Sickness and Health

Tuesdays creep upon me unawares. Each week I ride the train north from Tacoma with an expression of mild bewilderment … how did another weekend pass so quickly?

Thanks to the provision of the Lord through the generosity of my employer, I have Mondays off, enjoying the luxury of a three-day weekend nearly every week. I generally spend Saturdays catching up on errands and Mondays on field trips with my kids, with Sunday stuck in between to worship my God and relax.

Last weekend I attended a planning meeting for Day Camp at Wilderness Northwest, held in the valley where I used to live, about 90 minutes from home. I decided to take the kids with me for an overnight at our old house, planning to watch movies and eat popcorn late into the night as a fun treat.

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Everyone was very impressed with the progress being made on the main lodge of the retreat center.

After the meeting I fed everyone macaroni and cheese, and then sent them outside. The kids reacquainted themselves with the old homestead and played happily on our swingset … David and Sarah in particular enjoyed the slide and the swings, while the older three joined with a neighbor girl in an elaborate game of dodge-ball on our spacious deck. My mom took them all off with her to feed the fish in the pond, and Rachel and Daniel rode the zip line a few times. When the gnats and mosquitoes finally drove us indoors, we settled in to watch a couple of movies.

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In spite of Rachel’s enthusiasm, David could not be persuaded to try the zip line again. As I recall, he holds the distinction of being the only child to fall off … a memory he apparently holds in disfavor.

After the traditional charring of the microwave popcorn, I managed to make several batches with less smoke and flames, and everyone hailed Daniel for his selection of a popcorn flavor that was buttery AND sweet. Finally I put everyone to bed, Rachel having skipped off with her friend Leanne for a sleepover. I stayed up and played a computer game and got to sleep a little after midnight, leaving the door open so I could hear if anything went bump in the night.

Around 4 am, I awoke to the distinctive noise of vomiting — a sound that strikes fear into the heart of any parent. Remembering that Sarah’s appetite had dropped off (she uncharacteristically couldn’t finish her ice cream cone) I found her sitting up in bed amidst the regurgitated remains of her dinner. Without descending into further graphic detail, an unpleasant twelve hours ensued, as Sarah demonstrated an amazing ability to vomit at the tiniest provocation. We went through all three changes of extra clothing that Kathy had thoughtfully provided, as well as two baths and innumerable sheets and towels. Hoping desperately for a little more sleep, I made the mistake of taking her into bed with me — I ended up washing even the mattress pad on my bed. Sarah lay around the house listlessly, clutching her water cup in pathetic misery, while I cursed my generous impulse to take the kids on an overnight without Kathy.

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It was some 36 hours before she was back on her feet, hands on hips, running the world again. I don’t know how we muddled through without her steady hand on the helm.

Eventually we sterilized the house as best we could (the dryer still doesn’t work, so we had to carry the many loads of wet laundry over to the cottage for drying) and made a run for home, hoping to reach the safety of our home before Sarah needed another set of clothes. Sadly, we had not even reached Hoodsport before Sarah’s stomach once again rebelled … I did the best I could with wipes and paper towels, and we continued homeward.

“Tag, you’re it!” I thought to myself as Kathy met us in the driveway, mentally consigning Sarah into Kathy’s care. She bravely stepped up to the plate, washing Sarah up and changing her into a new outfit. I was sent off to the grocery store for some Pedialyte popsicles and Seven Up, since we had begun to fear that Sarah was becoming dehydrated.

I find that I am facing work with considerable ambivalence this morning … part of me bewails the end of the weekend and the beginning of a work-week, yet another part of me breathes a sigh of relief. Sarah slept through the night without mishap (we brought her into our room in the Pack ‘N Play portable crib) but, if yesterday was any indication, Kathy could be facing an interesting day. Sitting in a clean and fresh-smelling office at a safe distance north may be exactly what I need this day.

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