the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching…


The day I returned from Haiti I was beyond ecstatic to spend some time with my girls, some time cuddling on the couch and talking about school and art and math and a certain someone in another class. I won’t say anything about that someone other than at my age that someone was named Robbie. I thought we were destined to be together forever because my mother had just married my stepfather and his name is Rob (this all depended on Robbie’s conversion to the LDS faith which was highly unlikely as he attended Bellevue Baptist Church and once asked me why Mormons stored wheat in their basements). My mother had a button badge that said, “I (heart) Rob,” and I was like OMG SO DO I except I didn’t think the OMG part and if I did I repented of it immediately.

I also used to say a silent prayer to bless every meal I ate in public, including school lunches. I’d do it with my eyes open so as not to attract attention, and I always asked the Lord to bless the food of everyone sitting around me. I used to giggle inside thinking they don’t even know that I just saved them from potential food poisoning!

While in Haiti I received a text message from the mother of one of Leta’s favorite friends asking if she could have a sleepover the night I returned. The selfish part of me thought, BUT! WAIT! I WANT HER ALL TO MYSELF. That pang quickly got overrun with the memory of how important my friends were, how much Leta loves this girl, and I agreed. So I spent a few hours with her after school pulling every detail about the previous seven days out of her, and then I helped packed her bag, drove several blocks over and dropped her off for the night.

And oh, that night.

I was still recovering from the bug I caught in Jacmel, and Marlo was on the very front end of a combination of awful things including a raging cold. She woke up at 3AM unable to breathe. She never did go back to sleep which meant we had both been awake for three hours when at 6AM I got a phone call from Leta’s friend’s mother. Leta, too, had been awake for a few hours with a stomach bug. So I packed a very sick Marlo into the car, drove over and then carried my sick older child like a newborn from their front door to the backseat.

The Diseased Triumvirate! We took that show on the road. Made millions.

We spent the rest of the morning in my bed watching Santa Paws, a Christmas movie they have been watching since April. In July when temperatures reached triple digits, they’d turn on that damn talking Christmas dog and the entire right side of my body would start twitching. I was like YOU GUYS ARE WORSE THAN COSTCO. Christmas decorations for sale and it’s not even Labor Day WTF.

I did not just repent of that acronym, no. In fact, I said each word out loud in my head and then out loud outside of my head.

Leta’s bug would rear its head and then retreat completely throughout that weekend, but Marlo just got progressively worse. By Sunday afternoon I had her at an Instacare where she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis. Yep! Super fun! I feel like there is some childhood song about conjunctivitis? No? Some happy camp song?

Now your eyes are not the whitest!
When they’re usually the brightest!
What could be wrong?
Come sing along!

Needless to say, it was an unusually long weekend and she did not go to school last Monday. Both girls traveled with their father for the Thanksgiving holiday, and Saturday afternoon when they came running into my arms both of them showered my face with kisses and coughs. Marlo’s eyes were better, but she had brought home from her trip the exact opposite of what I had brought home from Haiti. I spent the next several hours in the bathroom with her trying to coax her into going poop while Leta curled up in a wingback chair battling a relentless runny nose that quickly turned into a serious cold with a mild fever, one that prevented her from attending school today. And then Marlo spent all day yesterday on the couch moaning in and out of fever dreams:


But hey! I no longer have diarrhea! I AM COUNTING MY BLESSINGS. NAMING THEM ONE BY ONE. This one is called Good God Am I Ever Lucky That I Did Not Develop A Lifelong Case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

I would love to turn this into a beautiful photo essay that you see on many lifestyle blogs about our afternoon spent in the rolling countryside complete with photos of our muddy boots and the wind blowing our hair just so across the pink of our cheeks. Except if I wanted the pictures to tell the truth I’d need to lug a toilet out into that field plus four mountains of used, snotty tissues, two bottles of children’s ibuprofen, an entire package of Immodium, antibiotic eye drops, and a puke bucket.

  • RzDrms

    2013/12/02 at 2:43 pm

    Just post a photo of The Black Toilet (RIP) and call it a day.

  • Anu

    2013/12/02 at 2:55 pm

    Holy crap!! That is all I have left to say.

  • Missy

    2013/12/02 at 2:58 pm

    When I was in 3rd grade, I was convinced I was going to marry Tyler Hill because my last name was McGraw and his was Hill and all my textbooks said McGraw-Hill. I still think this is logical thinking. Also, keep feeling better!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/12/02 at 3:38 pm

    I want ti hug this comment so hard.

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/12/02 at 3:55 pm

    All the talking dog Christmas movies need to die in a fiery crash. My nine year old is obsessed. Each one is worse than the last. We’re all finally healthy after a freaking month of illness, so don’t mind the Lysol I just sprayed in here. I hope your girls get feeling better soon.

  • Tish

    2013/12/02 at 4:35 pm

    Feel like the Conjunctivitis song needs to be a School House Rock song.

  • Brigid

    2013/12/02 at 4:58 pm

    Heather, you are such a good writer. Look at this sentence:
    “I said each word out loud in my head and then out loud outside of my head.”
    Man. I would feel jealous if I didn’t love it so.

