Wednesday, April 30, 2008

John Lee Hooker up to something

Quotes of the day...

  • Tractor is upside down (after turning it upside down)
  • This pad is for changing / This pad is for laying on (during a diaper change)
  • Don't talk with your mouth full (Mrs. K takes credit for this--obviously, since we have taught him no good manners)
  • Boat goes in to the dock (no idea where this came from...maybe he watches Love Boat at Mrs. K's)
  • Be careful with the ride on toy (neither Mama nor Mrs. K claims this one, but someone must have said it to him...maybe it was Barky)
  • 3B is ready to eat now (this is often the case...and I think I may regret teaching him that most of the time when he's saying "first," he means "now.")
  • Doesn't close very well (referring to a flap on a book at Mrs. K's)
  • Thomas is turning around, spinning, puffing smoke (apparently Thomas has been hanging out with Paula Abdul)
  • John Lee Hooker plays the blues / That's John Lee Hooker, playing the blues (repeating what Papa said, unprompted, 10 hours later, as 3B made music with his ladybug xylophone)
  • Listening to John Lee Hooker in the car at Mrs. K's (putting together what we did with where we were)
  • John Lee Hooker up to something (attaching toy tractor to some other piece of equipment or inheriting Papa's sense of humor--sorry about that, 3B)

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The only problem with the little red cart on beautiful days

"l'enfer, c'est les autres"

Little Red Cart, aka Pupatella

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good things come in fives--Threes, sir--threes!

  1. Mama is home. This means that 3B's development can now continue.

  2. Toilet training has begun. Well, sort of. While Mama was gone, 3B's interest in peeing on the potty waxed again, so we passed many great moments reading stories while he sat on the potty not peeing.

    However, every night at bathtime, as soon as I had his pants and diaper off, 3B would run into the bathroom and sit on the potty to try to pee. We would sit there while the bath filled, but nary a drop of pee fell the entire week.

    The first night Mama was back, though, lightning struck, much to her surprise. It was especially surprising because she wasn't aware of the traditional nightly Running of the Potty ceremony, and was herself enjoying a brief moment of solitude in the john, the head, the library, the doobluh vay say, if you will.

    In burst 3B, with a huge grin across his face, yelling "Pee on the potty! Pee on the potty! Pee on the potty!" He plunked himself down as Mama closed the door again to grant them the privacy together that such intimate social events deserve. A moment later I heard her cry out, "Oh, what good peeing in the potty!" I went to get some cookies for the boy.

    Want to know what's even better? He did it again tonight!

  3. Today, because our elevator was once again out, Mama and 3B were climbing the seven floors of stairs to get home when Mama asked 3B if he could count the steps. Most of our requests like this, if they get a response at all, garner nothing more than a look that says, "Do I look like an organ grinder's monkey? If you want someone to do tricks for you, why don't you get a border collie?" This time, though, 3B methodically said, to himself, of course--he don't work on Maggie's farm no more, "1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10."

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

This is why we can't have nice things

*title stolen from the World's Largest Rock and Roll band.

Even though it was her alma mater's band and they played some of her favorite songs, Mom always rolled her eyes at them while she laughed at them. She used to claim that they weren't like that when she went there, although she could never provide evidence of that.

I believe it was somewhere around the time of John Elway's final college game, a victory that was stolen from him by some criminally bad special teams play and a trombone player, that she started referring to the band from her alma mater as "your band." Although I went to a Cal-system school, I felt that was a fair euphemism for them, so whenever I was speaking to her, I also referred to them as "your band."

Mom would roll her eyes and laugh at that too.

And so I can imagine her hearing about 3B and rolling her eyes and laughing. She would roll her eyes when I told her that he loves to burp, and when he can't, he just shouts out a loud growl, and then says--or yells--"Excuse you!" See, Mom not only used to hate how loud a few of us kids--and grandkids--belched, but also that we'd make a point to follow up with an Emily Post "excuse me" afterward.

"Why don't you just not belch?"

"I can't help it."

[Eye roll.]

For the record, the fact that 3B says "excuse you" rather than "excuse me" is all on Mama.

And Mom would laugh--at me--when I told her that 3B loves to wait until my slow digital camera and I are ready to take a picture and then a) run straight toward me b) grab the camera c) turn away d) stop what he's doing, sit down, stick his thumb in his mouth and give me his best "what the hell are you looking at?" scowl e) all of the above.

See, Mom also loved to take pictures. Mom had a keen eye and took photography classes to learn technical skills and even had our upstairs bathroom outfitted so that it could be converted into a darkroom. She kept a roll-away enlarger in the broom closet next to the bathroom.

