Annoyances

in project: tough love, there are no winners

A little over a month ago, Brooklynn woke up unexpectedly during the middle of the night. She had been sleeping for around 9 hours each and every night since about 2 months of age. Pretty much every nurse, doctor, and anyone who has ever had children said that was amazing and we should consider ourselves blessed. And we took it for granted. Rhiannon went back to work, Brooklynn slept through the night, and we were a fully functional family unit.

So, when she woke up, she was a little over 4 months in age and we chalked it up to a growth spurt. We fed her a bottle, she took it down ravenously, and promptly passed out. She did this for about three nights.

Then, the middle of the night eating became more leisurely and the sleeping came more and more slowly each night. This was followed by two rounds of sickness, stuffy noses, coughing, and poor sleeping. We continued feeding her during the night when she woke up, but both Rhiannon and I knew at this point, we were enablers helping a strong habit forming behavior. Still, it's hard to ignore a sick baby, and if feeding helped her back to sleep, then feed we would.

It all led up to the point that we found ourselves bouncing her to sleep in our arms each night, rocking her to sleep in her car seat for daytime naps, and still getting up in the middle of the night.

It had to end.

Enter, Project: Tough Love.

We didn't go to Nebraska on Tuesday due to weather, so Rhiannon spent the day looking at strategies for getting a baby to sleep through night. We decided to stop feeding her in the wee hours, and we swore we would not pick her up and bounce her back to sleep. We figured if she normally woke up once at 3:50 am, we could handle a little crying if it payed off in the long run.

She went to sleep at 10pm. We went to sleep at 11:15. She was crying at midnight. What a wonderful start. Somehow, she knew what was coming.

I calmed her in her crib with the soothing hand on chest trick and some quiet words, and then I left the room. She cried for 4 minutes and fell asleep. No eating. No bouncing. No problems.

Project: Tough Love is awesome.

She woke up again at 2:50. And she cried, so we let her alone for a few minutes to see what would happen. She cried more. I went to the old standby of earlier in the night: a soothing hand and quiet words. She cried harder.

We left the room again.

We went back in and soothed. She was almost asleep, so we left again. She cried even harder.

At some point over an hour later, I was tired enough that I fell asleep while she was still crying. I hoped that it would be good in the long run, but listening to your child choke on her own tears while you lay wide awake at 4am is not anyone's idea of a good time.

After roughly 90 minutes, I picked her up. I bounced briefly. I used a pacifier and rocked her body in her crib. A blanket wrapped around the arms and lullaby later, she was passed out, probably more from her own exhaustion than anything I really did to help.

She woke up at 6:30 in the morning. Rhiannon fed her and she went back to sleep.  Night one of Project: Tough Love down.

That night in the trenches was far worse than I expected. I was ready for a half-hour of crying. I was ready to be awake. I was not ready to be awake three times for that length of time. Rhiannon and I were frustrated and snappy and not having a good time

I didn't feel like it helped us or helped her. But we vowed to continue on. Naps in the crib with no bouncing. We let her fall asleep on her own.

Last night, she slept.

All. Night. Long.

And it was wonderful. Rhiannon found a small pink hippo that has a music box in it and that seems to provide the perfect amount of sound to go to sleep by. Tonight, she put herself down without much fuss. One night does not a pattern make, but we have our fingers crossed.

As much as I was not ready to be up for over two hours that first night, I was certainly ready to be up for more than just the first night only. Having said this, I am reasonably certain that I will be up again tonight; this seems to be karma's M.O.

In Project: Tough Love, there is not a winner and loser. We're just one big team, one big happy (or not) family. We win or lose together.

Or one of us sleeps on the couch in the basement as far away from the crying child as possible. Yep, that person is the real winner here. I'll let you know if that's me.

she has an opinion

We should be sitting down right about now to hear a college jazz concert. Should being the operative word. Instead, we're at home due to a canceled concert andsome uncooperative weather. Brooklynn is not impressed, not one bit. In fact, she'd like to share her opinion of how things went down today. Take That!

