Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why I am a liberal

When I was in elementary school--I don't recall the particular year, but I must have been in 2nd, 3rd or 4th grade--I was stopped by a gang of older boys as I rode my bike across the school playground one summer day. They mobbed around me, with one straddling my front wheel, both hands on my handlebars, preventing me from going anywhere.

One quickly grabbed my Little League baseball hat and said he wouldn't give it back, although I still had a grip on it, with my fingers looped around the sizing strap on the back of the hat. I don't recall my exact words, but I'm sure that I whined to have it back. At that point I might have even cried. I was terrified, angry, and hurt--these were my neighbors, after all. Their brothers and sisters were in my class. I had played at some of their houses.

There was some conversation, and finally one of the older kids--his name was Tom and he was a great big kid with a head full of bright red hair--suggested that if I could hold onto my hat for one minute, I could keep it. Of course I agreed. I didn't have a choice.

As someone started timing on his watch, the other boy holding the hat started twisting it as fast as he could as I held fast to the strap. Soon the hat was twisted into a small rope, the hole that my fingers were in was closed and compressed around my fingers. As he continued twisting, it was as if a noose was being tightened around my fingers. The pain was intense, but now I was nothing but angry.

Just recalling it now makes me want to punch the smug smirks off of those bullies' faces.

Eventually, the minute ended and I rode away with my hat on my head. While I don't have many distinct memories of those years, I do recall walking in the house and telling Mom and her horrified and sympathetic reaction. I remember how the sunlight coming through the windows looked on the kitchen tiles. I don't remember if I did cry, and I'm not sure if I was so relieved to be free that I did, or if I was so angry that I couldn't.

I have a few assumptions to lay out here, principal among them is that we're all liberals. That is, unless there are any monarchists among us who believe in the Divine Right of Kings. So, except you monarchists, we all want a political system that values individual freedom above all. I'm also assuming that you support the rights of freedom of thought and speech, the rule of law, private property, free markets, and elections that are fair and open to all citizens.

Given that, when I'm explaining why I'm a liberal, I'm really explaining why I'm a social liberal--OK, and a cultural liberal--rather than an American conservative. And if you agree with all that, you'll also perhaps see why I believe that we all have far more in common than we have dividing us. I believe that what separates us most often is our differing interpretations of certain terms.

And so, from here forward, when I write "liberal," you can read that as "American social and cultural liberal," and when I write "conservative," you can read that as "American conservative."

I'll never forget Mr. Chanteloup, my economics instructor in my junior year of high school, for his condolences on my father's death. Mr. C, who was almost certainly a conservative although he remained steadfastly impartial in class, gave a definition of the differences between liberals and conservatives that I've pondered ever since, and generally found to be true:
  • Conservatives believe that individuals are responsible for their own actions.
  • Liberals believe that individuals are products of their environment and circumstances.

I believe that we all share a right to individual freedom. Those boys had no right to stop me from enjoying my freedom as I rolled across the playground. But, wait a minute...don't they have the right to their own freedom? Nobody should tell them to stop bullying me; they should be free to do as they please, right?

Yeah, I don't buy that argument either.

So, the real deal is that I believe in the right to individual freedom that doesn't impinge anyone else's right to freedom, which is where this gets tricky.

Should I have the right to yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater? No.

Should you have the right to shoot me? No.

Should financial traders have the right to invest in financial instruments with wild abandon to the point that the economy collapses, costing people their homes, jobs, and retirement funds? Hm. Good question.

This is what I meant when I said that conservatives and liberals generally agree on the big issues but part ways on the interpretation of them.

I believe that it's reasonable to regulate the activities of those who we can reasonably assume pose a risk to the majority of us through their actions. We do this for criminals through the courts and penal system, we do this for convicted felons through the probation system, and they generally affect individuals or small groups of people.

I don't see a reason why we wouldn't regulate the activities of those who could ruin the lives of millions of people, such as businessmen, who generally get a free pass for their crimes, even when they sign off on a policy of letting people immolate rather than paying for inexpensive repairs. Or when they refuse to recall or take responsibility for their products that result in the deaths of babies.

