15 December 2005

thank you, tv

James' latest: shouting "I'm a genius!" at random. I asked, and of course he doesn't know what it means, because he's a parrot who mimics any kind of catchphrase he hears. This one is from the movie "Ice Age", and the character who says it is quite definitely not a genius. Maybe I shouldn't have told James what it means -- once I told him, he seemed to think it a pretty fitting description of himself. Now he'll be saying it all the time, I'm sure, and that might get a little annoying. Although it is pretty funny to hear James announce that he's a genius because he drew a picture of a dog going through a car wash.


13 December 2005

you don't need a nanny to achieve equality

Last night I was watching one of those Nanny shows, where a proper British nanny comes into an American family's home and teaches the parents to deal with their children and with each other and generally improves their home life. (I know, but it was on after Arrested Development and I got sucked in. When you have six TV channels, one of them being PAX, sometimes you will watch anything.) I found last night's episode compelling in a train-wreck sort of way. It was a family with six children, the oldest age 8, a stay-at-home mom, and a working dad who was also really involved in church activities.

I was kind of appalled to see a family operating the way theirs does (or did, before the magic nanny). Not totally surprised, because I've seen similar examples among my very religious neighbors, although none of them have six children, which certainly makes a difference. In this family, the father was home, apparently, a couple of hours a day at most, and was totally uninvolved and clueless when it came to the children. The children were wild, out of control, disrespectful, shrieking little banshees. The mother was obviously overwhelmed, overworked and exhausted.

What really got to me was the father. He just had no idea. He actually said at one point that his time was too valuable to spend it with his children! This idea that there is no value to child-rearing, to raising the next generation to become responsible, capable, well-adjusted adults is all too prevalent in our culture. It totally perpetuates the condecension -- from both men and women -- toward stay-at-home parents and the work we do. For a husband to say this is totally disrespectful of his wife, and it's unfair to his children in that it denies them a real relationship with their father.

But anyway, one day, the nanny made the mother go out by herself, leaving dad in charge. He called his wife after an hour to ask when she was coming home. He had no idea what to make the children for lunch. He had no idea what to do with them, or how to interact. He managed to LOSE one of the children. She went out by herself and he didn't even notice she was missing until the nanny pointed it out.

Now, truthfully, I've never in my own life seen such an incompetent father. I know the particulars of this case are extreme. But I hardly think the situation is atypical. The ideas behind it, the gender roles involved, are still pretty mainstream. Children are the mother's responsibility. The father has the right and the freedom to pursue his own interests. This ties in with some things I've been reading online about whether feminism is still necessary in America. Even though women have equal opportunities in education and work, even though women are active in traditionally male fields of employment, even though women in this country are more powerful now than at any point in our nation's history -- as long as their are still culturally prescribed gender roles to dictate the differents rights and responsibilities of women and men, then I would say yes, there is still a need for feminism. We may have achieved equality in the workplace, but not in my workplace. Not in the home.

I feel very fortunate, however, that my household is pretty equal in terms of freedoms and duties. I think Greg understands by now that my responsibility is to James and Evan, to making sure that they are happy and well cared for. If some housework happens to get done in a day, great. But to complete all the housework, or even a major portion of it during a day comes at the expense of spending time with and caring for my children. That's not a trade off I'm willing to make. And so Greg helps with the housework. And he takes care of the children so that I can have the occasional night off from my full-time job. Maybe it helped that we grew up in families with non-traditional structures. I was raised by a single mother, whereas Greg had both parents at home, but his mother was the breadwinner. I think that due to these examples, and those of our siblings as well, our boys will grow up with an understanding that in relationships, in families, in households, there are no prescribed gender roles, despite the fact that we have a more traditional family structure at the moment.

The nanny, of course, ultimately solved the TV family's division-of-labor problems. She challenged the father and helped him see that a change was needed to ensure the happiness of everyone in the family. And that's what's really important in a family unit -- happiness, everyone's happiness. The rest is just details.

