Thoughts on Halloween

Amongst my friends, there is a handful of people who do not like Halloween. That’s fine; I don’t like Valentine’s Day. I won’t claim that I understand their aversion, though; I’m afraid that, despite my best efforts not to judge, the word “humbug!” leaps frequently to mind! Then again, I suppose I’m frightfully biased. Halloween is my second favorite holiday, behind Christmas, and it’s hard for me to imagine not finding pleasure in such a festive holiday.

While there are parts of the contemporary Halloween scene that I don’t care for — overly grotesque decorations (who needs crawly demon babies? blech) and ridiculously slutty costumes come to mind — I really enjoy the heck out of October 31, and always have. I love the way that everyone re-embraces their childhood, whether by celebrating or by helping their children celebrate. I love the spiderwebs and witch cauldrons, the fake headstones and plastic fangs. (My go-to favorite costume accessory is a set of petite werewolf fangs.) I love pumpkins, although I don’t care for their guts, and candy corn, and (the idea of) caramel apples. I love that buzzy feeling just on the hilarious side of scared that you get hanging out with friends at a haunted house or dark corn maze.

Most of all, I love taking a day out of the year to pretend to be someone else, or a different version of oneself. I’m not necessarily talking about the “Hey look, I’m a trampy cowgirl/nurse/alien!” costumes (although I suppose it’s the same concept, for that sort of girl) or the joke costumes (“Hey look, I’m a banana/iPhone/enormous phallus!”). Instead, it’s that assumption of a different persona: the brooding vampire, the elegant princess, the valiant superhero, the jovial clown. My favorite thing about Halloween is that it gives us permission to play make-believe for a few hours, to explore what it would be like if we had the life of one of the people or creatures from our books, movies, and imaginations.

witchlegToday I’m a witch, complete with striped stockings (that are driving me crazy), petite pointed hat, shoes that pinch, and — because it’s the end of 4th hour — a witchy look on my face. Being a witch is a pleasant combination of entertainingly questionable fashion, implied power/danger, and a license to be just a little bit nasty. Even though my freshmen very pointedly ignored the fact that their English teacher was dressed like a witch, it is a great relief to my blood pressure to imagine myself turning a few of them into toads for a few minutes. (I wouldn’t leave them that way. I’m not that kind of witch.)

Once upon a time, my head lived in a different world than the rest of my body. People who knew me in middle school might not easily reconcile the relatively mundane adult Kate with the girl who so thoroughly embraced the fantastic. I packed that person away when I went to college, put her in a box with the My Little Ponys and size 7 jeans, and stuffed her in the back of a closet.

It’s not that she doesn’t exist anymore — I have always been, and will always be, a dreamer. (That’s, as far as I can tell, the lot in life for a writer and voracious reader.) I am, as always, a person whose inner life is really a great number of inner lives — as Whitman said, I contain multitudes. I am a suburban schoolteacher with a boring wardrobe who wears comfortable shoes and drives a hatchback. But I am other things, too. Some people play WoW or watch soap operas or read celebrity fashion magazines. If my fantasies involve more swords and fewer high heels — well, what’s wrong with that?

But I don’t act on it anymore. I know there are opportunities for adults to “play make-believe” but that hasn’t really been something that has fit into my life so far, and for the most part, I’m completely okay with that. Yes, I look at the pictures Jessica posts of her amazing outfits that she wears to Los Angeles goth clubs and masquerade balls, or the photos of Jen’s awesome portrayals of characters from shows, books, and games that she makes for cosplay conventions and parties, and my “that would be fun” radar pings. I have a full life, though, and one that doesn’t really leave a lot of time for clubs and conventions. I’m sure I could make the time, but Little Miss Introvert over here is really just as happy on the couch in sweatpants.

Halloween is a time when I can pull that dusty box out of the back of the closet and let my twelve-year-old self out to play again. That’s why I dress up on Halloween, and on the school spirit days. It’s a special occasion, a day when I can say, “To heck with normalcy! Today, I am going to be silly. Today, I am going to indulge a bit of fantasy. Today, I am going to be a different me.”

