More of the same

I lamented to Otto this morning that “I don’t have anything interesting to write about!” Otto—deeply embroiled in the home stretch of grading and finishing up the semester—gave me several suggestions of guffaw-worthy student gaffes, none of which I’m actually going to share. That’s mostly because they’re not my stories, but also because I don’t want Otto to lose his job. He’s so nice to the students’ faces; there’s no need for them to know he makes fun of them here at home.* Um. Oops?

See, the problem is that all I want right now is… nothing. No drama. No excitement. I want boring and predictable and utterly ordinary. I’m not sure we’ve quite gotten there, but we’re getting closer. And I like it, but it doesn’t make for fantastic storytelling, in general.

NEWSFLASH: With about half an acre of safely gated area in which to roam, my rotten dog only ever wants to go find (and apparently roll in) the one plant (which I cannot locate to save my life) which immediately spits tiny green burrs all over her fur. That’s what passes for excitement here right now, and I know, it’s pretty boring.

[Not that I don’t really enjoy locating and picking off all of those burrs while she glares at me like it’s MY fault she’s so beleaguered. That’s superfun. Yes.] [Also from the Licorice files: There is also apparently a small pine tree somewhere out there which I’ve yet to locate. But the pine sap, I know EXACTLY where that is. Because crunchy, pine-smelling fur goes really well with tiny green burrs.]

* * * * *

So did I mention that Chickadee had strep throat again? Because she did. Maybe she picked it up during one of her 57 doctors’ appointments last week. And you know—call me crazy!—but I am starting to feel like JUST MAYBE taking my immuno-compromised kid to all of these germy waiting rooms may not be such a great idea. Nutso, right? Maybe if I simply must continue doing it, I can get her a teen-sized hamster ball thing to travel in. Or I could have her wear a surgical mask, because the only thing Chickie likes BETTER than being sick is people staring at her like she’s sick!

The latest round of blood tests threw us a new bit of fun, too. It seems she’s now Vitamin D deficient? Not a bit deal, and easy enough to supplement, but THANK GOODNESS for another daily pill, because that honkin’ pill case I load up for her every week still had a little room in it. Ahem.

* * * * *

Monkey is not without his own little medical adventures, too, y’know. Since discovering that his sinus issues continue apace he’s been on constant antibiotics, and we went back to the ENT to find out if things were better. Of course, I didn’t have very high hopes.

“He’s still got that weird little cough, at night, you know?” I told him. “There’s still some drainage going on, even with the antibiotics. I dunno.” The doc checked his hearing (better), looked in his ears and then reached in there with a big scary metal thing and plucked out his tubes (which were just hanging out in some earwax), peered up his nose, and then talked Monkey into having some numbing spray applied to his throat. Once Monkey was all but howling “IT TASTES WEIRD! IT FEELS WEIRD! WHAT DID YOU DO??”, the ENT stuck a little camera scope aaaaaaall the way to the back of his throat and took a look around.

“I know it’s going to sound crazy,” he said, finally, “but I think we’ve been overlooking something. Any chance he has reflux?”

This was bewildering. “Uh, he had reflux as a baby…? But I don’t know about now.”

Then I was treated to an interesting lesson about “silent reflux” and how it can actually get so bad that it causes… sinus infections. Even with Monkey’s silent, um, EVERYTHING, that just seemed preposterous. But we accepted a prescription for Prevacid and said we’d give it a shot.

The cough is completely gone. Huh.

* * * * *

The pool is open for the season, though you understand that opening the pool in May means it’s plenty hot outside to swim, but the water is still really cold.

Owning a pool is a colossal pain in the ass (just ask Otto, who does the lion’s share of our pool maintenance). It’s time-consuming and expensive and you know how I feel about the occasional surprises I find in the skimmer basket (bleah). But it’s totally worth it when Monkey jumps in and refuses to get out until I notice that his lips are blue.

We had some of Otto’s students over for a barbecue this weekend, and it happened to be unseasonably hot that day, even for here. I saw several of them glance longingly at the pool as we sat up on the deck, sweltering. (I have often suggested to Otto that he make the student gathering a swim party, and he always looks… somewhat stricken, really. “I… don’t think I’m ready for college students in our pool,” he says.) We fed the students and they were all very polite and sweet, and the minute the last one left, I turned to the kids, all three of them [we had borrowed Mario for the afternoon], and said, “Okay, pool’s open, go get your suits on.” The boys were a blur as they ran inside, whooping and hollering.

Chickadee was a bit slower, but within 5 minutes everyone was in the pool. (I even dipped in to cool off, but it’s still too cold to stay in if you’re over 12, I’m convinced.)

