Friday, January 30, 2015

A Random Assortment

~ Laura Ingalls' autobiography released, but too few.

~ Oooh...I loved Bletchley Circle. They were awarded broaches, not medals. And met up for a book launch.

~ Bob Dylan sounds a bit like Aristotle:

OK, a lot of people say there is no happiness in this life and certainly there’s no permanent happiness. But self-sufficiency creates happiness. Just because you’re satisfied one moment — saying yes, it’s a good meal, makes me happy — well, that’s not going to necessarily be true the next hour. Life has its ups and downs, and time has to be your partner, you know? Really, time is your soul mate.
~ A review of McDonald's by an old lady in North Dakota. (Via Cardigan who said this woman's writing reminds her of mine!)

~ Never thought I'd be linking to David Brooks, but I found this interesting (on online dating, which I like just fine):

When you look at all the people looking for love and vocation today, you realize we live in a culture and an online world that encourages a very different mind-set; in a technical culture in which humanism, religion and the humanities, which are the great instructors of enchantment, are not automatically central to life.
I have to guess some cultures are more fertile for enchantment — that some activities, like novel-reading or music-making, cultivate a skill for it, and that building a capacity for enchantment is, these days, a countercultural act and a practical and fervent need.
~ Garance, on the Art of Living. I like Garance a lot, and insofar as I have any interest in fashion (let's just say I care about it leagues more than I did when I was a kid), it's probably due to her and street style photographers like Bill Cunningham and the Sartorialist. But this stuck out to me because I've been thinking about lifestyle a bit, particularly as Francisco and I are combining our ideas of the good life in our little family. And most especially with the coming of Baby Leopard, who means that we're more aware of how we use our time than ever. One of my friends told me when the baby was born, "Stay true to what you and Francisco deem as priorities." I think about this a lot--we can't do everything we did before, when it seemed like time was without a limit, but we can still do some things, so we have to figure out what we care most about and start there.

If I were living on my own, one of the first things to go would be mealtimes: I could survive just fine on carrots and pretzels (and chocolate!) (I don't actually like raw carrots much, but you know what I mean). In fact, I grew up in a family with extended dinner hours that sometimes drove me crazy--I just want to get on with life and be "productive." But Francisco really loves eating together, so that's part of our lifestyle. And I'm sure my life is better for it. We do love entertaining together; plus, that's an excellent thing to do with a kid, who is okay at going out to eat, but better at sitting in his highchair in his house (we can go seamlessly from awake and playing to napping and back). Going to church together on Sundays is another good part of our week--we all get a bit dressed up and go to our very nice church (good music, good people, good hymns). And afterward we go to the cheap produce market, which is near the church, or to the diner where all the people are friendly and love babies. And we love art galleries, so we subject the baby to that fairly regularly. And we love traveling, so we still try to do that from time to time. I think that's as far as we've gotten in terms of lifestyle. I think we need to incorporate some walking and then a little running when the weather gets better.

~ This building used to be on our block. I bet that tea store was great. (Via Francisco.)

~ On that new biography of Eliot. Things I never knew:

 In 1948, a line from one of his poems was used in an ad for Esso petrol (‘Time future contained in time past’).
In early 1899, when he was ten, he started a magazine called the Fireside, and its front page announced that this was ‘edited by T.S. Eliot’.

Friday, January 23, 2015

On Staying at Home and Not

This is mostly so I can remember, as the rest of this blog is.

So, first caveat, I have the best job ever: I really only have to be in the office two days a week, and those aren't even 8 hour days. Today I had a meeting on a Friday and my chair hired childcare so I could bring my son with me and play in the next room. I didn't have to go back into the office until four months after Baby Leopard was born and had only a little work from home after his birth. Second caveat, I have the best husband ever: he works from home a lot of the time and helps out a ton--makes lots of dinner and breakfasts and lunches--sometimes all three in one day if I'm lucky.

That said, staying at home with Baby Leopard was really hard--being responsible for his well being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week was really grueling. I have no idea how people do it with two kids or three or four. At some point the kids start helping, but I think it takes a while. Just feeding Baby Leopard and myself while trying to recover from giving birth was often all I could do. Also, I have no idea how people take care of babies with husbands who work long hours. The first day that Baby Leopard went to daycare and I worked on my own work was blissful and felt easy in comparison to what I had been doing.

I really do want to be working in addition to mothering. I love my work--I love teaching and writing and reading. I'm grateful to continue to do the old things that I love, even post-Baby Leopard's arrival.

