Wait, That Doesn't Make Sense -- Another "Why" Post

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

If you have been reading this blog for a little while, you probably have realized that I consider myself somewhat of a logical person. I like to think that most things in this world make sense. Maybe I'm misguided, but I get comfort thinking this, so don't go spoiling my illusions.

I guess, when we get down to the bottom of the issue, I don't really care if I agree with someone's logic. I really just want to know they have some and they are using it. Take surgery, for example. If I'm having trouble with my knee, I want to know the surgeon is going to operate logically, to fix things that are related to my knee and would be likely to make me better, as opposed to ... say ... throwing a dart at the wall and saying, "Let's take out her spleen and see if that helps anything."

Basically, I really think (or want to think) that where things don't make sense, either we don't yet know enough, or we are mistaken about some fact. I guess I just said the same thing twice, didn't I? Oh well. It sounded good.

This basic idea of "things should make sense" is what gave rise to today's grouping of "Why" questions. I hope you enjoy them.

1. Let's talk about mankind's trait called a "temper". I assume that the energy and hormones from the "fight or flight" response is largely the culprit for why we retained the ability to get angry. I'm sure at one time, anger was a survival trait. What I can't understand is why we still have the temper tantrum. What ancient benefit was EVER derived from the raving lunacy of a Toddler? I have to think there must be some tremendous benefit gained, because all Toddlers go through several phases of tantrums before they are adults (and some after). And yet, they survive. Their parents allow them to grow up and don't leave them behind on the plains to be eaten by wild cats. Why?

2. Why do people believe that if you cut hair, it grows faster? Where is the intuitive sense that if you cut something dead off the bottom, the live part at the top will do something better, faster, and stronger? Now, granted, if I cut off the super-long tendrils from my potted plants, they begin to sprout more stems from the roots, and more leaves closer to the base, but hair doesn't do that, so it isn't a really good analogy. I don't think anyone is envisioning hair getting wider and thicker when you cut it. Nooo.

3. Okay, here is one. Let's talk about dreams. I have heard (as I am sure you have) that "people don't dream in color". Apparently, some people think, we dream in black and white, and color is added later when we recall the dream after we wake up. On the other hand, a quick Google search will tell you that some people believe that we dream in color, but our dreams are "washed out" to black and white after we wake up. My question is this-- why do we think we can figure this out? If I dream in black and white, but I remember it in color, HOW WILL YOU EVER KNOW? If I dream in color, but I remember it in black and white, HOW WILL YOU EVER PROVE IT? Unless and until we invent a mind-reading device that can see our dreams as we have them, no one can answer this question without resorting to what we remember dreaming. So, why on earth does anyone think we dream one way and remember it another? What gave them that idea in the first place, and why does it persist?

And besides, if we have a mind reading device that works that well, I can think of few parents of pets and small children (yes they are different things) that probably need the device first. Heck, I'll bet there are a few husbands and wives that want it too....

4. From time to time over the years, I have hurt my elbow. Of course, I have hurt my knees, and I have broken toes and fingers, and I have had all manner of illnesses, just like anyone. Inevitably, though, when I hurt my elbow, some otherwise logical person comes up to me and says, "Be sure you don't let your elbow get wet. You will make it worse."

Huh? I have bursitis, or tendonitis, or a torn something or other, but letting my elbow get wet will make it worse? How does that work? What about the tendonitis in my knee? Is that subject to water? How about my broken appendages? (Assuming they aren't in a cast, that is.) No. No, apparently this water-phenomenon is limited to my elbow. Okaaaaayyyyyy....

5. What's the deal with bridges? (Wow, that sounded very Seinfeld-esque, didn't it?) Why does traffic slow down on bridges? Why does an otherwise rational human being approach a bridge in his or her automobile, and step on the breaks until reaching the other side?

I have heard suggestions that people are typically afraid of bridges, so they hit the brakes.

Well, I'm sorry, but explanation doesn't make sense to me. If someone is afraid of something, I think the natural reaction is to move away from it as quickly as possible. I mean, if I'm walking across the Serengetti, and I happen to run into a large cat, I don't approach it with caution and walk slowly by it. No, I take one look and start moving my feet as fast as possible. This reaction may be the absolute wrong thing to do, but nonetheless, I suspect it is what most people would do unless they are wild cat experts and have some other marvelous idea ... like not to walk out on the Serengetti in the first place maybe.

Either way, if you (not you, specifically, just the general "you") are afraid of driving on a bridge, and you nonetheless take the road that has a bridge, I would think you would be more likely to hit the gas to get it over with rather than spend more time actually ON the bridge you are afraid of, inching along, maximizing the time that you could end up dead should the bridge decide to fall into the ravine/river/estuary.

Eh, maybe it's just me.


Decongestant Dreams

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

A few days before the second "record breaking snow fall" of this winter season, Darling Husband most generously brought home a cold from the office. Of course, this sort of sharing is absolutely inevitable on Planet Earth. I can't blame him for that. I mean, Toddler with a cold during a major snow event is not the most pleasant way to spend a snowstorm, but I can think of a lot worse. (For starters, there was the hurricane where our basement flooded, or the day Toddler gave himself a black eye by falling ... somewhere ... just as major snow began to fall from the sky.)

Well, this snot infestation was one of the more tenacious ones I've met, forcing me to the drugstore for help. I stood in line at the pharmacy, presented the pharmacist with two forms of government-issued identification and my dental records, signed a registry identifying me as a known decongenstant user, and bought the good stuff. You know ... Mucinex. None of that artificial, non-functioning placebo drugs they put on the mainstream shelves these days. I wanted the stuff that used to be in Sudafed and available in bulk from Costco. I wanted the stuff they used to give me as a kid, before they figured out that it wasn't a good idea to give that stuff to children under 4. And I want to give it to Toddler so he'll quit saying, "MY NOSE IS STUCK!" But alas, I won't. I can't bring myself to disobey the directions that say, "Do not give to a child under the age of 4."

I like to refer to a good decongestant as one that "rings every ounce of water from all the tissues of a body and deposits it directly into the bladder in 15 minute intervals." An antihistamine, on the other hand, sucks in all water to the marrow of the bones, leaving the nostrils, mouth, and skin feeling parched. Match this with salt and even I might be able to sit through a movie with a large size soda.

Of course, if after a couple of days of antihistamines to end the nasal faucet, one takes a good decongestant ... prepare to be up all night peeing out all that water from the marrow of your bones.

I don't know about you, but I am one of those people that doesn't sleep well on decongestants. I don't fall as deeply asleep as usual, and instead I spend most of the night in a semi-conscious state, not quite awake, but aware enough that time is passing and I'm having oddly repetitive dreams about whatever I read or did last before retiring to bed. Most recently it was reviewing a novel about two Amish women... yes that was an odd one to dream about all night. I wouldn't even have tried to read anything, as rotten as I felt, except that Toddler and I had just finished singing, "The Wheels on the Bus," and I certainly didn't want to dream about THAT all night long.

Of course, the cats wanted to be absolutely on top of me, because I was sick, and that is what cats do. Darling Husband assured me that every time they tried to sit on my chest, he would remove them (gently) so I would not feel even more as if I were suffocating. While this was a nice gesture (and not likely to happen given the way he sleeps), it was not necessary. Every twitch of their whiskers, and I was awake. Then, because I woke up, I became aware of the decongestant effect and promptly had to go to the bathroom. During one of these nights, I actually woke up every 15 minutes.

You might think that I would be super tired the next day, but I ask you, what is super tired when you have a Toddler? Plus, with the right combination of cold medicine during the day, I am either not aware of any fatigue, I'm too tired to feel fatigued, or I simply don't care.

To be candid, when I get up more than ... say ... 10 or 15 times a night, I generally fall asleep somewhere around 5:30 AM and hear nothing else until someone shines a light in my face. I don't hear any alarm clocks and no Toddlers screaming "GOOD MORNING!" This experience in and of itself is enough to keep me smiling for hours. Of course, when Toddler finds the flashlight or turns on the lightswitch ... well.

Finally, the last and best side effect of spending an entire night up with decongestant bladder is the scale the next morning. Whew, who knew water could weigh so much? That kind of reading will brighten any outlook for sure!

Yes, I don't often go the extra step for drug-induced decongestant non-sleep, but sometimes it is worth it.


At Last, the Final Installment of Baby's Journal

>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Well, Baby has a lot to say today, so without wasting any time, let's away to Las Vegas in this installment of "Memories of Vacations Past."

Baby’s Travel Log, Day 8, Saturday, transcribed on this, the following Saturday:

Boy, did we try to do a lot today. It didn’t make things easier that I didn’t have good night on Friday. Mom and especially Dad were up quite a bit trying to deal with the monitor that wouldn’t shut up. It looks like things on that end of our life is back to normal. It's a good thing the doctors are certain that I just don't read well on monitors, or everyone would be scared instead of really, really grumpy.

