Category Archives: Health

A Secret Hazard of Editing

I don’t mean to whine, but I am sick of being sick, already.

The day before our big trip to Washington, Napoleona puked all day. So of course the next day, while somewhere in the middle of nowhere (between Baker and La Grande) I got sick too, despite washing my hands 40 bazillion times. Then the day after Anthropapa and I returned home, I got a stomach bug again.

This week, I got a weird ear infection that has involved all the lymph nodes on that side of my head and neck. The ear infection isn’t so bad, but the whole area in front of, underneath, and behind my ear is so swollen that it’s painful. Even my earlobe is sticking out! Waaaaaaaaah! (That time, I meant to whine.)

This is the second ear infection I’ve had this year. The first one was in February and I ended up with a ruptured eardrum. I wish I knew what was going on with this, since aren’t ear infections just for kids?


You’re probably wondering by now just what the heck that post title means.

Well, I recently worked on these two books, and they’ve made me a bit hyperchondriac about this ear infection. What if it’s some weird bacteria and I’ll be on one antibiotic after another? What if there is no antibiotic to handle this infection at all? Never you mind that I don’t have a fever or any other symptoms; these things are unpredictable and sneaky and deadly, I tell you, DEADLY!!

Hookay, back to reality. My ear is stuffed up and my face hurts, and it’s impossible to sleep on that side. But really, it’s probably not fatal.



Filed under Books, editing, Health, Silliness and Mayhem

Where I Am

Last week Anthropapa, SillyBilly, and I all got influenza. Honest-to-God, doctor-tested influenza. I don’t know the flavor, whether A, B, swine, or other. Napoleona, as usual, is the healthiest of us all.

I do know that it has been very unpleasant and inconvenient. Anthropapa spent the week sleeping when he wasn’t coughing or shaking. I got a slightly milder case but still have a bad case of wheezing asthma as a side effect.

We went to the doctor when SillyBilly  had obviously caught it (“obvious” being when a 6 1/2 year old boy falls asleep for 3 hours on the couch in the middle of the day, plus a fever) and so, thanks to the miracle of Tamiflu, he’s only had mild symptoms so far.

So now I’m feeling behind on work, behind on laundry, and short of a few brain cells. And I have to admit that we completely abandoned our natural health remedies this time (except for the beloved hot water bottle, and one round of Emergen-C some time last week) and liberally dosed ourselves with acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I was just not up for lemon socks or anything like that. I was hardly up for bathing all week, no less doctoring others.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Family, Health, Napoleona, papa, SillyBilly

Random Things I Thought I’d Share with You

1) SillyBilly has dived full-bore in to reading. He insisted on getting a chapter book yesterday at the book fair at school. I’ve been steering him toward the simpler, early-reader type books… but no, he wanted a big kid book. He picked a Magic Tree House “Merlin Mission” book, which is a series I know nothing about, other than it appears to be fairly inoffensive compared to much of the dreck publishers seem to think kids want, like books based on Pokemon or Barbie’s adventures in Pinkalotta Land. He’s been reading it (silently to himself, I might add) in pretty much every spare moment.

While I feel deep joy that he loves reading and has willingly embraced it, part of me does not want him to read as much as I did when I was a girl. So, while I will encourage and praise his reading, I will also be booting him outside whenever possible. And he’ll be going to a “Summer Adventure” program four days a week starting in June, which will not involve much indoor activity at all except for the public library once a week. Now I just have to pray that he’s not going to need glasses in addition to hearing aids.

2) SillyBilly is also teaching me a lesson in Not Freaking Out Over Weird Physical Symptoms. When I went to pick him up from school today, I noticed he had a spotty red rash on his face. When it was revealed that he also had it on his arms and torso, we immediately went home for further examination. Turns out he has a spotty red rash pretty much everywhere, but it’s not raised or blistering or itchy, and he doesn’t have a fever or any other symptoms. So I’m chalking it up to him needing to process something out through his skin instead of his usual M.O. of mucus production. He did something very similar when he came home from the hospital as an infant — he was covered with a fine red rash for quite a few weeks as all the various drugs and antibiotics worked their way out. I’m refusing to worry about it unless more symptoms arise. And trying not to be disappointed that it’s not chicken pox, which I’d like both kids to get sooner rather than later.

3) It’s wind season in Southeastern Idaho. We had a few weeks of a nice pattern of rain storms followed by sunny cloud-watching weather. But now it’s all about dry air, sneezing from pollen, listening to the amazing sounds of the pines, and the treat I had this morning of watching a hawk hovering over an empty field, searching intently for his breakfast. It was so windy that for much of the time the hawk was either totally still in the air, letting the wind keep him completely steady without moving his wings at all, or letting himself be carried to another part of the field with a few flaps. At one point I also watched him rise up and repeatedly dodge a smaller bird that was clearly harassing him.

