Friday, September 10, 2010

Learning it all in kindergarten

Ethan will complete his 2nd week of Kindergarten this week, and I realized that he is now at an age that I also remember. I went to Kindergarten at Mrs. Wilkes which was a classroom in the back of her dentist husband's office in Twin Falls.

I was in the "morning" class like Ethan is, and I met kids in Kindergarten who I knew all through school and even college.

I doubt Ethan will have such lifelong acquaintances because today's world is so transitory. Age-old traditions of school boundaries seem blurred in the era of "school of choice, charter schools, magnet schools, on-line schools, etc."

But I digress. The biggest lesson I've learned -- this is my blog after all -- is that we evidently do need "stinkin' rules." I have read the Monroe Elementary School Handbook cover to cover several times. I know that at 10:15 every day, my son has recess. I know that he has PE one day, music one day, and art another day. What I didn't know -- because it's not covered in any written material nor is it posted anywhere on the school grounds or the parking lot -- is that there are strict rules about walking across the parking lot, riding one's bike on school grounds, etc.

The school utilizes a volunteer parent to essentially be the parking lot monitor ("Parking Nazi" is on the tip of my fingers as I type). The parent assigned is actually a neighbor and friend. However, on several occasions, she has taken us to task for what are evidently violations of some sort. "Some sort" because the rules aren't written or posted anywhere that I can find.

"How many times do I have to tell you NOT to walk across the parking lot?" Well, perhaps explaining it initially would be a start because the "many times" admonishment is not accurate. Oh, and, when you park on the street, get out of your vehicle, check for cars, walk through the really small parking lot between you and the small strip of grass where you have to wait for your kid, and the parking lot is virtually empty with no cars coming or going, what is the problem?

"You can't ride your bike in the parking lot!" So, a 5 year old, excited to ride his bike to school for the first time like a big boy with his new bike lock -- with his mother walking quickly behind -- rides down the public sidewalk, turns into the parking lot though completely hugging the outermost edge, and gets yelled at? Come on! Really? How about a quiet conversation first?

I'm all for safety. I'm fine with rules. I appreciate the responsibility of herding grade-schoolers. But there is also common sense and courtesy.

There was a cliche' ridden booked called "All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" that was quite popular years ago. I suspect it was in every Christmas stocking that winter and every yard sale table that summer. But, in the spirit of that book, what I've learned thus far about Ethan's Kindergarten experience is that there are unwritten rules, subjective interpretations, inconsistent enforcement, simmering resentments, power trips, and confusion. So, perhaps it is like life after all!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Ethan started Kindergarten today, and he has been excited for weeks.
On Friday, August 13, 2010, we picked Ethan up from the BSU Children’s Center for the last time. We cleaned out his “cubbie,” and he made sure we took his laminated name card tied to a basket with now frayed and faded yarn. He wanted to go out into the play ground where he frolicked for almost three years. He looked around and took a final spin on a beat up old tricycle (“Motorcycle Daddy!”) that he rode with speed and abandon. He wanted me to take a picture of him on it, and I did.

We walked past the reception area where he thanked Hob, the Center Director, and then we left through the “Magic Door” which is nothing more than a door for the disabled with a button to open it. Three years ago, that door was magic to a two year old. Now, it’s just a pleasant memory for him. We took a photo on the front step remembering how anxious all of us were when we first took him there in September of 2007 after a misstep at another preschool where the teacher was completely inappropriate. What a great and nurturing time we’ve all had at BSU.

We also took Ethan to Monroe Elementary earlier that week to see his new Kindergarten classroom. He walked all around the class, checked out the bathroom, the gym, and the play ground. He was excited to learn there will be 23 kids in his class because he is longing to find new friends in our area. He looks at Kindergarten as a new adventure filled with opportunity. I look at it as one more step toward me crying in the street as he drives off to college.
On August 24th, we attended an open house in his new class and had the opportunity to meet his new teacher, Miss Tori Doell. When his teacher and I looked at each other, we both laughed because we attended BSU together MANY years ago. "Miss Doell" was my college biology partner, and, as new Kindergartners swarmed around her, I whispered to her, "I hope you're not going to try teaching science because you weren't very good at it!" We both laughed.
The laughter and knowing his teacher takes away some of the normal apprehension I had as we dropped him off this morning, August 25th, for his first day. He is eager to make new friends, and he started introducing himself to other kids. He turned to go into his classroom, but ran back and kissed me on the check excitedly saying "Bye Daddy!" He quickly hugged his mom, and he was gone.
Miss Doell noted the tears in my eyes and said, "I'll take good care of him for you." She said that about our Biology starfish 25 years ago too!

