30 May 2007

The Attack of Everything

The end of the Attack of Snot is near. I hesitate venturing into the subject, but what would a parent’s musings be without snot? There’s so much of it everywhere.

“Runny nose, Mama!”

“Just a second, I’m getting some paper.”

“Runny nose, Mama!”
“Runny nose, Mama!”

“OK, blow”

Day care allows runny noses, but no other ill children. No fevers or coughs (although a few sneak through). Definitely no puking or diarrhea. Stella’s runny nose is nearly constant- usually clear and allergy related, I believe. But this nose is impressive. Rivers of yellow-green snot. And she spiked a fever of 106.2. You read it right. 107 is seizure-zone, so I was just a bit freaked when I took her back to the vet pediatrician (she’s 2 ½ and I keep saying it wrong). Yes, back. We had been there in the am and were told to watch and wait, but by the time we got home her fever was climbing faster than I could find the office number. Thanks to ibuprofen, it went down that fast too. But the doc said get your butt here ASAP, so I lugged sleeping infant in car seat and roasting toddler on my hip the thirteen stairs to the car, 10 minutes to the office and a long lot from the car. She improved while we were there and found that she doesn’t have a septic kidney infection (cheer!), but probably has some resistant sinusitis that’s in our community. While we waited for her Augmentin and probiotic, she explored the lobby barefoot. I forgot her shoes at home. Nothing gets disapproving stares like a barefoot child in a medical setting. Add the unkempt hair, unshowered mama, and all three people in messy clothes- certainly not “outfits.” We looked like a mini old mother and the shoe or whatever it is.

I was apprehensive about the big-gun antibiotic, but more apprehensive about the wacky high fever. I was also making decisions on 5 hours of breastfeeding-interrupted-jetlag sleep. I didn’t even have time to get my caffeine. It was one of those days that makes me the woman who is always in the center of a crisis. You know that friend or cousin who has some shit happening every time you just call you say hi.

“Hi, Friend, How are ya’?”

“Well, not so great. My car got broken into when I was at the DMV trying to replace my lost license and then I couldn’t get anyone to care for the kids so they’re here with me while I’m giving the police report. Shit- I just dropped my keys in the mud! I gotta go.”

Yeah. I’m THAT friend these days. Every week it’s something new. I hate to hear myself speak. While we were dealing with Stella yesterday, I completely ignored the cat- not the one who got sick and ran away/died last month, but the other one who has a rectal mass and can’t make a bowel movement. She looked so miserable this morning, trying to poop in vain, crying out. She’s lighter than a week ago. Which was lighter than two and three weeks ago. Her skin is tenting with dehydration. She wobbles. She’s had two enemas just so she can shit (that’s added some lightness to the conversation: California Freaks Give High Colonic to Cat). What an embarrassment for the fastidious cat. I have an appointment for her tonight. This might be it. I don’t want to say goodbye to her too, but I hate seeing her suffer- and know it won’t turn around. The vet says it’s cancer. Inoperable. And I’m not putting a 16-year-old cat through chemo or some other miserable treatment. The kids will be up soon and they will simultaneously need me for everything, so I’m going to go pet the cat and/or bury my head in the unused kitty litter.

Today Stella’s temp is lower and her mood improved. But her nose is still flowing.

“Runny nose, Mama!”

“You know, you need to learn to do this yourself...OK, blow.”

“Mama, runny nose again!”

28 May 2007

Pay for Shade?

Last night we returned from 9 days in Hawaii. I didn't mention it before because I have this thing about announcing to the world that we're going out of town. My husband is that way when I shout it across the street so the neighbors know to look out for our house. He is sure some opportunistic robber will over hear. I think he's too paranoid about the street thing. But I'm like that in my blog. Crime is up in our hood. We're both a little jittery.

Anyway, Augusto had a conference at the Ritz in Maui. The Ritz- I KNOW, what luck?! How could the kids and I not tag along? By coincidence, friends with kids the same ages as ours were staying nearby. A few of the days we all went to the beach as one gear-toting hoard and took turns with the kids. Travel with other families is fantastic. Every time we've gone somewhere with another family or more, it has been a huge success for all involved. Even when the kids aren't playing well together, we adults can share responsibility for redirecting, imagining creative games, cooking and all the other parenting jobs. It also shakes up our own family dynamics, so we end up having less stupid bickering and more overall quality adult time. I can't recommend it enough.

Hawaii was lovely. The sun was out. The views were stunning. Our marble bathroom had a separate room for the toilet. The ocean was warm and seemingly stocked for our snorkeling pleasure. There were two major exceptions to the loveliness: 1. the food and drinks at the resort are too expensive for a person of regular means to consume on a daily basis; and 2. guests are expected to pay for shade. Yes, I said pay for shade. So we tired of kid grilled cheese (pool bar, $5), instant oats (brought from home), and baby carrots (Safeway in Lahaina) while we kept moving to stay in the wispy shade of the tall palms. The Ritz has cabanas for four people and pairs of lounge chairs with awnings. These can be reserved for $75 and $50 per day! They do not provide any other umbrellas at the pool or beach. I can't get over either of these ridiculous features of the Ritz. As I nursed Otto under a shade tent made by stretching a kanga from my Oakland baseball cap to my knees, I scanned the pool menu thinking I must have missed the one affordable item (chips and salsa $11, chicken sandwich without fries $16, cup of coffee $5). I imagined the staff gathered at some planning meeting, wringing their hands, whining and cackling..."If they'll pay $300 and up for a room at a resort a 10 minute drive from the nearest hotel, we can charge $13 for a Mai Tai and $15 for a mediocre Pinot Gris no problem. And why the hell not?! Get 'um for all they're worth. Hey, let's charge for SHADE while we're at it. It'll be hilarious!"

