happy new year!

Who ever invented this whole staying-up-past-midnight thing, anyways? It's pretty brutal. I can barely type straight, and since I didn't even have that much to drink it must all be from the fatigue. At least we played some good games, and at least since we made this year's party a pot-luck affair we ended up with at least as much food as we started with. We won't be going hungry in 2010!

Aside from the eating, we're excited to see what the coming year will bring; we anticipate great things, and you'll be able to read about all of them right here in the squibix family blog, so stay tuned!

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presea(d)son

It's the most magical time of year: the time when the seed catalogs start showing up at our door and offering us tantalizing glimpses of summer bounty. Apparently, anyways; this is the first time we've ever got them. Bulbs, yes, and stupid Gardener's Supply Company (5% good stuff, 95% tacky junk), but never before seeds. This year we've seen Burpee and Territorial Seed Company, and I'm looking forward to more to come! I wonder how they got my name... I can only assume that they recognized my awesome gardening prowess from afar, perhaps by careful examination of satellite footage. What's that? Both catalogs are addressed to Leah? Oh well, I'll take em!

Not that I'll necessarily order from either: you know there are a great many factors we gardeners need to consider when making such important early-season decisions. Last year I went with Pinetree Garden Seeds online, having not received any print catalogs and hearing a good report of their offerings elsewhere. Also, they're in Maine so I know that they're thinking of the cold-weather gardeners of the Northeast—unlike Territorial from Oregon and Burpee from a laboratory in an industrial park in New Jersey. No, not really: they've still got the farm in Pennsylvania where they invented the iceberg lettuce. Hooray.

Then of course I could start worrying about the provenance of my seeds. If I'm concerned that they're all ultimately being produced by huge faceless corporations whose names start with "M" and end with "onsanto", I can always order from Freedom Seeds. That's the outfit set up by the fine folks at Path to Freedom, who know what they're talking about when it comes to small-scale farming.

Unlike me. So I'll probably end up doing just what I did last year and throw darts at the nearest catalog. Who knows, I might hit an apple tree!

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walloped

a picture (sorry, that's all we got for now)

Plans were interrupted today. It was snow and sickness that did it simultaneously: not too too much snow, but very much too much sickness, and all of it in Leah. She'll tell you about that.

The sickness affected me because I was up all night taking care of her and the baby, as needed. Also we were going to spend the morning with Tom and Nelly, who are heading home tomorrow, but that was obviously out of the question with Leah unable to even raise her head off the pillow before noon. Just as well, though, because it would have been tough driving getting down to Cambridge for 9:30 church. That's when the snow was falling hardest, and it didn't really let up until noon either. About a foot in total, which isn't much considering it was coming down pretty much consistently starting the evening of the first. Rascal enjoys it.

Grandma took Harvey for several hours in the afternoon so I could nap, but I didn't. I did take Rascal for another walk, and I did go biking—had to see what the conditions were like for tomorrow! I discover that I can not easily—I mean, at all—get through snow deeper than about three inches with the wheels and muscles that I have. Happily Lexington is already plowed out, and my bike is inside cleaned and oiled, so transportation-wise I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow. Mentally? Not so much. Maybe some sleep will fix that.

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sooo sick

I went to bed last night everything fine, and then I woke with a start at midnight with that feeling. THAT feeling. No, not that one, what type of a blog do you think you're reading? What I woke up with was the feeling that, oh gee, I'm gonna puke.

From that dreadful start I proceeded to vomit or otherwise visit the facilities every fifteen minutes for the next five hours. Ugh. I'm tired just thinking of it. At about six in the morning, when the constant parade of bodily evacuation finally seemed at its end, I looked at Dan and said, "This was much worse than giving birth."

And he was like, "Oh yeah. Way worse."

You may wonder where I picked up a 24-hour stomach bug, seeing as I hardly leave the house these days. Well, like every other optimist in this new year I went to the gym yesterday. And there I lifted weights and pushed all kinds of buttons on the treadmill and most likely came into contact with hundreds of millions of bacteria, one of which managed to lodge itself in my gut and turn itself into a volcano.

But the gym you say, that's the pantheon of health. No, I think the word that you're looking for is paragon.

Anyway, thanks to the overall dehydration I'm down to my goal weight, so there's my new years resolution done. The rest of 2010: sleeping.

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me too

Perhaps inevitably, I got the sickness for myself today. I made it in to work this morning—it was a beautiful ride—but started feeling sickish within a half-hour of arriving. I tried to tough it out, but when I began having trouble standing upright I figured it might be time to see the nurse. Needless to say, my coworkers agreed. Lying on the vinyl bed down there and getting my temperature taken brought back the memories, I can tell you... as did getting picked up by my mom! No temperature as it happened, but it's just as well that I went home, because there was some vomiting done; always much nicer in your own bathroom, I think.

I'm feeling somewhat better now, but only as long as I don't try and lift my head off the pillow. So no work tomorrow either, and they weren't surprised when I called in to make that official. But Wednesday I'll be as good as new again.

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mom and dad look like they got hit by trucks, but the baby's good

It's now over 24 hours since Dan stopped throwing up, and we've managed to wash all the sheets and aerate the bedroom. During this time Harvey hasn't so much as batted an uncomfortable eyelash. Well, he did complain the day away over a new tooth but that's another story; he hasn't made any indication that projectile vomiting is in his future, which means that we've dodged the bullet by not giving Harvey the stomach flu. Hurray!

