Thursday, July 31, 2008

the morning after

This morning, the Eldest woke up.

I'm just going to clean you off, said the Man, and gently wiped up the last of the dried blood from the night before.
Whaa?? said the Eldest, thoroughly confused.

Eventually, we realized that the kid doesn't remember the nosebleed from last night. He slept through the mess, through us holding a good 25 minutes of pressure, through 8 ml of Amicar (the nasty nose/mouth bleed medication), through the sheets being changed, through me trying to get the blood off his gunked-up eyelashes - he complained about it at the time, but still didn't wake up enough to remember it in the morning.

Dang. You've got to respect sleep that determined. On the other hand, I consider how much he's sleeping (only a bit more than usual), the dark circles under his eyes and the paleness of his lips. Yep, we've got some anemia going here.

So? WTF is going on here?

Well, Rix, it's not a growth spurt - we weighed him last week. Nor is it allergies, and nor, Lois (and I'm saying this with utter faith, only some of it blind) is it inhibitors. If that were it, he'd be having more bruises and the nosebleeds would fail to stop, or rebleed more frequently. I'm nearly certain of that. Nor is it air conditioning, which can dry out the nose. Alas and alack, but we are mostly a ceiling fan house. Mostly.

Nope, it's just lousy engineering. The Eldest has inherited my family nose - both my mother and my father were chronic nosebleeders, and even the wondrously clotting Toddles gets little nosebleeds. I have one, reliably, every day. There's just a couple of largish blood vessels that are close to the surface, and the placement makes them vulnerable. So, nosebleeds. And I know this cycle well - if you have too many nosebleeds, too close together, the tissues are fragile. Anything will pop the surface, and off you go.

Like tonight, when the Eldest burst into tears and sprayed blood on the pillow. It doesn't take much to set the nose off, and given the nose, it doesn't take much to set the kid off, either. Although, I'll note that me holding vicious pressure on the nose did distract him from his wailing. Either that, or he was too busy adjusting to life as a mouth-breather to continue wailing over who got the fatter pillow.

(The Toddles, sensing an opportunity, wailed also - but lacked that crucial element of drama to get my attention. Still, when I left the room, I took the plumpest pillow with me. It's one of the minor pleasures of parenting, this being fairly unfair, all 'round.)

Nighttimes are a tough time to be a kid. But if we're lucky, he'll sleep through the 1 am dose of Amicar (a PH adjusting medication used for bleeding in mucous membranes, like noses and mouths). And that's pretty much what we've got in the arsenal right now: I called the Hemophilia Treatment Center (HTC) today, and discovered that - naturally - they are all away. Back on Monday, pleaded the second year hematology fellow. Can you wait until then?

I considered the matter. Sensing an opportunity to get off the hook, the heme fellow explained that Amicar is safe to use indefinitely, and nosebleeds just aren't life threatening. I recalled an ENT who would pop a vessel of his own, should he hear this, and drew breath to argue. But the fellow beat me to it, filling the air with suggestions. Try this? (we're doing that, I said) Try that? (doing that, too, I growled) And what about this, this and those? (yes, yes, and yes, I said, holding on to my temper)

Truth be told, nosebleeds really aren't life threatening, unless they fail to stop when you give pressure, apply clotting oomph and readjust the pH of the mucous membrane to suit the clot's longevity. In short, they're only life threatening if they don't stop. And we're not there yet, and as frustrating and messy as this all is, we truly may not get there. It's just soul-wearying to pull the same tricks out, over and over, to create less effective results. But it'll buy us time, to get us past the weekend and the absent coagulation team, and hopefully keep us out of the hands of the new interns in the ER. It is, after all, July.

So, we wait for Monday. But, I warned the hematology fellow, if the kid pulls another really nasty bleed, and the this, this, this, this and that don't do the trick, I'll be in the ER and making her hold pressure on the child. Or she can do my laundry. Either one will do, really.
Note: the photo with this post isn't from this week - note the pinkness of the lips. But, after the drama-mongering of last post's photo, I felt I owed the blog a cleaner shot. So.

so, not me then? him?!

in case you were wondering, it really is all about me. Me, me, me, me, me.

Except when I walk in to find the Eldest sleeping soundly in a puddle of his own blood. Blood caking his face, his tongue, pooling under his face. From his nose, apparently. Experienced hemo-mama that I am, the sight completely freaked me out. Who let the B movie horror flick into my bedroom? Sheesh. And holy mother of someone else's god - that was scary.

