Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lessons from Summer

School starts tomorrow. I am so ready. It’s been a great summer, but it’s time. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved all the extra time I’ve had with my kids this year. Going part time is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Even though I gave up my vacation days and my paychecks are less, the fun I’ve had with my kids is worth so much more. I have a few regrets. I wish we would have made more trips to the park, the zoo and the pool. I wish we would have read more books, gone for more bike rides and spent more evenings around the fire pit. Those are things I will put at the top of our “to do” list for next summer. For now, my attention is focused on this list…the top eleven things I learned this summer (eleven because I couldn't narrow it down to a nice round number like ten..David Letterman would not hire me!):

1. Swimmer’s ear hurts. At least that’s what I got out of the five hours of screaming.

2. Lexi , Jake and Tess make a delicious no bake cookie. And they can do this basically unsupervised. Honest. I don’t even have to be in the room, and the cookies still turn out pretty tasty.

3. There will always be piles of laundry, whether I work 20 hours a week or 40. Trying to get ahead of it is pointless. So is stressing out about it.

4. A clean house is awesome, but paying a ten year old to clean it is the very best way to get that house cleaned. She’s happy, because she has cash. I’m happy because the house no longer looks like a tornado hit.

5. Auntie Mary rules. End of story. She has saved my life too many times to list (or even to count) this summer. And when said ten year old isn’t around to clean the house, Auntie Mary is.

6. Naps rule almost as much as Auntie Mary. There’s nothing better than snuggling in with Lizzy, a sippy cup of chocolate milk, and a Little People dvd, then falling asleep for an hour or more.

7. Potty training is such a challenge, but so worth it when it’s done. I haven’t changed a diaper in months.

8. Sending the kids to the farm makes everyone happy. Grandma and Grandpa are happy because they have grandchildren to spoil, and mom and dad are happy for the break.

9. Cousins are great. Lexi and Jake were both lucky enough to spend time with their favorite cousins this summer. Lexi spent a few days in Mott with Brooke, then a few days in Minnesota with Chrissy (where she “shot the minnow”…ask her about it sometime. Totally disgusting.) Jake went to Crookston for a week to visit Tomas. At age 34 I am just now getting to know my cousins (thanks to Facebook!) so I am happy my kids already have close friendships with their cousins.

10. Not much beats a campfire in the backyard…smores, carmels, grilled cheese…and good company, whether it’s the neighbors, friends, relatives or just the five of us. Some of our best memories from this summer are those made around our fire pit.

11. Havng four kids is, I haven't had baby number four yet, but Tess practically lived at our house this summer and it was wonderful. She's a great kid, and I'm so glad she and Lexi are friends (Jake and Lizzy too...they all play so nicely together!). I got a glimpse into my future, and next summer is going to be even better!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Date to Remember

My husband took me on a date this weekend. It was Saturday night, the kids were at Grandma's and we had a gift card to the East 40. I should have known it would not go well, considering we've had the gift card for nearly three years, and the couple that gave it to us is now divorced. But, never one to turn down a free meal, I agreed.

Before we went to the restaurant, Brad had a couple of things he wanted to return to Sears. It's not very often we get to the north side of town, so it only made sense. We left Sears about fifteen minutes before it closed for the day. That's when the problems began. The van wouldn't start. I joked with Brad that it wasn't a funny joke, and that's the "oldest trick in the book" that guys play on a date. But it was real. The van was dead. I was so glad Brad was with me, and the children were not. Something tells me Jake wouldn't have been too helpful in this situation.

Turns out it was the battery, which was good luck actually, since we were at Sears. We raced back into the store, rushing to get a battery and tools before they closed. I paid for the battery while Brad looked for the tools he'd need. The battery was $116, the tools $46. He bought a socket set and some screwdrivers...just like the dozens of socket sets and screwdrivers he has at home, on the other side of town.