Now just as long as I never eat anything other than pasta and never leave the house again, we should be home free for the rest of the winter!

good (sort of) neighbors

To be clear, the parenthetical in the title is meant to modify "neighbors", not "good". Got it?

Because this evening, we got a phone call from someone whose name we didn't recognize, but it was a local number so I picked up. The other end of the line was someone looking for Harvey, or at least wondering if there was a Harvey at this number. Somewhat startling to me, as I don't expect the baby to be taking calls for at least another couple months, but there was a logical explanation: this gentleman had received a package for a Harvey Archibald, delivered in error to his address by Federal Express.

That made sense, once he told me his own address. It's only one letter different from our own, and we've gotten his mail before—or at least it would have been his mail if he and his family had lived at that address at that time. In that case, though, it was the post office's fault: their machines misread the addresses. This time our correspondent actually wrote the wrong street name on the label. So this kind fellow took the trouble to call FedEx in puzzlement, and then (either from them or by looking in the local phone book, I forgot to ask which) find us and give us a call. He even offered to drive the package over! But I told him I already knew the way to his house, so I'd come get it.

So I got to meet him and his family, which was nice because they've got a story to top any mis-delivered mail: the school bus driver once tried to drop their younger daughter off at our address here instead of her own. Now that we know each other, I've promised to send her right home if that ever happens again.

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how do you turn off the light?

We received a home movie camera from my mom and dad this December, and as with any new technology there is a bit of a learning curve in the usage. I was playing around with the camera on new years eve, and when I finally downloaded the footage I was rather appalled at how much my videoing style (and the sound of my voice over the recording) mimic that of my mothers in home movies of yore. They recently converted all their VHS tapes to DVD, and now they have hours upon hours of quick pan shots of the floor with a high pitched voice over of "How do you work this thing?"

With that introduction, I've cut together a portion of my New Years video to give you guys a better idea of what I'm talking about. Please enjoy at my expense.


a little achievement

It's no Iditarod Trail on a bike, sure, but we have to start small. That's what I did this afternoon when I braved the unplowed portion of the bikepath for the first time since last weekend's snow. It was just the thing to counteract the first part of the ride, into a stiff wind, because I was going so slow that wind resistance was not in any way a factor. Instead, all I had to do was to steer a straight line along the packed-down portion of the trail, about a foot wide, and when I messed that up and swerved off to one side or another keep the pedals turning until I could lurch my way back. Pretty hard-core, I can tell you. Plus it was such a beautiful afternoon that I was down to my short-sleeves by the end. And here people worry about me getting cold.

gonna be friends

As in any relationship, there are ups and downs between Rascal and Harvey. At the beginning Rascal leapt to Harvey's protection, relishing his new adult role in the pack. He acted very much the big brother, checking the baby often as he slept to make sure that the little guy was safe. Then Harvey grew into a "grab everything" phase, and now Rascal sees him as a fur-pulling terror and growls every time he comes near.

Well, we're entering a new phase in the relationship now with the introduction of baby food. I think it will do wonders for our familial integrity. This footage was caught yesterday morning.

a winter weekend

It was pretty cold here this weekend, so sitting around reading about winter biking in the Alaskan wilderness was just the thing to do. That way, when I bundled up to go out with the dog I could identify with Jill Homer and her experience peddling from Nikolai to McGrath in windchill temperatures of 60 below... yeah man, I really know what that's like! Need to make sure I have my scarf and everything. Also, Leah and I both feel like we can identify with Jill Homer in that we're totally able to write a book, too. All we have to do is find something to write about. Any suggestions?

Reading was of course not all I did this weekend; we also had a brunch today. More importantly, I managed to completely forget about the American-type football playoffs ongoing yesterday and today until they were nearly all over, and then continue to not pay any attention to them once I did remember. Which is pretty good, because I have been informed that my local team performed rather poorly. Ha ha, suckers, if I don't watch, I don't care! This no tv thing is pretty awesome. I bet Jill Homer doesn't watch tv either!

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now I don't want to sound desperate, but

I promise I won't do it more than once a month, but it's time again to make an impassioned plea for comments. We crave validation, you have to understand. And I don't mean private validation like sending us a very nice email, or telling us in church how much you liked a particular video—public validation. That way not only will we know how awesome you think we are, but everybody else'll know as well. Then they'll, you know, start to feel that it's ok to admire us that much too, and they'll start commenting as well. But somebody's got to break the ice here.

What is going on up there?

Our neighbors have apparently purchased a wii fit and installed it in their upstairs rec-room. Either that, or they've leased the space to the US Government as part of a test program for enhanced interrogation techniques.

Being awake with a baby at 5am while you stare listlessly out the window can be an isolating experience. It should make me feel better to know that someone else is up at this hour, practicing kickboxing. For some reason, let's call it former-athlete-turned-mommy-guilt, it doesn't make me feel better.

winter dreams of summer

the Acadia Park map on the coffee table

planning and dreaming

For some reason we started thinking about this summer's camping trip much much earlier than usual. Maybe it's the extra-cold weather, maybe it's the postcard the campground sent us, but it's definitely on our minds. Mine especially.

I've been going through the old photos lately, and I got out the map of Acadia to try and puzzle out where we were in the various hiking shots. Our documentation is not the best, despite big plans and promises every year. Wouldn't it be nice to record when we've taken a particular trail, and what it's like, so that we can repeat the ones we like and avoid the ones we don't? It sounds so easy, doesn't it.

