Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pumping mom survival guide - Tip number 3

I cannot emphasize this one enough folks!

Buy the absolute best pump you can afford! I can personally recommend the Medela Pump In Style. It has been a fantastic workhorse through two kids. Others I know speak very highly of the Ameda Purely Yours. If you spend any time researching breastpumps, you will see that there are fabulous pumps and there are awful pumps. Please don't try to stint on your pump. A bad pump will not extract milk well and can even hurt you. A good one will do the job while protecting your breasts from injury. This is critial if you want to maintain a productive breastfeeding relationship.


S. did not get a (real) horse and cow for Christmas

She seemed to be delighted with what she did receive, however. Some little gems below:

S. (hugging pillow close to her chest): A Thomas pillow. I haven't had one of these for years, and years, and years. I looooove it.

Me: I don't think you were alive years, and years, and years ago.

S.: I just looooove it.

S. (crawling around on the floor playing with a new Thomas the Tank Engine bridge and water tower): Santa brought me a Thomas bridge. Just what I asked for. I loooooove it. (For the record, so far as I know, she never asked Santa for anything Thomas-related)

S. (playing with a new plastic horse): His name is Frisky. He's a horse and I loooove him.

S.: Santa left candy canes on the tree? I looooove them.

Me: Look, we have red raspberry flavored ones and brown cinnamon flavored ones.

S.: I loooove cinnamon and I loooooove raspberry.

I have no idea where all this effusiveness has come from. It leaves me wondering if we have a future drama queen on our hands. How did the most laidback baby in the known universe turn into this, this three year old?!?!


Monday, December 26, 2005

Well duh!

You ever have 'duh!' moments? I get them all the time. Now that I have kids, I blame them on being sleep deprived and otherwise distracted. My latest revolves around that awfully addictive Sudoku game. Every so often, I will load a game board and find that I can't type in the number '1' for any of the cells. Do you know how many times I have printed out the puzzle in order to complete it before I finally realized all you have to do is hold your mouse button down and roll down to the number '1'? I won't tell you, but I finally figured this out today after playing this game for a couple of months now.

Sheesh (insert eye rolling icon that I could include if I weren't so clueless).


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pumping mom survival guide - Tip Number 2

This tip applies to data, family photos and most everything else that is valuable to you and could be lost/destroyed.

Have backups! If you've bought a nice shiny pump with one complete set of pumping aparatus, buy a 2nd, or better yet 3rd or 4th set. Valves have a nasty habit of disappearing or ripping. Bits and pieces of plastic do crack from time to time. When those minor catastrophes happen, you will be tough out of luck (and miserable from engorgement) if you don't have backups. The other positive to having additional copies is being able to skip a wash day from time to time.

When I pumped for S., I had two sets. Now that I'm 10 months into this little project with L., I actually have 4 sets plus a manual hand pump for just in case. It may seem expensive, but when you calculate how much formula runs compared to these little lifesavers, you still come out ahead. Heck, we bought a pump, bottles and a deep freeze for what we didn't spend on formula for S.


Friday, December 23, 2005

All S. wants for Christmas . . .

So for the past 8 months or so S. has been galloping around the house declaring she is a little blue horse. Amusing, but I wonder where she came up with that idea. She has also been visiting Grandma and Grandpa and feeding bread to the calf they've stowed away in their backyard. Now onto the latest Santa Claus conversation:

Me: What do you want Santa Claus to bring you, S.?

S.: A horse. . . and a cow!

Me: I don't think Santa will have enough room on his sleigh for those. Is there something else he can bring you?

S.: He can tie them up behind his sleigh.

Me: Where could we keep a horse and a cow, S.? Our yard is too small for animals that big.

S.: They can stay in my room.

Me: They would be very unhappy cooped up in a small room like that.

S.: Why?

Me: Because cows and horses need lots of room to run and lots of grass to eat.

S.: OK.

Me (relieved at only one 'Why?'): So what do you want Santa to bring you?

S.: A horse and a cow.

Me: I'm telling Santa you can't have those. We don't have enough yard for a horse or a cow. Wouldn't you rather have a telescope?

