Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Miscellany from daily life

Sometimes our daughter says things that keep my husband and I in stitches. My favorites of her recent quotes are:

  • "My Daddy is a good finder, is he? Yeah, he is. He is a good big pepperoni finder."

  • "Mommy? Could you do me a favor? Could you please pick up Mommy and Daddy's room for me?"


It's time for a new purse. I'm not a big fan of shopping for accessories. Shoes, purses, jewelry, makeup, belts - it's not that I don't like the items, it's that I don't enjoy shopping for them. But my purse has had it. I've thought about getting a new one for quite some time. Mine is pretty small and I am not able to carry some things that I would like to carry with me. A bigger one would be nice, but I guess that preference alone was not enough to make me shop for a new one. Then the purse fell into the toilet. That's right. It was a very clean toilet, but a toilet nonetheless. Still I did not feel entirely compelled to replace the purse. Then I managed to set the purse into a pool of blue paint. Yep. A brown suede purse with a brown leather base that is now sky blue. That should do it, right? I should go get a new one. But I did not. I carried around a too small, water damaged, blue painted purse. Yesterday, fate stepped in. The strap of the purse broke. I can no longer carry it on my shoulder, and clutching it while also clutching my preschooler's hand is not a feasible option. I suppose I could pin the strap, but I'm not quite that stubborn. I will get a new purse. I'm thinking Etsy.


I have two and a half weeks left until my baby is due. This morning I received a phone call from my OB's office. My OB has had an accident and has broken both of her arms. Needless to say, having two broken arms is quite inconvenient in her line of work. (I can't say that I can think of too many occupations that would accomodate two broken arms easily.) She was the only reason my husband and I chose the particular hospital that we did. She is a fantastic doctor. She delivered our older daughter in what turned out to be an unexpectedly traumatic and dangerous situation, and she did a stellar job. Now we have to decide whether to simply see her medical partner for our remaining two weeks, or to find a new doctor altogether. So far I have cried at the frustration caused by this turn of events, and I have laughed at the utter ridiculousness of it all.


I have joined my husband in playing Fantasy Football this year. This fact might lead you to believe that I am a big football fan. Not so. I don't dislike football. I just don't know much about it. I grew up in a Big Ten basketball household. No, I joined Fantasy Football out of a desire to understand this sport about which my husband is so passionate, and to spend Sunday afternoons with my husband. And you know what? So far it has been fun! Of course I haven't had to do anything. Mid-morning Sunday I ask, "Was I supposed to change any injured players this week?", and he says, "I took care of it." This is a very good thing for me, since I can correctly match all of eight NFL players with their respective positions, and seven of those are quarterbacks. Yeah, I'm savvy that way.


Today I am envying my friends who have delivered their children a bit early, which seems to be most of them. Most of the babies I know have decided to arrive before 40 weeks. All of my sisters delivered early. I have five friends who have delivered babies this year, and every one of them went early. I probably shouldn't complain yet, though, since I have two weeks to go and therefore cannot say that I myself will not go early. I suppose I should pray that I actually do not go into labor just yet, not until this whole finding a doctor with functional arms thing is resolved. I'm also fighting resentment over the "second births are so much easier" standard that I keep hearing, since my doctor told me that my body will not recognize this as a second birth, given circumstances surrounding my first birth. Kind of makes me feel like that first labor was wasted - except for, you know, the beautiful child who resulted from it.

I'm not bitter.


Coffee time.

Welcoming Autumn

Autumn is here! I feel fortunate that, in the Pacific Northwest, autumn usually arrives right around the time the calendar says it will, give or take a week or two. When my daughter and I woke up yesterday morning, I decided that we would pay attention to the changing of the seasons.

We started the day with oatmeal and maple syrup. "Porridge", my daughter calls it. So good.

Then we made a seasonal necklace. I had originally picked up this little bead kit to throw in the special "Big Sister" activity box that we'll be bringing to the hospital with us. We want our oldest daughter to come and meet her sister in the hospital, but we also know that she will only be interested in looking at the baby for so long. Thus her very own special box.
Unfortunately, I neglected to pack the bead kit right away, and she found it. That's okay, though. It turned out to be a great first day of fall activity. She was a lot more successful at stringing the beads than I thought she would be. Just look at that concentration.
Success! She was one proud three year old.
After beading, we took a trip to the library to stock up on fall books. Apparently some parents plan these things in advance (not I), because most of the seasonal books were checked out. We did manage to find these middle three books, and then we added the classic stories on the top and bottom of the stack. We also stopped by the local fruit market and picked up a bunch of miniature pumpkins. For the rest of the day the pumpkins were arranged, rearranged, stacked, scattered, and played with. At one point they became a family of pumpkins, all with their own voices, traits and identities. Later in the evening they became a gift that she "maked-ed" for her baby sister. Right now they are all in individual gift bags, in a row in the corner of the living room, apparently awaiting the arrival of baby sister.

