Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Let's just say that we don't worry about him falling down the stairs anymore!
Have a great holiday everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

So last night BioMom attended a shwanky dinner hosted by the economics department of the uber-liberal college that is my current place of employment.

I was ecstatic to get the invitation as my home department has never hosted a similar event in the last seven years of my employment there. Last night's event was in direct contrast to the usual hor'dourves (less extravagant than a dinner) hosted by the college (less intimate than the department) at the college itself (less intimate than a restaurant) from 4-6 (more casual than the 7-10p.m. timing of the dinner last night).

I hadn't seen BioMom in what felt like weeks what with end-of-year meetings, my finals, and Christmas performances at our little Catholic school, so when she met me there, and the chair announced that we could not sit with our spouses, I was a bit disappointed. But we went our separate ways (she is a whiz at schmoozing, and I (ahem) wouldn't mind some further opportunities at this little liberal oasis within an even liberal-er metropolitan area) and made the best of it.

At dessert we were split up into odds and evens and asked to move a second time. This time around I felt lucky enough to sit next to the old-timer teaching/consulting/entrepreneurial/Rolodex-for-student guru. He's the teacher alumnus come back to visit and is the person on the epitaph on which their bequeathment is dedicated. He's popular. If he had Web lectures he'd be the economics version of this guy.

And it started out okay.

I asked him about his teaching. I asked him about his consulting work, his super-star lawyer-wife, his plans for retirement.

You get the picture.

Then it went downhill like a mudslide in Southern California in April.

"So. . . I was talking to [BioMom] over there and she was telling me that you have two kids. . . Can I ask you about that?"

All the guy wanted to talk about was insemination and sperm. How you buy it. Where you buy it. How you choose it. Does it cost more if you have smarter dudes? Etc. Etc.

I am generally open to such questioning. And I wouldn't have minded this at all from this relative stranger had it been a one-on-one sort of deal, but there were two other people at the table. Two other people that I didn't know very well. Again, it's not that I mind the topic, but it was just a bit awkward when I became aware that the other two's conversation had dwindled and that it was now appropriate for us to open our discussion up for the table's consumption, which meant that I had to 'bring them up to speed' so to speak.

Of course, the old-timer had his own version of 'I have friends that are gay, so, you know, I'm open to it' that he interjected two or three times.

When he started in on a story about witnessing insemination among cows somewhere in West Texas I thought to myself: No job is worth this!, and got up to excuse myself to the bathroom to rendezvous with BioMom.

He said: Oh, you'll miss the good part! I'm just getting to it!

If only I had had Bethany Laccone's t-shirt. Then maybe he would have left me alone.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mr. Not-So-Big

So the urban myth of height and weight for kids is that you double their height and multiply their weight by five, when they reach age 2, to get their adult height and weight.

I would have bet a dollar that he was 40 pounds, but he turned out to be the same both height and weight-wise: 34 lbs, 34 inches.

That translates into an adult man coming in at 5 feet, 8 inches and 175 lbs.

In other words, a man who buys expensive convertibles, rounds up when referring to their own height ("Oh, just under six foot"), bulks up in the gym, and tries BASE jumping*, to compensate

From the Urban Dictionary: Short Man Syndrome, AKA Napoleon Complex:
1. "The obnoxious, chauvinistic, arrogant attitude often taken on by short men -- seems to be an attempt to make up for their short stature."

2. "A very annoying and obnoxious syndrome. Short men come down with this when they realize they will always be the smallest adult in the family, group of friends, or place of business."

*From Wikipedia: BASE jumping: a sport involving the use of a parachute to jump from fixed objects. "BASE" is an acronym that stands for the four categories of fixed objexts from which one can jump: Building, Antenna (an uninhabited tower such as an aerial mast), Span (a bridge or arch) and Earth (a cliff or other natural formation).
The acronym "BASE" was coined by film-maker Carl Boenish, his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield. Carl was the real catalyst behind modern BASE jumping, and in 1978 filmed the first BASE jumps (from El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park) to be made using ram-air parachutes and the freefall tracking technique. While BASE jumps had been made prior to that time, the El Capitan activity was the effective birth of what is now called BASE jumping. BASE jumping is significantly more dangerous than similar sports such as skydiving from aircraft, and is currently regarded by many as a fringe extreme sport or stunt.

BASE numbers are awarded to those who have made at least one jump from each of the four categories. When Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield jumped together from a Houston skyscraper on January 18th, 1981, they became the first to attain the exclusive BASE numbers (BASE #1 and #2, respectively), having already jumped from antennae, spans, and earthen objects. Jean and Carl Boenish qualified for BASE numbers 3 and 4 soon after. A separate "award" was soon enacted for Night BASE jumping when Mayfield completed each category at night, becoming Night BASE #1, with Smith qualifying a few weeks later.

During the early eighties, nearly all BASE jumps were made using standard skydiving equipment, including two parachutes (main and reserve), and deployment components. Later on, specialized equipment and techniques were developed that were designed specifically for the unique needs of BASE jumping.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Seven's school is, to our great disappointment, even less racially diverse than the general metropolitan area (if that is even possible) so I am keenly aware that our kids aren't exposed to many people that are too different from them and try to expose them as much as I can to things/people/ideas outside of our little family unit as possible.

