When it rains, it pours…all over the bathroom…

I’m thinking about renting “Daddy Day Care”.

I know it bombed at the box office, and I’m not usually one who go for stupid sitcom movies, particularly if they star A-name stars attempting to be funny (and yeah, I know Eddie Murphy starred in many comedies, but when was the last time you really had a side-ripping laugh from one?)

The reason I want to watch it because I remember in the trailer Eddie sending a kid to the bathroom, and after the kid does his thing, Eddie pokes his head in and stares aghast at what is presumably over the floor, the walls, the sink…and possibly the ceiling. Mere exaggeration to induce a comedic effect, I had thought at the time…

…until my boy became the human sprinkler last night.

Yes, toilet training has started up again in our household. Something I had pretty much been dreading, thanks to the failure we had last year. It actually started sometime last month. I didn’t say much about it, though, because I’ve learned my lesson–crowing about your kid going potty can be premature sometimes. There are days when things move swimming along; they get it, you get it, and everything stays nice and dry. Then there are yesterdays, when you hear the flat, unmistakable tinkle-tinkle on ceramic tile, and you dash like mad to the bathroom, and there you stand, pulling an Eddie Murphy face as you stare at the floor…and the walls…and the…sink…

(I didn’t look up. I just didn’t want to risk it.)

Before I started wailing on my kid, let me first tell you that Daniel’s got a better handle on the potty than the last time around. There is something to waiting until kids are around three years old to attempt potty training. First of all, Daniel actually wants to use the potty. I’ve been using the winter months to play tons of potty videos, both DVD and online, and sometime during those months, it somehow clicked in his toddler mind that going potty can be fun.

I did mention that a couple of months ago, Daniel had started asking to wear underpants out of the blue. It surprised me, because the only video that actually showed a kid wearing underpants and appreciating them was the Japanese one that’s on YouTube. He also could be interested in underpants because my daycare person is also training her son as well. Man, if there is anything to this potty-training business, it’s that it’s a lot easier if you personally know other kids going through the same thing and try to get them all to go together. Mass potty trips sounds icky, but it’s a great way to learn.

And Daniel has been learning. He can now pull down his pants, something he couldn’t do last August. Instead of me asking him constantly if he needs to go, he takes the initiative himself and goes into the bathroom, somehow backs himself onto the toilet (he’s bigger now, so he apparently he doesn’t have the fear of falling in anymore) and goes. And afterwards–and this, I think, is the big thing that helps him learn–he gets to put a sticker on the sticker chart.

I didn’t do the sticker thing before. I did fruit snacks. I had figured that if Daniel wanted a reward, then he could earn it. Trouble was, Daniel just didn’t get it. He asked for a snack, I tell him that he had to potty first, and I’d wind up with a screaming toddler and feeling pretty frustrated myself. I love the sticker chart, because this time, Daniel has a visual representation of his progress with the potty. We put a sticker on, then count all the stickers that are on the chart, and it makes Daniel happy, because it’s something he really enjoys (and it helps him in his math skills too–gotta sneak that in). Yesterday, Daniel got his 30th sticker, which meant that he got a ‘present’: a pack of Thomas the Train Engine underwear.

I’m not saying that using the snacks was wrong–I just think that last year, he simply wasn’t ready. I can admit that now without feeling any guilt. I think that he’s a lot more ready now. And though the potty training last year was like doing a root canal on my son’s tooth all by myself, blindfolded, at midnight, I think that last year’s attempt had some benefit: it helped me prepare for this round and gave me a measure to compare against. And though I still have from time to time the occasional urge to rip the locks from my head whenever my son looks down at the puddle at his feet, I don’t have the urge to burst into tears and scream that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Because now, instead of blithely going on his merry way, Daniel will look at the puddle and say, “Oh, no! Wet! Let’s clean it, mommy. Let’s clean it!”

He ain’t trained yet. But we’re getting there. We got all summer to do so.

Happy Birthday, Kiddo…

Three years. That’s how long my son’s been on this planet now. Three full years.

