Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Learning to Talk

Liam turned two earlier this month. He's officially a late talker, I guess. At his 2-year well child visit he was pronounced healthy in every way and we were told to encourage his talking. So, we've been trying. He understands everything, it seems like, and can follow pretty complicated instructions (e.g., go get your shoes in the kitchen and bring them to Daddy), but he uses only about 15 words and maybe 6-8 signs.

He uses his version of what animals say for both the noise an animal makes and the name of the animal. So, a dog says uh-uh and a dog is uh-uh. Except for my parents' SWD, he learned her name (Emma) and says it all the time. He won't say Mollie's name to save a life even though he can say both "mama" and "ollie" so he ought to be able to manage it. Similarly airplanes, airports, and the noise airplanes make are all the same sound "brrrrfpt." Some of it is, I think, just being stubborn. He says "gogo" for Grandpa, but won't use a word beyond "eh" for Grandma or GG (what we call Will's mother).

Lately the big thing has been learning his colors. He can say yellow, blue and (sort of) red and green; and he recognizes all those four colors and will pick them out and say his words for them if you ask. He also knows black, sort of. We're also working on recognizing and naming feelings, with an emphasis on happy (he'll say "happy, happy" but I'm not sure he's connected it to the feeling yet exactly) and sad. He is fascinated with pictures of people crying in books (e.g., the boy in this delightful book who cries because his pet kitten is hungry but won't eat the piece of birthday cake he is trying to feed it).

One really nice thing about this learning to talk is that now we can talk about what happens in the stories. This is neat. If you ask Liam what happens in the kitten/birthday cake story, he can pretty much tell you with his funny combination of words, sounds, signs and gestures.

One of the strangest things about raising a child is the realization that you really do have to teach them all this stuff: colors, feelings, names of stuff, numbers, letters, and those are just the easy lessons to contemplate. It's something.

Will is doing okay. The testosterone shots aren't making as huge a difference as we had hoped, but they are helping. He's starting to feel a little congested, so that's a worry, as always. The patio is done except for cutting the half blocks for the edge and putting in the edging. We'll get to that whenever, I guess. Similarly, the kitchen is basically done except for painting (who knows when that will happen) and patching the floor (also not likely to be a near term priority). So, we're enjoying our new spaces and all the sunshine we've had here lately. I'm off to Hanford at 0-dark 30 tomorrow, so Liam is at my parents' for the night. Sure is quiet without him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sooner or later it will be done

Work continues on the back patio and the kitchen. It is at that very dangerous about 80% complete stage. This is the stage in any project where it is really easy to say: well, if this is good, think how much better it will be if we only added this, that and some other stuff. And before you know it your house is all torn apart again and your budget is shot. I'm trying to resist.

In the kitchen, what remains is: set the rest of the cabinets (this is mostly two small fill in base cabinets I got to, well, fill in after all the cabinets we already had were moved around); put the counter top on the rearranged cabinet areas, we're going to reuse the counter top we tore off a part of the "old" kitchen; put up shelves for mixing bowls, etc.; re-hang the pot rack; paint; figure out a way to match the tile or do something on the small new area of floor where the back stairs used to be. That's it, I think. I hope. Outside, it is mostly sweeping sand into the cracks between the new pavers and finishing the edges of the patio which will involve renting a special saw, I guess. Liam loves the patio. Previous to this he wasn't allowed in the back yard really at all because it was dangerous, filled with junk and I didn't like to go there. Now he can't get enough of it! We owe great thanks to grandpa DM, grandpa DH and the amazing Auntie Chris who worked and worked to make this a reality for us. Thank you! I'll post project pictures soon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

It's hard to believe that it has already been 2 years since you arrived on scene. You're so big now, and so able to do things on your own (run, jump, eat cupcakes); it's not like when you were tiny and just slept in our arms. We love your funny sense of humor and your interest in all things musical, and that you eat peas straight from the garden, and how you're busily imitating Auntie Chris by measuring and drilling and helping to put the kitchen back together. Most of all, we just love you. We love you more each day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Zoo update

It is reported that Liam had a good day at the zoo with Grandpa DH and Will, although some of the animals were on strike and couldn't be seen. Particularly owls and polar bears. Luckily Liam already knows all about polar bears as documented here and here.

