Category Archives: birthdays

Happy Birthday, BG

I have a two-year-old. It’s alarming and wonderful, and we had a great day celebrating his birthday. He started the day with a new tea set, a recycling truck, and some new books. He watched more Laurie Berkner videos and ate cookies and peanuts and waffles for breakfast. It was a day of forbidden decadence. We took him to a lovely place devoted entirely to trains, where he rode a train and a carousel and had a grand time. He’s wiped out from the overstimulation of it all, but he’s happy.

I plan to write him a two-year letter sometime this week. Any of you who have been around since his birth probably notice that they haven’t happened since he was one. I’m not sure I planned it that way; it just happened. I’m also planning a return of the crocodile photo. Again, later, when everyone has gotten some rest.

And then there’s the matter of the flaming on my last post. I’ll get to that too, I suppose, although I don’t know why someone needed to come out of lurkerdome for that. Ugh. Kind of marred my mood, and I’m pissed that I’m wasting my energy thinking about it.

For now, I’m getting some rest because it seems the birthday has brought with it a cold.


Filed under birthdays, Boy Genius

one (twelve months)

twelve months and very displeased with needing to hold still

one month--oh how he's grown

Dear Baby Genius,

You are one year old. One! I knew this day would come quickly–and it has–but it also seems like a lifetime ago when you were a sleepy, wiggly newborn who couldn’t so much as control his hands.

It’s remarkable the difference a year makes, and what a glorious year it has been. In your twelfth month, you really have started to emerge as a toddler, and what an adventure it has already been.

For some time now, you have been perfectly content with your little army crawl, but right after your eleven month birthday, you started getting up on those knees of yours, and within days, you had perfected your cross crawl. You now resemble a little bull dog roaming from one room to another–and you’re fast! This has made life a little better for you now, for you can follow us easily from one room to another, and you do. Sometimes you even decide you’re going to go off and explore on your own. This is rare, but when you do, you always look back to see if we’re coming. You love it when one of us chases after you, and you giggle and giggle until we catch you whereupon you explode into laughter. Oh how I love that laugh!

You have a lot to laugh about too–from Mama’s crazy sound effects to cats jumping over you in hopes to escape your tail-pulling, you laugh and laugh whenever you can. Your favorite jokes have to do with us finding things disgusting, like your feet. We were alarmed when you were quite young to learn that baby feet smell like feet, so we have long made faces and gagging sounds when you have put your feet in our faces. Now when you’re nursing, you will often throw a foot up to my nose just to get me to make my crazy sounds, and you giggle and giggle. I positively love your emerging sense of humor.

You are learning to communicate more as well. Your favorite phrase (yes, phrase) right now is “want dat!” Previously, you would point at things and shout “dat!” but your new phrase gets you things that you want. It is powerful, and you use it often, whether for expressing interest in a morsel of food or a cat walking by. We are sure to hear this at least ten times a day. You have other words too, like “waterbottle,” which sounds more like (wabababuh). You decided that you preferred this to “cup,” probably because you see me drinking out of mine (and as a result covet mine), so we started calling your sippy cups water bottles. Yes, we’re tricky that way.

Your favorite thing to say though is “buhbuhbuh.” Not many people will know what this means, but Mama and I do. You see, Baby Genius, you have a favorite book: Bye Bye Big Bad Bullybug. You have begun asking for this book multiple times a day, and we can’t help but oblige. One day, I was working in the office section of your room, and you stood by my chair yelling “Buhbuhbuh! Buhbuhbuh!” You were pointing wildly to the upper level of the bookcase where we keep this book, and I had to stop and read because how could I deny you something so lovely as a book? You do have other favorites as well: A few Dr. Seuss books including Oh, The Thinks You Can Think, A Wocket in My Pocket, and  Mr. Brown Can Moo. Can You?, the Mem Fox book Whoever You Are, and the lovely little book Mommy, Mama, and Me. You love your books so much, and you can sit for quite long periods of time leafing through them. What is more impressive is that you can pick your favorites from piles of similar books. Mr. Brown, for example, is one that you know by simply looking at the spine. We love this about you. Your love of books is something we’ll always enjoy–and while Mama and I do find it alarming that we often quote Dr. Seuss over dinner these days, we couldn’t be happier that we have a little reader on our hands.

