Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nope, definitely broken

We made Charley an appointment with a podiatrist on the advice of my friend, who is a podiatrist, and because Charley's ankle was still giant and swollen and slowly turning a deep shade of red and also because he couldn't put any weight on it still and it just didn't seem like it was going to get any better by itself as the PCP had suggested *might* happen. Having been through the thumb experience this fall also helped. Charley's skeletal system has had a rough year. Yesterday was the appointment. I forgot to ask anyone to pick up the younger boys, so that meant I spent two hours yesterday trapped in a tiny room with three kids who had been cooped up all day, one of whom had to take off his boot and could not be jostled.

The office was set up for older adults so after they picked out a nursing home for me from a catalog we amused ourselves by doing field sobriety tests, which I'm pretty sure James failed.

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The doctor came in eventually, took a cursory look at his ankle, which was swelling wildly having been freed from the boot, and ordered another set of xrays. Later, he called me into the xray room to show me the huge crack in Charley's ankle bone (huge to me, anyway, according to him it's extremely common and caused by something called "horsing around" and "being a 10 year old boy"). He asked me if I wanted him to put a cast on it or keep him in the boot. While he went over the benefits of cast versus boot I could hear a ruckus break out in the room behind me. There was loud giggling, shrieking, mysterious thumping and banging noises, and some unsettling crashes.

The doctor had just said "Boys his age can be fairly rough and tumble, so I'd recommend the cast" when I realized the sounds were coming from OUR EXAM ROOM.

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He had to sit in this position and let the cast dry for an interminable ten minutes. We watched cat videos to pass the time. The doctor laughed hard every time a random yowl came out of my phone. Chair in "ready for liftoff" position because Wes was goofing around with the controls

He'll be in the cast for two weeks and then the boot for another one to two weeks. Summer is SAVED!

Getting around our house on crutches is not convenient at the moment because we had to get ready for the painter. Also our TV is put away. Repeat: OUR TV IS PUT AWAY. So there are some challenges.

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But at least Charley's bedroom is already on the first floor.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hopping bunnies, hopping kids

Work on plan "Movin On Up (slightly north of where we are now)" continues to occupy every spare moment of our time and energy. This weekend, since it was nice out and we had an extra day off, we decided to spruce up the landscaping to give the house more curb appeal. This sounds so simple when you don't consider that we are working uphill against nine years of deferred maintenance. I did the front flowerbeds, which sounds like an easy enough girl-job, but it required gloves, multiple trash bags, and a twelve inch metal spike. And also about four hours of time.

Ryan did the back garden, which was considerably more difficult. When he got around to the side yard, where we have at least six six-foot tall "volunteer bushes" that have grown woody trunks, he decided to go rent a chain saw. He also fixed the hole in the fence that the kids used to use to get into our back yard from the non-gate side. It was hilarious to sit on my neighbor's driveway with them and watch kids run back to where the fence hole was and then turn around and come back out to go around, disappointed. Sorry kids, the slob neighbors are moving!

Friday after we went to Whataburger for lunch and to Home Depot to buy some more plants to replace the Jumanji-style ones we were taking out, we stopped by the new house to remind ourselves why we every thought this was a good idea in the first place.

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Saturday morning the kids thought it would be fun to watch TV and bitch about not being able to find the remote while Ryan and I were ripping giant weeds out of the backyard. They quickly learned that if they couldn't solve this problem without our help, we would be happy to find a alternative activity for them.

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Sunday was Easter! There are no photos of the egg hunt because no one had any clothes on. But they cleaned up nice for church!

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I asked them to get closer for another picture.

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That's better.

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We went to church, which was nice. And then to my parents' house for brunch. They had a great easter egg hunt (the tradition is to put socks in the easter eggs and the kids were SO EXCITED about it all day). There were crafts and so much delicious food. My cousins were there and my aunt and uncle and my sister. All the kids disappeared outside in a loud mob, we laughed and joked and helped my mom in the kitchen.

Right before lunch, Charley came in from playing outside, complained about his ankle hurting, then hopped on one foot to the couch. He can be kind of dramatic, so I made him an ice pack, picked up my IPA, and went back to the party. When it was time for us to eat I called out "Charley! Lunch! You can make it to the table!" then I went and sat in another room to eat at the adult table. This is called building character. He had hopped back to the couch with his ice pack by the time we were all done eating and that's when I noticed that hmmm, does his left ankle look massively swollen to anyone else? I asked my cousins how he had fallen, if it had really been *that* bad. They said they didn't think so, but I made him an appointment with urgent care for yesterday evening and we left rather abruptly to make it there (a decision which probably saved us $500).

In the car on the way there I remarked to Ryan "Don't worry, sweetie, we'll just throw another few dollars on the money pile!" He responded unhappily "Don't you mean a money *hole*?" I chirped "The pile is on FIRE!"

Ryan pulled up to the entrance and Wes got Charley a wheelchair while I checked us in. By the way, pushing Charley in the wheelchair seemed to give Wes the sense of agency he needed to stop verbally abusing James, which is how he had spent the rest of the day.

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The doctor came in and confirmed dryly "Yep, it sure is swollen. Probably fractured. Take him down to x-ray." I love a doctor who cuts right through the shit.

The doctor and the radiologist both couldn't see a fracture, but they put him in a boot and gave him some crutches and said to see if he can walk in four or five days. On the advice of our friend, a podiatrist, he has an appointment with a different podiatrist tomorrow to make sure. Given how the thumb thing went down this fall, I fully expect to be told that it is fractured, but I am told that regardless of whether it is fractured or sprained, he will be in the boot for at least a month. This is exciting news, as I'm sure you can imagine, given that we are also trying to MOVE TO ANOTHER HOUSE right in the middle of that timeframe and that he is ACTUALLY USUALLY QUITE HELPFUL. Not to mention the whole pool thing and the fact that I had planned to send them to Y camp during summer research and obviously *that's* not going to work if he's in a cast. Such a bummer.

We'll figure something out. Something is probably a nice quiet Lego engineering camp and some quality time with grandparents. Also I told him we could learn to make slushes and would float him out to the middle of the pool on an innertube with a slushie this summer if we had to. I am doing my best perky cheerleader WHAT A FUN ADVENTURE thing, but dang you guys. This is not ideal.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kids want to go back to tornado church

Dang you guys I think of so many funny stories during the day and way back when when the kids were small enough to nap I would just slap them into hysterical blog posts practically every afternoon. Now I just laugh to myself and get weird looks when I am in class. Or in line at the grocery store. I am always in one of those two places.

I did manage to take this picture of our front porch and send it to our long-suffering realtor with the caption "Staged the front porch!"

