Saturday, February 28, 2009
Last evening, our family participated in the Relay for Life here in La Ceiba. The US version of this event is a an all night walk-a-thon sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The La Ceiba version was a bit shorter. We were joined by about 15oo other adults and students from all over La Ceiba for a march down the street along the coast. In honor of Anne, we wore our Notch Your Average Cancer Fighters t-shirts. Ezekiel didn't have his own, but we dressed him in light blue so he could look like part of the team. He did a wonderful job in his stroller, and we enjoyed the beautiful evening walk for a good cause.
On April 19, the Colon Cancer Coalition will be sponsoring a "Get Your Rear In Gear" 5K walk/run in the Twin Cities. This year's children's race is dedicated to Anne. Anyone interested in learning more about this race (or a second race in the Chicago area) can visit the Notch Your Average Cancer Fighters team website . There will also be cool new shirts this year!
Friday, February 27, 2009
We don’t know who you are, where you are from, what brought you to our blog, or what made you decide to purchase a subscription to US Weekly from Amazon.com.
But we sincerely hope that you enjoy your purchase. You made a good choice. US Weekly is a fine magazine. We are sure that it will bring you great happiness in the coming year.
You are the first person to make an Amazon.com purchase through our website. We salute you, unknown Us Weekly subscriber. You have our gratitude and respect.
We will be investing the $2.06 we earned from this transaction in the stock market. We’re going to purchase a little piece of Rakuten Inc., a Japanese company with an awesome name.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Ezekiel did a wonderful job on this trip. He slept in his sling for the 2 hour bus ride each way. His favorite activities on vacation were eating, sleeping on Grandma, sleeping on Grandpa, and sleeping in his stroller by the pool. Tom and I enjoyed a couple hours swimming in the ocean and a meal by ourselves while Zeke stayed with his favorite new babysitters. We've taken a ton of pictures, but will have to post more later- as we're just too busy having fun right now!
Friday, February 20, 2009
I found Karine sitting on a bench facing the ocean near the emergency entrance. I was surprised to find her there, because she hates the emergency entrance. Karine is terrified she’ll glance in the direction of the entrance at the precise instant some horribly mangled body is brought into the hospital. She’s certain that some unlucky day she’ll look towards the beech and be surprised to see orderlies dragging some sorry dude from a pickup truck, his nearly severed head dangling from his body by a tread of bloody tendons and gristle. Karine would glance at the guy, probably machete "accident" victim, for only an instant. Just enough time to see his head pop clean off.
Things were quiet at the emergency entrance that morning. Thank God. I sat down on the bench next to my wife. She said that the doctor wouldn’t be in until nine, so we had some time to kill. We decided to walk the beach. Walking is a good way to move labor along. Karine wasn’t in labor in the technical sense, but we knew she was very close. I rose from the bench, helped Karine to her feet, and we set off in the direction of the massive concrete cross which stood between the hospital and the Caribbean Sea. I walked, she waddled.
We did a couple of laps between the faded cross and the ruined banana docks. It was a fine morning. A gentle sea breeze, with an actual salt tang, masked the smell of rotting garbage that usually fogs over this part of town. We walked towards the docks with the climbing sun to our faces.
There was an old man raking trash into piles along the beach. He was fighting a losing battle, but I found great dignity in his work. Not that it mattered to him. He wasn’t fighting this particular battle to be a metaphor for anything, just an old man doing his job. Only a gringo would turn an old man raking garage into a poem about dignity.
Karine and I watched the old man as we slowly made our way between the cross and the docks. We were talking, or course, about how EVERYTHING was about to change. We held hands and talked in low voices about the past and the future. I noted the ruin around us and the solitary old man raking garbage on the beach and remarked to Karine for the ten-thousandth time what a beautiful city this could be, if only….
It was time to return to the hospital. We left the old man and his metaphorical raking, hung a right at the concrete cross, and ambled off the beach to go see Dr. Fleisch. We made our way past the emergency entrance without seeing any severed heads, amputated limbs, or gangrenous puss-secreting lesions. Karine was relieved. We climbed the steps to the second floor and sat in the nuclear orange chairs outside the doctor’s office, waiting for our number to be called. We were number one.
If you aren't broke, how about stimulating the economy by treating yourself to an awesome bonsai tree. Have a great weekend!
The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
We will be forever indebted to the venerable Dr. Fleisch for the safe delivery of our son Ezekiel Lawrence. I’m going to describe the events of that day as I remember them. I’ll try to write as close to the facts as I can, because the plain simple truth is miraculous left alone. Forgive me if I accidentally, or on purpose, get fancy and mess the whole story up. It was emotional.
