Friday, July 28, 2006

rice: the new alternative energy source!

For those of you who have valiantly read your way through this blog, welcome to post #100! For the newbies, welcome. We wish you luck and possibly a pot of strong coffee.

Having a baby means that the outside world insists on interacting with me. When the Eldest was little, the grandmothers at the grocery store would tell me he was too hot, too cold, hungry or (most usefully) upset. The babes is a similar target: people are drawn to his red curls, and once hooked, are fascinated by the challenge of getting a smile out of Mr. Sometimes-Sobersides. The young rajah considers his audience and then chooses whether to bestow upon them a smile, a dimple, or most recently, a little tentative hand-wave.

With all of this attention, however, come also acts of kindness. The extremely pierced and tattooed man who held the door for us at the grocery store (our co-op doesn't have electric doors, alas), and then explained his tattooes to a curious Eldest. The four semi-toothless gentlemen in the park this morning, who joked with me about the babes' name, and whether it is better to do unto others as you'd have done unto you...or to do unto others before they do unto you. They were gifted with a pair of hand-waves hello and goodbye, but no smile. Or the lovely man at the Starbucks where Rt 28 meets Rt 16, who saw the Eldest being stubborn and almost - almost hitting me (must...hit...mummy....must...not..hit...mummy) and then nearly run out the door. He comped my iced coffee, the lovely man, when I could clearly pay for it. He knew the power of a stranger's unexpected kindness, and he wielded it wisely. (He also knew the power of a friendly stranger's warning to a recalcitrant boy, but that's another story.)

The babes has been blooming under this public notice, albeit in his own way: quietly, and revealing it upon his own terms. Occasionally, he springs his achievements upon me in a dizzying fashion, as he did this past Wednesday. During a playdate, he rose from sitting to standing, sans support. He stood independantly and took a step or two. He mimicked his brother's sounds - fairly accurately, too, producing a reasonable version of 'hello' and something else that escapes me just now. And he mimicked the other child by waving goodbye and blowing a kiss to our guests. All firsts, the multitude of which left the Eldest and I dancing with delight. Must be all of that rice we're feeding him...

And lest you think that the only intriguing acts around here are performed by the under-three foot crowd (no, I'm not discussing that. Go find another blog for that sort of thing, my family reads this one), the Eldest is currently fascinated by a hand loom, and is demonstrating suprising focus as a weaver. Can't quite sit still for a whole meal, but he'll spend an hour working the shuttle over, under, over, under...

Shabbat shalom, all. May your weekends be filled with unexpected kindnesses and achievements.

Monday, July 24, 2006

and on it swoops until... *flush*

Sigh. Another day in the life...

This morning, after accepting that no, I won't garden in the rain and no, there is no real joy to be found in being thoroughly wet and muddy (there is, but not today), I packed up the Eldest and we zipped off to buy a new pet. Pair of pets, actually. Our dear Dr. Watson, now safely housed in a home that will feed him all the grains and nuts he wants, has left a hole in our family room, and we were out to fill it. With a goldfish.

Classic childhood pet, the goldfish - or so I'd thought. Simple, pretty, kid-friendly. But don't be fooled: apparently, those sweet little bowls get filthy fast, and the water needs to be changed every couple of days. Who can be bothered? And the fish grow - to the point where you need something like 5 gallons, long-term, per fish. Admitting to the man in the pet store that, no, I couldn't commit to changing the water more than once a week or two, I bowed my head and meekly bought the larger tank. I then politely waved aside his concerns about 'establishing' the tank (i.e., letting the water develop the appropriate bacteria) before plopping the fish in. 'They'll get stressed,' he warned. I, the queen of stress, smiled and expressed my willingness to take the risk.

Pause to speculate: for whom is this fish, really? For whom was the bird? Oh, yes, the boys loved the birds, but I am suspicious as to whether we bought the bird so that I could care for a simple creature, easily sustained and loved. Ooops. If so, then that would make these fish my attempt to redeem myself, in a potentially expensive cycle. Oh, risky. And yet, onwards I go, feeling almost driven. Time for a line in the sand, perhaps? What - here?

Psychobabble over, we now return you to the original post:

A pair of hours later, the tank was full of carefully treated water, and the filter humming away. The FIL and I had worked carefully, and the result looked, well, like a great big box of water. We dumped the fish in (Speckle and Katie) and watched them swim. So far, so good. And off we went: the FIL to collect lunch and a nap, the Eldest to get himself embroiled in some adult politics and the Mama to get equally tangled while finding she'd been offered a job. (A job! But more on that later.) It was emotional rollercoasterism in minature, but now a fish has been flushed.