Imagine -- we managed to figure it out without a magic TV nanny to guide us. If only that were possible for everyone.


12 December 2005


Well, almost. Evan is trying so hard, he almost has it... if only he would take his thumb out of his mouth, it might be a little easier to get going. He's very nearly there, though. He knows where he wants to go, and he does eventually get there, albeit very slowly. And that's what's so sneaky -- if we're not watching him closely, he creeps to where he wants to go before we know it. And where does he want to go? Almost always toward James, trying to get at whatever James is playing with, or just trying to get to James himself. And if he gets to James (or me, or Greg)? He is already trying to pull himself up. He gets to his knees already, using one of us to climb on.

I am not ready for this. My last baby is supposed to be a baby for a little longer.


08 December 2005

on santa

Now that James is almost 4, we are at an age of learning to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Now that the Christmas season is upon us, we are facing the Santa issue. What to do?

I don't really feel comfortable telling the Santa story to James as if it were truth. When I was a kid, the tags on the gifts said they were from Santa, but we knew it was Mom. We recognized her handwriting. That, and she never really tried to convince us otherwise. So I knew from early on that Santa was a myth. Yet I was a kid who really enjoyed fantasy, and I pretended to believe because I wanted the magic.

This year is the first year that James has really had questions about Santa, and I hesitate in my answers, qualifying them with statements like "some people believe" and "the Santa story says". Earlier this week after I'd been shopping for Christmas presents, he asked me why I got the presents instead of Santa. On the spot, I couldn't really think of a good way to answer, so I told him that Santa is pretend, a story, and that we buy gifts at Christmas for the people we love. After all, if he thinks that Christmas presents magically appear, how will he learn the joy of giving gifts? I thought maybe that would be it for Santa.

Then, today, in the car, out of nowhere, James tells me, "Mom, I believe in Santa." I said okay. Then he asked if today, we could ride the Polar Express to the North Pole. I told him that the Polar Express is pretend, there is no train to the North Pole, and even if there was it would take days to get there. And James just didn't believe me.

So I think in our case Santa is less of an issue than I was expecting. I tell my son the truth, and he doesn't believe me, because books and TV and movies tell him Santa is real, his friends (and lots of grown-ups) talk about Santa, and everywhere he looks in the month of December he sees Santa.

I think James is turning out a lot like I was as a child, at least in instances like this, insisting on fantasy even when he's aware of the reality. In my family, there are two famous stories about my denial of reality: my insistence that my Cabbage Patch doll was a real baby, and telling my second-grade teacher that I had a baby brother. In my mind, these were not lies or delusions; these were things I wanted to be true and so pretended they were. James is very creative and imaginative, and it looks like he's heading down that road of trying to create his own reality. I can't say that I see anything wrong with that.


05 December 2005

pet peeve

The way adults talk to children really irritates me sometimes. And I'm not talking about the high-pitched voices or the baby talk, although those are certainly annoying. I'm talking about many people's inability to realize that mother and child are separate people.

Example: today at the library, a librarian was cooing at Evan, which is fine. "You're so cute! Look at those fat little cheeks!" And then, in the same high-pitched baby voice, "And how old are you?" Sorry, lady, but the drooly gurgling lump in my lap is not going to answer that question. If you were asking me, then ask me and not the baby. It just feels disrespectful when someone expects a response from you, yet doesn't look you in the eye or speak directly to you.

And I'm annoyed by the reverse as well. James is obviously old enough to speak for himself, yet I'm constantly fielding questions about him: how old he is, how does he like the baby, does he go to school. I've taken to redirecting questions about James to him, so if someone asks me how old he is, I then ask James the same question, and he answers. Easy. I hate it when people talk about children rather to them, as if they're not there.

Conclusion: If you have a question for someone, ask him or her directly. If and only if that person is incapable of answering should you then direct the question to that person's parent. Simple enough.


04 December 2005

this stuff only happens to us

We had an Incident in Barnes & Noble this afternoon, the kind of embarrassing thing that only happens to James, or me, or James and me.

