Friday, May 30, 2014

Birthday Girl

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33 Years old, 34 weeks pregnant.  (Feet swollen to 35 times their normal size.)  (Not really, but it feels like it.)  Boom!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Feeling Worthy

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, my sister-in-law organized a birthday party for me, a totally unexpected one.  Last night, at boot camp, I got an award for our MOLO competition even though I missed the MOLO awards night (and was secretly hoping/not hoping that I would be forgotten – no one really wants to be forgotten, but I don’t enjoy public praise so much).  Tomorrow is my birthday.  On Saturday, a good friend is throwing me a “baby sprinkle” and in two weeks, I’ll be one of eight moms being honored at a gigantic boot camp baby shower.


I LOVE blessing others with parties and awards and gifts and affection and praise.  I have a real hard time receiving those same blessings.  Maybe it’s a self-esteem issue, maybe it’s something else.  All I know is that I’m much more comfortable giving than receiving.


So today, I want to say a very public, very heartfelt THANK YOU to Sarah and her extended family, and my mother-in-law, and Sylvie, and everyone else who made me feel so celebrated last Saturday.  Your thoughtfulness was so touching.  And THANK YOU to the women in my MOLO challenge group who said so many kind words.  Yes, I did work hard to reach my fitness goals and no, it wasn’t easy, but it is so nice to be recognized for my effort.  And THANK YOU, in advance, for everyone who will be celebrating me this weekend and in two weeks.  I love you all and I sincerely hope that I will return the blessing someday.  Because that would make me really happy.


Self-improvement is an ongoing thing, and a worthy endeavor for everyone, I think.  If you don’t want to get better, what’s the point, right?  One of my more recent goals has been to accept, to really internalize, compliments.  It’s a huge compliment to have others do nice things for you.  Today, tomorrow, and hopefully forever more, I’m allowing myself, even encouraging myself, to feel worthy of your love.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


We left Friday at about 5 pm and took our sweet time getting to I-90.  First, we dropped the dog at the kennel, where he acted as if he couldn’t get away from us fast enough.  It’s a good thing he’s just as happy to go home as he is to get there, otherwise I would worry.  It starts with the whining and squealing when we get off the freeway, then evolves to prancing in the backseat and trying to move back and forth between the back window and the windshield to get a better view of the kennel.  Aren’t we going to the kennel?  We’re going to the kennel, right?  THERE IT IS, THE KENNEL.  I SAW IT.  I SAW IT.  WE’RE GOING THERE.


We leisurely drove the back roads and avoided I-405 and the mess that is Greater Seattle Traffic (it’s totally a proper noun), arriving in North Bend right around dinner time.  We went on our merry way, hitting some traffic over the pass and finally arriving in Richland shortly after 11 PM.  We put the kids to bed (Jamie sang and danced in bed for at least ten minutes, happy to have arrived at last), watched the meteor shower (we saw one meteor), and took ourselves to bed.  All in all, a fine trip.


Our way back, however, tested the limits of car and bladder endurance.  We left Richland around 11 am on Monday, Memorial Day.  I knew that the pass would be busy, I was totally prepared for a slow drive over, but I failed to take into account the many thousands of people leaving the Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge that same day.  Not your regular holiday traffic.  As we passed Ellensburg, I thought, hmm, there’s an easy rest stop near Cle Elum, we’ll stop there for a bathroom break. 


Juuuuust beyond the last Ellensburg exit, we slowed to a stop.  A dead standstill.  Not even a crawl.




It took us two hours to drive the 21 miles from Ellensburg to the Cle Elum rest stop.  At one point, a young guy got out of the car next to us (clearly a Sasquatch attendee) and walked on his hands around the car he had just vacated.  “Girls,” Tony said.  “He’s riding with girls.  He has to show off.”  Whatever, if I could walk on my hands, I’d do it all the time.


Do you have (or have you had) small, potty-trained boys?  Ever noticed how they can’t just pull their pants down a little ways, or unzip their flies (if they even have them) to pee?  No, they have to drop their pants all the way to the ground, putting their cute, little boy-butts on display as they do their business.  Lucky me, I got to teach Jamie and Charles about why they shouldn’t pee into the wind.


