Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Goodbye, March

It's been one heck of a month.

I'm hoping April is easier. Calmer would be nice, too, but I'll settle for easier.

May all you love be well.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Technical Difficulties

I had a picture post I wanted to make tonight, and I cannot get the pictures up here.

The gremlins are wicked and my problem-solving skills are limited right now.

Perhaps I should grab a little extra sleep to help with my deficit.

May the technology gods smile on you--today, tomorrow, and every day.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Peach Yogurt

Antibiotics, like most of life, have unforeseen consequences. While it kills off an infection, the antibiotic is also attacking the 'good' flora a body needs. This is especially true when using broad-spectrum antibiotics.

While waiting on lab cultures*, my son's treatment plan involved three different broad-spectrum antibiotics. As soon as he was allowed to eat, I asked the nurse if we could get some yogurt.

She asked his preferred flavor and put in an order for peach yogurt. Even though it was 10 AM, peach yogurt appeared. The nurse explained that when a meal order card came up, I could write in a request for yogurt with each meal.

As it turned out, there was never a need--the cafeteria sent two peach yogurts with each meal.

Six yogurts a day. For seven days. Requesting a different flavor did not take.

Forty-two peach yogurts.

We've been home most of a week and there are still a few yogurts left. We'll see if he ever requests a peach yogurt again.

*Invasive Group A Strep in the bloodstream, in this case. Yes, antibiotics were very necessary and we were glad when they could get a more directed plan of treatment.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I was outside for ten hours today. Stuck to the shade as much as I could and put on sunscreen...once. I am burnt to a crisp.

But I'm also crispy in the other sense of the word--completely tired and done with the day. No bad stuff, just a lot.

And I'm obviously not back to full-strength. My decision-making is still slow and quick to overwhelm, and I'm forgetting obvious things.

But tomorrow is another day. Getting to bed sooner rather than later might help me to meet its challenges.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beauty Tips for Hospital Parents

I hope you never have to spend days and nights in the hospital caring for your child. But if you do, well, here are a few of the 'beauty' lessons learned during our stay:

*Adequate rest is important for you to look your best. Even if you have the comfiest of hospital day beds and the quietest of floors, you're still not going to get a good night's sleep in the hospital. Do the best you can, and nap whenever that dear munchkin naps. A pillow and blanket from home might help.

*Hospitals do not care about gentle lighting. You will see every wrinkle, every pallor and truly see how badly you need the sleep and calm you're lacking. While we totally understand that our children's health is a higher priority, it's a real kick in the pants to see just how awful you can look. 

*Hair grows faster when you're under stress. At least, those hairs that grow in places where you really don't want them.

*Soft and easy clothes- seriously. This is the one time that NO ONE can fault you for 'comfortable'-and if they try, please send them my way so we can have a little chat. Jeans are practical, but you really do not want to wear them 24/7.

*When your friends ask you what you need, they really do want to help out, and you can work their strengths. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Moisturizer, lip balm, and hand lotion. This is not on the 'when you get around to it' list for your helpers- DAY ONE. You will be washing your hands constantly and the air will be dry and overly conditioned (either hot or cold)
  • Dry Shampoo - I did not have this and really could have used it, especially the days when we did not have a room with private bath
  • A way to tie back/hold back your hair- it's going to get in the way. And you don't have enough room for a blow dryer and fourteen products, so keep it simple!
What have I missed?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Closing In On Normal

We got home from the hospital on Monday.
Today my son went back to school, surprising all of us by making it through an entire day.
I spent more than a couple of hours in the office, though I did not make it through the whole day, because the Mom Job is still expecting overtime.

We are not yet fully unpacked. I know I haven't put away my clean laundry or found any number of things.

But I am getting back to normal in a different way--I've started tomorrow's sourdough. Or at least an attempt-we'll see how the starter survived my absence. It did not get fed as regularly as I would have liked, and the containers should have been scraped and washed. But it was something I could delegate in a week when I was needed elsewhere.

I am hopeful that tomorrow we'll have a true boule (water, starter, flour, salt) as well as a brown sugar oatmeal bread.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Modern Medicine

At the start of my son's illness, I glibly posted about horses versus zebras. 

And then we spend ten days in the hospital with a very unexpected bacterial infection in his blood and soft tissues.  Oof.

He's much much better now and plans to head back to school tomorrow. 

Thank goodness for modern medicine. For the ventilator he needed the first day, and the oxygen for a few days after. For the very strong drugs--antibiotics to fight the infection and its toxins, others to restore his blood pressure and relieve his pain. For the imaging and tests needed to get an accurate diagnosis and rule out so many things. And we are fortunate to live near one of the best pediatric hospitals in the world, where they have seen the zebras of every stripe and know what is likely to work.

