Feb 14, 2006

I returned the trash can that spent the last two days resting at my bedside to the computer room this morning. Having the ability to move it, complete with its plastic covering, was a bit of a victory. It implied that at least I was done with the illness that rampaged my family this weekend. That’s a pretty good feeling, almost as good as again being able to fart with at least some semblance of control.

I’m of the opinion that you learn about real parenting when attempting to do it while sick. It’s almost a right of passage. Throw in a sick wife as well as two sick children and the multiplication alone is staggering. It all adds up to a weekend conclusion that was surely drawn up somewhere in hell.

I suppose I could say that it all started Friday night, when my oldest child found that he didn’t like sleeping next to the contents of his stomach, but I didn’t feel it until Sunday evening. The wife and I looked at each over our dinners. Neither of us had much interest in what was on our plates. My wife is a good cook; my belly can assure you that this was a bad sign. We forced our way through bath time and both of us hit the bed with thud at about 8 pm, just minutes after we got the kids asleep.

We also hit the bed at 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, 12am, 1am, 2 am — I think you are getting the idea. Our youngest had taken to projectile vomiting and was, unsurprisingly, unhappy about it. He woke nearly every hour throughout the night, emitting a chorus that was filled with his meals from the day before. I took each opportunity to revisit the bathroom. By morning, there were two weary parents and a child with nothing left to vomit but clear liquids.

At this point, I should mention that there’s nothing sadder than a sick kid. My youngest had no understanding of what was happening to him. He was incredibly tired and suddenly wet. My oldest, who took up the tradition the next day, made us just as sad. He wanted us to provide the magic elixir from the doctor that would make it all better. It just breaks your heart.

I should also mention that I couldn’t be more impressed with my wife through all this. She spent the better part of the first night hanging over the toilet and still managed to hit the ground running when our youngest one woke. By the morning hours she’d get to him before he actually threw up. At this point, I was still moaning under the covers.

Monday was a day of survival in a way. Both the wife and I were still quite ill, not even attempting something like soup until the late evening. The kids needed their parents and their parents needed rest. Occasionally, one parent would fall (asleep). The other would do what needed to be done. The day itself is a blur. I remember cleaning up the dishes and laying on the couch moaning softly to myself from the effort.

Thankfully, today is better. Our oldest is still very much recovering (he was the latest in the time line for the real whammy) but the wife and I feel a lot better. I had a bagel for breakfast! The exclamation point alone should indicate that our victories come in small, meal-shaped packages. The movement of that trash can indicates some independence on exactly where those meals end up.

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Medical Pains

Feb 7, 2006

Reasons 1 – 342 that I didn’t become a doctor, besides all that homework I would have faced. I’d pick a favorite but I need to stop cringing first.

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Book List

Feb 7, 2006

My birthday is coming up, eventually, and I thought I’d get a jump on my wants and needs (ok, my wants). Besides, I love lists. Just love them. Here are some of the books I’d like to read sometime after my birthday, ahem, assuming I ever finish this one. Thank God the others won’t require a quiz afterwards.

The Progress Paradox by Gregg Esterbrook

I’ve been a reader of Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for a few seasons. I like his writing enough that I’ve followed that particular column from ESPN to its current resting spot, It’s good, exhaustive, quirky stuff and it sets him up well for writing about subjects like is life getting any better. Doesn’t it?

Beside Still Waters: Searching for Meaning in an Age of Doubt by Gregg Easterbrook

Since the life questions are apparently easy, I’m glad this book gave Mr. Easterbrook a chance to tackle some tough subjects, like religion. You’d think that I’d be wary to read a book about religion from a football columnist. You’d be wrong. After all, what football columnist berates supporters of intelligent design while leaving the concept open, all in an article about the Super Bowl? Well, I know one that does.

(Search for “No Higher Power” for the whole snippet. Here’s a taste: “But please, science illiterates, stop attempting to enact rules about intelligent design; you are ruining the idea.”)

