Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daddy K gives a shout to the Spartans

I love being active and I love sports, although a sports fan I'm not. Mama A is very happy that I'm not clamoring (and whining) to watch every football, baseball or basketball game. Once is a great while I'll get a chance to go to a game or two, maybe catch some of a game on T.V.

However, I must give a shot out to the SJSU Spartans football team for starting off the season right, beating the UC Davis Aggies 13-10. Go Spartans my alma mater! Two years ago they won the New Mexico Bowl, a first in almost 20 years, and now it's time to do it again. They started off sluggish in the game, but third-string quarterback Kyle Reed rallied them to victory. That'll get him the starting QB slot next week against Nebraska.


Our good friend Nancy, also a proud SJSU alum, gave us a little SJSU Spartans baby beanie for Baby B. Can't wait for homecoming (our anniversary this year of all things)!


Oh, yeah. It's a Raider Nation as well. Right Troy (another Spartan alum)?


Baby B is between two worlds

I know a woman's body is only flesh and bone

A woman's body is only flesh and bone

How come I can't let go?

I'm between two worlds

I said oh yeah, I'm out of my mind

I'm between two worlds

--Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


I have no idea what Tom was really thinking of when he wrote those lyrics back in the early 80s. Probably not about pregnancy. But when I heard it in my mix last week when I was running, it got me thinking about where we've been and where we're at.


This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding almost five years ago now. Amy's father, Carl, lovingly delivered the ceremony and married us. We wrote our own vows as well, and every October 11 we go down to the place where we met on the beach almost 11 years ago and read those vows to one another.


But what were we thinking in that picture? It certainly wasn't about having children. No, that would take another four years to evolve.


And here we are. Thirty-eight weeks pregnant. Amy started maternity leave a few days early last week, because when she woke up Wednesday morning, she said to me, "I don't want anybody touching me and I don't want to touch anyone." That's difficult not to do when you work in physical therapy.


No worries, my dear. It's time to relax with the relaxin and chill out. It could be anytime now. We set up the birthing tub in Baby B's room and our midwife gave me home birth kit just in case something happened and I had to birth the baby.


Are you kidding me? Well, I'm not cutting the nails. I told you that. (Don't worry, folks. Kathe will be here.)


Baby B is between two worlds. In fact, next to death, I believe being in the womb is the closet we ever get to heaven. In that ethereal place where stars collide and worlds are born, the spark of human life is tethered to mother and the heart of the universe, the very heart of God.


It's exciting that someday we can tell B he/she was born at home in his/her very room. So come out right and on time, you little honey B.

Daddy K finds some fun with kids’ musical instruments

Oh my, how much fun is this? A group called Plastica covered a classic Rush instrumental called YYZ (which Plastica lovingly calls YY Me). And it's all done with kids' musical instruments and a few bottles for good measure (get it, good measure?).


For fans, this was an amazing cover. For wannabe musicians and soon to be fathers, inspiring.


Enjoy.



Friday, August 29, 2008

Daddy K at home in the DadLabs crib

I love the daddies over at DadLabs. These guys rock and their videos are informative and quite funny. One of their videos for newbie dads is all about the importance of bonding with your baby.


Think I'm going to have a problem with cuddlin' Baby B? Nah. Don't think so.


I invite you dads out there to join me at the DadLabs. Heck, bring some beer – but drink responsibly mind you. I've got a baby coming.



Daddy K learns the truth of Snow’s strength

One of the Daddy blogs I try to keep up with is Building Camelot. One of Tyler's latest posts was about the late Tony Snow and he shared an essay from Tony that I thought was poignant and beautiful. While I don't subscribe to Tony's political beliefs, and don't exactly play by the same Christian playbook, his words moved me as a father-to-be and as someone who has loved ones who battle illness and others who have struggled with loss of many kinds.

There's nothing more for to say other than reposting the post below. Enjoy and God bless.


***


Political beliefs aside, this testimony from Tony Snow speaks to the heart of men, husbands and fathers about the importance of self sacrifice and humility in life.


His words emphasize the importance of being a strong, yet humble man for our children and wives. Although we may not be able to see, with as much clarity, the importance of our blessings in life, we can draw inspiration from his words and start living as better husbands and fathers.


When he talks about strength through humility, he is revealing the secret to building your own Camelot. We, as husbands and fathers, struggle with this on a daily basis and hopefully we'll realize this and work on it before it's too late.


Tony Snow died of cancer on July 12th 2008. He had three children.


***


Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, in my case, cancer.


Those of us with potentially fatal diseases - and there are millions in America today - find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence 'What It All Means,' Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations. The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the 'why' questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.


I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out. But despite this, or because of it, God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.


Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere. To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life, and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non-believing hearts - an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, exuberantly - no matter how their days may be numbered.


Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease, smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension - and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.


'You Have Been Called'


Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. 'It's cancer,' the healer announces. The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. 'Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.' But another voice whispers: 'You have been called.' Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter, and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our 'normal time.'


There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions. The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies.


"it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give"


Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment. There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.


Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf. We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples' worries and fears.


'Learning How to Live'


Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love. I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. 'I'm going to try to beat [this cancer],' he told me several months before he died. 'But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side.'


His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity, filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms. Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?


Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations?


When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up, to speak of us!


This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.


We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God's hand.


Tony Snow

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My, what a nice pelvis you have…

Yesterday was our big 37-week check-up with our midwife and the pelvic region is ready! Baby B is dropping into the tunnel of love head first; Mama A is 50% effacing with regular Braxton Hicks contractions – but nothing else escalating…yet. Estimated weight – 7.5 pounds. Heart beat a steady 140 bpm. Buzzing around the womb like a hyper honey bee.

(The couple that came to our birth planning meeting had their second child last weekend, birthed by our midwife, and the baby girl weighed almost 12 pounds. Amy looked at me meekly and said, "Please, no.")


The big B birthday could happen in the next week or two. We're going to pick up the birthing tub this weekend and then I'll have an indoor Jacuzzi for short time. Sweet. Got everything on the birthday checklist. Check.


