Friday, August 31, 2007

Getting ready for fall

It seems like I spent almost the entire week getting ready for the fall.

First, we all attended our first Sunday School class at church on Sunday. David and are joining a class for young families, while William technically isn't in a class, but he's going to the nursery.

Then, I signed William up for a weekly Kindermusik class and a Gymboree class. I know, I know, it's bad to overprogram children, but I wanted to find something he and I could do together that would also give a little structure to our weeks. In Twentynine Palms, he and I attended the breastfeeding group at the hospital and then, later, a Playtime with Baby class at the Y, which we referred to as "William's school." Here, we needed to find a new version of "school" to entertain him...and er, me, too. So we'll be doing Kindermusik on Tuesday afternoons and Gymboree on Wednesday mornings.

Originally, I had thought we'd go to library story hours a couple of mornings every week. Then I actually took William to story hour a few times. And then I began to reconsider. See, here's the deal with storytime: they, yes, read stories. And the children are supposed to sit and listen. That's a tall order for a toddler like mine. He pays attention sometimes, but oh, is that a cat on that book over there? Hey, look at the fan! Is he eating raisins? Can I have some too? Let's just say that William can be easily distracted by all the other interesting sights and sounds, so I end up doing a heavy amount of baby-wrangling. The downtown library's storyhour is a little more active--includes puppets and singing and dancing, so we'll probably still go to that one sometimes. But with Kindermusik and Gymboree, William is actually supposed to get up and down and dance and make some noise. I think that's a little better for him at this point in time. Plus, we read plenty of books at home.

Let's see. What else is on tap for fall? Oh, that's right. William will go to Mother's Day Out at a nearby church on Mondays. So David and I went to the open house yesterday to meet his teacher and check out the classroom. William immediately threw himself into the toys while we chatted with the teacher and looked at the handouts we received. It was hard to pry William away when it was time to go home. I think he'll do just fine there. And while he's in "school," I'll be in a study group at our church. I attended an orientation meeting for that the other night.

I do love fall. I love the start of all the new activities. I love the beginning of football season and the baseball pennant races. I love Halloween and all the stuff leading up to it. And I still love buying new school supplies, even though I haven't really needed them for years. There's just something special about a smooth new notebook or a brand new box of crayons with their even sharp tips, you know? But I admit that I bought William a new lunchbox. And I really feel like I should go out and buy a new Trapper Keeper or something. Do they even still make Trapper Keepers? Wow. One day, my son is going to give me a funny look and say, "Mom? What is a Trapper Keeper?" Heh. In the meantime, I guess I'll be content with the new lunchbox, the new activities and looking forward to cooler weather that, please God, will arrive soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Talking and walking: an update

William has weirdly decided to sleep in today, so I thought I'd snag a few minutes to talk about what he's been up to lately, not counting the boring old sickness stuff.

So a month or so ago, William started saying "Mama." He's been saying "Dada" since, oh, January. I carried the child for nine months, threw up in strange bathrooms all over California for most of those months, and gave birth to him, but whose name did he say first? His dad's. David crowed with delight when William started calling him by name around the time of his (David's) birthday, and I waited anxiously for William to begin saying my name, too. I figured, it wouldn't be too long. Ha. But I have to say, it was well worth the wait. I'll say, "William, can you say Mama?" and he smiles and says in a I-know-how-much-you-love-this-so-I-am-going-to-be-as-cute-as-possible-when-I-say-it tone of voice, "Mama!"

Sometimes, he adds an extra syllable for emphasis, so I become "Mamama." 'S okay with me. It's really so very wonderful either way. David tells William that he could probably get away with anything as long as he coos "Mama" to me first, and sadly, he's probably right. I'm a sucker for hearing William's little voice say that word.

Of course, the other side of this is that William's word for "monkey" is very similar to "Mama." Uh huh. I'm not sure what to make of that. David swears they are different, and they are, if you listen closely. "Monkey" is "munmun." But then again, William's current versions of "car" and "cat" sound almost identical, too. Nothing else sounds like "Dada," though. Hmmm! When William hears the garage door open, he always shouts "Dada!" He knows his daddy is arriving home at last. Usually he continues to say "Dada" until he actually sees David walk through the door. David says that, after a long day of seeing patients, it's really really nice to be greeted by a small boy with a face covered in spaghetti/macaroni/cantaloupe juice shouting "Dada" with a big smile on his face, as if you are Elvis walking onto the stage in front of a delirious frenzied audience.

