Monday, April 28, 2008

Post Surgery, odds and ends

Things have been hopping along lately, and I have several brief anecdotes, any of which could be their own full journal entry, all of which I've clumsily slung together as one post.

So I've been getting these recurring sinus infections for the last several years, causing me increasingly painful and debilitating headaches. Suck. I first went to my family doctor about this in late 2000, and I was misdiagnosed as having cluster headaches, given some Vicodin, and sent on my way. A couple years later, after many headaches and lost days of work, I was near collapse when I got in my car to go to work one morning, and decided to go to the ER instead.


When I came to on my couch with a remote control in my hand some 4 hours later, I vaguely remembered someone having done a CT Scan on me at the hospital. It came back as a massive sinus infection, and I was referred to an ENT specialist, who has been my antibiotic supplier for the last two years. When the infections came on more frequently, and a second CT scan showed that back-to-back rounds of antibiotics didn't kill the infection, he recommended surgery. I said yes.

So I had a septoplasty and sinus procedure done, suffered a mildly irritating couple days of nosebleeds, a week of having a plastic appliance up my nose, and two weeks before I felt like myself again. I've only just recently been able to start exercising again with full effort, and I put off joining my mates on the soccer field when the season started a couple weeks ago in favor of giving myself some extra training time to get my wind back.

Now I'm back to full strength, doing as many push-ups, sit-ups, and chin-ups as I was before the surgery, as long a hold in the dolphin plank yoga pose, as many reps with 50 pounds on curls, Arnold presses, and bent rows. Everything back to where it was, except the running. I haven't run much at all over the winter, and when I was out practicing soccer with Stacey, I felt pretty clumsy, and tripped over my own feet once. Not a good sign.

That was practice with the kid, though. This Sunday was a different story. After one whiff which resulted in us getting scored on, I settled down and started playing well. On the sidelines watching the game were my daughters, wife, and in-laws, who all seemed to enjoy the spectacle. Stacey's old teammate Rachel was there with her father, and she and Stacey had a good time horsing around.

Stacey came pretty close to getting scored on for the first time this season as goalie last week. She let the striker get the ball between her legs, but turned and fell on it before it rolled in. Awesome reaction.

Her dance classes just had their pictures taken in their spring recital outfits, trey cute. I did Stacey's hair in a ballet bun for the first time in years, and it came out pretty good. Thankfully, Liberty was around to help with the make-up, where she vetoed the bad color choices the school suggested, and did Stacey up in something more appropriate to her skin tone... or so they tell me.

Little Scout, Liberty, and I have been having fun with sidewalk chalk lately. It turns out Liberty is the superior chalk artist. I found out that ants don't like to cross chalk lines when I, on a whim, drew a circle around one to see what would happen. It was odd, she (the ant, I'm not actually sure of the gender, but I'm saying "she") ran around furiously, bounding in random directions, and turning suddenly when she touched chalk. Eventually she found a section of the circle that had small gaps in the chalk line, and managed to run across it. Scout watched what must have been serious science to her three year old eyes.

Stacey, Liberty, and I went down to the Earth Day celebration at Goodale Park this Saturday, where we listened to some live music, watched hippies dance, played with dogs wandering around off their leashes, and watched another instance of Liberty's superior artistry. There were several booths advertising political groups, green businesses, nature reserves, etc., and one was asking everyone to draw something in a square of a giant tablecloth that will later be used as some art project or other. Stacey and I threw down some quick doodles, Liberty took about 10 minutes painstakingly drawing a flower pattern. It was gorgeous. In fact, here it is:

Friday was Stacey's 6th grade informal orchestra concert. The theme was the 60s, and the kids were encouraged to dress in 60s style clothes. A few nights before, me and the girls hit a vintage clothing store down in the Short North, and bought Stacey some simple bellbottoms and a hippy-ish shirt with clouds and a smiling sun on it. She looked cool in 60s clothes, with her long blonde hair hanging down loose. When I walked her over to the school for the concert, a number of girls greeted her cheerfully, which I'm not used to seeing. They seemed almost eager to see her, and she was one of the gang. I was elated, and beat a hasty retreat before my presence ruined everything, as I am very repellant to "the gang" in most cases, and didn't want any of that to rub off on Stacey.

At work today, there was an "Operation Feed" bake sale on my floor. Of the 5 or so items brought to the sale, only one of them, cupcakes, was homemade. The rest were storebought, and presumably flavorless, sweets. I made a comment to the people setting up that this was not a bake sale, but a resale. Why don't people like to cook anymore? I've seen the same problem in Girl Scouts and soccer, Stacey and I will cook up something fancy, have fun doing it, and make everyone happy with our creation, and other parents just go to the store and buy potato chips, missing great bonding time with their children - the moments that life is all about, the times you reflect on in your rocking chair when you're old. Liberty suggested Stacey was more fond of me than most pre-teens are of their parents, and most kids that age just don't want to spend time with mom and dad cooking something.

Their loss.

