A Good Start To November

November 1, 2014- An excerpt from the journal that Becca and I keep for Jane

Potty Time Chart

Today we started potty training and you are crushing it. We’re half way through the day and you just went with virtually no spillage. I’m so proud of you. Obviously, it’s been a long time since I’ve written to you. We came back to the US in february and things have been very chaotic ever since. You seem to really miss being in our little apartment in Ingelheim and I do too. I miss the rabbits in the yard, our friendly neighbors, Geert, Christina, Luise, Gerhild, and Gunther, and our simple life without cars. Although things are harder now, I think we’re making more progress in life.

Just yesterday I was told that I won’t have a job after December 14th. It’s OK because I was getting way too good at a job that I wasn’t passionate about. If you must know, I am cleaning yogurt machines for Peachwave Frozen Yogurt. You seem to love your highly privileged access to frozen treats, but for me, it’s tough work. I get up early in the morning, clean for a few rigorous hours, and come home to care for and entertain you for the rest of the day. Being with you is always the highlight of my day. When I come home often your face will light up and you run to me and hug me. It’s not every time but it’s certainly enough to warm my heart and bring me up out of whatever mood I’m in.

Yesterday was Halloween. Our first here in the States. We were Star Fleet officers. You were a princess and for some reason, Becca decided to get you another princess dress just a week before halloween. Come October 31st, you wore dress #2, Princess Anna from Frozen, got it dirty at the park, and refused to wear the very fancy and more expensive dress we got you. Later in the day, you showed interest again and rocked that poofy dress with an impressive hoop skirt. I was apprehensive when we first started knocking on doors to trick-or-treat (too many years of adulthood) but after a few houses, we were all having a good time. You came home with a noble stock of candy and we are dispensing said goodies to you piece by piece as rewards for your porcelain triumphs.

You’re playing hide and seek with your mom while I clean the kitchen. you just counted, “One, Two, … Ten, Eleven, Thirteen, Fifteen, Twelverteen, ready or not, here I come!”

Keep it up, Jane,



Big Up High

I’m thinking about this woman I met on the playground the other day. Well, I guess I didn’t meet her, I mostly just observed her. Her daughter who looked to be about 4.5/5 years old hopped on the swing and started going. The mother started chanting a weird mantra, “Pay attention, you know you get hurt when you don’t pay attention. You’re tired, make sure you’re holding on. Pay attention…”

Why did she need to talk to her kid like that? She was totally capable. The nagging mom just continued pushing her with tiny pushes and discouraging words while I had Jane on the next swing swinging, “Big up high” as Jane puts it.

It was weird. I don’t get why she felt the need to continuously micromanage her kid. I see this sort of thing all of the time. That, or a parent just talking on the phone the whole time while the kid does whatever.

I can’t help but think that this mother was knocking her little girl down with out even knowing it. It makes me think of how people just fall into certain words and phrases with kids. I see it in myself sometimes. I’m working on getting myself into other habits. Habits of telling Jane that she’s a good person, that she is honest, that she is capable.

Jane on the swings

-Jane at 12 months old on the swings.-

Earlier today I was telling Jane about Becca and I said, “Your Mom is a good person.” She repeated it and said, “I call mommy, say, good person?” I loved that. I think Jane is starting to understand that encouragement is meant to be shared.

I really love being at the park with Jane. She’s at the point where she can just jump in and play with other kids. She’s not in the corner anymore, she’s in the mix. I hope to remember at every stage to keep encouraging her, to select my words carefully and to lift her up at the right times.


Mother’s Day Rant

First of all, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mommies out there. You make our species survive so, that’s great and stuff. 

Yesterday I was talking to some women who were recounting their birthing experiences. As numbers like 10LBS 5oz were being dropped, my heart started to race. Ever since the birth of my daughter, I get a bit of anxiety when the topic of child birth comes up.

I guess you could call me anti-birth. It’s just so brutal. I know that there are many many people who see it as a beautiful and holy thing and some who actually enjoy the travailing. I do not judge those who think this way. Obviously, I haven’t experienced it first hand.

I have a standard line that I pull out in situations when people are talking about child birth. I guess it’s a sign of my getting older. I usually say something like,

“I can’t wait for science to fix birth with teleportation.”