Actually, I don’t know if there’s anything I can write here without it coming across as trite. I can gush and say how much of a sweetie he is, or I can wax poetic on how I carried him for eight months (that’s right, I said eight).

Three. He’s not a baby anymore, nor is he a full-blown kid yet. He’s somewhat stuck in between. I got me a threeager. Out of the blue, he doesn’t want to wear diapers anymore. He wants underpants. but he doesn’t understand the mechanics yet of the potty, so usually the underpants get full of pee (of course, I’m copping out by using Pull-ups instead of true underpants). He rages with the full force of his lungs now. At night, he has discovered that the use of “Mommy!” shrieked as loud as he could gets Mommy storming in…as opposed to when he was simply content to lie in his crib, quietly playing.

He’s going through another word explosion again, testing out phrases like “No, thank you,” and “That’s a F1-Bomber!” I fear the Word of the Day/Month will soon perish, because he speaks so clearly now. The other day, he bent down with his head on the floor and said, “Look Mommy! I’m upside down!” No more ‘uppy-down’, huh?

Ah well. I knew this will happen. Insert “Ah! my baby’s growing up!” comments here. But you know what? I don’t have time to sit here, feeling nostalgic, wishing for the days when he just laid in my arms and cooed. The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s pretty warm outside. I think I’m gonna treat my boy to a couple of hours at the park. Watch him run, arms and legs pumping, big fat grin spread across his face. Maybe put him on the big kid’s swing. Yeah, he’s old enough for that now.

Adventures in Potty Training, Prelude (or Thoughts of the “Chair” again…)

So a few weeks ago, my hubby says to me, “Looks like it’s getting warmer.”
I says, “Yep.”
He says, “Nice days again. Sunshine. Washing the car. Going to the park…”
I says, “Yep.”
He looks at me. “You know what that means, right?”
I look at him. “Nope.”
At this point, his mouth goes into super slo-mo, and I can see his lips coming together, then stretching out in a horrible rictus of revelation:

POTTTTTY TRRRRRAAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNGGGGG….”

Okay, I’m exaggerating. What I meant to write was that he said, “Potty training,” and a chorus of red devils rose up behind him, shrieking and pointing their pitchforks at me. “Potty training! Potty training! Potty training! Bleahhhh!!!” Then they wrapped me up in toilet paper and took me to a place where the Potty Song played over and over 25 hours a day and tiny naked urchins stomped and hooted and threw their body leavings on the floor and the walls and the ceiling, but never, never, the clean, pristine potty chair sitting in the middle of the floor…

You see? This is what happens when a writer gets upset. I only have to think about putting Daniel on the chair again and I start to hyperventilate and my hands start to shake. After the humiliating setback last year, I don’t even want to consider potty training again. They make size 6 diapers anyway. I can go on blissfully changing Daniel until the day he starts kindergarten and all the kids point and laugh at him because he’s still wearing a diaper, then he runs home, crying, and I will stand, pointing my finger at him, and say, “Well, that’s what you get for not learning to use the potty like I told you to when you were 2. Did you listen? Noooo…”

Yeah. Okay. Forget that last paragraph.

Truth is, the thought of trying to potty train Daniel again makes me cringe. My head says that I’m reluctant to do so only because I’m afraid of it failing again. I don’t want to get my hopes up for a week, then go into a major relapse. I don’t want to force Daniel into potty training if he doesn’t want to. It’s not like I have a magic button that automatically makes Daniel say, “Mommy, I have to go potty.” If I did, I could put that button to far better use (“I want a book contract.” Bzzz! “Done!”)

Granted, Daniel is a little older now than the last time we tried. He knows how to pull his pants down and up, which he didn’t do so well last time. And just yesterday, he completely surprised me by coming up to me and saying, “Mommy, change my diaper.” It seems that he’s no longer content to let his diaper fill up anymore. According to all the ‘books’, that indicates a certain ‘readiness’ for ‘clean underwear’.

