Monday, December 08, 2008

First Vietnamese American elected to Congress


NEW ORLEANS – The first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress took advantage of dissatisfaction with a longtime incumbent dogged by corruption allegations and reflects the changing nature of New Orleans politics since Hurricane Katrina.

Republican immigration attorney Anh "Joseph" Cao defeated Democratic U.S. William Jefferson on Saturday in an election postponed for a month by Hurricane Gustav.

The victory for a 41-year-old child of Vietnam War refugees was greeted with amazement and drew parallels to last year's election of Gov. Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American Republican.

It also confirms a general shift to the GOP in Louisiana, where the Democratic Party dominated for generations and no Republican had represented New Orleans since 1890.

"This is kind of uncharted waters here," said Larry Powell, a Tulane University historian.

Cao was buoyed by low turnout, a lackluster campaign by Jefferson, strong third-party candidates and the election being postponed a month by Hurricane Gustav. State and national Republicans seized on the race with a well-funded and effective campaign, bombarding targeted neighborhoods with automated telephone calls, signs and flyers.

Jefferson faced some of the most direct attacks since 2005, when a wide-reaching corruption probe against him was made public and FBI agents found $90,000 in alleged bribe payments in his freezer. He currently faces trial on charges of money laundering, racketeering and bribery, but no date has been set.

In conceding the race, Jefferson blamed fatigue among his supporters.

"I think people just ran out of gas a bit," Jefferson said Saturday night. "People today flat didn't come out in large numbers."

In many ways, Cao won on a protest vote by white voters from both major parties indignant about Jefferson's staying power. Analysts said white voters turned out by a ratio of 2-to-1 over blacks.

Nonetheless, Cao's win was viewed as improbable and important for the Asian communities of eastern New Orleans and the West Bank, a series of suburbs across the Mississippi River from the city.

"It's a David and Goliath story," said Joel Waltzer, a lawyer who's worked for 20 years representing Vietnamese homeowners and fishermen in eastern New Orleans. Before starting his own law practice, Cao worked for Waltzer.

Katrina made Cao's win possible, Waltzer said.

"Before Katrina, they were an ignored constituency and now they are strong enough to elect their own congressman," Waltzer said. "They've become ambitious. They want a voice in their own rebuilding, a place at the table when these very important decisions are made."

The community — made up of war refugees from Southeast Asia who came here in the 1970s — has gained in strength since Katrina and it is widely viewed as a rebuilding model.

"They jumped onto it with nobody's help," said Pete Gerica, a commercial fisherman and industry advocate who lives near the Asian community, known generally as Village d'Est or Versailles.

"It's a self-contained city," Gerica said. "They have steelworkers, carpenters, everything they need right there. They have shoe makers, they got people who make clothes. They are a very tight-knit family and that's what makes good people, when you put family first."

Cao (pronounced "Gow") is largely unknown, but his compelling life story attracted many voters. He was born in Vietnam and had to flee the country after Saigon fell in 1975 at age 8. His father, a South Vietnamese army officer, was imprisoned by Communist forces and later released.

He earned a degree in philosophy from Fordham University, a Jesuit college in New York City, and moved to Louisiana in 1992 as a seminarian. He earned his law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans.

He has personally experienced the destructive powers of hurricanes in the low-lying region. His home in an upscale suburb outside New Orleans' levee system was flooded by Katrina and Gustav.

Gerica said Cao could put a new face on Louisiana's reconstruction and, if he works with Democrats like Rep. Charlie Melancon, do good things for the state. But, he added, his lack of seniority and experience could be a detriment.

Cao has close ties with the powerful Vietnamese Catholic church, Mary Queen of Vietnam, and vowed that his political bid was motivated by his religiosity.

"It was something that I was called to do, literally, in the religion sense," Cao said.

The congressman-elect describes himself as a political moderate with only one firm policy belief: He is against abortion.

As a lawyer, he has worked for Boat People S.O.S., a national Vietnamese-American advocacy group for refugees. He became known in New Orleans in 2006 as a leader in an emotional campaign to close a new landfill for Katrina debris. In 2007, Cao ran for a state House seat as an independent and lost.

He said his win Saturday proved Louisiana is open-minded.

"The people of Louisiana are very special, very progressive," he said, "and I think we will serve as a beacon for the rest of the country."

