Thursday, May 22, 2003

"You're pretty cool, Beavis."

Dale: My wife found a butt-shaped pear (no, really) at Meijer's last week. It went into my lunch today, and she was delighted about it.

I think she's trying to tell me something. It's that, or my sense of humor has at long last rubbed off on her. Either way, not a good sign.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I rewatched the season finale of ER this afternoon. Some of you readers don't have TV's let alone watch ER, so I'll sum it up. Dr. John Carter goes to Africa as a volunteer through an organization similar to Medecins Sans Frontières. He then deals with things like kids infected with polio, pertussis, and a host of other preventable maladies. One young boy is going to die of whooping cough because they don't have erythromycin--$10 worth. Dr. Carter, regular watchers of ER know, comes from a rich family. RICH. As in, didn't want him to be a doctor because it meant he couldn't be on call to dispense the family fortune. I watched it with my son in my arms.
On a somewhat related issue, Dale and I are doing a personal analysis of our financial situation. We want to be in a bigger house, I want to stay at home next year (possibly permanently). We aren't sure we can afford for me to stay home and buy a house with more space.
I get tied in knots thinking about what next year will be like if I'm back at school: up at 5:30 to get both kids and myself ready (yes, Dale will help) and out the door; giving up half my conference hour to pump again because we don't want the expense of formula; coming home with both kids, diaper bag, pump, and bag from work; pump again; check the mail and machine; let the dog out; start dinner; eat dinner; wash dishes; wash kids; freeze what I've pumped; wash pump equipment... I get exhausted just thinking about it.
Dale beats himself up feeling like he's not providing for his family. I don't think I need to elaborate much on that; it's a pretty profound statement all by itself.
How are these things related, you ask? What does a TV show have to do with our situation? LOTS.
We have two beautiful healthy children. How many people are there with none and instead have an ache in their heart?
We live in a country with excellent health care, where our children get immunized on schedule and will grow up free of worries of polio, diptheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough, German measles... Even chicken pox, which I caught when I was 17.
We have a home we can call our own, with working windows and furnace. The roof doesn't leak, the toilet flushes, and the floor is complete and even quite attractive in parts (the kitchen linoleum is stained, but that's what you get with white kitchen flooring, frankly). How many families in the world lack one or more of these?
I tell myself God will provide, the right answer will come. Does it mean staying in this house longer? Going back to work next year? Taking one year off and then returning? Dale finding a better-paying job?
The show reminded me to count the tremendous blessings we have, and suddenly I'm not feeling quite so sorry for myself.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003


This is so true:

You're smart, you're thin, you're pretty, and
dammit, people love you. You are destined for
great, great things, little Princetonian. Let
there be a never-ending stream of Country-Club-
Like institutions in your unmarred future.

Which Ivy League University is right for YOU?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Slightly scary.


Little Dale has been having an increasing number of crying fits lately. They have been occurring at various times of the day (with the blessed exception of nighttime), and almost always last 10 minutes plus.

Nothing works except time. We've tried gas relief drops, feeding him, adjusting his position, putting him in the swing/bouncy seat/crib/etc., but none of these really have done much. Yesterday, the cycle got shorter, and fearing something awful was happening, we took him to the hospital around 8pm. I managed to contact Heather's mom, who was visiting a friend not a mile away. She hurried over to watch Maddie and we sped off.

We were admitted right away at the ER, where they checked him out thoroughly. Diagnosis?


Heather thought that colic didn't come around after children passed the two month mark. The doctor, in a misguided effort to reassure us, said that his daughter had gotten it at age 4 months, and snapped out of it at 8 months. The nurse offered an interesting suggestion: his infant daughter was cured of it by laying her on her stomach on a blanket atop an operating dryer: "Calmed her down and put her to sleep inside of 10 minutes."

Colic was not what we wanted to hear. Still, it beat an ear infection or something much worse. We also had the chance to see how big the big fella's gotten. Verdict? 17 pounds, 13 ounces. A week shy of his third month, and he's nearly 18 pounds. NFL, here he comes.

He slept on the way back. Maddie was asleep, and had given "geempa" no problems. Heather transferred D3 directly to the crib, where he managed to sleep for most of the night. Heather and I spent the rest of the evening counting our blessings.
No. 1 Sign Your Child Is Watching Too Much "SpongeBob."


She can identify the minor characters by name. Yesterday morning, as Nick was running its hour of SBSP, she exclaimed "Barra Boy!" That would be "Barnacle Boy," sidekick to "Mermaidman."

OTOH, it appears her infatuation with SBSP is dwindling slightly. "Dora the Explorer" holds her attention for much longer now. We have running dialogues where she says "Dora" in immediate response to me identifying other characters from the show:

Maddie: "Dora."
Me: "Backpack."

