One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

So it’s happened.  After my years of boasting how healthy my children were (not discussing the Dude’s Era of Ear Infections), I’ve had yet another first as a mom:  flu.  Dammit.

But wait!  There’s more. To make the occasion even more memorable and special, we also had a stomach virus.

Felix was the first to get wonky.  He woke up early Monday AM raving.  He felt hot so I fed him meds and we went back to sleep.  By the time school came around (I was at the office), he seemed absolutely fine.  Will sent them both off to school, staying home himself after because he was feeling puny.  When the school called me that afternoon, I wasn’t surprised – at first.  It wasn’t Felix they wanted me to pick up.  It was Stella, who had barfed all over the gym and then proceeded to fill up the trash can outside.  Will scooped them both up at the same time, just as Felix started falling ill again.

Stella got over hers pretty quick, only missing 1 complete day of school.  Felix was strange.  He would be OK during the day only to run hotter than lava at night.  Finally it was time to call in the professional.  Over the river and through the woods, to the pediatrician we went.  Flu was confirmed.  He’s only the 12th case out of 232 (just in that practice!!) that has had the flu after getting vaccinated.  That’s also why he wasn’t  completely miserable for the past 3 days, actually able to run around normally during the day.  Today he’s bouncing off the walls, hanging with his MyMom and watching plant documentaries.  He could’ve gone to school, but I wanted to really adhere to that 24 hour minimum no temp rule this time.  He’ll go back tomorrow fo sho.

I will say this: for 2 days I was rather vocal that there was no way Felix had the flu.  I mean, it’s been about 10 years since I’ve had it, but I remember it like it was yesterday.  You wish for death.  You can’t hold your eyelids open because they hurt.  Everything hurts.  That is not what my son experienced, thankfully.   If not for the shot, he may have had a much worse go of it.

So yeah.  Smartasses out there  will likely make snide comments such as “See?  The shot doesn’t even work,” and they can kiss my flu-free ass.  Because (knocking on all  the damn wood) I’ve been snuggling with my flu-ridden son all week and I’m well enough to tell the tale.

So the flu AND a stomach virus in the span of 48 hours.  What has me terrified now is what if the streams cross?  So far, the Dude’s stomach has been normal, and Stella hasn’t had any issues with fever or aches.  These woods are dark, deep, and strange.  We’re nowhere near the end of them.

Stay well out there, y’all.  It’s a doozy of a year for the sicknesses.

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Wins of Our Fathers

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my father is an incredibly competitive person.  He was very athletic all through college, particularly in baseball, and never lost that lust for winning.  Bless his heart, he then had 2 of the most unathletic children this world has ever produced.  He tried with my brother, bless his heart.  It wasn’t pretty for anyone.

In any case, just because I did not inherit any variety of athleticism whatsoever, does not mean that I dodged the competitive gene – I just happen to be very erratic with whatever it is I choose to be competitive about.  I can be downright insane.  I can remember classes in college – who could be the best geology major.  I was often at the top of that list (not that that’s done me a damn bit of good out here in the real world).  I kicked ass in micropaleontology.  I could memorize the taxonomy of all the major invertebrate paleo critters we studied.  No one could touch me.  I was a master.  Now I look at contaminated soil and groundwater for a living, ne’er a microfossil in sight.  Sigh.

Sorry.  Got sidetracked.

My competitive streak has reemerged here and there as a parent.  I go nuts every fall now during my kids’ school Wildlife Warrior Week making masks.  Y’all have seen that.  I’ve posted about it.   I get that way during awards presentations.  Yeah, my kid got all A’s.  I’ve already had to let go of that this year, as Stella got a B in math last semester, dammit.  That stung.  And I had no idea they did Student of the Month for pre-K, but I got pretty down when I saw that some other kid was picked and Felix wasn’t.  I know.  I’m nuts.  I’m owning that right now.

