November 2007

Twelve Turkeys

In the chaos of the past two months, we had completely dropped the ball with Will’s 4th birthday planning. Actually, maybe that is not quite fair… we had been thinking about it and researching/discussing options, but not made any choices. We knew that any party had to offer decent bouts of physical activity. Ideally, it needed to include Kate. Because we didn’t want to be limiting in our invites, we wanted it to be flexible and open enough that the kids from the school could attend. We also wanted to limit the amount of work we had to do to a minimum — in the party planning, party hosting, and kid-watching departments. The weather is typically beautiful in November, but can turn on a dime… is it safe to plan an outdoor party, we asked? Do we want to rent a big inflatable and put it in the park? (We nixed this for the logistic, kid-watching, ease of event issues.) Maybe at a local gym? We’ve been to one of these and it was great — although it is sort of limited to a set number of kids. (We nixed this for time — too close to the date — and my inability to commit.)

Finally, we decided on Gymrompers. We attended a great 3-year old party there last year and it is a great place for a party… but maybe best for 2s and 3s? I am having a hard time with feeling like a bad Mom (are we choosing a place better for Kate than for Will?) but am hopeful it will be fine. Our worry is that Will (joined by older classmates) may descend into The Crazies and be too much for an indoor space (although it is a big indoor space.) Paul noted that this could be the case anywhere, so we shouldn’t sweat it. I think that I will feel guilty and second-guess myself no matter what I do.

Gymrompers was booked solid for weeks — but suggested the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. This sold us: family in town, folks wanting something to do, and two days after Will’s actual birthday. So, we finally have a date, time, and place.

Thank goodness I remembered the invitations. Without Paul’s reminder last night, they may not have gotten made!

Will made some fantastic TURKEYS — of the hand cut-out variety. On the back of each is the party information. He took great pride in decorating each individually.

For example, this one is happy (note smiley face) and has a tail. (Or is laying an egg, depending on your interpretation.)
This one is happy, has a nose, and one foot.

This one is sad (note frown), has three legs, two tails, and ten eyes (“his name is ‘Ten Eye.'”)This one is both happy AND sad (note smiley and frown), has a belly button, and one very big foot.
This one is also happy and sad (although the frown does look a bit like a nose) and Will tried to write the name of his friend “JAMIE” on it. Will prefers to write backwards, which is why he wrote the letters he remembered (JME) from right to left.
Here he is, hard at work with Nana. He did a GREAT job making his invitations!


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Drugs Good.

Paul is home and pretty chipper, all things considered. He has a two-week reprieve of all strenuous activities, which means the gutting of the back of the house we’d been planning for weeks is out of the question. So is the continued gutting and construction we’d been planning over Thanksgiving… and during the three days vacation Paul had planned to take around the holiday. Plans? What plans? Apparently they are very overrated.

But he’s okay and that is what matters. It matters so much that it is even important enough for us to delay having a bathtub… and really, there is not much out there more important than this.

I finished and submitted the fellowship application. I owe special thanks to my friend in CA – the Sartre to my deBeauvoir – who came through at the last minute to help read when I couldn’t anymore. Won’t know of anything for 6 months, but it’s done. Maybe 2008 will be a better year?


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He’s improving, but got stumped when asked for a witty title for this post

Paul is in one piece, minus an appendix. He went in sometime after 5am and was in recovery by 7:30 and in the room around 9am. Although the surgery went well, he had some post-operative complications with fever and trouble oxygenating. So, he may not go home today.

Right now, he is mostly comfortable, off oxygen, making jokes, and swollen from fluids. I am enjoying the room’s reclining chair and great internet to finish my fellowship application due tomorrow (does the universe try to time these things all together on purpose?) Although he has asked, I’ve refused him access to the computer until he is well enough to proof-read my essays (which means he’ll not be online for awhile). Paul’s Mom arrived this morning (pre-planned trip) and is here in the room, too. The kids are good and at school; we’ll bring them to see Daddy later today.

He loves the well-wishes so please feel free to send ’em on!


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Paul Update

Paul is in the hospital awaiting surgery for appendicitis. He is temporarily happy on meds and will be happier when the offending organ is out. Keep thoughts positive for him and will update soon.