Oh yes, and William is starting to try to imitate more words. You already know about "wow" and "go." Now he's trying to imitate "stinky" and "dirty," which, as you may have guessed, tend to accompany diaper changes. He understands so much more than he can really say, so if I ask him if he's dirty, he sometimes will grab at his diaper and look hopeful or he will grab a fresh diaper out of the bag on his changing table. He knows what I'm asking, but he doesn't yet have the vocabulary to answer me very well. But he's trying. Sometimes he just throws up his arms and speaks gibberish, and we just know he's desperately trying to tell us something. We jokingly have started saying, "William, use your words!" I bet it's only a matter of time before he has even more words to use.

So he continues to try to talk more. And he's now practially running, not just walking. I literally chased him around the parlor at church on Sunday morning, as he gleefully ran laps around the furniture and the chattering church members after the 11 a.m. service. Imagine a small tornado in a blue smocked outfit and red Robeez dashing around, occasionally falling splat! on the floor only to get back up and lunge forward again. That was William after church. Now that he more or less can run, he likes to take advantage of wide spaces that let him do so. Church is the perfect venue for that. We had to chase him down in order to take him home, and he was Not Pleased about that. Poor kid.

Well, I hear him talking in his crib at last. That's all the news for now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Doing much much better

A week after the whole MRSA/cold/asthma flare-up, William is doing quite well. Thanks to everyone who has called or emailed to check on him!

Here's the basic update: the wheezing is gone, and the cough is just barely hanging on. The MRSA lesion on his leg is healing nicely; you can't even feel a nodule under the skin, and it's a lot smaller and scabbed over. We've still got a couple more days left of the sectumsempra med (by the way, the reason I started calling it that is because David calls it Septra, and I couldn't remember that name, and I liked the Harry Potter allusion anyway), and we're still putting muciprocin on the leg twice a day. We've cut back on the flo-vent to one puff, twice a day, but we'll continue to administer that for the foreseeable future, to see if we can ward off any future wheezing episodes. But since the cough is just about gone, we'll probably stop the albuterol treatments in a day or two.

So, by Wednesday, I expect that William will be getting flo-vent once in the morning and once in the evening, and that will be all. Whew! I practically needed a cheat sheet to keep all the treatments straight, what with twice-daily antibiotic administration, four albuterol treatments each day, two flo-vent inhalations, and the muciprocin three times a day. Oh yes, and singulair at dinnertime; we mix the little granules, which look like salt, into a small dish of applesauce and serve it up that way.

David rolled his eyes when I said he needed to write it all down for me, but my gosh, it's so easy to forget something when you've got that many things to orchestrate. One of us was forever quizzing the other: "Wait, has he had his antibiotic/singulair/albuterol yet tonight?" or "Ooops, I forgot the flo-vent. Can you run downstairs and get it?" And admittedly, I am terrible about taking medicine myself. About the only time in my life I've been good about remembering to take my own medicine on the appropriate schedule was when I was pregnant and my potent anti-nausea Zofran pills were the only thing standing between me and, well, me not standing.

William, to his credit, has been a champ during this entire time. He has willingly taken his medicine, in whatever form or fashion, nearly every single time without a fuss. A couple of times, he's started to get really wiggly after the third or fourth inhalation session ("I didn't inhale!"). But for the most part, he's been such a trooper. I felt guilty about inflicting so much medicine on him last week, despite the fact that it was for his own good, so I bought him a couple of new wooden puzzles. He loves carrying the pieces around and depositing them in strange new places. Hey, if it makes him happy...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Read to me

An Associated Press article in the Tennessean yesterday announced that one in four adults in the United States didn't read a single book last year. And of the adults who did read a book last year, most only read four or five, total.

Man, that made me really sad. Both on a personal level--I love to read so much and can't imagine not doing it--and on a larger, societal level--how are people learning? I know, I know, I have friends who don't read much. Too busy, not interested, other hobbies and interests, etc. etc. I guess I so frequently have my nose buried in a book that I just can't imagine going months on end without even picking up a book, let alone finishing one and sighing with a big round "ahhhh." Reading has always been my first hobby. You know how it is when you love, say, a movie so much that you can't imagine how anyone could not also love it? It's sort of like that with me and reading. I can't not read. I read the backs of cereal boxes. I read toothpaste tubes. I have to read the paper if I'm eating my cereal at the breakfast table. It's just what I do.

So I knew before William was even born that I was going to make a concerted effort to persuade him to love books and to love reading. My mother patiently read an ocean of books to me as a child. Little Bear, Harry the Dirty Dog, you name it. When I got old enough to read on my own, she humored my interests and bought me books by my current favorite authors (Carolyn Haywood, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maud Hart Lovelace) or on a favorite topic (ballet, ghost stories). My dad read Jack London's "The Call of the Wild" to my brother and me at bedtime over the course of a few weeks one year. I remember sitting on my brother's bed and puzzling over the name of one of the characters: I didn't understand how "Francois" could sound like "Fran-swah." I saw my mother check out books at the library for her own enjoyment, and I saw all the books on the floor-to-ceiling shelves in my father's study. I was raised on books. My child would be raised on books.

