Friday, December 26, 2008

In All My Grace

I didn't imagine that I'd be spending the vacation day I took, on the day after Christmas, completely incapacitated and knocked out on narcotics. But, in all of my grace, that's exactly where I ended up.


Christmas day began strong. Liam woke around 7 AM, and once he figured out what lay beneath the tree for him, he dropped his precious blankie and stuffed monkey and took off at a run. We made breakfast and hot cider. Grandma and Grandpa came to join in the festivities. Both of my children absolutely cleaned up and Liam was practically drunk on play by 10 AM.

We ate dinner, as most people do, at mid-afternoon. The whole family was playing or lounging, full and happy, by 4 PM. Then, IT happened.

I learned many important things on Christmas Day, but probably the most important would be that while I can walk down the stairs and talk on the phone OR I can walk down the stairs and hold a can of soda, apparently I cannot do both. It was all a blur really, I was headed down the stairs to inform by husband, with hand gestures, that he needed to tend to a crying Quin, because I was on the phone. I was up, and then the next thing I knew I was down. Very down. And in A LOT of pain.

I tried, through screams, to inform my dad on the other end of the line that, "I have to go...I fell." I quickly hung up the phone, writhing in pain. (He didn't get that message, however, and called the house a few minutes later...I can only imagine what he must've been thinking!) My husband heard the commotion and quickly came running, clearly unsure what to make of my screams.

"What do you want to do?" he asked. "Go to the ER?"

"YES!" I managed through near tears now. I needed the searing pain to come down, just a bit, before I could even think about making it out to the car.

Fortunately, Nate's parents were at our house at the time, so we were able to make a quick exit without having to worry about the children. On the car ride to the hospital, I noted that the pain was worse than any contraction I've ever had. And I wasn't kidding.

Nate ran into not one, but two random people he knows at the hospital. In the emergency room. On Christmas Day. Go ahead, try and figure that one out.

I learned that I was the third person to come through the ER who'd fallen down the stairs that day. Nate joked with the records person that it was a shame it didn't happen in a more exciting fashion. I seethed. I was in ridiculous pain, but apparently was not very original. I oscillated between laughter and tears.

X-rays were taken, no broken bones. Hallelujah. But I do have a seriously sprained ankle. And one gigantic knob to go with it. I'll spare you the actual picture. More than one person mentioned that they "heard" sprains hurt more than breaks. Not sure if they're just trying to make me feel better about being a whimp, or if it's really true.

I did learn a couple more interesting lessons, however. The first would be that no matter what time of year, it is always important to keep your legs shaved and toe nails painted. And, according to the guy who taught me to use crutches (yep, they have people around to teach such things), I have disproportionate arms. Sigh.

And that was my Merry Christmas. Started off with a bang, and ended with a sprain. Leave it to me to be so graceful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Goggies

Recently, Liam and I had an exchange that went something like this.

Me: Liam, let's sing Christmas songs!

Liam: No!

Me: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle...

Liam: I don't want to!

Me: ...all the way. Oh what fun...

Liam: STOP! I don't wanna sing songs.

Me: ...it is to ride...

Liam: NO! STOP! I don't wanna hear it!

Me: ...in a one horse open...

Liam: Goggies.

Me: ...sleigh. Jingle bells, jingle...

Liam: Goggies.

Me: ...bells, Jingle all the...

Liam: Goggies. Waaay.

Me: Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open...

Liam: ...sleigh.


Handy definitions:

Goggies-(noun; gog-gies) Random word Liam uses at various times, for various reasons. Origin unknown.

Success-(noun; suhk-ses) Annoying your child so much that he simply gives in and plays along.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Quinlan got to try out his exersaucer for the first time today.



And, not to be out done, Liam decided he did too.


Getting in was a snap. But apparently, getting out was a whole other issue.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Memory Lane

I decided to pull out my "memory" box today, which contains mostly memories from high school, and a few from early childhood. Here's what I found.

