Monday, December 14, 2009

Dial B for Booking

This morning I set Aiden in his crib for a few minutes to contain his early morning wildness while I was in the bathroom. I leaned over to ascertain the contents - if any- of his diaper...and groaned. My olfactory senses delivered bad news. But it had to wait for a few minutes.

I was gone for maybe three or four minutes and when I returned, there stood Aiden in his crib, playing with MY CELLPHONE! I stood there aghast. How had he gotten my phone? Then I realized I had it in my shirt pocket and when I leaned over to sniff his pants, he must have PICKPOCKETED ME! There is NO OTHER explanation. ( Brad maintains that the phone simply fell out of my pocket. That is too prosaic and I do not accept it.)

About an hour or so later, I got a call from Nicole, asking if I'd called her earlier. I said no....but then realized that Aiden must have called her. That kid! Using up unlimited minutes. Whatever. Wait- we DO have unlimited minutes, right?

Then I got home from my grocery shopping to Brad's story: He was talking to someone at the jail this morning who said they had just had a couple minute conversation...with AIDEN! Oh my WORD! He called the Booking Department at the JAIL! He is Trouble - and notice I capitalized it! And here I thought I had corralled his mischievous ways by putting him in the crib... First he pickpockets me, then he makes calls on my phone....!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not cooking like a Pilgrim? Priceless.

As Penny and I waited through the last few minutes of 60 minutes so we could watch the latest installment of "The Amazing Race," we actually listened to some of what older-than-dirt Andy Rooney was gabbling about. His main point seemed to be that we should cast off modern conveniences, do without pre-packaged foods, and cook authentic Thanksgiving meals like the Pilgrims. Penny and I looked at each other with the same "has-he-lost-his-ever-loving-mind?" expression on our faces. What- go out and shoot a turkey with a blunderbuss? A bow and arrow? I think he was suggesting cooking from scratch more than turning us all into hunters...but it got me thinking about how life would be different, very, very different, if we were living, even just culinarily, like the Pilgrims.

No Kroger. No Walmart. No ovens or stove tops. No meat thermometers. No roasting bags. No electric knives. No boxed stuffing. No ergonomically correct peelers. No freezers or fridges. No cooking spray. No Dawn dish soap. No dishwashers - except the human kind. No graham cracker crust. No sweetened condensed milk( GASP - that is the worst part of all!) No canned pumpkin. No canned ANYTHING - unless you canned it yourself. No Pillsbury crescent rolls. NO MARSHMALLOWS! ( probably. Unless you watched Alton Brown and learned how to make them yourself. But no - no Food Network or internet either!) Now that's the worst - forget sweetened condensed milk. No internet? Unthinkable! I can go online and in seconds have THOUSANDS of recipes and advice at my fingertips. The Pilgrims? All they had was...Squanto.

This is the first Thanksgiving that I am hostessing. We will have eleven plus Aiden at our table and I have delegated a lot of the side dishes to my guests, so it's not like I will be doing it all by myself... In fact - I received this charming message via Facebook recently from one who will be at my festive table come Thursday:

What shall I bring you, poor as I am?
If I were a swineherd I'd bring you a ham.
If I were Mcdonald's I'd bring some fries.
What shall I bring you?
Maybe some pies?

Now isn't that the cleverest, funniest thing you've seen all day?! ( I got her permission to use it here. This material is copyrighted.)

But in spite of all the help, I do feel some amount of um...what's the word I want...stress? Angst? Pressure? Nerves? The fact weighing in upon me that this is a rite of passage into womanhood? Those are all a little weightier than the truth of how I feel. What I want to know is - WILL THE TURKEY BE MOIST?! Will it be done in time so we can eat before Brad has to leave for work?! Oh, the suspense is killing me. But this is something I've wanted to do for quite some time. Something I must conquer.

In addition, we are moving Grampa into his new home the day before T-Day. Well, the moving process will take place in the next couple days because we want to get it all nice and set up before he gets there... So yeah. There are a lot of components that need to come together that I haven't even mentioned. It's looking like a big week. I have mapped out/earmarked what seems like the majority of the hours between now and Thursday. God forbid any unforeseen monkey wrenches should be thrown into our midst. Like getting sick. No! I didn't say it! Not jinxing myself!

But at least I can number among my blessings that I don't have to cook like a Pilgrim. I don't have to go through the ordeal of killing a turkey and plucking it, harvesting my wheat so I can flog it into flour to make bread to make stuffing with, picking the cranberries from the bog, churning butter, digging potatoes out of the ground, chopping the wood to stoke the fires that I will use to "cook" over, and hauling home a pumpkin to cut up and cook down for my pie. Not cooking like a Pilgrim? Now, THAT is something for which to give thanks INDEED.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Simple Gifts

Philip and I had a great time at Lowe's the other day. From the start, I had been encouraging him to use his Dynavox more. Well, maybe "encouraging" is slightly deceptive - I told him he had to use it more! I think sometimes it is intimidating to him to use it in public with people who aren't familiar with how it works. Also, I think it seems sort of laborious to him in a setting that, in his mind, is supposed to be all play and no work, simply devoted to the pure joy of forklift spotting. And I don't blame him a bit for being hesitant. I understand. But I have had to crack down on him; from my perspective, going out in the community and interacting with people is the whole goal of my training with him. Having experience communicating with people who aren't completely familiar with the Dynavox is so valuable. Most of his friends at Lowe's know a little bit about it, but there is enough "foreign-ness" about it so that it's almost like being with strangers. If that makes any sense. In a lot of ways, it's a perfect situation - the people care about him and will talk to him but they don't always understand how it all works and about the fact that you often have to wait a minute or two to get an answer. So it's a little challenging because it can be awkward, but it's very good experience for him. And for the other people too.

So, yesterday, I emphasized several times on the way to Lowe's that I was expecting him to use the Dynavox in more than one conversation. And he did! Oh me of little faith.

My favorite interaction happened like this: We followed a forklift from flooring out to the front where the driver and spotter were going to deposit some boxes into a customer's vehicle. There was some sort of minor delay and we had to wait a bit, and while we waited, I struck up a conversation with the forklift spotter girl who, for those of you who know who this is, reminds me of Queen Latifah. Only a slightly toned down version. With a small amount of prompting, I got Philip involved in the conversation. He asked her, "How was your day?" and after she told him, she asked how his day was. I quickly moved over to the adjectives page, and Philip replied, "fast" and "beautiful." I was so thrilled! This is what I had been wanting to happen - real interaction - back and forth... Oh, I was so excited, but pretty much kept it all inside, just acting like this happened all the time, not wanting to embarrass Philip. Then, Queen Latifah had to go back inside, and she raised her hands like she was parting the Red Sea so the automatic doors would open...kind of making a big joke out of it... and walked inside. The adjectives page was still scanning and suddenly Philip clicked on the word "open" and then almost immediately afterward "funny." I said, "Yes!" and laughed aloud and wanted to jump up and down point and tell everyone what just happened. I pictured myself doing just that: "He said, Open! He said, Funny!" and how, to people who don't understand what a momentous thing this was, it would sound so silly and I was spelling out the punchline to a totally obvious joke. She opened the door in a funny way. So what? But to have the right word - not to mention wordS- available at exactly the right moment is so rare for him that I was just practically falling on the ground with joy! Instead of simply laughing about it, he got to comment on it, and thereby participated in it. To participate in a joke is such a basic event for most of us that we hardly consider what a privilege it is to communicate about humor.

I've thought since then about how there are moments going on like that in all corners of the world - moments of something small but wonderful happening, and somebody noticing, and wanting to shout it triumphantly to the whole world...but most of the world doesn't understand or appreciate the deep joy and satisfaction connected with it. And it made me even happier to think about that. For all the sorrow, disconnectedness, mis-communication, limitations and suffering in the world, there is a vast amount of unheralded good. Boy, I feel like Andrea, with all her philosophy about the connectedness of man. :)

And even if most of the world doesn't understand or appreciate the significance of this small but illuminating event, I'm going to tell it anyway...because I know at least a few people will have the imagination and insight to understand and smile about it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November News

I remembered again the other day, after getting a note from Aunt Gladys, that this blog is for some people the sole news source from our family. So here's an update.

