Tuesday, April 22, 2014

my life in plants

So, I have these plants. Not too many, maybe seven or eight, all of varying sizes, but nothing bigger than your average houseplant. A few are only a couple years old, some go back to college, and one is two generations older than me. None are too robust, nothing to marvel at in comparison to other magnificent plants, but they're sufficient. They do the job of adding a wee bit of greenery to our small home, and they fit in their places about the living areas quite nicely.

But I often forget about them. Some are up high, atop the large unit in the living room, another on the end of a large shelf over the couch. I know they're there, but when it comes time to do the weekend household chores, sometimes the act of watering them falls to the wayside. Their presence is taken for granted in this time, until one day I look up and realize that some of them are withering, dusty, and generally unattended. With some gentle cleaning and a healthy dose of water, they soon perk up a little, gradually getting back to their normal state.

When I neglect their care, it's not intentional, not by any means. It seems as if they've always been there, leading to the belief that they'll always continue to be there, of course. It simply becomes easy to assume that they're doing just fine without really taking the time to examine their state or maintain their wellness. Why I forget that they need regular, consistent care, I don't know, but I find that I'm getting to the revival point much too often than is good for them. I fear one of these times they'll pass the point of no return and even the revival process won't be enough.

I don't think they're there yet. Even the withering little guy up there is showing signs of perking up, little by little, this morning. Just as it goes in so many classic stories of overcoming adversity, the answer just might be love. Love, when caring for simple houseplants, like many other facets of life, isn't terribly complicated. Care and attention given with a kind spirit-- that's what is needed right now.

Lacking a green thumb, but possessing a hopeful heart,

Friday, April 11, 2014

friday's five... no, it's not an illusion

It's been too long, much too long. I guess you can say that I'm trying to get back into the groove, and in my attempt at trying to find little bits of happiness, I realized that I've stopped doing some things that I love... reading just for pleasure instead of only books for review, spending time outdoors, and shouting my love for picture books from my bloggy platform. Though Pudge, Red, and I are now primarily reading chapter books and middle grade fiction together, I'm fortunate enough to spend my days with younger children who will excitedly sit through readings of picture book after picture book. Seeing three kids lined up on the couch with a stack of books a foot high next to them is a seriously happy sight. I've been happy to gauge their reactions to some of my favorites, as well as some new ones that we've tried out together. 

1. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems -- You had to expect this to show up here at some point. As soon as I heard this was in the works and it was available for pre-order on Amazon, the order was placed. There are not many books that I will purchase sight unseen, but anything Willems creates is exempt from that practice, and there's something to be said about having a complete set. :) Pigeon's new adventure has been much loved in the last week that we've read it, and even the 13 year old stuck around to listen to it, cracking up as much as the rest of us. (Remember, Pigeon was one of his favorite literary pals, more than 10 years ago when he made his debut!) This has been particularly enjoyed by one of my toddler friends, who has come to learn many of the words already. And the many-squared two-page spread? Damn if that is not a boatload of fun to read aloud. You did it again, Mo, kudos to you.

2. I Spy in the Sky by Edward Gibbs -- Spring is in the air, and the kids and I are hearing the chatter in the trees of the various types of birds returning to their spring and summer homes. What better time to pull out some books about birds? The birds featured in this cool "who's hiding behind the circle?" are definitely more extraordinary than the robins and starlings we spy at the playground, and the kids have loved peeking through the hole on each page to discover the next new feathered friend. We've checked out more of Gibbs' other books in this format, and they're all fun in that "surprise" way, with colorful illustrations featuring swirly, sketchy lines that I find quite appealing. Fun stuff!

3. How to Lose a Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon -- Okay, my gushing review of this terribly fun new picture book should be up any day now, but I couldn't help but include it in this week's round-up. I have to admit that I haven't read it with any of my kids yet, but I've read it a couple times now on my own, and there's just so much to love. This is the type of book that makes me wish I had a group of four year olds at the ready for a large group story time experience! Fun and silly, with a unique tale to spread a message of friendship, this is simply a delightful book. Any book has to be with an opening line like this: "Everyone knows that once a lemur takes a liking to you, there is not much that can be done about it." Please, please, go find this book and read it to the nearest child.