And so far, so good. William often prefers to "play" with or "read" his books rather than almost anything else. Not that he doesn't love a good rousing game of "carry the chip clips all over the house" or "scatter puzzle pieces all over the living room" or "hide the coasters," but he does seem to love his books. Right now, he's very into all the touch-and-feel type books, the Maisy books, which have flaps, and oh yes, "Are You My Mother?" and "Go, Dog, Go." We must read "Go, Dog, Go." about 50 times each day, often four or five times in a row. And William and I have a deal: if I buy a book for myself at a bookstore, he gets one, too.

Some studies have shown that children who are raised by parents who read--and see their parents read--learn to read at an earlier age. I guess that it's good that I still read as much as I can find the time and energy for. I would do it anyway, so it's even better that I'm supposedly setting a good example. It's not that I'm reading high-brow literature all the time because I'm definitely not. But I do have a pretty wide range of interests, and I try to find books that at least occasionally address them. And yes, sometimes I bury myself in Harry Potter. And I'm still longing to buy myself a whole fresh set of the the Little House on the Prairie books, the ones I loved to tatters as a child. And I admit that I really do love discovering new books for William--and rediscovering old favorites, too. For every "But Not the Hippopotamus" (which if you don't have, you must must get), there is a "Pat the Bunny." They're all fun, especially when you're William and someone will read them to you over and over and over and over and over...

Like, for example, Mama Dee:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A double whammy

We've had some drama around here lately.

Saturday evening, we noticed a spot on William's leg, one that sort of resembled a bug bite. By Sunday lunchtime, it was a big red angry blotch, weeping a yellowish fluid onto his calf. David freaked out, immediately speculating on all the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things the lesion could be.

At the same time, William seemed to be coming down with a cold. He started coughing on Saturday night, too, and he even...and you know how strange this is for my child...woke up in the middle of the night and had to be comforted. There are a couple of key ways I can tell when William is not feeling well: when he doesn't sleep well and when he turns down food. So we knew something was afoot. I took him to his Mama Dee's house on Sunday morning so I could go to Sunday School, and he seemed to be feeling okay. But the cough got a little worse, and so did the congestion.

Naturally, William chose to get sick the very first weekend that David was on call for his new job. And so let's just say that David was already stressed out by the endless barrage of Mommy pager calls, some silly and some serious but all requiring his time and attention. William's health issues sent David's stress levels skyrocketing.

Luckily for us, David's new boss/partner and William's new pediatrician, Dr. Keown, lives in our neighborhood. David called her up, and she came by on Sunday evening. After making the appropriate fuss over how adorable William is (she speaks my language!), she examined his leg (and the diaper rash that seems to be hanging on, regardless of what we slather over it). She agreed with David: looked like a classic case of MRSA.

MRSA, for you laypeople out there, is the abbreviation for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It tends to more common among people who live or work in healthcare settings, particularly those with compromised immune systems. But not always anymore. And it's also possible for people to be carriers of the bacteria but not actually get sick from it, and guess who works in a healthcare setting and then has to come home each night? But we have no way of knowing for sure how William contracted it. In fact, David and I are speculating that William may have had it before, back when we were visiting Natchez and he developed a big lesion on his leg that I assumed was a spider bite. That lesion eventually healed up on its own, with a little assistance from our trusty friend Neosporin.

So now we're just treating William. According to our old pal Dr. Google, community-associated MRSA is not yet as resistant to as many antibiotics as hospital-associated MRSA, which has been around a lot longer. So that's good. But it is evolving. And the Mayo Clinic reports, "CA-MRSA can be particularly dangerous in children. Often entering the body through a cut or scrape, MRSA can quickly cause a wide spread infection. Children may be susceptible because their immune systems aren't fully developed or they don't yet have antibodies to common germs." So even though we don't know for sure how William came down with it, the important thing is that we're getting him treated for it quickly. And everyone thinks he will be fine. He definitely seems fine. He's taking a super-antibiotic that I've dubbed Sectumsempra, in homage to the Harry Potter spell, and I'm putting special cream on the lesion. Dr. Keown saw William down at the office yesterday afternoon, and she thought it already seemed to be improving. The diaper rash seems to be slowly improving, too.

