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Showing posts with label Charles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charles. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 05, 2018 No comments

When you go to the delicatessen store…

I’m one of those people who like liverwurst. Always have. I gave it up for a while, what with the weight gain and high blood pressure, but Boar’s Head came out with a lite version the has lots less fat and sodium, and is still pretty tasty.

A few weeks ago, I got a quarter pound. As the deli guy was slicing it up, I thought, “Hey, Charlie likes food with this texture. I wonder if he’d like this.” So the next evening, I made him a sandwich and offered the corner.

NOM!
Charlie likes sandwiches okay. But when he got a taste of this, he grabbed it out of my hand and gobbled it down. Now up to this point, whenever he got hold of a sandwich, he would open it up, remove the meat, and eat the bread. Not this time, or any time since! The experiment was a roaring success, and I might have got one sandwich out of the batch.

So I found myself at the grocery store a few days later. I got half a pound this time, figuring maybe I could sneak a sandwich or two for myself. I came home and told the wife I got Charlie and me some liverwurst. Charlie heard this, and pushed me into the kitchen. “It doesn’t matter if I just ate or not, I want some of that good stuff!” Next time, Charlie was with me, and he got the sample slice (plus a slice of beef bologna, which he also liked pretty well).

Once again, we were out. I picked up Charlie from daycare on the way home from work this evening, and decided to grab a whole pound this time (because I still only get two sandwiches out of a half pound after Charlie gets through with it). We headed toward the deli, and he pointed and hooted, remembering how he’d scored a freebie last time. Once again, he got the sample. He finished it while they were slicing the cheese, and he signed “more.” Sure, why not? A couple pieces of liverwurst won’t hurt anything.

But he wasn’t through. As I rolled through the store on the way to grab a box of diapers, he wanted another piece. And another. And one more at the checkout. Then, when we got home, he devoured all but two bites of a peanut butter sandwich.

So when you go to the delicatessen store, grab another pound of liverwurst for Charlie and me. What we have now won’t stay around long.

Thursday, November 29, 2018 3 comments

It Don't Mean a Thing

Some cleanup required
I was bonking around in the garage Sunday afternoon, not doing much important, when I ran across Mason’s old porch swing. “Too bad I don’t have anything to hang it on,” I thought. “Charlie might like to swing in it.”

Then I remembered…

Some years back, we had a yard swing. It moved between the front and back yards as the whim struck whoever was sitting in it, until a bored and unsupervised Skylar destroyed the canopy with a stick, along with the sling that kept the upholstery against one’s sitting parts. The frame sat in the back yard, until someone decided to raid it for the hardware. The pieces have been sitting out back ever since.

With Mason looking on, I started to work on the jigsaw puzzle; it clicked after a couple minutes. Next was to find suitable hardware: 3” bolts and nuts. Amazingly, the first drawer I looked in had the bolts, and they were the perfect thickness! Could it really be that easy?

I've been framed!
Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows the answer: nothing at FAR Manor is that easy. The bolts had two different thread pitches—finding nuts for one pair was easy, the other… not so much. But I refused to believe I had bolts without matching nuts somewhere. Finally, a prolonged scrounging session turned up one, then another, along with a set of bent washers (meant to follow the contour of a pole), so that was useful.

It took far longer, of course, to find the parts than to assemble them. I used a couple disinfectant wipes to clean off the swing bucket, then hung it on the frame. The bottom of the swing was about three inches off the ground, if that. So I pulled the ropes out of the bottom and tied them to raise the swing off the ground.


It works, Granddad!
With that, Charlie tried out the swing and seemed to enjoy it. It’s now sitting next to the gazebo.

I’m not done with the project just yet. My first thought was to hacksaw about 18 inches off the top bar to bring the hooks a little closer together. Wife had another idea… which I hope to show in Part 2.

Friday, November 02, 2018 3 comments

Friday Charlie blogging

Charlie knows it’s important to accessorize when you’re hitting the town on Friday night…

I’m going to regret this when I’m older.
A big string of shiny beads—and, of course, Mason’s colorful undies as headgear!

Note: He did this without my help or encouragement. I just took the picture afterwards.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 3 comments

The World's Cutest Pirate 2.0

Six years ago, Mason was the world’s cutest pirate.

Well, Charlie has to try to do everything Mason does, so…


The kids at church did a “reverse trick or treat” (in which the kids dropped off treats for the seniors) at a local assisted living center over the weekend, which explains the background. Charlie, of course, charmed many of the residents with his sunny disposition and curiosity. I was surprised that he mostly kept the headscarf on.

His granddad is still ready to plunder some booty, if he gets the chance…

Wednesday, May 02, 2018 3 comments

Charlie Talks to the Birds

I had Charlie out in the gazebo Sunday evening, because he likes to be outside and I wanted him to see the low beach chair I found in the garage for him. He saw it, gave me a big grin, and sat in it for a long time.