And yet still relatively small potatoes, if small potatoes with major irritation sauce. We've had three weeks of this now, with nosebleeds every day or two, sometimes once per day, sometimes twice. Some minor, some not so minor - none requiring a trip to the ER, mind you. Instead, we've kept our regular prophylactic schedule, dosing the kid with his clotting meds - and tossing in an extra medication designed just for bleeds in the mouth and nose.

Foul tasting stuff, that one, but I'd rather swallow it than the blood, he tells me. So, then.

Eventually, we noticed that the Eldest was bleeding primarily on the night before he got his clotting dose - when his capacity to clot was at it's lowest ebb. So, we shifted his schedule from every 48 hrs to every 36, just for a weekend. It helped a bit - but not enough. With the stepped up schedule, the Eldest did better, but he still needed the secondary medication. Stop that stuff, and back came the bleeding.

So, now what? We're stuck in a loop, depending on both medications. And tonight's bleed came while the Eldest's levels are high, leaving us suspicious. He should bleed less when he can clot more, unless the body just isn't getting enough of a chance to heal.

Now what?

I'll tell you one thing, though. Now? It's all him, him, him, him, him. And a bunch of laundry.

oh, child.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

a frozen pause in the doorway

Q: what's the best way to stop a thinking brain in its tracks?
A: offer it a new and enormous set of opportunities

I seem to be having this absurdly wonderful year. My editor tells me that they are ordering extra copies of the issue with my feature article, because the article's bound to irritate and educate. This alarms me slightly, but hey. There's a teensy bookish thing (nothing to do with the blog, never going to show up on amazon) that really seems to be happening (oh god oh god oh god) and there's a print deadline for the final copy (final? like, as in I can't change it once I hit 'send?' Cripes). And there's a tentative invitation to submit an essay for a collection - a yawn for the resume, but shriekingly new stuff for me.

Holy shit. Don't they know that I'm making it up as I go along? My editor listed me as a 'parenting expert' in something, and I nearly died laughing. Yeah, right. Then I got scared. I'm not fishing here - the label truly doesn't fit. What parenting expert yells at her kids like I do? I bet Ross Greene doesn't. But I digress: point being, I'm making it up as I go.

I comfort myself that I'm still small, small, baby potatoes in the world of publishing. Nobody really knows my name, I can write without the fear of someone pointing and laughing, it's okay. We're not talking fifteen minutes of fame here, we're talking friends and family and maybe three minutes, tops. One and a half, if they are related to me. That's okay. I can be okay with that. I can sit on my perfectionism long enough to be okay with that, long enough to stop trashing drafts and just hit 'send.'

But I seem to be inching past my margin of safety, and I had to shove myself forward to get this far. A column here, an article there - it was pulling mama-teeth to get them out, it was terrifying. Fear of failure? Ha. That's old hat. This is terror of failure, mixed with equal parts of terror of success. Because success, naturally, comes with the potential for even bigger falling on one's face. And yet, it's all so silly. You want a real problem? Real drama? It's not happening on my blog today.

Not that the perspective helps me any, mind you.

Happily, I now have writer's block. Drag that out another week or two, and it should handily slam a few of the open doors for me. Handy, that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

twitches and scabs

Well, the danged foot did get better, in the sense that it hurts like hell, but less. I refused to be routed by a panicky nurse (it's cellulitis! You need to go to the ER! Ahem.) and escorted the boys to the doc. One extremely calm conversation later, I was given Cipro for it, and a pharmacist issued some stern warnings about what the stuff can do to my reproductive system. Considering the half-laughing, half-honestly horrified conversation that I had with the doc (lovely person, newish mum) about sleep and small children, I giggled at the pharmacist.

Oh, that. Right, then.

Truth be told, that is somewhat of an issue. The Toddles hasn't been much of a reliable sleeper lately, and he has been clingy. Mostly, he's been an unreliable sleeper who wants to fall asleep with me, holding on to my shirt while he lies there. He's relaxed and warm and lovely *and* determined to hang on, and I'm never surprised to find that I've fallen asleep with him and laughing at pharmacists. Not great signs (for the Toddles, neveryoumind me), and when you combine it with the as-yet unidentified hives he's been getting lately, I'm now a tad twitchy. Did I mention? Ahem.

What's intriguing is that we all forgot: as a nearly-three year old, he's aware that something's a bit funny, too.

