference, Adam and Galen will have a very different relationship. The opportunity for companionship is great, but the danger of competition is commensurate. I wonder how it will develop?

After camping in Canyonlands, we faced the tortuous 7:30 drive back to the Salt Lake City airport. No way could the boys go that long between feeds, but we didn't feel comfortable driving with them out of their carseats. And if we stopped for nursing, that might make the trip 25% longer. Finally, my limber wife arrived at a solution. Climbing into the back seat of our Pathfinder, she arched her back, leaned over Galen, and managed to initiate breast feeding while he was safely in the car seat. The rear mirror view was quite hilarious.

(3/25/96) My secret confession: last night I was the last to bed; as I entered the dark and silent bedroom, I bent down by the bassinets and sniffed my boys. The moon had set and I couldn't see their faces in the shadow, but I felt soft breathing on my cheek. Slowly I sampled the air and savored the smell of my sons. I do this every night.

(3/31/96) At today's shower for Oren and Ruth, the soon-to-be parents asked for advice from all in attendance. One woman observed that everyone would be imposing suggestions, and noted that they should feel free to adapt (or ignore) anything that didn't seem right. This set me thinking about all the half-right advice I'd been given over the ages. For example, Douglas Adams in his famous book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy observes that the most important object is the common beach towel which should be carried everywhere. I'd adapt this one to refer to a spare diaper.

And the NRA warns agains walking around with a loaded gun not set to safety - it could be lethal. My interpretation: after feeding, always thump the baby's back until you hear the positive sound of the burb engaging safety - it's just as irresponsible to walk around with a loaded and cocked baby (even if the potential danger is a tad less terminal).

(4/9/96) During our weekly lunch, David shared his pride that Nathan has started crawling. Then, that evening, David calls chagrined. Someone has punctured his pride by explaining that true crawling requires the belly to be elevated from the floor; apparently, Nathan has only been scooting. The fine points of the distinction are lost on me (my boys can barely lift their heads off the floor when trapped on their bellies), but I'm touched by the degree to which David's honesty is tempering his bragging. "I just didn't want you to get the wrong idea about his accomplishments," David concluded the call.

Whether one calls it crawling or scooting, the drawbacks of the approaching milestones begin to sink in. Recently David and Felicia awoke at midnight to the sound of crying. Apparently, Nathan had rolled over in his sleep, scooted several feet to the side of his crib, risen high on hands and knees, and woke himself by bashing his head against the crib bars.

And clearly it's a hard lesson for Nathan to learn the ramifications of his new found power. Yesterday when we played together on the floor, Nathan was interested solely in scooting. But he didn't quite understand what he was doing. With each deliberate movement, Nathan backed farther and farther away from the rest of the group. As the distance separating him from David grew, Nathan grew ever more frantic. His face screwed up into an increasingy worried frown, but he couldn't grasp that his actions were responsible for the parting.

(4/14/96) Ruth delivered her baby boy last night. Watching anxious Oren these last few weeks brought back memories from the end of Margaret's pregnancy. How could I have forgotten the tense expectancy of the slowly approaching event? Like Oren, I remembered being worried about whether I would be ready, physically, to support my wife during labor if it dragged on for 36 hours or more. (Somehow, I never doubted that she could handle her part!).

And although Oren never mentioned it, I could see that he was scared that he might not love his baby. It comes back to me now, although it seems hard to believe --- I had that fear too. But how could I not love them? How fast time passes and how quickly I forget.

(4/22/96) Today is Adam and Galen's six month birthday! They seem so small to me, but they are so different from Oren and Ruth's son, Eli. It seems impossible that our boys were ever so inert, so compliant, so delicate as newborn Eli. Although my rational mind recollects that Adam and Galen together weighed less than Eli does now, it seems impossible.

(4/24/96) Springtime is magnificent in Seattle, signaled by an exuberant procession of daffodils, tulips, cherry blossoms, and dogwoods. But even more than the flowers, springtime for me is symbolized by the nesting shorebirds with their promise of fuzzy, yellow chicks. A month ago I spotted a well-concealed nest tended by two Canada geese --- built mostly of reeds and grass, the nest is perched on a tiny island in the middle of a stream entering Lake Washington. Since my bicycle commute takes me along the stream, I've been able to watch the nest carefully each morning and afternoon. For over a month, I've empathized with the parents' dedication to egg warming --- I would pedal towards the nest with anticipation and feel comforted to see the nest always well tended.

Unfortunately, yesterday brought torrential rains. Garbed in Goretex, I hunkered down for the ride to work, but when I reached the stream I everything looked different. The nest's island was swallowed by a flood and there was no sign of either bird. The scene struck me at a profoundly emotional level and I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. Although the rain had subsided by 6pm, the stream was still choked with muddy water and I could discern nothing from the bank. I felt suprisingly depressed, despite spotting the first chicks of the season not far from the stream. The gander hissed at me as I approached his gangly offspring, and I kept my distance not daring to hope that this was the family I had been watching so long.

This morning the waters receded. I left my bike and pushed through wet brush to find a fallen log which crossed the brook. Balancing carefully above the swampy flow, I approached the ruined nest. Four large grey eggs lay half-submerged in the chill water to one side of a soggy pile of straw. Abandoned. I couldn't quite believe that the depressing sight was real, and all I could do was think back to the many times when we thought (and desperately hoped) that Margaret was pregnant, only to be confronted by depressing truth. The years of trying and, later, months of bedrest were difficult, but how lucky our final result! Regaining my bike, I wondered what the geese were thinking, how much they understood. Did they morn? I wished the birds well.

(5/27/95) Stuffed in a 757 and heading towards Scotland, I fear my impending nine-day separation from the boys. Even more than their own growth, the inexorable passage of the past week (with my commensurate and growing dread) came to symbolize time's momentum. I hate being deprived from a week of their lives. I wonder how they'll change while I'm gone and whether they'll remember me when I return.

Since I've last writen in this journal, Adam and Galen have changed enormously. A month ago, when we placed them on their bellies to strengthen their necks, they hated it so much that we referred to the exercise as "Tummy Torture." But now, they like it! Although neither one is yet crawling, Galen wriggles all around and frequently rolls from back to tummy in seach of toy-induced, oral gratification. I wonder if he could begin scooting or crawling while I'm in Scotland? With the arrival of summer weather, our neighborhood has come alive. While it was the incredible abundance of children (thirteen of the fourteen families have two or more kids) which attracted us to the deadend block in the first place, only this year are we really integrating into the community. Afternoons and weekends see dozens of kids playing in the streets with parents trading off informal chaparone duty. Whenever anyone spots an appoaching auto, the warning "Car!" is raised and repeated by all the kids - it reminds me of the way tail-slapping resonates across a beaver pond at the first hint of danger.

