Monday, August 27, 2012

Yuck! Be warned!


What is to come is a sensitive topic.  Please stop reading if you are offended by talk of underage sex, pedophilia, or other such topics.

You have been warned.

So it's been a few days since we last wrote.  We've been trying to figure out where we are going with life in general, and with Analee's schooling in particular.  Today, we were given a big shove regarding Analee and school.

At school today, teachers and administrators came to the knowledge of somebody having chicken pox.  I don't know how they found out, but apparently some children at Analee's school showed up with chicken pox.  I'm not a hippy spreading chicken pox around (I find "pox parties" abhorrent, and the data suggests their danger), but I'm not afraid of chicken pox.  It's a disease.  One of many.  Most likely, my kids will get over them if they get them.

The school decided to check the students for signs of chicken pox.  That's a great idea!  Stop the contagion before it gets too far in a confined population.  One problem:

They never told the parents.

So what's the problem?  Not telling the parents isn't that big a deal, is it?

I think so.

Here in Buena Vista, sex offenders abound.  We've had at least two within a block of our home, and likely more, but we try not to look because I would have to stay up all night with a shotgun in hand to protect my family if we knew the real numbers.  I would never let my children play outside.

More to the point, one of our neighbors was a sex offender.  The guy lived right next door!  We tried to let the kids play, but couldn't let them outside without keeping an eye on them.  Or two.  Or four.  They never got to go to the neighbors' yard.  The neighbor seemed to be a nice guy trying to overcome his past, but doesn't a parent have to question motives around children, especially with past experience suggesting a likely outcome?

Furthermore, BV's school system isn't the safe place it should be.  At the high school, a football coach was arrested and booked for an international child pornography ring that he was part of.  At one of the elementary schools last year, a counselor was arrested for looking at pornography just after his wife gave birth to a child.  In public.  (It happened at a local university.)

Fast forward to today.  According to the school's principal (who got a call from a freaked out mother), numerous adults were in the room when all of the children were checked for chicken pox.  Analee says that one of them (her clues suggest it was the school's nurse) looked under her dress to see her belly and back.

Luckily, Analee was wearing pants under her dress and a shirt on top.

Even so, we are quite freaked out by the utter lack of decorum spread by the school.  Multiple adults are not a sufficient barrier against pedophilia, as adults have been known to gang up to assault children in the past.  They should have done two things, and failed completely on both accounts:

1.  They should have looked at Analee's immunization record.  While no immunization is 100%, Analee has been immunized against chicken pox.  They utterly failed to do that, according to the principal.  (Why do we even send immunization records to the school if they are not going to be consulted?)

2.  WHY IN THE WORLD DIDN'T THE SCHOOL CALL US FOR PERMISSION?!?  Nobody should have carte blanche permission to look under a little girl's clothing in any way, shape, or form.  Using the excuse "an adult was in charge of the situation" ignores the fact that child pornography is generally perpetrated by adults on children.  It's assigning the teachers a never-can-fail fallacy that leads to a furthering of the laxity of society in public.  It's the wrong message to give to children.  "Here, kids, trust all adults who say that they have superiority over you, whether you have met them before or not."  (Analee didn't recognize the nurse.)

Ultimately, it doesn't matter if the school people were looking up her dress (Analee's claim) or down her shirt (the principal's claim); without our permission, what they did was wrong.  It was the wrong message to send to my girl, and it was the wrong message to send to my wife and me. 

So now, Anika and I are seriously considering home schooling our daughter.  We worry about the social aspect of home schooling, but feel that it is what's best for our child.  We're going to give it a few days to make up our mind.  In the mean time, we've instructed Analee to fight back against anybody who tries to get into her clothes without her seeing us give our permission.  She'll kick, punch, scream, or do what it takes to get away.

I hope this never happens again.  I feel violated.  I can only imagine what my wife feels.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

False Start

Yesterday was the first day of school here in Buena Vista.  Kinda.  For most students, it was the first day.  For kindergarten, it really wasn't.  We sent Analee to school.  Mom went with.  They started late (9 AM), and ended early (roughly 10).  It was an orientation day for parents, with rules and such.  In that hour, Babe went to the bathroom.  Twice.  When she got home, she complained about how boring school was.

Boring?  Isn't that something middle school students say?  My kindergartener was bored?  On her first day?!?  This isn't good!

I'm hoping today will be better for her, because this is her first day of school.  Really, this time.  No false starts.

When Anika and I were considering marriage, we went to a hockey game.  (Don't all guys think better at sporting events?)  While we were at the game, I thought "this is the girl I'm going to marry."  Finally.  You see, she answered about a month earlier.  I already knew she'd say yes.  But I wasn't ready to ask.  At the game, I finally grew the courage to do so.

You see, a marriage proposal is a scary thing.  Even if you know the answer.

So the entire way home, I was thinking about how to ask.  I already had a ring, you see, because I'm a dork and have these kinds of things.  (I also had a marriage style magazine; not exactly guy couture, but it proved useful later on.)  So we get home, and I ask Anika to break our "Spirit goes to bed" rule.  (The Spirit goes to bed at 10 PM, we said, so we shouldn't spend time together past that.  On this night, we were in the car at 10, but intended to split up when we got back to campus.)  She agreed to go on a walk with me.  Hang on, I said, I need to get something from my room.  (Why yes, I am smooth.)  So I go to my room and pray to find out if I should ask Anika to marry me.  The answer was "no."

No?  So what am I supposed to do now?

So we went on a very small walk, and then split up for the evening.

Poor Anika was very unhappy that night.  She knew what I was thinking (she usually does), and knew that I wanted to ask her, but that I didn't.  Later, her dad called.  "No more false starts," he cautioned.  It was good counsel.  The next time I intended to ask, I did.  That story is to come.

Hopefully the school follows Dad's advice.  No more false starts.  Not with my girl.  This is a smart one, and if they turn her off to school, I might just lose it on them.

My girl is in school today.  I feel extremely old.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunshine on the horizon.

Now that I have two paper routes, I experience this strange phenomenon known as "sunrise."  It's odd.  I have never known why people like to watch the sun come up.  Don't they know that it's the Earth that's turning?  Either way, I get to see the sky get lighter every morning.

My wife and I have been talking finances over the past couple of weeks.  Now that we have the paper routes (plural), we might actually be able to stop hemorrhaging money.  We've got plans to budget almost everything, including family fun, monthly.  We have plans to blow up our route, or get people to subscribe, which will both get us a bonus for referring people and increase the income on the routes.  Two routes mean there are a lot of people to cover, and we're rather excited.

Also, my long-awaited teaching license has been posted by Virginia.  I finished the requirements a long time ago, but waiting for Liberty University to send paperwork to the state took forever.  I'm not shy about what I believe, and I think that hurt me in this case.  Liberty seemed to drag its feet, and so I didn't get a license until yesterday.  In fact, I still don't have my actual paper license.  That is (hopefully) in the mail.  This is a glorious thing!

