I have swine flu, and cupcakes

Well, I have a respiratory illness anyway. Have had since Sunday. My condition seems to be improving however so I won't be one of the panicked people spreading their germs around while sitting in the doctor's office. Also, I can't smell very much, and I also don't seem to be sick at all either. I'm thinking the two are related. And I would rather be snotty than puking so...

Here's a list of thoughts on the subject.

1. Interesting that there is suddenly a "pandemic" (only no one has died and few are sick in the US) during which the nomination of Sebelius (opposed by many Americans) is pushed through and confirmed in a rush so the CDC can have someone to "handle the CRISIS". Call me a cynic, but there seem to have been a lot of crisis these past hundred days that push major policy change.

2. The people dying of swine flu are dying from severe pneumonia complications that arise. Mexico city has very poor air quality, and lots of poor people with compromised immune systems. Mystery solved.

3. It's a good idea to let children, and yourself, cough when they are congested rather than give them cough suppressants. Then their body can do the work of getting stuff out of their lungs and it won't become pneumonia. Just like fevers are how a body fights off illness by elevating the body temperature to kill the bug. Suppressing fevers allows illness to last longer. But what do I know. I'm just a mom.

The GH turned 34. We celebrated with lime cupcakes and homemade pizza. We also let the kids have some, drum roll please... root beer! The great thing about forcing our children to lead such deprived lives is that they are fawning and adulatory when we do let them have something sugary and fizzy. Of course this wasn't just any root beer, this was Virgil's micro brewed. Nothing but the best for our poor soda deprived offspring.

I have more than a dozen cupcakes hidden in the oven still. I'm not sure what to do with them, it's too much sweet for us.

The big party is Sunday, with friends and family, and it turns out, every one else who has a birthday in April or May that we know, which is a lot of people. Should be fun.


Around the World in 80 Clicks

During what I now refer to as the great computer death of 2009, which is an ongoing saga of not having my own working computer anymore, Beck tagged me for the Around the World meme started by "Her Bad Mother and her friend David". And since I heart Beck, and I can actually think of something to say about this meme, I'm going to participate.

I'm supposed to list my 5 favorite things about being a mom.

1.) That moment in the middle of the night when they wake up in a panic and I can soothe them back to sleep with just a touch and a comforting murmur of assurance. I love the way my hand on their back or the sound of my voice has the power to make everything all right for them again when they are little.

2.) Watching a child discover or do something for the first time. Sometimes there are moments, just sitting on the floor with them watching them stack blocks, or make pretend food for me to sample in play dishes, or write their name for the first time, that I am so aware and present in the moment that my body starts to tingle a bit. Kind of weird I know, but neat.

3.) Getting to know their emerging personalities, quirks, humor. Those moments when they act just like a person, only smaller.

4.) Those golden moments when they all play together, are kind to each other, and seem to really like being together.

5.) That somehow this colossal task of needing to help these short people somehow grow up into adults, who will have all the skills and life training necessary to make it on their own, has caused me to grow up myself.

6.) The GH wants me to list making them in the first place. Which is true, but kind of goes without saying I think.

So now I get to tag people. I tag...

Journey Mama who is in northern India with her husband and 4 kids right now.
Embejo in New Zealand
The Hojos who started out in the UK an are now in Australia
My best friend Chantelle who is in Niger with her family
and Adam, in Thailand, who is another friend irl whom we are looking forward to hanging out with when we get there. I guess you can write about being a dad. :)

Even sick, life is good.

I really need to put something new up, that other post has been there over a week. Unfortunately, I'm right now camped out next to an open window, on a mercifully cool day sucking in the smell of fresh air and flowers and trees. It smells wonderful, and mostly it keeps me from retching at the scent of, say, my daughter's juice, or leftover breakfast. Yes, the nausea is here, and my stomach hurts. It woke me up in the middle of the night even last night.

So it's hard to think of what to write about.

I read The Kite Runner on Monday. It helped take my mind off my stomach. It's a stunning, stunning book. I rarely ever sit down to read a novel these days because I find it very hard to stop once I start. Somehow on Monday I managed to tidy the house, fold and put away all the laundry, teach school, take the kids swimming, make dinner, and read an entire novel. I can never figure out how that happened the next day.

I have the world's sweetest children.

