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Sunday, July 19, 2009

This blog has moved.

I am now fully moved over to

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Thank you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Southern California Road Trip: Part One

We arrived at our Orange County hotel at three in the morning on Tuesday, just six hours after we’d left the San Francisco Peninsula on our dead-of-night escape.

Tuesday (part two, because part one was spent driving and then sleeping) was a family visit. Emily’s uncle’s family lives in Yorba Linda, and despite his house being damaged in the last round of fires and flooded when a toilet overflowed (forcing the family to live in a hotel for 45 days in a row), it was beautifully restored and it was relaxing just to hang out there. But Erin, the tiny princess of Finding Things That Will Hurt, kind of miserabled herself by falling down stairs and whacking her head on things. She liked the dog, though.DSC02375

This is Lucky. He’s a service dog for Emily’s cousin J, the flower girl at our wedding who is old enough to drink now but never would. J doesn’t move very quickly, hear or see very well, hence the dog, but she loves Erin and Erin loves her so much she can hardly contain herself.

Wednesday we visited a cousin at work, in a new parent store with a play area for the kids. Erin superheroed it up when she found the costume bin.DSC02324

Then we went to the uncle’s beach house in Newport Beach and strolled along the boardwalk at Erin’s pace. She was easily distracted by sand. DSC02342

She spent a lot of time riding on J’s lap in her wheelchair. There was ice cream to be dribbled down her chin, birds to be chased, and boys who had frisbees. DSC02354

Thursday was Disneyland Part One. It was Adrian’s First Visit, Erin’s Fifth Visit, and my birthday. Happy birthday to me. I love going to Disneyland and I’ll never stop loving it. I don’t care that Disney wants my money and my soul. They can have it. Star Tours rules.


We took Adrian on his first ride, and stank up the submarines with his first on-ride Crapola Diaper. It was intense. And where do you go when you’re on a fucking submarine? Nowhere. You’re welcome, Korean Disney Fans who were on the ride next to us. Greetings from America.

Want to see a picture of Erin pretending to be tired?


I say “pretending”, because that kid burned with vibrant, ridiculous energy right up until we got back to the hotel after closing the park down at midnight. She was unbelievable. She could not see enough or do enough. Adrian, on the other hand, pretty much slept the entire time we were at the park, with the exception of the Jungle Cruise ride. The puns pissed him off and he cried most of the trip. But he liked his ears.


Grandma grandma grandma. What would we do without grandma? She came to the park with us and watched the kids so Emily and I could go on rides on our own. She took Erin on the Buzz Lightyear ride so that someone could ride by himself and look cool while kicking ass with the lasergun.

Shawn on BuzzlightyearFriday morning we went to breakfast and then began our drive to San Diego for Southern California Road Trip: Part Two. But first we stopped so that Erin could play at a park and burn some energy off before her destined nap in the car. So she ran around the park until she saw the tire swing, then she exploded into a version of the Sesame Street Theme that, we’ve come to realize, asks “Can you tell me how to get, how to get some friends in the street?” I’ve no idea what mayhem she plans for those friends, but they’d best guard themselves. This kid plots evil.


More road trip stories and pictures to come. I will bore you in four parts. But the four include the prelude that most of you read and decided was a clear indication that I should keep my day job: My “forsooths” and “inasmuches” fell on unimpressed eyes. Verily.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Worst News

It seems as though the moms who became friends through the Day One playgroup two years ago are steadily proceeding into round two of baby-making. Emily wasn't the first, nor will she be the last, as it looks like our group has booked the hospitals solid through November.

One of our friends, C, was checked in to the hospital with a high blood pressure problem at around 36 weeks. It's the kind of problem the worsening of which requires the immediate delivery of the baby. Her little boy is at home with dad and the grandparents, prepping the baby's room and watching the boy grow up, ever so slowly, in the weeks mom has been in a bed away from home.

It's a stressful time. And we've been waiting, just like everyone has been waiting, for news that the new baby has arrived and both mom and the baby are doing well.

We're worried. We're away from home and there's nothing we can do to help, or to prevent disasters. We're powerless, and the world is going to do what it wills and we're none us strong enough for what it will throw at us.

Emily's phone chimed with an incoming text message from C, and we knew the news was bad. Emily read the message slowly, and then emitted the despairing gasp I'd dreaded, and then a soft "Oh no."

"What is it, lady? What happened? What's wrong?"

"It's gone...the Chili's by our house is gone."

How do you ever recover from a loss like that?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I should write a parenting book

"I don't know what it is," I began as I grabbed a pillow and began twirling it by the bunched opening of the case, "but I just had this overwhelming urge to hide behind the door until Erin came through and then BAM! Nail her with the pillow."

"Well, you get what you pay for." Emily sardonicized at me.

"What does that mean?"

"I mean this fatherhood gig you signed up for that doesn't pay you."

"What? I think that would be an awesome fatherhood moment."

The Super Ninja Secret Ambush With Pillow lesson: Fatherhood Year Three.

Friday, July 10, 2009

While you’re waiting…

While you’re waiting to find out the answers to questions like:

Did our favourite dad blogger make it to Disneyland without getting sucked into the vortex of doom swirling around Michael Jackson’s memorial at Staples?

Did the Burns’ get to take yet another photo with Mickey Mouse and does the mirror in the hotel make Shawn look fat or is he actually fat?

How many hours of sleep can a toddler go without a nap before degenerating into an insane rambler and singer of “Row Row Row Your Boat (alt. lyrics)”?

Can you have too many onion rings with raspberry sauce?

How long does it take to get to check in to a hotel in San Diego?

You can check out something I wrote for Blogs.Com about some of the dad blogs I read. You should read them too. Go here now.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


"So, Shawn. You've made it through another year of grad school, the birth of another child, the beginning of the terrible twos, more delays in your house remodel, and the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. What are you going to do now?

I'm going to Disneyland.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Southern California Road Trip: Prelude

We plotted to leave very early Tuesday morn for Parts Unknown and corners where there be dragons.

One final night of rest in my bed before embarking on a Quest for Mickey Mouse would have pleased me.


'Tis 9pm and the kids are snuggled up warm in their car seats. Visions of cartoons flicker across Erin's face from the soul-draining glow of the portable DVD player we purchased this week.

Their night, and mine, has been sent careening from the predictable mile upon which it was given to travel. Innocence has been stolen, and by who else than that Pan of Lost Boys, perpetual child and thief of glittery pirate hands:


Realizing all of the sudden that we had timed our crossing of the City of Angels to coincide with the Jaxon's family's attempt to send their most damaged boy to join the Choir by dazzling the dazed denizens, we recalculated:

"'Sooth, goodwife, we are doomed. We shall ne'er free ourselves from the Vortex the Jaxons have called forth from the bowels of the earth to ensnare unwary travelers such as we, offering up our children in the mad ceremony that calls the godhead down upon their Son."

"Nay, tremble not, mine husband. Must needs we brave the dark, the lonely moonlit paths, til we arrive at our awaiting Castle 'fore dawn. Yea, before e'en our enemies ha' bestirred their bones to be about their bloody business."