I can only imagine what this will be like when she's 16. Help us all.

late starters

For as much as Rhiannon and I have traveled since we've been married and as much as our travels have often involved leaving at unholy hours of the morning, you'd think that we would learn to not pack so late into the night beforehand. Especially with a baby, right?  I mean, no one would leave everything until the last minute when a baby is involved, because that's just asking for trouble. Apparently, we not only like to have trouble over for dinner, we hand it the keys to the house as well.  Hey, we might just make it to bed before midnight if we're lucky.

I expect to hear Brooklynn waking up in about three hours. Why didn't she help? I was always under the impression that kids were supposed to do chores to pitch in.

troubleshooting: not just for electronics anymore

In college, I took fun classes - classes like "Analog Circuit Design" and "Digital Logic". We spent hours in labs designing, testing, operating, and, more often than I care to admit, troubleshooting circuits made of resistors, capacitors, and small chips thrown together on breadboards. If I learned one thing about trouble shooting, it's to only change one thing at a time. If you go make changes willy-nilly and suddenly the circuit started to operate correctly, then you still didn't know what was wrong to begin with. Either that, or it would get worse, something in front of you would start to smoke, and you couldn't even tell your displeased professor why you just ruined some circuit components.

How does this relate to me and my life today? No, I don't spend time at a lab bench trying to decode the small colored rings and figure out if it a 5.2 or 520 ohm resistor. I do, however, have a baby, a baby who is malfunctioning.

She's woken up for four straight nights to eat*. Growth spurt? Maybe. Room temperature changes? Maybe. Whatever it is, those red flashing lights in the wee hours of the morning aren't what we like to see.

We've changed how we wrap her up. We've moved back her bedtime a little later. We've played with the evening nap a little. So far, no success. Tomorrow night, we go back to prunes even if the poop remains soft.

We'll get past it, one change at a time. Unlike an electronics lab, the waiting 24 hours between trials makes for slow solution finding. Well, that, and the fact that a baby isn't quite as straightforward as a countdown timer. It's like she has thoughts and feelings or something like that. And she didn't come with an owners manual. Even if she is defective, Rhiannon and I have decided to keep her.

We'll just charge her hourly for those midnight feeding sessions and take it out of her college fund.

*Brooklynn, if you are reading this, thank you for always eating efficiently and going back to sleep without much fuss. If you are going to wake up during the night, please continue this behavior. But please, don't feel that you would miss out on anything if you don't wake up. Your mother and I are not doing anything more exciting than sleeping. Honest.

change isn't always for the better

I don't like to get into politics too much on this site, because, when it comes to opinions, I think everyone is entitled to one and, last time I checked, arguing on the Internet rarely solves anything.  However... We found out that the school board election in Rhiannon's school district, the one in which over half the school board was up for vote, did not go the way the teacher's union wanted. The new members are conservatives who ran on a platform that teachers are overpaid and schools would be better off as charter schools run by parents.

I think it might be time to consider a different school district. At least we have a few years before Brooklynn actually goes to school; we can assess how much things have gone downhill at that point.

quick change

As much as I complain about the weather (either it's too hot, cold, windy, or it's just too perfect and I have nothing to complain about), I do like to live in a place with four actual seasons. Especially when they are seasonal and have a gradual and predictable progression. Well, maybe not predictable, because then I suppose weather forecasters would be right once in a while.

Last Sunday, we walked up to the grocery store in shorts and t-shirts and Brooklynn in her stroller with no blanket.  It was in the 80s.

On Tuesday, it was chilly, overcast, and rainy. I had an idea of what was coming and decided to get the raking done for the leaves that had fallen from the previous cold snap.

Time to Rake

I'm pretty sure at least one of my neighbors now thinks I'm crazy for taking pictures of a row of leaves in a cold drizzle. About 24 hours later...

Winter Wonderland

This picture was actually taken at 8:30 at night while it was still snowing. You can see the glow from the yard lights on the fence. The long exposure blurred out any actual flakes, but they continued to come down well into the evening, otherwise known as way after the forecasters said the system would be gone.

