When Kids Are Sick

I’m writing this with Maverick in my arms. At just one year old, he still fits in my lap, and he’s a cuddly little guy. Truth is, part of me is afraid to put him down (but not so afraid that I didn’t stick him in his crib to scream awhile ago because I was weepy and dirty and desperately needed a shower – don’t worry, his dad rescued him).

We’ve done two ER visits and two clinic visits in two days. One more follow-up appointment today, just to make sure he is really truly not going to need another ER visit over the weekend. The vomiting and diarrhea got so bad that he was dehydrated and needed an IV at the first ER visit. He was so out of it that he didn’t even fight the IV. The second ER visit, the doctor wanted to give him an IV but they tried & tried & couldn’t do it. Now his little arms are all bruised, but he’s had plenty of fluids (read: occasional sips of Pedialyte and/or Gatorade, & nearly constant breastfeeding) and his lips are finally no longer chapped.

I know parents who have kids with chronic illnesses or congenital defects that require repeated surgeries and hospitalizations. We got just the tiniest glimpse of what they go through. Holding the baby while the nurses try and try to get the needle in. Watching as they do necessary (but horrific) medical procedures to get him well. Keeping the older kid occupied and entertained while waiting and waiting and waiting. Trying to make decisions on fast food and not enough rest. Curling up on the hospital bed behind him, watching him sleep peacefully because although the hospital isn’t home, we are his home, and as long as we’re there, he knows it’ll be okay.

Homes and I have done a lot of bitching about how many times we’ve all been sick this year. Even now, on the tail end of Maverick’s Tummy Bug of Doom, he’s getting my cold. Z’s sick, too. It’s not fair. With illness, nothing is fair, and it totally sucks, and I’m glad we’re getting better, that this isn’t permanent, it’ll soon be a bad memory, and even though I’m sleep-deprived I can see how lucky we are.

Out & About Without the Baby

with baby

When you’re out and about WITH the baby, strangers smile at you. Or, rather, they smile at your baby, and you smile back because otherwise it’s just kind of awkward. It’s not like the baby regularly smiles back. Plus, even if you look like hell, you’ve got a twenty-pound excuse on your hip or in your shopping cart, and it’s an automatic pardon for wearing a sweatshirt with snot tracks all over it.

without baby

But when you’re out and about WITHOUT the baby, people ignore you. You’re ready to smile & answer questions about how old he is, or whether he’s talking/walking/doing magic tricks yet, because you’re accustomed to interacting with people in the grocery store or Target or the library or…okay, those are the only three places you go. But nobody looks back at you. You’re in an invisibility bubble. Because honestly, what’s interesting about a frumpy, slightly overweight woman who looks too tired to give a damn?

Deck the Halls with Easter Bunnies

Breaking News: THE EASTER BOX IS FINALLY BACK IN THE ATTIC.

I’m not a big decorator for the holidays, for two reasons: 1) I’m lazy, and 2) We have too much stuff.

Here’s how our decoration cycle for Christmas goes, in ten easy steps.

1. Find empty box or unobtrusive corner.

2. Clear surfaces (i.e. tables, shelves, television altar, piano(s), mantels, dressers, and possibly bathroom counters) of knick knacks & assorted piles of books, papers, and toys.

3. Pack knick knacks etc. into box or stack into the unobtrusive corner.

4. Dust surfaces.

5. Send Homes on spelunking expedition into garage or attic to retrieve Christmas decoration boxes.

6. Set out Christmas decorations (approximately 3.3 days before Christmas)

7. Approximately 2.65 months after Christmas, clear surfaces of decorations and locate empty boxes to pack them into. If necessary, purchase more plastic boxes and feel guilty for a little while.

8a. By this point, new knick knacks etc. have crowded onto surfaces, so

8b. don’t bother dusting, and

8c. leave other knick knacks etc. in box or unobtrusive corner.

9. Approximately 4.89 months after Christmas, send Homes on mission to return Christmas boxes to attic or garage.

10. Congratulate self on a job well done.

A Meandering and Whiny Post

For the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I spend on the webternetz and what I do here.

I think I’ve been thinking about it so much because time has been so scarce, and oftentimes I turn to my laptop as soon as Maverick starts one of his (too-brief) naps. I tap out a couple of emails, comment on a blog, and voila! he’s awake again and I got NO writing done. I am often tired, and overwhelmed with the state of my filthy and cluttered house, and I have all these story ideas and not enough time to work on any of them.

Time. How to make more of it. How to make the best use of what I have.

The surest way to get me to cry these days is to talk about writing routines, or the writing life, and how it’s so simple to just stay up an hour later and/or wake up an hour earlier, or that it’s so easy if you just turn off the flippin’ internet. And I know I’m not doing as good of a job managing time as I could be doing. I know I can do better. Maybe it starts with turning off the flippin’ internet. After all, going down to one blog post a week has definitely helped. I haven’t been nearly so diligent with commenting on other blogs, and I’ve even been letting some emails go into the archives without responses.

What else is there to do? Envying people with more free time: NOT productive.

Daydreaming of my college years when sleep was negotiable, exercise a given, and I was sometimes actually bored: NOT productive.

Taking a deep breath, and remembering that the baby haze does end at some point? It helps. Just a little. But it helps.

Also, going to bed earlier would help, because everything’s easier when I’m well-rested. Sleep. The pessimism fix.