"You are a wise and beautiful woman, wife. For you alone would I risk certain crankiness and foul midnight diaper changes in the Caves of Denny or the House of Fruit."

"And you are a handsome, brave, and amusing man, husband. Cleave to me and every wish you have will come true. Except for that one. Meantimes, let us make out, and then after much embracing we shall depart."

"Agreed. Let us proceed with alacrity."

And that, my friends, is how we found ourselves winding through the mountains and across the plains. Our enemy, the Jaxon, shall be foiled, for true love and decent mileage (for an SUV) are on our side.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Corn on the Cob

Erin and I  scythed through the grocery store, intent on our goals, when we were abrupted in our progress by the Stereotypical College Guy.

Stereotypical College Guy had been thinking about his workout all day long. He began thinking about it early in the morning while he was still sleeping off the whiskey sours and tequila shots from the night before. He continued to think about it while he dressed himself from the “Not quite Sentient” pile of clothes in the corner of his room. He sorted through the white t-shirts and ridiculously long shorts on the floor until he found some that could take another workout, then he selected one set from his four pairs of high top running shoes and bolted out the door, ready to hit the gym for squats and chest presses, it being Friday, and Friday being Legs & Chest day.

He realized as he was leaving that he was out of groceries. He’d been eating in more often as the summer progressed and the on-campus eateries lost their bustle and luster. Eating alone was easier at home than at the cafeteria in the middle of the summer, when the odds of being approached at table by people he’d never acknowledge except to mock with his friends increased exponentially. Rather than face the press of lonely nerds, he would cook for himself, as far as he was able.

So instead of heading straight to the gym he reluctantly approached the grocery store to stock up on supplies. It was his misfortune, and mine, that he happened to be in the produce section at the exact moment Erin and I approached with our cart. We were after some ears of corn, because I was going to make a roasted corn and black-eyed pea salsa for a 4th of July barbecue the next day. I searched out the closest bag dispenser to the corn and found it situated adjacent to Stereotypical College Guy. He was unrolling the roll, and muttering to himself as he did so.

“…so that’s four, and what the hell? Where am I…hmmm….”

He sensed me standing next to him with my cart and my kid and my corn, and he spent some more time rolling, and unrolling bags.

Then he stopped, unstooped himself (the dispenser being located in the body of a bin rather than on a hook above) and walked away with his head held high and shoulders back, with someplace very important and deliberate to go and no time to waste on boring things like corn.

I watched him march away to the other side of the corn bin where he stood, staring at a wall lined with flowers for sale. Ah, a floraphile who’s just realized that hibiscus were in season, no doubt.

I reached down, tore off one of the many bags he had rolled away from the dispenser and dumped my husks inside. Then Erin and I continued through the produce section (mushrooms, an onion, some bananas, and a red bell pepper were all on my list, though not all for the salsa) while I kept a suspicious eye trained on Stereotypical College Guy.

He confirmed my suspicions and my disappointment in humanity when he returned to the bag dispenser soon after I’d left it to tear off a single bag at the now-obvious seam, open the bag, and place an ear of corn inside.

But what earthly reason could he have for thinking that he could cook corn if he couldn’t even figure out how the bag dispenser worked, cuffing away at it like a Neanderthal at a vacuum cleaner?

“Erin,” I said as I pushed my cart with head shaking ruefully, “that is why you aren’t allowed to date boys until you are thirty.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I’m kind of a big deal on the Internet

Label Daddy

The lovely folks over at Label Daddy have inexplicably chosen me as their Dad Blogger of the Year. I think this means you all have to bow down before my awesomeness.



Thanks Label Daddy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

They played jump rope but the rope it broke…

I drift into semi-senile codgery more often as I watch my daughter sponge the world’s cultural scum, or as I see it creeping toward us in the temporal distance: Pink! Hannah! Montana! Everything!

“Back in my day, we had decent cartoons on Saturday mornings like Superfriends and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and G.I. Joe and we learned about storytelling and heroism and how to only fight half the battle and get out of the pool when a thunderstorm came up. Now, kids these days. They don’t even have the buddy cop show Simon and Simon to sneak up past their bedtime to watch. Or Moonlighting. Instead they have a wash of pink vapidness. Who will save them from stranger danger? Or teach them to eat their veggies? Or tell them about the magic of the conjunction (junction, what’s your function?)”

Back in my day we also had the best in non-commercialized educational programming, pre-Elmo Sesame Street.

Growing up along the Canada-U.S. border I would receive both PBS and CBC broadcasts of Sesame Street, and I watched a lot of it. (It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized the Americans didn’t get all of the segments in French, or that Canadians didn’t get the segments in Spanish. This ignorance on my part was akin to another border-ignorance I had: until I was 18, yes 18, I thought you could walk into any place in the U.S. and give them Canadian money and they would take it at the daily exchange rate. I walked into a Safeway in San Jose and tried to buy a Pepsi with some Canadian change and the cashier looked at me like I was insane. He looked at me like I was dangerously insane when I met his incredulity with “What do you mean you don’t take it? It’s Canadian.”)

Ten years ago Erin would have been doomed to some marketed, packaged hell that had neither 80’s cartoons nor classic pre-Elmo Sesame Street. But now we have the internet, and the internet provides.

This was my favourite Sesame Street clip growing up, and it’s Erin’s favourite too. Across the span of decades my daughter and I are joined in our learning to count to 12. Tiny Shawn looks into the future and knows he must learn the lyrics to this song because his daughter will one day demand not only that he play the clip at every opportunity, but that he sing the song to her. And when he gets to the part where they stand around and tell knock-knock jokes she grins and knocks on her own head.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summer Sale at the mall

We're at the mall on a Saturday because it's 93 degrees today and my apartment has whatever the opposite of air conditioning is, and it's on all the time, except in winter when I will suddenly have whatever the opposite of heat is.

Wandering away from the Baby Mosh Pit to reclaim some hearing I was led by my lovely daughter straight to one of those gimmicky photo booths.

Five dollars later (five dollars!) I was the proud owner of a Fold-It-Your-Damned-Self Foto Cube.

The instructions were simple: peel here, tear at perforation, fold here, stick together, voila! Foto Cube!

But the "peel here" instructions, so convenient and necessary, were, as it turned out, printed on the side of the paper that one would not, in fact, wish to peel off. Moreover, the paper was only perforated on the side that, ha ha, you would not wish to tear off.

So I am now the proud owner of a Fold-It-Your-Damned-Self Foto Cube. And three small rectangular stickers. Rather, Erin is the owner of the stickers.

I would be disgusted and disappointed and annoyed at my fortune in this matter, but for the 30 seconds of distilled joy Erin and I drank while making stupid faces for the camera. Five dollars.

Only five dollars?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to Attend BlogHer As a Dude

In the next month you will read post after post about OMG BlogHer I Can’t Wait To Go! or Damn BlogHer I Hate Those People Why Can’t They Shut Up About It?

You will read tips on how to interpret apparent standoffishness as shyness, snobbery as insecurity, hilarity as drunkenness. You will read about all the parties you will rock or feel outcast at. You will read…no, maybe you’ll just delete these posts, because they will become boring and repetitive.