As for the cold, well...we're getting a little more serious and a lot more consistent about the treatment. We've been using albuterol, a bronchodilator, in an air chamber whenever William develops wheezing associated with a cold. We first started doing that last winter when he had RSV. Now we're going to up the ante by giving him an anti-inflammatory med, a corticosteroid called Flo-vent via his little inhaler/air chamber twice a day, along with regular hits of a combination of albuterol and something else that goes by the name Combi-vent. Dr. Keown said she wants him to stay on this regiment for the time being, perhaps until it gets cold, to see how well it controls things. Apparently, symptoms and presentation can change in small children, so we're just going to go forward with this plan and monitor things.

Since he really doesn't wheeze unless an illness has triggered it, I'm not sure exactly why he would need the meds all the time. But again, maybe it will help. I'm just relieved that William is pretty agreeable about submitting to the air chamber now. He doesn't fight it anymore, except in rare instances. We hit on a wonderful solution last time around. In desperation, we held the inhaler up to one of his teddy bears. "Look, William, look at how Mimi Bear is taking her albuterol! Oh, it helps her breathe and she feels so much better," we'd say enthusiastically while pantomiming the whole procedure with the purple bear.

Eventually, William caught on, agreeing to sit still and breathe through the mask. Now he smiles and claps for himself every time he finishes a puff. I can't emphasize enough how much better that has made it for all of us. Used to be, he'd buck and twist and scream with rage, while I frantically tried to keep the air mask clamped over his nose and mouth. Now we don't have to work so hard, and I guess it's not scary anymore.

The doctors at David's new office were very impressed with how calmly William took his albuterol yesterday. They tried to administer some meds via the old electric nebulizer machine, and let's just say that did not go over well. William reacted the way he used to with the air chamber. The physician's assistant put the mask over his nose and mouth, while I tried to hold him still. At first, he was suspicious but not angry. But then the PA turned the machine on, and it began whooshing and clicking noisily. William freaked out, twisting on my lap while I whispered desperately, "It's okay, baby, it's okay. We're almost done. It's okay, it's okay, sweetie. Look, it's your Curious George book." But William was both frightened and nobody's fool. Curious George was not going to make him settled down and submit to the big scary noisy machine. As he wheezed through the mask and glared up at me through a river of tears with a betrayed look, he seemed to be telegraphing to me, "Et tu, Mommy?." Oh, that look!

God, I hate times like that. William trusts me to take care of him, to make things all better, and that trust is a beautiful, gorgeous, shimmering strong thread that connects us. He didn't know that hooking him up to that machine was part of my promise to take care of him and help him feel better; he just understood that it was scary and that I was allowing it to happen. I was just as relieved as he was when he wrenched that mask off, and the PA turned the machine off. Whew.

Now he's more or less back to his old self: toddling around the house and making a mess and laughing and eating as much cheese as I'll let him. We played a wonderful game of Chase this afternoon, in fact: William "chased" me around the island in the kitchen until we were both laughing so hard that he fell down and flopped on his belly and I collapsed next to him. Honestly, those are the times when I think, "It really doesn't get any better than this."

I just stopped writing for a few minutes because William was crying. That's the second time in four nights that he's woken up, crying. David thinks he's gassy because the antibiotics are kicking in, and that may be making him uncomfortable. I lifted him out of his crib and settled into the glider in the corner of the darkened bedroom. Two seconds in, William snuggled his head beneath my chin, collapsed against my body and sighed, and began to breathe evenly. I rocked for a few minutes, just enjoying the baby scent of his soft hair and enjoying the (even and wheeze-free!) breath against my neck. Now that he's a toddler, William rarely wants to sit still long enough to cuddle with his mama. So I have to savor the few minutes that I get. And they are precious.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cruel summer

So we are working on about Day 4,000 of Drought 2007. Despite my jubilant blog post about rain one day in July, we really have had no rain at all in recent weeks. Nashville--and the rest of Tennessee--is just brown now. It's roasted in a series of 100 degree days that would give Twentynine Palms a serious run for its money. I moved from one desert to another. Hmph.

So I've been working on a little project. I've been trying to teach William how to do a rain dance. Now, given a lack of Native American heritage, I sort of had to, well, make up my own rain dance (which may be why it's not working). I made it up the other day, late in the afternoon, on a day in which gray clouds hung in the sky as if it oh, just might rain but didn't.

Here's how you do my rain dance: shout rain! rain! rain! and squiggle your fingers downward in the universal itsy-bitsy-spider-down-came-the-rain motion, first to the right, then to the left, then to the center. Then you do a little jig in place for about five beats, making sure to wave both arms over your head a lot. Then you repeat the whole thing. And repeat it again until you're exhausted.

This is big fun when you are nearly 16 months old and have gallons of energy to spare. William especially loves the rain! rain! rain! part. He's even starting to catch on to the finger-squiggle part. Maybe if we do the dance often enough, it will help?