Especially because Mom couldn't instantly see her shots as she took them, she would often take several pictures of one sitting or setting, to make sure she got what she wanted. When she would say, "Just one more." I would roll my eyes and laugh. It was never just one more.

So, perhaps it's all my fault, or perhaps laying it at my feet is merely blaming the victim of photophilia, but at some point, I do admit that I did start messing with Mom. OK, we all did. Back in those days, she had a split-focus viewfinder, which was easiest to focus sharply on a vertical line. There must be hundreds of pictures of us standing with our index fingers held up in front of us for her to focus on. ("OK, just one more...without the fingers!") Actually, it might have been Dad who started the finger thing.

That became too easy, however, so when she would focus (This was back when people actually had to focus cameras themselves--oh, the horror!), which could take a few seconds or weeks, I would slowly lean forward and backward. Of course, this only doomed me to more hours before the camera, but it was fun to watch her get it in focus, and, not quite...OK, now it's in, not quite...OK, now...what is going on? Of course, Mom caught on and that time passed.

And then there were the timer shots with my blue nose, but we'll leave that for another time. Suffice it to say that Mom would find 3B's efforts to thwart my harassment-by-camera amusing. Had I known then what a pain in the ass karma is, I might have been a better kid.

No, you're right, probably not.

And as a kid, I was, as I am now, a boy. Very much a boy, except the part about the stuffed animals, and later on with the makeup, oh, and the earrings...but I digress. So, it should come as no surprise that 3B has some of those same traits, especially since he's a boy. Actually, I suspect that more of this comes from his age than his gender. With his fascination in pushing everything to, and past, the breaking point, he could either be a regular toddler, or a future failure analysis engineer.

I understand the instinct, having conducted several similar experiments myself, some of which pushed me past my breaking point. I even broke one of Mom's favorite vases, and so I understand that these things happen--that even though I gave this to Mama for Valentine's Day, along with a ride in a rented Mini Cooper, that one small red-headed object of her affection would do this to another small red-colored object of her affection:

...we can't have nice things

And, I think that the next time a firefighter offers 3B a helmet, we'll decline. After all, we've got enough scattered around the house for a squad of firefighters, however, they're all in a state similar to this:
This is why...

At one time, I believe I asked Mom why there weren't more pictures of me from a particular time, she just leaned slowly forward and backward, rolled her eyes and laughed. I'll have to remember to keep at least one helmet nearby and intact, so that when 3B asks why we didn't indulge his love of all things firefighter-related, I can slowly tear it apart and say, "Daddy break it. Daddy rip it." And roll my eyes and laugh.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

What my toddler taught me today

I learned that 3B can sleep for 13 hours (that's all the way until 9 a.m., for those of you keeping score at home). He is more likely to do this the more likely it is that you have plans to meet someone for a play date.

I also learned that wrangling 3B while on a play date at a farm--well worth the trip, by the way--means that I won't get any pictures or video of him or his adorable friend. In lieu of pictures, a brief description: "want to go over there!" "want to go over there noooowww!" and then cows, turkeys, some other forms of poultry, 1000s of children, tractors! ohmigawd! tractors you can sit on, even if they don't go anywhere there are switches and levers and steering wheels and hey why are the parents not paying attention to any of this? and then goats, sheep, piglets nursing from a momma pig as big as our refrigerator, cows again, and then a playground where I had to tell a boy to stop pushing 3B for the first time--funny how you don't have to learn some things as a parent...just thinking about it again ticks me off--and then shutdown, loud singing in car to prevent one of those tiny car naps that just makes everyone cranky, and finally collapse at home.

I then learned that if I get 3B home about two hours late for his nap, he'll still take one. Thank goodness, since I had work to attend to.

3B learned, "No flag, no country." He then claimed a visitor parking spot and some nearby lawn in his own name.

No flag... country

I learned that it's possible to get fitted for a tuxedo while wrangling a toddler. It helped that 3B loved to shut himself into the fitting rooms and wait for me to come get him. After determining that there was nothing dangerous in the changing rooms, I was more than happy to let him wait. I did remember to retrieve him before leaving the store.

I also learned that apparently, nobody at Men's Wearhouse has ever considered picking up the tens of thousands of straight pins that have fallen on their floor. Special thanks to 3B for pointing this out.

Also, a word to the wise...if you leave a bag of dog poop in the car because you're a responsible-type citizen and there are no garbage cans around, and even if it's not that warm because it's almost evening, when you come back to your car, it will smell like hot death. Not even your dog will like the smell.

