Friday, March 30, 2007


We're recovering from quite a week. We had to return to the emergency room on Tuesday night (after the 2 trips Monday night/Tuesday morning) because Aubrey's body wasn't responding to the antibiotics and fever reducer for her kidney infection. All the sudden at 9pm on Tuesday night (at home), she was having additional symptoms like vomiting and uncontrollable, high fevers. I got her to the ER at 10 pm.

She and I spent the night in the ER -- I think we slept on the little bed from 1:30 am to 5:30 am -- where they worked on her fever. She vomited again that morning, and still had a high fever around 102/103 degrees and then we were moved to the Pediatric floor. The doctors were concerned about her worsened symptoms, and still didn't like the fact that she had continued pain in her right side. They still suspected appendicitis. The thought that these two things, kidney infection and appendicitis, might be occurring in her body seemed unlikely, but then seemed particularly awful if that's indeed what was happening.

So we stayed two more nights. A second ultrasound revealed fluid around the appendix but nothing too suspicious otherwise. The surgeon came and examined Aubrey, but Aubs wasn't in pain then when her right side was pressed, and the surgeon said it would've been more obvious. She also said that high of a fever wasn't characteristic of appendicitis.

With that, Aubrey seemed to be doing better, but they wanted to continue to observe her. When the pediatric doctor returned the next morning (yesterday) and checked her side, Aubrey still spoke of pain in that area. The doctors didn't want to dismiss what Aubrey was saying and decided to go for 90% accuracy with a CT scan.

The CT scan (taken yesterday evening) was negative and it looks like Aubrey's symptoms were the result of a gnarly kidney infection, particularly in her right kidney (hence the pain there and the appendix concern).

It was a challenging (often sleepless) time. (Let's see, with the IV bag flushing her system 24/7, I woke up in pee next to Aubrey 2x the first night and 3x the second. Let me just say, there's nothing quite like waking up in someone else's warm, wet pee. I TOLD the nurses she was a really hard sleeper, and I was HOPING to be, so if they could please "pee" her throughout the night, I would greatly appreciate it. I could do that since Aubs was the only patient on the floor, and they were happy to oblige anyway. But, apparently checking her every 4 hours wasn't enough. I should've asked them to check every 2...)

That said, the time there wasn't as bad or scary or awful as it could have been. Not only did Aubrey get to watch more TV than she's ever imagined watching, read new books, and get uninterrupted one-on-one time with Mom, but I felt like we were constantly in good hands, with experts determined to get to the bottom of things, listening to what a little girl said and leaving no stone unturned. That made it a lot easier to be strong about all the uncertainty and precarious health situations.

Now, Aubrey's home, perky, and playing like crazy with her brother, so that helps everything feel OK, too.

Speaking of brother, he REALLY missed Aubrey. He said a number of sad, sweet things about her absence and LOVED visting her each evening when he came in with Mick and Jan.

Fortunately, Jan was down here visiting so she took care of Dane in the mornings and after school. It doesn't get much more convenient or comfortable than that. It made it nice, too, that Mick got to keep his school schedule, since the new quarter started Monday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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ER Trip(s)

Last night at 5 pm, I woke Aubrey up so we could go get Dane at school. She had a raging fever (103.9 -- her whole body felt so hot) and terrible pains in her "waist". She had gone to sleep next to me an hour earlier saying her waist hurt then too, but as I massaged her a little, she fell asleep. When she woke, though, it had all escalated so quickly I thought something serious might be up. I quickly got a ride home from school arranged for Dane and hauled Aubrey to the ER.

We spent 5 hours there, ultimately getting an ultrasound to check for appendicitis and kidney infection. They sort of ruled out appendicitis after the ultrasound (but not fully -- I was supposed to keep monitoring her for symptoms like increased "waist" pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, more fever, etc.); her urine tested positive for kidney infection, and her blood test showed her white blood count up. They also found enlarged lymph nodes in her belly -- all of these things a possible reaction to the antibiotics she was on last week for Strep Throat (and a medical condition often confused with appendicitis).

They gave her a shunt early on and ended the visit with an IV drip of antibiotics. The shunt was the worst part for Aubrey. She cried in anguish -- and that's no understatement. She's usually good about shots and stuff but this was too painful for her (and scary looking, even though she tried to look at me while they inserted it and they covered it for her with gauze afterward). She kept saying it felt like it was on fire, and it was in her arm for 3 hours.

We eventually got to come home around 10 with Mick (he showed up about 8) with a prescription for antibiotics for kidney infection and instructions to come back if any symptoms increased.