4. A Mammoth in the Fridge by Michaël Escoffier and illustrated by Matthieu Maudet --When I saw this on the library shelf weeks ago, I was first drawn by the beautiful blue on the cover, and then the combination of the title and the hilarious illustration completely won me over. What I never could have predicted was how beloved this book would become by my three-year old friend. Every day that she came over while we had this book checked out, we read it at least twice, sometimes more. And then, she would read it to herself again after that. I don't think I could tell you exactly what the appeal was for her with this book-- maybe it was the silly premise, an outrageously large, mysterious animal from the past hiding in a refrigerator. The little twist at the end made me smile every single time I read it, so that didn't hurt either.

5. How to Wash a Wooly Mammoth by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by Kate Hindley -- When the previous mammoth-themed book was finally due back at the library after I'd exhausted all available renewals, I couldn't believe my luck as I perused the "new releases" shelf and saw this title. Seriously, is there some mammoth-revival going on right now? I couldn't wait to show the mammoth-loving little one in my life, and when she pulled it off the shelf on her next visit, her wide eyes said it all. We've read this one a couple times this week, and it's just as absurdly silly as the other, coming in a little longer and more complex. The three year old says she loves both the books just the same amount, so there's apparently never too much mammoth in our reading.

Ahhhh, that felt good. Extolling the virtues of children's literature is always a joyful thing.

Enjoying picture books as much as ever,

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

my winter of discontent

I need spring to come. It's a sentiment being shared by folks all around the country right about now, so I know I'm not alone, but I need more than just the feeling of warm air on my bare arms or the sounds of chirping birds up in the trees. I need the emotional and psychological feeling of renewal. A new start. A wiping away of the grime of a dark winter and the big reveal of a clean, fresh new beginning.

It's been tough. Those are words that I say and type more often than I'd like. I'm not proud of myself lately, for I haven't handled my particular parenting and marriage challenges in the manner in which I should or with the grace I wish I possessed. Anger has been at the core of so much lately, and I'm just damn tired of it all. I'm tired of yelling, I'm tired of breaking up bickering matches over insignificant things, I'm tired of feeling frustrated by my every day experiences.

I went away this past weekend with a group of nine other women, and in the days leading up to the trip, I joked with my friends that I would likely owe them all a copay for therapy sessions before the weekend was complete. I didn't want to be that pathetic 8th-grade girl crying on the bathroom floor during the spring dance, but it was inevitable. I knew I wasn't feeling great, but I don't think I realized my own level of fragility. The support I received was indescribable, and I felt surrounded by love at a time when I haven't felt terribly lovable, or even very worthy of love.

I walked away from the weekend with messages ringing in my ears, and I've tried to keep listening to them the last couple days. I'm trying, really. I want to let go of the frustration and anger that seems to be so tightly gripping me, but it is not an easy task. I am not facing the easiest parenting experience out there, and as much as I love my child, it is getting increasingly difficult to enjoy being with him, and that statement alone makes me ashamed, a failure of a parent. This is a place I've been before- stuck in a stage or experience that feels like it will last forever, the fear of that possibility being all I can see.

We went for a low-key hike over the weekend, a walk through a state park that I adore. Early on the path is a rocky area overlooking some little waterfalls. I've sat on those rocks before and absorbed the warmth of the sunlight while enjoying the view. This time, I sat, closed my eyes, and tried to lose myself in the rushing, roaring sound. A natural static of sorts, just something to drown out everything else for a few minutes. With sunglasses in place, I looked like I was just staring out across the water. Apparently, I looked peaceful, enough so that a friend snapped a picture, but was far enough away to not see the tears. There was beauty in that moment, tears and all, and I want to find a space closer to home that can provide a similar feeling.

There are a few "actionable" steps to take right now. Yes, I think there is more going on here than straightforward parenting-a-teen woes. Changes can be made across several areas of personal and family life that would have to bring about at least moments of peace. Nothing will be easy, or even guaranteed to result in anything long-lastingly positive. But when the sun finally begins to shine and the spring air warms, I need to feel like I'm trying to move in a productive direction, externally and internally, that my family as a whole is doing what we all can to bring some more peace into our lives.

We all have our 'thing,' and this little online world is mine. It's been neglected because of constraints on my time, but mostly because of constraints on my positive energy. I want to be able to write with abandon about the happy moments with my family, my life, and it's a cyclical thing-- the more I write, the happier I am; the happier I am, the more I want to write. Please, spring, do your thing, work your magic. It's needed in so many ways.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

a chalkboard for every season

About a year ago, Hubby did some renovations in our kitchen, and with the have-to job came a more fun addition to our kitchen. The back wall of our small, eat-in kitchen was transformed into a framed, magnetic chalkboard that could hold our weekly calendar on one side and have open space for drawing, schoolwork, and the like.