The sense of community rains from the rhythms of the children - kids stream out of one house and flow into the next in an interconnected swirl of different games. With the addition of Adam and Galen, the flow extends to our house as well. A rainy afternoon will usually bring a knock, and Julia or Jessica or Kate will ask "Excuse me, but are the boys available for holding?" It's an extraordinary convenience having the extra helping hands, but more importantly, it's a great way to get to know new people. Until recently, most of my friends were exactly my age (with the exception of a few older couples), but now I'm getting to know some teenagers. I'm sad my parents live so far away, but our block is the next best thing to an extended family.

Indeed, the interactions between the neighborhood kids tell us much about ourselves... The other night as we relaxed in the Grant's yard across the street, the eldest daughter, Laura, left for a sleepover. ``I love you Mom!'' she called out in farewell ``I love you Dad!'' Then as an afterthought she turned to her younger sister and said ``Bye Julia, you're ok.'' While the incident was amusing at the time, it has come to symbolize a challenge to my marriage. Recently, as Margaret left for work in the morning she first kissed Adam goodbye, professing her love. Then she kissed Galen, telling him how much she would miss him. She was halfway to the door when my ``Aren't you forgetting someone?!'' stopped her in her tracks, and we both burst out laughing.

(6/7/96) During the nine days I was in Scotland, my boys changed so much. Fortunately, my nightmare that they would both forget me and learn to crawl was ill founded. As I entered the front door (after 21 hours of exhausting travel), I could hear them fussing and crying depite Margaret's best efforts at placation. But one look at my approaching face and they grew happy and excited. Arms reached out to be held. My dream come true! Their faces were subtly changed, their heft noticeably heavier, but they smelled the same! And I hadn't missed the transition to crawling.

However, Adam had learned to sit. What a change this imposes on life! Now, Adam is perfectly happy to simply sit in front of a big box of toys. He'll carefully select one, grab it, pull it loose from the tangle, chew on it, shake it, throw it to one side, and repeat with a different choice. Amazing.

Naturally, when we take the boys outside, they get considerable attention from passersby. The usual refrain goes "Oh, how cute! Are they twins?! Two boys? Are they identical? How old are they?" and we have the stock answers hard wired. One day we took the boys to nearby Greenlake which is circled by a paved trail and packed with individuals and families, walking, running, cycling, and rollerblading, clockwise and counter, both alone and with pets (dogs, cats, parrots and ferrets); it's as crowded as a zoo and crazy as a circus. It quickly became apparent that twins were quite common here, and happily we were largely ignored by the rank and file. Of course, we still felt a need to share statistics with other parents of multiples, but this we learned could be quite efficient. One man approached, jogging at top speed with a loaded double stroller and in the five seconds between first sighting and perigee blurted out "Twin fraternal girls; two years!" and we barely managed to respond "Twin fraternal boys; seven months!" before he vanished in the distance. Such efficiency.

(7/24/96) In the past week my boys made an amazing realization--- they could put food into their own mouths! Imagine the sequence of revelations from how wonderful it feels to drink milk when hungry, to the discovery that there exist other foods besides milk (e.g., stewed prunes and pureed green beans), to the recent blockbuster that they could feed themselves! Chunks of pasta, slices of toast, wafers of apple, and slivers of banana all make their way, slowly, imperfectly, but deliberately into their mouths. (Well, actually most of it ends up someplace else --- face, clothes, chair, floor --- but a bit makes it into their mouths!)

Their excitement with the process is tangible. No longer are they content to be fed, they demand an active role at dinnertime. Just sitting them in highchairs calms their fussy complaints for a while, but soon they start banging their hands on their tables until they are presented with Cheerios or Baby Biscotti (our name for Zweiback toast). Since they are just learning to feed themselves, we spoon feed them the bulk of their meals. Galen will eat most anything, but Adam has developed quite particular tastes. When offered a bite of Brown Cow yogurt, his mouth opens wide, but vegetables yield a very different expression!

Adam's other recent achievement is crawling. His first steps were two weeks ago when Nathan was visiting. We were sitting on the kitchen floor playing with toys, and Nathan was ambling around the dining room. When David called, Nathan zoomed into the kitchen, crawling incredibly fast. Adam stared intently and grew agitated as Nathan whizzed past him. Suddenly, Adam leaned forward and took his first steps, crawling two feet or so. It was very exciting, and he gurgled with self-satisfaction.

It took a while for Adam to repeat the achievement, but slowly his proficiency has grown. For the first week he couldn't crawl very far because he preferred to stretch out, reaching for his objective and this inevitably left him flopped out on his belly - a position from which he could not recover. I grew fascinated with the manner in which his motions evolved, day to day, by trial and error. Over a period of a week, intent exploration led him to the discovery of a mechanically stable way to transition from sitting to crawling and back. I'll always remember his look of triumph when he first spotted a toy, successfully retrieved it, and returned to sit and play with it. Now he has mastered the lift-from-belly-to-crawl maneuver, and is spending hours rising unsteadily into a toe-tip crouch and perfecting his balance, settling securely back onto his knees only when the ground threatens to claim him. Since my parent's house is not childproof, it is fortunate that he doesn't realized that he can easily crawl a dozen feet. Anything farther than three still appears unattainable and fails to motivate. But by repeatedly moving a desirable object (coffee mug, beer bottle or newspaper) away as he approaches we can spur him to athletic heights.

Naturally, Adam's ability to crawl provides him a considerable advantage over Galen in the sibling-rivalry arms race. Not long does Galen get to keep the choice toys!. Adam wheels into position, grabs the object before Galen even recognizes the threat, and confidently crawls a safe distance to play. We keep waiting for Adam's prowess to spur Galen's development, but his behavior appears stuck in an evolutionary trap. Long ago, he realized that by stretching his legs way out in front, he could use the tripod principle to stabilize the sitting position. (Actually, we're not sure whether he solved the physics equations analytically or if he reached this understanding via a brilliant intuitive leap.) In any case, the legs now prevent him from crawling towards a toy. He keeps trying and trying, valiantly leaning forward and slapping at the ground. But no matter how hard he struggles, the toys don't get closer.