And in response to those who might argue that students shouldn’t dress up at school for Halloween (and I’m specifically thinking of older kids here), I have to ask: should we cancel all spirit days as well? What’s the difference, except that one celebrates the athletic aristocracy and the other feels like something that belongs to the “freaks and geeks” too? I know there are religious arguments against Halloween, and hey, if your religion teaches you that dressing up on October 31 is a form of devil worship, well, you’re welcome to it. Personally, I think saying that Halloween is a religious (or anti-religious) holiday is about as silly as saying the same about Valentine’s Day — sure, it was once, but now it’s entirely secular and “just for fun.”

I’m 32 years old and about to be a mama. I don’t need the full Halloween experience right now — I’ve got a few years before I get to go trick-or-treating again. You can keep your candy; you can keep your scary movies… but as long as it’s made out of stretchy fabric, don’t you dare take away my costume. 🙂


This was a busy weekend in which, frankly, nothing went according to plan.

I knew that I was double-booked, at best, for much of the weekend. There were Meridian Symphony Orchestra concerts Friday and Saturday; I didn’t have to attend, but I really needed to, because it’s my orchestra and I already felt badly about not being there as a performer. (I had to miss the first several rehearsals because of the bleeding issue.)

I knew that Saturday wasn’t going to work, because of the DIII Marching Band Festival. So I figured, Friday will be the concert, Saturday will be DIII. I hated to miss the CHS football game on Friday, but what with general ookiness from pregnancy and increased ookiness from germs, I had already doubted that I’d be able to manage that.

Then I realized that my book club was meeting on Friday. I really love my book club “meetings” — fun people, fun conversations, good food, good books, and (when not pregnant) good wine. This time in particular, I had really been looking forward to it; we were having a costumed Halloween quasi-party and discussing a book, A Discovery of Witches, that I’d liked. And I knew that I might be one of the only ones who enjoyed it (seems like this group skews nonfiction/literary fiction, rather than genre fiction) so I felt like it was especially important that I be there as a “dissenting opinion.”

So, I was disappointed that I was going to have to miss the concert… but it was what it was.

And then I figured out that book club was on Saturday, not Friday. CRAP. Because, honestly, DIII could not be missed. 😦

So, on Friday I went to the concert. (It was really good. Too long, given the extremely uncomfortable seats. But really good.) And on Saturday I went to DIII. (Which was also really good; my school’s band won every award in their division, and there were a lot of entertaining shows.) And I didn’t go to the football game or book club, and I didn’t even watch the BSU game.

I did go to the Boise Public Library fall book sale, twice, and got some excellent books. I’m particularly pleased to have picked up four like-new copies of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a book club title I wanted to add to my contemporary literature lit circle options, for $6 total. I also found two sequels to The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, which was not a great book but was entertaining enough to make me think the sequels might be worthwhile winter break reading.

And today, I went to Still Water Hollow (where my sister will be getting married in a couple of months) to pet miniature horses and donkeys, drink hot cider, eat popcorn and soup, and admire all of the cute little kids in their cute little Halloween costumes. Which was, actually, according to plan.

Tomorrow is Monday and I feel exhausted. I think I need another weekend. Why, oh why, have I given myself a course schedule that utterly precludes me taking a sick day? 😛

Then and Now

I was not the little girl who planned out all of the details of her wedding before she turned 12.

I planned everything else, though. One of my favorite pastimes was to go through catalogs and magazines, clipping things (furniture, jewelry, muscle cars, horses) that I wanted to have in my adult life, and pasting them into spiral notebooks. I’d devote pages, not only to nurseries and baby toys, but to carefully curated photographs of infant models that looked like they could, hypothetically, be the product of my loins. The only thing I conspicuously left out was a man.

The Best Baby Name Book in the whole wide world by Bruce LanskyFrom a very early age, I was obsessed with names. My sister was born when I was five and a half, and I clearly remember gradually taking possession of my parents’ dogeared blue baby name book until it took up full-time residency in my room. Man, I love that book. I think I still have the original copy, now probably held together by no more than sheer willpower, but I also have at least a few copies of the updated version that I’ve picked up at library sales. One of them is in my classroom library, where I used it with my creative writing class and, more recently, with my freshmen when they wanted to know whether their own names would smell as sweet after they found out what they meant. The 2004 edition has 30,001 names to the 1984 edition’s 13,001, but I personally prefer the original; most of those 17,000 new names are “American inventions” — names like Shaquanda and Deshawn that don’t have meanings (my favorite part) and aren’t really applicable to me.

