27 August 2002
Twenty-four

It's a curious age, twenty-four: still young enough to snicker when you get carded, not really old enough to be taken seriously by smug boomer types. And it's an age where things tend to happen, even if it's only waiting for another couple of years to go by so your car-insurance premiums will drop to a bearable level. I even got married at twenty-four, though I would seriously question the sanity of anyone seeing me as a role model.

And now my daughter is twenty-four. She's not getting married or anything like that, but she definitely buys into the idea that this is an age where things tend to happen: she's getting ready to move to a larger apartment, and she retains a back-burner plan to buy a house when she gets a few more dollars together. (On this latter item, she is way ahead of her old man, whose financial planning is dubious at best.)

The mathematics of all this started to sink in a few years ago. When she was two, I was twenty-seven, a ratio of 13.5. When she was ten, I was thirty-five, dropping the ratio to 3.5. Next year she'll be twenty-five and I'll be fifty, bringing it down to 2. "At what point do you start treating your children like adults?" asks every parent. I think the process becomes automatic, once you get to the point where you realize that you're not all that much older than they are anymore, a point that was underscored when last I visited my father (current ratio approximately 1.5) and one bald fact — "This man has a son pushing fifty, fercrissake" — stared me in the face.

Oh, well. Enough of my pointless noodling.

Happy birthday, Becky.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:28 AM)
And now there are two

Grandchildren, that is.

Well, technically, not until April 15 or so, but the groundwork has been laid, so to speak.

For Russell and Alicia, it's their first child, and the mixture of delirium and fear and wonder that comes with being a first-time parent is going to be a constant companion for the next eight months.

And they'll love every minute of it. Just you watch.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:16 PM)
29 March 2003
10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"

Please welcome Laney Paige Marie Hill, about six pounds, about nineteen inches, and about two and a half weeks early, to the Big Wide Occasionally-Wonderful World.

Photographs when I can get them. For now, Russ and Alicia are getting some sleep, and it's a good thing, because they won't be getting much sleep for the next year or so.

Please amend all previous utterances of "But I'm too young to have a grandchild" to read "But I'm too young to have two grandchildren."

Thank you.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:14 AM)
11 April 2003
First look

Laney Paige-Marie HillFor all of you demanding a picture of the new granddaughter — well, here's a picture of the new granddaughter.

(If you missed the original intro, this is Laney Paige-Marie Hill, born 29 March at around three in the morning, six pounds thirteen ounces, and 18.5 inches tall. God forbid I should ever have to relearn these statistics in metric.)

(This was edited at 9:50 am Saturday to add the second paragraph and to reshuffle the formatting slightly.)



Permalink to this item (posted at 7:41 PM)
13 April 2003
The blues, or at least the greens

I figure, I'm a Baltic Avenue sort of guy; I'd like to stay away from Mediterranean if possible — been there, didn't like it — but my aspirations don't rise much beyond Oriental or Vermont or Connecticut.

My daughter recently bought in on St. Charles Place, and while she was here in town this weekend, we somehow wound up doing a brisk impromptu tour of some of the higher colors on the board. We didn't get to Boardwalk, what with the big metal gates and all, but we did spend a few minutes on Park Place, and we hit some of the newer developments on the far side of Free Parking.

"When I see one of these places," she said somewhere around Ventnor Avenue, "I want to go up to the door and ask them, 'What in the world do you do for a living? How can you afford a place like this?'"

I said something like "You never know. Maybe the meth lab finally paid off."

We passed a teardown, where a grand old house from the Twenties was being replaced with something maybe more modern, certainly twice the size, and I pointed out that this was a small but annoying trend: "You'll find this sort of thing in new developments also: houses about twice as big as they ought to be for the lot. There's a whole subdivision full of McMansions that way." I gestured in the general direction of the Water Works.

"They have no yard," she complained. "I gripe about my yard, but at least I have one."

On the far reaches of town, we passed a new development going up. Gated, of course, and the sign contained the following requirement: Minimum 3200 sf.

"Thirty-two hundred!? That's three times the size of my house!"

"Fairly standard for new construction in this area," I said. "You live in 1067 square feet?"

"About twelve hundred. How could you possibly keep a place like that clean?"

"If you can afford the mortgage, you can probably also afford to have someone come in three times a week and cycle the dust."

"I wouldn't have it," she declared. "Seventeen hundred is big enough for me."

"Especially since you don't actually have it, huh?"

"Exactly." This child is way too much like me for her own good.

We took a run to the opposite end of town, to a development called Rivendell, mostly because I figured she'd be amused by the very concept, and somewhere east of Lorien Way (very much in the spirit of Marvin Gardens) I introduced the very same Monopoly metaphor I've been abusing here.