I told my mom last night that we're as ready as we're going to be. All the reading, the listening to birth stories, the family and friend advice, the midwife coaching (you rock, Kathe) – all have been invaluable. But now it's time for hands-on training. Now it's time. (I could share what I've learned about sphincter law, but I'll let you think about it first.)


The only thing I'm afraid of is the cutting of Baby B's nails. Really. Yes, we have little mittens ready to go in case they're too long, but cutting them, no way. Years ago I tried to cut my dog's nails (good ol' Joshua), cut one to the quick and he bled all over the frickin' place. Scared me to death.


Bring on the meconium and the pee and the placenta and the plutonium – but I ain't cuttin' the nails. Please don't make me cut the nails.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Daddy K goes back to school, and man is it cool

Baby B is years away from going to school, but it's never too soon for Daddy K and Mama A to get into the back to school shopping mode. A couple of weeks ago we went "back to school" shopping for our dear friend, Nancy, who's starting her first year of teaching 2nd grade this week. Good luck Nancy! We got her all sorts of fun supplies including a 2 GB USB flash drive shaped like an eraser. Awesome.

I have very fond memories of going back to school shopping as a child – and the best part of all was the hip and fresh new binder organizer with as many hidden pockets and zipper packs as possible. Oh how I enjoyed getting everything organized in my organizer and jamming it full of fresh binder paper, pens, pencils and erasers. Yes, I was excited to learn – and to be ready to learn. Each and every year mine would be used to the point of disrepair, just in time for the summer break and then to buy anew before September started. That was my gadgetry long before laptops, cell phones, iPhones and iPods. For those South Park fans out there (and I bet most of my readers aren't), there was the Trapper Keeper episode. Nothing more to add there.


So the prospect of someday picking out organizers and gadgetry for B is more than I can bear. Don't know if I can wait for that.


Must go buy now. Must buy. Must.

Daddy K daydream time travels about being an older parent

When I was a tween and teen and young adult, I would imagine where I'd be in the year 2000 – what I'd be doing, who I'd be with, where I'd live, what I'd look like. It was a fascinating mental exercise for me, causing my head to buzz with electricity, my mind awash in endorphins. (One of my good friends in college, who was considered to be somewhat of a clairvoyant and who sadly died from chemotherapy complications a year after we met, claimed that he saw me way in the future with silver hair and a beard, wearing glasses and smoking a pipe while sitting at a big mahogany desk. It was true I wanted to be a psychologist at the time. Sigmund Freud I'm not; a pipe dream is sometimes just a pipe dream. That's why I'm in marketing and PR!)


Daydream time travel has always been escapist therapy for me to "work things out". But unlike when I was younger and time was an open air amphitheater, the starry sky expanding before my eyes, now it's like Alice in Wonderland where time is a shrinking room collapsing around me.


When B turns sweet 16 (or handsome 16), I'll be 58 years old. When B graduates from college (on time of course), I'll be 64. You can see where I'm going with this.


The question is – do Amy and I worry about the fact we're older having children? Not really. I mean, yes, I imagine what it will be like, banking on the fact we'll be in pretty good shape mentally, emotionally and physically – along with having contingencies in place just in case. But no, we're not that worried about it at this point.


We're not the only parents having children at an older age. Most what to complete college and have careers established prior to having children. And then there are those like us who hadn't planned on kids but changed their minds.


Is it fair to B that its parents will be much older maybe than some of its friends' parents (I say "it" because I'm really trying not to be gender specific until we're holding B in our arms!)? Our parents and sisters had their children at half my age. And while I'm not going to discuss the socioeconomic implications of retiring baby boomers, lower birthrates and shrinking tax bases, I will say it's a hefty responsibility to have a child and something we do not take lightly.


According to an article I read recently:


Nationally, the U.S. Census report shows that more American women are skipping motherhood or are waiting longer to have children, a trend already evident in California, where birthrates to women in their 40s have tripled the past two decades.


So we're not alone in this trend. With the exception of an unchecked growing obesity rate in this country, many of my generation and older are healthier than previous generations, thus living longer. (And many may outlive their overweight children – get your butts moving people and get off the high-fructose corn syrup.)


I did find a quick list of pros and cons for having a child at an older age by Michael K. Meyerhoff, EdD:


There are a number of positive aspects to having a first child in midlife. There are also some drawbacks. First, the positives:


  1. A new parent who is between 35 and 40 years of age has about 15 to 20 years of adult life experience and so has more inner resources to draw on in times of stress than does a younger parent.

  2. Middle-aged parents are usually at the height of their earning power, so they have more financial stability to support a child.

  3. Having had many experiences, many middle-aged adults are ready to be parents. They have a sense of identity -- the child will not have to provide them with it.

  4. Having a first child in midlife provides a real sense of renewal.

  5. Adults in midlife may have a deeper sense of the value of life itself, and so tend to place high value on the time they can spend with their children.


While many of the positive things about having a baby in midlife involve the joys of raising a small child, the drawbacks have mostly to do with the future and with the parents' concerns about aging:


  1. Older parents may have lower energy levels. They may wonder if they will have the energy to be as active as their child needs them to be.

  2. They wonder if they will live to see their child become an adult. Will they ever see their grandchildren? Will they very quickly become a burden to a child just as he is trying to get on his feet as a young adult?

  3. When the age difference is 40 or more years, quite a schism is created; parents worry whether their values will be at all relevant to their child. The age difference may be particularly apparent when a child becomes a teenager -- a difficult period for even young parents to deal with.

Daddy K does a vending machine double-take

We've been mall rats of late shopping for Baby B stuff and yesterday I noticed something by the mall bathrooms that made me stop and do a double-take. I know it's nothing new. As a marketer I know there are many different ways to sell a product.

A vending machine that sells baby products – diapers, wipes, juice, stuffed toys – anything you'd need at a moment's notice that you forgot at home prior to braving the crowded marketplace.


I guess these are things I'm noticing more since I'm about to be a daddy. And there's no need to keep loose change or bills available. Machines these days take plastic as well – for a price of course.


Sigh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Daddy K believes in the Phelpsian way

When Michael Phelps won his eighth medal he made Olympic history. To get there he had goals and trained hard to hit those goals.