  • Copious amounts of cheerleading mementos; including the "Mouse Award" given to me during cheer camp for "always being quiet and attentive." In other words, for being way too quiet for a cheerleader!
  • Kick ass jewelry. Why was that shoved in a box?
  • Many, many incriminating pictures of my friends. Rest assured, as soon as I can get my hands on a scanner they will end up here.
  • Prom pictures galore.
  • My childhood doll, whose head, for some reason, is sticky.
  • My blankie.
  • An unopened package of thank you cards from graduation. So, for all those who obviously never got a thank you card from me: thank you!
  • And the following story. I remember this story well because I wrote it when I was 12 and it was the first time I got praise for my writing. I'd always known I enjoyed writing (I decided, at 5, that I was going to be the youngest person ever to write a novel. I think I managed to get 3 paragraphs in.) But, this was the first time anyone took notice. The assignment was to write a mythological story.

PoPcOrN

Long ago, in the county of Pazacorf, there lived a mad scientist named Papa Cornerisac. He was a funny little man with very short limbs, a bald head, and glasses that constantly slipped down his short, cropped nose. He was very poor, for all of his incredulous experiments were always short-lived and did nothing but make a mess in his already congested home.

Papa cornerisac did have one friend though. It was a young boy named Josh, who was an oversized boy for his age, with black wavy hair that seemingly had never seen a comb, and clothes that were way too tight, for he grew so quickly and was too poor to go out and buy new clothes. Josh was over to Papa Cornerisac's house every day, and he too loved to experiment. He also liked to go and "search" for nothing in paticular. Actually, all he really did was point his head to the ground and run into things.

One day while out on a walk, Papa Cornerisac felt a slight twinge on the bottom of his bare food (he was too poor to buy what he called "useless flaps of rubber that make your feet stink!). Papa Cornerisac stopped for a minute, lifted up his foot, and found a kernel of something. It was small, yellow, and hard. After thinking for quite some time, Papa decided to name it Corn, after himself.

Later on he finally decided to put the corn into the ground which had very fertile soil. So Papa Cornerisac put the kernel into the ground, gave it some water and went about his horrendous experiments, forgetting completely about the corn, that is until a few months later when he discovered a very large stalk, nearly five feet tall, growing out of the ground! It was green all the way up, and at the top was a sphere of corn! Papa Cornerisac has shocked! He could hardly believe it!

Papa went on to perform many experiments on his corn. None of them amounted to much though, except for his last one.

Papa Cornerisac decided to cut lots of corn off the great sphere, put them in some oil, and heat them up to see what would happen. After the corn heated up a bit (by then Papa Cornerisac had forgotten all about it sitting there, he had a poor memory) it began to pop, one by one until the whole house was bursting with pops!

Now Papa Cornerisac was extremely afraid of war, and he constantly thought someone was coming after him! So when the corn began to pop, Papa Cornerisac went nuts-he thought someone was shooting at him! He went crazy, and ran! Never to be seen in Pazacorf again.

Later on that day, Josh decided to go see his friend Papa Cornerisac. Well, not surprisingly, he didn't find Papa, but he did find small, puffy white pieces of food! He ate a bit and loved it! Next to the batch of popped corn lay the experiment recipe, and one unpopped kernel of corn. From the kernel Josh grew many stalks of corn, and popped them. And then, after Papa Cornerisac, he named them Popcorn!

Over the years Popcorn became very famous. Finally Papa Cornerisac had made a worth while experiment!

The End.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

State of Fear

I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in December 2004. And in that short amount of time, I've been laid off twice, people. Twice.


So you can't call me crazy for being just a little more than paranoid right now. Nevermind the fact that I couldn't possibly be in a better business, doing advertising for a very large grocery wholesaler. (Because, while anyone can decide not to buy that TV this year, everyone needs food.) There's been no talk of layoffs at my company, in fact, they're still hiring. But still, I find myself in this state of mind numbing, paralyzing fear.

