November 2008

Does anyone else think that children who are learning new words are behaving at their most precious?

Maura (22 months) is starting to form three and four word sentences.

Malcolm said the word, “Twitterpated” at dinner tonight (compliments of repeated viewings of Bambi).

At what point do you get nervous that your son wants to watch Bambi instead of football?

Maura thinks that anything that is dirty is “Un poopy diaper”.

Maura uses the word “un” as a prefix to just about anything she says.  “Un poopy diaper.”  “Un juice, daddy.”  “Un daddy!”  Either she is secretly learning French, or she is developing her own version of the Canadian “eh?”  Instead of at the end of a statement, she puts hers at the beginning.  Un interesting idea.

Malcolm helped himself to three brownies while I was giving Maura a bath tonight.  Well, he says it was three.  I didn’t approve even one, so I didn’t bother getting upset about number two and three.  Of course, I didn’t even get an opportunity to approve the brownies.  How does the old saying go, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.”  Something like that.

Pizza is yummy.  Even if it’s a half an hour late.



Good morning.

I wanted to give you a brief update about what’s been going on here on 10 Harvard Street. For some of the exciting goings on, I’ll refer you back to my Thanksgiving Eve post. There is one story that I haven’t shared because I’ve been trying to find the most exciting way to tell it. I haven’t found an exciting way of telling it, so you’ll get the boring, ho hum version of the story and I’ll let the facts be the excitement.

First, Meredith is doing well. I was able to get to her therapies on Friday for the first time since she started as an outpatient at the hospital (Rutland Regional Medical Center). It has become clear to me that Meredith is able to do more than we “allow” her to do. I know from my perspective I don’t have her do things because of time and expediency (with two little kids running around that isn’t hard to understand why). But she is probably able to do more and should do more, so now I just need to figure out a way to make that happen when I’m home. Of course, in order to facilitate Meredith doing more things on her own she should be doing a regular exercise routine. Again, not a problem for Shannon (her aide) during the week, but it is a problem for me when it’s just me.

That brings me to a little aside. I am very grateful for all of the help many people have given me throughout this ordeal, especially my mom, my family and my in-laws. I certainly would have many more gray hairs if I didn’t have the help that they have provided. I am also very grateful for the community of cookers that Marty Barclay has been arranging for us. They’ve provided me two nights a week of delicious food (and more importantly, time not to worry about what to make for dinner).

Well, the sewage continued to spill out of the trap in the basement floor. Greg finally called the drain service people for me while we were visiting my Dad and step-mom (which was a great visit). I was reluctant to call them because, well, probably because I’m stubborn, but also because they’ve been to the house twice already back in August and the problem has not gone away. I was also hoping to time it so that I didn’t have to pay double time for their services on a holiday or weekend. No such luck. I haven’t used the toilet since he was here, but I’m not holding my breath.

Maura is very congested, but she seems to be otherwise fine. Malcolm is still whiny, but I still love him ( (I never stopped, in case you doubted). Merlin, well…

Enter two little visitors that showed up on my door. Literally, my chest and my arm. Oh, a couple of weeks back, I noticed something on my chest right below my left collar bone. It looked to me like a blood blister that had ballooned up from my skin. I didn’t think much of it because when I wrestle with the kids I get pinched and poked and pounced on all over. I just figured it was one of those pinchings that resulted in a blood blister. A few days later I noticed another one on the back of my right arm (actually, Malcolm is the one to have discovered that one for me).

(Too much information warning)

So, I’m sitting on the toilet one afternoon after school, minding my own business (doing my business if you prefer) and I felt something fall down my back. Huh? I thought to myself, I wonder what that was. I proceed to wrap up what I’m doing (not literally, of course) and I spot something on the toilet seat. Huh? What is that? I picked it up and to my curiosity I discovered that it was the “blood blister” that was from my chest. After looking at it up close, my curiosity turned to horror as I realized that it was no blood blister. It was a tick! A TICK!

Of course, out of a morbid curiosity (and an overwhelming desire to squish the little monster) I looked closely at the creature and squeezed it. Sure enough, the sack of my digested blood explodes violently and splatters all over my face. Well, the rest of the story is a little fuzzy, but it went something like this:

I exclaimed disgust.

I squirmed.

I exclaimed disgust.

I took of my shirt and inspected the other tick. I carefully removed the tick, took pictures of it, and put him in a plastic bag to die a slow death of suffocation.

I squirmed.

I called my father-in-law, the dentist. Not really sure what he was going to tell me, I figured he would have advice for me as my skin was crawling with imaginary ticks.

