Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bradstein Household has moved

Thanks to weeks of hard work on the part of my brilliant cousin and her brilliant brother, I now have a new home with a grown up URL

So, update your bookmarks in case you need to know where to go to borrow a cup of sugar.

Updated: Subscribe to my feed - same feed address as before

If you subscribe via email (you get every post emailed to you), you'll have to go to the new blog at least once to subscribe to the new blog. Look on the right side for the section entitled Subscribe via email, which is just above the I'm a twit! section.

Yes, I'm still a twit, so if you want to keep up with not only the blog but also every random firing of both of my neurons

We're still hanging pictures and settling in to our new digs, and as we do, please let me know how you like it by leaving a comment. And if you don't like it, please let me know by subscribing two people you really dislike to my feed.

As always, thanks for hanging out with us.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Two, going on teenager

Jewel, earlier today, to Mama: I don't love you. I love Daddy!

Jewel, five minutes ago, to Mama: No, Mommy! I don't want Daddy to read me a bedtime story! I don't like Daddy.

...and in 12 years, she'll be all up in our grill about how we love 3B more than we love her and are always playing favorites and how life's not fair.


Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Frankie says...

What did Mama and I do without the kids for 24 hours? Pretty much the same thing we did on our honeymoon.

That's right, we lay in bed and read books.

Why? What were you thinking?

OK, we did do other things on our honeymoon like lie on the red sand beach and read books. And lie on the white sand beach and read books. Of course we rode our bikes around too. Oh sure, we also went out to eat and drink. And drink some more. And send some drunken, kids, there was no twitter back then. Oh the horror, right?

At any rate, this weekend was wonderful. We went to a wedding of a friend and colleague and decided to stay overnight after the reception, so the kids got a sleepover with their babysitter, which they were psyched about. The wedding was beautiful, and they even got all their photos in before the rain came.

And then Mama and I got to sleep in...all the way until 8. Seriously, if you'd told me when I was 16 that I'd consider sleeping until 8 a.m. sleeping in, I'd have punched you in the face. But now, anybody who lets me sleep in until 8 is on my Christmas card and birthday party lists.

While we were driving back home, we realized that we felt a little strange. Maybe we'd slept too long? Perhaps three whole drinks at the reception was too much? What if finishing a chapter in one sitting was too much for our brains? Maybe it was allergies? A spring cold? Avian flu?

And then we figured it out: we were relaxed.

No wonder we didn't recognize the feeling; it has been almost six years since we last felt it. Fortunately for us, the kids immediately recognized our discomfort and within the first two minutes in the car erased that feeling entirely.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Making everything as simple as possible. But not simpler.

Jewel in the bathroom, yesterday:

First, I put the stool there. Then, I get on the stool. Then, I turn on the light. Then, I turn on the water. Then I get the soap and wash my hands. Then I turn off the water. Then I go over here and wipe my hands on all these towels. That's my system.
What's a system?
A system is...[pause]...a really tasty candy.
As Mama said, she obviously knows what a system is, but can't explain it yet.'re two and you already have a system for washing your hands. I believe there's a school that's interested in you already.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Space Shuttle Discovery buzzes DC

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

In case you live under a rock, or outside the Beltway, which appear the same to most people in D.C., let me be the first to tell you that the Space Shuttle Discovery flew over Washington, D.C. piggybacked on its 747 carrier.

If you don't follow me on twitter or had to work or aren't fascinated by every thought that flits through my tiny brain, which all appear the same to me, let me be the first to tell you that we went out to watch it.

We started off with the best intentions of leaving at 8.30 to get to our first choice of viewing area at 9. Unfortunately for us, half on Northern Virginia left at about 6.30 to get there, so by the time we left at 9 and arrived a 9.30, it was already overflowing. Once we were there, the next exit was to DC, so rather than double back toward home, which was our original fallback plan, we mushed on into DC.

Mush describes the traffic we hit pretty accurately.

We thought that we'd have to watch the flyover from our car, stuck on 14th Street. Mama suggested we roll back the sunroof and push the kids up through it so they could see it. However, we made it through in time to park at the Reagan Building, run over to the Mall and spread our blankets at the foot of the Washington Monument. As soon as our blankets were down, people started pointing north, toward a rather large speck in the sky.

By then I'd figured out that our power inverter in the car hadn't charged the battery for our real camera enough for it to take pictures, so I pulled out my iPhone and started...waiting for the camera app to load...then to switch to camera from video...then to focus...right! I was saying, I then started to take pictures.

As I did, applause, cheers and joyful whoops rang out across the Mall. Looking around, everyone was as delighted and amazed as my kids would be to walk into Dunkin Donuts with a $10 bill. In fact, 3B and Jewel were both that delighted and amazed to see the Space Shuttle as well.

For each of the passes overhead, the fascination and excitement continued. It seemed that for a long moment, DC paused. Everyone appeared to be outside, looking up at the sky, grinning. The Mall was not body-to-body, but it was crowded. Sidewalks were full of people going nowhere, standing and gazing skyward. Rooftops all around us crawled with the silhouettes of people who had emerged from their offices to stand under the sun and become part of the crowd far below.

And in that crowd, in between passes, there was plenty of snacking and running about. In fact, after the last pass, a two-year-old boy walking by asked if he could run around with us, so we ended up staying for another half hour or so, tearing around the lawn, playing tag, monster chase and laughing and having a good time.

OK, except that one time Jewel fell and bit her upper lip. That sucked. But five minutes later she was back at it with the rest of us boys.

By the time we got back to the car, I was getting pinged from work to post to our intranet for our employees the photos our photographers had taken of the flyover, so I spent the ride home monitoring email and having Mama send my replies on my iPhone. As soon as we arrived home, I sat straight down and didn't leave that chair until two and a half hours and one unrelated conference call later, I'd gotten everything on our intranet in order.

Perhaps that seems like a long time, but I was working at lightning speed...just with systems that are byzantine, finicky and sluggish. Fortunately for you, my colleague also posted them to our public site via flickr, so you can enjoy for yourself a little of what it looked and felt like here, even if you do live outside the known world Beltway.

(browse the set or view the slideshow)
Close up of the U.S. Capitol Dome and Shuttle Discovery

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Carnies, Civil War, Ricky Nelson, Swings, Kite, Picnic

The weekend started with a visit to our local dead mall to visit the carnies who come through twice a year...well, really to go on their rides and eat their food on a stick. We were successful on all counts. We started on the Dutch Wheel...don't call this one a Ferris, no, no. There was some big sign explaining the name, but I didn't go to the carnival to read a history book, so who knows what it said.

