Archive for August, 2011

Standing Room Only on Grandma Sawyer’s Lap

Yesterday I took this picture of Sagan and my mother. Was I capturing a beautiful one-on-one moment between grandson and grandmother?

Sagan - August 20 - With Grandma
Grandma and Sagan

NO! You see, Sagan had some company.

Sagan - August 20 - With Grandma and Willie
Grandma, Sagan… and Willie!

My parent’s minature pinscher, Willie, has not been deterred one bit from sitting on my Mom’s lap. No, siree. He’ll readily share that lap.


Sagan - August 19 - With Grandma and Willie 2
Mom, Sagan…and Willie

…..Or Night

Sagan - August 7th - With Grandma and Willie
Mom, Sagan…and Willie

August 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm 2 comments


Waking up is sometimes a ten to fifteen minute process for Sagan. In the middle of the night, one is tempted to feed him when he first starts to stir, but he refuses. You may think, “Dude, I know you are going to be starving in about three minutes“, but you still have to wait out those three minutes and watch as he stretches and groans and stretches some more.

Ryan actually does a great impersonation of the process. Even when I’m sleep deprived, watching grown-up Ryan act out little Sagan’s waking up ritual makes me smile.

The other weekend we discovered Ryan wasn’t the only one of his siblings with the talent of Sagan-mimicry. Aunt Rachelle is quite adept at copying one of Sagan’s faces.

Rachelle and Sagan
Aunt Rachelle and Sagan

And don’t feel bad for Sagan. He has some impressions of his own up his onesie sleeve. His more passionate cries sound a bit like a goat. He can also do a pretty solid Stephen Hawking.

Stephen Hawking And Sagan
Stephen Hawking and Sagan (Hawking Source Image by Rob Bodman)

He still needs to fine tune his Obama though.

August 18, 2011 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment

Vonnegut and Sagan’s Extended Family

A topic Kurt Vonnegut hit upon often in his novels and lectures was extended families. He explained in Timequake “it is so obvious that we, because we are human, need [extended family] as much as we need proteins and carbohydrates and fats and vitamins and essential minerals.”

In both Timequake and A Man Without A Country, Vonnegut talked about an Ibo family he met in Nigeria in 1970. Despite an ongoing war in their country, two new parents were about to embark on a lengthy journey to introduce the baby to all its relatives— hundreds of them!

I met a man in Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, the best possible news in any extended family.

They were going to take it to meet all its relatives, Ibos of all ages and sizes and shapes. It would meet other babies, cousins not much older than it was. Everybody who was big enough and steady enough was going to hold it, cuddle it, gurgle to it, and say how pretty or how handsome it was.

Wouldn’t you have loved to be that baby?

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

Ryan and I didn’t have to travel far for Sagan to meet the rest of his Aunts and Uncles. They came to us last weekend! We also didn’t have to navigate across a war-torn country… though we did have to brave the DC metro.

Sagan - Day Twenty-Five - Aunt Emily, Uncle Darin, Sagan (Landscape) Sagan - Day Twenty-Five - Being Held By Uncle Jason
Sagan - Day Twenty-Four - With Aunt Rachelle and Uncle Thad Sagan - Day Twenty-Five - With Sara (Grandma in Background)
Sagan - Day Five - Aunt Carolyn Smiles with Sagan Sagan - Day Twenty-Five - Grandma Feeds Sagan
Sagan - Day Twenty-One - With Uncle Jay (Portrait) Sagan - Day Twenty-Five - With Aunt Rachelle

Aunts, Uncles and a Grandma!

Everyone who was big enough and steady enough held him, cuddled him, gurgled to him and told him how cute he was.

Sagan - Day Twenty-Five - Surrounded -  Two Grandmas, Aunt Rachelle, Uncle Jason
Surrounded! Two Grandmas, An Aunt and An Uncle

And this is just the beginning! Sagan still has a Great Grandmother to meet and a whole slew of Great Aunts, Great Uncles, First Cousins (Once Removed) and Second Cousins.

