Sunday, December 31, 2006

Catching up on Christmas, what Princess Leia did with a wookie, a new blog, and some new pictures

Disclaimer: I wrote this before Mama and 3B returned--safely yesterday, both with snotty colds, thank you very much--but somehow missed posting it. That explains some of the slightly dated references. While they snort their way through snuffly slumber, Barky and I are out here in the living room, doing laundry and sneaking in a little blogging to catch you up on some of our Christmas trip, during which I was the snotting, snorting, snuffling one.

3B makes crepes at MLTU's house!

Sitting here in NoVa with Barky--who's on the bed, licking himself in the midst of our down comforter, if you must know--while Mama and 3B are still up on the farm has me missing them and the Christmas spirit a little bit. I'm trying to help myself out by eating some comfort food--ramen noodles with some homemade spicy peanut sauce--and catching up on what I missed while living outside the online world for a week on the farm.

Turns out I missed some fine Christmas treats, including a Hasslehoff-as-peeping-tom Christmas greeting and a Run DMC encounter with Santa (let's hear it for the old school), but there's one that I'm glad I missed because it would have ruined my Christmas. In fact, this thing may ruin next year's Christmas, even if I never watch it again. This thing is so bad that it stinks upwind. Let's all pray for Princess Leia--er--Carrie Fisher that she was so stoned that she doesn't remember doing this with a wookie.

MLTU's parents, who are mildly obsessed with Star Wars, probably already have that entire Christmas special on DVD. Now that I'm again safely trapped in the clutches of the web, I can catch up on MLTU, who is destined to fall in love with Mark Hamill before she's three, through her dad's blog, Tao of FAU. Mama went to school with FAU and MLTU's mom, who recently moved from Park Slope to the Albany area, which means that it's much easier to find parking whenever we visit--yo, they have a driveway and a garage. FAU is funny, opinionated, scotch-loving . . . or is that whiskey? oh, who the hell cares, pour another round . . . and he's a recovering Republican, which means that he can accurately skewer both sides of the aisle effortlessly. But more than all of that, he's a great dad--Joe Bob says check it out.

Despite being offline, Christmas did come this year, and we did catch a few treats from Santa, such as
Why 3B loves Christmas . . .
  • Some great gifts from my siblings, including some posthumous gifts from my mother that Sister #1 and Brother #2 found in the attic at Mom's house. Two were for Mama and two were for me. Mom had told me that she was waiting to buy things for 3B until after she met him, which explains why there were no gifts for him in the attic. She didn't need to buy him anything; her entire life, from her first entries in my baby book to the most recent photos she took of me and Mama, is a gift from Mom to 3B.
We wish all of you a happy new year--see you in 2007!

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Everyone is a f**king Napoleon


they told you your music
could reach millions

that the choice was up to you
you told me they always
pay for lunch

and they believe in what i do
and i wonder
if you miss your old friends
once you've proven what you're worth
yeah i wonder
when you're a big star
will you miss the earth

and i know you would always want more
i know you would never be done

'cuz everyone is a fucking napoleon
yeah everyone is a fucking napoleon

and the next time
that i saw you
you were larger than life
you came and you conquered

you were doing alright
you had an army
of suits behind you

and all you had to be was willing
and i said i still
make a pretty good living
you must make a killing
a killing

and i hope that you are happy
i hope at least you are having fun

'cuz but everyone is a fucking napoleon
yeah everyone is a fucking napoleon

now you think, so that is
the way it's gonna be
that's what this is all about

i think that that is
the way it always was

you chose not to notice until now
yeah now that there's a problem

you call me up to confide
and you go on for over an hour
'bout each one that took you for a ride

and i guess that you dialed my number
'cuz you thought for sure that i'd agree
i said baby, you know i still love you
but how dare you complain to me

everyone is a fucking napoleon
yeah everyone is a fucking napoleon

--Lyrics by Ani DiFranco

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Friday, December 29, 2006

What is a human life worth?

