Photo: The building blocks for my most excellent weekend–heavy cream, large eggs, vanilla extract… add some bread flour, unsalted butter and some brown sugar and muffins are on their way. That’s how excited I was to be up this morning. I took a picture of my mise en place at 6 in the morning…

When I woke up at 5:50 this morning, I felt pretty.

Not beautiful. But pretty. And that’s remarkable, because there are usually other feelings that I have first thing in the morning. But pretty is how I felt today. I put on my little house skirt–a black skirt that comes to my knees–and a long-sleeved cotton shirt because it was cold in the house this morning. 50 degrees, believe it or not. The windows had been open all night. It was glorious. Instead of putting up my shoulder-length locs in a twist-tie, I kept them down. So when I looked in the mirror before heading downstairs for muffin making, I saw someone pretty. Someone in her element.

This was supposed to be a big weekend for the house. My Uncles (my maternal uncle and his wonderful partner, whom had come to work on the bathroom and the flowerbed a few weeks ago), were coming to visit this weekend. Their visit meant that my mom and her husband were going to come over, too, bringing their grill with them. They’re giving it to us instead of dragging it to Maryland. I’ve been singing about it (yes. Literally. Singing.) all week. Because this became such a big to-do, I created a menu to match the occasion:  jerked chicken, rice and beans, roti (grilled roti!!), hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, a beautifully tossed salad and a strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream. I even bought some dark roast decaf coffee to pair with it because… well, that’s just freaking delicious.

And because our preschool friends are moving from their current place to a new place down the street this weekend, I offered to make them a big Sunday morning breakfast: Sausage and gravy. Bold coffee. Strawberries. Mimosas if I could get my hands on some good stuff at a good price.

That might seem like a lot, but for me, this is awesome. I love doing this kind of thing and we haven’t really had a good housewarming. This was my chance to show off what we’ve done to the house, be a hostess, cook some great food (without making the house hot!) and fill my home with conversation and laughter for a weekend. The moleskine had tasks for every day. They’d all been checked off by this morning. I woke up feeling pretty because I was in full groove. Today began the food preparation: muffins in the morning, pizza dough for tomorrow’s grilled pizzas, and dough for two loaves of brioche (so that both sets of visiting couples could take a loaf home). My schedule today even had built-in time for knitting and blogging. When it clicks on all cylinders, well… it clicks on all cylinders.

My Quiet Thoughts are on the fact that I hadn’t learned my lesson this week. I had a plan. A good one. A tight one. And I was grooving with it.

So Ursa Minor needed to develop a rash and a low-grade fever last night.

Toddlers do this. No big deal. And Ursa Minor has eczema and the weather has been a little hot and humid, so we looked at the rash and thought he was having a bad flare-up. When it cleared up a little after bathtime, we thought things were looking up. He didn’t eat much dinner, but slept through the night, and woke up with a positive demeanor. I looked the rash over… it had spread a little, but still looked like eczema. He ate two muffins and was a happy boy.

So I went about my tasks: Kitchen counter scrubbing, flour replenishing, windexing the windows, floor sweeping and moping. And when it was time to go outside, I got the boys dressed. When I slathered on the sunscreen, I noticed that some of the bumps of the rash had spread… to his arms. Up his legs.

It was enough to make me call the pediatrician.

“I just wanted to know if I could talk to a nurse about a rash that [Ursa Minor] seems to have.”

“They are just going to want to have you come in. They can’t see it over the phone, you know.”

Task-master brain says: driving to the pediatrician’s office will severely ruin the schedule. Especially the built-in “you” time that you totally deserve. Mouth says: “Yes, that’s true, but I’m hoping that if I can just talk to the nurse, she can tell me if he’s having a bad flare-up or if I need to freak out. I mean, it’s a good hour’s drive. I would really be mad if I went all that way and they told me it’s just eczema.”

“Suit yourself. I’ll have them call you back.”

I sat there in my chair, knitting needles in hand, feeling good about pushing back. People just seem to think that it’s an easy thing to throw two babies in the car and go racing into town. It’s not.

I knitted two rows.