BUT teaching and prepping and grading, not to mention trying to publish (haven't even gotten back into that yet), is a lot to do while taking care of Baby Leopard and trying to occasionally clean and do laundry and go to the grocery store. Just basically survive and not smell like baby throw-up. Rather regularly I'm overwhelmed with how I'm going to manage. It's hard to have two things that you care about, but good, too. What I'm saying is, pray for me. And really pray for those moms who have five kids, because it makes me tired just thinking about them.

Also, this is a long-winded explanation of why there were no pictures of Baby Leopard in the last Parenthood post: I haven't remembered to take any and mostly he just wears pajamas when we're at home, anyway.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


"The worst thing isn't him--it's you"

--Francisco on Baby Leopard waking up at 5 a.m.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Sorry, this installment is picture-less. 

This four-month sleep regression (following lots of quick developments) is no joke--last night I think Baby Leopard woke up 6 times. I haven't been this tired yet. It's just exhausting to have your sleep that chopped up. 

He learned how to do raspberries this week and proceeded to do them all day, non-stop, for a couple of days. Sometimes he does them first thing in the morning. 

His pediatrician was impressed at his four-month appointment: he was looking at her when she talked and then made sounds back at her when she was done talking. She also thought he sat up on his own for a split second, which she said they wouldn't expect till 6 months. I don't need him to be ahead of curves (I don't think), but boy am I ever proud when he is (although I'm sure it doesn't matter in the scheme of things). 

I joined a breast-feeding support group on fb. Although it doesn't matter much, it's a local one associated with my birth center. It's great. So much of parenting at this point is just reading and thinking and then guessing what will work and hoping you're doing the right thing. And then second and third guessing yourself. Anyway, this group gives lots of different (but generally crunchy) responses to your questions. It's great. 

Relatedly, someday I want to write a scholarly article: An Oakeshottian Critique of Baby Scheduling. Do you think APSR would take it? 

On Baby Leopard's second day of daycare, he smiled adoringly at his caregiver when I arrived to take him home. He didn't even look at me. Oh my--how quickly babies forget and adapt. Also: I don't really like him liking anyone better than me; woe to the woman who tries to marry him. 

He's started grabbing both feet--one in each hand. Happy baby stance from yoga, as far as I remember (from back in the days when I exercised). 

Tonight we heard him fussing in the living room from where we were cooking in the kitchen--he sounded pretty mad so we hustled out: Baby Leopard had flipped himself from his back to his front and was getting tired of keeping his head up. After so many months of being unable to move without assistance it is shocking when he does it by himself. (Also, why are babies so averse to laying their head down when they're on their bellies?)

January 18th, 4 and a half months, Baby Leopard's first tooth is peaking out, just as he gets over his very first respiratory infection. He's a pretty good sport about all this. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015


"So enjoy this book if you can. You are responsible for what is good in it, and for what is bad."

--from Machiavelli's dedication in his Discourses on Livy

A Random Assortment

 ~ Lots of Eliot stuff coming out this year; interesting piece from a new biographer:

Eliot’s profound but unsettling interrogation of ideas of tradition also struck – and still strikes – a deep chord with China. “Tradition and the Individual Talent” was the first of his works to be translated there. Mid-20th-century Chinese poets who engaged with Eliot’s work were fascinated by continuity and disruption in their own, and other, cultural histories. So, when I met the influential poet-critic Yuan Kezia in 1986, he was visiting Britain as a poet and translator of modernist literature and as someone to whom Eliot’s work had mattered a good deal; yet he was also, as he made sure to tell me, “the translator of Burns”. To English readers, it may seem strange to connect Robert Burns and TS Eliot; yet to Scottish or Chinese readers the juxtaposition can make sense: both these poets are tradition-bearers whose ideas blended continuity and disruption, fusing modern literary culture with oral heritage. Some of the most powerful lines in Eliot’s work, after all, come from nursery rhymes – whether The Waste Land’s “London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down” (a telling line in a poem obsessed with loss of connection), or that distorted nursery rhyme beginning “Here we go round the prickly pear” in “The Hollow Men”.
~ On intentionally falling in love. I have lots of still-forming thoughts on this, perhaps for another day. Regardless, these accompanying 36 falling-in-love questions are interesting.

~ This man was thought to be in a vegetative state for 10 years while he was conscious. (Interesting to me since one approach that some disability theorists take in arguing for human dignity of even those with apparently severe cognitive disabilities is that we don't know what consciousness they experience.)