We started out at the Bellagio for brunch, and my parents had toothpicks in their eyes to help prop them up. We had planned to be out all day, and for the first time we remembered everything we needed for an all day trip – change of clothes, the power cord to my suction machine, lots of food, burp cloths … you know. We were going to go to some casinos, then go over to Harrahs to see the magic show and my showgirl at 3, then go to Excalibur at night for a show with real live horses and jousting and stuff. Apparently my Dad loves this sort of thing and I am supposed to “get used to it” so that I’m ready for something called the “Renaissance Faire” this fall. Hmmm.

But, on the way to park at the Bellagio, Dad remembered we forgot something. We had the showgirl tickets, but no Jousting tickets. So, after brunch, Mom and our friend and Grandma and I walked to Caesar’s Palace while Dad drove back. He was planning on parking at Harrahs and meeting us at Caesars. The schedule was a bit hectic, but it was all about this one last chance to find a showgirl in all of Las Vegas. (You’d think this wouldn’t have been so hard.) We were going to try to find her at 1:00, but at brunch we decided that it just wouldn’t work, so we were going to go at 3.

Things seldom work out the way you plan them, though. And if you know my parents, you know this is especially true in their case. While Mom, our friend, Grandma and I started walking to Caesar’s, Dad was trying to get back to the unit and then find us. There was something wrong at the Strip on the way back, though, and he couldn’t get to Harrahs. He had to park at the Venetian and walk to Caesars. Here is what Caesars looks like, if you've never seen it:

Last Day of Baby's Journal

In the meantime, not far from the Bellagio fountain, we found my showgirl, and her sister the showgirl. There they were, walking down the Strip, looking for me! So, instead of Dad and me getting our pics taken with a showgirl, Mom and I did. And, in true good sportsmanship spirit, Dad was okay with this. Of course, Mom won't let you see those pictures, but she will let me show you the pictures of the showgirls with just me.

Baby's Final Journal Entry

Baby's Final Journal Entry

That night, dinner was fun. I got to sit on Mom’s lap and eat what Grandma fed me, then the show started. We were in the front row, and there were all kinds of funky lights, and horses. I wasn’t too sure this was entirely safe. I mean, horses? This close to food? Really? It was the loudest place maybe I’d ever been. I got nervous and cried on Dad’s shoulder a little bit once, but I calmed down when Mom and Dad both hugged me. I wasn’t sure what to do when we had the audience participation song, and we had to keep cheering “Yes, yes, yes,” and ‘No, No, No,” but we did it anyway. From then on, every time the whole room yelled, I looked at Dad. If he was yelling too, I relaxed. But, I had skipped naps, and I was worn out, and it was a bit much. So, right before the finale, Mom took me from Dad and said if I was beating my leg to stay awake, I needed to sleep. I didn’t think I could, but Mom knows the tricks, and I gave up. Apparently I even missed something called “fireworks” inside the building. That would have been pretty cool if I could have seen it. Here is where we were:

Baby's Last Journal Entry

I didn’t quite stay asleep, though. We still had to go to the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay, so we went back to the car and changed clothes. I wasn’t going to change, but I woke up, so I had to. I wore my nice collar shirt, and some shoes for a change (although I kicked them off three times before we got inside, including one time Mom didn’t see, and we had to go the whole way back to the car for it).

I was sleepy, but apparently Mom and Grandma had a good time reconnecting with someone named “Mr. Craig” and said it was great to see him, and the view was amazing. It was a great night, very pleasant. Here is a picture. I heard a rumor this spot was where they take the opening shots for CSI, but I wouldn't know. I'm not allowed to watch CSI.

Baby's Last Journal Entry

Well, tomorrow we go home. I’m secretly glad, but don’t tell anyone.


Message from Baby: As a wrap-up from the vacation, I wanted to let you know a few things. I spared you all the tale of the trip home, which was not a lot of fun. Bags got lost, the flight was delayed, keys were in the bag that got lost, but I WAS SO GLAD TO BE HOME! I thought we were never coming home again, and I was so excited.

Since then, Mom's cellphone has been returned -- it just arrived by mail today. And, I managed to break another Blackberry. I won't tell her how I did it, but it's giving her all kinds of error messages today -- heh, heh, heh.

Today we're going to see my aunt and uncle. Yay! (I think. I don't remember them) Mom says we will have tons of fun, and she's usually right about stuff like that. But then there was something about my Aunt helping me finally learn to drink out of a cup, and that has me a bit concerned. I might have started some unreasonable expectations with that eating thing in Las Vegas. Hmmm.


Thus endeth the travel tales of Baby. Tomorrow, our blog will resume with its regularly scheduled content ... unless we have another snowstorm, in which case I will have to tell you about our trip to the Carribean or something.


Baby's Journal, Days 6 and 7 from the Never-Ending Vacation Diary

>> Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Well, I'm pretty sure that if you are here reading today, with a title like the one above, you aren't here to listen to me rant about any more weather. You want to go back to Las Vegas with my (formerly) 8 month old.

So, without further ado ...

Baby’s Travel Log, Day 6, Thursday, transcribed on this, the following Tuesday:

Today we went to Circus Circus, a kid friendly casino. I liked it, but I slept, so Mom and Dad said, “what’s the point?” and went to the Bellaggio. We had to cut things short because Mom and Dad and our friend were going to see “O” and I got to stay with Grandma. From what Mom said, I think I was the lucky one, and Grandma was the smart one. Then again, Mom and Grandma aren’t exactly the “Cirque Du Soleil” type, but Daddy sure is. Kinda makes you wonder what they have in common, doesn’t it?

From my perspective, this whole vacation is getting routine. Up in the morning; off to see more shining lights; funny restaurants; home to sleep. Our friend had a big day, though, hitting a couple hundred dollars on the slot machines, lucky dog. Wish I was allowed near those slot machines. I would bang those buttons something fierce!


Baby’s Travel Log, Day 7, Friday, transcribed on this, the following Friday:

Today we got a nice relaxed start. I fooled around with breakfast, then tried my PMV speaking valve for awhile (it seems harder now). Then Mom and Dad put me in the stroller and I got excited because I thought we were going somewhere, but they said, “take a nap”. What a rip off. (We rented a stroller, by the way, from a place called "Mommy Rents". They delivered it to our timeshare on Sunday, along with a highchair, and a pack'n'play and an exersaucer, for a reasonable price. This service is a lifesaver, because I don’t know how Mom would have managed to get it all on the plane.) Eventually I buried my face in my blankie and slept. I woke up on the way to the pool, where I snoozed again as Mom and Dad soaked in the hot tub, then I ate a snack.

Here is a picture of me before we went to the pool, and before I yacked on my shirt and needed a change. This is where I was supposed to "take a nap":

Baby's Journal Day 7 Before the Pool

THEN the fun started. We changed and went to someplace called “Ballys” to look for my showgirl. She wasn’t there today, but we got some tickets to try to go to someplace called “Harrahs” to see her tomorrow. I don’t know if we’ll really go or not, as the tickets were free. They would require Mom and/or Dad and/or the rest of the party to engage in a certain number of “minimum drinks” though. I don’t think after all this time it would be too hard to persuade them to do that.

Anyway, since my showgirl wasn’t at Bally’s, Mom and I walked from Ballys to MGM while Daddy did something about moving the car … or something. It was a long hot walk for me with the sun in my face, and I was really quiet, even though all kinds of people stopped to try to shake my hand or pinch my arm. (Why does everyone want to touch me?)

Baby's Journal Day 7

Here is what the MGM looks like.

Once I cooled off, I took a nap and woke up in a pavilion with Dad where he fed my big empty belly. I got to eat almost a jar of chicken (lots of calories), and I even sipped half an ounce out of a big people cup. That was scary, but we did it. I think I’ve eaten more on this trip then I have in my entire life. I understand a lot of people say that in Las Vegas.

Baby's Journal, Day 7 coffee

(Don't worry, there really wasn't coffee in the cup.)

Then we walked some more, and sat some more, and then I saw the LION cage with Mom while Dad “tried his luck”. The lions were sleeping, but there was a WATERFALL!!!!!! It was so cool. We next walked into a shop where I made friends with the clerk while Mom helped me buy Dad a shirt that had a big lion on it and said, “Here human, human, human.” Mom said it was funny and I would understand someday.

Last, we went to the Rainforest Café, where they had an even BIGGER waterfall. I was so amazed. It was the coolest thing. There were only two not-cool things. These waiters kept screaming “VOLCANO” behind my back and scaring me, but once I saw who they were, I was better. The other problem was that Mom and Dad were eating, and no one was feeding me anything. I kept making hungry faces and crying, but Mom and Dad looked confused. Something about it was only two hours since I ate last, but I didn’t care. They were eating, so I wanted to eat. So, out came the bananas, and I was happy. I like to eat in strange places – Quarks, Rainforest Café, the Farmer’s Market at MGM. I don’t like to eat in normal places. I certainly don’t like to eat at home.

