December 2013

Santa 2013

We have had several Santa sightings this year, starting on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Noni was visiting us that week and she accompanied Everett along with the twins for their first meeting with Santa. Our next sighting was two days after Thanksgiving for the Santa Rampage. It took a fair amount of preparation to get the entire family on the Rampage, but it all worked out. At around 7am we got dressed: Chris as Santa, Melissa as Santa’s helper, Everett as Rudolph and the twins as baby Santa and a baby reindeer. Melissa got on her bike and we loaded Everett and the twins into the front of the Bakfiets, and finally attached the Santa trailer with Christmas playlist and stereo and headed to Cranky Al’s. It was our first bike ride with the entire family and it was a great way to start the Rampage. Breakfast consisted of coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts (Bavarian cream for Chris and Melissa, chocolate with sprinkles for Everett). Afterward we returned home to drop off the children and switch bikes, and then Chris and Melissa went to Café Hollander for the official start. This was the first year Melissa joined the rampage and it was fantastic – after Hollander we rode the tandem with the Santa trailer attached to the Lakefront Brewery for more festivities before Melissa headed back home to care for the children. Chris left soon afterward and rode with Jesus to Conejito’s Place for lunch.

The following Friday we walked to the village for the lighting of the Christmas tree and the arrival of Santa. Once again, all of our children got to meet with him at this annual tradition. Santa arrives on a fire engine, and after the tree lighting he sits in the back of Paulina. The line to meet with him goes from the storefront all the way to the back of the store through a hallway that is too narrow to accommodate the stroller and entourage, so we parked it in the front of the store and carried the babies in our arms. Teddy spit up in Chris’ arms just before it was our turn to meet Santa; most of it went on the floor, but a fair amount of it also went onto Chris’ jacket and arms. Fortunately there were many other parents nearby, including the owner of the store who has three children, one of whom is a newborn, and many of them offered paper towels and sympathetic responses. So Chris squatted to the ground with Teddy in one arm while trying to clean the spit up off himself and the floor with his free hand, and at the same time preventing any nearby children from walking through it. Everett decided that this would be a good time to undress and asked Chris “Dada, can you hold my hat and gloves and jacket?” Um, no. On a related subject, Chris had a work dinner recently with an Italian colleague who proclaimed that Italy has a saint for everything, so Chris asked if they have one for logical behavior from children (adults are a different matter). It appears that the answer to this question is also no.

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BCS Update

Longtime readers of this blog no doubt recall the entry a few years ago about the BCS and the need to dismantle it in favor of college football playoffs. Astonishingly, this may actually come true, but not without a lot of speculation about “Armageddon” scenarios for the final season of the BCS: it appears possible that there will be two undefeated teams, neither of whom automatically qualify for a championship game, along with a large number of very good teams with one loss. And if this happens then the last year of the BCS will be one in which the subjective nature of its ranking system will be exposed to a greater degree than its creators ever imagined. We can’t claim full responsibility for the elimination of the BCS, but the fact of the matter is that we wrote on this blog about the need for playoffs, and sometime later they came about despite seemingly impossible odds. Therefore, in the hopes of making further progress in American football, we would like to recommend another important change: the NFL and college football should convert to metric units. This would likely have many benefits, one of which would be to increase the appeal of American football to an international audience, most of whom consider football to be what Americans call soccer. The simplest way to implement this change would be to convert the field length to 100 meters long by 50 meters wide. Endzones would be 10 meters long. Goal posts would be 3 meters off the ground and 6 meters wide. Footballs would be 3 decimeters long and 6 decimeters in circumference at the center, and they would be inflated to about 90 kPa. This is all pretty straightforward, though it might require that some stadiums be renovated or rebuilt, but we think that the fans who see the value of metric units won’t mind paying higher taxes to build new stadiums. However, the real advantages could be gained in scoring. With the conventional scoring system it’s often hard to tell what sequence of events led up to a particular score. For example, today the Packers won against the Cowboys 37-36 (despite seemingly impossible odds after the first half). How did this come about? We can only speculate and wonder from the score alone. However, an alternative could be a system where touchdowns and field goals are treated separately, and this could be achieved using complex numbers. In that case the score would be Packers 34+3i and the Cowboys 21+15i. The absolute value of the scores would be Packers 34.13, Cowboys 25.81, and using this system it would be clear that this game wasn’t as close as it seemed. This would justify the use of scientific calculators during football, which at the very least would be a fun episode to watch on the The League. It could happen.

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We still have a Boppy from when Everett was nursing, and while Melissa was pregnant a friend lent her a My Brest Friend Twin Plus. It’s like a buffet table that straps around Mom’s waist. When the twins were newborns it was large enough for each of them and a friend. We called it the milk bar. They are now about five months old and have grown a bit, first by getting fatter and then by getting longer. It is somewhat amazing to think that it’s possible to create a person from breast milk alone.

Soon after the twins arrived we were informed by a lactation consultant at the hospital that breastfeeding requires dedication and commitment from Mom. Really? This hardly qualifies as an insight – what if someone else is dedicated but Mom isn’t? Fortunately, Melissa is determined to nurse both of them and has been doing so almost exclusively since soon after birth. A curious side effect of this has been that it takes a lot of work to get Gwen or Teddy to take milk from a bottle (even breast milk). Also, they are often hungry if Melissa is in sight (or earshot) but seem content for much longer periods between feedings if she isn’t around. Another interesting behavior is that they have become very curious about what’s going on around them, and sometimes get distracted while nursing. Melissa has tried to address this by limiting sensory stimuli.

Having infants has raised our awareness of breastfeeding. Chris has begun to notice “lactation room” signs more frequently, usually on women’s bathrooms, which has renewed his curiosity about what else might be in there. Couches? Home theater systems? A tiki bar? For those of us who don’t have access these ideas don’t seem so far fetched. He has also learned to recognize the International Breastfeeding Symbol,

and has become aware of lactivists, who seem to run the range from educator to fanatic, depending on who you talk to. For example, the International Breastfeeding website also recommends a “truth in advertising” label for baby formula. If you read the language in it you begin to realize that these are people with very strong feelings about breastfeeding, and it may be difficult to walk the fine line between encouragement and fanaticism. Granted, breastfeeding is probably a good thing to be a fanatic about. But what’s troubling are the implications of not breastfeeding. Culling some text from this page, it sounds like breastfeeding is for dedicated mothers who want their babies to be fed supreme perfection. Otherwise, your child can be fed a superficial facsimile that increases the risks of a long list of scary-sounding diseases. That seems pretty harsh. No wonder mothers seem to experience so much anxiety about making the right choices for their children among myriad possibilities. And who can forget the Time Magazine cover with the woman breastfeeding her son with the caption “Are you Mom enough?” The most concerning part about this is that most parents, especially Moms, already have a desire to do a good job, and there are seemingly endless things to worry about with children. So perhaps the best possible approach for nursing Moms is promotion and encouragement, but without some of the judgement. Fortunately we have been able to find people who provide this kind of support.

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The Y-Tribe event this month was bowling at Bluemound Bowl last Saturday morning. It was fun as always to see the other kids and Dads from Y-Tribe. It was also fun to win: Everett won the highest score for his age group; Everett and Chris also won for the highest combined score. Everett threw a couple spares, and Chris had four strikes in a row at one point. If there was an award for the most variability from one frame to the next then Chris probably would have one that as well. We are now the proud owners of two golden bowling pins, which Everett is very excited about!


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