bentangle

Tag: my wife

Trek Into Darkness

by on May.19, 2013, under family, movies, parenthood

Being a fan of various shows and movies in the Star Trek franchise, especially it’s more recent phoenix-like rebirth, it would be an understatement to say I was eager to see the latest installment in J.J. Abrams treatment of the movie series. I attempted to rally the family around it (my wife and daughter were already on board, but my son seemed to need some persuasion), but when my son (probably wisely) proved too reluctant to endure the sound and fury of the theater despite how exciting the trailer looked. So my wife opted out to stay with Grasshopper while just Cricket and I made a go of it. While the movie left us with warm feelings of contentment, our post-movie conversation left me alone with a cold quiver down my spine.

As any parent can appreciate, drawing a detailed opinion out of a child (at least when it is wanted) is like drawing blood from a stone with ADD. So I’ve learned to ask more pointed questions than simple “What did you think of the movie?” Today’s Q&A went something like this:

Me: So which character did you like the best?
Her: Uhh…that’s hard to say…
Me: Okay, if you could be any character from the movie, who would you be?
Her: OH! I’d be Spock!
Me: Okay, how about if you could go out to dinner and spend time with any character from the movie, who would it be?
Her: You mean if none of the drama and stuff was happening?
Me: Yeah, just you and that person hanging out, no drama.
Her: Ooh – definitely the bad guy!
Me: Why the bad guy??
Her: I don’t know. I just like the idea of going out with the bad guy.

I had trouble coming up with any more questions after that.

My daughter has impressed me on numerous occasions with the characters that she has opted to adhere to in the media she watches. For instance last fall when we opted to go spend some of her allowance at the comic book store (her choice), she ended up deliberating at length between two POP! bobble-head hero toys. Her top choices were Nick Fury and Robin. She settled on Nick Fury and when I asked her afterward why those characters, it was because she saw them as leaders – Fury of the Avengers and Robin of the Young Justice team (based on watching the Young Justice cartoon that we until recently enjoyed watching on Cartoon Network). In this instance, it seemed no different with regard to the first question – she saw Spock as a logical and heroic character unafraid to take charge and act intelligently.

As for the second question, that one just felt too much like the kind of foreshadowing that I could easily have lived without. I love Cricket and enjoy that so far at her young age of 9 boy-related issues are limited to fleeting crushes. And I’ve told myself since she was a baby that I would try my best to be open and accepting of what teenagehood would one day bring. But there have already been touches of temperamental behavior that I can only assume will be exacerbated by puberty. So if there is also the possibility that she will also be a bad-boy chaser, I’m worried for my own resolve in the years to come.

Hopefully I’m reading too much into the statement and she just legitimately thought he would be the most interesting person to hang out with disregarding the potential evil streak. Perhaps like my wife she was captivated by his deep British voice that supposedly sounds like a jaguar trapped in a violin. Or maybe he seemed the safest bet as most of the rest of the characters had quite a handful of scrapes with death in the course of the movie – him comparatively the least often. Or perhaps I should just read less into the whimsical commentary of a 9-year-old and just continue to nurture the right skills and judgment in her until such fears either come to inevitable fruition or fizzle out as a vestige of an unrealized time-line.

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Fido Fear Factor

by on Sep.10, 2012, under family, home & stuff

I am not a dog person.  I’ve never been one and I don’t know that I’ll ever truly change in that respect.  I have always been very independent in nature and as such I don’t jive well with dependencies.  I don’t consider my wife an exception as she is a very independent spirit as well, so we mesh well.  I’ve made the exception with my kids (because ya do) but only so far as I’ll allow them to be dependent – I provide for them as a father does, but I expect them to become well-rounded and independent souls as well (in time).

But I’m not a dog person – I’m more of a cat person.  Cats tend to be more of a roommate than a dependent companion – they expect to be fed and occasionally pet if you have the time, but otherwise they can manage themselves.

By this point, you are probably wondering where this is all going.  Here it is – in spite of my nature, I’m considering getting a dog.  And I’m considering this for none of the reasons that one in my position would do so.  My dad was never really a dog person either, but he let us have dogs as kids because we asked for them.  My kids are not asking for a dog.  I’m not even entirely sure my kids (or my house for that matter) is ready for one.  My wife had dogs as a kid as well, but she isn’t really much of a dog person either.  So it isn’t her that is the motivating factor either – if anything she will see this and try to talk me out of it.

