February 2008


FROGS!

To celebrate Leap Day, Emma and I went in to the city with Mike via Metro and went to the National Geographic Museum just around the corner from his office on 15th Street between L and M. They have a special exhibit on frogs right now (running until May 11!) and were having extra-special froggy goodness today. Get it? Leap day, frogs…?

Admission was free and the place was surprisingly appropriate for different ages. I wasn’t sure Emma would enjoy herself very much, but it was one of those “have-to-get-out-of-the-house-or-die” days, so I took a chance. As you can tell by the photo, the giant photos of frogs were the highlight of her day – and certainly more fun than the ACTUAL frogs. Luckily there were enough pictures to keep her fascinated for a good hour.

The exhibit is in a small area, but they do a great job of packing in lots of information. The tanks with the live frogs are large and fun to look at. Most of the frogs were of the camouflaging sort, so there was no way Emma could even find them. The tiny dart poison frogs (which look plastic until they start to move) and the huge pollywogs got her attention though. There is one kiosk that creates a chorus of frog sounds when you press on the large buttons and in the middle of the floor are more pictures of frogs along with measurements to show you how far they can jump – and encouraging words to see if you can match it. Emma hasn’t quite perfected her leap yet, but had a lot of fun watching other kids try.

It can be tough to make a museum or exhibit appeal to the under-1 crowd and the over-5 crowd (and everyone in between) all at the same time, but National Geographic succeeded with this one I think. At one point I saw a mother holding her approximately 9 month old son up to the dart poison frogs, and as he laughed his head off, her just about 4 year old was talking to her about how many frogs there were in the tank. Pretty impressive.

After the museum we joined Mike for lunch at the National Education Association cafeteria just around the corner at 16th and M. The NEA cafeteria is open to all, has a great selection of affordable food, and a wonderful open seating area in an atrium where no one can hear, for example, a tired little girl complaining when she is finished with lunch. Just don’t get me started on the fact that the cafeteria is non-union …oh well, I guess nothing is perfect.

Happy Leap Day!

I used to wonder, before I had a child, how parents knew how to make decisions like when to start a child in preschool or whether to skip a grade if a child’s school recommended it. What gave a parent the ability to make decisions like this?

Monday I picked Emma up at daycare. She was as happy as I have ever seen her. It was 5:30. On the days I am home with her I usually have to break out the baby carrier to keep her from total and complete meltdown when 5:30 hits. On Monday she was happy all the way home from daycare and it really wasn’t until dinner was almost over that she got cranky, and it was a cranky that was completely understandable since she only slept for 40 minutes at daycare.

It made me think that maybe we need to figure out how to get her more time at daycare, and maybe look into enrolling her in an “early 2’s” preschool in the fall (since she won’t be two until December.) I am convinced that her good mood was a result of spending time with other people who are not me. Which is not meant to be an “oh-poor-me” statement – I am thrilled that she enjoys people and doesn’t seem to suffer much from separation anxiety. And I can only imagine that spending most of her time with me could get a little old.

No doubt when the weather gets warmer and we can get out and do more, life will become a little less boring, but it is the hubbub of a group of people that Emma seems to especially like. It seems so clear that an extra day at daycare or a couple of mornings at preschool in the fall might really be good for her.

All of a sudden those decisions that overwhelmed me before having a baby seem much more simple.

Liza Sabater just posted over on Personal Democracy Forum’s Tech President about Dear Senator Hillary Clinton, Please Step Down — a post written a few days ago by mommy blogger Erin Kotecki Vest, on her blog Queen of Spain.

My response to this is twofold – the letter to Senator Clinton is a heartfelt and well thought out argument for why the Democratic party and the country need Senator Clinton to end her run for President. Go read it. Right now. Seriously, go. Clearly I am an Obama supporter, but I have felt ambivalent/conflicted/sad that I am not more excited about the first viable woman candidate for President (even while I have been annoyed that so many think I should support her just because we have the same body parts). Erin’s letter puts into words how I have felt about Senator Clinton since she first got into the race.

Liza’s post at Tech President makes some great points about the power of mommy bloggers. The “Step Down Hillary” post has 146 comments and counting — many from mommy bloggers who are paying attention to the candidates but aren’t seeing that favor returned — and its popularity and the traffic it has generated on Digg has completely overwhelmed the Queen of Spain’s hosting company.

