Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Stories (One long, One short)

This time of year if I even see one PSA about children/families/individuals who are giftless/hungry/alone for the holidays, I get choked up. Case in point, the other day, e-baby asked me why it's better to give than to receive. I told her it was because it feels good to give someone something, like when we donate to the Goodwill. She wasn't quite following (well, they could just go to Target and buy some things). She prodded for more-- she asked why we donate old things to the poor, and I tried explaining how some people don't have much, and the least we can do is give them our old stuff.
Blank stare, crickets.

So I took a different strategy:
me: You know how, when you come home from school, we make dinner, or sometimes we eat out?
e-baby: Yes
me: And whenever you outgrow your old clothes, we go buy new ones?
e-baby: Yes
me: And when your birthday comes around, or Christmas, you get lots of new toys and books and things?
e-baby: Yes
me: That's because mommy and daddy have jobs and we are paid enough to buy the things we need, and have a little extra to buy things we want, like dinner in a restaurant or a toy now and then. Well, some people can't find good jobs, or their jobs don't pay quite enough for all the things they need. There are even some mommies and daddies who can't afford to buy food and toys for their children (and at this point, I start choking up like a super-sappy-sop and can't speak in a coherent sentence anymore-- little face with huge brown eyes, so lucky to have everything a child could ever need)

So we discussed that there are organizations that we give money and other donations to so that they can bring food and toys to people who don't have enough.
e-baby: If I had a friend who was really poor, I would give her one of my toys that I didn't want anymore.
me: Would you maybe give her one that you do still want?
e-baby: Well, no, I don't think that would work.
I mean you know, she is a 4-year-old, not Jesus or the Dalai Lama.

But, she seemed really receptive to the whole taking-care-of-poor-children thing and asked a few more times about how we could help some poor children. So we began a new family tradition: each kid has a budget for buying toys for donating, and we go shopping. Jambuca is still too small, so e-baby shopped on his behalf. She picked a deluxe toy food set (like the one she has and loves) and 2 small Disney Princess figurines. "He" picked a 12-piece toy muscial instruments/band set for babies (like the one she has and loves) and 3 Matchbox cars. We also picked out a bunch of her favorite nonperishable foods to give to the Food Drive at my office.

Here's my favorite part...

In line to check out at Target, the man in front of us accidentally bumped into e-baby, and knocked her over a little. He apologized profusely, and she (in classic e-baby style, using the opportunity to make a new friend) tells him (loudly), I'm donating some toys and food to the poor children! I am so excited! I can't wait to donate! It will make some children so happy! This is the happiest I've ever felt!

After he had checked out, he noticed that our Matchbox cars accidentally made their way into his stuff, and he had been charged for them. Before the cashier could credit it back, he said, NO! Leave it on my bill- That little girl is going to donate, and I want to be a part of it.

A near-tearful Hallmark moment. Over a $3 Matchbox cars donation! But no, that's not the reason. It was the poignant, the raw and gorgeous humanity of the situation. 

When we put the toys into a Toys for Tots collection bin, e-baby told the toys to find their way to a great new home. I don't think she really gets it completely-- how can you understand hunger if you've never been without food? -- but it is the beginning.

By the way, if any of you have ideas for other ways to get preschool-age kids involved in helping others , I'd love to hear your ideas. I'd love for my kids to grow up with a strong conscience and sense of social justice. After all, it was my own mother who, in the mid 1970s, had her children flying Black Power kites in the field next to the airport which had been notable for their racist empoloyment policies. Start 'em young, right mom? (this really is true. ask her about it. my mom is so awesome.)

OK, and the 2nd story. Much shorter, struck me as funny.
To save time and water, the kids have been bathing together more often. We let them use our big bathtub, and tonight I overfilled it and overbubbled it. Jambuca ran into my bathroom, sat right down and pulled off his right (red) cowboy boot. Then he pulled off his right sock, and stuffed it carefully inside the boot. Then he pulled off his left boot, then the left sock, and stuffed it inside the left boot. Then he neatly lined up the pair of boots next to the bathtub and put his arms up to be lifted into the suds, stomping his feet in excited anticipation.

Heh. I think at 1 yr old, I was wriggling free of my diaper and running from the house to streak nekkid down through the neighbors' yards. Jambuca is SO Montessori. (For the record, Jambuca does love to run around nekkid. But he mostly stays inside.

Gingerbread House-Eating Day

I love making gingerbread houses at Christmas, decorating them with cheap candy, and picking at them throughout the holidays. At the end of the Christmas season, the whole thing is so stale you just want to throw it away. E-baby has never been all that interested in eating them, so mostly they sit around being decorative.

This year we made a whole gingerbread village. There was a large central house (town hall?) made mostly from graham crackers and ginger snaps, surrounded by 5 tiny houses made from one of those gingerbread house kits. E-baby made my favorite snowman ever with mini marshmallows.

This year, Jambuca was very, very (VERY) interested in the gingerbread village. He climbed up onto the kitchen island at one point to grab a mini-house and try to gnaw on it. Repeated efforts to redirect him were thwarted and just led to a lot of screaming, so the gingerbread house moved to the top of the fridge.

It's been there for almost 2 weeks. That's just useless.

So, thanks to a great idea from my BFF Lizard, we also decided to have Dec 15 be gingerbread house-eating day. At breakfast today, the kids went nuts on the houses. And honestly, they didn't want much. Everyone had fun. E-baby said it was her favorite day of the year, and she was only sad that she'd have to wait another year for gingerbread house-eating day.

She also started singing this funny song with the lyrics "Chick it easy." It's odd, so I decided to videotape it. Here it is!

(Thank you again, Lizard, for the great idea! And, it is killing me that I know I took pictures of this year's house, but I can't find them anywhere.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Recent Collection of e-babyisms and Jambucaisms

* Discussing the Irish potato famine, we somehow got onto the subject of fungicides and insecticides and how they have saved so many lives from starvation and famine. She said that they were like superheros, but for potatoes. (car conversations with e-baby are strange, but never boring)

* He won't go anywhere without his mommy doll: a Polly Pocket with perma-clothes and hiking boots. He carries it in the car, leaves it in his seat to go to school, and grabs it as soon as we pick him up. He loves to point to it and say, Mommy! and then point to me and say, Mommy!

* At school, a little boy friend told the class about watching Rudolph on TV. She burst into hysterical sobbing, and once the teachers settled her down enough to speak, she said, I missed it! Now I will never get to see Rudolph! (the teacher told her that it would come on TV at least 10 more times before Christmas. I DVR'ed it and we watched it this evening).

* He loves to push the Pager button on the cordless phone cradle just to hear it go BEADLE-BEADLE-BEADLE! He also likes to use the cordless phone cradle as an easy-chair for Polly mommy.

* Describing a troll that has bad teeth, she tells me, That troll doesn't eat oranges- he's a scurvy troll.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Existential Mommy Crisis

Since I haven't posted pictures on Flickr since the Ireland trip, you might be surprised to see some more up there (Thanksgiving week and the first snow of the season)

When e-baby was 2, she loved watching Caillou. She was the same age as Rosie, Caillou's little sister. I enjoyed watching her go from being able to speak less than Rosie to being able to speak better than Rosie. I also wondered whether the kinds of things Caillou was able to say and do were really representative of a 4-year old. I mean really, there's no way a 4-year-old can do all that stuff and speak so clearly and understand such concepts.

Tonight we watched Caillou for the first time in a long time. E-baby is Caillou's age and does all the things Caillou does. Jambuca is just a little younger than Rosie. Caillou is a typical 4-yr old (only waaaaaaaay better at using his polite words). It took my breath away.

Speaking of e-baby, she never fails to make me laugh with how she explains things. This evening, a friend/neighbor from next door came over with her 4-yr-old son, and we loaned them our copy of the book James and the Giant Peach. I read it to e-baby last month, and she loved it. She was showing her friend the pictures on the cover, and explaining who the good guys were, and the bad guys, and then she told him about the peach.

"They went inside that peach. I mean INSIDE of it! Wait, I'll show you..."
(putting her hand waaaaay into a big barrel of goldfish crackers)
"See how my hand is in here like this? THAT is how they were INSIDE the peach!"

A lot can change in 2 years.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Joy of Cooking With e-baby

This evening, even with evil Dora yelling at her from the TV, e-baby was more interested in developing new recipes in my kitchen that would make her restaurant patrons happy. She told me I was the waitress, and to get her some ingredients.

Last weekend I gave you a recipe of my own for using up excess cream cheese in your refrigerator. This week, I give you three e-baby originals. If she becomes famous someday, remember you saw them here first.

Also, for the record, all I did was provide the supplies she asked for. The creative mastery and execution are entirely hers. All recipes are made to serve 4.
Raspberry Marnies
4 big raspberries
4 baby carrots
Put the raspberry on the tip of the carrot like a head, so it looks like a little person whose name is Marnie.

