The Hostess with the Mostest (Germs)

I have majorly fallen off the weekly blogging wagon, and as life has taken its usual uptick in busy-ness for the summer, I have much to catch up on. I'm sure not to do it justice, but here are the highlights:

We played host to lots of family and friends in the month of June, first with our friends, the Martin family. They came for their very last spinal tap/chemo treatment for their daughter Lilly, who completes treatment for leukemia tomorrow!!! Lilly was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia May of 2014, at age four. Now six, and with a promising prognosis, she completes her treatment. Background: Jake Martin was friends with Dave their freshmen year of college at the University of Wyoming, and they had not seen each other in over ten years. Fast forward to May of 2014, when Jake is married to Jessica, living in Scottsbluff NE with their three girls. Lilly, the middle child, was diagnosed at Presbyterian St. Luke's in Denver, where she would receive her next two+ years of treatment. Jake contacted Dave, and so began our great friendship with their family. We've played host to them many times over the past two years, whenever they needed a place to stay. We've watched each other's family's grow, each adding a new child. I've taken a bit (teeny bit) of a crash course in pediatric cancer, and I'm so excited for them to be done with this chapter! We'll still see them often, as Lilly will have many screenings over the next years. It is not an easy road, even now, and I sympathize with the hurdles that remain. Chemo drugs, even when they do their job, have life-long side effects. I no longer take for granted that my children are healthy.

Next to visit was Dave's sister Kary and her family, four children and her husband Jeremy. They stayed only one night, for which it was Jeremy's fondest dream to go to Casa Bonita. How to put it...Casa Bonita, local landmark that it is, is equal parts slummy restaurant, cheesy theater, and kids' carnival. It's fun for the kids, and I hear it was once well-run, but... The food, for which you must stand in a sweaty line for about 45 minutes, is barely above convenience store quality, and you HAVE TO buy an entree, as that's the admission price. It's dirty, run-down, overpriced, garish, loud, and somehow always packed. But we went. The highlight of the trip was staying up with Kary after the kids all went to bed and getting a rare chat. We typically only get to see them once per year.

Last we played host to my sister-in-law Sarah (wife of my brother Ryan) and her three wonderful kids, passing through between their home of upstate New York and a family reunion in southern Colorado. They are some of my most favorite people on the planet, and I pinch myself when I think that I get to be related to them! Forever! We played at a waterpark, and Sarah took the kids who were up to it to Lakeside Amusement Park. (Bless her for rolling with it when Asher got too busy and peed his pants!) I missed the latter because of Finn's clinginess. That was the real downer of their visit (and subsequent family interactions). Finn inexplicably developed an acute case of stranger danger exactly when my family arrived. His doting cousins could not even pick him up without sending him into hysterics. Asher, at least, responded to his cousins' invitations without a backward glance.

 Asher, as usual, making a spectacle of his craziness.

Asher, as usual, making a spectacle of his craziness.

 Finn thought the fountains were hi-LAR-ious...as long as Mom was nearby. Apparently he acted like he'd been abducted when I left him with his Auntie Sarah for 20 minutes to go down the big slides with Asher.

Finn thought the fountains were hi-LAR-ious...as long as Mom was nearby. Apparently he acted like he'd been abducted when I left him with his Auntie Sarah for 20 minutes to go down the big slides with Asher.

 Asher LOVED his cousins and auntie. He just didn't want to stop playing for a photo.

Asher LOVED his cousins and auntie. He just didn't want to stop playing for a photo.

In between the many visits, I got Asher screened by Children's Hospital Colorado, who found that he definitely would benefit from some more speech therapy. I'm highly ambivalent about their screening process, but suffice it to say that I'm sure the therapy will help, and it's paid for by insurance. I'm anxious to see what they do.

Finn, on the other hand, seems to be brimming with language. He makes simplified attempts at "ball," "block," and "book," (they all sound like "ba"), in addition to "mama" and "dada." Tonight when we Facetimed my in-laws he repeatedly said "BYYYYE!" And that's not the half of it. He excitedly walks around the house, pointing to everything and jabbering, often with an inquisitive "Dah?" This means, "Cool, tell me about this!" And so I do. One of his faaavorite things to hear about are the little decorative fox plaques that I painted for his bedroom wall, which hang over his crib. I love that he loves them! He's figuring out his body parts, and knows his toes at least. He can follow some simple commands, like "put that back," "throw this away," and "bring me the shoe." He catches on to activities like cleaning up toys, and helps. I suppose this is all typical sixteen-month-old behavior, but it blows me away. Asher didn't do any of the this stuff until he was about two years old, and after months of speech therapy. I feel somewhat vindicated that Finn is picking this stuff up, that Asher's slower pace of speech is not because of me. And I'm really grateful that, fingers crossed, we won't have to put Finn on the therapy track, because I both love and hate it. Bottom line: my boys are very different. This I know, though they both are so young. But I love them both whole-heartedly and stand in awe of each of their strengths, excited for the breadth of experiences they are sure to give me as their mother!

 Finn is mostly not terrible about getting into things, but he can empty my dishrag drawer faster than you can refold a single one of them.

Finn is mostly not terrible about getting into things, but he can empty my dishrag drawer faster than you can refold a single one of them.

 If you look close you'll see Asher is inside there. He came up with idea of stacking the laundry baskets like this, him inside as the baby bird. (We love the book  Are You My Mother? ) If I could figure out how to embed a video you would would see him standing up—hatching—with the laundry basket on his head, a fine impression of a befuddled chick.

