"So throw away those Lamentations,
We both know them all too well.
If there's a Book of Jubilations,
We'll have to write it for ourselves.."

-Josh Ritter

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas! (episode 2)

We were on our own for Christmas day this year. Our work schedules didn't allow for travel to see either side of the family. Unfortunately, we've had a rough couple of days since MJ and Thunder Dan left town. A lost set of keys opened the week for Kat, then a fuelcell failure for the Prius left her and Nora stranded at home Tuesday morning. Thankfully, it's all covered by the warranty, but was still a huge pain to deal with. On my end, one of my attendings made yet another attempt at tormenting me into quiting. Psycholgical torture at the hands of this particular physician has become a way of life over the last 3 years, but it just doesn't get any easier to deal with as time goes by.

Needless to say, Kat and I were ready for some hard-core relaxation on this Christmas holiday. Going nowhere is exactly what we needed.

After breakfast, it was time for presents! And now Nora is now a seasoned pro. We asked her if she wanted to open gifts and she darted down the stairs and was pulling them out from under the tree by the time we got to her. She opened them all. The hits of the day today were her Lilly Book and "The Muppet Show, season 1" DVD from Aunt Kristin,. She also got some hair products, and a new outfit for her "groovy girls" doll, which she has appropriately named "Bella" after absconding with it from... Bella.

After all the presents were opened, we all laid around in front of the tree, next to the fireplace, dazed and happy. It was pretty much just two hours of this.

When Nora started to tire out, we popped in the Muppets video, and she and Mommy had a good long, semi-comatose cuddle on the couch.

And so went our day. Gifts, playtime, TV, napping in front of the fire, more playtime, more TV, more napping. This is what Christmas is all about, no?

In other big news, our friend Heidi needed a dog-sitter while she went away for the holiday, so Acacia stayed with us today. Now, Acacia has had a special place in our hearts since the first time we looked afer her. This is due in no small part to the fact that she looks like what would happen if Suma and Lazlo had been allowed to breed (yikes). More importantly, however, she's an incredibly sweet, patient dog. As evidenced by this:

So, Heidi, if you were waiting to get married and have kids until someone had "field-tested" your dog on their own children, I'd say you're good to go. Also, for the record, there's really only 3 dogs in this world that we would allow our daughter to do this to. Acacia is one of them.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas! (episode I)

Nonna and Thunder Dan were in town for the weekend, to celebrate Christmas, and my birthday, and to bail us out of another jam. Kat and I both had to work on Sunday (boo!), and it turns out daycare is in short supply over the holidays, so they came to our rescue.

It wasn't all work, though. They came in on Thursday and stayed through Monday morning, which meant that they spent the first two nights witnessing first-hand just what a bunch of old geezers Kat and I are. (Seriously, we each had a half a bottle of wine Thursday night and were out by 8:45. And I struggled through surgery with a hangover on Friday. This is generally considered poor form.) More importantly, Nora got a chance to wrap Thunder Dan around her little finger. On Saturday we did presents. Nora, at age 22 months, continues to amaze me. You'd think a kid that age would wig out after 1 or 2 presents and a full blown melt-down would ensue before we could get to number 3. Instead, she patiently handed out everyone's gifts (at least 60% of them accurately), then helped us open each and every one of them. There were dozens. It was a slow process. She had to run across the room for each piece of paper she tore off so she could hand it to Mom, who was then expected to properly dispose of it in the "Tash." By the time all was said and done, though, the kid made a major haul.

Highlights of the day included a set of wooden blocks in little Nora-sized a wood wagon, all skillfully hand-crafted crafted by Thunder Dan, a quilted play mat from Nonna featuring a construction scene (complete with porto-potty) and a dirt road, and her own little trucks and tractors to drive around the mat, a little play-tent from Aunt Elena and the World's Softest Stuffed Puppy (with matching puppy slippers and an embroidered fuzzy blanket) from great-grandma Tina.

Nora loves her new toys. And she's going to flip when she finds out we get to do it again, next week, in Minnesota.

To cap off an already kickin' day, Kat decided to do one of her patented pan-Mediterranean super-meals, with a carrot-cake chaser. How ridiculous is this?

She may be a sassy little tart, but the woman can COOK like nobody's business. The featured entree is called Makhlubbi, which apparently translates to "upside down." We only make it once a year, but it's worth the wait. Meals like this make me realize just how incredibly fortunate I am.

