Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Monday was a very special anniversary: the fifth anniversary of The Diagnosis. On June 24, 2013, I took The Boy to the doctor's office with a lump in his belly. They sent us for imaging, then right back to the doctor's office. We went home, and the image that I have burned into my brain is the three of us lying on the bed, my wife and I holding each other, scared out of our minds, while The Boy giggled and smiled and played in between us. That night, The Boy screamed all night long because of the botched IV job preventing him from getting at his thumb. It was, quite probably, the worst night of my life. The official diagnosis wouldn't come for a day or two, but our pediatrician had diagnosed Wilms Tumor twice before, so we kind of knew.

Tomorrow is another special anniversary: our ninth wedding anniversary. My biggest memories of the day? Switching the official wedding yarmulkes with Yankees ones; spending time with my wife in Yachud, a wonderful tradition of uninterrupted time between husband and wife that was interrupted by a stoned aunt; and hanging out in the hotel pool with A and his daughter.

These two anniversaries, because of their calendar adjacency, are going to be linked for us forever, mostly because these were two events that reshaped our world far more and far thoroughly than we could ever have imagined. I'm thoroughly and completely glad I married the lady I did; without her strength and resourcefulness and intelligence, we wouldn't have made it through the treatment. (That is not to mention that she really is an awesome partner, roommate, and friend.)

I'm not glad about the cancer diagnosis, but I'm glad about some of the good results: the extra closeness that I share with my oldest son; our new life and my new career in Pittsburgh; and the two other little boys that came during and after the treatment. I feel like my relationship with my wife was up through a major trial by fire, and the fact that we've flourished is a testament to the strength of our partnership.

Birthday season starts next week. We're also traveling to New Jersey. Should be fun.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bedtime Weaning

This weekend, we started the process of weaning The Baby - at least, weaning him off of nursing himself to sleep and nursing himself back to sleep in the middle of the night, when he wakes up. It's been a reasonable process so far: when The Baby asks for milk ("Mum milk, please!" he says, as he paws at her top), she tells him, "Mum milk is sleeping right now." He's not happy about it, but he does accept it. The actual going-to-sleep process, for him, has been a little tricky: I've had to kick her out of the room for the past two nights while I snuggled the little critter to sleep. Side note: he's actually letting me snuggle him to sleep.

It's a hard thing. Not many people nurse their babies as long as The Wife has done, so far, with all three. The Boy stopped because of chemo issues (which we regret, incidentally) at 15 months. Little Bear stopped around 18 months because The Wife was pregnant again. We're kind of thinking it like potty training - he's close to the age where, if we haven't started, he's going to develop an attachment / attitude about it. Since we're starting the weaning process (he doesn't need the milk, but he hasn't yet developed a comfort mechanism like The Boy's thumb or Little Bear's fingers) and started the potty training process (no pants, in general, around the house and frequent trips to the potty), we're fairly confident that he'll have a bit less of an attitude about the whole thing.

Maybe we need to get him hooked to a blanket or toy?

We've been re-evaluating the entire going-to-sleep thing, lately. We've allowed ourselves to have a group snuggle in bed, watching soft tv shows until they fall asleep, and that's not the best use of resources. We're starting to do a group gathering for stories (maybe a quick show - one of the Scholastic storybook shows or something like that), then snuggles, then letting them sleep in their rooms. It's just taking too long to put them to bed! While I love and treasure the snuggles and the intimacy, I really don't enjoy the 90 minutes of time it takes every single night to sit and watch the same tv shows with them.

Considering that we've been filling out a star chart for their violin practice, maybe we do a bedtime chart? We tried that a year ago to no avail. It might work better. Then again, consistency is the issue - like, we've fallen off the wagon on the behavior chips lately. Now, that's what I've seen - The Wife might be doing them, but I haven't been around much over the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

So, the baseball game last night was a qualified success. I'm quite happy about it, particularly considering that the weather report had amazing storms and potential hail(!) for the night. It was a beautiful night - a little too muggy, perhaps, but still a nice night for a ball game.

The Wife picked me up at work, and all three boys were asleep in the back of the car. I transferred 1 and 2 into my car, and she went home with the baby. The boys and I drove downtown to park. My usual parking deck is under construction, so I had to go to an alternate site. That was inconvenient - added about 15 minutes of sitting in traffic - but not awful. We met Grandpa right at the start of the Clemente Bridge around 5:50. Together, we walked across the bridge, which is always fun.

Inside the park, we picked up dinner and found a table in the food court. The boys split a footlong, I had a chicken sandwich, and Grandpa had a hamburger. We split a jumbo sized fries among the four of us. After that, we walked around towards the first base side of the park, and the boys climbed around in the play structure down there. There was a very nice family of San Francisco Giants fans down there who had girls just a little older than my kids. We chatted pleasantly for a few minutes, then they went up to their seats. We stayed longer; I wanted to hit our seats right at the Anthem to minimize meltdown potential.

