Monday, April 29, 2013

I love my pregnancy girdle

It might be all the french fries and cookies I've been eating lately or it might be metabolic changes caused by the pregnancy, but for some reason, it would appear that I am carrying the baby in either my upper arms or my ass.  I can assure you, after the eight-ish ultrasounds that I've had this time around, that the baby is front and center, right where she should be.  Which does not explain what is going on with my upper arms when I am grating cheese (for example).

So today I thought I would try to get a workout in.  After spending an undue amount of time cramming myself into my improvised maternity lap-suit--a delightful combination of bikini bottoms, a speedo top, and a men's rashguard top--I managed three laps before my hip and pelvis pain forced me out of the water.

OK then.

While I washed my hair in the gym shower, a process that took longer than my entire workout, I wondered with dismay how in the world I was going to get through the next fourteen weeks hobbling around like a geriatric penguin.  And then I remembered that my doctor had said a maternity support belt might help.  And that they sell such belts at a little store across the street from one of my favorite places to have lunch.  Suddenly the laundry I had planned to do during the rest of preschool time did not seem as urgent.

So I drove downtown to the little store and let a lady take me into the dressing room and show me the way around a maternity support belt.  It was super awkward but I was grateful for the help.  There were many pieces, each one sexier than the last, what with all the medical-grade nude-colored velcro and elastic.

But once everything was in place, she pulled my shirt discreetly down around the device and suggested I take a walk around the store to see how I liked it.

And I practically re-enacted Gene Kelly's dance routine from Singing in the Rain.  Had there been a lamppost it really might have happened.

It felt GREAT.  Instead of feeling a painful stabby BOOM BOOM BOOM impact on my pelvis with every step I felt a much more manageable lingering dull pain.  It didn't feel like everything was trying to shake itself loose as I walked!  This was great news.  We tried a few more models to figure out which was best and then I plunked down my credit card.  I had to waddle back to my car, but I put the belt back on once I got there.  Out in the parking lot.  Klassy.  Also worth it.

After that I had a club sandwich and some iced tea out in the sunshine all by myself while exchanging amusing texts with a friend.

Me: "OMG you should see this contraption I had to buy.  It's a GIRDLE.  Feels so good I could cry.  I freaking love my girdle."

Friend:  "I am at H&M.  I do not belong here.  30 minutes for one $6 tank top and the absolute destruction of my self-image."

Me: "Holy geez, STEP AWAY FROM THE HIPSTERS."

Friend:  "Who wears this stuff anyway?  So is it like a support belt?"

Me:  "Hairdressers, mostly.  And yes.  I need additional support.  Like an aging concrete bridge."

Friend:  "You're way funnier than an aging concrete bridge."

etc...

Then after my lunch, I had extra time!  And I could WALK COMFORTABLY.  So I went to the GAP in the same shopping center.  Where I found a cute, summer weight infinity scarf for 50% off!  I also scored a copy of Gone Girl at a used book store for more than sixty percent off the list price.  WALKING IS AMAZING!!!!

So then I stood up for an hour on the playground, rested during the kids' two afternoon shows, and then got all wild and crazy and made stuffed shells for dinner, which I think was overdoing it because now I'm in my bed at eight PM letting Ryan bring me cookies and glasses of water while he straightens the downstairs and washes clothes.  I am soaking it up now because he will be out of town later this week and I'll have to put the kids to bed alone AND get my own cookies.  Thankfully I have mah girdle to get me through.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A different kind of perfect weekend

Due to an unusual confluence of events, this weekend was a little on the overscheduled side.  To most people, it would probably have been fine, by Ryan's and my natural inclination is to ignore the kids until about eight while we sleep late, have a leisurely breakfast at home, turn on the TV for the kids while we linger over our coffee in the kitchen for another thirty minutes or so, then putter around in the back yard until Sonic happy hour, MAYBE swing by Goodwill on the way home to look for deals, then grill something for dinner.  Perfect Saturday.

In contrast, this Saturday began with a teeball double header from 9-11, followed by a friend's birthday party at 2, followed by Ryan's company picnic at a minor league baseball game at 6.  All good things and all things we didn't want to miss.

(I managed to sneak in a Goodwill/Sonic trip BY MYSELF while Ryan stayed home with the big boys and a napping James after teeball and it was GLORIOUS!  I scored an Ann Taylor Loft tiered navy maternity skirt for SEVEN DOLLARS.  Have it on right now.  Feels like jammies.  Total win.  Also got some mom-pris which are pretty great too in a throw-em on with a t-shirt kind of way.)

