Sunday, September 30, 2007

Love Letter to a Cowboy

(Variation on a theme by Black Belt Mama.)

Dear Patrick Crayton,

When you next decide to participate in a football game, please let me know. You see, you are on my fantasy football team, where you're riding the bench because, in the first three weeks of the season, you have so far earned 2, 0, and 5 fantasy points respectively.

This week you apparently decided to, I don't know, tighten your shoelaces, straighten out your helmet, or wear your lucky socks, and you earned 37 fantasy points. Thirty-seven points that are sitting on my bench tonight because I didn't play you this week, because you haven't scored in double digits in the past three weeks. In fact, those 37 points probably would have pushed me over the top for a win this week. Instead, I'm probably going down in flames without them.

So, again--and your coaches might appreciate this too--next time you decide to not only suit up and take the field, but also to participate in the game, how about a heads up?


P.S. As a 49ers fan who bleeds red and gold, I can barely stomach having a Cowboy on my team anyway, so I'm sure that you'll understand when your next single-digit performance sends you onto the waiver list.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Open Letter to the Clintons About the Kinky Stuff

I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: What goes on between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own home is their own business. I don't need to know about it.

In fact, I usually don't want to know about it. (And I certainly don't want to pay for a Congressional hearing about it.) I thought that Bill's messages about dropping in for a date that's just Bill, me, a TV, and a bowl of chips were a bit forward, but I just didn't reply.

Not that your man isn't all that and a bag of chips, Hillary. In fact, he looks like he's all that, a pork chop, and a coupla' bags of chips. But, in case you're new to the tubes we call the innernets, my two non-replies is the brush off.

There's no need for you to escalate to the kinky stuff:

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Facelift: "I am not a pretty girl

. . . and I am sorry
I am not a maiden fair
and I am not a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere

and generally my generation
wouldn't be caught dead working for the man
and generally I agree with them
trouble is you gotta have youself an alternate plan"
--Ani DiFranco

I may not be a pretty girl, and I'll never be the housewife that MetroDad is, but I am well on my way to mommyhood. How do I know? Because BlogHer has included me in their ad network.

OK, so they're practically letting anybody in these days, but still, they love me, they really love me. Or at least they think they can make a buck off of me. And I'm all for that.

I love their goal of supporting women writers, particularly the part about economically empowering them using 50 percent of the revenue the ads on my blog may raise. I'm not sure how much empowerment they're going to feel from the 63 cents my ads generate every month--what can I say? you're loyal readers, but there still are only six of you--but I'm more than willing to do whatever I can to help. Besides, we all know there will never be a BlogHim.

Helping BlogHer makes me feel much better than the 11 cents I made from those Google ads, which I started as an experiment because there's been some talk of using them at work. The Google ads failed to generate in several months what the BlogHer ads have generated in a few weeks, and the Google ads supported these guys, who I don't feel are in need of any more economic empowerment.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know why those ads are running over there on the right. Rather than starting 3B's college fund, they'll probably raise enough money to pay for half a gallon of gas by the time 3B goes to college. But the proceeds that BlogHer collects from my blog and all the other blogs they have in their network should raise a fair amount of money, and I'm all about doing a little bit to make a big difference.

That's also what pushed me to finally go to a three column layout (the ads are so long vertically that they pushed fun stuff too far down the page, so I moved it over to the left), and why I had to create a new set of header banners (three columns are wider than two, and rather than just widen it, I thought that I'd freshen it up a little).

And yes, there are three headline banners that rotate through randomly, changing every time you refresh the page. I figure that's a good start. You'll have to keep your eyes open to see when I add more. Full disclosure: the best one--"Come to Papa."--was all Mama's idea. Of course.

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Lettin' it all hang out

This morning, after dropping off Mama at the metro for her weekly day in DC, going in to the offices of the places she's consulting for, I pulled away and turned the iPod up a little to distract 3B, who's never pleased to see her go.

Although I try to engage him a little bit, reaching back and playing little piggies with his toes, I try to stay as focused as possible, so I'm not that guy on the road. So, when we got to a red light just as a song was ending, I was looking in the mirror to check on him when the next song came on.

His grin opened up from ear to ear and he started shaking his head back and forth and softly giggling as the opening bass line of Brick House kicked out.

Now we know that we did at least one thing right.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sleeping with one eye open

This afternoon, I got the e-mail below from Denise, one of the authors of Baby Bargains, clarifying the record on the now-recalled Simplicity 3-in-1 crib that we bought based on the recommendation in BB, as I mentioned in my recent post. I also include my reply to her, to clarify what I was saying.

It's a good lesson for all of us in vigilance. As authors, they have to constantly check back on products they've already recommended to ensure that they are still up to snuff and then find a way to update their readers, which is hard to do when their recommendations are committed to print. As parents, we need to constantly check back on our sources and cross-check them against other sources to ensure that they're all on target and up-to-date.

