Sunday, February 26, 2012

#febphotoaday, part 1

Lots of people on Twitter have been doing this photo a day thing. I think it's supposed to be an instagram challenge, but I don't have instagram. I've been taking photos with my regular old phone camera and, just for fun, made them into instagram-y squares in Picasa. You're supposed to tweet the pictures (hence the hashtag in the post title), but I haven't yet. Also, I've been cheating even more, because if I don't have my phone handy I grab the fancy camera. Oops.

I missed a few days, but here are the ones I've got for the beginning of the month.

Day 1 - your view today
This is the view out my cubicle window. I'm lucky to have a window and not be trapped deep in cubicle land all day, but the window isn't sealed very well and its like sitting in a refrigerator. People put on their coats to come visit our cube. (Oh yeah, I said "our" because we share cubes. Don't you want to come work at my office?)(It's really not that bad.)

Day 2 - Words
E-book checked out from the library on my iPad.

Day 3 - Hands
My sister-in-law gave Paul a drum set for Christmas. (Luckily, he's not coordinated enough to drive us crazy yet.)

Day 5 - 10am
Working in the infant room at the church nursery.

Day 6 - Dinner
Lemon basil pasta (trying to use all the yummy lemons Elizabeth sent from California!)

Day 9 - Front door
This is the inside of my front door, because I was too lazy to go outside and take a picture. (Also, I missed days 7 & 8)

Day 10 - Self-portrait
Taken in the lactation room, naturally.

Day 12 - inside your closet
I used to arrange by color, but am trying something different (see quick take 1 here).

Day 13 - Blue

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Eight months

Meg wanted to watch home videos on my iPad this morning and now I’m all sad. The eight months since Paul was born have flown by and I feel like toddler Meg disappeared right before my eyes. In the video of bringing Paul home, she was almost 25 months. She looks so little! I barely even remember that Meg. I have no idea how she turned into almost-3 Meg without me noticing.

Paul has changed a lot, too, but that’s to be expected. He’s barely a baby anymore, though. He’ll be a toddler any day now. He’s a master crawler. If you turn your back for a couple seconds, all you’ll see when you turn back is his little diapered bottom disappearing around the corner (on his way to get into something he shouldn’t, obviously). He pulls himself up and cruises around the furniture. He can hold onto the coffee table with one hand and bend down to pick something up from the floor with the other. Earlier Meg was in our rocking recliner and he was standing in front of it holding on. Meg leaned back a little, pulling the edge of the chair just out of his reach, and he stood there, strong and not at all wobbly, for the second it took the edge to come back into his reach.

How did we go from this:

June 2011 (sorry for the poor quality - this is a screenshot of an iPhone video)
 To this?

February 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How I started

Laura wrote today about how she started reading blogs and then blogging herself and I thought I’d do the same.

When I was on maternity leave with Meg, I started to get rather bored spending hours upon hours breastfeeding. I watched a ton of TV (this was when I discovered House!) and read at least 1 book, often 2, a day. When you spend most of your waking hours on the couch with a little baby and that baby is generous enough to give you EXTRA waking hours by refusing to let you sleep, you need a lot of passive entertainment. I started poking around and discovered the (recently defunct) Parenting Post. I liked some of the writers and not so much others. I think there were only 4 at the time and my favorite was Maggie. I read all her Parenting Post stuff, then started reading her archives. When I finished them I was SO sad.

I think I read Lizzie next. Then Arwen. And Maureen (including the Grad Lab stuff!). And Emily. I remember one day I sat at work trying my best not to bawl my eyes out at work while reading about Lucy’s birth (which had happened a couple years earlier).

In early 2010 Maggie and friends started planning The Blathering - Chicago. I’d been reading blogs for 6 months and really wanted to go meet all these people. I emailed Maggie to ask if a non-blogger could go and she said Of Course! Then I decided what the heck, I’ll just TRY this blogging thing anyway. No pressure. I started blogging in February 2010* and kept it a secret for the first two months. Then I started leaving comments linking to it and in May (June?) signed up for The Blathering. I read the entire archives of every attendee (this is when there were only 20 or so) and got to know several of them through comments and emails. I signed up to stay in the official Blathering Condo. It was wonderful. I couldn’t believe I was hanging out with these people who had huge blogs. Me with my little 9-month-old blog I’m certain no one but Blathering attendees had ever seen. I was incredible how nice everyone was and how fun it was to hang out with strangers.