But you know what's funny? When we lived in Twentynine Palms, we rarely had rain and we knew not to expect rain very often. So I rarely even thought about rain. I may have missed it, but only in an abstract way. The area's default status was dry and brown, and I was accustomed to it. Here in Nashville, it is supposed to be green and lush, and well, it's not. It's sad. It's still greener than the desert, of course, but everything that is supposed to be lush is parched and shriveled instead.

So William and I have taken to staying indoors as much as possible; every day, we find a new thing to entertain us inside. In the last two weeks, we've hit three different story hours, gone swimming in the indoor pool at the Bellevue YMCA, had a play date at a friend's house, gone to the library about four times, gone to the Green Hills mall, gone to the Cool Springs mall with another friend and her toddler, gone to the play area inside the Bellevue mall and so on. I really want to take William to the zoo, but in this weather? No thanks. And I haven't pulled out the water table in weeks, either. It's just too hot out there. Even without the desert's relentless sun, the heat and the bad air quality make the prospect of hanging out in the yard sound kinda yucky.

So here we are, in in the midst of what feels like it will be endless summer. And I thought I'd only feel that way in Twentynine Palms!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

In the tub

William in the bathtub tonight.

It looks like he doesn't have any front teeth from this picture, but I promise, they're still there. I meant to get some pictures of the monkey shower curtain, to show off the new bathroom decor, but I got all distracted by the naked wet baby in the tub!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Loonies in the cereal aisle

So William and I went shopping for groceries today at the local Kroger. We were contemplating my hastily-scrawled shopping list and methodically trawling up and down each aisle, when an older woman pushed her cart up next to ours. She beamed at William, happily swinging his legs from his seat in the cart, and said, "Oh what a beautiful little girl!"

I smiled nicely and said, "Actually, he's a boy. But thank you! It's the long eyelashes."

She said, "Oh, well, then. Those are beautiful eyes he has, so it was just easy to make the mistake." She smiled and waved at William and trotted down the canned vegetable aisle.

On the very next aisle, as I was trying to figure out where the heck the Kroger people stock the raisins (William's newest favorite snack), we came upon the same lady. "Hello, there, you are such a pretty girl!" she called to him and waved.

Huh. Had she not heard me when I said he was a boy? Not that it really matters, but it's been a really long time since anyone mistook William for a girl. He's a toddler now, and he really looks like a boy now. An amazingly handsome boy, sure, but a boy nonetheless. Plus, he was wearing navy-and-white striped shorts, a very plain, non-ruffly T-shirt with sailboats printed on the front, rugged brown sandals, and a denim hat. He definitely looked like a little boy. Which he is.

I didn't bother to correct her, but William looked up at me with a bemused expression. He knows he's not a girl. Pretty, maybe, but a girl? No way! Now this is the really weird part. We encountered that woman at least twice more and both times, she commented on what a pretty girl my son was.

And that, my friends, is why they invented the "smile and nod." So useful when you encounter dotty old ladies in the supermarket who insist that your grass-stained boy is a sweet little girl. I mean, heck. If I had a little girl, you really think I'd miss out on the opportunity to dress her up in girly little clothes? I mean, hello!

But hey, it got me thinking. So when it came time to make dinner, I donned my apron and I put one on William, too. What's good for the goose, etc. etc. He looked pretty good, I think.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Minor league baseball cracks me up

David's office organized a "welcome" event this evening: everyone received tickets to attend the Nashville Sounds game against the Albuquerque Isotopes at the Sounds' Greer Stadium in a sketchy part of downtown Nashville. Despite the fact that the Sounds, the triple A affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers, are a pretty good team, they play in a stadium that makes the old Memphis Chicks stadium (i.e. the place that had to hold 25 cent beer nights to get people to come) look upscale. The Sounds' stadium itself is like something time forgot: I've seen nicer high school baseball stadiums. But it's appropriately ramshackle and cheerful enough to suit the weirdness that is so integral to a good minor league baseball experience.

Here is why I love minor league baseball games: they're so hilariously bizarre. The game is almost...okay, definitely...secondary to the spectacle. The games, the contests, it's all so random. Even David and I, avowed baseball fans, get distracted by the weirdness, and we don't even mind. How can you mind? It's half the reason to go!

"I feel like we're in Bull Durham," I said to David as we took our (rickety) seats on the third base line. No snorting bull patrolled the outfield wall, but there were terrific advertisements for Hamburger Helper and a service that extolled "let's talk trash!" And man, if I thought that airline seats were close together, clearly I had forgotten what it was like to attend a minor league game. Even when we stood up to let other people pass by, they barely had room to walk. We perched happily on our seats and hoped they wouldn't collapse and looked around.

