Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Sick

Adenovirus is pretty much gone. From the baby. Now it's mine, all mine.

Two nights ago, he slept and slept. From 9:30 to 5:30, which is pretty good for him. Last night, not so much. So, not so much for me, either.

Scratch that. It's crap. I don't really have anything to say. I am just waiting for the second wash on the diapers to be done, so I can put them into the drier and go to bed for the twenty minutes we will have before he wakes up whining for no reason. It's a good thing he's such a (mostly) charming baby when he's awake (for the day).

Pete keeps looking for a formula. The one thing we are missing that will make him sleep through the night, every night.

I am looking for the same thing, too; it's just for me.

Thing is, there is no one thing. There's not even a combination of things. We just think we should be able to fix it by making it perfect, but we can't. I could say, well, the night he slept through (the only night since he came back from his vacation with Grandma and Gran), we had the air conditioning on. But, there are so many variables, it's impossible for us to say if there's a key (there isn't). We only have one baby, not many; if we had many (and a grant. And credentials), we could set up some kind of study, but it's hard enough for my workplace to come up with grants, let alone my little family.

The washer is singing. Time to transfer and go to bed.

For now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There's a Stain on my Notebook

Cold press coffee. I am just going to have to find out for myself what all the fuss is about. I hear it tastes like coffee smells, which seems a near impossibility to me, as if that were true, grown people would be weeping in the streets, and every single human would have one of these low-tech machines.

I'm a sucker for a better brew, though, so I got it started this morning. I didn't understand how it works, and I am still a bit skeptical, but at least I get the process now. I bought some "cold press" coffee blend from Peace Coffee and ground up almost a pound of it in my home grinder (first lesson: grind it at the co-op). The thing takes 9 cups of water and a pound of coffee, added alternately and not stirred. It's really hard to resist stirring. I wanted to stir it. I still want to stir it. It's sitting on my stove at home, and I can't get over the belief that it needs to be stirred.

2 cups water, half the coffee, more water water poured slowly over the grounds, rest of coffee, let sit 5 minutes, rest of water, tap with spoon. At the end, it looks like this, and here it will sit brewing for 12 hours. When that's done, you take out the little stopper that is plugging the bottom of the brew canister, and it filters into the decanter. What you are left with is 6 cups of coffee concentrate to which you add hot or cold water and a whole lot of coffee grounds for the compost heap. The nice thing about this could be that the coffee is brewed and ready, all we have to do is plug in and turn on the electric kettle in the morning. Or I can send it to work with daddywhumpus to eliminate the afternoon coffee shop spending.

And I WILL NOT stir it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weather Report

Walking outside today was like being hugged by a locker room, after a senior faculty shirts/skins game.

Now, it's raining and raining, with thunderbolts and lightening (very very frightening... not really), we have a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch. Two Saturdays ago, Finn and I spent an hour in the basement during a worse weather situation, and he must have gotten a kick out of it because he and Pete are in the basement right now. Pete mentioned that it was a possibility, and Finn decided it was what needed to happen. I think I can hear him asking for Nemo and Wall-E.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dear Target,

What's $2183.70 to a big company like you, beloved by millions of shoppers throughout the land, with sales of $63.4 billion during 2009? Not much, but it's what my little family of three spent at your stores in 2009 and 2010, up to now. I know you don't need me anymore. After all, your 2009 results "reflect  the strongest retail  segment profit in [your] history".

It's been grand, or, dare I say "Super", but I think it's time we see other people. You see, we don't agree about a few fundamental things, and it's standing in the way of this relationship going any further.

You think it's OK to deny women the right to choose their reproductive and sexual destiny, even as you partner with the Minnesota League of Women Voters.

You think it's just dandy to keep certain people from marrying the ones they love, even though you say you are trying to "foster an inclusive culture."

You believe it's a good idea to fund private schools at the expense of public schools, and furthermore, that the federal government should have no say in public education, even as you work to improve school libraries.

You think it should be harder for Americans to vote, even as you advocate voter education, and you believe Arizona's new immigration law is a good idea, even though you say "diversity is a core value throughout every area of [your] company."

You are proud of your NRA endorsement, even as you work with police officers "as trusted partners... to strengthen public safety."

You don't believe in global warming, even though though you say you "know what's good for the environment is good for everyone."

