Friday, November 14, 2014

Spend, Save, Give

      I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can't and I don't remember where I first read/heard about it. Our pastor last Sunday gave a good sermon about tithing and fiscal responsibility, which jarred this idea about of my memory banks. So many adults struggle with money issues. We teach our children lots of things, but not routinely about money. So why not start some financial responsibility when they're young?

Anyway, the idea is simple. Get three jars (or in our case use one Batman bank we already have) and label one 'Spend' (Batman) one 'Save'  (although ''Save' seems more appropriate for Batman, no?) and the third 'Give'. I don't know how most people give their kids money, but at 4, I feel that Doug is a little young for an allowance. What does happen is this: I get change in my wallet. I do not like change in my wallet as it makes my wallet and then purse heavier to carry. So then usually at some point in the week, I dump all of my change out on the table and Doug runs in Golm like to collect it. Jeff will do the same thing too.

So the other night we emptied out Batman and explained the procedure to Doug. At the end of the year, Jeff will either open a savings account for Doug at his credit union or we'll stick the 'Save' money in his college fund. The 'Spend' money can be spent however Doug sees fit. He did mention wanting to save up for a Lego set (surprising). The 'Give' we'll give to a charity of Doug's choice at the end of Advent. Doug likes and has given to Ronald McDonald House in the past, so I imagine he'll pick that again. The 'Save' and 'Spend' jars got a pretty even distribution of coins. But you know what? Doug put the most in 'Give' (he's passionate about Ronald McDonald house, or as he calls it "for the sick kids in the hospital!!!". He's been very excited about this so far and I think this will be a good on going project for him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things I Care Passionately About

So, being pregnant I've discovered some things that I apparently care very passionately about, to the point of tears:

1. Raspberry Lemonade. I was trying to kick my soda habit and looking forward to making some raspberry lemonade and having a glass in the evening. I had bought two cans of mix at the store a few days ago in preparation. Fast forward to that evening, I could not find the cans of mix. I tore the house apart, looked in the car, everywhere. I'm guessing that pregnancy brain took over at the store and I left the bag with the mix in it there. Jeff comes in and tells me he'll get some tomorrow. I naturally began bawling because I had been looking forward to it ALL DAY. Jeff ended up making an 11 o'clock trip to WalMart to get some more. Life was good again.

2. Clean sheets. Every week of our marriage, on Sunday nights, Jeff and I always have the same discussion; "It's time to change the sheets, Jeff." "But we just changed them last week.". Every week for 7 years. It gets old. Anyway, the previous week we had to change the sheets on Wednesday. Doug had come in our room in the middle of the night because he had wet his bed. His shorts were wet and he was leaning up against the side of the bed. So the next morning, I changed our sheets too. I was willing to let the sheets stay on longer than normal because they were changed midweek. And I was tired as hell. So the next Saturday the sheets had been on our bed for a week and a half now. It was late and we had to get up early for church the next day, but I was really looking forward to sleeping on nice, clean sheets that night. Jeff, as usual, shared his resistance to the idea of changing the sheets. Being tired and hormonal, I couldn't take it anymore and burst into tears. Over sheets. It was one of those situations in which you're crying about something, but at the same time you know it's absolutely ridiculous. So naturally I start laughing while I'm crying. Anyway, it was effective, because we got the damn sheets changed.

3. Infant carrier car seats. After yesterday's ob appointment, I dragged Jeff to the baby supply store to check  out infant car seats. I hated Doug's with the fire of 1000 suns. It was heavy, clunky, awkward. My legs looked like bananas gone bad they were so bruised from the damn carrier knocking into them. I had seen these carriers when Doug was an infant with different shaped handles that allowed the parent schlepping the baby to hold the carrier in a more natural position. I don't know why, but no one seems to make them like that anymore. Anyway, the store had one model like this and the buckle was made out of plastic, not metal. We were disappointed. Then I started looking at all the carriers, trying to find one that weighed the least in the hopes that that would be helpful. They all weighed between 8 and 9 lbs. So, last night we dug out the old carrier and weighed it. It weighed 7.4 lbs. LESS than all the 'light weight models'. I burst into tears. It was like being told that the thing that felt like an Albatross around your neck was actually a Cardinal, so you should be grateful. The thing of it is is that because I have fibro, I tire easily. I get sore more easily and it takes longer to recover. So being told that the thing I already thought was unmanageable is actually lighter than any of the others was a bit crushing.