And he did. A recent San Jose Mercury News article defined it this way per Phelps relay teammate Aaron Peirsol:


Phelpsian adj. 1. To set an impossible goal and achieve it. And make it look easy.


But impossible is relative. I bounced back from financial ruin and quit smoking. Amy and I said we'd never have a child. Having a healthy child at home isn't impossible (unthinkable to some, but not impossible). Living a full life after a devastating spinal cord injury isn't impossible either. One of my staff members recovered from cancer and now runs 50-mile trail races (I never thought I'd run six miles). My father beat the devil three times and is still as nutty as ever. The list goes on and on.


Most of us don't care about making these feats look easy because that's not our intention; we just are, we envision and we do. Baby B will hear all these stories and B inspired.

Giving birth: the most natural phenomena on earth

To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Genesis 3:16


I don't believe God really did that as punishment for Eve's sin, but the men who wrote it wished God had. The part about ruling over women was definitely an earthly, manly mandate. That's been pretty evident for a long, long time.


This post isn't to argue original sin; it's to talk about giving birth, one of the most natural phenomena on earth.


Prior to the early 1900s, giving birth at home was the normal thing to do (yes, mortality rates were higher, I know, but still). In the early 1900s, women began going to the hospital because modern health care at the time made huge strides in reducing the mortality rate and improving the likelihood that mom and baby would live to see another day. However, the medical community consisted of men who in turn wanted to increase the ease of functional delivery for themselves – things like complete sedation for the woman, strapped down in a bed with restraints with feet hiked up and locked into stirrups.


Today, if most births are normal, vaginal births due to the advances of prenatal care, then why is the cesarean rate in America upwards of 40%?


Most of you know we've planned a home water birth with our very capable midwife Kathe (who by the way corrected me about her visual aids not being from the 1970s – just kidding Kathe!), but I can't tell you how many times people go right to the horror stories when I tell them we're having a home birth.


"Oh my God, my niece had a home birth and it ripped a hole in the space-time continuum, along with tearing her perineum and her neighbor's as well, and the amount of blood and evil inter-dimensional beings was horrific..."


Really?


I even received a response of late that we're more concerned about our feelings, and not Baby B's health, because we wanted a home birth.


What the – ?


We're not having a home birth to burn incense, sing kumbaya and pat ourselves on the back. No, we're having a home birth solely to have a more natural and safe experience for mom and baby (with a certified midwife) the way God and millions of years of evolution intended (yes, I can reconcile both and do).


But just in case, we do have a plan B. No worries there. And you can have great prenatal care with a midwife instead of an OB – and we did both. We're also in a community that embraces midwifery including the local medical profession. A qualified midwife can identify breech well before early labor even starts and if they can't adjust the little bugger, plan B starts early.


Our midwife has attended over 1,200 births and only a small percentage has had to go to the hospital for whatever reason.


We watched a water birthing video the other night with our doula called Birth into Being (definitely not for everyone). A Russian spiritual midwife recorded five water births, some of which were women giving birth in the Black Sea. (Yes, I had visions of Jean Auel's books, The Mammoth Hunters, but no, we're not running down to the water to birth by the lighthouse where we met to be spiritually romantic in 55 degree water.) Water birth can help soothe the mother's labor and the baby comes right out of the water once it's born. And if all goes as planned, Baby B will be born in its very own room.


For those of you keeping score at home, here is more information from a great mainstream site – the American Pregnancy Association:


Home birth might be an option for you if:


  1. You are having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy

  2. You want to avoid episiotomy, cesarean section, epidural and other interventions

  3. You want to be surrounded by family and friends

  4. You want to be free to move around, change positions, take a shower, and eat or drink freely during labor

  5. You want to enjoy the comforts of home and familiar surroundings


Home birth is not for you if:


  1. You are diabetic

  2. You have chronic high blood pressure, or toxemia (also known as preeclampsia)

  3. You have experienced preterm labor in the past, or may be at risk for preterm labor now

  4. Your partner does not fully support your decision to give birth at home


Most midwives will bring the following with them the day of delivery:


  1. Oxygen for the baby if needed

  2. IV's for mom if she becomes dehydrated or needs additional nutrients

  3. Sterile gloves, gauze pads, cotton hat for the baby, drop cloths, waterproof covers for the bed, a thermometer, a pan for sitz baths after birth

  4. Fetoscopes or ultrasonic stethoscopes

  5. Medications to slow or stop a hemorrhage

  6. Special herbal preparations, homeopathic remedies, massage supplies/techniques and even acupuncture needles

  7. Items for suturing tears


In what situations would transfer to the hospital occur:


  1. Mom decides to go because she feels exhausted and does not want to continue

  2. Premature rupture of membranes

  3. High blood pressure

  4. No progress

  5. Fetal distress

  6. Cord prolapse

  7. Hemorrhage


Some pointers when considering a home birth:


  1. Compile a health care team by hiring a midwife and obstetrician

  2. Interview several midwives to discuss their birth philosophy; you may be more comfortable with a midwife who shares your view of birth

  3. Write out a Plan B in case a hospital transfer is necessary

  4. Hire a doula

  5. Ask your midwife if she works with a backup OB/GYN

  6. Choose a pediatrician to see the baby within 24 hours of the birth


Home birth perks:


  1. Home birth may be significantly easier on your pocket book. An average uncomplicated vaginal birth costs about 60% less in a home than in a hospital.

  2. Home birth provides immediate bonding and breastfeeding. Early breastfeeding helps mom stop bleeding, clear mucus from the baby's nose and mouth, and transfer disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from mother to baby.

  3. Home birth allows you to be surrounded with those you love. When you include children, family, and friends in the birth process, it provides you with many helpers and allows a very intimate bonding experience for everyone involved.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Larry the Lounge Lobster strikes again!

Larry the Lounge Lobster (as he's now affectionately known) strikes again!


Baby B's gonna have a blast with Daddy K and Mama A.


Yes, we realize it's going to be work raising a child. Now, everybody dance like the Peanuts characters.