When we were packing to leave, two ladies came up and asked to meet me. One was about to be a grandma, and she said I was the cutest thing she had ever seen. She saw me playing with Mom’s face and hugging her, and she thought that it was adorable and wanted to meet me. So, I smiled at her, and she and her friend went away happy. I am glad I could be of service! Then we went home to see Grandma and our friend and hear all about the Grand Canyon. Sounds like they had a good time too.

Tomorrow we have one last day to fit in everything we need to fit in. Dad is determined to find that showgirl for us to get our picture taken with. I guess we're going to Harrahs. (They have a decent buffet, too, we were told by the guy at Ballys.)

More tomorrow.


And, yes, tomorrow I will bring you the conclusion of this epic saga. Stay tuned.


Baby's Journal, Days 4 and 5 -- or More Memories ... You Get The Idea

>> Monday, February 22, 2010

At the time I sit down to write this blog entry, The Weather Channel is telling me that 4-8 inches of snow are on the way. Yes. More snow to cap off this record breaking week. Okay, whoever pissed off Jack Frost, I want a written apology sent right now, with a carbon copy posted on your blog immediately. This weather is getting ridiculous, and you (whoever you are) need to fix it. Right now.

The good news is the US Postal Service is faithfully delivering my mail every day. I can't be as flattering about the delivery service that is holding my new computer hostage. But ... My mother told me if I can't say anything nice ... well ... let's just journey back to sunny Las Vegas, shall we? The weather is so much more pleasant there.

Baby’s Travel Log -- Day 4, Tuesday, transcribed on this, the following Tuesday:

Today I had it. We all went to Excalibur and had brunch at a cafe.

Baby's Journal Day 4

Mom kept looking at that Blackberry thing again. She did that for a little while at the Venetian yesterday, too, darn her. And, she fed me at the cafe while I was hungry, but it took her a long time to figure out that I didn't want what she was feeding me -- I wanted the other jar. I wanted to eat green today, not orange. How could she not know? Aren’t mothers supposed to know that stuff?

Later the grownups kept taking turns playing the slots and playing with me. When it was Mom's turn, I decided to take matters into my own hands. She was burping me on her shoulder, and I spotted the Blackberry. It was in the chest pocket of her jeans jacket, right below me. So I went for it. BLAAAAHHHHH right down the pocket. I soaked it good, and it STOPPED WORKING for awhile, even after Mom and Dad took it apart to dry it off. YAY! Score one for the baby! After that Mom bought a new shirt and jacket. As Grandma is so fond of observing, that formula smells even worse coming out then it does going in.

Then we went to New York, New York, where the grownups once again played “Hand Off The Baby” so they could get in some good slot-playing time. I kept trying to nap, but the people screaming on the roller coaster kept scaring me, so that was kind of a bust.

Baby's Journal Day 4

Meanwhile, all the grownups kept complaining about not getting any sleep, but it wasn’t because they were up all night enjoying the Vegas night life. No … they were futzing with my equipment, which kept fritzing and retaining water. Last night supposedly was better but not great. I wouldn't know, because, just like always, I slept like a rock. My alarm went off about 4x an hour, even on the lower setting Dad programmed, instead of 6x an hour. Hey, it gave them an extra 5 minutes of sleep each time. What's wrong with that?

Don’t my parents really know how to have fun?


Baby's Travel Log, Day 5, Wednesday, transcribed on this, the following Tuesday:

Well, the O2 monitor is everyone’s least favorite piece of equipment. When I sleep, it always says I’m not breathing well, but the doctors say it is lying. Dad hates it, and our friend has threatened to throw it into the pool. Let's just say that she isn't the first one to threaten to do serious damage to it. The "darn thing" as Dad calls it when he is being his most polite, was going off about 4x an hour, and at least 1x an hour, someone has to get up and fix the cord, or empty the water from my hose, or re-attach the sensor on another spot.

Well, finally on Tuesday (last night) I had a great night – my levels were 97 or above all night long (where they probably always are, just the dumb monitor can’t figure it out). I think Mom and Dad finally SLEPT, which is a good thing because I like it when they are well rested and happy. They play a lot more that way and are a whole lot less surly. I'm sure a wide awake Mom would have known yesterday that I wanted to eat green not orange.

I got to stay at the time share today with our friend for the afternoon, yay!!!! I like that. Mom and Dad and Grandma went off to play some slots without having to play "Pass the Baby" or play games like, "Let's See How Fast We Can Run the Baby Through the Casino So Security Doesn't Notice He is Here." I rather like that game, but it seems to make Mom and Dad a little bit bad-tempered. Having to go back to the security desk when I threw my blankie on the floor during one of this trips and didn't mention it for about an hour was not another good moment for us.

I understand that Mom had a good day at the slot machines in Treasure Island today. I had a good day in the hammock with our friend and all by myself. It was my very first hammock. Unlike the Aflac Duck, I did not flip out of it. Whew!

Well, that brought back memories. Our office tech dude told me I was the first person to ever file a request for a replacement Blackberry claiming, "Death by Puking." He thought about trying to repair it by drying it with a special machine, but after he found out what the "moisture" was, he decided to junk it. Can you really blame him? Now if only I had a new outfit every single time that happened ... well ... I guess I'm still dreaming.


Days 3 of Baby's Vacation -- Still More Memories From Vacations Past

>> Friday, February 19, 2010

Well, it has been about a week since the snow started falling in earnest. Except for a brief stint to the store last Monday, Toddler and I have been basically snowed in. We wouldn't have even tried to venture out on Monday except the second storm was on its way, and we were out of some necessities for the storm. Specifically, we were out of soda and coffee creamer. Without those two things, I'm not sure we could have survived.

Now, apparently, yet another storm is on its way to us, but we do have a few days reprieve to get ready. This time we need to head to the store for more essentials, like chicken nuggets and applesauce. If you don't think these foods are essential, you don't have a small child.

I suppose, techincally, Toddler and I could have left the house today, or even yesterday. After all, DH had to be at work all this week, except for Monday and Wednesday when he figured it wasn't worth risking his life to save a vacation day. As for Toddler and me, I am guessing that any place we might have wanted to go was either closed or was using the parking lot as a snow storage facility.

So, once again, I find myself returning to dreams of vacations past. Without further ado, I present to you Day 3 of Baby's vacation to Vegas.

Baby’s Travel Log, Day 3, Monday 2/25, transcribed on this, the following Monday:

The morning started out slowly – it took awhile to get going today, what with still trying to figure out where Mom packed everything. I am telling you, we are losing lots and lots of valuable casino time in the mornings. Hasn’t anyone remembered that I am at my most charming in the morning, and the day is going downhill after that? Anyway, somehow Mom’s cell phone got lost from the old hotel to this new time share, and she wasn’t very happy about it. She was also using her Blackberry to talk to folks at work (I thought we left them behind in Virginia!!!!) She decided to have a “conference call” at 9AM, so Dad and I had a nebulizer and had some breakfast. I ate better than any breakfast before. Then all the big people took me to another breakfast at IHOP, where Mom and Grandma split two breakfasts, and there was so much food on the table there almost wasn’t room for another plate. Then Grandma (what a card, this woman needs a stand-up act), asked for someone to roll her out of the restaurant because she was soooo fullll. Or, at least, that’s what they kept repeating in the car, because I actually slept through the whole thing. I mean, by the time we finally GOT to breakfast, I figured it was nap time.

Then, as if we weren’t postponing our vacation long enough already, we went to the grocery store to pick up some necessary stuff (like soda and baby food and napkins and donuts), and while Mom and Grandma were in the store, Daddy and our friend made me try my PMV in the van. HEY! I thought we were on vacation! I didn’t think I was supposed to be doing any speech/breathing therapy on vacation! Let me tell you, this PMV thing is a lot easier when I can watch the bunnies of Bunnytown (and Miss Pinky Pinkerton, the Super Silly Sportscaster on Bunnytown – she’s so pretty I have to smile every time I see her.) ***Editor’s note – a “PMV” is a passy-muir speaking valve for a tracheostomy tube. Many children find it a challenge to learn to use. “Bunnytown” was a wonderful television show on The Disney Channel that, sadly, is no longer on the air. Darn it! I believe you can still find it on iTunes.)***

After all that, Mom, Dad, Grandma and I went to Venice. I mean, we went to the Venetian. It LOOKED like Venice. I got to walk around all the canal stores with first Daddy, then Mommy. Well, actually, Daddy and Mommy did all the walking, and I stayed in my rent-a-stroller. Daddy kept telling me that he was going to figure out a way to get my picture taken with a showgirl – whatever that is. That sounds okay to me – I’ve been flirting with lots of girls on this trip. Daddy is using me to get himself into a whole lot of pictures on this trip, I think.