Reassured, but not satisfied, I called my sister-in-law, the physician’s assistant and woods dweller (i.e. tick connoisseur). I asked her to assure me that I wouldn’t die, I told her my story. I realized that I didn’t need to go to the emergency room (even though I very much wanted to so that I could take a hazmat bath).

I squirmed. My skin continued to crawl with imaginary ticks sucking my very real blood. In fact, I didn’t don another shirt for at least an hour. I was constantly looking over my shoulder and in the mirror, convinced that the ticks had bred like rabbits and I was covered with them. I squirmed some more.

I have since visited the doctors and we are pursuing a course of blood screening before we try any antibiotics. If I do have Lyme disease, then because we caught it early (and crushed and suffocated the little buggers) it is very treatable with a three-week course of antibiotics. That is very reassuring, of course, but I’m still squirming.

I have posted a picture of my little friend on my other blog. Follow the link at it at your own peril. It will cause your skin to crawl as it did mine.

Happy first Sunday in Advent!

Take care and God bless.



Yes, that sack behind the head is filled with my blood.

I have called him Evil.  Because that is what he is.

Well, well…there was something I was supposed to wish you all, but I can’t remember what it is. It’ll come to me. In the meantime, here are some more goings on in the Whitman house.

The day started off well enough, that is unless you count the broken picture frame above Malcolm’s bed. I’m not sure how it happened, and I decided right away that it wasn’t going to bother me, but an 8×10″ picture of Malcolm, Mommy, and Daddy on Malcolm’s first birthday (compliments of the Dinnany’s – thanks guys!) was off the wall, glass smashed, picture torn, and lying in Malcolm’s crib. Obviously, the most frustrating part was that the picture itself was torn (pretty much beyond repair) and that we have no duplicate of that image. I did check to make sure Malcolm wasn’t hurt and proceeded to spend the next 10-20 minutes cleaning up the mess he had made while he and Maura ran around downstairs.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we ran out of diapers and the only thing we had was pull-ups (which for you uninitiated folk are diaper-lites: good transition to underwear but weak on the absorption, and definitely not poop conducive). No problem, right? After all, we’re trying to train Malcolm to be diaper free and potty trained so what a perfect excuse to promote using the toilet for our peeps and poops. Stayed tuned…

So after I clean up from the picture fiasco, I proceed to make breakfast. Keep in mind, it’s gotten rather late. Blast, no more cereal that the kids like! Now what? Well, thanks to Grandma, we’ve got some cinnamon bread in the house and it appeals to young taste buds quite nicely. Everyone has breakfast and walks away content.

Mommy and I rush to get ready because I have a doctor’s appointment at 11am and by the time breakfast is cleared up it’s getting rather late. I brought Meredith over to her parents’ house and left the kids with Stephanie (who was eager to see them on break from school) and then headed to my appointment. (I should say that the kids were excited to see Stephanie, too.) I managed to get to the doctor’s appointment within a half an hour of the actual time (and you know the way the doctor’s office works…that means I was actually early for my appointment!).

Well, the rest of the day proceeded in relative calm. Meredith got to visit with two of her friends from high school, Cara and Rachel, and I was told they talked “girl stuff” and that I wouldn’t understand. I told her that I’m a father of a girl and to try me for understanding, but I could get no more information. Oh, and remember the potty training thing I mentioned earlier…well, let’s just say we’re still working on it.

Enter bed time…

Maura and I ventured upstairs for bath and bed time. She seemed a little out of sorts and possibly a little warm, but we proceeded as usual with our routine. When I took her out of the tub she was shaking and shivering so much that she made the changing table rattle, so I decided to take her temperature to see what it was. Well, little Miss Maura does not like the rectal thermometer (can’t say I blame her). She cried, and cried, and squirmed, and cried. After the thermometer revealed that her temperature was 102.5, she proceeded to vomit on the changing table. I was dodging chunks of Clementine oranges while trying to minimize the collateral damage and provide some degree of solace for my poor little girl.

I cleaned her up, gave her some Tylenol, and proceeded to get her ready for bed. By this time, Malcolm was most interested in why Maura was throwing up. So, he had to come upstairs with us to read stories to Maura before she went to bed. Well, Sir Malcolm smelled a little ripe, but when asked if he had something in his diaper (it was a real diaper at this point, because I managed to get to the grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving which is almost as stupid as trying to shop for Christmas presents the day after Thanksgiving) Malcolm claimed not to have anything in there. Yet when he jumped up to my lap to read a story with Maura and me he refused to sit on his bum. Sure there’s nothing in there, buddy.

