Cart Smash, and other reasons to take a second adult shopping

I decided to tempt fate the other day.  Bad idea.

It started out fine.  I bravely took Wildling and Mellow to the botanical gardens, and we had one of our best days ever.  Both girls behaved beautifully.  Wildling showed Mellow around the butterfly exhibit: “Look, there’s a butterfly right there, do you see it Mellow?  And there’s another, look! And there’s one on your shirt, but it’s not real.”  They loved the train exhibit.  They enjoyed walking around and looking at plants.

At one point, we saw a father with a two-year-old boy who was having a complete meltdown.  I tried to give him a “I-know- what-you’re-going-through-and-I-empathize-with-you” look, but I think it was misinterpreted, because the look he gave me pretty much said “Go away lady.  Take your perfectly calm and compliant kids out of here and show off somewhere else.”

After the botanical gardens, I was like “Hey world, check me out! I win at motherhood! I can do anything!” because obviously, I forgot how my kids behave on every other occasion ever.  So that’s when I made a stupid mistake.  I decided to stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home.

There are five grocery stores within a couple of miles of our house.  We go to all of them for different things, and on this particular day I could have stopped at any one of them.  But I made the wrong choice.  Here’s what sets Trader Joe’s apart from all other grocery stores: They have child-sized carts.  Yes, I took two children, by myself, to a store with child-sized grocery carts.  I realized my mistake in the parking lot, but by then it was too late.

Both girls ran for the kiddie carts as soon as we got inside.  There were two silver ones and two red ones, and of course Wildling had to have a red one, which meant moving the silver ones out of the way, but as soon as she moved the first silver one Mellow grabbed the second one, and that made both girls shriek, Wildling because the cart was in her way, and Mellow because she thought her big sister was trying to take it from her.

Once the color of the carts issue was resolved, Mellow took off with hers and I was narrowly able to stop her from crashing into a giant display of glass jars of coconut oil.  Fortunately, I am slightly faster than a toddler and managed to grab the cart and steer it away, so I didn’t have to empty her college fund to buy a hundred broken jars and a mess of oil.  Of course, as soon as I touched her cart she thought I was taking it away, so she screamed very very loudly to alert security that a cart thief was in the vicinity.

I thought I’d be clever and avoid some competitive issues by putting an equal number of items in each cart, but that didn’t work.  Mellow only wanted two items in hers, so everything I added after that magic number, she had to remove and try to put in Wildling’s, but Wildling is too picky to allow that.  Wildling only wanted things she liked in her cart, so it couldn’t contain much more than a bag of apples and some cheese.

Then both girls decided that while walking they should drop to their knees and walk like that, which of course is slower and less coordinated and gets in everyone else’s way.

And it got worse from there.  Once I got them walking like upright humanoids, Wildling suddenly shouted “Hey Mellow! Let’s play Cart Smash!” and proceeded to do so.  Cart Smash, if you need an explanation, means smashing your cart into your little sister’s cart as hard as you can, possibly knocking her over, and also possibly trying to propel her backwards into that damn display of coconut oil.

So I put a stop to Cart Smash, kind of got both kids to the cash register (walking on their knees most of the way) and, while holding Mellow and attempting to pay, she emptied all the cards out of my wallet.

Fun times.  I should have known better than to press my luck.

Will’s Stones

Last night, I was planning on writing a post about the truth behind that saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’ve been feeling that a lot lately, because I’ve been dependent on others to help me with the kids, while I’ve been taking care of Will.  But then I got distracted and decided to do some de-cluttering while watching old episodes of Project Runway (clearly, we party hard here).  Meanwhile, Will decided that since the computer was available, he’d hijack my wordpress account.  I’m flattered and humbled that he thinks so well of me.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for both of us.  First, there was the terrible plague that struck down the kids and me.  Will took care of us through that.  Then, last Thursday, it was Will’s turn to need help.  I was out with Mellow and saw I had two missed calls from him.  I did not check my voicemail, and I’m glad of that, because had I listened to his messages, I probably would have driven straight to a funeral parlor and asked them about their rates and availability.  Instead, I called him, and I have never, in the nearly fifteen years that I have known him, heard him in so much pain.  He was on his way to Urgent Care, and needed me to meet him there.