Link to full story here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Great news!

The two other Lutheran Social Services of MN families who had been waiting for I-600 approval for three months got it on Monday. YEA!!!! They had 48 hours to get to Vietnam for their G&R--and we thought our trip was rushed with seven days. They are literally getting off the plane, going straight to the orphanage to get their babies, and then going to their G&R. What a whirlwind.

One woman, Laura, and I have been corresponding (read: complaining about the wait) and talking on the phone for over two years now, so I feel like I know her. And our sons shared a nursery for many months. I hope to meet her some day. Here is her daughter's website; not sure if they'll be blogging or not.

They are probably picking up their babies as I write this. Prayers and blessings to both families.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving in KY

Sam has been sick, so I'm a little late with posting our pictures from Thanksgiving. He also has really attached, as in, he prefers to sleep in our arms rather than in a bed. But he's had such a cold (and possible ear infection) this past week that that may explain his excessive crying and clinginess (we hope). He also said "Mama" today; mostly it's an elongation of his previous "Mmmmmm" whine. But it definitely means "Would this woman please pick me up and hold me?"

On to the Thanksgiving pictures from our visit to Lexington, KY, to see Ed's brother, Tom; Tom's wife, Kremena; and Sam's 2-year-old cousin Elena:

We left Tuesday to avoid traffic (still the car trips were not that great with Sam). That morning I made the cranberry-orange relish in the meat grinder, while Sam looks on. He likes to sit in his high chair and watch what's going on in the kitchen.

The Butler men and their babies.

Sam loved the front porch swing. We'll have to get one of those when we get a house.

Relaxing with Mama on the couch.

Sam's dinner: Turkey and vegetables (left) and sweet potatoes. He ate very little of either. But he did like the Sweet Potato Souffle made by Tom and Kremena's friend Amy (she also made the turkey; all the food was awesome.) We blame the sugar in that for how he bounced off the walls later that night.

Playing at a nearby park. Everything must be licked.

Elena in her PJs. Isn't she adorable? She sure wasn't happy, at first, that another baby was in her space. But by the end of the trip, they were good buddies.

Kisses goodbye!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is this white stuff coming out of the sky?

Sam's first snowfall in Chicago. He saw a few flakes in Rice Lake last weekend when we were there for my Grandma's funeral. And still hasn't really seem much accumulation. Can't wait to dress him in boots and snowpants and go build a snowman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sam rejects Satan

The day after his first birthday, Sam joined yet another family: the Catholic one. We celebrated his baptism on Oct. 25, 2008 at St. Gertrude Parish in Chicago. It was a beautiful ceremony, with about 35 friends and family attending. As you can see from the cute picture above (photos courtesy of Leigh Ann Drevs), he wore a lovely white aio dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) with a gold dragon on it.

The ceremony had a few personal touches. We added some water from meaningful places to the baptismal water: some from the Jordan River, from Halong Bay, from my parents' lake and the river near where my parents grew up, and from the pond near my sister's.

Sam has two godmothers: Ed's sister, Trish, and our good friend Kristin. They each read a reading, one from the Book of Samuel and the other from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (Fun fact: I got to interview him a few years ago).

My sister and her daughter Clare sang "Child of Wonder" to conclude the ceremony. It was beautiful! Peter from St. Gert's accompanies them.

A post-baptism party with lunch of buffalo burgers, chicken and catfish sandwiches, and sweet potato fries was held at the No Exit Cafe, part of the Heartland Cafe. Yum!

It really was a special day, especially because of those who came to welcome Sam to the Catholic family. Not only were Ed's parents and sister there from Philadelphia, but also his brother from Kentucky. Plus Ed's good friend Matt had a layover in Chicago and made the party. Cathy, Bryan and Kevin from U.S. Catholic were there, as were nearly all of my women's group. Lots of other kids too: Mesfin and Mari, Lincoln, Jovie, Vivian, Nico. Thanks to everyone for making it a very special weekend for our family.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Grandma Doris

Today would have been my Grandma Doris' 97th birthday. She died Monday, after being hospitalized with pneumonia two weeks ago. I had a mixed relationship with my grandmother--I loved her dearly and have many fond memories of time spent with her, but she also had been judgmental of me and my life in my adulthood. Still, we had time to reconcile and got closer, especially after my grandpa died about 10 years ago. I think she was very proud of the writing work that I've done, though when we would discuss church politics, she would often say, "I wish you thought the way I do." To which I would respond, "I wish you thought the way I do!"

