Monday, April 26, 2010

Big Vent

For the last week, I have been experiencing a persistent, low-grade frustration. Nothing major or life-changing has happened, for which I am grateful, but there has been a series of minor frustrations.

It is common knowledge that appliances tend to break in clusters. I don't know if this is really true, or if you just get more and more frustrated with each successive breakage, making multiple breakages stand out in your mind.

Anyway, last week was my week. Not only did the laptop go kaput, but the vacuum hose stopped sucking, and the GPS had been broken for several weeks. (Another debunking of the "things break in clusters" myth: a lot of times we tend to count things that have, in fact, broken long ago and are just still not fixed.)

And then there was the dishwasher. For some time, my husband has been at odds with the dishwasher. According to his mom, he has always been rather particular about the cleanliness of dishes, such that when he selects a dish, he will inspect a series of dishes and reject several for having miscellaneous spots on them. He determined that the source of the problem in our dishwasher was a large white blob of something at the bottom of the dishwasher, which he told Nathan was the mythical Mexican chupacabra. This actually became quite comical, because Bill bought Nathan a Scooby-Doo DVD about the chupacabra for his birthday, and when it came time to shop for a new dishwasher, Nathan told the salesperson, "We need a new dishwasher, because our dishwasher has a chupacabra in it."

Anyway, so on the day we bought our new fridge, we also got a new, space-age, non-chupacabra-having dishwasher, which was to be installed the following Tuesday (which was last Tuesday). When the day came, it turned out Sears' computer system had somehow malfunctioned, and our order was completely lost. Five frustrating days later, during which the chupacabra caught wind of his impending eradication and decided to render the dishwasher completely non-functional, we ended up going back to Sears and just re-buying the dishwasher. It's supposed to come tomorrow. And I blame the chupacabra for mobilizing the other appliances to break as well.

Bill went out of town Friday for his high school reunion. He asked if I could drive him to the airport. On the way, Nathan began whining that he was thirsty, and so I let him drink out of my plastic cup with a reusable straw (you know, the kinds they sell at Starbucks and the like?). When he gave it back, several sharp, jagged pieces were missing from the straw. Bill asked me to pull over so we could frantically search for the pieces. When we couldn't find them, we became paranoid that Nathan had swallowed one, so we took a detour to the nearest ER and went through a little adventure there. The doctors assured us we had nothing to worry about, and they took an x-ray to prove it. They discharged us and told us to look out for signs of abdominal distress, which were unlikely at that point. Also at that point, Bill had missed his flight and had to pay $200 to get a later one. But I still consider him the lucky one, because after that ordeal he got to get on a plane, relax, and enjoy a kid-free three-day weekend.

I don't know what it is about having Bill out of town that is so stressful for me. I'm used to him working late and having to do most of the housework/cooking/childcare on my own, which is the deal I signed up for when I decided to become a stay-at-home-mom. I'm used to getting up with Nathan in the morning and being up for several hours with him while Bill sleeps. And on many weekends I take Nathan alone to do things while Bill gets work done. Yet somehow the combination of never having another adult there really wears you out. You can never ask somebody else to give a bath or even just dry the kid off after the bath. There are no periods where the kid is off with his dad playing so you can make dinner. It's just all you, all the time.

My strategy with the weekend was to just spend the days completely wearing Nathan out, so I wouldn't have any problems at bedtime. Normally he takes a nap in the afternoon and then we stay up a little later because I have the gym and we eat late to accommodate Bill's late afternoon classes. But for this weekend, I didn't want to have Nathan wake up around 5 p.m. from a nap, then be tasked with the challenge of having to wear him out in the evenings. Better to just forgo the nap and power through the day.

So on Saturday we: went to the gym, went to the little league opening day parade, ran a few errands, went back to Sears to buy the dishwasher, ran around a lot at the mall playground outside of the Sears, and then rode in the little cars at the mall that you put quarters in. And then we got home and it was still just me and this kid, and I had to make dinner, force him to eat his dinner, and then get him ready for bed.

And then he still wouldn't sleep in his bed and ended up in mine. Where his diaper leaked. A lot.