It is good to be home, and amazing to have our son back in one piece.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Always and Forever

We're home from the hospital.
Oh, comfy couch! Spacious rooms!
And my rose bushes are budding, the fig tree leafing out.

The laundry is an amazing pile, regardless of the loads done while we were away.
Add to that our bedding and towels and such, and it's a good thing my parents have come down to help out. 
Otherwise there might be an avalanche.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's Just a Balloon.

Yes, the bandaids have faces.

I'm not sure what to think about that.

Honestly, now that I've spent more than a week in a combination of hospital rooms, I'm not sure what to think about lots of things.

But right now I'm tempted to pop this balloon.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Way of Things

Meanest Mom Ever
is a title that works better
when your kid's not sick.

You don't tell a kid
Mostly dead for half the day
to tidy the room.

But soon.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sleep Arithmetic

Weekly sleep log, 3/13-3/19

Friday, 3/13: 5.5 hours
Saturday, 3/14: 2.5 hours

Sunday, 3/15: 4 hours
Monday 3/16: 4 hours
Tuesday 3/17: 5 hours
Wednesday 3/18: 7 hours (+ 1 hour nap)
Thursday 3/19: 5 hours (+ 1 hour nap)

It will take a while to repay this amount of sleep debt.
I better get to work.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pitching In

We're on Day Six in the hospital, with four or five left to go so my son can finish treatment and work on getting stronger.

Throughout the adventure, we've worked with at least thirty doctors and students, fifteen nurses, two crews of paramedics, eight patient care assistants, ten respiratory techs, a half dozen folks in imaging (xray, ultrasound, MRI), then the innumerable people who've brought his trays and linens and meds, cleaned the room, offered him distractions and organized his care. So many people are behind the scenes, folks we may never meet.

And then there are our friends, who've brought us food and cute socks and strong shoulders, listened to me rant and wonder and curse. Who've offered to bring dinner to the other half of my family, to help with all sorts of things. There are the folks at work who are pitching in to make things happen while I'm away, and all the people who've sent well wishes and cards and balloon bouquets.

I am awed by all this activity. 

AND, I'd still rather we had avoided the medical emergencies in the first place. There is no revelation valuable enough to make the hell time worth it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jumping Up And Down Cussing

doesn't always make things better, but studies show that the cursing can relieve pain.

Secondborn and I have declared his hospital room a cuss-ok place. Just when it's the two of us--no harming the delicate ears of nurses.

We've had a bunch of pain this week, and no energy for filters. Honesty is easier and sometimes things are just *^*^&@%#^ hard.

When we get home we'll find our manners. They probably fell out in our own comfy beds, or in the couch cushions with that lost remote control.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pictures from the Journey

It's been a rough and somewhat surreal week, after a medical emergency put my son in the ICU.

Here are a few random pics from the past few days.

It was Pi Day. I had grand plans.
Settled for a piece of strawberry rhubarb and the  Little Caesar's bacon wrapped pizza.

Yes, we will take a do-over to observe this important holiday once everyone is on the mend.

These trees in the Medical Center have netting along the bottoms of the canopy. Holding in the leaves, and maybe keeping the birds from too much nesting? This is what I noticed while the paramedics were slow getting my son out of the back of the ambulance as his blood pressure had dropped. It was also the last time I would go outside for about two days.

Our time in the ICU was too much for many pictures, especially since no cell phones were allowed. The Progressive Care Unit (PCU - a step-down from the ICU) had the same restriction, but I had a little more time to notice what was around me. Here's a Get Well 'quilt' made from sticky notes.

And this is an actual quilt created by various patients, nurses, doctors, and techs of the PCU. It's a varied quilt...

The teardrop in the middle of this picture is not a design on that building- it's a ladybug inside the window, up on the seventh floor. We hung out together for a couple of days.

Now we're in a 'regular' room, and I am just so impressed by all the little touches the whole hospital does to try to make patient and family lives a little brighter (in addition to providing some of the best medical care in the world.) The woman who tidies rooms and changes linens? She makes towels into animal shapes. I stopped in my tracks and had to smile when I saw this elephant.

Yes, he's on the mend. No, I'm not posting pictures of him in this ordeal, unless he decides he would like me to do that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

First Scrawl, pen ripping paper

Tonight I am raw garlic.
There is nothing mellow about me.
I am sharp and sulfurous and overwhelming.

