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:

Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out

You know how some people have a junk drawer? For the past several years, we’ve had a junk room.

That wasn’t the plan. It was supposed to be my office, for the freelancing business I was going to have on the side. But that’s not now things turned out.

To begin with, I don’t freelance. I have a business license and no business, which means that every year I get to tell the City of Los Angeles that I am happy to pay them a percentage of $0. Add to that the fact that we have no time and no energy, and that means that on the rare occasions that we clean up, we wind up making stacks of things and then saying, “Just put that in the office.”

What that meant was that we had a room so full of stuff that we wouldn’t let Baguette go in there. We went in as little as possible, and then felt guilty just looking at the closed door. Our house is not that big, which means that removing a room from use drastically reduces our available space.

So last week, Mr. Sandwich and I took two days off of work. We sorted and threw out and recycled. We made a trip a day to Goodwill. And, based on a tip from a co-worker, we made multiple trips to Office Depot to deposit papers in the locked shredding bins that will be disposed of by Iron Mountain.

We pushed on through the weekend, and are continuing throughout the house. But this room was by far the worst, and that meant it was the place to start. So what did that process look like?

Thursday
1-Thursday2

Friday
2-Friday2

Saturday
3-Saturday2

Sunday
4-Sunday2

Monday
5-Monday2

We’re exhausted. But we feel much better.

October 2015: Scarier Than You Think

So I’ve had pneumonia. That’s meant too may trips across town to the doctor, and lots of medication. Unfortunately it’s been hard to rest, because even with taking sick days from work, Baguette still needs to go to school, and I need to drop her off. And Wicket had had a mysterious sore on her outer ear that required several vet trips for antibiotics, bandaging, rebandaging, and bandage removal.

But on the days when I didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, I took naps. Naps help. And that was my plan for Thursday–even though I did have an appointment, it wasn’t until early afternoon. So: school drop off, nap, early lunch, doctor’s appointment. It seemed like a good plan.

What that plan didn’t include, though, was what happened before Baguette woke up. Wicket, who is normally an exceptionally continent dog, had two accidents in the kitchen that morning. We never get upset at her for going in the house, because she actually works really hard at not doing that. If the dog door is closed and she’s really desperate, she scrupulously keeps it on the tile (I tried putting down paper; she went next to it and then looked at me with an expression that said, “I did’t want to mess up your nice paper! It looked special!”)

Then she started vomiting. This is something that happens only when her stomach gets too empty and she brings up bile, and we have changed her feeding schedule to accommodate that. What never happens is vomiting six times in a row.

Then she couldn’t climb onto the couch cushion that was on the floor. This from a dog who, the night before, had been jumping onto the couch with only her usual intermediate step (floor to giant memory foam thing to couch).

Then she started tilting her head to the left. Then she stopped being able to stand up. She just lay there, breathing heavily. I brought her bed out from our room so that she would have a soft spot to lie. Then she started frantically rolling, over and over in seemingly endless circles that flipped her out of her bed, but didn’t end the rolling.

I thought she was dying. I said goodbye, I told her that we loved her, I told her she’d taken good care of us. I cried and cried. I made Mr. Sandwich get off the bus as soon as he could so that he could pick up one of the counter-traffic buses and get home, because I had to take Baguette to school, but I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving Wicket alone. It was absolutely terrifying.

During her second bout of frantic rolling, it seemed like she was trying to get her collar off. So I took it off for her–and she was still. The rolling stopped, and she just lay down, exhausted but calm. I called Mr. Sandwich back, just before he was about to get on the northbound bus, and told him that I thought he didn’t have to come back, after all. I got Baguette up and fed and dressed, and had her say goodbye to Wicket, just in case. And then I crossed my fingers and took her to school.

When I came home, Wicket was still exhausted but calm. I called the vet and they had me come in right away. She still seemed like her normal self, albeit unusually tired.