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

I’ve already read this one, which probably makes it my most interesting choice. Of course, when I did so, it was in electronic form. It’d be nice to get the paper equivalent and it’d be nice to freshen my memory for it’s sequel.

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Hey, the sequel. Imagine that. In addition to being a sequel to a book that I really enjoyed, I think this choice makes a pattern apparent. Maybe I’ll talk about that pattern at the bottom. Hint, all the links to Amazon are not involved.

Attack of the Bacon Robots (Penny Arcade, Vol. 1) by Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik

I’ve been following the Penny Arcade strip for years, long enough that I’m sure I’ve seen a lot of work found between the covers of this book. That doesn’t mean I don’t need something for my (theoretical) coffee table and that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy reading all the additional commentary.

So what do all these choices have in common? They all came from writers that I discovered and followed on the web. In the case of Mr. Easterbrook, I’ve been following his articles in official channels for a couple of years. In the case of Mr. Scalzi, I’ve been following his blog for longer than I’ve been writing my own. Penny Arcade is actually kind of a mix of the two, a site that generates money directly but provides blog-like content in the form of long form text that accompanies each comic.

10 years ago, I would have been surprised at the source of my interests. As recently as 7 years ago, I might have been little uneasy justifying actual purchases based on such unscrupulous places as the internet. Today, I don’t bat an eye. The authors above are writers that I actively follow. I can’t think of a better way to spend my entertainment dollars (or someone else’s if my birthday just so happens to pass). I can think of a better question, though.

How did I find something good to read before the internet?

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The Great Zucchini

Jan 31, 2006

I don’t think I’ve read a better piece of journalism in a long, long time.

As suggested by my source, stick with it all the way to the end.

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Jan 28, 2006

I’ve got a funny habit. I’ve had it for a while. About three years ago I placed my hand on my first son’s chest while he was sleeping and felt for his breath. I didn’t feel anything at first. My hand was huge compared to his tiny chest. My fingers nearly wrapped around him. I needed to search for breathing and, after a short while, I found it. That tiny chest rose and fell. Relief washed over me. Satisfied, I returned to my bed.

Through the years, that little body has grown larger but that hand continues to chase its sleep. Sometimes that hand finds a back or a side. Sometimes it discovers a forehead or foot, depending on the lighting. A year ago, it found a second companion. My habit gives me reassurance. But, for a brief moment each night — maybe while I search the covers or cautiously feel through layers of warm clothing — I feel a little fear.

I’m certain that my friends, who lost their baby just a short time ago, are familiar with that feeling. Their little one spent his short time on this earth in the hospital. Their hands and hearts spent a lot of time searching, worrying, and praying.

I can’t pretend to understand their grief. As a father, I don’t want to try. But I want them to know they are in the thoughts and prayers of my wife and I. We think about them a lot.

About twice a night.

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Kid Pictures

Jan 27, 2006

Brothers hanging out!!

The wife has started to get on the Flickr bandwagon. The result? More pictures of the kids on the web. Stop by and check them out, if she hasn’t already sent you an update.

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Dec 8, 2005

I recently purchased the fourth season of the Sopranos from a friend and just wanted to mention how much I enjoy consuming television in the DVD format. No commercials waste your time, the pause button is as accessible as the one on my TIVO, and, most importantly, the next episode is just a click away. No waiting. I can’t stress how important that is.

Collecting a whole season of TV on just a couple of disks is where the action is at. Sweeten the pot with a complete ignorance of the series and I get some true entertainment from my couch. The wife and I completely missed the first two seasons of the Sopranos. It only took us about two months during the winter lull in the television schedule to catch up.

The weather might call for snow and my TV might call for repeats, but I have some boob tube watching to do. The wife is rather anxious to get through that first season of Desperate Housewives she received for our anniversary.