About two weeks after Brad got sick, I succumbed to a similar fate. I guess it was some form of the flu - fever, cough, aches, etc. I'm just praying that Aiden doesn't catch it. But this is quite the slippery character - you think you're over it and boom- it hits you again. I have had it for about four days now and one thing I will say is, I am SO THANKFUL for DRUGS! Even with drugs, I have had a hard time sleeping very much but I am hopeful every night that THIS will be the night that I will get to sleep before two o'clock. I have tried to keep my distance as much as is motherly possible from Aiden to shield him from this evil stuff, which simply means that everything is the same except I cut out the best part - the hugs etc. And I can tell he misses the closeness because he comes up to me and lays his head on my lap and tries to be close to me. And it kills me! I feel neglectful and cold! I do forget sometimes and hold him and then try to remember which sleeve I have hacked into most recently...Augh.

Aiden's talking a lot more these days and it is SO FUN to listen to him. A lot of babble, but it's forming into sentence structure, with an intelligible word or two thrown in.

Grampa is chomping at the bit to be out of the rehab place and thankfully, we have found a really nice assisted living place that has an opening. I say "really nice" but what I mean is so impressively unlike a nursing home in any way and so beautiful and with such great amenities that I think I want to live there someday when I'm old. Or possibly before I'm old! Basically, it's like living in a nice hotel with all your stuff. Brad, Penny, Aiden and I went to tour/visit the place after Dad and Mom Pass told us they had checked it out for Grampa and liked it. We picked out a room/suite and the ball is rolling. We're not sure when the actual moving day will be but probably within a week, I would guess. Grampa seems excited about the new place; he's just so done with where he is that any place would be a welcome change, and he seems to be accepting - at least somewhat - the fact that he's not coming home, at least not right away. The new place is considerably closer to us and that is a huge bonus for me.

Last week, I noticed that Aiden had another little sore mark/scabbish looking thing on his right foot where the brace had started to wear on him. ( A month or two ago he had one on the left foot and we took him in to make adjustments to the braces.) This time, I made the executive decision to keep the braces off until I could talk to either the physical therapist or the braces people. I was going to bring Aiden to the braces people but then I got sick...and yeah...that's lasted a while. But today the physical therapist came (yes, he comes to the house which is packing up and hauling self and child to the ends of the earth) and gave the official okay for him to be done with the braces! He has outgrown them and also has progressed with his balance and strength to the point where he doesn't need them any more. Hurray! The PT was very impressed and pleased with all his progress - not just walking but stair climbing, jumping, squatting, speech, fine motor skills, socialization stuff, all those developmental markers...

Brad's news? He works long hours and harder than he should, but I guess that is preferable to him being a slacker. He does it all to support my lavish lifestyle, so I'm thankful.

So there's the news from our end of the world.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My rant about "The Good Lord"

It's been a long time since I've had a deadline on something, and now that I do, I find myself procrastinating like it's going out of style. And so what do I do, instead of doing this project? I sit down and write a blog. It reminds me of studying for exams in college. "Oh, this is a good time to organize my closet! Declare war on clutter!" "Oh, I must redecorate the room this very instant! Hang new pictures!" " Now is the logical time to put all my journals in chronological order from fourth grade through the present."

Today's random deep thought, brought to you by procrastination, is this: God probably doesn't mind any name for Himself, provided it is said in reverence, but if he DID have a pet peeve of a title, I bet it would be this appellation: " The Good Lord." It just dawned on me how ridiculously redundant, and also remote, it sounds. It's like the speaker is trying to butter Him up. Either that, or the speaker doesn't know him very well. I mean, you don't really hear theologians or Bible teachers or people on deep, meaningful spiritual pilgrimages referring to God this way. It's kind of like, " I knew Him once, when I was a kid. He was an okay guy." A tepid endorsement. I think it might be a generational, codgery thing. I mean, it's something that geezers call God: The Good Lord. No offense, all you geezers, but it's just not a young person thing. It strikes me as basic and flat. Might as well call him the Nice Lord. Ooo- let's find the smallest, blandest adjective for the biggest, most vibrant, powerful being in the universe!

I can just imagine God cringing.

This is my opinion. You can call Him "The Good Lord" all you want. Just don't let me hear it.

P.S. The above may totally make no sense. It's all due to the fulminations of procrastination in my mind. Pay me no mind.

P.P.S. As I have "gwunted and stwuggled" through this project tonight ( which I am not nearly finished), I thought of how Grampa M. used to say the following, which I thought was a quote from himself, but I googled it and it turns out that it's attributed to Francis Bacon... ( ha ha, Grampa M. and Francis Bacon...birds of a feather...): "Reading maketh a full man... and writing an exact man." I have had to stop and really think what I am trying to say, and what I really believe. It's hard work, my friends.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sick day

Last night I jokingly said that I wished I could just get swine flu and get it over with. All this hype and hysteria over said flu - and the vaccine dilemma- is driving me mildly batty at times. And then Brad got home and I could tell right away that the hoarseness and achiness he'd been experiencing the last time I saw him - late Wednesday night- was more than just normal exhaustion. He looked like a Halloween haggard version of his normal self. At first, we thought it was just because he had been working something like 48 hours in the last three days. But last night, as he coughed deep, juicy coughs and shuddered with chills, it became quickly obvious that something more sinister was afoot. I thought about going to sleep in the other room but I was too tired to move. I wondered if I was about to get my wish, and face the piggy influenza once and for all.

About four this morning, I told him that he really shouldn't go in to work today. But he did. I fell asleep again, as he got ready to leave, and prayed that someone at the jail would send him home. And thankfully, his lieutenant sent him to the doctor, who sent him home. Once again, Lt. Lynn comes to the rescue. My prayuhs were ansud. ( That's my best written imitation of a certain southern gentleman, who shall remain nameless.)

Did I mention that Brad's worked like a bazillion hours recently? I missed him so much. So when he came home today, I almost didn't care that he was sick. Okay, yes, I did care. I felt sorry for him and wanted to take care of him. But part of me was just jumping up and down, just glad to SEE him. Glad that he was home and able to rest. They say he has bronchitis and sinusitis, and that he's pretty contagious so he wasn't really supposed to be near Aiden - or me...but I figure, hey, I spent the better part of the night lying inches from a sputum spewing sufferer so I'm sure my immune system is already engaged in hand to hand combat with the invader. Brad played peekaboo and keep-away with Aiden but I know Aiden was glad to at least get a glimpse of his pater familias, which is more than he has had since Sunday- which might as well be nigh unto forever to a child.

I was glad that I had cleared my day so I didn't have any big responsibilities to involve me and the things I had thought I might do were easily postponed. I went out to fill his prescriptions and pick up some things but most of the day was spent puttering at home. I made chicken soup from scratch - something I don't think I've ever done before. I felt quite nurturing and wifely. Well, I went way overboard on the pepper so it was a bit overpowering. My ascension to domestic goddesshood will have to wait.

It was raining outside. The comforting, warm smell of carrots and onions and celery and garlic and chicken filled the house. And I felt positively cozy inside. Just happy to have him home. Almost like I was getting a sick day myself - that gleeful pleasure of staying home from school and treating yourself delicately. I needed a low key day; we all did. It was quite delicious.

Now I need to go to bed, to aid my immune system in its battle against the bad guys which I am sure are there (as Brad would say: "lurking in the inky shadows"), despite my incessant hand washing and repeated applications of hand sanitizer.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Reflections on October 3rd

Aaaand, here it is again. This anniversary that I'm not quite sure what to do with. I wanted to go out and do something special, like go to the monastery in Conyers and look at bonzai trees and have a picnic to celebrate Andrew...because I think this day should be all about reflecting on the beauties and joy of being alive. I'm always skeptical when people do things and say, "This is what the departed person would have wanted..." But I'm pretty sure that it IS what Andrew would have wanted people to do to remember him- have a day of being fully alive. Of good times. Of appreciating autumn.

But this whole Grampa being in the hospital thing has made the day a little uncertain. Which maybe is a good thing. I don't know that I really want to concentrate my full powers of memory on this day. It's enough to have a low level of gut gnawing sadness.

Five years is a strange amount of time. It sounds like such a solid, rounded block. It seems like a long time - there have been a lot of changes since 2004- but it's not a long time.