Many of us assume that we have complete freedoms, but this is not true. Even our right to assemble is restricted--we only have a right to peaceably assemble, not to form a mob and riot.

If we, as classical liberals desire, had complete freedom from coercion in all aspects of our life, we would likely live in a state of anarchy that would compel us to impose some structure on our society that would slightly restrict our individual freedoms in the near term but ensure our greater freedoms over the long term. In fact, I believe that's exactly how we've gotten to where we are today.

Going back to the gang of bullies in the schoolyard, a simple explanation for how that event helped me become a liberal would be that as a result of it I just don't like being told what to do, and feel an almost unbridled hatred for bullies, and so I want a political system that won't tell me, or anyone, what to do. While the first two statements are true, the conclusion isn't a result of them, and it's not entirely true, either.

Or, you could say that the schoolyard punks, whose behavior resulted in an overpowering dislike of bullying behavior in me, showed me that as much as I want to love everyone equally, I'm a product of my environment and circumstances. However, that's in direct opposition to my feeling that those bullies are individually accountable for their actions.

You might as well say that I'm a liberal because I grew up reading the San Francisco Chronicle, or because I'm left-handed I'm naturally inclined to the left side of the political spectrum, or because there's something in the fog that makes all the people in the Bay Area such hippies.

The reality is that I don't know what made me a liberal. As far as I can tell, I was born this way. And that makes sense--who would choose to be a liberal in the Reagan-Bush-Bush-Cheney era? I know I'm contrary by nature, but choosing that is like choosing to lay down before a speeding locomotive rather than ride the train.

But, despite the pressure and influences that might lead me to become a conservative, I've stayed a liberal. Why? Just because some boys beat me up one day? OK...beat me up over several days throughout elementary school, with one particular episode that lodged in my mind like a chicken bone in a dog's throat.

No, that's not why I'm a liberal either, but it does serve as an illustration of why I've stayed a liberal.

When I was in high school, I ended up playing soccer on teams with some of those same bullies from that day on the schoolyard. By then, we had all gotten past whatever differences we had when we were younger, and could be friendly. Although I admit that it was pretty hard to have complete trust in them at that time, we could certainly work together to play soccer.

How can that be?

That can happen because all of us continued through school and became educated. We learned how to better live with our neighbors, resolve our differences, and work for the common good. And we were able to do that because our government provided for our education.

Why would the government do such a thing as educate children? Why do Americans willingly pay taxes to support this practice? To both questions, the answer is because an educated citizenry benefits all of us. I can't prove the cause and effect, but I don't think that is just a coincidence that America's technology revolution started after WWII, when taxpayers willingly paid for GI's to get a college education.

We all benefit when we're all educated because we're all dependent on one another, whether we can see it, want to admit it, and whether we like it or not.

My fundamental belief that makes and keeps me a liberal is that we're better off working together than we are individually. While I prize individual freedom above all, I also understand that there are those who would take my freedom from me. When I was a boy, it was other boys who wanted to take my peace of mind from me as I tried to cross the playground. Now, I understand that there are those who would take my peace of mind, and my life if they could, as I try to travel the world.

What saved me as a boy was that the crowd was better than any one of its members, and I believe that the same holds true for us as a society and as a country. After all, that's the foundation of democracy--that the wisdom of all people is combined for the good of all people, and that the true goal of a political system is not total individual freedom for everyone, but the maximum individual freedom for all.

Yes, that leads to some compromises, such as the funding of schools through taxes, which restricts my financial freedom, but which benefits me by educating and empowering me and which increases the overall standard of living within our society. And even though we're guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms, we prevent citizens from keeping howitzers and hydrogen bombs in their backyards to protect us all from neighborly rivalries spilling over into regional conflicts or armageddon. And although it adds to the cost of our children's toys, we regulate the design and manufacture of them to ensure that they don't harm or kill our children. And we collectively benefit from those restrictions when they pay their social dividends.

