Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bad Bus Karma--Revenge of the Fish?

I. Am. Impatient. Not news to anyone who knows me. Traffic is the worst. I got annoyed with it at times when my commute was only 3 minutes long, now the 25 minutes, with stops, just about drives me nuts. Every day someone bonehead does something that makes me want to smack them upside the head. Apparently my pay back is bad bus karma. Two mornings in a row now I’ve been stuck behind a school bus on my way to drop off Boobah. Not just one bus but many buses, with many stops including a bus that has to use a lift to take on a boy in a wheelchair in about a quarter mile. This morning the middle school kids took the cake. The bus stopped at the BUS STOP, novel idea I know. The kids got on the bus after pushing and shoving each other. Then the bus stopped for a kid coming out of a house. I could see the babysitter’s house at this point, I think I was twitching just a little. Out came another kid, sauntering as slowly as humanly possible. Then the third, now she had the decency to run for the bus. Only to discover halfway there that she forgot something. She ran back into the house and I was beginning to wonder if she was ever coming back out. Now don’t get me wrong, I would want the bus driver to wait for my kid if they needed to run back in the house. I am glad there is a bus for the boy in the wheel chair but I swear it is payback for my impatience. See, I have been driving this route at about the same time, ALL YEAR LONG. And in the last two days I’ve waited at bus stops more than all the other days added together. Must be the fish coming back to haunt me.

Speaking of the fish—the body count is now up to three. Yes, I killed them all. I feel awful. I sent Gman out last night to get the last two from their watery grave. He, being always the innovator, used a lacrosse stick to get them out of the pond and fling them over the fence. Of course he did it from the middle of the yard. One made a stop in the middle when it hit the swing set. We are horrible people. The kids don’t know yet. They must sense it though. Both of them asked me for a puppy this morning independently. Should a 3 & 6 year old really be coordinated enough to gang up on me?! We can't keep 3 fish alive in the backyard (actually that would be the fourth that we've lost but the other just disappeared), what makes them think we can handle a puppy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A fish in a tree? Yes, it was me!

In the middle of the night I could hear the trickle of water in the pond outside and thought it was so peaceful. When I went downstairs at 5:15AM on my way out to cycling class I realized that the soft trickle was much louder than it should have been. Crap. I instantly knew I had a problem. Instead of turning the hose completely OFF last night from its light trickle, I turned it ON and was flooding the pond. Sure enough I got outside and the patio was wet, the yard was soggy and we had a floater. Not sure if it was Princess, Dorothy or Elizabeth but may she rest in peace.

Of course, nothing goes particularly well at that hour of the morning. I went out after cycling class with a plastic kids shovel and rescued the dead fish. I wasn’t taking her inside to flush so I had to find an alternative disposal method. Perfect, over the fence and into the wooded area beyond our fence—perhaps breakfast for one of our friends back there. Maybe it would keep George the snake occupied. So I flung the fish and the fish, in a very Dr. Seuss-like move she got stuck in a tree. Her little orange tail sticking out through some leaves waiting to be picked off by a bird---I hope. The last think I need is for the drama queen and her right hand observer to notice the fish in the tree.

Fishy, fishy in the tree.
Why up there, for all to see.

Fishy, fishy in the tree.
Please don't tell the kids on me!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Strawberry Bliss


There is nothing quite like a red, ripe strawberry just picked and still warm from the sun. I grew up across the street from a U-Pick strawberry farm and its going stronger than ever. As a kid we'd go pick some but most of the time Mom would just stop and buy a quart on her way home from work, nearly every evening during those few short weeks that are strawberry season. We couldn't wait to see that sign up the first day that they were ready for picking. Mom would make shortcakes, we'd add strawberries and a little bit of milk. Really, there is nothing like it. For those few weeks that was an acceptable breakfast as well as dessert.
In addition to right out of the carton, sliced, on shortcake and on your cereal we made jam. Once we picked several flats of strawberries. That night we got hit by a really bad storm in the middle of the night and it took down a giant tree in the backyard. While everyone else worked on cutting, stacking and picking up limbs, Grandma and I spent the whole day making strawberry jam. Take off the top, cut the berries and then smash them, watching the bright red juice get all over everything. There was something special in knowing that while it wasn't quite like the fresh ones, there would be strawberry jam in the freezer all winter long. In addition to using on usual jelly things it made an unbelievable topping for ice cream. The berries that didn't get made into jam were cut up, a little sugar added and frozen so that we could enjoy them during the winter. No birthday party was complete without some juicy frozen strawberries to eat with the cake and ice cream.
In the picture is one of the three boxes of strawberries we picked yesterday. Beautiful red berries hung heavy on the plants. Just when you think there aren't any more ripe ones you'd turn back the plants to find the beauties tucked underneath. We carefully covered them up and transported them through 3 states and made it safely home. This morning I was off to buy the makings for my first solo go at strawberry jam. I was a little discouraged not to find Sure-Jell in the first grocery store I tried--back home all the supplies to freeze, can and pickle are right there ready to fly off the shelves when summer comes. I did eventually find it and get home to start the work. A few hours later I had 18 cups of strawberry jam, 20 cups of sliced strawberries and a strawberry pie to show for my efforts as well as two kids who snacked on them all morning long.
Its Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer. Having some of those berries tucked away reassures me that I can have a little bit of summer, and all the memories that go along with it, all year long. I'll be looking for other things from local farms to put away this summer, its one of the things that I remember fondly from growing up in a semi-rural area. I hope that although we live in the suburbs I can teach my kids to appreciate growing it, or at least picking it, yourself.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The advantages of not sleeping