Sunday, August 17, 2008

The B-Buzz Controversy

B-Buzz Bear caught hanging out with fast and loose Larry the Lobster. There goes the neighborhood.

The third shower’s the charm: Baby B is blessed with birthing stories

The ladies from VibrantCare, the physical therapy clinic where Mama A works, threw her one more baby shower. Oh how we are blessed with such loving and supportive people in our lives. Thank you Annee and Ching!

This one was strictly chicks-only, and I was happy to stay home and tend to my honey-do list and blogging and catching up on work (if that were possible).


The highlight for Mama A was when the other mothers shared their birth stories – very touching and moving for everyone there. We've been hearing many birth stories and reading them as well, and they've been informative and helpful, acclimating us to the bone-crushing depths of the deep contraction seas ahead. (I know, we have no idea until we're in those moments.)

Believe it or not, Amy won the "guess the belly measurement with a length of string" game. She must have the inside scoop (wink).


The shower cake was a score as well because we know what happens when mama don't get her cake.


Thanks again to everyone pitching tents in B's camp!


The Baby B ticker shows 26 days. Gulp. Gotta go fill the birthing tub. Someone boil some water and tear up the sheets.




Saturday, August 16, 2008

Daddy K wants a soothing swing dealie-bob, adult-sized

Oh my gosh, we bought the coolest baby scoobie! The Graco soothing swing dealie-bob. Kimberly helped us put it together (along with the stroller and the jogging stroller – thank you).

It's got baby gadgetry of song and vibration, color and light. What else does Baby B need?


A bean bag and a lava lamp? Sweet.

Mama A and Daddy K plan a ba-cation on limited leave


Months ago I began to worry about our maternity leave and what we were going to do after Baby B was born. Mama A wasn't too worried and thought we'd have at least four months. I wanted six. It wasn't until we investigated further that we realized you have to have a masters degree in calculus to figure out accumulated vacation time combined short-term disability combined with health care benefit payments not covered beyond month three combined with not having job security beyond month four.


We're fortunate to have full benefits when many folks are losing them, but the restrictions about maternity leave and benefits are mind-bending. We're also a couple who needs a dual income in order to raise a child, and when it came to decide how long Amy would work until maternity leave, the above stipulations pretty much sealed the deal for us. Work until the end of August and then start leave to maximize the time off with baby. I plan on being at home the first two weeks for a ba-cation and then working 50/50 between the main office and home. (Hopefully Baby B ain't comin' early.)


According to an article I read in The Christian Science Monitor online titled Maternity leave: Expectant moms wait 'til the last minute:


In France, expectant mothers receive six weeks of maternity leave before the birth and 10 weeks after. They are required to take at least two weeks before and six after. In Finland, women receive 17.5 weeks of maternity leave. They can begin as early as eight weeks before their due date or as late as two weeks before the expected date. Other European countries offer similar policies.


And the guys at DadLabs went to Sweden to check out what's available to dads for paternity leave. Would you take 80% of your salary for 60 days of paternity leave?


Hell yes.


In the U.S. – The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave during pregnancy or after the birth of a child. This applies to expectant fathers as well as mothers. The law, however, excludes companies with fewer than 50 employees.


And isn't helpful when families can't afford to lose income for any extended period of time in the first place.


The CS Monitor article also states:


Call it the American way of maternity. Eighty percent of pregnant women who work remained on the job until one month or less before their child's birth, according to newly released Census data for 2003. In 1965 that figure was 35 percent.


Most women work until close to their due date for two reasons: They need the income and they want to use their maternity leave after the baby arrives.


That's the reality and we'll be fine, but man, paying higher taxes to subsidize more leave and child care for both parents? Call me crazy but I'm on board for that.

Daddy K asks – what the???

So I'm cruising through some of the blogs and news feeds I subscribe and there it was on HappyNews.com:


California Mom Gives Birth on Front Lawn by Herself


Jessica Higgins was at the mall in Fullerton with her 2-year-old son when she went into labor. She drove home, called 911 and had the baby in her front yard.


"She was just standing in the driveway rocking the newborn, who was still attached to the placenta," Officer Manny Ramos said.


Although her daughter came six weeks early, both mom and baby are doing well.


We'll stick to the birthing tub. Or the bed. Or the futon in the baby's room. Or the couch downstairs. Or the cuddle chair downstairs.


Less than a month to go.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Daddy K’s favorite radio show

I didn't grow up listening to radio shows like the generations before me, but I'd argue that audio podcasts are the on-demand radio shows of the 21st century. One of my favorites is This American Life. I may have mentioned this show before, and if I have, I highly recommend it.

The latest episode I'm listening to is called A Little Bit of Knowledge, and Act One includes some very funny stories of how we learn things wrong as children and don't unlearn them until adulthood.


One woman believed in unicorns as a child, equating them to the zebra family. Then when she was in college she was at a party and the conversation turned to endangered and extinct animals. She honestly asked:


"So, is the unicorn endangered or extinct?"


Silence, then laughter, then silence.


You can't make this stuff up. I want B to ride them.

Mama A and the spiritual bond

According to Wikipedia (the online encyclopedia where everything is factual – wink), a godparent, in many denominations of Christianity, is someone who sponsors a child's baptism. Judaism has this equivalent in the circumcision ceremony.

Too wet and painful – and too old school. A more modern view of godparents for us means they are individuals (family or friends) who we have a strong spiritual bond with and who we want to be a special part of our child's life.


You already know that my best friend Robby is Baby B's Godfather. We've chosen Amy's niece, Kimberly, as B's Godmother. Amy's always had a strong connection to Kimberly and we've both watch her grow into a strong, intelligent and empathetic woman – who's given us a heck of a lot help already when it comes to raising B. The knowledge of childrearing (and the force – can't resist a Star Wars reference) is strong with this one. Amy's sister, Kimberly's mother, has been caring for infants for many, many years.


There's the UFO connection, too.


And as far as we're concerned, everyone in our life who we share a reciprocal friendship, love and grace with will be a godparent to B. Shafts of sunlight to warm our child's heart.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The baby’s room cometh

Martha Stewart we ain't, and don't really want to be, but we do a pretty darn good job of keeping house between the two of us. We decorated Baby B's room last Sunday with vintage Winnie the Pooh (including B's and honey pots) and had a blast doing it. I did all the heavy lifting and Mama A supervised and folded baby clothes. A special thank you to everyone who gave us baby gifts and decorations!

