Sunday, June 30, 2013

Maya's Notebook

This is the post that I was going to write a few days ago when I finished Maya's Notebook.  But then I wigged out (pretty much about OTC meds) in the ER, and that was just too good to pass up, don't you agree?  I've been writing lots of stuff about the kids as of late; it's time to get out of that rut, at least for one post.

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende--if you know me well, then you understand that I snatched that book off of the shelf faster than my daughter can slurp down a glass of chocolate milk (is there any greater love affair than my child and that drink?).  Isabel Allende is, hands down, my favorite author ever, and I've read a few books by several different authors in my years. 

Once when I was teaching Edith Wharton in class (an American author from around the turn of the Twentieth Century...look her up), I described her writing style as akin to something you savor for the mouth feel, the richness of the text, and the full-bodied wording.  Wharton's writing is refined, like a delicate cup of tea and scones.  To fully appreciate Wharton, you need to take your time with the text, and let the silky wording float in your mind, like sinking down into really nice bedding before you let yourself fall asleep.  Allende is much like that, to me, but not because her writing is Wharton-esque; it's not.  Her sentences are choppier, often clipped and brusque.  Her paragraphs are often brief.  Her descriptions are pointed.

Yet there's this compelling, metronymic quality to Allende's writing that I find to be captivating.  Truth be told, I appreciate Allende's writing style above all else, even the plot (which are invariably unique).

My only problem with Maya's Notebook, and it's not inconsequential, is that it tends more to the realm of pop lit much more so than anything else that she has written.  At times, the narrative devolves in the slangy speak of the American teen, though in keeping with the plot, which is nevertheless briefly jarring to read given the vast majority of the text is written as Allende writes.  (Her iconic writing style is due in part to translation; Allende's native language is Spanish, which is also the language in which she writes.)  It doesn't entirely make sense for the first-person narration to briefly flit to the side of off-the-cuff expressions given the structure of the narrative as a whole.  But I also get the intent behind these moments as the narrator in question is merely 19 and there is some necessary value in grounding the text in that persona.  If I were the author, I think that I would struggle with that, a difference between what comes naturally to what should be necessary.  Most of the time, the narrative dialogue works; occasionally, it falters.

The plot manages to straddle both American and Chilean cultures as only Allende could, and it works.  She incorporates nods to her roots in magical realism and anchors the text in her background, as she manages to do in each of her works, disparate though they are.  Maya's Notebook is the stuff of people transplanted into other worlds, finding life in foreign soil.  As such, the text proves to be another translation of Allende's own life, borne out into story form in yet another variation.

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to be blacklisted from the ER

Have a mental breakdown over the pros and cons of infant ibuprofen and infant Tylenol.

Granted, there's more to it than that, but I'm sure in the eyes of the ER staff, that's exactly what it looked like.

You know how things can silently and quickly build up until all of a sudden you find yourself a sniveling mess of a person over what is sometimes a triviality?  That was me last night. 

Hello, I'd like to introduce myself.  I'm the mom who brings her sick child in as a last ditch effort to find someone who can help.  I'd also like to let you know that this is our third medical consultation in three days.  I've been to Meijer/Walgreens 3 times now to find something that offers relief, once at 1:30 a.m.  I'm tired.  I haven't eaten anything for about 7 hours now, and at the glacial pace that this is going, the food outlook isn't good for the immediate future.  I'm beyond worried that I can't control my daughter's fever.  In fact, I gave her ibuprofen, and it went up; I gave her Tylenol 3 hours after the ibuprofen and it still went up.  The medical staff at our doctor's walk-in clinic sent me to the ER because they don't have anything else to offer me, which scares me.  She has had full-body (including face) hives for three days now, and each day has been worse than the day before.  She is swollen and itchy and burning up and only wants to snuggle but doesn't want to be touched or moved.  I'm going to go a bit nutty on you, and no one is going to see it coming.  I know that your job is very stressful and very difficult.  I will not be making it any easier tonight.  Please, bear with me.

