Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ping ponging your way through the flu

I remember it so well. It was the winter of 2005. Chuck and I were renting an apartment together ("shacking up" as my mother called it). Out of nowhere, I got the flu.

I spent the next week on the couch, swigging NyQuil. I slept. I watched talk shows and sitcoms. There was no Facebook, so I couldn't gross people out with my status updates—"Just hacked up a lung! Puked again!" No tweeting either.

How did we communicate?

When Chuck got home from work he would lift up the blanket and poke me, just to make sure I was alive. He may have tried to poke me in other ways, I can't remember. It was the sickest I've ever been and yet, looking back on it, it was bliss.

I've been thinking a lot about that week.

The kids both came down with the flu on Saturday. Over the last few days, Chuck and I have been sneezed on, puked on and coughed on. We've endured hours of Thomas the Train and Curious George. We've made Jello and toast and held the kids while they whimpered and moaned. We've tried to sleep while the kids slept on top of us.

Then, a glimpse of hope: the kids started to feel better. Then, reality. I started sneezing. Mother Nature is a sly devil. She keeps you healthy just long enough for you to nurse your kids back to health before whacking you with it. It's the bitch-slap of being a parent: you get slapped on the way in and you get slapped on the way out. 

I was fortunate to come down with it first. I told Chuck I was going to bed and I did—for almost two days. I swigged NyQuil. I slept. I watched talk shows and sitcoms. There is Facebook, so I could gross people out with my status updates—"Just hacked up a lung! Puked again!" 

Every time I heard Chuck sneezing and coughing from downstairs I furrowed down deeper under the covers. Yes, he was sending me SOS's—like letting the kids throw ping pong balls at the stairs and yelling "Kids, your mother is trying to rest!"—but for a few days I was blissfully untouchable. Like I'd been in 2005. Like any time, really, we're able to lie down and take care of ourselves for a change.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. This morning Chuck announced that he was going to bed. He has a fever; I can't contest a fever. I'm going to have to slog through until I'm better. I'm going to have to visit the Island of Sodor even as I hack up a lung. 

But I'll always have the sweet memories of my couch and bed. Of hiding and furrowing, furrowing and hiding. The proverbial good ole days.

Now where are those ping pong balls?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free fun in Connecticut (yes, it's possible)

If your kid is into trains, the Connecticut Cellar Savers Fire Museum is a definite must-see. It's in Portland, Conn. and features an entire room of working model trains. Best of all it's free (and there's a bathroom on the premises). You can easily spend an hour there, but probably not much longer.

The man who sits behind the counter is really nice, which is a rarity for the area. Last time we went, he told Junior to hug me and then said, "You only get one mom, so hug her and tell her thanks!"

Melt my heart.

Bonus: Sometimes the next door neighbor's chickens and hens wander the parking lot and the kids can kill another 15 minutes trying to catch them.

It never stops raining fun in this state. Am I right?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reaching that way cooler, even better "Not tonight, honey" place

I'll never forget one of my first days on the job at Mulletville Corp. My boss—a slim, golf playing, 60-year-old narcissist ("Don't you like my new outfit? Don't you?")—popped into my office and offered me some homemade cookies.

Normally I skeeve homemade foodstuffs, but I had to accept a handful ("Don't you like my banana nut cookies? Don't you?"). No sooner had I swallowed the last morsel than she said, "There's a hefty dose of flaxseed in the batter. So good for you!"

She hopped merrily away. 


Because I am a master at-work pooper (it's true, I wrote a poop manual), the flax seed injection wasn't the harrowing experience it could have been. Others weren't so lucky.

Fast forward to this morning's breakfast.

Last night, after reading the latest issue of Healthy Living magazine (is it just me or is everyone and their dog detoxifying?) and slugging back three—ok sevenish—glasses of wine (it's been a rough couple of weeks) I decided I had to make homemade granola bars.


I found some online recipes (like these and these) promising homemade granola bar nirvana. Seriously, based on the number of sites I found extolling the titillating pleasures of homemade granola bars, I don't think anyone who is anyone is actually having sex anymore; I think they're all in their kitchens making homemade granola bars.

Anyway, I used the recipes and tweaked. Slugged and tweaked. Tweaked and slugged. At one point Chuck stumbled in and, seeing all the seeds and nuts on the counter, begged me to add chocolate chips.

"Of schlourse, Schluck!"

As the bars sat in the fridge overnight, hardening and congealing and shit, I lay in bed, nightdreaming. I could see it all before me: At neighborhood picnics I'd pull a granola bar out of a baggie. As it caught the light, someone would ask, "Where did you get that granola bar?" and I'd smile sheepishly and admit, "I made it." I'd offer them a bite and they'd eat it, oohing and ahhing.

Word would spread. The PTO would call. Then the principle—"Bake enough for the next school function? Why, of course!"—then, the mayor. Next up? Why, Shark Tank, of course.


Fast forward again (or is it rewind?) to this morning's breakfast. Ta da!

They look good, don't they? Well, don't let 'em fool ya. They're a crumbly mess of poop-inducing flax and dried fruit. As in, seeds are still stuck to your teeth and gums even after you swallow. As in, "Mom! I have to poop again! What's going on?! Mom!" and "Honey? Do we have any more toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom?"

As in, Miralax would kill for this recipe.

No, it's not quite the product I was hoping for but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day. I'm going to make another batch, this time sober. An even better batch! And, after I've tweaked the recipe to perfection and I've finally reached that elusive summit of homemade granola bar nirvana—"Oh gawd, yes!"—I can proudly say...

"Not tonight, Chuck. I made granola bars." And he'll understand.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting all the shit out of the way early

So here we are. It's been about three weeks since I last logged into this blog. I've been thinking about it and how I want to write something (and respond to the thoughtful comments about Sandy Hook), but life has been a bit of a roller coaster—and not the good kind that tickles your stomach, but the kind where you cover your eyes, scream the entire time and then hurl as soon as you get off.

(I never did like roller coasters. I get nauseous driving down steep hills in the car.)

Since December 16, we've had two deaths in the family, Christmas and its accompanying windfall of wrapping paper and house guests, an open heart surgery, New Years, a friend with an illness, a cat with a tumor, a birthday for Everett (#2!), a birthday for me (closer to 40) and a radio that's been playing itself at night (more about that in the next post, I promise). 

And now we have the stomach bug.

But listen, I didn't sign onto this blog to share all my Debbie Downer moments of late. In fact, one of the reasons I miss blogging so much is that it gives me the chance to remember the funny moments interspersed in all of life's muck.

Like this morning when, after puking, Junior wobbled down the stairs and said, "I'm kind of shaky, Mom. I think I should lie on the couch and get my strength back." His voice cracked with concern. All I could picture was him at 50 in his flannel bathrobe and slippers, puttering down the stairs after having the flu or whatever and telling his wife the very same thing. There's an old soul in there—the most cautious, worried, tentative of souls.

It makes me smile, that I get to tend to this gentle man-boy.

Then there's Everett, who had puked just days earlier. The kid literally opened his mouth, vomited, and went back to playing. I can hear him calling Junior on the phone when they're adults (my God, by then they might be able to teleport to each other's homes) and telling him to suck it up; stop being such a grandpa. He's a little shithead, but Junior's going to need someone like that in his life.

I love watching these two grow. I love every day of learning more about who they are. I love this gift.

And now if you'll pray for me: I really, really, really don't want to get the puke bug.

Make laundry fun — and punishable

I don't know why there's so much effing laundry. Yes, there are five of us, but we aren't going anywhere. Part of me feels ...