Poor Katie. First she swam, then she listed to one side, and finally floated, still in the water. Perhaps stress really can kill. And how do I tell the already emotionally battered child, come morning?

Carefully, I suppose. And onwards we go...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

a bit of five's anatomy

The Eldest is now four and a whopping half. After he passed this milestone, it became clear to him that he is now moving towards being five years old. Each day, I assured him, you are a wee bit closer to being five. But only a wee bit. Armed with this knowledge, he has been telling people that he is 'a little bit of five!' Who could argue?

So, you might ask yourself, what perspective does a 'little bit of five' have on gross anatomy? (I'm sure you've spent sleepless nights over this one.) Well, I'm in a position to answer.

The focus is mainly on out-put of various sorts, which I am usually called upon to examine. To be fair, I have encouraged some of this, as if the child blows his nose and finds a clot in the tissue, I'd like to be notified, so as to stand ready for the minor nosebleed that follows. But this morning I was treated to a discussion of a slightly different sort:

'Mummy, I thought that I had a tummy ache, but the alligators in my bottom didn't want to push [the offending food] out. And I thought maybe I'd vomit, but I don't have to, and I'm worried that it will want to go out my penis, because the spiders who push out the pee won't want to push this out, too.'

I mentally counted to ten. I took deep breaths. Then started making an odd gulping sound. The baby, engrossed in puffed rice, swiveled his head around to watch Mummy turning red. Finally, I gave up, roared with laughter. The Eldest looked delighted. 'Really, there are alligators and spiders?' I asked. He nodded solemnly...and grinned.

Marvellous is the world of a little bit five.

Shabbat menu:

friday night
curry-lemon salmon (the Eldest was so moved by this fish that he was forced to pound his fist with pleasure on the table, until he was able to speak. 'This - fish - is - great! Who made this?'
green beans
pseudo-bread: the Gluten-Free Gourmet's French Bread. Best bread yet! I was so moved that I finally went and bought a used copy of the book on amazon.

shabbat lunch (with four guests)
spring rolls (plain and mango-mint)
green salad with lox, avocado and hearts of palm
portobello-green bean salad, with goat's cheese
sweet potato salad
dessert: fruit and blueberry pie
(So yummy! A guest and I were so full that, hours later, we couldn't do some sushi justice at our girls' night out.)
Bonus! For those of you who made it this far, here is this, from a nice guy who just couldn't resist. Ever hear of Amy Sohn? Ever read Amy Sohn, complete with a delightedly rebellious greek chorus? Fun, fun fun! Hey, Amy - I'm a SAHM, and yes, I'm a few doughnuts short for my dozen, but darlin', don't you ever come play in my Tot Lot. Ya just couldn't take it, honey. But then again, I suspect you already knew that. She who mocks might just be she who fears...

Friday, July 21, 2006

as shabbat swoops in... brief Friday moment to myself. And here is what's percolating:

I've regained enough self-confidence (self-faith?) to try and think about a talk I'm giving in September to a nursing association about...advocacy and children. Once I admitted to myself that right now, I feel like a non-expert about my own kids, things started falling into place. I even came up with some fun titles, thanks to the Gnome and the j.c.. Here's what I got:

Armed and Advocating: a parent's perspective
But I can't even reach the water fountain! Growing an Advocate
Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Advocate?
you must be as tall as *this* sign to have an advocate... (this was all joyous cousin's)
Advocacy for the Diapered Set
Advocacy for the Calendrically Challenged

Vote, o readers! Which is your favorite?

On a related note, there was an intriguing article in the Tue, July 18 NYTimes. Here is the link. The title to the article, in my copy of the paper (it's different on-line) is: "A City Agrees to Cut Down Three Trees to Make a Grandmother's Yard Allergy-Free." The article describes how a child who is highly nut allergic (contact will set him off, not just ingestion), is cared for by a grandmother whose property is overhung by three hickory trees. The nuts from the tree, it seems, are a problem for the boy, so the grandmother has petitioned the city to have the trees removed - at her expense. The family will also donate money to replace the trees with something else, presumably allergy-friendly.

My hackles started rising when I read the title alone: can something ever be allergy-free? I see this phrase a lot, on products saying they are 'allergy-free,' institutions - even my own gym has a sign saying it's nursery is 'allergy-free.' I sat down with the gym manager and explained: there is really no way to be allergy-free, not with people potentially allergic to anything. She paused, and looked at the babes playing at my feet. 'Well,' she said, 'what are your kids allergic to?' I laughed a little. 'You'd never be able to allergy-proof the nursery for my pair,' I said. 'But you could protect them by becoming allergy-friendly, and prepared..'

