Thursday, August 25, 2016


20.5 months

Little Leopard crosses himself when we pray before meals--a primitive crossing from shoulder to shoulder. Also, he can identify crosses on churches and crosses himself then, too. (Pretty hard to explain death to him, though.)

21 months

A plastic coat hanger is a shape shifter--it goes from vacuum cleaner to umbrella to shovel to street cleaning machine. (The street cleaning machine means it takes a very long time to walk to daycare.) 

Chester (his established nickname--only I call him that--so I might as well use it on the blog) also performs an elaborate mime of covering himself with sunscreen (something we do together every morning now that it's summer). In the middle, he sometimes throws in a quick imitation of a statue of a policeman in our neighborhood

Tonight, out of nowhere, he counted to ten!

21.5 months

When I run after him it's like he gets turbo charged and runs faster than ever and I can barely catch him. 
He loves playing at the pool. 

22 months

His communication skills are skyrocketing. We can have conversations now. His memory is also incredible--he can fill in the end of lots of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. 

He must have learned, "No Way!" said with great emphasis from daycare. 

22.5 months

He is obsessed with "baskeball" (which he ​sometimes ​abbreviates as "baske") and "tendis." He has slept with a badmin​t​o​n ​racket (which he calls a tennis racket) at least once. 

He loves our extended visit at my parents--he thinks he's a big boy helping out in the garden (eating Papa's green beans and cucumbers as if they're corn on the cob, which is his favorite). And at my parents he plays outside all the time, which is the ideal for my little boy. 

He can jump now and is just starting to be able to categorize according to color. He also sometimes now says "thank you" of his own accord. 

​His favorite songs for lullabies are 1) "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and 2) "Swing Low."​

​23 months

He started doing some things on his own without needing me to prompt him! After going to the park for instance, he came in and took off his shoes and drank some water. Insane!​

​He has enjoyed watching some horsies jumping and shot put on the Olympics. 

​After a week at his new daycare, he seems to finally be settling in, which is a relief. Although a new curiosity is that he seems to wear his fisherman hat 24/7 at school--inside and outside and even during naptime. I guess it's his comfort item. Also, they told me that he adopted the yellow chair in the classroom as his and always insists on sitting on it. 

He is very good at interacting with people--he says, "How do you do?" and shakes people's hand when he meets them. He's also super chatty--he wants to tell everyone how someone hit our car and then illustrates by hitting whatever is near him with his hand. He thinks someone literally got out of their car and walked up to our car and hit it with their hand, which is why the car is now at the car doctor, the mechanic. 

Nana made some great toys out of cardboard boxes, which he loves--one box is a stove, another piece of cardboard is a monitor attached to his keyboard, another is a car. 

He transitioned to a big boy bed now that we're at our new place. More waking up at night for a week and then all was well. 

23.5 months

He's now starting to sing songs and pick out letters--especially the first letter of his name, which he thinks belongs to him and which he finds everywhere (he even thought he saw it in a step-ladder stored on a wall). 

We feel really bad making him move, although he's been really resilient. But every once and a while when we were walking to our new apartment, he would say, "I want to go home." Meaning our old home. 

We are fast approaching his two year birthday and the only things I've bought him are three books (and they're my favorite books, too, not even his!). Poor kid. On the other hand, a Dutch friend of mine told me that his parents got him two books every year for his birthday, so maybe it's a good tradition? 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Good Car is Hard to Find

In the new genre of pieces lamenting lost Sentras, established recently (as far as I know) by Julia, to whom I also owe this title, I offer my own grief.

At least Seb, who was fittingly named by Ilana, is going to a good new home with Ilana (I never called or thought of my car by its name until right now.), but transferring the title was more emotional than I anticipated. I've had that car for just under 8 years and just under 100,000 miles. It took me to St. Louis and back, to Maine, to North Carolina and Tennessee.

It was a model car with very few problems, despite it's age--a radiator something at some point, occasionally the battery would die and I never found out why (about three times in as many years, nothing very recently), a belt broke (and my dad and I--mostly my dad--fixed it in 32 degree weather--that is one tough engine to figure out), the heat shield came lose, which made a racket, but caused no problems (so we lived with the racket rather than paying to have it removed). Really it was the best car ever; our new (two-year old) car, for contrast, has already had to go to the shop twice and now someone hit it, so it will have to go back again. And because I bought the Sentra with a couple of scrapes, I never minded when I or anyone else (Francisco) added to the collection.

I didn't bump it too often--once I (gently) hit the metal that protects the gas tanks from cars at a gas station. I must have hit something else once or twice, but I don't really remember. Frankly, it's incredible that I didn't hit more things given the craziness of drivers on Lancaster Avenue. I routinely barely escaped with my life.

The car was small and comfortable and could take me really fast, like when I got a ticket for going 86, which thankfully I got waved since it carried the legal stigma equal to prostitution (some sort of misdemeanor). The car came without cruise control, which is why I got that ticket, driving alone at night on an empty road, listening to a basketball game.

