Monday, December 17, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
"Corinna kept taking her shoes off and asking me to put them back on," explained Jonathan. "Except about half the time I wasn't doing it right according to her, so she'd squirm away and try to put them on herself. The last time she squirmed out of my hands and I couldn't catch her before she face planted on the cement. She bloodied her nose, but otherwise seems okay." Meanwhile Corinna munched on some chicken nuggets. "Oh, and Isaac kept dumping bark on her head, so she'll need a bath again today."
Later, in the tub, the bathwater turned brown and silty so I drained the water and started the bath again. Her scalp was black with dirt. Two washes and two rinses later she was much cleaner.
After the bath, I pulled her shirt over her head, she started crying and blood poured from her mouth. Horrified, I saw a gap in her mouth where her tooth wasn't! Apparently she knocked her tooth very loose at the park and it was just dangling by threads until it came out completely. I swept my finger in her mouth and couldn't find the tooth, so I grabbed a wet wash cloth for her to chew on and stop the flow of blood. She was very distressed, partially from the pain, but also in part from the sight of blood, I think. She settled down when she got a washcloth tied off with crushed ice inside. Poor Bubbles!
Upstairs I found her tooth lying next to the bed where I was trying to dress her earlier, tooth, root and all. I stuck it in milk and proceeded to make numerous phone calls trying to reach a pediatric dentist on a Saturday. Good luck on a weekend! Each emergency number from the various dentists' offices would only lead to a completely different dental practice until I was back to the beginning office again.
Finally our regular family dentist called me back after getting in touch with a pediatric dentist. Apparently dentists don't replant primary teeth because there is a possibility that the tooth root will grow into the bone of the jaw, or that in the process of replanting the tooth, the permanent teeth will be damaged.
So this is Baby's Bubbles smile for the next 4 to 5 years:
The gum is healing over but still tender and prone to bleeding if bumped or irritated in any way. Corinna hasn't slowed down in the slightest and still runs, climbs, and wrestles with her brother, much to my consternation. I'm still concerned that her other front tooth may be loose. Or that she may knock that tooth out too since she has a slight overbite and her tooth pokes out a bit. Oh child!
Thursday, December 06, 2012
He wiped out on some gravel doing 20+ mph on his bike. He landed on his left side and broke just about everything but ribs: hip, collarbone, fingers. (He is left handed so that is unfortunate.) He was able to call an ambulance and Mom afterwards.
This is his third (fourth?) bad accident in the last couple years. Mom has already extracted a promise that this will be the last: no more road cycling for him.
It's a real shame because I don't think anything gave him more joy than cycling. Before the string of accidents started he was consistently doing fifteen, twenty thousand miles a year. Impressive for a man half his age.
The hip is the worst injury. It was broken in several places, and needed a several hour surgery to put in a pin that reaches almost to his knee.
They want him starting rehab as quickly as possible, or maybe it is Dad who wants that more than the doctors. He made it from his bed to a chair today... in about twenty minutes, with the help of Mom and two nurses.
The plan is to move to an inpatient rehab center as soon as possible and stay there until he can get around with a walker. (Crutches are off the table because of the broken collarbone.)
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Isaac: "Dis yuck."
Rachel: "There's ice cream for kids who eat their dinner."
Isaac: "I eat yuck, I have ice cream?"
Isaac ate the yuck without further complaint. One is tempted to guess that having tried it he liked it, but if so, no such admission was forthcoming.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Corinna vocabulary has grown! She now says hot, stinky, Isaac, Matthew, Mmm!, hi, uh oh, Mama, and bye. Jonathan has been trying to get her to say Dada, but she smiles, pats him and says Mama! She thinks she has a hairy mama who is full of play, and a smooth faced mama who nurses her and is great for snuggles.
In the last few weeks Corinna has started singing. In church she babbles in a sing-song voice during the hymns. She loves ring-around-the-rosy and sings the "ashes, ashes" part. At the all fall down part she laughs and laughs. She also enjoys "Wheels on the Bus," and will initiate the song by rolling her arms.
