One flu over the Mexican nest

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:20 am

That is not a very good title. So it goes.

I’m a little perplexed by this whole swine flu thing (H1N1 or whatever). As far as I can tell, it seems like not really too big a deal. This is in no way to downplay the deaths in Mexico or the one death in the U.S. of the toddler who came from Mexico for treatment—I hear a vaccine is in the works, and I hope it is successful and adequately administered to those at risk. But disease exists in many forms, and for the most part, this hasn’t been worse than the regular old flu.

Excerpted from the L.A. Times:

As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza — at least in its current form — isn’t shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.

In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.

So why the freakout?  I have my suspicions that there’s some racism involved.  I’m not sure people would be talking about closing the border with Canada if this were focused in the north.  There’s also the unfortunate association with pigs, which just contributes to the “Dirty Mexicans are going to kill us with their dirty disease!” mentality.

Maybe I’m just thinking wishfully and downplaying the facts because I don’t want anything to disrupt our vacation to the Bahamas next month, but it does seem like people are reaching a level of panic that is more based in emotion and prejudice than evidence.  Also, I think we’re a lot more likely to encounter people who have recently been to Mexico in Iowa than in the Bahamas.

I’m a long-time fan of handwashing (and Miles is shaping up to be as well; he particularly loves rubbing his hands together with soap or lotion on them), and I think some basic precautions can go a long way, like President Obama mentioned in his speech last night.

Speaking of Miles, he did something funny last night.  I was getting some asparagus ready for dinner, and he kept whining and tugging at me, trying to get my attention.  I wasn’t quite sure what he wanted.  I offered him cereal and cheese, two of his favorite snacks, but he wasn’t satisfied.  He likes asparagus, but it didn’t occur to me that it would warrant begging until he went over to the garbage can, got out one of the asparagus ends I’d cut off in the preparation process, and came over and showed it to me.

It was like he was saying, “For the love of God, mother, what does it take to get a message through to you?”  Then I gave him some cooked asparagus and he was happy.  He ate a lot of it at dinner, too, and had the asparagus-pee diaper to prove it.

He impressed me with his communication skills.  He’s using some basic ASL (including “all done” when I went to get him after his nap the other day) and picking up more words.  I’m excited to hear what he has on his mind.


Found art by a past self

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:48 pm

Thanks to Miles, much of our house is in disarray.  A recent exploration of his uncovered a notebook, which I didn’t pay any attention to until Denny picked it up and opened it the other day.  There’s a handout there on the subject of educational technology, and some notes from what was obviously a conference (though I couldn’t tell you anything more than that; the notes aren’t very exciting).

A couple of pages in shows what was actually on my mind as I sat in the conference.  I have no memory of writing this, but it’s in my handwriting and follows my general aesthetic, so there you go.

Some good inventions:

  • A necklace that sends tiny electrical shocks through your neck, keeping your hair fluffy and exciting.
  • Tiny robots that live under your tongue and periodically squirt minty juice, which keeps your breath fresh.
  • A giant dictionary that lives in the sky and falls on people’s heads when they misuse words [examples]. [blogger’s note:  I guess I was going to fill in the examples later]
  • A robot that looks just like you—it follows you around and apologizes to everyone you’re mean to.
  • A tiny human that grows inside you, then comes out and can be molded to believe the things you believe and hate the things you hate. [blogger’s note:  maybe I was pregnant when I wrote this.]
  • A pair of shoes made entirely out of shrimp—walk home on a hot day, have dinner.  Added benefit:  popular with cats.
  • Opposite scissors:  put things back together again.
  • A pen that uses pee instead of ink—-good for writing letters to your enemies because the letters smell bad.
  • Wine that tastes just as good in barf form as it did originally.
  • Disposable kittens:  when they stop being cute, they turn into plump red strawberries ripe for the eating.
  • A giant mouth that you can sleep in.
  • A flame-thrower that looks like a fire extinguisher:  handy when your enemy is slightly on fire but you wish he/she were completely on fire.

Our friend Danny is visiting right now, and his 6-year-old wants to be a scientist/inventor when he grows up.  I think I’m going to recruit him to make these dreams a reality.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:05 am

I have my annual performance evaluation at work tomorrow.

