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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: Back in From Celebrating Nate's First Birthday 
11th-Oct-2009 11:05 pm
Nieces 3 (and Nephew!)
Just back in from the 10pm campus Mass at the Chapel of the Holy Family right after arriving home from my quick weekend with family celebrating nephew Nate's first birthday, which is actually coming up on the 29th. Nate was in his (more-or-less) characteristic good spirits, being a pretty amiable baby. I thought he's looking more like Daniele now, whereas at first I mostly saw Dave, Daniele's dad in him. He was amazingly wired last night on cake and ice cream, so he stayed up 'til late hours with the adults giggling and cooing until he finally crashed. He's still far more muscle-ly and strong than any recorded Novak: far more of an upper-body workout in taking care of him than any of the nieces were. He gives you that whole Charles Atlas thing: the "dynamic tension" of constantly pushing back against you or trying to climb over you, so that holding him is always kind of wrestling him (with lots of laughing).

Niece highlights included Grace telling me once again (as she did a few weeks ago when I babysat), "You need to get married before you turn fifty." That gave me an interesting perspective on how I look to a seven year old: a pre-geriatric uncle guilty of nothing more than laziness, apparently, in not just getting off my rear and giving her cousins to have fun with. I did, of course, also appreciate the root idea that I think was in there, of just her wanting her uncle to be happy. Once I got over the initial moment of horror. Smelling blood in the water, she also made a poster for me today while I was in the shower which referred to me as "Old Person." I think the Sweeney blood is coming on strong. However, she doesn't yet know to take the long view on these things, and never considered that I'm likely to be alive when she reaches my age. Mom and Joe both thought it would be good to save the poster for her and present it back to her at that time. Of other note, Grace told me today that she studied "conscience" ("which is spelled like 'con-science'" she noted) in Religious Ed this morning. And she got the idea. I was into the Apollo program when I was in second grade: I don't think I learned about conscience for years. I was a bit impressed.

Haley got more and more chatty as the weekend went on, which was a pleasure in itself because although she's now five, she's still the shyest in many ways. When she was little, she seemed quite the thrillseeker or mini adrenaline junkie, and so I foresaw her becoming the radical bungee-jumping college student among the daughters. I mentioned something like this to her today, and she didn't know what bungee-jumping was, so I showed her on YouTube. "So you think you'd like to do that?" "NO WAY!" The last few visits, she had mentioned art as her current thought of What She Wanted To Be When She Grew Up: that she was going to be a painter. I liked that image, too, and so I thought about bringing her one of my art books this weekend, if I could find something that I thought she might enjoy paging through, as these girls enjoy paging through scientific field guides and the like, despite their young age. But it turned out that she was going to be a painter no more. Current plan? Tap dancer. This is because she and Grace are very much under the influence of The Fresh Beat Band, and she had been really excited by one of their tap routines. So I made a point of watching Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor do their "Moses" routine from Singin' In The Rain with her.

Sophie continued to be a cutie unless she was tired and grumpy. She cooed over Nate quite a bit, and was much more gentle with him than she thinks to be with the much smaller Lucky, their still-new Yorkshire Terrier. She was just very enthusiastic in whatever grabbed her attention at a given moment, from wanting to watch my old YouTube videos of her sisters when they were younger or her age, to showing me (at last!) the hi-definition video of the blue whales they saw off California in the summer. She's got an already-evident musical enthusiasm and love for singing that I don't see in the other two, and she demanded to watch the Vienna Teng YouTube video I linked in the previous entry more than once, taken in by the keyboard and vocal. Unlike Grace, who was definitely practicing razzing me, Sophie was completely innocent when we were looking at one of her books this morning and engaged in this routine:
Mike: "And what's this?"
Sophie: "A duck!"
"And what's this?"
"A chicken!"
"And what's this?"
"A cow!"
[stops looking at the book and looks closely at me for a moment]
". . . You have a big nose!"
This was followed with a very 2-year-old contrast of, "I have a little nose!" When I then asked her if she liked my big nose, she smiled and nodded enthusiastically. And thus showed that she was still very innocent or becoming very smart.


Low point: getting on the wrong train in Chicago. (I forgot about the express trains on the commuter rush.) I got on the right route, but ended up in the outer suburbs before I realized what was going on, got off and waited outside in the 40-degree autumn twilight for fifty minutes before I caught a train going back in toward the city and my actual stop. (Which train turned out to be the one I had gotten off fifty minutes earlier, so I could have just stayed aboard, and warm.) This made me recall my favourite mock-motivational poster, and wondering if this, in the end, will really best sum up my life:

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