Some images from years past:

Leah and Harvey hiking down in the mist

down the stairs from South Bubble

Leah Dan and Rascal on top of Pemetic in 2008

a family photo from when our family was 3

heading down in the woods

really diggin my brand-new pack

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Let's walk and talk

Before we had Harvey we were an only-child family. The only child was Rascal, our sweet good dog who commands so much love and attention in our family that he may as well have emerged panting from my very womb.

In the days before Harvey I very much enjoyed my morning walk with Rascal. I still do, but these days it takes a bit longer to prepare the whole expedition team for our morning constitutional. In case you're venturing a zero-degree adventure with your pup and 6-month-old, here are the steps:

First the baby gets changed and clothed in something fleecy with feet. Then I lay his snowsuit on the chair and put him on top of it, but not in the snowsuit because the time in which his thumbs are unavailable must be compressed as much as possible to approach zero. Then I put on my boots (if I've slept in long-johns and put pants over them) or my snow-pants and then my boots (if I'm only wearing one layer). This ends phase 1: preliminary preparations, and begins phase 2: we're really doing this, quit barking at me, we're getting there. I fasten the ergo baby carrier around my waste and then zip the baby into his snow suit. He doesn't like the part where he's zipped up, and may cry until he's lifted high in the air and cooed at and strapped into the ergo carrier. Then we all breath a sigh of relief that that's over, and enter phase 3: outer-outer-wear. I put my down coat over both of us and I use a scarf as a belt to keep it tight around his arms. I find his hat and my hat (hopefully I found them before we started, since visibility is impaired somewhat by the baby front-pack) and I tie on his hat, then mine, then slip my gloves in my pocket, reassure that dog that we're REALLY going this time, and put on his collar and leash.

Sometimes I forget to put a fleece layer under my coat and then when we get outside I notice the wind whipping against my chest and neck. On these days I feel pretty stupid and we cut the walk short. Sometimes I forget a second layer on my legs and the effect is similar. In the fall there were days when I walked out of the house without my hat or gloves, but I learned that lesson quick.

I am constantly amazed by the dog and his ability to walk through a sixty-degree differential like it's no big thing. He looks at me as I'm tearing apart the living room to assemble our expedition gear and he's like, "Humans.... I just don't get it."

After several months of cold weather walking, I'm just starting to get to the point where this morning routing feels doable and not like some tortuous dance of the dead. It seems that most of the exhaustion and ill-humor I've experienced as a new mothers is really just due to the incredible amount of mental energy it takes to problem solve regular life. Like, I used to know how to get dressed to walk out the door... how do I do it while holding an infant? This takes more mental engineering than you think. Do it wrong and you risk provoking a screaming baby, or getting frostbite on your ears, or the dog peeing on the furniture. These considerations are not negligible. It's not just lack of sleep that makes new moms so tired.

But not at least I can say that I've got the morning walk down. This skill is firmly in my toolkit. Expert Dog Walker. Can I put it on my resume?

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now playing

a picture (sorry, that's all we got for now)

So just because we're no longer slaves to the evils of television doesn't mean we don't watch good shows from time to time. Leah stuck with Glee for a while, for example. The past couple days I've been very much enjoying the Discovery Channel program Toughest Race on Earth: Iditarod; after reading about cycling the Iditarod trail I naturally wanted to know about doing it the original way, and my researches led me to the program. Even though it features the same overwrought narration as The Deadliest Catch, it's progenitor in every possible way, it's well worth watching for the combination of athletic competition and cute cute puppies. Especially since I've managed to avoid checking to see how the 2008 race came out.

I guess the program itself aired back in the fall of 2008, so it's a little too late to catch it on the tv; if you're at all interested, though, I recommend it highly, so fire up your Netflix or Bittorrent or whatever method it is you employ to get tv shows delivered direct to you. I'm seeding!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch the last episode. Gotta catch the thrilling conclusion!

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Saturday Napping

It's been a difficult week for sleeping in our household. All of a sudden Harvey has decided he's having none of this forced night-time immobility dictated by the man. He'll play and eat whenever he damn wants to thankyouverymuch, even if that's for several hours starting at midnight.

In these tough soporific times, I look especially forward to Saturday afternoon. Even the good Lord rested on the seventh day, so we can expect some wearing-out point for a six-month old. And then, oh blissful then, there is peace throughout the land for mommas and puppies.

everybody napping

sleepytime

Happy Saturday!

like it's 1999

On Saturday night we attended a cool-kid party with our young friends (Happy Birthday Amy!!!) which featured card games and staying up past our bed-time and immense amount of sugary candy. Since we normally live as chemical-deprived ascetics, Dan and I fell pray to the temptation of pre-packaged treats, devouring york patties and M&Ms and rice-krispy treats covered in neon-blue frosting. Then we drove to pick up our baby all the while licking our lips and wincing and saying,

"Do you have a bad taste in your mouth?"
"Bad taste, my teeth are sizzling in decay."
"That frosting was to much. Food doesn't come in that color."
"I feel like my tongue took a Roofie."
"My teeth are like fuzzy. I didn't think teeth could get that dirty."
"Why isn't there a sink and toothbrush in this car?"
"If I had one dream it would be to be brushing my teeth RIGHT NOW!"

Then we picked up the baby, and as we drove home we continued our conversation on the unpleasantness of sugar in our mouths. In total I think we spent 45 minutes on the topic. Well, that and imagining what was happening at the party in our absence.

"I bet they're still eating and playing games."
"I bet they stay up till MIDNIGHT at it."

Oh God. We are so old.

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there's no biking like snow biking

... for falling off the bike, that is. Seriously, it's been years since I had any trouble staying upright, but that's all changed now that I'm trying to ride in the snow.