I made it soon after he did, and the receptionist, when I told her I was there for my husband, shook her head in sympathy and said “That poor man.  He’s in so much pain.”  And he was. When I went back to see him he was shaking and writhing and could barely talk.

This has changed my opinion on kidney stones.  I previously thought of them as something uncomfortable and irritating.  I never realized that they could reduce a grown adult into a quivering mass of jelly.  I have suffered from (TMI alert) incapacitating menstrual cycles, plus I was in labor for fifty-six (yes, I had to spell it out because that number is so big) long hours with Wildling.  But I have never known pain like Will was experiencing.

They sent him home with a prescription for Percoset and the hopes that he would pass the stone.  I then spent several hours driving around town like a junkie trying to fill that damn prescription.  Apparently, CVS, which is the company our insurance requires us to use, has a policy that does not allow pharmacists to give out information about controlled substances over the phone.  Therefore, when you go to one and they are out of percoset, they can’t tell you where to go and they can’t call anywhere to find out if there is any available.  The third CVS assured me they’d have some ‘some time next week,’ and couldn’t answer when I asked how that helped my husband’s kidney stone now.  The fourth CVS, the one 45 minutes from my house, did have percoset, and it took them an hour and a half to transfer fifteen pills into a bottle with Will’s name on it.  Not a good day for Will.

So that was Thursday.  Friday, Will was feeling pretty good, so we decided to have a horrible crying filled day at an art festival.  And that night things took a turn for the worse.  Will spent the weekend suffering and sometimes vomiting from the pain.  Monday morning, we called his mom, Kathy, and asked her to watch Mellow while we went to the emergency room.  We spent the day there, while they gave him morphine and a CT scan and determined that the pain was definitely from a kidney stone – specifically a 6mm monstrosity (the scan also revealed two time-bombs in his other kidney – those are going to be fun).

And that was our 8th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated eight years of marriage together in the emergency room, while Will suffered and I read books and talked to doctors and called people to let them know what was going on.  I did take the time to kindly remind him that we had written our own wedding vows, and the whole ‘in sickness and in health’ thing was not included, so technically, I was not obligated to sit there with him.

He overnighted in the hospital, and late Tuesday afternoon had a minor surgery to place a stent.  In two week, he goes back and they will break the stone up with a laser and get it out.  Fun, right? This is the kind of thing that people used to die of, back in the days before modern medicine and fancy lasers.

My poor Will.  At least the stent has taken the pain and most of the discomfort away.  And sometime next week, we’re going to get to go out and have a proper anniversary dinner that does not consist of hospital cafeteria food.

On the importance of logging out of your blog editor

Hello! This is Will. My wife loves writing this blog, and I love reading it. Mostly I laugh, because she’s hilarious… she has a wonderfully ascerbic, wry sense of humor. It was one of the first things that attracted me to her, in fact. Sometimes I cry, because she is also keenly observant and writes about tiny, wonderful, tender, heart-wrenching little details that I am ashamed to have missed.

I also love learning more about her. Yes, we’ve been married for a bit, but there are facets of her that I continue to discover, much to my delight. I’m not going to extol her many virtues here, as anyone could figure a number of those out by reading the blog. Likewise, I’ll not go into her few flaws… they’re really just strengths gone a bit over-board, which is another thing I find fascinating about her.

I will note that the fact that her many strengths and few flaws are near-perfect complements to mine are what makes us such a good pair. OK, given her aforementioned arsenal of awesomeness, that makes me sound a bit under-armed, and I’m OK with that perception: I am often in awe of her, so that literally means she is awesome.

The point of my post, however, is to emphasize that unless you want your loved ones writing fantastically complimentary (but true) things on your blog about you, you should really log out.

Oh, and happy anniversary! I love you!

Aspirations VS Actuality, Art Fair Edition

Sometimes Will and I have foolishly high aspirations.  Today, there was an art festival in a nearby town, and we took the girls.

