Little Boy Blue


So despite what 4-5 out of 9 stupid online quizzes had to say, Baker Baby #2 is apparently a little brother!

All the appropriate body parts accounted for, no visible abnormalities, healthy squirmy kiddo all the way around. Long legs that he likes to put over his head. :)


Both times, with Henry and now with “Gotham”, I’ve come away with a lot of different thoughts and feelings. One that struck me this time was that I wondered what our OB* thought of our reactions. Logically, I suppose he probably doesn’t care one way or another — I imagine people have a wide range of emotions in those moments. But I can’t help but wonder if we are reacting in a….. normal way? I have heard many stories of exaltation, tears, etc. — of big emotional reactions as the machine reveals whether the family in question will be welcoming a little boy or a little girl. And we don’t outwardly do that. I know we are feeling big emotions, but something about that environment and that moment brings out the quiet “huh!” in me. Like, “huh! that’s interesting”… I just find myself without anything to say to this guy who is basically a stranger as he prods my belly and tries to get me to decipher the between-the-legs shot for myself.

Oh, and so with Henry, it was so incredibly obvious exactly what flavor of child he was. The very first shot was right between the legs. And with “Gotham” the OB kept trying to get us say what the gender was, and we were both just like, “um, could you just say a pronoun now?” We couldn’t tell at all! So for the first day or two I think I was telling everyone “Well, according to the doctor, it’s a boy……” I never did really see it with my own eyes!

Anyway, so it turns out that “Gotham” is a boy. According to the doctor.

And I honestly thought that I had been telling people the truth when I said that I didn’t have a preference for a boy or a girl, so I was pretty surprised when I realized that that wasn’t actually the case. I had a little bit of a rough 24 hours there, and if you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of experiencing pregnancy hormones you can just imagine what that might have looked like. The worst of it was feeling like absolute scum for feeling any sort of sadness over being pregnant with a beautiful, healthy baby of any gender — after all of the months and years of fearing I’d never have my babies, while knowing all of these people who haven’t yet, or won’t ever, have theirs.

And then I got over it and now I’m unambiguously happy and excited.

I mean, I felt a bit of a pang when I walked into the Old Navy baby section and saw clothes in the most seriously adorable pink buffalo plaid, because COME ON, pink buffalo plaid? Is there anything more amazing? Why isn’t this in my size?


But it’s okay, because they had the exact same adorable little suit in a blue buffalo plaid, and it came home with me.

blue buffalo plaid suit

This is Gotham’s second little warm thing for when he arrives in January. The first came from his Grandmommy, who knows exactly what a little Gotham needs:

gotham suit

I am wishing that I could find the “big brother” correspondent to this cute pair of navy-and-orange jammies:

little brother

We don’t need a ton of clothes for Gotham, since he has a very fashionable big brother, but Henry was tiny in fairly warm months and Gotham will be tiny in January/February — which is bitterly cold around here — so I’ll enjoy collecting a few little warm fuzzies for him. I do the vast majority of my baby/toddler shopping at consignment shops but couldn’t resist hitting a few Labor Day sales this weekend!

Sidenote: Now that the gender is known, people are very interested in what name(s) we might be considering. I would like to direct those folks to some of our previous thoughts. :)

* I am seeing a fantastic certified nurse midwife, but she shares a practice with an obstetrician who is very talented with the ultrasound machine, so he runs that aspect of things.


Pink or Blue, Part Two


gender-revealAlmost three years ago, I wrote a blog post about the silly futility of trying to predict the gender of a not-yet-born baby without the benefits of modern technology. We were getting close to time to find out whether we were having a blue or a pink, and I made a vague sort of guess that he (because it was a he, we’d find out later) was a boy because I couldn’t come up with any boy names that I loved. By that logic, we’re definitely cooking up a girl this time — I’m ready to name a boy but can’t settle on any girl names! Still, that’s hardly any way to figure it out, so tomorrow — hopefully — we’ll find out the new-fangled way.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d go back to that 2012 blog post and try out some of the same gender predictors to see what they had to say this time around. Last time, I took 8 online gender prediction quizzes. Four said I was going to have a boy, and four said I was going to have a girl. How do we do this time around?

So as you can see… totally conclusive! Fifty/fifty, just like last time!

Obviously, I need a tiebreaker. Fortunately, the Me of three years ago planned for this occasion and wrote her very own gender prediction quiz based on highly unscientific nonsense (sample question: How many freckles are on your right hand?). I just took it and got the following result:

Your result: Girl!

You are going to have a child of the anatomically feminine persuasion.
Start stocking up on baseball bats, shotguns, and other devices to repel unwanted suitors.

There you have it, friends. Gotham is scientifically proven to be a girl. Or something.


I guess we’ll see what the fancy schmancy machine has to say about that in the near future.

Review: All the Light We Cannot See


Originally posted at Guys Lit Wire. Not the review this book deserves — I could write a paper about the use of symbolism in AtLWCS alone, and I’m sure plenty of English majors will — but I’m fighting off a head cold so it’s the review that it gets. Y’all should read this book.

Boise, ID doesn’t have too many major league celebrities, so it made some pretty big waves when our resident author Anthony Doerr hit the bestseller lists and then proceeded to win the Pulitzer for his second novel, All the Light We Cannot See.

Me, I’m a skeptic. The more hype something gets, the more reluctant I become to jump on the bandwagon. Not only that, but I’ve long betrayed my English major roots by doubting the readability and enjoyability of books that earn major awards. Consequently, I had no immediate plans to pick up the prize-winning WWII novel that everyone in town claimed to be reading until my book club named it as the choice of the month. Even then, I put it off until almost too late, and then began reading immediately to try to beat the clock.

Except… I couldn’t put it down.

All the Light We Cannot See takes place in France as it is occupied by the Nazis, and follows the lives of two children as they grow to young adulthood. The first is Marie-Laure, the French daughter of a locksmith, and the victim of severe cataracts that rob her of her eyesight by the time she is six years old. The second is Werner Pfennig, a German orphan with an uncanny ability to understand machines, which develops into a talent for radio repair that propels him into an exclusive military school for the Nazi elite. Marie-Laure flees Paris with her father, who hides a dangerous secret; Werner becomes a soldier for a cause he doesn’t embrace but lacks the wherewithal to resist. Her fascination with a clandestine radio transmitter, and his obsession with broadcast, tease at intersection.

Finally, inevitably, their paths cross in a French port town in 1944.

This is not a romance, except perhaps in a classical sense. Rather, it is a beautifully-crafted and engrossing window into two aspects of WWII life that most Americans don’t even know that they don’t know. Understanding how the war affected those who were neither Nazi oppressors nor Holocaust victims is priceless, but the truly great thing about this novel is how it lets the reader glimpse the humanity of some of WWII’s monsters. Doerr is no apologist, and in fact the majority of the Nazis he portrays are truly beastly — but Werner’s path toward becoming a Nazi soldier is a tragic and illuminating example of how nice, normal young men got swept up in an inexorable movement.

World War II continues to be a subject of great attraction to young American men, and a much-studied era of history in the schools. Anyone with an interest in this time or this war should take this skeptic’s word for it and run, not walk, to the nearest available copy of All the Light We Cannot See. And that goes for scholars of literature and composition, too — you’d almost think this guy won awards for his writing ability or something.

H’s Sunday, with Xylophone Goodness


This morning H went to church and spent the first 35 minutes being extremely interested in the vocalists and organ, then went down to the nursery for the sermon because he’s two and hasn’t yet gained the patience to listen to a sermon. They had a plush Elmo down there which made him pretty happy.

Oh, and he took my hymnal away and loudly said, “B! book!” His Auntie M took his picture after he speed-read the entire thing a few times.

Afterward we went over to his Auntie M and Uncle A’s house to see M’s latest art installation (so cool!). Uncle A, who is a music teacher, had been working on a school xylophone and wheeled it out for H… Hope this video link works.


When he wheeled it out, H looked at it and declared, “X! Xylophone!” Because he’s freaking adorable.


He loved playing it.


At one point I got one of the mallets away from him and picked out the tune to “Row Row Row Your Boat” upside down, which is a little harder than I thought it would be. He lost his poo — so excited. He’s an absolute sponge when it comes to music and learned [some of] the words to that song after I sang it twice in a parking lot. This is his version:

“Row row the boat
Down the stream
Nummy nummy nummy
It’s a dream!”