I left school early that Monday morning to meet Karine at Dr. Fleisch’s hospital, which is located next to the old customs building on the beach. It’s within spitting distance of the La Ceiba dock, where they used to load the banana boats bound for New Orleans. I left for the hospital thinking about our baby. My thoughts as I walked were buzzing, like usual, around the idea that EVERYTHING was about to change.
The guard who unlocked the gate that separates our beautiful campus from the rest of Honduras is someone I know fairly well. His name is Luis. I told him I was going to the doctor’s and that I was going to meet Karine there. He told me that the doctor was only an instrument of the Lord, and that the Lord would bring our little boy safely into the world.
It was about eight in the morning. I walked from school along the abandoned Standard Fruit Railroad tracks. My parents and grandparents probably ate bananas that were carried to cargo ships along these same tracks. I was just like one of those bananas now, except instead of going to the United States to be eaten, I was going to the hospital to see my wife.
It was a beautiful morning in La Ceiba. Garbage everywhere. Shop keepers were sweeping it into the streets. Stray dogs with various skin diseases nosed through the trash, looking for disgusting pieces of anything with nutritional value. This is commonplace. I didn’t dwell on my surroundings. I was too busy thinking about Dr. Fleisch, instrument of the Lord
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
His other favorite activity is looking at people and puppies. He loves eyes and faces. Here's a cute father/son moment from Monday after school.
Yesterday, Ezekiel went on his first date/doctor visit. Another young mom of a little girl and I both took our babies to their checkups at the hospital. Here we are in the waiting area. (Pediatricians don't take appointments either- first come, first served!) After 2 weeks, Ezekiel weighed in at 8 lbs 1 oz. This is up a full ounce from his birth weight! Good eating, son. The doctor said that Ezekiel is looking like a healthy (gordo!) boy and he'll see us again for his 2 month immunization visit. I'm not looking forward to that one, but I've got 6 weeks to prep myself.
Today we are excited because Grandma and Grandpa Nelson arrive. This will be their first time ever holding a grandchild. We can't wait for them to get here. So, today's agenda has a sponge bath and outfit trying-on as the big activities. Though Ezekiel's umbilical cord stump fell off last Friday, I'm terrified to give him a "real bath". He's not really dirty, and my sponge baths are pretty thorough. Perhaps Grandma will be able to assist with this big first.
More updates to come soon!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"Dubai is a place for the shallow and fickle. Tabloid celebrities and worn
out sports stars are sponsored by swollen faced, botox injected, perma-tanned European property developers to encourage the type of people who are impressed by fame itself, rather than what originated it, to inhabit pastiche
Mediterranean villas on fake islands."
Just when I thought Roald Dahl couldn't get any cooler, I discover that he wrote all of his novels for children in a little tiny shack tucked into a corner the garden behind his house. He never permitted anyone besides himself to enter and he never swept the floor.
Roald Dahl. Even more awesome than I previously thought.
You can take a virtual tour of the writing hut at the Roald Dahl History and Story Centre.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Remember to spend your money wisely: vacations, trips to the circus – much happiness, toasters, pants – not so much.
I just can’t get over the phrase experiential purchase. It’s my new favorite piece of meaningless jargon.
Way to go science!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Now, they're going to build this. Every floor rotates 360 degrees independent of all the other floors. Some floors will rotate by voice command. And the building will generate its own power. Apartments for $3 million to $30 million.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
A funny thing happened last week. I went running with the wrong music. My iPod Shufflewas loaded with a playlist called Transit, something I listen to whenever I’m traveling. It’s got a lot of great songs – Ben Harper, Sam Cooke, Tom Waits, Röyksopp, Bright Eyes, The Beach Boys – but, no heavy metal. The list has some slow songs, some ballads, even some sad songs.
I hit the pavement ready for some melt your face heavy metal. I was hoping to hear Angel of Death, from Slayer's classic album, Reign in Blood. It's a nice angry song about Satan. Perfect for running on a sunny afternoon. Instead, I heard August Day Song, by Bebel Gilberto. August Day Song is no Angel of Death. It's in Portuguese and it's sweet sounding. There are no screaming guitars or people. I don't know what it's about, but it's definately not about Satan.
I almost turned around and went home to reload my iPod with some real music. But I didn't. And somewhere between Bebel Gilberto and Imogen Heap, I discovered that I don't need heavy metal to run. That, in fact, I don't enjoy running while listening to heavy metal. After more than ten years.
I ran three times farther that day than I ever have before. I am not saying this to toot my own horn. There is a lesson in this rambling screed. I chose to listen to the heaviest of heavy metal while I ran to psyche myself into a mental space appropriate for grueling, punishing physical exertion. And it was, because that's where my mind was. I psyched myself into hating to run.