What the vet thinks happened was this: The day before, Wicket had gone to the groomer. It was the place we’ve been taking her for at least five years, but that day there were different techs, and they gave her the fastest grooming to date. So the best guess is that she got stressed out by the speed grooming and her blood pressure went up, causing a small seizure or stroke. They gave her some medication to settle her stomach and sent her home.

I went to my doctor’s appointment. On the way, I started to have chest pains. My doctor gave me an EKG, and everything was normal, so it was probably just stress.

Here’s the thing: We’ve had Wicket for six years, and everyone’s best guess at the time was that she was 12 years old. That means she’s now 18. Overall, she’s in great shape–she may nap a lot, and she may be missing more than half of her teeth, but she loves her food and her walks. People are always amazed to hear how old she likely is. And no matter how long we’ve had her, I’m not ready for her to go.

The food has changed; the blood tests and x-ray showed that she has pancreatitis, so she’s on a prescription low-fat diet for the rest of her life. She’s had antibiotics and fluids, and is stronger and back to her usual scramble onto the couch. We each have follow-up appointments next week.

So all of that? Is why I can’t remember which day last week I had another kidney stone.

This October is not easy. I think this sums it up:

It’s a Lot All at Once

First we had ants, and caulk and Seventh Generation Granite & Stone Cleaner and a little bit of Black Flag came to the rescue.

And then as soon as we got rid of the ants, the back yard was overrun with fleas. And I do mean overrun. We’ve tried so many things. Mr. Sandwich (who is doing most of the combating–neither Wicket nor I has gone out back in days) and I woke up one morning and compared notes to realize that BOTH of us were having dreams about diatomaceous earth. Last night was Midnight Dog Bath. This seems never-ending.

It’s also very hot.

The floor tiles in our eat-in kitchen (extending into the back entryway and 1/2 bath) are starting to come loose. I am not a fan of tile–it’s too hard to stand on at length. But what’s good in the kitchen and bathroom? I asked Twitter, and as usual, Twitter was practically no help at all (although apparently laminate is not the answer).

Oh, and since Wicket has been bitten by fleas a lot, we need to take her to the vet–and also have him look at the weird bump on her side and what is either pinkeye or a reaction to the flea shampoo, or something else entirely (what do I know? I’m not a vet).

Anatomy of a Birthday Weekend

Or, What We Did On Our Birthday Vacation

Thursday (our birthday weekends start early, by necessity)

  • Tour a school that we might want Baguette to attend next year.
  • Decide that we do not want Baguette to attend that school (it seems like a very good school–just not what we want for her).
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio and back yard.
  • Go to speech therapy and music therapy.
  • Go to Costco and buy food and birthday cake.
  • Clean the house.
  • Make items for party games.

Friday

  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the back yard.
  • Do some work that needs to be done even if I am on vacation.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the back yard.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Welcome grandparents and great-aunt, who are visiting from out of town.
  • Go out to dinner.
  • Clean the house.
  • Make party favors.

