And Now for Something Completely Different

So I guess some people got to talking, and it was decided that there would be a big, giant Bitchin’ Bitchfest on the weekend of the Labor Day (for those in the United States it was Labor Day, that is). Here are the details. The upshot is we all need to bitch every now and again, and sometimes we can’t do it in our own space because people we know and love visit. So why not go elsewhere — like a bar to which you’ve never been — and bitch there?

I am hosting Maria from Zanti.

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Dear Birthmom–

I want to like you, I really do. I want to not worry that you will be bad for my son. Oh God, do I want to be able to say my son without using a tone that suggests ownership. When I first met Larry, this boy that we share so intimately, he was 7weeks old and still on a regular dose of Morphine. He was a zombie of a baby because you couldn’t be bothered to put him first. I hate that about you–I hate that, in your mind, everyone is a player in the “A” show. This wasn’t your first baby, you saw what your addiction did to your daughter. You were clean when you found out you were pregnant but you chose to go back to using because that’s what felt good to you. Well now we have a little boy, you and I, who is sick a lot of the time. Because his immune system was under attack in your womb he suffers from maddening allergies. They are so bad that before we could pinpoint the allergens we thought he might have cystic fibrosis, he body was so full of mucous that he spent most days crying and every day being pumped full of antibiotics to help ease the infections. He and I have struggle though learning to speak and learning to walk and learning how to keep himself safe. His little body, in your belly, was so wracked with narcotics that he has to fight every day just to function like an average kid.

But I know that underneath of that addiction must lay some sort of illness or trauma that you mask with drugs. I can’t believe that you chose to poison yourself and my son simply because your are selfish.

I gets to me how you have treated me. My skin crawls when I think about your repeated assertions that you are the right person to be raising this little boy. I did not steal your son from you, I fought for two years to make sure that you and birthdad were given every, single chance to get him home with you. I invited birth family to every party we threw, I was available at the drop of a hat for visits (many of which no one could be bothered to attend except for me and a confused little boy). I wanted it to work for you but you couldn’t be bothered.

The only time you managed to get it together enough to show up for one of Larry’s events was his adoption day. HIS BIG DAY. HIS FAMILY’S BIG DAY. You had the audacity to turn the one day that was designed to be about my family and Larry, joining as one, into another act in the “A” show. Ho dare you show up to court and say you don’t approve of his adoption? How dare you take that day away from us? What good did that do you? He was officially part of my family by late the next day and all you managed to do was to hurt me. But that’s what you wanted, I’m sure, one last jab at my heart.

I cry a lot when I think that one day he will really want, and maybe need, to meet you. Because as much as I want to like you, I am having a really hard time. I want him to see you that way that I do, to know that you will lie to him and manipulate him the way you do everyone in your life.

But let me tell you something, Birthmom, I will never tell him anything but that you loved him. I will tell him that you were sick and loved him so much that you chose to let me be his Mommy. I will lie–for you and for him.

Zanti

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Thanks for reading. I’ll forward Maria any comments.

Wake-Up Call

I went for the fourth cup of coffee this morning. I have been successful to cutting down to three cups — I was actually toying with the idea of starting to go to half regular and half decaf. Not today.

Why is it that my children can blissfully sleep in until 7:30 or 8 o’clock on the weekends (sometimes even 8:30)? But during the week, they wake up five minutes before my alarm goes off??

This morning, Bun was screaming at 5:25 a.m. Binky replacement and a little rocking got her back to dozing at least. However, in the meantime, Monkey had awoken and was now perched on the edge of my bed. I got her to lay down, but snooze time was lost to elbows, knees, and deep sighs.

I am seriously dragging here. I am trying to get to work around 7 a.m. for the next week or so. I have a lot of details to take care of to get Monkey all set for school, so I’m trying to leave around 3:30 in the afternoons. Yesterday it was her varicella vaccination (that’s chickenpox to you and me) and school supply shopping (let’s see if those supplies actually stay out of Monkey’s hands for a week. I’m betting against it). Tomorrow it’s a visit to the new daycare.

In the meantime I have to clean my house, because my brother, sister-in-law, and their three boys are staying the weekend there with my children. This is good, though, because DearDR and I are celebrating our anniversary — not in our house! (Honestly, our plans are so very lame, I’m not going to even mention them.)