What good am I if I'm like all the rest,
If I just turned away, when I see how you're dressed,
If I shut myself off so I can't hear you cry,
What good am I?
--Bob Dylan
I'm eating lunch in a Subway (Why? Because I work in a land of strip malls, so it's either McDonald's, Subway, or the dry cleaners. Not too many choices for a vegetarian.) and they're playing "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth."

All I can think is that what I'd like is to tape that kid's mouth shut. But then I think of how cute 3B is with his two tiny, razor-sharp teeth, and I think that I'm pretty Grinchy for wanting to tape some kid's mouth shut. But then I remember that shrill voice, and that it's some adult making himself sound like a grating pipsqueak, and I'm back to wishing for a roll of packing tape from Santa.

So it's that time of year, when everyone's wishing for something, like front teeth or packing tape, and trying to see into the upcoming year and reflecting back on the past year and what I really want for this upcoming year is to figure out how to need less. I try hard to need less throughout the year, but sometimes my inner gear geek gets the best of me. Sometimes I'll assuage my guilt by giving to those who need items like clean water, food, or an education that are worth more than whatever geek toy I want. This year, with all of our attention focused on 3B's first holiday season, it's been easy to ignore any needs that I had, although I have to admit that we didn't get 3B anything for Christmas day, figuring that his new Casino Royale was our pre-Christmakwanzukkah gift to him, that everyone else would shower him with gifts (which they did), and that all he would really want is some shiny paper to play with anyway.
What good am I if I know and don't do,
If I see and don't say, if I look right through you,
If I turn a deaf ear to the thunderin' sky,
What good am I?
Also, Mama and I decided early on that we weren't going to buy anything for each other, partly because we were too far behind to confront the prospect of more shopping and partly, I believe, because we're both too emotionally drained by what the end of this year has become to shop for each other with as much enthusiasm as we would like to. Neither of us wants shopping for the other one to be a chore. Perhaps it's because we're so emotionally strung out that small things started to have larger than usual effects on us, like the photo on the Sunday NYTimes front page a few weeks back of a girl who is roughly 3B's age crawling through an abandoned village. She was left behind when her parents, along with the entire population of her village, fled approaching aid vehicles, fearing that they were the local militia, come to kill them.

I can't imagine the abject fear that would allow me to, for even a second, leave 3B anywhere to fend for himself, much less fend for himself against a marauding militia. Honestly, I couldn't even look at the picture after reading the article, because it just made me cry--for the girl, for all the children like her whose parents never return, for our good fortune that 3B is (knock on wood) healthy and happy, for her parents, and honestly, out of total futility. I knew everything I could about her situation, but I was powerless to help her.
What good am I while you softly weep
And I hear in my head what you say in your sleep,
And I freeze in the moment like the rest who don't try,
What good am I?
As it is wont to do, serendipity struck and we immediately found the charity that we're donating to as our gift to each other that is trying to spread a solution to problems like this, particularly problems that girls face. (Read more about them.) But the next question was, How much should we give? Just in time, came this article in the NYTimes magazine, by one of Mama's favorite philosophers. The first sentence gets right to the point, asking, "What is a human life worth?"
What good am I then to others and me
If I've had every chance and yet still fail to see
If my hands are tied must I not wonder within
Who tied them and why and where must I have been
As a new parent and one who strives for compassion for all those who I share this world with (something that I generally fail at a few times a day--you know, it would be easier to be compassionate for everyone if nobody would cut me off when I'm driving to work), my inclination is to respond that a human life is worth whatever it takes to save it. But if you look at my actions, that's not entirely true, as the article makes clear, because I'm not giving whatever I can to save lives. But what about 3B? Or Mama? Wouldn't I give anything to save them? Yes, yes I would, without even thinking about it. And does that make their lives more valuable than the life of that little girl, abandoned in her village to face a marauding militia on her own?
What good am I if I say foolish things
And I laugh in the face of what sorrow brings
And I just turn my back while you silently die,
What good am I?
If I don't give anything to save that girl, then yes, I'm saying, through my actions, that some lives are more valuable than others. But how should we define "anything" in this context?

