What a week.

[(At right) Oh... what a seemingly innocuous little toy...]

It's now Saturday morning. Thank the lord above that this week is over.

It started last Saturday night as Bax began waking in the night and feeling warm to the touch. Sunday morning as the clock approached noon, his fever approached 102.

I was all set to attend PJ's sister's bridal shower at his folks' house in Mount Laurel. PJ, Bax, and I had spent Saturday over there, organizing things at the house and I was
loving my self-assigned task of arranging the flowers. So, Sunday I get all dressed up - pearls and all - and after taking Bax's temp, I feel sick at the prospect of leaving Baxter for the afternoon. Instead, PJ and I put him down for nap and I left for his folks' house to drop off my gift, say a quick hello and then duck out fast to get back home to Baxter.

EXCEPT... this isn't just any ordinary bridal shower. This isn't like 25 women who I already know just eating finger sandwiches. Oh no. This is SEVENTY... yes, count them... SEVENTY women - friends of Shannon, plus relatives... and more relatives... Irish relatives... aunts, great aunts, grandmothers, cousins. PJ's mom is one of 8. His dad is one of 8. You do the math! There were a LOT of 'em. And most of them had heard tales of PJ's girlfriend. PJ's first really serious significant girlfriend since college... PJ's older widowed girlfriend who's a mom to a little boy.

It was like a coming out party for me. And it felt so warm and fuzzy. PJ's
mom is wonderful and was proud to introduce me to all the extended family. She just about died when her mother, "Gram" embraced me in a hug and spilled orange-creamsicle-like punch down the back of my black coat - which I hadn't even had a chance to take off when I got in the door. As PJ's mom was trying to pat me down inconspicuously and wipe off the frothy punch from my ass, Gram was gushing about her wonderful Grandson PJ and telling me that she had heard that we were "getting serious." J

ust then, PJ's other sister, Meg, scooted by and said with di
smay, "DANNA! Did somebody spill their drink all OVER your back?" At which point, PJ's mom promptly shushed her, motioning towards Gram. And - surprising us all... Gram winked and motioned to Meg to shut her trap. Gram KNEW she spilled her frothy beverage down my back! What a freaking riot.

So I spent the next 10 minutes dodging Gram's attempt to disrobe me to clean off my coat.
And all this in the middle of a crazy packed crowd of people.

Then I met PJ's great aunt Grace who suggested that PJ hurry up and propose already because she's 90 and not getting any younger. I told her I'd be sure to get on him about it.

It's funny. I hadn't been to a bridal shower since mike got sick. I haven't been to a wedding since Don and Kathleen's back on October 2005 - when Mike revealed his diagnosis to our closest friends. I have thought this entire time that I might never want to be a part of a wedding celebration again. But... now I know that's not true.

There are two weddings coming up in the next two months. One of a dear friend I've known now for about 7 years and the other is PJ's sister's wedding in early May. And you know what? I'm looking forward to them both.

It's such a slow process, but now that I'm about 20 months past Mike's death I have more and more opportunities to see how far I've come.

So, why the shitty week? Well, Monday Baxter just got worse. Woke up with a fever. I canceled my classes at Univ of Delaware. I stayed home with him and watched as - in the presence of motrin in his system - his fever spiked to 103.4 in the afternoon.

Holy Shit, right?

[Photo: Baxter on Monday afternoon, sleeping in my bed... as sick as I've ever seen him. What better time to take a picture right? I'm terrible!]
Doctor's verdict: 2 ear infections, virus affective respiratory tract.

I stayed home with him again on Tuesday, too. Now all this would be fine and I would have been able to multi-task had Baxter been his usual self. But he wasn't. He was angry, sad, whiny, in pain and generally oppositional and needy. So, anything beyond domestic tasks and caring for Bax just didn't happen on Monday and Tuesday.

His fever didn't go above 100 from Tuesday on, so he was back at school for the rest of the week - but whiny, crying alot, sad... which of course makes me feel like a TOTAL asshole dropping him off to go to work.

But, I am happy to say that we've got our Baxter back. This morning the fog has lifted and the ol' happy boy is BACK in action. Thank god.

So, no
w we need to go back in time a lil' bit. Cut back to Tuesday, February 26th.

Baxter was still refusing - about 75% of the time - to go on the damn potty. I had decided in January that Pull-Ups were a freaking marketing trap-racket... so I had put him back in generic,
plain crappy diapers. But still, he insisted on stopping play to go on the potty.

So, Miss Elizabeth (who owns the daycare) suggested that we just get rid of the diapers altogether. Go straight to underwear - and when he wets through, make him get undressed and redressed himself. Her hypothesis? that he'd be potty trained in like 48 hours.

And dare I say: She is a freaking Genius.
Tuesday night (2/26) we started in underwear for the first time. He wet through them twice and was soooo mad when we said he needed to change them himself. As PJ said, "It's like he's realizing that this is the last weapon in his arsenal and he's NOT letting go." Totally.

So, we did diapers that night as he slept, and in the morning put him right into underwear. He wet through once in the morning. And then.... that was IT. On the potty every time since then. Victory!

