On Keeping A Relationship Fresh.

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Sometimes you can live with someone your whole life and still not really know them. You might think you have them pegged – especially if they share DNA – and know exactly what decisions they’ll make in each scenario. But then some random recessive gene will pop up and shock your socks off.

Such has been mine and Noah’s relationship of late.

I have logical children. Degreed as an Engineer and an Accountant, Chris and I have a significant amount of organized, calm, orderly genes in our pool. No, we don’t allow belly flops or dunking.

So when I was changing light bulbs and asked Noah to come take the old one out of my hand, it didn’t occur to me to say “CAREFULLY throw this away.” I mean sure he’s a six year old boy but he’s my six year old boy. And even more extreme, he’s Chris’ six year old boy.

So I just said “Take this and throw it away.”

After which I heard the crash and shatter and skittering pieces of glass in the kitchen.

“What happened??”

“You SAID to throw it!!”

“What?!? You know what ‘throw it away’ means – why would you THROW a lightbulb?”

I shooed both the children out of the kitchen and began angry sweeping.

(Thankfully these were old-fashioned bulbs – no immediately-life-ending poison in these babies.)

After carefully sweeping and then linting my floor (y’all keep dryer lint around to pick up tiny glass fragments too, right?), I followed up with Noah, who was feeling the weight of his sins in the living room. I think my angry sweeping was rightfully emanating throughout the house.

“Why did you throw it?”

“Well, actually I didn’t throw it. I slammed it against the counter to break it before I threw it away.”

“Wait. WHAT?!”

I angry-ran back in the kitchen, Noah leading the way then pointing out shiny objects. Sure enough, the counter was also covered in glass shards.

I spent the day marveling at his ability to surprise me. But then I remembered a couple of weeks ago when I did the same to him…

He and Ali were playing Hide and Seek. He ran into my room, quietly shutting the door behind him. Breathlessly, he said “Don’t tell Ali I’m in here.”

I was busy at work on my computer and nodded busily.

Ali finished counting and eventually popped her head in my door.

“Is Noah in here?”

I didn’t look up and answered as if I was giving her 1% of my attention. “Nope.”

“Okay, thanks.”

She ran downstairs.

Noah slowly rose up from the other side of my bed, starry eyed. With a lot of awe and a tiny bit of fear in his voice, he said,

“Well that…..is amazing. You can lie to kids.”

And he’ll never, ever know how good I am at it.

The Last (Beach) Stand.

It was our last trip of the summer, and our twelfth(ish) annual family vacation – the one we take with my family instead of buying each other presents. Not having to buy presents AND a “free” vacation? It’s such a win.

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We started this tradition when there were no kids, then eventually began adding one kid per year for a half-decade.

The first year that we had all five cousins on the trip, they looked like this:

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And now they look like this.

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I’ll let you guess which of those years was easier.

This year, did all the Florida things.

We beached (count five kids – they’re all there. Did you find them? That’s what we do on the beach – count to five over and over),

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We rainbowed,

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We ran to and from the beach in our pajamas to get a better view,

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We learned what was REALLY at the end of the rainbow,

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(Is she taking a picture of her dog pooping at the end of the rainbow? I did, so I guess I can’t judge.)

We ran into random men with parrots,

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We complained about our hands being covered in parrot germs,

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We sand castled,

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We sunsetted,

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We crab hunted at least three different species (and/or goaded the bravest children into doing it for us),

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(Cape San Blas is apparently the most popular Crab Hangout Spot in the world. See all those dots? Crabs. All crabs.)

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We corralled everyone for family photos, which first requires one tribute for a lighting check, and MY GOODNESS did my tribute offer some flair with his role.

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He’s for sure going to get picked up by a modeling agency solely because of this blog post.

Okay on to those family photos…

(Nope, not that one.)

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(Nope again.)

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(Definitely not.)

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(Okay that one will work.)

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(Since we’re on a roll, we should try a different location.)

(Nope, there’s always that one kid.)

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Oh and every now and then we relaxed.

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We also taught all the kids how to play Mafia, which they then became OBSESSED with, and I realized how remarkably good I was at swaying their collective opinions. I could make them turn on someone with just five words. I felt the addictive rush of power after being on the winning side for 8 out of 8 of our games, and realized that I really should consider a career change to either detective or member of the actual mafia. I’ll let you know what I decide.

And finally, we all studied intensely a pair of giant Walkingstick bugs. When Chris brought them up “as a large gift” for me (then lifted the lid and they jumped toward me and I screamed), he told the kids, “Look! It’s a baby riding on a Mommy’s back!”

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We all oohed and aahed at how adorable this was, and I fussed at the children for trying to detach the precious family.

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“Don’t do that to the baby!! He could DIE!!!”

After asking my resident Twitter Scientist, I discovered that actually, the males of this species are a lot smaller than the females, and the actual connection of the creatures at the rear as opposed to what I suppose I imagined – at the mother’s tiny teat – began to make so much more sense.

That poor female. She thought she had a chance of escape with our kid’s help. And then I stepped in and made them end their detaching process.

I went and found Chris. “THAT WAS NO BABY RIDING ON ITS MOTHER’S BACK!!”

He laughed at me. “I know that! I just made that story up for the kids.”

Five hours later, they were still on the porch. And still very much attached.

That night as I was lying in bed thinking about that exhausted female Walkingstick, I googled and discovered that this particular variety have an extremely unique “odiferous secretion” that they can shoot, with surprising accuracy, up to 15 inches. And furthermore, if this secretion is shot into one’s eye, which is a usual target, it can cause pain as severe as if you’d had molten lead poured in your eye socket. The pain fades in a few hours. The next morning, you wake up with a completely scarlet eye that makes light and pressure so unbearable that you are incapacitated for 48 hours. Your vision continues to be impaired for five days.

Hey, y’all – Alabama isn’t the only Hunger Games stadium.

After sharing these findings with the family, along with my relief that the children were not attacked by that feisty little male, my mom had an aha moment. She said that as we were all crowded around observing our new friends, she suddenly felt like she had something in her eye. It got worse, so she ran inside before we’d realized she was hurting. She couldn’t get it to quit, and finally threw her contacts away, and the pain subsided.

We can clearly conclude that the joy of our vacation was saved solely by a contact lens. We should all be so lucky as to have horrible vision.

So, thanks to Gramamma for taking it in the eye from a pair of amorous sticks for the rest of us, we can safely call this vacation a Thumbs-Up success.

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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.