Soon enough, he got up and played on his slide a little… then he heard the birds. They chirped, he squeaked… and I was thinking, “Is he doing what I think he’s doing?” Yup. I got video. You might have to turn the sound up a little; I boosted it as much as I could, though.



Sometimes, the normal FAR Manor weird gets delightfully weird…

Monday, April 30, 2018 3 comments

Weekend Roundup

Most of Mason’s soccer games are at the local park, but each season they have two or three out of town matches. Saturday’s game was up in Towns County, pretty close to the North Carolina border.

I had Maps plot a course, which skirted Helen (probably very busy on a warm spring weekend) and took us up GA75 toward Hiawassee. We put the top down and I thrashed the Miata up that winding mountain road, a very enjoyable trip once the passing lane opened up and I got past the slowpokes.

Our destination was Foster Park, on Foster Road. Fortunately, Mason wanted to leave early, because Maps treated us to one of its rare hiccups, finding us a 1.5-lane Foster Rd. that ended in a church parking lot. After turning around and driving right past the place we actually wanted, I pulled up Google Maps and got the right directions. (I’ve had Google Maps totally fail as well, which is a good reason to have both.) The upshot was, we got there in plenty of time.

There’s not much to be said about the game itself. Mason took the goalie position for the second half, and only allowed one to get past him (which was pretty good because his teammates were offering little to no defense, and not a whole lot of offense). Since the game started at 4:30pm, I figured we’d find a place to eat there before coming back home—and when the coach texted all of us to welcome us to her alma mater (Young Harris College), I figured she would know a good place. Her son is Mason’s best friend, except for the matter of this one girl (c’mon, they’re all 8!), so hanging out after the game was a no-brainer.

Supper, then home. Maps knows where I live, and helpfully plotted a nice set of backroads. We went down Track Rock Rd, where some of my relatives once lived, and then thrashed the Miata down US19/129 before heading home. Despite having only all-season radials, I never felt like we were going to spin out or anything… so maybe I wasn’t pushing it that hard after all. We only had a couple of tire chirps and one squeal, which was probably because I was on the paint on the inside of a right-hander. It got chilly enough that Mason (who is even more of a top-down fiend than me) was ready to put the top up early on in the drive home, but we did keep the windows down. Definitely a case of the journey being more important than the destination..

And there was evening and morning, another day.

Swingin’
Sunday after church, the wife suggested we take the boys to the park after lunch. She couldn’t stay past lunch, but I figured Mason and Charlie would have a pretty good time. As it turned out, I was right. Mason alternated between the jungle gym and riding his bicycle in the parking lot.

As for Charlie, he enjoyed the swings. He liked the slides. But the big attraction was the large fenced-in playground space. He spent most of his time running loose, and all I had to do was follow him around and make sure he stayed out of the one muddy spot under the big-kid swings. His random sort-of orbit would occasionally take him to the picnic table, where I had left his sippy and diaper bag, and he would guzzle some lemonade before taking off anew. At one point, a bunch of girls started screaming, and Charlie turned around and joined in. If you heard a chorus of Joyous Ear-Splitting Shrieks™ over the weekend, that was probably them.

Of course, like Mason at that age, he generated an Atomic Diaper. I just laid him on the picnic table and took care of it. (Mason, despite being the same age I was when I first changed an Atomic Diaper, has not worked up the nerve to try. Kids these days, y'know?)

At last, the wife returned from her errands. To my surprise, both Mason and Charlie put up no fuss about going home. I figured, in Charlie’s case at least, he had worn himself out with all the running and would zorch out pretty quick. No such luck—he was wound up, and it was closer to 10pm before he finally gave up for the night.

Looking at the extended forecast, spring has finally chased the last vestiges of winter back to the Arctic. The sun is shining, birds are singing… and I got video of Charlie talking back to the birds. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 06, 2018 2 comments

Here's Your Sign

“More” (hungry kid)
While Charlie is still non-verbal at age 2, his speech therapist says he understands a lot more than the average 2 year old. Meanwhile, the speech therapist, daycare, and the wife are teaching him some sign language (ASL). I remember reading about kids who skip the baby talk until they’ve figured out how to speak in complete sentences, and I kind of hope that’s what Charlie will do.

Still, he usually manages to make himself understood. That’s a lot easier when your surrogate parents have raised a handful of kids, and been around a bunch more. I can often tell when a baby at a restaurant is hungry or just wants attention by the edges in the crying. It’s hard to explain, but I’m usually right, judging from what the kid’s doing after quieting down.