Marshmallow Puffins
4 raspberries
2 marshmallows
a spoonful strawberry preserves
Slice the marhsmallows in half the short way (across the beltline of the marhmallow? Slice the sagittal plane? Just see the picture, OK?). Use each marshmallow half as a platform and smear a bit of preserves on it. Then rest a raspberry on top.
Chef's note: It does not need to resemble a real puffin. Just needs to make a "puffin" sensation in your mouth when you eat it.

Cheese Bonnets
1 stick of mozzarella string cheese
4 grapes
1T vanilla custard, prepared
4 fresh pomegranate seeds
4 toothpicks
Cut the string cheese in half, and then slice the half into 4 pieces. Eat the uncut half.
Dip a grape in vanilla custard. Attach the cheese to the grape (dipped end) with the toothpick. Rest a pomegranate seed on top like a fancy lady's flower on a white bonnet.

After she had finished, and her customers had all eaten their fill of her culinary delights, she told me,
"Well, I've been mostly cooking, so I'd like to rest up and play now."

She had earned some R&R for sure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why Texting is Better Than the Phone

Scene: An office supply store, prematurely decorated for Christmas. Kids hollering and playing a toy trumpet loudly, employees giving the stink-eye.
"Hey, should we do the grocery run while we're here? What time is (so-and-so from out of town) getting here today?"
"I don't know-let me check"

(Option A: the phone call)
"Hey, we were thinking about plans for the day, and wondering whether it made sense to go to the grocery now or later, so what time do you think you'll be getting here? PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW. NO, YOU MAY NOT HAVE THAT IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE AND WE ARE NOT HERE FOR TOYS Sorry, go ahead."
"Oh gosh, I'm not sure how far we are from leaving, and even then, I'm not sure how far it is from here to your house. We will probably stop for lunch along the way. If you need to do some things, go ahead, because we haven't left yet and it will be awhile. The last time we did that drive there was some traffic, but oh, that was a weekday. So probably it'll be an easy trip. I don't know how far it is, though."
"Gosh I don't know, maybe 2? 3? Later? How about we call you when we get close."
"Oh, OK, well let's see... turning it on... Let's see. We're 4 hours away now, plus lunch, so we'll be there in about 5 hours."
"YES, NO, WAIT, I MEAN NO, YOU CANNOT CLIMB ON THERE. ok, thanks - see you then!"

(Option B: Text)
"When will you be here?"
"Around 3:00"
"Cool- c u later"

Once in awhile you meet people who Do Not Text. They know how to, but they won't. I appreciate a conversation as much as anyone else, but really, which option seems nicer?

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for SMS.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recap: Guy Fawkes Day, DC, Veteran's Day and a Recipe

Our Guy Fawkes Day party was last weekend, and we had a blast. It was great to see friends, watch the kids as they get older and an play together more, and burn stuff in the backyard. 'Cause that's the real reason we celebrate, after all. S'mores this year were not as good as usual, mostly because Hershey's miniatures are really, really crappy ever since they stopped using cocoa butter in most of their chocolate, turning it into a chocolate-flavored food. And don't even start on the b.s. that Hershey's was never good-- plain old Hershey's milk chocolate was tasty. Krackel and Mr Goodbar used to taste creamy and delicious. They weren't Belgian, but they were good. Now they taste like wax. They don't even really melt in your mouth. It's all wrong. I know that this change happened about 2 years ago, but last year we had Ghirardelli and Resse's peanut butter cups, so we didn't notice until now.

Monday I flew to DC, and spent a few nights at L'Enfant Plaza. Usually when I go I stay in Rockville because that's where our regional office is. But this time, I was downtown. It was magnificent. Right next to the Smithsonian castle and the National mall, a hop on the Metro to the White House, good restaurants. I was reminded why DC is such a tourist destination. I think I prefer it to Manhattan- more places open to the public, and less crowded.

Oh yeah, I promised a recipe For the party last weekend, SNG made bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeno peppers (MMMMMM!) and in preparation, each of us bought 3 packages of cream cheese, without knowing about the other one getting cream cheese already. We didn't use 6 packages of cream cheese. We didn't even use 3. I had 4 bricks of cream cheese left over in the fridge, and when the world gives you cream cheese, make a creamy dip.  So today I made up the following recipe, which was SUPER-good:

2 8-oz packages cream cheese
2 c reduced-fat mayo (yes, it would taste even better with full-fat)
a small handful of scallions, chopped (I used shallot tops from the garden- probably 7 or 8 stems)
1 can artichoke bottoms, chopped (hearts are fine, I had bottoms in my pantry)
1 can long asparagus, chopped
1 jar hearts of palm, chopped
2 c. cooked broccoli
1 t garlic
8 oz package shredded cheddar cheese
an extra 1/2-3/4 c shredded cheese

Mix all but the 2nd part cheddar in the kitchen aid, low speed, until it's all well-blended together. Divide into small or medium ramekins (mine are 16 oz) and sprinkle the last of the cheese on top. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until bubbly.

I made 6 ramekins, and baked 2 of them The rest are waiting in the fridge.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two Weeks of Mostly Vacation

We have had a busy and fun past couple of weeks. There are also lots of things rattling around up in the grey matter so this'll be a lengthy if perhaps a little boring, post.

We left for Austin on a Tuesday 2 weeks ago, after work, and flew until very late into the evening. There are no nonstop flights right now (boo!) and Jambuca doesn't sleep in a lap. He dozed about 20 minutes before we landed. By the time we got the kids into bed, it was 2am Eastern time. Rough night, but still probably the best way to go so you don't lose a whole day to travel.

The first day in town we went up to UT campus and wandered. The place has really changed in the last 10 years. The stores on Guadalupe are entirely different, and the campus buildings are much shinier and prettier than they were before. Even the bus routes have changed. No more number 9 bus, and ER goes past the Texas Swim Center now. But I enjoyed the visit, and we bought some fun Bevo tchotchkes at the Co-op. I spent a few minutes wandering the halls of my old building (where the Spanish and Portuguese departments now live) and nothing inside was the same-- the elevator even goes all the way up to the top now!

It reminded me that I used to have a research assistant who was in a wheelchair, and I wouldn't let her run subjects alone because if there was an emergency, she'd have no way to escape the building. Those were the days, when life was simple and no one on the board of regents gave a rat's toot about the safety of undergraduate research assistants. 

Thursday we went to IKEA and let e-baby play, play, play at the kid area (Smaland). It was the first time she could play- she's barely tall enough (by 1/2 inch). Oh how sweet, to wander the aisles with only one fidgety kid, and 3 grown-ups. Every store should have a Smaland.

That night we walked to Cafe Medici, which is a fairly new coffee shop a couple blocks down from our old apartment in Clarksville. They had GREAT coffee. Beautiful coffee. I think the location used to be a women's clothing store???

Friday we had a playdate with T and E and their 3 kids (A, M, and V). Their oldest child is famous for being The Reason we decided to have kids at all. He's still the sweetest, smartest, happiest, perfect-est little boy ever (except, of course, for Jambuca). Be careful around him. He'll make you think parenthood is so easy. In order by age, it's A, e-baby, M, Jambuca, and V. They got along like a house on fire. They were pirates. They were singers. They were monkeys in trees. They were construction workers. T and E seriously need to move to Raleigh someday.

That evening we walked to the coffee shop in the shopping center at Windsor and Exposition. A shame about that place. There used to be a fantastic little gourmet grocery store, a small hardware store that carried the bits and parts for everyone in the neighborhood's old appliances, a restaurant that was an Austin fixture, an awesome bakery, a post office, and a few other little shops here and there. Then the property was sold to a person in Houston who refused to renew the contracts of any vendor who 1) sold meat 2) sold other (non-milk) animal products, 3) sold products that might be used to harm animals (like mousetraps and bug spray). This happened while we lived there, and one by one all the great places left. Now there's a post office, a coffee shop (that sells only vegetarian sandwiches and pastries), a yoga studio, a holistic health woobie-woobie place, some kind of vitamin thing-or-another, and a lot of chiro-realtor-lawyer-crap offices. What used to be the heart of the neighborhood is now its weird second-cousin that no one want to get stuck sitting next to at Christmas dinner.

Saturday we went to Natural Bridge Caverns with my brother, his wife nd their baby, and my parents. I loved it. So did e-baby. Jambuca fell asleep half-way through. E-baby was great at asking questions throughout the tour, and I could tell she was really absorbing a lot of the information. She's since taught her friends (and some of my friends) about the rock formations you find in caves. Sure it took an hour to get there, but it was worth it.

Sunday, we had another playdate with E and the kids, and had dinner at Kerbey Lane South. Pancakes as big as your head.

