the smell of my desperation has become a stench

House of cough

Yesterday morning I woke up with a cold, one that hopped out of my chest, landed in Marlo’s and woke her up at 4AM this morning in a state that I can only describe as half-screaming, half-coughing, topped with a delicious icing of irrational outbursts. She was a raging fire we could not put out, and every attempt to comfort her caused the muscles in her neck to turn her head in circles. I will admit, about an hour into the flames I thought we could sell her to the traveling circus and she could set up a stall next to the lady whose lower body just happens to be a serpent. She would DAZZLE.

And so all of a sudden our very mild-mannered, smiley baby has become a vicious, object-grabbing bear who every three or four minutes will explode with anger or frustration. We feel like we’re living with Bobcat Goldthwait:

I can’t believe I’m about to write this because all it will do is invite the Universe to sit down and take a huge crap on the already fragile state of things in this house, but I will take a sick Marlo over a sick Jon or Leta ANY DAY. And I mean that lovingly, in the sense that Bobcat Goldthwait is rather charming and funny and entertaining, in his own maniacal way, and well. How do I put this… when Jon and Leta get sick, it’s like saving up your allowance for two years so that you can go to Disney World, only to make the trip and find out the whole park has been replaced with a dentist’s office.


All of that to say, we’re holding it together over here! Minus the chest cold and broken tailbone and infant sideshow. So together, in fact, that when Leta looked up at me this morning from the middle of her room in the frantic moments before school, the floor littered with every toy imaginable, and I told her that “there is nothing to play with” was the stupidest thing I had ever heard, she bit her lower lip, rolled her eyes and said, “FINE. I will figure something out, THEN.”

OMG, you guys. She’s starting to talk like I write.

  • RathrBeAtWrigley

    2010/02/23 at 1:06 pm

    Reading your posts are the highlight of my day! Thank you!

  • Laurel

    2010/02/23 at 1:11 pm

    My four-year-old is beginning to talk like I talk. At dinner with friends the other night, she referred to their pet as a “damn dog.” She must have been tired; when she yells at our neurotic Aussie mix, she remembers the correct wording is “damn DIRTY dog.”

  • the mighty jimbo

    2010/02/23 at 1:13 pm

    your mom is probably enjoying every minute of that too.

  • radkitch

    2010/02/23 at 1:15 pm

    i’m so glad that “there is nothing to play with” is the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard. I am currently being saddled with “you say NO to everything” and “when you say no, it cracks my heart in half.” she’s 7. crap.

  • jon

    2010/02/23 at 1:15 pm

    Yeah. Wrong.


  • dooce

    2010/02/23 at 1:16 pm

    A woman cold is very different from a man cold, JON.

  • jon

    2010/02/23 at 1:17 pm

    Yeah, but a man tailbone is no woman tailbone.

  • kittyvicious

    2010/02/23 at 1:18 pm

    Totally off topic, but I saw your HGTV promo for the first time last night and got totally excited, because I am both a Dooce nerd and an HGTV nerd, and the two of you coming together is like a unicorn pooping rainbows. CAN’T. WAIT.

  • radkitch

    2010/02/23 at 1:20 pm

    looks like Jon may need to see the Man-cold video again

  • dooce

    2010/02/23 at 1:20 pm

    Actually, Jon, you’re doing it wrong.

  • sandi

    2010/02/23 at 1:21 pm

    Sick kids suck! I mean that with all the love in the world. We just got over the bug and it took forever to go through our enormous family. Any of you out there thinking about having fifteen kids? Re think it. It takes an eternity to cycle through the germs.

  • Yolanda

    2010/02/23 at 1:22 pm

    We are battling a demon illness here, too. I am terribly whiny when I’m sick. My husband is excruciatingly annoying. And we got together and made the most angry, depressed, mopey, crying sick person I’ve ever encountered. I’ve been in tears three times since this cold landed in our house on Saturday. Not out of sympathy for my sweet toddler, but because her rage and sobbing outbursts have pushed me over the edge.

  • BlesstheFunk

    2010/02/23 at 1:30 pm

    MISSY. Ha. My husband also says I am a bad patient. But we all know: he is.

