Friday, November 14, 2008

A Letter From Baba

Dear Cadence,

I don't usually do this. I like to think that these letters to you are something special between you and your Mama. Nevertheless, for better or for worse, today marked a major milestone in your life, which I am left uniquely qualified to talk about, and I feel compelled to write to you about what happened. Whether you remember this day or not, today is the day you had your first major hurt, and it will stay with me forever.

Today started as have many days, with some playing in the morning and then chasing around to get you dressed.

This was followed by further displays of cuteness,

finding of new toys,

and mess making.

So, yeah, it was a regular day, although perhaps I was a little more tired than usual. Then, as I was walking over you to get into our bedroom, your clumsy Baba kneed you in the head. Not really hard but bad enough that you started crying. You know, it occurs to me now that this little accident may have been partly a consequence of your ever-increasing height. My step-over may have been calibrated for a much shorter lady.

It wasn't a happy moment, but not horrible... you've had much worse bonks, and I think it was more startling than anything. I took you to the kitchen and pulled out your nice cold medibear for your head, but - smart little lady that you are - you knew what you wanted. The last day or two, you've been more hesitant about asking for treats with me. Like the other night, when you got very upset after I told you that you'd have to wait until after dinner to have your piece of candy. Well, once you started crying and tantruming, I definitely couldn't give you candy, but luckily Mama was able to smooth things over. After dinner, you led me over to the candy bowl, and I picked you up so we were right in front of it. I asked you what you wanted, but you wouldn't answer... you just looked at me a little sad and sheepish, whereas usually you'd point right at what you desired and we'd go from there. So, finally, I asked you, "do you want some candy?", and you gave this sweet little nod.

Well, just the same way, we stood in front of the freezer and I asked you what you wanted. You looked at me sadly, but didn't answer until I finally asked, "do you want a freeze pop?" And once again, a slight, sad nod and then happiness when I pulled out a nice orange one for you. The freeze pop has, unintentionally, become your go-to comfort treat when you have an accident, so I was expecting you to want one.

I cut it open and threw out the stub, holding you in my left arm, the freeze pop in that hand. I'm not sure what happened - although I keep replaying the moment in my head - but I looked over at you just in time to see the tip of the freezepop wrapper poking your left eye. I swore, and you started crying, and Kate came running in.

We drove you to the nearest urgent care clinic, found out they didn't take medicaid, drove to a different one down the street, and got on the phone with our designated medical center. We didn't try there first, because it usually takes hours to get in touch with the triage nurse. Luckily Kate was able to call the center in a roundabout way, and we were able to talk to them while in the urgent care center's waiting room. We quickly got a referral to an eye doctor off in another part of town and we were off.

The whole time you were such a good little girl. You were hurting pretty bad, and screaming your lungs out while we were in the car, but once we'd get out and be waiting, you'd be okay and would look around, draw on our intake forms and even give us some smiles. But the scratch was pretty bad - visible even to the naked eye - and it was getting to be naptime before we had gotten to the eye doctor. It was rough, every time you'd start to fall asleep and your eyes would close the scratch would irritate your eye and you'd wake up.

Finally, you fell asleep and we got in to see the doctor. She took a look, dyed your eye so we could see the scratch and told us the (relatively) good news. It's a big scratch, but it's superficial and should heal quickly. She put in some ointment and stuck a patch on your eye (which you hated).

So basically, your Baba turned you into a cute little pirate:

Anyway, this long narrative is almost over, but I just wanted to memorialize another thing that happened tonight. Every time you'd reach for the patch, we had to tell you that you had to leave it alone and that prospect would make you tear up and sob. Finally, your Mama and I sat down with you and explained to you how important it was to keep the patch on. I asked if you could keep it on till morning and you nodded yes. And you haven't fiddled with the patch since.

Cadence, I've told you this a lot today, and I'm probably going to be saying it a lot in the years to come: I am so sorry that I hurt you. Words cannot capture how sorry I am and how much it hurts to know that I hurt my little lady. I hate that I can be clumsy and that sometimes you (or your mama) get hurt as a result. I'm trying to be more careful, and I promise you that I am going to try even harder to protect you. I am ultimately grateful that the scratch isn't worse than it is - the doctor said it may be healed in as little as 24 hours, and that you have been dealing with the pain and scariness so well. Thank you also for forgiving me, your smiles, hugs and kisses tonight have meant so much. But I am learning to be a better father, and I will learn from today.

