Growing a Critter

We’re growing him on the outside now

Eat Local April 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — crittermama @ 11:45 am

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Inauguration 2009 January 20, 2009

Filed under: DC — crittermama @ 10:52 pm
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Oh happy day! It was amazing and so exciting and I’m so grateful that I got to be there for the Inauguration of President Obama and to be witness to America’s peaceful transition of power. Things I have to write down now so that I won’t forget them, first from Obama’s Inaugural Address:

“We will restore science to its rightful place… We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.” As soon as President Obama said “science,” I started to clap. That was less exciting to those around me, but I just couldn’t help myself.

President Obama referred to “our patchwork heritage” and I think that’s just perfect. Very few of us are anything but mutts of some sort – whether it be your family’s countries of origin, where you’ve lived or traveled, what you believe or who you say “your people” are, we’re all woven together of many threads.

“Your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you can destroy.” Awesome. Followed soon thereafter by “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Beautiful.

Our travel and experience:
People were everywhere, but not always where I expected to find them. I expected packed Metro trains heading downtown, but it wasn’t bad at all. It turns out that the biggest bottleneck was first-timers figuring out the Metro ticket turnstiles work. There were even seats left over when we got on at Greenbelt! By the time we got off at Gallery Place (L’Enfant Plaza was closed due to overcrowding), Metro had just opened up all the turnstiles and wasn’t asking for farecards. Hope they didn’t lose too many millions of dollars!

We walked about six miles and were on our feet for about six hours straight. Not too bad, considering how far we went. I mapped out our route, but it’s on a different computer. We went from Gallery Place through the 3rd St. tunnel under the Mall and down past 15th near the Washington Monument before we could actually get onto the Mall.

The crowd was in very good spirits for the vast majority of the day. People were happy, helping each other out and being good sports about inconveniences. The only place where we ran into trouble was at Independence and 15th, where jersey walls prevented the crowd from moving forward and resulted in greater and greater crowd density. SQUEEEEEEZE! The only time I’ve ever felt that squeezed before was on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. We got out and got around, but it was tight enough that I was very worried about the elderly woman in the wheelchair next to me and a young child that I saw a few feet away.

I almost bought a soft pretzel from a street vendor, who was heating them over coals in a shopping cart. Awesome. My lack of correct change and the realization that the coals had not yet sufficiently heated the pretzel to a tummy-warming temperature stopped me, not the questionable sanitary practices of the vendor nor the multitude of regulations that were being broken.

Funniest t-shirt I saw (and there were millions on parade): a picture of our new President with a giant afro and a comb stuck in his hair with the logo “PICK Barack Obama.” I took a picture but haven’t uploaded it yet. Best – and most useful – souvenir: Barack Obama Handwarmers. Those were hot commodities – hey-O!

Pictures soon, memories forever. SO glad we made the trip, but I think if I do it again, it will be because I personally know the person being inaugurated (hey – it’s possible!) or because I have tickets. Whew! And HOORAY!!!


Would have worked for a Christmas card January 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — crittermama @ 9:56 pm
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We visited the Tennessee Aquarium for Batesmas (Daddy’s birthday is the day after Christmas) and the Critter had a great time. Here are the three of us in the shark cage. Rarrrrr!



A Letter to the Critter on Veterans’ Day and Elections November 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — crittermama @ 10:01 pm

Dear Little One,

Today is Veterans’ Day, and I told you a little bit about it, and about your Great-Grandpa Hitchcock, who is the origin of one of your many names. I didn’t go into the full history of Armistice Day and the significance of the 11th day of the 11th month, but we’ll get there as you get older. Two of your Great-Grandfathers fought in WWII in the Pacific, and both were good men who served with honor. Your Granddaddy also served in the Navy for two years active duty and many years of service in the Reserves. A lot of young men and women are now serving or returning from their service, and we thank them for their sacrifice and service as well.

War and politics are things that you don’t know much about right now, and for that I’m glad. You’ll learn more and more and ask a lot of questions, and I pray that we’re able to muster the right words when you ask us why and when and how often wars happen.

You went with us to the polls a week ago today, and you “helped” me cast my vote. We waited in line outside the Elementary School, and once we got inside, you needed to let off a bit of steam, so this is what you did:

Critter, I have to admit that I didn’t get much work done on Election Day. As I walked from the metro station to my office, the city seemed too quiet and empty. Everyone was just waiting. There was nothing else to do but wait. Thank goodness I had a presentation to go to that afternoon! That evening, there were election parties all over the country, but your Dad and I stayed home, wanting to be together when the election was called.