I mean, who wouldn’t love that face? That’s Student of the Month material if ever there was such a thing!

And y’all.  There is something new to go nuts about: Girl Scout cookies, or the selling thereof.  I have schemes, y’all, lots of ideas.  I’ve already been fussed at by Will for nagging him about my expectations for his role in this endeavor.  But he doesn’t understand.  There’s no time to procrastinate.  Cookies go on sale at 12:01 AM Friday. The man must move!  We Stella must sell a mountain of cookies!!

Ok.  Deep breaths.  I’ll be fine.

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Red Beans and Ice

Happy 2018, one and all.  How are things?  Did everyone make merry?  Make resolutions?  Make it through fireworks with all fingers and toes intact?

We are having a major event here: we are having winter.  Yes, yes.  Everyone gets winter at some point.  Typically ours means you may only have to run the AC in your home a few times a week during the afternoon, and you’ll spend the holiday season in shorts and flip-flops.  Down here we see the fashion magazines talking about “sandal weather” and chortle.  Every damn month is sandal weather for us.  You’d better keep those toes polished, girls.  We also see the cute Xmas pajamas that families can get so that they can all be matchy-matchy for cute yule-tide photographs surrounded by shreds of wrapping paper.  Yeah, we can’t do that.  Every damn pair of those cute matchy-matchy pajamas are fleece or flannel.  Surely these manufacturers realize that a huge portion of the country cannot wear those without suffering heat exhaustion.  Merry sweaty Xmas, you bastards.

Well, not this year.  In addition to our first real snow in 3 years, we’re having a brutal cold snap.  I read where it was actually colder here yesterday in Louisiana and next door in Texas than it was in Anchorage, Alaska.  That’s nuts.  And y’all up north are probably shaking your head at me right now, laughing at what wusses we all are fussing about 25° weather and remembering all those posts I’ve made bitching about how hot and miserable it is in August.  Yeah, yeah.  All that’s true.  But what folks fail to realize is that for the same reason we don’t buy your fleece matchy-matchy Xmas pajamas, we also do not possess appropriate clothing of any kind for this shit when it happens.  People down here don’t do “long johns.”  People here think “long johns” are prostitutes’ really tall dates.    We simply don’t need that stuff – except one winter in about 4 or 5.  Then we suffer.  Hell, I’d even wear matchy-matchy fleece pajamas to work at this point, bosses be damned.

It was so cold my kids didn’t even want to shoot fireworks. How festive.

My children have no idea what to do.  They fuss to go outside, as children are wont to do.  After about 35 seconds they come streaking inside, hollering about how their hands and feet hurt.  After 2 full weeks of largely-indoor togetherness?  We’re all a bit loopy, a bit cantankerous.  School starts tomorrow.  I’m glad.  On one hand I think it’s dumb to bring kids back Thursday and Friday only to turn around and give them a weekend.  On the other hand, I’m grateful other people can enjoy the company of my bitchy, stir-crazy children.

The Dude attempts to be merry and bright. His facial expression belies the cheer.

It looks like we should start to thaw a bit by Saturday, and be kind of more normal next week.  I’m crossing my fingers and frost-bitten toes that this is the case.

Stay warm, y’all.

Hell, I was so desperate I even took them to the mall (shudders in horror)

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Sphere and Now

So the holiday season is nearly over.  I’m sure that most of us feel a mixture of relief and sadness.  I’m always happy to see the Xmas lights go up.  I’m always ready to have my house back to normal, with just run-of-the-mill clutter.  I love the holiday feasting and the challenge of coming up with the ultimate oven schedule.  My digestive tract is happy to get back to more reasonable fare.  I love the anticipation of a loved-one opening a gift that I really feel good about.  My bank account is screaming in agony.  I love not having to pack lunches, lay out uniforms, and worry about homework every night.  My kids are driving me absolutely batshit with their bickering.  Y’all know what I’m talking about.

There were a precious few moments where they didn’t fight. A precious few.