She woke up at 3 then with a terrible headache, a fever that wouldn't come down with fever-reducer, nausea, and more pain in her right side. So, I decided at 4am to take her to the ER again. When we got there, she realized it was the ER and not just the doctor's office and she broke down begging me not to take her in because she didn't want another shunt. After lots of conversation, we decided to go in and tell them we wanted to avoid another shunt, if possible, but we understood they could help us. (The nurses earlier had been so proud of her -- they said she was "agreeable" even though she had to get the shunt and a suppository, which she later said wasn't that bad because it "wasn't a shunt and it felt cold and slippery like an ice cube.")

The doctor checked again to make sure there weren't signs of appendicitis and he thought she was okay to come back home with Motrin and Tylenol switched off every 3 hours to relieve the pain and reduce the fever. We got back at 5am and she slept soundly then, until just now (10 am). She's in good spirits, taking a much-needed bath and eating a popsicle.

Monday, March 26, 2007

With Joan Blades

Joan Blades, co-founder of and, spoke at my writing salon last night. She believes that grassroots movements are key to making political changes. You might remember what did for the presidential bids in 2000? started back in 1998 with the simple and direct petition around the Clinton impeachment hearings: "Censure the president and move on." They urged Congress to quickly take care of business with the impeachment hearings and be responsible for other significant issues at stake for the nation. What started out as an email Blades and her husband sent to 100 of their friends, is now an organization that has 3 million members. (Read more about it in Wikipedia -- try googling her name or the term "")

She recently co-authored a book with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner called The Motherhood Manifesto: What Moms Want -- and What To Do About It. Look it up on or on her website,, to get specific information. She's got big (significant, meaningful) ideas about how we can care for our childen and families better -- particularly in the areas of healthcare, childcare, and flexible/fair employment opportunities for mothers (love that combination of flexible and fair). Again, her point is that changes can only be made with starts at the grassroot level. might have started as a movement among liberals or democrats, but hopes to "overcome economic, cultural, and political boundaries" by focusing on problems for all women, mothers, children, and families. They're currently at 80,000 members.

Jan (Mick's mom) came with me last night, and even as a conservative, she felt and Joan Blades could help make a tremendous difference in the way our nation cares for families and children. I also brought my friend Amy who is on the board/startup of a new non-profit called The Children and Nature Network (, another movement that could be a significant contribution to the political and social climate of our nation.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


A friend of mine is writing a book about the ways the dead or dying connect with the living. She's collecting real experiences and asked my writing group if anyone had an experience to tell her about. This is the email I just sent her. It's definitely in free-write/condensed form, and the contents may be a bit sappy for some, but I decided to post it anyway.


My dad died of colon cancer 5 days before my 22nd birthday. Ours was a strained, disappointed relationship for years even though we were pretty crazy about each other (he and my mom divorced when I was 3 and I hadn't lived with him since then, but I ALWAYS missed him, which was a lot of the disappointment part).

He told me he had cancer in May of '92, just before I was supposed to head to Alaska for my first summer as a driver/tour guide. He wouldn't let me stay home to care for him because he said I needed to experience our Last Frontier (he was a wild cowboy sheriff type) -- and he said he wasn't all that bad. I left reluctantly and kept in touch with occasional letters and phone calls, usually gushing about how exciting my life was. He was happy/receptive and didn't let on much about his condition. I had no idea how heroic or self-sacrificing he was being.

When I came home that October he called me and said he needed to see me. I went to his ranch where I was horribly, painfully surprised: he was this retching, retched skeleton of a man -- a 100 pound fragment of the 6'4" healthy father I'd always known -- and nobody had told me the truth about his condition. We had our awful, awkward bawling (last) words and embraces; I left numb and scared and sad and furious with myself for spending my summer in such oblivion when I could've been spending that time caring for and loving my dad, mending things with him. He died a week later, which, somehow I also hadn't really expected. I wasn't even there for that, which I also regretted.

That back story seems significant to understanding, then, the tremendous peace and warmth I felt the week after his memorial service, when I had an incredibly vivid dream: one morning I woke up feeling like I'd spent the entire night in his (healthy) presence -- I heard his laughter, felt his hand on my head, listened to him say how proud he was of me and how much he loved me. We'd spent the whole night just talking and visiting. When I woke up, I felt like we'd lovingly sent each other off on our separate journeys, sure of what we'd meant to each other, like everything was ok even though it had all gone so very weirdly. I simply laid in bed for an hour or so after that dream/visit, feeling what it had felt like to be with him, but sensing that feeling his presence was fleeting too.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Me with my new best friend, Anne Lamott.*

*For the record, Anne Lamott is a highly regarded author from this area. She's written one of my favorite books, Bird By Bird: Instructions for Writing and Life, and Operating Instructions. When I took this picture, she'd just given the keynote speech for the 10-year anniversary celebration for my local Marin City Library. Oh yeah, and she has no idea who I am.

