Friday, December 17, 2010

my little tyrant

The other night at bedtime:

"You want a song, Auden?"
"The Matt Song."
"The Matt Song?"
"How does that go?"
"You better sing it."
"I don't know the words."
"You better try."
"Can you help me?"
"Sing it for me."
"Matt, Matt, Matt!"
"Sing it, mom."
"I don't know the words."
"You better remember."
"Can you help me remember?"
"You better pretend to remember.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

slippers, felted

I've been knitting.

I learned earlier this year, and made the same first mistake that amateur knitters everywhere make: to knit a scarf as my first project!

The problem with scarves is that they are incredibly boring. Back and forth, back and forth... the satisfaction of finishing waaay off in the distance. I should have started with a potholder. So, even though it's a gorgeous cerulean blue and a mohair blend and a sweet and easy knit-one-purl-one-odd-stitch pattern, that scarf is on hold at the bottom of my knitting bag.

"My knitting bag" -- see? I'm already intermediate.

Instead of downsizing my ambitions, I picked up a booklet about felting a few months ago and wanted to try that, too. I started with a little card-carrying case (ask Jason, it's, uh... awesome), and then jumped in the deep end with a pattern for felted slippers. The inspiration was this pattern, which I saw over at Woodcraft, a great crafty blog. Slightly less knitting than a scarf!

Once I got about 40 rows in, though, I realized how big these suckers have to start out, and I got kind of daunted. I plugged along, though, with nightly updates to the rest of the family about how many rows I had left. I need cheerleaders, okay? Meanwhile Jason was unsure he wanted such a loaded gift, because OF COURSE I AM KNITTING THESE FOR YOU, YOU NEED SOME SLIPPERS. I'm like a Jewish mother that way.

So here they are, from start to finish...

I didn't alternate colors like the pattern suggests, so I just knit one long piece and picked up stitches on the side for the flap parts:
The most complicated part was following the directions to fold the slippers together. Doing it reminded me of a story we read in Geometry about a 4-dimensional house that folds in on itself (go read it, it's crazy!). Anyway, no tesseracts here, just a wonky hexagram:
Wood (at Woodcraft) warned me that they'd look like giant crazy shoes before the felting, and she was right. Actually, once I sewed them up, we decided they looked like medieval boot cozies:
She also said she felted hers in a front-loading machine, but when I did it, I found that they didn't shrink down enough. So I did another two cycles in a top-loader:
And look at that! I kind of freaked out when they didn't properly felt the first time, so I'm relieved they turned out. That was going to be a lot of time invested to just chuck 'em on the scrap heap.

There, that only took three months. Now, back to the scarf.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There's a potted plant in the front room of the house that is like a siren call to Isla. If she is left to her own devices, she will head straight for it (ignoring nana's attempts at a blockade), and stuff her face with dirt.

A couple of times I've caught her doing it, and she startles like she's got her hand in the cookie jar. But then she cracks up, because she is so obviously pleased with herself.

Oh, and: can you see the TEETH? My god, there are six of them coming in at once. It is no longer any wonder this child has not been sleeping for the past four months.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

deviant, part III

I promise, this is the last installment. The first two are here and here.

During the first couple of weeks after surgery, I carried handfuls of tissues with me everywhere, and held them constantly to my face, because my nose did not stop dripping. I taped them to my face at night so the snot wouldn't dry and form a crust on my upper lip. I'm not kidding.

I would blow and blow and blow and not reach the end of it. I could blow forcefully or softly, but it would just slowly drip drip drip.

Many weeks went by, many more neti pots of saline water were flushed through my noggin, many many impressive, formidable, enormous clot-like boogers were expelled, and still I could only breathe through the left nostril. It was kind of torturous, actually: to be so close to perfection, and yet so maddeningly short of the goal. It felt like when you suck on a mint, but forget to switch it to the other side of your mouth, so when you breathe in it's all cold on the one side and dark and loamy on the other. But, like, in your nose. Because, wow! Breathing through my nose! It was only 50%, but already I could tell I was going to like it. I just became a little neurotic in my fears that it was all I would get, and that the right nostril would be doomed to limp meekly forever behind it's more robust partner. Have I mentioned that I'm prone to exaggeration?

So, the other factor was that our fancy insurance, like Jason's position itself, had an expiration date. If I was going to do anything else, it had to be done quickly. This alone is what gave me the gumption to call the doctor back a second and third time and request more follow-ups. Because, you know, I'm a nice person and a nice patient and I don't want to be needy because that's not nice. (I guess I should have warned you that in addition to seeing inside my nose, you would also be seeing inside THE HEAD OF A CRAZY PERSON)

Back in I went, to say Great Job on Breaking My Nose! Can You Fix it Please? She offered to swab the inside of the right nostril with silver nitrate, essentially to burn back the tissue that was still blocking my airway. What do I know about silver nitrate? I just wanted to feel the cool breeze through that nostril, too. So I let her do it. She told me I may get a headache later, and that things would get worse before they got better. I should have known by this point how dramatically and diabolically this doctor underestimated the pain she causes.