She was an educated woman, with a college degree, when not many women had one. She taught home economics and raised three children, including my father. She was attractive and stylish, and would probably be horrified that I'm posting this photo of her looking less than her best. I credit at least part of my creative gene to her (and almost all of my pack rat gene). I think she had some regrets in her life; she had wanted to travel more, see more of the world, maybe have a more sophisticated life than the one she had in small-town Wisconsin. She was from the Chicago area and often talked about life as a young girl on the farm near Gurnee.

Grandma Doris had prayed tirelessly for Sam (and for Sophie). She also helped us financially with the adoption by advancing us some money meant for her great grand-children's education. She was so excited when we got our referral. "Is he particularly cute or anything?" she asked before I could show her the picture to confirm that, yes, he was! In the past few months, even as she lost interest in the Packers (which had previously seemed to keep her alive from season to season), she would always ask about Sam, my dad said.

We had wanted to drive to northern Wisconsin for Sam to meet her shortly after returning from Vietnam, but Sam had been so difficult in the car seat that we kept postponing it. Then we heard that the pneumonia couldn't be cured and her heart wasn't strong enough to pump the fluid out of her lungs. She returned to the nursing home from the hospital last week and we knew it wouldn't be long. Two days later we left for Rice Lake, even though my aunt reported that she wasn't really recognizing people anymore.

Sam was a trooper, sleeping the whole 6 hours on Friday night on the way there. On Saturday morning we visited Grandma and she definitely recognized him. Her eyes opened and lit up, though she was so tired it was hard for her to keep them open. Later she said, "Sam." And then, "I am so tired."

My dad stayed by her side Saturday night until Monday night when she died. My Auntie Sue and my cousin Kim were with her when she died, too. My grandma lived a long, productive and happy life, but I am still so sad that she is gone. I wanted her to see both my kids, and I wanted them to know her. But I am glad I was given the opportunity to have Sam meet her before she died. And I know she will continue to pray for our family, but now from heaven.

May eternal rest be granted to you, Grandma Doris, and let perpetual light shine upon you. May you rest in peace. Amen.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sam is 1!

Dear Sam,
Today you turned 1 year old. "Chuc Mung Sinh Nhat!" (Happy birthday in Vietnamese, as I learned from the cookie bouquet sent by Catalyst Foundation.) I had always hoped you would be with us by the time you were 1, and I'm so glad you were.

Your birthday was the beginning of a very exciting weekend. We started the day by taking you swimming at the park pool. It was a bit cooler than last Friday, but you still loved it. You seem to be trying to swim, moving your arms and kicking your feet. You also try to drink the water. Yuck!

I bought you a balloon at the dollar store (big spender!) and you played with it for almost an hour. You can hold on tightly and love to pull the balloon up and down.

In the afternoon, you got to meet your "Baba" (Grandma in Bulgarian) and Pop-Pops and your Auntie Trish. They all thought you were too cute. "Just like a doll," Grandmother Margie kept saying.

The grown-ups had pot roast. Your birthday cake was pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, which I knew you wouldn't eat, since you are still being a very reluctant eater on solid foods. You hold a spoon and when you put the spoon in your mouth, we sneak in the food. It's very slow going.

You didn't eat any, but you played with your cake and made it into a yucky mess. After cake, we did the Thoi Noi ritual and put out several objects representing careers in front of you:
  • * a dollar bill for business
  • * your soft Sears Tower for office worker
  • * a pen for writer or scholar
  • * a play wrench for carpenter
  • * a measuring spoon for food service
  • * and a paintbrush for the arts.
You went straight for the paintbrush.

At 1, it's still hard to tell what your personality is like. You are laid back most of the time, but scream and cry when it's time for bed. You take very short naps, 1/2 hour or less, sometimes two or three of them a day. For morning nap, you usually wake up happy after 1/2 hour. But for afternoon nap, you wake up crying, really sad-like. Sometimes I rock you back to sleep and you get a longer afternoon nap. At night you sleep 10-12 hours, getting up 2-3 times for a bottle. With all that liquid, your diaper always leaks and you leave a big wet stain on the bed that you share with Mama.