Today I took advantage of the warmer temperatures and diminished snowpack to visit some of the local trails for the first time since the fall. I had fun, but I can't say that I looked particularly graceful out there. I fell off several times, once just catching the bike before it fell into a pond, and I had to get off and push for about half of the ground I covered. I even fell twice while walking, which is kind of embarrassing. Still, there were small triumphs: on the third try I made it down one long stretch without falling, I managed to go up one or two hills, and once I finally got started I was able to pedal through three or four inches of wet grainy snow covering the frozen surface of the old reservoir. Also, back on the roads for the ride home everything felt so easy! Good times.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don't forget this part:

It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here! It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

He'd been to the mountaintop.

new routine

Yesterday evening I fed Harvey a dinner made of rice gruel and boiled carrots (yum!), gave him a bath (he wants to sit up in the tub now!) and put him to bed. I'd never done all three things in one evening before, and for the first time I had a vision of an real evening routine, a rhythm of parenthood like I had always imagined.

With a baby it can feel like a crazy free-for-all all the time - you never know when the eating or sleeping or messing will occur, and it's all about surviving on to the next moment. But as Harvey approaches 7 months we can start to see glimpses of the little boy he's becoming. He plays, he gets context, he has an attention span for activities and he wants to be involved. And around him a family life is taking shape that's not just about caring for him but sharing with him the excitement and mundanity of every day together.

On Sunday night he drifted off to sleep next to me, his hair smelling of soap, his breath smelling of milk. It's an understatement to say it, but I love that little guy.

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Your child has a perfect score in irritating me

It seems that the transference of mothering instinct, in as much as that term refers to delight in the presence of other children, is limited in its scope. Last weekend at church I was delighted to pay with Harvey and another 9-month-old. While in the play area I looked out for another 18-month-old and made sure he got the toys he was routing for, but I quickly tired of the 2 and 4 year olds stepping over Harvey and treading too close to his fingers. They did not receive benevolent glances. And the 6 year old on the verge of a tantrum? I gave him the evil eye.

It got me thinking of a possible equation to explain this phenomenon. Clearly the delight I experience in your child decreases as the distance from his age and Harvey's increases. And I do like children generally, but less so when they're potentially dangerous to my little guy. So without collecting any data, I'd say that

My delight in your child = (some coefficient)the number of months distance between your child's age and my child's age - (some coefficient)the ability of your child to harm my child

But wait, upon re-read there are several problems with that equation.

The first is that it's not scalable. As my child gets older, I'm likely to continue to be delighted by children under his age, if only for the sake of nostalgia. Children at his age will continue to be cute and understandable in their motivations, but children older will continue to be irritating. So we'd need to change that part of the equation to be uni-directional, so only older children are annoying but not younger.

= (some coefficient)(your child's age in months - my child's age in months) - (some coefficient)the ability of your child to harm my child

The other problem with this equation is the possibility of collinearity between the age difference among our children (let's call it olderness) and your child's ability to harm my child (call it harminess). Obviously, as your child gets older his harming ability increases, so that olderness and harminess move in a collinear relationship. But it would be misleading to say that harminess is merely a factor of olderness, because harminess increases with factors unconnected to age, such as your child's inclination to harm my child (anger, sociopathic tendencies, bad parenting) or your child's enhanced ability to harm my child, such as whether he's wearing soccer cleats or carrying a big stick.

Also, is your child visibly ill? Germs add to harminess too. Indeed, we could come up for a seperate equation for harminess where

harminess = inclination to harm + weaponry + illness

So that our whole equation would read

Delight = coeff(olderness) - coeff(harminess)

and since we're subtracting all of harminess, the equation would break out into

My delight in your child = (some coefficient)(your child's age in months - my child's age in months) - (some coefficient)(your child's inclination to harm my child - weaponry - illness)

The more I think about this, the less it looks like a linear equation. I like your child more if he's closer in age to mine, but not so much that a perfect score in age would cancel out a charging sociopath with head cold. Indeed, if little snot-nose Samson is in the play pen with soccer cleats, then there's no measure of age empathy that will make me like him. Similarly if he's carrying H1N1. Which means perhaps that illness is not part of harminess and deserves its own coefficient.

And while we're at it, there are a myriad other variables that could improve the overall r-squared of the equation. Some ranking of the physical appearance of the child, vis-a-vis cuteness would certainly help. Also, am I in charge of your child at the time of measurement? Or are you, the momma, nearby? Do I like you, the momma? How much are you paying attention to the stick in your child's hand?

So there's still some flushing out to do with the math, and I think a trial observation might be in order to troubleshoot with some real data. I mean, an observation on other people and their germy nasty children.

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Brown vs bored

So we had a little senate race in Massachusetts today, you may have heard about it. Even my anarchist husband, who has voted green/rainbow in the past several elections, came out with me today to cast a democratic vote. Yes, the situation was so desperate that even Dan acted like a pragmatist. And yet to no avail.

Imagine... The speaker recognizes the republican senator from Massachusetts...

It is a bummer because we want better health care coverage in this country, and this will impair the passage of the current health care legislation. On the other hand, the current package in the senate isn't any better than the craptacular health care law that we have in Massachusetts now, a law which seems to do nothing for us but fine the uninsured. If Dan were to lose his job, we could choose to pay $600 a month on Cobra, or $300 a month in fines to the state. I think I missed the good news part.

So I'm totally over the stupid senate and their stupid legislation. Don't pass your lame half-assed healthcare mandate. Do your own health care! Steal your medicine! Don't reform the prisons, let the prisoners revolt.