We spent over an hour watching the boys splash and play and have a blast, and when they’d both turned into blue-lipped prunes, we made them get out. They complained, then they went inside to play Minecraft.

“It’s almost like having a regular kid,” Otto said to me, watching the boys play together.

“Shhhhhhhhh,” I said. Some miracles are best enjoyed quietly.

* * * * *

There are 10 days left before our family is done with middle school forever. I suppose most people would find this time bittersweet, but I am so ready to be done with this year, this chapter, everything that reminds me of any of it. All we have to get through now is all the final stuff (exams, band concert, field trips, field day) and then the “moving on” ceremony—not a graduation ceremony, NO NO NO, because you don’t graduate until 12th grade. STAY IN SCHOOL, KIDS! Because clearly if they called it “8th grade graduation” otherwise dedicated students would drop out of school right then and there.

Not that I have any opinions on that little bit of syntactical spin, of course. But whatever. 10 days and it’s all history.

* * * * *

Like I said, nothing earth-shattering is going on. I’m hoping it stays that way.

*Otto never ever makes fun of his students, actually. He only occasionally laments that their brains are not yet fully formed, is all.


  1. Leandra

    I have actually heard that about reflux before. And now I’m kind of wondering if that might be what’s causing Caroline’s cough? She had reflux as a child and I know she has occasional bouts of it still. No sinus infections for us though (knock wood!!), just several bouts of strep.

    You might not be able to share about Ottos’ student’s, but I can share something one of my brother’s students asked him. My brother got his tenure letter last week. A student asked him how long it took him to get tenure and my brother replied, “Eight years.” “Well, why do they call it ten year then?” *head, desk*

  2. Lisa

    Whether it gives you material or not, boring is good! Embrace the boring! But I know you know that.

  3. Tara

    Two years ago, my husband and I experienced something so shocking and weird and frightening, that I pined for the time when life would be boring again. Boring is good, I’d say. I lost all appreciation for surprises, even good ones. My husband spent our courting years always surprising me with small trips or gifts or whatever. Now I want to know what’s happening every.single.step.of.the.way. Boring is good.

  4. Lady M

    Vitamin D comes in cheerful chewable gummies, if you’re looking for a more entertaining vitamin.

  5. Chuck

    Hooray for boring!

  6. Kate

    I teach in a middle school so I know exactly what you speak of with regard to PROMOTION! The problem here is that, if we called it graduation, students would arrive in limos and wear tuxedos and prom dresses. Some parents are idiots, so we call it promotion!!

  7. bonuela

    re:reflux a friend’s oldest never ate anything without a fight, literally from the day she was born. was diagnosed with failure to thrive, but she had no reflux symptoms at all. once her younger brother presented with typical reflux symptoms they put her on meds and BAM she is eating and growing just like any other kid.

  8. bonuela

    p.s. the point of that story was to prevent any possible guilt you might try to fling upon yourself.

  9. Brigid

    I’m convinced most people are walking around Vit D deficient. It’s not on the normal lab panel, so unless you ask for it, there’s no way to know. They keep upping my Vit D dose every 6 months assuming THIS TIME will be enough. Heh. Not yet, anyway.

    My son’s lymph nodes behind his ears were swollen for 3 years. 3 years!! We did rounds of antibiotics with little change, had his grossly infected tonsils and adenoids removed, no change. Finally tried eliminating dairy because of a tidbit I read somewhere. 2 weeks the lymph nodes were totally normal. Huh. His immune response to dairy was wreaking havoc.

    Hope the reflux solves one of your medical mysteries. And here’s to a peaceful summer for all! *clinks glasses with you*

  10. dad

    I thnk “well planned” is a reasonable compromise between “boring” and “surprising or unexpected.”
    If, and only if, one is not a control freak.

    I think I better stop there.

  11. Karen R.

    Wow! Do those personal air cleaners work? Perhaps that would help Chickadee. While not exactly unobtrusive, they don’t look quite as weird as a surgical mask.

    Wonderful news that you may have found the cause for Monkey’s sinus issues. I believe it — I once had a persistent cough that disappeared once I treated my heartburn. Which, BTW, went away for good after a round of orange oil capsules a few years ago.

    Enjoy the pool.

  12. BethRD

    I’m here to second Brigid on everyone being Vitamin D deficient when checked. My husband is so pale he’s practically transparent, and he refuses to wear sunscreen unless I shame him into it, and he was recently told he was deficient and should take supplements. I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly absorb enough Vitamin D to not be deficient if he can’t. I can’t help but think whatever number they’re testing against had a 0 added to the end by mistake or something.