If you look close you'll see Asher is inside there. He came up with idea of stacking the laundry baskets like this, him inside as the baby bird. (We love the book Are You My Mother?) If I could figure out how to embed a video you would would see him standing up—hatching—with the laundry basket on his head, a fine impression of a befuddled chick.

At the conclusion of all of our visits, we ourselves sojourned to the neighborhood of Heber, Utah for a family reunion with Dave's family. We were missing his little sister who is on her mission, and his youngest brother and his family, who go to California in the summer to sell pest control. But we had a pleasant visit with Dave's other brother Brad and his family, Kary and her family, and my parents-in-law. We celebrated our ninth anniversary, though with great frustration, as we had to bring Finn to dinner and he was predictably a nightmare. We also celebrated the fresh news that my sister-in-law is expecting, after a lot of difficulty and just short of an attempt at in vitro. Mostly we lazed about the cabin, though the highlight for me was FINALLY getting to ride, and drive, the four-wheeler that we've owned for probably two years.

 When he could catch Finn, Lucas (one month older) LOVED him and gave him hugs.

When he could catch Finn, Lucas (one month older) LOVED him and gave him hugs.

 Just before bed, cuddled up next to Dad. These boys increasingly adore each other!

Just before bed, cuddled up next to Dad. These boys increasingly adore each other!

 Blowing raspberry kisses.

Blowing raspberry kisses.

 Funniest moment at the cabin: Finn was terrified of the gaps in the planks of the deck. He refused to move, acting like a cow stuck at a cattleguard.

Funniest moment at the cabin: Finn was terrified of the gaps in the planks of the deck. He refused to move, acting like a cow stuck at a cattleguard.

The lowlight of the experience haunts me still. It was discovered while we were there that Kary's middle boy, Jacob, had Hand Foot and Mouth disease. I shuddered when confirming that, yep, those sores look just like what Asher and I had on his first birthday. I found small comfort in the fact that Asher and I were probably safe, but worried about Finn and the other kids who hadn't had it. My worst fears were confirmed, as the virus proceeded to ravage through the other children. All but one of Kary's four became sick, as did Brad's boy Tanden. The odd thing was that no one but Jacob developed the typical symptoms. Most were barfing, though Tanden could have passed for a classic flu victim. Dave felt vindicated in his hatred of Casa Bonita, insisting that that establishment was the origin of the virus.

On the day that we were supposed to leave the cabin and head to Wyoming for two days of camping, Asher woke up barfing. And barfing. Starting at 5 am, he hurled every 20 minutes or so, interspersed with the occasional diarrhea. It was an ironically proud moment when I found he could aim for the toilet with both ends, and correctly prioritize which end needed it most. He was sicker than anyone had been despite having had it before. Dave and I had no other choice but to pack up, cancel our camping trip, and drive the 500 miles to home. We managed admirably, I must say, helped immensely by the fact that both boys slept most of the way. I figured Finn was just exhausted because he'd woken up so early, but about halfway home he too started barfing every 20 minutes. My job was the be sandwiched in the tiny backseat between the carseats, catching barf whenever I heard it approaching, soothing where necessary. It was bliss to arrive home.

The next day saw both Dave and I come down with the bug. I got off easiest, suffering little more than tummy upset. Dave fared worse, and even more so our toilet. Asher and Finn seemed recovered on the Fourth of July, a rather bleak day of Dave and I puttering around the house moaning about our churning interiors. Asher relapsed as we sat on the front lawn watching fireworks from all the surrounding suburbs. I knew all was not well when he asked to sit with me under a blanket on the hot night, but was thankful for the cover when he barfed all over it. 

By Wednesday, when no sores had appeared, I declared us healed. We went to playgroup, had babysitters for the kids a couple times, attended a ward party, and I even got the house clean(ish). Dave and I went on a date Saturday night to a Korean BBQ place, which was....interesting. They really like to pickle stuff. I tried all twenty-something dishes they brought out, including the fried whole shrimp. That, though, required a bribe of Coldstone to follow (the heads and shells were still on).

Perhaps I should have been more leery of the sore throat creeping up on me, but I resigned myself to a little summer cold. No flags were raised when, before bed, Dave mentioned off-handedly that the bottoms of his feet had been hurting. It wasn't until the next day, when sitting in church, that the pieces fit together. One little sore on Finn's hand put me on high alert. I peeled back his socks right there in the back of Sunday School, and glaring red sores stared back at me. Dave took him home, and I stayed with Asher and hoped I wasn't spreading anything. Later we looked in Finn's mouth and mine, our throats identically red and spotty. No apparent sores on Dave's feet, but my previous experience taught me that there were far more of the deep sores than I could see, most of them hidden under callouses. Asher, at least, seems fine.

So, yeah. I really hope we haven't infected half the ward. I had no idea the virus would lie symptomless and dormant for days before again rearing its ugly head. We've taken to calling Dave's sister "Typhoid Kary," but perhaps we're no better. To put the cherry on top of this fabulous Sunday, I dropped my phone for the bazillionth time this evening, but for the first time completely shattered the screen. Every time I touch the screen, strands of glass stick to my fingers. So I get to take my diseased self to the Verizon store tomorrow and buy a new phone tomorrow. This week can only get better, right?