Jimu Robot App for Android

TLDR: here is a link to download the Jimu Robot App for Android (jiami-jimu-official_website-develop-62.apk). I received this from the manufacturer when I emailed them. It's legit. I swear it doesn't have any viruses in it, at least not any that I put there. I've been using it at least for the building instructions, and it's paired with my Android tablet, though I haven't made it far enough through a build to check if it fully works for controlling it.

Read on for the rest of the background, if you care.

At a garage sale the other day my son spotted this Jimu Robot inventor kit for like 1/10 the normal price. I said sure, why not. It looked neat.

Problem is, it's Bluetooth-controlled through an Android app... and the app is no longer on the Google Play store, seemingly because the manufacturer has discontinued it or something. The app also has all the building instructions--no paper manual. So if I wanted to even build it without movement, I'd be out of luck.

So I did a bunch of web searching and found a million sketchy sites that surely would infect my computer with something, but nothing official. Finally, I found the email address of the company that used to make it, and I just emailed them (aftersales@ubtrobot.com). To my absolute shock, they emailed me a day later with a link to the APK. In case they somehow discontinue it even harder, there's a link at the beginning for the copy they sent me.


Jury Duty

So the other day I was summoned for jury duty in the state of Washington. I think it was the first summons I'd ever received. My work and general living situation were stable, so I didn't try to find a way out of it. I ended up being selected and then sat on the jury. I wanted to record my experience, because people seem interested and so that I can look back on it someday and remember it. We delivered a verdict today (the day I started writing this), so the trial is relatively fresh in my mind, and I want to write it down before I start forgetting it.

I want to say that this was an interesting experience, but even saying this gives me pause. It was really sobering to think about how the decisions we reached have substantial impact on the lives of the people involved. I can't help but feel it's somewhat crass to derive any positive outcome for myself from this, given that it is necessarily at someone else's expense.

And yet, it was interesting, and the overall experience was neutral or positive for me. I have to remember that what happened was a standard part of the judicial system, and I executed my role with deliberation, care, and thoughtfulness. Along those lines, out of respect for the people involved, I'm going to anonymize everything as best as I can. If you happen to deduce the specifics, please don't try to post them here.

One final note before I get started: nothing here is graphic, bloody, or especially violent. In short, the state charged that someone pushed someone else down, thus injuring their leg.

Summons and Selection Questionnaires

Let's start with the summons and selection process. I received a notice in the mail that I was summoned. At this stage there's no guarantee I'd actually sit on a jury. I had to fill out a questionnaire about my eligibility and ability to serve. For example, my wife has received several summons over the years but was excused due to--among other reasons--being the primary caretaker of our children. None of my answers gave cause for excuse, so I proceeded to the selection stage.

At this point in the process they made me aware of the plaintiff, defendant, and charges: State v. Defendant, on one count of assault in the second degree and one count of assault in the fourth degree with domestic violence designation. I will consistently refer to the defendant as Defendant or D rather than his name (yes, it was a man--this detail is relevant for later).

Whoof. My thoughts: this is a criminal trial, not a civil one. I now know the charges but don't know the specifics. What does second degree or fourth degree assault mean? Less severe by some measure than first degree, but in what ways?

I should point out that at the same time they communicated the charges, they also communicated a court order that I would hear many times right up until we delivered a verdict: I was not to seek any information about the case on my own, by talking to anyone, doing any research, etc.. That means no looking up what "assault in the second degree" might mean.

So with this light knowledge of the case and charges, the first stage of selection was another questionnaire with more directed questions, things like "Do you have strong views about law enforcement officers, either positive or negative?" and "Have you ever been the victim of a crime?" It seemed to me they were trying to suss out our potential biases.

At this point they also had us watch a pretty informative short video about jury service in Washington. Also another video making people aware of unconscious bias (something I knew about but some might not know of).

Voir Dire

A few days after the questionnaire was a round of online interviews called "voir dire". This was the first time we saw the judge, prosecuting and defense attorneys, and defendant. We received instructions from the judge. They read us quite a bit of information. Here's a few bits:

  • All potential jurors must be connected at all times to the Zoom session. If anyone disconnects, they have to pause until everyone is back.
  • Everyone must be in a stationary place (no cars) and have their face clearly visible with video on the whole time.
  • Reiteration that we must not discuss the case with anyone.

I don't know how many jurors total were summoned at this point. I believe they held voir dire with several groups of about 20 jurors each. My group had juror numbers 50 through 75 or something like that. We entered using our real name and were renamed to have a juror number for the duration of the roughly 90 minute Zoom call.

Hilariously, some people were in their cars and had to pull over or finish getting home before we could proceed. Several people had bad connections and had to keep reconnecting. There were the usual teleconfrencing snafus like echoes and incorrect muting. The judge was extremely patient throughout all of this; clearly they have done this with this technology many times.

The main purpose of voir dire was for the prosecuting and defense attorneys to interview potential jurors. They went down the list and asked almost every person a few questions. Here's a selection of questions from what I can remember:

what my work was
software engineer
why did I answer that I had a negative bias towards law enforcement
uh, because I've read social media for the last several years
and whether I could overcome that
yes, with the dispassionate, deliberate process used in jury trials
did I want to be selected
"it would be fine". Not a single person said they wanted to, heh.
what was the nature of the crime I had been a victim of?
someone broke into my car once and stole something valuable visible on the back seat. oops

Other people had much more to say. Multiple women said they had some history with domestic violence. One was involved with domestic violence advocacy work. A huge number of people had positive views of law enforcement due to being related in some way to police officers and such. Only one or two other people had negative views, citing the same reasons as I did.

We were told that jurors could be dismissed for two reasons: either with cause (due to strong past bias or conflict of interest) or peremptorily (just because--but limited uses). All of that happened outside our view. Apparently my answers were inoffensive enough to both attorneys, because I was indeed selected.

Day 1 - prep

We were told to show up at the courthouse in a certain room at a certain time, and so I did. There was a spacious waiting area called the juror assembly room where they checked us in and we waited. There was a fridge where I could put my lunch. I kept my backpack with me. I didn't know what preparation I should do, so I brought a pen and notepad.

There were 14 of us selected (2 were alternates--I'll get to that later). Eventually the bailiff came to get us and take us to the secure area of the courthouse, to the juror's room. This room was a small conference room with a conference room table, chairs all around it, two bathrooms crammed in, a mini-fridge, whiteboard, and coffee machine. We learned that this room is locked whenever we aren't in it, so it was a good place to leave our belongings while not in the courtroom itself. Many people availed themselves of the coffee machine. I thought it was considerate to have two bathrooms. It was slightly cramped for 14 people but not uncomfortable.