Anyway… back to Charlie. A lot of times, he’ll start to fuss when I put him in the playpen (a/k/a “cage”—a nice roomy cage with lots of toys, but it’s still confinement). I’ll say, “You know the drill; I’ve got to get stuff ready to go,” and he’ll calm down and start playing. He really does know the drill.

One recent morning, I was getting him ready for the ride to daycare, and his shirt rode up. Belly blast (blowing loud raspberries on his belly) time! He laughed, then signed “more.”

"More what?” I asked.

He pushed his belly out. More belly blasts!


This evening, I was getting his bottle ready. (He drinks out of a cup now, but still likes his bottle for nighty-night.) Back when Mason was a baby, I'd count down the last ten seconds before the microwave finished up, and I’ve been doing the same with Charlie. Somewhere along the way, Mason started whispering “Tin!” and pointing at the timer, trying to get the countdown to speed up (I point to each number as it counts down). Tonight, Charlie grunted and pointed at the display for the first time. He’s not saying “ten,” but it’ll come.

Sometimes, I wonder if Mason’s fascination with numbers partly stem from those late-night microwave countdowns. Speaking of Mason… as this is Spring Break week on Planet Georgia, he’s spending the week with his dad. He was supposed to come back yesterday, but asked if he could stay until Saturday. Skylar stays with us most evenings, to provide some surrogate noise, but it’s mostly been a quiet week. I’ll be glad when the rugrat is home, though.

Thursday, March 29, 2018 1 comment

Patching Things Up

Charlie is mostly laid back, but he definitely has a lazy eye. A few weeks ago, we got to head down to the 'burbs to see an eye doctor—whether they specialize in pediatric eye care, or have an “in” with the state, what does it matter? Wife wanted me to take a day off work and come along… since it was on a Thursday, I also took Friday and made it a four-day weekend.

I was curious how they would get a squirmy toddler to look where they wanted, and I found out. They have a number of gadgets designed to get a child’s attention—a mechanical owl on the other side of the room, a clown toy that does jumping jacks when you push a button—yet another one of those it’s obvious when you think about it things.

yawwwwwn uh… arrrrr.
The upshot was, Charlie has to wear a patch on his left eye for two hours per day for the next month or so. They gave us a handful of samples to get us started, and (of course) you can get nearly two months’ supply on Amazon for $20 or so (and we did).

The cool thing about the big box is that it has an assortment of patterns—camo, wizard (robe, wands, Harry Potter-esque glasses), rockets… and, of course, pirates! By the time I got this picture, Charlie was well on the way to lala-land. I ended up peeling the patch off (which woke him up a little, of course) and putting him to bed soon after.

It only took a couple days for Charlie to mostly stop picking at the patch while he has it on. Once it’s on, if we keep him occupied for a couple of minutes, he pretty much forgets about it unless he gets bored. So far so good. Getting daycare to remember the patch is kind of hit-or-miss right now, though. Oh well. One thing at a time.

When it comes time to take it off, though, I guess Charlie knows to keep his eyes peeled…

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 No comments

Horsing Around

BIG doggie!
Charlie continues to get therapy for his developmental issues. Besides the occupational therapist who makes house calls on Thursdays, he goes to a clinic for speech and physical therapy.

Part of the latter involves horses—they say it helps with his balance. The clinic has a large indoor area where they can control the situation as well as the climate.

Charlie’s first encounter with a horse went rather well, I’d say. At least he didn’t freak out. i could imagine some kids being intimidated by a critter that size.

So he was comfortable getting face to face with a horse; how about getting on and taking a ride? That went pretty well, too. He sat up straight and enjoyed it:


Check out that big grin as he goes by the wife. He’s loving every minute of it.

Of course, with so much excitement, he didn’t get a nap today. I finally finished a work project that has been dragging on FOREVER, and we celebrated with a night out. Charlie was enamored of the service dog at the table next door, and managed to eat fairly well. But he refused to go down for the night until he had his bottle. Priorities! But he did go down early…

Thursday, January 11, 2018 2 comments

Brace Yourself

With Charlie’s second birthday, he’s finally starting to take those all-important solo first steps. To give him a little more practice, I’ve been walking with him some, trying to get him to hold only one hand and walk beside me. (Besides, I’m less likely to step on his feet that way.)

A while back, one of the therapists said he would need braces to get his feet aligned properly. I immediately conjured a mental image of the hardware Forrest Gump wore in the early part of the movie. But when he came home with them, I had a surprise:

Ankle brace, really
Just a foam-lined plastic cup that goes around his ankle, and a Velcro™ strap to hold it on. To be honest, I'm not sure how they work. They’re called Supra-Malleolar Orthoses (or SMOs), and are designed to be worn with shoes.