Monday, SNG and I left the kids behind and went to San Marcos. Unlike Austin, it has hardly changed in the last 15 years. Sure the surrounding area is different-- there's continuous suburb from San Antonio to Austin now-- but the campus and downtown are essentially the same. I still love that town. I'd still love to live there again someday. If corporate life ever gets too dreary, perhaps there's a teaching job waiting for me... Later that evening later we took a walk to Mozart's coffee shop on Lake Austin. I saw a guy drop his car keys into the lake. He tried fishing them out with a golf club, and finally had to jump in for them. Dinner at Magnolia cafe. Grumpy kids. Mom came by with the van to rescue us from a long walk back to the house with two overtired gremlins.

We flew home last Tuesday. Wednesday I took a day off work so e-baby and I could ride all the rides at the State Fair. It was rainy so hardly anyone else was there. It felt like we had the place to ourselves. No line for biscuits at the Apex Lions Club, no line at any rides, no lines for cotton candy, no lines at the petting zoo, no lines at the Grist Mill, no lines at the Ocean Spray samples truck. We had so much FUN! And I chatted with a rabbit breeder at the rabbit exhibit for a half hour and came away with the knowledge that we need a pet rabbit.

Thursday evening we drove down to New Bern. One of SNG's big projects had a grand opening over the weekend, so we went to the festivities. Lots of boring speeches (sorry, Gov Perdue, you're in that list), lots of lunches and dinners, some fun for the kids, and I'm really glad we went. It was cool to see the project and meet some of the people SNG has talked about in the last couple of years.

We got home Saturday night, too tired to do anything. Pooped.

Sunday, we went to the state fair again. The whole world was there this time and we waited in line for ev-er-y-thing.

Whew! OK, so that's where we've been.

Now other stuff.
In the last 3 or 4 weeks, Jambuca has grown tired of being misunderstood. He has exploded into more signing, trying to say words (with very limited success), and asking us for more words/signs. The number of new words I have seen/heard from him are no longer countable, really. It's all very exciting.

He's also been really affectionate this week. He must have read the post last month about how he prefers SNG, because I've become A-OK again. He want snuggles and hugs and kisses all the time. I recall e-baby was like that at this age, too. She's still very snuggly, but she's also surly at times. Jambuca's just sweet, sweet, sweet.

Whew. brain dump finished.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Sweetest Kiss

It has been bothering me a little bit lately that Jambuca is such a daddy's boy. I don't mind that he's nuts for SNG because SNG is a super cool dad, but I am sad that he seems to (vehemently) reject me in favor of daddy a lot. It's been worse the past couple of months. His 1-yr-old teacher suspects that since e-baby is so much mommy's girl (and demands a lot of attention), he has just gone to the easiest source of available parent attention-- daddy. 

Well, then he goes and does something like this....

Jambuca and e-baby were playing with the dress-up box. SNG helped Jambuca dress in a dog costume and took him to the bathroom to see himself. Jambuca was so happy with how he looked that he walked up to the mirror and licked his own reflection on the nose. SNG told him "Now go give mommy a puppy kiss!" So he toddled out to the living room and gave me a proper (smooch!) kiss right on my cheek. I had no idea he could give a proper kiss! I melted right down to nothing but a dribbly puddle of gooey mommy-love. He gave me another kiss on my cheek, then he gave his big sister a kiss on her nose.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time Stood Still and Slipped Past Like a Sneaky Sneak-o-sneak

(seriously, I wote this on the 24th. Just didn't hit publish until the 25th)Today is my e-baby's birthday.

You were once small enough to use my finger as a chin up bar. I would get lost in that tiny hand while time stood still.

When you were an infant, I would look at your fingers and eyelashes while time stood still.

When you were one I watched you dance while time stood still.

When you were two I listened to your stories while time stood still.

When you were three I explored the world with you while time stood still.
Now you are four. Time stood still. Time passed in a flash. I am so proud of you and cannot wait to see what you will do next. Thumbs up to you, little mama.

A little over 4 years ago, imagining what it would be like to have a daughter, I didn't know what to expect. She's just like me. She's just like SNG. She's not like anyone else. She's unchecked, unbounded joy. She's curiosity. She's wisdom. She's in her underpants and cowboy boots. She's dressed as a princess. She's everything I ever want in a daughter. She steps on my last nerve sometimes. I can't imagine life without her, and the world is a sweeter place with her in it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lizard!!!!

This is a quick post to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my BFF Lizard. I hope you had a fantastic day, and we're all sending you lots of birthday hugs! I am so glad to have you as my friend!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Belated Half-birthday Post!

Jambuca's 18-month happened while I was out of town, so I accidentally missed his doctor's appointment. It was rescheduled for today.

The big deal: last shots until Kindergarten!!!!

He took his shots very well, and seemed more angry about the being held down part than about the actual injections part. He cheered right up once he was able to sit up again. By the time we left, he was guffawing and running down the hallway. I asked him whether he wanted a Nutri-grain bar, and he said "HARHARHA!" I don't know what is in those things that makes them like crack for little kids, but it makes bribery a snap.

He's still tracking along at 50% on length and weight, and he's doing fine on all his skills. Further ahead on gross motor than anything else, as I discovered myself when I came into the kitchen only to find him climbing on the counter. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is safe in our house unless it's under lock and key. It won't be long until he figures those out as well. He can already open the outside doors of the house if they aren't locked.

His language skills are coming along. He still has a LOT more comprehensive vocabulary than expressive. He can point out all sorts of animals and other things in books, follow instructions without me having to point, he knows some body parts and animal sounds. He says lots and lots of stuff, but it mostly sounds like babble. He says giraffe as "jah," milk as "muh," and car as "caaaaaah" (real slow-like). But he does love to try to talk. Thank goodness for sign language, because he can't say goldfish or cookie. But he can sure as heck sign them! Loud and clear! The doc says his language developent is right on median track.

His personality is showing more and more. He's persistent at doing tasks, and enjoys playing with things that involve using his hands. He's open to new people. He likes to play loud games. He likes ACTION! and EXCITEMENT! I can't wait to see what more comes of that personality.

E-baby has a birthday coming up fairly soon. She'll be getting a new bike. Jambuca will be inheriting her walk-bike. I know it will be the highlight of his year.

Boring post, I know, but I have to get these things down for posterity.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Formerly Late SpiderStan

My last post was a sad one about the death of a man I greatly admired, and who will be sorely missed by many, many people.
This post is also about a man I greatly admire- a man who met death, had a coffee and beignets with death- but who thought better of it and came back to life. Or perhaps death decided they didn't have the right chemistry together. Either way, this is not a sad post.
I wrote most of this post from a hospital waiting room more than a week ago.
On Tuesday two weeks ago, my dad collapsed on a bike ride. His heart had completely and suddenly stopped. He had been riding with two others, one of whom broke his fall (Bail onto a friend! SAVE THE CERVELO!). The other waved down a driver. Within seconds, the driver was doing CPR. Another rider arrived and called 911. The passerby did CPR for a good 10 minutes. If you've ever done CPR training, you know that's hard work. EMS arrived. They shocked SpiderStan multiple times before loading him into an ambulance and one of dad's long-time dearest friends rode along with them. EMS told the friend that SpiderStan is dead. They promised to keep trying, but don't get your hopes up.

At last, his heart started again. It had taken somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.

In the hospital, he started moving. He moved his arms and legs. He tried to remove the IVs. This was a good sign: he had not been paralyzed. Then he was out again. At one time, he had 12 IV bags going in, along with a breathing tube, a draining tube from his stomach, a heart pump, catheter, and probably some other unpleasantness he's glad to forget.

To save his brain, the doctors induced a coma, and cooled his body temperature to 89.6 degrees. He would stay this way 24-48 hours. All we could do was sit and wait.

Meanwhile, I was at the office. The office! Who gives a CRAP about the OFFICE? This is my DAD! The INVINCIBLE guy! I was at work. Eating my own hands. At last, Mom gave me the green light to come to town after she was assured that he would not die while I was in transit. Jambuca and I arrived around 10:30pmTuesday.

My brother picked us up from the hospital. My brother, who was mom's rock all day long, and she was his. He warned me that it would be shocking to see dad like this. I was afraid of what I'd feel, looking at my dad in such as state. He is invincible. I couldn't compute SpiderStan = Comatose. We got to the hospital around midnight and mom sent me up to see him. I walked in. He was a mess of tubes and wires, dried blood here and there, lots of mechanical noises, and a smell I've never smelled before, and that I will never forget. A horrible, sterile, chemical smell. He was wrapped hed to foot in cooling blankets. And there was my dad's arm. I put my hand on his arm. And I knew that he was going to live. He had no intention of leaving so soon. I told him I was here. I described the trip. I said that I love him and that hundreds of people are praying for him. I knew he could hear me.

The next day, the hospital waiting area was full of the worried faces of people like us, hoping for the best for their family members, fearing the worst. We paced, not knowing whether he would remember us when he woke up. Would he walk again? Speak again? Pick up a baby again?

