Tag Archives: Sophia

Minnie Me?

Overheard in the car this morning:

Sophia (on her “cell” phone): “Ugh! I can’t believe it!”
Us: “What’s the matter Soph?”
S: “They want me to come down and go to that doctor’s appointment. But that’s not my job! I’m not a Doctor, I’m an ARTIST, people!”

Priceless. Thought it’d give you a chuckle.
What are some of your favorite overheards? Need not be kid related.

Little Miss Manners

“Unggh Unnnnnngh!”

“Sophia, use your words. I don’t respond to grunts.”


“Yes, Sophia?”

“Juice Please!”

“Here you go.”

“Thank you.”

(Dance break!)

This brief display of manners has been brought to you by 2 years of relentless consistency on the part of my wife. She has insisted, from the time Sophia started to be able to use words, that she use the words “Please” and “Thank You” with every request. We’ve reached the point where Sophia will do it about 30% of the time without being prompted, about 95% of the time when reminded, and about 5% of the time it results in a full raging meltdown of indignation. It’s not just her eyes that are Irish.

All of this please-and-thank-you-ing has gotten me to thinking about manners. It seemed odd to me that we were investing so much energy (consistency really is exhausting) in a few words of social convention. I mean, manners are nice and all, but they’re just the little polite handshakes of social interaction. Can’t we wait until later to let her learn some of this?

My wife is a pretty smart gal. In addition to that, she has a very astute sense of intuition, and will often do things that “feel right” to her, without having to know all the reasons behind why. In the 10 years that I’ve known my wife, I’ve learned that it’s usually best to assume that she’s right, and that I’m not on the ball enough to know why yet.

While my wife and I are building an intelligent and creative little girl from scratch, I’m also in the processes of assembling a linux webserver from scratch. It’s the long-term solution to last week’s tragic blog meltdown. Building a webserver from scratch involves a lot of typing things like "./config --prefix=/usr/local --use-bindings" into a text interface, which the magical computrix machine then executes for me. Most of the really important things I’ve learned in my life happen while I’m building linux installs for webservers. Well, OK, just one thing so far, but still.

Manners matter because they recognize the freedom and dignity of the person you’re talking to.

When I ask my wife to pour me a second cup of coffee, she has the freedom to do it or not do it. I am asking her to yield whatever she had planned to do with her time for a few moments, and to honor my request. By recognizing her freedom, I preserve her dignity when I add the simple word “Please”. My wife is not a servant, she is not a slave to my demands. She is a free person, and any act that she does on my behalf is done on the basis of that freedom. That’s what I mean by dignity. When I say thank you, it is a second recognition that whatever act she just performed was not compelled, but was a gracious act on her part.

My linux server has no dignity. It has no freedom. It simply executes whatever command I give it. To use “please” or “thank you” with my commands would be an absurdity. It’s not performing a gracious act, or a kind act, when it executes my commands, because it has no other option. There’s no basis of freedom out of which it does what I ask.

By insisting that our daughter use the words “please” and “thank you”, my wife is, of course, teaching our daughter that the people around her have freedom and dignity. She is teaching her that the things done for her are gracious acts of kindness, and not the automatic responses of life-like robots. My daughter may not understand any of this yet, but the most important lessons are often absorbed before we ever understand what they mean. The choice to be a grateful person, respecting of the dignity of others, is one of those lessons.

Also, we do it because it make the other parents at Gymboree insanely jealous.

20 things I now know, that I didn’t know the first time around

  1. There’s nothing that comes out of a baby that won’t wash off your skin.
  2. Crying is normal. Very, very normal. It’s not always your job to fix it.
  3. At every baby shower, there was always someone who thought to give us diapers. I laughed and laughed at that person, thinking it was the lamest gift ever. Thank you, diaper lady. Bless your 50 year-old been-through-this-enough-times-to-know-what-I’m-doing soul.
  4. I know why the word “Peace” is so often found next to the word “Quiet”.
  5. Children are born scientists. They run their own experiments to see how the world operates. My job involves knowing which experiments are likely to maim her, and heading those off.
  6. There are different degrees of “Clean”.
  7. Some days, you can literally see their brain grow. One minute, they don’t understand the concept of mirrors. An hour later, they have lined up all their stuffed animals in front of the full length mirror, and are holding a fashion show with mommy’s jewelry.
  8. Wednesday morning reading group at the Burbank Public Library is the last bastion of sexual discrimination in parenting roles. I’ve been a regular now for 2 months, and every mom there still keeps an eye on Sophia to see if she is actually an abducted child being read to against her will by a crazy man. I try to ease the tension by making small talk with her in a loud voice. “Ha ha! Look Sophia! Isn’t it fun to be reading in public with your daddy, which is me, who is fully employed and not at all creepy! Ha ha!” It doesn’t seem to be working.
  9. She doesn’t need my help as much as I think she does. She needs to fail at things, and that’s part of my job too.
  10. Babywise. It works.
  11. Parenting is a team sport.
  12. The 14-year-old unskilled extortionist next door gets $8 an hour for watching TV and eating my microwaved corn-dogs while our daughter sleeps. That, my friends, is a sweet gig.
  13. Your relationship with your own parents enters a new and strange phase when they become grandparents. You realize that they were making it all up as they went along, and they realize that you now know that, and everybody hopes that you can keep up the charade long enough to get the next crop of kids out the door.
  14. Sometime in your parenting career, you will find a half-eaten, slobbery animal cracker in your hand without having any idea how it got there. You will shrug, and finish the animal cracker. See #6.
  15. Being a dad has brought out the best and worst parts of my character.
  16. Giving children choices seems to be all the rage these days. Here’s the deal – kids don’t have any clue what to do with choices. They are confused and frustrated when you give them 6 options for dinner. You’re the parent. You decide.
  17. If a dad dresses his daughter, and takes her out into public, and somebody comments on how cute she looks, dad will dress her in those exact same clothes from then on. We fear fashion failure.
  18. Don’t join a battle of wills that you are not prepared to win.
  19. If someone comes to your house, and sits on your couch, and reaches into the cushions and pulls out a half-eaten apricot mashed into a Lego, if that person asks, “How did this get here?”, that person is not a parent.
  20. I don’t own her joy. Children do wonderful things. They sing songs in public. They wave and smile at street people, who wave and smile back. They play with anyone who brought a toy to the park, without caring about their country of origin, or what language they speak. They play the blinking game with crotchety old men on benches in the mall, and get them to stick their tongues out. None of this belongs to me. Children are a gift from God, given to the whole world, under the care of parents for a few brief moments before they burst gloriously into their own light.