Now shoes were an interesting issue. Charlie’s feet are still pretty thick, although not as blobby as they used to be, and he’s supposed to wear shoes over the braces. The orthopedist suggested a wide shoe, a little oversize with laces, and we figured he would need an 8W. Surprise! Most shoe stores didn’t have anything suitable. After a few attempts, I gave up and went to the nearby Target. We soon found out why the orthopedist recommended laces—between the brace and Charlie’s thick foot, the Velcro straps barely reached across at best.

Amazingly enough, I found a pair of shoes that fit the bill:


High-tops, no less!
High-tops? Well, they fit. The zipper on the side turned out to be the key there—unzipping it gave enough room to slide the braced foot in without having to unlace the entire shoe.

Unfortunately, the shoes aren’t very well-balanced… something one might expect from a big-box shoe. They’re too heavy in the toe, so Charlie was dragging his toes when we walked with him. The orthopedist gave us a set of shoes that are made to work with the SMOs—at least the Velcro strap goes all the way across. They’re kind of clompy-looking, but they do seem to work. We’ll keep the high-tops for when he’s older and no longer needs the braces.

Let the Games Begin

Now this is the world according to Charlie:

Paper is treasure.
Bread is dessert.
Anything on his feet is an abomination.

Keeping socks on his feet has always been a chore. Any time he gets a moment to think, off they come. One morning, I was taking him to daycare in the Miata (he likes riding in the little car, because I’m always within reach). He made his “heyyy” noise, and I glanced over. He had one foot in the air, and his hand on the end of his sock.

“Don’t do it,” I told him. He grinned and yanked it off. Little rat.

Now, to get his socks off, he has a couple other things to remove first. Developmental issues my rear; he may still be non-verbal, but he figured out how to pull those Velcro straps quick enough. Ah, and the satisfying ripping noise they make! Rip, and the shoe can come off. Rip, and there goes the SMO. The sock doesn’t make any noise, but bare feet in the breeze makes up for that. Usually, he works one foot at a time. Given a trip of any significant distance, and he’s either asleep or barefoot (or both) at the end of the journey. With the cold (by Planet Georgia standards) weather we got with Winter #2, it was often a mad scramble to get his footgear back on before getting him out. Sometimes, like at the grocery store, we just left the gear in the car and took him inside barefoot. Cold doesn’t bother him.

He still prefers to crawl—but as his balance continues to improve, he often free-stands and will walk short distances (four or five steps). His biggest problem is he’s trying to lean forward and run before he can walk. It won’t be long before we’re shoring up all the old baby-proofing and hearing Mason rage-scream about Charlie messing up his stuff.

Friday, October 20, 2017 1 comment

Four O'clock Charlie

Image source: openclipart.org
Of course, I’m riffing on the classic M*A*S*H episode Five O'Clock Charlie here, but it’s not terribly humorous at the moment.

After last week’s “July in October,” this week has been more seasonable. It was cold enough, yesterday morning, that I had to start the furnace. But it seems like, with fall actually feeling like fall, Charlie decided to level up in Sleep Fight Club. He has developed quite a few techniques for keeping himself awake lately, including slapping himself over the head and the classic refusing to sit still.

Then, when we finally get him to sleep, he wakes himself up around 4 a.m. and howls until someone comes and gets him. Wife has been bringing him into the bedroom and letting him lay with us… which might have been a mistake, because now he expects to sleep with us.

Needless to say, neither the wife nor I have slept well this week. Charlie likes to flip and flop, and we’re constantly worried he’s going to roll off the edge. One of us bails for the living room, not that it’s much more comfortable on the couch or a lounger.

Worst case, I’m traveling on business Monday through Wednesday, so I’ll have a couple nights in a quiet (I hope) hotel room. Maybe he’ll settle down and go back to sleeping all night. Maybe pigs will fly out my, um, jet exhaust.

Friday, September 22, 2017 4 comments

Boys, Books, Birthdays, and B…

Get the shot, Granddad, I’m about to pull it off!
Somewhere along the line, I’ve become Charlie’s favorite. It might be because, most days, I’m the first person he sees in the morning and the last at night. I also spend a fair amount of time with him through the evenings, usually either reading to him or helping him walk through the house. He likes to go from one end of the house (door to the garage off the kitchen) to the other (shower door in the master bath), then back. Several times. It’s beneficial in several ways: he enjoys it, it helps to wear him out and get him ready for bed, and his (supported) walking has improved greatly over the last couple of weeks. No more drunken stagger, although he does do the pigeon-toe thing.

Most mornings when I drive to the office, I drop him off at daycare. He likes riding in the Miata because there’s always someone next to him. He also likes for me to lay my right hand over on his car seat, so he can touch it. I also keep a little toy car for him to play with. When the sun shines in on his side, he starts squinting, so I grab my hat (much like the one in the pic) and put it on him. He gives me a big grin and pulls it off… I guess he’d rather squint than have something on his head. But that’s what gave me the idea for the picture, and the knowledge I’d have to be quick on the shutter.