You know who didn’t pee by the side of the road, a road bordered by fields and low scrub bushes, with nary a copse of trees in sight?  Me.  I’m not sure I could have balanced to squat anyhow, but there was literally no place to go.  I held it until the rest stop, at which point I didn’t even get an offer to let me, the visibly pregnant lady, cut to the front of the line.  Where has common courtesy gone?


We split off a couple of miles (and many, many minutes) later to head north on Highway 97.  We hooked up with Highway 2 and started over the pass.  It was a beautiful drive and passed at a reasonable pace.


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A rest stop near the Wenatchee River


Until we got to 20 miles east of Sultan (which is on the west side of the pass, about 30 miles from Everett).  Then, another standstill.  Stopped cars, no explanation.  Except, weirdly, every once in awhile we would move about 50 car lengths.  It took us two-and-a-half hours to drive the 20 miles into Sultan.  The reason?  Sultan has three stoplights, all of them timed for about 50 car lengths, despite the nonexistence of cross-traffic. 


Of course, the entire time we were stuck outside of Sultan, the kids asked, every five minutes, “When are we gonna beeee theeeerrre?”


We arrived home around 8 pm, hungry, tired, and sore (if you’re keeping score at home, that’s a NINE HOUR CAR TRIP).  At least I was sore.  My back, my butt, my pelvis, my hips.  I was dehydrated because the last thing I wanted to do was have to pee every half an hour, especially when we might not have moved more than five miles in that half an hour and there was no bathroom anyway.


It’s the mark of a good weekend, however, when a drive like that cannot eclipse the fun we had.



Boy cousins had the BEST time together


We played with cousins and I got to catch up with a great friend (who also happens to be my sister-in-law).  Tony’s brother-in-law set up an elaborate splash park in their backyard and we had a barbeque that was also (surprise!) a birthday party for me.

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Cousin Juliet was BEGGING to have her chubby cheeks chomped all weekend.  Lucky for her, I was too hot and swollen to attack her in all her cuteness.


My friend Maggi visited from Walla Walla, so we got to sit around and be lumps of pregnant inertia together.  We’re due within three days of each other, so I’m hoping our babies can be birthday buddies.


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Ultimately, the weekend trip was all about family.  We won’t get a chance to drive east again for awhile, and despite the God-awful trip home, I’m really, really, really glad we went.


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But I’ll say this: Never again will we travel on Memorial Day.  Never.  Again.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let’s Obsess

Hey, friends!  Here I am at 32 weeks and change:


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Still exercising, religiously.  Still not making any difference in how big I get.


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Do you know how many pairs of pants I have that still fit?  TWO.  And one of them is white, which makes everything I eat a potential mess.  Oh, look!  I brought beet salad for lunch!


I have a doctor’s appointment today, at which I will report that I have TOTALLY SLOWED DOWN in the last two weeks.  Two weeks ago, I stopped running.  My abdominal muscles have given up on trying to hold this belly up during bouncing activities like running and my uterus thinks that any amount of cardio is license to contract.  Contractions are uncomfortable, you know?  I’ve also started sneaking in a nap whenever I can because, come 2 o’clock, I can barely keep my eyes open.


I’m so thankful I have a job that is flexible and children who love preschool so that I can sleep in the middle of the day like a goddamn lazy asshole.


Also this week?  Or maybe next?  I will crest 200 pounds.  I keep hoping that the weight gain will slow down along with the rest of me, but no such luck.


The bottom line is that pregnancy just isn’t as much fun this time around.  My boys take up all my available energy, and as I’ve said before, I’m an anticipator.  I love planning and imagining and preparing for what’s to come.  In short, I love obsessing.  And it would appear that the only thing I have to obsess about this time around is my size.


The baby’s name was decided long ago.  Turns out that Tony and I often agree with each other (good for a marriage), and Charles and Jamie even approved their new brother’s name (not that it would matter if they didn’t – these are two boys who think fart jokes are funny, reading-level-2 Superman comics are great literature, and ‘fruit snacks’ is a major food group.  Their taste is questionable, is what I’m saying).There are lots of things that I CAN’T do before baby arrives: adjusting the crib, finishing the bathroom remodel, fixing the fence – and a whole lot of things that I haven’t done yet because by the time I put the boys to bed, I just don’t have the energy and my swollen feet demand to be put up: washing and adjusting all the cloth diapers, washing all the newborn clothes, getting out the pump and the sterilizer and the baby toys.