I usually get a nice laugh out of it and so I’ve used it several times now. This time was different though. One of the women in the group responded by saying,

“I don’t think that’s what God had in mind.”

Someone else chimed in something along the lines of,

“We’ve all got to pay for Eve’s sin.”

The conversation digressed into a pit of myths.

I was speechless. This is one of the most heartbreaking topics for me in the entire canon of Christian ideas. The thought that God would punish all women with pain in child birth is completely unthinkable to me. It’s creepy in the worst way. I guess that what God had in mind was for every mother in history having to suffer in order to perpetuate human kind. All I can think of are the thousands of generations of scared young women going into labor with little to no medical knowledge. Surviving birth was a luxury for the vast majority human history and in some places, it still is.

For me, I look at Genesis and see nothing resembling truth. Beautifully written myths, yes. Historical accuracy, no.

Then there is Mary. It seems so rude and cruel that God would supposedly use her like that. Even if she did happily agree to it, how could she have known what she was getting in to? There is a great video out there by Steve Shives called Rescuing the Bible from Christians.

He talks about how unfair it is to the Bible to take it so literally. To demand that everything in that specific collection of ancient books is true, is to detract from the literary value of those writings. I think that it also gets in the way of actually learning from the stories in the Bible.

So, that’s my rant for today. I really hope that science fixes birth. Mothers are amazing to take on the task of birth. The good thing is that things are getting better for mothers.

Addendum: I don’t want to imply that someone who found the experience of birth to be beautiful and transcendent is somehow crazy or masochistic. Birth itself is not wrong. Someone purposely designing it to be that way as a punishment would be wrong. It is the way it is though and I hope that science continues to make birth a less dangerous thing. It’s great that you and many of the others posting here have had empowering birthing experiences and I would never want to diminish that in any way. 

The Pool

Other than recording music, bringing Jane to the pool is the most difficult thing I do these days. Almost everything about it is perfectly tuned for me to be not good at it. Trying to leave the house with everything is a big challenge for me. I get the swim diapers out, the water toys, towels, my bathing suit, and some juice in a bottle. Then I put Jane’s outside clothes on and put my jacket on. At this point I’ve lost my keys. I’m getting sweaty now because I still have my jacket on, Jane’s jumping up and down at the door singing about pool and I’m really feeling the pressure. I resolve to just grab the duffle bag and bring it and Jane outside while I think about where the keys are. Oh. They were in the duffle bag. I get the bike out of the garage and attach the bike trailer to it. I put the girl in the trailer and buckle her in. This hurts my back.

The ride to the Rheinwelle (local indoor swimming facility) is about 20 minutes. Tonight it was raining lightly and not bitter cold so it was relatively easy. We get to the place and it’s time to lock up the bike, get Jane and our gear out of the Croozer and enter the Schwimmbad. It’s ultra hot in the changing area so I take her jacket and shoes off in the lobby. We pay and get an RFID watch thing which we wave in front of a sensor that is connected to a vertical turnstile entryway. It’s a very thin entry and it’s difficult to get through with Jane and the bag all in one shot but that’s what we have to do because there is a bar that pushes us through the apparatus.

We enter the changing room which has a row of doors. Each door is a tiny changing closet. There is one door that has a changing table and can accommodate a small family but this room is almost always occupied. We find a stall and I rummage through our bag. I clothe us and re pack the bag with 4 times as much as what was in it because it’s winter so we have lots of clothes and our jackets and we’re not allowed to wear street shoes in the locker room so I have to carry them or put it in the bag all while making sure that Jane doesn’t run off.

We enter the locker room. This room has tons of lockers. I find one and shove our things in it. It has a locking mechanism that can be activated by my RFID watch shaped wrist band. With toys and towels in hand we are ready to go into the pool room. The Rheinwelle is a huge place. There is a large lap pool, a kids lap pool, a baby pool, and a swirly fun pool with a small climbing wall and a wave maker with a swirly pool thing. Also, there is a hot pool outside that has minerals in it or something. Wow, I’m realizing that I know almost nothing about what to call any of this stuff.

Actually being in the pool is so much fun. Jane screams with delight and gets right to work. She’s at the point where she can walk around in the kiddie pool without falling over all of the time. She even crawls around with her mouth just above the surface of the water. There is a water cannon not unlike the tennis ball cannon from American Gladiators. Jane is somewhat protective of this piece of equipment. If another kid goes to it, she sometimes shouts at them and tries to take over operation of the cannon. I usually intervene.

