Wednesday, January 28, 2009

evil = dentists

So, I appreciate my clean, straight, complete set of teeth as much as the next well-insured American, yet I still can't help but hate the dentist. I spent what may easily prove to be some of the worst 2 1/2 hours of 2009 there yesterday getting two crowns seated. That's right, TWO. They were on my very back molars on the bottom. Right where, coincidentally, my braces were attached for two of my less-than-enviable teenage years. I clearly remember my orthodontist saying, as he removed the tooth-encompassing caps that had long sat there, "Woops," which is about the very worst thing any kind of medical professional can say to a patient. The orthodontist went on to explain that the his staff had neglected to clean those teeth adequately before putting on the braces and they now had 24 months' worth of decay that should "be checked out pretty soon."

Not long after, I had fillings done in both teeth, which, over the course of several years, future dentists deemed inadequate, removed, and refilled, until my current dentist who decided that crowns would be the best solution. And so, armed with the best insurance we could buy from Dow, I mustered up my courage and went to the dentist determined not to cry during the visit. (Once, during one of the aforementioned botched fillings, I shed a tear or two trying to stave off suffocation while my less-than gentle dentist hacked away at my mouth. When her assistant signaled that maybe it was time to take a break, she said, a la Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, "Are you crying?!")

The first half hour wasn't so bad. I signed some papers, learned how to care for temporary crowns, and got two large shots of local anesthesia, with only a little bit of pain. I easily kept myself relaxed and then read a magazine while I waited for my entire tongue and bottom lip to go fat and numb. Strangely enough, the hygenist got really chatty about the time I got totally numb. "So you had a baby?" she discerned from reading my chart. "Yea, she's weawy cute."

"How old?"

"Nigh mos"

"That's a fun age. My own is two, which is not so fun or cute anymore. Especially when he's falling on the floor at the grocery store. Not so cute. But nine months is cute. And fun. Have you decided how you're going to do child care yet?"

"I no goin ba to wok"

"Really? I tried that. It drove me crazy..." And so on. Eventually, she called in the doctor to begin. "I think you're ready, 'cause you can barely talk!" Duh.

And so began the next hour. The hour from hell. The hour that nearly broke my fighting spirit.

The doctor began to drill. And drill. And drill. "Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the memories," he sang. Over and over again. The hygienist seemed to barely be doing her job. "Is that thing on?" The dentist asked of the suction. I had been wondering that for a lot longer. "Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the memories." The suction was on, but not working very well, so another sucker was brought in and promptly shoved down my throat. "Careful!" from the dentist "You're going to suck her lunch back up!"

This went on for a long time. Drill drill drill. Squirt. Suction. Give me a moment to breathe. "We're not trying to torture and drown you," the dentist reassured me. This is as close as I'll ever come to waterboarding, I thought.

"We're almost done," the dentist said as he went in for another drill. "...Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the memories." And then the sharp pain hit. I clenched the arm rests of the reclined chair and sucked in air. "Did that hurt?"


"All right" and then he jammed another needle into my gums to numb it some more. "Hm-hm-hm-hm-hm-hm. Thanks for the memories."

Thankfully, after the first tooth was done, I was detached enough and determined to see the end quickly that the second tooth went much more smoothly. I had learned when to breathe and remembered to think about relaxing my body every now and then.

By the time the drilling was over, all I could do was lay there and give thumbs up or down in response to whatever was asked. I concentrated on keeping my mouth open the entire time the holes were filled in and the temporary crowns were fitted. My lips cracked and bled. My throat was dry. The hygienist kept putting in clean and pulling out bloody gauze from my gums. "You're really hemorrhaging." Something else not to say to a patient. The hygienist molded and trimmed and sucked and prodded. At one point, she made me gag with the suction. I hacked and coughed. "You okay?" she asked as she shoved the suction in place again. "Uh" I responded.

And then all of a sudden, she said, "You're all done." I dizzily got up from the recline I'd been in for over two and half hours. She led me to the front desk. I'd meant to ask for a toothbrush since I need a new one, but it was all I could do to breathe. "Have a great afternoon. Denise will take care of the rest."

Denise, smiling sympathetically, asked, "Long day?" I nodded and my heart reached out for this kind face who understood.

She seemed to sense my need and with a great smile and turn of the head, she said, "That'll be $611.00"

*fyi-- Thnks fr th Mmrs My dentist is so hip.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

a new and a shining place

Nothing compares to the foot-stomping, fist-pumping, pride-inspiring rock of Mr. Neil Diamond.

