On Being Absolutely Delicious.

Our family has two distinct branches.

There’s the Chris Branch.

Chris does not recall a time when he had a run-in with any poisonous-plant-caused rash, and does not have the pleasure of experiencing bug bites of any kind. Sometimes he feels a bug on him and is annoyed by the biting sensation, but does not swell or itch or react in any way to the bite thereafter. More often, though, bugs don’t even bother to perch upon him.

Then there’s the Rachel Branch.

I spent most of my childhood and parts of my adulthood afflicted by the rashes of multiple poisonous plants, and am the best insect repellent money can buy, because if I’m with you, every living thing within 25 miles will be feasting on me as if I’m the main entrée at a party thrown by pre-prison-days Martha Stewart.

It appears, after much analysis and hiking, that Ali is a descendent of the Chris Branch, and Noah is a true prodigy in the Rachel Branch.

The poor child can get bitten by anything anywhere regardless of whether he is lacquered in bug spray and/or the surface area in question is completely hemmed in by tight-fitting garments.

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He’s the Taco Tuesday of the mosquito world. The Avocado Toast of the ant world. And the Double Fudge Brownie Milkshake with Sprinkles and a Waffle Cone Straw of the spider world.

And furthermore, his reactions to said bites can be rather…intense.

Which explains how his penis swelling like an overextended water balloon last week was totally standard for him.

It wasn’t his first rodeo.

(And when I say rodeo I mean the kid was walking like he’d just dismounted from a large bull.)

But he was calm, he was knowledgeable, and he fell right back into Protuberated Penile Procedure.

Noah-Ice-Packs-Spider-Bite“Put one ice pack in the pants, get an extra ice pack to swap out, and oh by the way this whole operation is easier if I wear gloves.”

He took it all with the casualness of a sore throat, as if carrying around an oversized package is something that is common to everyone’s daily experience, not just the UPS and FedEx men.

…Or at least, he was nonchalant until he was half asleep that night, when he meandered to me about his feelings about the situation.

“I’m sad. That my firehose is swelling. But I’m glad that my bottom isn’t swelling because then it would be huge. <slaps his own butt> Because it’s already big.”

(Nobody wants to be a spider-inflicted Kim Kardashian.)

If that had been his only bite, he wouldn’t have even gotten a doctor’s visit out of it. I had already looked up my last blog post to ensure we were waddling through all the recommended treatment steps.

But it was the one on his neck that was troublesome. Because the next morning, it had turned into The Dreaded Target.

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THAT’S the sign we all have nightmares about. THAT’S the one that should send you to the doctor the minute you see it. Or at least those of us who live in a territory of Lyme Disease.

Noah, however, was becoming more preoccupied with his other still-growing issue.

“I’m tired of walking like this. But I can’t walk normal because my firehose feels gross. I HATE IT!!”
“I’m sorry. Hopefully the doctor can help that, too.”
“As long as it’s not a shot right HERE. Because that would really hurt.”

He’s not wrong.

As expected, our Pediatrician inspected the lower issue and said “Yup, looks like last time. It’ll be fine with ice and Benadryl.”

But the neck issue…whether or not it was what it looked like it was, it’s ALWAYS best to treat for Lyme if it could be a possibility. It was most likely a spider bite gone dramatic, but just in case…

As she looked up his dosage of antibiotics and steroids, Noah told her in no uncertain terms that he’s never even tasted a lime. Clearly she was mistaken.

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Mansplaining starts early these days.

Noah was concerned as to his level of boredom during his recovery. He could not walk. He could NOT run. And he even made sure to tell Chris specifically* that he ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT swim. I mean the kid had a freaking millstone hanging around his…well you know.

*Chris tends to be an authoritarian ruler when it comes to regularly decreeing family fun at the pool.

What could a boy do who could not use his body from the waist down??

While we wandered Walgreens waiting on his prescriptions, God shined down upon us and led us to a couple sets of Minecraft papercraft boxes that were on clearance ($4.49 a set, currently on Amazon for $15-20.)

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This blessed craft party ended up being the ideal weekend time passer while waiting for one to be able to walk without a waddle. With the added benefit of my house now being covered in a thin layer of a Minecraft empire.

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So at least the road to genital recovery has treasures along the way.

Epilogue: Noah is back to normal now, except for the extreme maniacal laughter and hippity hoppity effects of his steroid. I actually really like this kid on steroids. Can I get a long-term steroid prescription to treat chronic whininess? Because it’s totally working.

Diary of a Tired Mom: Beliefs and Dreams.

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Every time I need Triple Antibiotic cream, I can only find Hydrocortisone – and not just one tube, multiple tubes. Every time I need Hydrocortisone, I can only find Triple Antibiotic cream  – and not just one tube, multiple tubes.

I no longer believe that these two creams are separate entities. They cannot exist at the same time because THEY ARE THE SAME TUBES. They cackle with evil glee at their ability to change their name when they see me coming. They are the David Blaine of First Aid.


I vehemently believe that my phone is listening to me and selling my conversations to Facebook.

Multiple times over the last few months I’ve had a conversation about something random, and then a few hours later have an ad served to me in my Facebook feed regarding that topic.

For instance, Chris and I discussed Ole Miss (as in the university and the football team.) Their coach left in scandal and I asked Chris to tell me the long and colorful story while we were on a hike.

We never talk about Ole Miss.

The very next time I opened Facebook, I had an ad for Ole Miss gameday apparel.

I mean, that’s just stupid. My phone should know what kind of gameday looks I’m into.

After a few more of these uncanny and quite suspicious instances, I decided to turn off my “Hey Siri” feature. I considered that maybe that’s how it was justifying its listening habits – it was always keeping an ear out for me to say “Hey Siri,” and anything it heard in the meantime it just happened to mention in passing to Mark Zuckerberg.