My mom slept less than anyone, but you'd never know to see her. She was fresh, energetic, keeping all the rest of the family and friends from singing in a minor key.

Wednesday night, she slept in the ICU. That night, he woke up.  For the first few hours, he didn't know what had happened to him, why he was in the hospital, why he couldn't sit up, why he had these damned tubed and wires all over him. He knew mom, and later in the morning, he knew my brother, he knew me. He remembered everything up to the day of the ride. That would come later as well. Nothing had been lost. He was all there 100%, but with a serious wake up call.

* can fix anything.
* always knows the best way out of a sticky situation.
* loves to ride a bike
* loves the sound of his grandchildren's laughter
* thinks romantic thoughts about my mom, all the time, and thinks we don't notice
* is my hero

Dad had open-heart surgery last week, and he's recovering remarkably well. I think I'll go to Texas in September, around the time he gets back on his bike, so I can keep up with him. By December, he'll be faster than ever. Then I'll have to make him pull the kids in the trailer (again).

I'm sorry it has taken so long to get this post up Every time I read it, it's not quite what I want to say. It still isn't but eventually you just have to put it out there and call it eough.

Dad, I'm so glad you are OK. I love you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Everything I Really Need To Know I Learned From Dr B.

* If someone with road rage tries to get you outof your car for a fight, even if you did nothing to cause it, say "I'm so sorry" in the most sympathetic way you can muster (through the window). Whatever's making your opponent so angry, there's nothing you can say to make it better. A sincere apology goes a long way to soothe blind fury.
* Too much structure is oppressive, but kids need some kind of structure. Schools with no rules produce kids with no direction.
* If you don't teach your kid the meaning of inappropriate self disclosure, their friends will.
* Every opportunity that comes your way, give it serious consideration. You won't take every opportunity, but give everything a chance. You can't get to the next station if you don't jump on the train.
* Never lose your sense of humor. If your name rhymes with a brand of beer, let people make knock-off t-shirts to honor you.
* Always be kind. Smile easily.
* Know more about math than you strictly need to. Sometimes it comes in handy in conversation.
* Trust others to be their best.

Every time I go back to Dallas, I tell myself that I need to pay a visit to my old university and visit Dr. B. I worked in his research lab 94-95 and was the lab manager from 95-96, and he was instrumental in my making the choices I made for graduate school. But I never managed to stop by and say hello. I received tragic news this evening. He and his wife were excellent climbers. Mt Ranier was practically his playground as a young man, and his stories about being a professional mountain climber were fuel for the adventurous imagination. My heart goes out to their 2 sons. I can't imagine how hard this is for them.

Sorry this post is depressing. I wanted to get something out in words to keep a memory alive. Happier posts coming later, I promise. If you pray, please send up a nice word for a couple who should have been around to see grandchildren, to enjoy retirement, to have another vacation, to mentor another student, to care for another toddler. I hope they're hiking heavenly cloud mountains.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This week's list of random collected items of little or no interest.

I'm still trying out the Glycemic Load diet, and after losing 2 pounds the second week, I gained 2 1/2 pounds the third week (no change the first week, BTW). That was kind of depressing, so I drowned my sorrows in chocolate covered almonds and raisins. Then, back to the program again. It occurred to me later that the 2 1/2 pounds might well have been muscle, since I've been getting in some consistent workouts for a change. Let's give it a month to see whether I can chip away at my badonka-donk on this diet, and if not, I'll probably switch to something else.

The exercise program has been terrific. Some neighbors (not the bike riders next door; other neighbors) turned me onto a half-marathon training program that they did last year, which takes you from novice/5K runner to half-marathon in 12 weeks. They said it was really good, and another friend at work also did it several years ago and vouched for it as well. So, I'm on it as well, with a little adaptation...

He assumes you're starting from 5K. At one time, 5K was no big deal -- the typical morning jog to work was about 5K, and the afternoon jog home was 10K cross-country on hills.  Oh, to be young and invinvible and elastic. That was 4 years ago. Since then, I've alternated between being a little out of shape and just plain lazy. So, I'm taking 2 weeks to get to the base level of the program, doing basically the first week of the program but with shorter running distances.

For starters, I ran 2 miles on Sunday. I went early to beat the heat. HA! It was hot, it was muggy, there was no breeze. My heartrate wasn't very high but I could not push my body to any kind of speed and the whole time I felt like I was going to just keel over with heat exaustion.
Monday is a "stretch and stregthen" day, so I did the Yoga DVD that PIC loaned me. That was great! I did the warm up and level 1, so it was just 30 minutes, and it felt so good to do deep stretches and hold poses that made my muscles all warm and tingly. It was refreshing. I especially like that the instructor reminds me of Neil Patrick Harris, and all I can think of are the Harold and Kumar movies, and Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog, and that just makes me smirk and giggle the whole time. I also like that the models in the DVD are not skinny. I hate skinny models on workout DVDs.
This evening I ran 2 miles in light rain, cool air, a little breeze, and it felt SOOOOOO GOOOOOD. I could push the speed further, enjoy taking deep breaths (instead of feeling like I'd suffocate from the heat), and afterwards, I did 30 minutes of Yoga for a cooldown and stretch. E-baby even did some yoga with me, but eventually decided she would prefer to do pilates, so she did a pilates workout alongside my yoga. You go, girl, do your own thang. I like both.

NON-WORKOUT UPDATES-- In just the last week, Jambuca's been really working hard at talking. It's mostly words that only a mother can understand, but for example, yesterday in the hour of getting ready for work in the morning he said six different words that I noticed. For the record, they were fish, flower, milk, bowl, bear, bird, and food. Or approximations thereof. I'm so delighted. It will be really fun to have little tiny 1-2 word conversations with him.

Garden's go lots of big melons, some of which I did not know I planted. I have no idea what they are. They are probably the seeded pollinators that are required to accompany a seedless melon variety so that they'll pollinate, but they sure aren't watermelons! They're light green and football shaped! I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

The tomatoes we have are delicious served in thick slices, topped with sizzling-hot turkey bacon and melted cheese over that. Mmmmmmmm.

That's all for now. Have a great week!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Work Deadlines, Familiy Visits, Fad Diets, and More!

Since March, it has been so busy at work that at home, after the kids are in bed, I'm usually working. Last week, the worst of it passed. This project has been tremendously fun, but I'm glad to have a little time to sit and write a blog entry for a change.

I'm also glad to be able to ride to work again. I've had to get to work as early as possible and stay as late as possible given the daycare's schedule, and that means no biking. Next week-- bike!!

It's been bothering SNG and me lately that we haven't been on the bikes in so long, and never without pulling a trailer, so I made arrangements with one of e-baby's old teachers to babysit on Saturday mornings for us. The guys next door also ride, and they've gotten tired of the group ride shenanigans, so we now have a running date with them to ride out from the cul-de-sac. Sweet! As a warm-up, we rode a hilly 16 mile loop this weekend. Um, ouch. I am in sorry shape. It was really fun, though, to feel the wind and hear the road, out with friends on a bike, without a trailer, and be able to say 4-letter-words (which I did, repeately, with reckless abandon).

After the bike ride, Dianaverse came over and we worked on her chair. She has this cool highbacked dining chair she picked up for a song somewhere and it is begging to be artifully decorated to match this old embroidered cushion she also has.

The garden's doing OK. While my parents were in town week before last, we put in trellises for the melons. It's nice, but more than half of the little baby melons are molding and turning black and dying before they get bigger than a golf ball. I don't know what the deal is there.

While mom and dad were here, mom got me started on her latest fad diet, the Glycemic Load diet. Like so many others, it's a no sugar, no flour, low starch diet. Unlike others, you can have all the fruits and vegetables you want. I love fruit, which has been my problem with so many low-carb diets. So far, so good. It isn't hard, and if I can drop 15 pounds on it, I'll be happy enough to eat (or not eat) whatever they tell me. I fixed a batch of banana bran muffins using a recipe from the book, but with wheat germ instead of wheat bran. I thought they were the same thing! They're not. The muffins were super-tasty and that was my first clue that something was wrong. So, back to the store for a bag of sawdust and I made a second batch, with the right ingredients. They were still quite acceptable. Not as tender as the ones with wheat germ, but the taste and moistness were good.