Between the four of us, we tried to bust out our home to make sure it's organized and clean enough for guests. In tight quarters, that ends up making a noticable difference!

Other than that:

*Yesterday, I filled in for the owner at Butterfly Life 8am-1pm

*Mick took the kids to the art class at the DeYoung Museum. Fashion and the Vivienne Westwood exhibit were the focus this time. After the interactive (age-appropriate) lecture, they drew a shoe shape around a foot/calf drawing -- Dane, a roller skate; Aubs, a HIGH heeled boot -- and then decorated it with various materials like tissue squares, jewels, laces. Westwood once said, "You have a much better life if you wear impressive clothes," so at the class the kids were encouraged to bring their own aesthetic to the wardrobe item.

*Today, other than cleaning house, we got the van buffed out (interior/exterior) -- the kids were VERY excited about this.

*We recycled bottles, cans, and plastic to earn $5.43! We spent half of it at Starbucks for kids' chocolate milks and then banked the other half. (Our money training is pretty haphazard. Now that the kids are interested in recycling, and now that they're starting to understand currency better, we're going to have to have a bit of a plan for teaching them how to manage it.)

*I took a couple good walks.

*Dane and Mick took a long bike ride, using the trail-a-bike.

*The fam's watching "Chicken Little," a pretty hilarious animated film.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


It's pretty funny when kids come over to play -- walking space gets quickly eaten up with toys and clothes, and the toy bins and busy wall art do nothing to make the place look anything less than chaotic. It's really fun, though.

Here the kids have Nick and Mia over (just after Christmas). Nick really liked Dane's alien (pictured) and he thought it was fun to work Dane's remote control robo-raptor.

The girls just tried on clothes galore and gave each other lots of hugs.


Aubrey loves the girls in Dane's Kindergarten class. Here she is with Mia (light brown hair) and Makayla (dark hair). Mia and her twin brother Nick are both in Dane's class. When Mick and I went to Over The Hump, Dane and Aubs stayed with them at their houseboat overnight -- they had a blast.

Makayla's dad, Pat, is a dentist, so when we go to their house (they like to have back yard potlucks with lots of classmate families there -- last weekend there were 11 kids playing happily) Mick gets to talk dental smack with Pat. Makayla's mom, Renee, helps run the practice, so it's good to talk to her too. I like her. She's feisty.

Anyway, these are pix of Aubs and her little girlfriends having tea back in December. They made easy-bake cakes, drank from tea cups, dressed up, and told stories (which is what Aubrey must be doing in the top picture!). Mia's mom, Amy, said the "occasion" was adorable. She tried to get them to talk about boys but they didn't know where to start and didn't have any interest. (Um, I don't mind that one bit! I would've advised them to talk about something like their favorite color or, better yet! their favorite book -- ha ha, book club at age 5...)

I'm sure I'll post more pix of these girls; we spend a good amount of time with their families and even have a little co-op plan in the works for summer.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

1) I recorded "That Bike" at the KQED studio yesterday. Very cool -- to sit in a sound room working with the engineer, to read the essay the way I wanted it to be heard and in exactly 2 minutes. Fortunately, I was more excited than nervous. Don't know when it will air yet.

2) Mick took his 3 finals! Sounds like they were progressively challenging throughout the day, but he's confident (hopeful?) he passed. He got up this morning for 7 a.m. Paint Ball with some classmates.

3) Last night Mick was supposed to go out for dinner after his final final (that's fun to write) with friends in the city, but our van broke down while I was taking Aubs to a birthday party! I had to pull over into a driveway on a hill in Mill Valley. So... after I managed rides and care for each of the kids (Aubs to her party, Dane a ride home from school with a neighbor), I sat with the van for an hour while waiting for the tow truck. Mick thought it would be nice to skip the dinner and come home. I actually appreciated that -- even though he took a 2-hour nap and then borrowed a car to gear up for paint ball!

4) Mick picked up the van from the shop after Paint Ball this morning. There was some minor malfunctioning going on with the engine oil light/buzzer the past week; as a result, we'd each added (unbeknownst to the other) extra oil, which caused huge clouds of smoke and minor shut down. The mechanic has disconnected the light/buzzer (a common problem in Vanagons w/ 200k miles on them) and told us just to rely on the dipstick. We're good at that (when a buzzer isn't freaking us out) so that shouldn't be a problem.