The idea of making a gift for her sister originated with this dual shower that some friends threw for us last night. Another friend is expecting her child during the same week that we expect ours, so our mutual friends held a shower for both of us. I was afraid that my daughter would not quite understand that the gifts were for the baby, or that she would understand and would be upset by it, but she was fine. Thus her sudden urge to make her own gift for her sister, which we encouraged. All in all, we had a great first day of autumn. Summer passed quickly, but this year I was ready for fall. I just might have to pick up some more miniature pumpkins for seasonal decor, though, since my original bunch are now in gift bags.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Secondhand Pregnancy

It is fairly commonly known that pregnancy can affect a woman's mind. Unusual forgetfulness, confusion, and distraction can all make appearances during pregnancy. This is sometimes referred to (by the mothers themselves) as "Mommy Brain", "Baby Brain", or "Pregnancy Brain".

But can pregnancy affect the minds of those who are not pregnant? I think it might. Tonight I encountered two gentlemen who seemed to have lost their ability to speak sensibly.

The first gentleman tried to help by picking up a bottle of water for me. Would not let me pick it up myself. I do lift a 29.5 lb. child many times each day, but apparently the water bottle (and I'm talking Aquafina, not an office water cooler) was too much. I thanked him. Then he made an attempt at polite conversation. I think. It went like this:

Man: Well, you already have a girl, so this one must be a boy.
Me: Oh, no, we're having another girl.
Man: Oh. Well, the important thing is that you're able to praise the Lord no matter what happens.
Me: [trying to connect his two statements] Yes, I suppose that's true.
Man: We had three girls and then we had our boy.
Me: Huh. He was pretty outnumbered then.
Man: Yeah. We decided to go ahead and have him circumcised.
Me: [blink. blink. Certain that my own brain missed a synapsis. Did not compute.] Is that right? I'd better get this water to my daughter.

I'm still not sure how that conversation even happened.

Then just a few minutes later, an acquaintance approached me and said, "I didn't know you were expecting! When are you due?" I replied, "In about 3 1/2 weeks." A man standing near us had apparently overheard our conversation. I did not know him at all. He leaned over, looked at my belly, and said, "Whoa! Have you been working out? Because you are about to lose some weight!"

What does that mean? Can anyone tell me what that means? Did he say "Whoa!" because I am mammoth, or because he was surprised that I only have 3 1/2 weeks to go? And the rest of his statement...I...what?

It is at times like these when I am grateful that my mother taught me to smile and be polite.

T - 25 Days

With 25 days remaining until Baby is due (not that the due date means much), I find myself falling asleep and waking up with the question, "What do I need to do to be ready to leave for the hospital today?" on my mind. I'd really rather not leave with the house a wreck, the laundry undone, or job tasks unfinished.

This past weekend, the answer to my question was peaches. As my husband mentioned, we bought a couple of boxes of peaches at a local fruit market. About 50 pounds of peaches. Peaches are at their prime for about one day. If we were to leave 50 pounds of peaches on the counter - or even in the fridge, on the unlikely chance that we had that much room in there - for two or three days while we took care of other matters, such as giving birth, we would likely return home to mushy, potentially moldy peaches covered in fruit flies. Appetizing, yes? So we processed them as fast as we could.

They were turned into peach crisp:
They were turned into jam:

They were frozen:

They were canned:
And of course they were eaten. Delicious.

There are still 36 peaches in the refrigerator, awaiting one more full canning session. I am determined that we will not lose a single peach of our 50 lbs. I don't like throwing away food. So tomorrow, somewhere between morning preschool and an afternoon doctor's appointment, canning will happen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Power Of Words

