Sunday, January 18, 2015

Chocolate Chips. LOTS of 'em

I've become, perhaps, a bit overconfident recently, believing that we were HANDLING the Old Testament scale of our family. We were handling the s*** out it. I mean, just yesterday, we managed three separate kid activities, two that happened simulataneously, and still managed to clean out the garage, give the children multiple hours of good old fashioned outdoor unstructured playtime, and still have dinner together at a sit down restaurant that we all enjoyed, EVEN THE PEOPLE SITTING IN ADJACENT BOOOTHS. BOOM.

But just like when Icarus flew too close to the sun and got burned to a crisp, we flamed out in SPECTACULAR fashion today.

Today began with us dropping Charley and Wes off in front of the church because I thought if I heard one more song altered to include the words "fart", "poop", or "butt" that my head was going to shoot right off my body and explode like a Roman Candle. They scampered off to Sunday School and I parked the car without having an anyeurism. Win win.

We (foolishly, possibly, but it was so, so good as always) hung out for an hour or so after church talking to our friends while the kids ran around the courtyard outside. This meant that we had to cram a trip to Lowes and a weekly grocery store trip in along with lunch and Mary's nap to about an hour-long period between when we got home and when we had to leave again. Ryan slapped together some lunch while I managed the grocery store. I only had thirty-five minutes and I would have made it too except they moved the fish sticks to a different part of the store and I lost about ten minutes trying to figure it out based on some bad directions from the sample lady. I have a thing with Being On Time, so this was possibly much more stressful for me than the situation warranted.

When I got home we had exactly five minutes to gather all the children into their various cars, wrap two birthday gifts, load up all the Cub Scout stuff into Ryan's car, unpack the groceries, put the cold stuff away, and wake Mary up and unceremoniously stuff her into her car seat. She was quite screamy but I thought lunch and some fun party playtime would help. I was wrong.

Mary whimpered all the way to the party, which was at an adorable local playplace. James and Wes quickly settled in, raiding the juiceboxes (important later) and climbing up the pretend tree house in the corner. Mary ate her lunch (pasta and sauce) with her hands because I didn't have a fork, then screamed with real tears in her eyes when I attempted to put her down next to an inviting basket of multicolored balls. She screamed all the way to the car where I took her to change her diaper, thinking maybe that would make her happy. I asked her what she needed and she sniffled "Papa". Awesome.

It was shortly after we got back inside that James had his first emergent potty visit. Kid just can't hold his Capri Suns like the older kids. He made it that time, and the time after that, when we had to run in from the playground, and the time after that when we all came in from the playground for pizza. But he didn't make it the time after that when I became momentarily distracted by talking to a friend and assumed that after four visits he could find the conveniently located child-friendly bathroom himself. I left Mary sitting on a stage eating Goldfish off the floor with vague instructions to my friend to give her more Goldfish if she got fussy and ran out to the car to look for an extra pair of pants for James. The only pair I could find was a pair of sweatpants in size EIGHT. BUT THEY HAD A DRAWSTRING, SCORE! I took the pants back inside, checked Mary's Goldfish supply, and led James back to the bathroom to change where HE WENT TO THE BATHROOM FOR THE SIXTH TIME IN SEVENTY FIVE MINUTES.

In the next thirty minutes he had two near poo accidents that I averted only by dropping everything and RUNNING him back there when I noticed him frozen on the kiddie dance floor with a thousand yard stare, hanging onto his bottom. We honestly would have gone home early if not for the promise of delicious delicious sheet cake. I heart birthday cake.

