About the baby pictures…I can explain

If you’re following my Instagram feed or other forms of social media, I’d like to offer a sort of a apology and a brag all rolled into one. It seems that baby pictures have taken over in the few weeks since my niece was born. People who show off baby pictures to other people always kind of annoyed me — until I became one of them. Maybe I’m a little biased but my newest niece is possibly the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. (I can say that without showing favoritism; I didn’t know the other two when they were babies).

Maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though. The other day my boss asked how my sister was doing after she had complications after an emergency c-session. I said she was doing much better and offered to show him a baby pic. Everyone else had made ooh and aww sounds, but but he kind of gasped.  (To be fair, the first picture I came across, and showed him, was of her red in the face from screaming her lungs out).

“Ya know, when my daughter was born I kept showing pictures of her to people and everyone admired them until I showed them to (one of our most outspoken former coworkers) and she made a comment about her not being very cute,” he said. “I couldn’t believe she said it at the time but then about five years later I went back and looked and had to admit she was right. I think all babies look like tiny, bald old men.”

Anyway, you can be the judge of that. I like having nieces (and I’m sure I’d like nephews just as much) because you can play with them or have all the baby cuddles you want and at the end of the day you hand them back to their parents to do the hard work. A friend must have noticed all the baby pictures on my posts and asked me the other day if I had “baby fever.” Maybe a little, I conceded. But it will definitely pass.

You can see pictures of Addy in my Instagram feed, also on this page.

Thanksgiving dinner: a conversational guide

Happy Thanksgiving. Today is the day we  gather with our families to eat and give thanks. And as long as there are families, there will be people with wrong opinions.  All too easily family dinners can be breeding grounds for nasty arguments.

We’ve all heard not to bring up politics or religion and I’ve read a few articles lately about conversation topics to avoid during family dinners. Katie has a great post over about that over at Sass & Balderdash. Slate has a great guide to winning political arguments with your family.


But I’ve read fewer articles about what TO talk about over dinner. Here are some suggestions for safe (boring) dinner topics.

  • The food. “These sweet potatoes are fantastic, Mom. Could you please pass the peas?” People love food but it generally doesn’t inspire such strong emotion that they’ll get into a fist fight over which was better,  pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Talk about that great cookie recipe you found on Pinterest or that new restaurant that just opened a block from your house. Be careful, though to avoid talking about diets. Especially avoid talking about things you’re eating or not eating because of personal beliefs. It seems innocent to bring up that you only eat organic now, or that you’ve sworn off meat after seeing a documentary about animal abuse in the industry, but that will just cause trouble.
  • The weather. You can’t go wrong with weather talk. We can basically all agree that it’s too cold outside during the winter and that it gets too hot during the summer.  Sunshine is good, rain is mostly annoying. And weather affects everyone so we care about it by default. Be careful, though, not to let weather talk turn into talk about climate change. Was the recent hurricane in the Philippines because of global warming? It’s best to not even talk about it.
  • Your trip home. This could be anything about your flight, drive, or bus road to your house. I’m visiting family in a small, Eastern Kentucky town an hour away from home.  My trip talk is usually a discussion of how many white-tailed deer I passed on the way in. They’re everywhere. But if you’re traveling farther, did the TSA agent get a little too frisky or make an inappropriate comment during your random pat down? Did you sit next to a screaming toddler on the plane? Be careful, though or your talk of the TSA could turn into talk of the NSA, and then we’re back to political arguments.
  • Nothing at all. Some times it’s best to keep your mouth shut. Are you a fan of the Affordable Care Act sitting in a room full of republicans? Bite your tongue and resist the urge to bring up the thousands of low income working adults who will have access to medical care because of health care reform. Maybe even agree with them just to make peace. “Yes, mom, we can all agree that website is a disaster. Do you think they’ll ever get it fixed?” Do you hate the idea of government forcing people to buy insurance, resist the urge to talk about the constitution and liberty. You’re never going to convince them anyway.

What advice do you have for surviving family dinners without getting into an argument?

The strange incident of the tongue-clicking man

Last week I went on vacation with my family.

I, my sister, brother-in-law, two young nieces, mom and dad all stayed in a beach house a block away from the Atlantic Ocean in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

As expected any time a family is in close quarters for an entire week together, hilarity ensued.

We stayed just down the road from Kill Devil Hills, where Orville and Wilbur Wright took the first flight more than a hundred years ago.

The day we visited the Wright Bros. monument, I saw a couple do a strange thing.

We had walked the hill to the top where a massive concrete monument protruded from the ground, marking the spot where the first plane flew. (By the way, why are all the monuments in this country shaped like penises?)

A man there had started to walk away from (who I presume was) his wife. He got maybe 20 feet away and she was still sitting, probably resting from the hike to the top. He turned, looked at her and sort of clicked his tongue. She came to him like he had whistled to a dog. Not a word passed between them. I recounted this story to someone who suggested that maybe the man had a speech problem and could only communicate this way. Perhaps, but I saw no evidence of that.

It was so strange that I told the story to my family. In a rare but misguided attempt at multicultural understanding, my dad (wrongly) assumed I was speaking about one of the few Indian couples that were on the hill with us.

“Well, that’s probably just their custom,” he surmised.

“Dad, it was an American couple,” I said.

He then spent the rest of the day clicking his tongue at us. No one felt compelled to follow him, though.



Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, who doesn’t know about my blog and will probably never read this. Dad, ever since I was a little girl, you….
Wait, I’m just gonna call him.