So Long, 2016

I wrote 14 posts this year. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still a blogger.

What can I say? It’s been a hell of a year. A lot of this is known to people; we all heard about the election, and no matter how you feel about the results, it was a big damn deal. We all know about the celebrities who died; Carrie Fisher’s passing hit me particularly hard.

For us, we’ve had a triathlon to train for (Mr. Sandwich) and support (Baguette and me), multiple IEP meetings, changes in leadership at Baguette’s school, lost teeth (the sixth came out this week), family drama that warrants assessment, and lice.

Oh, the lice.

We were supposed to travel to visit my dad and stepmom for Thanksgiving. But I had a bad cold, and based on much prior experience of making that trip sick, we decided not to. As it turned out, that was a wise decision. Because on the day we would have been driving, I discovered that Baguette and I had lice.

We called a service to come over to the house that night and comb all three of us, and scheduled the follow-up for the Monday after the holiday. But as it turned out, we couldn’t wait that long, so we also went to a lice-combing salon on Friday for an additional come-through.

There are, by the way, a lot of businesses providing this service in Los Angeles.

That was our hair; we also commenced on an astonishing amount of laundry, washing and drying on hot things that we often don’t even put in the dryer. We vacuumed and lint-rollered and bagged and froze and did everything we could think of to halt this in its tracks.

It was exhausting. It was not a vacation. It was not a break. But ultimately, we were successful–although we now are completely fixated on checking our heads on a regular (and probably unnecessarily frequent) basis.

We delayed our trip, planning to visit the week after Christmas. And then I got bronchitis. So we didn’t go. But we did have Christmas dinner with Mr. Sandwich’s parents, as planned. That was nice for a bit, and then discretion is the better part of valor, and also of family harmony on Christmas.

Now we are two weeks into Baguette’s three-week winter break from school. In case you were wondering, three weeks is too long. It’s not that I don’t love and value the time with her–it’s that we don’t have any other care for her, which means we have to take more days off from work, and it means that her routine is significantly disrupted in ways that are very difficult for her. And with my bronchitis that first week of the break, we didn’t do a great job of creating a different routine. We’re getting into one now, but that still doesn’t keep us from having rough days.

Long story short? I am ready for a new year. So Happy New Year to all of you!

And know that while I may not be able to stay up the whole time (among other things, Baguette got me up at around 4:00 this morning), I am definitely feeling this:

Kindness

We took Baguette to the doctor yesterday, to check on a minor concern. While we were there, we decided to get her flu shot–none of us has gotten it so far, because we’ve all been sick through the fall and into the winter, but she’s pretty healthy at the moment.

As always, Baguette screamed a lot about the shot. And this year’s shot is a doozy, so it had an even more extreme effect than usual. She and I waited outside the pharmacy while Mr. Sandwich went in to pick up her prescription. It took about 20 minutes. She was still in pain, and screaming.

People moved in and out of the courtyard where we were waiting. I tried to calm her, offering her distractions, singing to her (that definitely didn’t help), and walking around while holding her. After a while, I noticed a young boy looking at us and smiling.

He said, “Hi. Is it okay if I come over and talk to her?”

I said, “Yes, but she may not talk in return. She doesn’t talk much sometimes.”

He said, “That’s okay,” and came over.

He never lost the smile. He talked to her, and suggested games they could play, and put “pixie dust” on her arm, and let her play with his tablet.

After a couple of minutes, I said, “Do you have a brother or sister with autism? Because you really seem to know what you’re doing.” He answered, “Oh, I just really like little kids.”

Eventually his mother came up, and I introduced myself and told her how helpful her son was being. She said he was in a peer support program at his school, where he helps kids with ADHD and autism. I told her that it showed, because he was really good at it. She said, “I heard your husband mention it in the pharmacy, and my son asked me if he could go talk to your daughter. I said I didn’t know, but apparently he did anyhow.” I smiled and said, “He did ask first!”

Apparently Mr. Sandwich had to endure a long stretch of snarky, irritated, and exaggerated comments from the other adults in the pharmacy, several of whom seemed to feel that 15 minutes is the same as an hour, and that no one was doing anything about the upset child in the courtyard.

But let me tell you, that 12-year-old was a real grown-up.

Made-Up Rules for Our Imaginary Children

When Mr. Sandwich and I were married, but before we had Baguette, we made many pronouncements, as you do. Some of them still hold, like leaving the restaurant when we cannot keep her quiet and calm. Some of them remain untested (we are not fans of demanding MORE candy from people when trick-or-treating, and yes, we’ve seen that happen, but she’s not really a fan of trick-or-treating). Others have fallen by the wayside.

“No junk food before age 2! There is plenty of time to eat french fries later, but they don’t need them that young!”

At just under a year, Baguette reached up and pulled a french fry from Mr. Sandwich’s mouth and ate it. She loved it. Now I just wish she’d eat fries, because that would mean one more thing she eats.

