honey, I’m home.

I work part time. 

Most days, to be honest, I work because I “should.” I have run through this list with my wife ad nauseum as I have alternatively floated/asked/begged to be a stay-at-home mom. We like our lifestyle, which requires two incomes. It’s a good example for the kids to see working moms, killing it at their careers and earning respect in the workplace. It keeps you current to regularly interact with adults of all ages. It’s not good for the kids to be my “everything” because (wah wah) they will one day leave me to live lives of their own. Etc. 

Some days, I work because I really enjoy what I do. I’m on an interesting deal, I got to take on a role I’ve never had before, I drafted something that went straight to the client with no one else reviewing it. These days it’s easy to love work, because it involves positive feedback and pats on the head and excitement. 

Then there are days like today. Bumby has not been sleeping well at all lately, and has been grouchy and contrary as a result. Also, because he has not been sleeping, I am exhausted and have been, well, grouchy and contrary. Today I grudgingly dragged myself out of bed at 6:45, just an hour and a half after the most recent nighttime wake up, and took my shower to get ready for work. I drank an unspeakable amount of coffee, put on some clothes that were not leggings, and dragged myself to the office. 

The day wore on. It was boring. I checked Facebook a lot. I looked at online pictures of our new house and fantasized about the day I will not be too exhausted to start running again, while I ate chocolate at my desk. I bought a new nursing top from Gap.com. I did a little work. I researched “sleep schedule 14 months”. 10 minutes earlier than usual, I packed up and left the office and got on the train to go home. 

And you know what? I can’t wait. I’m excited to see the kids, both big and of the Bumby variety. I am looking forward to cooking something interesting for dinner involving leftover ham. I can’t wait to hear about their days, and I won’t even be annoyed if Bums wants me to hold him the whole time I make dinner. 

So sometimes I work (or “work,” as was the case today) just for a break, so I can actually tolerate my life again. Or even muster some enthusiasm for it.  That is ok too, I think. 

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missing

I don’t talk as much about the big kids on this blog as I do about Bumby. This is not because they are less a part of my life or my parenting journey, it’s just that… they’re older. And at a certain point, their stories are theirs, not mine.

But this week, they are gone. They are in the Caribbean with their dad for Spring Break, and I miss them. It has been so lonely this week, and on top of that, Bumby has been having a hard week. He hasn’t been sleeping well, even for him. He has been grouchy and clingy.  He wants to be picked up all of the time. He has been very pesky with the dog, shoving his pacifier into her mouth, which she then chews. And his water bottle, and his toys, and anything else he wants to “share” with her.

Yesterday was particularly tough, as the nanny had called off, so I was stressed anyway with trying to jam a full day’s work into his naps, which were short and unpredictable. At 5, I finally threw in the towel and we went for a walk. We went down to CVS and  bought Q-tips. We stopped at the bakery on the way home and split a bunny cookie and some apple juice. We went to the playground and climbed on things that were too big for him but fun anyway.  At the playground, there were three big boys, maybe early middle school age, on the swings.

Bumby strode purposefully up to them. “Ah bah bah bah,” he said matter-of-factly. “Wooo?”  He then looked one of them, that I thought most resembled his brother, and said, “UP.”

I picked him up, even though that was not what he was getting at.  We went to the other set of swings, and played by ourselves, Bumby on my lap, swinging as I high as I could while also holding a nearly 30-lb baby.  We went home, and we played with the dog. Mommy came home and we had dinner. Bumby remained clingy and sort of… lonely, until bed time.

These big kids are so much a part of his life, and he doesn’t quite understand where they go all the time. It will be good for all of us when our kids come home.  I guess I am not the only one who misses them.

spring forward

Big One: Do we turn the clocks up or back in the spring?

Wife: There’s a saying. Fall forward, spring behind. 

Me: That’s not right. It’s the opposite, actually. 

And now, a prenting pro tip, from someone who has taken kids of all ages and sleep temperaments across multiple time zones more than is generally advisable. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be some BS about adjusting their bedtime 10 minutes per night for the week leading up to the change, which would be useless to you anyway because the clocks go forward tomorrow night. This stuff always sneaks up on us. We are the people who are putting their kids to bed at 10:30pm the night before school starts in the fall. With four kids, you’re just not organized enough to plan ahead like that. 

The tip is this: Don’t worry about when you put them to bed and when they get up. The thing to adjust is when they EAT. Change your mealtimes to the new time, and their sleep rhythms naturally sync up in just a couple of days. 

showing the house

Getting a new house is exciting. Selling your old one, not so much. In the middle of Bumby’s nightmarish illness, we had to show the house.  Which means it had to be spotlessly clean, and we had to regularly leave it empty for one-hour intervals.  Empty of humans and dogs, that is.

The house went on the market on Wednesday, and we had a broker open house and a showing on Thursday. It was easy to be out of the house for these, because we were at the ER all day.  Friday it was just me and the Bumby. We had showings at 9:30, 1:30 and 4.

For the 9:30 showing, I packed up Bumby and the dog, and we went to a local coffee house for some breakfast. The dog stayed in the car while Bumby ate 1/4 of my bagel and 3/4 of his napkin, all the while rejecting his oatmeal and bananas. We went home, he took a great nap, and we had some lunch.  It was 12:45.  The day was going swimmingly. I decided that for the second showing, I would take dog and baby for a nice long walk.

At 1, I decided it was time to start packing us up to go, since it can sometimes take a while and there was a little mess in the basement where we had been playing.

At 1:02, Bumby explosively pooped.  I scooped him up, went up to his room, and laid him gently on his changing table. He started thrashing around like a fish out of water, screaming MAMA NO NO NO.  I guess he did not want to be changed just then. In theory I would respect his agency over his body and wait a little before trying again, but, you know. Real estate, etc. I took off the poopy diaper and he smeared his poopy butt on the wall. Of the house we are trying to sell.  I wipe him clean-ish and put him down, praying he does not pee on the carpet while I clean the shit off the wall.  He does not. I pick him back up and put a diaper on while he is standing (I don’t know why he likes this better) then put on pants, socks, shoes, and a jacket.  Off we go!

Not so fast. While I have been doing this, the dog has decided to shred a piece of plastic toast from the kitchen set all over the basement floor.  I put the leash on the dog and set dog and baby near the garage door. Normally holding the leash and “walking the dog” will occupy Bumby for at least 20 minutes. I run down the three steps into the basement and start picking up the toast pieces from under the coffee table.  I hear “Mama!” and look up to see Bumby heading for me, sans dog.  I race over to him as he heads for the three steps, and catch him BY THE FACE as he falls forward down them.  I shove the toast pieces into my pocket and shove Bumby in the stroller. He is screaming, and the dog is now barking to show how upset she is that I am bothering her puppy.  I race up the stairs and grab a dog-poop bag, and off we go.  It is 1:28.

I am covered in sweat, Bumby is screaming, and the dog is pooping on the neighbor’s yard when the people pull up to look at our house. I pretend I do not see them or live there, and proceed to walk my little trio down the block.

We walk, and walk, and walk. I am exhausted and want to stop, so when I decide it has been a respectable amount of time, I start to head back to our house. The dog has actually pooped SEVEN TIMES on this walk, and I have only one bag so I have to keep opening it up and putting more poop in it and then tying it shut again. I am so tired of poop by the end of this walk.  The dog gets super excited by the thought of going home, and starts to pull on the leash and kill it like it’s a snake. She is extremely fierce.  So fierce, in fact, that she snaps the retractable leash. There is about a 12-inch piece of leash dangling from her collar, and I am holding the useless handle in my hand.  She decides it’s time to go home and starts racing for our house. Bumby starts crying again, because Where is the dog going?

I get her back with a fistful of treats and grab the leash end. I have to walk bent over and steer the stroller with one hand.  The people are still in our house.  I am standing across from it with a dog on a one-foot leash and a crying baby.  It starts to snow.  I give up and put the dog into the car, then Bumby into his carseat. We are going to get gas, I decide.  This is a great use of time. Multi-tasking!  I pray that I can get them both inside before the buyers come out and see the disheveled lady with the loud creatures and decide it’s too rough of a neighborhood.

We get gas.  They are still in our house. We drive by the new house to say hi. They are still in our house. I circle the block a few times. They are still in our house.  They stayed for an hour and fifteen minutes. Our house is not that big, y’all. What were they doing in there for an hour and fifteen minutes?  They finally leave, and I look back to discover that in the last 90 seconds of driving around my neighborhood, Bumby has fallen asleep.  I put the dog in the house, and go take a nap in the car with him.

For the 4:00 showing, I turned up at my friend’s house unannounced with a dog and a baby and said, “Hi. We’re only going to stay an hour or so. Do you have anything to drink?”

part time

Since returning to work, I have been part time. Most days I wish I could stay home full time, some days I really appreciate going to work.  Always I am grateful that I have the opportunity to work less than full time so that I can have some extra time with Bumby. Often, though, that extra time gets eaten up with chores, and running around, and I wonder whether it’s worth it to spend extra time with him when that time is spent at the grocery store.

Then, there are days like today.

The weather was finally nice, so I took my guy to the playground.  He did lots of very important baby things. He carried a rock around like a pet.  He ate dirt (not too much).  He climbed up the steps to the slide and went down. He put a short fat stick in his mouth like a cigar with his fat man belly sticking out.  He drove a fake car and turned some gears. He ran up some steps and over a bridge and then back and then down the big double slide, side-by-side with his Mama. He followed a big kid over to the swings and he went on them too. He scared a little old lady’s dog with his enthusiasm.  Then when he was seeming a little tired, I took him to the car and gave him his water as I buckled him in. He said “MMMMmmmmmmm” while he drank it and was no trouble at all to get in the car seat.

Even if 9 days home out of 10 involve chores, the 1 in 10 that is like today makes me so glad I have the opportunity to spend two mornings a week and one whole day at home.

