Saturday, August 30, 2008

Um, WHATsackievirus??

The start of a three day weekend. The advent of warm sunny weather after two straight days of rain. A very long "to do" list. A wedding to attend, which happens to be the first kid-free event we have planned to attend in almost a year. Mix all these ingredients together and what do you get? A sick baby, of course.

Poor Finn. He's been battling a cough and a runny nose for about two weeks. It was clearly on the mend - we had ceased dosing him with Benadryl at night, and he was sleeping through without any disruptive coughing fits to wake him. But Thursday morning we noticed the cough was making a comeback, and I received a call from daycare informing me that naptime was less than stellar. For them to call me about a nap, it had to be bad, and indeed, apparently his nap lasted all of 35 minutes. A far cry from the usual two + hours. The Benadryl came back out Thursday night, after we listened to cough after cough over the monitor. Friday I called the doctor. What if it's allergies? A sinus infection? Should we bring him in? We decided the best course of action was to watch and wait. Finn was acting himself, even if he did seem to have a leaky mucus factory in his nose. Friday night went well - very few coughing fits, and no antihistamine was needed. As Saturday morning dawned we thought we were in the clear, this cold was on it's way out. But a couple of hours later, and I'm sure there was no whinier kid in the world. Lots of crying and crankiness, and general exclamations of "hurts!" without an indication of where. Suddenly, the prospect of a three day weekend, when it means the doctors' office won't be open on Monday, didn't sound so good.

Thank goodness for Saturday hours, though! It was my #1 criteria in selecting a pediatrician for Finn. Our appointment was a 10:00 am, so we had about an hour and a half of time to kill before heading over there. While M. sat with Finn on one of the playground swings across the street, Finn actually fell asleep. Sitting up, with his bike helmet on. Whoa, my child just doesn't do that. He's definitely not a "sleep anywhere" kind of kid. So any doubt I may have had about whether I needed to take him to the doctors or not flew out the window.

We arrived at the appointment right on time, and within 5 minutes we were talking to the doctor (love her!). She made Finn, who was clutching his blankie and an Elmo doll, feel very comfortable while she checked him out. She looked in his ears and mouth, listened to him breathe, and took his temperature. The diagnosis - a sinus infection, as we expected (not sure how she knew this for sure, but I'm willing to buy it from the pain Finn's been feeling in his head, since he's not teething for a change). No ear infections, though it does look like one of his tubes is starting to work its way out :-(. The big surprise was that Finn also apparently has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease, or coxsackievirus, in addition to his cold/sinus infection. He has sores in his throat, and a fever of 102. Poor baby!

A dose of antibiotic, a dose of ibuprofen, a short nap, and we already have a different child from this morning. As I type this, he's running around upstairs with his father, watching baseball on TV and playing with M.'s guitar. I'm sure that he will start to feel awful again as the medicines leave his system, but we can stay on top of it and, hopefully, rescue some of the weekend. No doubt he'll be in full health by Tuesday and ready to go back to daycare, where I'm sure he picked up the cold and HFMD in the first place.

Finn officially starts in the 2-year-old room on Tuesday, so it's a whole new set of germs for him to get used to. But I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say on THAT - transitions are my least favorite aspect of a daycare center and they definitely cause me angst!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gooooood Morning Viet Nam

As some of you know, I'll be leaving shortly for a week-long visit to Viet Nam for work. My longest international trip to date was A.'s and my honeymoon trip to Aruba, which was pretty much a disaster. Not Natalie Holloway disaster, but, yes, "Carlos 'N Charlie's" did play a role. Midway through our honeymoon, A. and I decided to venture beyond the boundaries of the Wyndham resort where we were staying. Mind you, this wasn't a tough decision, as the Wyndham had decided to undergo massive renovations without telling us in advance and also distributed beach towels that must have been washed in butt sweat. After renting snorkeling gear and a car, A. and I spend a fantastic morning of underwater sightseeing. We decided to head into Oranjestad, Aruba's capital and largest city, for lunch. For those interested, "Oranjestad" is Papiamento for "sleazy tourist trap". After a longer lunch than expected at Carlos 'N Charlie's, we returned to our rental to find our snorkeling gear and day-bag (all of which had been stuffed under seats) stolen. Most frustrating was that A. and I were working our way through the Jason Borne books that were in the day bag. I'm fairly certain that the street value of The Borne Identity isn't great and to this day wonder why the thief didn't just leave the paperbacks. To make matters worse, I endured strep throat and heat rash for much of the vacation and A. was struck with, um, GI "issues". Good times!!