As I told Denise, we still consider Baby Bargains the single best reference for parents and parents-to-be, but we also check it against other sources, including DaddyTypes and other parent blogs, as we assume parents everywhere do to ensure accuracy, timeliness, applicability, and other factors in our decisions.

Of course, we're also checking around for good bargains, since we're such cheapskates.

Hi there: We read your blog and noticed you said that we recommended a
Simplicity crib in our book, BABY BARGAINS.

Just for the record, we do NOT recommend any Simplicity cribs in the current
(7th) edition of BABY BARGAINS---we gave the brand a "D" rating and
specifically did NOT recommend their cribs. This book came out in April this
year, long before the recall that happened last week.

It is true that we did recommend Simplicity's cribs in a previous edition of
our book---the 6th edition that came out in 2005. But that was before the
first safety recall.

We're glad to hear you caught the defective side rail with your crib and had
it fixed (replaced).

Thanks for reading our book, BABY BARGAINS!
Alan & Denise Fields, authors

Is it OK with you if I post this as an update to my post in which I say that you recommend Simplicity cribs? [For the record, she said that it is OK.]

When we were pregnant (2005-06), we were using the 6th edition, which we found very helpful. I don't want readers to think that they can't trust BB, which is pretty much the bible of baby shopping. I just wanted my six loyal readers to know that we didn't just cheap out; we were basing our decision on something other than dollars.

However, I didn't mean to and I don't want to impugn the reputation of BB, since it's a valuable resource, and I want to ensure that other parents view it as such. I would hope that posting this message from you would allay any incorrect concerns readers might have had about BB after reading my post.

Thanks for your note, thanks for reading, and thanks for such a great resource.


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You wore a little blue dress, the Germans wore gray . . .

. . . I was smoking holding a cigar. Ah, we'll always have Paris the Oval Office.

Whose house is this going to be at? Are you bringing the chips, or am I? You say looking forward to smoking a cigar?

OK, hold it right there.

Seriously, Bill--can I call you Bill?--if you don't stop inviting yourself over, I'm going to have to get a restraining order.

And don't you recall the last time you got all friendly-like with the help? How'd that work out for you? You think this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship? You think that the problems of three little people won't amount to a hill of beans?

I don't care what you think. Take your TV and your chips and your cigar somewhere else. Besides, that little blue dress isn't even my size, and that beret is just silly.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Entropy Blizzard

I would ride 100 miles just to be the man who fell down at your door
Knowing that we're going to be tired after we ride our century, we're going to spend a week on Grammy's farm in Vermont to recover and visit. Yesterday, we rode our last long training ride--56 miles from Reston to Purcellville on the W&OD trail, which was lovely and easier than either of us thought. Today, however, we're both tired. I'm thinking that if we're twice as tired after 100 miles as we are after yesterday's ride, when we're in Vermont, we might not wake up until it's time to come back home. Or until Grammy bakes some cookies.

Simplicity doesn't have to mean cheapness
But when it comes to cribs, Simplicity does mean cheapness. We got the Simplicity 3-in-1 because it was cheap (affordable . . . whatever, insert your euphemism here) and Baby Bargains recommended it [see update below]. Sure, I've had my differences of opinion with the crib since I first attempted to make sense of it, but it's generally functioned properly until recently, when I noticed that some of the hardware was coming loose. I tightened it up, only to check it the next day and find it loose again. I nursed it along for as long as possible before Mama called in for help. To their credit, and our surprise, Simplicity immediately sent out a new crib end to replace the one with the stripped out hardware (a stripped nut and an embedded nut that pulled out of the hole it was plugged into, causing the drop-side hardware to disconnect). Turns out they knew something that we didn't, which just became public. We learned of it first through DaddyTypes, of course, but now it's all over the place. I've always considered attention to detail and persistence minor, and often annoying, talents of mine and didn't think much of all of this until tonight over dinner when Mama said, "You may have saved 3B's life." Well, that made me stop chewing and say thanks to whoever or whatever is responsible for my nature.

The "B" on our helmets stands for "Boo Ya!"
I should know better than to jinx myself, but unless Drew Brees chalks up -13 fantasy football points tonight, I'll have my first FF win this week over our 0-3 league manager, Black Belt Mama. And I'm doing it with one hand practically tied behind my back. We were so busy at the Bradstein Household getting ready for our ride this Sunday that I didn't have time to adjust my lineup and put in Favre for Brees, so I left 34 points on the bench, and I'm still kicking BBM's ass. I know, I know . . . pride, fall, and all that, but man, it feels good to actually be able to talk a little smack rather than get smacked around for a change. Besides, there's nobody more fun to be around than a sore winner, right?

