Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fun Things

Fun treats have been arriving in our house lately.

My parents sent a little treat for me. If you recognize what's under the brown wrapper, I'm not telling you where I hid it. If you don't recognize the container... well... forget I mentioned it.

And a treat for BestestHusband. Being a soon-to-be-Daddy requires sugary fortification.

And the garden gave us our first ripe tomato. What a treat! We've had some cucumbers and a zucchini. But we're thrilled to have tomatoes. Now we just have to keep them away from the bunnies...

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Episode Brought to You By the Letters C, F, and G

So I've had some really wonderfully productive days lately. I can't take credit for the productivity. As with Sesame Street, I must give credit to the sponsors in my life that have made this productivity possible. 

I'm almost ready for the baby. I still need to pack overnight bags for myself and the girls. But other than that, we're good. I made a freezer meal tonight. After making a respectable dinner with leftovers. And got yogurt started. Last week, I disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled a carseat and a bassinet. I washed and folded a newborn wardrobe. I re-organized the basement a bit and put away some things in our bedroom to make room for the bassinet. I bought school shoes for HeyMama today. And a gift for BestestHusband's birthday. And we girls did some fun things, too. We went to the circus yesterday. We spent a lot of the morning at the playground and riding bikes. And I still managed to keep everyone sort of fed and clothed, and I still took my afternoon naps. I'm pretty happy with how it's all been going.

But I must give credit where credit's due:

The letter C:  Caffeine. I've tried giving it up in the past. I was even successful from time to time. But lately, I've gone back to it. In small amounts. But it's been crucial in motivating me to stay off the couch. Let's face it. I've never been much of a morning person. And kids typically are. So we have an inherent miss-match of natural states. I just need a bit of caffeine in the morning to get things going. And when I do, we get going and get stuff done. So thank you, caffeine.

The letter F:  Friends. The carseat that I cleaned is from a friend (thanks Joy!). The bassinet that I cleaned is from a friend (thanks Jen!). And the reason that I had time to clean them? A friend took the girls to the zoo for me on Friday morning (thanks Anne!) and took over my preschool music time duties for me this morning (thanks Anne!). We had an invite and encouragement to go to the circus yesterday with friends (thanks Jackie!), which was a fun excursion. The days have passed quickly and happily thanks to friends. And passing the last few days of a pregnancy, especially happily, is quite a feat. So thank you, friends. 

The letter G:  Grace of God. I've been quite healthy this pregnancy. The girls have been healthy. Life has been calm and free from crisis. This is all beyond my control. I've been shockingly patient over the last few days, especially today. As I was trailed through the grocery store by a tantrumming 4.5 year old today screaming about a cookie that she wanted, then didn't want, then wanted again, then didn't want, I thought to myself, "Hmmm, I don't have the sudden urge to dropkick her off the back porch, despite a morning of whining and complaining. I'm remarkably calm." I can tell you that this was the Grace of God in action. That was not my deep reserve of patience in action there. I don't have a deep reserve of patience on my own. I'm usually struggling to not totally lose my shite when the girls are being jerks in public. I did not struggle today. It just happened. That was God in action, not me. So thank you, God.

We're plugging along. I'm at 38 weeks and counting. We'll take a belly shot soon. Poor 3rd kid, I don't have any pregnancy pictures for this one yet. Oh well. Thanks to caffeine, friends, and the grace of God, I'm sure she'll be fine anyway.

I hope your life is full of helpers this week, too! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Parenting MegaFail

Ever wonder what would happen if you left your child's lunchbox at school for a week and a half? With food still in it?

Wonder no more. I'll show you. 

The first hint of trouble was the mold growing on the OUTSIDE of the lunchbox. Uh-oh... 

There are even different colors of mold growing.

Ah-ha. The leftover yogurt is the culprit.

Mold under a container and on the spoon.

Fuzzy mold in the corners.

Hmmm, that looks like a lot of mold IN the container...

There's definitely some ON that container...

The mold created its own seal. The picture doesn't quite capture the fuzziness of the growth. 

It grew to fill the whole container.

It fell as a solid clump into the sink.
There was a rational reason for leaving the lunchboxes there, but I won't get into it right now. Needless to say, I won't be repeating that science experiment. I doubt you'll be, either.

The scrubbing worked. They're clean! The lunch boxes are useable again! Sometimes it pays to be a cheapskate...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

No Medals for Martyrs.

Isn't it funny how the advice you dish out is sometimes the advice that you need the most?