Should life conform itself to the needs of the individual? Does the needs of the individual outweigh those of the group? I think we should work to integrate allergy kids, diabetic kids, hemo-kids into the larger group, but you can't compromise their safety to do so. So is there a balance between the peanut-free school and the isolating peanut-free table in the cafeteria? To what extent are we willing to rebuild our environment for an individual's needs?

I wonder sometimes what school cafeterias will look like, a generation from now. If the trend continues, the 8% of American children with allergies (up from 4% in my generation) will double again, so that my grandhcildren's generation will have 16% with allergies. What will they serve as a school lunch? On the other hand, given the disastrous offerings currently on tap, perhaps a radical change might not be so bad... Still, it begs the question as to how much change. If you dig up today's hickory tree and replace it with grass and a nice rhododendron, you just don't know if the next homeowner will have a child allergic to grass. Or rhodos. It's as if we're being taught a lesson: having carelessly mucked around with the world, we're now in a position where the world bites back.

It used to be that allergy didn't have as heavy a thumb on the scales, but now, as anaphylaxis is increasingly common, the calculus is changing. Can we create a world flexible enough for my children to be completely safe? For this woman's grandchild? I doubt it. But I can hope that we can create a world that will be flexible enough to protect these fragile lives, and to respect their needs. Today, I am certain that we can - at least until the children begin to advocate for themselves. Although the landscaping bill for the environmental allergy families begins to look daunting...heh. They should see the mockery that is my food budget.

Shabbat shalom, all - may your weekends be filled with peace and respect.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

the blogger's motivation

One of the assumptions that the blogger makes is that his/her ideas are worth reading, that his/her stories are interesting. It’s the rebellion of real life against the lure of fiction, the famous-person biography, the too-dramatic reality TV.

As it happens, I crave the ordinary, the boring. Too often, it feels like my life swings between excitement and drama…with periods of waiting in between. But what does the blogger do on the day so mundane as to be un-blog-worthy? Apparently, wait until dinner.

At dinner, the babes clapped. Delighted, first the Eldest, then the rest of us joined him. We applauded our clever babes, who’d taught himself this trick. We applauded the dinner, each other, the coming rain.

Here’s to an ordinary day, and the child who invoked its ovation. May there be many encores.

Dinner tonight (prepared by a Mama whose tum semi-politely declined to partake):
Broiled sausage
Potato-corn salad

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day, day, birth-day. Hmm.

Yesterday was a god-awful day. I got up, roared at the Eldest who’d somehow forgotten how one puts on socks. Then I went off to my therapist to wail about being a bad mother, and how my children deserve better. She listened with remarkable patience, before telling me to get over myself. Shocked, I picked myself up off the floor (literally, as she and I were playing with the babes on the floor while we talked), and went off to the babes’ 9th month ped appointment, musing.

I walked in the door at the pediatrician’s, and was greeted by a new nurse, who practiced doing a lead and hemaglobin test on the babes. He watched her do it, occasionally grunting disapproval over the angle at which she held his arm. I was proud of my relaxed baby and his patience, and even boasted a bit about him. Which is probably why I was ripe for the piano that dropped on my head.

The ped walked in and chatted, listened to me reel off a list of the child’s achievements (he stood on his own! he took two steps! he points and has specific sounds for things! he’s working on sustainable, alternative energy sources…I think he calls it poop!). She then gently informed me that in the past three months he’d dropped from the 50th percentile down to below the 5th. She had a range of suggestions, all imminently sensible, all of which I mentally tagged as To Consider Later, while I stewed.

The day half-over, I staggered into the house. There was a bunch of messages on the machine, which I promptly delegated to the Future Me, who might be able to talk to people without screeching incoherent things about babies and caloric intake. Instead, I sent off horrified, panicky emails to various medical professionals who are now wishing they had a spam filter for me. Taking a stern grip on the ragged bits of my psyche, we packed up Dr. Watson, our parakeet, and took him to a home full of plants, adopted dogs and a fish, where hopefully he’ll be loved and fed a diet that includes grains and seeds. Lovely people, but all I could think about was: is this it? Is my life really about food? Ha. Fine, then. I have failed to be able to feed our bird, but I’ll damned well get feeding the people right.

Yup, it was a day when the universe kicks you in the teeth, takes a break, then finds a new and squishier spot to prod. Which is why it’s so stunning that today seems wholly different.