But only here at Backpacking Dad will the MEN get the insight they’re looking for. Only here will the MEN attending BlogHer receive the reassurance they need to engage comfortably in a setting of a thousand women.

So, a list.

1. Figure out why you are there. Seriously, why are you there? Why? It’s called BlogHER, man, so what the hell are you doing there? And no, it isn’t enough that you take it seriously as a social media conference, or that you are interested in pro tips from the panelists, or meeting up with readers or friends or networking with powerful and influential people who happen to have vaginas. No. You are a dude. You have no business going to BlogHer despite how open and lovely everyone in the BlogHer organization is about including men. You have no business because someone in that room you are standing in will think you are a skeevy perv. So, unless you really are a skeevy perv you are going to have to do some thinking about yourself: Are you comfortable with your reasons for attending? If you are not, then the terrorists win. Fuck the terrorists.

2. Do your best not to hang out with other dudes. It’s BlogHer, man, and the point really is to interact with, and learn from and about, women. No matter how tempting it might be to form a circle of guy friends and hang out with them for three days in a sea of female writers and PR folks, this is a recipe for disaster. First, because guys have a tendency to reinforce guy-ness when they are around guys, and that inevitably means that your attempt at finding a safety zone will result in creating a permanent Dome of Awesome Hotness that the women won’t be able to breach. And then you’ll have spent all weekend in a Dome of Awesome Hotness and you could have done that at a bar at home. Also, guys in a Dome of Awesome Hotness have a tendency to start to whip ‘em out and pee on each other to reduce the hotness. You will start showboating, peacocking, competing, and generally turn into a dick, Shawn. Find female friends to hang out with and engage with other men as opportunity allows, but do not rely on them for comfort and inclusion.

3. Bring a nice shirt.

4. Make sure you really really really have something valuable and original to add to a conversation before asking for a microphone during a panel and putting in your two cents and your balls. Maybe the room has something to learn from you, but be certain that you aren’t just talking to hear yourself speak and to look cool in front of everyone, Shawn.

5. Take lots of pictures, but do not allow pictures to be taken of yourself. You look terrible, and you don’t need those memories.

6. Always be more sober than the person next to you. Because it’s completely awesome to let them go on and on and start to say insane things, but odds are there is a video camera around somewhere and you don’t want to be the star of Dudes At BlogHer Gone Wild.

7. Do not wear your cargo shorts, Shawn.

8. You will be memorable. You will not be able to remember everyone. The disparity will fuel your ego while also spiraling you into despair. Forget about it. It’s not about you. That is, you aren’t memorable because of how awesome you are, but because of how male you are. You might also be awesome. But so are a thousand women in the room and I’ll give you odds that you get more attention than 75% of them. Don’t let it go to your head. Also, don’t let it go to your head. And don’t let it go to your head. Behave like someone who deserves to be a rock star, not like someone who is a rock star. Be cool, man. Just be cool. It’s not up to you to be the life of the party. Find someone else to pressure into being the life of the party.

9. Do your utmost to give unsolicited advice to other male BlogHer attendees. It will endear you to them and they will want to be your friend. They don’t have any influence, though, so make sure you spurn them for someone who does at the first opportunity.

10. Write a post-BlogHer post about all the people you met, but wait until six or seven months have gone by so that you can really strain your memory.

Any other advice for the guys going this year?

Ladies, feel free to offer up your “skeevy dude” stories and then feel utterly remorseful about assuming that about him. But yeah, I saw that guy. What a perv.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Site Stuff

So, apparently Blogger has broken things and the fancy URL I’ve just begun redirecting my blog to is not being found in Safari or Internet Explorer, and works only with a click through some warning page in Firefox. This is a system-wide Blogger problem with custom domain redirects.

(Did I sound smart and tech-y there?)

I own the site, and well I should. I’ve been planning a whole redesign and move from Blogger to Wordpress and in anticipation of that I starting redirecting to, just to get people used to the address. It was timed with this awesome Blogger failure and now I think I’ve also ended up breaking my feed because I’m an idiot.

So I temporarily switched back to the blogspot address to post this. I’m all done with breaking things for now. But know that in the very, very near future I’ll be switching to my own domain, and breaking my feed again, then burning the house down and quitting the internet in frustration.

See you later.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I love my kids.



Emily turns to me every now and then to say “We have kids. We are ‘Emily and Shawn and the kids.’” I gently correct her: “Shawn and Emily and the kids.” And then she rolls her eyes at me so hard she sprains her forehead.

My son hasn’t pooped in a day.

My daughter, who drifted off to sleep while I played soft songs on my guitar last night, shouted at me to put my guitar away and belted out “Itsy Bitsy Spider” at the top of her lungs over my version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” tonight. Eventually I gave up and started accompanying her with a blues riff.

My son is sleeping with his mouth open in a still swing, thinking hard about soft and how good it will feel when he finally get this one out.

My daughter is sleeping now, exhausted from endless solos performances of “Row Row Row Your Boat” in the dark.

When Erin removed her diaper yesterday in the swimming pool locker room and demanded to go pee on the potty I gave her three gummi bears instead of the two she usually gets after a swimming lesson. It was a Three Gummi Bear Pee. When she ran away from me on the sidewalk in the morning while I was pushing Adrian in his stroller outside the Tech Museum I chased her down and put the fear of Car into her. “No runnin’ naway from daddy,” she repeated over and over again all morning, “my bonka my head. Onlee wocking, slowee.”

When Adrian started offering small smiles with his eyes and mouth the other day I entered that 37th stage of New Fatherhood: Reflection. Instead of looking to him for signs that he was seeing the world and reacting to it I started grinning right back at him, my own eyes shining into his, my deep laugh lines presaging where his will be someday, letting him show me what a smile ought to look like and then showing it right back to him.

Being a parent is hard even when it’s easy. It’s hard because there is an entire life of non-parenting out there, somewhere, in my memory and when I look back on it I can see how radical this change has been, how much attention I pay now to a hundred items a day in time that I could have been sleeping or leveling that paladin up.

But being a dad…being a dad is easy, even when it’s hard.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LL Cool Dad

Some days are better than others for the ego. Not that I have much difficulty in the self-esteem department, but even someone with as over-inflated an opinion of himself as me can have his spirits buoyed even higher by the right interactions with people.

First came the e-mail from Carla, @babyjidesign on Twitter, who is a local photographer. She’ll be at BlogHer as a photographer and she was looking for some bloggers to feature on her business cards to demonstrate her work and asked me if I’d like to pose. In other words, I’m so beautiful that I could be a part. time. model.

Who turns that down? Not this guy. Not this guy whose Smurf name would be Vanity Smurf if there wasn’t already a Vanity Smurf and so he’ll instead have to settle for Vain-but-Envious Smurf.

Carla took some really fantastic shots of me and Erin, and a bunch of terrific ones of Erin herself. It was a fun shoot out at a park with plenty of “okay, now walk like you’re just walking but turn when I say and look like you’re just being casual” and I was all “I can do that. I can be fake-casual like nobody’s business.” Erin also managed to look fake-casual, although I suppose one might confuse that look for constipation.


