Baby Steps: Drunken Sailor

Oscar walking

Oscar, my little drunken sailor 🙂

Oscar is getting stronger everyday with his newfound passion: extreme toddling. He still uses the cart some, but mainly for the hilarious thrill of running it into the backs of mommy and daddy’s legs or making the dogs run for cover. More often, he’s walking.

Here’s what walking looks like right now. He strides somewhat bowlegged, swaying side to side like he’s got sea legs or has had one sippy cup too many. His arms are upraised for balance, but it looks like more of a celebratory ‘huzzah” type gesture. Indeed, his enthusiasm and joy at his progress is infectious. He catches himself mid-stumble, sways on his tiptoes, then returns to his peerless toddling form and continues, halting and swaying, ever onward.

He looks like a very small, very cute drunken sailor.

He also looks disconcertingly like Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here—around 2:15, that’s what Oscar’s walking looks like), especially when his arms are upraised. It kills me. Damon doesn’t get the joke, but he doesn’t share my passion for musicals. Meh.

I keep trying to get a good picture, but all I ever manage to capture is a blur of movement. My only excuse is that he’s a very fast-moving drunken sailor / Tevye.

How the Tables Have Turned

It seems only two weeks ago I was writing about the great energy boost I get each spring. Actually, it was only two weeks ago that I wrote that. Huh.

Shortly after penning that piece, there was a seismic shift. Around six weeks, similar to last time, my energy dipped. Hormones: gotta love ‘em. Now my mind is still racing and I’m still super inspired, but my body… just… can’t… quite… muster up the energy to do much more than sit on the couch and cheer Oscar on as he races to and fro.

You catch that? Yes, that’s right. We’re pregnant.

This is going to be epic. 🙂

As a funny little aside, this is our 100th post. Nice little bit of happenstance. Huzzah!

Baby on a ring

Damon and I call this “baby on a ring”

Tragedy & Transformation

I’ve had to rewrite this post several times from scratch this week, so murky and tangled are my thoughts and feelings, in hopes the writing will untangle some of the snarl.


Photo by Anna L. Tulou Orr

This has been a hard week for many. With the incidents in Boston, in West, Texas, and the ongoing strife in many areas of the world, I think many of us are just exhausted. I’ve always been a person who cried readily over movies or books or news stories. Since becoming a mom, I even cry over commercials and storybooks—my paradigm has shifted. Now I see every single human being through a new lens; I see that every single one of them is someone’s child, whether events have cast them as victim or villain or hero. We are all someone’s baby, regardless of what good we’ve done, nor what harm.

So much good can rise out of terrible grief. Extreme circumstances often show us the best of humanity, and I honestly believe (because I must) that this is by far the stronger force. Grief can be cathartic. The Leong family unexpectedly lost their five-year-old son just last weekend—and through their terrible grief, they sought and continue seeking to find light, to find meaning, wanting to arrange to donate their son’s organs to help some other person, calling for random acts of kindness to be shared on their Facebook page (wonderful and heart-lifting to read so many posts), and asking for charitable giving in their son’s memory. I hold them in awe and am so grateful for the example they set, the things they’ve been teaching me and so many others this past week.

To those in Boston who ran to donate blood or ran toward the explosions to help the wounded despite the obvious danger, you are heroes. In the midst of unthinkable violence, you remind all of us of what we hold to be undeniably good. No one can argue it.

When I was in school, a student was shot and killed after a concert for his shoes, a senseless act. His parents came to the school and spoke to us, and I remember, young as I was, being frankly dumbfounded. Their son had been brutally, needlessly killed, and they stood in front us talking about compassion, about forgiveness. I have carried that message with me throughout my adult life, and I thank them for teaching me something very important about the nature of grace, the nature of peace.

My heart breaks for the victims, my heart breaks for the families that are left behind to grieve because all too easily, I can imagine the horror of losing a child, a husband, a parent. The very thought of it makes it hard to breathe.

My heart breaks for the aggressors and their families. It is hard to imagine what happened in their lives to bring them to this place, this harrowing hunt. It is hard to imagine what their families might be going through right now.

My heart breaks when I hear that a Muslim woman out walking with her child in Boston has been assaulted and accused of being a terrorist simply because she was wearing a hijab (revealing her religious affiliation) on a public street.

And my heart breaks when I hear friends, people I believe to be good, compassionate people, talking about what they want to see done to the suspects. Talking about an “eye for an eye,” saying that torture would be a good idea, saying they should hand them over to the bar crowd in Boston for mob justice.


Much of the talk I hear, I know, may be simply blowing off steam, yet it all adds up to a weirdly accepted public dialogue, a potentially frightening social consciousness and conscience. Consider this: even if you’re blowing off steam and you “don’t really mean it,” perhaps your child hears you. Perhaps your friends don’t realize you don’t mean it, and maybe, just maybe, it makes them feel a little more okay with their own impulses to lash out, to retaliate, to seek revenge, to denounce an entire group of people based on the actions of a few.