You love to play, but are more interested in things in the house than toys (the strap on your high chair, a wooden spoon or empty yogurt container). You like having stories read to you and you seem to follow along and sometimes turn the page. You like "Is This the House of Mistress Mouse?" and "I Love You As Much" and "Where's Kitty?" Auntie Trish gave you a book called, "What Do You Say" and you love that one too. You also love bathtime.

You can crawl now, with your tummy off the floor. And you can stand up, with help or by the coffee table. You're always exploring and have bumped your head more than a few times. We have some major babyproofing changes planned for the condo. You seem so much bigger than when we first got you (it's amazing to watch the video from just six weeks ago) but really you have only gained a few pounds. But your hair is quite a bit longer and your face fuller and less baby like. You also have so much more muscle tone than in the orphanage.

Your Daddy and I cannot believe how lucky we are to be your parents. We say it dozens of times a day. That and, "He is SO CUTE!" You smile a lot and laugh when you're tickled. You seem happy, but we can also tell that sometimes you are very sad, like when you cry when you wake up. Today we remembered your birthmother by lighting a candle and praying for her. We are so grateful she gave you life, and so grateful that we get to help nurture that life.

Happy birthday, Samuel Dieu. We love you!

Love, Mama and Daddy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sam Dieu Fan Club

This will be a big week for Sam, culminating in his birthday and baptism this weekend. It also will be a week of lots of visitors, namely Ed's parents, brother and sister, who arrive Friday. We are so excited for them to meet Sam! The week started with a visit from the other side of the family: my sister, her husband and three kids, AKA the Sam Fan Club.

Sam is wearing a hand-me-down from Jack, who is now almost 16. I love this photo of the two of them. Jack is my godson, and I can remember taking almost as many photos of him as I am now of Sam (and that was before digital)!

Clare is ready for babysitting duty. She was so sad that Sam took a nap while they were here.

All three kids would just laugh at every little cute thing Sam did. Kevin was good at making Sam laugh.

Everyone got a chance to hold him. We're being careful about not too much holding by other people, and no one feeds or changes him. We also make sure we're in his sight when others are holding him. This is all part of helping with a healthy attachment. Although he seems to really like us, it will be awhile before he understands that we are here forever as his parents.

Amy looks a lot like me--and has the same high-pitched voice for baby talk--so maybe Sam was especially comfortable with her. Or maybe it was the Obama button, which he went straight for!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall

Fall is my favorite season, so I'm so happy to have Sam home during the fall. Here are some adorable photos of him while playing in the leaves at the park.

Eating a leaf. Notice his reaction below.

At the park

What a glorious fall day! Ed, Sam and I just got back from the park--the new one over at River Park. The Chicago Park District has been redoing a lot of the city playgrounds with the new soft floor and great new equipment. Sam goes to the park at least once or twice a day. And on Friday we went swimming at the Welles Park (indoor, obviously) pool with our friend Flo and her little boy Anton. Sam loved the water even more than he did in Vietnam!

Sam enjoys swinging with Mama, who is wearing her Wisconsin Badgers sweatshirt, despite today's loss to Iowa. Sam is wearing his new fleece jacket from my friend Bridget. Too cute!

Look at that adorable smile. I love when you can see his teeth. Despite massive amounts of drool, he still has only six, those four on top and two on the bottom.

Every couple of days he crawls a few steps (is that the right word?) but then goes right back down on his tummy.

We are settling into a routine here. He's still sleeping fairly well at night, somewhere from 8ish to 6ish, getting up two times a night for a bottle. He stopped eating solid food for a week but is starting a bit again. Might have been teething or his cold. He was most interested in the macaroni and cheese (baby food) at lunch today. That's my Cheesehead.

He still takes very short naps, only a half hour, if we're lucky, in the morning, but sometimes I can get an hour or even two out of him in the afternoon, but I usually have to rock him back to sleep after he wakes up crying.

He has had constipation problems since we got him--not that he doesn't go, but they HARD! We are trying to introduce water in a sippy cup and have switched formulas. If that doesn't work, we'll be trying prunes or prune juice next.