“No TV before age 2!”

At about six months, she came home from day care with a fever. She felt awful and was exhausted, but could not quite tip over into sleep. I looked for something age-appropriate and stumbled across Yo Gabba Gabba. I thought, “Wow, this show is awful.” A minute later, she passed out on her own lap, and I thought, “This show is GREAT.” From there we found Pajanimals and Sesame Street (well, I knew about that one) and Wibbly Pig and Stella and Sam. We have never watched Yo Gabba Gabba again. That show is awful.

“We will never get a portable DVD player or own a car in which one is installed, even if we have to take a hammer to it. Our children can look out the window and play the Alphabet Game like we each did.”

We are seriously considering buying a portable DVD player for the car.

Sick Days

Last Wednesday night, I felt bad. It felt like the beginnings of the flu, with muscle aches. I emailed work and told them I’d be taking a sick day. This is very unusual. I don’t usually decide until the morning. But I was pretty sure the night before.

Thursday morning I had chills, and that afternoon I spiked a fever. I felt so bad that I didn’t take Tylenol until Mr. Sandwich came home, because I needed him to get the Tylenol from the bathroom cabinet. Getting it myself was too hard.

Then I started throwing up. That was fun.

I took another sick day on Friday. Saturday evening, we went to urgent care. They said it was probably bronchitis, gave me antibiotics, and told me to see my regular doctor on Monday and stay home from work until Wednesday.

I felt too sick on Monday, but I made an appointment for Tuesday.

On Tuesday, our street was being slurry-sealed. That meant we had to park around the corner. It’s not too far, but it’s not as close as our actual driveway. I headed out to the car, and as I walked down the street, could not help but notice the four police officers and maybe a sheriff, plus the guy sitting in the back seat of one of the police cars. Possibly this explained the helicopters I’d heard earlier. I also realized that my wallet was not in my bag. Since the situation on the corner appeared to be coming to a close, I decided to check the car. My wallet wasn’t in the car. I went back to the house, just as the guy in the police car was allowed to get out of the police car. My wallet wasn’t in the house, either. That meant it was probably in the car Mr. Sandwich had taken to work (long story short, it was). But I didn’t want to drive to the doctor’s office without my wallet, and I didn’t want to walk back to the car. So I punted.

On Wednesday, my doctor gave me a new antibiotic and an inhaler. You know it’s going well when you get an inhaler. She also said that if I wasn’t feeling better on Friday, to call back and she’d send me for a chest x-ray.

I wasn’t feeling better. Weirdly, I kind of had to argue to get the chest x-ray. But I got it, and you know what?

I’ve got pneumonia.

I’ve also got yet another antibiotic (don’t worry, every time I get a new one, I stop taking the old one, AND I’m taking probiotics). And two days in, I’m still freaking exhausted and coughing. My left lung still feels like it’s stuck to itself when I breathe.

Now, mind you, through all of this, Baguette still needs to go to school. And while I may want to spend all day sitting on the couch, she really can’t. So there are still outings and whatnot.

But after stocking up on Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, and then making minestrone, I have easy food for the next few days. So that’s good.

bowl of homemade vegetable soup

Thoughts on Measles

I have been vaccinated against measles four times.

FOUR!

The first time, I was one year minus three days.

The second time, I was going into the third or fourth grade, and my school required that I get the vaccination again because they required that you get it on or after your first birthday, and as I mentioned above, I got it three days shy of my first birthday.

The third time, there was a measles outbreak at colleges in the Midwest, and my mother decided that this put me in danger in California, and insisted that I get the measles vaccination again. The student health clinic asked me if I wanted the MMR, and I said, “No, just measles, please.” (The outbreak did spread. This in no way prevented me from being irritated with my mother.)

(Then, when I applied to grad school, they required that I also be vaccinated against mumps and rubella, but I couldn’t get the MMR because I’d gotten the measles vaccine that fall, so I had to get two more shots separately, which I also found irritating.)

(I am easily irritated.)

The fourth time was in 2011, when I got the MMR.

So that’s four measles vaccinations, which seems like plenty.

If I get the measles, I am going to be so pissed.

toy syringe from child's doctor kit

Things I’ve Been Thinking About

Baguette has done a lot of cool stuff lately. This will be a post of its own. It’s that much stuff.

  • I’m glad the holidays are over, but I could really use a vacation. Good thing there’s a three-day weekend starting tonight.
  • We’re playing a lot of football.
  • Sometimes we play leopard.
  • Leopard

  • Sometimes we play both at the same time.
  • I had my first session with a personal trainer today, and I am so sore I can’t walk down steps, and no one will sympathize because they’ve all been working out for years.
  • Eating a huge burger and fries with a beer may not have been the most productive response, but it worked for me at the time.
  • Unexpectedly running into John C. Calhoun must have been terrifying.
  • This Christmas, it occurred to me that I don’t know if Baguette knows about Santa. Then it occurred to me that we also haven’t taught her anything about Jesus. Then I started to wonder what, exactly, she thinks is going on at Christmas. So I bought her a book of Bible stories, and am reading her one a night before bed. I also contradict them with my commentary. I am not sure I’m helping.