I think we're packing up Brooklynn's dresses and flimsy outfits for good at this point. She's close to outgrowing most of them anyway, which means that Rhiannon needs to do clothes shopping again sometime. (Note that I said clothes, not shoes. Rhiannon, this means you, pay attention.)

congestion, and i don't mean traffic

This past weekend was the first in about a month that we have just been at home as a family without traveling or going in to work, so we all celebrated by getting sick. No, not flu sick (swine, H1N1, or otherwise), but head cold, sinus congestion sick. Including the three month who lives with us.

Rhiannon has been fighting off a runny nose for the past few weeks (thanks, Sarah), but this was the first round of it really hitting either me or Brooklynn. As bad as I felt over the past few days, I don’t think I can top the sympathy factor of a baby who:

a) can’t breathe through her nose while she tries to suck on a bottle. b) wakes up with one eye completely crusted shut. c) doesn’t know enough to be able to blow her own nose and has to endure us sucking mucus out with a nasal aspirator.

When she’s in a good mood, the nose sucking is kind of fun and a reason to smile. When she isn’t feeling well, it’s just one more thing that makes her cry. When we get to the point of crying, a lot of time the only thing that will soothe her is a bottle (which she can’t drink very well – see point a above) or to be held and walked.

I’d like to think that she responds to the love we exude and the calming influence being embraced has on her, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she just really enjoys being able to both drool and leak snot on us at the same time.

the war on babies (or terror)

As you know, this past weekend, we traveled up to North Dakota via plane with a baby. It worked out well to not feed her until we boarded, so that was the plan again as we headed home. And we thought it was going to be great. We walked to the security line, saw it had four people in it, and decided to wait until it got a little shorter. We used the bathroom before our trip, we changed a diaper, and then we realized that along with our flight, one of the other major flights of the day also left around the same time. There are maybe six big flights each day. Why are two of them right on top of each other?

The security line did not get shorter, but we had to go through, so we got in line. We all like to wait in line, right?

Brooklynn does not like to wait in line. She does not like to stand still when there might be places to go or things to see, especially when she is getting hungry. Don’t make her hungry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s hungry.

I don’t know how other babies behave when hungry. Maybe they give a little warning, like soft, intermittent crying or an unhappy expression for a while, or maybe, when they’re older, they just yell, “Mom, meatloaf!” Brooklynn doesn’t believe in warnings. She will get a concerned look for around 10 seconds before launching the full out “I’ve waited long enough feed me now” verbal barrage.

We were only halfway through the security line when the crying began. Judging from how fast the line was moving (it didn’t seem like it was moving at all for the most part), we just decided to mix up a bottle right there and start feeding her, because bouncing and rocking were not working and I didn’t think the other people around us should have to tolerate a screaming baby anymore than they needed to.

We get the bottle out, mixed, and start feeding. We get to the security screening and go through process of removing shoes, pulling out computers, and unloading the water for her formula. We did this same process in Denver and breezed right through, no questions asked. Here is the baby; here is the formula for the baby. It all checks out.

Could the screeners in Denver have done extra tests on our water? Yes, and we knew it and would have been fine with it, but they didn’t. The screeners in Bismarck did. The test involves taking a strip of pH paper, opening the bottle of liquid, and holding the paper over the top to get a vapor sample.

They also took the bottle of formula Brooklynn was eating from. Remember when the test for baby formula use to be you had to take a drink of it? She was drinking. Right there in front of her. And they took it away to send through the x-ray machine and do a vapor test. Brooklynn is a pretty well-mannered and even-tempered baby, but nothing pisses her off quite like having her food taken away before she’s done.

Seriously, are we feeding illegal substances to our baby just to get through security with them? I understand the security personnel were following through on all of the protocol, but I’m also pretty sure that one of them watched us mix the bottle and start feeding her while we were one row back in the line. They also wanted to take her socks that look like slippers off, because who knows what you might have in a babies socks. Let’s all use some common sense.

On a lighter note, Grace and Jacoby were very excited to see their baby cousin again.

Excited Cousins

Yeah, they were that excited.