Anyway, as a child obsessed with names, I naturally christened my baby dolls (and the hypothetical children in my notebooks) with great care. My girl babies were Olivia, Julie, and Jill (there may have been an Opal in there at some point as well) and my boy babies were James, Alexander, Piers, and Philip. I am not ashamed to admit that that last name was a favorite simply because it meant, according to my blue book, “lover of horses.”

Looking back through those notebooks, it’s clear that taste changes as you grow up. I had invented a lifestyle straight out of the opulent late 1980s/early 1990s, replete in ornate furniture, gaudy animal-themed jewelry, and impossible housepets (think “safari”). Everything was dark wood, tapestry, gold, jewel-toned, big, ruffled, brassy. I must have been picking the most expensive, over-the-top items I could find out of that J.C. Penny’s Christmas catalog. This was not the future lifestyle of a high school teacher, but then again, I had no intention of being a teacher at that point in my life. I was going to be President, perhaps, or a best-selling author, or a world-famous paleontologist/stormchaser. Or Queen; perhaps the reason no man ever made an appearance in my notebooks was that I was saving myself for Prince William, who would eventually marry an entirely different Katherine Elizabeth. The bastard. (I do know that a significant part of my early aesthetic was influenced by the 1981 royal wedding; Grammy had a commemorative picture book that played a big role in my young imagination.)

My taste in names has evolved as well. Julie, Opal, and Philip no longer hold any appeal to me as baby names, and the connotations I once associated with Olivia and Jill have been overwritten by real-life acquaintances. I still like James (and Jim) but have come to the conclusion that I’d really prefer not to use any family names. Piers — a name I liked because I liked the author Piers Anthony — has picked up too much pretention and foreign-ness, a la Piers Morgan, for my taste. And while Alexander is a perpetual favorite, the “er” ending goes poorly with our last name, and I’ve just known too many Alexes at this point to really want to use it for a child.

Today, my “possible baby name” list shows that I tend to prefer traditional names, often with a literary connection. I veer more traditional for boys than I do for girls. There are many more girl names that I like than there are boy names, and I’ve discovered that while I have some strong prejudices in the masculine moniker department (I don’t like one-syllable names with hard consonant endings, and I don’t like names that sound too “cute” for a grown man) there’s no real pattern to what I like or don’t like for girls. For girls in particular, I like names that have a dignified long form and a cute short form (preferably ending in an -y sound); I’m a big fan of shortening and playing with names, so it’s important to me that a name be not only truncate-able but that the short form is pleasant to me as well. (This has caused problems with a former favorite, Sydney, because I really don’t like Syd/Sid.) With boys, that’s still important but not quite as much so — and no, I can’t tell you why. While none of my favorite names are really what you’d call exotic (unless you count Anjuli, which I’ve always loved but wouldn’t seriously use, at least not as a first name), the girl names are more so; I think a (vaguely chauvinistic?) part of me feels like men need nice, solid, conservative names while women’s can be more adventuresome.

Now, when I think about names, it’s less important to me whether they mean “lover of horses” and more important that it’s a name that will serve them well throughout their lives. I think about what that name will say about my adult child, how it will look on a business card, but I also think about what it will sound like shouted in mocking tones in the seventh grade hallway. I love traditional Irish names with their enigmatic spelling, but think twice about how many times a child would have to explain the spelling and pronunciation of Siobhán or Diarmuid.

Most of all, though, because parenthood is nothing if not a collision of selflessness and vanity, it has to be a name I like. 🙂

So what about you? Have your favorite names changed since you were younger? What do or did you consider when naming progeny? Were you as geeky/obsessed as I am (and if so, is The Baby Name Wizard your favorite website, too)? What do you like or dislike in a name?

(BTW — if you’ve had problems posting comments on this site, try not typing in an email address. I’m troubleshooting the problem and think that might be a band-aid.)

In a Fog

This morning, I woke up with what just has to be a head cold. My nose is stuffy and drippy (with allergies, it’s just stuffy), my eyes are so dry I can’t stand it, I’ve got a little bit of a dry cough, and my brain is fogging over.

And of course… I can’t take cold medicine.

Then, because I am doubly lucky, a thick fog settled down over the valley this morning just in time for my commute. I drive a long way down unlit, two-lane country roads to get to work. On my route this morning, I had about a mile of clear air. The rest was so foggy that visibility was, at best, about thirty feet. Intersections were completely invisible until I reached them — even when there were cars, with their headlights on, at the cross street.

