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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ellie, while holding out one of her dollies: You can have a baby, if you want, Mom.

Linda, emphatically: Noooo, thank you.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Day at the pool

Circumstances guided us to the wading pool at Brashear park today. It didn't start that way. Ellie announced this morning, I want to go to somebody's house today. That's three-year-old speak for My parents are boring, and I want to go somewhere with kids who'll entertain me.

So we went over to Jen's. She was working this morning on some medical editing project, so I brought over a collection of signal analysis books (my summer project is to write speech therapy software). Ellie played with the kids and I learned about windowing functions. I discovered that whoever ordered all of the signal processing books for Truman made good selections, because those books are generally superior to the books I have obtained via interlibrary loan.

We decided to pick up some lunch and eat it at Brashear park. I went home and dragged Linda along, and we stopped for drive-through on the way to the park. Ellie was desperate to swim, which I should have anticipated, so Jen took her clothes off down to her pull-up and Ellie waded in. The KTVO-TV3 people were filming, so there might be footage of my mostly-naked kid on the news tonight.

We played for many hours. Ellie was so cold she couldn't stop shaking. I still had to literally pick her up and haul her away when it was time to leave. I thought for certain that she would fall asleep as soon as she got warm, but she's still going strong.

I, on the other hand, am beat.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Morning practice

Linda and I went to Violette today to practice. She wanted to do the stairs particularly. Since we don't have any steps in the house, she has noticed her skill on the stairs has degraded.

She did something new. Once she was past the floor mats near the doors, she gave me her canes and walked toward the stairs on her own; very slowly. She made it about 2/3 of the way to wooden benches before she decided that she was tired and needed her canes back. I don't know how far that is, maybe 30 feet. She lost her balance twice, just slightly, and I helped her get it back.

She didn't think it went very well, but sometimes I don't know by what ruler she measures things. I thought it was good.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why, Dad, why?

She's three. Need I say more?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Over the rainbow

On Sunday, we traveled to visit Linda's parents. We were there to collect Ellie, who had been visiting for the week while I read portfolios. That was very, very helpful, since I was still grading my own work in the evenings.

Ellie was very happy to see us. She was out in the garden when car drove in. I saw her look up and realize who we were. I had no idea she could run that fast. It's a good thing she didn't hit anything, I'd have probably had to take her to the emergency room. She came booking in like a little blond-haired bullet.

For the record, Ellie missed both her daddy and her mommy on this trip. She missed her daddy more, but that's just the way of things. She was very good for her grandparents, but way too hyped up to be good when we arrived.

Part of the point of going all the way out to Illinois (instead of meeting her parents somewhere along the way) was to see the new house of an old friend. She was busy on Sunday, so we stayed over to Monday. In the morning, I took Ellie shopping so Linda would be able to save her energy up for visiting. I needed some new tennis shoes anyway, and I had promised to buy Ellie a rubber snake.

Ellie and I started with the snake, but the only snakes at the toy store were really big an not very squeezy. When we got to the checkout, Ellie noticed a bag of very squeezy rubber tarantulas in bright neon colors. She decided she wanted that instead, and they were cheaper, so we took the snake back to its bin and grabbed the spiders instead.

I got my shoes, and we walked around the mall for a couple of hours. Ellie wanted to look at everything breakable, but I managed to get her out without having to buy anything but lunch and bubble gum.

In the evening we went to visit our friend. There were stairs into and out of the house, but we took our time and did ok. It was nice to visit. The property was large. Much of it is wooded, and there are trails. Obviously we didn't try them, although once upon a time I'm sure we would have. Ellie played with their daughter, who is a bit younger than she is. We ended the night eating BLT pizza at one of their favorite places.

It was early Tuesday when we came home. Linda had afternoon therapy to go to, her first in 5 weeks. Luckily her PT was sick, because after all the time in the car that would have been too taxing. We dropped Ellie off at the day-care on the way and went straight to therapy. Her OT and speech went pretty well. I read a book and generally tried not to get in the way. I don't know exactly why it is so important to Linda that I come; I just come.

No place like home

After therapy, we finally arrived at home. Linda was relieved. Things are so much easier at home. At home there are no throw rugs to trip on--the flimsy woven rugs people use in their kitchens are the worst. At home there are grab bars exactly where she needs them. The shampoo doesn't magically disappear from the bath tub and end up 5 feet away by the sink. There's room to maneuver a walker.

