Friday, May 29, 2009

Apparently we're expecting a baby Thunderbird

When he first heard his sister's heartbeat, which was a much more whooshing sound until the doctor tuned the doppler in, 3B said that it "sounds like the Thunderbirds."

Here's hoping she's not quite that loud.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some days you're the pen, some days you're the paper

On this particular day, 3B was the pen and the paper. My shirt was also briefly the paper. I guess now we'll see if these new stamp pens really are washable.


Last night, 3B enjoyed some new paper in a more relaxed setting.


These books came from Aunt S, who had overheard on her last visit that he loved the one book we had, which was given to me by Dad and Mom many moons ago. She sent along a stack of 15 or so Berenstain Bears books in a box that 3B could hardly wait to open.

When we got through our front door, I went to get a knife to cut the tape open, but 3B flipped the box over and opened up the bottom, which had tape he could tear through. Once he saw it was a stack of books, he insisted that I sit down right there with him in the foyer and read two of them to him.

We've since gone through the rest of the books, some of them several times, which has allowed 3B to pick up key phrases--"You shut up!" which he deploys in proper context, so that's fun--and key concepts. 3B, who regularly takes on personas from Johnny Cash to Alison Krauss, now takes on the persona of Tuffy, the girl bully bear from the book on bullying.

Somehow, I'm thinking that the moral of that little tale hasn't really sunk in yet. Or we're in for some fun when 3B gets to kindergarten. I don't know which will be more fun--the parent-teacher conference about the bullying or about the pink skirt and headband he's sporting.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From the mouth of our babe

Me: Do you want to walk to your changing pad or do you want me to carry you there?
3B: You shut up!
...Thank you, Berenstain Bears for that bon mot...but seriously, 3B loves all of the new books, Aunt S, even if he is fixating on the conflicts rather than the morals.

3B: You have to be nice to God. You can't touch him.
...Is it wrong that every time 3B says this I bust out the MC Hammer? Maybe not, but it certainly explains how 3B picked this up at school, not at home.

3B walked over to Mama, swung his hand back and smacked her belly as hard as he could and grinned. While Mama was trying to figure out what the hell was going on, 3B said, "I just gave my baby sister a high five!"

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This explains a lot

This email alert from my fair city explains why I had to ford streams that had overtaken the bike path this morning. At least I didn't have to portage.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for the City of Alexandria and the entire Washington metropolitan region until 11:15 a.m. Heavy rains throughout the night have caused 2-3 inches of water to accummulate in various parts of the warning area. An additional 1-2 inches of rain is expected until 11:15 a.m. today. High waters may be on the roadways and in low lying areas. Residents are urged to use caution when driving and do not drive through high waters.
It also explains why I should check my email before I bike in to work. This wouldn't have stopped me from biking--that's just crazy talk--but at least I would have known to wear my flippers and snorkel.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

My hammering heart

Riding my bike up Page Mill Road yesterday, I was reconsidering some recent decisions I'd made: breakfast, my morning ab workout, and yesterday's absinthe on the flight out here.

As I was riding, I was reminded of a difference between VA and my native CA: bike riders here say hello. They even say good morning on occasion. The first time someone did it, I almost fell over. That could have been because I was traveling about .5 mph up a 10% grade with my heart hammering like a hyperventilating hummingbird's, but I really think it was the shock of having my presence acknowledged, then being spoken to. What the--?

Then there was the guy who ate his energy goo, then dropped the wrapper on the road. He bent down and dropped it by his shoe, just like pro racers do in the peloton. But, you know what, pal? People come along after the peloton passes and sweep all that crap up. Not so much behind you. If you were a that good, you would have been in Italy yesterday, riding to Bologna. To keep my sense of self-identity, I'm assuming he's an invasive species, not a native Californian.

Here's where I'm going this morning to find more friendly riders--hopefully non-litterbugs--and recover

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It's not the miles, it's the hills

Here's where I'll be spending my morning, training to beat cancer. I'm not asking you to ride with me--I don't take you for that kind of fool.

However, although I've met my fundraising goal, my long term goal it to make brain tumors history. And cancer doesn't have a goal, and it never rests--it simply keeps growing and silently taking hundreds of thousands of loved ones from us. So, if you can, I'd love your support.

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Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

I'm flying out to California to continue cleaning out Mom's house along with my siblings, which isn't such a fun reason to leave Mama and 3B for a long weekend. However, I always look forward to hanging out with my siblings. Nothing feels better than blood on blood.