She’s getting pretty big for that backpack. I remember when she was small enough for me to zip up the sides of my Deuter with her legs inside.

The secret to a great photo, I learned, is a ladder. This is my favourite Backpacking Dad photo now:


See? You can’t see the innertube around my waist or my neck fat or anything. Carla rules.

Emily and I went to the movies (again, always, and forever going to movies with a baby. We’re very, very good at it) on Monday. After the movie was over Emily went to the restroom to change Adrian’s diaper and I waited in the hallway with the stroller. A pair of lovely older women approached me to get a peek at the baby, who wasn’t there. They gushed a bit about being grandparents and great-grand-parents and then they walked away. One of them came back a few moments later:

“Can I tell you something? My friend and I were just talking and…who do you look like? Do you know? Who do people tell you you look like?”

“Uh, well, that depends on if they like me or not I suppose.”

“If they don’t?”

“Robert Goulet.”

“Yes! That’s it. That’s just what we were saying. Something about the eyes!”



I can only hope they had the younger Goulet in mind. The Goulet who was hot when they were hot.

Robert Goulet (tux)

I’m choosing to believe this is what she meant. Not bad. And hey! I have that outfit.


Although mine looks way sweeter with the corsage on my lapel. Yes, that’s a corsage. I was pinned with the wrong accoutrement when I arrived for my wedding. It snuck into a few photos before the bouttoniere was found to replace it.

Emily arrived during the Robert Goulet remark and the ladies cooed appropriately over Adrian. I noticed that he was missing a sock and went back into the theater to find it. When I returned the old ladies were gone, but another woman had approached Emily.

“I was just telling your wife that I’d overheard the Robert Goulet comment. How could you be expected to know what he looked like when he was younger? Anyway, I was saying that you look like someone else entirely.”

Ah, who will it be, I wonder. Robert the Bruce? That’s one I’ve gotten before. I basically look like everyone with a goatee.


No, it was the one people offer up if they like me: Leonardo DiCaprio


However, I’d like to point out that I was rockin’ the facial hair long before he was.

So, that’s how my ego-inflating weekend was. I’m off to star in my next Hollywood blockbuster: Backpacking Dad Is On A Boat.

Although I’m changing my name to OLL Cool BPDBHLLRG. (Old Ladies Love Cool Backpacking Dad Because He Looks Like Robert Goulet)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Congratulations Mahmoud

It’s not every day that someone so obviously well-loved by his people gets re-elected in a complete landslide so crushing that it reeks of election fraud. Hooray for freedom!

P.S. I know someone who has a crush on you. Do you want to go out with him? Check one:




For the Canadians here's an audio only version of the video from YouTube. Sorry Hulu hates you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How to watch Disney-Pixar’s ‘Up’

When you see Up, or the next time you think about it if you’ve seen it already, imagine that when Carl goes inside his house after being dropped off by the police that he goes upstairs and dies quietly in his sleep.

Then you won’t be watching a fairly good adventure film, but a really good movie about the journey to Heaven.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Just so you know, Dad, they didn't win the year Erin was born either."

Well kid, you're wiser and more at peace about this than I am. I think the term is "equanimity" and you've got it in spades.

But just so you know, kid, we're watching every Red Wings game together next year. Your sister and I did that last year and I'm pretty sure that was the difference maker.
And you know what? I'm still pretty happy. Happy to see you every day. Happy to hold you when you cry. Happy to bounce you to sleep in my arms.

See you after your nap, kid.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


There aren’t too many dramatic things going on in my life right now. It’s all routine. I wake up, take Erin to school, come home, take Adrian somewhere so Emily can sleep, spend the afternoon at home or on my bike, pick Erin up from school, come home, make dinner, put Erin to bed, wait out Adrian’s four hour spazfest, bail, go to sleep and hope Emily doesn’t wake me up before 6am. She almost never does. I don’t know what that’s about.

I’ve managed to go to the movies with Adrian, once with Emily to see Land of the Lost, and once without Emily to see Dance Flick. Adrian did pretty well at the movies, but I’m no novice at this. For those who care: Dance Flick was a lot funnier than Land of the Lost. Not that it was all that funny, but Land of the Lost was as boring as The Barefoot Contessa. I don’t know what that’s about.

One thing that never seems to be part of my routine, but always arises as some kind of surprise, last-minute chore, is doing the dishes. Although I wash them every day it always seems like there’s a pile in the sink and I’m always playing catch up. I don’t know what that’s about.

Adrian has some reflux, and we just started him on medication tonight. His nightly spazfests are at least in part due to his reflux. But Erin was also a spaz during the early evening hours, so I don’t know how much of his annoyance has to do with it. He is not having any trouble gaining weight though: he has put on almost three pounds in three and a half weeks. I don’t know what that’s about.

I’ve been re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched the entire series for the first time in the months leading up to Erin’s birth. I started again in the weeks leading up to Adrian’s. I don’t know what that’s about.

I’m not directing my days at anything except being, although I should be working on a dissertation. I have books to read, and things to write, and I know I’ll be dragging my feet about it. I don’t know what that’s about.

I’ve been watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs with almost religious devotion, although I should say that in all honesty I’ve devoted more time, thought, effort, argument, and attention to hockey than I ever have to any of the various forms of Christianity friends and family have offered up to me. I don’t know what that’s about.

Despite my apparent indolence I’ve still managed to fall days, and maybe even weeks behind on e-mail correspondence. If I owe you an e-mail I’ll get to it. Eventually. Maybe after a bike ride. I was riding my bike with underinflated tires for a long time, and it was slowing me down but I just couldn’t be bothered to inflate them to pressure until yesterday. I don’t know what that’s about.

So. How’s your day?

Friday, June 5, 2009


It’s about that time, summertime, when kids transition from school to home, and that means that some parents will notice their kids around more often, and that will spark a small flame of interest in the question of whether it’s better to work or stay home with the kids. And that small flame will spread from the parents with school-aged kids to parents in general, until several small conflagrations dot the parental landscape and Smokey the Bear starts tromping everywhere saying “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” It’s the most fun time of the year.

Basically, the “debate”, when it reaches martyr pyre status (which is not to say there isn’t a legitimate question about what’s best for kids overall, but that level of reasonable discussion isn’t what I’m talking about here) looks like this:

From the Stay at Home Parents: Parents who work and rely on daycare instead of raising their own kids have no soul!

From the Work Out of the Home Parents: Parents who sacrifice income and their kids’ quality of life and futures have no brains!

I’ve seen this debate before.

Liberals: Conservatives don’t care about anyone. Their policies are heartless. Conservatives have no soul!

Conservatives: Liberals are bleeding-hearts who can’t see that their policies are disastrously stupid. Liberals have no brains!

And I’ve seen yet another version of this debate:

Zombies: Vampires are demons inhabiting the undead and reanimated corpses of real people. Vampires have no soul!

Vampires: Zombies are shuffling, decaying undead and reanimated corpses of real people. Zombies have no brains!

Guess what? These criticisms only work against zombies and vampires. Because they’re not real.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Composer of Unrivalled Skill and Inspiration

"Twinkle twinkle little star
Let's go Red Wings let's go Red Wings.
Hockey hockey hockey dude.
What you what you what you are.
What's your name what's your name.
There it is; the other one.
Where did that dinosaur go?"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Let’s Go Red Wings!

