Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Line for the Bathroom

There was a time in My Life, B.C. (before Caroline) when I’d stand in line for the bathroom and it didn’t bother me much. Maybe at a concert or a baseball game, I’d usually make a new friend along the way. We were all there for the same reason, and we laughed that the line never moved quickly enough. 

Fast forward a few years and two kids later, I find a significant part of my morning routine standing in line for the bathroom, again. Except for this time, there is no Eric Church jamming as background music, only the Frozen soundtrack. Sigh. 

When we bought this farm, we were interested in the pasture, fence, and outbuildings. The house was a second thought for newlyweds who didn’t have a family on the brain, yet. 

Boy, was that naive. 

Potty training in a single bathroom home could have been a book in itself. Inevitably, every time she decided it was finally “time” there was someone else in the bathroom and an accident would happen. There were lots of tears of frustration and embarrassment. The whole training process took longer than it should have and I believe some of that had to do with waiting in line. 

Now that Caroline is potty trained and seemingly running on her own schedule, the bathroom has taken on a whole new role in the home. 

“Why is the bathroom door locked?” Cody asked last week. 
“I think Caroline is in there,” I responded. 
“The 3-year-old doesn’t need to use a lock. That’s way too dangerous and she’s way too smart,” he remarked. 

Two minutes later:

“She’s still in there,” Cody said, sounding annoyed.
“Well knock and ask her to get out.”
“Caroline! Times up. Wash your hands and come out. I need in there.”
“Can’t daddy. I’m only halfway through my Earth book. It’s a pretty big book.”

Cody looked at me, “I really hope she didn’t take a library book into the bathroom.”
“No, that’s one of ours. She did take an Angus Journal in yesterday,” I told him, trying not to laugh. “I’m not sure which issue it was, but I think she put it back on your side table.”

That really fired him up. Angus Journals are prized possessions (to him), as a source of great beef knowledge, Angus history and cattle pictures. 

“Caroline! Out! I need in there. The bathroom is no place for storytime.”
“Dad! Don’t rush me! This stuff takes time.”

He mumbled something about “Lord help us when she’s 15” and went outside. I never saw him again. 

Cody came in the house yesterday and Caroline and Cyrus were both sitting outside the bathroom door. 

“What are you guys doing?” he asked. 
“I have to go and Mom’s taking forever,” she said. 
“Have you knocked?” he asked. 
“Yep, she told me to go play.”
“She only wants in here because there is a Barbie in the shower!” I yelled from inside.
“Caroline, why did you put toys in the bathroom?”
“Cyrus and I were going to give Barbie a bath and wash his tractor,” she explained.
“Bbbbbmmmbbbb” Cyrus started making a tractor sound and pointed to the door. 
This explained his stake in the bathroom game. 

Ok, you both need to get off the floor and leave Mom alone. She’ll be out as soon as she can.”
“No, I won’t. I brought my cookbook in here and I’m making my meal plan for the week ahead. Don’t worry. I’m sitting on the sink. It’s the only room in the house with a lock,” I yelled through the white door covered in handprints on the bottom 1/3.

The room is only 8 ft. x 6 ft. (yes, I measured it to ensure accuracy for this column), but for whatever reason, one person cannot go inside without the rest of the family following them. 

I went in to floss Saturday night and both kids fought for a spot on the toilet lid to watch me “string my teeth.” Cody shaved Sunday morning with an audience. “If you’re going to be in the way, you might as well be useful. Hand me a towel,” he told them. 

I hope one day we can add on to this old farmhouse and another bathroom will be on those plans. I dream of a day where I can go into the bathroom and not give an oral dissertation as to why. Because frankly, between you and I, I actually locked myself in the bathroom last week to eat a Reese’s egg from the Easter Bunny. I shouldn’t have to explain that to anyone. 

In my defense, it’s the only room in the house with a lock! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Modern Medicine

You'll soon realize this was written before the pandemic. 

I recently had a procedure done at the local hospital. Nothing serious; I’m very healthy but I have a throat like a chicken. 

I have put off having this done for some time, despite my physician’s counsel. The procrastination didn't happen because it was painful, but because recovery takes an entire day. No driving for 24 hours: Who will run to IGA when we’re out of the pediatric staple of the Sankey household (ketchup)? Even worse than that, the procedure requires no food, drink or even water after midnight the night before: A request that seemed quite impossible since I prefer to snack every hour on the hour. 

I had the same procedure done seven years ago, just weeks before Cody and I wed, and to be completely honest, it is a wonder he went on to marry me after witnessing me on drugs. I don’t do well under anesthesia, and hours after that endoscopy I actually tried to cut off my beloved dog’s tail. I remember nothing of this, which is terrifying. After that day, I told myself I’d never put Cody through that again. Fast forward a few years and few choking events later, and we again sat in the waiting room.

