Friday, December 17, 2010

Parenting Artifacts: Hooters

Much like anthropologist Jane Goodall immersed herself into the world of the gorillas, Amanda and I are becoming a part of parent culture. Along the way, like all social scientists, we are discovering the many strange and unique tools specific to this exotic culture. Here is a sample of one of our preliminary findings.
 

I have never been to a Hooters restaurant.  My assumption has always been that it is a restaurant chain marketed as a more acceptable alternative to the strip clubs their customers would prefer to frequent.  Nudity is replaced with the tight and revealing Hooter’s uniform and lap dances are not on the menu, but I imagine these are small sacrifices for less social stigma, a full menu, and a familiar, friendly Applebees’ like atmosphere.  Plus, patrons can use the frequently heard excuse, "I only go to Hooters because they have the best 'wings'." Translate: wings are to Hooters as articles are to Playboy.

I have recently learned that my assumption about Hooters and their marketing was far from accurate.  Through a Facebook posting of an acquaintance, which included a photograph of her and her embarrassed, preteen son at Hooters, I discovered – to my surprise – that the restaurant actually markets itself as a family dining establishment.  There is a kid’s menu, and several of the restaurants have “Kid’s eat free!” days.  Perfect if you are sexist and cheap.

The Internet is full of photographs and written accounts of family (and school!) outings to Hooters.  My favorite is a blog entry by a father who used a trip to Hooters as a tool to measure his adolescent son’s emerging interest in the opposite sex, and whether or not the time had come for him and his son to have another talk about the birds and bees.  Though I question the appropriateness of using a restaurant whose name is a slang term as the best starting point for sex education (and next you put your wee-wee in her hoo-ha), I do admit there are many interesting discussions the restaurant can stimulate between a parent and child such as: the objectification of women, displays of masculinity, tackiness, and why there isn’t a restaurant named Dicks?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Space Monkey's Halloween Adventure


This is technically Ezra’s second Halloween.  Since he was only three weeks old last Halloween, we sat his first year out.  Busy with being brand new parents, we did not have time to think about costumes, parties, pumpkins, and treats (let alone tricks!).  Ezra will probably find it disappointing that we deprived him of an entire year of Halloween festivities.  As we discovered this year, he loves everything about the holiday: the scary decorations, the parties, visiting a pumpkin patch, selecting his own gourd, and especially wearing his costume which garnered him even more attention than usual. 

Ezra dressed as

the famed Soviet [monkey] astronaut, Dryoma.  Dryoma, with his (or possibly her – I could find no clarification) pal Yerosha, traveled to space in 1987 as part of the Bion space program (Бион).  Aboard the Bion 8 biosatellite, the two rhesus monkeys spent 2 weeks in space


where Dryoma defended his ship from hostile aliens,


and befriended other alien species with Tang and crackers.

Once they safely returned to the USSR, Yerosha, a life long military monkey, returned to his work as an astronaut.  Dryoma embraced his new found celebrity, and enjoyed a fast, life of parties, booze and women.
Eventually he was ready for something different so he retired to Cuba.  The Soviet Union presented Dryoma as a gift to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and the two primates quickly became best friends.

Fidel and Dryoma became inseparable.  They especially enjoyed weekend camping expeditions in their VW bus.
Together they grew old, and happily met each others' needs.  Dryoma would light Fidel’s cigars,
and Fidel would lovingly breast feed his monkey to sleep every night keeping his beloved friend healthy and happy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ezra's First Birthday Party: The Party

Ezra’s birthday party took weeks of preparation.  I am bringing up this point, not as a complaint or as an act of self-congratulations, but to acknowledge the fact that Amanda and I are crazy – like Martha Stewart crazy.  This is how our conversations sounded the entire month leading up to Ezra’s birthday: “Sorry, I don’t have time to meet you for coffee.  I need to rush home and decoupage the paper mache birds I constructed last night as party decorations so that I can start the quilt I’m sewing as a birthday gift.  Did you know how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract?  I hope it is ready in time to use in the cinnamon ice cream I’m planning to serve with the birthday cake.”