Saturday

  • Make party favors.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Make signs for food.
  • Clean the house.
  • Clean the patio.
  • Locate the Happy Birthday banner we bought two years ago.
  • Put up the Happy Birthday banner.
  • Locate more tape for the Happy Birthday banner.
  • Make the salad.
  • Put the Happy Birthday banner back up.
  • Welcome guests. Realize again that we have invited a really large number of people.
  • Abandon hope of keeping the Happy Birthday banner up.
  • Make sure parents and children are enjoying themselves.
  • Call the pizza parlor and confirm that the pizza is actually going to be delivered.
  • Make sure that Baguette has the chance to find some quiet time.
  • Put out the pizza, salad, and signs for the food.
  • Realize that I have left another parent supervising Baguette in the front yard for far longer than is reasonable.
  • Ask Baguette if she wants pizza. (“No thank you.”)
  • Ask Baguette if she wants macaroni and cheese. (“Yes.”)
  • Bring a chair we took outside for the party back inside, because Baguette wants to eat at the table in the breakfast nook like she always does, not at the table on the patio where her friends are.
  • Make sure everyone gets food.
  • Eat one slice of pizza and some salad.
  • Realize that, in spite of all the cleaning, the living room still contains a case of baby wipes and a 3-pack of contact lens solution.
  • Decide not to care.
  • Bring out the cake and put candles on it.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light the candles.
  • Try to light one candle, which is the most that we may be able to keep lit with the breeze.
  • Abandon hope of lighting the candles.
  • Serve the cake.
  • Encourage Baguette to say “thank you for coming to my party” to as many children as possible.
  • Say goodbye to everyone.
  • Try to get Baguette to nap.
  • Abandon hope of getting Baguette to nap.
  • Regroup with grandparents and great-aunt when they come back from their hotels for dinner.
  • Order Chinese food.
  • Eat Chinese food (adults) and macaroni and cheese (Baguette).
  • Open presents from grandparents and great-aunt.
  • Accept that the most enticing part of presents is the paper, which tears interestingly and can be draped as a fetching hat.
  • Say goodnight to grandparents and great-aunt.

Sunday

  • Have morning meltdown (Baguette, with collateral damage to Mr. Sandwich’s hearing).
  • Regroup with grandparents and great-aunt.
  • Caravan to 7-11 for coffee.
  • Caravan to L.A. Zoo, because it is the weekend and therefore we go to the L.A. Zoo.
  • Look at zoo animals.
  • Get in line for lunch.
  • Take Baguette for a walk, because the line is too long. (Mr. Sandwich)
  • Realize that Baguette is screaming, and Mr. Sandwich is waving energetically from outside the cafeteria.
  • Take Baguette and try to comfort her.
  • Realize that 5 feet away, a zoo docent is holding a small constrictor.
  • Consider one’s pathological fear of snakes.
  • Ask Baguette if she wants to touch a snake.
  • Confirm with Baguette that she wants to touch a snake.
  • Hold Baguette while she touches the snake.
  • Wash Baguette’s hands.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Leave zoo.
  • After Baguette falls asleep in the car, take advantage of the situation to trim her fingernails while Mr. Sandwich runs into the hardware store.
  • Go home and let Baguette unwind.
  • Make brownies for Baguette to take to day care the next day for her actual birthday.
  • Watch Baguette start to spool up again when grandparents and great-aunt rejoin us for dinner.
  • Try to prevent meltdown.
  • Fail.
  • Take Baguette into her room, comfort her, and tell her that she can take time to calm down, but that we will be in the living room so she doesn’t feel abandoned.
  • Give Baguette iPad when she asks for it. (Mr. Sandwich)
  • Be grateful that, this time, the iPad helps her come out of the meltdown instead of exacerbating it, because there is no predicting.
  • Send grandparents out for In-N-Out.
  • Welcome Baguette when she comes back to the living room, feeling better.
  • Feed Baguette one of her favorite noodle dishes.
  • Tell Baguette that we will be on patio, and that she can come out when she wants to.
  • Eat In-N-Out while Baguette plays with party games on back lawn.
  • Say goodbye to grandparents and great-aunt, who are returning to respective homes on Monday.
  • Give Baguette a bath.
  • Open a few gifts for Baguette and talk to her about what they are and which of her friends gave them to her.
  • Write thank-you notes to those friends.
  • Wrangle Baguette into bed.
  • Sleep fitfully.

Monday

  • Put brownies in car.
  • Take thank-you notes to day care, along with party favor for one guest who didn’t get one.
  • Give brownies to teacher.
  • Realize that Baguette would still really prefer to have some quiet time.
  • Recognize that at this point there is nothing to be done about that.
  • Drop off thank-you notes.
  • Wonder how ABA will go tonight.
  • Wonder how birthday phone call with aunt and uncle will go tonight.
  • Wonder if Baguette will catch stomach bug that is running rampant through her school.
  • Think about how, at this rate, it will take several days to open Baguette’s presents.
  • Go to work.
  • Really, really intend to write the rest of the thank-you notes.