Sunday I decided to opt for one big outing instead of several little ones. I found this super fun children's museum in Indiana, just 25 minutes away. They had your standard water table and train table, plus the little make-believe dress-up village with the toy kitchen and grocery store. And, adorably, they have a little cooking class where they show the kids how to make something, and then they eat it. They made ants on a log, which is usually made with celery, peanut butter, and raisins, but they are a peanut-free facility so they substituted cream cheese for peanut butter. And speaking of food, they have a fairly decent snack bar with pizza they make there. Plus they have a big ball pit and a giant padded play structure, making it sort of a combination museum/Chuck E. Cheese/McDonald's playland. We stayed until the place closed.

And then we went home. And I still had to deal with this kid, dinner, and bedtime. And exhausted as he was, he still found the energy to carry on in his bed for two hours until I gave up and once again let him sleep in my bed. Which was actually pretty convenient because he developed a cold and was up several times in the middle of the night moaning, "I'm siiiiiiick."

So that's where we are today. I'm really tired of being alone with this kid, and now we're throwing in whiny and sick as well. I scrapped my plans to go to the gym because you aren't supposed to bring sick kids to the daycare, and plus even if I did it would have been difficult to motivate him to go.

Instead I just ordered pizza. With cheesy garlic bread. And baked mostaccioli.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big NaBloPoMo FAIL

So, in case you might be wondering why I haven't posted in the last 3 days, the answer is not that I'm dead. My computer, however, is dead. It started making this rattling noise, like a rain stick, when I picked it up to carry it downstairs Tuesday morning. And it won't start up anymore. Ignoring the wishes of my DIY husband, I took it in to the Best Buy Geek Squad. Of course, they suggested I get a new computer. And not to bring you into my marital problems, but Mr. DIY is against replacing the thing, while I am all for it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Mistake

In the great debate between being a stay-at-home mom and a work-outside-the-home mom (a debate that exists, largely, inside each individual mom's own head), there is the question of whether staying home will bring a mom more free time. More time with your child(ren), yes. More time for household chores, yes. But more free time? Hard to say.

I think that as a SAHM, I have more unstructured time than I did when I was working. When I was working, my whole day was scheduled with my work shift and then my at-home evening routines. Even the weekends had to be used mostly for catching up on laundry and grocery shopping. It was stressful, and I admit that being a SAHM is a lot less stressful in terms of scheduling. I do feel like I have time to get things done.

However, I also have less alone time, and that makes it hard to get certain kid-free activities done. I am lucky to have childcare on Tuesdays, but I can only get so much done on those days. It's hard for me to thoroughly clean my whole house from top-to-bottom with Nathan around, so I usually do that on Tuesdays. Throw in some grocery shopping and other miscellaneous errands/appointments, and my Tuesdays are more or less shot.

So I usually start thinking around Sunday about what I can do to lessen my Tuesday load. For example, could I possibly squeeze in a small grocery-shopping trip with Nathan Monday afternoon to tide us over until the following weekend?

So, the big mistake part comes in here, when I was using today to try to get some of my Tuesday to-do's done. As you may recall, I got fake nails a couple of weeks ago. I got them mostly for the wedding I was in, and then my intention was to have them removed this week. I got to thinking that Nathan could probably behave himself long enough in the nail place for them to pry off my acrylic nails, and for me to get an eyebrow wax. I have brought him along for eyebrow waxes before, because it's not like those are relaxing anyway. They're ripping your facial hair out from the roots, so adding in the pain of wrangling a toddler doesn't make it that much more painful.

So it was gonna be brow wax, then nail removal. But when I got into the nail place, I was seduced by the many pretty colors I could get if I just got my nails filled in another time. I craved that feeling of walking away with something pretty and novel to have all for myself. So I asked to have my nails filled, with the bright pink sea gems tips.

Nathan had many toys. He played with them for a time, ate a sucker from my purse for a time, and sat on my lap for a time. However, he also wanted to spin around in the chair, step on the pedals that operate the electric nail tools, and play with those fake hands that display the different kinds of nails you could get. He broke off two of the nails on the display hands, and the lady was mad. She yelled at him, "You go sit down!" And that child looked like my old dog used to when you would scold her for peeing on the carpet and she'd hide in the corner with her tail between her legs.

Maybe I should yell at him more.

Anyway, I learned that you should not take your child with you to the nail place. You have to spend every second controlling his behavior, and you have to do it from a chair with only one available hand. And you have to endure yelling from the nail lady and Judgmental Looks from the other patrons.