I love you, Bug.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Soundtrack to a Mystery Solved

The other day, we were sitting on the couch during Cadence's nap, when we heard this strange sound:

Woooooosh, whooooooosh.




me:  what the heck is that sound?  is the heater broken?

Woooosh wooosh wooooooooosh




Wooooooooooosh whosh whosh whoooosh 

Pepper:  grrrrrrr...




woooooooosh whoooooosh GRRrrrrrRRRRRRRRRRRR

woooooooooooooooshwhosh whoshBARRRRRRGRRRRRRRRRRR


me:  what the heck is going on?!  pepper hush, you're going to wake the baby up!

Whooosh WAAAAAA!barooooYou woke the baby barooo barroooooowhooooshGRRRRBAROOOO! WAAAA!, attempting to distract the now groggy and grumpily awakened kid, we follow pepper's alerts and look out the window to see this:

Had I not been so distracted trying to keep pepper from waking cadence, I probably would have noticed the giant hot air balloon right outside of our living room window a little sooner.  

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dear Cadence, Month 16

Dear Cadence,

As usual, I can hardly believe that another month has gone by already. This has been an extremely busy month, full of yard sales and your first trick-or-treating adventure, and of course lots and lots of growing.

I love watching you figure things out. You've been doing so on a more and more tangible level every day...picking up new signs faster and faster, for example, although you still just get very sad, frown and tear up [without crying] whenever we ask you to say you're sorry, and then you go off and sit quietly by yourself until we come and ask you for a hug. I'm not sure where this self-imposed time out comes from, since we've only ever used that with you once, and it really seems like you're more upset with yourself for having done something hurtful than at anyone else for being hurt, or pointing it out. You do seem to be increasingly aware of how others are perceiving the world - like when Baba's bandana gets stuck over his eyes, and when he starts to call for help, you know just what to do! Or how, when he loses control of the ball you two are playing with and it hits Mama in the head, you come over to make sure she's ok, and kiss it better.

It also takes you only a single lesson to pick up most things we may decide to teach you these days, which is actually somewhat disastrous for us as parents, since sometimes a single weak or sleep-deprived moment can lead to a dangerous new hobby. {Case in point of this is happening as I write this; Baba just showed you how to duck under and step over the railings on the clothes-drying rack, and you are now running around in circles, ducking and stepping each time while he watches, anxiously hoping that you won't topple the whole thing over, breaking it and yourself in one fell swoop.}

You've developed an affinity for rearranging chairs. We have several good, wooden, child-sized chairs that Nana Marianna had when she was your size, and you love to drag them all over the house, and sometimes outside, too. But you certainly don't limit yourself, any chair that you're strong enough to move is fair game. And we keep finding our family video DVDs stashed in strange places-stacked in semi-circles in the middle of the floor, filling the cat condo, in our bed.

You are also now bigger than the big pilates balls that you've always had such a profound interest in. I remember when it was a big deal that you were almost as tall as the ball! You take great pleasure in picking them up and carrying them around, just because you can.

Just because you can seems to be a pretty ubiquitous reason for a lot of your newer quirks. You've made it a nightly routine to go into your grandparents' bedroom and sit on Papa Scott's stomach and ask for a drink. and more. And a drink. And more. You could go on for hours, delighting in the fact of this fluid communication.

You have also graduated to sitting at the table with the rest of us at mealtime, thanks to the fancy new high chair we ordered, ironically, from the very same baby store on 86th street in NY that we used to visit in person so often. You still use your old booster seat on days when we decide to hang out in the living room for meals, but being able to have you really join us instead of being held at a tray's distance is simply wonderful.

There are a lot of things that we miss about New York City, all three of us, I think, though you are quickly growing beyond your definitive memories of it, but every day brings more evidence that it was a good idea to bring you and the cats down here. Now that Baba is applying for Law school, we're faced with the possibility (more like a probability, really) of us returning to an urban environment, and while it is exciting and thrilling to be moving on in our lives, I am also beginning to fear what such a reality could mean for you. You thrive so well within this extended family environment, and having the land with the dry riverbed, benches, pond, hammock, tree swing, open space, little red wagons to ride in, dogs to play fetch with and get kisses from, hoops to toss basketballs at, gardens to raid, leaves to play in, having a long interior space for rainy-day energy's hard to imagine taking it all away and replacing it once more with a tiny one bedroom apartment with no yard. Hard to imagine, even if we found a place near a park, taking away the three season porch and room to roam the cats have here. Being back in New York, or even some other large metropolitan area would definitely be the best thing for my career, and for Baba's, but it is an extremely hard decision to make when it would mean taking so much from you.