For those keeping score, I did sleep relatively well last night. I had trouble going to sleep but since I turned the lights an hour earlier than usual I got to sleep a few minutes after I'd normally turn out the lights. Boobah was up twice, thankfully Gman took care of her. As sleeping goes for me lately, it was a good night. So all should be well right?

When I'm not sleeping all I can focus on is getting the basics covered. Kids to the right places, feed kids, bathe kids, go to meetings, return important phone calls, write e-mails, and pray that nothing drops. When I acutally have some energy and the fog has lifted to engage the critical thinking skills the world changes. The political games that are work are back in full swing. One VIP told me I was doing a great job and that my name had been mentioned for bigger, better things. I was in a no sleep daze and didn't think much of it. Yesterday I get told that another VIP thinks he needs to bring in a penis to be the leader on a project that I've already done the spec work on and am ready to move forward on. He is a BS'er, he has ideas and gets other people to help him get them done if anything gets done at all. He's a nice guy and does valuable stuff but this is not it. What is it that I lack that he has? Why is it so highly valued and why doesn't the VIP into whom my group reports want to grow it her own people?

Some days its just easier to be in a sleepless haze and concentrate on the big stuff. The small stuff will drive you crazy if you let it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dipping into the herbal pond in search of sleep

As I am sure you read yesterday I hardly slept at all Monday night. It was miserable. Yesterday morning Mr. D my acupuncturist helped me get control of my yang energy and sent me on the way with instructions to apply pressure to a point on my head several times during the day and report back on how I slept last night. When I got to work my friend who has been taking an herbal medicine course forwarded me this newsletter on sleeping well. She also forwarded her recommendations on herbs I could take that might make me sleep better. Really, at this point in time I’ll try damned near anything to get a good nights sleep.

I headed off to the natural foods store in search of the herbs she had suggested—one for sleep and one for the eczema that has had me itching for months. Total strike out at that store but I did score Gman his favorite spring rolls, spicy pumpkin seeds, tamari roasted almonds, lavender essential oil and arnica cream. The fact that I know that those things exist and what they are used for caused me a bit of a smile. Oh how granola crunchy this redneck has become. In the meantime I had Gman at home removing the wireless phone and other electrical cords (like the newsletter said) from around our bed to eliminate the EMF pollution (something I had no idea existed two days ago) that might could possibly having an impact on my sleep. Side note: I get the Mother of the Year nomination for yesterday when I sent Boobah to preschool and afternoon enrichment only to get a call that enrichment ended last week, could I please come get her. Thanks to Gman for retrieving her and hanging with her yesterday afternoon making my bedroom more pure from an electronic point of view.

I did manage to find my herbal extract last night. Ashwagandha is supposed to support my adrenals and control stress—who me? I bought the big bottle since it was the only thing they had and bravely dropped it into my water along with the Burdock root to work on my skin. The results were slight brown tinged water—mmmmmm, yummy. The taste, really weak tea, not sure I could handle less than the 20 oz of water I put my 2 ml of extract into. I did manage to get it down without any gagging. I plowed through 12 meals at Let’s Dish to fill up my freezer and eliminate another source of my stress.

Okay, finally I was done for the day, time to go home and see if the alternative approach would get me the sleep I desperately needed. Acupuncture, herbs, a bath with lavender oil and an EMF-free sleeping zone were my hopes for a peaceful night. I lay down, got reasonably comfortable and didn’t fall asleep right away. Even though I didn’t nod off immediately I was calm, no obsessing about my mental or physical health. Eventually I fell asleep hard. I did wake up a couple of times during the night to go to the bathroom (getting rid of the 90 oz a day I’ve been trying to get down) but I was strangely serene plodding to do my business and go back to bed. It didn’t take much more than putting my head down to get to sleep. My pessimistic side says that I would have slept reasonably well last night no matter what else I’d done from pure exhaustion. But even exhausted I don’t usually feel that kind of calm, I am usually making mental notes of something in the middle of the night. So I call it a win. Not nearly as much sleep as I need but WAY more than I’ve been getting. I will repeat the process tonight, keep everything crossed for me—please. We are heading to visit my family for the weekend which is generally a sleep-free experience for me so it would be nice to go into it well rested.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ah, Spontaneity