Here is the reason – my nearly 6-year-old son is terrified of dogs.  No, this is by no means an attempt to terrorize my child, but rather a potential means to abate these fears.  Not long ago, my son was a nearly fearless toddler.  And somehow he has transformed into this very fearful kindergartner – he is afraid of dogs, storms, the dark, water deeper than his waist without an immediate exit strategy, movie theaters, and anything that makes scary or foreboding noises, music or sound effects.  Most of these are avoidable elements (to a degree), but the dog fear has been recently having palpable impact on things such as play dates, visits to extended family, and even activities such as walking to school or playing at a park.

Is getting a dog simply to help my son overcome his fear of dogs perhaps overzealous?  I’ll admit the possibility.  I’ll even admit that I’m reluctant to enact it, that my wife will likely disagree with it, and that to do so would guarantee that I would be put in charge of its care (thus accepting yet another dependency).  But part of me feels that it may be a sacrifice worth making for the improvement of my son’s own independence and well-being in the long run.

So while I’m not a dog person, I may soon force myself to be one…at least for the greater good.

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Date Night

by on Mar.06, 2011, under family

Once again, my wife and I had one of our seldom attainable nights out (see the following for our last such encounter).  Once again, a coupon was the catalyst to our taking action – this time in the form of a half-off certificate from TravelZoo.com for a fancy 5-course meal at a fancy French restaurant in the city.  And once again, it was nice to have a night where our children were a background concern at most – where we could have an adult conversation with each other without constant interruptions.

The date night came on the heels of a busy week where my in-laws (our would-be sitters for this event) were out of town and thus we had at least partial sitting duty throughout the week for our 9-year-old nephew (that topic can be a post all to itself, but I’ll leave it alone for now).  As a thank you for our services, they offered us an opportunity to enjoy a kid-free night – even insisting on having them overnight so we wouldn’t have to operate on a curfew.  We dropped the kids off at  4 and headed back home to doll ourselves up (I in my one nice shirt and slacks that I break out once or twice a year for holiday parties, weddings, and/or funerals) and then head downtown.

The restaurant we went to was called Bistro St. Tropez and is right on Market St. in Philadelphia (not far from 30th St. Station).  The place had a very nice atmosphere with avant-garde corrugated metal walls, dim lighting, and large  picture windows displaying the spread of the city (albeit topped off with a neon-lit sign declaring the place’s name complete with a blinking, purple palm tree).  The seating was a little cozy (it felt a bit like we were having dinner WITH our neighbors to either side), but otherwise the ambiance was pleasant.  We enjoyed their prix fixe, 5-course dinner (I encouraged my wife to enjoy the wine pairing, but she opted out), and when I say enjoyed, the food was very good.  I can’t say that  I’d rush back there anytime soon to pay full price for their food, but if another similar deal came up at a time when their menu has shifted, I might consider it.

After dinner, we decided to try and catch a movie.  So we headed to a theater about halfway back home, gave a call to the in-laws to say good night to the kids, and caught an evening showing of The Adjustment Bureau.  The movie was enjoyable and I may do a separate post reviewing it.  What I will say is that it was amusing to hear the couple behind us who seemed like they might be there on a date – the guy kept ripping off lines from the movie in order to sound romantic – to give an example, I’d imagine that if we were watching Jerry MacGuire, he would have turned to his date after the deaf-people-in-the-elevator scene and said, “YOU complete me.”

After the movie we headed home and enjoyed the silence and the freedom to go to bed without having to tuck anyone in.  And this morning we continued our brief adventure in couple-dom by sleeping in and then casually going out to breakfast at the local Bagelworks.  Then we finally concede to our parenthood duties by going to pick the kids up and bring them home.

It was good to remember what life was kind of like before we had children.  Mind you we both love our kids and we both find ways to get breaks from them when we can, but what seems to be elusive is having such break time together as a couple.  I’m thinking we should probably do this more than once every 2 years.

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Happy Holidays!

by on Dec.27, 2010, under family, health, home & stuff, money, technology

Clearly I need to improve upon my time management – the fact that I’m writing a Christmas-related post 2 days after the holiday notwithstanding, it has been over 6 weeks since my last post.  I know this without checking because my last post was about my kidney stone removal and I had my 6-week follow-up appointment last week.  I’m fully aware of the negative impact this inconsistency may have on what little audience this site has, and I’ll have to live with it.  This blog is more of a personal journal or online diary than any pertinent subject-matter forum.  And I’m happy with it being so, readers or not.  But for those readers still interested, here is how my holiday season has been panning out.