Neither Ben nor I had ever really seen anyone with hives before, so when Audrey started getting angry red bumps covering her legs and arms, we thought she had bug bites all over.  To me, hives are something that you hear about, shake your head, mutter "Oh, that must be horrible!" while thinking "Wow, glad I don't have those..." and continue to listen to the person's litany of medical problems.  They go hand in hand with shingles in my medical understanding: I don't (now read that as "didn't") know what they are other than a skin problem, and they're not fun (i.e. people make them out to be torturous). 

What has caused Audrey's hives has been the million dollar question that is still unanswered, though speculation is rampant.  And my frustrations thus reached a breaking point when confined for 3 hours to exam room 4 purgatory with a feverish, hurting 12-month old, I felt that they were glossed over for the sake of only addressing the fever.  Yes, please help me with the fever, but please, PLEASE help me control the hives! 

Everything in my mom-turned-doctor understanding is that you must be judicious with ibuprofen and Tylenol.  There are warnings on the boxes.  The doctor that we consulted the day before (whom we have seen before and have a trust-understanding with) specifically instructs me to be judicious with the OTC meds.  The pharmacist whom I consulted about the whole ibuprofen/Tylenol quagmire that I felt mired in and upon whose advice I ultimately took Audrey back for her third medical consultation specifically warned me about dosage and advised me not to stack both on top of each other because medical understanding has changed. 

I understand that our fundamental understanding of medicine is something rather chimerical at best and hazy at worst.  And my fear came to a head when the medical voices that I consulted were not in agreement.  What does a parent do at this point?  Perhaps I should have thrown caution to the wind and spent the 100K+ for my own medical education (I jest).  But when a doctor says "Use infant Tylenol" but the box of infant Tylenol doesn't even allude to any sort of dosage for any child less than 2 years old, even though it's labeled "infant," what is a parent to think? 

I'll say it: you don't know what to trust and you think of meds that are generally considered as innocuous as ibuprofen and Tylenol as potentially dangerous and that which must be monitored carefully.  So when the innocent nurse's aide came into our exam room brandishing not just ibuprofen or Tylenol but both together and in a HUGE dosage, I flipped.  The box says 1.75 mL for her age/weight.  When I called the doctor's office today, he said 3.75 mL for her weight if only over 100.5.  And when the nurse's aide comes in with a syringe full of ibuprofen at 5 mL (we never got as far as the Tylenol because, yes, I freaked), my tears runneth over and my normally modulated voice (really, I'm pretty good at being calm and non-accusational with medical staff) turned into something better resembling a harpie.  That's probably why the ER staff whole up in a area that is completely shut off from everything.

Ultimately, I'm glad I fought back to the extent that by this point, it had been so long since we were first seen that Audrey's temp had lowered and she didn't need both dosages of meds.  And in hindsight, I shouldn't have chosen this hospital to take her as I quickly remembered that it functions on a metric system, which is essentially a different language in my right-brained mind.  Yet when pressed repeatedly about why I should follow these high dosages and what in my mind is a very aggressive use of meds, even if they are OTC, I never received an answer other than "We know what we're doing because we work in a hospital.  I'm a doctor, so you should trust what I say."  No, I don't because frankly, we're on a first date here, and you're distracted by the cute girls across the room who are demanding your attention (to wit, the two people who were brought in on gurneys prior to his consult with us).  They acknowledged that I'm getting conflicting information but then turned around and said "But, really, you should trust what we say and not what you heard elsewhere."  Red alert to a scared mama's mind.