UPDATE: Please read the clarification from Denise, coauthor of Baby Bargains, about their stance on Simplicity cribs that I posted.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

You're roughly 14 months old now

Dearest 3B,

Your eyes seem to have completed a long transition from blue at birth to green or hazel to what is now a light brown, most of the time. There are still, however, times when the sunlight catches your eye, and they illuminate from within, like opals, becoming a beautiful jade color. I love looking for that moment and just looking into your eyes to see what it is that you're thinking.

As for you, you love to eat, love to walk, love your Mama, love your Dada, and your dog. You love getting into the fridge and the freezer and, on the rare occasions that we allow it, spelunking into the washing machine. You love the toaster, which you call "Pop!" because that's what we say when one of your favorite foods, sourdough waffles, pop up at mealtime. In addition to waffles, you love toast, and you call both of them "Pop!" Perhaps it's time for us to work on broadening that vocabulary, but I agree that it's a pretty fun word.

You understand that people come and go in and out of doors. We can't wait until you figure out how to open them yourself. Just kidding, of course. We can wait.

You're now napping once a day, although you keep us guessing whether you want to go down at 10:30 or 1:30. You also still sleep about 11-12 hours a night, from 7 or 7:30 to 6:30 or 7. Before you go to bed, you love your bath, book and bottle. Oh yeah, you also have totally weaned yourself as of last week, so your bottles are all whole milk--whole cow's milk, that is. Mama was wondering about weaning you when you became less interested in nursing, allowing her to just follow your lead in weaning you.

Before bottle comes book, which often delays bedtime, since you love, love, love, to read. Ms. K has mentioned what we've noticed, which is that books are your favorite toys. Favorites among the books change weekly, but right now your hot picks are Molly Wants More!, which was a gift, and your Hanukkah! book, which also was a gift. If we were picking, we'd probably add a Buddhist book to the mix, but we've been spending your library fund on expanding your Boynton collection. What's Wrong Little Pookie? has gotten all of us through many a car ride, long or short. Plus, we enjoy the irony of your two favorite books being Christianity and Judaism based. A recent competitor to both is a blast from your past, your sushi book, which still makes you laugh with delight when you see it. Maybe that's because it's about food--you're pretty happy about Hola Jalapeno too.

And before books comes bath, which you love so much that we often have to pry you out to get you to bed on time. You love just hanging out in there, as well as playing with your toys: squirt bottle, nesting cups, foam letters and numbers to stick to the walls, shape-sorting alligator, and anything else that you can gnaw on. The only thing that you aren't too keen on is the shampooing and scrubbing. You'd rather just walk around and play, perhaps because you eat dinner just before your bath and eating always puts you in a good mood.

Going to the playground and playing with other kids also puts you in a good mood, as does going outside, looking at and feeling the bark on trees ("rees" as you called them last week), playing patty cake, and singing Itsy Bitsy Spider (IBS).

Rather, listening to us sing IBS.

Any time you see a spider (or ladybug, beetle, or other insect--I'm still working with you on the difference between insects and arachnids . . .) in a book or anywhere else, you flip us the gang sign for IBS: flip-flopping your hand or hands above your forehead, at which time we have to immediately begin singing IBS. You do this so often that Mama refers to you as the IBS dictator. But you love it, so we always comply. Also we don't want to risk your newfound wrath, whch is sometimes cute, like when you screw up your cute little mug into a stormy scowl, or painful, like when you try to pinch and yank off body parts like eyes, noses, chins, or when you get frustrated in the Ergo and bit our backs. Fortunately, you are pretty laid back so that doesn't happen too often. Most of what we see is smiles, cuddles, and love. And that's what we hope you're feeling from us, because we love you more than anything, little tiger.

Soon enough, we should be able to hear from you what you're feeling, since you're attempting new words and sounds all the time. Your comprehension grows every day, as you connect more objects to the sounds we make when we point at them. In addition, you've recently added "baby" to "mama" and "dada" as a word that you'll say with fair regularity and good clarity, but only if you're in the mood. You do toss out the one-hit wonders, like last night when you flipped several pages back through the book we were reading to point at the duck I'd asked you about a few minutes before and say "duck." To be honest, that vowel was a little vague, but now that I look at the picture again, that bird does somewhat resemble Nixon. Mama can tell me almost every day a new word that you've clearly said while pointing at the object that it corresponds to. But we'll be damned if we can get you to repeat it. I think that your first full sentence may be, "I'm not a trained monkey or a bear on a bicycle in the circus; if you want to hear that word, you say it."