Here’s how we thought/hoped it would go:

We arrive at the art festival.  We look at booths of beautiful art.  We make sure the girls do not grab and break anything.  The girls enjoy looking at things. The artists comment on how adorable and well behaved our children are.  I buy kettle corn, and we sit in the shade and enjoy it.  Mellow gets tired, and naps in her stroller.  We buy delicious food from some vendors, and Wildling eats what she ordered without complaining.  After a fun day of looking at art (and maybe buying something for the garden?) we drive home.  It is an hour drive, and the kids nap peacefully on the way home.  What a lovely day!

Here’s how it actually went:

We arrive at the art festival.  Mellow does not want to ride in her stroller.  Wildling does want to ride in Mellow’s stroller, but then she straps herself in, can’t unstrap herself, and freaks out.  Mellow takes off running in every direction, and then repeatedly sits down in the middle of the road, tries to remove her shoe, and cries.  I buy kettle corn.  Mellow licks a few pieces then gives them to Wildling.  Wildling cries because we sit in the shade to eat and she wants to sit directly on top of Will and he doesn’t immediately let her, plus he briefly moves the kettlecorn to a place she doesn’t want it.

Mellow cries and cries and nurses and cries.  At naptime, after she nurses to sleep on me, I attempt to put her into the stroller and she immediately becomes a rabid contortionist eel.  After a mighty struggle, I finally manage to strap her down.  Wildling and I go to look at art while Will walks the screaming stroller baby around in the desperate hope that the movement of the stroller will lull her to sleep.  Fifteen minutes later, after getting some unhelpful and unsolicited comments from nosy people who think they know our daughter better than we do, he gives up and takes her out.  Meanwhile, I buy Wildling an overpriced strawberry lemonade to share.  It has two straws.  Mellow touches both straws, leading to a complete Wildling breakdown because ‘She’s always going to drink it all and she’s never going to share.’  Will manages to calm her down and talks her into walking the two steps back to Mellow to share the lemonade, but … there is a leashed dog sleeping two feet away, which, of course, leads to another meltdown. Because there is a dog, right there!!!!

Lunchtime.  Wildling wants a quesadilla.  Will offers part of it to Mellow (without asking! Wildling cries!), and then when Mellow rejects it, puts it back on Wildling’s plate.  BUT SHE DOES NOT WANT IT THERE! Cue meltdown.  Will tries to calm her down…but sets his gyro on top of Wildling’s plate! Cue meltdown again.  Wildling finally finishes most of her meal.  I had promised her soft serve ice cream, so I still buy it for her.  I tell her she has to share with Mellow.  She agrees to do so…but Mellow touches the cone! Cue meltdown.

Now the girls share ice cream, and numerous people stop by to tell us it’s adorable and we needed to take a picture.  But Mellow is crushing the cone in her hand and every time she is made to give it back to Wildling (‘She’s never gonna let me have a turn! Never!‘), she collapses in a screaming heap of misery.  Meanwhile, Wildling is crying because some ice cream dripped on her.  Wildling needs an emergency wardrobe change.  She decides she is finished with ice cream.  Mellow continues eating, but the cone has been destroyed on one side, so Mellow’s hands are covered in ice cream, and she DOES NOT LIKE IT! Now there’s yet another Mellow meltdown.

It is hot, we are tired.  Wildling is riding in the stroller, because Mellow won’t.  Mellow wants to walk, but she doesn’t really want to, she wants to cry and stop and take her shoes off and walk back the way we came.  Will ends up carrying her.  She is exhausted and cries herself to sleep.  We find the car and go home.  Mellow sleeps (finally, hours after naptime, so bedtime is going to be rough) and Wildling spends the car ride making plans for how she will spend the car ride on an upcoming mini-vacation.

A Few Thoughts on Shots

I try to stay out of the whole vaccine debate, because, quite honestly, I can’t understand why it’s a debate at all.  If your kids are able to be vaccinated, then they should be.  That’s it.  No child should have to die of a preventable illness, and really, no child should have to suffer through a preventable illness.  When I find out that people I know have refused vaccinations for their children, I lose respect for them.  I realize that some children are medically unable to be vaccinated due to allergies, an immuno-compromised state, or previous bad reactions.  I am not addressing those parents, because those parents do not have a choice in the matter.