What we have to keep in mind though, the thing that we can't let ourselves forget as we make these hard choices, is that you are above all, resilient, and as long as we are with you, loving you, protecting you, and listening to you, you will do fine no matter where we are. And if we stay here, unemployed and prospect-less, waiting on jobs with benefits because anything less would mean forfeiting our healthcare, we won't be doing right by you in the long run. We need to be healthy and whole ourselves in order to best protect and teach you, which also means not entirely killing off our own ambitions. So perhaps returning to the city for a few years will be the best choice.

I guess why I'm saying this is because I want you to know, no matter what we end up doing, staying or going, being wage-an-hour factory workers or being high risk business dealers, it was a decision we will have made with your best interest in mind. I want you to grow up healthy in body & soul, with clean air and plenty of stimulation, both physical and intellectual.
We have a lot of stuff on the table right now, and I want to choose the option that will allow you to have the best start that we as parents can possibly give you. And you can bet your little baby butt that whichever one will let us do that, whatever it means, little bug, is exactly the option we're going to take.

Speaking of these big changes, there is one major change taking place in this country right now bringing monumental moments in history with it at nearly every turn. I want to document this time and how you fit into it all, so you'll have a record of these important events, no matter what your personal politics end up being when you're grown. When you're older and people ask you, where were you that day, here is your answer:

Just three days ago, on November 4, 2008, you came with your Mama and Baba as they cast their votes in the 2008 presidential election. Kelly came too, annoyed that she was still too young to vote this time around. The two of you played with another kid there while you waited for us to emerge, and we all went to buckhead for a delicious lunch. We saw the judge there with his family, and countless folks of all shapes, sizes, classes, and colors, all proudly wearing their stickers, and you fought for control of the "I voted" sticker Mama was wearing on her shirt. After lunch we went home for a nap, and then to return a bunch of stuff to hobby lobby and JC penny, Baba won an ipod nano (I'll betcha that seems dated by the time you're reading this, huh?) from an arcade game, and then we came home to a good dinner of homemade chili. Nanna Marianna and Papa Scott invited us to come to a party they were going to, and so when the winner was announced, you were having the time of your life, surrounded by family and new friends, and a big black tomcat who seemed just as enamored of you as you were of him, eating good food and playing with other kids. You clapped and squealed and giggled and cheered...ultimately it was a day that was huge with a quiet excitement.

The election of senator Barack Obama to the office of the President of the United States of America has a lot to say about the people of this country. And while many people are declaring that this day will go down in history because of the victory it claims in terms of race relations, I can't bring myself to make that statement. Because to declare this appointment important simply because of the color of the man's skin seems to be a somewhat self-fulfilling hypocrisy. Yes, we had to have a first, and given the nature of change in human society, it is of course going to be a big deal. But if the only thing we look at in this 'victory' is the fact that 'there is a black man in the office', we're missing the point: that the color doesn't matter. It's the mind, actions, experiences, beliefs, how we relate to our peers, how we think, our understandings, our feelings, our ability to learn, to love, to fear, to trust. This day is important because it brought an intelligent, thoughtful, empathetic, careful, and yes, inspiring leader to a people who were largely consumed with fear, distrust, and depression, offering even those who disagree with his policies a reason to engage in their own lives.

And how the next four years play out will say a lot, too. Because as much as it takes a leader to inspire people, it takes the masses to actually accomplish anything. If people have the attitude that 'we elected him, now our job is done and he can fix everything', then we are in for a huge disappointment. He is just one man, he can only do so much without the help of every last person who cast their votes on tuesday. He is also human, and he is going to make mistakes. And he is going to make decisions that many of us will not like or agree with. His acceptance speech was exactly right...nothing earth shattering actually took place on tuesday. We just got the go-ahead to embark on a new adventure - we've been given a chance. It's up to us to rise to the occasion, or to let it slip away.

I hope that your generation will be the one to forget to notice the color distinctions your ancestors lived by. And that you will all live by what you believe in, but will be willing to listen to those who may not agree, and will be incredulous when confronted with the idea of complacency towards your lives and futures. What I hope this day means, overall, beyond the basic things like the state of the economy or healthcare, or any of the immediate policies and changes that are to come, is that there is a new era dawning in the life of US politics, in which people are willing an unafraid to hope, but more importantly, to act upon that hope, and each person will act without thinking to make this world the best place it can possibly be.

