Saturday, December 22, 2012


A text I got from Ann as I sit right across the room from her:

Sometimes I put frozen veggies on my belly to wake baby up. It's kicking now :) #MidwifeWitchcraft

She ensures that her doctor gave her the okay, but there's something amusing about her torturing our child for the gratification of feeling it move when it's -3 months old...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On Santa, Sandy Hook, and Staying Straightforward

Last Friday, I wanted to share this article about "The Santa Lie", which posits the following:

We raise our kids to be truthful. We teach them about the laws of physics. And then we tell them that nine flying reindeer pull an immortal fat man and his sleigh through the sky so that he can deliver gifts to millions of kids around the world one night a year.

Is it bad that we lie to our kids about Santa?

Santa is something I've struggled with, moreso now with the kid on the way. Much like having to handle the whole god thing in a house with parents (Ann & I) who are atheists and grandparents who are not, the Santa thing is a little complicated for a lot of reasons, and can be a learning experience at the same time.

Then, with the Sandy Hook shooting last week, it seemed both pithy and also provided another learning opportunity for me as well as handling the real world in the future.

What prompted it was a Facebook post from a friend who homeschools her daughter. She was talking about how she could pretty much frame it as she wanted, noting just that someone far away did something very bad. It's sensible, after all - she knows her daughter's ability to handle what comes at her, and how to process, and part of the basic point of homeschooling in general is being able to tailor information and learning to the needs and capabilities of the child as opposed to a more one-size-fits-all-ages approach.

Honestly, Sandy Hook left me at a loss in a lot of ways beyond the pure horror and national conversations. It makes you wonder what you're thinking in bringing a kid into a world where such senseless things happen, it makes you wonder if I'm making the right choices in safety for my own family, and so on. But it also makes me wonder how to approach these sorts of issues with my own child. Sandy Hook isn't going to be the last significant tragedy that happens, and if I want to raise a well-informed child, I'm not going to be able to shield him or her from everything. I know every parent deals with this. I just want to get it right the first time.

One thing I had to cope with growing up was my parents hiding bad things from me when the truth probably would have done better. I don't fault them for trying to do their best for me in this regard at all - after all, "your uncle is sick" is a lot easier to deal with than "your uncle has cancer" - but when you become a teenager and they don't want you to know the extent of what's up with your grandmother, it can be frustrating regardless of intent. Again, no fault, no blame - just not what I want to do.

There's an extended post in me regarding religion and how Ann and I hope to deal with it coming down the pike eventually. But with Santa being the good thing that we acceptably lie to children about with no real ill effects, it's difficult about how all these different things intersect. I doubt my child will need to know the worst of the worst any earlier than they can handle it. I'm sure that, if Ann and I decide to go along with the Santa thing, that we'll handle the eventual reveal with the same type of respect and dignity as we would anything else.

It's simply interesting to me how the events of the last few days speak to the increasing complicated issue of honesty with kids. It feels completely wrong to connect the tragedy with something as innocuous as Christmas, but the way it speaks to the same idea is a strange one that I wasn't expecting.

And, certainly, part of that guilt I'm feeling is knowing that, for many of those parents from Sandy Hook, they're not going to have that opportunity anymore. It makes me want to fast forward to March and give our little spawn a big hug and be thankful that he or she is in our world at all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Risks Worth Taking

I found this post from Teacher Tom to be really inspiring.

In the real world, young children are capable of assessing many of their own risks, but only if they've had the chance to practice; only if they're well versed in the art of critical thinking and not the habits of mere obedience. An adult who commands, "Don't slide down that banister!" might be keeping a child safe in that moment, but is also, at the same time, robbing him of a chance to think for himself, which makes him that much less safe in the future when no one is there to tell him what to do. Better to state the facts ("If you slide down that banister you might get hurt.") and let him practice thinking things through for himself, to consider the possible consequences of his actions, to assess his own risks, to ask himself, "Is this a risk worth taking?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Naming Rights

While we won't be naming our child Hashtag, the naming of our future spawn has so far been the most difficult thing for us on a number of levels. We're running into a lot of problems, frankly, and we're still trying to figure out how to solve them.

Among the issues:

* My father's side of the family is massive. My father is the youngest of 14, 12 of them lived long enough to have children, and those children have children now. Some of those children's children have children. This means a lot of names are taken. We could duplicate names without a big problem, but who can say for sure?

* We're a little too well-read. Literally every name one of us comes up with, the other can come up with a reference to attach it to, often with hilarious consequences. We're all a little bitter that Twilight has ruined Bella/Isabella/Isobel for us, and our leading boy name right now is also the name of a child in a well-known movie and a famous author.

The reality is that we'll have to settle on something and that something will have a reference no matter what. That doesn't mean we have to like it, though, but it does help cull the list a bit.

