Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009: Baby C's Year in Pictures


We celebrated New Year's Day by finally breaking down and giving Baby C some "real" food. He started with sweet potatoes and LOVED them!


Baby C brought home his first art project - a "Butt"erfly


Our first visit to the playground. Baby C loved the swings!


Celebrating Opening Day for the greatest baseball team on Earth - the New York Yankees.


Baby C's first school picture really didn't go so well.


This month deserves a few extra pics because our trip to Jersey was so awesome!

First plane ride

First taste of Two Tony's Pizza

The new Cathedral


Hmm, July was right after our camera quit working, so the best I can do is this picture of Baby C and his buddy Logan at our first toddler birthday party.


We celebrated Baby C's first birthday! His favorite present was his red wagon.


Baby C got his first haircut in September. It was just a trim, but it didn't go very well.


This picture is a reminder of Baby C's first pumpkin patch excursion AND his first bee sting. Boy, did that suck.


Anxiously awaiting Mo to lead the Yankees to a World Series Championship (this was when I was nerdily re-watching the game the next day - postseason games are unfortunately way past his bedtime).


Christmas, of course!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm not angry at god

Apparently someone misunderstands my lack of religious orientation with an anger at their own god. I'm not angry at god. How could I possibly be angry at an entity if I don't even know for sure that it exists?

I don't understand the disrespect that I get from other people in my life who take my viewpoint as an attack on their own. I never start the conversation, I actually don't bring it up at all. I certainly never try to push my own views on others who are strong in their faith. I don't judge people who are faithful to a religion (in fact, I envy them at times, but that's another post). So why the judgment towards me? Why assume that just because I don't attend a christian church or subscribe to christian beliefs that it means I'm "angry at god?" Why not just accept the fact that I don't have the same beliefs as you? I wonder, if I was jewish or muslim rather than agnostic, would they still make the same comments? Would they still try to convince me that I'm "following the wrong path?"

Why is it that people feel as though they have the right to question and criticize those of us who don't claim a specific religion as our own? It drives me crazy that people actually think they can change someone's personal beliefs. What goes on in my own head and how my spiritualism operated is no one's business but my own.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve Tradition

C always talked about the book that his parents read from every Christmas Eve when he was growing up. It's called The Tall Book of Christmas.

His favorite story in the book was called "Giant Grummer's Christmas." It's about a giant who lives in a castle made of Limburger cheese. Last year I managed to track down a copy and surprised him with it on Christmas Eve. I wanted him to be able to carry on that tradition with his own family. It's nice to have that sense of continuity and tradition.

What a difference a year makes!

Yes, I know this is a book with some serious religious undertones, but I do like the story about Giant Grummer and the one about cats who have sparkly mittens. Since it's a book of short stories it's not like we have to read the whole thing, anyway. We can pick and choose what parts to incorporate in our yearly tradition (hmmm, that sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?).

It's good to be home

Sometimes it takes a few nights away from my own bed in my own house to remember how great it is to be at home with my family (and my cat!). Christmas has come and gone. It was exhausting, mostly because poor Baby C barely slept at all. He was a cranky mess the whole way up and most of the way back. Cleveland is only about 3.5 hours away, but oh my god it feels like so much longer when there's a screeching toddler in the backseat!

His christmas present to me was not going to bed until past 11 on Christmas Eve and then waking up at 5:00 on Christmas morning. Holy hell was it a long day after that. He wasn't even excited for presents! I had to keep him quiet until a reasonable hour so we didn't wake up the entire house. I think he enjoyed his visit with a few of his grandparents and an aunt, uncle, and cousin. They played well alongside each other. That's what the holidays are all about, anyway.

It was an interesting Christmas for me, because I had already gotten my presents. I'm taking a photography class in the spring, but had to sign up for it ahead of time so C couldn't exactly surprise me with it. I knew I wasn't going to have anything to open on Christmas morning and it didn't bother me in the least. I was so excited to give C the presents I had picked out for him! He was pleasantly surprised in the video game and paintball bag I picked out for him. It was even more fun to watch Baby C enjoy his Christmas morning, even though he had very little interest in unwrapping his stuff.

We saved his kitchen set and accessories to give to him today once we were back at home. Figures that as he's receiving his last present of the season it finally "clicks" that he's supposed to tear into the paper. Oh well, hopefully he'll remember his new skill when his birthday rolls around.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus!