I guess the only reason why I’m writing this entry is to psyche me up into doing it again. ‘Cause, after all, I will be the one doing the training. I’m the one who will have to patiently tell Daniel, “Let’s go to the potty!” And I need to realize that if he’s still not ready, then it’s okay. I haven’t failed. It just means that I’ll have to wait a little longer…

So I guess I’ll have to dig up the Over the Rhine’s “The Poopsmith Song” again…

Don’t Blame the Weather (or a life without Daniel, at least for two days)

Friday Night

It’s icky outside. A dark drizzle mists the world and we need to drive through it at the height of rush hour to get Daniel to his Nana’s. There’s a buildup on the I-290 extension that’s really a slowdown before you get to the real mess on I-55. Visibility is poor and tempers are high. I decide, Nuts to this–it’s quicker to take side streets. But the weather messes with my sense of direction. All I want to do is get to York Rd and take that to 294, which I know is nice and clear. But my windowshield is not. We make a couple turns through unfamiliar streets, and before I know it, we’re back on 290, but going the opposite way. Ironically, as I shout “Oh, no!”, They Might Be Giants “No!” starts playing on the CD player. Daniel is taking great delight in my frustration. “No, Mommy! No!”

It takes us 2 hours to get to my mother’s place whereas it normally takes 45 minutes.

Daniel loves his Nana. Dropping him off is easy. It’s like daycare. “Goodbye, Daniel!”
“Briana! (garbled) Nana…Auntie Krissee….(something, something) T.T!” Translation: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Beat it already. I’m gonna hang with Briana for a bit, then let Nana spoil me good and rotten. If I can work my charms on Auntie Krissee, I got it made. Then tomorrow, Auntie T.T. comes and it’s gonna be nothin’ but fun! fun! fun! It’s late, I don’t plan to go to sleep until 2am, and I don’t want you around because you’ll start crimpin’ my style, so get lost. Take your time comin’ back, here?

By the time we leave my Mother’s, sans Daniel, fog has rolled in and cut visibility down to a small patch in front and behind us. My hubby this time takes the wheel while I pass out for a bit in the passenger seat. I wake up later on to see the exit we should’ve taken pass right by us.

“Hey, uh…”
“Yeah. I think we missed our exit.”

Seeing that the next exit is not for ten miles, we wind up taking a huuuge detour. I’m in a waking dream, watching signs and cars emerge out of nothingness, a reverse dissolving, growing real until dematerializing back into misty gray. There are no landmarks; the fog has gobbled it up.

Behind us, the back seat is empty. The booster seat that normally takes up the center space is gone, currently squatting in my mother’s car. The emptiness that replaces it is a bit disturbing.

Saturday

When I had arranged this weekend for Daniel to go to his grandmother’s, my mind was rife with possibilities, most of them on the romantic side. We were going to go to a wedding reception that evening, so we would spend the full day taking advantage of us being a couple again. Lounging on the couch, watching movies, eating strawberries and cream, catching up on my reading, snuggling, sleeping. Sleeping. Sleeping…

My hubby had other plans.

We cleaned out Daniel’s room. Stripped his crib and washed his sheets. Picked up the books off the floor. Collected all the “Voyagers” lying around the house and put them in the dishwasher and/or silverware drawer. Got an oil change for the car.

We did manage to get a few romantic things in. But I ain’t gonna tell. It’s cloudy outside, but at least it’s a little warmer.

Saturday Night

The wedding reception is small, hosted by a band of Lithuanian women. I eat kugelis for the first time, as well as shredded beets and lots of pastries. There is lots of food, lots of wine and lots of drama. Everything that’s needed for a wedding reception. I’m glad we left Daniel at my mother’s. We would’ve spend the entire evening chasing him down, keeping him from getting obnoxious. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on other things.

Driving to and from the reception, I got Phil Keaggy’s Sunday’s Child playing on the CD player. One of my favorite songs is “Blessed be the Ties”:

Out of the single life into the family way,
So many scripted lines, so many roles to play.
Ever a pressure pressing, ever an undertow.
Why do the ties you’ve chosen slowly pull you low?

