Archive for the ‘Baby!’ category

Are we allowed to call this crawling?

August 9, 2009

Mason at and approaching eight months

July 11, 2009

By popular demand, here are thirty recent Mason pictures. Click here for a slideshow, or on the photo below to peruse the album at your own pace.

Mason @ 8 months

Deanna and I celebrated our fifth anniversary yesterday— best move I ever made. It’s such a joy to see this little guy who is a result of it.

22 New Mason Pictures

February 17, 2009

By popular demand from the folks back home, here’s the Bub…

From latest Mason Pix

More pix here.

Fig Tree Pocket

February 4, 2009

It’s 82 degrees (28 C) and sunny in Brisbane today.

From first week

I thought I’d better just get that out of the way. If you haven’t just turned off the computer in disgust and you’re still reading then you must love us a lot, so I’ll feel free to wax on about our Brisbane adventure and not worry too much about being boring. Everyone I can think of who reads this from time to time is either in snow today or in Melbourne, where it hasn’t been below 100 degrees for… how long now? All I can say to mitigate the injury is “come visit!”

We are settling in here, after a trip down that was so much better than we expected. After my last entry here, from Fiji, we were actually bumped up to first class for our last flight. Then another first class passenger switched seats with us so that we could have a bassinet. He turned out to be the Papua New Guinean ambassador to Fiji.

From Mason's first week in Australia

We were picked up at the airport by our Rotary Host Counselors, Jeff and Milena Stephens. They also brought along Peter from Rotary, who transported all of our bags in his truck. It was a little embarrassing to be traveling with so much stuff (six big bags and six little ones), but we were certainly glad that Mason got a full baggage allowance.

We spent several lovely days at their house getting oriented (or orientated, as the Aussies say) to the city and trying to work our way around the clock face so that we were eating, sleeping and waking at reasonable hours. We’re pretty well adjusted now, though I still wake up early in the morning, which has never been my m.o. Jeff and Milena were so good to us and we’re continuing to enjoy their help figuring things out and their good company.

From Mason's first week in Australia

After a few days with them we moved to the new apartment, and we’ve now been here a little over a week. That’s long enough to hang the pots and pans in the kitchen and stock up the spice rack, unpack all the suitcases, figure out how to use the washing machine and how to catch a bus into town.

That bus has taken us to the local mall more times in the last week than we went to the mall in the last three years in Asheville, I think, but this mall is also where the library, the grocery store and the doctor are found, so that statistic isn’t quite as scary as it would be otherwise.

Yesterday we had a free visit with a nurse there, who checked Mason out and answered some questions for us. She also weighed him, and after converting from the metric we found that our little Gordito now weighs 14 pounds and 3 ounces.

From first week

Australia is such a mix of the completely familiar and the surprising, with a bit of absolutely incomprehensible thrown in from time to time. For instance, Jeff and Milena were very helpful in lining up some gear for Mason before we arrived. Mason, by the way, is a ‘bub’ (baby). They asked their Rotary Club if anyone had stuff they could contribute, and— wonderfully— came up with these things for us:

– a bassinet
– a pram
– a capsule
– a bouncinet

Bassinet – so far, so good. Pram we know – we’ve each been to England and we read all the Harry Potter books. Bouncinet we could kind of guess, and were right – it’s a little bouncy seat with a vibrating function that helps bubs drift off to sleep. Capsule…? We were totally lost. Turns out it’s a car seat for infants.

From first week

We have taken the aforementioned pram (or pusher) twice to the park a block away, and enjoyed walks there. The grass is green and the trees are tall and except for the lovely addition of gum trees and wonderfully magical fig trees (for which our part of town, Fig Tree Pocket, is named) everything seems reasonably normal.

From first week

Until a flock of parakeets flies by. Or cockatoos. No kidding, there are cockatoos everywhere in the trees. They’re just lovely, but it’s quite strange— and refreshing— to see all of them living outside of cages.

And no squirrels. I remember when my Kiwi friend Jared came to visit the states for the first time and he asked if we had squirrels. I said “Jared, don’t you have squirrels in New Zealand?” and he replied “Well sure, I’ve seen them… I mean, at the zoo.” I’m going to miss those little guys. The fact that there’s a koala sanctuary nearby might soften my sadness, though.

I’ve been to campus a couple of times, have registered for classes and yesterday I got my student ID. The courses are incredibly appealing to me and I’m looking forward to getting to work. Semester one will include Advanced International Relations, Human Rights and Ethics, and Principles of Conflict Resolution in Deep-Seated Conflicts. How’s that for fascinating stuff?

Classes won’t start until the end of the month, so we have the luxury of several weeks to settle in and get our bearings here, which is a real gift. There is a huge housing crunch in Brisbane at the moment and we were advised to get here as early as possible in order to have time to look for a place. As it turned out, though, the Rotary folks found us this lovely place in Fig Tree Pocket before we even arrived (but after we had booked the plane tickets), so here we are with time to spare.