Part of me really misses being in New Hampshire on this day. It feels wrong not to be there. We've talked about moving back someday. Georgia doesn't really feel like home in a lot of ways. But whenever we do go back to NH to visit, there's this odd feeling of being off kilter. When we were there for Grandma Sweet's funeral this summer, we took an hour to drive our dear old back roads and visit our favorite cemetery in Harrisville...and it was a beautiful day...the light streaming through the trees, but the light was sad. And it didn't have anything to do with Grandma's funeral that day. Honestly, I know it sounds strange, but I thought the light looked old and sad... and my gut told me that I'd never feel like this was home again either. I realize I am not missing a place but a time in my life when the world was all right, when I felt at home in a number of places. Because being at home means being with your family. And we haven't been all together in a long time. And it will be quite a while, I imagine, before we are all together again. But I believe that someday we will be together again. I'm not just saying that because it sounds nice; I really, truly believe it. Sadness, loss, absence...there is just something in me that cannot believe that these will go on and on, unresolved forever. My heart does not accept that possibility as ringing true. I believe to my very core that there is a God and that He is good, that human suffering matters to Him, and that He is, in His very essence, love. And that He will ultimately right all wrongs, heal all wounds, wipe away all tears. So while right now I am living in the present, acknowledging today's sadness, being grateful for the fact that it doesn't feel as bad as it once did, there is a part of me that will never get used to it and cannot accept it, that longs for home, and that part looks forward to the future and reminds me that this life is not all there is. I can't say I really look forward to October 3rd, but I am grateful for the perspective it always gives me.

So to all the people who remember us and send their love today, it is enough for me that you just remember Andrew and celebrate the profoundly wonderful fact that you have a great and precious opportunity- the chance to live- and beyond that, the chance to live eternally. Make it a good life.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My Hero

( This was written late last night.)

Living with a 20 month old - you just never know what to expect. This evening Aiden, Brad and I were relaxing in the Family room after an enjoyable Labor Day, watching a DVD. I had just set Aiden in Brad's lap and the next moment we were experiencing the vomit fountain.

Everyone was stunned for a moment. No one said anything. We just watched as the contents of Aiden's stomach poured forth over his clothes and onto Brad's clothes and the couch. I was amazed at how much stuff there was, and it just seemed to keep coming and coming! Clotty, stinky, chunky, slimy - kind of like a visible food diary - a record of what he had eaten today. There was a lot of cantalope. And partially digested milk. And other things. I ran off to try to find some suitable ratty towels to help contain the horror but could only come up with a measly hand towel. That didn't really do much good. ( What does it say about me that I couldn't bring myself to use one of the " good towels"?) I really wanted to take a picture of the two of them. ( What does it say about me that in the midst of this carnage, the thought came into my head to take a picture? " Oh, and remember the first time that Aiden threw up...? Good times, good times." ) It was really an unbelievable sight. But it seemed wise to continue in the cleanup mode with all possible speed so the photograph was never taken. ( I did find out later that Brad took a picture of himself before changing his clothes as I was attending to Aiden in the other room. This proves the saying: Great minds think alike. )

We transferred ourselves to the bathroom - the bathtub to be more precise- where Aiden was stripped and cleaned, and refused to be consoled. Poor thing, it was a pretty traumatic incident - his first real bout of vomiting. It took him a while to realize it wasn't the end of the world.

Clothes were strewn about from certain members of the family trying to rid themselves of nastiness or prevent their clothes from becoming more soiled. So here we had three individuals, in partial or complete stages of disrobe, running around the house, cleaning up the couch- that was Brad- cleaning up Aiden and the bathroom- that was me- and trying to figure out what was going on and why he was naked but wasn't actually taking a conventional bath- that was Aiden- and cleaning up the random deposits of guck on the Vomit Trail all through the upstairs - that was both Brad and myself. It was a surreal experience. And the whole time, Brad was practically in hysterics because he thought the whole thing was so funny. Which did help to lighten the mood. Heroic fortitude in the face of utter yuckiness. Gotta hand it to you, Brad- you are my hero. Another reason I love my husband: the man laughs at vomit. I hope in the years to come, throwing up will always be an event of such hilarity. Eventually everyone got cleaned up and re-dressed, and now almost everyone is asleep.

I saved the laundering of the clothes until the men folk were abed. As I cleaned the "chunky bits" - as Andrew would have said- off their clothing, I thought of the fortuitous timing of the whole thing. The appearance of the Vomit Comet took place mere moments after I put Aiden in Brad's lap. Almost as if my guardian angel were orchestrating the whole thing. I don't know where Brad's guardian angel was, but MINE was certainly on the job.

Today, Aiden was wearing a shirt that I bought for him at a yard sale. It says, "My Dad is The Man." How apt. If it wasn't one of my favorite shirts, I would not even try to salvage it from the ravages of vomit. But I love it, and therefore it is in the process of restoration. Yes, Aiden, your Dad IS The Man. From serenely facing down the possibility of a dead grandfather in his basement in the morning, to calmly comforting his vomit saturated son in the evening...and accepting it all with a smile - laughter, even!- there is very little, if anything, that can faze this man. It's all in a day's work for him. What am I saying- this was his day OFF! Tomorrow he goes back to working with nitwits and criminals!

Monday, September 07, 2009

False Alarm

Living with an 86 year old - you just never know what to expect. Like today. Usually Grampa comes up and joins us in the kitchen for breakfast around 8:15 or 8:30. Today he was an hour late. Well, I heard a movie going so at first I wasn't too concerned. I figured he just lost track of time. But then the movie stopped and he still didn't come up. It was silent downstairs for quite a while. I was convinced that he had died while watching the movie. I was already mentally planning our trip to California for the funeral. I was SO grateful Brad had the day off today so I could send him down to check to see if Grampa was still among the land of the living. When I told Brad that I thought maybe Grampa had died, he said calmly , " Well, today would be a good day for it." ( as in, Brad has the day off and we have a fairly flexible schedule today so we could easily deal with the county coroner's arrival etc.) But I just LOVE that about Brad, that he says things like that. He even asked Aiden if he wanted to go to California, right before he headed downstairs. I thought, "Is this really how it's going to be? Am I ready for this?" But Grampa's alive and kicking. Well, alive anyway. Phew. I wasn't too keen on meeting the coroner today, to tell you the truth. Brad reported seeing a big container of trailmix sitting next to him on the couch, so perhaps that was why he didn't feel the need for cereal. Trailmix for breakfast? Whatever floats your boat, Grampa. But he did come up a little later and eat some fruit I'd cut up for him.

There's a little bit of this every morning - wondering if he will come up for breakfast or if he's sitting down to a heavenly breakfast instead. He's in fairly good health but with his history of strokes etc, you just never know. Being confronted on a daily basis with the very real possibility that each day might be the last we spend with him helps my perspective and renews my supply of grace. When the day comes when he doesn't come up for breakfast, I don't want to look back and regret my attitude. That doesn't mean I'm never irritated or impatient, but it helps to bring me back to seeing the big picture and to think about the fact that Grampa is someone else's little boy. Of course, I never met Grampa's mother, but we have some things in common. For one, she cut up his fruit at the beginning of his life, and I'm cutting up his fruit now.

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Bones" on the brain

Sometimes I kill an ant or two on the counter - I'm not as scrupulous as I should be when it comes to crumbs- and I hope that I'm getting the scout ant. The one who forages for food, leaving a scent trail for his confederates to follow. I can kill the ant and clean up the food and hopefully disrupt whatever strange path of ant markers that have been laid down, but as I do so, I wonder about the ant's friends. Do they send out search parties and detectives? Do they have forensic ants, CSI ants? Do they discover trace amounts of the remains of their fallen colleague and reconstruct the events that led to his tragic demise? "He discovered the banana bread crumbs, temptingly Sigh. Carbs were always his weakness, the greedy wretch. He was carrying a sample past the he was crushed by a giant hand and swept over the edge into the garbage disposal..." Here the detective ant pauses, struggles to keep his emotions in check, fighting the overwhelming ghastliness of it all. The detective ants' assistant pats his thorax sympathetically, as they continue with the gruesome post-mortem report.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I guess I got caught up in all the minutia and mechanics of writing last night ( or this morning? Note to self: do not drink caffeinated beverages after the stroke of noon as it leads to nights of several hours less sleep...), because it seems to me now, in the light of morning, that I didn't give proper credit where credit was due.