Night-Night

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that sleep has always been an issue for Baguette–and, by extension, for Mr. Sandwich and me.

Baguette naps at day care, but not at home, and nighttime sleep is very hard to come by. Although we never planned to bed-share, it turned out that doing so got all of us more sleep than any other approach we tried.

But she kept growing, and the bed didn’t. Eventually, none of us was getting enough sleep. And then, on a trip to visit family, she suddenly decided that she would rather sleep on the hotel room’s couch.

We capitalized on this by moving her to the couch when we got home. One of us has to lie with her until she goes to sleep, and that can still take a while. Our girl does not slip off into dreamland, not even when she’s clearly exhausted.

And, frankly, the couch is not really big enough for two to sleep, even if one of us is still pretty small.

Mr. Sandwich therefore took his experience in building a toddler bed and put it to use in building a twin frame. One of my cousins made a beautiful elephant quilt, because elephants are Baguette’s favorite animals. We bought a mattress and some sheets.

And then this happened.

twin bed

Now, if we can just get her to stay there. Wish us luck.

Some Stuff About Some Things

There’s a lot going on, and while I really want to write, it’s hard to come up with a unified concept. So here are a handful of thoughts and recent developments that are not at all unified.

  • Baguette had a low-grade fever for much of the weekend. It turns out that when she is sick, she avoids negative constructions–she would not say “I don’t want Mommy to go,” but would say “I want Mommy to stay.” (She was better yesterday afternoon and hence is at day care today.)
  • I’ve been making simple syrup regularly this summer, and life is just so much easier when it’s around. Want to make that regular tea sweet? Want to make lemonade? Simple syrup to the rescue!
  • We finally caught up on Sherlock. Why are there only three episodes per season? Why is the next season not airing until 2016? Whywhywhy?
  • I need to write more, but my job doesn’t involve writing, but my bosses do give me the flexibility and support that I really do need right now. Yet still I need to write more. It’s a conundrum.
  • We really should get new passports, what with ours having expired and all. Not that we have travel plans, just that we should have them. But why are passports so expensive? Again with the whywhywhy?
  • Time to start working out. But how to find the time?

That’s it. For now.

PSA: Mercury Can Kill You

Not the planet. Well, I’m sure it could, because it’s super hot and also if it fell on you, ouch! But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Mr. Sandwich and I try to be environmentally friendly. Yes, we love our air conditioning, but we also do things to cut down on how much energy we use.

  • We line-dry a lot of our laundry.
  • We have solar screens (that Mr. Sandwich made!) on the windows.
  • Mr. Sandwich has added insulation under the roof.
  • We replace our worn-out appliances with the most energy efficient ones we can afford.
  • We have a gray-water system (that Mr. Sandwich built!).

We’d love to have solar panels on the roof, but that’s a much bigger project.

And indoors, we’ve been using these:

compact fluorescent lightbulb

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs can save a lot of energy. They cost more up front than the old incandescent bulbs, but they last much, much longer.

Also, they contain mercury. This isn’t a problem unless one breaks.

The other night, I went into our bedroom and turned on the light–and a bulb popped. Over our bed, an assortment of Baguette’s stuffed animals, and some clothes.

So we pulled out the sofabed and slept in the living room. The next morning, Mr. Sandwich cleaned up the debris, following the directions from the EPA.

Please make a note of those instructions, because they are important. And a little research revealed that leaving a burned-out CFL in the socket can cause it to explode. So learn from us, and don’t do that.

For now, we’re switching (as the CFLs burn out, and we remove them from the socket immediately, because who needs more exploding bulbs?) to LEDs. They come with their own toxic elements, such as lead and arsenic, and they also need to be cleaned up with extreme care–but they use even less energy than CFLs.

So it’s literally a case of choosing your poison.

CFL Sign

45 Good Things: What I Learned

My plan was to do 45 good things by my 45th birthday. The things could be big or small. They could affect people directly or indirectly. They could be public or very personal. The idea wasn’t to change the world, but maybe to change someone’s day.

Picking up three pieces of trash in a row didn’t count, but picking up three pieces of trash at different times of the day did. Giving money and food to people counted on a per-person basis, whether they were sitting together or in entirely different parts of town.

So, 45 Good Things later, what did I learn?

  • I should have started earlier.
  • Sometimes holding the elevator door really means a lot to the other person.
  • No, really, I should have started earlier.
  • I made a lot of donations.
  • I didn’t pick up nearly as much trash as I thought I would.
  • It took a lot longer than I expected.
  • I could have done the whole thing just picking up dog poop.

Complete list here.