Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yom Kippur

Yesterday was the end of Yom Kippur. It was a really rough day for The Wife - I went to work, and she was home all day with the kids. She didn't fully fast - as a nursing mother, that's really, really bad for you and the baby - but ate minimally, and therefore had a rough day trying to keep up with bored little boys. I probably should have taken the day off, but I didn't, so I will next year.

Our kids are wonderful little people, but they have their moments. The Boy was an uncooperative little pain in the behind yesterday, physically fighting The Wife off when she was trying to help him get dressed so they could go to the kiddie services. Little Bear is an amazingly destructive little person when he's in that kind of mood, and he was in that kind of mood all day yesterday. It culminated in him pulling the hearing aids out of The Boy's ears and throwing them at the ground. Not so good.

He was banished to bed - it was late at that point. He and I talked about it, and he was quite upset about the whole thing. He doesn't mean to hurt The Boy or his things, but he has a hard time controlling himself. He also said something that broke my heart: "Daddy, when you go work, I'm afraid that you won't come back." Oh, boy. That hurts.

I met The Wife and the boys at temple for the evening services. The Baby lasted about three minutes before he was done, and he and I went down into the lobby to hang out and wait. He crawled around, looking at people and things in the lobby, and occasionally losing a shoe. At this point, he would say, "Shoe! Shoe!" and stop to pick it up. We also played the "You stole Daddy's hat!" game with the yarmulke that I borrowed from the temple. He was really quite cute. After a little while, the other boys came downstairs, too. I took them to one of the classrooms for entertainment while The Wife stayed for the end of the services. We went to Grandma's house for a break-the-fast meal, and I packed up our DVDs to take back home. The Boy helped me bring the boxes to the car, which was really, really cute.

The Wife and I went to sleep early - around 10, 10:15, because neither one of us was feeling well. She's got whatever cold is travelling around, and I have some back pain from having two cysts removed on Monday. Lucky me. The Boy joined us around 3am, and around 4am, I gave him the boot back to his bed - I couldn't handle the physical punishment of the kicking. That's actually the first time that I've done that to him, but I think it won't be the last. He came back later, but it was around 7am and we were all just thinking about getting up.

Interesting event: he said to me, this morning in the car, out of the blue: "Daddy, can I go to Sunday school?" It turns out that he discovered that one or two of his former school mates, who were now in kindergarten, were in the Sunday Hebrew school at Rodef. He decided that he wanted to do that. It's an interesting thing, because this is the first thing that he's actually asked to do like this. I'm really proud of him; it's a big developmental step to make those kind of decisions!

The answer, of course, is yes - if he's going to go for the whole year. He doesn't understand that yet. But, we're not going to pay an entrance fee for the classes, have him go twice, and never want to go again. The conversation will be revisited. We'll see what happens.

Interesting bit: for Yom Kippur, the preschool had the kids draw pictures of things they were sorry for doing. The Boy wrote, "I'm sorry for hitting Little Bear and pushing Little Bear and sitting on him." The interesting bit: he drew pictures of those events, and the pictures of him were orange (his favorite color) and the pictures of his brother were blue (his favorite color). The pictures of himself had angry eyebrows - which is pretty good thinking, to show eyebrows that convey emotions. Smart kid.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Last weekend, I went to Independence, Ohio (just south of Cleveland), for the Sweet Adelines Harmony Weekend. It was an awful lot of fun, with great music and great learning. It's nice to know that there are friends that I have in Sweet Adelines (despite my comparative newness to the organization) who are as happy to see me as I am to see them. I left right after work on Friday and arrived around 7:45 Friday night. I left Sunday morning and arrived back home around 11:45am.

It's hard for everybody when I'm away for a length of time. Don't get me wrong - my wife can handle it. She's a tough cookie, and our house is set up to amuse the children and still allow her to maintain some semblance of sanity, although she did sleep under a pile of small boys on Saturday night. I would have, too - if that helps them sleep through the night, then more power to them.

When I got home on Sunday, it was a joyous reunion. I had all three boys on my lap for a good chunk of the afternoon and evening, and we three had a fun time at the playground (until The Baby jumped off of a moving merry-go-round and scraped his face for a good six feet or so on the ground). Earlier, I had primed the new bathroom, and The Wife painted the room while I took the boys to the park. It was a pretty even trade; after watching the boys for the entire weekend, getting a chance to do something physical and productive was a welcome one for her. After putting the boys to bed, I exercised while she practiced, until the baby needed some more direct attention and ended our evening.

Yesterday, I had a couple of little cysts removed from my back, so - when I got home from work - I was really up for running around, chasing boys, and dragging them to the park. Instead, I watched some television with them. I read stories to both of the older boys while The Wife put the baby to bed and practiced, and we all went to bed early. It was interesting reading stories to both of the older boys at the same time, as their understandings are very different. They weren't new stories - Stan Lee reading the Spider-Man origin story, and the Scholastic Storybook Dem Bones - but their reactions are very different. They find different things funny, they get a little scared by other aspects of the story. I'm not sure Little Bear is really ready for the Spider-man origin story, but he did request it because he was wearing Spider-Man pajamas.