Over the things we love into the still unknown.
I had a dream last night I was finally left alone.
Nothing to tie me down, no one to kiss goodnight,
Never again to feel your whisper pull me to your side.

And oh, an emotion cries….
Oh, sing blessed be the ties….”

I want to play it over and over, making it into a prayer for for a friend of mine who had it rough tonight.

It’s late when we get back home, but I still want to catch up on a movie, so hubby and I watch “Sideways”. I loved being in wine country when I was in California, and I wanted an idyllic movie to put that feeling of driving past vineyards and picnicking and cruising into artistic context.

This movie is not that. It’s not idyllic. It’s not artistic. It sucks. Whoever said it was the best comedy of the year should get their own clothes robbed and they get dumped in the middle of the street, in broad daylight. Yuck.

Sunday

At church, a friend brings her 3-month-old cousin. I had looked forward to spending the morning trying to experience how life was pee-Daniel. But I can’t remember. Then my eyes fall upon this little girl, and all my maternal instincts rise up enforce, startling me with their intensity. I spend the time after church holding the girl, sitting crosslegged on the floor, watching her suck on a bottle while her slate eyes regard me. I remember that gaze from two years ago.

I keenly want to experience it again. Which is strange. Have I forgotten how miserable I was? The late nights? The little sleep? The feelings of inadequacy and absolute uselessness? Am I nuts for wanting it again? The girl sighs in my arms. Her fist grips my finger tightly. She won’t let go.

The weather is gorgeous. Blue skies. Low 70s. We go out afterwards to eat at Noodles & Company. We sit outside for the first time this year. The breeze is gentle–it keeps tugging a loc of hair into my eyes. I brush aside, then realize that this is the first time I had to do that with my hair for the longest time, ever since I went natural. It feels wonderful, that I can shake my head and feel my locs bounce about. I wonder how long they will be by this time next year.

I’m already planning my day for tomorrow, where it supposed to be in the upper 70s. Going without Daniel for the weekend is nice, but I want to see him run around in the grass. Take him to a park. Let him yell and scream.

He screams, all right, when we drive back to my mother’s. What? The fun is over?! NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Later, we drive back. The expressways are clear. The night is dark. I’m driving, since hubby needs to get up in the morning. Daniel is knocked out in the back seat–all the fun he had finally caught up with him. But then, my hubby puts on Dr. Demento, and Daniel’s head pops up. “Bridge!” he says as he points to an overpass. I glance behind me to see his dark eyes shining, wide awake and amused. It’s nice to see him back there again.

Yeah, it’s nice to have him back. Even when we finally get home and he starts shrieking in rage because he has to go to bed.

Is there another writer in the works?

This week, Daniel has been putting a different spin on our storytime before he takes his nap. Normally, I read three picturebooks to him before putting him down for his nap, but twice this week, he brought the book, “Jamberry”, to me, but wanted to read it himself. A two-year-old reading a book aloud to me. This is something I gotta see. So I said, “Go ahead.”

Jamberry(A quick synopsis for those who have no clue what Jamberry is–it’s a short rhyming tale of a little boy and a brown bear and their adventures picking berries. The pictures are gorgeous: every blueberry, every blackberry is done in detail, and the rhyming is short but addictive (“One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry./Finger and pawberry, my berry, your berry.”) If you have young ‘uns, get it. It’s cute and fun.)

Daniel opened the book and spinned a long, rambling tale about a little boy and a brown bear and their adventures picking berries. Although he knows the text of the story by heart, he throws it out the window and instead goes by the pictures, using nouns quite liberally with a smattering of verbs, and a whole bunch of other words that, quite frankly, made more sense to him than to me. (Which makes me wonder offhand–is that how he hears me when I read stories to him?) Once he finished “reading” that page, he said, “Go, Mommy!” which was my signal to turn to the next page. The story definitely sounded more interesting in his words. He even managed to get in his flavor of the month–rockets–into the story and it made somewhat sense.

