Overheard from the children’s room, 6:35am.

[train whistle]

Annie: Hey Paul, it’s a train! Hey Paul, it’s a train! Paul, it’s a train! Hey Paul, it’s a train!

Paul: Hoooo

Annie: You can’t see it, it’s too far away. But you can hear it, it says ‘chugga chugga choo choo! chugga chugga choo choo!’

a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 19 months old.

The time changed yesterday, so you sleep peacefully until 8. Dad gets you diapered and dressed, and we head down for breakfast. It’s Monday, but a professional-development day for your teachers, so we’re all home together for a bonus long weekend.


When I come downstairs with a book to read, you say clear as day, “My Mercy book!” and Dad and I goggle at each other. Your language skills are exploding—only yesterday did we first hear you say “book” with the K sound.

We buckle into the stroller for a walk. The weather is chilly but gorgeous, and SXSW is in full swing. We share the bridge with folks in badges walking to downtown, but the trail is abandoned as all the locals take cover.


We make a loop down to the river and stroll back through the park as usual. You are very interested in looking for turtles and—a recent addition—the family of Nutria.

You point to the phone and say, "Pah!"
For the record, you put the hat on yourself. Sorry about the booger.

We roll to Mellizos for breakfast tacos, and you eat your eggs by the handful. The weather is so nice we tack on a playground visit. I help you climb the ladder, which delights you, and you and Annie chase each other down the slide and back around, again and again and again.


Swings and time on the stone turtle cap our visit, and we head home via the creek tunnel, where you yell and poke sticks into the water. Back at home, we have a quick snack of berries and milk. I give you an open cup, and you blow bubbles in it. Classic.

You and Annie jump and squeal in your cribs for a solid hour before going to sleep, and Dad comes in to admonish you and stays to change a horrific diaper.

At 2, you’re awake. I release you and Annie from your crates cribs, and we head downstairs to set up a picnic in the perfect afternoon sunshine. We eat pears and crackers in the front yard, and you push the toy lawnmower and stroller around. Dad returns from the grocery store and joins us. We migrate into recliners and lounge with books and magazines. You page through a Mercy book quietly, with undivided attention. I tell your dad I always imagined our whole family reading together but didn’t picture it happening so soon.

We will later feed Sous that cheese wheel in bits, in exchange for tricks, plus about 15 crackers that fall on the floor.
We will later feed Sous that cheese wheel in bits, in exchange for tricks, plus about 15 crackers that fall on the floor.

You and Annie are obsessed with each other and carefully monitor what the other is doing in case it involves a scarce resource you need to demand for yourself. Your parents grow weary enforcing turn-taking.

George joins us for a lounge, and an hour later, so do Kalia, Doug, Eleanor, and Riley. You run around with Annie and Eleanor, nearly independent of adult supervision. A feast of grilled meats and veggies appears; you eat half a hot dog bun and resume your romp.


Twenty minutes of Totoro calm us all; then we say goodbye to our friends and head upstairs for a jungle bath. It’s not pleasant for anyone, but we get ‘er done and read a final Mercy book to cross the finish line. At 7:30, you’re snug in bed, pooped out, and headed for sleep. Phew.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 2 years and 11 months old.

I lift you out of your crib at 7:15, and we check the boo-boo on your butt right off. (You sat down hard on something at school yesterday and bruised yourself; when I saw you at the end of the day, you appealed, “Mom, can you please kiss my butt?”) We head downstairs for a brief breakfast, then buckle you into the stroller for a walk with Dad, Paul, and Sous. It’s Saturday!

You meet Kalia with Eleanor and Riley for tacos at our usual truck, and at 9:30 are home to regroup for our next adventure. We’re headed to your friend June’s house to celebrate her birthday with one other classmate of yours. Y’all are besties.

June, Annie, and Isabella
June, Annie, and Isabella

After your usual warm-up period, you’re swarming all over the playground and ordering cups of water from June’s mom. You feast on berries and cupcakes (you lick off the frosting, and Paul eats the cake—brilliant collaboration). June gets upset for some 3-year-old reason, and you spend 20 minutes delivering toys to her to make her feel better.

We head home for naptime, which you protest as usual, starting things off un-peacefully with half an hour of yelling. Eventually you do sleep, and we see you again around 2:30. You briefly meet Uncle George, here for SXSW and currently plugged into the VR machine. We’ll get some quality time later.


We hustle to the grocery store. After a critical first stop for a balloon (purple), we make our usual rounds. You enjoy samples of fruits, cheese, and a blueberry pancake, and select peach yogurt and a chocolate cookie, which we’ll carve into 8 tiny wedges for dessert.


Back home, you and Paul play together with only light supervision while Dad and I get dinner started. Around 4:30, our friends Katie, Doug, and Poppy arrive. We eat shrimp and grits around the table while you stroll around the living room. (Alone, we will require you to sit at the table with us for at least 10 minutes, but with company we are not in the mood to force it.) Dad ends up eating your dinner—boy, you would have loved those cheese grits if you’d tried them—and you deign to join us for a bit of cookie at the end.

While the grown-ups linger at the table, somehow you and Paul maneuver yourselves onto your bike together. (Not authorized for indoor use, but again, we’re in no mood.) You lead the pack of children in a lengthy round of pushing toys across the house. We turn on 20 minutes of Totoro to wind things down, and you use the potty to good effect.



We make our way upstairs and take a quick sponge bath. You turn on the noise machine and click the lights down to a low setting. We sing the lullaby and proceed through our increasingly elaborate bedtime ritual. (It now features you standing on your crib railing, while I hold you, to check whether you’ve grown tall enough to touch the ceiling. “Not quite!” you conclude.) As we leave the room, you chirp a reminder not to turn the lights all the way off. You got it, boss.



Paul can name us all now, and delights in doing it. “Da! … Mama! … Nehnee!” he crows, pointing to us in turn and waiting for celebration, like we’re athletes running onto the field or actors at curtain call. And when we remind him, he’ll point to himself and announce: “Bah!”