UPDATE: 1:21am. Paul is going in for surgery around 5 or 6am. His appendix had not ruptured (as of 7:30pm) so they are letting him wait a few hours to clear out some emergencies. I’ll drop the kids off at school and join him in the hospital. Apparently, they do these things laproscopic-ly now, so he may even get discharged later in the day! Keep hopes high for a quick recovery!


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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

As if the past week hasn’t been bad enough. Phelm-y cough and stuffed head, sickly lost voice, broken foot (new theory: it wasn’t the toe, it was bone(s?) in the foot… looking more into it later), the new car (which requires lots of foot action to drive), the kids feeling funky, Kate cutting canines, and busy busy busy everything.

Last night, I broke up with my committee chair.

Not that he necessarily got it, but I did do it. One of those post-storm causalities, my mentor, too focused on a new life in another state and disengaged with students here. Overwhelmed by project responsibilities over University ones (the projects are what bring in their salaries… the University pays very little or nothing depending on their contracts). Supportive, yes, but thinking of me, passing on opportunities, offering experiences worthy of my expertise and interests? No, not really. And it’s not fair to expect it from someone who is just not here, physically or mentally. An unexpected post-Katrina reality: life is hard for everyone and some responsibilities get dropped. He’s sticking on for awhile to get me through the next hurdle and then I need a change. Because this program cannot continue this way for me. My education and training will not continue to be post-storm collateral damage.

I’m hoping for support to get through an application process for a Mega Fellowship I’m applying for (due on Thursday) and to get through this defense. (Another application? I must have some deep-set hatred of myself.) But did I mention? I have my FINAL draft written. I finished it on Tuesday and sent it to committee, not that anyone on my committee has looked at it. Although it really is a milestone that I could take a moment to reflect and celebrate upon, truly, I’m too tired to notice.

Commence the shopping for committee members. Are there academic want-ads for this sort of thing?

I am tentatively scheduled (either for this coming Friday or the one following, depending on some faculty travel) to give an open, “formal,” practice prospectus defense…. someone said it may possibly be the first since Katrina? I’m trying to show the Department good faith in my dedication and desire to really be a strong partner in it’s improvement and recovery. And then… then, I really want to sleep for awhile.


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It’s not that she can scramble onto the kitchen table is under 5 seconds. It’s that she can do it with her cup of cereal kept perfectly intact.


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New Set O’Wheels

We are once again a two car family. Sort of.

Remember the renovation to the back of the house we’ve been talking about doing since we bought the house? (In our defense, things like having a kitchen, a bathroom, and electricity took precedence.) Well, we are actually starting to really get started. Maybe not soon but some day in a future I actually can see, we may have another working bathroom. With a bathtub. This is all very exciting.

One of the hang-ups we’ve been having is over supplies. Namely, when we need something — rebar for the concrete project outside, bags of concrete, a couple of 2x4s — we have to borrow a truck or do multiple trips with our wagon, taking all sorts of extra precaution to not trash it. Because we do all this stuff ourselves (or, at least, Paul does it — with the help of folks like my Dad and some of our friends — me, my role is budgeting, research, and planning) we needed some sort of vehicle for this work.

So yesterday, Paul bought a TRUCK. Our previous truck (a purple Ford Explorer named Barney) was a serious work truck and was used as such. It was Paul’s baby (think guy and his TRUCK) and we sold it shortly after moving to NOLA because we didn’t use it enough to warrant keeping it. (Plus, living in Michigan had wreaked havoc on the poor thing.) Although he hasn’t said anything to make me believe it, I think that Paul has felt just the tiniest bit lonely without a truck to bounce around in. So we are doing our best to emphasis the manliness of our new set o’ wheels. (I’ll post pictures later… I don’t want to ruin the imagination.)

We have named the truck “IMPACTO ZERO” (dígalo en español, por favor). It is named after IMPACTO UNO, the most tricked out school bus we’ve ever seen (possibly the most tricked out school bus in the world) — the very bus we took bouncing along the mountains of rural Honduras during the two summers we spent there. (IMPACTO UNO was spelled out in huge letters across the windshield and in back — over the spoilers.) In honor of the Impact Uno, we are going to load up a cassette tape with Gypsy Kings’ “Hotel California,” Cecelia Cruz’s “Yo Vivire,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and lots of Air Supply to blast as we drive Impacto Zero around New Orleans.