OK, so I've covered eating, sleeping and pooping: his three main activities. Other than that, he seems happy and loves to play with both of us. He is very excited about meeting his grandparents and aunt and uncle from Ed's side of the family next weekend when they come for his big birthday/baptism bash.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sammy loves Daddy

Sam has been getting lots of Daddy time lately, since Mommy is trying to get some work done. (I've got two book projects that are calling my name.) It has turned out perfectly that Ed is working part time as a substitute teacher, so he is home a lot. So far, he's been subbing a few days a week, mostly at Lyons Township High School.

Sam loves playing with Ed: They go to various parks twice a day and often go for long walks in the Bjorn baby carrier. I do most of the rocking to sleep, but Ed is the bath giver. It really has worked out well, so far, sharing the baby duties and both of us getting to have some time for work.

Ed also has been initiating Sam into Philadelphia sports, what with the Phillies in the playoffs. They often go down to our neighbor's, who have a big-screen TV. Here is Sam in all his Phillies paraphenalia--a onesie and hat from Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Trish, and a jacket from our neighbors, Kathy and Anthony (he's from Philadephia, too.)

Don't worry: we don't mix up these two bottles.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gifts 2: Orphanage director and officials

*** Second in a series of posts on gift-giving for Vietnam adoptions.

In addition to gifts for the nannies at the orphanage, we also brought gifts for the orphanage director and other orphanage officials. (Just to clarify: these gifts are optional and should never be cash. I was horrified to read on a listserv that an agency was telling families to bring thousands of dollars in cash for orphanage directors and nannies. This is why Vietnam is now closed.)

This photo is us with Mrs. Duong Thi Thao, the orphange director at Go Vap in HCMC, just before we left with Sam. I remember feeling like she was so stylish and put-together, while I was sweating like a pig and a big blubbery, crying mess. When we saw her at our G&R, she was equally stylish, in a nice suit--and I was again sweating, nervous and crying. Our agency suggested a handbag or scarf for her, in the range of $25. Again, American-made goods preferred.

Super shopper that I am, I went to the Coach outlet near Aurora University and got a really cute handbag for well... not $25 but closer to $50. Still, it was regularly like $150. Again, I felt strongly about being generous to the people who made our family happen, and this woman was instrumental in Sam's care the first 10 months of his life, not to mention in matching him with us.

We were told to bring 2-4 other small ($15) gifts for orphange officials, and I believe it ended up being three gifts for males (there might have been one female--I can't remember now. If so, I gave her bath products). I got three Chicago baseball caps (thinking that since we live in a big city they might recognize that name). I confess I cut the "made in China" labels out of them. I put them with some candy and a Cubs pen in a gift bag (again it is important that these gifts be equal). I think I added some chocolate to the director's bag, too.

Lesson: You can't bring too much chocolate or candy.

Next: Gifts for the kids at the orphanage

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Operation solid food

Newly adoptive parents are encouraged not to change too much in their babies' lives, since they are already experiencing so much change. So we have been slow to introduce new foods to Sam. In the orphanage, he ate a thin, soupy rice gruel in the morning, but our caseworkers told us most of the babies didn't like American rice cereal. They suggested trying yogurt, which Sam did like.

When we got home we added some rice cereal to his yogurt, plus switched to a formula with some rice in it for a little extra sustenance. But it has been clear that this baby is hungry and ready for more food. He takes a full bottle almost every two hours or so, which means he produces a lot of very wet diapers!

On Saturday afternoon he had his first real food: sweet potatoes. He loved them! My baby book says to let them play with their food and make a big mess so dinner time doesn't become a battle of wills, and he is very good at making a mess with his food.

He's also very insistent about feeding himself. He likes to hold the spoon and will put it in his mouth. Of course, a lot of it doesn't end up in his mouth, but it's pretty impressive (I think) that he wants to feed himself at 11 months.

Here he is with the yogurt/rice cereal combo on his face. I love the dot of sweet potatoes on his nose in the previous photo. He's even cuter with food all over him!

Obama baby!

Sam is definitely a Democrat. And he's a big Obama fan. Check out his "Obama Baby" onesie, a gift from our friend Kristi Kubicki in Indiana. Speaking of Indiana, which is a swing state with the potential of turning from red to blue... Some friends may remember that my sister and I (and my niece Clare) went to Indiana on primary election day to canvass for Obama. The closeness of that race helped change the narrative for an Obama win.