How about you, dear six loyal readers--
  • Do you feel this conflict?
  • If so, how do you resolve it?
  • If you don't resolve it, how does that affect you?

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Moving Pictures

I'm going to cross-post some of my own pics here from Flickr, because I figure that most of you are as lazy as I am and won't go over to Flickr to see the full set.

3B takes what's his

The pictures aren't great quality, since Mama still has our real camera at the farm, so these are all from my phone, which is interesting (to me anyway), since cell phones are essentially radios, and it was approximately 100 years ago that the first audio radio transmissions were made--and not by Marconi, smartypants.

Mmm...Christmas...3B enjoys his first stocking

Interesting how far we've come in 100 years--to the point that we've married up portable radios and the wires and fibers of the internet to allow each of us to connect to each other and transmit audio, photos, video, and text. And we can all have that without having to haul around either our own radio tower or a 3,000-mile long phone cord.

Then again, is it really progress that in 100 years we only went from dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot to "LOL"?

3B's first highchair meal

As I'm doing this, I'm also trying to catch up on my blog reading, and I couldn't help but watch Heather from Dooce on CNN because although I feel like I know her voice and vision, I've never seen her speak:

A few points of interest

  • Other than Soledad, Heather's the only woman on camera.
  • Heather's the only one who proposes a woman as the person of the year.
  • Heather's the one whose guess--when she talks about how blogs have "empowered our nation"--is closest to who TIME actually picked when they wussed out and picked everyone.
  • Everyone agrees that YouTube has had a large influence, which is timely, even though this video is days old by now, since today is the anniversary of the first film screening.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

50,000 words or so

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I captured 50,000 words or so while we were at Grandma's farm. As I wrote before, Blogger won't accept email posts with photos from me, so you'll have to head over to Flickr to see them. (You can also use the Flickr link in my right sidebar.)

Barky and I are back in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, outside of Binghamton, New York, headed home, rocking to the English Beat. Mama and 3B will follow in a few days, after spending as much time as possible with his Grandma and Great-Grandma.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Some favorite signs

We make this trek at least twice a year, so we know certain landmarks well by now:

The Spankey's billboard south of Harrisburg. I don't know what the business is, and I don't care.

The road sign for the Central Leatherstocking Region. Do I really need to say anything about this?

The road sign for the Endless Mountains Region--Next 6 Exits. if they're endless...why are they confined to a region? ...and why only six exits? Shouldn't it be every exit?

Yeah...we've got spare time on this drive.

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We just passed Frackville...

...does that mean we missed Frickville, home of the Frickers, while I was arguing--again--with Blogger about why it won't post photos that I send to it?

Ever tried to delete a post using your phone? at 75 mph? (And you wonder why Mama flies?)

And I gave up on the pics, so I can listen to my podcasts--Manic Mommies, Pediacast, the Writer's Almanac, and Coffee Break Spanish (taught by two Scots, so they're trilingual lessons)--if you want to see the pics, go over to Flickr; they accept my emails, unlike Blogger.

Bah humblog.

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Uh...what now?

We just passed a billboard for a store at exit 223 on 81:

Ho Mart

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A few parting shots

Mama and 3B flew to Albany today, so as to avoid a repeat of the Screamapalooza rides to and from Boston. They're staying with our friends who just bought a new place with land. Land! Who knew that some houses still come with that? Then again, they all got ticks when they went on their first walk through their woods, so it's a mixed blessing--but still a blessing.

Barky and I pack up early in the morning--which means in just a few hours--to join them. It'll be a long day for us since we're up so late--er--early, but I wanted to get the house cleaned up so that Mama didn't come back to a pig sty that I left behind. Plus, I wanted to show up at Grandma's wearing some clean underwear, so I did some laundry.

I had started writing a longer post about the holidays, but between loading audio books into the iPod for the long Pennsylvania hours (anything to avoid Jersey), doing laundry, picking up piles of disassociated papers and trying to sort them, and making sure that I've mailed the mortgage payment, I sort of lost focus. Perhaps I'll come back to it after I return. In the meantime, here are some newish shots that I finally posted on Flickr.