We dressed the kids like pirates as per the invitation (SO FUN) and sped over there.  As soon as we arrived Charlie and Wes jumped out of the van, ran the entire circumference of their culdesac, and disappeared into their back yard.  I caught up with them thirty minutes later in the bounce house.  We had such a good time that I knew we would long overstay our welcome like we always do and that we would be leaving with at least one screaming child (this happens every time.  We are delightful guests).  Sure enough an hour after the invitation said the party was over and only twenty minutes before the company picnic was set to begin we reluctantly tore ourselves away from our friends. And I do mean "reluctant" and "tear."

Harper's Party
Moments after I asked them to "Go find your shoes and say thank you to the hostess, please!"

We stopped briefly at home to get something for the kids to change into that wasn't a pirate costume and that wasn't covered in cake, mud, and juice and then we were on our way to the ballpark. I had about ten minutes of total satisfaction watching the kids get so excited to be at the game, the nice breeze, the warm sun, the happy crowd, the nice hamburger dinner they gave us.

And then we went to our seats to "watch the game" where the freaking bottom fell out and James and Wes had an hour-long deathmatch for the seat next to me while Charlie peppered Ryan with non-stop questions about how the game works (sidenote: all those questions were the highlight of Ryan's YEAR). We made a break for it about halfway through the fourth inning.

(Another sidenote: We ran into some friends from church as we were dragging (literally in at least one case) three unwilling children up the steps and out of the stadium.  Today when we saw them at church the wife said "I didn't realize you were having another baby, what great news!  You guys are such laid-back parents, I know it'll be great!" which I thought was generous given that the last time they'd seen us I was dangling a four year old by one arm saying "WALK.  PUT YOUR FEET DOWN AND WALK RIGHT NOW OR THERE WILL BE NO STORIES TONIGHT.")

And then today, we had church (another situation from which Wes had to be bodily removed for egregious behavior issues), then I had lunch with a friend, a really wonderful scientist friend that I've known since high school.  After we discussed my summer research I told her "That conversation was so wonderfully refreshing I feel as though I've taken a nap!".  She came over after lunch and showed the kids the engine of her hybrid-electric car and showed them how to check the oil.  You can see why she's one of my favorite people!

Once she left we had about ten minutes to get ready for Charlie's choir spring show at 4.  As is our custom, we were ten minutes late dropping him off to warm up and all just a little annoyed at each other, but we had a great time and the kids did a really good job.  Charlie is so proud of his choir and I love when we can go watch as a family.

So that was fun, but bedtime was a MAJOR hassle and the week is about to start again and I never thought I'd say this but I am kind of looking forward to the end of school and it's attendant 6:00 alarm clock.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Speech Ewaluation

Several weeks ago I called ECI to set James up with a speech evaluation because his pediatrician, our friend who is a preschool special ed teacher, Ryan, and I all agreed he was a little bit (a LOT) behind in expressive language.  Of course I was doing a million things at once, because that's what I do, and when they answered the phone at the ominously named "County Services" I said "Yes, hello, I'd like to arrange a speech ewaluation for my son."  It was an auspicious start.

They set the date for today at 9 am and sent out some paperwork and then we waited.  And during the intervening weeks Ryan and I were hyper aware of how James was talking.  Separately we started really focusing on his speech and requiring him to try to use words where before we would just, say, get him a cup of milk on autopilot when we got some for the other kids.  I started narrating our daily routine like first time parents do with their six month old babies before they realize how much more fun it is to turn up Lady Gaga and tune out the chaos in the way back.

"James, it's time to BUCKLE!  BUCKLE BUCKLE BUCKLE your seat!  Can you say BUCKLE?"

"Here we are at the store!  Let's buy BANANAS!  BA-NA-NA!  BA-NA-NA!  BA-NA-NA!"

"Look!  It's a FIRETRUCK!  FIRE-TRRRRRUCK!  TRRRRRRRUCK!"

And, you're not going to believe this.  But he started talking a LOT more.  His vocabulary has tripled in the last few weeks.  His pronunciation has improved dramatically.  The screaming and frustration has gone WAY down.

After about two weeks of this Ryan and I looked at each other and posed a difficult question.

"Do you think he's speech delayed because we never actually talk to him?!"

 I mean, Charlie, who enjoyed undivided attention from the two of us, could point out then-candidate Obama on a magazine cover when he was barely two.  He called him "Omama-Biden".

So this morning when I got James out of bed I said "Hi, James!  Today we go to SPEECH!" and he said "PEECH!" I wasn't hoping there was actually something wrong with him, but I worried that I might be taking a perfectly normal child to a speech evaluation.  Like when you take a kid to the pediatrician because you're bored and it's raining outside.