Friday, July 23, 2010



PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: On April 3, 2009, United States’ President Barack Obama gave a speech in Strasbourg, France to German and French students where he offered an apology for the Bush era, declaring that America had “shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” towards its allies.

SECRETARY OF STATE DEAN RUSK: President John F. Kennedy’s Secretary of State Dean Rusk was in France in the early 60's when French President Charles de Gaulle decided to pull out of NATO. de Gaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.Rusk responded, "Does that include those who are buried here?” de Gaulle did not respond.

SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: When in England, at a fairly large conference, President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if the United States’ plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush. Powell answered, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

BOEING ENGINEER: There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying 'Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?'A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly, “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people. They are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities. They have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day. They can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships. How many does France have?”

UNITED STATES ADMIRAL: A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?” Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, “Maybe it's because the Brit's, Canadians, Aussie's and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.”

D-DAY VETERAN: A few years ago, Robert Whiting, an elderly American of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on."You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

The American said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

"Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France !"

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ''Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tree Houses and Oceans

Recently, I was getting Ethan ready to head to pre-school, and he said, "Daddy, why don't YOU go to school, and I will go to work! How 'bout that Daddy?" There are some days I would prefer to go back to my days in school when life seemed somehow more simple and secure.

Ethan is fast approaching August 25th when he enters Kindergarten leaving behind the BSU Childrens' Center where he has developed and been nurtured for almost three years now. Somehow Kindergarten seems to be the kick-off to a hectic life of deadlines and rushing around...the merry-go-round of life that is unrelenting. I'm enjoying immersing myself in his childhood because I know how fleeting the time will be.

"Fleeting" because my 85 year old stepdad, Karl -- the greatest man I have ever been blessed to know -- is faltering. I'm 36 years younger than he is. When I'm 85, Ethan will be 42 years old. Will he look back on his years with me as fondly as I do of my years with Karl? I hope so. It won't be from lack of me trying. I spend as much time with him as possible, and 2010 will go down in our family history as one busy year! The memories we are making!

In March, we spent over a week in Florida completely immersed in the Disney experience down to the hotel, meal plan, transportation, etc. It was awesome. Ethan got to be Jedi, a pirate, and had a great time.

In July, we spent time in Oregon...exploring Portland's zoo and the Oregon Museum of Science and Technology. This was followed by a few days on the Oregon Coast where Ethan ran into the ocean for the first time with complete abandon and delight...a trait he exhibits in most of his life.

Ethan and Daddy also built a tree house in the backyard this year. As we progressed, his plans for the structure matched his vivid imagination, and we laughed and laughed. One evening when his mom escaped for some well-deserved "Mommy time," Ethan helped carry boards, picked up scraps, screwed in decking screws, etc. He asked at least 5 times that "This is actually kinda fun isn't it Daddy? You and me?"
It was. It always will be.

Next we're off to McCall for a weekend and then head to Coeur d'Alene where Mommy and Daddy participate in the Idaho Governor's Cup while Ethan impatiently waits for a visit to Silverwood.

Making memories. That's what it's all about. I have such great memories of Karl, and I hope Ethan's memories of me are just as special.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Old Age is Catching Up to Me"

"Old age is catching up to me" is the most my beloved step-dad has said to me in the past couple of weeks. He whispered it to me with a vacant stare on Friday, May 14th in a doctor's office in Twin Falls where we were hoping for positive news after what appears to have been a stroke of some sort.
Karl has always been such an incredible man...strong of spirit, body, and mind. To see this incredible man struck by hearing loss and macular degeneration is bad enough, but to witness the destruction of a stroke (as well as what appears to have been a heart attack) is heart breaking beyond words. There is nothing more to say.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Relative Health?"

Have you ever noticed that when you go to your doctor, you routinely have to “update your paperwork” and answer questions about your “relative health?”

I’ve thought a lot about that lately because there seems to be a cloud above the Dunham household meaning someone is always sick. As Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always something.”

Today, I had to fill out sheets of paperwork at a physical therapist’s office. I remembered a friend who called them “physical terrorists,” and today I wondered if it had to do with the paperwork. I was referred to the therapist by my regular doctor who was treating me for an ear ache (more on that later).