I'm packed for Boston, when are you two slackers going to be ready?
I'm packed and ready to go to Grandma's farm, what are you two chumps doing?
(Actually, he's on his way to Boston, but he doesn't know. And with the Carhartt's he looks like he's going to the farm, which is where they came from--thanks, Aunt Jeanne.)

Mommy is a rock star, and so is Kofi Annan
OK, we're going straight to hell, or an international mediation session, for naming 3B's UN bear Kofi, but what else were we going to call him? Blue? Of course not. This was the shot that Mama included in her farewell e-mail when she announced that she wasn't going back to work. Oh, did I forget to mention that until now? See what you find out when you read the small type? I suppose I should write something about that--her becoming a SAHM, going back to one income, and all that.

A family dinner
A family dinner at the Bradsteins. We don't let Barky clean 3B's hands anymore, even though it made 3B chuckle his adorable little chuckle. The problem was that 3B would then take his hands from Barky's mouth and jam them back into his own mouth. But Barky does get to clean up everything else. Mmm. Rice cereal.

When Mama dresses me all my clothes match
If you missed it the first time, here's a better look at 3B's new sweater from Olivia, as he's on his way to the farm. Why is it that when he's on his way to Boston, he looks like he's going to the farm, but when he's going to the farm, he looks like he's off to Boston? I've started to notice that when Mama dresses him, all of his clothes match, but when I do . . . not so much. Actually, I noticed it because Mama pointed it out. Maybe I can get an intervention from Queer Dad for the Straight Dad?

Unless our neighbor who's looking after our place decides to post something, this is probably our last post until after Christmas, since Grandma's farm is beyond cell service and has no internet connection.

So, from all of us to all six of you loyal readers, have a Happy, a Merry, a Joyeux, or whatever else you're having. We'll see you on the other side.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Traditions

Tis the season and all that, so we're celebrating some favorite traditions: procrastinating, cursing the high cost of overnight shipping, and listening to some traditional holiday music.

Growing up, there was some debate in our house about what was traditional holiday music. This came up after we told Mom that we were looking forward to trimming the tree while listening to traditional holiday tuneage: the music from the Peanuts Christmas special. She was thinking more along the lines of "White Christmas" or "The Christmas Song" or even "Santa Baby."

No, Mom, that's old music, not traditional music.

Yeah, it was a fun debate like that, but we--Mom and I at least, I can't speak for the other kids--eventually agreed on traditional holiday music in the only way possible. We selected a new song that we both loved: Santa Claus and His Old Lady by Cheech and Chong. So that's been playing along with all of the other (mostly) worthwhile traditional music from Dr. Demento's Greatest Christmas Novelty CD and, of course, the tunes from A Charlie Brown Christmas, which Mama and I will probably get around to watching sometime in January.

The other kids did inherit our parents' love of music. Over on his blog, Brother #2 has put together a nice Christmas photo with a sorta' traditional Christmas song that I'd like to believe Mom would have liked, since getting everyone together was more important to her than any other holiday tradition. There are some new traditional tunes, however, that I'm digging on that Mom might not have found so amusing, like the ones Boutros likes so much. (You Macophiles might have to find the SNL clip on YouTube--the NBC site played the ad but not the clip for me.)

But I do think Mom would have liked this charming tale of a child setting up and filming a creche that demonstrates his deep understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. For as many good laughs as Mama and I have shared over the Christmas pageant scene in A Prayer for Owen Meany, you know that we love that tale . . . "RUN, BABY JESUS! RUN!"

Yes, run, because if you don't get to the post office tonight, you'll have to pay for overnight shipping tomorrow.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Am I an absentee dad? Are you?

But what defines "absentee"? If you see your child once a month, does that make you a nonexistent father? Once a week?
There was an interesting article in this Sunday's WaPo, entitled Dad Redefined, which is one part of their recent series on black men in America. This article focused on absentee black dads--their description, not mine--and it got me to wondering just who we consider absent in a child's life.

