Tales From The Bunker

A couple of weeks ago, Bob burned the inside of his upper arm on a sheet pan full of chicken nuggets he was removing from the oven. Logistically, I have been unable to figure out how in the world it happened. I have tried to imagine it, asked him to demonstrate it, and quizzed the children on if they witnessed it but the whole incident remains a mystery. However, on the bingo card of our life, this chain of events is definitely a square. We consume a not insignificant amount of chicken nuggets so someone was bound to be injured in the preparation of them at some point.

The burn on Bob’s arm progressed typically – red and blistery and irritated – before finally beginning to heal over. What wasn’t typical was the way his heart reacted to the burn on his arm, which was to drop out of rhythm. For five days, while the worst of the burn healed, his heart was in arrhythmia.

We’ve become accustomed to Bob’s heart being thrown off by external events. It’s been like this for many years and it happens with regularity. An overly stressful event can throw it out for a bit. A particularly decadent meal can make it beat irregularly. Sometimes, we don’t even know why it’s happening and we simply guess, like maybe it was the Harvest Moon? And, while Bob is on medication to help his heart beat in regular rhythm most of the time, when he has these episodes, he can usually knock it back into place by eating the right foods, getting the right exercise, making time for the right rest. It’s all very manageable.

Until it’s not.

Which is what makes the threat of contracting a debilitating virus so terrifying. When you’re living with a hair trigger heart that takes the better part of a week to beat normally after a minor burn or a particularly salty dinner, the thought of what would happen if Bob’s body were truly under attack or if he was fighting off a much more serious problem fills me with dread. It would, inevitably, as it has in the past, lead to a cascade of complications.

Bob’s (rather high strung, in my opinion) heart is one of the many reasons we’re all hunkered down at home, rarely departing, never apart, my singular goal being to keep everyone healthy. There are days where it feels like my intense anxiety and fear are the only things standing between us and certain doom.

For the most part though, I just feel unbelievably fortunate to be able to shelter in place with those I love the most during such a scary and worrisome time.


“…we don’t leave our home a lot now. It gets a little bit lonely with just being with my family all the time. But I find a way to make it work. Life is still fun. How can life not be fun. Straight when you walk out that door an adventure begins. So just remember that life can be much more than you think it is.” (Amelia, 8, eternal optimist)

Being cloistered with one’s family non-stop for weeks on end is totally fun but it’s also absolutely terrible. And, the kids are not the problem here. Sure, there has certainly been the occasional, “WE DO NOT PLAY SPIKEBALL IN THE HOUSE,” with a dash of, “NO CARTWHEELING WHILE HOLDING FORKS,” but the kids are actually handling all of this with aplomb, especially since their world was just turned upside down.

So, no it’s not the kids. It’s Bob. Bob is the problem. He is the kink in the hose. The chink in the armor. The fly in our soup. Having him home full-time has exposed and hi-lighted tremendous differences in opinion on household matters, the majority of which seem to surround a central theme. And, that theme is kitchen linen management.

Sure, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, go easy on the guy with the heart condition,” but you would be wrong. Just as wrong as Bob is when he uses the dish towel that we dry our hands on to dry a freshly washed pan. That is, essentially, kitchen blasphemy.

One uses the TEA TOWEL for that.

Bucket List

Millie keeps a bucket list taped to the wall of her room. She’s eight. It’s a delightful and, frankly, pretty inspirational list.


  • Start girl singers.
  • Make my wall made of beads.
  • Get 100 American Girl dolls and get bunk beds for them.
  • Eat five candy bars
  • Watch all of the (?) movies.
  • Chew 500,00 pieces of gum. At the same time

The back has a list of accomplishments she’d like to achieve and all that’s written is, “get a lot of medals.”

My bucket list lately isn’t nearly as aspirational as Millie’s list. It mostly includes things like, “get three kids off to school each and every unending morning without taking the Lord’s name in vain before 8:00 am.” Or, “survive February.”

I think it’s time to think bigger. 2020 is our year. This is our decade. Let’s make stuff happen. We can do this.

Millie will bring the candy bars.


It Really Does Get Better

Today, my firstborn, my oldest son, turned fourteen years old.

Just to refresh your memory, he used to look like this:


SO squishy.

Now, he looks like this:


SO many Nike products in one picture.

That’s kind of wild, right? (Also, those are men’s size 11 shoes he’s wearing right there. I was absolutely unprepared for how quickly teenagers grow out of apparel. We had to buy him dress pants and a long-sleeved, button-down shirt for chorus this year and while everything fit fine for the fall concert, it was getting a little snug for the winter concert, which means, I can only assume, it will all be too small by the spring concert. Even the tie, probably.)


I know everyone’s favorite thing to say to new parents is, “IT GETS BETTER!” Three words meant in the best possible way to buoy the spirit of beleaguered caretakers. This message is always delivered one of two ways: with much excitement and enthusiasm (by a parent whose kids slept through the night), or, with a tinge of regret and a deep sigh of resignation (by a parent whose kids STILL aren’t sleeping through the night).

The thing is, it really does get better. It’s amazing to look at pictures of Henry as a baby and realize how little we understood about the journey ahead. We still don’t really understand the journey ahead but our kids are all potty trained so somehow, that journey seems a little more agreeable than it did a decade ago.

Here’s a short list of everything that the kid in the second picture can do but that newborn in the first picture was totally incapable of doing because he was a baby:

  • Emptying the dishwasher.
  • Toasting his own bagel. Heating up his own frozen pizza. BAKING muffins like a real full-grown human!
  • Vomiting in a proper receptacle. (Great news for those parents out there of middle-of-the-night bedroom carpet pukers.)
  • Doing his own laundry (thanks middle school life skills class!).
  • Completing his homework with almost complete autonomy, tracking what needs to be done and when it’s due.
  • Soloing at every sports practice or birthday celebration or school activity. In fact, I don’t even think twice about anything other than a drop-off anymore because I’m pretty sure my attendance will only embarrass him anyway.
  • Packing his own luggage for trips and vacations. The kids may not always pack enough but they don’t pack enough all on their own which is really all I can ask for.
  • Owning a knowledge base to fix almost any IT issue that arises at the house.

When I asked Bob what he thinks is easier about having older kids, his response was, “They can fetch things.” Like, Bob’s reading glasses. Maybe an extra blanket if Bob has a chill. Or, for example, Bob’s medications. So, retrieving items for the elderly is apparently a checkmark in the teenager column for sure. Or, the encouragement we need to adopt a retriever of some sort.


I recently started driving Henry to and from school each day since the middle school bus is the Wild Wild West of the adolescent years. I assumed I would loathe the inconvenience of the across town location and traffic navigating that driving him would require. I was super surprised to find myself enjoying the commute immensely. The dedicated time together has led to some interesting discussions on a rather wide range of topics that are not exclusively sports related! I find myself looking forward to the drive.

It’s precious time with a precious son who, at fourteen years of age, is such an enjoyable and interesting human.

Life since those newborn days has gotten easier. It’s gotten lovelier. It’s gotten more intense. It’s presented new challenges. But, it’s definitely gotten better.