(8/15/96) Galen still isn't crawling, but he has learned to spin around and around on the hardwood floor. It's very funny to watch, this lazy-susan routine, and its interesting to ponder why Adam never rotated like a top when Galen finds it so amusing. It's also interesting how the behavior equalizes the sibling-rivalry arms race. Now, when Adam stalks in search of a prize toy, Galen simply spins, keeping his back towards his predatory brother. Adam keeps trying the end-run, but Galen can spin faster than Adam can crawl!

(9/2/96) Galen finally started moving last week. While he still isn't doing a symmetrical crawl (he lunges forward with both hands, then uses his left foot to scooch his flacid right leg underneath his bum, and repeats), we can move surprisingly fast. Galen's new mobility combined with Adam's ability to climb stairs and pull into a standing position, makes for a huge potential disaster. Fortunately, the boys like to stay together. If we move one into the bedroom (to change a diaper, say) the other quickly appears. They don't really play together in any meaningful way, but they do make eye contact frequently and burst out giggling. Melts my heart.

(10/15/96) A month and a half have passed, but Galen still doesn't crawl in the traditional sense. He lopes like an injured soldier or a half-tamed animal. Indeed, his odd gait earned him the nickname "Monkey Boy." Meanwhile, tiny Adam crawls at a feverish pace. Since he often carries small toys in his mouth, he looks like a puppy. When he catches sight of some forbidden object in the distance, his short little legs pump at high frequency, shaking his round baby bum, and he recedes into the distance.

The past month has also changed the dynamics of the twins' toy-possession arms race. Although Adam still has a stronger grip and can force a toy from his brother's grasp, Galen seems now to have the advantage. His secret is a meticulous defense. When Galen senses Adam's predatory pursuit, he spins 180 degrees and lopes away. Adam rarely gets close enough to overpower his sibling. When the situation is reversed however, clueless Adam appears oblivious to the impending threat of his approaching brother. Galen simply sidles up and snatches; then spins and scrams.

Peach Apricot Muesli. It sure sounds good! But the boys know better. Somehow they sense the spoon's contents before it ever makes it near their mouths. Adam shakes his head, clamps lips shut and flails his arms in a (usually successful) attempt to deflect incoming mouthfuls. Galen can sometimes be tricked into a bite, but then... pause ... the mouth opens, tongue rolls back, and the complete spoon's contents is slowly and inexorably forced back out. The masticated mess rolls down the chin and impacts the bib.

(10/22/96) How can a whole year have passed? This should be a happy day, and indeed the boys are happy (although they have no idea all this fanfare is about them!), but it makes me sad. It reminds me too undeniably that time is an ever faster torrent. When I was a child, a morning could last soooo long. I remember watching Apollo 13 on TV and Dad saying that it would take three days for the astronauts to get to the moon. Three days?!? Sure, being the first person to walk on the moon would be cool, but three days was way too much of a sacrifice.

If the rivers of time flow ever faster towards the great fall, then my boys must still be floating in a placid eddy. But when I look at them, they don't seem placid?! They revel in life, experiencing the most dramatic ranges of emotion. Why is it that we seem less able to enjoy life the older we get? Do the river banks start moving by so fast that we become transfixed, unable to focus on the journey's pleasures for fear of reaching the final destination?

Today's observation: My sons are musical instruments, and my family is an orchestra.

Yes, it's true --- Galen loves to be played percussion. He lies on his back like an L, feet straight up in the air, supported by my lap. Sensing the performance is about to begin, he hums "Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" and I start rhythmically pumping his legs, thumping his belly, tapping his chest, and vibrating him into sound. He smiles and changes pitch. When our efforts merge in brilliant harmony, he becomes amazed at his output and laughs --- which really sounds funny, causing more laughter.

Meanwhile, Adam is on his back in Mom's lap, resonating away. So we play together, side by side, on the kitchen floor. The family orchestra.

Over time, Adam and Galen have grown to love baths. The mere sound of a tub running water draws Adam from the most distant room in the house. I hadn't thought that Galen felt as strongly, but this morning I learned otherwise.

Assuming Margaret and Adam were seconds behind me, I carried Galen upstairs and left him playing in the beroom whil I jumped in the shower. Seconds later he was standing against the side of the tub, batting at the shower curtain. I sang to him as I rinsed shampoo... Then heard a meaty thud and felt something wriggle against my ankles. I still don't know how he managed to climb over and fall in!

When Margaret and Adam finally arrived they were surprised to see Galen peering thru the steam, fully dressed, sopping wet, and very happy. He shed clothes and we cleaned up together.

The boys are fascinated with the concepts "in" and "out." Adam will spend hours on the kitchen floor placing bowls, first one in the other, and then vice versa. All the time, he has his tongue protruding in concentration.

Both love to open and close doors. With its swinging springy action, the kitchen door is best. They will crawl to one room, circle behind the door, then push it shut. There is a moment of tension when it rests closed, especially if the boys are separated. Drumming my fingers lures the hidden boys close to the door. Then I pull the door open and peer around to giggles. Once I prop the door open on the new side, Adam and Galen race for the chance to push it closed again.

(11/30/96) Adam has his projects. I have no idea how he decides what to focus on, but when he sets his mind to something he becomes completely pig headed. Don't even think of interrupting him, unless you are willing to brave a total tantrum.

So what does he do? Well, a few nights ago he was obsessed with the arch formed between the piano's two right legs. He crawled up and over, through the arch, then turned around and went back. Again. And again. Grunting with effort. Tongue out in concentration.

The next day it was the green ball. He'd ctach it, grab it, toss it onto the stoop leading towards the bedroom stairs, then climb onto the stoop, throw it off, climb off, and repeat. Over and over.

Today, it was the toy box. He emptied the red crate of toys (mostly), then climbed inside. Then climbed out. (Sounds easy, but the box's walls are pretty high, so it was a real challenge). And any challenge is worth savoring. Again and again.

Galen barfed all over himself and his bed just as I was putting him down last night. Blechhh. We gave him a bath. Changed the beddings. I put on new clothes. Started a load of laundry. Then Adam woke up and was upset so Margaret picked him up to comfort him and he barfed all over her. We put Galen back to sleep and ran the bath water again. Cleaned Adam off. Got him in new jammies. margaret changed clothes. We prepared to start a second load of laundry. Before we could, there was crying from the bedroom. Margaret picked up Galen while I comforted Adam who was very tired. Galen barfed all over Margaret again and this time it coated the floor, seeping into the plush rug.