Small and seemingly innocuous statements add up to become big, ugly social issues. This is where racism comes from. This is why innocent people are attacked. And our children—because everyone is someone’s child—soak it up. It’s not the kind of pay-it-forward that I support.

Let’s be clear: there is a difference between revenge and justice. Due process must not be sacrificed to vigilantism and hatred, not even in jest.

Grief can be cathartic. Great tragedies can allow a great light to shine into the world, standing in stark relief against dark events. Or, grief can turn to anger, intolerance, and further violence.

Grief must and should be struggled with in order to forge a better, stronger community. This is what we have learned from our greatest teachers: Gandhi, Jesus, Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, to name a few. All witnessed horrendous violence and intolerance and met it, unflinching, with peace and compassion. All changed the world, against all odds. Pacifism is not for the faint of heart.

So here is my plea. Wrestle with your grief and temper your anger—do not let your rage poison you. Be mindful of the voice you are sharing with the world. Let your voice be a light in the darkness. Hold your loved ones close. Seek out opportunities for grace.

We are all of us someone’s child, and children learn.

Baby Steps: Walking Tall

With the proper start of spring came Oscar’s first steps. He’d been walking while holding on to things for a while already, but by “first steps,” I mean he’s walking on his own, unassisted by holding on to anything. He is giddy with the accomplishment.

Weekday evenings go like this. We get home. He protests loudly when I put him in his playpen (so I can let the dogs out). I hear the song “Don’t Fence Me In” in my head as the soundtrack to his complaints. I bring the dogs back in, feed them, and liberate Oscar from his babycage playpen.

Oscar and his walker

Oscar pushing his walker (and wondering why I’m in his way *grin*)

While I prep dinner, little man sets about his work. He grabs his walker—it’s like taking a taxi for a new toddler—and zooms through the living room, through the dining room, into the kitchen… and into the back of my legs, often enough. There he stops, grabs the hem of my shirt or scarf, walks around me on tiptoes, grinning up and gleaming with pride. He lets go of my hem, toddles across the kitchen floor, arms outstretched for balance, laughing with raucous glee at his success and sheer daredevilry (is that a word?).

With each step, he laughs harder, till by step eight or nine he’s doubled over and falls down to his knees. He looks up at me again, bright-eyed, then crawls or walks back to his walker, and off he zooms for another cab ride around the house.

Repeat ad infinitum.

We take a break for dinner, then it’s immediately back to the races. He doesn’t even have time for the stairs anymore. Stairs are so two-months-ago. No, now it’s all about the perambulation. He doesn’t even stop for the dogs, poor things—they do their best to stay out of his way.

By seven o’clock, he’s tiring out but far from slowing down. Still zooming and testing and walking and testing in his constant toddler circuit training course. I think he would probably keep going till he just passed out on the floor, legs twitching, but when he starts stumbling and complaining more, Damon and I nod to each other that it’s time to intervene and put him to bed.

I carry him upstairs, and he complains all the way, reaching back, wanting to movemovemove! But by the time he hits the changing table, the thumb’s in his mouth, he’s rubbing his eyes, and his giggles are interrupted here and there with monstrous, jaw-cracking yawns. I take off his shoes (if they even lasted this long) and find his feet steaming hot and damp with sweat. I pull his socks as far as they’ll go before popping off of his feet—this always makes him laugh—and as the cool air hits the hot, damp skin of his feet, he slaps them against the end of the changing table as if to congratulate them on a job well done, flexes his toes, and grins up at me.

I love the punctuation of those smiles, each one marking a beat, an acknowledgment that passes between us. I used to measure out our time together in feedings. But now? Now I measure it in those smiles.

And lots (and lots and lots) of baby steps.

New Look for HomeBecoming!

Our good pal Anna Strahs Watts came by yesterday and took some pics with the family – and thanks to her the blog has a brand spanking super spiffy new banner image! After fiddling with cropping and adding the title text, etc., of course I had to switch up all the colors. Isn’t it beautiful?

If you live in the Richmond, VA, area, Anna is just getting started as a photographer. She has a wonderfully easy manner with people, is good at figuring out what you’re looking for, what makes you tick, and she’s great with kids. Oscar adores her. So if you’re interested in getting in touch with her for some work, just let me know in the comments.

Here are a couple more of the pics she’s taken with us recently…

Oscar and his blue balloon

Me and Oscar and his blue balloon. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts

Oscar with his balloon

Oscar admiring his blue balloon. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts


Oscar clapping

Oscar demonstrating his clapping proficiency. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts

Oscar walking

Oscar walking with Daddy. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts

Oscar and Damon

Damon and Oscar – LOVE this picture. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts

Happy family

One happy family. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts