Farewell Braces

goodbye-bracesFor the past 15 months, we’ve been dealing with a oral metal situation.  In short, NHL has had braces for the past 15 months.  This has meant needing to take care what NHL ate, how often he brushed his teeth, and all-too-frequent trips to the orthodontist to check out his mouth gear.  That last one definitely wasn’t cheap.

NHL has been great throughout this.  He has helped take care of his braces quite well.  He would protest when given food that he wasn’t allowed to eat – even if it was food that he really wanted to eat.  Though he would often fight over the nighttime tooth care routine, this was more a function of him being tired than not understanding the importance.

It was amazing how smoothly the braces time went.  Other than some brackets popping off due to baby teeth coming loose, we have only had one major incident.  A couple of weeks ago, NHL was complaining that his mouth was hurting.  When we looked in, we noticed that his wire had popped out.  As this was at 8:30pm on a Friday night, we couldn’t just stop by the office to get it fixed.  No, we needed to make an emergency call, drop a tired JSL off at B’s parents, and then drive out to the orthodontist’s office.  The orthodontist was nice enough to meet us there and replace NHL’s wire with a nice, strong steel one that he said wouldn’t pop off like this.

"This will never break" ranks right up there with "What’s the worst that can happen" in things that should never be said.  The next morning, NHL came into our room to tell us that his new wire had broken.  It turned out that the bracket had somehow released the wire.  Luckily, NHL was able to prop the wire on the bracket until Monday when he already had an appointment scheduled.

But today all this ends.  NHL will get his braces removed and will get a nice, new retainer to wear.  He’ll still need to take care of his teeth, of course, but at least his food restrictions will ease up.  He’s looking forward to enjoying gum, hard tacos, chips, pizza crust, bagels, popcorn, and many other foods that were denied him these past fifteen months.  I’ve got to admit that I’m happy that he’s getting his braces off too.  It’s hard enough cooking for us plus a picky JSL.  Adding in an NHL who isn’t picky but who can’t eat certain foods made things even more complicated.

Now, here’s hoping that the retainer does its job well enough that a second round of braces won’t be needed.

Aging Denial

Over the weekend, we brought the boys to a local museum.  While there, we had a lot of fun.  One "exhibit", wasn’t very fun, though.  It wasn’t fun at all.  While, I was sitting down watching the boys play with a water table (seeing how blocking the water changed the flow, B mentioned to me that she hadn’t noticed how grey I had gone.  Now, I had seen the occasional grey (maybe white) hair in my chest hair, but I thought the hairs on my head hadn’t gone grey yet.  She insisted she saw them, though.  I had to know so I took a quick photo of myself.


Worst. Selfie. Ever.

I can handle a lot of things, but as far as getting old is concerned, I’ll admit that my strategy has been Denial.  I’m not approaching 40 fast even though I celebrated my 39th birthday recently.  My hairline isn’t receding despite what B keeps saying.  Those back aches when I wake up in the morning aren’t because I’m getting old.  The fact that the music I listened to growing up is on the oldies station means nothing!  The fact that I’ve caught myself referring to college students as "those kids" multiple times was just a slip of the tongue.

I try to believe that I’m still the same person that I was when I was 21.  In some ways, I am, but in many more ways I’m not.  I’ve got to face facts that I’m aging.  Before I know it, I’ll be having a mid-life crisis.

As a side note: I’ve thought long and hard about my mid-life crisis.  I’m not one for sports cars and I’m DEFINITELY not one to chase after some young woman.  As far as the former goes, I’ve always been practical automobile-wise.  As far as the latter goes, I’m happily married.  I’ll stick with chasing after my wife, thank you very much.  So what to do for a mid-life crisis?  In true Techy fashion, I think I might go tech for my crisis.  I’ve found that, over the years, I’ve gone from buying things because they are latest and greatest to trying to financially justify each tech purchase painstakingly.  I might, for my mid-life crisis, forget about financial justifications and just get some really cool tech.

Back to denial, though, because I’m not going to go through that mid-life crisis for a long, long time.  After all, I’m still very young and not getting old at all.  Or, at least, that’s what I’m going to continue to tell myself.

Oh, and about that hairline thing?  Here’s a morph of me from 2005 and me from yesterday.  Do you think my hairline is receding?


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to yell at some kids to get off my lawn!

News Avoidance

tee-veeThe news today is filled with grim stories of wars and tragedy.  Every program seems to rush to be the first to show some new horrible act or to demonize someone for acting in a certain way.  Every time you think that the news can’t get any worse, yet another awful event occurs.  This would be bad enough on its own, but thanks to the 24 hour cable news cycle, news shows seem to feel as though they’ve got to extract every last ounce of story out of each event.  And then, when the event is bone dry and can’t possibly have anything new and insightful added to the discussion, they’ll begin to speculate on who causes the event, who will act in what manner thanks to the event, or how this event might be repeated in an even more horrible manner soon.

Lately, I seem to have a low tolerance for watching the news.  I keep informed about the bare facts of what is happening in the world, but I can’t stand the constant onslaught of people reporting on and/or commenting on the constant onslaught of bad events in this world.  I seem to recall being able to withstand the news a lot more years ago.  Now, though, I actively avoid any and all news programs.  While in past years, I might have scoffed at "puff piece" or "human interest" stories, I now welcome them as a respite from "yet another senseless tragedy that we plan on graphically covering for the next 4 hours" coverage.