Just another relaxing night at home...

That time of year again: the annual conference deadlines bring a mad rush of work-related pressure. While I'm excited by the research and amazed by our progress pulling three papers together, I hate the fact that I barely get to see the boys at all due to long hours at work. This morning it was especially hard to leave: Galen climbed into my lap, begging for bagel-bites and snuzzling me with love. Adam sat on the sidelines busily stuffing pieces of paper into a smoked turkey lunchmeat box from the recycling and concentrating hard with tongue distended.

(1/24/97) Having survived the IJCAI paper submission process, I returned home in the hopes of becoming reacquainted with my boys - it felt like I hadn't seen them in weeks. Alas, the much anticpated homecoming was a bit anticlimactic. The boys paid no attention to my arrival. When I tried to kiss him, Adam pushed me away with irritation and returned to his project: stacking blocks. A few minutes later when Heidi left us, both boys started crying.

I was chagrined to see how much they had changed in such a short time. They still don't walk, but their powers of destruction are many times magnified. Now the boys can climb up onto the basement table, where they have ripped the antenna off our portable stereo and where Adam is disassembling the CD player. Upstairs, Adam has defeated our expensive kitchen cabinet "child proof" locks and has free access to the Liquid Drano. (I always figured they'd get in the cabinets eventually, but I thought it would take them more than two months... I guess its time to upgrade to more expensive security measures: magnetic key cards perhaps or better still, retinal scan.

Galen's favorite activity concerns the toilet paper. I don't know how he gets in the bathroom, but in a few unsupervised moments he can turn a hundred-yard roll into a mass of confetti that makes our living room look like a nest of swarming hamsters.

They both love the scooters Heidi got them for Christmas. Now that they can both climb onto them unassisted, they mount together and stand proudly astride their "Hogs". A fearsome gang of biker boys, decked out in denim, looking cool with shades. Galen targets any tower of cardboard blocks, rolling as fast as he can (which isn't all that fast), reaching out once he gets near, and tumbling the stack earthwards.

Galen has taken to reading books by himself. He crawled out of the kitchen the other night and the house grew silent so I went looking only to find him sitting on the living room couch thumbing thru the pages of Goodnight Moon. Very sweet.

Adam meanwhile was molesting our cat. Calypso has gotten quite a bit more tolerant of him lately. Perhaps it's because he stalks her more quietly these days - the excited shrieking approach used to send her for a loop. Lately, Adam's first reaction to cat proximity is to stick his thumb in his mouth. Thumb sucking is actually a generic reaction to touching anything soft (his blanket for example), but Calypso simply looks so soft that her mere presence is enough to trigger the behavior. If he gets close enough, Adam will bow his head gently in a sign of love. It's very cute and notably gentle, but if she doesn't run away he does move on to explore parts of her body, and the eyes and ears are the most interesting parts...

(3/5/97) Our morning routine has gotten quite wonderful. Margaret and I enter their bedroom together and we alternate which boy we pick up. This morning I went for Galen who was still asleep. I gently rubbed his back until he stirred and slowly pushed into sitting position, sleepily motioning that he wanted to be picked up. As he conformed to my chest, head snuggeled against my neck, I carried him towards the living room and sat next to Margaret and Adam on the couch. After a few minutes of the bottle, the boys decide they want to trade positions. One drops the bottle and scrambles for the other parent. It varys day to day, but this morning Adam left Margaret and entered my arms causing Galen to scuttle for Margaret's hug. So sweet.

Once they are done with milk, we read books. It's funny how every book seems to end with sleeping --- whether it's the dinosaurs sleeping, or the spider sleeping or the gorilla it's clear that most parents read their children to sleep. We must be the only couple in the world that reads them awake instead.

(6/5/97) We decided to bite the bullet and have our lawn and landscaping redone. This meant dangerous machines out in the yard, cutting out the sod, rototilling, etc. Since the twins have become used to playing outside each day, Heidi was afraid that the boys would be upset to be confined safely inside.

How wrong she was. The twins sat transfixed on the couch all morning long, gasping with astonishment, arms outstretched pointing at this machine and hissing at that one. The climax was when the workers removed the cedar tree from next to our foundations. The men simply tied a thick rope between its trunk and a large truck, then drove away. As the tree plopped out of the ground and was dragged away, the boys raised their hands in unison "Byebye!"

(7/15/97) I really must write more on the development of language - truly one of the most amazing miracles I will ever watch. Galen is now putting two and three words together in his first phrases...

But the thing which really charms me happens in the morning. Previously, he would waken with a plaintiff cry, but now the first cry is followed by a hesitant questioning voice "Daddy? Daddy?"

(7/1/97) Mostly the boys get along well together, but Adam does tend to steal things from Galen. Galen can't seem to hold onto toys tightly enough, but he will flee when his possessions are in danger. Thus I can usually diagnose the situation when I'm upstairs in the bed room and hear four feet thromping from one side of the house to the other and back, followed by a moment of silence and then a wail.

But it's a shock for Adam when he plays with other kids, especially those who are older, larger and more articulate than he. The other night when Nathan was visiting, I saw him wrench a toy from Adam's grasp and then (before Adam could cry) Nathan chanted "Share! Share! Share!" Although Nathan's parents are both doctors, I think the boy may end up in politics.

(7/29/97) The twins are starting to be ever more aware of each other. When one falls and starts crying, the other will typically go get his blue blankey and bring this love object to comfort the sobbing boy. Often they hold hands, and it is incredibly cute to see them walking, linked together.

We spent the last three days with Margaret's family in Stowe VT, and it was wonderful to watch Oliver (son of Jona and Margaret's sister Anne) start to bond to our boys. They'd play Red-light, green-light together and ride the teeter totter. In a near-ultimate act of intimacy, Galen let Oliver stuff stones down his shirt.

(8/2/97) During the past week's stay at my parent's "camp" on Upper Saint Regis Lake, Galen's vocabulary has grown: blueberry, pinecone, toad, and boat are some of the lexical additions. Both boys love to pick blueberries (although they prefer an adult to do this hard labor for them). Hikes back towards Cooper pond led them to a new understanding of wildlife and toads are the clear favorite. Adam laughs uncontrollably at the sight of them and when I take off my jaded, adult worldview I have to admit that they are improbable. Once back from the first hike, the boys found the toad sculpture sitting on the back porch and insisted on feeding it. The more verbal Galen approaches the creature with a handful of red pine bark and commands "Turtle eat cracker" as he cramming the poor creature's mouth full. (Don't ask me why Galen, who can say "Toad" insists on calling the sculpture a turtle.)