"I love these places," she admitted, "but I really don't want to live in something like this. It would be nice, though, to get a house up on St. James Place."

"It might at that," I agreed, and we turned around and headed back towards the railroad tracks.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:09 AM)
27 May 2003
Coming up on 60 days

Laney at seven weeksI figure it's just a matter of time before someone asks "Didn't you have a granddaughter a couple of months ago?" Nice to know the archives still work. In the meantime, here's a more current shot of the young lady with stars in her eyes. I should have such a facial expression; it borders on beatific. Unfortunately, I do have the hairline.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:58 AM)
17 October 2003
Welcome Elijah

Elijah, if you're wondering, is the son of Dan and Angi Lovejoy, Oklahoma bloggers, and the story of how he got here is the stuff of legend, with perhaps the occasional miracle.

If you want to read that story, it's not exactly organized into neat little segments, but this is a good place to start.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:22 PM)
10 November 2003
For those keeping score

Nicholas Cole Havlik, first of two grandchildren — let there be no more, at least for a while — reaches the ripe old age of four today.

My daughter is hoping that this doesn't mean he'll be twice the pill he was at two. :)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:19 PM)
21 November 2003
Ribit!

Laney, fall '03Yes, it's time for another Gratuitous Granddaughter Picture, as Laney creeps (or maybe hops) up towards eight months. (This undoubtedly serves as a harbinger of my eventual descent from Large Mammal to Crawly Amphibian or Frosted Toaster Pastry or whatever in the TTLB Ecosystem.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:32 PM)
28 March 2004
Is that all there is?

My daughter (twenty-six this year) complains occasionally of boredom: if you're a certain age, which is to say around her age, there's not as much to do as you might expect in a city the size of Kansas City.

I have tended to dismiss this as an adolescent rant on a delay cycle, but then I started to see complaints in blogdom, some of them similar, some of them hitting quite a bit harder. Here's Bruce:

Tulsa really needs to try harder to find ways to convince younger people to stay here. Without young people with disposable time and income it will be extremely difficult to build a thriving downtown. This will not only mean keeping good jobs here but making it worthwhile to stay with a fun and growing nightlife.

Right now, Tulsa is [a] single person's hell.

And in Kansas City specifically, from Christine:

If I've been down on KC lately, it's only because I came to the realization that there has to be something in the water here. Something that breeds an apathy so thick it borders on suicidal. There's a sick sense of codependancy as well. As if the collective conscious is saying "stay down here with us". Of course I'm not talking about everyone. Some people are perfectly happy here and do well. Unfortunately, there's a demographic that just doesn't belong here. Progressive, creative, free-thinking individuals just don't do well here as a whole. It's not for lack of trying, I know people who bust their asses daily to live here. But it so very rarely pays off. Not in cash, creative, or spiritual rewards. I so envy the few people I know who are happy and thriving here.

We're starting to hear about a "creative class," a group of people, largely single, probably around Christine's or Bruce's age, who demand both reasonable employment and reasonable enjoyment. And indeed there are cities where they tend to accumulate, none of which looks particularly like Tulsa or Kansas City. Dr. Richard Florida, guru presumptive to this demographic cohort, says that this sort of thing is inevitable:

[B]eing able to afford food and decent health care is merely a baseline requirement. Most people, including those on the lowest rungs, have a bigger vision, and it isn't "the chance to get rich," the line Reagan once borrowed from Lincoln. It's Jefferson's idea: the pursuit of happiness. The dream is to reap intrinsic rewards from our work rather than merely be "compensated" for the time and effort we put in.

As observers from the sociologist Ronald Inglehart to the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Fogel have pointed out, this is an effect of living in a post-scarcity, post-materialist society. Once a society moves above subsistence level, its members start seeking more than material rewards from their work.

I don't think I'm too old to recognize the validity of this observation, but I do think I'm probably too old to just pack up and move, the way Bruce might like to, the way Christine is going to. Part of this is the sensation that I've probably gotten all the career nurture I'm ever going to get, and I'm disinclined to start at the bottom somewhere else. But some of it is the fact that if I'm bored, I tend to assume that it's because of me, not because of where I live or what I think I'd like to do. Then again, I'm writing this while doing a load of laundry.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:45 AM)
30 March 2004
12 months/12,000 smiles

Laney is one year old


Laney celebrated her first birthday yesterday in grand style. (Well, actually, I don't think anyone spent a grand or anything, but she seems content, and a lot less spoiled than some grownups I know, if you know what I mean.) At this point, she's walking (if you hold her hand), and she's drinking out of an actual cup; tooth count, says proud mom, is three. My kids, of course, are decently cute, so it's only fair that their kids should be decently cute. I'm still wondering what happened to me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:55 PM)
27 August 2004
8 simple facts about my daughter

1)  She's engaged.

