Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's (a) Cold...

The cold has moved in...and I'm not talking about the weather. Tenzin has been virally baptized at daycare and is officially sick. Normally I would be more worried than this, but we're finally past that stage. Like our OBGYN said, "He won't develop an immune system if he doesn't get sick." Here's the story...

Rachel awoke at 3:00 am on Fiday morning exclaiming that Tenzin felt a little hot. Normally most parents would be somewhat concerned by this, however our son is, by trade, a human kerosene heater (hot regardless of health, layers of clothing, weather, etc). He constantly emits 1000 degree heat beams (I like to imagine he's a superhero in training) and as a result, I didn't think we had to worry about this situation anymore than when did others (like when he sleeps on my chest and creates sweat-circles on my shirts).

Unfortunately, my thoughts of superherodom came to an end when mother's intuition outweighed his Superman-like characteristics...he was not harnessing his special powers (invisibility would suck when they first start walking!), he did in fact have an illness.

We now have a HUGE problem...Not the fact that we now have a sick child, but the fact that it's his first illness and we only live three blocks from the hospital. Panic.

After taking his temperature and seeing that it was a balmy 100.4, I began to duct tape Tenzin to my bicycle and take off out the door in my underwear (like any parent would). Rachel stopped me before leaving and suggested it might be better to call our trusty sister and brother-in-law first, since they've already run the gammut with Henry, and might be able to provide us with some direction (apparently, ducttaping your three-month old to your handle bars and biking him to the hospital is a last resort).

Sarah and Michael suggested we call Dr. Bobby Jo, a philanthropic medical suggestioneer to all kids Rayo (and now Thornburg). A Pediatric Doctor in her off-time, Bobby Jo was quite helpful at talking us down from the ledge and bringing us back to reality. It was not, in fact, Malaria or Ghiardiasis like I had diagnosed, but a common daycare cold. Whew. Time to start taking off the duct tape.

Surprisingly, we found that we were doing everything we should have been: studying restlessness or lack thereof, monitoring in the correct monitor manor, spot-checking for dehydration, and even checking and counting proper poos. We were told to just keep checking temperature, dose a little Tylenol here and there (based on his ever-increasing weight), and if everything keeps where it's at, call the doctor on Monday for a follow-up(I have a strange feeling babies only get sick on holidays and Fridays after 5:30pm).

So we spent all weekend evacuating his nose (an oddly fascinating job for me, gross as anything for Rachel) and riding out the storm. Do you know how much snot one baby nostril can hold? It's kind of like a basement...there's a lot of crap down there, but you don't really realize it until it you have to move it all.

I can honestly say that Tenzin handles colds much better than his dad. While I cry and moan about a stuffy nose, he continues to grin and snort through the snot and slobber. It's humorously sad.

The Monday doctor's report came and went, saying everything we already knew: it's a simple cold. Monitor, hydrate, rest, repeat. We did everything correctly and handled it all in stride. Needless to say I would still like to thank Bobby Jo. Without her sage advice, things might have turned out differently. Bike frostbite around the underwear line (coin slot?) doesn't clear up too easily.

Admittedly, that first fever was a lot to handle. Our hearts dropped out of our chests on numerous occasions, checking breathing and coloration, but I'm not sure if you can ever really get used to your child's illnesses. Although with my leg and ankle surgeries, I think my parents did get accustomed to the "I'm-in-the-E.R.-again" phonecalls. God help us when that day comes...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sleepy...Even With Sleep

I read this in a parenting article today and I couldn't help but laugh...

You Will Never Sleep Again
We hear rumors before the baby arrives about the impact of sleep deprivation, but no one can prepare us for this kind of pain and suffering. As Gordon put it, "In many countries, sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture." Continuous sleep deprivation can make the most sane, level-headed -people irritable, irrational, or just plain crazy. We all turn into zombies. It is a cruel irony that we are expected to deal with one of the most difficult challenges of our lives on a wing and a prayer and a thirty-minute nap. Couldn't Mother Nature have arranged things a little bit better?

"I was so tired I actually tried to breastfeed Bob’s arm one night."
—Louise, married 4 years, 1 kid (FYI: Bob is her husband, not her baby.)


