Fatherhood My Experiences as a Father...
November 5 to December 4, 2003 (55th month)

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Thursday, December 4, 2003 - DC Vacation
Jill wanted to walk around Old Town Alexandria today, so I took the kids to DC.  We had some popcorn left from the night before, so we took it to feed pigeons or something.  We ended up finding a pond with pigeons, seagulls, ducks, geese, and even a few squirrels.

We went on a quick stroller tour of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.  On the way back to the museums we stopped by the National Christmas Tree.  The preparations were going on for the lighting later that night by the President, so we couldn't get in the fenced area to get up close to the trees.  We did see some model trains running around the base of the tree, and we saw a few state trees.

Our first museum was the Natural History Museum.  Since I had already done a lot of walking while Maeve and Hilde rode in the stroller, I said I was tired and might take a nap at the lunch table.  Maeve said that if I did that, she would put bread crumbs in my pockets because Jill hadn't packed any yogurt for lunch.

We finished the day by going through the American History Museum.  We left as they were closing the museum at 5:30.  It was dark, cold and little drizzly by the time we got out, but we had a very productive day.

As Hilde had done every other day that we went to DC, she fell asleep in the stroller on the way to the Metro station.  She slept all the way back on the Metro, back to the room, and even slept for another hour in the bedroom.  Jill and I were surprised that she would sleep through all of that noise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - DC Vacation
Today we started at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Jill and the kids went in while I tried to find a handicap entrance for the stroller.  That looked like a bother because of the extra security, so I folded up the stroller and went through the revolving door.  I took the elevator whenever we changed floors, and I mentioned that the kids kept using the escalator with Jill.  She said she was curious to see the kids, but it wouldn't have been the first time that she would have seen something as strange as a guy pushing around a stroller without even having any kids.

We walked a few blocks to Pop's office and had lunch with him.  After he invited us up to his office.  To get into the DOT build, we had to go through the most thorough security inspection that Jill or I had ever been through.  The guy had us unpack the lunch leftovers, unwrap food in aluminum foil, demonstrate that the camera and flash worked, etc.

We finished the day by going through the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building.  Jill got some souvenirs from the gift shop, and they had a display of gingerbread houses.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003 - DC Vacation
We went to Chinatown and the Zoo today. We stopped for a picture and a snack in Chinatown because we had to switch subway trains then anyway. It was a little cold, and windy, so we were quick.

At the zoo we saw a sloth bear that Jill said looked "like Grandma napping on the couch." Maeve and Hilde agreed.

On one large downhill sidewalk, Jill said she would let go of the stroller, and Maeve and Hilde would have to lean to steer the stroller, just like a luge ride. Maeve said, "OK!", but Hilde had a definite "NO!".

When Jill was on her little vacation, Maeve and I saw a documentary about the 1982 Air Florida flight 90 crash into the 14th Street Bridge in Washington DC, and then into the Potomac River. Of the 79 people on the plane, only five survived. Four motorists on the bridge were also killed.

I lived in Northern Virginia when that crash occurred. I remembered that planes taking off have to make a hard left turn immediately after takeoff to avoid the Washington Monument and the White House. There were also reasons for the pilot to have done more deicing or rejected the takeoff. Pilot error was a huge part of that crash. Still, having to make a hard left on takeoff made it even more difficult to avoid a crash due to the extra weight and drag of the ice on the wings, and the slower air speed caused by that. What I remember most was a comparison of Washington National Airport and Dulles Airport; the distance from the start of the runway to the point of impact in the Potomac River was shorter than the length of the runway at Dulles. If the plane has been taking off from Dulles, they would have still been on or over the runway after traveling the distance the Air Florida plane traveled before crashing into the Potomac River. The pilots would have had that much more time to either get enough speed or abort the takeoff, and the crash would likely not have happened if the flight had been leaving from Dulles.

So I was prejudiced against Washington National Airport since 1982. When we saw the documentary, I shared my feelings with Maeve. The documentary made all of those points clear, too.