I drove Impacto Zero for the first time today. Like all good trucks, I.Z. is a stick shift. The kind where your foot is almost completely disengaged from the clutch before it even thinks about getting into first gear. For those of you who remember my Sweet First Car, a silver 1981 Dodge Aires K Station Wagon loving named Roxanne (think of the Sting song), Impacto Zero is like a long lost brother. When I shift in the I.Z. the handle of the gear shift comes off in my hand. The passenger side door only opens from the inside. The A/C only works when set on “Max.” The fuel gauge is broken (“just fill it up when the odometer reaches 200 miles”). And at least one random dashboard light is on for no reason for the entire ride.

It’s just a tiny pick-up — no backseat. I love driving it, but there is no chance either kid will be going anywhere in it. So, while we are a two car family, only one is actually a family car. This is Paul’s workin‘ truck!

We picked it up for $2750 and are carrying minimal insurance on it; we hope to sell it in a few months when we’re done with the renovation (stop laughing. we WILL finish it!) Other that the few minor oddities, it runs just fine, the engine is beautiful, and there are only 92,000 miles on it. I’ll post pictures soon. Until then, take the opportunity to tell Paul about the coolness of his seriously manly truck.


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For Today’s Parental Freak-Out Moment…

I bring you the following information from Consumer Reports. Lead is everywhere, existing in a ton of your household goods and children’s playtoys. Love that lead. Here is what they found:

Our lab tests detected lead at widely varying levels in samples of dishware, jewelry, glue stick caps, vinyl backpacks, children’s ceramic tea sets, and other toys and items not on any federal recall list.

Samples of a Fisher-Price blood pressure cuff that is part of a toy medical kit had surface lead in worrisome amounts. Parents should remove this toy from use.

And more on that…

Our tests found high total lead levels in three new samples of a red toy blood pressure cuff from classic Fisher-Price Medical Kits purchased in the New York area and three samples from the homes of employees of the Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

We detected the highest concentration of total lead, more than 10,000 parts per million, in a cuff that a child had regularly played with for the past two years.

Right. Like my kids. Because we totally have this set. The kids LOVE it. When Kate was a baby, Will used to give her daily check-ups.

Why oh why oh why are we still even manufacturing lead??


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What’s IN this season? Under 5 Art!

Self-portraits, decorated wrapping and tissue paper, earrings, paintings, votives, cards, and more graced La Divina on Saturday night. Will’s self portrait is in the middle of the top row, above. When Will told us about making his self portrait (the kids had a full discussion and study of the shapes and colors of their faces before making the pieces) he told us that he has a very LONG head. With each display were detailed documentation about the kids’ process in making each piece.

You can see some the documentation below. (Although the class picture in the center was taken by me in front of the Nix Library a month or so ago.) Will made about 10 pairs of earrings! I bought 5. I thought Will would be thrilled with me wearing his creations… but NO! He keeps telling me that I can’t wear them because he made them “to raise money to buy animals for people who don’t have food.” When I explain that *I* bought them and gave money for them to buy the animals, he gives me a knowing look and says, “no you didn’t.” I wonder if he’ll accept the cleared check as evidence?
We had a great time at the event. We were lucky that Sydney, our old neighbor (whose beautiful Bat Mitzvah we attended two weeks ago) called and asked if she could come over Saturday. So Sydney came along, which meant Paul and I had a break from constant Kate-wrangling. I don’t think I would have been able to take pictures (or enjoy a gelato) had Sydney not been there!

These little paintings were awesome. Will had one called “dark” that our friend, adopted little sister, and Abeona curly-haired sub, Michelle took home.
I loved the cards!
Meanwhile, outside, the kids played. Ana decided she liked the lion outside of the sushi place next to La Divina. She sat on this perch, waving to people (“bye, have a nice night”) as they passed.
Kids, patrons, parents, and more… can you spot Will and Kate?

Will joined Ana on the lion. I heard her whispering to him, “Will, we can stay here forever. We can watch all the people walk by. We can eat all the ice cream we want…” Sounded pretty good to me. Enticed by her offer, or maybe just happy to get away from some of the excitement, Will stayed there for awhile. (Long enough for Emmy and I to giggle at the two of them deep in serious conversation.) Then, when her (totally awesome) boots slipped off, Will jumped down and put them back on her feet. (I was too hit by cuteness overload to negotiate the camera properly and missed the moment.)

Although the kids haven’t decided what animals they are going to purchase yet with their donation, they DID reach their goal… they earned enough to buy a cow!!


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American Gothic

The original:

Our version:


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