For the longest time, I refused to add blogs to my reader until I’d read their entire archives. I didn’t stop doing that until last summer when it became clear that, second maternity leave nonwithstanding, I wasn’t going to make it through all the blogs of Blathering 2011 attendees by October. I did read a lot of them – even some of the big ones, like Temerity Jane (which took a couple months!). Reading archives is still one of my favorite things. I have to say, though, the thought of someone reading MY archives makes me want to cringe!

Who was the first blogger you read? How did you find them?

*I just now realized I totally missed my two-year blogging anniversary. Ha!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Existential thoughts on the commute home

I’m commuting to a client an hour away this week. Last night, as I was driving home in the dark, with sideways rain and wind so strong I had to focus on keeping the car on the road, I wondered what the point of it all was. I was on my way to pick up the kids at my mom’s. She would have already fed them dinner. Ten hour workdays, plus lunch, plus an hour drive each way means I left before they woke up and put them straight to bed once we got home. It’s only for a week (usually my commute is 20 minutes) and my “week” is only 4 days. So I’m not complaining. I’m not even particularly bothered by it – it’ll be over soon. I was just wondering what the point was. I cram my “almost full time” workweek into 3 ½ days every week. Even without an hour commute, I only see my kids for an hour and a half, maybe two on those days. Am I making the right decision here? Should I work 4 shorter days? Five? Not work at all?

The radio started playing “I’m in a hurry” by Alabama. It was rather ironic – “I’m in a hurry to get things done. Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why.”

The words aren’t the point, though. (I’m not THAT lame.) I was in a time management training last summer – the day Paul was born, actually – and the instructor referenced the song. Probably something about how if you manage your time wisely, you won’t have to rush. After class let out someone wondered aloud who sang that song. I said I was pretty sure it was Alabama, but someone else was convinced it was Lonestar. I sat in the car last night trying to remember which coworker that was.

Then it came to me. The dead one.

I mentioned this on Twitter when it happened, but never wrote about it here. Last month, one of my coworkers didn’t show up for work. The office called his emergency contact, who went to check on him and found him already gone. A blood clot formed in his lungs, then traveled to his heart. They think he probably coughed, which shook the clot loose, then collapsed.

You might think this leads to some epiphany where I decide to quit my job and live on nothing but love. That’s not what I was thinking, though. I guess I just decided at least I DO get to spend time with my family, however short, every day. I might not always be doing what I want to do, but at least I’m here, right? I was on my way to see my babies. I get to spend 3 ½ days with them every week. I think that’s pretty lucky.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Small talk and unintentional hurt

I was in a discussion yesterday where I caught myself just before saying “that phrase can be hurtful, so people shouldn’t ever say it.” I don’t believe that. It’s not practical, or even possible, because EVERY phrase can be hurtful. I’ve seen posts asking what questions people wished others would never ask and the comments list pretty much every question you could possibly think of. So how do we decide what’s OK to say?

Take, for example, “how many children do you have?” If someone has lost a child, the question can be painful. Do you answer with the number of living children you have? What if you want to include the child(ren) no longer with you, but really don’t want to talk about what happened? What if you’ve experienced pregnancy loss – do you include unborn children in the count?

For argument’s sake, let’s assume the majority of people are not bothered by being asked how many children they have (even if it’s hard to answer). Does that make it OK to ask? What about the fact some people are VERY bothered by it? Should we avoid the question out of respect for them? Or should those people just be told others aren’t TRYING to bring up sad things, so they should accept there’s no intentional hurt?

Another seemingly-innocuous question is “how was your holiday?” Plenty of people have a contentious relationship with their family or miss a loved one more intensely on special days, leading to a rough holiday. So should you not ask? Probably. What SHOULD you say? Can you comment on the weather or is that considered annoying?

And, OK, I’ll go there. What about “Cherish every moment,” which is what we were discussing yesterday? (See this lovely post by Diane and try to ignore my crabby comments.) As Swistle so perfectly put it (in the comments), what they actually mean is “OH, your babies’ sweet faces make me miss my own grown-up babies!” Or “Oh, I wish I could have bottled some of that time, so I could enjoy it in small doses now!”