After decorating and resting (it was hard work, I'm tellin' you), we dialed up my Mom and Dad on the Skype web cam (Nana really wanted to talk to Baby B) and showed them around the baby's room. They approved with ooo's and ah's.


Not bad for two honery kids who didn't want to have any kids. Not bad at all.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

The B syndrome: What the heck do we do again?

Baby B's about a month away from being born and Amy's been reading a whole bunch of pregnancy/baby books and magazines for the past few months in preparation. Some I've checked out; she's bookmarked sections for me to read and there have been some great articles in Parenting and Mothering.

I've been sticking with my fatherhood for dummies books and other sites like DadLabs (where I just watched how to install a car seat), About.com Fatherhood, Daddy Dialectic, Rebel Dad, Building Camelot, The Art of Manliness (great post for dads here) and others.


One recent resource that stands out is what we watched yesterday. Amy ordered the Dunstan Baby Language DVD a couple of weeks ago and it's some very cool stuff. Based on 8 years of research:


The Dunstan Baby Language teaches you to hear exactly what your baby is communicating. As a parent, you will be able to interpret your infant's sounds and cries – and respond to their needs quickly and effectively.


Every newborn communicates from birth to 3 months uses 5 distinct sounds that signal hunger, tiredness, need to burp, lower wind/gas and discomfort. This is regardless of the language their parents speak. It is not a learned language. Rather, it is a natural way for every baby to express their physical needs.


For example, if the baby squeaks out the word "neh", then the baby is hungry. "Owh" means he/she needs to go to sleep. "Eairh" means he/she has lower wind pain (sigh…I still use that word myself unfortunately).


We'll let you know if it works for us!

Daddy K screens Curious George

What's with some of these older children's books? I love 'em, but c'mon.

Just read Curious George the other day to Baby B – a story about illegal animal poaching that violates treaties of multiple countries where George smokes a pipe, George prank phone calls the fire department, George gets locked up in a prison and kills a guard to escape (maybe he's curious Jason Bourne?), George steals balloons from a street vendor, and then he's locked up in a zoo.


Really?


Thank goodness Winnie the Pooh isn't starting fires in the hundred acre wood. And maybe Scaredy Squirrel is a little too paranoid, but there's still nothing better than dogs partying in a tree.

When China sang to Daddy K, Mama A and Baby B

We're still catching up with the 2008 Beijing Olympic opening ceremony, and watching some of the events when we can, but what we've seen so far is spectacular and beyond words. Watching the 2008 drummers play the lighted faux drums was enough to make this aspiring drummer's hands go numb.

The Olympic creed "it's not the triumph, it's the struggle" falls right in line with Neil's "the point of a journey is not to arrive" – and makes perfect sense to be mindful and present in each and every moment.


That's what labor's going to be like for Amy; everything we've learned and prepared for to date will be hogwash when it comes to pushing Baby B out the mama door. The guests we had over at our birth planning meeting validated that statement. It'll be the most natural, physical and spiritually primal act we'll ever experience. No attaching ropes to my man parts, though. That experience isn't necessary.


Anyway, with the spotlight on China for the next couple of weeks, I reminisced about our trip back in late February – Baby B's first International trip! I've included some highlights of my travel ramblings below.


Enjoy!


***

"I stood at the top of the mountain

And China sang to me.

In the peaceful haze of harvest time

A song of eternity --

I heard the hope and the hunger

When China sang to me."


--Neil Peart

***

The flight took off on time and after 13 hours (actually 29 if you count the time difference) of reading, napping, eating airplane food, watching movies and shows on our iPod and iPhone, doing crosswords, getting up and down, going to the bathroom, helping one of our fellow tour travelers get her Nintendo DS up and running to play "brain teasers" (or something like that), listening to two other tour ladies discuss the year of the rat (and the dragon and the snake and the dog...) because they just watched "Rattatoille" on the plane (spelling?) and what wonderful pets they make (the domesticated ones), and the one tour woman who needed to speak in fluctuating decibels to a Chinese native (man) about Manhattan and whether or not chop suey would be readily available in Beijing, and the mother with her cute little boy who sat in our seats on top of our headphones because they were trapped by the duty free cart while we stood in line for the bathroom (they thankfully did not break them), and half-watching without sound some stylistic Chinese cop show where the characters dress cool and it looks like there's lots of action but nothing really is happening (like "Waiting For Godot" but with Budha instead - but not waiting for - now I'm confused), and after gazing out over the snow-covered wonderland of Alaska and string of Aleution pearls and the badlands of Northeastern China, and finally participating in a little plane yoga following along with the young Chinese woman on the TV screen--


We landed in Beijing. Safely.


***

On our way to lunch, we noticed a lot of "urban renewal" going on outside of Beijing. One of tour folks commented Santa Cruz should be doing that with the beach boardwalk. Those of familiar will understand. We also passed a new amusement park being built called Wonderland. I said it looked like Disneyland (there is one in Hong Kong). Our tour guide Angela said no, Wonderland. Go figure.


While we were driving in and around Bejing, Angela gave us a lot of imformaton about Beijing and China (sometimes too much, especially when we were all very tired). She talked about how dragons, magpies ( which were eveywhere), peaches and dozens of other things all meant longevity in Chinese culture! She also talked about how the Chinese government has opened their arms to business, foreign investment and trade, and private ownership of almost anything except property (the buildings can be owned but not the land). She said the Communist Party was no longer communist, and although she didn't use the word democratic she did say capitalistic with certain personal freedoms. I joked with her about putting that in writing and she said no, but they do talk among friends.


***

The highlight of the had to be the Great Wall. Stunning in the mountains and over 3,000 years in the making. The section we were at included a vertical climb up 1,000 uneven steps to a spectacular view (the weather is sunny and warm like Santa Cruz now). And we did it! Baby B's first International hike!