We had nothing on the plate at home last night so I called Gman yesterday morning and asked if he wanted to surprise the kids with a trip to see Shrek the Third right after work. We rarely go to the movies. I have a hard time sitting still for that long, as does Boobah. I enjoyed sitting in the dark hanging out with the family, Boobah only asked to go to the bathroom once, and since the theater was nearly empty I let her sit in the row in front of us. She got up and danced around a few times but wasn't bothering anyone so it was fine. All in all a good trip to the movies and a nice weeknight distraction.

We went to Bertucci's for dinner afterwards, usually a good quick dinner option. Not last night. The service was slooooooooooow. I finally left with the girls and Gman stayed behind to deal with the check. Boobah, who generally eats mac & cheese in any carnation wouldn't touch the cold congealed stuff they served her and I don't blame her. The two dinner rolls and half a shaker full of parmesan later she did seem to be pretty happy with life though. I really wanted seafood but since my shrimp scare I've been avoiding it like the plague. We'll be exploring that little issue with the allergist next month, I can hardly wait. Gman finally came home, the kids went to be bed and I continued my search for black capri pants.

I ventured to the mall yesterday at lunch and visited Macy's and JCPenney--no dice. There was one pair that might have passed but of course, none in my size. I might be desperate enough to order them though. Last night I continued the adventure at Kohl's, even worse. They were all wholly unflattering--a bad length that make my legs look stumpy, rolled up, big side pockets to emphasize the saddle bags, where did the "normal" ones go?! Again maybe one passable pair but not in my size. Finally I ventured to Target. Once I got there I couldn't even muster up the energy to try on the meager offerings so I just loaded up on moisturizer for various body parts and headed home. Final score Pants: 17 Me: 0.

I don't know if it was the shopping trauma or what but I sleep pretty much not at all last night. Even worse than my usual. I made cards from 1-2:30 this morning, took a bath until 3 and then finally went to bed and obsessed about whether I could be depressed, bi-polar, or have some horrible disease at the root of my sleeplessness instead of it being the problem making me crazy, and believe me, it is!

Oh yeah, as if I needed a new vice, one found me. Go over to Maven Says and check out my report on the new Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand ready to go cheesecake filling. Oh. My. Goodness. Not something I can be trusted to have in the house ever again.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I need sleep before my head pops off

I. Am. Tired. It seems that no matter what I try I can't sleep well. One night in the last week I slept for 5 straight hours and I was seriously excited about it. That is how bad the sleeplessness has gotten. I tried to "save" myself from falling off a swing last weekend and in the process wrenched my shoulder and neck, during the day they aren't so bad, at night they are making it nearly impossible to find that one comfy spot to sleep and when I do finally find it and sleep in it for any length of time, I wake up with a sore neck. So after a week of not sleeping much and a night of sleeping nearly not at all, Sunday morning I blew my top at Gman over something stupid. I yelled and screamed, ranted and raved, and felt totally out of control. Thankfully he yelled back, we calmed down, we kissed, we made up and got it over with early in the day avoiding the Sunday curse. I felt a little nuts, it was a totally over the top reaction to something stupid. Maybe its more than insomnia, maybe there is something else going on. When I go for my yearly gyn exam I am going to take my sleep log and beg him for some help. He is generally a good listener and has common sense approaches to things. My GP has pretty much ignored me to date (and that really pisses me off) other than giving me some Ambien to help break the cycle. It has given me a night or two of relief but it leaves me feeling stupid in the morning.

Back to acupuncture tomorrow. I am so hoping he can work some of his magic and either keep working on the not sleeping thing or give my neck enough relief that I can sleep a bit better. Although it hasn't cured the insomnia it has generally left me feeling better overall. I have to admit its a guilty pleasure for someone to tend to me for an hour every week and I can leave feeling de-stressed and have something to think about as well.

The much awaited answer to the 9 lies and a truth. Despite the overwhelming votes for my sexual prowess in college, I did graduate a virgin and actually held onto it for several more years. The lie is the PhD, I did 30 hours of the coursework and then I left, moved in with Gman in Maryland and never looked back.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In the buff

Me to 3 y.o. Boobah: Okay, time to go get your jammies on.

Boobha: Nah, I sleep naked now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No good deed goes unpunished

My friend and I at work took on "flower day" to raise money for the March of Dimes. Instead of begging people to sponsor us for the walk, we sold flowers throughout the company and today was delivery day. We sold over 2000 flowers--including the generous benefactor who made sure EVERYONE in our main offices got one. This is a blessing for the March of Dimes and the people who get surprised with a flower. It is a freaking curse for those of us in charge who then have to figure out where the heck all these people are.