Um, I was reading that.

You do have interests in lots of other things now, and you’re getting into things quite a bit more with your increased mobility. We decided to give you a few special Baby Genius spots–one in each room really–that you can raid. There is a drawer in our bathroom that you rifle through for long periods of time. It contains all kinds of fascinating items like pedicure sandals, old eyeglasses, a travel alarm clock, and even some wildly inappropriate baby toys like unused plastic speculums. You love to rummage through things, pull items out, examine them, throw them over your shoulder, and move on. Once in awhile, you do find a treasure, and you find it necessary to share. One day recently, you insisted on nursing while holding a day-of-the-week pill dispenser, which you pressed against my face from time to time. I do find all of this amusing, but I do hope you learn the finer art of putting things away soon. But then, I guess you are learning this in some ways because one of your new favorite activities is placing things “in.” You have multiple containers because these are your favorite toys–everything from coffee bean cans to former cheese containers and travel mugs. You love taking the lids off and placing other objects in these containers, shaking them about, removing the objects, and playing with the lids. You have an assortment of complex games associated with these containers that impress me to no end.

There are times now when you start to get into things that you shouldn’t. Mama and I often respond with a simple shake of our heads or an “uh-uh,” so at times when you know you’re doing something you shouldn’t, you shake your head and stop yourself. Other times, you follow through with the act, grin, and then shake your head. Yes, we see a little bit of an impish streak running through you, which is charming for now, but I have a feeling I may change my mind about that later! Once in awhile, you want to do something you can’t do, or you want to hold something that is either dangerous or not Baby Genius resistant, and when this has happened, we have begun to see your first tantrums emerge. Mostly they involve high-pitched screams, which are alarming and honestly not my favorite sounds I’ve heard from you. You have many charming behaviors too though, including a desire to give kisses, meaning you open your mouth wide when one of us is trying to kiss you. You also hug now. Oh, do you hug! You give the BEST hugs, Baby Genius. You hug your animals, puppets, and most importantly your Mama and I. It melts our hearts. You have spent more time with your older cousin B this month too, and as a result, when you see her photo, you love to hug and kiss that too. You have to say hi to B at least once a day, and it is very endearing.

You’ve still been working on getting your next two teeth, but we’re trying to give you more types of foods to gum. You are eating quite a bit of goat cheese and goat yogurt these days (we’ll try dairy again soon, but for now, you love these alternatives). These are some of your very favorite foods. You also have fallen madly in love with polenta, tofu, and veggie burgers. You still eat plenty of fruits and veggies, but we’ve all but stopped making your mashes and purees since you really prefer to feed yourself these days. With this newfound independence comes a need to take care of your moms as well, so during every meal you try to share your food with us. You used to be content if we just pretended to eat what you were offering, but now you insist on placing your little hand in our mouths and opening to release whatever you are offering. One day I was the lucky recipient of a piece of peach coated in refried beans. This was a culinary experience I will not soon forget! You have also taken to putting your foot up on your high chair. This started when you were trying to get leverage when you were having some diaper difficulties, but I think you discovered that having your foot up was fun, so now your foot is involved in every meal.

This has been such a big time with you, Son. You helped Mama and I celebrate our birthdays, you met your brand new baby cousin, and best of all, you had your very first birthday party (and cake!).  Your twelfth month has had us saying goodbye to your infancy and welcoming in a whole new set of experiences with a toddler. What an awesome and beautiful and positively life-altering year this first year with you has been though. You have taught me and Mama so much, and you have shown us what it means to love bigger than we ever knew we could with every cell in our bodies. You are everything to us. You have brought us so much light and joy, you precious, precious boy, and we are so very happy you are ours.

I love you my sweet little baby, my big one-year-old, my beautiful Boy Genius.




Filed under Baby Genius, birthdays

birthday boy

While my disappearance may lead one to believe otherwise, we did survive our son’s birthday party/open house. In fact, we did far better than survive it. It was fantastic. The day began quietly but sweetly. We had decorated the house with balloons galore the night before, and when we came out of the bedroom, he stared up at them in awe, smiling. He knew something cool was going on right away.  

