No, Seriously, We Are Thankful

There is a french door of sorts that closes off the tiny wood paneled vestibule that is the entrance of our home. It was open when I came out of the powder room making it easy to notice that the second pane from the bottom on the right side was cracked. I hollered for Z who hollered for the boys. They were playing by the door in our hallway moments before while Z made the dough for rolls and I decorated gingerbread cookies.

broken glass

Z asked T what happened. T stood on the stairs taking stock of the situation–the cracked glass, the furious parents. “Well.” he started, “Well. You see, it was a squirrel…”

“NO!” Z spluttered. “Do not make up a story! Do not lie to us! TELL. US. WHAT. HAPPENED!” Z noticed I’d turned my back to T, unable to stop the shaking of silent laughter. “Go to the kitchen.” he hissed to me.

I fled, thankful to get out of T’s line of sight. T eventually told his father C’s head made the crack. T pushed him into the door.

I’ve never seen Z so angry at one of the boys. T is up in his room and he’ll be staying there for a very long while. He has lost his bedtime routine-no story, no songs, no cuddles until he goes back to school on Monday. It’s the biggest punishment we have doled out thus far. But dude, (and we did explain this to him) C could have been seriously hurt.

As Z pointed out we do have much to be thankful for–we could have spent the day in the emergency room.

piece of work

What a piece of work this kid is.

Rewind 33 years or so. I was T’s age. It was summertime and the screen door was letting a breeze into our kitchen. My folks had left me alone at the table to finish my meal, perhaps they were putting my sister to bed. The stick of margarine sat in front of me in the butter dish. It looked delicious. Yellow and soft and I just had to try it. I reached out my finger and skimmed it along the top. It was even better than I imagined. Five minutes later and there was an enormous divot in the middle of the stick. I was filled with dread, there was no way to hide what I’d done. Eventually Mom and Dad returned. My Mom, who notices everything, saw the margarine right away. “What happened?”

I panicked. “A bear came through the door and ate the butter. I was really scared.”

My punishment was no treats for a week. Both Mom and Dad were able to hold it together until I’d left the room before they burst out laughing.

Bear. Squirrel. This kid, man this kid is a carbon copy of me. Only vastly improved. I mean, a squirrel is a million times more believable.

thanksgivukkah

Thanksgivukkah cookies.

One more quick story and I’ll stop imposing on your holiday time…We had a Friendsgiving this weekend. More than 20 people at the house. A table made from an old hollow core door and sawhorses joined the beautiful dining table Z made back in grad school. The kids ate on a blanket spread in the living room, picnic style. It was a fucking awesome night. So awesome I didn’t take a single picture.

Everyone had gone home save our closest friends who were packing up their gear. T was holding on to the leg of one of us (I will not sell out which one) and that person let a lovely, loud, and resonating fart rip. We all laughed. T collapsed onto the floor and laid rigid on his stomach with his hands by his sides. “I’m a turd!” he proclaimed. I do believe it was the funniest thing he has ever done and it was definitely the most perfect end to Friendsgiving imaginable.

us

Told Z I needed one more picture for the post. He agreed, but then pulled this shit. Eh, it’s more honest than one of us smiling would have been. Happy Thanksgiving, folks. My wish for you: may none of your children slam their sibling’s head into glass today! Yup, that’s how much I love you.

Thankful

There is a teeny tiny chance that one of our best friends will have to be in the city for work near Thanksgiving and maybe, just maybe he’ll be able to come up here for the holiday.

When he texted me about it yesterday I couldn’t believe it. This is the first year we haven’t had solid Thanksgiving plans since moving to Syracuse. We aren’t traveling to see family. Family isn’t traveling to see us. We are sad about both of those facts, but we have obligations at home and just can’t travel this year. Our closest Syracuse friends are going out of town. We invited Berkshire friends who had come for Thanksgiving a few years ago, but they already had plans. I told Z I wasn’t doing a huge turkey dinner for 4 of us and he agreed.

But I love Thanksgiving. I love cooking a huge meal. I love taking the time to be thankful for our life. We decided to have a Friendsgiving the Saturday before. It looks like we are going to have an incredibly full house. The usual suspects from Halloween plus a bunch of other people. We can’t wait.

