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March 2015

Every Moment Is Such A Joy

"I'm booooored," Caroline complained from her bed on the couch. I rolled my eyes, turned off the water in the sink and walked into the living room - again.

"Would you like one of the new library books?"


"Would you like a book from your room?"


"Would you like some paper and crayons?"


"Do you want to listen to an audiobook?"


"Do you want your kindle?"


"Do you want to watch a movie?"


"Do you want to watch TV?"

"Eh, maybe. What do we have?"

So I went through the DVR list with her: Scooby-Doo, Octonauts, Strip the City, My Little Pony, Garfield, Phineas & Ferb...

"I watched them all yesterday."

"Caroline. There are..." I checked the screen, "Eighty-four My Little Ponys recorded. Eighty-four."

"I know!" she snapped "And I watched them ALL yesterday!"

So, hmm, half hour program, subtract ten minutes for commercials, multiply by irrational convalescent peevishness... yeah.

Good news! Caroline is feeling better.

And she is totally going back to school tomorrow.

PS Why in the name of all that is holy do we have eighty-four freaking episodes of My Little Pony saved on our DVR? Who set that recording preference? When I think of all the shows of Steve's that I have had to delete in order to accommodate my ever increasing football schedule (hey! why did no one tell me that there is some sort of UEFA 2016 Euro Cup for which there would be qualifying? I am going to have to record re-runs from this weekend - and I am telling you right now my heart is with Scotland.)

PPS For my beloved germophobes I am so sorry I distressed you with tale of ice cream sharing. I feel that way about snakes and can imagine what I would think if someone told me a story about how her kid did not want a snake but she handed him a snake anyway. I would drop dead.

It Might Run To Volumes

Last week while Steve was out of town I took the kids out for dinner. Towards the end of the meal Patrick escorted Edward to the bathroom and while they were gone I ordered an ice cream for the twins and two spoons.

When the waiter brought it to the table Edward waited until he left and then voiced a formal protest.

"I have to share? I don't want to share. I wanted my own!"

"Edward. That ice cream is enormous and you are being rude. I don't want to hear it."

"But you didn't ask me. You never ask me what I want. And I don't always want to share."

"You know what," I said. "You should start carrying around a little notebook with a tiny pencil attached to it. Then when I do something that displeases you, rather than complain about it out loud you could just scribble it all down in your notebook. Like: March 24th. Dinner out. Spaghetti and meatballs acceptable but forced by mother to share dessert. Unbelievable! Her thoughtlessness begins to appear calculated."

Edward stared across the table at me, his brow furrowing as he pondered this.

Then he said, "But what will I do when I run out of pages?"

1. This is why sarcasm is a feeble weapon in the parental arsenal


2. I turned to Patrick and said, "My new goal in life is to remember this moment long enough to tell Nana. She'll enjoy it."

Then I told Edward he had five seconds to say thank you and enjoy half an ice cream or ten seconds to say thank you and watch the rest of us eat it. His choice.

PS Caroline seems to be getting a little better. Still has a fever but it is more 102 than 104. I think this is promising and I still think it is the flu. Oh! And the rash disappeared as the fever came down.

And So On

Caroline's fever inched still higher today (105, a new house record I think) and when I noticed that she has started a rash on her neck and chest I took her to the urgent care, where we all agreed that she is one sick little kid.


My poor little tamale - she fell asleep on the table between her exam and the doctor coming back to let us know that the initial strep test was negative.

He tested her for mono and then added Lyme's when I suddenly remembered that we were at the farm three weeks ago and it was so warm we found a few deer ticks crawling on arms. Nothing embedded in Caroline but honestly deer tick are so small and Caroline's hair is so thick it would be a miracle to find one if it went for her scalp. Anyway, highly unlikely but worth checking. 

The mono test came back negative so he went ahead and put her on amoxicillin because: it still might be strep; if it is Lyme's they start with amoxicillin anyway; and random bacterial infections will respond as well.

My expectation is that she will be feeling significantly better by tomorrow, which means she will be a complete pain in the ass. Sick children are pitiful but easy; recovering children are peevish and demanding.

