Readers’ Choice #1: Quarantine Fun.

A few of you have taken pity on me and submitted requests for NaBloPoMo post topics. The first comes from Laura, who blogs at il piccolino, and while I enjoy her site for many reasons, surely not least among them is the fact that after each visit, I am merrily humming this tune for the next several days.

Anyhow. Topic request #1:

The upcoming RSV quarantine, and ways you will keep yourself entertained during it. You seem a resourceful lass so maybe it won’t be an issue, but I am always curious about the ‘what does one DO with these babies, anyway?’ question.

For those of you who don’t know, RSV is a virus nearly everyone contracts before the age of two. In healthy children it’s usually no more serious than a cold, but for preemies it can be life-threatening, particularly for those with Simone’s level of chronic lung disease. RSV season runs from now until April, and during that time Simone will only leave the house for walks outside or certain specialist appointments (everything else will be handled by a home nurse who drops by once a month to give Simone a Synagis shot). Visitors are restricted to those who are not sick, know no sick people, and have never touched anything owned by people who might have known sick people in the past.

At the moment, I am hard pressed to imagine having extra time that needs filling, what with freelance work, performing basic baby-minding tasks, and neglecting to clean my apartment. But winter in Minnesota is rarely a cheery affair. By December, sunset occurs shortly after lunch, and I suspect that the enforced solitude—just me, the cats, and the baby, day in, day out—will begin to wear on me.

Thus I have brainstormed a list of possible activities:

1. Assemble cats. Coat baby liberally with butter, then roll in cat food. Place baby on floor. Watch hilarity ensue.

2. Cheese eating contest! If baby isn’t eating solids yet, she forfeits. First prize is more cheese.

3. Engineer Rube Goldberg machine involving baby, cats, and household objects, with the end result being a perfectly shaken Martini.

4. Count things.

5. Story time! Read baby The Yellow Wallpaper.

6. Take up ventriloquism, then put on all-baby versions of Tennessee Williams plays.

7. With soup cans, chopsticks, string, and an empty shoebox, construct a small chariot*. Then, using Roomba, double-sided tape, and filet of salmon, induce cats to pull baby around apartment while you nap.

8. Drinking game! Drink every time baby cries.

9. Mix a paste of flour and water. Dip strips of newspaper in paste and use them to cover baby. Let dry. Tap gently with mallet to loosen cast, then make slit in top and draw baby out. Decorate papier mache baby.

10. Sack race!

Please feel free to try any of these at home.

*Chariot also useful for spur-of-the-moment Ben-Hur reenactments.


  1. Lisa V says:

    The Yellow Wallpaper! I’m always threatening to put a nice groove in the wall.

    My 16-year-old had RSV when she was 6 weeks old. It was scary. We weren’t as prepared as you. I’m sure I gave it to her.

    I think you should invent some drinks for the cats- maybe a cat-a-tonic.

  2. Melanie says:

    Ok I sort of knew about RSV but I had no idea that premie’s should not ever leave the house for 6 months, WOW…. I am very very sorry….

  3. Melissa says:

    Oh Lord, The Yellow Wallpaper. It’s been ages since I’ve read it, but I’m sure it won’t come to that! Fingers crossed that RSV keeps a wide berth. Thinking of you and Simone and wishing you nothing but the best.

  4. akeeyu says:

    If you don’t have a Roomba, can you just give a good sized rat a shot of vodka and have the cats follow Ratty McStaggersworth around the room? Do you think that would work?

  5. RSV is indeed a royal pain in the arse. Harry has had bronchiolitis several times this year already and every time he succumbs to the misery of the snots and the wheezing I furiously vow not to attend another baby group. But when we are confined to quarters for more than a week I tend to lose my tiny mind. Sigh. Poor incarcerated Simone.

    It seems a shame that Simone can’t form a small gang of similarly quarantined babes – they could all be a merry little commune together… perhaps not!

  6. Ah… I hadn’t actually finished, but a small fist came and bashed the return button. The owner has now returned to terrorising the dogs. (A dog! In your apartment! That’ll liven the winter no end!)

    Just wanted to say that the papier mache baby concept is nothing short of genius, and totally do-able. If you’re leaving nose-holes – where’s the harm?!

  7. JenC says:

    My favourite is #8. You can have different drinks for different cries.

    The tired cry = Irish Coffee
    My diaper is dirty cry = Dirty Martini
    I’m hungry = a Guiness beer
    no idea why you are crying = shot of Tequila
    a little fussy cry = wine

  8. WaltzInExile says:

    I know you’re trying to pass the time, but if you’re prepping to redecorate and need to get Simone involved, I think the Gilman is a little bleak. Isn’t there some non-toxic really cool green stuff that I saw on an infomercial that you and Simone could smear on the walls instead?

  9. Bean says:

    You are really toooo funny! Sorry for the quarantine, I was in the exact same position 6 years ago. In fact, 6 years ago today my daughter had been home from the NICU for exactly one week. I wish I had some good advice for you, but pretty much I spent 6 months watching horrible TV while my baby slept on my chest. I swore then that if we ever had another child I would make my husband get cable! Good luck.

  10. Sarah says:

    The Yellow Wallpaper sounds about right. We nearly lost our collective mind that first winter (S came home mid-RSV season so we even missed out on the first couple of months of it!). Useful info: 1) The grocery store is generally abandoned at 11 pm on a Friday. 2) people are SO FREAKED OUT by a baby with a nasal cannula and a big monitor attached to her that they generally back slowly away (would it be worth putting one back on Simone just to keep creepy old ladies from touching her? that’s your call…).