Further, we gather together to do with each other what none of us could do alone and what no business would, such as bailing out the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes or providing assistance to tornado and earthquake victims. As wealthy and as philanthropic as they are, I didn't see Google or Microsoft providing sandbags to flood victims, or rebuilding their roads, or sewage systems. There are some functions that a society requires that can only be addressed through the collective work of all of its members, even if that is through a representative democracy, not direct action.

Which proves Mr. Chanteloup correct, at least in the case of me and my beliefs. I believe that while we are born with certain innate qualities--3B's cheerful personality and boundless optimism are a constant example--we are products of our environment and circumstances, and that that environment includes other people. We are all products of one another, and so just as my actions benefit you, yours benefit me. It is in all of our mutual interests to support and sustain each other, and by so doing, we can also ensure that each of us maintains as much freedom as possible, which is the goal that I believe we all share.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.
--William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

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"There was a little bit of blood in my ear"

That's what 3B reported to us this morning. Although we were able to reassure him this morning that he no longer has any blood in his ear, when Mama went to get him after his nap earlier this week, his ear was full of dried blood.

She was able to clean it up enough to see that it came from a small scratch in his ear, which was probably self-inflicted by 3B's razor blade fingernails. Of course, he wouldn't let her completely clean out his ear, so I got to do that during bath time.

Ever tried to pour water into a rambunctious toddler's ear?

So that was fun. It was also fun to try and cut his fingernails. I managed to get two trimmed by myself. Mama and I were able to work together and get the rest cut, which means that I was able to distract 3B somewhat while Mama cut his other eight fingernails. 3B now knows that "You cut the white part."

It's a good thing too, since he was starting to look like he'd been in a fight with a pack of angry cats. I had started a serious search for a good cutman.

Overall, it's been a long week for everyone, especially 3B, who is doing well handling going back to school and Mrs. K's and not being able to walk through the forest and fields. Perhaps that's because I was able to repair the broken necks on his ukulele and guitar.

But he has reached his limits at times, like coming home from Mrs. K's after not napping all day.

Although we've been getting plenty done as we try to settle back into our home, we weren't fast enough with the fingernail cutting to prevent 3B from slicing open my cheek as he pinched me in anger on the way to the car. I have to admit that my immediate reaction was not nearly as good as Mama's. Startled, I yelled, "No! That really hurt Daddy! Ow!"

When we came around the corner to the car, where Mama was, she ran over dramatically, and made a big show of fussing over my owie, and how bad it was. I honestly didn't know how bad it was, other than that it was bleeding, so I handed 3B to Mama to buckle in while I looked in the mirror.

Of course, with a face like mine, a small scar would only be an improvement.

As I've looked back on it, and as 3B has continued to talk about this event, I realize that it would have been far more effective for me to react like Mama did--by focusing on the hurt, and by showing how hurt I was rather than showing anger. This is something we've talked about doing and are trying to practice more often--showing concern for the person hurt rather than paying attention, even negative attention, to the person doing the hurting. Only, this time, my anger just popped right up.

Anger assumes that there's someone to blame, and focuses the reaction on that rather than on the root of the problem--the hurt that person caused. Reacting by just showing my hurt focuses on what's wrong and what can be corrected. 3B can see the hurt, apologize for it, and learn not to hurt. So much for my nonviolent parenting. Hopefully I can get it right next time.

Mama's reaction seems to have worked well though, judging by 3B's reaction. However, it hasn't kept him from continuing to hurt himself, which is how he woke up this morning with a huge scab on the bridge of his nose just in time for his first school photo day.

This is after we cleaned it up...

At least it's not filling his ear...although, that wouldn't show up in a photo...

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wait until your father sees this

Although half of domestic violence victims are men, most of us carry a stereotype that only women are victims and that men are abusers. This misconception is now being reinforced by ads throughout Dallas, placed by an organization that, when confronted with the statistics about domestic violence, responded, "I hope you are offended."

It turns out that thousands of dads are offended.

As a dad who's trying to raise his son to be as nonviolent as possible, which involves making myself as nonviolent as possible, none of which is as easy as it may seem, I'm mostly offended that they took this negative approach to the problem, rather than offering a solution.