We're looking for Greg, who is browsing while we play with Thomas trains. Knowing how James likes escalators, I suggest we look upstairs. We get to the escalator, I ask if he remembers how to use it, I reach for his hand, and... too late. James steps onto the escalator... with one foot. He's pulled into a split and falls onto the escalator, which is now moving beneath him as he struggles for balance. I'm terrified that he's going to lose a hand or his nose to those nasty jagged teeth on the edge of the escalator steps. So I start trying to pull him to his feet, trying not to get pulled onto the escalator myself, all the while hindered by Evan, who I'm wearing in the sling and who is starting to tilt dangerously backwards. Meanwhile, James is literally screaming.

In one heroic effort, I manage to yank James' arm and stand him up, without Evan toppling from the sling, and we ride the escalator to the second floor, James still crying and sniffling a bit. It all lasted approximately two minutes, but that was a scary two minutes for James and me. Evan seemed totally unperturbed by the whole thing. Upstairs, we determine that James has nothing more serious than a scraped knee. We realize Greg is not upstairs, and take the escalator back down, without incident. Downstairs, we run into Greg, who came searching for us after hearing James' scream from another part of the store. We explain, and Greg laughs at us, which is okay, since now that it's over and James isn't hurt, it's starting to seem pretty funny.

I wondered aloud to Greg that no one near us in the store seemed to react when they heard James screaming. Greg pointed out that anyone else probably assumed he was having a tantrum, which, okay, fair enough, it happens. I guess it annoys me because anyone who bothered to look in the direction of the screams would have seen that we were having trouble, and either no one helped, or no one even looked, which both suck. Are children's tantrums so common that no one takes their screams seriously anymore?

Anyway, we're well despite the trauma. We also got our Christmas tree while we were out shopping, and we decorated it tonight while listening to Christmas music and everything feels very peaceful now.


03 December 2005

chomp chomp

Our baby is teething. The first tooth broke through on Sunday, and the second is on its way. It's hard to get a look in his mouth without Evan trying to eat your fingers, so they could both be out by now for all I know. This means less sleep for me, as Evan is now waking up at least fur times a night, sometimes to nurse and sometimes for comfort.

Speaking of my son's mouth, well, I know babies like to suck and chew on everything, but Evan is about the best I've ever seen. Anything that comes near enough his mouth gets lunged at. He loves to suck on Greg's and my fingers. And his thumb! Most of you know that Evan is a thumb-sucker, and there's nothing we can do about it. We've tried the pacifier; he chews and spits it out. And he likes to suck his thumb at the weirdest times. It's hard to get through a meal without his thumb interrupting; he sucks his thumb in his Jolly Jumper, while he's jumping; he'll even pop his thumb in his mouth as I'm tossing him in the air. He just... loves his thumb. We're hoping it won't become a problem, even though we know it probably will eventually.

Anyway, he's a cute baby. The teething is going relatively well; even if I'm losing a little sleep, I can't be mad about it. He's just too adorable.


01 December 2005

the soapbox: feminist boys?

So, it's becoming pretty obvious that I'm terrible at posting regularly. I've been thinking of a lot of things to write about, but I'm not sure if I want to post them in this blog. I mean, I know it's my blog and I can write whatever I want to, but I'm really hesitant to get up on my soapbox and start spouting my views to the world. Because, first, does it even matter? I'm just one person, on one pathetic blog. And second, most of the people reading this already know how I feel about most things anyway.

But on the other hand, it's my blog, and isn't that what blogs are for? Vanity. Egoism. An inflated sense of self-importance. Spouting one's views via soapbox.