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I continue to delight (no) and annoy (yes) real estate professionals. This time he is one of our good friends though, so the pressure is really on to not act too much like an imbecile. I'd say I'm hovering at right about 80-20 in that department, which is an improvement. It is definitely a twist seeing my friend, on whose floor James once fell asleep halfway through eating a hot dog, in professional mode, but it's kind of awesome. Who knew we were all grownups?

In other news, two Sundays ago I was walking out the door to go to church and looked at the radar to see an absolute beast of a squall line headed straight for us. It was dusky dark at nine AM and the air was weirdly thick and humid. I joked around on Facebook that whoever was stuck with me in the tornado shelter at church better get ready for a cuh-razy sing-a-long, but I really wasn't expecting anything to happen, which is why I was all laughy-jokey about it. This is often my downfall. We sent the boys off to Sunday School right when we arrived and then dropped Mary off at her room and we had just walked into the part of the building where our class meets when THE WEATHER RADIO ANNOUNCED A TORNADO WARNING.

I sighed. Part of me loves an emergency but another part of me was really looking forward to getting a donut and zoning out at the back of my Sunday School class with my friend Rosa.

Two other friends who are on staff with the children's ministry were headed straight for me in the hallway and we immediately began evacuating the kids from the second floor down to the hallway in the center of the first floor where there were no windows.

I felt like I was being kind of a drama queen, but it was a tornado warning and we were in charge of dozens of kids and I couldn't see it on my phone radar, but the velocity image and reflectivity image were NOT TOO SHABBY for Central Texas and we really did do the right thing.

It was kind of chaotic getting everyone down the stairs, but once we assembled them on the floor and sang some songs all was peaceful. Ryan went to check on Mary and ended up helping take all the nursery kids and three year olds to another (safe) part of the building, where I am told they have emergency backup lighting (this will be important later).

We ran out of songs to sing so I grabbed a book at random from one of the classrooms and tried to find something to read to the kids and that's when I realized that ALL BIBLE STORIES ARE KIND OF TERRIFYING.

I just started at the beginning, though I'm not sure the middle of a potential tornado situation is the ideal setting to contemplate the Fall of Man.

When we got the all clear we started shuffling all the kids back upstairs. When we had ALLLLLLL the kids either in the stairwell or in a line behind the stairwell, THE POWER WENT OUT, and it was PITCH BLACK.

The kids thought this was incredibly exciting. Imagine fifty excited kids in a cinder block stairwell, IN THE DARK.

Charley's class got to play Uno by candlelight.

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Everyone was finally back in their classrooms (still in the dark) when a friend who is a fireman came over to tell us that there had been a law-enforcement tornado sighting and that we should go back downstairs (The radar was saying otherwise, but there was a lot of confusion and they had already evacuated the sanctuary, so we went for it). Once we got downstairs we decided to stick it out until all the parents got out of big church and came to pick up their kids.

Later I would learn that the sanctuary ALSO has backup lights and that they had no idea that we were sitting in pitch black darkness with fifty children.

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There is power in His name, just not the electrical kind.

Which is why they took their time finishing up communion and singing extra verses of all the songs. We were down there FOREVER. Ryan and I ended up taking two extra kids to big church with us, which meant we were in charge of six kids for the entire service, including Communion (Wes's buddy A asked me "can I go get seconds?"). The kids loved sitting with friends, the service was relaxed and casual, and the power eventually came back on.

And just like at the end of Twister, when we got outside at the end it was pretty and sunny again. Crazy!

So now you're all caught up. Tornado church. Classes are almost over. We're about to buy a house. And sell a house. And move. Lots to complain about there!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Moving out and forward

One exciting thing about moving to a new house is the opportunity to confront your slothful housekeeping of the last nine years up close and personal, in your pajamas, at nine o'clock at night, while standing barefoot on the kitchen counter scraping greasy buildup off the upper cabinets with Pine Sol as you facilitate a kid who needs to verbally process through his entire day.

Never again. I will never be this disgusting again. I vow, even though I remember clearly making exactly the same promise to myself as I scraped grease off the upper cabinets at my LAST house (there was also the matter of the dead mouse that began to decompose under our electric skillet that made the house smell like death for the agent open house and that I discovered while home alone with baby Charley one night after making pancakes and immediately called Ryan to come home and deal with).

I have some Feelings about this move that I like to spend the hours between two and three o'clock in the morning considering rationally. One is that we don't technically *need* a bigger house. After all, look at the Greatest Generation! They managed to raise families of seven in glorified shipping containers with a single bathroom and three kitchen cabinets!

When I trot this argument out my friend Heather likes to remind me that it was also acceptable to hit your children into submission (which certainly meant less bitching about bedtime/room sharing) and most women were on tranquilizers. I would add a third thing, that it was perfectly acceptable to send your kids out to play for nine hours a day while you played cards and drank liquor with the other women on your street (now you can only have craft beer while sitting on your porch for an hour or two before you have to force someone to do homework or make a meal or something, how times have changed!). Who needs a game room when you have the great outdoors?! I also like to reassure myself that my grandparents, models of New England pragmatism, converted their attic into two more bedrooms and a third bathroom, giving their house exactly the number of bedrooms we are moving up to SO THERE.

I love our current house. We've lived here for nine big years. Three new babies. A PhD. New jobs. Good patches. Bad patches. It started out sort of neo-colonial traditional with beige carpet and formal furniture in the dining room that was very important to me. It evolved over time to have a kind of funky coffeeshop vibe, with a huge worn out butcher block table in the dining room, an orange floor, green kitchen walls, a five foot tall microscope cabinet acting as the focal point of the living room. Our old tastes and expectations chipped away and molded by the experience of having a child in crisis, a newborn, and a stressful job situation all at the same time. Questions about what *should* a house look like yielded to wanting our house to be comfortable and functional for us. And that meant an orange floor, a green kitchen, and a giant butcher block table covered in paint stains and scratches in place of our elegant dining room furniture.

It's hard to leave this incubator for our family behind, but this is going to be a good thing for us. It's cute when the kids use the six foot patch of floor space behind the kitchen counter to play magnatiles now, but I'm having trouble envisioning a fourteen year old Wes hanging out back there with his buddies. At some point one kid might want to read a book while another kid might want to watch TV! Or do homework while someone else practices piano! Or *I* might want to have friends over and put on a movie for the kids and offer the adults someplace to sit that is not the kitchen floor! The kids are staying up later and later, we cannot continue using the living area in shifts like we have been.