All of these things were fun and exciting the first time around, and heartwarming the second time (“Oh!  Do you remember this onesie?  I can hardly believe Charles was ever so small!”).  Now, these are merely more tasks to stuff into my days, in addition to finding time to schedule photo sessions (I did maternity photos with the other boys, I don’t want our new mister to feel slighted), planning Jamie’s birthday party, and preparing for leave at work.  I can’t even justify a baby-item shopping spree; we have almost everything we need.


It would appear that all I have to anticipate has taken on a negative cast in my mind.  While my parents and brother go to Seattle to see Book of Mormom, I’ll be nursing a newborn.  While Tony and the boys go on several treasure hunt hikes, I’ll be up all night nursing a newborn.  While my family and friends go camping, I’ll be a crying mess of surging hormones, up all night nursing a newborn. 


And maybe that’s the big problem here: I’ve been through this all before.  I know how hard it is.  I know how tired I’m going to be and how terrible I’m going to look and feel.  I remember loving my newborn boys, but somehow, I can’t seem to get to the point of anticipating this new little one’s soft hair and skin, scrunched face, and sweet, milky breath yet.  Where did my optimism go? 


Help me, internet.  Help me find a way to anticipate the good things about my new son, instead of focusing on the difficulties that will come no matter what.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I want to be formal, but I’m here to party

You might think that only girl children are slaves to fashion, but you would be wrong.  Nothing is more important to my kids’ day than what they are wearing.


Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  Nothing is more important during the ten minutes of getting dressed time than what my kids are wearing.  And then they promptly forget about it, unless the shirt they are wearing happens to be a new, important gift or something that was previously too large but that I dug out of the too-large bin last night because of a recent growth spurt.


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The same growth spurt caused a massive car seat rearrange and removal of the 5-point harness.


You know, if the correct shirt or shorts or pants or underwear or socks aren’t available, either one of my kids might break down and throw a tantrum for minutes on end.


My boys sometimes change clothes twice, even three times a day.  Like, if it gets sunny and they were wearing pants and want shorts, or I fill up the pool and they put on their swimsuits.  When they get really crazy, they don socks made specifically for soccer to better kick the ball.


Costumes?  We have plenty, but they go on over clothes and are either worn all day long or are rejected within minutes because it’s too hot outside.


Accessories?  Boys have those, too, though they take the form of creature pods, Batman utility belts, and hats, rather than jewelry.


My kids each have a pair of shoes, a pair of sandals, and a pair of boots.


I’m so glad I have boys.  Their lack of sartorial fussiness makes up for the stench and the gun noises.  Almost.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Unexpected Sunshine

The weekend was slated to be rainy, but the newspaper was wrong.  It frequently is, and I blame the fact that they use a weird “forecast your own weather” system.  A few months ago, there was an article in the paper, written by the editor, that stated the forecasting service the newspaper was using had been wildly inaccurate, so they were calling on all Skagit residents to call in to the paper and report their own weather.  I’m honestly surprised that there aren’t more tornado warnings issued in various parts of the county.  I daydream about what sorts of obscure weather I could call in about.


On a sunny day: “Hailstorms on Henson Road.  Softball sized ice balls pummeling cars, coming from a cloud about 6 feet in diameter.”


On a rainy day: “Lightning!  And, oh God!  A wall of water!  A tsunami washing down from the Mount Vernon hill!  We’re all doomed!”


I figure that the people who actually call and report in are at least totally amateur in predicting the weather.


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Not raining!


Instead of huddling indoors while it poured outside, we spent most of our days outside.  Well, the boys and I did.  Tony painted a bathroom.  You know, because I am pregnant and it’s like a RULE that some major renovation project must be done on the house during pregnancy.


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I’m blue, da-boo-di-da-boo-da…


I ate a quarter of a giant watermelon.  Also, two hot fudge sundaes (not in the same day) because my friend Meghan told me that the hot fudge sauce she had at her daughter’s birthday party on Saturday was merely chocolate chips melted with almond milk.  Now, there is homemade fudge sauce in my refrigerator, just waiting for me to heat it up, which can’t be good.      


