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Showing posts from April, 2012

The toddler who doesn't say "no"

Make no mistake, we get full tantrums. Thankfully, they are generally at home when hungry or tired and not of the variety that leaves full shopping cart in the middle of the grocery aisle as we make an exit. Cole's favorite things to do in frustration are shriek and sit on the floor making circular kicking motions with his legs that grind bits of cracker or apple into the carpet. Though this is also a delightful game to play with toys that have pieces.

But you will rarely hear the word "no" cross my toddler's lips.

He's more of a head shaker and tends to be indifferent to things he doesn't enjoy. Enthusiastic for the things he is excited about.

We got to talking about this topic this weekend because of our annoyance at the way he ignores us. Especially when being asked a direct question...he just continues what he's doing like he doesn't hear you. Watches tv, plays with toys, doesn't look at you. Sort of a blessing in disguise, I suppose.

Though I…

Women & science

(This post jumps off from a continuing discussion PBS NewsHour is having about Women in Science.)

I'm not worried about my daughter. Women have gotten the message. Men have gotten the message. By and large, what we're dealing with sexism-wise are the stragglers. It's the same for racism. It's the same for homophobia. It's not to say the conversation about these things is over. Or that they no longer exist. 
Where we're at now, however, is a place where we've all agreed pretty much that discrimination is a bad thing. So the question then--when talking about something like gender & education--is why things aren't balanced. And sometimes the answer is just "it is." 
If there's not currently a lot of women in, say, computer may not be because they lack the opportunity, the ability, or the knowing it's an option. Sometimes these days it's just "they don't wanna." 
My daughter will certainly know that engin…

Billy Joel was wrong...if it's old junk, it's not still rock n roll

Kelly and I frequently discuss one of the pitfalls of relationships being the wrong assumption that your partner will be the same person today they were yesterday. Sometimes we share stories of our former selves and laugh because we have nothing in common with them.

Now, I cannot say that everything I cleaned in Ohio had value at one point. Some of it, frankly, was just junk. A drawer was full and it didn't look useful enough to go on a moving truck so it got stashed in a box. But I'm going to say a significant percentage of my belongings at one point seemed useful enough to pack away for the distant future.

Funny thing is the future is here and I see little use for it. Dumpster filled.

Part of it is that Kelly has done a wonderful job--our crowded, small vintage condo in an urban area adding as well--convincing me that keeping the memory is different from keeping the souvenir. If you're not actively enjoying whatever it is you've kept then why keep it at all?

Another …

Kids crying on planes? Quit complaining.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of articles about flying with children. Travel with children is particularly difficult so we mostly avoid it. And air travel is, perhaps, the most difficult short of a canoe trip down a river in the rainforest of Costa Rica.

You see a few stories about how to pack for the TSA (more about those lovely folks later) or how to time travel with nap/bedtime to get those kiddies sleeping.

But mostly, it's people bitching.

Kids were on my flight screaming. People with crying kids booted off the plane. People with crying kids should be subject to extra fees. All of you--shut up about children.

And focus your attention on the true problem. The airline industry. The TSA. Lousy airports. Maybe even a lousy railroad/highway infrastructure that makes flying the best alternative...thus, cramming your plane with families.

This past weekend I flew to Ohio. By myself. It was a cleaning trip to get my mom's storage locker and my old bedroom cleared out. (At le…


If you wanted to pin me down and get an answer for what non-family member has had the biggest impact on my life, I wouldn't have to think too hard before I came up with the name Ron Miller. He passed away recently and was my professor, advisor, boss, mentor, and--perhaps most importantly--a dear friend.

Ron was chairperson of the Religion Dept at Lake Forest College...among other things. He lived the kind of life we all should. Thoughtful, spiritually active, worried about others, wise but diplomatic about his wisdom. Most of his life was dedicated to his students. The rest was dedication to the idea that religion should heal us rather than separate us. He specialized in Jewish-Christian dialogue, Islam and the West, mysticism, meditation, gaining insights about peace through spiritual teachings. He founded community programs, wrote books, gave lectures around the world. In the end, he even died like one of his spiritual heroes, Thomas Merton, in being on the road.

Yesterday, we l…

The state of marriage

We're not married. And that has no bearing on our ability to parent. That's the conclusion of new research that talks about the involvement of dads--specifically educated dads--as a key factor in childhood success.