I'm going to miss our wonderful neighbors and our orange floor and the cubbies I built for the kids' backpacks in the kitchen (that I will be recreating in the new house). I'll miss our green walls and my garden beds and the projects Ryan has done to streamline our life in this house.

But this is a LOT OF STUFF for a living room, right? And I know what you are thinking: get rid of some stuff! We are down to the minimum. The next thing to go is one of the children. I don't know why every child needs his own TV-watching quilt, to be stored in the corner of the living room in a giant hap-hazard pile, but they do. They just do. Even in August. The rollerblades have to go in the living room because there is no room in the garage because of all the bikes and the lawnmower and the thrift store couch they destroyed that we're having trouble discarding. The games and cards and dominoes also have to go in the living room BECAUSE IT'S THE LIVING ROOM. Just like the dishes and pots and pans and lunchboxes and science experiments all have to go in the kitchen, which is the only other non-bedroom space on the first floor now. It's been working for a long time and it's kind of starting to not work. And they just keep getting BIGGER.

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There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

Anyway, we found a good house for a price we could afford that is closer to the kids' school and both of our works. It's on a bike trail. It's close to the pool. And we move at the end of the month. We told the kids on Saturday afternoon. It...did not go well. Wes started sobbing and moaning the name of his buddy next door. Charley ran to his new room and pushed his desk up against the door then wrote a note that said "Y'all are cray cray". He ripped the head off an action figure and left it on the counter with a note that said "YOU!" with an angry face.

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So we went to the house and parked in the driveway and walked around to the back yard. Wes made friends with the kid next door and they threw a football around. The big kids rode their bikes on the trail. We walked to the playground. They were OK by the time we got home. Charley put the head back on the action figure and brought it to show us.

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Checking out the new front door for first day of school pics.

We bought a pretty journal for the kids to write down their favorite house memories and a photo album so we can keep some pictures. We're letting them pick out area rugs for their rooms (which all have wood floors and, one day, paint colors. We're keeping up a full social calendar of musical rehearsals and birthday parties and Scout campouts and homework and piano lessons, trying to limit the ridiculous amounts of life upheaval to just Ryan and me. We are spending our evenings cleaning and fixing and packing around the edges so we can put our own house on the market close to the time we leave (funny story: After the Flu Outbreak we had pretty much given up on the idea of buying this particular house because life just seemed too overwhelming at the time. Then we had this horrible day that involved poop and fighting and poop on furniture and fighting with kids and did I mention poop? And Ryan called me the next morning and said "You know what? I'm OK with moving out before we sell this house, because there is NO EFFING WAY we are going to list the house with these kids still living in it.").

We're hiring people to do the heavy jobs like painting the stairwell and the living and dining room and installing tile and carpet, so we just have to clean and get stuff to a storage unit to make room for them. So look forward to lots of complaining about *that*.

It's going to be great! I just have to convince my 3 AM self of this.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sadly, I took almost no pictures

With about twelve hours to spare before our church campout it finally occurred to me (after a friend mentioned the possibility) that the reason James's "cold" never went away and the reason it weirdly included puffy, swollen, black eyes that watered constantly (or as he said "My eyes won't stop crying and I'm not even sad!") was that *maybe* he has allergies. After all, I could see CLOUDS of pollen blowing around when I drove to work. So I gave him from zyrtec and TA DA! his eyes returned to normal within a few hours.

Wish I'd thought to try that before I kept him home on Thursday. And by home I mean back to school to plant strawberries with a different kindergarten class than he is in (he thought this was hilarious), a seventy-five minute statics lecture, a meeting with a research student, and a committee meeting, which fortunately took place in the cafeteria so I could bribe him with an ice cream cone.

I guess having at least one family member down with some nasty plague for three straight weeks tends to make you miss the allergy forest for the infections disease trees.

The good news is that we were all healthy (ish) to go to the all church retreat this weekend! It is a beloved tradition now and there was no possible way we were missing it even if we had to cart along a humidifier and shoebox full of medication (we avoided this, barely).

It was supposed to rain heavily Friday morning and one of my research group members was out of town, so even though I had three commitments before lunch that day, all of them were canceled, leaving me with a weirdly free morning. This is good because Ryan had originally, before my house because a typhus ward, planned to take the afternoon off to pack us up. He obviously couldn't do that after missing work in various capacities approximately six thousand times in the preceding three weeks, and now I had the free time to get it done.

He picked the kids up at school and we were on the road by four o'clock, which is a new record.

They had the brownies ready for us when we arrived around eight o'clock. James was so excited to be there that ON THE WAY TO THE CABIN, two minutes after we'd arrived, he rode his scooter down a giant hill, wiped out at the bottom, and ripped the skin off both his knees. He ate his brownie through sniffles and then went to bed. I returned to the lodge for cards with the ladies.

Saturday was a fun blur. Mary, James, and Charley and I took a yoga class (that was designed for children but kicked my ass) while Ryan and Wes went on a hike. Charley went fishing and had a giant tantrum that scared some other kids, so that was not awesome, and after lunch I made him come back to the cabin to lie down, which he did long enough for Mary to fall into a three-hour coma and miss the whole swimming window (fortunately Ryan was happy to nap with her).

I was in line for lunch when James and Wes came stomping in looking ready to kill each other. Wes loudly explained that James had *pushed him out the treehouse window. James screamed "IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!" Wes responded "THEN WHY DID YOU COME AT ME RUNNING LIKE THIS?!" and ran at James with both hands in front of him, slamming him up against the wall. I was all nice and camp-relaxed so I found this hilarious. Later Wes got retribution by flinging James off his scooter, giving him another legful of scratches and bruises. They were both still limping the next morning.

James and I went out in a single kayak (he sat on the back), which was super cool (the water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom, which is very deep), but unbeknownst to me, the plug was out in the back and the boat was slowly filling with water. By the time we got back to the dock James was riding just below the surface and we almost tipped over on every stroke. The lifeguard cracked up when he saw us and I tipped over right in front of the beach trying to get out. I was glad it happened, though, because after that I felt like I could get in the freezing water and jumped right in off the rocks after my neighbor peer pressured me into it.

After swimming (and a public family fight that happened because Charley was out on a kayak for most of the time and missed his chance to go on the slide) was coloring and origami for the whole family and then dinner and smores, and an attempt to recreate the first night's girl time that didn't really get off the ground because everyone was so exhausted. We all slept hard and woke up when they rang the dinner bell Sunday morning.

We had breakfast and church. Wes took Communion on rollerblades. We sang "For the Beauty of the Earth" even the verse about family love that we sang at our wedding and have hanging on our dining room wall. I loved being out there in that beautiful place with my great friends. I wish it was a week long and I can't wait to go back next year.