You also make fun gestures now, like pressing your open hand in the air for "Stop, dogs! Stop!" or wagging a finger for "'Mumps!' said the doctor." or even slapping our hands to give us five, play patty cake, or get ready for a barnyard dance, for which you will also stomp your feet. I love watching your expressions of curiosity and excitement as you discover each of these connections, and as you learn to repeat them. I love holding you in my lap as you curl up in the crook of my arm, sucking your thumb, holding your hand out to open the cover of a book that you just carried across the room to me. I love watching you toddle across the lawn to explore a tree, a bush, or just the dirt under the leaves of grass.

I love you with all of my heart, tiger, and I can't wait to see what we discover in the rest of our months together.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who Are You?

UPDATE: Why does Blogger insist on renaming my posts, even after I save them? Let's see if the title sticks this time.

I'm never really sure who I am, but if you see this guy in Springfield, that's me:

And if you see this guy, that's 3B--OK, he's not walking so well now, but he's getting close. And no, I couldn't select footie pajamas as an outfit. Bummer.

(Dude, make your own avatar at the Simpsons movie site and let us all see what you look like.)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Two Slices of Humble Pie, a la mode

Since flying off my bike at 18 mph and sliding across the concrete of the George Washington Parkway yesterday, I've been pretty hungry. I guess that growing new skin and realigning joints is calorie-burning work. And what better to feed that hunger and rebuild myself than some pie? And what tastier, more filling pie is there than humble pie?

Here at the Bradstein Household, we like our humble pie served the same as any other pie--nice big slices with a scoop of ice cream on the side. Because I'm in a generous mood, I thought that I'd share these two slices with you.

Slice 1: It's All Right Ma, I'm Only Bleeding
I recently took drivers to task for some of the stupid things they do, and while karma wasn't instant this time, it was pretty thorough. I'm loath to withdraw any of my earlier criticisms because they're all still true--if you don't believe me, ask my brother--but let me add this note:

To all the drivers who stopped after seeing my crash on the GW Parkway just north of Mount Vernon yesterday to see if I was OK, especially the man who got out of his car and came over to check on me: thank you.

In answer to your questions:
  • I'm OK. I've got a hitch in my giddyap and one hip that's definitely one or two sizes larger than the other, I'm missing the skin on the inside of one elbow--how the hell does that happen?, and I've got some scrapes on my hands--but you should see my gloves, shredded tights, a shredded jersey front, and a bruised ego, but that's it.
  • I don't believe that it was caused by my riding over the unbelievably dangerous sewer grate that I had just passed--one of scores on the GW Parkway--but by my wheel hitting the slot between the grate and the concrete at about 18 mph.
  • Yes, I had a phone, but no, I didn't need to call anyone. My bike was fine and I was happier riding home so my hip didn't stiffen up. Besides, it let me blow off some of my anger for not swinging wider around that grate. It was a stupid mistake. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. And I got lucky when I made it. What if a car had been right behind me? Why didn't I remember that I have a wife and a son and a dog to come home to and swing wider?
A few questions for you:
  • Did I really slide on my belly? The shredded front of my jersey and tights indicate that I did, but I really don't recall that part of the ride.
  • Did you ever think I was going to regain control of the bike? I did, right up until the wheels lost all traction and I started a Raggedy Andy luge run down the road. Without the sled part. On concrete.
  • Did your heart restart after watching that? I certainly hope so. While I'm sure that it looked spectacular from your perspective, it wasn't so bad from mine, just stupid. The whole time I was going down and sliding I was cursing myself for being so stupid.

Slice 2: Mea Flippin' Culpa
To Arabella Santiago, who I slammed awhile ago for spamming me: mea culpa. Arabella explained herself in a comment on that post and in an apology that she sent directly to me. Although I'm still not keen on getting spammed, the difference here is in Arabella's reaction.

I admire her humility in admitting her mistake, and I understand her embarrassment at the mistake being made public--even if hers didn't leave her sprawled across a lane of the GW Parkway in shredded lycra.

I also understand that, as someone who makes her living online, it's got to be irksome to have a simple mistake follow her in the form of a blog post that comes up in results lists for searches on her name. We all make mistakes; we don't all need to be crucified for each one of them.

In fact, Mama asked me why I wrote that post. Didn't I think Arabella Santiago was a real person? Honestly, I get enough spam with misleading links, company names, and personal information that I presumed that the name was false personalization. As a result, I didn't believe that I was addressing a person until I got Arabella's e-mail. I meant my post as a shout back at spammers, not an attack on a person.

I was particularly sad to hear from Arabella that she recently had to take down her personal blog. As someone who enjoys blogging, I certainly hope that my post had nothing to do with that. I certainly don't want to forget that there is a person behind the computer screen, as she correctly says happens too often. I have always appreciate the personal support of you, my six loyal readers, and I hope that Arabella will be able to feel the same support and compassion in her future online endeavors that I have here.