It’s obvious from this that his imagination is taking off. All the childhood books and advice state that this is usually the age when it happens, when toddlers start picturing the possibilities and making up their own stories and games and such. But please, just for a moment, can you indulge a writer mama here? Good.

Could this mean that there’s the possibility of another writer in the family?

I remember being a kid in second grade, growing bored with the word lists we had to learn and memorize. I would flip ahead in our spelling book, moving on to harder and harder lists, and the way I learned them was simple. I made a long, rambling story out of each of them. You gave me a list, I used them in a story, oftentimes making it up on the spot. If I didn’t know what a word meant, I looked it up in a dictionary or got my parents to tell me. To me, it was just a fun game to make a boring class palatable, but today, I recognize the important creative skills of freewriting. Just making it up as you go, not caring how nonsensical it sounded. If you think about it, every kid playing with dolls or trains have the skill of making it up as you go. Writers take that, train it up, and use that to make cool stories.

So am I seeing a seed in Daniel of that skill? Will it be possible to nurture it, hone it into something he can use?

Oh, I’m guessing I can. And as I hear him babble nonsense while recognizing every other word, I can’t help but feel a little smug. This is my son exhibiting the same traits I showed when I was a kid, my mind crows. I could nurture it, be his teacher, bring him up in the arts of writing. And maybe, he’ll become a good writer. No, a great writer. Maybe he’ll be so good, he’ll even reach my level…or perhaps even surpass it. What if, in fact, he becomes better than me? What if he becomes the 10-figure salaried writer, popular all over the world, instead of me. He would be my rival instead of my pupil. I don’t like that. That can’t happen. There can only be ONE great writer in this family, and I’m it! Forget that! I gotta squash that writer’s instinct in him, NOW! THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!

Or…I can be just making a mountain out of a molehill. Geez, he’s only two. For all I know, the only reason why he wants to read a book himself is so he could stretch out the reading time longer than usual so he won’t get dumped into bed so soon.

So, I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy him reading to me. And if I take a quick snooze while he does so, I’m sure he won’t mind. It’s a win-win situation.

Random Points of Thought

Three blog postings for the price of one…

* * *

It’s confirmed. My son has turned into a Trekkie.

It was bound to happen. Seeing that the only adult shows we watch anymore are Voyager, Star Trek TNG, and Mythbusters, Daniel has taken a sudden interest in rockets (nothing from the Mythbusters, though I’m pretty sure that when he starts getting a little older, he’ll start testing out myths of his own like is it true that gravity always works if I jump off the stairs? or if I throw a crayon in the dryer, will Mommy get mad?)

I have one thing to say about the toddler mind. It truly is quite the imaginative tool. In my son’s hands, anything long and sticklike instantly becomes a rocket. Pens. Legos. Forks. Spoons (my husband especially gets a kick out of this for some reason. “Yes, Daniel, you’re right. That is Voyager!”). Brushing teeth has suddenly gone from being the bane of evil to a golden opportunity for the Enterprise to explore the rocky plains of DanDanMouth.

I’d never thought I’d be reduced to singing the Star Trek theme song to the beat of brushing my son’s molars, but whatever works, my friends. Whatever works. It’s a step up from singing the brushing song from Teletubbies.

There is one drawback to this. Whenever Seven of Nine shows up, my son drools. I don’t know if this is still a throwback to his babyish ways, or if he’s just mimicking his father…

* * *

So far this week, I’ve been to the hospital twice. Once to get some labwork done to check my cholesterol, once to take a friend in for minor surgery. I’ll probably be going back again soon since another friend will be having a baby soon.

It’s nice to visit a hospital nowadays without a cloud of horrible, horrible anxiety and dread going through you.

Last summer, Daniel got a febrile seizure that landed him in a hospital. We would’ve simply sweated it out if it wasn’t for the fact that he got the seizure not in our hometown, but way in California. The day of my sister-in-law’s wedding. The one I was supposed to be the matron-of-honor.