Fortunately while we were in the waiting room he spent a good five minutes telling one of the nurses that the dog puzzle piece was a "Moo moo."  And driving a toy firetruck around on a table proudly shrieking "ZZZZZRRRRRRRUCK!"

The OT led James through a series of games and activities and he had a great time.  He's never had so much attention in his LIFE.  The speech therapist listened to their interactions and also asked me lots of questions.  Questions that have no good answers.  Like "Does he play independently?"  I said yes.  The follow-up question was "Does he require supervision?" was trickier.  I mean, the answer is "No, he does not *require* supervision" but I am not going to go on the record here in the County Services building that I *don't* supervise my two year old (even though, haha, who can watch THREE children at once amiright?).

Also, "Does he exhibit negative behaviors when you ask him to do things?"  Um, yes?  A normal amount?  Like, he tries to claw at my face while I'm buckling him in sometimes but not at, like, a *clinical* level.  I'd say like, 60-40, depending on how recently he's eaten and slept.

I nearly snort-laughed when she asked "Does he use appropriate tone of voice and volume in different settings, like the grocery store and church?"  Um.  Well.  The older kids don't do that 100% of the time.  Give me a glass of of wine at girls' night and I can pretty much be counted on to overshare in the loudest voice possible.  Not really sure what you're asking for here.  So I answered vaguely "I think he's fairly normal in this area."

After all the one-on-one table work the therapist took James out in the hallway to try running, jumping, and kicking a ball.  Judging by the raucous laughter coming through the open door, I would say that he enjoyed that part of the exam, but when it was time to be back in the room he climbed into my lap and signed "all done" anytime someone tried to talk to him.  Test over.  I have had it.

He curled up with his blanket, buried his face in my chest, and sucked his thumb.  But I was so proud of him.  He had been so charming and cooperative.  He stayed on task the whole time and did what he was asked (except when he couldn't find the baby doll the OT had "hidden" on the floor behind his chair, but darn it if he didn't try as hard as he could).

He scored at or above age-level in all areas except for expressive language, which is what I was expecting.  He is 17% behind (and does not qualify for services), but I think if we'd done the test a month ago he would have been much further behind.  If he keeps going at the rate he's been going this month I think he'll catch up before long on his own.  The speech therapist suggested we get him examined by an ENT to rule out adenoid problems since he mouth-breathed and drooled through the entire hour ("Oh, I didn't realize that was an issue," I wanted to say, "His father and I are both engineers.).

So, no speech therapy for James, at least not right now, but I'm so glad we went because I'm always glad to be assured that I'm not seeing things that aren't there.  I'll continue to enjoy his gleeful "ZZZZZZZRRRUCKS!" because it looks like he will be saying "truck" before too long.  Or, you know, almost saying the "F" word like the other kids did at his age.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The children may have learned some colorful language today. From me.

We had a nice weekend.  We drove to Ryan's hometown to see his parents and celebrate his dad's retirement.  We had such a good time, relaxing with the family, playing outside, going to our nephew's soccer game, eating great meals together.  I just wanted to get that out there, about what a nice time we had, before I go on a crazy pregnant lady rant about the drive home.  OH MY HELL.

We left at two thirty.  Under normal conditions, pre-kids, it would take us about three hours to get home.  With kids maybe three and a half.  So I'm thinking we'll get home around, say six-ish?  Plenty of time to slap together some PB&Js and hit the hay on time?

Ha.  Hahahahaha.  So, yes, we had dinner at the halfway point.  At FIVE FREAKING THIRTY.

And I foolishly thought, based on all my years' experience making this drive, that we were through the worst of it.  Nothing but smooth sailing from here on in.  I gave the kids some quarters for the jukebox and enjoyed my burger and fries like we had all the time in the world.  We had a nice time.  We joked and laughed together.  The kids talked to the owner of the restaurant.  So much fun.

And then we got back on the highway and were greeted with a sign that said "Next town 18 miles, 53 minutes."

OH.

SHIT.

One.  After.  Another.  Those stupid, smug, blinking signs portended our automotive entrapment doom.

"Next town, 10 miles, 25 minutes."

"Next town, 5 miles, 18 minutes."

"Next town, 7 miles, HAHA SCREW YOU SUCKERS!!"

Ryan rifled through the map supply and found Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Oklahoma, but ironically we had NO TEXAS.  Why?  BECAUSE THERE IS ONLY ONE ROAD YOU NEED WHEN YOU ARE TRAVELING NORTH AND SOUTH IN TEXAS.  This is, obviously, a big part of the problem.

 Meanwhile the kids were entertaining themselves by howling, shrieking, clucking like chickens, clucking the National Anthem like chickens, and poking each other.