***

Our visit to Tian'a Men Square was quite pleasant and non-eventful by comparison. It was a sunny yet smoggy day (pollution is very bad in Beijing), but thankfully breezy too. The weather has been warmer than we anticipated, almost equivalent to Santa Cruz this time of year. Lots of people walking around the square. In fact, imagine lots of people and then multiply that by 10. It was pretty amazing to be walking around Tian'an Men after only seeing the images and footage in the media for so many years (and the fact that China has only been open to the west again in our lifetime.

***

The color red is everywhere, but not because of communism. No, the color red is good luck and is supposed to bring prosperity. A civilization over 40 centuries old, China is a mystical place with a rich cultural history and sense of pride. They are also a very warm people; even the aggressive street vendors and store vendors are polite about their pitches. They love to barter, and the more you get into it the more fun it is. They'll hand you a calculator (store folk, not street) and say, "Best price." (pronounced plice, seriously) They want you to type in your price.

***

I have to tell you, driving is nuts over here (wait until I recount our little side trip from yesterday). The thousand-year-old roads were made for walking and bicycles, not cars. And even though there are about 1,000 new drivers a day on the roads, there are also still almost 1.3 billion folks walking and riding bicycles. On the streets. On the expressways. On the highways.


Everywhere.


But there's an orchestrated fluidity and symbiosis to the thousands of perpetually honking cars, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians (yes, the people honk too). It's like every object moving on the street knows where it should be each and every moment. Except us. Oh, there are plenty of accidents, but it's mesmerizing to watch the traffic flow.

***

By the way, there are over 40 million black market decoded iPhones in China, and I'm the only one who can't get the wireless Internet to work (Apple and China Mobile haven't struck a deal yet, but based on this, it doesn't matter.)

***

The sun was going down fast and I wanted to see the leaning pagoda. We walked and walked but couldn't find it. The bike rickshaw drivers swarmed like bees and there were people everywhere - a Friday night in the city.



Then we tried to hail a cab, which was an exercise in futility. No empty cab would stop for us and most had fares. Daylight waned and I was worried, not so much because it was dangerous where we were. It wasn't. But we certainly didn't want to be stranded at night a long way from where we were supposes to meet the group for dinner. We might as well have been on Mars; we were Heinlein's strangers in a strange land. I don't even think we could've navigated the buses. A nice young man tried to help us but he spoke about as much English as I spoke Chinese.



Then a cab pulled up in front of the restaurant behind us but the driver waved us off as he was going in to eat.



I kept trying to hail on the main street and Amy on the side street. Rickshaw drivers bugged us, street vendors tried to sell, and the locals stared at the lost Americans. Dusk was upon us and all the while Amy was also keeping an eye on the cabbie in the restaurant. He finished, came outside and stood on the corner not far from us, smiling. I wasn't sure it was him but Amy was. She stood right next to his cab and when he came over he finally asked where we were going. We showed him the name of the restaurant written in Chinese by our tour guide Frank.



The cabbie smiled again and waved us into his cab. Thank you.

***

Beautiful and sometimes bizarre, Chinese contemporary architecture is a fusion of tradition, pragmatism and retro-western flair. Even the interiors can be strange -- space-age-Ikea-sparseness like the Ramada we're at now in Hangzhou, a medium-sized city of about 6.5 million. The first thing that came to mind was "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- clean but stark white walls, squat red and orange vinyl chairs, and round white cocktail tables all in the lobby. The rooms are like that too. (Was Ikea around and did Stanley Kubrick shop there?)



"What are you doing, Dave? And why do you and all your friends look alike?"

***

After lunch, instead of following the primary itinerary of going with the rest of group (we are one of four groups) to a place called Tiger Hill, we decided to break out on our own for the afternoon and go to the Humble Administrator Garden. We took a cab to the north end of old town, and mercy was that crazy like Mr. Toad's wild ride. Not only is there a completely indecipherable language of honking, if someone is going too slow (and to a cabbie, everyone is going too slow) you pass them - with other trucks, buses, bikes and pedestrians coming right at you.



Thrilling to say the least. We also thought that the driver had gone too far, but once we got there he had three local passerbys confirm we were in the right place (and we had another American confirm).



The gardens were lovely and you could see spring just starting to emerge from its winter cocoon. The peonies and other flowers weren't blooming yet, but the verdant trees, bamboo and other shrubberies were thriving in the hazy spring sun. Lots of granite-colored volcanic-looking rocks were everywhere. Chinese gardens are extremely important symbolically and are intricately designed and planned -- the rocks symbolize mountains where there are no mountains. Lots of relaxing ponds, little bridges and ornate structures where high-ranking officials used to live.

***

Billions are being poured into China's infrastructure - power plants, roads, buildings - construction is going everywhere we went. The hi-tech electronic and component industries are booming. Foreign investment is huge. The middle-class is growing and spending and consuming (and there's still a one child per family law). According to what we're being told the crime rate is very low (many policemen don't carry guns) and lifespans are increasing because of improved health care (although it seems to be manditory for all men to smoke, like it's the 1950's in the U.S. And although there is no true democracy like we experience, it certainly ain't communism. The almost free market is thriving and only time will tell if it can be sustained.



However, we're not seeing the poorer farming communities (still the majority of China), where the horrid industrial machine's wake the world hasn't seem the likes of since the last industrial revolution occurs (India's part of this package too in there own right). We are seeing the smog though, and it makes places like Los Angeles pale by comparison. Our noses are dried out industrial wastelands.

***

Our trek continued in Hangzhou by traveling to the nearby mountains and a beautiful lake called West Lake (it's actually a large natural lagoon only six feet deep). It was a glorious day. Sunny and warm and the air quality was much better in the mountains.


We took cruise on an electric boat (no motorboats allowed and no fishing or swimming. Around us willows and sycamores stood proud in blankets of monkey grass while ancient pagodas rose high above the trees like graceful gods. We learned why the Long Bridge wasn't long and why the Broken Bridge wasn't broken and other tales of old. Chinese literature and storytelling go way back and are rich in myth and lore like the Native Americans and other ancient cultures around the world. We also saw the three large stone lanterns in the middle of the lake that are lit up with candles during the full moon festival in October.