I have a new game that I play called "Mirrors." It's when Rachel and I go shopping (after changing, prepping bags, cleaning up, changing out of milk-soaked clothes, loading the car, and finally being ready to get out of the house), I'll walk passed the first mirror I see and wonder who in the hell beat me up. Seriously, even Peter McNeeley walked away from Mike Tyson with lighter black eyes than this. I remember back to college all-nighters (errr....studying) and I never looked this bad. What the heck is going on with the bags and the circles, the five-o'clock shadows,and the GUT!?!? Don't even get me started with the gut. Rachel has the baby and somehow I'm the one that retains the baby weight. Sheesh.

In all honesty, we've been sleeping rather well lately. Tenzin has been on a pretty straightforward schedule, nodding off around 9:00 pm (right after his evening nap) and staying out throughout most of the night. He only wakes up intermittently for a diaper blowout or a hunger pain. So what the heck is going on? Why do I always feel like I'm 6 hours short of a good night's rest? Please tell me it gets better.

Another fun game is countdown-till-we-get-our-butts-out-to-California. We'll be out there at the end of February and I'm hoping this will do the trick. I can't wait to just get away from work for a while. I have so much planned, but keep in mind that these plans are a little different from my former California vacation plans.

1. Sleep on beach. Try also sleeping to and from beach.
2. Sleep on lawn chair. Just dose off at any given time for no good reason other than the fact that I can.
3. Sleep with window open. It's snowy and 20-something degrees today. I'm ready for this one.
4. Go back to beach and sleep some more.
5. Go for walk in shorts. Come back and rest by sleeping.
6. Kick Ashley's butt in surfing competition. (CLICK HERE) Sleep after rubbing in my badassedness.

So as you can see, my priorities have changed quite a bit.


In other news, I went through the Koday Gallery online and cracked up at some of the newborn pictures of Tenzin. Everybody always tells us how much he's changed, but we're around him so much that I can't really see it. It's amazing to look at some of those hospital pictures back then and compare them to recent shots. He was SO SMALL!!! It's comforting to see him getting so big. An easy way to realize you have a healthy and happy baby. There's also a side of me that doesn't want him to grow up. I see some of the "complicated" children at the stores, throwing tantrums and stomping their feet, and it's almost comforting see my little boy snoozing in the front of the cart - no idea what the candy machines are for, no idea who Elmo is, no idea what new pair of Nikes are "hot right now." I'm so frightened as to what we'll be confronted with as parents, especially with computers and the internet. There's a whole new realm of cyber-parenting to freak parents out.


All in all, I'm just feeling a little lost. Not a bad kind of lost, but overwhelmed with thoughts of the future. Maybe that's why I need so much sleep....it's God's way of telling me to relax and get some Zzzzz's (for His sake), because there's obviously no point to stressing over this now.

It's funny because dad always told me that he, "hoped I would have children just like me when I grow up." By that count, Tenzin's got another four years before he jumps out of an oak tree with a garbage bag as a parachute. I guess that'll be the time to REALLY worry, unless he tries it again with umbrella. Then I'll know he's just like me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Update, finally! With Pictures!

Forgive me friends and family, for it has been a bazillion years since my last post...

First off, Tenzin has grown!!! I know for some of you that's not very surprising, considering you've been through this before, but a little part inside of me honestly felt like he was going to stay that small forever. He is definitely growing out of new-born phase and straight in to baby-phase.

What's the difference, you ask? It's simple...chubby cheeks, a Buddha belly, stocky legs, and a FULL ASS DIAPER!!! (I was not cursing there by calling it a "full ass diaper," but rather referring to it by it's contents, as in, "Rachel, come here and see this! He doesn't have any ass left. It's all in his diaper."

What can I say, growing-baby poop is amazing! Mind you, I realize we still haven't reached the run-out-of-the-room-it's-burning-my-eyes stage. I know we have a lot more in store in the future. However, there is a definitive change afoot and the transition period is fascinating.

OK, enough poop talk...it's not like this is the dinner table or something (there's an appropriate time and place for poop discussions...for new parents, it appears as though it begins at dinner...I'll spare you any more...we'll be more than happy to sit down with you for a meal, though!).