Fast forward five years, and I'll again be leaving the friendly confines of the U.S. Truthfully, I'm pretty excited. Aside from the 24-hours of flight time (one-way!) it should be a great trip. Three of us at my company have worked for over a year to put together a workshop for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is one of the big regional multi-national organizations (sort of like the World Trade Organization). We'll be spending two days in Ha Noi running the workshop and a third meeting with folks from various Vietnamese Ministry's and science policy groups. The fourth day is all about sight seeing. We're planning on heading to the coast to visit Halong Bay (, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks spectacular on the Web. Then it's another 24-hour flight home.

For all of you more seasoned international travelers, I'm looking for any suggestions you may have on surviving my visit. Tips for surviving 24-hours of flights? What should I pack in my carry-on (toothbrush)? How can I ensure that my various electrical gadgets will have plugs that work in Viet Nam? Any Viet Nam-specific tips? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Short Attention Span

I have many things I should be blogging about. Those really yummy Tempeh Reubens I made last week, for example. Or the fun things Finn and I did together this past Saturday while M. had a much deserved golf outing. The bits and pieces of Olympic coverage I managed to catch (those speed walkers are really freaky, don't you think?). Even the disappointment I felt when I heard Joe Biden was selected as Obama's running mate (I'm keeping an open mind, but I can't deny my initial reaction of, well, blah).

Instead of concentrating on one of these topics, however, my mind keeps returning to the clock. 1:30 pm, the time scheduled for MommyEsq's c-section, was very, very slow in arriving. But arrive it finally did. And it left. As did 2:00, 2:30, and 3:00. Just when I was starting to worry a little - did something go wrong? Or is her doctor keeping her waiting AGAIN? - my cell phone rang. It was Grammy (my mom) with some of the essential information. I don't want to steal MommyEsq and Husband's thunder, so I will not post the names or weights. But Baby A and Baby B are here and everyone is doing well.

As I type this, I realize how little I really know. The big stuff, like how well is "well?" Is NICU time a possibility for either of the tykes? And the smaller but still important stuff. What time were they born? Who came out first? Birth order is very important, you know - my sisters and I are all classic eldest, middle and youngest children personalities, though we were born only 3 minutes apart.

I was hoping that this tidbit of news would be enough to get me back to concentrating on, if not an articulate and thoughtful or humorous blog post, at least my, er, job. While I'm still antsy to get my sister on the phone and have her tell me all about her babies, I guess this will tide me over for a little while.

About that job... I must really get back to it, at least for the next hour or so. Then I get to go pick up my baby, something that I look forward to every day. But before I go, back to those yummy reubens, and a shout out to my fellow vegetarians Jen, Yson and G. You really MUST try this recipe. They are sooo good (M. doesn't want me to admit this, but he liked them, too) - I had three last week and I'm still craving them:

Tempeh Reuben Recipe

(adapted from
8 oz tempeh
2 tb soy sauce or tamari
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c water
2 ea garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 ts black pepper
1/2 ts caraway seed
1/2 ts dillweed
1 ts onion powder
1/2 ts paprika
8 sl rye bread
1 c sauerkraut, heated
4 sl Swiss cheese
Thousand Island dressing

Slice tempeh in half crosswise. Slice those slices in half through the middle as though splitting a cake into layers. In a shallow baking dish, combine soy sauce, vinegar, water & seasonings. Add the 4 tempeh slices & marinate either for several hours or overnight. Turn occasionally. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake tempeh slices, covered in their marinade, until hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve on rye bread with a slice of Swiss cheese, smothered in sauerkraut & Thousand Island dressing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Unveiling

I'm feeling a lack of cleverness, wittiness, willingness to ramble, diarrhea mouth - whatever it is that normally powers my posts. So, I am taking the easy way out and doing a photo post. For your enjoyment, the big unveiling of our newly remodeled basement. Mark and I slaved all weekend on painting (mostly Mark), shopping (mostly me) and fighting with the towel racks (mostly me). We now have a fully functional bathroom, and an empty but beautiful future office. Ta da!

From the office entrance:

Looking toward the closet:

A view of the vanity and infamous toilet:

Just a note about the towel racks - can we say Aargh?!?!? So frustrating to install. And behind one of the two racks is an extra set of holes, otherwise empty save for some dry wall screws, marring our new, pristine walls. Shh, I won't tell if you don't...

The teeny-tiny shower:

The tile that we agonized over (at least for as long as allowed by a cranky, hungry toddler):

Not sure why I can't get this photo to be oriented correctly but don't worry, the soap dish is not on the ceiling. The super-expensive interesting tile runs in a horizontal line at about eye level (or at least what's considered eye level to me) in the shower.

Just like his Grandpa Mike, who faithfully scrubs the toilets every Sunday, Finn is showing a predisposition toward toilet cleaning:

And some bonus photos...