Little girl in chair, covering face with "Happy Birthday" balloon

Ten Things About Me

I totally stole this from Nina at Sleeping Should Be Easy. As you do.

So here are 10 questions for you to answer on your blog(s), should you so choose.

  1. What’s the last movie you watched (in the theater or DVD)?
  2. What’s a random fact about you?
  3. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  4. What are three things you can’t live without?
  5. What is the best thing to happen to you this past month?
  6. What is the biggest stress in your life right now?
  7. Tell me five things I’d see when I walk in your door.
  8. Did you—or do you—have a nickname? What’s the story behind it?
  9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  10. Why do you come to this blog?

And here are my answers:

  1. What’s the last movie you watched (in the theater or DVD)? Frozen. I do have a four-year-old, after all. The last movie I saw in the theater was Star Trek Into Darkness, and WOW, was that was a disappointment.
  2. What’s a random fact about you? I have ancestors from a lot of places, but only the Celtic ones show.
  3. Would you like to be famous? In what way? Not famous enough to get doxxed, I can tell you that much.
  4. What are three things you can’t live without? Baguette, Mr. Sandwich, and butter.
  5. What is the best thing to happen to you this past month? Baguette moved into the bed in her room!!!!!!!
  6. What is the biggest stress in your life right now? Lack of time.
  7. Tell me five things I’d see when I walk in your door. A giant pile of mail, a lion chair/pillow, my bag, a camera on a tripod (we just finished taking our family picture for our holiday photo card).
  8. Did you—or do you—have a nickname? What’s the story behind it? As far as I know, I’ve never had much in the way of nicknames. I have no idea why not.
  9. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? I very much appreciate the way my parents emphasized breadth of interests, but I wish I’d been taught how to focus on something beyond the task/project level.
  10. Why do you come to this blog? Because it wouldn’t be here without me? I’m guessing this one is more for you.

What Comes To Mind

  • I’ve read Tuck Everlasting more than once and have no idea what happens in that book.
  • Ditto Wide Sargasso Sea.
  • I also don’t understand the appeal of ripped jeans as attractive fashion. I didn’t get them last time, either.
  •  Is there a way to eat meringues gracefully?
  • Why am I eating this meringue?
  • High temperatures still are in the 80s in our part of L.A. Hello, November!
  • I baked pumpkin bread anyway.
  • We are entering the world of LAUSD. I’ll admit it, just like everyone else does–I’m apprehensive.
  • But, hey, at least there’s pumpkin bread.

 

loaves of homemade pumpkin bread

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.

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

Why My House is Messy

I know my house is messy. I’m not a good housekeeper. I never have been, and neither was my mother. I know she would have recognized herself in Claire McCarthy’s Huffington Post piece.* Also, there’s this.

I do want my house to be clean. It’s so much more peaceful and comfortable when it is. Mr. Sandwich and I agree on this (For the record, if you come over to our house? He’s the one who cleaned it for you.) And we really want to have people over, but we’d feel so much better about it if we were more orderly.

messy kitchen table
This is our kitchen table after Mr. Sandwich has taken some stuff off of it.

And, honestly, “orderly” is key here. We have too much stuff, and we have no organization system. But there aren’t dirty dishes lying around (seriously, I feel like I am always washing dishes), and the laundry is either clean or in the hamper (Mr. Sandwich is always doing laundry). We’re neither hoarders nor a hotbed of disease.

So is your house clean? I’d probably love being there. But if it’s a mess, I’m probably cool with that, too. Because I’m not visiting you for your house, I’m visiting you because it’s fun. So if I’m not judging you, why am I judging myself?

*That Dutch saying quoted in the comments? Yeah, the Dutch are a nation of people who leave their curtains open so you can peer in their windows and see how clean their houses are. My mother-in-law is Dutch. She’s the loveliest person, and yet she still can’t hide that my housekeeping pains her.