We went on a boat ride outside in the canal. Mom and Dad thoroughly embarrassed me by changing my diaper and making me moon the Strip before getting into the boat, but that was happening to a lot of babies all around Las Vegas, so I just decided to smile and go with it. The boat driver sang to me – I didn’t like it the first time, but the second song was pretty cool and I tapped my feet and grinned at everybody.

Here are some pictures of Venice – I mean the Venetian. (No, there are no pictures of me mooning the Strip.) If you are wondering why there are very few pictures of Mom, she says to say that she is the one with the camera, and even when she isn’t, she’s the one with the cropping tool. You'll see what I mean.

Baby's Journal Day 3

Baby's Journal Day 3

Baby's Journal Day 3

Finally, after a big day, I got to go home and hang out with our friend. (Whew!) Mom and Dad and Grandma all went out to dinner with some friends and I wasn’t allowed to go. But that is okay, because I got a chance to play games and sleep after skipping lots of my naps.


Well, I don't know what the weather is actually going to be come Monday, but stay tuned for more of Toddler -- I mean Baby's -- travel journal. I figure we should print the rest of it, snow or no snow. After all, its nice to visit the Vegas sunshine, even if only in my mind.


Baby's Journal Continues - More Memories of Vacations Past

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rumor has it another snowstorm is on the way -- the third in less than two weeks. Now, by "rumor" I mean the local weather channel, which has been shockingly accurate. ("It will snow. A lot.") I also heard a rumor that we have more snow than Vancouver, and someone should have just moved the Olympics here. I have a hill in my backyard that will probably hold the bobsled race just fine. We might have some issues with the fence, but I think if the wind blows just a touch harder, the snow will clear the fence without much trouble.

Anyway, Toddler and I decided not to venture out today, the day after the second storm. If I wanted to go out and watch people drive on snow packed into 6 inch piles, I would have stayed in New England.

So, instead, while we dream of the weather in warmer parts of the world, Toddler and I wanted to bring you Part 2 of Toddler's vacation journal to Las Vegas. (Keep in mind that we called Toddler "Baby" then because he was only 8 months old. Yes, yes it does get confusing changing names with the size of your cats/kids.)

Baby’s Travel Journal -- Day 2: Sunday (Transcribed on this, the following Friday)

Well, it seems that no one in our room but me got any sleep Saturday night. I heard Mom and Dad say to Grandma and our friend that they had to adjust my humidifier settings last night, including turning it up and turning on the heater. There is something about the dry desert air and we will have to be sure not to skip any more nebulizers no matter what. Well guess what. I don't like that idea, Mom. I mean, normally I don't mind ... too much ... when you stick that mask near me and tell me to breathe steam. But that darn portable nebulizer machine that you brought stinks, Mom, because it takes waaaayyy too long. I mean, between the nebulizer, the time it takes to get that tube of formula into my tummy, and then my obligatory morning puking, we have wasted a LOT of sightseeing time. Whoever told you they were sending you the "Cadillac of nebulizers" must have had a bum Cadillac.

So, for some crazy reason of Mom's and Dad's that I never did quite understand, we loaded everything into our hotel room last night, only to have to unload it so we could check out this morning. Apparently we weren't staying here at the hotel but instead were driving to someplace called the "time share" so that Grandma could pretend she was a Mayan princess while floating in the swimmng pool shaped like a Mayan temple. Or something like that.

Baby's Journey Continues

We had to check out of the hotel to get to our time share today, so Mom and Dad packed; our friend went to get breakfast for the big people, and Grandma tried to feed me my breakfast in the car seat. Hehe -- I wouldn't eat. She'll learn. Between the dumb nebulizer, Grandma wasting time trying to put food in my mouth, and all that packing, it felt like we were hanging out in the room basically forever. We flew all the way across the country to sit in a hotel room. Hey! Parents! We can do that at HOME! Helloooooo.... Anyway, it took a long time to pack everything up again. -- we had a lot of bags and most of them were mine. Something about enough machinery to run a small country, and no, the sink belonged to the hotel, not to us.

Mom keeps saying we'll have fewer bags when we leave, 'cause I'm using up supplies, but I'm not sure. I mean, the first thing Dad did at lunch was buy something called "Klingon Blood Wine" and it looked heavy to me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, round about lunch time we went to someplace called "Quarks" (and Dad bought the wine next door). We didn't yet have the stroller Mom rented, so I got to ride in the Baby Bjorn with Daddy. It was nicer than bouncing alongside Daddy while he tried to carry me in the carseat yesterday. Anyway, while the big people were talking, someone named "Roggle" who called himself a "Ferengi" came to see me. He said he knew all about tracheostomies and that they had them sometimes on Ferengenar too. He let me take my picture with him. Well, let's be fair. He let DADDY get his picture taken with him. I'm just along to keep things looking cute. See, here it is:

Baby's Journal Continues

But then, something weird happened. Mom and Dad didn't feed me on time. And they weren't just a little bit late either. They were a lot late, according to my stomach. I tried to tell them, but no one listened. Not Mom, Dad, Grandma, or our friend. I didn't know what to do! Finally, Mom looked at me and said, "are you hungry?" And then she opened a jar of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes? By mouth? Where was my tube of formula? Well, my tummy was so empty I figured this would do until they found out where the forumla was packed, so I opened my mouth. Strangely enough, it wasn't so bad this time, and it did make my tummy feel better. So I ate 1/2 a jar.

Then Mom and Dad and Grandma went upstairs to someplace called "Star Trek" and our friend and I walked around. I liked the flashing lights a lot. But then something weird happened again. They still didn't feed me. After a few hours, we went back to Quarks and I asked to eat again, and I almost finished the jar. Everyone seemed very impressed, but then they FINALLY gave me my formula. I tell you, vacation really made these people a little too relaxed on the proper care and feeding of me, the most important person in the world.

Then some lady called a "Klingon" came around and asked if she was my first "interspecies communication." Dad said no, I had already talked to a Ferengi, and she made some rude remarks about that. But we took our picture together anyway. In fact, Daddy was so excited about this picture that he didn't even give anyone else a chance to clean off my face. Here is us with the Klingon:

Baby's Journal Continues #2

Then Dad and Mom and I went upstairs to the bridge of the Enterprise D while Grandma and our friend played the slots. I got my picture taken in the Captain's chair, and it was fun. Everyone said I was so cute. I'd show you the picture, but Mom says someone named "Copy Right" won't let me.

Something else was happening in Vegas -- every where I went, I seemed to attract some admirers. I thought everyone would want to talk to me, so I smiled all the time, and sure enough, everyone wants to talk to ME! (And why not, right?)

I was also keeping a secret from everybody. My bottom two teeth had come in, and no one knew. Grandma suspected on the plane when I bit on her finger, but it was my secret, and I did it without ever crying. (Although when Mom hit my tooth at Quarks with the spoon I cried.) Now Dad says I have to learn not to bet my teeth. I'm not sure what that means, but I'd better not do it.

After that, we went to the time share. It was a bit smaller than they'd hoped, but it seemed nice. Mom and Dad went to the store, and I had a bath. Then I cried for my parents. They came back, and Mom said I was wired for sound. I told her I wasn't going to go to sleep at all, no sir, not at ... don't rock me ... help ... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Thus endeth our second day of vacation. Tune in tomorrow for more of the adventures of Baby. Also, with much sadness, I have to inform you that Quarks, The Star Trek Experience (with cool ride and museum) and the tre-fun gift shop are all history now, having closed down at the Las Vegas Hilton. According to this web page I know nothing whatsoever about, the attraction may be returning later this year at another location. These stories are all over the internet, so I, for one, can only hope that they are true. Even for the non-Trek fans, the ambiance was something worth seeing at least once. I promise, just going is not a geek alert. Buying a case of Romulan Ale while you are there ... now that is a different story.


In My Mind There Is No Snow ... Or Memories of Vacations Past

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

All this snowfall here in Virginia is getting rather nuts. At the time of my writing, we are 35 inches under and counting and with yet ANOTHER storm on the horizon. I don't care what the media tells you about any 17 crappy inches for the big January storm. They took that measurement at the airport, right next to the river, in congested "city" area. (Technically it isn't in the DC limit, but that is a mere technicality for this discussion.) Trust me, that snow total is really wrong for most of the area.

Anyway, all this snow is making me think rather nostalgically for vacations past ... those trips where we were so warm a little bit of snow would have been a relief. The whole thing sounds so wonderful now that I'm living in dream land. In my mind, there is sunshine, tropical breezes, and no snow drifting over my fence and burying my car.