5) We're getting excited for Jan & Mike to arrive on Monday. Mike'll be here for 9 days, Jan for 3 weeks. (Yes, in case you're wondering, I'm THRILLED that my mother-in-law will be in our home that long -- she's a treat to have around and we usually know how to give each other space as needed.)

6) Blogger's ticking me off and I can't download any pix. Will have to report that. I have friends who are really chapped about the blogger glitches and are giving up the ghost with their blogs. I'm going to keep plugging away. But if you have problems, email me or blogger and we'll let 'em have it!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Happy Birth
day Grammy the kids
have strep
throat and can't
go to school un
til Wednesday when
their dad
has 3 finals and their
mom records Per
spectives at
a radio station isn't
that all very
interesting at
least there are games
Ds books on
tape coloring crayons
and amoxycilin

Saturday, March 10, 2007


I answered a craigslist ad last month looking for book reviewers. The company listed about fifty books they still wanted to video review, so I emailed with the book titles I'd read (as well as my master list of all the books I've ever read -- yes, VERY nerdy). It sounded like a paid gig right up my alley. Needless to say, I was thrilled when they called me in.

I had to FEVERISHLY re-read the 3 books I agreed to review, since it had been 5-10 years since I'd read any of them. (This was the same week I was planning Aubrey's birthday party, so I was slightly overwhelmed with 1500 pages to refamiliarize myself with!)

I drove to Oakland then one morning and sat with the director and camera for a half hour and reviewed the following books:

A Year In Provence, by Peter Mayle (non-fiction)
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (fiction)
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant (fiction)

YOU can see and listen to my reviews on! Just click on the video section and look for my review in the appropriate genre.

The website aims to help readers consider a book based on a "real person" giving a "real review" -- you can let me know what you think. (Or not!)

On Thursday, Dane came home and told me his classmate Dariana said the "S-H-" word at school and got in trouble. Dariana's kind of a bigger, rough-and-tumble girl from Romania. I asked him what kind of trouble she got in and he said she had to run a lap.

Aubrey yelled from the other room "What's the S-H- word?"

Dang, I thought to myself, I'd hoped to avoid this! She came out and I calmly said to both kids "Well, it's a word people say that shows their frustration -- only it's just adults who use it, and they're really not supposed to." Pause. Calm response. "It's SHIT."

"Shit?" Dane asked. "She said SHUT UP..."

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I get to read my essay, "That Bike,"* for KQED, THE San Francisco NPR affiiliate, during their local 2-minute "Perspectives" segment!

It airs 3 or 4 times on the day it runs.

Google "KQED perspectives" and click on their audio archives for samples, or on submissions to get a better idea of what Perspectives is -- sorry, Blogger doesn't let me give you a quicker link from my Mac.

*On an earlier blog I called the essay "About A Bike."

Here's what I emailed the editor, Mark Trautwein, this morning with my tightened up essay attached:
Hi Mark,

I'm a Writing Mama [he knows of our writing group, which is a bonus] sending along "That Bike," a possible essay for Perspectives. It's about a boy's stolen bike and the legacy it left.

Thanks for your consideration,

Anjie Reynolds
Marin City, CA


Here's what I got back an hour later:

Hello Anjie

Thanks very much for sharing this with me. It's a very sweet and touching piece; it would make a terrific Perspective.

I have some problems with the top of the piece to discuss, and I'll need to have you do a timed read over the phone. So please give me a call -- 415-...-..... You'll need to get hold of me either today or next Tuesday because I'll be leaving town for a couple of weeks after that. If neither day works for you, let me know and we'll work something out.


Mark Trautwein
Editor, Perspectives


Here's what I wrote back (immediately!):
Hi Mark,

I'm so glad you like the piece and I look forward to discussing it with you.

You can reach me .... I'm available today and Tuesday, so somehow we should be able to talk.

Thanks so much for your time,

[Yeah, you didn't really need to read that email, but I couldn't help myself -- I don't want to leave any part of the process out!]


Our phone conversation was really fun. (By the way, he has one of those deep, rich, typical radio voices, which threw me for a loop -- I guess since I'd never heard him on the station, I figured maybe he didn't make the cut and was mousy or lispy!)

His editing suggestions at the beginning of the piece had to do with making sure listeners could immediately a) place the piece geographically, and b) place Dane's age and the time frame for the experience. That was taken care of with a couple quick line edits.

When I read it to him on the phone it was exactly 2 minutes, so he said I should come to the studio with a couple phrases I could cut if need be.