The person they’re talking to, on the other hand, often hears it as either “I don’t find my life particularly cherishable, so there must be something wrong with it (or me)” or “I am TRYING and TRYING to cherish every moment, because I KNOW these days will be gone way too soon, but it not possible to cherish every moment and you acting like it is isn’t helping matters.” (This is how I feel.)

So is it the responsibility of the people who say these things to realize they’re, at best, not expressing what they really mean or being unintentionally hurtful and choose to say something else (or stay quiet)? Or is it the responsibility of the receivers of such questions or advice to give them a pass?

I’ve always fallen on the side that feels since it’s impossible to take every possible reaction into account, you should give people the benefit of the doubt and cut them a break when they say something unintentionally hurtful. There’s no point getting upset every time someone says something clueless, but means well. However. I think people take it too far. “But I didn’t mean anything by it!” is not a free pass to not think about what you’re saying, even if it seems innoculous. Especially if you say it frequently.

So, I’m genuinely curious. Do you have go-to small talk phrases or questions? What do you do when someone unintentionally hits a sore spot of yours? Does it happen often?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fun times

So. PJs@TJs. It was a very low-key, hanging-out, no-stress weekend. (I think that needs another hypen.) I’ve been trying to think about what to write, because basically we just TALKED and other than recounting entire conversations there isn’t much to say.

I had a hell of a time getting there. I’m not sure if I’ll EVER fly out of Des Moines again. It’s nice to be 20 minutes from the airport, but it’s a small enough airport that if your flight gets cancelled you’re screwed. Like, really screwed. My 6:30 am Friday flight got cancelled and my options were to not go until Saturday (which made no sense, as my return flight was first thing Sunday morning) or rent a car and drive to the Kansas City airport. So I got to add an unexpected $175 one-way rental car and a three-hour drive to my trip! I feel like I got taken.

I finally managed to get there, where the hotel promptly gave me an uncleaned room. Trash all over, uncleaned bed. I may or may not have cried at that point. (The desk clerk was properly horrified and had a new room key ready for me by the time I got back to the lobby.) Everything got better after that, though. I got over to TJs just as everyone was leaving, but I hung out with Kelly (TJ), Diane, and Noemi for a while.

The PJ party Saturday night was great. Kelly put a bed in her living room and we all piled on it and the couches and talked all night. Phil was an amazingly good sport. He came back from three weeks away Friday night and spent the weekend with 18 strangers in his house. He signed me onto the base not long after getting back even though he’d never met me. Saturday night he went to get us 9 pizzas, then stood in the living room holding them while people snapped pictures until we allowed him to put them down.

I roomed with the lovely Laura, who is awesome. I’m bummed we didn’t get to hang out more. I looked forward to meeting her so much, then felt like we didn’t get to see each other a lot. That’s pretty much how I felt about everybody, though. I wanted MORE TIME. Kelly’s already considering doing it next year, but I don’t think that’s soon enough. Whose up for hosting next MONTH?

A bed! In the living room! (Also Erin and Lorelai, Linnea, and Kammah)

I found a picture of me! (Courtesy of Laura) (also pictured: Lara)

Evidence of Phil posing with pizza (picture also stolen shamelessly from Laura's recap. Thanks!)
I also spent a large portion of the weekend pumping.
This guy was SUPER HAPPY when mommy came back.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

Valentine's Day was a big success in our house. We normally don't do much (just a fancy dinner at home), but this year we did exchange small presents. We celebrated on Monday. I took the day off to recover from PJs@TJs (and go to the dentist, which turned into quite the saga). Around noon, these arrived (they haven't bloomed yet).
We exchanged presents after dinner. Unbeknownst to eachother, we both handmade gifts. As I said, we don't do much - I thought flowers and chocolate would be it. It was, but there was a twist! This was my chocolate:
While I was at PJs@TJs, they were at home handmaking truffles for me!