Then, of course, being me, I find myself remembering how it felt to try to get sand "discretely" out of my bathing suit when it was sitting ... well, you know. Or that really scary toilet room on the train in Spain or the hole in the ground they called a toilet in the French train station (both of which made me think longlingly of airplane bathrooms). I never thought there was ever going to be an experience that made me go to McDonalds because I knew it was the cleanest bathroom around. I could choose to think about the day my roommate yacked into a garbage can in Spain or the day everyone thought I was lost in Australia (I knew where I was).

Today I am finding myself thinking of Las Vegas. I'm the kind of person who likes going to Las Vegas in August, when one minute outside can dehydrate a body for a week. I like that time of year because no one else does, and I don't have to suffer through nasty crowds. So, one day, in a brilliant fit of inspiration, I traveled (with a lot of company) across the country to Las Vegas with a baby that had a trach and was tube fed.

After that, nothing has ever seemed quite so difficult.

Don't get me wrong -- we had an awful lot of fun. In fact, Toddler (who was then "Baby") wrote his own little travel journal for us. He was about 8 months old and he thought everything was rather interesting. I've posted Day 1 of his travel journal below for your amusement. There are a lot of references to medical equipment in Toddler (Baby's) journal, but hey ... it's his journal and not mine. I made a point to not mention medical stuff, not him. I hope you will see that he has a great attitude about it, and he has a rather comical viewpoint ... if I do say so myself.

Baby’s travel Journal, Day 1: Saturday (transcribed on this the following Thursday).

Mom and Dad got me up REALLY early on Saturday. It seems like the very first time that I got up AFTER Mom and Dad. Trust me. I think part of my job in this family is to make sure we all get up in plenty of time for breakfast and early morning shows on Playhouse Disney.

I guess my parents must have been super tired from getting up so early, because they forgot to change me out of my PJs. I have to admit, I was a little bit anxious about the PJ thing, because the last time we got up at o'-dark-thirty and went to the car without changing clothes we ended up at the hospital, and it HURT. I had a quick sigh of relief this time, though, when Dad turned the car the other direction ... far away from the hospital. This time, we headed to someplace called the "airport."

If I had to guess, I think Daddy has some bad associations with going out in PJs, too, because he was pretty anxious himself. (I guess I should take a moment to mention that Mom and Dad were not in their PJs. Neither was Grandma or the friend who was going with us. Just me. I'm not sure I made that altogether clear. Mom kept saying something about Daddy having "airport issues" but I didn't really understand what all that meant, considering I had never even heard of an "airport" before today. Either way, Mom and Dad seemed a bit anxious about what was going to happen to all those bags we were taking with us. I'm not sure what was the concern. After all, we only had ... I don't know ... about 15 or so. For us with all my junk, that's travelling light. We already had rented the really important stuff like an exersaucer and a stroller and a crib at where we were going, so we didn't have to take that stuff with us. Anyway, Dad showed the nice lady at the counter some letter, and she said there was no problem, so Daddy and Mommy wasted all that energy worrying about nothing. (Just wait, guys. Just wait.)

Next we had to walk through some funny place where they took my carseat and Daddy had to carry me, and they asked a lot of questions about my suction machine. I thought I was going to get to go with Daddy through one of those cool glass tunnels with the wizard wands ... or maybe even the big dogs. After all, Daddy was breathing awful fast and looked mighty suspicious to me, but I guess they thought it was all the stuff he was carrying. They did take Grandma away for awhile to look at something with her metal knees, but they didn't take Mom away and ask her about her metal spine, so Daddy was relieved. If they had taken Mom away, Dad would have had to figure out how to hold me, strap the carseat back on the luggage cart, and put on his shoes all at the same time, while standing up, and without being knocked over by people all around him doing the same thing.

In the airport, I finished my tube feed, then quickly threw up. I wanted to tell Dad the whole way through the airport that he shouldn't be worried about all this lining up and talking stuff, because something bigger was coming. (And I do mean big.) Grandma said something like, "Lord, this stuff smells worse coming out than it does going in!" Aw, Grandma, you'll get used to it. I do this 3 or 4 times a day.

We got to board the airplane first. They weren't going to let us, because airlines often don't care too much about helping out families with small children these days. Daddy said something about sticking his butt out into the aisle and refusing to take it back in until he car seat was stabilized and all the medical quipment was stored. Suddenly, everyone was rolling out red carpets for us. On the airplane I slept and refused to eat and generally acted like my good sweet self. Mom had me out of the chair for awhile, and you wouldn't believe how many people were on the plane -- more people than I think I've ever seen before. (Mom and Dad don't let me out much, and I thought there really were only 20 people in the world.)

The ride was fun, but it was NOTHING compared to the airport where we landed. I've never SEEN such colors and people and signs and there were these SOUNDS. I couldn't figure out where to look first. Look at that, Dad! Look here! What's that? WOW! What's that glowing thing going clink, clink, clink, clink, clink? Can I try it?

Mom and our friend got our bags, then Dad and our friend got the van and came back to pick up Mom, me and Grandma. Mom said I was HEAVY because Dad took the carseat with him and took forever to come back. But, I wore my cool sunglasses, and everyone smiled at me. I don't have a picture of that day, but here is what my cool sunglasses look like. (I almost never wore them, because I was more interested in yanking on them, so good pictures are few and far between.)

In My Mind There Is No Snow ... Or Memories of Vacations Past

Things got a little rougher at our hotel that night. We got the not-available-in-any-store formula delivered to Mom's friend just fine. Mom says anything that smells that bad shouldn't bother to be so expensive, and Grandma made more jokes about whether there would be enough after we did the obligatory spillage and puke-uppage. Grandma doesn't pull any punches on the "gross" ya know?

Anyway, after we picked up diapers and all the other stuff that I use, we tried to go out to dinner, even though I was sooooo tired and no one bothered to ask me if I wanted to go. (Notice that I said, "tried" to go out to dinner.) ,We tried to go to Mom and Dad's favorite mexican restaurant in the Luxor, but it closed two weeks ago. (And what's a Sphinx, anyway?) While we kept walking around and around this sloped building that seemed to be more than half under construction (what's "renovation," by the way?) I kept seeing all those flashing lights again. There were so many COLORS -- once again, I hardly knew where to look. But I was so TIRED. I would sleep for five minutes, but then I'd wake up to look around. After Mom and Dad talked to some dude with an unpronounceable title that like "concert barge", Mom and Dad and Grandma and our friend took me to someplace called the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood where there was another mexican place. (Again, they didn't ask me.)

This place served the fastest food you'd ever want to see. We barely sat down before they were putting plates of food in front of my family. I guess they could tell just from looking at them that this was not a family to mess with or something. Once again, I fooled around with my food and wouldn't eat, but I had so much fun looking around.

By the time we got home to the hotel, it was well after midnight, I know. Strangely enough, Mom kept saying it was only 9PM. I just know she was wrong about that. By the time we got there, I was so wired that I refused to sleep and told Mom I was NOT going to go to slezzzzzzzzzzzzz. (5 seconds flat)

But, the night was pretty bad. I had a lot of coughing spells and my O2 monitor was going nuts (as usual), so Mom and Dad were up most of the night with nebulizers and holding me and just watching the monitor insist that my O2 levels were only 85. (But when we reset the monitor, it would say 97 for a few seconds, like magic, it just wouldn't stay that way.) Mom and Dad knew I was okay, because this sort of nonsense (as they call it) happens all the time, but they also said something about "who can sleep with all this beeping going on?" I didn't have any problems ... except for the times Mom and Dad moved me to be sure I was really okay. That was pretty darn annoying.

Despite what seemed like a short night, I tried to get up when my tummy said "breakfast" but it was still dark, and I was still tired. It was confusing, but Mom came over and said, "Go back to sleep; it isn't morning yet." So I did, and that was the end of my first day of vacation.


Stay tuned for more of Baby's travel journal, including some pictures with space aliens.


The Dating Game Gets Serious

>> Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I would have thought that a pre-k music class was too early to enter the boy and girl dating world, but apparently not all of the little children agree with me.

Yesterday Toddler and I went to said music class. We go every week, so I was not expecting anything new. In fact, I was expecting that Toddler would sit next to me (or on me), sing songs, and play games unless and until other children began running around the room. At that point, he would either run around the room with them, or he would run back and forth between them and me to see if he could knock me over from my sitting position with a full blown wrestle tackle and possibly a good clout to my chin.

Of course, any successful gathering of children has the potential to turn into a race or a full-contact game of football, especially if one of the "fun games" is selecting a musical instrument from a pile of them on the floor. Even the crawlers get in on this act, ripping drumsticks out of other children's hands and beating anyone that gets too close.

And yet, somewhere in this melee of music and madness, two small children found a rare moment of peace.