We almost ended on the Dutch Wheel as well, since they left us on it for about 37 hours. Even the kids were begging to get off. I'm not sure how we got off, although there might have been some bribery involved and 3B might have had to go back at midnight Sunday night to help tear down the carnival.

After that there was some climbing, bouncing and sliding in the Indiana Jones adventure and some nose banging in the mirror maze. We also rode the carousel, with Jewel marveling over the cam shaft that made her horse go up and down and 3B congratulating his horse, Old Paint, for doing a great job, even though they came in second. We wrapped up with some pink (for him) and blue (for her) cotton candy. The few pics I took in my twitter feed. Look for April 13.

Since we had the kids good and tired, and since Mama and I were tired and cranky from being bread-deprived, we decided to start off Saturday with a trip to a Civil War battlefield. The kids got in the spirit by sniping at each other the whole way there. Once we arrived, however, they spent a long time talking with some Confederate soldiers who were there...OK, reenactors, but don't tell the kids.

OK, so 3B spent a long time talking to the soldiers while Jewel mostly hid her face and walked away. He got to hold a gun and learned how to load it, learned about their spotted papers, and heard all about the food they ate.

We met friends there who live nearby and they told us that they've never seen reenactors there before, so it was special for all of us, especially at noon when they did a rifle demonstration. Before that, however, we inspected cannons, marched over to the railroad cut and inspected and found sticks and other scientific samples. 3B and our friends' boy were on the same wavelength in regards to science and war...and probably parents, although we didn't hear those discussions.

The two-year-old girls were on the same wavelength about being two.

On our way back to the farmhouse, we hear the rifles, and were able to see a volley through the trees and one up close. Then it was time to have a snack--actually, lunch for the kids and wood chips and small stones for those of us still on the South Beach Diet--and head home for (a late) nap time for Jewel, so she could get rested up for a friend's birthday party. Theoretically, the party was supposed to happen inside, but when we arrived, our friends' kids were outside and we agreed to keep them all out there where we had a fair chance of wearing them down before the did the same to us.

The next morning, after a few running battles between 3B and Jewel, we again packed up the clown car and took our show on the road. This time it was a short trip across town to what we call the sand playground. We met another friend there, tried to fly a kite, successfully swung and generally frolicked about for several hours.

Now that we were all exhausted, especially Mama and I, who were still subsisting on wood chips and small stones, it was time for them to go home and me to go walk through strangers' houses, opening their kitchen drawers and closet doors. Yes, we're looking to move, so I was going through open houses.

On the one hand it's sort of fun to imagine what it would be like to live in a new house, and on the other hand it's terrifying to think of moving. Overall, though, we're all looking forward to having more space and a yard--which means the kids can finally get a dog and a cat.

So far, we've narrowed our search from the tri-state area down to a few neighborhoods that have the commute time and the quality schools we want. Now we're looking more closely at what kinds of homes are in each 'hood and what sub-hood exist within each. We're hoping that when Mom's place sells, we'll be locked and loaded and ready to buy that dream house when it finally does appear before us.

Or, you know, the one next door that needs some work, but that we can afford.

While I was out chatting about square feet and nearby grocery stores, Mama packed the kids up and took them out for a picnic dinner. What can I say? She has far more energy than I do. Then again, she's much younger. And while they were finishing that off, I bought some suits, which was also probably a punishment for sins of a past life, although this was a mercifully short trip.

Now I just have to wait three weeks while they tailor them. Three weeks? Can't you just tweet them to me?

After that we all took a nice long winter's spring's nap...until midnight, when I had to drive 3B over to help tear down the carnival.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Flat on my face, learning how to walk

I love taking advice from people who have made mistakes, because anyone who has never fallen down can't really teach you how to walk.

I'd like to offer some advice in that vein. Please bear in mind that free advice is worth what you pay for it and is not as much fun as free love or free beer (although with those you sometimes end up paying quite a bit later, so perhaps the comparison isn't fair).

My favorite bit of free advice comes from the woman who said that if you don't know what soap tastes like, you've never bathed a dog, and my first bit of free advice is along the same lines

If you want to stay dry, don't allow your kids to shower together when they're both in a mood to take on the world. Last night's shower went from howling laughter to bawling tears and back again in under 20 seconds. So, I guess the advice also holds that if you don't want emotional whiplash, don't do this either.

On the upside, the kids mostly had a blast, and are continuing to figure out both how to play with each other and how to push each other's buttons. Not like they needed much help with the latter, but they did hone some skills.

OK, did I just compare my kids to our former dog? Sure, with the one difference being that they don't shed as much. OK, and they don't stand sullen in the tub, tail tucked between their legs, whining until the bath is over when they leap out of the tub, sprint around the room and spray water on everything while drying off.

OK, there are a few differences. On to my second bit of free advice.

If you don't want to get nauseous and exhausted, don't start the South Beach Diet while riding your bike 125 miles per week. Not without some modifications, that is.

Although I'm heavier than I'd like to be, I didn't start--restart, since Mama and I went through this wringer five or so years ago--the SBD to lose weight. I did it to get myself back to basics: less sugar, less processed food, more fruits and veggies, more whole grain and more attention to what I eat in general.

Some parts of my diet haven't changed a bit. I still have an egg for breakfast, although I add spinach to it now, and I have a large salad for lunch, although in phase 1, without berries. For dinner we've been eating different dishes than we typically do, but the contents aren't radically different.

What's changed is that there's, for example, no rice to go with that entree at dinner. No apple with that salad. No bagel with that egg. And it turns out that when you're exercising as much as I am, those little bits of sugar add up into something your body calls energy.

A few nights ago, after reading 3B his bedtime stories at about 7.30, he asked me to snuggle up with him. At about 10.30 I crawled off his bed and into my own. I had crashed and felt like I couldn't move. Then, on top of the fatigue, I started to get bouts of nausea during the afternoon and evening.

Finally, at work yesterday morning, just so I could lift my head off the desk and perform basic functions like keeping my eyes open, I ate an apple, which made a world of difference almost immediately.

Then I did what anyone serious about their health will do--googled around for an answer (we got rid of the original book years ago, keeping only the recipe book). Searching on "SBD phase 1 exercise" did the trick. I learned that it's OK to eat some oatmeal or yogurt before a workout to get that sugar into my system. And that has made all the difference. I'm still somewhat tired and get twinges of the nausea, but I can basically function.

All thanks to someone who went before me and made the same mistake I did of exercising regularly while in phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. So I should be able to make it through this next week and into phase 2 without stealing bagels from my kids' plates.

