Sunday, May 24, 2009

Scarlet Fever!

I kid you not -- Ben has scarlet fever. We found out a few days ago that one of his toddler friends (with whom he spent some quality time in the sandbox last Sunday) has it, so when Ben started breaking out in a rash yesterday, we knew what to look for on webmd.

And of course it would be Memorial Day weekend, so his pediatrician can't see him until Tuesday. I called her today and described everything, and she said that it did sound exactly like scarlet fever, but she couldn't diagnose and prescribe without seeing him. So she told us to take him to the ER. We did, and managed to spend more than three hours there altogether, but we walked away with a prescription for antibiotics. He should be good to go for daycare on Tuesday, and hopefully the various symptoms will abate over the next few days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Benny pics

Nothing to say here, except that I love these pictures! The first one is at a local playground, and the second one is at the Buffalo zoo.

Wisconsin legislation

I have strong Wisconsin ties -- my sister and I were born there, even though we spent much our childhood elsewhere, and she and her family, and my parents, are all living there again now. So I'm very excited about the news that the Wisconsin legislature passed a bill requiring private insurance to pay for hearing aids and cochlear implants for children. I first heard about this a few weeks ago on cicircle. More recently I've learned that a group of Deaf protesters are going to try to persuade Governor Doyle to veto the legislation, on the premise that CIs are dangerous, expensive, and a threat to their cultural identity. Jodi has the article on her blog, as well as a link you can follow to send a letter to Doyle asking him to sign the bill.

Now, some of my nearest and dearest have libertarian leanings, and they have serious misgivings about this kind of government interference with the free market. I don't. (To the contrary, I have misgivings about something as vital and fundamental as access to health care being at the mercy of the free market.) Anyway, I encourage you to check out Jodi's blog and contact Governor Doyle.

You might be wondering what's so dangerous about CIs. Nothing, really. Okay, it's a piece of electronic gadgetry implanted into your skull, so there are inevitable attendant risks. But those risks are on the whole very very small. However, shamefully inaccurate myths continue to circulate in the Deaf community -- for example that CIs cause brain cancer (they don't).

Are they expensive? You betcha. The total costs of getting Ben implanted (pre-operative evaluation and testing, the device, the surgery, the hospital stay, follow-up mapping and evaluation, etc.) exceed $100K. Almost all of which was paid for by our insurance (albeit reluctantly). How do I feel about that? A touch guilty -- I want to apologize to my fellow NYS employees for the (almost negligible) effect this has on their premiums -- a cost to the public which is more than offset, incidentally, by long term savings in special education.

Are they a threat to Deaf culture? Only in the sense that people who receive CIs are less likely to join it, and less likely to learn ASL. Ben is deaf, and always will be. He may well choose to identify as Deaf at some point in his life, and if so all power to him. But it will be his free choice, one of many options, rather than the only viable option because of a lack of other communication modalities. I'm excited that he's learning some ASL, and I hope this will continue for a variety of reasons. Also, I will certainly expect him to be respectful of the Deaf community, just I would expect him to be respectful (to a point) of any group, regardless of the things said by their more extreme members about our family and the choices we have made. (Pick your favorite major religion for a suitable application of this principle.)

Friday, May 15, 2009


I got tagged! In a nice way -- no paint balls or swine flu here. Leah tagged me to continue a blog-wide poll on the 5 Things I Love About Motherhood. (Click on Leah and then work your way backward through the chain.)
  1. Cuddling. Okay, so everyone says this, but it's pretty much a universal fave. Holding Ben as he starts to get sleepy before bedtime, planting little kisses on his head, putting my hand up to cradle his cheek as he drifts off.... You just can't go wrong with that. It's the best. Absolute best.
  2. Rediscovering all the wonderful toys and books of childhood.
  3. Watching Ben develop. Every day brings new insight, lessons, skills, enthusiasm. Watching his eyes light up as he figures something out for the first time.
  4. Watching Neil be a great father. I knew he would be. It's cool to see it play out.
  5. Hmmm.... This last one will sound strange and disturbingly self-centered, but I have to confess that one of the things I love about motherhood is what I've learned about myself, and how much stronger and more capable I feel now. Not like I can handle anything, but like I've handled a lot and done a half-decent job, if I do say so myself.

And now I'm supposed to tag five more people. I choose ... Fethiye, Jess, Rouchi, Melanie, and Dan*. Tag -- you're it! (Now, just because I tagged you, don't feel obliged to carry this forward. I know you're busy. Maybe you're just not into it. That's fine. No pressure. Don't be put off by the three years of bad luck that will ensue if you dare to break the chain.... Just kidding!)

*You're right. Dan is not a mother. He is, however, a devoted father, and I would love to hear his 5 Favorite Things about Fatherhood. Not that that's really the point of his blog, and I hesitate to suggest that he use valuable blog real estate for this. But that's his call. I just tags 'em, I don't calls 'em. You should check out his blog anyway, regardless of whether he picks up on this! For that matter, Fethiye's blog isn't about parenthood, either, adorable pictures of newborn Quentin feet notwithstanding.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Next American Idol contestant

We've finally gotten Ben to sing some songs, more or less on his own. For quite awhile now he's been very good at completing the lyrics when we sing ("In the town where I was ... " "born!"), but he has been hesitant to sing more than a few words at a time on his own. Here are some samples of his recent work:

"I'm a Little Teapot"

  • I start: I'm a little teapot short and ...
  • Ben chimes in: stouthereismyhandlehereismyspoutwhenuppourmeout.