I have nothing against marriage per se. It's a fine way to formalize a relationship for some, but not all. And there's the rub is that there are those in our society who try to use marriage as a cultural marker for everything from relationship achievement to how well our kids are doing. We complain about the divorce rate when instead we should be looking at what makes people with no communication skills, ability to disagree well (that's a huge skill), live in the same space, or generally tolerate each other, think they can form a lifelong bond on a whim. Whatever happened to marriage shouldn't be entered into lightly? Call me old-fashioned, but you need to figure out just how annoyed you'll be at socks on the floor BEFORE you have a wedding. Not …

Leaving mom alone

Kelly asked me this morning, "what if there are things I don't know?!" 
Last month, around her birthday, she had to travel for work. It really wasn't too bad for me because I called in reinforcements (my mom) and she's doing the same (her mom). 
I'm leaving in a week to go home to Ohio for a few days. Basically, just a long weekend to do some cleaning because I'm 32 years old and still have crap in the apartment I grew up in. And a storage locker. But, let's be honest, my mom also needs some tech help--sorry, Mom, I know you read this now. You're not the only one who can't figure out how to get photos off your digital camera! 
The cold, hard truth is a piece is still missing. From the routine. From the sphere of comfort and knowing where things go and what comes next. And dog walking is always a tricky issue when you're alone with two kids. Really, our solution has been to get the dog on a schedule where the full walks are before and after…

We're plotting an overthrow...

Well, not so much an overthrow, but a vacation. Our first, actually. We've been places with the kids, but we've never really done something "out of town," just us, unless you count Milwaukee. And Milwaukee counts for very little in anything.

We're big anglophiles. Love it...Doctor Who, Downtown Abbey, saying things like "well done!," beheadings, etc.. We've both been before, but our philosophy is if you're going to leave the country and your kids behind, what better time than now? In a few years, our trips will consist of tacky historical villages and Disney World. Might as well hit the theater, a few pubs, and cram ourselves onto the Tube without strollers while we can.

So we're in the early stage of planning a 2013 trip to London. And by "early," I mean picking the time of year, who will watch the kids, we have to get passports renewed, shop airfare and hotels, plan our week.

Kelly's mom had the brilliant idea that both grand…

Reality families

We love a reality family. It's fun to see how others live. But it runs the spectrum from Dance Moms & Wife Swap style trash to the more honest, respectful portrayal of families like the Duggars or, heck, even the wacky dysfunction of Pawn Stars. At least I feel like they're not being taken advantage of.

So when the interwebs were filled with news of a new Stay At Home Dad reality show being cast, I was curious but cautious. Still am.

I sent an e-mail out last Friday with all the requested information. To my surprise, I got a voicemail about 2 hours later asking for a call back. So, while Cole was eating lunch, I got on speakerphone and answered a few questions. I spoke with a couple of very nice ladies who said this new show is aiming to be an "in the trenches" look at dads. Funny along the lines of Up All Night.

It's easy to apply to be on a show that you've seen before. You know the vibe, the tone, the treatment, how they're going to portray you pro…

A decade of difference

This is an entry about politics. But it isn't really about politics. It's about life lessons. Which is what makes it, ultimately, about parenting. 

In the summer of 2004 I had quit law school and was unemployed. I finally got a job with the Kerry campaign trying to unseat President Bush in his attempt at re-election. (Well, it wasn't really the Kerry campaign, it was the national committee. Well, it wasn't really the national committee it was a old-style political action committee that reported to the DNC. This is why people hate politics.) I was living in a battleground state and it was an uphill battle. Our candidate was stuffy-but-distinguished with a questionable history coming back years later. Sound familiar? Though swift boats can hardly be compared to forcing your dog to ride tied to the roof.

This was before the days of having instant voter data on your handheld device. We spent the better part of the summer deciding if a house was Republican or Democrat base…

Quality time

I got a lovely Twitter spam this morning from someone who plastered the interwebs (as Kelly calls them) with asking if I'd like a "strong family bond"...followed by a link to the Six Flags profile. Because what better way to bond than over some expensive theme park tickets and long waits in the hot sun?

We were out in the yard taking photos of Kelly's newest knitting project last night (don't ask) so after she had to go back in to check on Leda, I stayed with the little monster playing. I brought a soccer ball which he showed some minor interest in. He can kick and throw and it amuses him when daddy bounces the ball off his head. Mostly...he just wanted to wander from gate to gate across the yard stepping on rocks, touching the trees, sitting in the dirt, and trying to see into the neighbor's yard. I follow him around. He thinks my explanations for things are ridiculous. "That pointy stuff on the tree is called bark. Not like our doggy barks. Tree bark.&…