Ezra helping to shred paper for the paper mache birds (I wasn't exaggerating, and Ezra is not immune to our craziness).

The reason I describe our mania as crazy rather than ambitious, extravagant, or even eccentric is that the entire time we were debating the party’s color scheme we were also fully acknowledging that Ezra would not remember anything about his first birthday.   So, why did it matter?  Our motive for all the work was never to give Ezra magazine quality perfection.  The party was an excuse to cook, create fun crafts, and entertain - all activities we have had less time to do as new parents.

And, who knows maybe Ezra will remember his first birthday party.  Thinking about my own first memories has made me realize this is probably not likely.  In fact, he will most likely not remember anything from his first year, second year, and little if anything from his third year of life.  Yet, I also realize that because of technology, Ezra’s relationship with his own history will be different than my own.  Digital cameras, video recorders, and the Internet have all changed the way memories are “preserved” as well as the quantity of moments that are captured. Hundreds of photos are now easily and inexpensively taken at a child’s first birthday party with a digital camera.  My first birthday, shot on film, is captured with handful of photographs.  My eyes are probably closed in all of them.

As an adult, Ezra will be able to look back at the thousands of photographs taken this year alone, listen to Amanda and I share our stories about his early life, and even read this blog to piece together his early biography.  As a parent, I realize how much control I have in shaping the “memories” Ezra will have of this part of his life.  The photographs we share and the stories we tell will help determine his perception of his first years.  We decide for example whether to photograph Ezra when he is happily playing or when he is upset.  We can choose to write only about his embarrassments or his triumphs.  We hope the version of Ezra’s life we are documenting is closer to nonfiction than fiction –not too biased or edited, and perhaps one day he will come across something that triggers a real memory. Regardless of whether or not that memory is of his first birthday party, we hope his party was a special day that will be remembered fondly by all of the party’s guests, Amanda and me.
 The autumn portion of the decorations.
Garry inviting guests to share their first memories.

 Mingling before dinner.

First birthday wish.

 Unwrapping gifts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ezra's First Birthday Party: The Menu (with recipes!)

A first birthday party is a major event!  Well, at least it is for new parents . . . or, at least for new parents who like to plan parties.   Admitting that Ezra's first birthday was probably a bigger deal for us and our immediate family than anyone else - especially Ezra - we decided on a smallish dinner party as an appropriate way to celebrate.  When planning the menu, we used the same theme as the invitations and decorations, the four seasons (spring, winter, fall & summer - not Frankie Valli's band), as inspiration.  We found and created several delicious recipes for the occasion.

Spring
For spring we served an asparagus, leek and green pea risotto alla primavera cooked with a white wine and hours of stirring (thanks, Jessie).

Summer
We decided crisp, raw vegetables seemed the most like summer so we served our "house" salad.  After repeatedly serving this combination of greens, radishes, sunflower seeds, grape tomatoes, sprouts (grown in our pantry), and carrots with a roasted tomato vinaigrette, we have declared it our signature green salad.

Autumn
Originally, we planned to serve a different pizza for each season, varying the toppings according to the time of year.  Autumn is the only pizza that survived.  On a homemade crust, we spread roasted butternut squash topped with mozzarella, Parmesan and fontina cheeses, caramelized onions, toasted pecans and a sage butter sauce.

Winter
For winter, we wanted something that seemed like warm, comfort food.  We settled on a simple cheese lasagna with homemade noodles and a red wine sauce.

Cake
Since Ezra's first year of eating could mostly be summed as "milk, milk, milk," the most appropriate choice seemed a tres leches (three milk) cake.  We paired this delicious cake with homemade cinnamon ice cream (neither of which, our guests will be happy to know, used breast milk).

After tasting cake for the first time, Ezra agreed that birthdays are a big deal and can't wait to turn two!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ezra's First Birthday Party: The Invitations

For Ezra's first birthday, we thought the four seasons seemed an appropriate theme since Ezra had experienced each for his first time.  Below are the invitations I made for the party.  They included a card for each season and a card with the party's details.





Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Public Radio Interview

As an art curator, part of my job includes speaking with the press about The Kinsey Institute's most recent exhibitions, and I have become accustomed to print journalists being liberal with what they include as a direct quote.  For example, I do not think "[t]he penis is a very popular joke," is exactly what I said during an interview.  Though audio interviews greatly reduce the risk of being misquoted since the words are heard coming directly from your mouth, a whole different level of discomfort is created.  "Did I really say that?" is replaced with, "do I really sound like that?"  Your personal version of your own voice, the one you hear in your head, never quite matches the voice people hear coming from your mouth.

Artworks, a local public radio program, has started covering our exhibits at The Kinsey Institute.  I have now been included in three of these interviews.  Though I am still uncomfortable with my voice, I am pleased with the quality of the interviews.  I especially enjoyed the most recent piece by Yaël Ksander covering our current exhibit Nature & Nurture

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The True Story of How Babies are Made

One of my first exhibits as a curator at The Kinsey Institute focused on materials created to educate,  inform, and sometimes entertain their audience while providing information about sexual health and reproduction.  The exhibit, Sex Ed, included an eclectic mix of objects such as public service posters, fetal development models, educations films, marriage manuals, Japanese pillow books, birth control devices, and sex toys.  My favorite items were the children’s books.  These books were written throughout the 20th century to help parents explain the facts of life to their children.  Some books were more informative than others, but none were as straight forward and to the point as Danish author and illustrator Per Holm Knudsen's The True Story of How Babies are Made.  Published in 1973, the book clearly explains conception . . .

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pregnancy Watchers, Revisited

Becoming a parent has made me care more about certain things than I would like to admit.  For example, I just excitedly looked up the tour dates of the Yo Gabba Gabba concert.  Yet, I am still more comfortable with this new love of children’s programming than my interest in something I previously had little concern for: other people’s reproductive plans.

Early in Amanda’s pregnancy I wrote a blog entry on pregnancy watchers, people obsessed with knowing when other people are procreating.  I always found this odd.  Why did people have so much invested in other people’s personal lives?  A year later, Amanda and I are embarrassed to admit how we have become those people.  We are constantly speculating that someone is pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or even planning to eventually have children.

Being new to the sport of pregnancy spotting, we are making terrible amateur mistakes.  Amanda made the biggest of all by asking a friend if she was pregnant.  The woman was not (and did not look pregnant), but I am sure she is now paranoid whenever she wears the dress she was wearing that night. I thought that was a faux pas only men made, but Amanda was so excited at the possibility that she might be pregnant she could not help herself.  I am so determined to not make that mistake that I may also be damaging friendships.  On a recent walk, Piper, Ezra and I ran into one of the few couples in Stinesville we know.  The couple asked all about Ezra, and I think a polite response would have included asking when their baby was due.  I am 99% sure the woman is pregnant.  Not just a little, but like 7-8 months, obviously pregnant.  I did not acknowledge this on the very off chance I was wrong.  I would find it helpful if more pregnant women would wear “baby on board” shirts.

 There are so many tee shirts to select from!

I am unsure how or why my interest in people having children came about.  One might speculate that I became a parent, discovered the joy of having a child of my own, and wanted to start convincing others to join in the fun.  I am pretty sure that is not the case.  I have no desire to convince someone to have offspring.  My interest only lies in people who have clearly stated their wish to have children - especially those related to us.  We received no pressure from our family to have children and were grateful for their respectfulness.  I do not feel so generous.  Amanda has three siblings and two of them have said they wish to have children soon.  I feel like a hypocrite now pressuring them, but hurry up! – Ezra wants a cousin.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nature & Nurture at The Kinsey Institute Gallery

For years, my co-worker Catherine and I have been planning to eventually curate an exhibit dealing with human reproduction.  We do work at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, and every show can’t be about sex. 

When Ezra started coming to work with me, he motivated us to finally move forward with the exhibit.  The result, Nature & Nurture, is now open at The Kinsey Institute Gallery.

Niki Grangruth 
Our Lady with Child and Stuffed Animal from The New Madonnas series, 2009;
The Kinsey Institute Permanent Collection

The long overdue Nature & Nurture explores pregnancy, birth, child rearing, development of gender identity, and parent-child relationships through fine art photographs, paintings, prints, sculptures, and books.

