Monday, December 31, 2012

Baby's First iphone

LB has been taking some important calls as of late, using our Christmas card box.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Asked and Answered: Preeclampsia and Preemie Birth While on Magnesium Sulfate (with a little rant about why you shouldn't trust anyone who says that the Brewer's Diet will prevent or cure preeclampsia)!

Most of the search engine searches that bring people to this site are related to preeclampsia and giving birth on magnesium sulfate.  Below are a few of the search terms that have brought people here, and my responses (with the caveat that I have absolutely no medical training, and even if I did I wouldn't be giving people advice over the internets).  One good place to go for information about preeclampsia is the Preeclampsia Foundation site here, where they also have discussion forums where you can post questions.  The Preeclampsia and Related Conditions site here on BabyCenter can be a mixed bag in terms of advice, but it is generally a nice, supportive group of women.

what does magnesium sulfate feel like
I described my personal experience here.  Other women reported varied experiences.  Overall the first half hour tends to be rough, most people feel incredibly hot and incredibly nauseated.  How you feel after that initial dose of mag depends on how your body reacts, and probably whether or not you are receiving pain meds (I was given a lot of morphine, which was heavenly).  Common symptoms women report are muscle weakness, vision problems (because your eye muscles are so weak), balance problems, and mental confusion.  These issues should clear up really quickly once you go off the mag.

do you have to take magnesium for preeclampsia
If you have severe preeclampsia, the answer is probably yes.  If you have mild or borderline preeclampsia maybe not.  If you have concerns about doing a mag delivery, definitely have a serious conversation with your provider and make sure your concerns are heard.  Your medical team should be able to give you a good explanation for why they think mag is necessary.  The reality is that you may not get the delivery you want, but you always have the right to be well informed.

feeling weak after mag sulfate
It is totally normal to feel really weak while on mag sulfate.  Once you are off the mag, the effects should wear off pretty quickly.  If you are still feeling weak after you are no longer on mag it could be due to a number of factors:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hot Cheetos and Takis

...just because the kids need to have their say (with apologies to Michelle Obama).

We are continuing our car free life, but now in a new city.  I've now surveyed the available food options.  Within walking distance we have

1) Small Indian grocery that is very close
      Pros: good food/reasonable prices, feel very safe as pedestrian with baby
     Cons: limited selection

2) Whole Foods about a mile away
      Pros: good quality, sell foods we can't get elsewhere, some good sales
     Cons: higher prices overall, temptation to impulse buy, B says "it sucks and the checkers are unfriendly"

3) Stop and Shop about 1.5 miles
      Pros: lower prices, wide variety of foods
      Cons: pedestrian death trap, cannot take baby if walking

4) A local independent grocery about 2 miles
      Pros: Decent prices, awesome selection
      Cons: distance

5) Farmer's markets, both winter and summer less than a mile away
        Pros: Good fresh food, local growers and purveyors
        Cons: Expensive (and I hate to say it because I know some farmers and I know they aren't getting rich, and temptation to impulse buy

Not too shabby, but as usual there are a few issues.  Distance is the big issue.  A mile really isn't too far, but a mile to get a bunch of bananas seems a little ridiculous.  The Whole Foods is in the same direction as daycare, so I can swing over when I'm headed to get LB, but the walk is along a terrible road of "the greatest hits of American decline," which includes an old-school closed Sears, a closed furniture showroom, some pawn shops, auto supply stores, and some sketchy looking medical office buildings.  There are rarely any pedestrians, and so people drive with no regard for pedestrians.  Even the Whole Foods has no sidewalks leading into the parking lot (fake hippies!).  By the time I get to the store, I'm always in a foul mood.

The other big no-car issue is only being able to buy what you can carry, which limits how much we can stock up when things are on sale.  I'm big on the pantry principle, which I learned from the Christian lady bloggers, but it's hard to buy 6 months of lentils plus weeks worth of fresh food if you need to stuff it all in a backpack.  Fresh food tends to be particularly heavy and bulky.  We can, and do sometimes, get a zipcar, or we could take a cab home, but those costs definitely negate some of the savings of careful shopping.

During my first year away from home, I lived a short walk from the Boston Food Coop, which had the perfect mix of walkability, high quality natural food, and low prices.  That was over twenty years ago and I'm still spoiled.  Once I've finished all this Christmas candy, I'm going to drown my sorrows in some red hots.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Post-Sandy Hook Letter to My Congressmen


Dear Congressman [name],

In response to the recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, I am writing to ask you to support increased restrictions on gun ownership—particularly high capacity weapons and ammunition, and increased federal funding to support public health efforts to reduce gun violence.