On Friday, Ed did baby duty while I once again went with Amy to Indiana, this time to register voters before the Oct. 7 deadline. We got 14 new voters in about three hours at the Purdue Calumet campus. We also helped sway some opinions, I think. Most of the students were already registered. Apparently there have been lots of new registrations in Indiana these past six months. I've got to tell you: that Obama campaign is organized!

And since I never promised this wouldn't be a political blog, I have to say I was disgusted by Sarah Palin's performance in the debate on Thursday night. As a woman who has worked my whole life to be taken seriously as a professional, I am sad to see someone use cuteness and flirtation to try to deflect from not being able to--or not wanting to--answer a question seriously. I know the whole "charm" thing is a tried-and-true diversionary tactic for politicians, and I don't like it any better when a man is doing it. But as a feminst, I was really sad to see a woman at this level not only use these tactics, but be applauded for doing so. Of course, I disagree with her on most of her policies, too, but I was especially sad to see a woman at this level resort to such juvenile actions. I was embarrassed for her.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Gifts 1: Nanny gifts

I've had lots of other Vietnam families ask for advice about gift-giving in general and at Go Vap Orphanage. So I'm going to write a series of posts about the gifts we gave while in-country. Hope this helps.


The most important gifts, in my opinion, were for the nannies who cared for our son the first 10 months of his life. The suggestion from our agency and other families was to put together a small gift bag with a few things in it. I took the advice of another LSS family and bought mini photo albums (on clearance at Target!) and put a few photos of Sam in them.

It also was important for me to include a personal part of me in this gift, so I made each nanny a felt flower pin. I was going to include a note explaining that they are violets, the state flower of Illinois, but I never got around to doing the note. Hand-stitching these is one way I stayed busy and sane while waiting for I-600 approval! I also hand-painted the gift bags, using plain white ones from Michael's (using a 40% off coupon--always!). I stamped them with flowers and polka dots. (For more detail about the hand-crafted part of these gifts, see this post on my craft blog, Spiritual Knitter.)

(As you can see, Ed worked hard on the assembly of these gift bags at our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City!) Since it was important that all gifts be Made in America, or at least not Made in China or Vietnam, I bought Burt's Bees travel-size lotions and shampoos (through ebay), a Chicago Cubs pen (also through ebay) and finally some squares of Ghiradelli chocolate (all dark--less likely to melt).

Because of my thrifty shopping, I was able to put together these bags for about $5 each. The most important thing is to have enough of them for all the nannies in both the infant and toddler rooms, since Sam had been in both of them. I was originally told there were 20, then later 23, nannies. I had exactly that. But when I arrived at Go Vap, they told me to distribute them and I accidentally handed one to a nurse rather than a nanny. Oops. The nurses are in white; the nannies in blue.

Next: Gifts for the orphanage director and other orphanage officials.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bath time

Gratuitous cute baby photos for grandparents and others who are not yet tired of Sam photos. Sam loves the bath and now that we have this bath seat, he can hang out there a little bit longer. The orphanage did "baths" (sponging off) in the morning, so we have kept that part of his schedule. But we may move to evenings this week, to start creating a nighttime ritual of bath, story, song and hopefully sleep!

Going out for a walk in yesterday's fall weather. (I don't recall if that hat is from Amy or Flo, but it is adorable!) I think this walk might have been attempt #437 to get him to sleep last night. He fell asleep three times either in my arms or Ed's but then would get all agitated when we put him down and start flopping around and smiling. He finally went to bed at 11 p.m. Too many naps yesterday might have been a contributing factor. Or, as our adoption coordinator says, a fear of going to sleep because of fear of more change when he wakes up.

Ed had to get up early for a substitute teaching job today. He's gotten several days over the next few weeks for AP History at a suburban school district. It'd be a great place for a full-time job. So I'm on baby duty alone today, but so far, so good. He took a good 2-hour nap this morning and has been pretty happy all day. We just got back from a walk to the post office and Walgreens and now he's sleeping again. So I've been able to get a few things done and pick up the house. We had a short visit from our friend Jon, who was dropping off the mattress for the co-sleeper we're borrowing from them. William and Maria are due to drop by later this afternoon with a home-cooked meal. So, as you can see, we're not shunning visitors--just trying to keep them short and not let others hold him for now.