Leland played in a longtime friend’s band in a bar in Everett on Saturday afternoon, so that’s where I spent an hour or so of my time.  In a bar.  On Saturday afternoon.  Largely pregnant.  I felt incongruous until I noticed that there were at least three other obviously pregnant women there.  Turns out that Saturday-afternoon gigs in dive bars attract the family crowd.


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The band: Edmund Wayne


Jamie and Tony fell asleep in the sun while Charles and the neighbor kids played Pokeman in a pop-tent all afternoon Sunday.  It was pretty cute.


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And Tony’s grandmother, who is almost 90, stopped by for a visit with his Aunt Caroline.  Grandma Edith was in fine form, and because she’s deaf, she wasn’t bothered by the screaming antics of my hyper children (they tend to “show off” for visitors).


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The Cook nose, through the generations


The weekend could not have been better.  I even made a killer Bolognese sauce with plenty of leftovers to freeze.  Let the pre-baby freezer stocking begin!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

You Might Be Pregnant If

You might be pregnant if you can smell your co-worker’s honey-flavored Greek yogurt from across the room and it makes you want to vomit, but you don’t say anything negative to him because this particular co-worker is your brother and making comments about vomit while he’s enjoying his snack is a blatant invitation for him to try to make you vomit every hour for the rest of the day.  (Don’t believe me?  Leland tries to make me watch things like the “Raw Chorizo Challenge” on a weekly basis anyway.)  (Google that at your own risk.)


You might be pregnant if you wonder, every single day, how early is too early to eat lunch?  And if you eat what you brought to work for lunch at 10:30 am, does that justify eating another meal at 2 pm?


You might be pregnant if you constantly misjudge your girth and bump into things and people all day long.


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That’s a lot of belly to navigate.


You might be pregnant if you have at least one remodeling project that you are insisting be done in a given time period but you don’t plan to help at all, other than giving direction, which, as well all know, is the most important part.  For instance, perhaps you have a bathroom remodel project that you wisely and graciously (much to the relief of your darling husband who puts up with your nonsense) scaled down to include merely repainting the walls, new linoleum, and new baseboard.  That’s not hard, right?  Like, he can totally do that in a weekend.  Maybe even a day.


You might be pregnant if, in addition to that one not-so-big remodel project you have planned, something rather disastrous happens in your house, causing you to make plans for a truly enormous remodel project.  Like, for instance, when something happens at a hose bib in the backyard during the week of super sunny, hot weather while you are running the slip-n-slide for an entire afternoon and water backs up into your crawlspace and your laundry room, soaking your basement carpet, so you think, “Hey!  Since we have to get new carpet anyway, why don’t we just redo the walls with new insulation and drywall and definitely new paint, we really need new paint in here, THIS BABY SHOULD NOT HAVE TO COME INTO A HOME WITHOUT NEW PAINT!”  You think about projects like this even though you are 99% sure you would rather not be divorced before the baby comes.  (1% sure that the walls need to be painted regardless.)



It turned out it was a VERY EXPENSIVE slip-n-slide session.


You might be pregnant if the aforementioned disastrous event results in a $1000 plumbing bill, causing you to cry giant alligator tears and scrap plans for a new carpet and new paint and instead settle for a heavy-duty professional carpet cleaning because you want to be able to fund some college savings accounts for your children someday.  PRIORITIES, mama.  This doesn’t mean that you won’t hate that carpet until the day you die or move to a new house, whichever comes first.


You might be pregnant if you are shopping for anything at IKEA and you’re not heading to college or your first apartment in your early 20s.


You might be pregnant if the biggest and best gift anyone could give you this year for Mother’s Day or your birthday is a nap, but you didn’t get one for Mother’s Day and you know you won’t get one for your birthday, and you probably won’t have a chance to have one at any other time on any other day of the week because you are the glue that holds the family together and without you cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping and taking kids places and the dog to the vet and every other goddamn thing that must be done on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, no one would have any clean clothes to wear of food to eat and they would look at you with sad, big eyes and say, “Mommy?  Help me!” just when you are about to drift off into a blissful 45-minute snooze on the couch.  Trust me, it’s not worth the pain of rousting yourself from an aborted nap to even bother trying.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Coordinating Issues