When I throw the change-up and say "Dora," she always responds "Backpack."

"Oh, maaan!"

Friday, May 16, 2003

Every night, on his way to bed himself, my dad would come in each of us kids' rooms and give us a good-night kiss. I rarely woke for this, but I know it happened. Even when my sister moved her room downstairs he would shuffle through the darkened basement for that gesture of parental affection.
I've tried to perpetuate that tradition. Our two children share the other bedroom in our undersized house--a fact that makes it a little easier. After I've brushed my teeth and changed into pajamas, I pad in as quietly as I can. It's tough to get to him in his crib, so as often as not I just kiss my fingers and then touch him. A fair share of the time too I sit down and just listen to them breathe. Unless you are a parent, you can't understand.
Moments like that, the 10' by 10' bedroom seems a church to me. Their quiet sleeping sounds are like the whispers of angels. I know there's a crib and toddler bed instead of a tabernacle; the wallhangings are cartoonish instead of classical. The only "pew" is a glider rocker and matching ottoman. The altar is replaced by a combination changing table/dresser. Instead of a censer, we have diaper pails. But the sense of peace, the evidence of God's work on earth, is more apparent at those moments than any other time. I can feel their guardian angels resting with them and welcoming me on my nocturnal visit.
It takes my breath away to think God has trusted us with these two treasures.

Monday, May 12, 2003

An Excerpt from The Journals of Dale R. Price III.

From Volume I: The Diaper Years.

Day 77:

Well, I'm beginning to get my feet under me--metaphorically speaking. Realistically, I can't see my feet, much less put them under me. But more about that later. This will be a lengthy entry, because I'm finally beginning to form an assessment of my surroundings.

I'm beginning to understand how things work around here, in what is called "the Price household." There are three individuals I deal with on a regular basis. I will deal with them in order of preference and/or competence.

1. The first is the caregiver called "Mama" or "Mommy." She has an odd sense of humor, but around here that seems to be par for the course. I have to admit I really like her--she's very attentive and seems to be a thoroughly competent individual. She nurses me and changes me quite regularly, and lets me nap on her frequently. Lord knows I love my naps. She also sings me to sleep at night, which is nice. She doesn't have a future in the opera, but it's still much appreciated from my end. With her, I only have two complaints.

First, what does the woman eat? From the ample fat rolls on my enormous thighs (I can see them over my dunlop gut, for pete's sake!), I have to imagine she steps out for a suet ball while I'm asleep. Or drinks a can of warm Crisco through a straw. Whatever it is, it's not sticking to her--it's going straight to me! Merciful heaven, I have no neck: My oversized head floats on a ring of fat anchored to my shoulders!

I think I have feet. The people around here keep mentioning them. But I haven't had any visual proof of them since around Day 14.

My second problem with her is the aforementioned weird sense of humor, which manifests itself in various nicknames based on my girth. "Hello, pudge!" "Hello, 'thunder thighs!'" Yes, yes, I'm fat and have a large curd cottage cheese butt. Delightful! Like it's my fault. Lately, however, she seems to have made an effort to call me "baby Dale," which is an improvement. And she's much better than the nickname machine that is Caregiver Number

2. "Dad" or "daddy" seem to be his two titles of note. First, the good: he is marginally competent. He's decent with the diapers and baths, but he is an absolute master of coaxing the deeply-seated, painful belch out of me. I really appreciate it, but he seems to take an unseemly delight in my louder belches, giving what can only be described as war whoops in response. Well, whatever works I guess. He also seems to like me, in part because I'm apparently named after his father. Interesting.

Now, the bad. As a feeder: He. Is. Use. Less. At most, he can distract me for a minute or so by swooping me through the air until I get cross-eyed and he hands me to Mama (and then he wonders why I spit up). Recently, I have been subject to a bizarre series of experiments whereby he attempts to feed me by way of a strange rubber hose. I despise it, and invariably let him know in no uncertain terms. The contents taste familiar, but the hose seems rigged to ensure that I either get too much or too little. The good news is that he doesn't press the issue too much, and stops using the device after a few minutes. The bad news is that the experiment seems to be continuing.

Oh, joy! Go back to swooping me through the air. We'll both be happier.

What's even worse are his nicknames for me. I have a name. Three, to be exact. And none of them are "Tons-a-fun," "Large 'N' In Charge," "Michelin Man," "Chunky Monkey," "El Grande," and the most recent, "Il Baldo." This last one cleverly comments about my lack of hair. However, he recently started to note my obvious hair growth in admiring terms. He also followed it up with a mumbled "Don't get too attached to it." I will have to investigate this cryptic comment at a later date.