Unfortunately I could not get close enough and the light was not right for me to tell what kind of bird exactly it was, but I know it was a hawk of some kind, possibly a dark morph. I was close enough at one point to clearly see the shape of the bird’s head as it intently peered down to the ground, hoping some field mouse or rabbit would unwisely reveal itself. I couldn’t stay long enough to see if it made a catch or not, but as it’s somewhere I pass by every weekday morning, I’ll be keeping my eye out for sure.

4) Also on the nature study front, in the last few days Napoleona has brought in the shed skin of a snake’s tail section (looks like a rat snake to me) as well as several largish pieces of what appears to be robin’s egg. Time to clear off the nature table for some real treasures!

5) Funniest Quote on What Is Otherwise a Very Serious Subject:

We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.

– C. S. Lewis, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God in the Dock.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Books, Health, Napoleona, Nature, Nature tables, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly

Sleep Is My Friend

People, I am burnt. (No, it’s not because of Twitter!)

Napoleona stayed home all last week with a stomach flu. I thought I escaped lightly with only one day of ick, but it’s reared its ugly head again and I’m getting more and more tired.

We’re leaving for California in a few short weeks, and I’ve got several editing deadlines to meet before that. Plus the end of the school year flurry of events and outings. Plus needing to get the brakes fixed on the van. Plus trying to set up  a business website/blog that the wonderful Anthropapa created for me. Plus the beetle-browed piles of laundry glowering at me from far too many corners of this house. Plus registering for a class this fall. Plus…

On the bright side, we did get out for a walk this last weekend, and we saw marmots! The grass is green and the air is cool and fresh. Now I just need a nap.

I like to post something at least once a week. I’m feeling like I can’t promise that to myself right now. sigh.


Filed under editing, Health, Napoleona, papa

Amazing Internet Synchronicity

I’m home with a sick little girl today — major digestive disruptions (or should I say, eruptions, all over the bed and in the underwear) last night and this morning. You know an almost-five-year-old is sick when she is lying on the couch for hours looking pale and grumpy.

So of course one part of my primitive brain center is screaming at me, “Swine flu, AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!” Totally irrational, but there it is. She’s just got a stomach bug, and so she’s lying on the couch with a hot water bottle and sippy cup of chamomile tea.

On a seemingly unrelated front, I just opened a Twitter account and will be using it primarily for freelancing business and to promote the EFA (my personal promotion only, at this point).

Then this morning, these two aspects of my life came together in my feed reader:

So much of Twitter is like this. Not any of my followers, of course! Now I need to figure out how to put a Twitter widget in my blog do some editing.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under computers, freelancing, Health, Napoleona, Silliness and Mayhem

Mixed Bag

Manual breast pump
Image via Wikipedia

Today’s New York Times Opinion section included the article “Ban the Breast Pump” by Judith Warner in her weekly column “Domestic Disturbances.”

Inflammatory title, no?

Even more inflammatory to me are some of her basic assumptions. Warner begins by describing her feelings, and those of other mothers, that using a breast pump is “miserable,” “a grotesque ritual” that made her “feel like a cow,” and that it “brings together all the awfulness of being a modern mother.”

I’m fine with those feelings. They’re perfectly valid, as feelings always are. And having spent many hours with a breast pump myself, I can agree that it can be quite odd, sometimes painful, and almost factory-farm-cow-like. In my case, I was pumping because my newborn son was in the hospital for a month and had to be fed (when he wasn’t sedated and unconscious) via a nasal tube. For others, it’s part of the harsh reality of going back to work before their child has transitioned fully into eating solids.


Warner then goes on to contrast using a breast pump with a “semblance of [the mother’s] physical dignity” and says that we’ve “made such a fetish of breast milk.”

I think she’s taking her book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety a bit too far. Her perceptive observations —

Maybe we’re even at a point where it’s permissible to insist that the needs of a mother and the needs of her baby, rather than being opposed are, in fact, linked, and that the best way to meet both is to scale down the demands now put on mothers and beef up support for them.

Why, as a society, have we privileged the magic elixir of maternal milk over actual maternal contact, denying the vast, vast majority of mothers the kind of extended maternity leave that would make them physically present for their babies?