All of this is not to say that I blame the hospital or the staff for what turned out to be a lousy experience.  It was what it was, and it could have happened in any medical office by this point.  As a teacher, you come to understand that the crazy parents are crazy out of fear for their child's well-being and a fierce love and sense of protection.  As a parent, you understand that the teacher (or in this case medical staff) has a job to do and sees your child as one of many that pass through their doors, understanding that the child is special but also knowing that you only have to much to give to this one case, especially one who isn't bleeding.  (I did dwell on the irony of my weeping into Audrey's baby soft hair as we paced in the hallway of the not-as-much-of-an-emergency side of the ER as we watched two people who I'm guessing were in a car accident and probably were bleeding being wheeled in on stretchers.) 

Once our life gets back on a more even keel (I started the week taking Abby to the dentist for a 2-hour cavity fix, which is, of course, also a fun adventure), medically speaking, I'm going to write a thank-you-for-helping-us-even-though-I-pulled-a-nutter note and make some cookies and take them in for the ER staff.  They were making choices that they thought were right.  And though I don't fully agree with them, I understand their intent, and I thank them for that.  Regardless, I'm still going to drive across town to our familiar hospital next time.  (Please, let there not be a next time.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Milk Money in the Bank

Some of you may know by now that I've long been intending to donate my extra breast milk that has been languishing in my freezer, dating back to last June/July.  I haven't checked, but I started storing it at the end of last June, so there's a fair chance that there's still some of that left.  (Suffice it to say, those earliest ones have reached their expiration date now.) 

The truth of the matter is that when I had Abby, I didn't pump if I didn't have to and didn't work as hard at storing milk as I could have.  Then, I ran out of stored milk when she was around 7 months old, and my body basically stopped producing milk, which meant it was the easiest weaning ever ! and it was emotionally difficult for me to give it up before I was ready.  Prior to having Abby, I was ill prepared for many things, as I dare say any newbie parent is, and one of them in particular was how much I loved breastfeeding.  I've written on it before, and for those of you who have read this far and are squeamishly still reading, this is the last I'll likely write of it again.  (Actually, maybe not...I still haven't figured an exit strategy with Audrey.)  I promised myself that if I ever had another child, and I did--whaddya know?, I would do a better job of doing whatever I needed to do in order to prolong my ability to breast feed for at least the first year as much as my schedule enabled. 

Then, Audrey happened and like the good little amoeba that she is, she had N-O problems figuring out the nursing gig.  She is a snuggler, and she shows no signs of wanting to give up her Mommy-&-Me time.  As my OB said when she came and checked on me once in the hospital, "The bigger babies always seem to do better eating."  Yes.  She was a champ.  Being the second child, we got lazy on the bottle routine with Audrey, and she never fell in love with it, probably because it was sporadic at best, then once a week, then only whenever I had to be gone, which wasn't often.  For Audrey, bottle feeding was simply a learned behavior that was not regularly enforced, so it comes as no surprise to us that she eventually refused to accept it.  She'd play with it, wiggle it around in her mouth, spit at it, and ultimately just push it away.  Even more unfortunately, she refused to accept breast milk in any container, not just a bottle.  Give her any temperature of water in any cup...happy day!  (Now that she's 1 year, she's also upgraded to whole milk in a cup...also yummy in the tummy!)  Juice? Yes, please (especially if it's room temperature).  But the only other beverage that she's ever been offered--that's a big fat "No, thank you.  I'd rather throw the cup on the floor or wrench the cup out of your hand and then throw it on the floor.  Repeatedly."  Here's the other deal about bottle feeding.  Eventually, it turns out that I wasn't going to be returning to a day job, so the need for her to accept a bottle was immediately negated.  That was around the time when she was super iffy on whether she would accept it or not, and subsequently, that's also when we truly gave up trying.  We had other battles to fight, most of them pertaining to a certain older sister.  Pumping, storing, preparing, and cleaning bottles & such was not something about which we wanted to fight the good fight. 

So the bottles were removed from the shelves in the kitchen (frees up valuable shelf real estate!), but the frozen milk continued to pile up in the freezer.  Frozen milk which it quickly became apparent that I was never going to get to use with this child.  Anyone with me on the irony here?  With my first child, I was back at work and truly could have used that valuable cache of milk.  With my second child, I didn't need to have a supply built up and ta daa! there it was. 