Although I might throw those bagels at those kids if they behave that way in the shower again.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

If you give a cat a book...he might learn something

3B has long been fascinated by war. Well, war-related topics, really.

It started back when we took him to a local farm-team baseball game, which started, of course, with the Star-Spangled Banner. He'd been to other events that did too, but in the smaller venue of the farm team bleachers, it was much more striking to him. And he asked, innocently enough, "What's the Star-Spangled Banner?"

In the manner of If You Give a Cat a Cupcake... the questions followed...
  • Why did we fight the British?
  • Who won? (Well, we don't speak English today, do we? Er...waitaminnit.)
  • Who was George Washington? (I have to admit that initially I told him it described the Revolutionary War before I remembered it was from the War of 1812.)
  • Who was the British General?
  • Why didn't we want a king? (Also related to my Revolutionary War misinformation)
  • Why did we want a president? (See previous)
  • Why did the British burn our Capitol?
  • ...and our White House?
  • Where's Fort McHenry?
And with that last one, we were off to Fort McHenry. (Yes, we did also visit the actual banner at the Smithsonian, but c'mon, that doesn't hold a candle to a fort with cannons and guns and soldiers...OK, reenactors dressed as soldiers.)

That, of course, brought on more questions about cannons, forts and so forth.

Just two nights ago, 3B picked out for a bedtime story a book that is an illustrated version of the Star-Spangled Banner--every verse of it. The illustrations also, of course, lead to more questions about the items and places pictured: boats, Bunker Hill, British soldiers, etc.

Along the way, we've explained that war means killing, but that hasn't really sunk in with 3B. First, death is hard to understand. Second, trying to kill someone else is likely incomprehensible to him. Finally, killing at that scale is definitely incomprehensible to him. But, we don't want to sugarcoat it, so when the conversation leads there, we explain it. That plants a seed that will later grow into more questions.

But sometimes what's incomprehensible at a baseball game or a fort or in a game of 20 questions with your parents is made all too clear through a narrative. 3B's recently been really into the Magic Treehouse books, and the last time we went to the library he picked out another dozen or so to read. Two nights ago, Mama read through the book on the Civil War with him.

In that book, Jack and Annie end up at a Civil War battlefield, helping Clara Barton and the other nurses and doctors tend to the wounded and dying. Jack, who had always thought war was cool, learns that it's not...and so did 3B. Last night, when I asked him which book he wanted to read at bedtime, I offered the Civil War book up, and he replied to the effect that war is cruel and bloody and terrible.

So he chose to read the Magic Treehouse book about knights and castles...oh man, we may never go to the Renaissance Faire again.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cough drops = love

Jewel loves cough drops.

Before you call child protective services, screaming about choking hazards, inappropriate medication and an over-mentholated child, let me explain.

This allergy season has been a terrible one for me for some reason. Perhaps because spring came during winter and everything that normally blooms from April through June bloomed in March. Whatever the reason, I've been congested and sniffling and hacking for weeks now, especially at night.

Since Jewel still sleeps in our room, on my side of the bed, which puts her about 36 inches from my stuffed head, that means that any night I spend coughing, I spend on the couch.

As much as I love our couch, I'd much rather go to a bed when I go to bed. So, just before bedtime, I dose myself up and then spread out a half dozen cough drops on my bedside table. This is the same table that Jewel lies next to when we change her out of her nighttime diaper in the morning and after her nap, change her into her diaper before her nap and bedtime, and read her stories before bedtime.

If I've left any cough drops there, Jewel immediately grabs them and starts to unwrap them to offer them to me. "Daddy, here's your medicine," she'll say, extending a sticky hand with a cough drop in the middle of it. We've told her they're medicine and will make her sick, so she doesn't gobble them all up as candy.

See...we can be good parents sometimes.

While it's sometimes nice to have her distracted by the unwrapping when we want her to lay still, we do end up with cough drops stuck around the house, so I've learned to scoop them all off the bedside table when I get the dark, an hour and a half before she does so as not to wake her prematurely.

Ah...the things we do for love.

The other night, however, she managed to find a cough drop somewhere and was trying to unwrap it while I was trying to convince her to lie down for her bottle and stories at bedtime. Without looking up, she said, "Wait. I'm concentrating."

Well, then.

I'm not sure which required more concentration--the unwrapping or the word "concentrating." Although, the word did roll off her tongue pretty easily.

Of course I waited for her to unwrap it, toss the wrapper onto our sheets, then stretch out her hand with the cough drop stuck to the middle of it, a proud smile stretched across her face. "Here you go, Daddy. Here's your medicine."

The things she does for love.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

...Or get new posts via email.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

$10 Text Tuesdays - Send a Sawbuck, Save a Life...and get a t-shirt

In the time it takes you to send a text, you can save a life and get a t-shirt custom designed by my brilliant cousin...although you've got to stick with it to get the shirt.

This year, I'm giving custom designed t-shirts to everyone who donates over $125 to my PMC ride. But I know that not everyone can drop $125 at once, so I'm going to make it easier for you:

Pledge to send me $10 every Tuesday for 12 weeks and you get the t-shirt. This is a new offer to donors this year, since not everyone wants to wrap themselves in spandex, which brings us to my ultimate offer... 
Pledge to send me $10 every Tuesday for 25 weeks and you get the t-shirt and a jersey of your own. These high quality cycling jerseys are also custom designed by my cousin. If you're not a cyclist, get one for a friend who is.
To take advantage of this offer, text
PMC FB0028
to 20222, to donate $10 to my ride, then let me know via email, Facebook, text, twitter or singing telegram that you've pledged to give every week and for how many weeks you'll be giving.

Can we beat cancer for just $10? Yes, we can. And, if you pledge to do this every Tuesday--you could save a life like that of six-year-old Mrs. Justin Bieber, Avalanna Routh.

Of course, if you want to give $100, $125 or $250 all at once, you can donate today.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

...Or get new posts via email.

Email address:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beauty in all its forms

Tonight, after I reminded him that his cousin Luna would be gone tomorrow when he woke up, 3B said, "When you said that, it made my throat hurt." he reached up to feel for the lump in his throat as his eyes filled with tears.

Later he told her that the lump in his throat was "thiiiis's as big as this pillow."

I'm filled with gratitude that he loves his cousin so much, and that she could spend this week with us, and for all that I've learned from her and the kids.

It's good to love, but sometimes it hurts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hopped up on goofballs and armed

A few days ago, I told you half of the story of my evening with Jewel. The other half came when Mama and 3B returned from the doctor's office, hopped up on goofballs and armed.

