14 December 2010

I understand why...

I now understand why, when I was young and got sick, my mom would go get my medication and come back with what I thought of as treat drinks and foods.  She was doing anything she could to get me to eat or drink!  I also understand why she would buy me something fun like a book, coloring book, activity book or some other activity I could do while sick.  For one, she was trying to keep me entertained by anything other than TV.  Two, she felt bad that I was so sick.

Kara has a double ear infection mixed with a cough that occasionally has that seal bark sound.  Thankfully her fever is mild and so far she hasn't thrown up.  The stomach bug was 2 weeks ago.  She will just rest her head on our lap and cry.  We've had such a hard time getting food in her that we're going to start offering Jello (I know, it's not really food.  But it's something!).  I need her to rest and stay inactive so that her body can fight the infections.  I'm also trying to tend to Rowan (who just got 2 vaccines).  Oh yeah, and get ready for Yule, Adam's birthday, and a trip to Wisconsin.  Oh yes, and still maintain the normal routines and needs of the house.  So I'm not able to play with Kara, or read to her, in a way that will keep her resting.  So, evil idiot box time it is.  I have never been so thankful for over 100+ channels, a DVR, DVD and VHS as I have when Kara is sick!  I feel so bad that she's so sick and doesn't get to play with friends (she will miss 2 playdates and 2 days of school this week.  I can't tell which of us is crying over that more).  I want to buy her treats and toys and things to cheer her up.  But dang if this kid doesn't have more than she normally plays with anyway.  So I restrain myself and say that it's my love, my attention and my compassion she needs more than my gifts.

I know part of my feeling bad for her is because she's been sick a lot lately.  She got sick before our trip to Minnesota- stomach bug.  Then she got sick on the way home from Minnesota- stomach bug on the plane.  And now she's sick again.  Oh yeah, that plane trip was very "interesting".  She threw up when we were at the airport, we had no clue she was sick.  Then she kept throwing up on the plane ride home.  And then again a few times at home.  We used all the motion sick bags we could get our hands on.  The flight attendants were very understanding thankfully.  Sadly they were all out of extra bags, thankfully other passengers gave us theirs.

Mom, I understand all you did when I was sick.  I hope that my girls feel as comforted and tended to as I did by you!

20 November 2010

Adventures in flying

We have arrived in Minnesota!  The flight was pretty uneventful as flights go. But when you add two children you get an eventful flight. 

Our day started off ok, we all got up with the alarm so we had plenty of time to get ready for the day and finish packing up.  We were talking the trip and flight up with Kara in the morning. 
We explained that we had to listen to other people a lot; security officials, flight attendants and pilots. Kara asked "will they have eye patches?" We were very confused until we asked "will who have eye patches?"  To which Kara said "the pirates that fly the plane.  Will they have eye patches?"  My daughter apparently decided to emulate Ruth from Pirates of Penzance.

We had planned on leaving by 10 am so we could get through security, get lunch, and get to our gate with plenty of time to spare.   We hit a few small snags when Kara refused to get dressed, eat, or do anything we asked of her.  Once we finally got her dressed and fed we decided to use that dreaded and abhored of all babysitters- *gasp* the tv!  Oh no, not the tv!  She might actually learn something from some of the shows or, horror, leave us alone for more than 5 seconds.  We got out of our house right on time and, as far as we know, with everything we need.  We got to the airport where I dropped Adam, Kara, and most of the luggage at ticketing.  I then took Rowan and parked the car, then rode a bus to the terminal.  We went straight to security where everyone was quite helpful.  I was fully prepared to refuse the naked photo scanners and to see how they dealt with patting down a 3 year old.  My activist and mommy bear instincts were at full alert.  Thankfully they reserve all that for the people they want to give "special" treatment to.  Apparently a family with two small children didn't, at this time, raise their terrorist alarms.  Everyone at the check point was helpful and calm while we held up the line. Picture this; 2 adults, one 3 year old, one 4 month old, 2 car seats, 2 adult backpacks, 1 laptop, 1 child's backpack, 1 purse, 1 carryon size suitcase, our coats and shoes, and a few bags with liquids that needed inspecting.  Yup- lots of chaos and fun.  Even the other travelers were patient!  We got lunch, and waited a bit for the plane. Thankfully we timed things such that the wait was just long enough for Kara to watch planes and get excited but not get bored.  The attendants were very helpful in letting us preboard, and the flight attendants on the plane were helpful and nice.  I got very lucky and got a friendly woman who loved babies next to me.  We chatted most of the flight and she even offered to hold Rowan if we needed.  She let me set drinks on her tray since I couldn't get mine down while I was holding Rowan.