He's very much a mixed bag, this "daddy" fellow. However, he did get me a new toy today from the attic: it's called a "swing," and I have to admit, he put it together quickly. It's quite nice, and I enjoyed it immensely. Except for the interference of the Creature I simply call Number

3. This diminutive being is called by the first two, "Maddie." Evidently, she is my "sister." Apparently, a "sister" is an unusually peppy dwarf who is also an expert in violating personal space and inflicting psychological torture. Whenever I hear the rapid slap of her feet on the floor, I can soon expect her deranged smiling face about a half inch from one of my eyes, and a hoot of "bay-bee." Or "dude." That's another one of "daddy's" nicknames, no longer used by him, but popular with the dwarf. She usually follows up her greeting with a klutzy try at a hug.

She is self-evidently a disturbed (if horribly energetic) little person, and her efforts to communicate are impaired by her crippling speech impediment. Granted, I can't speak well, but then again, I have the sense not to try right now. Despite our inability to see eye to eye on anything, I think underneath that hyper exterior she actually means well. Sometimes she has actually hugged me with something approaching gentleness, and she quickly informs the other two when I am upset with a shouted "Baby cry!" Plus, I generally seem to make her smile a lot. This leads me to think that, with an appropriate regimen of therapy and medication, we may be able to get along one day. But she has to stop banging her fists together an inch in front of my nose first.

Well, that's pretty much all for now. The sister is asleep in her toddler bed, and, after my bath and nightly feeding, I'm feeling more and more drowsy myself. But I think I'm beginning to like it here. I actually caught myself smiling as Mama tickled "my little fat rolls" today, and grinning as daddy walked by. Not too bad at all.

Until next time,


Maddie, the "Grip 'n' Grin," Counting, etc.

Dale: Despite her baptism, Madeleine has not acquired a full appreciation of all aspects of the Mass. Over the past two months, I have spent plenty of time out in our church's foyer (the de facto cry room) while she stomps about. I have to generally escort her out 1 or 2 times per Mass. She simply wants to run around the church in fifth gear, looking at the flowers, saying "mama" and "baby" to our statue of the Virgin crading a toddler Jesus, saying "Dzees-is" to our statue of the Risen Lord, and generally making noise.

A lot of noise.

Heather doesn't have this joy--yet--because she has to watch D3, who always wakes up hungry.

However, Maddie does like one aspect of Mass, as we discovered over the last two weeks. Two Sundays, during the Sign of Peace, she stuck out her hand and said "Peazoo."

Startled, Heather looked at me and asked "When did she learn that?"

"Um, now," I replied, just as startled. She then began "peazooing" everyone nearby, including the incredibly patient and wonderful elderly couple we sit next to every Sunday. They were delighted.

Since, Madeleine has done this outside the liturgy, walking up to Heather and me at random intervals (but usually at dinner), extending her hand and saying "Peazoo!" She's even said it to her fork. You haven't lived until you've heard "Peazoo, foak."

But she did it again this week at the Mass again, this time extending it to the head of her fan club, the 8 year old daughter of another young couple in the church. After the Mass was ended, you'd have thought Elvis had arrived.

Maddie's development continues at a frightening rate. As I measured tablespoons of coffee into the machine last Wednesday, I counted them out as she sat in my right arm. "One," "two," "three," I mumbled for her benefit.

She then cut in: "Foah," "fi," "sizz," but stumbled at "seven," repeating "sizz" again (yes, I drink plenty of coffee). I asked Heather if she was trying to teach Maddie to count.


Scary. Very cool, but scary. She's growing up fast.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Attempting to update Das Blog.

Dale: I'm cleaning up the links, adding a couple (no deletions) and shortening the descriptors. In addition, I'm trying to add comment software (Klink Family). It's an extra "gift" for Mother's Day for Heather (hey, it was her idea!), too.

So far, no good. Plus, it seems to be changing the "read" of the template in a way I don't care for. Anyway, I'll keep trying. Bear with me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Heather: Wow, three entries in two days! Overwhelming! Can you guess how the kids have been sleeping? Last night he was down around 9, and we didn't hear a peep from him until 4:45. Then he just wanted to nurse for about 10 minutes and I was back in bed. Maddie, however, came in to join us around 1:15. She then slept until 7:30 or so, though.

Today she spent at her aunt's, visiting the girls. It gives me some bonding time with just Dale III and a sort-of break with one non-mobile child to care for, and her the social outlet she got quite used to before her brother was born. Last week when I picked her up, the other girls (they're all girls, despite how my sister-in-law tries to welcome boys) circled me and the car seat like something out of Children of the Corn. Maddie, the youngest, elbowed her way to the front and started pushing them away--even her beloved cousin, Megan. "Way, guhs," she said several times. Apparently they were too close to the baby.
Today, the first touching moment happened after we got home. I popped him in his bouncy seat, got her that necessary sippy of milk, and began the dinner ritual--assembling ingredients and tools, cleaning off the table, etc. I looked over to check on the kids and they were fine. They were wonderful, in fact. He was contemplating the pattern on the couch upholstery three feet or so in front of him, and she was standing behind him nursing her milk. Her right arm was resting on the back of his chair, and she was alternately stroking and patting his head. Gently and lovingly. I pointed it out to my mom, who agreed. I think she likes him.