During the course of the regular doctor’s visit for my ear, in response to a question about “is anything else bothering you,” I remembered my right heel had been hurting a lot. So…off to see another doctor.

I pride myself on being an informed consumer of health care. I also pride myself on being relatively healthy. I don’t take many daily pills with the exception of Prilosec (more on that later) and fiber (more on that later). I do take a multi-vitamin and a baby aspirin because I read once they help. Because I turned 49 a few weeks ago, I feel lucky about my “relative health.”

“Relative Health?” That term again.

Today, as I filled out the paperwork, I had to respond again to the “How is your relative health” question. As I filled out the paper work and then responded to the doctor’s inquiries, I find myself thinking “Oh. Yeah. There is that. And there is this.” So, relatively speaking, though I think I’m in pretty good health for a 49 year old, I can’t help but consider that I seem to have had a lot of unusual health stuff. As Frank Sinatra sang in an old hit from the 40’s, “Everything happens to me.” Here are those ironic, iconic lyrics:

I make a date for golf -You can bet your life it rains.
I try to give a party -And the guy upstairs complains.
I guess I'll go thru life;Just catchin' colds and missin' trains,
Ev'rything happens to me.I never miss a thing,
I've had measles and the mumps.
And ev'ry time I play my ace -My partner always trumps.
I guess I'm just a fool;Who never looks before he jumps,
Ev'rything happens to me.

So, what happens to me? Let’s see:

Pneumonia: Some of my earliest memories include having pneumonia. I remember a trip to the hospital as an infant. I suspect I’ve had pneumonia at least 10 times in my life. The only thing more common than pneumonia for me is bronchitis. I could attract seals at Sea World I cough so much.

Whooping Cough: In December, 2008, I was coughing a lot, and I just couldn't seem to shake what I assumed was another bout of bronchitis. During a car ride in Washington DC where I was attending a meeting, my cell phone rang, and my doctor asked me if it was a "good time to talk." Recognizing my doctor NEVER has called me, I said, "Sure" even though I was in a carfull of strangers whom I had just met. He asked me a series of questions that required a verbal response. As my phone conversation continued, I noticed the conversation in the car had stopped...mainly at about the time I said "Whooping Cough? No way? I thought that was eradicated like small pox." He assured me that the signs were there but the final test to confirm would need to be reported to the CCDC and result in me being quarantined. We decided to avoid that final step so I could avoid official quarantine, but I chuckled at the idea of a quarantine considering I was crammed uncomfortably into a Ford Explorer in the nation's capitol. He reassured me that I was not contagious -- any longer -- but should avoid crowded public places. I replied "Such as Reagan International Airport and a long flight home in a metal tube?" He said, "Well, yes." I left for the airport soon after feeling like a TSA flight risk.

Earaches: I had chronic ear infections throughout my early life. Some of my earliest memories of are praying my ear drums would rupture so the pain would go away. I will always remember my mom holding me, rocking me in the dark, trying to soothe away my tears and the ear aches with hot packs and softly singing to me. In Third Grade, I was diagnosed with a hearing loss attributed to the severe earaches I suffered. I don’t know if the diagnosis was correct. The doctor and his nurse scared the hell out of me as I was trapped in foul-smelling testing booth where I had to press a silent buzzer when I heard tones. I remember pressing at random because I was scared and wanted out of there. The ear aches subsided through the years, and I haven’t had an infection until recently (Ah…more on that later).

Tonsils: When I was 4, I had my tonsils out because it was thought that would help alleviate my earaches. Maybe it did. I don’t remember ear aches too often after that. It was my first over-night visit in a hospital, and I remember I lived on ice cream for days afterward.

Knees: Thinking I was the next Olympic skier, I found no reason to be cautious – nor courteous – on the slopes when I was a kid. As a result, on January 13, 1973, I was in an accident at Magic Ski Hill near Twin Falls where I tore ligaments in my left knee. I compounded that injury by years in my teens and early 20’s when I was a carpet installer extraordinaire and rebuffed protective knee pads. When you’re young, you are bullet proof after all. In 1988, I remember walking up some stairs and hearing an odd creak. I assumed it was the stair treads. I realized later it was my knees. They still ache almost every day.

Back: I thought nothing of lifting carpet rolls by myself during my heralded carpet career. Having been diagnosed at one point with disc related issues in my back due to carpet, I continue to have back pain.