A few years ago, when Wildling was a baby, I was at one of Will’s work events, and one of his colleagues made her way over to me.  “Melinda!” She announced, sitting down dramatically.  “Did you know that there are some parents who refuse to vaccinate their children? Have you ever heard of such a thing?”  She was about to become a mother herself, and had, apparently for the first time, come across some anti-vaxxers.  I told her that not only had I heard of that, but I met some of them, and she was horrified.  “In my country, women beg for vaccines for their children.  We still have these diseases! What is wrong with people?”  She, a medical doctor from South America, was astounded at the callous disregard that some American parents have for science and medicine.

I don’t blame her.  I was surprised myself when I first heard that people could and would choose not to vaccinate.  I think it took me less than thirty seconds of online research to see that people cited fear of autism, and another minute of research to see how thoroughly that claim had been debunked by actual scientists.  But who wants to believe scientists these days? After all, they work for big pharma. Plus, don’t they make money off of illness? So they have no reason to want to cure disease (my conspiracy-theorist cousin uses this when he explains that there is a miracle cure for cancer, but evil scientists have been suppressing it for years so they can keep profiting off the cancer industry).

Some people cite the risks of vaccines because yes, there can be side effects.  The worst ones are, fortunately, extremely rare.  Both Wildliing and Mellow have been sore or have had mild fevers after vaccines, but that’s better than the diseases they prevent.  When I had my Tdap booster last year, my arm hurt for a couple of days.  Totally worth it – I’d rather have a sore shoulder than bring home whooping cough, especially when I had a too-young-to-be-immunized child. When Wildling was three and got a flu shot, she cried and screamed and limped so pitifully and dramatically you would have thought her femur had been snapped – until I told her if her leg hurt that badly then we weren’t going on our promised zoo trip, and she was magically and instantly cured.

I’m not minimizing all side effects.  There are exceedingly rare cases in which someone has a severe and life-threatening reaction to a vaccine. Will has a friend who suffered from a severe reaction to a vaccine as a baby.  As a consequence, she was unable to be vaccinated.  She also, as a child, suffered from both whooping cough and measles (not at the same time).  If you ask her about it, especially when she missed months of high school due to measles, she’ll tell you: vaccinate your kids.  She would have greatly preferred to get a shot than to be so sick, and she doesn’t see why any parent would disagree.

I know a few anti-vaxxers.  The most ridiculous one, by far, is an acquaintance who refuses to vaccinate because, while pregnant with her first child, she had a dream that her kid had a bad reaction.  When I was pregnant with Wildling, I dreamt she was a boy and I ate a five-gallon bucket of cherries.  I assure you, in my lifetime I have not consumed that many cherries, and Wildling is so far on the girl side of the gender spectrum that she has repeatedly suggested that Will either become a girl or live at work, so we can have an all-girl-only house. Pregnancy dreams should not dictate vaccination schedules.  That same woman’s oldest child does have some developmental delays, so I can only assume that, had she vaccinated, she would have blamed the shots.

Another acquaintance spent awhile saying that it wasn’t that she wasn’t vaccinating, she was just on a delayed schedule (delayed meaning she chose not too but wasn’t brave enough to admit it).  I tried to send her some scientific literature, and she very condescendingly informed me that there is bias on both sides of the issue, so she really couldn’t believe anything.  This same person (who has no science or medical background, fyi) decided that she had done sufficient ‘research’ and had determined that vaccines are not nearly as effective as people think, they don’t actually reduce the spread of disease, and there are too many deadly side effects.  At least she had the decency to acknowledge that her child was protected by the vaccinated children around her.  And, surprise, she read a blogpost that changed her mind, around the time when she had a second baby and discovered the risk of her older child bringing whooping cough home and killing the newborn with it.  She still doesn’t vaccinate for chicken pox though, because there are no long term effects of having that (ummm…good job on all your ‘research’ there, since you missed the SHINGLES connection!).

Speaking of chicken pox, I know several people who have not give their child the chicken pox vaccine because ‘I had it as a child, and it’s not so bad.’ Seriously, that’s their reasoning. I had chicken pox as a child too.  So did two of my three brothers.