Jill got sarcastic and asked if we were going to avoid all airports with short runways, like JFK in New York. I said that would be fine. I've seen pictures of planes going into the river there, too.

We took the subway into DC, and the line we used stopped at National Airport and went over a bridge parallel to the 14th Street bridge. Every time we did that, Maeve would ask if that was the airport that the plane took off from. Then she would ask if that was the "cold icy river that the plane crashed into". Then she talked about how the plane hit cars and trucks on the bridge, and "squished one all the way down". We had this discussion twice a day, once on the way in and once on the way out. Jill asked, "How many times do I have to hear this story?"

Monday, December 1, 2003 - DC Vacation
Today we went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. On the way into D.C., Hilde rode a subway for the first time. At the museum saw another display of the Apollo lunar lander and lunar rover, similar to the display that we saw at the Houston Space Center. There was a large, detailed model of an aircraft carrier. Maeve and Hilde didn't appreciate the original Wright Brothers 1903 airplane as much as they liked the Snoopy and the Red Baron display. They also had a great time with the hands-on exhibits, and getting to sit in a Cessna cockpit.

Tonight my mother came to our timeshare for dinner. I cooked lasagna, and we had more caramel. She also delivered Christmas presents early.

Sunday, November 30, 2003 - DC Vacation
Today we went to Pop's for a belated Thanksgiving dinner. Shirley and Kevin came, too. We toured the garage complex first. The floor in the store room had just been done, and Pop was waiting for some gravel to fill in around the foundation.

Saturday, November 29, 2003 - DC Vacation
We met Becky and Shelly in Alexandria today.  We spent the day at the Torpedo Factory and had lunch at the Chart House restaurant.  Jill, Becky and Shelly waited for a long time at Starbucks while I went to a toy store with the kids.

Afterwards we checked into our timeshare.  Our room had a view of the freight/passenger train rail lines, and the Metro lines.  Maeve and Hilde loved watching the trains coming by, and talking about riding the Metro into DC.  If one was watching and the other wasn't, the one watching would yell for the other to hop up on the couch to watch when they saw a train coming.

Friday, November 28, 2003 - DC Vacation
Today we packed everything up and drove to Shirley's house.  My parents came for dinner.  I had made some caramel from sweetened condensed milk and it was quickly eaten.

Back in October, I had asked Pop about getting a Mack bulldog hood ornament for the minivan.  He had it tonight.  Jill wasn't as excited about it as she should have been.

Thursday, November 27, 2003 Thanksgiving - DC Vacation
My mother and I drove to Richmond today.  I hadn't seen my family for two weeks.  Maeve's hair was shorter, and she had fingernails because she stopped chewing on them.  Jill sent me to the park with my mother and the kids while everyone was getting dinner ready.

Jill said that Hilde was taking the Armadillo that she got from April everywhere that she went.

After dinner I was helping Maeve get ready for bed in the bedroom and she whispered to me, "Mom has been pulling our shoes off without untying them, and she has been giving us plain root beer".  Those are both things that I usually complain about when I'm around.  It sounds like Jill had run amok without me around, and Maeve ratted her out.

Sunday, November 23, 2003 - Paramedic Refresher third weekend
We discussed injuries to male genitalia.  One patient had shimmied up a flagpole and was on his way down when he forgot about the cleat.  Another patient was working with a portable belt sander that caught his gym shorts.  The belt sander had to be transported to the hospital so the patient could be extricated.  Yet another patient was carrying a tombstone from one table to another and got caught between the tombstone and the table where he was setting it down.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
Bret once told a story about his relatives saying that people from the North had a funny accent.  Bret said that people from the North not only think that Southerners have a funny accent, but that they are also stupid.

Jill went to Walmart and asked someone where something was.  He answered with a Southern accent.  Jill thought he sounded stupid.  She said, "Have I been out of the South so long that I think everyone with that accent is stupid?"