I told James that if he would rather, he could get out and run beside the car and probably beat us to the next town if he was going to continue making that HORRIBLE SOUND.

After about the five thousandth time we rounded a bend only to be greeted with a line of red tail lights as far as the eye could see, my blood pressure would have qualified me for immediate hospital bed rest.  But at least the kids had quieted down.  They asked me to tell them a story.

I said to Ryan in a sing-songy voice, "Once upon a time, there was a pregnant woman who wanted nothing more than to get into bed but who was trapped in a minivan for six hours with three loud children in a two-hundred-mile-long traffic jam.  Thankfully, Texas is a concealed-carry state because..." and then Ryan cut me off.

He thought it would be best for all if he took over the storytelling, which he did, for the rest of the drive, despite having caught James's horrible cold and feeling awful himself.  He told the kids stories about growing up, stories about how we met, stories about long hiking trips he'd taken with friends.  Ryan is wonderful.

I passed the time by muttering angry things about tailgating truckers like a crazy person.  I am, well, clearly, kind of a crazy person.  Who says things like "I'm sorry, Sweetie, Mom can't tell you a story right now because SHE IS TRYING TO NOT GET US KILLED BY THIS BIGSTUPIDTRUCKOMG." (but seriously, by that point we were going seventy, by some miracle, and that truck was so close all I could see in the rear-view was its grill, this despite it having two full lanes to choose from if it wanted to pass me!).

The trucks only became more aggressive and obnoxious as we got closer to our exit and by the time we were headed down the road towards our house I was slightly embarrassed by my behavior.  Even though Ryan totally backed me up.  In less colorful terms.

We got home a little after eight.  Not counting dinner, it took us almost FIVE HOURS to make the drive.  That almost beats our Thanksgiving Hall of Shame Number One of SIX HOURS, but seriously.  This should not be happening on a random weekend in April with clear weather and no wrecks.  I think it would be better for everyone if I just stayed in town for the next few months.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I did not even offer them a cup of coffee

My parents were early for an appointment they had near my house this morning so they dropped by to see us beforehand.  After they called to let me know they were coming I took a quick shower and threw on some non-pajamas because if there's anyone for whom you want to appear to have your act together, it's your parents.  I took a cursory glance around the downstairs and declared it "good enough for an unexpected visit" and patted myself on the back for having already cleared breakfast off the table.  Look at me with the basic life skills!

After my shower I briefly considered relocating the four loads of unfolded (but clean!) laundry I had heaped in the dining room, but laundry is heavy and sitting down is nice, so I sort of kicked it out of the way so it wouldn't be the first thing visible from the front door and then sat down to watch Curious George.  My parents arrived and sat down on the couch and visited for a few moments and then my mom got up and came back with a huge pile of laundry, which they began folding.  OMG, you guys, better than babysitting!!

I politely but halfheartedly said "Oh, you don't have to do that" but my mom waved me away and said "It's fun to do other people's work" as she seam-to-seamed a tiny pair of khaki pants.  I'm not one to stand in the way of anyone's good time, so I suggested they make the beds next (KIDDING).

We had a nice time together, chatting and folding laundry, and I had fond flashbacks of watching PBS shows while my mom folded laundry on the coffee table when I was a kid and wondered if she'd make me popsicles out of koolaid and dixie cups too.  Maybe they could move in with me!  It was so, so wonderfully nice.

When all the laundry was folded James came wandering out of the playroom saying "Eewww!  Eewww!  Eewww!"  I should have suspected something was amiss, but it was early in the morning so I just watched as he crossed the room and put something into my mom's hand.

"OH!" exclaimed my mom as she jumped off the couch "It's DOG POOP!!"  She continued "I think it's dog poop at least, Bec does this look like dog poop or kid poop to you?"  A reasonable question.

Slightly embarrassed but not all that surprised, I took a look at the turd, which was definitely dog poop.  I will never judge those poor people on Hoarders ever again, now that I know what it's like to live with enormous piles of unfolded laundry and random deposits of animal crap on the floor.  James was still pointing at the playroom and telling us all about it.  "Eeewww!  Eeewwww!  Eewwww!"  My mom ran to the bathroom to dispose of the poop.  I shooed James off in the direction of the bathroom so he and my mom could both wash their hands in boiling water and lye then used an entire roll of paper towels to shield my hand as I picked up the rest of the "Eewwww!  Eeeewwww!  Eewwww!" which was indeed, "Eewwww!  Eeeewwww!  Eewwww!"

So, you know, WELCOME TO MY HOME!  LOOK OUT FOR THE LITERAL CRAP IN THE PLAYROOM.  PLEASE HELP YOURSELF TO MY LAUNDRY.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Whine and Cheese

I asked Ryan if I complain too much last night, which is kind of a loaded question, and his answer was very telling.  He said "I think, under the circumstances... no.  Not too much."