Anyway, Maura went to sleep fine, and as I listen on the monitor, I don’t hear her making any unusual sounds (like fish tap dancing on marble floors). Now we shift our focus to Fruit One. He does well right up until the point where I take out the nail clippers. He does fine with his fingers and after a considerable amount of coaxing, cajoling, and outright threatening, he managed to get all but the big toe on his right foot cut. Sadly, I had to resort to brute force to subdue the squirming foot long enough to get two effective snips. He calmed down, but neither one of us was terribly pleased with the exchange.

I went downstairs to finish cleaning up after Maura’s vomiting episode only to discover a gurgling sound coming from the shower after I flushed the toilet. That could mean only one thing: our drain pipes were backing up. Slowly I made my way downstairs unsure of what I would find. Sadly, I didn’t make it to the third step before I realized there was water on the basement floor. Sure enough, the drain pipe had indeed backed up, poop and all. (There is more to the story of seeping sewage and perhaps I’ll get around to writing about it…If I haven’t already…)

So, after about an hour of sucking up the water with a wet/dry shopvac (which arrived at our house during the great basement flood of the spring of ’08 – thanks Dad!), I moseyed upstairs to get ready for bed. Of course, I couldn’t sleep so here I am, remembering what it was that I was supposed to wish you at the beginning of this note…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ben & Jerry’s has delivered one of my least favorite slogans to the bumpers of cars everywhere. As I sit in traffic, I am surrounded by the inane statement, “If It’s Not Fun, Why Do It?” Who really believes that? Unfortunately, too many people do.

Wouldn’t it be great if life was always full of fun to inspire us to participate in the myriad of activities that we are blessed to have as opportunities (especially here in the United States). It would be great, and it would also be an inaccurate picture of life. Life is full of things that are “un-fun”. Who would argue that picking up other people’s garbage was fun? Who would argue that cancer is fun to deal with? Who would argue that the loss of life is fun? And yet these things are a part of life and they happen whether you have fun with it or not.

Now, I’ll cut the sloganeers some slack if they are talking about an attitude of fun. Sure, the right attitude is important no matter what you choose to do. But somehow, I don’t think that’s what the marketing experts at Ben & Jerry’s had in mind.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t have too much fun disciplining my children and I certainly don’t have much fun listening to their whines. As a responsible parent, I can’t just choose not to do it as the bumper sticker slogan suggests. What would happen to my children? What would happen to children all over the world if parents chose to “not do it” because raising their children was “not fun”? (Some may argue – myself included – that is happening all too frequently already.)

Parenting may be an extreme example that was never intended to fall under the umbrella of the benign bumper sticker slogan, but even if you apply it to other parts of life with less obvious significance, the logic falls apart (here is where I have to confess that the marketers at Ben & Jerry’s probably could care less about logic, but are happily reaping the rewards of other people who like the catchy phrase). Take the workplace.

If suddenly you decided that you weren’t having fun at work, then would you just as suddenly quit? Probably not, because most of us realize that is not a very responsible thing to do (especially if you have a family to support). But some people flit from job to job precisely because they are not having fun, or the job just doesn’t “do it” for them. More specifically, within your job there are probably things that you don’t have fun doing. Chances are, you can’t decide to stop doing those facets of you job just because they’re not fun. If did decide that, then you’d likely be fired (or lose business as a self-employed business person).

An example: Who picks up the trash that you leave behind at work? Do you? No, that’s not fun. But someone has to do it. So, you (or your company) hires someone to do that job. Now, that person gets paid to pick up trash, but are they having fun doing the job? (Are they expected to have fun?) If they aren’t having fun should they quit? If they quit, who is going to pick up the trash? Are you? No, so the company keeps hiring people until they find the person who thinks that picking up trash is fun or they pay the right wage to someone who is willing to balance the paycheck with the lack of fun found in the job of picking up trash. (Here is where I could launch into a discussion of economics that many people fail to grasp, but that would take too much time.)

I’ll go back to the question of attitude. If a good attitude is what is meant by the bumper sticker than I’m all for supporting it. No matter what is you choose to do with your life, you should have the best possible attitude toward it or you will drive yourself crazy. So in that sense, you owe it to yourself to have fun. Or, if not having fun, then at least having a good attitude about what it is you are doing. However, a simple understanding of English (which too many people lack) demonstrates that the bumper sticker slogan “If it’s not fun, why do it?” is hardly suggesting to put on a good attitude and is simply suggesting have fun, no matter what.