Where to begin? Time. Where do I start about time?!?! I'd, again, like to apologize again to you all for not updating. Apparently, I had a lot of "time" on my hands before Tenzin was born. As for where that "time" went, I have no idea.

You see, there is no longer such a thing as free time, per se, but there are giggles. Let me explain...

Free time is similar to time, only it is time you wasted. You might have thought you were reading, jogging, updating a blog, or partaking in some other hobby during this free time, but you were in fact wasting time...Precious, precious time where you could have done absolutely, positively nothing. Glorious nothing. I remember those days.

Now, however, free time has been replaced by prepping baby bags, bathing, changing yellow ochre-filled diapers (sorry again...poop talk), soothing, cooing, bouncing, burping, rechanging changed diapers, making faces, warming bottles, prepping for daycare, and so on....and so on....and so on....with no...free....time...in...between....

And believe it or not, when you're at your wit's end, sleepless for three consecutive days, covered in spit up and breast milk, delusional and underfed, sans social skills, with bloodshot eyes...........out of nowhere comes the giggles.

Our son will look up at us, just as tired as we are, likewise crusted in fluids, filled with gas, and he'll 1) smile, 2) smile and coo 3) smile and giggle.

Then it all makes sense. We are no longer our own reason. He is now our reason. For everything.

I'll exchange free time for that smile and giggle any day of the week.

So it's been hectic as hell lately, but hectic with wonderful chaos and (eventual) giggles. We might be lacking sleep, but we're more awake than ever.

Here's our new favorite pastime...the bathtub:







































Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tenzin Lichtenstein


So Thankful, My Tenzin

I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be in this soldier's boots.

This is a pretty amazing story, both in the preparation of the father and the sadness of his death. I count my blessings daily.

-James

**** **** **** **** **** ****
From the New York Times [Direct Link]:

From Father to Son,
Last Words to Live By

By DANA CANEDY
Published: January 1, 2007
He drew pictures of himself with angel wings. He left a set of his dog tags on a nightstand in my Manhattan apartment. He bought a tiny blue sweat suit for our baby to wear home from the hospital.

Then he began to write what would become a 200-page journal for our son, in case he did not make it back from the desert in Iraq.

For months before my fiancé, First Sgt. Charles Monroe King, kissed my swollen stomach and said goodbye, he had been preparing for the beginning of the life we had created and for the end of his own.

He boarded a plane in December 2005 with two missions, really — to lead his young soldiers in combat and to prepare our boy for a life without him.

Dear son, Charles wrote on the last page of the journal, “I hope this book is somewhat helpful to you. Please forgive me for the poor handwriting and grammar. I tried to finish this book before I was deployed to Iraq. It has to be something special to you. I’ve been writing it in the states, Kuwait and Iraq.

The journal will have to speak for Charles now. He was killed Oct. 14 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his armored vehicle in Baghdad. Charles, 48, had been assigned to the Army’s First Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Tex. He was a month from completing his tour of duty.

For our son’s first Christmas, Charles had hoped to take him on a carriage ride through Central Park. Instead, Jordan, now 9 months old, and I snuggled under a blanket in a horse-drawn buggy. The driver seemed puzzled about why I was riding alone with a baby and crying on Christmas Day. I told him.

“No charge,” he said at the end of the ride, an act of kindness in a city that can magnify loneliness.

On paper, Charles revealed himself in a way he rarely did in person. He thought hard about what to say to a son who would have no memory of him. Even if Jordan will never hear the cadence of his father’s voice, he will know the wisdom of his words.

Never be ashamed to cry. No man is too good to get on his knee and humble himself to God. Follow your heart and look for the strength of a woman.

Charles tried to anticipate questions in the years to come. Favorite team? I am a diehard Cleveland Browns fan. Favorite meal? Chicken, fried or baked, candied yams, collard greens and cornbread. Childhood chores? Shoveling snow and cutting grass. First kiss? Eighth grade.

In neat block letters, he wrote about faith and failure, heartache and hope. He offered tips on how to behave on a date and where to hide money on vacation. Rainy days have their pleasures, he noted: Every now and then you get lucky and catch a rainbow.

Charles mailed the book to me in July, after one of his soldiers was killed and he had recovered the body from a tank. The journal was incomplete, but the horror of the young man’s death shook Charles so deeply that he wanted to send it even though he had more to say. He finished it when he came home on a two-week leave in August to meet Jordan, then 5 months old. He was so intoxicated by love for his son that he barely slept, instead keeping vigil over the baby.