Let's try to be civil as we air our grievances today. I'm hoping for a Festivus miracle in the form of being allowed to leave work early so I can get ready for our trip to the land of Cleve tomorrow morning. What's left to do? Oh, nothing much - just make bread, cinnamon buns, mashed potatoes, lasagna, green beans, pack the bags, and pack the car. I'm replacing my feat of strength with a feat of cooking.

See you around the Festivus Pole!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Wisdom of Gramma

Her sage advice for dealing with the holidays:

Bite your tongue and count to 10. Twenty, if you have to.

Love you, Gramma!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Christmas Letter

Dear Family & Friends,

We sincerely hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. We’ve had a very busy year in our house!

Charlie started his own company in the spring, and it quickly jumped to the top of the Fortune 500. Everyone from NASA to GE is banging down the door for engineered parts. He completed work on the bathroom. The labor-intensive 3-year project caught the attention of Better Homes and Gardens. Unfortunately, the camera crew got lost on the way to photograph the masterpiece, so you won’t be seeing us gracing the cover of the magazine anytime soon.

Jené still maintains her Pulitzer-Prize winning blog. Although her “Joba in the Bullpen” theory was validated when the Yankees returned the World Series Championship to the Bronx in October, she has elected to stay in market research rather than replace Brian Cashman as the GM. She still acts as a consultant for ESPN through near-weekly random emails to Mike & Mike. She regrettably was not involved with the egging of Brian Kelly’s house, but sure wishes she was! (We all hope that he enjoys watching the Bearcats win the Sugar Bowl from the comfort of his egg-covered house – it’s the closest he’ll ever get to a BCS title)

Baby Charlie is a rising star – he’s top of his class in paste-eating and food-throwing. He consistently leads the pack in number of daily nose wipes. He has been offered early admission to both MIT and Harvard, but we’re still holding out for his Hogwart’s Letter, which we expect to arrive sometime around his 10th birthday. We will start training him for a back-up career in engineering once he masters block stacking. He is currently training for a 5K tricycle marathon and is certainly destined for Mensa.

Einstein was invited to participate as a judge in the Thanksgiving Day Dog Show. He declined their offer, preferring to spend the holiday up to his usual cat tricks which include taking up all the room on the couch, leaving hair on every imaginable surface, and eating the Christmas tree. He and Baby Charlie have become good friends, and his current favorite spot is under the high chair where he waits for scraps of food to fall from above.

All the best from our family to yours,

Charlie, Jené, and Baby Charlie

Friday, December 18, 2009

White Wine in the Sun

I'm a big fan of Tim Minchin. He has such a biting sense of humor. I'm in love with this "holiday song" right now. It's different from most of his other material, and it pretty much sums up how I look at the holiday season from an agnostic standpoint, as a celebration of family. Absolutely makes me tear up at the end.

I'm looking forward to Christmas
It's sentimental I know
But I just really like it

I am hardly religious
I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu
To be honest

And yes I have all of the usual objections to consumerism
To the commercialisation of an ancient religion
And the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I'm looking forward to Christmas
Though I'm not expecting
A visit from Jesus

I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don't go in for ancient wisdom
I dont believe just cos ideas are tenacious
It means they are worthy

I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
But the lyrics are dodgy

And yes I have all of the usual objections to the miseducation
Of children who in tax-exempt institutions and taught to externalise blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right or wrong
But I quite like the songs

I'm not expecting big presents
Ye olde combination of socks, jocks and chocolate
Is just fine by me

Cos I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you my baby girl
My jet-lagged infant daughter
You'll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a petting zoo

And you won't understand
But you will learn some day
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people
Who'll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if my baby girl
When you're twenty one or thirty one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself 9000 miles from home

You’ll know whatever comes
Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun

Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters
Your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins
And me and your mum.

Will be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling when Christmas comes

We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun

Waiting for you

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Man, oh man are we right in the freaking thick of it. I know what it's like to feel frustrated and want to bang my head against the floor. Thankfully, as an adult I've learned that this isn't the best course of action. Oh, how I wish I could teach the same lesson to my poor toddler.

The massive meltdowns gently referred to as "temper tanrtums" really just started a few weeks ago. Now that I think about it, "tantrum" doesn't really seem to be a strong enough word to describe the phenomenon. I prefer "shrieking hissy fit." Just seems to fit better, conjures up the right kind of imagery.

He'll be playing along just fine, when all of a sudden something doesn't go his way and the world has to know about it. It's hard not to laugh sometimes, especially when the offending action is that he pushes his toy into the wall and instead of backing up and turning around he just sits down and screams at the top of his lungs. Hard not to laugh at the absurdity, and hard not to pull my own hair out at the sound of his shrieking.

