Corny dogs and Margaret Atwood

weekend festival
perfect for geeking out, food
it's gonna be fun!

The Texas Book Festival is this weekend! If you've been around me at all in the past, oh, ever, you're probably sick of hearing me talk about this. I love the TBF. I mean love.it. Like Christmas morning, only in the Capitol building… with a bunch of strangers… and with presents that include listening to authors like Sherman Alexie talk about their awkward youth.

At previous Texas Book Festivals, I have seen George Saunders in all his hilarity; I've seen Star Wars stormtroopers randomly walking down the street; I've accidentally shouted curses while almost falling down stairs, causing Vendela Vida to turn and look at me. The kids have met both Maria and Gordon from Sesame Street, and I've seen Joyce Carol Oates sit on a big stage and crack jokes.

This is year, I'm on a panel – (K.A. Holt is on the panel, to be exact). I'm SO EXCITED! If you're in town, stop by the fest and say Hi. My panel is at 1:30 on Saturday. It's the "Everybody Needs a Hero" panel. And the panelists and I will be signing books afterward, I think.

I'm a little bummed that I'll have to miss some of the other cool things going on, but such is the reality of the TBF. It's always packed with such great lectures and panels you can never see everything. Unless someone figures out how to clone themselves, and/or attend in a variety of alternate dimensions. Maybe for next year!

I wish we could bring Ike-a-saurus. In past years, the other kiddos have been dragged down there while they were tiny. It was the first big shindig for both the wee one and the wee-er one when they were babies. Ah, well. He'll be at home with his nurse, prepping for Halloween.

Anyway, I invite you all to come on out to the fest – it's going to be tons of fun.

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Cloaking device: activate!

hey, did you see that?
no response, only silence
just keep on walking

Most days when I drive I'm pretty sure I have accidentally engaged the cloaking device on my car. Every other piece of motorized or person-powered equipment on the road seems to barrel down the street right towards me, not noticing at all that I am sitting in my car at the red light, or at the stop sign, or in a parking place or making an illegal left turn.

Today, I somehow engaged the invisibility cloak on myself. Normally, this wouldn't be a bad thing. In fact, I spend a lot of time wishing I could be invisible. I like the idea of slipping in and out of somewhere, grabbing what I need and not having to talk to anyone. Sometimes, though, when I go somewhere and I'm likely to know people, I try to be polite and say hello.

I must be fully cloaked today, because all of my hellos went unnoticed. I offered a hello to several people at varying times of the day and it was totally like a movie where the nerdy kid sees the cute kid waving at her, but it turns out he's waving to the person behind her. Except for opposite of that.

I guess this is better than being purposely snubbed, but still. I don't often actually WANT to talk to people, so on the days when I'm ready to say hello it does no good to my self-esteem for my waves to be misplaced.

Really, though, if the choice is to be unnoticed or ignored, I'll choose unnoticed. Maybe my cloaking device was telling me that my breath was stinky. Maybe it was protecting me from emotional harm. I can dig it.

If only I could be inivisible at home sometimes. Then maybe I could go to the bathroom in peace. Must learn to control the cloaking device. That's a good goal to have, isn't it? Everyone else can work on their retirement funds and fulfilling lifelong dreams – I'm going to work on learning how to pop in and out of people's consciousness at will. Fun!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

please don't call OSHA
the workplace of the insane
is my living room

I know I've said this before, but you guys, it is WEIRD having my house as someone's workplace. Equally weird is that one of my kids is someone else's full-time job. Not just that, he's TWO people's full-time job. Plus, my full-time job, and my husband's full-time job. How many adults does it take to care for one trach baby? Exactly a lot.

Seriously. That is weird.

Side-stepping the weird, though, was today. A non-nurse day. We traded out hours with our Friday nurse so that she can come on Halloween while we're at the Texas Book Festival. (side note: Come to my panel at 1:30 on 10/31! It will be awesome – or you'll get to see my real-world interpretation of Liz Lemon. Either way? Win!)