When I moved to Idaho 18 years ago, I was dreadfully amused by the yellow “stop ahead” signs that peppered the area’s back roads. “How dumb do you have to be,” I asked, “to need a sign to tell you that there’s going to  be a stop sign?” It seemed as though every four-way stop in the Treasure Valley — or at least, where we lived in “southwest Boise” — had a double set of signs.

Well, I’ll tell you what: I will never mock those signs again. If it hadn’t been for those bright yellow signs this morning, I would have had no idea that I was coming up on a stop sign until it was far too late to stop. The red signs were completely invisible in the fog; my headlights couldn’t cut through the murk to illuminate them enough to be seen. And judging from the touchy way that my fellow commuters were braking, slowing, and creeping up to intersections, I wasn’t alone in that.

I loathe driving in the fog, especially when it’s dark out. I find myself hunching down as if the visibility were somehow better through the bottom half of my windshield, which of course makes my neck and shoulders incredibly tense. I’m a good driver in the nasty weather we run into in the West, and having grown up in the Ada County back country, I’m very familiar with the roads and the way they get when it is snowy, icy, or foggy. Still — I hate it. Even though I know this route so well that I could travel it in my sleep, I can’t convince some animal part of me that there isn’t ahead of me, just past the point of visibility, a cliff that I’m about to plummet off of. My entire physical self is utterly certain that at any moment I will drive off into the abyss.

It’s funny, too, to discover how much I rely upon visual markers to determine how far I’ve traveled. All of my landmarks disappeared: no signs advertising this small business farm or that local corn maze; no house that always puts its garbage cans too close to the road; no church with orange-tinted porch lights. I always know when I’m almost to school because I see the glow from the parking lot and then the bright lights of the gas station at my last intersection’s roundabout. This morning, I didn’t even see the roundabout until I was in it — despite the street lights.

Blech. These are the days when I need the Jetsons’ vacuum tube thingy.

Update: Fourteen Weeks

Today I’m at fourteen weeks, which means that Kermie is 35% loaded. 🙂

I feel quite a bit less exhausted, thank goodness, although I still need more sleep than I’m used to, and have very little stamina for physical activity. I’m finding that I get winded going up stairs and wonder if that’s because of blood re-allocation or because I was a lazy butt for the past couple of months. When I try to do more extended physical labor, like house cleaning, I find that I can only go for a short stretch of time before I need to sit down for a while to recover. My “progesterone poisoning” — which is a much better term than “morning sickness”; thanks, Vicki Iovine — has also improved but not entirely gone away. I’ll feel just fine for most of the day, but will abruptly find that I feel extremely NOT fine. When the grossness hits, it’s worse than it used to be and has to be immediately addressed. Anatomically, I’m noticing some changes in my shape — not what anyone would identify as a bump yet, but my pre-existing belly fat has a different profile to it, so to speak. My skin is dry and I’m still having bad itching on my legs, as evidenced now by the bruises and little cuts I’ve inadvertently inflicted upon my thighs and shins. And I know I’ve been saying this one for a while, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got a bit of a cold. My nose is driving me crazy.

I have my next doctor’s appointment (just a quick check-up) on November 15. Then we have the 20-week full anatomical ultrasound (AKA the “pink or blue” appointment) on December 6. Seems like good timing to me. The receptionist liked it, too.

Last Saturday we made the pregnancy “Facebook official,” which means that some of my students now know. I was expecting that to escalate pretty quickly to ALL of my students knowing, but was surprised at how discrete and respectful my kids in-the-know have been. Since I’d more or less planned on letting the grapevine spread the news, I’m now back to the drawing board on how to let my students know. I would much prefer it to be organic, rather than making a big announcement, but at the same time, I’d like them to know before Christmas (and I probably won’t be obviously showing until after that time). I think I’m going to make up a “suggestion box” for baby names — something I’ve always thought would be fun — and put it out, and see if that clues them in. (I think it’s funny that R’s kids knew before mine did — through no fault of his own! I hope he puts out a suggestion box, too; I think name ideas from 11-year-olds would be delightful.)

I really need to get on top of some things (specifically: dentist appointment, maternity ward tours, enroll in classes).

In conclusion: a baby tapir from the Denver Zoo.

baby tapir born at the Denver Zoo

Teaching Cynicism

I went home from work the other day chewing on something that had been bothering me. When Ryan got home, I decided to run it past him.