Apparently this is a skill they're also working on at daycare, so I'm glad to have an ally. I've also taken to doing what any good mother would do when their toddler is throwing a fit - grabbing the camera.

Here's Baby C in all of his hissy fit glory!

Hmm, I wonder how my co-workers would react if instead of responding to an unreasonable request with restrained irritation I threw myself on the floor and started kicking and screaming? Might have to experiment with that one :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

church on christmas

We spent Saturday afternoon visiting with one of C's friends - an ex-army ranger - watching the Army/Navy football game. Military life has never interested me, aside from a very brief consideration of the Air Force toward the end of high school when those looming tuition bills seemed pretty unmanageable. Even then, to me it would have just been a way to get through school. For others it's a complete way of life, and I admire people who can make and follow through with that kind of selfless commitment. Anyway, while we were watching Army get their asses handed to them, P started regaling us with tales of training and Army life - the traditions and stories, the camaraderie, all the good stuff. I commented that the military and religion were similar in my mind - full of rich tradition and wonderful rituals, but not my cup of tea.

Growing up, there were few things more beautiful than Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to experience it yourself, it's usually an elaborate candlelit service - dark and quiet at first, usually opening with a soloist singing Silent Night, and then joyous and celebratory by the closing. The beauty of this particular service makes it easy to forget that christmas isn't the premier holy day for Catholics. I suppose you could say that's one of the things I miss about organized religion - the tradition and ritual. I don't remember it changing much - same readings, same songs, same stand-up/sit-down/kneel routine, same friends and family. When we were kids we would rush out excitedly after the mass had ended and we were instructed to "go in peace," knowing that santa would be arriving shortly after we returned home and were in bed sleeping (I guess the consumerism of today isn't so "new," after all!). Eventually, after the magic of Santa wore off, our family adopted a new tradition of opening gifts at home after midnight mass. As we grew even older, and our family had been torn apart and crookedly taped back together, the ritual remained the same but our reactions were different - the atmosphere became much more somber. A response to what we had lost, perhaps?

Even after I realized that organized religion wasn't "my thing," and that I didn't subscribe to christian beliefs, I still continued to go for a while - there was always someone to go "for." I went for my grandma, I went for my mother, I went for my mother-in-law. As an agnostic I can still appreciate the ritual. I miss it every christmas - not the religious and scriptural aspect of it, but the tradition and predictability.

Who knows, maybe one year I'll sneak into the back pew, just for old times' sake.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sad Day in Bearcat Country

After a solid week of wondering, the UC Bearcat football coach announced last night that he would be leaving for Notre Dame. As promised, he shared the news privately with his team before allowing the media to make the formal announcement.

Oh, wait - no he didn't. The star quarterback of the miracle cats heard the news not from the coach himself, but from a reporter. The South Bend media was breaking the story as I was driving home at 4:30, a full 90 minutes before the official announcement was to come. Add it to the list of lies he told his players, who defended their coach last weekend after the big Pitt victory while the media hounded him for answers. BK took these kids to a level never expected from the lowly UC Football Bearcats. He encouraged them to follow their dreams, to play all four quarters. Then he deserted them only weeks away from the biggest game of their lives.

It's a system issue, really, that allows coaches to break contracts and leave their teams before the big games are even played. Nothing can be done about it now except bitch and moan about the disrespect that he showed his players. I get that no one could be expected to walk away from that sum of money, but have some freaking decency and at least go about it the right way. Be a professional. Don't tell these kids that you're not leaving, that you'll be there to coach them through the bowl game, and then walk away.

Luckily last night was also our company christmas party so we were all able to commiserate together. TG for open bars.

EDIT: Because a true sports reporter can explain better that I can, here's Scott Springer's take on the matter.

I also really enjoyed this article, if only for the opening paragraphs:

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach, Brian Kelly, is leaving his team for dead and instead joining the sinking ship of Notre Dame. It was announced this week that the 47-year old Kelly has signed a five year deal to be the new head coach of the Fighting Irish and has accepted the auspicious duty of resurrecting a sinking ship that Charlie Weis steered straight in to the depths of hell. The news hasn’t exactly stunned people, because we all saw it coming. What’s appalling about the whole deal is the timing.