I am ashamed that it has taken me so long to write this letter.  In the aftermath of Sandy Hook, I have tried to reconstruct a list of people I know who have been killed or injured by guns.  This is a partial list: a young woman shot by her former boyfriend on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston in 1990, a friend who survived a violent crime perpetrated by a 15-year-old gunman, a death by suicide at the University where I was a student, a seemingly random shooting of a graduate student at that same University, a co-worker who was murdered in Baltimore in 2011.  As someone who has lived in Chicago and Baltimore and worked with children, I know many children who have lost a relative or friend to gun violence.  Twenty-four Chicago Public School students were murdered with guns during the last school year.  319 were shot and injured.  Those children bear more than their share of suffering, often without the comfort of grief counseling.

As the mother of a young child, my beloved [LB], I am horrified by the loss of life at Sandy Hook, by the deaths of children in a place that should be safe and nurturing.  I also realize that many more children die, many more people die, by guns wielded by their own family members, or by guns that are a byproduct of narco-trafficking in the United States.  I realize that I have become numb to this violence.  I have accepted life in a violent society, rather than fighting against it.  I should have sent this letter years ago, because I know the sorrow that gun violence causes for children, for parents, for people.

Galen Gibson, who was killed in the school shooting at Simon’s Rock in 1992, was the friend of a friend although we never met.  An editorial written by Galen’s father, Gregory, appeared in the New York Times on December 14.  Mr. Gibson came to the devastating conclusion, after years of public advocacy on issues of gun violence, that we, as Americans, lack the will to change our gun culture and its deadly consequences.

I hope that we will be able to prove Mr. Gibson wrong.  I hope that the Sandy Hook murders can become our Dunblane, our Port Arthur, leading to significant changes in our gun laws.  As we move forward, we will need to address significant constitutional issues.  I personally believe that the founders intended for the American citizenry to have access to firearms to provide a check on illegitimate use of government power, and restricting this right is not something I take lightly. However, none of the gun deaths or injuries that have touched my life were perpetrated for a reasoned political cause.  While the founders saw armed resistance as the final fall back for an oppressed people, they sought first to promote the peace among us, to create a nation that valued toleration.  The Declaration of Independence calls for a government designed to “effect their safety and happiness.”  Today, we have neither. 

As you seek legislative solutions to the problem of gun violence, please tell me how I can be of assistance.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Early Christmas

Over the past month, LB has fallen in love with Elmo, learned to dunk, and met a beaver (stuffed).  The Elmo love is a mixed blessing.  Finally, we can use the advice everyone has given us about playing videos during nebulizer treatments.  Downside: that means 30 minutes broken into 2 minute increments of Feist singing "1, 2, 3, 4," Katy Perry singing "Hot and Cold," and India Arie singing "The Alphabet Song."  We've also had quite a bit of whining for Elmo, although that actually seems to have decreased now that she has her new stuffed Elmo-and a basketball hoop.  She was initially put off by the texture of Elmo and the Beaver.  We've noticed that LB hates soft, silky textures.  As desperately as she wanted Elmo it took her a few minutes to get over her dislike of his texture.  She also wasn't too sure about the beaver.  Initially she called the beaver "kitty cat,"and now even though she knows the word beaver, she likes to tease us by calling it a kitty cat.  Funny girl.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Prematurity Awareness Month

November is.  Obviously I think prematurity awareness is an important public health/science/cultural issue, but it's also a strange one, because it encompasses several very different strands of experience.  From a public health perspective one of the biggest and most potentially solvable issues is preventable near-term prematurity.  This includes babies born at 36, 37, or 38 weeks by induction or c-section because a doctor or pregnant woman thinks it's time.  Maybe the woman is feeling terribly uncomfortable, perhaps the doctor is seeing small signs that the woman or her baby are developing problems, or perhaps the doctor or woman want the delivery to happen within a particular timeframe.

 Babies who come even a week or two early can have health issues related to prematurity, these issues cost money and cause personal stress.  LB's three month NICU stay cost around $500,000, as best I could tell from the very confusing insurance forms, and even a short NICU stay costs a lot.  So it's a issue, but not one that I find particularly relevant to LB's experience as a very early, very small preemie.    It does irritate me when the issues surrounding preventable near-term preemies and unpreventable early preemies are conflated.  A chipper "Keep those babies in Mommy!" makes me want to snap back with a "really, I should have waited until I was dead?"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Redux

We were lucky enough to be hosted by a friend on her farm, which was lovely.  The pictures tell the story.



