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The Order of Oddfish



May 4, 2010


Today is our daughter Lucy’s first birthday! For those of you who haven’t read the story of her birth, complete with Twilight-hating anesthesiologist and Scrabble game interrupted by broken water, it’s all here.

It’s been a marvelous first year. I’ve resisted posting too much about Lucy, although when we caught her first real laughter on video, I couldn’t resist.

I just realized I’ve never explained how Lucy got her nickname, “Baby Owl.” I will, right after these pictures from throughout her first year:

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Before Lucy was born, Heather and I went back to Michigan for Thanksgiving. Everyone wanted to know, What were we going to name our daughter? Heather, who is the master of the deadpan, secretly instructed my sensible Aunt Lorna beforehand, “No matter what name we say, no matter how ridiculous, act like it’s perfect.”

So when we were asked what name we would pick, Heather said with a straight face, “Owl. Her name will be Owl Kennedy.”

My mother flipped. “Owl!” she exclaimed. “That’s a terrible name! Are you crazy? All the kids will make fun of her on the playground! Hoo-hoo! Hoo-hoo!”

Aunt Lorna said, “I don’t know. It sounds like a pretty good name to me. Owl . . . Owl! I like it, actually.”

“You’re all NUTS,” said my mother.

“You see, James?” said Heather to me in fake outrage. “This is why I don’t want to tell your mother anything.”

We let a few days go by, to prolong the torture. As it turns out, my mother felt horribly guilty about her outburst, but we enjoyed watching her squirm. (She claims she “couldn’t sleep” and had long conversations with my sister and father worrying whether she’d offended Heather.)

A couple days later, Heather and I had more or less forgotten about “Owl,” but over lunch my mother said, “I just wanted to apologize for what I said. Owl is a beautiful name. Whatever you want to name her is fine with me.”

Heather and I burst into laughter. “Owl?” we snorted. “We’re not actually going to name her Owl!”

“Oh thank God,” said my mother.

Since then, she’s been Baby Owl. Even when pregnant, we referred to Lucy as Owl, to the point where her cousins Domingo and Amalia half-believed that Heather had an actual owl inside her. I think they were a little disappointed when Heather gave birth to a human instead.


When Lucy was born, I went to Humboldt Park, picked a ton of dandelions, and made dandelion wine. The idea was that we would drink the dandelion wine at her first birthday party. The day of the party, though, I totally forgot! I think most people were relieved. When I was making the dandelion wine, it smelled absolutely foul. Also, Humboldt Park (where I was once jumped by hooligans and beaten) might not have the finest dandelions in Chicago. The ones I used are probably coated with exhaust from the California and Division buses, trampled by soccer players, or smothered by late-night canoodlers.

Also, one of the four bottles of dandelion wine I made spontaneously exploded. Clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I blame Ray Bradbury.

Time for amusing hair.

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At Lucy’s birthday party, we set a cake (made by my cake-master nephew Theo!) in front of Lucy and waited in happy anticipation to see her tear into it. However, Lucy barely touched it. I think she was too stunned at hearing “Happy Birthday” sung in three different languages.

Happy birthday, Baby Owl. We love you.