***

Then we were off to the Lingyin Buddhist Temple. On the into the temple grounds we passed a handful of horridly deformed beggars. We were shocked because we hadn't seen folks like this on our trip up to that point. Our tour guide Frank told us that there really weren't homeless in China. Everyone was taken care of by their families and there were many government programs too. These "beggars" could take home more money than police officers.


The cliff Buddha carvings were amazing and over 1,000 years old. The temples themselves were very well kept and ornate and extended all the way up the mountain. Throngs of worshippers lit pungent incense sticks in flaming cauldrons and bowed repeatedly in silent prayer to multiple iterations of Buddha. The 64-foot wood carved Buddha glistened with color and reverence.


***

The next day was our final day and we were going to make the most of it! First stop was the Bund - the waterfront park along the Hangpu River. The view of the city on both sides of the river was spectacular even with the smog. We walked along the waterfront attacked on all sides by vendors, but it was a pleasant walk nonetheless. Amy bought a small panda kite (a series of cheap kites strung together) and wanted to fly it. As soon as we took it out of its bag, it immediately became an entangled mess. While I flew the three kites that weren't tangled up, Amy worked at untangling them. Within minutes a sweet teenage girl came over to help Amy. Then an old, practically toothless beggar women came over to help unsolicited, the same one who we did not give any money to just a few minutes before that. We didn't get the kite fixed, but we were thankful of their help and gave the old woman some help in return!

***

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mama A and Daddy K host a birth planning meeting

Last Wednesday night was our birth planning meeting where we discussed what we wanted the day our birth, what may or may not happen, and what to do in preparation for the day (which according to my Baby B blog ticker is only 34 days away). Our midwife Kathe, our good friend Annee (who's our doula), and another couple came to our house for the meeting.

Kathe brought books and photos and a slide set and a video – all to show us visually what happens at a home birth. Our guest couple shared their birth story with us, which was heartwarming and funny. (We're reading one of Ina May's natural childbirth / birth story books as well that Kathe recommended to us.)


I teased Kathe about the age of some of her visual aids, birthing women and their partners from the 1970s. Imagine that. No wait. Don't.


Lots and lots of crowning pictures and straining women and sideburns and polyester and –


Ack. Ouch. Ugh. Sigh.


Kathe left us some material to read that included these precious words of wisdom for dads:


During transition it's important that the father, as well as other birth attendants, be supportive of the mother. The Huichol Indians of Mexico had a tradition in which the father squatted in the rafters above the mother with ropes attached to his scrotum. When the mother had contractions, she pulled on the ropes so that the father shared the overwhelming sensations she was experiencing.


Are you kidding me? Whatever happened to the stork delivery? Can we still sign up for that? Is there a watermelon patch nearby?


Where's the daddy epidural?

Baby B checks out before checking in

Last Tuesday was our latest midwife appointment. All lights are green for Baby B! Much to Amy's chagrin, Kathe (our midwife) told us that the baby has much more room to grow in the uterus.


Ack. Ouch. Ugh. Sigh.


Baby B is probably around 5 to 5 ½ pounds and upwards of 18 inches long. Room to grow?


Ack. Ouch. Ugh. Sigh.


Heart rate is still a steady 140 beats per minute and B is even more active than ever. Very responsive to our voices and touch, although shy with others touching the belly.


Kathe called me an empathetic partner (a good thing) experiencing couvade syndrome. And I thought I had to pee a lot because I was getting older.


Wink.

The letter B: Daddy K’s laptop lament

Dear Baby B,

It's been a busy week and I didn't make time to blog. (I made time to talk to you and read to you, though!) I could have, one can always make time for things, but I didn't. No B, it's been another busy week in the glamorous world of hi-tech marketing and public relations – many new clients coming onboard soon. It's also been a busy baby week since last week's shower. What did you think of all those different vibes?


For the past month I've been experiencing computer problems, hi-tech hiccups that impact performance dramatically. And yesterday the blue screen of death as they affectionately call it (who's they, B?) hit me four times in less than two hours. You could say I was concerned.


But not stressed. In fact, I took the opportunity to reflect, call my folks and my nephew, and daydream of a life with you and Mama A. (Of course I had my hand iPhone to check e-mail and such. Who needs business productivity software when I've got the PhoneSaber?)


Not sure what I'll need to do with my laptop yet. However, I'm sure about love, forgiveness and acceptance.


What the heck does my computer problems have to do with love and forgiveness and acceptance? Work with me here, B.


I'm listening to a podcast from This American Life (a public radio series I highly recommend – if it's still around when you're old enough) about two babies switched at birth, and 43 years later the truth of what happens comes out and it's pretty heavy for both families (who knew each other).


The catch is that one of the mothers knew they took the wrong baby home, brought it to her husband's attention, an evangelical minister, and he told her that they shouldn't say anything as to not to disgrace their doctor.


Granted It was 1951, but still hard to believe. Forty-three years later when the truth was told, it was devastating for both families. I'm still listening to it so I don't know the conclusion yet and where the families are now.


Can you imagine? And what about our perception of the facts as presented to the listeners of the show? The show does do a really good job of revealing both sides of the stories, but stories, like us, are more multi-faceted than two-sided, so it's difficult to judge indiscriminately. Plus the fact we can be selfish in our evaluation of others, how we see them aligns with our world view and how close the person is to us. We delude ourselves into thinking our way is the only way (yes, we're guilty as well).


Your mama and I have been seen in different light over the years, and while it used to bother me more than it should, it fascinates me now. One of us controls the other, we don't' like each other's friends or family, we're selfish for not having children, we're selfish for having children, we're arrogant because we're happy - blah, blah, blah.


It's flatulent garbage that comes from the fear of the way we've chosen to live our lives – happy and direct and true to our hearts without secret or shame. We're a team and always have been. I've made mistakes just as she has and we're going to make them as parents as well.


However, there will be no switched-at-birth secrets for us, B. But you already know that, because that's why you're on your way. God's will is to be responsible and heal the heart and home, not to surrender and feed the fear and the foolhardy. It took a long time for me to get here, but I'm glad your mama waited for me by the sea...