And we received an invitation to a day-after-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. So we will be celebrating plenty.

Z is very into celebrating when the mood is right. He cares less about specific days when you HAVE to do something and more about sincerity of intent. Because he is a thoughtful person. Um….I care about the day. The actual proper day. And tradition. Because I have a stick up my ass.

Yesterday our dear friend let us know he might be able to be here for Thanksgiving. Suddenly there was potential for the actual day to be significant. And last night Z was at a Halloween party. One of our friends asked if we wanted to go to his folk’s house for Thanksgiving with his family. In one day we suddenly had options. We will get to celebrate not only around the day but actually on the day.

When we lived in Providence one of my work friends took Z and me under his wing and always invited us to spend holidays with his family. He was horrified that we didn’t have family around and let us borrow his wife’s and his. Our friend here is doing the same. To those of you who live near extended family? I know it comes with a different set of issues than living with no family nearby, but during the holidays it can be pretty magical. When you guys share your families with holiday orphans you really are doing a great kindness. People being nice. Rapidly becoming my favorite part of life.

woody guthry

Totally stole this picture from FB. Z as Woody Guthrie last night.

We had two Halloween parties to attend last night, one with the boys and one after they went to bed. But our sweet T is rocking a pretty terrible cold. At the last minute we pulled the plug on the first party so T could veg on the sofa and we could mop up the intensely prolific flow of snot from his nose. He was upset about missing the party, but we gave him a bonus piece of candy and let him watch Return of the Jedi. Jabba the Hut makes everyone feel better. And I stayed home while Z went to the second party.

hair cut

My little snot head is a bit better today. He and I got our hair cut. For the first time he sat on the seat himself instead of on my lap. I did ask him if he wanted his hair short, we are letting him drive the boat when it comes to length. But he said in his husky sick voice, “Nope. Just a trim!”

Anticipation

We had a fucking blast last night. Over the last few years we’ve become friends with several neighborhood families. When we are planning a get together it doesn’t feel like a big deal because it is just the usual suspects. Z and I invited the gang over for dinner before trick or treating last night. I was making beans and rice anyway. We had a ton of vegetarian leftovers for the non-meat eaters. Wednesday night Z and I realized that the not-big-deal included six kids and ultimately nine adults. The cool part is it still didn’t feel like a big deal. We were relaxed and actually excited about having everyone over. There always seems to be plenty of food. The chaos is actually a hell of a lot of fun. We’ve gotten used to having a large crew over and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Which is good because by this time next year two more babies will have joined the group.

Bonus: it was warm last night. So warm that the steady rain didn’t seem to matter. There has been snow on several of the Halloweens since we moved here. Warm and wet is infinitely better.

After we settled the exhausted boys into bed Z and I loaded the dishwasher and chatted about the evening. He told me that he and our friend had a disagreement about what was better-anticipation or the event itself. Our friend thought experiencing the moment was better and Z insisted the anticipation was best.

I think both Z and I were a bit shocked by the vehemence of my reaction. I couldn’t believe he would think anticipation was better. I was actually furious. And sad that he didn’t enjoy actually living as much as he enjoyed thinking about future events.

“The week before Christmas is way better than the day after Christmas.” he said. “Duh.” I replied. “But it isn’t better than Christmas morning!” “Well, what is sexier? Lingerie or nakedness?” “Um….nakedness?” I answered. It was his turn to get frustrated, “NO! Lingerie! The unknown is always sexier!” “I’m sorry, dude. Are you actually saying you’d rather think about sex than have sex? Because that’s just sad.” “Oh….well, ok.”

Ah. I was starting to get somewhere.

A moment later I had it. “Are you telling me that anticipating holding your son for the first time was better than actually holding him?” I looked at his face and knew I had him. “No,” he admitted. The vindication I felt was completely juvenile and stupid. I was relieved enough to tease him. “And what about marrying me? How could the anticipation of marrying a crazy person hold a candle to actually dealing with being married to someone this crazy?” He shook his head at me, “Oh Karen. When we got married I had no idea how crazy you actually were.” Valid point.