At the Splash Park:

I didn't know Rambo worked in an office:
My next post will try to have more, you know, words and stuff.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

File Under "Weird Blog Things"

There is a whole culture of blogging out there, one which I did not know existed until recently. Even now I am pretty sure I've just touched the tip of the iceberg. I'm pretty behind the curve, I guess. I didn't know people could make a LIVING off something that is the internet equivalent of keeping a diary, for example. The amount of blog-specific terms that have been spawned in the last several years could fill a Wikipedia entry, and even that said entry is not truly comprehensive. For example, it leaves off the word "meme." Which, technically, is not a blog-specific term as it has its roots in Darwinism and sociology, so maybe not an oversight. Rather than go into a long explanation of what a selfish gene is and how it helped coin this phrase, though appropriate for this website, perhaps, I'll just link you to yet another Wikipedia entry that explains it much more thoroughly than I could. Please, don't read the whole entry as it is quite wordy and your head may explode.

Basically, a meme is an idea or behavior that is passed from person to person through imitation. Like a fashion fad or a chain letter, I suppose. In the blogging world, it has become a way to annoy your fellow blogging friends and relatives. I have been tagged by MommyEsq with a meme that requires me to share "6 UN-spectacular things" about myself with all of you. There are rules I should follow, but I'm going to ignore them. Mainly because the last rule is that you have to "tag" 6 other bloggers to share 6 things about themselves on their blogs, and I don't KNOW 6 other bloggers. Well, I do, but I ONLY know 6, and MommyEsq has already tagged them all. So no sense in going through all the necessary steps, I'll just skip right to the oversharing part.

But first, putting aside the thought that "UN" might stand for United Nations (that would be a hard meme for me to complete, given that I try not to follow international events too closely), I could use a little clarification on the assignment here. Do I take "unspectacular" to mean average, boring, run-of-the-mill? Like:

1. I'm 5'4" (on a really, really good day).
2. I do not dye my hair. I plan to dye my hair as soon as I find my first strand of gray.
3. I like to read, but lately it's nothing high-brow. I get sucked in to chic-lit and Oprah's book club books and then feel ashamed and slightly dumb.
4. The last movie I saw in the movie theater was Be Kind, Rewind, on a girls' day out. Before that, it was The Da Vinci Code, pre-Finn.
5. Today, I am wearing a charcoal gray skirt, a white wrap blouse, and black heels.
6. For the last two years running, I have joked that I am 29, again, on my birthday. I am actually 31. Everyone jokes about their age, right?

Or, does "unspectacular" mean the opposite of spectacular? Do I need to share 6 things I am bad at? Here goes:

1. Running. I huff and puff and manage to do about 11-minute miles. My face turns beet-red. If I ran REALLY hard, for just ONE mile, I might be able to do it in 10 minutes. Pathetic, eh?
2. Cleaning. Before this past weekend, when M. and I made a concerted effort to remove most traces of construction dust from the house, I had not dusted Finn's room in at least 6 months. I can't remember the last time I mopped the kitchen floor. While I wipe up water spills created by me or my spirited young child, which may alleviate SOME of the dirt, I am sure my floor is quite gross.
3. Phone calls. I hate making them, my shy bones take over and render me panicky and mute. Usually only when calling people I don't know or don't normally talk to, but occasionally it extends to those I know.
4. Christmas shopping. I am always very last-minute about my Christmas shopping (clearly I don't take after my mother in this regard), and I have a hard time thinking of things to get people. Heck, I have a hard time thinking of things for people to get me. I may have a list a mile long and tons of ideas in August, but by December I've completely forgotten them all and I haven't purchased a thing.
5. Sending cards. I'm very good at buying them, but terrible at sending them. Sorry to everyone who didn't get a card from me this year - I probably have one sitting for you in a pile somewhere, possibly even written out. I promise, I MEANT to send it!
6. Just about anything requiring hand-eye coordination. Special gym, folks, special gym. 'Nuff said.

There you have it. Not 6, but 12 things about me, you lucky ducks. Since I'm not following the rules right anyway, I tag all of you. Feel free to share something unspectacular about yourselves in the comments.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coming Soon - New Cousins!

As you may have read on her blog, MommyEsq has received her c-section date. Knocked up with twins, both of which are breech, she'll be going under the knife on August 25th. Only 12 days away! I'll be winging up to visit them once the baby nurse MommyEsq and her husband have hired is gone in order to provide a little support, probably some time in October.

A teeny, tiny part of me will mourn the phase where Finn was the only grandchild on my side. His reign as Supremely Spoiled Grandchild is about to end, or at least drastically change, and he will be sharing the limelight with (and perhaps be overshadowed by) his new cousins. Overall I'm ecstatic, though. Sharing the attention will actually have a lot of benefits for Finn. He was a bit of a super-celebrity at recent family functions like our trip to Disney World. This puts a lot of pressure on him - everyone wants a hug and a kiss (even though to Finn they are virtual strangers), and he's always being asked to do his "party tricks" (whatever new skill he's recently mastered). Of the 600 or so pictures that were snapped in Florida, Finn was in roughly 500 of them. He had his own paparazzi!