Charlie’s favorite book
Oh, and Charlie has re-discovered his joyous ear-splitting screech. He doesn’t reserve it for Mason, either. If he’s enjoying whatever he’s doing or seeing—the dogs tug-of-warring over a chew toy, walking around, Mason doing something silly—he cuts loose. (I’ve often joked about looking forward to going deaf as I get older, even if I wear ear plugs when I mow the lawn, but I’ll likely get a chance.)

I’m sure the hat is a coincidence, but this is his favorite book. When I’m reading this one to him, he doesn’t try to flip to the end to read the blurb or whatever. Personally, I think it’s because he loves the water so much, he’s always ready for a story about a little boy getting to play in/near the water. It’s a blast to watch him in his float, screeching with joy and splashing water everywhere. I want to get him and Mason up to the resort to play in the pool before it gets too cold.

Speaking of Mason, I kind of get the impression he’s been feeling left out lately. I’m constantly taking care of Charlie most evenings and weekends, and the wife is constantly taking care of her dad, so where does that leave him? I take him to soccer practice twice a week, wife takes him to school and occasionally has a dinner date with him. But of late, he’s been hostile, demanding, and often doesn’t want much to do with Charlie. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get out much from May into the first part of August (the resort trip in July taxed my knee and relaxed most everything else). Now that I can do most of what I could do before the knee started acting up, I’m working on changing that. That’s one reason I want to get them both up to the resort.

It will also help (and cause trouble) once Charlie starts walking on his own. The physical therapist that will soon start working with him thinks once he’s fitted with leg braces, he’ll be walking in less than two weeks. On the other hand, the daycare people told me he took one step today, then got really wobbly and sat down. I figure once Charlie starts walking, he’ll be beelining for Mason’s room (his personal concept of Heaven)… the only thing that will slow him down is deciding whether to get into Mason’s Legos, cars, plastic army men, or the rest of it. Angsty teenagers got nothin’ on Mason when someone starts messing with his stuff. Mason turned 8 earlier this month—I told him now he could learn how to change Charlie’s diapers, because I was 8 when I learned how. I think only the father-in-law could have given a better “deer in the headlights” look when I said that.

Will he have the patience?
We got Mason his own book from the book fair. It’s a pretty good how-to on creating stop-motion animations (making a movie one frame at a time), and Legos are a great way to get started with that. Mason, however, is definitely a child of the wife’s side of the family—no patience, and will argue with a fencepost. First, he expected me to read the entire book to him, when he’s quite capable of reading it himself. (THIRTY-EIGHT PAGES? *rage quits*)

Once he settled down, he went through the book, and learned how to storyboard a movie. He sketched out an idea for a simple “cops and robbers” story, and did a pretty good job of it. But (lack of patience again), he tore one of the backdrops included in the book… the one he wanted to use, of course. I taped it up and it works okay. We’re experimenting with a hybrid of stop-action and motion video, and hope to make some good progress over the weekend. Maybe I’ll have a new Weekend Cinema post for y’all soon.

Thursday, August 03, 2017 1 comment

Hitting My Stride, and Other Stuff

Sunday morning, I went to get something from the kitchen, when I realized I was walking my like old, pre-knee-issues self—long, brisk strides that covered ground with only the tiniest twinge of discomfort from the Whiny Quadriceps. Hey! I thought, I’m back! That, more than anything, convinced me I’m close to fully recovered. After a week of my feet giving me grief, one or both at a time (while Charlie is cutting molars and wants to be held more than usual, which is a lot), it felt really good to walk instead of limp or shuffle.

I guess cutting those molars is really rough on a baby. Charlie is trying to be his normal happy self, but he’ll start crying at anything or nothing at all. But here’s a pic from a couple weeks ago, when Mason also felt like cutting up:

Just me and the boys… Charlie's trying to grab the phone, of course.

With school starting today(!!), we swapped our Labor Day timeshare week for one in July, and so we escaped FAR Manor last week. We spent a lot of time at the pool, and Charlie loves the water. We have a float he can sit in, with his legs in the water, and he can reach out and splash with his hands. Definitely his happy place. But mid-week was when he started cutting molars, and started getting rundown and moody later in the last few days.

Meanwhile, Mason wanted to try this zipline place near the resort, and Skylar stayed with us for the first half of the week, so we took them over there. The big ziplines were beyond their ability, but they had smaller "adventure" runs over a rope bridge, a rolling platform… and finally, a short zipline:



So that’s pretty much the end of summer at FAR Manor, even if we have all of August to get through.