This has been a public service announcement. Had there been any useful information, it would have been part of our news broadcast. And that's the way it is.

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What we're saying instead of napping

Upside down! Upside down!
(standing with head on the mattress between his feet--you try to do that)

Daddy wake up!

Engine. Tengine. Engine. Tengine. Engine. Tengine...
(all that rhyming in Dr. Suess rubs off)

Daddy get you!

How now brown cow?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What we're saying this week

The top 10, er, 12 this week

  • 3B's ear...aahoogah!
    (this one is from follows "Nose, beep beep.")

  • Mrs. K, teacher.
    (she is a retired teacher, although we only mention this to others, not 3B; to him, she's always Mrs. K)

  • Mrs. K read Squashy Truck, Green Eggs, George to you.
    (while handing me this stack of books as I pack him up to go to Mrs. K's--that would be That's Not My Truck, Green Eggs and Ham, and Curious George)

  • Stop it.
    (does this require explanation?)

  • I want to play ball.
    (and every ball is a baseball since watching Papa play and the high school team take batting practice while we were at the dog park yesterday)

  • 3B did it.
    (to Mrs. K after she handed him something and told him she'd open it in a moment)

  • Need tissue.
    (better than battling him for the Pyrrhic victory of wiping the snot off of his face and digging the boogers out of his nose--and no, I don't know how Mama got him to be so willing to submit to this abuse)

  • I have one too.
    (referring to a tissue, when Mrs. K handed him one and took one herself)

  • The lizard is standing on the rock.
    (although 3B said this in the context of playing with a lizard toy at Mrs. K's, I think it makes a nice pair with his "cheese stands alone" announcement)

  • Ring around rosie, ashes, all fall down
    (while dancing in a circle in the tub tonight--again, missing a few words, but whattayagonnado?)

  • Run away from you.
    (again, I don't believe that an explanation is needed)

  • Barky's ear...aahoogah!
    (this one is all 3B)

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Monday, April 21, 2008

What we do when Mama is gone

We go to the toy store, of course...not even the promise of a lollipop could lure him away from this surfeit of fun...

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

You don't need a weatherman...

Today, I managed to nearly drown all of us in monsoon rains. Twice.

The first time was a morning attempt to get Barky to poop, which turned out to be nothing more than a great time for me to finally use the rain cover for our BOB and for 3B to learn how to kick it off before we left the elevator. Before the walk was over, 3B had also figured out how to drop his shoes and socks out onto the ground from under the rain cover. A splendid time was had by all.

The second trip was going to be to the hardware store, but after the 60-second run to the car, we ended up going to the mall just to dry off. When we walked into Lord & Taylor, 3B and I looked as if we'd been over Niagara Falls without the benefit of a barrel. The salespeople weren't really jumping up to help us.

Rocket man

All I'm saying is that if you pay the big bucks to locate your store at the only entrance to the mall with a covered walkway from the garage, you're going to have to mop the floor occasionally.

Ice cream man

For the record, when we left our condo, it was not raining. By the time we stepped outside, seven floors down, however, there was a cataract of water dumping down. It didn't look so bad until we were out in it, and after the first three seconds, it was too late. Barky did make a break back to the door, nearly snapping his neck, and giving 3B and I whiplash, but we got that sorted out in short order.

Of course, by the time we were done in the mall, Barky had filled the car with eau de Wet Dog, so we came out even.

I can't believe Mama left me here with these two

When we got to the car, in the time it took me to unbuckle 3B from the stroller, he gained five pounds in water weight from what fell onto and soaked into his jeans. I ended up tossing the stroller into the front seat for expedience, and by the time I got in, 3B was in full command of the steering wheel, since I didn't bother to buckle him in, I just chucked him in and slammed the door as I sprinted around the back of the car.

And yes, Mama, since I'm sure you're reading this in Kampala--we did ride on the train in the mall, first thing. You think your son would let me skip that? I just didn't get any pictures, since we were shoehorned into the caboose with a mom and a kid who did their level best to not recoil in horror after we joined them, or even after I wiped 3B's nose with my finger, which I then wiped on my pants.

Is this gonna' be a bug hunt?

What can I say? There were four of us wedged into a space that's too small to hold Gary Coleman's shoes, and the diaper bag ended up jammed into the crook of my knees, which were bent at a harrowing angle and wedged against the bench across from me, with 3B standing on my thighs for a better view of the sunglass, gumball, and CareBear kiosks that we were driving by. Unless I could have produced a tissue from my ear, my finger was as good as it was going to get.