It is difficult to believe 18 months have already passed. She is our funny, happy Bubbles and she adds such joy in our home.
Monday, November 26, 2012
I worked for a couple hours but even though I'd been able to sleep for a few hours on the plane my body said that this was time to sleep, so I took a nap. I'm not sure there IS a good way to deal with jet lag flying East to Europe. My approach lately is to sleep when my brain gets fuzzy and hope that lines up reasonably well with my speaking schedule. I took another nap after dinner, then went to sleep at a reasonable time about 1:00 AM.
I was on my own for dinner. The cab driver had said that the plaza near the hotel -- one of many; it seems that Madrid loves plazas -- had good restaurants. So I peered in the windows until I found a menu that looked appetizing -- most had English descriptions up as well as Spanish. The emphasis was on tapas dining, so I picked four that sounded good. Three of them were on bruschetta -- two that I expected, and also the Iberian ham plate. The fourth plate turned out to be a toothpick skewering a bite of salmon and a couple peppers. All in all, not my best meal ever.
The conference on Friday went shockingly well for a product of first-time conference organizers. Mine was the second talk of the day, and while they couldn't set up the wireless mic I requested, they did get it set up for another speaker later. Lunch was the only disappointment -- plates of finger food that disappeared as soon as it arrived. They conference had sold out, and the catering was perhaps a little overwhelmed.
After lunch I headed back to the hotel with some of the other American speakers. I wanted to rest up before the dinner the organizers had invited the speakers to, especially since Jon warned us that dinner the night before had started about 11.
Dinner started on time at 9:30. This was fortunate because it lasted almost four hours. I lost count of the plates of pinchos (tapas) that we had. Eight kinds, perhaps, including the most fois gras I've ever eaten in one sitting. Hours into the meal the main course arrived, a kind of monster empanada stuffed with ox tail. It was good, but at that point I was already full. This was followed by three desserts, the last of which was American-style brownie topped with violet ice cream.
It was pretty epic, although to be honest none of it made me think, "Damn, I need to try this again some time," except perhaps the first pincho, some kind of bisque with meat and egg in it. If I were to guess, it was probably well over $100 per guest, including the four? five? kinds of wine. As one of the organizers said, "In Spain our economy is s***, but we can still cook."
Saturday morning I took an Easyjet flight to Paris. It reminded me of Southwest -- cheap and extremely bare-bones. Packed like sardines, paying extra to take even one bag besides my laptop briefcase. But hundreds of dollars cheaper than the other options.
I didn't do any sightseeing in Madrid. I suppose that was a missed opportunity but I planned to play tourist in Paris, and there was work to be done.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
For French in Action students, the pool across the street is perhaps even more famous.
It was cold and I was hungry. Fortunately there was a crêpe stand hoping to do some business with the crowd standing in line to get into the Centre Pompidou. He wasn't having much luck, possibly because of the rain. I was made of sterner stuff, and enjoyed a Nutella-and-coconut crêpe, folded into a cone for easier consumption.
No church meant I had a couple hours to kill before my tour. I knew the Louvre would be a madhouse. Maybe the slightly less famous Musée d'Orsay would be less busy... No such luck, it had a wait of over an hour as well. It might be the off season for foreign tourists, but it was still the weekend, so I was facing large French crowds.
I walked across the Seine to the Tuilleries garden.
I arrived at the edge of the Place de la Concorde.
The Tuilleries themselves were a bit underwhelming in late Fall.
But first! Random photo sampler!
L'hotel de ville: City Hall.
I vaguely remember something about a statue of a king who had his foot on the head of a commoner, and they had to redo that when that kind of attitude became ... unpopular. If so, it's not this statue.
Our tour guide said that the Hôtel de Châtillon is where Louis XIV's mistress liked to stay. Wikipedia only confirms that it was built by the architect of the Place des Vosges.