And I loved the color. Neither Hopkins, from whom I bought it (for way too little money, if memory serves), nor Ilana, who gets it after me, like the color very much, but I think it's fantastic--one of my favorites. I wish I could take a swatch of paint with me.

If we didn't have a kid, I think I'd advocate just buying another Sentra. An experience like that one makes me wish to only ever drive Sentras again. But its small size, so comfortable, and yet Francisco and I would always bump elbows, has become a liability. Francisco also claims it's not cross-country-drive worthy anymore, although I'd beg to differ. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


From The Cloisters. Not taken by me. A friend shared this on facebook with the excellent title, "Immaculate Cosleeping."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

True Grit

Francisco was delighted to discover that an old newspaper from my hometown (which also had, it appears, state-wide and nation-wide editions back in its prime) was called The Grit. He claims that grit is an identifying feature of my state, my family, and myself (not to mention his grandmother, who is quite a lady, and lives alone in her home at 97, with declining eyesight and hearing). It's not something I thought much about till he pointed it out: I have always paid attention to (one of) the meanings of my name, which is courage, and tried to embody that. (Although I suspect it's not any traditional name meaning, but something made up to be inspirational.)

But now that he's pointed it out, grit is something I'm quite proud of. It includes, I think, the ability to endure uncomfortable situations (in my case, to save money)--as is evidenced by my choice of the $11 6:45 a.m. megabus ticket I purchased the other month, which entailed getting up before 5, over the much later and more comfortable $70 amtrak ticket, which I still ended up needing to buy in addition to the bus ticket, since my bus was two hours late. It is evidenced by the ability to persist in applications through frequent rejection, something I think I've shown to the point of embarrassment.

However, I would say that courage seems to be more noble and honorable and a bigger deal than a little bit of grit. Let's hope they're not mutually exclusive.

Monday, August 15, 2016


At the grocery store, at 9 p.m., chatting with the older woman in front of me:

She: "How are you?"
Me: "I'm tired."
She: "I'm not. I still have to put my chickens in when I get home. You've got to or else the coons'll get 'em."

She also called me honey half a dozen times.

I honestly thought that I grew up in a small town. Turns out it was a sizable city. I ain't never even been to a town this small before.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Who thought the story of Jonah was a good idea for a children's book? I get that kids like big fish, but that is one confusing story to interpret. (Jonah's prophecy is not really fulfilled; God gives him shade and then cruelly takes it away, etc.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


In honor of the feast of Edith Stein: 

Are you the master who builds the eternal cathedral,Which towers from the earth through the heavens?Animated by you, the columns are raised highAnd stand immovably firm.Marked with the eternal name of God,They stretch up to the light,Bearing the dome,Which crowns the holy cathedral,Your work that encircles the world:Holy Spirit God's molding hand! 
                       --from her novena of the Holy Spirit

And from a poem she wrote on Good Friday, according to the internet:

Today I stood with you beneath the cross 
And felt more clearly than I ever did 
That you became our Mother only there. 
But those whom you have chosen for companions 
To stand with you around the eternal throne, 
They must stand with you beneath the Cross, 
And with the lifeblood of their bitter pains, 
Must purchase heavenly glory for those souls 
Whom God's own Son entrusted to their care.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Random Assortment

~ "The Stranger Guest: The Literature of Pregnancy and New Motherhood"--wonderful! Via MSI

~ On working with TSE.

~ Podcast (in part) about Geel.

~ Really excellent piece about approaching disability through acceptance, rather than by attempting to "fix" the person. (This builds on the Geel podcast.)

~ The homily from the funeral mass of the murdered priest:

Evil is a mystery. It culminates in horrific moments that takes us beyond what is human. Is not that what you meant, Jacques, with your last words? You fell to the ground after the first stab; you tried to push your attacker with your feet, and you said, “Go away, Satan.” Again you said, “Begone, Satan.” In this you expressed your faith in humanity, created good, but gripped by the devil. 
“Jesus healed all who were oppressed by the devil,” says the Gospel. 
This is not to excuse the murderers — those who make a pact with the devil! But we must uphold with Jesus that every man, every woman, every human person can change his heart with His grace. This is how we make ours the worlds of Jesus even as they may seem beyond our strength today, “Well! I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Sunday, July 31, 2016

County Fair

We visited the county fair somehow accidentally on the day it was free, even the rides! (We did have to pay for parking--$3 dollars in someone's yard.) Although we only made it on the carousel before a thunderstorm, plus Chester only rides rides with me beside him, which rules out almost everything. We had to miss the ferris wheel because the storm was rapidly approaching and the man who managed it was on a power trip, wanting everyone to remain in the line although it was clear that the storm would close it.

The first building at the fair housed award-winning food: Layer cakes slouching on paper plates, cut in half to show off the layers, with a piece on a server. Sometimes there was plastic draped over the top. How are those cakes going to look after a week of heat? The cakes were interspersed with those cookies with hershey kisses in the middle and other randomness.

