November 25, 2013

Tommy Can You Hear Me?

We don't have too many ear infection horror stories, not nearly as many as lots of parents out there. Our kids don't seem to get very many which is great since we never hear about it when they do.

Beth was cleaning Owen's ears yesterday when he began alternately screaming and sobbing. He then informed us that his ear hurt. And had for a couple of days. After a quick doctor visit he was diagnosed with an ear infection. When we looked back at the last few days it all made perfect sense. This lack of complaining is par for the course with Owen, Mia and ear infections. Mia never complained until it was too late. We once took her to the doctor because we seriously believed she'd gone deaf. She was diagnosed with two massive ear infections and hadn't complained one bit. Last summer she had another doozie which left her with a ruptured eardrum. Again, no complaints.

The symptoms of ear infections just don't register with Mia or Owen until it's too late. They'll talk for hours about a scratch they got on the playground but god forbid they have a crippling (literally) ear infection.

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Haiku For Monday #473

Praise be to the three
day week. Oh, and indians
and pilgrims. Forgot.

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Video Killed The Radio Star

I love my daughter. She is one of the kindest, smartest and most gifted girls to have ever walked this earth. She's a wonderful big sister, a fantastic singer, an excellent writer and she can already to more math than me. Mia is, however, the worst person to watch music videos with.

For an hour this weekend we watched a seemingly endless string of Taylor Swift videos. The dulcet-toned pop-country monotony was broken only by the occasional entrance of Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding and Katy Perry. I realized two things:

1. Mia loves music videos.
2. Mia totally does not get the concept of music videos.

First, Mia rejects the concept of lip-syncing though I've told her that never in the history of the music video has an artist performed live. This does not satisfy her. It's weird. In fact, anything she doesn't understand is weird and honestly most things are weird. Selena Gomez' booty shorts are weird (I agree), Katy Perry in leopard print is weird, and Dave Grohl dressed up like an airplane pilot is weird. Old videos are archaic relics of a long-lost age, they Extreme guys singing More Than Words look like girls, and Slash's hat doesn't make any sense. And all of the above elicited a long line of questioning.

All that said, watching Mia watch videos is pretty awesome. Despite the questions, it's pretty obvious that this kid loves music and dislikes booty shorts. I'm okay with both of those things.

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November 22, 2013

The Weeklies #273

The Weekly Drugs. Steroids and antibiotics.

The Weekly Music Video Artist. Taylor Swift. Mia and I watched nearly all of Taylor's videos last night. As far as popstars goes, she's not terrible.

The Weekly Asshat. George Zimmerman. Don't you think in his position you'd just try to disappear?

The Weekly Read. A Series Of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning. Somehow Mia managed to get hooked on the series by Lemony Snicket and she insisted that both Beth and I read them as well. She was totally right. The book is funny, smart, and incredibly unfortunate (though that misfortune doesn't detract from the book's wonder). Now, I've continued into the series and I won't spill any secrets but so far the first is among the best.

The Weekly Genuine Awesomeness That Better Not Suck. Monty Python reunion! And now we must all cut down a mighty oak with...a herring!

The Weekly Dumbest Headline on CNN. Goats Found in Jose Canseco's Car.

The Weekly Music. So, about Taylor Swift. You know that Taylor Swift song she does with the lead singer of Snow Patrol? Mia loves it. And now she loves Snow Patrol. Parenting win.

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November 21, 2013

Wherein The Word "Amazing" Is Applied to a Description of Medical Care

(I hereby swear I will stop talking about my face tomorrow. Really.)

The war against whatever it is that took root on my face has claimed another victim. My primary care doctor.

Yesterday afternoon, on the way home from Monkeytown, I decided to seek a second opinion for this damn face thing. After visiting my primary care doctor twice and being told to make an appointment with a dermatologist so busy I had to make an appointment for early 2018, I swung by this new walk-in place close to home.

It was amazing.

I was greeted nicely. A very perky woman took all my information and promised me I'd be called back by a nurse in less than five minutes. (My inner medically experienced monologue said something like yeah, right.) I was only halfway through my current round of Candy Crush before I was ushered out of the waiting room. My vitals were taken by an incredibly friendly nurse and I was shown to a room. (This is the point at which my inner monologue thought this was some kind of scam and that I'd either be forced to buy a timeshare for medical treatment or wake up in an ice-bath with a missing kidney.) Less than five minutes later the doctor came by, introduced himself, and promptly diagnosed me with fuckedupfaceitis (I can't remember the real term). I was asked if I wanted my prescription filled there, I said sure, and 30 seconds later the doctor returned with said prescription. I was told to have a wonderful day by no less than three people and was back in my car, headed home, after only a half hour. Yeah, thirty minutes.

Like I said, it was amazing.

I realized several things during this:

- We accept substandard patient experiences and we don't have to. This place was quick, friendly, and incredibly professional. It took almost every kind of insurance, was no more expensive than traditional doctor's offices and was far more pleasant. That's what we should expect. It shouldn't be the exception.