Bumby at the park

throat cultures, nose swabs and x-rays, oh my

We have one very sick little Bumby.

We have been the super-germ house all winter, but it really took a turn for the worse on Tuesday.  I was on the phone on Tuesday morning, and Bumby fell asleep with his head on my lap. When he woke up an hour later, he picked his little baby head up, and I freaked out. The whole side of his face that had been in contact with my legs was covered in a rash, and he was ON FIRE. We rushed him to the pediatrician. When we got there he was covered in hives and had a fever of 104.7.  Long story short, he got blood taken, a urine sample (he did NOT like the catheter), Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and two big shots of antibiotics in his legs. His white blood count was off the charts (35 — I don’t know what. 3500? 35,000?  Who knows.  All I know is that his pediatrician looked positively rattled and used the word “invidious” to describe his illness) and he could barely breathe he was so congested.  With that kind of white blood count there was some kind of infection, probably a UTI or pneumonia.  When his urine came back negative, we went in for chest x-rays, and sure enough, he had pneumonia.

But is that the end of the story? Oh no.  He was also severely dehydrated from the fever.  The doctor took the urine sample at about noon, and he just didn’t have a wet diaper after that. The hours ticked by, and his diaper stayed dry.  We kept him on Tylenol and Motrin around the clock to keep the fever down, and force-fed him water with a medicine syringe. He really didn’t want it, and kept spitting it out, until Boo gave it to him. When he swallowed, she went crazy. She danced around, clapped, shouted YAY YAY over and over until he got a big smile. Then she did it again. He got more enthusiastic about drinking the water as she celebrated more and more, until he started clapping for himself with each sip.  At 9:45 pm, after getting him to drink 3 oz. of water a teaspoon at a time, he wet his diaper.  I nursed him and put him to bed.

We gave him Tylenol and Motrin at regular intervals all night, and I nursed him each time he woke to keep the fluids up.  Wednesday when he woke up, he seemed better. I took him for a check up and another shot of antibiotics, and he was relatively cheerful.  Then he got worse. And worse. By 4pm he was feverish and covered in hives again. Back to the pediatrician for more bloodwork and Benadryl.  His white count was nearly cut in half, but the high fever and rash were a mystery.  We decided to keep him hydrated and watch him overnight.

Thursday morning at 5:45, his fever was back up to 103 and he was sobbing.  We’d had enough. We packed him up, got my mother in law to stay with the big kids, and headed to the ER.  An entire day of testing ensued. His lungs looked much better, his white count was still going down, but he was still a very sick little boy. They decided to do a throat culture even though babies very rarely get strep, and they did a nasal swab for viruses. The nasal swab took 4 hours to come back, but finally we had an answer. In addition to the pneumonia, he had two viruses. One is like a common cold, but the other is much worse — it causes rashes, high fever, body aches, chills, you name it. So even though we had the pneumonia under control, this virus was causing him to have high fever and hives.

So he’s drinking water, taking antibiotics for the pneumonia, and resting. Last night for the first time in weeks, he went to sleep without fussing and slept 10 hours straight. He ate 1/4 of my bagel and half a napkin for breakfast, and is now napping.  He’s in much better spirits today but still stuffy and gets tired easily.

All of this is going on while we are selling our house. We have showings scheduled all weekend, so we have to keep leaving the house empty for a half hour here and there and keep it spotlessly clean.  If you have never had a teenager, just imagine trying to get one to keep their room spotless for a couple of weeks while you sell your house. It’s been…. challenging. Our realtor had to come over and make everyone’s beds yesterday when we rushed off to the ER.

I finally feel like we are on the mend — Bumby is recovering, the house is clean and ready to go — and I look down at my hands. My left hand is covered in a rash, and I can feel it breaking out on my back and under my bra. Here we go again.

sick house

I have so, so much new house related drama.  But I am in the mode of not jinxing things, so instead I will tell you this:

Bumby:  Ear infections in both ears, pink eye in both eyes, and a sinus infection — simultaneously.  Multiple random low-grade fevers, and a month of having those two snot-trails leading out of both nostrils no matter how frequently I bathe him or attack his face with a Kleenex. And don’t say “nose frida” at me, because the suctioning makes him cry so hard he just ends up with snot all over his face again.

Big brother:  A few random stomach-aches that I think are more linked to school-day content than actual biological illness. Generally healthy.

Boo:  Pink eye and a head cold.

Big one: Pink eye and a sinus infection.

The wife:  Sore throat, cough, pink eye (notice a theme?).

Me:  Six weeks of some horrible headcold that was described by the urgent care nurse as a “super virus,” in addition to a more recent sore throat and cough (that persists even after taking NyQuil cough).  And now, pink eye.

If you browse the blogs, none of this is anything particular to our family. It seems it is just a rough winter, sickness-wise, and only the big brother has managed to dodge it (so far). Poor us.  Poor all of you.  The only ones happy this winter are those with the forethought to buy stock in companies that make tissues and over-the-counter medications.

Can it be spring soon?