Sinuses: From 1984 until now, I have been on more airplanes than I can count for business and pleasure. For years, I suffered from chronic sinus infections, and routinely popped Sudafeds hours before flights to assure I wouldn’t suffer acute sinus pressure. Once landing at Reagan International Airport in DC, the pressure in my sinuses was so bad, I thought I would die. When they finally popped as we landed, the shrill whistle was so audible that a seat mate asked if I was OK. So, in July, 1994, I had an out-patient operation on my sinuses to remove a “forest of polyps.” In other words, they scraped my sinuses. They even video-taped the procedure and some of my friends watched the tape at a party.

Teeth: I have the fortune of having great teeth. Every visit to the dentist finishes with “keep doing what you’re doing.” I have the misfortune, however, of having what is known as “Dental Tori” which is defined by Wikipedia as “bony prominences over hard palate in the mid palatine region or in lower jaw it can be present at premolar region upon gums.” In other words, I have too much bone in my mouth.

As a kid, I remember dreading dental X-Rays because of the intense pain. My childhood dentist would basically just snap my jaw shut, and the X-Ray appliance would cut into my gums and bone. It wasn’t until I was older and found my own dentist in Boise that my condition was explained. Now they are more careful with X-Rays. That same childhood dentist also spent considerable time removing teeth from my head when he should have put me in braces. The summer between 4th and 5th grade is filled with memories of Novocain, needles, blood, and dry sockets as they removed 4 baby teeth and 4 permanent teeth to make room for what I remember being characterized as “excess teeth.” Who knew that year later I would pay for that dentist’s decision with my first major surgery – sinuses aside!

TMJ: In the late 80’s, a childhood friend of mine opened his orthodontic practice, and in about 1993, I decided I had this one little crooked tooth that needed to be straightened. I saw him, and the discussion turned to my jaws. I had always joked about not having a chin but having a double chin at the same time. Turns out that all of those teeth extracted between 4th and 5th grade served a purpose: They would have aligned my jaw correctly – had they still be in my head along with all of that excess bone. In their absence, I suffered chronic jaw pain (I thought it was normal), and my jaw was receding due to the improper bite. So, in November of 1994, I had major reconstructive surgery on my face to realign my jaw. I have metal plates in my jaw and will always wear a wire bracket behind my upper and lower front teeth. I don't set of metal detectors, and my son likes to try to feel the bumps of the screws through my skin.

Esophagitis: In about 1998, I had the misfortune of getting something stuck in my throat and vomiting at a work-related banquet in Whitefish, Montana. The misfortune wasn’t just the social blunder but rather the subsequent diagnosis of “Esophagitis” which is defined as a “general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus, the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach. Symptoms may include:
· Difficulty swallowing
· Painful swallowing
· Heartburn (acid reflux)”

Though I never felt heart burn, evidently, stomach acid was corroding my esophagus. I had a procedure in 1998 and again last year to open up my esophagus, and I get to take Prilosec to help control the condition – and to avoid further social faux pas.

Diverticulitis: I had never heard that term until about 2000 when my doctor told me that my chronic (I use that term a lot) lower left quadrant pains were the result of diverticulosis and diverticulitis. What are those? Well, Wikipedia says: “Diverticulosis refers to a condition in which the inner, lining layer of the large intestine (colon) bulges out (herniates) through the outer, muscular layer. These outpouchings are called diverticula. Diverticulitis refers to the development of inflammation and infection in one or more diverticula.”

My doctor assured me that, while unusual at my age, it was something that might get worse with age…perhaps in my 60’s. Unfortunately, by 2005 – when I was 44 -- the condition had deteriorated to the point of needing a “sigmoid colectomy” on October 5, 2005 where 10 inches of my colon were removed. So, I now answer to the name “Semi-Colon.” And I take fiber pills daily.

Evidently, it runs in families. My father died at 63 when I was 32 so, 12 years later when I needed surgery, I was surprised to find out from a family friend who knew my dad that he had it as well. Nice.

Damn Bugs: I’ve never experienced hay fever so allergies are foreign to me. However, in the summer between 4th and 5th grade (and, evidently in between having teeth ripped from my head), I was chasing a neighbor named Julie Wills in a field near our elementary school. I got stung on the right cheek by a bee, and my right eye swelled shut and I got the hives. Fast forward over 30 years, and I almost keeled over in Minnesota after being stung by what turns out to have been some sort of wasp. I’m literally deathly allergic to wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. So, I am undergoing 5 years – yes years – of shot therapy to simply desensitize me to those damnable bugs. And I get to carry an Epi Pin with me everywhere I go.