The exhibit is open to the public Monday-Friday, 2-4 pm or by appointment from September 10 through December 22.

Growing Roots in Bloomington: Making This College Town My Home

While writing a recent blog, Celebrating Love and Home, I spent some time counting on my fingers trying to recall how many years had passed since Garry and I first met, how long we had been together and so on.  In doing so, I realized it’s almost 17 years to the day that I first moved to Bloomington as an incoming freshman at Indiana University.  Wow, I’ve been here a long time!

In the intervening years between then and now, Garry and I have lived in Bloomington for 14 of those years. One would think I have long considered myself a Bloomingtonian.  Hardly! Until very recently, I’ve always thought of my residence in Bloomington as temporary.  This might be explained by the fact that most of those 14 years either one or both of us have been enrolled at IU.  Most of the time we’ve lived in rental properties – too many! Bloomington also has a large transient population and many of our friends have moved on. Regardless, I’ve always lived here with the intention of GETTING OUT.

It’s of course obvious to me now that our tenure in Bloomington has been anything but temporary. Having abandoned a PhD program and given birth to my son in the past year makes my life in Bloomington seem ever more permanent.  It need not be, but I realize Bloomington is a good place to call home. And I’m beginning to feel that it’s something more than that.

I’ve always been stumped by the question “Where are you from?”  Well, let’s see … I was born in a city my parents didn’t live in, and I’ve lived in X, Y and Z. By the time I was 12, I had lived in five cities … though to be fair I was really too young to remember two of them. By the time I moved out of my parent’s house, the longest I had lived anywhere was six years. Consequently, the idea of a “hometown” has always held little meaning for me, and I’ve never felt strong emotional ties to any one place.  But I feel tied to Bloomington. Tied to the topography of Southern Indiana. To the flora of the area and Midwest seasonality.

It’s hard to leave Bloomington for many reasons. From our food coop and daycare coop, to the community farmer’s market and university, Bloomington is a great place to live. Cultural events, art and music abound. And though many residents will complain about the influx of students, they add a vibrancy and energy that would be missing from any other similarly sized city.


Ezra and I at the Fourth Street Festival

The likelihood that we leave Bloomington seems to be rapidly diminishing. I hold out that one day we may move (how’s that for a qualified statement?), but we have no immediate plans to do so, and so I realize we really are establishing ourselves here. I realize too by choosing to set down roots in Bloomington, I’m creating a different life for Ezra than the one I had. And that’s okay. Ezra will one day have his own list of Bloomington favorites (I hope it includes Rhino’s!), but in the meantime here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Barefoot Kids (and its online store The Green Nursery)
Bleeding Heartland Rollergirls
Bloomingfoods
Bloomington Area Birth Services
Bloomington Community Farmers' Market
Bloomington Community Orchard
Bloomington Restorations Inc.
Boxcar Books
BLU Boy
Café Django
Charles Deam Wilderness area
Green’s Bluff Nature Preserve
Kid Kazooey
Landlocked Music
Laughing Planet
Lotus Festival (the free events)
Monroe County Public Library
Max’s Place
McCormick’s Creek State Park
Runcible Spoon
Soma
Upland

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Attached


“Does he ever cry?” is a question that is often asked after someone has spent an extended amount of time with Ezra.  Many of my co-workers will claim Ezra did not cry once the entire 5 months he spent with me at my office. The intern who shared my office during Ezra’s tenure would roll her eyes at such comments, and invite people to stop by around 2 pm – Ezra’s cranky time. His reputation was certainly enhanced by my office being located on a different floor than 99% of my co-workers, but in general his standing as one of the world’s best natured babies was deserved.  He would contentedly play on the floor during two-hour meetings; smile upon meeting a new stranger; and quietly and observantly hang out in a baby carrier as I went about my workday.

Does he ever cry? The answer is yes.  He does cry; he becomes fussy; he whines; and as he enters toddlerhood he has begun to throw temper tantrums, but these are rare emotions.  When he does cry it is almost always short lived (with the exception of a few bad days at daycare) and quickly solved. So what are we doing “right” to have such a content and happy child? 