I'm not cynical. I've just been taking notes.“When you were teaching senior government,” I asked, “were the kids really cynical about everything? When I overhear my kids talking about politics, it seems like they’ve all written off the entire system.”

Ryan said that he’d experienced something similar. “That’s one reason why I don’t like teaching the [required] media bias unit. We spend an entire unit teaching the kids not to trust anything that they hear or read, and they’re already being told by everyone around them that everything is corrupt and bad. They believe that the political system is rigged, that their vote doesn’t count, that the bipartisan system is evil. And then we wonder why young people don’t vote.”

I found myself looking into a dark mirror. As an English teacher, I pride myself on teaching critical thinking and diverse perspectives. I think that the key purpose behind what I do is to teach students to be able to communicate effectively with their worlds AND to understand what their worlds are communicating to them, and that involves being able to cut through the rhetoric and know what to trust. I’ve always approached this from the notion that teenagers are naive, vulnerable to manipulation — that they tend to blindly trust the media or their favorite celebrity or their families/friends, and that they need to have their eyes opened so that they can think and decide for themselves.

And so I — along with my colleagues — teach really great rhetoric units where we parse advertisements and articles, dragging pathos into harsh lights for interrogation, tracking how ethos and logos push our decision-making process in different ways. We have long, sometimes heated discussions about the way the world really works and how to “make it” in a system that often seems weighted against us. We teach research units where we drive home the point that you can’t trust everything you read online — that there are very legitimate-looking websites out there run by bigots, conspiracy theorists, and satirists — and most shockingly, that the “news” program playing every evening at home may not be unbiased news at all.

These, I think, are good things for young people to know. If I can convince even a handful of students that commentators like O’Reilly and Olbermann aren’t reliable arbiters of information, then that’s a job well done. If my kids leave my class and never fall victim to believing an Onion article is true, then that is a measure of success that I’ll happily accept.

Still… at what point do we show students the champions of honest journalism? At what point do we teach trust instead of skepticism?

I began thinking about the literature that we traditionally teach in our high schools. (I say “traditionally” because my school is piloting a new curriculum that shelves much of the traditional canon — but I thought of the texts that are read in our neighboring districts as well.) What are we reading, and what do those texts teach?

The Great Gatsby teaches us that people are shallow and awful, that love is a lie of convenience and false memory, that the American Dream is at best a flickering illusion and at worst a nightmare. The Scarlet Letter casts doubt on the trustworthiness of religion and society. Ender’s Game depicts a world where adults manipulate kids, where violence and shows of strength are the answer to many problems, where genocide is acceptable when committed against those who are very different than us. To Kill a Mockingbird shows that justice does not always prevail. Animal Farm teaches us that some animals are more equal than others; 1984 paints a picture of a deeply corrupt system to which students inevitably draw parallels to their own views of government. Lord of the Flies asserts that all of us are inherently evil under the surface. Hamlet teaches us to trust no one; Romeo and Juliet teaches that love and family can be destructive forces. Where is the redemption and hope in Of Mice and Men? Where is it in Frankenstein? Heck, even in one of my new classes, we read Little Brother with its central idea that young people should trust no one over the age of 30.

Do any of our assigned texts have an inarguably positive message? Perhaps The Odyssey, in which goodness and loyalty prevail — and to find it, we go back to a text written thirteen centuries ago.

Even as I write this, I’m arguing with myself. These pieces of literature are great classics because they are dark, because they are conflicted without any clear final-chapter sunlit resolution. And what I’ve written is admittedly the bleaker take on all of those texts; there are certainly sunnier messages to be taken from (many of) them (I maintain that there’s nothing positive to be taken from Ethan Frome).

But do we? Do we focus on the hopeful, the uplifting? Or do we underline the darkness, reinforcing what is apparently a pre-existing state of cynicism in our students?

On Facebook, a student of mine wishes that he was old enough to vote against “these clowns” as he posts a cartoon labeling Romney, Obama, Ryan, and Biden as hypocrites. Another, who is impressively well-informed and wants to major in political science, shares great articles and provides his own commentary — in which he sees no glimmer of hope from either candidate and expresses his belief that no one should vote for either major party ticket. My colleague assigns students to draw satirical cartoons and collects posters depicting the candidates as cash-hungry cronies conspiring against the American people.