Gout: About four years ago, my big toe on my right foot started to throb, and I thought I had perhaps broken it. I’d broken a toe before actually: my little toe on the right foot…the one the doctor wanted to amputate at my birth because it was bent over my foot. My mother refused, and I had to wear some sort of therapeutic device and suffer the embarrassment of having my mother disclose the situation to every frigging shoe salesman until, in 9th grade, I said “Enough!” But, I digress.

So, the doctor looks at my big toe and asks if I “eat a lot of red meat and drink a lot of red wine.”

Ah. “No!” Hate wine. Eat red meat in moderation.

Nevertheless, turns out I suffered from the “rich man’s condition known as gout.”

Gout? I thought that was some medieval thing like the Black Plague that had been eradicated with the dawn of the Renaissance. Nope. I had gout. Turns out my oldest brother gets it as well. So, a bottle of foreign looking green pills later, gout is gone. No reoccurrence in years. I still don’t like wine.

Sleep Apnea: Yep. I snore. Everyone knows it. Everyone who has had the misfortune to be around me when I sleep knows it. As a result, I won’t sleep on airplanes. I hate camping out with friends. I know my dad snored a lot. Anyway, for a lot of reasons, I underwent a sleep study. Yep. Sleep apnea. I never go into a deep sleep resulting in not only snoring but exhaustion. And I thought it was just being old! So, now, not only do I get to sleep with my wonderful patient wife, but I get to sleep with a little machine on my night stand that makes me look like Darth Vader to my wife and son. It does wonders for spontaneity and romance by the way….

So, we return to this month and the beginning of this long story about my “relative health.” My wife – who never gets sick – caught some bug resulting in a sore throat. My son – recently diagnosed with asthma (and I’m hoping is not destined to follow me down any chronic roads) – has been sick also. Of course, I caught it. Or caught something. So, at the urging of my wife, off to the doctor I go. I have my first official ear infection in years. 10 days of antibiotics later, no relief. So, I head back to the doctor. She looks in my right ear and confirms some fluid buildup.

After looking in my left ear, she asks, “Are you a swimmer?”

I reply, “No.”

She then asks, “Do you work in an onion packing shed?”

Hmmm…let me think on that one. “No.”

“Hmm,” she continues, “normally we see this related to those. You have a fungus growing in your left inner ear canal.”

Great news. I’m growing my own salad bar.

When I arrive home with my expensive prescription ear drops, my normally sympathetic wife snorts with laughter. After putting in the drops, she reads me the prescription warnings and her ad-libbed “may cause a mushroom to grow out of your head.” She doubled up with laughter again.

I married a comedienne…..

Later this week, I have to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist to determine why the fungus will not go away. At least it’s not a crouton I suppose.

Tendonosis: During the doctor visit where she discovered a scallion growing in my head, the doctor concluded by asking if there is anything else bothering me. Well, the economy, Obamacare, the weather during my son’s T-Ball games, losing my hair, etc. came to mind, but I did remember my right heel had been hurting.

She referred me to a physical therapist. What the hell. What’s another doctor? So, I had an appointment today. Where I filled out more paperwork. Where I was asked to comment on my “relative health.” See, I’m headed back to the beginning.

She did all sorts of manipulations on my right foot, heel, and leg. She asked how long it had been going on, and, in reply to my answer of “about 5 months,” she asked what sort of event had caused it. “Event?” Like the fair or a concert? What the hell! I couldn’t remember one.

She kept prodding – my memory as opposed to my foot -- and, ultimately, I had an “ah hah moment.” Shoes. My cool new slip-on shoes purchased last December. She laughed and confirmed they were the likely culprit. Now, I bought those due to the convenience of being able to slip them on in order to avoid bending over in order to avoid aggravating my back and knees, but…turns out they are too flat and caused “tendonosis” in my right heel. So, now I have physical therapy to add to my list.

At this point, I am a 49 year old man in “relative good health.” There are no check boxes that fully explain what that means to me. I do not have high blood pressure. I’ve never had cancer. I take very few medications, and most are voluntary, over-the-counter things.

