Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Tootsie Roll Indian

Today, while waiting for BioMom to go to our ultrasound, I unwrapped my cherry Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop to find the little Indian Shooting the Star with his bow and arrow.

I thought that urban legend said that this meant good luck.

It does not. However, we had great luck today. The baby looks fantastic!

Now we'll have a normal kid AND a free tootsie roll tootsie pop. What more can you ask for?


Bat was successfully caught and tossed out the window. 11:37 p.m.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Hungry Bat and the Dim-Witted Cat

This story has three, unrelated, innocuous beginnings.

Background 1: Our Feline Companions
We have two old cats. Aside from their coloration and friendliness, they are clearly distinguished by two things. First, one is ever-so-slightly heavier than the other and second, the *ahem* fullfigured of the two is remarkable for her lack of mental acumen.

Background 2: Pots and the Garage
After a trip to the gardening stores this past Saturday with HFRM#1, I could be found scrounging down in the basement/garage looking for extra pots. In the process, the hefty cat had followed me into the garage and had no intention of cutting short this unexpected adventure. Because I was impatient to get to my potting, I left her in the garage, the door to the basement ajar, with every intention of returning to close it at my earliest convenience.

Background 3: Full Bladders in the Night
At least BioMom has an excuse. For me, it is either that I am uber-hydrated, or just getting old, but I find myself having to pee regularly in the middle of the night. Usually during those pre-dawn moments where you're tricking yourself into believing that you still have several more hours of sleep, and that the alarm isn't just about to blare.

Last night, having relieved this nocturnal pressure, I returned to bed only to remind a restless BioMom of her own urinary demands. She returned, however, with a yelp and a dash for the covers.

There's something in here! She exclaimed.

With sleepy reticence, I brushed off her disquiet, only to witness wild flailings at the foot of the bed from the full-figured cat who, recently, unfairly lost a challenge to the Guinness Book of World Records contest for the animal who has spent the most time in a prone position on a couch to another feline who, it was later confirmed, had actually expired.

Surely she was chasing a moth.

When she had seemed to corner it in a collection of BioMom's pre-maternity clothes hanging on the doornob in wait for a storage location to which they will never actually reach [I expect to find these same clothes hanging on that same hook NEXT July], I got up out of bed to check out the situation.

The cat seemed quite excited about the moth, jumping and swinging at it, until, of course she saw that I had risen out of bed. To the cats, this, accompanied by the rising sun, equals tuna.

So, instead of persuing her prey, especially now that she had it cornered at only one foot above the floor (i.e. within swinging distance for her), she got completely distracted and followed me toward the door.

Is it TUNA time?

At that same moment the "moth" came sweeping out of the dress clothes and began flying and swooping around the room!

This was no moth.

I immediately grabbed the closest thing to swing back at the monster, which turned out to be one of the FYO's insubstantial (in size but not topic) book: How Are Babies Made?

It wasn't even one of the many "oversized" kids books in our library.

In retrospect, Harry Potter VI, at the bedside at the time, may have been a better choice (both for its size and its topic).

But swing away, I did, thinking of Woody Allen in Annie Hall's apartment: "I've been killing spiders since I was THIRTY!"

But, in fact, I had not been killing bats since I was thirty, and I was, actually a bit startled by the agressive night-bird swooping about our bedroom. I realized, it had probably ventured inside when I left the garage door open that fateful afternoon, nearly two days ago. It must be STARVING by now and I expected that I looked like a big, tasty mosquito to him.

Finally, it flew out into the hallway and I secured the door. A thin plank of wood separating us, the blood-sucking-nocturne with the overweight feline chasing behind. And. . . I suddenly realized. . . The FYO.

Mommie? Mo-hom? What IS that?

I crack the door a bit and yell: Come in here! Quick!!!

She runs in and we all lie, sequestered and laughing in the pre-dawn bed, safe from the bat trials that we hear playing out in the hall.