PS I still think it is probably the flu or a particularly stubborn tonsilitis but I did have a moment this afternoon when I saw that rash starting to creep across her collarbone and I thought yikes. Scarlet fever? Measles? Fevers, even really high ones, don't bother me but apparently I am a rash-o-phobe.

I Did Not Leave The House Today

For someone who has done nothing but lie on the couch all day like a little tajine, quietly simmering, Caroline has taken up an inordinate amount of time. I suspect it's the real influenza because her fever has yet to drop below 103 and all she does is sleep, snuffle and thank me for the ice water in a pitiful whisper.

Edward has been left to his own devices last night and for most of this morning so when I suddenly remembered that I had gotten a new Basher book for him (Chemistry) it seemed like the ideal time to let him have it.

"Oooooooooooh," he said and disappeared.

He popped up later and asked, "Can I do a little chemistry?"

"Sure," I said distracted by my efforts to get Caroline to eat something. "Fine. Whatever."

I forgot about him - more or less - until he wandered by wearing protective eye wear and clutching a petri dish filled with green... something.

"Edward! What are you doing!"

"Chemistry," he said.

Patrick called out, "It's ok. I've got him. Sort of."

"Well don't let him spill anything."


"Fine but make sure he cleans it up and don't let him stain anything."

More silence.

"Just don't let him stain anything of mine!"

"OK," they said.


My friend Noelle called this afternoon to check on Caroline and asked if Patrick was going to the school dance tonight. She offered a ride for him, if so.

School dance? I should really read the bulletins.

"Patrick," I said. "That was Noelle and she wanted to know if you're going to the dance tonight?"

"No," he said.

"Are you sure? Your friend B is going to be there."

"Oh, well then, yes. I'll bring my laptop."


"Patrick. My sweet love. You are not bringing your laptop to a school dance."

"Why not?"

"Would you dance at computer club?"


"You're not bringing your laptop to a dance!"

"Then no thanks, I'll stay home."

But a little later he came to find me.

"What do they do at dances?" he asked.

"Well, I don't know specifically. You should ask B since he has been to the other ones. But in general there is music and maybe some flashing lights and people just... dance."

"Like, waltzing and stuff?"

"No! You know the music they play over the speakers at the terrain park for the snowboarders? That. And people just sort of bounce up and down to it and maybe wave their arms around."

I demonstrated and hummed a little Black Eyed Peas for good measure.

"And they do this all together?" he made it sound like some kind of tribal ritual; which, I guess, it is but I think he was trying to establish if he was going to be expected to perform solo in some way.

"Yeah. All together usually."


Then he called his friend who said yes, ten out of ten, it's fun, he should totally come to the dance.

He went. And, since it is billed as a masked ball, he walked out the door carrying Steve's welding helmet.

I just sat here and thought about it - not the welding mask, that's pure Patrick - and realized that in the absence of Molly Ringwald I guess a person wouldn't know what a school dance was like until they went to one, would they? Also I now have a son who is old enough to be picked up by friends (well, friends' older brothers) and go to a dance.

How... odd.

PS Patrick took a picture for me. I looked at it and then asked about the broom in the background. He told me not to worry about it.


Virus Redux

I thought how pretty Caroline looked this morning when she woke up - her cheeks all rosy, her hair curling in damp tendrils upon her brow, her eyes bright and glittering with... oh.

She's been on the couch all day with a raging fever. I guess she picked up Edward's sore throat and is interpreting it in a new and interesting way (like Hamlet on roller skates.) Nothing hurts, she says, but her temperature goes up to 104'ish and then comes down with ibuprofen/tylenol to 102'ish.

She looks like a glazed ham and there could not have been a worse day for Steve to be traveling. Not only was I supposed to take Patrick to the neurologist this morning (able to be rescheduled for Monday, fortunately) but I had to pry Caroline out of her couch bed in order to get Patrick and Edward from school. I picked her up to carry her to the car and she started to cry.

I felt so guilty.

Might For Bacon!

Question for you: how long do you make a kid stick with something?

