Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Side Trip

We interrupt the Brenna family tour of Singapore to bring you "Ethan's emergency room adventure." Yesterday (my birthday, by the way), Ethan started complaining of stomach pain. At first, I thought it was just a ploy to get out of going to soccer practice, because it seemed fine when he was there. Afterwards though, he started complaining again and looking peaked. He refused any dinner (and it was Subway sandwiches - this kid can put away a 6" by himself!) and wanted to go to bed at 7.

At about 10 p.m., Ethan came wimpering out of his bedroom. We took his temperature, and he had a slight fever. Now, this is where my medical upbringing and Erik's collide. My dad worked in a hospital (read "great insurance") when I grew up, so we felt the freedom to treat anything with a trip to the ER. Erik's family was more along the lines of "if the towel can't hold any more blood, maybe it's time to take you in." So Erik was inclined to let Ethan go back to sleep and wait it out, while I was reaching for my keys. I won, so my mom came with me to a close children's hospital emergency room.

We had to wait about an hour to see a doctor. She determined that he was simply quite constipated, which is what we thought (though the fever threw us off, especially as it had risen by the time we got there). So our boy got to experience his first, and hopefully last, enema. It went to work within a minute. Ethan and I were in hysterics in the bathroom because he kept trying to see what was coming out and every time he bent over, the toilet automatically flushed and made him jump about 3 feet.

With a pain free boy, we tried to leave by following some people through a door to the lifts. If we had used our powers of observation, we might have noticed the "staff only" sign on the door. We got to the basement car park and were unable to exit any of the doors. We went up and down several times, looking for alternative exits or signs of life, but found neither. We finally got someone's attention through the original door we entered, and he went in search of a staff. Meanwhile, a nurse came up the elevator. "We're trapped!" we cried to her, and she laughed and let us out. So that was a good way to spend 20 minutes at midnight when we were already beat.

Today we're pushing the fiber on Ethan. He's never had this problem before, but I'll admit we haven't been eating very well since we've been out and about every day with the family. We're just thankful it was nothing serious.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Living like tourists

Two days ago my whole family (meaning my parents, my older sister, and younger brother) all made the arduous trip to Singapore to visit us for the first time. Ethan is so excited to have his uncle here that he is bouncing off all the walls. We've set up a special blog for people to follow our adventures. Now that I think about it, we really could have just posted everything here, but this creates a good sense of solidarity and family bonding. You can read about the Brenna adventures here at the blog.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Specialized Skills

I was at a friend's house today who is a chiropractor by trade, though she isn't practicing right now due to the presence of two small people in her house. I did something screwy to my neck last week, so I asked her if she'd take a look at it. She found a little chiropractic tool and had me lie down on her son's foam interlocking alphabet squares (my chiropractor in the States doesn't have those) where she quickly fixed my problem. As she did this, I mentioned to her that, unlike her, I have no specialized skills like she does. It amazes me that she can touch my neck in various places and determine exactly what's wrong. I have a degree in communication, which means I know how to communicate well, though I don't always practice those skills. My communication abilities rarely wow anyone, to my knowledge. At any rate, they aren't skills others don't naturally possess to some degree. Mine might just be considered more fine tuned.

On the way home I thought, "No, wait, I can develop film! That's my specialized skill!" I used to work in a one hour photo studio developing pictures. I was elated by this thought until I remembered that since then, digital photos have come into being and I am not trained in developing those. Many moons ago, I even knew how to develop film and photos in a dark room, but I think I've forgotten all that by now. I also know how to pantomime, but that's a skill of mine that is generally mocked, rather than praised.

So here I am, feeling fairly unskilled, but that's ok. You don't need to comment on any skills you think I do have. This isn't a cry for validation, just an honest proclamation of myself.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Any suggestions?

Erik and I, quite by accident, watched National Treasure last night. Ok, it wasn't an accident that we watched it like, "Oops, how did that DVD get in there? Oh, well, guess we're stuck now." I mean that it coincided well with the celebration of American independence. So we thought, "We should watch some other patriotic feel good movie." But all the movies we could conjure - Glory, The Patriot, Born on the 4th of July - aren't exactly what you'd classify as "feel good." So does anyone have any suggestions for a movie involving American history that doesn't make you depressed? Are we asking too much?