Headache? It was like having a white-hot poker shoved into my face. For days. I didn't dare venture back into Percocet territory, so I game-faced it while seething and grimacing inside. It may have been worse than the first recovery. I don't know, it's too long ago at this point, and we forget pain so easily... but let me check: nope, not harder than birthing two babies. Okay, moving on.

On day four or five after the white-hot poker, I noticed a real humdinger of a scabrous booger way back in that right nostril. By this point, of course, I was no stranger to sticking petroleum-jelly covered q-tips halfway to my brain, so I went after it.

Friends, I wrenched that sucker clear, and angels shot out of my nose on cosmic mucous. The nostril was clear, and I could breathe.

A genuine and unedited grin of sheer foolish relief erupted on my face, and I'm just glad I was looking in the mirror at the time, because I SAW how ridiculously happy I was. I may have gone shouting through the house.

It took some more healing after that (and yet more amazing and substantial boogers), but I am now breathing through my nose like a normal person. Nevermind that I am also still swabbing that right nostril with a q-tip from time to time because no amount of blowing seems to get the junk past what I'm guessing is a little version of the Marianas Trench in there, carved out by silver nitrate. But hey! I am satisfied! I am now a nose breather! I'll take the quirks!

Now that you've been so patient and read all the blather, here are the photos.

Jason told me to spare you the graphic picture of my nose all packed and bloody and me looking like a ghost, so, you're welcome. Here are the before and after shots:

a side story: my pores! wow!

You can see it, right? How my nose points off to Lake Ontario in the first picture, and then more toward Superior in the second? Also notice how my right nostril (your left) is actually the bigger of the two. That rascal!

Friday, December 3, 2010

deviant, part II

If you think this story is unfolding at a glacial pace, I cannot tell you how long it is taking to write it. (The first part is here.) Without further ado:

The spring following my discovery that there could possibly be nose-breathing in my future, when Isla was barely six weeks old, I went to the ENT doc that my friend recommended. She peered up my nose with a little light and what looked like a tiny speculum, and, easy as you please, proclaimed that I had a deviated septum and overgrown turbinates. Would I like to schedule a septoplasty and turbinate reduction for next week?

Before I could even consider that I had something called turbinates inside my nose (I mean, my nose is big, but surely not big enough to support something that sounds like it could generate electrical power), I was in the scheduler's office going over the details of what to do before and after surgery, ie, don't eat, eat, don't blow, blow.

It was such a fast consultation and, well, such a whimsical decision to be operated upon, that I retained absolutely none of the finer points. They'll straighten the septum and then, um, something about turbines? And then I'll take some ibuprofen?

So of course I googled it when I got home, and foolishly followed a link to a youtube video of a similar surgery. It involved a hammer.

(Also, do not expect the internet to take you through recovery gently, either.)

I got nervous the night before surgery, and prayed that the doctor (and her hammer) would be deft and delicate and done quickly. And then, to be honest, I was actually kind of looking forward to being away from the children for a few hours.

The next morning, besides feeling completely out of place at the hospital -- look, these awful blue polyester slip-proof socks, on MY feet! -- and besides much checking of nurses to make sure I was the right patient getting the right surgery, and some bizarrely personal banter from the anesthesiologist, everything was unremarkable and then it was over. I awoke in a thick fog, feeling nauseous, trying to process the doctor's summary: surgery went fine, after-care instructions are mhrruupphh hlllggnnn urrrnngghhh. Blurrhghhhpphh. Mmmkay?

Then my gracious friend Anne brought me a smoothie and took me home.

Then there was THE PAIN.

Oh ho ho, the pain. And puking. And Jason calling the clinic at 9pm because should my wife be this sick? Still? And then Zofran to go with my Percocet. And frozen peas on my face. And changing of gauze masks, and trying not to sneeze, and breastfeeding a newborn while seriously compromised. For days. Until I figured out it was the Percocet making me so sick, and finally I could get by just on Tylenol. But I think the doctor seriously underestimated how much IT WOULD HURT.

I had to remove the packing myself, the day after the surgery, a event that made me feel like a grotesque clown, pulling out the handkerchiefs, you know? Because wow, that was a LOT of cotton up there.

After a week or so, I went back to the doctor for a follow-up visit. She used a little suction hose to remove the stalactites that had formed, and then deemed me fit and cured. By that time I had caught a whiff or two through my left nostril, but nothing through the right. She told me it was still healing, but it looked fine and should probably clear up.

It did not clear up.


One more installment, here.