Sunday, December 29, 2019

Roid Rage

I'm sure by now you know about James's...zest for life.  His wild and crazy enthusiasm for everything from broccoli to taking his two good friends to see Star Wars for his birthday?  We say that James is on eleven all the time.  Except for right now, when he is on fifteen because he had a small allergic reaction to something while we were out of town and is now on steroids.  James on steroids is exactly what we would have expected from James on steroids.  The last time he was on them I accidentally woke him up while trying to nebulize him when he was sleeping and he screamed nonsense at me as he ran all over the upstairs then ran out front and sank his teeth into the pillar holding up our porch.

I was nervous about giving him steroids again, but also wanted him to stop wheezing, so we dosed him up and hoped for the best.  He still has a lingering cough but now he has SO MUCH ENERGY HE CANNOT SIT DOWN AND REST LIKE HE IS SUPPOSED TO.

Yesterday all the kids went over to a friend's house, where a babysitter came and stayed with them while we went out for dinner with the parents, who are our friends.  When we came home, at nine o'clock at night, the babysitter told us that James and his friend were playing outside.  I opened the back door to hear an animal-like screaming coming from somewhere in the darkness.  I cocked my head to one side and listened, trying to determine if the screaming whatever it was was happy or dying.  Once my eyes adjusted I learned that the sound was coming from James, and that it was happy.  James on a swing.  Screaming.  Like he was being murdered.  In the dark.  I wonder how many neighbors called the cops?

Getting him into the car was like that YouTube video that went around a few years ago of the psychotic cat some poor guy was trying to put into a kennel.  Ambulances have specialized restraints for people who are high on drugs and it would have been good to have some of those.  At home I asked Ryan to just "get him in his bed however you can" and a few minutes later went upstairs to find James vibrating silently in a lying down position, staring intensely at something across the room.  Then a switch flipped and he abruptly fell asleep.

This morning at church he was up and then down and then up and then down and then up and then down.  When it was time to hold hands and sing the closing song he hung from Charley and Mary's hands and half-layed on the floor, legs akimbo.  Then he popped up and sprinted two laps around the sanctuary, one forward one backward.

He ran up the stairs to the stage and then jumped down, disappeared behind the Chrismon tree, charged perilously close to the mobility-impaired members of the congregation creeping toward the doors on their walkers, all the while with a crazed smile and loud cackle.

Ryan nodded an apology at the pastor, who was just sort of, staring, with his mouth open, "He's on steroids" he explained.

Wes can't resist baiting him and grabbed James tie as he ran past.  He ran out of the sanctuary and onto the sidewalk.  James broke away from Ryan and screamed "CHARGE!!!" and shot down the sidewalk toward the parking lot.

I had already arranged for an afternoon reading by myself at a coffee shop so I have no idea what is going on at home right now.  But I am very very glad this will have worn off before he has to go back to school.  And so is his teacher.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


We had a party on Saturday night and we have been eating our way through the leftovers ever since.  Tonight I realized I could use the five remaining potatoes and one of the four remaining boxes of vegetable broth and an old onion to make a convincing potato soup.  And also that meant we could use up the bag of salad and some of the leftover tomatoes.  Since I had to go to the store anyway, I bought a package of chicken sausage to go along with it because leftovers from Wigilia are very starch heavy and I thought that might be why we all felt like ass.  The kids charged right through that pot of soup and all of the sausages and then turned on Ryan's plate (he is much nicer than me) and then swarmed the pantry like a Biblical plague of locusts.  All told we also used up a big box of tomato soup, half a loaf of bread, some peanut butter, and every cracker that wasn't nailed down.  I will not make soup on a swimming day again, no matter how proud I am of my home economic skills. Tomorrow I'm straight up making a party size Stouffer's lasagna out of a box and slamming it onto the table with a handful of forks.

As an aside, posting is slow because the Flickr app on my phone literally ONLY WORKS FOR RYAN, so if I want to upload pictures by myself I have to email them to myself one by one, download them onto my laptop, and then upload them. Ryan can use the app like a normal person (because?? I do not know) and I find the injustice of this situation RAGE-inducing.

In (literal) magical special holiday news, Friday we dressed the children as tiny Magi and sent them into the night to pay homage to my friend, her husband, and their new baby, who were dressed as the Holy Family.  This is a favorite family tradition that we have been doing since a two month old Wes played Baby Jesus in 2008. That was also the year Charley (2, dressed as a shepherd) stole the show by wandering to the front of the "stage," standing directly in front of a spotlight, and staring blankly into the audience for the entire thing.


As always, they wanted to try all the parts.



Then Saturday I was up early to badger the family through cleaning the house while I cooked literally all day long. We had fifty people over Saturday night, half of them children, for a feast of pierogies, soup, and fruit, with a little bit of salmon and a big pile of mac and cheese (for the kids, secretly for the adults). Ryan once again manned the pierogi cooking station.