There were also prize-winning jams, vegetables, and wildflowers in little vases. Why is there a prize for that?

There were lots of different kinds of animals and exceptional cowboy-hat clad young children who manage the animals, expertly hopping over fences and pulling sheep and goats around by their mouths as the animals bleated mournfully. Chester clung to me in fear of the animals. It seems he might not be well-suited to grow up into one of those exceptional 4-H children.

There were cows and pigs and rabbits. The poultry building was transformed into a garage displaying old tractors. There were horses and miniature horses and cows. And there were more exotic animals like llamas and camels and a reindeer, baby zebra, and porcupine. And there was a small petting zoo where you could feed the animals carrots if you wanted, which Chester did not want. Plus, you had to pay $1 for the carrots. Chester is a child who saves us money.

There were rows of stands of fried food. It was deeply unfortunate that the stand that was smoking various meats was not yet open. We settled on a fried fish sandwich and french fries and a sweet waffle.

Oh, and I nearly forgot: There was some big construction and farm equipment on display that I never would have noticed, had it been for Chester's enthusiastic pointing; it pleased him probably most of all.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Random Assortment

~ The Secret Life of W.H. Auden.

~ I see more Charles Prendergast than Maurice, but I haven't seen the exhibit (although I would love to).

~ I saw references to this murdering spree in Japan, but didn't realize it was an attack specifically against disabled people.

~ On Hilary's speech:
Mothers and daughters and children in general: Clinton and the people who talked about her kept coming back to that, and while the intent was obvious — to communicate that she wasn’t all stiffness and steel — the tactic verged on overkill and was a discouraging confirmation of sexist double standards.
A man doesn’t have to prove first that he’s been a model father to be allowed to ascend to the pinnacle of his career. But apparently a woman has to show that she hasn’t shortchanged motherhood in order to get the green light.

~ On mistress-dispelling:

The companies say it typically takes about three months to dispel a mistress. Yu Feng, director of the Chongqing Jialijiawai Marriage and Family Service Center, said his team has dispelled 260 mistresses in the last two years. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016


"Envisaged from the point of view of 'agonistic pluralism', the aim of democratic politics is to construct the 'them' in such a way that it is no longer perceived as an enemy to be destroyed, but as an 'adversary', that is, somebody whose ideas we combat but whose right to defend those ideas we do not put into question. This is the real meaning of liberal-democratic tolerance, which does not entail condoning ideas that we oppose or being indifferent to standpoints that we disagree with, but treating those who defend them as legitimate opponents."

--Chantal Mouffe, The Democratic Paradox

Obama's DNC Speech

Wow: Obama's DNC speech--just what I was wishing someone, anyone would say. Actually, I have more nuanced notes than that, but there is really a lot that's good about it:

So tonight, I’m here to tell you that yes, we still have more work to do.  More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who hasn’t yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years.  We need to keep making our streets safer and our criminal justice system fairer; our homeland more secure, and our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.  We’re not done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed – that all of us are created equal and free in the eyes of God.
The preamble's more perfect union does not imply that it's ever going to be perfect, just that it will be an improvement. It's good to seek improvement, bad to seek perfection.

This is a more fundamental choice – about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.
Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s precisely this contest of ideas that pushes our country forward. 
But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative.  What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world.  
The self-government stuff pervades the speech and is great. Although I'm not really sure that presidential elections are about self-government at all. No one's saying I'll do less as president and let more up to the other branches and to state and local government.

He's respectful, though, about the debates between Republicans and Democrats, arguing that it's good (or at least not bad) to have a diversity of viewpoints. (I'm reading Chantal Mouffe's The Democratic Paradox at the moment and that's her point, too.)

Also, kudos for mentioning that Trump isn't conservative and for advocating conversation, rather than embattled withdrawing.
There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten; parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we had. 
An acknowledgement of the Trump supporters' legitimate complaints. Although he could have taken them more seriously and suggested some solutions. He quickly moves on to the greatness of the American people.
More inspiring stuff on self-government:

We are not a fragile or frightful people.  Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order.  We don’t look to be ruled.  Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that together, We, the People, can form a more perfect union.
That’s who we are.  That’s our birthright – the capacity to shape our own destiny.  That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent.  It’s what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot, and marchers to cross a bridge in Selma, and workers to organize and fight for better wages.
America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us.  It’s always been about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard, slow, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.
The sad part is that it's not clear that self-government is really happening much in the U.S. anymore. And he doesn't say what Hilary will do to encourage it. Self-government isn't something that will float all by itself into the future. That's Tocqueville's point. Self-government, incidentally, is more than: "When we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen." And self-government isn't just Congress making laws. 

We can insist on a lawful and orderly immigration system while still seeing striving students and their toiling parents as loving families, not criminals or rapists; families that came here for the same reasons our forebears came – to work, and study, and make a better life, in a place where we can talk and worship and love as we please.  

If you want to fight climate change, we’ve got to engage not only young people on college campuses, but reach out to the coal miner who’s worried about taking care of his family, the single mom worried about gas prices.