Without fail, Jane will need to have her diaper changed after a short while in the pool. I strongly dislike this. It takes about 10 minutes to do what needs to be done and without going into much detail I’ll just say, having so much water involved really complicates things. We get back in the pool and it’s smooth sailing for about an hour.

Showers, collecting belongings, drying and changing. Again, this is all much more difficult with water. Everything backwards and we go home. I like the rides home. We have to climb a big hill but the air seems so fresh after being at the pool. I usually talk to Jane while I’m riding. I’ll ask her questions about animals mostly to keep her awake. She has an array of great animal sounds that she can mimmic.

Here’s a picture of the bike setup.


I don’t want to come across as a complainer. It’s not that any of this is bad, it just requires a lot of effort. I hope to improve my organization skills to better optimize bag packing. Maybe I’ll even work on a pool Go bag. It’s so much easier just sitting around and watching Curious George with her at home but something inside of me compels me to take her to the pool. I want her to have experiences and I want her to think of me as a fun parent. Jane, I’ll print this out and put it in our journal for you. I hope that by the time you can read this, we’ll have had a long tradition of going swimming. With each visit you discover more and more and it’s so much fun to see you develop. I brought you to the pool to day and I’m happy about it.

I saw a topless woman today and I didn’t even rape her.

Today on my ride home from teaching lessons I saw a womanly figure in my peripheral vision. She was laying in the grass soaking up some sun. I didn’t want to stare so I just glanced. At first I couldn’t really see what was going on but upon a second glance I noticed something. Breasts. She had two of them. She was sitting with another human being but I wasn’t able to identify the gender. I guess I wasn’t focusing on the other figure. This all lasted about 1.5 seconds and as I rode off I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with that?”

The answer is nothing. She didn’t hurt anyone. She probably just wanted to feel the sun all over her body. I’m a dude so it’s pretty much acceptable for me to bare my (super hairy) chest whenever I want to as long as I’m outside. It’s weird that it’s different for girls.

One of the really cool things about Germany is that this sort of thing is no big deal. I’m sure that no one went up to the woman and asked her to cover up for any reason. She wasn’t causing anyone to “stumble” and if someone did stumble in any metaphorical or literal way because of her choice to not wear a shirt, it would have not been her fault.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about slut shaming. It’s this thing where something horrible happens to a woman and she gets blamed because of her appearance and or past sexual history. We see this ALL OF THE TIME. If a woman is attacked or harassed all too often the first question is, “Well, what was she wearing?” This is the wrong question.

Many of you who have known me for a while probably know that I’m pretty bashful when it comes to sexy stuff. I was the type of guy who would turn away when I walked by Victoria Secret because I would feel embarrassed. For a number of years now, I’ve decided to think about this differently. I came to the realization that sexuality is just a part of life and that I shouldn’t shy away from it or feel ashamed for having thoughts or feeling feelings because they are natural.

I’ve seen some talk recently about the importance of modesty. Some quote the bible and talk about how women are responsible for not causing their ‘brothers’ to sin. This is one of those things that really reveals the age of the culture of the bible. People still think this way and I think that one of the main influences for this is the adherence to ancient religious texts.

A friend of mine shared this today and although it’s written from a Christian perspective, my contrarian mind can’t think of much to say about it other than, “Hell yeah man!” I couldn’t agree more.



Sea Glass

This is an original song that I started writing about 7 years ago. I was in California to spend a weekend with Lisa and Sarah Hine. They are two years apart but have the same birthday so I went out with a group of friends to party with them. This song came to me when I was walking the beach one morning. Sarah lived in Long Beach at the time and Everyone was staying at her house. I remember everyone was just laying around, (it could have been 6 in the morning) so I went out to the beach. The first verse came to me right away after I picked up a piece of sea glass off of the shore. I remember being so impressed with the texture. I love texture.

Less than a year later I found myself in love with a woman named Rebecca. The song started to take meaning in the light of getting to know her. At the time, I was playing music with my best friend, Melanie. When I told her that I wanted to make the song about Becca, she helped me finish it contributing the second verse.

In Sea Glass, I compare finding the glass to finding my love. She, like the glass, had been refined and shaped by tumultuous experiences to become the beautiful treasure that she is.