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June 2012

In Order No Particular

Patrick turned 10 yesterday. Double-digits, baby, as he said before Sammy, Frank and Dino took him to the Sands.


Prior to about five minutes ago he was a complete pain in the ass for a couple of weeks and I began to wonder if we were spoiling him with all the non-dungeon living he was getting. Perhaps, I said to Steve after a particularly trying always, his disposition might improve if he spent some time with relatives in another state? Steve suggested a box in the back yard and we thought longingly of military schools. Like, on the Falklands. Then one morning I noticed Patrick's eyes were a little gummy and bloodshot. The next day he glared at me over his breakfast through a puffy purplish mask, looking sorta like a raccoon that had gotten a bad Botox. The day after that he added a headache to his list of morning complaints which had previously just included sunshine and the laughter of children. When he finally said he was going to throw up in the car I thought AH HA! Because, really, you don't have to hit me over the head with a series of now familar symptoms. 

Do you have a sinus infection? I asked.

I wouldn't be surprised, he snarled.

The next morning his doctor confirmed what should have been obvious to even the MOST NEGLECTFUL PARENT EVER and started him on a sulfa drug. Within two days he was pleasant again and today after art camp (bearing in mind that a day with the truly excellent art teachers at MCAD invigorates Patrick as if he'd been hit by lightning - good lightning - um, creative lightning) Patrick spontaneously kissed me. Kissed me! In line at the grocery checkout. Did I mention he's ten? I don't know if I have ever been so moved or flattered in my entire life. Granted he was then horribly embarrassed by his outburst and scrubbed at his face for, like, ten minutes afterward while describing the collage he's working on but... where was I? Oh right. Patrick had another untreated sinus infection for about a month and you'd think I would realize by now that being obnoxious seems to be his only outward symptom but I don't.

Anyway, happy birthday, Patrick, sorry you were sick and I threatened to send you to sleepaway camp in Alaska rather than seek the medical care you needed. Love you!


He has created two new characters: Count Vaca, Lord of the Cows and The Grumpy Old Little Boy. The foreign aristo shows up infrequently (today at the grocery store I asked Patrick to grab some swiss chard and he responded by saying, all French, "But what ees theese? You want that I should eat ze bushes? It is not to be supported!") The Grumpy Old Little Boy we get a lot more often, like when he looked at his birthday cake and muttered a grouchy, "When I was nine the cakes were bigger."

He was kidding - ha ha - and I find it hopeful that he is beginning to find humor in his own curmudgeonery.  On the car ride home from Minneapolis today he planned a series of Youtube shorts: The Grumpy Old Little Boy Rides a Pony; The Grumpy Old Little Boy Finds a Penny; The Grumpy Old Little Boy Gets a Christmas Stocking. He's really very funny.  

Edward. My beloved Edward. Does he LOOK sickly? DOES HE?


He got his second set of tubes (no problem at all. completely easy. Steve went out to make a call after we talked to his doctor post-procedurally and Edward was up and ready to go before Steve was done. I had to bang on the window of the surgical center to get Steve's attention so we could leave) and he was fine for a week until I noticed that a cough, nasal thing he's had seemed to be getting worse rather than better. I took him to the doctor this morning and Edward is now being treated (proactively until the results come back from the state) for pertussis. Pertussis aka whooping cough, which last I checked should have gone out with the whalebone corset. Our pediatrician said they are inundated with it right now and that he would be surprised if Edward was not affected based upon the exam. He did mention that the disease should be less severe since Edward's DPT vaccines are up to date but still... poor kid.

I am seriously unimpressed with the people in this educated, affluent, first of the first world part of the planet that choose, that deliberately choose, not to vaccinate their otherwise healthy children; thus placing new babies, and kids who cannot be vaccinated, and immune compromised people of all ages and, you know, Edward, at risk. Wikipedia tells me, for example, that pertussis is now an epidemic in Washington state. Nice. Well done, you dopes. 

We had a life is short and childhood is shorter and when do December birthdays get big outdoor presents moment and... well we pretty much blew Edward's mind and made him as happy as I have ever seen him. I mean, before he started coughing so much he didn't want to leave the couch.

We bought him his own set of wheels.




