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PHOTO (permalink) 05.30.2008
a new GALLERY IMAGE was posted today.
may 2008

KIDS (permalink) 05.29.2008
honey, where's my underwear? and, where's my pants?
all of our kids have gone through a fascination with our home's laundry chute, but none of them have been as passionate or industrious as anthony. when anthony decides it's time to send the laundry down, you're lucky if there's a single stitch of clothing left on the second floor when he's through.

to begin, he swaggers to the bathroom and pushes, pulls and wills the rolling laundry bin into the hallway right next to the chute's small door. once there, he yells and grunts until someone places a step-stool in front of the chute so he can reach the hole to start throwing stuff down. when he gets towards the bottom of the rolling bin and unable to reach any more items, he gets off the step-stool, tips the bin on its side, climbs in and emerges with a few items at a time. he then climbs back onto the stool and makes them vanish in the wall. when the bin is finally empty, he rolls it back to its place in the bathroom. he then roams the bedrooms looking for any garments lazily cast about. once all the loose and truly dirty clothes have been dispensed of, anthony expands his rules of selection. when unsupervised, an ajar dresser drawer with visible clothes in it fall into anthony's 'eligible for cleaning' collection. granted when he finds such a stash, he crouches before the drawer, peers in and says, 'whazzat?', before pulling it open and looking brightly at the newfound stash. he methodically delivers the fresh and folded stacks of clothes one armful at a time to the chute. in the event his thirst is still not slaked he has been known to move on to drawers that were fully closed ... but easily opened.

for the record, doing laundry has never bothered me, but when half your weekly wash includes unworn and folded clothes, such antics become much less adorable.

KIDS (permalink) 05.27.2008
summer fun
friday was alex's last day of school. i have a tradition that on a kid's last day, i take the day off work, pick them up when they are released and we go out on a special father son/daughter adventure. last year alex and i rode the metro/subway down to the arch and went to the top. this year, i had initially planned on taking alex kite-flying for the day because he's been super keen on trying a new kite he got for his birthday. that was my initial thought but a rainy week dashed those plans. so late in the week i had to scramble to come up with some indoor options. this is what shook out.

alex likes sushi. or rather he has always liked miso soup a bowl of sticky rice with a bottomless dish of soy sauce. this year he actually ate and enjoyed a piece of sushi. it was an ebi (shrimp). he even asked for a second. during our lunch he told me that when i asked him where he wanted to go to lunch he picked sushi because he knew i would like it. i told him that was not what the day was about and he was supposed to pick where he wanted to go. he then told me that he just wanted to go to a place i wanted to go to because that would make him happy. he's too precious for words, even a father's words.

neither alex or i knew anything about speed racer. i've never seen a single episode of the old show and alex hadn't even heard of it. but what made this moment poignant was alex had never seen a movie in a movie theater. in checking the listings the day before it was really the only (age-appropriate) thing that looked worthy of a man's first walk down the dark aisle. other than being greatly distracted by all the video games in the lobby, alex enjoyed his first movie-going experience. we almost lucked into a private viewing but two other folks showed up for the 1pm showing. this prevented alex and i from kicking back like royalty and talking just as if we were in our own living room.

(this was an optional part of the plan given the weather but the clouds broke while we were in the movie making it possible.) my family spends a lot of time at the big city park near our home. this park houses the city zoo, a golf course, museums and lots and lots of green space. there is a complex waterway that runs through the park and there is a boathouse you can rent canoes or paddle-boats from to cruise through the network of ponds. whenever the kids see people out on boats they always ask if we can go and we've always answered, someday. this is because we are usually headed somewhere else in the park and it has never been our destination. on the way there alex kept asking what the next part of the adventure was and i kept responding that it was a surprise. after entering the park, every time we'd pass a place he'd ask if that was it. when i stopped the car in front of the boathouse his eyes lit up and he asked if we were getting a boat to go on the water. i told him that was the plan. i watched him in the rear view mirror as he excitedly looked out on the water and pumped his fist and said, 'yessss!'. that there is called 'price of admission'. being in the boat is way cooler than seeing the boats pass by because you get to wend your way through the various streams and you get to go under the fancy stone bridges and you get to paddle close enough to the sky-rocketing fountains to feel their mist and touch their jets. it was all rather spectacular until i told alex we had to turn back. he wasn't ready. not even close. and, he protested as much saying he wanted to keep exploring. i explained it was time and we had to meet mom, bella and anthony for a night event. slumping in the seat he said with great exasperation that it was still his day and his time.

and this is the unfortunate lesson all parents and children must repeatedly face. the end of fun, innocence and special milestones. fortunately for this memory, the day that actually happened was far better than the day that was originally planned. i don't often get this lucky and because of that i'm quick to know when i do.

