Monday, May 31, 2010

Tootie Fruity

While I certainly enjoy sweets once in a while, candy and ice cream don’t pose as much of a temptation to me as compared to, oh I don’t know, say an eight-months-pregnant lady. Overall, I’m much more a fan of savory over sweet. But that's not to say I don't enjoy sweet.

Before G’s arrival, my eating habits weren’t necessarily bad but they weren’t the greatest either. Once G transitioned into eating real food, it was a perfect opportunity for me to rediscover a very simple pleasure somewhat forgotten: fruit.

As a kid, my parents always had at least apples, bananas, and oranges lying in a bowl around the house at 2 Bert Street. When in season, peaches, pears, plums, and grapes were common, too. During holidays, figs, dates, dried fruit, and nuts appeared in bowls on the dining room table for nibbling with coffee and dessert after a big family meal.

From the time I was in college through my glorious years of freedom that preceded cohabitation with the wife, 90% of my meals were prepared by someone outside of the kitchen where I lived. It’s fair to say I wasn’t ordering a fruit basket from Cappy’s Pizza. But once the wife and I were under the same roof, she reminded me it was possible to shop at the supermarket and make your own meals. Suddenly, bananas became a part of my diet again.

As Greta graduated from bottles to real food, I looked to the wife to explain what we’d feed her first. Cheese steak bombs with mushrooms, peppers, and onions? Chili cheese hot dogs with sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup, and hots? Boloco tofu burritos with peanut sauce and Asian slaw? None of the above. I think we started with mushy plain cereal of some sort. But fortunately for G and her colon, she made it to fruit pretty quickly thereafter. G eats grapes like a dog eats anything in a mass quantity – if you leave too much in front of them, they’ll scarf it down like contestants on The Biggest Loser the night before arriving at the ranch.

Fruits are fun food. Nothing says summer like eating cherries and spitting out the seeds as you go. Grab a handful, pop em’ in your mouth, sit back, and just carry on with your conversation. Watermelon’s good like that, too. And there’s something about slicing up an orange or apple to share while sitting at a table next to somebody. It’s a communal thing, I guess.

Of course, the novelty of fruits’ natural sweetness has begun to wane now that G has dabbled in bites of ice cream, animal crackers, and other tantalizing treats. She’s a lot more likely to huck a strawberry over the side of her high chair now that she’s become more of a fruit pro. I guess we need to step things up a bit in the produce department. Maybe some mango or kiwi fruit. Perhaps a nectarine. I know. I’m a wild man.

Still to come: other culinary frontiers for us to conquer. Raw oysters. Buffalo wings. Sushi. Hot sauce. And the best treat is just around the corner: G’s first peanut butter cup!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Baby, Baby, I Got That Fever

On Sunday night, the wife and I were winding down the day watching the Survivor finale when we heard Greta stirring in the other room. After dinner, the wife thought that our little girl was a bit warm and I of course disagreed. I thought G was fine.

I did G’s bath, got her into her PJs, and filled the night bottle. (I suspect the wife is mortified now that the public is aware we still do a bottle because we have apparently broken some unwritten rule where a 15-month old should have graduated to sippy cups by now. The horror!) As she often does before I turn to leave her crib, G clutched a binky in her mouth, a binky in each hand, laid down on the mattress, and said “bye-bye” before turning over to fall asleep. (Uh oh, now everyone knows G still sleeps with a binky. More shame on us. We're utter failures as parents.)

Around nine o’clock, just about when the jury was listening to the final arguments of Russell, Sandra, and Parvati, we heard G. I got up to investigate. Misplaced binky perhaps? Bad dream? Poop? Lots of potentially harmless reasons.

G was crying groggily. She looked uncomfortable. I felt her head. En fuego. I immediately took off the sleep sack and the PJ pants. The wife came in to see for herself. Our collective red flags were now standing straight up. Eventually, the wife decided appropriately that we take G’s official temp. Fortunately, we purchased a digital thermometer for recording from the ear so we didn’t have to go in through the out door. Unfortunately, Greta equally disliked the ear instrument.

We tested the thermometer on ourselves first by placing it in our ears and pressing the button. A beep activated within seconds giving a reading on the digital display. I was a hypothermal 95 degrees. The wife was somewhere in the same neighborhood. I wanted to huck the piece of crap out the window and smash it with a hammer. Moving quickly because of G’s growing restlessness, we anticipated having to calibrate by roughly adding three degrees to whatever reading we got on G. It came back at 97 and change.