All of this is good stuff to know, since we’re now gearing up for round 2!

big sister now

Sophia Rocks Out

So, one of the classes I teach is all done through video podcast. It’s a class on how to produce a studio recording, and so, of course, I thought it would be appropriate to compose and record the crapp-tastic-est theme song ever for the show. Here it is:

It turns out, this is Sophia’s favorite song ever. This is a video of her rocking out to it, again and again and again. This, basically, is how we spent out entire evening tonight. In the middle of this, while the camera is pointed at my chest, you will hear her saying her new favorite word, “More?”.

sophia’s sharing

Sophia is very into sharing right now. She love to hand us things, we say “Thank You!” then we hand them back. This is very fun, and we are encouraging her to do more of this. The downside? A lot of her sharing consists of things like half-eaten banana, slobbery binky, and 3-week old couch-cheerios. Ummm … Thanks?

Three Things I Thought, But Did Not Say, To The Cranky Old People At Islands Casual Dining Establishment, This Past Saturday

One) Yes, I brought my 10 month old daughter into a casual dining establishment to eat, and yes, she does travel with a lot of accessories, including a stroller the size of a hummer. I apologize if my fumbling navigation through the main traffic area of the restaurant interrupted what was obviously a deeply meaningful, special meal out for you both. At 12:30 in the afternoon. On a Saturday. In a mall.

Two) My daughter is one of the most joyful people I know. She laughs and smiles, and it causes the sun to shine brighter, and birds to sing in perfect, 4 part choral harmony. I’ve seen her turn ex-convicts and hardened IRS auditors into cooing and gushing buffoons with just one gap-toothed grin. So, please understand, when she stands up on my lap, and looks over the top of the booth at you, and smiles and laughs, she’s not trying to insult you. I only say this because, well, you looked insulted. These are her happy noises. If you would like to hear her full gail, 5:30 PM raging meltdown, so that an accurate comparison can be made, I can arrange that. And let me just add, as a side note, that if you are incapable of experiencing joy at the simple laugh of a smiling child, then something is seriously, tragically broken inside of you. You should maybe get that looked at.

Three) Dude. We’re at an Islands. I can understand how you might be deeply offended if I plopped my daughter down and started feeding her mashed squash and Cheerios while you were enraptured by Thomas Keller’s brilliant culinary offerings at the French Laundry. But come on – Islands? The waiters are wearing Hawaiian shirts and trying to get you to buy fruity passion tea drinks. Their specialty is called the “Big Wave Burger.” If a dad and his daughter can’t have a messy, laughing, joyful lunch together here, then the world has gone mad.

So, cranky old people sitting across from me at Islands, I’m sorry that you missed out on catching my daughter’s infectious joy, which is her mother’s great gift to her. My gift to her, on the other hand, will be writing pithy sardonic blog diatribes.

On Sophia’s Dedication

Kyrie Yeshua

Bind to you this daughter of Eve
Child of your children
Loved as you taught us to love

Pull out a chair at your great table
Let her sit in the circle of your grace
Spread wide the canopy of covenant
And walk with her into that great feast

Let her drink in the wonder of your holiness
Let her eat the bread of righteousness
Let her sink into the waters
And rise again a new creation

Oh God, my God
The God of my wife, and her father, and her mother

Oh God, my God
The God of my father, and his father before him
The God of my mother, and her mother before her

Be the God of our daughter
That she may grow in your wisdom
And live in your grace

Sophia’s Lullaby


Sophia’s Lullaby
by Michael Lee

My wife and daughter are far away from me this week, and I am missing them terribly. I don’t want my daughter to forget the sound of my voice, so I’m posting her lullaby here on the blog so that Gretchen can download it and play it for her at night.

I love you both.

When Nerds Become Fathers …

Things like this happen. Things like her dad registering the domain name SophiaLee.com, just in case she needs it in 15 years for her modeling / philosophy lecturing / rock star (but in a wholesome way) / humanitarian career. In the meantime, I get to use it to do ridiculous things like post an online photo album of her.

I promise, not every post from here on out will be about my daughter. I totally promise.


Introducing …

UPDATE: New Photos, new layout

Sophia’s Photos

It wasn't me


Born Thursday, June 23rd at 7:55 PM
6 lbz, 2 oz; 18 inches long
IQ 186 (I estimated)

Sophia was born via C-section after some pretty complicated labor, and both Gretchen and Sophia are doing well. They’re actually both sleeping peacefully in the room as I type this.

Praise God for his many wonders, so often disguised up as the normal stuff of life.