We weren't allowed to leave the room without escort, and the room was just across the hallway from the courtroom. These things are probably designed to minimize the possibility of jurors overhearing other people.

We had to wait a while before we were summoned. People just did small talk. One guy was a beekeeper and regaled everyone with an endless stream of bee facts and so on. People seemed to like that, or at least it passed the time well.

Finally we were brought into the courtroom. The bailiff announced (as they did every time) "All rise for the jury!" and it's probably the first time in my life someone has had to stand as a sign of respect for me. Felt weird!

Day 1 - instructions

The courtroom was clean and spacious. The jurors' area had 14 seats exactly, swivel chairs bolted to the floor. Comfortable, with a clear view of everything.

The judge gave us a lot of verbal instruction at this point, so much that I've dedicated a whole section to it. Most of these instructions were reiterated several times over the course of the trial. First and foremost was that we were not supposed to seek any outside information about the case or any matters dealing with it. Not allowed to talk to other jurors. We could take notes in the courtroom, but the notebooks couldn't be taken out until deliberations.

Even stronger, if we found ourselves in a position if we might learn information about the case--for example, if it came on the news--we had to take action to prevent that from happening. Leave the room, change the channel, etc.. If the attorneys believe there is outside influence on the jury, they could call that grounds for a mistrial, and retrials are costly and burdensome. Likewise, we were under court order not to tell anyone about the case until its conclusion.

Let me tell you, have you ever had a teacher with a demeanor that was just commanding? Well, the judge was exactly the same but somehow more so. With the way they talked, you did not want to disobey those instructions, hoo boy.

We received instructions about the role of the defense and prosecution. The defendant is presumed to be innocent. The defendant has no burden to prove his innocence. The prosecution must prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that the defendant is guilty. A reasonable doubt is one for which a reason exists, and which a reasonable person may have. I've heard this phrasing so many times I can recite it from memory now. I think it's a good thing. It'll come up again during deliberations.

The jury will receive specific instructions at the time of deliberation as to the law, and the jury has to base its decision on the specific legal definitions we are given. We are not supposed to decide based on what the law should be, even if we disagree with it.

The jury is only allowed to make a decision based on evidence and lack of evidence. Evidence is witness testimony and exhibits permitted by the judge. Attorneys' questions are not evidence. Attorneys' opening and closing statements are not evidence. Stricken remarks and denied exbihits are not evidence, and we are not to concern ourselves with the reasons for striking/denial. Accidental comments by the judge are not evidence.

What I noticed from all this is that they've taken great effort to reduce the role of the jury to its bare minimum: follow specific instructions and consider only specific information to come to a conclusion. I think it's probably necessary to do this. With a wide sampling of people from all different backgrounds, it's impossible for us to learn enough to decide a legal matter, except within a very narrow, focused set of constraints.

We are allowed to but not required to take notes. The notes are private to us, can only be shared with other jurors during deliberation, and are destroyed after a verdict is reached. Witness testimony will never be repeated. We had to pay attention the first time and take whatever notes we need to help us remember.

Before we jump into the trial, I'm extremely glad I took notes. I have never been a good note taker, but I did my best, and I'm glad I did, because I referred to them heavily during deliberations. It's simply not possible to remember the quantity of testimony you hear, and it's valuable to be able to look back and find out what things someone said and didn't say, and how they compare to other witnesses' testimonies.

Day 1 - opening statement

I'm going to write what the prosecuting attorney said as the start of their opening statement. Be warned, it's strong language and somewhat disturbing and shocking.

"If you don't take me home now, I'll fucking kill you." - The prosecution opened with this quote by the defendant. It shocked me, because at this point I didn't know what the severity of the case was. I went very still and listened as the prosecutor gave an outline of the crime from their perspective. What I'm writing is what the prosecution alleged, not necessarily the truth.

The defendant went to his girlfriend's house (will call her GF) for a movie night type date. They had been dating off and on for several years. At some point that evening they left to go to a restaurant/bar, where they stayed for several hours. During this time they had some kind of argument, where the defendant grew increasingly loud and rude towards GF. At some point, a random woman bystander, let's call her B, approached them to check if GF was OK. The defendant was annoyed and told her to mind her own business.

Later, D and GF are leaving the bar. B is also leaving the bar and sees that D and GF are continuing to argue next to GF's car. B approaches and tells D not to talk to her that way. D walks towards B, pushes her to the ground, and yells at her. B tries to get up, and D pushes her to the ground again, at which point she feels the pain of her leg breaking. D stands over B and kicks her while she's down. During this, GF is trying to pull D away, but D pushes GF down too, causing her to scrape her elbow and leg.

D walks away from the bar at this point. B and GF make it back inside the bar and wait there until police come. Police arrest D nearby. As for the charges: assault in the second degree for pushing B to the ground and breaking her leg; assault in the fourth degree for pushing GF to the ground. I wouldn't learn the legal definitions of these until deliberations, much later.

That's it. That's the crime, according to the prosecution.

The defense chose to defer its opening statement until after the prosecution rested. And so they jumped right into calling witnesses.

Day 1 - GF testimony

The prosecution called four witnesses in total and in this order: GF, B, the doctor who treated B's leg, and one of the police officers at the scene. We heard GF and B on the first day.

Once GF got up on the stand and was sworn in, questions started flying fast. The style of notes I ended up taking were just the answers to questions, with enough information to infer the question that was asked. I put things in quotes when possible to record verbatim statements, only things that seemed especially important.

In GF's version of events, they started the evening drinking at her place, then both left to get more smokes, and instead of going home, headed to the bar. They drank for a while and eventually D started getting annoyed. GF couldn't recall what he was annoyed at.

According to GF, B came over and seemed to be trying to de-escalate, but was told to mind her own business. When they left, B came out shortly after them, saw them at the car, and came over, trying to break up the argument again.

GF testified that D pushed B down, then pushed her down again when she tried to get up. GF testified that she was grabbing D's arm and that D threw her off, causing her to fall.

GF was really unclear on how she and B made it back into the restaurant. No clear answer about whether someone helped her or what. Apparently a guy in a truck drove by and called D over, thus distracting him from the two women, and that effectively ended the incident.