*Megan-- do have any video of Awesome City's rendition of this from a ward talent show circa 2004-2005?

Friday, January 23, 2009

so I don't forget

So many times I ask women older than I about their experiences being a young mother, and invariably, they say, "You know, I really don't remember," in response to most questions. They remember a few specific cute instances and the general joy of having a baby who adores you, but the rest is a blur. This post is to hopefully clear up the blur for my future self-- or maybe for Anna when she calls to ask about her own kids.

At about six months, Anna started to become a whole new baby. She became much more aware and curious. She started laughing boisterously. Her first ma-ma-ma-ma drew huge praise from her constant one-woman audience. Soon we heard babababa, mouth-smacking pops, drooly lip-buzzes, hissing S's, and the occasional accidental z or th.

With her ever-growing repertoire of foods, and one little gnawing tooth, I tried more finger foods and noticed that Anna was getting pretty skilled at using her thumb and forefinger to pick up the little Gerber star puffs. Getting them in her mouth took another two weeks, but now it's one smooth motion from pick-up to her first gummy chew of the star.

From about 6-8 months, Anna was became a joy of a baby. She slept easily when I put her down for a nap, and her bedtime moved earlier. She was often waking at night, but after a night or two of letting her cry it out, she slept from 8 PM to 6 or 7 AM. Everything we did together was fun and exciting, and when I needed a break, she was happy to bounce in her exersaucer. She loved getting out of the house and examining the world around her.

One day, around 7 1/2 months, I was buckling her into her carseat after a shopping trip. She suddenly started crying, either from a pinch or from biting her own thumb with her new tooth. Either way, the moment after her scream, she looked up at me and reached out, begging to be held and comforted-- something I had never seen! Of course, off came the seat belts and I snuggled my baby who so desperately wanted me. The next day, I was singing some action songs to her (itsy-bitsy spider, popcorn popping, etc.). I stopped, and she panted, flapped her arms, and kicked her legs with glee. When I still didn't start a new song, she reached out and grabbed my hands. "Come on, Mom! Make them work!" Again, I melted to her will and sang another song. I used future opportunities to introduce the "more" sign, but it was so exciting to me to see my baby show so clearly that I was what she wanted and that I made her so happy.

Soon after, we went to Ohio for Christmas and she was wonderful there. She smiled at everyone and loved to be played with. She splashed and kicked in the big bathtub (her first real time there) and sang and talked all the time. She learned to roll from her back to her tummy while we were there and now loves to roll all over the place. She was a great eater there and charmed us all with how much she loved to kick the boingy foot rest on Grandma Stay's high chair. Great-grandpa Roly was thrilled to see her play with his spoon and drink his juice and reach for Fawnie's wheel chair. (He was equally thrilled to dance with me at the nursing home Christmas party, and it made Grandma Fawnie cry). Anna was always sweet as could be and everyone was sad to see her go.

Here at home was a different story, though. Having been attended to non-stop for almost two weeks and having an endless supply of new stimulation, coming home to the same few rooms in our apartment and the same old toys was not good enough for Anna. Unless I was paying attention to her, she was crying and screaming. (As a side note, I hear what other mothers call "crying and screaming" from their babies. Trust me, it's nothing compared to what Anna does for even her most mild demands). That made it stressful for me to even go to the bathroom when Anna was awake, and she was no longer content to be set in her crib and drift happily to sleep for naps. No, now it was "take me to the brink of exhaustion and then just maybe I'll think about sleeping for an hour."So, we spent a lot of time out of the house where Anna had new and interesting things to occupy her attention. "You have such a sweet, happy baby!" people would say in the grocery store, or library, or park, or wherever I went to escape the crying. And I had to remind myself that yes, I must me doing something right to have her feel so secure and happy so often, but was I doing something terribly wrong to make her hate being at home?

After several mind-numbing days, a few tears, and lots of prayer, she seems to be over the worst. I've become very creative in the activities I offer her. And we play with new toys in new locations. She's gaining back some of her old sweetness and my emotional bank account has gotten a few deposits in the last day or two after a long, continual withdrawal.