But, if there is ever a box for this, I’m checking it:

Balding, middle-aged victim of chronic sinusitis, esophagitis, tendonosis, diverticulitis, gout, bronchitis, pneumonia, flying insects, TMJ, Dental Tori, knee pain, back pain, and gallows humor.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ethan the shopper

Ethan and his mom spent a nice afternoon at the Boise mall shopping for clothes. At 5 years old, Ethan has not yet evolved to the point every boy reaches namely, there is NO way he'll be caught dead shopping for clothes in the mall with Mom someday.
Anyway, Ethan had a great time going from store to store scouting out bargains. He would spy a shirt or shorts he was interested in, stop abruptly, freeze, and announce "MOM! I really gotta try that one on."
When I talked to him on the phone during his journey, he excitedly told me that he "had picked out some really cool clothes." He was particularly happy with two new pairs of sun glasses and a series of dinosaur shirts....not that he needs more dinosaur shirts.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


The old "Far Side" cartoon was a favorite of mine, and the "Bummer of a Birthmark, Hal" one is particularly apt in our family at the moment because Ethan has been diagnosed with various allergies.

  • We live in the high desert of Idaho surrounded by sagebrush. Allergic to sagebrush? Check.
The Boise River flows through our city along with canals all of which are bordered by lush Cottonwood trees. Allergic to Cottonwood Trees? Check.
Every visit to Grandpa and Grandma's house in Twin Falls includes the obligatory photo op in the Birch tree in the front yard. Allergic to Birch trees? Check.
Russian Thistle is a common weed in our area. Allergic to Russian Thistle? Check.
Our buddy Tom recently got two kittens. Allergic to cats? Check.

After our upcoming trip to Disney World, we intended to get a Dachshund for Ethan. Allergic to dogs? Check.

Today, Ethan endured allergy tests illustrated by the photo of him during the test in this blog. It appears we are surrounded by things that cause allergic reactions thus triggering asthma.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Real Bombs Daddy!"

Ethan was patiently waiting to chat with his mom who was on the phone. "Patiently waiting" for Ethan means he was almost bouncing around the room because life is one big exciting adventure for him. He has a LOT to say. Somehow, he hit his head on the arm of the sofa. When Heather got off the phone, Ethan was whimpering a bit and rubbing his head. Heather asked, "Did you hurt your head?"

He replied, "No I hurt my brain."

She said something about wanting to give him medicine, and he got his incredulous look and noted, "I hurt my brain. You can't put medicine on that."

Later the same day, I called the house to chat with Heather and Ethan because I'm out of town. He answered and immediately launched into a detailed description of the Hot Wheels course he and Mom were building. Heather subsequently said, "We need you. This is SUCH a boy thing." In the meantime, Ethan described the curves and cars on the course. He also stressed that they were building bombs to place along side the tracks. He expressed disappointment about the fact the bombs were made of paper wads.

We concluded our conversation by him lamenting about the bombs. He said, "Daddy? When you get home you need to help me with the bombs. I really want real bombs Daddy. We need real bombs that explode! OK Daddy? Can you make a bomb for me Daddy? One that really explodes?"

I'm relieved he hasn't asked for a chemistry set yet....

Bombs...wish we had real bombs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Special Place In Hell....

There are a few things in life that I find infuriating. I try to show patience; however, the following scenarios are the most consistent irritants in my life:

1. Women in check-out lines at grocery stores: Is it really unreasonable to expect these troglodytes to think about others in line behind them? How tough, really, is it to be prepared when the checker has completed scanning items? For example, I am fully prepared to swipe my debit card or pay cash well in advance of the checker completing their part of the process. I have my wallet ready, card or cash in hand, and I have already entered any requisite preferred shopper number. If forced, I will make the obligatory small talk about the weather, and I always cover my son's photo in my wallet when I have it open on the off chance the checker wishes to comment on his cuteness or -- God forbid -- start to discuss their own cute grandchild. I don't care. I want my stuff, and I want out of there. But not most women. Most women not only take their own sweet time placing items from their cart onto the check stand conveyor belt, but they wait to even begin opening their purse to retrieve their wallet until AFTER the clerk has finished scanning. There is the typical fumbling for the wallet and then the glacial decision about whether to write a check, pay cash, or use a card of some sort. Like a finger nail scraping on a chalkboard, a woman who uses cash invariably fumbles through the change pocket to get the exact change. If they write a check, they seem intent on balancing their checkbook right there in line. If they say, "Oh, sorry, I think I have a coupon for one of those thingies," you can hear the men in line scream behind them as they open a beer in their cart with the complete understanding they will be there a while as an inane blob of humanity tries in vain to complete a basic shopping chore.