The Not-Turkey Roast (make mostly of gluten), recipe found here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours

This time last year

How to Quarantine with Preemie (without losing your mind)

Happy RSV Season (not)!

It is the season of illness and ick, and if you have recently brought a preemie home, or you are expecting a preemie, you are probably dealing with a doctor-recommended quarantine.  Keeping preemies home and away from people helps them stay healthy by limiting the number of germs to which they are exposed.  It's a simple solution, and it works, but it can drive a person crazy.

We only had to quarantine LB for one season (she also got Synagis shots to boost her immune system). She was a 29 weeker born in November and we quarantined until May.  Places LB went during those months: doctor's office (waited in an exam room rather than waiting room), courthouse (for our 2nd parent adoption hearing), and outside for a short walk.  You will note that list is very short.  People who visited LB: a few older family members, very brief visits from our co-workers, some quick hellos with neighbors.  People we avoided most strenuously: children and sick people.

So, what to do with an infant and a few months of your life?  I won't claim that B and I were always happy and gracious about being cooped up in the house, but we did manage to keep ourselves fairly sane.  My suggestions

  • Keep a loose schedule so that one day doesn't just slump into the next
  • Get some exercise, even if it's just stretching in the living room or walking baby around the block
  • Skype with friends and family
  • Make sure you (both of you, if there is a both) get some downtime each day, even if it just a half hour
  • Pretend you're having fun: do a puzzle, play a board game, watch a movie, anything outside of your usual routine
  • Listen to good music
  • Steal some time when baby is asleep, eat together, have desert, a glass of wine, or what have you
  • Have a dance party!  
  • Make a list of things others could do to help you (buy groceries, run errands, bring food), and when people ask what they can do to help, give them a few options from the lists 
  • Ignore anyone who tries to tell you that quarantine is paranoid or over protective
It's stressful to not only have a tiny preemie and never sleep, but also to be trapped in the house and rarely see other people.  I didn't always have a good attitude, but I tried to remember to be positive, and if I was feeling down, to put on some good music, make a cup of tea, and realize it would pass.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marriage: Love and Contracts

"Let me check my schedule." I think that's how our engagement began.

Married life over the past 24 hours has involved shifts taking care of an up-all-night sick toddler, cleaning up vomit, and administering nebulizers.  Thankfulness that I will not have to travel away from B or LB for the next ten days or so.  Appreciation of the cozy house.  Debates over likely outcomes of a Supreme Court decision on DOMA.  Coffee at 6:00am, dinner at 6:00pm.  A good and simple married life.

As a feminist and a hater of the wedding industrial complex, I never planned to marry and I've never been particularly invested in the social approval that comes with marriage.  Then when B and I had been together for five years or so, Maine put marriage on the ballot and we started thinking that a little civil marriage ceremony at the courthouse, with a few friends and family members, and a nice dinner afterward, might work for us.  And then the people voted down marriage equality in Maine.  And with that rejection, we became more invested in marriage.  We were living in Baltimore when gay marriage was approved in D.C., we decided to go for it, and since our schedules were clear that first day they were offering licenses, we thought we might as well hustle down on the train in case they suddenly changed the rules.

We were couple #81 (I think) on the first day that D.C. offered marriage licenses to same sex couples, and it was a fun and happy experience.  People were giving out cupcakes and flowers.  The couples waiting in line were a diverse group, men and women, elders and youths (including some who looked a little too young by my standards), people of many races and ethnicities, those in business formal and those in sweatsuits, people from the District, from Maryland, and from Virginia.  The line was long and slow, but spirits were high.  We married a few weeks later at the courthouse with our parents present and everyone cried.

Eight months later we had a baby (she was two and half months early if you're counting).  Our marriage was, in no small part, an effort to ensure all possible protections for that future child.  Marriage was a public declaration of our love for each other, and our responsibilities to each other, but we could have made those declarations privately.  I've never felt that our love for each other needed state sanction, or that I needed the state to tell me our relationship was legitimate, but the legal rights and responsibility provided by official recognition of our marriage have been very important.