Me, uber-casually: hey, kid. Your face looks a bit funny.
Toddles, severely: no, it's not funny. It's scratched up!
(he wanders off, while rubbing his nose for emphasis. Aha.)

Some of this is, to be fair, part of the Toddles' growing fascination with his own body. This summer, he's been collecting some remarkable skinned knees, elbows and one somewhat shredded finger. And, given the effort with which we produce the Eldest's scabs, the Toddles' have also been of interest.

Toddles: don't touch that! It's broken. It's not fixing itself right.
I look at the scab, flaking off to show pink, new skin.
Me: oh, hon. Look! Some of the scab's getting pushed out of the way by the new skin. That's great!
Toddles, determinedly: NO! Don't touch it, don't look at it, and I don't want you to talk about it!
He's a thorough child, particularly when he's riled up about something. The new pink skin spots are a topic of much discussion - he'll bring them to me and ask about them. Are they okay? What is that brown bit, is it dirt? The questions are usually more curious than worried, and his attitude to the scabs/post-scabby bits is very territorial.

Mine, saith the Toddles. And where the hell is my bandaid?

Yessir, boss, saith I. And the Eldest, chronic wearer of funky bandaids, tries to hoist a humorous eyebrow. Oh, yes, the Toddles is aware now that we bigger types know something he doesn't, that we might worry over something that doesn't trouble him, like a shredded and bleeding finger. Watching QG and myself mopping up bloody handprints and making pressure bandages for his poor finger, the Toddles sat thoughtfully. The blood didn't trouble him, the cut didn't manage to inspire a yowl, and yet look at the fussing the adults are going through! Hm.

Cocking his head to one side, the kid looked me in the eye and let fly.


(wherein the Mama collects herself and remembers that the child is nearly three. Why, indeed.)

a woman with 1.7 working feet has no excuse, so dinner was on me tonight. I freely adapted this one from the 7/16/2008 Boston Globe food section. The result is both allergy friendly AND didn't require me to run out and pick herbs in the pouring rain. I'd tell you I had seconds, but the scale at the doc's today could have told you that, too. Whoops.

Watermelon, tomato and non-queso blanco salad

serves 6

1/3rd seedless watermelon, sans rind and cut into chunks
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion (or red onion/scallion equivalent)
3 Tb chopped fresh parsley
2-3 Tb chopped fresh mint
1/4 c lime juice
1 Tb olive oil
handful or so of kalamata or Greek olives
salt, pepper to taste
optional: going out into the rain to get a handful of cilantro, chopping and flinging it in . Be sure to stock up on towels, first, and then keep an eye on the anti-cilantro contingent, who may try and steal said towels.

Combine and marinate in the fridge for about an hour.

marinated protein
1 lb queso blanco (mild Mexican cheese) or tofu (plus sprinkle of salt and 2-3 Tb lime juice). You might also try feta.
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tsp chopped red onion/scallion
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1.5 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tb rice vinegar
2-3 Tb olive oil
salt, black pepper to taste

Combine and marinate in the fridge for about an hour.

Note: I served these with a side of lemongrass-mango rice, which is essentially cooked brown rice, plus some slightly sizzled garlic, peppercorns, sliced ginger. Warm together with a stalk of lemongrass (I peel and then slice mine into long, slim strips - the Man objects to not being able to find and remove microscopic scraps of lemongrass). Toss with sadly underripe mango and serve.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

a joke, a scrub and a meme

Eldest: hey, listen to this!
Toddles, mouth full, nods.
Eldest: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 9!
the Toddles laughs, spraying the table with (soy) milk.

In the kitchen, I scratch my head. Is this more sib-speak? Or is it bean-counting genes speak?
The Toddles is loving having his brother around this summer, and the Eldest is delighted, too, and I'm cautiously pleased if somewhat puzzled by the turns that their collective brains take. Still, I'm trying hard to be patient about the penis-fascination. Especially when it encourages the on-going potty training.

Having laughed until I ached over this, I've finally decided that letting the Eldest potty train (or at least potty educate) the Toddles is good for us. The boys have such fun comparing notes and technique (can you pee into the toilet from the stepping stool? I can reach from the edge of the bathtub!), while I happily eavesdrop. Besides, I never actually potty-trained the Eldest - it was all his idea, and he managed the job in about 48 hours. So.

