Here & There

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I can’t explain why this is my favorite picture of the moment, but it is.

Why should I write only when I have thoughtfully crafted things to say? Rubbish! Down with coherence and up with rambling!

JOYFUL THINGS

  • This summer we’ve started taking family showers (we have a good size one with a door) and I’m in love. It’s immensely practical as all four of us have to get a shower in before bed (the boys and I spend much of our day outside and my wife usually takes the boys outside to play after dinner which involves lots of yucky bug spray) and doing the boys together and each of us separately takes some time. It also allows the boys to splash and throw water and be as messy as they please bc it’s a shower, the water stays right where it belongs. As the Monk has gotten more exuberant, bathing was becoming a real splash fest and as much as I wanted to be cool with it, it was driving me crazy. Now we just haul all of our cups and bottles and ducks in with us and everyone is happy. Happy and cute.
  • My wife and I are running off to New York to get married next month!!! Yahoo!!! The boys will be staying with Muzzie and Grandpa and we are going to make this thing as official as it’s possible to be.
  • After not participating in National Novel Writing Month for two years, I’m dipping my toes in with Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Camp is more laid back, with the opportunity to write whatever you want (screenplay, poetry collection, not just a novel) using however many words you want (50K is not your only option). So…. I set the bar low (25K) and so far I’m right on track. I’m playing with my own stories and learning that memoir is a really interesting form.
  • I’m playing in the kitchen again! At least one person at this house (can you guess who?) LOVES to eat and I’m remembering how satisfying it is to cook for someone who actually eats food. Yes, Yogi. This one is on you. I’m hoping that the Monk’s eagerness to try anything and everything will rub off on his brother. Probably wishful thinking

NOT EVEN REMOTELY JOYFUL THINGS

  • The potty. That’s all I’m saying for now. More later.
  • Night weaning with the Monk. There are no words.
  • I am without a good book and have been for weeks now. I’ve started and abandoned probably fifteen books in as many days. I’ve got some interesting non-fiction going, but I’m dying for story. I need a world to get lost in. Anyone have ideas?? I’d be happy to reciprocate.
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Brother Love

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These boys are wild about each other.

All of this wild love is new. The Monk had been the prime irritant of Yogi’s life and then….. the little dude started walking. Now he can be chased and made to laugh hysterically and taught endlessly entertaining tricks.

Yogi’s first question upon waking (whether from nap or nighttime) is always, “Where’s Monkey?”. If by some miracle the answer is “In his crib”, Yogi must call on all of his small powers of restraint to allow his brother a touch more sleep. The world just isn’t as much fun without a sidekick.

What kinds of tricks has he learned? Well, he loves to walk his newly changed diaper to the diaper pail for drop off and give an exuberant high-five when his mission is complete. Just this morning he walked the thing all the way up the stairs. He also likes to shake his head like a crazy person upon Yogi’s hysterical giggling command. This happens most frequently at the dinner table and in the bathtub. As his age would suggest, he waves like he invented the gesture and believes himself to be the Master of Peek-a-Boo. There is no one more skilled.

Mostly I’m just in love with them. Brother love is the best.

High on Love

What a week, huh? By the time the Supreme Court finally decided to make their rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 I was a disaster. I had been optimistic on Monday, but as the week progressed I was sliding downhill. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I was sure we were in for disappointment. But I was WRONG!!!! Hooray! What fabulous, fabulous news. And if you haven’t watched Rachel Maddow’s show from the night of the ruling, you must. Not only is she just lovely and geek chic, but her thoughts on where all of this is headed are very encouraging.

So, I’m totally high on love. In spite of the fact that I live in one of those states that is sure to be among the last in the march towards marriage equality, I’m not sure I could be more excited. I feel strongly that my wife and I were married on the day we said “I do” in front of all of our people during our not at all legal wedding, but all of this excitement is getting to me. I’ve been daydreaming about leaving the boys with grandparents and sharing a romantic weekend with my wife in which we do things like sleep in, eat leisurely meals, kiss as much as possible and get married.

And then there are those boys. I’m so excited for them too. It feels impossibly good to know that the world really is changing and maybe this having two Moms thing will be a smidge easier than I sometimes fear.