Well, no more of that. Here's the song I enjoyed the most on my run:
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Ezekiel was going to be a Benedict. We were leaning Benedict for months. We were to name him after Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine monastic order. Benedict of Nursia was the Tom Hanks of fifth-century monks: dependable, stalwart, nice. But the extreme conservatism of the current pope, Benedict XVI, made us a little nervous. This man is no Tom Hanks. We wouldn't want anyone to think that we had named our son in his honor.
I have to apologize to my father for speaking ill of the pope. My late father, Lawrence Louis Lewandowski, was a devout Catholic and a huge fan of Pope John Paul II. Mostly, I think, because JP II was Polish and spoke eight languages -- the man did a lot to deflate the social currency of the dumb Polack joke. My dad appreciated that sort of thing on a personal level.
I mention my father because he is the source of our son's middle name. I don't know what the name Lawrence means to the rest of the world, but to our family it means beloved, plain and simple. There is no greater way to show our son that we love him than to give him my dad's name. It's also family tradition. My older brother has my dad's name for his middle name. I have my grandfather's.
As for Ezekiel. We kicked around a lot of names from the Old Testament. We got the biggest kick out of Ezekiel. The full name sounds polished and articulate. Maybe a little bookish, but it has a nice weight to it. The sort of gravity that can only come from an Old Testament classic. The short form, Zeke, is pure delight. Everybody likes Zeke, right? He's such a lovable goof!
We like the contrast between the two extremes: Ezekiel, the refined intellectual and Zeke, the sporty goofball. Of course, this is only our perception of what the name sounds like; whether he's either of those things, or neither, is completely up to him. We've never known anyone named Ezekiel. Throw the other potential nicknames into the mix -- Ziggy, Zee, Easy E -- and we were sold.
Ezekiel Lawrence. We liked everything about it. The sound gives a nice ride down the tongue. It tastes pretty good. The blocky, angular consonant sounds in Ezekiel contrast nicely with the longer, smoother, softer sounds in Lawrence. Everything was settled two weeks before the due date.
That would be the end of the story. If I hadn't tried to pull a switcheroo on my wife while she was recovering from surgery. Zeke was in the nursery. My wife was in the recovery room with the post-op shivers when I ran from the nursery to tell her we had to change the name. I was a little overwhelmed, emotionally.
He's too soft. That's what I told her. He's too soft in the face and Ezekiel has too many sharp corners for him. It's not soft enough. Ezekiel. We have to find something else. Because he needs a soft name. Because he is so soft.
The softest names I could think of at the time were Louis, my grandpa's name, and Lawrence, my dad's. I was convinced that only these two names were soft enough for our son. Larry or Louis.
Fortunately, my wife's head was clearer after surgery than mine was after watching it. She listened patiently while I had a minor meltdown about the name. But no decisions were made. Good thing. If I had been running the show he might very well have ended up Lawrence Lawrence Lewandowski. Can't get any softer than that.
A nurse brought our baby boy into the room after Karine had recovered enough to twinkle her toes. She held him in her arms for the first time. She looked at his round little head, and his soft little face, and introduced me to my son, Ezekiel Lawrence.
And that, was that.
Check out all the rejects here.
He's a voracious eater. He'll nurse for an hour at a time and then sleep it off for the next 3-4 hours. Over the past three nights, he woke up only one time in the middle of the night. I'll feed him for an hour or so, and then he drifts back to sleep until 6am. It's wonderful! And the midnight feeding is such a special time for the two of us- I just love him, and I get the feeling he thinks I'm pretty special too. (Or at least my chest is!)
Zeke's arms are always on the move. When he was in the womb, I always told Tom that I could feel his little arms and hands reaching, poking, and tickling me. Tom caught Zeke trying to tear his tiny ear off the other night. He is incredibly strong, so we're going to have to keep an eye on that. We can't have him ripping off any major body parts just yet.
He also gets the hiccups often. It seemed like he constantly had them when he was in the womb, and now that he's out, it's no different. Luckily, they don't seem to bother him too much, and I can usually nurse them away.
I think we're going to have a big boy on our hands. Our little guy has long slender fingers and toes and the cutest skinny legs. I'm hoping they're not skinny for too long. He's already managed to put on a second chin, so we're going to keep plumping him up.
We spend our days quietly at home. I work on little projects while Zeke sleeps. Ruby is behaving like a champ around him. Not so curious anymore- just aware and gentle. Of course, safety is our number one concern and we watch her like a hawk when she's in the same room as Ezekiel. When we were in the states over Christmas, we bought Ruby a couple of "big doggy sister" toys for after Ezekiel was born. Today, Ruby is chilling on the front porch with her new Kong Wubba.