Defense's cross-examination of GF focused a lot on the amount of alcohol she had drunk. It did not do an especially good job of teasing out the movements of the three of them, and the memory of the crucial moments of the incident were missing details. It doesn't help that this happened over a year ago.

The other jurors and I were also surprised that the "I'm gonna f-ing kill you" statement wasn't asked about at all. My guess is GF decided she didn't have a good enough memory about that to testify about it. Strange to leave it in the opening statement though. Did they think we wouldn't notice?

Day 1 - B testimony

B's testimony matched GF's pretty decently. She testified to approaching both inside the bar and out at the car. She also couldn't tell what their argument was, only that it seemed one-sided (that D was yelling at GF), and that's what made her feel like interfering.

She testified that D grabbed her by the neck, maybe hard enough that he could have lifted her. And then pushed her down. She testified to being pushed down a second time, and then she felt the pain in her leg. She also said she hurt her head and felt something hit her leg, but couldn't tell what caused those. She didn't see how GF fell.

She testified a decent amount about how the injury had affected her life--loss of work, need for surgery, lingering pain even to today.

As before, we the jurors didn't feel like we got a very good sense of the specific movements or actions of the three involved, and the case really hinged on it.

Day 2 - doctor testimony

The prosecution called an orthopedic surgeon to testify about the nature of B's injury. He called in via Zoom. In short, she had broken the top of her shin bone and needed surgery. The only interesting and useful piece of testimony from this was that B had told the doctor she broke her leg when she was pushed down twice. Both she and GF testified that too, and B had told her doctor that. That all lent weight to the credibility of that claim.

Day 2 - officer testimony

The prosecution called one of the officers from the scene to testify about what he saw that night. The police had arrived after it was all over. They took statements from the two women and arrested D. The officer they called wasn't even the one who arrested D.

Honestly, this guy's testimony was pretty useless. He couldn't remember any information himself and basically had to consult his written report (which he was allowed to see but we weren't). On top of that, he came in to testify after he had just worked a graveyard shift, so he was barely holding it together. I don't think we referred to his testimony at all later.

When the prosecution said "the prosection rests" after this witness, my first thought was "wait, that's it? Seriously?" I had expected to hear testimony from at least one other person who was present that night. I had expected to see a police report or statement taken from that night.

Day 2 - defense

At this point I felt the prosecution had made a pretty good case, even if missing some corroborating evidence. But they had testimony from both people who had been harmed, and it felt like a plausible situation that could have occurred. I didn't know how the defense was going to substantially change my mind.

The defense's opening statement said that their strategy was simple: they were going to put D on the stand to hear his view of events. He was pressured into going to the bar when he didn't really want to go, argued the whole evening about how he would rather be home, and here's the kicker. At the car, he told GF, "If you get in that car, you're going to fucking kill us." Check out that slight twist to the wording. Plausible, yet flips the meaning entirely.

When D got up on the stand, he calmly walked through a pretty different version of events from the evening:

  1. He had gone to GF's house to stay in and catch up on shows.
  2. They both drank a bunch for a while.
  3. GF kept going out for smoke breaks. Eventually he got annoyed and walked to the nearby smoke shop to buy a cigar.
  4. GF intercepts him at the smoke shop. They buy smokes and she takes him, somewhat reluctant, to the bar.
  5. He was annoyed at how much GF was drinking and argued with her about wanting to be home instead.
  6. When B approaches, he does tell her to mind her business.
  7. He testified that he got annoyed with GF and left early and waited at the car to prevent GF from driving home drunk.
  8. Indeed, he said that their argument outside the car was about not wanting her to drive home.
  9. When B approached, he held out his arm straight in front of himself, which caused B to trip and fall over one of the cement parking stops on the ground.
  10. He stood over her after she fell, but didn't take further actions, maybe only talking to her. It wasn't clear.
  11. When GF grabbed his arm, he pulled away from her.
  12. He left and walked to an alley between the bar and a neighboring building, where he waited until the police picked him up.

It was clear hearing D that he had been coached and had rehearsed. The questions and answers from his attorney were smooth and flowed comfortably. He was also very careful to downplay his mood. When GF brought him unwilling to the bar, he was "disappointed", not "annoyed". When GF had too much to drink he was again "disappointed". When B came and interfered at first, he was annoyed but not angry. I get not wanting to paint yourself as an angry, drunk guy, but come on. This struck us all as phony.

D even drew a diagram of the bar and parking lot, showing the movements of the three people all the way through the end of the incident. I did my best to copy it down, but there were a lot of lines, so I didn't trust that I got it fully correctly.

The prosecution's cross-examination didn't ask crucial questions about whether he kicked B while she was down or whether he pushed her down a second time. I didn't feel like I learned very much from it.

And then the defense rested, and again I thought "that's it? Really?" Once again I was struck by the absence of evidence.

Day 3 - more instructions

Well, that brings us to today. The judge finally gave us a hefty packet that contained all the instructions for reaching a verdict. Because it is a criminal case, the verdict had to be unanimous. Many of the instructions were things we'd heard before about the presumption of innocence, "beyond reasonable doubt", burden of proof, which evidence to consider, and so on.

Other parts of the instructions finally filled us in on legal meanings. I can't actually find a clear matching definition for assault online, but the essence of it was when a person intentionally strikes or touches another person in a harmful or offensive way, a way that a reasonable person would be offended by. A crucial part is that it requires intent.

Following from that, assault in the second degree was narrowed to "intentionally assaults another and thereby recklessly inflicts substantial bodily harm". And then they had to provide a confusing definition for recklessness. And recklessness refers to the concept of "knowing" something, which gets its own even more confusing definition. You may be beginning to see why they had to focus the instructions so much for us.

Luckily we were able to distill the recklessness definition down to, "did he know when he pushed her that it could cause her to get hurt?" Most reasonable people would believe yes, the possibility exists, so to continue with the act counts as recklessness.

Assault in the fourth degree is simply committing any assault. Again, that requires intent. The domestic violence designation would automatically be attached to it if we found him guilty on this count because D and GF were adults in a dating relationship.

We received instructions to produce a verdict for each charge separately. If any part of the charge couldn't be proven, then the verdict for that charge should be not guilty. The jury had to be unanimous for the decision.

Day 3 - closing arguments

The prosecution gets to make closing arguments first. Then the defense. Then the prosecution gets to make a rebuttal.

The prosecution's closing statement mostly restated things from their testimony. It largely ignored D's testimony, pretended it didn't exist. At this point it didn't do enough to convince me of intent, which you'll see was the key issue of this entire case.