I was sitting on the floor, singing, waiving my arms in whatever motion the teacher directed, wishing for all the world my child were with me to sing. Instead, he was wandering around the room. The teacher has a policy that we are not to drag children to the circle, they must come of their own free will, so I was forced (against my instincts), to let him wander or sometimes run madly about the room with other children. This day, though ... this day was different. On this day, I was not the mother of a toddler or small child. No. On this day, I was the mother of ... a boy.

Yes, a boy. As in the opposite of a girl. As in ... I looked up and saw my son holding hands with a little girl and walking around the room with her while the music played.

Oh, no. Oh, no. I am way too young for this. I'm not ready for this. Darn aggressive older women, anyway. (Seriously, she had at least a year on him.)

After a period of time, during which I sat with my chin on my lap watching my child circle the room escorting a girl in a dress and wondering how this was all happening so soon, the girl decided she didn't want to hold hands anymore. She dropped him like a hot potato and ran away.

Well, Toddler is ... well ... a toddler. He didn't exactly catch on that he was being rejected. He followed her around and kept trying to grab her hand. She came and sat down next to her mom, who was next to me, and he snuck in to try to grab her back to run around. She cringed away. Her mom said, "Just tell him, 'No thanks!'"

I'm thinking, "That's easy for you to say; how casually you instruct your daughter to break my son's little heart. Fickle, the lot of you!" What I say is, "Toddler, when a girl says, 'no' you have to listen."

And the first moment of gender-based education came and went just like that. Somehow it stung a little for me, and Toddler spent at least two whole minutes staring longingly at the girl, wondering what on earth had happened and where had it all gone so wrong? (And haven't we all been there?) Don't worry, Toddler. Girls will come, and girls will go, but I will always be your mom. Small consolation, I know, but it's all I have to offer. No one told me I had to prepare the "what to do when your girlfriend dumps you" speech before you hit preschool.) Toddler stayed quietly near me for most of the rest of the class.

That is ...

until someone attacked the girl of his dreams. Then, broken heart or not, he felt compelled to do something. During one of the final songs of the class, another little boy (apparently younger than Toddler by more than a little) had grabbed the pretty girl by her waist while she was hanging on to a doorknob. He was attempting to pull her away. The girl's mom was distracted by her other children, and the boy's mother was sitting in a circle ineffectually calling, "No! No!"

Toddler leaped to his feet, ran over, and pulled the little boy away from his erstwhile girlfriend. Then, before I even knew what was happening, Toddler and the little girl were running around the room holding hands again. He was looking googly-eyed, and she was smiling. I guess she found her Prince Charming. I have to say, the girl's mother did not seem too impressed by the result. (Hey! What's wrong with my son hanging out with your daughter, you snob! I think it has something to do with me forgetting her son's name a few weeks back....)

While I am firmly of the belief that Toddler would NEVER consider holding a girl's hand unless "she started it," I am finding myself asking one question. At what age did Cassanova's mom realize she had a problem? Or was she in denial her whole life?


I Would Like to Thank...

>> Monday, February 15, 2010

I remember when I was young, watching my mother scrub floors and weed the garden. She often had a mat to sit on, and she had an awkward way of getting up that involved some acrobatics to be sure her knees never touched the ground. As for me, I just crawled around, and when I was done, I popped up and went on my way.

One day, I asked me mother why she didn't crawl around like I did. She said something that bothered me for many, many years. She said, "My knees hurt when I put pressure on them like that." Well I surely didn't understand that reaction. It didn't seem quite right to me. Knees didn't, or at least shouldn't, work that way.

Then she said something totally silly. She said, "I used to be like you, and someday your knees will probably hurt too." Right. That's just dumb. Knees don't just do that. Obviously something was wrong with hers. When my mother had a double knee replacement, I figured my theory was true. My mother just had defective knees.

Then, one day, a few weeks ago, I found myself having a few twinges as I scrubbed my kitchen floor. Little sharp pains starting shooting up from my knee cap when I tried to get up. Pretty soon I found myself finding other ways to pull myself from the floor and alternatives to crawling around the floor. Twenty-five years later, my mother's words have come back to haunt me.

All of this brings to mind the things that make me thankful. I feel the time has come for me to share these feelings.

First, I would like to thank my mother. I would like to thank her for so many things.

1. Obviously, I would like to thank my mother for my knees.

2. I would like to thank her for my pending osteoporosis.

3. My genetic high blood pressure has brought a geat deal of excitement to my recent years.

4. I simply adore my weak jaw joints and yellow teeth, but even more I am thankful for the flouride pills at the breakfast table so that I do not share the mouthful of metal fillings. Thank you, Mom, for deciding some things were too special to share.

Next, I would like to thank my father.

1. I would like to thank him for my Toddler's unibrow.

2. Of course, I must thank him for my lifelong dairy allergy.

3. Not a day goes by where I don't wish to thank my father for my temper.

4. As I reach for my glasses, and think of all the years I spent in bifocals, I thank my father for my eyesight.

5. Most importantly, I think I must thank my father for creating such an anal system of organization in his house that I can never possibly live up to it for the rest of my life. Yes, it is to my father that I feel I must credit my feeling that things are never quite good enough.

I also wish to thank other members of my family.

1. I would like to thank Oldest Sister for telling me that what I do and how I behave reflects on her as well as on myself and my parents. Of course, she is wrong, because I do not take any credit or blame for her behavior, but this sentence did feed nicely into my generalized guilt complex.

2. I would like to thank Middle Sister for her influence on my self-consciousness by calling me "pizza face," signing me up for Weight Watchers on her nickle, and dying my hair, "something other than that mousy brown."

3. I would like to thank my Aunt for giving me the mistaken impression that it never snows south of the Mason-Dixon line.

4. I would like to thank each of my ancestors, from my parents back through the dawn of time, for failing to hand down one tiny gene of height to me. I can hardly thank you enough.

Of course, I have yet to provide any written thanks to my husband and my son, but these moments are so special that don't know if I can bring myself to write them down just yet. I'm sure you understand.


All The Colors of The Rainbow

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

I've been thinking a lot about colors recently. Some people get nervous when I think too hard about something, but bear with me, because I think I might be on to something this time.

We all learned our colors probably at the knee of our parents, or if not then, from our kindergarten teachers. Of course, it was at the knee, because we weren't tall enough to see much past that at that age. If we were giants, we'd have a different expression.

We learned that the color at the top of the rainbow is called "red," the one at the bottom is called "violet" or "purple," and so on. If we stayed awake in high school or college physics, we learn that each color appears as a specific wavelength on the visual spectrum (subject to shifting from movement -- aka the "doppler shift").

Okay, I admit it. I like physics -- just not the calculations part of it. I like to visualize all these different concepts and see if I can make sense of them in my head. I was the kid in class trying to imagine superman getting infinitely heavy as he approached the speed of light, etc. etc. (Geek much?)

Then, if we were really paying attention, we learned that we "see" colors because the cones and rods in our eyes respond to these separate wavelengths. I'll admit that I wasn't so much into biology, so if there is more about that lesson we need to know ... I don't know it.

My question today is where physics and biology collide. We see the color at the top of the rainbow we were told to call "red". Here is my question. How do I know that the "red" I see is the same "red" you see?

I don't. In fact, I can't. Until science invents some way for me to actually borrow your eyeball and look through it, I can't ever know. (And by the way ... "ew".)

So ... what if we don't see the colors the same? What if what you see as "red" is of a lower wavelength than what I see as red? What if the top of the rainbow to you (your "red") is the same color that I see as orange (but is still my red)? What if your red is red, my red is your orange, and Toddler's red is my pink? (Are you confused yet?) Even worse, what if my purple is something you can't even see well? We would never know ....

... or would we?

I'm wondering if having everyone see colors a lot (or a little) differently explains why some people seem to have an eye for fashion or decorating and others seem to ... well ... not. Or maybe some people see so much more than others, which is why colors matter so much, and others don't see as much, so they just wear what they wear?

We could really be on to something here.

I may finally have figured out why Darling Husband brings me a shirt and pair of jeans and asks if they match. He isn't insecure about fashion -- he's color-different! This explains a whole heck of a lot, because anyone that is asking me about fashion advice is really up a crick without a paddle. I mean, I still scrunch down my socks and only have 3 pairs of shoes. (Okay, 5 pairs.) I am no one's fashion guru. But put out towels that aren't exactly the same shade, or a top that doesn't match the socks, and I am all over it.

Really makes ya wonder, doesn't it?


Children's Rhymes... the Revised (PG) Edition

>> Thursday, February 11, 2010

Toddler has a toy that recites the alphabet, with sound effects, like this: "A. A is for Apple. [insert chewing sound]. B. B is for Ball. [insert bouncing sound]." I have decided that the time has come for parents to strike back against these annoying and repititious toys by inserting our own words. After all, we do it in our heads, and sometimes in song, and we should just do it right into the toy's voicebox.

Here are my first suggestions.

"A" is for "Awake at 6:00 in the morning on Saturday," or possibly, "Again! Me need go potty again!"