We flagged people down as they walked in the door, I am amazed at the number of people who couldn't be bothered to PICK THEM UP as they walked by. A few of them are on my beyotch list anyway and this just cemented their position in the basement as people for whom I wouldn't do something if their life depended on it. Not smart, very, very not smart.

We got a list of people in the company to start with, we updated it with all the people hired since they ran it. The problem, there is the great cube roulette wheel that gets spun what seems like weekly and people move, from building to building and no one gets told so tracking the suckers down is not easy. Finally we gave up and sent an e-mail, we have your flowers, we can't find you, please come pick them up. One response--well I sit right near X but I guess I'll come pick it up anyway. Is that "you freaking moron" inferred or is it just me?

Anyway, its over again for another year. Now to track down the last of the slackers who haven't paid us.

On the funny kid note, PDQ has adopted the air quote as her new thing. Tonight we were eating dinner and she said this is air quote really good air quote. I had to laugh. I asked her where she learned that--TV, of course, should have known.

Monday, May 14, 2007

So, this is "normal"?

Things are back to “normal” in our little corner of the world today. PDQs babysitter is back from sick leave and PDQ was excited to go back to her house today—thank goodness. I was a bit worried that playing with the little girl next door in the morning, spending time with the great Miss Lois and more Mommy/Daddy time was going to make a return to normalcy a bitter pill to swallow. Luckily a preemptive Thursday afternoon playdate worked wonders for reminding her how much she loves to play with her friend A at daycare. Huge sigh of relief, with crossed fingers, five more weeks until the end of the school year and we all know what could go wrong more often than not does go wrong to screw up the carefully crafted schedule.

The weekend was a relatively drama-free one from the girls, I was the instigator. Saturday morning soccer which PDQ still professes to be the best thing ever went well. She scored a goal during the scrimmage with the other team and that made her day. Then it was home where I was a serious crab. Not nearly enough sleep Friday night and a few extra hormones circulating makes for bad news. Boobah asked what seemed like a hundred times to play on the computer and I kept telling her to wait until I was done with what I was doing. After the 101st time Gman apparently told her to leave Mommy alone so she could finish what she was doing. So she followed me downstairs and says “Daddy says not to talk to you.” I told her she could talk to me but NOT to ask about the computer again until I was done. Two minutes later, Mommy? Yes Boobah? I’m going to ask you something different this time. And she did, I don’t remember what but the asking was cute and it wasn’t about the damn computer.

Finally PDQ and I rolled out to a birthday party at the bowling alley. I didn’t take a shower, threw on my gym clothes and figured I’d kill two birds with one stone since the bowling alley is across the street from the gym. Yeah, not quite. There were THIRTY kids at the bowling party. Not somewhere I felt comfortable dropping off PDQ and abandoning her. I stayed and chit-chatted with the other Kindergarten Moms while the girls bowled. I swear the one Mom has told me the same story every time I have interacted with her and I grinned and bore it yet again. I was so happy to get sprung after a mere two hours of torture. The parting gift? A bowling pin water bottle that I swear is the size of an actual pin. Where exactly do I store that?! Gman had the privilege of freeing all the candy from said pin later. The bright spot was a call from the birthday boy’s Mom later on raving about our present being the best one ever. Thank goodness, it was some foam rocket thing and I wavered about whether it would be a welcome addition but I decided to roll the dice. Score.

Yesterday we had friends for brunch that I threw together the night before. Es came bearing meat in her always overachieving way we had not just bacon but regular bacon, turkey bacon, low fat sausage, regular links, and kielbasa. No one in her circle has ever starved, just one of the things we love about her. Other than the children’s whining that they weren’t going to eat anything I cooked and my little explosion that they could starve, things were relaxing. We had a little champagne, a little of Paula Deen’s French Toast Casserole with Praline topping (which I dare say would be better with less butter) and all was right with the world. And then my dear, sweet husband played with the children outside and I took a nap. I can’t tell you the last time I snuggled deep under the covers on Sunday afternoon and actually slept, it was heaven. I woke up and could hear the girls giggling outside, apparently Gman was a criminal and they were the police who were going to track him down. Thankfully I missed his escape through the landscaping on the side of the house and only got to hear it in the re-telling. Thanks hon for a fabulous day of being you.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

9 Truths and 1 Lie

I was tagged by Greeblemonkey to a game of 10 Things About Me meme running around the Net right now with a slight twist--only nine of them are true, you figure out which one is not.