So this morning as I went through our morning routine I took a mental inventory of Things that are Reasonable Complaints and Things that are Whining.

Things that are Reasonable Complaints:

--my stupid pelvis makes it hurt to walk, stand, squat, or change positions in bed.  And it's getting worse.  This will not go away until delivery, so everyone can look forward to another eighteen or so weeks of heavy sighing when they ask me to do something that is not sit on the couch and eat cookies.  Also, sarcastic answers like "FINE." when people ask me how I'm feeling.  I know they're being polite and friendly, but there's just no nice way to answer this question.

--Charlie and Wes, while completely capable of getting out of bed, dressing themselves, and putting on their shoes, refuse to do so without a lot of intervention and reminding and bitching from me.  This is probably my fault in that I keep up with the reminding instead of, say, having Charlie walk into school an hour late and explain to his teacher that he wouldn't put his shorts on when he was asked to and made the whole family late for everything.  Yes, that would probably put a stop to those shenanigans real quick.  One thing I am not doing is another freaking sticker chart.  JUST PUT YOUR DAMN PANTS ON OMG.  I mean, I asked James to go up to the bathroom and find his shoes and bring them back and he DID IT in less than five minutes.  James!  Who calls chickens "MOO MOO!"

Things that are Whining

--We keep running out of food and I have to keep going to the store for more and the store involves lots of walking, lifting, and carrying.  This is contrary to the slothful couch-sitting, queen ant, eat and gestate lifestyle I would like to fall into.

--This one piece of hair from my hairline would not stop dangling in front of my eyes today.  I could feel it and sort of see it, but never get it to stay out of my face.  This made me irrationally angry.  Finally, I plucked it out it in frustration right in the middle of the grocery store.  I may have muttered something R-rated.  OVER HAIR.

--The trash bag keeps falling into the trash can when I put things in it.  HATE.

--We are out of cookies.

--Laundry.  We have had this conversation before.  The combined pelvis/sternum pain almost tip this into the Reasonable Complaint category, but whatever, it's just laundry.  Do it and get over it.

--I tried to make a grocery list in the car in the parking lot of the store and then something shifted onto my bladder and I had to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW.   I was that idiot run-waddling through the store parking lot, shopping list in one hand, reusable bags flapping behind me.  And it was the third time I'd had to pee since I'd woken up two hours earlier.  So that's where we are now, I guess.

--What.  Is.  That.  Smell?

So, now that I've alienated most of you, I will go take care of the laundry.  And the dishes.  And try to not be such a freaking grouch for the rest of the day.  A breakfast taco would probably help in that regard.

Also, I should end on a high note, because we went to Charlie's school's carnival on Friday and the kids were SO AWESOME I could hardly believe it.  They wanted to do this one thing that was 6 tickets and we only had four tickets left for each of them and Charlie said "No problem, I have had such a good night.  I'll go down the bouncy slide one more time for four tickets."  And then everyone walked back to the car cheerfully, all sweaty and happy and satisfied.  While we were there a lady said to me "Oh, you have three boys?  I am so jealous!  I wanted three boys.  They are the best!" and I thought that was the nicest thing she could have said to me because YES!  Three boys are awesome!  This is not often the reaction I get from people when we are out and about together.  Usually something more along the lines of "DAMN.  Your house must look like a warzone."  So, thanks lady at the carnival!  You are awesome and you (and my three awesome boys) totally made my day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Fun Facts

1.  Sternal Trauma 2013 continues.  After a painful day chasing kids on Tuesday I went to the after-hours doctor who said "Well, since we can't do an X-ray we can't rule out a stress fracture or a bad sprain, but my money's on a bad contusion.  It'll take between one and three weeks to feel better."  Since I'm knocked up I get to use a lot of Tylenol and ice instead of a lot of Advil and Cabernet, which is disappointing.  He also suggested trying not to carry heavy things and to get more rest, which is hardly worth mentioning because LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO MY ENORMOUS TWO YEAR OLD, DOCTOR IMPRACTICAL.

2.  Charlie has had a long string of good days at school!  We've been big jerks about bedtime and make sure he eats a good breakfast, but I sorta think that something just clicked one day because even on days I think are going to be terrible he comes home like "Yeah, I had a good day and finished my work" like NBD, I was BORN finishing all my work.  Also, his coloring has improved DRAMATICALLY which was a huge point of contention at the beginning of the year as we struggled to find a balance between "You should behave professionally in the classroom and always do your best" and "COLORING IS NOT AN ACADEMIC SKILL."  Now if we can just find that library book I'll be able to look his teacher in the eye again.

