Let's peek in on Beth & David in 1995. In the middle of a snowy night in January, Beth sent David out to the 24-hour mini-mart to forage for garbanzo beans and eggs. She said they were vital. The diagnosis? Pregnancy!

Beth began craving fish just before the fetus sprouted gill slits. A taste for red meat followed, escalating to watermelon by summer. This leads us to a theory:

Phylogeny recapitulates gastronomy!

(Embryology in a nutshell, so to speak.)

Since our apartment wasn't baby-proofable, we started house- hunting and found a lovely colonial with a sunny guest room. If you have seen the film, 'The Money Pit,' you might appreciate how sunny and airy it would soon become. The first week after we moved in, two massive trees came down. Then the roof caved in. Next, we learned the hard way that some plumber installing a pipe in the distant past had cut a series of floor joists all the way through instead of drilling, leaving the floor to be held up by the plaster of the ceiling below. None of this out-of-pocket experience was covered by insurance, although one positive result is that we have a new master bathroom: in the attic.

In case all of this wasn't going to be stressful enough, David slipped three disks, herniating two, just a week after finishing physical therapy from the knee injury that had kept him on crutches since November, 1994. David was still in a cervical collar as 1995 ended but the spinal surgery was a complete success and he has recovered almost full use of his right side. For a while, the basement became a temporary office and the seriously preggers Beth had to handle all errands beyond the front door.

We were reminded wonderfully how fortunate we are in our family, friends and neighbors. Barely a day passed without someone finding a reason to stop by, chat, move some heavy item around the house, reach high shelves, or otherwise help us through the move and post-op rehab.

Late summer was a race. Would the construction or gestation finish first? Could there be some further source of stress we had neglected to take on? Would we ever be able to unpack? Would David be able to lift the baby? Which panhandler along Beth's route to work would win the betting pool on her starting a maternity leave? What would Beth crave after summer melons?

At midnight three weeks before her due date, we thought the Time had arrived. Beth squeezed herself in behind the steering wheel, midriff bulging gloriously, while David lodged himself in the passenger seat, head pasted to body by bandages and fiberglass strutwork. We drove in carnival atmosphere to the hospital. The emergency room staff wanted to take the wrong one of us as the patient, but we set them straight and Beth was soon ensconced in a bed and tethered to monitors. The delivery nurse confidently predicted birth by the following afternoon. Given the choice of walking the halls or going home to get some rest, we opted for the latter.

Good decision. Labor held off. Beth's doctor predicted delivery within days. Repeatedly. Beth's due date passed. Labor still held off. Summer turned to Fall. Beth polished off watermelons and pumpkins.

Five weeks after the false alarm and countless 'any day now' predictions later, the doctor checked Beth into the hospital and induced the labor. So, on September 23, 1995, Erev Rosh Hashanah, Michael Aaron Salzman was born to this breathing world with a full head of hair, strong lungs, and his own Internet home-page.

We are thrilled to be his parents! Michael's discovery of the world amazes us. In his playful burblings can be heard all the sounds from all the human languages there have ever been! if only we knew where to listen. Michael has newborn twin cousins, Jamie and Ben Salzman, who live nearby. The three have started a drooling league together. They gossip about the latest advances in baby-bottom technology, swap recipes (formula v. nursing), share tricks for parental sleep deprivation, and discover new body parts. This week, they're working on toes.

Michael's growth is prodigious (5 percent per week). If it continues at that geometric rate, he will tip the scales at a ton by the age of two and exceed the mass of the earth before college. Michael has raced past 15 pounds at 2 1/2 months and was 21 pounds at 6 months. We are thinking of skipping pre-school and sending him directly to sumo wrestling camp.

By six months of age, instinct had taught Michael to rise on his knees in wonderment with his back arched and legs tucked forward. He would pose there, teetering in frustration, coordination having outrun experience. Then he would lunge forwards, chin first, sprawling and bawling. We marvel at the inefficiencies of development and have padded the floor of the family room. He would scrape himself up, burble purposefully with Ba's, Da's, Ta's, Ga's and Goo's, and then steel himself for another head-first lunge.

One day, he figured it out and started crawling forward productively, an intentional child in a hurry to explore an entire world. We love being parents, but Michael's unmixed fearlessness leaves us conflicted. He has no sense of constraints as he bends the world to fit his needs: no limits to the possibilities but no common sense either. Michael has a lot to teach us about parenting.

David's brother lives nearby, so his twins get together with Michael frequently. They have invented several novel uses for Gerber's glop. Ben likes applying it to his shirt and surroundings while Jamie prefers shampooing in it. Michael believes that a good meal must be heard to be enjoyed. We go through a lot of Q-Tips cleaning him up.

We cannot IMAGINE what we did with all that time we MUST have had before we had chilren.