1. I've lived in Maryland for 9 years and have never been to down the ocean (Ocean City).

2. Gman and I met on the internet playing backgammon on a bulletin board.

3. I can tie a knot in the stem of a cherry with my tongue.

4. I graduated from college a virgin.

5. I have a PhD in Higher Education administration and now work in program management.

6. I grew up and went to college in Marietta, OH.

7. I was in a sorority in college and managed to get through the whole experience without actually living in
the house. I got to go to the national convention in New Orleans the year I was president.

8. I worked for years at the Kent State University and was there for the 25th anniversary of the shootings--4 Dead in Ohio.

9. Gman and I were caught driving in a tornado on our trip to move me to Maryland and weren't sure that we were going to be able to get the moving truck out of my hometown due to low hanging trees.

10. My big dream for our house is to totally re-do the master bathroom into my private spa retreat.

Okay, which one is the lie?

So tag, you are it Gman, Soontobejustme, Yer Doing It Wrong, Mrs. Wheezer and Joansy Rambles.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What makes ME a Mom? My Mom-ness

Ever since Parent Bloggers Network announced their blog blast for Mother's Day I have been pondering what it is that makes me a Mom. At work, playing with the kids, cooking dinner, in traffic, laying in bed I've been thinking about my Mom-ness.

The first thought that comes to mind is the day my first daughter was born. I'd felt awful for weeks and attributed it to heartburn (and later found out it was HELLP syndrome). I'd suffered through daily finger sticks because of gestational diabetes. I got a call from one of the doctor's in my OB practice who said in a semi-concerned voice, we'd like you to come to the hospital to repeat some blood work, it would be good to pack your things, you might be staying. I mean, I knew it was coming, I desperately wanted to not be pregnant and not feel like hell but I was scared. Sure enough they kept me, they gave me an epidural that didn't work, they broke my water when I was 1 cm to try and get things moving, they started the mag sulfate that made me feel even worse, my husband slept while I suffered, the nice nurse left, then dawn broke, the epidural was fixed and the new OB on duty said you are having this baby NOW and 17 minutes later she joined this world. Tiny and perfect. Hearing that cry welcomed me to Mom-ness. Suffering through that first night alone in L&D still being pumped full of drugs to keep my blood pressure under control knowing that no matter how bad I felt *I* was responsible for this little life was a real eye opening experience and believe me, it was ALL I could do to keep my eyes opens. I remember being terrified to say anything to anyone because they might take her away but I couldn't believe they kept leaving her with me to nurse. I could barely hold up my own head. But I did it, there was a determination there that I'd never, ever felt before. What an introduction to the sleepless nights, worrying if the baby was breathing, worrying whether the baby was eating, worrying if the baby was pooping, worrying about the vaccinations, worrying if I was doing anything right, worrying that my parents were going to leave (and to think I'd worried that they were coming to stay for a week) and lots of worrying about going back to work. That determination, responsibility and worry all have a name-unconditional love.

We lived through infant hood--twice (well Gman gets a big gold star for living through it FOUR times)! The story I often relay about when I *really* knew I was a Mom is story of the movie, the vomit and the poncho. Boobah was a little less than two years old and I was blessedly inexperienced of taking care of sick kids. Gman once went seven years without missing a day of work because he was sick, thankfully the girls inherited his immune system--we've been asked more than once at the pediatrician's office--she goes to daycare?--when they see the very, very thin chart. She had been throwing up on and off during the week but had been 36 hours vomit free when we decided it was safe to take her to the movies with friends--her first. We get to the movies with our friends and their three young girls stair stepped between ours. We sat in the front row of the back section. Lots of room for the kids to roam if needed and room to park the stroller. I thought the fact that Boobah curling up on my lap was a good sign, maybe she'd fall asleep in my lap and I could enjoy the movie--Robots--if I remember correctly. About 3 minutes later, all hell or rather lunch, broke loose. Boobah sat up and spewed toxic waste. My pre-Mom instinct to get the hell out of the way had vanished. I did the Mom-ly thing and caught the vile red tinged chunks (because my children only puke pizza, spaghetti sauce or other tomato based products) in her little purple poncho. Those are Mom instincts pure and simple, you can't be taught that it just suddenly comes out of you born from unconditional love!

So I guess what makes me a Mom is the overwhelming sense of responsibility for everything about this little person who can't do anything for themselves. The responsibility to teach them, the keep them safe, to nourish their body and soul. And for me that comes with worry--is this babysitter good enough, will that preschool be okay, what is me going to work doing to the, do they watch too much TV, where the heck did they learn to pole dance and what will people think of THAT? As they grow the shades of responsibility change but its still about food, safety and making their way in the world. The worry changes a bit too, its not so much about what I am doing its more about what are they going to do. The other part of motherhood that has blown me away is unconsciousness of putting someone else first. Would I catch vomit by choice--no. For my kid, there was no thought, I just did it. There are lots of things that I way over think but when I just let the instincts take over I am a better Mom for all of us. I like to think of it as just letting the love do its job.

