The First Half of February

I guess things are beginning to improve around here. In no particular order:

Stephen is officially done with the DOC Band. His head shape is more normal than it once was; in other words, it is now longer than it is wide (when we started with the Band, it was wider than it was long). We're satisfied with the treatment and won't be getting another round. Not that we could afford it, even if we wanted to.

As you might remember, that chapter of Stephen's life started in October. Since then, we've made trips to San Diego every two weeks in order to get his head looked at and his Band adjusted. We won't miss taking these trips, as they were always early on weekday mornings when south-bound traffic on the I-15 was at its height.

On Friday of last week, we rose from our cozy bed and took our last drive to Cranial Technologies. As if to spite us, the traffic was downright light; we managed to get there ten minutes early (which is unheard of with us). Gods only know why, since we weren't leaving any earlier or later than we had usually been doing. Stephen was awake for the whole trip, and was as chipper as can be.

The exit procedure for the program includes a series of photographs from all angles, followed by another casting of the child's head. The original casting was such fun (that's me being sarcastic, by the way) that we fully anticipated a drop-down, drag-out fight with the boy over it.

He proved us wrong. While he fussed a bit in the beginning, and got the volume up near the middle (as the rear of the cast was being applied), we managed to rescue him with a piece of medical equipment which is as versatile as it is tasty: a "Dum-Dum" lollypop.

Stephen, never having sampled the delight of hard fruit-flavored candy on a stick, single-mindedly gnawed and slurped away at the sucker while the final touches were put on the cast. By the time we were done, his head was covered in white smears of dry plaster and blue smears of slimy, tart, sugary candy.

As a parting gift, they allowed us to keep his original head cast, the one that documents his head when he entered the program back in October. If nothing, it's an interesting conversation piece that we can break out when friends and relatives drop by.

Let's see. What else?

Money has been tight lately, given that I haven't had a full paycheck since I left my job at the tooth factory back in January. That changed on Friday, as I got my first complete paycheck at my new job. The pay increase is nice, even when you consider all the additional expenses: the higher cost of medical insurance and my 401k contribution. With luck, the days of scraping by are behind us...for a while, anyway. I plan to take my wife out to eat for her (belated) birthday, considering we didn't have the money for it on the 13th.

There's also the matter of taxes. Last year was the first year we got any kind of money back on our taxes since we'd been married. The '04 refund was due, in large part, to the fact that my wife wasn't working. In the prior years, due to the infamous "marriage penalty," we'd owed as much as $900 in back taxes. Not being made of money, this was always a very sore time of the year for us.

This year, thanks to the presence of a child under our roof, we're going to be getting a slew of cash back from the government. It should just about pay off our credit cards, which is what I intend to do with it. Having those things paid off will be a great big load off of my mind. It's not like we live off of them, but between my laptop and last year's convention schedule, we managed to rack up a couple of largish balances.

Oh, and dare I mention: our cats are fleabags. I have no idea why the fleas are so voracious this early in the the year, nor do I understand why they continue to bleed our pets dry despite regular treatments of Advantage. I need to get some more of the fleabane so that we can keep the little vampires at bay. Of course, treating the cats means that us humans are going to have dying parasites attacking us until they've all shuffled off this mortal coil and gone up to flea heaven.

So, that's about all for now. Sorry to have kept everyone in suspense, but it's been pretty hectic. The child is stirring his crib, and I must arise to rescue him. He's probably wet and hungry and wanting to watch Little Einsteins. Nonetheless, I will leave you with this photograph of him, taken this past week, lounging around watching the infamous (and, some say, insidious) Teletubbies.


A Very Special Day

Today is February 13th. Aside from being the day before Valentine's Day, the thirteenth of February has another (and much more important) distinction: it is my wife's birthday.

She and I met in the summer of 1992. We started our relationship simply enough, by chatting online through an interface provided by the WWIV BBS software that I was running. Back then, you could only have one caller online at a time, and dial-up connections were the rule, rather than the exception. It wasn't like the globe-spanning internet that we have today, but somehow we managed to find each other and connect amidst the plethora of local BBS'.

In retrospect, it seems like we chatted for months on an almost-nightly basis. Realistically, though, I know that it was only a short time - perhaps a month, at most - before we hooked up in "realspace" at the San Diego Comic Convention volunteer picnic. We sat together at a boat pond and talked in person for the first time, and I guess we both left the meeting different people than we had been before.

It's been nearly fourteen years since those days. In that time, we've continued to stay together. We've moved out of our parents' homes and into a place of our own, we've exchanged vows and pledged our love to one another, and we've brought a wonderful little man into the world. For better or for worse, we've changed one another in ways that we can hardly imagine, unless we peer back through the mists of time at the teenagers we both were back in 1992.

Each year, I am presented with reminders of the past that we have shared with one another, and how those years would have been so very different if we hadn't met. Birthdays, amidst annual holidays and special anniversaries, are always a reminder.

The day that we first met, when we sat on the shore of that little boat pond in San Diego, I knew in my heart that something special was going to come out of our lives together. I wasn't planning ahead, nor would I have believed you if you'd told me that she and I would still be together in another fourteen years. Yet here we are in 2006, a family, and it seems like only yesterday that I saw her walking towards me, the smile on her face saying, "I know who you are," but being too shy to stop and say hello.

So we're together, and I hope we stay that way forever. My life would be far emptier if my wife were not a part of it. I can only repay her in kind for the constant support and understanding that she shows to me, and I can only marvel at the endless patience that she shows for both my son and I.

I love you, Amy. Happy Birthday.