I really admire legal theorists like Nancy Polikoff, who point out the structured inequality embedded in a system where marriage provides access to rights and benefits.  However, I don't think academics like Polikoff recognize the situation on the ground.  Marriage (if you can get one) is cheap and easy.  It provides protections to gay couples who lack the financial means or background in the law to cobble together those protections by other means.  I'm doubtful about the cultural good arguments for marriage-that marriage will solve all our social problems of poverty, crime, and whatever-but I do think that when you tell someone, say the clerk at the admitting desk in the hospital, that you are married, the word carries a cultural power that forces people to acknowledge your relationship even if they don't want to do so.

I'm curious to see where the fight for same-sex marriage will take us.  I hope it will help us create a country that is more inclusive and equitable to all, and not a world where singleness is vilified and marriage is exalted.  I fear that, as anti-marriage activists have said publicly, the next fight against same-sex marriage will be uglier, a return to the worst homophobic stereotypes and threats.  Either way, life at the cozy house marches on with our little piece of political embedded in the personal.

I'm writing this post for the Love Makes a Family Blog Carnival, which can be found here.

To go directly to the next post, click here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Birthday Girl

A big two year old who is self-actualized enough to refuse to smile for mama.

A few days after birth.
Red cheeks due to illness.

A serious one year old.

It all the Halloween, traveling, visitors, election madness, LB didn't even get a birthday post. However, she did get to spend her birthday with all four of her grandparents, as well as assorted well wishers.  She ate cupcakes and got cool presents.  It was great to have people over to the Cozy House and to enjoy the quotidian life of a two year old.

LB's original due date was January 18, but she came ten weeks early.  That gap consumed our lives for a long time.  I suppose LB's birthday will always be a time of reflection, a time when the word "miracle" gets used a lot.

As a two year old, LB loves puzzles and adult company.  Her nemesis is our old husky.  She has become increasingly territorial with other kids (good times).  She talks a lot, mostly single words with the occasional two-word phrase, and she understands so much.  She loves to play outside.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Autumnal Life

During our move, we suffered a mysterious loss of our camera cord, so I can still take pictures, but I can't get them off the camera.  Luckily I could take these pictures with B's iphone to prove that we are in fact in New England.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Gay Moment

The Mormon moment was a fizzle, not just because Mitt Romney lost, but because he couldn't actually talk to Americans about his Mormon identity and beliefs.  As Republican candidates go, I've seen worse than Romney.  I cringed every time he offered a policy solution that seemed to come right out of the Church ward, but I can't quite see Romney as the evildoer of the liberal imagination.  That said, as a married lesbian mom, I was really a one issue voter.

Instead, it is our moment, the gay moment.  Three gay marriage victories at the ballot box!  One successful fight against restricting the definition of marriage to a man and a woman!  Multiple victories for openly gay candidates!

I can't wait until this moment is history, until I have to explain to LB a time that she can't quite understand.  A time when we were unequal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our Morning in America

In 2008, I spent election eve nervous and excited.  Even if I didn't like Obama, he would be the best choice for a person in my situation, but I do like him.  B and I have often said in the past four years that he should be a little less JFK and a little more LBJ, but I think he is a good man and a smart man, and those thing count for a lot with me.

The morning after the 2008 election I had a dentist appointment.  I took the bus through Baltimore cursing my stupidity; why wasn't I home basking in the glow rather than hustling though the city.  The bus was full of the usual suspects, people down on their luck, and those who probably never had any luck.  But that day, the bus was also full of hope and joy and pride.  When I got on, three men jumped up to offer me a seat, I think, just because their mood was buoyant. Baltimore gave Obama 87.5% of the vote in 2008.  Looking around that bus, we all knew we had done it, we had done it together.

After that moment, I was struck by the sadness of the situation.  Poor people who would always be poor and sick people who would always be sick.  No one is coming to save Baltimore, and no one good and smart man can save that city.  And people will carry on, but their lives will be hard.  This is what our morning in America looks like.

Despite all that I'm proud to vote for a good, smart man, proud to vote for marriage equality, proud to live in this crazy, ridiculous, tough country.  Thankful that my girl was born on this day two years ago, and that we are both healthy and whole. Four more years and many, many more!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Our Sandy experience was uneventful in the extreme.  I'm thinking of those who are still in the middle of it.  Life without power gets old after the first 24, and I can't even speak to the stress of worrying over loved ones or losing a home.  I think the story of the NYU Medical Center evacuation (and here), which included an evacuation of their NICU, caught the attention of every preemie parent out there.

