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Showing posts from November, 2011

Coffee talk

Today's coffee ain't estate-grown high end stuff. But it is teaching me that I generally enjoy coffees from Guatemala. I'm not saying those are the best, just my preference. Maybe something about the soil there? I'm currently in-between coffee sources...we'll get to more on that in a minute. 
But my current selection is just some very decent Rainforest Alliance Certified Guatemala El Paraiso from Caribou. I enjoyed their Columbia last week as well, but to me this has more flavor complexity. It's a light roast that has cranberry and almond as the taste notes. I'm also getting a slight sugary/caramel in the whole bean smell and the flavor is a delicate, sweet, smooth first impression with no bitterness in the finish. It doesn't quite stay as perky as a higher end coffee, but I'm fairly impressed given it's something you get down at the chain coffee shop. 
Back to my search. I've fallen out of love with my local source for roasted so I'm cu…

Who should do the chores?

The raging debate yesterday--both on the web and in my home thanks to The Daddy Files--was about the division of domestic labor. He took the somewhat controversial stance that the one staying home with the kids should also be doing the housework. An idea, it seems to me, that would come across as utterly sexist, demeaning, and horrible if it were said of stay at home moms in particular. But it was actually a fairly thought-provoking piece even if I disagree and I don't think he meant to be demeaning. Which is why we're tackling it here.

But let's get something out of the way first things first. The real people who should be doing the household chores are the kids. They should earn their keep and I look forward to the day when I can use my son as slave labor to do dishes, sort laundry (rather than play with it), and vacuum. The vacuuming he loves to do now, but it's mostly with an inflatable thunder stick that he roams around the house with pretending. And I don't q…

TV families as a mirror

The following entry is a jump-off from a CNN Belief Blog about TLC's reality show about Muslim families in America. You can read it here: My Take: Defending TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints

We're big fans of the Duggars, as I said yesterday. And Sister Wives for that matter. Not so much the midgets, the toddlers in pageants. Quints By Surprise is ok. The point being that TLC has sort of made a niche for itself with showing off quirky families.

Not that we're that quirky. Actually, Kelly and I often joke that we're really a quite traditional family setup even if we look completely non-traditional from the outside. But aren't most families like this nowadays? Gone are the days of a white suburban couple with 2 kids and a, wait. I mean, gone are the days of June Cleaver at least. No ideal of cleaning the house in pearls or soapbox derby.

Reality, in all its cable glory, is that the postmodern American family is unified in only its fragmen…

Going off the grid

First of all, welcome to the blogosphere to The Mama. Her new blog is over at Kieran Does Not Knit.

Today is her first day back at work and the theme for her entry is doing corporate America's bidding while wishing there was a better way to make ends meet.

We're both ready to go off the grid. Maybe not literally a cabin in the woods while growing our own crops. But finding a way to spend more time with our kids, together, and feeling less stuck in the daily grind.

I think that's why we both love the Duggars from 20 Kids and Counting or however many they have now. They've gone off to do their own thing. They're different and a bit unusual, for sure. But they raise their kids right and much respect to people who choose to thoughtfully live outside the norm.

We've thrown around the idea of starting our own business for awhile. Coffee roasting, a cloth diaper store, I'll need something to do when the kids go off to school. Maybe now is the time to start working…

Potty time?

We have a sneaking suspicion that it is time to start potty training. Our 16 month old son heads down the hallway into an empty room to do his business in his diaper, currently. At the very least, we know what's happening from the position, the look on his face, and the way he will stop what he's doing and want to be by himself for a few moments.

Couple this with the fact that he will nod his head and walk to his bedroom if you ask if he needs clean pants.

A potty may be in our future...perhaps as a Christmas present to go with the bath toys we got him today from the cool independent toy store in our village? Yay for small business Saturday. But what kind of potty? Musical? On the floor? In the grown-up toilet? Where should we put it given the lack of floor space in our tiny condo bathroom? It seems silly to teach him to use the toilet in his bedroom only to ask him months later to make the leap to the real bathroom.

And oh the theories! Do we have a bootcamp with candy and da…


At some point, while I was out walking the dog just now, I thought to myself, "gee, I better say something when I reach 2000 pageviews...what could I say?"

Well, I better think of something quick. Sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday it happened.