"B" is for "Blackberry." (After your child throws it into the pet's waterbowl, "B" is for "Broken Blackberry")

"C" is for "Coronoa, or Coors, or Coors Lite, or any other beer that has a 'C' anywhere in any part of its name, and if it doesn't, call it a Cerveza and it will count."

"D" is for "Do you need to go potty?"

"E" is for "Elmo, the world's most annoying 3 year old."

"F" is for "French Fry, the staple of the picky-eater's diet."

"G" is for "Grape juice on the living room couch."

"H" is for "Hot bath at the end of the day."

"I" is for "I don't know!"

"J" is for "Juggling, a necessary survival skill."

"K" is for "Kindergarten, the first peace you will see in years."

"L"is for "Losing the important pieces to the toys," or "Leaving things behind at Grandma's."

"M" is for "Mess."

"N" is for "No. No. NO. NO. NO!"

"O" is for "Ol' McDonald and his stupid, stupid farm."

"P" is for "Pushing the same button on the same toy again and again until we all hang our heads out the window and issue a shriek that wakes the neighborhood dogs."

"Q" is for "Quiet. Please, please be quiet!"

"R" is for "Repeating everything I say." Recently, "R" has meant, "Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain."

"S" is for "Sanity, rapidly running out the front door without me," or "Special Agent Oso, perhaps the world's dumbest bear."

"T" is for "TOODLES!" (If you need an explanation for this, just tune in to the Disney Channel for a day.)

"U" is for "Uh, oh!"

"V" is for "Vacation." (Boy do I need one.)

"W" is for "Wait your turn."

"X" is for "eXhausted parents." (Just go with me on this one.)

"Y" is for "Yuengling." (This also fits under "C" above. If you haven't tried it, you should.)

"Z" is for "ZZZZZZZZZ"

Of course, as all modern parents know, the curse of alphabet songs was created by the infamous Leap Frog company. They make wonderful toys that children love, with songs that drive parents to the brink of insanity. The most pernicious is the alphabet song, "B says 'buh'! B says 'buh'! Every letter makes a sound, and B says 'buh'!" (And so on and so forth through the alphabet, with some odd fitting ones for the vowels that have more than one sound -- whch is why I stated with "B" of course.) This little melody also happens to go very well with the following words: "Give me a break! Give me a break! Don't you touch that button again, please give me a break!" (The word, "please" is optional and the song works just as well without it.)

Of course, on the topic of "repitition" is there any song more repititious than "Mary Had a Little Lamb?" Consider this version instead: "Mary had a little lamb, little, lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb, as if you didn't know. Because we've said it 20 times, 20 times, 20 times, because we've said it 20 times, I'll bet you surely know."

For infinite variety, I recommend messing with "The Farmer in the Dell." You can do so much with this song. For example, "The child is in bed. The child is in bed. Thanks for small favors, the child is in bed."

What do you sing?


Simple Things

>> Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My faithful friends at The Crazy Hip Bloggers have let me down this week. (Not really, I'm just teasing.) We have no topic for Write Out Loud Wednesday. (Actually, let's be brutal. The topic probably existed at the time I wrote this blog, but I was too dumb to find it on the website since it wasn't in the dummy-list on the sidebar. Nonetheless, my fellow bloggers posted last week and this week, but I missed it. Rats.) Never fear -- I have stolen yesterday's photograph topic for "Take It Tuesday" and am making my own Take It Tuesday/Write Out Loud Wednesday Combo post so we can keep it going.

The topic is"Simple Things".

This is my semi-feral cat "Princess".

Princess smaller

Princess lives outside in my backyard and helps me keep my house free from mice. Princess needs only simple things to get by, food, shelter, and a kind word now and then. She looks domestic, and she sometimes pretends to be domestic, but she really isn't. Very few people can ever touch her, and only just a little bit, and she isn't all that fond of litter boxes either. She prefers to keep her distance, but she does like to chat quite a bit.

While Princess needs only simple things, what Princess wants is a little bit more than that. She used to be content with food, shelter, and a kind word. Now she wants food on demand, a heater in her cat house, a kitty-door into the garage for when the ground is all wet and yucky, and someone to stop the birds from eating all her food now that her brother is gone because her buddy Louis isn't quite the birder her brother used to be. (We have some pretty obnoxious birds, if I do say so myself.)

Princess Smaller

This is Princess yelling at me through the glass doors just yesterday. As you can see, there is still snow on the ground, and she is not too pleased with this fact. The birds have eaten the food she left "for later," and she wants to know what I am going to do about it. I am not satisfying her wants and needs in an acceptable manner, and she is letting me hear about it.

Princess Smaller

I opened the door to take her picture, and she thought I was coming to do something about her complaints. She said, "Hold on, Mom, I'll be right there." And then she got a bit flummoxed trying to figure out how to get to the door without getting her feet all cold and wet again. For an outdoor cat, she is rather spoiled.

As it turns out, Princess had an idea. She wants food, shelter, and kind words in a more pleasing environment. She wants warmth all around instead of merely warmth from her heating pad and her buddy Louis. She wants food available without fear of birds. She wants water without leaves floating in it, and she wants servants at her beck and call. In other words, she thinks it is about time to live up to her name. After all, she has the attitude for it.


When she came over to the door, the full extent of her plot became clear. She wanted inside. In fact, I had to move quickly to keep her from crossing the threshold (because how do you remove a cat that doesn't want to be removed and will not tolerate anyone touching her?).

Alright, your royal catness, let's get one thing straight. I will give you food and shelter, and you have even suckered me into giving you a kitty heating pad. I will not, however, be providing you any food and/or shelter inside my house. I already have one more cat than I ever wanted and three more than my sister will allow me to keep. I'll tell you what ... I'll crack the door of the garage anytime the temperature drops below 20. Deal?

Sorry, sweetie. You may be the longest-resident cat at this house, but you are staying outside.

That's where the mice are, and with your help, that is where they will stay.

Author's note: The above blog was written before the last two snow storms. Now not only is there no grass in sight, Princess can no longer jump on the grill, and we had to shovel her a path from her house to the step. And, yes, like good cat-servants, we shoveled her out first.


The Art of Book and Media Reading

>> Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yesterday I explained why I had been stalling in rereading Erma Bombeck's collected works. At the end of the post, I concluded that, yes, I would absolutely read the books again, and no harm would come of it.

Actually obtaining those books ... now that is another story. First of all, she wrote thirteen of them. That's a lot of books (some I didn't even know about until I did a Google search. How exciting!)

Now the bad news. Amazon does not yet have versions of these books for the Kindle reader, so there shoots my grand plan of downloading all of them into one handy little device and toting them all with me wherever I go so I don't need to pick and choose. Kindle is the greatest device, I tell ya. It looks like a date book when the cover is on, or possibly a palm pilot for the blind when the cover is off. Either way, it is discrete, and I can take it anywhere without excuse. I can read it in a lobby, or in a meeting, on the subway, or in Subway. If I have to go to a boring cocktail party, I can take it out and look into it and look like perhaps I'm lining up my next business meeting.

Now Apple has to come along and spoil all that with this new iPad thingy. (No, I won't repeat all the jokes about the name. You can read them on Twitter if you want -- well, if you are on Twitter, you will see them whether you want to or not!) No, this is not device-envy. I am perfectly content with my Kindle. I'm annoyed at Apple for calling attention to tablet sized devices and for making them so multifunctional. Before too long, people will be coming up to me asking if I have the new iPad. (Again ... no jokes ... although it is tempting.) They will want to see my Kindle, they will pester me, and they will assume every time they see me with it that I am on the internet downloading something cool or hanging out on Facebook. So, instead of having a reading device that makes me look like I'm doing something more important than catching up on a novel, I will have a tablet device that makes me look like I'm blowing brain cells on online games when in fact I am actually READING!

But, I digress. To make a long story short, I decided that the most cost effective way to obtain the books I want (at least temporarily) is the local library. The bad news is the library still has a quiet policy, and I still have a Toddler. I've been avoiding the library for awhile because of this ....

But he loves books, and he had to start the day at the dentist (which is a pretty traumatic day when you are 2 and a half), and as soon as I asked him about the library he was all over it. "Go library, get books. Go library, get books." How can I deny that, after a trip to the dentist no less? (And the screaming, oh the screaming ...)

So we "went library" to find some books.

Ever since I graduated from law school, I have ceased examinining anything but the alphabetized-by-author fiction sections of libraries. That is not to say that I don't read nonfiction, but I prefer to acquire it on the discount rack at the local bookstore so I can take as long as I need to actually read it ... sometimes years. And as for my travel books, I actually want one I can take with me on the plane without worrying about library fines. So my use of libraries has become quite limited.

