Pink eye

It feels like we spent at least half of September and October being sick.  In retrospect, I shouldn’t really be surprised — we pretty much did the same thing Benjamin’s first year of Kindergarten (preschool).  By exposing our little ones, who, up until then, had mostly just been home with me, to a classroom full of new kids (and new germs) it’s kind of inevitable that they will bring everything they encounter home with them and very generously share it with the rest of the family.  I thought that *maybe* it would be different this time — since Liam had already been exposed to all of the illnesses Benjamin brought home that first fall, I thought maybe he (and the rest of us) would already be immune to most of what he encountered and would mostly be spared.  Apparently not.

Most recently, we spent much of mid-October down for the count with some kind of cold/flu as well as pink eye.  (Unless they were just two different manifestations of the same illness, which is certainly also possible.)  Amazingly, I think it was the first time I’ve ever suffered from pink eye, and I know it’s the first time that my kids have.  Liam started getting sick our last morning in Sankt Koloman, and went on to have a week or so of a bad cold, a nasty cough and sticky eyes.  Benjamin and I caught it soon after, and we ended up with about a week where neither of the boys went to school, and over 2 weeks when at least one of us was sick.  (Dan, who seems to have a stronger immune system, escaped with a little congestion and a cough, but nothing too serious.)  I realized, after it was all over and we’d started to recover, that at that point I had not left the house in 8 days.  Not once.

It was fine, really, and we’re all (mostly) better now.  But it was a bit of a rough time while we were going through it.  It was a little bit tough to go back to having both boys home all day, just as I was getting used to having my mornings to myself.  And, since I was sick, too, all I wanted to do was to crawl back into bed in the morning, but it wasn’t to be.  I was a little worried that it would be hard to have them home — that I would have forgotten, in just a few weeks, how to have them both home and manage everything.  But it was fine (partly because I just ended up being ok with not managing everything).  Although I missed drinking my morning coffee without having to worry about where I set the cup, it was quite nice to go back to having them both home all day.  I love that they go to school, and I love that they have their friends and their teachers and that they enjoy it so much.  But, it was pretty great to get to spend all day with them.  (I just wish they hadn’t been sick.)

And it was a good reminder for me of how much I manage to get done in a typical day.  I think it’s sometimes easier to appreciate what I’m able to get done when I’m *not* getting it done — and certainly, the cleaning, errands and chores piled up during those weeks of us all being sick.  It was good for me to remember that I don’t spend my mornings without the kids just sitting around — there’s a lot that gets done during those hours (and a lot now to catch up on)!

Now, we seem to all be on the mend (I hope it’s really true).  I’m hoping we’ll all be able to get back into our new routine, and stick with it for a bit.  Hopefully we’ll all stay well for a while and be able to enjoy the rest of the fall.

Celebrating Liam’s birthday

Happy birthday to Liam!  Just over a week ago, my little guy turned the big 3.  It is amazing and wonderful to watch him grow up.  (He’s getting so big!)

014The birthday celebration didn’t quite go as planned, though.  Our original intent had been for all of us to take the day off and to spend the day at the zoo (per Liam’s request).  In the days leading up to his birthday, though, he was quite sick with no indications of a miraculous, overnight recovery.  So, we changed the plan.  We certainly weren’t going to spend the day at the zoo, and since B was going to have to miss a field trip at school that day, we decided instead that B would go to school, Dan would work for the morning, Liam and I would stay home, and then we would all take the afternoon off to be together and celebrate.  It seemed like a good plan.

071But then, Liam woke up on his birthday, and our plans had to change.  He was happy and excited that it was his big day.  He was tired and still sick, but he was starting to feel better.  And though he seemed completely unbothered by rescheduling our zoo trip, he was very disappointed that we weren’t all spending the day together.  B was too.  All Liam wanted for his birthday was his brother to stay home with him.  They were both very sweet and very sad.  How could we say no to that?

So, we changed the plan again.  We agonized a bit over the decision, but ultimately, we called the school (and got lectured a bit by the principal who reminded us how important this year of school is for B), notified Dan’s work, and spent the day at home together.  If what Liam wanted for his birthday was the day spent together, then that’s what we’d do.  And if we had to seem a little flaky to work and school to make it happen, then so be it (it was a little tough for us to truly be ok with that, though).  Liam only gets one 3rd birthday, after all.


It was a lovely birthday.  We opened presents, the boys helped me finish the cake, and we got to Skype with Grandma.  We snuggled and watched tv and rested much more than is usual for our family on a birthday.  It could not have been better.  It was a great and happy birthday.  And, in retrospect, I’m so glad we decided as we did.  I would much rather feel a little sheepish at calling school and work at the last minute than regret not making ourselves a bit uncomfortable in order to give Liam what he wanted most for his birthday — the day with his family.  (And we’ll go to the zoo this weekend, assuming everyone is well.)


(And, as it turns out, all was well.  B didn’t miss anything earth-shattering that day at school, Dan didn’t miss anything important.  The next day, Liam was feeling well enough to go to school, and his teacher and classmates greeted him with their own birthday celebration, including pumpkin muffins baked by the class.  It was a pretty perfect birthday, after all.)