I’m an optimist, so of course, I found the silver lining to an outpatient trip to the hospital: for 20 minutes I would have uninterrupted sleep. No tears that needed to be addressed because a pacifier fell between the wall and the crib and no screams because there is a werewolf in the closet. Just rest. Drug-induced-met-our-health-insurance-deductible-in-February, rest. It would be the expensive and short kind, but I’ll take rest in any form these days. 

My appointment time finally arrived, and I rested beneath an oxygen mask, wondering about the last time I laid in a bed and just waited for something, with no phone, no bunk mates kicking me, no to-do list looming in my head. All I was able, and expected, to do was wait. It felt so strange, so out of my control, yet a few minutes of quiet was probably what I needed. 

However, this afforded me the unfortunate opportunity to listen to the man in the prep room next door (separated by a curtain) give far too much detail when asked what his last bowel movement looked like. Those are things you can’t unhear. 

The nurse then brought Cody to the tiny fabric room and just having him close made me feel at ease before we began. Then, his phone rang and I had to listen to a conversation regarding a beef bull’s testicles freezing due to frigid temps in North Dakota and how that will affect semen production and supply for the approaching breeding season. 

“Just put me out of my misery, already,” I thought to myself. 

That call ended and his phone rang, again. It was daycare. Cyrus had a fever. He needed to be picked up immediately. As Cody tried to work through the logistics of finding someone to pick up Cyrus within an hour, be present for my procedure and around to visit with the doctor afterward, as well as buy a bull in Montana over the phone for work, I laid there, being of no help to anyone, and quite convinced that I simply did not have time for the nervous breakdown I deserve. 

Moments later they swept me through the curtain door, ushered me into a sterile, bright room and asked me about raising kids on a farm. Finally, a conversation of which I could get on board. 

The next thing I know, I’m waking up to Cody asking me how I felt. 

It was easy. 

It was fast. 

It was over.

We were home with a sick toddler within an hour. Life was back to normal within twelve hours and within 24 hours my snacking habits had recovered fully. 

Isn’t modern medicine grand?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.

Also, a situation where you have a burning desire to try every recipe you’ve ever encountered.

Like everyone across America, I’ve been cooking much more in the last two weeks. My previous routine included cooking a large meal on Sunday and Monday evenings, then Cody would take flight on Tuesday, and the kids and I would live on leftovers until Friday when Cody would return. The COVID-19 travel ban has changed all of that. I’ve cracked open cookbooks I’ve not used in five years. I am so thankful for the local Hagerstown IGA; they’ve consistently had everything I’ve needed.

The increased appetite also stems from a group of eight college sorority sisters who are terrific cooks. We often swap stories of desperation when trying to visit with the UPS man who won’t make eye contact because you’re still in yesterday’s mascara, and husbands we’ve been married to for years, but are just now revealing that they don’t like Miracle Whip. Who knew? Talk about sleeping next to a stranger.

Our sisterhood group also swaps recipes. Between all of us, we have 18 children that line our dining room tables morning, noon and night. Also, ten times throughout the day for snacks.

One is a ranch wife in California; her recipes include a lot of fresh food and wine. Three are farm wives in Illinois and Indiana; they’re really into crockpot meals and things you can prepare at 11:00 PM the night before, then bake the next day. One is a pharmacist in Illinois; her recipes always include the calorie count and nutritional facts (gross). One is a marketing big-wig for John Deere; her menu usually includes meals that can be enjoyed on-the-go in a tractor or combine cab. Friend number seven is an engineer for August Storck; she figures out how to get Werther’s Originals on your grocery shelf. Her recipes will rot your teeth.

My recipes always include beef. 

Being a good and supportive friend, I work very hard to try each recipe the girls send out. We had five-course meals three nights last week. I’ve made dessert more in the last two weeks than I have in the last 35 years. My jeans are begging for me to eat a spinach salad, but I can usually shut them up with another Werther’s caramel brownie.

Our kids still don’t know how to practice social distancing, so I have yet to go to the bathroom alone. They’re also really into sharing food right now. If I hear, “Mommy, close you eyes an’ open you mouth,” one more time, I’ll probably put myself in legit quarantine. Maybe in Mexico. 

Because of this new routine, I also get stuck eating cold oatmeal at 9:00 AM that someone abandoned because they found a book to read, half-eaten chicken tenders at 1:30 PM after I get them down for a nap and grapes drenched in ketchup at 8:30 PM when I’m finally cleaning up the kitchen for the day. I don’t know the calorie count on crumbled chocolate chip cookies I’ve consumed, but it has to be around the 10,000 range. We don’t waste cookies in this house. 

I’m so thankful for the recent beautiful weather we’ve had so we can get outside to work, play and burn a few calories. On Saturday and kids and I went to town and walked four miles before the rain moved in. I felt great about the exercise and the fresh air we each enjoyed. So, we stopped by The Dairy and ordered cheeseburgers to celebrate. 

I wanted to lose 10 pounds this year. 

Only 13 left to go.