Our Xmas was really rather nice.  I have somewhat a case of survivor’s guilt about that, as many people near and dear to me did not.  I daresay addiction and psychological/emotional disorders are second only to maybe cancer in their destructive potential.  That aside, my children were not ingrates (on Xmas day, anyway) – a nice departure from last year.  I received some things that made me smile.  I gave things that  made me smile bigger.

I had a pogo stick when I was a girl. I love seeing my own daughter bouncing.

The Dude always brightens up a place.

Now I sit here at my desk at work for the final time this year.  My 2017 wasn’t terrible.  I know I’m fortunate to be able to say that.  I hope 2018 is better.  I hope to find more balance – something I feel I lost towards the end of this year.  I want to make better choices around the house, the kitchen, at work.  I want to reclaim myself to the extent possible.  I want to be a better mom, wife, friend, self.    I want to finally learn to sew something other than square things.  I want to learn how to cook different things.  I want to learn stuff again.  I feel like I’ve quit learning this year and that scares me.  I want to have more time for this again.  In a strange and maybe sad way, this blog is my BFF.  I really don’t have time for friends IRL.  That’s ok.

The Ecosphere – One of my most favorite gifts this year.

Denizen of the Ecosphere keeping me company at work

Wherever y’all are, I send you the best wishes for the new year.  I’ll see y’all on the flip side – hopefully more regularly again.

XXOO,

L

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You Hit the Snail on the Head

As yet another example of “kids are weird,” I once more offer up my own darling spawn. To set the stage, after our extreme brush with winter, it has once again warmed up accompanied by rain. Have y’all ever looked at the pavement after a good, soaking rain? Little creepy crawlies come out in order to avoid drowning. It’s a thing, you know.

My driveway has been absolutely peppered with tiny snails. A head of lettuce wouldn’t last a millisecond. It’s pretty impressive.

My children – especially my daughter – have turned into expert snail hunters. Why is this noteworthy, you ask? Well this is the same child that has run screaming in terror from ladybugs and who would hold her bladder all day long in first grade just on the off chance that there was a bug in the bathroom. Now she’s allowing dozens of tiny, slimy gastropods ooze their way all over her hands and arms.

I don’t get it. Help me understand.

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The Seven Deadly Spins

How have you been?  Crazy weather, yes?  How about them Bears?

Sorry.  I thought I’d spare you the usual “I’ve  been so busy” spiel.  Suffice it to say, my blog brain feels like a zit about to pop.  So in stream of consciousness style, just to relieve the pressure, I offer you the following:

Will has been experimenting with our laser lights for the front of the house.  For a while, we had red and green ghosts, then bats.  Because what’s more festive than bats?  He recently changed it to just laser dots that swirl around and do fancy things.  Y’all, these things have startled me more than once.  I’ll be walking to the bathroom or doing dishes at the sink and I’ll see a red laser dot on my chest.  I suddenly feel like I’m in a Samuel L. Jackson movie until it turns green.  Then I think to myself: Oh.  That’s just the assassin elves again.  THAT would have been an interesting twist to Rudolph.  We think Hermy felt disenfranchised wanting to be a dentist.  Of course, Bumble wouldn’t have made it to the end of the show, so I guess the original is best, although imagine Samuel L. Jackson voicing Hermy!

We just had a big Xmas weekend.  We did our local zoo lights as well as a Xmas fair across the river.  My mom was there to hang with us, so that was cool.  Speaking of, we’ve actually been having something of a winter this year.  Yes, y’all, we had SNOW.  Now I know we became the laughing stock of the country, all of us freaking out and all.  But it had not snowed here since 2012.  We got about 4-5″.  That’s huge for us.  My children had never seen snow.  It was a big damn deal.  The down side is that we’re not used to or equipped for this.  We froze our asses off at zoo lights.  We made record time going through the displays.