My final thought on what makes me a Mom, all the stuff I learned from the Moms who came before me and the Moms who are sharing Mom-ness with me now. I come from a long line of old ladies. I lost three great-grandmothers since 2000 they were 96, 98 and 101 and I have good memories of each of them. They endured a lot and overcame it to share their experience with three generations. My grandmothers both turned 80 in the last 4 months and are phenomenal women. They are as different as day and night and from that I've learned lots of lessons about who I want to be as a Mom and a Grandma and maybe more importantly who I don't. My mother is a force unto the universe. A working Mom role model when most Moms didn't work. I am surrounded by wonderful Moms of my generation who teach me new stuff, make me think and in the process make me a better Mom. We are teaching each other to be a Mom in a time and a place that is so different from the one we grew up in. I feel privileged to share with them in real life and in world wide web.

Tag, you are it. Join in the blog blast sponsored by Light Iris and Parent Bloggers Network and grab your chance to win a $100 Spa Finder gift certificate. Just post about what makes YOU a Mom. Send a link to your post to parentbloggers@gmail.com for your chance to win.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I'm Melting......

Yeah, not in the weight loss sense unfortunately. I had a high fever on Friday night, my cheeks were seriously flaming and I felt really horrible. Finally the fever broke and I ended up in a big sweaty puddle--yeah, don't you wish you shared the bed with me? I haven't had a fever since but my temperature control mechanism still isn't right. I've been too hot, I've been too cold but I haven't found just right yet. I actually stayed home from work both Friday and yesterday to try and make sure that I was in decent form this morning to face the executive staff of my company and review a project proposal with them.

So I got up this morning and went for acupuncture, might as well go in as well centered as I could be. It was the same way I started the day that I got sick and ran the meeting that precipitated this one. I have little doubt the stress of that hellish event contributed to being stricken by the plague. By the time I got to the presentation it was hot in their suite, they kept us waiting for 20 minutes and I was feeling a bit queasy. Finally I ran to the bathroom--wouldn't you know that while I was gone they summoned our little group--6 men and little old me. The others, all guys, all senior managers went in and took a seat. Thankfully my colleague grabbed chairs out of another room for the two of us while I handed out the presentation (only half of them in color because apparently they've now limited the number of copies you can send to the color printer unbeknownst to me until 2 minutes before the meeting). Finally I got a chance to sit down and two of the female execs pulled a chair up close to the big people table for me right between them. One of them was so close and kept looking at me intently every time I spoke--I wanted to tell her that her knew glasses were great, it was a bit disconcerting having such a great view of them for SO long!

They were ready to start, the exec in charge the project gave a long introduction while I sat there, he ended rather abruptly and I felt myself fall into the abyss--they expected me to start talking and what do you say to follow that introduction? I could feel my face flush, I could feel sweat forming on my forehead and under my arms, I took a deep breath and jumped in. There were a couple of times I looked at the slides that had occupied my weekend in bed and I swear there were words I'd never seen before! The hour went pretty quickly, thank goodness. The peanut gallery that came to meeting to field questions might have said a dozen sentences between them--from the good chairs. I feel like I escaped unscathed, I can't wait to hear the action items I got assigned after we were dismissed. I really did think for just a moment there wasn't going to be anything left of me but a puddle in that chair.

Blog Blast
Parent Bloggers Network is sponsoring its first blog blast in honor of Mother's Day and inspired by LightIris founder and dad Kevin who has been wearing a Preggo Suit all month long. Can he really actually be empathic to what moms go through? And is being a mom just about the actual having of the kids? or the raising of the kids? What is it that makes YOU a mom? Post anytime on Friday May 11 and e-mail a link to parentbloggers@gmail.com for the chance to be included and maybe even win $100 SPA FINDER gift card in a random drawing!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Maven Says: Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box

Whenever I have an issue, my first thought is to go read all about it--the bookstore, library or the Internet. With one exception, my dirty little secret I typically avoid parenting books. Pretty early on in the parenting gig I figured out that a lot of the books I read made me feel bad about what ever I was doing even when my gut was telling me that it was right. Battling through PDQ the sleepless and trying all those other ideas, I finally decided that the combination of my gut and Gman's many years of experience we'd be okay. That theory has worked pretty well but in my avoidance of reading of the parenting genre I have totally missed Mommy reading. If there were nothing else of value in Ann Dunnewold's book Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box: Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Still Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting) the reading list I accumulated as I read would be so worth it. The reading list is just the tip of the iceberg though, the real life, common sense tone of this book alternately made me see the silliness of some of my SuperMommy thinking and made me feel better about the majority of my parenting choices, a very fine line when you think about it. Kind of like telling me to go to hades and me wanting to go there!