————————————————-

What was the deal? Why should I give a fuck if he likes anticipation better than the actual event? Why did I care about convincing him otherwise? It isn’t like the dude is living in his head. He embraces life. He’s fully engaged. I wish I was more like him.

This morning it came to me.

Anticipation.

Anticipation.

I have an anticipatory anxiety disorder. Anticipation isn’t excitement to me. It is fear. And migraines. And panic attacks. And diarrhea. Anticipation is the very worst part of life. The kicker is that often what I’ve been anticipating turns out to be not only bearable, but wonderful.

If anticipation makes Z happy so be it. I shouldn’t berate him until he comes around to seeing it my way. My bizarre reaction last night was basically because anticipation scares the living shit out of me. Literally. No, no. Not how the kids these days misuse literally. I really mean literally.

So what say you, friends? Anticipation? Or the event itself? Which one is better? I promise not to fight with you, I’ll respect your opinion.

brothers

I just wanted a decent picture. T started off by tormenting C.

back off

C has started to fight back. Boys! Pull it together!

best of the bunch

Ok, this is as good as it gets these days.

Friendship

T is in a summer school program in the mornings for the next 6 weeks. Yesterday we dropped him off at school and the rest of us headed to Green Lakes Park. Z and C hung out at the playground and beach and I took a brisk walk around the two mile trail that loops one of the lakes. I’ve never been a committed exerciser, but I ended up doing a lot of physical activity while we were traveling. Since we’ve been home I’ve been a lump and put on 4.5 lbs. A walk around the lake seemed like a solid idea. And we have a season pass to the park, Z suggested we could do it every day. I’m kinda into the idea. Of course, this means I need to buy some actual sneakers and wear appropriate clothing. Because my feet were killing me by the end and my jeans were, well I won’t gross you out with details. Let’s just say it was humid and I’m a sweater.

I didn’t think to bring earbuds, so my mind wandered while I settled in to the rhythm of walking and it landed on my friend Kevin. We spend the night at his place last week on the way back home and it was so fucking good to see him. When I met him in the fall of 1991 it wasn’t clear that I was meeting someone who would eventually become family. We drifted apart after he went to college two years before I did. And then the summer before my senior year of college geography brought us back together. His roommate was Z and the rest is history.

As I was huffing and puffing around the lake I was thinking about all the crazy adventures we had together, mostly engineered by him. Back in the late 90s when we all lived in Brooklyn we kept wanting to get into an exercise routine. Z wanted no part of it. He’d just roll his eyes at us and tell us to go do our thing. For a while we did yoga classes at Integral Yoga in the Village. We would meet up and fast walk around the track in McCarren Park. We’d weave through the packs of Hasidic women wearing wigs and long denim skirts pushing strollers, their only concession to exercise gear being gleaming white sneakers. Inside the track several pickup soccer games would be going on at one time, every player Latino. The benches would be filled with skinny, slouching hipsters chatting and smoking. I’d listen to the Yiddish, Spanish, and English as we pushed ourselves to go faster and think this is it. This is New York. There is nowhere in the world I would rather be. A couple of years later after we moved out of Williamsburg we’d meet in his apartment in Fort Greene and do the New York City Ballet Workout video. One day he told me he had a surprise. When I got to his apartment there were two black tutus sitting on the floor. We cracked ourselves up as we plied around the apartment wearing them.

And that’s the thing. He made everything crazy and fun. If you are going to do a ballet video why the hell wouldn’t you wear tutus?

During those years we didn’t just half-heartedly try to get in shape. We took a massage class together, we worked through The Artist’s Way (a kind of self-help/creativity book) together, we hiked, we camped, we took road trips, we went to the Halloween Parade in the Village, we went swing dancing. When I think back to the adventures I had in my early 20s Kev is almost always part of them.