Sure, they got more attention--albeit, most of it negative--drawn to the issue of domestic violence, but all that they're doing is pointing out the problem--well, half of the problem. I've always held that problems are worth pennies, solutions worth silver dollars.

Anybody who can speak can voice a problem. Hell, last night, when presented with a cup with a few M&Ms and some cereal as a reward for sitting on the potty, 3B said, "I think it would be better if these O's were not in the cup."

It seems to me that The Family Place, the organization that placed the ads, does offer solutions in their services. I just wish that their actions were reflected in their ads.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Senator Biden is now my homeboy

No matter who you're voting for in the presidential election, this video of a 5th grade reporter, Damon Weaver, covering Biden's visit to his school is well worth watching.

It's fun to see how enthusiastic Weaver is about being a reporter and covering a vice presidential candidate and to hear him speak in his own voice rather than the buttoned-down-boring-as-dry-white-toast vernacular of network talking heads.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Biggest newborn I've seen

We're departing from Grammy's farm today, headed to NYC to stay the night with the happy couple I married in May. It will be good to get home, although I'll miss the profound nighttime silence, the clean air that's full of the smells of nature, and the long walks with Barky through the fields.

Although I want to live somewhere more rural like this than where we do, next door to the Mall of the Doomed, I always seem to end up back in suburbia. Maybe that's just me returning to my suburban roots. And maybe if I was anything other than the child of suburbia that I am, perhaps on my walk earlier this week, I would have noticed that I wasn't taking a picture of just any cow, but a pregnant cow.

This morning, taking one final perambulation with Barky, we came across Fifi again. I stopped not because she's one of 3B's favorites here, but because she was standing over a calf--a calf that wasn't with her yesterday. I got close enough to see that the calf was moving and that Fifi wanted me nowhere near the calf, and then I headed back to Grammy's house.

As we walked off, Fifi came out of the stand of trees that she was in between the old barn and the brook and called to the other cows, who were standing up on the rise. They all came down and gathered around her, then she led them across the brook to introduce them all to her new calf as Barky and I walked away.

We always look forward to coming back to Grammy's farm, but now we'll have a special treat to anticipate for our Christmas trip. When 3B goes into the calf barn to give calves their bottles, he'll be able to give one to Fifi's calf.

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Friday, October 24, 2008


I've been from Tuscon to Tucumcari

Driving the mule

Tehachapi to Tonopah

Firetruck and mule

Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made

Learning to drive

Learning to drive

Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed

Sunset from the calf barn

Dancing in the driveway

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

A journey of 1,000 miles starts with one stick

We set off today for a walk with Aunt D, Barky and Barky's cousin, Aunt D's dog.

Despite appearances, the walk was more of a carry for those in the two-year-old demographic, however, there were brief spells of walking, primarily to retrieve appropriate sticks.

A good day for a walk

And to contemplate.

A good day for a stick

At our destination, we took a snack break, during which we added one layer to 3B's ensemble, in a vain effort to keep him warm. It really was cold down there in the forest, but it was also beautiful with the fall colors having somehow hung on through the rain, snow and wind.

It was cold in the forest

OK, it was a cuddle break too.

Snacking on the steps

And then it was time to depart our destination.

Our destination

The funny thing about this trip was that even though it was downhill, the walk back seemed much longer than the walk up. I've done this to myself on bike rides too--going out too far, too fast, then dragging all the way home. I think that this time around, I was expecting that 3B would walk at some point, so carrying him up didn't seem that bad.

But no matter what I was expecting, I still had to carry him all the way down. Isn't that the way, some days?

Recently, Mama and I have been trying to figure out how to cope with the recent spate of meltdowns that 3B has been going through. I figure that part of the cause is the recent stresses of my being gone for a week, the trip here to Grammy's, being out of his house and routine for two weeks, and knowing that when we get home, he'll have a new bathroom--if they were able to cut down the toilet drainpipe, level the floor, replumb the sink, and fit the tub out of our place and into the elevator.