So what if it was hot and the stadium not exactly pristine and new? Not one self-important person halted us to make sure we had tickets for our section. No one searched my bag when we walked through the gate; no one confiscated my whole-wheat Goldfish, raisins and cups of water for the little prince, even though the signs said that no outside food was allowed. No one accosted me to apply for a credit card and receive a cheap beach towel. No creepy over-eyeshadowed American Idol-wannabes crooned the national anthem as if they were dreaming of morphing into Shania Twain; the singer was a young boy who was there courtesy of the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, and he was off-key and flat the whole time, and it was one of the best and most sincere renditions of the anthem I've heard, and it was wonderful. And they were selling Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in the concession stand!

And it only got better. We had a row of happy, uncynical preteen kids behind us who loudly and enthusiastically cheered for their team--we love team spirit, yes we do!--and they waved and yelled at the mascot, a muscled-up anthropomorphized animal named Ozzy (a dog? a wolf?) who was prone to dropping to one knee and pumping an arm a la Jim Morrison/the Lizard King or swiveling his hips as if he were attempting to channel Elvis but somehow evoking Jose Canseco. William didn't care much about the juiced-up mascot, but he loved these kids. He was constantly standing up on my lap to watch them cheer and clap and sing. We're munching on ballpark food, watching our team drop about a hundred fly balls in the outfield while a gaggle of sixth graders belt out, "Spider PIG, Spider PIG, does whatever a Spider PIG does. Can he swing from a web? No, he can't; he's a PIG. Look out! He is a Spider PIG!!"

When he wasn't trying to leap off my lap to hang out with the cool kids behind us, William ate an entire Chick-Fil-A sandwich all by himself. And then he tried to eat mine. And he made noises of interest at David's hot dog. But while we held firm on the "no hot dogs" front, we gave in when it came to ice cream in a helmet. I mean, if you can't have at least the ice cream in a helmet at a baseball game, what's the point of going?

Weirdly, our ice cream helmets had the St. Louis Cardinals logo printed on them. Did they run out of helmets with the Sounds logo? Or did they never exist? Have the Sounds always sold paraphernalia with the logos of competing teams (or the parent organizations or competing teams), or was this a special occasion? No one knows. Our stadium cups (a dollar each!) had the Sounds logo on them, which makes them perhaps more appropriate souvenirs but less bizarre, which is somehow less fun.

But the best part of minor league baseball is all the weird stuff they plan to appeal to the fans. No superstar players here. I guess the marketing folks worry that baseball, just baseball, isn't enough to hold people's interest, so they hold all these weird events all during the game. We watched two boys--Hal and Cal or whoever--compete against each other in the "who can put on the frozen T-shirt the fastest?" contest. Both boys got to keep their frozen T-shirt when the contest ended. There was the keg rolling contest down the third base line. One keg ended up in the home dugout. I think the event was rigged. However, it is also possible that the kegs were not full. I couldn't tell. There was the dizzy bat contest with the acoustic guitars. There was the grocery-pick-up contest, where several girls huffed and puffed all over the field, picking up cans of something or other and putting them in bags (did someone win? I don't know). Two other sets of teenagers fastened cords to each other and dressed in helmets and pads before dragging each other up and down the right size of the outfield in some bizarre relay.There was probably a point to that one, but I missed it. Or maybe not. In fact, I think it would be that much better if there was absolutely no point at all.

So you've got the pitcher warming up with a few pitches, while ten-year-olds chug by just a few feet away with an armload of Del Monte green beans. Or you've got the infielders tossing the ball around to stay loose while Ozzy, dog? fox? wolf? mascot races a four-year-old around the bases and pretends to collapse and die of heat exhaustion, lying prostrate on the ground, just shy of third base.

You just don't get this stuff in major league games. Okay, yes, in a major league game, you typically get much better baseball. And okay, usually the players are people you've heard of. But there's never a keg-rolling contest. And not once have I ever left a major league baseball game with a loaf of bread. That's right; we left the game at the end of the eighth inning with the stroller, our souvenir cups, our St. Louis Cardinals ice cream helmets, the diaper bag and a loaf of Sara Lee whole wheat bread. How's that for a "thanks for coming"?

It just doesn't get any better than that.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I recently learned that the son of a girl who attended Rhodes with me was critically injured in a freak accident in the home. Apparently, the little boy, who is around William's age, pulled a television set over onto him. By the time, the paramedics arrived, he was not breathing, but they managed to resuscitate him and rush him to the ICU at Vanderbilt.

When my friend Mary Clare relayed the news to me via email, I sucked in my breath in horror that something like that could happen. I actually felt my heart rate speed up. Then I had that urge to immediately check on William to make sure he's okay, the sour rush that shoots through my stomach and up my throat anytime I hear about something horrible that could happen to my own child. My next reaction was to feel intense sympathy and helplessness for the parents of that little boy. He is receiving excellent care, but I know they must be completely exhausted and traumatized.