We, of course, cannot dismiss his natural personality.  He is a happy, easy-going fellow.  Apparently, some odd mixture of genetics made Ezra nothing like Amanda or me.  We realize we are fortunate and often wonder if it is unwise to push our luck by having a second child, but remind ourselves his personality cannot be 100% shaped by nature.  We like to think that nurture, in the form of several of our parenting choices, has played at least a minor role in Ezra’s behavior.

I do not want to give the impression that we believe we have found solutions to the challenges parents have been struggling with since the beginning of mankind – or more accurately babykind.  My guess is after his first question, “What was in that apple?,”  Adam’s second question to Eve was “how do we get those twins to sleep through the night?”   What we have personally found is that bed sharing, breastfeeding, baby wearing, meeting Ezra’s needs including sleeping and eating on demand rather than on a schedule, and having Ezra physically with us as much as possible helped Ezra to be a happy infant.

We came to the decision to use each of these techniques independently – influenced by our own intuition, our birthing class, our friends, and our community.  As we began to research these separately, we learned that collectively all of these techniques are tools often employed by Attachment Parents.  Our indirect path to Attachment Parenting actually makes sense considering that the ideals established by its advocate, Dr. William Sears, were based on what he believes parents intuitively would do if not for social pressures. 

To many people, the idea of encouraging intuitive parenting sounds synonymous to encouraging wild, feral parenting.  This is especially true in our culture.  Our culture emphasizes self-control, discipline and the ideal of an independent infant.  Parents are taught to remain vigilant to avoid the ultimate in parenting failure:  a spoiled child.  Previous generations were taught to prevent this mistake with the reminder to never “spare the rod.”  Our society no longer advocates physical abuse, but the pressure to use methods that feel uncomfortable to many parents are still strongly encouraged for “the child’s own good. ”  The best example of this is methods that promote “self-soothing” to foster the illusion of an independent infant.  

Dr. Sears points out what seems obvious to anyone in the presence of a newborn.  They are dependent. He points out that parents want to pick up their fussy child, but fight this instinct because they are told such actions will lead the child to being dependent upon their parents for comfort.  Sears believes the opposite to be true.  Showing your child that they can depend on you helps them to build confidence.  Children express their needs through their limited ability to communicate.  They are not naturally manipulative.  Not responding to his or her cries teaches them to stop crying.  They have not become more independent.  They just surrender to their inability to communicate with their caregiver.  

Though I sound like an evangelist for Attachment Parenting, when asked if we follow a parenting philosophy I am still reluctant to use this label to describe Amanda and me. I had always felt like subscribing to a single set of parenting principles seemed naïve, trendy, and simplistic. I still believe parenting is more complex than finding the right instruction manual. Personalities and lifestyles of individual parents as well as those of individual infants vary greatly requiring different needs and approaches.  As Ezra moves away from his infant days and towards his time as a toddler his needs have shifted.  We find our approach to parenting is also evolving, but I have hard time denying that we have so far been practicing Attachment Parenting (even if accidentally).  

As an unintentional spokesperson for this form of parenting I do admit that it seems to be working well. Ezra is confident, adventurous, happy, outgoing, inquisitive, and healthy.  In addition, Attachment Parenting has made incorporating Ezra into our lives without too much disruption easier.  Since we have always emphasized routine rather than a strict schedule, Ezra is pretty flexible when he naps or has a meal.   Since Ezra feels his “home” is with us, he is pretty comfortable in new surroundings, and traveling is easy since we do not have or need a stroller, portable crib and all the accessories that require the investment in a minivan.

I recently met a mother with two sons, now 12 and 16.  Both boys were raised as attachment kids. She has a great relationship with her now teen-age children whom she describes as well adjusted, confident, happy, and independent people.  Traits all parents, including this mother, Amanda and I, hope our children will possess.  Though these traits do have one (admittedly selfish) downside, she points out.  Her 16 year old who is now away for school is already so self-sufficient that she rarely hears from him.  The attachment kid eventually detaches and turns into an independent adult.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Letter to Ezra at 11 months

Dear Ezra,

You’ve changed remarkably since I wrote my last letterWhat a difference four weeks can make!  For starters, you now have TWO teeth!


