So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

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I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


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Clive Owen

Clive Owen
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Hey, I went on vacation

Let's... change the subject, shall we? I mean, I suppose we still have to talk about how Mia went from a runny nose to a hospital admission in 12 hours, but I am still in knots about how I screwed that one up, so we'll do it later. Besides, I decided this morning that she was breathing "differently" and dragged her to the after-hours pediatrician with the $50 co-pay, so I've reached my medical drama limit for today. (She's perfectly fine, thanks, I was just being insane.) And we could always talk about how a fucking wasp stung me in the face on Friday and how I've been unable to open my left eye for two days, because really that was just the icing on my week. I even took a picture to show you, but it is far too hideous to share.

So instead, let's talk about how I went on my first real vacation in nearly five years a week and a half ago. It was marvelous. We handed the kids off to my parents on Thursday morning, hopped on a train, and three hours later we were in New York. Where it was raining buckets and freezing cold and there were a hundred people in the cab line at Penn Station. Which, fuck that shit, we decided to walk a block or two north and get a cab there. Which somehow lead to walking 20 blocks north to our hotel at Times Square. We dropped off our bags and headed out to enjoy the city a bit, which sucked. We returned shortly thereafter, cold and soaked, changed into dry clothes and headed to the hotel bar for a much-needed drink.

Then we wisely grabbed a cab and went to meet our friend /boss/token famous author pal Marshall and his lovely and charming wife Emily at Beyoglu, which was delicious and loud and I ate until I was very nearly ill and had a massive fight heated discussion with Marshall in the middle of dinner while Chris and Emily pretended they didn't know either of us, which is hard to do while sharing a small table. After dinner, we got to visit their dog, Kylie, about which Mia is deeply jealous.

Friday saw a break in the weather, so we walked Manhattan. Really. We started at our hotel on 46th, walked to Central Park, walked through Central Park to the Met, walked up to the Guggenheim at 80-something, walked back down to 31st before realizing our destination was still nine thousand blocks away and hopping a cab to Houston. Then is was through Soho, Chinatown, the Financial District, all along the Esplanade (totally cool, must be nice when you aren't freezing your ears off), to Battery Park, where we planned to cab it back to the hotel. Ah, it is to laugh. We walked up through Wall Street and all those little rabbit-warren streets where the sun never seems to shine, hiked north on Church and finally spent four months trying to hail a cab on 6th before deciding to suck it up and pay through the nose for a gypsy cab back to the hotel.

We had show tickets, sore feet, empty stomachs, and two hours to get presentable, find somewhere to eat, eat, and make it to the theater. Emily (see two paragraphs above) to the rescue with her recommendation of Zen Palate, which was close to the hotel and featured Buddhist monastery-inspired vegetarian Asian fare that was surprisingly delicious, to the point that I was jealous of every dish that came out of the kitchen. The only hitch was that they poured alcohol but did not serve it, we had neglected to bring our own stash, and both really needed a drink to counteract our stint on 6th Avenue. Luckily, there was a bar between the restaurant and the theater and just enough time to cram some alcohol before partaking in a highly depressing musical about various psychoses.

The musical received mixed reviews (I liked it, Chris was less impressed) and reached a surreal high note when there was a medical emergency six rows away from us halfway through the first act which included the at-the-time seemingly-reliable report that someone had just died in the audience. She walked out of the theater a few minutes later, so reports of her demise, etc. After that we took a brief stroll through Times Square and climbed the inexplicable staircase that makes up the back of the new TKTS booth, just because everyone else was doing it so why not us? The appeal continued to escape us, so it was back to the hotel to [redacted].

Saturday morning we walked over to MOMA and saw a strange music + image exhibit, a really good photograpy exhibit, and a design exhibit that forced me to agree with Chris when he said he felt was had just accidentally stumbled into IKEA. Then it was onto our quest to find a doll with red hair and blue eyes that looked like Ariel but was not Ariel. I will allow you to guess whose fondest wish that particular item was. We were met with total failure. We fortified ourselves with lunch, back to the hotel to change, and then went to see a really hilarious play that culminated with the audience being snowed upon with actual snow. We followed that with our second trip to Toys R Us in search of a consolation prize for Mia, and got a Dorothy (as in Wizard of Oz) Barbie, which proved to be a massive hit, so yay us.