I don’t know what to think.

There’s definitely a part of me that is shaking her head, wondering when I turned into such a Pollyanna — and that part of me believes and will continue to believe that it is imperative that our children don’t reach adulthood ignorant of the world and those who would take advantage of them. It is so important that they don’t go out into the world without their eyes opened. I know too many adults who blindly believe anything they hear so long as it comes from someone with the right little letter next to their name on the ballot, too many adults who wouldn’t know satire if it bit them, too many adults who believe that [fill-in-the-blank biased “news” show or column] is trustworthy.

And then there is another part of me that weeps to think that they may go through young adulthood — and perhaps their entire lives — blind to the possibility of good… that they may never find inspiration and hope in a political candidate… that they may never trust the systems built by the people, for the people. I picture them as old men and women shaking gnarled fists at “the machine,” having never taken the time to realize that like any machine, it is only as good or bad as those operating it. Or worse, I picture them NOT shaking their fists, because they grew so cynical that they stopped paying attention at all.

Maybe this is just me getting old and falling into the recurring trap of worrying that today’s kids can’t live up to past generations. Maybe this is just me working my way through year five as a secondary educator and worrying about the efficacy and value of my practice. Maybe it’s just election season burnout.

But it bugs me.

Define "cynical"

The 900th Post

This is my 900th post on DYHJ, and I am dedicating it to my kitty d’Artagnan, who earlier this week decided that a small dark spot on our bathtub was obviously a bug that needed to be stalked and chased.

d'Artagnan stalks the spot

He waited patiently for it to move so that he could pounce on it, finally growing frustrated when it refused to play along. I think he thought I should do something about it.

"Fix it, Mom!"

d’Artagnan is an awfully good kitty. He’s quite petite and likes to snuggle up in the place under your right arm, or — if it’s cold — on your upper chest tucked under your chin. He plays fetch with hairbands (preferring hot pink ones if he can find them) and likes to burrow under the blankets and hide in a “cave” under our knees. He follows Paisley into the kitchen each morning and sits for a treat; the only ones he likes are Pit’r Pats, which come in these great little miniature Altoid tins. He’s a notorious scaredy cat, freaking out at loud noises (and not very loud noises… and people walking in his general direction) and I’m sure a person could visit our house for a week and never even know that we had a cat, much less the World’s Most Snuggly Cat Ever. He answers to Little Bit and Meep Meep, is soft like a bunny, and fusses at me when I get home until I go upstairs and give him some sort of unspoken permission to eat his dinner while I change out of my work clothes.

We adopted him about a year after we got married, after we moved out of a no-pet rental. d’Artagnan was a Freecycle kitty that I found weeks before we actually adopted him. His owner didn’t respond to my email, and I regretfully let him go — I’d been so excited to find a little orange kitten that needed a home. Then weeks later, she contacted me and asked if I were still interested. Turned out she’d had to convince her granddaughter to give him up — don’t worry, they had about a million cats and kittens — but now “Tiger” was available. We took him home and he cried the entire way (scared of the car!) and he’s been our baby boy ever since.

Baby d'Art with CJ

Regardless of Politics

I don’t care what your personal politics are — it doesn’t get much sexier/cuter/geekier than this:

Barack Obama on The Daily Show

Okay, so maybe if you’re really not a fan of the President, you don’t think he’s cute. But even if I didn’t like his politics, I am a sucker for intelligent men with senses of humor. And putting Barack Obama on the same screen as John Stewart? Too much fun. Almost as sexy as Tim Gunn on the same screen as John Stewart.

Coming in at second place for the week in the “sexy/cute/geeky” category:

Wil Wheaton on Big Bang Theory

Okay — I take that back. Sheldon is not sexy. But if he were real and I knew him, we’d totally be friends. Ditto Wheaton. So this is still a fun picture.

Really Big News!!

This is a big year in the Baker household. Not only did Ryan become a full-time social studies teacher, but in about six months he will be becoming something else altogether.

Nice pocket square there, buddy

Yep, that’s right… in late April, Paisley is expecting what she thinks may be another puppy to join the household.

Coming Soon


Admittedly, this has been a little bit of an “open secret,” but this week we are in our second trimester and had a great doctor’s appointment, so we decided we were ready to really go public. We are so excited, and feeling so blessed. This has been a long journey; we waited longer than we wanted to because of employment and insurance, and then didn’t have a lot of success at first. We tried some infertility treatments and, of course, had a heartbreaking miscarriage last December.  Now that we are having our second chance, it — well, it’s just amazing. Immeasurable amounts of joy and worry and anticipation.