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Yogi got behind the wheel for the first time last weekend. The man was born to drive. Isn’t it great to have friends with cool toys?!

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The Monk walks everywhere.

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Just a little naked fun in our neighbors backyard. Oh and Goldfish. Always Goldfish.

The Vegetarian Toddler with Two Mommies?

Meals have been changing around here lately.  Firstly, Yogi has suddenly become VERY enthusiastic about food.  He gobbles up whatever we put on his tray faster than we can replace it.  He’s not a tidy eater but he loves to feed himself.  Whatever he can get in his (right) fist he shoves (mostly) in his mouth.  It’s adorable.

The second thing that is changing is that my wife has zero interest in food.  Maybe we have super short memories, but the nausea seems to be much worse this time around.  Most of our standard fare is off the list and one of the only things that doesn’t make her feel worse after she eats it is meat.  Yup.  Meat.  Great.  She noticed after getting chicken out at a restaurant last week that she felt better than usual after the meal.  Our house is almost entirely an animal-free food zone and now it seems that might need to shift.  I’ve got to get her to eat something….

This is a frustrating development for a few reasons.  One is that I don’t want to eat the meat and the other is that in order for her to feel ok about eating it, it needs to be local, which means expensive.  I do feel like it’s worth it if you’re going to eat meat, but I don’t want to eat meat.

But….back to Yogi.  All of this makes me wonder about the little dude’s diet.  When my wife eats chicken or beef (usually at a restaurant we know sources locally – not easy to find around here) Yogi shares.  In practical terms this means that he has had very little animal-based proteins in his life.  So, I’ve started wondering if he gets enough protein.  Every source I can find says that toddlers need somewhere in the neighborhood 16 grams each day.  Given that there are 8 grams of protein in one cup of milk, it’s not hard to meet that bar.  

In spite of the fact that I can do the math, I still worry that I’m disadvantaging him in some way by not feeding him a more “typical” diet.  I’m sure it’s the voice of my father in my head who is forever asking when we’re going to give the boy a cheeseburger, (not funny), but sometimes it gets to me.  I want to feed him the best food I can get for him and I’m doing that to the best of my ability.  But…… I don’t want to make him the weird kid that eats tofu and has never had a hot dog.  I am very aware of the fact that his mothers (by the very reality of our existence) are already setting him up to be something of an outsider.  A kid with a “different” kind of family.  I guess I don’t want to contribute further to that, but I also don’t want to sacrifice values that are meaningful to me.

This is shaping up to be one of those posts that doesn’t resolve itself neatly.  Yogi is paging me from his crib and I have yet to write myself to a question.  I guess I’m asking, are there any other veggie Mommies out there?  Does anyone else worry about this kind of thing?

The Word Camera

On the evening following my dissertation defense, my parents surprised me with a swanky camera.  This was a huge surprise as my parents are not the expensive gift types and certainly not on a non-birthday or non-Christmas occasion.  I was thrilled with the gift and the idea that now I would have an excellent tool for taking great pictures of my future children.  That was six years ago and in spite of the fact that I have landed a photo subject, I have yet to master (or even really learned all that much) about the camera itself.  Sigh.

Yesterday however, none of that even mattered.  Why?  Because although we spent the morning in a super photogenic spot (pumpkins and corn mazes and hayrides and tiny tractors) and I had managed to remember to bring said camera along for the trip (miracle of miracles), the battery was dead.  Entirely, no questions asked, dead.  So while Yogi did what he could to enjoy the farm (the boy has got to start walking soon, he’s missing out) I was left with only the phone on my camera for capturing the moments.

And I guess there is also my own memory.  That should mean something to a word person I imagine.  Here are a few images from  the word camera.

My wife balancing Yogi on her lap while steering with her free hand and pedaling around a track filled with very small people trying to drive but mostly bumping into things.

Yogi meeting a piglet for the very first time.  Eyes wide and excited rattling of the pen (I actually got a phone shot of this one).  Laughing when they nosed through the dirt close to his foot.  He could have watched those pigs all day.

