Friday, September 30, 2022

Cat(erpillar)s and Dogs!

I spent all day on campus, along with Miriam, Phoebe, and Grandpa (who so kindly rearranged his schedule to shuttle me down there because we were supposed to be having windows be installed today, but the windows were all finished being installed yesterday, so I realized just now at this very moment (9:45 PM) that Andrew could have done the driving, but Andrew had meetings scheduled in the morning and we just didn't think of it until right this very minute). Anyway, I had to run a booth at the Banned Book Fair. 

Here's Phoebe hanging out by Gage the UGA Dawgs mascot: 

Phoebe helped me while Miriam and Grandpa hit up the art museum, and then they came and took Phoebe for a long, long walk outside while I finished up at the fair. 

Here's Phoebe chilling with her air purifier: 

And here she is posing with some props from the photo booth:

And here she is hanging out under the table:

One of my earliest memories is hanging out under a desk/table on BYU perhaps this will become a core memory for Phoebe. Who knows?

The purpose of my booth was to educate people on some of the barriers to literacy; we discussed how poverty, lack of access, and an unsupportive environment (among other things) can limit literacy, as well as things we can do to remove those barriers. 

Here's Miriam working her way through the stations (to earn a free piece of pizza):

We came home and found that Andrew had been a busy beaver. He'd returned all the furniture to their rightful spots (we'd had to move a lot of things for the window crew) and vacuumed the whole house and washed all the swimsuits and swim towels in the house (since the pool closed for the season today).

The kids wanted to play outside, so I went outside with them for quite a while before heading inside because Phoebe is just a going concern. She squirms to get down when I'm holding her because she loves to explore outside, so holding her is miserable. But once she's down it's simply one long quest to find as many things possible to stuff in her mouth: acorns, small rocks, wood chips, leaves, handfuls of dirt...

She's not picky!

Alexander pushed her around in a little dump truck for a bit to break up my pleas to: "SPIT IT OUT!"

But eventually he ran off to play with the bigger kids and I took Phoebe inside to the freshly cleaned, freshly vacuumed music room, where there were no choking hazards, where it was safe

I set her down on the floor and pulled out a few toys for her. Then I walked over to the baby gate so I could trap Phoebe in that one room and—hopefully—get some reading done. 

Unfortunately, while I was doing that Phoebe crawled over to the piano and noticed a little something-something the vacuum had missed. A live and squirming something-something the vacuum had missed. A fuzzy, yummy-looking something that the vacuum had missed. 

She picked it up and popped it in her mouth, gave it a little chomp and then let it tumble back out of her mouth...along with a blood-curdling scream. 

I saw the thing fall out of her mouth as I turned around. What was that?!

I ran over and pinched her cheeks to make her let me see inside. Nothing that I could really see. Just a bit of fuzz that matched the fuzzball on the floor. She's eaten fuzzballs before (tell me you're not surprised; she eats everything). What was so upsetting about this fuzzball?

I bent over to examine the fuzzball and...

"Oh, no! She tried to eat a caterpillar!" I screamed to Miriam.

I screamed to Miriam because (a) I had to scream to be heard over Phoebe's screaming and (b) Miriam had been practicing the organ in the music room and was also wondering why Phoebe had lost her ever-lovin' mind. 

Honestly, I thought the caterpillar was dead. It was curled up in a tight little ball, so misshapen I could hardly tell it was caterpillar. And was so obviously a caterpillar. 

I raced to get a washcloth wet so I could scrub out Phoebe's mouth. Caterpillars aren't usually poisonous, per se, but their hairs can be very irritating, so much so that they are sometimes said to "sting" or be "venomous." Some caterpillars really are venomous. But for the particular caterpillar we were dealing with we were only concerned about ouchy hair, not poison

It's so bad that the grown men in my Facebook comments who've encountered similar caterpillars are full of nothing but sympathy for Phoebe, noting, of course, that their stings were only on their skin, not in their mouth. 

On the skin you can remove the tiny hairs with tape. But in the mouth?! What do you even do?