The Xmas carnival was fun.  It’s one of those deals where you ride through to look at lights, then park so the kids can see Santa and then ride some rides.  They actually expanded it this year, and had some sort of extreme ferris wheel.  It was one of those things that spins so fast that the buckets end up horizontal and the wheel itself is at an angle.  We didn’t really check it out as well as we should have before climbing aboard.  Will (a ride wuss) rode with Stella and I climbed aboard with the Dude.  He just barely met the height requirement, but that’s ok, right?  Nope.  (Here’s the bit where I win the Mother of the Year award).  I didn’t see it until later, but apparently it reaches speeds of 45 mph.  My poor son was absolutely traumatized.  He didn’t scream or cry (that may have been better), but just hunkered down and froze. I’m loving it and laughing like a loon, but in the back of my mind I’m worried about Will and Stella and I’ve got an iron grip on my son – my poor little 4 year old son, whizzing through the frigid winter night at 45 mph in an open-air ride bucket on a ride that was likely put together by someone with a 3rd grade education.

Stella loved it, Will almost puked, and we almost couldn’t get Felix to ride another thing all  night.  Fortunately, Stella rode it with me one more time (actually twice – the professor running the ride forgot to take us off, so we got to go twice) meaning I could actually have fun.

But I’m done.  With my mom in town, I actually got to see Star Wars!  All the gifts have been bought, wrapped, and delivered (if necessary).  Meals are planned.  At work we just moved offices, and since A) it’s the holidays, and B) we all have to move again in 2 months, I’m not even bothering to unpack.  I did turn my huge wall of cardboard into the Wall in the North, complete with a wee picture of the Night King, Jon Snow, and an ice dragon.  They have handed me lemons at work and I’ve made Game of Thrones.

I’ll see y’all again soon. Promise.

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The Naming of the Shrew

My dad’s side of my family is rather famous for nicknaming people.  Everyone in our family had at least one.  One of mine was/is Bob, for instance.  Don’t ask.  As these things typically go, each nickname is rooted in some kind of silly story or with a personal characteristic.  My paternal grandmother was dubbed “Moose” by my father.  She was a tiny, beautiful  woman, but would often lament that she ate too much and felt huge.  Voila.  Moose was born.

Felix has recently developed an affinity for this.  During spats with his sister, he’s becoming quite the wordsmith.  She’s a “ding-dong head” or “stinky brain.”  He comes up with very interesting terminology for his “machines” that he’s building.  Today the Lawnmower Saw Machine had a Personality Switch.  Go figure.  And of course, the best name of all goes to me – his MyMom.

He’s come up with a name for one of his teachers that I’m having a really hard time not ROFLing about.  He has a primary teacher, Mrs. H, as well as a secondary “helper” teacher, Mrs. B.  It’s definitely a good cop/bad cop scenario.  Mrs. H tends to be more nurturing and laid back.  Mrs. B is the disciplinarian.  She’s very opinionated from what I can tell.  Felix has named her “The Evil Villain.”  Seriously.  Every time he refers to Mrs. B it’s as “The Evil Villain.”

Now normally I would pooh-pooh this and try to squelch it, but I’ve had several run-ins with Evil Villain at this point, and I cannot totally disagree with Felix’s feelings.  I guess maybe I never completely grew up with respect to people telling me what to do when A) they have zero authority to do so, and B) there is no logic dictating their demands.

Case in point, Evil Villain and I have been sparring about my kid’s lunchbox.  I try to pack stuff I think my kids will eat during the day.  So there is usually fruit, a protein (ham, pepperoni, beef stick), some pretzels or cracker-type things, a drink, and a dessert.  With Stella on her meds, I’m grateful if she has enough appetite to eat a piece of chocolate.  She will, however, eat like Caesar’s Army every morning and evening.  Felix would live on fruit.  Protein can be a challenge.  The little string-bean just loves his fruit and sweet stuff.

During my first conference with the Dude’s teachers when things weren’t going so smoothly, the Evil Villain had printed me up this brochure about the Feingold diet.  It’s this complicated diet plan, often marketed to ADHD families, which eliminates all sorts of food groups and additives.  It’s hard.  And while sure, it’s always good to eat as pure and clean as one possibly can, it’s just often unrealistic in my world.  I’ve done several Whole 30s.  By the end of those, I”m exhausted from food planning.  Anyway, this diet has a pretty large following, but if you research it, there are very few (if any) hard scientific studies which validate the utility of such a strict diet.  The Mayo Clinic, Harvard, and Princeton all  think that while sure, it’s a swell way to eat, there is no study which definitively states it’s good for ADHD.  Well, the Evil Villain just loves Feingold.  And wow, that one day when I sent a raspberry Zinger in his lunch box?  He just went crazy.  It’s all that sugar and red dye, doncha know.  I agreed not to send any more damn Zingers in my kid’s lunch box.

Until yesterday.

As I was going through his stuff after school, I noticed he hadn’t eaten his beef sticks.  I had packed a large container with fresh raspberries, strawberries, and sliced bananas, but the Dude had only eaten one bite of the beef stick.  That was really unusual so I asked him about it.   Apparently the Evil Villain had told my kid how awful and unhealthy those beef sticks were, and that he shouldn’t be eating them.

Y’all.  I was pissed.  I am pissed.  Who the hell is this woman to dictate what I feed my kid?  And if I want my kid to eat some damn beef stick along with the ginormous amount of fresh fruit I had packed, that’s my blasted prerogative as his mother.

I was good.  Despite my angst, I did not pack a Zinger today.  Instead, my daily lunchbox note depicted a cartoon of” V is for Villain.”  I’ll pack the damn Zinger tomorrow.

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Twist and Scout

Hello Blogness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again.

Sorry.  No excuses.  Just busy.  Always busy.  But I have missed y’all.

Since last we met, there’s been Halloween, a family reunion at the beach, and my Brownie troop’s first ever overnight campout.

I’ll start with Halloween.  Zombie Princess was once again joined by Bahama Frankenstein due to the very warm weather.  Note to self: from now on, ALWAYS have 2 costumes per kid – one for “normal” fall weather, and one for summer temperatures.  Oh, and I need a large assortment of colorful powder eye shadows.  The face paint used on both Zombie Princess and Bahama Frankenstein did not wear well in the heat.  But trick or treating was pretty epic.  The kids got so much candy that Felix had to heave his bag up on the kitchen counter with both arms.  They didn’t even bitch when I took some to work and we sent a huge bag of non-chocolate candy to school to be sent to soldiers overseas.  Candy for days, I tell you.

I just heart this so much.

The family reunion was an overall positive experience.  The weather was so good that we were all able to swim in the ocean as well as the outdoor pools.  I finally finally got to meet my brother’s kid – my 3 yo niece.  My brother and his wife finally got to meet Felix, and see Stella for the first time since she was barely walking.  My one regret was that we didn’t have one more full day.  I think everyone – particularly kiddos – was finally gelling when it was time to pack up and leave.

Cousins eating cake. What’s not to love?

And the campout.  What to say?  I’m so glad I was there.  It was absolutely stressful and I came home more exhausted than I’ve been since having young babies nursing all night.  We had 13 go.  After a full day of events and activity stations (joined by loads of other troops), we finally had the campground to ourselves along with a group of older Cadettes.  It was time for the campfire, hot dogs, s’mores, and drama.

It’s funny now, but at the time I had no idea what to do.  Due to a shortage of co-leaders and parent volunteers, myself and M (name truncated to protect the innocent) had the Brownies to ourselves, while our main leader N and a helper stayed with the Cadettes across the grounds.  By dusk, 3 were sobbing and afraid of the dark and one was sobbing because she missed her mom and dad.

Y’all.  I have heard of “mass hysteria” loads of time.  I got to kind of witness it unfold.  It’s really kind of fascinating, particularly now that I’m back in a nice quiet office.  Girl A would be very serene, having fun.  Girl B starts wailing.  Girl A – and you can see it in her eyes – starts reflecting on the situation, and has to decide if she needs to wail also.  It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure scenario.

You can’t reason with this.  Trust me.  I tried.  I tried hard.  By the time they finally fell asleep, about half had had some sort of serious emotional outburst.  I can’t tell you how many times I sprinted from my cabin to one of theirs to check that someone was not trying to “get them.”  But, there was only 1 11:30 PM walk to the latrines, so there’s that.

And if anyone out there is listening?  I need some kind of FBI hostage negotiation training.  These little girls started squabbling like mad by the end of the day, and this carried through until morning.  I felt like I needed a striped referee shirt.  “She said unkind words and hurt my feelings.”  “She said unkind words first.”  “I didn’t want her in my cabin. She’s not part of our group.”  “She came in our cabin first and she’s not in my group.”  “She woke me up.”  “She woke me up first.”

But you know what?  I’ll be happy to go again. I’m just glad it’s not until April.

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The Asphalt in Our Stars

I came home from work and carpool to find that the TV was left on and 2 different board games were left out all over the living room floor. One of the cats had used a game board for a scratching post, so I guess we’re playing extreme Chutes and Ladders from now on.

Not only do my children invent things to fight about, but now they invent “horrible” things to call each other.  They’ve been bickering and sparring since I picked them up today.  One of them called the other one a “snuffle-headed doody-face.”  What a blow.  I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t Felix calling his sister “asphalt,” which apparently is Dude-ese for “asshole.”  I’ve never been more grateful for a mispronunciation.

Felix has confessed that sometimes he pees on the bathroom rugs.  Really, kid?  Because things aren’t gross enough around here?

There are hundreds of gags and memes about moms and wine, but this is why those things exist.  This is also why my butt doesn’t shrink as much as I’d like it to.  It’s not stress-eating that kills my good intentions. It’s the liquid courage required to get through refereeing skirmishes and dinner and baths and homework and stories and bedtime after putting in a day at my crappy office.

Hope y’all have a peaceful night.  It’s wine o’clock here.

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Load on a Grecian Urn

No, no.  I’m not butchering Keats.  I am reflecting on power.  Often as a mom, wife, and household COO, I feel overwhelmed, powerless.  But that is not so, moms.  That is not so.

We have power – loads of it.  In fact, we all share one super power.  We are super loaders, fillers.  

For example, I am the one who:

  • Loads the dishwasher
  • Fills out permission slips
  • Refills the toilet paper when the cardboard tube hangs empty 
  • Loads the groceries in the car
  • Fills out camp and school applications
  • Loads the washing machine
  • Fills small bellies with the best food I can muster at any given time
  • Refills the soap dispensers when they’re empty
  • Fills the Lego bin with the Legos on the floor before they lodge in someone’s foot
  • Fills in nametags on Xmas and birthday gifts (after loading them into the gift box/bag
  • Fills in the calendar with doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, due dates
  • Fills out the homework sheets and reading logs 
  • Loads the big garbage can so I can roll it to the street
  • Fill lunchboxes everyday x 2

I also work in reverse.  I often:

  • Unload the dishwasher 
  • Unload the washer (while simultaneously filling the dryer)
  • Unload the lunchboxes to make sure nothing spilled/gets funky
  • Unloads groceries that I loaded in the car earlier

See?  That takes power, energy, balancing all the million little details every day, every week.  And that’s all on top of whatever else I/you/we have going on: jobs, marriages, friendships (when there’s time), and maybe even a few precious minutes for me/you/ourselves.  Hell, we would’ve refilled Keats’ stupid urn had we been there, amiright?

So pat yourselves on the back and revel in your power.  I shall try to do the same.

Eye miss nothing

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