The thing is, I feel like an idiot in so many ways. First of all, what made me think the child could behave himself while I got my nails done? Second, why am I not a good enough parent to just get my kid to listen to me? I swear, that child fights back on every command I give him. I mean, not in an argumentative way, just in a "let me ascertain the exact limits of my behavior" way. So, say he is screaming and yelling. You say, "Stop screaming." And instead he changes his voice to making the same noise, just in a voice that's not quite loud enough to qualify as a scream, but is still loud enough to be annoying. And it's like, must you be so sneaky?

I think I need to find a new nail place. I'm too embarrassed to show my face in there ever again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not-so-big problems

First of all, I am posting twice in one day because I didn't post yesterday. Yes, I know that's cheating. Whatever.

This running thing is just killing me. I have gone out running twice since my class last week, and both times were big fat fails. I couldn't run for 5 minutes straight at all. This has been trying both physically and psychologically. Some people have suggested that this particular program might be starting out too advanced, and that I should try something easier at first, but I don't know if I should because I still have to be able to hang with the teacher/class on Wednesdays.

Anyway, so all the time I am exhausted and crabby. I can't seem to get anything done. And I just feel off my rhythm these days anyway. First I went on this trip, and then last week Bill worked late every single day, so simple things like preparing dinner and sitting down to eat it with my family have not happened in several days. I feel off.

The Big Box

Two guys on a truck came yesterday to bring us this big box, which has been turned into a fort that is obviously very holy and angelic, seeing as it's bathed in light and all.

Prior to being fort-ified, the box contained our new refrigerator! See, on Friday, Bill stayed home from work so we could go to Sears and take advantage of the one-day government incentive to get 15% off energy-efficient appliances. (Am I the only one who wishes the government would put its money toward universal healthcare instead of bribing us all to buy appliances? I mean, I'm sure the appliance money wouldn't go all that far in terms of healthcare, but it could at least buy some band-aids for a clinic or something.)

So, the reason for our new refrigerator was that our old one was totally decrepit. It was manufactured in 2000, and it seems to me that a refrigerator shouldn't fall apart after 10 years, because didn't everybody's grandma own a refrigerator from like 1952 or something? Oh well, they don't make 'em like they used to. Also, I am a very destructive appliance owner.

On the old refrigerator, both the refrigerator and freezer handles had broken off. (Talk about Life telling you to go on a diet.) Every single drawer was cracked. On the lunch meat/cheese/tortilla drawer (what, that's a category, right?), there was such a large hole in the front that you didn't even have to open the drawer to put the stuff in. It was actually really efficient. Also, the ice maker no longer dispensed on the front.

Plus, it was nasty. I have to confess that in the time we have lived in this house (which is the better part of 3 years), I really only did one serious scrub-down of the fridge. Is there any bigger pain in the ass than cleaning spills in a refrigerator? Everything you spill seeps down into every crack and crevice, including ones you can only reach with a toothpick, and also all the substances congeal and cool so you can't clean them with ordinary household cleaners.

So when we decided to get a new fridge, I just decided to stop cleaning the old one altogether.

Our new fridge really isn't different than the old one, except for the non-nastiness and the full functionality. But it's nice to start fresh. I was ruthless, ruthless I tell you, in my cleanout of the old fridge, throwing out every barbecue sauce with only a quarter inch of sauce in it and getting rid of the little applesauces that I thought would solve all my problems with getting Nathan to eat items from the plant kingdom.

And now all we do is just sit and stare at our new fridge in awe. Which is just totally dumb because a new fridge doesn't cook the food for you or make it so delicious foods are somehow healthier. It just cools your food, same as your old fridge. And you're out a lot of money for it, even if the government did subsidize a small part of it.

But there's something so nice about having something clean and efficient. It reduces a lot of stress. Plus, there's the bonus of having a really attractive giant box fort in your living room! Buzz Kill that I am, I wanted to have the delivery people take the box with them. But my husband's inner child, as well as my actual child, wanted to keep the box. And man, has this fort been exciting! We have played several rounds of a game known as "knock on the door and come in," and I even typed part of this post in it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The big summer preview!

Yesterday we had temps in the 80s. The 80s! In April!

So we went to the garage and got out two plastic containers with the most beautiful labels ever: "Summer" and "Wading Pool."

In "Summer" we found beach towels, sidewalk chalk, and some balls that float in the pool. The towels smelled like citronella candles, and that scent, mixed with the smell of our sunscreen, gave us the full summer olfactory experience.