This is the photo in which Liam looks like his daddy:

This is the photo in which Liam looks like his mama (who also can get pretty excited at the prospect of ice cream):

I will spare you a photo of my new crappy hotel room. One airplane ride and 300 miles of driving and. . .what appear to be exactly the same atrocious drapes as the last place. Oh well, at least Wenatchee offers the prospect of bringing home crates of fresh cherries and apricots and who knows what else on Friday evening.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's working! And, I'm working.

Will reports that he feels "significantly" better. Will is the understated type, especially when it comes to good news, so this equates roughly to shouting from the rooftops, I think. He was up before 8AM this morning and done with his breathing treatments and out working on the patio by 10:00. Tomorrow he and his father will take Liam to the zoo. (I hope they take pictures, and if they do I will post some.) This is wonderful and we hope very much that it lasts, well, forever.

My work travel is what it is. Today Hanford, tomorrow Hanford then Wenatchee, Thursday and Friday Wenatchee, and then Friday night home. Many miles to smallish towns in not so many days: it's what I imagine working in sales is like, or something. I am tired tonight and unhappy because we lost an important bid today, and even thought we lost it (I think) based in part on the competition having recently hired a former political appointee and all that blah, blah, there are always excuses, still, damn, I need to win these things.

I leave you with a photo of my crappy hotel room. I think this is exactly the same crappy hotel room I had when I was here 2 weeks or so ago. Same desk light that doesn't work and same phone message light that is broken (flicker, flicker, but no message). While I'm sure it's has some nice features, and the work has merit, on balance, I really don't like Richland; it's the city my father died in and I hate coming here. Tomorrow -- on to Wenatchee with no more whining, I promise.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Kitchen remodel (which is really more a rearranging of, well, everything in the kitchen, more than a replacement project) and back patio work continues. I can see now that I will really love it, most especially when it's done. My wonderful sister is here on her 2 weeks leave between postings (she's a pilot for the navy but is going to post-graduate school for her next thing. . .yay!) and she kicks butt on all things project related, so, I know the end is in sight. I unfortunately have to leave for 4 days of work-related travel tomorrow (curses!) and feel, well, tired and not prepared at home or at work and most of all just not wanting to go. And Liam's birthday this weekend to finish preparing for; and Father's day. You know how it goes. This weekend/early next week Liam turns 2 and this space turns 1.

Will had a somewhat productive doctor appointment today. The endocrinology doctors have decided to treat for primary hypogonadism, basically, low testosterone. This is most likely brought about as a complication from chemotherapy and/or just as a result of all the health challenges Will has had over the past years. So Will will take replacement testosterone shots once a week for a while and see if it makes him feel better. He's hopeful this will address a lot of the fatigue and mood problems. Let's hope.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Belated Health Update

Will's clinic appointment went okay on Monday. His lung function tests are a little bit up. They show his lung function to be about 48% of what is normally predicted for someone of his age and height. Not yet back to his baseline of 55% or thereabouts. Will's pulmonary doctor says that we won't know if this 48% is the new baseline for at least 6 months or so. He doesn't have any reason to suspect that this is a slow-speed-rejection-related "step off," but of course he can't rule it out and that is what it will be called if Will's lung functions don't recover. He advised increased activity and better nutrition, mainly. Also trying to get the depression/mood addressed better (maybe with a second opinion since it doesn't seem like the current approaches have been working) because this should help with activity. He said there's reason to hope that Will's lung functions will recover in time.

Will goes back to endocrinology on Monday to see if his para-thyroid and related levels have stabilized and to get some more testing to see if there's anything going on there contributing. Hopefully they'll see something fixable. It has been a pretty tough couple of months, and Will certainly feels crummy. He has been reading Denis Johnson again and told me the other day about a story about a double amputee who was in a nursing home but not because of the amputation, "he was there because of extreme sadness." I think Will can relate. (I think the Denis Johnson stories are amazing, but mostly unrelentingly sad. Also, I was really surprised not to find anything more interesting written about him to link to; you'd think there would have been lots of stuff from when he won the National Book Award, but. . .not.)

Today, though, was a pretty okay day for Will, I think. Did some things around the house with all the house projects. Went out to dinner with Liam and me and then to the park and for ice cream and running around after. So, we'll take that and call it good.

How to be the kitty and have a fit if you're (almost) 2 years old

First pretend to be the kitty. Crawl on your hands and knees and make a pretty awful cat meowing noise (so that the neighbors say: are you okay over there?). Come to mommy and have your ears scratched and patted.

Then, decide to be Liam again and ask to go see the real kitty. This is a lovely cat named (confusingly) Bunny who lives around the corner but sometimes comes to visit at our house and always rushes out to be patted by Liam whenever we walk by, which is about 4-5 evenings a week. But not tonight, because it was already 7:15 and we had played (a lot) at the park after dinner and it was almost time for bed, not time for a walk.

Explain to Mommy that it is really, really important to go see the kitty right now. Say please (a lot). [Liam makes the “please” sign by patting his hand on his chest. You can see the actual ASL please sign here, which is also the place I go to learn new signs for Liam.]

Have a fit when Mommy says: honey, we’ll go see the kitty tomorrow; now is time to either play in the yard or go inside for bath. Make it a really big fit, befitting deep disappointment at 7:15 PM.

Ask one more time to go see the kitty. Omit the please.

Calm down when Mommy suggests that instead we go into the garden and eat pea pods. Eat a lot of pea pods and all the strawberries. That’s it!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thanks Uncle K

Liam's Uncle K sometimes does tee-shirt design and silk screening. For Christmas he sent Liam this great octopus shirt. It has become one of Liam's favorites in our summer-like weather. I try to give him two tee-shirts to choose from every morning, the idea being the more decisions he gets to make himself the less frustrated he will be at all the decisions that he doesn't get to make yet. If this shirt is in the mix it is always the one picked. Happy Birthday Uncle K -- how cool to be so cool at 50? We love you.

PS -- photo is from a week ago; pre the kitchen rearranging project that has taken over the house.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Where to start. . .

We have a lot of house stuff going on suddenly. It shifted from talking about rearranging the kitchen and putting in a back porch and patio into. . .barely organized chaos. Not sure this was the best thing to take on right now with Will still feeling very bad (in his spirits, certainly, probably the worst I've seen so far, if not in his lungs exactly), and my work being busy, and Liam being just almost 2 and in to everything. But, it was one of those things where I just kept talking about it and before I knew it I was doing things about it, and then Ricardo showed up to move the basement door so we could move the refrigerator, and away we go. And we've had so much help. The photos are grandpa DM and grandpa DH doing the siting to figure out how to level the back yard and how much dirt the workers will have to move when they get here tomorrow (lots!). It was like what I imagine the Lewis and Clark expedition to be except fewer horses (none) and better food (we ate hamburgers, this lovely noodle salad, and the first green salad from the garden). The grandpas also moved our refrigerator today and moved and rehung the (very heavy!) cupboard that goes above the refrigerator. Thank you!

Off to the docs with Will tomorrow to see what's what and what they think and if they can help him feel any better.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tree Climbing

We are lucky to have a 100 year old rhododendron to match the 100 year old house. It was desperately overgrown when we bought the place and all piled on the corner of the house and porch. Will spent hours and hours thinning it and pruning it and helping find its shape, and it has turned into really one of the best features of our old house. It also is the perfect climbing "tree" for the small set (and the very lightweight tall set, I suppose, Will still gets up into it sometimes). Liam has always loved the tree but has only recently (after seeing Will do it) decided to try climbing it.

We will spot him, but we don't help him up; I figure tree climbing is one of those things that you should do only however much of you're really able to do on your own. I remember my olden' days of climbing and hiking and scrambling (although they get dimmer all the time), so I'll occasionally try to give him ideas along the lines of "what if you put your knee here?" but that's about it. So far he can get one knee and one foot up on a branch that is about chest high on him, but he hasn't figured out how shift his hand to a higher branch so he can steady himself to stand up. He'll get there. I'm sure by next year we'll have him up in the top of the tree with the pruning shears. Photos are from last weekend.

In other news, great progress was made on the back patio today thanks to Grandpa DM and the workers, Travis and Allen. All old concrete is gone. All the sod (about 350 sq feet of it) is gone and the whole place is ready for the water pipes to go in and then the planting beds and then the pavers. I think it could be done pretty quick after all. Thanks Grandpa DM, we can't wait to sit out there with you in the evening and drink a glass of wine while we watch Liam run around! Thanks also to Grandma KM who kept Liam all day and then fed us all a great dinner this evening.