Saturday, June 03, 2017 4 comments

Saturday Rugrat Roundup, plus a Knee Update

Charlie can’t quite reach him… for now.
School’s out, and that means Mason’s around a lot more. Charlie definitely approves of that, and wants to be in on the action as much as possible. But in the mornings, Mason just wants to have some quiet time watching YouTubes or playing Minecraft… and he goes through some rather odd contortions to keep Charlie from interfering.

I’m still mostly at home, although in the last week I’m now able to get in and out of the van without much discomfort. Wife has decided since I can get around with a cane instead of the walker, she can take off to her dad’s and leave me with the boys… pretty much as if I were 100%. Most of the time when I’m supposed to be working, I have the house to myself, but early mornings and late afternoons are problematic.


I was framed! Framed, I tell ya!
As for Charlie, he’s become a very good crawler. He will go from one end of the manor to the other, and find bits of debris and slobbered-on dog toys that mere mortals just can’t see. We bought a pair of 16-foot enclosures/baby fences to cordon off parts of the living room where he shouldn’t go, although they work very good as a baby pen. Naturally, Charlie doesn’t want to be on a clean rug and surrounded by his own toys—he wants to get into everything else! Still, after a couple minutes of complaining, he’ll often settle down and start playing. There’s more room than the old Pack&Play, and we could always add another panel or two from the second one if we decide he needs more room. Charlie’s therapist took to the new setup right away, and enticed him to walk the entire perimeter of his new cage, following her phone playing an episode of Sesame Street.

As for me, I continue to heal. The in-home therapist is satisfied with my range of motion, and this afternoon he discharged me to start outpatient therapy. I’m supposed to get a call on Monday with the schedule (and presumably anything I need to bring along).


I just happened to have one of my twice-yearly checkups on Tuesday, so I went on in. Wednesday, I get a call from the office—when it begins, “you don’t have to go to the ER, but,” it’s not a call to give you the warm fuzzies. Turns out my platelet counts were through the roof, past a million, and they were worried about me developing blood clots. Seeing as someone I know died of a blood clot in her 20s, my stress levels puffed up like a startled blowfish. Anyway, they prescribed me a powerful blood thinner, and scheduled me with a hematologist on Friday. I calmed myself by figuring if I didn’t have to see the specialist for two days, it couldn’t be that serious… although I did keep a mental list of symptoms.

Fortunately, none of the blood-clot-getting-loose symptoms manifested, and I got to the hematologist in good order. They ran another blood test, which showed my platelets were down to 630,000—still way high, but something like half what they were three days ago. My iron was low, though, perhaps for the first time in my life. She thus suggested I cut back my blood thinner dosage (“as fast as that count came down, I don’t want you getting too low”) and start taking an iron supplement, and come back next Friday to see what to do from there.

The low iron would explain why I’ve wanted to have a nap every early afternoon day this week, although my crappy sleep cycles (I haven’t had a normal night’s sleep since before the surgery) could have explained that as well. But I slept all the way to 6 this morning, so I’m hoping to be mostly normal (health-wise, forget the other kind of normal) in the next few days.

Time for my afternoon exercise routine. May you never have to have a knee replacement!

Friday, March 03, 2017 3 comments

Pilgrims Charlie's Progress

I won’t sit here forever!
While the evaluations show significant development issues, most related to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Charlie is making progress. In the last week, he’s finally started sitting himself up, and he’s almost crawling. The report from the psychs lays it out—he’s about six months behind, and they want to confirm he doesn’t have cerebral palsy.

“He’ll have issues with this pretty much his whole life,” they said. I asked if Charlie would be able to become a functioning adult. “It’s too early to tell at this point.” While I won’t, I SO want to punch Badger Boobs for what she did to him. At least she’s been fixed, so she can’t do that to another baby.

Charlie, on the other hand, is a very happy little rugrat. His appetite came roaring back a couple days ago, after the congestion (probably associated with teething) went away. He’s up to ten teeth now, and continues to want to let you feel them. Especially the sharp ends.

He gave me a little scare the other morning. He woke up, chattering contentedly in the crib, about the same time I was getting up. I walked by on the way to the coffee pot, and he had rolled against the end of the crib, legs in the air and playing with the bars. When I came back, he had gotten into his knees and was looking over the side rail with his hands dangling over. Suddenly, the coffee had to be put down while I grabbed the kid. It’s high time to lower the crib mattress, as much as we like the height for diaper changes.

The Pack&Play that used to be his bed is now his playpen. He’ll spend a lot of time in it, until he wears himself out; then he lays down and cries until someone rescues him. Sit him next to Mason, and his mood goes Instant Sunshine, though. I swear, I’ve never known anyone who loves someone the way Charlie loves Mason.

The stationary “roundabout” (it’s like a walker with a base instead of wheels) is also a common play area for him, but for some reason… put him in it, wait 15 minutes, Atomic Diaper. Every time.