So between the new diet and the time to get some exercise, hopefully by this time next year, I'll be writing about how none of my clothes fit because they're all too big, woe is me. :-)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small Is Tremendous

I was getting e-baby ready for bed, and singing her one of my favorite songs and she was looking at me, so sweetly, so happily, with all this love in her eyes, and she touched my face in that heartachingly sweet way, and when I finished the song, she moved her little thumb to my nose and said,
(e-baby): Smell my thumb. Does it smell good?
(me): Ummmmmm, I guess so? Where’s it been?
This was apparently the funniest thing she’d ever heard anyone say, and when she recovered from her paralyzing laughter, she held up her little thumb to ask it.
(as e-baby): Where have you been, little thumb?
(as thumb): In Mexico!!
Which was the funniest thing I had ever heard anyone say.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ranting and Raving: A Mother's Perspective

Duh, I should never read the comment on cnn's website. It's always bugged me when people think that the sound of a child is de facto a horrible thing, even if the child is oh, I don't know, laughing? Singing? Talking? I want to say, "Did you ever stop to think that your ugly self is interfering with that kid's fun as much as her voice is interfering with yours?" My annoyance with these curmudgeons is multipled n-fold now that I have little talking, singing, laughing people in tow with me most of the time.

People Suck Who:
* Think that any public temper tantrum is either a) the parents' fault for not beating the child enough or b) the child's fault for being the spawn of satan, because all children are inherently evil and need to be beten. Or locked up.
* Think that children should be kept out of public places. The "kids are spawn of satan" attitudes are usually accompanied by an attitude that children should not be taken out in public until they're old enough to behave. OK, so if I keep my kids at home until they're 10, they'll learn how to behave in public around adults. Riiiiight.
* Think that children should never be seen in public and also wonder why they never see their friend anymore since she had kids-- and don't even give me that "just call a babysitter" crap. Unless you're payin'. How's about offering to help out instead of bitching? Better yet, don't call. No one needs friends like that.
* Assume that if a kid is misbehaving that the parents are just LETTING IT HAPPEN, how dare they, and not even trying to stop junior from kicking the back of your airplane seat/talking too loudly in a restaurant/unrolling the toilet paper in the public bathroom/whatever, Stop. Think. Who wants their kid to do those things? No One. Who stands idly by and thinks it's funny? No One (well, OK, I do know some dads like that, but they're almost never trusted alone with the kids anyway).

I'd love to see people (cnn's readers, I'm looking at you!) give parents a break, and the benefit of the doubt. When this behavior is at its apex, Mom is probably planning her strategy to take away a week's worth of TV and steeling up the nerve to lay down this punishment. Because when that punishment is announced, hoo-mama, it's gonna get UGLY.

You used to be a kid. So did I, so did your own parents. Maybe your parents beat the crap out of you when you misbehaved, maybe they didn't, but they did what they could, the best they could, to civilize you, a wild creature, to become who you are today. But you were a pill sometimes, I was a pill sometimes, we all embarassed our parents in public at some point, and they didn't just lock us up in the basement until we were 10 (if yours did do that, then I apologize for my insensitivity to your plight).

Someday my kids will complain to their friends that a spanking would have been SO much easier than the lecture and suspension of privileges their mom doles out. Sorry, kiddos, that's how I roll-- I could no sooner hit you than cut off my own finger. But a long lecture and no tv for a week? You bet I can be that mean. I'm doing my best to civilize some wild creatures. They don't understand their own emotions, or long-term consequences, or even that showing your mommy's boss' boss' boss the chigger bite in your butt in the breakroom isn't appropriate. But these little wild animals are still human. They're as much members of society as you or me or that grumpy guy in row 23D who thinks that airlines should book "adult-only" flights as a service to passengers like himself who can't take the heat. I agree- the airlines should book assholes-only flights as a service to the rest of us.

My friend Jen told me that her parish priest wanted to create a "crying room" at the church-- for people who can't stand to hear children crying in church. That's my kind of guy. 

If you're still reading, thanks for listening to my temper tantrum. I feel much better! :-D

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Butterfly CATCH-ING Net!

Last week was a run-through a class I'm working on, and it all went well, although 40 hours of teaching, coming on the heels of the strep throat misery was a bit stressful. I kind of like stress. No, I really like stress. But it does take its toll on my health- no exercise all week, and the diet was put on a back-burner.

Last night when I got home from work I wanted to relax. Dinner was lazy-- whatever's in the fridge and easy to heat up. And some ramen on the side. I had some leftover blueberries from lunch that Jambuca pilfered out of my bag, and he ate them all up, guffawing happily over these wonderful tidbits he'd stolen.

This morning we went to Durham so e-baby and I could participate in a Duke U research study about overworked, stressed-out mothers of two kids under 4 and how we can't exercise or eat right. It's the one-year follow up. We are in the control group, where they don't give us any tips on how to eat right and exercise when you're a stressed out mother of 2-under-4. They also want to videotape one of our dinners at home so they can see how badly stressed-out mothers of 2-under-4 manage a healthy diet and a tranquil, clean, organized home.

While we were being measured, SNG took Jambuca down the street to Whole Foods and bought a giant clamshell of blueberries, probably 3 pounds or so. He remarked at how much Jambuca liked the berries. I wasn't surprised. Then we went shopping, e-baby got a butterfly-CATCH-ING net (you have to say it like that, apparently). Jambuca had a cup of berries to keep him occupied while we perused the aisles of our favorite import shop. We went to lunch across the street at a Tex-Mex joint. Jambuca wasn't interested in Tex-Mex. He wanted blueberries. We refilled his cup. He ate them all. Later at home, he ate more blueberries. Three cups more. We are now down to less than half the clamshell of blueberries.

Then he had a poop. "Alphagal? You down there? Come up, I need some help!"



SNG got some on his arm-- I thought it was a blue ink stain. The whole Jambuca bottom, both cheeks down to his thighs, were inky blue, after a once-over with wipes.

e-baby thought it was the funniest thing ever. We've been saying blueberry-POOP! all evening. She's also been using her new butterfly CATCH-ING net to catch dozens of fireflies. Once she catches one, she releases it and says, "You are now free to go." And it flies off, oblivious to the fact that it will be recaptured in just a few minutes.

There's nothing like poop and fireflies to melt the stress away.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Customer Service Day! But first, a pity party.

First, this week...

has sucked.

I had the first of 3 major deadlines for this massive project at work on Wednesday at noon, and wouldn't you know, not 5 minutes after I turned everything over to the editors, I started feeling rotten- nauseated, feverish, mild sore throat. So, you know, the timing was good. I taught Wed afternoon and felt a little worse Wed night, but I had meeting Thursday and teaching Thursday afternoon, so I went to work (that was a mistake). By Thursday night, I felt like I'd been drinking lye. All night I tossed and turned with the pain of not being able to swallow. The glands in my neck were so swollen you could (still can) see them poking out. By this morning, it was hard to inhale through my mouth because my throat was so swollen.

I started thinking about maybe going to the doctor, but you know, they'll just tell me it's a virus and to wait it out and I'll feel like such a wuss for going to the doctor about a sore throat. But I went anyway. Good thing, because I have strep throat. Which, luckily, is treatable. But OUCH!!!!!

I think I had strep once in high school, but I'm not totally sure, but this is for sure the most painful throat thing I've ever had. Still not as bad as the ear thing in Ireland (was that streptocochlea instead of streptococcus?), but as far as throat things go, this is horrible. I've been on amoxicillin since this morning and yes, I stayed home from work today. And yes, I felt guilty about canceling a meeting with someone (whom I've already rescheduled with at least once), but I bet she'd rather cancel the meeting than CATCH STREP THROAT, right?

I can't nap because it hurts too much. There's no escape from the pain. Four ibuprofen every 4 hours, chloraseptic every hour or so, they don't do a whole lot to combat this.

Oh, yeah, I was going to tell you why this is Customer Service Day. Today, everywhere I went, I encountered super nice people working in menial customer service jobs. Must be a donut day thing. At the drug store, I got a sympathetic look from the pharmacist who said "I hope you feel better soon!" I hadn't even told her I was the sick one (although the raspy voice and hangdog look gave it away, I'm sure).

When I picked up the kids from daycare, I took them over to Walmart (yes, I know, I boycotted them for years, but now they have this sustainability index and so I'll go there no more than once a month  /rationalization). We picked out 2 presents for birthday parties e-baby's going to this weekend, and then she had to pee. In the bathroom, I discovered that Jambuca had blown out his pamper and had a smelly wet spot on the leg of his pants. *sigh* back into the store to get the cheapest diapers and wipes and a new pair of shorts from the clearance rack. The bathroom is right next to the returns dept at the rear of the store. I had the lady ring me up, and she recognized the graviy of the situation (e-baby told her ALL about it), and offered to look after e-baby while I changed Jambuca in the bathroom. The 2 ladies from photo processing showed her a bunch of pictures (heh- probably customers' orders). I was so grateful. When I came out, she had also attracted a manager who had given her a sheet of promotional Twilight tattoos. I've never seen greatness in the Walmart until today. It was refreshing. I want that nice lady to get a promotion.

