Monday, April 20, 2009

Vomit - It's Not Just the Contents of Your Belly...

... It's an adventure.

So anyway, Aidan and I are on our way back home today. We're cruising along in my car when Aidan tells me, "Daddy, my tummy hurts."

This can't be good.

Maybe the donut he had for breakfast didn't agree with him (not likely). Maybe he is just hungry.

A moment later I hear the tell-tale burp. It's immediately followed by the sound of a liquid splashing in the back seat of my car. Between spasms, Aidan cries.

I press a little harder on the accelerator as the smell of partly digested milk wafts through the car. The speed limit is now only a suggestion as I race home. The immediate crisis past, Aidan falls asleep covered in little chunks of curdled milk. We arrive home. I peel Aidan out of his soiled clothing and put him in the bath. While he bathes, I clean.

The back seat of my car hasn't been this clean for a long time. Aidan is worn out so he has been sitting on my lap while we watch TV.

I love my son. I hope someday, he remembers this and cleans up after me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


For spring break this year, Tabitha made reservations for us in Las Vegas for Friday night and then three nights in Sedona, Arizona. We were going to return on Tuesday because I had a work commitment.

I brought along my computer with the hope of updating the blog every night like I have on past trips. I figured I would start with the obligatory photo of the kids frolicking at a rest stop along the interstate. I would then post a few photos of the family enjoying our time in exotic Las Vegas. Tabitha had other ideas:

"Why did you bring your computer?"

"To update my blog."

"Why don't you spend a little time with the family instead."

"Umm... okay."

Abigail and Aidan try to not get blown away in the desert.

We arrived at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon and checked into our room. While Tabitha and Aidan napped, I showed Abigail the canals of Venice (in Las Vegas). We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the hotel where Aidan pulled his usual routine of screaming his head off, refusing to eat, and then complaining he was hungry. The waiters and other diners were amazingly accommodating.

Aidan, in a more contemplative state of mind, enjoyed the wide ledge of our suite window.

We hoped to show the kids the lights of the Strip at night but we were all too tired to go out after our post-dinner gelato. We were the earliest people to bed in the entire city on Friday night. We checked out on Saturday morning and drove over to the Bellagio. We parked the Jeep and checked out the tulips and butterflies in the Bellagio's lobby. We walked to the M&M Store and chose our own colors (pastels for Abigail, blues for Aidan, and dark chocolate for me).

Abigail in the butterfly house at Bellagio.

We travelled east from Las Vegas, crossed the Hoover Dam, stopped for lunch in the bustling metropolis of Kingman (actually much bigger than I remembered), and headed east on I-40. The plume of smoke on the horizon turned out to be a fully-engulfed semi, stopping westbound traffic for miles. We soon arrived in Flagstaff and headed south on Arizona 89 to Sedona.

My family standing in front of some rocks in Sedona.

So far the trip was unfolding as planned. We checked into our hotel in Sedona, went for a chilly nighttime swim, and ate a delicious dinner at the hotel. Aidan again pulled his usual stunt (Hint to waiters - get the food out fast. Hint to Tim - don't take your son to nice restaurants). We went to bed early again.

Abigail enjoying a swim.

Aidan loves shallow water.

Warming up by the fire.

On Saturday, Abigail complained her eye hurt. It looked normal so we didn't think too much about it. On Sunday, the skin around her right eye was a little red and puffy. Abigail said it hurt more. That night, I could hear her crying in her sleep. At about 3 AM I woke up to check on her. Her right eye was swollen and red.

I called Kaiser to find out if they had any facilities in Arizona (they don't). I spoke to a nurse and described what Abigail was experiencing. I couldn't tell if she had a fever but she seemed a little warm. The nurse recommended we go to the local Urgent Care in the morning.

Even the view from the hospital is beautiful in Sedona.

On Monday morning, I took Abigail to Urgent Care. The doctor was concerned so he called the local ER. Dr. Dean at the ER wanted to examine Abigail. I dropped Tabitha and Aidan off at the hotel and took Abigail to the ER. By this time, Abigail had a fever and the skin around the eye was very red and swollen. Dr. Dean determined she probably had peri-orbital cellulitis, a serious infection of the skin around the eye. Abigail had a CT scan and they started IV antibiotics.

Dr. Dean laid out the options. He recommended we admit her to the hospital to continue the antibiotics. The hospital in Sedona did not have pediatric beds so she would have to go to Flagstaff. If untreated, the infection could migrate behind her eye causing loss of vision and possibly death. Dr. Dean said, "This is a medical emergency."


After collecting myself, I called the hotel and made arrangements to check out that night. They made reservations for a hotel in Flagstaff for us and called a taxi to bring Tabitha and Aidan to the hospital. Tabitha rode in the ambulance with Abigail to Flagstaff while Aidan and I drove the Jeep.