In general, my rule of thumb would be that having signed up for something the child needs to attend until the end of a given session (and then find something new to try) but somehow with karate I got conned into buying, like, three years worth of classes (it came with the time share?) thus there is no End. 

So on the one hand I have paid for it already; it is a great activity to accompany the physical therapy Edward receives; the foundation of discipline, respect and self-respect is terrific and karate experts are indisputably bad ass.

[True story:

the other morning Patrick - whose interest in/awareness of things like the martial arts is nonexistent - was talking about his friend who brings a bacon sandwich to school every day. Since Patrick's love of bacon is well known Caroline joked, "Wow, I'm surprised you have never tried to take it from him."

Patrick snorted. "Ha! My funeral" and then explained, "He's a black belt."

Caroline, Edward and I all nodded because, of course, a black belt in karate? Keeps his bacon.]

So karate! Positive messages! Great for balance coordination and stretching! All good!

But on the other hand Edward loathes it. Truly. I think he is frustrated by his lack of progress (he is - and I say this with all the love in my ever-expanding heart - absolutely terrible) and every, single, karate Thursday he complains and complains and complains... it is so wearing. Yes, I think we all know Edward would be happiest if he could spend all day every day on the couch with me reading or playing games on his Kindle (hell who wouldn't) but maybe there is something else out there he would like better than karate? I really don't know.

What do you think? I'm sure there is a way I could be handling it better.


Have any of you read (or listened to) The School for Good and Evil? Patrick and I began it last Fall and found it odd but entertaining, oddly entertaining. Recently we started listening to the sequel and realized two thing: neither of us had fully understood how the first one ended and... what the hell? The first handful of chapters in A World Without Princes has us baffled.

Is it a thoroughly modern fairytale (in which case Patrick and I heartily agree that Agatha could do much better for herself than that narcissist Sophie)? Is it the anti-fairytale; a cynical assertion that there is no such thing as good or evil or love or loyalty or selfishness or bravery... ? Or is it going to come full circle traditional on us and trounce the girl affirming in order to decry the boy bashing?

In short: is the second book a clever interpretation of the genre that will keep us guessing or is it about to become the fictional embodiment of the Washington Post's comment section; a place in which people come in only two flavors but no sane person could possibly identify with either?

Please advise (without ruining the ending, natch) because Patrick is begging me to abandon the book entirely and - although I have our next book ready to go, The Accidental Highwayman [I know NOTHING about it; not a recommendation yet] because I have a narrator issue to resolve before we can start the Thursday Next series - I would like to stick with it.   

Reductio Ad Absurdum

I went to wake Edward up this morning but the moment he opened his eyes he croaked, "My throat." So I put the blanket back over his face and left, pausing next to the Caroline-shaped lump on his floor to whisper, "Edward's not going to OT today so you don't have to get up yet."

The lump hissed back, "I wasn't going to anyway" which was most likely true since getting Caroline out of non-bed in the morning is a struggle even on normal, wake-up-an-hour-later days

[Two things:

1. Someone asked how I wound up at Target in the morning before school and the short answer is: school starts at 9:20 and 9:30 for Patrick and C&E, respectively, and Edward has OT on Tuesdays at 8 so I run errands


2. Remember when toddler Caroline used to fall asleep in dresser drawers or under her crib or in the bathtub or holy mother of all the saints that one time she crawled out the window onto the porch roof 

(I just checked to see if I could find that post and I discovered that I still cannot read it. Started to do so and then I started to cry. Here you go if you want it - my heart-attack girl

jesus. my hands are shaking.)

So. Yes. She still does not like to sleep in beds and last night she slept on Edward's floor.]

Noelle sent her son to pick Patrick up for his cooking club (reason #554 why everyone should be lucky enough to have a Noelle. And a Noelle's son) so I made Edward a bed on the couch and then was able to have a leisurely morning getting Caroline ready. I even made her an omelette because I had the time and I think that the only child willing to eat eggs should be encouraged in this. It was all very pleasant - well maybe not for Edward with his throat but having an hour and a half to get one child out the door really worked for me.

Just as we were leaving Caroline stopped and ran back to Edward, clutching her backpack.

