Rigby at Two Years Old

I began this post back in May, shortly after Rigby turned 2.  With our move to Chattanooga and the resettling and learning of new routines that a move requires, I am just now sitting down to edit it.  And, while it may seem quite outdated (he turns 2 1/2 at the end of this month!!!???!), I still find it important and noteworthy to document this big milestone for us and, one day, for him.

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This post has been a difficult one to start (and, once started, a difficult one to finish), not for lack of things to share, but quite the opposite.  Rigby seems to be shedding his babyhood at mind-blowing speed and proudly dancing and jumping (literally, always dancing and jumping) into his toddler boy persona.  He is constantly in motion, running and jumping and climbing, doing his best to keep up with Bo-Bo (Jack).  There is just so much to say about our sweet, loving, active boy.

"Bibee" is how Rigby refers to himself.  Bo-bo is Jack.  Daddy is David.  And I am either Mama or Mommy.  All small children are babies (including ones that are older than he is), he knows the names of many of his close extended family members and many of our friends, and everyone else is "people".  He talks a lot.  And, every day he seems to add more words to his repertoire.  To the untrained ear, most of his speech is unintelligible, but his core group understands him nearly all of the time.

Rigby loves music and will almost always freeze in his tracks when he hears a song worthy of dancing to.  He has loved "The Music Class" and requests to listen to his class songs by saying "ba ba bababa" and tapping his legs.  We have recently started attending Toddler Time at the library and he loves it.  He loves the music and the stories, but just as much loves to be with other children and run around.

Rigby is full of manners: "Thank You" is very routine for him and he says this when he is given something but also when he gives something to someone (hands me his plate and says "Thank you, Mama").  He also goes out of his way to greet everyone either with a wave, a hello/hi, and/or a hug (which is really just a lean in, leading with one shoulder) and to say "Bless You" for both coughs and sneezes.

Rigby pretends to count often, especially when splashing into the pool.  Sometimes he will correctly count, other times he says "3, 2, 7...".  He knows most sounds made by animals and the words to several songs, but he has yet to grasp the concept of colors despite our persistence in trying to teach him.  He particularly loves flamingos and peacocks which he affectionately calls "mingos" and "pee-cock".

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We once worried that Rigby was a picky eater and I attributed this to the fact that I did not exclusively breast feed him nor did I exclusively make all of his baby food (two things that I was able to do for Jack).  However, with age, Rigby has been eager to try more foods, and is even accepting of most.  He loves fruit, smoothies, french fries, sauces/dips, and quite possibly favors eggs as an entree above all else.

Sleep is getting better but is still not excellent.  He takes a while to fall asleep at night, particularly on those nights when I put him to bed, and he wakes at least once most nights and needs a replacement "dadew" (pacifier) or to be covered back up.  I have been treated to not being the parent who has to get up at night since the sight of me causes him to really wake and, thus, take much longer to settle back to sleep.

Rigby loves to help.  As with most "help" that toddlers provide, his help creates more messes and slows us down, but it is super cute (most of the time) when we hear him say "I do it" (said is a higher pitched almost whiny voice with both an insistence and plea).  He loves to help feed Sadie (at which he is able to steal a few bites of her dog food), stir when cooking, blend our smoothies, climb into his own carseat, etc.

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Rigby loves people and will quickly make friends from teachers to strangers at the grocery store.  He love stop blow kisses to everyone and to hug if he can get close enough.  His most favorite person seems to be Jack.  He cries every morning after we walk Jack to school and needs to be reassured multiple times throughout the day that we will soon walk to pick up Bo-Bo. Jack is extremely patient and kind to Rigby, despite Rigby wanting to do absolutely everything that Jack is doing.  

Favorites: water, music, climbing at the playground (usually to the top of the highest slide), jelly beans (pronounced bebee beans), walks in the wagon

Rigby, we love you so much!  

Read: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Mathew Desmond

Evicted is a book I have been talking about since the first day I began reading it and one that I am sure to continue to talk about for many years.  