The Picasso museum was closed for renovations:
I saw this one kind of sad little playground. There are kids and schools in Paris, but they live behind nondescript facades and you won't notice them unless you're paying attention.
One of the oldest synagogues in Paris. Unfortunately, antisemitism is alive and well in France.
Back to the Tuilleries:
Monday, November 19, 2012
For lunch I ate at a Japanese restaurant down the street. Not exactly classic French cooking, but it was highly rated (deservedly so, it turned out), and close. It was packed -- is it normal for restaurants to still be doing brisk lunch business at almost 3 in Paris? -- but I got my food quickly despite this. Oddly, it took almost an hour to get my check afterwards. I think my waiter was having a bad day; one of the cooks caught my eye and shook his head sympathetically. Of course, in France as in most of Europe tipping isn't part of the culture -- service staff is supposed to take pride in doing good work without ham-handed post-facto bribery. Mostly this works.
After lunch I browsed the used book-and-dvd store nearby. (Across the street from it was its counterpart for Japanese material only. I saw several other stores with Japanese signage in the area, and a handful in Korean. Guess I picked an Asian corner of Paris purely by chance.) I picked up some DVDs for Dad, and a manga book for Christine.
There were too many shelves of manga books to do anything like an exhaustive evaluation, and I ended up picking one out almost entirely based on its cover.
I had the opposite problem with DVDs. I know absolutely nothing about French movies from the last twenty years. I asked a French lady my parents' age for advice, and took the four she recommended. With no guarantee that Dad would find any of these watchable, I added a dubbed James Bond movie and an American TV show.
That didn't really leave me with time for sightseeing before things started closing down for the day, so I retired to my room to plan the next day's activities.
For dinner I set out determined to have a French meal worthy of the name. I pored over dozens of reviews and finally set out. On the way, I found a shoe store and replaced my broken shoelaces with a new set. "Where are you from?" the shopkeeper asked. "The United States," I replied. "Is it obvious from my accent that I'm not Parisian?" "Yes," he said, "but I wouldn't have guessed American. Maybe German." I guess I'll take that as a compliment.
Unfortunately, my carefully chosen restaurant turned out to be only open for lunch. So I backtracked to a brasserie I'd seen on the way and ate there instead. Alas, my veal with rice was entirely forgettable. The waiter, however, had character. He kept replying to my French in English. Finally I called him on it: "You're embarrassing me here!" He shrugged, as if to say, it's nothing personal. "It's because you have an accent," he explained. Guess I need to work on that.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
- Rachel: "Kids Workshop at Home Depot, chess lessons, and Lego Kids Fest? You have a full day with Melissa and Matthew." Isaac, playing at the computer, was paying more attention than we thought: "Day wi' Mafew, 'issa, an' Eyeash!" [Matthew, Melissa, and Isaac!]
- Me, teasing: "Melissa, why are you such a climbing monkey?" Melissa, seriously: "I don't know. I'm just clever that way."
- Matthew learned at school that not all Christians are Mormons.
- Corinna thinks shoes are foot jewelry. I guess for girls, that's reasonably accurate.
- Rachel: "Isaac! You have to take the lid off before you pee! ... No, now it's too late."
- Melissa has started taking books to the bathroom.
- Things I thought went without saying: "Matthew, don't put bookmarks in your food."
- Last night Matthew got most upset with me when he kept trying to ask me a question but I wouldn't even let him finish it. "I'm done, Matthew. I have no more energy for questions." He insisted it was urgent. And that it would save me money. But I got him to bed without hearing the question. Today he remembered this most urgent question. It was about ... hovercraft construction techniques.
- Parenting: when there's a layer of brown silt at the bottom of your daughter's bathwater, and you're glad because this time it's only chocolate.
- Matthew: "No offense, Dad, but you need to work on resisting Mom's chocolate chip cookies."
