Thursday, July 25, 2013

Six Months

This is a big one—you are officially half a year old!  Summertime is a good time to be 6 months old.  You’re happy to look around in wonder as we sample festivals and watch parades and stay up for fireworks.  It’s exciting watching your world get bigger as we travel farther from home and you get to meet more of your family.

The Fourth of July holiday brought on some big new skills.  You started rolling over from your back to your tummy (although you still only roll from your tummy to your back occasionally and accidentally).  Then you started blowing spitty raspberries all over the place.  We’ve joked that the speech therapist asked us to try to get you to repeat the sounds we make, but instead you decided to get us to repeat your raspberries.  This month you’ve also grown enamored with your feet (tasty!) and tried out sitting in your exersaucer.  Your movements are getting much more intentional—we’ve caught you reaching for our food and for Toby’s hair (ouch) and even trying to flop over in your swing so you can get the support bar into your mouth.

Early this month Aunt Debbie traveled out to visit us.  You liked having her around for lots of extra attention and cuddles, and you showed her around to your favorite spots around town, like watching Tincaps games and singing along at the library’s baby story time.

At the beginning of the month you gained a little cousin—Harper.  You might not have much to say about that news right now, but it’s exciting to know you’ll have a cousin so close in age, and it’ll be fun watching you two grow up.

You hit the 6 month mark when we were in Oregon visiting family.  That required your first plane ride (you did great by the way, nursing whenever you got bored on the plane, which was most of the ride.)  We saw Aunt Debbie again, and introduced you to Aunt Becca, and Aunt Sheryl and Uncle Greg.  We spent the weekend at DaVinci Days with Grandma and Grandpa, and you were happy to bob along in your stroller as the rest of us took in the shows and activities.  You also got to meet your older cousins, Evan and Davis.  Evan was even old enough to watch you and play with you on his own some, and so I don’t know what secrets you were telling him.  Davis was sweet with you and curious about your baby ways—and perhaps had a bit more fun playing with you than with your less-predictable older brother.  Both cousins were having so much fun with you that sometimes it was hard to push your stroller because they kept reaching in to play with you.

Tonight you hit that important 6 month milestone—you tried your first bite of mashed banana.  You seemed intrigued and intent on getting more into your mouth—if a bit uncertain about how to swallow once it was on your tongue.  I would post a picture, but I didn’t take one, we were all too busy watching your first taste.  Toby even asked to hold the spoon and give you the first bite.  (He was a bit put out that we didn’t give you avocados first—I promised him we’ll try those in a few more days.)

Keep on tasting, trying, and watching with those wide eyes!  Summertime is all the sweeter knowing that we get to share all of these first celebrations and travels and excitements with you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

DaVinci Days

From the smell of fried food and the music coming from the stage, you'd think you were at your standard local summer festival.  And then you see giant foot drive by.

The foot, the dinosaur in the background, and about a dozen other vehicles are a part of the kinetic sculpture race -- the contraptions are people powered (most are pedalled like bicycles) and they travel over sand, through mud, and down the river.

Alongside the main attraction there are jugglers and musicians, food vendors, art displays, a film festival, and a great children's area.
A community art project calls put anyone on the area to illustrate the theme of "Time". Contributions included everything from a kindergarten class worth of paper plate clocks to the bird below.

It's all great fun to explore and watch (we barely scratched the surface), but what really impresses me is how many people are involved in creating the weekend's entertainment. It takes creativity and time to make cars and sculptures and to set up stations for kids and adults to learn and play -- and most of the folks involved are doing out for free.
I love chances for communities to come together to make something that is theirs alone. And I love that DaVinci Days has a playful, nerdy atmosphere that I've not seen matched anywhere else.

Smart Post

Hello from sunny Oregon!  We're visiting family and soaking in the lovely, dry heat, and enjoying the freedom that comes from having more adults than kids.  At the last minute I decided to leave my laptop at home, and, get this:  you can do anything from your phone these days!  Even make blog posts!  So please bear with me as I play with my new toy and share a few images of our trip so far.

Okay, that should be enough for a trial post. If this works I might follow up with more about out adventures. Wish me luck, I'm hitting post.

Friday, July 12, 2013

On Target

Twice this week Max's therapists have told me that he's doing great.

I have no idea what to do with this information.