Matthew Desmond follows the intertwined lives of eight families and a host of minor characters in an extraordinary ethnographic study of tenants in low-income housing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Among the main "characters" are Arleen Belle and Doreen Hinkston who are black mothers struggling to keep their broken families sheltered and off the streets; Crystal and Trisha who are fragile young black women whose upbringing was violent and chaotic; Lamar who is a caring black father of two boys who lost both of his legs to frostbite when he passed out on crack in an abandoned house, and Scott who is a white male nurse who lost his nursing licence when he began using opioids stolen from the analgesic patches of his dying patients.  I found it hard to keep up with the personal storylines because they are told in a disorderly style, but Desmond's ultimate message is perfectly clear.  Rent is the main condition dragging down a large population of individuals and families in America and there is an urgent need to sort out this major housing crisis.  

The standard measure is that your rent should be no more than 30% of your income, but for poor people it can be 70% or higher.  Tenants are continuously forced to make a choice about what to do with their meager paychecks- pay the rent, pay a bill to keep their water or heat on, or to put food on their table.  Rent often seems to be the only negotiable payment, so tenants find themselves paying their landlords only a portion of the rent and then remaining in chronic debt to them.  Debt of this type allows for landlords to evict their tenants whenever it is convenient such as when they ask for something to be necessarily repaired like a hole in the window or a non-working sink or toilet, or when police are called to the property for any reason (a domestic violence incident or if a child gets into trouble at school).  This fact was one of the most haunting ones that I learned from this book.  It most certainly should make us reconsider why women do not call the police when their partners are violent with them or their children...

Each year, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of renters are put out on the street and most of those who are evicted are women, black women more specifically.  Eviction is socially damaging to those involved.  It puts immense stress on families.  It prevents people from saving even small sums of money that would let them eventually stabilize their situation.  They are always starting over from scratch, losing their possessions in the chaos of forced removal, or putting them in storage and losing them when they can’t pay the excessive monthly fees.  An eviction on your record makes the next apartment harder to get.  Eviction damages children, who are always changing schools, giving up friends and toys and pets – and living with the exhaustion and depression of their parents.  Eviction makes it hard to keep up with the many appointments required by the courts and the welfare system: several characters have their benefits cut because notices are sent to the wrong (previous) address.  Eviction destroys communities: when people move frequently, they don’t form the social bonds and pride in a place that encourage them to care for their block and look out for their neighbors.  Rather than living collectively, people live alone and only have the energy to try to look out for themselves.

Desmond's work is heartbreaking.  He did a commendable service portraying the chaotic, frustrating, and bleak situation of housing in America.  It is a must read.

Read: Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Moonglow: A Novel
By Michael Chabon

Nearly everyone I know has read at least one and loved at least one of Michael Chabon's novels (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Wonder Boys, etc), but until Moonglow, somehow his work passed me by.  I found the story interesting, a "faux" memoir told in an unique way, and Chabon's writing beautiful albeit wordy and quite "writerly".  His writing is so unusually delicious that at times I found myself reading for his word choice and descriptions rather than the story line.

Moonglow is the memoir of Chabon's grandfather narrated to the author by his grandfather during the last week of life unhinged by pain medication--“I showed up to say goodbye...just as Dilaudid was bringing its soft hammer to bear on his habit of silence.”  The story is patchy, does not flow chronologically, and sometimes too elaborative on specifics about WWII or rocket building for my taste.  Yet, the jumps in the story from the war to his marriage to a stent in jail to his obsession with rockets reflect the randomness of life and the need of a dying man to make some sense of it all.  The story line of his marriage was of particular fascination to me.  Upon his return from war, grandfather meets a French refugee at a synagogue party and is immediately attracted to her magnetism.  She is already a mother of a young girl (the narrator's mom) and harrowingly haunted by visions of a “skinless horse” that hint at her Holocaust trauma.  Her mental illness will ultimately bring an end to their love story.

The book is dense, the writing amazing.  I struggled at times to get through certain scenes that I did not find particularly interesting, but overall I liked the book and found its description of life, love, and war powerful.  I will close with my favorite line which happened to be the last line of the novel, "He lay there with his eyes closed for a long time after that, sculling along the surface of the sea of pain a little nearer toward his story's end or maybe...toward the story on the opposite shore that was waiting to begin."

I will be reading more by Michael Chabon.