Meanwhile, Mary was busy making sure I developed scoliosis by refusing to let me put her down continuously for nearly an hour and a half. She finally consented to sit on the stage with her Goldfish long enough for me to take James to the bathroom, check on Wes, who was having a lively pool noodle battle with an old preschool friend, and have a brief conversation. I was starting to relax when Mary suddenly stood up and FREAKING WALKED. She walked over to a table where another little girl was reading a book. I thought she was going to pick out a book and sit down to look at it but instead the baby who has never willingly taken more than five consecutive steps in her life PICKED UP A PLASTIC HAIR, HELD IT OVER HER HEAD, AND ATTEMPTED TO WALK BACK ACROSS THE ROOM TOWARD ME. This was FREAKING AMAZING and I held my breath waiting to see what would happen. She made it an astonishing TEN STEPS before, in slow motion, she keeled over backward and hit hear head on the (carpeted) floor. The chair hit her square on the cheekbone and left a nice mark. I had to run her to the back of the playplace lest the hysterical screaming drown out the Happy Birthday song. A piece of cake helped her calm down. Just like Mommy already.

I was delighted to make it home with no further incidents. Looking forward to relaxing and eating the dinner Ryan was working on I walked into the living room to find Charley reading on the couch. He slowly lowered the book and said "I lost a tooth." I was right in the middle of getting all excited for him when Ryan poked his head around the corner and looked at me with the Look of Consternation. "Is this...bad?" I asked nervously. He nodded.

Apparently, while Ryan was cooking, Charley and the two kids next door were playing in the (completely dry) retention "pond" near our house. They are not supposed to go near this huge concrete storm drain on one side of the pond, because if you go near it you might do something stupid like, ATTEMPT TO CLIMB A CONCRETE WALL, SLIP, BASH YOUR MOUTH, AND KNOCK OUT ONE OF YOUR TEETH. FREAKING HELL. The way he fell meant that our neighbor, who happened to be outside, had to climb over something and help him get out because he was stuck? was going crazy? (details are hazy because I heard everything from two people with XY chromosomes). Ryan came on the scene moments later to find Charley looking absolutely mortified. Ryan thinks LOSING A TOOTH will teach him the consequences of not following our rules, but I am considering never allowing him to leave the house again. MISSING TEETH have a way of causing me to lose my perspective and sense of reason in these matters. Thank goodness it was a BABY TOOTH.

We were going to go hiking tomorrow but now we are going to the dentist. And the liquor store. And then I'm going to put on a movie. Or six.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Flippity Flappity Floo

I know you are all wondering how the #flap is doing. I got back from my conference on Thursday afternoon but saved the trip to after hours to have the stitch removed for Friday because the kids wanted to watch. So Friday I picked everyone up at school, drove to the clinic so everyone could watch the doctor cut the stitch out of my thumb, then we bought pizza and went to the grocery store.

Things looked like they were healing up nicely for a little while, meaning there was no flap, but more recently the freaking zombie flap has come back. I think it's DYING based on what the original doctor said MIGHT happen when she originally sewed it up and the fact that IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS DYING. And I would just, you know, carefully remove it, except that the back half is attached to a robust section of LIVING SKIN. So it remains in a disgusting kind of flap purgatory until something happens to force the issue, like I get careless and rip it off by accident or it shrivels up and disappears. Clearly the second choices is more appealing to me, so I've been keeping a bandaid on a lot, which makes texting kind of a nightmare.


So, how'd your talk go, you might be frightened to ask... It was...fine. The talk itself went well and I got some good feedback but after spending seven hours sitting on my hotel bed Tuesday afternoon before dinner and several more after a lovely Thai dinner with an old friend and colleague and also some wine, let's be serious, it was clear that I really REALLY had a lot more work to do in the way of understanding the problem and data and experiment. This is what ten hours of research panic does to a person by the way:

I made good on my promise to pick up sushi after my talk and I bought so much food that they gave me two pairs of chopsticks and then went back to the hotel and gorged myself while sitting criss-cross on my bed in front of the TV. Also I spilled soy sauce all the hell over the place.

And then I took a thirty minute shower and used an obscene amount of the wonderful Aveda shampoo and conditioner the hotel provided just because I could. And after all of that it was only nine o'clock so I went to bed. GLORIOUS.

BUT IT WAS SO GOOD TO GET HOME THE NEXT DAY LET ME TELL YOU. Even the endless supply of Aveda haircare products couldn't compare to the way Mary's entire body shook with joy when I walked through the door or the way the boys tackled me in the foyer. Mary didn't let me put her down for over an hour. James kept looking at me and laughing then running over to kiss me. It was GOOD, you guys.

