Letters to Holly

Friday, August 27

Two Months Now

The deputy had his second-month check-up yesterday. He's now completely average in height and weight, but that right eye worries the doctor. Combined with the snoring (which surprised him even more once he heard the video on my camera of the boy sleeping), he thinks the eye goop could be a sign of sinus problems. He doesn't see any septum issues, but he did note "small nostrils." He's setting up an appointment with a ear-nose-and-throat specialist to see if anything is up.

The visit ended with three vaccination doses: one oral and two needles, and he didn't like those at all. He was doped to the gills for the remainder of the day and slept for seven hours. We woke him to check the diaper and feed him. His long nap gave us some rare downtime, and of course we spent most of it doing laundry. I played video games after folding basketfulls. Your Literate Sister read maritime fiction as she is wont to do.

The doc said new studies behoove us to abstain from giving him anything for a fever if the live-virus vaccinations make him ill. A fever suppressant like Children's Tylenol can hamper the immune system's development. We're fine with that. We'll feed the mancub some Slurpees. There's a teacher party this weekend, and I worry that he might make some kids sick if those viruses are still active.

Your Energized Sister worries that her caffeine intake is affecting the baby, but the doctor said she would have to throw back a lot of coffee to really bother the boy. But after four hours, anything she drinks should be processed through her system enough to leave her milk safe.

I noticed the he's smitten with Your Adoring Sister and lights up when he sees her. I have earned no such reaction.

Toyota announced a recall on 2006-2008 Matrixes, but the specific engine model will determine if we're affected. We await notification.

Picture of the Day
There's hope for us all.

Thursday, August 26

Cooking With Villainy: Steak au Poivre

Once more, it falls to Doom to whip up grub for unexpected company.

Doom regrets extending a standing invitation to the Red Skull and his accursed family at the 2008 VillainCon. Doom was distracted by his stately reflection in the armor of his Doombot security cordon and lost track of how many Latveria Mountain Ales consumed by Doom during the VillainCon's annual awards banquet. Doom is a friendly drunk. Doom had just won his 58th consecutive Best Doom Award (sponsored by the kind chairmen of the Latveria University) , and, in his giddy largess, Doom offered to cook for that crimson-visaged buffoon and all his damnable brood.

By the Stones of Wundagore, is Skull attempting to sire the Fourth Reich by himself? Are these the Germanic Duggars? Doom pities the tortured Mrs. Skull for the horde of towheaded monsters she now watches over day and night while Red Skull slips out nightly tries to buy rounds of Weizenbock with Nazi gold.

But Doom's word is bond, and Doom shall feed that mob, and then Doom shall give them the Boot of Shoo to their collective Aryan asses. Doom's shows are on. Doom's feet demand attention from the manicurebots.

Tonight's Dish: Steak au poivre
For this delight, Doom commands you to prepare the following (recipe reduced for two people):
1 pound of top loin or beef tenderloin
1/2 cup of beef broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons butter

Doom commands you to press the pepper into the steaks on both sides of each cut.

Doom commands you to melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and apply the steaks. They must cook for 10-13 minutes depending on thickness. Turn them once in this timespan.
When the steaks are finished, Doom commands you to remove steaks from skillet. Keep the drippings in the skillet, filthy cur.

Doom commands you to add the broth to drippings and scrape up the crusty bits which are delicious. Then you shall add the cream and mustard. Under punishment of disintegration, you will bring to a boil and continue to gently boil for 5 minutes or until sauce has reduced by a 1/2 cup.

Doom permits you to choose the preferred side for the meal. Doom this day has chosen jasmati rice, and he drizzles the sauce upon the steak and rice as he deems proper. Doom also prepares a small loaf of bread with which to sop up the remaining sauce for it is as delectable as Doom's reflection.

Doom commands you to savor. And Doom commands Red Skull's personal herd to get to steppin'.

P.S. Fuck Richards.

Planning Ahead

We're looking at daycare options in both towns. Your Industrious Sister visited one prospect yesterday morning, and I met her to visit the second during my lunch break. That one is a church daycare, which isn't as big a deal for me as it could be. They seem to shy away from religious teaching and focus on manners and maturity. We got a quick walkthrough during their naptime. We saw the kitchen, the playground, the toddler room. The options seemed nice, and it's within two miles of Your Parents' house. That's certainly convenient for me and for them, if they had to fetch him.

In our rushed visit, I asked two questions: Who dispenses medicine (the teachers, according to parent instructions) and how do you punish (with redirection and removal from the specific trouble). This place seemed like a sure thing for us whenever we decide to enroll him. When I got home, Your Exacting Sister said the two other daycares she visited impressed her more. At least one of them is also in Asheville. I don't see that happening this year, but Your Anxious Sister may get the itch to do more school stuff before next fall.

I have mostly fond memories of my daycare days, but the distance from his house and his potential friends may be a problem. He couldn't attend many get-togethers on the weekends. But, as I think of it, I didn't see any of my daycare buddies after hours.

Your Crestfallen Sister is wrestling with the possibility that the mancub now demands more milk than she can produce in one feeding. We're not positive of this, however, and I try to reassure her. His unhappiness after nursing may be due to the new Vitamin D medicine or too much caffeine in her coffee. She took it personally but was buoyed by a handful of M&Ms.

One of the school's science teachers put out a call for lumber. We donated heaps of empty baby-gift boxes to him a few months back, and it seems both materials are going to school garden projects. If we give him the wood taken from our deck as it's remodeled, we could get a tax deduction.

