At long last! You thought the day would never come, but after a summer/fall hiatus I'm finally rolling out a brand new update. So let's get started!

The most notable changes these past six months have been of the verbal variety. Gisele suddenly started to understand everything we said some months ago and has since been working on her own vocabulary. She'll repeat just about any word you say to her, but it usually comes out in a nearly unrecognizable form. The result is that she is often urgently trying to tell us something, but we generally have no idea what she's saying. Nels noticed that the word she says the clearest is "no". It seems very appropriate for this stubborn age. Gisele is still very outgoing and friendly, though, and if she's in the right mood she'll wave broadly to every passerby and say "hi". If the person notices and responds, Gisele will greet them many more times until they pass out of sight.

Gisele's favorite toys by far are books. She wants books read to her multiple times per hour and she has little patience for my housework. Fortunately, I don't like housework either. Gisele's favorite books have simple stories with mishaps. She loves Curious George and the trouble that he gets into. One evening she became fixated on a page where George feeds a bugle to an ostrich and she kept saying "uh oh" over and over. Other favorite toys are things that can be taken apart. She loves to shuck corn and peel onions that are lying around. She also likes to peel stickers off of their backings so that she can place them over her belly button.

After books, Gisele's other obsession is for dolls, or "babies" as she calls them. I'm not sure how it happened, but suddenly everything is all about babies. Before we go out somewhere she'll say "Baby?", and I'll say, "Yes, you can take a baby with you", and she'll race over to her babies, select one, and hold onto it the whole trip. As I'm driving I'll often look in the rear view mirror and see Gisele boucing her baby on her lap. She'll even make them dance when I play music. And she loves it if we pretend to care for the babies in any way. She and Nels often pretend to give the babies baths in her old infant bathtub. And she's forever bringing me her socks to put on her babies. She's strangely nurturing. Gisele was shocked one day to see her cousin Anne pick up a doll by it's head.

Recently, the Nelson-Gillot household realized that it was too mainstream. Was there more we could do to stack the cards against Gisele's future social life? Were there any more liberal stereotypes that we could add to our vegan-atheistic-tie dyed pot? We found our answer in the cult of Waldorf education. There have been Waldorf schools all over the world for about a century, and like all good cults this one comes with an all-knowing founder (Rudolf Steiner). Some central tenets are minimal television and computers, and an emphasis on creativity and fine motor skills. We've enrolled Gisele in a parent-tot class at the Sanderling School and made some changes to Gisele's home environment. While she never watched tv to begin with, she did have a fair amount of plastic battery operated toys. Now Gisele's toys are wooden or made of other natural materials. She has cloth dolls, paper and crayons, knitted fruits and vegetables, wooden stacking cups, and baskets of acorns. In short, we've lost it.

You may be wondering if anyone other than Gisele exists in this condo. Nels is working more normal hours lately because the game he's been working on, Everquest 2 is out on shelves. Some of his fine contributions to the game include a power hungry duck named Sgt. Quackers and an elderly drunk toothless female pirate. During the day I focus on keeping the wee one busy by taking walks and driving places. When we're out of confined areas, Gisele feels the need for speed and runs away from me constantly. I try not to take it personally. Come to think of it, she's also obsessed with hiding from me. She usually hides in our closet and says "where is... where is..." until I find her.

Cousin Connection

George and Anne have become partners in crime. Anne is a willing accomplice and a quick study. The other day, after watching George drop objects over the stairs and into the family room, she started emptying out Annick's panty drawer and dropping it's contents one by one in the same manner. George just watched and giggled. George has also taught Anne to play "fire fighter", and she enjoys putting the fire fighting gear on and running around the house saying "ding ding. Fire!"

George has taken on many identities over the years (most notably that of a fire fighter), and he's unveiled a new one recently: Neil Armstrong. When he remembers he'll ask to be called "Neil", and he's even named Anne "Michael Collins". Annick is simply "Buzz". Gisele has the good fortune of being named "Ham" after the frst chimpanzee in space. Sometimes when the house is especially messy, George will shrug his shoulders, tilt his head to the side and blame it on "zero G". And as he exits the car (AKA the space shuttle) he'll sometimes say "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind".

Is George too young to settle down and get married? Apparently astronauts need love too, because George informed Annick that he would probably just marry Anne so that he could live with her forever. He also asked his mom if she could have 10 more babies like Anne so that he could hug them all day. Gisele finds herself on the receiving end of these smackdowns, I mean, "hugs", very often. Yes, we've taken some home movies that are sure to be highly embarassing to George later on.

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