Saturday, July 31, 2010

Back Home Again... The Trip

Yes, we're home... and I'd like to celebrate my 3 month-old's first transatlantic flight.  
Do you ever get to the point that you want to throw yourself on the ground and wallow, thrashing your arms and legs and screaming that "it's all too much?"  Well, that's me at about the 10 hour mark on the 13 hours it takes to fly from Amman to Chicago.  And it's not so much the flight itself as it is the knowing that there's still another 8-10 hours more to go.  That's right, folks... it takes us 24 hours of straight travel to get home.  How's that?  Your 45 minute commute sounding like a breeze?  Yeah, thought so.
The beauty of being an adult is that you have inherent social filters built in that keep you from all that thrashing about.  A 3 mo-old does not.  Which goes a long way to proving my point that my kid's better than the average when I tell you that Cooper did his own personal 24 hour Le Mans and did it in style.  There was no prolonged screaming during cabin pressurization.  Did I have to walk the aisles with him to keep him occupied? Well, sure, just like at home.  But, there was no aisle thrashing at the 8, 10 or 12 hour mark (although his mom did have to pull his dad up outta the drink cart's path).  Overall, Cooper performed beautifully and did it much sooner than we expected him to have to do so.
We're trying to note all the things that are firsts on this trip.  His first passport, first baggage claim, first time on American soil (which, for some reason, we always have to say to him in accent: "Aaah-mir-eee-kkah!").
His first airport food court nap... the first of many to come.

I'm so proud of him.
All our gear made it safely... for those who know RJ has upped their baggage fees but when you travel with a kid you get an extra bag, even without the full-fare seat.  When we finally dragged our weary tootsies into Lambert, St. Louis there was a lovely greeting party waiting... home, no matter where, is sweet.

Back Home Again... Why?

If you're following the Family Blog or watching on FB, you know we're back in the US.  A couple of weeks ago, Dad started bleeding again.  The doctor said there are no further surgeries or treatments to be done, so we are now in the midst of a waiting game.  It was a very difficult decision, but after losing Suzi's dad unexpectedly in October, we didn't want to gamble on the chance to be with my dad during this stage of his life.  My family has never asked us specifically to come home for any reason, but this time they did and we agreed.
Thankfully, the bleeding in Dad's abdomen sealed itself off, however the result is that he is very weak.  He has managed to preach during one of the Sunday services, but it really saps his strength.  This is the weirdness of cancer.  It proceeds at its own pace.  Rapidly, slowly, it works its way through your system and the final path is only truly known after the fact.  While the medical field has pulled out of this fray, we're still very much in the midst.  We've not given up our faith in God's omnipotence but we're also trusting in His Grace to move with us in whatever His ultimate decision will be.
So, what's next for us?  Cooper & Suzi packed up the majority of their things.  They'll be in the States for the rest of the year.  Lord willing, I will return to Jordan sometime in the next 90 days to finish out our time there.  In the meantime, we're simply on the sidelines watching as my Dad plays the game of his life.  And we cheer every move.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Li'l BBQ Action

I have a great Weber gas grill in the States that gets an awful lot of use whenever I'm nearby.  We even had one way back in Prague.  When we first came to Amman in 2008, I built a cool, yet rudimentary, briquette 'cue, but I just don't have the patience for the charcoal.  I know...It's better than gas, blah, blah... but you know me... it's always the project that gets my attention.
When we moved to 3rd Circle, the draw of an open courtyard with no grill was too much.  I cobbled together a few pieces of here-and-there and, viola', a grill space appeared.  Now, you ask, "Scott, why not get some monster grill measured in square FEET of real estate instead of INCHES?"  Remember those import fees?  Yeah, they apply to grills, too.  Pricey.
So, with my BBQ partner nearby for some OJT... I'm headed out from some meat on the barbie.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Family Shot

And, a little background on our first family photo shoot.  Since Cooper's found his feet, it's very concerning to him when they're covered up.  I mean, how are you supposed to see them if there're shoes in the way?  C'mon!
The first few shots we couldn't get his focus off the shoes and onto the camera... and this from a kid who's entranced with the shutter click.  Hence the lack of shoes for the final shot... gotta take away the model's distractions so they can focus on being in the frame.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

3 Month Mark

On Thursday, Cooper will be three months old.  That means we've kept him alive for 90 days.
(Correction: Suzi has done all the nourishing; I just provided the Y chromosome & did some laundry.  Who knew these kids were so messy?) The timeframe's impressive when you consider that up to now our track record for living organisms included:
A) Moses, the beta that got flushed
B) Two cats- both given away
C) An ivy whose whereabouts are currently unknown, but was last seen boarding a bus to Albuquerque grumbling about finding more water out West than in its current environs.
So, with that 90 Day Benchmark accomplished we required some celebration and celebration calls for some Donuts Factory.  See, I've quickly realized that until the age of consent is reached, a kid's party is all about the parents.  Yep.  Until they squeal for Chuck E. Cheese, we're fulfilling our own dreams and today that meant a half dozen to go, please.  Cooper will get a chance to enjoy the fruits of our carry-out... just in a different format.
Suzi's talked about how the culture here is SO kid crazy.  We can't walk into any store without someone grabbing at the boy.  It's like a Bollywood interlude... people snapping their fingers and clapping.  I promise one day there's gonna be an orchestra swing out from behind a palm grove with Barry Manilow at the helm and blast into "At the Coopa, Coopa Cabana."
So, it was no surprise when we arrived at the Abdoun Donuts Factory and the Donut Dudes wanted to hold my baby.  Yes, grown men... reached out and took him behind the counter and then began snapping pictures with him.

