Skip to content

Obscure Cargo Cult Reference, Geek Edition

Welcome Wil Wheaton readers! Welcome! Don’t be shy, take a look around, kick your feet up, stay a while. Wow, I’m honored.

What’s the Point? I Mean, Really?

We have some friends who are trying to adopt a baby. We recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend with them at their cabin and they had the opportunity to spend a weekend with a three year old girl. On some level, it felt like a sales job because they are working very hard to get a child, a newer model than ours, but roughly the same make.

We must have been poor salespeople for The Joy of Parenting because as we were discussing sleep arrangements, feeding arrangements, etc., the woman, apparently momentarily nervous about what a child does to your life, asked, “so what’s the payoff?”

We were stumped. Is it possible we never thought about it in quite those terms? We thought the weekend itself was part of the payoff, our lovely and charming child being lovely and charming all over the place for two days. The payoff?

How to put this into words?

The payoff comes when she marries a banker and buys me a house on the beach where I can play checkers in the afternoon. It comes when she absolutely refuses to let me go destitute when I retire without retirement savings. Whenever I say that, H rolls her eyes thinking I’m kidding and stop with the stale joke already.

At birth, Jane knew two things: when uncomfortable, cry; when something’s in her mouth, suck on it. That’s it, the sum total of a baby’s knowledge of the world.

Jane at a farm

A baby doesn’t know that the restless achy feeling is tiredness and the cure is to relax and close its eyes. It doesn’t know that the pain in its eyes is the sun and the cure is to close them or turn the head. It doesn’t know you bundle up in the cold, or that fire is hot. It has no knowledge of gravity or that those lines and light and dark shadows is a stairway and if you crawl out onto the dark part, you will take an unpleasant tumble. Cry, suck. Repeat. That’s what you get.

But they take this nothing and, using time, experience, and inquisitiveness, build a world. They learn to walk, to talk, to be careful on the stairs. All too soon they wear real people clothes, run around with their friends and scream happily. They tackle new challenges and skin their knees and cry and go to school and date and one day go off on their own without you.

Buying me stuff when I‘m old would be nice, but that’s not really the payoff. Watching it all happen, front row seats to the creation of a person. That’s the payoff.

Too bad we didn’t say that.

Catching Up Post II

Looking over my old notes, it’s a shame I let this blog lay dormant for so long. I’ve come to realize that this is how I’m going to remember many of the details I don’t want to forget, so I can’t just skip all that time. But it seems strange and nonsensical to write present tense essays about things Jane did a year or more ago, when she was a very different little girl than she is today. And there’s no catching up, condensing each month into a week so that a couple months from now we’re in real time again, with her childhood development strangely telescoped.

I hope to go back to work soon, my 18 months of stay-at-home dadhood drawing to a close. A wonderful opportunity to be intimately involved in my daughter’s life is nearly over. It’s a shame, but the reality is that with so much going on, I’ve been too stressed, strained, depressed and pressed on all sides to sit down, contemplate, and write. My hope is that employment will bring back the preciousness of the moments I do get and I start writing about them again.

So for now, I’ll just continue with the listing.

1/21/10 Jane, on a play date at age 18 months held up a stuffed animal to another parent and said “pink puppy.” It was, indeed, a pink puppy. I think this was her first two-word phrase that wasn’t an obscenity (we’ve since begun monitoring our language more carefully for fear of being shunned by the other horrified parents in playgroup), she knows her colors, but what pleased me most is that she knows there is more than one way to refer to something—it’s pink and it’s a puppy.

I’d always worried that the animals in her stories that have names with pother meanings (a bunny named “carrots” for instance) might be confusing to her, but this showed that she has some understanding of descriptors. One word can refer to multiple things, multiple words can refer to one thing.

1/21/10 In her nap and bedtime tantrums, she throws everything she can out of her crib except bunny. So she has some self-control there. She knows once it’s gone she can’t get it back, her anger is not general or absolute (usually—sometimes bunny goes too).

Three Years Ago Today

From: Timothy Maguire
Sent: Jul 9, 2008 4:21 AM
Subject: Jane’s a Cancer!

To all Singers, Maguires, and Friends:

It looks like this is it. It’s now about 4:20 AM. Heidi went in to labor around 2:30 this morning. We just called the doctor and he said to come to the hospital. I think he’s a bit of a quack, but we’re getting ready to go. Jane is early, but only by a few days so there is no concern there.

Will follow up with details.

From:“Timothy Maguire”
Sent:07/09/2008 09:22 PM
Subject:Follow up on Baby Jane

When we last left you, it was 4:20 this morning and we were heading to the hospital. We showed up sometime after 5:00 AM (not sure exactly when because I was using my watch to time contractions, resetting it every time a new one started) and Heidi’s water broke on the sidewalk right in front of the hospital. Perfect timing! I dropped her off in the maternity ward and they sent me downstairs to do some paperwork. When I got back, Heidi was in triage, her doctor was in surgery and the resident was doing a cesarean, so no doctor had examined her yet and we had to wait for one to come free and look in on her before they could give her any painkillers.