Oh, I love me some compliments from friends and strangers alike.  Smile at my baby's flyaway hair, tell me that he looks so strong holding his head up, tell me that his wide eyes look curious.  But I have no idea how to react when a professional tells me that my baby is, for the moment, doing some of what a 5 month old baby should be doing.

With babies, what they're doing today means nothing about what they'll do tomorrow.  And it sure doesn't mean a thing about who they will be in a year, or five years, or twenty.

We have been so lucky with Max's health.  Healthy heart, healthy digestion.  We made it through his first cold and flu season without any difficulties.  But he is at increased risk for so many health problems.  I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Today the speech therapist said the muscle tone in his mouth looks very good.  She listed off things that he's doing that are right on track.  Does this mean that he'll talk easily and clearly, that he'll be able to make himself understood?  No.  Does this mean that I can erase the therapy appointments from my calendar?  No.  I suppose I should be pleased--but somehow hearing compliments that my baby is doing normal baby stuff just reminds me of everything that could go wrong.

Would I still be proud of Max if the therapists were telling me that there were problems?  I don't have the option of answering no.  Sooner or later the day is going to come when one of these professionals tells me they have "concerns" about some area of his development.

I want to dream big for Max.  But I am scared of having those dreams squashed.  Heck, I did dream big for Max, back before he was born.  And then we heard the diagnosis that changed our measuring stick.  I don't even know what dreaming big looks like anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I am proud of the little guy.  More than that, I'm just plain enchanted by watching him change each day.  It's amazing all of the little milestones the therapists are trained to notice, and it's such a joy to be included in observing every little detail as Max grows.  The good news is that Max is Max.  We're all still figuring out what that means.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Spreading the Pretty Colors: Our Tie Dye Party

This weekend we had bunches of people over.  The house was filled with kids and rubberbands.  And the yard was (is) covered in colored dyes.

A tie dye party ought to make for good photos.  But I was busy making stuff, refilling bottles, and catching up a bit here and there with friends.  And my hands were covered in dye most of the time, which is not good for holding a camera.  So I got no pictures of the party or the tie dye process.  I guess I'm not cut out to be much of a craft blogger.

So, instead, here are my tie dye models hamming it up for the camera.  I love some of the looks Max gives Toby.  I can't quite believe that they're entirely unintentional.

Tie dyeing can be kind of addictive.  I bought a few new things to dye, then I found a huge stack of white little T-shirts and onesies for pennies at a garage sale, and then I still kept finding things around the house that needed more color.  Baby blue sleep sack?  That definitely needs a big swirl.  Pastel baby blanket?  Not any more, now it's got a big rainbow across it.  One friend's son decided to tie dye the shorts he was wearing--luckily she had a spare in the car.  The process we used involved dyes that have to sit, all wet and tied up, overnight.  So most folks took their stuff home to rinse and wash the next day.  The shirts & such that I had the chance to unravel looked fabulous--it's so much fun seeing how everything turned out.

Christer held down the house all weekend--between preparing, creating, rinsing and washing I was working on this project most of Saturday and Sunday.  Sometimes doing this stay-at-home-mom thing means that I need to spend a bit of time doing something that is just for me, and I'm thankful that he gets that.  (He's not to bad at tie dyeing, either.  His shirt turned out awesome.)  Toby had explicit instructions on how his shirt should look, but no interest in helping make it.  Max was just blissed out that his house was full of people!  To look at!  And smile at!  Yay!

I hadn't tie dyed in nearly 10 years.  At the party we were talking about making this a yearly tradition.  And now it seems I've signed myself up to help host another tie dye party with the church youth sometime this fall.  Oh dear, I might have found another hobby.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fourth of July Weekend

Babies playing on the lawn, not-ready-for-Pinterest patriotic ice cream cones, a few fireworks of our own and plenty of fireworks in the skies.  The photos are from the evening of the 4th, which we celebrated with friends.

The whole semi-extended weekend has been packed with summertime.  Ribs, ice-cream lunch (if it has fruit on top, you can call it lunch), watching our minor league baseball team, more fireworks.  Time alone to get started on my summer's writing project.  And today we topped it all off with a messy tie-dye party.  But I have no pictures of that, because I spent the day with my hands covered in colored dye.

This quote from Erma Bombeck made it's way through my Facebook feed a couple of times on Thursday, and it seemed worth repeating:

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."