I have reserved a table at next year's Fanaticon. I also have thrown in my hat for the collector card experiment. Convention artists are submitting art for cards that will be distributed throughout the town. I think it sounds cool. I'm excited to do it.

I ran for the first time in a long time. It was a cheat; I only did the military boot camp jog, but I did make it two miles.

Picture of the Day
This meal is getting butter all the time.

Wednesday, August 25

An Objective Look

We took advantage of a cooler summer evening to plop the mancub in his stroller and travel the new bike path. The relative quiet gave us a chance to unpack some tensions before a late supper. While Your Organized Sister has managed to keep pace with her teacher workshop material and steer a new AP teacher through the pre-semester jitters, she's still locked in a house with a sporadic eating machine. She gets frayed. And it cycles through me and back to her, and we need to clear the air sometimes. We got that last night. All is good.

She did admit as we collapsed into bed that she hasn't yet told the boy she loves him. She said this with some concern, and I assured her that he has yet to earn it. I was slightly joking. We, of course, still beleive in this experiment, and in many ways he is only a catalyst. We react to what he does, try to find a pattern, and establish schemes to turn off the crying alarm. She has a greater degree of exposure, and she develops the routines, and I maintain them as best I can.

Regardless of the traces of personality we see, he's still a cypher. He speaks a different language. He has no common experience to share. He is need manifest. We can only respond and placate. In other words, there's not a lot to love about this guy yet. We'll get there when he can bring more to the party. We serve parental duties, but I don't feel like a parent yet. A janitor, perhaps.

His gooey eye remains so, and I learned this weekend I had the exact same problem as a baby.

In other news, the school carpentry teacher came by the house. We asked him a few months back about using his students to rebuild our deck. He said it would be no problem. His kids need something to make between housing projects. They'd also like to build a new workshed if we're happy with the deck. Hopefully, this can be done before the annual jack o'lantern party.

Picture of the Day
See, I'm thinking only people who do have dinosaurs need a sign saying so.

Monday, August 23

On the Road

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the public wedding, we met up with Travis and Kathy at one of the ice cream stands outside the national forest.

Quick sidebar: Lauren's bachelorette party was almost exactly five years after she helped us throw our wingding.

Bizarre combinations of creams were devoured. Their children were delighted, and we could tell that their parenting styles had loosened with the second daughter. The first child sat on the bench, eating from a cone without spilling a drop. Neat as a pin. The youngest, newest child sat on the table and plastered in chocolate ice cream. Our man-cub stayed in his baby seat atop the table and slept, much to our relief. We met some former students who cooed over him and caught us up on their college plans.

The next morning, we drove to Spartanburg so My Mom could show off the deputy. And she did. The neighbor lady rushed over and didn't even acknowledge me as she scooped him out of my arms. I was a conduit for old-lady glee. We took a bottle with us so Mom could feed him, and she observed my diapering skills. She showed off her new pool, but lingering rain kept us of it. I'm not sure the deputy could handle chlorinated water anyway. We drove home in the afternoon and stopped by the pub for dinner. The car seat does not breathe, and any ride leaves him sweaty and cranky. We soothe him the best we can. Wipes cool him down a bit. Before we got out of the parking garage, we were semi-swarmed by students eager to view the baby. Once inside, the wait staff swarmed to see the baby. Fellow teachers came by and took in the baby. He's quite the conversation piece. I again see why motherhood is an attractive notion to outcast teenage girls: Babies bring the people to you.

We carried him to the store the next day, and his growth was made clear. He's a totally different body in that front carrier now. It's comforting to him to get that proximity, where he usually fidgets and chirps when otherwise held. That contraption is soothing somehow. I talk to him in it constantly so he can feel my conversation through my ribs. I sound like a moron as I move through the store. Again, people set a low orbit around him. He slept as we ate brunch downtown. Even before we began trying for a baby, we agreed that we'd drag a crying child out of a public venue. We see -- and hear, oy -- too many kids allowed to bur themselves out in stores and restaurants, and we shan't have that. Twice he made noise this weekend at restaurants, and we thankfully calmed him down before we needed to remove him. We could finish our meals in peace. Sunday night, he sat on the table again under a tree canopy and dozed while we scarfed bar food. He loves watching outdoor movements. He's also noticing the TV, and who can blame him? It's five times as big as him, and its hi-def. I think our neighbors can watch our TV.

We gave him his first tag team bath that night. We first washed his head at the kitchen sink and then bathed him in a tub seat in her bathroom. He managed it fine until he was out of the water and getting cold. He got lots of parent face time this weekend, and we felt more like adoring parents and less like caretakers and nurses. I'm growing to love him more as he develops a personality. Your Concerned Sister is a mite fearful of his long-off days of riding schoolbuses and facing bullies. I assured her we'll raise him differently than I was; he'll be taught to punch back and shown where to hit when he cannot avoid a bully. If he must go down, he'll go down singing, and I'll gladly tell any tut-tutting principal that he'll do so if no teacher or bus driver can prevent the bullying.

Also Your Squeamish Sister continually asserts that I will talk to the boy about sex, and I contend that getting the female POV will do him good too. I certainly could have used it in my clueless teen years.

Lots of hypotheticals fly around in our house. We hope to prepare ourselves as much as him. But we know we'll get blindsided by something. We gird. We joke. I quietly continue to think I do too little.

Picture of the Day
Oh, hi, America. Welcome to PBS's new show, Freakish Delights of the Netherworld. I'm your host, Donovan Alleyskulker. I'm a wereshark.