At the same time, there are people out there who I do hope stop sending out their personal missives and who I believe couldn't redeem themselves with an apology. People like Ruben Campoy.

Uh oh. Did I just order up another slice of humble pie? Oh, I can't right now--I'm too full.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Isn't that cute? 45 new photos of 3B.

Plus all the old ones . . .

Friday, September 14, 2007

One if by land, two if by sea

Despite the instructions from my big sister that I should do what the sign says, when I was out on my training ride, I couldn't follow the posted instructions at this crosswalk because there were no flags in the containers below the sign.

Fortunately, I carry a signaling device of my own around. A few warning rounds down the road from that bad boy seemed to part traffic enough for me to cross.

This does bring up a valid safety point, however. Should I also be carrying my flare gun, which I usually reserve for real bike rides--I'm not talkin' 'bout pleasure boatin' or day sailin'. I'm talkin' 'bout workin' for a livin'. I'm talkin' 'bout sharkin'!--for situations like this? Remember, I'm on my bike, so weight is a bit of a concern. Perhaps they make a carbon fiber flare gun?

[Bonus points: Name the building in the background.]

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stretching Bones

Almost a year ago today, I was writing about my upcoming high school reunion. And then, all of a sudden, I didn't care about my reunion. For a long moment, I wasn't sure if I cared about anything. But, almost immediately, it started coming back to me: Mama. 3B. My brothers and sisters. My two best friends. The King. Even Barky, although his recent interpretive dance entitled Feast of the Stolen Zwieback While Imprisoned in the Family Car, with the sequel entitled Digging Crumbs Out of Every Damn Crevice in the Family Car has me rethinking how much I care for him.

But seriously, without all the beautiful people who I'm fortunate to know, I never would have made it through the manic months, following Mom's death. At times, I need them all now just to get out of bed, to walk forward, to help me find the edge of this sadness that I sometimes feel creeping over me, entangling me, smothering me. This last weekend, my family all got together at home for a sense of closure, to come back together a year later, and to move the piano out to my sister's house, so my niece can play it.

After much deliberation, I decided not to go. It is a decision that still makes my bones ache with the feeling of being pulled apart from the ends, but it was the right decision.

While they were there, I talked with Sister #1 briefly, before she, Sister #2, and Brother #2 headed into San Francisco to roam where Mom did on her final day in her beloved City by the Bay. I suggested that they head to what Mom called "the BV" for an Irish Coffee or three, since they were going to be down that way, and because Mama and I have fond memories of Mom getting us all lit up at the BV on Irish Coffee. That was the second time that happened--the first being on a tour of the Anchor Steam brewery, which the three of us thought would work out better if we went before lunch.

Did I mention the free tasting at the end of the Anchor Steam tour? (Do you really think we went to see the Laverne & Shirley conveyor belts?) Yeah, so after Mom had walked into the brewery owner's office with her half-full glass in hand, introduced herself and settled in for a chat about one of our neighbors who she thought he might know, Mama looked at me and said, "I think I'm getting pretty buzzed." By the time we left, Mom and Fritz were best of friends after having determined five minutes into their half-hour chat that it was Fritz's father who would have known our neighbor, who invented a few handy things for him. And Mama, Papa, and Mom were all at least a coupla' sheets to the wind. A splendid time was had by all, which was followed up by a fantastic evening visit--as always--to see Funk Daddie, one of my two best friends, in Berkeley.

After those memories flashed through my brain as I continued talking to my sister, I remembered what Mom said after Dad died, following a year-long battle with a brain tumor. She said that in the short term, we would likely remember all of the painful and ugly parts of the end of Dad's life, but that over time those would fade and be replaced by the overwhelming volume of the rest of our memories of him. Then, I could do no more than hold on and hope that Mom was right--and she was right, as she almost always was. Now, with her words and my own experience, I see that, mercifully, the same process is happening now, although now what's fading isn't the memory of Mom's suffering--as far as we know, there was none--but of the shock and agony of losing her so unexpectedly.

That's not to say that there aren't hard moments. Although I made light of the state of it, as I did to Mom whenever we talked about it, my baby book is something that I've avoided, consciously and subconsciously, for the past year. And with good reason; going through what are really trivial scraps of paper was a grueling evening of crying so hard that my throat clenched shut and I had to gasp for air. It wasn't always the content of the notes, more often it was just seeing what she had saved--the pamphlets, the brochures, the wristbands, and so on--and how similar it was to what we saved after 3B was born. It made me feel as though, knowing how much I love 3B, and seeing how similar Mom's behavior was toward me, I might now understand a little bit about the depth of her love in a way that I couldn't before. And that made me wish I could tell her that.