Right after I agreed to review the book I had the taking time for yourself discussion with a couple of friends and wrote about it here. When the book arrived I immediately carried it up to my room to begin reading. I saw myself in the first pages of the first chapter doing things like staying up all night making the perfect cookies for a preschool party to assuage my Mommy Guilt for working. There have been many occasions where I have not been able to be present at an event and to make myself feel better I have WAY overdone it on the cookies/goodie bag or whatever other thing I've taken on. I always knew it my gut that it was silly but reading it in print made me cringe just a bit and maintain the ability to laugh at myself. The concept of the "perfectly good mom" was introduced and I was hooked. Perfection is impossible, being "clearly good" or "as good as is necessary" are doable and who doesn't want to feel successful as a parent? Life overcame my reading time and I wasn't able to pick the book up for over a week but in that time I must have had half a dozen discussions with other women (and a guy or two) about the concept of not trying to be perfect but perfectly good. It provoked many insightful conversations, particularly with the older, wiser, been-there-done-that women that I am lucky to have in my life. As I finished the book I found that I had worked ahead, the last chapter was about building a strong support network and spreading the word and actively speaking out and standing up for yourself in the insane competition for Mommy of the Century.

Dunnewold explores the messages we are inundated with that encourage us to be perfect. She lays out the traps of overperfecting, over protecting, and overproducing. As I read about these I could certainly see a little of myself and nearly every other Mom I know. Some of us more than others and each with our unique quirky take on the madness. The mantras like, "there are no perfect mothers" and "parenting is not a contest" seem like common sense but for me, and I am sure many others they are easy to forget everyday in the trenches. I appreciated that Dunnewold left room for each of our own idiosyncrasies, we can each have one or two things that we obsess over and if we can just chill out about everything else, that is fine. Its that tone that makes this book a real winner for me, no judgement just showing the reader that what they think is right probably is and its good to follow your mind and heart. In that vein she encourages you to look at your values, know them and follow them.

I would recommend Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box to anyone who feels the pressure of the Mommy Olympics. There is no us vs. them in this book, I could see the SAHM struggles more clearly and I felt that it represented the issues of the working mom as well. Instead of pitting us against each other Dunnewold calls for us to work together for our health and to raise healthy kids in today's world. I'll offer up just a bit of my own insanity in my posts about staying up until midnight to get into Summer Camp or spending months picking out the "right" preschool and the huge allergic reaction that I wasn't there for. This book reaffirmed for me that I need to chill out, know what I believe in and follow my gut. If you want to hear other takes on the book, head on over to Parent Bloggers Network for 24 more reviews of the book.


What a couple of days of the plague will teach you

I spent most of my time since Thursday evening in my bed. Friday I tried to go to work for an hour to finish something and got sent home. My acupuncturist stopped by on his way home and worked some of his magic that (in combination with some ibuprofen) made me decide I might live. Being sick occasionally is good for us I've decided. It reminded me that the world can move on without me--Gman took great care of the kids, kept the house as clean as it ever is, and came to check on me asking if he could rub my...insert body part here... My beautiful girls came to check on me and ask me if I was feeling better with great care and concern in their little voices. Stuff got done at work, I had to use what was functioning of my brain to dump the stuff that no one else knew but they managed to get it taken care of way faster and I'm sure better than I could have in the state I was in.

Its not that I think I am indispensable, I just act like it a lot of the time. I want (need?) things done and while I am at it I want it done my way! I have a bad habit of not listening to my body and giving it the rest or activity it needs--but I've been working on that. Somewhere along the line (I am guessing from my very own supermom) I picked up the idea that doing it all was what I was supposed to do. I've learned the hard way I can't and a few days of feeling horrible is a good reminder that Gman and the kids can take care of themselves even if they don't like it very much. It was also a good reminder that Gman is my soul mate and that I probably don't show him nearly enough appreciation for just being him. Stay tuned for my review of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box: Cut Yourself Some Slack (and Still Raise Great Kids) in the Age of Extreme Parenting. It has been a real think piece for me on the theme of what is expected of us as mothers so I'll post it here and not just on Maven Says.

Friday, May 4, 2007

My head hurts & MILF update

My head is killing me, I fell into bed when I came home last night. I'd felt kind of nauseous all afternoon and was wondering if Liz sent me the plague she'd been dealing with through IM. Of course there is something due at work today, I tried to do it here last night and the server kept crashing on me. I finally went into the office this morning to do it, when my boss found me she made me leave. So now I'm back home looking for trash TV to watch--quietly.

The good news, I am down a little over 2 pounds this week--I am sure that has nothing to do with my diet of crackers and Diet Sierra Mist. Hopefully this new diet will break the hold Sugar Mama has had on me. Here's hoping that today is the last day of this crap.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Despite my absent mindedness, she passed!