I recorded him on my phone tonight but can’t seem to get it onto my computer, so I’ll work on that. It’s pretty cute.

Later we went to Costco and found ourselves next to a sample-distributor who said that he was beautiful and looked like a movie star baby because of his eyelashes. It was pretty funny. Then she gave him a second sample (because he loved it — tomato basil lentil crisps) and I bought a bag of them.

Oh, and at Costco we were waiting for a parking spot, with our turn signal on. When we went to take it, another car blasted its horn at us and tried to push their way in, but we were already halfway there. The driver gesticulated angrily and glared at us when they walked past a moment later — because there was another parking spot literally two past that one. I’m like, Lady, I’m 4.5 months pregnant with a 2-year-old; I was waiting there for several minutes with my turn signal on and was almost CERTAINLY there first, and you and your husband are able-bodied. Get over it!

After that we had to go to the grocery store and he yanked his foot out the proper leg hole and got it stuck between the cart and the handle and yelled. It took me a few minutes to get him out, and later in his bath tonight I saw that he’d bruised his ankle. Poor buddy.

He dumped water all over himself and then passed out on the way home.


Tomorrow we are back to work full time and he goes to a new day care for Mondays. I hope he likes it better than the last place. I sure do love my little friend.

Another One Gone


When I was in high school, our student body experienced a string of suicides. Within a matter of months, several students attempted or completed suicide. This was before the age of the internet or cell phones, so word-of-mouth was the only avenue for students to learn about and mourn these deaths. Consequently, rumors sparked and took off. The administration was totally silent. At the end of the school day following each death, there would be a quick, fill-in-the-blank announcement that a student had died and that counseling was available. No information, not even the basics to quell the most absurd stories. I know now that schools are in tricky positions with situations like this, and it’s possible that they didn’t even have the authority to deviate from their one-sentence script. But at the time, it not only seemed counterproductive but cruel, heartless.

So I wrote an editorial for the school newspaper. In it, I criticized the school’s policy of silence and made the argument that by allowing the rumor mill to run wild, they were actually causing the suicides to be romanticized and possibly worsening the problem. It was carefully written, not offensive, not especially inflammatory — I wanted to inspire change, but I’ve never been very good at throwing caution to the wind. I submitted it to the editor of the school paper and heard that it was slated to run…

…and then the administration put on their censor hats, vetoed it, and had it pulled from the paper.

I guess I had a few different options at that point, but this is the one I went with: I submitted it to the state newspaper. Like, the real newspaper. And they didn’t reject it. The next week, my editorial ran in the paper complete with my headshot and byline, and was distributed throughout the entire state.

I don’t recollect there being any real effect at school, beyond a few people congratulating me on getting published. So I went on with the business of being a high school student, graduated, and went to Boise State.

And at Boise State, a communications professor named Peter Wollheim tracked me down after reading my editorial. He was working with the Idaho legislature to try to get funding for a suicide prevention hotline and asked me to come down to the Capitol to listen to the arguments and possibly testify. I didn’t end up testifying, but a local public radio reporter interviewed me afterward. Then Peter asked me if I’d like to work for the college newspaper. It seemed like a great opportunity, so I applied and got hired.

My experience with the college newspaper was mixed. I recognize now that I was being lightly hazed by the more veteran reporters and columnists, but I was ultimately given a great deal of freedom to choose how I wanted to contribute to the paper, and I ended up doing some work I was proud of and some that was merely being thrown together to meet the deadline. After about a year I concluded that journalism wasn’t for me and became an academic advisor instead. But in the meantime, I came to know and like Peter and his sad-eyed smile. Even though it wasn’t the right door for me, I appreciate that he had opened big doors for me in the university. And as time went on and our paths went separate ways, I still paid attention to his crusade to curb suicide, especially teen suicides, in our state.

Peter Wollheim was a nice man with a big, worthy mission.

And yesterday I learned that he had died. The beast he’d fought, ostentatiously on others’ behalf, finally turned the tables and devoured him.

I wasn’t close to Peter in the same way that I was close to Dave, Tom, or Mary Ellen, but he definitely falls into the category of “professors who had a big impact on my undergraduate career,” and now he also falls into the category of “people who died too soon.” It sucks. He was doing good work in the world, and now he’s gone.

