Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Never Has there Been So Much Blood

Sky greeted me by opening the garage and blubbering incoherently. Something about not meaning to do it.

One of the skills I've perfected over the last eight years of being an out-of-the-house mom is that I can quickly recognize and analyze the various clues immediately available to me. Within seconds of stepping into the door, I know where everyone is, and I have a pretty good sense of what went down while I was gone. Often, Ren doesn't want to relive his hours alone with all three kids, so I piece together what I can and only ask him when I need to fill in the blanks.

On this day, though, I knew something was up. My first clue(s), actually, were the multiple garbled phone calls I got during the 10-minute drive from my office to home. When I called to say I was on my way, all was well. Minutes later, I receive the first of several calls that were either missed or dropped. By the time Ren and I actually talked, I was making the turn onto our street. I couldn't make out what he was saying, so I said, "I'll be there in two," and hung up. I should note here that sometimes I get what seem like frantic phone calls but that turn out to be reminders to return a library book or to pick up a DVD on the way home. So, I wasn't terribly worried.

But, then, Sky met me crying. And apologizing. It was the combination of the two that got my antennae up.

"Where are they?" I asked.

"Downstairs," he squeaked out before running to hide somewhere.

When I got downstairs, Ren was in the bathroom with Pink P, and Stow was trying to take over the world while no one was watching. Ren, who is normally unflappable, was thoroughly flapped.

"Call 911," he said.

For the record, these might be the last words I want to hear when I step into the door after a long week of work. Especially from Ren. He's the calm one. When Pink P's lips swelled after her first (and only) taste of peanut butter, I had no clue what to do. None. My recently immigrated husband, who also happened to be in the shower at the time, immediately said, "Benadryl." Oh, right. Benadryl. And, when Stow plummeted head first off the bed to the wood floor below, I picked him up, ran downstairs, and handed him to Ren. If there was blood, I needed Ren to deal with it (possible neck injury be damned). **

I'm not great under pressure, particularly when bodily injury is involved.

So, if Ren tells me to call 911, I'm going to call 911. By this time, I had gathered enough of a picture of what happened, I could explain it to the poor 911 operator: Pink was swinging a real-life, authentic stethoscope all ninja nunchuck-style.* Sky, logically, tried to defend himself. Unfortunately, he chose an over-inflated exercise ball to do so, thereby managing to create the freak accident of the century.

Stethoscope + exercise ball = stethoscope-chest-piece-shaped divot in the back of the head

And, oh the blood. Ren, who has seen everything, had never seen anything like this. Blood spurted straight up and out of Pink's head despite the fact she was head down and he was applying pressure. So much blood that it soaked her long hair, her shirt, and his. Miraculously (no seriously, if this isn't a miracle, I don't know what is), she did not get one drop, not a single drop, of blood on our new carpet despite the fact she walked from the play room away from the bathroom to the TV room to find her dad, and then back through the play room into the bathroom. Even if you don't buy into anything else I've ever said about faith and belief on this blog, surely you can agree that this is some kind of early Christmas miracle.

Of course, at the exact moment that the ambulance finally arrived, the bleeding stopped. Pink P is the only of my children to have ever ridden in an ambulance, and she 's done it twice. Both times, it turned out to be completely and utterly unnecessary.*** The EMTs insisted we have her checked, and since we'd called them, I could hardly refuse. So, we spent that beautiful August evening sitting in the ER waiting to be told that she was fine.

You guys can make your own decision about this, but I think the best part came when we were discharged. Without a way home, we had to wait for Ren and the boys to come get us. Pink, who looked perfectly fine from the front, looked quite zombie-esque from the back. Her hair was tangled and matted with congealed blood, and the back of her cute pink Hello Kitty shirt was completely brownish-red.**** She couldn't see it, though, so she thought nothing of flitting and dancing around the waiting room, smiling, singing, and saying hello to everyone she met. Did I mention she smelled like hours-old decomposing blood? The looks she got were priceless. But her obliviousness was the icing on the cake.


*For the record, ninja didn't use nunchucks. Meh, whatever. It's not like this is a cross-cultural blog aimed at increasing understanding and eliminating useless stereotypes or anything.

** I'm not proud I did this. And, there was no blood, by the way.

*** The other time she rode in an ambulance, she was 1 and managed to make such forceful contact with her head to the pavement that we knew she needed to be checked out. At the time, we lived in Tokyo but were far from our neighborhood. So, we tried to call to find out where the nearest hospital was and ended up with an ambulance. It turned out, we had made that call from a phone booth directly across the street from the hospital where Pink P was taken (after a five-block drive along one-way streets).

**** You know, I was going to try to include pictures to illustrate, but I think whatever mental image you come up with will do this story way more justice than anything I could produce.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Aaaand, We Have a Winner

Thanks to everyone who visited Big Sissy's Etsy shop and offered feedback. After an exceedingly high-tech selection process (i.e. Sissy put the names in a hat and picked one), we have a winner.


Come on down. You're the next contestant the proud new owner of an original watercolor by the only person who can say she survived childhood with me as her mom. Send your address to me at momintwocultures@gmail.com to collect your prize.

In case the rest of you are wondering, Stacy liked this picture best:

I guess I can't blame her. It is pretty awesome. Me? Well, I'm still waiting for my hand-painted original birthday present. I hear it's pretty cool.

And, oh yeah, if you haven't checked it out already, please go to Big Sissy's Etsy shop Kokoro Watercolor. Seriously, don't make me have to tell you again!