I will get sleep this weekend. I hope I make it to then!

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Okay, I keep hoping my camera will be resurrected. In the meantime, what would you suggest I get? I would like some inexpensive, user-friendly options, but you can go ahead and tell me what you would buy if price were no object, too. (Price is definitely an “object” — a big, fat obstacle-type object.)

Weekend Retrospective

I should be noted that Bun is too young for Kennywood. Or perhaps it should be noted that Bun should not be taken anywhere, not even outside for a walk, if she has not taken her daily two-hour nap.

I would love to tell you how much fun we had at Kennywood on Saturday. I would love to go on and on about what a fabulous day it was, and how great the food was, and how it wasn’t really that boiling hot.

I would also love to show you some pictures of how much fun we were having BUT, Monkey having dropped the digital camera INTO THE SINK the night before, I cannot show you any pictures.

I do have video, and once they are downloaded to Google or YouTube, I will show them to you. If I use Google, it will be sometime around the next Olympics before they are done, but at least I have a visual record. And not just the memories seared into my brain by the fiery hot Pittsburgh sun.

Yeah, you read that right.

The fact of the matter (if you haven’t guessed by now) is that Bun at Kennywood was much more work and much less fun than I had anticipated. Let’s just say that I wildly underestimated just how NOT FUN it would be. She would not stand still; she would not sit in the stroller; she would not hold hands; she did occasionally consent to be carried, but that was its own special brand of hell. Did I mention it was hot? She did, by some grace of the gods of the amusement park, go on some rides with her big sister. Other times she invented her own rides, and at the very least was in one easily monitored spot. Although there were times I sincerely wished that spot were much, much shadier.

Monkey, on the other hand, had a blast. Monkey made memories and rode rides and rode the merry-go-round and named her horse Horace the Horse and had cotton candy and fudge and did ride in the stroller. Monkey made it completely worth the hot sweaty stressful trip.

And let’s put it this way: It only cost us $20 to get in. We also put out for two bottles of water, some strawberries and cream, Potato Patch fries and pop (eaten at the hottest table in Kennywood — I swear to Noah’s Ark the sun was a white hot spotlight determined to make the cheese on those hot, salty fries boil), cotton candy, and fudge. Lunch was on the company, and the pavilion also featured pop and water to drink. FREE. Oh, and I also packed food. Like I could get the kids to sit still long enough to eat. (Something healthful at any rate. Monkey and Bun looked like they had been instantly transported to heaven when they got their first tastes of cotton candy.)

Back in the car as we were leaving around 6:30 p.m., DearDR turned to me. (It should be noted at this point: DearDR was a champ. He saw me melting down a couple of times, and whisked Bun off of my hands. We were a good team at Kennywood. And he didn’t bitch once about not getting to go on any grown-up rides. He didn’t bitch once about anything, actually.) Fortunately, he had already turned on the air conditioning. He said, “Look, I know you were stressed about today. But it was a success. No one got kidnapped, no one is missing a limb. No one was even out of view for five seconds. It didn’t rain. Our daughters had fun. Monkey will remember how much fun she had.” He went on to say (something I have been trying to tell him for almost four years now), “It is not about how much fun we have. We’re working at these things. We don’t go on vacation; we take the kids on vacation.”

In other words, RPM, it’s not about you. We didn’t go to Kennywood, we took the kids to Kennywood.

And it was a good time.

Also, I’m not taking Bun back until she’s four.

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Friday night with these ladies was FUN. I was bummed I had to bolt around 10 p.m. because DearDR got stuck with a patient in crisis. I can’t wait to see them all again, and read about them and their kids, and find Burgh Baby’s Mom a place she can get a strawberry daiquiri (how hard can it be people??).

Random Thoughts: News of the Week

I signed Monkey up for preschool and a new daycare on Tuesday. I am so excited for her! I would spare you the, “I can’t believe my little baby is going to preschool” yadda, yadda, yadda. But you know what? My little baby is going to preschool!

She asks everyday, “Am I going to preschool today?” She can’t wait. I can’t wait! I really think she is going to love it.

And, yes, a new daycare. Right now, just three days a week (well, technically two half days, after preschool, and one full day). She may start there full time depending on what DCL decides to do. More on that in a moment.

And Bun is on the waiting list at the new daycare, too. They have to hire another staff member for the toddler room first.

