When I say Max has a big head, I mean the kind of head that forces Pierre and I to rip his shirts at the head-hole so they’ll fit over his noodle.

Cranially Endowed
Cranially Endowed

 
From the beginning when Max & Emmanuelle first arrived in this world, the nurses declared, “Your babies sure have big heads!” However, it wasn’t until a recent trip to the pediatrician that I heard concern intermixed with the aforementioned statement.

The doctor, pointing at Max’s birth chart, showed us that his baby head is larger than 98% of all toddlers his age, while his weight is above only 3.75% of others. Manu is close behind with a 93%/23% head to weight ratio. In other words… Yo, those some big headed chickadees we got!

The concern of the pediatrician was Hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain”. It can cause increased intracranial pressure and enlargement of the head, convulsion, and mental disability. It can also cause death.

Feeding the head that bites.
Feeding the head that bites.

We quickly make an appointment and drive to SF to have the kiddo’s ultrasounds done. A quick side note…. Waiting in waiting rooms with other parents/babies is like a movie set. You have all the stereotypes present: The mom who googoo-gagas in a little girl voice non-stop at her 3 month old little mushball who is fast asleep, the mom with 5 kids who reads People magazine while her baby-mob runs wild. Of course there is the Caucasian woman with the $800 stroller judging it all with righteous eyebrows stuck on her mrs. potato head. No one says anything. It’s normal ya’ll.

So, we go into a low lit room with a blue-scrub technician. Max lets us know that he’ll be the brave one and be the first to get hooked up to that Frankenstienian looking device lurking in the corner.

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose” Frankenstein
“Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose” Frankenstein

After little monsieur was all plugged in, no electricity spewed forth, and no lightening poured from the heavens, but lying there, Max sure was interested in the screen. He stared at the light from start to finish, so we asked the tech girl to describe to him what she was seeing. Max listened to it all, all the while transfixed on that light.

Next was Manu’s turn who showed equal bravery, but thanked Max for walking the plank first. All went well, we drive home, and now we wait.
 
 
 
 
Fast Forward 2 days:

We got the results and everything is normal! So, it’s no big deal for our big head babies. Our kiddos might have a bit more trouble walking with such a massive trophy on top their shoulders, but other than that, their heads are filled with the same things that mine and Pierre’s are filled with: Some goo, some glop, some ooze and strong will.

As for the hydrocephalus, that was scary. Who has a 97% head and a 3% body?
Not even this man, who holds the title for the most famous case involving hydrocephalus ever. He was a 44-year old French man, whose brain had been reduced to little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue due to the buildup of fluid in his skull. In the picture below, all of the black area in the middle is cerebrospinal fluid (water) and the brain matter is the rim of white along the outside!

The perfect machine
The perfect machine

An excerpt from Wiki:
Dr. Lionel Feuillet of Hôpital de la Timone said, “The images were most unusual… the brain was virtually absent.” Intelligence tests showed the man had an IQ of 75, below the average score of 100 but not considered mentally retarded or disabled, either.
Remarkably, the man was a married father of two children, and held a job, leading a normal life despite having little brain tissue.”

Fascinating how we learn to compensate physically, mentally &/or psychologically within the confines of our environment. (Those who don’t move to San Francisco or New York ; )

So, the only extra water Max and Manu have is outside filling up their baby swimming pool. Halluhlooya.

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Hey Emmanuelle, look what mommy bought for you today! Yes, your first pair of high heels. I think its time you have a pair… I mean how old are you now? 13 months? Such a late bloomer.
Here you go honey, hot pink pumps in perfect size 3″.
What? They hurt your little toes? Yeah, that part of the trade-off, but wow they look awesome and everyone at the party is going to think you are the cutest thing evah.

Seeing you makes me wish I could fit into a pair of those naugahyde suckers. If I break my toes and bind it for a few years, I’m sure I can make it fit and then its matching outfits for me and you! Weeee. I should have been a designer. Why didnt I think of that? High heels for infants. Fucking brilliant.

Early developmental feminism
Early developmental feminism

 
Didn’t we learn anything from Jonbenet?