Each day on my drive to work with Philip, I ask God for his help. Whenever there is light brought out of darkness, whenever there is truth brought out of confusion, whenever there is a breakthrough, I believe that is His doing. He is the author of the "Aha!" moment. It is one of the best feelings in the world to work with Him.

And then there is Philip. Some might think that in this line of work, the therapist is the patient one. Not true. Philip is incredibly patient with me and very good humored. He endures me repeatedly "missing the mark" of what he is trying to say with indefatigable grace. I cannot imagine the utter frustration of being so often misunderstood, but it doesn't seem to get him down. He is an example to me.

My breakthrough moment - teaching myself to think like a speech therapist

Can't sleep so I'm just going to write.

I had somewhat of a breakthrough with Philip last Friday. He wanted to email his mom, which was great because sometimes it's like pulling teeth to get him to write. But once he started, I couldn't figure out what he was trying to say. He started out with some weather related words like Sunshine and dry but then had all these other adjectives mixed in like dirty, smooth, hard...I couldn't see where he was going with it. Everything I guessed or asked him was a dead end. For a while it seemed like he was just playing with me - throwing random words out there to fill time. I was getting a little frustrated because part of me knew that he was trying to say something and that it was meaningful to him and I just couldn't get it but the other part of me was like, what if he's just being lazy and running out the clock until you leave...? So there was this internal argument going on inside me. Fiiiinally, something clicked - I can't remember what it was- and I realized the general gist of what he was trying to communicate...that his mom had a lot of things going on this weekend and he hoped the weather would cooperate for her. So sweet.

The thing was, he had a lot to say. He was telling his mom to "splurge" ( really! His word, not mine! He used it from his school vocab page) on a blender at a yardsale. And he wanted it to be purple. And he wanted to talk about the tupperware party she was going to be holding. The problem was, ( and it was a good problem!) he would throw out words all over the place about things ( yardsaling, weather, tupperware party) and I'd be jumping back and forth, trying to sort out which thing he was talking about. Hard to form grammatically correct sentences when you're playing hopscotch amongst ideas.

And then, I had an "Aha!" moment. I'm not sure I'm computer savvy enough to make this analogy work but I'll try: because his brain is wired a little differently than most people's and he doesn't really think in sentences, I think writing for him is like trying to convert a certain kind of file into a program for which it hasn't been formatted. It doesn't work. Error messages pop up all over the place. The communication is blocked.

Suddenly, I had this mental image of what must be going on in his brain. I pictured a tangled skein of ideas, kind of like the cloud that follows the Peanuts character, Pigpen. Philip tries to grab hold of one of those threads of thought and disengage it from the rest, but it breaks off and he comes away with a single word. He goes back to get the rest of the first thought but instead he ends up coming away with a piece of another thought. And that's what we see on the Dynavox - words representing whole complex thoughts that are sometimes somewhat related, sometimes completely unrelated, sitting next to each other. I told Philip about this mental image I had of his writing process- not exactly in these words but basically the same idea- and said, "Is this what it's like for you?" His face lit up and he indicated a strong Yes. I said, " Does it help you to have me sorting out the different thoughts and helping you organize them?" Because, even though it might seem like a dumb question or even a leading question, I didn't want to assume and I needed to know. Again, he indicated an instant, strong Yes. I practically cried. To see the joy on his face - the joy of being understood - that made me realize that my life counts for something good.

It's so obvious now that I've had that mental I've known it all along but now I understand it in a different way. Maybe I would have known it a lot sooner if I'd gone to school for speech therapy. Makes me want to go back to school again...

This kind of breakthrough doesn't happen often, and it doesn't really need to happen often - some days the mundane is fine- but when it does, it makes my heart sing and makes all the frustration melt away and EVERYTHING is worth that moment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Walking Day

I would just plunge into the news of the day but it requires some background. I started writing about this a couple months ago, but never posted...

So here is part of what I wrote back in May.

Aiden is almost 17 months old now, and I am starting to really worry about the fact that he's not walking. Well, part of me is starting to worry. I know, I know. Lots of people assure me that it's okay, that he'll walk when he's ready. And I'm one of them. I have this weird dualistic nature where one part of me is okay with it and the other is wracked with a gnawing fear. I tell myself that it's because of his contented personality, because of the fact that he doesn't have older siblings to show him the way. Or maybe it's because he has a mother who is blogging about it, instead of leading him around the house with her index fingers.

I think it's also because he is an extremely cautious child. He gets this in strong doses from both his parents. I can't decide if that's a blessing or a curse. I think the blessing and the curse cancel each other out and just leave it a plain old thing. But I can't help but think, poor Aiden- doomed to a life of slow, methodical, careful circumspection. So, back to the walking thing: he navigates things very carefully. He's only had about three big boo-boos in his life. I think that, like his mother, any sort of change comes difficult to him. But it does worry me, this not walking thing. I hear about these wunderkind babes who leap from their parents arms at four months old and never look back, and my brow furrows. I resist my pediatricians suggestions to saddle him in a physical therapy program. Oh, please, says the common sense that I inherited from ALL my forebears. He can walk. He just doesn't want to. One of these days the walking gene will overtake him and he won't be able to escape. Right now he's slow developmentally ( he can crawl like a speed demon, so I wouldn't say he's really slow physically), but at least he's happy, and I don't want to foist my angsty timetable on him.

Now - here I am- in July again. I finally got the ball rolling looking into this program that my pediatrician recommended. It turns out that there is a real reason why he wasn't walking.
( Duh!) The physical therapist gave this diagnosis: "bilateral forefoot pronation with calcaneal valgus and tibial internal rotation." Which is, in layman's terms, the arches on his feet sort of slope and don't support his weight right and so he's unstable, which makes him hesitant to walk. The physical therapist recommended that he be fitted for leg braces which he will wear for a few months to help correct this problem. I am just so relieved to know the reason WHY he wasn't walking. We go to get him measured for his leg braces on Friday - coincidentally when he turns 19 months- and they should take a couple weeks to come. Then he will start physical therapy.

He did take his first steps on Father's Day about a month ago, but since then, I could count on one hand the number of times he has walked by himself...and that was only with much coaxing.... until today. This afternoon, I turned around and he was walking. All by himself, with no prompting. I was stunned! Thrilled! Flabbergasted in disbelief! And again, later, I caught him walking! It happened several times - seemed like every time I turned around, he was walking somewhere! It just makes me almost roll my eyes because I knew as soon as I addressed the problem and got him into the physical therapy program, he would just start walking on his own. Sure enough. Go figure! We will still get the braces to correct his feet and we'll do some physical therapy, but this has relieved me no end.

He gets up and toddles off and I follow him, just laughing. So many people have said, " Once he starts walking, you'll wish he wasn't!" Maybe, but I don't think so. I'm so, SO thankful. It's going to take some getting used to - seeing him walk upright!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Our vacation

As some of you saw by Brad's pictures on Facebook, we just had a very nice little vacation in North Georgia. And I have to say right now, thankyou Lieutenant Lynn, for encouraging Brad to take some time off. Without you, this vacation probably would not have happened. It was GREAT!

The vacation really started on Friday when we went to a Red Sox game with Nate and Penny. That was a whole ton of fun, despite the withering heat. The Red Sox won, of course. 4-1, including a homerun by Ortiz. A row of Braves fans behind us was commenting about his recent hitting slump and how since Manny's been gone, Ortiz is nothing b/c it's all about how the people around you are doing, and basically concluding that he's a has-been... and then he hits this beautiful home run and I just wanted to turn around and be like, "So, were you just saying?" In your face, people! But I didn't. This game was made possible Aiden-free ( as much fun as having his sweaty, squirmy little 22 pounds on our laps would have been) by my parents who spent a very long evening with him at our house. Thanks, folks!

After a leisurely Saturday morning, we set out for the north country. We were a little like Abraham, going out not knowing exactly where we were going...( just the general direction) ... flying by the seats of our respective pants and skirts. We did a lot of exploring and scouting of scenic vistas in such places as the Chattahoochee National Forest before settling in a nice little town close to the North Carolina border.

Over the course of this vacation we spent a few hours in the charming but tourist trappy town of Helen - a.k.a. "Alpine Helen"- in various Bavarian wannabe shops and such...including a charming model train place, where Aiden was captivated by all the choo-choos. We also consumed some fine German comestibles and found that Aiden likes sauerkraut. At least, he didn't spit it out.