We’re living in a ‘granny flat’ (which we would call a ‘Mother-In-Law apartment’ back home— isn’t ‘granny flat’ much better?) downstairs from the Regional Director of Rotary. The region includes Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, so it goes without saying that they’re not home much. Actually, we haven’t met them yet, and are looking forward to doing so on the ninth.

From first week

We’ve been enjoying the pool in the backyard quite a lot, though, while they’re gone. I know, I know…

Here I am, suffering for world peace.

These really are good days and we’re deeply grateful, though missing our old life as well. We have such fine friends at home, and of course our family. They really came through for us as we tried to pack up all of the physical manifestations of our lives and careers, while doing the two-month-old-baby-parenting thing. I’m particularly thinking of my buddy Cecil Bothwell, who came and fixed up all the stuff on the house that I had been hoping to get to before I left, and still worked on it after we left, and Barbara Gaw who came to hold the baby while we packed, and my sister Kathy who did little else on her visit to NC, and Ron who also helped bang the house into shape, and MJ who hauled boxes between phone calls and emails, shutting down the business and sweeping the floor at the same time, Marni and Lee who held Mason and lent us a car so we could sell ours and still be mobile for the last few days, and Nance and David who jumped in on all of the above, and Mom and Dad who did too and were always available when we needed them, and our Quaker Meeting, who were so supportive in so many ways, Barbie for the boxes and packing materials, Stephanie, Paul and Katherine, Tom and Lynn, and lots of other friends and family who helped and who offered repeatedly, but we were spinning too fast to actually call… so good, and so deeply missed. Sheez… it sounds like I’m accepting a Grammy. You get the idea, though… we’re deeply grateful, and we’re missing folks.

I trust that those friendships and family ties remain strong, but far away is still far away. Still, I need to make myself look forward and not back, and treasure these days right here in the present. So many parents have written to remind us to savor them because they go so quickly. When we celebrated Mason’s three-month birthday this weekend I was stopped cold by the fact that I only get to have a three-month-old for a month. What an amazing, and ephemeral, treat.

From first week

Having chosen to make some real sacrifices in order to answer this call, though, and then finding things to be so good here, the words of Rev. Howard Thurman keep coming to me: “Don’t just ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”

Here’s to being alive.

From first week

Breakfast in Fiji, the adventure begins…

January 21, 2009

It’s 8:39AM in Black Mountain, 5:42AM in Los Angeles (where we were last), 12:43AM in Brisbane, where we’ll be in eleven hours, and 2:44AM in Fiji, where we’ll be having breakfast, watching the sunset and switching to our last airplane of the trip.

I’m typing in the dark while most of the passengers are sleeping, including an eleven=week-old passenger I’m particularly fond of who is sleeping in a bassinet attached to the wall in front of our seats, and his beautiful mother dozed off in the seat beside me.

From Trip to Australia

There’s no way around the fact that this is a long trip. We left my house in Black Mountain at about one o’clock on Tuesday, and we arrive at almost noon on Thursday in Brisbane. Part of that is due to time zones and such, but in body time it’s about 31 hours. Mason has been amazing through the whole thing. His ears were hurting as we descended from the first flight, but he cried a little and worked it out. He’s been a little fussy now and then, but a few laps of walking the airplane aisles has calmed him. We’re counting our blessings, and hoping he can hold out for eleven more hours.

From Trip to Australia

From an air travel perspective, though, I have to say that he’s quite a boon. Not only does he get full baggage allowance (his bags weigh six times what he does), we’ve bypassed long security lines twice, zipping right up to the front in the “families with small children” lane. I’m not sure we deserve that, but I’m sure grateful for the bonus.

From Trip to Australia

Actually, the trip so far has been filled with kindnesses like that. My parents drove us to Charlotte to get on the first flight, and the desk agent gave them gate passes so that they could come past security with us— out of the blue and with no request. Again, we can chalk it up to the cute baby factor. There are other examples as well but you get the idea. These all feel like good omens.

Packing was a race to the finish, as it always seems to be for me. It’s funny, it doesn’t matter how much time I have, I always manage to be racing around the house at the last minute dealing with important things. I’ve known about this trip for a year, for goodness sake!

Several friends and our family chipped in to help out in the closing weeks. My parents, MJ, Deanna and I were buzzing around the house Tuesday morning, but even with a looming deadline and a chaotic pile of things in the house that still needed to be dealt with, we had to stop for a half-hour and watch President Obama (being sworn in and giving his first presidential address. Having such momentous events on a world-scale and on a personal scale happen on the same day is almost more than my heart can hold.

From Trip to Australia

They’ve just turned the cabin lights back on, which means breakfast will be coming soon, so I’ll sign off for now and check in again after we’ve landed and slept for a day or two.

… Postscript: We landed in Fiji and waited for everyone else to get off the plane since with Mason in our arms, three carry-ons and three ‘personal items,’ we’ve got a lot of junk and don’t want to hold everyone up. The airport here is an open-air terminal, and we walked outside from one building to the next to make our transfer.

The warm, tropical air took our breath away— or maybe I should say gave it back. We left Black Mountain with snow on the ground, and the salty wet purity of island breeze was overwhelming.