For Thomas, I made an "I love you from here to" wordle of all the places we've been together, like Superfantastic Lori did for her boyfriend for Christmas. I had it printed high-quality at Kinkos and bought a frame at Target.
We gave Meg a tiara from the dollar bin and she was THRILLED. She called herself Princess Meg (uh-oh). You can tell we're into everything princess right now.
She had her party at daycare today and it was quite the sugarfest. Each kid (two-year-old!) had FOUR cupcakes, two cookies, and a Capri Sun. She ate two of her cupcakes, some frosting off another, one and a half cookies, and half the juice. As you can imagine, she was a little...hyper.
She wasn't too excited when we addressed Valentines to her classmates last night. She liked her Dora cards so much she wanted to keep them all. We told her if she gave her friends cards, they'd give her cards, but that didn't convince her. She figured it was doubtful the other kids would have cards as cool as hers, so she might as well stick with what she had. One of her friends ended up giving out Teddy Grahams (her favorite), though, so she determined it was worth it. I think she really enjoyed Valentine's Day, which was fun.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Holy you-know-what, this is actually happening

I get on a plane at 6:30 am tomorrow (Friday). Almost three days away from my babies! I'm not sure I can do it. Especially since I have to spend that time with my frenemy, the breast pump. I'm sure the 18 ladies I'll be hanging out with will make up for it, though.

So what am I forgetting to pack?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day Plans

I believe I mentioned that last year I was surprised when Meg came home from daycare on February 15th with a bag full of Valentines. We didn’t send any, in part because she wasn’t at daycare on Valentine’s Day and also because she was 20 months old. Oh, and we’d also come back from our cruise two days before. We essentially skipped Valentine’s Day as a family, figuring a 7-day Caribbean vacation took care of special days for at least the month of February. I felt a little bad about the fact everyone else had Valentines to give out and she didn’t, but, you know, 7-day Caribbean vacation.

This year, I’m determined to do everything right. I don’t want to be the mom who drops the ball two years in a row. She only goes to daycare on Tuesdays, so I told myself approximately a hundred times to remember to get a class list today so we could put names on Valentines. I did so and even remembered to ask for the name of the teacher who isn’t there when I drop Meg off. The Dora Valentines should come this week. I bought little boxes of stickers to go with them. I signed up to bring juice to the Valentine’s Day party. I’M ON THIS.

Julie mentioned something about a Valentines box on Twitter and I hadn’t thought of that. There wasn’t anything up at daycare about bringing boxes. Last year, Meg’s Valentines came home in a plastic grocery sack. But what if that’s because she was the only one without a box? So I decided we’re making one. I have the perfect size shoebox, construction paper, and stickers. We’ll put “Meg’s Valentines” on it and send the ones she’s giving out in the box, so if they are not supposed to have one we can say it was just her Valentine-delivering vessel.

I’m considering what to do for a special breakfast and/or dinner. There is no way I’m getting up at 5 to make heart-shaped pancakes. She only wants cereal for breakfast, anyway. Maybe we’ll just do heart-shaped pizzas for dinner? I’m also considering a small scavenger hunt or maybe a new book.

What am I forgetting? I’ve never been into small holidays. Thomas and I rarely even go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. But this year I’m on a roll, so I’ve decided I want to WIN at Valentine’s Day. It’ll cushion the blow when we do exactly nothing for…whatever holiday is next.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baby book - Paul, 7 months

For the last week or so, Paul has started saying "m" sounds. At first it was a little garbled, but for the last couple days he's been saying "mama" very clearly. When he wants someone to pick him up, he crawls up to them saying "mama mama" (always in two syllable sets, even!) Mama is quite pleased.

We pureed pears last night and he is a huge fan. I gave him a few slices of pear and he thought that was about the best thing ever - they were pretty mushy pears, so he could even bite off pieces. He was kind of ticked at us for pureeing them instead of leaving them in strips.

Tonight he pulled himself to standing for the first time. At bedtime. In his crib. Time to lower the mattress! Also tonight, we bought him new carseats, as he weighed 20 pounds 10 ounces when I took him to the doctor last Wednesday and the weight limit on our infant carseat is 22 pounds. Meg was in the infant seat until she was finally 20 pounds at 14 months old.

Eating the aforementioned pureed pears
We only have one non-gender neutral piece of baby gear: the high chair. Right about the time Meg needed one, this was on a great sale so I figured why can't I have one girly thing? I've looked for covers, but Graco will only sell identical replacements (you have to have a model and lot number so they can send the exact one you originally purchased). There are tons on Etsy, but I'm not really into paying $40 for a new cover when I could buy a space saver for not much more. I figure it doesn't hurt him anyway, right? What am I going to blackmail him with, if not pictures of him in a pink flowery seat?