Let's calculate my waking hours with 3B in a typical week at Casa Bradstein and compare it with a typical week for Tim Wagoner, the dad profiled in the story:

24 x 7 = 168 hours/week
  • subtract 40 hours for work, plus 45 minutes commuting each day = 124.25
  • subtract eight hours a day for sleep (strange, but true . . . as much as 3B sleeps, it's been getting us to sleep more too) = 68.25
  • subtract half an hour a day for dog walking and typically an hour a night that 3B and Mama are down while I'm cleaning up the kitchen and fruiting around, like now = 57.75
  • subtract at least four hours on each weekend day for 3B's naps = 49.75
That means that I've got just over two waking days every week with 3B, scattered in short bursts throughout the week. That's not much more than Wagoner has, and his comes in a similar fashion--little bits here and there.

Granted, there are some fundamental differences--while 3B sleeps at night, he's with me and Mama. The big similarity is that Wagoner and I spend a large amount of time each week away from the house trying to improve our families' lots in life. My time is at one job and his is at a part-time job and GED classes.

Why is it, then, that an article profiles him as an absentee dad, but not me or someone like me? Is it because he's working part-time and studying for his GED and I have a steady gig, making it more acceptable for me to be gone for most daylight hours during the week? What's the difference between our absences to our two sons, however?

All of this raises the question that is repeated throughout the article:
What does a daddy do?

There is a pause. Wagoner doodles his index finger around his son's hand. Zyhir is tapping it.

"Just be there," Wagoner says, not looking up from Zyhir. "That's the most important thing. You can buy them all the clothes, all the toys, and it don't matter. Most important thing is that he knows my voice, knows me when he sees me."

There are other things, too, of course: Nurture. Shelter. Love. Protect. Those entail a lifetime of decisions and sacrifices; fatherhood isn't a job with a time clock where you punch in, punch out.

I have the same feelings and the same priorities. And those things that Wagoner lists, he is providing and working hard to continue providing, as I am for 3B. For Wagoner, as for me, doing so requires being away from his baby for extended periods of time during the week, but it doesn't mean that he's by any means absent from his child's life, even before Zyhir was born:

He lives about a mile from Children's Hospital, where McDaniel [Zyhir's mom] went for her checkups, and he could walk to the appointments. He was there when Zyhir was born: "He had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck." There's a picture on the mantel in the living room, Wagoner in his white scrubs, holding his son after the birth.

I can't tell you how many times I was the only man in the waiting room when Mama and I went in for prenatal (ante-natal, for you Brits) appointments. Based on that, by the time his son was born, Wagoner was miles ahead of all the dads who were absent from our waiting room in knowledge and experience. So why is he called an absentee dad, but there's no parallel series on middle-class, suburban dads who didn't go in for prenatal visits?

And then there's the elephant in the room: race. Is it OK to call Wagoner an absentee dad because he's black, but it's not OK to call someone like me an absentee dad because I'm white? As far as I'm concerned, that's bullshit, but I suspect that race is behind much of this labeling. I'm not saying that there aren't also working black dads who are out of the house as many hours a week as I am, but I am saying that the assumption that married white dads who live in the same house as their kids and the mother of their kids are fully present in their kids' lives is a dangerously shallow view of the world.

We need to get beyond these monetary measures of achievement and superficial racial separations and get down to determining our success by understanding the true meaning and worth of our lives:

"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that--counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans."
--Robert F. Kennedy Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968

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Casino Royale

A view from the Eye in the Sky

It was a busy week last week here at Casa Bradstein: I was stumbling in and out, going to work and coming home to collapse; Mama was tearing up the keyboard shopping; and 3B was teething and learning to walk before he knows how to crawl. Seriously, what is this kid's deal?

Does he think that the end of the year is some sort of deadline, by which he's supposed to have reached as many milestones as possible? It's not that I want to delay his development, but how many teeth do you need for rice cereal--or for most American food, for that matter?

But I digress . . .