Of course, there are a lot of things that I wish I could tell her. I wish she could see all of 3B's movies, although I'm glad she got to at least see how happy he is to wake up every day, a joy that he still possesses and that still infects me. Mom would have been glad to know that, having always believed that I was too sensitive, too prone to suffer slights and sadness. She was, of course, right about my sensitivity, but I would have loved to have used 3B as a starting point to explain to Mom how I agreed with her about my nature, how her observation long ago made me think about how I engage the world, and how I've steadily worked to make my sensitivity a strength rather than a burden.

Then again, she probably already knew all of that.

In addition to the things I wish I could tell her, there are things I wish that I could hear from her, things that can only come from Mom. One thing I did hear from Mom was back when Dad died. She told all of us kids that we'd likely have some regrets about how one event or another transpired through Dad's struggles with cancer and treatments, and she told us to remember that we had made the best possible decisions we could at the time with the information we had, given the situation. So yes, there were times when we got frustrated with Dad or times when we took some time for ourselves or, like me, lay down for a nap on Thanksgiving afternoon, knowing the end was near, but being bone-tired, and being awakened by Brother #2 saying that Dad had pretty much stopped breathing and that everyone was gathered around except me. And Mom reminded us that all of that was OK, that we didn't need to hound ourselves with regrets, that the sadness itself was enough of a burden.

And, this weekend, as my bones ached, I was glad again for Mom's comforting words, as always.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chompin' Broccoli

What can I say? 3B loves broccoli. I'm not complaining one bit; it shows good taste in few different ways.

But, I have to admit, it's a bit odd how much he likes his veggies--peas, black beans, white beans, corn, squash--and even his raw tofu, which I think he likes even more than his tofu pups or soy "chicken" nuggets. I guess he really is our child, huh? Who else other than the child of two vegetarians would love that stuff?

Earlier this week, he even dug on Mama's tomato basil quiche--stealing about half of my piece. He also regularly steals my pieces of Mama's whole wheat zucchini bread, even after eating his whole piece of it.

No surprise then that this morning he loved the farmer's market, especially the stand with the fresh greens (add mixed bean sprouts for a buck), homemade marinade, and handmade tempeh burgers where the guy greeted us with a hearty, "Good morning, brother!" (I wonder if that's how he greeted the retired Army officer from Wyoming with the chicken and egg stand next to his.) OK, comrade, half a bag of the shrub clippings and don't talk to my son--I've already made him enough of a hippie on my own.

Just kidding, of course. I assume that 3B will be a chip off the old crunchy granola bar--until he rebels in puberty and becomes a lobbyist for Republican bankers--so it's probably good that he gets to know his peeps as soon as possible.

Speaking of knowing his peeps, I'm sure that 3B will be glad to know that the reason that Manah Manah and Choppin' Broccoli are malignant earworms 30 years from now is because I used to sing the former when feeding him bananas ("banananah doot doo dee doo doo") and the latter when watching him chomp his broccoli, as you can see him do here, with slightly more professional accompaniment:

Apologies about the quality, King. I didn't have time to jump up and grab the real camera, so I had to make do with my phone. Don't worry, though, the walking video will be shot on the real deal.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weird synchronicity

I didn't even know who this author is, but two of my favorite bloggers--and two of my six loyal readers--did, and wrote about how her death affected them.

As I was skimming my feeds, I thought that Anthromama must have quickly changed the name of her post. And the intro. And Anthropapa's name isn't Bryan . . . waitaminnit.

Not only am I slow, but I'm not too quick.

[Anthromama: A Literary Heroine Has Died]
[Back to Me: A Wrinkle in Time]

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Hello world, it's me, Papa.

This is the first picture of me, on what appears to be day one, which was really night one, since Mom waited to have me until after Dad got home from work.

True stories about my birth day: In one of Mom's notes somewhere, she described her trip to the doctor to confirm that she was in labor. Remember that I'm the youngest of six, so that meant that she drove down there herding five other kids the whole way. Oh, and did I mention she was driving while in labor?

Also, at one point, Mom explained to me that she called Dad to let him know she was in labor. Dad asked if he should come home early. She told him that it looked like he didn't need to, and then she went grocery shopping to make sure that the house was fully stocked for her week in the hospital. I asked her how she managed to do that while in labor--trying not to ask "Weren't you afraid that you'd deliver me in aisle 2, amidst all the cookies, crackers, and snack food?" Mom said, "Oh, well, some of the contractions were so bad that I had to pull over."

Grocery shopping + in labor + 5 kids in tow = Rock Star

A few quick observations:

  • Apparently my hairline isn't receding, since I appear to have been born with what we'll politely call a long forehead . . . a pre-receded hairline? . . . great comb-over potential?
  • Judging by the stark shadows, the startled expression on my face, and the defensive position of my hands, they were still creating flashes for pictures by igniting a pile of flash powder on a mortar board when I was born. Funny, I don't feel that old.
  • I have that wristband in my "baby book." It seems that my wrists were about as big around as a yellow Dixon-Ticonderoga #2 pencil.
OK, kibbitz away.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Lock up the kids, the President is coming over.

