Archive for July, 2008

Here’s an actual conversation I had with our 3-year-old Friday, transcribed to the best of my recollection:

He: “I want to wear these today.” (grabs a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants flip-flops reappropriated from his older brother, still a few sizes too big for him)

Me: “Let’s not wear those to day care. They keep falling off your feet. Let’s try these.” (grabbing a pair of shoes that actually fit)

He: “Nooooo. I want to wear these.” (gesturing emphatically at the flip-flops)

Me: “But they won’t stay on. You’ve tripped and almost fallen a few times –”


(Repeat this dialogue, essentially, 4-5 times)

Me (developing a new strategy): “OK, you can wear the flip-flops until you get to day care, and then we’ll change shoes.”

He (whimpering): “Oh-h-h-kay.”

Fast-forward five minutes, as he’s climbing into his car seat:

He: “Uh-oh! My shoe just fell off!”

Me: “Well, that’s what I said would happen.”

As we’re pulling out of the driveway:

He: “Oh, no! My shoe fell off AGAIN!”

And then …

He: “OK, let me put my other shoes on.”

Me: “Good plan, little man.”

I guess he learned something from that exchange.

And me? I learned to just take a change of shoes and let logic prevail.


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A brave face

In lss than two days, our 7-year-old son will have surgery.

It’s a routine procedure — tonsils, adenoids, and a look at whether nodes have formed on his vocal cords.

We’ve told him there’s nothing to it. PIece of cake. Thousands of kids do it every year. I had it done myself, when I was about his age. Nothing to worry about. Throat will be sore for a few days, then you’re in the clear. Plus, you’ll get tons of ice cream, popsicles and Game Boy for the next few days. A kid’s dream.

So why can’t I stop worrying about it myself?

The logical part of me agrees with my verbal self. But there’s still that niggling, burr-under-the-saddle kind of worry that just won’t completely go away.

He’ll be fine. Of course he will. Better than ever, even. He’ll sleep better, he won’t get sick as often, he’ll breathe easier through the day, he’ll be more comfortable. All good. And he has a great ear, nose and throat surgeon doing the procedure.

No sweat.

Unfortunately, come Thursday morning, I bet I’ll be sweating, just a little.

But I’ll have to do it on the inside. Can’t let ’em SEE you sweat.

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For three days last weekend, we shared our lives with a virtual menagerie of winged and legged insects of all stripes.

We struggled to keep smoky fires burning with green, sap-drenched logs that hadn’t yet been properly seasoned.

We showered in buildings shared with dozens of strangers, using fixtures that were designed to turn themselves off every minute or so and stepping gingerly on mud-streaked floors.

We even negotiated some knee-deep puddles around our vacation spot of choice, brought on by — imagine our luck — heavy rains that had struck just before we arrived, rendering portions of the facility unuseable.

Oh, and one more thing. We had a great time.

On our way to Camp Jellystone in Bagley, Wis., we wheeled my dad’s pickup onto the historic Cassville-Millville ferry for a fantastic (and trip-shortening) ride across the Mississippi River. (I hadn’t realized it when we rode, but our trip, on July 4, was apparently the ferry’s first day of operation since mid-June due to Mississippi River flooding. Our lucky day.)

Yes, packing for a camping trip is time-consuming and slightly stressful, and the aforementioned soggy condition of a portion of the campground brought us a bit too close to conditions back home. But thanks to our accommodations (a very nice on-site cabin, which we’ve rented now for three consecutive years) and the pleasure of spending time with another family with which we’re pretty close, it became abundantly clear:

For three days over the holiday weekend, there was nowhere I’d rather have been.

Thanks, Camp Jellystone.

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It’s hard to say that our flooded communities have gained in any way from recent events, but if nothing else, I think it’s taught many of us the valuable lesson of perspective.

For our part, we’ve made some donations, and plan to make more in the near future. The kids gathered some toys to donate to the family of a co-worker who’s lost everything, and they were very much appreciated. We’ve gained something from that, I think — a sense of compassion, of knowing that our concerns pale when we see the troubles of so many around us.

I’m still hoping we haven’t lost as much as initially feared, but in some ways it’s too early to say. But will I be able to take the kids to the old A&W on Ellis Boulevard that I visited so often as a kid? Will our downtown institutions return to their former glory, so we can see great shows at the Paramount and Theatre Cedar Rapids? Status undetermined. I’ll keep hoping for the best.

This is my town, Cedar Rapids. I have so many memories of being raised here. And one of a parent’s great joys is to be able to share experiences from their own childhood. I’m still looking forward to having that opportunity.

But enough of that for now. I’ll be checking out for a few days after today, for our annual trip to Yogi Bear’s Camp Jellystone with family friends. It’ll be a great escape from what’s been our reality for the last few weeks. I’ll have an update when we return.

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