The way we were tangled in there, those other two should just be happy I didn't use one of their fingers by mistake.

We did make it to Home Depot after the mall, and we even got spare keys made to give to Steve and Larry, who will be dogsitting Barky during our upcoming travel, except one of the keys doesn't work, so I have to go back. I can't wait.

But, other than any attempts to leave the house, it was a great day. I think 3B's even feeling better since this morning, when he woke up with dried snot paving his upper lip. And his improved health comes despite having only a 45-minute nap today. I guess it's "feed a fever, sleep deprive a cold." He's much less congested, and hardly coughing, so I've got him all packed up for Mrs. K's.

Saying, "Cheese!" before snatching the camera

Of course, tomorrow's a whole new day.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stranger than fiction

I don't know what's stranger--that I gave this to Mom for Mother's Day when I was 11, or that she kept it.

If anyone can figure it out, please let me know your answer, and I'll hire you as my shrink.

I suppose the fact that I posted it may be the strangest part of all.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

An afternoon in the life...

Lessons learned today in short phrases, because that's all that I'm capable of producing right now.

Getting professionally installed blinds is worth the money.


After - back in black
(And yes, that is a picture of an entirely blacked out room. What can I say? The loratadine overdose is messing with my head...I was bewildered by the unprecedented darkness...I'm a moron.)

Even when I take two loratadine by mistake, and sudafed all day, the pollen still makes me want to rip my face off. Or perhaps it's all the dust from the construction around the dog park. Whatever it is, it feels like someone rubbed Tabasco sauce in my tear ducts.

Dog park or Gaza Strip?

(Bad news about the allergies is I think that I passed them on to 3B, along with a redhead's temperament. The good news is that today I can finally sneeze full sneezes again, which is nice, because those half sneezes were about as satisfying as half orgasms.)

Rockin' the dog park

We sometimes dress our child like a German tourist

Our little German tourist

...and yet we still take him out in public.

Seriously...what were we thinking?

It's possible to have a tantrum when eating a dish of frozen custard with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Meltdown over ice cream.

...but it doesn't last long.

More fun to eat without a spoon.

Also, you can give your Mom any hunk of yarn glued to a page, and she'll save it until the day she dies, after which time, your brother will send it to you, in case you want to add it to your curated petrified yarn collection.

What the--?

But seriously, I think Mom and Brother #2 are both awesome for doing that. I think I'm a bit strange for giving this to Mom, but this is nothing compared to the collage I gave her one year...I'll post that as soon as I can get my scanner software to start.

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Report from the home front

This morning I can finally cough and sneeze again. Yesterday, my stomach muscles were so sore from softball two days before that when I felt a sneeze coming on, I had to distract myself in hopes I wouldn't sneeze--only, have you ever tried to distract yourself? From a sneeze?

"Look, a pencil!" Achoo! Dang.

What was sad was that when I did sneeze--and did I mention that it's pollen season, er, I mean springtime?--my stomach muscles couldn't hold up, so I'd get these little half-sneezes. Seriously, two days after the game and I can't withstand a split-second exertion.

I would like to state for the record that I was, in fact, young and fit at one time.

Speaking of young, fit, and yesterday, Mama called me with a report from the home front as she and 3B were heading home from the playground.

"3B just asked for his first material possession."
"Oh really? What's that?"
"A bike. With pedals. According to him, 'Daddy get it.'"
It seems that all my hard work designed to plant a desire to bike in his subconscious has paid off. However, my frequent admonitions that covetousness is a sin haven't. 3B said all of this as a reaction to seeing, and wanting, another kid's bike at the playground. Hey, if it takes covetousness, I'll take it. Just so long as we ride more down the route of Levi and less down the route of late, great uncle Syd...

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The next 72 hours

Those of you who are SAHMs or SAHDs know that my grand slam wasn't the greatest miracle worked on the night we took 3B out to the ballgame. That honor goes to all of Mama's planning and work that had her, 3B, and Barky ready to roll out the moment I walked into the door.

She had Barky walked and fed, 3B bathed and his dinner and diaper bag packed, and dinner packed for us. All I had to do was walk in, change into my softball clothes and head out to the car. I'm not sure how Mama does it all plus works what has become full time (and sometimes more than full time) job.

I do know part of her secret, since I'm the one to see her come to bed at midnight or later, having put in five or more hours of work after 3B goes to sleep. But all the planning, the coordinating, the knowing what's needed in advance--all that stuff you learn at Mom School--that's what I don't know.