Nothing too exciting, I'm afraid... except that the new bathroom is up and running and ready to go. We now have 2.5 bathrooms, not 1.5. That's pretty exciting.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012


Last night was kind of a banner night for us, in the new house: We had, for a brief moment, all three children sleeping in their own beds. No little people were in our bed with us. It was marvelous! And, very cute. The baby slept in the lower bed of the trundle bed that we swiped from Grandma's house, and he was comfortable there for around an hour, hour and a half! By the next morning, we had two children in bed with us, but... baby steps, folks. We enjoy the little victories.

We celebrated the only way we know how: I exercised, she practiced. She'll exercise tonight, most likely. We live exciting lives: truly the stuff of legends.

There are times that it's concerning that the baby spends so little time sleeping anywhere else, and it's concerning that he will only sleep with The Wife at night. If he wakes up, he will not go back to sleep for me, pretty much under any circumstances. Kind of frustrating, actually, but it's the cost of doing business. I'm just not around enough, and I don't take the late baby shift often enough, for The Baby to feel comfortable going back to sleep for me. Don't get me wrong; he loves Daddy, and I know that and can see that. I'm just not Mom.

I'm curious to find out what it must be like to, say, sit in the living room and relax, instead of being underneath snoring children at night. I'd love to sit and watch television from a seated position instead of lying down; I'd even love to dust off the Playstation and play a game or two! I've got some awesome games that have been in wrappers for three years now.

All in good time. I'll still have my games, for when my kids play the X-Box 1440, or whatever's out in ten years.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nice Weekend

On Sunday night, we had an early Rosh Hoshanah dinner with some friends. It was really nice, and the first kind-of-fancy dinner we had at the new house. It was also the first meal eaten in the dining room, and the first time I put one of the leaves in the dining room table. That felt kind of cool, actually. The table with leaves is a little too long to fit in the dining room, so we kind of held the table diagonally and just dealt with it. Any more people, and we'd probably pull the table into the family room - kind of like what Aunt M does. I still have only seen her living room as a living room a couple of times; on the holidays, when we visit, the living room is a dining room for 20 or 30 people.

The interesting thing is that little A, who's a shade younger than The Baby, was starting to stand up unassisted and take three or four steps on his own! The Baby watched him quite intently, and he decided to try to do a little bit of walking on his own. He took 3 or 4 steps that day for the first time, and he's been doing better and better as the days go past. He's going to a standing position unassisted yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

The other boys were later walkers, also. Little Bear walked around 15 months, and The Boy wasn't walking regularly until after 18 months (but he had some extenuating circumstances). The Baby is now 14 months, so it's probably imminent. It wouldn't shock me if it was another month before he was walking more regularly; he's very, very tall. That's a long way to fall down, and new walkers fall down a LOT. Little A is about six inches shorter than The Baby and built a little wider, so he's got less distance to fall and more padding on which to land.

Cute kid, though, just like his older brother. I happen to like those two boys more than I like most of the kids that are The Boy's and Little Bear's friends. The parents are cool, too.

Yesterday, the power of Goodnight Moon was in full effect. Little Bear actually crawled into bed at naptime with The Wife and the other two boys! She texted me a picture of the two older boys snuggled up together. It was very cute. He's been a lot more affectionate since we moved into the new house. On Saturday, he wanted to nap with me instead of by himself! I'm happy to oblige, as you might guess. I'm struck, at least once per day, that my Little Bear - even though he's so big, so mature, so smart, and so independent - is really quite a little bear, indeed. He curls up into a tiny little ball of boy, and he does enjoy a good snuggle now and again.

Tuesday are hard for me. I love my chorus and I love my chorus rehearsals, but it's hard to go directly from work to a rehearsal and not get home until 10:30 or so. It's more difficult because of a quartet job tonight, and then this weekend spent in Independence, OH, at the Sweet Adelines convention. Even without the crushing amount of work and unpacking still due on the new house, it's difficult to be so far away from my children for that long. I know that, soon enough, they'll be independent young men and able to take care of things on their own, but... still... while they're little, I don't want to miss out on the snuggles, and games, and stories, and other fun stuff.

It's nice to have a boring life sometimes.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Our friend, NED!

I took today off from work for two reasons: the Jewish holiday, and to take The Boy for his latest scans and such.

We did the normal family stuff on the Rosh Hoshanah holiday: services last night, where The Wife sang and did a marvelous job, and the Tot Shabbat service this morning, where Little Bear did a marvelous job singing the songs and the prayers.

We didn't linger for a long time at Grandma's afterwards, which we would have liked; The Boy was NPO for the scans, which meant that the only thing that he could do was to stare longingly at the delicious food in the room.

Instead, we went home, got changed, and went to the park together. The Boy rode his bike, and I took the smaller children in the wagon. They left early to go enjoy the aforementioned yummy food, and The Boy and I returned home, had some fruit ice, and left for the hospital.