I can fill in some of the blanks left for Jordan about his father. When we met in my hometown of Radcliff, Ky., near Fort Knox, I did not consider Charles my type at first. He was bashful, a homebody and got his news from television rather than newspapers (heresy, since I’m a New York Times editor).

But he won me over. One day a couple of years ago, I pulled out a list of the traits I wanted in a husband and realized that Charles had almost all of them. He rose early to begin each day with prayers and a list of goals that he ticked off as he accomplished them. He was meticulous, even insisting on doing my ironing because he deemed my wrinkle-removing skills deficient. His rock-hard warrior’s body made him appear tough, but he had a tender heart.

He doted on Christina, now 16, his daughter from a marriage that ended in divorce. He made her blush when he showed her a tattoo with her name on his arm. Toward women, he displayed an old-fashioned chivalry, something he expected of our son. Remember who taught you to speak, to walk and to be a gentleman, he wrote to Jordan in his journal. These are your first teachers, my little prince. Protect them, embrace them and always treat them like a queen.

Though as a black man he sometimes felt the sting of discrimination, Charles betrayed no bitterness. It’s not fair to judge someone by the color of their skin, where they’re raised or their religious beliefs, he wrote. Appreciate people for who they are and learn from their differences.
He had his faults, of course. Charles could be moody, easily wounded and infuriatingly quiet, especially during an argument. And at times, I felt, he put the military ahead of family.

He had enlisted in 1987, drawn by the discipline and challenges. Charles had other options — he was a gifted artist who had trained at the Art Institute of Chicago — but felt fulfilled as a soldier, something I respected but never really understood. He had a chest full of medals and a fierce devotion to his men.

He taught the youngest, barely out of high school, to balance their checkbooks, counseled them about girlfriends and sometimes bailed them out of jail. When he was home in August, I had a baby shower for him. One guest recently reminded me that he had spent much of the evening worrying about his troops back in Iraq.

Charles knew the perils of war. During the months before he went away and the days he returned on leave, we talked often about what might happen. In his journal, he wrote about the loss of fellow soldiers. Still, I could not bear to answer when Charles turned to me one day and asked, “You don’t think I’m coming back, do you?” We never said aloud that the fear that he might not return was why we decided to have a child before we planned a wedding, rather than risk never having the chance.

But Charles missed Jordan’s birth because he refused to take a leave from Iraq until all of his soldiers had gone home first, a decision that hurt me at first. And he volunteered for the mission on which he died, a military official told his sister, Gail T. King. Although he was not required to join the resupply convoy in Baghdad, he believed that his soldiers needed someone experienced with them. “He would say, ‘My boys are out there, I’ve got to go check on my boys,’ ” said First Sgt. Arenteanis A. Jenkins, Charles’s roommate in Iraq.

In my grief, that decision haunts me. Charles’s father faults himself for not begging his son to avoid taking unnecessary risks. But he acknowledges that it would not have made a difference. “He was a born leader,” said his father, Charlie J. King. “And he believed what he was doing was right.”

Back in April, after a roadside bombing remarkably similar to that which would claim him, Charles wrote about death and duty.

The 18th was a long, solemn night, he wrote in Jordan’s journal. We had a memorial for two soldiers who were killed by an improvised explosive device. None of my soldiers went to the memorial. Their excuse was that they didn’t want to go because it was depressing. I told them it was selfish of them not to pay their respects to two men who were selfless in giving their lives for their country.

Things may not always be easy or pleasant for you, that’s life, but always pay your respects for the way people lived and what they stood for. It’s the honorable thing to do.
When Jordan is old enough to ask how his father died, I will tell him of Charles’s courage and assure him of Charles’s love. And I will try to comfort him with his father’s words.
God blessed me above all I could imagine, Charles wrote in the journal. I have no regrets, serving your country is great.

He had tucked a message to me in the front of Jordan’s journal. This is the letter every soldier should write, he said. For us, life will move on through Jordan. He will be an extension of us and hopefully everything that we stand for. ... I would like to see him grow up to be a man, but only God knows what the future holds.