2)  I suspect it was her idea to have her fiancé request my blessing, so to speak.

3)  She owns what she says is the only house in the county that doesn't have a basement.

4)  She wears a size-ten shoe — when she's not wearing an eleven.

5)  Her profile at one of those portal sites, under "Hobbies and Interests," lists the following: "Home improvement and death metal."

6)  Her sense of humor is generally described as "warped." (Gee, I wonder where she got that?)

7)  She had been given up for dead a couple of hours before she was born.

8)  Which was on this date, twenty-six years ago.

Happy birthday, baby girl, you... you grownup, you.

(Addendum: Well, yeah, it's this guy's birthday, too.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
30 September 2004
Incipiently verbose

Say hello to Sadie Rose Ellis, not quite one day old but already capturing hearts and minds.

It's really hard to maintain Standard Blogger Grumpiness when you gaze into a face like that. (Awwww....)

Congratulations to Jay and Deb. The fun is just beginning.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:44 AM)
7 October 2004
It's xrlq

In lower case, for now, because he's only one day old.

Say hello to Baby Xrlq, of whom pictures are promised Real Soon Now. (Of course, the proud parents are no doubt, um, otherwise occupied right this minute.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:44 PM)
18 October 2004
Gratuitous granddaughter picture

A year and a half, and already she breaks hearts.

Laney at 18 months

(Question from a reader: "The title of this post — did you rip it off from Susanna Cornett ["Gratuitous Niece Photo"] or Kim du Toit ["Gratuitous Gun Pic"]?" Answer: Yes.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:02 PM)
10 November 2004
The Nickster is five

About five years and six and a half months ago, I let it be known that First Grandchild was on the way, and She Who Is Not To Be Named took it upon herself to predict the child's birthday: "November 10th. Same as mine."

She was, of course, accurate: Nicholas Cole Havlik indeed arrived on the tenth, to the amazement of the attending physician, who had predicted some other date. And while she doesn't go out of her way to remind me about how accurate she is, this is one of those times when she doesn't have to.

(No, I'm not telling you how old she is. Sheesh.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:58 AM)
22 November 2004
And speaking of those pesky Boomers

Lileks provides one of his classic rhetorical wedgies:

[E]very generation has something that shocks their parents. Today's parents are horrified by games that let 13-year-old boys steal cars and hire hookers. Well, Elvis bothered people in the '50s. We can't really judge; otherwise we'd just be like our parents, and our entire worldview and our flattering self-regard is based on the fact that we are not like our parents. Were they on the Williams-Sonoma mailing list? I don't think so. So we don't forbid our kids to have these games. We do our part by worrying about them loudly in various media outlets. Preferably TV.

Grateful am I that except in the minor areas of mannerisms and quirk level, my children are nothing like me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:22 AM)
20 January 2005
Dinner with Draco

Make it a couple of Slurpees.

Congratulations to Rosemary and Dean Esmay. He's a beaut.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 AM)
1 February 2005
It's a girl

Meet Ella Hope Holtsberry, born Friday afternoon.

Let there be cheers and celebration.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:38 PM)
31 March 2005
Cam's daily double

And another door opens.

Say hello to James Peter and Catherine Marie.

And Cam? Forget about sleeping for the next couple of years. Then again, you already know this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:57 AM)
28 June 2005
Gratuitous grandchild photo

Laney Paige-Marie Hill, 26 months)When you're in love, the whole world is two-ish. This girl is apparently as camera-happy as a Congressman, and with a whole lot more justification. (And she doesn't know it yet, but some time next spring she's gonna be someone's big sister. I thought I warned my son about that sort of thing. Then again, I'm not particularly mindful of stuff like that either; if I had been — well, never mind. Don't go there. In fact, don't even acknowledge that there's a "there" there. If you must say something, remind my daughter that she, too, has a child, and she doesn't send me anywhere near as many pictures, hint, hint.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:29 PM)
10 July 2005
Say something nice, Janet

"Hey, I know! Let's take the kids to see Rocky Horror!"

Oh, lucky them.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:20 PM)
27 July 2005
Flashes from the road

Nick with StickThese two pictures (there were others, but I liked these two) were taken on the Fourth of July at my daughter's house in Independence, Missouri, the first night of the World Tour. In the first shot, Nicholas (my daughter's son) wields a sparkler with as much élan as is humanly possible for a child of five and a half, mainly because he's already been informed that the bottle rockets are off limits, thank you very much. (He accepted this judgment with only minor complaint, which tells me that either he's actually maturing a bit, or he didn't hear it all.)