You don't believe in evolution, even though you "play an active role in supporting education."

Or, at least, that's what you are saying to me when you give $150,000 to an organization that is supporting Tom Emmer in the race for Minnesota governor. The above are deeply contradictory statements, and I can't reconcile the politician's beliefs with your company's stated goals, activities, and policies.

Clearly, these are things we can't overcome, "dealbreakers", I think they call them, so I'll be taking my money elsewhere from now on.

I know what you'll say. You'll say that you are non-partisan, you are just looking out for number one, and you will support anyone who you think supports you. You will say that you have given $80,000 to Democrats and $103,500 to Republicans in 2010, so it's pretty much equal.

You say you want to support Minnesotans, and that you love being here. You say you do a lot of good for the country in communities & schools.

But you never loved me. You never cared. And without me and countless other lefties, liberals, and progressives who support you, you are nothing. You can go ahead and support candidates who you say support business, but when those candidates are supporting business over supporting people, those people have less disposable income to spend in your stores.

When those candidates have beliefs that fly in the face of human rights, science, facts, and the common good, I have to draw the line.

Your 2007 Marketing Plan says that 93% of your shoppers are women, their  median age is 41, their median household income is $63 thousand, 45%  have children at home, and 48% have completed college. In that plan, it was advised that you branch out and find new markets, so I release  you. May you be happy in the life that you have chosen.

I can get my tee shirts and baby bubble bath elsewhere.



Open Secrets: Target Corp PAC expenditures
Open Secrets: Target Corp PAC Summary
Open Secrets: Center for Responsive Politics
American Public Media PAC*Men
Target: Our Company

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fever Baby

daddywhumpus is home for a couple of hours, and he thinks I should take a nap. I've been up the majority of the last two nights with Fever Baby, and this is Pete's week to be a Rock Star. Thing is, Rock Star's wives have nannies. Not so for most Folk Star's wives.

Its just one of those weeks; a convergence of events. There's a wedding gig and a CD party this weekend, plus a mid-week solo gig, all of which add up to Monday night being the only night without a rehearsal or event, and that's already behind us. babywhumpus woke up with a fever Sunday morning; it was worse yesterday, and then the cough and hoarseness started. I suspected strep, so we stayed home today, and I brought him to the doctor. No strep in the rapid test; she suspects adenovirus, as it's been going around (The other choice was enterovirus, as this is the time of year, but she hasn't been seeing it). Not much we can do about it, just keep treating with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. And be awake all night.

So I should nap. Like I could ever nap in a populated house, in the middle of the day, in as short a space of time as two hours, when there is shit to be done. If Pete is home and minding the boy, then I'll finish up the laundry and do the dishes. It's either that or lay in bed, thinking about the laundry and the dishes while I listen to them eating cereal in the kitchen.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Note to Self

And by "Self", I mean "Daddy":

Do not say "penis face" in the presence of your toddler. Even if you think he is not listening.

While it may be cute to hear your son saying "penis face" as clear as a bell, at least twice, it is not something we need to explain to day care or to other parents.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Beautiful Moments

"Mama, sit."

Finn was looking up at me, smiling and pointing down into the cool water filling up the nine dollar inflatable pool. We were standing in it, he in his red tee shirt with the whales, and me in the clothes I had worn to work. After an oppressive 90 degree day complete with the mugginess you usually only find on the east coast in August, a little water time seemed like a good idea.

I looked down at him as I held the hose that was slowly filling up the pool. "No, no, sweetie. I have to go inside and put on my swimsuit. Then I can sit down." Then I thought, "Why? This seems like one of those times for you to let go of all your expectations, not worry about the things that need to be done, and enjoy your child."

So I sat. He laughed. We splashed each other. We stood, jumped, sat, stood again, walked in circles, splashed, and laughed some more. Finn caught sight of a beautiful monarch butterfly, swooping amongst the lavender milkweed, bergamot, hyssop, and oregano, and he watched it, standing still in the water until it was out of sight. Bees bumbled. By the time Pete rode into the driveway, we were soaked, and my eyes were smeared with the remains of the day's makeup. He took over the merriment, and I went inside to dry off and cook dinner.

This morning, right after Finn woke up, I took him outside to the porch to say good morning to daddy. The boy was whining about wanting pillow time, but I distracted him with neck snorgles and nommy sounds, and he laughed until he snorted. Then we had a family hug, swaying in the morning light.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Awful, Terrible, Wonderful, Lovely

The baby is back.

