The Dog Days of Winter Break, or, everything is symbolic of life these days

Yesterday was the family Christmas party and we told the kids we weren’t going to monitor what they ate as far as sweets, but that they should “use good judgement” and “try to eat SOME things that are good for you”.

Naturally, every time we saw them, they were grabbing a few more cookies or candies. What can you do, though? Some lessons you have to learn yourself.

Cut to 1 am when Ollie came into our room to say he threw up. As I scrubbed his floor he held his tummy and said, “I’m never going to eat sweets again!” (And so far he has kept to his deal; he hasn’t eaten any candy in the first four hours of this morning!)

After I got him tucked back into bed, I went to rinse out some of the rags I had used to clean up. When I started the bath I discovered that someone had left the shower plug up…discovered by receiving a full blast of freezing cold water on the back of my head.

I have to say, there is something special about a full blast of ice water on your head at 1:45 am when your hands are covered in someone else’s puke. Somehow it just felt…apropos pro.

2017 going out with a bang.

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, stomach flu

Since I originally posted about the stomach flu thirteen days ago, you’d kind of think we would be over the topic, right?

As I previously mentioned, Evelyn was the next to go (well technically Oliver was, but he never actually threw up, so that one doesn’t count). That left me as the last man standing. You would think, knowing that, that I wouldn’t have been taken by surprise when I got sick, but I spent a significant portion of Wednesday afternoon rubbing my chest and going, “Man, that bagel is just not sitting well.” By the time I got to the train, I was only thinking about getting home ASAP, and by the time I got through the 30 min train delay, I was really sweating it.

After going through it myself, I only have more sympathy for the rest of the family, because it was utterly brutal. It really only lasted 24 hours or so (plus another day to recover from the dehydration), but here I am almost a week later and still not *quite* back to normal. I did lose almost 6 pounds in 24 hours, but as a weight loss plan, I can’t recommend it.

The bad news is that Alex was both the first, and last, person to have it, going on almost two weeks now. He hasn’t thrown up since Saturday, but we’re still being careful. He has gone for a few stretches before, only to unexpectedly go through another bout again after a few days. He has seemed a bit more like himself since yesterday, so maybe we’re out of the woods.

That poor, poor baby.

Hero Update

As expected, Evelyn’s “Hero Reward” showed up last night with a vengeance. Even counting the 3 times Alex threw up on Sunday night, Evelyn’s total last night alone has far surpassed everyone else combined.

However, after about the 5th time she threw up, she just started cleaning it up herself.

Hero status: maintained.

Evelyn, the hero

Yesterday around dinner time, Sara started feeling pretty sick. Like, sick to her stomach, confined-to-the-couch sick.

“Evelyn,” she said, “I can’t make dinner. You have to make dinner tonight.”

So Evelyn started making nachos, like you do when you’re a little kid and suddenly have to care for a family, and then of course Alex was crying, so she picked him up and was making dinner while holding him, and then, of course, while she was holding him, Alex started puking.

Now, holding a puking baby while making dinner is almost the stereotype of life as a mom, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the typical day-to-day for a 3rd grader.

I wasn’t home, so Sara started texting me things like, “You need to get home before I start throwing up”, “I am going to throw up, you need to get home before that happens”, “hurry”, and “too late”. She then proceeded to text me coordinates in the house where Alex had thrown up, and whether or not they had been cleaned up yet.

Basically, by the time I got home the vomit situation in our house was roughly equivalent to one of those fountains they have in Vegas.

“Evelyn is a superhero,” Sara whispered to me. Evelyn had not only taken care of Alex while Sara couldn’t, she had also fed Oliver, gotten the two of them ready for bed, and cleaned up some of Alex’s throw up locations.

That is one amazing little girl, ya’ll. I recommend her as a babysitter as soon as she is old enough (I recommend her now, but I understand if you want to wait until she’s at least double digits).

And now, I assume she shall be rewarded with the finest award a superhero could ask for: the stomach flu. As of my writing this, the three of us are unaffected, but I can’t imagine that will hold.

I’ll be over here, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The boy with two mothers

Evelyn has always been the “mothering kind” so the story I’m about to tell you should surprise exactly no one.