That day, a hospital became an instrument of torture. Hearing Daniel screaming, “All done! All done!” Watching the nurses mess up getting blood out of him. Having to return the next day and waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting…more blood tests… more screaming…waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting…learning that the blood tests got messed up because the nurses waited too long…

I remember looking out of the window at the parking lot and seeing the California sky darken to dusk and thinking, This is hell. Absolutely hell. Not knowing a thing, hearing my son screaming in pain. This is absolute, absolute. Hell.

Today, I sat in the hospital with a very efficient staff who actually let us know what was happening, step by step. The wait time went by very fast, and they had orderlies who personally brought me a cranberry juice drink and told me to relax, things will go fine. Dang, they even had reclining chairs for us.

It’s been a while since I’ve been at a hospital and thought, Hey. This is nice. Reeeeallly nice.

Figures it would be in Naperville.

* * *

I was telling my dear hubby about some things that’s been happening in Willow. Things I’ve never expected; a simple scene has suddenly taken off in a new direction, landing my characters in extreme danger. I let the scene go on, letting it build and build, and just when things got really hard, suddenly the bad guys came into the mix…

And the chapter ended. Right there on a cliffhanger. I wanted to scream, Augh! What happens next? I wanna know what happens next!

Which is goofy, because I already know what happens next. The scene has already played this new development in my mind over and over, turning a jigsaw puzzle piece this way and that, trying to figure out how fits into the story. But in a strange way, I also know that once I put my fingers to the keyboard and the words start stuttering out, then, basically, anything goes. What I have planned for weeks (sometimes, even months) may not necessarily end up that way.

My hubby shook his head. “The way you’re telling it, it’s like you’re reading the story at the same time that you’re writing it.” And I thought to myself. Yeah. In a sense, I am.

Technically, I’m this book’s first reader. And if I’m at the edge of my seat reading this stuff as it comes out, hopefully someone else will be.

* * *

Final thought. I realize that I’m probably ripping off Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper in doing my blog this way. But it’s not plagiarism. Really. It’s not. It’s a homage. Yeah, that’s what I’ll call it. Homage.

Daniel’s word of the day going bi-monthly

I’ve come to a realization: I’m running out of things to put in the “Daniel’s Word of the Week” box.

When I first created the box, it was fun. Daniel was babbling out so many things that made sense only to him, it was easy to phonetically record his words, with hilarious results. I figured he had so many, I can have enough material to do it until he at least turn three.

To my surprise, that well is drying up faster than I thought.

My son, who previously only dipped his toe into the wordpool, has decided to cannonball in. Over the past few weeks, his word usage has increases exponentially, to the effect it almost leaves my head spinning. It started when he suddenly realized he existed in that important pronoun: “I”.

“I want Cheerios,” he’ll say pointing to the refrigerator. I’ll frown at him.

“What do you say?”

A wide grin will cross his face. “Pleeeeeeease!”

He’ll come in later, wiping his tears away, “Mommy, I feel sad.”

“You’re sad? Why?”

“It’s James,” he’ll point to his train, which has disconnected its cars and he has tried to put together again with little success.

Stuff he used to garble he’ll say as clear as day now. No longer does he say “Sore ezz.” He’ll gladly call out “Dinosaur!” He’ll even name certain types. “Brontosaur!” “Trachydon!” I didn’t even knew there was a dinosaur called a trachydon.

What gets me is that he’s beginning to understand concepts we, as adults, take fully for granted. When playing with his trains, he’ll say, “Faster!” and the train will race along the floor. “Slower!” The engine creeps. “Stop!” He’ll say; the train grumbles to a halt. “Go!” The train chugs along.

Right before my eyes, my son is emerging from his baby chrysalis. Oh, the tantrums and the diapers still remind me that, yes, he still has a long way to go. But one day, I’m going to turn around, and a snot-nosed child will be standing where a snot-nose toddler used to be, saying, “Mom! We gotta go to Ryan’s house! He’s got a new train set I just gotta see!”