During the flight we had hoped the girls would nap.  Rowan took a few short snoozes.  Kara, on the other hand, took a few tantrums.  At points she didn't want to be buckled, wanted to go with Adam to change Rowan's diaper, wanted her tray down and her drink on it (despite being shown that it couldn't go all the way down and would spill her drink), wanted Adam's tray up (despite being shown that then her drink, mine and Adam's wouldn't have a place to be set down), wanted to play with my puzzle book but not hers, and who knows what else.  Adam had the adventure of changing Rowan's diaper in the small bathroom with Kara in there too.  But no one got sick, we didn't disrupt the other passengers that much- at least no one gave me the evil eye.

As we were getting ready to land Kara excitedly asked "are we going to jump out of the plane now?"  She had seen a video of one of her grandpas doing that and apparently thought that was how you got out of a plane.  We all laughed, even the flight attendant.  We explained that wasn't how you wanted to leave a plane like this.  Everyone was very nice and helpful as we got off the plane too.  The pilots were willing to engage Kara as she chatted to them.  We got our luggage, met up with our ride, and got to my dad's house.  Kara then got to play with two of her cousins.  They were loud, rambunctious, and had a blast!

Now we are settling into being in Minnesota.  Kara's loving all the snow and requests dishes of it to eat. 

Here's hoping the next flight goes as well! 

14 November 2010

Preparing for departure...

Oh the fun we all have around the holidays.  I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to have all these major holidays crammed into such a short space of time.  We start off with at the end of October Halloween (we call it Samhain). Less than a month later there's Thanksgiving, about a month later Yule and a week after that New Years.  Come one people is it really necessary to cram all these into such a short space and time?  This is why I prefer Pagan holidays.  Everything is evenly spaced out- 8 holidays over the year (and it would have been pretty evenly if you go by moon/sun cycles and not these random 30, 31 and 28 day months- but that's another rant).  Of course 2 of these holidays are the days we are expected to be with our family the most.  If you happen to have moved away from where your parents are, the expectation to return is even greater.  Add children to the mix and well.... yeah.  You can pull the "we want to start our own traditions" card, but they will most likely counter with the "but we want to see you for the traditions we had when you were growing up" card.  Or "but it's about being together as a family" card (I would like to point out that this is what it's become, but not necessarily the original reason for the holidays).

So, all that ranting aside.  Here we are, the Sunday before our departure for the first of 2 major trips.  We leave this week for a trip to my family in Minnesota.  We'll be gone for over a week.  Getting ready entails: all laundry being done, the house at least sort of picked up, a cat sitter arranged, packing, children prepared, and lots of logistics to be worked out.  I'm sure I'm forgetting things.  Oh yes: the fridge cleaned out and mail stopped (whew!  I did that one already).  Since weekdays leave me precious little time to get things done, we cram as much as we can into a brief 2 day weekend.  I have lists all over the place of things to get done and what to pack.  I have decided to let certain things go for the sake of everyone's sanity (if we forget something I will not freak, I will not freak, I will not freak, I will not freak.  If I say it long enough I might actually believe it!). 

We have to be sure that Kara is appropriately prepared for what's going to happen.  We'll drive to the airport, this is what security will be like, then we wait, then we get on the plane, then we wait.... then we take off, then we wait while we're flying (by the way, we can't get up and move around and we can't get off the plane).  Then we land and wait until we're allowed to get off the plane, then we walk to wait for our luggage. Note how much we have to wait?  If you have a 3 year old, you know that "wait" is not in their vocabulary.  So, we prepare ourselves with lots of fun snacks, toys, even videos.  And prayers.  Lots and lots of prayers.