Tonight while walking out of the little school after picking up Seven, one of the two African American fathers was walking into the school. I noticed his big, red WISCONSIN jacket and held the door for him as we were leaving (you need a key card to get in, which, I can attest, are easily lost or misplaced).

Big saw him coming toward us and announced: Red guy!!!

He responded: That's me!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Economics and Art, Quite Literally

I ran into a piece of art the other day by economics graduate Tino Sehgal without really knowing that I had run into art at all.

I was walking through the Walker Art Center (reason number 521 why to marry a lawyer: often their holiday parties are at really cool locations with great food and drink and, in this case, very nice extracurricular activities: docent tours through the Frida Kahlo exhibit!) when, out of nowhere one of the guards started singing. Loudly.

My immediate response was that she was either bored or crazy.

And then I text'd HFRM#1 to tell her that one of the museum guards in her workplace was, clearly, intoxicated.

Turns out that it was work created by Sehgal and that other people have reacted similarly to his work. Yasmil Rayomond, the curator of the Walker show described a visit to the Biennial in Lyon, France where she also did not realize that a piece by Mr. Sehgal was on display. I quote from an article from the New York Times:

"He had a Dan Flavin, a Larry Bell and a Dan Graham in the corner," she said. "The minute I entered the space, the guard came in and started stripping. I slowly crawled behind the Dan Graham. I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to do with myself. I wanted to know the title of the piece, and I had to wait. At the end when he takes of all this clothing, he says the title and then puts his clothes back on. It was called 'Selling Out'."

The artist is 31 years old and lives in Berlin. He creates what he calls "staged situations" that include the following:

"This Is New": where an attendant quotes a museum goer a headline from the day's papers and only a response from the visitor can trigger an interaction between the two, concluding in the work's title being spoken.

"This Success/This Failure": kids play in an empty room and attempt to draw visitors into their game. Only the kids can decide whether it is a success or a failure.

"This Is So Contemporary": where a uniformed museum guard dances around the room singing "This is so contemporary contemporary, contemporary."

"Kiss" where a couple in an unbroken embrace recreate kisses from familiar works of art.

His work does have some interesting economics to it, both literally and figuratively.

His pieces can be sold (and in fact, have received five-figure sums!). But he stipulates that the exchange cannot involve the transformation of any material in any way. No written instructions, no bill of sale, no catalogs and no pictures.

The artist claims political influences from John Kenneth Galbraith, Walter Benjamin, Bruce Nauman and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

He studied dance and economics and says that a touchstone belief is that his generation must 'come up with alternatives of producing in different ways'.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


My mom is probably rolling in her grave tonight.

I made her incredible sugar cookies with the kids but, being a good lesbian household, we only had whole wheat flour (white in color, but wheat in effect).

BioMom was nonplussed even though they tasted fairly innocuous.

Here's the recipe for you, dear reader, to enjoy. Disclaimer: it is probably best enjoyed with white flour AND the reported butter-flavored Crisco. Nothing better than the infinite combinations of sugar and fat. . .

Bertie's Sugar Cookies
2 and 1/4 Cup Flour
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shortening (butter flavored Crisco (!!) )
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 tsp salt

Mix eggs, sugar, shortening and vanilla. Add the flour mixture. Roll and cut into fun shapes, decorating as you desire. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Big Hill Attempt No. 2

ECFE Winter Session, Day No. 1: "I'm taking the class to learn how to get my kids to listen!"

We started the winter session of our ECFE (early childhood and family education) class today.

It is the fourth consecutive ECFE class we've had and the first one with a significantly different mix of parents. Our first class, nearly a year ago, was a GLBT parent class.

I'll never forget that first day last year. Only Big and I went at first. I had hoped to get into a class during the week, but only got into the Saturday morning one. We went, and I was unprepared for it to be a course in which half was spent with the children, and half was spent separated into an adult-only room in which the group of adults talked about parenting issues with a facilitator.

That time marked the end of an eight month period in which I had not been working, spending my days with Big, watching him turn one. I was to return to school (albeit only two days per week) the following week, so this was my first taste of separation and it was unanticipated and I was uncomfortable.

The first day was great though. The facilitator, it turns out, was (and is) incredible. She has this great ability to weave themes of parenting through the 10 week trimesters without having a detailed linear curriculum.

The parents, too, have become invaluable members of a community in our lives and we followed and became close with several families in that class and then we all continued to sign up together. This session, however, we lost a couple of couples (I think they didn't sign up in time) and the course is filled with new people.

We went around the room, introducing ourselves, giving a little personal background, had we taken an ECFE course before? and what we expected out of the course, etc. etc.

We got around the table to a very friendly couple with whom I had connected during the child play-time. They seemed very interesting and interested in parenting generally, and in creating a community. When it came to the husband's turn, he joked that he was here because "the boss told him to come" (it was really a joke) and that he wanted to learn how to "get his kids to listen."

The teacher (ala parenting guru) responded by saying that, in fact, we'd probably be learning how to listen to our kids, or, exactly the REVERSE of the man's goal.