Many NICU parents (mothers?) feel intense guilt and lingering emotional distress from the experience.  I was the opposite of a calm and reasonable NICU parent in that I was high strung, angry, freaked out, terrified and generally difficult to deal with.  B was, as always, the good cop in that situation, and for every time that she talked me down she deserves an extra gold star.  But since LB came home, my NICU memories have faded.  Intellectually I know that was an incredibly hard time for me, but my memories are good.  When I think of the NICU now I remember cuddling a little LB, and our gentle routine of nights in the NICU, but all the fear and anger has faded.

One of my worst freak-outs was one night when I called to check on LB, and the phone in the Step-Down Unit rang and rang and no one picked up.  That had never happened before.  At the time, LB was generally very stable, but sometimes had bad blue episodes where she required significant help to get her heart rate back up.  The episodes were terrifying for us, made worse because they seem to freak out the nurses, who, no matter how often we warned them, always seemed shocked that LB could go from totally fine to really not good in an instant with no warning.  As the phone rang and rang, I could only imagine that LB had coded in the tiny Step-Down Unit with its one nurse.  I imagined a team working on LB, ignoring the ringing phone.  B said she would drive me back to the NICU, but then I was able to get through to the main unit.  But by then I was done, just hysterical and sick with worry.

Years before, I'd seen news the Katrina NICU evacuation and wondered at the horror of having your tiny baby shipped off to God-knows where, with limited communications lines.  While LB was in the NICU, I lived in fear of a winter storm like the one that had come the year before and shut down the city for at least a week.  Reading those stories about the NYU NICU brought back all those bad memories.  As a not super emotional person, that distress has been mostly generalized queasy feelings and snapishness.  I hope all those NICU parents are finding some relief and those babies are sleeping easy tonight.

This post brought to you by Prematurity Awareness Month!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


4:45am.  Lilith Fair mix on the PA system.  Starbucks in hand.  Just shorted the very nice taxi driver (just a little) because I can't do mental math at this hour.  This has been a long month-5 Wednesdays, 6 round trip flights.  Lots of broken sleep and a baby who always knows when I'm leaving.  To much time in anonymous spaces: southwest terminals, public transit, inexpensive hotels (as opposed to cheap motels).

What I'm not doing today: trick or treating with my ladies.

That isn't a true complaint, because we're still lucky, but just a statement of my complete discombobulation.  Hopefully a little girl will wear her dino costume without complaint and I'll get to see lots of pictures.  LB is saying more and more two word phrases.  She is a friendly girl and will say hi to the other parents at daycare and chatter to them about various things including her mama, her stroller (or "ride" she is so urban), and going bye-bye.  At home, she love to make various animals, real and stuffed, go night-night.  Her bear is okay with this game, but our little dog isn't so convinced.

[Dear lord, now they're playing some old Aimee Mann (90s not 80s) on the PA.]

Hungry Dino, who soon became Angry Dino.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


LB is in the midst of a modest language explosion, which is incredibly fun.  She knows she has a mama and a mommy, however, she calls us both mama and collectively we are the mamas.  This weekend my parents were visiting and she also called grandmom and granddad "mama."  LB definitely uses mama in several ways.  Mama refers to me and to B specifically, and even if she uses the same word, she knows exactly who she wants.  Mama also refers more generically to grown up or maybe grown up caregiver.  I know that she has called her old DCP "mama," but would also call her by her name.  LB can point out mamas and babies in books, which is pretty simple: mamas are big and babies are little.  It occurred to me when LB kept pointing at my dad and saying "mama!" that she doesn't have a language for men.

LB has a gramps and a granddad, and she also has a few friends she likes very much who are men, the man friend of her old DCP, the husband of her babysitter, and several neighbors.  But we have never talked about these people as a category.  If we knew these people through LB's friends, it would be natural that they would be "daddies" or "papas," but they are just a random assortment of people who happen to be men.  So, without meaning to, we seem to have realized the lesbian feminist separatist dream.  I'm sure Paul Ryan is choking on his communion wine as I admit publicly that my gayby has no language for men.  Without language, does a category of men exist for LB? Do men have any power in her world? I told B that it's probably time for us to head out for Wimmin's Land to keep this thing going.  Instead, being the hopelessly conventional types that we are, I expect that within the next month LB will know both "granddad" and "gramps" and all men will be some variation on those words.