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Bye bye camp!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I'm writing this to you from behind a closed, locked window, while wearing a face mask and spraying purell on everything that moves because since March 6, at least one family member--and sometimes two--have had the flu. Wes, as you know, was the first, or as I like to call him, Patient Zero. Next Ryan and I got some kind of upper respiratory pestilence that for me went away, save for a nasty cough, and for Ryan seems to have morphed into full-blown flu, which is great because when we thought we both had the same thing wrong we shared a bowl of soup. Mary came down with a fever the night we got back from our trip and James came home from school yesterday with a hacking cough and a 101.1 fever.

So STAY THE EFF AWAY FROM US, is what I'm saying.

So far Charley and I have been spared, but that's from clean living, good hygiene, and the virgin I sacrificed while we were at the beach.

Last week was SPRING BREAK!!

Since Wes was sort of feeling better we kept our plans to go to the skating rink on Monday. Wes had a freaking blast and even joined the Boys Under 10 fun race. (My sister and I joined in the "Girls over 16" race when it became clear that there was no "Middle Aged Mom" race and my sister overheard some girls say with disgust, "Oh look, the MOMS are coming over here"). I only took one picture, but you guys, it was 1992 ALL OVER AGAIN in that place. However, they did not play any Paula Abdul, which was disappointing.

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Tuesday seemed like a calm day when I woke up and everyone was either sick or angry, so we went to the kids club at the movie theater and saw the first Harry Potter for a dollar a ticket. Then we went to my friend Rosa's house to have lunch and play in the back yard and then Wes took a three hour nap, ate some dinner, and then went back to bed. Maybe rollerblading was too much? Oops!

Thursday we went to the beach!

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Someone was not a fan of the balcony.

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While Ryan slept off the flu (we will never know because dudes don't go to the doctor) I took the kids to the Marine Science Institute we visited last year. We got to go on a ferry ride!

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And then we went back to the beach.

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And had dinner at the Whataburger By The Bay.

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We spent our last morning on the beach with some friends we made down there and would still be there if everyone didn't get hangry around 1:00.

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Then we headed back up the stupid highway that is stupid and makes everything take three times too long. It did not disappoint this time! We left around 1:30 and got home at SEVEN THIRTY, after stopping for lunch, potty, and coffee. TOO LONG.

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A good trip.

I don't have much time to get nostalgic for road trips because we are going on another one ON FRIDAY, which is way too much, considering James and Mary (and me and Charley?) might be sick, but I know it'll be fun good attitude blah blah blah.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I really need to stop obsessing about real estate

FUNNY STORY.

Right after I pushed "publish" on that last post the school called and asked me to come get Wes, who was coughing so much it was distracting the other students. While I was going to get him I called Ryan to let him know and after he regaled me of the story of the giant screaming fight Wes and James had in the morning that was so out of control Ryan missed the turn for their school, we decided to go look at the bigger house this weekend. And then I took Wes to garden club in the afternoon, where he sat miserably on the bench the whole time looking pitiful, which made my nurse friend wonder if he might have a secondary infection. I took him back to the doctor that evening and SURPRISE! HE HAD THE FLU THE WHOLE TIME!

So basically everything I said in that last post is no longer true. Except I don't think we're moving. We've moved from dismissing the beautiful house to actually walking around in it like some kind of exposure therapy for my house coveting disorder.

Multiple times this weekend we had the following conversation:

Me, hopefully: So, have you been thinking about the house at all?
Ryan, casually, man-like: No, why?
Me: [soul dying sucking sounds]

Perhaps to prolong the inevitable by several months, I impulse bought Charley a full-sized bed on Craigslist, asked Ryan to go out into the rainy darkness to drive an hour round trip to pick it up, and then demanded we clean out the playroom for him right then.

Somewhere along the drive home some of the hardware jiggled its way out of the bed frame and Ryan had to go out AGAIN to Ikea to get replacements only to get home and realize that he was still missing two of those impossible little metal things with the line on top and the hole in the side. Defeated, Charley slept on the mattresses on the floor for the night and I went back to Ikea (ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON) to get the missing parts. When I arrived, I got number seventy. They were seeing customer number FIFTY.

Anyway. Eventually we got it all set up and the desk moved in there and I LOVE IT. We're all really jealous of Charley's room.

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For now we are asking him to keep the floor clear and make his bed every morning since this is the first thing you see from the front door, but we're really path of least resistance kind of people so I'm sure that won't last.

Meanwhile in the dining room, we have a giant piano:

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This arrangement is...working? Helping me overcome my liberal guilt and admitting we need a bigger damn house?

Honestly the thing most likely to tip the balance is the way we now have to listen to the TV on a very quiet Bluetooth speaker so Charley doesn't hear all the swearing and sex humor on Orange is the New Black as he is falling asleep on the other side of the wall. We might get a therapist's office-grade white noise machine to put outside his door because *that* is not going to work long term. Neither is watching TV in my bed, which Ryan prefers, because that is my winding down place at the end of the day and I like to do that ALONE BY MYSELF.

Ryan had a long talk with a realtor about what would need to be done to this house (starting with removing PERFECTLY GOOD appliances and replacing them with ones that are a different color, which makes declaring a 2200 square foot house "too small" seem even more decadent and absurd) and just thinking about all that work gives me stress hives. BLUETOOTH SPEAKER TV FUNTIME IT IS!

Even James and Mary find this conversation exhausting.

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Anyway, today it is SPRING BREAK!!! We have been to therapy and later we are going to a sketch 1970s roller rink with my friend Rosa and my sister and a whole bunch of kids. Followed by happy hour, obviously.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spine shots and real estate and happy friday!

When I picked the kids up from school on Monday afternoon Wes got into the car and immediately started honk-coughing. I turned around to look at him at a red light and was taken aback by his rosy cheeks and sunken eye sockets. "Oh, Wes, are you sick?!" I asked him. He said no, so I dropped him off at piano as usual only to have them come home an hour later telling me that "Mrs. V checked my temperature because I looked really sick. She couldn't tell if I had a fever so she checked Charley's head too for comparison." I had an actual thermometer. 102.6. Oops. Takes a village!

He came to school with me on Tuesday after a morning at the doctor's office being tested for flu (negative). He watched a movie at my desk looking especially pitiful while I taught and then we went home for some miserable lying on the couch. Ryan picked up the other kids and took Charley to therapy, picked up Mary, and then brought everyone home where we all ate dinner very quietly so as not to disturb the ball of misery who had finally fallen asleep on the couch.