- New house. Melissa went from "this room is AWESOME" to "I need to get rid of this wallpaper" in under ten minutes.
- Rachel: "My knees are getting older. We played Ring Around the Rosie in nursery today; I don't like 'all fall down' anymore."
- Everyone thought Melissa was asleep. No. She was taking advantage of everyone else eating breakfast to get the first turn on the computer.
- Rachel didn't believe me when I told her that wrapping presents in newspaper is a family tradition. Then Christine Ellis came in this morning looking for newspaper and tape to wrap a present.
- Went to a concert at UT with Rachel, my mom, and Christine. Afterwards, a high school kid wearing a Boston T-shirt tried to explain to me why the atonal piece was awesome. I still don't get it but I enjoyed his enthusiasm.
- "How to get oil pastel out of carpet." Things my kids make me google.
It was pretty simple, really. I had the kids at the park on a Saturday morning. Everything went well for almost an hour. Isaac started to get bored so I offered to push him in the swing. He urged me to push him faster and faster, until he achieved Maximum Four-year-old Velocity.
Then Corinna saw something that caught her attention and ran right in front of him.
I stopped Isaac before he hit her. Unfortunately I stopped him by grabbing his butt, and his head continued its backswing right into my nose.
The world exploded and I immediately started dripping blood, both from the inside of my nose and the outside. Meanwhile Isaac was whining that I hurt his head, so I tried to bleed into the woodchips with him in one arm and Corinna in the other. (I wasn't entirely successful in aiming for the woochips. Isaac also complained that I got some on him.)
It hurt like hell, so I had to squat there for a minute while things stopped throbbing quite so much. Then I went to the bathroom to wipe some of the blood off.
I rounded up the kids and took them to the donut shop, because damn it, I wanted to get Rachel donuts and breakfast tacos and this wasn't going to stop me. The donut shop lady didn't say anything, which kind of surprised me.
At home, Rachel confirmed that my nose was indeed crooked. "Maybe I should just leave it alone and let it heal," I said. "It's starting to hurt less." "You need to get that fixed! It really looks bad!" "Wouldn't you still love me with a crooked nose?" "Get it fixed."
So I went to an urgent care clinic up the road. The doctor charged me $200 for x-rays to "make sure it was broken" and then told me he couldn't do anything about it. Our conversation was brief:
Quack: "You don't look happy about this."
Me: "It was obvious my nose is broken. This is bullshit."
Quack: "I'm sorry you're upset. But you don't need to use language like that."
I didn't tell him to FOAD but I wanted to.
On Monday I went to an ENT who (after sending away for the official Nose-straightening Tool, which looked like a somewhat thick butter knife) stuck it up the left sinus and got busy. This actually didn't hurt much because first she'd given me six Novocaine injections, all the way down to the bone. THAT hurt.
She did a good job. You can still see an asymmetry if you look closely but Rachel is happy with it.
Postscript: the following Saturday, I was swinging Isaac at the park again. "Slow, Dad! Slow!" he urged me. "No hurt nose!"
- Our new HOA prohibits oil drilling on our property. Those fascists.
- Melissa: "If I had a nickel every time Matthew made a noise..."
- Took Matthew and Melissa to a free performance of The Sound of Music with Andrea and Jeremy. Matthew sat through it but Melissa was fascinated. (She was nodding off by intermission though so we called it a night.)
- Fifty something Iranian dude at a conference. "You know," he says, patting my gut, "that's not good for you."
- I had Isaac clean up the shredded Styrofoam that he scattered all over the back seat. He grabbed a handful. "Watch, Dad!" He dropped it in the trash bag. "Boom!" He did this with every scrap he picked up.
- Corinna's first word is "Bye," pronounced "Bah."
- Whenever one of the little girls in nursery sits down on Rachel's lap or mine, Corinna drops what she's doing to muscle off the intruder. Mission accomplished, she wanders back off. Jealous little one-year-old.