I started keeping it in boxes.  Then boxes stacked on boxes.  Then boxes wedged between stacked boxes.  Really, my freezer became a big Tetris game, especially when I needed to rummage for something on the bottom.  Like big people food.  A quick trip out to the freezer to grab some ground beef for chili turned into a 5-minute expedition juggling achingly cold milk cubes. 

Eventually, I became aware of an organization based out of Indy, the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank, which accepts donations of human milk.  Perfect!  Solution!  I'll get my freezer back!  Except that I procrastinated and didn't get anything done on that for a couple of months.  And then it took time for my paperwork to process.  And then I had to give a blood sample and find a lab that would draw my blood and then ship it.  And then, wait some more.  And then, I was approved--months later, first milk approaching 1 year old (expire! expire!), must get going on this donation process. 

But my first donation cooler didn't come.  Three weeks later, I finally checked on it (emails were slow to be answered, I thought 3 weeks was a justifiable period of time to wait...maybe not) and then had another cooler shipped to me in 2 days.  But, I got it on a Thursday, and I couldn't ship until the following Monday per instructions.  Monday morning was a dentist fiasco and the dry ice necessary to ship frozen milk was not be found anywhere, so shipping got pushed back to Tuesday.  Then, no dry ice from my last option.  I'm an hour away from any donation location and I literally had no way to safely ship this milk, which I wasn't about to just flush down the drain.  That is some serious time spent to get the milk so that it could be stored in the first place.  The majority of my stored supply was pumped any time between midnight & 6 am.  MIDNIGHT TO 6 AM!  Every night for a couple of months!!  (My body has totally cooperated this go-round, and milk I have had in abundance.  So much so that my daughter couldn't really take advantage of the nighttime feast that was her's for the choosing.  For my own comfort level as well as saving for the future, I pumped every night after the odd hour feeding.)  If my child can't use it, someone else better be able to, dang it!   

To heighten my frustration and proclivity to worry, the phone lines were down at the milk bank as well, so I couldn't call them to ask what in the world I should do with no way to ship the donation.  And I was determined to start moving it out of my house because time is not my frozen milk's friend.  So I packed it in the cooler, threw in a slew of ice cubes, loaded the car, and trekked it down there myself.  I make it, store it, and transport it, apparently.  And it was, finally, easy.  Walk in, drop off cooler, smile at the friendly faces, pick up another cooler, make face-to-face arrangements for this one, leave.  Go eat a cupcake and enjoy some quiet time alone in the car on a sunny day. 

And just for my own curiosity's sake, I kept track of how much milk I was able to fit in the first donation cooler: somewhere around 60 containers and 298 ounces total.  And that was the most recent milk back to the end of November, a period when I wasn't pumping/storing nearly as much as the first fruitful months.  I've heard that the IMMB sells each ounce of milk for $6, which strictly covers the cost of processing the milk (i.e. no profit), which means that my 1 hour journey netted $1800 in precious, healthy milk for sweet little babies around the state who for a whole host of reasons need that liquid gold (for $6/ounce, an apt term, no?) much, much more than anyone in this house does.  For some babies out there, my mid-night pumping sessions were the least that I can do. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

8th anniversary = pottery

It's anniversary season in this family.  Both of Ben's siblings were married in June as were we.  Sam and Mary saw how awesome we are and wanted to get in on the action, obviously.  Obviously... (ha)

I don't know if others our age do this too, but we like to follow the traditional anniversary gifts for each year.  Sometimes, it's been a nod to tradition (leather, you are a tricky one).  Several times, we've been thoroughly engrossed by the guidelines.  As with any gifts that we choose for each other, we have two mostly steadfast rules:

1.  An experience with the spouse trumps a gift just for the other every time.

2.  Avoid monetary extravagance.  Acts of service for the other and that which is full of thought and intent is always appreciated more.