This is the key to victory:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court: “Do we contradict ourselves? Very well then, we contradict ourselves, (We are large. We contain multitudes.)”

In what can only be interpreted as a “punt” the California Supreme Court today ruled both that Proposition 8, which amended the Constitution to read that marriage is only between a man and a woman, did not violate the California Constitution and that despite what the definition of marriage in California is there are still 18,000 gay couples who are “married.”


I’m offended.

I’m offended as a philosopher.

The Court effectively created three classes of citizens in California today (Bonus! Extra class! There used to be just two in the “marriage” discussion.) There are heterosexual couples, who are the only couples who can be married in California and whose domestic partnerships can be called “marriages.” There are homosexual couples, who cannot be married in California and whose domestic partnerships cannot be called “marriages.” And there are other homosexual couples who are married and whose domestic partnerships can be called “marriages.”

The Court has declared that the Constitution of California recognizes more inequality than even Proposition 8 would have introduced to it.

What the Court hasn’t done is settle the matter. The voters of California want marriage defined a certain way; the California Constitution now protects that definition; but it is also clear that California does recognize gay marriage. So, what about recognizing gay marriages performed in other states? Should the rest of California’s gay couples who want to marry do so in Vermont then dare the California government to refuse to recognize those marriages? Should a challenge be immediately issued in the Federal courts under the Equal Protection clause? (Because really? The only difference between legitimate and illegitimate gay marriage in California is calendar date? Rights don’t evaporate when Monday becomes Tuesday.)

Even more annoying: California’s Constitutional Amendment process that requires only a 50% majority has been demonstrated to be the process that holds sway on questions of marriage rights. Proposition 8, the Court ruled, was not a revision of the Constitution, which would have required legislative approval before being put to the voters. Proposition “To Hell With 8” in 2010, then, will not be a revision either, so it will only require a 50% majority to change the Constitution to explicitly recognize gay marriages. And the direction of the support for gay marriage in California has been up over the years, not down, so the likelihood of an amendment recognizing gay marriage is higher than it would have been ten years ago. Maybe it can be passed.

And around and around and around it will go. This either ends with the U.S. Supreme Court or it never ends.

The California Supreme Court made no decision at all today, except that they didn’t want to be called “activist” again. Well, congratulations, Court.

You are inactivist judges.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Childbirth Doesn’t Break Your Funny Bone or Your Sappiness Ligament

I handed an ibuprofen to my charming, beautiful, intelligent, saint of a wife who less than a week earlier had squozen my son from her Woomba® and asked her what I, a mere male mortal, might procure for her in order to slake her thirst and wash down the only comfort afforded her.

“Oh, just a Vitamin Water®. I think there’s a half-drunk one in the fridge.”

I immediately thought up my witty hand-off remark and prepared it as I grabbed the beverage from the fridge and carried it over to the chair in which my glorious, perfect wife was sitting.

“Well, this one was stumbling around a bit and yelling at cops.”

“That’s awesome. But is that really half-drunk?”

“Yeah, I guess not. That’s all the way drunk.”

“This one was talking to girls who were totally out of his league.”

Me too, lady. You’ve always been out of my league.

Number 1!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


After a week of teasing, slow contractions, Adrian arrived with sudden and surprising alacrity. There is a long story about Emily’s induction being pushed back and back and back and the room being unavailable, then available, then unavailable, and finally available for good. The story also introduces Backpacking Dad’s delivery room snack regimen, the Irish nurse from Belfast, the room next door to the one Erin was delivered in, and lots of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares streaming over the free wifi the hospital offered.

But I won’t tell that story. I keep looking for something funny and all I end up with is something amazing.


My son, Adrian Cashel Burns, was born at 8:44pm on May 16th, 2009. He was over a pound heavier than his sister, but scored lower on his Apgars. His feet and hands were less wrinkled rubber than his sister’s, but so was his head less hairy. And that’s all the comparing I want to do between Adrian and Erin. Erin has been stunning me for two years, and I don’t want to water that down; Adrian has been stunning me for two days, and I don’t want to treat him as Second and only Second.


He sounds like a kitten when he cries.

He slept in the crook of my arm for part of his first night in the world.


His diapers are so small; his pants are so big.


Erin loves him already. She assures us that he’s sleeping, assures him that “It’s okay, Adrian,” and keeps trying to grab his face so she can look at it.


Emily thinks she screamed during labour. She didn’t; not once.

It’s all gone tiny hands and tiny toes.

DSC01931 DSC01932

This is my son, Adrian.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Nesting Again

We’ve been dealing with off-and-on labour pains for a week. Emily’s had a hard time sleeping, we’ve passed our official due date with no sign of my son. I was certain he would show up during Game 7 of the Detroit-Anaheim series because the universe (in the tradition of things which commit actions being described by those actions, like one who commits felonies being called a felon) is an iron.

I am very aware that “ironic” is not something that can properly describe events in the world, but only events a writer conjures up for the purposes of literary effect. Nonetheless, had my son showed up during the Game I’d have yelled along with Alannis that things merely badly timed or predictably perverse were IRONIC. And I’d have punched you in the neck if you’d offered, during my expression, that I was using “irony” incorrectly. You would have felt awesome. (See that one? That one is ironic. You wouldn’t really have felt awesome and I was not intending that you should think you really would have felt awesome. You know that I meant “awesome” ironically. And that’s the key. Irony is participatory.)

In preparation for my son’s arrival we moved Erin out of our bedroom, into the spare bedroom filled with books for big people and a desk for big people and the cat, the poor, fat, diabetic, scared-y cat. So long as Erin spent most of her time out of that room he was content to just hid in the chest his litter box sits in (it’s a pretty cool custom wooden chest with a lid on hinges and a hole cut in the side that looks like furniture and traps a lot of the smell), and being worried about him ever getting used to Erin we figured just tossing them in a room together would allow him to get more used to her and eventually not care so much that she squeals when she sees him and tries to pet him like a pugilist pets his opponent. (Another use of irony.)

It has actually worked, to some degree. Our fat, diabetic, scared-y cat has ventured out of that room with more and more frequency, and he isn’t afraid to eat even when Erin is in her crib and staring at him.

But sometimes, in the dark as she falls asleep, she’ll hear him eating and wake up. And she’ll cry for daddy then explain her distress: “Kitty eating; kitty eating, daddy. Dat not scare you. Kitty hiding inna box; kitty hiding. It’s okay. It’s okay daddy.” And I’ll hold her a little, and explain that the kitty is just eating (which she knows) and that she is safe (which she knows) and that it’s time to sleep (which she also knows).

Even worse, though, is when he cries. He doesn’t cry because he’s afraid of Erin and her breathing in the dark, but because he’s about to vomit or shit a river all over the fucking carpet. He woke Erin up at 5:30 this morning with his wailing and gnashing of teeth and taking of craps on the carpet outside his litter box. He also dropped a nice one in his litter box, but he’s a decade old and still has no idea that the purpose of scratching is to cover the shit. Being an imbecile he just scratches the wall and hopes things will all work out. His scratching, crying, crapping, and vomiting at 5:30 in the morning were not well received. But this is life with a diabetic scared-y cat.