One more thing... an update on Poppa. He's home from the hospital, starting on new medicines to replace all the hormones he's going to need now that he's sans-pituitary, and feeling pretty good. And his tumor was, in fact, benign. Just one more blessing to celebrate over the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Poppa (by Eric)

We've been worried about Poppa for a while now. It all started a few years ago when he had some trouble with his heart that was never really explained very well. After that we started noticing a lot of little things that just didn't seem right. Like when his body hair all fell out. The man was like the missing link his entire life, and all of the sudden he had no hair on his chest, back or arms. Then he started losing muscle tone, and developed a bit of a slouch, despite the fact that he was working out religiously 5 days a week. It just seemed like he was aging too fast. The puzzle started coming together when his urologist sent a testosterone level a couple months ago, and found that it was zero.

Zero. That just doesn't happen.

A trip to the endocrinologist, some blood test and an MRI, and we had our answer. Poppa has a pituitary tumor.

Now, in a way, this was good news, and we both knew it. If you're going to have a brain tumor, this is the one you want. It's almost never malignant, and it's curable. But we also knew this; Poppa needs surgery, or else he's going to lose his vision. For a man as fiercely independant and important to this family as Poppa, that was a scary proposition. I knew that the surgery he needed was a routine operation, one that his neurosurgeon wasn't going to lose a lot of sleep over. But, as a surgeon, I also know that sometimes even in the most routine operations, terrible, devastating things can and sometimes do happen. And I've lost a lot of sleep thinking about those things this week.

Poppa had his surgery today, and I've been trying to stay busy and not think about it too much. Tonight the call came from Mom that he's out of surgery, and it went well. He's awake, he's alert, he's perfectly stable, he can see, and his pain is under control. Other than a swollen nose, which for him is only a slight exacerbation of a lifelong affliction, he looks perfectly fine.

And I can breathe again.

Poppa, I'm sorry we can't be there with you. You're in our prayers. And we are all just so incredibly relieved that you're alright. We love you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pretty hair

Nora requested "pretty hair" tonight. Alas, she has me for a mother, so this is what she got.

Let's look at that from another angle, shall we?

Once she was beautified, Nora went to work on me. But, alas, she has me for a mother, so there are not, nor ever will be pictures of that moment. Sorry, kid.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I'm actually referring to me with that title. I've had a long, rough weekend of working, then coming home and doing all the work I didn't have time to finish during my shift. So, I'm tired and crotchety and need a hug.
But on the upside, Nora told me the other day, "Mommy pretty. Mommy nice flower." That has to be good, right?

Monday, December 8, 2008


Nora had a lot to say tonight. I often wonder how much of the jabber is her processing her day by way of telling Mom about it. I have a healthy measure of Momguilt (yes, it's all one word) about leaving her at daycare every day, so it helps me to think that she's learning something while she's there.

This has been especially noticeable since she's been spending a little time in the two-year-old room. Suddenly, there is talk about potties and a sometimes-not-so-desirable ability to remove articles of clothing. While nothing like cousin Lydia's nudity phase, she has managed a couple of surprise attacks. Tonight, Eric found a poopy diaper on the floor and a soiled naked bum hot-footing it away from him. I was called in from kitchen duty as reinforcements. I would like it to be widely known that I managed to keep a straight face.

She also has a newly expanded vocabulary since being exposed to the two-year-olds. I can tell you for a fact that those kids really like the word "butt." Some other phrases that have induced shock and awe just this evening:
"That mine. This yours."
"Need more orange. Booool [bowl] is empty."
"Is Nora nice?" This was thrown out immediately after a time out.
"No Mommy. More Daddy. Daddy play with Nora." Please note the period, not question mark, at the end of this one.

We ended the evening with stories, as usual. Tonight, she wanted to read "Corduroy," "Noisy Nora" and a new one, "Where the Wild Things Are." That was the first reading for "Wild Things" and a repeat performance was immediately requested. I'm a touch anxious that there may be nightmares to come from that one. She already has night terrors between once and three times a night. I'm not entirely sure how I would distinguish shrieks induced by the teeth-gnashing and eye-rolling of "Wild Things" from the shrieks induced by whatever it is that induces them now. Besides, Nora looked at the first monster in the book and matter-of-factly declared it, "Lazlo."

So far, so good. She gave her hugs and kisses, settled down in her crib with bum in the air and went to bed without a peep. Then, about ten minutes later, I heard from her room, "Duck!" Then, silence. And much quieter, a minute later, "Kack, kack."