S.: You and daddy can have the telescope.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

A magnificently unsophisticated office Christmas party

Back in my graduate school days, I interviewed with major consulting firms. They wined and dined me as a prospective employee. I was flown to corporate headquarters and lodged in first class hotels. Grueling interviewing sessions were followed by drinks and dinner. When I bothered to envision office Christmas parties, I imagined sophisticated evenings out, cocktails and elegant dining. All that glamor came with a significant price tag, though. Massive amounts of over time was a given, extensive travel was mandatory, and regular schmoozing a job requirement. While acceptable in small doses, those three things would have put a real kink in my plan to have a full and fulfilling life that did not revolve around the office, so I bowed out. I'm also the kind of gal who chooses comfort over style 99.44% of the time.

I eventually stumbled my way into a position with my current employer. We are corporate, but we cater to a primarily conservative membership base. That membership base colors everything about our company's corporate culture, right down to our Christmas parties. Today, we were at our unsophisticated best, and I loved it.

This morning began with Christmas caroling in the main lobby. One of our VP's, who is an exquisite pianist, set up with a rather cheesy synthesizer just inside the main doors. Twenty to thirty of my co-workers milled around in front of the elevators with paperback songbooks and sang a wide range of Christmas carols for about half an hour. They took turns barking out song requests that ranged the gamut from Rudolph to Silent Night. They were not the best-sounding choir, but their voices rang out through the entire building with unselfconscious joy and merriment.

Lunch was provided by the company and consisted of brisket and sausage smoked by employees and potato salad, cole slaw and tossed salad. Since no bar-b-que would be complete without bread, pickles and onions, we had those as well. Dessert was apple pie, peach cobbler or ice cream sundaes. Definitely down-home cooking and very delicious! They even had a four man band playing and singing Christmas songs with a honkytonk flair while we ate. We even had drawings (in which I won a little tree that died some weeks ago and shed little leaves and branches through the entire trip back up to my office).

It was great fun with the most senior VP's sitting down with the most junior of clerks. All 400+ employees mingled together, enjoying each other's company and the boisterous playings of the honkytonk Christmas band. There was no alcohol, but people still managed to have a good time.

The diehards who thought the festivities were incomplete set up a tailgate party in the parking lot after the office closed early at 2:30 this afternoon. Mr. W. and I have never been a part of those festivities, but they occur every year, and we will see the tailgaters again following the office New Years early close. Some traditions just never die.

I am oddly proud to work with so many people who are not ashamed to be precisely what they are. Very few of my co-workers bother to waste time putting on sophisticated airs, and that suits me just fine.

Merry Christmas, ya'll.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Pumping mom survival guide - Tip Number 1

With the exception of the tubing, every washable part of the Medela Pump In Style (here) can be sent through the dishwasher.

1. Buy dishwasher baskets with lids like these. I stay away from the plastic coated metal ones since the coating tends to crack and rust leaks all over the place. Separate all non-bottle pieces and place them in the baskets, making sure that the lids close securely.

2. For the little valve thingies, I use a tea ball like this one. Place the little white valve flappy thingies in the tea ball and hook it to the dishwasher basket. Voila! No need to worry about losing and/or tearing them during washing.

I had been pumping for S. 3 or 4 months before I figured out the above. Using the dishwasher opened up a lot more free time for me in the evenings. Plus, I quit losing the little white valve flappy thingies.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Well that would explain it

Note to self: A child who seems perfectly healthy (no fever, normal levels of energy, eating like a horse, perky enough to drive big sister bananas) but who cries when it's time to lay down and go to sleep might, just might, have double ear infections. Sheesh, she never even tugged at her ears.

I'm now the only person in the family not on antibiotics. This probably means that everybody will start feeling great on Christmas, and I will then come down with strep-flu-ear infection deathlike illness combo.

The joys of parenting.


Monday, December 19, 2005

About to crash and burn

You know when I posted that I would give up every cent in my checking account for a good night's sleep? I was not kidding. I'm now on day 8 of attempting to operate on somewhere close to 4 hours of sleep.