To be honest, the sprint to Christmas has been mostly a blur with a few incidents of note spattered among a long grind of work and preparations (with any gaps remaining filled with sigh-filled collapsing on the couch/bed/floor).  Since I mentioned my kidney stone, I guess I should touch on it.  After readjusting to not having any foreign objects within or protruding from my body, things have been pretty smooth.  I haven’t had pain in my back since the week after all was removed.  I did my follow-up tests of getting another x-ray and collecting my pee in a jug for a day, and the result seems to be that while there is no longer a big bad stag-horn lurking in my gut, there are numerous tiny candidates waiting in the wings if I don’t make some adjustments.  Luckily for me those adjustments are small and non-dietary in nature – I just need to drink more fluids and take a few supplements (my citrate and magnesium levels are apparently low).  So I have another 6 weeks to follow those instructions before redoing the pee test, getting another x-ray, and taking another hour-long drive to see where things stand (if this becomes an on-going thing, I may need to move).  Unfortunately even these small accommodations have proven to be difficult as my pharmacy has been unable to fill one of my prescriptions for over a week.  Supposedly they should be able to work things out today with my doctor – we’ll see.

Speaking of health matters, my wife has since been on her own medical roller coaster – specifically of the dental variety.  After having numerous visits with a dentist who arguably seemed to be doing a variety of unnecessary procedures in her mouth, she ended up needing extensive work done in her mouth – specifically a few root canals, some new crowns, and at least one possible extraction.  And it seems that despite going back to this guy 4 or 5 times in 2 weeks due to increasing amounts of pain, he seemed to miss the fact that she had multiple abscesses around some of the teeth he had been treating (diagnosed by an endodontist not 2 hours after leaving his office with a diagnosis of ‘I don’t see anything that would be causing such pain’).  After a couple weeks of antibiotics, more methodical work on her problem teeth by the endodontist and a more trustworthy dentist, she is gradually getting to a better state (no thanks to our crappy dental coverage – any work from here to May will be out-of-pocket).

As for the holidays, we seem to have been spoiled both by ourselves and others.  For one, my mother has been especially generous this year (I’m guessing only having one house to pay for has left my parents in a more financially solvent position) – she bought us an early Christmas present (and by early I mean when she visited in October) of a 88-key, fully-weighted electronic keyboard.  With that I expected little else from my parents, but then when my mom came to visit again this month, not only did she have a suitcase full of gifts for all, but on an outing intended for me to finish our shopping agenda she buys us an area rug for our living room.  All I can say is thank you and hope that at some point we’ll have the opportunity to return the favor somehow.

While she is visiting, we get side-swiped by a visit by a long-time family friend (hence the last-minute shopping trip previously noted) who also seems to have found his pockets deep and his funds semi-combustible.  While I know we got him and his sister and niece some decent gifts that they will enjoy, I know that dollar for dollar we ended up and the favorable end of things.  But it isn’t really a contest, and if it were I’d settle for losing because I’ve got bigger bills to pay – literally.

Speaking of which, we somewhat spoiled the kids this year (though surprisingly frugally).  Each of them got 6 big presents and stockings stuffed to the brim – all toys and games that were hot on their wishlists – and all for easily less than $100 a piece.  My wife and I had considerably less spoils under the tree (by design), each with only 2 gifts and modestly filled stockings.  And while the $700 new laptop she got trumps the $50 worth of stuff I ended up with, I ended up with just what I wanted and cannot complain in the least.  Besides, I also now get the gift of not hearing any more complaining about computer problems (at least for a while) – and that is a gift that keeps on giving.

My only complaint that I can offer regarding this holiday season (which I feel is a legitimate complaint, albeit to whom I cannot say) is spending most of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day bowing to the porcelain gods.  I don’t know if it was something I ate or a bug that had been going around, but for about 24 hours – with exception to about an hour where I was able to keep it together enough to watch the kids open gifts – I was in no position to be jolly.  After making it through the kids unwrapping things (which was I believe all complete before 9AM), I spent most of the rest of the day in bed occasionally interrupted by kids fighting over their new toys and games.

But now the holiday is behind us, our living room has mostly recovered from the carnage, and our children are gradually coming down from their candy cane-induced sugar high to resume semi-normal behavior (though now it seems being pent up due to snow is re-contributing to their vigor – luckily they have plenty to entertain them).  And tomorrow I’ll return to the slightly less sophomoric environment of the office and back into the swing of all the things that keep me from finding the time to do things like write on my blog.  I’ve considered using my commuting time to dictate posts, but I fear they would end up even more tangential than usual and much more heavily riddled with expletives.