Sitting at my desk, I had a minor panic that I wore two different shoes today.  Since I cannot see my shoes without contorting my legs to the side or sticking them way out in front of me, I feel that the slight panic was justified – I managed to get two children and my foggy-headed self out the door at aaaalmost the regular time this morning, sans assistance from Tony, and frankly, we’re just lucky I wasn’t wearing my house slippers when I got behind the wheel and started shouting at everyone to SIT DOWN AND GET BUCKLED!  (That’s happened before.  The house-slippers-worn-out-of-the-house thing.  They are so unattractive that it wouldn’t matter what I had scheduled at nine am, I would go home and get real shoes, assuming I could see my feet to notice that I wasn’t already wearing real shoes.)


Anyway, my shoes are the appropriate ones, matched to each other and my outfit.  Thank goodness.


I’m phoning it in on clothing, lately.  It’s getting hot out, the effects of which are multiplied by the fact that I normally don’t deal well with hot weather AND I’m pregnant.  Dressing for the heat when one is pregnant and fat isn’t easy (thus the maternity Spanx), and I have no desire to spend loads more money on clothing that will be worn, at most, for the next 11 weeks, but more likely for the next 8.


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Tank top, roll-top jersey-knit skirt… it’s only the jewelry that keep this from being a slobby, Saturday-morning outfit.


To top off my malaise, I have awful allergies right now.  Something’s blooming, and it’s trying to kill me.  It leads to some interesting situations with my children right now, though.  I read Interrupting Chicken and I have to interrupt the story to sneeze every other page, for instance (thank You, God, that I have a strong pelvic floor – it would be beyond cruel to pee my pants every time I sneezed like so many pregnant women do).  And conversations with Jamie take an interesting turn when I can’t think of a response because my brain is so fogged up: “Mommy, why do you pee out of your butt?”  “I don’t pee out of my butt!  I sit down because I don’t have a penis.”  “But, mommy, where is your penis?”  “…I just told you, I don’t have one.”  “But why?”  “Because I’m a girl, and girls have vaginas, not penises.”  “Mo-ooom!  You’re not a GIRL!”  Now try having this conversation when you’re drunk or high, and you’ll know how I felt.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Beat the Heat

I did it.  I bought maternity Spanx.  They’re just as horrible/wonderful as you can imagine.  Sort of like regular Spanx, I guess. 


I only ever wear Spanx for one of two reasons: bad skirt/dress material or chafing.  The bad skirt/dress material is an obvious one, I think.  Some material hangs on every lump or roll, even if you don’t really have lumps or rolls, and shapewear is essential for a smooth silhouette.  Chafing, though.  Phew.  If you have never experienced thigh chafing in hot weather while wearing skirts, then you are so, so very lucky.  I assume this is a problem that is limited to us “larger” women, us pear-shaped ladies with well-fed thighs, but I don’t know.  Maybe those skinny-minis chafe, too.  They can probably control their chafing with BodyGlide, as I often do in the summer months.  However, I’m dealing with a whole new class of chafing now, the pregnancy-thigh chafe, and it means I can’t wear a skirt or dress more than a couple days in a row without rubbing my inner thighs raw. 


At least I assume they’re raw.  They feel raw, but I can’t actually see them.


Donning maternity Spanx is a workout in the third trimester.  I have to bend all the way down and pull those suckers up – with force – and get them situated without pinching, all while not being able to see what I’m doing.  I usually have to lie down for awhile afterward to catch my breath.


(Just so we’re clear, these are not heavy-duty, fat-sucking Spanx.  They’re more like double-control-top pantyhose without the hose Spanx.)


It’s 31 weeks of pregnancy madness over here.  The weather has turned warm, but I can barely get up from the lawn chairs on my own and the kiddie pool is taken over completely by jumping kids, both my own and other neighborhood boys, so I can’t cool my feet without getting the rest of me and whatever book I’m reading drenched.  I spend my time wishing I could take a nap (impossible with work and activities and the weekends full of screaming kids fighting dragons or having Slip-n-Slide contests) and dreaming of ways to use my ice cream maker to relieve the heat (I made lemon frozen yogurt yesterday).  I take the dog for a 1.5-mile walk around the block and I am winded, so I’m forcing myself to do it EVERY DAY in the hopes that I will stay in shape for the next 7-11 weeks.  I’m turning 33 in three weeks and damn, do I feel old.