Sick days

The first two weeks of this school year were spent mostly acclimating Liam to school.  The week after that, I spent the first few days adjusting to the new schedule and sorting out exactly what I was going to do with my time.  And then, the Thursday of that third week, just as I was starting to enthusiastically embrace my “free” time, we started with the inevitable sick days that come along with a child starting school for the first time.

It’s just not possible for a child to start school without coming into contact with all manner of unfamiliar germs and illnesses that they have missed up until that point.  And what they get, they bring home to share with the family.  So we all get sick.  I’d been hoping we might miss out on a illness-filled September with Liam starting school — since B brought home so much sickness when he first started, I was hoping that maybe we’d already be immune to everything this time around.  (It doesn’t look like it works that way, though.)

It started with me.  That Thursday evening, I was miserable, and I went to bed at 9:15.  I was asleep before the kids were.  (I have no idea when, if ever, that has happened before.)  My plan was to sleep as long as I could, get up in the morning, take the kids to school, and then come home and go back to bed.  I was just sick with a bad cold, so I figured a massive dose of sleep would help.

It didn’t work out that way, though.  Instead of a long night’s rest, I was up with B at midnight.  He was crying from pain in his ear.  Liam was coughing.  We were sick, and no one was getting much rest.

The next morning, Dan (the only one who was still well) stayed home to take care of all of us.  He took the boys to the doctor while I went back to bed.  The kids were (surprisingly) given the all-clear.  Dan brought the boys home from the doctor and I was all set to take over for the afternoon . . . but I just couldn’t.  I was sick and exhausted — so it was back to bed for me and an afternoon off of work for Dan.

This began a week-long adventure of sick days — miserable days and sleepless nights, 104.8 degree fevers and trips to the pediatrician, days missed from school and a birthday for Liam with as much illness as merriment.  We’re just now starting to get back to our new “normal”.  It feels like we nearly have to start over in terms of sorting out our routine.  But, now that the boys are improving, I’m actually able to rest and recuperate a bit in the mornings, so hopefully we’ll all be on the mend, and we’ll be able to continue adjusting to our new schedule.


Migraines suck.  I went through a period in my mid-20s where I had them often — sometimes once or twice a month.  They were debilitating.  I had nausea, extreme light and temperature sensitivity, visual “auras”, tunnel vision, numbness, tingling and sometimes trouble hearing properly.  If I recognized that one was coming and could take the medicine quickly enough (and keep it down) I could sometimes minimize the effects, but usually I was in for at least a half day of uselessness — laying in bed or on the floor and just waiting for it to pass.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had fewer migraines in my 30s, and only a couple since Benjamin was born, over 5 years ago.  I don’t think I’d had a real, proper migraine since we’ve been in Vienna.  Not until yesterday.

They’re as bad as I remembered (this one had no nausea, though, for which I feel very fortunate).  It started with seeing spots.  At first I thought I’d looked at an overly bright light, but I couldn’t remember having done so.  After a minute, when I noticed that the spots were spinning, and multiplying, I figured out what was happening.  I was out of the house though, and didn’t have any medicine with me (I used to carry it with me, but they’ve become so rare that I stopped).  There was nothing to do but get home, but by then, it was too late.  I had a migraine, and there was nothing to be done.

I hate migraines.  They make it impossible for me to do anything at all.  I can’t bathe the kids or read stories, I can’t play a game or watch tv.  I have trouble sleeping.  There’s nothing to do but lay in the dark and wait.

It’s good for contemplation, though, and what I thought about while I laid in my dark room yesterday evening, listening to bath time, story time and bed time happen without me, was how grateful I am (and I also thought a little about how miserable I was).  I am grateful that Dan is here and available and willing to take over the entire evening with the boys, grateful that 99.9% of the time I feel great and I get to do all of those things, grateful that it wasn’t hot yesterday, grateful that my health is good and that my migraines are so rare.  (I also whined and complained a bit in my own head about how much I hate lying in the dark in pain, because, you know, I do REALLY hate it.)

Today, I feel mostly better (although I find I’m slightly more forgetful and less articulate for a day or so after the migraine).  I’m hoping that this will be my one and only Austrian migraine.  That would be fantastic.

A better day

Yesterday was rough.  After a weekend of being sick, and the kids being sick, I was completely exhausted, and I didn’t handle it very well.  (I’m also feeling kind of uncomfortable about having written about it, but if I’m going for honesty, I guess I’ve at least achieved that!)

Today is better.  I slept all night.  The boys slept all night.  We got up at 6:30, and I was feeling a lot better, even then.  B was well enough to go to school today (kind of — after a meltdown at 6:30 and almost falling asleep at the dinner table, I’m not sure he really WAS well enough for school) and Liam and I got to stay in and do nothing today while we work on recovering.