Back to the hotel again so I could change for dinner and Chris could watch CNN, and then off to Becco, which we stumbled into by chance on our honeymoon and have deeply loved ever since. We ate pasta until we could no longer walk, scrapped our comedy club plans on the grounds that they start at 10:30 and we are old, wandered around considering sidewalk purses for a while before ultimately deciding against them, and then back to the hotel.

Sunday morning, we walked down a couple of blocks to indulge my geekiness at the Discovery Times Square Exhibition, where I overruled Chris's Titanic fetish with my physical anthropology fetish and we saw Lucy's Legacy. It was actually pretty awesome. The exhibits about Ethiopia were informative, the anthropology was presented in a way that was clear without being insulting to those of us who fancy we have a bit of rudimentary knowledge, and Lucy herself was lovely and doesn't look a day over two million. Yeah, I was sort of geeking out, so sue me.

And then we collected our bags, I spent the return train ride the same way I spent the ride up, with my Pretend Public Radio Boyfriend, Ira Glass. My in-laws collected us at the station, my parents were home with the kids, who were charming and desperately missed, and we had a lovely evening of take-out pizza and hugs and kisses and presents and I felt so refreshed and invigorated and ready to be a really excellent parent.

And then, well the rest is history. Mia had a runny nose, which turned into a mild cough, which turned into a major cough, which turned into difficulty breathing which turned into a pulse ox of 72 and 48 hours in the hospital strapped to an oxygen mask and we are never going on vacation again. So I am glad that this one was so lovely and will give us something to remember.

Gratitude

I am grateful that Mia is upstairs, asleep in her own bed and breathing regular old air with no tubes or wires poking out of her and no oxygen mask needed to stop her from turning blue.

I am grateful for the pediatrician who lied straight to my face and told me I did the right thing taking her into the office instead of to the emergency room. I am grateful to that same pediatrician for being totally calm and casual when she then offered to call an ambulance to take us to the emergency room.

I am grateful for bronchodilators, corticosteroids, antibiotics, antivirals and that they were all available to my child when she needed them.

I am grateful for the tirage nurses, who hustled us into a treatment room as fast as they could while managing not to freak out a freaked-out four-year old. I am grateful for the ER pediatrician who met us in the hall before we even made it to Mia's room and started treating her before she even made it to the bed. I am grateful for all of the nurses and respiratory therapists and doctors who treated my child with kindness and compassion and who, most importantly, made her better and sent her home.

I am grateful for my parents and in-laws, who jumped in to take care of Owen so that Chris could see Mia and so that I could shower and get an hour of sleep. I am especially grateful to my mother who had just finished four days of caring for my kids while Chris and I were on vacation and who then canceled a trip to California on twelve hours notice so that she would be here just in case we needed her.

I am grateful that Chris could take time off work to stay with Owen while I stayed at the hospital with Mia, and to be here when she came home and help with the hard work of getting her to take all of her medications and getting her better and back to normal. I am grateful that he works for a company that really does believe that caring for your sick child takes precedence over showing up for your job, and I am grateful that the extra time off won't mean we are struggling to pay our mortgage next month.

I am grateful this happened when it did, and not a day or two earlier when we were many miles and many hours from home. I am grateful that I was there to look my terrified daughter in the eyes and promise her that she was going to be alright and that I wasn't going to leave her side.

I am grateful for seeing Mia smile again, for hearing her sing, for listening to her talk until I think I may go insane, for begging her to stop running in circles in the hospital lobby.

I am grateful this was no worse. I am so grateful for that.

Helpful Tip

If you mix Tamiflu with twice as much lemonade as medicine, it is much easier to get a four-year-old to take it. Although when said four-year-old is on eleven doses of medicine a day they are all a bit of a struggle.