Eventually, though, I realized that the Eldest had forgotten to teach the Toddles the fine art of handwashing after peeing. Being an absurd neatfreak, I started to shudder. I grabbed my (homemade vinegar, natch - brief pause for smug eco-savviness) cleanser and a rag, and started scrubbing. Then I lectured the Eldest and handed him a rag. Then, I collared the Toddles.

The Toddles looked at his soapy, bubbling hands and fell in love. Five minutes later, he informed me that I need to pee again. Hands deep in dinner prep, I looked at him with some disappointment. Don't you want to do this with your brother? I suggested. Nope. I want to pee. And WASH, he said emphatically. I sighed, and hobbled up the stairs after him.

Somehow, the Eldest is now the peeing potty person, and I am the soapy potty person. Curses, I thought ruefully, foiled again.

.....and a meme.

Tag Rules:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on the blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
  5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So, then.

  • I wanted to be a doctor, didn't want to be a doctor, ended up talking to too many doctors, wrote a letter of rec for a doctor who tried to take care of the Eldest (and then fled)
  • I had a cat - a rescue - who died in my arms
  • I once gave a B to a vice-president's daughter, but her dad didn't call and yell at me
  • In high school, I wore a uniform. And tie-dyed tights.
  • I own a violin with no strings
  • I use a mean foil.

And I'm tagging my hemo-home girl (who is thinking much too thoughtfully about insurance and legislation for this kind of frivolity, but hey), the currently quiet Zina (about whom I insist on worrying), the possibly vanished JG, purplemommy (good luck with the food challenge!), Abacaxi Mamao (who is opting out on the rats and races to indulge instead a fascinating brain), and magid.

And Julia, if you are reading this, I want to know: where is my borscht??? What else could you possibly be doing besides that? Bah.

Monday, July 21, 2008

getting older and moving on

First, an update: as per advice from a reader, I called FAAN. Yep, they can arrange for testing of the product that caused an allergic reaction, but you have to have some left. FAAN can't get more from that same batch from the company. Dang.

FAAN did offer lots of empathy (thanks, guys) and suggest that I report this to the FDA. I did, the FDA offered more empathy (um) and said not to call them, they wouldn't be calling me. And there it rests. The bigfamousallergydoc people in NY are stumped, and the local children's hospital allergy team (not so much slouches themselves) are at a loss. So, the kid nearly stopped breathing over what? dunno. Sigh. Time to get out the bubble and stick the kid in.

More: the farm that feared the child, is taking him. I have checked out some details (animal feed: contains "bakery products" and "miscellaneous protein sources" - according to Fast Food Nation and my own experience, these are probably either allergenic or just plain gross). We've got an Eldest-specific first aid kit worked out, and I've signed something that says that, if the camp's standard safety precautions are followed *and* the IHP is followed, I promise not to sue. My thanks to the legal brain who helped - another reader found that brain, married it (and the ancillary bits) and put it/him in my path.

I happily updated the IHP to include a bit on safe activities, and made sure that it really is as anal as I thought it was. As it happens, I expect fear and trembling from my IHPs - a good Individual Health Plan is something to make camp directors shudder and ER docs nod wisely - while heading to the phone to call the specialists.

So, then, camp!

For the farm folks who rather wanted the bubble until they saw the Eldest, scratched and filthy at the end of a first, delighted day, I offer this. It's as close as we're getting, guys.

It's a reminder, also, for the bit of me that rather wishes that I could find a bubble for the Toddles, too. No bubbles. No magical protections, no Fantastic Four-style super stretchy mama who can encase her endangered kids protectively. Nope. No way. No how.

But sometimes, it feels like it would be nice.


I stumbled across this grump over the AARP. Apparently, I'm not the only one to be sent a membership card and invitation to contact my senator about issues of interest to the elderly.

Hmm. Maybe the AARP has mistaken staying home with the kids for retirement? if so, I'm incredibly amused. And temped to take advantage of the low, low auto insurance rates and deals on motels. Not that I ever go to motels (or hotels, for that matter), but hey! if I did, I could get a deal.

At the moment, I feel far from retired, although I am doing a splendid witchy impression. With a swollen, infected foot, I'm hobbling around and hissing at my children for committing the standard crimes of childhood, up to and including ticking me off. All I need now is a really impressive mole on my nose, and I'll be all set.

When the Man came home yesterday, he muttered blackly about being overwhelmed by demands. Today, he refused to meet my eye in the morning as I lay, blankly trying to figure out how to manage a day with one good foot and two splendidly energetic boys. This evening, he walked in the door and took one look at me and - unexpectedly - sat down and listened. I wailed at him enthusiastically; not about the foot, the mole or the hissing, but about the menu. The boys and I had made this week's menu together, choosing recipes and balancing meals, we'd shopped and now all of that lovely produce was going to waste.

The Man, who is no happy cook - but a lovely, patient baker - made dinner. Using my menu. And the Eldest's chosen recipe. I admired the purpling-red, white and green of the salad, and then started stuffing it into my mouth. The textures crunched and melted in my mouth, while the flavors chirped at me, soothed and sparkled. At the head of the table, the Man licked his plate with pleasure. Ah.

Grilled Chicken and Plum Salad
serves 4-6

grilled chicken (I had about three boneless chicken breasts, plus a bit of boneless thigh)
6 plums, halved and pitted
2 star anise (whole)
1 stick of cinnamon
1/3rd c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 smashed and chopped clove of garlic
1 pinch chili powder
2-3 Tb vegetable oil
1 Tb lime juice
2 cups Thai basil (more peppery than the regular basil) and mint
3-4 spring onions, sliced
2 Tb roasted peanuts/sunflower seeds (this is a nice crunch - obviously, we used sunflower seeds, but the point is a nice bit of roasted crunchiness. You decide what works - I suspect lo mein noodles would do well, too.)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a covered baking dish (tinfoil on top of a pan works fine, too), combine plums, star anise, cinnamon, sugar and water. Roast for 25 minutes, then set aside to cool. Once the plums are cool, you can peel them.

Add garlic, chili powder, oil, lime juice, chicken, herbs, scallions and seeds/nuts. Toss, seasoning with salt and pepper. Eat, enjoying the mix of sweet plum and smoky grilled chicken, balanced by the sharpness of the herbs. Consider how best to drag out the sore foot gig for another meal like this.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

of bums and skulls

The Toddles has been a real handful lately. Bumful, too - but I'll get to that in a minute.

No, he's been three handfuls, with a spare Kali on the side. And yes, I mean the one with the skulls hanging from her belt. Give the kid another week or two on this phase, and one of those skulls will be my by-then permanently grumpy one. Yeesh.

Being the Toddles, however, he combines his reign of terror with some really snappy lines, and keeps me hovering between fury and hilarity. The Eldest, as occasional target of the Toddles' crimes, is less likely to be amused. The afternoon in which the boys were playing pirate, hiding in the cave (the table) and keeping an eye out for enemies, the Toddles took his look-out flashlight and whacked the Eldest on the noggin. The Eldest roared, and I pelted in to see what was going on.

Eldest: My head - he hit my head - owwwwwarrrrgh!
(I applied an icepack and a hug, whereupon he subsided and settled in to watch the Toddles' sentencing.)
Mama, sternly: You hit your brother on the head.
Toddles, cheerfully: Yep. I hit him with my flashlight!
Mama, raising a fearsome maternal eyebrow to quell the Eldest, who was trying to offer specifics on the flashlight: Well, then. We don't hit people - do you see that your brother is hurt? You need to tell him you are sorry, and to make this right.
The Toddles considered the eyebrow, noted his brother's ire and realized that he needed to tread carefully.
Toddles, thoughtfully: But I'm 'lergic to sorry.

I had to escape into the kitchen for a good laugh. The Eldest was offended all over again and the Toddles escaped, having successfully distracted me for long enough for a punishment to be useless.
When they aren't whacking each other, the boys get along splendidly. And the Eldest is continuing his determined efforts to potty-train the Toddles. The Toddles, very fond of his watershooter, is happy to oblige. Eventually, however, I explained to the Eldest that if he was going to take his brother's g-diaper off, then he'd might as well learn how to put one on. The Eldest agreed, and I showed him how. The Toddles watched this lesson with interest, and visibly took mental notes.

Eldest: why did you take your diaper off? (pause to gather the right note of indignation - the Eldest had, after all, put this particular g-dipe on) Why would you do that?
Toddles, noting the steam coming out of his brother's ears: Ummmm. To get to the other side?
The Eldest, noting a good line when he heard one, laughed. Meanwhile, the Toddles and his bare bum made a happy escape.