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Whence Hope?

The Economist blog declared Scott Brown the winner at 2:36 this morning, and asked for 2010 predictions in the comments. The feedback was not encouraging. One commenter wrote:

In no event will rancor between the parties decrease. Unless Jesus comes back to convince them to play nice.

True enough. Although I do imagine that when Jesus comes back it will somewhat lessen our need for healthcare reform.

Thinking about hope and faith and healthcare this morning got me remembering a story. A few days after Harvey was born I had some swelling in a private region of my private region, and the midwife determined that what was necessary was a shot of cortisone. This isn't exactly street-level stuff, at least not if you live on a street in Bedford, so she told me to go find a doctor to prescribe it. She could administer the shot, but as a home-birth midwife she can't actually get the medicine because blah blah blah this country sucks. Anyway, after bypassing the medical industrial complex for my entire pregnancy I suddenly had to go begging for someone for a shot in my hoo-ha.

First I called my regular gynecologist, the one I hadn't seen for over 10 months, and let's just say that she was not happy with my request. If you're brave enough to give birth at home you must also prepare yourself for getting yelled at. A lot. Plan B was the ER, so Dan and I prepared ourselves. We packed books, lunches, diapers for the baby, and headed over to our local hospital.

I presented myself to the admitting desk. "I gave birth three days ago and I have swelling in my la-la-la." She looked at me with a completely blank face, stared for a few seconds, and then said, "Go talk to the nurse. Around the corner."

I entered the ER proper through the large double doors and looked around for a nurses' station. There was a desk with a few ladies in scrubs standing around, so I addressed myself to them. "The woman at the desk told me to come here. I gave birth three days ago and I have swelling in my la-la-la." They looked at me blankly. "Ummmm," one of them said, "You'll need to talk to a nurse."

They called over another woman who was walking down the hall. "This lady wants to speak to a nurse" they said.

(Not to interrupt the story too much, but maybe a start to reforming healthcare in this country would be implementing an actual procedure of admitting patients to the ER... I'm no process expert myself, but this sort of thing might help as a time-saving measure.)

"I'm a nurse," the woman boasted, her chest puffing out in front of her as she sauntered over. It was as if we had called for Superman.

"I gave birth three days ago and I have swelling in my la-la-la," I said.

"Oh Brother!" she sighed. She looked me over like I was toxic. "Okay," she said with another big sigh. "Let's get this girl a room."

That's why people go into nursing I hear, because they loooove helping sick people. No, I'm just kidding! It's because they can't get into college.

"My husband is here with the baby, I'll have to get them," I said.

"WHAT???" She exploded. "You brought a newborn to the hospital? Tell them to get out of here right now!"

"Um..."

"Go tell them to go home! Then you come back here! This is no place for a newborn!"

(Not to interrupt again, but does anyone else see the irony here? I AGREE that a hospital is no place for a newborn, that's why I didn't give birth to one there.)

Anyway, here was my predicament. Three know-nothings inexplicably dressed in scrubs and Superman over-burdened the nurse wanted to put me in a room for an undisclosed amount of time, separating me from my three-day-old baby who needed breast milk every hour.

I walked back through the doors of the ER and into the empty waiting room. Dan was sitting there reading a book with a sleeping Harvey in his car seat. To protect from ambient germs, the car seat was covered in a linen blanket like a giant face mask for the whole contraption.

"Let's go," I said.

We went out to the car and called the midwife. "I'll lie down all day, I'll ice it, I'll apply salts. Can I please just go home?" She heard the trembling in my voice and she told me I could give it another day and reevaluate tomorrow. We drove back through Concord with the sleeping baby in the back. Diaper bag still stacked with fresh diapers. Wrapped up sandwiches uneaten. I bit my lip and felt like a moron.

We pulled into the driveway and turned off the car. Dan came around to my side to open the door for me. "Our hope is built on nothing less," he started humming "than Jesus Christ and God's goodness." The rest of the hymn continues: "I shall not trust the sweetest frame, but only rest on Jesus' name."

It's true. We know that home birth is medically safe - we have hard evidence. But we also know that medical evidence isn't the be-all end-all understanding of the universe. And that's the real reason we chose to begin our family far away from the judging eyes of nurses. They're not the ones who can bring life from death, even if they do think they're superman.

The chorus of the song goes: "On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."

The next day the swelling was gone.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to make anyone think that the way out of our nation's health care crisis is to voluntarily forgo medical treatment when nurses are bitchy. It's a different comparison that I was drawing in my brain. Everyone was so hopeful that healthcare reform would get passed, but then the politicians all mucked it up like they normally do, and the bill got watered down like it normally does, and now we've elected another republican to the senate which makes it less likely that even the crap version will stay in tact. And yet, are we that surprised? That the two-party system failed us? That something sucky happened in politics?

It's a bit early to look to the end of the age for help, what with so many politicians unsaved and all. But it's not too soon to put hope in a good repository of hope. It's worked out before. And so, at the commenters urging, I will ask Jesus to inspire our politicians to make nice with each other.

After all, if a little prayer can alleviate swelling in your normal every-day pussy, it shouldn't take much longer for the ones in congress.

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A beautiful baby

It just so happens that Harvey is the most attractive baby on the face of the earth. I know this because last night I took him to the doctor to get him checked for an ear infection, and when she looked in his ear she said "Oh what a pretty ear! A picture-perfect ear. That ear could be in a medical text book!"