To be brief, I guess I'll just say that I've been reading and thinking a lot about feminism lately. What occupies my mind the most is the question of how to raise my boys to be sympathetic to women's issues, to view women's issues as basic human issues, to be aware of the privilege they have simply by virtue of being male. They obviously have a wonderful example from their father, which will be worth a lot. He's not what I'd call a feminist man by any means, but he does listen to me ramble about feminism and women's issues (and even tends to agree with me most of the time). He has supported me in my endeavors both to try to work and to stay home with the boys; he does housework; he does childcare; he treats me -- and the other women in our lives -- wonderfully, with respect. But I worry that a good example might not be enough. I worry that perhaps I won't even figure out just what is enough.

I've been known to complain to Greg about not having any daughters to raise as little feminists. I'm kidding, a little. I do think it would be a challenge to raise feminist girls in this day and age, where things are equal enough that they're rarely questioned by most people, and where many young girls don't fully appreciate the struggles of their predecessors. But I'm beginning to think that it might be even more useful to raise boys to appreciate feminism -- women have been advocating for themselves for years and have made a lot of progress, but I think real cultural change won't occur until people of both genders are demanding equal rights and responsibilities for all adults.

So how do I accmplish this, raising boys to be men who are in favor of gender equality? Who even recognize that there is still inequality that needs to be dealt with? These are the questions I'm pondering lately. And now that I've decided in favor of the soapbox, you can expect to hear more about gender issues in the near future.


23 November 2005

happy thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Mergenthaler Schmidt family!

(James is wearing an American-Indian styleheadband that he made and decorated at preschool. The drawings vary from a tepee and a frog to an alien and a racetrack. And Evan, well, he's just looking delighted, as is the case most of the time. If you click on the photos you can see a larger image.)

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!


16 November 2005


It's come to my attention that my son is a popular preschooler. Anyone who knows him won't be surprised to hear this -- he's incredibly social and active and confident, but also very kind and inclusive. I think he just wants everyone to have as much fun as he has all the time. He's making a lot of friends at preschool; he's even helped one of the more shy boys to come out of his shell and be more interactive with the other kids. And several of the other parents have approached me about getting our kids together for playdates on our off days.

This is great for James, but busy for me. I'm happy that James is getting the chance to develop friendships with his classmates on a one-on-one basis, but all of the planning and driving and socializing and dragging the baby and his paraphernalia all over the place are starting to wear on me. I'm trying to figure out how to balance all of this so that we're not on the go every single day. I'm new to this playdate stuff, so I'm worried about offending someone by refusing playdates even if we're already busy. And I'm thinking about how to get the housework done if I'm not there; and I'm thinking about all the money we're spending on gas just to meet a three-year-old's social obligations; and I'm thinking about how we'll have to reciprocate all of these playdates and how much cleaning and preparation that will involve, espcially if lunch is included; and I'm thinking about how being a stay-at-home mom is not involving being at home as much as I would like these days.

Oh, the woes of a quasi-suburban stay-at-home mom. It seems kind of ridiculous that I'm stressing over excessive playdates, I know. I think I just need to find a comfortable balance that allows James his social interaction, and me the time to do my household duties, and have some rest as well. But where is that balance, and how do I find it? I like hanging out, I like being social... but in limited amounts. Is this the kind of thing I have to sacrifice for the sake of my child's social development? Should he have to forgo playdates because I'm a homebody? I don't think so. There must be a way to do it all, right? :-)


14 November 2005

our baby laughs!

We knew it would happen eventually, but we were so impatient waiting for it. In fact, we knew he could laugh -- we'd heard him do it a few times -- but it was as if he was choosing not to. He's a very happy baby; we had lots of smiles, but silent smiles. A squeal now and then. But finally, finally we have the adorable sounds of baby laughter.

The change in Evan after the weekend is kind of remarkable. It's as if being crowded in one house with my entire family finally convinced him to make himself heard. Not only does he laugh, but he babbles now, which he rarely did before this weekend. All of a sudden he's on to consonants -- ba ba ba. Now that he can talk to and laugh at James, their relationship is really starting to take off. Of course Evan has always been in love with James, but now he can really express it. And James really appreciates getting audible reactions to his antics.