You can do so much more with two teeth than just one.





You’re still quite the dairy-guy and love mama’s milk, yogurt and cheese.  You’re quite fond of Cheerios, crackers and bread too.  But, you also have a preference for strong flavors; you liked our Pad Thai and Eggplant Parmesan, roasted Brussels sprouts and curry-spiced carrot soup.  And we don’t have to worry about an iron or protein deficiency as you will happily eat black beans, tofu and hummus. Oddly enough, you’ve refused our home-cooked macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.

You’re spending more time playing with blocks.


It’s been fun to watch you study their dimensions, stack them or put your other toys inside of them. You’ve just started doing these things and when you stack three blocks together or put a toy inside a block you have a big smile of accomplishment and pleasure on your face.  What a new, fun thing you’ve found to do!  You also enjoy passing your toys back and forth with your father and me and moving your blocks from one container to another.

Some of your favorite activities and interests include swinging,


balloons, 

playing with balls,
 

getting your teeth brushed, and being read to.  You still love Peek A Who, but also enjoy hearing many other books from your library.


Every evening before bedtime, we go on a family walk – you, your father, Piper and I.  It’s a pleasant, quiet time for us to talk about our day and for you to calm down before going to sleep. Whether you are playing quietly or noisily, sleeping peacefully or fitfully tossing and turning through the night, I love you completely.

Your first birthday is right around the corner, and I am so excited!  We’ve sent invitations, we’ve ordered your present and decided on a cake. We’re getting closer to ready and so are you. Now, when you wear a shirt and pants you look just like a little boy!

Love,
Your mom

Friday, August 27, 2010

Coincidentally

Amanda has always been obsessed with spotting coincidences in her daily life.  Just recently, her co-worker mentioned the name of a fictitious scientist just after Amanda learned of his “existence” from a novel she had just finished reading.

Since Ezra has been enjoying the oeuvre of They Might Be Giants, one of our favorite albums from our college years has been on heavy rotation. “It’s a brand new record for 1990; They Might be Giants' brand new album: Flood,” the CD begins. Really, 1990?!  We have been relearning the lyrics to the first song on the album, “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” and singing it to Ezra in the car.  We were surprised and excited when this twenty-year old song made an unexpected appearance on our new favorite show, Pushing Daisies.  Our current favorite song and current favorite television show together.  Coincidence?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Celebrating Love and Home

August 2010 is remarkable in the Postilius household for a couple reasons.  First, Garry and I have now been together for 15 years.


There isn’t a calendar date associated with the start of our romantic relationship.  No marking of a first date or wedding to define this month as the start of our relationship together.  This month is more an upper boundary on a period of transition from good friends to realizing we were more than “just friends” and a shared recognition of our desire.

Our friendship started during college, our romance burgeoned on a study abroad program in Italy and our relationship has lasted through periods of levity and turmoil.

During the course of our 15-year relationship, we have moved a lot. During our first year together, we had four housemates.  Our shortest stay was 9 months in a too-small apartment overlooking a construction area.  The rental house we feel most fondly of, while not legally condemned, has been personally condemned by our families.  Given all our moving, we haven’t lived in any one place for too long. 

So it’s notable that this month we’ve also now lived in our home four years – our wonderful, one-room, converted church. 


It’s the longest we’ve lived anywhere together. Add a couple more years and this will be the longest I’ve ever lived under one roof. I’m honored to share my life, my home, my body and love with my spouse, lover and friend.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What is a Postilius?