While I was cooking dinner, HeyMama was outside, attempting to put the bikes away in the basement. Due to a heavy bike and some concrete steps, I doubted her ability to actually complete the task. But I gave her the go-ahead to try, and checked in on her after a few minutes. I peered off the upstairs deck to find her walking in circles on the patio, crying. When I asked what was wrong, she said she couldn't open the basement door. She'd been walking in circles and crying for a few minutes by the time I found her, poor kid. I asked my standard question:  "What would have been a faster way to get help?" She knew the answer: "Ask for it."

This is my third pregnancy. It's been 4 years since my last one, but I still remember a few things. And I've definitely learned a few things. Like the necessity of asking for and accepting help.

I've learned that there are no medals for martyrs when it comes to motherhood. There are things that you just need to do. You don't get bonus points for doing them the hard way. Oh, you can do things the hard way if it makes you happy. Like natural birth. Or breastfeeding despite thrush, bleeding nipples, and a ravenous baby that eats for 45 minutes every 2 hours. Or using cloth diapers despite having infants that poop prolifically 4 times a day. Hey, if you feel strongly about the benefits of doing things the hard way (as I did in the past), then go for it. Stick to your guns, let morals be your guide, and go for it. But don't expect a medal for doing it. 

In the past, I worked up until the day I gave birth or became too physically limited to work anymore. In the past, I declined offers of assistance, insisting that I was strong enough to do it all myself. "Use it or lose it!" was my mantra. I tried to do things the hard way. I didn't want to be weak. 

Not any more. I ask the employees at the pet store to get the 30 lb bags of dog food off the shelf for me. I let the baggers at the grocery store load groceries into my car. I asked my brother-in-law to haul watermelons up the stairs for me. I let my sister-in-law help with the laundry and cooking while they were visiting. I take the elevator up ONE FLOOR at work if I don't feel like taking the stairs. I ask BestestHusband to lift and move things for me around the house. Because, well, it's harder than it used to be, I really don't want to do it, and I'm 8+ months pregnant. I can accept a little help here and there. 

Trust me, this is a big deal that I'm willing to accept help. It's always been a challenge for me. It's been something that's been an active DETRIMENT to my personal and professional development. But I'm proud to say that I'm working on it. I'll let my friend take the girls to the zoo on Friday. Despite the fact that she has a preschooler and infant of her own. This imposition truly makes me cringe. But I want her to accept help from ME in the future. (HINT HINT, ANNE!) And people must give and take help to make the system work. I'll let my neighbor watch the girls next Wednesday while I go to an OB appt. I'll let her family host us for dinner that evening. Despite that fact that they have 3 kids already. (Stifling a cringe...) We're doing a potluck meal, so that automatically makes me feel better. But still, it's a stretch for me, and I'm going to stretch. Heck, if my last week of work is too painful, I'll start my leave early. And "cook" sandwiches for dinner. Or let Subway "cook" them for me. And if Little Miss decides to take a leisurely trip into the world, I would even consider pain relief for this delivery. Ok, maybe. This might still be a bit of a stretch for me. But I'm willing to stretch and CONSIDER it...

I keep reminding myself that there are no medals for martyrs. No medals. I am blessed by others when I accept their help, and I allow them to be a blessing when I do. So I need to do it. Wish me luck.

In what aspects of your life should you accept more help?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Death and God.

I lost a coworker today. Due to an accident, the coworker was actually a patient at our rehab hospital. Due to a sudden and unexpected medical event, he won't recover from his injuries and return to his previous position. 

We're all in shock. He was a nice guy, a great coworker. He was a music lover. He actually invited me to a music event at my church, not knowing I was actually manning the nursery at the event. He was willing to discuss God at work. I've discovered this to be a rare thing in this area. 

So I guess it's fitting that his death resulted in more conversations about God at work today. I engaged in three of them, myself. Without initiating any of them. 

Death seems to encourage us to take a pause from our daily concerns and think of the bigger picture. 

What is the bigger picture? What will our colleagues talk about when we die? What would our concept of death be if we were all willing to talk about God more during life?

I don't have the energy to do this topic justice. But prayers would be appreciated for the family of JK. And all of his coworkers. Thanks. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Luck. Or Lack?

Luck is a tricky thing. I'm not much of a gambler, because I don't really like luck. I prefer control. 

So when BestestHusband suggested that we fly on non-rev standby tickets to see family over 4th of July, I was a bit skeptical. We weren't guaranteed seats, but got whatever was leftover. IF there was anything leftover. Yet the price was right, saving over $200 per ticket. 

