Friday, December 31, 2010


“Auld Lang Syne” means something like “Days Gone By.” It’s certainly an appropriate phrase for a New Year’s song and also apt for Blaise’s birthday.

I think about Blaise being a short-gut kid a lot – I worry about her weight, I fret when she gets sick, I see the scars on her belly every day. Still, two years later, it’s thankfully a very different set of concerns than it was on New Year’s Eve 2008. It’s hard to return to the events of that night (and the following morning) but I also find it hard not to as her birthday approaches.

Moving to a new city makes it a little different: There are places in Boston and Cambridge that have a weight associated with them that no place here does (and that I hope no place here acquires). Still, there are little things…when Blaise was admitted to the hospital in Fargo for IV fluids overnight, carolers came and sang to her in her room and a nurse brought her a donated toy as a present. Even though we were heading home in a few hours, both Erin and I found both of these things remarkably tough to deal with. The nice things people did for us always had a way of getting to us the most. I could usually deal with singing to Blaise during bag changes and other not-fun things, but when some friends came by to give us an envelope full of donations they’d collected for us, I was a total wreck afterwards. Having people at Sanford do these things for us didn’t have quite the same impact, but echoes of things that happened before can take you back.

Letting myself remember B’s first New Year’s Day can be difficult, but today I find that it also makes it easy for me to see and appreciate the accumulation of happy developments over two years. When Blaise was born, I was struck later by just how rapidly our lives changed profoundly – this is always true with a new child, I suppose, but the maelstrom of activity surrounding Blaise’s birth meant that hour-by-hour our lives looked completely different. Today, even following a move to North Dakota, the tempo of our lives is so much steadier. There aren’t numbers that we hang our hopes on every day. The changes we talk about after she’s in bed are things like the books she likes, the phrases she comes up with, and the things that she thinks are funny.

There are other indicators of how far B’s come: Around this time last year, rice mum-mums were the main food of choice because they barely had any ingredients…this year, we know Blaise would rather eat Saag Paneer than pretty much anything else. Walking wasn’t on the horizon for another few months on New Year's Eve 2009…this year, Blaise does a vigorous happy dance in place before she tears off to chase after me, Erin, or her favorite stuffed friends. As for language, Blaise chatters away to us all day about all kinds of interesting and funny stuff she sees going on. These things sometimes make it difficult to believe that Blaise’s life began the way it did, but never so difficult to believe that we forget.

This all means that this New Year’s Eve, I still find myself thinking about days gone by and remembering how tough they were. But, I’m also thinking about days to come and how much fun they’ll be.

I’m going to close by giving you all a version of the same pitch we gave you last year: Blaise’s first birthday present was donated blood. Anybody can save a life. Please give blood if you can.

A happy and safe new year to all of you, and as always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We didn't do much in our house, but we had lots of fun anyway. Here's Blaise with her favorite Christmas present. It took us 6 hours to convince her to open another one (to be fair, about 90 minutes of that was a nap).

Yes, that is her doll in the salad. We try not to ask too many questions. So we chopped a lot of wooden veggies and then we ate some barbecue. Blaise still isn't interested in meat, but she ate plenty of Jack's Stack beans. (For the uninitiated: Jack's Stack beans are actually the best in the world. Maybe better.)

Blaise still has about 6 unopened presents under the tree. She got so excited about everything she opened that we had to play with it right away. She also seems a bit concerned that opening all the presents will make the Christmas tree go away. She loves the Christmas tree.

We know you crave pictures. So here you go:

Yeah, so she got a little, um, creative with the Mr. Potato Head. We think she got that you are supposed to stick the pieces on, but not that it's supposed to be person-like. Between this and the Dolly Salad, it was kind of a surreal day for Blaise's toys.

We wish you all a happy, healthy Christmas and a relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas in Fargo

I said that the next post would be from the Dakota Territory and I meant it! We dodged a pretty nasty snowstorm on the flight in and made it to Fargo on the 11th. We stayed a few days at a hotel and moved into our house with the bare minimum of stuff that our suitcases (and the local Walmart) could supply us with. The moving truck showed up this past Saturday and in the meantime we managed to buy a car (a 2011 Subaru Legacy that needs a name), buy a sofa (a little red number that also needs a name), and unpack most of the non-book boxes.

So, now that the dust has settled, how are we doing? Overall, pretty well - those of you who see us on Facebook already know that we got nailed with a bad stomach bug last week, though. The bad news about that was that we ended up with our first hospital admission in Fargo so that B could get some replacement IV fluids overnight after a very bad day of gut trouble. The good news is that she's been having a great time the last few days and seems to be very close to back to normal (see evidence below).

The other good news is that visiting the hospital gave us a chance to suss out the pediatric floor and our new pediatrician in the context of a fairly mild short-gut moment. I felt so much better hearing that our nurses and our pediatrician have treated short-gut kids before and were very knowledgeable about what Blaise's numbers and history meant. I'd rather stay out of the hospital altogether, but I think these folks can take good care of her.

Besides that extremely not-fun stuff, we've managed to do some fun things, too. We have a Christmas tree that Blaise is VERY excited about, and a pile of presents under it that she is actually less excited about.

The empty house was fun to run around in, but the reunion with all of her stuffed animals and books was a very happy one (I think she may have actually thought that some of those things may have been gone).

Christmas also means that one gets to wear funny hats.