But my favorite spots were natural ones such as "Brasstown Bald" - the highest point in Georgia. On our way up, we saw a bobcat crossing the road. No kidding. From the observation deck at the top of the mountain you can see four different states. Well, at least you can when it isn't so hazy. But the weather was gorgeous! It felt positively New England-ish, which was a welcome change from the hotter-than-Hades temperatures in the valley and we were told that, in fact, because of its elevation, the mountain has its own unique weather system which resembles Massachusetts rather than Georgia. We even did a little hiking.

Another favorite spot, on the other side of the Chattahoochie National Forest, was the Anna Ruby Falls. Ah, waterfall mist. Phew. Very refreshing on a humid day after the little hike it took to get up there.

And we just loved driving around on back roads and eating up the Appalachian mountain scenery and exploring little podunk towns. This is what we like to do. It feeds our souls.

We even drove by Lake Burton and I gave a shout-out to Laura Brown's mother.

Also, many thanks to Penny and Nate and Mom and Dad P., for their management of the Grampa aspect of things which allowed us to get away. In our case, it takes a village to get a vacation!

Now we are home again, home again, jiggety jog.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Conspiracy of Eye Doctors

Yesterday I had my annual eye exam. I dread this appointment every year but this time I held out a carrot to tempt myself through the ordeal - the promise of new glasses. I wear contacts most of the time but I do wear glasses in the evenings and sometimes for part of the day. I've tired of my old glasses, even though they're only a couple years old and since I slept on them once in the desperate sleep of the first few months of Aiden-hood, they have been slightly deformed and don't fit me quite right. Brad thinks its ridiculous that I didn't go get them re-fitted. Ah. Whatever. I figured that maybe I'd give my eyes a rest from contacts more if I could put them behind fresh, new glasses.

So I went in to see the eye doctor as soon as my insurance would allow. I made it through the horrid, suspenseful torture of the airpuffing machine and the stinging eye drops to dilate my eyes...both callously administered by a youth who looked as if he was young enough for this to be a summer job between his sophomore and junior years of highschool and had all the charm of a delinquent. Not confidence inspiring for someone like me who likes to be coddled through this dreadful experience. But I suppose it was good because it sort of threw me off balance and I didn't have time to dwell upon my palsied optometric past. I have a history of being so nervous at eye doctors that I make myself sick. I have thrown up or almost fainted in eye doctor's offices more times than I care to remember.

The actual exam itself went well, and then the eye doctor tried to explain what my insurance would cover for glasses. Confusion. I smiled and nodded as if I followed him perfectly through the convoluted percentages of frames, lenses, coatings, blah, blah, blah. We went out to the little room where all the frames are displayed. I picked out a pair in a style that I had my eye on ( no pun intended) while browsing before I was called in for the exam. I call them T.S. Eliot glasses. But here is the problem. It's really hard to see up close when your eyes are dilated. I couldn't figure out the price! And all the time, the eye doctor was pushing all these other frames at me, which I didn't like, and shouting their praises. I thought this was highly suspicious. A deliberate ruse carried out by the optometrist community. Dilate the patient's eyes and then force them into the most expensive pair of glasses while they can't see what's going on. My eye doctor is a strong minded individual who understandably enough seems to fancy himself an expert on the subject, but as Dave Ramsey says, " You are the expert on your opinion." I was almost tempted by a pair of Sarah Palin-esque glasses that he recommended for me but when I later showed Brad a cell phone picture of me wearing them, he deemed them a thumbs-down. Apparently, they oldened me. And I see what he means. And what's more, I have no idea how much they cost.

( I did think, amidst the maelstrom of advice and frames, to at least ask about the price of the T.S. Eliot glasses, having given up trying to make out the little sticker on the side through my fuzzy, dilated vision and apparently the frames are totally covered by my insurance, but I got the feeling that the eye doctor was slightly disparaging of them. Which secretly makes me want to buy them even more. I am a strange creature, wanting to vex an almost total stranger. Perhaps this is a dangerous indication of a latent desire to defy authority. On the other hand, perhaps it's a sign of a healthy shaking off of co-dependent shackles. Let the analyzation begin...)

Sigh, that's life. You go in to the office all excited, thinking you want T.S. Eliot glasses and then someone tries to convince you that Sarah Palin glasses are the way to go. And indecision grips you. And you go out with NO glasses.

Brad has an appointment there next week. We are going to go in together beforehand to look at frames and try to ignore the eye doctor and help each other decide what to get. Because we are going to be the ones looking at the other person's glasses most of the time!

As I checked out at the receptionist desk and mentioned my indecision, one of the ladies behind the counter said that she always lets the eye doctor choose her glasses. That just seems wrong. It's one thing to be a slow waffler; it's another to abdicate your decision to someone else altogether.

I wanted to scream at her.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Confessions of a Money Launderer

Remember how I posted about finding hidden treasure recently? ( Um, recently, as in like... three or four months ago...?) The jars of change that were hidden in our midst? Well, let's just say for the sake of giggles that you do remember. ( Although I haven't really written for so long that I'd be surprised if anyone actually reads this!) One of the jars was all gross and dirty. Not merely dusty but truly grubby and gunky. You see, the change was leftover from Brad's bachelor days. This change had accumulated around his sink, for some odd reason. Toothpaste plus Comet plus years of moldering in a jar = a disgusting crust that seemed to defy all my efforts. I put the change in a basin of water and left it in a bathtub for a long time. Um...months. It evaporated. ( The water, that is.) I put in more. And left it.

The other day, Brad again dangled the possibility of using that money towards a netbook... IF I finished cleaning it. Ah! I sprang - in a languid sort of way- into action.

( You see, far be it from me to complain, but let's just say that I really want a different computer. You'd understand if you could see my set up here. I have a laptop whose screen is very ill, and so we hooked it up to a giant monitor in the family room...which clearly defeats the purpose of having a laptop. I hanker to be set free from this munga monitor. Imagine me with a huge, flickering albatross around my neck and you get the picture. Something ultra-portable would be nice. A hummingbird of a computer. I told myself that this was only a temporary situation so I refused to even bring the desk chair up I've been sitting on one of those papasan foot stool thingies...for months. Not even approaching ergonomically correct. It's amazing how I can get used to uncomfortable situations. The proverbial frog in a boiling pot. This is a strange thing about me. Yes, I am Foolish. So, in short, I am hungry for this netbook.)

I went back to my bathtub and hauled out the cash. ( For some reason, I just laughed aloud at that last sentence. You know it's getting late when I amuse myself to that degree.) I tried soaking the change in vinegar. I even poured in some baking soda to entertain myself with the fizzing and give myself the illusion that I was accomplishing something...and remembered Pastor Neil Sandford using the reaction of baking soda and vinegar as an object lesson one Sunday morning. But I think I can safely say that he was not using it to launder money.

I used dishwasher detergent too. Didn't really help much. But this weekend we had a church cookout. ( No I didn't just completely go off on a tangent. This does relate.) And there was some Diet Coke left over that we ended up taking home. Thanks, Bryan and Sarah!) Well, this evening, we were in need of some Nate and Penny time. Penny's been so busy with work that we haven't had time to see her much lately and I just needed my Penny fix. When they arrived and saw me in a Scrooge McDuck posture, scrubbing and sorting my cache of cash, Nate had a brilliant idea...What better solution to clean the filthy lucre with than Coca-Colaaaa!

If we have robbers tonight, I doubt they will look in the sink, in the pyrex measuring cup full of cola for the mother lode. Further bulletins as events warrant. But given recent habits of writing, or non-writing I should say, don't hold your breath.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

News from Lake Woebegone

I received this in email form yesterday from my father and thought it was too good NOT to share. I have his permish to re-broadcast it. I laughed so hard that I cried at the same time, and as I read it aloud to Brad, I had to stop and re-read certain parts because he couldn't understand what I was saying, due to excessive mirth. Read this; I bet you'll think he should start his own blog.

Maybe you noticed the phrase "senseless random curve balls" in my Friday e-mail that I sent out yesterday. Well sir I'm here to tell you that one came to this house last night. It was seemingly senseless and hopefully random as in seldom.