Very quickly, the contractions got painful and she said she needed to push so I ran out to get the nurse, grab a doctor, get somebody in there and as I was heading out the door, a doctor was heading in Perfect timing! He examined her and said “you’re fully dilated and the baby is crowning.” No time for an epidural or any other painkiller, she was giving birth right then! They wheeled her down the hall to a birthing room and her doctor showed up as we got there. 10 minutes of extreme unpleasantness later, Jane popped out about an hour after we walked in the door and 3:50 after contractions started. Maybe not a record, but close. I really think that if we were running five minutes later, I would have had to do the delivery in the backseat of the car.

So Jane Astrid Wednesday Singer Maguire was born at 6:20 this morning, 5 lbs 14 ozs, 19 inches. Since it went so quickly and Heidi felt better immediately (still very sore, but all things considered…), we hope to bring her and Jane home tomorrow. We’ll find out in the morning if the doctor clears them.

Attached are pictures. Thanks to Tracey, Sara, Allison and Joe for coming out to the hospital to visit and help keep Heidi company!



Three Years Ago Today

And now, today:

Too perfectly tragic to be true?

Or too perfectly tragic to be fake?

NADIA: For days, Mumpy would listen quietly as the elders discussed how only an eye surgery could save her father’s vision and a kidney transplant her brother’s life. But both surgeries were beyond the family’s meagre means. So, Mumpy hit upon a plan, which to her 12-year-old mind seemed the answer to all troubles. She would kill herself, which would save the dowry, too, and her organs would give her loved ones back their lives.

Mumpy did stick to her plan. But the suicide note in which she had scribbled down her wishes was found the day after she was cremated.

The Return of the Princess (Catching Up Post I)


I’ve missed 13 months of Jane updates. Since the hiatus was unplanned, with weekly extensions granted weekly, I’ve kept some notes for posts that never got made. For instance:

1/3/2010 Jane is developing a sense of humor? She babbled a bit and laughed out loud, babbled some more and laughed out loud again. If I know my daughter, it involved a clumsy person and a banana peel.

1/9/2010 Jane climbed on the couch this morning and put a marker to the wall behind. So it’s begun…

1/21/2010 Jane handed me the phone today when someone called. I was washing dishes and didn’t intend to answer it, but here she is at my feet, all 18 months and about 18 pounds of her holding up the phone, so I have to take it…don’t I? I was pleased and annoyed at the same time.

Then whatever momentum carried me through the season of the knife petered out as we shifted to the season of the chemo (not my season, nor Jane’s, but that of someone nearby). After that, even a sentence or two, here or there, became too much and the trail does not pick up again until July.

Jane’s First Two-Word Phrase


How cute!

Learned Something New

Turns out “snot-nosed kid” is almost literal.

There will be no pictures with this post.


On the evening of September 12, 2009 in room 209 at the Fairfield Inn in Binghamton, NY. And a bit from the next day.


Who Is This Baby?

The Itsy Bitsy Janey went up the Janey spout
Down came the Jane and washed the Janey out
Out came the Jane and dried
up all the Jane, then
The Itsy Bitsy Janey went up the Jane again.

At what point do you start to wonder about your child’s personality? Should it bother me that she likes songs better when her name is in them? (Her favorite song is Janey Had a Little Lamb.)

I cheered when she escaped from the swaddle blankets in which we wrapped her as an infant. Fight the power! Throw off your shackles! My proudest moment as a dad came when she wriggled her arms out of the escape-proof Miracle Blanket, “the Alcatraz of swaddling blankets!”

Shortly after Jane switched to people food, she started feeding the dog, as all babies do. But sometimes she’d hold food out in her fist and let the dog try to get it away from her. Then she’d pull it back and eat it. Psyche!

We thought that was funny.

She also liked to play “feed daddy” where she’d hold out
her food for me to take just like she did for the dog. Ok, a little gross, but cute and I usually played along. But every now and then I’d lean forward and open my mouth and she’d pull the food back eat it herself. Psyche!

Is that funny?
Where do kids get these ideas? Obviously, nobody did that to her. On some level, I was as proud of her sadistic little game as I was her escapism of a year ago.

Jane has other games—she likes to flip the light switch to
turn the lights on and off. She gets pleasure in manipulating her world, participating, making things happen. Except she doesn’t just flip the switch. She reaches out her fingers to it, then looks at me and waits until I shake my head, “no, Jane, no! don’t do it!” Then she laughs and flips the switch.

The uneasiness grows.

I often hold her in my left arm while I pour milk from a container in my left hand into her bottle, which I hold with my right. I’ve noticed for a while that she’d pat me on the shoulder while I did it. It made it harder to control the flow of milk and sometimes I spilled it, but I enjoyed the little “atta boy!” appreciation she was giving me. Recently I was holding her facing front while I poured and she couldn’t reach my back to give me what until that moment I had interpreted as appreciation.

So she gave the milk carton a