But, even if it's to go see my family, I can't stand leaving my family.

Being away from Mama and 3B heightens my sensitivity to families and children around me like a blindfold heightens hearing. As I walk through the airport, I find myself waving and talking to all the toddlers. Before we got on the plane, a little boy who was traveling with his mom dropped some trash in the can next to where I was sitting to charge my laptop--the things we do for technology, right?

When I got on the plane, the little boy was already on, sobbing in his mother's arms. I said hello to him and waved and he stopped for a minute to talk. His mom explained that he was scared, which made me feel even worse for the little guy. But what could I do? I went on back to my seat and listened to him crying and screaming until we finally got in the air. it was heartbreaking.

Probably doesn't help that as I was listening to him cry, I was watching the car smashing scene between Xavier and his dad in Roll Bounce, which brought tears to my eyes as it made me think of how 3B is these days.

No, he hasn't taken a bat to our car, but he does get that worked up--so worked up that it scares him. Just before we walked out to drive to the airport, he grabbed a pack of loratadine out of my bag because it was shiny, looked like candy and he's two. I jumped over and grabbed them back out of his hand, explaining that it was medicine and dangerous, but he just opened his mouth and screamed as loud as he could. With his second scream, he started to cry.

I know that screaming is verboten in our house, but I also know that 3B is behind on his sleep this week, was tired when he woke up this morning and didn't nap at Mrs. K's today. I also know that he misses me as much as I miss him, and probably wasn't looking forward to dropping me off at the airport. And I know that when he gets like this, he also hits, throws toys and bangs on furniture, windows, and whatever else is nearby. He often hurts someone, a toy or himself when he does this, and that usually scares him.

So I asked him if he wanted to hug about it, and he came over for the biggest hug I could muster as I let him cry it out.

That's not what I would have done six months ago. Back then, I would have given him a warning and he would have ended up in time out. We all would have been more stressed out and even later leaving than I had already made us. This is what I've learned from my son. OK, and from watching Mama.

3B reminds me that I also used to flip out and destroy projects just because one tiny element wasn't perfect. I'd smash models and tear up papers. If I'd known to hit something, I would have done that too--and I did when I was a teenager. He reminds me that Dad came into my room one night, angry that I hadn't cleaned my room and with his arm swept all my valuable possessions off the top of my bookshelf onto the floor of my room.

3B reminds me of when Mom told me that she loved her parents, but there were things they did that Mom vowed she would never do. She said that she was sure the same would be true for me, and she was right.

I don't want to pass along my short temper and quick anger to 3B--if it's not too late. And I'm counting on 3B to teach me how to avoid that fate--with some help from Mama, the parent sensei. That's another reason I miss them so much when we're apart like this--they're my guides. How will I know how to behave when they're not around to keep me straight? Sure, they're always on my mind and in my heart wherever I go, but it's not the same as having them here.

Then again, if 3B were here, I wouldn't be able to enjoy this delectable absinthe drink 36,000 feet over Kansas City.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blog stalker and bye bye

Yesterday started with a random run-in with one of my blog stalkers and ended with an Ethiopian dinner goodbye to Mama's best friend from growing up and her fiancé.

My ride to work was unexceptional other than the extra effort required because I was taking the long route in because I was going to go straight from work to dinner rather than riding home. That is, it was unexceptional until I was just about to go down the ramp to the bike room in the garage under our building, which is when I crossed paths with a former coworker. Turns out that she stalks me here, which means that she knew more about what I've been doing than I could remember.

Calvin observed that verbing weirds language. Blogging weirds conversations. What's left to talk about if all the small talk catch up has been covered in writing already? Lord knows I'm not capable of substantive conversation on meaningful topics. If I was, I'd write a book, not a blog.

Perhaps my inability to engage in conversation comes from my inability to complete a sentence without the interruption of a song, request for a snack, need for a bike ride, request to set up a tent, and so on. Not that I'm complaining. I'd much rather camp out in the living room with 3B, Eeyore and George than listen to myself blather.

It would be nice, however, to occasionally hear from other folks, but Mama and I have learned that we can tag team conversations and piece them together later. This came in handy at dinner at our favorite Ethiopian place last night.

I spent the first half following 3B up and down the stairs while Mama chatted with her friend and her
fiancé, then we swapped roles for the second half of the meal. I make it sound worse than it was. 3B actually spent a fair amount of time sitting with us and talking, eating his dinner and playing his new pink recorder, which we bought at a shop down the street while waiting.