Laney without StickMeanwhile, Laney (my son's daughter) is only two and isn't allowed such scary devices; she'd like you to know that she missed out by this much. And if she had ever been fearful of loud noises before, which I kind of doubt — her father plays the drums, fercryingoutloud — this experience surely cured her of the phobia.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:51 PM)
14 August 2005
Gotta have pop

My daughter's "alternative" credentials are just this side of impeccable — she once managed a death-metal band, fercryingoutloud — but there are tell-tale cracks in the façade.

Last night she told me about her new favorite track, which turns out to be "Tired of Being Sorry" by Ringside. I gave it a listen, and it's indeed compulsively listenable, but it's also about as "alternative" as, God help me, "Reach Out of the Darkness".

Seduced by pop, and by the light side of pop at that. It could happen to you.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:25 AM)
10 November 2005
Now he is six

I have a great deal of trouble with the idea that I now have a grandchild six years old; it just seems so impossible, you know? And yet he was five years old a year ago, four years old two years ago, and so on down the line, in strict compliance with the laws of mathematics.

Oh, well. Happy birthday, Nick. Now cool it for a moment so your mom can get some sleep, okay?

(Aside to someone else born on this date: How is it that he ages one year every twelve months and you age one year every twelve years?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:11 PM)
26 November 2005
A rather biting photograph

Nick HavlikWayward Daughter occasionally coughs up a picture of her one and only, who turned six earlier this month. And when she does, well, it's time to warm up the scanner, and so I did. At least the lad isn't developing Dumbo-esque ears like his grandfather (seen here at the age of 8, maybe 9 at the outside), which would be a catastrophe.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:43 PM)
3 January 2006
Contributing from Day One

Well, maybe Day 150 or so.

After the birth of a child there's always the temptation to say "Yes, it's cute, but what can it do?" Until recently the answer was simply "lie there and cry," but now babies can be put on the payroll, so to speak, almost as soon as they are born.

On the downside, this presumes a level of dryness which may not always be realizable, or perhaps a level of wetness you might not wish to have distributed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
18 January 2006
T minus six months

The Man from F.U.N.K.L.E. addresses his remarks to the contents of Angelina Jolie's womb:

But now comes the tough love, and here we speak directly to the unborn Infangelina, as it glows elsewhere in its celestial holding cell: yes, you'll be beautiful, genetically flawless, and famous from the moment you're born. Yes, you'll be received by the public like some combination of the dauphin heir and a foolproof new diet drug. You will be worshipped. You will be gobbled.

But not yet. And not by us.

Because you already have such a high risk factor of Michael Jacksonitis, we won't help incubate the virus. You're going to have to earn your fame. Not just by mewling and twitching and being all cute and baby-like. Not just by casting your poor adoptive siblings in shadow, those who were rescued from unfortunate conditions only now to become the most Outshone Kids in Human History. Oy, talk about issues. Talk about therapy.

But you, The Infangelina, will need to, you know, do something. You run the risk of becoming the biggest Paris Hilton of all time. So no sooner will you come tumbling out of the womb and dazzling us with your glory, then you need to pick up a guitar. Maybe write a book. Adopt some pets. Make your papa proud and become an architect. By which we really mean, become a grounded, well-rounded, compassionate person, so that you'll be able to handle all the attention, once the whole healing-the-lame, making-the-blind-to-see stuff starts.

It occurs to me that this might be worthwhile advice to the future children of normal people as well.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:17 AM)
31 January 2006
Make that three grandchildren

Just arrived (well, not just, but in the last few hours): Jackson Marshall Hill, height 20¾ inches, weight 8 lb 8 oz, and, uncharacteristic of my clan, four weeks early.

Photo to follow when I get one; Russ and Alicia are fine, and Laney is mesmerized by this sibling business.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:23 PM)
5 February 2006
Highly Jacksonian

Jackson, very earlyAs promised, an early picture of Jackson Marshall Hill, firmly established as Grandchild #3, and presumably not fazed by an abundance of bloodwork in his first week, motivated by suspicions of jaundice. (It did drag him back into the hospital for overnight observation, but he's out and about; this being Russ and Alicia's second child, they've learned to outfit him with generic overalls instead of paying through the nose for OshKosh, b'gosh.) He has no idea what he's in for, of course, but how many of us did at the age of 0.7 week? I've got 2700-odd weeks to my credit, and I still don't know what's waiting around the bend. (A larger version of this photo, in which he doesn't look especially yellow to me anyway, can be had by clicking on the smaller one; sensibly, he's not fond of flash.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:39 PM)
27 March 2006
You ... you siblings!