After what people are calling an “extensive search”, Notre Dame had found its man and went right after him. In reality, the search for a new coach for ND lasted all of two freaking weeks and the boosters in South Bend were so intent on nabbing their man, that they couldn’t’ even wait until the bowl series had been played. It’s bad enough that Notre Dame’s season was ruined by a 6-6 SU record. Now they’ve had to go and ruin one of the best stories in college football.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wish List Wednesday - GEEK VERSION!

As always, brought to you by The Foster Family, and as usual, a day late.

This week's topic is geeky things! I love geeky things. Between me and Charlie we're already on our way to geekdom, but it could go oh, so much farther.

This pi dish has been on my list for a long time.

I found myself wishing yet again that I had this piece when I was searching for a pie plate for my cranberry apple thanksgiving pie.

I also love this Evolvem - it's a stuffed animal that transforms to evolve from a fish to a dino. Pretty sweet!

Can you imagine Baby C bringing that conversation piece with him to daycare?

Then there are these Star Wars stuffed animals:

How can you go wrong with a cuddly R2D2?

Finally, the Super Mario Chess Set:

I love the Koopa Troopa shells as pawns. There's also a NES Monopoly that would be pretty awesome to play, too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

16 months and 1 day

That's how long we made it before Baby C threw up. Seriously, he's never thrown up before. Not once. He made up for it in a spectacular way sometime last night. We opened the door to wake him up this morning and were just about knocked over by the horrific smell emanating from his room. I initially thought it might be the worst diaper ever. I was wrong, it was worse that the worst diaper ever. When I looked inside the crib I thought I was going to throw up, myself.

It was everywhere. All over the sheet, both blanket, his pajamas, his stuffed kitty - it was like he had thrown up the entire contents of his stomach. Much of it was recognizable, which is gross on it's own, but even grosser when I realize that probably means that he threw up pretty soon after dinner, before it was completely digested. Poor kid must have slept in it for hours. He never woke up, never cried, never made a sound. I feel awful about it, but how could I have known?

I've never handled puke well, it always makes me want to puke. It's a vicious cycle, for real. So I gagged my way through cleaning up the chunky parts, stripping the bed, spraying the mess down with spray-and-wash, and getting it in the washer. All at 6:30 in the morning. C handled the bath, I brushed his teeth, and a few bunny crackers later, all was well. He didn't cry or whine throughout the whole ordeal, and was actually quite jovial when we went in there this morning. I don't think I would have been quite so perky if I had spent the night laying in a puddle of puke.

Just add that to the list of things that count towards my induction into Parenthood.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Vital Skillz

As a parent I'm responsible for teaching Baby C some skills. Most of the skills that we need for surviving in society are obvious - potty training, self-feeding, getting dressed, talking, etc. I realized this weekend that there's a vital skill that's seriously overlooked in the parenting literature. Nose blowing.

Baby C has had a cold since late Thursday night. His nose is running like a freaking faucet and he's been snotting ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE. He has streaks on his sleeves, I have streaks on my shoulder, the couch is covered in snot... I'm surprised that he hasn't tried to wipe his nose on the cat.

How the heck do you teach a toddler to blow his nose? He would be so much more comfortable if he could just get the snot out of there. I keep putting the cloth up to his nose to wipe it, and every time I hope that he just happens to exhale at that perfect moment and it will just "click." Instead I just get whatever nastiness I was able to swipe off the outer edge, and then a minute later I see him blowing snot bubbles again. Ew. It's just not right.

There are books and instructional videos for every other skill out there. Why not nose blowing?

I guess this is just payback from when I wiped my nose on my aunt's arm when I was little.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The BIG Question

It seemed easy enough when we started talking about how we were going to raise the Minion. Being agnostic I planned on exposing him to as many different ideas as possible and allowing him to make his own educated decision at an appropriate age. Simple enough, right?

Not so much. In the intro to sociology classes that I teach, religion is the easiest way to teach about the functionalist perspective. What purpose does religion serve in society? One of the main things that religion does for a given culture is to explain natural phenomenon. Think about common mythology - why do droughts occur? Because the rain god(s) haven't been honored properly. Why does the sun rise and set? At the will of the gods. Obviously, we're now able to answer these questions from a scientific standpoint, but there are still questions that we're unable to answer.