- It's okay to cheat on your doctor. Sometimes they don't have all the answers even when those answers may be obvious. They're human.

- Hunches are sometimes correct. I knew my initial diagnosis wasn't right. It didn't feel right. It's worth listening to yourself...unless yourself is telling you to put on a clown suit and hunt mailmen.

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November 19, 2013

Do Cancerous Neck Tumors Itch?

Sub-dermal bumps may be serious. You should check with your doctor immediately.

Thanks Google. Advice - never seek medical advice from the Internet unless you're willing to a) see disturbing imagery, b) hear horror stories from disgruntled patients and c) get no reliable medical advice whatsoever.

About two months ago, I discovered something weird on my face. It was like a tiny rash except when I conquered it in one place it moved on me. Evasive tactics. Smart little bugger. I went to the doctor and she prescribed all kinds of wonderful topical creams. Except they did very little. In fact, the rash got pissed and declared all-out war on both the left and right theaters of the war on my head and struck a low blow to my neck. A second visit to the doctor yielded a referral to a dermatologist who I am hoping will prove the Hiroshima to this little metaphor but I won't know for another two weeks since, well, the Enola Gay is booked solid for a couple weeks. In the mean time, I've been advised not to shave and grown something of a beard which insulates me from the stares of frightened little children.

Yes, I'm so vain that I'm pretty sure that song is about me.

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November 18, 2013

The Culture Of Stuff

Beth, the kids and I went out for dinner last week. On our way home, we passed a Best Buy (also known in my house as the Amazon Showroom) and there were a dozen people camped out in front. They wore heavy coats, sat in folding camping chairs and looked genuinely miserable. So I pulled over and asked them what they were camping for. The PS4, it turned out.

Mia and Owen immediately began asking questions about why seemingly intelligent people would camp out for something. I didn't really have a good answer. With the exception of one midnight Harry Potter book release* I've never really lined up or camped out for anything. Because they're things. I'm as addicted to stuff as the next guy. The total number of electronics and internet-connected devices in my house is staggering. But I don't need them to be happy.

As parents, we find ourselves walking a fine line between:

- Wanting our kids to have stuff that will give them advantages in life and make them happy
- Understanding that there are kids in this world who don't have - or understand the concept of - shoes
- Ensuring they don't feel guilty about having shoes but are empathetic about those less fortunate.

Those are very fine lines.

* I think it was the fifth or sixth Potter novel, before Beth and I had kids. We felt a little creepy standing in line childless so spoke very loudly about our poor nephew Timmy who wasn't able to come and get the book himself because of a tragic lobster accident. I'm not sure that helped.

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Haiku For Monday #472

An observation:
Dry Cheerios for breakfast?

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November 15, 2013

The Weeklies #272

The Weekly Reason My Posting Has Been Erratic. Work. Wow it's been crazy!

The Weekly Read. The Bad Beginning is exactly what it sounds like - the beginning of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. Mia picked up the series and insisted that both Beth and I read them. While I've read more than this one (I won't spoil it) this one was among the best and it's seriously good (yet slightly dark and definitely unfortunate).

The Weekly Test Of My Manhood. Okay, I have to admit I have some fucked up face thing (details aren't really necessary but it's red and splotchy) and while I'm not all hideously deformed it's still annoying. After two doctor visits and a referral to a dermatologist (who can't see me until December - asshat) I've been advised not to shave. So, um, yeah...I'm growing a beard. Not something I've ever really undertaken. We'll see how that works out.

The Weekly Music. Since I'm hip and cool (um...) and I heard that all the kids were listening to Lorde, I decided to give her album Pure Heroine a listen. Gotta admit, those hipster douchebags are onto something. She's pretty darn great.

The Weekly Beer. Fat Tire Ale.

The Weekly Event. Beth's Birthday of Awesomeness!

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November 14, 2013

Happy Happy

My wife - you remember her, Mrs. Fish - is celebrating her birthday this very day. She is wonderful and you should tell her so.

I love you, honey. You're the best thing that ever happened to me.

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November 12, 2013

Breaking Stride

I've been a vegetarian for something like 12 years. It started because I wasn't all that interested in meat. It evolved into a moral concern combined with a deep mistrust of a monstrous industry.

I should also explain that while I see many shades of gray in the real world (as one has to), I tend to view my own habits and traits in black or white. I either do something or I don't. I realize this might not be fair to myself or an accurate way to view ones own behavior. But, hey, I am who I am.

So on Sunday night I surprised myself. I ate meat. I was cooking steak for my carnivore son and it smelled incredibly good. Cutting it into pieces for Owen, I snuck a bite. It was yummy but was also seasoned with a healthy dash of personal failure. A couple hours later after being asked to cook more steak to put in Owens lunch I did it again.

I'm not sure how to classify this indiscretion. A change of life? A misstep? Again I have to be binary about it. It can't just be in transition. I can't just take time to makeup my mind. I have to be something.