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DCL: First, I have noticed some changes since DCL, DearDR, and I sat down for our little conversation. DCL is trying to bring more structure to her day, instituting table time, planning activities, and so on.

Second, DCL received an anonymous note in the mail threatening to report her to the state and the IRS. She thinks it came from one of her neighbors (no, it didn’t come from me or DearDR). As a result, she and MK are considering going in together, and getting a license from the state. That would mean should would have to cut the number of kids (regardless of the season — she says she always has more in the summer). It would probably also mean her prices are going to increase, but my expenses are already increasing as Monkey enters school and a new daycare. So what’s the diff?

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I get to go to dinner with some blogging Burgh moms tonight. They will probably manage to write about it before I do because: We are going to Kennywood tomorrow!

It’s my company’s annual employee picnic. It is only costing $20 for the four of us, and they have free pop and a free lunch from 1-4 p.m. How cool is that?

I haven’t been to Kennywood since I was pregnant with Monkey. In case you didn’t know, you can’t ride ANYTHING at Kennywood when you’re pregnant. Not even the Turnpike. Well, actually, you can ride the carousel. I don’t even like the carousel, but I did ride it on that occasion. Just to prove a point. Don’t ask what point.

It will be Monkey and Bun’s first time. I’m curious to see how they do and what they want to do. And what kind of dirt Bun decides to try to eat. I promise — promise — to bring the cameras, both still and video.

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In house news: We have killed three mice. (For the funniest mouse-killing story I have seen online, go here. If we could buy a cat, we would. But I am allergic. Maybe when the girls are old enough to clean out the litter box, I’ll reconsider and take a daily Claritin for sniffles, but for now, no cats.) Of course, I mopped my kitchen floor and put things back together last night (I still have to disinfect the drawer under the stove), and then saw the body in a cupboard this morning. Gross!

Left a note for DearDR. For goodness sake, I’m a vegetarian. I’d let the critters share the house with us if they weren’t disease carriers. And if they would agree to not poop in my silverware drawer.

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The bathroom floor is a disaster. DearDR pulled up a corner of the rug, dried out the floor, and then ripped out half of the rug. The former owners GLUED the rug on top on linoleum. So now I have a big, sticky mess in there.

I have three levels of frustration about this project:

1. I had wanted that rug removed when we first moved in, a little over three years ago now. I consider rugs in bathrooms the height of disgusting-ness (is that a word?). Unfortunately, it wasn’t high on DearDR’s list. I’m still not sure it’s on his list.

2. I went though the trouble and stress to take the girls to Erie by myself (driving on the interstate with two toddlers in the back is a recipe for an accident, and I have to stop doing it). When I first noticed the spreading dampness on the rug, I told DearDR something had to be done. He said, and I quote, “Take the girls to Erie, and you will have a new bathroom floor when you get home.” I have a different bathroom floor than the one I left last Friday, but it’s certainly not new.

3. So now when is he going to do it? We are completely tied up the next two weekends. Unless he commits to doing it on a Sunday, and gets help, I don’t know when it is going to happen. And I’m not taking the girls to Erie by myself again so that it can happen. So sorry, Charlie.

I am getting an estimate from my sister-in-law’s brother, who is a contractor. But unless he gives us a break on the price, I sincerely doubt we’ll be able to afford it. One plus: We got free ceramic tiles from my parents. So at least we don’t have to pay for that. Just time & labor. Great.

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If you are not already checking out this site, you have to go. Go now. This chickie (and I sincerely use that term with the highest respect) makes me laugh out loud. She pretty much takes stuff from the Post-Gazette and sums it up in her own inimitable and very, very funny style. I’m glad she’s saying it, because somebody should. Thanks, PittGirl.

Erie-sistable

There’s a lot going on around here, and I’m going to try to cover it all while also putting my house back together, working full time, getting paperwork filled out for Monkey’s new school and daycare, and, you know, generally trying to be a good wife and mother while still having maybe a half hour to myself at night to keep my sanity. The usual.

We spent the weekend up in Erie with Nonna and Pap-pap. And it was a non-stop whirlwind of adventure, not something I ever considered Erie to be when I lived there. When Nonna and Pap-pap get time with their grandkids, it’s go-go-go.