Actually, he does say that now, though it’s more like “Ryan’s house? Train! Let’s go, Mommy, let’s go!”

I’m not going to do away with the Word of the Day, but I think I’ll slow down and go bi-monthly, updating it on the 1st and the 15th. Daniel still has a few gems up his sleeve. I need to record his babyish words as long as he still is a baby. It reminds me of the fun side of being a toddler.

Besides, if I don’t, his grandma will kill me.

Beware the Daniel-Ninja!

Who’s that sneaking about, all dressed in black, with nothing showing but his beautiful sloe-eyes? It’s the Daniel-Ninja. Do not be put off by his size. He will whip you up and down until next Thursday.

Daniel-Ninja cares not that it’s towards the end of ‘Dress as a Ninja Day’. Time does not exisdaniel-ninjat for Daniel-Ninja. He follows no rules, no boundaries. If it’s ten o’clock at night, is he asleep like good little boys his age? No! Daniel-Ninja cares not for sleep! He will continue jumping in his crib until you cry for mercy. He is Daniel-Ninja. He will rule you!

Look out for Daniel-Ninja! He is crafty with his mad-ninja skills. He can run very fast, faster if it’s time to take a bath. He’ll slip right through your hands. He can disappear into the background. Calling his name won’t bring him out. You’ll need to flush him out with a well-placed Thomas the Train Engine. But Daniel-Ninja does not fall for such tricks. He will run circles around you, around and around and around and around, until you grow dizzy and faint. Then, he will jump on you, again and again and again, until you plead for mercy. But there is no mercy from the Daniel-Ninja. He simply laughs at your calls for help. Sometimes, he’ll even mimic your pathetic cry. “Help! Somebody help me!” he’ll shout, gleefully.

Daniel-Ninja has many weapons in his arsenal. A scream that will shatter your eardrums. Tiny feet that are sharp when kicking. A very hard head, useful for headbutting. And, when he is truly in need of escape, his very favorite weapon–lethal gas, coming from his pellets of doom that will have one gasping on the floor, praying for death.

The Daniel-Ninja. Fear Him!

Still chugging along…

It’s been quiet at the cafe. The leaves are gone from most of the trees, leaving their stark bare branches to hold up the sky, which has been a smeary gray as late. In the cafe itself, most of the tables are empty. Clientele is low, except for the guy with the goatee reading the tech manual in the corner–he’ll never leave. The waitress yawns, but keeps refilling his cup with decaf coffee for lack of anything else to do. Looks like it’s getting to be Thanksgiving time.

I’m doing pretty good. Most of the flu symptoms are gone except for a lingering sore throat and a voice that’s better placed on those ‘call 976-Debbie’ late night ads. Definitely not the type of voice to read Goodnight Moon. Daniel seems to take his Mommy’s hoarse voice in stride. This has also taught me well about disciplining him. Now, instead of raising my voice to yell, I get this real intense whisper right up in his face. “What. Are. You. Doing?!”. If the behavior escalates, it’s dumping him in his crib for five minutes. I still can’t believe how a time-out suddenly makes him cooperate. We all need time-outs in life.

I’m still chugging along with Willow. I’m aiming for 40,000+ words this week. I’m quite surprised how I’m zooming through all these chapters. Not bad for someone who didn’t plot this part of the book out. It’s easy to do so knowing that what I’m putting down now is really only a foundation to build on–when I go back over it next year, I get to decide what stays and what goes. It will be very interesting to see how this develops.

Okay, enough musing. I got another 3000 words to write today (hopefully). I have cornbread and chicken stock to make, then later tonight I have to start on macaroni and cheese. Tomorrow, I’m going to make my grandmother’s cornbread stuffing for the first time ever. November seems to be a month of risktaking.

Flu shots? We don’t need no stinking–Ouch!…Aw man….THUNK!

This week, I made it to 30,000 words. But barely. Juuuust barely.

Stupid flu shot.