He was home all week, but his fever finally broke yesterday at 7:58 AM and I emailed his teacher to explain that he was climbing the WALLS and barring another fever episode in the evening, would be attending school on Friday, since he would technically be 24-hours fever free at the beginning of the day today. I have never seen a child leap so gleefully from bed and get dressed in the morning. As much as he loves TV, he loves his friends more, and he is willing to sit through a day of school just to spend forty minutes with them on the playground.

Yesterday was fun because after class I had to go get SHOTS IN MY SPINE.

You are by now all aware of my ridiculous back problems, beginning with the superknot and progressing nicely down the path of arthritis and bulging disks and nerve involvement, to the point where my right hand was basically useless for writing (on paper and the board) and my right leg and foot would intermittently go weak or numb or start cramping up. Did I mention that all of this excitement was happening at two levels in my spine? Good times. The GP put me on an arthritis medication that was helping, and then sent me to a pain specialist who said I can't take the arthritis med long term and switched me to an anti-SEIZURE medication that works for nerve issues.

It works great in that I can write and trust myself walking up stairs again, and as a side benefit makes me feel a little bit buzzed for about an hour after I take it. #winwin

Since taking 2-6 beer buzz anti-seizure meds for the rest of my life is not an appealing plan for a 36 year old patient, he also recommended epidural steroid injections, which sounded like a party, so I signed right up.

They told me about half the patients choose to have sedation for the procedure, and half did not, and that if I chose sedation I would need to allow two hours for the appointment, fast all morning, and have someone to drive me home. I fasted all morning just in case I wanted sedation, but I still didn't really have a way home and really wanted a Schlotzky's for lunch and decided I'd just wing it.

I regretted that decision almost immediately when, after I had changed into my sexy robe, hairnet, and booties, they led me into a sterile room and arranged me facedown on the table, hooked a bunch of things up to my back, tucked a drape into the top of my undies, and swabbed my whole back with iodine, then left me there for several minutes while the doctor and nurses discussed what to listen to on the radio (Mumford and Sons). I took lots of deep breaths to keep myself from completely losing it. The actual procedure took about two minutes and was as painful as you would expect multiple spine shots to be (actually, I realized later, that what I was feeling was the numbing medication) and when they hit the right spot burning fire ran all the way down the outside of my right leg from hip to pinky toe. And that was awful, but kind of awesome because then I knew they'd gotten exactly the right nerve.

I was pleasantly surprised when they said "OK, you're ready to go!" I mean, if I'd known the whole thing would be over in two stressful minutes I never would have considered sedation. I mean. I had DINNER PLANS.

My lower back has been a little sore since the procedure, but a warm shower helped and my foot hasn't gone numb a single time since then, so I am optimistic. This effect will last anywhere from two weeks to seven years, from what I've heard. Let's hope for seven years.

In other news, we had a long conversation the other night about how badly we need a larger house, which feels elitist and wrong, but there it is. We really need a second living area and another bedroom so Charley can have his own quiet space away from the hubbub of younger siblings, which is enough to drive anyone up the wall, even someone who doesn't spend the entire day deep breathing through normal classroom hubbub. Ryan found a house that had a bedroom on the first floor, separated from the main part of the house by a hallway and the dining room. We could swing it and it is about half the distance between here and the kids' school, with a more direct path that doesn't involve the stupid highway that I hate. We were so close to going to look at it, you guys. Ryan was all ready to talk to the bank. But then we thought about our wonderful street and great neighbors that we love (and the general pain in the ass of moving and selling a house) and we just couldn't pull the trigger. It is so sad to let that one go. But we also really really love this house and don't really WANT to leave. I'm still trying to figure out a solution to these competing feelings. Adding a huge addition on the back would solve the space problem, but probably would cost more than moving and might just make our floorplan weird. Sigh.

And finally, the kids were extra emo this morning while we were getting ready to leave for school. Wes came out of the bathroom, leveled his crazy-eyed gaze at James and said sweetly "I spy with my little eye..." then angrily "TWO PEOPLE WHO NEVER STOP TALKING." then stomped out of the kitchen. And then Mary put down her toast and said wistfully "I looked at my pillow today and saw someone crying and that someone was me."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

To borrow a line from OITNB: Marry someone who knows when to order Chinese

This weekend was so insane that after church we came home and had what we call FOB, which is an old camp term that stands for Feet On Bed. I nobly tried to make it through the front section of the New York Times before joining Ryan, James, and Mary upstairs for a two hour coma of a nap while the other kids did whatever they wanted downstairs as long as it wasn't loud enough to wake me up.

(Charley told me that instead of FOB he was going to have FOC, pronounced dangerously close to f***, and when Ryan and I looked at him in alarm he calmly said "Feet on Couch", then smirked and skipped out of the room)

Afterward we spent some time cleaning up the back yard and bought Chinese takeout for dinner. So aside from the THREE church services we had to go to this morning, it was a pretty chill day.

Thursday night my mom group came over and I provided wine and entertainment in the form of assembling an Ikea bookshelf that we are using to store the kids' rollerblades and shoes.

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Unanticipated side benefit: I can now reach my wineglass from the couch without so much as leaning over, like I had to do when I was using the coffee table.

Friday the fourth graders went on a field trip and the night before Charley was so excited he couldn't sleep so he stayed up with the ladies and helped with the bookshelf. As a result we came home straight after school and he vegetated on the couch while Mary and I did puzzles on the porch and Wes and the kid from around the corner rode bikes up and down the steep sides of the retention pond across the street. Mary took frequent twirl breaks.

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Saturday Ryan's parents came over and we had lunch at a restaurant, which we left abruptly when James returned from the bathroom and announced calmly "I feel like I'm going to barf." Then we spent the afternoon making fondant and making approximately seven hundred snake cupcake toppers that I really should have taken pictures of but did not.

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And then we went to the Cub Scout Blue and Gold, where is the end of year banquet where the kids earn their rank. Ryan is the Cubmaster and was in charge of the whole thing. It was SO cool. The kids had a great time and were so proud and cute in their uniforms. Unfortunately I forgot my phone, so I am waiting for someone I know to send me some pictures of the kids. Charley and Wes won the dessert contest in their categories and Mary ate four cupcakes.

I got a little verclept when Charley's den had to go up on the stage at the end to retire the colors because that's when I realized that HE was one of the biggest kids of the pack now. His den is the leaders and it is his last year in Cub Scouts. Give me a moment, I can't talk about it anymore.

We got home around ten and went to bed then had to get up early and get to church by 8:15 where the kids were playing piano for Children's Sabbath. Wes played the prelude and Charley played the offertory and led the Call to Worship. BIG KIDS DOING BIG KID THINGS STAAHHHHP.