True to my hopes, we got to our section right at "....and the rockets red glare!" The section was relatively uncrowded, and we sat down. The Boy and I went to go get a scorecard but returned before the first pitch. They were only somewhat interested in the game, although they did seem appreciate the beauty of the field, the Pittsburgh skyline out across the river. I think the boys started to understand a little bit about how far a home run actually has to be hit. They would watch when the crowd was reacting, and they enjoyed the group clapping stuff. They were particularly excited that they were allowed to yell as loud as they wanted: "Booo Giants! Go Pirates!" and "C'mon Cutch!" (after Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates' best player and my favorite Bucco). The Boy seemed interested in watching me keep score in my scorecard, and he tried to copy it a little bit; he just didn't have the attention span to pay attention to the game and to figure out what "5-3" means. (...which means putout, third baseman to the first baseman.)

We had cotton candy after the first inning ended.

As expected, in the middle of the third inning, when the Pirates just came to bat, things started to unravel a little bit. Little Bear started to crash a bit, and he got punchy (meaning, he was punching his brother) and cranky. The Boy started getting whiny and pushy as well. They held on just long enough for the Pirates to score 3 runs (it helps to keep their attention when the crowd is cheering and yelling a lot), and the boys and I left. Grandpa stayed behind to watch more of the game, which the Pirates eventually won, 12-8. We walked back to the car: I had Little Bear in the back carrier until we got to the bridge, and he walked the rest of the way while The Boy took his place.

The only "scare" on the way home was that Little Bear had a near-potty-eruption, but he peed on the wall in the parking deck next to the car. Boys: peein' on stuff since the dawn of time.

The Boy really wanted nachos on the way out, but I told him that we would have nachos the next time we went. Later, he said he was glad he didn't have them, because his belly hurt a little bit.

Fun night. Can't wait for the next game!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Art Camp and Updates

So, this week, The Boy started Art Camp. It's called "Build Bigger," which sounds really cool. I'm excited to see what he's done. I didn't get a change to talk with him about it yesterday because I had a quartet rehearsal which lasted until late. The Wife told me that, when they first walked in, the kids were instructed to draw something that lays eggs. The Boy chose the Cy-Bugs from Wreck-It Ralph. I don't think I've ever been prouder; the geek acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.

The Baby started preschool today, and it didn't go well. He cried so hard that he puked, which is never a good sign. The Wife spent at least part of the morning with him. Definitely a momma's boy. He'll get used to it, I guess. I still hate to hear that; hopefully he adjusts quickly. I'm

sure it's tearing The Wife up.

Last night's quartet rehearsal was interesting. We spent a lot of time on the song, Go The Distance, which is from the Disney animated movie, "Hercules." That's one of the boys' favorites right now, and the kids listened very carefully to us singing for a long time - almost fifteen minutes before they started to get squirrelly. The Wife herded them upstairs to take a bath, except for The Boy, who sat patiently and waited at the dining room table. Grandma had given him a foam plastic model of a ship that he and I could build, and I told him we would a little bit of it if he was still awake. So, of course, he waited.

We didn't do much - just about five minutes, to glue some pieces together and figure out what the plan was going to be. It was more the stubbornness and the persistence that he showed while waiting. He fidgeted - he's my son - and he asked me a few times how much longer, but he did a really good job of waiting. I was very proud of him, as well.

Little Bear did a good job at camp, as you'd expect. He's old hat at this sort of thing. The thing I'm most pleased about him is that he relates with kids of all ages, younger and older, fairly well.

We took the boys to the Carnegie Library in Oakland's open house to kick off the summer reading program last weekend, and it was a smashing success. Grandpa came, so we had a 1:1 ratio of adults to kids, which was vital. It was an outside event with several thousand people attending, which leads to an awful lot of potential for missing children. The Wife's quartet performed later in the afternoon, which went quite well.

The day itself was a success. The kids had a lot of fun, and Little Bear, The Baby, and I had milkshakes on the way home. Little Bear climbed into a bulldozer (on display, not at a construction site, although that would be cool, too) and went down a big, big slide. He was quite good about waiting in line for the slide, which was a solid 20 minute wait. Not bad for a 3.5 year old! The boys also made silly hats and played games. The used book sale was a disappointment, like last year; two years ago, it was epic.

That probably deserves a discussion about how I don't want to buy regular books, now that I have a small Kindle and an iPad. Storage space, y'know? That'll come later.

Tonight, I'm taking the two older boys to see the Pirates play. It's supposed to be thunderstorming with possible hail. Sigh. I'm hopeful to make it through 3 innings anyway. Let's see what happens.