Today I was equipped, through no fault of my own, to deal with the universe’s whims. We hauled ourselves out to the local park, only to discover a free concert being held by Stephen Baird, a children’s musician whom I can now highly recommend. Playing a dulcimer and later, a guitar, he sang songs, aided by masses of small children whom he alternately dressed up in costumes and gave intruments. The Eldest was entranced. I was delighted. The babes was initially uncertain, then distinctly pleased. And the parade of shy, excited children was just lovely.

After a short stop at the bubble vats, we headed off to work on our Feed the People initiative. Objective reached, we treated our thirsty selves to a drink, which the Eldest promptly poured into his stroller seat. Looking at the strawberry-banana puddle in the Phil and Ted, he started screaming – and I started searching for napkins. We dried him off, cleaned up the stroller and gave him new clothes (which, to my surprise, I actually had with me), and he hopped back in. Problem, solution. Nice.

Why are some days a four car pile-up, while other days are merely bumpy? My therapist claims that sleep makes all the difference, a friend pointed out that apparently God only provides the challenges that we can succeed at, but me, I think it’s somewhere in between. I’ve long believed that the universe is guided by the Big Guy Up There, but that it is up to the individual as to how we manage each bump in the road. Do we take it personally, do we have perspective on it, or do we just stomp off in disgust? But having my boys has taught me a new aspect to this: some days, the game is just rigged. A parenting moment that would have earned a 4.2 on one day will score a 7.5 on another. Circumstance is everything, unless you are the most iron-willed of mamas.

Today, however, is coasting along under a very specific aegis, and I think that’s what has stacked today’s odds towards grace. For today is my partner’s birthday, and he has earned every ounce of sunshine that he gets. Nice of him to share it with the peons…

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

random moments of the day

The Mater always said that a home with a crawling baby is a home with very clean floors. Watching the babes hoover around, I can only agree. What she didn’t say, though, is that a home with a cruiser has very clean toilets…ugh.

‘Mum, I had a great idea!’ (patient look from the mama feeding the baby) ‘I left a piece of toilet paper –here- so that the next time some poop wants to come out, the paper can catch it.’ (semi-hysterical look from the Mama)

From cradle to grave, marketing is truly ubiquitous. Avoiding t-shirts with logos is a major challenge, but why should my boys be human adverts for Disney/Pixar, the gap, Old Navy? Generally speaking, I am successful – with one exception: underwear. The alarmingly vast majority of toddler undies is branded in some fashion. Today, I caved and bought the kid ‘Madagascar’ undies, a movie he doesn’t know (yet). Last year, I caved on the same issue, buying “construction vehicles!” undies, which he now recognizes as Bob the Builder – a TV show I don’t think he’s seen more than once. Hopefully ‘Madagascar’ won’t have Bob’s longevity, if only to protect the shreds of my philosophical stance…at least until next year, when we can move on to non-toddler undies.

The hell with kashrut*. If I don’t have that iced coffee, I’ll be too tired to function. (pause, to see if the rest of the brain buys this. It doesn’t.) Damn.

“I’m pretending I can eat peanuts, and I’m also putting in one of your favorite foods: an onion! Oh, and Mum, everything I put in my soup is soy. This is a soy egg, and it is safe for the babes, so you can put it into your milk.”
Thanks, love.

Dinner tonight: depends on whether the partner or I can get to the store. If so, then spring rolls with tofu – a favorite of the Eldest’s. If not, then I dunno…leftovers? Rice crust pizza? Hm. Maybe I ought to deputize the man to hunt and gather tonight. With, mind you, a shopping list in hand… Nah, too hot. Salad with peaches and lettuce, another with tomato, cucumber and tofu. leftover mashed 'taters and done.

*kashrut, or the laws of keeping kosher, require certain things, such as not eating milk and meat at the same meal, buying processed foods that have a symbol marking them as supervised kosher (green beans, for example, are unprocessed and kosher. A loaf of bread might be kosher, if lard isn’t used, and a rabbinic supervising presence makes sure that all laws of kashrut are observed in, say, a given bakery.).

Sunday, July 16, 2006

but why are the hills blue?

This morning, more faithful to the command of the calendar than to the thermometer, we packed up and headed off to the Blue Hills Reservation for some hiking. I watched dark patches forming on my shirt as the heat turned an 'easy-moderate' hike into a real workout, and marvelled at the Eldest's ability to bounce around. On steep slopes with loose rocks. Hmm.