We also are working out how to get 2 adults, 1 three yr old, 1 four month old, 2 car seats, 2 adult backpacks, 1 child's backpack, and 1 carry on onto the plane.  I'm not even going to think of the logistics of before we check our 2 large suitcases.  No wonder people used to live closer to their parents.

Don't get me wrong.  I am looking forward to seeing my family.  But man oh man, the things we do to travel with kids.  So, you will have to excuse this rather uninspired post- I'm now off to fold the first of 4 loads of laundry.

24 October 2010

The unattainable goal

Ah perfection, that unattainable goal that we all strive for and yet know is always just out of our reach.  Why do we set ourselves up for the inevitable dashing and crashing of our hopes?  I suspect it is a combination of the thrill of the hunt and for those unicorn rare times that we actually achieve it (or believe we do).  I have found that those most guilty (or is it guiltiest? See, there I go again, trying to get it perfect) of attempting perfection are parents.  We want our children's lives to be nothing short of a storybook, complete with happy endings.  Yet what we often forget is that the things that shape people the most are not the happy magical stories.  What has the greatest impact on someone are the nitty gritty moments, when we are put to the test and must come through the trials and fires.  Unless you are accepting that life should be more like the original Grimm's Fairy Tales, life isn't and shouldn't be a storybook.  I have to constantly remind myself of this.  I also have to constantly be reminded that a snag or a change of a day's plans does not mean that the day is ruined.  Let me explain.

My dad and step-mom are in town.  I am ecstatic to have them here.  We've been keeping quite busy since they arrived.  On Friday we decided to go to DC to visit as many museums as we could.  This was Adam's first day back from his conference and a chance to have some great family bonding time.  We got diaper bags packed, moved car seats into my dad's mini-van and were on our way.  We planned to drive to Shady Grove Metro and take the train all the way to DC.  I made sure that Kara and I had things for our motion sickness.  However, I didn't listen to the little voice that told me 2 things.  1) drive to a station further down the line so that we were always underground and 2) consider driving.  We did not even make it half way before we had to get off so Kara's stomach could settle. We then got back on the train only to have to exit one more stop down. At this point the decision is made for my dad and step-mom to continue down, Adam to take Rowan back to get the car to pick up Kara and I and then we drive to DC.  I am sad that I now have to leave with Kara to figure out what is around this station for us to do and don't get time with my family.  Adam realized right after he got on the train back to Shady Grove that we made a mistake.  He had the child that needed to nurse and didn't have any way of nursing her.  After over an hour he finally made it to me.  At which point I am tired and cranky.  Kara is likewise cranky because she wants to be with everyone else.  Rowan is cranky because she is hungry and Adam is trying to keep the rest of us calm.  We got to DC just fine, everyone had fun exploring, and we got time together.  And yet, I saw this excursion as a failure and that it was my fault.  I was trying to reach the unattainable goal and set myself up for disappointment.  This has happened before, this will happen again.  You'd think I'd learn my lesson.  What I should have taken from the day was that I now know that Kara needs medication in order to ride on trains.  (Believe me folks, I have tried everything for her, and she still feels sick on the train.)

Perhaps over time I will ease up and not try for unicorn moments so often.  Perhaps as I grow as a mom I will relax my standards and what I think of as "perfect".  And then again, perhaps we will find that missing bone on the horse skeleton and realize that unicorns still exist.

17 October 2010

Healthy emotions

My husband, Adam, left this morning for a conference in Houston, TX.  He's gone to conferences before, but this is the first one since Rowan was born.  I always have had a lot of respect for single parents, when he's gone that respect just grows and grows.  Each conference he's gone to has presented me with new and different challenges as a parent.  The first conference Kara was just a year old and she got her first big illness.  I was unable to get much sleep or food.  All she wanted was to lay on my lap and be held.  Going to the bathroom was an adventure: have you ever tried to hitch your pants up when your child is strapped to you and throwing up at the same time?  Other conferences I've had the joys of explaining to Kara why her dad isn't there and why he wasn't going to be home for x days.   I got quite skilled at keeping her distracted from his absence.  This time though I am presented with 2 new challenges.  The first being that I now have two children, one that is awake frequently during the night and needs much of my attention (and body).  The second is one I had not thought of before. 