Mama and I got to bed about 11. I was not tired so I laid there in relative peace and listened to the night sounds inside and out. Gradually I became aware of divers noises that I did not recognize. One noise seemed reminiscent of the patter of small feet. Another was like a purposeful and insistent tapping on wood with your knuckles. Another was a sound of metal clanging in the bathroom. These came on and off until I could feel my body tensing in preparation for some action. Occasionally a cold chill would break out in my body as I fought back wild imaginations of future doom. Then it happened. Some small creature from the pit leaped in the air and landed on by bare shoulder as I lay there partially covered in the hot room. In a mighty spasm of twitching indignation I thrust him from me with a wild alarm that was wholly primeval. I kid you not, I saw a furry form arcing through the air over Mama and landing on the far edge of the room. Well sir, that startled me a bit. I awoke Ma and we set bout to engage in predatory behavior of a most primitive kind. In the dim light of midnight we saw the creature zip out the bed room door into unknown regions. Then I descended to the
bottom floor to rummage through some stuff in an attempt to find a rat trap which I set with bread and peanut butter. Once more I saw the creature now in the lower apartment so I left the trap where any wayfarer would have to travel if he wanted to ascend to our quarters. During this whole process the trap slipped in my hands only to find a finger of mine that shouldn't have been there. Thankfully it didn't light with full force. One half hour later Ma heard a whap! I smiled inwardly to myself realizing the ultimate fate that must have overtaken our friendly
neighbor. But alas when I went down this morng to check my trap, it was sprung but there was no animal in sight. Groansville! Now what?

So we lounge nonchalantly in our quarters this sabbath with no certain knowledge of the means of access or exit that this guy might have. Will we get a re run tonight? I know not, oh, I know not. We did set the trap again and are hoping for permanent results before bed time tonight. Any
ideas? By the way, we don't really know whether it was a squirrel, a chipmunk, or a rat. It looked like a flying squirrel but I haven't seen any around the house. Maybe that's because they are all inside the house.

That's the news form Lake Woebegone.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not much to relate...

...just that since last time I posted, we drove a couple thousand miles with a small child, and lived to tell the tale.

Yes, we drove northwards aproximately two weeks ago to attend the Feast of Passover celebration in NH and to visit many a friend and family member. I am happy to report that Aiden did extraordinarily well in the car and really seemed to enjoy meeting and interacting with new people. It did my heart a great deal of good to introduce him to the world of Fairwood. And it did my soul and spirit no end of good just to be there again. It had been a staggering two and a half years since I'd set foot on the premises, and I could feel it in my bones. Fairwood is not the prettiest in March, especially sporting the post-ice storm carnage, but I was thrilled to be there.

Among other notable events, we visited Mrs. B - the elderly lady I used to live with the last two years I was at St. A's. We also visited Grandma Sweet - Great Grandma to Aiden- and that was a lot of fun because of course, they had never met each other before. We also had lunch in Keene at one of our favorite old haunts - Kristen's bakery- with Brad's former boss at Ritz. We also visited with many other friends and enjoyed marvelous weather while we were there. The spiritual aspect of things was also quite refreshing, but I guess I will save that for another day. I really did not want to come home but sleeping in the same room with Aiden was getting old. ( He starts groaning/whining in his sleep around 6:30 every morning.) Driving home was like driving through Narnia as the winter turned to spring in a few hours. We left piles of dirty snow behind us and came home to leaves on ( some of) the trees! We listened to "All Creatures Great and Small" on audiobook in the car and that helped the hours to pass a little more quickly. Oddly enough, the only time we hit any serious traffic we were only a few miles from home. What should have taken us fifteen minutes took us an hour. It was absolutely maddening.

We got home to find that Grampa had apparently overfed the cat ( I had left plenty of food for Stan) and when he saw he was running low on cat food, he picked up a box of what he must have thought was cat food and mixed it in with the dwindling supply of um...real cat food. Yes, he mixed the kitty-litter in with the cat food. I was horrified to say the least. At least it was clean - but Stan wasn't eating it. I wanted to get in the car and drive right back to New Hampshire. But thankfully, our cat woes are behind us for good, I think. I took Stan to his new home on Wednesday morning. Homes in the country are no longer euphemisms for putting an animal down. He should have an interesting life from now on with five dogs, one other cat, and two birds in the house. Um yes. It will take him some time to acclimate from our boring abode, I'm sure. Anyway- I'm veering off into another subject completely...Another topic for another day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


So, Stan has yet to make his departure. His new mom couldn't make it last night. I hate long goodbyes. Sigh. Cat-givers can't be complainers. ( A new spin on "beggars can't be choosers.")

The other day, Brad opened up the old trunk that we use as a coffee table in our upstairs family room. I guess it had not been opened in a very long time because inside it he found...two large jars of change. We hit the jackpot in our own home! We have yet to count it but we hope that it will mostly finance the purchase of a new laptop because mine ( the first one we ever bought) is rather sickly. You can't see anything on the whole left side of the screen. Which is unfortunate because that's where most of the icons are, and the Start menu. We're thinking about getting a Netbook rather than a full fledged laptop b/c that may suit our needs a little better. We shall see. Any Netbook users out there who want to weigh in and give us your opinions?

ANYWAY... I thought about making a little Biblical joke and rebuking him for not putting that money in the bank so it could have at least earned interest instead of just hiding it away in a trunk... like the parable of the stupid steward.( Or whatever it's called.) After all, I am a hard person, reaping where I do not sow...etc...

So anyway- rejoice with us! That which we didn't even know we had has been found!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Farewell, Stanne with an E.

Tonight our cat Stan is, in the vernacular of these days, " going bye-bye." I have finally gotten my soul around the hard truth that he is not suited for co-habitation with a small child. Most of the time, he is a fairly mellow fellow, but he has fits of... for lack of a better word, "bitey-ness." Which is fine if you are an adult and you are expecting it... although it's pretty hard to expect b/c it's usually like an attack from Special Forces - swift and fierce and out of the blue. And with Aiden getting more mobile, the time has come to be more proactive about babyproofing our environment. So Stan is a victim of babyproofing cutbacks.

Fortunately, I have found him a good home with a former co-worker of mine. I am so happy that I didn't have to take him to a shelter and that I know he will be going to a good home where there are even other animals! I am hoping he will acclimate well - making friends and influencing fellow pets. I can't quite believe this situation has worked's almost too good to be true. I'm afraid this wonderful former coworker, who I hadn't talked to for over six months, and who I randomly emailed, asking if she wanted to take Stan in, will change her mind or something and bring him back. I won't really believe it has worked until a few weeks go by.

I am trying hard not to be sad. I am reminding myself that the list of reasons why we should give him away is far longer than the list of reasons to keep him. Basically, there are two reasons why we should keep him: 1) Because I am insanely loyal and 2) Because sometimes he sits in my lap and makes me feel warm and cozy. The reasons we should say goodbye to him are so long that I won't even start. Anyway, the most important reason is Aiden's safety and so I know I am doing the right thing.

So I am deliberately refraining from a long and sentimentally nostalgic post about how we brought him home as a kitten from a yardsale...and all the cute things he he was a part of our lives for almost two and a half years....aaauuugh!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Post about Two Unrelated Things

I know some of you - okay, just Liane, as far as I know- don't like hearing what other people think heaven will be like, but just indulge me for a minute. ( And Liane, you can skip this paragraph. Or not read the entire post, if you wish. But there is a charming story you may enjoy further down.) You know what I'm reeeeeally looking forward to - among other things- about the hereafter? Lack of pettiness. Whatever heaven looks like, whatever form paradise assumes, I highly doubt we're going to be irritated with other souls. But just in case, to guard against even a tiny chance that heaven may be slightly vexing, my heaven will most likely be a hermitage for the first ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun.... When I want to encounter another soul, I will walk/fly/balloon to the part of heaven where everyone else lives, visit who I choose, go back to my chosen place of blissful exile and thus, I will acclimate myself to a happy eternity. After ten thousand years, I may move to a celestial small town ( I don't know about a celestial city- that's a bit much, even for heaven), but at first, I believe I will inhabit an island in the universe, my own little Monticello. ( Did you know that Thomas Jefferson was a bit of a homebody and hermit? It's true! Why does that make me feel vindicated?) So in case you're wondering where I am for a few millennia, I'm just letting you know ahead of time. Yep, that's what I'm looking forward to. That and not having to cook every day. I think I would be a much better cook if hunger did not exist and I only had to cook when I wanted, just for the sheer joy of culinary creation. This would probably happen only about two or three times a week.