Perhaps I'm projecting that last one from myself onto 3B.

Part of the cause might also be that 3B has figured out that meltdowns are a good way to stop the world for a little bit. Even if he doesn't get what he wants, he sometimes can get out of what he doesn't want, or put it off for a bit. Unfortunately for him, we're not on much of a schedule here, so we have plenty of time to let him do his thing, then carry on as before. Which of course, sets off another meltdown.

Regardless of the cause of the meltdowns, and our inability to resolve them, we still have to carry on. Isn't that the way some days?

Besides, the meltdowns, which involve plenty of civil-disobedience-body-goes-totally-limp-and-melts-to-the-floor maneuvers, have led 3B to discover that he can crawl under the beds here, and play cave in them with all of his friends, just like he does under his crib at home.

For every step backward, there's another step forward. That's just the way.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Her name is Fifi. She is a cow.

This first one is in part for 3B, who likes particular cows here on the farm. Fifi is one of his favorites, so I took this picture for him when I was out walking through the pastures with Barky. It's also for Gage, to remind him what real cows look like.


This next one shows you just how far Mama and Papa's discipline slips at Grammy's house--which is 3B's Great Grammy's, so it's an exponential slip for him. Yes, he's eating a fresh carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting (courtesy of Grammy, who also baked fresh vegetable strudel for us for dinner). And yes, he's eating it off of a knife.

Cupcake on a knife

And this last one, well, I just liked the looks of it.

Red in the sky at night

And now, I'm off to have one of those cupcakes. And maybe a spot of tea. And maybe another piece of coconut cream pie.

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This looks like a good day to sit inside, sip tea and eat pie, but 3B wants to go across the street to the sawmill.



What snow?


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A three-minute blockbuster

This one's got everything--a live concert, an encore, leaf throwing and jumping, forklift driving, a log carriage rolling in a sawmill, and a surprise ending with the hero.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Playing in the sawmill

I told you I was going for a walk in the woods. I also happened to go by the mill and the barn--we had to get more milk, after all.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Planes, trains, automobiles and leaves

I just spent a week there, but if you want to know what Vancouver looks like, don't ask me. I'd tell you that it's nothing but a convention center and two hotels, and that most of the time, the only thing you can see is the fuzzy pink wall of a tiny convention center office behind the glow of your computer monitor.

It was, of course, somewhat more fun than that, but what's the fun in letting on to all that?

Seriously, there was excellent food, fun times with coworkers, and a far-too-early flight out to NYC. I spent a quick night with my friends who I married in May, then hopped on the Ethan Allen up here. Speaking of the efficiency of train travel, have you wondered why Amtrak makes you arrive at Penn Station, only to bus you across town, where you arrive late, without tickets, and have to race to the train through the mobs of Grand Central? If not, you clearly haven't ridden the Ethan Allen.

It was, of course, somewhat less fun than that, but who wants to hear all that?

And if you are riding the Ethan Allen any time soon--go straight to Grand Central and enjoy your trip. It was a beautiful ride up the Hudson River Valley while the setting sun was setting ablaze the fiery fall colors that are now flying from the trees before wintry winds. I stepped off at a small brick station, boarded up now, where I watched the heavy waning ivory moon lift above the outstretched naked tree limbs, heard the haunting horn of the train calling through the night as it passed into the next town, and traced the snaking lines of the tracks into the blackness of the forest as I waited for Mama.

Now, I'm where the real fun has been happening, at Grammy's farm. After taking a four-hour nap today while 3B did the same, I'm feeling much better. Hopefully, 3B will wake tomorrow feeling better as well; we put him to bed tonight with a slight fever. That seems to have slowed him down a bit this afternoon, although it didn't stop us from playing at the sawmill and taking a ride up to see the barn.