I'm not making that up. Harvey is perfect in every way. Except, you know, that he's been grabbing at his ears without any underlying medical cause. Soooo he's great looking but maybe a bit crazy.

Can't say where he gets that from!

in which I finally comment on the election last Tuesday

It was ironic—or at least darkly amusing—that Tuesday's ill-fated election came the day after Martin Luther King Day. At least in the public schools, MLK Day is a celebration of the purest idealism: Dr. King fought the all evils of the land while preaching love and non-violence, and he died a martyr's death to ensure that all his dreams for Americans would come true. You too, children, can change the world through the purity of your belief! Or you can vote for Martha Coakley because she's not a Republican.

Some folks must like Coakley, because I'm told she won some sort of "primary" election a couple months ago; I don't know, I wasn't paying attention. By general election time, however, I couldn't find anyone who would confess to it. Plenty who told me I was crazy for contemplating staying away from the polls, sure—including my darling wife—but none who argued that Coakley was anything more than a sure vote for national health insurance reform.

Only, the Democrats' prior behavior doesn't suggest to me that it would actually have mattered that much. First, as Leah pointed out, the plan under consideration isn't really all that hot. Maybe better than nothing, but not by much. Second, I may be crazy but it really doesn't look to me like anyone in power actually wants to see any sort of reform pass. Why not? It seems to me it must be one of two things. Either the legislators feel that their constituents are opposed to reform, and fear angering them by pushing for it, or they are completely under the control of lobbyists with a vested interest in the current system. Or maybe both!

Certainly, there are alot of people in the country who have been expressing their concern about the reform agenda. Plenty of commentators have tried to explain why this might be, either crowing about the wisdom of the common American or castigating him for acting against his own economic self-interest. The only thing I can think of is that too many Americans are dumb as posts, but that's hardly a polite nor an egalitarian idea, so I will refrain from expressing it too vigorously in public. Happily, I am removed from too much distress at the situation by my firm conviction that we get the government and the laws that we deserve: if the people don't want healthcare reform, they won't get it! And that's fair. And I will either watch happily for the signs of revolution when the long-term impact of that choice begin to hit home, or silently admit that I was wrong and enjoy whatever good outcome may arise.

See how much fun it is being a cheerful anarchist? Especially if my family and I manage to stay healthy for the next five to fifteen years.

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administrative note

It has come to my attention that there are people reading this blog. I mean, more people than I thought. Most of them, I assume, come for Leah's insightful and delightful words, rather than my own more pedestrian ones on the subjects of biking and weather. Since I can't restrain myself from posting occasionally on those heads, I would like to point out once again the "author archive" feature that I cleverly hid somewhere on this blog. By accessing the site via this address, you will receive a Leah-only version of the proceedings for your reading pleasure. For those of you who insist on reading—or at least skimming—my stuff too, I'll try and be a little funny from time to time.

Also, hooray and thank you to everyone who's been commenting the past couple weeks or whatever it's been. You're all awesome!

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photos on demand

the beach in Malibu, early morning

valentine's day morning 2004, in Malibu

In response to a certain comment, here is a photo. You may find more at our new-ish photo gallery page, which I built to consolidate in one place, for posterity, all the images on the site—from the blog, as well as Rascal's and Harvey's pages. The integration between all of this is still on-going, but the gallery is there and I'm having fun filling it with pictures—specifically, paging through every one of the 7,821 pictures in my iPhoto library and recalling old times. Not that I'd forgotten everything that's happened in the past six years or so, it just presents a different aspect when viewed in illustrated format!

The image above is from, as the caption has it, Valentine's Day of 2004. Can you believe we've been blogging for that long?! Which reminds me, we have an blogiversary coming up in a couple days; what should we do to celebrate six years on the air?

[An interesting aside: I see that changing time zones translated the posting times for those California posts to Eastern Time. That means that some of them now show up on different days, or even different months, than they were originally posted! Man, we sure stayed up late back in those days.]

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You know I read your blog and I have some advice for you...

Those of you who read this blog religiously, or my facebook updates, or who have seen my disheveled countenance in real life know that Harvey has not been sleeping well as of late. At six months he had been on a nice streak of sleeping eight hours starting at seven pm, waking up for a quick bite to eat, and then sleeping until 6:30 or thereabouts. This was an average, of course. Sometimes it would be a first stretch of six hours with two wake ups after that, but you get the idea. There was solid sleeping. And enough for mom and dad to get some sleeping in there too.

Then something changed a few weeks ago - a switch went off inside Harvey's little brain - and now it's just like having a two-month-old where wake-ups come methodically every two hours. We put him down at seven and he wakes up at nine. Then at twelve. Then at two and four, just to fuck with us. Or he won't even go to sleep at seven... he pushes bedtime closer and closer towards eight and on some inexplicable nights he won't close his eyes until his parent's bedtime at nine pm.

I know just what you're thinking: "This sounds just like blah-blah-blah phenomenon. Leah's life would be better if only I tell her my brilliant diagnosis!" Yes, I've heard lots of suggestions of what I should to to remedy the situation. Change food/nursing combinations, establish a quiet evening routine, drug the kid. And boy howdy, I love it. Because you know what mom's love most? hearing your opinion on how they should parent better.

"Your child would sleep," they say, "if you mix this potion of herbs and rub it on your breast and then turn around three times and sing 'you are getting sleepy' to the tune of here comes the bride but backwards."

Or the other advice favorite, diagnose the problem with your infinite wisdom, and then stare at me benevolently. As if (in very Freudian logic) the diagnosis itself will solve the problem.