Even the minuit detail that I managed to land this job as the economy was sliding and I was 30-weeks pregnant can't subside my confidence that anytime I get called into my supervisors office it is to hear the words no one ever wants to hear, "Your job is being eliminated." Nor can the knowledge that while I was on maternity leave I got more than one dire message that I needed to return. None of it matters. I can't shake the notion that in this big, big world I'm still just a peon. And as such, I'm easily disposable.

Back in February I interviewed with Best Buy. I didn't get that job, not least because I applied more for the great perks Best Buy offers than for my skills related to the position. This week I hear that Best Buy is offering buyouts to every single corporate employee. That's right, from secretary's to VPs, they will offer an average of 7-1/2 months of pay plus a year of medical and life insurance if you quietly walk away.

Which begs the question. What would you do? Take the buyout and keep your fingers tightly crossed that 7-1/2 months is enough time to find something else? Or, stick your heels in the ground and refuse, knowing that in six months your job could be eliminated anyway and without such a generous offer?

These are uncharted waters. And why do I bring it up? Maybe to help me stay sane. I think/worry/fret/obsess about it on a daily basis, so I want you to join me. But maybe also so that when the day comes that my job disappears too, I can say, See! I told you. I TOLD you!

For now, I think I'll gaze into my future. Melodramatic? Not a doubt about it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Change of Heart

Where I come from, the temperature dips below zero two, maybe three times a year. It happens in the wee hours of the morning, and when it does, it dominates the local media. The NBC news affiliate will run stories about where the homeless will sleep while their CBS counterpart will air an exposé about the deadly threat that the arctic air presents.

But in Minnesota, it's just a way of life. Last year, during my first Minnesota winter, I lamented over the winters I used to know. The kind that brought snow one day, and 50 degree temperatures the next. The kind where negative temperatures happened so seldom that it was the major news story. Where sunshine reigns 300 days a year.

In Minnesota, people place houses on ice in winter. Municipalities routinely flood their parks to make ice rinks; you know, because they can. It's not unheard of to plug your car in at night, and highs below zero are just par for the course. Today's high? -3. In fact, this morning the air temperature hovered around -8 while the wind chill was a brisk -33.

It's the kind of cold that will freeze your nose hairs together in two seconds flat. Take a deep breath? Better not, it's likely to collapse a lung. This kind of weather will freeze flesh in about 10 minutes. And according to the local media, it is only just barley cold enough to prompt an air temperature warning.

I've never considered myself to be all that tough when it comes to the cold. But people here get excited when the temperature finally dips below zero. And while last year I would have looked at those people with a skeptical eye and curiosity about their sanity, this year I find myself joining the cause.

Almost like Coloradoans relish in their world class ski resorts, I find myself wearing our crazy ass cold like a badge of honor. High of 4 degrees? That's a freakin' heat wave people!

Yes, I'll finally admit that I may have actually stepped into the role of proud Minnesotan. I head "up north" in the summer and look forward to the subzero temperatures in the winter. You'll probably find me on the ice rink temporarily erected at my local park this weekend, and don't be surprised if my children become hockey players (it's the Minnesota way).

But for the record, you will still not hear me utter "dontcha know, " refer to soda as pop, or elongate my o's. I may be okay with, even slightly excited about the cold, but I haven't gone completely Minnesotan. Not yet anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dear Santa

Tomorrow morning, I will be taking Liam and Quinlan to "Breakfast with Santa," at my husband's work. They kindly sent us blank letters to fill out before arrival, so Liam and I sat down to write a letter to Santa detailing his every desire.

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good boy this year!

I would like to have cars! New green ones. Please.

I would also like new green blocks.

I would like to have a new giraffe. A big giant blue one!

I think I want a new Christmas tree.

I'd like a big giant snowman. Please.

Thank you,

Liam

Christmas Strife

I've got a problem. My quest to seek out the ultimate gifts for my children leaves me a nervous wreck, stressed out and hopeless.

I know what you're thinking. They're too young to care. But I care. I want to be the hero on Christmas morning who sought after and found the perfect, most amazing gift my two-year-old could ever possibly imagine.