On that note, however, is an executive order signed by President Obama.  I generally try to defend the president as the elected leader of our country, but this one strikes me as racial warfare.  The president wants to limit discipline for African American students.  As a future teacher, that makes me want to work with African American students less.  Which is a shame.  I went to a high school with 75% minorities and didn't notice.  Looking back, I dated a white girl, a Chinese girl, and was friends with a bunch of Indians and blacks.  I didn't notice, because they were just friends.  As a teacher, should I have to look at the exterior of a person before judging content?  As a result, in the coming round of school applications, I'll have to ask myself whether or not I want to work in predominantly African American schools, and I hate to think on those terms.  What a shame!

As a teacher, I want to help change the culture of my students for the better.  That, I believe, is the crux of the problem.  If we can change students' culture for the better, we can change society for the better.  Otherwise, we're all doomed.  I fear President Obama doesn't see things that way, and that's a shame.  I can't vote for such policies. 

...and to make a political decision based on racial qualities strikes me as anti-American, and that's a shame.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Aftermath

In the last post John pointed out that I had forgotten a few details of Bub's birth.
It's true that I left them out, but they weren't forgotten.
I hadn't put them in just yet because they seemed to open up into a whole 'nother topic.

When Analee was born I could feel that rush of oxytocin (read about that here).  Bub came out and there was no such rush.  At all.

But before I get into this too much I want to make something clear-the emotions I was dealing with are in no way a description of how I feel about Bub.  While he was born at the peak of my depression he is in no way a manifestation or cause of it.  Bub, if you're reading this years from now, I love you so deeply and fiercely.  Fiercely enough that I pulled out of it.  You're incredible and I am truly blessed to have you as my son.

Okay, moving on now.  They put this baby on my chest.  I was in denial.  I did not just have a baby.  All of that did not just happen.  And there is this thing on top of me.
"It's going to roll off, someone should grab it."  I don't know if anyone actually heard me.  So I stuck out a finger to stop him from falling.
"Seriously, someone take it."  And a nurse did.
I tried not to look at anyone.
A few minutes later he was cleaned and swaddled.  A sweet nurse came back with him "Mommy, baby bonding time!".  She was really sweet.  But I didn't think so at the time.
Out of obligation (you know, since she was so happy about it) I took him.
I didn't look at him.
I looked around.
Impatiently waiting until she left.

The moment she grabbed the doorknob "John, take it."
John:  "Don't you want-"
"Take it."

And that could pretty much describe the next couple months.

And the previous year...or more.

You see, once I got help (a few weeks after Bub was born) we realized that I had been dealing with post-partum depression since some point during my pregnancy with Analee.
Yep, post-partum depression can start while you're pregnant. 
Not so cool, right?

Looking back I think two main things prevented us from recognizing the depression.  First, a lack of information, and second, culture.

The first is pretty straight forward.  We didn't know about it or expect it.  My doctor, during my pregnancy with Analee, had gone over risk factors with me.  But I thought the whole idea was ridiculous.  Why wouldn't I be thrilled?  We were trying to get pregnant.  We wanted to have a family.  And as I had never experienced depression before the thought that I would now was absurd to me.  When it did come, neither John nor I knew what was going on.  Often I found myself thinking "so this is life now" or "why do people want to be parents?".  As it seemed that life became miserable once I had kids.

I want to clarify-parenting is not actually miserable, depression is.

Of course, our naivete was aided by factor #2-culture.
People don't talk about post-partum depression.  It has been, culturally, a source of shame.
While I was pregnant with Analee, well, I was pregnant.  Any unusual behavior was attributed to that.  Once I was into my pregnancy with But I think we could both tell something was seriously wrong.  John, not one to take our lives into public view (or ask for help, for that matter) was desperate enough to start asking around.  The response he often got was that pregnancy made women crazy.
Generally when I asked other moms about being a new mother the responses were anything from "It's so much easier once they get on a schedule" to "enjoy every moment, they grow up so fast".
But I wasn't enjoying it.  In fact, I couldn't remember how to enjoy anything.

I don't know if anyone actually wants to hear how it felt so for now I'll just skip those bits.  Needless to say, life was dark and sad and seemingly hopeless.

I remember being in the hospital after Bub was born and getting a call from my visiting teacher-a wonderful lady from church who was asked to help out if I needed anything (awesome, right?). 
"Oh, I'm sorry, did I wake you?"
"Oh, were you about to go to sleep?"
I couldn't figure out why she kept thinking that I was needing sleep and why talking to me seemed to confuse her.  I found out later she quietly made a phone call (or two?  I don't really know) and by the time my mom got here she had gotten a heads up that something wasn't right.


Up All Night.

So between Anika and me, one of us was up all night.  I was up until 10.  ...and awake before 3.  My good wife was up until at least 3, because she was still up when I left for work.  When I got home, she was in bed.  ...but kids started to wake up, and I'm not about to force her to get up again.  One of us, at least, was up all night long.  It seems our last two children decided not to go to sleep (though both are asleep now; it's Bub that's awake, and we don't dare let him roam free!).  Why is that a big deal?  We only have LOTS to do today!

The day is supposed to start with a breakfast for the preschool that Bub and Duck will be attending.  I'll go up and ask Mommy if we're even going to that, with her sleep-deprived and me comatose-desiring.  After that, we're supposed to go to the elementary school that Analee will be attending to get her set up in her classroom and meet teachers and other students in her class.  I'm actually excited about that one, because I'll finally get to see her class and teacher and such.  I won't be able to go on Monday because I'll have the other three while Mom goes for Analee's first day of school.  Expect many pictures and tears to be seen then.

It's strange to think that I'm old enough to have kids going to school.  I worry about them.  Especially Analee.  She's incredibly smart.  She loves math and reading, and cranks out huge words like "commandments" from the King James Version of the Bible.  Yes, she reads Elizabethan English.  Crazy.  My worry isn't that school will be too tough for her, but rather that she won't learn to work.  Anika says that she didn't learn to work, but at least she learned to study.  I never even learned that because I lowered myself to the school's standards (and I went to a school in the top-100 in the nation!).  I don't want to let Babe lower herself like that.  My worry, then, is that she'll end up doing art projects all day long and come home zombified.  I worry that she'll get bored with the schooling and focus on the socializing.  I worry that she won't learn to work.

Bub is just as smart, but far less interested in showing his smarts.  He'll learn to work on his emotions and keeping them in check.  Babe can control her emotions, though she sometimes chooses not to.  Bub has trouble keeping his anger in check.  I think it's because he's a boy.  I worry about him learning to focus, but not on overall smarts.  He'll have his work cut out for him there, though.  My hope is that he'll be engaged by the learning process, and not use his time to get others riled up.  If he does that, all will be well. 

The next thing we need to focus on, then, is sleep.  If we can all get some sleep, I think we'll all be better off.

Here's hoping!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Temples. ...and balloons.

Analee says I should write about balloons today.  Bub says "I love the temple."  Duck says "temple."  Two out of three ain't bad.  I should figure out a way to write about balloons, too. 

We don't get to the temple near as often as we want to or even as much as we should.  It's one of the reasons I want to live close to a big city, but not quite in it.  Close to a temple sounds wonderful to me.  Of course, I figure close to family is just as good.  There are few people I trust with my children, but Grandma and Grampa are on top of that list.  So if we move to within 6 hours of Lincoln, we'll probably use them.  If not, I hope to be near a temple. 