Galen continues his fetish for stuffing small objects down his shirt. Rocks, toy cars, leaves, puzzle pieces, a miniature ant eater, and even pinecones make their way next to his belly. I wish I could describe the delighted look on his face as he commits this act, and I wish even more that I could personally experience, once again, the surprising magic of this simple act.

By far their biggest obsession is boats (pronounced "Bopes!"). They could spend hours playing behind the steering wheel of a parked boat, but a motorboat ride is an even bigger thrill. I wonder if trucks will ever regain their previous attendant devotion.

(7/12/97) Margaret and I had a fantastic time this weekend climbing Ruth and Icy - it was the only weekend of the summer we got 2 days together without the kids. Spent the night atop Ruth looking at sunset from the San Juans to the Picket Range, and sunrise from the Nooksack cirque to Rainier. Baker, Slesse, Redoubt, and Blum were also impressive. Heart of the North Cascades. The weather was perfect and the summit bivy was warm and windless. Next day we did the easy glacier climb up Icy folowed by the short rock scramble to another incredible view peak. Neither of us could believe that we used to get to do this every weekend before kids.

Of course, they are incredibly cute. They just learned to talk into the telephone, which is terribly fun: "Do you miss me?" followed by Adam's whispered "Yah"

(9/28/97) I fear I've been remiss in describing our bedtime ritual which has evolved considerably in the past year. Although Margaret and I enjoy putting them down together, she's been on service for the past two weeks, working hard, and sometimes (like tonight) I do it alone. Tonight, we got home late so Adam and Galen were overtired and a bit fussy, but they grew excited when I carried "Time for Bed" towards their room. "Night-night book!" exclaimed Galen and they charged after me.

When I lower onto the floor, they snuggle into my lap, each sitting on one of my legs, surrounded by my arms. Each boy grabs his blanky and a bottle as I start to read the book. "It's time for bed, little mouse, little mouse, Darkness is falling all over the house." said the first page and in turn they pluck their bottles from their mouth and offer them to the baby mouse who clearly needed a nightcap more than they."It's time for bed, little cat, little cat, So snuggle in tight, that's right, like that." I hug them close and kiss them as they "feed" the kitten from their emptying bottles. Geese, cows, foals, fish, sheep, birds, bees, snakes, puppies, deer, ... all get offered the bottle. When we get to the book's end, they have grown quiet. I place Adam gently in his crib, while Galen climbs the bars up into his, plunging headfirst over the rim into the padded waiting warmth. I cover them each with a quilt. Do they want a song? "Oh yeah!" But a few verses later, they are very quiet and I leave "Good night little boys; I love you." So much.

(10/1/97) When I arrived home from work, Margaret was clearly pleased with herself, for the day's purchase it turned out. Adam and Galen ran to the kitchen to show demonstrate their new table and chairs. And that was before dinner! When the time for their first meal as big boys rolled about, they were very pleased with themselves, sitting at a real table. And they grew even happier when they discovered (for the first time in their lives) the joys of footsie - they giggled and giggled.

And now their high chairs are gone. Another milestone passed. My boys are growing up.

(10/3/97) Another symbol of aging is ... all these birthdays! It seems like almost everyone has a birthday around now, and the boys have been to many parties in recent days. They know the routine well, and they like it! Especially, the most important part of the ritual: cake! Just last night they were at another house, playing happily in a corner when "Happy Birthday to you..." started up. They dropped what they were doing and rushed for the dining room.

Later that night before bed, I asked Galen what he had done during the day: "Galen eat happy cake!"

(11/3/97) Today's catastrophe: the boys pulled chairs over to the counter, climbed up, stuck their small plastic bulldozer in the toaster, and melted it. A frightening glimpse of the road ahead.

And today's fetish (learned from Dad): they love to take a spoon and scoop out their armpit and feed each other (or, secret joy) taste themselves!

On Sunday, Margaret walked with Galen up to the park. Along the way he became entranced with a neighborhood cat. "Silly kitty" he said as he grinned at it. Many minutes went by as he played with his new friend. Then when Margaret tried to coax him onwards towards the park, he reached down to take the cat's hand so they could walk together.

(11/29/97) Language is coming to the boys so quickly it's sad. The three-word phrases that used to impress us have been replaced with complete sentences, and endearing pidgin words are being replaced with the real thing. I used to love hearing Galen call a plane an up, but no longer. They used to ask us to "ope" a cabinet for them, but now the demand is "open." Losing these cute relics of childhood is a sobering reminder of how rapidly the boys are growing up.

Winter is upon us and with it, Seattle's early evenings. I should have replaced my bicycle headlight batteries long ago, but with all the crazy activities at work I only remembered to bring it inside today. When the boys gave me a quiet moment, I grabbed a coin and tried to unscrew the plastic shell for access to the batteries. Failure. My frustration mounted when a screw driver failed to solve the problem - the screw would turn counterclockwise one revolution then bind; forcing it resulted in a jerk as if I was stripping unseen threads. A minute passed and my window for the activity vanished - Galen grabbed the light and Adam took the screwdriver and they passed these toys back and forth between themselves fascinated and determined to keep them out of my reach. I gave up, annoyed, until some minutes later I noticed the light abandoned on the couch. The screws lay on the ground nearby.

(12/5/97) This morning I took the Adam And Galen "hiking" in Seward Park with their friend Nathan and his dad. I felt wonderfully relaxed to wander trails through old-growth forest, and it filled me with joy to see the three boys running through a misty jungle of ferns taller than they were. The image seemed painted by Maurice Sendak, and I expected fierce Wild Things to jump out at any moment. When the boys grew tired of slipping in the mud, I replenished their strength with "energy food" (not candy!). Later, we spent time throwing rocks into Lake Washington and feeding the sea gulls, then celebrated on the slides at the playground. A delightful morning, and one which has been all too rare given my autumn workload.

(12/10/97) The twins have come to love their birthday Brio train set. It's delightful to watch them connect the track, although they certainly don't plan ahead where it will go. Several days ago I spotted Adam growing frustrated as he vainly attempted to connect two cars whose magnets were of incompatible polarity. "Turn it around, sweetie" I said gently whenever his whine of distress grew agitated. Although it took several lessons, he grew to understand and his exploration and growing trumpets of triumph were quite gratifying.