3B was also busy all last week with his latest developmental aid, toy, diversion, ADHD inducement--his personal Casino Royale, the exersaucer. It's a bit early for a Christakwanzukkah gift, but it's in the family tradition of James Bond distractions before the holidays.

Dad loved Ian Fleming's James Bond books so every year that a new one came out--typically right before Christmas, I believe--Mom would buy it for him. Every year, being the nice person she was, Mom would make the same mistake and give it to him on Christmas Eve. Dad would then spend the rest of the evening reading the whole book while Mom helped Santa's elves wrap gifts for all six of us.

About when I was in junior high, I discovered the cache of Bond books at the back of the top bookshelf in the room we somewhat ironically dubbed "The Conservatory" in our Eichler tract house. I too was hooked. I blazed through all of them in a week or so, then moved on to the new Bond books, penned by John Gardner, which I tore through as they came out. Much as Dad had fallen in love with Aston Martins by reading Fleming's Bond, I fell more deeply in love with SAABs as a result of reading Gardner's Bond.

Just before I got into Bond, our new neighbor across the street had bought a SAAB 900 Turbo, and took me for a drive in it. Along with my left-handedness, I inherited an abiding interest in cars from my father, so when our neighbor took me for a drive in his SAAB and opened up the turbo a few times to show me how it did really push you back into the perfectly contoured seats, it had the same effect on me as giving Imelda Marcos a platinum Nordstrom card.

So I was fully versed in the capabilities of a regular SAAB 900 Turbo when I read about Q taking Gardner's Bond through all of the added features of his special edition SAAB, and I drank it all in. Right up until GM bought SAAB and started turning out Saturns with SAAB nameplates, it was my dream to someday own a new SAAB 900, courtesy of my future well-to-do son, just as my Dad counted on me to do well enough to buy him an Aston Martin.

As it turns out, the best things in life remain constant, so I'm now back to counting on 3B buying me the Aston Martin that I owed my Dad. I feel that his new personal Casino Royale gets him off on the right foot in his journey. Next year I'll continue the tradition and put some James Bond books at the back of our top bookshelf to wait for him.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

3B and I are the Time magazine people of the year!

Then again, so are you:

3B wrote these comments about receiving this honor:

;mo,]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]L8M,;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; . ≥≤å.o12DE , MMJKL; L'
I'm not sure that he's too fond of sharing the award, however; immediately after he drafted his comments, he barfed in my lap. At least he missed the keyboard.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Starting 3B's Christmakwanzukkah Season

Look, a shiny thing!

We took 3B over to D&D's house last night for the first night of his first Christmakwanzukkah season. When it comes to teaching him all the proper ceremonies for holidays, I'm afraid that Mama and I won't be of much use unless there's a Peanuts special that explains them, so it's fortunate that D&D know what to do when it comes to Hanukkah.

Apparently, the only thing you have to do is light the candles, but we took the opportunity to have a Shabbat dinner. Olivia, who had knit 3B a sweater before she even met him joined us and gave him the sweater.

Score! My first Hanukkah and I've already got a gift!

3B and Olivia hit it off right away. He even fell asleep in her lap during dinner, and I'm pretty sure that if we'd put the car seat in her car, he would have gone home with her. "Mama and Papa who?"

It was a fun night with good friends, which is what the holidays are about for those of us like Mama and myself who aren't devoted strictly to Christianity or Judaism. But it did raise the question that we've asked ourselves before about 3B: how do we raise him spiritually?

Because of our lack of singular devotion and our wide and deep interests in spirituality, my guess is that he'll be raised in a somewhat typical suburban-American salad bar spirituality, but is this inch-deep-and-mile-wide approach useful? If there's anything that Mama and I believe in deeply, it's Buddhism, but we're too busy or lazy to practice, or even to decide on a school to follow--Hinayana, Mahayana, Tibetan, Zen, Nichiren?

Clearly, Mama and I have found some happiness without deeply held and regularly practiced beliefs, and without a spiritual community that we identify and hang out with, but is that what we want for 3B? Is that what he wants?