Of course, at home, you can still never find the remote control.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Allergy update

I know a few of you have been following my effort to remove fragrances since I found out that I'm allergic to our old shampoo. I commented a few days ago that I found to fragrance-free shaving creams at the store.

As I said, I bought the kind made by Gillette, and I couldn't resist trying it the next day. I expected it to smell slightly chemical without masking fragrance. It didn't. It had a pleasant smell, something I couldn't quite identify. It smelled fruity. That made me frown. When I read the back of the can, I discovered that it contained orange oil, lemon peel oil, and lime oil. That seems a pretty cheap way to proclaim fragrance-freeness. Luckily, they don't seem to bother me or I would be even more put out.

I didn't think it would come in, but Maxine's was able to get me a fragrance-free bottle of Kiss My Face brand shaving moisturizer. I tried it right away. You can imagine that I was really looking for smells after the Gillette experience. For just a moment, I thought there was a hint of cocoa butter, reminiscent of sun tan lotion. Then it was gone; it really did seem pretty much devoid of smell.

Since I don't seem to be allergic to any of them, I'll continue to use them up. It will be some time before I run out, but I promise to try the Aveeno brand next when I do.

So far this season, I've had pretty moderate allergies. When birch and maple were pollenating, I didn't want to stay outside overly long. Right now the big pollinators are supposed to be mulberry, grass, and oak. That seems to be a bit better for me.


We took ourselves to the Star Wars movie tonight. It's always a bit tricky going to the movies with Linda. We stood in line for a bit, but when they started letting people in we cut straight for the front of line. Ultimately, we were so slow that the people who had been with us in line still caught up and passed us before we got to the theater.

It's almost not worth trying to go to a movie until it has shown so long that no one cares. Linda still said she enjoyed it.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Movie recommendation

If you have not seen it, I recommend Don Juan DeMarco. We watched it tonight.

There is magic in believing your world is perfect.


I know everyone (non-academic) thinks I've been free for some time, since graduation was last weekend. Let me inform you that I've been working full days all week. I turned my grades in just yesterday, and I finished reading senior portfolios this afternoon.

It doesn't feel real yet that I have a bit of freedom. That isn't going to stop me from taking Linda out for dinner.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

50 first dates

Linda and I watched 50 First Dates tonight. we've talked about it for some time, but hadn't gotten out to rent it. The movie was very intriguing because it is about a woman (Lucy) without the ability to record short-term memories. We knew a really nice girl with the same problem when we were at Rusk.

I'm glad I didn't take Linda to see it in the theater. Every time Lucy's character had the disappointment of learning about her brain injury Linda would start weeping and I had to pause the DVD. Since Lucy doesn't remember from day to day, that scene played out numerous times in the movie.

Other than that, the movie was pretty sweet. It would normally be a favorite, I think. But I doubt Linda can watch it without crying, so we probably won't rent it again, at least not for quite a while.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I found it

Ellie is staying with her grandparents this week. That means that I could take my time when I went to the store this evening. You've probably not seen me on a shopping mission, but I generally like to shop. So I'm slow. I scanned through the shaving isle tonight, carefully. I turned the cans and read the ingredients. And then I found it. Fragrance-free shaving gel. And not just one kind, but two. Gillette makes it and so does Aveeno.

I couldn't find fragrance-free hair gel, but I did what I could there. I smelled the likeliest candidates, and the one that didn't make my nose wrinkle after a few minutes is the one I got for Linda. We'll see (I think I'll like not having her hair wrinkle up my nose).

I already nailed the hand lotion earlier in the week. Curel makes some without fragrance. I think I'll look at hand soaps next. I know already that the vanilla from Bath & Body Works is to be avoided, but I've noticed some others seem OK.

Linda is enjoying her last week of freedom before she goes back to therapy next week. She's making the most of it. She cooked meatloaf and cornbread muffins for supper tonight. She looked absolutely pooped when I got home, and I have some cleaning to do in the kitchen, but it went pretty well. She mentioned that the oven is hard to negotiate from the wheelchair.

Linda has been frustrated with her walking. The tone in her right foot keeps turning the heel out, particularly with her 4-point cane. It was something that started during a PT session when she was working on ankle strength, but it hasn't gone away. It is generally only very bad with her 4-point cane, so she has started taking out her 2 single-point canes to go out again.