In fact, one of my dreams is to live within walking distance of a temple.  I've looked up area prices of the temples we've almost gotten jobs for, and Mesa looks great, price-wise.  It's not the only one.  Omaha also looks great.  The problem with Omaha is that family might use our home as a stopping place for temple trips, which might involve us in family drama.  We want to avoid that. 

With our kids all so young, it's tough to get to the temple.  Literally.  I have an early morning job, which means I should have an early evening bedtime.  That means we would have to leave for the temple right when I get home, and with the temple roughly 3-4 hours away, that means rush hour traffic in DC.  For those of you that don't know, I hate traffic.  I also hate big cities.  Put the two together and Daddy gets cranky quickly.  Then you add in the fact that my wife and I can't go into the temple together.  So I let her go first.  ...and then when she comes out, we realize that we'll have to get home because I have to get to bed.  ...and we can't afford to eat out.  ...and we can't find anybody to go with us. 

You see, the problems seem to snowball on us.  They always seem to.  For example, just after struggling through my senior essay at SVU (I wrote 30+ pages in less than 4 days), I got a call from the registrar.  Backstory: I'd been working on getting my language passed off for two years.  I learned and still speak dialects from the Philippines.  Hiligaynon (also known as Ilonggo) is the one I chose to pass off.  Great!  I know it well!  Just before my last semester at SVU, I finally got the registrar to sign off on my language.  When he called a week before I graduated, I knew it wouldn't be pretty.  Somehow, Dr. MacDonnell gave me a B on the essay, so I knew my problems would get worse before they got better.  So the registrar tells me that BYU has a test for the language, and I could just take that and get credit for my language. 

Wait.  I was supposed to graduate in a few days!

Nope.  I sent away for the test.  Only, when it got to SVU, I didn't have any way of knowing about it.  They never called.  So 6 months later, my wife, who happened to be a student at SVU (a story I'll let her tell), went to the registrar's office, and they gave her the runaround.  Something about confidentiality.  So I went in and found out that they had my test and were trying to contact me.  So I set up a time for the test.

Another problem: the good people at BYU don't know how to speak Ilonggo.  I could tell they were (a) reading from a bad script and (b) knew nothing of how to pronounce the language.  Wala ko nakaintiende sang langwahe nila!  (I couldn't understand their language!)  So I guessed.  The entire way through the test.

The good thing about our snowballing problems is that Heavenly Father seems to realize that we're incredibly problem-prone, and finds a solution to our problems.  I passed the test.

The temple problem, however, is still a difficult one.  We can't very well expect our kids to sit through 6-8 hours of driving plus temple time without stopping at least once along the way.  Plus there are other costs involved.  Gas.  Snack food.  (My wife can't exactly prepare a dinner for us, so we're eating finger foods, which come at a cost.) 

Suffice to say, we don't get to go to the temple near enough for our tastes.

One day, though, we will.  ...and when we do, we'll even tie balloons (see?!  I told you I could do it!) to the car.  Filled with helium, as we will be.  Giddy to go to the temple.

One day.

While I've got your attention, let me correct my wife a bit.  The "10 minutes" that it took for Bub to be born isn't quite accurate.  We had to get from the car to the delivery.  That means (a) parking, which wasn't hard, (b) walking *slowly* to the hospital, (c) going up the elevator, and (d) getting the doctor to see her.  We were in the delivery room for about 2 minutes.  They checked my wife into the hospital about an hour later.  One of the questions they asked: "Did you want pain medication?"  Awkward silence.  "I mean, I'm supposed to ask."  Defensive look.  My wife's response.  "Yes."  What she was thinking.  "Thanks for bringing up such an unhappy memory!" 

When Bub was first put in her arms, her thought process seemed to be "what is this thing?!?"  There seemed to be no rush of oxytocin.  The second the nurse left the room, it was "John, take your boy."

Mommy was not a happy camper that day.  I don't blame her.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

He's Here

I had been having pains all night.
But this was pregnancy, it's painful.  So I didn't think much of it.
At 6am I told John.
Thrown into alertness "Should we go to the hospital!?!"
"No," I said, disinterestedly "I'm sure it's just braxton hicks."  And I went back to sleep.

At about 7 I got up.  Still hurting.
John: "Now should we go?"
Me: "I'm gonna take a shower."

I don't really think I'm in labor (we're at 35 weeks, after all), but, if I am, I'm going to start the process as clean as possible.
I have a hard time making it through the shower.  I get out early because I can't stand.  Dripping, I decide to look at a clock for the first time this morning.  (John had filled me in later regarding the timeline, in case your curious).  What I was determined was braxton-hicks contractions were coming 3 minutes apart.
I got dressed and walked downstairs.

I saw John on the couch.
Me: "We should go to the hospital."
He sees me slip on my shoes.
John: "Oh!  You mean now!" as he springs towards the door.

In case anyone thinks John was being dense, I'd like to point out that I had already told him that I wasn't in labor-twice.  And I hadn't actually filled him in on the 3 minutes apart bit.

Just a few blocks from our house John says "Shouldn't you call your mom?".
I huff and puff a bit and roll my eyes.  Why bother if I'm just going to walk around the hospital a bit and get sent home?
Fine.  So I send her a text.  It's 8:45am.

It's a 15 minute drive to the hospital and, despite John's asking, I insist that there is no need to speed.
When we get to the maternity ward I let out with the oh, so convincing "Hi, I think I'm in labor."  (At this point I'm not as confident that this isn't the real thing).
They check their calendar-"Oh," I say "I'm not due for another month".
After a pause, they tell me to go to this side room while they call the doctor over to check me.
I go.  I lay down.  And a minute or two later I look at John.
"I need drugs, NOW."
I'm finally convinced that I'm in labor.
He asks the nurses-they can't administer drugs until after the doctor checks me.
We wait.
"John, I want DRUGS."
He goes to find the doctor-who just stepped in the ward.
He checks me and you can see his eyes pop open "She's at 8, plus 1-get her to the delivery room."

In case you don't know, that's 8 out of 10 cm and plus 1 pretty much means his head is just itching to come out.

"I want drugs!"
"Too late for that now." the doctor informs me.
As John later described, it was as if "DOES NOT COMPUTE" was streaming across my forehead.
And it's true.
I had just barely accepted that I was in labor.  I certainly hadn't come to accept that baby was coming any time soon and definitely wasn't ready for him to come without an epidural.

The nurses wheel me over (I assured them that I couldn't walk).
I'm not sure what everyone else kept saying, but I kept asking for drugs.
Over and over.  And over.  And over.  No joke.
The nurses quickly realized that they should just stop talking to me and talking to John.  I don't blame them-when anything you say is combated with "I WANT DRUGS!" the conversation would get old, fast.

And here I started letting out what I think would be described as "primal screams".  Honest to goodness, I had no control.  I actually remember thinking "am I doing that?!".  Then I'd close my mouth and it would stop.  Then I opened my mouth and this screaming just came out.
At this point I imagine the nurses and doctor wished that I hadn't had a background in vocal music and was unable to sustain the screams for so long.

I do remember the doctor saying something about focusing that energy and using it--and I was screaming again.  If I recall correctly, that is when the doctor gave John this "I'm not getting through, hows about you take that end and I'll cover stuff down here?" kind of a look.  Maybe not, but I swear it happened.