photo by Windy Angels
I've been thinking about words lately. Powerful little creatures, words. I think words are among the most misused of our resources. We use too many of them, we use the wrong ones, we use them carelessly. It's a shame. Here are some things I've noticed about words recently:
  • Excuses and explanations. I have a friend who does not make excuses. She does not seem to have a need for explaining herself. Last week she and I were both part of a group that had been asked to provide one volunteer for an ongoing job. Nobody wanted to do it. We all provided reasons for why we could not take the job - except this friend. She just said, "No" and left it at that. She and I serve on another team together. We had a meeting recently. When asked if she would be able to attend, she said, "Yes, but I have to leave at 8:00." No explanation as to why. She just had to leave at 8:00. The end. I love that. I love that she doesn't try to explain herself. She just gives her answer and leaves it at that. No outs. No maybes. Her word is true, and she doesn't need to explain her reasons to anybody. This is not just true of her "no", either. If she says, "Yes", then you can just know that she means it. She'll be where she says she'll be, she'll do what she says she'll do. She doesn't need to justify her decisions. It's refreshing.
  • Lyrics. Trying to describe a song when one does not know the lyrics is difficult, somewhat pointless, and frustrating to both parties. My sister recently tried to describe a song to me. She thought that I would like it, since I am the mother of a young child and am expecting another child soon. But she didn't know the name of the artist or the song, and she couldn't remember the lyrics or melody. These are all key components of songs. She said, "It's something about golden ringlets and...umm...how cute they are when they're sleeping...and...how fast they grow up. It's so sweet!" I'm sure the song is lovely and touching, but I simply couldn't relate to my sister's level of emotion when discussing the song, because - well, I'll admit, just the phrase "golden ringlets" doesn't leave me in a state of great emotional vulnerability. So there we were, she so excited and emotional about the song, and all I could say was, "Huh. That sounds nice."
  • Language development. My daughter brought a crafted foam frog home from church today, the kind of preschool craft that hangs over a doorknob. I asked her what her frog's name was. She said it was George Eastman. Then she corrected herself and said the frog's name was George Eastfrog. He is not a man, you see, but a frog, so he couldn't have the name Eastman.
  • Meaning. Have you ever noticed how often we say things that we don't mean? I'm starving. That is the ugliest thing I've ever seen. I hate this computer. We don't really speak plainly. Plain speech, like a true and simple "yes" or "no", is refreshing. One thing I catch myself saying frequently is, "I can't believe..." I can't believe how big she's getting. I can't believe we graduated so long ago. I can't believe how many times that telemarketer has called. Not true. I can believe all those things. When I am intentional about my speech, I try to say, "I can hardly believe..." or "It is hard to believe..." I think this implies that belief is still attainable, but that the object of belief has somehow amazed me or caused me to reflect upon the quick passage of time.

Speaking of the power of words, I'm hearing a plaintive "Mom-mYYYYYYY!" from the other room, so I had better respond to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

I received this email from my brother, who is a 1st Lieutenant serving in Iraq. I share this with his permission.

"Well it is September 11th, and I have been deployed for 10 months. We have a flag in our compound here and we lowered it to half staff this morning. Over here we take each day one at a time, but days like today make what we are doing even more important.

I work with building the new Iraqi Army. We are trying to build an Iraqi military that can take the fight to insurgents, which they are doing more and more. We also are training them to treat the people right. This country was ruled by an iron fist for thirty years and it is difficult to get them to take personal responsibility or to take charge in the absence of orders. We are getting there slowly but surely.

In the spring I met a young Iraqi private, his name was Joseph Najim Abdullah. He was a bright kid, he said he was 18 but likely he was no more than 16, not much older than our Joe [our youngest brother]. He was one of our basic trainees, and when we did our testing he scored well. He scored high enough that he was going to be placed in the communications school. That was until violence flaired up in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City. Half of that basic training class was pulled from training 3 weeks into their 5 weeks of training, sent to an Iraqi division given a rifle and sent into the fight. In April Joseph was killed by a sniper in Sadr City. Joseph represents what is good about this country, young men not much different than us, standing up and volunteering to fight for what they believe in. Our mission is to train them and prepare them for the worst they might face. Sometimes we do it in spite of bad decisions from the Iraqi govenment, like the choice to take soldiers not even through basic training and throwing them into the worst neighborhood of Baghdad against a determined, experienced insurgent force.

I don't usually reflect, but today is a special day. I am sure for those back home it is easy to get wrapped up in the election coverage and who is right or wrong. For those of us over here it really doesn't matter who is President, it is about the people serving next to you."

As so many have said, regardless of what you think about the war, you must - you must - support the warrior. Please don't forget.

Photo by jbdjbdjbd

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Worst First Day

Today is a very important day in our home. Today was the first day of school (unless you count this, of course). And, if I may be so bold as to say so, it was a disaster. I don't even have any pictures to show you. That's how bad it was. No pictures of the first day of school.

My Munchkin started preschool this morning. It's just preschool. She's just three. It's two mornings a week for two hours each morning. It's not a big deal. Right?

It really started last night at the parent orientation meeting. My husband and I found it ironic that the literature we were given stressed that young children need plenty of sleep, about eleven hours a night - but we were kept in the meeting until 8:30. After picking our daughter up from the home of the friends who were watching her, and then going through our regular bedtime routine, this meant that our daughter was not in bed until 10:00. Yeah. That's late for a three year old.