When at least two other occasions, the man repeated his goal for the class, those of us who had had this particular instructor before chuckled amiably. Although the instructor is incredibly gentle in her techniques, it is, I believe, her sincere belief and obvious intention for our evolution as parents to become more intuitive with our kids. To grow in relationship to them, to increase our connection, to respect their beings and to foster their inner selves and gently support their self-esteem along the way. The two books that have been recommended during the course (one of which I first heard about on Lesbian Dad) perfectly reflect her philosophy are Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and Kids are Worth It: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline by Barbara Coloroso.

This, clearly, does not boil down to 'getting them to listen'.

We'll see how this class evolves. I'd be lying if I didn't hope Seven and Big listened a bit more!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Irregular Monthly Newsletter: Month 24

Hello Mr. Two-Year-Old!

Two Years Ago Today

Last Year Today

This past month was one of three or so in which you seemed to have become aware. You have emerged. You and your personality have essentially burst onto the scene that is our little family. You now have preferences that you verbalize. Well, you probably always had preferences, but you would just never verbalize them. I'm just lucky that I seem to forget most of the negative aspects of this new coming-of-age portion . . . .

Some preferences include (in your dialect/translation):
Watch. Tee Vee. ("watch t.v."). This is usually followed by (because we watched the Charlie Brown Christmas episode):
Chah-lee Brown? ("Charlie Brown).
Meehr Milk. ("More milk")
Peas? ("Please.")
Help you? ("Will you help me with this?")

And the most recent addition: "GIMMIE MEHR!" No translation necessary.

You say Seven's name quite well and it is usually said urgently, followed by some request from her. You love being around her and are in some obvious heaven when she actually gives you the time of day.

She, on the other had, only gives you the time of day when she needs to be focused on something else, like, perhaps, getting dressed for school. Then she's all: Hey, Big! Can I help you with those cars or trucks?

You're quite polite. The other day we attended a little story time at the library. You were playing trains with a few other kids that were there and one of the trains kept breaking. You would go over to an older kid who was clearly enjoying the job of "fixer" and say: "Fix! Fix" followed by "Tanks, kid!"

You're starting to develop a somewhat wicked sense of humor which, when combined with that little twinkle in your eyes, can be a lethal combination.

The other night we were well into our bedtime routine. On the bed we laid in order: Biomom, Seven, you and then me, first focusing on your little board books (you're favorites at the moment are "My first truck board book" and "Oops!" by David Shannon

At one point, Seven reached over the book to show me something and inadvertently knocked it out of my hand.

I couldn't resist but to tease you all with a last name other than my own (well, BioMom and Seven in particular) about their well-known (and well-documented) clumsiness. Much giggling and more teasing ensued and Seven started knocking the book out of my hands on purpose just to get back at me a little.

Well, as you can expect, Seven, not being able to understand yet when a joke has worn out its humor, continued knocking the book out of my hands well after the laughing had abated. I (perhaps) began to get a little fed up about it all and said that I'd head downstairs and continue on with my own business if it was knocked out of my hand again.

With that clear, I proceeded:

David's first word was "Ball!" and . . .


You (Big) had reached over and knocked the book out of my hand and then, with that little sparkle in his eye, laughed hysterically.

No joke in the world has had more perfect timing.

A negative aspect of your burgeoning personality is your alpha-maleness. I've seen it erupt only in certain, rather unpredictable circumstances. You seem to grow antlers around a friend from our ECFE class, crashing into him whenever you decide that its "my turn!" and the other day at your little gym class I witnessed you tear after a little boy with your hand up. Before I could reach you, you had hit him and I was mortified by what followed clear as day: "STUPID!"

I am highly aware, now, of where and when BioMom and I use that word.

You started the same sort of behavior the other day with a little girl who met your intensity and you two had fun chasing each other around a gym testing out each other's power.

Do you have any suggestions for how to socialize that aspect of you without squelching your little spirit? We do live in a society along with other people, after all.

Lastly, because I'm getting to know you so well, and because I would personally like to do some cross-country skiing this year, we got you, for your birthday, a little pair of "fun skis". Initially when I took you sledding, you were unwilling to actually sit in the sled and be pulled. It is as though you refuse to be a passive participant in anything. So, while you were willing to ride on my back while skiing last year, I know you won't be able to stand just watching us three ski with you in the backseat. I've created a little course in our backyard for practice, and I'm taking you on your first round there tomorrow. Soon, I suspect, you'll be an Alpine king (pictures forthcoming).

I find myself at the end of the day spent with you exhausted and drained, only to be followed after about ten hours of recuperation practically running into your room to grab you out of that crib at the first hint of "Baba! Baba!"

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Big!!

Big turned two today (irregular monthly newsletter is forthcoming).

He loved blowing out his candles and kept asking for them to be re-lit so that he could blow them out again.

It was as though he was making my wishes rather than his own come true every time:

Oh. . . Let me see him do that again!

First Time on the Big Hill

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Good Grief!

In true Peanuts holiday spirit, Seven said to me the other night:
Can I have a Mastercard for Christmas?