"Here," she said, taking a rock out of it and handing it to Edward. "You can have Geodie for the day."

"Thanks Caroline," Edward said. "I'll take good care of him."

"Uh, good, but... she's a her."

"Oh!" Edward said, startled, and then he handed the rock back to her. "I don't think I could take a girl rock."

I opened my mouth to object on every possible level but Caroline got there first, "Hmmm," she said. "I don't want you to be alone... "

[I was going to point out that he wasn't going to be alone; I was going to be there but then I realized that twins (these twins at any rate) have two definitions for alone: no one else around and anyone else but their twin. Who am I to argue?]

"I know! She can be a boy but only until I get back from school."

Edward took the rock and started crooning at it, "Who's a good boy? Who's a good little rock?"

I thought... but I had to get Caroline to school.

When I came home, though, I said, "Hey Edward, you know how I always tell you that there is no such thing as a girl toy aisle and a boy toy aisle?"

"That's not true," he said.

"Yes, actually, it is. There are toys. Period. Stuffed animals, legos, nerf shooters - everyone likes to play with them. Anyway! I am wondering why you didn't want to take care of a girl rock. What would be different about a girl rock from a boy rock?"

Edward thought about it.

"A girl rock would probably talk all day."

"Edward. It's. A. ROCK."

He laughed, "Yes, but it is Caroline's girl rock so it would need a lot of attention."

Hmm. As Patrick would say after our three days in New Orleans - true dat.  

But, Alas, No One Ever Does

Edward said, "My throat hurts." Then he added, quickly, "No. Srsly. My throat really hurts. For real!"

(Jeez you let one kid throw up in one restaurant... )

I said, "OK, OK I believe you, let me take a look" and I plonked him down onto my bed, swinging the bedside light so that I could see. Edward's tongue instantly curled up like a hedgehog at the back of his mouth.

"Stick out your tongue and say aaaaaahhhhhh," I told him.

He poked his tongue out.

"And say aaaaah."

His tongue went back in. "Ah," he said.

"No, tongue out and say ahhhhh at the same time," I coached him.

He stuck his tongue out, waggled it a bit and then pulled it back. He shook his head, "That's impossible."

"Caroline!" I called. "I need you for a minute!"

She bounced in and arranged herself on the pillow next to Edward.

"Show Edward how you get your throat checked, please."

Caroline opened her mouth, unrolled her tongue and caroled the ascending scale, "Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah aaaahhhhhh" like a young Sister Maria. Then she ululated for good measure.

"Impressive!" said Edward.

"Thank you. Now you try it," she said.

"UNNNHHHHH," said Edward, which... close enough. I looked at his tonsils. Then I looked at Caroline's. Then I realized that I don't actually know what tonsils should look like [secret: as far as I can tell 98% of being a parent, being an adult, really, is trying to look like you know what you're doing when you don't.]

I said, "Hmmmmmm. Yes. Hmmmm. Steve! Could you come here?"

Steve arrived eventually from seven feet away, looking inquiringly at me and then at the twins arranged in our bed.

"I need a second opinion on a sore throat," I explained.

"Sure," he said, "now which one of these two still has their tonsils?"

[Correct answer: BOTH OF THEM and yes I thought judge-y thoughts]

Steve said Edward looked fine to him but he also didn't see what I kept pointing out as a rather large pulpy bit. I sent him back to the couch and did what I should have done in the beginning, I called Patrick.

He trotted downstairs with a flashlight and a tongue depressor that he got from god only knows where.

"Yep," he said after a quick check, flicking off the flashlight and going to wash his hands, "I'd say that the right side is a little inflamed. You might want to take him in tomorrow."

From which I can conclude that either Patrick is better at faking it than I am or Edward's tonsil is that pink blobby thing that looked weird.

Not surprisingly, I am no closer to deciding whether or not he needs a throat culture. 

PS Seriously, don't you ever find yourself wondering how you wound up being an adult who is supposed to know all sort of things? Every now and then I find myself blinking at a malfunctioning toilet or a cat with a thyroid condition or a potentially diseased tonsil and I... freeze, waiting for the real grownup to show up and figure out what to do.