As you may recall, I took Jewel from "Take that avocado off my plate!" to stuffing it in her face and asking for more. Not that it was a proud moment in my parenting career or anything, but I did post a video of it.

As I said, Mama and 3B were at the doctor's office getting his bug bites checked out. On the way home they had to stop at CVS to get some cortisone cream and replenish our Neosporin supply to avoid 3B developing MRSA. Of course, to those under the age of 6, CVS stands for "candy variety store," which means that to those of us accompanying those under the age of 6, CVS stands for "conflict very soon."

Before they even entered the store, 3B was pestering Mama for a treat. Since he had been good at the doctor, it was late and what the hell, Mama said sure, he could have a treat. 3B, of course, doubled down. "And I want a toy."

Mama drew the line there. "Either a treat or a toy. Not both."

Then 3B produced his trump card. "You owe me $8."

Kid's not even in first grade yet, and we owe him money. And he knows it. And he's using it against us. Where did we go wrong? So, so wrong?

Mama knows when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em and when it's time get the hell out of CVS before she ends up with the entire toy and candy aisle in her basket, so she said, "OK, pick out a toy that's less than $8."

This explains why, when they arrived, Mama was carrying an already opened bag of donuts and 3B was carrying a ninja weapons kit complete with nunchaku. After stuffing one more donut through his sugar-encircled lips, 3B busts out the kit and, of course, skips right past the fake throwing knife and shuriken and begins whipping the nunchaku around his head like a helicopter.

A helicopter flying a dangerous height. In our living room. Piloted by a boy who's over-tired and jacked up on sugar.

What could possibly go wrong?

I looked straight at Mama and asked, "What were you thinking?"

She looked straight back at me and said, "I didn't even hesitate."

Ah, life with a black belt.

So then 3B asks, "Mama, how do you use these?" To which Mama responds with a nunchaku demonstration in our living room, which was the only safe thing that has happened with them to date. Her demonstration involved lots of whipping those sticks around her head, across her shoulders and through her crotch.

Can you guess what 3B did next?

It will be amazing if anyone in this house can have children after 3B is done with those nunchaku. And look, it cost thousands of dollars to go get one of those things--there's no need to be knocking it into the next county with some seven-dollar sliced-up broomsticks.

Quickly realizing the error of his ways in copying his mother's moves, 3B returned to his helicopter rotor and airplane propeller moves--again, at a height that is dangerous to those parts of my body that allow me to eat, breathe and walk. But, you know, other than that, totally safe.

The only thing that would make the nunchaku safer is if 3B's sister found out about them. I mean, what could go wrong with a contrary two-year-old prone to tantrums, a deadly weapon and a sometimes jealous older brother?

I'm going to spend the next week in our room, behind a locked door, eating my way through that bag of donuts.

To save himself from the armed insurrection, Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

...Or get new posts via email.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

I put my neck on the line, you get a t-shirt

Bradsteins at Papa's office.
Update: Deadline extended to May 21. See below for details.

3B's had a rough go these last few weeks, with one virus after another laying him out with a fever, cough and congestion. Jewel hasn't escaped the season unscathed either, going through strep throat and other rounds of sniffles. It's to be expected with kids, but what I didn't expect was how they would respond to each other.

At two and five years old, they have showed tremendous compassion to each other. What stands out in my mind now are the moments when Jewel has brought 3B his lovie to comfort him when he's been laid out in his bed, sweating, in the grips of a raging fever, unable to summon the energy to even lift his head. However, 3B has been no less caring of his sister--yes, sometimes it's in his own fierce way, but that fiery bloom springs from the same root.

Before you think I'm taking credit for these little lamas, I'll tell you that I know this is the result of their spending their days with Mama while I'm at work. They're my bodhisattvas, trying to teach me about compassion. Again. And again.

Fortunately, they're more patient than they appear. Or they're just as stubborn as I am.

And the hope they give me for the future is amplified by the hope I get from your generosity in supporting my ride to support cancer patients, their doctors and the researchers who are daily finding new treatments and even cures for cancers.

I know that, like Jewel and 3B, what moves you to help others is your own goodwill, but I want you to know that there are rewards other than that for you.

Time is running out on one of my most popular rewards while another is just beginning. If you give a total of (can be spread over multiple donations)
2011 jersey, click to enlarge
$100, you can put a face on the fight against cancer by placing a picture on my jersey. This is one of the most popular rewards, but time is running out. You need to donate and get me the picture before April 1 May 21 to ensure it makes it onto the jersey. Donate today.
$125, you can not only place a picture on my jersey (if you donate before April 1), but also get a t-shirt custom designed by my brilliant cousin, who also designs my jersey. This is a new reward this year, since not everyone wants to wrap themselves in spandex, which brings us to the penultimate reward... Donate today.
$250, you can place a picture on my jersey (if you donate before April 1), get a t-shirt and get a jersey of your own. To get a jersey of your own, your donation can arrive later than April 1 (final deadline not set yet), so you could donate $100 now to get a picture on the jersey, then the remaining $150 later to get the jersey. Donate today.

And then the big reward...if before June 1 this year I raise another
  • $2,000 - I will shave my beard.
  • $2,500 - I will shave my beard and head.
  • $3,000 - I will shave my beard, head and legs.
 Donate today.
And yes, I will again post a video of the shearing here for you to enjoy watch. Remember that you will be making my mom happy while you embarrass me. Also, I will keep shaving through the PMC in August, so here's your chance to make me suffer not just on the bike, but everywhere I go, for months.

To give you an idea of how it goes for me after I shave, when I walked into work the day after shaving last year, the first reaction I got was, "Did you lose a bet?" That was followed immediately by, "Were you at a frat party this weekend?"

Perhaps I need to bring 3B and Jewel to work to demonstrate compassion.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

...Or get new posts via email.

Email address:

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

On the edge of the abyss of No

Two nights ago, back when it was spring, before winter returned again, Mama and I took the kids out on the street to play with their new stomp rockets. Yes, we play on the street...look, what's the challenge of playing on a lawn?

But seriously, we play at the end of a cul-de-sac that backs up to our dead end street.

And we play on the street because apparently you should never get off the street unless you're going all the way. Kids get off the street. They quit the whole program...but then they get eaten by chiggers, just like 3B did.

That's why last night Mama took 3B to the doctor, just to ensure his horrible red welts weren't something worse than we thought they were, while I had dinner with Jewel. It was an interesting evening since Jewel was teetering on the edge of the abyss of No. After a brief breakdown when Mama and 3B left, which is to be understood--she loves them both with all her heart--she managed to avoid the abyss of No, and we had a pleasant night enjoying one of her favorite pastimes: talking.

When she's deep in the darkness of No, Jewel will be contrary to anything you state: Do you want a cookie? No! Are you upset? No! How about a donut? No!

Of course, I love to test her with questions like, Do you always say no? And, Do you like to say no? And, Do you answer all questions with "no"?

Yes, I understand that I will pay for these transgressions later in life, but for now, they're just so much fun. It's like hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Why do it? The wall doesn't move. Yes, but then you get to bounce the ball back against it. Again. And again. And again.

So, we had a perfectly pleasant conversation, which is to say that I enjoyed Jewel's soliloquy. I captured about half of our dinner dialogue here, for you to experience.

For what it's worth, between you and me, by the by and all of that, before I turned the camera on, Jewel had insisted not only that she didn't want avocado, but that I remove it from her plate, nay, from her sight.

Oh, and 3B's bites are fine. Nothing a little cortisone cream, neosporin and time won't mend.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Monday, March 05, 2012

It's not you, it's me

No, I didn't want to be able to see other social media sites.

No, I didn't need more space.

I was sick. And tired. And then sick some more. And tired pretty much all the way through.

So that's where I've been. And where I still am, sort of. Although all I've got to show for all of that now is a nagging cough, I'm still tired, although I'm getting back on my bike today, which says something.

It probably says that I'm stupid and a little scared that I won't be in shape for my 200-mile ride in August. But I can probably nap on my bike, right?

Did I mention that I was tired?

3B seems to have gone down with me--although we barely avoided ear infections by getting him on antibiotics right away--but then bounced back faster. Of course. He is still, like 67 times younger than I am. Mama and Jewel have somehow stayed the hell away from whatever plague took down 3B and I. The women are smarter.

During this time, there has been a brilliant trip to a museum, a wonderful brunch with friends, more words out of Jewel's mouth than grains of sand on a beach...and that's just the parts I was awake for.

I'm sure that I'll be able to recall them and write about them...just give me a day or so here to wake up.

And maybe visit a few other social media sites.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Sneezing, coughing, giving you the shirt off my back

In the week or so since my last installment here, although my brother had an idea that changes everything, not much has changed--3B and I have been sneezing, sniffling and coughing our way through our days. We've been getting as much rest as possible, which I've achieved by staying home on sick days--at first to nurse 3B while Mama worked, and then to nap and nurse myself...also while Mama worked.

By the time I was sick, however, 3B had been to the doctor, who diagnosed a cold with looming ear infections. Given that his fever was already climbing over two days, which has always led to raging ear infections in the next day or two, Mama and I opted to give him antibiotics to avert the same outcome this time.

He has bounced right back. Sort of. Slowly. The infection symptoms--fever and lethargy--went away quickly, but the cold has lingered, as has mine. I've spent as much time resting as I could in our phone booth sized house with a two-year-old and a five-year-old running around. Some of that time I spent catching up on thank you notes to my PMC donors, who've given over $1,300 so far.

I let them know of my brother's idea, which is that not everybody wants to show their support for fighting cancer by strutting around in a skintight spandex shirt with three pockets across the back. As a cyclist, I can't imagine why that is, but I'll take his word for it, and so I'm now offering to anyone who gives $125 a Team Bradstein t-shirt, which will also be designed by my brilliant cousin.

I sprung this offer on her as she was walking down the jet bridge to board a flight to Holland, so she really couldn't say no. This also means that we haven't quite sorted out what the shirt will look like yet, but she's a professional artist, so I'm pretty sure it won't look like a two-year-old attacked it with 64 offense to my beautiful Jewel...which is what it would look like if I were to design it.

As soon as I have an idea of the design, I'll post it here, but in the meantime, you can now
honor anyone affected by cancer and get a t-shirt for a $125 donation, 100 percent of which goes directly to cancer research and patient care. Donate today.
Every donation I get makes me feel better than a shot of Robitussin, and that's saying a lot.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kick out the junk, motherfunker

In another age, when people had blogs and other people read them (or so we liked to tell ourselves), Zygote Daddy tagged me with a meme (google it for yourselves, whippersnappers), from which I discovered that I'm not the only one who's a bit OCD about his sheets and blankets.

Now, it turns out, I'm not the only one in Casa Bradstein who's so fastidious. In fact, I'm not the most fastidious at all.

Mama always accuses me of being neat and tidy, which she can only do because she didn't know me when I was a boy. As a boy, I was more tornado than tidy, but at some point I got sick of wasting time looking for things like keys, my wallet, books (this was before iDevices, kids), so I came up with a system to keep track of them: always put them away.

Not revolutionary...unless you knew me as a boy.

OK, OK, OK, I might also have strong opinions about how other things should be put away or organized or how tasks should be performed--this much you'll know if you know me now. This combination is what leads Mama to refer to me as neat and tidy.

When 3B came along, he clearly demonstrated from an early age that he was more tornado than tidy. We figured this just came with the dinner--he's a kid, clutter doesn't bother him, he need to be taught to put things away, etc.

But then we had Jewel.

As soon as she could play with toys, she would put them away when she was done with them--even if they had been out when she started playing with them, she knew to put them away and where they went. Mama and I literally stopped in our tracks and did a speechless double-take when we saw this. Had she been switched in the nursery? Was she secretly 37 years old? What was her deal?

Then Mama looked at me and said, "That's clearly your side of the family."

I suppose if I'm going to give Mama's DNA credit for 3B's need to be surrounded by clutter--OK, OK, OK, multiple items of high value to him, and dubious value to others, piled high on and around him...the Bradstein euphemism for this is "nesting"--I'm willing to take credit for Jewel's fastidiousness.

But it is a bit spooky when, before she lies down on our bed for one of us to read her stories, she insists on having "her" pillow behind her; having it arranged properly, which she often must do herself; and having the sheets and blankets aligned just so. Of course, when she gets into her crib, this entire process repeats itself. During stories, she also must have her toothbrush aligned on the bedside table just so and her bottle placed properly on a coaster there as well.

Last night was the capper, however, when she first aligned the square coaster with the corner edges of the bedside table, leaving a perfect one centimeter margin between the edges of the coaster and the bedside table.

We were again dumbfounded.

All my life, I've been wondering if anyone could ever get my affairs in order, clean house, kick the junk out of my trunk. Turns out that someone can. She's two and she's the Jewel of my heart.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

I challenge you to embarrass me...again

That's me on the left below... and I will wear this picture of myself across Massachusetts and on my training rides...

...but only if I raise $500 in the next week.