He's teething.
He's got gas.
His day is too exciting.
His day isn't exciting enough.
He's just going into a different phase.

A different phase? Oh I hadn't noticed. What with my uppity career I'm only in charge of him sixteen hours a day... that's obviously not enough time to know anything about what my son is like. Please, enlighten me.

Dripping sarcasm aside, I have tried out different amounts of all offered advice, and while nothing has worked to make him sleep, some things have worked to make me feel better about it. One initiative I started recently is to get Harvey on a stricter evening routine. I feed him in the high-chair, then bathe him, then play with him on the floor for a while while I get him dressed, then read a story and nurse him to top it off. If he doesn't fall asleep by the end of that (which happens about half the time), then Dan gets a turn for putting him to bed. It hasn't helped with the amount of sleep we get during the night, but it does help make our evenings feel a bit more tidy. And it has the added benefit that I now have an excuse for not going to the gym for the next ten to twenty years.

Of course, hope springs eternal. Harvey is sleeping now and he may well stay that way until tomorrow. My friends and relatives may find problems of their own to diagnose. I might lose my job and get time to nap during the day. You never know! The amazing might happen! Life is unpredictable!

Just like a seven-month old's sleeping patterns.

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I'm here all night!

How is Harvey like a summer best-seller? You can't put him down! *ba-dum crash*

Er, as previously mentioned, the baby is having some trouble sleeping. Sleeping poorly or well, however, there's one thing that he always has trouble with, and that's being put down in his bed. He'll be completely asleep in your arms, but as soon as he feels that mattress against his back he's wide-eyed and yelling. And then he falls right back to sleep as soon as you pick him up again; I don't know if that makes the whole situation better or worse.

Naturally, this is cause for some frustration in the middle of the night when all I want to do is get back into bed myself. In desperation, I've developed a new strategy: what I'm doing now is keeping my hands under him after he's on the mattress, rather than pulling them back right away. That way I can continue to provide a consistent joggling motion, not to mention parental contact, as he gets used to being in bed. If he doesn't shout, it only takes a few more seconds for him to drift off enough that I can—slowly, still joggling—reclaim my hands. Works like a charm, except when it doesn't!

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Twelve O'Clock and aaaaall's weeeeelllll

Last Tuesday our friends Cara and Alan came over to help us cook dinner, and as if that wasn't enough Cara vacuumed our living room, and as if THAT wasn't enough Alan fixed our Grandfather clock. Our Grandfather clock hadn't been ticking for, oh, about a year or so, and it turns out it was imbalanced. After five minutes with Alan it was ticking again, because alan is an old-school type of handyman who is very good with 1.0 type mechanical devices. Me and Dan, we did a google search to see if there were any software updates on GrandFatherClock, and when that failed we hit it with a stick.

Then we were like "Oh well. My iPhone tells the time."

Anyway, it's nice to have a real clock ticking in the house again. And not only ticking, but chiming away every fifteen minutes. This way you know precisely how many quarter hours have passed when you're sitting up in the middle of the night with a 7-month-old who has decided that sleep is for the weak.

However, the clock still rebels against me and Dan and technological progress. (You'd think it would understand, as its sole purpose is to sound off the inevitable march of time). As if to tell us to slow down in our busy lives, the clock now chimes the hour immeasurably slowly. I'm talking several seconds between beats. If you're only counting with half an ear, it sounds like "One... Two.... okay I've stopped listening now... four... what, is it still chiming?... is that six?... sixteen? OKAY I GET IT! IT'S LIKE A BILLION O'CLOCK!!!"

Now I just need an earpiece that compresses the sound of the chimes to a more reasonable speed. I think there's an app for that.

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Is that a downed electrical wire in your hand? Because you are SMOKIN!

Out walking the dog this morning I wave at a neighbor who is stepping out for the morning paper.

"You're looking thin!" She calls out.

I have heard that in some arab cultures instead of "Hello" the customary greeting is something like "Praise be to God" or a saying to that effect. I think, however, that the world would benefit from an institutionalized greeting custom whereby the first words out of everyone's mouth are "You're looking thin!"

Really, I think we could achieve world peace that way.

But yes it's true. This morning I notice that my Eddie Bauer mom jeans were fitting a little looser than normal. Then I noticed that Eddie Bauer had conveniently placed a button on either hip with which to tighten the waste-band. Thanks Eddie Bower! All that prep scaling mountains has really helped you figure out your way around a woman's assular region.

Anyway, it appears that I have finally dropped the last few pounds of the fifty I put on during a certain person's gestational period (I won't name names...) I'd been within spitting distance since November, which is code for not-trying-anymore distance. or let-me-just-consume-the-remainder-of-this-baby-food distance, or I-never-leave-the-house-so-who-cares-anyway distance. But then in January we ran out of money, and I cancelled my credit card, and then frappachinos suddenly stopped appearing on my desk next to my keyboard. And really, that was it. No great act of will on my part to lose the last few pounds. I just started obsessively worrying about money all the time, and the pounds just melted away!

So despite the telltale dirt-stains of poverty on my clothes, I've been feeling pretty good about myself as I walk around the ole neighborhood. And it must show, because on the way back from the walk the NStar workman fixing the pole outside my house tipped his head and touched the brim of his hard-hat in a fashion I haven't seen since before I got impregnated. Indeed, perhaps nobody has seen since 1954. I mean really, who tips their hard-hat anymore? Outside of porn?

Oh Power Man, you're making me blush. I'm a married woman!