Is it just me, or are these campaign pitches getting creepier?

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Helpful Instructions to Mothers

If you haven't already guessed, while I'm figuring out how to film 3B walking while preventing him from opening the balcony door, eating my bicycle chain, or climbing onto the stove, I'm going to be stalling by presenting the more interesting contents of my "baby book." Of course, after I get some footage, I'll need some time to hack it together to the tune y'all selected. (Technically, I've stopped counting votes, but really, I'll keep counting bribes as long as you want to send them.) Previously, I covered the Dangerous Book for Boys prequel, today's pamphlet is Helpful Instructions to Mothers.
Mama and I were lucky enough to find a practice that was a collaborative between midwives, which made her more comfortable, and doctors, which made me more comfortable. Mama's take on pregnancy and childbirth was that she didn't want it to be treated as an illness, and that she certainly didn't want to be treated as if she were sick. I agreed with that, but I also wanted Plan B to be at the location where we were going to deliver, rather than a drive away, no matter how short the drive--10 minutes in our case.
This is a discussion that we've had, back and forth, since we moved in together and tried to find places to live. We both tend to prefer rural areas--big surprise, right? But, I have always said that once we have kids, I wanted to live in a town with a clinic or, preferably, a hospital. Mama, who grew up in a house surrounded by woods and potato fields, in the far north of Maine--eight hours north of Portland, north of Quebec City, way the hell up there--never felt that was a necessity. However, in the next breath she would say, "I hope that if we have a son, he's just like you." To which my reply always was, "If he is, we'll need either a hospital or a helicopter."
So, when it came time to pick an OB practice, I was on the more conservative end, which I knew was first-time parent nervousness, but it was also nervousness for Mama. Honestly, I was pretty sure that delivery would be straightforward, just going by the statistics, but I was also concerned about pain management for Mama, especially the more we learned about childbirth. I had watched Sister #2 give birth to her third child, and from my perspective, it didn't look comfortable. In fact, I've known Sister #2 my whole life, and I've never seen her in such pain. And trust me, my perspective was from the front row--I was the umpire to the doctor's Johnny Bench, so I was close enough to make that call.
On the other hand, I didn't want to force Mama into a purely medical intervention type of delivery because she wouldn't be comfortable with that, and because I wasn't sure that it was necessary. As I said, we are lucky enough to live in an area with lots of options for OBs and we ended up in a practice whose philosophy is that you're healthy and that the baby is developing normally until they have evidence to the contrary. Their feeling is that, until delivery, they're usually there just to make sure that you're within a relatively normal range. In fact, they didn't outright discourage us from taking certain tests, but they did counsel us that the tests were more about risk tolerance collecting significant data for decision making, which led us to skip several of the pregnancy testing regimens.
Also, the hospital that we delivered in was pretty laissez faire about post-partum care, so we didn't concern ourselves with writing up a birth plan or instructions for the post-partum or nursery nurses. We knew that once he arrived, we were in charge of 3B's care--OK, so that was mildly terrifying to realize, given that I can't even remember to floss half the time--and that the hospital wanted him to be with us as much as possible, that they were just there for answering questions, general support, and to take him if we needed a break. And, after all of our deliberations over an OB practice, when Mama got to that point where she gave me a look that said, "This hurts too much, I've got to get out of here."--and by "here" she meant "my body"--I was relieved that relief was so close by for her. It's also given me some comfort that we made the right choice when she's gone on about how much she liked her epidural--that it hurt less than a finger prick for a blood sample, that it was adjusted so that she didn't lose all feeling in her legs, and so forth. More than anything, I didn't want Mama to have regrets.
However, given what I can figure about how hospitals have historically treated pregnancy, mothers, fathers, and babies from the contents of this pamphlet that Mom was given when I was born, I understand completely anyone who writes out a complete birth and post-partum plan to ensure that, for example, they aren't prohibited from touching their baby--or his clothing. Or that there's no time when it's OK to smoke on the maternity ward. Or that the person coming to visit them or pick them up may not be their husband--he may not even be a he--their companion could be a partner, a parent, a friend, or a coach.
Then again, it might be worth going back to that if we could get the prices I saw listed on another scrap for my baby book. Mom stayed in the hospital with me for six days after giving birth, and I doubt that it cost over $1,000, and it probably wasn't even close to that. It might even be worth setting the Wayback Machine to 1968 just to get a room without a TV or the Amish gateway drug: a telephone. Can you imagine how relaxing it would be . . . especially with the newborn sequestered in the nursery? (Says the man who sent photos from his phone from the maternity ward.)