Waiting as my wife settled him in the horse swing and laughing when his head failed to clear the horses’ mane.  Yogi is a small man, that’s for sure.  The only way you could tell that the horse had a passenger were the small feet banging on either side.

The sound of laughing and water splashing as Yogi panned for gold.

    Bathing Beauty

    Tub (which is what we call the entire bathing experience at our house) is Yogi’s very favorite part of the day.  He knows that when dinner has been eaten and the kitchen is clean it’s time for tub and the boy is ready.  He’s so ready that he would rather not slow down long enough to disrobe and I’m sure he would jump in fully clothed if we let him.  Instead, he has to endure a minute on the changing table but when we set him on the floor, he’s off.  Barreling towards the bathroom as fast as a naked baby can crawl, which is pretty fast.  And totally cute.  As soon as he hits the water, the splashing begins.  When he’s not taking a nibble (Tub. Yum!) he’s in constant motion.



    The Sippy Solution/Fun with Yogi at 13 Months

    In the midst of all of the recent focus on TTC, Yogi continues to truck along.  In fact, the little guy is rockin and rollin.  His 14th month is off to a big start and there is lot to report from the New Yogi Tricks department. 
    As you can see from the picture, the boy has agreed to accept fluid from something that is neither bottle nor breast.  Oddly, we have had the most success in offering him sips from our own sport bottles (see above).  Apparently he likes to drink from containers that are roughly the size of his own body.  Weird.  But…. we have found kid (more like 5-10-year old) versions of the bottle you see above that is slightly smaller and now provide his only milk during daytime hours.  He also drinks water out of these, but with much greater gusto when ice is included.  You know, because ice shakes.  We are still hanging on to the wake-up and bed-time bottle, but we’re making progress. 
    Another adorable development is the advent of signing “more”.  After months and months and months of signing to him, he made the connection and he loves his new tool.  It’s a pretty timely development actually because recently the boy can.not get enough to eat.  He just leans back in his high chair with his belly pushing against the tray and signs “more” like some kind of tiny king.  His favorite foods of the moment include mozzarella cheese, tofu squares breaded with graham cracker crumbs, strawberries and avocado. 
    He’s not walking, but he’s upright most of the time these days.  Cruising all over the house while keeping one hand on something at all times.  It might be a wall or the toy box or a Mama leg, but as long as it’s there he’s confident.  My wife has started taking him outside in the backyard after dinner while I clean up and watching him push his little lion through the yard is one of the brightest parts of my day. 
    This lion was his first birthday gift and I was SO excited about it. 
    For one, he looks adorable with it.  I love how he holds on to his ears.
    And then there’s the fact that I found a toy that he could push around AND ride at a baby consignment sale for $7.  Yahoo!!!!  Happy Birthday Yogi!  Also, the seat lifts up in the back so that he can hold on to the purple handle and push him anywhere he wants to go.  Perfect.  These days he’s not so into riding the lion, but maybe that will come later.  Pushing him around is cool. 
    The only frustrating Yogi-related development at the moment is that we are in a nap transition.  Moving towards dropping the morning nap, but not quite there yet.  Sometimes he seems to need a morning snooze and sometimes he doesn’t.  I have found no way to predict it, and you know how I love not being able to predict.  When he needs it, he absolutely needs it and when he doesn’t, sometimes he doesn’t.  We have had some pretty ugly evenings on days when he didn’t seem to need AM nap in the AM, but by dinner time he was clearly wiped out.  Much like me, Yogi can be a trial on the rare occasion when he loses his pleasing personality. 
    If his eyes are open and he isn’t in an entirely new situation, he is chattering.  Chatter, chatter, chatter.  All day long.  There are a few identifiable words within the wall of sound.  Looking back, his first word was certainly “Oh-oh” which seems odd, but is true. He loves to drop toys down the stairs and say “Oh-oh” at  the top of his voice.  It’s like a joyful announcement.  Lately, he’s started saying banana, which started as nana-nana on a loop and then evolved into baaa-nana.  His very favorite word at the moment is “Mama” which he says pretty much all the time.  When he’s tired it sounds like a kind of bleating and gets repeated endlessly.  I’m not so sure that it’s attached to either of us at this point.
    There have been so many changes in the last month.  All of it is just going so fast.