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another year

I missed it yesterday, being largely unaware of the day of the month except to read it out mindlessly to students who have forgotten to write it on their papers, but the squibix family blog has completed its sixth year of operation. Yes sir, six years and 1,357 posts later, and we're still going strong. Well, strong-ish. Revenues are not all we could want, and I have been informed that the "Bloggies" have gone to final voting without without a mention of us even in the initial nominating stages, but at least we're filling up the calendar with content of one sort or another. Some of it is even funny.

If you have some time to spare, start here and read all the way through until you get to this post again! You'll experience our wide-eyed wonder at living in California, our stress upon moving back to Massachusetts and realizing that if we're going to get married we're going to have to spend an awful lot of time together, the ups and downs of our varied employment situations, and our joyful anticipation of our first child. Also lots of pictures and videos of said child. All that rolled up together in an always-entertaining package that, if you don't look carefully, makes you think we just wrote whatever came into our head on any given day! If that's not artistry, I don't know what it.

Oh yeah, and thanks for reading and stuff like that.

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night time

I occasionally have reason to sleep downstairs these days. Yes, there are times when I surrender the bed to a fussy baby and a wonderful mama who is better able to cope with his untimely needs. There is a problem with fleeing to the couch, however, and it's not lack of comfort; the futon is plenty soft for me. No, it is the clocks. Since Alan fixed the big one we now have three clocks downstairs that make noise: the grandfather clock, the kitchen clock (of great antiquity), and the telltale clock. They all tick, and for some reason they choose to sound much louder at night. Also the grandfather clock has chimes that I have to remember to shut off: they're loud at all hours. But even the ticking is not the thing that most concerns me. No, the problem is that even with all those clocks—with the constant sound of clocks all around me—I have no idea what time it is when I'm downstairs at night.

Really, how did people ever survive in the pre-digital era? Anyone have a good source for some radium paint?

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physchoanalysis via temperature

More cold weather here in Eastern Massachusetts, more consternation from members of the public and my household, and more self-congratulation from me about my totally extreme cold-tolerance. What can I say, it's a natural gift! Yes, those of you who followed that last link (or who read this blog regularly) will know that I already did my cold post for this year, but you'll have to indulge me in another one: it was much colder today than it was that day!

Today at work I was asked incredulously why I like this sort of cold, after I was overheard loudly proclaiming my love for it (I had to! everyone else was complaining!). The reason that came to mind was that I very much enjoy being able to bundle up enough to go outside in whatever sort of conditions might arise. As I've said for years, the right gear makes any temperatures comfortable—at least, any temperatures that we can expect to encounter in this neck of the woods. And there's something downright cozy about being snug and warm in layers of fleece, wool, canvas, and that plastic-y stuff that wind pants are made out of while the wind howls about you.

So that's what I said. But I have other reasons too. One, when it's below 20° F I'm pretty much guaranteed not to get wet, and I like that. And with a windchill well below 0° I'm not likely to get hot either, another plus. It's also fun to be able stand cheerfully by while other folks are wailing and moaning. (Note: this applies to my coworkers, not to my wife. She has my sympathy for her struggles with dog and baby and cold.)

Hard soul-searching reveals one final reason: I like extremes. If it's going to be hot, I want to see just how hot it can get; ditto for cold. Rain, wind, floods, snow: you name it, I like to see what the weather can dish out. And it's not just natural phenomena, either. If a traffic jam is big enough, even stuck in it myself I'm likely to giggle with glee at the level of chaos that can emerge on the roadways. Obviously, I don't take this too far: even in my thirst for mayhem I hate to see anyone really suffer, and I wouldn't wish disaster on anyone personally. But since the cold isn't going cause permanent damage to any students or faculty at Harrington Elementary, I can enjoy it with a clean conscience. So in other words, my coworkers are right: I am crazy, probably.

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So Much to Say!

Harvey's always been a bit of a talker. No idea where he gets that from. For the first day and a half after he was first born he made a constant squeaking noise through his vocal chords with every exhalation. Even when he was sleeping he had stuff to tell us. It's like he was saying, "Hey Guys! I've gotta blog the womb before I forget!" So great was the stream of utterances that Dan, rocking his new son to sleep for the first time, said "Jeez Harvey, you don't have to say EVERYTHING that comes into your head!"

But recently Harvey has kicked it into high gear with the noises. Screeches, screams... he's adding a lot of power plays into his vocabulary along with the standard Ba and Da. Here's a quick montage of some of Harvey's new sounds. We expect solo vlogging to come soon.

down to the river to slide

my bike on the ice

on the frozen Concord River

I didn't want to fail to take advantage of the sunny weather, so I took a little ride out to the river this afternoon. As a bonus I wanted to get some pictures of cold, and what better place to do that then at the biggest body of water we've got around here? (I find the cold in the air doesn't photograph as well.) Unfortunately, there was some open water in the middle of the river, and the bright sun made the ice much too slippery to try and ride on. I had hopes of being able to explore down the river a little bit, something I never get to do in the summer in these boatless days, but I decided that discretion was the better part etc.

ice around a tree trunk

this can't be good for the trees

On our side of the river there's several acres of flooded woods that are now (naturally) completely frozen in. I suppose the trees can handle the ice about as well as they can the water; better, probably. There were many interesting sights and I took many pictures, but I won't bore you with any of the rest of them. It was so much fun down there that I'm surprised I didn't see anyone else—except, of course, a couple who came down in their car after spotting me from the bridge as they drove by. They wanted to check if anyone is drowning, they said. Nope, sorry to disappoint, and thanks for your concern! Just a fun Sunday outing. Next weekend I'll bring the family!

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