Here is where my brilliant labor logic came into play.  You see, I hadn't stopped asking for drugs-you know, in between those primal screams.  And it occured to me-if I get a c-section, they have to give me drugs!  At which point I began insisting that I have a c-section.  Didn't matter that he's practically out now, I wanted a c-section.
Of course, my ever-cool doctor calmly glanced over and replied "How about we just have this baby?".
And we did.  By 9:10am John had texted our family pictures.
9:10am.  Remember what time I texted my mom?  Go ahead and scroll up to check.
That's right, 8:45am.  When you account for the 15 minute drive, that's 10 minutes.  Everything that happened in that hospital happened in (probably less than) 10 minutes.
Yeah.  No kidding.

But John William Adams was born.  6 lbs and .1oz.
He was named for my paternal grandpa (John) and John's maternal grandpa (William).
Of course, the naming is a whole 'nother story in itself :)

My Time.

So I've yet to find a job.  I really am OK with that, though.  It means I have lots of time to work on other things.  What I'm doing now is the subject of today's blog post.

First and foremost, my focus is getting paid to teach.  So the job hunt continues.  Instead of having it consume my time and life, though, the search is part of the periphery for life.  I am getting ready to take other Praxis II tests, which will allow me to qualify to teach other subjects here in Virginia and other places in the nation.  I'm not sure which test I should start with, though.  I figure I can pass the Praxis II that will make me eligible to teach secondary (6-12) English almost immediately, as well as the middle school tests in math and science.  I don't think it'll take too much time and/or effort to pass secondary math and science, but it'd be harder than the above three.  You see, in my dream, I end up in a rural school somewhere that I can teach multiple subjects, allowing me to see the growth in students in more than just one subject.  Think Eastern Oregon, for example.  Kansas.  Oklahoma.  Eastern Washington.  Northern Colorado.  Southern Utah.  West Virginia.  So the hunt and preparation for jobs continues.  We'd love to be close enough to a temple (and an airport!) that we can go any time, but far enough from a city that we don't have to deal with the hustle and bustle of city life.  I'd also like to have some land with which my kids can play.  "Watch the corn!" sounds a lot more useful than "watch Mommy's flowers!" to me, because we can eat the corn. 

Also, I found an awesome website where some of the best universities in the nation offer free (uncredited) classes for free.  Coursera has 117 courses at present, and I am signed up for six (!) of them.  The first one starts in just under two weeks, and it's on gamification.  In fact, that's the title of the course.  What is gamification?  It's "the application of digital game design techniques to non game problems," which in my case, is another way of saying using games to teach.  It's taught by a UPenn teacher, and I'm really excited about it.  Other courses I'll take are on online education (taught by a teacher at the Georgia Institute of Technology), computational investing (G.I.T.), irrational behavior (Duke), Greek and Roman mythology (UPenn), and a history of the world since 1300 (Princeton).  There are lots of other courses that I wanted to take, as well, but figured 6 was enough for now.  Anika will join me, along with at least one other friend, for the mythology course, and we'll Skype study sessions.  Or at least that's the plan.

Also, I'm running two newspaper routes for the Roanoke Times.  The hours stink, but I don't really have to deal with people, so I don't mind too much.  We'll see how that changes with the seasons.  Right now, it's foggy, but warm, if rainy.  We'll see what happens when the temperature drops.  Of course, maybe we'll have a Winter like last year, when the jet stream kept the season up North.

I'm also helping around the house.  I get to clean a lot more than I would if I had a full-time job.  Maybe by the time I get a full-time gig, I'll be ready to move to said job.

Meanwhile, we're preparing for Babe to start kindergarten, Bub and Duck to start preschool, and I'm writing lesson plans for my hopeful future job.  Life continues, teaching job or none.

...and I couldn't imagine being happier with it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two Stories Meet

The end of Analee's beginning story and the start of Bub's overlap.
You see, Analee was only 5 weeks old when Bub was conceived.

Nursing was horrible.
Lots of pain.
Lots of bleeding.
Lots of crying.      Mine and hers.

When she was about 4 weeks old I couldn't nurse more than maybe a minute, literally.  It was so excruciating.  I had started pumping, which hurt but not nearly as bad.  It cut down on the pain, and therefore my crying, but Analee was still having a tough time.
I was 'nursing' and pumping all day and my supply didn't budge.  We traveled to visit family.  Our last stop was Nebraska, where my parents live.  About then I realized that my milk was not enough.

I had never been an advocate for nursing or anything and didn't feel too strongly about it, but suddenly I felt like a failure as a mother.  I couldn't even feed my baby.  I was shocked by how important this suddenly was to me.  I didn't know what to do when my dad suggested I go talk to my mom.  I had one of those "oh, yeah!" moments and went to confide in my mother
My mom is amazing.  She is supportive and loving and understands how to respond to all the crazy hormone-ed emotions.  After reminding me that she had totally been there, this was the jist of what she said:

Giving your child formula is feeding her.
You love her enough to give her what she needs-even if it's not from you. 
That is not failing.
That is loving.
That is being a good mother.

We got some formula.

Theoretically I was nursing too, but really it was a combo of pumping and formula.
Nursing was still extremely painful and the opportunity to not be in a boatload of pain every hour was not one I could pass up.
And yes, every hour-or more sometimes.  Not only was it painful but my supply was low.  Pumping all day and drinking all day and whatever else I tried didn't help. 
Eventually we found out why.
A few weeks later we realized I was pregnant.
A few months later...say, nine-ish...we realized I had been dealing with depression.

But one bit at a time.
I'll admit, though it's still hard to, when I found out I was pregnant I cried.

When you have a baby you always say that's it's all worth it.  You tell your war birth story with zeal and with pride gaze down at your little one.  "It was all worth it."  "I'd do it again."
I said that.
And I meant it.
But I didn't realize what it meant.

I want to say-right now, four and a half years later, I'm glad that little guy came just when he did.
In fact, I know he came exactly when he was supposed to.
But that doesn't mean it was easy.

I can't remember most of that pregnancy.  Most of that year.  It's all dark.
I wish I could, for everyone who was in them, but I can't.  I'm sorry for that. 
Perhaps, eventually, it will come to me.

But at 35 weeks we drove to the hospital.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Unwanted Jobs.

Because I'm a newspaper deliverer while I wait for my dream job of teaching, I have a soft spot in my heart for those with unwanted jobs.  Almost every morning on my paper route, I fight for road space with a garbage truck.  More accurately, the truck and my car fall all over themselves to get out of each others' way.  They get up as early as I do, and drive around the city looking for trash that's out.  While the Buena Vista trash folks often miss our trash, the Lexington trash folks seem to never miss anything.  Would it make any difference if BV's trash collection were on the street where everybody could see it?  I think so, but the bigger issue is the type of men (and women, if there are any female trash collectors) that do the job.  Judging by their driving, Lexington's trash collectors are honestly trying to do a good job and stay out of people's way.