But no matter what happens from here, Ladie B, personally or politically, I am beyond happy to continue to thrive along with you, sharing small satisfactions that mean so much, watching you dance along while watching Dancing with the Stars with Nanna Marianna, watching you follow the puppy to figure out what she wants, watching you demand that Papa Scott should play his guitar for you, listening to you figure out how to call the cats by name, and most of all feeling the intense love in those amazing hugs of yours. We love you too, Cadence.

Love Always,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Look

As I alluded to a few days ago, Kate and I have been working on a new look for our blog. That new look has now been implemented, as you can probably see. I still need to work out a number of kinks... the biggest being that I had to go back to the classic template to make this work, but I liked the features our previous not-classic template offered. That, however, requires coding rather differently, and I haven't figured out how all that works yet. So, please, consider this a work in progress.

On the bright side, this new layout represents Kate and my first from-scratch layout. Kate and I worked together on design ideas in Photoshop, and then I used that design to create what you see here. This wasn't a perfect translation of our original idea, but yeah, work in progress and all that.

Hope you like it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Perhaps things are looking up...

I'm cautious to say too much, lest I invoke the evil Jinx, but I wanted to share a wee tidbit that feels like a sign of good MoJo...

A few weeks ago, James decided to try his hand at the Stacker game in the mall, and quickly realized that he had what it takes to beat it.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a (mostly*) skill-based arcade game in which you push a button to freeze moving blocks, the goal of which is to stack them all the way to the top of the screen, and successful players are heavily rewarded, often with prizes worth hundreds of dollars.

He's played now and again since that initial attempt, but tonight, (admittedly a bit high on possibility after successfully voting, [and making great progress with the new design for this blog he's been working on,]) he decided to take one more crack at it - and hit the jackpot.  

He had a choice between a bunch of high end goodies, including a PSP or a DS Lite, any one of which he could have kept for himself or sold for a pretty profit, but he opted instead to use his win to treat me to something special:  

Introducing, my very own ipod nano!  I'm very excited...the only ipod I've ever owned was a first generation ipod shuffle, which I got as a wrap gift on Freedomland. Thank you (and huge high-fives) to my wonderful husband.  I love you. :-)

(*it is rigged to only let people win like 1 out of 800 plays)

PS-the toaist in me, that believes that there is always a balance of 'good' and 'bad', believes that the passing of Obama's grandmother yesterday is actually a good sign, a final gift to her beloved grandson, the great loss to balance a great gain.  Here's hoping.

Election Day, 2008!

Today's the day, folks!  Happy voting!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A trip to Jackson's Orchard

A few weeks ago, we took a little trip to Jackson's Orchard, a really beautiful place that grows peaches, apples, pumpkins, and various other awesome stuff. They have a lot going on in these busy pre-holiday weeks. While we were there, we had cider, carmel apples, fried apple pie, cherry apple cider slushes...yes, this is the south, I had to adjust my we're-going-to-freeze-our-butts-off-and-then-warm-up-with-burning-hot-cider expectations to the nearly 90 degree weather and blaring sun. Though not quite the same, cider in slushie form was well appreciated.

They also had a petting politics on this subject are a separate post. But here is a sample of our experience:

Cadence communed with a goat!

And she saw llamas!

And got to see her first wallaby.

While we were visiting the rabbits, this sheep popped in to say hi! Cadie was a bit spooked at first.

but then she was really excited! here's what she has to say on the subject:


Then I got kicked by a rabbit. (and rightly so, good rabbit.)

and Cadence petted the pigs!

and she met a cow!

James even tried to feed the elusive moody teen, but it didn't seem to be hungry.

There was also a big castle made of straw bales to play in and climb all over!

We went on a hayride!

All in all, it was a great day.

Gratuitous cuteness. There was even a giant fluffy cat sitting behind her as she held court amongst the harvest.

I appreciated the use of the technical name on the sign for these red warty things.

Cadence watched the dog while mom paid for our wares.

And everyone picked out a pumpkin to take home and carve.

And here is the finished result!

The pictures, taken Halloween Night, didn't come out as well as I had hoped, but hey, its a transient medium, these pumpkins. They looked pretty cool, and we had a lot of fun creating them.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by James (Mr Hyde is a shadow on the wall behind the jack o lantern...unfortunately its hard to see in the pic.)

My wolf, howling at the moon. Can't see the stars here...oh well, no biggie.

Cadence's cat!

Kelly's vampire

Dad's Skull

and last but not least, we leave you with Mom's grim reaper.