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My Battle with a 3-Point Stag (Part 2): My Temporary Affair with Percocet

by on Nov.14, 2010, under health

For those who actually made it through the first part of this story, I both apologize for the longevity of this story and thank you for your endurance.  For those who checked out already, I have no apologies for you.  Go find something else to view on the internet until I write about something else (it’s my blog, I can write about whatever I want on it).  Anyway, without further ado, here is my week of recovery:

DAY 3:  My doctor had sent me home with prescriptions for Percocet (for pain) and Cipro (to prevent infection).  I was allowed to take between 4 and 8 pain relievers a day as needed, though even in the first day back I don’t think I exceeded 4.  I did find that the pain relievers were necessary as nothing felt very good around hour 6, but one every 6 hours kept me on track pretty well.  My wife did what she could to keep me comfy and the children at bay – even went so far as to pawn them off on my mother-in-law for the afternoon.  But truth be told the afternoon without them was kind of boring.

DAY 4:  This morning proved complex as once again the kids needed to be places around the same time that I needed to be about a half-hour away (the one downside of shopping for a better urologist in a better hospital).  If I could drive myself I probably would have, but once again we ended up in morning traffic and once again my wife had that aura of spontaneous combustion.  Ironically the office had no idea I was coming in, so I had to wait a bit before the doctor could come pull the centimeter wide tube from my back.  If I had brought my Percocet with me, I would have popped another as soon as I could because the spot where the tube was burned like hell for about 15 minutes afterward.  But by the time we made it home, not only did it feel better, I was in significantly less pain in general from that point forward (and no more bag strapped to my leg to drain every few hours).  Tonight, I retired to my own bed again.

DAY 5 – 7:  I’m lumping these days together because there was honestly little to report.  I spent most of the time either watching TV or playing board games with Grasshopper (he is off from pre-school Tuesdays & Thursdays and had an in-service day on Wednesday).  It was a pretty nice few days, though.  He loved the attention and I was happy to spend some one-on-one time with him that didn’t involve being tackled – there were a few close calls, but he was pretty good about it most of the time.

DAY 8:  This is the day that I finally would become free of all foreign objects – I came out of surgery with a tube sticking out of my back, a catheter (you know where), an IV line in my hand, and a stent running from my kidney to my bladder.  I left the hospital with 2 items removed and had the third item removed on Monday.  So only the stent remained.  I had the sobering discussion with my dad the night before about how they remove that now that the tube is gone.  My doctor told me the week before that it would only take about 30 seconds, but that they would be the scariest 30 seconds of my life.  It was not an understatement.  It was toe-curling.  I won’t go into great detail, but there was numbing gel, a scope and a water pump involved.  In the end I was somewhat shocked to see that the stent itself was only about 2 millimeters in diameter.  After about 20 minutes of physical recovery, I was able to sit and eat lunch without feeling like I was going to hurl.  On a positive note, I was able to kick my prescription pain meds and as a result my house arrest.

DAY 9 – 10:  These are the last days of freedom before I go back to my 9 to 5.  My wife has been making up for her week of caretaking by sequestering herself upstairs to do all the writing work she has fallen behind on.  So it is pretty much me and the kids.  I am doing my best to keep them entertained (much of the time on their own with me just mediating fights).  As a result, I have needed to resort to other drugs such as coffee and ibuprofen to maintain my sanity.  I’m sure the Percocet would be more effective, but that would tie me back to not leaving the house (which I cannot abide).

In the end, the surgery itself was hasher than I expected and the follow-up procedures sucked, but my recovery was much more comfortable than I anticipated.  Hopefully if I ever have to repeat the experience, it will be a long, long time from now (35 more years seems a logical expectation).  In the meantime, this journey is not completely over.  I have a follow-up in 6 weeks to review x-rays I have to get and the results of a 24-hour urinalysis I have to send out (I would never have guessed there were pee-by-mail services).  I’m sure the follow-up will come with a list of dietary recommendations that I will have to consider (though a lot of what I’ve read seems to suggest specific foods only play a small part in the puzzle).  I doubt I’ll be put on any on-going medications, but my dad will probably continue to try to talk me into taking celery and cherry extract pills (they seem to work wonders for his gout).  The only sure thing is that I will soon be generally back into my normal routine (which naturally involves some level of chaos).

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