LB in her new "boys" shoes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Liminal Space

It's Tuesday, so I must be in Baltimore.  I left the house at 4:30am, and as I was catching the bus up to work at 9:00am I realized I'd already been up for almost 5 hours.  So if nothing I write makes any sense, just keep that schedule in mind.  Getting up at 4 really sucks, and it disrupts B and LB as well.  By the time I get to Baltimore, I usually feel okay, but this is not so fun.

On the upside, I think all this coming and going is making LB much more aware of us.  She seems much more aware of the mamas, and wants to know where we are, and gets upset when we leave.  Not always fun, but so mature. 

Last week we, that is all of us at gate B19 in BWI, watched the debates.  It was an americana moment as we all worked together to figure out how to turn on the sound on the t.v.  Then there was an arriving honor flight (flights of WWII and Korean War Era veterans who fly to BWI to begin tours of D.C.). So the night was spent watching, clapping, watching, clapping, etc. 

Tonight (Wednesday) we are delayed again, waiting for our pilot.  So far I've seen one woman who refused to board her flight as the doors were closing because she lost her pillow.  She lost her pillow because she left it unattended while she went and got food.  Once she found the pillow, she didn't seem to understand why she couldn't get on her flight.  Then there was another unattended bag. 

I don't really mind airports, but my body feels so wrecked from the traveling, and poor sleep, and traveling.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Axes and Fisher Cats, Oh My!

Hell Month is over!  We are all living together under the same, very nice, roof.  Dogs and baby have been transported north, as has a house worth of stuff.  It's such a relief to be settled here, but I have also begun extreme commuting back to Baltimore or one or two days a week, and LB is picking up lots of nice new cold bugs.  Hell Month has been replaced by the mid-level stress that we like to call life.

Providence is a little different than Baltimore.  Sadly, there are fewer feral cats to meet on our walks.  I don't know that I've seen even one outside cat since we've been here.  On our first visit to the farmer's market we saw a man carrying an axe.  Admittedly, he was just taking it to get it sharpened, but still, I think there must be an ordinance against that in Baltimore.  The next day there was report of a fisher cat attack on the front page of the ProJo.  Basically, we're living in the country.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Horsey Set

When I went to pick June up from daycare, one of her friends? colleagues? fellow attendees? told me, "Daddy bought bananas and I petted the horsey."  Baltimore still has a few street peddlers who sell fruits and vegetables from horse-drawn carts.  Here they are called "Arabbers," which is pronounced with a hard A like A-rab-ers.  All the Arabbers I see are Black, but I assume the name is a holdover from a time when there were a lot of Syrian peddlers in the city.  Arabbers are definitely an interesting and unusual feature of Baltimore, although much of their produce usually looks rotten, and many people say their horses are poorly treated.  Some dogooder public health types did have the idea to work with Arabbers to try and address the food desert issue in the city.  But, the Arabbers were a little to independent to be amenable to that sort of control. 

I'm not going anywhere with this information, I just wanted to make sure that I remember this after we move.  And today I saw the Arabbers coming down the street and heard them singing their calls, which I still can't understand at all.

One week until we are all back together, and this is what we're up to.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Roy and Silo Broke Up

That's what I learned this weekend.  If you read a lot of children's book, or follow trends in book challenges (bans), or are a gay parent, you probably know that Roy and Silo are the two penguin dads of Tango in the picture book And Tango Makes Three.

Apparently, Silo abandoned Roy and took up with a lady penguin, who he has since left.  Roy joined a group of single male penguins.  When Tango reached maturity she also found a lady penguin to keep her company-one of a different penguin species.  So, should the author of Tango updated the book's notes to reflect these facts?  Can we tell kids a story about non-monogamous, bisexual, cross-speciesist penguins? And do they want that story?

At the conference where I learned about Roy and Silo, there was a strong anti-anthropomorphism sentiment. The problem wasn't so much characters that are human in animal skins-like Frances the badger, but those characters and books that blur the lines between human behavior and motivation and animal thought and motivation.  Watership Down got some strong condemnation, because apparently the author presented rabbit colonies as naturally patriarchal, while knowing full well that rabbits are actually matriarchal.  The problem being that those  patriarchal rabbits were made to seem natural and biologically determined.  The takeaway: simplifying nature to fit our own political and cultural projects is dishonest and does a disservice to child readers.