Later that night, I dropped Tabitha and Aidan off at our hotel in Flagstaff and returned to the hospital to spend the night. Abigail wanted to go home. She was frightened of getting more shots and staying in the hospital. I told her she had to stay in the hospital so she could get better. She had a difficult time the first night.

Abigail's infection began to improve after the first night but she was still running a slight fever. Tabitha had her hands full trying to keep Aidan occupied. Grandma Terry offered to drive out to Flagstaff to see Abigail and take Aidan back home with her. She drove to Flagstaff Tuesday evening, spent the night at the hotel with Tabitha and Aidan, visited Abigail on Wednesday morning, and then returned to California with Aidan (900 miles of driving in 24 hours).

Abigail was feeling much better. She drank chocolate milk, watched movies, colored, charmed the nurses, and received a syringe full of antibiotics twice a day. I read, updated my Facebook, and drove back and forth between the hospital and the hotel. I slept in Abigail's room every night on a fold-out bed. Tabitha read, swam in the hotel pool, napped, and waited for me to pick her up so she could visit Abigail.

Coloring books!

A delicious hospital meal.

She's getting out today!

On Friday morning, Abigail was released from the hospital. I was also glad to be out of the hospital so I could wear pajamas and sleep in a real bed. We checked out of our hotel and drove home that afternoon.

Abigail on a rock at a rest stop on I-40.

Tabitha is engrossed in her book.

Abigail takes a good photo.

Abigail is doing much better. She will take oral antibiotics for another week. She returned to school today. We are thankful for all of the prayers from our friends and family members.

I picked up a flu bug at the hospital and spent Saturday and Sunday in bed. I missed an awards ceremony for work on Thursday, used up two weeks of vacation time instead of one, and paid an extra $700 for a hotel I used only for a shower and breakfast. Thankfully, our insurance will pay for the hospital stay. In all, it was not a very good vacation.

I love the Flagstaff area. It's close to the Grand Canyon and is surrounded by trees. It has a local university (Northern Arizona) and a population that enjoys outdoor activities. I'd really like to visit some time.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

That's Smart

Nice smile.

I dropped my car off at the dealer this morning for the 80,000 mile service. One of the perks when you spend big money is they provide you with a rental car. So after a few minutes, Penny from Enterprise arrived to set me up with a temporary ride.

The Enterprise office is at our local Mercedes dealer. While Penny got my paperwork going, I strolled around the showroom ogling the German iron. There was an SL65 AMG Black ($304,000!), a McLaren SLR convertible (used, low mileage creampuff), and a classic 300SL roadster set up for rallying. Dreams in metal.

Anyway, Penny tells me they have a Smart available or I can take a Chevy Impala. I had to think about it for a second before I chose the Smart. For those of you not up on your cars, the Smart is a two seat city car manufactured by Mercedes. It is powered by a rear mounted 3 cylinder motor and is short enough to park nose first against the curb. I've been wanting to drive one of these things for a long time.

The ignition key is between the seats next to the shift lever (like a Saab). I got it started and discovered the Smart is tough to drive smoothly around town. The transmission shifts very slowly which saps forward momentum. It's worse when you are going slow so you just have to put the boot to it. The brakes are a little grabby but you'd probably get used to them with more time in the car.

On the freeway, the things goes surprisingly well. Eighty miles an hour is no problem but seventy seems to be the sweet spot. The ride is pretty stiff and it wanders a little bit, but that is due to the short wheelbase. It's so little you can zip in and out of traffic with no problem. You can pass cars and drive up hills without losing too much speed. You're not stuck in the slow lane watching the world pass you by. The motor is a bit loud and sounds like a tractor but it has decent power.


The Smart is strictly a two-seater. The front seats remind me of Tab's old VW bug. You're going to rub shoulders with your passenger but there is plenty of head and leg room. You sit kind of high in the car and there is no height adjustment (that I could find). It feels a little weird.

There's an engine down there.

The rear luggage compartment is large enough for two people to go on a week long road trip if they don't bring bicycles and surfboards. Forget about packing a stroller.

No tachometer.

The interior looks good and is put together nicely. It's very distinctive and stylish.

The best part is how little space this car takes up. You can touch the back window while sitting in the driver's seat. This would be a perfect commuter car for someone who has a relatively short drive.

Would I buy one? Probably not. I've got two little kids to ferry around and a 65 mile (one-way) commute. I see this car as being a great choice for empty nesters and people without children. If they could squeeze in two more seats and make it only slightly larger, then I might think about it.


Is it safe? It's probably as safe as can be for a car so small. It's got airbags tucked in everywhere and a high strength steel safety cage. Top Gear in England crashed one into a concrete barrier at 70 miles an hour and it held up very well. Just remember there is always a larger vehicle waiting to crash into you. It's better to avoid the accident in the first place.