"Wading Pool" contained not only the basic inflatable pool, but this other contraption that goes over it and hooks up to the hose to produce a rainstorm. I kind of downplayed that top part because I was a little light-headed after blowing up the pool, and the top part is inflatable, too.

After adding 5-6 large stock pots of hot water to the freezing-cold hose water, the pool was a comfortable temperature. I quickly whipped up a picnic lunch in the kitchen while Nathan chomped at the bit to go in the pool. Then I ate while Nathan splashed:

Living in a cold climate really makes you appreciate the little things that signal warmer weather. Like fruit:

My favorites are strawberries and nectarines. What are yours?

The pool got a little chilly, so we played with sidewalk chalk for awhile:
The reflection of the tulips in the glass door is a cool touch, don't you think?

Today our string of good-weather luck has ended, and it's overcast with temps in the 60s. But now I've had a preview of the summer, and I'm hooked. Oh Mr. Sun, I love you so much, I even paid tribute to you in my art:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The big challenge: REVISED

Remember two whole days ago when I wrote about trying to go to the gym 20 times in April so I could get a t-shirt? Well, since then, as in yesterday, I embarked on a new fitness challenge.

My friend Carolyn and I joined a class at the gym that is supposed to train you to run the 5K circuit that they have in our hometown over the summer. It's sort of like the Couch to 5K, except with a teacher. And this teacher? She is one of those people who is so fit in such a perfectly-proportioned way that you can't believe it. She's not just thin, but toned, except not in a gross bodybuilding way. Her skin is perfectly tanned. Her hair is perfect. Her teeth are sparkling white and straight. This woman is so perfect I might consider sleeping with her. And oh, did I mention I see her dropping off her two kids in the gym daycare when I drop off Nathan? And that the younger one is exactly Nathan's age? And that her abs would suggest otherwise?

Anyway, she's one of those people who eats, sleeps, and breathes fitness. She's a trainer and instructor at not only our gym, but another one across town as well. She rides in 100-mile bike races and does triathlons. And she says things like, "Tomorrow I have a training appointment at 5:15 a.m., then I'm teaching Spin & Sculpt at 6, and then I'll be off-and-on at the gym on the floor until 10 p.m."

I wish I could be that passionate about something that is good for me. Or that I could incorporate one of my hobbies into professional work. But until Professional Cat Appreciator becomes a real position, I'm stuck.

Anyway, so we're in this class that's supposed to take us from total schlubs to 5K runners in six weeks. Each week we run a little bit more. Last night we ran 5 minutes, then walked 2, then repeated this two more times. I felt exhausted, but it seemed do-able.

But here's where a wrench gets thrown in the whole t-shirt-earning plan. The running class has homework. You're supposed to repeat that week's workout at least 3 more times on your own. Now, granted this week's workout is only 21 minutes long, but it's a major energy-drain and sweat-builder, and I don't know that I want to try to do it before another exercise class. And I sure as hell know I won't be willing to try to do it after another exercise class. Which means that I'll probably have to cut out at least a couple of classes a week.

So I'm not making any promises on the t-shirt now.

But hey, Running Instructor Barbie (actual name: Amy, and she's very nice) told us that it is pointless to work out too much, which makes me feel a little bit better.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My big fat needy cat

file photo

Every cat I ever had growing up had a bit of a vindictive streak when it came to being left alone during a vacation. Upon their owners' return home, they would hide for several hours or days, as if to say, "You don't deserve to be graced with my presence."

Leia apparently didn't get the memo that cats are supposed to get even with their owners after being left during trips. When we get home from trips, Leia is ridiculously needy. She's up in your face begging for attention constantly. It's as though "love cat" needs to be another item on your to-do list after a trip.

Last night she decided to forgo her usual spot at the corner of our bed near Bill's feet, and instead sleep right in between Bill and me, next to my head. And right now as I type this I'm lying on my bed, and she's lying right on my pillow with me. Except what she doesn't get is, some ends of cats are more enjoyable to have in your face than others.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The big challenge

We got home after hours and hours of travel (a reasonable 4 hours in flight plus several more pointless hours of airportry), and Nathan didn't get to sleep until midnight. So you can imagine how excited I was when he woke up at 6:47 a.m. After 30 minutes of half-sleep, courtesy of PBS Kids (and this is why I make my annual donation to WTTW), I got up to face the beast known as Back From a Trip. One part laundry, one part suitcases full of random items you don't know where to put, and one part piled-up mail, the beast makes you wonder if it was ever worth it to go on a trip at all. Oh, and as you try to get those items slowly put away, you realize that your house wasn't really left in the cleanest state to begin with, so eager were you to get going on your trip.