As gay parents navigating popular culture it's easy to get sucked into the normalcy trap.  If the choice is between complete silence about families like ours, or gay druggy satanist penguin families, we'll take the monogamous gay penguin book and love it.  We are normal people raising children in a culture that sometimes sees us as abnormal, unnatural, perverted, etc.  So shouldn't books about and for families like ours make us seem as natural/normal as possible?  The dangers of normalcy are many.  There is the social realism problem.  For examples, you should definitely click over and look at the Sweet Juniper blog, where the author has a series of posts tagged "terrifying Nixon Era children's literature."  I think the book I Wish Daddy Didn't Drink So Much is my favorite in the series.  It's not that I think alcoholism is necessarily an inappropriate topic for a kid's book, but rather that hyper-realistic problem book genre offends my aesthetic sensibilities.  Don't the children of alcoholics deserve lovely, lively, vibrant books?  Must the kids from "problem" family always have the dull books?  It seems like we should be able to have beautiful, cozy, charming, fantastical books about all kinds of families and all kinds of lives-even the lives of bisexual, non-monogamous penguins. 

I'm also uncomfortable embracing the status of a "privileged" minority.  Should all the gay family books be about middle-class, educated, white, married families like ours-because that makes us more palatable to the world?  I don't want "our books" to be limited to those that are a close approximation to idealized straight families, but I suppose LB doesn't really need to read Mommy Drinks a Bottle of Wine and Cries, While Mama Checks Out Hotties at the Club (not a true story, because our book would be titled Mommy and Mama Watch Grimm Together and Fall Asleep), or My Adoption Day! On Which Mommy Had to Pay a Large Amount of Money to Adopt My Ass Because the System Fucking Sucks.  But neither does she need to be confined to the gay version of Dick and Jane (and she could also do without that pathetic ending to the Harry Potter series).  A friend of mine is one mom in a two-mom family that is also racially mixed, and includes adoptive and foster children some of whom have disabilities.  She cannot find books that reflect their experience as a family, and likely if she did that book would focus only on their differentness.

One of the learned scholars at the conference where I learned about Roy and Silo made the point that the most important thing about children's literature is that it should be multiple and varied.  Kids should encounter a rich world of words and pictures.  We should be creative enough to offer our children a world of children's books that includes their usual and their unusual-and can find the beauty and excitement in any reality.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Put Your Baby to Work Day

Badger day 8/28 (over 1/4 of the way!)

We went on walks, went to the park, played in the sink, and cleaned the pack n' play.  LB is eating much better now that I am giving her less milk.  She's been going to sleep fairly easily, but she has terrible tantrums when she starts to get tired.

It's hard to believe that we thought she was so big in this picture.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Here Comes...

Badger countdown 5/28

Wednesday is my longest, most stressful day at work.  Thankfully aftercare worked out fine, with only the usual dramatics from LB.  Once I got home, LB and Skyped with B. and then LB went to bed.  Poor baby was so tired, she almost fell asleep on the bathroom floor and then on the changing pad.  She insisted on taking a Frances book and Harry the Dirty Dog to bed.

I was cleaning up when I realized that I needed to hustle it up because it's Wednesday on TLC.  Yeah, I watch.  Christian mega-families, tarted up little girls, white folks whose class shall not be named, if TLC puts it on, I will watch.  If you are a longtime T&T watch like I am, you've noticed the class commentary of the show.  Lots of shots of railroad tracks, modest home, and working class ephemera cut with shots of thousand dollar beauty dresses and extensive salon visits.  Add in the Duggars and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and you have a pretty clear class commentary.  For TLC, class is a series of good or bad choices.  Spent all your money on Cheetos, RedBull, and pageant dresses?  Well don't come crying to us when you need a new kidney!  I'd like to see a little info box pop up next to everyone who appears on a TLC show that explain whether they have insurance, how much they pay for it, and the total cost of their healthcare.  That would be useful information about what it means to be American at this moment.  But for now, I'm still watching (and eating microwaved hot dogs and spinach) and if that makes me part of the problem, I can live with that.

Tonight I'm not watching the DNC (although that was a great speech from Michelle last night), but if you want to go a little more highbrow, you should listen to this speech by Jim Foster in 1972.  It's the first gay rights speech given at a DNC

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Missing You

Badger countdown 4/28

The air here is like warm pudding, and my office was like a meat locker.  Who really cares, except that I feel like the air is too thick to breathe.  LB had a great day at daycare and was happy showing off at PT, but then she didn't get her dinner until after 6:30 and totally freaked out (like on the plane to Oregon), she couldn't get herself together and wouldn't eat until I finally pulled out the Saltines.  She was very upset when PT left, and has been very interested in saying "bye bye," and asking where people are.  I guess that is a baby's way of trying to figure out where Mommy is and when she is coming back.  Once she ate some crackers and blueberries, she felt better and we were able to move on to bath and multiple rounds of Harry the Dirty Dog.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"I am yours / You are mine"

Thanks to the  American labor movement, we had another day off today.  We started early again, and by 7:30 I was wondering what we were going to do all day.  We did the usual, walking dogs, time at the park, and exciting dog walk in the pouring rain.  Two people offered me umbrellas and one person offered a blanket, and of those offers only one had a "come closer lady because I really want to call DFYS on your damp ass" vibe.  We also spent some time looking at picture of Mommy and talking about Mommy.