    Got Spinach?

    Yogi loves a spinach smoothie.  At first I thought it was just a novelty, the kind of “I want whatever it is that Mama is having” thing that babies do.  We’ve passed that point now.  The boy enjoys a green beverage in the morning and he’s more than happy to slurp away at mine.  It’s messy, but it’s cute.  It’s about time I start making him his own though.  Mama needs some smoothie too!

    Queer Parenting and TTC Blog Carnival: Parenting & Relationships

    Now for something a little different.  I’m participating in a Blog Carnival!  How fun is that?!  Today’s topic is “Relationships and the Strain Parenting Puts on Them”.  There are eight other bloggers who will be writing on the same topic and at the bottom of this post, you will find a link to another blog that is participating in the Carnival.  If everything goes as planned, you should be able to click through from blog to blog and read everyone’s thoughts on the topic.  The perfect distraction for me, no?
    The idea for this topic originally grew out of the challenges facing the Adventures of Jen, Tiff and Chunk family.  If you follow this blog and have been wondering what’s happened to their site, they have moved and you can find them here.  In spite of the origin of the topic, the wording of the prompt is vague enough for me to play with it a little bit and so that’s what I plan to do.  Instead of focusing on one particular kind of relationship, I’m going to focus on relationships in general with an eye toward digging more deeply into each in future posts.
    One of the things that everyone loves to tell expectant parents is “the baby changes everything”.  It has been my experience that no one really dives into exactly what they mean by that, but the implication is that you better watch out.  This was the kind of comment that drove me crazy when we were pregnant with Yogi.  “But what do you mean?  How does the baby change everything?”  Even when pressed (and I almost always pressed) no one ever really wants to get into it.  Frustrating.  I don’t like ambiguously threatening advice.
    After a year with Yogi I’ve got a sense of why no one ever wanted to get into the details.  There’s just too much to say.   The baby does change everything, but if you’ve got to start the conversation somewhere, talking about relationships is a perfect jumping off point.  The baby certainly changes relationships.  Every single one of them.  Being Yogi’s Mama has changed my relationship with my wife, my parents, my friends (more on this later) and even myself.
    MY WIFE
    Deepening is the word that comes to mind when I think about the changes that Yogi has made in the relationship I have with my wife.  The experiences of TTC, pregnancy, birth and infancy have uncovered us in the most intimate of ways.  The entire process fixes you on the anxious edge of the seesaw, teetering between joyful possibility and the fear of everything that is so very far outside of your hands.  I’ve often thought that we aren’t the same people or the same couple that we were before Yogi, but perhaps we were there all along; hiding beneath the layers that motherhood would begin to strip away.  Being revealed doesn’t always (usually?) feel comfortable and what is exposed is generally not too pretty to look at.  There is, after all, a reason you were keeping it under wraps in the first place. 
    Our hardest times have been in the weeks that followed Yogi’s birth.  During those days we were responding to all of that tremendous change in very different ways.  I would imagine that the fact of my not having a physical or genetic connection with our son was a big piece of that.  My wife seemed to be buffeted from the turbulence by an instant bond that I didn’t share.  The crying and the consuming focus on breastfeeding and the endless parade of family and the never knowing when you might actually be able to sleep was very difficult for me.  I resisted all of it.  I fought back in the only way I ever do, I withdrew.  I’m sure this  time couldn’t have been entirely joyful for her, but it seemed that way to me.  I felt disconnected from her in a way that I’d never felt before and haven’t felt since.  I didn’t feel a part of my own family.  It seemed their was my wife and the baby and then there was me.  It was lonely and I was resentful and sad.
    There wasn’t a particular moment that I can remember, but slowly those feelings passed and new ones emerged.  I opened myself up to the chaos, took my seat on the roller coaster and began to fall in love with my son.  I wish it had all unfolded differently; it wasn’t what I had imagined, but I’ve forgiven myself for it.  It took awhile to let go of the disappointment, but it was taking up room that I needed for other things and so finally I did.