After Walmart, I was dying of thirst and pain, so we stopped at ChikFilA and all 3 of us got milkshakes. It was Jambuca's first milkshake. You'd think he had just seen a glimpse of Heaven. The people at ChikFilA were also exceptionally helpful and friendly. Each of the kids went home with a new cow, and I didn't have to carry anything to the table myself. Except Jambuca, who wanted to go behind the counter and make some waffle fries.

Now I'm starting to wonder if all of this was because I looked SO pathetic and hangdog, in which case, that's kind of sad. But maybe because it's donut day, everyone was just in a better mood.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This is why I don't go to the bathroom in private

This morning, I went to my bedroom to find something. The kids were eating and playing, no sharp object, everything was fine. While I was there, I went into my bathroom to um, use the bathroom. e-baby started looking for me. I heard her yell, "MOOOOOOOMMMMEEEEEEE!" and I hollered back but from 3 rooms away, she didn't hear me.

Meanwhile, since e-baby couldn't find me, she went outside to look. Didn't find me there, came back in, started playing again.

I came out of the bathroom, and it was quiet...

too quiet...

Jambuca was missing. I saw the wide-open garage door and panicked. He had toddled out and into the front yard, and was having a nice conversation with Spud, our little scarecrow in the front garden.

SNG wonders why I think it's nuts that he wants his privacy when he goes to the bathroom and kids are around. Maybe it's because whenever I have my privacy, something terrible happens, ya think?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day and the Garden

First, an update: Windows 7-- STILL HAS NOT CRASHED! Ha. HahahahahahaHA! Take THAT, Vista!

It's Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend and a 3-day weekend couldn't have come at a worse time, work-wise. I've already put in an extra 4 hours since I left work Friday, and if I had a full day at work on Monday, things would look a lot more manageable. Still, though, I'm not really complaining. Like a lot of people, I get some of my best work done when it's do-or-die time. And it's more fun that way. Go figure.

We did have some normal fun today. The 4 of us wandered the neighborhood a little, went to BJ's and bought a barrel of cheese balls (Jambuca is trying to finish them off all by himself), and had Red Robin for dinner. Jambuca and e-baby have been pretty grumpy today, and when we got home I figured out why-- it's this cold they are sharing! Jambuca was running a fever, and e-baby was just pooped. He was asleep by 6:45 and she was out before 8. On top of that, he's got really gloopy eyes. It's probably his blocked tear ducts (the doctor diagnosed it last year and it acts up every time he has a cold) but to be safe, I'm giving him antibiotic eye drops which just makes him cry.

I am hoping to fend off this iteration of the cold because I have to teach throughout June-- and have been teaching the last 2 weeks straight as well. It would be a bad time to lose my voice (again).

The garden's going great. Although I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed about the volume of food it produces. The plants are doing well, and they seem to be productive, but so far the only things the garden has kept me from buying at the store are spinach and snow peas. Which, you know, how much of that do you normally buy anyway? The strawberries were mostly eaten by ants for the 3 or 4 weeks that they produced, and now they're pretty much all done. The snow peas are having a second wind right now, but that'll end soon. I've had some swiss chard, but never more than one person's side-dish's worth. Carrots aren't ready to pick, beans produce maybe 4-5 a day. No asparagus or artichoke this year (I knew that when I planted them), no tomatoes yet, no pumpkins or melons yet. The yellow squash look promising-- there are probably 40-50 tiny little baby squashes on the plants right now, but some of the squashes just turn wilty and brown right there on the plant. I don't have a ton of faith that they'll make it through the summer without an infestation of vine borers. I'm gardening organic, whih means all I do is look for the eggs (to SQUASH 'em! get it?) and spray Dr Bronner's lavender soap on them to kill any little beasties that might be around.

But it has been a super-fun experiment, and e-baby has eaten more spinach than, well, ever in her whole life. If I'm honest, she never ate any spinach beyond the little bit I used to sneak into her baby purees long, long ago. She'd balk at anything green in her food. Now she walks along the fence picking and eating snow peas and spinach leaves. She picks strwaberries for Jambuca (if they have't already been eaten by ants) and he eats them (and the snow peas) like candy. I have the joy of seeing the magic of a seed growing into a plant through the eyes of someone not yet jaded by modern conveniences. And that's worth all the money, time, and hard work of creating this monstrous garden.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vista's Last Stand

When I bought this netbook a year ago, it was a couple of months before Windows 7 was released. I preferred XP to Vista, but there wasn't such a choice. And Vista was a pain in my butt from the beginning. It would freeze up mysteriously and regularly. At first it mostly had to do with iTunes and Sleep mode. Once I solved a few problems there, it would still freeze, but not as often. Nonetheless, I hate Vista with the fire of a thousand suns. And before you ask, the software named after the company that I work for doesn't run on a Mac without quite a bit of rekajiggering, and I do run it at home, so no, I'm not interested in a Mac.

When Windows 7 came out, it was exciting because everybody got free upgrades. One of my computers at work now runs XP and the other runs Windows 7. I prefer 7. I was looking forward to my free upgrade. Oops, unless you're running Vista Basic, which is what nearly every netbook came loaded with at the time. Vista Basic wasn't eligible for the free upgrade. So I waited. It was a lot of money to spend on a computer that was only $300 to begin with.

I couldn't stand the freezing any longer, so yesterday I bought the Win 7 upgrade. And installing it was an offense that Vista wouldn't tolerate without a fight. The computer froze up no fewer than SIX TIMES and required 18 hours of installing, rebooting, etc. Vista was not about to walk away easily.

At last, though, it died and Windows 7 is running. And I am happy. It hasn't crashed yet. I want Microsoft to pay me for those 18 hours at my consulting rate.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

32 bites and 4 vials of blood

How many hits will I get based on that title alone?

E-baby got into a bunch of chiggers and ticks over the weekend, and poor child has 32 bites that are bad enough to need regular application of caladryl. Most of them are in really inconvenient place-- her toosh, underwear line, armpits, behind the ears, along her hairline in the back. Others are in hard-to-scratch places on her back. What's worse is I can't really tell the difference between the chiggers and the ticks. I know some were ticks because I removed some ticks, but I think that most of the bites are chiggers because of the sheer number and where they're located. Chiggers like warm crevices.

So poor e-baby is really itchy and she takes every opportunity to show people the bites that are waaaay in her buttcrack. I can't move fast enough to stop the drop-trou before it's too late. She even showed the VP of my division some of her most irritating bites in the breakroom at my office. I was sort of frozen to the spot. What do you say when that happens?

Things haven't been much easier for Jambuca. I got a call yesterday from his doc that his hematocrit came back surprisingly low and they wanted a full iron workup on him ASAP. You'll recall how the finger stick went last week--- uh-oh. I brought him in this morning and immediately regretted it because I got the same inept lab tech as last week. She must have read the tentativeness in my voice, and she called in the head technician for the lab. Then they got a third tech and brought us into a separate lab room. I held Jambuca while the lead tech worked the needle, a second tech worked the tubes (they took 4 tubes / vials of blood) and the 3rd tech helped me hold him still. Any of you who are parents know excatly how HORRIBLE it is to hold down a screaming baby who is in pain. It takes a few minutes to get that much blood. By the time they finished, he was hysterical and could barely catch his breath for the next 10 minutes.

I sat outside with him in the meditation garden (one of our perks at work-- along with the health care center) and let him eat a bag of marshmallows. That settled him briefly. Then he cried because he had no more marshmallows.

Well, I just needed to share those sad stories. Really this week is going very well otherwise.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jambuca at 15 Months

Jambuca had his 15 month doctor's visit yesterday. Poor guy, 3 shots and a finger-stick for a tiny vial of blood that took (no joke) 10 minutes of squeezing his poor little finger and when it was all over, you'd think we'd been slaughtering chickens in the lab. Perhaps the most inept lab tech ever. The shots were expertly administered by 2 nurses-- they really do a great job. But that lab tech with the finger stick-- I mean really, there was enough blood to fill 5 little vials!

He was 50% for weight and head size, and between 50-75% for length. So, he's average like his dad. And I think he's just about perfect.

Although he signs a dozen or so words, he's still not talking at all. He's really coordinated, he can get into trouble that a 1-year-old shouldn't be able to accomplish, but he won't tell me about it. If he doesn't start talking soon, I'll start to wonder if he's just being secretive.

I thought you'd enjoy a little video of Jambuca being silly. Here you go!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Biking past the place where we usually see a goose walking around on the sidewalk:
ebaby: Where's the goose?
me: It must've flown north. They go north in the summer, and south in the winter
ebaby: we live south, right mommy?
me: yes, hunbun- we live south
ebaby: GOOSE IS COMING TO VISIT IN THE WINTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
me: yes, and then we can have it come to dinner
ebaby: Yeah! We can have it to dinner!
me: we might be able to say "that goose is cooked!" [misunderstood as "that goose has cooked," apparently]
ebaby: yeah. A goose really can cook. You just have to know the trick to make it cook.
me: Oh yeah? What's that?
ebaby: You have to put FISH ON THE STOVE! Haaaaahahahaha! That will make itcook! Goose love fish, so put fish on the stove and they will cook and we can all eat fish for dinner!!!!!!!!!!
me: awesome!
ebaby: And if you want to make a sea otter cook, put FRENCH FRIES on the stove!!!!! If you want to get a sea lion to cook, put hamburgers on the stove! We can have all those things for dinner!