- The good news is, Corinna stops what she's doing when I tell her, "No." The bad news is, she also has a total meltdown every time. This may be the earliest we've had a child begin the terrible twos.
- The donut shop lady inquired after my health this morning when Rachel picked up donuts instead of me. Not sure if this is worse than the Iranian dude patting my gut but it's close.
- Me: "Let's not be sexist about this. Why is killing a cockroach strictly a man's job?" Rachel: "It just is."
- Matthew: "You know Dad, someday *I'm* going to post something on The Savage Peanut. Something about you."
- Corinna's second and third words are "uh-oh" and "bang!" Isaac taught her bang, complete with shooting motions. Uh-oh was more of an inadvertent team effort. Christine's first word was uh-oh, too. Rachel says it's a natural one for youngest children to pick up...
- Me: "So would you do the South Beach diet with me?" Rachel: "That's a pretty drastic step, don't you think? No, but I'd hide my carb stash from you."
- Corinna already has a favorite pair of shoes: pink, with flowers on the straps. She'll bring them up to me or Rachel and grunt at us to put them on.
- Rachel made brownies, from scratch, with a dark chocolate glaze on top. When they were done, I got the vanilla ice cream to go with it... but it was freezer burned. Undaunted, Rachel made ice cream too.
- Corinna's fourth word is "tae je" [thank you]. Yes, the pronunciation needs some work, but she uses it consistently. What a polite baby.
- Me: "Am I rubbing off on you, dear?" Rachel: "This isn't your fault. I've never had patience for people THAT stupid."
- Matthew told his teacher that he wants to run away from home. Not bad for the second day of school.
Isaac peed two pairs of pants tonight. Each time he put on a new pair of pants but didn't empty his bladder into the toilet.
Rachel: "How can you possibly ignore a bladder that full?"
Matthew: "When you're playing a really fun game, that you're really interested in."
Rachel took Melissa shopping, leaving the other three with me.
Corinna was super cranky so I bounced her to sleep. When I came out of the bedroom the front door was open and Isaac was gone.
I didn't panic yet. First I checked in the house to see if he'd come back inside and left the door open. Nope.
Then I panicked.
I ran outside. "Isaac!" I yelled.
He ran to me from the other side of the car. "I wan' go fine Mafew Muhissa." [I want to go find Matthew and Melissa.]
Matthew was in his room and had locked his door, so Isaac was lonely.
Rachel: "Go ahead."
An hour passes. Matthew: "Melissa! Want to make some butter? All you have to do is shake this!"
Matthew: "Isaac! Look! Isn't this cool? If you shake it it makes butter! Don't you want to try it?"
Isaac: "No no no!"
I remember trying to rope Grant and David Ellis into my plans like that...
Friday, November 09, 2012
Thursday, November 08, 2012
Isaac requested to be a tiger again this year. The child knows what he likes. This year I got him a tiger sleeper so he can be a tiger every night and dream wild dreams if he wants to.
What is painted on Isaac's face? A pumpkin, naturally. He's our pumpkin boy and is somewhat obsessed with them. Today I called him my little pumpkin boy and he called me "pumpkin-mama" and his father "pumpkin-man." I'm so glad he grew into a rolly-polly pumpkin-baby all those years ago.
Mark Dewy helping Carmen with the design she sketched onto the pumpkin. Later she stuck a donut on top of the jack-o-lantern stem and proclaimed her creation "Mr. Donut-pumkin"
After multiple out-takes, this is the best I could get. Enough with the pictures, they were ready to go trick-or-treating already! Matthew and Melissa went trick-or-treating with friends while I took Isaac and Corinna around the neighborhood.
He pulled her in the wagon when her little legs got tired. Eventually she just wanted to eat her loot so I took them home. Isaac, however, wasn't ready for the night to be finished. "I not done trick-or-treating!" He convinced his Dad to take him a second time.
Not the best picture, but here are Matthew and Melissa with their jack-o-lanterns.