The defense's closing argument made the case entirely about alcohol consumption. Everyone had drunk too much and what happened was an accident. It didn't adequately address intentionality either.

Finally, alternate jurors were identified, chosen at random by lottery (literally using a bingo machine thingy). Good move, because otherwise those people would have tuned out immediately and been useless. I was not one of the two alternates.

Day 3 - deliberations

Keep in mind that although I say "day 3" here, this spanned over a weekend and one day with a break, so in total it was the sixth day since the trial began. All of us, including me, had plenty of time to mull over the testimonies in our heads in our free time. I certainly found my mind wandering over questions I had and things I wish I knew.

So it was a relief to finally be able to talk with others about it, and boy, everyone else had the same feeling, because it started turning chaotic very quickly. We elected a presiding juror, who attempted to steer the conversation and occasionally succeeded. The biggest problems were cross-talk, interruptions, and people talking over other people. A few of us tried to make sure people raised their hands and that everyone had a chance to speak. It was hard and took constant attention, because there was a lot of information, a lot of differing opinions, and a lot of points to discuss.

We took a quick initial vote and had about a 33/33/33 split of guilty, not guilty, and undecided. Before conversation spun too far out of control, a few of us tried to add some structure to the process. The judge had given us specific instructions about the charges being filed. The first charge involved the date and time of the incident (easily proven), the location (easily proven), the defendant and victim (easily proven), and elements of an "assault" charge, namely intentionality (difficult) and recklessness (nontrivial but doable).

The second charge

We started going in circles about intentionality almost immediately and ended up deferring to talk about the second charge first, hoping it was easier to figure out.

The second charge was simply assault: an intentional striking or touching that an ordinary person would find offensive or harmful. The circumstances of this, we eventually decided, were that GF was grabbing D's hand and could easily have slipped and fallen when he pushed her off (especially in her inebriated state). When grabbing someone else's hand who doesn't want you grabbing it, an ordinary person could easily expect their reaction of pushing it away or shrugging it off. There was enough doubt that the defendant intentionally struck her in an unexpected way, so we eventually agreed on not guilty.

That isn't to say we started there. We had one holdout who felt he was guilty at first and took quite some convincing. I'm not exactly sure what convinced them, seemingly a side chat with someone sitting next to them. In my opinion, that person came in with some biases towards male-against-female violence of any kind and saw intention where others saw unfortunate accident. When pressed for reasons, they seemed to think of "might have" and "could have" reasons that weren't supported by testimony. Anyway, I'm glad we were able to settle that one.

Back to the first charge

We turned our attention back to the first charge. There were two main parts: intentionality and recklessness. We were able to establish recklessness without too much trouble, provisional on intentionality of actually pushing: if you push someone, you have to know there is a possibility that they will get hurt, maybe injured. By continuing to push, you're disregarding that risk, and that constitutes recklessness. So finally we were just left with intentionality.

Somewhat ironically, D's drawing helped us here, coupled with other testimony. We had testimony from both GF and B that the defendant walked towards B in the parking lot as B was approaching them. That didn't strike us as a defensive act. From his diagram, D had to walk around the car door to make his approach, extra steps and actions that speak to intention.

D's claim was that he simply put out his hand to stop B, but it didn't make sense given his approach. Are you trying to create space using your hands, or are you walking towards them, which closes the space?

Both women testified that he stood over B after she was on the ground and that he pushed her down twice. While D didn't testify to a second push (or even the first push, really), it was easy to believe at this point that he was angry at the interference and did actually push twice.

We don't know what happened, probably never will. With a group of drunk adults over a year ago, it's probably impossible for any of them to produce the whole truth even if they wanted to. But all twelve of us felt there was a high likelihood that he pushed her intentionally, so we decided guilty of the first charge.

Throughout this, we were all frustrated at the lack of evidence we had access to. The testimonies were all by stakeholders in the crime: the perpetrator and victims. The police officer had no useful information, and the doctor only had medical opinions about the condition of her leg, not how it got that way. Where was the testimony from others at the bar? The guy in the truck who drove by? Other police officers? Where were police reports and statements taken at the night of the crime? We don't know why they weren't produced (by either the prosecution or the defense!). Maybe they couldn't be admitted because of some technicality or incorrect handling. Maybe the other people were unwilling to testify. We just don't know. It was frustrating to have such ambiguity to work with when the impact of the decision is so serious.

Wrapping up

We went back to the courtroom, and the clerk read the verdict. The defendant did not show much emotion. Some shaking of his head, frustration and disappointment. It was done fairly quickly, the judge came back to thank us for our service personally and ask us for feedback on the process as a whole, and dismissed us, allowing us to speak freely about the trial.

It's weighty to have passed a guilty verdict on someone else. This could alter the trajectory of his life significantly. I have to remember that all of us were convinced of this conclusion, people from wildly varying backgrounds. I also have to remember that the victims had some part in this process. They probably had to press charges in order for this case to be brought to trial. Their lives were also altered by what happened. Passing a not-guilty verdict could affect them too.

All in all, this was an interesting experience. I got lucky that the subject matter was relatively tame, nothing that would scar me mentally. I'm not necessarily eager to sit on another jury anytime soon, but probably wouldn't try hard to escape it either.


Additions and Subtractions

Has it really been almost a year since one of these? That's even longer than I expected. I think the six month point rolled around and I didn't have enough motivation to put pen to paper, so to speak. Now I've got way too much to cover, so probably this will be an unsurprisingly long one.

Pandemic life, again

In our part of the USA, vaccinations have started approaching critical mass, so they've started lifting restrictions on people going back to work and wearing masks. Mommy and I are vaccinated now, which is a big relief, but we still exercise considerable caution, wear masks in any public indoor setting, and stick to only small gatherings.

One of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is showing companies how effective people can be at working from home. That has been the biggest boost to my overall well being during this time. I'm hoping never to go back to full time commuting to an office 5 days a week, and my work seems pretty supportive of that.

The schedule these days is not too different from last time. Maybe minor changes only.

