Close Call.

At about 4:45 a.m. today, we were rudely awaken by a very loud robotic voice saying, “ATTENTION! EVACUATE! CARBON MONOXIDE BPS 55” and then “ATTENTION! EVACUATE! CARBON MONOXIDE BPS 58.”

It took Tim and I a few beats to wake up, and to determine that it was our fire/carbon monoxide alarm that was going off.  Half asleep, I thought it was our security alarm telling an intruder to evacuate, and I picked up our phone to make sure I’d be able to call 9-1-1 if need be.

Tim yelled upstairs to tell me to open windows…our carbon monoxide reader BPS was now in the 70’s.  The BPS is the reading of how much carbon monoxide is in your air.  A high reading can cause brain damage and is often fatal.

Amid my eldest son’s sleepy questions of “what we doing? are we up now?,” we called the local fire department.  I assured the operator that this was not an emergency, but she begged to differ.  In a matter of minutes, three firefighters, including a fire chief, arrived at our home with their carbon readers in tow.

Sure enough, our carbon monoxide levels were way too high and climbing.  We’d kicked on our gas heater for the first time this season, and it had been building carbon monoxide in our home for the last three days.  The fire chief told us that this was the first time in his fifteen years that he’d seen a carbon monoxide warning alarm be right: usually, it’s just dying batteries that set off an alarm.  But in this case, our alarm was right on the money.

Carbon monoxide has no distinguishable odor and you may not know it’s a problem.  Please make sure you have an alarm in your home that works and has good batteries.  Fire and monoxide alarms can keep your family alive.

If it weren’t for that alarm, our family would have kept sleeping…possibly permanently.  Thank God for that alarm!

About carbon monoxide poisoning:

Palm Panic.

Last night, I reached for my Palm Pilot to schedule a babysitting date with a friend.  It wasn’t in my purse, and no matter how many pass throughs I made in that mess of a pocketbook…it wasn’t materializing.  I’ve gone through this before, so I forced myself to think through the possibilities.  Did I leave it on the charger?  Did I leave it on the sync cord?  No to both of these.

Big deal, right?  It is, actually.  My Palm contains addresses of people I’ve not talked to in years, it contains anniversary and birthday dates, it contains information about my medical history and doctor appointments, it has notes about the milestones of my children, it holds various pin and account numbers, it is a virtual history of the last 4 years, and to lose it would be an absolute heartbreak.  The day I found out I was pregnant–it’s in there.  The time my hubby and I went to that great new restaurant–it’s in there.  The exact day and time of my mom’s passing away–it’s in there.  A computerized diary…I can’t imagine life without this particular electronic device. 

Late last night, armed with a flashlight, I searched our cars.  There, wedged down in between the seats, along with old candy wrappers and various other floatsom, was my Palm Pilot.  I felt a wave of relief. 

Say what you will about our society being too dependent on modern appliances.  My Palm and I?  True love always.

Huh, that’s ironic.

It’s a Friday night, which usually doesn’t mean a whole lot in our household.  Yep, gone are the days of the Friday Night weekend kick-off, that being a rally cry of “woo hoo! bring on the margaritas!”  No, nowadays, it’s “honey, let’s take the kidlets out for pizza and, maybe spring for an ice cream cone afterwards.”  If we’re feeling really festive, we call around to invite friends who are kid-friendly or who themselves have children.

But not tonight! No, sir.  Tonight we have that wonderful, elusive and rare thing: the babysitter.  I set this up a week ago.  I’ve anticipated it all week.  Get the margarita mix ready, baby…we’ve got a sitter lined up! 

Except now it’s Friday night.  I’ve got to go get my diaper bag all stocked for the sitter, and really, I’m tired and I don’t so much feel like going out.  I don’t feel like changing out of my yucky shirt and jeans for attire appropriate for a restaurant a step up above IHOP.  I don’t really feel like doing a whole lot, in fact.  So I ask myself, what do I feel like we should do tonight?  What sounds good?

Honestly, pizza and an ice cream cone.  Ironic.

Skin deep.

As I brushed over my lashes this morning with a mascara wand, I saw–really saw–the creases at the corners of my eyes.  It’s not vanity that stopped me and made me stare, but the darker sensation of seeing oneself a certain way and realizing that in fact, one has aged far past that image.  Aging.  It was a shock to see my skin giving up to anyone who cares to look the fact that I’m getting older and maybe not doing it so valiently.  Suddenly I have memories of my mom slathering her face with creams and serums.  I feel the pressure of having to make the decision: start stocking up on the lotions and remedies in earnest…or get used to a face that looks it’s age.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.

Flushed little cheeks…

One of the hardest parts of parenting, for me, is not having the answers.  I don’t mean not being able to answer my kid’s questions.  I mean not having the answers that I pose to myself.  After picking up my son at pre-school, he asked me to help get him in his car-seat.  This was a clue…Mr. Independent needs help into his car-seat?  Mr. I-do-it-my-own-self needs help? Uh oh.  Something’s up.  Sure enough, lifting him into his seat, he feel unnaturally warm.  The boy’s got a fever. 