That was a week ago. Today, I was amazed to spy on the duo playing trains together. Galen was growing frustrated with cars that refused to connect, and his plaintive cry was escalating, when I heard Adam chime in "Turn it around Gaia!"

I've discussed language before, but things are happening so fast that I already feel nostagic for baby talk even as I enjoy our increasing ability to communicate. Soon, they'll pronounce everthing correctly so let me record today's foibles: "Pease more apple juke", "Tanka Daddy apple juke", "No Gaia! Adam peace car", "Humpydumpy on wall", "Adam push evelator", "Man on bykicil", and (gesticultating excitedly upwards) "Hepicoper!"

Somehow Galen has really become attached to my company's Jango logo. Whenever he sees me wearing a Jango T-shirt or sweatshirt, he points at the logo animatedly and demands "Daddy sing the Jango song!"

(12/17/97) Perhaps we told the boys about our Maui vacation too early, as their anticipation of the plane flight grew intense. All they wanted to read were books about planes, and they demanded to get on board "Now!" Our pathetic excuse, "But Galen, we aren't going until the day after tomorrow..." caused the boys to throw themselves on the floor, sobbing hysterically with despair.

For several days before the trip, Adam and Galen asked to review their tropical outfits. "Adam wear Whywhy clothes!" was the frequent request. Whenever honored, it led to an exceedingly proud boy posing in front of the mirror.

Even with Margaret's meticulous planning, we nearly missed the plane. Although we arrived early for our 6am Sat morning plane flight, disaster almost struck at the airport terminal Starbucks outlet. After adding milk to her Americano, Margaret turned to me (as I paid for our pastry and drinks) "Do you see Adam?!" I had my eye on Galen, but had thought she was watching Adam. We scattered quickly, then heard a woman say "Are you missing a small child?..." Before we could answer, her tone jumped to a shriek "He's going down the escalator!"

After retrieving Adam (supremely happy and unaware of our consternation) from the escalator and enduring many hours of confinement aboard airplanes, we arrived on Maui. Adam found the need to collect luggage sheer torture: "Get on the bus! Get on the bus!" he kept repeating longingly as he watched the tantalizing rentacar shuttle.

Finally we arrived at our Kihei condo, a pleasant location which quickly became known as "New house!" As we unpacked our select collection of puzzles and toys onto the carpet, Galen's eyes widened in surprise: "We have this at home!"

The best thing about new house was the elevator; poor Adam became quite obsessed. If we ever left the front door ajar, he would scuttle out on the elevated walkway and run (tiny arms flapping at shoulder height) to the elevator, shouting "Adam push it! Adam push it!" Several times he disappeared and we had to guess which floor he had selected (minor panic).

(12/27/97) A friend of mine recently took his two and a half year old daughter, Maya, to the zoo. After a pony ride, he asked her if she had enjoyed herself. "Yes" she said, "but I was sad that my pony didn't talk to me." My friend adopted a tone of condescending paternal wisdom and explained "Sweetie, that's because real horses, unlike those in the books, don't really talk." Maya looked puzzled and replied "Well the black one talked to me." My friend choked back his skepticism and led Maya on "Oh really? And exactly what did the black pony say to you?" Maya smiled sweetly "He said 'Neigh.'" My friend felt as if he had been thwapped on the head by a Zen master, and wondered who had a better grip on reality himself or his daughter.

(1/1/98) David and I took the boys to Snoqualmie Pass today (in the rain) and played in the snow. What an exciting precursor of future fun: we made a snowman, rode ensolite pads down hills like sleds, found a cave formed by snow draped over bent branches and threw snow balls inside to wake the Snowosauruses which might live inside. We enlarged the cave for ourselves and the boys popped inside and out, gleefully hiding. Later we went walking through the woods: huge trees blown with snow, wet bark trunks like scarred elephant hide. Despite getting soaked, cold and hungry, the boys had a great time. It's quite thrilling to think of the games will play as they get older.

(2/12/98) Now that the boys are bigger, we dine together at the kitchen table, and a nice ritual has formed. Before eating, we all hold hands in a circle, and Galen proclaims "Family!" with a huge grin covering his face. After a few moments of silent unity, we let go and start to eat, but then (usually after only a mouthful) a tiny hand grabs mine and I hear "Adam wants to be family AGAIN!" They are so cute.

The nightime ritual has also developed a new wrinkle. After reading books, the boys climb into the same crib to sleep. We sing a song (typically Galen demands "Working on Railroad!") then when all is silent, I hear Adam say "Adam loves Daddy" and I reply "Mommy and Daddy love Adam and Galen" whereupon Galen says "Galen loves Mommy and Daddy ... and Adam and Galen ... and Tiger and ... Truck!"

(2/14/98) After some morning torture on the stairmaster, I come upstairs all sweaty and gross (but feeling good). I sit next to the boys eating breakfast, and Adam touches my leg saying: "Daddy is hot! And wet! Where come from?" A difficult thing to explain, but I try. And as the words come out (pores, evaporation, thermoregulation) I realize again how magical my body is! What a gift of vision my children force on me.

Margaret is once again on call, so I take the kids to QFC to create a Valentine dinner for my sweetheart. The trip turns out to be incredibly fun, in an out-of-control way. Boy was I lucky! In hindsight I have no idea how I expected to pull off such a big shop by myself, but just before I leave Alex (a sweet 10 year old neighbor) asks to come along. We enter QFC and immediately both Adam and Galen demand their own little baby shopping-carts. Keenly I sense my dangerd: they will karoom off in different directions to smash into fragile displays of candy which they will then devour. I try a delaying tactic by pretending that there are no such carts. They counter with a determined rush at a display of fruit-rolls and a tantrum explosion of hunger. "Galen want that! GALEN WANT THAT NOW!!" I sacrifice nutrition, and the resulting sugar buzz makes them complacent. Score! Twenty minutes later Galen spots a baby cart and there is no stopping the boys from taking turns pushing each other at warp speed down random isles, swiping the legs of elderly women and colliding with tottering towers of wine bottles. I rush after them, dropping business cards of my insurance agent behind me like confetti. Alex gets the MVP award for sure - she's the one who actually cleans up the mess and finds the groceries, while I cower in terror helplessly watching the boys...

Next episode: Indoor Hiking and the two backpack essentials (map and blanket).