We are due April 25, which is just about the most perfect timing you can ask for as a teacher in terms of figuring out maternity leave.

I’ve been blogging about the early pregnancy under a password for about a month, and have now removed the password protection so that interested parties can catch up on the back story. Some of the more interesting (if you’re interested in that sort of thing) posts include:

First announcement

Early ultrasound (we had an early scare and so actually had two very early ultrasounds — second pics are here)

A silly post about funny baby names

Feeling gross (no graphic details)

Complaining about the blood test appointment (not for needlephobes)

Freaking out in the middle of the night 🙂

The extremely cool 12-week appointment and ultrasound

Baby Baker gets a special present

There are several other posts as well; I just thought these were the “highlights.”

We’ve got a lot to do, a lot to figure out, a lot to plan, between now and April. We hope to find out whether it’s a pink hat baby or a blue hat baby in December. I’ve already talked to HR about maternity leave, but we haven’t toured delivery room/center options yet. (I think I know which way we’re leaning, but I want to take some tours and have some conversations first.) It’s apparently about time to book some classes, so I need to look into that. We also have quite a bit of work around the house to do in preparation for setting up a nursery. But it’s all such good stuff…

A huge thank you and long-distance hug to everyone who has been sending positive vibes/thoughts, prayers, and even care packages from Whole Foods 🙂 to us as we traveled this road. I know I already said it, but we are monumentally blessed.

If You’re My Facebook Friend…

Part of me worries a little bit about oversharing, but the majority of me is just so overwhelmed with excitement and happiness about this development in our lives that I can’t help but write about it. It’s not even that I am writing to other people; I’m just writing. Still, I don’t want to be “that guy.”

What I’ve decided to do is that I’m going to continue writing anything I want to write here on my website, because heck, it’s my little corner of the internet and if I want to be a gushy mama-to-be on DYHJ then I think that’s just fine. 🙂 If you like reading my blog regardless of topic, I hope that you subscribe (I’m a big fan of using Google Reader, but you can also subscribe via WordPress if you’re a WP user, or you can use something like Feedburner to have posts emailed to you) and I really hope you comment from time to time. You know how it felt to get a sticker on your test when you were in second grade? That’s what getting a comment feels like to a blogger. 🙂

On Facebook, I have been maintaining a friend list for people who knew about our journey to parenthood — a very small list. On that list, I’ve been posting links to this blog to let people know when I’ve published a baby-related post. If you’d like to be a part of that list, I’m opening it up to anyone who is interested — just leave me a comment on my FB or on this post, and I’ll add you to the list. Basically all that means is that you’ll see a notice in my newsfeed when I post something baby-related here, and you might see a few more pregnancy/baby posts than my average FB friend. (That being said — if you’re on my list and would to stop seeing links to baby blogging, please just let me know!)

Off of that list, I’m going to stop censoring myself from mentioning the pregnancy. I don’t intend to be posting a ton of pregnancy/baby stuff — for one thing, I have students who are my FB friends and I don’t necessarily want to talk about it too much to them — but there will be occasional posts. And if I write something here that I think all of my friends might like to see, I’ll share it on my general FB.

So, I guess you can sort of opt in to oversharing…? 🙂 And the flip side to that is that I’m happy to answer or talk about just about anything over here, so have at it!

Monkey Butt

I meant to write about this a few days ago and then the week got away with me!

After our big twelve-week appointment, I went to school and B came to see me carrying a benign purple gift bag. She said that she wanted to mark the occasion of our happy news — knowing how anxious I was that everything be going all right — and so she bought Baby Baker a present.

Fuzzy monkey outfit

"Monkey butt" detail

Look at the monkey on the butt! So cute…

It’s itty bitty and fuzzy-soft and so cute and I’m not gonna lie — I got something in both my eyes when I pulled it out of the bag. (And I’m pretty sure Ryan did, too, when I let him “unwrap” it later.) It’s funny how a little pair of jammies can really drive it home that there is going to be a Little in our hands in only a few short months.

So thank you, B! I don’t know if you knew how much that little purple gift bag meant to us, so I wanted the world to know. 🙂