Chewed right through the story
His favorite thing these days (besides people) is paper. I keep a sheaf of an old manuscript next to my keyboard, and he likes to pull a sheet (or a bunch of sheets), wave them around, crumple them, maybe chew on them, then drop them on the floor and get another handful. If my books ever become some cult classics for the ages, historians are going to wail and gnash their teeth at what Charlie did to some of that early work, nyuk nyuk.

Ah, if Charlie could talk, what would he say? “Play with me, Mason!” or “Feed me!” would be the top two.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 2 comments

Water, Water Everywhere!

Among his other issues, Charlie has some dietary restrictions. Specifically, he doesn’t tolerate most kinds of formula—Similac Sensitive is the only one we’ve found that 1) doesn’t cause unpleasant reactions; 2) he doesn’t spit out. As he became one year old, WIC added Lactaid (a lactose-free milk brand) to his approved list. “Woohoo,” we said, “maybe a chance to break loose of the formula!”

Nope. It gave him a really bad case of the runs, leading to a bad case of diaper rash. Thus, it fell to me to let him soak in some soothing baby wash while the wife went to baby-sit her dad for a while. Oh, did I mention Charlie loves the water?



So he had a great time. All I had to do was wash his hair, and make sure he didn’t slide forward and bang his head on the back of the sink.

Sunday, January 15, 2017 4 comments

Charlie & Mason Blogging

Mason continues to be one of Charlie's favorite people, as you can see here…

"Are you fighting a… a Diamond Ender Creeper?" "sigh No such thing, Charlie."

Can you believe the little rugrat is a year old now? I mean Charlie, of course. Mason is 7; he only acts like a one year old on occasion. Mason is doing very good in school, especially math, and will be testing for the gifted program early next month. Now if I could only get him more interested in reading.

As for Charlie, we took him to Emory Neurological Evaluation Center earlier this week (at the tail-end of Winter #1) for some tests with a team of psychologists. The schools opened Tuesday, but on a two-hour delay, so we had to keep Mason out of school and take him with us. Give him a fully-charged iPad, and he’s fine with that. They noted Charlie’s issues with coordination and the like, and that his physical appearance indicates Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. (On top of the meth issues. I so want to punch Badger Boobs right now.)

The million-dollar question is, of course, whether he can grow out of all that and lead a normal life. That was not a question they had answers for; but did schedule more tests for next month, including a genetic test.

Still, I see lots of hopeful signs, many that have just started happening. He’s always had good people skills (that, his good looks, and sunny disposition will suit him for management… and even if he isn’t all that bright, that isn’t a handicap for management). He was sick, more on than off, for the last two months but he’s finally moved on past that.

Now that he’s feeling better, he’s acting more aware of stuff going on around him. He’s also fighting sleep tooth and nail, which is only hopeful because The Boy and Mason both did the same and they were both pretty advanced—otherwise, it’s a pain in the butt. Now Daughter Dearest wasn’t much for fighting sleep, and she ended up at least as advanced, so maybe that’s not an indicator. Lately, he wants to squirm off laps and get to the floor, which we tend to forbid unless it’s fairly clean. You can see in his face that he knows he should be able to move himself around by now, and he’s really trying to get it.

But today brought a bunch of “firsts.”

He’s shown a fondness for starches lately (bread, pasta, and now rice). Just this week, he’s really started to get the hang of chewing stuff that isn’t fingers or teething aids. He’ll eat all the bread we’ll give him; usually we’ll break it into small bits and stick it in the ol’ pie hole. Today, the wife put a piece on his highchair tray; he got frustrated after several attempts at trying to pick it up. Me, not knowing about this, tried the same thing a little later. He got it on the second attempt! Then he repeated it, so he’s at least beginning to get the hang of self-feeding. At suppertime, after gobbling his container of baby food, he scarfed a good chunk of potato and a couple spoons of rice, both new foods at least in non-puree form.

In between that, I had him on his play mat on the living room floor. The phone rang, so I laid him on his tummy and grabbed it. I then heard a thump; thinking the wife had come up while I was occupied, I walked through the kitchen to see if she was in the garage. She wasn’t, but I heard Charlie wail. He had somehow gotten off the mat and was in front of Rosie’s pen… a good four feet away, and he had to have turned to get there. He’s not crawling yet, but he can flop from Point A to Point B now. On the bed, I’ve seen him get his knees underneath and scoot forward (especially if I’ve put a toy just out of reach).