  13. Angela

    I’ve recently read several studies that have discovered that over 90% of the population is vitamin D deficient. Now that I say that, I wish I could actually remember where I read that…….Okay fine, I looked it up on WebMD,, and it does mention a vegetarian diet is a problem, and obviously you get alot from sunlight, too. :-) Poor Chickie, doesn’t bode well for her! Eh, just take the pills….

  14. Chris of the Woodwork

    Five years ago I came down with what I called The Neverending Cough. It lasted six months, and I was about to cash in the life insurance policy over it.

    I went to the GP, who couldn’t fix it, then to an ENT. Thinking it was drainage, I was shocked when he said he wanted to do an endoscopy to check for a hernia. Turns out I had a hiatal hernia that was allowing stomach acid up high enough to warrant the cough. Had the hernia repaired after courses of Nexium and have not had a problem since.

  15. Katherine

    We don’t have any sort of ceremony at all at the end of 8th grade. There is the normal honors awards ceremony, but no party, no promotion, nothing. Closest thing to it is the 8th grade dance (happened several weeks ago) that they have to stress to parents and kids is NOT a prom. There are to be NO limos or tuxes. I must admit that the idea of a limo to an 8th grade dance would never have occurred to me. Have fun with the promotion ceremony – but are you really done with middle school since Monkey is still middle school aged?

  16. liz

    Boring is good, and my mom has reflux. She cut out citrus and coffee, and is much better now.

    Just a heads-up also that one of your ads seems to crash Firefox every so often. Don’t know which one, though.

  17. Nancy

    Just something to remember about re-flux. Having dealt with it all of my adult life, if your prescription rises to an unreasonable $50 per month as mine did a while ago, Walmart has a generic on-shelf Prevacid for MUCH less than a prescription or name-brand.

    Also, this can happen in the elderly too, and can be misdiagnosed for a long time.

  18. Jen

    I’ll third the vitamin D. I was having some horrible symptoms last year and really had gotten to the point I thought something was very wrong…..MS, lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis. My primary doctor finally ran a ton of blood tests and the only thing that came back was a severe vitamin D deficiency. Within two weeks of taking daily vitamin D supplements almost all my debilitating symptoms were gone and within a month they were all gone. Good luck and I hope the vitamin D helps with some of Chickie’s symptoms.

  19. Karen

    Are you telling me… the school actually decided to call 8th grade graduation something other than… 8th grade graduation… because… it might give them the idea that they COULD be all done, if they so choose? …. Soooo…like, they’re insisting you call it a MOVING ON ceremony? say it isn’t so. We’re getting way..way… way… too sensitive. Ofcourse that’s just my opinion.

    Anyway!.. Boring is good! WE LIKE BORING IN MIR WORLD :-)

    We decided against a pool here at this house (we’ve had two) because as you said… they really are a gigantic pain in the @$$.

  20. RuthWells

    SILENT REFLUX. Yes. I went through a period several years ago where I would lose my voice for several days at a time for no apparent reason. At first I blamed asthma, loaded up on asthma meds, and… kept losing my voice. Finally went to an ENT, who asked me whether I had reflux. Um – no? Not that I’m aware of? Turned out I had massive reflux and acid was continually bathing a cyst on my vocal chord.

    Yay for Previcid!

  21. karenp

    Here’s to a nice, calm, boring summer.

  22. Katie K.

    I am with you on embracing the boring. Enjoy it! My kiddos all had reflux as babies and I am pretty sure at least my oldest (15) still does. He gets an acid taste in his mouth if he eats too close to bedtime. However, since he eats non-stop these days, I guess it doesn’t bother him too much. (He is currently cooking a little pizza for himself as an appetizer for the pizza we are having for supper in about an hour.)

  23. Amy

    Oh that mask idea is so tempting isn’t it? I’ve been immuno-suppressed for 4.5 years and I long for something like that. The problem is that the mask just gives bacteria a lovely warm, moist place to live right in front of her face. People who are sick should wear masks to prevent the bugs getting out, people who are ‘well’ should not wear masks as it encourages any nasty bugs to stick around.

    One trick some of my fellow chronically ill people try is asking the nurse/doctor to let them wait in their car until their appointment. Sometimes doctors are cool with it, sometimes they’re not. It is worth asking. The other one to try is to get the first appointment of the day if you can, then there’s no one else in the room (in theory).

    I was 25 when I got sick and it was hard, I can’t imagine how much harder it is when you’re 12. Tell Chickie it does get easier eventually and to hang in there.

  24. Tenessa

    And yet, somehow, you make the mundane highly entertaining!

