Category Archives: baby

David Lynch/parenting protip

Don’t watch “Inland Empire” while holding your baby.  Your baby won’t mind, but if you watch a David Lynch movie for ten minutes and then look down at your baby, your baby’s face will freak you out.

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In which I make oblique reference to a change in my personal circumstances

When you fill out a birth certificate in Wisconsin, there’s a “Mother’s Information” section and a “Husband’s Information” section.  If you’re unmarried, you’re not allowed to put the father’s name on the birth certificate.  You have to leave it blank, and petition the State Vital Records Office after the fact to get the father included.  And if you are married, you have to put the husband on the birth certificate, whether or not he’s the father of the child.   In fact, if you’re married to Mr. X, conceive a child by Mr. Y, and subsequently get divorced from Mr. X, the ex-Mrs.X still has to put Mr. X on the birth certificate.  He can only be removed by court order.

What can the rationale for this be?  I guess it must arise from acrimonious cases where the paternity of baby X is really unknown, but Mr. X, angry at having been cheated on and dumped, insists, rightly or not, that the baby is not his, and refuses to pay child support.

It is not at all clear how you’re supposed to fill out the form if you’ve been married to more than one man over the course of the pregnancy.

(Mrs. Q would like me to clarify that the abovementioned change in my personal circumstances is the one which entails filling out a birth certificate request with the State of Wisconsin, and does not involve any alterations in marital status, unknown biological parentage, or outstanding claims of child support.)

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Parenting for primates

If you’re a primate and you have kids, I encourage you to pick up my aunt Harriet Smith’s book Parenting for Primates, a book of useful parenting advice field-tested by millions of years of natural selection and informed by my aunt’s many years of raising cotton-top tamarins in her house. She just got a nice writeup in the APA magazine Monitor on Psychology.

It’s just squash curry!

CJ and I went to Taste of Madison today, where the assembled restaurants and caterers of Dane county sell mini-portions of selected items at $4 a pop, and formerly anonymous members of formerly popular AOR bands play the Solid Rock Stage. (This year, anyway. Last year we got Lou Gramm!) CJ was adventurous, as usual, happily putting away half a spinach and mushroom enchilada, some Indonesian corn fritters, and half a bag of fried okra. He was in an independent mood and wanted to hold his food himself; he tried this with a take-out box of squash curry but immediately dumped most of it on the ground. Then a woman walked by and stepped in it. She started complaining to her friends and seemed pretty upset — after a second I realized that, having stepped in something kind of yellow and creamy with rice embedded in it, she thought she’d stepped in someone’s vomit. I wanted to explain the actual situation, so I called after her, “I’m sorry about that, it just happened!” but that only made her hurry away even faster, and I realized that she thought I was the one who had just vomited, and was uninterested in my apology. I hope it didn’t ruin her day.

Do you need daycare in Madison?

An experiment in using the blog to accomplish something other than yakking about this and that follows:

CJ is in a home daycare which we like a lot: T. (not her real initial) takes care of 4-5 kids at her house in Middleton (just over the Madison border, an easy 15 minute drive west from the campus area.) CJ’s been going there for almost a year and we’re very happy with his situation; T. is experienced and caring (and state licensed), the house is pleasant and filled with fun toys (which for CJ means “lots of trucks”), CJ doesn’t get sick very much. Dropoff is 8-8:45, pickup is 4-5.

Two of the kids there have just moved on to preschool, so T. has two openings, one for a child of any age (even an infant) and one for a child 2 or older. Part-time attendance is a possibility. If this might suit your needs, send me e-mail and I’ll put you in touch with T.

Why yellow is a good color for kitchen linoleum

Because at some point your kid is going to dump a whole bottle of turmeric on the floor, and when he does, the stain is really not all that bad.


I always thought “togetherness” was an ordinary English word, but it turns out it was invented in 1954 by McCall’s magazine as part of a publicity campaign to encourage families to do things, well, together.

“…this new and warmer way of life not as women alone or men alone, isolated from one another, but as a family sharing a common experience… Had Ed been a father twenty-five years ago, he would have had little time to play and work along with his children. Husbands and fathers were respected then, but they weren’t friends and companions to their family. Today the chores as well as the companionship make Ed part of his family. He and Carol have centered their lives almost completely around their children and their home.”

Time Magazine reports on the end of togetherness, 1959, here. Did you know Time’s entire archive was available free online?

Update (27 Jun) John Cowan points out in comments that in fact togetherness was a well-established English word before the McCall’s campaign. Maybe I should start looking stuff up before I post! I do get the impression from the contemporary sources that in the mid-50s the word was very strongly associated with the campaign; but maybe it should be seen as roughly analogous to the present position of the word “abstinence,” which has a dictionary meaning but which at the moment is closely attached to a specific political initiative.

Puter Puter

If you have a baby and a Mac, I highly recommend recording some samples of your baby talking, cutting them up in GarageBand, and putting a loop under them. Nonstop fun. You can hear my first attempt below:″
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