And I just realized that Back From a Trip could be abbreviated like BFaT, which is a good segue into my next paragraph. I swore I would go back to Weight Watchers the day after I got home from the trip (i.e., today), but I seriously just ... can't ... deal. I find it overwhelming to restock the fridge after a trip, let alone try to restock it with some kind of Weight Watchers-friendly items. And perhaps when you're totally stressed out, you should not be embarking on a diet. So I think I'm waiting another week.

Besides, I'm going to be working out like a mo-fo this week, and here's why. My gym is having this Group Fitness Challenge in April, where people compete to see who can take the most classes at the gym. Everyone's progress is tracked on that most rewarding of bookkeeping systems, the sticker chart. Remember when I talked about needing to get a gold star for my accomplishments? Well, the gym is actually using happy-face stickers, but you'd be amazed at how motivating those stupid stickers arefor fully-grown adults.

Anyway, don't let me mislead you into thinking that I actually have a snowball's chance in hell of winning this contest. For starters, I was out of town for an entire week. And even if I wasn't, there are people who take like 3 classes a day at the gym, and there's no way I can compete with them. Like, seriously, there were people who already had 3 stickers in the first 6 hours of the contest.

But, the other part of the challenge is that everybody who takes 20 classes in April will get a t-shirt. I know what you're thinking: Wow, a freakin' t-shirt. How many stupid free giveaway t-shirts does every single person own? Like, a million? And yet every time a free shirt is offered, it's like the most exciting reward ever. Oh my gosh, a free shirt. I could clothe my body with this. Good thing, because where else could I possibly get clothing? Like, a store? Stores are for suckers, with their more properly-fitting, non-written-on, better-colored shirts.

The shirt you earn is this huge badge of honor. I will wear that thing at the gym with pride. And then I will sweat all over it.

So, now that I have established that a shirt is the most coveted prize in the world, I must make great efforts to earn it. But, here's the thing. Due to travel and a religious holiday on which my husband had the audacity to want to go to church, I only have two stickers. And it's April 13. That means I need 18 more stickers, and guess how many days left I have to go the gym in April? That's right, 18! Stupid 30 days has September!

Now I have to go to the gym every single day for the rest of April. And some days the only class I like is at 6 a.m. Which means if I'm not out of the house by 5:30, I'm going to have to compensate by taking two classes another day.

Because if I don't get that shirt ... well, I don't even want to think about what will happen.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Big return

We're finally home. I hate air travel. But I feel lucky that we're home safe, and it was a great trip. Truly felt like a vacation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Graciela and Andrew's BIG Day

The main reason behind this trip out west was so I could be a bridesmaid in my childhood friend Graciela's wedding, which was yesterday.

Here's a picture of me with the bride and groom.

This is a pre-wedding cake photo of Graciela with her maid of honor, Dawn. Both of them went to high school and college with me.

Here's the bride getting ready to walk down the aisle.

Here's Bill and me in a "stick your arm out and shoot" photo.

And here's me at the reception, looking a little bit drunk already.

The reception was on the church grounds. I like weddings where the ceremony and reception are in the same place. The tent for the reception was pretty. As you can see, there were carpets on the ground, and there were also really pretty chandeliers. I really liked the centerpieces because they actually looked like normal vases of flowers, not that weird avant-garde shit you see at some weddings. And my bridesmaid's bouquet was a bunch of red tulips, which are among my three favorite flowers. (The other two are roses, which everybody loves, and carnations, which everybody thinks are cheap.)

The food was so good! Not the usual boring chicken breast and bland vegetables with rice. The chicken item was a pastry-wrapped breast of chicken with spinach. So good. There was a roast beef carving station, and although I don't personally like the meat of the cow, my husband said it was the best roast beef he had ever had. They had these awesome mashed potatoes and really good roasted vegetables. And the rolls had cheese in them. Like, entire whole hunks of cheese baked in, grilled cheese style.

Also I had 2 Midori sours and an apple martini ... and a massive headache this morning. I guess I'm getting too old to drink.

Anyway, congratulations, Graciela and Andrew!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big fun at Kidspace

Kidspace is a children's museum I used to go to as a kid. Back then, it was housed in this small, sweat-scented warehouse. A few years ago, they relocated and expanded. Now it's a very California museum, in that the exhibits are built into the picturesque outdoor landscapes. There are indoor activities as well (perfect for California's 3 days a year of inclement weather each year), but even those are connected via shaded, pleasant breezeways.