While I was in the shower Little needed to go poo, so the Boy came running when I called and took her to the bathroom, cleaned her up and got her dressed. She was so pleased that he was the one who helped her. All day, whenever someone mentions her dress she holds it out so they can see it better and says, "Yiyah hewp."

Then she helped him unload the dishwasher, which was also adorable, watching the two of them work together.

She has also just learned to say the Girl's real name, and follows her around all day babbling it, just because she can. The Girl has made some kind of game out of pillows on the living room floor and they are all screaming with laughter keeping themselves entertained while I camp here next to the window waiting for my stomach to settle. I couldn't ask for better help.

I know for some people the idea of 4 kids is one of those, "I could never do that," types of propositions. All I know is that it's such a blessing that my children have each other to play with, that they enjoy each others company, that they can spend so much time finding entertainment together. I can't imagine them not having each other to be with. I can't imagine how another sibling will do anything other than add to the fun.

I'm proud of how the Boy knows how to take care of and play with younger kids, unlike a lot of his friends who are the youngest themselves, or who have no siblings. It's sweet to watch how those boys have gradually gone from staring in confusion at the little girls who want to join their play to chivalrously scampering off to retrieve one of them when they have strayed too far, often beating the Boy to it these days. I like to think it's because of his example.

I'm rambling I'm sure, the unhappy stomach is a powerful distraction. But I'm glad to at least be able to notice still how many blessings I have surrounding me.


The Last Time I Didn't Stick Up for Myself

I'm washing dishes and start humming the haunting melody of a familiar song. The harmonies I hear in my head as I sing it are beautiful and complex, it's a song from my choir days in high school. As much as I enjoy the tune that often comes unbidden to my lips, the singing of it is always slightly bitter, a memory I'm unable to shake, to forget.

It's a Tuesday in May, my senior year in high school, I've been away for the long weekend. At lunch I go to the choir room for practice. Every year, every choir grad, no matter how good or bad a singer they are, sings a song with the others at graduation. As I walk in the girl leading the rehearsal glares at me. "You can't sing with us," she says, "you missed the first rehearsal, we already assigned parts."

I gape, wordless, undone by her tone. "I was out of town," I respond.

Helpless I gaze around the room looking for an ally. The teacher is away. My friends arranged on the risers silently avoid my gaze. Defeated I leave, part rehearsed, and go home and cry. On graduation day I sit silent in the folding chairs as my peers perform on stage. At the grad banquet my family and I are forced to find our own seats as all my friends sit at their reserved seating. Together. We sit with another girl and her parents that I barely know. Sometime that night my choir teacher suddenly realizes that I didn't sing that day and comments on it. Near tears I tell her that I didn't think I could, I was told I couldn't. Her response that I should have been up there only makes me feel worse; that she didn't notice until now, and that I didn't do something sooner.

I have no idea why that memory continues to bother me all these years later, but it does. Perhaps I just haven't truly forgiven the people involved, including myself. But I know it has shaped me. There's a part of me that will stand and fight that I know grew from that. In some cases it's probably more excessive than the situation demands. In some cases I am overly defensive and have needed to adjust to match reality. I know it's a bit of a puzzle some times to a few of the people who know me now.

I've been thinking about this because my mother was here. There are parts of her personality that are overly strident. I've been embarrassed often in her company by the way she takes a conversation and wrestles it into submission. Her mannerisms are so aggressive they sometimes border on rude. She can attack with words in a way that is debilitating. Yet, I know my mom, and in her heart she is none of these things. She is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet, always bending over backwards for others.

I'm beginning to understand the depth of the ways life has wounded her, especially in her youth, for it to have affected her interactions with people so. If every time she endured unkindness her response was to stick up for herself just a little more strongly the next time, I think of the depth of unkindness she must have endured in order to become the way she has. I know enough of her story; the things she experienced. And it's tragic and awful and painful. But I don't think I really empathized before I started connecting this silly little high school slight of mine, with all the things, large and small that she has told me about.

And while I still cringe when she does the things she does, I probably always will, I think I am beginning to truly be able to have compassion as well, for her and every other crusty, hard shelled, person out there. I guess that's always a good thing.


I'll be napping under the socks

Terribly, tragically, sadly, alas... my computer is kaput. The day I woke up thinking whoa, this thing is really going downhill fast I should back some stuff up, is the day it no longer responded to any kind of stimulus whatsoever. I'm praying I can get back all my work when we go to visit the expert people. And all my pictures for the last three years.