All in all, it's been a good first week or so in Fargo. We got here, our stuff got here, the moving crew on this side was a riot (for any "Newhart" fans, we somehow got both Darryl and Darryl, but not Larry), and the Fargo Public Library has a great children's room. Grandpa Tom paid Blaise a very fun and very helpful visit that has left her with the lingering desire to see pictures of his dog Buddy at all hours of the day. Aside from having been sick, we're all enjoying settling in, though Blaise clearly has been thinking about some of her old friends: we've been hearing a lot about going to visit Aunt Kate and Uncle Andrew and she's spent some time looking at pictures of old friends like Siri, Leo, and her buds from day-care. Still, even if she's missing people a bit, she's also been having a blast seeing all the snow and sticking Christmas decorations all over the house. We've been reading about how "Da Gunch" stole Christmas, spotting "Kissmass Tees!" everywhere and singing Frosty the Snowman over and over and over.

Finally, for those of you who are going to ask: It is indeed wicked cold up here and everyone keeps telling us that it only gets much MUCH worse. Strangely enough, I kinda like it...nothing like the threat of mild frostbite to keep you on your toes (given that you can still feel them). Seriously though, it's just winter up here - nothing too bad, just a little more snow and chill than usual for Boston. I'm sure it's going to get more intense, but for now we're all looking to buy us some sleds.

Friday, December 10, 2010

So Long

We’re really leaving…the moving truck packed up all our stuff yesterday and it should be on its way to Fargo today – one more day in Cambridge, and then we follow suit on Saturday morning.

I’m writing this from the 6th floor of Building 46, which is the home of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. I’m sitting in the Teuber Library, which is one of my favorite places at the Institvte - it’s filled with old, dusty books I probably should read, and PhD theses that their authors probably don’t want me to read. Sitting in front of the big floor-to-ceiling windows in the front half of the library, I realized that it might be true that all the buildings I can see from here weren’t here when I got to MIT (OK, I have to lean a bit to make sure I can’t see Building 40, but let’s not nitpick). Twelve years is a long time and it’s visibly not the same MIT I arrived at when I was 18.

People keep asking me if I’m excited or if I’m sad. The answer’s both and I don’t see how it could be anything else. Leaving here is hard. Blaise and I were reading “Make Way for Ducklings” last night and I realized you can see the tree in the Public Garden where I proposed to Erin in the very first picture of the book. We’ve walked between Harvard and Porter more times than I can even begin to count. We’ve done improv at clubs and bars scattered all over the city. We HEARD the Red Sox win the world series from underground at Park Street. We’ve run all over every inch of campus solving Mystery Hunt puzzles and I’ve run the bridge loops on the Esplanade so many times that I automatically steer towards the good water fountains even when I’m walking.

And of course, there’s Blaise and all the things we’ve loved being able to show her here. We’ll miss the Museum of Science (monkeys!) and the Children’s Museum (bubbles!) immensely. Mr. Bear at Porter Square Books and Mrs. Bear at Henry Bear’s Park got their goodbye hugs a little while ago, and I think one more croissant from Beantowne Coffee will be in order after daycare. Ah, and brunch – the good folks at Johnny D’s will need to see to it that someone else demolishes their pancakes on Saturday mornings and claps and cheers for the guy playing acid-jazz versions of Green Day songs on his guitar.

All this we leave behind, and other things that are both smaller and larger – all the friends who befriended us when we were at our best and took care of us when we were at our worst. The doctors and nurses who saved our daughter. The waiters and managers at our favorite restaurants who noticed B’s feeding pump but didn’t say anything until it was gone and they wanted to tell us how happy they were for her. All her friends at day-care and the teachers who helped Blaise learn to speak her mind and run around like a crazy fool. The colleagues and advisers who gave us room to break on days when we were broken and then let us put things back together in our own time. Wind that’s too strong on the Harvard Bridge. Snow on Mass. Ave. The view from the Red Line going over the Longfellow. The infinite corridor. Smoots.

But y’know what? None of it’s going anywhere. Some of the people will go, some of the places will change, and MIT will build more (and weirder-shaped) buildings after we go. The thing about moving is that we leave behind an amazing place to come back to and we’ll know where to get the best coffee, where to see the coolest stuff, and what friends we’re going to see when we do it. And in the short term, the new adventure begins with labs to build, a new school for Blaise to take over with her charm, and a Christmas tree to put up in Fargo.

So we move on. Madeline and Atka will be belted in beside Blaise tomorrow and we hop our way from Boston to Fargo. It’ll probably be a crazy week or two while we wait for our stuff, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun. For now though, so long Boston – and thanks. We'll leave you with B and I singing a song that she's been pretty into lately - so much so that it's hard not to think she has a better handle on what's happening than you might think. Anyway: enjoy and our next post will probably be from the Dakotas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Packing up

We're moving in less than a week. The truck loads on Thursday and we're flying to Fargo on Saturday. After 11+ years in Cambridge, this is a big change, but we're excited for it. Stay tuned for updates on moving out, moving in, getting a car (after more than a decade car-free) and learning to love sub-freezing temperatures.

We took Blaise to a small Chanukah party last night. Fried potatoes *and* applesauce! This is a holiday for Blaise! (Candles, stories and Hebrew prayers were less exciting than the food.) She pronounces "latke" like "Atka," her beloved polar bear, but clearly knows they're different things. She's been talking all morning about "fryin' up Atkas" but she hasn't tried sticking the polar bear in hot oil.

Otherwise, we're engaged in the project of putting everything we own in boxes. It's a lot of work, but I think we're in good shape. Blaise has been coloring the boxes for us, so they will be beautiful, even if they're not especially well-organized.