Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Two years and seven hours ago (roughly), this guy entered our lives:

Otto, less than 24 hours old

And now Otto's two!

Somehow over the past 24 months, I think I've lost 12 of them.  Time has flown by.  I never felt bad about not having a baby book for Stella--her life and milestones were more than adequately caught in all their glory here.  Otto?  Well, Otto's a second child who also had the (mis)fortune of joining us when our lives as a whole just got busier, professionally and because having two kids has really been exponentially more work than just one. 

But we love him none the less, despite less documentation.  He's a fascinating little person.  And, for his second birthday, I wanted to capture some of the Otto-ness we love and appreciate these days. Because while I think now that I'll always remember these details, too soon, they will be replaced by new developments and observations, at risk of extinction without taking the time to capture them as they are these days.  So here goes!

Otto and balls--soccer balls, footballs, bouncy balls, basketballs, volleyballs, light-up balls--you name it, he loves it.  I remember playing a game of rolling a ball back and forth with Stella.  I had read somewhere that it was a developmental milestone of some sort.  She'd sort of humor me, roll it a few times and then want to move on.  The first time we gave Otto a ball, it was a revelation, as if he realized that his hand was *made* to catch and throw balls.

In fact, he is a better catcher than Stella is at four and a half.  And he drop kicks and does things that regularly shock and amaze me.  His gross motor skills are definitely strong.  We joke that it would be funny if Tyler ended up with a jock for a son.

But he's really not just a jock--he's got a surprising ability to focus and systematically solve things like puzzles and building.  I'm convinced he got some of the Soenksen/Stachowiak engineering genes that didn't express themselves in the same way with me.  His teachers at school are regularly mentioning how surprised they are at the way he does complex puzzles and builds 3-D shapes with these metallic shapes.

The first thing Otto showed us with his birthday metal shapes was this house he built

Completing his birthday puzzle (and, yes, with his helmet for his to-be-delivered bike present)

Another thing about Otto--he's got a natural charisma and is (generally) more outgoing.  When I drop him off at school, kids are always shouting "Otto's here!".  And when I ask him what he liked best about his day, he says "friends!"  (Stella, as a counterpoint, always talked about going on a walk outside.)

He can be a ham.  One day, I wanted to take a picture of Otto and Stella as we went in the house after school, because I thought they looked cute.  Now about every third day, Otto stops in front of the door and says, "Picture, Mommy!  Cheese!"


Although, if you ask him to smile, he squints his eyes.  Like Tyler, I've learned to ask for a smile then wait for him to laugh at himself to get a good shot:

"Smile, Otto!  No, with your eyes open!"

He also can prefer to be behind the camera:

He's not afraid of his feminine side:

And has quite the sartorial sense:

Unbelievably, I don't have a recent photo of him in his favorite plaid fleece pants with matching jacket. What will we do when he outgrows them?

And is a bit obsessed with swimming and swimsuits:

It started in Iceland when we went swimming everyday--anytime we even mention "swimsuits" he gets excited and obsessed.

And he's a talker.  Some of it is probably trying to keep up with Stella and get our attention (which is, frankly, less laser-focused than it may have been at other times....) 

And he's ironically both laid-back/easy-going and sometimes super-sensitive:

We see this point pretty much anytime something is disappointing...

There's so much, it's really impossible to capture his essence with these few photos and words.  He loves trains and cars and diggers (but not loud noises).  He looks up to Stella and wants to emulate her.  He's actually very kind and better at sharing and taking Stella into consideration than she is with him.  And my life is infinitely richer for having him in it.

Happy second birthday, Otto.  We love you.

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