* We're really good at girl names and really bad at boy names. We had a boy name in mind that we've since had to discard for unfortunate reasons, but the one that we have now? That's...pretty much it. And we like the name a lot, but it's one thing to like a name and another to default to it, and I don't want to feel like, if we have a boy, we've defaulted on a name. Plus, we don't have a middle name yet. Whee!

On the girl side, though, we already have a middle name (I'm being a bit of a dictator about it, and Ann's letting me have that one piece), but we have a ton of names in mind and can't really settle on just one. I have a few favorites as she does, and we've already discarded a few, such as the Isabelle Variations and Pella, which I (surprise surprise) read in a book (The Art of Fielding, if you care) and loved, but is also the name of a window company. When we mentioned the name to a few friends, they all said "like the window company?" So that's out.

(On a side note, I hope that, if we have a girl, she becomes a musician and names her band The Isabelle Variations.)

So we're not settled on anything yet. It's been a pretty funny road so far, emailing different ideas and such. We're also taking suggestions - we're looking for quirky and fun without being ridiculous and hipster. Traditional with a twist is good (Ann has a baby name site bookmarked and she spent a little more time in "Steampunk Names" than I'm ultimately comfortable with), but at the end of the day, we want our kid to have a name that will really highlight the type of kid we hope s/he'll be at the end of the day.

Otherwise, maybe we'll have to name it Hashtag after all...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Odds and Ends

Ann had another ultrasound yesterday. I didn't go to this one, and it's probably best that I didn't, given that she wasn't terribly pleased with her technician, who took most of the measurements with the screen turned away, ostensibly so that the gender wouldn't be revealed. It means she missed out on all the fun of seeing the little guy moving around and such, and didn't get a good face photo.

It resulted in tears at Target in part due to the experience, and in part due to the fact that she apparently wanted to eat every cookie there. So on one hand, sadness. On the other, hey, cookies.

The first ultrasound was strange for me, as a lot of this has been for me so far - it's as if my job is completely done in this and now I'm just the dutiful husband who provides emotional support until the little guy decides to join us. As someone who has a "fixer" type personality, I spend a lot of time feeling helpless as all sorts of stuff goes on. I just want to hit the fast forward button a bit, but that's not how it works.

And yet we're still on the back end of this. Four more months!


So now for some funnier stuff. Ann (and she's fine with me posting this) started lactating a few weeks ago. At first it was just a little, but she was just leaky leaky leaky putting the Christmas tree up. She plans to breastfeed, and I'm happy about that - I'm not totally convinced of the "breastfeeding is the best way period and you're setting your child up for failure if you do formula" mindset, but I think it's a good thing and I'm glad Ann agrees.

Let's be honest, though. NOTHING up to this point has grossed me out as much as this did.

I don't know if it was the visual, or just the fact that I figured that they, like, switched on following birth or something, but I assume my complete and total lack of preparation for that probably contributed to my immediate discomfort. It's something I'll get over (it's not like I have a choice), but hey.

Progress, though: I offered her a band-aid!


A postscript to the lactation thing: my mother wasn't too pleased with the trimming of the tree - apparently she's an Alzheimer's sufferer who hates Christmas now - but Ann was talking about reading stories where pregnant women begin lactating at the sound of babies crying, and it turns out that her body might actually just end up forming an association with my mother yelling at her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ann on Parenting

I haven't been neglecting this blog for any other reason than I've been super-busy the last few weeks, but Ann resent me a Facebook post she did regarding the type of parent she wants to be and some of her inspirations. It's even more relevant now, so those who missed it the first time around can take a look. I also threw it behind the jump here for those who can't see it on Facebook:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

So Ann came downstairs in tears last night...

...and she was beside herself.  But even then, there was a hint of a grin on her face, but mostly mortified fear.

Apparently, she felt the baby's foot for the first time. This, however, was not a moment of joy, but rather one of sheer terror. No, this was not a great moment, but a gross one.  It's pretty much great for other people, but for her, well...

The baby apparently takes after its mother - like Ann, it has an apparent hair of running in place while laying down if the ultrasounds are any indication.  That Ann gets to feel what I put up with from her every night?

I have to laugh.  It's a moment, a milestone. And it made my wife want to throw up.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why We're Not Finding Out

We had the first ultrasound where we could find out the gender of our little spawn last week. We didn't take advantage.

Unscientific polls of people we know suggest it's about 50/50 on people who want/wanted to know and those who did not when it came to their little people. The one universal constant is how sure everyone is when it comes down to their way being the way it should be done. At the end of the day, though, it ultimately comes down to two reasons: one fun, and one practical.

* On a fun level, we live in New England, which means babies get Red Sox stuff. If it's a little girl, we'd like to avoid the pink stuff as much as possible. It's kind of silly, yes, and it's not so much that we're at all concerned with gender roles and expectations or whatever. It's just that pink Red Sox stuff is a little obnoxious.

* On a more practical level, our friend Mark put it pretty well: this is one of the last big surprises we can have as a couple. Perhaps as human beings period. Why not enjoy it for what it is, and have a blast with it anyway?