— are detracted from by her word choices throughout the article. I understand the desire to write a strong piece and to provoke the reader. But it’s an overly large leap from “I didn’t like it” to “It’s yet another device of patriarchal oppression.” And I don’t like the underlying assumption that my “dignity” was compromised by a free choice I made. Warner seems to assume that all women use breast pumps because they are forced to by society at large, either through financial considerations like not receiving sufficient maternity leave, or peer (and medical) pressure to breast feed at all costs. She wags her finger at second-wave feminism (something I might do as well in some cases), forgetting that feminism has brought us the ability to choose these things. And to choose whether or not to accept societal pressures in the first place — something people tend to forget while they cast themselves as bound slaves instead of free human beings.

I chose to breastfeed, and use a pump when necessary, for my two children because I thought it was best for all of us. Both Warner and journalist Hanna Rosin, who Warner quotes in her article, seem to think there is no scientific data to support the nutritional and child-development superiority of breast milk over formula. Whether or not that is true (and I doubt that it is), there are plenty of other reasons to choose breastfeeding and pumping. For other mothers, formula is a good decision — mothers unable to breastfeed, mothers whose workplaces or type of work cannot accommodate pumping, or mothers who simply choose not to for emotional or other reasons. (I once knew a wonderful mother who was literally disgusted by the idea of breastfeeding. She had a real psychological block against it, and if she had nevertheless chosen to breastfeed, I’m sure the situation would not have been beneficial for her or her children.)

I agree with Warner that we have not quite fulfilled feminism’s promise of equality as long as we assume women must conform to already-existing social structures like short, unpaid maternity leaves. But to cast using a breast pump in such a derogatory light does no woman any favors.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Filed under Books, Family, Health, Parenting, Politics, Rants

Snippets of Life

Can you tell I finally charged the camera batteries?

A few weeks ago we went over to ISU for some fresh air and exercise in the quad. It was one of those bright blue winter days.

The castle Administration building

The "castle" Administration building

The Fine Arts building, with the Portneuf Range behind it

The Fine Arts building, with the Portneuf Range behind it

These trees are perfect for little kids to climb. They’d been off-limits for a few months while a new patio area was being built next to the student union. We were excited to see that the fences were finally down.

Napoleona as a rosy-cheeked tree elf

Napoleona as a rosy-cheeked tree elf

SillyBilly demonstrating that there are no straight lines in nature

SillyBilly demonstrating that there are no straight lines in nature

I realized that I never posted the follow-up to the volcano project. SillyBilly painted his clay version brown and green, but we didn’t get around to adding any gravel and all our dinosaurs were too big! But it did look pretty splendid anyway.

Still couldnt find the red food coloring for the lava

Still couldn't find the red food coloring for the lava

Then one day we did some paintings with acrylics on dry paper. (I know, should be wet-on-wet. Here come the Waldorf police.) We investigated what we could do given only blue, red, and yellow.







The last two days, SillyBilly has been home sick. Another virus, another asthma attack. This time we even had to get out the evil prednisone. Which makes him hyper (along with the nebulized albuterol, boing boing boing) but I can’t let him play outside with his cough. Sigh. So we’ve done lots of stuff to keep him busy.

We talked about how you might say “the sky is blue” or “leaves are green” — but you’d be wrong! They can be many different colors, depending on the light, time of day, season, and so on. So SillyBilly experimented with his pencils to see how leaves might look:

New coloring book joy!

New coloring book joy!

Then he decided to something completely different with his pencils.

Spontaneous alphabetization

Spontaneous alphabetization

We made very sinful sugar cookies, with pink sprinkles for extra panache. SillyBilly chose acorn cutters, while I went with hearts.

Butter and coconut oil and sugar and almond extract...mmmmmm

Butter and coconut oil and sugar and almond extract...mmmmmm

With the oven still hot from the cookies, I roasted an eggplant and made my first ever batch of baba ghanoush, as we for one had tahini on hand. Napoleona declared she loved it so much that she was going to cook it every single day for her own kids some day. Then we realized she was talking about the store-bought hummus. Oh well.

I’m hoping SillyBilly is better by tomorrow afternoon, because there’s a Pi Day/Einstein’s birthday event at the local mall, complete with liquid nitrogen and a Van de Graaf generator. He’s not going to want to miss that.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Filed under art, Family, Food, Health, life, Napoleona, play, SillyBilly

If You Give a Mama a Cold…

…She’s Not Going to Function Properly. Or will she?

For some reason, lately I haven’t had much inspiration to write blog posts. I can hardly get myself to keep up with reading my favorite blogs, either.

Maybe it’s the February blahs. But my mental energy seems at a serious low.