My favorite 4th of July was spent with him. Fifteen years ago today he took the train up to my apartment in Inwood in the morning, which is the neighborhood at the northern tip of Manhattan. We walked the length of Broadway and watched the fireworks from the bottom of the island. Near the start of the trip we bought a disposable camera (’98-no digital) and snapped pictures of each other all day. It was exhausting and magical and one of those rare days when you realize in the moment that you are doing something you’ll remember forever. After the fireworks we took the train back to Williamsburg, to Z and Kev’s apartment. Z had been working all day, he missed one hell of a good time.

As I neared the end of my walk yesterday I thought about how all the people we love the most have met Kev over the years. We all haven’t lived in the same town for going on a decade, there are some years we don’t get to see each other. But no matter what he is a permanent part of our life. And we fantasize about someday living close to each other again. He is the only person who isn’t Z or my sibling that the boys call Uncle. We want T and C to really know him.

He’s been to Syracuse several time to see us and last year he and his lovely girlfriend came up for the 4th of July. After thinking about him for the length of the walk I suddenly remembered that we walked around that very lake with him a year ago.

So this 4th of July I’m thinking about friendship and fun and love. Maybe not patriotic. Or hell, or maybe it is. Because we are lucky enough to be able to indulge in friendship and fun and love. Go America.

kev and karen broadway

Fifteen years ago today. Our walk down Broadway. Jesus, we were kids.

kev and karen dancing

Dancing in my apartment in Inwood.

z and kev at wedding

The groom and the bestest best man in the history of the universe.

Kev and Karen and berries

At some hiking conference in PA. This just cracks me up.

Kev K and C

He missed C being born by like a day.

4th july read

Last 4th of July he brought up sparkers and his fancy camera so we could fool around. His lovely girlfriend is a librarian, so she, Z, and I naturally spelled out READ. This is being friends with Kev in a nutshell. You don’t just get together for the 4th. You make crazy pictures with sparklers.

three amigos

Last week. The three amigos.

I Can’t Make This Shit Up

Ok. Ok. Ok. I know. This is supposed to be a Mommy blog/mental health struggles blog/parenting blog/gross bodily functions blog/I’m a self involved ass and I have a blog blog. It is not supposed to be a moment by moment recap of the minutia of our family health blog.

And yet.

It’s getting hard to be philosophical and relaxed about this healthcare shit. The details don’t matter-when C started coughing, when he spiked a fever, when he threw up in the middle of the night after a particularly nasty bout of said cough. We were at my folk’s family practice this morning on the advice of our pediatrician office back home. They did a chest x-ray and we were told he has pneumonia. So we are back in Augusta at the Children’s Hospital. C was admitted a few hours ago and we are in a different room on the same floor with the same attending physician. Which is cool, a friendly face never hurts.

I called our doc’s office on the way here and left a message on the nurse hotline and our very awesome doc was kind enough to call us back herself. If you live in Syracuse and have a kid, for the love of god go to Brighten Hill Pediatrics. They are the shit. The upshot is our doc, the nurse practitioner who C saw this morning, the folks in the Pediatric ER, the folks in the hospital proper have all told us that C is going to be fine. He is totally going to be fine. We are doing the right thing by having him seen, he is going to be fine.

It has been a royally shitty week. The Cordano-Leonard healthcare saga doesn’t make for the most scintillating reading, but haven’t we gone over the fact that I’m a selfish ass? Writing about what scares the hell out of me helps. And I have the admittedly grandiose notion that if I write about something that is hard for me maybe someday someone who is going through the same thing might come across this (not sure how that would actually happen, but why quibble with details) and be helped just a tiny bit.

So. If that mythical person who is going through this someday does find this here is what I have to say:

I know how your feel. I’m sorry your kid is sick. I promise I get it. Let me tell you what, this week has been scary, this week has been awful, we just want our sweet son to be healthy. But so many people have told us that something incredibly similar has happened to them and everything eventually works out. On Monday the nurse I spoke to from our practice before heading into the hospital the first time told me that one year she spent Christmas day in the ER with her 10 month old who had croup. A friend on facebook shared her family was hit with a stomach bug last New Years and then got lice. Our neighbor texted that her youngest was horribly ill on a family trip to Hawaii years ago and it took them ages to get home. Hell, even one of the doc’s at this hospital told us her son had the exact same weird reaction to the chicken pox vaccine. And it seems everyone in the world was sick over the holidays this year. So this stuff happens. It helps to know it happens to everyone. We all have our war story of how the plague ruined some holiday when we were far from home. And knowing my friends and loved ones have been there and gotten through their shitty story makes me feel safer. It makes me feel like maybe things actually will be ok. You know what? You and your kid are going to be ok, too. Promise.