    Although I was initially resistant, the word strain works really well for me in this context.  Parenting most definitely strains a relationship in the sense that it stretches and works it, often beyond its’ limits.  But the experience of parenting also refines and purifies that connection, filtering out what no longer serves it.  We’ve done quite a lot of filtering in the last year.  My wife and I can no longer avoid painful conversations because the pace and stress associated with Yogi guarantees that whatever we try to avoid will bubble up at the most inopportune time.  This means that during the last 13 months our conflict-averse selves have been learning some new moves.  Painful?  Yes.  Something we would have done without force?  No.  Beneficial to our relationship?  Absolutely!    
    We’ve got plenty of filtering ahead, but we’ve got time.  We will be Yogi’s parents forever and that, more than anything else gives our relationship a mission that is essential to both of us.  Our work as parents is creating a space that is safe and nurturing for our children.  A home life that offers them both opportunities to learn and grow into their own selves and the security to support that exploration.  That mission requires the foundation of a solid marriage and partnership.  It’s not just about us anymore and I’m surprised to find that liberating.  At the end of the day I may feel like zoning out with a book instead of making the effort to connect with my wife, but that decision (or more realistically the accumulation of those decisions) has implications for my son and it helps to remember that.  It doesn’t solve every problem, but it does offer a way of looking at the situation more clearly.
    MY PARENTS
    Becoming a parent myself has created tremendous changes in my relationship with my parents.  Having my own family has given me the support to forge an adult relationship in which I could  (finally!!!) abandon my childhood roles of caretaker and over-zealous pleaser.  As part of the painful straining process, I’ve put my own family’s needs ahead of my parents and although the repercussions of all of that sucked up most of my emotional energy for months, it has been very worthwhile.  This asserting myself happened in the context of establishing boundaries around family visits, but it has created a significant shift in how all four of us deal with one another.
    After 32 years of telling them mostly what (I thought) they wanted to hear, I’ve started telling them the truth.  My truth.  A pretty novel idea, don’t you think?  “No, I don’t think that coming for a visit and not telling me how long you plan to stay sounds like a good idea.”  “I would actually rather not go to a restaurant whose logo involves a fluorescent pink pig.”   Some of it’s trivial and some of it is pretty important, but I did it because I wasn’t speaking only for myself anymore.  I was speaking for my wife and my son and they deserve a little integrity.  And yes, I know that I deserve integrity too.  I’m getting there.  Baby steps.
    It’s still early days for me in the parenting world, but I already feel more patience and understanding for my parents than I ever did before.  I have a taste of the depth of their love for me and the way that love might have driven some of the behavior that I didn’t understand as a kid.  I’m not totally over it, but I’m starting to see it differently.  The way my Dad pushed me and why my Mom might have leaned on me more than she should have.  I see all of it from a different vantage point now and it has softened me.  My parents feel more real to me now and that too is allowing me to relate to them in more satisfying ways.  
    MYSELF
    On an early morning walk when Yogi was first born and my wife was on maternity leave, I was struck with the idea (new to me in that moment) that I was every bit as precious as the tiny little person snoozing in the stroller ahead.  This is the kind of sentiment that I had pretended to know long before this morning, but I had not truly known it until right then.  We were walking by a coffee shop and I was thinking about Yogi’s birth and how perfectly himself he was.  How “just right” everything about him was, from his toes to the sound of his cry to the way he stretched that tiny arm above his head and pushed me that much more deeply in love with him.  I couldn’t believe how perfect he was.  And then suddenly I had the thought that my parents had felt this way about me.  And because I was now feeling this way about my very own son, the depth of their love was real to me.  It wasn’t something they had told me, it was something I had felt in my own body.  And from there of course, I realized that everyone is this perfect. Some of us have parents who are able to mirror this to us and some of us don’t, but having the mirror doesn’t make it so.  It just is. 
    I have always believed in the idea that people are inherently good (which is certainly not to say that every person lives this out), but meeting my son has shown me that it is so.  Now I don’t just believe, I know.
    Knowing this hasn’t radically transformed my relationship with myself, but it has shifted it.  I take care of myself much better than I used to.  I’m not as willing to sacrifice myself for other people and years after the advice was given, I’m finally learning how to be gentle with myself.
    Click here to read thoughts on the same topic by the ladies at Reproducing Genius.