Other than that, he just had positive feedback. He said he was just telling a group last night that if writers could tell stories well, they'd be on their way to having a good Perspectives piece. He said my essay told a simple story very well and made it very meaningful -- that I did just what he was trying to tell them to do. *sigh*

I have an appointment to record the essay at the KQED studio in downtown SF next Wednesday morning. He then emailed me his edited version of the essay (which I fully approve of -- how cool to have it edited FOR me!) so I'll have that in tow. He said they'll provide parking in their garage, unless I bike :)

I'm not sure when it will air, but I will definitely post it as soon as I know. It should be sometime within the next couple of weeks, and you'll be able to listen to it here in SF or via the website.


Oh, yeah, this isn't an Oscar's speech or anything, but for the sake of documenting the process, I should mention that Karen (Url) and Mick each saw about 35 drafts of this essay and heard several hours worth of (pathetic!) talk. I also emailed a few fellow Writing Mamas to get tips on how to pitch my essay. I'm figuring out that more will happen if I just ask questions (of people I think can help) and listen to feedback.

Friday, March 02, 2007


On Sunday, Mick had another kidney stone episode (I almost wrote escapade there, but that's NOT even close). He had one earlier this month on Valentine's night.

He first passed a stone last summer on July 5th. A CAT scan then revealed he had several stones in his kidneys that could pass anytime within the next 5 years. Thanks to the vicodin his doctor prescribed for him then (to have on hand for the next passage), Mick made it through okay. Passing the stones tends to really wipe him out, though. Lots of sleeping.

If you're wondering what passing a stone entails, for Mick, there's unbelievable side back pain (think love handles region), moaning, vomiting, and chills. It's really sad.

A CAT scan Monday revealed he still has -- get this -- a 5mm stone in his left kidney. Holy smokes.

He has an appointment with a urologist to see about scheduling some sort of treatment for it...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

(for Writing Mamas daily blog -- sorry no pix available right now)

Someone stole my boy’s bike. A new neighbor left our shared garage open and now, sadly, they’ve learned it must be kept closed.

But the bike! I bought it at a consignment shop for $20 when Dane was 2 – the future rider that he’d become, just a pedaling speck in my mind.

It turned out, too, that I’d picked a good one – and not just because it had dinosaurs on it. My husband tells me it also had solid components.

That bike inspired a 5 year-old’s rite of passage last year, and we embraced a new independence as he broke new ground – sometimes literally – without training wheels.

All summer long, we rode bikes, first in endless circles around our playground; then, to the beach in Sausalito and along the Bay Trail between Marin City and Mill Valley.

We put in about 15 miles a week on that bike –– Dane zig zagging along the Bay Trail and me easing my own bike behind him, his 4-year-old sister pedaling behind me on the trail-a-bike attached to mine.

At first, Dane’s zig zags made my hair stand on end as serious cyclists zoomed by. Eventually, though, he got the hang of using the right side of the trail, and I’d watch him more calmly from behind, his little legs spinning furiously.

Soon he was off-road on the sloping sandy edges, broken cement paths, and tall grass lining the bay. He’d stand up and test his tires in the sand, or point—first with a nod, and later, with a daring hand—to the great white heron or the snowy egret at water’s edge.

Come August, he even advanced to the hilly 5-mile perimeter of Angel Island, working in 100 degree weather with the determination of a yellow jersey rider on the Tour de France.

Now we ride to school a few times a week, and not many students do this regularly. So, when he pulls his helmet off, his hair sweaty and sticking up, his fellow kindergarteners are incredulous, “You rode again today, Dane?” And he smiles shyly with a proud sense of himself.

But riding isn’t about the attention; Dane just loves what it feels like. When his sister says, “Let’s go feel the wind on our arms,” we all know what she means.

Let’s just get out and move ourselves along. Let’s pick warm blackberries in September and brush the rain off our faces in January. Let’s gasp for air after pedaling up steep hills, or soak our socks with water while speeding through puddles. Let’s have an adventure.

And that’s what that bike represented: a little boy gaining a sense of himself and a sense of adventure, powered by his own two legs.

Fortunately, when Dane’s bike was stolen, a friend loaned us an extra one, so we’re still riding. But, right now as I think about it, that’s not the point, neither is the fact that it was stolen – that’s a separate lesson.

The point is: That bike marked the beginning of a journey. I knew the bike wouldn’t last forever, and that Dane would eventually need a bigger one, and probably want to trade in his dinosaur decals for flames, and that one day his rides wouldn’t include me – but that bike marked just the beginning, and provided the vehicle for me to witness it.

Boy, I’ll miss that bike.

Or, maybe what I really mean is: Bike, I’ll miss that boy.