  1. Wake up around 6:45, have a shower. G is usually already awake but just reads books or plays in his room for a while.
  2. At 7:30 I get both the kids up. Sometimes R sleeps in a bit, but not as much these days
  3. Kids brush teeth, do morning ablutions, and eat breakfast. Sometimes they try to run off and play during this time. Argh.
  4. On many days, I help pack the kids into the car for mommy to take them to a morning outing at a park or trail
  5. I shut myself into the computer room and work
  6. At around 11:30 they get back from the outing and I make and eat lunch with them
  7. At 12:45 R goes for a nap and G goes to "quiet time" in his room. I head back to work.
  8. At 3 PM G's quiet time is done, and R usually wakes up shortly after
  9. I finish working at 5 PM. I come out and play with the kids and/or make dinner
  10. I shoot for dinner at 6 PM
  11. Bedtime routine starts at 7:30. That's brushing teeth, bathroom, change into pajamas, and bedtime story
  12. Bedtime is about 8 PM

I still go out very little overall. I make a weekly trip to the grocery store and occasional trips to Costco for more supplies. On weekends sometimes we go meet up with family so the kids can play with their cousins.


Well, uh, we're moving! Not far, about 20 minutes south of where we live now. That's 20 minutes more commute from my work, too. Before the pandemic and the new work-from-home situation I never would have considered moving even farther away, but now it's a viable option. We already bought the new house and have been moving stuff in steadily ourselves.

The house we're currently in was never really intended to be the place we lived forever. When we bought it we expected to live here for about 5 years, but we ended up staying for twelve. It's funny, but I don't think I've ever lived in a single other place for this long in my life. We've certainly accumulated a lot of stuff we need to get rid of, what with having two kids here and all.

The new house, on the other hand, is our dream house, our "forever home". I'm hoping we can live there until we're old and feel like downsizing. Since our current house never felt permanent to me, I think I shied away from some home improvement stuff, but I'm hoping I won't hold back this time around.

The new house itself is gorgeous and huge on 2 acres of land. Plenty of room for the kids to play outside. We had a big open yard in the house I grew up in and it was an endless source of fun to play soccer and run around outside on nice days. It also comes with extra yard maintenance work, but we're ready for it. In the new house, both mommy and I will each have a room that is "ours". Mine will be my office where I'll work, and hers will be a sort of craft room. I didn't realize until recently that I haven't had a space all of my own since I moved out of my parents' house, like 20 years ago. I never really minded sharing space with my wife, but it will also be nice to customize my space exactly how I want to.

It's funny, we've been talking about buying a new house and moving for many years, and we always wanted to do it before G was in elementary school, but kept putting it off because it seemed like an insurmountable task. Then all of a sudden all of our neighbors sold their houses with minimal work done and with huge appreciation in value. My sister-in-law said the real estate market for selling in our price range is hot right now, so I called up the same guy who sold us this house, and we went from "starting the process" to "offer accepted" on the new house in about 2 weeks. Wild.

As odd as it sounds to say, the whole pandemic work from home situation was a major factor. I can't really imagine being able to go house hunting while also attempting to commute 2-3 hours a day 5 days a week. Basically, we have very little else going on in our lives right now, so it was the perfect time to do this, and I'm glad we pounced on the opportunity.

Speaking of updates

The younger one has had a lot of changes in the last year (obviously, at this stage of his life), but probably the most obvious stuff is his talking. The last time I wrote, he was doing individual words. That grew into short groups of words at maybe 18-20 months old and further to some whole sentences at around 21-22 months.

He went through a funny phase where he inserted "my own" in a lot of stuff. "I drank all of my own juice." "I bonked my own head." That phase seems to have ended, but it was funny while it lasted. He also liked to double up sounds. Our dog Laika ended up as "Lalai". The neighborhood kid named Mason turned into "May-may". His latest thing has been adding an "ee" sound to everything. "Trucky", "milky", "juicey", "sockies", "homey". I don't know why he started doing that but it's pretty cute. I guess we should go straight to the translation table, huh? He's already outgrown some of these pronunciations but they all showed up at some point, so I wanted to capture them for posterity.

orangeonyon (consistently)
Christmas treemay may wee
I'm okayI ogogay
octopusbluh-bluh (extremely puzzing, extremely consistent)
raisinwee-yu (again, highly consistently)
graham crackerdadada (not to be confused with helicopter)
monster truckmama duck
Easter bunnyeedy bunty
come see!mum dee!

An interesting difference between the kids is that G had trouble with his liquids (L's and R's) for quite a while. Only now, around age 4-5, has he sort of conquered them. But R already does a really great "r" sound at the ends of words. Words like "heart", "shirt", and "bark" have a really pronounced "r" sound that always reminds me of talking like a pirate.

Not so little one

Well, since I'm talking about the littlest one, I might as well keep going. Let's see what other kinds of changes he's been up to. For one, he eats at the table rather than a high chair now. I think that started when we had cousins over for a sleepover and I sat all four kids at the table for a meal. After that he sort of didn't want to go back to a high chair, and I liked having him sit next to me anyway. It was a bit challenging at times because he's both a messy eater and a bit of a wanderer (as kids tend to be), but I was able to instate mealtime rules and make things work. I also put a towel over his chair so I can easily put it in the wash when he gets too much food on it.

Though he's still in diapers, we don't use the changing table anymore. Honestly, he's sort of too tall for it now anyway. When we need to change him we just ask him to go lie down in his room, and he's usually happy to oblige. Even better, sometimes after his diaper is full he'll tell us he wants to be changed and will run in there and be lying down by the time we arrive. I hope this bodes well for when he does start toilet training.

Even his sleeping and bedtime routines changed at some point. A year ago we would put him in his crib and turn on his sound machine and his sleeper music mobile thingy. I'm not sure when it happened, but he started saying he didn't want his sound machine on. Then he didn't want his music on. I always worried at that point that he'd wake up too easily without the white noise going, but he still sleeps great. Now he gets a blanket on him and sometimes a book to look at and just night lights. Sometimes he wants his music, but not always.

He's always been very chill about going to bed. He rarely puts up a fight, and even if he protests a bit, after we get him into his crib he usually just makes himself comfortable. For a while when we would leave the room he would holler after us "BYE MOMMY" or "BYE DADDY" and just settle down to sleep. It was pretty funny, since it was in that deep bellowing voice that he has.

Oh, he got the rest of his baby teeth in at some point! They were pretty late compared to G, after 2 years old for the 2-year molars to arrive. What a difference it made being able to hand him something and ask him to take bites rather than having to cut everything up into tiny pieces. As I'm writing this he's using a spoon to eat some "macanoni" (and getting really angry every time it falls off the spoon--but he's trying!).