The FYO can't stop talking and asking questions about the event and a new concern emerges.

Will we have to stay here forever?

My response: Why not? The pizza guy can deliver. We've got a tv and Harry Potter. What more do we need?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Happy Endings

So, as you know, BioMom and I have, after long deliberation, decided to send the FYO to Catholic school.

It will definitely be an adventure.

Friday was our first social event as Parents Of A Kindergartener.

We had won, under some rather inauspicious circumstances, an overly expensive dinner/contribution-to-the-school (yes--in addition to the tuition that we will be paying) at a silent auction at one of the more *ahem* swanky parent-homes.

Needless to say, I did NOT have a good attitude on Friday afternoon at the thought of having an ENTIRE night free (the FYO was to have a sleepover with Sidekick) but not actually free (in the language of the economist, my opportunity cost was high not just in the expense of the dinner, but that I would rather have been nearly anywhere but there).

BioMom and I bickered at eachother intermittently during the day.

Either of us, at any given time: Well, I don't want to go EITHER!

She has been EXHAUSTED lately, and, again, the thought of a) finally getting some free non-kid time together where she b) will have to abide by the strong social norms forbidding attacks of narcolepsy (norms which are frequently ignored in the scarce post-FYO-bedtime hours between 8 and 11 p.m. at our house) would have been savored, had we not already signed up to schmooze with a gaggle of rich strangers.

Okay, I had a REALLY bad attitude.

Oh, and I was on, like, page 476 of Harry Potter VI.

I had good reason not to want to go!

Of course, we got there, and it was lovely. The food was good, the drinks were flowing, and the socio-economic diversity was unexpectedly palatable.

At around 9:30, though, we faced a fork in the road, and really, REALLY wanted, despite all advice otherwise, to take the path well-travelled:

We wanted to make the 10:00 showing of Happy Endings.

This meant, of course, leaving the party just as people were starting to relax into it, and even before the first wave-of-leavers.

I had already decided that it was either a) leave now and actually DO something while the lovely BioMom was still in the world of the living or b) stay and help in the cause of closing down the well-stocked bar.

BioMom, achy ligaments in tow, was not much for standing around much longer, or, certainly, for watching a crowd of strangers get hammered on top shelf booze. It might have been a different story if she knew everyone well enough to come away with some good gossip. But she knew that even THAT was not in store for the evening.

So, we left.

But not without controversy.

As she would tell the story, we did not create a game plan re: why we were leaving, to tell the hosts, and the few guests we knew.

As I would tell it: BioMom couldn't control the spin.

Host: Oh. Are you leaving?

Me: Yeah! You know, I NEVER get to take THIS ONE (my head tilting toward BioMom) out anymore, so I'm sneaking her off to a movie while the kid's at the sitter!

BioMom: Inwardly mortified at the thought of making them feel like we were off to bigger and better things.

The result? A very happy ending.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Imitation is the Worst Form of Flattery OR Worst Parent Moment #478

Okay, so in my worst parenting moments I cannot risk imitating (and exaggerating) the offending behavior.

My most recent WPM (worst parenting moment) occured after the FYO, in her zest to consume the delicious and rare elixer called "root beer", literally lifted it to her lips, threw back her head and gulped for at least five minutes straight without breathing.

It was as though she were a starving lioness protecting her kill for her babies. She acted the way that I picture holocaust victims described by Viktor Frankl scarfing their measly rotten weekly bread ration with the full awareness that there may be no more in the near future. He described perfectly rational,erstwhile professional and/or polite, friends/lovers/acquaintences go out of their mind in this context, hoarding over the scraps of food with their very lives at stake.

Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration. But the FYO was definitely planning on drinking the entire bottle in ONE. LONG. SWIG.

Anyway, I could not resist taking my can of diet coke and lifting to my lips, throwing back my entire body (not just my head) so that I nearly fell out of my chair and the soda spilled all over my shirt.

Let's just say it made an impression.

Probably not a good or constructive one.

But an impression none-the-less.

Sometimes I literally have no idea how BioMom can stand me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Pencil Test

Okay, so the pencil test is effin freaky.

We just did it this very moment and are speculating on the science of it. Was the lead responding to the blood in BioMom's wrist? At one point, the tip of the pencil was following her vein up her arm!

If there is any doubt out there, it DEFINITELY predicted boy.

The pencil stopped and then started, clearly going back and forth, back and forth.

Of course, I doubt, therefore I am.

BioMom, ever the researcher, whipped out her laptop and began reading the myriad websites about the pencil test. There were as many websites as people with opinions on the topic.

One in particular suggests that the difference is not straight lines v. circles, but which way the straight lines move. i.e. up and down the arm, or back and forth across the wrist. In that case, it would predict a girl. Read on and it says that a CIRCLE means boy while BACK and FORTH means girl.

I'm sorry, Anonymous, I'm with the theory of probability on this one.

From the previously cited website:

"It was unbelievable! Our baby pool had over 1000 participants, statistically, 50%, yes that's right, 500 people got it right, we had a girl!! It's unbelievable that many people would get it right! Still can't explain it, must be a miracle!"

On second thought, we DID use an unsharpened pencil. . .

Highs and Lows

Another thing we do during dinner is "highs and lows."

I think we got it from some cheezy movie like The Story of Us or something, but its a great little tradition. Basically, you go around the table and announce your best and worst parts of the day.

We've decided that if one has no actual low, that in the rare occurance that one has not had chocolate on any given day, that that is automatically one's low.

Speaking of highs and lows, I just received a little parcel from my department yesterday filled with a month's worth of mail. Its high and low included:

Low: A rejection from the Journal of Economic Education. My paper was, apparently, not right for their journal (they claimed that it attempted to bridge, unsucessfully, a new teaching technique as well as an evaluation of that technique) and they didn't even send it out to reviewers. Definitely a new low for me.

High: My student evaluation numbers. In my intermediate micro course the students either gave me a lovely pre-tenure gift, or they simply didn't hate me as much as I thouht they would. Sure, they hated me, but it wasn't near as bad as I expected!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Coming and Going

BioMom and I's THING is family dinner.

We're pretty old school about it. Its the primary time we use to socialize the FYO, teach her to be polite and eat in a civilized manner, share the day's stories, and eat a good meal.

Of course, the FYO would rather take a bite, run around, return, take another bite, go play etc. etc. drawing out the meal for several hours, talking with her mouth full, spilling foodstuffs around the room, avoiding all vegetables as well as any substantive conversation.

Except, of course, when it comes to dessert. She's THERE for dessert. Focused and attentive.

We call this "come-and-go eating".

And it is not allowed (at least at dinnertime) even if we are eating outside on the deck.

Last night BioMom was at bookclub and HFRM#1 was over for some Indian. At one point, the crafty FYO said:

Can I come and go so you can visit with your friend?

I was nearly fooled by this cunning manoever. Of course I would have liked to put a brief moratorium on polite eating in exchange for some adult conversation time!

Fortunately, she was nearly finished, so, at least for a night, her suggestion was accepted!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sex Speculation

We aren't going to find out the sex of the baby, so everyone is speculating and sending us all of the sure-fire, urban legend sex predictors available.

If you know any, we welcome them!

When Cousin was carrying her first, she travelled to Los Angeles for a conference. While walking through LAX, out of nowhere a woman, now embelleshed with the lense of retrospect as a beveiled Roma fortune-teller, hunched over after having long ago given over to the degeneration of osteoporosis said to her:

Your baby is boy.

I picture Cousin herded away in slow motion with the crowd, glancing back in ernest at the woman as she slowly grasped the implications of the woman's statement.

I have a feeling that our baby, too, is boy.