Other tidbits:

Wes started soccer! He SMILED for LITERALLY the entire game today. Wes LOVES SOCCER. He might still be wearing his shin guards tonight while he is sleeping. Also today, Charley had a pinewood derby car race for Scouts. Both things happened at the same time, so Ryan went to the race and I did soccer.

James has taken an interest in cooking ever since we gave him a kid-proof knife for Christmas. He and I made tortilla soup last weekend. You'll be happy to know that I cut the onion without further dismembering myself.

Finally, THIS IS HAPPENING. The final, last, for sure last, baby ever to live in this house is starting to WALK. She is still rather unsure of herself and will only walk about five steps in a row under extreme duress, but she can stand in one place for MINUTES at a time. I cannot help but mentally extrapolate this development several years down the line to a day when we are done with diapers and sippy cups and reading stories at night and long afternoons playing in the front yard and NOPE, this line of thinking is why we have Mary in the first place. So I am just enjoying it and thinking about what a cool kid she is turning into. Tonight at dinner we all raised our glasses for a toast to Charley's successful nursing home piano recital and she picked up her plastic cup and joined right in. She loves dipping her food in things, which she learned the night we had French dip sliders for dinner (tonight she kept trying to dip her quesadilla in the salsa, which was far too spicy for her, so I made an offhand suggestion that she dip it into her beans instead AND SHE DID IT because she KNOWS WHAT WE ARE SAYING. TRIPPY.


Babies like Mexican food.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mind the Flap

I have an hour until my presentation and I am here in an attempt to stop myself from having a full-on panic attack about it. The data are not looking as good as I had hoped and I don't have a chalkboard to help me explain anything better, but HEY! The thumb flap turned from white back to normal thumb color so HURRAY! I will not be permanently disfigured!

What else... let's see... OH! The first night I was here I was having dinner with my workshop people and having a very nice professional conversation like a grown up when someone said something I wanted to remember and I got out my phone to jot it down. Only when I turned it on I had a text from Ryan: "Wes 103.1."


By the time the entrees arrived Ryan had orchestrated a nurse phone consultation and urgent care visit for the next morning and I had arranged for my mom to come watch the other kids. I did this all under the table while pretending to participate. Special.

THEN, just as I was turning off my computer for the night, I had an email from Ryan showing Wes with a hugely swollen neck. HE LOOKED LIKE A BOXER. Apparently the doctor had seen the neck swelling and told Ryan it was NBD. But seriously. Ryan barely talked me down from getting the first flight home. BARELY.

I've been spending my nights and all afternoon yesterday putting the finishing touches on this freaking project, taking breaks to have fun dinners with old friends/colleagues that I know, where I can't escape talking about rain and radar and return periods and LALALALA. I have not taken advantage of the cable in the hotel yet, but tonight is the night for that. I have big plans to walk straight from the meeting room where I'm about to be publicly humiliated, go straight to this sushi restaurant I found, get a BIG bag of takeout, then head for the hotel to order some wine from room service, then curl up with a Law and Order marathon and my textbook for this semester.

This plan is the only thing keeping me from vomiting on my shoes right now.

Did I mention I'm going home into AN ICE STORM? Should be neat.

Oh and I nearly crashed into Reference 1-4 from my talk this afternoon as I came out of the ladies' room. REALLY hoping he was on his way to the bar and not to my talk. And speaking of ladies' room, do you have any idea how hard it is to button up suit pants with one thumb while your shirt, suit jacket, and name badge are in the way? Why does everything have to be so hard??

Saturday, January 3, 2015

News from the desert (not the dessert, sadly)

Let's see, where were we?

I will tell you about our great Christmas later, but right now I am in Phoenix ALONE for a conference.  THE conference that has been stressing me out like nobody's business for the last couple of months.  And no the project is not completely done, but it is close enough and I have until Wednesday afternoon before I have to present SO STOP BUGGING ME ABOUT IT.  Kidding.

The reason it is not more done than it is is because our entire family has been felled by what I like to call The Plague.  It started with me.  I was struck down while we were out of town visiting Ryan's family.  What started out as "bad allergies" quickly morphed into "uh oh."  And I spent the next two days in bed in our hotel room debating whether I had the energy to walk the two-hundred yards to the adjacent grocery store for a cup of soup (answer: nope).

I started to feel marginally better around the time we left to come home, but missed a really fun visit.  Meanwhile, Wes came down with a giant fever of doom the night before we left to go home.  I knew when I saw him asleep in the fetal position on the living room floor at five o'clock that something was amiss and sure enough, he had a big fever.  James is sick too.  The night we got back he was up until midnight screaming with ear pain.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

And then on New Year's day I nearly cut the tip of my thumb off while slicing an onion for some chili I was throwing together for dinner. Ryan was upstairs vaccumming and because I lost my brain and ambulatory abilities in addition to a bunch of skin on my thumb, I stood in the kitchen yelling stupidly for James to "GO GET PAPA! GO GET PAPA! GO GET PAPA!" while I held a dubiously clean dishtowel to my bleeding thumb. Ryan finally heard all the commotion and came running downstairs. He got everyone in the car, dropped me off at urgent care, picked up a pizza, went home to feed the kids, SLICED UP THE REST OF THE ONION AND PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE, then came to pick me up after they stitched me back together and gave me a tetanus shot. It was a great moment, you guys. The best part is that I get to walk around all week with a piece of string sticking out of my thumb and firm instructions to "Don't bump it, don't catch it on things, don't get it too wet or the FLAP WILL DIE." GAG GAG GAG. Yesterday, I followed those instructions TO THE FREAKING letter as I managed multiple in/out of the car trips with associated buckling/unbuckling/carrying/lifting, several loads of laundry, and yes I finished the chili. Things aren't looking too good for the flap. THUMBS UP!

Today we got up early and everyone took me to the airport for my flight. Instead of working in the gate area I breathed through my nose and tried not to ugly cry TOO much. I do not like leaving by myself, contrary to what you might expect. And Wes was still sick. And Charley was visibly crushed that I was leaving. And they start school on Tuesday. And I am terrified about All The Professional Things which will be required of me in the next few days. It was haaaaard, you guys. But then I called after we boarded and everyone was having a lovely time playing xBox at an electronics store. I think they'll be alright.

My flight was fine, well, it was fine once I got my carry on in the overhead bin, which required removing a giant fistful of my incredibly sexy Hanes cotton underwear and a hot pink sports bra from the outside pocket of my suitcase and cramming it into my backpack in full view of the back half of the plane. It took a couple of tries to get the bra completely tucked away because I had to be careful of my thumb flap. You definitely want to travel with me.

After we landed I took a very easy light rail train trip to get to my hotel because it was only $2 instead of the $25 cab ride and I figured had a similar record in the abduction/murder department (which is to say, LOW RISK unless you watch too much Dateline like I do and then you will know that Phoenix is near the desert, which is where ALLLLLL the bodies end up). Thanks to a friendly law student with blue hair that I befriended at the ticket kiosk, I got off the train about ten feet from the door of my hotel. WIN. And then I found the CVS for my forgotten dental care items and a Chipotle for my lunch and took a really amazing shower and now ALL IS WELL. Except now I have to work. Like a lot. And not go ice skating at the place I found down the street. Or watch HGTV all afternoon. Being a grown up is kind of the pits.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Life Skills: I has them.

Fun facts for you: If you have, say, a child's therapist appointment that is at a weird time because of the holidays, and you are responsible for taking your child to that appointment, and the therapist's office is a fifteen minute drive from your house, then you might consider setting up your Google calendar to remind you about this appointment MORE THAN TEN MINUTES IN ADVANCE.

Because then you, unlike me, will not be forced to shriek "OMG WE HAVE TO GET IN THE CAR RIGHT NOW! GO LIKE FIREFIGHTERS! GO GO GO GO!" as you hurl Crocs at them and scoop up the baby while you throw your phone in your bag and slip your own shoes on while running outside and debating whether there's time to lock the front door or not. You will not have to commit numerous moving violations while you "OK Google" the therapist's office number so you can call and apologize profusely for being what you hope will be ten minutes late and praying that the quarter-mile you have to drive on the horrible interstate will not take thirty minutes. Or an hour. Or overnight.

And you will not find yourself sending your child RUNNING from the car into a therapist appointment, BAREFOOT, ALONE, AND TEN MINUTES LATE, then appearing yourself, five minutes later, to hastily stash the other kids in the waiting room and then awkwardly plunk down on the couch, still wearing your coat and purse and holding a baby who, while adorable (and also not wearing shoes), is sporting what is possibly the most disgusting, fragrant, poop diaper ever known to mankind. Also you might be out of breath. And completely flummoxed when the doctor asks how the last two weeks have been. For your child. Because you BOTH KNOW HOW IT'S GOING FOR YOU!


Ryan met us there and afterward we went out for hamburgers then drove around looking at Christmas lights. BECAUSE WE ARE A CLOSE, LOVING FAMILY WHO NORMALLY REMEMBERS IMPORTANT APPOINTMENTS AND MAKES THE CHILDREN WEAR SHOES IN THE WINTER (USUALLY WHEN WE ARE NOT IN A HURRY) #crocsaretotallyshoes.

The restaurant we always go to only has four-person booths, which means kids' table plus DATE NIGHT. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

I mean, unless you count Wes's soda fountain cocktail of orange soda, root beer, and Sprite all swirled together in the same cup. That is SO wrong.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dull Moments Are for Suckers Anyway

Never a dull moment around here, you guys. Never. A dull. Moment.

Wes complained yesterday morning about being itchy and not wanting to get ready for school. Since he never wants to get ready for school I stuffed him into his uniform anyway, cajoled him into eating a cinnamon raisin bagel, and sent him out the door with a chipper "HAVE A NICE DAY!" before settling into my second cup of coffee and hour twenty-nine of operation "it's too early in your career to be withdrawing papers from national conferences."

When I picked him up he and Charley ambled into the car and before I drove off Wes's teacher approached my passenger side window and told me "Wes is COVERED in red spots. I took him to the nurse and she said it looks like dry skin, but I thought you would like to know."

Wes piped up from the back seat "Yeah, Mom, I'm SO ITCHY. It was distracting me from my WORK!"

Wes had a scratching conniption all the way to the little kids' school. He clawed at his pants and ripped off his shoes and growled loudly in frustration. I did that thing I do where I laugh nervously when something cuh-razy is going on because WOW. When we arrived at the preschool, I parked the car and asked him to come up so I could take a look at his spots. I thought we'd go home, have a little Benadryl, have a little lotion, eat some cookies, read some books, go to bed, NBD.

Then he got up to the front where I could finally get a good look at him. I took one look at his face then exclaimed with horror "OH MY GOD" then frantically lifted his shirt and pantlegs and made him turn around. His chest and back were covered in one huge hive. His legs and feet were completely red and covered with bumps. He had two bright red welts on his forehead and one between his lip and nose. HE continued to whimper and claw at his skin.

Does not do justice to intensity and coverage of angry red welts.

I left him thrashing in his seat, scratching furiously, while I called the doctor and made him an appointment for that very afternoon and called Miss N to ask her to pick up the little kids. Then we drove to a Walgreens where Wes went inside BAREFOOT because his feet were so itchy he couldn't wear shoes. We scratch scratch scratched our way through the store, to pick out an after school snack and to get some children's Benadryl. Add "Leading barefoot, rashy kid through Walgreens to buy Benadryl" to the list of parenting experiences you never knew you would have

Also, psychosomatic symptoms are REAL. I'm itchy just thinking about yesterday. Scratch scratch. Scratchscratchscratchscratchyyyyyscratch.

Back in the car I ripped open the Benadryl and gave him the maximum dose for his weight then took pictures of his face, his back, and tummy so I could show the doctor and also text my friend C with whom I share my children's disgusting medical issues (She responded simply, "WOAH").

The Benadryl helped with the wild thrashy scratching and he was able to put his shoes on by the time we got to the doctor's office, where he was diagnosed with a shoulder shrug and given instructions to take Zyrtec through the weekend and Benadryl as needed for breakthrough itching. The doctor was very calm and matter of fact and obviously forgot to tell me to check his mouth and tongue for swelling every thirty minutes until morning, so I did that anyway, even after the itching calmed down. And THEN, because I am so rational and normal, I made Ryan keep checking him while I was at my party and even took some respectable clothes to put on in case I needed to meet him in the emergency room and didn't want to wear my pajamas (that I wore to the party) because just before I left the benadryl wore off and his face erupted in angry red spots again and this imaginary emergency room trip seemed like a near certainty, at least until the second glass of wine.

But before that I regaled all my friends with The Story About My Kids Rash, as soon as I hit the door, before even taking off my coat, because I have social skillz.

Epilogue: he was fine. FIIIINNE. Ryan texted me several times to inform me: "Breathing is clear, no wheezing" because he loves me and knows not to even HINT that I might be overreacting just a teensy bit when it comes to the kids and possible anaphylaxis. I had a lovely time with friends. And thanks to the school nurse's diagnosis of "dry skin" he was able to attend school today which is great because it is pajama day and party day and he would be a sad, sad puppy if he had to miss that.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Procrastination Edition

1. I need a bottle of wine to take to a Christmas party tonight. I think the only thing to do is drive thirty minutes out of my way to Whole Foods so I can eat Indian food off the hot bar after I pick out my bottle. I don't mean literally eat it off the bar, I mean put it in a box to be weighed, then take it home to eat with a fork like grownup. Maybe. Maybe that's what I mean.

2. Last night I only did one of the things I had to do (there were four-ish) and I still went to bed at 11:30. This means that today after school/work I have to make four dozen sugar cookies (dough is chilling in the fridge). Thank goodness tonight is leftover night. Also thank goodness tonight "Mom has her thing" which means I go to my friend's house and we drink wine and eat pie. Everyone's wearing their jammies tonight and also there will be presents. I think that will be sufficient to distract me from the gnawing guilt about not working on WORKY WORKY WORK ALL THE TIME WITH THE WORK.

3. In a way this is kind of a Throwback Thursday post because I haven't felt this much angst about a work project since finishing my dissertation in 2009. When Wes was an INFANT.

4. I am growing more and more concerned that this project will not be done (done enough) in time for the conference. My talk is near the end of the week, which is good, but I am currently wondering how many times I can say "This is very preliminary" and how many slides can be dedicated to "Future Work." Because IF EVERYTHING GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN I will have exactly two interesting graphs to discuss, which is plenty in a ten minute talk once I get through all the method stuff, but THINGS ARE NOT GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN. I finally sent a hail Mary email to someone at the NCDC a couple of days ago asking for advice on handling this one particular thing and to paraphrase his response "Wow. That's, uh, gonna take a really long time to do." And I am assuming because this person works for the NCDC as an actual real live employed person, that he does not have also have to bake four dozen cookies, attend four class parties, and work alongside FOUR CHILDREN every day next week. So his "really long time" feels like my "don't even bother."

5. Also not done? Christmas preparations of any kind. We keep talking about summoning Santa's Amazon Sleigh, every night this week, but it still hasn't happened because, as I mentioned earlier, we are both working our asses off and barely keeping our heads above water. I think the tonight might be the deadline without risking a "24 Hour Walgreens Christmas."

6. I should really take a shower. Going to work in my actual office forces me to try a little harder in the personal hygiene department but ever since I got an email from facilities suggesting I "bring a coat or blanket" if I plan to use my office during Christmas Break I've been working at home at my dining room table. The other problem with this arrangement, besides the stinkitude, is the unfettered access to refined carbohydrates of all kinds. Also we ran out of kCups.

7. I want to get Linux, but I just don't. I will now turn in my nerd card and go bake some sugar cookies.