Thank you. For stopping by and taking the time to read. For sharing this blog with others. One of the things I realized in my moment of pondering 2000 visitors was that I have a pretty diverse readership. It's tough to know what to say or how to appeal to such a broad section of people.

Other dads. Moms. Conservatives. The Canadian fishing industry. People who like sports. People who know me and people who do not. I really have no choice but to be myself and let the chips fall. The big question in my mind, however, is what I'm trying to do here. Do I have anything to really say? I do. I have observations--especially about parenting (which is what this is supposed to be about). They're more than just people who will gro…

Feeling thankful

Being alive. Waking up this morning. My son. My daughter. The woman who gave them to me and every day completes both our family and my world. The food on our table and that we're blessed enough to be able to worry that others are not so fortunate. The roof over our heads while others sleep in the streets. Our family and friends scattered across the globe and the technology that allows us to connect with them like they're right here. Our greyhound. Good music and art and wine that gives life deeper soul. The wisdom of the poets and thinkers who remind us that we are more than this and that our spirits transcend the earthly suffering. For health and freedom. For the things in life that bring me joy--another marathon completed, a good cup of coffee, books from the library.

Happy Thanksgiving and may your life be filled with similar blessings.

America's Supernanny

Let me be clear--I've never seen the show. But ads for it keep popping up in the On Demand preview box where we're subjected to short clips of the tantrums America's Supernanny will be called in to fix.

Maybe it's the wrong answer from someone with a psychology degree...and let's be clear, Deborah Tillman has a Masters in Early Childhood Special Education not any sort of behavioral theory school...but I really don't like someone's instinct as a parent being to call someone in to help.

Not that intervention isn't necessary and that the right kind of It's Me Or The Dog type training couldn't fix both parent and child alike.

There's just something about the sink or swim nature of parenting that doesn't lend itself to critique. Of course, if someone is really, actually, seriously in over their head by all means they deserve help.

It's just shouldn't have chosen to have children if you can't figure out how to get…

Harsh reality sets in for a sports fan...

Sports is a metaphor for life. I've never understood the people who don't like sports. I've played and watched sports since I was able to understand. I played youth baseball and soccer and was a 3 sport varsity athlete. I've had teams I've literally been a fan of since birth. There are few sports I don't enjoy. Sports, like politics, are merely but a peaceful extension of our struggles as humans. 
But unlike politics, few sports have built into them--especially bigtime pro sports--the mechanisms for change necessary to remain free from corruption and remain enjoyable in changing times. At least, assuming you believe in democracy, politics has built into it the ability to rise above the mainstream in opposition to the inevitable corruption and abuse that will take place. 
It's getting harder to pay good money or waste good time watching crybaby millionaires focus more on selling something than competing. It's getting harder to watch leagues where not eve…

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day where we raise awareness for the 13 million babies born too soon every year worldwide. But, pardon me, I'm not really going to talk directly about preemies.

I'm busy waiting to hear my daughter who was born 6 weeks early cry from the other room. Because the last time we fed her she threw most of it back up due to a combination of reflux and her still trying to get her suck/swallow/breathe together. And when she is hungry again it will probably take about 45 minutes for her to finish her bottle. Repeat every 3 hours. You get the point.

What I'm going to talk more about today is the Houston Astros moving to the American League and another Wild Card team being added to the MLB playoffs. Just so they can get more of our money for overpriced seats and hotdogs. And how Christmas advertising is creeping earlier and earlier into the fall asking us to spend money on useless, overpriced Chinese goods.

This World Prematurity Day, my focus is on how terr…

American Academy of Pediatrics

I have a bone to pick with the AAP. Call me the product of the internet age, but I expect more out of a collection of 60,000 pediatricians. Good information on the health of our children is everywhere these days. What parents really need is someone to give unbiased, research-based, intelligent advice about tough issues.

Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that the AAP ain't it.

Maybe I'm jaded about doctors in general after a month-long NICU stay with my daughter. Maybe doctors are just a conservative bunch who aren't browsing the internet everyday like this admittedly geeky dad who reads the news.

But lately the AAP has been a little suspect in my eyes. It started when I read a nice book about how educational tv you watch with your kids is much different than junk tv on as a babysitter. See also the recent Spongebob versus PBS study, too. Yet the AAP discourages even background tv from parents before the age of 2.

They ignore research and positive effects of co-sleepin…

There's a reason the oldest gets all the attention...