I quickly learned a few things:
  • there is no such thing as dustless chalk, regardless of package labeling
  • children like to scribble with no real purpose, leading to multitudes of previously mentioned dust
  • magnet paint makes tiny bumps on the wall, leading to a chalkboard that never really gets all the way clean
  • I have OCD-like tendencies
Okay, that last one wasn't shocking headline news, obviously, but it has affected the way I view the chalkboard, and I've made some attempts to put a 'theme' of sorts to it at times to encourage the kids to think about something before drawing or writing. A few of these have been more successful than others, and it's become a fun family game to add something and wait to see how long until someone else notices it.

Back in June, Hubby and I took over the board before a weekend trip away, turning it into a set of behavioral instructions... with a humorous twist, of course. All of the "rules" there were valid, even if some were more lighthearted than others.
I'm not sure if Corny the fish ate that weekend, but I am positive that they remembered to eat ice cream.

In the fall, with the spirit of gratitude in the air, the board collected weeks' worth of thankful notes and drawings, even more after this snapshot was taken. I liked that this particular theme made the people of this house be thoughtful about how fortunate we are, since it's so easy to fall into the "I wish we had..." trap. There was more fun to be had with this one, too, since we are who we are.
My faves are Red's rebus of "trees" and Pudge's "cupyouder." Say it out loud and you'll break the kindergarten code.

Right now, our kitchen board is only a few days into its newest theme... one which is likely relatable to most folks across the continental U.S. Even for us snow- and winter-lovers, this particular season has pretty much gone on long enough, and we're anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring. This time around, Red tried her hand again at a rebus, while Pudge went for an underground, nature-themed drawing. My biggest wish is down on the lower left-hand corner, while Hubby was inspired by his need to bring a hair dryer outside not once, but TWICE, this week to be able to open our outdoor closet.
There is still much more available space... and many, many more warm weather wishes.

We may not be the Willems family with their cool dinner doodles and delightful dining room chalkboard drawings, but we are having fun!

Here's to spring,

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

one kiss leads to twenty years

Reminiscing has been the word of the day today, for when the calendar turns over to March every year, I get a little wistful for my college years. Back in March 1994, I was feeling like a seasoned college student with a semester and a half under my belt. After feeling like an outsider for most of my high school years, suddenly in college I had an opportunity to make a fresh start in a new place surrounded by new people. I think I stayed true to who I really was inside, at least as much as eighteen year olds can, since it's still a time of such intense development. But I did find it a little easier to fit in once I got to college. Maybe it was the built-in new BFF in the form of a super cool and slightly wacky roommate (and I do think she'd still to this day appreciate that description!), combined with the sleep-over vibe that seemed ever-present in those first months living away from home.

Maybe it had a little to do with the alcohol, too, if we're being completely honest. Give me and my roommate a six-pack of Zima and we were down for two wildly fun weekends in a row, baby.

That freshman year, I broke out of the shell I had been in during high school. Suddenly, I felt what it was like to have boys interested. In me! I "dated" a bit (as in, hung out with a couple guys), made some decisions that I'm proud of in hindsight and others that still make me cringe all these years later, and I tried my best to do well in my classes. I thought I got my heart broken a couple times, though now I look back and wonder how everything happened so quickly in what seems like such a short period of time now. The first six months of my college experience seems like a blur, a fuzzy time of "before."

On March 4, 1994, I went to a friend's room for a birthday celebration in the neighboring dorm. I guess our class had a disproportionate amount of girls to guys, so the previously all-male, three-story dorm switched to accommodating one floor of girls that year. Living right next door in the mirror-image, all-female dorm, I had already befriended a couple folks of both genders in this particular dorm, so I wasn't a stranger to its residents since I hung out there a lot. Somehow, and I know this will be shocking since we were all just eighteen and nineteen year old freshman, this party had a fair supply of alcohol. I had recently graduated from Zima to mixed drinks, and while the details aren't crystal clear, I do recall consuming a fair share of root beer Schnapps mixed with something or other (that really wasn't the point) that evening. At some point later into the evening, I remember sitting on the birthday girl's bed, watching something on the television across the way... I feel like it was Vh1... and I remember remarking that I was cold. It was the beginning of March in western New York, after all.