Home

Mia is home. Not all better yet, but well on her way and good enough to leave behind the oxygen mask and IV and come home to finish the job. Expect a thorough breakdown of the whole saga in the next few days, including a guided tour of my massive piles of mommy guilt. But for now, just a quick thank you to everyone who emailed or called or texted or left comments or even just paused your life for a moment to wish my kid would get better. I don't know if it helped her or not, but it made me feel less alone. And when it is 3 AM and you haven't slept in two days and you are sitting next to your four-year-old's hospital bed waiting for yet another alarm that means your kid isn't getting enough oxygen and you feel like the sun is never going to come up again and you will be stuck in the middle of this horrible, terrifying night forever... well, feeling less alone at that moment makes a big difference.

Briefly

Dear Internet,

Mia is in the hospital with double pneumonia (also likely bronchitis and a good possibility of the flu). She is holding her own and we hope to bring her home tomorrow. In the meantime, if you could spare a good thought for my little girl, I would greatly appreciate it.

Yours in fear and exhaustion,
Beth

My children are weird

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Big and Little

Well, that was an amazing weekend. It was a weekend of big amazing and little amazing.

On Friday, I took Owen for his first ever experience with the bookstore train table. I don't think he has ever seen a train table before, and when he first laid eyes on it he was completely frozen for at least two minutes. He simply couldn't believe that such a wonderful thing existed and that he was going to be permitted to play with it. He thanked my by learning to climb out of his crib shortly later.

The afternoon brought ballet class with Mia's best friend. While the girls jete'd and plie'd, Owen and BFF's little brother ran up and down ramps and stairs and ate fruit snacks and explored trash cans. All four kids left on a high.

I rushed the kids home, foisted them off on Chris, and ran upstairs to change and primp. And then Chris and I left the kids with my in-laws and headed to dinner to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. We sat outside at an Italian restaurant, talked about our upcoming trip and work and the kids and the odd people at the next table, then walked over for gelato before heading home to tuck the kids into bed.

Saturday morning, the phone rang at 6:30. It was my sister-in-law, in labor and on her way over to drop off my niece. They arrived at 7:30 and we barely had time to eat breakfast and explore the play house and get covered in chalk before we got the call that my darling little niece was now a big sister. (Carter Elizabeth, for those who asked, healthy and beautiful.) Thanks to new hospital rules inspired by ye olde swine flu, none of us were allowed to visit the hospital, so we took the kids to an open house at the local fire station. It was cold and drizzling, but there was a moon bounce shaped like a dalmatian and big red fire trucks and the kids were happy enough.

After lunch, I took advantage of the much-improved weather and took the girls for a walk around the neighborhood. I had two girls, two strollers, and two pampered dollies along for the ride. We ran into a little girl Mia met at the pool this summer and absolutely adored, so spent some time riding their toys and climbing their trees before rushing home to hand off my niece to her grandparents, have dinner, and plop the kids into bed.

Sunday morning we undertook a fairly major trek to a regional park with a corm maze and fall festival. The kids ran around the maze for an hour, Mia spent much of her time shucking corn cobs to make it easier for animals to eat them. We took advantage of the moon bounce, the cornbox (like a sandbox, only with corn), visited the farm animals, watched a pig race, played on the playground, chased peacocks, and patted some very tolerant farm cats.

Then it was home for lunch, 100% nap refusal, a family walk around the neighborhood which turned out to be a ploy from Mia to go back and look for her friend, playing, dinner, baths, and tucking sweet-smelling children into bed.

This morning, I finally get to go meet my new niece and sniff her head and the back of her neck and see whether or not she will fit entirely into my mouth.

So much big. So much little. And I'm so glad for it all.

Ten

Twenty months ago this morning, Owen was born.

Fourteen and a half hours ago, my niece was dropped off to spend the day with us.

Twelve hours and 45 minutes ago, my niece became a big sister. You do the math.

Twenty eight hours ago, Mia wrapped her arms around her back and said "Mommy, I love you this much."

Thirty-two hours ago, Owen learned how to climb out of his crib.

Five minutes ago, I watched a ventriloquist impersonate a turtle impersonating Kermit the Frog while also impersonating Louie Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World."

Ten years, one day and one hour ago, Chris and I danced our first dance at our wedding, to "What a Wonderful World."

Oh man, is it ever.

For all those wondering about the state of my ass

I've gotten some questions on the status of my recently-proclaimed re-dedication to diet and exercise, inspired in part by my upcoming 10th anniversary and also-upcoming first real vacation in 4 years and 5 months. It is going fine, thanks.