After this, the Eldest made a concerted effort to teach the Toddles the art of using a toilet, and with mixed success. (Me laughing in the corner probably wasn't helping.) Typically, the Eldest would help the Toddles take off his pants and bum-covering of the moment, and then arrange the stepping stool such that the little guy could climb onto the toilet seat. We'd then hear a rendition or two of 'Point Yer Penis Down, Mate' (based on this) drifting out from the bathroom.

Eventually, the Eldest would wander off, distracted. But the Toddles would stay focussed for a while later, once carefully climbing down, then realizing his bladder was making demands - and carefully peeing into the bathtub. And onwards we go, eh? In a rather Skinnerian fashion, but still.

Tonight, the boys managed a complete pee-in-toilet episode. The Man rejoiced, but the mama - well, what do you think?

Hmmm. On an equally thoughtful if revolting note, there's this bit of intruiging research on food allergy. And worms.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

ripples underfoot

I opened the door to our apartment today, and paused to check for floor under my feet. Yep, still there. And yet, today I found myself feeling uncertain, and looking at my world and seeing it unexpectedly altered.

I took the Eldest to his camp this morning, and watched him trot off. 'Bye, hon, I said, and he grinned at me before vanishing. See you later, I said to the grand duchess. You know how to reach me if something happens. She looked up, briefly startled. I smiled. But nothing will, I said, and vanished myself.

Walking out with me, another mother - a friend - sighed. You're so brave, she said. How can you be so calm? I blinked. Was I missing something? Was there a reason not to be calm? A bit worried, I walked to my car, rummaging through my various views of the camp and personnel, trying to find something to worry about.

I drove off, papers and photos in hand, ready to do my Eldest 101 presentation to the next summer program that we'd chosen, a local organic farm. I'd had a wonderful talk and emails with the director, and happily anticipated that the Eldest would spend hours there digging and learning, and come home caked with filth. Perfection. All we had to do was to sort out the various safety measures: educating the staff, setting up the various medical whatnots, and working out a plan of action, in case of emergency.

I drove up, admired the plants for sale, and found the director. Okay, folks, he called. It's time for The Meeting! He gathered up a sheaf of paper and waved me to a conference room. Having caught the capital letters, I was turning them over in my head. That's odd, I thought, and watched the stiff body language of the people coming into the room. Oh, dear.

I pulled out photos of the Eldest, trying to break the ice by showing them the child behind the diagnoses, but I just can't look at those, said the director, thumbing through the Eldest's medical documents. Realizing that the diagnoses were looming larger than the child himself, I tidied the photos away, and settled into my chair. Okay, I said. What shall we talk about?

I spent the next couple of hours listening to their concerns, noting the legal language that silently admitted to the depth of their anxieties, and trying to look as sensible and calm as possible. Kids get scraped up here, they told me earnestly. They get poison ivy and ticks and cut themselves, they begged. I nodded calmly and waited for the punch line. Finally, I'm just not sure he'll be safe, the director told me. If he were my kid, I wouldn't send him here, he said, tapping the Eldest's IHP (Individual Health Plan). Ah.

I'd heard that line before, from the Eldest's preschool when I asked about the possibility of enrolling the Toddles. I believed it then, but this was different. I started talking. I explained about prophylaxis, and how it provides a preventative cushion. I explained that boys being boys, and how we couldn't and wouldn't stop the Eldest from being normal. Instead, I said, we work within a framework of safety: acceptable risks plus medical backup, plus emergency plans (rarely used). And I promised them, over and over, that scrapes would be just fine. Every kid gets scraped up, even mine.

The director looked thoughtful, and the assistant director looked pragmatic. Okay, she said, so the allergies aren't so different from any other child with allergies. There's more of them, but it's the same procedure. And the bleeding means that we carry an icepack for him and call you if he gets hurt. Essentially, she had it. I passed her a handout describing minor, moderate and major bleeds, and showed her the different responses for each. She nodded, and we all looked at the brooding camp director. I can sign a waiver, if you like, I offered. Saying that if you follow normal safety protocols plus follow the IHP, I won't hold you liable. I watched his shoulders relax. Okay, he said slowly. C'mon. I'll take you on a tour of the farm. And off we went.

