Saturday, March 13, 2010

What's the point?

Yesterday, one of my two best friends texted me that the third in our trio may come to visit him in NYC for the Iron Man 2 opening.

Yes, both my best friends are comic book geeks. Then again, I'm an all-around geek, so they have me beat on all other fronts.

I called to see if this threatened visit was more likely to happen than some of the past visits that were threatened but never made. And I, of course, ended up talking to my best friend's lovely wife.

She was a bit miffed that she's not recognized as one of my six regular readers and also worried that I keep referring to Jewel as hefty, which will lead to body image issues later. I reminded my friend's wife, as the psychiatrist that she is, that even if I didn't do this, Jewel would blame me later--if not for body image issues, then for something (or everything) else. Besides, I don't call her hefty, I call her husky.

The reality is that 3B was as husky as Jewel is. We just make big kids. What's slightly different, and amusing to me, is how sensitive everyone is when you say that your girl is big or pudgy or fat or husky--a euphemism coined to avoid all those other disparaging terms, which has itself become a term of disparagement. But if you mention that your boy is big or pudgy or fat or husky, nobody minds. In fact, people celebrate it.

And, let's face it, this goes on throughout life. Big boys are celebrated, even though it's just as unhealthy and unattractive to be a big boy as it is to be a twiggy girl. Obesity and anorexia are two sides of the same coin, and it's time to stop using asinine euphemisms for men who are nothing more than fat--he's not stocky, he's not mostly muscle, he's fat. It's not attractive, and it's deadly. We need to stop being so sensitive about referring to everyone's weight--it's not doing any of us any favors. Women are dying from it at astonishing rates, but so are men.

And, boys, if fear of death isn't enough to motivate you...I know, I know, you'll never die--you're still 18, can drink a bottle of Jack in 15 minutes, and can still eat a bag of chips before halftime...then you should be shamed into shaping up by the boom in male breast reduction surgery.

So, while I know that the good doctor's concern is well-intentioned, I'm also hoping that by talking more openly about all body image issues--for boys and girls--that we'll help Jewel and her brother avoid problems.

And yes, I'm hoping they have some sense of humor about it. If not, don't worry, I'll modify those posts. There's nothing I wouldn't do for my girl and boy.

As for not being recognized as one of my six loyal readers, good doctor, I think you're on the map now. The reality is that plenty of people read this blog, including my mother in law, most of my siblings, my aunts, some cousins, coworkers and some internet-only friends. Writing that I only have six readers is a way of poking fun at this blog and at myself. It's a reminder that this blog is not one that's going to allow me to quit my day job, like some.

That's not the point of this blog.

The point was from the beginning to share with my family our life as a family back here, since they're all still way out there on the left coast. When I started, I was primarily interested in sharing it with Mom, who was the information hub for the family. However, although she was a regular reader--and would print posts for my sister who didn't have internet access at the time--Mom died a few months after I got started. Turns out that as a family we figured out how to reconnect our information network, and we all rewired a little bit, so now my siblings read directly--as I read the blogs they write.

Through Facebook even more family have been connected to the blog, but the point remains the same--give a window into our lives. Although I drift into politics, this isn't a political blog. Although I voice opinions that I'm sure others don't appreciate, this isn't an op-ed blog. What this is, despite the language I use, is a family blog. The point is for all of us--family or friends--to stay in touch, to communicate, to see each other as much as the innernets makes that possible.

My firm belief is that if any two people, no matter how dissimilar they may seem, talk for five minutes, they'll find something that they have in common. And through that one item, they'll find that they have an affinity for each other. Given enough time and enough communication, these two people will inevitably find other items and a deeper appreciation for each other.

And that's the point of this blog--to stay connected so that we can stay together and remember that we're all in this thing called life together.

(Judging by your reaction to it, good doctor, it seems to have achieved that goal...if only you could get my best friend, your husband, to break away from the comic book sales on eBay long enough to check it out, perhaps it would work with him too.)

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hard headed and hot headed

There I was, flat on my ass, having just watched Jewel's head hit the living room floor. I was stunned and pissed as hell.

More than anything, I wanted to kick our m'er-f'in oblong yoga ball through our sliding glass door and off our 7th floor balcony...well, more than almost anything.

What I wanted more than anything was to get Jewel to stop crying.

It started around midnight, after Mama fed her and put her back in her bassinet next to our bed. Jewel drifted off for a short time, then lost her pacifier, then couldn't quite get settled, and just kept fussing.

In the recent past, Jewel would have been in bed with us and Mama would have rolled over and popped a boob in her mouth to soothe her back to sleep. But we're done with that of a week or so ago. When Jewel was smaller and eating about every five minutes anyway, it did no harm. Now, however, she should be going longer between feedings and sleeping for longer periods of time--for her sake and ours, particularly Mama's.

So, I finally got up and lifted her out of the bassinet. Because I don't have a boob to pop into her mouth, my only option was to fall back to what I used to do to get her to sleep--bounce her on the yoga ball. I'd seen this moment coming, so I'd moved the ball into the living room, so I could soothe Jewel back to sleep without disturbing Mama further.