Laney and JacksonWhat's going on here? Laney, still two years old for two or three more days, and Jackson, still creeping up on two months, apparently have figured out this brother/sister thing just fine. Meanwhile, offscreen, Dad looks over at Mom, then looks up and offers a silent prayer of thanks that the kids got her hair rather than his (and, in accordance with those genealogical schemes you've been hearing about, rather than mine). Feel free to click here to embiggen.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:18 AM)
12 April 2006
All these questions

You don't have to ask: Monty has heard them all before, and it's starting to get her goat (which, incidentally, is on the pole):

"When will you..."
"How do you..."
"What can you..."

...I don't know
...I DON'T KNOW
...I DON'T KNOW IDONTKNOWIDONTKNOW

The Goat Getting is so much worse when it is my own mind betraying me by asking those awful, awful Questions.

Somedays the I Don't Know is so strong that I want to cry in frustration.
Scream.
Pound things.
I want to turn in my SuperMom tights and cape because
I CAN NOT COPE
NOT
ONE
MORE
SECOND.

How do I get past it?

I.Don't.Know.

And "third base" won't suffice as an answer. Not this time.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:10 AM)
17 May 2006
The decline of the parental unit

Having children buys you no social status these days, says the Professor:

My mother reports that when she was a newlywed (she was married in 1959) you weren't seen as fully a member of the adult world until you had kids. Nowadays to have kids means something closer to an expulsion from the adult world. People in the suburbs buy SUVs instead of minivans not because they need the four-wheel-drive capabilities, but because the SUVs lack the minivan's close association with low-prestige activities like parenting, and instead provide the aura of high-prestige activities like whitewater kayaking. Why should kayaking be more prestigious than parenting? Because parenting isn't prestigious in our society. If it were, childless people would drive minivans just to partake of the aura.

How did we get to this parlous state? There are plenty of obvious answers, most of them wrong. In terms of cultural phenomena, I'd think the most likely might be the general refusal of my generation (yes, Virginia, I am one of those hated baby-boomers) to let go of its adolescence, thereby providing a Bad Example for the generations to come. But it might be as simple as this:

Parenting was always hard work, of course. But aside from the economic payoffs, parents used to get a lot of social benefits, too. But in recent decades, a collection of parenting "experts" and safety-fascist types have extinguished some of the benefits while raising the costs, to the point where what's amazing isn't that people are having fewer kids, but that people are having kids at all.

Think of that high-zoot car seat (which you'll have to replace two or three times as the youngster grows) as an unfunded mandate.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:20 AM)
20 May 2006
I do believe it's true

Jackson and Laney at the Kansas City ZooSomething told me it's all happening at the zoo, but Jax and Laney, it appears, are calling a temporary halt to the proceedings. (Embiggened version here.) Try not to notice that the three-year-old seems to have pierced ears, fercrissake.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 AM)
17 June 2006
Tall guy at the far end of the table

"Call me Dad," says Chuck Cohen to his progeny:

One reason I liked being a Dad is that Dad definitely sounds as if the person referred to is younger than the age on his driver's license. Someone who is called "Father" by his children belongs in a Victorian novel. He wears a coat and tie to the dinner table, "harrumphs" a lot, looks disparagingly upon all attempts at levity, and refers to his wife as "Mother." He belongs in a stiffly posed portrait hung above a mantle.

I harrumph a lot, but getting me into a coat and tie usually requires a funeral. And I'm all in favor of that level of informality that stops just short of "breezy."

Still, there are times when "Dad" doesn't seem to fit:

"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your dad."

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my dad. Prepare to die."

But if they ever come out with a pain reliever specifically for men — women have Midol and Pamprin and such — I hope they have the temerity to call it "Dadvil."

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:22 PM)
4 July 2006
It's a Noggle

Congratulations to Heather and Brian W. J.

(Photo here.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:03 PM)
27 July 2006
Recommended noises

So I figure the least I can do is plug my son's band, right?

Band poster

Warning: Link is sorta loud.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:36 PM)
28 July 2006
One minor detail

"My friends," said my daughter, "are trying to talk me into one of those online-dating services."

There are a number of reasons why this might not work, but this one stands out:

She has no computer and no Net access.

I would consider these major obstacles, but then, I'm just the parental unit.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:20 AM)
31 July 2006
A couple of grandkid shots

Two out of three grandchildren

At left, Nicholas is given the Tickle Torture by his mom; meanwhile, Laney assumes the position at dance recital.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:06 PM)
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The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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