And I need a crash course in it, because in 72 hours, she's going to turn over the keys to the kingdom to me and expect that I can run things until she gets back. And I have so many questions...will 3B, Barky, and I survive for a whole week on Cheerios and organic, whole wheat toaster pastries (read: ostensibly healthy PopTarts)?

But there's not enough space here for them all, so I've put one up in another poll there, in the upper-left corner of the page. There will be more to come over the next 10 days.

Help a father out, all you SAHMs and SAHDs--let me in on your survival secrets. If you won't do it for me, think of the kids--do it for Barky and 3B.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Put me in, Coach!

Normally I would take a break after such a long-winded post that took over a week to compile, but holy crap, 3B was so cute at our opening night softball game tonight.

He's my good luck charm. My first hit was a grand slam, and I got a hit in every other at bat (don't break your fingers typing congratulations--this is slow pitch, after all). Fortunately, I wasn't challenged much at shortstop, although I did make some on the button throws to home as the cutoff from center--none of which made an out, but still...good throws.

Which is why I'm typing this with an ice pack on my shoulder. I'm not getting any younger.

Speaking of younger, the real major accomplishments of the day here came from the youngest Bradstein in new words and sentences.

"3B boy. Daddy boy. Boys together."
"3B want to go over there."
"Bus stops at gas station." (yesterday at Mrs. K's)
3B was also reciting major portions of his new favorite book, the Vanishing Pumpkin ("Wicked! Wicked! Wicked!" and "Sit by the fire, watch the sun go down."), and an old favorite of Papa's that I share with him, Pickle for a Nickel. He's now at that point where he knows what we say on each page, so Mama was in the other room and heard 3B saying, "I made him talk."

Wondering what was up, she came into the room to see him looking at that page in Pickle for a Nickel.

Enough talking...on with the cuteness...

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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Here's the deal

If you hear something late at night,
some kind of trouble,
some kind of fight,
just don't ask me what it was.
--Suzanne Vega

What I want to know is
Are you kind?
--Grateful Dead

Im'a get medieval on your ass.
--Pulp Fiction

Especially those of you who know that I'm a Twit know that Mama and I were planning a trip to Uganda. While we were there, 3B's Grammy was going to come here and take care of him, but Grammy now has to look after her own mother, so she's unable to babysit 3B. Mama will still go to Uganda on Sunday--she's running a meeting there; I was just tagging along--and I'll be solo daddying it here for a week or so.

It was difficult letting go of the expectations we had built up, but it's the only choice, because this is the deal: we look after our children and we look after our parents.

I've been thinking about this deal and the other deals we make with each other quite a bit since reading MetroDad's thoughtful rant about people who don't abide by the deal. For many reasons, I agree wholeheartedly with his verdict for those who can't, or won't, keep up their end of the deal, but at the same time, I can't endorse it either.

I agree with him because ever since 3B was born, my view of humanity has changed. I used to define people by their characteristics, perhaps by the associations they made, and by the actions that they took. Since having 3B, however, I can't help but view everyone as someone's child--born with unlimited potential, deserving of every opportunity, always imperfect in this moment and striving to be better in the next.

As I interact with them, I can't help but ask myself, "How will they report me to their parents? What would I say if 3B told me someone treated him the way that I'm treating this person?"

And so, given the beauty that 3B was born with, if he ever told me that someone had abused him in any way, my first reaction would be anger, and I'd want to unleash my anger without restraint on whoever had hurt 3B. And I don't think my instinct would be to give them the luxury of taking one for the team themselves. My instinct would be to get medieval on their asses, and never let up.

I can't even read those stories about people who lock kids away, beat them, starve them to death, and so on, because I get an image of someone doing those things to 3B stuck in my mind, and it makes me clench my fists, grind my teeth, and imagine how I'd avenge the hurt they inflicted.

But, as I play out this scenario in my mind, I stop when I remember that whoever might have hurt 3B would be someone's child. If I beat up on them, I'd be abusing someone's child. And, after all, might that not be how we got to this point? Isn't it the case that violence begets violence, and if it doesn't stop with me, where will it end? And, if I exacted my vengance from a perpetrator, would I be the person who my mother and father wanted me to be? How would doing that care for the memory and legacy of them that I carry forward?

Just as I can't read those stories about child abuse, neither can I read stories about the torturing of an adult without thinking of how that man or woman's parents must feel to hear that the beautiful child they had nurtured to adulthood, protecting them along the way from all manner of perils great and small, had come to be broken and suffer so, especially at the hands of another, with the malice and forethought that entails.