  • kcbelles

    2010/02/23 at 1:39 pm

    HA – I love how he comes in here to respond; too funny! Sorry, Jon – you lose. Men, in general, are big babies. They can walk around with their arm cut off and look at you and say “what?” but give ’em a little ole skin scratch, and you’d think the world was coming to an end.

    Hopin’ you all feel better very soon!

    And Heather? It’s your blog – you post Mario’s picture as often as you like. Those little chubby cheeks! It’s a good thing I’m not anywhere close to her; otherwise, those cheeks would be bruised from all the pinching :o)

  • playrawkstar

    2010/02/23 at 1:40 pm

    i can’t help but wonder if your mom ever said “omg, she’s starting to write like i think.” feel better soon!

  • Parsing Nonsense

    2010/02/23 at 1:47 pm

    Good luck keeping the cold from migrating to the other people of your household! You may be the only mom in the world, however, who is amused by her sick baby! Everyone else I know likes the cuddles that come with sickness, but is less than amused by the histrionics.

  • chrisandrhiannon

    2010/02/23 at 1:51 pm

    Not to be all “OMG ur baby is in trouble!!1!”, but watch out for any signs of the cold turning into RSV. It’s bad this year. We have a 7 month and her cold turned into a week in the hospital. Hope you don’t see anything like this.

    And, I side with Jon. Childbirth, blah blah, women are still horrible to deal with when they’re sick.

  • Lynn from For Love or Funny

    2010/02/23 at 1:52 pm

    Achoo! I hope everyone starts feeling better soon!

  • samantha

    2010/02/23 at 1:56 pm

    GOD, I know what you mean about a sick man. My boyfriend whimpers. WHIMPERS. And I have nothing more to say about that because he WHIMPERS and that’s enough right there to warrant a sledgehammer to the knees. Bet that head doesn’t hurt so much now, huh?

  • austinmomof7

    2010/02/23 at 1:57 pm

    I know it sounds weird, but you can put Vicks on her feet and then put on some socks. It will quiet a cough right away. With babies, it’s one of the only things you can do since they can’t take cough medicine. I hope the baby gets better soon and I totally agree about taking a sick baby over a sick husband. Mine turns into a whiny, obnoxious baby. Only not cute and cuddly.

  • kacyd

    2010/02/23 at 2:03 pm

    Leta cracks me up, I was just thinking when you posted that picture of Marlo that she always looks so stinkin happy….guess that was before she got sick. Hope you all are better soon.

  • acm

    2010/02/23 at 2:08 pm

    yeah, my husband wrinkles that little place between his eyebrows and moans like a delicately fainting princess. oh, the horrors of a headache, or a cold. oooohhhh. (try some labor pains, pal!)

    still, there’s a simplicity to a baby’s illness because it’s all primal need, relatively uncolored by drama and other emotions. there’s still time for Marlo to find her inner Delicate Blossom where illness is concerned…

  • Daily Cup of Jo

    2010/02/23 at 2:14 pm

    My God, a traveling circus, brilliant!

    Hey, the AustinMomof7 said you couldn’t give babies cough medicine. What was that stuff in the eye dropper I gave to all of my babies when they were sizzling? And it miraculously put them to sleep better than a rubber mallet to the head and cooled them off to a normal temperature? My girls aren’t that old. It wasn’t that long ago. Hmmmmmm.

    I married the one guy who just “vants to be alone” when he’s sick. Hates the attention. Go figure.

  • BargainBex

    2010/02/23 at 2:21 pm

    oh my holy crap. my day is never the same until i can log on to my trusty laptop, Chuck (yeah, i named him after the Nerd Herd character because i akin myself to being an actual Word Nerd – same enough diff, right?) and read whatever you have written next.

    i think (as i do with every post of yours) that i’ll actually start to begin to understand the meaning of physically rolling around on the floor, laughing so hard that i have to grab my tummy in hopes to contain the joy and trap it in a jar for a future moment of need.

    jeepers. long comment short – thank you.

    i needed that today (and every day to come)

  • JelliDonut

    2010/02/23 at 2:21 pm

    It gets better. Seriously. My 17 year old is home sick from school. She asked me to PLEASE pick up some lunch for her and some Starbucks tea. She said PLEASE!!!! When I brought it home, she said THANK YOU. Swear to god. I am not making this up, but I will be blogging about it. The world should know about this.

