Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends! C, Wild Man, and I will be celebrating with a small dinner on Sunday, as Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October. I have to admit it was a bit odd this morning to get up and go about our usual routine rather than watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and putting a turkey in the oven. This is also the first time in a long time we haven't shared either Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner with our good friends Harrogate, Supadiscomama, and Supadisco-T. We are really missing you, and all of our good friends in Southwest College Town, today. Eat some turkey for us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wild Man Earns a Stripe; or, Adventures in Canadian Medicine

As you all know, my son is, well, a bit wild. C and I often describe him as a bull in a china shop. He is not clumsy or awkward, but he is full of energy. That energy is often difficult to contain, and it frequently results in bumps, scrapes, and bruises. Monday night the energy led to more than a bump or a bruise. Monday night I think my Wild Man may have actually earned his stripes.

Monday evening Wild Man helped C organize our recycling and carry it to the curb while I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner. This actually means that Wild Man ran circles around our garage while C organized the recycling. Afterward they took a shower together, which is something that they do a few times a week. It gets them both clean, it saves a bit of time, and it even saves a bit of water. Near the end of the shower, I went and sat in the bathroom, so that I could quickly grab Wild Man up and dry him off. As I got into the bathroom and as C was preparing to turn the water off, Wild Man began picking up his toys. Just as he put his boat in the corner of the tub, he lost his balance (despite standing on a full length bath mat) and fell, hitting his face on the wall of the tub. He has done this many times before; no matter how many times we caution him to be careful or to ask for help in the tub, he often insists on doing things himself, and he occasionally falls. Monday night, however, he hit his face right above his eye, and he cut himself. As C bent to pick him up and hold him, he said "Get a cloth now." My husband is not prone to panic at all, but at that moment, I heard panic in his voice. I quickly grabbed a cloth, gave it to C, and calmly waited for Wild Man to calm down. Within a minute, he had calmed down enough so that C could look at his face. C visibly relaxed as he said, "It is just a cut. I thought he had hurt his eye." I asked if we needed to go to the emergency room, and C answered, "I think so." I wrapped Wild Man in a towel and took him from C. As I held him, I dried him off and tried to look at his eye, which he understandably didn't want me anywhere near. When I was finally able to get a good look, I saw a fairly long gash about half an inch above the crease in Wild Man's eye. It was still bleeding, but it had slowed considerably. I said to C "I'm not sure if they'll do anything, but given the location, I think we should have it looked at." So C got dressed and gathered some things to amuse Wild Man while I dressed him and tried to explain what was going to happen. Wild Man could have cared less to be quite honest. He dutifully held an ice pack against his head while I put his shoes and socks on, but then he asked "Mommy, please read Babar?" I told him we'd read it in the car, as I carried him downstairs.

About 20 minutes after he cut himself, we were standing in the emergency room of the closest hospital. C looked from the crowded room to me and said "Are we sure this is the right thing to do?" I said, "Well, we're here now." The receptionist pointed us to another room, and we quickly realized that this hospital has a separate ER for kids--and it moved much faster than the ER for adults, which was the one we had initially entered. A nurse quickly triaged Wild Man, as I completed the paperwork, and then we sat down to wait. After about 45 minutes, Wild Man's name was called, and we went back to an exam room. Within another 5 minutes a doctor came by, took a brief look at Wild Man, and told us that the cut was superficial and not deep at all. He was, however, concerned about scarring, especially given the location. He recommended stitches, although he admited that they were primarily cosmetic, especially given that the cut was already beginning to scab over. C and I looked at each other briefly before we both agreed. Within another 5 minutes the doctor had returned with a nurse and a med student. The nurse wrapped Wild Man up like a mummy, instructed C to lie across his legs, while she held his head. I put my hands on his face and told him to focus on me, as I began to sing any song I could think of. I also tried my best to keep Wild Man calm and not to cry myself. The doctor, who was seriously lacking in bedside manner, gave Wild Man a shot of lidocaine and then 3 stitches in about 5 minutes, all while methodically explaining every step to the med student. As soon as Wild Man was out of the blanket and in my arms, he calmed down and said "Mommy, that mean doctor!" which made us all laugh. The doctor gave us a few instructions, and we were on our way home. Wild Man was in bed and asleep about 45 minutes after his usual bed time. Yesterday, aside from some fussing when we had to put medicine on his stitches, he was his old self.