After all, if it's a girl, everyone will buy it pink stuff then anyway.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I hope my future kid is this cool

Omaha schoolgirl dresses as a different historical figure each day:
The Dundee Elementary School third-grader comes to school dressed as a different historical figure or character — Every. Single. Day. And she's done that since the second day of second grade, when this all started.
I'm impressed by this in part because the kid is so darn smart, but also because her parents not only go along with it, but actually foster it. And good on the school - and the kids at school - for accepting it and working with it.

I know this is a lot like what Ann & I hope to be with our kid. Maybe it won't dress up like a historical figure, but if they have a passion and we're able to facilitate it, I think that will go a long way toward our being successful parents.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Big Reveal...

So after waiting and waiting, and, frankly, after 7 weeks of just insane amounts of work for me, we did the announcement on the Facebook and such yesterday.

What's interesting is just how funny it is to let people know. It was likely different before there was an unspoken expectation to share basic important life things all the time - you told people when you saw them, and you maybe called them if you remembered. Today, you're trying to keep track of the people who aren't on Facebook, and the family members who are and might leak the information early, and the people who you want to tell in person so they don't find out on Facebook.

With our life as it is, it's difficult. We see people when we see people, and not a moment before. We try to schedule times to see them, it doesn't always work. Then you're coming up on the point where Ann's starting to show a little bit and it's an open secret and you just have to dive right in.

Most people understand. If there are people who do not, they thankfully haven't been vocal about it, and hopefully they're getting there. But the "starved for positive attention" sides of us really generally loved getting a lot of positive comments from people on what ended up being a hard day for us this past weekend. As difficult as it is managing online and offline life and etiquette when it comes to pregnancy stuff, it turned out a lot better than what our overall concerns were.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Life With Pregnant Ann.

Today, we got the first ultrasound images.

Jeff: "You're baking quite the bun in your oven!"
Ann: "With cheesy crust?"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Expectations and Reality

At around this time, we've known that we're pregnant for about a week now. Some weird things about observing pregnancy:

* Pregnancy math, or the idea that conception is backdated a certain way due to cycles and such. I still don't understand it, to be fair, but it's not really my role to figure that out anyway.

* Telling people and not telling people: Traditionally, because so many things could go wrong, people don't tell other people until a certain point in the pregnancy. What Ann told me, and with the understanding that 72% of statistics are made up on the spot, is that, by far, most pregnancies don't have any problems. Something like 9 out of 10 are fine after the crucial first month or so. On one hand, it makes the waiting game feel kind of silly, but, on the other, who doesn't know someone who's miscarried? It's a tough thing to balance.

So, of course, we struggle to figure out when to tell people. Obviously, we have to share it with the immediate family we live with because, in the event something does go wrong, they're going to be witness to it. But what about the fact that we only see Ann's family every so often? Or that we're going on vacation with some close friends, and Ann can't drink? It's especially touchy in the internet/Facebook age - I know full well that people I want to have know early simply won't until they see it on Facebook, and that kind of stinks. But this is the world we live in.

* I'm helpless: Seriously. Ann's morning all day sickness kicked in fairly quickly, and all I can do is feed her peppermint gum and watch her suffer until this passes. I can't force her to do more in any area, but I want to make sure she's eating enough, that she's getting the rest she needs, and there's no way to guarantee that, nor has that ever been our dynamic. Then there's the "mother with Alzheimer's" wild card...

It's a weird place to be in, especially when you're in what amounts to pregnancy limbo. It's not so much a "I want to shout it from the rooftops" type thing as much as "let's get to the next step already..."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's Going On Here?

So this is more of a blog to kind of chronicle what is really quickly the most scary and exciting part of my life - the fact that, in about 8 months, I'm going to be a father.

Some basic notes for newcomers, or those who don't know everything already:

* Home life includes my wife, Ann, Pigeon the cat, Lucy the dog, and our little rugrat-to-be.

* We live in a house with my parents, one of whom is slowly fading away due to Alzheimer's, which is why we're here.

* We have a room that has built in library bookcases, and we own roughly 1900 books, which I'm sure our future spawn will love.

* We live in a small town in Massachusetts. I grew up here, Ann is a transplant.

I'm not going to go into details as to the craziness that is conception itself, but it should be noted that Ann considers herself to be a scientist of sorts because of the amount of research and testing she did to figure out fertility and all that jazz. For everything that she did, it only really took us two months from when we decided this is what we wanted to getting what we were looking for.

Future fatherhood is strange. I've traditionally been one to just share my thoughts, and my goal with this is to keep all my family and friends who are all over the country up to date, as well as be a record to hopefully show my future son or daughter. We'll see how that goes, but having had a desire to do some more long-form writing, this isn't a bad way to do it, either. Blogs are the baby books of the 21st century, right?

Anyway, welcome aboard. Should be an interesting ride...