Apparently, I have trouble distinguishing between "Leaves" and "Feathers." Stacy chose this picture:

...which means, lucky for the rest of you, the other one's still available!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Parable of the Dishwasher (and Other Meaningless Metaphors)

We have been married for almost fourteen years, and for nearly all of those years, not to mention all the years before we got married, Ren has refused to use a dishwasher. In Japan, of course, this isn't such a big deal since most people don't have dishwashers and when they do they look strikingly similar to microwaves, or maybe even bread boxes.

We never had one of these contraptions because they are too small, take up too much counter space, and cost more than I like to spend on something so inefficient. Plus, they are not terribly environmentally friendly.

So, it made perfect sense that we never used a dish washer when we lived in Japan. But then we moved to the US and the dishwasher wars began in earnest. No matter how persuasively I argued, Ren remained convinced that using a dishwasher was too expensive and didn't really sanitize plates any better than washing them by hand. After a couple of years of meaningless debate, I finally resigned myself to the nightly duty of washing/helping to wash the dishes while our dishwasher sat full of dried goods and the pots and pans we never used. In case you're wondering, the standard dishwasher provides generous storage space and can even double as a mini pantry should you ever find yourself in need.

Do you know the key to success in an international marriage: it's being willing to wash dishes by hand even when you have a perfectly good dishwasher sitting right in front of you. For the better part of ten years, I hand washed dishes as the underutilized and underperforming dishwasher sat mocking me from across the various American kitchens we've had.

And then, one day, all these many years later, Ren changed his mind.

After this last move, he started using the dishwasher. I didn't ask him to. He just did. And, he saw value in it, so he kept using it. But, do you know what? Not once did I say "I told you so." Not once did he make it seem like he was caving in or pandering to my needs. He just wanted to try something new, and I knew enough to let him do it without adding my two cents.

Because, here's the other thing about international marriage--well, any marriage, really--people grow. People change, and every once in a while, they try something new. Sometimes all you have to do is be patient.*****

OH, AND UPDATE: The giveaway ends tomorrow, Friday, September 13th at 5 p.m. ET, so if you haven't voted, now's the time. Click here for details.

*****Disclaimer: And sometimes they don't. But, you should know not to take marriage or child rearing advice from me. Seriously, you've been reading this blog, right?

Image from: http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/yen-for-living/tag/home-appliances/

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The First and Probably Only Ever MITC Giveaway Sweepstakes Thingamabob

Sooo, Big Sissy has been busy trying to set up her very own Etsy. Of course, we're thrilled for her though we wish she spent a little more of her free time driving to see us instead of painting. Since Big Sissy is new to this whole online self-publicity thing, and since she's never really shown her art to the public, she's feeling a bit self-conscious and nervous about all of this. Let's help her out by flooding her Etsy page with visitors. You can find her at Kokoro Watercolor.

So, go! Go and give her some encouragement. Become her follower. Ask your friends to check out her stuff. Buy things. And then, after you've looked at her stuff, come back here and tell me in the comments section which watercolor you liked the best and why you think you need it in your life. The giveaway part comes when I put your name in a hat and then Big Sissy chooses a winner at random. The winner gets....drum roll please...Yes, that's right. The winner gets a free watercolor painting of his/her choosing.

Is this too convoluted? Probably. This is why I stink at blogging and should probably never have another giveaway.  Of course, I stink at a lot of things, but that's never stopped me before! So, see you in the comments section.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Score Card

Since moving a month ago, I have managed to do the following:
  • get the kids registered for school
  • find the best place to buy gluten-free food
  • put up window treatments
  • oversee the completion of a basement remodel
  • get Stow signed up for Early Intervention
  • figure out the trash schedule
  • unpack my books
  • make a new, heavier weighted vest
  • You may remember the old vest: not bad for a tricked-out backyard safari vest from Wal-mart. The black part is an adjustable ankle weight sewed to the outside of the vest for added weight and balance. This vest certainly did the trick for a couple of years, but it's oh so second grade.

    Now that Sky's in third grade, he's too cool (actually, too self-conscious) for all that kid stuff.  Plus, the old vest was too small and not heavy enough.

    So this is a Gander Mountain youth tackle vest (being worn by an extremely unwilling model) with the weights from an adjustable ankle weight in all of the pockets. The best part? Ren figured out how the sew the ankle weight pouch into the back of the vest, so you can't see it. 
  • find another spine specialist who wants to do yet another spine surgery on Ren
  • do approximately 60 loads of laundry
  • take one child to the ER due to a head injury (Q: What do you get when a kindergartner wields a real-life stethoscope like nunchucks? A: Lots and lots of blood--think Dan Akroyd's Julia Childs skit from SNL.)
  • explain the whole Santa thing to Sky who promised not to tell but seems incapable of keeping such fascinating news to himself
(those last two happened in the same 24-hour period, making that a particularly epic day)

I have not managed to do any of the following:
  • find a pediatrician
  • figure out therapies for Sky
  • find a gymnastics class, swim class, dance class or piano teacher
  • figure out our new health insurance
  • get through a single night without being awakened by one or more of my children
  • get the light in our bedroom to work with any consistency
  • teach Sky how to mow the lawn effectively
    Top graphic: what Sky's mowing looked like before I figured out he was just connecting the dots, going from one giant weed to another. Bottom graphic: what it looked like after I told him to overlap his wheel tracks. Who knew a kid with such great spatial reasoning could be so bad at pushing a mower?
  • kick my nacho cheese habit
  • workout
  • post consistently to my blog