At the same time you embarrass me, you'll honor my uncle, who is standing next to me in that photo. He died far too young of cancer--mesothelioma--but with your support he can still ride with me.

You'll also do his daughter, my brilliant cousin, the honor of being able to again put her father onto my jersey, which she designs pro bono each year.

But wait, there's, seriously, there's something in it for you. The more you give, the more you get...

Get your own jersey to forever mock me with if you contribute $250 or more.
Or, put your face--or a loved one's--on my jersey if you contribute $100 or more.

It's a real win-win for you: embarrass me and fund a cure for cancer.

And, you know, many thanks to my brother for unearthing this image.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Put a face on the fight against cancer

Update: Deadline extended to May 21.

Want to honor a cancer survivor? Memorialize a loved one? Put a face on the fight against cancer?

You can do all of these by adding a photo to the jersey that I'll wear across Massachusetts in the Pan-Mass Challenge, where it will be seen by thousands of people, all working to fight cancer. I'll also wear it on training rides throughout the year, bearing witness for those I carry with me, showing their faces and telling their stories.

And if you want to go one step further, you can get a jersey of your own--or to give to a cyclist you know--to spread the word further.

To place a photo on the jersey, simply donate $100 or more to my ride by March 30 May 21.

You can get your own jersey when you donate $250 or more by March 30 May 21.

100% of your donations go directly to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a premier cancer research center and hospital.

I always carry with me the memories of all my family and friends affected by and sometimes lost to cancer. Struggling up hills, freezing through slicing icy winds and sweating through the sauna that is summer in DC, I think of you all, and those thoughts flatten the hills, warm my heart and fill my water bottle with an iced latte. OK...maybe not that last one, but seriously, although I'm carrying all of you with me, it's you who carry me forward.

And I'd love to be able to show all of you to my fellow riders as well.

Please join me on my ride, or send a friend or loved one along with me--donate today.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Potty like a rockstar

We have only one only child in our house, although now we have two potty-trained children in our house.

3B is the only one among us who, as the oldest child, was an only child for any period of his life. Mama is a younger sister, I'm the youngest of six and, of course, Jewel is a younger sister too.

It's not that Mama and I weren't loved, it's just that we never had the undivided attention of our parents. I had a simulation of it when I was older, after my siblings had moved out. And back in. And out again. And back in again. And when I wasn't at college when they were out again.

And the timing couldn't have been better: just as I was becoming a teenager and wanted (almost) nothing to do with my parents to assert my independence, I got to be alone with them. Although, in my case, it wasn't them, it was just Mom, since Dad had already died. And her attention was divided, even when we were the only ones in the house, since she still had five other children to pay attention to, worry about, and so forth, even if they weren't there.

And I always had them to learn from, even if they weren't always around. I remember them gathering in the bathroom to teach me to brush my teeth, I remember my brother teaching me how to do laundry, and I'm still learning from them...for example, my sisters constantly help me be a better parent.

Similarly, Jewel has 3B to look up to, and boy, does she. She copies everything he does, even when she has no idea what it means. When he replays a scene from a Scooby Doo movie, yelling, "Fall back!" as he shoots his grappling hook at the ceiling and jumps off the couch, she does the same. When he shows off his dance moves from his p.e. class, she follows right along. She knows her alphabet--and aleph bet--how to count--and how to count by 10s--and so much more just from aping him. And now she's using the potty, just like him.

I'm actually not sure if the motivation came from watching him or not, but it's a fair guess that it did, and he was helpful at times with her potty training, so I'll give him credit. Of course, Mama gets the bulk of the credit for recognizing Jewel was ready, hurrying/carrying her to the potty so many times to help her be successful, and cleaning up her accidents.

Even with all of that help, it's really amazing that in just a few weeks, we've gone from changing diapers to having a potty-trained daughter. She still needs help in the bathroom, but she now gets there pretty much on time every time. Even Mama has said that she was just helping her out, that Jewel figured it all out for herself--with, of course, role models to follow.

Have I mentioned how much I like second children?

Jewel does still wear diapers to nap and sleep through the night, but that's only fair, since she's still in a crib and so can't climb out to get to the potty, even if she did wake up to do so. Since she's still sleeping in our room, since we only have two bedrooms in our house, and since there's not room in our room for another bed, she probably won't be fully potty trained until we move into a new house.

In the houses we're looking at, she'll not just have her own bed, but also her own room. While it will be nice to be able to once again read in bed, keep my clothes in my room instead of in the hall closet and to not have to sneak out like a ninja in the mornings to avoid waking her, I will miss her.

Training, I suppose, for when she and 3B move out, and Mama and I become only parents.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Monday, February 06, 2012

Pacifier, pacifier! Where art thou, pacifier?

It's amazing how much Jewel talks now, and it's fun to see her try out new words as she learns them. I will admit, however, that it's a bit more fun when it happens a bit later than 6 a.m. on a weekend day.

On Saturday, we had to get up early to get to 3B's swim lesson, but not quite as early as Jewel rose from her bed. She started off slowly, if not quietly, singing "Down to the Valley to Pray," but as soon as she saw Mama rousting to pluck her out of her crib, Jewel started with the soliloquy.

"I dropped two of my pacies. They fell on the floor. I couldn't reach them. They are down there. Where are they? I can't see them."

And so forth, all the way out the door and down the hall.

The reason Mama was peeling herself off her pillow to extract Jewel was to allow me to sleep in what little I could before swim lessons, since I'm up at 5 every weekday. As for what Jewel was doing? What does she care? Doesn't everybody take a midday nap?

The only problem with Jewel's logic is that she's starting to skip her nap some days, which is fine until about 4 p.m., when she develops a China Syndrome: total nuclear meltdown. All her beautiful words escape her, and she can't understand that she's hungry, tired and cranky, so anything we do to comfort her fails.

She often badgers us for her bottle until we eventually relent, since it's really more for the comfort than for the milk. Sometimes singing will work, although woe be to the parent who picks the wrong song, which might just be the song that worked so well yesterday at the same time. But, fortunately, she will talk enough to say which song she does want...and, of course, which specific pacie she wants if you bring her the wrong one from her quiver of 163 pacies.

All of this, of course, leads us to put her down to sleep earlier, which leads her to wake earlier, which leads us back to the start of this story.

Yes, my whole life has become an "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake" story, which is, like, totally Shakespearean, except not.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.


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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Get under the blankets or on the bike?

All I really wanted to do was curl up and take a nap yesterday when it was time to leave work. It's my first week back riding my bike to work every day since mid-December. I, of course, also made it my first week back to getting home earlier to help Mama through the witching hour with the kids. That, of course, means that it's my first week back to getting up at 5 a.m.