What a disastrous motto for living life.


Good afternoon.

All is well in the Whitman household. At least if you believe the headlines.

Seriously, Meredith is doing well and is progressing nicely. Her therapies are yielding dividends that are encouraging. Her memory, while not perfect (let’s face it, who’s is), is improving. Her health is good (minus the whole tumor and paralysis stuff). So, in that respect things could hardly be better.

Enter the three-year-old. (I’ll do my best to be kind here, because after all he is my son and I love him dearly.) If anyone needed proof that sin is a sickness all humans are born with, then spending time with a typical three-year-old should clear up that up for you right away. I’m told Malcolm’s behavior is typical. I read it in the books and I hear it from my parenting peers. Either way, it isn’t a whole lot of fun dealing with the whining and crying that accompanies the selfishly-motivated desires of a little boy who isn’t getting his way.

What has proved to be the most challenging aspect of this contest of wills is getting through the initial onset of the whining and crying and identifying the source of the whine and/or cry. Once I am confident that the cry is not a result of something sad, or painful, and is most likely selfish in nature, then I am able to assume the role of father and help him work through it (without giving into his demands). Of course, that takes an amazing amount of will power on my part because the whining is so piercing and aggravating that I can barely think straight. And I confess to not always being strong enough to overcome my own selfish behaviors in order to focus on correcting my son’s.

When all is said and done, however, if I’ve been able to keep my cool while standing firm and if Malcolm stops crying long enough to listen to my correction, then we will have formed a stronger relationship because of it. I might even argue that he loves me more because of the correction (especially if I’ve done well with the delivery of the correction). And as importantly is that I am helping (with a large dose of God’s workmanship) to shape Malcolm into the type of man that he will ultimately become. Malcolm, along with his three-year-old peers, may be a selfish little boy, but with every course correction I see him take I see a mighty fine individual emerging. That’s what I try and set my eyes on when caught in the thick of the battle.

Praise to God for your health and take care.


I’m still trying to wrap my simple-minded brain around the phrase “moral equivalence”.  It seems to be most often used by conservative commentators who are appalled at the comparisons of how the U.S. executes a war and how Al Queda wages war.  There are other examples to be sure, but I have something that might fall into that category if you’ll indulge me.

Sex Offenders.  Are they people too?  The answer to that question may be “above my pay grade” (thanks, President-Elect Obama), but how we respond their despicable acts should not be too difficult to figure out.

Here is a link to a news story that appeared on the Fox News web site with the title Indiana Father Kills Sex Offender Who Broke Into HomeIt is a tad outdated (September 29, 2008) but a comment that appears at the end of the article is astounding.  It reads:

Nobody wins,” McNally told The Indianapolis Star. “It’s a lose-lose situation for everybody. He has family also.”

Now, McNally is the man who defended his family from the attacker and ended up killing him (or at least being the catalyst for his death).  His daughter’s purity, innocence, and possibly her life, were threatened by a deviant, evil man and he has the resounding moral ambiguity to say, “It’s a lose-lose situation for everybody.”  What would he have said if the attacker was successful in his evil plans?  Or if he had survived the father’s defense despite being foiled in his attempt to rape the daughter?  It seems impossible to me that what McNally is saying is that his daughter’s innocence and/or life is morally equivalent to the attacker’s life, but that is certainly what it sounds like.  How can that be?

Our culture has become perverted in so many ways that are beyond the analysis of a simple husband and father (and it would certainly take more time than one little blog post would allow).  However, one clear piece of evidence to illustrate the moral decay of our culture is that we don’t seem to be able to recognize evil, even when it enters our house uninvited, naked, and wielding a knife.  And even if we are able to recognize the evil, we (as a culture) seemed to be stunned when it comes to dealing with it.

What happened to this family ought not to be used for political gain, but as a class of crimes and as instances of evil it ought to be decried loudly in a public forum especially by anyone who is solidly grounded in the moral clarity of what is good and what is evil.

Some may say that this girl will need counseling to help keep her life together, and I would argue that some degree of talk-therapy may be useful (especially if it is based on clear moral principles).  But what this girl really needs is for her father to stand unashamed of his actions and say unequivocally that this attacker was evil and that as her father he will do whatever it takes to protect her innocence.  Whatever it takes.  I am willing to cut the father some slack because he may be reeling from some intense emotions spawned by this awful event.  But I hope that he will come to his senses and make his daughter feel safe by telling her he would not hesitate to protect her using any means necessary.


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