2. Slow drivers in the fast lane: Speed limits are there for a reason. There is no reason for a slow driver to be in the fast lane. Ever. If they are intent of driving 45 in a 75 or 65 per mile zone, they should take a bus. A mini-van filled with kids, McDonalds, and portable DVD's coupled with their parents belief that everyone on the road must drive slow in a show of sympathy for their miserable lives is the worst. There outta be a law.

3. Lines in coffee/pastry shops. This morning, I stood in line twice at some coffee/pastry shop at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas in order to bring my wife a dark chocolate almond tort. I was in line because she didn't have time yesterday to stay in the same line due to concerns she would miss her plane. I have the same concern today, and my plane leaves in 4 hours. This morning, the line moved at a snail's pace. Clerks in such places are a template in the unmotivated, unkempt, and tattooed generation that thinks a career as a barrista or parking lot attendant is just fine, thank you. For those with lives, the idea of spending 15 to 20 minutes in line listening to horrible people order incomprehensible combinations of coffee, for God's sake (that term again), is akin to cutting off a limb without anesthesia. When you bring pastries -- or dark chocolate almond torts -- into the equation, the complexity of a simple transaction increases exponentially. I failed in my quest to be a good husband. After two attempts at the line which didn't seem to move at all, I left in a huff. How hard is it really to focus on timely customer service? How about an express line for people who actually know what the hell they want and are prepared to pay for it (see above about women in check-out lines because people in line at a coffee/pastry hell hole are equally criminal in their inability to effectively pay for their stuff -- and it is gender neutral stupidity in this case)? Sigh, when I get back to Boise this morning, I will hand my wife a five dollar bill, make my apologies, and remind her once again that I am too organized and reasonable to patronize places where the "experience and ambiance" seem quaint to idiots.
A few months ago, my step father accompanied me on a series of errands in Boise. On our tour, we went to Lowe's, Wal Mart, and Fred Meyer in Boise. At each stop, I efficiently and quickly used the self-check out stands. When we drove home, my step dad -- who owned a retail furniture store his entire career -- commented, "You know, you went to each store and never talked to anyone. It was all automated." My response? "Yes. And that's the way it should be. I have no desire to talk to anyone when I shop, and I have no desire to suffer through idiots in check out lines."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Aren't We Missing Something Here?

"Attitude" is something that seems to come naturally to our son Ethan. He's a great little boy, and his sense of humor is often surprising though it sometimes has a hint of "attitude." For example:
One night when Dad was ill and slept in another room, Ethan joined his mom in bed. She piled up some pillows/blankets to block him from rolling off the bed because he flails all over when he sleeps. Despite her best efforts, he fell off the bed. In response to his mom's comments that she tried to block him falling, he said, "Well, it didn't work did it?"
Another example: Ethan was enjoying his "normal" Blimpie sandwich and Cheetos in the Jeep when his mom took a corner fast enough to cause his Cheetos to spill over onto the seat. When they stopped and she cleaned up the errant snacks, Ethan looked at her with consternation, and asked "Aren't we missing something something here?" Heather said "What?" He responded, "An apology?"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Five year old wisdom

On the heels of his fifth birthday, Ethan continues to suggest that everyday is "Ethan Day" meaning he "is the boss of this house." We learned our lesson over Christmas when we said that day was "Ethan Day" and he could do whatever he wanted. We quickly realized that setting limits on mood and behavior was appropriate. So, on his birthday which we agreed was an "Ethan Day," we set limits. He reluctantly agreed but insisted that every holiday and all birthdays in our house from now on are "Ethan Days." Or, Ethan Daze as the case may be....

Ethan really wanted "Wii Resort" for his birthday, and that is what he receive from Mom and Dad. He woke up at 4:00 a.m. on his birthday and loudly announced it was his birthday. We convinced him it was the middle of the night so he went back to sleep until 7:00 a.m. when he awoke to his prized present. Later that night as he played a game, something happened, and he turned to look at me with a smirk on his face as he said, "Well now! THAT was unusual."

As he was playing an airplane game on the Wii, he told his mom that he gets sick on airplanes, boats, and balloons. "I get a lot of sicks."

We have also started taking him to the Boise Public Library on Thursday nights for a Pre-Kindergarten Prep Class. Last week, Miss Tammy read a story about "dust bunnies" which intrigued Ethan. When we got home, he asked questions about dust bunnies. Heather actually found on upstairs in an obscure corner and showed him. In a concerned and confused observation, Ethan said, "Mom. I don't see any feet on those dust bunnies."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ethan is 5!