It was the only way we could see extended family on our budget. So I acquiesced. 

The trip out to MN was smooth. We got tickets close together, two in one row, two immediately behind. Life was good. 

The trip home was different. For starters, BestestHusband wasn't traveling with us. He had business matters to attend to, and flew out Sunday, planning to join us at home late Monday night. So I was flying home alone with the girls. 

My in laws checked the list the night before we were scheduled to fly out. The lists looked good, with lots of open seats. We chose afternoon flights. There were plenty of good options. 

Things looked different the next morning. Seats had filled overnight. We discussed various contingencies. Ultimately, we headed to the airport with our fingers crossed and my FIL in tow in case we had to split the family and come on different flights. We had jammies and toothbrushes packed in my carry on in case our suitcases went to Boston and we had to spend another evening in MN. We hoped for the best. 

We were at the very bottom of the standby list. Things looked grim. Everyone else boarded the plane. We were the last people sitting in the boarding area. Then they called our names. They had 3 seats. We were getting on the flight. My FIL could go home. 

We were assigned middle seats in three consecutive rows. Neighbors were kind enough to move so we could sit together. I felt incredibly lucky. It had all worked out as planned. 

Takeoff was as exciting as usual for the girls. MeToo sat by the window and thoroughly enjoyed the show. It's hard not to get excited when you sit near her. Takeoff was quick, but a bit noisier than usual. We found out why 10 minutes later, and got the announcement that something was amiss with the hydraulics system. We were headed back to Minneapolis. We circled around long enough to dump fuel, and were greeted by fire trucks as we landed. We were fine. But we weren't headed to Boston anytime soon. Our luck had turned. 

Our 1:10 flight was rescheduled for 6:45pm. How do you entertain 2 preschoolers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport for 4+ hours and then 2+ hours of flying?

  • Well, first you buy $18 worth of yogurt and cookies to keep everyone well fed. Yes, that's 3 yogurts and 3 cookies for $18. 
  • Then you go to the play space. It's across from gate C12. You let them climb and run and pretend to use the coin operated rides. Giving quarters for the rides is unnecessary. But giving them all of your pennies for the coin vortex is well worth the money. When they start whining and complaining about tiny bumps and owies, it's time for a change of scenery. 
  • So you can ride the tram. It's free. It goes back and forth on the same track. But different people get off and on. It can really eat up some time. 
  • Then you can play with the interactive screens near the mall area. Your shadow makes the little umbrellas scatter like leaves. It's mesmerizing. And another good time-waster. 
  • Then you can look for the quiet seating area near the Conference Center, overlooking the entrance to Concourse F. There are comfy chairs and a couch there. Unfortunately for us, the couch was taken. We all could have used a nap at that point. 
  • Then you find the toy store downstairs from there. Look at all of the toys. Play with the interactive game screen. Buy a small toy for future appeasement. 
  • Soon, it's time to find dinner. Find a $10 grilled cheese sandwich for the girls, and a $6 fruit cup. Realize that it's not enough to feed you, but you've already swiped your credit card, and just move on. 
  • Deal with a belligerent 4 year old. Threaten to leave her behind in the food court. Get to the gate. Buy another sandwich for another $10. (The threatening might be optional. Feel free to substitute another technique born of frustration if you'd like.)
  • Find out you're at the end of the list for standbys again, but hear from the gate agent that your chances are good to get on the flight, anyway. Talk to Daddy on the phone for a while until it causes conflict between two tired preschoolers who can create conflict out of anything. Find out that both flights will be arriving within a half-hour of each other in Boston. Watch all of the people get on the plane. Eat your own sandwich. Have 2 girls insist they're not hungry. Have 2 girls insist they don't need to use the bathroom. 
  • Move closer to the gate in anticipation of boarding. Have a 3 year old tell you she needs to potty "despewately" and can't wait. Get the nod from the gate agent. Tell the girls it's time to run to the bathroom. Have the 4 year old whine that she can't run. Grab her arm and demonstrate otherwise. Try not to sound like a crazy lady while running to the bathroom and hissing to the 4 year old that her belligerence could keep you from getting on a plane to go home. Help the 3 year old pee quickly. Ignore the sulking 4 year old who insists she won't need to pee ALL NIGHT. Run them back to the gate. 
  • Have the gate agent wave you onto the plane, with boarding passes for the last 3 open seats on the plane. Gather your bags. Realize that your 3 year old left her backpack in the bathroom. Try not to cry. Get the go-ahead from the gate agent to run and get it. Leave the girls and bags with a total stranger and run. Find the backpack on the bathroom floor. Run back to the gate. Usher everyone onto the plane, and head towards the very last row. Realize along the way that you pulled an important muscle, probably a groin muscle. Consider that sprinting while almost 8 months pregnant isn't a wise move. Get to row 39 and discover that there is no window. Watch your 4 year old completely lose it. Suppress the urge to cry along with her. 
  • Buckle everyone in. Distribute the $10 grilled cheese sandwich and water bottles. Gladly accept the Twizzlers from the mom of 4 sitting a row ahead. Give a prayer of thanksgiving for angels like her. Watch the Twizzlers stop the flow of tears. Pray that this plane actually makes it to Boston. Daddy is sorely missed. As is bedtime. Then hear the 4 year old insist that she had to go to the bathroom "desperately". Sigh audibly. 