L. was a champion sleeper. Going down at eight and sleeping until 6 was her normal routine. And such a lovely routine it was. Unfortunately that routine has been thoroughly trashed and replaced with the following (encore performances nightly for the past week):

Down at 9:00
Up at 12 AM
Down at 1:30
Up at 3:30
Down at 4
Up at 6:15

This morning's 3:30 performance prompted a right terrible snit and not-so-mild temper tantrum (from me, not L.). L. decided to skip the whole 'Down at 1:30' step this morning, and I completely lost my temper with the hapless diaper I was going to place on her wriggly bottom. Mr. W. woke from a snore-filled slumber to the sounds of L. grumping on our bed while I took the above-mentioned diaper and beat the crap out of my pillow. It was either let off some steam or explode, so I chose the logical target for my frustrations and pummeled the oh so comfy pillow that was sitting there mocking my sleeplessness.

Sensing that I really was at my breaking point, Mr. W. took L. for another half hour while I got myself back under control (he had already taken close to 2 hours worth of L. care by that time). L. continued to resist sleep until around 3:50 this morning when I gave up. Oddly enough, once I plopped her in her crib with a couple of toys, she sacked out and bought me an hour or so sleep before it was time to get up and start my day for real.

M.W. - My name is Wheezer, and I'm a pillow-abuser.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

For L. at 10 months old

Ten months ago today L., you and I nearly lost everything. I don't like to think about the could-have-beens, but occasionally, out of the blue, my breath catches on the memory of what did and what could have happened at your birth. Like tonight when I was holding you and rocking you to sleep, I looked down in your drowsy face and felt awed by our connection and then slammed with a could-have-been. I wondered how your father would have fared if one or both of us had been lost.

I guess I could put down what precisely happened, eh?

One week after your due date, I was admitted to the hospital for an induction. You had been flipping back and forth out of breech position. Once you had your head back down, we scheduled an induction pronto. My other choice was to wait to go into labor and probably wind up with a c-section since none of the doctors around here will deliver a breech baby vaginally. I thought an induced labor was a better choice than a c-section (and still do). After several hours of pitocin, it was time for you to be born. (This is where things get fuzzy for me.)

Apparently, you decided your umbilical cord made a good necklace. The doctor got that untangled, and you were born reasonably pink and squawking. As if that weren't alarming enough, it turned out the placenta that kept you alive had some undiagnosed problems. It came with a huge gush of blood even before the doctor finished cutting your cord. As if that weren't enough, my blood pressure fell through the floor (don't know how much was because of the epidural and how much was because I hemorrhaged like crazy). I have fuzzy memories of my blood pressure being read every 5 minutes and being nervous when it got down to something like 50/30. I do have vivid memories yelling at the medical staff that I wanted my baby right now and nobody was paying me any attention. I finally yelled at your dad (who was understandably freaked) that if I couldn't be with you, the very least he could do was go take a look and tell me that you were indeed a girl.

I wasn't the least bit frightened when all the craziness happened at your birth. I was too busy being mad that a) the epidural DID NOT WORK and b) nobody would give me my baby. My biggest fear was that I couldn't fake it well enough with our doctor to get out of having a blood transfusion. Now that we are ten months out from the experience, I've lost a lot of my anger. I'm very thankful that the only real repercussions were an extra night in a miserable hospital and the occasional moments that take my breath away when one of those 'what-ifs' pop into my head.

I know others who were not so lucky. Their undiagnosed placental problems and umbilical cord issues led to critical oxygen deprivation for their babies. Their hemorrhages led to emergency hysterectomies and massive blood transfusions. It is sobering to think of them.


Every penny in my checking account. . .

What I would pay if it would guarantee me a worry-free solid eight hours' worth of sleep tonight.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

To S. at 44 months old

You are now 44 months old, just 1/3 of a year away from turning 4. I can hardly believe how quickly your fourth birthday is coming and how much you have impacted my life. Once you were born, I started to take stories of child abuse personally. Once you were born, I started noticing children around me, watching to make sure none of them were lost. Once you were born, I found new courage I never thought I would have. Who would have thought one little baby could do so much?

Here you are on the cusp of leaving toddlerhood. Yes, you are still very good at being three with all the tantrums, meltdowns and bouts of hysteria that entails. You are also asking endless streams of questions and developing a surprisingly large streak of empathy. I feel teary when you mention the hurricane victims in your prayers at night and before eating. Much of the time, you end your prayers with, 'And God bless the people hurt by the hurricane. Amen.' Your understanding that people are still hurting from having lost their homes and livelihoods touches me deeply and is an example many adults should follow. Despite the fact that the 'boot' for my broken foot was tossed aside several months ago, you still ask me regularly how my hurt foot is doing.