Reflections on Little House on the Prairie

Housework: Ma Ingalls did a LOT of work. Just reading about all the work she did makes me feel exhausted. And it’s like, who cares if their dresses were clean and pressed? Nobody is there to see them. Me, I think I’m exerting huge effort to put on a pair of wrinkled cargo pants to make my way to Target (see below re: Target), and there’s Ma wringing things out in the creek by hand, and then IRONING it afterward?! I mean, I applaud her determination to look nice, but it’s sort of akin to…I don’t know. I have no comparison to make here – it’s too crazy for me.

Racism and Prejudice: As impressed (and bewildered) as I was with Ma’s cleaning and cooking, I didn’t like her attitude toward the Indians. Yes, she was a product of her times, but not everyone was so jerk-faced about them. What I most appreciated was Laura’s innocent questions such as, “Isn’t this the Indians’ land? Aren’t they sad to have to move?” but those questions were silenced (see below re: never speaking at the table). Pa didn’t seem nearly as judgmental as Ma did, and I’m wondering if it came down to fear. Ma was really really afraid of the Indians, and Pa had a more balanced view?

The Family Dinner: The part about how kids aren’t supposed to speak at the table, unless they are spoken to? Made me nine shades of nostalgic for something I’ve never experienced, because most dinners I can’t get a word in edgewise to Homes. Ma and Pa could shut Laura up with three words: “Laura, that’s all.” And she’d stop. How did they do it?

Material Goods: Mary and Laura were SO THRILLED at getting their own tin cups…and that’s the sort of thing I’d pick up at Target without even a thought. Not to mention the occasional random art supplies like construction paper or notebooks or markers or stickers…. Imagine how thrilled they’d be!

Crazy Talk: What would’ve happened to them if Pa died? I mean, that’s a huge risk they’re undertaking, going off into the unsettled prairie, and as capable as Ma wields her spider-cooker thingie, I don’t think she’s quite up for chopping down and hauling lumber, and building cabin-sized things (like cabins). I guess I’m not enough of an adventurer to be a pioneer, but it’s hard to sympathize with them when they’re endangering not only themselves but their very young daughters by venturing into the great yonder. There are snakes and wolves and things, and all kinds of other dangers!

Do It All Over Again: And then, after all that work making that sweet little cabin with the Ridiculously Symbolic and Special china doll on the mantel, they had to abandon the cabin and venture off again to start over. All that work. I need a nap now.

One More Thing: No, I don’t know what is up with all the gopher drawingss. I can’t seem to stop.

Baby Songs

We’re beyond “routine” with the bedtime routine in this house. It’s become a superstition. So much so that when Z was a toddler, I had to read the same book, sing the same three songs (“O Holy Night,” “Scarborough Fair,” and “All the Pretty Little Horses”) in the same order, and give her the same stuffed friend for every single nap and bedtime. Followed by the ever popular, ever annoying Drink Of Water.

Whatever works, right?

While I usually end Maverick’s routine with the time-honored classic “All the Pretty Little Horses,” I’m trying to mix it up a little more. Mostly because he’s still taking two or three naps a day, plus bedtime, and I can only handle so much of the same three songs.

So here’s what I’ve got in my bedtime arsenal:

  • All the Pretty Little Horses
  • Loch Lomond
  • O Holy Night (a little too long for Maverick, & I gotta sing it loud when I sing it otherwise I can’t pretend I’m auditioning for church choir solos. I’ll save this one for later)
  • In Ancient Egypt (a made-up song – here’s the “sheet” music & lyrics)
  • Sleep, Baby, Sleep (I made up my own melody for this, but I think there are others)
  • Peace Like a River (don’t I wish)
  • Ring Around the Moon
  • Scarborough Fair
  • a mutant version of I Love the Mountains (either I wasn’t taught the right way, or I heard it incorrectly – I’m guessing the latter because that happens all the time)
  • You Are My Sunshine (Z doesn’t like this one, thinks it’s too sad because of the part where “I held my head and cried”)
  • Three Little Birds

Any suggestions? What did your parents sing to you? What do you sing to your kids or nieces or nephews or the little boogers in your life?

As My Houseplants Lay Dying

You know you’re getting old when you say things like, “Back when I was in college…” Usually with a nostalgic tone of voice, like when my friend KJoy was visiting and we reminisced about the amazing cream of cajun carrot soup we used to eat at this restaurant where we worked, Mulberry Street Pizzeria (in San Rafael. Smith Ranch Road. Go ye forth and try the soup).

KJoy: We used to eat so much of that soup!

Me: And the french bread! We’d have at least five pieces of it, which is like half a loaf, and just dip it in the soup…it’s amazing we didn’t gain fifty pounds.

KJoy: That’s because we were nineteen.

(To my nineteen-year-old self: ENJOY THAT METABOLISM WHILE IT LASTS, SISTA.)

But this post isn’t about metabolism. It’s about houseplants. And how, back when I was in college, I loved them and I could grow them and keep them and they were just lovely little points of green in my life. I even talked to them because I read somewhere that it helped them thrive. Of course, back when I was in college, I was in the Bay Area, and not in the Central Valley, which is basically a hair dryer and not conducive to growing much except cacti and tomatoes. When I moved back to the Hair Dryer, all my favorite plants died. I’ve replaced them with a few others, but now they’ve gotta compete with kids.

Apparently in my house it’s survival of the whiners, and guess what: houseplants don’t whine.

I no longer talk to my houseplants, but I think they are talking to me. Their message is loud and clear.