The question I'm most concerned about coming up down the road is "what happens when you die?" Every child asks that at some point or another. I remember when I first became concerned about this issue - I was 7 when my Nana died. She had a stroke right in front of us while we were visiting for lunch. I don't remember if she died right away, or if she died later on after spending some time in the hospital. I didn't go to her funeral, but that was the first time that I can remember being afraid of dying and wondering where Nana went afterward. I still remember laying in bed unable to sleep because I was so anxious about it (an early symptom of OCD, no doubt), and one night finally going downstairs to ask my parents about it. As I've mentioned before, I was raised Catholic, so I got the Heaven talk. My grandfather died when my mom was a kid, and I used to look at the holes in the clouds and wondering if he was "up there." I remember not being quite satisfied with that explanation, even at that age. As an agnostic parent I don't have those stories at my disposal, anyway.

C, K, M, and I were doing a little bit of wine drinking last Friday, and the topic of death and afterlife came up. As I mentioned in an earlier post, M is an atheist and K is agnostic. M doesn't think anything happens to you when you die, that it's just over. He is ok with this, and says that this is why you need to live your life to its fullest. You only get one chance to be here, a finite time to be a "being."

I take a different stance on the issue - I don't know what happens to you when you die. We have no way of knowing that until we experience it (or don't experience it, as M would say). Do I like to think that there's something else after our lives are over? Of course! I like to believe that there's something "on the other side," as it's so often put, but I don't know that for sure. As an adult, I've come to terms with that, even though my OCD manifests itself partly in serious anxiety over aging and death. The idea of there being nothing on the other side terrifies me. But for a young child, who has no perspective or experience to draw on, it just seems so callous to me to say "We don't know." It seems like there should be a better option to make it seem not as scary.

I've been planning to purchase the book Parenting Beyond Belief. It's been on my list of things to do for quite some time now. It's always recommended by the other agnostic parents on the parenting board I frequent. I've read excerpts from it and I follow the blog, so I'm looking forward to finally sitting down and reading about other parents who have similar views on religion. As always, I'm open to other suggestions, as well :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Interesting Thingamababy Post

I follow this dad-blog and thought yesterday's post was pretty interesting - The role of fathers in American society.

As a sociologist by training, I've read plenty of articles and books about the de-valuing of carework in our society (see daycare rant here), but I've never considered the possibility that it's a de-valuing of children in our society. Just a different perspective, especially this sentence: "Sorry to go overboard, but when looking at America in the big picture, I don’t think families are valued much except by other families that contain non-adult children."

Agnostic Parenting

I consider myself to be agnostic. I know that there are many others out there who also identify themselves as such, but I don't know many other agnostic parents in real life. I often find myself wishing that I had more people around me who felt/believed in a similar manner. I'm lucky enough to have found one other agnostic mommy-friend, and we've been talking about taking our children to a Universalist church. I hope we can get our butts in gear and make it over there sometime. While I don't subscribe to any one religion, and we're not planning to raise Baby C in accordance with any rules, I do think it's important for him to be exposed to all of the possibilities. I want him to understand what religion is, what it means, and what it stands for. I want him to know that it's ok for different people to believe different things, and that it's also ok if he doesn't want to believe in anything at all. If he chooses to follow a religious path then I want him to do it out of knowledge and education, rather than out of convention. I believe that it's an adult choice that should be made with an adult mindset.

So why does it matter? Why am I telling you all of this? Well, in addition to my agnostic mommy-friend, there's another couple we're friends with who don't have children yet. The husband (M) is an atheist and the wife (K, same K who's in my book club) is agnostic. A recent conversation between the four of us spurred me to start a list of blog posts I'd like to write on the topic of religion. So that's the background, that's what I am. I wanted to share that information up front so that things I say from here on out will have some context.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

AW! I'm the December Mom of the Month

Check out my post on the Nicki's Diapers blog :)

While you're there, check out the Cloth Diaper Clearance site. I scored a few Haute Pockets for $11 each. Can't wait to try them!

My Child is a Biter

Well, not really, it's only happened once. Apparently he bit one of the other kids in daycare yesterday. They don't tell you who the "victim" was, but they did tell me that it wasn't my co-worker's kid. How awkward would that have been?

I'm guessing he did it because he was tired and cranky. He's been sleeping in until 8:30 for the last four days, while we were on vacation. I know that I had a pretty hard time getting out of bed to go to work, so I imagine he's feeling about the same way. He had a complete meltdown later in the evening. (Is it awful that I snapped a picture while he screamed? I couldn't help myself, you can almost feel the patheticness of his situation)

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He's never bitten anyone but me, so I'm hoping that this was a very isolated incident. At least it was someone his own age, and not one of the smaller ones.

I feel awful that my kid is "the biter" :(


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