All of this brings us to the question, "Where in the library is the humor section?" I can argue it's fiction, because there are seldom any footnotes or citations, but of course there is nothing under "Bombeck" in the fiction section. So, Toddler and I ventured over to the "other side" of the library. As I coaxed Toddler through a few sets of shelves, he smiled and waved to men in business suits and said, "Hello!" After a few scant minutes, I decided that I really cannot figure out the mysterious numbers that make up the dewey decimal system without assistance ... at least not while keeping a sharp enough eye on Toddler to make sure he doesn't try to climb anything or roll his green superball (a present from the dentist) out of sight.

So, off to the help desk I went, with Toddler and his green bouncy superball in tow.

"How can I help you?" She asked.

At this point Toddler grabbed on to my arm and began pulling. "That way!" He said, pointing toward the children's book section.

Quickly I whispered to Toddler that we needed to talk to this nice lady to get some Mommy books before we could go get Toddler books. He promptly nodded and began dropping his green superball onto the floor and watching it bounce around.

While he was occupied, I told the desk lady I was looking for humor books, like Erma Bombeck, and where should I go to find them? She started typing away, clackity, clackity on her keyboard, offering to look up just that author for me. Then she said she found humor books and was happy to show me the way to the section. "Oh, good," I commented. "I'm really looking forward to picking up some of Bombeck's books."

"Oh!" she said and sat back down. Let me make sure, then. Can you spell that name?"

Can I spell that name? First of all, what was she looking for when she said she would look up my author? Second, how can she not know Erma Bombeck? She's a librarian, so she must like books, and she is older than me (I think), so she isn't too young to have heard of her. What gives? I didn't think there was anyone over 40 who hadn't heard of Erma Bombeck. I mean, just look at these titles! How can you not be curious?

1. At Wit's End

2. Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own

3. I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression

4. The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank

5. If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?

6. Aunt Erma's Cope Book (How to Get From Monday To Friday in 12 days)

7. Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession

8. Family -- the Ties That Bind ... and Gag!

9. I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise: Children Surviving Cancer

10. When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home

11. A Marriage Made In Heaven ... or Too Tired For an Affair

12. All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room

13. Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing From America's Favorite Humorist


Ah, well, obviously this woman was tremendously deprived and possibly beyond help. Either way, I have my own little person to raise, and I can't be responsible for her deficient reading list. So I spell it for her, vaguely recalling that Erma had to spell her name repeatedly in one of her own books, "B ... O ...M ..." She says, "Yes, I've found it! Motherhood, the Oldest Profession."

I nod and agree, not bothering to correct her by telling her that its actually The *Second* Oldest Profession. After all, she has the screen in front of her, and presumably she can read, but I'm afraid to presume anything at this point. In the meantime, Toddler is bouncing his ball around, and around, and around (good thing the reference desk went the whole way to the floor without a gap ... that is all I have to say about that ....)

Ms. Librarian looks at the screen one more time and says, "Unfortunately, that particular book is checked out, but I'll show you the section anyway."

And off we go, Ms. Librarian, me, and Toddler bouncing his "green ball!" (As it turns out, I had been only one aisle off, so random chance got me at least close...) As soon as we reached the right section, Ms. Librarian stops and cheerfully announced, "Here we are! They are around here somewhere....

Oddly enough, they were right there. I mean ... there ... at my eye-level, not up the aisle somewhere where she was looking. Even more odd was the name of the first book on the shelf. "Motherhood, the Second Oldest Profession," the book that was checked out. Just for kicks, I handed it to her. "Hey, look! Here is the book you said you didn't have."

Well I think I just about brought the poor woman's gears to a grinding halt. She just stared at the book, and stared. "Well, well ... I don't know..." and off she went back to her desk shaking her head in sad confusion. I collected a stack of books and took Toddler to the children's section.

Toddler was very quick to select his books (every one I showed him was a good one), and we went to the electronic scanner to check out.

Note to self: Let Toddler check out books. Do not try to do it yourself.

I was gingerly running the book under the scanning light, trying to make sure I hit the right barcode (as opposed to the "wrong" barcode ... of course there are two....) and making sure I don't knock anything over. It takes me two or three passes of each book to actually make a connection. Toddler takes one of his books, shoves me out of the way and yells, "I DO IT!" Quick as a wink, he flashes that sucker under the scanner and checks it out in nothing flat.

The problem was I had already scanned that book.


Now what?

We spent the next five minutes getting someone's attention, and the next ten minutes after that trying to figure out, "Now What?" All the while I'm thinking, "Next time I'll just give all the books to him...."

Well, the good news is that we got that situation straightened out. On the drive home, Toddler made up a story to tell me about one of his books, and while I tuned him out listened closely, I decided that we all need a reading list. Sweet but unenlightened Ms. Librarian has taught me a lesson. I cannot presume we all know even the greatest of contemporary belly-laugh writers, so we must share. So, for kicks, I've added a "Suggested Reading" box on my blog page. I promise, not all the books will be Erma, but that is where I am starting. I'm reading them (or rereading them, as the case may be) and posting them up if I love them. You can read (or reread) them too. If you have any suggestions of books let me know.


Another Ode to Erma

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

On my very first blog post, I gave a little ... kind of ... tribute to Erma Bombeck. Okay, it was pure flattery, and I called it, "Erma Bombeck is My Hero." I also said that I hadn't read Erma's books in a long time but that I would be re-reading them "soon."

Well, I think we can all agree that "soon" is a relative term, right? I mean, I can reasonably defend that now is "soon" given all the blogging I'm doing for you and my ongoing battle against the forces of Entropy and Chaos that have totally invaded my house. After all, Darling Husband's functional definition of "soon" is "I'll get to it before we move again." (Although, recently, he has added a corollary I call, "As soon as necessary to defend myself against your blogging.")

To be fair, I have wanted to borrow and/or purchase these wonderful books, but I have been restraining myself. I was a little bit concerned that I would get so wrapped up in her story telling that I would be unable to tell original stories myself. More than once already I have thought of an idea or two, only to remember that Erma already did that -- like the missing socks from the laundry and my irresistable urge to finish the leftovers on my kid's plate so they don't go to waste and instead go to my waist.

And then I had an epiphany.

Erma Bombeck wrote the bulk of her books in the 1970s. I was born then. While we share the experience of raising children and managing households, it is my second career and I'm a novice. Erma knew how to use things like a "vegetable brush". I don't even know what that is. Erma packed a dress to attend church when she went on vacations. I don't even own a dress right now, and I didn't even wear one to my own son's baptism. In fact, the last time I went to church I was overdue on the laundry and had to go in blue jeans. The forcast for next Sunday is snow, and I wouldn't be surprised if I wore jeans again so I don't ruin my good shoes.

On the flip side, I'll bet Erma never stood in the halls of Corporate America and had the fashion plate in the office next door come up and say, "Did you know you are wearing one blue shoe and one black shoe?" I'll bet Erma never lost her shoe crossing the street on the way to a business meeting while dragging a rolling briefcase and chasing down the boss.

Perhaps most compelling of all, I'll bet Erma never knew the relief that comes from finding a boss at last that has the same bladder capacity that you do so you don't have to be the one always interrupting meetings for a "quick break." I am a firm believer that the true division between men and women is not height, strength, stamina, fat ratio, or reproductive organs -- it's bladder capacity. Of course, there are no absolutes, but the average man can drink a can of soda before a movie and make it to the end without writhing in pain on the floor. The average woman can hope to eat an entire tub of popcorn, extra salt, to try to retain enough water to limit bathroom trips to before, during, and after the film.

But, I digress. Despite the kindred feelings I have, and despite our apparent similarities in perspective, we have had vastly different experiences. I think I can read her books again without fear.

After all, I took the Virginia Bar Exam in a suit the year the power went off. I doubt Erma had any story like that. And then there was the woman I sat next to in the Maryland Bar who said, "This is the third time. If I don't pass this time, I'm suing my law school." (I knew then who was setting the bottom of the curve for the rest of us.) It's okay that I don't know what a vegetable washer is, or that I have never used a ricer, or that I don't think I own a cheese grater. I still have my crockpot, and I know how to use it.

Erma was a self-proclaimed shopping master, buying anything at any price, as rapidly as possible. She once worried her husband would get a condolence letter from American Express when she didn't use the card for a full two weeks. For my part, my shopping experiences have been with The Shopping Man and his eldest daughter, resulting in unseen but deep scars. In fact, we once had our credit card turned off when we bought some art on a cruise ship because the card company was certain our card had been stolen. ("Oh my heavens! They are actually using it for more than groceries!")

But wait. With all these differences, will I be disappointed? Will I find after a long absence from her books that we actually are not kindred spirits? Is it possible she won't amuse me anymore, and my rose colored glasses will be stripped cruelly from my face?

Nah. Bill Bombeck was tall. My husband is tall. Erma was not. I am ... well ... not. That's enough. That will save us.


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