If Vonnegut’s words are accurate, and I suspect that they are, Sagan will be one well nourished boy in the extended family department.

August 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm 4 comments

Sagan and Aunt Carolyn

Sagan’s Aunt Carolyn is a little leary of babies. She’s not a big fan and doesn’t plan on reproducing herself. She met Sagan when he was just five days old and had to be coaxed to hold him.

Sagan - Day Five - Aunt Carolyn and Sagan
We Made Aunt Carolyn Hold Sagan

During her visit, the most common words she used were “Ew” and “Gross”. Example:

Carolyn: What’s that by his diaper?
Vicky: That’s his umbilical cord.
Carolyn: Ew! Gross!

Interestingly enough, the same visit was accompanied by explosive dog diarrhea. That did not solicit an “ew” nor a “gross” from Aunt Carolyn. Instead it provoked a laughing fit. : )

Chart: Most Common Words From Aunt Carolyn's First Visit
Aunt Carolyn’s Most Commonly Used Words During Her First Visit

Despite her vocabulary, I have uncovered strong evidence that Aunt Carolyn is actually a rather strong Sagan fan.

  • She’s done quite a bit of shopping for Sagan– getting him an Eeyore doll, light up shoes AND baby hiking boots.
  • When I was pregnant, Aunt Carolyn was very protective of me, instructing me not to slip on the leaves in her front yard, worrying about me falling executing my pregnant leg-shaving technique and fretting when she accidently collided with my belly.
  • Now that Sagan’s born, she worries about his well-being, reminding others, “Watch his neck.” and “Don’t drop him!”

But perhaps the most telling evidence started via email. After her first Ew-Gross filled visit, I got an email with the simple subject line “will you come visit me” and the first line of her email was “and bring Sagan?”

So yesterday morning, Mom and I loaded up Sagan in his carseat and headed over to my sister’s work for a visit. When we arrived at her work area, we were surprised to find her wall sporting four large Sagan pictures. It turns out Aunt Carolyn had a little “Sagan Shrine” by her desk!

Sagan - Day Twenty-Seven - Carolyn and Shrine
Carolyn and her Sagan Shrine

Aww… she loves that “gross” little thing! 🙂

August 9, 2011 at 9:48 am 4 comments

Seinfeld and Natural Child Birth

I may have screwed myself with this natural, medication-free childbirth thing. To help explain, I submit the monologue from Season 5 Episode 13 of Seinfeld, “The Dinner Party”:

We never should have landed a man on the moon. It’s a mistake. Now everything is compared to that one accomplishment. I can’t believe they could land a man on the moon . . . and taste my coffee! I think we all would have been a lot happier if they hadn’t landed a man on the moon. Then we’d go, They can’t make a prescription bottle top that’s easy to open? I’m not surprised they couldn’t land a man on the moon. Things make perfect sense to me now. Neil Armstrong should have said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for every, complaining, sob on the face of the earth.”

Transcript from

In the past week, I have returned back to our gym to resume regular exercise. I am finding workouts with my post-partum sleep schedule to be significantly more challenging than workouts with a third trimester pregnancy belly. Unfortunately, I am also finding myself lacking a good excuse to lessen said workouts. Just as putting a man on the moon became a means to judge all other failings and shortcomings, natural childbirth has become its own litmus test.

Jerry Seinfeld Shankbone 2010 NYC
Photo by David Shankbone
Birth Night
Photo by Onur YILDIRIM (Shadov)

Today at the gym, winded and with weary legs, I thought about cutting my time short. Then this thought came into my head:

“You can do natural childbirth, but you can’t stay on this darn elliptical for ten more minutes?!?”

And so, I had no choice. I ended up putting in my full hour.

Throughout the series Seinfeld, there were occasions where Jerry would clench up his fist and bitterly exclaim his nemesis’ last name, “NEWMAN!”

Perhaps one day soon, I’ll be at the gym and find myself with a similar ejaculation.


August 2, 2011 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

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