More than the "light news", though, I find myself retreating into fiction.  I’d much rather delve into a good book or fill my brain with a TV show or movie than see the latest developments and speculation regarding some recent calamity.  Maybe the news is just getting worse, maybe I just over-empathize, or maybe my free time is just too precious to fill it to the brim with catastrophe and suffering.  Perhaps I just prefer a "reality" where some superhero can come swooping in to save the day instead of politicians swooping in to cash in on and argue over a tragedy while nothing gets fixed.  (Sort of like this Dork Tower comic.)  When I do decide to watch a "news program", I’ll often enjoy The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Colbert Report.  At least there I get my news soaked in comedy, not tragedy.

Do you enjoy watching the news or do you find yourself avoiding it?

NOTE: The "tee vee" image above is by ceba and is available via OpenClipArt.org.

Return To Normalcy

TechyDadsCATScanAnnotated1[1] After my surgery, normal life ground to a halt.  Immediately after the surgery, I wasn’t strong enough to get up and move for long.  In fact, when I initially woke up from the anesthesia, I had the most peculiar experience.  I became quickly conscious and aware of my surroundings.  I could hear everything going on and could think clearly.  What I couldn’t do was move.  It was like my mind was separated from my body.  It took great effort to move my body just a little bit.  Slowly, I began to regain use of my limbs and the effort returned to normal levels.

Later, I had to rest in bed.  I could move around, but moving too much would leave me out of breath.  This meant that my usual tasks of going to work, driving, making food for everyone, getting the kids ready for bed, and more had to be done by B.  You might think that sitting around doing nothing while someone else does everything for you sounds good, right?  Well, maybe for a short while it might be, but I found myself longing to do something.  In fact, I still wonder if part of my insomnia issues stemmed from not following my normal routines.  At 2am, I felt like I just had to be doing something, but there was nothing for me to do.

As I got stronger and recovered more, I was able to venture outside.  You don’t know how much you miss taking a simple walk around the block until you’re medically forbidden from doing it.  The feeling of the sun on me, the gentle breeze, and simply moving my legs felt great.  Again, with the insomnia, I felt like I just wanted to run around our house at 2am.  Unfortunately, our house is not designed for people to run around within it.  At least, not without waking everyone else up.

Finally, there is work.  I don’t talk about my work life here much because I prefer to keep my professional life and blogging/social media life separate.  Still, I missed going to work.  The intellectual challenge of it all and talking with my co-workers is a big part of my "normal life" and I missed it.  Thankfully, I’m going back to work for the first time in a week today.  I’m sure there will be plenty for me to catch up on.

By now, I’m feeling almost fully recovered.  I still can’t bend over without feeling bad pressure in my nose.  I also need to be careful not to lie on my face or touch my nose too hard.  I’m also not supposed to lift heavy objects.  There’s also the matter of the packing and blood clots that I’m still occasionally passing.  That’s not pleasant at all.  But all of this is getting less and less frequent and my life seems to be returning to normal.  Actually, it’s even better than normal because now I can breathe out of BOTH of my nostrils.  I think I’m going to like normal version 2.0.

My Little Bike Rider

our-new-bike-riderThey grow up so quickly.

Around his birthday, B’s parents told JSL that they wanted to buy him a new bike.  His current bicycle, a hand-me-down from his older brother, was getting too small for him so it was time to upgrade.  One problem:  The new bike would be too big to include training wheels.  That meant JSL would need to learn without them.  Since we wouldn’t want the new bike to be scratched from learning-to-ride falls, we decided to hold off on the new bike and just remove his training wheels on the current bike for now.

At first, JSL couldn’t get the hang of riding.  As I held onto him, he would lean towards me and then away from me.  Over the course of the first day, he began to get better and better.  Finally, I began letting go.  He would go for a second or two on his own before running into trouble.  The more practice he got that day, the better he got.  I would silently count and tell him what he got afterwards.  He got up to eight seconds and was so proud of himself.

The next day, we resumed his practicing and he got up to twelve seconds.  As every record was shattered, he’d scream out the new number.  I bet everyone on our block was wondering why he was shouting seemingly random numbers.

By Saturday, it became clear that JSL had mastered balance.  Unfortunately, his confidence was lacking.  He would be perfectly balanced with my hand on him (but not really supporting him), and yet the minute I let go he would veer towards the grass in an attempt to fall softly.

Thinking that perhaps our short up-and-down the block excursions were too short to build his confidence, I took JSL on a long bike ride a few blocks away from our house and back.  Though I held on to him most of the time, he balanced really well.

Awhile after we got back to our block, JSL was pedaling up our block and I let go of him.  As usual, he kept going.  But he didn’t stop.  He just kept going and going.  We have the "he’s got it" moment.  B was sitting outside the house when she saw him pedal past – followed by me running to keep up.  (He wore me out by making me run after him up and down the block.)

Our little baby was officially a bike rider.

Starting up still required mom or dad to push him off so he worked on that next and, by yesterday, had that figured out.  He’s growing up so quickly.  While I’m sad that he won’t need me to hold on to him as he rides anymore, I’m so proud of him for figuring out how to ride a bike.  I’m looking forward to going on some bike rides with him in the future.

Until then, I’d better get used to this view.


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