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.

Friday Five!

1. Starting in October (or next week maybe – I like to keep you on your toes), this blog is going down to one post per week. There isn’t time to write two to three posts per week, on top of everything I want to do with my fiction, on top of, oh yeah, real life family and friends. So what do you think? Wednesdays? Fridays? Any preferences?

2. Next week I’ll be judging pitches in Deana Barnhart’s “Gearing Up to Get an Agent” Blogfest/Contest. I get to use a secret code name and everything. I’ve never been a judge before, for, um, anything, and it’s thrilling to be able to help other writers like this! Last night we had a Twitter Question & Answer session (#GUTGAA hashtag), which was a lot of fun and I got to feel totally helpful even if I wasn’t.

3. I’ve heard the phrase “go big or go home” in three different places this week. Maybe it will become a Thing, like “NOT!” so long ago, or my favorite of this year, “just sayin’.”

4. Why do babies fight their naps? Because I would pay very good money to have someone put me in a crib all by myself to sleep for up to three hours. Just sayin’.

5. Tomorrow! Tomorrow is exciting for two reasons. The first is that I will be getting an actual hair cut for the first time in two years. This is not nearly as exciting as the second thing – Talia Vance‘s book launch! 4 pm at the Avid Reader in Davis. In addition to Talia speaking about her debut novel, Silver, authors Katherine Longshore (Gilt), Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky), and Donna Cooner (Skinny) will be there to speak about their books as well! It’s going to be a blast. Wear silver nail polish! Go big or go home!

The Challenge of Turning 30

The clock is ticking and I’ve got six months left of my twenties. I want to do them right.

The thing is, I feel like a kid most of the time. There’re all kinds of things I don’t know how to do or even handle, and so like the bibliophile I am I turned to a book. I (rather smugly) gave this one to Husband when he turned 30:

30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do Before Turning 30, by Siobhan Adcock.

Here they are (lifted from the back of the book) (with slight commentary as embellishment where necessary):

  1. wrap a present
  2. start a successful fire in a fireplace, at a campsite, and in a barbecue
  3. finish a piece of furniture
  4. get a raise (whahahaha!)
  5. order wine at a restaurant without getting stiffed
  6. parallel park in three breathtakingly beautiful movements
  7. dance a “slow dance” without looking like an idiot
  8. use a full place setting properly, including chopsticks and Asian soup spoons
  9. clean your place in under 45 minutes, when friends, relatives, or prospective lovers (hahahaha) are coming by unexpectedly, and soon
  10. hold your liquor
  11. cure a hangover
  12. do the Heimlich maneuver
  13. use a compass
  14. change a flat
  15. jump-start a car
  16. open a champagne bottle
  17. send a drink to someone’s table
  18. cook one “signature meal” (I’m shuddering in fear at this one)
  19. whistle with your fingers
  20. take good pictures
  21. fold a fitted sheet (those damn things are so annoying!)
  22. remove common stains
  23. sew a button
  24. carve turkey, lasagna, and birthday cake
  25. hold a baby (hahaha!)
  26. change a diaper (if only I didn’t know how to do this)
  27. keep a plant alive for more than a year
  28. make dogs and cats love you
  29. help someone out of a car
  30. write superior thank-you notes

The rules for my challenge are simple. I have until my thirtieth birthday. I’ll write here about my successes and failures. I’ll try not to burn down any cities (#1–whoops, Dana pointed out this should be #2, not #1), bite off my fingers (#19), or make everyone else’s pets move to my house (#28). As much as possible, I’ll stick to my regular blog posting schedule, but if I have Breaking News, things might get switched up a bit. Breaking News will not include items I feel I already have proficiency in (such as keep a plant alive for more than a year, hold a baby, change a diaper, and a couple of others).

Wanna join me? No age requirements. You can be 30, close to 30, or nowhere near 30 (on either side of the number).

In totally unrelated self-promotion, come by on Friday for an interview with Vintage Veronica author Erica S. Perl, and my first ever Giveaway Awesomeness.

My Tiny Secret

Some of you may know that I don’t like a lot of noise. Most of you probably know that I’m essentially a selfish person. One thing that I always knew about myself was that having children would be a real challenge based on those other two things about myself.

A few years ago, after climbing during a kid’s birthday party at Rocknasium (a climbing gym in Davis), I wrote in a card to Husband: “Children should not be seen or heard.” At that climbing birthday party they were all over the place, shrieking and laughing, having a blast, and nearly getting tangled in our climbing ropes and killing us all.

But it’s the noise that bothers me most, even more than near-death experiences from great heights.

At the baby shower some friends threw for Z, my friend B-Dawg gave me a pack of earplugs as a sort of joke.

There is nothing funny about these earplugs. I depend on them. From her very first day On the Outside, Z’s screams of rage, her cries of pain, and her shouts of joy have been too much for my eardrums to handle. Her mighty roars make my brain tremble inside my head. Whenever it’s too much (which is often), I use earplugs to dull the noise and am able to barely tighten my grip on sanity.

So here’s my secret: At all times I have a pair of earplugs tucked inside my bra.

Sexy? No. Practical? Oh, yes.

My Friday Five

A Friday Free-for-All

1. I really do love Sarah Dessen’s blog. There usually isn’t anything particularly helpful in it, which I like in a blog (as you can probably see if you’re reading mine). Hers is entertaining. Sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, and sometimes way too true, as she is also the mother of a toddler. Because imitation is the finest form of flattery, I’m stealing her Friday Five idea and using it today, because there are too many bits floating around in my head. [Sidenote: if you want to explore her books, my two favorites are The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby.]