David caught me staring at our big-screen television last night and said something to the effect that our TV is too heavy for a toddler to pull down. I guess he's right, but it still made me worry. So many things can happen that we can't anticipate. I never fully appreciated that before I had a child, but now it never completely leaves my head. Even when I'm not consciously thinking or worrying about something happening to hurt my child, it still stubbornly lingers there at the edges of my subconscious.

Is that something that accompanies parenthood? I guess I'd have to say yes. My parents say they still worry about me and my brother, and it finally makes sense to me. You can't control everything that happens, but by George, you can worry about it! I guess the things you worry about change over time, but the concern never goes away.

I hope the little boy in the ICU at Vanderbilt continues to make progress. I simply cannot imagine being in the place of his parents right now, but I ache for them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

More advice, plus the tale of a tantrum

Two more good pieces of advice to add to my list from a few days ago.

The first is courtesy of my own dear old dad: when you're 17 (or 21 or 30), and your father offers to buy you some tools, don't scoff; take him up on it because one day you will need them. You may not appreciate screwdrivers when you're 21 (except for the Smirnoff variety), but you sure will be thankful that you have them when you are a new parent and every single freakin' baby device requires the deft use of a Philips head screwdriver. Take the tools. Tools=good.

The second is this: when you're cooking, err on the side of adding too little salt rather than too much because you can always add more salt later. It's harder to take it away when you've already dumped it in there. Then you end up feeding your poor starving resident husband too-salty scrambled eggs and he gamely eats them anyway because he's wasting away from working without eating but you know they were lousy and doesn't he deserve better than that for working 100-hour weeks in the NICU?

On a completely different note...William is still somewhat in the clingy mode, almost a week after returning home. He's started screeching really loudly when he wakes up, and it just escalates. When I walk into his room, he has big wet tears on his red face, and he's nearly hysterical. Then it takes forever for him to really calm down, and woe unto you if you pick him up and then try to put him down while he's still wound up. Earlier today, he woke up too early from a nap. He was a mess. Screeching, crying those big tears, arching his back, having a regular ol' fit. But nothing made him happy. Not milk. Not ice water. Not reading one of his Maisie books or an issue of Babybug (his current obsessions). Not being held.

Finally, he stopped shrieking enough to sit in my lap and lift the flaps for a few pages of a Maisie book, but as soon as we reached the end of the book, he went nuts again. It's like he is trying to let us know that he is an honest-to-goodness toddler now, and with that label comes the right to have regular loud tantrums for no discernable reason. Luckily, he eventually consented to drinking some milk and reading the Maisie book again, and that seemed to do the trick. Weird, though.

And he was in perfectly fine spirits the rest of the evening, even though I dragged him to the library to check out books. When we got home, he just toddled merrily around the family room, depositing chip clips (for some reason, he loves to steal the chip clips out of their drawer and play with them) in the end table drawers and bringing the animals from his Noah's Ark over to me and then snatching them away and running off with a giggle.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Misplaced post

Well, heck.

I just published a whole long post that I'd saved as a draft, and it appears under the most recent post of the Holden Beach pictures. Humor me and scroll on down to read it, wonchyou?


Monday, August 06, 2007

More Holden Beach photos

A couple more of my favorite Holden Beach photos:

What does this remind me of?

"And when there were no crawdads to be found, we ate sand."

"You ate what?"

"We ate sand."

"You ate sand??"

"That's right."

Bonus points if you can identify the movie.

Here's another photos, possibly my favorite:

That's just William all over: in motion. And happy. And with dirty hands.

Here's one of me and William on the beach. Not too many of those. I'm no bathing suit model these days (or, er, any days).

Eleanor wrangles both Graham and William in the baby pool on the porch:

We didn't really intend for William to swim in the baby pool in that outfit. He went over to splash his hands in the pool, and well...before I knew it, he was completely soaked anyway, so I just tossed him into the pool.

William hugging his new buddy Graham:

William and Graham, despite being four months apart in age, are almost exactly the same size. Poor William; he's so much used to being bigger than other babies. I bet Graham outgrows him by the next time we see him.

Here is the Wyckoff clan, all cleaned up for dinner at Betty's. In retrospect, I'd like to say that it's a very good thing that we took this picture before dinner and the ensuing mess. (And no, I am not just alluding to the hushpuppies.)