Of course, having waited for everyone else meant that we were at the back of a very long line, and after a few minutes Mason started to get a little fussy. I was walking him around to calm him when an airport employee came over to me. I thought he was going to reprimand me for walking where I shouldn’t and being out of line, but actually he was taking us to the front of the line. He helped carry bags, then took us to the Business Class lounge, where I’m writing now. Soft music, plush chairs and free internet.

The best part, though, is that Adi, a Fijian woman who is tending the lounge area, fell in love with Mason and just took him for a walk around the airport to meet her friends. When she brought him back he had a piece of masking tape on his head. She explained that in Fiji that’s what they do when a child has hiccups.

From Trip to Australia

I am amazed to not feel more exhausted, and buoyed by the generosity of strangers. We board again in forty minutes, then will touch down in Brisbane and be done with traveling for a while. Or perhaps I should say ‘travelling.’ Those Aussies and their extra ‘l’s!

From Trip to Australia

Of Baby Bling and Basil

December 9, 2008

It is possible to buy some seriously ridiculous stuff for babies. A recent wander through Babies R Us led to the discovery of endless expensive entertainment options for newborns, including those roughly the age of ours, who is still working on vision at the six-inch range. Slightly more disturbingly, though, it also leads to the discovery of all sorts of new things I should apparently be worried about as a parent.

There are, as even a novice parent like me knows, plenty of sound reasons to worry. I love this Ellen Bass poem on the topic. I imagine I’ll have many years to wrestle that demon over Mason’s fate. Anxious is no way to live, though, and the worrying generally doesn’t actually help with anything, so I’ll fight it for all I’m worth, in spite of the fact that there are very real dangers in the world.

And then there are extremely dumb things to worry about. And where there aren’t reasonable causes, people are only too happy to create them for you if it will make you buy stuff from them. Example: worrying that your baby’s head won’t be perfectly round.

Deanna and I stumbled on this while picking up some baby bottles last week. My favorite part is the text around the photo of the baby, who at first glance appears to be on oxygen. It says “Mom-friendly caliper for measuring the shape of your baby’s head.” Sure glad that caliper is mom-friendly, even if that means the caliper would be mean to me.

I mean seriously… this is a tool for measuring slight imperfections that may not be visible to the naked eye? Are slight variations in symmetry that are invisible really a problem?

I am of the general mindset that people have been successfully having babies for millennia without the use of warehouses full of baby junk, but I have to admit that my smugness is wearing off a bit regarding one bit of gear that I once dismissed derisively.

Wipe warmers are not to be sneered at. Repeated exposures to a child who is understandably upset to have cold things applied to his warm places have been enough to convince me. Not that we’re getting one, but I’m afraid the smirk has been wiped from my face, with a cold wipe.

Here’s the mystery of the month, though… Deanna and I are vegetarian, and we eat a fair amount of leafy greens. That doesn’t explain, though, how the contents of Mason’s diapers could appear to reveal the presence of leafy greens. Close examination appears to reveal that someone sprinkled some wet basil in there. And that just seems like a lot of wasted work— for Deanna to eat spinach, digest it, turn it into milk, give it to Mason, who then reconstitutes it into spinach…?! Parenting is a wondrous adventure indeed, full of mystery and revelation, (and I’m not even six weeks into it).

And speaking of Sir Squeaksalot, here are a few new pictures:

It’s a boy!

November 4, 2008
Da More Mason

I’m thrilled beyond the bounds of language to announce the birth of my son, Mason Bishop LaMotte.

He was born at 11:42 AM on Halloween (that’s what we get for calling him ‘Punkin’).  He was nearly three weeks early, but healthy and plenty big enough to be born at six pounds and ten ounces and 19 1/2 inches.

Thursday night Deanna and I were enjoying the first quiet night at home we had had together for ages, and I talked her into packing a bag for the hospital even though we still had three weeks until the due date.  We went to bed about 10:30 and left for the hospital a few hours later.

Deanna declined all medication and pushed on through the pain to welcome our little guy into the world. He had a bit of a bumpy landing with some transitional respiratory issues and spent his first two and a half hours in NICU, but everything cleared up and he’s been just fine since then.

The name Mason is a nod to my father, who likes to build things with rocks; steps, walls, gardens, benches, etc.  It’s also my nephew Nate’s middle name, and we like that connection as well. Finally, it refers to building, which ties into a talk I’ve been giving for years introducing my song Hope, which ends with the idea that the people who believe in building still far outnumber the people who believe in tearing down.

Bishop is my mother’s maiden name, and a connection to her whole side of the family, whose influence and gifts I treasure and celebrate.

When my mother was born her father was forty, as I am now.  He was so proud of her that he put a pillow in a laundry basket and rode her all over town showing her off to everyone who would take a look.

Mom showed up at the house yesterday with a woven reed laundry basket in which she had sewed a pillow, and which she had lined with fabric from her own 1955 wedding dress. It would be hard to overstate how moved I am by that gift to Mason and his parents.

Here are two slideshows of photos.  The first is basically day one, and the second days two and three.

Day One

Day Two