Normally I would be nervous about that.  I was always one of those kids who put a lot of pressure on herself to achieve, to, along the lines of Dooce, be valedictorian of everything.  One of my greatest disappointments in life is that not every activity I do gives out congratulatory plaques.

Anyway, I have a new boss this time around, so I’m not sure what her evaluation style will be.  In these tough times, it’s pretty important for higher-ups to perceive me as valuable.  We haven’t had any layoffs yet, but it’s not totally out of the question, and since I’m only part time it might be easy to trim me off.

However, I’m really not nervous about it at all.  It was supposed to be today, but then it got rescheduled for tomorrow due to a conflict, and I didn’t even feel any particular relief when I noticed I’m off the hook today.

Miles has his first real fever.  He woke up this morning a little out of it, and Jessa, his care provider, called me around 10:30 to tell me he was hot and not doing so well.  I scrambled home, took his temperature (102.2F), and got him a last-minute doctor’s appointment (verdict:  ears and lungs are clear; keep him on Tylenol and ibuprofen and bring him back if the fever doesn’t get better).

He spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping fitfully in my arms, the poor little guy.  Last night was a little rough, though really not worse than recent nights.  We thought he was getting a molar, which may still be the case, but maybe this illness was brewing up in him too over the last several.  Last night, although he woke frequently, he was pretty happy to go back to sleep snuggled up on Denny’s or my chest.

I haven’t taken his temperature yet, but he feels significantly cooler this morning.

I just don’t really care about my performance evaluation, because my Little Scoop isn’t right.  I can’t focus on anything else.  As I was telling Denny yesterday, I am a total baby when I’m sick, but I would one hundred times rather be the one with the fever right now.  The clichés come true, I guess.  I don’t know how parents of seriously ill children get through the days.


Cooking vs. baking

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:36 am

You know what I think is weird?  I think it’s weird that many people seem to have a strict separation in their minds between cooking and baking.

My mom, for instance:  she’ll pooh-pooh her cooking skills and say my dad is the cook in the family, and it’s true that my dad is a very good cook, but my mom is a baking machine.  She makes the best pie crust I’ve ever had, a thousand different cookies and candies around the holidays, lots of different quickbreads and bars and other treats.  Why does this not count as cooking in some people’s minds?  It’s just as complex a process as any other culinary one, maybe more because of the chemistry involved.  That’s another thing my mom will pooh-pooh—her science skills.  She blames a mid-century Catholic school education in which the answer to every scientific question was “God did it.”  It’s true that she might not have a strong foundation in the periodic table or the geologic record, but understanding what ice water does to fat in pie crust, or how baking soda and liquid interact in pumpkin bread is no mean feat.

Anyway, this is cooking.  I think it’s dumb to demote it.  I also think it’s dumb that pastry chefs get less glory in the culinary world than other chefs.  Last night I made a fairly complex dinner by weeknight standards, but it took nowhere near the effort required for the dessert I’m planning to work on tonight.

Also, continuing  yesterday’s theme, I am excited about how I got to say pooh-pooh twice in one post.  I would say it’s because I spend so much time with an immature boy, but we all know it was always in there.


Maturing into immaturity

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:24 am

Miles now thinks farts are funny. I love that little boy more every day.

Also, I was making a sandwich yesterday, and as I tried to coax mustard out of the almost empty bottle, it made those farty noises. Miles imitated it with lip blurbs.

I have the greatest kid ever invented.


Hot food, little animals

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:54 am

It is a clarbity clarb of a day.  It makes me want hot food.

Fortunately, Past Aprille got that started this morning.  Future Aprille just needs to get a few items finished up and Future Family will have dinner.  I think there will be cornbread involved, maybe even with honey butter made from Ken’s super-special honey.

Miles had a fun Easter, visiting the kitties and baby calves on the farm and playing with Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Denny and Uncle Michael.

I’m getting my brain organized for a book I’m working on.  It’s really hard to find time/energy to write these days.  The best thing to do, I’ve found, is prioritize time for reading.  Reading helps get me in the writing mood, and being in the writing mood is a good step in the direction of writing.  Then at least I have lots of ideas stewing around should the opportunity to actually write arise.


Monthly Miles Memo #15

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:11 am

Dear Miles,

Happy 15 months, Little Scoop!