Before now, he's been keeping Mama too busy for her to take many pictures, but she did manage to squeeze off a few shots just before I arrived.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate Prep

I'll probably be locked in a hotel room here at the convention center in Vancouver during the debate tonight, so I'm not sure how Dave J. will get his news about the debate, but here's some material to help you prep.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ginger Rogers and the Roaches

I'm in Vancouver for business, which means that starting today, all that I'll see is the inside of meeting rooms at the convention center. However I was able to get outside yesterday when Sister #2, Kangamoo, drove up with her two boys. OK, "boys" is a relative term, since one is old enough to drink and the other will be driving in a few years.

We had a video chat with Mama and 3B, who confirmed Mama's report, saying, "I just learned to jump off the couch," and then showed us how he can jump on the bed, hide, and play with my pocket watch. Then we walked along the water over to Stanley Park. We saw live crabs, dead crabs, lily pads, live fish, caught fish, and a small grove of totem poles.

Sister #2 and I, of course, talked the whole way over and back and all through dinner. I'm so glad that they were able to get across the border and come visit, especially since they didn't get back home until 1 a.m. and Sister #2 had to be out the door to work by 7 a.m. this morning.

I wish that I could say that things were going so smoothly back at home, but this morning, I got this email from Mama, who refers to Barky as Ginger Rogers when he's clattering his claws up and down our hall, and who's singlehandedly continuing our battle against our neighbor's cockroach infestation that's spilling over into our place:

This is the way my morning begins at 6:00 am. The dog gets up to barf, after Ginger Rogersing around the house and waking me up 5 times last night. I lie in bed wondering what I should do. I need to react immediately - but then again - the damage is I lie in bed and get it when I wake up? But that's gross. And what if it starts to stink or stain the carpet. So, I get up. But without my glasses on I cannot find the barf. I hunt for it in the usual spots. No luck. But I can't see very well.

Then, a cockroach skitters across the carpet in the kitchen and burrows into the mat on the floor. I head for a shoe. With a solid heel. Then the dog thinks we're going out. He tanks up on water and starts hopping all around. I tell him to chill the fuck out. I beat the hell out of the cockroach and kill it. Then I have to pick it out of the carpet and throw it out. It's 6:15 in the morning.

I resign to the fact that I am awake. I still cannot find the barf. Then another roach skitters across the living room carpet. Note to self - no more snacks in the tent. Note to self- no more snacks ever again. No eating ever again if only I can never see another one of those nasty little creatures. Sorry 3B - it's Yom Kippur all the time now.
The dog goes to sleep on the couch in his usual spot. The fan roars - I forgot to turn it off last night. And so begins the day. It's pitch black outside. And I still don't have my glasses on.
I hope you had fun with Sister #2 and are having a good night's rest - without Ginger Rogers and the Roaches. Kind of sounds like a band, doesn't it?
Fortunately, I got this p.s. email
I put my glasses on. And turned on all the lights. And found the barf.
I am happy to have found the barf.
It's the little things, you know?
He is now trained to barf on the floor instead of the carpet.
He's smart.
I need to call the vet...
So, there are worse things than being trapped in a conference room for a week.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Mama's side of the family shines through

The great Bradstein evacuation is upon us. I'm departing for a week long business trip and Mama and the boys are taking refuge at Grammy's while our bathroom is demolished and then rebuilt.

Anthromama wanted before and after pics. We've cleaned out too much of the bathroom to give a full appreciation of the horror of it in pictures, but I believe that this shot of the incredibly tiny, useless, and noisy-as-hell hamper gives you an idea. And yes, the whole room is that color, which makes you feel like you've walked into a Serrano photograph, which makes the room as uncomfortable as it sounds.

Before I depart, I wanted to note a few new developments in 3B that I'm proud of, which means that they probably all come from Mama's side of the family.

3B now...

...says "I" instead of "you" when referring to himself. Like most other developments, it seems to have started today and he's using about 80% of the time, which means that by tomorrow morning, he should be at 100%. Mama also notes that he's using "me" and a greater number of contractions. great big hugs unprompted. The other day he even blurted out, "I love you Daddy," without my having to promise lollypops or chocolate or a trip outside to play drums on the balcony. Remind me...why am I leaving for a week?

