Monday, March 31, 2008

Mr. Ambassador

On my days at home with the kids, I usually wear Blueberry for much of the day in a sling. This particular sling was made for us by a friend, and its two main charms are that it fits me well and it is simplicity itself. It is basically a folded cloth sewed into a sling of fixed length. Also, its fashion fabric is a striking crimson rough silk.

When I take the baby out -- for some tummy time, a nap, or some time in the Neglect-o-matic exersaucer -- I usually continue to wear the sling. It helps keeps the "attachment" in attachment parenting, and I don't have to think about where I put it down last.

But wearing the crimson sash without the baby does give one a certain look. At first I felt like a beauty pageant contestant, but that wasn't quite right. Instead, its shape and striking crimson color made me think of formal wear such as a foreign ambassador might wear to an event of state.

That's right, I'm a real Mr. Ambassador over here.

I will say, though, that if someone were to spit up on the sash of a real ambassador as often as Blueberry does, that someone would probably be removed from the event of state. There would probably be an international incident.

And of course I would have no choice but to demand satisfaction.

Monday, March 24, 2008


If you've seen our little girl's eyes, you know they look like little blueberries. So this is the blog pseudonym she will get for the time being.

So, rounding out the roster, we have:

Monkey Daddy
Ma Chere

...and introducing...

Pop and Oma

It's been great having my parents around for the past 8 months or so. Typically, they live on a sailboat for most of the year. Lately (since 2004) the sailboat has been in the Mediterranean. That makes visits from my parents rarer than we would like. Communication is often difficult, with ship-to-shore technical difficulties and large time zone differences to accommodate. So having them in the States -- and usually just a 3 hour drive from their condo south of here -- has been much better.

They've been in the States since they dropped everything, stashed their boat in some unintended and obscure port in the Med, and high-tailed it to DC. When Ma Chere was hospitalized after Blueberry (temporary blog pseudonym for Baby Girl) was born -- and then Blueberry herself was hospitalized -- they came a-runnin'. Of course, we were thankful for that. And somehow we all survived an explosive, mutually detrimental stomach virus around the same time.

But here were Pop and Oma for a brief visit on Easter Weekend. Easter egg hunting fun was had by all. A road crew left a steamroller parked on our street a few blocks away over the weekend, so steamroller driving fun was had by Boom. And making use of my parents' time during my day at home from paid work, I put them in charge of the kids and quickly recoated our 100-year-old roof this morning.

The plan was for Oma to take Boom to the park around the same time that Blueberry started her morning nap. With both kids out of the way, I could apply myself on task with the roof coating, about a 90 minute job if you do it slapdash fashion (as I did). With Oma working with Boom and Pop manning Blueberry's baby monitor for her awakening, everyone had a job.

And this plan was also aimed at giving Pop & Oma some special time with Blueberry. One of her endearing qualities is the sweet way she wakes up. She squawks for a while to let you know she's awake. And then she greets the first face she sees with the sweetest smile you can imagine. Over to the changing table, the sweet smile and laughter continue. Getting dressed is more smiles and laughter. It is some really enjoyable play time, as sweet as can be. I was happy my dad got to experience that.

My parents prolonged their visit by a couple of hours, hitting the road a bit late. That meant Oma could give Blueberry her lunchtime bottle and put her down for her long nap. (As an auxiliary purpose, Pop could make Easter eggs into egg salad sandwiches, which were good.) Giving Blueberry a bottle can be a little challenging, because she can be a little fussy and sensitive to stimuli right before bed. But Oma was able to work through it, serving up all 7 ounces of "white gold" that Ma Chere pumped before leaving for work this morning. Oma drew out the necessary burps, and Blueberry slept uninterrupted for a full nap. And once you get past the fussiness, giving Blueberry a bottle and putting her down for a nap is a very peaceful, restful sensation.

And while Pop and Oma each got to spend some special time with Blueberry, the past few months have seen Boom forge a nice relationship with them. He enjoys them, trusts them, plays with them, eats with them, and generally recognizes them as falling within his circle of care.

Here's hoping that the delivery of their boat back to the New World will make visits and communication easier and more frequent.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter

Ma Chere was planning our Easter.

I give her lots of praise for having the strategic vision required to look up from the daily grind of raising two kids in diapers and find opportunities to mark occasions with meaning. That includes finding time to spend with friends, but also celebrating holidays in festive style. I support her 100 percent, and I do my share either by contributing to the festivities directly, or by watching the kids to give her the space she needs to operate.

But sometimes -- okay, often -- Ma Chere gets carried away. Discretion is occasionally the better part of strategic vision. Especially when we are still feeling the ripples from an especially busy work period I had at the beginning of the month. So when the general topic of Easter came up, and Ma Chere ventured "Let's have an Easter open house and invite a lot of friends to brunch," I got exasperated.

I exclaimed, "Sweet Mary on the cross!"

Now, our religious observance is a little hard to describe, and two kids in diapers makes any acts of devotion irregular at best. In fact, I think I would have to describe our current status as "lapsed Unitarians" -- which is tripping over a pretty low hurdle.

But even then, I'm not sure that's the way the Story goes. (Maybe they were just being thorough?)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Two moons!"

Boom said, "I want to be the moon."

"But there's only one moon."

"There's two moons. The big moon, and I'm a moon."

Moving constellation

The return of warmer brings many good things, but it's tough to beat grilling. Tenderize some chicken breasts, bag them with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley...then grill them a few hours later. Good stuff.

I did the marinating, then we put the kids to bed, and then I fired up the grill. It w as dark despite daylight savings (which came early this year).

It was a clear night with a waxing sliver of a crescent moon. So despite the city lights, I could see quite a few stars, at least dozens. As I scanned the southern sky for more stars to add to the count, my eyes sort of shifted focus or depth of field. Some of the stars were moving.

A band of faint but steady stars was pulsating, changing its amorphous shape but moving coherently and getting slowly brighter.

Except that they weren't stars. My eyes shifted focus again -- to a much nearer depth -- and I construed them as they really were, as a flock of birds.

And just then I heard the faint honking. The birds were calling to one another, shifting in and out of formation. It was not a well-ordered group at all, with no "V" shape or letterable formation whatsoever. But the faintness of the honking was an indication of how high up the birds were flying. Even as they passed overhead, they were hard to make out individually. Their bright white shapes -- only slightly bigger than stars, and only slightly noisier -- ghosted past.

Despite the chaos, it was a beautiful sight that brought peace to my heart.

I asked a colleague at work who happens to be an avid birder, and he guessed that it was a migrating bevy of swans.