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They were amazing. Really amazing when you consider they'd been up until 10:00 cleaning up a fajita dinner in a church fellowship hall across town.

All of the kids sang with the children's choir at the following two services, so we had to stay for those too. Charley was kind of a wreck after the first service and a half and I really really really wanted just go home because DAMN. Breakfast tacos and donuts made us all feel better and we managed to get through the third and final service. I love the children's choir so freaking much.

And then we went home for a lunch of leftover hot dogs and had a group nap for two hours. A glorious end to a completely insane weekend if you ask me.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

She really is a delightful child

After a crazed week of frantic work and frantic runs to pick up the kids and frantic everything and one horrible day of allergies where I had to push on my sinuses with the heel of my hand to keep the violent sneezing at bay long enough to conduct a meeting with my research student (update: I took three kinds of allergy and cold medicine and two glasses of wine and went to bed then woke up feeling amazing #donttrythisathome), I just finished my last class for the week and feel like Fred Flinstone when the whistle blows on the opening credits.

(Yabbadabbadoo!!)

Ryan continues to meal plan and shop, which is excellent. He planned for these veggie burgers from Pioneer Woman Monday night and they were SO GOOD (we had them as sliders). And so easy. Apparently he also bought some hamburger to make regular sliders for the carnivores in the family, but I didn't know that and made a double batch of these because we always have a couple of extra cans of black beans kicking around. An easy and surprising crowd pleaser! Way cheaper than premade veggie patties too!

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Tonight we are having a chick pea curry with a side of chicken kabobs that I plan to broil because I'm a grown-ass woman who is afraid of the grill.

On Wednesdays the big kids go to choir with Ryan and Mary and I stay home to watch flashmob and Jimmy Fallon lip synch videos on YouTube. Mary is particularly fond of a group of bikini clad women dancing and singing on a street corner in Germany. She also likes the Jimmy Fallon-Emma Stone video that went viral a while back, which she calls "the one with the boy and the girl but not the one with the hat." She has excellent, if age-inappropriate, taste in YouTube fare.

I tried to sneak some ice cream while she was occupied with her magnatiles. Unsuccessful.

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(Our stovetop really is that appalling)

And as I made my go-cup of coffee this morning I was struck by this poignant scene in the sink. They may wear pants that a freshman sorority girl could squeeze into, but they're still my wittle babies with their colorful plastic dishes.

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Except for Charley's French press, obviously

In other non-hippie news, Mary is sleeping better than ever now that she doesn't have the temptation of three siblings and an entire upstairs of books to destroy. This has translated into a 6000% (estimated) improvement in her mood and attitude. Not once this week has she screamed "I DON'T WIKE THIS" and thrown her plate at me during dinner, something that used to happen with embarrassing regularity. As a result of this and the fact that I can actually sit down at 9:00 without making forty-five trips up and down the stairs to put her back in her room and make all the other kids stop yelling and get back in their beds, I feel like I might just survive this phase of my life without my basal ganglia melting and running out of my ears. Take that, hippies.

Monday, February 13, 2017

I've lost my hippie cred

Sunday afternoon we went to Chipotle for lunch and then I took the kids to a playground in our old neighborhood while Ryan went to the grocery store. When we got to the playground I was delighted to see a throng of organic-cotton wearing children and heavily tattooed, hippie parents of the type I usually see only when we venture down to the fancy playground grocery store.

Wow. I thought, This neighborhood is way cooler than I remember! Maybe we should think about moving back over here.

I took the kids to the bathroom like fourteen times then settled in for some idle phone checking while they folicked in the unseasonably warm eighty degree day. Then I overheard a woman talking to her friend about vegetarian recipes--apparently the neighborhood hadn't gotten cooler, I'd just stumbled onto the monthly gathering of the neighborhood vegan potluck group--so I struck up a conversation (Charley has recently given up meat, which is fine, but means I am always looking for recipes).

Somehow the conversation came around to child rearing, as it always does in these situations, and she intimated that she has trouble getting her three year old to eat what the rest of the family is having for dinner (a three year old vegan). She asked me "You have four kids, what's that like? Do you have to make a lot of different choices?"

"Oh no," I said. "I make one thing and they either eat it or don't."

She nodded along with what seemed like admiration. High on the sense of approval, I continued talking. Talk talk talk. Somehow we got on the subject of bedtime. I told her, "Ha! Yeah! Three year olds are INSANE! I just had to buy a doorknob guard to keep mine from wandering out of her room at night, putting on her Elsa dress, and painting with watercolors in her brother's closet and spilling a giant tumbler of paint water all over the floor!" (note: THIS REALLY HAPPENED)

Record scratch. Crickets chirping.

"A what?" she asked kindly?

"An Elsa dress?" I asked, stupidly.

"No, the other thing. For the doorknob?"

"OH, yeah. The doorknob guard. You know, one of those plastic things you put on the doorknob so the kid can't open it. It just kind of goes pbbbth pbbbhth" (miming a plastic thing spinning around and around a doorknob like some kind of child-hating monster.

"Huh" she said noncommittally and then exclaimed "Oh! That reminds me that I need to look on Craigslist for another Elsa dress. My son wears his all the time and it's getting kind of worn out."

"Oh yeah," I said, "I know what you mean."

But the moment was over. She busied herself with Craigslist and asking her son if he'd like the red wig with the braid this time or the blonde wig. Charley sat down between me and the lady on the bench and I engaged in what I now realize to be a war of hippie buzzwords, to regain my lost credibility.

Shrieking "REMEMBER WHEN I USED TO PUT YOU IN ORGANIC COTTON PREFOLDS AND BUMMIS WHISPER WRAPS* AND TOOK YOU TO LA LECHE LEAGUE MEETINGS WHEN I WAS IN GRAD SCHOOL!" would not have been subtle enough.

*this is a secret cloth diaper code for those of you who use disposable diapers (like me, ahem).

"Hey, Charley--I mean WOLF! Should we go home soon and plant the rest of the GARDEN?!" I asked, slightly louder than necessary. "I bought some more COMPOST at the LOCAL nursery yesterday."

I smiled at him like an insane person, which I guess I am because I lock my kids up at night like Petunia Dursley.

When he agreed, I continued. "Should we plant SQUASH? KALE? MAYBE SOME YUUUUMMMMY RAINBOW CHARD?!"

"And don't let me forget to water our compost bin, and remember to put more greens in, OK?"

I should have added "Oh dang, we are out of KOMBUCHA again."

