Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Six Months

Isaiah is six months old today. Hooray!

To commemorate the occasion, let me tell you some things about the little bugger.

He's cute. OK, most babies are. Duh.
Let me be more specific. He's cute because:
• He has a smile as wide as my home state of Texas
• He has dimples
• He has a veneer of hair that is either light blond or light red, depending on the light
• He smiles and coos madly when I hold him up in the air
• He smiles, coos madly and stares intently at my mouth when I chant to him, "Ba, ba, ba, Ma, ma, ma, Da, da, da, La, la, la, HA, HA, HA! (This is my thoroughly unscientific way of helping him form his first words and to distinguish between words that sound alike and that require you to use your mouth differently. On the latter point, try it, and you'll see that you use different muscles in your mouth and your tongue differently with about every word.)
• He even smiled and cooed when he was beset by an ear infection, a cough and conjunctivitis in both eyes.
• He is a great counterbalance to his hyper kinetic brother, at least so far.
• He wiggles and waggles with delight every time he sees his brother.
• He slept the entire night last night, as if he knew it would be the best present he could give his mommy and daddy.

As if on cue with his birthday, the Japanese cherry tree started to bloom today. It's a beautiful sight, a riot of little cupped pink flowers spouting in all directions from our tree's haphazard branches. The bloom is confined to the upper branches so far, and I guess because the tree is on the north side of the house and the sun is still relatively low, the upper areas get the most sunlight. I wish I had been noting the first bloom of this tree since we got it five years ago. It would be an interesting, although wholly unscientific way, of knowing whether springtime blooms are occurring sooner as is the trend with climate change.

But that's a story for another day. The story for today is all about Isaiah. Six months, folks. Wow. Can't wait for the next six!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

First Planting

A whiff of spring blew in this weekend, and that means one thing: Time for planting.

It's our version of outdoors of spring cleaning. In our seven years in this house, we have ringed our premises with several flower gardens, a vegetable garden and two raised-beds vegetable gardens. Cleaning out all those plots and getting the soil ready for new flowers and food is a lot of work. Did I mention the compost pile? Yeah, that baby needs attention, too. There's good soil there, you know, and we turn it over with the new season to get that rich supplementary soil for the main vegetable garden.

Now that the calendar had turned to April, we could feel the tug of spring, the lure of being outdoors. So, on a cloudy, windy, chilly Saturday, Michelle and I were out there, laboring away, as the boys napped inside. Michelle cleared the leaf cover we had put in the circular garden around the lone tree we had left standing from the area that had been, for all intents and purposes, the neighborhood dumping ground. (An aside: As I dug in the compost pile, I found a metal circular saw piece and an old film reel. The surprises never end.) I turned the compost and wheeled over several barrows full of soil for the vegetable patch. I then borrowed a motorized rototiller from our neighbor, Bob. This contraption, Bob told me, is from his grandfather, and is at least 60 years old. It's rusty, yellow and cranky to start, but the 'ol geezer keeps on chuggin' along. And it did the job yet again this time.

Soil tilled, and time to sow a row. It's early in the season still, so the best bet for now is lettuce, and we opted for black Simpson, or something like that. There are so many varieties that I can't keep track what we like and what we don't. That's Michelle's domain, and thankfully she's good at it. I planted the black Simpson and hours later, the rains came.

Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Cough and a Crash

It has been an eventful week.

To start, I can't help but to harp on the sickness thing. No sooner had Isaiah passed through his first bout of illness that he contracted the croup (spelling?) and began barking like a wheezing hound. He sounded OK during the day; scattered dry coughs coupled with spasms of hacking. By evening, however, it would come full-on: near-constant storms of coughing. Within days, Isaiah was practically hoarse, emitting feeble cries amidst the coughing attacks. He sounded pathetic, and I'm sure he felt just as bad. He wasn't getting any sleep, and we weren't either. And come daytime, we had the lovable tempest that is Nathaniel. Combine the two, and the strain on everyone was intense. For perhaps the first time, I thought I would lose it. I had to mouth to myself to be patient, to refrain from overreacting, repeating it to myself over and over, because I was afraid that if I didn't keep that thought ever present, I might snap.

It was a weird feeling to be fighting so hard to control my emotions. I think I was that exhausted by it all.

By last weekend, it looked as if Isaiah was leaving his croup behind. That, coincided with the time that my mother and her friend, Gene, rolled into town. Things were really looking up: A nice family visit and the children were more or less healthy for the first time in months. The day after they arrived was a Sunday, and after a day of church, some gardening and playing in the house, we went to dinner at a great local seafood restaurant in our town's harbor. This little place serves up local catch, and it is terribly tasty stuff, served unpretentiously in a homey, friendly atmosphere. We had a wonderful time at dinner.

You may wonder why I'm telling you all this. Families go to quaint joints all the time for a meal. What gives here? Well, I'm just trying to set this all up a little.

As dinner was ending, Nathaniel was losing his mind, as what generally happens when he doesn't take a daytime nap. So, as we left the restaurant and headed for the car, I put Nathaniel down, so he could run a little. "Keep an eye on him, mom," I said, as the little bugger darted forward.

In retrospect, I had given my mother an impossible task. Here, go chase the 2 1/2 year old. Good luck. Ever game, Mom bolted after Nathaniel, afraid that he would run into the parking lot. She evidently reached for him, missed and fell. Hard. On her face. Hard. Knee struck pavement. Face struck pavement. Then hands struck pavement. Hard, hard, hard.

We all ran over to her. My mom was face down on the pavement, as if she were snacking on the pebbles. She looked up, and her face was streaked with blood. Blood on her nose, blood on her chin, and a lot of blood coming out of her mouth. One of her front teeth was dangling from her mouth, precariously so, like a frayed piece of rope. Her upper lip was gutted open as if she were a hooked fish. She was a mess.

Off to the emergency room we went. By the time we got there, the shock of the crash was starting to wear off, and the intense pain was setting in. Mom was moaning as we ushered her into the ER and she was falling asleep as the first nurse examined her. That was the telltale sign of a concussion, we were told. So, we wheeled my somnolent mother into the main area of the ER. After about 45 minutes or so, a physician assistant came in and examined Mom. Three front teeth were damaged, and something had to be done with the dangling, fourth one, he said. He injected some local anesthesia into the gumline and unceremoniously shoved the front tooth back in.

It was after midnight before we got the go-ahead to leave. After a stop for a cocktail of pain medications, I took Mom and Gene to the hotel and drove home. Poor Mom. What had promised to be a fun visit now became a trial of imprisonment in a hotel. I was so tired the next day I could scarcely function.

Fast forward a few days, and the 'ol Mom is on the mend. She still looks like hell, but at least she's no longer a sabertooth, and her nose is now rose colored, instead of a deep purple. Her lip is black with scar tissue. Yet her spirits were up, and we all went out to dinner. We even walked through the parking lot without incident.

This time, I held Nathaniel's hand.

A quick postscript: This is my 100th post. I guess I could call it a milestone, but considering two very long hiatuses that I took, my excitement is greatly tempered. I hope I get to 200 a lot quicker. There are so many stories to tell!