And it seemed like Brooklynn like to hang with them, too. We drove about 70 miles with Dalon and Lynn with Grace, Jacoby and Brooklynn across the back row of their Suburban. Apart from the one time that Brooklynn spit up a little, they all played very well together for the hour drive. Considering that Grace and Jacoby will have a new baby sibling in a half year or so, the fact that they can behave well around small humans has to be a relief to their parents.

Sitting on the Couch

(We just won’t say anything about how Jacoby almost fell on top of Brooklynn trying to get close to her while she was in the bath. No harm, no foul.)

terrible twos?

Brooklynn is well into her second month of life, and of late, has been a little bit cranky and fussy about it.  Not crying for three hours with no reason other than she knows it would drive us crazy cranky (that's called colic), but enough that is had made for some very long days for Rhiannon.  She is still sleeping well enough at night, but during the day, she will wake up out of a dead slumber the minute you try and set her down.  I think she can sense when a person thinks about putting her down and gets restless from the brain waves we put out. I don't think either of us realized how time consuming it is to go through the "is she hungry, wet, tired, too hot, to cold...?" routine many times a day every day.  Babies don't have weekend.  They don't work 9 to 5 and take the evening off.  They don't get excited about a new episode of Wipeout on TV.  In fact, they don't care much about anything except a clean diaper, a full belly, a good amount of sleep, and someone paying attention to them.

And to be honest, sometimes it's the paying attention that's the hardest part, because after a while, it just gets a little old talking to a baby who shows no signs of even registering you are there, but who will cry if you leave.

And then, all of a sudden, that baby will look you directly in the eye, notice you are there looking back at her, and smile.

Happy Baby

And it makes it all oh so worth it.

weekend update

This weekend we

  • experienced our first case of projectile vomiting over the burp rag under her head and all over the blanket that just came out of the closet.  Rhiannon and I were both on the couch when a small geyser of curdled milk erupted in front of us.
  • waited until 10:30 pm on a Saturday night to have the first awake and happy time of the whole day.  Come to think of it, that sounds like a lot of college weekends for me.
  • laid Brooklynn on her stomach and saw her pick up her head enough to turn the other direction.  Hooray for checking off baby milestones and overachieving parents living vicariously through their children.
  • made brownies.  Parents need to indulge sometimes too.
  • got Rhiannon out of the house, showered and everything.  Ok, we went to Home Depot for cleaning products, but still.
  • left Brooklynn at home with me while Rhiannon went shopping for two hours.  Brooklynn slept the entire time, and aside from the fact I was about to go out running before I remembered that I was watching a baby, I failed to see what is so hard about staying home alone with her.
  • found out first hand how a fussy baby who wakes up every time she is set down and cries for no apparent reason, loudly, right in my ear, is not fun.  I get how staying home alone with her is taxing.
  • hung out as a family.  I'm digging the whole parenting experience.  A neighbor told us that the first 11 years a easy and then it gets "sketchy", as his kids put it.  At least we have a little bit of the good time left, right?

All in a few days. It's all very exciting; even Brooklynn thinks so when she isn't crying.

Whoa!

awake and unhappy with her surroundings

Stop and Smell the Flowers I'm not going to say that Brooklynn has become troublesome, because for the vast majority of every day, she's a wonderful baby.  She sleeps, she eats, she lays on the floor and kicks.  About the worst thing she does is fill her diaper up with some weird substance that looks a little bit like spoiled mustard with some blended raisins thrown in for good measure, and aside from the fact that either Rhiannon or I have to wipe that weird substance off her butt at random times throughout the day and night, she does pretty well.

Except around the time we try to put her to sleep for the night, as in the time that we are both reaching the point of delusion and need to pass out ourselves.  Then it's time to be fussy and Miss CriesAlot.  The thing is, she knows she's tired.  We know she's tired.  The neighbors know she's tired.  I'm pretty sure her screams let someone in the Pentagon know she's tired.

I think we figured out that she's also running on about half a tank of food around this time as well.  The problem is, "the buffet", which it provides wonderful food, is also extremely comforting.  So comforting, that Brooklynn falls asleep well before she is actually finished eating.  As long as one of us holds her, she sleeps, but the instant we try to lay her down in her crib, the National Security Threat Level Orange screaming begins.