My favorite part was this human-made creek/waterfall that the kids could play in. Here's a video.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A big day of yumminess

I'm in Pasadena now visiting my mom and stepdad. Yesterday I demanded to have some of my favorite culinary staples from my hometown.

First of all, let me say that I think the restaurant options here are so much better than they are in the suburb where I currently live. There are more places in one square block in Pasadena than there are in the entire town where I live now. And the places are varied ethnically, so you could have Greek and then Japanese and then Subway. Where I live now, you pretty much have Chinese, Italian, repeat. I think maybe where I live now, a hamburger is considered German food.

I also think there's much more of an eating out culture in SoCal than there is in Illinois. Like, in SoCal it felt like we ate out quite frequently, whereas in Illinois it seems like it's just assumed you are going to eat at home. Like, for all three meals a day. I really can't handle this much cooking, even though I'd say that breakfast and lunch are more "food assembling" than actual cooking.

Anyway, back to what I ate yesterday. In the suburb where I live, and in the surrounding suburbs, the Mexican food options are really quite terrible. Coming from the L.A. area, where you could spit and hit 50 mom-n-pop Mexican places (although of course you wouldn't want to eat at any of them after you spit in them), it's hard to go to a place where the most authentic Mexican cuisine you can get is Taco Bell. We do have some Mexican places, but they just aren't very good, in my opinion. So when I come out to California, I ask for Mexican.

Last night we went to El Chollo. It's this Mexican place that has been in the L.A. area since 1923. Good food. Good margarita.

Then we washed it down with some Pinkberry yogurt, which is actually a California-based love that I developed after I moved to Illinois, and that I hope will come to Illinois sometime in the near future. I like to have strawberries and mochi as toppings.

Now all I have to do is get to Del Taco and In-N-Out, and I'm set.

Oh, and next week I'm going back on Weight Watchers, I swear.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A big field of flowers, and the big ocean

Yesterday we went to the Flower Fields of Carlsbad, California, which is near San Diego. It's a giant field of flowers and some other garden-based attractions on the side. Now, the last time I went to the Flower Fields, I was on spring break from college. At that point the fields didn't have a lot of side attractions, so my family and I walked around the massive fields and took pictures. Flash-forward to the present, when the fields have all kinds of things to do, but I also have a 3-year-old.

So we spent most of our visit at the playground.

It used to be a Santa's Village or something like that, so the theme of the playground was little elf cottages.

When it came time to go, we had spent most of our time either watching Nathan on the playground or waiting in line to get lemonade. I was all, "Look, we're taking our picture in front of the damn flower fields before we leave!" Here are the pics:

My dad

My dad, stepmom, and uncooperative Nathan

A rare photo of me. I'm going to focus on how we look happy and loving, and not how I think I look fat and old.

These are Lego flowers, a nod to the nearby Legoland.

And the best thing about the Flower Fields was that they sold these delicious, delicious strawberries there. Whiny Nathan was upset that he couldn't have a strawberry right then, so the woman at the stand gave him a free sample. So much for "Whining will get you nowhere."

After the Flower Fields we went to the beach, but I only have one picture of it because my camera battery was dying. This is Nathan after eating a cherry snow cone.

Today we're heading north to Pasadena to visit my mom and stepdad for a few days.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A big day for WhyMommy

I'm taking a break from my SoCal travelogue to participate in this very important event in support of blogger WhyMommy. WhyMommy, whose real name is Susan, is a D.C.-area mom blogger and scientist who was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2007. Following a very hard battle, Susan's cancer went into remission. Unfortunately, it came back. Today Susan is having a very important surgery. In support of Susan, who by profession is an astrophysicist, several of us around the blogosphere are participating in a Virtual Science Fair that has been organized by blogger Stimey.

For the Virtual Science Fair, bloggers are supposed to do some kind of science-based activity with their kids and write about it. Our science activity took place last Thursday, when we were still back in Illinois. We were enjoying stellar high temps in the 80s, so Nathan and I headed over to our nearby forest preserve for a walk. It's really called Izaak Walton Forest Preserve, but Nathan just calls it "Nature." As in, "Remember when we were at Nature and we saw those turtles?"