(4/12/98) Galen has taken up cooking with a passion, and he's forcibly remodeled our home to have three additional kitchens. My favorite is the crawl space under the easel where Galen bakes his cheese enchiladas. Chocolate chip cakes are created in the NW nook of our living room. And Galen's culinary interest is certainly not limited to our home; the Laurelhurst park's gravel makes perfect popcorn when cooked in the tubular slide.

Make no mistake; it's not easy living with such temptations. Just this morning Galen came up proudly with a fresh batch of treats. When I reached out in anticipation, he shook his head, furrowed his brow and admonished "No, these are for later!" And yesterday when I tried to eat a slice of cake that he offered, he withdrew the imaginary creation warning "No, it's too hot!"

Slowly, I begin to understand the apparent arbitrary nature of life from my children's point of view.

(7/20/98) The boys spend lots of time playing together these days and seem to be developing a secret twin language. Yesterday after 15 minutes of gleeful squealing, Galen ran up the stairs from our basement family room announcing "Daddy! We're playing a game!" "What's it called?" I asked. "Hally-lally-O" he answered. Perched on the seatback rim of the futon, he had been passing a plastic baggie back and forth with Adam underneath. "Snack-sname-E" is their name for a game of catch, and there are many other examples.

The boys were playing downstairs in a suspicious silence that I have come to know means trouble. Galen, acting as scout saw me coming "Daddy! Don't come down here!" he shouted. Adam had dragged the teeter-totter over to the pantry door and was balancing precariously as he stretched tall to try and reach the door's high-hanging key. This key is a long-term objective of his, and the teeter-totter is only his most recent (and ultimately successful!) plan to acquire it. "Why not, Galen?" I asked. "Ummm, because we're working, Daddy. Don't come down!"

(8/5/98) Stark naked, our boys were in the summer-hot living room. Galen started the tiny player piano going on a song and turned to his brother "Adam, will you please dance and hold hands with me?" Alas, Adam was preoccupied gripping his blanky and sucking his thumb "No, I don't want to" he replied. Galen tries his trump card "Please Adam? Because I love you!"

(8/11/98) Playing hide and seek, the boys disappear into Grammy's pantry. There is the sound of smashing china, and my mom (inferring their precarious location) shouts from the kitchen "I don't like the sound of that!" Brief pause, then Adam yells back "We won't make any more noise!"

(8/16/98) This is the first summer that the boys can really enjoy my ancestral home on the shores of Upper Saint Regis lake in the Adirondacks. It fills me with joy to watch them searching the pine woods for snakes, bugs and toads, and I delight in their faces as they swim and discover canoes and sailboats. In order that Margaret and I can work part of each day, my mother arranged for a local girl to help watch the twins, but because our house can only be reached by boat, we must pick her up at the landing each morning. Lately, a fun ritual has developed as Galen stays with Margaret as I help Adam don his "boat-coat" and we motor across the glassy water to get Natasha each morning. I love to hold him tight in my lap as the wind blows his hair and we zoom past loons and islands at the start of each day.

(8/17/98) Galen points to camp's new queen-size bed "Is this where you and Mommy sleep?" I reply "Yes" and he continues "Why?" The easy answer: "Because we like to snuggle together"

"Are you and Mommy twins?"

(9/20/98) Little slips tell me much about the mysterious cognitive processes that percolate inside my son's heads. Yesterday morning, the boys discovered a stash of candy hidden in the basement. Proudly they appeared in front of Margaret with their pilferage, and after devouring the first installment headed back towards the basement. "No," Margaret said, "You've had enough for now." They boys stopped, looking dejected. Then Galen turned to Adam and (oblivious of Margaret's continued presence) said "Adam, let's go down to the basement and eat candy - it'll be a secret!"

Deception, it is clear, is well within their objectives; they just know how to execute their plan very well. In particular, they don't seem to understand the technology of speech: who hears what and when. The previous incident illustrates this well, as does the following common interchange.

I'm in a room with Margaret and both boys. Adam asks me "Daddy, are you coming to the zoo with us?" "Yes," I reply. Then Adam turns to Margaret excitely and exclaims "Mommy, Daddy says he's coming to the zoo with us!"

Somehow, I don't expect it'll take them very much longer to figure out speech. Then we'll have real trouble keeping any candy in the house.

(10/10/98) A few nights ago we put the boys to sleep (or rather, tried to). After reading the books, brushing the teeth, turning off the lights, snuggling in bed, singing a song, and good night kisses, we left the room and shut their door. Muffled noises from their room, however, indicated that events were not following our plan. We crept to their door for accurate intelligence and witnessed one of the cutest scenes I've ever seen.

The boys were pretending to go camping. "Let's get all the stuff we need" said Galen as he climbed down from the bunk bed towards their box of toys. Cars, books, and other items were handed up the ladder to the top bunk. "Do you need this?" Galen would call up to Adam as he held up a toy in the dark bedroom. Together they collected imaginary "flashlights" and "firewood" and built a campfire in the top bunk.

What a shame that we eventually had to put their expedition to an end.

(10/20/98) After dinner tonight (during which the boys dined primarily on butter) we ate Heidi's freshly made chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Although he had already eaten several, Galen requested another from Margaret, but complained when she only gave him one. "How many do you want? she asked. "I want too many!" he replied.

(11/2/98) As our friend was putting his three-year-old son, Nathan, down for bed, David started the stereo playing a very tender, wordless song by Bobby McFerrin. Nathan very fluidly and spontaneously said the following: "This is a sadness song. It's about a boy. The boy went out of his house and his mother said, "Don't get hurt". The boy went to the Science Center and he met a man. The man had a cigarette. The man pointed the cigarette at the boy and said, "Flaming Death!". He threw the cigarette at the boy and he died. Then the boy's mother came and said, "BAD MAN!" That's this sadness song."

(11/6/98) I woke from a beautiful sleep to the sound of Adam crying through the intercom "Daddy! Daddy!" so how could I resist. When I finally dragged myself downstairs into his bedroom to ask him what was wrong, he sweetly asked "How do they make toothpicks?"

(11/16/98) In a surprise early visit we greeted our new daughter today. Margaret is tired but ecstatic, Leah is alternatively alert, hungry and sleepy, Adam and Galen don't quite clue into the magnitude of ramifications but are glad she's finally here and appreciate the toys she brought, and I'm simply amazed at the miracle which I witnessed this afternoon.