Still, by nap time I felt like it was 10:00 at night.  B, who has made the transition away from diapers for his waking hours, wanted to try napping without a diaper today.  I was exhausted, and the thought of cleaning all the bed sheets didn’t appeal to me, but I also don’t want to discourage him, so he gave it a try . . . and was completely successful.  (Score one for not discouraging him.  As a side note, I am really proud of him.)

Today went well.  I’m still getting over being sick, as is B.  Liam is still sick.  I opted for ordering dinner instead of cooking, and we skipped bath time because both kids were so wiped out.  But today was peaceful and fun.  We had a good day.

Mommy’s sick day

Ah . . . I remember “sick days”.  I remember waking up in the morning, trying to drag myself through my preparation for the day, telling myself to tough it out and finally giving in to the aches, or the fever, or whatever illness had me in its grip.  I remember collapsing onto the couch, covering myself in a blanket, putting brain-numbing mid-day TV on and putting in a request for ginger ale or orange juice with Dan before he left for the day.  I remember starting to feel better, getting up to accomplish something and quitting halfway through because I wasn’t as “better” as I thought.  At the time, I never liked sick days.  I was never one to revel in taking a break.  I always felt guilty and unsure about whether I was “really sick enough” to be home (even in the face of overwhelming evidence).  And I was always worried about what kind of work would be piled up for me when I got back.  I never really enjoyed it.

And I never thought I’d think back fondly on those (to my mind) wasted days spent doing nothing and waiting to feel better.

Having a “sick day” as a mom is totally different.  You have your own morning routine to drag yourself through, plus (in my case) at least two others’.  It doesn’t matter how miserable I feel, diapers have to be changed, meals have to be made, boo-boos need to be tended to.  Last week, B got sick with a bad cold, and yesterday Liam & I woke up sick, too.  For me, it didn’t start off too badly, but after a night of almost no sleep on Friday (because Liam was up) and less last night (because I couldn’t breathe or get comfortable) I woke up sick, shivery, feverish and miserable this morning.

I’m lucky, because it’s Sunday.  No one had to go to school or work, Dan was home all day.  I didn’t have any chores to do or errands to run, no tasks to accomplish.  But still, life goes on.  Dan made our meals, but I watched the kids while he did.  (And “watching the kids” doesn’t mean laying on the couch and staring into space — it means racing cars, reading stories, finding lost Legos, dragging stuff out from under the couch and overseeing endless negotiations about who has how much time left with which toy.)  I did manage to lay down for half an hour this morning (in my own room!) but I had to come back out when Liam pinched his finger and couldn’t be consoled by anyone else.  I got to lay down for an hour while the kids napped (which was AWESOME) and Dan took the boys out to pick up dinner without me (although I was afraid to lay down because I figured I’d be out for the night if I did).

Yes, I’m being whiny and complaining.  It’s been a long day.  Fingers crossed that I wake up tomorrow feeling chipper and energetic, because tomorrow is back to the work week and life as usual.

Fevers and fussiness

Every day for over 2 weeks we’ve had at least one sick kid.  Not anything simple like sniffles, but energetic vomiting, explosive diarrhea, high fevers, coughing that keeps them up at night (thankfully, not all of those symptoms at the same time).  There was exactly one day (last Saturday) that both boys were well at the same time.  It was a nice day.

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On the other hand

I love sharing the fun, adventurous experiences we have here, like going to Innsbruck and sledding down a mountain.  I share all of this in part to document the experience, and in part to encourage others to do this kind of thing — to travel with your children, to push the envelope of what you think is possible, to explore the world.  But, it isn’t all sweetness and light, and I want to share that part, too.  I was so euphoric from our trip to Innsbruck when I wrote about it the other day that I didn’t include the other side of the trip, and I think it’s only fair to capture that part, too.  Travel with kids is challenging.  There are going to be moments where you think, “Why did we do this again?  Wasn’t this supposed to be fun?”  But those moments will pass, and it is fun, and you’ll be glad you did it (I am).

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Picnic and pumpkin cake

Another beautiful Sunday here in Vienna.  The last few weekends have been like this, and each time, we think it’ll probably be the last one.

I’m holding out hope for yet one more, because I was sick again today and missed out on enjoying the beautiful autumn weather.  I didn’t leave the house.  I didn’t do anything, except sleep and occasionally attempt to keep my children from meeting an early demise.

Dan did a great job of wrangling everyone, but I’m also incredibly grateful for our downstairs neighbor.  She called up earlier and invited us all to join her family for a picnic in the park and some of the cake she was baking.  I was too sick to go, but Dan and the boys took her up on her offer.  From all accounts, they had a great time (and they even brought some cake back for me — yummy!).  They ate cake, my neighbor’s oldest daugher played endlessly with Benjamin (and a little with Liam) and Dan got to chat with our neighbor.

It’s always a bummer to be sick.  Worse for it to be on the weekend.  Worse for it to be on a beautiful day.  Worse for it to interfere with plans I have with the kids (we were planning to go to the zoo today).  It was really nice that my kids got to get out and enjoy the day, even though I was stuck inside.  With any luck, I’ll be feeling better tomorrow!  And with an extra bit of luck, next weekend will be beautiful, too.