“On my way to play marbles”
“On my way to play marbles”

Standards change, but our obsession and allegiance to beauty never has and doubtfully never will. Cross culturally, spanning 1000s of years, our ideals of beauty no matter how painful, expensive or even crippling has ruled many a heart & mind. What’s interesting now, is how it’s marketed to us. But what about back then?

While searching for the image above of those ridiculous infant heels, I was reminded of the more notable practices we’ve subjected children to in the name of beauty & cultural acceptance over the years, such as Chinese foot binding.
 
 
 
Over a billion Chinese girls were maimed and crippled in this practice that lasted over 1000 years. A casual play by play from Wikipedia sits below:

Orthopedics; Chinese woman, World War 1 era.
Orthopedics; Chinese woman, World War 1 era.

When girls were around 3 to 6 years old, the toes on each of their feet were pressed with great force downwards and into the sole of the foot until the toes broke. The broken toes were then held tightly against the sole of the foot and wrapped tightly with cotton bandages prepared by soaking them in a blood and herb mixture. The foot was then drawn down straight and the arch forcibly broken. The bandages were repeatedly wound in a figure eight movement, forcing the freshly broken toes to be pressed tighter into the sole of the foot. At each pass the binding pulled the ball of the foot and the heel ever close together, causing the broken foot to fold at the arch. The end of the binding cloth was then sewn tightly to prevent the girl from loosening it. This unbinding and rebinding ritual was repeated as often as possible (for the rich at least once daily). The girl was not allowed to rest after her feet had been bound; however much pain she was suffering, she was required to walk on her broken and bound feet, so that her own body weight would help crush them into the desired shape.

Fashion Smashin: An xray of bound feet.
Fashion Smashin: An xray of bound feet.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yes, I shamefully left Max & Manu to forage their own fun while I indulged in my fascination with ritual and modification. Fascinated in part because societies & families, both historic and current, willingly maim their own. I’m interested in why human beings instigate and conform to widespread abuse, noting that those who sanctimoniously deny the possibility within themselves are often the most capable of all. Recent cases like The Stanford Experiment and the US military’s condoning of torture come to mind.

I am reading & thinking more about how P and I can create for Max & Emmanuelle healthy rituals or rights of passage that will help them feel empowered by and comfortable in the changes they’ll experience in their own bodies & mind. Helping Manu into high heels certainly isn’t one of them as you see, my own first experience with heels was less than stellar.

I was at church, and instead of sitting in the pews itemizing my sins, I was off chasing a potential boyfriend through the halls. I had all the confidence in the world I would catch him in my brand new pair of high heeled Candies, and as he ran down a flight of stairs, I went right after him…. head first. As I hit the bottom stair, with my dress piled up over my head, I was too shocked to move but I remember going home and tossing those shoes in the back of my closet. I was in my late 20s before I ever wore another pair. I didn’t blame the shoes, I just felt my skill and competence on the flat would get me much further in life than perched like a little bird on my toes.
 

“I’d rather go naked than wear high heels”
“I’d rather go naked than wear high heels”

 
 
* High heels and Chinese foot binding are not being compared in this post.

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POOP

By Merritt | Filed under Little People | 5 comments 

 

This is serious...
This is serious…

 
Have you ever seen a baby try to fall asleep and have a poop at the same time? No? Its like a flute competing with a kettle drum in that order, and with the limited range of baby’s concentration and muscle tone, it is an impressive match to behold. But, we all know who wins…

Poop.

I was driven to the edge today by poop. It started last night with Manu unable to sleep because she just kept pooping. By 2 pm today, I had changed 7 diapers from my kiddos full of the stuff . But it did not stop there, I just lost count.

Then, at 5:00 it was off to the park where I followed my dog around picking up more poop.

Finally with the pooch-poops collected and tossed to the trash, we all head home and as I am gathering Max & Emmanuelle out of their stroller, I kid you not, my sniffer detects that familiar bouquet. Baby poo-poo is a smell as distinct as butter popcorn at a corporate-plex movie theatre — sorta gross, sorta sweet.

So after I unload the kiddos, I ferret around their britches for the felon and I find it in Max. Off we run to the changing table. He is looking at me smiling. I am looking at him asking if he is doing this on purpose. He starts laughing with all his heart and I’m sure hes understood me.
 

House-sized dookie! Artist Paul McCarthy's “Complex Sh*t”
House-sized dookie! Artist Paul McCarthy’s “Complex Sh*t”

 
During the day, I like to record what I feed Max & Manu, and if I forget it’s really not a problem because a reminder is just a poop away. Just wait a few hours and you will get all the evidence of the latest feeding in the pantaloon. If the baby ate carrots - a nice burnt orange poo will greet you. If baby ate summer vegetables - a funny ochre-hued excreta you will find.

One day, I got a lil’ crazy and fed them in succession: peas, prunes and a little left over sweet potato. And like clockwork, a few hours later I hear Pierre’s screech from the changing room. You see, if no one tells you that the baby poops out exactly what you feed him, its quite a surprise. I liken it to the opera scene in Amadues where the actors toss all kinds of food into a wooden horse’s mouth and within seconds the horse raises it’s tail and the same food (stalks of celery, bundles of onions) come crashing out onto the floor.

Same with baby. So, I rush to see what Pierre’s cries are all about and there, rooted to the spot layeth a tri-colored turd. A purple, orange and green figurine looking no different than a Playdo mold your child might bring you from toddler art class. “Here mommy, heres a pretty paper weight I made you.”

But you know, at least it’s a solid! At least its something that one can apprehend and control. Unlike that other, closely related cousin…. the big “D”.

I had heard stories from the nurses at CPMC about preemies about how tiny babies could expel more poo than body weight in a projectile out the little openings in the incubator and all over their clothes. They described this incredible combustible force that propelled it all. We laughed over several of these stories. It really was a point of humor with them.

Well, funny for them in their polyester scrubs, after-hours cleaning crew, and hospital owned furnishings…

Because about 2 months after we had brought Max & Emmanuelle home, I was working fast to change my baby’s diaper when all of a sudden a blast of poo, no, a torrent of brown hydrous confetti comes jetting out and sprays in all directions. My white curtains, the freshly painted lemon yellow walls, the free-standing wardrobe and all my clothing (um, silk trousers, linen dresses, dry cleanable … yeah). All contaminated. I don’t like to use contaminate and baby in the same sentence, but… there is no other word is there?

Baby reacted to my shrieking with a meltdown of tears. And right then, there was something beautiful - an epiphany of sorts in the moment following. Looking at this little person in front of me I immediately forgave, understood, fixed baby up and held her next to me, lulling in her ear that everything will be okay — that I am sorry if there was any pain or upset tummy in her little/big experience.

It was amazing to stop my physiological reaction, feel the waste of energy expelled, and really see the moment for what is was. Nothing that 1000’s of parents haven’t gone through. A silly story to tell in the future, some clothes that can be replaced, and my little baby whose system is learning everything for the first time ever. Watching Max & Manu’s bodies change on almost a daily basis is a pleasure and fascinating. The body human - the perfect machine. Their growths reminds me of how magnificent my own casing is.
 

An inconvenient truth.
An inconvenient truth.

 
But about that poop thing. I really am tired of it. And yes I’ve seen that popular book, “Everybody Poops“, but must they poop all day long?

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    Dont forget you to click on images to see larger versions.

 
Take out the mono candle! It’s Max & Emmanuelle’s first Birthday today!!

They’re one year old. One year! and oh what a year it was….

Emmanuelle ma fille
Emmanuelle ma fille

A year ago today at 10am I was hearing the first cries of baby Max and Manu. As soon as they were delivered into this world, their high pitch mewls came in rapid succession like a baby bird fallen from her nest. Panicking. And me, lying on a hard bed with a side of spinal tap, listening to the scurry and the unruffled voices of doctors & pre-term specialists buzzing around me. Fear, joy, and clarity-disparity were all along for the ride and for a long moment I stared up to the ceiling, simultaneously feeling everything and feeling nothing. Thinking of the decisions that had brought me to this pinpoint moment.
 
 

Everyday is naked day!
Everyday is naked day!