Jeff managed to calm me down. Part of it was that I was started to get sick when Doug was two months old, and it was just so hard to leave the house. He reminded me that this time we know what we're dealing with so I can get the meds to treat my fibro faster this time. He also reminded me that it took me a while to realize that I'd save energy by getting a combo diaper bag purse instead of carrying one of each. I have my eye on a Vera baby bag that also converts into a backpack. I'm also thinking of getting one of those snap and go dealie strollers for the car seat. So I have options, we just need to be creative about them.

I can't wait, and I'm sure Jeff agrees, for this hormonal roller coaster to be over!

Ps, Sarah Mclachlan, if I see your face on tv, consider the channel being switched!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doug and Herbert

     Doug and Herbert go waaay back. I got the duck that I named Herbert at Doug's baby shower; he was a gift from my mother. He's a soft, small toy, so we gave him to Doug when he was pretty small. Quickly, Herbert became THE lovey. Which was great and all, except that the manufacturer doesn't make him anymore. The internet has been scoured by multiple people in this family, but to no avail. Because of that, Herbert is a bit of a shut in. He's not allowed to leave the house unless we go on vacation. That hasn't stopped Dug from loving him though.

    Doug's affection for Herbert is rather intense at times. I have to say, I love that relationship (except at bedtimes when we can't find Herbert. Then it really sucks). Herbert has gone from only being a source of comfort to a companion for adventure, like Calvin's Hobbes. And boy, do they have adventures.

I think here they might be in a hot air balloon. Or a train. Who knows? When Doug is playing by himself, Herbert is his favorite buddy.

      Another interesting aspect of the Doug/Herbert relationship is that Doug uses it to pretend about things that are concerning or upsetting to him (I feel like Mr. Rogers would give him a gold star here). Last week Doug overheard me scheduling his flu shot and promptly freaked out. A while later, Jeff came in and told me that Doug had gotten his doctor kit out and that Herbert had received quite a few flu shots. In the middle of the night when there's a thunder storm, Doug comes into our bed not because he's scared of the thunder, but because Herbert is.

   Herbert also brings out Doug's nurturing side. He takes care and cuddles Herbert when he's 'sick'. He sings to him and reads Herbert stories when it's time for Herbert to go to bed. Lately, Doug has been telling me stories of  when he was 'pregnant with Herbert' (there's so many things wrong with that statement, that I just let him have it).

   I will be very sad when Herbert's reign is over. I don't know how long we have, but I'm going to enjoy watching. Doug is very excited to help pick out a lovely for the new baby, he understands how important that relationship can be. I will always be grateful for Herbert. But we are totally buying three of the same lovey for the new baby.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Popcorn Reading List

The other day I was lounging on our couch in the basement, watching Doug and Jeff play. Directly across from me are two large bookcases. As they played, I looked at some of my favorite books on the shelves. So many books, some I haven't re-read in quite a while.  As I looked over the books, I was realizing the books had a few things in common. Being physical books, they were all purchased prior to Doug's birth. And while most of these books wouldn't be considered high literature, they were all decent reads, meaty, thick books with complex characters and plots. I'm sure many of them have been on the NY Times best seller lists, etc.

Then I began to think about the kinds of books on my Kindle. Sure, there are a few books like that, but not as many as I'd like and certainly not too many after Doug was born. I still read regularly. I will admit my reading took a hit during the first trimester when I was exhausted (making up for it in the bathroom though, I think).

As I began to ponder the issue and review what I've been reading in the past year, I realized that my reading selections tend to be books that are easily consumable. Books that are satisfying but have no intellectual value, like popcorn for your brain, delicious, but not nutritional. Last winter/spring I began reading romance books, for something to read. The characters aren't deep, the plot is always predictable and my brain doesn't have to do too much work. Easy for a tired brain. I probably didn't read much more than half a dozen of these books before I got tired of them and moved on.

I don't remember exactly how I stumbled into the next books I began reading, but it was sometime late last spring. To date, I've read probably close to a dozen Star Trek the Next Generation books. And by read, I mean devour. For a while I was confused by this new trend of mine. I'm not really a sci-fi reader. But then I realized it wasn't too difficult for my poor brain. It was drawing on an established list of characters with predictable reactions. The plots were much more involved than the romance novels and funnier, and more enjoyable.  For a while I was unhappy with this new literary fetish of mine, but then I realized it doesn't matter, I'm reading and it's enjoyable.

I did join a book club recently and I am sprinkling more 'literary' books into my reading. But right now, there's a crisis the Enterprise is facing, and I don't know if the crew will be able to save the day....

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

There Are No Merit Badges For Motherhood

       There are no merit badges for mothering. Really, there aren't. Unless there's some super secret underground Mommy Cult that I don't know about, and if there is, thank God I don't know about it.