Of course I know that it doesn't really matter what I buy, it will always be the most innocuous gift he receives that will win over his heart. But despite this knowledge, I can't help but obsess about this decision every year.

His first Christmas brought this:


And although we did get one hilarious picture out of it, I'm pretty sure his friend Noah has since gotten much more enjoyment out of it than Liam ever did.

Then last year he received all things Thomas the Tank Engine. And while he loves his trains now, on Christmas morning he was so tired an crabby when he woke up that the sight of new presents under the tree thrilled him about as much as a trip to the dentist thrills me.

So this year, I am determined. On Christmas morning Liam will see this. Because on a recent trip to the children's museum, he spent most of his time doing this:

I'm sure I've (or, ahem, Santa) hit it out of the ballpark this year.

But I'm still not saved. Now I need to find a way to dazzle and amaze my 4-month-old. And if you didn't know, that's easier imagined...in dreams...than accomplished. It was going to be this. Then was changed to this. But has now become this (because I saw it in a magazine).

And so my search continues. Relentlessly, though maybe not entirely fruitfully.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Have Baby, Will Travel

Unwittingly, I own a rental property in my home state of Colorado. My previous tenant decided not to re-lease, prompting a quick weekend trip home to check on and prepare the house for the next occupant.

The problem? I couldn't stand the thought of being away from both of my kids for two days, so at the last minute I convinced myself to take one with me (after all, it's free, right?). Maybe in dollars and cents.

Once we made it to Colorado, the trip was great and I was happy I had Quin with me. It was getting to and fro that was the problem.

On Friday morning, I arrived at the off-airport parking lot at about 4:30am. I waited in the cold with my stroller, carry-on bag and suitcase at the back of the car for the shuttle dude to spot me. He quickly did, so I grabbed a sleeping Quinlan out of the car and attached his car seat to the stroller. Then I stood in bewilderment as the shuttle dude stared at me rather than helping me. So I schlepped all my baby paraphernalia onto the shuttle with no help. No tip for you, shuttle dude.

In the ticketing line, I answered questions about "my baby" from passengers who were both too chipper in the early AM for me, and too afraid to assume the baby under the blue blanket is a boy.

In the security line, I was disappointed to find that those family security lines I'd heard so much about over Thanksgiving were apparently only temporary additions. In case you didn't know, families only travel with children in November. I did get help from a TSA employee (hallelujah!), but forgot to take of my belt and thus set off the alarm. Not awesome.

Once at the gate, I desperately needed some caffeine so I made a beeline for Caribou. Then I sat down and let it go cold because Quin was awake now and needed a bottle more than I needed caffeine.

About five minutes after sitting down, it was announced that boarding would begin in five minutes, and I quickly realized that I'd forgotten to get gate checks for the stroller and car seat. So, as on lookers watched in amazement, I packed up my baby, stroller, car seat and cold Chai, fought my way to the counter for those pink tags, and fought my way back to my seat. Except this time, I needed to get the car seat into the car seat bag (why didn't I check that stupid thing?). I must've been quite the entertainment as I found a place for Quin to chill while I wrestled the car seat into it's bag, and headed back to board the plane.

Once I arrived in Denver, I realized I had been awake for nearly six hours and hadn't eaten a thing.

You can replay that entire scenario for the trip home but sprinkle in security's need to test the water for Quin's formula, a packed concourse with no where to sit, and a snow covered car in the off-airport parking lot.

Someone mentioned to me on the shuttle that I was a "very brave woman." I am conceding now, she might be right.

Stay tuned in April when I must fly by myself with both children. Not sure if we're all going to come out of that one in one piece.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Open Letter to my Neighbor

Since we moved into our home last December, the neighboring home has been mostly empty. Mostly because there was one creepy guy--and sometimes a woman and child--living there for about three months last winter. Our suspicions that the home was a foreclosure were confirmed in June when it hit the market at about $60,000 less than it is likely worth. But, still it sat. I guess banks don't put much effort into marketing and selling their homes.