From what I've seen, newspaper delivery men and women are similar.  While there are those that do a horrific job of their craft, most are genuinely good men and women who are trying to put food on their tables and make people happy.  Numbers of people have changed how I deliver their paper, from having me put their paper in their driveway to on their porch to one lady who has me put the paper on a flower pot on her porch.  Let's be honest: the hours for my job stink.  I don't want to be a morning person.  Nevertheless, I force myself to get up before 3 every morning, and this morning I woke before 2.  I'm willing to bet some of you haven't even gone to bed when I start my day!  That said, I'm not just doing this for money.  I really try to meet my customers' needs.  Occasionally, it's nice to be appreciated.

A few weeks back, Virginia was one of a few states hit with a derecho.  It did a lot of damage, and while Buena Vista wasn't hit very hard, Lexington was.  I was a new delivery guy in Lexington when it hit.  My kids were terrified, and I calmed them with the soothing words "has wind ever hurt you before?"  When I went out that morning, I wasn't expecting to find the destruction that I encountered.  There were a lot of major roads in Lexington that were down.  I had to piece together my route, walking much of it.  While I did, a number of people were incredibly nice to me.  One talked to me about my goals and the reasons for my newspaper route.  Another frankly forgave my late delivery at the end of the route.  "I'm impressed that you're here today; I didn't expect to get a paper today."  Delivering newspapers is my job, but it's really nice to be appreciated.  I go out of my way to make sure those customers are treated special. 

Another customer has emailed me support.  The fact that he has gone so far out of his way for me makes me feel great.  He didn't have to email me.  He didn't have to say a word.  But he did.  After being nice in email, he asked if I would put his paper on his porch.  If he wasn't nice, I would still do it.  Because he was so nice to me, I try to make sure his paper is where he can get it when he gets out his door, and not randomly placed on his porch.

There are lots of others that are incredibly nice to me and my family and don't get paid for it.  At church, for example, I think my kids' teachers are mostly wonderful.  I'm grateful for the example that they give to my children.  I fear I won't always have such an example to show them, but I hope I will.  I try to have my children thank their teachers as often as I can, but fear that their thanks aren't enough.  These people bend over backward for my family (let alone other families), and ought to get more credit.

Lots of jobs that most of us find distasteful are filled by good men and women.  How often do we thank them for a job well done?  It might not mean much to us to thank them, but as one of them, it means the world to us.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


My wife is the greatest.  No, seriously, she is.

Her birthday was on Thursday and I kinda let it slide.  I mean, I said "happy birthday" to her and let her buy whatever she wanted (I can always eat less), but we didn't really do anything for or with her.  Not on her special day.  So though I'm a bit late, I thought I'd give some anecdotes of our 6+ years together.

We met at Southern Virginia University.  Nobody would have ever though we'd end up there.  We did, and met the first week there.  I was a 26-year-old with a rule about dating anybody under 20.  She was 18.  My rule got shattered.  Ironically, another gal wanted me to break my rule for her, but I wouldn't.  She turned 20 about two weeks after Anika and I got attached at the hip.  I don't think she liked my wife much.  I don't gravitate towards strangers, but I did on one day at lunch in the SVU cafeteria.  I sat right next to her.  And mocked her.  Mercilessly.  And she laughed.  I guess nobody had any ingenuity at SVU, because what I was saying was original.  Anika got the nickname "Arbor Day" during that first meeting. 

A day or so later, we found out that we were struggling with differing sections of the same class.  (We love Dr. Cluff!)  So we decided to study together.  We acted out parts of old books, and had a blast.  The Iliad by Homer was the first major work that we read together.  There really was a lot of back story to act out for very little action, but it was fun.  One day, as we took a break from Homer, she started talking and crying about a member of her family that was causing her grief.  Girls crying really put guys in a tough spot.  Or at least it should.  Especially if the gal is one that he doesn't really know.  A gentleman will do what he needs to in order to calm the woman, all without either offending her or making it seem as though he has undue feeling toward her.  I must not've been a gentleman, because I apparently made it seem as though I had feelings for her.  Then I realized that I did.  When the time came for us to split up and go to bed, I found myself returning her kiss.

Wait, what?

Apparently I grabbed her arm and kissed her.  I don't remember that part.  I remember realizing that I was kissing her.  We split up awkwardly that night, and then when we met for breakfast the next morning, we knew that we were an item. 

I tried to pass on my love of hockey, and was moderately successful, with some major bumps in the road.  Back then, there was a team in Roanoke.  The Roanoke Valley Vipers.  Their mascot looked like Barney the dinosaur.  One game, we got a free T-shirt and great seats below the lower bowl.  We had to follow Barney to our seats.  It was humiliating.  Luckily, there were only like 12 people at the game to mock me as I walked by. 

During our first game, though, we knew that we were serious.  In fact, we were already talking about marriage and those kinds of things.  You'd think I would know better.  Note to kids: always take your dates to things that you like if the things that you like are more important than your date.  Luckily for me, my date was more important.  Lucky, because we sat right on the glass.  Great seats, right?  Not so much.  Though we could literally put our feet on the ice, all Anika saw was 6'4" brutes smashing each other into the glass.  Sometime during the 1st period, I opened my fat mouth.  "Wouldn't it be great if our kids played?"

Wrong.  Thing.  To Say.

I don't think we were on talking terms throughout the 2nd period.

For the third, though, I had a stroke of genius.  I took her away from the glass where we could see the play develop and the skill it takes to play football players on ice.  She started to like the game.  Soon enough, I could see that she was starting to pick up on what was going on.  She was cheering for the away team because they were assigned to warm up on our side of the ice and they were playing with a kid through the glass.  So her team forced overtime.  Overtime led to a shootout.  The home team won on the last shot.  My poor wife was on the verge of tears. 

Over a hockey game.

(YES! *fist pump*)

Anika, from those early memories to four kids (and two degrees!) later, I love you.  I couldn't have asked for a better wife.  Thank you for saying yes before I ever asked, because that made things WAY easier. 

I can't wait to see what life will bring us next.  Whatever it is, I'm glad I'll face it with you.  Happy (late) birthday!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pretty Fabulous

I wanna just say that kids are weird.
Their ideas are...incredibly unique.
Their shame is non-existent.
And their limits are, too.

For that, I think they're pretty fabulous.

Kids see the world in the most fun ways.
Because the world is fun.
And none one has yet to convince them otherwise.

Anything can happen or be achieved.
Anyone can be anything, so long as they are willing to.

Kids are are inspiring in their ability to be happy.
Kids can get excited by anything.

Within the last week John and I decided we would start drinking only water at dinner.
Mostly, the response from the kids has been 'oh, darn'...or, as they would say lately, 'oh, rats!'.
But a day or two ago Bub let his ultimate kid shine through.

Here he is.  Stirring his milkshake.

Oh, you can't see a milkshake in his cup?

Well, 'really' it's water.

But not if you ask Bub.

It's a milkshake.  He was happily confident that it wasn't water, but a milkshake in his cup.  Maybe I thought it was water but really, it was a milkshake.

The kid was pretty awesome before, but, for me, this took it to a whole new level.
A level of optimism and confidence.  And, to boot, a level of playing with the rules of perception and reality.
And, yes, he was doing that.  He just didn't approach it with the same self-aggrandising attitude that us adults tend to. 

Like I said.  Kids are Fabulous.

At least, mine are.:)

Also included, obligatory pictures of the other two doing the same they would get their picture taken, too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Dad's Side of Babe's Birth.

So now that my wife has finished her Babe story, let me give my abbreviated one.

We had been trying to get pregnant from Day 1.  In fact, we were in La La Land just after we got hitched, going wherever anybody wanted to take a picture of us, when Anika's dad brusquely asked "don't you two have a room somewhere?"  Yeah, OK, Dad, we'll go there.  We'd talked about kids before, and both wanted them, but to have Anika's dad tell us to go was a bit of a shock.  It was the moment between sex being forbidden and sex being acceptable or even desired.  Dad's great with changes like that.  I'm OK.  Anika's a bit of a wus.

Four months later, I think she was freaking out.  Her mom got pregnant right away, and she figured it'd be easy.  Luckily, the Lord knows us pretty well.  He was right, again.  Her memory of me finding out that we were pregnant is pretty accurate.  A few of us knew she was pregnant before the test said so.  I don't know how to explain it, but my wife is just different when she's pregnant.  I know almost right away.  This was one of those times.  So yes, I did burst into the apartment after washing cars, and I saw the test, and I was excited, but I was also terrified.

You see, I grew up with a single mother.  She took me and ran from an abusive husband when I was a baby, and though she'd gotten married again when I was a teen, it was a short marriage.  So I'd never had any real father figure around me until I was a teen, and instead of it being my stepfather, it was a friend from church that didn't have kids younger than me.  So I'd never really been around kids.  I thought for sure I'd drop Analee and break her.

9 months later, and I'm starting to wonder if this baby will ever come.  Finally, on the day of my wife's inducement, my brother- and sister-in-law helped me with my paper route (one of them threw up along the way), and I got home quick enough to get my wife to the hospital at 6 AM.  ...and then we sat and waited.  Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked.  My wife had needles in her, so I sat quiet and bored as I waited and waited and waited.  Through a "What Not to Wear" marathon.


For lunch, I left to get some food.  Best.  Break.  EVER!  Wendy's frosties > What Not to Wear.  Seriously.

At around 5, the party started.  You hear a lot about how wives feel in the delivery room, but not much about husbands.  Let me tell you the husband side of the story.  Being a husband who can do nothing to help his wife is just about the worst position a man can ever see.  There are only so many times a wife can hear "can I help in any way?" before she wants to punch a husband in the face.  Likewise, I only continued asking because I never got an answer!

Labor was...well...labor.  Two steps forward for every one and a half steps back.  I remember Analee's head popping through (almost literally), and then the doctor telling my wife to stop pushing.  Her face gave a look of "Does not compute, divide by zero" as one could tell that her body wanted to push, still.  Finally, Analee was out.  Anika and I had talked about how the whole post-birth thing would go.  She would take a nap (she sure as heck deserved one!), and I would follow the baby.  Well at Stonewall Jackson Hospital, there really is no "follow the baby."  She stayed in our room.  And Anika didn't take a nap.  You could see the Oxytocin hit and her arms flew out and she said something along the lines of "gimme my baby!"

Me, being the knucklehead that I am, said something along the lines of "are you ready for #2?"  I wasn't the most favored person in that room that day.  (But I wasn't far from being accurate, as you'll find later if you don't already know.)  Such is the life of a new father.

She's Born (I Promise!)

Re-cap: I showed up at the hospital at 6am for an induction and got an (heavenly) epidural at about 11.
I had been slowly progressing (centimeter-wise) until about 3pm.  I was at 8cm (out of 10) but my body stopped.  My doctor sat down to talk with me.  I had stalled for a little over an hour at this point.  He explained that stalling isn't a bad thing, in fact normally it's no big deal-except that I was already at 8cm.  My body was practically ready to go and just stopped, kinda sudden like.  In his experience, when that happens it's usually because something is wrong and your body wants it to be right before the baby comes out (i.e. the cord is wrapped around the baby).
We went over my family history again and he decided to give it more time (going 'by the book' would call for a c-section).  He gave me an hour.
45 minutes into that hour I was at 9cm, then 10.
At this point I'd like to say that not all epidurals are created equal.  It would be nice, but I understand that there are lots of variables.  You are, after all, sticking a giant needle into someone's spine-it's not exact.  But combine that with the leaking (meds going onto my bed instead of in my back) and the epidural didn't help much when it came to the pushing.
I was not a fan of the pushing.
I asked John how long it took-he said hours.
I'm guessing two hours.

Two Hours.

I don't know how long other ladies push, but 2 hours is not cool.
If you pushed longer than that then you should probably be exalted right now.

In all the haze I do (vaguely) remember an odd conversation I had round about that time.
My mom, trying to lighten the mood, points out that this is what I always want, right-being center stage?
I made some comment about not remembering the audition and wanting to switch parts with somebody.  When no one took me up on the offer I asked if I could read the script, as I didn't seem to have one.
The doctor got a kick out of it.
Sometimes I wonder what kinds of things people usually say when they're in labor.
I chose to have the mirror up and even had someone put a towel over the tv because I could see myself in the reflection.  I didn't say it, but I remember when I was asked if I wanted the mirror down (so I could watch her come out) my shocked brain spat "I've got to feel this and you want me to see it too?!".  (For the record "it" refers to the pain, not my daughter!)  Funny, though, the moment the doctor said he could see her my whole head shot up, looking for that mirror (or really, a glimpse of my daughter).  Thankfully a wise hand carefully angled the mirror just as I looked up.

Now, we learn in anatomy (and sometimes in family and child development classes) that the largest shot of oxytocin a woman will get is released just as her baby is born.  I can attest that that is true (at least the first time around).  I could tell you the exact moment when it came.  A chemical switch flipped and extreme pain became extreme joy.
I thought I would want my little one to be cleaned up a bit before I got her.  Work that hard and she might as well be cute, right?  With that switch it didn't matter.  I found myself reaching down, calling out "my baby!".  It didn't matter what she looked like and frankly, I don't remember.  What mattered was that we were each exactly where we were supposed to be.

Friday, July 13th.  7:20pm (ish).  7lbs 14oz of sweetness.

I have to admit, come about 7pm we thought it would be really fun to have the numbers line up.
date: 7/13, time: 7:13, weight: 7lbs 13oz.
We were close.

Oh-another shout out to the awesomeness of my doctor.  My mom told me this bit after the fact (since I was a little distracted at the time).
When Babe's head came out the cord was wrapped around her neck (she was okay, perhaps because her hand was stuck between her neck and the cord).  One of the nurses started to tell me, but the doctor very quickly stopped her.  He smoothly unwrapped it, checked her and encouraged me to keep pushing.
So, two things.  First, remember when I stalled at 8cm?  Well, looks like that was probably why.  And second, can you imagine the panic I would go into if I knew that the cord was around her neck?  She wasn't even out of me yet, I needed to finish what I was doing and they needed to make sure she was okay before I was given news like that.
I love my doctor.  Smart, compassionate, good sense of humor-the guy is awesome:)

One last factoid before we close the story-both Babe and Gideon were born on Friday the 13th.
I'm feeling pretty lucky.
Pretty blessed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

TV, and a lack thereof.

So our TV died a few weeks ago.  There are times that I miss it, and other times that I'm glad we don't have it.  I used to play video games on it, and the video game machines sit there unused.  That part is really good.  I actually do stuff that helps out around here when I'm not working, such as go out and see that big shiny thing in the sky.  My wife tells me it's called the "sun." 

You see, as I work at 2:30 in the morning, my goal is to get home before the day star emerges from its hiding place.  If I do that, I'm doing fine.  I get home, look at whatever is important to me at that moment, and then collapse and sleep.  For example, this morning, I got home at about 4:30, and then looked at some of the districts that were at the job fair in Lynchburg that I went to this morning.  Next thing I know, I'm waking up on the floor to the not-too-subtle noises of kids waking upstairs.  I don't remember going to sleep there!  Ugh.

The job fair was a big deal, but I don't think I got a job today.  Gave a few people my resume, but they weren't hiring.  One district said that they were hiring, but that I'd need to fill out an application and fax it to them.  OK, I'll jump right on that.  I don't expect much, though.  I've faxed in probably 50 applications this Summer.  None of them called back.  Occasionally, I'll get a school that writes to me to tell me that a spot that I applied for was filled, which is awfully nice of them.  When/if I become an administrator, I hope to be as kind as that.  It's a nice way to let folks know to stop waiting for you school.

So after our TV died, both of our computers died.  We went about a week with no computer nor TV.  It was tough on the job hunt, though I could go to the library or university and look for more jobs, and I did that a couple of times, but it was tough on our very tech-savvy children.  They had to (*gasp!) go outside and play.  Poor things!  Ironically, since then, our kids have realized that it's far easier for them to get outside than it ever has been for them to watch TV.  All they have to do to go outside is finish their chores.  To watch TV, they have to finish chores AND do something else.  Scary.

So during that week, I averaged over 10,000 steps per day.  It was great!  Since then, I've regressed to around 7,000 per day, but I'm also doing some lesson planning for my eventual job, and actually looking for a job, and keeping up with friends that I've neglected for far too long.  I've decided computers are great for keeping in touch with long lost friends, but they're also horrible wastes of time.

Back to the kids' chores for just a second.  Since Analee's become a big 5-year-old, she's had the added chore of garbage duty.  She's taken to it like a duck to water!  I'm seriously impressed!  When Bub turns 5, it'll be his chore, but until then, Analee seems to be taking the job and running with it.  She has quietly become an amazingly obedient girl, for the most part.  Where was I?  For her next trick, I'm going to teach her how to heat up canned food.  In fact, I should probably do that tomorrow.

For now, though, I'm going to go bug my wife.  Yesterday was her day to blog, and I see she hasn't done so.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Analee at 2:30 AM.

Since I've gotten a newspaper route in Lexington with the Roanoke Times, my kids have been bugging me to take them with me.  I used to get up at 2:30.  With the truck getting to the drop site a bit late, I moved my alarm back ten minutes to 2:40.  It may not seem huge, but at that hour, every minute counts.  When the truck is late, I get a little more sleep at the drop site.  Once the truck gets there, it takes me roughly an hour and a half (give or take) to get my papers tossed.  On Monday, for example, I was done in an hour and twenty minutes.  Got home at about 4:30 after the drive home from Lexington, and then decide to go to sleep or get some stuff done before the kids wake up.  Analee woke that day at about 5:15.  Grumble.

Analee has been waking earlier and earlier lately, in fact.  I knew it was coming.  Thursday morning, it came.  At about 2:30, I felt someone climb into bed with me.  Then climb onto my back.  I knew it was her.  At 2:38, I rolled her off my back, and she piped up.  "I wanna go with you, Daddy, on your route."  "No, I don't think that's a good...."  My voice trailed off as I looked at my sleeping wife and 6-month-old sleeping in bed.  "Come on."  Grumbled words at 2:30 don't have the same effect.

So we went.  At first, I wanted Analee to just go to sleep in the back of the van that I stole from my wife at 2:45 AM.  We got to the drop site and waited for the truck when I realized that I didn't get the bags from my car.  Can't let people's newspapers deal with fog and dew, can I?  So when the truck finally arrived and I picked up my papers and then drove home to pick up my bags and start my route.  I was shocked that Analee was still awake.  At first, I wanted her to just stay back there and fall asleep, but I soon saw that my dreams wouldn't happen.  I deliver to a few old folks' homes, though, and one of them I knew I'd have to go in.  Couldn't leave an awake 5-year-old in the car at 3 AM, could I?  So she hopped out and we made our deliveries.

I discovered something then.  Rather, I was reminded.  Kids don't have volume control.  At 3 AM, she's singing at the top of her lungs as I sneak down the halls of an old folks' home.  "Shhh!"  That didn't work.  I never did find anything that worked.

I realized another thing, too.  She really wanted to experience the entire route.  Not just tag along, but actually deliver newspapers.  So I soon started letting her toss newspapers from her window at sidewalks.  Then I let her deliver to porches.  The culmination was a delivery of both a Wall Street Journal and a Roanoke Times to a porch protected by a high fence.  She put it through the fence (brilliant! I'd always just tossed it, waking up half of the neighborhood with the thud in the morning air.), and came back to the car smiling.

Then she broke the news. 

"I don't want to deliver any more newspapers.  A monster might get me."

Really, kid?  A monster?  You've survived 5 years on this planet, and a monster's going to choose tonight to attack?  Fine.  We're close enough to the end.  It took longer than normal (it was about 5:30 when we finished), but it was fun to hang out with my daughter.  I had to go to a store and buy one more newspaper (I think I tossed one to the wrong house somewhere in there) and a chocolate bar for my little girl (who by this time was asleep, of course), and then we went to Wal-Mart to get the list of things needed for my little girl's new kindergarten class.  (When I went to school, there was no list.  Why do people need to spend money for schooling these days?  I don't get it.)  She woke up between the store and Wal-Mart.  We got home at about 7.

She slept for a few hours that afternoon, but was in great spirits most of the day.  I think it's because I let her do more than just ride with me.  If any of my other kids want to go with me later, I might try it again.  The extra time to get the job done was worth it, and it helped my girl to feel great about herself.

Why don't I let her (or her brothers) help more often?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kids and their songs.

While I realize that many of you have already seen them, I just wanted to take a moment and show the awesomeness of my kids. 

This is Analee singing a song by my favorite singer-songwriter (Stephanie Mabey, and yes, you should click on the name).  Yes, it's about zombies.  Or if the writer of the song were a zombie.  It's a love song.

At almost exactly the same age, here's Bub singing about Iron Man.  It's from Marvel's Iron Man: Armored Adventures, in which Iron Man is a teen.  I think it generally has good values and generally leads to not horribleness. The music video is here

I wonder what Drake will be singing when he's 4.  Can't wait to see!

Totally non-job post!

In this post, I will not mention any job-hunt activities other than to mention that I won't mention them. 

My good wife loves the Olympics.  She wants to watch them every other year.  She revels in cheering for her country and the sportsmanship that is exhibited therein. 