We gave in and gave her formula.  Last line of defense against the terror sirens.  It worked.

We're going to bed - goodnight.

Kicking

What! Me, fussy?  Never.

things I learned from a baby

Brooklynn is now a little over two weeks old, or fewer days than I have years on this planet, but she is already teaching me a few things.

  1. If you cry hard enough to turn not only your face but your entire torso a beet red shade and then top it off with a little forgetting to actually take a breath in from time to time, people tend to pay attention.
  2. Baths are torture.
  3. You can test the responsiveness of the people caring for you by fake crying once in a while.  If they tease you about the lack of real crying, they are probably your parents.  If they try to console you or offer you food, they are probably relatives.  If they offer you their car, bank account, or a fully funded college tuition, they are terrified of babies and will do anything to keep you from crying.  If they hand you immediately back to Mom or Dad, you lose.
  4. Burping is optional.  Hiccuping is not.
  5. Nothing is quite as soothing as a fresh meal straight from Mom for helping a person to calm down, although you shouldn’t be above checking out random nearby chests to see if they have anything to offer.  (Sadly, they never do…)
  6. The best time to spit up food is right after you put on new clothes or get laid down on something that your parents don’t want to get dirty.
  7. Smile after you spit up on something important, even if you don't know what a smile actually is.  No one can stay mad at a smiling baby.
  8. The best time to poop is right after a diaper change.  Fresh diaper, it feels glorious.
  9. The best position to poop is lying on your right side with your legs stuck straight out.
  10. Don’t settle in to eat too quickly; it’s ok to play with your food a little.  And when you finally do decide to take a few sucks, get so excited about that you forget to coordinate your breathing and swallowing.  If you cough of choke a little, someone will help you out.
  11. Never sleep more than three hours in a row, because, duh, you might miss something exciting.
  12. Nothing exciting happens in the middle of the night.  Trust me, we are all up and awake enough to confirm this.
  13. Babies couldn’t care less about what they wear as long as they are ok on temperature.  Women love to dress up babies in “adorable” clothes.  Babies have no money.  Women have unlimited money when it comes to babies.  There’s a fortune to be made here if I could just figure out how to get in on the action.
  14. Growing up is hard work.  It’s ok to cry once in a while and let it all out.

Did I forget something?  Let me know in the comments.

war on nature

No Release Candidate yet, and while we're waiting, the wildlife around the house is getting on Rhiannon's nerves. The rabbits, who have no natural predators, have taken a liking to her flower beds in the front of the house and seem to delight in biting off the buds.  Not to eat or anything, but just because.  The rabbits may have a natural predator in human form very soon if they aren't careful.

In the garden, birds have been taking our strawberries before they are ready to pick.  Wire cage over strawberry plants: check.

Finally, we had a small pillbug infestation in the garden.  While the name says bug, they are really crustaceans and they eat plants, and fast.  They like decomposing matter (mulch and compost in garden, yep got that) and damp conditions (it has seemed that we live in Seattle more than Denver as of late).  They also took out half the bean plants and a third of the marigolds in the garden before we got a handle on the situation.  Our local nursery suggested a bait that dries them out and kills them.  A few days later and everything is recovering nicely.

We like nature.  Really we do.

We just don't like when nature messes with our yard and we tend to fight back.  Nature better watch itself.

step back and maintain some perspective

Yes, I'm  a little behind.  This was from three weeks ago and I'm just getting to it now.  Rhiannon got out of school after a half day today because of snow.  When I left work this afternoon, it was raining.  No snow.  By the time I got home, I was driving through over a foot of white stuff and it is still coming down.  Amazing what an 800 foot rise in elevation will do. -----------------

Three weeks ago, on a Thursday, I left work early. The Denver Police Department had asked business to start letting employees go home to avoid a huge rush during the “Blizzard of 2009!!” [cue dramatic music].