I get to call my own truths.
I've no patience for your platitudes-

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is a lie.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Deals, Dollars, Apathy

Yes, I love football. The games, the stories, the excitement...

And I find it hard to care about the deals going on at this time of year. Who will be released? At least there is an opportunity for nostalgia and maybe even gratitude. But the match ups of just the right power player versus the franchise player versus the team budget... ugh. Not enough soul there.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Finding Comfort

Behold pink bunny and Snoopy, two of the comfort objects of my childhood. 

Pink bunny was once much pinker and much whiter, with a soft fur all over. Now you can only find evidence of that fur within the folds of her ears. Her nose was felt I think, and left us years ago. 

Snoopy, over the years, has lost an ear and various seams have burst open. At this point he might have more mends than original stitching. And while he's gotten quite dingy, I don't dare put him in the wash.

I am not Linus trailing his blanket. Mostly these comfort objects sit in our guest bedroom, more objects of nostalgia than anything else.

At the same time, I feel no need to take away someone's lovey. Indeed, why would we deny someone comfort? Perhaps we give the object some boundaries, but really, life is hard enough.

Friday, March 13, 2015


Tomorrow is the Pi day of the century*, so tonight I must evangelize.

I wholeheartedly encourage every last one of you to eat at least one piece of pie tomorrow.

What is a pie, you ask?  Well, I believe in the inherent worth of all pie, and in each defining the label as they see fit. 

Be they sweet, or be they savory
Have they two crusts, one crust, or no crust at all!
Might they be baked or cooked, or even raw!

From a pan, casserole, or baking sheet- round, square, free-form.
May they fit in one person's hand, or feed a multitude

Note: This quick concept map does not begin to mention the many fine hand pies found in nearly every culture. Empanadas, pasties, samosas, tiropita...oh the drools...

I understand that some of you will find in my beliefs certain heresies.
A cobbler or a casserole? You consider those to be something else entirely. Delicious, but not pies.

But I believe that pie should be denied to no person, no matter if they have celiac disease or gave up sugar for Lent or are simply fussy. Maybe they just want some creme brulee.

I will not say no to them.
I will be too busy eating pie.

Tomorrow's pie plan:

Breakfast: Peach cobbler and a crustless quiche (smoked salmon and cream cheese)
Lunch: Little Caesars bacon-wrapped pizza
Supper: Strawberry-rhubarb pie and a corned beef shepherd's pie
And remember all--3/14 is Einstein's birthday. He expanded our understandings of the universe. Surely we can expand our understandings of pie?

*3/14/15 (esp. around 9:26:53) reflects the first ten digits of pi.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Horses, Zebras, and the Likelihood of Trampling

We headed to the pediatrician this morning.

When I called for an appointment, I was asked if we'd traveled outside the country recently. (No.)
There was a sign at reception stating that they needed to know if we'd gone to one of a few African nations. (No.)
Ah-hah. Ebola questions.

They did not ask if my son had received a flu shot (yes) or been exposed to anyone with the flu (not that we know of, but geez, the high school is big.)

Pediatric Ebola deaths in Texas this year? 0.
Pediatric flu deaths in Texas this season? 12.

Image provided by Walgreens and the Department of State Health Services -http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/flu.shtm

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Impulse to Fix Things

My son's running a fever. 

Intellectually, I understand that a fever is his body fighting off an infection. That this is a useful response. 

And yet touching his burning forehead makes me a little panicky.

We don't want our loved ones to be sick, and we will do almost anything to make them better. Sometimes, though, things need to run their course. It might get worse before it gets better.

Sometimes it's not a person who is sick, but a system. It's a little more complicated to support a system--you can't just offer fluids and the good tissues. 

But as with a person, systems may need to sweat it out. And we need to watch for warning signs that we need to call in an expert. Hopefully not at 3 AM.

And now to get some sleep while I can...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Let's say that you want a treat. 

We start with this recipe for a brownie in a mug. It does not suck. Not one bit.

But I don't want to be hit over the head with sweetness, so I reduced the brown sugar by a half. 
And added a little vanilla and a pinch of salt. Yum. Even better.

What happens if you add more milk? You get more of a pudding cake- a semi-solid hot chocolate. 

There is no one right way to make a brownie. 

Note: I did not put a picture with this entry because I am being kind to you.
Or maybe because I already ate tonight's experiment.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Productive Leadership

Forty-seven US Senators took it upon themselves to write to Iran, going around accepted structures and practices. 

And then the Iranian foreign minster Javad Zarif gave them a wee bit of a crash course in international law.

Other than being glad that Zarif is an international law expert, I'm pretty appalled by all of this.