    I like the “Moving On” ceremony idea. I think we graduate far too many times as kids. It takes away something. :)

  25. Megan

    I spent quite a bit of time in an office next to the person whose job it was to cope with the little freshman-english lambs who would come down the hall and bleat about the unfairness of life and the cold cruel world of university. The day I heard ‘okay, let’s start with the comma, shall we?’ was the day I decided to close my door and pretend really hard that the current little freshies were NOT going to be paying for my social security some day. So yes, thank you in so many ways for not telling the Otto-based student tales (although I imagine they are fab).

    Meanwhile, boring is a WONDERFUL place and much to be desired. I hope that you get there. I hope that the rest of the year is, ‘oh dear, I have no blog fodder, I think I’ll post cute photos of the dog and daily updates on how the tomatoes are faring.’ I think you’ve totally earned at least six months of scrambling for content because of the beautiful, lovely, fantastic boringness of life without chaos.

    However – I would point out that with such clever and creative and entertaining children, even when the medical stuff is sorted, things are unlikely to be very boring!

  26. Daisy

    Middle school for our son (blind, Asperger’s) was a nightmare. His 8th grade year was the most difficult, no, most hellish in his entire schooling. And given how awful his first grade year was, that’s saying something.

    I hope your middle school years were not as bad as ours, and I really really REALLY hope that high school is a welcoming place for Monkey.

  27. addy

    Here’s to boring! And the end of Middle School. I was never so happy to have my daughter move on…… horrible horrible place.

  28. Meri

    Oh, I had the reflux cough, too! I still occasionally lose the high register of my singing range if it flares up. It’s just such a weird thing. Costco has OTC reflux meds cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found (although I’ve not checked Walmart, it’s too far). The Mayo clinic page on GERD covers all the non-drug stuff I do to help; hopefully your doctor gave you the list already.

    I am hoping for a boring May, too. I’ve had a lot of good and bad stresses over the past month (surprise! Anaphylactic allergies!) and it’s just too much.

  29. Patty

    Does Chickie get strep often? Is PANDAS still a thing? And, anxiety and Asperger’s can look a lot alike. I took my now 21 year old in for two evaluations for Asperger’s when he was younger. The results – inconclusive. Generalized Anxiety Disorder yes, Asperger’s they weren’t sure about. (This was a teaching university hospital. Coincidentally, he just had a blood test that showed him to be Vitamin D deficient.

  30. kathy

    hoping for good results with the prevacid. down here school ends at what is probably the equivalent of 8th (3rd of secundaria) and as such graduation is a big thing. What is weird is that there is no graduation from 3rd of prepa (pretty equivalent to 4th year of highschool as we go 13 years here). Sad that government schooling only goes for 9 years though.

  31. brigitte

    Ooh, I’ll have to llok into that reflux thing, I’ve had a cough forever!

    And, yay, boring! I’m up for more affronted, burr-covered Licorice stories anytime. Our kitty gets those little round green burrs. I have seen the plant, but it’s the most innocuous looking thing, I forget now what it looked like.

  32. Joanne

    Freakin’ new secret kind of reflux. I was just diagnosed too. I can’t say I really believe yet, since I have no symptoms other than the post-nasal drip and unending throat clearing…. but we have only tried regulating acid in my diet as a solve… have not yet tried drugs…. maybe I’ll go get some OTC stuff to try until next appointment.

    Makes me wonder — this new “secret” “silent” reflux — is it the new medical trend of 2012, or is it something real.

  33. Aimee

    Boring is my favorite.

  34. Kelly

    The acid reflux was my diagnosis also. The other suggestion my doctor made was not eating anything 3 hours before bed. I could only drink water in that 3 hours. It made a world of difference and I lost 15 lbs!

  35. Kelly Allan

    It’s the little things…

  36. MomCat

    Boring is wonderful!

    Don’t let college students swim in your pool if you want to ever feel okay in your swimsuit again. They don’t realize how fantastic their young bodies are (or maybe they do, but nonetheless it doesn’t do a middle-aged ego a bit of good.) (Unless you’re a pilates/yoga/triathelete, in which case :P)

  37. Meri

    Joanne, I got diagnosed 9 years ago, so not new. My latest prescription says to take my 2nd pill of the day 2 hours after my last meal. They’re so tricksy. Either way, I don’t eat before bed.

  38. Tracy

    I am Vitamin D deficient as well. I was diagnoised about 2 years ago. I take 50,000 icu 3 times a week. And my doctor has prescribed 15 minutes of sunshine daily. I’m doing that part for now until it gets over 85° and then that’s that.

    I’m ready for some boring myself.

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