I suspect he was just after a little vengeance, tormenting the child who wants to pull his ears and who yells “No hitting kitty!” when he finally swipes at her after being cornered and getting his forehead awkwardly, but firmly, stroked.

But he is a cat with no concept of causation, so he scratches at walls instead of covering his shit, and this plan for revenge only means that I get to clean the carpets. Sure, Erin’s sleep is a little disturbed, and her mom wakes up and entertains her in the early morning by baking muffins (nesting, folks, means muffins out of nowhere), but the real victim of his vengeance is me.

I walked out to the living room in the morning to discover this lovely sight:


Those are all puddles of projectile vomit. The shit was in the bedroom, and somewhat contained. But he fired off bile into the pile like he was a gunner in a turret charged with mowing down Nazi infantrymen.

As I was drawn into the living room by the smell of fortunately fresh muffins and unfortunately fresh puke I caught Emily’s eye. “We’re getting a carpet cleaner,” she announced, lips in a firm, tight line. “Get this one.”


That’s the Bissell “SpotBot” with blah blah blah and blah blah blah. You set it down on a spot and then go away. (It is not cordless. This picture is just a far shot and not an action shot. You have to plug it in. Which is fine with me because we also have a battery-operated Bissell that doesn’t last long enough to clean anything worthwhile in a house with a diabetic cat, so I’m done with cordless.)


Or, if you’re a real gamer you can use the hose and nozzle thing to clean the spot yourself. Unfortunately unless your spot is less than about 8 inches in diameter you probably won’t get much use out of the automatic cleaning feature. For instance, if your cat projectile vomits in a stream 10 inches long you are going to be stuck using the hose.


However, the results using either the automatic or manual settings are pretty decent. Better than I get by just sitting there scrubbing or blotting.



Once again, Emily’s nesting takes the form of baking, and mine takes the form of dealing with bodily fluids and waste. Seems fair to me. (Hey, look, another use of irony as a literary device. Because it does not in fact seem fair to me. However, I don’t have to gestate, contract, push, scream, or enslave my nipples to a little organism that will slowly develop teeth. So maybe it really is a fair trade. Or, I suppose, it probably remains an unfair trade but unfair from Emily’s perspective now and I’m no longer certain if I’ve actually used irony.)

(In the interests of full disclosure I should admit that I have never been approached by Bissell to review their product, been sent any product by Bissell or anyone representing Bissell, or been paid or compensated to write this mini-review. In fact, if Bissell had contacted me to do a review in exchange for a cleaner or money or something I’d have probably declined. If, however, Bissell wants to compensate me in some way NOW for the lovely things I’ve said about their product, well, I wouldn’t immediately tell them to fuck off. I could use some of the cleaning solution now, since I used basically an entire bottle of it to clean all of the vomit and shit my cat vengefully left all over my apartment.)

Still no baby. But we’re having labour induced at 9am tomorrow (Saturday May 16th). Hopefully my son will be born and I’ll have pictures by Sunday. Also, hopefully, the pictures will be less disgusting than shots of chunky cat vomit.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Son Gets Two Minutes For Delay of Game

Friday was upon me before I really had a chance to realize how little work I’d done during the week. I was anxious, awake late into the night with a racing heart awake too early in the morning when my daughter would make her presence known, and, if she had a toy within reach, felt.

A new dresser purchased at Ikea lay on the bedroom floor, awaiting assemblage. It’s for the baby’s clothes, and Erin’s clothes, since for the moment (if “moment” can mean “two years”) Erin’s clothes are in our dresser. There are six drawers in our dresser, and we each have two of them. I’d like three. Emily would like three. Without a new dresser Emily and I would be down to one each. So, a new dresser purchased at Ikea lay on the bedroom floor, awaiting assemblage.

Emily has been on maternity leave for a week or so, taking advantage of the pre-baby time to see some movies, get some pedicures, have some lunches with friends, and in no way advise anyone about trademarks. She’s also preparing for the baby, nesting (in that weird “I’m going to bake at 2am” way that she has developed).

But on Friday afternoon, when her contractions started with regularity if not severity, we were still unprepared. Her suitcase wasn’t packed, the birth plan wasn’t printed, the champagne and glasses weren’t in a bag, nor was the iGroove dock. I had no playlist of relaxing ocean sounds ready, nor a “welcome to the world, son” playlist. Cameras were strewn about the apartment. Infant car seat bases remained uninstalled in our cars. Friday afternoon, for an hour before we had to leave to go to Erin’s swimming class, we packed and prepped furiously. And we did it all, and we got it all into the car, and drove to swimming and called Emily’s mom and told her to get on a plane, and after swimming we had dinner with our friends (with whom we had shared a party a couple of weeks ago, since their daughter is Erin’s best friend and one day older) and told them to be ready for a late night phone call. They had volunteered to watch Erin while we were in the hospital, which is why we love them.

After dinner the contractions grew more regular, and I picked up Emily’s mother at the airport and I made calls to my mother, father, and sister letting them know that the kid looked like he was making an appearance. I drove Erin over to our friends’ house and put her down for the night, then stopped at Target to buy a plunger.

This may take some explaining. “Shawn, you idiot, your wife is in labour and you are stopping at Target to buy a plunger? Are you, perhaps, less smart than a monkey? An armadillo? A golden retriever eating his own shit?”

Late on Friday afternoon, while Emily and I were packing furiously, Erin was busy (a) using one of her plastic blocks to drink water out of the toilet bowl, which was a fantastic parenting moment for us and (2) flushing that block down the toilet.

If you know anything about plastic blocks you probably know this: they don’t dissolve in water.

So, knowing we’d have company over the weekend, or at the very least that we’d have to use the toilet once or twice before going to the hospital, I determined to get the block out. Because my nesting takes the particular form of needing to fix things.

The plunger was ineffective. It lacked the penis part and was instead just a plunging vagina, so there was nothing to insert into the opening at the bottom of the toilet and so I couldn’t create a seal and then suck the water back out of the flushed toilet by drawing the plunger back up. All I could do was push things further in. Vaginas are good for pushing, not sucking.

So, what do I do at 11pm on a Friday night while my wife is in labour, my mother-in-law waits in the living room, and my daughter sleeps over at a friend’s house? My wife says “How about a coat hanger? Can you unbend a coat hanger and then use it to catch the block?”

Apparently what I can do is unbend a coat hanger and get it stuck in the toilet. Now what?

I took the damned toilet apart, flipped it upside down, and pushed the blocked into the bowl from the other end of the pipe. I was very manly and strong and there were tools and sweat and probably urine involved. Then I grabbed some needle-nosed pliers to twist the wire hanger out of the toilet, and emerged from the bathroom completely victorious (although covered in what I think wasn’t urine, but I can’t tell for sure so you probably shouldn’t hug me).

Despite all of my efforts, my dedicated nesting and the packing and driving around and picking people up and dropping them off and going to Target…my son refused to show up. Emily’s contractions got a bit worse, then she fell asleep. She woke up, they got a bit worse, then she fell asleep. They never reached a “damn damn damn damn damn ooh eeh ooh eeh” stage.

