Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Für Diane

Many happy returns on this, the occasion of your 42nd birthday! May you have all that Life, the Universe, and Everything has to offer on this auspiciously-numbered birthday.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Is Heaven Near?

[Isabel] has been my constant companion this past week, and just like her sister, this one also initiates heavenly conversations while I drive.

Mama, is heaven near?

(Shouting above the din of the noise) Here?! Is heaven here? No. Yes. Maybe. What are you thinking about?



And God.

Ahh... That's good. (shutting off the noisy A/C to hear her better)

I am good.


And you are good.


And Ate and Papa are good.


Because God is good. And He made us!

Posted By Diane to [...] at 7/09/2007 01:16:00 AM

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mr. Bun and Até

Elena Marie is the Até (first daughter), and she plays her role well: she looks after her own (ditsé would use the term hen-pecks for some of the over-protective/demanding/lording behavior). Well, it's come into her head that I need a travel companion and protector from time to time. Once, she gave me a tree frog doll to protect me from impending comet debris:

But for the last two week, I have been the caretaker of a little white bunny, I'm not sure of the name, so I'm borrowing the name Susie Dirken gave hers: "Mr. Bun" (yes, that Susie from Calvin and Hobbes).

So, Mr. Bun is sitting right next to my computer on my desk, and whenever I'm having a tough time of it (which is several times a day), I grab him for a prolonged squeeze hug. When I told Elena Marie this story, she thought about it for a second and then vehemently exclaimed: "You are going to keep the bunny forever and ever!"

So, when I went of to work Sunday night, Elena Marie checked to make sure I had the bunny packed, and when she found out I didn't she rushed off to retrieve it for me.

"Let me tell you something you don't know"

Diane, Isabel and I were lounging about on the big bed and the subject turned to the crazy things I do, like taking the extreme commute to New Jersey every week.

Me, to Diane: "Well, because, of course, I love you."
Diane: "?"
Me: "Do you know that I love you?"
Diane: "?"
Me, to Isabel: "Do you know that Papa loves Mama?"
Isabel: "?"
Me: "Isabel, I have a secret for you to give Mama."

Isabel loves secrets, so she leaned over.

Me, whispering (loudly): "Tell Mama that Papa loves her."
Isabel delivered the secret, and then there was the bonus, Mama had a secret for her to tell me. After receiving that secret, she sauntered over to me.

Isabel, whispering (loudly): "Mama said, 'Papa loves Mama'"

Diane, hearing this, burst out laughing, because, of course, she told Isabel the contrapositive, but it was all good.

Every laugh-out-loud moment in the family is a good moment.

My Blog Rating and a "Flock" of Crows

Online Dating

The one problem the rating system noted was that I used the word "Murder" (oops! I used it, again!). So much for context-sensitivity: a murder of crows has everything to do with more than one crow and nothing to do with premeditation for felonies, but I'm glad my blog is inoffensive ... but should I be glad?

"Dear, if I die tomorrow ..." and sleep

Bill Cosby, in his prime, did a stand-up show called Revenge, and one of the stories he told was that, one morning, at 3 am, his wife woke him up and asked the fateful question:

"Dear, if I die tomorrow, would you get married again?"

and, like any intelligent man roused from a deep sleep, he gave the best reply he could: "Auwsta-wadah-fooompf?"

"Now, I told you that story to tell you this one:"

Diane was invited to an outing with her high-school classmates who "live in the area" (well, within 100 miles or so), Elena Marie, inseparable from her mother, would go, of course, but little Isabel was still (is still) in the clutches of a summer cold was to be my charge. Fortunately, the little one fell asleep after a busy day on the town, so off mother and daughter went. Soon after they left, as I was finishing up cooking supper, Isabel woke up from her slumber: "Papa, where's Mama? I want Mama!" Hmm, well, a taste-test for done'ness' of the bowtie pasta distracted her for a bit, but then during the supper proper (and it was proper: freshly cooked jumbo shrimps in a garlic-butter sauce -- snaps to Diane for that!), the same loss and tears reemerged.

Me: "I know you miss Mama; what can I do to help you be happy again? Will ice cream help?"
Isabel: "Hm?"

I used to think that the instant transformation from despondent to delirious only happened in the movies; that is, until I saw it happen right in front of me.

After the ice cream (Isabel made me coffee using the Keurig coffee maker ("So easy, a 3-year-old could make coffee with it" should be their tagline)), devoured mercilessly (I pity the chips in that mint), she returned to her sadness.

Note to wife: Dear, if you haven't got it yet, your kids really love you!

So, after brushing her teeth, I put in her favorite movie of all time: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (as an aside, Donnie Osmond, yes, Donnie Osmond, delivered an outstanding performance as Joseph), in the master bedroom and as she watched, I promptly fell asleep (it being past 10:30 pm and me having come from the three-hour commute and a sleepless night).

Meanwhile, back at the party, one of Diane's friends made a late arrival at 10 pm, and Diane was going to leave early, for she told her friends: "I'm afraid my husband will fall asleep." Her friends coerced her to stay (peer-pressure, it doesn't stop after high school, so be careful out there, y'all!) reassuring her that her husband would never abandon a three-year-old to Morpheus ... so, when she returned home and saw from the front window Isabel sobbing in the living room, she fully expected to see me there consoling her. So, she had two surprises: one you know (me, unconscious, in the bedroom), the other was a full-on charge by Isabel followed by a tight-tight squeeze hug.

"Now, I told you that story to tell you this one:"

The next night, Diane, Isabel and I were lounging on the big bed. Diane recounted the events of the previous night, also adding that Isabel told her mother that she didn't brush her teeth or eat supper. My, oh, my! Then, Elena Marie called out for help brushing teeth, so I answered: "Alright, Elena Marie, your mother's coming to help you." (One of the privileges of Pater Familias: delegation).

Diane, shocked: "What! What happens if I die? You'll have to brush their teeth, you know."

Well, if Diane dies, there're be many more concerns I'll have than just ensuring the kids' teeth are brushed, but before I could voice this thought, Isabel countered:

"No he wouldn't! He'd fall asleep!"

... and the belly laughing didn't stop until a long time after that!

My Weekly Homecoming

I can boast of having one of the best coming-home-from-work experiences possible: after my three hour commute, sometimes through heavy traffic caused by not-so-sporadic roadwork, I open the door, late at night, to have my two little girls blitz from their bed room for a full-on tackle --

"It's Papa! It's Papa!" they chant as the hop up-and-down and up-and-down, much as popcorn would if it was a 5- and 3-year-old girl.

Recently, my dear wife has gotten a piece of this action. After watching 30 seconds of unending exuberance, she started jumping up-and-down and squawking a pitch-perfect imitation: "It's Papa! It's Papa!"

This display, of course, elicited peals of laughter from the girls, but, did it slow them down? Heavens, no! More bouncing and squawking ensued and they rang around the rosie Papa.

Now, if I can convert these weekly esctasies into daily ones, then I would have the best possible homecoming experience ...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Playing Dr. for real

Little Isabel came up to me Saturday morning: "My hand hurts, Papa, you be the Doctor." A common enough request from our children, as they get into enough scrapes with our fast-and-furious play that my doctoring ("pretend!" as Elena Marie often insists) gets them from pouting to playing in no time.

When I did see that her (right) hand had actually swollen to be about 50% larger than the other, it was time to call in the big guns:

"Go show your mother your hand."

One phone call later, we, Isabel and I, rushed off to the pediatricians' -- Dr. Thiede (not Dr. Lam, as she has now been married two years, people, get with the program!) diagnosed a mild infection, proscribed the usual (hand held above the heart), but changed her mind and sent us on our way to the hospital for X-rays when I recounted a incident a few days prior involving a slammed door and her hand.

The receptionist, like Dr. Thiede, was all kindness: how do these health-care professionals so joyfully sacrifice their lives? And, Isabel, being prepped by moiself (that is French) about having pictures taken of her hand, was completely accomodating. I reviewed the X-rays and observed no fractures (yes, one of my many talents is the ability to read X-ray charts to the utter amazement of the techs), but the tech had the radiologist confirm this. Confirmed.

So, off we skipped to the van via the "secret path" (a flower garden encircling the hospital's sidewalk entrance) but we expedited our skipping with the bees became a little too curious (maybe Isabel looks like a honey pot to the bees? that's the way she looks to me, too ...).

So as per the original diagnosis, a couple of days of rest with an elevated hand produced two effects: reduced swelling and special Papa time.

It's a Girl!

Great news! My friend Mike phoned me yesterday to let me know he and Malou are expecting a little girl in late November. This news is particularly sweet, as they have been trying for 10 years now to conceive. Now with God's blessing, their hopes are coming to fruition.