This morning she woke up at 6:00, distraught and tired. She climbed into bed with us. Knowing that she was exhausted, I let her sleep as long as I dared: 8:00. Then we had to wake her up. If you have kids, you no doubt have experienced the phenomenon of being awakened by an exuberant child earlier than you would like on every morning, except those mornings when you have to be somewhere. Then the child wants to sleep. That's just how it works. So we woke her up at 8:00, and she was cranky and slow-moving. I brushed her hair while she ate her yogurt. That went well. That is the only thing that went well. She finished her breakfast and we told her to try to use the bathroom. She didn't want to. We made her anyway. She tried, crying the whole time. She didn't go. Since she woke up dry, this did not bode well. (You know what's coming, don't you?)

She continued to cry as we dressed her. This, by the way, is not normal for our child. She's usually pretty easy going and happy, especially in the morning. We suspected that she was acting out of nervousness, which made it a little difficult to know how to react. She cried until she was buckled into her carseat...and then she was fine. I was a mess by that point, feeling angry and disappointed, but not wanting to display those emotions to my daughter and make her any more anxious about the day.

We arrived at the school just on time and entered the classroom with the other families. Today's class was only one hour, and parents were to stay with their child. We met the teachers and some of the other families. One of my daughter's friends from church is in her class, and the two of them promptly settled themselves at the puzzle table together. She decorated a crayon-shaped name tag, writing her own name. She was thrilled to find a toy kitchen and probably would have spent the rest of the morning there, had circumstances allowed it. We were feeling pretty good about the whole thing at that point. I had calmed down and decided to forget the challenges that we had faced at home. Then...she turned around and gave me the "uh-oh" look. It was too late. She was wet. She was clearly not pleased about this happening, and neither were we.

She's not completely potty-trained. We know this. I spoke with the preschool director last week and was very open with her about this fact. She was kind and helpful. But, despite being not quite completely trained, our daughter has never had an accident away from home, not since she started wearing regular underpants. Plenty of accidents at home, but never away from home. For this reason, we have not been too worried about her potential success at preschool. But today, on the first day of school, she stood in her classroom and had an accident. We again stayed calm, trying to make this day as happy as possible for her. Andy ran home to get a change of clothes. I know...we should have had one with us. We have had a change of clothes in the car for weeks. I brought it inside earlier this week. My daughter and I waited in the hallway of the school until Andy returned. This would have been okay if we had been alone. We weren't. The preschool director and another mom were in the hall, and when the director asked if she could help with anything, I lost it. The whole frustrating morning - the exhausted child, the fight to get her ready, the way everything went exactly opposite of the way I had pictured it, and then the accident - I was unable to juggle it all in my heart any longer. I cried. The director tried to comfort me, no doubt thinking I was an emotional mom who couldn't handle her child's first day of school. I guess that is technically correct, although it really wasn't about my daughter growing up or gaining independence or not needing me or anything like that. Or if it was about that, it was not at a conscious level. For me, it was about having a rotten morning. It was about feeling angry and disappointed and embarrassed. It was about sitting out 25 minutes of a one hour class session. The director was so kind, but when I feel like that, I don't want to be comforted, at least not in public and by a stranger. I want to be left alone. Left alone, I can compose myself. Being "ooh"-ed and "there, there"-ed over simply opens the floodgates. It was terrible. At one point I managed to say that I really was fine, and the director said, "Oh, I know, you're just hormonal"...which sounds condescending, but it wasn't. She's right. I'm 35 weeks pregnant and haven't slept a comfortable, uninterrupted eight hours in weeks. I'm tired and, truly, hormonal. I was not this emotional during my first pregnancy, but this time around...well, my husband is a wonderfully patient man.

My husband got back with the change of clothes, we changed said clothes, and we joined the rest of the class for the closing circle time. Well...Andy and my daughter joined the class, I took a few minutes alone in the restroom to finish my cry and make myself presentable. Then we were fine. My daughter was happy and interacted with her teachers and the other students just fine. They had all the parents leave the room at the end of class, a sort of strange attempt to practice the usual pick-up routine and to find out which children would react poorly to having their parents leave. One poor little boy ran out of the room wailing. I felt so badly for him. During the entire hour, he had clung to his mother, who kept trying to push him away and make him play with the other children, saying things like, "All of the other children are good, and you are bad. You need to be good like the other children". Yikes. Poor kid. Anyway, our daughter had no problem with us leaving, never has, so at least we had reassurance about that.

She has been fine ever since then. Happy. Dry. Obedient. I'm sure she was tired and anxious, and I want to be sensitive to that. One of these days, I'll look back on today and laugh...right? Well, maybe not. Maybe this morning was just a life lesson, teaching me once again that the best-laid plans of mice and moms often go awry. Of all the lessons my children have taught and are teaching me, this is the one that is reviewed most often. Some days it is easier to accept than others.

The bottom line is that today was the first day of preschool, and my daughter enjoyed herself and is excited to go back. And that's what matters. And to make the day brighter for both of us, I baked sugar cookies when we got home. The dough was not homemade, and I don't care.