Yesterday evening, Ollie was complaining about his ear hurting, which wasn’t a huge surprise since they’ve both been sick and Evelyn is just getting over an ear infection. Ollie is not a big complainer, so we’ve learned to listen to him when he says something is wrong (because he won’t mention it unless it’s really, really wrong!) So we gave him some ibuprofen, lots of love and kisses, and tucked him into bed.

This morning Evelyn came skipping upstairs. “Boy I’m tired,” she said. “Ollie kept waking up crying all night long and I had to go in and check on him.”

“What do you mean? Why didn’t you come and get us?” I said.

“Oh, it was okay,” said our little ENT. “He had an ear infection, so I looked in his ear, and then we made a plan: I gave him his dinosaur and told him every time his ear hurt he should hug his dinosaur. Then I gave him a kiss and tucked him back into bed.”

Sure enough, when I went downstairs to wake him up I found him clinging to his dinosaur.

We tried to impress upon them that they really should get a grownup in situations like this (who, at the very least, could administer medicine)(NO CHILDREN ADMINISTERING MEDICINE), but…he was happy, she was happy…what are you gonna do, you know?

These kids, I tell you what.

(I especially like that she looked in his ear. How would she even know what to look for?)


GI virus: the gift that keeps on giving

Oh, this poor boy, Ollie. What a week he had last week. He had some kind of GI virus from hell that just went on, and on, and on.

This is the virus that never ends! It just goes on and on my friends!

He first started feeling sick Monday afternoon, but we didn’t think too much of it. However, Sara and I had just fallen asleep Monday night when we were awakened to blood-curdling screams. I mean, absolutely terrifying, up-and-out-of-bed-and-into-the-hall-before-I’m-awake-oh-my-god-my-kid’s-dying kind of screaming. My first thought was just that he was having a bad dream, but Sara said later she thought maybe he had fallen out of bed with his leg caught in the side and broken it. It was that kind of screaming.

It turns out, it wasn’t either of those things; it was just his reaction to waking up covered in vomit. I couldn’t blame him. “I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what I’d do in that situation,” I confessed to Sara later.

It was a rough, rough night. Aside from one 3 hour stretch, he was up about once every 45 minutes. Considering we had to strip the bed and clean him up most of those times, we’d usually just be falling back asleep when he’d need us again. Despite the fact that we managed to come up with 4 mattress pads, we ended up starting laundry at about 2 a.m., when we realized we weren’t going to make it through the night.

Tuesday he was sick all day, not even able to keep water down. A sip of tea only lasted about 90 seconds in there before being violently rejected. Needless to say, Tuesday night didn’t go well either. Wednesday he felt sick, but he slept soundly through the night, which was much appreciated by everybody. By Thursday he was eating some regular food and we thought we were finally out of the woods, until we hit nighttime. Another really bad night, with multiple bed changes.

Friday was okay again, and Friday night was fine, so once again we thought we were through the woods. Maybe Thursday night was just a little hiccup? Nope, here comes Saturday night, and he was back to his old tricks again. By that point, he was nearing in on a full week of being violently ill.

We have done a *lot* of laundry in the past week.

The good news is, nobody else caught it, which seems like a minor miracle. I’m a little confused why it seemed to come and go, only showing up every other night. The thing is, it’s so hard to know what’s going on with him. It’s that old, easy-going attitude again. He never tells you when he feels sick, and he generally maintains his good mood. So it’s entirely possible he felt absolutely awful the whole time, but just didn’t show it. That would be very much like him.

I don’t think he even really understood what was going on. He would feel sick to his stomach and then one second after it passed it was like he thought it was over for good, and he’d never feel like that again. Rinse and repeat, every 30 seconds or so.

This was particularly true when it came to eating. I think he might have recovered faster if he could have just gone easy on his stomach, but he wouldn’t. He just couldn’t help himself. As the week wore on he got hungrier and hungrier, and he didn’t appreciate us preventing him from eating whatever he wanted. He would get physically violent at the mere suggestion that he take it easy and sip some water, or restrict himself to only 3 pancakes. Even while he was gagging when someone even talked about food, he had to list all the things he was demanding we give him to eat.