(What we all often forget is the fate of those who perpetrate torture. Those who command them to do it generally have clear consciences and sleep peacefully, dreaming of Hop on Pop, but those who have to lay their hands on another with the purpose of breaking them apart often are mentally and emotionally broken themselves by the work. Mom, Brother #2, and I toured the Gevangepoort at The Hague, where some folks who we share a name with and who we may or may not be related to were tortured and killed. One was broken with hammers on the rack, in an effort to force a confession from him that never came. When his brother arrived to recover him, they assembled mob literally tore them to pieces. It's said that the process of attempting to force a false confession from a man with a set of hammers ruined the man who committed the brutality. I can't imagine that our sense of collective humanity has changed so much in the last 400 years that contemporary torturers aren't affected similarly.)

None of this means that I don't support taking child abusers out of circulation. That's also part of the deal: if you can't, or won't, look after children and parents, you don't get to play the game. I understand that it's possible that some abusers don't feel they can control their actions for various reasons--they've only ever known violence, they have a physical addiction that leaves them out of control of their actions, and so forth.

But I don't care. You break certain rules, you don't get to play the game.

OK, but then what? If we're not lining these people up against a wall with bandannas and cigarettes, what are we doing with them? If it's true that it takes a village to raise a child, what do we do for these children, who have grown up to prey on their own or others' children? Or, are some people beyond repair?

(And what do we do for those who we commanded to defile others? Who we taught to prey on their fellow humans, to tear them apart by their weakest parts? Are they beyond repair?)

Those questions all assume a negative. A more positive way to answer the same questions is to determine what we can do to love and shelter our children and parents. In our specific case, relating to Mama's trip to Uganda, that translates into allowing 3B's Grammy to look after her mom, who recently had a stroke. This means that I'll stay home to look after 3B. On the one hand, doing this contradicts some of the feelings that I've had since losing my own Mom, which Dave Eggers summed up fairly accurately:
On the one hand you are so completely bewildered that something so surreal and incomprehensible could happen. At the same time, suddenly the limitations or hesitations that you might have imposed on yourself fall away. There's a weird, optimistic recklessness that could easily be construed as nihilism but is really the opposite. You see that there is a beginning and an end and that you have only a certain amount of time to act. And you want to get started.
--Dave Eggers

On the other hand, those feelings can quickly drift into an egocentric selfishness, and it behooves me to remember that spending a week focusing on 3B as a boy and me as a dad is exactly one of those acts that I want to get started on now that I'm so painfully aware again that there is only a certain amount of time to act.

Besides, this is deal. And it's a deal that I love more than I could have imagined possible.

Of course, Mom, who not only had eyes in the back of her head, but who could also see into the future, knew this. Years ago she told me, "I always thought that you'd make a great house husband." And perhaps to remind me of this, she came to me in a dream the night we decided that I wouldn't go to Uganda. Or perhaps she came to comfort me as I realized that I'd be thousands of miles from Mama for over a week, because sometimes even big boys want to hear their Moms tell them it's going to be OK, it's all right, just go to sleep now.

Or maybe she was telling me that I really shouldn't have left those dishes in the sink overnight. Didn't I know that I'd just have to wash them in the morning?

Yeah, that was probably it.

Whatever it was, I'm hoping that Mom finds her way back to me when Mama's gone, to help me sleep through the night. And here's hoping that all the hurt, lost, and lonely children around us find someone to kiss them, lay them down, stroke their hair, and watch over them.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

10:15 on a Sunday morning...tick, tick, tick

Barky is soon to be the only beagle with docked ears in town.

At 5:50 a.m. today, a Sunday, he hammered out the entire drum solo from In a Gadda Da Vida by flapping his ears, which woke 3B, who immediately cried out in a heartbreaking voice, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

I got up at the same time to ensure that Mama didn't toss Barky over the balcony rail. Also, because someone had turned on a firehose at the top of my nose, and I was sneezing about twice a second, despite the loratadine.

Everyone except Mama and I was immediately ready to go outside, so I grabbed two sudafed, washed them down with some iced coffee, and we headed off to the books and crackers side of town, where our favorite playground and dog park are.

While there, we got lucky--the firefighters pulled up at the Y to do their PT for the week, and Firefighter Rich was nice enough to let all of us sit in the firetrucks.