How do you express emotions around your children?  Prior to Kara when Adam would go to a conference I would have cried a bit, gone home, eaten junk food and watched TV, read some books, done a puzzle and stayed up way past my bedtime.  Now I know better than to spend my time watching TV, staying up late and eating junk food.  I'm sure I'll read plenty of books and may do some puzzles. Granted the books may not be more complicated than naming dinosaurs and the puzzles will have less than 50 pieces.  But what to do about the desire to cry?  Do I show Kara how sad I am that her dad has left?  Do I let her see how worried I am about how our time alone will go and his safety?  Or do I keep a stiff upper lip and keep on going as if nothing has changed?  If I don't express my emotions, in a healthy way that is, am I teaching Kara to not acknowledge her own emotions?  Does that teach her to be a stoic and afraid of emotions?  If I show her the tears does that then lead her to fear and worry when she shouldn't have that burden?  Will she feel she needs to take care of me since I am sad?  This also leads me to examine how we deal with Kara's tantrums and other outbursts of emotion.  Right now we ask her to calm down and say that once she is calm we can talk about what is bothering her. But does that teach her that she shouldn't express the emotion?  Would it be better to say "wow, you are really sad/angry/upset.  Let's take a moment to be that way, then we can calm down and talk about what has made you feel that way"?  We do try to acknowledge the emotion by saying "you sound really sad", but is that enough?  Do we need to give her more space to feel and express the emotion?  I want to raise children that are not afraid of their emotions and can express them in a healthy way.  I don't want them learning to stuff their feelings down or to think that it's not ok to let others know how they are feeling.  Emotions can be powerful and influence our thinking more than we often realize or admit.  To have a healthy relationship with emotions would allow them to recognize, feel, and then move on past the emotions so they do not influence their decisions excessively.  The question is- how to achieve that.

16 October 2010

Why oh why did I jump?

I am not someone to jump on the bandwagon.  I have always prided myself on being that fish that's going against the flow.  Everyone around me was getting cell phones.  This was back in the day when a camera on it was high tech.  I thought it was the dumbest thing for someone who is only away from a phone during a 30 minute commute to have a cell phone.  I left work, went to work, and then returned home.  Don't ask me what tipped me to getting a phone.  I can't remember that far back (I'm a mom, I have a hard time remembering what I ate for my last meal).   But I have made sure I have a basic phone- it's so fancy it's got a color screen.  I am sometimes happy I jumped on that bandwagon.  I can make calls anytime anywhere (an important thing when you have precious little time to do so).   I am now being tempted to jump on the iPhone bandwagon.  Must.Resist. When everyone was joining Facebook I rebelled and rallied with "NEVER!" while running down a hill away from the horde of friends sending me invitations to join.  I wanted to connect with my friends and family the old fashioned way, random emails or phone calls saying "gee, I haven't talked to you in how long?  So, what's new with you Dad?".  But then I was offered brownies.  Who can turn down their own batch of homemade brownies that they don't have to make?  So FB looked even better.  Then I realized that both my siblings were on there, and posting pictures of my nephews.  My adorable nephews that I see maybe once a year, if I'm lucky.  So I found out just how cushy and easy the FB bandwagon can be.

So why oh why did I jump on the blog bandwagon?  I find myself with a lot of random thoughts about my life as a mom.  I've found some outlets for them via FFF (Facebook, Forums, Friends).  But some of the randomness is longer and more in depth than the first two are really designed for.  Repeating the same randomness to the later gets a bit tedious and can sometimes bore people.  So.... why not create my very own place for my random, sometimes long winded and rambling, thoughts?  Oh yeah, that whole "I'm a mom and have almost no time for luxuries like blogging".  After thinking it over, and looking at the list of "hey, I should tell someone about this!" notes I've made I decided to, gulp, jump.  My grammar, punctuation, and cohesiveness will vary day-to-day (ok, post to post.  Let's face it, I won't have time each day to post!).  But stick with me and I assure that you'll laugh, cry, blush, and wonder what planet I'm on (I'm not sure half the time!).