Let’s see, where to start.

On Day 2 I left the house early to take our Passat to the dealer yet AGAIN, so Trish was home when Ella woke up, and was here until about 9, when Elizabeth arrived. Trish said Ella had a difficult separation. But when Elizabeth brought Ella to me at my office at 2:30, all was well They had been to the big playground. A little sand, a few swings on the monkey bars and Ella doesn’t care who her parents are as long as somebody’s porking up the college fund. That was two days ago; that’s all I can remember about that.

On Day 3 Elizabeth took Ella to a storytime and to visit and feed some goats. Great.

But the day started in the bowels.

Ella’s has had this stomach thing for about 10 days where she has diarrhea every afternoon around 2 p.m. Not every poop is loose, but in the afternoon, it’s not funny, it’s runny. The first few times were outside (there’s a story there about dogs, and why they shouldn’t lick you in the face, but that’s for another time), and since then she can tell us when it’s about to let loose and we make it to the bathroom.

But we’re trying to get a stool sample to nail the culprit. I’m telling Elizabeth about it, and showing her the specimen cup and how she can scrape up some poop with chopsticks. I can tell she’s not into poop. Her minor is art history. So I tell her not to worry about it, we can get poop from the Pull Up.

I leave the house and within five minutes Elizabeth calls. “Ella just had a little diarrhea.” So I turn around and come home. “She pooped in the toilet,” Elizabeth says. Really. This kid doesn’t know good diarrhea. It was chunky. Loose, but substantial. So I scrape some into the little clear plastic bottle, put that into a ZipLoc bag, scrub up to my elbows and leave again for work.

On the way I drop by the doctor’s and proudly present my sample. The nurse says, “we can culture this, but we can’t get an O & A,” or something. So I say, OK, fine, do what you can do.

By now Trish has the stomach thing pegged to giardia, which the kid could have gotten from our pool, which the HOA doesn’t clean, or from drinking after the dogs, or maybe from a sucking up a mud puddle. The kid’s curious; she sees something and checks it out.

What the nurse means, but doesn’t say, is that the lab can’t tell from a sample scrounged from the toilet if giardia’s taken up residence in our daughter’s gut. She doesn’t tell me we’ll need a “hat” for Ella to poop into.

So, I go on to work. Elizabeth and Ella have great fun. I come home early and all’s right with the world.

Except the poop is still an issue.