Actually, it is going sporadically, which is very in keeping with my personality and the way in which I apply myself to everything other than forcing my children to hug me, and including, over the past few months, this blog. (Could somebody open the windows in here? The dust is making me sneeze.) So sometimes, I have been EMPOWERED and DEDICATED and CHANGING MY LIFESTYLE and FOCUSING ON MY HEALTH and TAKING MY BODY BACK and MAKING MYSELF A PRIORITY FOR ONCE, GODDAMIT! And sometimes I have been oh, screw that empowered crap and that lifestyle bullshit and instead watch out because I am going to be a BRICK (duh duh duh duh) HOUSE. And sometimes I have really needed eight chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. And sometimes the children have simultaneously screamed for two solid hours and I have consoled myself with the careful application of an eight pound bag of chocolate chips.

There were many days when exercise was my PRIORITY and I was going to be STRONG and POWERFUL and HAVE ABS YOU COULD BOUNCE A QUARTER OFF OF. But there were just as many days when the combination of Jillian Michaels telling me about the feeling of fear leaving my body and Mia asking me eight questions a second while she "helped" me exercise was an insurmountable obstacle and I spent the time instead sprawled on the couch playing preschool with Little People.

So, in the past five weeks, I've lost a couple of pounds. Not nearly as many as I could have in the face of more dedication, but a couple. I'd go all truth-in-blogging and post the scale again, but the scale broke about two weeks ago and is of the firmly-held opinion that I currently weigh ERROR. I suppose I could replace it, and I usually take any opportunity for a trip to Target, but at the moment I am enjoying weighing ERROR and think I may as well continue until at least after my vacation.

But I'm a bit thinner, and my belly is a bit less flabby, and I am beginning to understand what a reasonable diet plan may be for me, incorporating plenty of protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables and plenty of cheating. And I'm working on finding a regular time in my day to exercise, but true daily exercise may have to just wait until my second child starts sleeping like a reasonable person and not like a rabid monkey bent on tormenting his caretaker.

So I did ok, I would like to do better, but more in terms of being active and eating in ways that make me feel healthy rather than ways that make me feel like a slug. And I admit it was somewhat gratifying yesterday when I went shopping for New York City pants (those are pants to wear in New York City, not some type of high-fashion pants about which you are totally in the dark while I am making the very latest trend my bitch, which I can assure you would never, ever happen), and I grabbed a pair that looked promising in an eight. And I had to take them back and get a six. And I had to take those back and get a four. And this is most certainly vanity sizing, since I have a collection of size four pants in my closet that I could zip only if I simultaneously split the back seam from waist to wazoo, but you better believe I bought those puppies, cause hey, size four pants.

And I mention that only so that I can mention this: the last time I posted about weight/diet/exercise, etc., I got quite a few comments about how I was thin and therefore shouldn't worry about such things. And that, frankly, made me a little annoyed. I would never tell you how you should feel about your body, why do you get to tell me how to feel about mine? But then I read this post from Swistle and had an ah-ha moment. Why yes, I'm sure it is grating to listen to someone saying oh boo-hoo, poor me and my size 4 ass when the easy assumption is that the size-4-ass-whiner would look even more disparagingly on a larger-than-size-4 ass, such as you yourself may be the proud owner of. And that, at least for me, is not the case. I don't call myself fat. (Well ok, once in a while to my husband but that is only to force him to jump in and swear that I am hotter than I have ever been.) I don't think that I am at the absolute outer edge of appropriate body size and everyone larger than me is by default over that line. I think most of us probably have a far harsher standard for ourselves than any we would ever consider applying to anyone else, and that if we were able to be truly objective about our own bodies we would find them far more acceptable than we are able to do while wearing them ourselves. If you were to see me naked, well, that would be inappropriate and awkward, now wouldn't it? But if you were to see me naked, you would likely conclude that, while I am generally pretty thin, my ass and thighs are definitely my Problem Areas. I would like my body to be a little different, but that has nothing to do with anything I may think about yours (which I usually have no opinion about anyway, seeing how it is none of my business).

Now, anybody want to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya?" I'll bring brownies.