Like so many couples, when Amanda became pregnant we decided to start a blog.  It is now expected of the expecting; I believe it’s the task on the to do list right after registering at Target.  Common concerns people have about starting blogs are issues of privacy, finding time to commit to writing posts, or not knowing what to write.  My only reason for dragging my feet was that I am terrible at thinking of titles, and I had no idea what to name our blog.  A title is important.  A good one should, in a few words, summarize what the blog is about, set a tone, and at the same time be catchy.  I have a hard time being creative under pressure so we abandoned originality and published at garryandamanda.blogspot.com.  We always planned to change this name, but felt more of a need to do so after the discovery of garyandamanda.blogspot.com.  We thought it best to not create confusion between this nice Mormon couple and ourselves.  We are sure that garyandamanda agree.

The word Postilius came from past discussions we have had with friends about how to handle surnames when a couple marries.  Does one person take the other person’s last name and abandon his or her own?   Do you hyphenate?  Do you create a new name?  Amanda and I never questioned keeping our respective last names (and gave Ezra both our names), but would joke about combining our names, Milius and Posto, into a new last name.  We would laugh at how ridiculous these new names sounded.  Miliosto is impossible to pronounce without using an exaggerated Italian accent and sounds like a name a faux-Italian fast food restaurant might give their new baked pasta creation.  I always thought Postilius sounded like an irritating, but not lethal, medical condition, maybe the clinical term for a type of skin rash. 

Postilius does not explain what our blog is about.  It is difficult to spell.  It is not catchy.  I admit it is a terrible blog name, but we have grown attached to it.  Postilius has become our family’s collective identity since we all have different last names - including the one we made up for our dog, Piper Brandon*.   The once ridiculous sounding Postilius now escapes our lips effortlessly and has become our online home, persona, and brand (it is very 21st century to brand yourself!).  Regardless, welcome to The Postilius “Household.”

*Our cats, Sister Stella Marie and Sister Mary [Mother of God Full of] Grace chose to relinquish their last names when they devoted their life to the convent.  Nuns are married to God, and God doesn’t have a last name.  He is famous, like Cher.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Letter to Ezra at 10 months

Dear Ezra,

When I wrote my last letter you weren’t even three months old. You have since started sitting up (4 months), you’re crawling (9 months) and just getting your first tooth. These developmental milestones are only a few of the ways in which you’ve grown and changed since December. You’ve changed in countless ways. At 10 months, you are leaving infancy behind. I feel as though I can barely recall how small you were even though as I lay breastfeeding you at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months, I tried to memorize your imprint in my arms. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tales of Our Two Cities

We live in the tiny, tiny town of Stinesville (population 197, SAA-LUTE!*) which is outside of the not-quite-as-small, but small, university town of Bloomington (population 70,000, SAA-LUTE!) where we work and spend much of our non-sleeping time.  Both cities have recently been featured in national publications.

On The New Yorker's blog, Blake Eskin revisits an infamous 1960 New Yorker article “The Yellow School Bus.”  The original story followed 18 graduates from Stinesville's Bean Blossom Township High School on their senior trip to the big city of New York.

For the Washington Post, Robin Soslow writes about her visit to Bloomington.  Describing the city as an “intellectual hamlet [where] every experience has an educational component, ” she mentions that “everyone - from chefs to landscapers [like my sister and her husband] . . . is a student by diploma or proximity.”  She even visits my workplace, The Kinsey Institute.

*an obscure reference to the television show Hee Haw.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What We're Reading

Ezra: Peek a Who by Nina Laden


Peek a Who is a book full of surprising twists and revelations.   The cardboard cutaway partially obscures the picture on the next page.  Peek a .  . . zoo, choo-choo, moo, which is it going to be?  I can read it over and over again, and I am still caught off guard when page 9 reveals Peek a Boo, illustrated by a purple, polka-dot ghost.  I laugh every time!

I love this book and recommend all infants have their parents, like mine, forget to return it to the library so they too can own this wonderful work of literature.

Friday, July 16, 2010

TV Worship

If there were a scale of parental strictness I am unsure where Amanda and I would fall. Depending on the other person’s perspective they may view us as dangerously lenient or as inflexible authoritarians.  Let me explain.  Ezra does not have a formal bedtime and a pretty informal daily structure.  He eats when he is hungry and naps when he is tired rather than at a set time.  We do not shelter him from the adult world so he sees adult-only behaviors like drinking alcohol, and overhears adult conversations (including many adult-only words).  He sleeps in our bed.   We do not let him cry anything out.  He sees us naked.  We encourage him to be outgoing and interact with strangers.  Are we too laid-back, indulgent, tolerant . . .?