3.  Ever since I scheduled his speech evaluation with ECI for the end of the month, James has been picking up words left and right.  Ryan's been really working on animal sounds with him and he's been coming downstairs every morning saying "MOO MOO?" and pointing at the dining room, which is quirky, but does not make a lot of sense.  Finally I figured out that he can see deer behind our house from his bedroom window.  All four-legged mammals are either cows or dogs and he calls Wes "Yes."  Two year olds kill me.

4.  The kids were having lunch in my office the other day and one of the students came by and said to Wes "Hey, you want to see something cool?" and Wes is always up for anything so he dropped his sandwich and ran after him.  He came back ten minutes later saying he had fun but giving me very little information.  Turns out the students were using him to test the strength of the geodesic dome they built for a competition.  Now they know it can support a 40 lb load!   And it won the competition!  He should definitely be listed in the acknowledgements.

5.   The terrifying ramp up to my summer project has begun.  Some things have gotten easier (one of my trips was canceled), and others are still really overwhelming (giant stack of things I have to read and convince my students to read and understand, I do not know what I am doing, etc.).  The thing I'm most apprehensive about is the workshop I go to in June in which I will "live in the dorm, simulating the life of a student."  Which means lots of walking around and scheduled meal times.  Two things I cannot do right now are:  1) Lots of walking around (having some issues with my pelvis like the ones I had with James except that that time it started at 30ish weeks not 20ish weeks like this time and also I got winded WHILE LECTURING yesterday.  Tres attractive.) and 2) Predict when I will be hungry.  Let me rephrase: I am hungry all the time, so in addition to the three normal meals, there is a high-protein and usually inclusive of avocados 10 am snack that is an absolute must and also a  mid-afternoon snack requirement.  I'm thinking lots of granola bars.  And avocados.  And a Rascal scooter.  Hopefully the old stern-u-rooney will be back to normal by then so I don't have to take fifteen pillows, my ice packs, and my huge bottle of Tylenol with me to my dorm room.

6.  I've been working with my Ph.D. advisor to get this one paper from my dissertation out the door for the last three years.  Wednesday afternoon, at my desk in my bedroom while the kids watched Wild Kratts downstairs and James slept, I clicked SUBMIT on that puppy and it is officially on it's way to being reviewed (and likely summarily rejected, but let's hope not!).  It was a good feeling.  Afterward I ordered a pizza for delivery because we had no dinner in the house.

7. For work today I chose a highly spring-like ensemble of black maxi skirt, black and gray striped tunic, and black scarf.  The pink shirt I had on originally was making me crazy.  I am turning into Morticia Adams, but there's just no way to reconcile the brooding academic look with "fresh for spring".

8.  Eighteen weeks IS NOT A FREAKING LOT OF TIME.  Dude.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In the words of James: "OUCH"

Holy crap you guys I might have topped the hand stuck in the book return incident for pure stupid while in a public place.

It all happened after a perfectly lovely half hour at Pei Wei, spent eating lettuce wraps and reading an remarkably prescient paper from 2008 about New York City's vulnerability to storm surge.  It was time to go pick up Wes and James from preschool so I refilled my cup with the green tea I tell myself is decaf, sneaked four fortune cookies out of the bowl and headed for the door.

Even though I have a purse and I had it with me, I was juggling in my hands four fortune cookies, my phone, my keys, a straw, and my drink.  I turned on a heel and strided across the dining room toward the door aaaannnnndddd then I tripped... over something?

I got my other foot out in front and thought I was going to make it for one wonderful millisecond.  Instead I cracked the shit out of my sternum on the corner of a chair before landing hard on my left knee.  My drink, fortune cookies, phone, keys, and MOST OF MY UPPER BODY came to rest on a table occupied by two nice ladies enjoying their lunch.

I froze for a moment, stunned, while one of the ladies stood, flagged down a bus boy, and complained loudly "YOU NEED TO FIX THOSE TABLE LEGS.  JUST LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED!!  I TRIPPED TOO!"

After apologizing profusely, I gathered myself (and all of my stuff) as quickly as I could and turned around to see that the legs of the tables were sticking a good six inches out from the table tops all the way down the aisle.  Somewhat relieved that this wasn't just a case of a flip flop gone rogue, I nevertheless wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

The lady was still yelling at the bus boy as I limped as quickly as possible to my car, deflecting well-meaning bystanders all the way.  I closed the door and screamed "WHAT THE EFF?!!" before bursting into tears.  Because holy cow my chest hurt.  So did my foot, knee, back, and pelvis.