I feel no guilt for not having purchased anything for the boy for our anniversary.  I would have been surprised if he had bought anything for me.  Instead, I was thinking about pottery.  Why?  Because the eighth anniversary traditionally comes with a gift of pottery or bronze.  As my mom would say, "Sorry, I'm fresh out of bronze..."  Granted, I'm fresh out of pottery as well, but it seems to be more readily accessible.  And it turns out, the boy was thinking pottery as well.  And, he was thinking the exact same kind of pottery experience that I was.  Hello...good choice, my friend.

We left the girls behind and headed out for an afternoon (wahoo!) on the town.  And it was giddy fun.  I kind of feel like I'm in a bit of a stupor or I'm first-day-of-summer-vacation dull with my hyper consciousness on sleep mode whenever we're out together with no kids around.  All of a sudden, I have to make conversation.  Real, logical conversation.  Pat ourselves on the back: the conversation was interesting and easy peasy, and we didn't even talk about the girls for the most part (a surefire safe topic)! 

Half of our afternoon involved eating.  Have you ever experienced a progressive dinner?  We manufactured our own version involving progressive dessert stops.  ($14 just for desserts.  As in...$14.  Which is...four gallons of gas, give or take.  About 200 miles in my car.)

The first half of the afternoon, however, was were tradition met rule #1: an experience with the spouse is always a winner.  We spent a couple of easy going hours painting pottery together.  And the Daddy that he is, the boy chose to paint a cute little piggy bank for the baby bean.  He chose the colors.  He did it all himself (including the polka dots!) and wouldn't let me help him when I finished first. 
Adorable in its imperfections.  Super sweet in its intent.  I love it.

And I chose a platter.  It's actually pretty large though it doesn't look like it in this picture.  I arduously scratched out a quote (my writing paint was acting up on me) on the back as well, though I later realized that I forgot to attribute it before it was glazed and fired.  English teacher fail.  But I can't enumerate enough how much I adore this piece as well.  Again, I love the imperfections.  I'm stoked by the colors.  I will glory in seeing this piled up with sweet goodies in the future, which for me is a big part of my love language. 

Experiences are always the best. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Once a mom, always a teacher

I have OFTEN repeated some variation on "Why would anyone take their kids grocery shopping with them on purpose if they could leave them home instead?"  I certainly don't mind kids being in the grocery store as far as being a mutual shopper.  And I've not once ever been irritated by a screamer.  I sympathize with what that parent is going through; they don't need my nasty looks directed their way as well.  Rather, my thought process has always been driven by the mentality of why would you bring your kids into what could potentially be a problematic situation if you can avoid it?  It has always seemed to me that it was introducing the inevitable--a grocery store meltdown somewhere between the cereal aisle and the display of chocolate milk.

I enjoy grocery shopping well enough, and it's something of a mental break from watching kids as well.  Sometimes I bring music.  Sometimes I dance a little.  Lately, I've been swinging by the local coffee joint to bring a little latte with me.  All good.

But surprise, surprise...I've been bringing the Abb-stigator with me these last few weeks.  Not only that, I've been (gasp) looking forward to bringing her with me.  Now, say what?!?  Can grocery shopping with a 4-year old be...what would I call it..."ENJOYABLE"??  Why, yes.  Yes, it can.

Even more than that, I had a lightbulb moment about a week ago (I know, don't judge...I'm slow on the mom curve, apparently): I MUST BRING MY CHILDREN WITH ME. 

I must bring my children with me to the grocery store regularly and individually.  I must bring them with me because in so doing, I am teaching them life skills. 

I am teaching them how to choose a ripe peach by feel and smell.  I am teaching them how to look for unblemished zucchini and big peppers that have four sections (my preference for ease of cutting and snacking).  I am teaching them how many bananas we need for the week.  I am teaching them that there is a huge variety of colors, textures and smells that are found in our food choices. 