Sweet C back in the ER. This is the first picture where he looks just like my Daddy. 

He was pretty pissed about the back-of-the-hand IV.
Grumpy baby and weepy Mama. I cannot handle him getting poked. Was sent out of the room when the nurses came in to do the IV and was crying pretty heavily in the hallway. The ER Attending happened to be standing there and told me there was a valium salt lick in the waiting room. How I wish she wasn’t kidding.
Daddy doing a work call while C snoozed once we were settled in our accommodations for this evening.
Hey friends and family? Thank you. Thanks for reaching out and texting or messaging or emailing or calling and letting us know you are there. Thanks for offering to help. To those close by, thanks for helping. Thanks for being in our lives. You have cheered us up tremendously over the last week. We know this shit isn’t life or death, but it has blown big time. We are run down and feel like garbage, and not to get to gross and sappy, but your love and friendship has meant a great deal. 

Update

The best way for me to approach this situation is to be flip. Because honestly things could be a hell of a lot worse. And because if I don’t I’ll probably get all dramatic and cry.

Last night Z’s iPhone made it into the wash. Which is bummer city. He did a FB status to explain why calling him would be rather ineffectual and a friend kindly commented that the year could only get better for him.

He went to bed before 10pm, trying to live the dream of the previous night which didn’t quite work out. By 10:30pm he was in the bathroom with C’s stomach virus. I haven’t seen him that sick in more than a decade. It was pretty scary. We got him settled in a different bedroom so I could continue to take care of C in ours.

Less than an hour later C had diarrhea and he puked a little. And I started to feel queasy  I called for backup in the form of my mom (thank fucking god we were still at my parent’s house). We had to get a new sleeping arrangement for C because of the vomit in the pack n play. The great game of musical beds began-my dad in with T, my mom and me in her bed, C nearby in a crib. And by 2am I had the virus as well.

OK, this isn’t flip, it’s more of a just the facts, ma’m deal. I’m trying not to puke here so cut me a little slack.

And I have pink eye in my right eye. And I still have a sinus infection. And it feels like knives are stabbing my belly. Is this was C felt like? My heart aches for him. This is the first time I’ve been too sick to care for him. I hate it.

So yes, 2013 managed to get worse after the hospital stay. But from here on out it seriously can only get better.

Swollen eye completely crusted over. I think this is a good look for me.
Bathing cousins. Because sometimes you need a little cute after a depressing post. 

….And Happy Fucking New Year’s

At my parent’s family practice office yesterday I filled out new patient forms for myself and suddenly realized it would probably be the last time I wrote ’12 as the year, which was kind of cool. I was diagnosed with another sinus infection, and trudged off to the pharmacy with a prescription for nose spray. The older boys were out with my dad and sister. Back at home the younger boys, Z, and my mom were my lunch companions. Before we ate Z told me he was bushed and planned on going to bed right after the boys went down for the night. Because you just stop giving a shit about New Year’s when you have young kids and know you will be up at 5:30am no matter what.

Things get a big blurry after that. C started vomiting and having diarrhea. I was on the phone with our pediatrician’s office back home at one point. The practice rocks and has a nurse hotline. The nurse who was helping me was so kind. I brought her up to speed with C’s health-he has had a rough December-and she said, “Oh! You are on the vacation from hell! I’m so sorry, but don’t feel alone-we have all been there.” She was so supportive and gave great information, but the upshot was if the kid didn’t pee we had to take him in to be seen. And being seen on New Years Evening meant taking him to a pediatric ER. And the closest pediatric ER to my folk’s home is an hour and a half away in Augusta, GA.