We have a short tape of its heartbeat on BioMom's dictaphone. It sounds suprisingly relaxed. Like Lance Armstrong's 30 resting beats per minute. I expected a quick whoosh whoosh whoosh but this kid's heart pumps out at only about 100 beats per minute.

Legend has it that slow heart beats live in babies with penises.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The State Tortilla's Debute

Cousin tossed me over a Minnesota quarter the other day. It was the first time I'd seen the new state quarter in the wild.

While at lunch at Chipotle the other day, the FYO had a different homage to her birthplace.

We were both famished. I was in a carb-haze when the FYO held up a chewed out little corner of her quesadilla and said:

Look! Its Minnesota!

It took me a minute to recognize it but it was there. Her little chew marks followed a virtual St. Croix while the existing corners shaped out Iowa and South Dakota. It wasn't detailed enough to show a dent for International Falls. But I didn't grow up studying the state's shape much so I only just realized that now, with Wikipedia at my fingertips.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Kids and Consciousness

There's a great story in last week's New Yorker titled "Death of a Fish" by Adam Gopnik about his kids reaction to the death of their betta "bluie".

Its main threads were:

How should we (the parents) respond to the death of a pet? Fabrication? Honesty? Behind-the-scenes replacement?

And, how do kids brains construct consciousness.

The fish had gotten stuck in its own decorative castle and couldn't get out on its own:

I watched Bluie wriggling in his window, staring out, stuck. I felt for him, another victim of grndiose Manhattan real estate, undone by his own apartment. It was one of those moments, of which parenting is full, where you scream inside "I do not know what to do about this!" while the parent you are impersonating says calmly, "I'll fix it."

The ten year old's reaction to the problem was, as the author described, what philosophers call the "problem of consciousness":

"Does Bluie know he's Bluie?" he would ask, when we watched the fish swimming in his bowl in Olivia's room. "I mean, I know he doesn't think, Oh, I'm Bluie! But what DOES he think--does he know he's HIM swimmin around? Or is he just like a potato or something, only with fins, who swims but doesn't think anything?" What does it feel like, he wanted to konw, to be a fish, a hamster, a monkey, a chimp? What does it feel like to be someone else?

The five year old, however, was in a different space in understancing consciousness:

. . . a pair of Japanese psychologists, Hatano and Inagaki, had done studies of how children develop intuitive theories of biology by havin pets. . . "They claim that all kids, Western and Eastern, go from havin primarily just psychology and physics to havin a 'vitalist' biology right around age six," [his sister told the author]. "That is, they start to think there is some vital spirit-you know, kind of like Chinese Chi-that keeps animals and humans alive, gets replenished by food, damaged by illness, and so on. And here's the cool thing. Hatano and Inagaki show, experimentally, that giving kids pet fish accelerates the development of this kind of vitalism. We give them fish as a learning device, though we don't know that when we do it. [The five year old] is probably in transition from a psycholoical conception of life to a bioloical one, which may be why she's so bewildered."

It seemed that the mere presence of a fish in a bowl, despite the barriers of glass and water and the fact of the fish's mindlessness, acted as a kind of empathy pump for five-year-olds, getting into the corners of their minds. [The five year old] was a vitalist, and Bluie was no longer vital. Accordin to my sister, childrens education proceedsin stages. At three, they're mostly psychologists, searching for a theory of mind; at six, they're bioloists, searching for a theory of life. At ten, they're philosophers, searching to understand why our minds cannot make our lives go on forever.

Maybe our story that the baby is in a waterbaloon in BioMom's belly is not the catalyst for vitalism for the FYO that we're looking for.

Maybe the better metaphor would be a fishbowl.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Good Vibrations

All the pregnancy books are telling us that the baby can hear loud noises. This is good since I've been trying to talk to it nightly since day one. I lean over onto BioMom's belly and basically use it as a microphone.

YO Baby! What's up? We're watching SNL now. You'll LOVE it!

It is a little active at night but nothing that I can feel. BioMom feels some "fluttery" action but I don't trust her description since that is EXACTLY how all the books describe it.

