Friday, February 18, 2011

Reid Amani Quirk is one year big!

Happy first annual birthday to Reid. Of course Reid is no stranger to birthdays, having started with hourly, and moved quickly to daily, weekly, then monthly. But yearly is a big deal. Here he is with a balloon his older brother picked out for him, examining the snow from the window.
Natually Liam is omnipresent in Reid's world, and in someways a larger force than either of his parents, who just play support roles, you know. Here the brothers launch away in their individually sized rocket ships.
They stop for a monkey snack and some prognostication, and...
the voyage ends in mishap.

Liam is a great protector of his little brother .
And helps us to introduce Reid to interesting parts of the world, like squirrels.
But this day, Reid is the main show.
And what a lovely show it is!
Happy Birthday Beedo!
Love, Dad, Mom, and Lemur

Thursday, February 17, 2011

This mama gets political, for once

These days I live in a current-event void, I'm afraid. NPR is my sole source of outside news, and more often than not, children's instruments drown out Steve Inskeep's words. This morning, however, the paid family leave came up on NPR and I politely asked the kids to shut up. Unfortunately, the subject was mentioned essentially in jest. So, I wrote my first letter to NPR:
Dear Steve Inskeep and the Morning Edition team,

As an educated woman who has deliberately chosen what, at times, feels like the very unpopular option to forgo an income and stay home with her children during their early years of childhood, I was glad to hear you bring up the subject of paid family leave on today's program. Two Norwegian men, both cabinet ministers, at home with their babies! Wonderful. Too bad you raised the subject during the ten second interval that you generally reserve for comic jabs about failed bank robber getaways and the like. In an era when women's pay inequity is finally being seriously considered, and when research clearly points to the critical role of early childhood education even quite simply as an economic driver, paid family leave for both men and women seems like a no-brainer.

Norway and its prime minister, the brunt of your joke, support paid family leave for fathers, not because pushing a baby stroller earns a man smiles from the ladies. They offer 10.5 months of paid family leave to a couple for each child, and are enlightened enough to require that some portion of that time be taken by the father or else forfeited. The U.S., on the other hand, is the only wealthy country in the world that provides no guaranteed paid leave to care for a newborn child. A Norwegian-style law in our country would do triple duty: promote father-child bonding, advance women in the work place, and enhance child development. Wouldn't it be in our interest to reward parents for raising high quality future citizens? The U.S. and NPR should be tipping their hats to those courageous Norwegian cabinet ministers, and taking notes.

Katie Quirk
Professional Parent and Writer
If you want to learn more about paid family leave, it's interesting to note what other countries are doing and what the U.S. is failing to do. A Wikipedia article may not the most professional of sources, but it will give you a sense. If you live in CA, WA, or NJ, take note that you may be entitled to some paid family leave.

And now, for those of you who demand at least one photo per post:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Renaissance Man

Before you is a little Renaissance Man, albeit in an odd combination of Tibetan Buddhist and Pirate garb. He goes by the title "Maraguzzi." (pronounced: mara-gootz)
He is something of a literary nut. He *loves* books of all sorts, especially ones with paper pages that are rippable, and edible. So, most books, really.
Here he reads a book.

And here, Maraguzzi also conducts some very rigorous repeated trials of an experiment on angular momentum he's been conducting lately.

And the family celebrates with T K L and R pancakes. (Also known as "Pan-Cock-a-doh-tays")

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rani's Marriage

We are thinking about our dear friend Rani a lot right now. Rani is one of those amazing people whom we feel blessed to have met. She is unusually patient, and generous to a fault. She is sharply disciplined, intelligent, multilingual. She is very often quiet, yet can be quite outspoken, and exceedingly stubborn. And Rani is beautiful, especially when she smiles.

Rani is the youngest girl in a family of nine children. Her father, who died many years ago, was a wood cutter for the international school in Kodaikanal. Her mother was a cook and matriarch of many children and grandchildren. Her mother passed away in 2010 after a long fight with blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma problems.

Rani's life has always involved a lot of care for others. In spite of being a talented student with an unusually sharp mind, Rani was withdrawn from school in ninth grade to care for her sister's baby. Rani went on to care for the children of many other, mostly foreign, children, including Liam Kiran. Most recently, she cared for her mother at great personal expense, passing up marriage proposals and other opportunities. Rani's grace and patience in caring for others was, at once, inspirational and heart breaking.

We were always encouraging Rani to save money for herself, to start making choices for Rani, to insist that her opinion is valuable, to allow Rani to be the boss of Rani. Rani knows all of these things--she's a confident person who brims with talent and potential. But she lives in a family culture where men make all of the decisions. After losing her mom, Rani sent us a letter saying she was was finally able to begin to save money for herself.

A month after receiving that letter, we learned that Rani's family had chosen a husband for her. Her husband lives in another town, and another world, down on the plains of Tamil Nadu. He is a relative by marriage, a man in his late thirties with an elderly mother who will also need care. He works in a textile plant and is poor. His family agreed not to require any dowry for the marriage. Rani felt some apprehension--so did we--but she lives in a place where family is always more important than the individual, and her family had decided.

We've done a bit of grieving and some celebrating, and fortunately a good deal of talking with Rani on the phone, which has involved both tears and laughter. We know that Rani's husband will have a good deal of power over her future. We hope he will learn to see what an incredibly lucky man he is. And we hope this for his mother, as well. In a perfect world, Rani's generosity and good work will be returned to her tenfold. If she has a child, we know exactly how fortunate that child will be. Rani was, and will always be, Liam Kiran's second mother. In that sense, she will always be part of our family.

Tonight, we had our own little puja ceremony for Rani. Reid was too sleepy to join us, but we lit candles with Liam, looked at pictures of Rani, and took turns talking about what we love about her, and what we hope for her in her future. Liam said he doesn't remember everything, but that he loves her and hopes good things for her.

Rani is being married right about now. We hope to talk to her after the ceremony. Most of all, we hope this new life will be good for her.

Rani has taught us so much: grace, trust, love and loyalty to family. We hope her future family will respect and celebrate her wisdom, strength, and sharp mind.

She is a magnificent person.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We Package Reid for Shipping

So, as of course many of you know, we'll be shipping our baby overseas soon. The packaging just arrived, so here are some photos of Reid trying out the box.


I gave him a ball to play with.

But it sure was tight quarters, even for a baby. Eventually, though they get tired and settle into a lower activity state in part because of the lack of oxygen.

Other shenanigans. This is the Liam and Reid High-Chair Peakaboo Challenge. Reid is a GrandMaster at this sporting event.

He also *loves* the fridge, and takes it upon himself to visit whenever he can (which is whenever he sees the door open, and is within "quick-crawl" striking range).
Today that range was all the way across the living room.
Because Daddy had left the door open.