With Spring #1 being an unusually warm one, all of us (including Charlie) have been enjoying the outdoors this weekend. If we’re doing stuff, he can at least sit in the stroller and watch. If he gets bored, we just send Mason over to talk to him for a few seconds. We took a brief ride in the Miata with the top down this afternoon, and I’m planning on grilling steaks for lunch tomorrow. In the middle of January, when it’s usually inhospitable outside. I might let him sit in his stroller and watch.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 5 comments

Charlie on the Ball

Hmmm… cushy!
As part of Charlie’s state-supported foster care, someone comes by the manor every couple of weeks from Babies Can’t Wait, a sort-of physical therapy program for babies with developmental issues. She gets to play with other people’s babies all day and get paid for it, although the therapy part is very real and not all babies are nearly as good-natured as Charlie. He enjoys the time, because she brings all sorts of interesting stuff, but does get worn out toward the end of the session. He gave her his “OK, I’ve had enough” growl on Thursday as she was close to wrapping up anyway.

Physically, Charlie is behind, although he’s starting to show signs of catching up. The therapist has been working on his sitting and grasping, and recommends we give him lots of “tummy time” so he’ll get the hang of crawling. (Usually, he just flips onto his back and grins.)

More fun than the flop-over game!
We try to do some of the things the therapist does, both to help him practice doing stuff he should be doing and to wear him out a little. So this morning, I laid a blanket over the carpet in our bedroom and sat with him. He immediately flopped over, so I had to catch him, and Charlie thought that was a fun game! I tried a little tummy time as well; the first time he inchworm’ed forward a foot or so then laid there. After that, he just flipped onto his back and waited for me to play with him. So I grabbed a couple large Duplo blocks from Mason’s stash and one of those huge Mega Blocks. New game: picking up the blocks (it was easier with them upside down at first) and waving them around, occasionally smacking himself for the fun of it and chewing on the corners. He preferred the blue blocks to the red one, at least at first… but most importantly, he sat freestyle (no leaning against Granddad) for a good ten minutes. So he’s capable, he’s just a bit lazy. In a previous therapy session, he did a fine imitation of Monorail Cat, a boneless sprawl over the ball both on his tummy and his back. I really wanted to get a pic of him doing that, but this time he was more interested in sitting on it. (Rosie the Boston Terror gets anxious when the therapist balances Charlie on the ball… it’s rather cute.)

I’m not concerned with his mental development. He’s always understood that when he’s hungry, and we take him in the kitchen and start mixing stuff, it means the food is on the way and he’ll stop crying and fussing unless he’s half-starved. (You can see in the pix how many meals he misses…) He vocalizes plenty, and has recently added “joyous ear-splitting screech” to his repertoire. That one he usually saves for Mason, either as a reaction to his clowning or to tell him, “Hey, do something funny!” Charlie probably won’t start talking as early as The Boy or Mason (both could say a few words well before age 1), but he could well talk before he walks.

Right now, he’s sleeping off his floor time with me. As I was up until 1am last night, and had to get up with Charlie at 7:30, I’d like to be doing the same.

Monday, August 08, 2016 3 comments

Lucky 7 (Months)

Hey, put your finger in here…
Charlie’s 7 months old today. As you can see, he has been cutting teeth for a while. This of course is accompanied by the usual “chew on anything kind of soft” thing that babies do. If you give him a finger, he’ll s-l-o-w-l-y pull it up to his mouth, touch it to his teeth, then start applying pressure. And those teeth are sharp. At least he gives you plenty of warning.

He’s not sitting by himself or crawling just yet, but I can no longer drop him on my bed between two pillows and expect him to stay put. Saturday afternoon, he wriggled out from between the pillows (in his sleep) then flipped over while I took care of some laundry. Fortunately, he didn’t go any farther. Now I know I can’t get away with doing that anymore.

We’re converting the wife’s office, a tiny bedroom really, into his room. That entails moving a bunch of furniture around, as always. Mason’s big enough to help now, which should make life a little easier. The office stuff will go into the corner of the living room where Charlie’s bed (and some other stuff) is now.

Diamond sword something something creeper…
His surrogate big brother Mason is obsessed with Minecraft these days, but he’ll always make room for Charlie to sit and watch. Mason’s always ready to clown around for Charlie, who always appreciates his antics and weird noises.

Charlie, of course, has a bit of clown-sense of his own. Sometimes when I'm giving him a bottle, he'll catch my eye, grin around the nipple, and go “hee heeeee.” That cracks me up, which gets him going, and it turns into a positive feedback loop. Usually, when he does that, he’s had enough bottle anyway.

Stay tuned… always something weird around FAR Manor.

Monday, August 01, 2016 1 comment

Giggle Fits

Yesterday afternoon, after a lawn-mowing session, followed by some fixes and improvements to Mason’s slide and climbing wall, Rosie the Boston Terrible was moaning and woofing at the thunder coming in. Charlie thought that was highly amusing, but that was nothing compared to when I started making fake thunder noises myself.




I thought *I* was easily amused.

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