How cool, right?  I know...I know.  I most definitely should have gotten on this gravy train a long time before. 

I remember the first time I took Abby with me to go grocery shopping--a little over a year ago, right after school on a Monday afternoon because I couldn't get there over the weekend, and I was most definitely pregs.  I zipped through that store in a record 45 minutes, distracted the entire time with the thought "Sing a song...make up a rhyme...keep her happy...keep her happy!" going through my head.  I miss things on my list when I do that, and it's exhausting.  Now when we go, we still sing songs.  We still make silly rhymes.  We still play games.  But she's my little partner now, and I have ever so much fun with her. 

She usually gets a treat out of me, but my oh my, she so oozes helpfulness and a good attitude that I would challenge any parent not to want to reward that.  It's not like I don't give myself a little treat once in a while when I can.  She deserves some bagels or chocolate milk sometimes too.

I'm trying to have have a better attitude now about what I habitually feel pessimistic about.  It helps that I haven't gone through a supermarket meltdown (yet).  It will probably happen someday. 

Last Monday, as we were heading toward the checkout, a lady who I guesstimate was around my mom's age, kind of smiled at us and said something about "our parade."  I just smiled and picked a register though I was thinking something like "whaaa???"  I hope that "our parade" was a good thing; I think it was.  If "our parade" helps us both have a good time with a few teachable moments, then I'd say we both got something good out of our trip.   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Dedicated--a double entendre.

For about 6 weeks this time of year, we have 5 birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, an annual family camping trip, and our anniversary to celebrate.  (Yay, cake!  Ugh, too many presents.)  It's a beautifully weathered time of year, the figurative icing on the ongoing celebratory cake.  Good extended family time following a slushy spring dearth of fun get-togethers.  Good food everywhere.  Good thoughts surrounding us like big, snuggly blankets of warm fuzzies.  It's a favorite few weeks around here.

This 6 weeks also encompasses the last month of the school year and the segue into summer vacation.  There's some (great) amount of business that comes along with this.  And, for one of us around here, this 6 week period is a vital season of the year because it includes the culmination of the track season. 


The boy is the assistant high school girls' track coach at his school, coaching distance, hurdles (I think?), and some of the jr. high girls runners.  Track season starts around Valentine's Day, and this year, it is done this weekend.  Four solid months.  During the school year, it's 13 weeks long.  Every day, the boy gets home some time around 6 p.m. rather than 4 p.m., so about an extra 10 hours a week, just for practice.  Of course when there are meets, the hours pile up quickly.  For the sake of my astounding math skills that I'm about to display, I'm going to eschew those hours for right now.  Thirteen weeks at 10 hours a week = 130 hours.  The boy got paid about $800 for this coaching job (I'm not giving away confidential financial information here...totally accessible online should you really care.)  $800/130= $6.15 an hour.  (Lest you give me too much credit with my math-y abilities, I did use a calculator.  Upfront honesty right here.)  For about 3 weeks at the end of April/beginning of May, you add in another 17-20 hours a week.  Suffice it to say, he doesn't coach because of the pay.  I've never broken the numbers down before, so I'm looking at these fresh as well.  It's a token paycheck, and that's perfectly okay.  He'd be coaching without the pay benefit, and I wouldn't be trying to stop him. 

I realized the other day that when we got married, I had no clue, absolutely no idea, that our family would have this type of dynamic that comes from having the boy doing what he does.  I had given zero thought to what it would be like to have the boy coach.  I knew that he wanted to coach, but it was nothing more to me than his hobby, akin to leading a club.  It's ever surprising me how dedicated high school coaches become to their sport (sometimes sports--egads!).  It's a full-scale, 100% commitment for the whole family else bitterness and contempt become too much a part of the dialogue. 