I'm realizing as I write this how boring it might seem. Big news, the baby laughs, he babbles. But seriously! Baby laughter and baby babbling are two of the best, cutest, most wonderful sounds ever. It's a fact.


11 November 2005


...Except, not really.

We're spending the weekend at my Mom's with my sisters, their significant others, and my niece. My niece is six weeks older than Evan, so it's always fun to get them together and see how alike and how different they are. It is amazing the difference that six weeks can make in terms of development, and it's also pretty amazing to see how different parents can shape the personalities of their children. If you knew my sister and me, but didn't know which baby was whose, and had to decide, you'd figure it out pretty quickly, I think, probably after about three minutes with them. Maybe I'll write about this in a little more detail after the weekend, and after seeing what the babies are like now.

Speaking of what my baby is like now, Evan has been pretty much refusing to sleep unless he is rocked to sleep, and once he's asleep he will not stay asleep unless he is held. We're working on fixing this (any suggestions?) but I think it will be nice for me and Greg this weekend to have other people available to hold our attention-seeking baby. And also to pay attention to our older child, who actually demands attention at time. How did I end up with children who crave so much attention? It's the total opposite of how I've always been. I don't think we've been depriving them of attention. With James I suspect it may be a sign of his confidence (which he has quite a lot of).

Anyway, no blogging for the weekend. Hope everyone has a good one.


09 November 2005


Sorry for the lack of updates; things have been a little hectic here. James was sick for several days with what was probably just a virus. We were concerned that it might turn into an ear infection but it seems to have cleared up by itself with no trouble. And Evan has the sniffles. To be more precise, he's full of phlegm, the poor thing. But we have introduced him to the Jolly Jumper, which I think he may enjoy even more than eating -- and that's saying a lot.

I had a nice weekend; a friend of mine from high school visited, and being able to hang out with her all weekend (ie. having freedom from my children) may have spoiled me. ... Actually. I'm a firm believer that any parent needs time away from his or her children to really be able to enjoy them. I'm a much better parent when I have time to myself to preserve my sanity.

Weird weather today -- thunderstorms in November? But my friend Bethany reminded me of the song "November Rain" which has been happily playing in my head all afternoon.


04 November 2005

single parenting

Well, I've done it. I've survived almost three full days without my lovely boyfriend. This is the second time since Evan was born that Greg has had to travel for work, and let me tell you, I knew full-time parenting was hard, but you never really appreciate your partner until he's no longer there.

These couple of times I've done it on my own with my boys has given me a new-found respect for single parents. Being the child of a single parent, I've always known it wasn't easy, but I don't think you can truly understand it until you've been there. And I'm aware that three days doesn't qualify me to fully understand single parenting; but I think it gives me a little more insight. With no one to relieve you or share the duties, the discipline, the decision-making, parenting is hard. And tiring. And lonely. I can't imagine doing this permanently. It's a hard enough job with two. It makes me very grateful to have a wonderful man like Greg in my life, and it makes me incredibly appreciative of my Mom and all she did for my sisters and me growing up.

Three days was long enough for me. We survived it with no major incidents, although not as much sleep as I would have liked. (James wanders into our room many nights to sleep with us; he's been sick this week so his dry, barking cough gave everyone a little trouble sleeping.) Now what I want to know is, when's my vacation?


02 November 2005

things I never thought to worry about

James just came in from playing outside, and as we were taking off his sweatshirt, he exclaimed, "Oh! I forgot about the worms in my pocket!" Sure enough, he reached into the front pocket of his hoodie and pulled out a huge handful of worms. After those went into the garden, he pulled out even more worms. When asked why he put worms in his pocket in the first place, he replied, "Because they would get dropped if I carried them in my hands." Of course. Silly me.

Just add this to the list of things that never occurred to me when making the decision to have children.


31 October 2005

Happy Halloween!

(More photos at our Yahoo photos page.)


30 October 2005

to infinity...and beyond!