I inspected it in the mirror and it was bright red and very tender to the touch.  I couldn't really pull it together enough to call the preschool and tell them I was running late, so I took some deep breaths and drove there, attempted to calm down for a few more minutes in the parking lot, then avoided eye contact with everyone as I walked to the building.

Once we were back in the car I buckled the kids in and gave them fortune cookies so I could call Ryan and freaking lose my everloving mind on the phone.  He repeated calmly "Call the OB.  Call the OB.  Call the OB." until I stopped blubbering and said I would, then asked me to call him back.

Thankfully, probably due to all that "decaf" tea I'd consumed, Baby Girl was dancing around like Wes during the doxology (so inappropriate), so that reassured me through many awful what-if scenarios, most of which involved scenes from Downton Abbey minus the loyal servants and charming lord of the castle.  The doctor talked me down by saying unless I'd actually landed on my belly, everything would be fine.  Well, thank goodness for that table that got in the way, amirite?!!  WAY TO TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM, STERNUM!!

Nevertheless, I declared it lying down time for all of us as soon as we got home.  Mostly because my entire chest still hurts if I move around too much.  We all had grilled cheese and canned soup for dinner and then I got in bed right after kid bedtime.  Ryan is quite concerned and is doing laundry between trips upstairs to refill my water glass and offer me snacks.  He does make a good Lord Grantham.

Summer in April, when it's usually already summer in Texas

We're all very eager for warmer weather to stick around so we can start complaining about how it's always so stupid hot in Texas, so this weekend we marched bravely ahead into the freezing wind for the first teeball game of the season. A season that apparently starts with me wrapped in a blanket and ends with a sunburn. At any rate, kiddie teeball is the cutest sport ever invented.

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Wes's team, the Hot Rods, in the 3-4 division, went first. It was predictably adorable, given that Wes is one of the oldest kids on the team. Kids were running to the wrong bases, kids were sitting with the wrong teams on the benches, and when against all odds, one kid smacked a solid line drive well beyond the baseline, ten little heads swiveled to watch as the ball whizzed past them but no one went after it until the coach shouted a good natured "Go get the ball guys!" Wes LOVES teeball. He has a crazy-serious base running face and a hilarious outfield hip-dance. No one is paying attention and the kids are three feet tall. What could be better?

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The slightly more professional 5-6 league was the next to play. These kids have mostly, you know, heard of baseball before. Charlie had an awesome coach last year who focused a LOT on fundamentals and for the first time it looked totally natural when Charlie fielded the ball, wound up, and threw it to first base starting with his little foot in the air, throwing the ball across his body with perfect follow-through. I may have yelled "YEAH!" so loud some of the other parents turned around to look at me. There are still lots of hilarious tiny kids playing teeball shenanigans, like the way five kids all fling themselves on top of the ball and fight over it every time someone hits it. And the way they randomly walk off the field to go to the bathroom.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at home, cleaning up and cooking for our friends' dinner visit. I bought the first watermelon of the season and it was PERFECT (I was waiting for them to get below $5, an indication that they were in season and ready to eat. Early watermelon: one benefit of living so close to Mexico, sustainability FAIL!).

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Friends came (Wes's Godparents) and we had a picnic. They pointed out that we had known each other longer than all but one of the kids. I love friends like that.

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We celebrated Ryan's birthday a bit early (somehow I could not get those numbers to face the right direction. Also, James is frequently without a shirt and/or pants, if not now then when?

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And then we all went to a minor league baseball game. This is the only picture I have of all three kids. And that is Charlie leaning on Ryan's legs, not Charlie with giant man-legs. It was a little bit hectic keeping everyone together and watching the game every once in a while, but everyone had a blast.

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James always likes our friends better than us.

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After several hours of running around the lawn area barefoot and rolling down the hill, (and occasional game watching!), we got home at 10:30 and stuck everyone in bed straight from the car. I had to line them all up in the shower assembly-line style the next morning to get off the dirt that covered their legs and bare feet all the way up to their shorts lines before church. They also still had grass in their hair. Which reminds me I should probably go wash their sheets.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blame it on the Rain

A month or so ago I heard that Jane Goodall would be speaking at my university and I immediately secured two tickets for Ryan and me.  Nevermind that it was a Tuesday night, one of the more chaotic nights of our week, and that our usual sitter was possibly planning to attend the same lecture, we were both going, darn it.  I would figure out how to impose on all of my friends and relatives later!

