The de Guzman-Belew family hauled off to Seattle at the beginning of the month for GeekGirl Con. It was amazing, fun and revitalizing — and also very family-friendly. Mateo had a blast running around, ducking into the mini wooden TARDIS on display and making friends with Stormtroopers.
For more about our GeekGirl Con adventure, read my write-up at my website.
My goodness, it’s been a while. Between at-home work, freelance work, fiction-writing, keeping up my personal/professional site, taking care of Mateo and maintaining sanity, I have had so little time for anything else. Mateo is a toddler these days more than a baby, and it’s an adventure. He’s constantly on the move, rapidly adding words to his vocabulary (about seventy at last count!), and generally being an affectionate, high-spirited, joyful little boy.
At the end of the day on Easter -- Mateo was pooped, and Buddy was glad for a chance to smell someone's foot.
Brian recently started working as the creative director at a start-up design and production company, so as you may imagine, he’s been very, very busy. I’m lucky if I see him for more than fifteen minutes in a day. He leaves at eight in the morning and is home after midnight. The good news is that he has access to equipment that can make an even cooler corrugated TARDIS, with print and everything. The bad news is that he doesn’t have time to do this yet. The good news is that means business is pretty good at SMD Concepts. The bad news is that… well, you get the idea.
I take Mateo to Brian’s office about once a week. He loves looking at the giant printer and cutting table. There’s a loft upstairs that I’ve been dreaming about making into my office, at least while no one’s using it.
Last month, Mateo had his one-year photo shoot (after having to postpone it because of a sinus and ear infection that had the poor guy looking puffy and feeling even worse), and the photos are in!
Our photographer’s name is Christine Szeto, and she is awesome. Here’s her blog post on Mateo’s shoot, with a little trivia question. I’m sure most of the people reading this post will have no problem answering it!
We took the pictures at the Shinn House in Fremont, California. The Victorian house is surrounded by a Japanese garden and several old, rare trees. There’s also a barn and an awesome, scary plow out back.
The response to Mateo’s TARDIS has made me think about how one raises a nerd. How much is inborn and how much is parental guidance? Sometimes the influence of parents is obvious. Brian’s father was a nuclear engineer who loved Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. Sometimes it’s not. My father was a car mechanic, my mother a homemaker.
Brian’s nerdiness manifests in the typical geeky ways — he likes Star Wars and technology podcasts and Heinlein’s juvenile novels. I like literature (especially late Victorian and early Modernist literature) and biographies of Cleopatra, Mozart, and 18th century noblewomen. We have kind of nerdy jobs — he’s a packaging and graphic designer; I’m a writer and graphic novel editor.
So how did it come about in my case? What I’ve realized is that specific interests don’t matter. What can influence your child to grow up nerdy is modeling for them an intense, sustained, and pleasurable interest in a given subject — interest to the point of wanting to read all the footnotes and sources, to know the minutiae, and feeling a sense of camaraderie with those who share that interest. My dad had Kung Fu — he competed in tournaments, broke cinderblocks with his fists, and taught others. My mom, well, she had Jesus.
My parents showed me that they had interests that were important to them, and while I still like Kung Fu movies and I have a non-spiritual interest in Christianity, it was the model they gave me that taught me that I should pursue and delve into my own interests.
Thank you, everyone, who has come by to look at Mateo in his TARDIS! Thanks to io9 for sending folks this way. He’s still having a ball with it. I’m not sure if I should be concerned about how much time he likes to spend in there.
Brian is going to be drawing up the plans soon so we can share them with everyone who wants to build their own corrugated TARDIS.
For Mateo’s birthday, I bought him a potty.
His father, however, made him a TARDIS.
Brian is a packaging and graphic designer. He made this out of the material he specializes in, corrugated paper.
It's to scale, of course.
Mateo had a very good first Christmas. Friends and family showered him with toys, so all we had to get for him was a really cool wooden activity cube. He seemed to enjoy it.
Mr. George is envious of Mateo's new toy.
A bath and a costume change into the overalls that Granny got for him later, Mateo was opening more presents. He didn’t really get the unwrapping part, but he got the “new toys” part just fine.
Mateo really loves his animal puzzle from Granny.
Later, at Granny’s house, Mateo played with his cousin Jesse.
Both babies got sick after this, big surprise.
Mateo also got some time with Mimi, Nana’s and Papa’s poodle.
Papa's keeping an eye on both of them!
The end of 2010 has been very difficult for our family. At the beginning of November, Mateo’s grandfather, Brian’s father, died after being burned in a house fire. Brian, Mateo, and I flew to North Carolina to be with him during his last days and to make final arrangements. Mateo was an angel, providing much-needed solace and joy to his father during one of the hardest times in his life.
Mateo with Michel and Nana, March 2010
Then, on December 10, my 22-year-old niece Michel was murdered. I cannot imagine how I would have coped had it not been for him. Seeing his smile, hearing his laugh, knowing that he needed me — it has kept me going while my heart is aching terribly. At the same time, being a mother now I know how my sister, Michel’s mother, must be suffering and it makes the grief all the more painful. I am glad that I have Mateo though, grateful that my mother’s love for him helps me to understand the mother’s grief my sister is feeling, though I know I can never fully feel her pain and hope above all else that I will never have to.
Michel is holding Mateo when he was two months old in the picture on the left. It’s not a great picture of her because she was so nervous about holding him, afraid she would hurt him or drop him. (My Nana sits next to them — Mateo is her nineteenth great-grandchild. She now has twenty-one.) I am so sad that Mateo won’t get to know Michel. I have so many memories of playing with her and helping to take care of her when she was a baby and a little girl. Like all of my nieces and nephews, she prepared me for being a mother someday. I was so looking forward to seeing her at Christmas and at Mateo’s first birthday party. I miss her.
Brian and I forgot it was our anniversary when we woke up this morning. Life sort of got in the way of remembering. We’d been out the night before at a San Jose Giants game. (They’re a Giants minor league team, and their stadium has the best churros in the world.) I woke up first, fed the baby, then put him in the bed between us and we lay playing with him for a while, until Brian had to get up to go to work. Then I had to get dressed for a morning doctor’s appointment. We talked, kissed the baby, kissed goodbye, and it wasn’t until I got to his work today to have lunch with him that I remembered to say “Happy Anniversary” to him.
But it doesn’t really matter, to either of us. I love that we began our anniversary in a quiet way, with our little family together, snuggling with our little one. Milestones have a way of zipping right by while you’re busy living.