We saw Fred on Friday, and he said that's sometimes how tone will be and admitted that it is frustrating. We had gone to Columbia to see Lyndsay's new baby and we had a very nice visit with them. Naturally we stopped at Rusk to visit. Linda's ankle was trouble, so she just sat in the lobby, but her old therapists found a few minutes to run down and visit with her.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

It must run in the family

It must, because by daughter is a superhero.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Royal day

I wore a tiara to work today. It's one of those things you might do if you had a 3-year-old. Two of my students noticed. One of them stopped me on the sidewalk to ask about it. He was a foreign student, so he really didn't have the words for the encounter. He just said, You have some kind of stuff in your hair.

I smiled and said, Thanks.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Here's an article to ponder. I'll go on the record and say that my limited experience indicates that some of the critics cited in the article are full of crap. Only I don't think I'm saying that strongly enough.

New York Times

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I made it rain

Yes, I did it. You may thank me. I noticed that the new trees we've put in this spring were looking haggard. They needed a drink. I had checked the weather forecast and the National Weather Service assured me that we weren't going to get any substantial water for a while.

So Ellie and I went out with the hose and the bucket, and we watered every new tree in the yard. Two buckets of water per tree, and three for the couple of trees that looked like they could really use it. It was inevitable after that that it would rain. In fact, the first drops came 15 minutes after we went inside.

I don't mind, even if it turned out somewhat redundant. It was a good activity to do with Ellie since it effectively involved running all over the yard. Running is about her favorite activity. We did stop from time to time to pretend that the propane tank was a horse and to scale the climing rope on her swingset. Linda sat on the porch reading a book and enjoying the weather.

And I'm glad for the rain. It'll be good for the yard (especially the new grass out back), and it means I don't have to feel guilty about not mowing the grass this afternoon.

Things that really suck

Speaking of activities outside, we've been going out some in the evening to play with the swingset. I try to get Ellie to play on her own some, so I can sit and rock and talk to Linda. The whole playing with Ellie thing was so much Linda's thing. They used to go to the park a lot. Not any more I guess.

We were sitting and rocking the other day, Ellie was begging for attention, and Linda just said, This really sucks.

Every day doesn't suck, but there are moments that do. There were moments that did before of course, so nothing is that different I suppose.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

What would you do

What would you do if you woke up this morning, second to last day of class and a week before final exams, to find your computer spewing error messages and the hard drive making a rhythmic kind of click-click-click-click-click pause click-click-...?

Would you feel worse if you kept all of your grades electronically and they were stored on that hard drive?

Don't panic. You prepared for this. You did prepare for this didn't you?

It wasn't too serious. My primary hard drive failed overnight. It wasn't too serious because I back up my files every morning about 3am, and I back up my gradebook to another computer every 15 minutes (the last backup occurred at about midnight when the grader was entering the final homework of the semester).

Still, it took about 3 hours to copy my data back and bring my computer back up. That included walking myself over to ITS to physically get a new drive since everyone was in a meeting over there.

Just yesterday I told one of my classes, I don't actually know how most of you are doing. I just record it in my gradebook and see how the numbers come out in the end. If I were a paranoid person, I might think someone tried to take advantage of my by-the-numbers nature.

You never know how a backup regimen will play out until you need it. I feel pretty invincible right now.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Do you enjoy being scared?

Then read on.

A few mornings ago, when Linda and I were still in bed, Linda told me very seriously, I'm very dizzy, and nauseous. The sensation only lasted maybe about 15 seconds. It was right after she had turned over quickly. It happened a second time within 10 minutes exactly the same way, and ended just as quickly again.

There were no other symptoms, and don't think that we didn't go down the list. Her sensation was ok; she wasn't weak; no problem talking (other than her usual problems). Her eyes were the same as usual. Still it was so like the stroke as to be creapifying.

I asked the doc, and he didn't really know what to make of it. Get it checked if it happens again.

Strangely, Linda has felt better since it happened. She said she feels a bit lighter, as if she somehow worked through a kind of "block" that was holding her back. Or like she finally got enough sleep and isn't so tired. She said her mood is better too. She had been sad for a couple of weeks before, and it just evaporated. Whatever it was, it doesn't sound like nothing.

Linda described it as, Like irregular heartbeats for the brain.

What it was, I can't say, but I don't like weird stuff. It just makes me worry. And I was just getting really good at not worrying finally. Now I walk around again at work wondering if I'll come home to find her twitching on the floor.

I'm so morbid.