Phoebe was screaming so terribly and I needed ideas fast so I just dialed poison control. 

Now, before you think I'm overreacting, first of all remember that some caterpillars really are poisonous—those ones in Brazil kill people. Also know that puss caterpillars and flannel caterpillars—which we have here—also have venomous spines that cause enough problems that people go to the ER for it.

Caterpillar calls aren't uncommon at poison control, so I guess I didn't have to feel as stupid as I did calling about a caterpillar (which just seems like such an innocent creature). 

"Hello, yes, my 10-month-old...and, now, this just sounds silly...but my 10-month-old found a fuzzy caterpillar in our living room that isn't a puss caterpillar, just some sort of tussock from the looks of things, and, anyway, she...put it in her mouth? And now she won't stop screaming because, you know, there's hair in her mouth, and I'm not sure how to get it out, and I just...any ideas??"

The very calm, angelic lady on the other end (I'm convinced the nicest people work at poison control) had plenty of ideas, though she wasn't certain any of them work actually work since...I guess it's less common to eat a stinging caterpillar than to simply, say, brush up against one while doing yard work.

Ice? Popsicles? Drink of water? Pureed fruit? Just get stuff moving down the digestive tract. 

Since I'd already wiped out most of the hairs with a washcloth, she wasn't likely to swallow too many more and they shouldn't irritate her stomach (which is made of tougher things than these). 

Perhaps something rough to help pull the fibers out. Some toast, perhaps? Though she's a baby? Only if that's not going to make her choke?

Probably don't nurse her until you're sure those stinging hairs aren't going to transfer know. So water. Or juice. Or whatever. Doesn't matter. Just wash it down

So, we gave her some ice cubes in little mesh teether, we gave her water, we gave her a pear. She sucked and she screamed and she wailed she writhed. 

"How about a bath?" Andrew suggested, noticing that she was still angry at her hands as well as her face (even though I'd used tape on her hands).

A bath helped. 

At any rate, a bath distracted her. 

She was back to screaming after she was out and dry.

But pizza crust? Now, that's not toast, but it's what was for dinner.

Well, we actually simply had pizza. And I gave Phoebe one of my crusts to gnaw on. She seemed to like that more than the pear (which surprised me because she loves fruit, but I guess...if she has micro cuts all over the inside of her mouth pear juice will sting). So she enjoyed some pizza crusts, getting us both covered in gooey bits of bread because she sat on my lap rather than in her high chair because she was too distraught to sit on her own. 

And after dinner I nursed her and she took a little nap while we walked the girls over to Grandpa's house (in the dark) to watch Yentl with him and to tell him the story of Phoebe and the caterpillar.

On the way home...

Zoë, Benjamin, and Alexander were walking ahead of Andrew, Phoebe, and me. 

Grandpa's street is dark. There are no streetlights and it was late. Later than we usually walk because we had a bit of...drama...around dinner time.

So, the little kids are walking up ahead of us and they round the corner and, "AHHHHHHH!"

Alexander let out the most terrified—and surprisingly deep-throated—scream. His panicked little body seized up and he jumped backwards flailing his limbs. 

Alexander had rounded the corner and found himself face-to-face with a dog (really face-to-face because he's so short).* 

"It's okay, it's okay," a man chuckled (which was alright because by this point we were all chuckling). "He's friendly. He's leashed."

"I THOUGHT THAT WAS A COYOTE!!!" Alexander exclaimed, talking much louder than he needed to, due to all the adrenaline running through his poor little body. "I FORGOT IT WAS A DOG!!! AND I THOUGHT IT WAS A COYOTE!!!"

I guess he "forgot" it was a dog the same way he "forgot" the train whistle was from a train in the middle of the night not too long ago. I don't think he really means "forgot" in those instances. I think he means something like, "I didn't realize..." 

He's in the mood for a good spook, though, so he was a good sport about being so startled (and then having everyone laugh about it; he was laughing, too). 

It was quite the day!

*When I imagine to myself how I might feel if I came face-to-face with a dog as tall as myself after rounding a dark corner, I...would be LOUD-PANIC-TALKING, too.

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