Maternity Spanx is not something I even thought about when I was pregnant with Charles at age 27.  What a difference a few years makes.

Friday, May 9, 2014


I complain about pregnancy a lot for a couple of reasons: 1) I don’t want to be that mom who says, “Pregnancy is wonderful!  This is the MOST MAGICAL TIME!” when it, in fact, is not.  So much of it sucks hairy balls and we mothers do a disservice to other mothers, especially first-time mothers, when we gloss over the terrible parts.  I am sure there are a few women out there who are never sick, never get heartburn or cankles, never have an achy pelvis, never gain weight in their butts, and never develop jowls, but they are few and far between; 2) I am more comfortable with complaining/joking about the bad stuff than I am raving about the good stuff.

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This is the good stuff.


The truth is, though, that when Jamie was about 18 months old, I started thinking to myself, “I can’t imagine not being pregnant ever again.”  I love the feeling of being kicked from the inside.  Those little jabs and the big rolls and the times the baby has hiccups are a nice reminder that I am growing the next member of our family.  I have a buddy with me, constantly, and I’m loving it.  He dictates what and how much I eat, he has instituted a strict “no alcohol/no sushi/no lunch meat” policy, he keeps me from sleep, and he reminds me multiple times a day that he is coming and is going to change our lives forever.  As much as I hate watching my butt grow, I love watching my belly grow, and because I have been through this before, I know that my belly is still in the small and cute stage – pretty soon, my belly will be too big for even size L maternity shirts.  I love the sense of anticipation – choosing a name, wondering how our new little guy will look, stocking up on baby essentials and getting baby gifts.  Those parts are truly wonderful.

And then!  Then!  We get to have a baby.  A baby who will cry, and keep me up all night, and cause me grief and worry about every little thing, from eating to pooping to holding his head up to countless questions of “is this normal?” for years and years and years.  And it is so amazing and worth every second of misery from pregnancy and beyond.


At least I’m pretty sure that’s what my parents would say about me.


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It was especially worth it for my parents because now they get these two goobers as grandsons.  Grandsons who WORSHIP their grandparents.


My boys don’t know what Mother’s Day means, and they might not understand until they have kids of their own, but I know.  And I celebrate my little wonders, my treasures, my tornados of love.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  (Especially my mom, whom I love so much it hurts sometimes, and who, I know, sacrificed so much for me.  Thanks, mom.)


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I said “goodbye” to the days of steady, in-focus photos long ago.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Morning Surprises

The boys got two big surprises this morning: a new box house from Uncle Leland and a trip to IHOP before preschool with mom and dad.


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Box houses are a big thing for us – Leland gave Charles and Jamie the box from his new recliner at Christmas and it lingered until March, long after its useful life.  By the end, it was a broken shell of a box, really.  The boys love to make up their own games and scenarios in the box house, and this new one will undoubtedly keep them entertained for minutes, even tens of minutes, on end.  If that doesn’t sound like a long time to you, then you must not have children.  Why, in a half hour, I can get so much done around the house and even have time left over to use the bathroom all alone!  Or drink an uninterrupted cup of tea!  How luxurious!


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I highly recommend finding a box house for your littles.


I’ve mentioned before that we don’t eat out often; my children are adorable monsters who don’t understand things like “volume control” and “respect for other diners” and “the restaurant is not a jungle gym.”  Breakfast might just be the perfect meal to teach them some manners, even if it takes years for the lessons to sink in.  There were very few other parties at IHOP at 7 am, and one of those was a group of teenagers celebrating a birthday.  The birthday boy was wearing a gold lame suit and a dinosaur hat.  Somehow, I don’t think anyone minded Jamie singing about bacon from our booth in the corner.


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A trip out for breakfast is not something we do often.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time we went out for breakfast, just us.  It was wonderful, and something we plan on doing again.  Once a quarter?  Twice a year?  How long will it take to try every breakfast restaurant in town?  Because I LOVE BREAKFAST and, apparently, so do my children.


If only I had room in my squished stomach for more pancakes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


You might think you can have it all, and do it all, and be all things, but you can’t.  I know.  I’ve tried.