At the same time we feel pretty strongly about reinforcing our values.  We want Ezra to respect the earth and all of its plants and animals (including humans).  We want to limit the amount of influence marketing and consumerism have on his wants and desires in life.  So, we do have lots of no's.  No meat.  No fast food.  No excess amount of toys.  No toys with commercial characters.  No television? Okay, the last one we are still working on.

Television was something Amanda and I have always agreed should not be a part of an infant’s life, and only a small part of an older child’s, teen’s, and adult’s life.  Therefore, we had decided that Ezra would not watch any television before the age of two.  We believe that encouraging children in active play rather than being passively entertained is good for their attention span, physical and mental development, creativity, and self esteem. We still believe this is best, but have already surrendered to feasibility. 

Not too long ago, we use to be one of those annoying couples that would stop conversations about the winner of American Idol with, “we don’t have a television.”  This was before Amanda became pregnant.  Midway through her pregnancy two things happened.  First, Amanda was too exhausted by the end of the workday to do much more than watch a movie.  Second, we discovered Hulu.  Lost was our entry drug.  We then tried and liked 30 Rock and Arrested Development.  Soon we were also addicted to Glee, Parks and Recreation, and the webseries The Guild

We still do not encourage Ezra to watch television, but since he is always with us, if we watch television so does he.  We do not select films or programs made to appeal to infants or even children.  In fact, we do not play anything specifically for him, but he will happily watch anything.  He does not discriminate, for example last weekend he watched the entire movie Twilight.  I fell asleep bored three-quarters of the way through.  Amanda, Ezra and I had lunch in a restaurant with a television.  Ezra ignored us and watched the Duke v. Virginia basketball game.   He equally enjoys science fiction films, Spanish Tele’novellas, football games, and bridal parties dancing to Beyonce’s Single Ladies on YouTube. This photograph shows Ezra captivated by the appropriately named Spellbound, an “engaging” documentary about the 1999 spelling bee.

 
 Ezra watching TV at 4 months.  Note the glazed eyes and drool on his chin.

Like a "very special episode" of an 80s sitcom, this minor television addiction has taught us a few important things.  The first being a simple and obvious lesson: if you want your child to live a certain lifestyle you must be willing to be a role model and exhibit the behaviors you want them to emulate.  The second, Ezra is team Jacob. 

Addendum.
I wrote the original draft for this essay a few months ago.  Since then Ezra has become slightly less interested in TV (the same for Amanda and me).  As he has become more mobile he has many, many more things he would rather do, and he is much more selective of what earns his attention.  He continues to enjoy the Glee musical numbers, but chooses to ignore the scenes with talking.  I read several reviews of the second half of the show’s first season in which the television critic felt the same way.  We are happy he enjoys music and fine with him watching a limited amount of appropriate television, but we worry because marketers are extremely good at reaching their target audience when that audience is children.   Ezra immediately stops whatever he is doing to watch McDonald’s commercials and trailers for animated movies like Shrek III.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birth Stories

Ezra's Homebirth

I haven’t felt rushed to write a narrative of Ezra’s birth. In the weeks after his birth, I initially wondered if I didn’t care how I gave birth. In giving it more thought, I’ve realized it matters to me a great deal that I had a natural birth and a homebirth. Maybe how didn’t seem immediately important because it happened mostly as I had planned. Ezra has now been with Garry and me for 38 weeks and 5 days - the length of my pregnancy with him. So, I thought this was an appropriate time to think back and to share my perspective of his birth before my recollections and impressions of it begin to fade. Here goes …

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ezra and Garry at Work

Ezra and I have had a few busy weeks at work.  While Ezra was recreating vintage photographs and becoming the new face of The Kinsey Institute . . .

My latest exhibit, Private Eyes, was featured on public radio, the blog CafeMom, and this (NSFW-ish) video that demonstrates some of the exhibit's 3-D objects in action is getting lots of hits on YouTube.