Saturday, December 6, 2008


After we spent the morning attempting to accomplish weekly shopping while everyone and their housecat is trying to buy gifts, Nora crashed for a long nap. Eric and I took that opportunity to decorate for Christmas at break-neck speed. Literally. We got going too fast and the tree fell over and we both almost broke our necks. Unfortunately, the base was already full of water, so in spite of the wet-dry vac and dehumidifier, I suspect that the pine scent pervading our home this holiday season will be competing strongly with the odor of mildew.

When Nora woke up, there was new snow on the ground and a house (OK, family room) looking festive. Her reaction made the back spasm much more tolerable. She is either having a really hard time with the word "tree" or else she thinks that her parents are sub-par intellectually. She insists that the big, colorul thing in the corner is a "pretty flower." To be fair, few trees have multi-colored shatterproof fruit. To be honest, she thinks all plant life is flowers. This is a significant cognitive step up from thinking that everything (including furniture) is either Daddy or a cow.

As a side note, check out this t-shirt that Jenni, Lilly's mom, made for Nora. With the Rock Band guitar in the background, it almost makes us look hip. Or so I am deluding myself. A least Nora looks funky, right?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Talking

It has begun.

People warned me about this. Granted, it was usually in the supremely annoying, "Just you wait, little missy, " tone that irritating people you just met in the grocery store and only know their name because it's pinned to their chest use when they sanctimoniously inform you that it's all downhill from here. I know you know what I'm talking about.

Anyone who has ever held a child that may or may not be theirs in their arms has had this complete stranger approach them and say, "Enjoy this while it lasts- it goes so fast. This is the easy part. It actually gets hard when they start talking/walking/rolling over." Right. Is it the vomit on my shirt or the mismatched shoes that give you the impression that things are going so swimmingly?

To be fair, I generally write these people off as clinically depressed and in denial about it.

Now, suddenly, with little warning, Nora has done it. She has skipped happily over that line into the territory of which we had been warned. She is voicing desires and opinions. Strong opinions. Some of which result in time out. This morning, after receiving a time out prior to leaving the house (which, of course, put us 15 minutes behind schedule- how does a 90 second time out do that?), she stopped in the middle of a mostly unintelligible soliloquy about cars and blocks to inform me clearly: "I want my blankie and I want my Baby and I wanna go night-night."

Now, I'm sure that in a few days, weeks or months, I will look back at this moment as a sweet milestone. I'm positive that very soon, I will be naysaying those naysayers that would look at this as the beginning of the end of Nora's cuteness. Just like with walking and rolling over and every other accomplishment, I believe that this will result in me loving my daughter infinitely more every single day.

But for tonight, if you need me, I'll be the one in the corner, in the fetal position, rocking and clutching this picture:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mostly Harmless

I am so glad that Nora had such a terrific weekend with the family.

And I'm so glad that she is such a good girl so much of the time.

Because I'm about to throttle her adorable little neck.
I'm reasonably sure that children evolved cute so that their parents wouldn't feed them to the nearest mastadon when they behaved Just Like This.
Nora just shrieked at me for the better part of her bath. She screamed about washing her hair. She yelled about brushing her teeth. She flipped out when I turned off the water.
I read the back of the Aveeno bottle. Twice. Then, Eric helped me force her kicking, thrashing, flailing little body into pajamas and dropped her into bed without stories.
At which point, she promptly began talking to herself in darling, fragmentary sentences designed to make me feel like a horrible, abusive parent.
"Daddy...Where Daddy? Where Nana? Lilly? Go see Lilly? Night-night, Lilly..."
"Uh-oh... I need more water...Water... More water, please...More...Water...Soap...Soap, please."
"Baby...Oh, no! Baby, please? Monkey..baby...please?"
I need a beer.
Practice that sentence, you little pest.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Nanna and Poppa Weekend

Take a look at how much fun Nora had wrapping her grandparents around her little, chubby finger.

It was great having family in town this weekend. And of course, sad to see them go this morning.
We warned Nora last night before bed that Nanna and Poppa would be gone today and Mommy would be waking her up and taking her to daycare. That did not stop the immediate explosion of tears that occured when I was the one who woke her up this morning.
After about 12 minutes of heartfelt, heart-rending sobs ("Paaaaaaaaapaaaaaaaaaaa.... Naaaaaaaaaaaannaaaaaaaaaaaa... Daaaaaaaaaaaaaddyyyyyyyy..." Basically, anyone but Mommy.), I finally was able to get Nora's emotions under control by asking her if she wanted to go see Lilly.

[sniff, sniff] "Lillilly? See Lillilly?"
And that was the end of that.