I continue to feel well. I had my stitches removed yesterday, and am recovering pretty easily. I suppose the restful nights of sleep have helped a lot. It's still a bit difficult to get up from a reclining position in some chairs, but mostly, I'm feeling great!
So that's about it. Enjoy the pictures, and don't worry about that plastic clip on Zeke's belly button. The nurses didn't forget to take it off- that's just how it's done here. I've been assured that it will fall off in time and his belly button will look totally normal.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
If you're ready to jump into the future with both feet and save a some trees in the process, I invite you here:
"I have yet to see a piece of writing, political or nonpolitical, thatThat one was hidden in an essay about democracy and the ghost of a counterfeit basset hound. You can find the essay, Bedfellows, in this collection:
doesn't have a slant. All writing slants the way the writer leans, and no man is born perpendicular, although many men are born upright."
Monday, February 9, 2009
Music and fashion in the United States right now are blowing up in ever expanding concentric circles of awesomeness. That is what we think. This awesomeness is radiating outward from the world epicenter of awesomeness currently located in Omaha, Nebraska.
Here's the evidence:
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Beethoven looks like he's ready to shoot laser beams out of his eyes in this picture. He wants to set the world on fire with romance and passion. Not the kind of romance and passion between lovers. We're talking about Romance and Passion. We're talking about fraternity, liberty, and human freedom. Ideals with a capital I. Big ones. There's a lot of love in Beethoven's music. He loved the world, and believed mankind could perfect it.
Unfortunately for Beethoven, most people are complete idiots. He was often disappointed. He was appalled by the conduct of his friends, his enemies, the clergy, the aristocracy, and humanity in general. As the years passed Beethoven turned into a bit of a grouch: cranky, angry, cantankerous, ornery, vindictive, and mean. Then his lost his hearing and he got really mad.
You can see Beethoven's anger in the score above. Its almost as if he were trying to punish the paper for its inability to express whatever Beethoven heard perfectly in his head. Whatever paper he used to write his sixth symphony though, must have been pretty sweet, because Beethoven's Sixth is about as perfect as it gets.
Like a lot of angry perfectionists, Beethoven's mind found a happy place in nature. The sixth symphony is Beethoven walking through a wood on a fine spring morning. Maybe his laser beam eyes relaxed a little bit that morning and he simply enjoyed being alive for a while. Just a man strolling through a wood. That's how I hear this symphony.
Watch out for the thunderstorm in the fourth movement.
(The iTunes link at the top of the post will take you the London Symphony Orchestra's Complete Beethoven Symphonies. All nine Beethoven Symphonies for $9.99)
Friday, February 6, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I came in for my weekly checkup with the doctor at 8am. I was a bit early, so Tom and I took a walk along the beach in front of the hospital. When we met with the doctor, he noticed my blood pressure was a bit high, so sent me to get an ultrasound downstairs to make sure everything was okay with the baby. The ultrasound showed that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his head and that the amniotic fluid was a little low. For these reasons, the doctor told us that we would be meeting our baby that very day! He induced me around 11:30am and I began getting contractions right away. The contractions came pretty forcefully and were very intense. I labored in hopes of a vaginal birth for about 4 hours. At that point, I was not dilating fast enough to safely continue. The doctor recommended that we have a cesarean section and we agreed that it was the best option for us all.
I was then sent into the operating room where I was given an epidural and they began. Tom watched the surgery and birth from the window. He offered thumbs up for encouragement and was able to hear the first cries of Ezekiel at 4:30pm. I saw him briefly as the doctors took our little guy out to get weighed, measured, and all that good stuff. The surgery took about 45 minutes more, so Tom ran back and forth between the nursery and the operating room window, sending love to us both.
I was taken back to our hospital room to let the epidural wear off. Our room is extremely nice with a window and small balcony overlooking the Caribbean. After about 2 hours, I could feel my feet enough to move to my bed and meet my son. Tom and I enjoyed a few quiet hours with Ezekiel together as a new little family. We then began to call our families and spread the good news.
While it was not our "plan" to have a c-section, the doctor said afterward that it would've been necessary even if I had labored for a couple more hours. Recovery from the surgery is a little difficult, with lots of tenderness and aches, but I'm feeling much better today. I was able to eat some cereal this morning, and I've been walking a bit in the hallways. We'll be here for 4 days total and we're very comfortable in our room. Our whole family has beds right in the room, and we've enjoyed opening the door and getting some fresh sea air circulating from time to time.
Ezekiel has been a good eater, although he likes to have a whole bunch of food at one time (for almost 2 hours each feeding) and then sleeping for 4-6 hours afterwards. We're happy and comfortable. Thank you to everyone who has sent their well wishes and love- we're doing great!