But instead it was time to go, so I used my best earth-mother voice to tell each child individually and at his level that it was time to go get in the car. This worked as well as it usually does which is to say not at all so in the end I just threatened to leave the last straggler there and to hell with hippie street cred.

Charley did me a real solid, though.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Meals should begin with singing

I realized that mainlining caffeine and spending twelve hours a day reading the New York Times in abject horror wasn't doing good things for my limbic system. You should always be kind to your limbic system.

Also, the kids have a way of pushing you right to the edge of the surrendering them at the fire station precipice before ratcheting back into their cute and lovable mode.

Case in point, from tonight's dinner:

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I taught them this song a while back hoping we could sing it at meals on special occasions and if I don't initiate it one of them starts it off EVERY SINGLE MEAL. Even if we are eating out of a bag in the car. Swoon.

The secret is that the real reason you have kids is so that you can live in a summer camp ALL THE TIME.

On the work front several new opportunities to work towards goals that are measurable and valuable (does this sound sufficiently vague?) have arisen and I am spending lots and lots of time on that, which necessarily displaces some of the time I spend working my cortisol levels into the red zone by opening up the newspaper or turning on the radio. Tralalala!

(Also grading. Holy dang the grading.)

Anyway, I am rowing tomorrow and I need to finish working on one of my papers so I don't look a fool in my eleven o'clock meeting, so I need to get moving.

(Ryan is upstairs monitoring Mary, who spilled an enormous cup of dirty water in James's closet while watercoloring in her Elsa dress two hours after bedtime. #magicalspecial)

TGIF, amirite?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Self Care

While I was at the conference last week, and even in the airport on the way home, I marveled at the way I could THINK clearly and intelligently and be productive and keep multiple pieces of information in my head at one time. Compared to the way I usually feel at home, where really my entire brain is a cloud of vague information swirling around the only two thoughts I can manage to keep up with at a given time: 1) What time do I have to pick up the kids? and 2) What are we eating for dinner?

So feeling like I remember feeling once upon a time, when I could get lost in ideas and research and computer programs was downright refreshing. It's nice to know that person still exists, under a layer of exhaustion and scattered-ness dictated by my current situation.

I am very happy. I love the kids and Ryan, it goes without saying. I have a nice house, great friends, enough money to buy tacos for lunch when I feel like it.

But dang it if it isn't frustrating to come off of a conference, ready to throw yourself at your work and with a list of seemingly attainable goals that you can't wait to get started on, only to find yourself only able to muster up enough energy to prep for class because of things like multiple kid wakeups, pee soaked sheets, and a laundry pile threatening to compact its lowest strata into sedimentary rock.

Wednesday night was especially bad. Charley, historically, has not handled me traveling well and it usually manifests as some really awful moods and behavior after I get BACK. This was no exception, so every afternoon this week has been a giant fight. Bedtime has been especially rough. Tuesday night all I wanted to do was watch one episode of the Crown and go to bed. But the kids would. not. go. to. bed. I was already exhausted on Wednesday night when Ryan left for choir around 8:15. My only goal for the evening was to fold the accumulated lithifying laundry (not the dirty stuff, which was still upstairs in similar proportions), wash an overflowing sinkload of dishes, and prepare for class, since I wouldn't have time for that in the morning with my MRI followup appointment.

Two of the kids were DEADSET against these goals and wouldn't stop fooling around, hurting each other, and destroying things upstairs until I finally laid on the floor in between the doors to their rooms. I was still lying there when Ryan got home and by that time I had worked myself into QUITE the state.

I didn't start my list of chores until 10:30, and only then because I was so wound up I couldn't have imagined sleeping. I rage-washed that sinkload of dishes in record time, in the process ripping off a rowing blister that then started bleeding without my notice. I'd folded an entire basket of laundry, getting blood on each item, before I noticed what was happening.

Thursday Ryan texted at work and cautiously asked if I'd like to go have lunch, anywhere I want. This is huge because although we work about seven miles from each other, there are lots of lights and annoying traffic. Usually if we meet for lunch we meet at Jimmy John's, because it eliminates most of this nonsense. I tested his devotion by suggesting Thundercloud, which is within walking distance of my school, but a bit further for him. He was obviously quite concerned because his next text was "Great! Tell me your order and I will call it in ahead of time."

After lunch I had a meeting with two people in my department that was NOT GOOD for a variety of reasons I can't discuss here. The meeting lasted until 3:20 when I finally said "I absolutely HAVE TO leave right now", ran out the door, drove like a maniac, and was still five minutes late to kid pickup. On the way there I had read a stressful email from one of the kids' teachers and was, between everything, sobbing by the time I arrived in the pickup lane.

"WHAT'S THE MATTER, MOM? DID YOU GET FIRED? IS PAPA DEAD?" Charley wanted to know.

We made it home five minutes before the tutor arrived and while I was making her a cup of tea I got out a second mug for myself and secretly filled it with wine. Then assembled dinner for the oven and went and sat on the porch with my coffee mug and alienated a neighbor with an f-bomb-laden account of my week.

The kids went to bed easily Thursday night, which is good because I was having the church ladies over for small group. It was good to vent with them. This is why we have small group.

Also Thursday I made a decision that I needed to get some freaking control over my circumstances if I was to keep from completely losing it. I had an opportunity to skip rowing on Friday morning, which meant a bit more precious sleep. I had a healthy breakfast. I had a meeting about the school garden that was nice and productive. And then I went up to school and worked out in the fitness center (twenty-five minutes of hard erg rowing that felt GOOD. Not working out is really not an option for me anymore) before going to a coffee shop I like to accomplish a concrete list of professional tasks, some related to Thursday's meeting of awfulness.

And then I went home to pack the little kids for their overnight at my parents and attempted a little more work, but kept falling asleep. Instead of fighting it, I set an alarm and curled up on the couch. Picked up the kids, worked in the garden, dropped off the little kids with my mom, and went home to make pizza and get the kids ready for the sitter. Ryan and I went to a lecture series last night called "Hot Science Cool Talks" that was at a historic theater downtown and was just as nerdy and awesome as it sounds. The audience was fun and full of smart people and the talk was so, so good. It was also really hopeful and the speaker took extra care to not turn it into a political bitch-session, which would have been really easy to do since the talk was about climate change. She encouraged us to find common ground with people and ask questions and listen. She and the other panelists said that (most) people are generally good and want what is best, but that we have to communicate better. It was lovely.