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Baby Blues

Nov 28, 2005

My little boy turned one this past Monday. Two days later he had surgery. He spent the first part of his week examining his new cache of toys. He spent the rest of the week recovering.For those who don’t know, my little one had and has a problem with his left eyelid. Put simply, he just can’t open it all the way. Without resorting to fancy terms, he’s missing the pieces he needs to yank that sucker open and that’s a problem. It’s a potential problem for his future eyesight in that eye and, yes, it was at least a slight cosmetic problem as well.As a parent, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter problem that’s bothered me the most, but maybe not for the reasons you’d expect. I’ve always thought that the issue with his eyelid registered about a 2 out of 10 on the child ricter scale. There are children far worse off than mine. The eye itself is fine. His eyelid could be considered a blessing compared to what many parents are forced to reckon with. But the cosmetic aspect of it made it something that couldn’t go away in public. We were asked about it — queried about it at every turn. I carry my beautiful boy around and people want to talk about his eyelid. I wanted to show them everything else.

But cosmetics weren’t something that would have us run to the hospital, particularly when the heart of someone so young was at stake. Instead, it was the potential of future complications. Without a proper view of the world, he was sure to develop some problems with his vision. He might have a lazy eye. He might lose his vision on the one side completely. That’s when talks of specialists and the possibility of surgery was brought up and, eventually, decided upon.

Even the idea of surgery is a pretty horrid thought to a parent. Trust me, I know. Chase’s surgery was originally scheduled for very beginning of November. We spent a good month dreading the thought. We spent an early morning getting things packed and sifting through hours of traffic. We spent our afternoon cursing the incompetence of an anesthesiologist who was blissfully unaware of Chase’s bout of sickness late in the week before, a sickness that called the whole thing off.

So we got another month to ponder it. We had a birthday to celebrate and a holiday to work around. We got another month of dread and another early appointment. And, this time, he had the surgery.

That morning is still filled with little pictures, some good, some bad: the doctor’s explanation — the wife’s short tale of his sudden nap before it begun — the slow walk to the vending machine, unsure if it was safe to leave the waiting room for even a minute — the sound of his cries as we headed into the recovery room to see him — the time spent comforting him — my first peek at the results. It was a trying day, for all of us. We were grateful to get him home and, perhaps, just thankful that he woke in the first place.

The next couple of days we spent recovering. Our little one wasn’t particularly happy about his eye. In truth, he looked like someone beat him up. His eye swelled open, leaving me to wonder if we did the right thing after all. He was pretty miserable and none of us slept much the first day or two.


On day three, the little guy was sick of being sick. Along with his first birthday, he had discovered the joys of walking. He was ready to continue his journey, which often took him from the couch to the TV to the couch. He was tired of the careful hands that accompanied his attempts at flight but they followed him anyway. They still do.

Thankfully, the swelling has very much subsided. It’s still there but
it looks like the other guy got the worse end of the fight. Three incisions and, their accompanying stitches can still can be found above his left eye. These will be around for a while and the resulting scars will be around a bit longer. But, and this is a very big but, I’ve seen two beautiful eyes staring back at me a lot.

Sometimes they aren’t looking my way. They might be inspecting the end of a spoon or scoping out his next destination. But I can see them and it makes my own eyes well up a bit. I never knew what I was missing.

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Camping Supplies

Nov 10, 2005

If, by chance, three men were to head out in the wilderness in the cold of near-Winter, they would need supplies. They’d need the obvious stuff. Beer, for example, comes to mind. And, presumably, they’d need other things as well. If we were to form a list, what would it look like?

Beer (don’t want to forget this)
Macaroni and Cheese
Instant Pancake Mix
Cast Iron Skillet
Cooking Spray/Oil

Shower Curtain (to allow washing of stinking butts)

Fire starters
Cooler (for beer)
Ice (for the cooler for the beer)
Pie Iron
Dutch Oven

Classic videogames
Scary movies
Funny movies
Wireless Hub


Note: Updated per comments.

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Oct 30, 2005

(click for more carving delights)

As usual, I bit off a bit more than I could chew when it came to carving time.

Happy Halloween everyone.

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