So, part of the plan here is engaging in SUPER-POSITIVE feedback every time he uses the potty. You know, Pavlov's dogs? Food and bell at the same time... eventually just the bell alone makes them drool... So, my goal is to pair pee-pee and anything that will illicit positive feelings, so that eventually peeing alone will illicit the positive feelings... So, everytime he pees it's like insane clapping and celebration...

More Background info: Bax's new favorite toys are all his matchbox cars. He loves them. He makes them talk. They all have names.

And, one of them - appropriately named "Racecar," has spawned a series of other cars to "rule in the name of Caesar" so-to-speak. They are, in order: 1) "Other Racecar," 2) "Other Other racecar," and 3) "Other Other Other Racecar." I shit you not.

Thursday night, February 28th - he's been successful in undies for about a day. Right before bathtime - Baxter pee-pees on the potty.

To indicate my bliss and associate the act of peeing with positive emotions... I held "Other Other Other Racecar" in my hand and made it "jump" up and down and shout "YAY BAXTER! HURRAY!!!"

But as I was doing this... Baxter flushed the toilet.

At that same exact moment, "Other Other Other Racecar" slipped from my hand.

As the fucking toilet was flushing...

In that one instant, my attempt to employ Pavlovian psychology to associate positive feelings with urination in the toilet totally backfired. "Other Other Other Racecar" disappeared down the chute.

As my friend Scott said, "Now every time he pees he's going to feel like he's losing a piece of his soul."


Abandoning all dignity, I reached in after "Other Other Other Racecar." But he was gone. And Baxter sobbed. Naked Baxter was sobbing real tears at the loss of this "third in line to the throne" racecar.

What an asshole I am, I think.

So, I run into my "gift" bin in my office and thank the freaking lord I had a set of 4 cheapy matchbox cars to give baxter to alleviate his feelings of pain and loss. He seemed satisfied with my offering.

But the story does not end here. Oh no. On Sunday morning (March 2), as Bax was just starting to get sick, I noticed a puddle in the basement. A puddle that appeared to be coming from an old pipe. I got the name and number of a plummer from PJ's parents and he came over late Sunday night.

"Looks like some kind of blockage in the drainage system," he said.

"Like... for example... a matchbox car?"

"Well," he says with a smile, "Yes, that could certainly do it. Especially if it got caught up in one of the bends in the pipes."

But, nothing urgent... just a slow leak that he would take care of when his schedule opened up later in the week.

Cut to Tuesday morning. Bax still sick. Low fever. Me staying home with him. I figure I'll use the time to get ahead with household duties... like laundry.

I place a load of laundry in the washing machine. It goes about its business...gets to the rinse and spin cycles... and then.

There is a flood coming from my downstairs bathroom... flowing over the threshold into the hallway. The toilet is overflowing with grey sudsy water. It is clearly the residue from the washing machine.

I shut the valve on the toilet and take a deep yoga breath. I call the plummer. His wife says he'll be over in the next two hours.

In the meantime, Bax and I have to use Michelle's house for all matters bathroom oriented.
The plummer comes around 10:00 am. He snakes the drain and gets the system all flushed out. $300 later, we were back in working order.

I think of it as "Other Other Other Racecar's" big "fuck you" back to me.


If you've read my blog for a while you know that I am prone to positive spin. So, in the spirit of all things happy, let's recap all the positive things that came about throughout all this mayhem:

1) Baxter is now in underwear - potty trained for real.

2) Baxter is healthy again - and happy.

3) Other Other Other Racecar has left the building and our plumbing is all fixed and in working order

4) I had my coming out to PJ's family and feel warm and welcomed by them all.

5) My relationship with PJ is keeping me grounded, calm, and laughing - a lot.

Hugs, everyone. Have a great weekend. Oh... and If "Other Other Other Racecar" happens to pop up in your toilet sometime, tell him we say, "fuck you, too."


Anonymous said...

Having raised three and let me say here, they were jewels in comparison to the shenanigans of the grandsons, I laughed the whole time I was reading. Thanks for the day brightener. I'm so glad you can see the good in the midst of the turmoil!! This may be one of those stories that dear old Bax will still be hearing about when he is 30!!!
PJ's family sounds like a riot!! Folks I would love to know!!


Anonymous said...

Hooray for you and Baxter!!! Danna, I just had a shitty day and reading your update made me laugh (except for the sick part) Thank you and I am so glad things are going well



Anonymous said...

You've been through so much and have been able to find love again. :) Any advice for the rest of us who have yet to be blessed once? :)

Anonymous said...

You've been through so much and have been able to find love again. :) Any advice for the rest of us who have yet to be blessed once? :)

Anonymous said...

Here's another idea to keep the potty training moving along -- a poo-pee party. We went to one for a friend of Ilenia's about 2 months ago and promises of a poo-pee party for her got her potty trained on both ends in only a day.

Glad to hear all is going so well.


CryssyeR said...

OMG! I laughed so hard at the Other Other Other Racecar story!

I am happy to read that you were so well received. PJ sounds like a great guy, but his family sounds even more fun :)

I can see you are enjoying this time, and you should. Good for you. Love reading your updates!