To be honest, when we know we're going to have a no-nurse day, we kind of dread it. Our weekends are usually nurse-free, and while they start off fun, they don't always end that way. Today, though, was different. Ike-a-saurus played around the house like a 14-month old should. He ate well, napped well, ripped electrical components out of the wall well. And not only that, the wee-er one enjoyed the one-on-one time with mommy and daddy. No fits, just a fun day.

I don't know what this means for the future – usually good days are followed by "Oh, hell no" days. But for now, it's really nice.

Now, this doesn't mean we won't cheer with glee when the night nurse arrives. And it doesn't mean we're not counting down the hours until reinforcements arrive on Monday, but for now – at this moment in time – it's been a lovely day.

It's nice to have one of those every now and then, isn't it? Even if it means reflecting on the weirdness of having people work in your house, and what it's like when they take a day off.

Home from the NICU day!

on this day last year
eight weeks old and coming home
four pounds of wonder

It's been a whirlwind day today. The computer blew up, I had a school visit to talk about Mike Stellar, we had a very early am appointment with a speech therapist. Maybe not a normal day for everyone, but on par for us.

Still, though, it's not like the whirlwind day we had on October 20th last year. Last year, I woke up super early in the morning. I couldn't sleep. I packed up a bag of food I knew I wouldn't eat and went straight to the NICU. We were pretty sure Ike-a-saurus was going to get the heave ho and be able to come home, but we didn't know for sure. We had to get the OK from the doctor, see some MRI results, make sure he passed his car seat test, etc.

Eight long weeks he'd been in the NICU. Eight long weeks of going back and forth and having to live away from my baby. Eight long weeks of the wee-er one not being able to meet her brother because she was too young to visit the NICU.

At the time, those eight weeks were long and torturous and seemingly endless. What we didn't know then was that they were training us for the future. A time when things would be even more long and torturous and endless. But for that moment, that day last year, I was in agony to get my baby home. To put together a fractured family. To get things situated and "normal". To just be home for good.

Now it's been a year. A kind of long year, actually. And we're not normal like I thought we were going to be, but that's OK.

It's better than OK.

It's great.

Happy home from the NICU anniversary, little dude. You amaze us everyday.

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Ka-Thunk Ka-Thunk Ka-Thunk or How I Accidentally Drowned a Plant

There's a point in the night when you want to go to sleep. And even though you are not asleep because you are keeping a watchful eye on your little dude who needs a watchful eye, you still think, "The alarm will go off if he really needs me, plus I'm right here on the couch, an arm's length away." You decide, then, that it's OK to close your eyes. So you find a pillow and a blanket, and you turn down the lights and snuggle as best you can into the nest you've created in the couch. Then…

KA-THUNK KA-THUNK KA-THUNK

The mist collar tubing is full of water.

The mist collar tubing being full of water is one of those things that always happens at the most pain-in-the-ass time. Like your kid always having to poop at the grocery store. Or Kanye stealing your microphone when you finally have your notes out. Almost always, the mist collar set-up needs emptying when you're just about asleep. This is especially true in the hospital when you are so exhausted you can't see straight, and the mist collar tubing is elaborately snaked through the rails of a crib and thus impossible to reach without getting up, walking around to the other side of the room, and dealing with it.

It's ka-thunking at me right now. Always at 2:30 am. Always when I'm hunkered down, eyes tearing from exhaustion. At least we're not in the hospital.

The mist collar set-up really isn't that big of a deal. You have an air compressor with a big water-filled nebulizer tank. This is hooked to a little water heater via some plastic tubing. More tubing hooks from the heater to a little mask that you put over the trach. This way, the trach gets warm mist blown into it all night so that it doesn't dry out and get plugged up. Simple enough.

The tubing fills up with water from all of the condensation, though, so you have a little water catch attached in the middle that allows you to drain the water out. This stops the ka-thunking noise, and gives you a cupful of water to dump in the plant on the sideboard when you are too tired and/or lazy to dump the water in the sink.

Except that, when you do this night after night your plant will overflow onto the sideboard, drench several library books with plant water, drip onto the carpet, and make your husband go, "WTF? Who's been drowning the plant?"

In case you were wondering.

Now I am going to go empty the mist collar tubing. But not into the plant. Because I want to stay married. And I want to go to sleep.