We spent a good amount of Saturday at the CelebrateErie festival. So did many other residents of Erie and its outlying areas. It was hot and crowded, fun and chaotic. Bun had not napped well in the car, and had no intention of napping more at Nonna’s. As a result she was a mess. Still mostly pleasant and fun, but when not, really, really not. Also, she did not want to stop moving. I think she strongly suspected in her very tired and over-stimulated 19-month-old brain that if she stopped, she would immediately fall asleep. She did not test this theory.

I mostly ran around with Bun while Monkey stayed with Nonna, Pap-pap and Soul Sista. (This seems to be the breakdown most of the time when visiting Erie. I’m on Bun duty, and Monkey just hangs out with whomever is around. I’m not sure if this is a good thing, bad thing, or indifferent thing. It just kind of is. But, for example, Soul Sista (SS) helped Monkey make a puppet while I handled Bun — or manhandled her, depending on how you look at it [childhandled? womanhandled? personhandled? Sorry. Grammatical/Politically-correct-phraseology tangent there]).

Sunday was Church (again, I go into the nursery with a misbehavin’ Bun; Monkey stays with Nonna & Pap-pap), brunch, bubbles and digging in dirt in the yard. When Bun passed out for her nap, we left her to Pap-pap and went to visit GG. Then back home to a newly awoken Bun and a scramble to get things together to visit Presque Isle, also known as The Beach.

I had (accidentally on purpose) forgotten my bathing suit, so I was on shore duty. I knew Monkey would go in the water with Pap-pap and/or Soul Sista (Nonna can’ t lift Monkey anymore — at least she shouldn’t and I’m not ratting her out to her chiropractor).

It was Bun’s first trip to a beach. Two steps onto Beach 11, she was bending down picking up handfuls of sand. She would let it run out of her hand. At first, she seemed a little thoughtful, a little puzzled. A little, “Whatever is this?” And then she got serious. In her swimmy diaper and nothing else, she set about to digging up the beach.

And then maybe she thought it would be quicker to just eat it. I am going to have to get that girl checked for pica, I’m telling you.

As fond as I am of Presque Isle, and as much as it’s been cleaned up since I was Bun’s age, the sand… well, the sand isn’t pristine, white (or even tan) beach sand. It’s a gritty, dusty mixture of dirt and finely ground rock. And Bun had it everywhere by the time we left. Including in her belly.

The kids were a little too tired for a smooth bedtime (especially as Monkey had overheard Nonna & SS ordering a “Rainbow Roll” and thought she just had to try that), but we got ’em down (after extensive sand removal procedures in the tub), and sat down to a late dinner of sushi. And beer. And then pretty much everyone passed out in front of the TV.

Sorry I didn’t get pictures, especially of the Sand Eater — forgot the camera. If Nonna sends me any, I’ll post them. But that gets you caught up to … well, two days ago. I’m a little behind. But laundry is coming along nicely!

Countdown to Burgh Mom’s dinner: Two days.

Now What?

Because the weather has been spectacular in the evenings, and because all this week I have somehow managed to feed my children and myself (hint: cook lots on the weekend) AND get the kitchen cleaned up before 6 p.m., we been taking long rambling walks around my neighborhood.

The primary benefit of these constitutionals has been that my kids pass out at bedtime. Bun sleeps straight through, meaning if she loses her binky in the middle of the night, she has been too exhausted to notice. Monkey is back to her room, with a night light, the door open, and a gate up, and she is so tired, I think she falls asleep before she can plan her escape.

Secondary benefits include exercise for me, and meeting new people, like the family down the street with two girls (7 and 5) and a 2-year-old boy.

Some evenings, we stroll up to the church and convent, where they have a prayer labyrinth (by most standards, a dinky one, but still). The kids race around it while I pace slowly, usually as of late, thinking of Gabriel.

Other times, we walk down the street that branches off of ours. Over the past few months, I’ve been meeting my neighbors (finally, after three years — I’m not good at meeting new people). The couple at the bottom of the hill has a dog that the kids like to pet. There are lots of kids around, ranging in age from Bun at 19 months to a couple of young teenagers. They all hang out, play in one yard or another. I have met some of the parents, and after their initial shyness (well, Bun’s has been ongoing; she is the youngest by almost a whole year) the girls usually join in the activity. (Bun will pretty much do anything Monkey does.)