At the eleventh hour (the day before) I had made a convoluted set of childcare arrangements whose complexity was second only to my mother's epic vacation planning (you fly to Boston, Papa will drive in from Connecticut and leave his car in remote parking lot A2 then take the bus to the subway to the train to Portland where I will pick him up in Grandma's car then we will go together to pick Grandma up and all meet in Maine).  Miss S was to arrive at my house at 5:35.  After a hasty set of bedtime and dinner instructions, I would jump in the car and rush Charlie to his 6:00 swim lesson where we would meet Miss N, our regular babysitter, who had, unfortunately, not gotten a ticket to Jane Goodall.  Miss N would observe Charlie's lesson then drive him to my house while I drove to Ryan's work to pick him up and attend the lecture.  Then we would all end up back at our respective houses by the end of the night by MAGIC (snaps fingers).

At any rate it's gratifying to know that it takes two people to replace me in my daily routine.  And also sort of explains my generalized anxiety disorder.

We were all comfortable with this plan slash military operation but then it decided to RAIN for the first time in seventy-five weeks.  Rain is no joke around here.  We need it badly.  No one is allowed to complain.  However, this particular giant thunderstorm and torrential downpour arrived at 5:00.  Rush hour.  And the good people of Central Texas are absolute freaks when it comes to driving in non-dry conditions.

The first part of the plan began to unravel when Miss S contacted me at 5:20 to let me know that she was sitting on a parking lot of a highway approximately fifteen miles from my house and absolutely would not be able to get here by 5:35.  I told her I'd leave the door unlocked for her then rushed the kids into the car so fast Charlie forgot to bring shoes.

We drove through the downpour and lightning and noise to the Y for swimming, got stuck for ten minutes at a flashing red light at one of the busiest intersections in town, then finally careened into the parking lot in pouring rain at 5:57.  Charlie and Wes got out by the front door with strict instructions to run to the vestibule and NOT MOVE ONE INCH FROM THAT SPOT while I parked the car then ran through the rain and giant puddles holding James in one arm and my shoes in the other (in a dress!  and a cardigan!).  We squish squish squished our way down the long hallway to the pool where we were greeted with a cheery blue sign which indicated that the pool was closed.

I asked an employee.  No swimming tonight.  Information that would have been SO convenient to have BEFORE I left my house so fast I was pretty sure the milk was still out on the counter.

We caught a breath for a moment while I returned a call from Miss N.  She had gotten a ticket after all, hurray!  She promised to come drive Charlie (now all three kids, SURPRISE!) home to Miss S before the lecture, but I took one look at the highway and knew there was absolutely no way that would be possible.  Since there was no swimming, I would just take them home myself then go to my school.  This should take about forty-five minutes, since the two places are on opposite directions, but I had an hour, so I figured it would be fine.

But once we were all back in the car and headed toward home we hit A. WALL. OF. CARS.

It took me fifteen minutes to drive a quarter of a mile out the back entrance of the Y and back to the highway.  It was now 6:20.  There was NO FREAKING WAY I could make it home and back by 7:00 at this pace.  Or any pace for that matter.

I wanted to give up.  I wanted to go home and take off my dress and put on some sweatpants and some thick cozy socks SO BAD.  But.  JANE GOODALL WAS AT MY SCHOOL AND I HAD A TICKET.  I had quite the internal battle over this, but in the end JANE GOODALL overrode any sense of reason I might have had re: crap weather, traffic, just isn't gonna work this time.  I banged the steering wheel in frustration.  I said a word I'd rather the kids not repeat.

Then I called Miss S, who still had not managed to get to my house in the horrendous traffic, but who agreed to meet me at the Y and switch cars.  This was the only way it could work.

And also, I should mention, the kids were so good during all of this it was OTHERWORLDLY.  They were ready for an adventure!

Ten minutes later Miss S pulled her Ford Fiesta into the spot next to my van and we both jumped out, threw our keys at each other, and slid into the opposite cars.  I remembered to yell "they can go to bed anytime!!" as I slammed the car in gear and backed out of the space.

After a ten minute search for a parking spot, I pulled into a church lot, abandoned the Fiesta, ran across a highway, then hurried to meet Ryan in the gym for the lecture.  We were ushered in five minutes before go time to a completely packed auditorium where someone from University Affairs nabbed me and said "Would you like to sit in reserved seating?"  Um.  OK.  He led us to the front section of chairs and let us take our pick and I sat down and relaxed for the first time in two days.

The lecture was absolutely unbelievable (her discussion of the role her mother's unending (and unconventional) support had in her becoming a successful scientist was so moving and also made me feel better about all the creatures that have called my kitchen home).  SO incredibly worth all the chaos it took to get there.  And I was so glad Ryan was there to share it with.  And honestly, a story of overcoming World War II, a government unsupportive of women scientists, hostile male gorillas, potentially unfriendly indigenous peoples, and living primitively in a remote African jungle for weeks at a time made my angst about traffic and missing swim lessons seem a bit silly.