James had a blast at his preschool Halloween party. Put a dozen or so preschool age kids and their siblings in a large open space with lots of cookies, and they will run around screaming like maniacs for as long as their little legs and lungs will hold out. It was kind of exhausting for everyone involved, and there was absolutely no structure whatsoever. Obviously all the kids loved it.

Two of James' good preschool buddies were dressed as Mr Incredible and a Power Ranger, so they had a little trio of superheroes running around and play-fighting. Sort of antithetical to the peaceful, non-violent, granola/hippy-ish principles of the preschool, but everyone had fun and no one got hurt, so I think it's okay.


28 October 2005

pumpkin fever

James' preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch was postponed due to rain on Tuesday, but yesterday was the make-up field trip. We went to a nice farm where they had a hayride to the pumpkin patch (where each kid got to choose two pumpkins to take home), a giant slide, a petting zoo (featuring rabbits, a pig, a cow, sheep, goats, and a llama), and a straw pen to play in. It sprinkled on us a little, and was pretty cold out there, but we had a really good time... although my back was pretty sore after two hours of carrying my fat sleeping baby in the sling.

Today James painted his pumpkins. (You can maybe, almost identify the face on the pumpkin on the right side of the photo). Tomorrow we go to find a big pumpkin for Greg to carve into another masterpiece. Tomorrow is also James' preschool Halloween party, after which I will post pictures of him in costume. I helped to plan the party, but I'm not sure we did all that great a job of it, so here's hoping it goes well anyway.


25 October 2005

adventures in baby food

Yesterday we tried feeding baby cereal to Evan for the first time. And let me tell you, this is the most laid-back baby I've ever known. Some of you may remember the photo of James' first experience with baby food -- the poor child looks traumatized. He was pretty disgusted, and it took several tries to get him used to it. Evan, on the other hand, seems almost totally indifferent to cereal, but didn't put up a fuss. He just ate it and had no reaction. "You're putting something new and strange in my mouth? Okay, that's cool." But he did eat it, and by tonight he learned to open his mouth for the spoon, although he stuck his thumb in his mouth in between every bite.

Thanks to the food processor we got for Christmas last year, I'll be making some of Evan's baby food, so he'll be on to more exciting foods before long -- hopefully things like vegetables and fruit will elicit some sort of reaction. We'll see.


24 October 2005

weekend recap

It was back to the daily routine today, after a fun long weekend with Aunt Reneka and Uncle Mike visiting. We tired out the kids (and the adults) and got to do some things we don't normally do. In brief: we went to Dinosaur BBQ, Rochester's (and maybe the world's) best barbeque restaurant; we visited Letchworth State Park and hiked around the waterfalls; we spent a rainy afternoon watching "Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were-rabbit" (which James called a bad movie because there was shooting, although I think he enjoyed it otherwise), followed by hot drinks and book-browsing at Barnes & Noble; we had breakfast at the Highland Park Diner, which never fails to satisfy. James found a new playmate in Mike, Evan got lots of attention from Ren, and I got lots of adult company for a change. All in all a good time. Unfortunately, no one took any pictures because we are all too forgetful.

Tomorrow is James' first preschool field trip! Hopefully I'll remember the camera for that, and remember to post about it too.


19 October 2005

visitors, Halloween, and plate tectonics

Things are busy in the Mergenthaler-Schmidt household. My sister and her fiancee are arriving tomorrow for a long weekend visit, so we've been cleaning -- a LOT -- in preparation. The cleaning gets done very slowly, however, with two energetic little boys in the house. I think both of the boys are going through growth spurts, because they are both wanting to eat constantly.