I did the usual things, offered some juice, called the docs to make sure a round of recent inoculations weren’t the culprit, called the hubby to let him know.  Oh, I tried to give some Tylenol, but this particular child is hyper-suspicious of medication so it was a no-go.  So after all the starter tasks were completed, I’m left sitting on the couch, looking at my limp little boy, wondering “Now what?” and “What do I do now?” and then a couple minutes later, “Ummm, what should I do?”

As much as my sons’ energy can tax me, it’s the downtime caused by fever, the sniffles, an aching knee that really throws me for a loop.  You can shout “calm down! everyone take a breather!” when the kids are wound up, but I don’t think it’s quite okay to yell “come on!  be okay! be yourself!” to a sick kid in the converse universe.  Can I get some middle-ground?

Truth is, it’s hard to see your child feeling under the weather.  My son’s flushed little cheeks aren’t caused today by a brisk run (or two) through the house yelling, “Thomas! I’m Thomas the Train!”  Today, its a 102.5 temp that’s got those cheeks so rosy.  Boy, I’d love to hear a “choo choooooo!” right about now.

Boys and empty hours.

I dread Mondays, because they are the one day that I have nothin’ goin’ with my two boys.  On every other day of the week, there is some planned activity: speech therapy, preschool, meeting up with a friend, gymnastics lesson, something.  And let me tell you, having a three year old, and an eigth month old boy…sitting around in the house all day is simply not an option.  These are BOYS.  They need to do stuff, need to get the energy burnt in some way or it all comes back on me in the form of monster tantrums (well, the baby doesn’t know yet what a real tantrum is, but he’s watching his older brother with something that looks a lot like awe…he’s going to learn to mimic it pretty soon). 

Coloring at the kitchen table, playing together on the floor, reading a book–these occupy my eldest for all of 10 minutes.  So, there’s the park.  Can you be a good mom even if you really can’t take going to the park once a week?  It’s not that I dislike parks and playgrounds per se…well, actually, maybe I do.  I’m not particularly a park type of person, I guess.  I’m not an outdoor person at all, so it’s no surprise to me that trekking to the park with two kids in tow, dealing with sunscreen and sand and packed snacks and possible injuries from the monkey bars…it’s not my bag.  But, on a day like today, the clock is ticking.  My oldest has had enough PBS for the day and has started his morning refrain, “Mommy, what we doing?” 

We’re going to the park.

Those were heartbreaking times.


Just finished speeding headlong through Push Not the River, by James Conroyd Martin.  In the first couple of chapters, it was difficult for me to get used to Martin’s very spare writing.  There is a quiet to his writing that was a bit disorienting, but as I became familiar with the characters and the setting of the novel…I was hooked.  This is a book based on the real-life diary of Anna Maria Berezowska, a young woman of the aristocracy in 18th Century Poland.  She has left information about the Third of May Constitution and the Partioning of Poland at the hands of Empress Catherine of Russia.  While this historical insight is important, it is her personal accounts of her romantic love for one man and her motherly love for her child that transformed this book.  I felt glad to get this history lesson on Poland…it was easy to understand the effects of Poland’s stuggles with Prussia and Russia through this novel.  While not uplifting, the story is touching and the characters linger.  Recommend it.

A day offline.

It’s a difficult thing, I think, to spend a day offline when you’ve not planned it.  This morning, I got up and as is my custom, checked my email.  After responding and reading, I attended to my eldest son, readying him for a day at preschool.  When I went back to continue an email I’d started…horrors! The server was down.  Don’t panic, I thought, I can get through this.  I lasted, mmmmm, about 2 hours before I called comcast to come out and fix things.  The point: I think the Internet is my new chocolate ice cream.  I’m waayyy too dependent.  I may only spend a total of 5 minutes a day here, but you know…I gotta have it.

Check one: stress calls for therapy, or ice cream, or a stiff drink.

One son was having a screaming meltdown and throwing just-folded laundry on the kitchen floor, the other child, a 7 month old crawler, was eyeing the eletrical outlets with determined zeal.  These things occured simultaneously, roughly ten hours after a day filled with multiple other just as entertaining stress-making moments.  It’s times like tonight that I wonder, oughtn’t I be in therapy?  Or should I mix up a stiff one?  I’ll reach for the chocolate caramel brownie ice cream now, and hope it soothes the frayed edges.  But sheesh, it’s been one of those days.

Ok, so it’s not high-lit.

I know it’s not literature, but I loved this book: Lily White by Susan Isaacs.  The book employs a great technique, switching chapter by chapter from first to third person, from the present to the past.  It shows the main character’s life from her point of view, and a narrator provides history and background on her life.  Transposes a basic courtroom, crime drama with a social and class study…really great reading was had here.  Recommend it.