You can't make this kind of stuff up: when we were at Kim's bridal shower, Cupcake saw these rafts in the "big pool," and when she pointed to one she very clearly called it a "boat," and when she actually got ON the raft, she started singing "Row Row Row Your Boat." Honest to God. Again, you can't make this kind of stuff up.


Oh, for God's Sake ...

Yesterday, someone said to me what is maybe the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, ever, and I have to admit that I am so ticked off about it that I had a hard time falling asleep last night, and I woke up this morning still torqued.

What they said was this: I should be forced to turn in my "feminist credentials" because I would not automatically commit to voting for John McCain because of his choice of running mate.

Um, the fuck? Are they serious?

Of course I should discount the comment completely out of hand anyway because of who made the statement, but I am really fundamentally distraught about this because, how many years and how many arguments later, people still don't understand what the hell a "feminist" is.

Despite what some people would have you believe, not all feminists are vagino-centric, man-hating, power-hungry, ball-busting, nasty, bitter, emasculating bitches. We are not all gun-toting, pantsuit-wearing, biker-booted, spiky-haired, Hooters-protesting, semi-Marxist lipstick lesbians, either. Although sometimes, some of us are.

I like to think of myself as an old-school, old-style, old-fashioned feminist. Someone once called that a "Title IX" type; I can live with that -- I believe in equal pay for equal work, equal access to equal opportunities, equal rights and equal responsibilities. My feminist beliefs are based on the idea that all people, regardless of whatever other labels are applied, are inherently equal.

Knowing all that -- and it's not like I'm quiet about believing that people are people are people, period, the end -- why do people automatically assume that, because I am a woman, and because I was (and still am) a Hillary Clinton supporter, that I would just go ahead and cast my vote for whichever woman's name is on the ballot?

Aren't we all smarter than this by now? Or am I the one who is living in denial? I mean, I was born and raised a Democrat, I am married to a Democrat, and I hope to raise my daughter as a Democrat, but I still hold that political affiliation because I believe that by and large, the Democratic party is more representative of my core values than the Republicans are. Why would any of that change just because the GOP (twenty years after MY party did it, by the way) has nominated a woman for VP?

Do people really think that I vote with my ovaries and not with my head and my heart? And if I did, would I really vote for someone who is opposed to women's reproductive rights?

And I'm the one who needs to turn in my "feminist credentials"?


Hanna Banana

Hanna Banana
Somebody else's cute kid. This is Hanna, my cousin A.J. and his wife Aiko's daughter. She is 10 months old, very cute and petite -- which is to say that, compared to this particular child, my kid? Is a VARSITY LINEBACKER.


To My Husband

Dear G,

Today is your birthday -- happy day! I am sorry that you will have to go home to sippy cups and baby spoons that need to be washed, and not this:

But if you play your cards right, you might get something extra-special tonight. Like a cheesesteak stromboli for dinner.

Love you!
XOXO, rockle.


Splash Pool

I briefly considered that this picture is maybe a little bit pervy, but it's also kind of awesome (look at that water! look at the sun dapples! look at this delicious nommable child!), and anyway, this is totally what Cupcake did for, like, an hour at my cousin's future wife's bridal shower. Seriously. She just threw her head back and splashed around and played with a Dixie cup and didn't care that it was just her because: water! sun! nobody telling her to stop! no other kids crying with runny noses and missing shoes and boundary issues! WATER!

Honest to God: she has gills and webbed feet.


The Great Cupcake Caper

I don't know when it happened -- I'm not even 100% sure that it did happen, though I have my suspicions -- but when I wasn't looking, I'm afraid I might have turned into That Mom.

You know the Mom I am talking about -- the one who never goes on play dates because all the other parents think she's an over-protective ultra-high-maintenance wackadoodle who never lets her kid have any fun. And worse, she has all these restrictions on food.

The fact is -- and I will finally admit it -- I do have this thing about what we feed the Cupcake. We are trying, very hard, and sometimes against the grain, to set a better example for our kid than we ourselves follow.

I mean, I don't remember when I started defining the four food groups as "the salty snack group," "the sweet snack group," "the caffeinated group," and "other," but I am trying like hell to keep Cupcake from following the same dietary guidelines.

So, yes, sometimes, especially when we are around other people like my mother who want to spoil Cupcake rotten and give her every little thing her heart desires, sometimes I seem like a hardass when I have to say, "Dammit, Mom, don't give the baby fudge for lunch!"

I mean, I am not a food nazi or anything like that. Yes, she sometimes has meals that are not necessarily fully nutritionally balanced. There are nights when she doesn't want anything but pineapple and string cheese and crackers for dinner. We have mornings when she cries if I try to give her one more bite of yogurt. Right now all we want to do is smoosh our bananas in our fingers and throw the mush at the cat.

But is it so wrong, really, that when I plan her meals, I try to make sure that there is at least one lean protein and one fruit or vegetable on the menu? Is it that crazy that we want to encourage her to believe that cherries and graham crackers are perfectly acceptable for dessert? Am I really a terrible mother because I only let her have a little bit of ice cream and Jell-O, and that I cut her juice with water so that she doesn't get hopped up on sugar?