We saw little, startled frogs, mosses, fungi feathering fallen logs, orange mushrooms, bright pink mushrooms, dark red and orange striped mushrooms and a sort of albino bluebell that might have been yet another mushroom. And ferns, ferns, ferns. Occasionally, we'd climb above the forest and emerge into a fierce sun and bare rock. And all around the rocks, lining the paths would be the blueberry bushes. But they weren't blue...

Above us, the birds called to each other, while the crickets held forth below. And from us on the trail, the tromping of our feet, the continual chatter of an excited small boy and the burbling of a delighted baby. And the occasional clack as my partner would check his pedometer.
Please note: this is a vast improvement over the days when he'd take any opportunity to check his palm pilot during the hike. I am distinctly grateful to him for the change, and will now publicly note that I am, yes, aware that technology has a siren call that it is hard for the gadgetty at heart to resist. Clearly he has made an effort. Or is it just that the baseball season is over?

To the Eldest's sharp disappointment, most blueberry bushes have only immature green berries right now, but we found some few ripe ones, and I managed to pick a few to eat on the ride home. "I'll save some for you," the little fellow promised, and indeed he did: a single, bright green berry. I thanked him kindly.

A satisfying day, and of course a learning one (hoo boy, have I built character. Wonder when I can stop?). Satisfying, in that I never expected to parent such complex children, but I had hoped to be the kind of parent who took her kids out on hikes and nature walks. Hurrah for fulfilling my own expectations! And learning, well, today's lesson was that both adults must be aware as to the child's needs, depending on the nature of the terrain. We'd been playing man-to-man, but clearly a more flexible strategy is needed, where the adult in front helps the kid down slopes, while the adult behind helps him up them. Luckily, the child is learning to trust his feet, and to move slowly on steep parts of the trail. Except, of course, when he forgets and starts to bounce...

Friday, July 14, 2006

remembering to dance

It’s erev shabbat, and I have a new haircut of cropped curls, pseudo-bread in my oven, and an auntie-bred CD whirling in my DVD player. When “On The Day You Were Born” came on, I scooped up the babes and we danced. Foxtrot, modified charleston, spin, spin, dip! He laughed one of those squeaky, croaking baby laughs that takes over their whole body.

It was infectious. I felt joy welling up inside me as we dipped and spun, filling me until I was overwhelmed and wanted, inexplicably, to cry.

‘On the day that our baby was born,’ I sang. ‘On the day our baby was born, the angels sang and blew their horn – and they danced, o they danced.’ Clinging to me and giggling, the babes offered me a smile. I grinned back, and somewhere in that smile I stopped worrying about the eczema that’s flared up again, the race against the clock to shabbat, the dosage for the eldest’s clotting factor, the budget…and we danced together. Steps I knew, steps I made up, things that just made the babes squeal. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flutter of offended feathers. We’d scared the birds at the birdfeeder who were willing to put up with the neighbor’s cat on our deck, but did not at all like the whirling, bouncing people behind the window. Suck it up birdies, because this is a moment I’m going to hold on to.

Shabbat shalom, and may your weekend be filled with transcendent, unexpected joy.

Next week: long neglected posts on the philanthropy of lemons, nine months and ten years.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Let me be clear: I didn't vote for that man.

Well, if you ever wondered about the power of the money-heavy special interest group in politics, here it is: Governor Mitt Romney overturned a ban on the formula freebies given to new mothers when they leave the maternity ward. This ban was proposed by Romney's own Department of Public Health, and is clearly a move influence by the International Formula Council. Romney's spokesperson said something vague about the rights of the formula feeding mother...Hm. When I needed to supplement with formula, I knew exactly where to get it. When I needed to train my eldest to extract milk from the breast, well, help was harder to find.

So, Romney, how much money did they put in your war-chest, eh? I'm not sure where to turn here: should I be disappointed that Romney didn't listen to the AAP, the CDC, the WHO, and the small army of acronyms who urge breastfeeding as a way to save money, improve health and generally make the world a happy mammary place? Or should I be disappointed that Romney's willing to tromp over his own Department of Health and undercut them for political purposes? Or should I just cock a cynical eyebrow and assume that any country that values early mother-child wellbeing as little as ours (ever do a country by country comparison of maternity leave? I wouldn't recommend it without a nice big scotch in your belly) would continue to screw over the new mother.

Bottom line: the formula feeding mother doesn't need any more than a pamphlet to get basic education about formula feeding. A mother who can't breastfeed for medical reasons will be guided by her doctors, as will the mother who chooses formula for personal, social or economic reasons. On the other hand, the nursing mother needs nurturing, an education that will undo the urban myths about breastfeeding, and time. Lots of time. All of that and she won't make a dime for a major corporation... So are the formula feeding mother's rights being infringed upon when you ban the formula freebie bag? Nope. Are the breastfeeding mother's rights being dented when you give her the bag, endorsed by the hospital as a Thing To Have? I'd say yes. But she's not profitable, so don't you mind her none.