Finn has two cousins on his dad's side, 6-year-old Ty and 3-year-old Bo. As the youngest cousin (at least for now), Finn does have a special place in the family, and each boy is given lots of individual attention. But he also gets to be part of a group - a pack of wild little boys that I'm sure will have tons of fun together in the future. Sounds just about right to me, and I'm excited that there will be another little pack for Finn to join, one he gets to lead.

Other reasons for excitement: The Esq twins are boy/girl. Finally, I can shop in the girl clothing sections (see above, where I mention the THREE boy cousins on M.'s side, begat by a set of brothers. What's up with those X swimmers, family of M?). Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of cute outfits to put a baby boy in, and Finn owns many of them. But it's nothing compared to the sea of options in the girl section, each one more adorable than the last.

And, finally, let's not forget the biggest reasons to be excited - these babies are healthy (fingers crossed that they remain that way) and are soooo wanted. And, you know... twins! I mean, come on, how cute is that!?!? OK, I know how overwhelmed I felt with just one baby, so I understand this will be no cakewalk for MommyEsq and Husband. But there are many, many of us who are excited for their arrival and willing to help, so hopefully that will make things a little easier.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Proof That He's Mine

Lately, anytime someone sees a picture of Finn or the trouble-maker himself, I hear a lot of "I can't believe how much he looks like his father!" True, at one time my mother swore up and down that Finn was a dead ringer for his uncle, Andrew, when he was a baby. Same thick shock of dark hair, same blue eyes. The resemblance really was pretty striking. So clearly the boy has inherited some of my genes, or at least those of my family members. But "Baby Andrew the II" has morphed into "Toddler M. Jr," and it's hard to see much of me in him now. M. and Finn share the same round cheeks, short (compared to mine, anyway) nose, lips, light brown hair, thick eyebrows, and stubby digits. I can only hope this means Finn has inherited M.'s lightening-quick metabolism, too.

Tonight, however, I discovered that Finn did, indeed, inherit at least one trait from me. Pulling off his sandals at the end of a long day, I nearly passed out from the odor. Such a cute kid, such stinky feet!! I'm so proud.

In other news, our basement remodel is nearly finished. We chickened out, and asked the contractor to install the wood flooring in the office for us. What would have taken us a couple of weekends was done in one day. We figure that we'll break even on the labor costs from the otherwise inevitable marriage counseling sessions this has saved us. Pictures will follow soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Favre's Folly

As someone who has spent his entire life cheering for the green and gold, I feel completely qualified to state that the soap opera surrounding Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers is an absolute mess. No one looks good, not the Packers organization and certainly not Favre. I’m still not entirely sure where to place blame, who is right or wrong, or what should be done. It’s too late for either side to apologize, admit that they fumbled the situation, or come out of this smelling like anything other than Gilbert Brown after two-a-days in August.

I just want it to end.

It’s hard now to imagine the Packers without Favre behind center. Randy Wright and the three-headed monster of Blair Kiel, Anthony Dilweg, and Don Majkowski, have drifted into the past, replaced by Favre. Three MVPs and two Super Bowls will do that. During his amazing streak of 16 seasons, watching Favre was never dull. Sometimes spectacular, often excruciating, every play of every game was like a high-wire act. Under-hand tosses and throws into double-coverage more often than not turned in his favor. His personal life was similar, whether it was tales of booze, women, or Vicodin. Through it all, in an age of 24-hour media, he somehow got a free-pass. His many indiscretions were chalked up to being a “good ‘ol boy”, his willingness to play hurt, or his throwback, gunslinger mentality.

Maybe we were wrong. Maybe he’s just a selfish athlete, hanging onto the last threads of a dying career. He wouldn’t be the first, and he certainly won’t be the last. To rise to the level of superstardom that Favre achieved, it’s probably essential to have that in your personality. But at some point, you have to let go, for the good of the team and the good of your legacy.

I’m sure that Aaron Rodger is probably more Dilweg than Favre, but that’s OK with me. In the last few years, Favre’s penchant for late-game, gut punch interceptions have became all too predictable. His yearly flirtation with retirement has stalled any sort of long-term planning by the Packers, who until this year were too scared of the backlash to call his bluff, maybe unnecessarily. At a July “Favre rally” in Milwaukee, only 30 people showed up. The media will lead you to believe that the state is totally behind Favre’s comeback. Not true. Now the comeback of Schlitz beer…that’s another story (