Once he has teeth he also needs them brushed, so I started doing that, once in the morning and once at night. I started off doing it just like I did with G, with a little toddler toothbrush. I had a rude awakening after his 1 year dentist appointment, when they pointed out that he had tartar buildup in a few spots. Turns out the kid has ultra strong lips and wasn't giving me good access to his gumline in certain spots, so I was never able to brush them properly. He was also very combative about opening up his lips and letting me get at them. Mommy to the rescue, found suggestions to use a "finger toothbrush" made of silicone that goes over the finger, so you stick your whole finger in their mouth to brush. It's a bit awkward but with the proper framing (his toothbrush is shaped like a monkey named Momo) he has gotten a lot better about relaxing his lips so I can brush properly.

One of the skills that babies and toddlers work on is fitting shapes into receptacles, like puzzles. Just like G at one point, R was painfully bad at this for a long time. Even the simplest puzzles with four pieces and pictures backing the pieces to show how to put them were beyond him. He had a sort of breakthrough at one point and really focused on a single simple puzzle for basically a whole evening, solving the same four pieces over and over again. After that I feel like he suddenly "got it" and had an easier time doing other puzzle type activities.

I've seen it lots of times with my kids when they suddenly discover some new skill and then have to "max it out" by repeating it for a long time. Another instance I remember is R practicing stepping up and down from a single stair step over and over, I guess trying to figure out his newfound balance. In cases like that we try not to interrupt them so they can maintain their focus.

Speaking of learning new things, R's constant cry these days is "I want to do it MYDELF!" Buckle himself into his carseat? Do it mydelf. Unbuckle from the carseat? Do it mydelf. Open the package of food to eat? Do it mydelf. Climb into or out of the car seat? Do it mydelf. Put on or take off shoes? Do it mydelf. Climb into crib, climb out of crib, wash hands, put on diaper, change clothes, read a book... the list goes on. The best part is he can pretty much do almost none of these things by himdelf, but he sure wishes he could. When we try to assist him, he gets mad and yells. If we don't help him, he tries and gets understandably frustrated and then yells. There's no winning here, but I guess I admire the attitude.

On the topic of capabilities, I realized the other day that a lot of everyday things that kids can and can't do just comes down to sheer strength. Stuff like turning a doorknob or opening the fridge door or pulling on your shoes or slamming a car door shut or poking a piece of food or ripping open a food package all have a big strength component. Sure, there's some dexterity needed, but in large part there's a certain amount of strength required, and you either have it or you don't. So once a kid gets strong enough to do it, it becomes easy for them. Sometimes teaching a kid how to do something by themselves is less a matter of demonstrating the technique and more a matter of just waiting till they're strong enough. For the kid, it's got to be frustrating to have to wait, though.

I don't want to forget one of the funniest things R started doing. We got him this puffy vest, and he started sticking his hands in the vest pockets and walking around outside like an old man out on a constitutional. It made him look so old and hilarious. He carried that over to being obsessed with pockets in any clothes he had. For a while his favorite thing to do was stick his hands in his pockets and walk up and down the driveway over and over. G never had this kind of pockets obsession. It's really funny to watch.

A quick mention about winter: we had snow briefly, and a decent amount. G remembered it, but R of course didn't, since he was less than 1 year old the last time it came around. I want to share an anecdote about how snow went this year for the two kids. I got them both bundled up nicely: layers, snow pants, boots, mittens, hats, the whole deal. G was ready quicker and went on out while I finished bundling R (he ended up looking like the kid from A Christmas Story). I went out with R and was helping him walk through the deep snow. Within 30 seconds he started crying and I had to take him back inside.

In extreme contrast, I come back out and G has taken off his mittens and lost them somewhere in the snow after sprinting all around the yard a bunch. He's bare-hand scooping up snow and eating it and has been for the last 10 minutes. His hands are so cold he cannot even feel or move them anymore, so I need to take him back inside immediately to warm them up with cool water. We then found his mittens (soaked) and got him some spare ones to have proper snow fun in after. I just love this anecdote as an example of what kind of total polar opposites (so to speak) I'm dealing with here sometimes.

Additions and Subtractions

Somewhere in here I wanted to insert a note that our old dog Poppy finally died a little while ago, at 16 years old. We got her as an adult, when she was 2-3 years old and had already gone through multiple families. She had some weird anxieties her whole life and was generally a bit nervous for most of it, but we tried to give her a comfortable place to live where not a ton was required of her. She was extremely sweet and gentle with the kids and was just a great family dog. Her presence in our life has been missed. She was a good old dog.

On a brighter note, my sister just had a baby! I'm so excited to be an uncle (again)! It's been so much fun to see all the pics of a tiny baby again, now that we don't have one anymore. It's funny how much stuff we just page out of our brains when we don't use it anymore. That's one of the main reasons I write this: so that I can go back and remember the kinds of things that were going on during different eras of my life and the kids' lives. I can't wait to see how the newest little one grows and develops her personality and capabilities. We've been sharing that sort of stuff from our kids for years now, I can't wait to be the recipient of "look what she just did!" kind of stuff.

Older kid stuff... like riding bikes!

So far I've spent the whole time talking about our littlest one, but our eldest has been busy with his own stuff too, of course. Hey, here's a wild thing: I taught him how to ride a bike! It's every dad's dream and/or job to teach his kid to ride a bike, and I'm just pleased as punch to be living out the cliche. It's been years since I mentioned our last attempts to teach him to ride a balance bike. Well, that's because he didn't show much interest and so we didn't push him to try. I always figured he'd eventually want to try again, and he got big enough that I thought it was time to give it another attempt.

We started out with the balance bike again, but also had a kid's pedal bike handy. He really wanted to go straight to the pedal bike, but we told him he had to try practicing a bit with the balance bike first. We tried it in the back yard, which was bumpy and not easy to ride on. Once again he was not interested in the balance bike. Then we let him try the pedal bike in the back yard. Despite being incredibly difficult to pedal on grass, he kept wanting to try over and over. Somehow the allure of a pedal bike was extremely strong and motivating.

We moved down to the cul-de-sac next. The key piece of advice I got online was not to hold the bike, but instead to support the child. That makes them negotiate the balance between their body and their bike without some external force holding the bike up. It's the same reason why training wheels, while great for getting kids interested in bikes and motivating them, don't really teach balance. Then I told him the same advice I got from my dad when I learned to ride: look where you want to go and just pedal. The faster you go, the easier it is to balance, so there's a strength component here too, to be able to pedal to get that speed.