I almost wonder if we're better, as a country, for having our Independence Day right in the middle of the summer.  Because really, how else could you celebrate at this time of year but with food and friends and mosquito bites and late nights.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In the Aftermath

I remember visiting a friend’s youth group one time in high school.  After we played basketball in the church’s gym and ate pizza, we settled down for the message.  The preacher spoke, and then told us to all close our eyes for a prayer.  While our eyes were closed he asked if anyone felt called to Jesus that night.  “This is just between you and Jesus,” he assured us, “So if you feel Jesus calling out to you, raise your hand.”  I think I might have giggled out loud at that.  Clearly, if my hand was to go up, it wouldn’t be just between me and Jesus anymore.

Yesterday I posted about the attending a rally for marriage equality.  I hope I got across the feelings of fun and hope that the day held for me.  But, of course, there’s another side to such things.  There was another protest happening across the lawn from ours.  A small group of local clergy who feel threatened by marriage equality led a prayer gathering.  I live in a small community, so it was inevitable that many of us recognized faces in the other crowd.

If you’re going to stand up in public to pray that some loves are more worthy than others, someone is going to see you, and someone is going to get hurt.

If you’re lucky, I’m the only one who will see you.  I might judge you a bit, but I’ll get over it.  If you’re unlucky, though, you’ll be seen by the kid who looks up to you, the one who now knows that you think her parents’ love is wrong.  Or maybe it’ll be the teen who is questioning his own sexuality who now knows that you think his desires are dirty.  Maybe it’s the co-worker who didn’t realize that you thought his rights weren’t as important as your own.  Or maybe it’s the friend who knew you had differences, but didn’t think you’d go so far as to publicly condemn her own marriage vows.

Prayer is never between you and Jesus alone.  Never.

Even when we pray alone with our eyes closed, the way we pray influences the way we act toward the people in our lives.  It never ends with Jesus.  And if that prayer is public—well, don’t even try to hide behind God.  Look, we’ve been over the Bible passages before.  The Bible offers wisdom but no easy answers.  And don’t try to make this about freedom of religion.  You’re free to believe whatever you’d like, but you’re not free from the consequences.  If you’re going to stand up to condemn people in your community, then people in your community are going to get hurt.  If you’re going to stand up at a rally in a small community, then you’d better be willing to take on the responsibility of causing that pain.

I can’t claim to have all the answers.  But I do know that someone saw me standing with my rainbow parachute yesterday.  Somebody saw me chasing around a preschooler and rocking a baby, and somebody thought to themselves, hmm, some people in Fort Wayne can accept me the way I am.

Jesus never said anything about gay marriage.  But as long as I’m standing in a place that heals instead of hurts, I’m going to believe I’m in the place I need to be.  And I’m going to be praying for more healing, healing for the hurt that is caused every time someone gets so caught up in their small definition of orthodoxy that they forget the pain they’re causing.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriage Equality Rally

Today we packed up enough snacks, water, and toys to survive the Zombie apocalypse, and headed to a local rally for marriage equality.

The protest itself was delightfully Midwestern.  Around here we don't really chant slogans or raise our voices.  We wander about catching up with friends and making small talk with neighbors.  We didn't yell at the counter rally--heck, we barely even looked their direction.  We politely avoided eye contact with them.  We bring parachutes and bubbles for the kids--part because it adds to the festive atmosphere, but mostly because we're practical, and we want to keep the kids busy so they don't run into the street.

Fort Wayne is not known for its progressive politics.  So when something like this goes off smoothly, with strong attendance, and with noisy, honking support from drivers-by, well, it leaves me with a hopeful fuzzy feeling that will last for a while.

It was Baby's First Protest, of course, but I'll remember it as Toby's first.  We dropped in on a few rallies for this or that when we were in DC, but this was the first time that Toby understood what was going on and why we were gathering.

And this issue is, in a small way, personal for him.  He knows gay adults--his Sunday school teachers, his babysitter, the parents of some of his friends.  When we were preparing him for the rally today he was somewhat confused that there would be a problem with two men or two women marrying.  He liked the idea that we were celebrating that adults can marry whoever they choose to marry.

I'm not going to draw any conclusions from today about Toby's political leanings in the future.  As contrary as he can be, I wouldn't be surprised if he decides to be the Alex P. Keaton of the family.  But y'know, I don't think that gay rights are going to be much of a political issue for his generation.  It's hard to grow up with gay role models and then to turn around and try to place limits on their freedoms.  Perhaps even more importantly, there may come a day when my son realizes he is gay, and then as his mama I sure want him to know that his parents, his church, and his role models love and support him.