QUOTES (permalink) 05.23.2008
a new TROYSCRIPT was posted today.
little things

HEALTH (permalink) 05.22.2008
the caveat
tuesday was the six week mark of my surgery. this is when my doctor said i'd be able to start walking. last week i called his office to verify this point and see if there were any preliminary things i needed to do beforehand. my doctor's assistant called back and said:

i spoke to the doctor and yes, you may begin walking next week ... as tolerated.

as tolerated. how many of you think they know something i don't? because in my mind, as reward for my diligent month and a half of exacting execution of doctor's orders i felt i held inalienable claim to cast my crutches aside and dance like dick van dyke in mary poppins or even chitty, chitty, bang, bang. when i offered this notion to the doctor's assistant she said i was certainly free to do that ... as tolerated.

after returning home from my first walking-eligible therapy session, i was showing off my new, albeit still with crutches, walking skills to marty and a neighbor lady. as i tentatively shuffled down the sidewalk in front of our house marty called out behind me, "you look like an 87 year old stroke victim."

and my great love for my wife continues ... as tolerated.

KIDS (permalink) 05.21.2008
yeah, mine too buddy. mine too.
so alex doesn't feel left out of the loop during this week of sharing penis-centric tales, the other morning while i was eating breakfast in the kitchen, out of nowhere and with no surrounding conversation alex called out from the living room. all he said, rather loudly, was, "my penis is swelling!"

boy. what to say to that? i didn't even know where to start and in the name of competent parenting i chose not to start. i mean i did have to get to work that morning.

KIDS (permalink) 05.20.2008
you're going to need that later son.
when anthony gets mad he does one of two things and which thing he does depends on whether he is dressed or naked.

if dressed, his face freezes in that pre-cry tremble. anthony is somehow able to hold a cry off for a very long time, like five to ten seconds long, but when it breaks, it breaks big, and at that very moment he quickly turns and dashes to his bed, if upstairs, and to the bottom step, if downstairs where he stays fixed until the emotion passes.

if he is naked when the anger hits he reaches down and grabs his penis, testicles or if super upset, both. he kneads the poor and undeserving flesh with a merciless roughness. sometimes it is so hard you can see mashed portions of scrotum or foreskin bleeding out between his clenching fingers.

this defense affects me far more than marty. she simply waits him out thinking he, like all men, will eventually tire of touching their boy parts at some point. i on the other hand am quick to meet his demands because somehow, someway i can feel what he feels through a cosmic, genetic connection. damn transference.

PARENTING (permalink) 05.16.2008
the pay, recognition and wardrobe suck but certain perks make up for it
a former colleague and his wife emailed me asking for guidance/direction/opinions about his wife quitting her job and becoming a stay at home mom. within five seconds of getting the message i fired it marty's way because i obviously don't know the first thing about it and she is, well, a bit of an expert on the topic. she cc'd me on her response and i found it meaty, insightful and honest enough to share for any others who may be thinking about or struggling with the choice ...
C and K,
I'm impressed that you are reaching out to people and asking questions about potentially switching careers. I didn't have that much foresight when I made my decision to stay at home.

I taught full time for 7 years before I had Bella. Then I worked part time for 2 years before I had Alexander. I decided to stay at home because I couldn't imagine managing 2 kids, 1 husband, and 40 students. And once I paid for care for both kids out of my pay I would have made $300 minus taxes. Troy explained that he could create one website in 2 months and make up what I would end up actually bringing home for the year. And I was worn out from the stress of finding alternative care if Bella was sick, scheduling the kids' doctor appointments, and finding time to do my school work--correcting papers, researching info, preparing new labs...

So after leaving the hospital with Alexander I instantly became a full time stay at home mom. And below is what I have learned...

My stress level decreased instantly. It was amazing not to have a rigid schedule to follow. When I was working I felt that spent my days rushing to get where I needed to go. Rush to get to the sitter on time, rush to get to school and prepare for my classes, rush out of school to get back to the sitters, rush home to start dinner. Having to wear one less "hat" relieved some stress.