I also have to say that our first experience with the Canadian hospital system, which is notoroisly slow, was relatively painless. I'm sure if C or I had been the patient, we would have had to wait much longer, but the nurses seemed especially focused on moving the children through very quickly. While all of us would have preferred not to have had this experience at all, we're quite pleased with the level of care Wild Man received. But C and I are seriously thinking of buying him a helmet to wear at all times. . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

What's in a name?

This morning, as I pulled up MSNBC to check out the headlines in the States, I saw this headline: "It's a boy for Ashlee Simpson." Ordinarily I have no interest in Ashlee Simpson or her husband, but as I do like to read about babies, I clicked on the story and read that they have named their son Bronx Mowgli. So they have followed the celebrity trend of naming their kid after a city, which I sort of get. But Mowgli? He's the main character in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, but I daresay the couple is unaware of the colonial implications of the book. In fact, I'm quite certain they named him after the Disney version of the film. I mean, do they love this movie so much that they couldn't resist naming their newborn son Mowgli, a name that he is sure to be ashamed of later in his life?

But here is my real point: do people not think about their children as adults before they name them? Seriously, the odd names I've come across since Wild Man was born (who has what I think is a fairly normal, albeit a bit yuppie, name). We've met an Ayvree (Avery), a Salome, a J'Mikal (Jaymichael), a Brittaneigh (Brittany), a Unique, and a Circe as well as countless other fairly normal names that have been so misspelled that I have been unable to decipher them on my own. While I understand wanting to give your child a name that he won't share with everyone else, I don't understand purposely choosing an unusual name for the sole sake of being unusual.

I really wish people would remember that their children will have this name for the rest of their lives. Naming shouldn't be a joke (why would you name your child Pilot Inspektor, as Jason Lee did?), nor is it a place for a parent to live out his or her childhood fantasies (Nicolas Cage named his son Kal'el, which is Superman's birth name). It also isn't a place to demonstrate your love of history (Gretchen Mol named her son Ptolemy). I say this as someone who seriously considered naming Wild Man "Scout" if he had been a girl; luckily, C convinced me that, my love for To Kill a Mockingbird notwithstanding, it is not a great name to give a little girl. . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More snow and more writing

That is the gist of my life right now. We're predicted to get intermittent snow squalls for the next three days. For those of you unfamiliar with snow squalls, they are rather like pop-up thunder showers. They can drop several centimeters of snow in an hour, and then they disperse as quickly as they formed. We're also supposed to get real snow overnight, anywhere between 15 and 50 centimeters--or 5 and 20 inches! Wild Man, at least, loves the snow. Every morning as we make our trek from the front door to the garage, which is all of 8 feet, Wild Man manages to high tail it to the nearest pile of snow. He then throws himself into it, sits up, and cackles!

I'm not such a fan of the snow, I have to admit. It is very pretty when it first falls, but it quickly becomes a nuisance! At least it makes for good writing weather, which is what I've been doing all day, every day--when I'm not grading or prepping to teach.

In other news, the chair of my department, Dr. Feminist, is speaking to the powers that be about a term appointment for me, so I may have a one or two-year position as an assistant prof starting next year, which could turn into a tenure-track position.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stating the obvious

Angelina Jolie has stated the obvious: "Breastfeeding Twins is 'Very Hard.'" For some reason, I find this article (and the many others on the web stating the same thing) very, very annoying. I mean, I just want to say "Duh!" Breastfeeding one baby is hard. Of course nursing twins is harder. But I'm not annoyed by Jolie's statements. In fact, I'm glad she's talking about breastfeeding at all. I'm annoyed by the media's determination to paint her as a "supermom." She is not a supermom. Having 6 children does not make her a supermom. Being Brad Pitt's partner, making lots of money, being able to travel with her 6 children in private plans, with a nanny per child does not make her a supermom. I don't mean to dismiss her abilities as a mom, but the simple fact that Jolie has innumerable resources at her disposable makes her life easier than the average mom's. I also don't think it is advantageous to any woman to perpetuate the myth of the supermom. She is a mother, by all accounts a good mother, but no mother is a "supermom," whatever that means.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flurries or 25 centimeters

That is what the forecasters are predicting for CU Land today--either flurries or 25 centimeters of snow--for those of you not versed in the metric system, that is 10 inches. That's a big difference. . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