I noticed something interesting today, though. I seem to have come down with yet another cold — didn’t I just have one? This morning after everyone was at work and school, I decided to take care of a few odds and ends that were still rattling about in my brain, in lieu of working on my current manuscript. My brain felt too fuzzy to make sure I was doing a good editing job.

Because of that fuzzy mental feeling, I broke down each task in my head so that I wouldn’t get bogged down by running all over the place to get what I needed:

You want to pay those few last bills for the month, so you’ll need your laptop and wallet. And stamps, since at least one bill needs to go via snail mail.

Then you wanted to get those two packages ready to mail out. For the book you’ll need the scissors and packing tape and some BookMooch cards, and you need to pick a note card to put in the other one.

You’ll need a pen to write the check and the note card.

So I gathered up all these odds and ends, and arrayed them near to hand. I was able to get a lot done, even with a mush brain. I even remembered later to put gas in the car and turn in SillyBilly’s registration for the next school year on time.

Why was I able to accomplish all that while I was physically and mentally dragging? How could I remember all of those steps even when I was tired and sick? I think it was because I used the Mouse and Cookie method.

Have you seen the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book? It’s been one of our favorites for a long time. It starts like this:

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.
When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw.
When he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin.
Then he’ll want to look in a mirror, to make sure he doesn’t have a milk mustache….

And so on, until the little boy is run quite ragged catering to the mouse’s needs! The thing I love about this book is that it progresses quite logically (with a few silly detours) from step to step. It’s almost like a preschooler’s version of one of Rudolf Steiner’s supplemental exercises, the one where you choose a simple manmade object, like a paper clip, and think through everything you know about its production, back to mining the raw metal from the earth.

This exercise helps you practice focusing your thinking by excluding unrelated thoughts and progressing your thoughts in an orderly way. I felt like I was doing that this morning, somewhat unconsciously and spontaneously, to help me focus on my tasks.

Just imagine what I might get done if I tried that exercise regularly and consciously!


Filed under Anthroposophy, Books, Health, SillyBilly

I Had Big Plans

To write another Spiritual Tasks post, and a post on finding old friends and microblogging on Facebook. To get some laundry done, and do a big paper mache project with the kids.

But my cold from last week turned into a sinus infection in my cheek, which yesterday decided to invade my Eustachian tube and rupture my eardrum. And Anthropapa has a clogged ear and bad cough, too.

So, I’m just biding my time until I can get some antibiotics on Monday. Normally I avoid them, but this seems like a good time to avail myself of modern medicine. Ibuprofen, decongestant, and the heating pad are having minimal effects.

More soon. Stay well, friends!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Filed under Health


Discriminate, v.

1. trans. To make or constitute a difference in or between; to distinguish, differentiate.

I am an indifferent winter driver. I just don’t have that much experience yet, so I’m very cautious. And the plowing around here leaves something to be desired.

Unlike the guy in the monster truck in front of us at a stop sign the other day, who wanted to peel out fast like he usually does, except it was icy and so all he accomplished was peppering us with sand. And unlike the guy behind me this afternoon, who I watched fishtailing as he took the corner too fast and then tailgated me down a steep hill.



Discern, v.

5. trans. To distinguish (an object) with the eyes; to see or perceive by express effort of the powers of vision; to “make out” by looking, descry, behold.

Over the weekend we finally got some more snow after a few weeks of sunny, balmy weather. (By “balmy” I mean above freezing.) The tail end of the weather system has brought us some high, icy cloud formations, and by extension, some amazing sky phenomena.

Yesterday morning we saw a 22° solar halo, kind of like this one:

Then this morning we saw a rainbow segment on the horizon and a sun pillar, a bit like this one:



Disease, n.

2. A condition of the body, or of some part or organ of the body, in which its functions are disturbed or deranged; a morbid physical condition; “a departure from the state of health, especially when caused by structural change” (Syd. Soc. Lex.). Also applied to a disordered condition in plants.

SillyBilly got the cold first, last week. We immediately began managing his asthma, and I can say with some measure of triumph that we only had to give him one dose of the icky oral steroid, and he didn’t miss any school.

That triumph is tempered by the brutal fact that he then shared it with the rest of us. Napoleona stayed home from daycare on Friday after she started coughing, and she’s been home yesterday and today too. Anthropapa and I got it over the weekend, but of course there’s no “stay home and rest” for us.

Now the kids are going bonkers from being inside for so long (we dragged ourselves out on Sunday to go to lunch and the bookstore, but that’s been it besides school for SillyBilly, and it’s too cold now to play outside), and we all sound like pack-a-day smokers.

“Disturbed or deranged,” indeed.


Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary, online.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Filed under Family, Health, Napoleona, Nature, papa, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly