Friday, November 2, 2007

Bat Family Photo

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Yes, Collin is getting muscle-y, isn't he? :)

This is Halloween morning, before they headed off to school and the marathon of trick-or-treating (the teachers walk them to all the surrounding office buildings). Lilah reported being so tired by the end that she tried to lie down in the middle of the street but her teacher wouldn't let her. Meanie.

Lilah, by the way, is not Bat-girl. She is Bat-gayle. This is her pronunciation and she is sticking to it, no matter how often we correct her. So perhaps she is a version of the superhero sidekick who hails from Appalachia specifically? Tune in to future adventures to find out . . .

As for Batman here, he is constantly busy fending off the Joker, the Riddler, and other villains, though he did take a minute on Halloween night to consume a new and exotic super-hero food. It was round and fluted on the edges, just like a Bat-a-rang (Batman's signature weapon) but tasted of chocolate and peanut butter and was gone in one gulp. Vigilantes need to keep up their strength, after all.

Now We Are Four

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Here they are in their gorgeous birthday outfits from Mom-Mom and Pappy. The celebration of Collin and Lilah's fourth birthday lasted nearly a week (!!) beginning with their exchange of their gifts to each other (a Superman action figure and a Cinderella coloring book), then the arrival of a whole box full of hot wheels from Uncle Paul in California. Collin went to a Superhero themed party at the local library and had pancakes at a restaurant, while Lilah hosted several friends (and Mom-Mom) for a tea party at our house (check our new pictures on flickr to see pictures of that memorable event.) Then they went to church and put coins in the little collection box, one for each year . . . and every meal for four days running they each ate a petit four courtesy of Uncle Scott and Auntie Paula.

Spoiled? Who? The best news from a parent's standpoint is that when the twins opened their gifts from Gramps (my dad) and discovered that he had given them each a $10 bill, they immediately tried to use it to pay the bill at the restaurant where we were eating.

Don't worry, I didn't let them.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Exhibit A: the chin

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
This is a picture from our generally lovely day at the Pittsburgh zoo, so the fact that Lilah is not smiling here should not lead you to think that she wasn't having fun. What I would like you to take note of is the pointy, firm, and mobile chin, because we've been seeing a lot of it here lately.

We've entered a new realm here at the Claycomb household, one that we are saddened to have to label the Temper Tantrum Zone. And this girl is currently the reigning queen. A few prime moments:

--I lift her out of the car when she wanted to get out on her own. She hauls off and hits the car. Repeatedly.

--She kicks Ryan in the face (accidentally), but then refuses to apologize. Instead, she goes so ballistic that she has to be corralled in her room with all her toys removed for nearly 30 minutes.

--During a time-out with me in the room, she rushes me and beats me about the head and neck with both tiny hands, then literally growls at me, says, "I'm going to DO something," and begins to whip me with her beloved purple blanket.

We love her. Really we do. We tell her every day.

Anyone interested in babysitting??


Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
This one's for Uncle Paul and Auntie Nette, because I think they were convinced that we would never let both kids wear the adorable Hawaiian duds the newlyweds sent them ON THE SAME DAY.

But let me tell you, for a trip to the zoo on one of the busiest days of the year, this look was genius. They were cool, comfy, sporty, and highly, highly visible. And according to many passers-by, adorable.

Well, yes. Check out the rest of our zoo pics at Flickr to see the wonderful animals we saw.


Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Your friendly neighborhood vigilante shows off his moves. And be prepared for many more pictures of Collin in superhero duds as the fall progresses. We've already purchased a three-costume set for Halloween, featuring a Batman costume that will hopefully fit (unlike the "Batman-does-Prufrock" effect we have here), a Robin costume, and a Flash costume.

Here's the deal. We resist branding in our house. We do not have Dora sheets, Blue's Clues placemats, or Sponge Bob anything. We have NO Disney princess-sorority-of-mindless-insipid-sweetness merchandise and never, never shall.

But then Collin asked about Batman.

As some of you know and many of you no doubt do not, I love Batman. And I'm not referring to the joke-y live-action series from the 60's. I mean the Frank Miller, Tim Burton, now Christian Bale-embodied, tortured, brooding, hero on a doomed mission to save a rotten city from itself. (See? I could write text for the back of the next graphic novel. Just you wait.) So when Collin inquired about Batman, I obliged with stories, pictures, t-shirts, more pictures, highly-inappropriate viewing of a few Batman cartoons (too scary and confusing, though I loved them), more stories, action figures, a hat, flip-flops, bath toys, and the inevitable costume.

It's a branded paradise in our house now. Sigh. The only consolation I have is moments like this wonderful picture, and the even better ones when Collin attempts to pass on superhero lore to others. Batman, as he will tell you, lives in Gottam (sic). Superman (whom he also loves now) comes from Crouton.

Who knew?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Dance

First Dance
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Yes, I know. This is not a picture of Collin OR Lilah. It is a teaser, I suppose. If you go from here to the Flickr site you will see many fine, fine pictures of both Collin and Lilah at the event where this was taken . . . Unca PaulanNet's wedding. For adults, those names are Paul and Nanette, and they were married Saturday July 16, 2007 in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at the Stanford Faculty Club. Again, there are many pictures on our site, of the happy couple, of various members of our families, and of course, of Lilah performing flower girl duties and Collin balancing two rings VERY CAREFULLY on a white satin pillow.

This event marked not only the start of Paul and Nanette's life together but many milestones for the Claycomb twins: first plane ride, first time in California, first wedding, first public dance performance--they took to the floor for "YMCA" and "Copacabana" just the two of them and were, well, not shy.

We also saw a long-time and close friend of mine, Mary Hekl, and her family, which includes husband Jason and Macy (3) and Kaitlin (almost 2 at the time) and had a blast with them. Collin was a little dismayed to discover that Macy had toys involving balls and yet didn't seem to know where the balls were. (How could you not know these things??? asks the 3-year-old boy. Macy looked singularly unconcerned.)

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. So wonderful that we left stuff behind at UncaPaulanNet's, so that next time we're there (which may be sooner than they're ready for us) we'll already have staked out space and Lilah won't need to ask (disapprovingly), "Unca Paul, where are all your toys?"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What's the reverse of "matriarch"?

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Because it should be clear who's in charge in this picture. The youngest female in our family runs the show. Just ask Gramps, pictured here having lunch with her (and her mom) after a morning at the zoo when she was escorted in her stroller past many fine exhibits. In true Lilah fashion, she liked the hippo and the meerkats best. Leave the elephants and the giraffes to other, more trend-following kids.

She enojyed ordering Gramps around and was equally delighted to see his face painted on the wall of the Greek restaurant where we ate. (It was actually Aristotle, as you can see from another Flickr photo, but hey, that's simply a tribute to Gramps' wisdom and erudition.)

The joy of living with Lilah is that you never have to worry about slacking off or falling out of line: she keeps you in it. As evidence, a recent conversation with our friend Dave:

Lilah: Where are your toys?

Dave: Uh, we don't have any now. But [with a new baby arriving soon] we will soon.

Lilah: Next time I come you will have toys.

Dave: Yes, uh, yes, we will.

Lilah: I need you to remember this, okay? Remember.

Now if only she TOOK orders as well as she gave them . . .

Collin the Intrepid

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Well, folks, there are quite a few newer pictures up on our photo pages right now, all of which I of course urge you to run right over to and admire. But I'm choosing this one as the focal point of my newest blog about Collin because it captures both his Batman-Joker t-shirt (now, sadly, so filthy that I threw it out) and his determination to be a BIG boy.

He is a big boy, of course. And Ryan and I wish to affirm this as often as possible. He can climb trees (as you can see), he can dress himself, fill his own cups with juice, brush his own teeth start to finish, including putting paste on the brush and rinsing afterwards . . . he can even hang upside-down on the monkey bars at school.

The problem with all this BIG-ness is the sheer lunatic stubbornness that accompanies it. The child wants to climb ladders by himself, put on clothes that are still zipped or are inside out, fetch things off the top of the refrigerator--"I will get the stool!"--and carry heavy glass jars of things across the kitchen floor. When he is discouraged or thwarted in these designs he becomes QUITE angry.

So it is a good thing indeed that, after he is safe in bed at night, Batman often calls him on the phone to help thwart the Joker's latest diabolical plot. Batman understands that Collin is both intrepid and invincible.

It is also a good thing that, after Collin is safe in bed at night, mom and dad have access to wine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Ringbearer Prepares

A Ringbearer Prepares
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Yes, there he is: Collin, in his "Dancing Suit," which he will wear for Unca Paul and Unca (Auntie) Nette's wedding this July. I was worried when the suit arrived in the mail that he would hate it, because it is so stiff and heavy and not at all what he's used to wearing. But Ryan took him back to his room (some sort of "first suit" ritual between father and son, I presume) and a few minutes later a very small, blond person emerged, beaming from ear to ear and reminding me of Robert Duvall as Consigliere in The Godfather movies.

Boy, is he excited.

Of course, this picture (and the next one that I hope to post of Collin) offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the gender role messages he's getting now that he's going to school. He doesn't want to wear a flower in his button-hole at the wedding because "boys don't wear flowers" and he no longer wants to do ballet (even though he LOVES the moves of balletic dancing) because "boys can only do rock and roll dancing."

We've pulled out some books with pictures of Nureyev and Nijinsky in them, and discussed how much Daddy likes flowers, but he's not buying it. Of course, perhaps I share some blame in all this too. I've been SO resistant to letting them get attached to name brands (No SpongeBob in my house!!) and gender stereotypes, but as anyone who knows me well knows, I am obsessed with Batman (the dark, brooding Batman of Frank Miller strips and *Arkham Asylum*, not Adam West battling Cesar Romero.) So when Collin started asking about Batman and what his powers were (I also love that Batman has no superpowers, just works out and uses his wits and gadgets), who the villians were, etc., I responded VERY positively.

Needless to say, the boy now owns a Batman hat, 2 identical Batman shirts, Batman flip-flops, a Batman backpack . . . and it's all, every bit of it, my fault.

Sigh. At least in this suit he's more Bruce Wayne than anything else.