    I hope you both get better soon.

  • Anu

    2010/02/23 at 2:33 pm

    Keep looking at Marlo’s picture that you put up before this post… me all your misery will melt away…I’m doing the same here 🙂

  • charliegirl612

    2010/02/23 at 2:43 pm

    When I read this. I automatically thought of Jack-Jack Attack.
    Good luck with it all!

  • d3 voiceworks

    2010/02/23 at 2:48 pm

    11-mo old lio’s got that cough, too, as do i, while our leta-equivalent was “sick” today at school and suddenly all kinds of energetic and into pokemon videos and riding her bike when she was sprung at frEEkin 10am.

    given that i have that cough and you do too i hope you’ll take this advice seriously: wine helps.

    not whine. w-i-n-e.

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2010/02/23 at 3:19 pm

    I’m sure that there are worse things than having a broken tailbone, a hacking cough and a sick infant. Maybe all of the above while carrying a chicken on your head through a blizzard? Wearing nothing but flip-flops on your feet? I’m sorry for all your travails and hope that you all feel better soon. Like now.

    And in the Box household, my husband is a stoic pain-in-the-ass when he has the slightest sniffle. He’s all manly and won’t complain out loud, but instead gives us all accusatory looks, like we’re just Petrie dishes of germs, waiting to pounce and infect him further.

    My three year old sounds like me, which is alternately charming and annoying. I may need to be more evil before having a Mini-Me sounds like a stellar idea.

  • mommica

    2010/02/23 at 3:44 pm

    Infant sideshow – HA!

  • Robyn L

    2010/02/23 at 3:57 pm

    I was browsing the comments and HALTED at #11. Sandi – do you really have 15 kids??

  • lovingthismomstuff

    2010/02/23 at 4:05 pm

    Oh my! I can’t help but laugh, as that is exactly what it is like at my house when my oldest gets sick. Pa-the-tic. 🙂


  • Becky Cochrane

    2010/02/24 at 3:52 pm

    Poor sweet Marlo. Whether or not it’s RSV, I hope she’s on the mend very soon!

  • Jacquie

    2010/02/23 at 4:19 pm

    No offense, but I am really sick of sick people. It’s like the zombie apocalypse around here, and I keep getting scolded for suggesting the only remedy that actually works (tequila). More for me, suckers.

  • J. Bo

    2010/02/23 at 4:27 pm

    You poor guys. Will Marlo tolerate being held in a nice steamy shower? It could make you both feel a little better…

  • etandsarah

    2010/02/23 at 4:38 pm

    Leta is hilarious! Of course, maybe she talks like you write because she’s such a good reader!

    I hope everyone gets well soon. My 5 year old was diagnosed with pneumonia today, but he’s been sleeping so much it’s hard to complain about him being sick. Maybe I should go check on him…

  • jessicak

    2010/02/23 at 4:54 pm

    I am sure this nasty cough is probably going around the country, but I am almost sure it jumped on you in Houston. I live here and just got over pneumonia. My 20 month old has a terrible cough and just about everyone I know has had bronchitis or some respiratory infection lately. Its not to dump on my city but the weather has been insane and people are all sick. PS. I spent a good 20 minutes of my valuable time looking for why you were in Houston. Finally, determined what it was and that I was definitely not that interested in attending. I hope you ate some excellent food and enjoyed a great time. Houston gets a bum rap, but I have been here 10 years and LOVE it.

  • heymamas

    2010/02/23 at 5:23 pm

    Oh poor Marlo, a baby with a cough is the worst and I think it hurts the Mom more!!! They just look so helpless yet sound like they smoke a pack a day.

    Sadie at heyMamas

  • MsKathleen

    2010/02/23 at 5:29 pm

    It is a very scary day when daughters start sounding like their mothers… A very scary day 🙂

  • Beth Brower Foerster

    2010/02/23 at 5:53 pm

    I’m so sorry about your broken tailbone! I truly feel for you (having fallen very hard on my butt more than once over the years).

    You are SO right about men being babies when they’re sick. If my husband gets a regular head cold, he stays home from work or at least takes off early. So many times I took care of my 2 little kids (both under 5 then) and all the usual daily crap while enduring a rip-roaring migraine. There was no calling in sick or taking off early.