As much as I'm never going to miss track when the boy no longer coaches, I admire the dedication and fire that drive his passion.  It makes him happy.  It fulfills something that I cannot, nor can the girls.  It's also an ongoing lesson for me in how to accept people for what they are.  I'm still working on trying to enjoy it for the sake of the sport itself.  (It's my sincere hope that our girls do not choose something I find to be inane, like karate, as their hobby/passion of choice if track doesn't seem to ever be absent from my future.  Please, Lord, do not give cultivate dancers' hearts in their little bodies.  I'm not sure how much I could stand.  I don't really buy into the notion of learning to like whatever your kids like.  I would never enjoy racing.  Ever.)


I like that I married a boy who isn't overly sentimental in public.  I like that I married a boy who works oh, so hard to be what we need him to be.  I like that I married a boy who never hesitates to give me a break if I need one, ever.  I like that I married a boy who has never taken a passive parenting role.  I like that I married a boy who has never done anything but encourage me to do whatever I feel compelled or called to do.  Understatements all.

Our anniversary caps the 6 week celebration whirlwind, and by this point, we're pretty much partied out.  But we have yet to give up on the day, despite innumerable distractions.  And I like how we end it all with a day just for us, not one that anyone else really cares about.  It's quiet, understated, and a good chance to renew our friendship and really look at each other in a foreign setting, where neither of us can hide behind the haze of normalcy and routine.  Needless to say yet say it I shall, the boy is a keeper.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Conrad, the duck

I very much enjoy asking young'uns what their stuffed animal's name is if they are holding one.  They're often ever so funny.  Sometimes simplistically ironic, sometimes out there.  Stuffed lovies are a glimpse of a child's psyche, wouldn't you say? 

For example, my pseudo-adopted 3rd daughter, Maggie (who gives the best Maggie squeezes!), has a bear named Winston.  Isn't that just a perfect name for a little bit of well loved fluff and fur?

My mom's house has a veritable menagerie of animals all named by my niece, who has spent years enjoying the perks of having her grandma as her babysitter.  She has come up with such childhood gems as "Moo-y" and "Blacky."  Surprise, surprise: Moo-y is a cow and Blacky 

In our house, my only child who has naming capabilities is pretty kid-standard, which is why we have "Kitty" and "purple teddy bear" among others.  Kitty is THE favorite, 90% of the time, so that name is stuck.  The boy and I, however, have occasionally taken it upon ourselves to vary the naming lingo.  Hence, we have Giggly the Gorilla (him) and Polly Panda (me).

Why do we naturally go for alliterative names with children's toys?  It strikes me as somewhat derivative.  But also purposeful?  Perhaps such tendencies aid in reading skills, cause really, lots of kid-centric activities do.  (Case in point, I read how bouncing a baby, 6 months and up, can aid in future reading skills.  If I am remembering it correctly, it had to do not so much with the action but with the parent talking with their child at the same time as the activity was strengthening core muscles.  Which consequently means that it doesn't really matter that you're bouncing your child on an exercise ball as the article heading was trying to emphasize so long as you're talking with your child.  I digress...)

I am a fan of unique, old-fashioned-y types of names, the ones that I reserve for my future pets and stuffed animals.  (My next cat will be Bernard.  Boy or girl, it matters not.  B-E-R-N-A-R-D)  All of this is to say that shortly before Audrey was born, we took Abby to a store and allowed her to choose a gift for her baby sister.  Abby has impeccable taste when it comes to stuffed animals, apparently, because she chose the sweetest, softest, snuggliest little stuffed duck that I have ever seen.  I would let it cuddle me to sleep given the chance.  This poor little duckie remained nameless for a few weeks until after Audrey was born and he was produced and gifted in all of his fowl glory (irony on the pun, intentional).  And he was christened "Conrad."  And it was good.