Now, for something COMPLETELY different, the other day, Grandpa came upstairs for breakfast looking like he'd had a less-than-friendly run-in with Mike Tyson. There was blood on his nose. Not under his nose but on the bridge. I questioned him about it and he didn't know what had happened. When the subject came up later, he seemed a bit embarrassed but apparently he'd figured out what happened. It seems that he had a dream that Aiden had fallen down and Grandpa was trying to rescue him; in so doing, he fell out of bed. Poor Grandpa! But isn't that sweet? Even in his sleep, he's watching out for Aiden. The scabs of heroism remain apparent and I just hope the neighbors don't think I'm abusing him!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009: The Year of the Selfish Valentine

For Valentine's Day, I surprised Brad with a grill. I can NEVER surprise Brad so I'm quite pleased with myself for pulling this off. But I felt a bit shady. I thought to myself, as I purchased the grill and the grill accessories ( that's kind of a girly tools better?) that it's kind of a selfish gift. Happy Valentine's Day, darling: you may now cook for me! But he's actually been wanting a grill for a while - and I knew this. So I was happy to oblige. Plus, now, we can have people over for barbeques and the like. Yay! Suddenly our world will explode into an exciting whirl of social-butterflyness. Um, no. Sorry to disappoint, but I doubt that either one of us will ever emerge from our comfortable, introverted cocoons to become social butterflies. But whatever. I digress.

I went to Lowe's to purchase the grill... and I told Philip ahead of time that I was going. I think he was a little miffed that I wasn't taking him but handling Aiden, a cart, and a wheelchair would have been a bit much. It was weird being at Lowe's without Philip; I would hear the beep-beep of the forklift and have to stop myself from instinctively running toward it. Like a moth to a flame...( Boy, winged creatures are popping up all over this post. Butterflies, moths...I suppose bats are next. ) I saw a few of Philip's employee friends and they were astonished to see me without Philip but happy to meet Aiden. A couple of the forklift guys said to him, "I knew you before you were born!" It made me smile.

I came home from buying the grill and guess who came to the door? The neighbor boy...with steaks! What timing! Yes, these foody neighbors are going in the Hall of Neighborly Fame!
( THEN...yesterday...they sent their daughter over with...wait for it...a WHOLE CHICKEN...which we cooked all day Sunday in the crockpot. It made for a sumptuous dinner. It's all we can do to keep up with eating the glorious food that gets thrown at us by our neighbors!) We didn't actually grill the steaks yet b/c we haven't assembled the grill - ahem, HE hasn't assembled the grill yet, there will be no WE about it.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Scrabble-tastic! or "How Scrabble, far from ruining our relationship, has improved it!"

You know you've been playing online Scrabble too much when you find yourself in traffic rearranging the letters of the license plate in front of you, trying to make a word out of them.

As iron sharpeneth iron, so playing against better Scrabble players ( Brad and Julie - a friend from high-school- hurray for Facebook!) is slowly improving my game. But two games at once is about the max for my brain. I get into a game and think, "Where is that letter "G"? Oh, it was in the other game I'm playing...Rats!"

The old stereotype of a husband coming home and sitting down behind his newspaper has been replaced with a new stereotype in these modern days: the husband sits behind his laptop. But the thing is, in the old days, wives usually couldn't get INTO the newspaper to speak to their husband. ( But that would be pretty funny... Now I'm envisioning this scenario where a husband finds an article written by his wife telling him all about her day...) Poor things - the wives of yesteryear were reduced to standing behind the newspaper wall and shouting. ( Now I'm envisioning another scenario where the wife is taking a Reaganesque stance and demanding of her husband that he "...tear down this newspaper." ) ( I think my creative juices have been spiked or something. Yes, this is weird.)

ANYWAY... my point is... the wives of today CAN get on the computer and harass their husbands. It's called "online chatting." BLOOP! Up pops a window and there is the wife, invading the cyber-sanctum. Of course, husbands are still free to ignore them. But whatever.

DISCLAIMER: Brad does not ignore me and rarely tunes me out. ( At least, that's what I think. Who knows...? If he does, it's done very intelligently.) But whatever tuning out happens, it can go both ways. Sometimes the un-computered spouse will mumble something passive-agressive about wishing that he/she was the computer so that the spouse would pay attention to him/her. And it's a little joke that both of us understand and at which neither takes offense. We take it as a little wake-up call, jolting us from our cyber-trance, informing us that the other wants to spend time with us. Computers make the heart grow fonder. At least, sometimes. With us.

ALL THIS TO SAY...the other day, I found great joy when I discovered that I COULD be the computer. When we started playing online Scrabble, sometimes he would be upstairs on his laptop, I'd be downstairs on mine, and we'd be chatting away like lovers separated by many miles...It was SO much fun! The best of both worlds! On the computer, and yet with each other too!

Now all we need is a laptop for Aiden and life will be complete.

I am kidding.

Thanks, Gretchen, for encouraging me to get back to my therapy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grandpa: Music Video Connaisseur... Extraordinaire

Recently, I took Grandpa to get his hair cut. I sat in the waiting area, absorbed in brain training on Brad's Nintendo DS. ( It's this little program where you do all these little exercises to keep your brain sharp. Gotta keep that old gray matter in shape, even if the rest of me is one big flabby noodle. ) I started to falter a bit in this endeavor; I lost my concentration, listening to Grandpa's interaction with the girl cutting his hair.

She was asking him if he liked watching sports, and he gave a rather noncommittal reply, and added that he watches videos. "Oh! Like music videos?" said the slightly airheaded young thing. "Yeah!" said Grandpa. I grinned to myself as I pictured what each was thinking, as if they had those little cartoon thought bubbles over their heads. The girl was thinking, "MTV music videos" and Grandpa was thinking, "Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Girl, what kind of 85 year old man watches MTV?!

I don't know WHAT Grandpa was thinking when she started talking about You-Tube.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cryptic Babblings Which You Can Skip If You Wish and I Will be None the Wiser, Nor Offended... But I felt the Need to Declare This Publically.

I've always been somewhat of a sensitive person. I remember in Kindergarten, when they handed out awards at the end of the year - and it was the type of thing where everyone got an award for SOMEthing, no matter how lame or exalted. And my award said, "Sensitive to other's needs" or something like that. Which, at the time, I was rather ashamed of because it made me sound like a lily-livered baby pansy. ( The mind of a six year old, who can fathom? I don't think I had any secret aspirations to be tough or anything, so what was the big deal?)

ANYWAY... My thinking on the matter has evolved to a more complicated plane. I realize that this capacity to sympathize and empathize can be a great strength, but it can also be a trap. Yes, it's a gift to comfort and help others, but it also tends to get me into trouble because I can "take up a cause" and get all upset FOR SOMEONE ELSE... often in ways that are unnecessary. I think it's a quality that can be exploited by the devil: "Why just get one person upset? I'll make sure Claire hears about it and then TWO people can have a miserable day!" And in that way it's also an invitation for DRAMA.

And guess what?! I'm burned out on drama! I think if one more drama happens, I will quit! Seriously! I will move to Australia and become an ostrich farmer!

I think I'm a codependent person. Wikipedia delves into the subject thusly:

Codependence (or codependency) is a popular psychology concept popularized by Twelve-Step program advocates.[1][2] A "codependent" can be loosely defined as someone who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her. A "codependent" is one side of a relationship between mutually needy people. The dependent, or obviously needy party(s) may have emotional, physical, financial difficulties, or addictions they seemingly are unable to surmount. The "codependent" party exhibits behaviour which controls, makes excuses for, pities, and takes other actions to perpetuate the obviously needy party's condition, because of their desire to be needed and fear of doing anything that would change the relationship.[citation needed]

A common usage of the term is that codependency occurs when enabling addiction, taking care of another person in a way that is not healthy in the long run to either that person or themselves, or both.[3] Codependency is loss of self for the codependent.[4]

Did you catch that? A LOSS OF SELF? More and more, I think I'm coming to a deeper realization that this is true of me. I know it sounds like a bunch of Dr. Phil mumbo-jumbo, but there is a kernel of truth in there. Disturbing truth. And a kernel may not sound big or important but when you're eating popcorn and suddenly you crunch down on a kernel, it can cause a heap of pain. Sometimes truth can bring pain, but that's no reason to avoid it. I believe the truth, however awful, eventually always leads to something good.