There is a certain amount of trepidation and familiarity when going to the hospital. On one hand, I'm an old pro - I spent weeks there at a time not too long ago. On the other hand, it was not that recent, and I don't know all of the latest stuff that has been going on. So, slight changes in security delayed us, as did the front desk lady not paying attention and not giving me my name tag for a little while. Whatever.

The scans went pretty well. There wasn't that long of a wait, which was pleasant. The lady doing the ultrasound was thorough if not quick, and The Boy lasted a long time before he starts actively asking if she was done with the exam yet. All in all, he was remarkably patient with the whole process, even if he lost it a bit at the end. They took a long time to review the scans and finally let us go - basically, an entire Daniel Tiger episode. When offered lots and lots of stickers, he settled for one Lightning McQueen sticker - declined the rest - and gave me one Batman sticker.

We went for the traditional post-scan meal: grilled cheese, orange juice, and chips. He even ate the crusts, which is a new development from the last time I was there.

Before we saw Dr. Graves, we did the normal height and weight (43 inches and 44 pounds) and blood pressure, all of which we within normal limits. He did the finger stick without complaint, just a mild, "What was that?" after the poke. Joy of joys, when given the urinalysis sample collector, he went to the potty without complaint and peed in the cup quickly and efficiently. Thank heaven - I remember the hours and hours of wait that we used to do.

We saw the resident first, who asked us the normal questions. Nothing new since last time, really, and no health issues that we noticed. A sniffle or two, but that's about it. Dr. Graves was his normal, charming self, and we gave I'm the complete story - the general thought that the kids be to learn what questions to ask, but Daddy needs to know the whole story. Not a very interesting story, but... still.

Bottom line? NED, which means No Evidence of Disease. They don't call cancer cured; this is best news possible. Dr. Graves told us that we were going to do one more set of scans, in 6 months, and that that was it - no more scans until and unless something drastically changes. With Wilms, if it was still there, it would have shown up a long time ago - look at the tumor regrowth. It went from a pencil point to a large tumor in, like, six weeks. It's been nearly 3.5 years, using our adjusted end date of treatment as April 1. (I know: technically, the end of treatment was three weeks or so before that, when we did the last chemo. But, April 1 was the date we got the awful GFR results that shut down treatment.) He was really quite emotional - this is a big step for us. Once the scans are done, we are as close to free as we will ever get.

A lot of stuff has fallen into place for us lately. New house, new job, new career, new chorus, new church job (The Wife's), new quartet... heck, I even managed to get my Playstation to work tonight and played video games for ten minutes.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Things are working out

Another milestone passed this morning: my first lifting workout in the new house. Part of the rationale behind renting a truck on Labor Day was the fact that no car/truck that we own would fit the gym; a truck was quite inexpensive and did a nice job of doing exactly that. I spent about an hour yesterday putting it together and fitting it (and the rubber flooring) just so in the basement, then another half hour or so cleaning the equipment. It's a little bit of a tight fit: the top of the gym rests against the drop ceiling but doesn't push it up at all, and I need to be careful when taking the bar in or out of the device because of the closet doors. That's okay, though... it surely beats having to travel to the JCC to exercise.

Exercising today was a real pleasure. I put a movie on Netflix on my iPad, ran for ten minutes or so, then lifted for 45 minutes or so. Weirdly enough, my first (non-moving) lifting exercise since - oh - February or so! I'm sure it's going to hurt tomorrow, but it is so worth it. I feel better right now than I have in months.

It's hard to believe the pleasure that we're feeling at having our own home! All of us, including the children, love the house and want to be there. Over the last couple of days, The Boy and Little Bear, when on outings, asked to go back to the new house instead of going further places. That's pretty cool. I'm actually taking a vacation day tomorrow so that I can finish some of the remaining things: painting trim in the playroom, hallway, and kitchen, cleaning out the playroom, and unpacking some boxes.

The boys are back to school as of Tuesday this week, and they're having fun already. The Boy is still in the same class, the 4-year old class, with one of his other classmates - the rest are either in kindergarten or in other preschool programs. Little Bear is in the 3-year old class with Harriet, and we love Harriet. I'll bring the kids to school tomorrow and say hi to the teachers.

Sorry there's nothing very interesting to report. The only "conflict" happening at home is around dinnertime, where we're trying to teach the boys to sit at the table until more people are finished eating and to say, "May I please be excused?" when they get up. It's hit or miss, as you'd expect. The little ones want to eat quickly and go play, or not eat at all when the rest of us are eating, play, then eat later. We're pretty much giving them the choice to sit with us and eat or go to their room (no tv or media other than books) until we're done, and no snacks until a small one before bed. Little Bear had a tough time with that last night, but that was mostly because he didn't have an afternoon nap, which he so desperately needs.

Tonight, The Wife has an open house where she's teaching Hebrew School while I'm at work until late. We've got a babysitter watching the children, so that'll be fun.

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