...quotes passages from books as he roams through the house, plays with toys, rides in the stroller, lies in his crib before falling asleep and so forth. I'm constantly impressed by his capacity to instantly memorize stories, although if you visit and don't know that he's quoting Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon, you might be disconcerted to hear 3B say, "The executioner's great ax glinted in the moonlight."

...executes a perfect one-cheek sneak, especially in his booster seat during meals. And laughs about it.
OK, that last one is probably from my side of the family, but I'm still proud of it.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Feist/Jean-Pierre Rampal mashup

It's amazing how much I can learn when I read something better researched than a blog post. For example, Happiest Toddler on the Block is teaching me why 3B couldn't eat corn by himself or draw circles until recently, when his wrists became able to rotate. Of course, this might also be why he can now twist some doorknobs enough to open some doors, so there's a downside to progress.

HTOTB also explains that when he's three, 3B might begin adding words to sentences, so instead of saying "Hi," he will say "Good morning." So I guess it makes sense that he told Mama that his tie-dye looking key resembled his teacher's shirt by saying, "That key looks like Ms. A's shirt." Or that the other day, he asked for a Feist/Jean-Pierre Rampal mashup.

3B differentiates Feist's two performances, and the other day, when we were in the car, he wanted "Sesame Street Feist," which we don't have on the iPod. We told him he could watch what he refers to as "sparkly Feist," but his second choice was Jean-Pierre Rampal. When we explained that we don't have the Jean-Pierre Rampal video on the iPod either, 3B asked for a "sparkly Jean-Pierre Rampal." We told him we'd have to Google that when we got home.

In addition to negotiating, 3B has already started asking those five W questions that HTOTB talks about: who, what, where, when and why. He even remembers the answers. Last night, on the balcony, he looked up at the planes drawing silver contrails through the lavender sky and said, "Those are planes making those marks on the sky." He added, "They are full of people." I asked him where the planes were going. "To the airport."

He's going to be one of those kids who tries to game the IQ test.

Apparently, he'll also start using "OK" to negotiate soon, as in, "Let's stay at the playground, OK?" He's already started using it on the other end of sentences, as in, "OK, now we are going to play tent with all of your friends." OK, so maybe negotiating isn't his long suit. Every family needs a leader; ours has 3B.

Several weeks ago he mastered another essential element of speech: Um. It was shortly after he converted from "Yes" to "Yeah" when he started saying things like, "Um, do you want to play your guitar on the stage? Yes, you want to play your guitar on the stage." He's also taken to saying, "You want to go out on the balcony, bub."

Um. I wonder where he got that from...Mama? Whatever, dude. So long as he doesn't become a boy who says "ummm bub."

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Monday, October 06, 2008

All the cool kids are doing it

My sister inspired me to empty my phone card too. That's as far as it goes, however...I'm not racing in any triathlons like she does. That's just crazy talk.

These are in chronological order...recent ones up top, shots from the Paleozoic at the bottom.

When you go hiking, it's important to get just the right stick, even if you have to go far afield.

Sometimes, you need more than one stick.

All kinds of sticks are useful.

Even these guys have sticks...(this is at a Caps practice because they practice across the street from work, so I can meet Mama and 3B there at lunch)

3B diggin' on gospel music.

At the instrument petting zoo...which to a boy obsessed with his string instruments was a slice of heaven. He got to bow and pluck a violin, viola, cello and bass, after which his head exploded from joy.

Why we went to the street festival... catch some air, dude...

...and relax.

Another Barky in the wall.

At some point during the summer, which seems to have taken place last year, we went bike riding.

Hydration is important.

Bobby Julich, according to 3B.

Somehow, riding in the car is not as much fun as biking.

I keep telling 3B that covetousness is a sin, but he does this at every baseball field. If you build it, he will come.

I'm not exactly sure what they put in Coke in Belgium, but suddenly, I'm not so thirsty.

Apparently, their cigarettes include the same death that ours do here--long, slow and painful--as shown on the warning label.

Oh, and theirs kill children just as effectively as our do...yeesh...I can't imagine any parent picking this up, let alone buying it.

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