But what does it FEEL like?


No. Describe it MORE. That's the adjective all the books use!! What EXACTLY does it FEEL like?

It FEELS like little flutteries in my stomach! What else can I say? They describe it PERFECTLY!

Last night we went to the Bascilica Block Party with FO4 and MO4 to hear Carbon Leaf. Even though BioMom couldn't imbibe in alcoholic delights like the rest of us, I bet -6MO had a good time listening to the deep vibrations of the 20 foot speakers.

Hopefully between Tina Fey and songs like Grey Sky Eyes, this kid'll be cool.

Friday, July 08, 2005


The idea of equality between men and women has been a recurring theme in discussions lately.

We were in my home town for the fourth and having a discussion with a cousin's (brother of Cousin) wife. We had told her that we were pregnant and had decided not to have any tests since we were sure we would never choose to abort the fetus. That launched a whole discussion about abortion. This and a discussion about their son (12 years old) attends catholic school (as will the FYO) and she also mentioned the anti-abortion papers that he writes for school. Oh, that and O'Connor's announcement.

It was a fascinating discussion made even more so by the fact that this particular cousin is a State Senator and, as a result, has an actual outlet for his political opinions. Apparently he feels that women would never be truely equal if Roe v. Wade were eradicated.

Speaking of equality and babies. My second recent reference to equality occured at the workplace of BioMom. They are gearing up for an interesting trial (unique in that most of her cases don't make it all the way to trial). She's in an awkward position because it is a great opportunity but she'll be about 26 weeks pregnant and probably not up for the travel or the long days. She and her partner were debating the pros and cons of her handing the trial over to him when he said:

If you don't try the case, let's not tell the client that its because you are pregnant. Is it bad to say that?

Funny thing, though, I can't actually figure out if it is bad to say that. Nor can I tell if that is a compliment to her or not.

The third reference occured yesterday. I was interviewed by a Swedish reporter for
Svenska Dagbladet about an article that I had written about the division of household labor within same-sex households. The little research that has been done says that same-sex households tend to be more equal. Of course, the question is why? Blumstein and Schwarz (1983) claim that lesbians, in particular strive for more equality. I, however, think that it ends up being more equal by default. There is less difference (biologically and socially) between the members of the couple, and without access to the same institutions (workplace protection, marriage, etc.) gays and lesbians cannot risk a strict division of labor.

Anyway, interestingly, one of the reporter's questions was how heterosexual coupels in Sweden could learn from gay couples!


Dr.'s Appt #3

Life is good.

We heard the heartbeat again today and it is really starting to feel REAL. The doctor measured BioMom's belly, verifying that it is a single (!) and not twins, let us hear the heartbeat and just let us ask questions.

We're not doing any of the standard tests. That is, no "quad test", no "amnio" and now, we're considering having a Level I ultrasound rather than a Level II (although we're unclear on exactly what the difference is. We just want some good pictures. FO4 adn MO4 have a great picture of 4of4's hand in the womb!). When first considering the various tests, we were adamant against the amnio. So, the doctor asked -- what if the results of the quad test tell you that you have a 1 in 10 chance of downs? What will you do then? If you don't have an amnio at that point, it will ruin the rest of your pregnancy.

That was all we needed.

Now, as I told a friend from college, for all we know the little person in there is a retarded, downs syndrom hermaphoridte.

And, as she told me: it'll be yours!!

Definitely ours!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The FYO's Response

BioMom and I told the FYO about the baby a few days ago.

She's been just darling about it, with loads of questions.

First, she decided that since BioMom is doing all of the work in making the baby, that she and I should do all the work after it is born.


Second, in a discussion with BioMom:

How do you make a baby?

BioMom, ever the litigator, not wanting to answer more than the question calls for:

Well, it is like in your school with the little chicks. You needed a seed and an egg, right?

The FYO paused.

But how was the FIRST baby made?.