I'm making time with the GH's laptop while he's at work. It's the only time possible really, when he doesn't take it with him. I can't even use it while he's sleeping. The man listens to audio books to help him fall asleep. Once I thought he was asleep and tried to sneak it away, or just turn down the volume, but he woke up as soon as my hand touched it and in a sleepy bewildered voice demanded to know what I was doing with his computer.

So, hello best beloveds, we are reunited for a brief moment.

Last week, my mother was here, which was a great help in many ways. It's been a long time since the kids saw her. They all had a blast. Much as we enjoyed having her here it was really nice to wake up Saturday morning after she had gone and feel like I could stretch out again in my own space. Our apartment is so tiny that just one extra person added to the mix makes it feel quite overcrowded. It also helped tat the GH made waffles for breakfast, and the kids helped by whipping cream by shaking a jar full of cream, slicing the strawberries, and clearing and setting the table. It was a good morning.

And in celebration of the fact that I have my house all to myself again, sort of, I have a crazy day of cleaning and organizing planned. I am just way too much fun aren't I? Also, I am making soup out of all the leftovers in the fridge from the excessive eating sprees of last week.

This is a clue to a very important fact dear readers, can you tell what it is? I continue to not be vomiting!

Yes, my standards are very low. I woke up today and didn't vomit, hooray! How often really do we do the happy dance over not vomiting daily? I think I should do it more often.

Of course, I wake up from a nap wanting to take another nap. But I can push through that in order to find my closet floor. I hope.

If you don't hear from me soon send rescue dogs to search out my closet floor. Make sure they bring food. The only other option is that the GH is back home and hogging his computer to himself. The nerve of some people. He keeps claiming it's so he can download programs or learn more ways to fix mine but I know he just doesn't want to share.


Tired and Ravenous

That's how I am, in case you were wondering. Usually at the same time. My dad asked yesterday, when I told him I wasn't puking yet, if it was possible that the pregnancy test was wrong. To which I replied, "NO! Well, yes, it is possible. However, since I have all of the other symptoms of being pregnant to catalogue, I don't think it's very likely." [Catalogue is too spelled that way, just ask the British, or a Canadian.]

The nicknaming of this child while in utero has become a full contact sport around here. My SIL's are voting for Schmidty the Sequel. I find it hard to believe that anyone has been reading long enough to remember that so I'll recap. Schmidty was the abbreviation of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, which came from the Boy being convinced every week I was pregnant with Little that we need to name the child John, or Jacob, or John, or maybe, Jacob. I'm not sure what he'll do if this is another girl.

We named the first two Twinklet. The GH said to the Boy one day when he wouldn't stop kicking, "Stop kicking you mom you little Twink!" I burst out laughing and couldn't believe he had just called our unborn child a Twink. (Does anyone else use that as an epithet or is it just an our family thing?) So he amended that perhaps the unborn child, on account of his unbornness wasn't yet large enough to be a full blown Twink, but maybe he could be a Twinklet.

The Girl came up the best nicknames today. It's become an obsession for her. My favorites are, Princess Pomegranate, which assumes of course that it's a girl, and Sherbet, you know, like the stuff that's like ice cream, but isn't. I'm liking Sherbet. I plan to eat some soon, which may mean we have winner.

Did I mention that I'm hungry? Again?

Also, I need another nap.


1000 Gifts-Week 23

  • At the top of the list, of course, the baby we hope to meet in November.
  • The Girl bending over and kissing my belly while I read to her, and then smiling shyly and saying, "I just gave the baby a kiss."
  • The Boy dancing around the playground yelling, "My mom's going to have a baby, my mom's having a baby."
  • The GH stopping one morning to hold me close for a really long time and say, "Just in case there is any question in your mind, I'm stoked to be having another child."
  • The prayers and well wishes of friends, family, and readers I have never met.
  • Not vomiting yet.
  • No more trying to control the ravenous hunger that hits just before bedtime. It all makes sense now. I can have a snack.
  • Grapefruit! Can pregnant woman live on grapefruit alone? I would like to find out.
  • Walks alone in the evening after the kids are asleep. The air smells good, and it feels good to remember that my body can move like this, is strong, and can go quickly when not weighted down by strollers, bags and children.
  • My mom flies in tonight for a week long visit.

The gratitude community is here.
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