       The other day I read the most ridiculous article about a drug free birth (I refuse to call it 'natural childbirth'). I don't think the idea of a drug free birth is ridiculous, indeed to each her own. It was the tone of the article that rankled. Three out of the four reasons the author gave that drug free birth was superior were plausible. Not ironclad reasons or only found in natural childbirth, but possible. Her fourth reason that drug free childbirth was 'awesome' was that it afforded the mom 'bragging rights'. Really? If you're bragging about something, you clearly feel superior to someone. If you feel superior about a drug free birth than you are suggesting that any other kind of birth is inferior. All kinds of things happen in a delivery room and the best laid plans can go to hell in a matter of minutes, trust me, Doug was an emergency c-section. The point is that my doctor and I made the best plan we could based on the situation at hand to get Doug out ALIVE. That is the goal of any birth.  A healthy mother and child. Period. Once Doug was born, I only felt insane relief and gratitude that he was alive. That's it. No regrets. I did not get a 'I Survived An Emergency C-Section' badge.

     Mothers beat up on each other for a variety of other reasons too. You have your breastfeeders who look down on formula feeders (and vice versa). Your stay-at-home moms who look down on those who work. Your cloth diaperers who radiate smugness to those who use disposables. The list can go on and on, wherever there are different parenting paths to take, there will always be tension.

    I'm going to let you in on a little secret here: Moms are making the best choices for themselves and their children that they can. Some mom's can't breastfeed. Some moms need medication. Some moms just plain don't want to. Some moms can't afford to stay at home. Some moms (gasp) love their careers. And I think we can all agree that people who cloth diaper are insane. Just kidding.

   No college is going to ask your kid how they were born. If they were bottle or breast fed. If they had a stay-at-home parent. Why? It doesn't matter by the time they're that age. You've already done a fabulous job of raising the child. So can we please stop tearing each other down for the choices we make?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Against the Grain

We've made some difficult decisions lately. I won't get into that here, but I'll only say that we did what we believed was right for our family. As I was considering our options this week, I began to remember some of the times I've had to make difficult decisions and the consequences of doing what I believe to be right. The following is one of my all time favorite stories.

Picture it:  April Fools day at a Catholic all girls school, a group of second semester freshmen going to their after lunch English class taught by a woman who was rumored to throw freshmen out the window. I'm pretty sure she never had a parking spot. She chose to park her broom in the closet in her room. Anyway, the girls got there early, as freshmen are wont to do. Some of them thought it would be absolutely hilarious to hide from the teacher in the near by stairwell. I am a fair judge of character, in my opinion, and I did not believe this teacher would be amused in the slightest. Not. At. All. Anyway, the girls decided to go and hide and I dithered a moment before deciding to go sit down in the classroom. I knew the teacher wouldn't be amused and I decided I just didn't want any part of it. A few other girls were unsure about the prank, but ultimately decided to go along with the group. A few minutes later the teacher entered the room, she looked around and asked me if we had class or not. I said or squeaked "yes". She asked me if I knew where my classmates went and I said no (I actually didn't know, the location of the staircase was picked before I got to the group). So she stormed off looking for the class. She found them very quickly and as I predicted, she was pretty pissed.

That incident became rather notorious. I imagine she is still telling freshmen about this group of girls that hid from her.

I've never been one to "just go along with the group".  It goes against the grain of my character.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Then & Now

      I always seem to have these profound personal revelations while we're at the Day Out with Thomas. Last year's revelation was about us being a family of only three. I decided that it would be ok if we never had another child. I've mostly made peace with that possibility. This year as we were waiting for our picture with Sir Topham Hatt, I was thinking about last year's picture. It's on my desk, so I see it regularly. I was wondering how much Jeff and I had changed since last year.

This is 2013's pic:

This is 2014, roughly a year later:

Jeff apparently really likes that shirt. I admit, the difference looks more dramatic with Jeff. He's lost 40 lbs since the first picture. I've lost nearly 30. Those jeans I'm wearing in the second picture are three sizes smaller, and the shirt is two sizes smaller. Jeff has yet to commit to buying new clothes. He did relent and let me buy him some new belts last summer. Sir Topham Hatt looks the same. 

I didn't really realize how much we've lost until I looked at these photos. The other night we went through our clothes. Many of my dresses and skirts had to be tossed into the donate piles because they were so big, all except my black dresses*. It was very freeing to toss (read: donate) so much stuff. Our closets are nice and roomy now. 

I have to admit this has been so much easier since we've done it together. We support and encourage each other. We help each other to make better food choices. And to split not so great food choices. We've also watched a lot of Star Trek together while riding our exercise bike. It's a chore sometimes, but most of the time it's fun. 