And suddenly, there he was. That tall guy with the funny glasses, whose circle of friends intersected with my circle of friends a bit, even though we hadn't talked a whole lot before. We had some snowy time flirtations a few weeks prior during a group snowball fight when he picked me up and playfully tossed me in the snow. When I commented that I was cold that night, he immediately reached over to grab a blanket and wrapped it around my shoulders. How could I not kiss him?

Perhaps I was more emboldened than usual thanks to my pal Schnapps, but I like to think it was just a catalyst for what was supposed to happen anyway. That first kiss kicked a relationship into gear, and it was only a short time before I was telling my mother, my trusty confidante, that I was in love. For real. In a way that was different than the very few times I had thought it before. Love was more than just a word that encompassed my every thought. It was a palpable entity floating around me, affecting all my senses, making me feel lighter than air, but also bringing a tenuousness as if I was walking on thin ice all the time. "What if?" was a question that nagged at the back of my brain so often. What if he stops liking me? What if someone else catches his eye? What if he really, truly gets to know me and finds me unacceptable? What if I lose him?

I can tell you now, twenty years later, that many bumps, both big and small, were ahead of us on our path. When I farted in front of him that first time, and pretended as if I had already fallen asleep, made more believable because of my bout with the flu that had prompted him to bring over soup from the dining hall and hang out in my room watching TV. Little bump- he just chuckled and kept his arm around me. Or, when he went to brush a speck off my chin that Fourth of July afternoon, lying together on my family's blanket listening to some musical act on the community park stage, only for us both to realize that he had indeed discovered my very first chin hair. A horror at the time turned out to be just another small, yet comical, bump. The bigger bumps were to come later, and though some of them morphed into larger hills-- or even felt like mountains at the time-- we made it over and through each and every time.

Today, I spent a good part of the afternoon looking at photo albums and sorting through the first three years of our relationship in the form of trinkets, cards, and letters. I couldn't stop myself from periodically taking to Facebook to share my thoughts in the moment-- thoughts about love in a time before cell phones, texting, and immediate access to one another, thoughts about hormone-fueled love notes that have to be hidden from young eyes, and thoughts about how my teenage attempts at love-themed poetry should never see the light of day.

I'd be lying if I said today's trip down memory lane wasn't an overwhelmingly emotional experience. My feelings swirled all over the place as I read Hubby's letters, as they transported me to a time when everything in our communications was so, so intense. Declarations of love were strongly worded and repeated again and again because they were so novel, and they couldn't be contained. Separations during the summer prompted actual pain, and the one year that we spent apart inspired a flurry of letters filled with longing.

I cried today, at the surface because the love was so evident, and the fact that we were still just teenagers didn't dampen it all. But I also cried because I think back to the uncertainty that I lived with, that worry that our relationship would somehow disappear, and I feel sad that I didn't revel in the moment enough back then. Those words on those pages were heartfelt and real, and yet I still felt insecure, when I was in actuality living in the glory days of new love! Gah! If only I could go back in time and inhabit my old body for a week or two... armed with the knowledge of what was to come, both good and bad... I would love to be able to relive some of those times and simply live in the moment.

And yes, it would be disingenuous of me not to admit that some of those tears were of the more pitiful variety, the how-the-hell-did-we-get-this-old-in-the-blink-of-an-eye kind. The type that insinuate that the best years of your life are behind you, when you see pictures of yourself at seemingly half the width of your current self, with smooth skin free of the lines brought on by three children, a mortgage, and a bazillion laughs. The tears that make you feel bad for feeling bad about yourself, knowing that there is still so much to come, but not knowing what it will encompass.

Twenty years is a long time, especially considering the fact that we had a few outspoken people in our lives at the time who were not quiet about their predictions for the longevity of our relationship. In that time, we've learned that both 'friends' and 'family' are fluid terms... we've lasted in spite of it all.

Marriage is hard, a lot harder than twenty-years-ago-me could have imagined. Yes, the fervor of our declarations of love has lessened, even as the depth of our love for each other has grown immeasurably. Twenty years ago, I fell in love with this boy-on-his-way-to-becoming-a-man for the kindness he showed me, the laughs he brought out of me, and the affection he showered upon me. Today, I love him for making the kids' lunches, braving the horror that is Costco on a weekend to restock our milk and bread, and still looking at me with the twinkle of love in his eyes, even when the sight he's looking upon has a wildly askew hairdo and bulges all over that were never in the plan twenty years ago. He still makes me laugh, and he still shows me kindness and affection, but real life is so much more mundane than long ago, and we have learned to find the love in the midst of that banality.