And the holiday drama begins

After unexpectedly dropping $900 yesterday on a new refrigerator, C and I are rethinking our plans to travel over the holidays. We were lucky enough to have the money in our savings account, but now our savings account is essentially depleted. We are also lucky enough to be in an economic position right now that most of my pay check for teaching in CU Land's Women's Studies department can go into the bank. This was just the first month that we hadn't invested most of my check into minor repairs for the house--not to mention winter wardrobes for all three of us. So by this time next month, our savings account will once again be back where it was yesterday, which means we will be able to afford a trip to see our families, theoretically. The issue is that I will not get a paycheck this summer; we will have to live entirely off of C's pay. With at least 2 trips to Southwest College Town planned (1 for me to defend, and 1 for the entire family for my graduation) and 1 conference for me in February, we'd like to have a fair amount of money socked away before my final paycheck arrives on May 1st. To recap, we can afford to go, but we don't know if it is the smartest thing to do.

The moment C and I realized we were going to have to purchase a new refrigerator, we both said maybe we shouldn't travel over the holidays. I was rather stressed out Wednesday evening, and this stressed me out even more. Well, actually, anticipating C's mother's response stressed me out. You see, several months ago we invited all of our family members to CU Land for Christmas. My parents never really responded to the invitation (which isn't unusual, but is also the topic of a different post altogether), and Yetta firmly said she couldn't afford the cost of the ticket. She reasoned with her trip here in October and a trip she's taking next month with friends a second trip here would be too pricey. At the time, I said to C "at some point she will offer to help pay for us to travel to Home State, and that will really annoy me. She can afford to come see us, but she wants us there."

Last night C called his mom to talk, and he, of course, told her about the refrigerator. She was on her way out, so it was a short conversation. She told him she was sorry and that was about it. C naively believed that was the end of the conversation. A little while ago, Yetta called him, and the first question out of her mouth was "Does this mean you won't be able to come home now?" C calmly explained our current rationale, and she calmly listened. She then offered to send us $500--which is at least $200 more than the cost of an airline ticket to CU Land from Home State. C declined, telling her we just want to wait and see. He reminded her that she agreed to a low key holiday anyway, so there isn't any need for us to rush to make a decision. He asked, "any thing that needs to be planned will only involve family, right?" She apparently said "oh, of course, take as much time as you need." But she will ask this question every time they talk until we make a decision.

Since she called (and since we had a similar conversation when she was here) I've been asking myself, "why is this a big deal?" She wants to see us, so she wants to give us money to ensure we're able to make the trip. Why does it bother me so much? Why do I let it irritate me and get me upset? I think I've finally figured out why. As I've said many, many times before, Yetta isn't a bad person. In fact, I really do feel like I have a fairly good relationship with her. But she doesn't often show much respect for our decisions. With this particular situation, there is no recognition that we are adults who are capable of making an informed decision about our own finances. Further, there is never (and, if we ultimately decide not to travel, there won't ever be) any recognition that we are upset by our inability to travel to Home State as often as we'd like. We will only hear about how it will affect her.

I know in the grand scheme of things this is fairly minor, and some may say if we really wanted to see our families over the holidays we'd accept her generous offer. But I'd honestly rather stay in CU Land than take her money. It makes her think she can demand our presence in Home State whenever she wants so long as she foots the bill. It makes it seem as though our relationship with her is based solely on money. And it makes her believe that she always gets what she wants.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our new refrigerator

So after talking to the salesman at the appliance store several of C's colleagues recommended, I decided not to wait until C got out of class to go look at it. The store only had 2 delivery slots left for tomorrow, and I did not want to live out of a cooler any longer than necessary. Less than 30 minutes after I left C's office, I had purchased our new refrigerator. I feel better knowing the problem has been solved, although I didn't relish spending all that money. And to make me feel even better, I still have some time to get some work done before the end of the day.