And what about the baby? You can't tell me that formula will reduce the chance of bedwetting, or shape healthier preemies. It'll sustain, even nourish, but no man-made substitute can really be a substitute when we're still learning about the original. So the smart choice for Romney would have been to bow out of the subject altogether, deferring to the doctors. And their position is abundantly clear. So who is making the choice for the American family: the doctor or the politico?

Don't try and sell me formula by dressing up the sales pitch in a diaper bag. Me and my boys, we're not buying. All I can hope for is that the hospitals in MA who have rebelled against the bag (the place where our babes was born had already begun the revolt as of 9/11/05) will continue. May medicine continue to refuse to be shaped by commercialism, and instead be shaped by the needs and preferences of the consumer.

For the curious: the group leading the fight to reevaluate the formula industry's role in early maternal-child feeding is the pithily named:

And for another perspective, try the Opinion Journal because yes, they've got one on this..

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

today was…just another day.

And a damned full one, at that. Lessee…

8 am: doing factor with the Eldest, as part of my role as dangerously-undertrained civilian. Having committed to my chosen vein, I moved forwards with my wee needle, realizing as I did that the sucker was going to roll away from me. It did, and the vein blew. Refrained from teaching the child new and interesting words. Took a deep breath and rescued the poke, managing to get the factor into the child (and uncooperative vein). Slightly stunned by my success, swaggered upstairs where I barely resisted collapsing back into bed. (See glossary for italicized terms)

10 am: wrestled babes and box of useless technocrap into and then out of the car, en route to the techie heaven that sold us the electronic mess. And lied about its having been refurbished. And got the rebates wrong. And then failed to fix it when it didn’t work. And then kindly offered to exchange it…for something of the identical price. Um. No.

10.25 am: played peekaboo with the babes while waiting out a flunky who wanted to handle me herself, sans manager. Managerial type appeared, reviewed the situation with me and handed me over to another manager. From this height on the corporate food chain, I arranged an exchange for a brand new computer, worth $150 more. Cost to us: $3.47, for arcane reasons. The babes and I graciously accept, and wrestle the possibly more useful box of techno-stuff back out to the car.

11 am: sit with my therapist, who is dazzled by the change in me. Somewhat dazzled myself, I then begin to second-guess it. What if I’m just riding an energy high? What if when it peters out, I’ll crash and burn? How low, exactly, will I go? She reassures me: yes, you will crash. But hopefully less burning than last time. I wander out, impressed by my own inability to find the grungy lining in this silver cloud.

1-3 pm: run umpteen small irritating errands that I’d been avoiding. Carefully don’t think about sine waves and their application to my energy levels. High, low, high, low. Pushing the stroller in the humidity, begin to turn a respectable shade of chartreuse.

4 pm: arrive home with the Eldest, who is in fine spirits. Notice that the lump on his left ankle has swollen until the ankle is indistinguishable from his calf. Debate whether this is a bleed or an impressive bug bite. Given that he had a dose of factor this morning, he should be awash in the stuff, so a bug bite is more likely. Watch his nose begin to bleed and remember the bloody stain on his bedsheets. Decide that it very well might be a bleed, and try not to think about the immunological implications of the factor dose being insufficient to his needs.

5.05 pm: Give up. Stick ice pack on kid’s ankle and settle him on the futon in front of the TV, with a big glass of juice, just in case we need him hydrated for a new dose of factor. Kid is delighted and I anticipate dramatic reenactments designed to get him juice and the idiot box. Call Dana Farber to review situation with hematologist. Forget the hematologist is a new fellow, and knows less about hemophilia than I do. Hematologist urges that we give lots of factor, right away. Somewhat hesitant, we watch the kid for a while and then do so.

Meanwhile…. the babes is watching as his big brother is benched for the night. He considers the lack of small boy running around and decides to rectify the situation. Thoughtfully, he lets go of my hand and takes a few steps. He then reaches down for a toy and falls flat on his face. I gasp, catch him millimeters from the ground, and marvel at the maintenance of balance in our world.

One boy sits and another rises. Today, he is ten months old.