1994 (just a month before that chin hair incident) and 2014 (on a much appreciated night out)

Looking forward to many more,

Monday, March 03, 2014

the winter we'd been hoping for

The last couple of months have witnessed a whole lot of weather talk all over the social media world. Here on the east coast, we've had a more winter-like winter than in recent years, and in the mid-Atlantic area, it doesn't take much volume of snow for everything to shut down. Very rarely have folks been blasé about the weather in their Facebook statuses or succinct tweets. Oh, no. There are two clear camps-- the lovers and the haters. I imagine that many factors go into people's opinions about a snowier winter, most especially, work commitments and child care needs, and the challenges that snow presents to folks who don't have the option to simply drop everything and stay home with the kids when schools delay or close.

I'm thankful to be in a position this year that is able to immediately accommodate school closures, though if I don't work, I don't get paid either, so this winter has been financially challenging. Even so, I can't help but firmly plant myself in the "lovers" camp when it comes to the snowy scenery. Maybe it's the New Englander in me, who, even after more than half a lifetime away, still dreams of White Christmases, snowmen on lawns, and warm fires on cold evenings.

Back in early December, it only took a slight dusting to inspire everyone to don multiple layers and frolic outside. The excitement level was so high, since we hadn't seen real snow in a long, long while.
Snow or no snow, Pudge is usually *that* excited.

In early January, a nighttime snowfall was enchanting, covering the still-twinkling holiday lights and maintaining the peace that seems to come with Christmas and New Year's. Hubby and I both found ourselves going out into the night to capture a snowy moment on film, or to try to catch a snowflake only to watch it dissolve from a hand's heat.
Twinkle, twinkle, candy canes...
Hubby's a middle-of-the-road shot.

Mid-January brought a doozy, at least by our mid-Atlantic standards. What was supposed to be a four-day weekend with a teacher development day and Presidents' Day as conveniently timed bookends, turned into a six-day mini-vacation thanks to Mother Nature. Somehow, we managed to get zero photos of our snowy fun over the course of that time, but trust me when I say that everyone was stoked to have had more time at home, even if the snowfall itself wasn't terribly significant. Well, as much as I love the slower pace of our bonus days at home (no alarm clock = happy mama), many days of constant companionship begins to grate at some point. But in the end, we baked cookies and bread, and made lasagna, and generally ate like gluttons. That part was not terrible at all.
Then came the February storm that provided another five-day weekend, a Valentine's Day to remember. That one marked the biggest accumulation we'd seen in years, hence it was worthy of its own blog post already. Suffice it to say that all three kids were happy to have actual big piles of snow to play in and sled on, though only 4/5 of us got to enjoy it, since someone was stuck working inside on a huge deadlined project... a big downside to being the main breadwinner. The younger two spent the most time outside during the days following the snowfall, and it was a lot quieter in the house as a result.
Happy, snowy people holding snow.

Thankfully, that snowstorm lasted long enough for a delayed opening on the sixth day since we wrapped up our mini-vacation with the plague, and an extra morning of staying in bed was absolutely necessary. I figured at the end of that snowy experience, it was time to pack up the shovels and snowsuits and say see ya later to Old Man Winter.

Oh no, we weren't done yet. Today saw yet another snow globe scene outside our windows.

Though it didn't live up to the forecasters' predictions, the lion of a storm that welcomed in March still gave us measurable snow once more. We actually didn't break out the ruler this time around, but a couple inches was enough for another Monday snow day that saw the kids bundling up and heading out. I have to admit... I began to lose my desire to join them on this one. I was content to stay inside doing housewifely jobs along with also sitting on my butt on the couch with a blanket and a book. The incessant bickering at one point in the afternoon made me lose my mind, and JAM and I still tried to get a good chunk of one day's lesson in, as well. I waited until almost 6 pm to open a bottle of wine, so at least there's that. It can be easier to remember the good moments once the day has come to an end, that's for sure.
Apparently we do snow angels face first now.
Sorry, kids, you'll have to make do with the tiny slope in our yard for today's "sledding" since Mommy's not leaving the house.
When they weren't bickering, they were inhabiting the mini-tent-village that took over the living room.
And when the going got tough, the Mom authorized Skylanders-time.
Hubby took a break from work to do some manly duties since the temps were dipping low today. As is our wood supply... that sucker was FULL TO THE TOP at the beginning of winter...

