When You Can’t Have NyQuil

I’m suffering through the cold of 2011. I imagine my body and its various cavities are like different levels of a video game, and the virus has adopted the persona of Zelda or Luigi  or Donkey Kong and is insisting on building lots of mucus huts and fighting to the very end. He started in my head, around my left eyebrow, and moved into my nose, and has been shooting phlegm arrows at the white blood cells in my chest for a couple days now. I have coughed so much my teeth hurt.

As part of an ongoing health contract with our moms, I’ve promised to go to the doctor if Zelda doesn’t let up in a couple days. For now, since use of most OTC drugs is discouraged in pregnancy, I’ve been experimenting with hot water concoctions. Tea was the obvious start, but I’ve found that a dab of lemon juice and a teaspoon or two of honey is really nice. But honey doesn’t come close to a chicken bouillon cube dissolved in steaming water. Try it. You will love it. I have no idea what the sodium content of my new favorite beverage is—it can’t be good, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Clara has the immune system of a cockroach (I looked this up; supposedly cockroaches will survive even a nuclear holocaust). She’s had a few sniffles and a couple sympathetic coughs, but nothing debilitating. Aaron just gave me the signal that he’s going to sleep and ignoring the tickle he feels in his throat.

Nevertheless, we had a full weekend and wanted to share a few excerpts.

For the sake of storytelling, I’ll include this picture of my groggy self. This is Day 3, when all I want Clara to do is sit on the couch and read books with me. We’re both looking a little fresh-out-of-bed here.

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We’ve managed to pull Clara’s hair back into a ponytail a few mornings. Also, I believe this is what she does when you say “Smile!” It’s half-grimace, half-overbite, but pretty darn close.

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Cute little tendril head.

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On Thursday night, Clara and I went to Aaron’s Christmas program, entitled “This is Christmas.” It was about Christmas from the perspective of all the household pets.  Here, Aaron is leading his first, second, and third graders in “The Holly and the Ivy.”

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Here are those pets. Clara’s bud Josh Pieh is in the middle; he’s the brown dog.

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Clara has loved having three dogs in the house. Sometimes Beulah likes to eat her dinner in her crate, away from Dakota’s big black sniffing nose. Clara loves to climb in with Beulah and pull the door shut. She’s really into confinement.

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Clara likes to pull open Beulah’s front paws and squeeze in between, as though Beulah were holding her on her lap. Here are the little friends.

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The highlight of our weekend was visiting Santa at the college. It seemed to us a quintessential Alaskan experience. My recollection of visiting Santa consists of long lines, a well-styled North Pole with life-size lollipops, real stomachs and real beards, and cute, petite women dressed in red tutus and popping around the place with Polaroid cameras.  In the real north pole, things are a little more laid back. We showed up to the college where I work and prepared our hot chocolate and grabbed a bag of M and M cookies. Aaron was mauled by elementary students who adore him. Clara picked out a snowman to color and we headed over to an open table to watch some of the other mingling kids visit with Santa. Santa sat off to the corner and chattered from his decorated arm chair with the visitors. I think he works in Student Services, and I’m pretty sure the Elf serving up candy canes was in one of my classes.

I’m sure they like to discourage anyone younger than two from visiting with St. Nick because all the visitations are scheduled right around naptime. But I’d like to look back on all of Clara’s Santa pictures one day and look at the way she changed year to year. Sleepy baby in tow, we went and saw Santa anyway.

You can see here that Clara is not sold yet on the idea of Santa. She was her most content sitting next to Dad and occasionally drawing red lines across the snowman’s face.

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We watched a few more experienced children grace Santa’s lap. We said, “Look, Clara, look at how the man is sitting on Santa’s lap. Soon it will be your turn!”

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She wasn’t buying it. But we had the pretty dress. We came all this way. What’s a couple of well-intentioned parents to do?

Squat her down and click, click, click, that’s what.

Click #1:

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Click #2

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And, Click #3.

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It took less than twenty seconds, we promise, and she was happy as a sleep-deprived lark once she was scooped back into Mom’s arms and tempted by a shard of crushed candy cane.

In retrospect, I should have picked up a few books on Santa beforehand, but we’ll be better prepared next year. For now, we have the memory of visiting the elf in the miniskirt, Santa with garbage bag boots, Mom hacking in the background, and Clara protesting scratchy fake beards and red polyester suits on strange men.

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