 We had also placed some of his favorite animals around the living room in party hats holding some of his gifts. He loved this and we just let him open his little treasures as he found them. 




His Grandma and Grandpa came in time for his lunch and then our friend who made his beautiful dairy-free, gluten-free cake (so good–made with buckwheat and ground up almonds and macadamia nuts–and  a ton of blueberries–with a plum sauce for extra gooeyness). He loved it. He shoved it in his face, rubbed it in his hair, got plum sauce all over everything. It was fabulous, and the friend who baked it couldn’t have been happier with the compliment. (The best part about this cake was that it had minimal sugar, so there was no crazy sugar freak-out!) 

 And the whole day progressed very organically from there. More guests, including BG’s little friend Z and her moms, came a little later as he opened gifts.   


His cousin and aunt showed up with such lovely fanfare: his two year-old cousin opened our front door, ran straight to BG squealing “Happy Birthday!” and hugged and kissed him all over. He responded by tugging on her curls. 

We listened to reggae much of the day (a favorite of BG’s), and the kids frolicked and crawled all over each other. The girls kissed our son over and over, and he dealt with it incredibly well. It seemed he knew the day was his. He was so calm, so happy. It was really quite special. 

Everyone was gone by 3:30 or so, and we had a chance to relax as a family, play with the boy’s toys, and reflect. My wife popped open a bottle of champagne at 5:00–the time of his birth–and I wept remembering how it felt to hold him and touch him for the first time. I laughed and wept as our incredible little guy crawled around tugging on balloons and checking out his toys too excited to nap. We even gave him more birthday cake. 


We couldn’t have asked for a better day. For us, for our son, this could not have been a more perfect birthday, and I feel a little sad that I ever dreaded it in the least. I am looking forward to throwing our boy parties for years to come. 

It’s official: we have a one-year-old Baby Genius. I’m not sure how much longer I can call him Baby Genius, but there’s time to brainstorm while we soak all of this in.

Wow. He’s one. He’s fantastic.


Filed under Baby Genius, birthdays

so much reflection

Yesterday was my 35th birthday–my first birthday as a mom. It was so different. BG hadn’t gotten the memo that he was to be on his best behavior, so when J went to teach in the morning, he was fairly crabby and clingy and was not very understanding of me needing to get the two of us ready for a day in the city. But I wouldn’t trade that morning for any other. I stared at my son as we woke up so grateful for him–the greatest gift I’ve ever had. Once J came home to pick us up, we had a beautiful day at the California Academy of Sciences enjoying seeing all kinds of crazy fish and other creatures. By then our boy was at his best so happy to be in the Ergo with his moms as we traded him back and forth throughout the day. It was a perfect day.

But this time of year is so much more now than my birthday or J’s birthday or the beginning of the school year. It marks the anniversary of BG’s arrival. As we approach his birthday, J and I find ourselves reflecting on the days leading up to his birth. Yesterday was the anniversary of our last birth class. A year ago today, we had our last midwife appointment with lots of talk of induction. I remember weeping much of the day because I felt I was having my power ripped from me. And I remember my wife talking me through it, helping me come up with an affirmation, showing me that everything would be all right that somehow this baby was coming on our terms. And tomorrow–tomorrow is the anniversary of doing everything we could to get our baby to show up before his due date. Most notably, we walked in every air-conditioned store we could. Imagine the looks I got at the local home improvement store, my belly so huge people thought I was surely having twins.

It was such a time of anticipation. I was anxious, nervous, happy, excited, a little scared of what the birth of this baby would mean. I love looking back on it all, and part of me almost misses that time. There is nothing quite as intoxicating as that feeling of becoming. But I have to say, it is just as fun now looking forward to what each new moment with this boy is going to bring , to be able to witness his becoming, to continue to watch ourselves grow and evolve as a family.

I am such a lucky woman.


Filed under Baby Genius, birthdays

snowballs in september

In one week, Baby Genius will be one. For the longest time–months–J and I have said that we don’t want to do anything big on this day. We wanted our son to have fun. We wanted to minimize the usual over-stimulation that happens at first birthday parties. We wanted to minimize the hosting of people and energy spent on people other than our son. As with most best-laid plans, this has gone straight down the garbage chute.

