The Old Fashioned Way

I made it until 9 p.m. last night, so the jet lag is surely wearing off. That said, I find myself blogging in the wee hours of the morning once again. Nothing has been happening here, really. I have been to the gym with my dad and brother both days that we’ve been home, so thus far I’ve able to gorge myself on pizza and bacon to no ill effect. Hopefully I can keep up the routine.

It was finally time to give Ray form of a bath yesterday, and we determined that the easiest method was to throw him in the sink. Cute pictures ensued.

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There are more on Flickr if you haven’t got your fill.

I’m looking forward to getting out and taking some non-Ray pictures of lovely, wintery (i.e. brown) Cape Cod, but haven’t had a chance yet. We are due for some stormy weather later in the day though, so it might be a little while before I can get out and about with my camera.

Otherwise, complete and utter normalcy here, in a good way. Back to bed for me for a few more hours.

High Above the Mucky-Muck

It certainly is pretty amazing that these days we can hurdle through the air in a metal tube and some hours later find ourselves halfway across the planet. Doing so isn’t necessarily pleasant, especially in economy with a curious one year old in tow, but it blows away the other options. But once the one year old passes out for a little while, and I adjust to the sometimes unnerving but perfectly safe and natural bouncing around of airplanes, I love gazing out the window at the world (or at least the clouds) below.

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Our trip was more or less uneventful, which is the best I could have hoped for. Ray slept enough, flirted with the flight attendants/fellow passengers/customs officials/everyone in between, and crucially, slept for the entire flight from Chicago to Boston (when Chieko and I had hit the wall), including a nearly hour delay on the plane while they fixed the faulty air conditioning system before we could take off. And then he slept in the car from Boston to Cape Cod. And then he and Chieko slept well into the night before waking up for a few hours. I slept, woke up, and slept again. And now, pushing 3:30 a.m., I am the only one awake. So we’ll see how the jet lag continues to play out.

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It’s good to be home, as it always is. There is nothing like the physical and mental exhausting of traveling for 20 hours through countless time zones, and there is nothing like the feeling of finally arriving at ones destination and taking a long-overdue shower. As usual, we have no big plans while we are home aside from spending time with friends and family. And bacon, lots and lots of bacon. For now though, I will probably crawl back in bed with my wife and boy and try to get a bit more sleep. Good night, again.

Winding Down

I took a ride down to the beach with Ray this afternoon. As usual he passed out shortly into the ride, which is also OK since I don’t have to worry about him getting fussy. I had thrown the stroller in the car in the hope of taking a walk along the paved path that runs along the beach, but it was just as well that Ray was asleep since it was a bit too windy and cold once we got down to the water.

There’s a small harbor there, which is empty at the moment as all the boats are pulled for the winter. There were a few fishermen doing some maintenance work on their boats in preparation for the spring, but it was otherwise a ghost town. This building caught my eye though — walk-in refrigerators/freezers, I guess. No idea whether or not they are being used. Perhaps I should have checked.

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I also took a nice bike ride after coming home, since Ray was still sleeping. I had planned on taking my first run in a long time, but upon inspection I realized that most of the rice paddies I run through (or at least the roads that intersperse them) are still covered in snow.

We are coming down to the wire with our trip to the States on Tuesday. Ray has mercifully gone to bed at a reasonable, giving us time to do some trial packing and a bit of cleaning. He’ll be in daycare tomorrow which will give us a chance to tie up loose ends, get a proper cleaning done, and hopefully be ready to get out the door early on Tuesday morning. And in that vein, I’m going to do a bit of tidying now before bed. Not sure if I will post or not before we leave, so the next installment may come from America.

Until then, safe travels to us!

The Score

I made the first version of this post last night, but when I hit “publish” everything vanished. That was a lousy turn of events, and this time around things will be substantially more abbreviate, especially considering I didn’t have much worthwhile to say to begin with.

One thing I wanted to talk about was the picture below. We played another bunch of ping-pong before leaving Niigata yesterday afternoon, and it was pretty much the status quo — I pummeled Chieko’s father, Chieko’s mom pummeled Chieko’s father and me. The picture is the tally of games won between myself and Chieko’s dad; I’m on the right.

I’ve always found this particular way of counting to be cool. In English we count by five using hash marks — ||||; in Japan they use the character you see below, which is written using five indivual strokes. It means “correct” in Japanese, so I’m not sure how it ties in to counting, but if anyone knows please let me know.

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The other noteworthy topic of conversation is our trip to the ear doctor on Wednesday. If you don’t already know why we are visiting ear doctors, I’ll give a brief recap. Ray has microtia, which is basically an abnormally/undeveloped ear. His case is actually not too bad in terms of appearance compared to what some people are (or are not) born with. Aside from having a smallish/oddly shaped ear on the outside, Ray also lacks an ear canal on affected ear. All the bits and pieces are there on the inside, but he can’t hear out of the ear.

The surgery we are looking into will only remedy the cosmetic issue with Ray’s ear. At this point he will never hear out of his little right ear, which isn’t really a problem according to a different ear doctor, because Ray has normal hearing in his good ear and has probably already adapted to his hearing situation. I should probably stop referring to the doctor we met on Wednesday as an ear doctor; he is a plastic surgeon, and one who has developed the best approach to building cosmetic ears to date. You can Google the Nagata Method to get a proper description of what he does, but I’ll sum it up briefly.

First, harvest soft cartilage from the ribs. This is the reason he doesn’t perform the surgery on children under 1o years old (or thereabouts). The patient has to reach a certain size so there is sufficient cartilage to harvest. He uses the cartilage to build a frame for the new ear, and uses skin grafts to attach the ear and cover it. Not that simple, and there are some fascinating details I’m leaving out. That’s phase one and a month in the hospital.

Phase two comes six months later and entails harvesting a bit more cartilage which is put between the ear and the head to make the ear “stand up.” One of the fatal flaws with other methods of reconstructive ear surgery is that the ears lay flat against the head and look very unnatural, so this second stage of the operation was an important development on Dr. Nagata’s part. Another month in the hospital, and Ray will be on his way.

Dr. Nagata gave us a two hour explanation/presentation that explained the process but also explained the history of reconstructive ear surgery (which provided ample opportunities for him to toot his own horn, deservedly so). There was one other woman in attendance. She’s getting her new ear in May; Ray’s on the slate for 2020, should he decide he wants a new ear. In the mean time, the doctor requested we come back once every two years to measure Ray’s growth, and also get him educated on what the operation involves once he gets a bit older.

On the daycare note, thanks again to everyone who commented. It wasn’t really that hard of a decision in the end, and I think I am more sentimental than anything. Ray will be going to the daycare our school is opening up, and more than likely it will work out just fine.

OK, that’s it for tonight. It’s 11:30 and Ray is showing no signs of sleeping. Chieko just realized we are going to America on Tuesday and not Wednesday; not sure where that miscommunication came from. Shaping up to be a busy couple of days. Good night!