Peter Wollheim read the newspaper one day, sixteen years ago, and saw that some idealistic kid was angry about the same thing that angered him. He remembered her name, and did who knows what kind of detective work to track her down so that he could give her a platform, give her opportunities. He didn’t know that kid, didn’t have any reason to help her, but he did, because he saw something in her that made him think that she might make a difference in a world that needed differences made.

I didn’t end up using his tools. I may be a writer but I’m no journalist; I may be passionate, but I’m no lobbyist.

Instead I became a teacher. I’d like to believe that teachers, if they can keep their hearts on their sleeves and their eyes and ears open, can make a difference to young people who are struggling with depression… and certainly to those left behind when the worst happens.

I’m grateful to Peter for hunting me down and giving me a shot. I’m grateful to him for his years of fighting to make Idaho a better place for those fighting suicide and depression. And I’m very, very sorry that he is gone.

Review: Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia


Former underground fighter Owen Z. Pitt thought he had turned his life around, thought he’d finally found a way to have a perfectly boring, respectable life. After all, what’s more boring and respectable than being an accountant, right? But when his boss turns out to be an out-of-control werewolf, those less-respectable skills at buttkicking allow Owen to survive a vicious attack. Of course, the whole werewolf thing comes as a bit of a shock, but it all begins to come into focus when Owen is recruited by a mercenary bounty-hunting organization called Monster Hunter International, devoted to hunting and exterminating paranormal threats to the planet, and making big bucks in the process.

Monster Hunter International (and the other books in the series) is the paperback equivalent of a “movie for guys who like movies”: explosions, big guns, tough wisecracking men and women, helicopters, fight scenes, and surface-level relationships that give the characters some depth without distracting from the explosions, guns, and fight scenes. In short, it’s a total testosterone-fest, but one without sex scenes or gratuitous profanity, making it potentially appropriate for younger readers.

The bad guys are werewolves, vampires, trolls, zombies, wights, fey, and Lovecraftian “Old Ones” who weave evil just beyond human sight. The good guys are primarily survivors of attacks by these creatures, whose physical and mental tenacity deemed them worthy of Special Forces-style training and, if they don’t wash out, lucrative careers (and often short lives) in the monster-killing industry. The other bad guys, who are also good guys, are a MIB-esque secret governmental agency committed to covering up the existence of monsters at any cost. And then there’s a super-duper secret group called Special Task Force Unicorn (STFU — yes, really)…..

MHI stays true to the time-honored tradition of making its protagonist “the chosen one,” but avoids getting bogged down in weighty musings about fate and responsibility to humankind and whatnot. Nope; this series is pure science fiction/horror fun. It’s Vin Diesel with a rocket launcher against a swarm of zombies with heavy metal playing in the background: loud, awesome, violent entertainment.

The level of violence, scary situations, and occasional technical detail about weaponry probably means this book is a better fit for older teens and adults, but I can absolutely think of many middle school aged boys who would love every page of it.


Sidenote for those who pay attention to such things: The author, Larry Correia, has been embroiled in the recent “Sad Puppies” brouhaha surrounding the 2015 Hugo Awards, and his politics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there’s little sign of anything especially controversial in this series. The characters, like their author, are major gun nuts (his term) and skew libertarian, but there’s no discernible sense of an agenda or any particular prejudice.

Cross-posted on the Guys Lit Wire website.

Baker Addition FAQ


Wait… you’re pregnant?

So they tell me. I hope they’re right; I’d hate to think my current physique is entirely the result of ill-advised quantities of pizza. It’s possible, though.

When are you due?

According to Arbitrary Birth Calendar, we’re looking at January 15. Did you know that 40 weeks is merely the average length of gestation, not the “correct” length? Apparently a lot of OBs don’t know that, hence a ton of unnecessary inductions. Big Brother was a good eleven days past his ETA so I’m figuring “mid to late January” is a pretty good answer. [Read a bit about the 40-week myth here or many other places.]

How have you been feeling?