One of the children is Monkey’s new friend whom I wrote about here. I’ll just call him 7. Two nights ago, 7 was grounded, so we didn’t get to see him, but last night he was allowed out, and his sister, Bun, Monkey, 7, and I walked up to what they referred to as “the maze”.

As we trailed back toward home, 7 wanted to know if he could come over and play. I said no as it was bath time for the girls. So we were saying goodbye where 7’s street and our street met.

You would have thought Monkey was going to be separated from 7 for years and years instead of a day or so. She lagged, she pouted, she sighed; she even walked with him a little way down his street. As we walked up the hill toward our house, she kept turning around and waving. “‘Bye, 7!” she would call forlornly.

Shoulders slumping, she followed Bun and me. Heaving a great sigh, she told me, “I miss him.” She told me this a couple of times. I assured her we would probably see 7 in the next day or two.

Then she announced, “Mommy, I love him!” in a voice throbbing with emotion. Like the emotion a 15-year-old has when she’s been told she can’t see her 20-year-old boyfriend. I wasn’t expecting to hear that voice until she was at least verging on puberty.

I have no clue as to how to deal with a lovesick 3-year-old.

I can’t wait until the phase where she thinks boys are disgusting creatures with cooties. She will go through that phase, right?

Or (I ask again), should I send DearDR for that gun?

Day Care Conundrum

When we moved to this suburb of Pittsburgh, I was a freelancer/work-at-home mom. Monkey was only nine months old.

In order to be able to work at home, I needed to find someplace to store her a couple of days a week. Friends in the area suggested Day Care Lady.

Two years later, and through a lot of different set-ups (part time, full time, one kid, two kids), DCL has been pretty flexible and always good to my kids. She works out of her home; she knows CPR and other life-saving techniques; she has a lot of toys, and also lets the kids play outside when the weather is nice.

DCL is not state-inspected; she gets paid in cash, so she doesn’t bother the IRS with what she is earning. Which, from us, is about $12,000 a year. Yeah, that much. And she’s got a bunch of other kids.

While I have nothing bad to say about DCL as a person or as a care-taker, I have started having some misgivings about having my children at her home. First of all, she has anywhere from six to ten kids on a daily basis (during the summers, a few more). If she were state-sanctioned, she would only be allowed to have six.

Second, the TV is on a lot.

Third, because DCL does it under the table, I cannot claim my daycare expenses as a tax write-off. This will particularly bothersome on this year’s taxes.

There are other lower-level things — gut-level, if you will. Just a feeling I get that my kids would do better in a more structured environment; DCL’s is quite a free-for-all. Some days my kids seems really over stimulated, and dealing with the aftermath of that at home is difficult. DCL says my children are angels at her house, and don’t give her any trouble, although she has mentioned having to yell at them for things (standing in front of the television, for example, or putting everything in her mouth [Bun]).

When DCL goes on vacation, we take the kids down the street to Ms. K. Similar set-up, only fewer kids. During the summer, Ms. K only has a total of six, if that. I noticed the weeks my children were there that they were much calmer when I picked them up. Also when I picked them up, they were usually all engaged in a specific activity (i.e. playing with blocks at the block table). The TV was on only once when I went to get them. On top of everything else, once they were back to DCL, Monkey would ask when they were going back to Ms. K’s. She declared she didn’t like DCL anymore.

Now, we think that some of Monkey’s problem with DCL is a general problem with authority, perfectly appropriate to the age. Even though she complains about going every day (according to DearDR), DCL says she doesn’t give her any trouble about being there, and she certainly doesn’t appear unhappy when I pick her up.

Talking things over with DearDR, we thought we would move Monkey and Bun down the street to Ms. K’s. The environment seemed to be better for them, based on my observations. We didn’t think it would be that big a deal.

Boy, were we wrong. DCL was furious with us. She felt we were being rude by asking Ms. K to watch the kids “behind my back”. She felt Ms. K was betraying their friendship by agreeing to watch our girls. She wanted to know what was wrong with her, and why we were unhappy.

After a very stressful weekend full of anger, regret, apprehension, and talking it over (and over and over), we decided to keep the girls at DCL’s … for now. Ms. K, when she saw the trouble the move was going to cause, utterly collapsed and reneged on her agreement to take the girls after we had talked to DCL. I am not happy, but I also had not intended to cause any hurt feelings (and feelings, believe me, were hurt).