He also charmed the waitresses from the moment he walked in. When they learned his name, which is popular in Ethiopia and is the name of one of the waitresses' older brother, they really took a liking to him. When the waitress whose brother shares 3B's name saw how I was walking up and down the steps with him as the others ate, she called him over and had him help her out by taking sugar packets out of the box they were in, then put them back in. She continued to chat with him throughout our meal, making 3B and us happy.

After dinner, as we walked down the street to our cars, we detoured through Maggie Moo's for some ice cream. 3B got his usual--vanilla with rainbow sprinkles--and then charmed the server with his polite "thank you" and his laugh of exhilaration. But, of course, as soon as 3B had his cone in hand, he walked back to the toppings display, slapped his hand on the glass and declared, "I want gummy bears." Repeatedly.

The server was watching 3B and laughing as he prepared my cone--I got Heath bars folded in, so it took a minute--and after he handed me my cone and we were walking away, the server called me back and handed me a cup lid with two dozen gummy bears in it for 3B.

After evening like that, with good friends and around friendly people, like our waitress and ice cream server, my faith in humanity is restored. I feel like we are all in this thing together, supporting one another.

And as we said our goodbyes to Mama's friend and her
fiancé, 3B walked around the circle of us and gave us each a big hug--you know, on our thighs, since that's as high as he can reach.

3B gets it. He's in this thing with us too.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Running through planes

Our BabyCenter update for this week started with these words:

The network of nerves in your baby's ears is better developed and more sensitive than before.
Which means that we picked the perfect week to take her to the Joint Services Open House, aka the Thunderbirds air show. Now, I've heard some pretty loud T-birds before--they were backing up Bob Dylan at the Pantages in LA, but those guys had nothing on the birds we saw this weekend.

How loud was it? Hide your head in Mommy's lap loud.
Flight demo and a look from Mama

OK, that's not entirely fair. He did that for a short time before they even took off, and that may have been related more to his lack of a nap than the upcoming din. During the show, he was parked on my lap, with earplugs in place and my hands over his ears. I would peel my hands back a bit to let him know to look to the left or right, and after awhile, he would peel my hands back and tell me to look left or right.

Close, and cute, so we'll ignore the fact that he was unclear on the concept.

Honestly, most of day was spent running up and down ramps. The C5 was 3B's favorite because he could run up the back, through the plane and down the ramp out front as long as they had the nose cone open.
A boy who loves planes

Since Mama is more pregnant than I am, I was on chase duty all day, which was actually pretty fun. For not taking a nap and being in a loud, strange, weird place all day with few food options available, 3B did very well, only getting frustrated a couple of times. I didn't do so badly myself, given that I was operating in the same conditions.

And about that food--the boy is going to need to start liking pizza if he expects to get anything vegetarian to eat at carnie-food events like this. According to a random announcement in the middle of the day, there was a healthy food option somewhere on the grounds, but the closest we could find was the curly fries booth, which 3B was happy with as well.

After all the helicopters and planes, we settled in under the wing of yet another plane for the show. I would have taken pictures, but my hands were full of toddler ears. Besides, if you want to see the Thunderbirds, Google them yourself. Others have taken far better pictures than I could have.

Of course, one of the best parts of the day came on the way out: the moon bounce, which was run by a woman who appeared to be Gollum's mother. She terrified me, but had no effect on 3B, who ignored her with extreme prejudice, as only a two-year old can do, and went on bouncing.
Airborne again

Moon bounce!

Then it was time to start moving toward home, which meant retracing our steps: walk the length of the runway, catch a shuttle ride to FedEx Field where we parked our car, and then drive the 45 minutes home.

Along the way we had to stop to examine items of interest, such as the rubber between concrete blocks on the runway.
Look, a crack in the concrete!

And another helicopter.
The view from on top

Detours like these are why we get started well before we need to get anywhere--if we plan ahead. But we did eventually make it onto that shuttle bus.
"This was your bright idea, Papa."

Yes, pregnant Mama is carrying our sleepy boy. In my defense, he asked for her and note from the camera angle that I was standing, while she was sitting and I was also carrying the stroller.

OK, none of that makes a bit of difference after Mama spent a full day trooping around behind her two boys while her baby girl to be was making her foot bones feel as if they were rubbing on each other with every step she took. Mama had this periodically when she was pregnant with 3B too. It's as unpredictable as the cramps she gets in her belly at times when she's walking.

So, I probably deserve that look she's giving me, even if she does admit that 3B did have some fun.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

There's a tick on my back! Oh wait, maybe not...