The Joys of Home Ownership

Yesterday afternoon, Wild Man and I arrived home to find a big puddle of water in our kitchen right in front of our refrigerator. Wild Man promptly said to me "What happened, Mommy?" I told him I had no idea. I sent him to play in the living room and began investigating after mopping up the puddle. As far as I could tell the contents in the refrigerator were still cold, so I checked out the freezer. Things were partially defrosted, and the compressor was running rather loudly. I quickly pulled everything out of the freezer and carried it all down to the laundry room, where I loaded it into our recently purchased deep freezer (for once, I was thankful my mother-in-law tends to purchase extravagant gifts). I then sent C, who was in a faculty meeting, a text message, and then I called my dad. I asked him if he thought it was worth finding a repair person to check it out. He asked if I knew how old it was and had me describe what was going on. In his best estimation, given the water all over the floor, the compressor had suddenly died, and that, as I well know, is pricey to replace. In the mean time, C sent me a text telling me where the warranty information on the refrigerator was. Luckily our house's previous owners were very well organized and graciously left us the warranty information on all the major appliances that came with the house. It turns out the refrigerator was purchased in 2001, so it is no longer under warranty. And the best I can tell, it only cost $500. Some quick internet searching told me that replacing the compressor could cost at least that much. So I made dinner for Wild Man and me and waited for C to come home so we could discuss our options.

As soon as C got home he stuck his trusty weather monitor (the man is obsessed with the temperature in the house and outside) in the refrigerator to monitor the temperature. By 9:30, it was apparent the refrigerator wasn't working well either as the temperature was sitting right at 53 degrees. So we loaded everything up into our coolers and carried it outside. For the first time all week, I was glad the temperature was in the 30s! C went out to pick up some ice while I finished researching refrigerators. And as soon as C is done teaching, we're heading out to buy a new refrigerator, in the hopes it can be delivered by tomorrow. Oh, the joys of home ownership.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dirth of blogging

For whatever reason, I haven't been compelled to blog recently--odd, I know, especially since I was blogging almost daily when we first arrived in CU Land. Here are some random updates to let people know that I still exist.
  • My students, who are exceptionally bright, are complaining about the amount of work I require of them. Apparently they'd rather turn in a single paper that is worth 70% of their grade than several smaller assignments. I reminded them yesterday that I will not be ammending the syllabus, nor is the class a democracy.
  • Wild Man has entered a whiny phase. I think it is part of being two. He whines when he doesn't get what he wants, and he whines when he does. He is seriously testing C's patience, who doesn't deal well with whininess from anyone.
  • We have decided to travel South for Christmas, and we will, despite my earlier posts, be with our families on Christmas day. If we go and come back before Christmas, Wild Man will be out of school for 3 weeks. This isn't much of a problem in and of itself. The problem arises when C and I were discussing work schedules. School starts very early in CU Land, and with Wild Man out of school until the day before classes start, we didn't have much time to prep for classes. I also didn't want to sacrifice 3 weeks of work on my dissertation. So we will leave on the 20th and return to CU Land on the 29th or 30th. C has asked his mother to keep things low-key, and she has agreed, at least for now. What comes of the holiday still remains to be seen. We're driving (yes, we're insane), so I will have access to my own car, which will help keep me sane.
  • I have 15 pages complete on my third chapter, and if I can stay on track, I will be able to submit a complete draft to my adviser by the 15th of December.
  • C refuses to tell me what he wants for Christmas, as does everyone else in the family. I think this may be the year I buy everyone gift certificates.
  • Wild Man has his 2-year check up on Monday. He is 34" tall and weights 30 pounds and 12 ounces. He also acquired several freckles over the summer, which he keeps trying to scrub off in the bathtub.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wild Man in the snow

I've gotten a few requests for these, so I thought I'd post a few. Needless to say, Wild Man really enjoyed last week's snowstorm.

A sudden realization

At some point late last night, in the hazy joy that permeated our home, C and I watched Brian Williams interview Luke Russert, Tim Russert's son. The younger Russert has been reporting on the youth vote for NBC for several weeks now, and as C and I listened intently, I said "This is so awesome--people our age got motivated, got invovled, and made a difference." C looked over at me and said, "Um, M, I hate to tell you, but we're not part of the youth vote any more. We're now in the next category." Oh, yeah, that's right. I'm not in the 18-29 category any more. . . when did that happen?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Going to bed happy

C and I are now going to bed, very, very happy with the election results. I'm so proud to be an American at this moment.


What a night to have a migraine! Wild Man actually put me to bed at 7:30 (seriously, he lied down beside me in mine and C's bed and rubbed my head until we both fell asleep). I woke up about 20 minutes ago and had to get up to check the early returns. My migraine is better, but frankly, I'm still anxious. It seems like good news, but I don't want to count our chickens before they've hatched, as my grandmother would say.