We’ve another month (less!) to go this summer. Monkey is being enrolled in pre-school (two half days a week), and those days she goes to school, she will be ferried over to a closer daycare by people at the school. If I end up liking that daycare, I may move Bun there, too. Knowing that I have all this in my back pocket alleviates my current (albeit not very strong) misgivings about our current daycare arrangement.

What do the rest of you do? What do you think of my plan? Am I wimping out? I would like to emphasize that my children are in no danger, physically or emotionally, and to be honest, DCL loves my children. I think she was crushed to think that kids she loved were going to be leaving her for (in her view) no good reason.

Random Thoughts: Really Random

Bun had this again — or something like it, anyway. Her throat was covered in sores.

This type of virus is an enterovirus. Know what that means? Means it lives on poop.

Now I know that Bun puts a lot of stuff in her mouth, but I didn’t think much of it was covered in poop.

I suspect the joint baths will have to come to an end. See, Bun drinks any type and form of liquid she can get to her mouth, including bath water.

And Monkey, as a fairly new potty user and as a 3-year-old, isn’t the best at wiping the hind parts. I try to help her out, but — as per the age — she is pretty insistent at “doing it by myself”.

So, yeah, my evenings just got even more difficult! But it will be worth it if Bun never, ever gets another virus with throat ulcers.

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Bun said Monkey’s name, finally. I just about melted from the adorableness.

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Remember my brilliant solution to getting Monkey to sleep in her own bed?

It worked for less than two weeks, peeps. She’s back in my bed.

I need a Plan… D or E. I forget what I’m on.

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And because of how sick she was, Bun had the binky all the time for about five days. So now I’m re-weaning her off of daytime use. It sucks. If that girl sees a binky, she is miserable. Sigh.

Onward and upward I suppose. Although I’m not sure what that means in this context!

In Case You Were Wondering

In a direct contrast to my last post, this weekend was horrible.

DearDR was sick.

Bun was sick.

And we found evidence of mice in our kitchen.

DearDR simply has a cold, but still, you know what a sick husband is like. I give him a lot of credit for not bugging me, and just sleeping until 2 p.m. on Sunday. As much as I needed him to help with cleaning and disinfecting the kitchen, or taking care of Bun, or playing with the utterly non-diminished-energy-level Monkey, it was better that he was completely unconscious. It helped him and helped me, because I pretty gave into the inevitable, which was to come to terms with this fact:

I am one person, and I can only do so much.

Bun ran a fever from Friday all the way through Sunday. I had already decided I was going to take her to the doctor today. Along with the fever, she had decreased appetite, and couldn’t sleep very well. She was pretty listless.

To top it all off, she had a terrible case of mommy-clingitis. I could not remove that child from my lap.

As much as I wanted to play outside with Monkey and/or clean my invaded kitchen, I pretty much sat around with a hot toddler on my lap for long stretches throughout the weekend. A lot of which we also spent at my in-laws house because no one is allowed to eat in my kitchen until the critters are caught and/or all evidence of their being there is eradicated.

In light of the fact that Bun actually was not running a fever this morning, I pretended all was back to normal. I was late to work, because I did wait to talk to the pediatrician’s office. They said if the fever came back, I should have her seen.

By the time I got to my desk, DCL had called.

Bun’s temperature was 100.5, and she wouldn’t leave DCL’s lap. She has a 5:15 appointment this evening.

Here we go again. I’m tired.

Nice Day

Yesterday after dinner, we went to the park.

It’s not something we’ve done often — if ever.

And after the park, we went and got ice cream. 

And it was just a nice way to spend the evening. I don’t have a funny story to tell, or video or photos to share (next time).

We ran around the park, then got ice cream all over ourselves, then went home for bath, books, and bed.

I kept thinking how nice it had been, that time with my girls. Even after I spilled apple juice on the kitchen floor, and had to mop it, thereby leaving a large clean spot in the middle of my otherwise perfectly filthy floor. Even when I found a mouse turd in the silverware drawer, and had to empty everything into the dishwasher pronto. (I despise having to do extra housework in the evening.)

The pleasantness of our evening at the park and at Dairy Queen stuck with me.

I hope we do it again soon.