The first trimester was a little rough (in comparison to not-pregnant me, not in comparison to people who get well and truly miserably ill during pregnancy). I was exhausted and nauseated pretty much all day, although I could manage it fairly well with snacking. I actually had worse evening sickness than morning sickness. As with Henry, I didn’t actually vomit until the start of my second trimester. At almost exactly the second trimester mark, the nausea shut most of the way off and was replaced with my old maternity friend, Crushing Heartburn and Indigestion. My midwife suggested chewable papaya tablets and I was shocked to find that they actually work better than Tums. I feel stronger and healthier now, although when the exhaustion hits it really hits, and the stomach upset is often worse, although for shorter periods of time. And since I started the “waking up all night to use the bathroom” routine waaaay earlier this time around, there’s a little bit of sleep loss in there too — although after having a newborn, I’ll never complain about four hours of sleep at a stretch again!

Wait… in that answer, did you say “midwife”?

I did! The OB who I saw with Henry left the practice, and his erstwhile partner replaced him with an awesome Certified Nurse Midwife. So not only do I have the benefit of a care provider who better fits what I want in my pregnancy and delivery, but she’s got an in-house OB right there in case of complications. Best of both worlds! [If you watch this video, you can “meet” my midwife at about the 2 minute mark.]

So other than papaya tablets, any other weird cravings or aversions?

Let’s be clear: I don’t exactly like the papaya tablets. But they taste better than Tums.

The main thing I’ve been experiencing, food-wise, is trouble finding anything that tastes very good. As with Henry, I’m gravitating toward really flavorful (read “spicy”) food. Most recently, Sonic’s Cheddar Peppers have been a pretty reliable source of calories. (So good for my heartburn, too. Haha.)

I completely lost my taste for coffee, which is a tragedy, and I can’t stomach soda unless it’s a fountain drink on ice. Seltzer/soda water with lime (or other) juice has been an absolute lifesaver. I’ve enjoyed Dasani Sparkling, Schweppe’s flavored seltzers, and Canada Dry flavored seltzer, but the very best is plain soda water from a fountain drink dispenser with the juice of about five lime slices squeezed in.

What I really want to eat is Jimmy John’s. Boooo, listeria. That, and a really good margarita. Oh well. Worth it.

You called Henry “Kermie” until his name was official; what’s this one’s nickname?



So do you know it’s a boy?

As of right now, all we really know is that he or she might be an alien.

Yes, that's actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

Yes, that’s actually him/her. Bad enough before I rotated it and made it green, huh, Ryan? :)

How far apart will Henry and Gotham be?

Rarely more than fifty feet, I’d guess… oh, you mean age-wise? My bad. Henry will be a little more than three months shy of being 3 years old when Gotham makes his/her grand entrance.

Are you hoping for a girl this time?

Gotham would make an excellent name for a little girl, don’t you think?

Do you have any real names picked out yet?

I’m still pulling for a Xerxes or a Hurricane.

What’s the best thing about being pregnant?

Getting to wear stretchy pants and snugger shirts that show off my belly without feeling like I seriously need to go on a diet or something. I love the way I look when I am pregnant!

What’s the worst thing about being pregnant?

Unexpected sneezes. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky.

How is the second pregnancy different than the first?

Lord have mercy on all pregnant women who have toddlers. I’ve been at home with Henry this summer while Ryan teaches summer school, and Henry is a very willful and high-energy kid, and that can be tough to wrangle when you’re exhausted, overheated, and nauseated. Some days I count it as a triumph if I actually put in my contacts, much less getting dressed!

The flip side of that is, I don’t have as much time, etc., to dwell on this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Henry, there wasn’t a single second of the day that I wasn’t on some level thinking about the baby-to-be. I would talk to him (usually in my head, because gestating babies are telepathic, doncha know) all day. This time, every so often I remember that there’s a baby in there! Which means I had to have forgotten! I’m unendingly conscious of my own bodily changes and discomforts, but their root cause gets pushed to the background by all the Henryness. (Should that be Henriness? Possibly…)

Are you excited?

Sooooo excited.

Is Henry excited?

Henry is excited by Sesame Street characters, Thomas the Tank Engine, unsupervised cell phones, and peanut butter treats. He is, as far as I can grok, utterly oblivious to future threats arrivals.

What questions — serious or silly — didn’t get addressed? Ask them and I’ll add them!