G had been noticeably drooling and teething recently so we knew a higher temp may be the simple by-product of her molars coming in. Even so, G was a bit moody compared to her usual happy self during the past day’s events. To be sure, we decided to be, well, anal and get a more accurate reading. As is generally the case in tough parent situations, mama was bad cop while I was good cop. (The wife’s tougher than me, what can I say? I start to wilt the second I hear G whimper.) I soothed our little girl and tried to keep her still as the wife probed dutifully. 102.7. Yikes! We were nervous now.

My grandmother Grace lost her firstborn son when he was two years old. As I understand it, my grandmother went to the hospital with her baby because of a fever. The doctors sent them home with instructions to take aspirin. He died shortly thereafter, most likely from meningitis. Undoubtedly, my dad’s parents were never the same again.

I have thought often about that family tragedy since becoming a father. I can’t even fathom the level of devastation my grandparents must have experienced. They did nothing wrong. They listened to medical professionals. The medical professionals were catastrophically mistaken. Eventually, the doctors of course moved on while my grandparents mourned their son’s loss for years. I tried to block out that thought and to focus on our little girl. I realized now that she was almost panting in her breathing.

The wife called the doctor's office and consulted with Nana who came down to help. We followed the nurse's instructions: lukewarm bath, Tylenol, and fluids. If the temperature increased, go to the hospital. Otherwise, prepare for a long night. The wife and I did the bath, administered Tylenol, reduced G’s layers, and comforted her back to sleep.

Without saying anything, we both knew the other was part scared and part nervous while trying to remain calm. We tried to distract ourselves by watching Survivor again. Suddenly, these “reality” characters' struggles to “survive” seemed more trivial and less entertaining.

We checked in on G at first every 15 minutes. I volunteered to do the 2 a.m. shift before we turned in at 12:30. G awoke around 1:45 and mama beat me out of bed. She soothed G back to sleep. I checked on G at 4. Sound asleep. Still warm but okay. Hour by hour, we rode out the storm until the morning. After another up and down day, G was back to her normal self by dinner time the next day. Phew, we made it. Cue the big sigh of relief and nervous laughter wondering aloud what we were so worried about.

I know this instance is of course only the first of many fevers, calls to the doctor, and other inevitable scares that will cause us to lose sleep in the future. But as long as we have the same outcome with G laughing, playing, smiling, and otherwise being her normal self, I’ll never complain.

Nice work mama. Thanks for being my partner … and for being the bad cop. Now where’s that damn digital thermometer? I don’t care if it cost 40 bucks, it’s outta here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Tradition Revisited

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, the wife, nana, and all of the other ladies who are loving and wonderful mothers to their children. And a special Happy Mother’s Day to those who recently became moms including my cousin Kat who welcomed Aiden Patrick last week and Castleton Kristin E. who welcomed Lydia Eve a few weeks ago. Congrats ladies!

So, the T family had a really big night tonight. You may recall that when G entered the world last year, we were fortunate enough to watch an episode of Friday Night Lights (“FNL”) at the hospital before the labor went into full speed ahead. As a result of the show's timing just before G's arrival, FNL has a special place in our hearts. Turns out we’re not alone. To uphold the precedent established during G’s introduction to FNL, we’re fulfilling tradition with a running diary blog of 2010’s season opener.

To re-cap last season, Coach Taylor lost his job at the end of the football season because of the evil, rich father of a rising star quarterback J.D. who rigged the system to depose our beloved head coach. Meanwhile, the town of Dillon became redistricted resulting in the transfer of many students from Dillon High to previously defunct East Dillon High. In a curious twist, Coach’s wife Tammi remained as principal at Dillon High when Coach took the helm of the decrepit football program at East Dillon. Several other things took place but we don’t have time or space to summarize. Now to the basement at 46 Great Meadow Drive in Carver...

The wife and I are hunkered down in Nana’s basement. The DVR is 98% full and we're anxious to cross this one off the list. The wife is enthusiastically chewing on Swedish fish. Her crinkling of the bag as she reaches in for another is distracting me. I request a volume increase in the hopes that she gets the point without me having to ask her to be quiet. I forgive her though because she's carrying our second baby and she hasn’t been this pumped for a season opener of a high school drama since Gossip Girl and the new Bev Niner. She presses play.