The only thing about our ball is that it's ovoid, which means that it doesn't sit still. So, holding an increasingly fussy Jewel, I rolled it out to a place where I could bounce on it, and then double-checked to ensure it hadn't rolled away from me--this wasn't my first parade. However, when I went to sit on it, it had shifted far enough away that I ended up flat on my ass.

Instinctively, as I went down, my arms shot out to counterbalance my backward fall. Unfortunately, however, my arms were also full of fussy--and now falling--Jewel. I recovered in enough time that her head really only lightly hit the floor from about an inch up. Honestly, she's headbutted my clavicle harder than that, so I wasn't worried--plus she was on the carpet, which has a good pad under it.

But I was still pissed.

Perhaps not as pissed as Mama, who when I told her this morning, vowed to stab the ball with a butcher knife, light it on fire and throw it off the balcony.

And not quite as pissed as Jewel, who was probably fussing because of her new tooth coming in, and who probably snapped her gums together when she landed, causing her new tooth to hurt even more. I couldn't quite make out what she was screaming, but I think I did pick out the words "off the balcony."

Turns out she is our child after all.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Screaming nights

Last night I was laying on the couch, flipping through Facebook and watching Castle when I heard screaming from one of our bedrooms. Mama and Jewel were in our room while 3B was in his room. We have a monitor camera in both rooms, but I had the monitor off since Mama was in with Jewel, and generally 3B sleeps soundly through the night.

I jumped off the couch, ran back and threw open the door to our bedroom. I didn't think that Mama wasn't aware of Jewel's screaming, just that she might need some help...and that I wanted to know what was going on.

But Mama and Jewel were both sound asleep.

I pivoted to my left, threw open 3B's door and ran to his bed. He was curled in the middle of his bed, screaming and sobbing, likely still asleep. One side of his body and face were flushed, and he responded to my questions and comfort with more screaming and sobbing. I rubbed his back, curled around him and just kept telling him that it was OK, that I was there, that I loved him, and so forth.

Quickly, Mama came in and we sandwiched 3B between us until he finally settled back into sleep, although I don't believe that he ever fully woke up while he was upset.

Our best guesses are that he overheated--which is why he was flushed on one side--and that he had a nightmare about plagues. Mama said that since learning the plague song, 3B's expressed fears of the plagues at random times throughout the day. He's also been expressing fear of getting new teeth.

This is likely the result of watching his sister get her first tooth, which either coincided with or caused a cold. I'm guessing from her rasping cough that she got the cold from me...but, in any case, she was pretty miserable for a few days there.

3B handled it well, tolerating the crying and coughing and general fussiness, but it obviously affected him. Jewel also handled it well, alternating crying, coughing and fussing with bouts of radiant delight, punctuated with beautiful smiles. Fortunately, her second tooth seems to be coming in much more easily.

In fact, as we've been having her sleep in her bassinet next to our bed rather than in our bed, she's been sleeping better--if better is defined as "for longer periods of time." Last night she went a whole four hours between feedings. Yes, we know that kids her age should be going close to twice that long, but we're happy for what progress we're making.

As for 3B's fear of teeth, it didn't help that he watched a Tigger and Pooh episode about Darby losing a tooth, but we've also explained that when his adult teeth come in, it won't hurt. Here's hoping that's the case...otherwise we're in for a lot of long nights of screaming.

I'm working to make cancer history. Will you help me?

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Plague Song

"Daddy, what is a plague?"

Ah, it must be time for Passover.

3B asked both Mama and I this question yesterday. Kudos to us: we both gave about the same answer. Bonus points to Mama who tied plague into my upcoming cancer ride. 3B also gets bonus points for remembering two of the plagues: blood and frogs. He refers to the former as "when the river turned red," which is more than enough detail for his age.

So it was that yesterday, while we were at the Post Office to get Jewel's passport, 3B and I kept the lobby entertained with a dialogue about the plagues and what caused them. For the record, it was all Pharaoh's fault. He "made people build things" and kept telling Moses "no." Apparently there's also a plague song to make this easier to remember.

Of course, if you don't know that song, Depeche Mode summarizes pretty well, even if it only explicitly covers the fourth plague.

I'm working to make cancer history. Will you help me?

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Cats with thumbs

Living with a three-year-old is like living with a cat with thumbs.

Today, 3B called Mama out to the living room to show her that he had sprayed milk all over the couch.

To him, this was a thing of beauty.

He'd also managed to hit the entertainment center, floor, blankets and the West Wing second season box set. Perhaps that last was a commentary on how white the cast was.

Mama, who reacts better to these things than I do and therefore didn't instinctively exclaim, "Gah! What is this?!" She told 3B that while it looked nice, we try not to put food on the couch to keep bugs away. She's the good parent.

On the flip side, three days ago, 3B wrote his first word. OK, the word was "NO," and he was in time out when he did it, but still...Mama walked in and recognized it immediately. But, to ensure it wasn't the random product of 100 monkeys with chalk, she asked 3B what it was. He confirmed it...then started deconstructing and examining it..."Well, this is an 'a' and this line here is a..."

Jewel's been breaking things down too, like her bottom gums. As of yesterday, she had her first tooth, on her lower left.

While I'm always excited by any new developments, I know what comes shortly after teeth...and I'm not sure I'm ready for two cats with thumbs.

I'm working to make cancer history. Will you help me?

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