~ Simcha on cars:

What piece of mind there is, on the other hand, when you don't exactly know what color your car is supposed to be, under the grime and the peeling paint. Nothing can compare to the interior freedom you can gain by acknowledging that the rear bumper is not so much attached to your van as stalking it, and that some of the seats were not only designed for another another make and model of car, they seem to be grieving over the separation.
I agree: I bought a car with a couple of dings already in it, and then proceeded to add a few myself and couldn't even tell. When I shattered Francisco's phone the other week, on the other hand, I felt it. This is why I try not to buy or own nice, expensive things.

~ Lawrence, who just moved to Paris, suggested that the Charlie Hebdo thing isn't about free speech (he said that free speech is prohibited in plenty of other instances in France), but about anti-Muslim sentiment. I wasn't really sure about what he was saying, but this certainly reinforces his point:
All told, up to 100 people are under investigation for making or posting comments that support or try to justify terrorism 

Friday, January 16, 2015


The film is beautifully shot in black and white, although maybe too beautifully shot: the director went so far to be innovating and striking that there's hardly a regular old full-body shot in the film. More often you see a character's head in the very lower left corner of the screen.

But of course, being set in Poland, there are beautiful locations for the shots, as well--great architecture and houses.

Secondly, about the story: it's rather moving--Ida, who has lived at a convent since she was a baby, is about to become a nun. They send her off to meet her aunt before she does. The story of family discovery is compelling; the religious aspect, and particularly the ending, weren't fleshed out enough and weren't at all believable, in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


So I'm always pissed off when I go to the pediatrician (which is, of course, all the time) because they very ostentatiously write down the time I arrive (generally before the appointment time; occasionally a few minutes after) and then proceed to make me wait up to 40 minutes to see the doctor (as I bounce the baby around and try to distract him from the fact that we're stuck in a small room that is not our living room). I really, really want to pull out a big sheet of paper and a big marker and ostentatiously write down the time at which I am finally seen by a doctor.

However, today took the cake: we came in to receive a couple of vaccines (we divided up the vaccines from his four-month appointment into two different appointments). I walked up to the receptionist who proceeded to ignore me as she dealt with another situation (fair enough). In the middle of dealing with this other situation, she looked up at me and was like, "What do you need?" I said, "I'm here to sign in." (There was no pen with the sign-in sheet.) She continued to ignore me and dealt with the other situation (which was like, a mis-scheduled appointment, not a sick child, just to be clear). When she was really ready to talk to me, "I said I'm here with Baby Leopard." She said, "Which shots are you here for?" I said, "I have no idea." She looked it up and then said, "Oh, we're out of Prevnar," and tells me she'll call me when they get it in. (COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE CALLED ME WHEN YOU RAN OUT?!) She then proceeds to tell me that she'll cancel my appointment and I won't have to pay a cancellation fee. (HOW GENEROUS! IT'S YOUR FAULT THAT I CAN'T GO TO MY APPOINTMENT TO WHICH I BUNDLED UP MY BABY AND WALKED FOR 20 MINUTES IN 20 DEGREE WEATHER?! HOW NICE OF YOU NOT TO CHARGE ME A CANCELLATION FEE.) Finally, because there was nothing to say, I simply turned and walked away. "Sorry!" she called quietly after me.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Tonight Francisco and I had a date night to the grocery store. It was great: the kid was quiet and fell asleep on the way home, and there were lots of good deals. It's amazing how low your standards fall and how quickly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


It's Baby Leopard's first day of daycare. Simultaneously really missing him and so happy to be back at work.

Friday, January 2, 2015


I love those little eyes peaking out at me from the stroller. (On Christmas Eve.)

Suddenly at almost four months, he started playing with toys--really engaging with them. It's adorable and amazing. He's also beginning to be aware of his feet; although he can't quite reach them, he tries. (It only took a day or so for him to learn how to grab them--now he routinely sticks his right fist in his mouth and simultaneously grabs his left big toe.)

He can move in a circle on the floor now--lift up his legs, fall over on his side, each time moving a little more to the left until he makes it 360 degrees.

And now, still short of four months, he just learned to propel himself forward a little bit (he made it maybe a foot) by doing something that looks like the worm. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, after mass, our family took a little walk around town, which was quiet and charmingly decorated.

We went for the first time to the Children's mass due to Baby Leopard's bedtime--it was sweet, with a little Christmas pageant by the kids (and one particularly adorable little angel).

We sang lots of Christmas carols, including the Little Drummer Boy--a surprising choice.