Yes the roads were bad, but they were drivable. Yes, the wind was blowing, but it wasn’t snowing that hard anymore. And yes, I’m glad I left when I did. I talked to one person at work who took the same stretch of interstate that I did. It took me a half hour to go about 5 miles. I took him almost 2 hours to go three miles.

The weather forcasters predicted it would happen, and after our winter of mild temperatures and little to no precipitation, some of them seemed downright excited to have something dramatic to cover. One can only talk about 70 degree weekends in mid-March for so long apparently before the monotony begins to threaten sanity.

I woke up on Thursday expecting snow but there was nothing on the ground yet. Almost all the school districts chose to trust the weathermen and called of school for the day.  The pictures below are about 8:30 am to 1:00 pm.

Lot 1 Lot 2

Lot 3

So it did snow. More snow than we’ve had all year combined I think. I believe the family we have in North Dakota would refer to it as a light dusting at this point.

And of course, I needed to capture what the roads were like as well.

Highway Road 2

I guess this makes me the crazy guy taking pictures while driving 5 miles an hour on treacherous road conditions. I can’t tell you how many white knuckles were out there. I’m an advocate for caution on slippery roads, but I’m also an advocate for driving 12 miles in less than 6 hours if at all possible.

Again, for people in North Dakota this year, I think these conditions are a pleasant Sunday drive.

I finally had to work a little to shovel. At one point on Thursday afternoon, the snow decided to fight me while I was outside – there was a good half inch of snow at the top of the driveway by the time I shoveled all the way down to the bottom. The work was worth it on Friday morning when I didn’t have to clear all 15 inches at once.

I guess I just need a pickup and blade parked in the garage to push the snow off in situations like these.

DSC_4502 DSC_4507

DSC_4512

Yes, they are driving down a sidewalk trail.  I really have to do this sometime late at night.  Maybe without the snow.

------------------

I'm avoiding shoveling right now.  It's coming down far faster than I could keep up with and I just don't feel like it.  As much as I wasn't ready to shovel in March, I'm even less excited about it in April.  Yes, we really needed the moisture.  I would have taken a nice 36 hour rain.  Is that too much to ask?  Less wind than last time but a lot more snow, at least at our house.

Next Tuesday, we're supposed to be in the 70s.

you actually plan on going out like that?

In a few weeks, Rhiannon and I will be in Minnesota for all of about 36 hours to go to a wedding reception.  And then, a few months from now, we'll have a graduation to attend.  Rhiannon thought that maybe she would think about getting a maternity dress to wear for those occasions, since Beta is starting to get in the way of many of her regular clothes. She's been looking online for a week or so and found  couple dresses she liked that were sold out in her size and couple dresses that might be cute in person.  When it comes to shopping the unknown, I agree that in person is always the way to go.  So today, we headed to the mall.  You know, the collection of all kinds of stores along with some big name-brand 3-story department stores guaranteed to have everything you want and then some.

Because, we live in Denver, which just had the Democratic National Convention last fall and likes to boast about how hip and upcoming it is.  We have one of the larger malls in the state near our house, so of course we can find a simple maternity dress, right?

"No, we never picked up a maternity line of clothing here."

"Yeah, it's on our website, but we don't carry that in the store."

"Um, I think that store over there might carry some."

Looking at about three racks of shirts that I don't think anyone should wear, ever. "This is it; yeah, it's kind of small."

We finally located the one specialized maternity clothing store in the mall (5 major department stores later) only to hear their selection is pretty picked over right now.  But they are suppose to get a shipment in early next week and they can order anything in for free.

So we returned home, empty-handed and with the feeling that most clothing stores think, "Don't pregnant women just wear some baggy T-shirts until they get put on bedrest for the last three months anyway?"

you've been summoned

Sometime in January, I received a piece of mail that had my name and address the words “Jury Summons” written on the front of it. I’m pretty sure my initial reaction was somewhere along the lines of crap, because jury duty isn’t supposed to be any fun and it wastes a perfectly good day at… work.

Other than the fact that you actually have to miss work (or a day off if you’re not working), it’s great.  If you don’t like your job, even better.  A paid day not to go to work.  Perfect.  I received a jury notice once before, except I was around 700 miles away going to college when they wanted me to show up.  At least they were understanding and dropped my requirements.