Sunday, November 16, 2003 - Paramedic Refresher second weekend
Today someone said, "Rehab is for quitters".

We also talked about "Mr. Freeze".  One paramedic had a call for a "man down".  It was winter time, and some neighbors noticed this guy had been sitting on his front step for three days.  They knew it had been three days because it snowed three days earlier and the man had snow on him.  He had made one pass with the snowblower, and the paramedics found him sitting on the step, with one hand on the snow blower and the other clutching his chest.  He was frozen solid.  Knocking on his thigh sounded like knocking on a table.  The funeral home guy wasn't sure how to get him into the hearse, because he was in a sitting position and one arm was sticking out to rest on the snowblower.  The police helped to "break" him so he would fit.  The paramedic said he didn't want to be around to smell it when the guy thawed.  That led to the question, "If a turkey takes 24 hours per 5 lbs to thaw, how long does it take to thaw a man?"

Friday, November 14, 2003
Email from Jill at Grandma and Grandpa's:
"My brother showed up this morning with a freshly shot deer.  Maeve and Hilde have had their first lesson in hunting.  Maeve keeps asking why Uncle James needs to shoot a deer.  I explained it was to eat, but that didn't go over well.  Dad hung it up in the shed to cut up and Hilde wanted to see it.  I explained it was a dead deer and not moving and maybe scary - she looked anyway.  Now she keeps saying dead deer, dead deer, dead deer.   I'm not sure how to handle this, but I can almost guarantee we'll have venison to take home."

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Last night we left for Baltimore about 9:30 PM.  I was going to drive to Baltimore so that Jill could sleep most of the way, and not have to deal with any big bridges.  Then I would take a plane back so I could go to work and work around the house.  It took us 6.5 hours to go 360 miles.  That wasn't bad, even though we got jammed up in New York city because of some road work.

We got to Baltimore about 4:15 AM and Jill woke up.  My plane home didn't leave until 9:10 AM, so we drove to look at our old house, and around UMBC.  There are a lot of buildings that weren't there when I graduated.

While driving around UMBC, Hilde and Maeve woke up.  We parked at the airport and everyone came in to go to the bathroom.  They left to finish the rest of the trip to Richmond, and I went to take a little nap at the gate before my plane was ready.

Sunday, November 9, 2003 - Paramedic Refresher first weekend
We talked about one patient who, when he was born, didn't have a ureter from one kidney to the urinary bladder.  A surgeon at that time took some skin from his thigh and made a ureter.  As an adult, he developed some of kidney/urinary problem.  When he went to the hospital, they found that the inside of the ureter had started to grow the hair that belonged on the outside of his thigh.  They had to go in with some scope and trim the hair.

We discussed how important it is to insert the needle above the rib when performing a needle decompression so you avoid the veins and nerves under the ribs.  The instructor said if we looked at the bottom of ribs at a restaurant that we might be able to see the grooves where the veins and nerves were (we will probably have eaten them by then).

We also talked about different ways for people to have bad outcomes, despite our best efforts.  Someone mentioned that once you become a vegetable, you go to the "greenery".

Saturday, November 8, 2003
Tonight I brought up a suitcase to pack for their trip to Virginia.  I said Maeve had to sleep in it.  Hilde said "no", and it was clear I was joking.  When it was time to go to sleep, Maeve said she wanted to sleep in my room.  Maeve kicked me out and later I found her in the suitcase.  I told her she didn't need to sleep in the suitcase, but she said she wanted to.  I put in a blanket for her so it wouldn't be so bumpy.

Thursday, November 6, 2003
Bob the Builder and Wendy have about the same tools.  We saw a picture of Wendy with no hat, and I said she has prettier hair.  Maeve said that Bob had no hair.  I showed her some hair peaking out from under his hat and said we couldn't find picture of him without hat.  Maeve said he always wears his hat because Wendy is always hitting him in the head.

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