We had 6 or 7 sessions in the cul-de-sac with me just supporting under his arms while he pedaled around. We practiced doing loops in both directions and doing different turns. With shockingly little practice he was starting to go faster than I could keep up with while holding. I went from having two hands under his arms to having one hand just touching his shoulder for comfort. Then we upgraded our location to the school parking lot down the street. It had a bit of uphill and downhill and a few long, flat straightaways. Here I weaned him off of that comfort hand and only helped hold him on the uphill part. This is basically where we are now: he can bike on flat surfaces and downhills a bit, but is still learning the balance and getting the strength needed to pedal uphill and pedal while standing for extra power. All in all it took about a month. It was a lot of work, jogging alongside him in the hot sun, but a lot of fun and really worth it.

It's worth mentioning that R has started trying out the old balance bike, too. He mainly likes to straddle the seat and walk slowly. That's a good enough start for now. I'm sure we'll spend more time on it later as he grows more.

Older kid stuff... like soccer!

Before we get to the soccer part, I wanted to talk about how G has changed when going to playgrounds. We've only recently started letting the kids go back to playgrounds due to COVID, but with vaccination rates going up and the fact that it's outdoor play, we felt the risk is low enough now. Anyway, in the last few months, he's really shown a willingness to play with rando kids at the playground. Before, most of the time he would be too shy to approach; now he will randomly chat up some kid and they'll run off together. He'll even end up in small groups of kids sometimes.

For the last few years we've discussed and mentally evaluated whether we thought G was ready for an organized sport like soccer. In previous years we felt he wasn't going to have fun, because he didn't seem to enjoy big groups of kids, but this year we saw those signs of willingness to play with kids he doesn't know super well, so we felt he was ready and enrolled him. I'm lucky to be working from home, so that I could take him to all his practices and games (often mommy and R come along too for the games).

The "season" started off with practice twice a week for 2 weeks or so, then those practices switched to be games. 5 vs 5 kids, two 12-minute halves. At practices the coach had him doing basic drills like passing, shooting, and dribbling. He also taught about throw-ins and spent a lot of time reminding them which goal they want to kick it in and which one they want to keep it away from. Not surprisingly, in the frenzy of the game kids aren't always good at remembering which way to go. Probably a third of the goals I've witnessed so far were own-goals. Oops.

In terms of how he plays, G is happy to just be on the field but seems to strongly avoid getting into any sort of conflicts. He'll sometimes chase down a ball that strays too far away from another kid but doesn't really try to take the ball away from anyone. Not that they have "positions" at this point, but he seems to enjoy defense-type activities, so we did some practice kicking the ball out of the way if it's heading towards the goal. He's managed to put it into action a few times. In any case, it's a success in my book if he comes away happy and having fun. This year isn't really about learning to play soccer; it's about learning to play with a group of kids in a somewhat chaotic environment.

Older kid stuff... like reading!

A year ago with the last post, G was just starting to read and could do some three letter words. To give you some indication of how that's progressed... hey, quit trying to read my laptop! Yes, I'm talking about you. Go find something else to do and I'll be done in a little bit. OK, sorry, I'm back now. So yeah, he can read a lot. He progressed from those 3 letter words to slightly longer words and sounding out the letters to simple short sentences. Now he can do short chapter books, but prefers ones that are shorter with more pictures.

Mommy deserves almost all the credit here for basically teaching him how to read and supplying him with a constant stream of level-appropriate material to stretch his capabilities just enough. She did a ton of reading with him, and her endless patience and steady teacher demeanor helped him grow a lot and build up his confidence. When he was just learning he was really hesitant to try pages with too many words or words that looked long or complicated. By now he will attempt to read basically anything: yesterday he was reading us a kids' book about different types of clouds (cirrus, cumulous, etc.) and mispronounced basically every cloud term but still charged through and at least attempted to say them all. I love that he's trying even if it's wrong. It's much better than not having enough confidence to even try.

An interesting thing about reading that I hadn't thought about is that it's mostly memorization. When you're just starting out and when you encounter an unfamiliar or especially difficult word, sure, you slow down to sound it out, but other than that, reading at any noticeable speed is simply recognizing memorized words very quickly. You can really see that in action with the trajectory a kid takes when learning to read. Eventually they aren't sounding out certain words and instead just saying them since they remember their shape. The method of reading we used was a mix of phonics and memorization. Phonics was used for most words, but they supplemented it with memorizing certain "sight words", basically those tiny connective words that show up frequently and have strange pronunciations, like "is", "the", "and", etc..

In case people are curious, a lot of his early reading practice used Bob Books. They have a great, gradual ramp up from super simple books with just a few words on the page to ones with a few sentences on the page. After a certain point we supplemented with other kids early reading books from the library, too.

Another interesting thing is G's "reading voice" that he switches into whenever he starts reading. I guess everyone has one, but his is very pronounced and distinctive. His pitch goes up a little and his speaking cadence changes. It's cute and I love it. Can't wait to see what R sounds like someday when he learns to read too.

Reading, by the way, is a fantastic activity for groups of kids. G's reading skills have helped make him the star of sleepovers sometimes because he can read books to the kids who come over (those kids just being his cousins, really). Sometimes they'll run off to play by themselves and I'll peek in to see G reading to a group of three kids with rapt attention. Likewise at night time during sleepovers he usually reads to himself and the others as they go to sleep. Reading is super useful and fun.

Older kid stuff... like building stuff!

Over the last couple years G has gotten a few Lego sets. For a while they were mostly a curiosity, but he got some for his birthday and Christmas and, with a little coaching, turned out to have quite the aptitude for building. We helped walk him through the instructions the first few times, teaching him how to interpret what they're showing in the diagrams. Now he can fully assemble fairly complicated sets by himself, usually without any assistance. His spatial reasoning is pretty good and he seems to really enjoy the process and the end result.

Recently my dad got him a Meccano set, similar to Legos but uses different types of parts. We've put together a few of those too. He needs more practice there since the instructions aren't familiar yet, but when we did them I tried to have him do most of the interpreting and I just helped hold pieces together to assist.

Another great construction type toy we have is a cool fort-building kit that his aunt and uncle gave him. It's got about 45 poles and 25 connectors, which you can connect at various angles to make all sorts of cool structures. It comes with an instruction book with the full steps to some of them and just pictures of others for ideas. At first he wasn't strong enough to connect the pieces together and take them apart, but now he is and combined with his instruction-following skills can make basically whatever he wants on his own. Then he has fun decorating it with various accoutrements and playing in it for a few days before it inevitably feels like it's taking up too much room, and we take it down until later.