Technically it is for Caroline and Edward but she prefers to let him drive while she sits with a book in the passenger seat. Is this my fault? Nature? Nurture? Modeling? Imprinting? Maybe.



Caroline, meanwhile, is fine. Nary a cough or a sniffle. She certainly got the immune system between those two. Perhaps she scares away disease with her fierce karateness.




(Last one not so fierce but awww look at that wheel kick of joy)

Speaking of Caroline there are few things I enjoy so much with her as telling her I am going to take her picture and asking her to show me some moods.








The last one is my favorite.

We finally bought porch furniture - as you can see, thank you Target - after living in this porchified house for nine years. Then we got some bird feeders because I was suddenly embracing the whole outdoor living thing. Originally we hung the feeders on the porch and I wondered why everyone doesn't do this. Nature! Right there! Then nature flew in and got natural all over the railings and I said ohhhhhh and moved the feeders into the yard.


Nice right? Chickadees and sparrows and goldfinches and... Whatnot.

This is Whatnot.


I have been a lifelong fan of chipmunks and some of my happiest camping memories involve trying to coax one out of a hole but this little bastard is my new sworn enemy. Look at him there, daring me to squirt him with a hose.

Do you SEE how much bird food he's taking? See those cheeks?


How about now?


And not only is he shameless but he has an accomplice.


Caroline empties the feeder for him when he's too sated to move. I've started spraying the pole with Pam and it helps keeps the chipmunk from climbing up but I'm still not sure what to do about the fifth columnist there.

We have houseguests coming for two days tomorrow and then we are supposed to leave for vacation on Saturday. In the larger scheme of things our vacation plans are very insignificant but it so happens that we are going to the part of Colorado that is currently on fire. We're not sure what to do. The plan was to spend a night in Denver, a night in Evergreen, then two night with friends in the mountains outside of Colorado Springs (not evacuated but close) and then two nights in Colorado Springs (again not in an evacuated area but close.) All of this is of course dependent firstly upon Edward. He will be done with antibiotics by then and (one hopes) not contagious but 1) I'm not sure if he's up for travel and 2) we hear the air quality is really bad there right now.

So I guess I'll either be updating from the road or... not.

PS I don't mean to sound bitchy about vaccines. I get making decisions based upon the kid you have in the situation you are in (we staggered vaccines ourselves with the twins after Edward - hmmmmmm? - had a violent reaction following the 2 month shots) but to somehow conclude, what? It's healthier not to vaccinate? Like eating organic kale or not eating Twinkies? I don't get it. And yes we have a family friend whose daughter got a bad vaccine more than forty years ago and who has been institutionalized as a result since the age of five and YES that is AWFUL but... I don't know. I don't get it.


Patrick is attending cooking camp this week.

On Mars.

Seriously, or rather not seriously, but believe me when I tell you I drove eleventy thousand miles this morning because when I signed him up I had confused makai Eagan (inconvenient but manageable) with mauka Eden Prairie (you are here. now attach a PGM-17 Thor to the bumper of a Barbie camper. see where it landed? farther than that) and by the time I realized my error Patrick's soft eyes were already aglow with the promise of culinary adventure. Also what the hell else am I going to do with him now that school is out? Let him play Minecraft all day? Nuh huh.

He is studying pasta in the morning and desserts in the afternoon and in between I pick him up and take him out to lunch because I wrote the situation as a word problem and figured out that any attempt on my part to return home would result in my spending four (4) hours driving. Each day. Eff, as Disraeli said to the queen, that.