By 4pm it was clear that we were going to Augusta. We got here at 6. They pushed fluids via IV for hours and my sweet little man who hadn’t had a wet diaper since 5:30am just wouldn’t pee and the diarrhea got worse and worse. They decided to admit us just before midnight and got us up to the room around 2am. Z and C were cuddled up asleep by 2:30am. I was a wired, frightened, anxious mess. At least I remembered I have chill pills for moments like these. I finally fell asleep at 3:30….and C was up at 5:30. Because Z was right. No matter what happens on New Years Eve your kids will wake at 5:30 in the morning. I think it’s actually a law. And I did end up scribbling ’12 a bunch more times when I met with the billing person at the ER. What’s the old saying? When you make plans for the future god laughs at you? I guess it is true even if that future is less than 24 hours away.

Our sweet, brave little trooper is fine. Or he will be fine. He’s just had a terrible month health-wise. Chicken pox vaccine (we’ll come back to that in a minute), ear infection, staph infection on a pox mark on his nose, eye infection, several high fevers, diarrhea, vomiting. Happy December! Turns out a small percentage of kids who get the chicken pox vaccine have an eruption of the pox marks. They get around 50 rather than 100-300 the kids who actually get the illness have. C didn’t technically have Chicken Pox, but there was a minuscule chance he could have infected someone who hadn’t had it. Um, like my dad. Who we’ve been staying with. Do not get me started on how guilty I feel about that. It was our first adverse reaction to a vaccination. The only really bad part was that initial pox mark got a staph infection. It’s on the side of his nose and he scratched it. And I’ve got to say the whole thing has been a bummer, but it in no way swayed me from believing in the imperative nature of vaccinations to protect our population.

A concept that I’ve read about on-line that is supported by many anti-vaccination folks is the belief in following the “natural course of life” when it comes to childhood illness. I’ve got to say I don’t get it. If I followed the “natural course of life” when it came to my health my boys wouldn’t have a mother. Now, I recognize I’m often prone to hyperbole, but not in this case. If the retained placenta had not been removed 5 days after T was born I would have eventually hemorrhaged and died. Already the amount of blood I was losing was impressive. And if the doctors hadn’t treated me to stop the actual hemorrhage that happened after C was born I would have died. As it was I lost more than a liter of blood in about 10 or 15 minutes. In both cases I was grateful for invasive western medicine. If we get pregnant again (which isn’t going to happen) my doc assured me that preventative steps will be taken to make sure my uterus does what it is supposed to after the baby comes out.

In my mind “natural course of life” leads to a lot of dead people. If that is the decision you make for your family it’s one thing, but when we are talking about communicable disease we are not talking about one family. That unvaccinated child who becomes ill can infect other children who are not protected because of age, or a compromised immune system that precludes them from receiving a vaccine. Herd immunity works. We all need to participate.

So yes, I’m in the hospital with my amazing and wonderful 16 month old. The Chicken Pox thing is a small piece of the puzzle of why we are here. It certainly wasn’t the driving factor, but even if it was I would still make sure he received it. The last two days have sucked balls. I’ve cried a lot. My sweet boy has cried a lot. But this is fixable. He is going to be fine even if we have to spend another night here (and we might-the earliest we’ll be out is this evening, if the diarrhea doesn’t get figured out we’re definitely here till tomorrow morning at least). I’m grateful to our access to steller medical care (seriously, if you find yourself in Augusta, GA with a critically ill kid I can’t say enough good things about this place), I’m grateful to western medicine, I’m grateful to my folks and sister who are caring for T. I miss him so much right now, but I don’t have to worry about him. I’m grateful for my partner in crime who is taking a much need nap with our sweet little baby right now. This might have not been the best New Years Eve of our marriage, but we spent it together. And all things considered I still feel incredibly lucky.

Sad sweet boy before he had explosive diarrhea all over the fetching green hospital gown.

Yellow gown, IV fluids, feeling like utter shit.

He finally peed! A little early morning reading. 

Much needed Daddy cuddles and naps. 

Z truthfully informed me this morning that he loves me, but I look like hell. He doesn’t look so hot himself. But I figure that all you folks who went out and partied last night also aren’t at your best this morning. So how different were our nights anyway?