I'm sure you could say something here about learning to parent with your first child. The long, difficult road of learning to care for a baby and figure out your style. Are you a "stumble around in the night with bottle pieces" kinda of person or do you diligently set out a full bottle or two before going to bed?

And don't get me wrong, it's taken us a little bit to get used to our new one. She has issues. You have to hold her a certain way when you feed her or the milk just comes right back up. Or dribbles down her neck. And immediately after she finishes, you MUST move her directly to under your chin with her feet at your waist. Oh, the crazy noises she makes, but here's the thing--they don't mean anything. She's like an old man groaning and snoring. But for the most part, once you figure her out she's easy and sweet and sleeps like a champ.

The funny thing about your second one, however, is that you don't care. Your firstborn you read all t…

Coffee table

It's been awhile since I blogged's roast is organic fair trade from Papua New Guinea..."syrupy body, very balanced" are the notes. It's decent but not my favorite from Blue Max Coffee. I tend to go for the lighter, more floral quality in the beans and this has a distinct sugary, thicker, heavier flavor that I don't mind. A decent roast from 10/31 though I'd probably return to one of my old standbys. It's less delicate and lacks a bit in the full spectrum that, say, their Guatemala or Kenya has.
But the bigger issue for me this week was that the Blue Max raised their Tuesday special price from $10 to $11. They're still doing their Buy 10, Get 1 Free punch card program. As a coffee snob, however, I'm reaching a tipping point perhaps. They're a great place and I like supporting a small local business. The basic fact is that if you want truly great specialty coffee, you're going to have to spend more and go elsewhere. Blue M…

Doctor's office schedule

Partly for fun and partly to help us remember when we can call...

This is the weekly schedule for our pediatrician's office! They have some weird hours.

Monday 10:30am-4pm
Tuesday 9am-5pm
Wednesday 9am-11 (This may be their late night, I think that is PM)
Thursday 10:30-6pm
Friday 10:30-4pm
Saturday 9:30-Noon

Phones turn on 30 minutes before appointments.

An open letter to Loyola University Health System (draft)

My daughter was born October 10, 2011, six weeks premature, and spent approximately the first month of her life in neonatal intensive care. What follows is not meant to diminish the excellent treatment she and my family received from many amazing healthcare professionals. There were more than a few people who went above and beyond. Like any institution, there were also more than a few people who failed us. But this is not meant to be a personal attack against them.

Rather, what disappointed us was bigger than any individual. And you deserve to know why the hospital did not meet our expectations. As a consumer, especially in the "baby industry," we have a choice and we have rights as a patient/customer to get care and service equal to the best around the region and the nation.

This is also not meant to be simply a laundry list of needed facility upgrades--I believe your Labor and Delivery unit is scheduled for a renovation? And I'd hope you know your NICU is outdated in b…

The emotional toll on NICU families

[November is Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17 is World Prematurity Day.]

Somewhere in the literature about having a premature baby in the NICU is always a bottom line, extra-added section on "the emotional toll" on families that gets left at that. There are pages and pages of what could be wrong with your baby, what it means, and the difficulties they face. But no real explanation of what families struggle with and the reader is left with the impression that it is stressful, exhausting, and painful.

What they don't usually mention is that this is because the NICU experience is often not family-centered.

Your baby will be seen by a team of nameless, professional, but not-all-that-nurturing staff who go about their business without much attention to you, the parents and family. We often feel neglected, ignored, abused and like we have little say in what happens to our child.

Which is the exact opposite of what good healthcare should look like. Communication, med…

A rough day for everybody

It's been a tough month. Today marks one month since I ran the Twin Cities Marathon.

One week later I was volunteering in Chicago.

Later that day, we were quietly enjoying pizza when this whole Leda adventure started.

Yesterday was a tough day for all of us, I think.

Cole had a checkup at the pediatrician where he's doing great. 75th percentile for height, 50th percentile for weight, but he began crying the moment we walked from the waiting room to the exam room. Nurses, doctor, didn't matter. All conversations had to be above his wailing. Which I suppose should remind us what a usually awesome, well-behaved, amazing little boy we have. The doctor was genuinely surprised at Cole's eating. He said he has 15 month olds who eat one meal a day and any food we get into them at this point is amazing. Apparently not Cole's issue. He just has iatrophobia. Oh, and there were shots. Two in each arm. By then, he was so far gone anyway though. Kelly's theory was that it wa…