On Tuesday morning, I had my filled out form in hand and drove to the county courthouse.  They have a radio-frequency body scanner, which means that your belt and shoes are fine to leave on but the couple dollars in your back pocket is going to have to be removed.

They had another form to fill out and we waited in large room.  There was a video about the jury process with some people who looked a little too excited to be on camera for a county government production.

I’m guessing the room started with about 300 people in it, and slowly, name by name, people were called.  Some in large groups, some in smaller groups, but they were all making their way to jury selection processes.

After about 45 minutes, the lady who was calling the names said she needed to go check what was taking so long.  And the remaining thirty or so people including me sat.  She came back and said there were some issues with the trial and would be just a little bit longer.

And longer.

And we sat.

An hour later, they called of our names, said thank you very much for coming and you have fulfilled your jury obligation for this year.  They didn’t tell us what happened; we were just released back into the world a little bit sooner than anyone expected.

While I had no desire to be on a jury for a trial that lasted a few days, I was honestly looking forward to going through process a little more than just the first room.  It would have made for a better story than “Hey, remember when I had jury duty? Yeah, neither do I.”

a little bit scatter-brained, a lot relieved

This morning Rhiannon woke up and said she had her best night’s sleep in a while.  Yesterday, our high temperature for the day was one degree, and it was negative most of the day.  A week ago Tuesday morning, we had about 4 inches of snow.  I think all of these things are related. Last Friday, I got a phone call at my desk.  I seem to get a lot more of these calls when Rhiannon is out of school on her breaks, but this one was quite specific.  Had I seen her keys?

I took this to imply that she thought I had her keys with me, but I quick check of my pockets and coat proved that I was the proud owner of my own set of keys, a wallet, cell phone, and a little pocket lint.  No mistaken taking of the spouse’s keys here, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, that meant that she didn’t know where her keys were.  Usually, I am the one who loses things like that in the house. (See: How to lose your cell phone for three days  under the passenger seat of your wife’s car, only to have her finally find it for you written, edited, and masterfully executed by your’s truly.)

I have a bad tendency to scatter my daily possessions randomly throughout the house when I come home from work.  In a three room apartment, this wasn’t such a big deal, but in a larger house, it does make for some interesting mornings, especially when the house becomes cluttered and the missing item is required to start the car.

One of the contributing factors to Rhiannon not knowing where her keys were was the fact that she hasn’t had to leave the house during the day.  We go out in the evenings sometimes, but I’ve been driving and using my own keys.

So, from Friday, we started backtracking – when was the last time she drove without me.  Monday.  Was that the last time she had her keys?  No, she checked the mail on Tuesday during the day (the day there was snow).  And the worst part – she cleaned the house on Wednesday, so the clutter that so often plagues me was a non-factor in our search.

And we looked a little bit on Friday.  We went over all the normal areas, checked the pockets of every coat (including mine) downstairs, and looked around everywhere they might have been dropped.

Nada.

On Saturday, we started getting a little more serious, because it was going on 24 hours, and they weren’t turning up yet.  We walked the street and sidewalks between our house and mailbox, in case they were dropped and still laying out there.  I tried to figure out if a snow plow could have pushed a set of keys down the storm drain.  We started looking in weird places that keys would have no business being, like the lazy-susan in the kitchen and the basket we keep library books.

Nada.

On Sunday, I went back through the garbage bag that Rhiannon took out on Wednesday after cleaning.  We looked upstairs.  We looked downstairs.  We checked the basement.  We started discussing what was on her keychain and what we needed to replace in case she had dropped the keys outside and someone else had them.

The key-fob to her car could lead to the location of our house pretty easily.  Keys to the house, mailbox, and both cars…  in other words, we had some work to do to replace and reprogram everything.

Yesterday, Rhiannon called me to ask how thoroughly I had gone through the trash.  It was trash day, and our garbage bin was sitting out, with the possibility that the keys were in it.  So she decided to have a good look through everything, just for some peace of mind.

