Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Dear Friends and Family,
Happy Two Naught Ten (2010)! We hope it’s been a wonderful year for you, as it has been for our family. Perhaps our biggest news is that we’ll soon be joined by another member. Our due date is February 22nd, though if Liam’s initial arrival ten days early is any indication of how these things work, we may have a baby even sooner! We’ve decided not to find out the gender, so that element of surprise remains. Strangers seem to suggest that the orientation of Katie’s belly means it’s a boy, but in this house where peer-reviewed scientific literature is our measuring stick for such things, we figure there’s no way to know until the actual birth day. One thing is certain: this little person is definitely a wiggler.
It’s interesting to watch ourselves experience pregnancy and anticipation of a child a second (and, we suspect, final) time. The initial morning sickness is something Katie is happy to check off as finished for this lifetime, though feeling another human grow inside one of us remains amazing, even fantastical. This time around, we have perhaps a more tempered, yet deep sense of awe for what’s to come. As Tim said, when we were trying to figure out when would be the best time to aim for the arrival of a second kid, “That’s like asking me when I’d like to have a bomb dropped on my calendar” (Translation: we now get that parenthood is a huge amount of work). At the same time, we also have a much clearer and profound sense of the ever-expanding love we’ll inevitably feel for this little person.
Aside from our imminent growth in numbers, this has been a big year as we’ve made the move from India to California. In Kodaikanal, our friends, home, and beautiful surroundings were very good to us, so we left with great sadness. We often find ourselves wishing we had a little portal to make even quick visits back for walks around the lake and hills, evening bonfire dinners with friends, visits with Rani and John and the many other Tamilians who helped to raise Liam, and, yes, also some good South Indian idly, dhosa, sambar and coconut chutney. On one of our morning walks here in Davis, Katie pointed out a Datura bush to Liam and reminded him that the same conical flowers had lined the road leading to our house in Kodai. His head noticeably popped up in the stroller, and he said, “Shall we walk to Shelton Cottage (our Kodai house) and visit Rani and John?” Would that we could, child. Would that we could.
Life in the U.S. has been very good to us, however. We’ve been able to see our siblings, Brian and Sarah, and our parents, Topher, Marie, Tim and Sally in a number of beautiful settings, including Waterton National Peace Park in Alberta, Vermont (at the peek of fall colors), and here in California. We look forward to more visits after the birth of the baby. We also love our new home here in U.C. Davis family housing. Our apartment is small, but the community very international (our upstairs neighbors are from South India and speak Tamil!) and the facilities for kids, including a community garden just across the road, and a playground just down the path, are wonderful. We’ve also really enjoyed living next to Liam’s friends Tadd and Elle and their parents, with whom we’ve done a lot of shared childcare.
It’s astonishing to review the year in terms of what Liam has learned. He’s gone from being a one-and-a-half-year old who, if memory serves us correctly, spoke not in full sentences, but in more simple Tamil and English words or combinations of words, to a fully fluent English speaker. Favorite activities include listening to his parents or any willing adult read out loud (any book by the author of Stellaluna is a hit right now), hoeing in the garden or using other adult tools (ie.the paint brush covered in red paint that Tim had told him not to touch), pretending he is some other creature or animal (“I’m Peter Pan”), and playing with friends. Most recently, we’ve been amazed to watch him develop problem-solving skils with other kids (“Hey, Hasham, I have an idea, we can share”). It’s so much fun to witness all of the learning that goes on at this age. Overall, Liam strikes us as a gentle, careful fellow, with a good sense of focus, and a love for books, words and language. Living with him, as we’re sure is the case with any little person, has brought us so much joy and contributed to our own developing repertoires of interpersonal skills (ie. when naptime is near and Liam needs to be persuaded to do something, try on a fictive persona, like Tinkerbell, and you’ll have greater bargaining power).
Tim is doing really well, both as a father and a scientist. He is kept very busy with analyzing and writing up his dissertation work from South India, applying for jobs, presenting his work at conferences and meetings, participating in a training program called Professors for the Future, and keeping non-dissertation research moving along. He also comes home early three days a week to play with Liam so that Katie can get some writing in. He continues to find funding for his graduate career, so his graduation date is flexible at this point—either this spring or the following one. We’re hopeful to make our next move a good one, especially with a new baby, and Tim always has additional research projects to pursue, so we’re not in a huge hurry.
Katie is really enjoying parenthood at this stage. She and another parent friend trade morning childcare, which means when she’s on, she’s accompanied by three little people and any other kids who may be wandering around the park. Watching and helping the kids to play has been an ongoing learning experience and a lot of fun. She also manages to write for three to four hours every day. She just completed the first draft of her second book, a memoir about parenthood and living in India. Her agent, based out of New York, is still working to find a publisher for Katie’s young adult novel. The publishing market is very slow right now, but this agent is accomplished at what she does and still willing to try, so we’re happy to accept her help. One bit of affirmation came this summer when that first book was a finalist in a writing competition judged by Katherine Patterson of Bridge to Terrabithia fame.
We fear that with all the flurry, we will be looking back on these early years of parenthood and wishing they hadn't already slipped away. We are absurdly out of touch with current events. Nevertheless, we spent a good deal of time, both writing and attending events to encourage the cause of universal, affordable health care, something we feel should be a right, not a privilege, for all people, particularly in a country as well off as ours. We also keep those in Haiti in our thoughts, and are following the case for gay marriage as it begins its legal climb here in California’s courts. And, finally, as we approach tax time, we’re doing a small amount of writing to representatives through an organization called NotMyPriorities.org to let them know that we would love for our nation’s fiscal priorities to switch from spending on war to spending on more humanitarian efforts.
In our extended family, our Tanzanian friend, Modesta, will be the first in her family to graduate from university this spring with a degree in Development Studies. We’re so impressed by her hard work and all that she has learned and accomplished over the years. Our siblings both have new jobs—Brian is a clerk for a federal judge in Spokane, and Sarah is in one of the top-level administrative positions for a popular Vermont summer camp, Farm and Wilderness. Both of our moms have been struggling with back and other pain—we’ve been struck by their stoicism and hopeful that their determination to get better will bring them both relief. Our dads, though continuing to work hard, remain well over all, and both lovely men. We’re very grateful for our families, and for you, our friends.
We would love to hear from you and to see pictures of you and yours when you get a chance.
Katie, Tim, Liam and ?
For a recap of our year in photos, please visit this site:
Posted by Katie
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Okay. So Katie's getting really really big these days, and I just have to share it with you all, because it is rather surreal. First there's the fact that you can't really tell she's pregnant if you see her from the back. From the front, you can see the belly, but without 3D glasses, you don't quite understand that it's poking out of the screen and endangering your nose.
For instance, Liam was "washing the dishes,"
And Katie was watching:
Looks kind of normal right? Normal-pregnant. Well, then there's this:
That's absurd, in the sense of Camus. In the sense that upon seeing this picture you might be in danger of loosing your direction in life because the size of that belly fundamentally unstuck your mental certitude. I know!
And finally, a full broad-side:
Monday, January 4, 2010
A hike with the Kolster/Sextons. They are always great. You'd think it would start off something like this, right:
So we hiked up the ridge:
Saw the view:
"Hiked" back down, some of use without clothes, some of us with 30 extra pounds:
And saw the pretty Berryessa dam on the way home.
We then concluded that we need to do this more often. Stebbins is only 30 min from Davis!