So far Patrick has rolled his own fettuccine and discovered that he dislikes cream cheese frosting (which is good because cream cheese is one of the billion things that contain dairy - I'll get back to that) and I have learned that the libraries are much nicer on this side of town but the YMCA is sadly dated. Also that I am incapable of remembering anything so yesterday I arrived at the track with running shorts but no shoes and about five minutes ago I realized that I should have charged my laptop battery. This might - by necessity - be brief, so plowing onward in no particular order.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of ours sold his old pickup truck and started looking for another. As he did so his wife mused that trucks are the sort of thing people should own cooperatively, since there must be other families beside their own who need that sort of thing more than once or twice a year but less than always. Friend said "!" and then "Oh hey Steve" and Steve said "!" and then "Julia I don't suppose" and I said I thought it sounded like a great idea. Because it does. We currently have two cars: a roomy one with heated seats; and another one that smells like goat and has a broken tail-light and a cracked windshield. I have long been angling to replace one of these two vehicles (quick. guess which one) with something more fuel efficient and less redolent of livestock but every time I suggested we might want to get rid of the Ford and buy a Fiat, Steve has clutched his bow and arrows and duck decoys and 2x10s to his chest and muttered about his passions and his need for payload. So I liked the idea that we could share a gas sucking squirrel squashing machine for purposes that I file under the general heading "Steve" and eventually move toward the purchase of a car that would enable me to go all hybrid and, uh, save the planet while driving Patrick to this same cooking camp next year (HA!)

Anyway. I said sure, sounds like a good idea, you guys have fun and assumed that the quest for a shared truck would end in several decades with Steve and his friend eventually buying one second-hand from Edward. Steve and I spent five years (no I am neither joking nor exaggerating) shopping for a dining room table (cough commitment cough issues cough cough his not mine obviously cough) so the idea that he could shop for a used truck with input from another human being in less than a Jovian year was laughable.

Imagine my surprise. The whole thing took less than ten days from Hey Steve to Sign Here. I credit the friend.


If you had asked me a month ago if I saw myself as part of a part owner of a pick-up truck I would have said no, not at all, but I like it. It's previous owner obviously also had a kid in cooking camp because it has 160k miles on it but it appears to be in good shape, it's diesel (there's your fuel efficiency right there, says Steve. snuh, says I) and it doesn't smell much, if at all, like goat. 

Edward the car fiend is BESIDE himself.



In this one he is explaining to Caroline for the millionth time that the truck has a turbo engine and she's saying, Eddybear. I. Don't. Care.

He forgave her.


In other... well, hell. Is any of this news? Not really. So, call a grape a grape: SEGUE

I started running again. If you've been around long enough you might remember that I interrupted two decades of profound inactivity five years ago when I started shambling around the Y track while Patrick had his interminable swimming lessons. I managed with considerable effort to get up to a slow two miles a few times a week, did an IVF cycle, got pregnant, was put on (HAPPY SIGH) bed rest and then that was it. Tried again a couple of years later, struggled pitifully, gave up. Tried again more recently, got horrible shin splints, gave up. 


For whatever reason (maybe the fact that I just threw away all of my summer trousers because they seem to have shrunk over the winter) I decided to give it another try. I went to a shoe store that sells running shoes and the nice young man told me that it was no wonder I was getting shin splints because my running shoes were designed for tap dancing or something. So I got better shoes and I downloaded the Couch to 5k 101 podcast and I'll be damned if I'm not on week 5 and running pretty well. I highly recommend it - although I wish I was able to buy it as an app on an iSomething rather than listen to it as a podcast on my beloved Creative Zen because the app lets you listen to your own music and right now I am suffering through the techno. I have not yet run 5 whole ks (ever in my life) but I am optimistic that I may be able to do so and am considering signing up for an official 5k somewhere, some time. I understand these things usually come with tshirts?

Battery is blinking red so I won't even pretend to arc. I have another day to kill tomorrow, though, so who knows? Perhaps I'll return with a point.

Two things from my drive:

A vanity plate on a Smart Car read RTHNU. It took me a while to piece it together and when I finally got it I laughed heartily at his wit. Then I accidentally squashed his tiny car beneath my wheels. Whoops.

You know those little stick person stickers that people put on the back of their cars so you know that the wife likes tennis and the husband has a briefcase and they have 2.6 children and too many cats? I saw a back windshield which depicted Dad, then a stick-person sized space, then a child. One can only assume he had removed Mom from the picture both figuratively and the other thing. This seemed kinda mean to me. Why not just remove all the stickers? I hope for her sake her little stick person is now adorning the back of a nicer car. One that doesn't smell like goat, for instance.

PS I will come back tomorrow, I swear it on my Garmin, but in case I do not Edward is getting replacement tubes on Friday. We've never done ear grommets without removing adenoids or, really, any ENT surgery without something massive like sinuses or tonsils. Is it an easier/easy recovery?