Well, we did make it to Boston. MeToo slept most of the way, and HeyMama was happy with an iPod and 1:1 attention. And the toy I bought at the toy store. I limped and waddled with the girls to BestestHusband's gate, and we were waiting for him when he got off the plane. MeToo greeted him with an enthusiastic "DAAADDDYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!" and ran to him for a hug. BestestHusband helped with the bags, and we shared a cab ride home. It was after midnight when we finally arrived. But we got home. Together. Somewhat in one piece. With all of our luggage. 

So I guess our luck held out in the end. I felt bad for the young woman who started in LA, but had mechanical problems turn her plane around and keep her in LA an extra night. She finally made it to Minneapolis to connect to Boston. She was booked on the 3:15 flight, but got on as a standby onto the 1:10 flight. That was our flight. Her SECOND flight to get turned around for mechanical issues. She had already given up her 3:15 seat. She was booked on the 6:45 with us. Her luck was definitely lacking. 

And the passengers on the Korean flight into San Francisco definitely had worse luck. Ultimately, our luck was not lacking at all. Everything else was just inconvenience.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

6th of July

We're on the road for the second weekend in a row. Last weekend was a quick trip to northwest CT to see friends. We took the Pike west to modern-day Mayberry. Well, if 80% of Mayberry consisted of vacation homes for Manhattanite hedge-fund managers... It was our intro to summer lake culture. The kids were able to ride bikes to the lake. There was a great swimming area with lifeguards, and a beach stocked with sand toys. The lawn overlooking the beach was shaded, and there was a great playground. It was heaven for kids. And heaven for parents that could turn them loose there. 

Now we're in MN, which is heavenly in its own way. We're staying with BestestHusbands parents, and we're joining in on a visit by his sister and her 3 yr old. In other words, the girls are soaking up some fun with Grandma, Grandpa, and their younger cousin. 

Life is good. 

Life here has consisted of playgrounds, kiddie pools, a trip to the lake beach, a boat trip and swim in the lake, and multiple trips to the neighbor's rope swing. And homemade treats from Grandma and Grandpa. 

The girls saw their first live fireworks on 4th of July. I think it was as magical for me as it was for them. We got an invite from one of Grandma's coworkers to watch the fireworks from her house. She has lakefront property near the community firework show, and from their yard, you can look across the lake to see the shows from surrounding communities. There were just a lot of fireworks. 

We got there before dark, and the girls had fun running around with some of the other kids there. They ate giant patriotic cupcakes. They begged for more chips and soda. As the light faded, they acquired glow sticks. I had no idea glow sticks would be such a big hit. Now I know. 

When it was finally dark enough, the show began. I had commandeered a lawn chair early in the evening. I had a great vantage point. HeyMama was running around with a neighbor girl, but MeToo stood transfixed by the spectacle. I pulled her close and she settled in for the show. 

She narrated for us. "That one's purple and green! That one's red and blue!" She watched the whole thing intently. It was pure magic in the eyes of a 3 year old. It's still pure magic to me. 

The feeling of that night embodies 4th of July to me. The air was warm and soft, with the perfect amount of breeze. Kind people shared their lakefront property with us, extending generous hospitality. We had traveled there to see family, without prior government approval. We could sing patriotic songs (or not), free to assemble in any way we saw fit. My second child talked to the third child in my belly. We didn't need government approval to have that second or third child. The endless little freedoms we enjoy are so small, yet so significant. And added together, they weave a rich and wonderful life in America. 

So happy belated birthday, America. May you prosper and enjoy many more free and happy years ahead.