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If someone had told me ten years ago that celebrating Christmas at home with four kids (aged ~6, 3.5, 3.5, and 0.25) and four houseguests from my family, plus occasional visits from six or seven other family members--all in a three bedroom house--would be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable experiences of my recent past, I think that 2000 Me probably would have concluded that either 2010 Me was going to be nuts or that some really bad stuff would happen to 2010 Me not long beforehand.

Fortunately, 2000 Me's conclusion would have been entirely incorrect (well, the 'nuts' part is debatable, but it always has been).

Some highlights:

* Sleep. My parents were happy to look after, and feed, the three older kids when they decided to get up at 7 AM and wander downstairs to where my parents were sleeping. I got to sleep in until after 10 most days, which was especially helpful considering that Megan and I took turns being quite sick (me mostly at the beginning, her mostly at the end) and Liam was varying degrees of sick most of the time, which meant he woke (us) up more during the night, so not having to get up early (and being able to go to bed late) was really nice.

More generally, this is the first time that I've had an opportunity to watch the multiple-adults-raising-children thing from the inside, as it were. My parents don't always do things the way that we would, but that's not always a bad thing, either; at worst it's given us an alternate perspective, and they respected our overrides when we made them. And it's nice to be able to distribute the parenting load a bit.

* I got a chance to have some real conversations with my younger sister. (She was adopted by my parents after I'd moved out, so we've never lived in the same house, and some of our previous interactions have been kind of rocky, so it was good to get a chance to reset things a bit.)

* My brother and I got in a few games of Starcraft 2. This gave us an opportunity to demonstrate that neither of us is capable of taking on a medium-difficulty AI player without assistance (we always play cooperatively rather than against each other), but we had fun.

* My family in general has a highly developed sense (if that is the word) of silliness. This will be made apparent in the photos once I post them. :)

* We took the opportunity to go see Tangled. As Megan put it, it actually made the story of Rapunzel make more sense than the usual variants. It wasn't much more than 'OK' in terms of characters or character development, but it did paint an interesting portrait of a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship*, and some of the cinematography was really beautiful. (We saw it in 3D, which was mostly neutral but was used to great effect in a couple of cases.)

*which the twins found disturbing enough to want to leave; fortunately I was able to talk them out of it.

* I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Dad. He's had a lot of interesting experiences as a doctor and a senior Army officer that make for good stories and discussions, and I respect his opinion. We don't talk much (or often) on the phone, so this was a rare treat.

Other than that...work continues to be a great place to work in several respects, and while the commute is still a pain in the butt, the continued decline of the local housing market gives us hope that we might be able to move closer to work sometime in the next year or two.
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Liam, in my experience of newborn babies, is unusually (and precociously) engaged in looking around him. As in, he was doing this less than 10 minutes after exiting the womb. He does cry when he's cold or hungry or objecting to being poked at, but unlike other babies I've known, he spends a nontrivial amount of time simply checking things out. I've seen him do this for half an hour at a time.

This is particularly odd when you consider that newborn babies generally can't focus on anything more than about ~20 cm away. Regardless, I wish that I could understand what's going on in his head as he does this.

Side note: due in part to the folds of skin below his eyes, and in part to his eye color--typical newborn Caucasian dark blue--he looks strikingly like Ian McKellan in this mode. I find this hilarious.
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I am proud to announce that as of 12:48 PM PST, 16 August, Megan and I became the parents of Liam Alan O'Madadhain.

For those who want the stats: Liam weighed in at 3.6 kg (7 lbs. 15 oz.) and 51.5 cm (20 in.). Dark hair. Somewhat prominent ears.

For those who want pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/joshua.omadadhain/August2010#

For those who want name etymologies: Liam is an Irish Gaelic name meaning "stalwart defender", and Alan is a Breton name which may mean either "little rock" or "handsome".

Both mother and son are doing fine; we'll likely be heading home from the hospital Wednesday or Thursday. The other kids have visited twice (Megan's mom is looking after them while we're here), and they seem pretty excited about the whole thing.
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A really interesting and thought-provoking article that explores the different kinds of satisfaction that people get out of having kids, and some related topics.
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In the context of Google's parental leave policy (which is pretty generous for US employers) I can't complain too much.

I find the societal/cultural differences in Sweden (that admittedly may or may not have much to do with this particular policy) interesting, though.
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The usual warnings apply: kids, cuteness, smartass captions.

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Sometime around mid-August, [livejournal.com profile] tiedyechameleon and I will be having another child.