Originally, we were going to  have a mellow day together, maybe go to the park, open some presents, have some cake. Then my mom said she and my step-dad might like to stop in since they’ll be in the area. That sounded fine. It would be nice to hang out with grandparents and for BG to get a little extra attention, so we encouraged them to come.

And then a very lovely friend of ours offered to make BG a dairy-free, gluten-free cake, and we thought, well, she and her husband should definitely come too. She came to visit us in the hospital and met him when he was just a day old. They are very dear to us, and they love our son–and she’s making his cake. So of course we want them here. Plus, they’re not the over-stimulating types, so they’re great additions.

And then J thought that it would be nice to have some friends here who have a child, since a birthday party for a one-year-old should have at least one other child in attendance. So we invited our really cool new friends with an 18-month-old (our only real-life lesbian mom friends to boot) to come by sometime that day.

And with that, we decided to make it a sort of open house. People will come by when they like between noon and 3:00, and we were hoping they would somehow stagger themselves and all would still be fairly mellow.

And then this weekend, we learned that my sister, whom we hadn’t told about it at all, was planning to come with BG’s two-year-old cousin.

And then tonight my dad called to say, “What’s going on for BG’s birthday?” and “Oh great! I’ll be there!” because I couldn’t lie.

And this is how our plans snowballed out of control, how we ended up throwing a birthday party that we never intended to throw. J and I sat on the sofa tonight, eyes wide, mouthes agape, wondering how the hell we were going to put this together, and we just decided that it will come together. We’ll throw out some veggies and fruit, some cheese and crackers. We’ll feed BG watermelon as long as he wants to eat it to keep him happy. And there will be cake too–some delicious, homemade, (even nutritious!) cake. Somehow, some way, we’ll keep him happy. But that over-stimulation we were trying to avoid? Um, yeah, right.

Please tell me that aided by sugar, he’s going to be all right.


Filed under Baby Genius, birthdays

birthdays and wishes

First things first: our beloved Poppy has delivered her beautiful twins! Welcome to the world sweet, sweet babies! Congratulations to the new moms!

It’s hard to believe that in just under two weeks, we’re going to have a one-year old. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’ve gone utterly speechless. I mean, I see this boy every day, but somehow I can’t grasp that a year has passed since his birth. It’s been such an amazing time getting to know him. Sometimes I wish it had gone a little more slowly. At the same time, I’m so excited each day to find out which part of him is going to emerge next. And honestly, since J and I have been able to be home with him the whole year, we can’t say we’ve missed anything. It’s the greatest thing in the world watching this kid grow. 

We’re not really throwing a party for the big day; instead, it will be more of a birthday open house, although it will be open to only a select few (my parents, and two different sets of friends).  The birthday boy will have a dairy-free, gluten-free cake because we’re still avoiding dairy and wheat with him. (We tried him on dairy a few times with not-so-great results, and we’re pretty sure wheat was the other culprit in his early digestive issues, so we’ll hold off on that for awhile too.) Our dear, dear friend, though, has taken it upon herself to make something delectable and totally one-year-old appropriate. We love her for this. There will be a balloon or two, because our boy loves balloons, and a few gifts, but not anything excessive because we just don’t do that. It’s going to be fun without the  over-stimulation that is so often rampant at first birthdays. That’s what we’re hoping for anyway.

My birthday is just four days before his, so we’ll be taking a day trip into San Francisco to explore the Academy of Sciences and more specifically the aquarium. I imagine this will be the first of many years where my birthday and BG’s birthday will be combined. I love that. Because J’s birthday is just two weeks before mine, it really is a full month of birthday celebrations. I can only imagine this will turn into a great, raucous time when he’s older. Hell, it’s fun now.

Our lives are still in a bit of upheaval. My wife will start teaching again on Wednesday. She’s got three classes and is being paid ridiculously little to teach them, but it’s work, and it will help sustain us as we continue to add more jobs to the mix. So long as neither of us can land full-time academic work (the holy grail in our field), we’re in this hamster wheel with our jobs, each year wondering whether or not we’ll have work and then at the last minute having classes dumped in our laps (or not, as in my case), and when they aren’t, scrambling to cobble together enough work from other sources to get by. It is not a glamorous life. It is not the life we want to live.