I'm looking forward to next year's picture with Sir Topham Hatt. 

*I have a thing about black dresses. I've saved them in case I ever do actually get pregnant and need to go to a funeral. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, I went to two funerals and a wedding while I was pregnant with Doug. It could happen. And I'm not shelling out cash for a maternity dress. Highway robbery! End of aside

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Village

So Doug's been going to preschool at a local county's Parks and Recs program. He started in September for two days a week and has loved it. Half way through the spring he was going to age out of his class. Enrollment is done on a six week basis, it's a huge pain in the butt. So if we wanted him to continue, we'd have to put him in the next class up. We debated for a while about whether or not we wanted him to continue, but last week I realized that he really enjoys it and gets a lot out of it, so we enrolled him for six weeks in the next class.

One of the reasons Doug loved his class is because he adores his teacher, Ms. Beth. She's a maternal sort of woman and gets Doug pretty well. He can be some what quirky about things like finger paint. Any time we looked at preschool options for next year, Doug would ask, "Is this Ms. Beth's class?". So I was more than comfortable in letting him finish the year out with her.

We got to his first class of the new session this morning only to find out that our beloved Ms. Beth is not the teacher. I was instantly panicked, "How will Doug deal with this? Is he going to hate it?". I had promised Ms. Beth and she was not here. Luckily, the teacher's assistant was the same for both classes and Doug was comfortable with her. He seemed to be fairly calm, so I left.

I was so disappointed by this switch that I cried a bit in the car (ok, partly monthly hormones, but still). Aside from Doug's disappointment, I couldn't figure out why this was upsetting me so much. As I drove to get a much needed cup of coffee, it dawned on me. Ms. Beth has been the only stranger so far that I've entrusted Doug to. And I think that set up a bond between the three of us. Sure, Doug goes to his own Sunday school class and plays in the church nursery, but that's different. I know those women and so does Doug. Plus, I'm usually right nextdoor or down the hall. No big deal. But Ms. Beth was the first person I'd left my baby with for a few hours at a time. It was hard the first time and I think she helped us both through that transition.

Of course Doug was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing when I picked him up. I peeked in on him and saw him running a giraffe across the floor, clearly not a tortured soul. He was excited that he now gets to play on the 'big kid's playground'.

In retrospect, it was kind of a good lesson for him. He is blessed to have so many, wonderful and amazing people in his village. And sometimes those people move on. But they still helped a bit to make you who you are.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NFL Sundays

Once upon a time, I used to pity people who had to watch football games on Sundays. It takes at least a three hour chunk out of your weekend, you need to plan around it. And Monday night games? Be prepared to be exhausted Tuesday morning. And for what? To watch a bunch of overpaid men-children throw a ball and to see countless beer and car commercials? Seems ridiculous! 

That started changing for us last season. We had invited my Grandma over for dinner. Unbeknownst to me, it was the last game of the Skin's regular season. It may have been make or break for them to get into the play-offs (probably). Anyway, I realized that I was going to have to plan dinner around the game, that is unless I wanted to be written out of her will. So we did just that, I managed to time dinner for half time, and we recorded the game on our dvr, just in case. Doug loved it. He snuggled up with my Grandma on our couch and was riveted by the game. The next weekend, he was asking if we could watch some more football, so we watched the Redskins playoff game (Doug was seriously concerned about RGIII, watching him getting hurt and all). And then the next weekend he wanted to watch more football. The Redskins having been eliminated we decided to watch the Baltimore Ravens, and we watched them all the way to the superbowl. 

In the off season, we decided that we would primarily root for the Baltimore Ravens. Our county is after all a suburb of Baltimore rather than Washington. It also seemed fair. Jeff's family roots for the Kansas City Chiefs and mine for the Redskins. This seemed like a fair compromise, not favoring one family over the other. 

We had a nice time watching football as a family this season. We had some very relaxing Sundays. We'd get up and go to Sunday school and church and then come home and have lunch and watch the Ravens. No running around to the store or other errands. Just the three of us cheering on the Ravens and sometimes the Chiefs together. 

I learned a lot about football this year and grew to really like it. People who have known me most of my life now look at me like I have three heads when I start to talk about football. But it is an interesting game, not unlike chess in many ways. I am apparently also very loud when I watch football. On more than one occasion Doug has told me to stop yelling. I still have no idea what the point of an onside kick is though. 

I'm looking forward to watching the Super Bowl, just the three of us on the couch , with some yummy snacks. 

Maybe next year it'll be the Ravens or Chief's year.

One of the few times a Chiefs game was broadcast in our area. We got to watch the Chiefs and the Ravens back to back this day.