Am I gong out to buy a steak tonight? Probably not. Am I resigned to a meatless life? I have no idea. Maybe I'll take some time and see how I feel. Though that's totally unlike. Me.

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November 11, 2013

Haiku For Monday #471

To the soldiers and
those who've served - I cannot thank
you enough. Bless you.

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November 7, 2013

Lunch (True)

At the dinner table, we typically play a round of two true, one not. This involves each person coming up with two facts about their day and one blatant lie. The other three guess which is the lie. Last night my three were:

#1. I was so busy today that for lunch all I ate was a bag of chips and a Gatorade. And I drank the Gatorade at 4:00.

#2. I met a woman named Ya'Wanna Rock.

#3. A random homeless man screamed at me for no apparent reason.

As odd as it may sound, #1 was the lie.

So as I got Owen into the bath, my girls - Beth and Mia - headed off to the grocery store to buy me the ingredients for a lunch I could take to work. Then they made it and packed it for me.

I talked about Owen's awesome kindness yesterday but he's not alone. Beth and Mia are wonderfully awesome as well. I'm lucky. Ya'Wanna Rock, well, that's another story.

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November 6, 2013


If there is one story, one anecdote that describes Owen it is this.

Owen has a problem in kindergarten and that problem's name is Alex. It's unclear exactly what kind of emotional trauma Alex is going through - it could be something at home, it could be adjusting to school - but Alex is mean. For several weeks, Alex did nothing but punch Owen and get sent to the office. Then he started picking on others. He spent long stretches of time in the office, listening, I'm sure, to the assistant principal read him the riot act. And while the violence against Owen has subsided, clearly there's something going on.

Last night Owen spent a half hour with his rainbow loom and a pile of rubber bands making a bracelet for Alex. He won't listen to our advice of not engaging Alex because he's simply incapable of ignoring someone who is struggling with something. He wants to invite Alex to his birthday party. He is going out of his way to be Alex's friend, Because he figures that Alex just needs a friend. And maybe he's right.

This kid is amazing. He's frustrating, maddening, too clever for his own good and I'm pretty sure he can read every book in his room but won't tell us...but he's kind. And while I want many things for my kids, the most important to me is kindness.

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November 5, 2013

The Dream Hat

Meet Ed.

Okay, step back.

The insanely cute boy in the picture is named Owen. Ed's the hat.

Another step back.

Yes, I named a hat. I named it Ed. Ed was a constant companion through high school and college and at some point - there may have been alcohol involved - I dubbed him Ed, grabbed a Sharpie and wrote his name inside the hat. It is there to this very day.

Anyway, Owen is sometimes afraid at night, especially fearful of having bad dreams. When Mia went through something similar, we found a bandana, magically filled it with good dreams, and tied it around her head. Owen did the bandana thing once but quickly gravitated towards Ed as his good dream delivery vehicle. Every night over the past week we've loaded my stinky old hat with good dreams, popped it on Owen's head and he's drifted off to sleep.

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November 4, 2013


Yesterday, I build stilts. Yes. Stilts.

See, on Saturday, we all headed to a local colonial festival type thing. If you live in or around the mid-Atlantic or New England you know the drill.

1) Find an appropriate historical setting.
2) Convince a small army of people to cloak themselves in historical dress and reenact both commonplace activities (spinning yarn, cleaning guns, weaving ye olde sweaters) and battles
3) Teach civilians about commonplace activities and battles whilst being hot and itchy.

So, yes, the children learned all about colonial-era activities and battles whilst being chilly (since it was, indeed, cool and windy). The most fun activities, however, were the toys colonial-era kids played with. Their favorites were the stilts. They spent hours and hours trying to balance and walk on the stilts. Which is why I headed to Home Depot first thing Sunday morning, bought lumber and a circular saw, and cobbled together two pairs of stilts.

I did pretty well. And so did they.

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Haiku For Monday #470

Daylight saving time,
damn you, you've fucked my head up.
Sun, I can't quit you.

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November 1, 2013

The Weeklies #271

The Weekly Holiday. Halloween. Veddy, veddy skeddy!

The Weekly Affliction. A cold that's somehow rendered my deaf in my right ear.

The Weekly Read. John Rector writes dark, noir novels and his latest, Out of the Black is absolutely no exception. It's a well-told story of good gone wrong but somehow it doesn't seem like a story-line that's worn out its welcome. It has to be said, though, that despite Rector's talent - and unlike his other stellar novels - the novel is a bit forgettable and perhaps not indicative of his best work. Still, an average Rector novel is pretty damn good.

The Weekly Music. I'm kinda digging Ellie Goulding these days. Sure, I picked her two albums up for the kids, mainly the pop-addicted girl-child but somehow her stuff ended up on my iPhone and somehow I found myself listening to those albums and, somehow, I found myself liking them. Now, Ellie isn't nearly as good as the new Paul McCartney album, New, which is stellar. But, still, she's got a good thing going.

The Weekly Beer. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

The Weekly Question. Rainbow Looms - wonderful creative fun or the devil's work?

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