Speaking of which, there's a quiz on msnbc right now about American citizenship. Erik and I took it. I am proud to say that I scored 95%. Erik squeaked in with 85%. I guessed better than he did. Take it - see how you do.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Story time

Our bedtime routine these days involves a wonderful little book called The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. If you are a parent of young children, or even an adult with a need for a good book, I have to recommend it. It is a sweet story of how a little china rabbit learns how to love others as he is lost time and again over the course of many years. My son wasn't too excited about it at first, but now each night it's "Let's find out what happens to Edward!"

Also on our top picks for kid books these days (because I'm convinced that you're dying to know) are Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Magic Tree House series (Ethan's determined to have every one, and will, thanks to his Nonna), and the Froggy books.

I'm re-reading a book called Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow, which is really more about contentment than anxiety. I enjoy reading history, and I admit that history which involves tragedy is quite fascinating to me. While I was in the States, I read Hungry Ghosts (about the famine in China following the Great Leap Forward) and last week I finished Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, which delves into Mormon Fundamentalism. What's on your shelf these days?

Celebrating American Style

For our first time celebrating the 4th of July in Singapore, we joined several other families at what I think was the naval base here. All I know is that we parked by some really cool "black and whites" (old, colonial style houses famous in Singapore) and walked to a field filled with what you'd expect - a big stage with someone singing American songs loud and not too well, vendors selling over-priced food guaranteed to kill you in the long run, and various blown up kids' jumping apparatus. Ah, America. Sorry to say, Ethan had messed something up on our camera, so I don't have any pictures besides the ones I took on my cell phone (not good enough to show, even if I could transfer them to my computer). You'll just have to imagine the fun.

Erik was still away on business, so I manned the lines for corndogs and fries myself, then waited with the kids in line for the blown up slide. They did it twice, and Ethan managed to frighten and awe most of the onlookers by rolling down the slide instead of sliding. He made it down in about 1.27 seconds. That's my boy!

Meanwhile, our friends had braved the line for the bungee jump, the kind where you start on the trampoline and they hold you down while the ropes tighten then let you go. Ethan debated for awhile before deciding he too wanted to go. It was then that we entered The Long Line. I told him it might take up to an hour before he got on the ride, but he was still determined to go. There comes a point in a line like that, say after the first 15 minutes, where you know that you have committed too much of your life to this activity and you must follow through. When we had moved 5 feet of the 20 foot line in 1/2 hour, I knew we were in for it. We got to where there were 8 kids in front of Ethan (three could jump at a time) and the man running the ride informed us they were shutting down until after the fireworks. At that time, it was 7:30. Fireworks were planned for 8. "So do we have to stand here for an hour?" I asked, trying hard to breathe spiritually.
"Ah, sorry. Yeah, must come back. No light now - cannot jump. Not safe." Murmuring began amidst the crowd. What? Why? With mounting tension, every ounce of American in us came out - we demand an explanation! We demand compensation for this lost hour of our lives! You are infringing on our right to the pursuit of happiness! Quick! Give us something for free!!
Instead, we got tokens, with numbers that indicated our place in line. When I broke the news to Ethan, he lost it for a moment, then resigned himself to his fate. We joined our friends again for those lighted rings kids like at this holiday, as well as for sparklers. The fireworks were short but good. Since I'd told Ethan the story behind The Star Spangled Banner, he asked, "Was it this loud all night for the man who wrote the song? Was it the same sounds?" I thought, "Wow, you were listening to me."

When they were done, we ran back to the bungee jump. After another 15 minutes of waiting for the lights to come on, the jumping resumed. Just as Ethan got strapped in, I realized I didn't have a camera, so there is no photographic evidence of his joy.

So, with lessons learned and friends enjoyed, a dirt and sweat covered crowd hiked back (is it 10 degrees warmer than when we came? we wondered) to our cars and headed home. Happy 4th - here's hoping yours is just as fun or more.