  • Neil: There was a farmer had a dog and ...
  • Ben: Bingowashisnameb-i-n-g-o-b-i-n-g-o-b-n-gbingoname

"Ob-la-di Ob-la-da"

  • Neil: Desmond has a barrow in the ...
  • Ben: marketplacemollysingband

He doesn't actually "sing" in the sense of carrying a tune, or even attempting to do so. (He doesn't have that kind of voice control yet.) It's more like a verbal sprint to the finish line, or how one might recite the Gettysburg Address while being chased by wolves -- the emphasis is on speed rather than oratorical niceties.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ben's Second and Third Jokes

As you know, Ben has a minor Beatles obsession. A current favorite is "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da." At some point, he seems to have decided (of his own volition) that "ob-la-di ob-la-da" refers to anything that brings happiness or pleasure. At least, that's the best theory I can come up with for how he uses it. He started by saying things like, "Ob-la-di ob-la-da in noodles," or "... in honeydew." After doing this sporadically for a few days, it suddenly occurred to him that it was funny, and that the possibilities for humorous adaptation were endless. Now we get, "Ob-la-di ob-la-da in ... [looks around the room] in the TV!" [peals of laughter] He has identified ob-la-di ob-la-da in the gazebo, on the ceiling, in the crib, in Mommy's nose, on Daddy's elbow, buried in a variety of foodstuffs, and indeed in, on, or around every item within his gaze. Every instantiation is even more hilarious than the previous.

This evening, while on a walk to the "way way back" (as Ben describes the furthest portion of our backyard), Neil happened to tickle Ben's face with a small stalk of wild "bamboo." [This is a rapacious weed around here that probably bears no botanical resemblance or relation to real bamboo.] I was not there at the time, so I don't know the details, but apparently the suggestion was made by one or both parties that Ben eats baby bamboo. He thinks this is even funnier than the Ob-la-di joke. He spent the rest of the evening squealing "Benny eats baby bamboo!" and "Mommy eats baby bamboo!" and more generally "X eats baby bamboo!" for an enormous variety of X, in between showers of giggles.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ben's First Joke

Okay, this one will take some explanation.

For quite some time now, Neil has periodically told Ben the following joke: A tomato and a beet were walking down the street. The tomato says to the beet, "Are you a tomato?" And the beet says, "No, I'm a beet!"

Yes. That's the joke. Okay, so it's not exactly Chris Rock, but it has a certain charm.

Occasionally the tomato and the beet change roles, but to more or less the same effect. Why a tomato and a beet, you ask? Well, there are framed pictures of a tomato and a beet in our dining room.

When Neil is really feeling restless, he'll make an even greater departure from the tried and true by describing an analogous exchange between, say, a potato and a yam. Those were the protagonists in tonight's episode.

So I decided to one-up him as follows: A turnip and a radish were walking down the street. The turnip says to the radish, "Are you a turnip?" And the radish says, ....

And here I paused and looked suggestively at Ben, who piped up, "No, I'm a radish!"

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Socializing Issues

Usually I'm in full brag mode when posting (keep in mind that my original audience consisted of grandparents, who can't get enough of that sort of thing). But today I have Concerns. This morning we went to a Welcome Baby party for some friends (i.e. a baby shower after the kid is born). It was loud, there were a million kids running around. I could understand Ben being a bit overwhelmed and clingy. But he was more than just clingy. Whenever he lost sight of either of us, he started howling and crying. He wanted to be in our arms or on our laps, receiving our full attention at all times. We've taken him to plenty of similar social events in the past, and he would start off a bit clingy, then warm up to the occasion and actually have a good time. He didn't like it when we got too far away, but at least he could roll with it.

I had thought he was doing well at day care. Certainly he seemed to be a in good mood when I picked him up every day, and our day care provider gave positive reports. He didn't like it when one of the mothers came for lunch several days a week, but otherwise everything seemed fine. Then this week the day care provider indicated that he'd been a little fussier than usual. And on Wednesday when I picked him up, she said something like, "He's not having as many good days as we'd like by this time." Which very much took me aback -- what does that mean?

Then Neil says, yeah, he's been pretty clingy at the weekly play group he takes him to. The other kids are climbing the walls, running from room to room, but Ben freaks out every time he loses sight of Neil.

He's never been very venturesome socially, and I would say that there's always been a little underlying tension when he's in social situations. But I never thought it was a real problem until now; he seems to be taking a turn for the worse. On the other hand, when he's at home with us, he tends to be very happy and cheerful for the most part. So I'm wondering what, if anything, to do. Is this a phase? Is it just his personality? Are there ways of developing more self-confidence and independence in him?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ben's Journal

Awhile back, my mother got Ben a calendar. A nice, big calendar with peel-off vinyl numbers so you can set it up for any month, and a slick surface that you can write on with dry-erase markers. Every evening we "do calendar" with Ben, meaning that we discuss his day and record some of the significant events. For example, you can see that he turned 18 months old on April 19th and had pizza on the 23rd. It's kind've like his journal, except that he's not actually allowed to use the markers, despite his oft-repeated requests. The plan is to take a picture of it every month before erasing it.

For those of you who want to do something similar, my mother got it at a teacher's supply store in Wisconsin. She's been retired for a couple of years now, but you know the saying -- you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't get her out of the teacher's supply store.

Holy crap -- did he just say that?!?

Tonight, while playing with his beach ball: "Pi Day, Pi Day, I took it home on Pi Day."

He did indeed take the beach ball home on Pi Day. In keeping with the vaguely beachy theme of the event, there were lots of beach balls for the college kids to toss around, and Ben got to bring one home afterward. He was saying "Pi Day" reliably by the end of that day, and "beach ball" within a few days. I'm sure we discussed at the time that he got to take a beach ball home on Pi Day. But it's been a month and a half since then. He creeps me out sometimes.