So here's to the future Anna, the one whose lunging will soon become crawling, whose babbling will soon be talking, whose tentative little hand clasps will soon be enthusiastic clapping. No matter what happens every day, I love to snuggle you close at night, and watch you fall asleep, so content to be with me. Hopefully, through all the blur, that's what I remember.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

a letter

Dear President Obama--

Congratulations on your inauguration. As I watched the ceremonies, I was proud of my country and inspired to see people of all nations and colors coming together to create and celebrate. I'm glad I can say I witnessed the momentous occasion of the swearing in of the first African American (and what better way to describe you?) President of the United States. We are ready to answer your call to responsibility and to step forward with tenuous hope as we wrestle the many challenges ahead. Please don't be too overwhelmed by the outrageous and unrealistic hope that many have that you alone can solve America's problems. Most of us know that's impossible and are ready to do our part, lend our support, and forgive when mistakes are made. You have accepted the most difficult job in the world and none of us-- well-- hardly any of us envy your position.

So press forward with excitement, with caution, with idealism, and with wisdom. We are behind you and are praying for you. God speed, Mr President.

Love, The Cosbys

PS-- Your daughters are dolls, and your wife's dress was gorgeous. You are a lucky man to have Michelle.

PPS-- Sorry about the crappy crystal bowl we, the American people, gave you to commemorate the event. Unlike your election, nobody asked my opinion on that one.

Monday, January 19, 2009

bluebell belated

During Sam's Thanksgiving vacation time, we decided to visit the Bluebell ice cream factory in Brenham, TX. We love seeing how things work and we love ice cream, so it was the perfect little trip, despite Anna's crying almost the whole way home.

Here are some interesting tidbits we learned on the trip:
  • Bluebell only uses milk from cows at dairy farms within 200 miles of Brenham and the milk is delivered daily
  • It takes the milk from 50,000 cows to produce a days worth of ice cream at the factory
  • When the mix goes into the tub, it's only a little colder than room temperature. As soon as the lid get clamped on, the tub is turned upside down which creates an airtight seal before it goes in the blast freezer. That's why Bluebell cartons are sometimes so tough to open.
  • Bluebell is the third highest seller of ice cream in the country, and it only sells in 14 states. It comes behind Breyers and Dryers which sell in all 50 states.
  • The factory only runs 8 hours a day Monday- Friday and workers can eat all the ice cream they want. Not a bad factory gig.
Aside from those, I was impressed by two things. First was seeing the extra ingredients get stirred into the ice cream. There was a big tub of berries getting swirled into some vanilla, and they looked so fresh and yummy. And second was the lid machine. The ice cream mix would get shot out a tube into a swirling tub (spun so there's an even distribution and no air bubbles) and then a lid would clamp onto it. But the lids came from a big box of lids that were just dumped into it. A little machine that looked like shelves moving up a rotating treadmill would catch the lids upright and roll them into the chute that led to the full ice cream buckets. If, however, a lid got on the machine the wrong way, the shelf-tread was perfectly engineered such that the lid would fall back off into the bucket. Sam told me it wouldn't be that hard to do, especially since the lids are so top-heavy, but I was still impressed at how cool machines are.

Of course, the proverbial cherry-on-top of the whole experience was the free scoop of ice cream at the end of the tour. I tried the newest flavor, Butter Nut Crunch which is basically vanilla with Butterfinger pieces in it. I still think my all-time favorite flavor is Strawberries and Homemade Vanilla. Delicious. I don't know if I agree that Bluebell is the best ice cream in the country, as most Texans will argue, but it sure made for a great day for the Cosbys.

Don't worry, we let Anna have some ice cream too

In front of the still-running Ford delivery truck. This one's for you, Dad.

The whole fam with the Bluebell girl and cow

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

we wii

I am totally addicted to Wii play cow racing.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Here are some more pictures from our Christmas vacation to Ohio. Most were taken by my sister-in-law Lesli, but I took a few with her camera. My oh my what a difference a good camera and a little photoshop know-how can do for pictures.

Anna in the Johnny Jump-Up I used as a baby. She loves it. We brought it home.

With cousin Daniel, who is not so sure of Anna's affectionate face-whaps

Daniel testing out the awesome bow and arrows my dad made for him

Cute Steve and Rachel who surprised us all with the news that they're expecting a baby in July!

Mom said, "That hat had been well-loved by a family who gave it to me when I had Doug [the second-oldest in my family]." We all used it and now it's on the heads of a new generation. That is one cute, well-made 40-year-old hat

I took the following photos. I'm so proud.

Lesli took the rest of these. She's so good.

The whole group. We all look a little gigantic, but I like it nonetheless.

We missed you Mike, Miriam, Aidan, Marty, William, Karen, Peter, Elizabeth, Dave, Marcelle, Jonas, and little Maggie!