Mommy brain kicked in in the middle of row one. “You know, eczema doesn’t spread that quickly. And it doesn’t usually have bumps. You ought to have someone look at that.” There were negotiations. Mommy brain knows what she’s doing.

I took a deep breath. Called the pediatrician’s office again. “I decided that it would probably be best if I took him in after all. Should I go to urgent care or to you?”

“I’ve gotta make you an appointment. Hold on…. Can you be here by 1:20?”

It was noon. I was in a strapless sundress with my locs up. This was not pediatrician’s attire. And the boy’s hadn’t eaten. And that drive, in good traffic, is at least 50 minutes. I’ve done it fast, obviously, but not with children in the car.

“Yeah. If I leave right now, I can make it.”

And I did. 10 minutes late, but I did. Do you need to know the details? It involved  a Wonder Woman change sequence, McDonald’s and a heavy (but safe!) lead foot.

The receptionist, a wonderful Black woman who has an old soul and the attitude that you totally want and need in your life, just gave me a look up and down and a tisk. “I done told you so. If you’d listened to me, you’d have gotten a head start.”

I bowed and admitted to my failings. The nurse took me back and I described the problem.

“Girl, that sounds like Hand, Foot and Mouth.”

My jaw dropped. “Oh no. Oh no no no!!! That’s stupid contagious! No, Jesus! Don’t let it be that!”

She smirked, looked him over, looked me over and shrugged. “Pretty sure that’s what it is. Tell me what the doctor says.”

She exited.

I stripped my son to the diaper. Looked over the rash. It had spread to his lips. Shit.

The doctor came in and listened to me patiently. “I’m pretty sure that this is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. We’ve seen a few cases already this week.”

I pepper her with questions. Will Ursa Major get it? (likely if he hasn’t had it before.) Will me and The Husband get it (possible. If we haven’t had it before). Do we get the ugly rash if we get it? (No. We just feel like shit for a couple days.) How long does it last? (5ish days)

I call my mother with the news. “Well. I can’t afford to be sick this weekend, so we aren’t coming over. I will inform The Uncles. That just ain’t gonna happen.”

I inform my friend of the news. “Awwww! Poor babies! Sorry breakfast is off!” “Can I maybe drop off something for you? Coffee? Donuts?” “You’re such a sweetheart. No. You gotta take care of your sick babies!”

I was a pretty hostess this morning. So excited to open up my door.

Now I’m practically on quarantine.

Plan. Not. To. Plan.

Ursa Minor is in good spirits. I hear him fighting with his brother as I type. He ate a good dinner, he had a fun day outside.  His big brother has no symptoms at the moment, and I’m assuming that he was exposed at the same time as his brother (at the freaking hospital last week when we were doing the stupid lead meeting. This is just a hypothesis. I don’t know where else he would have gotten it). I’m keeping my fingers crossed that The Husband and I are cool because we have been previously exposed via childhood or via my teaching. Teachers get exposed to everything.

I planned to be creatively blocked this week. Instead I busted out two-thirds of an outline for Project ViBo part III. I planned to be a hostess this weekend, instead, I’m probably taking care of unhappy babies. I planned to be an awesome master-of-the-flame next week with a “new” grill. Instead, I’m looking at another week of cooking in a hot house.

Plan not to plan. The Fates love to laugh.

It is Friday, and while I no longer have plans, I have wishes for you. Like a view of the night sky tonight, hopefully in a place where you can see a few stars. And a good book to read into the early morning hours. I wish you iced tea served as cold as you can stand, and people-watching in a busy park. I wish you the sound of moving water, either at the ocean or beside a stream. Even the splash of children into an otherwise serene lake. I wish you food prepared with skill and care, maybe even a little bit of love. I wish you the opportunity to reach out and express your love, loyalty, or admiration for someone you know. Even if it isn’t so much in words but in far more powerful action. I wish you the freeing experience of deciding that a tenant you’ve held fast to no longer applies and the joyful fear of wondering what happens when you break what is seemingly a simple, but powerful, rule. I wish you love and joy, because you deserve it.

Until Monday, take care.

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