It all happened very quickly. Margaret woke at 3am feeling contractions that felt qualitatively different, but didn't rouse me until 5am when they suddenly started coming every two minutes with increasing strength. By the time we reached the hospital, she got there she was in extreme pain, and it seemed to take forever to get past the line for the Triage nurse and move upstairs to our birthing room. We were very glad that we had just (three days before!) taken a Lamaze review and the breathing patterns were all that sustained Margaret through an hour of agony until she got an epidural. Then suddenly, she morphed from a writhing and posessed being into a happy and relaxed one. How strange! Smiling she slept, letting her uterus do the hard work without conscious control. At 12:49pm, after about 45min of pushing, Leah Rose Weld popped out into a new world and the arms of her parents. So beautiful! The whole experience was so much more relaxed than when the boys were born, it was nice to be able to see the whole thing clearly and up close, to watch her head pop out, to cut the cord, and to feel calm and relaxed through such a miraculous process.

(11/24/98) Around Thanksgiving Ros and I took the boys to see their first movie: "A Bug's Life" which happened to show at their normal nap time. Despite their excitement, the boys were clearly tired and Galen fell asleep about half way through the movie. While I never caught Adam with his eyes closed, he was very very quiet. When the theatre lights rose, we roused Galen and herded the boys to the car, wondering how much either retained of the experience. Unable to control her curiosity, Ros asked Adam "What happened in the movie?" Adam paused a bit and then said slowly "Grammy, were you at the movie with us?"

I was shocked. Although I suspected that with the dark theatre, long feature, and lack of nap, he might not grasp the movie's plot, he must have really been out of it if he didn't even know who was there with him! Ros replied "Yes, Adam, I was." Then Adam replied "Well, then you know what happened in the movie, don't you?" Score!

And, indeed, when we got home Adam recalled the whole plot to his mother.

(11/10/98) Six months ago I was saddened by my perception of the boys mommy-preference, and feeling a bit left out. At night, when I snuggled with each in bed, I would tell them that I loved them - only to meet silence.At the same time I had come to understand my own difficulty being in tough with my feelings and I'd decided I wanted to work with the boys to make sure they had less of this problem themselves. In particular, I wanted to emphasize the importance of talking about feelings. So one night, after telling Adam that I loved him and receiving no comment, I continued "Do you love me?" "Yes" came the reply. "Can you please tell me?" I asked. "I love you." said Adam. "Thank you!" I said "That makes me happy!"

This soon became a wonderful ritual. The boys would tell me and each other that they loved each other and then reply "That makes ME happy!" Later the ritual with Adam evolved into a game about who would tell the other "I love you" first and Adam took pride in the fact that he almost always won "I'm really fast" he'd proclaim, and he was. He was also very thoughtful and sensitive.

(12/15/98) After months of frustration with our ineffectual attempts to motivate the boys to give up diapers, Galen recently announced "I'm going to potty train myself on Saturday" and sure enough he started using underpants quite reliably. Adam followed a week later.

However, their subsequent experience indicates certain challenges that we as adults have forgotten: the problem of urinary dribble. As Adam remarked one morning, while sitting on the toilet with pants around his knees, "It's really hard to keep track of your pee, but it's easy to keep track of your poop because you have to push really hard for it to come out."

(12/25/98) We spent a wonderful Christmas with friends David and Felecia and their son Nathan in a Montana lodge which we reached by train. One day David took Nathan to play in the snow while I took Adam in a sled which I pulled behind me as I cross country skiied through the enchanted wintery woods. Adam grew quiet an contemplative during the long ride and when I finally let him out when we returned to the site of Nathan's snow man, he wanted to emulate his dad. I watched as Adam picked up the leads and started pulling the empty sled behind him. Then Nathan (bored with snow construction) ran over and climbed in the sled which Adam was pulling. Nathan shouted "Giddeap Donner! Giddeap Blitzen!"

Later, both boys lay down on the snow-cat packed ground, and rolled down the hill laughing and giggling. When they reached the bottom they were much too dizzy to climb back up the snowy slope.

(2/26/99) This morning Galen came up to our bedroom early "Mommy, will you pick out the clothes I want you to wear?" When she assented, Galen pointed to my bathrobe "How about this one?" Then "Mommy wear these shoes - you'd look really cute in them!"

(12/16/99 Galen calls from the bathroom. "Daddy! I need you." I enter and am confronted with a small boy, bending over, naked bum jutting in the air. "Please wipe me!" I do. "Did you get it all off?" I reassure him concerning my competence. He says "I'll check anyway"


I ask "How do you check, Galen?" and he replies "I hoist my underpants up into my bum then pull them down and look inside."


(11/1/00) How jealous Margaret and I are that we weren't fortunate enough to have a twin sibling. Yesterday morning, Galen ran downstairs into our bedroom, kissed us good morning and announced: "Last night Adam and I dreamed that we were fishing and we caught a really big fish!"

(12/20/00) While reading a book about Chanukah, I ask the twins "Do you know the names of any other Jewish holidays?"

"Yes!" volunteers Adam with enthusiasm "Kwanzaa!"

(1/4/01) After a discussion of the biological details of conception, Galen said incredulously "you mean Daddy still has sperm?"

"Yes," answers Margaret, "But I don't think we are going to have any more babies."

"Right," said Galen "Because we just gave away all of Leah's bottles."

(1/20/01) We had done a spontaneous sleep-over at a friends house and now it was time for lunch. the kids had been playing wonderfully and were ravenous. Felicia was boiling a giant pot of noodles and Leah was very excited. She bobbled over to my side and crept close. "Secret" she said and put her lips next to my ear, tousled blond hair brushing my face. I listened quietly and heard: "Buttered Noodles!"

(11/12/01) At the conclusion of our bedtime ritual, I was snuggling with Leah whose cold made her nose run like a fountain. As I nestled closer she said "Don't get your hair in my snot." Surprised, I replied "I won't! It's disgusting!" She pulled away and contradicted me "It's not disgusting; it's a yummy treat!"

(11/20/01) While driving the kids to school, Margaret failed to make it through an intersection. "Shoot!" she said, to which Galen replied "Mommy, why do you always say that when you come to a light that's just turning red?"

"Because I'm trying to get where I want to go."

"But Mommy, you're going to get where you want to go!"

Margaret laughed and loosened her grip on the steering wheel.

Galen continued "Mommy, it's not like a giant suction cup comes out of the sky at red lights and pulls you right off the road! You're gonna get where you want to go!"