When leadership cannot come together to find truly workable solutions for life's issues and instead they decide to go rogue and escalate situations unnecessarily? Ugh.

And yet we find these conflicts outside of the Senate. 

Heck, we see it sometimes in churches and other nonprofits. Figuring out a communal good and trusting one another takes time and flexibility and maturity. It requires a certain level of relationship, which we need to explicitly support.

Surely we can do better than the Senate.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Energy of Avoidance

How much energy do I exert each day avoiding things I don't feel like doing?

If I could harness that energy, this laptop would not be running out of charge.

If I hadn't spent the last two hours in other windows on said laptop, it would not need that charge.

And yet--often those side pursuits have value, too. Reading something that leads to new understandings. Deepening relationships with colleagues and acquaintances. Contemplating a big challenge and figuring out a new way through.

In all its inefficiency, it works.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What A Grown Up Would Do

We lose an hour tonight. POOF. Evaporated.  

An hour of sleep! That's important!

A rational soul realizes that by going to bed earlier, sleep loss is not inevitable.

In practice, however...

Blogs need writing.
Chris Hemsworth is on Saturday Night Live.
People are amusing on the internet.
Do I have clean socks to wear tomorrow?

People notice when the Sunday School director shows up late.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Choosing Battles

Let sleeping dogs lie.
Never wake a sleeping baby.

I get it.

But my teen fell asleep wrapped in MY favorite blanket.

Dare I switch out blankets and risk waking him?
Well, his claws aren't too long... and he's had his shots...

And he doesn't have to be up in the morning, but I do. And it's cold in this house.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Play With Your Food!

My partner has been doing the low-carb thing. I'm still making bread once or thrice a week, but I'm also cooking an awful lot of veggies. 

It's an excellent opportunity to get our vitamins and do some experimenting, so I'm not complaining. (Also, more bread for me.)

Tonight we had a bunch of stir-fried veggies. Have you ever come across a heart of bok choy that looked this Seussian? I knew I had to pause and take a picture.

But when I turned the bok choy in the light, I was inspired in quite another way. I grabbed a toothpick and did a little strategic pointillism. Dabbed a little soy sauce over my work and ba-da-bing... 

Bok choy Groot!

Yes, I enjoy playing with my food. Sometimes it's making a savoury dish look like a sweet one, or using unexpected spice and flavor combinations.

And sometimes it's just whimsy.

Either way, I recommend it.

(No, we did not eat Groot. I trimmed the bottom and he's sitting in water. I'll let you know if we can successfully root Groot.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


This anole thinks he is hiding from us.

See, he would love to be out on that dark wood trim, basking in the afternoon sun.

But I am far bigger than him, and he's unsure of my intentions. Perhaps I want to eat him or rip off his tail... or maybe he's just camera shy.

He will be a bit cold as he hunkers down with the weather tonight, but he lives to see another day. 

Choosing when to stick one's neck out can be a complicated decision.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Surprises in Flight

As I left work this evening, something zipped through the edge of my vision.

Look! A butterfly!

Yes, Houston is a mild clime, and this is the warmest day of the week. Still, this took me by surprise.

I put my lunchbox and books and purse on the ground, grabbing my phone to try to catch a picture.

Only time for two clicks before it fluttered away--somehow both showed the wings outstretched- together it looked like a rust twig.

I am not a skilled photographer. I just take a lot of shots, and try to keep an eye on the light. Sometimes I get lucky.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Smartest Thing I Ever Did As A Parent...

...was letting my children know that risotto is an impressive and delicious dish.

Even when they required a step ladder to reach the stove top, they would happily take turns stirring the pot, adding ladles of stock as needed. Secondborn, especially, was eager to learn to make the dish all by himself. It's pretty awesome when someone else makes dinner*.

With broth in the freezer or pantry, we always have the basics handy. And it turns out that risotto can be a vehicle for any number of unfamiliar things--squashes, greens, and cheeses sharper than they'd usually choose. 

We just made a big batch with butternut squash, mushrooms, and Manchego.
Tomorrow's dinner is done.

*When the boys go off to college, I might try some baked risotto recipes. For now, this works.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"A Person's A Person, No Matter How Small"

March 2nd marks the 111th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, the author better known as Dr. Seuss.

Mr. Geisel is sometimes listed among "Famous UUs", but I've yet to see any proof that he belonged to a Unitarian Universalist congregation, or claimed to be a UU. 

His works are remembered for their combination of whimsy and social values. His characters were every hue, every species (real or imagined), and utterly relatable.

My favorite Seuss character is Horton the elephant--which character most speaks to you?