Blogher has been trying for months to get the Presidential candidates to sit down for interviews, to share their views with the 7.6 million women in the Blogher network. As far as I can tell, they still have not had any success. Which blows my mind. 7.6 million people. Voters. Right here, waiting for the candidates to come tell us why we should vote for them. Erin’s letter and Liza’s post make it clear why political campaigns and consultants need to start paying attention to mommy bloggers.

And now that there seems to be at least a burst of interest in us and what we have to say about this election, kudos to Erin for saying what so many of us have been thinking. We are a demographic that is paying attention, we are politically savvy, and we have a lot to say.

This chair is juust right
Something_orange
For today’s Some/Thing theme, Something Borrowed — in honor of Freedom to Marry Week — I give you a picture of Emma and a chair that my grandmother, Emma’s great-grandmother, first got when she was a small girl. My Uncle Tim and Gram colluded to give this to Emma for Christmas this year and while she is a little young to fully appreciate it, I am moved by it every time I look at it. We don’t let her sit it on, since we would like it to last beyond Emma’s childhood, but it sits in her room providing respite for various and sundry stuffed animals. I love seeing the chair in her room, it makes me feel connected to the generations that went before me and the ones that will come after.

This week is the 11th Annual Freedom to Marry Week. In support, The Other Mother has asked bloggers to post on the themes something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue throughout the week. Today is something new. (Thanks to Doodaddy for letting me know about this, who heard about it from an amazing and powerful post by LesbianDad, who heard about it from The Other Mother.)

Today also happens to be Mike’s and my anniversary. Which is really quite ironic, as I will explain.

Mike and I almost didn’t get married. There were various reasons we weren’t interested in nuptials, but the biggest was that we were, and are, disgusted by the lack of equality in marriage in our society, and we felt strongly about not getting married until our gay friends could. We also felt strongly that our relationship was our business and a little piece of paper from the state wasn’t going to make it any more “legitimate”, and it sure wouldn’t protect us from the fate of just over 50% of all relationships the state labels “official”. So thanks but no thanks, not for us.

Then we bought a house together, and started talking about having kids, and we were suddenly faced with the same legal issues our partnered, and parenting, gay friends deal with all the time. At that point I didn’t even know that there are 1,138 legal rights accorded married couples that non-married couples do not enjoy. I just knew it didn’t make sense that as a non-married couple Mike and I, and all of our gay friends, had so many more hoops to jump through if we were even allowed to jump at all.

We talked about this issue with our friends, gay and straight, and several of our gay friends told us they thought we should get married. They told us if they could, they sure as hell would. Still we resisted. Finally, we decided three days before a business-trip-turned-vacation to the US Virgin Islands that we should just go ahead and do it. But, we told ourselves, we wouldn’t tell anyone. We didn’t want a big deal made of it and, frankly, we were a little ashamed. We felt completely guilty that it was so easy for us and so difficult for some. So even though it didn’t solve anything, we would just pretend it hadn’t happen.

So we got married on this day two years ago, on a beach in St. John. And it was very nice and we didn’t tell anyone. But then we got pregnant a few months later, and realized we hadn’t really thought our plan through to the end. We suspected that our families would be upset at the idea of us having a baby without being married, and we were right. Although they didn’t put it this way, they were upset for precisely for the same reasons we are upset that our gay friends can’t marry when they have kids. Because, like it or not, in our society, marriage affords a protection to the family unit that being unmarried does not.

So, long story short (too late!), we told them. And there was great rejoicing.

And so, it is ironic that the anniversary of our non-wedding is the same week as Freedom to Marry Week. Actually I don’t really know if it is ironic or appropriate or nothing at all or what. I do know that Mike and I still feel chagrined that our family is protected in ways that other families aren’t. Until they are, we will keep trying to make some change by voting for folks who can make a difference and supporting our gay friends and their families and making sure the issue doesn’t go away.

Emma is fired UP.

So for the something new theme today I give you a picture of Emma holding her first political sign. Here’s hoping that we are entering an era of new hope and new equality and that our politicians will do their job. Maybe by the time Emma decides to become someone’s partner and have a family of her own, everyone will have the chance for equal protection under the law.

To learn more about why equal rights are so important, especially in emergencies, go here, and to learn what you can do to help, go here.

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