Little Ol' Lilah

Little Ol' Lilah
Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
This is currently one of my favorite photos of Lilah, because it reveals a new element of our little girl. She has recently discovered a new way to claim adult attention (besides bossing people around, talking in an almost inaudibly high-pitched "baby animal" voice, screaming at the top of her lungs . . . ). This new thing is that she can be funny. She was sitting at breakfast with us and suddenly got down from her seat, picked up this paper towel roll, and declared: "I'm little old Lilah," and began to hobble away. When we both cracked up, she looked not oly delighted, but amazed, and so of course happily repeated her performance for the camera.

Other new developments with Lilah, some good, others about which I am downright ambivalent:

After a visit with Mom-Mom and Pappy, she returned home and I was suddenly "Mom," not "Mommy." I do not blame the grandparents for this . . . but wow, I wish I'd gotten the memo! I feel like I'm suddenly parenting a teenager, which means I'm suddenly 45 . . .

Today in the car Lilah announced that, although Ryan and I were already married, we had not yet fallen "into" love with each other. "But sweetie," I said, "when will we?"

"Oh, I don't know. Not yet."

Hmmm . . . is Electra (and her associated complex) rearing her pretty little head?

Collin dancing, Rock n Roll Style

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
First of all, no, he is not wearing pants (Jim Morrison didn't, why should Collin?)

Second, a story: Ryan and Collin dance vigorously to some music (the B-52's) on a Saturday morning. Tables are pushed aside, a rug is cut, hands are thrown in the air like no one cares. Winded, Ryan suggests that they switch gears and color instead, and he steers Collin to the table.

Climbing into his seat, Collin pauses, looks at Ryan. "Daddy," he says, "my heart feels like it still wants to dance."

So they do.

There they go . . . 3, going on 18

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
First of all, the license plate refers to the CAR. Sheesh.

Lilah spent the weekend with her beloved cousin Jenna earlier this month, and this shot was taken then. There is another, very cute one of them in the car head-on, grinning like mad-women, but I like this one, while at the same time finding it terrifying. Are there wine coolers in the trunk of that thing? Itsy-bitsy bikinis? Cell phones with boys' phone numbers on them? Where are they headed anyway, and who gave that girl a license?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sir Collin, Off-Duty Fireman and Triceratops

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Yes, well, this isn't exactly the most photogenic the boy has ever been, but this is a telling picture of life with Collin these days. He is often a dinosaur (he came out of his bedroom a few nights ago LONG after bed-time with the rather flimsy excuse of having not been able to fasten his triceratops hat under his chin), which entails much VERY LOUD roaring and the making of claws. An amused mother at our swimming lessons heard him, flinched (he is really very, very loud), and said, "My, he's excited!"

No, really. He's like this all the time.

When he is not a dinosaur, he is a fireman, a football player, a baseball player, and a knight.

In the previous entry, I promised more on the endless questions that are part of creative play and/or storytelling these days. Most of these are from Collin, who is physically incapable of not vocalizing for more than 2 minutes at time while he is awake. A sampling, taken from perhaps the first two minutes of a story:

What Sir Ancelot [sic] doing?
Why he doing that?
What a lance?
Swords are sharp, you can't use that, only on bad things.
Is that monster mean?
Why he a knight?
Why he have that helmet?
What jousting mean?
But that bad, that dangerous, you might hurt someone.
I could be a knight----ROARRRRRRR!!
Why he have that feather on his hat?
Why he look mad?
Are those other knights mean?
Fighting is bad, you shouldn't fight. That's hitting.
I like Sir Ancelot.

What do you MEAN pink and red don't match?

Originally uploaded by Ryan Claycomb
Hello everyone! It's now mid-February and I have officially abandoned my ambitious plans to have blog posts about all of the following things: Christmas, my car accident and broken arm woes, time spent with Unca Paul and Net, the wonders of a snowy day, time with Erin . . .

The sad truth is that if I don't just update you NOW on things, I never will. So here is some news about Lilah. As you can see, she is as unappealing a child as ever (!) She is also refining her skills in the arena of domination and seems quite intent on becoming a doctor (which, yes, involves asking fully-grown adults who have foolishly agreed to be her patients to lie down on their backs and put their feet in the air so she can pantomime a rectal temperature.) If she does not pursue this career herself, she intends to become a "patient instructor," those long-suffering souls who allow medical students to perform various exams on them for training purposes. In Lilah's case, you may be sure that no body part will be left unexamined, whether it is her eyes (check for lurking tiny horses), her ears, or her feet, which sometimes need medicine to "feel them better."

We've also entered the realm of more imaginative play and storytelling, to my mingled delight and chagrin (I get to tell all my Robin Hood and Sir Lancelot stories now, but also have to explain A LOT. More on that in a subsequent post.) In any case, listening to "The Siamese Cat Song" from Disney's *Lady and the Tramp* prompted questions about the cats, so I told the whole story of the film. Lilah is now fascinated with the "Mean Science Cats" and demands frequent tales of their nefarious doings.

Which reminds me: I need to go teach her the word nefarious now.

Posted by claycomb at February 15, 2007 8:42 PM