One of the best pictures ever of William with his daddy:

We had a good time! William misses his ready audience, though. He's been crying a lot when I put him down, which is pretty unusual. It's like he's begging, just begging me, to please let him entertain me. Life's a stage for the little prince. I would guess, however, that he doesn't miss the Super Duper Sunscreen Application, though. Even with the SPF swim clothes and hats, he still got saturated with sunblock every time he went out to the beach, and he's not a big fan of that process, to put it mildly. Well, he'd better get used to it. He's David's and my kid, and we're so white, we practically glow in the dark. William had no chance at olive skin.

Excellent Life Advice

I was thinking about Miller's new baby the other night, and mulling over what advice I'd give to Miller as a brand new mom. Then I remembered that when I was a new mom, I 1) was too exhausted to listen to other people's advice, 2) found that other people's advice often didn't work for me and my non-sleeping, championship-eating-contest baby, and 3) what do I really know anyway? Most of what I've done and still do is the result of trial and error, and it's not like that's something easy to pass along.

So then I thought, hey, I could write down Excellent Life Advice for Mabry (and my other friends' new babies) instead. She doesn't have much life experience, so it's not like she'll have many pre-existing opinions. I've been mulling that over since I hit on that idea. Obviously most of it won't be relevant for awhile, but I should probably write it down before I forget it anyway. Most of it falls under the general category of "Be prepared," but here's what I've got so far:

Excellent Life Advice, no. 1: Wear sunscreen. Okay, so I ripped that one off. Still, it's good advice. Preferably SPF 30 on your face.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 2: Carry some kleenex with you. Even if you aren't prone to runny noses (which for at least the first 15 months of your life, you will be, if William is any indication), it can serve many useful purposes. See: public bathrooms without any toilet paper.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 3: You really don't have to pretend like you know about something that you don't. For example, you're at a party, and someone starts talking about something like oh, the origination of the long-standing dispute and ensuing violence over the Kashmir region, or maybe Cajun-Thai fusion cuisine, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or say, whether the German author Gunter Grass is a complete and total sellout for acting as the voice of the post-WW II German people while secretly concealing his own involvement with the Nazis. Don't know anything about the topic at hand? Just listen. And don't be afraid to ask questions. This is one of the best ways to learn about new things. And bonus: you won't sound like a total idiot when you make a pronouncement that turns out to be completely off base.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 4: Bring water with you wherever you go. The airline industry disagrees with this ELA item, but they're stupid.

And that reminds me....

Excellent Life Advice, no. 5: Avoid the Dallas-Fort Worth airport at all costs.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 6: Know your limits. Never installed tile in your own bathroom before? Think it might be beyond your abilities? Listen to your gut. Call in the professionals before you screw something up irrevocably (or at least expensively).

Excellent Life Advice, no. 7: Believe, really believe, in something. Or someone. Maybe it's God. Maybe it's the First Amendment. Maybe it's that all people have some good in them. Maybe it's that they should never have instituted the designated hitter. Maybe it's all four. I personally do believe in all four. For further examples, see the movie "Bull Durham." But not until you're older, of course; I think it's rated R.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 8: Keep a book with you, or at least in your car or your bag. You never know when you're going to get stuck in a long line or in a waiting room.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 9: Look before you sit down. This should be fairly self-explanatory.

Excellent Life Advice, no. 10: Treat yourself occasionally. Buy yourself those Junior Mints at the movie theater, or pick up a copy of that new book you're dying to read but will have to wait months to get through the library. It's the little things in life, I think, that can really make you feel good when you really need to. Me, I like Twizzlers.

I'm sure there are lots of other lessons in life that I could impart, but hopefully I still have many more lessons to learn myself. Also, I made the colossal mistake of yes, not writing a couple down when I woke up in the middle of the night with a good idea, so I forgot them. Maybe that should be another one: keep a notebook by your bed in case you have a great idea in the middle of the night. Of course, that assumes that you are a writer and also that your handwriting is good enough in the dark that you'll be able to decipher what you wrote the next morning.

Feel free to add your own advice in the comments section...

Friday, August 03, 2007

End of beach week 2007

We've had terrible Internet access issues all week here at the house in Holden Beach, but hey, at least the weather was mostly good! There was a storm the other night, but we would have already been back up from the beach by then anyway. And what's a beach vacation without at least one torrential rainstorm, anyway? But like I said, the weather really was good most of the time, so we logged plenty of beach time.

The obligatory family photo from Holden Beach:

On another note...

I want to formally announce the birth of my dear friend Miller's new daughter: Mabry Parker Herring was born on Saturday, July 28. Congatulations to Miller and her husband Nathan. Yay! I can't wait to meet Mabry in person. Miller called on Monday, and she said that she can't stop looking at her. I remember the feeling, the feeling of awe that this little person was just inside you and now he/she's here, looking at you. Miller, if you're out there, it gets even better, too.