Well sit no more. A very nice woman and her two yorkies have finally purchased the home. She seems nice enough. She probably thinks the same about us. But since we share a yard and most of our windows peer directly into the each other's home, here is an open letter to our new neighbor.

Dear nice woman with the yorkies,

So nice to have you in the neighborhood! Well, it was nicer not having anyone there at all, but I guess we'll make the most of it.

A little about us. Our dogs are crazy. No really, they're crazy. One is completely neurotic, and the other barks at nothing. Please try to ignore them when they freak out on you every time you walk by our windows. Also, try to ignore us jumping up and yelling our shouldacouldawouldas at them when they do.

Since you have dogs too, we won't apologize for the poop. Don't worry, we clean it up every Sunday and we'll probably clean up your dogs poop, too. You're welcome.

Please try to ignore our half-naked two-year-old who is potty training while simultaneously insisting every window shade in the house is open. We try to protect his privacy, but doing so has become an uphill battle, so we give up.

Your porch light isn't broken. Someone left it on a few weeks ago and it was driving us crazy, so we unscrewed it a little bit. Sorry. But on that same note, please don't leave your garage light on at night, because that also drives us crazy.

We like to spy, any home with open blinds is fodder for our curiosity, so we suggest you keep your blinds shut at night. We'd apologize for this affliction of ours, but we're pretty convinced most everyone else on the planet is the same way. Including you. We'll be sure to close our blinds at night too.

Despite all of the above, believe we're good neighbors. Because, really, we are. Afterall, you could be stuck next to those peculiar people down the street. You'll see what we mean in a few weeks.

All our best,

Your neighbors

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seven Years Ago Today

In May 2001, my beautiful sister got married. It was on this fateful night that I would meet my future husband and father of my children. I couldn't possibly have known that, however, because the guy I met had long curly hair, a dragon shirt, a leather jacket, and flames on his shoes.


I was an 18-year-old cheerleader who was about to graduate high school and my idea of being crazy was drinking too much soda. Leather jackets? Flame shoes? Long hair? These things did not define normal in my book. Nevermind the fact that I had a boyfriend.

Several months later, I would meet this strange guy again at, of all places, my grandparents house. It was August and I was about to go dorm accessory shopping with my mother. My sister and her eccentric friend were headed to the mountains for some camping and for whatever reason we all met in the middle. That day, I left my grandparents house knowing I was in trouble. This guy was charming, he had the brightest smile I'd ever seen, he was no longer sporting flame shoes. We clicked instantly. But, I still had a boyfriend.

After the candle blew out on my previous relationship, I let my sister know that I thought her friend was cute. I was shocked when he called, and after a few dates I was completely smitten.

One night I had a dream that I was in his apartment (which I'd never seen) and there were marshmallows everywhere. On the counter, the stove, covering the couch and the floor, positively everywhere. Now, I'm not much for astrology, dream interpretation, matters of the cosmic kind. But, I decided to research the meaning of "marshmallow" in a dream dictionary. The definition I received was something to the effect of meeting an unusual friend of the opposite sex. We both had a good laugh.

Which brings me to one year ago today. Thanksgiving 2001. I spent the holiday with my family while my future husband ate burnt turkey legs alone. Although in the previous couple of weeks he'd determined I lived too far away to pursue a relationship, we decided to get together that night.

My bright idea? To come bearing gifts. Marshmallows to be exact. The problem? Most stores prefer to give their employees Thanksgiving off. So, I went to the only open store I could find, K-Mart. They did not carry marshmallows. But, they did have the next best thing. Dinner mints.

That night, after enjoying a movie, good company, and some laughs over dinner mints, we both agreed to pursue the relationship, distance be damned. The rest is history. But that's how it started. A squeaky clean teenage girl diving in head first with a not-so-eccentric boy, dinner mints in hand.

And today, I give thanks for all that followed. And all that's to come.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Too Much, Too Soon

I am a firm believer that Christmas tidings should be strictly reserved to the time frame of The Day After Thanksgiving to New Years Day. This is the rule. It should not be broken, and I cringe when it is.