But on Saturday morning she hadn’t felt the baby move in a little while, and had been in labour for 15 hours, so we went to the hospital just to check things out.

Our uncooperative son was there, fine, and the contractions were 5 minutes apart, but only going halfway up the little graph thingy on the printout. The nurse said “Could be today, could be next week.” Thanks, nurse.

We picked Erin up after her fun-but-unnecessary sleep over, then met grandma for lunch. Emily’s contractions persisted, but we said “Screw It” and sent grandma home with Erin while we went to see Star Trek.

Star Trek was great. It was a great Star Trek movie and a really good action film. It’s also heavy on the fatherhood angle, and I appreciated that.

What Emily didn’t want was to be in the hospital on Mother’s Day. “Oh, how great! You’re here on Mother’s Day and you have a new baby! That’s so great!” The thought of enduring person after person saying something stupid like that to her was enough, I think, to convince my son not to poke his head out for a look the rest of the weekend.

On Sunday we waited, and the contractions seemed to be gone. We spent the day coddling Erin and eating frozen yoghurt and (me) watching the Wings-Ducks game before taking Emily’s mother back to the airport in the evening.

Overnight, Emily’s contractions grew stronger, strong enough to keep her awake most of the night, and then she fell asleep. They were consistently strong most of the morning, but in the afternoon they settled down again.

So we went for massages.

And now here I sit watching hockey and making a roast as we wait another evening for this kid to show up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


A mom is running down a sidewalk that lies adjacent to a quiet parking lot. She carries a purse and a small backpack in her hands, flouncing at the ends of her arms. She looks like she was sheveled at some point, but that point is not dis one.

She is trailing behind a small boy who glances back at her every few strides. He is having the time of his life.

"Evan STOP!" she shouts. "Stop. You stop right now."

She finally catches up to him and snags a trailing limb. His joy turns to sorrow in her grip. Shame follows.

"When mommy tells you to stop you need to stop!" mom growls, teeth grit and jaw clamped as though to keep her from barking madly into his face.

She looks ridiculous and over-cautious and too emotional and more than a little terrified. Too scared, given that he was only two steps away on a sidewalk next to a quiet parking lot.


Been there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Using My Powers for Good

Emily joked the other day that maybe now there are three choices. We can use our powers for Good, for Evil, or for Social Media.

I think mostly I use mine for Social Media.

But today I’d like to try to do some good. And it’s something that will cost you nothing, except for a little time (a very little) and the payoff is objectively small, but subjectively huge.

Chez Bez is a dad. He’s a blogger. He is a father of four kids, including a newborn, and with only one working vehicle in the family he is often forced to beg for rides or walk to work. It’s a 6.6 mile walk.

I’ve done my share of walking, with and without Erin in the backpack, and 6.6 miles isn’t a horrible distance, but it’s not easy either. And it’s especially not easy if you are running even a little bit late for work. Imagine running late for work for 2 hours, worrying the entire time about making it.

A fellow blogger, Jeffreham, is trying to help out. He is trying to win Chez Bez a scooter by entering a video contest. You can help him do this simply by registering at the contest website and voting his video up on this page (and the other videos down on their pages). Look for “Jeffreham Prestonian”.

I don’t know Chez Bez. I don’t know Jeffreham. I don’t know this contest website ( I am choosing to believe that Chez Bez needs a scooter, that Jeffreham will give the scooter to him if he wins, and that If.Net is not a useless spam-site. I choose to act as though these things are true because I went over a year with only one vehicle, walking or taking public transit to most places while I was home with Erin, and I have extraordinary sympathy for a dad who is in that situation and who also has to work. I never had to be anywhere at a regular time. I lived without pressure. He doesn’t.

So, help if you want. I’m using my powers for Good today rather than just for Social Media. (I only rarely use them for Evil.)

And a special thanks to MonsterMash40 for brining this dad, his need, his benefactor, and this opportunity to my attention.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Against Beauty Pageants

I was reading this thing on the Huffington Post about how the Miss California pageant organization helped or encouraged or arranged or paid for Miss California to get breast implants before the Miss U.S.A. pageant. But the weird thing for me was that while the official being interviewed about the breast implants was defending the help to Miss California (“Oh, we are concerned with her overall self-esteem….”) he also listed off other things contestants do to get an edge, especially during the swimsuit competition.

The interviewer asked, pointedly, “Wouldn’t she have a better chance of winning if she were more proportioned?” That is, wouldn’t she have a better shot if she didn’t have implants?

To which the official replied: “Well of course she does. But there’s plenty of ways of getting to more proportion without doing breast implants.”

I want to leave aside how confusing this answer is for a second because the very next thing the official said really threw me for a loop.

“Many of the girls use chicken cutlets.”

I don’t understand why this is even an option in a beauty pageant. Why doesn’t anyone say anything? Are they really that much of a joke that women can stuff poultry down their tops and saunter onto the stage with a Hey, look at my perfectly proportioned totally-not-enhanced-by-poultry torso?

I mentioned this statement by the pageant official to Emily, and her reply was nowhere near as outraged as I was. In fact, she seemed to think it was funny that I cared at all that the pageant enforce some kind of standard.

“Where do you draw the line?” she asked. “Do you tell contestants they can’t dye their hair?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess…”

But, really? It sure seems like this is a clear case in which we should just say no. No to the chicken cutlets. No meat products allowed during a beauty pageant. No murdering helpless animals and stuffing them down bikini tops.

Just no. It makes beauty pageants even more of a joke than they are.


I pressed Emily again on this whole abuse of poultry thing. “But look, even though we can’t draw a line I think we should just keep the poultry out of the pageant.”

“It’s not chicken. Dumbass.”

Guys, apparently “chicken cutlet” is a euphemism for a gel-insert or something.

The more you know. *rainbow*

Saturday, May 2, 2009

There’s no crying in hockey.

My darling monkey, climber of reckless, jumper of daring.

She clambered up the back of her high chair, purposed to dive headlong into the seat. I watched hockey, attending the flying bodies and brutal hits and players getting to their feet with blood streaming from their foreheads and waving off trainers. “I’m fine,” I can see them mutter before getting ten stitches and returning to the game.

Her foot lost its footing on a foothold, and down tumbling she came, tiny butt cushioning her collapse, lollipop head snapping backward to ring off the glass door leading out to the patio.

It was a dull ring, a low tone, but louder than the cheers and whistles and slapshot sounds coming from the television. I turned my head to examine her predicament with every corner of my eyes.

Face scrunched. Certain that crying was warranted. “Dat scare you?” she asked.

“Did that scare you?” I repeated, clarifying.

Yeah,” came her breaking reply. Taking my comprehension as confirmation, she let the tears come. “Are you cwying?”

Often, usually, her hurts are scripted: Did that scare you? Are you okay? Are you sad? Are you crying? Let me see. You’re okay. Dust yourself off. Let me kiss it. You’re okay. You’re okay.

This time I watched her tear up and I did not offer to examine her gaping wound.