He returned in the company of his grandparents on Monday evening, after a final fun-filled outing that took him to the Mall of America and Underwater World. We were standing on the front steps, waiting, gazing down the street looking for Grandma's Grey Car.

In less than two hours, I was in tears. At 1:00 a.m., I thought "How on earth have we been doing this for two years?"

Studies often show that parents are less happy than their childless-by-choice peers, and though I am sure a bunch of parents have their panties in a bunch over a recent New York Times Magazine article that addresses this, screaming that parenting is a gingerbread joy ride and how dare you suggest anything different, I gotta say, I agree. Am I happier now than I was? No, I don't think so. Am I less happy? Probably.

I don't know if it's fair to compare happiness for the child-ed vs. childless. I'm different now. Things are different. Sometimes I ache for the freedom to stop at the bar on the way home from work or eat an entire meal, slowly, in one sitting, but I could not bear to not have my son, now that he is here.

What does it mean to be happy? If happiness means not rinsing poop out of diapers, I was happier in 2007. We don't forget what it was like before, so when we have to do something unpleasant, or our routine changes because of a child, it's easy to resent it. And feel less happy. And then feel guilty about feeling less happy because you're supposed to be happy because children are wonderful. It's a nice little feedback cycle.

Then, because the wonderful things about parenthood are not comparable to the life we had before, they are given less weight by our brains, which are trying to find patterns and evaluate data. Sitting and reading a story with your child, while he points out a heart and says "heart" without prompting from you has no pre-child comparison, and it's a remarkably cool occurrence. But it's easy to forget when you are staggering like a zombie to that same child's room at 2:00 in the morning, remembering how you used to sleep through the night when you were not undead. If you were up at that time in the pre-zombie days, it was your own damn fault. Not sleeping through the night for over two years is insanely miserable, and we remember it more than a sparkly moment about a dumb little pink heart in an Elmo book.

Happiness is all about expectations, really, and not becoming too attached to what you think is going to happen. Invariably, you are attaching yourself to the animated bluebirds version because it's comforting, and you don't want to be all doom and gloom because that is what your high school goth period was for. If I try for realism in my expectations, using known data and including possibilities, I have a much better chance of not being disappointed.

Keep it to yourself, though. People will say you're no fun. And certainly not happy.

Friday, July 9, 2010


babywhumpus is on vacation, thus the relative silence here.

The day care is off this week, so Finn is staying with his grandparents about 2 hours away from here. I wasn't sure how I felt about this; it's the first time he has been away from both of us for more than one night.

I've been exhausted and rather down; I thought that I might feel a huge wave of relief as we pulled away from my parents' house, but that was not how it happened. I was sad--very sad, and there were tears. It was so strange to be leaving without all his stuff, without his car seat, without him.

The wave of relief never happened, and now I don't expect it to. It's nice to not have to do the 2 hours of day care transportation. It's great to get up at 8 and just have coffee. No diapers to wash. No hurried routine every night for getting home/dinner/play/bath/bed. No getting up at 2:00 in the morning. Well, almost no. I am still not sleeping through the night, exactly. And I'm 40, so I guess I can't blame him for not doing it either.

By all reports--we talk to him on Skype twice a day--he's doing excellently well. He has even slept through the night twice, and so far, he has not had any terrible nights. He's been to story time at the library, seen Amtrack trains ("Engine bye bye" is the most common refrain now); he's visited the grandparents' former workplaces; he's playing with some new friends this morning. He gets to go to the park and go for walks. All attention is devoted to him, and that's something we can't do.

I am ready to see him. Ready for hugs and kisses. I miss his little voice and the sound of him running from room to room--toddlers do not walk. We have a weekend ahead of us, and we have much we want to accomplish. Monday will be here faster than we can imagine, and then normal life is back.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bath Time

It's bath time at Grandma and Gran's. 4th of July in Winona!


"What's a bubble bus?"

"It's like a fire bus, only for bubbles."

"To put bubbles out?"

"No, to carry them."

"So does a fire bus carry fire?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I think it's more like a party bus. Like..."

"Like, 'DUDE!'?"

"Yeah. The fire truck goes behind the fire bus because, you know, the fire bus might have too much fun."