Coach Taylor and the detective discuss who will most certainly become the juvenile delinquent turned football ringer at East Dillon this season. Let’s just call this kid Smash part II. I'm leery… Tim Riggins is in college with very fluffy hair. Looks like he’s been using a lot of Pert Plus. Also appears that he’s quitting college after one bad literature class. We knew it was too good to be true. Riggins’ Riggs here he comes… Tammi Taylor is still the hottest high school principal cougar ever. Redonculous. Parents are yelling at her because of the redistricting. Not fair. Not her fault. I can't believe she's over 30…

Matt Saracen’s sad story continues. The Dillon graduate and former starting QB couldn’t go to college because of his ill grandmother. He’s now a pizza delivery boy driving my brother’s old Chevy Celebrity station wagon. Even worse, he has to deliver some pies to the sophomore quarterback J.D. whose dad was behind Coach Taylor’s firing in addition to Matt's benching last year. By the way, J.D. has become a villain douchebag since last season. I see this ending ugly…

The wife almost just went into labor. She just fast forwarded with the remote over commercials a little too far and freaked out because Riggins is topless after a one night stand with a bartender (by the way, his bar going character is 18 still) who took him home to her house. The wife's finers are frantically struggling with the fast forward, play, pause, and rewind buttons. Wait for it. Wait for it. Now she’s paused it to look at Tim’s eight pack. I think I had one of those around 1985. I hate him. Anyway, Riggins’ milf lover has a hot daughter who is now singing the national anthem at the East Dillon game...

Game night is finally here and the camera is toggling between each of the school’s opening football games. I’m thinking that rich Dillon will be upset as J.D.'s leg breaks in half like Joe Theismann's by Lawrence Taylor while scrappy, underprivileged East Dillon will pull off an upset in Coach Taylor’s debut. Ok, maybe just wishful thinking. Let’s see what happens…

J.D.’s dad is an even bigger douche than his son. I want him to get run over by a Cadillac Escalade from Buddy Garrity’s dealership. I also want Lila to be back on the show. Derek Jeter is a lucky man… As suspected, Dillon is romping and East Dillon is not faring so well. The Lions are getting crushed and the locker room at halftime is filled with more injury clich├ęs than Any Given Sunday or The Program

Coach Taylor just forfeited the game at halftime. I can’t believe it. This is not the Coach Taylor we all know and love. This is also not the FNL that we all know and love. Too many unoriginal story lines. Too many predictable plot "twists." We are in for a long season. I hope that East Dillon’s football team and the show’s writers turn things around. Soon. Like next week. Go Lions!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nana's Basement: Temporary Tenants

When I tell people that we have moved in with my mother-in-law, most of them kind of laugh and smile the same way my buddies do when someone announces they’re getting a vasectomy. The reasons may be sound and logical on paper, but every married man still kinda cringes. Fortunately, I sincerely enjoy my mother-in-law’s company so our recent cohabitation until July should be relatively painless.

(For those just tuning in, the wife and I sold our condo a few weeks ago and we close on a house in Easton on June 23rd – knock on wood. In the interim, my mother-in-law graciously offered and/or surrendered to putting us up at her Carver home in the interim.)

In the blog, I was inclined initially to call the wife’s mom the “M.I.L.” but then I realized the name may be confusingly similar to “M.I.L.F.” and that’s just plain dangerous territory. Instead, we’ll go with “Nana” and move on.

Yep, so we’re living in Nana’s basement. If you told the wife in 2000 that she, her husband, and her firstborn child would be living in her mother’s basement by 2010, I’m pretty sure she’d think that something went terribly wrong. After a few weeks, though, it’s been pleasantly successful in my opinion. The change in scenery has resulted in a lot of changes for all involved.

For example, Nana’s house has transformed from a meticulously clean home straight out of Martha Stewart to a childproof day care center overnight. Her stairway is now a labyrinth of child gates. Her kitchen tablecloth and floor have souvenirs from every meal that G eats. Nana’s living room table was replaced by a tent in the shape of a green frog complete with roll out tongue. Sippy cups and plastic sporks have taken over her cabinets. Total bedlam, as you can imagine.

As for me, the biggest adjustment (besides not openly farting in three weeks) has been an overhaul to the daily schedule. Wake up is 5 a.m. (don’t cry for me Argentina) so as to avoid traffic on Routes 3 and 93. Dinner is at 6 p.m. on the dot, which is the greatest sight (besides my fam) after getting home from work. After sundown, I wear my headlamp to get around because Nana doesn’t use lights in her house unless she’s hosting guests – and now we’re technically housemates. Lastly, my bedtime is around 9:30 p.m., which makes me feel like I should be watching “Golden Girls” or “Matlock” with an earpiece connected to the TV.

Besides one major faux pas on my part (I flushed the toilet instinctively after a wake up pee, which activated the septic pump and woke Nana immediately – whoops!), we seem to be settling right in. Gigi is loving her new digs and all the attention from her Nana and Pep. The wife is happy to spend so much time with her clone, I mean mom. I’m beginning to like this “All in the Family” thing. Maybe we should drag this living-in-the-basement thing out a little longer.

Well, gotta go. The light’s just went out. Is it 7 o’clock already?

(Editors' note: Thank you very much Nana. We very much appreciate you letting us disrupt your life for the next two months!)