But then, weeks after divorcing Hey Siri, I had lunch with a friend and discussed all the misguided ways that people attempt to comfort the grieving. Four hours later, I received this ad:

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So not only is it still listening, it’s contextually analyzing my conversations and making frighteningly intelligent decisions based on what it hears.

Y’all – I’m pretty sure the computers have already taken over. In fact, I’m not even sure if I’m real anymore. I may just be a figment of my computer’s imagination.


You know you’re at a homeschool event when a kid pops off a boob to say they need to go potty. With perfect sentence structure.

Am I saying that homeschoolers breastfeed longer than most people?

Or that they potty-train early?

Or that they reinforce fantastic sentence structure at very young ages?

That’s for you to decide.


Summer in Alabama has been painful. We had such a mild fall, winter, and spring that I nearly forgot what an extreme season felt like for a second.

But it’s hot.

It’s humid.

It will sap you of all ability to breathe the moment you step foot out the door.

Which means that I am once again daydreaming about my Pipe Dream.

I had a dream one blessed night a couple of summers ago that was so blissful that I’ve not forgotten it. In my dream, there was a raised, enclosed, air-conditioned runway (not walkway, although I will allow walkers into my dream as well but definitely not bikes – sorry bikers) that went from my neighborhood all the way to downtown.

It was glass on three sides, in the shape of an arch, and significantly raised above the roads so that you could see everything around you and were looking down at the treetops.

It was basically the Jetson’s Utopia for a runner. And I loved it. And craved it. And fantasized about it.

I mean, I know this project would only cost ten billion or so dollars, especially depending on how many neighborhoods we’d connect in this super fabulous modern monstrosity. Oh – and also you’d definitely need a few open-air observation decks here and there for sunset watching and the like.

But it would be EXTRAORDINARY.

Think of the tourists it’d bring. Runners would come to run this above-city course during the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter. You could even run during a tornado. Okay maybe not a tornado but close.

Air-Conditioned-Running-Path_thumb5Yes, even Disco dancers would come to dance in my dreamy tunnel.

There would be regular water stops and vending machines where you could buy Gu and Body Glide and deliciously cold Protein Icees.

Every so often this magical tunnel would dip down to ground level, weaving through the nature preserves around town – Red Mountain Park, Ruffner Mountain, Oak Mountain State Park, giving you the opportunity to run through the woods during those months that normally leave you heaving, dehydrated, and mosquito food.

Then it would shoot back up into the air, offering just the right amount of hill workouts, and continue its majestic treetop view of the city.

I would pay a decent monthly membership to this tunnel. At least in the summer.

(And I’ll even let the bikers use it in the spring and fall.)

And hey – if we have to sell it as a Light Rails option too, you know, since Birmingham is kinda in last place in the whole public transportation arena, that’s totally fine. There can be a train running alongside my Most Amazing Air-Conditioned Runway.

I keep trying to sell Chris on this fantastic magnanimous idea and he reminds me that it is a LITERAL Pipe Dream and I must accept the reality that it’s completely impractical.

Sure it is.

But it would be incredible.

The Five Second Journey.

Guest Post by Chris The Husband.

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There are times in life when things happen in real time very quickly, but in your mind, time slows to a crawl, as your brain seizes onto reality and attempts to grapple with it. Such was Saturday, at the pool.

It was a standard late poolside July afternoon. Hot, sunny, flocks of sunscreened kids splashing in the pool and baking parents lounging on the deck with piles of damp towels, flip flops, and pool toys in nearly every chair.

I was on a break from Marco Polo and Monkey-In-The-Middle with my own kids, chilling in a lounge chair, when I saw it.

 

:01

Across the pool, far from me, a short kid stood, parallel to the side of the pool, with his hands low, his head down, and a stream of liquid shooting a few feet in front of him, falling harmlessly on the already wet pool deck. He’s probably 3 years old, totally at ease, not a care in the world.

 

:02

That can’t be what I think it is. There must be a water gun involved. Maybe a sprinkler behind him creating an optical illusion. This kid is not standing a foot outside the pool peeing onto the deck.

There are a hundred people in here. If that were happening surely I wouldn’t be the only one noticing. It has to just be my angle.

 

:03

No, no one else is noticing this. All the kids are playing. All the parents are staring at their phones or books or magazines. All the lifeguards are looking INTO the pool. They only notice kids running on the deck, not whizzing.

Wait! Someone noticed. The dad. Oh, man, he’s panicking. I wonder what he’s gonna do?

 

:04

Its hard to make logical sense of the actions humans take when they’re in a panic. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you just react.

Standing in the pool, in a very quick and purposeful manner, the dad reaches his hand up and blocks the stream of pee, about 4 inches from the output source. I’m not sure what the intent was, but in practical terms, not much changed. While minimizing the distance traveled by the stream, it was still falling onto the wet pool deck a foot from the side of the pool. It was just now first taking a detour and squirting the dad’s palm.

I could see his animated facial attempt to convince the little boy to stop urinating while unsuccessfully trying to catch it, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying over the general cacophony of the moment.

 

:05

It dawned on me how this happened.

I can’t be sure, but I’d bet money on it. I’ve been a parent long enough to flub the directions.

I can almost guarantee you that this dad had told his son repeatedly, in no uncertain terms, “DO NOT PEE IN THE POOL.” Not “let me take you to the bathroom”, not “tell me when you need to go”, just the basic instruction. Keep it simple, make it count.

The kid followed these instructions to the LETTER.

 

Epilogue.

Once the flow was paused, the dad leapt from the pool, escorted his son to the fence, and let him finish in the bushes. Again, nobody noticed. Everyone at the pool is focused. Except apparently, me.

The two morals of the story are: (1) Give clear directions, and (2) Don’t look up from your phone.