I broke my own rule.

In an attempt to get Liam, who at 2-1/2 is assumed to finally be old enough to "get" Christmas, excited for the holiday, we may have started the season a bit too early. My evidence?

Exhibit A: While traveling down the street he notices "Christmas" on other peoples houses (the lights other people, who have also broken the rules, prematurely hung). He gets excited, until we pass and he whines for Christmas to come back.

Exhibit B: We've already read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas enough times that he has it memorized.

Exhibit C: One morning last week he woke before I left for work. I asked if he'd like to go downstairs to wait for Grandma. He replied, "No, let's do Christmas first."

Exhibit D: How the Grinch Stole Christmas mysteriously appeared in Liam's book collection. Yes, we had this book last year, but I really thought I'd stashed it somewhere, because you know, no Christmas before Thanksgiving! (Apparently I didn't apply this rule to Exhibit B, however.) You try explaining to a 2-1/2-year-old why the Grinch is mad.

Exhibit E: He's been sleeping with a Santa Claus stuffed bear, and one Santa Claus slipper he found in his closet. They are apparently "Mommy Christmas" and "Baby Christmas."

Now, a month is an awfully long time for a kid to have to wait for such excitement, and I'm already burnt out on reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and explaining that "No, we cannot do Christmas before Grandma shows up for the day." Let's just hope that Ho Ho Ho doesn't become Ho Ho Humbug!

Next year, I'm sticking to my rules.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Working It Out

I had a baby, relatively recently. And he's really cute. But he's on the outside now. And, my company has a free gym. And, they offer classes. And, I have a co-worker who signed me up for the daily calendar reminders of said classes. I have no more excuses.

Attempt 1: I'm PUMPED! I shaved my legs in the shower, I gathered up my super spiffy workout clothing, I have chosen a class to start with (yoga), I have carefully studied the class schedule to be sure I don't show up at the wrong time. I am psyched, ready, all systems are a go!

I excitedly announce my co-worker that TODAY I am going to start participating in the workout classes!

"Oh," she replies. "The instructor is out today."

Shit.

Attempt 2 (two weeks later): It's yoga day again. I love yoga, I'm sticking with this as my introduction to fitness classes. I'm invited to Body Sculpt with my co-worker, but NO, I want yoga! I give myself plenty of time to dress. I've got the whole locker room to myself. Nice! I saunter up to the gym, and enter as all the Body Sculptors come streaming out. Suckers, I think. Yoga is SO much better! I meet the instructor. She explains that she isn't sure anyone else is coming.

What? But what does that mean?

No class.

So there I stand, in my yoga pants and socks, waiting around like a fool for fellow yogaers that aren't going to come.

"Well, there's lots of machines to use," the instructor suggests apologetically.

Thanks. I didn't even bring shoes.

I trudge back to the now full locker room, and do my best to blend in. Maybe they won't notice that I was just in the gym and came back without doing anything.

Attempt 3: This is the day that the calendar invites start coming. Crap. It's on my calendar now. I can't ignore incessant reminders at 15, then 10, then 5 minutes before the start of class. I could have ignored the invite, but, well, I DO need to go. Okay. I'll go.

I show up to a locker room full of female co-workers that I don't know eyeing me with that familiar glare of "Who the hell are you?"

I get changed, head toward the gym, and realize that I didn't bring my badge to open the door. I stand awkwardly at the door waiting for the next gaggle of stranger co-workers to come through and let me in. I stare at the bulletin board as they walk past, as if I meant to do that.

It's a step class. I haven't been to a step class in years. I grab too many levels for my platform, despite warnings, and go about my business. Class starts. I'm dying! I don't know what I'm doing. Step left, scissor over, rotate back, Charleston left. WHAT have I gotten myself into.

At the end of class, I glare into the mirror at my tomato red face and think to myself back tomorrow?

Yes. I begrudgingly think back. Back tomorrow. It'll be on my calendar after all.