Did I mention that this conversation was between Pete and I?

Ah, yes

Taking pictures of baby watching himself on video camera. Techno narcissism at its finest.

I see me, and I am mesmerizing.

Do I have something on my face?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ka-Pop in the news

This is an article from Ka-pop's (Grandpa) local paper. Ka-pop and Oma were out over Finn's second birthday, along with Auntie Joyce and Ka-su (GrammaSue), and he cleaned out our garage, which was no small task. We're already thinking about what's next for him here in Minnesota... So, congratulations, Ka-Pop!

Going out in style: A longtime letter carrier bids his job goodbye after 28 years
by mpilon
EASTHAMPTON - For a few hours Wednesday morning, James E. McCauley was the spiffiest postal carrier in the county.

McCauley, 66, arrived by bicycle at the Easthampton Post Office on Northampton Street wearing a white dinner jacket and black tie over his standard-issue uniform of light blue, collared shirt, dark blue shorts and hat.

McCauley didn't wear the jacket to deliver mail Wednesday, where he was graced by perfect 70 degree weather as he chatted with the residents on his route - people who live in Florence, but receive their mail through the Easthampton office.

"I could have worn it," McCauley said. "But it would have been a little warm."

It was a regal way for McCauley to arrive for his final day at the office after 28 years on the job. The Louise Avenue resident said he wanted to leave a lasting impression on his colleagues.

"I'm going to miss being an influence on the people I work with," McCauley said.

McCauley speaks with a flourish and said he can be prone to pontificating at work. But he said his wish is to impart the value of the job to his colleagues.

"What they're doing has real value in the community," McCauley said. "I've always felt it was an honor and a privilege."

McCauley wrote about his experiences for Postal Record magazine for about 20 years. The magazine is published by the National Association of Letter Carriers.

But rather than writing about contractual or management matters, McCauley said he instead tried to stress the importance of "making the best of the job."

"What I tried to do is say 'rise above it,'" McCauley said. "We still have an amazingly positive job experience."

Counting blessings

McCauley has walked enough miles to cover the distance around the Earth's equator in his time as a postal carrier. He had knee replacement surgery on both knees three years ago and has since had to walk less on his route.

But McCauley said the active nature of his job has been a blessing.

"The physical aspects of this job have been a tremendous benefit to me," he said.

And then there are the human relationships. Postal carriers interact with hundreds of people each day.

McCauley said he finds that people are reassured by the sight of the mailman arriving.

"It represents, I think, a consistency over time," he said.

And those brief interactions each day can turn into friendships.

Corticelli Avenue resident Keith Graham spotted McCauley Wednesday and came outside with his camera to snap a few pictures of the man he said has brought "great energy" to his neighborhood over the past three years.

"He's just a great guy and we're going to miss him here," Graham said.

Asked what was the best piece of mail McCauley had delivered to him, Graham said that McCauley brought a family photo album earlier this week from Graham's mother, who lives in Montana. There was no other mail that day, he said, not even junk mail.

Graham said his 5-year-old son, Jasper, is particularly fond of McCauley. When Jasper heard last week that McCauley was retiring, he and a group of day school friends covered the mail truck with flowers they had picked.

"I drove off as far as I could with the flowers blowing off the truck," McCauley recalled. "It was a sight."

A daily hope

Postal carriers get to play a part in something that McCauley calls the "mail magic moment."

"You go out and open that mailbox every day hoping for something of value," he said. "Ninety-nine out of 100 times that hope is dashed because all you get is some junk mail or a bill. But that hope is still there."

It's not just a people job. McCauley said he has treasured his relationship with the slowly changing geography of Easthampton.

McCauley spent 25 years delivering mail in the city, which he said he has seen change for the better over that time.

"It's such a dramatic and positive change," he said.

He recalled delivering mail on Main Street in the middle of a heavy snowstorm around 15 years ago.

He had just passed Brewster Avenue and looked up to realize that there was not a sound to be heard and no cars in sight. He walked into the middle of Main Street, lay on his back, and made a snow angel.

"It was a totally silent day," he said. "I just looked both ways and said 'This is spectacular.'"

McCauley is married and has a grown son and daughter. His retirement plans so far are to ride his bicycle, read up on medical research and work around the house.

Matt Pilon can be reached at