By Sunday he hardly had the energy to stand, and would just sort of lay on the floor in various rooms. I felt pretty bad for the poor boy. I can only imagine how being that sick for that long would affect me, and I’m an adult who can understand what’s going on.

A week is a long time to be sick. I’m so glad he’s finally feeling better and we can get back to a more normal routine (and sleep schedule!)

I must have accidentally angered the forest gods

We have just not been able to make it up to The Haven this year. We knew there weren’t a lot of opportunities to go, but it seems like every time we have a chance, something just seems to come up. And of course, the one time we did make it up was an unmitigated disaster. I’m starting to suspect supernatural influence.

We were all set to go up and meet my sister on Saturday morning. Giant pile of camping gear in the living room, house cleaned, kids excited, the whole nine. Sara and I had stayed up late getting everything ready, so we had only just fallen asleep when suddenly the bedroom door banged open.

There stood one very panicked 5 year old, clutching her throat, unable to breath.

As with any emergency in the middle of the night, my body was operating well ahead of my brain. Right away I knew what was the matter, but for some reason I just could not communicate this to Sara. My sister had terrible asthma as a kid, and waking up in the night unable to breath was, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence for her. This just snapped me back there right away. So finally Sara was able to piece together my incoherent panic-babbling (something about shouting “Rachael!” and forcing Evie to lock eyes with me and slow her breathing), and grab Evie’s inhaler.

Poor Evie was a wreck, coughing and crying, which was only making it worse. Luckily for us, our daughter is so amazingly mature for her age, and she managed to understand what I was saying to her, think through the situation, and calm down enough to get it a little under control. We got a couple of breathing treatments in her, and though her breathing still sounded like a freight train, she was so exhausted that she wanted to go back to sleep.

We put her in bed with Sara, but I was too agitated to go back to sleep. It really pains me to think that I cursed my daughter with asthma. So I was alternately pacing around in the hallway, listening to her wheeze through the closed bedroom door, and looking up “What to do when asthma attacks!” websites, when I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went back into the bedroom.

“Do you think she’s okay? Is there something else we should be doing?”
“I don’t know, should we give her another dose of the inhaler?”

Even with the extra dosage from the inhaler she just didn’t seem to be getting any better, but she didn’t seem to be getting any worse either, so I went out again. I think that was about the time that she threw up all over herself. This poor girl, she was really trying to hold it together, and we were trying to help her hold it together, because we knew if she didn’t stay calm it could get bad again really quick.

Ultimately, we opted to take her to the emergency room. Sara took her and I stayed home with Ollie. “Start kicking the seat if you can’t breath,” she told Evie. You never really know if you’re doing the right thing, going to the emergency room. Am I overreacting? Well, apparently not, based on the alarm generated by Evie’s entrance and speed at which they got to work on her. So I guess we did the right thing after all.

It turns out that Evie had croup, so it wasn’t even asthma related (which explains why the inhaler wasn’t helping). However, that croup is no joke, and it can be fatal. It was pretty scary for us, so I can only imagine how scary it was for Evie; waking up and being unable to breath, having no idea what is going on or how to stop it. And then, despite all of that, to have the wherewithal (as a 5 year old!) to be able to calm down and work through it.

Anyway, this is just a long way to say we didn’t exactly make it up to go camping the next morning. Sara and Evie were at the ER until about 4:30 in the morning, and we certainly didn’t want to risk a recurrence when we were out in the woods somewhere.

Evie was pretty much okay, other than she didn’t really want to go to sleep Saturday night in case it happened again (and who could blame her on that score?). Her other big concern was that she completely lost her voice in all of this, and of course she had an audition for a part in The Little Mermaid yesterday. Fortunately, her voice was more or less back, and she performed her audition piece successfully.

I’m sure they get their share of precocious little girls, but man-oh-man would I have loved to see their faces when Evie performed. I admit to being a little biased, but I think she might have blown a couple of people’s hair back when she really opened up. Anyway, as should be no surprise if you’ve watched that video, she will be playing the role of Ursula, the Sea Witch.

Maybe she can use her Sea Witch powers to commune with the Haven spirits and figure out what I did to offend them so badly that they’ll stop at nothing to keep us away…