A pox on our house

Though it originally seemed like we were going to be spared (T-SHIRTS ON CHRISTMAS EVE, IT’S THE END TIMES!), winter is finally upon us, which at my house means a season of death, pestilence, and sweater sleeves stiff with hardened snot. Usually my sleeves, because not only can my children not locate and properly deploy a tissue, they can’t even manage to wipe their faces on their own sleeves.

Before our children were born, my husband and I were of particularly robust health—I watched as coworkers were felled by colds and stomach viruses and felt nothing but disdain for their puny immune systems. FOOLISH MORTALS! I would think smugly. HOW SAD FOR YOU, THAT YOU ARE NOT AS HALE AND HEARTY AS I! WEEP GUMMY, COLD-INDUCED TEARS AS YOU WATCH ME MAINTAIN A NORMAL BODY TEMPERATURE AND SKIN TONE AND GO ON WITH MY LIFE WHILE YOU SUFFER!

But then the children were born.

In the five years since I had my first daughter, our house has been home to pinkeye, strep throat, approximately 50 ear infections, 10 bouts of stomach flu, one long cold that has lasted since August 2010, and something called Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, which really sounds more like something that would afflict a farm animal. My husband and I have been on the roster for nearly every one of those illnesses (thankfully, we were spared the Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, because I honestly don’t think I could ever show my face at work again if that happened— I assume I wouldn’t be welcomed back, anyway, as my coworkers would have erected a plastic tent around my office and worn haz mat suits to interact with me).

But even when the adults are well, the kids maintain a low level of sickness that pervades everything, flaring up at moments when you least expect it. My younger daughter has a double ear infection right now, and her older sister is sprouting her six year molars, which apparently is more painful than childbirth, given the way she was crying about it last night. There is also, according to her, something wrong with her butt, which I don’t even have the heart to investigate right now, because that can never end well.

So tonight I can look forward to an evening of a cling-on baby and a drooling, literally butt-hurt five year old. There will be the force feeding of medicine, many irrational demands (when Addie is sick, she has more requirements than a rock star’s rider agreement), a few hours of Mutt and Stuff, and an angry, snot-clotted descent into sleep. But there will also be many snuggles, which are getting rarer and rarer as my kids grow up, so I have to take them wherever I can.

Even if it’s in a haz mat suit.

In search of magic beans

You remember that fairy tale about Jack and the beanstalk (I think it was called “The Guy With the Giant Gross Legume Plant”?), where Jack takes the family cow to market and sells it for some magic beans? And everyone’s like “OMG, you idiot, you’ve ruined us all!”, but it turns out the beans really are magic, and then somehow a giant is involved and I don’t remember what happens after that, but somehow Jack comes out a winner in the end? I think there’s a singing harp? And Jack steals the giant’s food, or the giant falls down the beanstalk and dies and they… eat him? Or something?

Anyway. Things work out for old Jack. It’s about the most fucked up moral to a fairy tale ever– make foolish, rash choices, murder a giant, steal his anthropomorphized harp and win big! Or, more specifically, when given a choice between a moderate, practical solution and magic beans, always choose magic beans.

A huge fan of children’s literature that advocates terrible life choices– hello, Giving Tree!– I have definitely taken this moral to heart. I never stop looking for the magic beans. Even though I’ve never found one that works.

Maybe I’m not giving them enough time. Or maybe I’m expecting too much. But really, Olly, if you’re going to promise me a gummy vitamin made of super foods, I’m gonna be pretty pissed after a few weeks if my skin isn’t glowing and I don’t wake up in the morning not feeling like I was beaten with baseball bats all night. And also, don’t call them super foods if they don’t grant me the gift of flight.

But I never stop trying. See, I’m all about working hard and sacrificing for my goals. But I’m also all about a pill or cream or juice that I can use as directed and then wake up in the morning in the body of a 25-year-old Heidi Klum.

Which is how I ended up with this $15 tower of detox teas:


It blends two of my very favorite things– rigid routines and unrealistic promises. I already had my first cup of the “all day” tea, which tasted of vanilla and dirt with mushroom undertones– a sure sign that this is totally going to work, since my rule of thumb is “the grosser it tastes, the more effective it is.”

So who knows– all scientific evidence points to detoxes being bullshit, so the likely outcome is that I will have consumed 42 very gross cups of tea for nothing. But there’s always a chance that I’ll flush all the toxins from my system and show up wrinkle free and sans eye bags and suddenly equipped with the power of telekinesis, then you’ll know I finally got my magic beans. And maybe committed gigantacide.