James is starting to get pretty excited about Halloween. We have a preschool Halloween party as well as trick-or-treating this year, so we'll be celebrating all weekend long. About 43 times a day James comes up with a new costume idea, although we've already got two costumes for him. Some of his more original ideas include the letter L, fire, and an earthquake. When I asked him what an earthquake costume would look like, he replied, "A rock. A very very circle rock." (He asked me about earthquakes yesterday, and I gave him a very vague, simplified explanation of plate tectonics, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't really get it. It's tough when your child is interested in things that he can't adequately comprehend yet. And it doesn't help him any that he's interested in science and tends to ask me about things -- I have a feeling that even if he were intellectually mature enough to understand certain concepts, he still wouldn't understand them thoroughly with the explanations I'm giving him. Poetry? Music? Religion? Those I can do. Too bad he's not interested yet.)


16 October 2005

Sunday photo

I cannot for the life of me figure out how to post more than one picture without totally screwing up the formatting, so I'm posting just one and uploading more to our photo site (link at right).

This isn't the best photo of either of my children, but I'm posting it to illustrate the adoring gaze Evan gets on his face whenever James is even remotely nearby. James doesn't have to be paying attention to Evan at all (most of the time he isn't) but Evan will stare and stare, starry-eyed and vaguely smiley, totally in love with his older brother. It's about the most adorable thing I've ever seen.


14 October 2005

highlights of the week

I'm already failing in my attempt to update daily. What can I say; it's been a slow week. But we've had a few highlights worth mentioning:

  • DDR! We got Dance Dance Revolution for X-Box, which will be great fun in the 6-month-long Rochester winter awaiting us. Once James learns how to play, it'll be fun for the whole family!
  • Our baby has fleas! Okay, actually, some friends of ours inadvertently brought some fleas into our house, and we discovered this only when we found them on the baby: one in his hair, and one in his ear. EW.
  • Monday, Greg and I left the kids for the first night since Evan was born! We went to a social function for the Institute of Optics, and we left kids with my uncle Billy, and my cousins Rachel and Matthew. We were a little worried about Evan since he was crying when we left, but apparently all went well. We'll have to do this more often.
  • Thursday, I assisted in James' preschool classroom, and it's just so cool to watch your kid in an environment that exists apart from you, to see how he interacts with the teacher and other kids, to see how he behaves and handles himself independently of Greg and me. We've had nothing but positive reports from his teacher so far.
  • I've created a Wish List for the boys (well, mostly James at this point). This is not a "buy things for our kids!!!" kind of thing; it's more just to give people an idea of what James is interested in, for Christmas and birthday presents when the time comes. (I've added the Wish List to the links on the right side of my page, along with my own Wish List, because, hey, a girl can dream, right?)

And... that's the news from Rochester. I'll try to be better about posting, and maybe put up some pictures this weekend.


10 October 2005

religious education

It started this morning when I overheard James, playing by himself, mention Heaven -- something we've never brought up.

Me: What's Heaven?
James: It's a place waaaay up in the sky.
Me: And who lives in Heaven?
James: Giants. But they're invisible, like ghosts, so you can't see them.

Obviously someone has been giving my son an incomplete lesson in religion. I found out that he'd heard about Heaven from one of his friends in the neighborhood*, so I offered to explain Heaven a little more clearly to him, telling him that some people believe this is where we go after we die (he understands death in a very vague sense), some people believe God lives in Heaven, that it's supposed to be a beautiful place where you're always happy, and so on.

When Greg came in, I told him about the conversation, and, well, leave it to Greg to challenge the fledgling religious understanding of a 3-year-old.

Greg: Heaven is way up in the sky? What about the planets and the stars? (things we've been discussing lately)
James: Well, actually, Heaven is in the Milky Way.
Greg: The Milky Way? But --
James: Well, actually it's up in the clouds.
Greg: But there are clouds around all of the planets.

And so on.

I think this is a great example of the different approaches Greg and I have in dealing with James' questions. I like to encourage James to think imaginatively, to appreciate other ideas and viewpoints. Greg encourages James to think critically, analytically, rationally. We each do some of both -- neither is exclusive of the other -- but we each have our preferred method. I'm reading James books of myths and legends, and Greg is drawing diagrams of the solar system. I've always appreciated that Greg and I have different interests and strengths, but it's becoming increasingly clear to me what a benefit this will be for our kids. They'll have the best of both worlds.