Note that LB is putting a toy shark in the shape sorter

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"I like to see the sun rise/ See the love in my woman's eyes"

Badger countdown 2/28

We began at 5:45 a.m..  An early morning, but not a bad morning. 

I could try to pass this off as Montessori, but really it was just desperation.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

"With so much suffering today/Why do them any other way?"

Pigtails (please ignore the poor composition of this photo)
So says Frances the Badger regarding hard-boiled eggs.

We had such a Baltimore moment last night.  I heard a helicopter, and then someone in the helicopter speaking though the public address system, so like any red-blooded American, I stuck my head out the door to see if the Revolution had indeed begun.  I'm sure "Bomb Baltimore Back to the Stone Age" could only gain voters at the RNC, but I digress.  The helicopter was police and the person making the announcement was calling out two names and telling them to "CALL HOME IMMEDIATELY."  Do they do that in LA?  Somehow I can't imagine police in any other city getting into a helicopter to tell Jimmy "For God's sake, call your mother, she's worried sick."

Aerial policing is disturbing for many reasons that are above the pay grade of this blog, but here in Baltimore it also seems like a poor financial and logistical choice.  This city is small, with endless cover, narrow streets, and  a lush canopy of foliage.  I guess I should be thankful that the powers that be aren't deciding to blanket us with a layer of Agent Orange for better policing.  In any case, I hope Darell is safe tonight and has called home.  (No Amber Alert, and no local news coverage, so I'm thinking it wasn't anything too serious).

Today is day 1/28 until our little family is reunited in Providence.  I'm thinking of B. and hoping the days pass quickly.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A VOTE FOR Question 6 is a VOTE FOR Marriage Equality

I sat down to watch the Republican National Convention tonight, but it's just Antiques Roadshow reruns-disappointing but much better for my blood pressure.  I've been musing lately about how hard it must be to be a Log Cabin Republican right now, but at least they can still party.

In local news, Maryland has finalized the language for Question 6: "The Civil Marriage Protection Act."  The language of the Act reads:

"Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs."

Rather than voting Yes or No on 6, Marylanders will be voting For or Against-tricky.  So far, public discussion has seemed muted.  I haven't seen any television ads or heard any radio ads.  I don't know if that silence is due to a lack of money, or if it's strategy.  It could be that money is harder to come by during a presidential election year, but you would think people would still have plenty of money to throw at a gay marriage vote.  Maybe the anti side is hoping people will vote without thinking too hard, and the pro side is trying to run a quiet grassroots campaign that won't rally the other side.  

Marylanders for Marriage Equality still seems to be running a smart, interesting campaign.  Check out this video to see a bunch of Marylanders supporting marriage.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"AIn't Nobody Feelin' No Pain"

In the midst of moving craziness, we're trying to have some family time and prepare for a month of on and off separation.  Some stuff has been moved to the new rental, which is lovely, but I'll miss the retro elements of our current place.  However, the new place has some very nice feature: a fenced backyard that doesn't involve climbing down a rickety flight of metal stairs, a big bedroom for LB, and a guest room and bathroom on the first floor (we are hoping to have lots of guests).

 This weekend has involved a lot of work, some homemade green enchiladas (I realized I had already packed the Cuisinart, which was a problem, but managed to an old-school applesauce mill to make the enchilada sauce.  Good to know I'll be able to make both applesauce and enchilada sauce during the Apocalypse.), and this morning we'll have pancakes and bacon.  I've been making LB listen to "Marakess Express" and "Luckenbach, Texas" on heavy rotation, I'm not quite sure why, but she seems to be into it.  B. and I realized too late that we probably should have gotten a babysitter so we could go out together this weekend, but I guess we'll wait another month.
Big Shoes

Hanging out in a box.
New Kitchen
New Bedroom
New Nursery 
Getting in some quality Baltimore stoop-sitting.