If you knew me back when--say, in high school--you'd know that I'm not so much of a morning person. And if you knew me in college, you'd know that I am most definitely a nap person. But, yesterday as I was thinking that I'd much rather crawl under the blankets than climb onto my bike, I thought of my high school friend who just lost her mother to breast cancer while she herself is fighting it.

In a message to me, she talked about how tired she was, how hard it was to keep it all together for her young kids, and how she couldn't decide about her mom's service...hat or wig? hat or wig?

Somehow, through it all, she's kept her sparkling wit, demonstrating her true courage through grace under pressure. I'm not terribly surprised, however, since she was one of the steady hands that guided me through high school when I was not only being torn apart by my father's death from cancer, but also heavily under the influence of adolescence the whole time.

Sure, none of us knew what we were talking about, but in a time when everything around me seemed to be flying around me as if the parts of my life were shattered and raging around me in a tornado, she was there. She was always there. She wasn't the only one, but she was one among a very few. Turns out that's all I really needed: people who were always there.

Now, when she's looking up through the funnel cloud, I'm 3,000 miles away. But I'm doing what I can to be there for her, just as I did two years ago for my other high school friend who successfully fought breast cancer. And for my college friend who fought cancer. And my coworker.

I got on my bike and rode home, enjoying every moment. Enjoying the surprising spring weather in the midst of winter, enjoying the sun shining down, the sparkle of every leaf of grass, the wind--yes, even the headwind--and the motion of my body, powering myself home to my wife and kids.

And, quite honestly, I was doing it for all of our kids. Everyone I named who fought cancer--friends from high school, college, work--has kids. And while we will receive some of the rewards of the research my bike riding funds, our kids will receive the bulk of the bounty. I won't speak for my friends, but if they're anything like me, they'd say that's as they wish. As a parent, I'll do whatever it takes to ensure the happiness of my children.

Whatever it takes, I'll be there.

Papa Bradstein will be there...and there, and there, and there...riding 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Of mice and birds

Because I know you all care deeply about how our house smells, I'm glad to report that the abattoir aroma is gone.

Or not.

Yesterday it was back in full force, to the point that Mama lost her appetite for dinner. So, I dug into the best I could. I climbed into our laundry closet and from atop our dryer, peered down the duct into the dryer and cleaned out as best I could the duct from the dryer to the outside.

That seemed to have no effect and I couldn't smell anything emanating from the duct. I did, however, pull out some lint that appeared to perhaps have some bird poop attached to it. This isn't surprising, since the end of every duct in our building is only covered with a light metal damper, which is supposed to lift when the fan behind it is turned on.

It also lifts when a clever bird perches below it and goes into the duct behind it to build a nest. We're not quite a rookery, but in some areas of our building this is prevalent. It also appeared that there might be some droppings at the dryer end of the duct, but it was hard to tell from my position.

So today we're having someone come to pull the washer and dryer--they're stacked--out of the laundry closet and open up the dryer to ensure that it's not doubling as a mausoleum. We don't think it's a home for anybody, since we don't hear anything moving in it or through the ducts.

I then went on to work on the kitchen exhaust fan, where I found nothing. However, while I was working on that, the smell got worse. I had thought the only way for it to get worse would be for the dead thing to drop through our ceiling onto our floor, but that didn't happen. So...where is the smell coming from?

Stay tuned. As soon as we know, you'll know.

Until then, I'm left to wonder if I'm Robert DeNiro or Bob Hoskins...

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

John/Paul is right: all you need is love

Jewel has started potty training. At two, she's half as old as 3B was when he began using the potty. She's also learning as she to speak...which means that she's having accidents along the way. Plenty of accidents. Because 3B made the switch so late, he never had an accident; one day he was wearing diapers and the next day he was using the potty.

OK, in between those days was a battle royale with Mama as she laid down the law: now is the time to use the potty.

Cajoling wasn't really working with him. No idea what got Jewel started on this, but a matter of months, we might be done with diapers? Really? Six years ago, I would have struggled to change one without covering everyone with poop, probably about as successful as if I'd tried to put gloves on an angry badger.

Now, however, to say that our household might not have diapers in it seems as strange as if you'd said we would no longer have books. Unlike losing our literacy, however, this is a change we're all cheering, quite literally.

Over the weekend, 3B was a good cheerleader for his sister when she was on the potty, clapping and congratulating her. And that probably meant more to her than a week of Mama and I doing the same, since her sun rises and sets on that boy's every move.

They certainly each have their own style, but it's nice to know that they also have each other, which is becoming more clear every day. Some days it seems like all they have is a running battle, but overall, they really do have a good relationship across the years that separate them.

And that makes me happier than I could have imagined possible six years ago.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Our grocery store hates parents

Our local grocery store gives cookies and balloons to kids.


Because they hate parents.

There's really no other explanation.

For those who don't have kids, let me tell you that they have a built-in GPS that's better than your smartphone, they set off more local alerts than foursquare and they talk more than your Garmin on your dashboard. All of which means that whenever we're within 1/2 a mile of this store, the begging begins.

I have been coming home from a trip to the grocery store down the street--a trip that was moaned about and generally unpopular in the ages 5 and under demographic in our household--and been begged to go to this grocery store.

"But we just went to the grocery store. We got everything we needed."

"But I want a cookie," says 3B.

"And I want a balloon," adds Jewel.

And what do I have to compete with that...a bag of brown rice in the trunk? So the begging goes least until we pass the library, when the object of their fickle attention changes.

But sometimes we do go to our local, smaller, closer and more expensive store, as Mama did yesterday with Jewel. Once when they went, Jewel got, of course, a balloon, but wouldn't let Mama tie it to anything. Mama cautioned Jewel that it could fly away, so she would have to hold on tight to it.

Of course, the balloon ended up in the rafters, and Jewel ended up in tears.

She talked about it for weeks afterward, which, for a two-year old, is like talking about it for months afterward. Even now, when she sees a balloon, it will trigger the memory, and she'll tell the sad story. "One time, when I had a pink balloon, it went up, up, up, into the ceiling."

So, of course, yesterday, Mama tied the balloon--blue this time--to Jewel's coat. What could possibly go wrong?

According to Mama, Jewel white-knuckled this balloon all through the store, determined not to let it get away. Jewel also believed that there was a picture of Toodee on it, and so talked to it the whole time. There was no such picture, but who cares, right?

They got through shopping, through checkout, to the car, get the groceries loaded into the car, Mama gets Jewel into her seat and is buckling her in when--blam!--the balloon explodes right in Jewel's face.