In fact, it was so good that we (namely, me) chose the closest shades of yellow and white that we could when recently choosing paint colors for Audrey's room.  (We're of the belief that you paint the baby's nursery a year after the baby is born.  Kidding.)  If you could only see my hands right now, you would be most aware that there was some serious painting going on today.  Conrad, the room, has been created.  And IT is pretty good, too.  Not as fluffy cute as Conrad, the original, though...   

Monday, June 10, 2013

One year reminscing

My little sugar baby went and turned ONE today.  I'm one of those people that think "One year ago right this minute, I was..." all day long on days like today. 

When I got up this morning: One year ago right this minute, Ben was just getting to the hospital. 

Late morning: One year ago right this minute, I was laughing at Ben for wrapping himself up in a heavy blanket to stay warm.  Apparently, I was so hot that I kept asking for the room to be made colder, which is n-o-t my normal.

Three o'clock: One year ago right this minute, I was getting anxious because it was my doctor's day off and I was wondering if she would come in anyway or if I would deliver with a doctor whom I had never met. 

Four o'clock: One year ago right this minute, I was starting to push.

Twenty-five minutes later: One year ago right this minute, I was done.  Audrey was here.  In twenty years, will I call my daughter at exactly 4:25 to wish her happy birthday?  Maybe.

Dinner time: One year ago right this minute, I was taking a video of Ben, introducing our new bundle.  Beyond thrilled. 

Bed time for babies: One year ago right this minute, I was taking a shower, settling into the recovery room, and alternately staring at the little bean's mewling, newborn face.  Entranced.

Babies are infectiously marvelous.  I'm ever so thankful for my two blessings.

(She is nothing if not smiley.  Gah!)

 (Ruffle butt...oh good gracious.)

(Abby loves making the silly faces for pictures.  Audrey loves cake, apparently.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My passive-agressive relationship with technology

In the game of technology kickball, I'm the kid who is picked last and is left sitting on the sidelines of the playground.  Technology is the cool kid, and I default back to the role which I played so well all through school--the uncool nerd who can't keep up with others and hides in a (stay with me now) book...the kind that is still made of paper.  Whereas technology doesn't embarrass or tease me as those flesh & blood twerps did back in the day, it just doesn't pay any attention to me whatsoever now.

I'm pretty good at coasting now, but I perpetually feel like I'm holding on by my fingertips.  This became most readily apparent my last couple of years teaching when the focus of education changed dramatically and all of my problems became exacerbated.  Education is a weird little beastie now, and it doesn't matter what subject you teach, if you don't have some mad technology skills, you're in scramble to survive mode e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.

I have an iPad at my disposal, which we didn't buy.  We just bought a texting plan a few months ago strictly because of the ludicrous amount of texts that were sent to the boy willy-nilly from anyone and everyone, which we somewhat resentfully caved on.  And that's about the extent of my technology savvy in regards to what the cool kids are using.  That iPad--just a glorified laptop.  That texting--I still spell everything and use actual grammar.  

No smart phone.  No idea how to use instagram.  No desire to spend more of my day with technology.  It's a cold bed fellow, and I don't want to push out my warm little snuggle bugs in favor of a date with something insensate (here's looking at you, Siri!).

That being said, let me clarify that while I don't want to become more consumed by technology than I already am, I am wholeheartedly envious of those to whom technology speak comes so naturally.  My teaching buddy, Steve, is a perfect example of this.  Not only is he a fantastic educator, truly one of my favorites that I have ever worked with, but he also has this technology intuition that was stunning to be around.  He wrote this savvy bit of an article that left me feeling all I-wish-I-could-think-like-that.  He's perfectly suited for the foreseeable trajectory of education, and I miss teaching with him and learning from him.

I also have a suspicion that technology isn't as all-consuming for Steve as it would be for me if I tried to do what he does with the tools that he has at his disposal.  I have a hunch that those who are in the know just zip around with it in a way that I can't.  I'm a technology turtle, and I'm okay with that.  One of the blessings of my marriage is that I found a boy who gets it and brings me along for the ride free of charge.