This morning was like any other until I found a tick on my back while I was in the shower at work after riding my bike in. I woke up at 6 as always, started making breakfast for Mama and myself, did my pushups and the ab workout from hell (courtesy of Michael David) on the living room carpet, walked the dog, changed into my bike clothes, packed up my panniers and headed out for work.

Everything was normal on my ride, although my chain keeps skipping off the cassette when I'm accelerating from a dead stop or powering up a hill. I think it's a stuck link, but I haven't had the time to confirm or take it to Spokes to find out. I thought about our fun weekend at the air show, how many blog posts I've written during these bike commutes, only to forget as soon as I arrive at work--not to mention all the bikeus I've lost along the way.

At work everything was normal too. I said good morning to everyone in the locker room--that's been one weird thing about my new job at an environmental organization: being with lots of fellow bike commuters, rather than being the only one. Then I was thinking through my upcoming day as I showered when I suddenly felt a large lump on my back.

My mind immediately went to our recent camping trip. Shit! I have a tick. I felt around it some more. Correction: Shit! I have the mother of all ticks! On my back! I'm in the shower at work, which is the size of a toothpick box. Shit! So I pulled on it to see if it was really attached--but crap, this thing was so large, I was sure it was bolted on pretty good. It felt totally engorged.

I gave one final tug and it popped off in my hand. I didn't even think--I just brought it around to look at it and came face to face with an adhesive jewel that 3B had peeled off of the Mother's Day frame he made for Mama at school, then dropped on the living room carpet. I must have lay down on it to do my ab workout and ground it into my back, so it was pretty well fixed on there.

Needless to say, that wiped the brilliant blog post I'd written on the ride from my mind. Good news for all six of you loyal readers, I suppose.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Defeating global warming and brain tumors

You can see on the map below how I'm doing both of those tomorrow. My ride takes me through a WABA-sponsored pit stop for Bike-to-Work Day and it's part of my training for my brain tumor ride.

And it's almost double the length of my normal commute route, so I need to get to bed so I'll have enough energy to make it to work.

It's funny, this ride makes me think of Princess Bride, tweaked a little...

"Good luck saving the world!"
"Do you think it'll work?"
"Not a chance."
"Bye bye."
"Bye bye."
Good night, Gracie.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What are words for when no one listens anymore?

According to BabyCenter, our little two-and-three-quarters-year-old boy

  • Knows about 200 words by 24 months and 450 words by 30 months.
  • Uses two words together by 24 months and three- to four-word sentences by 36 months.
  • Sings songs and knows a nursery rhyme or two.
I think they got their numbers a little confused. He's speaking in paragraphs of what seems like 200 words, and knows about 450 songs, all of which he sings in a running concert all day long.

And all of which we have to sing to him after we put him in his crib every night.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Want a free dog?

Do you live in Boston? Will you be there on the night of May 30? Do you want a free dog for one night only? He's only gently used and slightly neurotic. OK, so he may barf and bleed, but really, he's very sweet.

Just kidding, of course, we're going to have him sleep in our car. And no, I'm not kidding about that.

We've been trying to figure out our whirlwind tour of New England which involves my bike ride, a trip to Grammy's farm and Liberal Banana's wedding. While we're happy that Auntie Banana is getting married and all, it really puts a crimp in our plans because she won't be available to dogsit for us...I know, right? The nerve.

We're fine for most of the trip except that one night before the ride, when we're staying in a hotel that doesn't accept dogs--and they don't share Barky's belief that he's a person. Yes, he made me ask.

But, we checked the average temps in Boston for that time of year, and it seems that he should be fine in the car overnight. Besides, he loves being in the car. In fact, whenever we've moved with him--and next time we do, we might have another dog giveaway--we've put him in the cab of the truck while we loaded and unloaded.

Before we put him in the truck, he was bolting out the door, panting, whining, jumping on us, sitting in moving boxes and generally making us wish we had a cat--and I'm deathly allergic to them. But he happily slept in the cab of the truck for endless hours once he got there.

And he sleeps all the way to Grammy's farm, which is a 10-hour trip at best. So, we'll just tell him this is a layover on the way to Grammy's, and he'll be fine. I mean, c'mon, it's springtime in Boston0--what's the worst that could happen?

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Don't try this at home

Last night, since 3B didn't get up from his nap until after 5:30, we decided that we had enough time to run a few errands with him. So after he half-heartedly ate dinner, we decided to go to our local bike shop and Target.

I know, two errands in two hours with one two-year-old...what were we thinking?