    Friends and relatives have been telling me my older daughter (now 17) talks just like I do for years. This can be scary at times–it’s the reverse of hearing yourself say the same stuff as your mother when you were a kid.

    Thanks for bringing so many adorable, entertaining photos and lots of laughter to my home office. I very much enjoy your sense of humor and the way you write.

  • Nittany Lion

    2010/02/23 at 6:33 pm

    My 3 and half year old son was telling me yesterday what his favorite drinks were….milk, juice and water. He then turned to me and said “Mommy, your favorite drink is alchohol.” Why yes dear, it is.

  • CanoodleMyDoodle

    2010/02/23 at 6:35 pm

    Can I just say you honored the whole city of Knoxville with your photo of Chuck yesterday?

    I just discovered your blog maybe two weeks ago (I’m ashamed), and I even work for Scripps (newspaper side, I’m even more ashamed).

    I am so ecstatic about the marriage of you and Scripps that I kind of want to abandon the dark side of Scripps and try to get on the network side.

    What’s even more sad is that I was reading your blog yesterday at work, and one of my coworkers saw my deviation from work and shouted, “Caitland, is that Chuck? I love Chuck.”

    Finding this blog was a little bit like finding out that Santa does exist.

  • JMorgan

    2010/02/23 at 6:36 pm

    I broke my tailbone once in a fall in the bathroom…(alcohol may or may not have been involved.) Your girls are STUNNING. Oh….I thought you were writing about MY husband with the pen incident.

  • TurdFerguson

    2010/02/23 at 7:12 pm

    I have 2 grown daughters & now 2 granddaughters. The other day in the car Papa got a little short with Grandma & the 2 yr old said, “Stop it Papa!” This is also the same one that called Papa a shithead. Out of the mouths of babes….

  • Britgirl

    2010/02/23 at 8:51 pm

    We need to see a video of your little circus act. Now that would be a show!

  • Figtron

    2010/02/23 at 9:14 pm


    My daughter and I have had some form of cough for about 2 months now.

    We have alternated between stomach flu and chest colds for the past month as well. It’s a killer combo, I tell ya. Every time you COUGH, you also SH–. Buy stock in Charmin.

    Sounds like a dam nursing home around here. At least we aren’t sitting on neon orange donuts.

    Tell Jon to dismount from his high-horse and accept that men are the lesser sex when it comes to illness. Buy him a tophat and declare him the Ringmaster.

  • Shana in Texas

    2010/02/24 at 11:13 am

    Oh, Leta! You crack me up! Poor Marlo! I ditto the Vicks for the feet and the cool mist humidifier for the cough. We just went through RSV (again). However, my littlest one is great when sick – she loves to cuddle and nap and isn’t near a whiny as big sister or daddy.

  • kariberi

    2010/02/24 at 3:52 am

    I totally empathize with you! It is so hard to try to calm down a sick baby! I hope she feels better!

  • beezilla

    2010/02/24 at 6:23 am

    You need to learn about Oil of Oregano, stops colds in their tracks. Stops just about everything else too, without medicating people. I rub a few drops into the soles of the little one’s feet morning and night if they’ve gotten a cold, it’s strong tasting and that’s how kids should take it, never give it to kids orally. Adults mix three drops with water or juice, tastes hot but you get used to it. We take it at the first sign of a cold, cough or ear infection and are fixed up within a couple hours usually.There is no need to suffer through all this stuff…

    Seriously, it’s a kickass all natural bacteria and virus killer and pain killer. Buy a high quality organic, not not extracted with solvents product with at least 70% Carvacrol in it. It’s strong and comes mixed with olive oil. Read “The cure is in the cupboard” for a billion other uses.

  • carawahlgren

    2010/02/24 at 7:10 am

    Before I was married, before kids, being sick was a minor annoyance,an easily-surmountable hurdle. Now…..NOW. Oh my God NOW. It’s the worst. Sick kids are the WORST. Sick husband HORRIBLE AWFUL WORST. Sick infant OH MY GOD I AM MOVING TO THE RED ROOF INN. And I’m NOT copying the way you write, Heather. I write like this all the time, I swear.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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