And while we're on a down note, Stacey's soccer game this evening was an atrocious nightmare of testosterone induced madness. Our assistant coach, loud and obnoxious in general (who another parent posed the question "is he for real?" about), got into a sideline shouting match with the other team's coach. Kids on both teams were pushing each other until one of our girls started crying. Some parents were making snide comments to the referee and some of the other players. I was so taken aback by all the anger that I walked away from the field to clear my head -- and missed Stacey taking a shot on goal. The shot was blocked, and followed up by our smallest player, the one who was crying earlier, for a score. Stacey, the tallest kid on either team, managed to avoid any rough play, using her legs to play instead of her hands. Just like I taught her.

Aside from the anger management class waiting to happen, life is good.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My girls rock. Seriously.

Yesterday all my girls made me pretty damned happy. I'll talk about them in the order that I met them.


She played some awesome soccer yesterday. On the way to the past few games, I've been giving a small strategy hint, like "sprint past the player with the ball, then engage her," or "position yourself to surprise the player with the ball - move back a little, then sprint at them when they lead the ball out," or "position yourself to receive a pass, spread out when two of you are near the ball." None of these strategies were really applicable, as little girls soccer doesn't play like a professional game does. No, kids' games are much more fun and interesting. I don't think that 5 minutes of coaching and pep talk during the drive to a game will turn Stacey into an elite footballer, but I think engaging her to think about the game, encouraging her to pay attention to where people are and what they look like they're about to do, lays the foundation that she can build her own strategy from. Basically, it really wouldn't matter what I said, it's just important to get her mind fixed on the problem. Her fantastic mind that far exceeds where I was at her age.

Yesterday she had her game on, blocking shots at fullback, making steals and good passes at midfield, and making three saves at goalie. Goalie is where she really shines, gaining much coach, team, and sideline praise. She has never been scored on (which I try to say as much as I can while it's still true), and is often 10 feet away from the goal, fearlessly running out to grab a ball before the opponent gets set for a shot. It was fun to watch, and she was happy getting the positive feedback from an otherwise demanding and elitist group of kids and parents.

Liberty and Scout came to the game, and when Stacey made her first big save, I was standing near her on the sidelines holding Scout, and the two of us yelled out cheers to her. I could see the glee on Stacey's face, making a good play with family watching and cheering her on.

Although I'm not competitive, don't angrily push Stacey to be the best, and have the sense to allow her to be as engaged with her activities as she wants to, I was happy to see Stacey start to break through the barriers in her game and her interaction with the other girls, getting some camaraderie with her team, and gaining not a small measure of confidence. As her dad, I couldn't have been prouder.


This upcoming Monday we'll have been married for a month. I swear I've never loved a woman more than I love her, even now that we're settling into a routine, and each of us is thinking "OK, now what?" She's still amazing, and as beautiful to me now as the day I first saw her on the sidewalk by PF Chang's at Easton last September 1. I'm not the type of man to be smitten, and have always maintained some reserve around women I've dated. But with Liberty, I quickly lost all pretense of having any sense around her. She is everything I have ever wanted in a woman, and she came to me on her own, sized me up, and liked what she saw. She has the hippy mentality, a healthy dose of pessimism about the way things are, but not so much that she can't find a hundred things to laugh and smile about every day. The look. God, the look. A little spice here and there on top of the body type that, well... I think my kid might read this some day, so I'll skip that part. I've also said before that I suspect she's smarter than I am, and isn't shy about disagreeing with me when she thinks I'm full of hot air. Keeps me honest.

So, yeah, I fell for her. And I married her 6 and a half months after we met. And if I could change anything about how that worked out, I wouldn't have waited so damned long.

Yesterday Liberty had the day off from work and a court date in the afternoon, so we watched Scout from home in the morning, and I got to see a few hours of mommy bonding with her baby girl. She read to her, played with her toys, braided her hair, and gave her the smile that always makes me melt, and words of love and comfort that only sound right coming from a mom. Scout felt cherished, and safe, and wanted. When I see Liberty with her daughter, just naturally affectionate and giving, real, with no affected sing-song voice or baby talk, I fall in love with her all over again. Every time. And as a bonus, when she's focussed on Scout, I can still sneak in a kiss or two.

So Yesterday I watched Liberty work her charms on Scout, and the two of them came to watch Stacey totally kick ass at soccer. She likes her stepdaughter a lot, and despite not being into sports, comes out in support of Stacey. The two of them have spent some time together a few times without me, without needing any coercing. They've gone go-carting at Magic Mountain, and Stacey has learned some of the fine art of retail sales at Liberty's work a couple times (unless you work at the same company, in which case she hasn't, that was a complete lie).

She's the best, as good to me and Stacey as she is to her own daughter. Those of you who had the chance to snatch her up and failed to do so lost out big. What were you thinking? I mean, seriously.


"Daddy, om my up."

If I need to tell you what that means, you won't understand how it makes me feel to hear it. My ears remembered the words, and my arms knew what to do. And we never said "hey, Curtis is your daddy, call him daddy, ok?" She just did.

So those are my girls, and why I'm a happy man right now.