That which you manifest is before you. You reap what you sow. Be mindful of each moment lived within and without. Not everyone has the emotional or spiritual capacity to feel these; there are multi-faceted reasons we'll never understand.


So B, after you strip away the day from a busy week and a broken laptop all you have left is love, forgiveness and acceptance.


I love you and will see you soon!


Daddy K


--


Well I guess we all have these feelings

We can't leave unreconciled

Some of them burned on our ceilings

Some of them learned as a child


The things that we're concealing

Will never let us grow

Time will do its healing

You've got to let it go


I find no absolution

In my rational point of view

Maybe some things are instinctive

But there's one thing you could do

You could try to understand me --

I could try to understand you...


--Neil Peart

Sunday, August 3, 2008

It’s death and taxes, says Daddy K

Seeing my cousin Sherri yesterday at the baby shower prompted me to reminisce with her about the good ol' days when we were children, getting together almost every Easter and 4th of July with the extended family, and always on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Regardless of family feuding or daily dysfunctional, most of us were good Christian folk that enjoyed the coming together.


And then we grew up. The end.


Seriously, when I started college was one of the last times any semblance of extended family got together for a holiday. Sociologists, theologians and cultural anthropologists could give me explanations as to why these familial shifts and rifts occur, but it's the Sabbath and I really don't want to do any research today.


No, today I only want to speak colloquially writing. One thing that's been clear over the years is the fact that the social glue that holds families together is maternal. It may be paternal world when it comes to running it, but it's the Mama Bear who keeps the family together. Or not.


Men for the most part don't keep the home fires burning. Most of the time they're focused on protecting and providing for the family (or sadly not) – but not about sending the birthday cards or organizing the play dates or planning the holiday parties or running the day-to-day family operations or nurturing the broader bonds of family and friends. Women have the vision and heart for unity and longevity. Why aren't there more women CEO's or heads of state?


These are of course generalizations but there is a lot of truth to families sticking together because of the women around the world. I harbor no ill will against my extended family of lore, but yet the last time I saw most of my cousins and their families in one setting was my grandmother's funeral years ago. Before that it was my aunt's funeral.


Death and taxes, eh guys? And we wonder why we die younger and alone more often than women (besides other factors of course).


Mama A and Baby B will get more from me, though. That's for sure.

Mama A is almost abducted; Daddy K has bay-dar

Is that a UFO landing behind Mama A and her niece Kimberly? Are the aliens abducting them?

No, it's one of the rides at this year's Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival at Watsonville. We went down to Target to buy some Baby B stuff and then walked over to the festival. It's the first time we've attended it since we've lived in Santa Cruz and it's about time. You can never eat enough strawberries and the Olympic athletes will be enjoying Watsonville strawberries as well. In fact until this year virtually no American produce has been imported by the Chinese as a result of long-standing trade barriers set up to protect local markets.


We need more strawberry shortcake to break down walls – and the The Art of Peace CD coming out this week. Olympics start in just four days!


We walked around the games first at the festival, and carnies rule. But what's the deal with the 10 different (yet the same) dart games? Throwing darts at balloons can be fun, but why so many when you've got tons of kids running around? Kids and darts don't mix.


Then we were off to all the food booths and funnel cake and strawberry shortcake were on the agenda. Good times.


As we get closer and closer to Baby B's arrival, my bay-dar cranks up even higher, and I find myself an alien anthropologist watching all the parents interact with their children. Someday we'll be taking B to all these fun local gigs and I'm trying to imagine what it'll be like.


So I Tweeted (which doesn't mean I tooted) we were at the strawberry festival. And lo, I received this reply, "Where are you?"


It was none other than one of my savvy PR team members – Adriana, her husband Scott and little boy Caleb.


Bay-dar enhanced by tweeting and pre-mindful parenting. Who knows where Web 2.0 will go.


Happy Birthday, Kimberly!

Well, it’s what you do to a Search – Baby B thinks Pooh is brilliant

As if we didn't have enough fun last weekend at the first shower with the Fisher Vista gals, this weekend was the big family/friends shower. And my oh my, was it a humdinger. Thank you Nancy for organdizing it all. We truly appreciate it!

Amy's sister's family came to visit, her Mother, other family friends and most of her dearest friends. My cousin Sherri came who we haven't seen for a few years. Such a pleasant surprise! Sadly my parents couldn't attend; the trek from Oregon takes its toll these days and will come down again after the baby's born (and we plan on going there for Christmas). But we did talk to them virtually via Skype and a web-cam. After busting my Dad's chops he finally got the web-cam set up so they can talk to Baby B when it comes and Baby B can see its grandfolk. In fact, any of our family and friends who live far away can get set up virtually as well – I'd be happy to help.


Good times ensued. Lots more fun games for the ladies (with their unadulterated chatter – mercy! – check out the video), but this time there were more guys who needed to do guy things out in the backyard where only guys roam and roar. Sweet. Playing ninja-army-warrior battle and then running through the sprinklers makes us complete men. Roar.


Whether you attended our showers or not, we know many who struggle in today's harsh financial climate. We can't tell you enough how much we appreciate your generous gifts, thoughts, blessings and prayers.


Stephanie's gift was especially poignant – it consisted of a bag full of rocks and crystals, and a lovely moon box, and each one of us picked out a rock/crystal, shared a blessing for Baby B, and then placed it in the moon box. Jill made us a baby blanket, spit rags (can't have enough of those I've been told), and classic Winnie the Pooh wall hangings. Nothing finer than handmade gifts.


Man, love that Pooh. Brilliant.


"Now," said Rabbit, "this is a Search, and I've Organized it –"


"Done what to it?" said Pooh.


"Organized it. Which means – well, it's what you do to a Search, when you don't all look in the same place at once. So I want you, Pooh, to search by the Six Pine Trees first, and then work your way towards Owl's house, and look out for me there. Do you see?"


"No," said Pooh. "What –"


"Then I'll see you at Owl's House in about an hour's time."


"Is Piglet organdized too?"


"We all are," said Rabbit, and off he went.


John 15:12

This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.


Amen.