Tomorrow: The product of the aforementioned Photo Service. That's right, I'll be showing off the very first picture of me. Try to contain your excitement; you're scaring the dog.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dangerous Book for Boys: Prequel

If you haven't already guessed, while I'm figuring out how to film 3B walking while preventing him from opening the balcony door, eating my bicycle chain, or climbing onto the stove, I'm going to be stalling by presenting the more interesting contents of my "baby book." Of course, after I get some footage, I'll need some time to hack it together to the tune y'all selected. (Technically, I've stopped counting votes, but really, I'll keep counting bribes as long as you want to send them.)
If you thought that the Dangerous Book for Boys was a hazard, that just means that you haven't seen this yet. This is what Mom was given by the hospital when I was born.

Take a gander . . .

Circa 1968, a boy was not so insecure as to have a little pink on the cover of his booklet, apparently.

"The dignity of manhood"? Clearly, you had no idea what indignities the 70s would bring us. [via BIL's Sonic Airhole]

"He likes ice cream, saws, Christmas, comic books, the boy across the street . . . fire engines, Pickles the Fire Cat . . ." er, waitaminnit.

What now? Who is that boy across the street?

"When you come home at night with only the shattered pieces of your hopes and dreams . . ."

God, how I long for the good ol' days, when a man could go to work full of optimism and faith and return home every evening with all of that goodwill crushed into a thimbleful of dust that he would pour into his martini and watch vanish into a whirlpool of booze as he swirled his olives around the rim of the glass.

Yeesh. I'm less worried about what a boy is than what being a man in that time was like.

Tomorrow: Helpful tips for mothers--including when you can smoke in the maternity ward.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Like a snotalanche comin' down the mountain

Main Entry: 1snot·a·lanche
Pronunciation: 'snot&-"lanch
Function: noun
Etymology: Bradstein, from Mama dialect (Mama-Proven├žal) snotlavantse, snotlantse
1 : a large mass of snot, mucus, boogers, or other sinus dredgings in swift motion out of a child's nose and down a top lip, capable of washing away small animals, people, and, in extreme cases, vehicles and buildings, also capable of spreading virulence similar to that which laid waste to humans and brought about the final conflict between good and evil, often smeared from ear to ear, across cheek and jowl with back of hand by hosting child
(see also: ropes of mucus, lung butter, day care)
What did you do with your long weekend? Here at the Bradstein Household, we celebrated by getting a cold. Yes, all of us. It was lovely, as I'm sure many of you know, since it's going around.

Between Ricolatinis, we managed to get a few things done, including sifting through my "baby book," which is nothing more than an empty baby book still in its box, with a thin stack of miscellaneous papers underneath it. This is all you get when you're the sixth child. Or, in 3B's case, when you're the first child, since we haven't been able to get it together to assemble any of the half dozen baby books we were given to record his history. Things aren't looking good for his younger-sibling-to-be. They'll be lucky if they have a book, although what says, "We love you." more than a hand-me-down baby book, right?

But anyway, this is all about me, so let's get on with what sparse memorabilia we have before this NyQuiltini drops the hammer on my head.

When Mom sent me my baby book, just before 3B was born, she included copies of what she called (with tongue firmly in cheek, I'm sure) "the important" notes on scraps of paper from her "blue spiral binder," which she didn't include. I'm guessing that means that it includes notes about my siblings as well, but I'll have to wait until we uncover it to see for sure. In the meantime, here's one of those important notes:
No wonder I always loved Chinatown. Mom and I used to walk through after seeing shows to get to City Lights, which we would wander through on our way to Vesuvio, where we would sometimes sit upstairs on the thin balcony and people watch. I always loved Chinatown late at night--the narrow streets and alleyways emptied of people; the jam packed shops waiting to burst out in the morning and spread their goods again across the sidewalks; and the occasional vehicle, like the tractor-trailer sitting silent, driver absent, filling the width of the street from curb to curb, the long trailer stacked to the second-story balconies with wire crates stuffed with clucking chickens.

And no wonder I'm going to crush all the other smack talkers in fantasy football--check out that score from my first Stanford football game (and let's ignore that it was against SJ State, OK?). Is that a good omen or what?

Y'all are going down like the wall in Berlin, like Alice into the rabbit hole, like a snotalanche--and like a snotalanche, you'll be wiped off the face of the league. That is, if I can stay awake long enough to set my roster for this week.

(Yeah, we sat in the end zone--good cheap seats. I'm still not sure how Mom and Dad got themselves and all six of us kids in on this plan--"2 adults and 3 minor children"--but hey, maybe those Stanford ticket takers aren't so good at math.)

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