With this in mind, J has been working on getting into a graduate program in a new field. She got in, but now we’re waiting to find out if we can put the funds together for her to go. And it sucks because after all kinds of hope, it might not happen this year, and it breaks my heart that this is the case. If she isn’t able to go, she’ll put it off for a year, and we’ll both find extra jobs so that we can afford it next year, so that we can afford to get out of this tourist trap of a town, so that we can stop having summers like this one has been, so that we can breathe easier all around and hope like hell that our son doesn’t know what this life is like (although I suppose some would say this is the stuff of good memoirs, so maybe we’re setting him up to be the next David Sedaris).

So, in the wake of my wife’s 38th birthday, and as I rapidly approach my 35th, I am sending out a big, fat birthday wish:

Universe, please give us a break this year. We know we got our son last  year, and that has been the best wish-come-true two girls could imagine, so please don’t think we’re not grateful. It’s just that this year, we want a little something better for all three of us. If you could spare us anymore heartache and excessive stress and instead offer up just a sprinkling of luck or opportunity–or perhaps just a previously unknown large sum of money–that would be wonderful. Thanks.


Filed under Baby Genius, birthdays

eleven months

eleven months old

With just over two weeks away until his first birthday, I suppose it’s time to post this!

Dear Baby Genius,

Another month has passed, and Mama and I have found ourselves with less baby and more little boy every day. It has been a remarkable month with you, son, just as every month has been thus far. Mama and I are fairly astounded that in just one month you will be a whole year old. Let’s take this last month of your first year a little slower, okay?

our big boy

This month seems to have been your language month. Your signs are becoming more frequent, more relevant, and more self-initiated. You have beern signing “more” for quite some time now, but this month, you learned “eat,” and most recently, you began to sign “milk” for nursing. You love to nurse so much that you sign this with both hands. We look forward to you learning more in the months to come.

Your oral language is coming along too. You melted our hearts when one day you reached for Mama, and clear as day exclaimed, “Mama!” You also have a word for nursing (of course), which is “nanana.” I believe this is also the name you have currently chosen for me, which does make some sense. You have said a number of things just once. One day, for example, you looked up at your string of elephants and said “essassun,” which we’re pretty sure was “elephant.” Another day, we were getting you ready for a bath, and you said, “Ba!” Once in awhile, you will say “anana,” which refers to bananas. Another time, you were eating your oatmeal, no bananas in sight, and you said to Mama, “Anana! Anana!” We had no ananas at the time, but we loved that you were making your very own unprompted request. Your most frequent and favorite words now are “uh-dat!” which is “cat,” and “DAT! DAT!” which seems to mean “I like that” or “Look at that” because it’s also accompanied by pointing and wiggling.

Dat! Dat!

One of the primary objects that you talk about daily is the microwave. You see it in the kitchen, and you get so excited, yelling, “DAT! DAT! DAT!” You love it when we use this thing, and you’re mesmerized by its whirring and beeping. Most of all, you like to close the door, but you like to close a lot of doors. If one of us is holding you while opening the refrigerator, you will often close it before we’ve removed our hands. If a cabinet door has been left open, you reach to close that. I hope this is a sign that you’re going to be a tidy boy.

So much of your development lately has happened in your high chair, so it’s no surprise that this is where you have made your first good friend. For a few months, your poor Ugly Ghost has sat in various locations around our home just waiting for your attention. One day, you spotted him sitting in your jumper, and he joined you at the table for lunch. You hugged him and tried to feed him, and you threw him on the floor.From that day, Ugly Ghost became your meal companion, and he gladly eats with you at each meal. There are times when you get a little stubborn about taking another bit, but if Ugly Ghost takes one, you will too. Sometimes, you just feel such love for Ugly Ghost that you have to stop mid-meal and hug and kiss the poor guy, after which, you promptly fling him to the floor. That’s okay. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t even care that you smear food all over him because we discovered that he cleans up very well in the gentle cycle of the washing machine. Lately, you have even helped Ugly Ghost sign “more” to get him more food. It seems he’s almost as hungry as you are. He really is the best of friends.