Conversations with e-baby are never boring.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rickshaw Biker Chick

The bike/walk/run to work thing has worked out well. I invested in a contraption that I swore I’d never own because it essentially turns me into a sled dog. But, as it happens, the thing is ideal for jogging with a gigantic double jogger loaded down with 2 quarts of tea, sippy cups., a dozen Nutri-grain bars, 60 pounds of whiney kids, 7 or 8 stuffed animals, an extra helmet, kneepads, and a tiny bike strapped onto the back. Guess what? A friend of mine thought I was a homeless person pulling a homeless person cart around campus the first time she saw me (that was before she realized it was me-- she wasn't like, "Oh, look, Alphagal's gone native, how about that?"). And not just because of the hand-written poster boards with my manifesto (OK, I’m making that part up to justify pulling a cart around on campus). It’s not very dignified, but it’s darn functional so I’ll keep using it.

But it still takes an hour to get to work that way, and last week I was hammered with things at the office. I ended up driving every day. Thursday afternoon, SNG took e-baby to New Bern to visit grandparents, which gave me the chance to put in some overtime after Jambuca was in bed. I needed the time— between Thursday and Friday nights, I got about 6 or 8 hours of overtime in.

Come Sunday, the weather was too nice to miss so we took a ride in the park. I made it about 20 minutes before my legs just completely gave out. It was pathetic. SNG made the point that I should switch to the bike for the summer and not worry about it being a shorter workout—enough weeks of short hops on the bike instead of driving will translate into fitness, and I can do it in less than an hour.

So this week, that’s been my M.O. It’s only 3 miles each way, and from my garage door to my office door, including drop-off at both daycare/preschool, takes 30 minutes. Driving the same route is 15-20 minutes door to door. Walking it takes an hour. But is it a workout? Oh yes. It is a most intense 3 miles. There are no flat spots- just UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN and you get the idea. What I don’t understand is how it manages to be a net up-hill coming AND going.

The ride is short enough to be invigorating instead of exhausting. The kids enjoy it when they aren’t at each other’s throats. I’m just glad to be taking some action to turn back those bizarre 7 pounds I found a few weeks ago.

In other news, SNG got a new grill and we made grilled bananas. Those could easily account for another 7 pounds if I’m not careful. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In Which I Try to Justify TV as a Pacifier

Spring in North Carolina is magical and it's crazy not to take advantage of this window of perfect weather. Except for he odd day here and there, all winter we've been driving to work each day because it's too cold for a baby to be out for an hour in the jogger, or I can't get the kiddos ready early enough to walk or bike, or I have a meeting I can't be late for/leave early or something.

When I got home Saturday after 2 weeks away (a week in Texas, a week in Seattle), I stepped on the scale and discovered 7 pounds more of me than I expected to find. It isn't just water retention either. My clothes fit a little like peopleofwalmart.

So this week I'm not taking any excuses from the rug ramblers-- we are walking/running/biking to work at least 3 times a week. With daycare hours what they are, I pretty much have to stick to a 9-5 schedule or work late after the kids are in bed (which I usually do anyway).

Monday was not a big win. We left the house at 8:30. Pre-children, it used to take me 20 minutes to run to work. Now I have a double jogger with 2 kids and a tiny bicycle strapped into it to push up the hills, and drop offs at 2 different buildings add about 1/3 mile onto the distance. On a normal day, it takes about 50 minutes to an hour to get from my house to my office door. Monday it took 90 minutes. Why? Well, that little bike is for e-baby to ride once we get onto campus. She wanted to stop to look at pinecones, and squirrels, and birds, and leaves, and earthworms, and...

that will not work.

What I need is to keep e-baby in the jogger in the morning, and let her ride her bike home when we have more time. SNG had a brilliant idea: let her watch a movie on my phone. Added bonus: I get to listen to my iPod instead of the sound of 2 toddlers swatting at one another over Nilla Wafers and droolwars.

I tried out the plan this morning and it worked well. She was happy to watch some TV in the morning and to ride her bike home in the afternoon. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

In other news, Jambuca found a pair of e-baby's old shoes, some red knock-offs of Vans, and wants to wear them all the time. Never mind that they're a little too big, they are His Favorite Shoes. It's super sweet the way he brings me the shoes, squeaks a little (EH?) sound, and sticks out a foot which so obviously means "I wanna wear these!!"

The farm is thriving so far-- it's still too early for most of the pests, and the spinach tastes so much better freshly picked. Next weekend I'm going to put bird netting over the strawberry plants.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For Posteriority

I sometimes look back and can't remember whether such-and-so was the same with e-baby as it is with Jambuca. Well, I want to be sure and remember that I had days like this when e-baby was 3. A lot of them. This was my FB status the other day:

today, I said to her,
"OK, so is it TV that is so very, very bad, or is it going to your friend's house to play that is so very, very bad? Because only something very, very bad can make a person behave like this."

OK, so when Jambuca's 3, and I think, "Gosh, e-baby was never bratty like this!" smack me on he posterior with this blog post.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Farm Update, March 22

I haven't said much about the farm since we built it in February. I know I need to post some pictures, but you know, eventually. So, in February, we started snap pea seeds inside and sowed carrot and spinach seeds in the garden. The peas were ready to transplant after we got home from Ireland. The spinach seedlings started showing up after that, and finally, last weekend, we started seeing lots of teeny tiny carrot sproutlets. In the meantime, we started some squash, watermelon, artichoke and purple beans inside, and sowed 2 kinds of sunflowers outside.

My neighbor and her 3-year-old daughter helped out in the garden with transplanting, mulching, and starting seeds. It's nice having help, but more than that, it's nice having company while farming.

Last week, my strawberry plants arrived in the mail. They sat in my garage for a couple of days, so in a fit of willful productiveness, I came home from work Friday evening, knowing that SNG wouldn't be home for 3 more hours (he rode his bike that day), and took the kids out back while I planted EIGHTY strawberry plants. E-baby was easy enough to watch after- she just goes into the gazebo and tells fairy tales to the play-doh. Jambuca is walking pretty well now, so I could let him wander inside the fenced enclosure of the farm. But it wasn't so easy to stop him from eating much, dirt, sticks, seedlings, and pretty much everything else. I eventually got him interested in harvesting the pinwheels we keep in the corners of the raised beds (they act like scarecrows for the birds). So as I worked, Jambuca toddled around with 2 fistfuls of pinwheel sticks, shaking them like maracas.

Saturday and Sunday we sowed more beans-- some in the strawberry beds and some in the front yard. With what we've put in the ground so far, I've got about 140 sq ft of the farm planted and about 175 sq ft left to plant later. I plan to still inter-plant some of the areas and will be moving crops out and new ones in throughout the summer. We'll sure have plenty of vegetables this summer! If half of the plants work out, it should be more than we can eat.

Today 25 asparagus roots arrived in the mail. They are perennial, so they'll occupy one of the 4x14 beds permanently. There are some things that should be planted with asparagus to amend the soil and keeps bugs at bay, but I can't remember what. Maybe it was tomatoes? Or is it that tomatoes should never be with asparagus? Or was it onions? Or should onions never go with asparagus? Oh, I'll have some reading to do.

I don't have any pictures of the garden, but I do have some cute pictures of the kiddos. Here you go!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jambuca's First Steps

Austin's First Steps
Originally uploaded by catandtony318
Jambuca started walking today! In this video he starts out crying because I won't pick him up, and it mixes with laughter as he realizes he's doing it himself.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ireland trip, Day 10: Last Day of Vacation

(*I wrote this before we left but published it after we got home-- we are back in the US now! and- you'll notice my COMMENTS ARE BACK!!!! THANK YOU to my cousin PartnerInCrime for spending her Sunday afternoon being my IT help desk consultant!!! You are a brave woman, PIC.)

The faeries must have known we were leaving soon.
They are trying to lure us back.

I wanted to make our last day in Ireland special for e-baby, since she's been such a good sport about doing all the things we've wanted to do, and we had only seen one (pretty crappy) playground this whole time. The "hop on-hop off" bus loop passes by our apartment and goes past the zoo, so I figured it would be a treat for her.
As we ate breakfast, we heard horse hooves outside the apartment and saw a few hairy ponies being led away. Figured they were getting ready to pull carriages around town for tourists. Later, we saw lots more. On our way out of the apartment, the manager told us it was the day of the horse market, held the first Sunday of each month. We went. It was crowded for many blocks with horses and handlers. I've never seen so many horses in one place, and not a single quarter horse, Palomino, Pinto, or any others that I'm accustomed to. Most of these were smaller, most were a stockier build, and all of them had long, shaggy, beautiful coats.
After the equine detour, we took the bus to the zoo, and along the way saw all the major landmarks of Dublin including the Guinness brewery, the Molly Malone statue, Dublin castle, Cristchurch and St Patrick's cathedrals, sites of many uprisings, hangings, imprisonments, rallies, etc. At our stop we took a long walk through Phoenix park and Granny, e-baby and I hit the zoo while my mom went to a gallery to locate a painting that some friends of hers wanted to get information about.
The zoo was, well, a zoo, but it was heaven for e-baby. She played in playgrounds and saw monkeys, rode on a wooden zebra, saw giraffes and rhinos, and ran around like a crazy nut. She was ready to go when it was time to go, tired as she was.
We headed back to the apartment for some R and R, had a quiet dinner at the Czech pub across the river, and now it's time to pack.
I plan to fill in all of these Ireland posts with photos soon.

Lessons learned:

I love it here and plan to come back.
We should have skipped Cork and just gone straight to Galway.
It would be worthwhile to return to western Ireland in the summertime. And stay for, like, a month.
We 4 ladies are so well-suited to travel together that I'm already thinking about our next trip together.
Dublin is a history buff's dream come true, but Galway is faerie territory.

Ireland Trivia!

Too bad my comments are not working, because I learned a nifty factoid about Ireland yesterday on the historical walking tour.

Ireland is the world's top producer of _____, which accounts for 3% of the GNP.

hint 1: it's a manufactured good.

hint 2: it's not alcohol.

hint 3: the locals tell you it's entirely for export.

Can you guess? Answer coming soon.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ireland trip, days 8 and 9: Dublin

Well, Friday wasn't really worth reporting... went to work, taught all day, love my job, you know. After class, I rejoined Tuti, Granny, and e-baby back at the apartment and we had a leisurely dinner in. I needed the rest, since I have caught another cold, and this one is entirely in my ears. OUCH! I am half deaf (more than normal, heh) and the pressure inside my ears makes me wonder whether I'll have a ruptured eardrum. I hope not, but we fly home Monday morning so I'm a little nervous.

This morning was my first full day to really see Dublin, and I've been itching to do the historical walking tour of Dublin ever since I read about it in October. It did not disappoint. The guide was a history graduate of Trinity college and he clearly loves his job. He told us at the beginning that this was less of a tour and more of an attempt to squeeze 3000 years of history into 2 hours, an ambitious goal. While I already knew the large moving parts of Irish history, the tour filled in a lot of the gaps I had, and cleared up a lot of the confusion I've had over the Catholic/Protestant wars over the centuries.

After the tour we had lunch at the market in Temple Bar, and split up: Tuti took e-baby home for a nap, Granny went in search of tickets to a performance of Mozart's Requiem at St Patrick's cathedral, and I wandered Temple Bar and bought way too many souvenirs.

Dublin's a fine city, but it's no Galway. The old parts of town have beautiful architecture. It's the off season now, and the streets are so crowded with people that it isn't comfortable. I imagine that in the high season, it's horrible.

Tomorrow's our last day here. I'm not sure what I want to do. It's a SUnday so lot sof places will be closed. If the weather's nice, I'll look for a playground so that e-baby can have a nice final day of vacation.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Update: Pictures!

I finally had a stable internet connection for posting pictures from the trip. HERE THEY ARE. They are arranged by location, with Chicago (on the way there), Cork City, Galway, and Aran Islands being the chronology, if you wanted to keep them in order.

It's just a big camera dumpsite, so there will be some you don't care about seeing, but flik through and ejoy what you like!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ireland Trip, days 6 and 7: to Dublin and to Work

Yesterday I woke up early to buy some dramamine to try and relieve this dizziness I've had, and then we took the train to Dublin. Still clear skies, but Heaven Almighty it was COLD. I don't know how Dublin elt so much colder than Galway, but it was. Since I planned to stay at a hotel near the conference while the others stayed at an apartment in the city center, I went along to check into the apt and walk around awhile.

Dublin doesn't have the same WOW factor that Galway has, but there's history oozing from the cracks and there's music in the air and I love it here. Even if it's a little bit seedy, that doesn't disqualify a city from greatness in my book.

Our hosts for the conference took my colleague and me out to dinner last night, and today I taught all day. Great class, great students, lots of lively discussions, I love my job.

Now I am pooped. There isn't much more to say, so I'll bug out here. Tonight I sleep at the hotel on my own again, teach tomorrow, and then afterwards I'll head downtown to join the ladies for the rest of the trip.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ireland Trip, days 5 and 6: Galway and Aran Islands

We missed the ferry to the Aran Islands on Monday, so instead we spent the day shopping (shucky-darn). There is a pedestrian quarter near Eyre Square that has about lots of little shops and boutiques; some are tchotchkes and souvenirs, but there are also music stores, art shops, sweater shops (we are in the land of cableknit wool sweaters), cafes, bakeries, shoe stores, you get the idea. We also had our first pub lunch at a place that had little living areas straight from the early 70s instead of regular seating. We sat in a nook with a couple of couches and overstuffed armchairs, a big coffee table, and canonical vintage mustard, harvest orange, and avocado colored flowery wallpaper. The food was good, Granny had a pint of Southwick ale, and it was hard to leave when we were finished. Then we took a leisurely walk along the canals and shore of the bay to the town of Salt Hill for some tea. We fed about 30 swans on the way back. I have pictures- it was madness.

Dinner was a low-key broccoli and sirloin steaks.

Tuesday, we got up extra early so we could catch the ferry to the Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands and the very place that the opening sequence from the show Father Ted was flimed. The series' location, fictitious Craggy Island, was apparently based on a conglomeration of the three Aran Islands. And let me tell you-- the flyover scenes opening Father Ted? It looks Exactly Like That in person. There are over 7000 miles of stone fences (hand-built walls). People have lived on the island for literally thousands of years, and there is a ring fort dating back over 3000 years. There are actually 4 fort ruins, but I on;y walked around one of them. There is no handrail at the edge of the sheer cliff that drops hundreds of meters to the water below. It's windy up there. I am so glad e-baby stayed behind at the visitor center for that part of the visit.

We saw the world's smallest church from a distance-- it's on a hilltop an hour's walk from the road-- it is only 6 feet wide. That was nifty. Many of the houses still have thatched rooves. Our tour guide, Patrick Flaherty (one of probably 50 Patrick Flaherties on the islandof only 800 people) can count his family back seven generations on Inis Mor. Most people there go back at least as far.

The islands are also the origin of those cableknit fisherman's sweaters, usually cream-colored with such intricate hand-knit patterns-- you've seen them. As you might guess, we spent the better part of an hour in the large sweater shop and musuem. The store had a special for UPS Worldwide shipping flat-rate of 25 Euros-- any amount. Hee!

In other news, I've had vertigo since we arrived in Ireland and it's getting worse- now I'm just plain dizzy and seasick most of the time. I'm more than a little sick of it and hope that it goes away now that I have some dramamine-equivalent.

In other, other news-- How on earth have we managed to be in Ireland in winter for 6 days and never been rained out???? Charmed lives???? (Knock on wood)

Today we head for Dublin. More later!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ireland Trip, day 4: From Cork to Galway

Sunday morning we had a pretty boring morning of breakfast and packing, but e-baby did make a few new friends with a family visiting from Dublin. They had 2 boys, about 2 and 4 years old, who shared a common interest in chicken farming with e-baby. They spent lots of time talking to and feeding the hens while the rest of us got packed up.

We caught the 11:25 bus and had lunch in Limerick. The ride through that part of the country was dotted with the ruins of so many castles that I am pretty sure that at one time in Ireland, all your neighbors had castles. None were functional as anything but very ornate planters, but they were certainly impressive. The scenery was gorgeous, with stocky long-haired black and white horses, dairy cattle and sheep grazing, sometimes in the same pastures.

Arriving in Galway, we found a park with a playground on the way to the hotel, which was only a couple of blocks up the road. Our apartment is really slick, totally IKEA. I have pictures that I'll post on Flickr soon. Mom and I knocked over a Tesco's for groceries while Granny and e-baby played Princesses at the apaprtment (she has all her Disney princess action figures with her). Dinner was lamb, carrots and parsnips, and raspberry meringues. Mmmmmm.

We have 2 balconies-- one overlooking the bay and mountains. We see the spires of several medieval-looking churches reaching up between the row houses and their ceramic chimneys. It is so nice here that I really wish we'd skipped Cork and come straight to Galway.

Today we're going to try to catch a boat to the Aran Islands. The weather continues to be uncharacteristically sunny and dry.