Perhaps we'll send him up to Anthromama's house for some spiritual tutoring. In the meantime, since Buddhism doesn't preclude celebrating holidays and traditions from other religions, we'll keep the Christmakwanzukkah season rolling, but if you have any insight, suggestions, resources, etc. about raising a kid at the spiritual salad bar, please let us know.

Lord knows . . . YHWH knows? . . . Mohammed knows? . . . Buddha knows? . . . to whom it may concern? . . . we need all the help we can get.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Hard Day's Blog

After a month of posting every day, I'm now struggling to post once a week. Perhaps it's burnout, perhaps it's spending two weeks hawking, hacking, and heaving every ounce of mucus out of my body 24/7, perhaps it's having a teething--we're up to three teeth now people . . . stop him before he cuts another one!--five-month old baby in the house.

It's something.

To my credit, I've started writing two posts this week, but life keeps interfering. Doesn't life know that I have a blog to update, damnit?

Apparently not.

So I'm going to do what always works when confronted by superior opposition, like life or time: I'm going to cheat. I'm being helped in my efforts this morning by Liberal Banana, who just completed her move out of our building, which was sad for all of us. Barky is waiting for her to return:

What does cheating entail in blogging? Stealing a post from someone else. However, since Auntie Banana's not blogging anymore, I prefer to view this as acting as her proxy, passing on her good writing and humor to you in her stead.

In this case, she wrote about a serious topic that I agonized over greatly before 3B was born. I doubt that the debate will ever end on this topic, but there is some new information on it, as LB explains:

As I stood on the Metro platform this morning reading my Express newspaper, I almost laughed out loud.

The main story was titled, "Circumcision May Limit HIV". As I read through it, there was a quote by an official at the World Health Organization.

His name?

Dr. Kevin De Cock.

Seriously. Check it out (at the very end of page 1).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Barky Is a Calendar Cover Boy

We got a few early Christmakwanzukkah gifts here in Casa Bradstein. 3B cut his first tooth last week (bottom left-center for those of you keeping score at home); it came through on Thursday and more of it has been emerging ever since. Mama got a long visit with her mom while I was attending my geekfest conference in Boston, and I got a cold that's left me feeling like someone jammed sweaty jockstraps into my sinus cavities, then hung me upside down and beat me with telephone books.

Yes, I finally went to the doctor yesterday, after spending most of the last five days either passed out, whining about the joint aches and the headaches, or spitting quivering pats of lung butter into the sink. She said I was infected in at least one place and gave me some antibiotics, so health is on the march in my body. Somewhere. I'm still pretty wiped and highly infectious, so I'm staying home through the end of this week, which should give you an idea of how bad it was--I've been home all week and not one blog post. Not even a narcissistic plea for pity.

But, although it appears otherwise, this post isn't all about me. This post is all about Barky, the calendar cover boy--that's him in the 7:
Barky is enjoying his first modeling success for two reasons: he believes in supporting a good cause, and his cyberaunt dared him to. Oh, that and because he's the cutest dog in blogville, of course. Barky believes deeply in this particular good cause, being an adult rescue dog himself.

Before we got him, he was in the pound in Pennsylvania for six months. They were going to put him down, but called BREW as a last resort. They took him in, of course, and he was with a foster family for several months before he found us at an adoption day in Baltimore. He was so cute on that first day that he just stole our hearts. We can't imagine how anyone would let him get away, but we're so glad that he did find us and that we could give him a new home--especially one full of brownies, cookies, and trash cans.

We had certainly thought about getting a puppy, but we're so glad that we got a full grown dog; he came fully equipped--er, sort of: he'd been neutered, he was housetrained, he was quiet, and he rode well in cars. OK, so walking him on a leash was like walking the stripe on Charlie Brown's shirt, but he's a hound--that comes with the dinner.

So all of us here in Casa Bradstein encourage you to help out a worthy cause this holiday season by giving great holiday gifts to everyone you know. And let whoever you give them to know that Mr. November says thanks.

(See Barky in all his splendor.)

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