We all try, and we think we want what we see everywhere: beautifully-crafted meals that look as good as they taste; kids whose clothing is not only clean, but also color-coordinated and not pajamas that they insist on wearing to school; a dog who is photogenic and sweet, not a menace to the neighborhood who leaves giant piles of dog crap on the lawn, and whose descent into old age is not met with cancer and irritability but rather with grace and a gentle “slowing down”; perfectly toned bodies wearing impeccable outfits; quality time spent with your children every day without yelling… the list goes on.


The REAL difficult part of parenting is not the children.  I love them.  They love me.  Even when they’re exasperating, they don’t make me want to throw in the towel.  Hell, I’m having another one, I must enjoy some of it!  In fact, I enjoy lots of aspects of parenting.  I enjoy my children, even if I’m just listening to them build a fort in their room while I’m downstairs washing the dishes.


No, the difficult part of parenting is the fact that even though we are sometimes told that it’s okay to sacrifice, we are bombarded with images and rhetoric that indicate that it is clearly not okay to sacrifice anything.  We feel like we are being judged (and we probably are!) by the world at large because of the choices we have to make just to keep going.  And until yesterday, I didn’t realize that this rhetoric applies to fathers as much as mothers.


Tony and I had an interesting discussion last night that was, admittedly, more interesting in my head than in real life because we agreed with each other and because we kept stopping our conversation to insist to Jamie that if he wanted to go outside, he needed to wear shoes.


I know.  We are the worst.


Anyhow, Tony forwarded me an article about partner-track CPAs in their 30s not really being able to follow the established partner track and live the lives the want.  That is to say, to become partners in CPA firms, they should sacrifice home life to develop business, which is not something many men of today are all that willing to do.  To their credit, most of the 30-something men I know who have families want to be a part of that family, not routinely spend 60 hours a week at the office plus networking events plus poker nights plus the Rotary Club plus plus plus.  My point was this: would it do any real good if Tony were to spend all that extra time at the office and in after-work networking events/activities?  Because if he really wants to be home with his family, where do we think every other 30-something male professional with a family wants to be?  And aren’t those the business prospects that need to be developed?  So how does one find those men who work hard for 40-50 hours a week and then spend the rest of their time with their families?  Because he does want to get ahead at work, like most of us do.  And he does want to be a part of this family in a real way.


It’s another example of the difference between expectations and what we are actually willing to sacrifice.  I am not willing to sacrifice spending time with my family in order to routinely whip up organic, non-GMO, gourmet meals from scratch.  Instead, we eat packaged meals from the freezer section at Costco, I use canned chicken broth, and my children eat old-fashioned sliced bread, full of gluten.  We even put sugar-filled jam on that bread.  I am not willing to go crazy on birthday party decorations, working my fingers to the bone three weeks in advance of the party making a hundred origami monster trucks and themed cupcakes for a Pinterest-worthy event.  We will have cake made with real butter and real chocolate and it will be delicious and the kids will not care one bit about what it looks like.


Tony, on the other hand, faces a more difficult set of decisions.  He’ll have to sacrifice some family time over the coming years in order to advance his career.  Who knows?  As my business grows, maybe I will, too.  There are only so many hours in a day, and there are lots of important demands on our time.  But the rhetoric, even the well-meaning photos of sunsets with smarmy quotes entreating us to cherish every moment and ignore other demands, needs to be ignored.  Full stop.  We cannot do everything, we cannot be everything.  I love my children and they know it.  Tony loves our children, and they know it.  Beyond that, isn’t it a form of love to show them that sacrifices must be made?  Can’t it be love to show our kids that hard work is it’s own reward?  What about those of us who want to work hard and build careers?  Aren’t we good parents, too?


The answer, of course, is yes.  We are good parents.  Time spent with children is not the only factor in consideration.  Nor is cleanliness of house and children, quality of food, or magazine-spread worthiness of parties.  We must also be a good example of reaching for our own dreams, working hard, and sacrificing family time when the need arises.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Updates - Updated

I’m on hold with the IRS right now… this must be what Tony’s job is like a good chunk of the time – goofing around on the internet while listening to terrible hold music.  Actually, I’m certain that Tony doesn’t goof around on the internet while he’s on hold; he does other work, because he’s efficient.