But don't think that got us any freebie fritters or twists... nope, all that lovin's for free.  And we're happy to oblige.  He's such a cute kid,it's an offer we just couldn't resist.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spidey Returns

I didn't know what to expect.  The day was cool, the sky cast over with clouds predicting rain but giving up no secrets.  I glanced right, dodging cabs.  I jogged left through the dumpsters of memories faded and bread uneaten.
The mask grasped at my pre-ego id through a window surrounded by little doggies and maternity chocolates.  It wasn't supposed to be there. A glint of gold in this darkness.  A spot of white in the mud of the day.  It was the blue hue of hero.  The eyelets of responsibility.  Was it brought across the waves by happenstance, this onesie of power?  Or did the importer know its importance, sense the longing of the little boy trapped in the body of a newborn's dad?  
It must be his, I panted aloud.  Left alone, it may fall into hands of evil... or at least those careless enough to feed without a bib.  The price, ridiculous, seemed paltry in light of the memory it soothed.  There would be no satisfaction in plastic wrap held aloft.  It required freedom from it's aftermarket packaging; set loose to make another day glow in the eyes of forever imagination.
Will he wear it and feel the tingle of heights sought by the wall crawler himself?  Or will it be as the dreams of a father for his son, destined for distraction as his offspring searches out new mysteries and discovers the previous unknown?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Great Mac App

This is for Apple users... you PC people can keep mindlessly surfing.  Or wait for your Blue Screen of Death to pop again.  Or whatever you PC people do.  Make spreadsheets or something.

(My.  Quite a bit of vitriol there on the PC people... sorry about that.)

I'm always switching audio output from my Mac to different components.  Sometimes I'm using my Plantronics 995H wireless.  Sometimes wired headphones.  And then if I'm in a sharing mood, I'll kick it over to the internals.
Getting thru System Prefs to make that change requires a crazy, multi-step process and I'm never happy as I'm trying to get it done.
Enter Rogue Amoeba and their cute li'l freebie app called Sound Source.  It pops up next your other system tools at the top of the screen and gives you fingertip access to input/output and a link to open Sound Pref.

Love it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Your Name

I ran across this site quite by accident, but isn't that the beauty of surfing the web?  The good folks at the Social Security Administration have put your tax dollars to work and created a way cool database of names over the past 100 years.
Wanna know where you end up in the listing of your birth decade?  They've got it.  And then, for all us number crunchers, there's all kinds of ways to parse that info.  For instance, "Cullen" jumped in rank from 782 in 2008 to 485 in 2009... and "Maliyah" went from 638 to 296. Did you know Ryan is the top name for babies born in 2009 in Massachusetts? 
And the top names for twin girls? Isabella & Sophia 
Boys? Jacob & Joshua
Fun stuff for a slow day...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cooper's Progress Report

So, Cooper's headed toward the 3 month mark, and you should know that we've produced a very cute kid.  It's not that we're biased.  Really.  Nearly 200 Arabic English students at an embassy sponsored July 4th event spontaneously burst into applause when their center's director brought him in front of the audience.  And 50% of post office employees ask about him every time I pay my utility bills (to be fair, there's only two ladies behind the desk & only one speaks English, but the stat's still legit!).
So, here's a few updates on our boy's life...
Cooper found his feet this week while I was playing with him.  There was this beat of inactivity and then this look of "Um... what else are you guys hiding from me?"  He has been studying them off and on the rest of the week
He laughed out loud – this really deep laugh – this morning when Suzi was tickling him.
Cooper's just desperate to sit up.  Every time you put him in his little seat (which reclines a bit), he spends a good deal of the time trying to lift himself up.  He’s actually pretty good at getting his shoulders off the ground.
He had his doctor’s check up a few days ago and got another vaccination.  The doctor said he looked great and everything was fine.  We’ll go back again toward the end of July.
On Saturday, he had an ultrasound of his hips to check for hip dysplasia.  Apparently, this is standard procedure for all babies here now, so we agreed to have it done.  Suzi said he was so good while they did the procedure.  He had to lay on one side while they scanned him and then Suzi flipped him over and they did the other side.  He didn’t make a peep and even smiled when Suzi got down at his level on the table.  The technicians did have a hard time keeping his legs in one place because he's constantly pedaling his legs!  Thankfully, everything looked normal.
Cooper's still having a wretched time going to sleep in the evenings.  We’re continuing to work with him to see what works best for him.  Poor little guy…there’s usually a lot of crying around here in the evenings.  Seriously, who wants to go to bed when there’s still so much to see and do?