Thursday, March 24, 2011


A couple of weeks ago, we were at MJ's school to pick her up. Z wanted to walk down the stairs inside the school by himself (though usually he wants to take the elevator and push the buttons BY HIMSELF). Z was up by T, while I was a few steps above them. Then, Z tripped and fell. Oh my. Luckily, he was able to catch himself and only fell down a few stairs rather than the 10-15 to the bottom. The image of him falling head over heels and my powerlessness to do anything about it makes me quake.

He cut his lip in the fall. I grabbed him and he was spurting blood everywhere and screaming. We raced to the bathroom where I tried to apply pressure and wipe him up but he didn't want anything on his face. He just kept wailing. We ran to the car, called Andy, who was on his way home, and told him to meet us at urgent care. He was going to need stitches. As we were driving, he was very distraught. He wanted Andy. He asked me, "Why didn't you hold my hand when I was going down the stairs??" (knife to the heart). MJ kept saying, "It's OK." His response: "It's NOT OK!" I told T, the jokester in the family, to help him feel better, but all he could say was, "I can't look at it! I can't look at it!" Finally, he started talking to Z while looking the other way.

We got to urgent care and checked in, but as soon as the nurse saw how deeply his lip was cut, she told us that we should go to the ER where he would have to be sedated. By then, Andy had met up with us, and Z was calmer. He kept asking for a Sesame Street book, but we had to settle for an Elmo sticker.

Andy ended up taking him to the ER, and I went home with MJ and T. It took them a long time at the ER, and they didn't inform them that he couldn't be sedated if he had eaten. Of course they're going to eat, since it's 7:30 at night. So, by the time they finally got into a room and were seen by a doctor, they had to do the fish hook stitches without sedation anyway. They also didn't have to use the papoose to strap him down. He did great and they finally made it home by 10:15.

Watching my child tumble down the stairs, I felt the shock of how fragile life is. I focus on getting through the days and weeks, making sure homework is done, taking care of responsibilities, but in an instant, that illusion of stability and predictability could be shot to hell. I just kept thinking that it's amazing that we've made it this far without any major accident, illness, or other disaster (the Japanese tragedy has also been weighing on me). I felt really emotional about it for quite a while afterward.

Fun fact that we learned in this whole process: lips are made of a similar material as guts. They completely regenerate themself over a short period of time. We were amazed at how fast his lip healed up. Five to six days later, you could scarcely tell anything had happened.

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Still Winter

After a warm-up, with lots of rain, yesterday and today provided us another blast of winter. It snowed another 6 inches--that awful heavy, slushy snow, and there are giant slushy puddles everywhere. Though, with the overnight temps well below zero, they are frozen puddles. I got stuck in the parking lot at work, and our front steps still need to be shoveled out.

To take my mind off of spring in Minnesota, I am thinking about our spring break trip to Mexico City next week. Just me, Andy, and MJ. The boys get to stay behind with their grandma. It's not the beach, but temperatures have been in the 70's there.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Love Efficiency

In a matter of 15 minutes, I managed to get my oil changed, mail two packages, deposit a check, and get my lunch. Does that ever make me feel good!

Plus, it's a no down-coat day. Maybe down-coat season is over! It is 50 degrees out and it is heavenly.

Every time we have had a parent-teacher conference for MJ, the feedback has been 100% consistent. She is doing really well in school, but her personal management skills need work. She forgets to bring home her work and she forgets to turn in her work. She loses her snow pants. She leaves her lunch box on the playground. She sometimes has a hard time following teacher directions, mostly because she isn't listening very well. She likes to chat it up with her friends.

As a kid, I was a typical first child. I was a pleaser and over-achiever. I thrived on competition in the classroom setting. I liked to get my homework done and turn it in. I always listened to what the teacher said and then quickly got my work done. I liked to be the first one done and remember the thrill I felt turning in pages of math before anyone else. Not only could I be first, but then I could sit in my desk and read my book while everyone else continued to toil away. So, it's a little hard for me to understand MJ sometimes. I just don't get why you wouldn't walk into your classroom, hang up your coat, and turn your homework in, day in and day out. I like predictability and I like efficiency. I don't like to meander. I don't like to dawdle. And sometimes, I have a hard time when my kids do.

Last night, I saw MJ do something that amazed me though. She was working on a writing assignment for English class. She sat down, and soon had the beginning of an elaborate story about a leprechaun whose fate was to change the future with his friendship and bravery. The ease with which she constructed vivid images (I especially liked, "A silvery curtain of hair cascaded down her back") and the sophistication of her writing were surprising to me. I have a hard time with creative writing. I can't really think up stories to tell, and my kids have learned to ask their dad if they want an on-the-spot made up story. Whenever I try, they feel clunky, stilted, and predictable. So, I don't really try.

I really liked seeing a flipside to MJ's meandering and unorganized personality. It helped me understand her better and appreciate her more.

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