A year later, as in right now, I’m sitting with Max, Manu & Frenchy-baby-daddy-Pierre opening presents and telling the kiddos they are no longer infants but bona fide toddlers. “You’re a little man, Max. You are my petite mademoiselle, Emmanuelle”. They laugh and caw looking at us, waving back to us with their little hands having no idea what it means, just that it connects us. Max is carefully turning everything in his hands and in between his fingers. Emmanuelle along side him, insisting all graspable matter around her bend to her will (or just make alot of noise).

They of course are less interested in presents than their wrapping and all the noise and mayhem they can generate. Shred all that paper, chew it up and spit it out. Pound the crap out of all things tangible. Oooo, those batteries taste scads better than the boring pacifier. You get the idea… Babies for bedlam, in a wonder world where entropy reigns.
 

Stand back mere mortal, this one is....
“Stand back mere mortal, this present is….”

 
I can barely remember what life felt like without them. Like they were always meant to be here, it just took awhile to get around to laying the gateway for their arrival. Prior there was always something I told myself I needed to do first - a list that can be never ending. I felt locked into a lifestyle whose universe centered around the “me”. I wanted to let go in order to step outside it, but that’s a hard sword to lay down…
 

Whats on the inside is
“OMG! We’re being attacked by a sheep head!”

 
Traveling for 3 years throughout the 3rd World was indeed getting out, but returning to life in the US was bittersweet. I experienced things I will never be able to convey and in re-entering the life I had left, I became more an observer than participant. But it was my solo travel to Thailand & India living in different monasteries for meditation practice that really brought me into the present. This changed several things - some of it very painful.
 

Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of a baby!
“Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of a baby!”

 
I realized I needed to end certain friendships due to their unhealthy and negative nature and evaluate assumed ways in my thinking that either no longer served purpose or no longer held truth. Dynamics within my family needed to shift as well.

Community and creating a family became important, but I think I was afraid of committing to growing kids until one day Pierre bluntly says, “You aren’t serious about having kids, and you are going to wake up one day and realize it’s too late. You need to get serious if you want kiddos.” That little phrase worked wonders because 2 moths later I was pregnant with twins.

All that to say it was quite a journey that brought me to my children and they to me. It’s always astounding how common childbirth is, but how unique, how mystical the experience can be to each human being.

Pierre and I, we made 2 amazing little people. I can’t believe our fortune on this one. Our kiddos laugh and smile sun up to sun down unless tired or hungry. They go to bed with little effort, they are healthy and beautiful and really full of such marked personality. I pull them into my arms, I smell their skin and melt when their little arms and hands clutch at my shoulders, their legs kicking with delight to be held. I burn this into my memory and into my flesh. It is so primal, so animal.

So Happy Birthday Max, Bon Anniversaire Emmanuelle. And thank you Pierre for helping stir, pour and mix the pot, er petri dish and bring the kiddos into our lives. You’re a fantastic father.

2
2 months: “I have never known life without you”
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that’s me
that’s me

 
My name is Max, and this is me okay.

I get fasinated with electronic thingys, and so I am going to rite my own blog today. Right now, I am an infant but not for long, ’cause in 3 days its my birthday, and Manus too! Then we are toddlers! Then I can be a little man.

symbiotic woofness
symbiotic woofness

My mom calls me petite souris (little mouse), and sometimes she calls me her monkey because when she and papa pick me up, I cling like crazy to them and squirm. I am so happy to be close to them that all my little arms and legs shake with fun. I do this too when Pius comes in the room. I am a silly baby sometimes. I love things a hole lot.

I had my head measured today at my doctor. It is really big, so I am going to be a smarty in my pants toddler. Big blue veins run through my head carrying lots of goo and stuff. My mom loves the veins in my head. She takes pictures of them. She is crazy about my clothes. I dont know why. Everyone looks at how cute I am, not at my clothes.

I can almost walk too. If you let me hold your 2 pinky fingers, I can run my little legs all around the house. I love to chase Pius and go into every room to see whats going on. I can walk to infinity and beyond if my mom would let me but she falls over after 15 minutes and screams, “Enough Max, my back is bleeding!” But its never enough. I want to run mama!
 

Manu & I have a special baby language
Manu & I have a special baby language

 
I only scream and cry a little when I’m hungry or sleepy. I save the real high pitch caterwauling for when my maman and papa take away the iPhones. I love to play music on them, and look at the klidascope color balls that dance on the screen. I like to stick it in my mouth and slobber all over it and stain its kangaroo pouch. Manu likes it too, but not like me. Manu is my best friend. We play together all day, and she visitis me in my crib every morning to wake me up because sometimes i cry when I wake up.
 

I’m looking at a duck.
I’m looking at a duck.

I dont know why, I am very sensitive. I am shy too. When I meet new people I smile all over my face but then I burry my face in my mama’s shoulder and turn pink with shy. And I think cause I am so sensitive, that that is why I cry in the morning sometimes, cause I like to be held and squeezed. As soon as someone comes for me then I smile alot. And then I keep smiling, especially when we go for walks in the park in the late sun each day. Maman carries me and papa carries Manu. I am a skinny baby like my papa. But like I said, I have a big head.
 
 
So oh yea, its my birthday soon. I was really small when I was born. Only 3 pounds and it was so scary. please send me birthday wishes for me and my sister to be strong and smart and happy and healthy babies. and to live long lives full of passion (whatever that means, Im just a baby) and some other stuff too. I love you. I love everyone now cause I am a baby. My maman is going to turn me upside down and swing me around when she sees what Ive done with her computer.
baby love, Max
 
 

Baby Love
Baby Love
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Manu, my daughter is a silly filly. If there’s a place you don’t want her to go, that’s the place you will find her. She is a trickster and a barrel of monkeys. Let me tell you about Emmanuelle…

Give me back my Scientific American!
Give me back my Scientific American!

My daughter is strong. She will go through & tear apart your magazines and eat them, and then dare you to fish around in her mouth with your nubby digit in a futile attempt to retrieve the pulpy slush between her gnashing gums.
 
 
 

The
The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My daughter is a sneaky caterpillar. She will wriggle like a larvic commando across the floors to your favorite house plants, rip and shred their leaves from their mother trunk and caw with delight as you try resurrecting the dead, dismembered branches back to life.

My girl has the fastest lobster claw in the west. Before you can say, “That poached salmon and carafe of wine looks divine”, she’ll have everything in a godspeed trajectory to planet floor.

In motion for some commotion.
In motion for some commotion.

Right now, as we sit and listen to some Brain Eno music application on my iPhone, I am watching it slowly make its way towards her mouth. Maybe she thinks it will sound better with a viva voce reverb! Or that a baby slobber-filled jack helps the output levels. Never mind the mountain of toys, books, and play things strewn all around her. She has quite an eye, quite a honing device for the no-go zone.

And then, when I whisk her into my arms away from the aforementioned dangers, her face is unfailingly full of surprise. I ask her how she always seems to find that rich vein of mischief while exploring her universe. And even though she can’t talk just yet, she can answer with her eyes, “Why momma, that’s where all the interesting things are. I’m not afraid. I’ll go far.”

I love getting to know you.
I love getting to know you.
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Max has always been fascinated by the light and he’s fairly sensitive to it. He loves anything that shines, glows, shimmers, glistens, twinkles, sparkles, glares, blinks or flashes - and, like daddy, he sneezes a couple of times when taken outside on a bright sunny morning. So today must have been one of the happiest days of his little existence: today was the day of the Blue Light.

Click for larger images.
 

Close Encounters of the First Kind: Sighting
Close Encounters of the First Kind: Sighting

 

Close Encounters of the Second Kind:Physical Evidence
Close Encounters of the Second Kind:Physical Evidence

 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Contact
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Contact

 

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Love
Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Love

 

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I’ve got some bad news, my friends, for those of you who believe that after the human race pillages and pollutes our home planet to death, that we’ll be able to miraculously venture into the Galaxy looking for other Massalias to plant our brassicas. I’m sorry to say it just isn’t so.

I am the MASTER of the Universe!
I am the MASTER of the Universe!