Being that it was cold out yesterday and she didn’t really want to sift through a week’s worth of trash in the house, she went upstairs to grab her warm winter jacket.  The same jacket that she put on a week ago when it was snowy out and she got the mail. The same jacket she put away back upstairs right after she got back in the house.  The same jacket she left her keys in and never checked the pockets.

Keys found.  Good night of sleep ensues.  One mind confirmed not crazy.  Merry early Christmas.

open mouth to do what?

I had my one week post-op visit this morning, and after the hole incident and my complete crazy episode following surgery last week, it looks like I’m progressing right on schedule.  I had pizza earlier this week and then lasagna last night.  Yeah, I’m well on my way to big boy food… I can work out, chew what I want, and generally resume mostly normal life now.  My gums are supposed to be healed in about a week from now, and the sutures are starting to dissolve and fall out, which is also normal.

The one thing that is not recommended is having any difference in pressure between sinuses and mouth.  No blowing up balloons.  No drinking milkshakes or anything thick through a straw.  No hard blowing of the nose. And no coughing or sneezing with a closed mouth.

I’ve never been quite as aware of exactly how much I might cough or sneeze.  I have not coughed once in the last week.  I’ve sneezed exactly twice – once two days ago and once this morning.

Both times I was chewing something.

I’m still undecided if putting my hand over my mouth and catching what comes out is worse than just letting it go.  It isn’t really pleasant either way.

(Just a side note - if you are reading this today or Saturday, check out the full moon.  It is the closest the moon gets to earth, and can be up to 14% bigger than other times. [MSN Article]

small bite, chew, rest, repeat

Solid food is good.  Chewing isn't as good, but it's worth it.  One can only take so much pudding and ice cream before sweets get to be too much (and yes, I did just say that there is such a thing as too much sweets). During the crazy that was last Friday, the whole that I mentioned felt huge.  And I'm pretty sure I felt it on Saturday morning while I was trying to eat some pudding for breakfast.  When we got to the dentist 20 miles later, no hole.  Plug nose, blow, nothing...

I guess the crazy finally wore off or a blood clot finally formed.  Either way, all seems good enough to last through the follow-up appoint this Friday.

I never really realized how much I appreciated food.  Real food.  Solid food.  Saturday was mostly soup, pudding, and ice cream.  I wasn't really that hungry anyway, maybe from the blood that was still oozing constantly in my mouth.

On Sunday, we moved up to kuchen bars and rice pudding.  And then, when things got really wild, I let some saltine crackers get soggy in my tomato soup.  And then I ate them.  If you've ever tried to chew soggy crackers with the front teeth in your mouth, I think you can sympathize with me.

I've been getting better daily, and I don't think I can complain too much.  The sockets are bleeding less each day and I haven't had excruciating pain anywhere.  I've been surprised at how much the lack of teeth has been aching over the past two days, but I guess that's why they invented painkillers.

Swelling was never too bad, which is why there never were pictures.  Really the worst thing that happened is my face looked a little full, kind of like I need to lay of the pudding for a while.  Funny how that happens.

Tonight, we did pizza.  And I ate it, except for the crust.  Slowly, and small bites at a time.  The one piece I ate took me about 20 minutes, and I'm pretty confident that it was about the best 20 minutes of my life.

we have great timing

Rhiannon and I are traveling for Thanksgiving to see my parents, and we decided to go by air.  Somehow, two thousand plus miles seemed a little excessive for a long weekend. Luckily, we aren't alone in our plans.  We will be traveling on the busiest and second busiest travel days of the entire year.  Basically, I take this to mean get there early and expect to stand in line.  A lot.  I just hope that there are parking spots available.

With the changes to baggage fees, carry-on luggage restrictions, and the general hassle that is airports, I kind of dislike flying, especially when the destination is close enough to consider driving.  It's one thing when it's a business trip and the company pays for it, but personal travel is a pain and it costs dollars.

Still, we grin and make the best of it.  DIA does have free WiFi and charging stations.  Maybe when we get their well in advance and everything goes smoothly, I'll have to write somthing from the airport itself.  Yeah, I won't hold my breath either.