Current data are not conclusive, but we're fairly sure that it will either be a boy or a hermaphrodite. :) There's more to say about that, but for right now I'm just making this quick announcement so that I don't put it off any longer.

(If anyone is wondering whether we're planning on stopping here, it may (or may not) be informative to know that the child's nickname is "Encore".)
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(In reference to a big pile of puzzle pieces that had been scattered all over the floor*; Corwin had been stoutly maintaining that he had nothing to do with it, i.e., Adric and Riley were jointly solely responsible.)

Me: "I'm pretty sure that you were a contributing factor."

Corwin: "I was not! And I almost know what that is."

*And a big thank you to the brilliant people who came up with the idea of marking kids' puzzle pieces' backs with different shapes, so that if puzzles get mixed together it doesn't take forever to unmix them.
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That must be one pretty hard-core three-year-old.

The area is home to bears, mountain lions, snakes. Three ponds sit within a couple of miles of the boy's home, as do many creeks swollen by recent rains.

"I'm going to nominate him for the Grizzly Adams award and take him bear hunting with a stick,” said Adam. "I don't know too many grown men that could do what he did."
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That's not quite how I remember it, but maybe I was paying attention to the wrong things again.

Looking forward to showing this to Corwin. :)
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"North Korea: we do NOT throw things. I want you to apologize to Japan and take a time out."

This is, as [livejournal.com profile] karjack--and rarely has it been so appropriate!--comedy plutonium. :)
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after a hiatus of some months:


I'm trying out Picasa as a new hosting location for the pictures; I'm assuming that eventually I'm going to have to stop using UCI's computers for this. If you have trouble viewing them (or any other feedback about or experience with Picasa), let me know.
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A follow-on to http://jrtom.livejournal.com/263283.html:

(A few days later)

me: "Can you say 'If you ask me a silly question, I'll give you a silly answer?'"

Corwin: "Yogurt with applesauce and porcupine."

"You always say that now. What other silly answers can you come up with?"

"Yogurt with applesauce and a car in it."

"What if you don't have any yogurt and applesauce?"

"Then just a car, then you eat it."

"What if you don't have any yogurt, applesauce, _or_ a car?"

"Then you eat the bowl. That will give you a silly answer."

I think I've been told.
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Scene: Corwin and I in a bathroom in my sister's house, where I'm helping him wash his hands at an overly tall sink. Corwin has just asked me about some minor detail of the arrangements in there (such as why the towels are where they are--in any case, the kind of detail about which I have zero information and can't usefully speculate). This is on the heels of a string of similar questions, and I'm feeling somewhat beleaguered.

me: "Corwin, why are you asking me this question?"

Corwin: "Because you're here."

This caused all present, once it was related to them, to start laughing their asses off. I think that it's the fact that, conceptually, it's where four-year-olds' straight answers, existentialist philosophy, and a certain flavor of humor (simultaneously invoking and denying a deep significance to the answer) collide that my friends are often fond of. (Fortunately for me.)


Scene: unimportant, really, but I think we were in the car at the time.

me: "Hey, Corwin, can you say 'If you ask me a silly question, I'll give you a silly answer?'"

Corwin: "Can you say 'I like to eat cars?'"

[a few days later, the above question repeated]

Corwin: "Applesauce yogurt and porcupine."

I think he's about ready to get introduced to British absurdist humor.
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Now that I think of it, this is really a natural venue for teaching these characters, or at least those that are still vaguely close to being pictograms. (Those of you who read Sinfest regularly may recall that they do something similar (rarely).
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About a week ago--shortly before New Year's Day, I guess, while Megan and I were visiting my family in Tucson--Corwin spontaneously said "I love you, Papa." for the first time ("spontaneously": without anyone having said anything related in his vicinity).

(I am sadly remiss in telling other micro-stories about the kids, like the twins' recent-ish bibliomania, but I had to get this one down.)
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I've asked my father (who's been a pediatrician longer than I've been alive) what he thinks about this.

I think that this is one of those cases in which a little knowledge (in this case, knowing that such studies exist, without knowing whether (and how) they apply to people you know, especially your children) is a dangerous thing. It seems like it would be very tempting to assume that certain behavioral tendencies were genetically driven--not because you have evidence, but because you know it's possible and because it can be comforting to believe that it's Not Your Fault. (Whatever it is.)

I think that it's entirely possible that our children will be the first generation for which most will have fairly comprehensive knowledge of, and possibly limited manipulation of, their own children's genetic makeup. This is not entirely reassuring: the makers of GATTACA made sure of that.


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