The bike shop was easy. Too easy. 3B ran from the car all the way to the store and as we walked--well, as I walked and he ran ahead, pulling on my hand--along the display windows to the door, he was saying, "There's the bike store. There are the bikes. I'm going to ride that one."

Mama was behind us, saying, "Great. Now there's two of you."

Inside, he hopped right on that bike he saw in the window--a pink bike with a white basket and shiny tassels on the handlebars. He immediately learned the first lesson of bike selection: if the bike don't fit, you must quit riding it. He hopped off that and settled in on a nice tricycle, with some encouragement from Mama. After that, it was off to the races while I tried to remember everything we came for and find it.

Did you know that an average width retail aisle is the perfect width for a tricycle to race down? Now you do, and so do we. As 3B did laps in his shiny pink racing helmet, with a brief break to ogle the repair shop and all the tools...mmm, tools...shiny, shiny tools...I scooped up what we needed and checked out.

Then we had to extract 3B from his personal head-in-the-honey-jar experience. Remember how I said it was too easy to get into the bike shop? There we were, without any bribes other than a trip to Target, which is not nearly as exciting as racing around a bike shop.

We tried moving in small steps. To extract him from the trike, I offered to let him ride on Lance's bike--they had an Astana-colored Trek there. No dice. How about a ride on Levi's bike? No dice. Perhaps I should have offered Bobby Julich, even though he doesn't have a team bike anymore, but I thought Levi might work since 3B was alternating personalities between Levi and Bobby as he raced through the store.

What worked was offering to fly him on my shoulders past all of the mountain bikes on the upper rack. But that only got him off the trike, not actually onto my shoulders.

At that point, our guardian angel, in the form of a bike shop employee, rolled down the ramp from the repair shop to park a bike in the display rack and saved us by saying, "If you stay here any longer, we're going to close the shop and you'll be the only one here."

With that, 3B was up on my shoulders and ready to fly out the door. All the way to Target, he sat in the backseat ringing his new pink bike bell and asking, "Where's Target?" until we finally got there.

Target was easier, since we could restrain him in the shopping cart, and 3B helped out from his perch by reminding us as we rolled past the dog food that we were going to pick some up for Barky. I'm glad that one of our brains hasn't been stolen by the baby. Mama did roll her eyes at me when I lifted him out of the cart to play a little aisle baseball, but c'mon, who can resist smacking a home run down an aisle at Target?

Apparently, not Mama's boys.

Then it was a quick trip home with a sleepy boy who suddenly--of course--was full of energy as soon as we got home, even though it was already 9:00 when we walked through the door. Suffice it to say that we read stories, brushed teeth and sang songs as quickly as we could. Although he loves to sound out words with us because apparently he's going to be able to read--read? wasn't it last week that he couldn't eat solid food?--we skipped over that part. We did introduce his fun new kid flosser though. Hey, at least one of us will floss.

We gave up on Barky; he kept swallowing the floss.

Then we got angry at our DVR which failed to record Dancing with the Stars just as it failed to record Castle last night. Somehow it always records everything on PBS, however. I think we may have a snooty DVR that thinks commercial channels are below it. Fortunately, we were able to reboot it in time to see the end of the show, but WTF? I mean, WTF? I like the cowboy and all, but WTF?

But by that time it was too late for Mama and I to wonder about much, especially since we hadn't enjoyed a three-hour nap, so we went to bed.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

OK, so long as he's not inspired to get a nose job and a chin cleft

Mama just wrote to me that as she was listening to the monitor to see if 3B had fallen asleep yet after half an hour in his crib--as of two minutes ago, he had not--she heard him singing

"Come on, girl!"
"I think I loooove you!"

Yeah, so I guess we did listen to the Jackson 5 a little bit this weekend.

Hey, we're working on sounding out words with 3B, so it's part of his curriculum to review the alphabet, right?

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Like a virgin, again

I'm not quite sure what to say about the announcement from Virgin America that they will now serve absinthe.

Given that they also have wifi on many flights, including my upcoming flight to California, I suppose what I should say is that you've been warned. I have to admit that I'm a bit sad that they'll be serving it in mixed drinks, so I'll miss the slotted spoon and water bottle ritual, but I suppose I'll survive that deprivation.

I would explain my history with absinthe in Barcelona with Mama, but our children might someday read this blog. Besides, if Virgin is willing to provide street performers, schooners of beer as long as my leg and an endless supply of tapas, everything should be fine.

As best I can recall.

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