The day is organized by your child's schedule. Staying at home isn't about doing what you want, it's about your child's needs. It's about getting home to lay down for morning and/or afternoon naps, it's about eating when hunger strikes, it's about holding them when they are sick, it's about stopping and watching each ant/roly poly/snail/slug/bird that crosses their path.

I had to treat staying at home like a job the first two years. Like any job the first year is the most difficult and has the most extreme learning curve. I tried to schedule one event a day but was always flexible and realistic that it might not happen. I became involved in my district's Parent as Teachers program, attended weekly storytimes at the public library and area bookstores, went to play at neighborhood parks, joined the local swim pool, discovered that Missouri Botanical Garden, Butterfly House, Magic House all have times in the week or month that admission is free. I chose not to pay for programs until my kids were between 4-5 years old, but I know many parents who did gymboree play groups, gymnastics, and music groups like Kindermusik.

I encourage you to use every means possible to build a group of friends who are at home with children that are approximately the same age(s) as yours. I found a great network of moms through my Parents as Teachers playgroups and the storytimes at my library. The women that I met when Alexander was a baby are still my support group 5 years later. We still get together every Tuesday for playgroup at the park in the summer and at different people's houses in the winter.

Many women find that their self-esteem and self-identity are tied partially or wholy to their career. I think that this is what causes women to want to return to work. I think that the best response to this that I heard was, "I am more than a stay at home mom", followed by "I am more than my minivan".

Your children will not be thankful or grateful that you stay at home. Your spouse might be more thankful that you are at home, but not enough to affirm your choice on a daily or hourly basis. Research does NOT show that your children will be smarter, more responsible, more successful, or more self-confident if you stay at home.

It is important that your spouse is solely responsible for the children, house, and routines for a minimum of 4 days every 1-3 years. There are things that can not be explained but must be experienced. This helps him realize that your job is challenging! Troy feels that the 4-day duration is important, because "any man can sit on 2 kids for a weekend, but on day 3 you start to lose hope."

Don't take on all the house responsibilities/chores just because you are at home. This advice came from my older sister. I strongly feel that the reason you are at home is to be with your child/ren, not to do an extra load of laundry, or clean the bathroom, or pay the bills. You are there to be present to your children.

I have been at home for 5 years and I am thankful that Troy and I had the resources and the desire that I could stay at home. A few days seem to drag on endlessly, but the years have passed too quickly. I realize now that I will never get another opportunity to be so intimately involved in my children's lives as I do right now. I enjoy being there to see what excites them, to answer their questions, and to teach them to slide down the fireman's pole. Most importantly I am thankful that their lives are unhurried and peaceful.

I hope this helps. Good luck with this decision.
Marty Walter

KIDS (permalink) 05.15.2008
when 1-2-3 doesn't work
last night marty asked me to put the kids down for bed. alex and i got into a battle over his bath. it culminated with him refusing to get out when he was finished. while on crutches i'm a little impotent to put any teeth to threats about removing him physically so i told him if he wouldn't get out he could just go to sleep in there. twenty minutes later i went down to the kitchen where marty was cleaning up.

i have good news and i have bad news?


the good news is alex is asleep.


the bad news is he's naked and sleeping in the bathtub.

in the end, i'm not entirely sure who won this grudge match but i do know i don't feel like i'm standing in winners circle.


PERSONAL (permalink) 05.14.2008
the separating factor
one of the few downsides of loving your family, work, home and life is that it is extra-hard to do things you don't like doing on the rare occasions such things sneak into your world.

HEALTH (permalink) 05.13.2008
still convalescing

SCIENCE, HEALTH (permalink) 05.09.2008
sharing my inner-most being
upon learning that i had photographs of my surgery, a good and dear friend of mine succintly told me that he was boycotting my site until i made them available for viewing. this does seem to be my week for getting slapped about content wise. i've been planning on sharing them but have only recently become mobile enough to work at my desk and reach my scanner. but i am now able and ready to freak you all out. actually, aside from one pic, they're more awe-inspiring than gag-reflex inducing. but, to be kind, i'm hiding them and you have to click to expose each one. additionally, i'm including a gore-meter with each set so you can control your experience, seeing as much or as little of my insides as you'd like. something interesting to note is all of these pictures were taken underwater because that's just how they roll these days. to achieve this they put a turniquit above and below my knee, and then pump it full of water. i guess, this helps them get around a bit easier. it also explains why the images are so crisp.

click on the below headings to display the corresponding image.

i have no idea what this is. it more resembles one of the creatures from jeff smith's graphical novel BONE than anything i'd expect to find in my leg.