Anyway, here is Nathan at Nature:

He is carrying a bag of bread we brought to feed the ducks/geese, but unfortunately he ended up eating most of it himself:

The science lessons of the day mostly consisted of the following:
  • pine cones and other seed pods hold seeds that will hopefully plant new trees
  • moss grows on a lot of tree trunks and logs
  • when water combines with dirt it makes mud, and if there's enough water there will be a river (which usually happens later in the spring)
  • in the spring, trees and plants grow new leaves and blossoms
We also saw the afore-mentioned turtles, which were a little too far away for me to take a decent picture of. But it was the cutest because it was an adult turtle with a baby turtle on its back, and then another adult turtle who jumped into the water. "I think it's a family," Nathan said, which melted my heart in a way that only a mother's heart can melt. I said the adult turtle was probably the mom, but Nathan thought it was the dad, which made Bill happy when I recounted the story to him later. Anyway, that lesson was probably a little more social studies than science, but it was still cute.

I have to admit that science was not my strong suit in high school/college, which is too bad because as a parent I realize that most of a child's daily learning is science-based. Oh sure, we can be all annoying and force them to do worksheets and flash-cards to learn letters and numbers, but a lot of their play centers around learning basic scientific principles. For example, you drop a ball and it goes down. Or, if you dump water from a big container into a smaller one, some of it will spill out. Even Nathan's adorable question upon seeing a dog at the forest preserve jumping into the grossest lake ever, "How can a dog swim if it doesn't have any arms?" is science-based.

Science is all around us, and I know that's a lesson that WhyMommy is glad we're all learning today.

I thought about WhyMommy when I saw this budding plant at the forest preserve. Spring's ability to bring new life out of the dark, barren winter is a symbol of hope. Although my picture of the plant is admittedly blurry, I would still like to send this message of hope to WhyMommy. We are all thinking of you today, Susan.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Big freak out

The trip out went well, although holy crap 9 hours of airports and flying with a 3-year-old is a lot. The first flight was 4 hours long, and in that time we could have gotten all the way to California, but unfortunately we had a layover in Phoenix. Nathan sat in his seat the entire 4 hours and didn't get up, and he mostly did this activity book I got at Costco, so I can't complain about his behavior. But he emerged from that flight like a bat out of hell, running through the Phoenix airport like nobody's business. Unfortunately our connecting flight was just about 50 feet from the gate where the first flight landed, which was at Concourse C, so we took a little run out to Concourse D, where there was a Starbucks. Ironic that Nathan had to burn off some energy and I had to get some coffee to get myself some more energy. Anyway, we got on the second flight, which was an hour, and then we landed in the O.C. and my dad and stepmom picked us up, and then we went to Chipotle on the way home, and went home and crashed.

Today we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. My brother and SIL came with us, since they live in the area. After a petting zoo, playground, lunch, and some walking around, we got in the long-ass line for the tram tour. The line was an hour long, but unfortunately when we got to the front they said a tram had broken down out on the trail and was blocking a bunch of other trams from getting through. So that added another half an hour to the wait. So, you know how when you wait in a line at an amusement park, they do that sort of zig-zag formation so they can pack a big long line into a small space, and they separate the rows of people with metal bars? Well, Nathan was hanging off those bars, and I swear I was holding him, but I turned away to put away my cell phone and he fell backward on his head. And somebody called the park medics and we had to go with them, and they had to fill out all these reports, and take photos of his head for their records. And I was freaking out. My baby!! But my dad kept assuring me it was a CYA move and I shouldn't worry. (All the while he was saying, "Wow, he really fell hard!") Anyway, we took the tram tour, and he seemed normal enough, throwing a tantrum and all. Then we had a $5 slushie and he ran up and down this big grassy hill with a bunch of other kids, and he raced me back to the entrance, and then finally he fell asleep in the car. But of course I was still freaking out. The stupid paper the paramedic gave me said that I should watch him for the next several days for a variety of symptoms, including drowsiness. So even though he fell asleep in the car after a very long and exhausting day at a big amusement park, I still freaked out.

Anyway, we had dinner at this Italian restaurant with the most awesome caramel pudding ever, and now the little patient and Grandpa are planting something called Grouch Beans, which is a seed packet with Oscar the Grouch on the outside.

We were supposed to go to Disneyland tomorrow, but my dad thinks it will be too crowded, this being spring break and all. So we're off on some other big TBD adventures.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A big trip

Today Nathan and I are flying out to California for a week. We're taking a "taxi car" (Nathan's terminology) to the airport, which Nathan loves and I find to be an added layer of stress because the taxi is just one more place I have to hook up the car seat.