Ethan turns 5 years old tomorrow. It hardly seems possible! He's a good kid too which is nice. His teachers compliment him and note that he has quite a wit for someone his age. He is a typical boy of the 21st Century...he loves his Nintendo DS, Wii, is an avid dinosaur expert (Velociraptors are his particular favorites these days), rides his bike with on the edge of disaster, laughs a lot, is a fan of both Scooby Doo and Phineas and Ferb, and thinks that Red Robin is the best place on earth to eat (well, "eat" is merely a means to an end to play his favorite video game). He is full of life and ideas often talking in a stream of consciousness that defies physiology because he doesn't need to take a breath it seems. He is also pretty courageous for someone his age, and nothing much scares him. He loves school, parties, and is always eager to make friends. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that he really is only 5 because he seems so adult at times. It's been a great 5 years, and we know the next 5 will pass just as quickly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Busy Holiday Times!

Since my last real post in late November, Christmas, New Years, the Fiesta Bowl, the beginnings of my "shot therapy," and a surprising hospital stay for Ethan have come and gone! Idaho's Legislature reconvened in the refurbished Capitol building, and I've started my 25th legislative roller coaster.

Christmas was different this year. My parent's decided to stay in Twin Falls rather than brave the roads (or another bus ride...they just can't quite get comfortable with that loss of independence). As a result, we had a quiet Christmas morning. Ethan had previously asked Santa for only two things: A Transformer Devastator as well as a Wii game. Santa obliged! Ethan was a bit concerned about how Santa would fit down our chimney. I also took Ethan to the Elk's Club's Christmas for Kids event where one of our exalted members (A Scotsman with a happy chuckle seemingly reinforced at the bar!) dressed as Santa and greeted the kids. Ethan's reaction? "Daddy. I don't think that's the real Santa. He must be one of his helpers."

After Christmas, I decided to go to the Fiesta Bowl to watch the Boise State Bronco's take on the Horned Frogs of TCU. I missed the bowl three years ago, and I had a great time along with thousands of other BSU faithful who made the trek to Phoenix after the new year. The only downside? Garmin GPS has no way of knowing when road construction closes roads and causes detours. As a result, I did spend one morning, in the dark, trying to get back to my hotel after dropping off a buddy at the airport. Oh well. Considering Garmin has been in the news lately for stranding at least three users on snowy mountain roads, being stranded in Phoenix could have been worse. Plus we won!

When my plane landed back in Boise on January 5, Ethan was sitting in his customary spot right outside the security doors in the Boise airport. He grinned, and ran into my arms, kissed my cheek, and immediately demanded we go play video games. The standard Ethan airport greeting. Later that night, he started to cough a bit. Heather and I had been discussing that he seems to have a chronic cough and that perhaps we should seek alternative opinions. Fate intervened. He spent that night coughing and then vomiting. The next morning, the pediatrician sent Ethan and his mom to St. Lukes Hospital where he spent two days (one night). It is now apparent he has asthma, and our next step is an allergist to see what triggers the attacks...although this was the first tangible one. Perhaps he's had mild attacks before? Who knows? We've been pretty lucky with him. No childhood ailments really, and countless friends have now indicated they "had it as a kid and out grew it."

By the end of that second day, Ethan was Ethan. He seemed fine. However, confined to a hospital bed in a cramped room, when I entered the room after work, he put on a brave face though his bottom lip quivered and his eyes watered as he said, "Daddy? I'm just unhappy. I want out of this place. I want to go home." I know there will be a time when he doesn't want to hang out at home. I know there will be a time when on a Saturday morning he doesn't pile onto my lap in a cloud of blankets content to watch cartoons with Daddy for a couple of hours. I know there will be a time when he is out of breath not from an unexpected bout of childhood asthma but from running out the door with his buddies. So, as Heather and I spent countless hours hovering over our little boy who celebrates his fifth birthday in a week, I also realized that these are really special times.
And, now that we know he's out of the woods (and the hospital), I couldn't help but consider that the hospital stay happened 6 days into a new insurance deductible. Ah...timing!

Will Facebook be the death of the blog?

I haven't posted to my blog since late November...almost two months ago. I continue to think my blog is a good way to express myself regarding life; however, as I've thought about it, my foray into social media via Facebook seems to have become an easier way to communicate. Obviously, I do not have the opportunity to expand or comment in depth; however, I fear I'm getting lazy and using Facebook as an alternative to this blog. My new goal? At least once a week.