It was the summer of 1983.  My mother was very heavily pregnant with Danny, who would be born that August.  Ricky, who had just finished kindergarten, was the first to fall.  He was down with the pox for two weeks.  My very pregnant mother spent those two weeks nursing him back to health, while dealing with an active five-year-old (me) and a rambunctious two-and-a-half year old (Jack).  Ricky recovered, and that very day, I fell ill.  So now my very pregnant mother was dealing with a recently recovered and stir-crazy Ricky, an equally stir-crazy Jack, and me, with chicken pox.  That lasted two weeks.  Based on how this story is going, you can probably predict what happened literally the same day I recovered: Jack came down with chicken pox.  My mother spent six weeks of the hot summer of ’83 cooped up in a house with one sick and two healthy kids (who desperately wanted to get out and go anywhere), meanwhile dealing with the last months of pregnancy with a giant baby (over ten pounds!).  So it was not a good summer for anyone.

Yes, we all survived.  Yes, we are all alive and healthy today.  But that doesn’t mean that my kids should have to suffer too.  I don’t want to spend two weeks nursing Wildling through chicken pox and preparing oatmeal baths for her and begging her not to scratch.  I don’t want Mellow to have to suffer through an illness that can be prevented with a shot.  I love my kids.  Just because I survived having chicken pox doesn’t make it an easy and fun disease, and having had that experience, I don’t want my kids to have to go through the same.  Plus, quite frankly, I don’t want to be like my mother, trapped dealing with chicken poxxy kids for weeks at a time.

I also don’t want my children to have the shingles virus living inside them.  That’s a side effect of having had chicken pox, you know.  It’s the same virus that causes shingles, and those shingles, which can be very painful, can erupt at anytime.  Will had a friend who, while under extreme stress from medical school, ended up with shingles in her eye.  She said it was excruciating.  I know someone else, an elderly woman, who has died because of shingles two or three times (fortunately, always in the hospital while being treated, and she was, obviously, resuscitated).

I was involved in an on-line discussion with some friends recently, and one woman stated she doesn’t vaccinate and she’s ‘not scared of measles.’  That’s just dumb.  You know why you don’t have to be scared of measles? Because the people around you are vaccinated.  But keep hanging out with your anti-vax crowd, especially during this latest measles epidemic, and maybe measles will make you afraid.  Will you be scared of measles when you are watching your child suffer and hoping that she doesn’t develop encephalitis and die? Will it scare you then? Or are going to be one of those people who claims that because you give your child healthy organic foods, then their immune systems will be strong enough to protect them anyway?

I’ve heard the argument that people in the United States don’t die of measles because of our clean water and good hygiene, so what is deadly in the third world is just a minor nuisance here.  Except that’s misleading. If people aren’t dying of measles here anymore, it’s because we have so many fewer cases and we are lucky.  According to the CDC, in 2014 there were only 644 cases of measles in the US.  Zero out 644 is good.  But what happens when that 644 goes up? According to an actual study done by actual scientists, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Infectious Diseases,  from 1987-2000, the death rate was 3 in a thousand.  This is in the United States. I doubt our hygiene standards have changed so substantially in the last 15 years so as to eliminate the risk.

I think, as adults, we have the right to decide for ourselves what risks we take, as long as they don’t harm others.  If I want to drink a gallon of wine, that’s fine, I’m bearing the risk of death by alcohol poisoning.  I don’t get to drink a gallon of wine and then drive a car – because then I am putting others at risk.  Deciding not to vaccinate is similarly a decision that harms others.  And who suffers?  The children and the immuno-compromised who are dependent on herd immunity for protection.  If i didn’t vaccinate my kids and they had whooping cough or measles, then my children, who had no choice in the matter, are suffering for my decision.  If I decide not to vaccinate my kids and they get rubella and spread it to a pregnant woman who then has a severely disabled child, it is that child who suffers, not me. If I decide not to vaccinate and Wildling is exposed to measles and goes to school, now that classmate of her who recently survived leukemia is in serious, life-threatening danger.

The choices we make have the power to harm others.  Selfishly relying on herd immunity and hand washing to prevent deadly diseases creates societal risk.  I strongly believe that because I live in a civilized society and I care about other members of that society, vaccination is the only moral and ethical choice.