He also made this--stunning--charcuterie board which I cannot stop talking about because I am so very impressed with the fact that I provided him with a big pile of rando ingredients and a cursory Google image search and he made this happen.


We capped off the evening with a carol sing-a-long led by my friend Jimmy on guitar. It was honestly just the best you guys. I just sat there thinking about how lucky I am to have all these people in my life willing to sing together in my living room after eating a meatless Christmas feast. I could not stop smiling the whole time and well into the next day #dork, which was a little inappropriate when I kept snickering whenever I remembered something from the night before as I was sitting in the contemplative chapel service at church, which is very dark and quiet. Get ready, everyone else I know, we're doing this again in June for my birthday, except with German food.


I turned my grades in on Monday morning after rowing, which means this not so good semester is OVER. I'm relieved and also at loose ends because I'm used to having more to DO. Today I took a nap and did four loads of laundry watching a movie on Netflix about divorce that stars Kylo Ren. Then I got super bored and hungry and went to a coffee shop for some breakfast tacos and to spend a couple of hours fretting about a research project from this summer I'm supposed to present a poster on in a month. I've eaten like ten pounds of peppermint bark and a tin of Christmas cookies from a neighbor. If the kids don't get off school and stay home to provide some accountability I will likely never shower or eat a non-dessert food ever again.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

With boughs of holly

The period between the end of the semester and Christmas Eve is always a crazy sort of half-marathon half-sprint kind of situation and this year is shaping up nicely. This week on Wednesday I had an early class, a meeting/coffee with a friend, and then a choir concert, after which I took James to guitar, then drove back across town to get Charley from swim practice, and then we stopped at the grocery store where I sent James and Wes in to buy eggs and maple syrup (separately, thank goodness I had cash), and then home to make pancakes and stare gape mouthed into the middle distance. Thursday began with another off campus meeting that was ten miles in the opposite direction of my usual commute, then two classes, then I had to leave again to take Charley to the doctor, then I had to run him home to get picked up for swim and then get back to school for our annual service of lessons and carols.

But friends, in spite of the insanity, Thursday night was absolutely magical. Candlelight is one of my favorite university traditions (unlike failing to show up for class the day before breaks and wearing tights as pants). The first time I attended was many years ago and I was absolutely enthralled when the choir started singing "Once in Royal David's City" as they processed down the center aisle. One year when we went, Charley fell asleep in my lap, so I didn't walk out when everyone else did and that's when I learned that the choir comes back into the sanctuary and finishes singing all the carols in the dark, lined up on either side of the sanctuary, holding their candles. Last year was my first time in the choir (not the choir that walks in singing, the other choir that joins that choir for one song) and I loved being a part of the service. My choir sang another song this year and as a bonus, the chaplain who is my friend J asked me if I would like to do one of the readings in the second service.  And I think I managed to play it cool in my response, but there was definitely some internal "squee"ing happening #nerd.

Imagine my excitement when I learned that the readers got to WALK IN with the choir that sings Once in Royal David's City.  Just.  Imagine.

The reading was everything I thought it would be up there on the giant pulpit with the stairs, looking straight ahead and trying not to be too freaked out that two of the pastors from my church were in the congregation.  I sat back down and a few minutes later got up to sing with my choir.  And then there were candles again.  And familiar carols.  I walked out with the rest of the readers and the choir, singing by candlelight, and then came back in to finish up all the carols in the nearly empty sanctuary.

One of my favorite parts is always when the last note of the last song hangs in the air for a moment and then dies and then it is quiet and dark and then the choir, finally done with their exhausting night, breaks character and turns back into the goofy bunch of students they really are.  They do such a good job.  But they are also like nineteen.  I love this age group.

It was such a great night.

(My friend S would say, "It was such a great night AND I went home and inhaled two fried eggs and two slices of American cheese on a slice of toast and washed it all down with two glasses of wine" because she likes to point out when two seemingly conflicting things can be true at the same time:  It was amazing.  It was a LOT.)



On the homefront we finally got our act together and decorated for Christmas last weekend.  This was prior to Candlelight, so I was still having trouble getting into the holiday spirit (no problem at all getting into the cranky end-of-semester professor spirit), but I put myself to the task of faking it until I made it.  Fortunately the kids' overwhelming enthusiasm is infectious and the house really does look pretty.






There would be a cute video of Mary hanging ornaments on the tree but all you can hear in the background is two of the kids spanking each other and yelling "OOOH!" and one kid farting loudly and then exclaiming "Oh wow, I can practically TASTE that one!!"



We didn't even have time to put the lights on our poor tree before the ornaments went up so that is an engineering problem Ryan will need to solve before we have friends over on Saturday.  On a related note, I have to make like nine-ish dozen pierogies by Saturday, which would obviously be easier if I was an Eastern European country-dweller without an afterschool activity schedule and finals to grade and with a half dozen female relatives living within walking distance.  Today I coped with this anxiety by vacuuming the stairs and reading a book in my front yard.