Another incident to tug your heartstrings happened later. I was in their room getting them to sleep. She was on her toddler bed, he in my arms crying. He's taken to having "evening fussies," which is what we called them when she had them. It's not bad enough to be called colic, but it still is no fun. What am I doing? Holding him, talking quietly in his ear, rocking him, trying to burp or feed him by turns. (The Mylicon finally worked.) What was my precious daughter doing? The same things to her little bear: holding it, rocking it, talking quietly to it.

If there be another more powerful demonstration of leading by example, I've yet to experience it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Heather: Dale's got a blog about our daughter and the Church--at least this past Sunday morning--percolating. He wants to give it the composition time it deserves, but I'm telling you to watch this space.
A reminder of how he feels about his little girl: He went out Sunday afternoon to get knockaround shoes for himself, while both kids were asleep. That way my job is easier, though I'm home with both of 'em all day during the week. Hey, he was trying to give me a break.
What did he come back with? A mix-and-match set of pajamas (two tops, two bottoms) and a fuschia romper for Madeleine, size 3T. Shoes for himself? Nothing he liked in his size, he said dismissively. These were on sale, not too big, she'll be able to wear the pj's into winter because they're full leg... He even left the outfit that originally caught his eye in the store because the overalls didn't have easy access to the diaper.
Have I said lately how much I love him?

Sagging Floors, Massive Infants--Is There a Connection?

Dale: It's been approximately forever since I've blogged here. Sorry 'bout that. Been busy.

First, there's the house, which is threatening to cost me more money. The first problem was electrical. When we bought Stately Price Manor, the seller filled out a disclosure statement indicating that the electrical system was A-OK.


Didn't meet that little thing called the city code. Had to have several things fixed, or get fined. Lovely! We summoned four electricians to our house, one of whom was a member of our parish. Care to guess who gave us what I will charitably describe as a misrepresentation as to what the city inspectors required? That's right--our brother in Christ tried to convince us that we needed 14 things fixed under the code, not the six on the list. The inspector was puzzled by Brother Electrician's list, and said no, just fix the six things cited on the letter.

What's the word I'm looking for? Words? Scatological combos?

If you need electrical work done in northeast Metro Detroit, please e-mail me so I can tell you who to avoid like he's an STD. We got an estimate from one of my late father-in-law's old customers, which came in at about 40% of Brother Electrician's--a savings of $700. It was done in a day. The next day, the City inspector gave the work his benediction, and we're set.

We learned an interesting fact about Stately Price Manor as the electricians were working on the list--our house is cinder block. Surprised us, because it's clad with vinyl siding. I have to admit I like the idea, though. All the attractiveness of vinyl, all the element-defying power of concrete.

Next I have to beat the money I spent on code compliance out of the seller. Small claims court, here we come.

Next house item: Appears we have a sagging floor. I'd love to assign the blame to the Crown Prince, who now weighs 16 lbs, 6 oz., and looks like the Michelin Man without the muscle tone. But I began to notice the problem beforehand, which nixes that. Twice I crawled into the crawl space, but couldn't see anything obviously wrong, which was a relief. Once again, A Trained Professional was summoned to Stately Price Manor, and said the problem appeared to be settling footings. Happens all the time, he said, and ours wasn't an extreme case.

There are two solutions: the $100 solution, which involves jacking up the house, and putting steel spacing plates on the offending footing(s). However, this does nothing to solve the settling problem, and merely buys you a couple years or so before the problem recurs. The other is the One Large solution, and requires pouring new footings in our "constricted" crawl space. However, it is much more permanent. I liked carpentry guy immediately, largely because he didn't just give us the expensive version. I'm still mulling which option to take. If you have any experience with this, or suggestions, drop us a line.

Finally, our furnace went out about a month ago. I had just changed out the furnace filters, and had to leave. It never kicked back on. I came home, and it was getting very cold (it was still dropping into the 30s at night late last week--Michigan!). Calling a furnace guy on a Saturday night is expensive. How expensive? I'd have gotten a better deal from the Gambino crime family. I was over a barrel, and summoned the repairman. I have two young children who are not getting cold. Period.

Another honest guy! It was an idiot fix--literally flipping a tripped cutoff switch. Appropriate, because it was an idiot who tripped it--the guy who wrote what you're reading right now. The repairman had mercy, and knocked a big chunk off the bill.

Since then, nothing serious of late has needed fixing here at the Manor.

But I'm sure the house is working on that as you read this.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?