if the first shot was of my uterus i think these might be my fallopian tubes. i believe the doc said this was what was left of my original acl.

not sure what's up with the top, left image but the other two are my new acl which was bolted and screwed into my leg bones. they cut this section of ligament from my hamstring which is why it looks all sinewy and raw. in time, it should get nice rounded edges and look more like a piece of corded rope.

while bobbing for apples in my knee the surgeon noticed this gash in the cartilage covering the bone of my upper leg. to fix it he had to go in and cut/chip away at the damaged area in that it was loose, like flaking paint. in doing so, you'll notice he's got some of the most ominous looking scissors ever made. the resultant hole he made is about the size of a quarter.

the saying you have to break some eggs to make an omelete applies here. after the surgery, marty refused to let me see this particular picture. it wasn't until i went back for my post-op visit that the super-doc showed it to me. he was keen to point out that the reason there is no blood in the top, left image is that he had the water pressure turned way up, so the blood would not get in the way of him hammering holes in my bone with an ice pick. after he wreaked his mayhem he reduced the water pressure so the bone could do the last thing i ever thought a bone would do, bleed. i think he may have rubbed some magic salve on there to stimulate the development of scar tissue which is meant to create a layer between my bone and the female reproductive organs that seem reside in my knee.

KIDS (permalink) 05.08.2008
black-hawk down
i chatted with bookpimp the other night. he has a son, his first, who is one week younger than anthony. we were comparing what sorts of stuff they were doing. for me these conversations are a little awkward because anthony has chosen to put all of his eggs into one basket, the basket of destruction which as a parent isn't a highly pride-inspiring skill to get to boast on.

bookpimp was commenting on all the words his son knows. when he asked about anthony i had to report that anthony didn't have any words. not yet. but he is very good at hand signals. although, they aren't the typical cute baby gestures for MORE and DRINK and PICK MY ASS UP. anthony's appear to be more of the marine commando ilk. if anthony wants you to follow him, he grunts softly to get your attention then raises his arm in the air and pumps it downward making a fist at the bottom. it looks most like the arm gesture young kids use to get truck drivers to honk their horns. if he wants you urgently, he repeatedly pumps his fist and grunts louder. every time anthony does this and bella and alex are nearby, i expect him follow the initial signal with a series of complex finger gestures and motions that would equal "you take out the little one and i'll flank back and garrote the larger one. on my mark. three. two. one. mark." in my mind, after this complex instruction, he would then crouch and begin stalking his prey.

well this is what i told bookpimp of anthony's progress. he told me this made him feel better because another friend of ours who has a child a bit older than us is saying stuff like "look mommy, there's goes a big garbage truck, and the men on the back look quite morose." dang first kids. the morning after my depressing chat i was brought from slumber by anthony bouncing a metal car on my face saying "wuz this? wuz this?" without opening my eyes i pushed him away telling him to go ask his mother.

so pimp, i guess anthony does have some words after all. but for the life of me i can't imagine why his language isn't flourishing more. like my advice to him, perhaps i should go ask his mother.

KIDS (permalink) 05.07.2008
i love it when a plan comes together
we celebrated alex's fifth birthday last week. already, his christmas & next birthday gift list are six items deep. he is our consumer. bella on the other hand only wants two things, books and a horse. she reads so ravenously that i couldn't afford to keep her in books any more than i could afford to stable a horse. fortunately marty and the kids are mainstays at our local library, usually having between 40 and 50 books out at a time.

given our children's differing approach to material things, i employ different tactics in buying them presents. for alex, i try to buy him small, inexpensive things that are meaningful and insightful to show him that presents don't have to be grand or numerous to be special. conversely i tend to get bella bigger things to try to show her that there is more in the world than an animal that requires its own domicile and stable-hand.

this year i bought alex two presents. first, i got him a movie he super-adores that we've only ever been able to get on VHS (from the library). since we no longer have a tv or vcr we haven't been able to watch it except when we go to visit grandparents. i had to search deep in google's listings to find someone that sold this thirty year old documentary on dvd. the other thing i got him was a fishbowl nightlight that caught his eye about six months ago when he and i were out shopping. as a rule, we typically don't get the kids impulse baubles while out, but he never let go of this particular item. every few weeks he'd ask me if i remembered that really cool fish-light we saw. i would say i did and that yes it was pretty cool. dreamily looking out at nothing, he would re-affirm the sentiment saying, "yeah, that thing was really cool." so i got him that and when he opened it he gave me the five-year old version of the 'you remembered' look.

i expected him to plug that shiny, glowy thing into his room and admire it often but this gem has gotten far more play than i imagined. before going to bed he always makes sure it is on and working. then he will lie down and look at it a few moments before turning over and drifting away. in the middle of the night when he changes the room he's sleeping in, and he almost always changes rooms, as he walks out of his room, he yanks his nightlight from the wall and carries it with him in his sagging arm. when he gets to the room he plans to bunk in, he searches out an empty plug (or empties a socket for the need) and plugs his fish-light in before crawling into the already occupied bed and drifting back to sleep.

i don't know if my psychology will pan out in the end, but i like how it's starting.