This morning Ryan took the big kids to a scout event and now I am A.L.O.N.E. in my house with no plans for the first time in what feels like years. I lazed in bed with the NY Times for a while and then ate two pieces of cake while I downloaded pictures for the school garden bulletin board. I'm working at the desk Ryan set up for me between the living room and the dining room and looking out the window. I signed up for an 8K row tomorrow, which will be challenging and exhausting and fun. And in a minute I am going to go pick up the little kids and we will make chili and bake cookies this afternoon. I am excited.

I think I've figured it out, at least for now. Exercise. Sleep. Healthy food (and sometimes cake). Time with friends. Intellectual stimulation. This is not new information to the rest of the world, I realize. But I think this will be a much better week, no matter what the kids and my colleagues throw at me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Better Living Through Chemistry

I should be working right now, but DAMN, between the gauntlet of headlines on NPR and the despair one feels when they think of how many weeks are left in the semester are putting me into a real funk.

ALSO, I had to have ANOTHER MRI yesterday, this time for my lower back. The first one was for my upper back and the experience of being locked into a noisy coffin with my head LITERALLY STRAPPED DOWN and my face just inches from the ceiling was JUST a bit more than I can handle. That was a year ago and STILL TO THIS DAY every time I think about that cold gray metal ceiling I can feel the panic start creeping up the back of my throat. It is an ACTUAL PHYSICAL SENSATION OF TERROR.

This time, when the doctor said I would need an MRI to see why half of my foot was going numb on the reg, I said there was no way in damn hell I was getting back inside that thing without some pharmaceutical support.

"I'm going to prescribe you two xanax" she said calmly. "Take one on your way there and the second one right before the exam. Make sure you have someone to drive you home." "NOW WE'RE TALKING!" I thought, or perhaps said out loud.

I took one with my coffee at 5:45 AM before I left. By the time I rolled into the parking lot ten minutes later I was like "Hey, man! This is no big deal! I don't know what I was worried about!"

(this is how you know the meds are working)

I didn't take the second pill because I wanted to save it by that point I felt like I could manage the test without it and I wanted to be able to possibly get myself home.

Well. Judging by the way the technician WOKE ME UP after sliding me out of the tube, I'll say that was a successful MRI.

I dressed quickly then headed straight to my favorite diner next door, where I went facedown (figuratively, or as Wes would say "idiom") on a bacon and pear panini.

I think it says a lot that the thing I remember most about the experience was how delicious that sandwich was.

And today the email with the results came in advance of my followup appointment, which is tomorrow morning. There were lots of words like "bulging disk" and "narrowing" and "FUBAR" that were as oddly gratifying as they were sort of scary. I'm mostly hoping they won't tell me to give up rowing and will tell me to just keep taking the geriatric arthritis medication I'm on, because that not only keeps my foot from going numb, it also makes me sleep like a ROCK and gives me a strange fondness for hard candy and wearing slippers in public.

Friday, January 27, 2017

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

I just got back from four days in Seattle last night. I was at a conference and now I'm all fired up and motivated, so this morning I jumped in the shower right after the kids left to get ready for a meeting, put on a nice-ish outfit for a Friday, then went downstairs to finish prepping my draft of a publication we're working on only to find out the meeting was cancelled. So don't I feel silly sitting at my kitchen counter on a Friday morning all ready for work! (Fridays are not blowdrying days, it goes without saying)

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But the good news is that I can spent the two hours I would have spent in the car and walking to the car and parking the car (WHYYY don't we have better public transit?) to write this and hopefully make a little more progress on the draft so I don't have to go into the meeting next week with a bunch of (REF!!!!!) and (FIX THIS SENTENCE IT'S TERRIBLE) notes to self embedded in the text.

I only took like five pictures in Seattle and this is one of them.

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Here's another gem, which was intended to be part of a photo essay called "left elevator door makes me look skinny, right elevator door makes me look fat," but someone got in the elevator with me before I could take the other picture and I felt suddenly ridiculous. Luckily I started on the skinny side.

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Oh! I got to see Mount Ranier from the plane and it was seriously awesome. Also, shout out to Mount Ranier for doing me a solid and not erupting during my visit.

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On the last day I was in town I serendipitously learned that my aunt and uncle were also in town and we met up for dinner and a driving tour of the city. We had so much fun eating Lebanese food and seeing the giant troll!

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I stayed with my official conference roomie Teresa and we had ridiculous fun together as we always do on our science girls' weekend. It was nice to wake up in my own bed this morning but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss waking up to Teresa brewing us both coffee to drink in our beds as we enjoyed the view of the freeway (foreground) and the Cascades (background) out our hotel window. Seattle is a great city and I wish I could have spent lots more time there, and not just because it was described to me by my friend N as "A town that loves coffee and beer." Also because it was gray and cloudy and cool the whole time I was there. I'm giving Ryan a few days to recover and then I will restart my campaign for MOAR TRAVEL because I seriously love it. I'm so lucky to have visited New York and Seattle this year, but what I would really like is to drop everything and spend the year taking the kids to ALL THE PLACES.

My student presented a poster based on our work from this summer and he did a great job, based on the sneaky observing I did from afar. I went to lots of education talks and a bunch of climate talks. Had dinner with a friend of my roommate's who is an accomplished author, then bought her book, which she autographed. Honestly, it was a bit jarring to be around so many smart, thoughtful people and then read the news about all the not so smart thoughtful people who have taken over Washington. I am motivated and have some new ideas and am excited to get started. I am also feeling rested, or I would feel rested if I hadn't gone to bed at 10 PM Pacific time and woken up at 6 AM Central Time.

In other news, Mary and I marched last weekend!

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I have a Thing about crowds and parking hassles and snipers standing on rooftops, so I was feeling pretty intimidated about the whole thing, but a friend of mine had arranged a group and agreed to drive us and that made me feel better. It was SUCH an incredible experience. Tens of thousands of people gathered together to advocate for the dignity and just treatment of all people. A huge crowd and slightly chaotic, but so joyful and empowering. There were so many people it took us more than an hour to get off the Capitol grounds and onto the route, and by that time the front part of the march had already circled back to the Capitol. The mile and a half route was PACKED with people shoulder to shoulder and many more were still crammed onto the lawn. An awe-inspiring sight. Mary got really scared right after we got out of the Capitol gates, so she and I and a friend made our way over to the side and stood in a less crowded spot while we waited for the others.

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It was the most hopeful I've felt since Election Night. I mean. We live in a state where you can honestly feel like you're just some liberal hippie living in a bubble, but when you are standing among more than FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE--and that's just the people who could make it to the march!--it's clear that no, hate does not have a mandate. There is still good in the world. I am not some highly educated elitist snob out of touch with reality. It was a good feeling.

And now I will attempt to keep my head down and do good work and keep using my fancy liberal education to politely advocate for good.