I have flown with Nathan by myself a few times, but today will be the first time we do it with a layover. We're stopping in Phoenix for about an hour, assuming all goes as planned. (Please, please, let all things go as planned.)

Nathan enjoys airplanes, and thankfully he's at least at an age where it's possible to keep him entertained with any given toy for more than 5 minutes. So hopefully it won't be too rough a day. The one thing I really hate is that you can't let a kid cry himself to sleep the way you can at home, because all the other passengers will get annoyed. So sometimes we get through an entire flight with Nathan having taken no nap. Then he sleeps in the car on the way back from the airport, while I have to try and be all chipper with the people I'm visiting.

We have a jam-packed schedule while we're out west, including a wedding next Saturday where I am a bridesmaid. I think we'll be paying Mickey a visit as well.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The big bunny, and other Easter photos

This was actually last week when Nathan saw the Easter bunny at the park district egg hunt.

Then last night we colored eggs:

This one is cute, even though the lighting is weird in these:

This morning we went to a church that we never go to, because it was important to my husband that we go to church. They had an egg hunt there, but I didn't get any pictures of it. This is a silly picture of Nathan before church.

And then after church I got the shot of a lifetime:

We just bought a new video camera, so I was playing around with that, which means that the capturing of Easter in still photographs kind of suffered. For example, the basket-opening and the egg hunt at the church are on (fairly long) videos that I have not yet uploaded.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Big Flower Arrangement I Made

My friend is having a party tomorrow that is a combination family Easter and truck-themed birthday party for her son. So I made this flower arrangement for her, using flowers from Costco.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Not-so-big news

I got fake nails. And I made strawberry shortcake.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My BIG Revelation: I should be grateful for what I have

Today is the first day of April NaBloPoMo, the theme of which is "Big." All my posts this month will have the word Big in the title.

Last week was a tough week, husband-wise. The week before last, Bill had been on spring break, so he was home during some of the days and all of the evenings for dinner. Then last week, Bill was back to teaching his night classes, plus he had two conferences, one in Detroit on Monday and one in Austin from Thursday through Saturday. So Nathan and I were home alone every night except Tuesday.

On Wednesday I was over at my friend's house. Promptly at 6 p.m., her husband came home, immediately grabbed the baby for a bath, and simultaneously cooked dinner. Meanwhile, Nathan and I were leaving their house, going home for yet another night without our father and husband.

I felt sorry for myself. I felt jealous that my friend had a new baby and I didn't. I felt sorry that my husband wasn't as hands-on as her husband was.

On the drive home, I looked at my sweet little monkey in the rearview mirror. I realized that by feeling sorry that I didn't have another baby, I was not at all appreciating the perfect little guy that I already have. It was like, "Look, Mommy feels like she has to have another baby to check off the next thing on her life checklist. You don't matter. You were my item I checked off 3 years ago."

This made me realize that I also spend a lot of mental energy putting my husband down for what he doesn't do. It's true that he doesn't make dinner ever. He doesn't wash dishes. He doesn't ... oh crap, I can't even think of a third thing he doesn't do, which proves that he's a pretty good guy but prevents me from making a valid point, because a valid point needs at least 3 arguments.

Oh, I got one. He doesn't come home before 7:30 p.m. most nights, and he's out of town a lot. But the reality is, that's because he has enjoyed success in his career. He says if he won the lottery, he would still do his job. (Something I have never, ever been able to say about any job I've ever had.) And the fact that he's gone a lot is an honor because he has been asked to speak at all these professional conferences.

And he does take Nathan to the potty or give him a bath when I ask. Sure, I would love a husband who didn't have to be asked, but ...

But actually, I am kind of thinking I have a strong enough independent streak that I wouldn't like a husband who was all up in the details of my life. (No, this does not mean I'm keeping secrets from him. When I say details, I really mean details. Like laundry.)

Point is, I think our marriage works for us. He has his activities and I have mine, and we come together and do things together when we can. And maybe the fact that we're both a little frazzled means that we shouldn't have another baby, but the one we have is adorable. And he's getting old enough that we have more freedom now that we're not in baby jail.

So it's time I stop thinking about what I don't have and start appreciating what I do have. Now if only I could move toward body acceptance. That's a big issue for another day.