We returned to the parking lot with our purchases and I thought we were in business. I was wrong. Turns out two of the sockets were metric, and the $35 socket set was not metric. So, I started going through my cell phone, searching for someone to come rescue us. Finally, I got a hold of Jamie and Kai, and while we waited for Kai to bring another socket set, wrench, and pliers I went back into the mall to get one more supply. The battery was so corroded, Brad needed a coke to clean it up (which sparks a new topic.... the many uses of Coca-Cola). Of course, all I had was a five dollar bill and 95-cents in change, not what the pop machine wanted. So, I ended up buying a small coke at the movie theater for $3.70!

$165.70 later, we left the Sears parking lot and finally headed to the East 40. The steaks were ok, the company was great, and the story behind our "date" is one I'll never forget.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

25 Great Things About Being Pregnant

There comes a point in every pregnancy where I just get sick of being pregnant. I'm there. Which means, it's going to be a very long 12 weeks until baby comes. I'm tired of being fat, of people staring at my belly, of people wanting to talk only about baby stuff (really... because there's nothing else going on in my life?!?!), and of people asking how I'm feeling, or telling me I look pregnant. It's so easy to get annoyed by those things, but I try to remember this won't last forever. But there are those days that I just get wrapped up in self-pity. Today started out to be one of those days. But then I got an email that reminded me just how lucky I am to be pregnant. of course, if I wrote the list, it would be a bit different. Maybe I will write my own list someday. Not today though. For now, here's the list that finally brought a smile to my face today:

25 Great Things About Being Pregnant
By Heather Moors Johnson

By now you've probably had it with always being tired and carrying around extra weight. But why not consider all the reasons to celebrate these nine months? In case you're too grumpy to think of any, here's a list.

1. You're guaranteed to stop traffic whenever you cross the street.

2. People look at your stomach and can't help smiling, as if the mere thought of your being pregnant has actually made their day a little bit brighter.

3. You can eat a whole pint of chocolate-chunk ice cream and not feel guilty. Every night.

4. You can -- no, you must! --take naps. Lots of them.

5. Getting to name another human being.

6. Watching your husband turn into a father when he kisses your belly good night, reads to the baby in utero, or stays up until 3:00 a.m. putting the crib together -- just in case the baby decides to come eight weeks early.

7. Sex: For once in your life, you're neither worried about getting pregnant nor trying to get pregnant. You can have sex just for the pure fun of it.

8. Buying a bathing suit. It's not about hiding your flaws; it's about flaunting your belly.

9. Those wild, intense, amazing pregnancy dreams in which every remote person from your past makes some sort of appearance. None of these dreams can even begin to be analyzed or understood.

10. The amazing anticipation. It's like all your previous birthdays and holidays rolled into one.

11. Imagining the possibilities.

12. More personal space! And you have no qualms about claiming it.

13. You eat healthier, drink more water, and carefully read ingredient labels. Suddenly, it matters more to you what you put in your body.

14. In the middle of a boring meeting at work or a meaningless argument, you feel your baby squirming inside you and the sensation takes you away. It's your own secret communication.

15. Getting to hear the swish swish swish of your baby's heartbeat on the Doppler.

16. Playing "Guess the part sticking out," usually at bedtime, when your baby starts moving furniture around or whatever it is he does in there.

17. The extra attention you get from everyone -- your husband gives you more foot rubs, and your friends call to check in more often. Neighbors offer to help; coworkers volunteer to get lunch for you; little presents (a bottle of water, an afternoon snack) mysteriously show up on your desk.

18. The pregnancy beauty package: thick, silky hair; long, strong nails; beautiful skin; big boobs.

19. Getting to skip to the front of the line in public rest rooms.

20. Shopping for a person you haven't met yet: tiny clothes, all-new furniture, and adorable room decorations.

21. Dreaming about the first time someone calls you "Mommy" and the first time you hear someone call your husband "Daddy."

22. Baby showers! They remind you how special your friends and family think you are.

23. A continuous sense of accomplishment. You can answer "What did you do today?" with cool things like "I made ears" or simply "I'm making a person. What did you do?"