  11. Aurelia says:

    Hey, I’ll let you know how fun number 9 is when we try it in a few weeks for the flathead helmet.

    Unfortunately, they ARE going to leave airholes even though I told them not to. Damn, there goes my escape….

    P.S. I emailed you, but am now convinced that I got it wrong, or I’m stuck in your spam blocker. If you are just behind on replies never mind don’t worry!

  12. I hadn’t even thought about how sucky RSV season is going to be. Especially here in Minnesota where there are few good places that actually deliver nummy food to your house. Just a pity too, I loved delivery sushi when I lived in NY.

    I suggest a netflicks membership.

  13. Candy says:

    You have my sympathies. My only advice to you is this. If Simone starts wiggling her index finger at you and gargles the word “Redrum” over and over again, get the hell out of the house.

  14. Laura says:

    That was some serious high-flying on the humor trapeze there, and thank you. Unfortunate that there is no way to decontaminate visitors at the front door so they could come entertain you with cookies and adult beverages – maybe something like the Brillo-pad shower in “Silkwood” would help.

  15. marcoda says:

    I snorked roasted turkey out my nose. I hope you’re happy. I can’t decide which I want to see more: the cat-chariot or the martini maker or the Tennessee Williams plays. I may have to use these winter survival tips in my own little Minnesotan home.

  16. Heather says:

    Wish I’d had these during my 6-month RSV incarceration. Wouldn’t you know the first time we EVER took my son out into a Starbucks, keeping his stroller completely covered in blankets, was the first time a crazy lady came over, said, “I MUST SEE HIM” and grabbed the blankets!

  17. Alex says:

    Hard to go wrong with The Yellow Wallpaper.

    I’m reminded of the interview I heard, years ago, of an elderly woman in Siberia (?) talking about how cold their meager home got in the winter time and the things they did to pass the time … knit … play dominoes (or some similar thing) … or, she concluded, “sometimes we just sob.”

    If you find yourself just sobbing (though surely not, between the drinks and the Roomba) I think I, and many of the Internets, would be pleased to come up and undertake performance art (think parks, summertime, warm) shielded behind heavy plastic you could put over your door. It’s not that I have any talent, but I am that grateful for the wonderful humor in your blog.

  18. Melissia says:

    You forgot the always fun, make coordinating cat, Roomba and Simone outfits to wear during the festivities. Do a search, I dare you.

  19. susan p says:

    You could spend your time fighting the insurance company. That’s how we spent our RSV quarentine season for our 31 weeker. BTW – we TOTALLY kicked the insurance company’s ASS.

    Kiss that adorable girl for us (well, only if you SWEAR you haven’t been around anyone who may have somehow come in contact with a sickie. And if you bathe in Purell first. Maybe even gargle with it. Sure wouldn’t want to be the one to get Ms. Simone sick.)

  20. Sue says:

    Holy Crap Batman! Have you seen the cost of one Synagis shot? Littlest is getting one Thursday and I had to sign papers and agree to pay if insurance didn’t – total amount was $3440! Littlest was cleared to go to daycare and goes two days a week, so at 10 months old (actual age) we are hoping for the best.

  21. Erin says:

    My 2.5 yo was a 32 weeker, nine weeks in the NICU, born in April and came down with RSV at five months old, five days before she was scheduled to get her first Synagis shot. Complete with five day hospital stay. Good times!

    After that, I felt no compunction in slapping the outreached bacteria-and-virus-infested hands that tried to get within 100 yards of her, including my mother whose idea of “are your hands clean?” is that she washed them after she went to the bathroom before she left her house three hours ago. We kept hand sanitizer on us at all times and we refused to let people hold her or touch her except for her grandparents, and then only after they had gone through the entire NICU hand-washing routine, up to their elbows. Any random strangers who wanted to touch her were told that she has a weak immune system and not to touch her. If they did anyway and managed to escape my slapping hand, we made a big show of running to the nearest restroom to wash whatever part they touched. We were NOT subtle about it.

    Synagis dose increases by weight, along with the price. I hope you have good insurance! It was $32k before we were done.

    She’s sick now, and I think it’s RSV again, but now her immune system is up to it and she’s getting better.

    Just wanted to say that after the first year or so, it gets a lot easier. I don’t think you ever relax, at least I haven’t yet, but they seem to do better and get stronger as they get older.

  22. Jill says:

    The Yellow Wallpaper always puts me in a cheery mood. Take THAT bossy doctor husband! Plus there’s all that creeping, which is good incentive for Simone.
    Other things to do while quarantined: (1) singing 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall while imbibing real beer. I’m proud to say that I once got to 82 Bottles of Beer on the Wall before I passed out.
    (2) Prank calling people you hated in high school. Tell them it’s their doctor’s office and they’re due for their bitch booster shot then moo like a cow and hang up.
    (3) Create an art installation symbolizing fear and alienation using random objects found around the house. Print press releases referring to yourself in the third person and and badger local newspapers for coverage.
    (4) Acquire several dozen glow sticks. Glue them to a pair of black leggings and a black sweater. Don the glowing clothing and turn out the lights. Sing Glow Little Glow Worm with dramatic gestures.

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