Gman sent me an e-mail this morning confirming our evening plans--he would pick up the girls and take them to the ice rink for PDQs ice skating lesson. Great plan, if Mom had remembered to bring along her skating bag. Instead I dispatched him to the house to pick up the bag and I volunteered to pick up the girls at the babysitter and bring them to the rink to make up for miscue this morning. I was packed up and ready to go at 4:27 this afternoon. The phone rang, one point led into another and finally I told him I had to go for ice skating and I was off. 4:37, 5:00 lessons, pick up two kids who are never ready, crap. Call Gman, where are you honey? The rink. Okay, I'll be there ASAP just wait for me out front and we'll do the exchange. PDQ was totally inappropriately dressed for ice skating in a summer dress and no socks. There were dirty socks in the daycare bag but Gman gets BIG bonus points for throwing tights in the ice skating bag. I let out PDQ at the curb and Gman sat through her lesson. Boobah and I headed home to cook dinner.

PDQ came flying through the front door, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy look! The coveted Basic 4 badge gripped in her hand like $100 bill. Her cheeks were glowing and she threw her arms around me. How could you not be thrilled for her? I wish I could summons that much excitement for anything! I was happy for her, proud of her accomplishment and so glad to have finally gotten through this level--I think it was the fifth time! The instructor had told me before that the younger kids usually take several tries to pass this level because of the difficulty of the moves and the need to do them really well before progressing. Sometimes I wonder at all the things PDQ has to learn to do with her body in quick succession and how little she still is. The difference between the older girls and the 5-6 year olds is apparent the first time they try to get their legs to cross over or spin around. Stubby legs have a much harder time complying. Here's to you my darling girl for your positive attitude, your genuine joy, and your constant smile.

I asked her if she still wanted to take a break until skating camp this summer and she gave me the thumbs up. I had a moment of selfishness hoping that her success wasn't going to push her into the next session of lessons. She'll continue the next 5 weeks of soccer and then we are "off" activities until swim lesson time this summer. We can certainly all use the break!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

It takes a village and it stresses me out

I have to say I am feeling like a bitch because I am mad at someone who is taking a long time to bounce back from surgery. PDQs babysitter had surgery back in March and thought she’d take off three weeks. One of those weeks was spring break so although stressful, trying to cover 3 weeks was something we could work with. Now that 3 weeks has turned in to 6. I am feeling wholly unproductive at work and my stomach and my head ache trying to figure out what to do for next week and wondering if 6 weeks is going to turn into 8 or 10. Thankfully Gman has fielded the calls that have come in to let us know she wasn’t ready to go back to work yet. I am angry that she wasn’t more upfront about the potential recovery time. I’ve since talked to several people who had the surgery/know someone who did and said it took them MONTHS to bounce back! I feel bad being mad at someone who is recovering but I really don’t think she has any concept of the complication she’s added to our lives or those of any of the other parents. I’ve used a home daycare for six years and never had issues, this year has been one issue after another, thankfully the person who put up with me for the first five of those six years is still taking care of Boobah and is willing to step in and help out. And I have been paying her handsomely for it, not because she asked but because I feel like she deserves it. I know I am lucky that my employer has an emergency care provider benefit for up to 10 days a year, it has been a great help while paying double daycare costs, unfortunately I’ve exhausted it for the year and who knows when things will return to normal. I dread telling her that we won’t be back in the fall; I’d made that decision before this happened but now it is clear, crystal clear that we need another arrangement.

I also feel bad that I’ve taken advantage of friends and neighbors. Thankfully I have wonderful friends who have been willing to pitch in and help out. I don’t want to be the person known for taking advantage of them though. The last thing I want is this whole ordeal to strain a friendship. They’ve all said it is no problem at all, I hope they are telling me the truth. I was also able to arrange things at work so I didn’t have to depend on them too much. On Thursday, that all blows up in my face. I have a HUGE meeting that needs to be run well and the output generated into a presentation for the board of directors. The people in the meeting are contentious and under the best of circumstances it would be difficult. The meeting runs the entire morning, when I should be dropping off and picking up the kids. Gman traded mornings with me so he can do the drop off part. I am yet to find someone to do the double pick-up duty since the girls are in different places and need to be picked up around the same time. Next week I have to review the outcome of that meeting and another with the executive staff, they haven’t given us a time yet, how much you want to bet its during drop-off or pick-up?

Never have I been so glad the school year is almost over! Camp won’t close down, it will cause minor schedule upheaval but compared to these 6 weeks its nothing. Next year both girls will be somewhere all day. No running between schools in the middle of the day or fancy footwork. It will be such a relief. I am so tired of trying to keep all of the balls in the air and I know I am really lucky since Gman pitches in to help where he can.