This month has really been a brain explosion for you, which is not as gory as it sounds.  You are doing all kinds of new things:  following 2-part commands (e.g., “Go find Daddy and give him the book”), identifying body parts, expressing excitement over your favorite foods, and recognizing so many words and ideas.  Yesterday I was barefoot, and when I asked you to find Mommy’s toes, you grabbed them immediately.  Then you went and found a pair of my socks and set them on top of my feet.  You were right—it’s still too cold out to be barefoot.

You prefer to be barefoot (or, as we call it, having nude feet) at night, and you hate covers, so I always worry that you’ll be cold.  But your dad and I usually find you snuggled up to one of us come morning, so I guess you find your heat source when you need it.

You’ve been generous lately with hugs and kisses.  Last night your dad showed me a fun trick you do:  if he crouches across the room from you and asks you to give him a hug, you smile slyly while you decide whether you should do it or not, then run to him with your arms outstretched, a huge smile on your face, and dive in for a hug.

Your kisses are wet.  For some reason, this is not gross to me.

A highlight of this month has been all the time you spent with your extended family.  We went to Ames around spring break time, and you had a wonderful time there with Mubby and Skittergramps.  You also got to see Great Aunt Suzy and Great Uncle Joe, and you had a really fun time with them.  Uncle Tyler also showed up for some fun, and you guys became the greatest of buddies.

He pushed you around in a laundry basket, read you stories, and carried you around as if you weighed nothing at all.  When we got back, I had a picture framed of Uncle Tyler holding you on his lap, and you are crazy about that thing.  You’d carry it around all day if we’d let you, but we’re worried you’ll drop it and break the glass.

You really like all the different pictures we have of our friends and relatives.  The pictures of cousins Anna, Maxwell, and Meredith are squished and bent from your manglings, and we have many more on the fridge that you look at whenever you can.

Another fun event was a visit from Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Denny.  Daddy and Grandpa did a lot of yard work, and you had so much fun being outside with them.  Grandma Cheryl put you in a leaf bag, which you enjoyed, and you also got a kick out of rolling around on the ground.  You warmed up to them really quickly this time, maybe because we’d been looking at their picture and talking about them.  We’re going to visit next weekend too, so I bet you’ll be ready to party as soon as we get out of the car.

It’s so much fun watching you learn.  It seems like every day you’re doing something new, taking so much in and processing it.  You’re growing so fast, physically and intellectually, and I am excited to see each new discovery you make.

Next month at this time we’ll be gearing up for your first international trip.  You are an adventure guy, and it’s so much fun to see the world with you.

Thanks for the ride, my sweet boy.




Like a Rolling Stone/Child

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:42 pm

Here’s an attempt at embedding a Flickr video.  I think the quality degrades a little in the journey to Flash, but it’s browser agnostic and even works on the iPhone, so something’s gotta be right about it.

Flickr Video


Awesomeness abounds

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:52 am

As you may know, I am a big anti-fan of April Fools Day.  I think more often than not it is an excuse for people to be mean-spirited.  The only really good thing that has come out of April Fools Day in the last few years is a career resurgence for Rick Astley, and lord knows the poor guy needed it.

Now, nothing specifically traumatic has happened to me on April Fools Day since the eighth grade, and even then it wasn’t truly awful, just another example of why people should be locked in closets at age 12 and not let out until they’re 16 or so.  Still, every April 1, I live in a constant state of cat-like readiness in anticipation of rude hijinks.  This is not my preferred way to interface with the world.  It is all the worse being named Aprille (pronounced April, if you didn’t know).  Everybody thinks he/she’s the first to think of a joke related to April(le) Fools Day.  Har.

On March 31 of this year, I was griping to Denny about the upcoming day of chodery (that’s choderie in French), and he suggested an alternate holiday:  April 2 is April Awesome Day.  He also suggested that at our house, we spell it Aprille Awesome Day.

To celebrate, you say something that is true and pleasant, and then afterward you say Awesome! For example:

“Miles’s new favorite book, Let’s Dance, Little Pookie, by Sandra Boynton, is really fun to read, especially when we dance along with it and do funny voices.  Awesome!

You can also go out to dinner if you want, and maybe have a margamarita.

Happy April(le) Awesome Day to everyone.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:52 am

What, because playing at the pool or the beach is insufficient entertainment in its own right?  You have to bring an inflatable whack-a-mole?

This is how Rome fell.  Inflatable whack-a-mole.

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