Over the course of the walk, I was shown exposed sticks and unsanded plywood, and promised that I was untroubled by them. he could scrape himself, I was warned. And so he might! But it won't hurt him - a scratch isn't going to do much damage, I laughed. And if it does, he'll tell you. The director looked over at me, thinking hard. I grinned. I know, I admitted, the kid is six and I'm telling you to trust him. But he knows his body better than we do...and so the walk went. All in all, the farm was beautiful: lush green stuff growing in tidy strips, a pond rich with water lilies, laughing field crews and well cared-for machinery. I liked what I saw, and I found myself liking the director. His fears were, I thought, pretty healthy. All we had to do now was see if he could settle down.

I worked to balance smiles with pragmatism and honesty during that walk, and finally looked the director in the eye. I wouldn't choose to send my child into something that I thought was too dangerous for him, I said. The director thought this over. I can see that you want him to be normal, he said. I respect that. And I think I believe you.

So. I drove home, feeling like I'd seen my life from a different angle, suddenly presented from a perspective about three feet from where I sit. Is the ground under my feet? I think so. But then again, I suppose that I'm never wholly settled. Tonight, in the tub, the Eldest complained when I washed his hair. My head hurts, he said, pointing to the spot where he'd whacked his skull. Oh, I said, and felt a ripple under my toes.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

gentlemen, start your gorillas

Meet Gus.

Courtesy of a guy named Steve (and a friendly anasthesiologist), Gus arrived today at the Man's place to work, where the Man was deep in quarterly work hell. Can we postpone our anniversary? he'd asked me. I'll have that quarterly thing, and oh, but I'll try not to work over the weekends this time. Too much. I made supportive spouse noises - and promptly called Gus.
Sinking deep into his chair, gorilla here: you are in trouble, the Man wrote. Gus hunted him down, sang enthusiastically, quizzed him on baseball trivia, made suggestions for the presidential elections, and proudced a fistful of balloons. One badly hummed Benny Goodman song later, I've got it on video! the Man wrote. And came home grinning.

Happy manyth anniversary, hon.
While the Man digs himself deeper into his computer, I am digging myself out. Tomorrow, I hope to discharge my latest project, just in time to figure out how to tackle the next. That just might be our anniversary present to ourselves. Several rather impressive anniversary gifts ago (there was something with dachsunds, but I really couldn't go into details), we decided to do a joint gift. We choose something that would benefit the family or the home, and use the planning as a chance to talk about our hopes and concerns for the home.

This year is the year that we refuse to be overwhelmed, and our anniversary present to ourselves is to toss out lots of the junk that's accumulated in the basement. The basement happens to be a pretty popular place at the moment, as our downstairs neighbors pack up in preparation for their first child and first home. Yep, they bought a place and are filling their chunk of basement, prior to moving out. If we reduce and they fill, it's a balance I might be able to live with. And put these plans all together, and you have a bustling basement.

Know anyone who wants a 1 bedroom in my neighborhood? Preferably someone who finds the thumping of small feet to be a soothing, pleasant sound?

Today, the neighbors were moving boxes in and out of the basement when our doorbell rang. The Eldest zipped down the stairs, through our apartment door and plunged straight down, into the depths of the basement. Yep, down.

To afford real basements in our neighborhood, there has to be a catch. Ours is that the basement access is through a hatch that opens in the middle of our shared hallway. So, if you open your apartment door and charge through, yep, there could suddenly be no floor under your feet. Cue Wile E. Coyote, and charge up the maternal stomach acid.

Down drops the Eldest, and I watch his head bang on the edge of the trapdoor. The very pregnant neighbor grabs his shirt, but he's going down - and then he's coming up. Underneath, a friend had caught the Eldest's feet. Between the three of us, we hauled him back over the edge and looked see the horrified face of the guy delivering the kid's clotting meds.

Oh, good. We're going to need that, I said. And dissolved into slightly hysterical giggles. The Eldest looked at us all, scornfully. But it's my JOB to scare people, he said, and marched proudly back up the stairs. Thus enlightened, we adults stared at each other and went off to shake quietly in our respective corners.

After the various bits of excitement in the day, dinner was celebratory if somewhat subdued (the celebration really started after the kids finished eating, when the Man turned up with an armful of fascinating balloons). We had a variant on this meal, with a block of tofu sizzled in the pan with the kasundi spices, and small sprigs (and slices of tree trunk) tossed into the sauce perhaps 2 minutes before I turned off the heat.

The kids ate it with delight, and had seconds. Except when they had thirds. But who could blame them? There was red, there was green, white and...fried potato. And it was just simple enough for my poor adrenaline-drenched brain to handle.

straight - down. He went straight. down. Good grief.