I know these things are pretty controversial. What’s the point of getting a flu shot when the virus keeps mutating to the point that it’s possible that you can catch an even worse variation of the flu, rendering the shot you painfully got useless? But wouldn’t it be nice to be covered just in case you come across the same version of flu you got vaccinated with, and all your family is falling down spewing, and you just laugh, “Ha! Ha! Ha! I’ve been vaccinated, you poor losers! Who needs another Pepto Bismal dosage?”

Well, okay, I wasn’t thinking about that at all when I went to get the shot on Wednesday. My hubby’s job was having a health fair, so we thought it would be good to get some up to date shots, check on our cholesterol and what not. Hey, it’s covered under our insurance. What the heck. I’m pretty sure if I had any side effects, they’ll be pretty slight. So I went and got the shot.

Things were going pretty well until midday. I was running chores with Daniel when suddenly I got that woozy feeling. You know, when you’re standing in place and the whole world decides to tilt 45 degrees to the left. That’s not good, I thought and decided to go home for the day, where I spent the rest of the day vegging on the couch. Bummer considering that I had a nice recipe for spicy lamb soup I had wanted to try.

But it’s okay, I thought in a naive, sickness addled way. Tomorrow I’ll be better. This shouldn’t last long. And on Thursday, I even rose early to write a bit, thinking that I was fine.

Oh, how foolishly wrong I was. I went to get Daniel from his crib, and I could barely lift him, I was aching all over. I turned the heat in the house up, and kept shaking with the chills. I tried to do some housework, but had to lie down every couple of minutes. When I realized it was noon and I was still in my pajamas, I had to concede. These weren’t side effects. This was the freaking flu!

Before Daniel was born, getting sick was like getting a mini-vacation. Sure, I felt awful, but I got a chance to lie around at home with a box of tissues, sleeping all day and watching TV. My favorite was watching kiddie programs, like Calliou and Dragon Tales, pretending that I had a child and that this would be the stuff he or she watched. It was a nice way to escape the office.

But now I’m a stay at home mom. And you know what? Two year olds don’t care if you’re sick or not. They still expect you to play and make their breakfast and change their diaper (wait, what am I saying? Daniel doesn’t care about that at all…) and basically keep to the normal schedule of things. They don’t understand the words, “Mommy’s sick.” Nope. They will jump on you and slap your face to wake you up, and if you don’t respond, they do it again. Harder. There is no escape. None.

Thursday was a very abnormal day for Daniel. All Mommy did is lay on the sofa, groaning. He did get a good deal in that he watched a lot of Elmo, Thomas, HiggleyTown Heros and Teletubbies. He even got to watch stuff that Mommy normally wouldn’t let him watch, like Between the Lions and Bob the Builder. Whatever guilt Mommy felt for letting him watch so much TV was currently dumped in the toilet, along with her lunch. She didn’t yell at him when he played with the family room blinds, or got into the tissue box and pulled tissues; she just stared at him through her Nyquil-induced haze. He was a little upset when she dumped him in his crib a little earlier than usual, though, without the normal taking the nap routine, but he got over it soon enough. At least, I think he got over it. Good thing that Daddy came home early, because Mommy was knocked out for the count that day.

Needless to say, I did not write.

I’m doing a lot better now. I still got a nasty cough, and my throat feels like chewed meat, but the aches and pains are gone and the ground feels solid beneath my feet again. That’s good, because at this very moment, Daniel is coming up the stairs, saying, “Mommy? Mommy! Wharyu doin?” He’s also been extremely loving, wanting to crawl into my lap and giving me hugs every minute. I think, in his own way, he’s trying to say that he really missed me and he’s glad I’m doing better.

I do know one thing. If I ever decide to get another flu shot, I’m going to do it on a Friday so if I get sick, at least it will be over a weekend, when hubby is home. That’s right. I going to plan in advance the next time I get sick. Hey babe, are you doing anything the second weekend of November next year? No? Good. I’m going to schedule my next flu shot for that time…

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