I'm a different kind of beast.  I see a bunch of jerks striving to one-up their competitors so they can pay a huge tax on a relatively worthless piece of metal.  Questions have been raised lately about cheating at the Olympics.  They're raised every two years.  This time, it's British bicycling and the mess of badminton taking the ugly cake.  Between those and the Blade Runner, whose abilities could not be tested before prosthetics and can't be verified after them, I am losing what joy I found in watching athletics.

Don't get me wrong; I loved watching the women's Judo finals yesterday while waiting for our van to be fixed.  Kayla Harrison winning the gold was awesome to see.  I'm a hockey guy, and love watching what one of my friends calls "thugs on ice."  (OK, wrong season, but still!)  That said, with judging controversies and timing controversies and dating controversies, I just don't think I can handle any more.  There's enough drama in my own life.  I don't need to vicariously experience anybody else's. 

Don't even get me started on NBC's refusal to just put the Games online for those without TV access.  They'd have made a mint in advertising if it was available to more than just subscribers.  They might have even (*gasp*) encouraged people to buy their product!  Never mind the fact that the Olympics "need" sponsors to happen (see here, or more specifically, here), despite the fact that I don't recall any sponsors in 1896 being prevalent in my research. 

I just want to see athletes competing without giving ground in their field, while being sportsmen and -women.  I want to see countries bringing their best and cheering on anybody that wins, even if it's not them.  I want to see teams united for a common goal, not skipping out on each other.  I want to see it.

I'm not.  And that's a shame.  Instead of watching the Olympics, I am playing with my kids.  Sorry, Olympics, but you lost a watcher here, possibly for life.  My family is more important than you now, and will be in the future.  Deal with it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Start of Babe...Part 2

I think we left off in July.
With the swelling.
And the itching.

It was nearing the end of the pregnancy when we moved from the apartment to a house a few blocks down.
The process was horrific.  Let's just leave it at that.
But, a few weeks later, my whole family came out!
It was fun and crazy and I'm still in LOVE with the breakfast hash my dad made:)
Let me tell you something.  Growing up we had plenty of stories about dad's cooking.  It wasn't that he wasn't good at it, but when you combine his military background with a greater appreciation for spice than us little kids had, well, we didn't always see eye to eye regarding what we would call "good" meals.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I thought his hash was delicious (I'm still kind of a wuss when it comes to spice-just ask John).  I guess I shouldn't have been, though.  He is the one who taught me how to make scrambled eggs.  And I make some pretty good scrambled eggs, if I do say so myself.
Anywho, it was fun and we had a birthday party for my little brother.  Being 5 his excitement was contagious and I almost forgot that this baby still wasn't out.  Almost.

Her original due date was July 4th (!)...then it was moved to July 7th (meh)...and we induced on July 13th.  By then my dad had already gone home, which makes me sad.  I wish I had had the confidence to say-no, I'd like to induce now.  But I understand the doctor's desire to let my body do it's own thing.
My body, however, wanted to take a little too long (at two weeks post-partum all sorts of bad things can start happening, I know lots of ladies are against inducement and don't like how it affects the mother-but, put simply, I'm more than happy to take a hit for my kid).

The night before I go in I'm seriously psyching myself out. Can't sleep, I'm throwing up.  And, of course, because of the inducement, I couldn't eat anything after midnight.  So by the time I stopped throwing up I couldn't eat.  My poor mom, trying to help me discovers that my 3 year old sister is throwing up, too.
If anyone is wondering, John had a paper route, so he got some needed sleep and was gone for the early morning hours.
Despite it all we got to the hospital at 6am.  By 7 (I think) the paperwork and the IVs were set up.
Funny thing, though, as a nurse was setting up the band to monitor contractions she started looking curious.
"Are you feeling anything right now?"
"Well, you're having a contraction.  A big one."
After the fact, I was talking to my mom and she thinks I had started into labor the night before.  I was nauseated, my back hurt and was apparently having contractions before any actual 'induction' took place.  Looking back, I don't doubt it. 
Within the next hour we started pitocin and, according to the monitor, it did it's job.  Then the doctor broke my water.  Then it hurt.
Totally didn't feel ANYTHING until my water broke.  Then I REALLY felt it.
By 11am I got an epidural.


Back story-for several years prior to getting married I had been training as a classical vocalist.  Let me tell you, I was ready to perform an aria right then and there to the glories of epidurals! 
It wasn't perfect, though.  Along the way (you know, rolling back and forth, trying to get 'comfortable') the tube had become undone, so the epidural wasn't fully effective.  However, it was still pretty heavenly and I'm glad I got it.
I have to qualify.  Getting the epidural was horrendous.
Sort of unique-but I got the local anesthetic (the "bee sting") and the epidural itself 5 times.
You read that right.

I got that combo 5 times.

 Hospital rules said John couldn't be in there.  We heard it was because some dad fainted during his wife's epidural and getting injured but as everyone was focused on his wife he didn't get medical care immediately and he sued.  Or maybe that's just a pretend example.  Anyways...
When John found out he was furious.  To this day he says if he ever sees that guy again he'll knock him out (Ha!  Get it?  Knock out the anesthesiologist?  Huh?)  Oh well, clearly John is more mad about it than I am.

Regardless, I was glad that I could breath again.
But that didn't mean things just sped along.  Nope.  We waited.
I didn't mind too much, though.  I wasn't in extreme pain and there was a What Not To Wear marathon on tv!  John still doesn't get why I enjoy the show, but that's okay.  Plus, I was the only person in the maternity ward, so when the nurses didn't have anything else to do they came in and hung out and watched with me!

The day stayed at pretty much that pace until 5pm-ish...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Military life?

So in my eternal hunt for jobs, I came across a military academy in Pennsylvania that is looking for a history teacher.  I would teach 6 sections of history and supervise my group of boys effectively from waking to sleeping every other day and every other weekend.  Wait, what?!?  How much of my time do they want, again?  Yes, that's right.  At a military boarding school, I would wake and go to sleep with my boys (roughly 30 of them) every other day and every other weekend.  And eat all of my meals with them (though family could join me for Sunday brunch).

There are good and bad sides to this.  The good side is that my inner daddy could still shine, though not to my own kids, but to a group of 30 boys living away from home during the school year.  I would really enjoy helping my boys to grow inside and out as I cared for them.  That's what every teacher should want, isn't it?

That said, I'm still a family man.  While my housing would be paid for (up to 3 bedrooms, so my family likely couldn't expand any more unless we were going to put more than 2 in a room) and at least most of my meals, my family would get bored/lost quite quickly there.  My wife called the ward's bishop's house and spent a while on the phone with his wife.  It sounded as though they (a) could use some new blood and (b) would love to have a family join their ranks.  That said, the nearest shopping is roughly 20 miles away, so it'd need to be sparingly used.  Further, while there's an elementary school in the city, the high school is likewise a ways away.  Our ward building would be just a couple of blocks away, but our stake is half an hour away and the temple is almost 3 hours away.  ...and there's that family time thing that I wouldn't get, all while living in the dorms with my boys.  Have you seen the movie "Glory Road?"  Think that kind of housing situation, on a high school, I-might-not-want-to-be-here level.

I already turned in my application, but I'm considering withdrawing it, though it's a great opportunity for me.  I also have to think about my family.  How do I do both in this situation?  What do you think?