PERSONAL (permalink) 05.06.2008
even tarzan wore a loin-cloth
on the way home from having dinner out on saturday night walt and i dropped in on friend we haven't seen in awhile. in fact we hadn't seen him in so long we learned not only was he moving out of his house the next day (they were doing their last minute packing when we arrived) but he and his new girlfriend were expecting their first child in a few weeks. during the few hours we sat with them amidst a bunch of cardboard boxes and stacked art the guy mentioned to me that a mutual friend of ours recently bitched to him about my website, this website, saying that i should try writing about something other than my kids. while i have gotten my share of complaints and requests for different sorts of content (i.e. too long, too short, more pictures, more stories) i must say this was a first. no one had ever told me to stop talking about my kids and talk about myself more. if there ever was a common thread among readers of this site it is an agreement that my parental observations are the life-blood if not the only content of merit on this site.

of the rare instances i've meandered through my archives to the the pre-bella days, i'm embarrassed by what i find. truly. it is some really horrific and boorish stuff. so much so, every time i see it i consider culling the first few years out of the database en masse. what keeps me from doing so is the documented genesis in my life and written voice. for me personally it is noteworthy. most of all though when i look at that early stuff i wonder what kept my seven visitors coming back. i guess i have better friends than i thought. or more deluded perhaps. but ... to show i can be a good listener, this one time, for this one guy, i'm going to do something i've never done and deliver some on-demand, by request content and share something of myself instead of my kids or my wife.

as any routine reader of this site knows, i sleep naked. fact is anyone who speaks to me, lives near me or even drives by my house knows this. as for the people who live directly south of me, they really, really know this given their window's vantage points to my stairwell and kitchen (sorry about that one morning ann). the other day i overheard marty on the porch telling a neighbor-lady that since my surgery i was no longer sleeping nude. i heard both women express surprise. marty almost sounded concerned for my well being. not so much so that she addressed it with me though. curious, i drifted onto the porch and both women uncomfortably looked at me. the neighbor lady, who is charmingly forward broke down and asked. i took a seat and began to explain. first, i said that right after my operation there were a bunch of different people in and out of my bedroom where i was permanently laid up. at one point, even one of my female college students dropped by. obviously i felt quite vulnerable and helpless in this state so always made sure i was presentable to any audience. as i started to heal and could get around a little bit, i continued to always have something on. when the ladies asked if this would be a continuing trend i confessed that only as long as i remained on crutches. when they asked why the crutches mattered, i explained that i had already tried returning to my ways but the first time i crutched to the bathroom with nothing on i was struck, intensely, by how unseemly my swinging and hanging and slapping business was. it was so striking, i actually turned around before ever making it to the restroom and put on shorts before resuming my trek.

what i've learned is this. it is one thing to stand or walk cooly about your home with all your business out there, it is totally another to thrust it through the air in confident and sweeping arcs of your body forcing a daunting 3D experience onto any who have the misfortune of being between you and your destination. i wouldn't wish that on you, my children or the one woman in the world generous enough to sleep with me.

so there you go, a troy-story or as close to a troy-only-story as i'm able to give you. hope that slakes your unique need.

QUOTES, SCIENCE (permalink) 05.01.2008
one of the best bits of banter i've run across
The Coolidge Effect is a phenomenon whereby males exhibit high sexual performance given the introduction of new willing females.

It earned its name many years ago when President Coolidge and his wife were touring a farm. While the President was elsewhere, the farmer proudly showed Mrs. Coolidge a rooster that "could copulate with hens all day long, day after day." Mrs. Coolidge coyly suggested that the farmer tell that to Mr. Coolidge, which he did.

The President thought for a moment and then inquired, "With the same hen?"

"No, sir," replied the farmer.

"Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge," retorted the President.

via kottke ... via defective yeti ... via reuniting

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