It’s Monday, friends, and well, I know you know how I feel.  The whole week is rolling out in front of us, taunting us with how much we need to get done, barely an end in sight.  It could be worse.  I could be on hold with Vonage or some other service provider whose customer-service representatives read from a prescribed script and cannot actually help you.  Then again, maybe that’s how it goes at the IRS phone bank, too.  In the interest of being able to abandon my train of thought at a second’s notice here, I’ll go all listical and give you some random updates about liiiiiiife:

Buster had surgery last week, and is recovering nicely.  In fact, he doesn’t seem to be bothered at all, even though he had a sizeable tumor and some muscle removed from his butt.  The vet called the tumor a “poorly differentiated sarcoma,” which is another way of saying “cancer.”  But not a type of cancer that metastasizes, thank God, so we just have to watch for re-growth in the coming years.  He has a pretty nasty scar and he’s half shaved, which makes me think of a baboon every time I look at him.  Ha.  Baboon Butt.

I have heartburn.  All the time.  Water gives me heartburn.  My 30th week of pregnancy has signaled the onset of that and other unfortunate symptoms, like swelling hands and feet and growing out of all my clothes (again).  The only comfortable position for me to sleep in is semi-reclined on the couch.  I am tired, and my muscles are constantly fatigued, regardless of my level of activity in any given day.  And you know what food sounds good to me?  NONE.  None food.  Which is not to say that I don’t eat, of course.  Sigh… ten weeks to go.

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We went to the beach this past weekend and got rained out of almost all our activities.  The boys took a trip to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and Dead Man’s Cove while I napped on Friday, and Saturday we did our best to entertain the kids indoors while it poured buckets outside (after the cancellation of the day’s activities).  It must have worked, because Jamie fell asleep in Tony’s arms on Saturday evening, about 15 minutes before dinner:

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Of course, even though we woke him for dinner, he and Charles refused to sleep before 9 pm.  They got to have a fire engine ride on Sunday morning and we watched the big parade before heading home. 

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Foot-long, hand-dipped corn dogs, fresh maple bars from the best bakery, and candy thrown from parade vehicles: win.

We’re making one more road trip before this baby comes and after that, I am DONE travelling.  I love seeing family and friends, I love visiting different places, but being old and worn out and pregnant really makes these trips tough.  Not that they’re un-fun, just tough.  The mounds of laundry after a trip is over aren’t all that exciting, either.

Hey!  What do you know?  I was on hold for 15 minutes but then a five-minute conversation with an IRS representative who sounded like she knew what was going on totally solved our issue.  I’ll take it.

Update on Buster, 8:30 PM: He's in pain now.  I guess the meds finally wore off.  Poor Bear.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pack It In

We’re havin’ a heat wave…


Yesterday, the temperature reached 75 degrees, today it will be somewhere in the eighties.  It’s far too hot for me.  I am wearing dresses to keep cool, but my thighs rub and chafe.  I have some maternity shorts, but, well, I prefer how I look in skirts.  Considering that it’s supposed to get back to normal early-May weather (fifties and rainy) by this weekend, I think I’ll hold off on the shorts until I’m desperate for a change of pace in June and July (or my thighs are rubbed so raw that I have no choice).


As a family, we don’t have much leisure time during the week.  I work while the boys are at preschool, we come home mid-afternoon and usually have a few minutes to change and maybe do some dinner prep before we go to soccer or Baby Boot Camp or meet up with friends for a playdate at the park.  Jamie’s soccer has finished and Charles’s is finished in another week.  After that, I refuse to add another activity until the fall.  We’re just going to enjoy lazy afternoons in the backyard.  With the sprinkler.  And the tent.  And the kiddie pool.  And the Slip ‘n’ Slide.  And popsicles.  And books and books and books and eventually, a baby.  And then margaritas (for me).


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Until then, we’re packing in the fun in the hour between work/school and Boot Camp/soccer.  It’s not enough, but it will do for now.


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The boys keep asking me to join them in the pool, but I’m afraid I’d displace all the water!


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Jump contest


The only problem with this whole outdoor scene is that our lawn chairs are so low that I will soon need help to get out of them.  As it is, I get out with great difficulty.


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Whoa, belly!