Of course, we have our beliefs and others have different ones, but the remarkable thing about our country and many others is that we get to vote. We each have a voice and an opinion, and our elections are how we come together to decide who is going to lead our country, our state, our city and how we are to govern ourselves. You’ll hear our opinions and you’ll hear the beliefs and opinions of friends, family and others, and you’ll get to decide what your opinions are and you’ll get to vote for yourself some day.

That night, we watched the news channels with laptops on our laps, jumping from site to site, calling out new things that we’d just read. And we actually heard it from John Stewart first, that the American voters had elected Senator Barack Obama as our 44th President. It was so exciting and emotional, and we were so happy with the potential for hope and change and possibility (even during a very scary and uncertain time) that his election represented. We were quietly at home, but we later learned that people were dancing in the streets and celebrating after the election was called. (Sorry, just had to take a minute to watch that video again!)

This weekend, you paid your first visit to the Lincoln Memorial – shame that we haven’t taken you to more monuments yet, but we’ll get there – and you were really interested in all the people that gathered there to see Our Nation’s Capital and the monument to one of our most remarkable Presidents.

Here, we’re standing in front of a sign that congratulates President-Elect Obama on his election and wishes him well in the enormous challenges that he’ll have as President:


Here’s the sign itself:

Together, As One World, Yes We Can

Lots of people signed their names, or sent their own messages to Mr. Obama and to other visitors. You enjoyed the sign, but you really enjoyed running around and taking it all in:

Critter with Lincoln and clouds

We took you up the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and introduced you to Mr. Lincoln and his words from the Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address. You thought that was cool and all, but you were getting sleepy:

Starting to get tired....

It was a lovely outing and a great way to finish off the week. You’re sleeping now, and I can hear your snore every now and then over the monitor. You’re running around, and have a few words (up, dog, ball, uh oh, and daddy) and getting more expressive every day. I’ll always worry about the state of the world, and my responsibility as a parent for bringing you into it, but this week gave me a good dose of hope for the future. Can’t wait to live it with you.



What bacon can do for YOU October 8, 2008

Filed under: home training — crittermama @ 5:51 pm
Tags: ,

I am now observing my wonderful husband give our gorgeous, hilarious son his dinner. We’ve been working on some sign language and it’s been going well so far. He can sign “more” and “eat” and “milk” but hasn’t yet gotten the hang of “mama” or “bath” or “please” or “simultaneous communication.” We’ll get there.

He CAN feed himself with a spoon now, but it’s a little messy.


I’ve been working on “please” for the past couple of weeks, with scant success. The critter did it once or twice in response to an offer of cheese, but hasn’t been too interested in doing it again. Dave, being the bacon lover that he is, decided that the critter should have turkey bacon as his protein tonight for dinner. He was in charge, so as long as it was cut up into small enough pieces, I was fine with it.

Dave gave him an appetizer piece and then asked the critter to sign “please” to get another piece. Ladies and gentlemen, bacon WORKS.


Travel and 12+1 months September 22, 2008

Filed under: family,profession — crittermama @ 8:52 pm

On the high seas, the crew never uses the number 13 – they say 12+1. In deference to my paranoid (yet wonderful) husband and his superstitions, I’ll do the same. I believe he got this from Linda Greenlaw’s book The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey. She’s the other captain in The Perfect Storm – the one that actually finds the fish (sorry, seafaring George Clooney). All that being said, we’re very happy that the Critter has hit the 13-month mark as of this weekend. Hooray!

I recently took my first out-of-town trip away from my boys. We all survived! I left early last Saturday morning on the train for NYC, heading up to do 3 focus groups with African expats living in the city about their food preferences and attitudes. I learned a LOT. On Sunday evening, I flew to Milwaukee where the AZA annual conference was held this year. It was different, more spread out than previous years, and a bit more difficult to find everyone I was looking for. But I was still so busy meeting people and going to sessions that I didn’t have time to dwell too much on being away from my boys.

Of course I did end up showing my baby’s pictures to friends, colleagues and even the stranger next to me on the plane! Dave and the critter did just fine, though we were all very happy to see each other when I got back on Wednesday! It’s good to be home but I’m glad that I know I can travel and not freak out.

The boy is walking more and more now, and I feel like he’ll be picking up tons of words once he gets the walking down. Rob says the same thing happened with Abby – that she was in a holding pattern with language and signs until she figured out walking. We’ll see what happens!

We’re looking forward to fall and enjoying autumn traditions with our little guy. Gotta go back to the pumpkin patch! Something tells me that it will be a little different this year…



Happy Birthday, Critter! August 20, 2008

Filed under: birth,holidays — crittermama @ 8:19 am


We made it!