Dinner tonight:
tilapia fillets, breaded with Nayonnaise, spiced, and cornflake crumbs. Must remember that cornflakes have a very different flavor than bread, and adjust accordingly.
the last of the corn-black bean salad.
baby gherkins, pleasingly sharp.

blew: broke, usually rendering the vein unusable for a week or two.

factor: clotting protein, or clotting factor. The body uses 12-13 to create a clot, and different bleeding disorders involve different parts of that process. The most common factor deficiency is factor eight, as in hemophilia A.

fellow: a doctor who has completed his internship, is a full MD and is pursuing advanced training in a specialized field of medicine. New fellows start every July, which means that July-October they are serious newbies, and their advice needs to be weighed carefully in light of their experience. Usually, they know this and are eager to work with the families, using the families’ experience to offset their own lack thereof.

hydrated: the better hydrated a person is, the easier it is to find a vein on them.

immunological implications: if a dose of factor doesn’t seem to work, this can indicate that the immune system is creating antibodies to the factor. For kids who make no clotting factor at all, this is not so uncommon. Our kiddo made antibodies and was persuaded to stop. However, this doesn’t mean he won’t start again…

poke: means more or less what you think it does. No, not that. The implications of saving the poke are that the needle is never removed from the skin, because if you do you must start over. No reusing the needle allowed, and it’s very unwise to poke the same vein twice, unless you are extremely good at IV pokes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

a communicator's revenge

I have banned the word 'sorry' from our house.

This is a new edict, as of this morning, when for the umpteenth time the Eldest hollered, "sorry!" and sped away at top speed from the scene of his crime. Looking at his blithely retreating figure, it occurred to me that "sorry" meant anything but.

There is no get-out-of-jail card here, you young scoundrel. This is language, and thou shalt use it in a thoughtful, aware fashion. Sadly for you, I am a vengeful Mama, and I will hatch a plan to educate you, willy nilly. Probably more nilly than willy, but I can deal with that.

To fully grasp the challenge I was taking on, I began compiling a short list of other such place-holders. Here's what I came up with:

  • No, I won't play squshy-mushy. [a.k.a. dog-pile, translated as 'I know you don't approve, but other grown-ups don't mind, so I won't do it if you are watching.']
  • Food is not ever yucky. [translated as 'This food suits my fancy. For now.']
  • I am being gentle with our baby. [Translated as, 'I know you are watching and saw me transgress and are about to ask me what I'm doing...']
  • I love you. [variously translated as 'I love you,' 'please don't be mad at me' and in some rare situations as a precursor to 'can I have that?']

Bereft of 'sorry,' the Eldest floundered. I invited him to use other words, a tactic we use when we don't understand his meaning in other circumstances. He looked horrified. I enjoyed his horror for a little while, then relented, and discussed with him the various puzzle pieces that made up a simple 'sorry.' He looked skeptical. Over lunch, I was relentless on the subject (heh). 'O baby,' I said, 'I'm regretful about sticking the spoon of bananas in your eyebrow. I myself would not enjoy an bananaed eyebrow, and I will try to be more careful during the rest of your meal.'

Needless to say, there is now banana puree in some rather creative spots on the infant, and as for the Eldest, well, time will tell. But he's just knocked his bowl of rhubarb-strawberry compote off the table, and here's his effort:

I won't say I'm sorry, but I won't do it again (and that's an apology), and I know I shouldn't have done it.

Not bad, kid. Not bad a'tall.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

the reward of the overly energetic

Today was a long-awaited day, a day full of 'someday when I have time, I'll...' A chronic list-maker, my list of DIYs had reached alarming proportions - almost the length where any sane person would throw it out and start over. Most days are full of lists: imagined, instinctive, reflexive. We go through the day, doing the various things that need doing, many so often repeated that they sit, liquid, in some part of the fore-brain which instructs the hands and feet to do the dishes, the laundry, change the diaper - all without fully involving the active consciousness.

So, today. We started with my partner perforating the eldest under a nurse's watchful eye. I didn't dare inquire how it went: success is paired with a triumphant declaration, failure comes with small person sized howls and a grumpy adult. And then it began.

The eldest and I went off to the local and thus overpriced nursery. We bought an array of plants: ferns, bug-biter-something, coneflower, spider plants, fuscia and a delicious smelling honeysuckle. We then fortified ourselves with juice from Dunkin Donuts, and proudly bore our booty home. There, we dug up an enormous hosta from the (sunny) front yard, and split it into five pieces. These, we transplanted into the (shady) back yard. We then put most of the shade plants into the back yard, and filthy, had to stop so that the eldest could be cleaned up and sent off to a birthday party.

While he was gone, the baby and I stared at each other, marvelling in the quiet of our home. We played our newest game: toss the ball. This was oodles of fun, especially as the babes tends to gurgle and bounce with pleasure, but eventually he tired of the game and crawled off in search of something interesting. I also wandered off, scooped him up and went up to the study, where I filled a happy hour disentangling him from the computer wires and child-proofing them in these little plastic sleeves that snap shut. I've been meaning to put those in place for months! and the presence of the sleeves and their box has been a mocking reminder of my failure to get the job done. Take that, o box.

But then, glory! the eldest came home and we went straight out and finished the planting. We planted the last of the ferns, the fuscia, the coneflower and ah me, the honeysuckle. Then I experimentally spread some mulch, and was delighted to see how nice it looked.
Note to self: buy lots more dark mulch.

We sat and rested a moment, and cast our gaze upon the work we'd done. It was a wee bit like being in a Matt James show, in which the garden starts off straggling and sad, and ends up being lush and lovely. Except that we have mud where we ought to have grass. And the planted beds look lush where we have mulch and a bit straggly where we don't. Okay, so maybe like there's still fifteen minutes to go on the program... Anyway, we cast our eyes on our work and saw that it was good. kudos to those who identify the quote...

And here is where the overly-energetic thing kicks in. As my aching back bears witness, we then went on to the adjoining garden (there's no fence between them and yes, we had permission), and weeded their garden. The child and I yanked out swathes of weeds, discovering an ancient flower bed, some coneflowers that had long since naturalized, and some kind of groundcover (stonecrop?) and could it be?? aged lilies of the valley, all buried under weeds. At some point I looked up to find three full bags of yard waste, and the child resting comfortably in the neighbor's recliner. Clearly, we were done for the day.

And now, yes, we rest. But all hail the hidden hero of this piece: my partner, who managed the babes, napping and walking him while the child and I committed feats of cultivational folly.

Tomorrow: Ben Gay for my back and we spend the neighbor's money on some few hardy perennials. I'm thinking some thyme and maybe something else perennial and somewhat drought-resistant. The other guy is an absentee owner, and never puts in any upkeep, so his plants must be pretty tough to survive. Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

reading matter

Today I swore off a much appreciated blog, Habeas Brulee. For those of you not trying to subsist on rice and corn, I recommend the blog as a haven for those who truly love food. Perhaps a bit too much, but who's measuring? Instead, allow me to tell you about what I have been reading:

With (sort of) the Partner:
at the recommendation of my therapist, Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution. My dear LB was shocked when she heard that the baby is sleeping in 30 minute to 3 hr chunks, and recommended immediate effort to aid the situation. And, she pointed out, to relieve some stress. Unable to argue, I agreed - but secretly wondered if the partner and I could stay awake long enough to actually have any effect. Still, it's an easy assessment: a tired Mama is a scary Mama...

With the Eldest:
Mr. Bear's New Baby, by Debi Gliori. It's a book made for the co-sleeping, pile into loving heaps kind of family that we are. It is also, alas, a library book - and I'm sternly resisting peeking at to see if I can buy it. This week, my bibliomania must take back seat to my desire to have overhead lighting some day. It's been a great book for a four year old, wondering if parents truly know everything - and what happens when the parents are at a loss?

Does God Have A Big Toe? by Marc Gellman. I especially liked the first story, about being a partner with God to "finish the world." And the second story, about Adam naming the animals struck a familiar chord.

Just For Me:
I'm wading through Neal Stephenson's The Confusion. And yes, I am a bit. I've enjoyed a lot of Stephenson, but I'm starting to feel like he's become caught up in his own gift for detail. It's really unfortunate, as the detail is now clogging up the plot. So, slow going, but lacking anything else interesting (no, Pantley doesn't quite qualify), onwards I go. Although I'm tempted to take a short detour to the now out of print wet-your-pants Sleeping Through the Night...and other lies, by Sandi Kahn Shelton. She speaketh to me.

Been peeking at other blogs, like the currently silent Rabot Machshavot, who temporarily is not so? Orthomom, on the other hand, had something rather gripping to report, while the Soferet combined chemistry and Judaism. At the beach, no less! Meanwhile, the RenReb is battling an overinvolvement with Harry Potter (I'd totally forgotten that #7 is coming!) and a fetish for extremely odd shoes, which I trust she won't actually wear. Melinda is burgeoning with plans to direct her child's neural growth away from Smashmouth (I assume) and towards the Dixie Chicks (yay!)....and as always, Jennifer Mattern makes me wish that I had written that.

So with all of this to read, perhaps that's why the book is unread and the baby not so happily sleeping?