And here we are. March 3rd. A lawn fuzzy with snow. A nearly-depleted wood supply. A crew of children who desperately need to hop on their bicycles and ride for an hour. A work-at-home-dad who would love for a home environment free of sniping children. A winter-loving, no-school-today-cheering, homebody-at-heart mama who finds herself actually longing for a spring breeze and a morning spent outside with fewer than three layers on.

I do believe that I am officially calling it.
You've twisted my arm hard enough, Winter.

Are we done yet?


Monday, February 24, 2014

a plague o' both our houses!

Last weekend, as most, we spent a night hanging out with our good pals and their children, the crew we consider our non-blood-related family. We ate take-out, let the kids play, chatted, drank, and introduced JAM to a show beloved by the crew. (More on that later... it might be worthy of its own post.) What we didn't realize was also happening that night was the sharing of germs that would knock out 7/10 of us about 24 hours later. It appears that we also unknowingly gravely wounded some sidekick who cursed us on his way out of this world.

Pick the Mercutio you remember best.
When last I blogged, Pudge and JAM had succumbed to the Stomach Virus from Hades, and I had a vague feeling of impending woe in the intestinal region. Pudge had started overnight Sunday into Monday, and JAM was taken down by mid-Monday. At the same time, our friends had one of their kids on the same path, too... along with both of them. Thankfully, they have a set of grandparents living a couple towns over, and they rose to the occasion to take care of the two unaffected younger kids. I joked to JAM that if his dad and I both got sick, too, our family was screwed. We have no local family to come over and help out, and I wouldn't ask even the best of friends to come into a disease-ridden house to care for the kids. It would be every man/woman/child for himself, I said, but hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

It came to that. Oh yes, it got ugly.

By Monday night, both Hubby and I weren't well, and it only got worse overnight. He was so cold and miserable that he slept on our uncomfortable couch just so he could stay by the wood stove and its blazing fire. You could say that I "slept" in our bed, but I was only horizontal in that space for short increments in between my major stays in the loo. A terrible night overall. The only saving grace was that a minor snowstorm was expected to blow in overnight, and I prayed with all my atheist might that I would awaken to a delayed school opening the next day. I checked my phone in the 4 o'clock hour to find nothing, but by 5:30 AM, it was confirmed! I could stay in bed for a few extra hours! Damn good thing, too, for there was no way I could move out from under the covers with my fever and a rough case of the shakes. The kids were most definitely on their own.

All those Sunday mornings spent lounging in bed until mid- to late-morning came in handy, because the kids already knew how to take care of their morning business. Pudge apparently was far down the road to recovery, even though he had been running a fever of 103 just the night before. Red was still holding strong as the sole escapee from the plague, and they both grabbed some breakfast that morning on their own. Since JAM was still knocked out in his bed, while Hubby and I dozed in our respective places from the night before, they took their cereal and bananas up to Red's bedroom and read books while they ate quietly. Can you say freaking awesome children?

By later morning, Hubby and I were able to at least get mobile enough to see that Red could get out to the bus stop for the delayed start. She was tasked with making her own lunch (which she did beautifully, though I added a couple extra items to her sparse spread), and then she went out into the world to likely spread our germs as a strong-systemed-carrier. But, it was better than her staying in the hospital ward for another day, and after that long weekend of exposure and infestation, anyone who could get out, needed to. Pudge had one extra just-to-be-sure day at home, which involved him being perfectly healthy, full of energy, and stuck inside with three sickies. Let's just say that any normal daily electronics limits were forgotten on a count of I was too damn sick to care anymore.

I'm happy to say that from the view of a week later, we are all back to our fully healthy selves and no worse for the wear. (Strike that, I am most definitely worse for the wear. I Googled things I never want to read again...) Our friends have all recovered as well, thankfully, though I'm willing to bet that when we next hang out again, some of us may be wearing protective masks. Yes, it was absolutely a period of a few days of intestinal torture, but there was a silver lining to that disgusting, virus-riddled cloud.

I didn't puke. Not once. There were other bad things-- very, very bad things-- but I did not have to sob into the toilet, crying for my mommy. At least there was that.

Happy to be on the other side of the Virus of 2014,