17 May 2007

Adventures at Longs Drugs

I was browsing the clearance section at our local Longs Drugs when I spied the home highlighting kit. I was there on a separate mission, but got distracted (as I can when I am shopping only with Otto (which is pretty much like shopping alone)). I have colored my hair only a few times in my life once I stopped using Sun In-- in, like, 1986? Once I had a semi-permanent copper last until it grew out. And when Stella was an infant I got a choppy cut with high and lowlights. And that’s it. So, being in my funk and finding a kit for only 5 bucks- as opposed to the nearly $200 for the last job- I bought it. I thought it might add some juice to my mojo. Perk up my spirits. I followed the directions to the letter- including cutting off a strand of hair for testing. I decided on 20 minutes for a few tastefully, yet artfully, placed shocks of blonde. I didn’t want to look like the box’s eager co-ed with the zebra head, yet I did want the effect to be noticeable.

Well, noticeable it is. Yup. Woo hoo.

What a mess. Brassy. Splotchy. Cheap like 5 bucks. And I look exactly like the girl on the box, plus 15 or 20 inappropriate years. It’s not a pretty sight. But as my friend Karen of Great Hair Knowledge said, “A hair accident always makes for a good story. You could just say you were passed out drunk and you don’t know how it happened.” I suppose I never had my share of hair accidents. In retrospect the Sun In was a whole era of accident, but I was blissfully ignorant.

The family hasn’t noticed, or maybe they’re being polite. But at least now I have something lighter to complain about.

15 May 2007

I Write Poems Sometimes.

I write poems sometimes. Usually in the winter and after some major life event. Pregnancy, birth and parenting have been excellent muses- along with my mother’s cancer, tensions with my husband, and trips to Brazil. When the summer arrives I turn the soil and rip out the ever-persistent Bermuda grass. Keyboards and scraps of paper for poetic flashes get shuffled down the priority list. Garden bolts to the top. This funk keeps me from doing much of anything- and keeps me inside complaining about it in this forum. Poems are bubbling inside.

Before the funk, I gardened like mad. And the garden does look smashing- a wonderful place to sit and watch Stella play. The day my grandfather died, we were featured on a “green” gardening tour. Our garden is tolerant of the Northern California summer droughts and winter rains, is free of pesticides and fertilizers, and has clover instead of grass for the lawn. We have a Trex deck. We ripped up concrete and built walkways and raised beds, used years of broken plates for a mural on a retaining wall. Having lived here only 5 years- and being novice gardeners- the plantings still have room to grow, and the aesthetic is definitely “home grown.” But I am truly pleased.

Perhaps I can work through my loss with some off-season poems, celebrate life with the veggie beds, and move back to my big dog self. In summer camp one of the counselors said I was like a ball- I always bounced back quickly from whatever problem. I hope her assessment holds true today.

14 May 2007

So Long, Old Friend

My grandfather, 72 hours before he died. He was so happy to see his great grandchildren.
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Reduced to Bones

The cat hasn’t come home. It’s been over a week. The constants in my life are sneaking away one by one. It started in pregnancy when a good night’s sleep gave way to multiple trips to the bathroom. Then there was the baby and everything that went with her. Movies. Dinners. Free arms. Down time. Total focus on any one task- instead of one ear/ eye/ nostril trying to make sure everything is all right with the baby. Then the second baby- ditto all the above. These disappearances came with the (mostly) joy of family.

But now my grandfather and the cat. And my hair is falling out again. It’s amazing, my home is packed with toys, my car jammed with kid stuff, and my schedule filled with parks and playdates and cooking healthy food- yet I’m feeling small. Like I’ve been shaved or peeled. In the middle of so much vibrant and joyous noise, I am less. I’m not used to being less. I’m always the one who is more. The one who is too much, actually. The big wet nosed dog knocking down the skinny old ladies. That’s me. Not these anxious, complaining naked bones. I am grating against everything without my slobber and fur.

09 May 2007

An inventory of what was lost

What six, eight weeks can bring. Augusto went to Japan twice, and I got to try single parenting for nearly 20 nights. I took the kids to Baltimore on my own for part of his trip, and passed another parenting milestone- air travel with two. I am amazed at my ability to keep everyone fed and clothed (not necessarily clean). It’s all dependent on organization, sacrifice of any personal time, and a glass of wine a few times a week. I am completely convinced that being a primary caregiver should be a prerequisite to the presidency- or air traffic control.

The high of accomplishment is over and now I am stuck in a funk. My 93-year-old grandfather died on Sunday. He was assembling an IKEA chair. I loved him so much.

An inventory of what was lost:

  1. A wise, handy, loving old guy how didn’t want to die for fear of missing something.
  2. Our orange cat, left home 4 days ago after a rapid onset illness.
  3. Fear of parenting alone
  4. Daytime diapers!!

What was learned?

  1. My strong urge to visit family was worth heeding- my grandfather met his great grandson 3 days before he died.
  2. I regret shooing the cat off my desk nearly every evening for the past 3 months.
  3. If I can handle two kids for 2 weeks on my own, I can do just about anything
  4. Wait to let the kid potty train; they’ll do it quickly when ready.

I saw two women in stirrup pants yesterday. I need to make that odd sighting into a sign that things are looking up. That, and Otto found his toes.