By the time we were headed home, everyone was tired out. Barky and 3B from running around in their playgrounds, Mama and I from chasing them down, and it was all of 10 a.m. Dude, I never used to get this much done in a whole weekend, so while I'm now exhausted, but wired from what is now two doses of sudafed, I'm grateful to the dynamic duo for getting us up and out before what is likely to be a rainy afternoon.

OK, dog, we won't dock your ears. We'll just tape them to your jowls every night.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

If you can't see it here,
view the slideshow on Flickr.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Today, we did a lot of the same old, same old...walked to the playground, went to the dog park, watched fish and turtles in the pond, ate lunch, sang a whole damn song totally unprompted out of the blue what the hell?

Yes, it's the first time he's sung anything longer than "A, B, C, D, F, G." Yes, that's how he sings it. Shut up. He's brilliant.

And yes, you can start feeling bad for the second child now, because they'll pretty much have to sing this while tap dancing on stilts and juggling flaming machetes before we'll notice. Even then, we'll only say, "That's nice dear, don't light the curtains on fire."

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Temporal slumming

I've always loved music. But as I look back, I wonder, how could we have taken ourselves so seriously when we were listening to these guys?

And I loved this song so much that I played it until the tape broke. Yeah, you heard me--cassette tape. I would do it again, if only I had a tape deck.

I suppose that it's my penance to make up for these past transgressions by having to sing this song 63,231 times a day.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008


“We got monks tomorrow, Desmond Tutu and Richard Gere here today, and a nude torch relay in the works,” Mr. Ballard said. “And I have no hope of leaving here without tripping over hundreds of members of the foreign media. I’ll tell you one thing: it won’t be boring.”
--NY Times
I miss life in the SF Bay Area. I mean, he could be describing any Wednesday of the year, not just the Wednesday during which an errant Naomi Campbell loogie doused the Olympic torch.

Did I mention that I also miss the Left Coast media, more specifically, my hometown rag of record?

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Out of body experience: I'm a black belt

Ever have an out of body experience? You know, where you're, like, floating above yourself, watching yourself enraptured in a moment of spiritual bliss or seeing yourself finally getting it and suddenly speaking fluently in a foreign language or watching yourself sitting on the crapper, picking your nose?

Yeah, I had one of those this week. It was surreal, as if I had become another Laurie Anderson clone

I came home today
and both our cars were gone.
And there were all these new pink
Flamingoes arranged in star patterns
All over the lawn.
Then I went into the kitchen
And it looked like a tornado had it.
And then I realized I was in the wrong house.
--Laurie Anderson

My out of body experience came at the hands of my good friend, Black Belt Mama. She awarded me her Honorary Black Belt Blogger of the Week title, writing
Often joking about his lack of readers, Papa Bradstein is one of the best blogs you're probably not reading yet. His writing style is fun, upbeat and clever. He can make suffering from the flu rip your sides apart with laughter. And if he can't get his coffee? Well, he'll lead you on his journey to the mecca of caffeine and you'll be laughing the whole way there.
I'm sorry, are we talking about the same Papa Bradstein? A quick Googling revealed that there were two others, one who wrote from a wind powered station high atop a remote peak in Argentina, where he's dedicated his life to the study of lenticular clouds, and the other who squinted through a microscope to etch his posts on the surfaces of the amber beads that roll up onto the Wadden Sea island off Friesland where he lives on the mud flats in his house on stilts, and from which he would walk his posts ashore through the sucking mud at low tide or across the ice in the winter when the sea freezes for the town librarian to translate from West Frisian to English and post in his blog. (The translation may not be necessary, since, "Bûter, brea, en griene tsiis; wa't dat net sizze kin, is gjin oprjochte Fries.")

When both of them found out that they shared a blog name with me, however, in a strange coincidence, they both took down their blogs, asked Blogger to send them the drives their blogs had been stored on, burned the drives, then paid NASA the required fees to launch the ashes of the drives into space and propel them toward a black hole, where they will disappear forever, crushed by the gravitational force of 28 solar masses.

So, that leaves me, I suppose. But seriously?
Papa Bradstein is somewhat of a cult classic. He's like a Starbucks in Seattle before it went viral. If you're not reading him you really should be. His writing makes you want to be a better writer yourself. He's just so darn witty and entertaining.
Starbucks is viral? WTF? No wonder I get sick every time I get a latte. They should flipping disinfect the place if it's viral. Or at least put some Theraflu in their drinks. Also ... "Witty"? "Entertaining"? I'm pretty sure that BBM is referring to some of those West Frisian amber etched posts.
Last night I had that dream again.
I dreamed I had to take a test
In a Dairy Queen on another planet.
And then I looked around
And there was this woman.
And she was making it all up.
She was writing it all down.