*This happens pretty often in our neighborhood, since most of the Americans here are Christian. The funny thing is, James hears Christian terms and phrases without the other children explaining them, so he's left a little confused. I think my favorite example of this was the day not too long ago when James came home and asked me, "What's Jesus?"


09 October 2005


Yesterday Evan rolled over front-to-back for the first time! This is just two weeks after rolling over back-to-front for the first time. And he's only four months old! I checked my records, and James didn't start rolling over until almost 5 months, so this seems very early to me.

My mom assures me that second (and, like me, third) children do everything earlier than first children because they have someone to copy and catch up to. This makes sense for things like walking and talking, but rolling over? Evan came up with this on his own, and it makes me so curious to know just how babies figure these things out anyway. Where does the impulse to roll come from? What goes on in those little brains? Is it purposeful? Is it an accident that becomes a habit? Baby development is so interesting.

Of course, I'm very excited that my baby is learning new things. But part of me is also a little disappointed, because... Evan is my baby. Quite possibly the last one, and I had hoped his babyhood would last a long time so I could really enjoy it. And, who knows, it still may last a long time. But the older my children get, the less hurry I'm in to have them grow up.


08 October 2005

reliving childhood

It's been a rainy couple of days, so we've all had a lot of quality time together forced upon us. But surprisingly, no one is too stir-crazy yet. In fact, we've even been enjoying ourselves despite the close quarters. One of the things I love best about being a parent is introducing my kiddo to things I loved as a child, and discovering together new things that we both end up loving. It's exciting to me that we're far enough past the Barney/Sesame Street/Teletubbies stage that we're able to find places where my interests, and Greg's, overlap with James'.

Last night we watched a movie called Castle in the Sky, by Hayao Miyazaki of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke fame. We're becoming big fans of Miyazaki in this house; My Neighbor Totoro is already a favorite of James' and mine. His films are beautifully animated, full of fantasy and adventure -- good fun for the whole family. James and I both enjoyed it a lot, enough to warrant a repeat viewing later this week so that Greg can see it too.

And this afternoon I was able to share with James something I love: we found an illustrated, abridged, young-children's version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the library. Admittedly, I never read this as a child (I read the entire Narnia series for the first time at age 19) but I've always loved children's literature, especially fantasy. Greg, unfortunately, is anti-Narnia, thanks to a laughably horrible BBC version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that we watched once. Maybe the upcoming Disney movie will convert him.

This afternoon the boys are playing with Star Wars legos. (When I say "the boys" I mean Greg and James, since Evan is still too small to do much of anything. And nothing is better than legos at bringing out the boy in Greg. Not that the boy in Greg is ever very hard to find...) Hours of fun for them both, thankfully, since we're expecting to be rained in all weekend. It's nice though, as long as we're stuck indoors, that we're all getting to indulge in childish delights.


06 October 2005

welcome to the jungle

As the only woman in a household with three males, sometimes I get overwhelmed with testosterone. Okay, the baby doesn't really factor into that (yet!) but the boyfriend and the preschooler are enough to make this a very masculine household at times. Video games, legos, race cars, Star Wars, volcanoes, superheroes... These are all well and good, and some actually more fun than I would have expected before I had sons -- but sometimes a girl just needs a break.

It may sound strange that I'm taking a break from the boys by... blogging about the boys. But despite the exasperation, the exhaustion, the testosterone, and the volume, they are, quite simply, my life. Without them I wouldn't have much to say here. And although this will be primarily a family blog, I reserve the right to write about anything I deem relevant to my family, including but not limited to parenting, society, current events, entertainment. I'll try to stay off the soapbox, but I can't make any promises.

My goal is to post something every day -- a picture, a quote, an anecdote, a milestone -- in part to keep family and friends updated on our lives, and in part for myself, to record memories, to remember and appreciate the small things that make up our everyday lives. So welcome to the family; I hope you'll find something here to interest you.