I don't think so, because then on the rare occasions when we do have sweets, like at birthday parties and baby showers, we are very very happy about it:


Crystal Clear Blue Water

Y'know, I pay good damn money -- lots of cash American dollars -- to go to foreign countries that have pools that look like this. And I am beginning to wonder why.

Oh, wait. The swim-up bars. That's why. Swim-up bars, and the ability to get blue drinks with umbrellas and fruit and live parrots at 10:00 in the morning.

This is pretty awesome, though. Can't even see the bottom.

Not Exactly Mapplethorpe

I had to lie on the baked concrete in the hot sun for, like, seconds to get this shot. Yes, I suffer for my art. You are welcome.


Aunt Shelley

Cupcake met my other sister on Wednesday night when we went to pick her up at the airport. I tried to get a picture of them together at that first meeting, a momentous one, but Cupcake was distracted by all the noise and buses and garbage trucks and she wouldn't look at the camera, so those pictures are not so great.

But yesterday I squandered a delicious day off poolside while Cupcake went swimming with anyone who would take her, including Aunt Shelley, my cousins Zach and Britt, and my mother (fully clothed).

And the best part? The rest of the weekend is supposed to be just as beautiful.


Mystery Photo

Originally uploaded by r_ockle

Um. Not sure. Do you know what this is?


Interesting Observation

Originally uploaded by r_ockle

Proven scientific fact: it is impossible to get a bad picture when Cupcake and her Pop-pop are together, and no one knows why.


Fly Eagles Fly

Originally uploaded by

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles! (Outfit courtesy of Auntie Kim -- thanks!)


Other Sources of Natural Beauty

Originally uploaded by r_ockle

Look! Something I think is pretty, even though it isn't my kid! Admire my open-mindedness, dammit!


Misty Watercolor Memories

Misty Watercolor Memories
Originally uploaded by r_ockle

I can honestly say that I don't recall my grandparents' pool ever looking quite as lovely as it does this summer. Can't for the life of me imagine what's different now.


Deep End

I don't know why, but Cupcake loves the "swimout" in my grandparents' pool. If we'd let her, she's spend all day long there, walking back and forth, hanging onto the wall and letting go, climbing in and out and in and out, sticking her toes over the edge into the deep water, giggling and swallowing mouthfuls of water, doing it all over again. So ... in other words, she is me. Only in miniature.

My God, I love my life.


The Nap Whisperer

The Nap Whisperer
Originally uploaded by r_ockle

Sometimes I wonder how many memories Cupcake will have of her early childhood that involve people trying to nom her.


Dancing on the Ceiling

Dancing on the Ceiling
Originally uploaded by r_ockle

Seriously, this is my kid, upside down, with her feet on her bedroom ceiling. We are AWESOME parents.


Nature v. Nurture

We're five months into this Great Parenting Experiment of ours, and while I have already accepted that my life has become an endless parade of diaper changes and sippy cups and tantrums and missing shoes and furtive hours of World of Warcraft snuck in between meals and baths and "Daddy Time," and while we are slowly but surely adjusting our schedules to constantly be on toddler tape-delay, and while I am gradually learning to unclench and relax and go with the flow ...

... while all of this is happening, the thing I think I'll never be able to get over, never be able to fully comprehend, never be able to wrap my primitive little unevolved reptilian brain around, is how someone who is totally biologically unrelated to me can still be so completely my child.

This is what we were hoping for, of course, back when we decided to give adoption a shot. We were given information on and links to various websites where we could look at available children, see if we were interested in any of them, and to us it was always: "Eww, no thanks." Like, we're not buying a car, we're building a family here, and when the right kid becomes available, we'll know it -- all of us, everyone, the Universe at large, will know it -- and we will swoop in like Mario and Luigi to rescue Princess Peach, and we'd all live happily ever after.

But, since this is me we are talking about, of course there were doubts. Riddles, enigmas, questions that cannot possibly have an answer. What if Peach is a good-for-nothing rotten brat? Or has adjustment problems? Or learning disabilities? What if there is something going on there that we are just ill-equipped to handle? What then? Even worse, what if our child just doesn't like us? Not in the angst-ridden angry adolescent sense, but in the "I know that you are not my real mother and I hate you for breaking up my family and I'm never going to love you" kind of way? You hear horror stories. They can't all be urban legends.

Alas ... no such problem so far. I'm sure that someday, maybe sooner than later, but not tomorrow, or the day after, but one of these days, when Cupcake actually understands what is going on, we'll have questions. None of those questions will have easy answers except for one: "Do you love me?" And the answer will be: "Oh my God, yes! We loved you before we even knew you." I will show her the blog posts, and the journals, and the notes and the cards and the letters, and the secret messages to ourselves that we have tattooed on our hearts, tucked away for no one to see, afraid that if we admitted to our feelings, they would stop, they would fade away, they would cease to be, and so would we.

She will look at me then with her hazel eyes, trying to figure out whether I am angry or sad or scared or tired, just as she always does, chewing on her lip the way I do, squinching her nose up at me, trying to figure out the right thing to say, and then she'll touch my face, and ask me to kiss her zombie, and all will be perfect.