Let’s look at it like this: If the Sun was the size of an orange, the Earth would be a tiny bread crumb floating 20 meters away (20 yards). Try it in your backyard, it’s very telling. Now imagine the light traveling from the Sun to the Earth takes 8 minutes, which it does. That’s 20 meters in 8 minutes which means that at that scale, light would travel through your backyard at the speed of a dung beetle! (whose speed is demonstrated here by Manu crawling across the carpet).

It’s easy to fathom the Earth at 20 meters from the Sun. Now, still at this scale, how far do you think the nearest stars from us would be? A few kilometers maybe? Nope. A few state lines over? Nope.

The nearest stars would be 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) away… more than the distance from San Francisco to Paris!

Can I eat the Dung Beetle, daddy?
Can I eat the Dung Beetle, daddy?

So if the Sun was the size of an orange, its nearest neighbors would be like a handful of cherry tomatoes and a few Halloween pumpkins floating about in random directions 10,000 kilometers away. How long do you think it would take that poor dung beetle to crawl from San Francisco to Paris?

On our journey to find ourselves another home in the Universe, we already know that our neighboring stars can’t harbor any planet that could support life, so we would have to explore further, much further, maybe even the entire Galaxy. How big would our Galaxy be at that scale? Let’s say that if the Sun and the Earth could fit into a cozy backyard here in San Francisco, the nearest star would be in Paris and the rest of the Galaxy would stretch over 130 million kilometers — almost the distance to the Sun!

So here we are: for us to explore the Galaxy at the speed of light, it would be like a dung beetle crawling through a piece of land as wide as the Solar System between the Sun and the Earth. Good luck finding something, Mr Beetle! And we don’t even travel at the speed of light yet: our hypothetical Mr Lightspeed Dung Beetle is still 20,000 faster than our fastest rockets.

See the task at hand? Sorry folks, no dreamin’, we’re stuck on good old Earth!

Don’t worry, daddy, I’ll follow the Dung Beetle all the way across the Galaxy
Don’t worry, daddy, I’ll follow the Dung Beetle all the way across the Galaxy

 

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Pius, Pierre, Max, Manu & I, we don’t get out much but when we do, we love that people routinely comment on how aware Max is, and on Manu’s spirited determination. Once, a dainty lady in a boutique even claimed: “I feel a spiritual connection with your son. I think we’ve know one another“. Okaaaay. All that, but never has anyone said our kiddos look like someone famous. And that’s a good thing…

 
Gerber baby all growed up
Gerber baby all growed up

In movie star land, this can be especially touchy.
I’m sure there are people who find Peter Lorre interesting looking, and he does kind of have that baby-esque big head thing going, but hopefully no one makes such a comparison when the child’s mother has sharp objects within her reach.

 

 

A parent’s worst nightmare
A parent’s worst nightmare

With politicians, the slope gets even slipperier. Especially in these times. I mean, you remember that guy right? Yeah, him. I mean, what if? What if it really were true, and you tried to deny it until someone eventually stops you on the street & makes it all real. “Hey, did you notice, your child looks just like Geor…”

 

Maybe a real human isn’t involved at all, as a well-meaning pal lovingly praises, “You know, your baby has a face like that cute little alien ET in that cute little movie”. Before tears, strangulation and the turrets strike, smile knowingly that at least baby doesnt bear resemble to that precious other fellow.

Love thy Precious
Love thy Precious
 

 

Finally, the temptation to project cute little animals onto baby isn’t advisable either. Rover may be cute and it’s true, he may look just like your best friend’s baby, but do your self a favor; extend your life and your relationship a few years longer and bite your tongue — even if it bleeds.

Everything reminds me of my dog.
Everything reminds me of my dog.
 

 

At 2.5 pounds at birth, we’re exceptionally lucky that Monsieur Max and Mademoiselle Manu are as healthy as they are. That they’re such a treat to lay our eyes on is the cherry on top. But even if they did look a little funny, we’d love them all the same!
 
The eyes are a sense far too overused in matters of sizing up one’s character.
I hope we are able to teach our kiddos different.
 
* Some images from “The Poop” parenting website.

We dusted off some old videos: Max & Manu in their crib at 3 months and 6 months. So old, so old… They are almost 10-month old now!


 

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