She stared into all the corners of my eyes, replacing conviction with hesitation. Then she turned into a hockey player.

I want TRY AGAIN!”

Friday, May 1, 2009


I don’t really understand the link between hormones, brains, and behaviour.

I don’t understand what it is about the change in brain chemistry during pregnancy that makes a woman like my wife suddenly need to make CD jewel case covers at two in the morning. I mean that although I understand that the chemical change is supposed to be responsible for this sudden craftiness I don’t understand the mechanism at all. How does the brain figure out that what it needs in order to satisfy it’s new chemical overlords (Hail Chemicals!) is to decorate things.

I also don’t understand the connection between pregnancy and sudden midnight acts of baking (with Rice Crispies, a delicious cereal product made by Kellogg, as someone pointed out on my last post and really what that means is that I owe Safeway a dollar because they mistakenly gave me a dollar off the Rice Crispies with my General Mills Buy 3 Get $1 Off each coupon.) I also don’t understand the connection between chemistry and inspiration. She baked Rice Crispy Treats with regular marshmallows (Air-puffed) and the Yellow Moons, Purple Goats, Green Broccoli, and Blue Shamrocks from Lucky Charms (a General Mills cereal that I’ve enjoyed since I was a wee lad. Best when accompanied by a cup of Lucerne Vitamin D milk and eaten out of bowls purchased from IKEA.)


But I especially don’t understand the connection between chemistry and cleaning (with Seventh Generation cleaning products purchased at Target).

In particular, I don’t understand the connection between her hormone levels fluctuating and my sudden need to clean the kitchen.

(Editor's Note: Yes, I cannot spell "Rice Krispies." This is yet another reason that I will never actually get paid to do product placement posts.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Emily, 10 months pregnant and gravid as…a very gravid woman…sent me to the store tonight for cereal. Being the discerning consumer that she is she only chooses the most nutritious and delicious cereals made by the most ethical, socially responsible, and environmentally friendly companies.

“I want Lucky Charms. And Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And Rice Crispies.”

Realizing that I had a coupon for one and only one cereal company I asked: “Are those all General Mills cereals? I hope so. Because General Mills is the only cereal company that Backpacking Dad endorses. Also, I have a coupon for $1 off if I buy three. They knew you’d be asking.”

“I also want whatever you need to make Rice Crispy Treats.”

“Would that be Air-puffed Marshmallows and Land-O-Lakes butter? Because although I don’t have a coupon for them, I am happy to purchase products from those companies.”

“Just go.”

I went. I used a coupon. I returned.

“Is that an hourglass?”

“You mean inside the Cinnamon Toast Crunch that I purchased in the convenient 1lb box?”



Emily wolfed down a bowl of delicious Cinnamon Toast Crunch and came back for seconds.

“I don’t think I can control time with this hourglass. That’s kind of a rip-off.”

I could see why she would think that. But, not wanting the great General Mills thought of as less than considerate, I offered:

“Call the Enterprise.”

“What? This hourglass calls the Enterprise?”

“No. But there’s a communicator in the Lucky Charms.”

And she went away, yet another satisfied General Mills customer.

General Mills. They sure do make cereal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Debate: Gay Adoption

This post represents a deliberate attempt to enflame the passions of the internet and drive traffic to this blog so that I can make tons of cash from all of my advertisers.

I would also like to say (and this may sound a bit off-topic, but it has to be said): Pepsi is the most spectacularly tasty beverage ever made and Coke really can’t hold a candle to it.

Now, to the issue at hand:

I read somewhere in a report from someone to some political body in Europe that if homosexual couples are allowed to marry, and thereby gain all of the protections and rights of such a relationship, that it would be way easier for them to adopt kids. And that, in the opinion of the group responsible for this report (I don’t know who they are, but I read it on the internet so just trust me: it is very very credible), this was the primary reason to not allow homosexual couples to marry. Because we shouldn’t, in the opinion of the writers of the report, make it as easy for gay couples to adopt; that a homosexual marriage would not, in general, be a good environment in which to raise children. Maybe some gay couples would be great co-parents, but they’d be the exception, and the rule requires that this be discouraged. So: no gay marriage because no gay adoption.

This argument was not deployed during California’s Proposition 8 campaign. Not that I recall, anyway. Maybe it was. I’m not a very good payer of attention. But if it wasn’t, why not?

Is the premise true (that as a rule a gay marriage is not a good environment in which to raise children?)

Is the alternate premise true (that it is better to raise children in heterosexual families and so, as a rule, gay adoption should be impeded or at least the process more selective?)

Is the Precautionary Principle of any help here?

Do you know what else is awesome (sorry, again a little tangential)? Huggies diapers. They have Mickey Mouse on them and Erin loves Mickey Mouse.

Here’s my two cents: the opinion that an average gay marriage poses a greater risk to child development than an average heterosexual marriage is based on no respectable empirical data. Why? Because gay marriages have been so few and far between and so recent that there is no data set to sample from for us to be able to tell if the kids are turning out worse or being damaged in some particularly gay way.

And deploying the Precautionary Principle without understanding what parameters need to regulate it (I have a friend who does nothing but think about the Precautionary Principle all day long and how it is misapplied all over the world and particularly in international environmental regulations) is overzealous. At that extreme level of precaution we should also be building space defenses against alien invasion…just in case: We have no data that says aliens are likely to invade, but if they did it would be really bad.

As for a priori reasons to think that children of gay couples will, necessarily (that’s what it would mean if the reason is a priori) be damaged…what? On what grounds would we think that they’d have to turn out worse or damaged? I don’t mean on what empirical grounds, because we already know we have none of those (see above re: poverty of data sets). I mean on what logical, conceptual grounds. What is it about the concepts of parenthood, family, homosexuality, and childhood that would tell us that kids with gay parents would be worse off, as children and later as adults?

Toyota makes some pretty good cars and SUVs. We only buy Toyotas.

What do you think? Do you think, like a crazy person, that letting The Gays adopt kids is worse than the Holocaust, which, according to you, never happened? Or do you think that every loving couple who wants to raise children is perfectly suited to do so (which is what you should think if you are at all intelligent and not a total racist)? You are either one or the other. You are either a crazy Holocaust denier racist or a rational human being.

Which one are you? Please explain your reasons.

Also, please buy Pepsi, Huggies, and Toyotas.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Birthday in Suburbia

In the end even though she was only turning two we invited something close to eighty people.


In the beginning even though she was only two we held a joint party with her best friend.


In the middle even though the cake had been cut and served a second wave of guests arrived, extending the party out for another hour.


In the beginning even though it was her birthday party we insisted on No Gifts.


In the middle we saw that some people had brought gifts along anyway, and we knew Erin would love them like she loves everything else in her piles of toys and books stored on the edge of a dining room without a table.


In the end we raised 228 lbs of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.


In the middle there were bubbles everywhere.


In the end there were once-more empty tables.


In the beginning Emily decided to bake Cup Cones for the party.


In the beginning we wondered how to throw a suburban birthday party for a kid who is just as happy to wander on her own as to see her friends from around town.


In the middle we were surprised at how much fun it all was.


And in the end our little pink butterfly had a pretty good birthday party.