This section is supposed to be about kids playing together, but I would remiss if I didn't mention G's latest stuffed animal/imaginary friend, Hilda, from the eponymous kids' TV show. He's currently obssessed with the show and loves the main character. Mommy had a brilliant idea to get him a stuffed version of her as a present and right now they're inseparable. He also has the graphic novels and at least one book from the show, which he's read many times. He draws fan art of characters and scenes from it and recites the plot to me whenever he can. It's fun seeing how much he loves it and how much he gets into it and how much joy he derives from it.

One of the things that has always been funniest is how much R copies his older brother. He copies everything: things he says, things he does, sounds he's making, wherever he's going, and he wants the same things he has. An especially weird one I remember is that they were both building something with Legos. G accidentally broke his creation and started crying, so of course R then also deliberately broke his own and also started crying. The level of imitation is incredible, and the fidelity is quite good too.

Let's go back to sleepovers for a minute. Occasionally we have their two cousins (one is G's age, one is R's age) over for a sleepover, usually just one night. It's always a ton of fun, and more and more fun as they get older since they play more independently. Usually they all run off and play together and need basically no involvement from us. In the last few months the kids have also had mini-sleepovers where one will sleep in the other's room. Usually it will be G sleeping on his sleeping bag in R's room while he's in the crib. We've tried it the other way a few times, but R isn't quite ready to sleep outside a crib yet, and I usually have to take him back to his crib in the middle of the night. On these nights they're always super excited and stay up late reading books and talking. Sometimes G will want to go to sleep but R will continue talking for too long, so I have to go in there a couple times and settle them down.

They've had a huge growth in independent play together lately. They have been playing together to some extent for ages but it's really taken off in the last, say, 3 weeks. R must have reached some critical level of competence or vocal mastery to suddenly be more fun to play with. Some days we barely see them because they've managed to play with each other for basically the whole day. I mean for the last hour I've barely had to intervene at all. They're having a great time and I'm getting some time to write this. It's awesome.

Conflict Resolution

Since they are both playing more physically with each other too (like roughhousing), mommy had the idea to introduce the concept of consent, at least for G. We actually use the word "consent" when we talk about it, too. When we witness them playing rough, we tell G to ask for consent before doing something that involves hitting or other kinds of rough play. Then he'll say something like "can I bonk on your head?" and actually listens depending on the answer. We felt it's important for them to start thinking about other people's boundaries.

Other things we talk to G about at this stage are more nuanced things like not teasing (example: prominently displaying something that R is not allowed to touch), gloating (example: loudly saying that you won and the other person lost), and being annoying (example: deliberately saying something you know the other person doesn't want to hear). Mostly I try to make him think about how he'd feel if that were done to him. He usually gets the idea but it needs constant reinforcement. Over time we'll elevate that to thinking about how someone else would like to be treated, even if it's different than how he himself would like to be treated (the "platinum rule").

In terms of resolving disputes, they keep getting better. It didn't start this way and doesn't work out 100% of the time, but I'll often hear stuff like: "R! Don't put that Lego on there! Go work on your own thing!" "Ooookay. I'll work on my own Legos." or "G! I want my car back!" "OK, you can play with this one and I'll play with this other one." or "Can you give me some space?" "OK, I'll go work over here." For larger dust ups, usually one kid will come running out crying or something. We'll listen to their greivances and then usually tell them "Well, did you tell them that? Go talk to them about it."

When I witness an obvious and direct infraction that I think needs intervention, my usual approach is to ask the offender to "make it right". If G pushes down R, either on purpose or by accident, I'll ask him to say sorry and go over to help him feel better. If he breaks something R is working on, I'll ask him to help rebuild it. If he snatches something away, he needs to give it back and say sorry for taking it. Sometimes if he's mad he won't do it, in which case I'll have him usually wait in his room and calm himself down until he's ready. When he's ready to apologize to the other person he can come out and do it. It sounds a bit like a time-out, but it's not really punitive; it's about collecting himself enough to make amends. If he's taking longer than a few minutes I'll usually go in there and talk to him about it, listen to his side of the story, and remind him why it's important to make it right. When he does his apology, I ask him to say specifically what he's apologizing for. Sometimes I help him find the words he could use: "I'm sorry I pushed you."

We try to model the "make it right" approach too. If I'm accidentally too rough with him to stop him doing something he isn't allowed to do, I'll apologize for being too rough. If I make a mess of something I'll go clean it up. If I forget to give a treat that I promised, I'll apologize for forgetting. I hope he absorbs that saying sorry is something everyone has to do, both kids and grown-ups.

Well, I've gotten to about the end of the planned content I had. Things are eventful here but good. Everyone is safe and we've got exciting stuff to look forward to. Next time I write, G will have been in kindergarten for a while, so I'm sure that will be interesting. Hopefully it won't be another year until the next one, but no promises!


Onset of Talking, Onset of Walking

It's been about seven months since the last post, and I've definitely accumulated enough material to type out about these two kids. Obviously in addition to whatever development has happened for them, there have been significant, world-changing events that are worth bringing up too, and I'm lucky to be able to say everyone here is safe and healthy.

The majority of rapid development has been with my tiny child, R, but the bigger G has had his share of changes too. Let's see what they've been up to.


No More Babies

I suppose now that R has turned 1 year old I ought to give an update on how things are, huh? Lots of small changes have accumulated, many of them familiar from the first time around, and now it's reached a critical mass that deserves to be recorded for your benefit and for mine to look back on.


The Switch At Three

You know, some periods of your life move slowly and others move very quickly. The last several months have been both very slow and very fast. On the one hand, my parental leave time felt like it went on for a long time, due to how much work I was doing with the kids during it. On the other hand, it felt like both kids were changing in so many ways that I could hardly keep up. If there's one word to sum up the feeling overall, it's... tired. [Note: I started writing this in January, so some of this is stale, but boy, I really need to just get this post wrapped up.]


There Are Two of Them

Well uh, it occurred to me that I never announced that we were having another baby. That whole period is now done, so... yeah, we have another baby now. Let's call this new one baby R. He's currently over two weeks old, and it brings back a lot of memories from the first time around with little G. Reading that post again, I'm finding a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences. All the while, G is also growing and changing. It's been five months since the last update, and there's definitely some stuff to talk about.