So here's the deal: I'm going to work on not caring as much. It's not a New Year's Resolution. It's a new LIFE resolution. If someone has a problem and I'm not the cause or the solution, please don't tell me about it. Please don't involve me. And if you do, don't be surprised if I don't JUMP into worried/caring/sensitive mode. ( Disclaimer: this does not include making me aware of legitimate prayer requests. I'm all fine with that. Disguising drama as a prayer request...gossip with a tacked on mention of prayer at the end: not fine with it. ) I may have to swing to the opposite end of the pendulum for a while and appear callous and uncaring...I think to end up in a good, healthy, middle of the road place, I might have to go to an opposite extreme for a while, just to extricate myself from this codependent ditch.

I hereby resign from drama, and from being a codependent person. If you want to be all upset about something, go ahead. I am not joining you. Sorry! Oh, wait. No, I'm not sorry. Unless I am at fault. Then I'll feel bad like nobody's business.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Warning - Chai Berry Latte is EVIL

Words to the wise: When you go to Starbucks to indulge yourself and redeem your Christmas stocking gift card, don't be tempted by the strange reddish tea. Don't tell yourself, "You should try something new. Be adventurous. Go out on a limb. Order the Chai Berry Latte." Give me your ears, you simpletons. I beg of you: Do not do it. Be safe. Stay with the good old standbys...the cappuccino. The Caramel Macchiato. The White Chocolate Mocha. Do not associate with a strange new beverage; it is folly in liquid form.

This drink is loathsome. Be warned.

Do not look on the Chai Berry Latte when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper...and just generally tastes horrible.

And above all, DON'T get a grande size of something you've never tried before! Stupid, stupid, stupid. *smacks forehead in disgust*

Fortunately, I did not spend all of the gift card. I went back today and got my old favorite - the white chocolate mocha- to reassure myself that Starbucks is still my friend. And it was gooood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rejoice with me

I just need to vent some joy here.

A week or two before Thanksgiving, one of Grandpa's front teeth came out. Long story. Actually, it was a crown that fell out. So he needed to get it replaced. Enter Nanston Dental and Dr. Magurski.

At first there was a temporary crown. But it kept falling out. Oh the tales and painful minutia I could share with you. Tales of days of soups and soft food. He lost weight; I felt bad. Tales of dental adhesive and Brad putting the tooth BACK IN HIS MOUTH FOR HIM! I kid you not. I lost track of how many times we went back to the dentist. With Aiden. Without Aiden. Carrying the temporary crown in a little baggie. And then there was the time it took five hours to re-attach it. Oh, look! I did share all the tales and painful minutia with you. Sort of. In nutshell form.

And then, the piece de resistance. The creme de la creme. The cherry on... okay you get the picture. Dad took him to the dentist to get the permanent crown put on. I think it was the week before Christmas. I was at work. It turns out that the dentist, poor man, dropped the crown into Grandpa's mouth. And Grandpa's mouth did what mouths usually do when you put things in them: swallow. I'm really not kidding. When Dad told me over the phone, I laughed. It was just too crazy. I met him in the ER after I left work. There were X-rays taken to make sure the crown hadn't gone into his lungs. Poor Grandpa. Poor everyone! What a bizarre adventure in this dental saga.

He did have a temporary crown in though. Which fell out about one day later. As I said, it was a few days before Christmas and I just gave up at that point and decided not to go back to the dentist until the permanent crown was ready. Grandpa looked a little bit like a jack o' lantern but he didn't seem to mind a whole lot.

I got a call last week- from Mistress Martha of Nanston Dental, you recall from my last post. The new permanent crown had arrived. So this morning, we went in. I have to admit, I was plain and simple braced for catastrophe. What fresh calamity would befall us today? Well, this time I was ready. Aiden was with Brad, I had my fabulous nail file/buffer thing that I got in my Christmas stocking and cuticle cream so I could indulge myself in a little nail pampering. Also, I had Brad's Nintendo DS with the Brain Age game, so I could challenge the good old grey matter while I waited. We got there early, Grampa got called in early, and the whole thing took about an hour. I was stunned. I think everyone was stunned. That's IT? We can just... walk out?

The tech who escorted him out did half-heartedly mention that he should probably have a cleaning sometime...I stepped toward the elevator and said, "We'll call you." As in, Don't call us, we'll call you. Meaning, It will be a LONG time before we voluntarily darken this door again! Let's let sleeping dogs LIE, woman! We just got this puppy installed, and already you want to barge in that mouth again? Have we not been in here enough times in the last two and a half months to satisfy you?!

So yes. Please share in my joy. To quote Strongbad ( associated with Trogdor and all things Homestarrunner, for those of you who are squinting and saying, "HUH?!"), "It's OVER!"

But is it? Knock on...something. I'm still waiting for the other...tooth to drop.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I have decided that blog-writing is a kind of therapy for me and that the main reason I've been so cranky lately has nothing to do with it being January - which is usually enough to reduce me to a miserable, hopeless blob- and it has nothing to do with the world going to heck in a handbasket...financially, politically, socially, spiritually...No, it's solely due to the fact that I've let blogging rust by the wayside. So now, in the glorious pursuit of my own selfish happiness, I shall subject any and all readers to the minutia of my life once again.

I was working with Philip today, and my phone rang. I answered it, said, "Hello, this is Claire..." and the person on the other end said, " This is Martha." Silence. Blank. Martha? Hmmm... Martha, Martha, Martha...

Now, I have only known one Martha in my life, and I haven't spoken to her for years. Not that we had a falling out or anything; she was a good friend from college and we just lost touch. But this was the kind of thing she would do - call me up out of the blue after years of silence and just say, "This is Martha." I was floored! I was bewildered! How had she gotten my cell number?! I could picture her - her smiling face, her dark eyes behind glasses, her dramatic hair, her feet in open sandals traversing the Saint A's campus, even in the snowy dead of winter, her kind, intelligent, accident-prone self, somewhere in Vermont on the other end of the phone. I said, "MARTHA R-----?!" And she said, "No, Martha from Nanston Dental, calling to confirm Charles' dental appointment on Wednesday." Blaaagh. So matter of factly. As if we spoke all the time and were great old, first-name-basis friends. I felt mentally whiplashed. How dare she sound so familiar! Suddenly, there was this great excitement- here was my dear friend Martha... and then she was snatched away by a stranger. Now I feel a great Martha shaped void in my life and I cannot find her on Facebook. So I am sending out a great Martharic yawp into the cosmic void: MARTHA! How have you been? What are you up to? Do you still live in Vermont among the heathen liberals? I must hear from you!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trogdor Comes On a Bib!

As we drove home from church today, and I watched Aiden fall asleep, wearing his meat-head hat from Aunt Liane, I was seized with an inspiration. I whipped out my cell phone, got a picture of him and sent it to her. She texted back a moment later, saying that we should be getting a package from her soon. And then I wondered if perhaps it had already come and was waiting for us at home; it occurred to me that we had not gotten the mail yesterday. When we got home, I sprinted up the driveway and lo, there was a package in the mailbox! It was mostly full of something else, but the other thing inside was...a new, knitted bib for Aiden...and yes that is a Trogdor patch on the front! HA HA! ( For the uninitiated, Trogdor is a fearsome, fire-breathing dragon who wreaks havoc and destruction upon feudal countrysides in a faux-videogame within an online cartoon-ish...type...thing. Um, yeah. It's a sort of "guess you had to be there" kind of thing. ) It has just made my day.

The big blurry swath on the left is his hand. He's flailing his arms with exceptionally vigorous joy. And who wouldn't, after all, with a cool, new bib and the green tissue paper it came in to play with!

I apologize for the poor quality picture here. This was taken with a cell phone after all. And I know it looks like I cut Aiden's hair with a weed-whacker, but it actually looks a tad better in real life. Have you ever tried to cut the hair of a small person who won't sit still and who violently resists your bescissored hand's advances? If you haven't, you can't judge me. If you have, and have succeeded better than I, I hereby officially invite you to my house to cut Aiden's hair. Not to discourage you or anything, but I'd liken it to trying to apply lipstick to an eel. Except in this case, you're using sharp instruments. Which renders this task infinitely more dangerous.

And in case anyone cares to know the current video sound emerging from the basement: bagpipes.