24. Spending immeasurable amounts of time trying to remember all those nursery rhymes, children's songs, and lullabies.

25. Knowing that all the bad stuff -- the heartburn, swollen ankles, backaches, and the rest -- doesn't last forever. And that in the end, it's all worth it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Star Gazing

I'm a little tired today, but it's a good tired. I'm tired because I sacrificed a couple of hours of sleep last night to stare at the sky with my son. Last night was the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower. Jake had heard all about the meteor shower, and had visions of hundreds of shooting stars falling through the sky. Someone told him the best time to see the meteors was between midnight and 1:00 a.m. So, when everyone went to bed, Jake stayed up...promising to wake Brad and I up at midnight to see the show. I wasn't sure he would stay awake, so I stayed awake too. We went outside at midnight, and I saw one shooting star right away. Jake was bummed that he didn't see any, so he went inside and woke up Brad. He joined us on the deck, but even with an extra set of eyes, Jake didn't see anything. He went to the front yard, laid on the driveway, didn't see anything, shot a couple of baskets...then returned to the backyard. He and Brad stayed up awhile longer, long enough for Jake to see two shooting stars. They were the first ones he'd ever seen. Unfortunately, he was too excited to make a wish, so his wishes will have to wait.

What doesn't have to wait, are the moments like those. Yes, we were all a little tired today. Yes, we were a little disappointed that we didn't see more meteors. And yes, our necks were a little stiff from looking up at the sky for so long. But it was all worth it. Seeing Jake's excitement and curiousity made all that worth it. So, while there won't be a meteor shower every night, there will be more nights of spending quality time with my son...which means, the wish I made on that shooting star will come true.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Enjoying My Kids....One at a Time

In the past two days I've had a chance to spend a little one on one time with each of my girls. Last night, Lizzy and I went to "Elmo's Green Thumb" at the Bismarck Civic Center. I scored free tickets after agreeing to welcome the crowd. I was hoping Lizzy would stay in her seat with our friends, but no such luck..she was attached to my leg. Just before it was time to go up on stage, she decided she was going to go sit down. At that point, it was too late...she would never make it in time, and probably wouldn't even be able to find our seats. So she walked on stage with me and held my hand while I welcomed the rest of the Elmo fans to the show. I didn't realize how scary it must have been for her, until my friend Jamie emailed me this picture.
Please ignore how fat and pregnant I look...and check out Lizzy's face instead! Her expression is one of pure fear! I suppose it was a little overwhelming...being on stage, with the spotlight on us, and all those faces looking at her. Maybe she was just wondering where Elmo and Abby Cadabby were. At any rate, once we got the welcoming done, we found our seats and enjoyed the show. It was a great show, well worth the $2.50 I spent on cotton candy! And it was so fun to spend a couple of hours with just Lizzy. She was so cute..when we got home and I tucked her in she said "thanks for Elmo Mom"....pretty much sealed the deal that we'll do it again!

Today, I got to have lunch with Lexi. She's in band camp this week. It goes until 11:30 and is at a school just a few blocks from my work, so she walks to the station and hangs out for an hour while I do the Noon Report. Today we decided to have a "girls' hour" and tried a new restaurant we'd never been to before. We had sandwiches, salad and soup...then shared a piece of cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake was delicious...the rest was just ok, but the good company made up for the so-so food. I had so much fun just visiting with Lexi and catching up on her busy life. I got the low-down on band camp, who is playing what instrument, who she sits by, who she saw, and I even found out she's sort of excited for school to start. All that and yummy cheesecake too!
Now it's Jake's turn. I told him we would do something together, just the two of us, this week, since I've spent time with each of the girls. It only seems fair. Problem is, he's not interested in Elmo (which is probably good....I might worry if a third grader was as obsessed with Elmo as my two year old is!) and his idea of a lunch date is a snack wrap at McDonalds. He suggested a movie, but the opportunity for conversation is pretty limited in a movie theater. We'll think of something...even if it's just a trip to the Dairy Queen, or the Lego aisle at Target!