  • MSM

    2013/12/02 at 5:39 pm

    To continue in the theme of “marriage destiny,” I spent most of 2nd grade planning my wedding to a nice young man whose last name just so happened to be Anderson. My name is Melissa Sue. Therefore, I would be (cue the bells) Melissa Sue Anderson, the exact name of the actress who played Mary on Little House on the Prairie. Sadly, Mr. Anderson moved and I promptly forgot him in 3rd grade. Elementary-aged girl, thy name is Fickle.

  • Andrea

    2013/12/02 at 5:54 pm

    I feel like that last paragraph was shade to PW and I love it.

  • brendakula

    2013/12/02 at 5:55 pm

    My two girls are grown now. But I DO remember those days. Oh, and head lice after sleep overs. Those were the worst.

  • musikproStL

    2013/12/02 at 6:56 pm

    If you got out of Haiti with only a simple case of dysentery and not something like shigella or giardia (which I’ve caught twice each in Haiti), you were extremely lucky. Traveling and living there is not for sissies.

  • Natasha

    2013/12/02 at 7:12 pm

    There’s a new ‘Buddies’ movie out on netflix. Oh, the horror.
    Hope you three are in top shape soon!

  • annie

    2013/12/02 at 7:36 pm

    Conjunctivitis what’s your function…

  • nervrom

    2013/12/02 at 8:04 pm

    I just thought I was gonna marry Devon Sawa. We have the same first name, same DES initials, and both a weird often mispronounced name beginning with an S. I sent him a fan letter once when I was ten (after Now & Then came out), DETAILING ALL OF THESE THINGS, and he did not respond. SIGH!

  • Teal

    2013/12/03 at 12:15 am

    I was obsessed with JTT (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, of course) at that age. I used to send him fan letters. Never heard back, though…

    Anyway, I hope you’re doing better, and I love the masthead for the month. Very spiffy & festive!

  • Teal

    2013/12/03 at 12:18 am

    Not to mention the famous country singers, Faith Hill & Tim McGraw. Could it be any more destined?

  • Kristan

    2013/12/03 at 8:40 am

    You could always try again via Twitter? He’s much more active there ever since he joined the cast of Nikita.

  • Kate H

    2013/12/03 at 10:25 am

    Awww, I hope you’re all feeling better soon. On a completely different note, I love that throw pillow!

  • nervrom

    2013/12/03 at 10:32 am

    ahah well, i was mostly joking.

  • Kristan

    2013/12/03 at 10:36 am

    As was I. 😉

  • nervrom

    2013/12/03 at 10:39 am

    I guess now’s a good time to mention I totally tweeted him, too. HAHA

  • Courtney

    2013/12/03 at 11:36 am

    When I was younger and really into New Kids on the Block, I was going to marry Donnie Wahlberg (he was totally the cutest!). Plus, we had the same last initials, which was just so handy because I wouldn’t have to change mine. Like an 11-year-old has a ton of monogrammed towels or something to worry about?

    But yeah, we’ve been the house of death recently too–a stomach bug hit all four of us, and then three of us have been cycling through a cough/cold/snotfest for WEEKS. I would love to have us all just be healthy at the same time.

  • Tiffany

    2013/12/03 at 12:34 pm

    I don’t know what it is about this winter, but our family was sick the entire month of November. First a nasty, lingering flu that my four-year old caught and gave to me & our three-month old, then a stomach bug similarly shared, now we’re on our second snotty cold being passed around in as many weeks. I hate this winter.

  • Inga

    2013/12/03 at 2:32 pm

    ♫ Poop and pee and snot and drool and spit-up
    These are all the things that babies do
    Poop and pee and snot and drool
    Not the exception – it’s the rule! ♫

  • jeansandjacketrequired

    2013/12/03 at 2:59 pm

    ugg, i thought this was going to be an ad about cold medicine

  • Camilla

    2013/12/03 at 4:28 pm

    I read this post today and had to google conjunctivitis to find out what it was. Two hours later, my youngest kid’s teacher calls me and says she thinks he has conjunctivitis. I was almost exited about it for two reasons: 1. I just read about it! What a coincidence! 2. I knew what it was, so I didn’t go “conjunctivitis? My son is only 4 and too young to learn grammatical rules” or something in that order.

    Get well soon, stomach bugs are no fun.

  • Cassie Sue

    2013/12/03 at 6:26 pm

    I met him once (JTT that is), at Disneyland. He was a teeny tiny teenager, and I was VERY tall (almost 6 foot at that point) and my crush for him was quickly over.

  • Jo D

    2013/12/04 at 9:12 am

    When I was very little and had just learned about family names, I got extremely upset because I thought I’d have to marry someone with my last name, and only my brothers fit the bill

  • Ruth Sawyer

    2013/12/04 at 5:35 pm

    Oh my god heather, i’m sorry. My son found Santa Buddies and Santa Paws not too long ago and I want to shoot myself in the face.

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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