At this point, Jewel is late for her nap, Mama has a trunk full of food that's getting warm, and Mama has to get some work done for her new job. So, there's no way she's decamping from the car, walking back into the store, getting another balloon and possibly having it explode in the car as well.

So Jewel ends up sobbing and sad about it for the entire ride home. Thankfully that's only five minutes, but still, that store hates parents.

There's really no other explanation.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What is the sound of one snake clapping?

The good news is that after I closed up the holes behind the dishwasher, we haven't seen the mouse again, despite being up far too late and far too early many days this week.

I know it's only Wednesday. Shut up.

The bad news is that now it smells like our dining room table is downwind of an abattoir. Which, perhaps it is, after a manner, though I don't plan to be eating mousemeat pie any time soon.

The further bad news is that our building management company doesn't quite seem to know what to do about it. Turn on your exhaust fans, they say.

You think?

We're doing that, plus leaving a door cracked to pull in some fresh air, plus we've got enough candles going that our dining room table looks like a cathedral altar on Easter. So now it smells like something died by being smothered in a ball of Yankee Candle wax.

All of which leads me to some questions for the mouse. OK, one question, really...
Did you not have more than five minutes of food stored up in your nest?
Otherwise, how did it die the day after I closed up its entrance into our humble abode? Is there not enough space in all the walls that surround our kitchen to establish a granary that could support you and your kin for, I don't know, 10 years? How much do you little buggers eat, anyway?

This, combined with the fact that we neither found food missing or chewed on nor mouse poop in any of our pantry cupboards, makes these vermin quite the mystery. Why were you in our house? Were you the ones recording all those episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on our DVR? Were you stealing our Chuck E. Cheese tokens? Or are you just well mannered mice who couldn't bear to poop in your own humble abode, and so had to bring that shit into our house?

Even if you don't answer those questions, I'll give you a passing grade if you just answer this one question:
When will the stinking end?
I realize that questions like these have perplexed people throughout time and it brings to mind something I learned while reading 3B books about ancient Egypt. Turns out Egyptians weren't fond of mice either, what with their food stealing, disease bearing and poop leaving habits. In fact, because Egyptians hadn't invented the mouse trap yet--somehow developing a written language, centralized government, and timeless architecture left them with no time for such trivialities--they would keep snakes in their houses to fend off the mice.

No, I don't know what all those sacred Egyptian cats were doing. Likely lounging around temples, napping and getting drunk on beer...pretty much like modern cats in McMansions.

But, the point is that Egyptians considered it preferable to live in a snakepit than in a mouse hole.

And now I understand the wisdom of their age.

Think my neighbors would mind if I stuffed a few snakes into our walls?

Or maybe I should just open a window.

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

It's all worth it, no matter how much I may curse

Before we had kids, I used to think it was a major accomplishment to drink coffee, read the New York Times, take the dog out for a walk and do a few loads of laundry on a weekend day.

In one morning this weekend, I cleaned out all the toys under and behind the couch, sanitized the floor under the couch (due to mouse poop contamination), washed all the cushion covers and the couch cover, disconnected and removed the dishwasher, patched the holes in the wall behind it (with help from the kids), swept out and sanitized the dishwasher space, replaced and reconnected the dishwasher, washed all of 3B's bed linens, ran a couple loads of clothes through the wash, just for good measure, cooked breakfast and made coffee for Mama.

And that was just what happened before 11.

The good news is that there was no mouse sighting last night after all that patching and moving of traps to better locations. The bad news is that we're now trying to prove a negative, which is difficult at best. Ideally, it will prove itself over time. And, if it doesn't, the traps are still out.

Despite the 49ers loss, it was a good weekend. Mama has a new job, so she was working throughout, as best she could, and is still working tonight as I type this. Her hours tonight are in part because of her day.

Due to the 1/2 inch of ice that we were supposed to get, but never did, 3B's school opened two hours late, which borked Mama's schedule and mine. Once we were done juggling schedules though, which involved my starting my work week during the 49ers loss so I could get a full day's work done by the end of today, Mama seemed all clear.

Jewel would spend the day with her babysitter, who would also come and get 3B off of the bus, then take care of both kids here at our house until Mama's day was done. It would have worked too, if it weren't for our babysitter's malfunctioning car, which died unceremoniously midday. That meant that Mama needed to break off from work, give the babysitter, her son and Jewel a ride back to the babysitter's, then bring Jewel here, get 3B off the bus and abandon all hope of working this afternoon.

The best part was when 3B got off the bus, gave Mama a "what are you doing here?" look and asked, "But, where's the babysitter?"

And that was just what happened before noon.

But Jewel gave me kisses when I walked in the door, and I made 3B laugh uncontrollably as we did laundry and later as we read bedtime stories together, so it was all worth it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Even little actions speak louder than words

Jewel ran from the back of the house to the door to wrap me up in a hug last night.

"Daddy, your coat is cold. The buttons on your coat are cold."

"What if I open it up and wrap you up in it. Is it warm?"

"Yes. It's warm."

She was laughing and bouncing up and down the whole time, which made me smile. Usually, when I tell her that I love her and ask if she loves me, I get the two-year-old answer: No. But, since she seemed so happy to see me, I thought I'd give it a shot.

"I love you, sweetie. Do you love me?"

"I love you too, Daddy."

We snuggled like that until she had to squirm away.

I started to hang up my scarf and coat, and put away my hat and gloves. I walked down the hall and kissed 3B and Mama hello as they sat making pictures on our bed. According to Jewel, that was enough dawdling.

"Daddy, get into your play clothes."

"OK, OK...I'm taking off my suit pants now."

"Fold them."

I folded them over a hanger and asked her if that was adequate. She nodded.

"Put your jeans on."

I did that and put away my security badge for work.

"Read me the dictionary. I'm going to pick a letter from the back cover."

Our bed is one of those Princess and the Pea contraptions, with a total height of eight feet or so. Mama and I actually pole vault into it every night, so I asked Jewel, "Climb in yourself, or do you want me to lift you up?"

Little Miss I'll-Do-It-Myself surprised me this time: "Lift me up."

So I did, and we lay down to read Richard Scarry's Storybook Dictionary. She picked a letter from the text on the back cover and we read all the entries for it.

Even if later, as I was kissing her in her crib, Jewel told me that she didn't love me, I didn't mind at all. I  could still feel the warmth of her embrace as I came through the door and it still made me smile.

"Good night, sweetie. I love you."

Papa Bradstein will ride 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his ride.

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