Ugly Ghost signs "more"

Your foods this month are very similar to last because you still have only two teeth! We have met several other babies your age and a little younger lately, and they all have so many more teeth than you! We’re fairly convinced that the first two hurt so badly coming in that you decided the others could hold off. Unfortunately, that means you’ve still got to gum all of your food, and that limits you sometimes. This month you did get to try tofu for the first time, and you couldn’t get enough of the stuff! You just kept stuffing piece after piece into your mouth. It was a little surprising! You still adore all of your veggies, but your favorite thing to eat at dinner time is what we call “froggy surprise.” It’s a green chunky mash of potatoes, sauteed leeks, peas, zuchinni, and sometimes basil and other veggies. You never seem to tire of the stuff. You also discovered this month that you really dig tomatoes. They’re just now in season, and they are so tasty and sweet. Sadly, though, we found that your skin was sensitive to them, but now we’re giving you yellow tomatoes (less acid), and all is right in tomatoland.

Your top food this month, however, is watermelon. I am fairly certain you could eat one that outweighs you. At first, we just gave you small bites, but we discovered that since you’re constantly teething, you really enjoy having a nice cold piece still on the rind, so we nibble down to about an inch above the rind and give you the rest. At our recent family reunion, you chomped down six pieces! You cleaned all the melon off of the rind and were hesitant to give it up until you had another piece in your hand to replace it. You subsequently drenched yourself and me, but it made you so very happy. Now we strip you down to your diaper, put you in your high chair, place towels under you, and let you go to town. You are always so very happy when you’ve got your watermelon.

watermelon smile

We did try yogurt with you a few weeks ago, and you LOVED it, but your poor little body still doesn’t like it. It looks like we’ll be taking a few more months to bring that back. We’re also taking our time to give you wheat since that was likely the other problem food in my milk when you were younger. That’s okay because you love your fruits and veggies and grains so much. We kind of like having a little vegan.

This month you really picked up the crawling, and although you’re still army crawling, you’ve gotten very fast at it! In fact, it is nearly impossible now to change your diaper without you making a great escape. Occasionally, you manage to escape with no clothes on at all.

"Just try to catch me!"

The poor cats often don’t know what’s coming when you sneak up on them and pull their tails. We have to remind you to be gentle, that they’re old, but that doesn’t seem to stop you. You love them so. You even tried some of their food recently, but it wasn’t up to your standards, so you cried and let me pull it out of your mouth. We hope you won’t try this again. You are also pulling yourself up and cruising along the furniture. Your favorite, though, is when we help you walk. You make cute little sounds, almost like you’re humming, as you take each step.

walking is serious business

With your increased mobility, you’re also getting into so many things. You’re always teaching us to put things away, and now we’ve got lots of safe spaces for you to enjoy. Your favorite places in both your room and the living room are the bookcases. In your room, you love to pull down all of your books and look through the ones with interesting pages. Since you share a room with my office, you also like to pull down a few books from my shelves.

Your favorites are the German books, and your very favorite is an anthology of German lyric poetry. I have tried reading it to you, but you find my accent deplorable, so you now just read your Goethe and Rilke on your own. In the living room, you enjoy the more spiritual books. Right now, you are reading Be Here Now as well as the Tao Te Ching.

a boy and his books

Perhaps the best thing about you right now is that you are learning to show your love. You hug us, and you hug your bear and your Ugly Ghost. You would hug the cats if they would just sit still long enough. Your embraces are the sweetest thing I know. We will always enjoy your hugs, so don’t hesitate to hand them out freely.

You also love to play, to be thrown into the air, to swing, to spin. And you absolutely love to laugh more than anything.

You are always trying to make us laugh by blowing on our bellies, mimicking funny sounds, making funny faces, and more. And we love to laugh with you, sweet boy. You bring so much joy to our lives, and each night when you go to bed, Mama and I spend time reflecting on what funny or amazing or heart warming things you did that day. The list is always long, and we always find ourselves loving you more and more. You are such a bright light in our lives, and we’re so lucky that you’re ours.



Filed under Baby Genius, birthdays