2. My friend and Birthday Buddy, Cora, is not yet a year old and she is already facing her fourth surgery. At least, I think it is her fourth; I have to admit I have lost count because there have been extra trips to the hospital not involving surgery. I bet her parents could tell you without any thought at all how many surgeries Cora has had. Right now, Baby Cora needs to get her nourishment through an IV, and hopefully in a few weeks she’ll have gained enough weight to be strong enough for the next surgery. I don’t want to share details here because a) I’m terrible at medical details, being so swayed by the emotional aspect, and b) Cora is not my baby so I’m really not at liberty to share her information. At any rate, please pray for Cora, or send positive thoughts to the Universe, or virtual hugs to her and her parents, or whatever it is that you can do right now for her. She is a special little girl who does not deserve to have to go through this again. No baby does.

3. Um, it’s really hard to move on from Point #2. But let’s try. Z woke up around 2:30 and could not go back to sleep. She tried. I know, because she was in our bed and I was watching her. Z has always slept with us, from Day 1, and this was a conscious decision we made before she came home with us. I think, however, that even if we hadn’t made that decision, co-sleeping is where we would’ve ended up, anyway, since she screamed if she wasn’t with me. But back to my story. Finally, after watching her flip and flop and almost ruin her chances of a sibling with some of her kicks towards Husband, I asked her if it was her diaper. She actually said yes. So I picked her up, changed her diaper, then rocked her and sang through our current lullabies twice (“All the Pretty Horses” and “Ring Around the Moon”). Then I waited a half hour for her to fall asleep in her crib, sneaked back to my room (hmm, “snuck” comes underlined red with spell check). The creaking floors must have given me away, because she woke up and I had to do the wait-by-the-crib routine all over again. I’m a freaking hero, okay?

4. I hit the Big One with the library hold list this week. Usually I get one or two books at a time–totally manageable. Right now I’ve got eight of them, all taking up space on an already-crowded bookshelf. Then yesterday: a message that five more are just waiting onĀ  me. Here’s my list:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, audio recording (I LOVE this book!)
  • A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (finished on Thursday; I had the feeling I’d already read it though)
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (D-Chan’s been trying to get me to read this for years)
  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (MG book, random interest)
  • Accents: a Manual for Actors by Robert Blumenfeld (I’m terrible at accents, but so curious)
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman (author is a literary agent who has published numerous books and articles on writing and querying)
  • Gone by Lisa McMann (may as well finish the trilogy)
  • My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent (reading now. Love her Werecats series. Unimpressed with this one)
  • The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp (hated the baby one, but friend said this one is better)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (might be terrible–who knows?)
  • The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (ditto the above parenthetical comment. We’ve got to take a chance occasionally)
  • Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (I’ve been on hold for months waiting for Shiver–buy more copies, library!)

5. Although it isn’t official yet, since the “official” first day isn’t until tomorrow, spring is here. From the seeds I planted last week, the lettuce has already sprouted. The weather is warm enough I can go without socks around the house, and Z and I have resumed our morning walks. Everyone seems to be happy about this, and I’m wondering: is anyone sad to see the end of winter?

I’m barely proofing this thing in my rush to get it out. Hope it’s okay…. And happy Friday!

Number Two

Number Two is a popular topic. It’s talked of between Husband and me, amongst all the play group moms, with the grandparents. Who has one, who wants one, who–oops!–made one accidentally.

It’s really too bad that my euphemism for a second child is also the euphemism for defecation. The two are very separate in my mind…mostly.

The thing is, I finally feel like I’ve gotten a handle on this whole being-a-mother thing. On a good day, that is. Only on a very good day. I’m tired all the time, still don’t get enough personal space or enough time to write, and frankly, I’m a very cranky person. Adding a new baby into the mix sounds like a batch of the terrible pumpkin bread I made one time when I mistook the teaspoon abbreviation for tablespoon on the recipe and put in way more baking soda than required. You see? More is not necessarily better.

On the other hand, I loved being pregnant. And this isn’t as uncommon as you might think. What’s not to love about being huge with purpose and able to eat pretty much everything in sight? There’s a surprise inside, a little being growing, just by virtue of your own existence. For awhile, you are not one, but two. I loved the head trip of the whole experience, not to mention the Dairy Queen trips. (Yes I know ice cream is not the best fuel for growing a little body, but try telling me that when I’m in the third trimester and see if you keep your limbs.)

On the third hand (the one I took from you when you suggested I back off on the Dairy Queen Blizzards), Z could totally use a little playmate. A) I could get away with even more slacker-mom time, and B) her demeanor just begs for more people, all the time. She’s a little extrovert. I’m still puzzling over where she got that personality disorder…er, I mean…trait.

And on the fourth hand (the one I took from Husband when he couldn’t drive me to Dairy Queen that one time, so I had to drive myself and stand in line by my pregnant self and feel very self-conscious of what a bad mom-to-be I was), Number Two can be anybody. With my luck, Number Two will sleep even less than Z does. And s/he could scream even more, if that’s humanly possible. While I dread it now, I would feel the same as I do with Z. She’s aggravating, sure, but I’d never send her back. And that’s how it’ll be with another child…if Husband ever talks me into Number Two.

The Nap

story-books and lullabies

hush, my baby, don’t you cry

all the pretty little horses–

lids fall, lashes long

soft breaths, gentle-strong.

up too early?

too darn bad, it’s back to sleep.

mommy needs

her sanity.

hold my breath, afraid to gulp

the second phase is harder earned

ten minutes on tip-toes

climbing moves, grasping doorframes

avoid the squeaks in the old-wood floors

ah, peace, safe downstairs

for another fifteen minutes.