And she was laughing.
She was laughing her head off.
--Laurie Anderson

Although this all seems like a dream to me, I suppose it is true, although the credit really goes to Barky, who pens all the funny posts. I just shoot the photos and videos--his single dewclaw can't work the dials on the cameras. I'm glad to hear that he makes BBM laugh her head off. As I told her, she is one of my favorite moms and bloggers.

She makes me laugh on a regular basis as well, often from recognition of something we're experiencing, and sometimes nervously in anticipation of what lies ahead of us.

Dad always started reading the newspaper on the comics page, which he called "the heart of the paper." I've realized that's true not only in the sense that it's the center of the paper, but it's also the emotional heart of the paper like the front page is the cerebral head of the paper. I tend to get caught up in taking things--life, for example--too seriously. As a reminder to myself to let go a little bit, I make a conscious effort to start reading with the heart of the paper--or the heart of the blogosphere, which is where BBM's blog resides for me.

And to say that it's at the emotional heart doesn't mean that it's not thoughtful, but that it's also sensitive, compassionate, and wise.

And seriously, thank you, BBM.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday haiku [almost]

Cheese stands alone.
Fascinated forklift.
Daddy's fat.
Annotated below.

"Cheese stands alone."
3B made this mysterious existentialist statement to Mama recently. She pondered it for about five minutes before realizing that it's the last line of The Farmer in the Dell.
"Fascinated forklift."
Last week, when I dropped off 3B at Mrs. K's, there was a flatbed tractor trailer with a forklift attached to its back end dropping off a load of lumber at the house across the street from her. Before going in to drop him off, I held 3B and we watched in rapt silence as a man lowered the forklift from the back of the truck, drove it to the side of the trailer, hoisted the load of wood, drove it over to the neighbor's lawn and set it down.

When we went in, I explained to Mrs. K what we'd been doing, and she told 3B to come to her side window, where he could continue watching the men work. As he scrambled down out of my arms, 3B simply said, "fascinated" before run-stumbling over to the window to continue his study of hydraulics and internal combustion engines.

We're not quite sure where he learned the word, but he now uses it frequently, and correctly, particularly when he's playing with a little Matchbox forklift that I had growing up.

"Daddy's fat."
This is one of my favorites, although Mama's trying to stop 3B from saying it. When Mama and 3B were at the post office last week, he yelled this several times while they were waiting in line. I had gotten him saying it one day when he was tripping over his words, trying to say, "Daddy [I'm] fascinated..." I purposely misheard him and asked, "Did you say, 'Daddy fat'?" When he repeated that phrase to me, it cracked me up. That's all it took. Now, every time he says it, Mama replies, "No, Daddy's not fat." Meanwhile, I'm cracking up. Poor kid, he'll never know which way is up.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

I hate Friday

Perhaps not every Friday, but this Friday is certainly near the top of my list to go up against the wall with a blindfold and a cigarette.

First thing I tried to do this morning was leave my building to take Barky for a walk...
During our entire walk, Barky behaved as if he wanted to go to remedial obedience school, obeying approximately 1 of every 10 commands, and constantly being distracted by people, cars, dogs, the wind...

Fortunately for your sake, I didn't take pictures of my morning shower, but let me summarize: freezing, scalding, freezing, scalding, repeat ad infinitum.

During the entire bus ride to work I was imagining a fresh handmade donut with Nutella from my favorite street cart and my standard Friday grande, half-caf, extra hot latte from Starbucks. Then I got off the bus.

This is where the cart sits... (notice the total lack of cart)

This is the Starbucks that is five steps from where the bus drops me off...
I went to the Starbucks in the mall, where the line was out the door and down the corridor, and probably up the escalator all the way to Radio Shack on the third level. So, I went to Panera, where they had to fire up the espresso machine to make a somewhat passable imitation of a latte. I also bought a lovely pecan roll that turned out to be singed on the bottom.

But then...

And my king size bed? it's all good.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The apple falls and gets a raspberry

...he doesn't fall far from the tree, but he does fall.


Like Papa, he tends to go face--or chin--first. Fortunately, this was just a little tumble on a railroad tie step, but it did leave him with a nice raspberry on his chin.

Raspberry close up

Mama's first words as I scooped 3B up, were, "Do I need to make a call?" Two minutes later, after gathering comfort in his Mama's arms, 3B was demanding to be let down to collect sticks.

It doesn't seem to have affected his appetite either.


This is what we were doing before this minor calamity...

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