I love you, S.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Polar Express stress

Mr. W. recently bought and the Wheezer family recently watched the movie The Polar Express. It's official. Gone are the days I can just watch a Christmas-themed movie without stewing over the parenting implications. This is S.'s first year to really get into the whole Christmas/Santa Claus thing, and it's leaving me with an unanticipated dilemma.

How much should a child believe in Santa Claus?

I love the magic and mystery of Santa, but I also want to protect my little girl. How can she believe the jolly old elf is a magical part of Christmas and yet know that she must never go anywhere with him? How can she enjoy the fun and excitement of Santa's north pole and yet maintain the level of cynicism required to protect herself? Reality and fantasy are still entangled in her 3.5 year old mind, and that scares me. I want her innocent, and I want her suspicious. How much is too much of which?

All I know is that I started out with too much innocence and wound up with too much suspicion and cynicism after an unfortunate incident with a pedophile. Instead of thoroughly enjoying an extremely well-made movie, I found myself almost crying through it nearly sick with anxiety about the lessons S. could be learning from it concerning going off with strangers. The same lessons Mr. W. and I work so hard to un-teach her while protecting her childhood innocence as best we can. There are days when being the mommy is unbelievably terrifying. The day we watched The Polar Express was one of them.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Whatcha got in the bag?

I've mentioned before that I'm a nursing mom and express milk during the day at work. This fact doesn't embarrass me in the least. It does however give some of the men I work with the willies, so I try to be a little discreet about my pumping sessions. Fortunately, I have an office with a door and a lock, so I can pump without really disrupting my or anybody else's day (I do my best e-mailing while hooked up to ole Bess).

It's funny the wide range of reactions I get from male co-workers/supervisors when they find out I pump milk for my baby each day. My current boss has 10 kids (yes t-e-n), and nothing phases him. He has even cracked the occasional joke and mentioned on a couple of occasions how much his wife hated pumping during the short while one of their children had to stay in the hospital. My previous boss is a confirmed bachelor and blushed every time the topic ever came up.

The funniest reactions I get are from men who have asked just one too many questions. The most priceless was from the president of the Toastmasters club I belong to. Our meetings are scheduled during lunch, which is prime pump time. For six months or so, while I was getting into a good pump routine and building up a freezer stash, I skipped all Toastmasters meetings. Mr. President stopped by my office and asked why I wasn't participating anymore, so I told him. I don't think he really wanted to know after all since he turned several shades of magenta and excused himself very quickly. Ah well, people should be careful when asking personal questions, don't you know.

My personal favorite scenarios, though, are the questions I get from men wanting to know why I'm carrying my lunch bag around (and they say women are nosy?). These questions pop up when I'm carrying the milk cooler to the restroom for part rinsing or down to our cafeteria to get more ice. I imagine the 20 different shades of red they would turn if they knew the truth, smile and usually respond with, 'A girl does have to eat.' I have embarrassed a couple of people by saying it's milk for my baby and letting them do the math.

October 2002, I went on my first post-baby business trip. We turned it into a little family vacation, so Mr. W. and S. came along as well. Since I was going to be in day-long meetings, I brought ole Bess with me so I could pump, and Mr. W. could sightsee with six-month-old S. during the day. We flew and I carried old Bess on the plane with me. The first security guy eyed me suspiciously and demanded I explain what that piece of electrical equipment was. When I told him it was a breastpump used to express milk for my baby, he immediately turned bright purple. His eyes started darting back and forth and sweat formed between his eyebrows. He snatched his hands away from the bag like I announced it was contaminated with the plague and waved me on through security. Coming back through security, I was asked the same question and eyed with deep suspicion. Once I explained to security guy #2 what I was carrying, he immediately broke into a big smile and started asking all kinds of questions. Turned out he had heard of breastpumps and now here I was presenting him with his very first breastpump experience.

So men, next time you ask a gal, 'Whatcha got in the bag?' Be prepared. You may get a little more than you bargain for.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

I loved, loved, loved this movie! The animation was superb, the film true to the spirit of the book and the young actors were excellent. The action parts were a little intense for very young children. Despite the fact that there were a couple of killing scenes and a great battle, it was pretty bloodless. All in all a great movie, and I look forward to it coming out on DVD.

By the way, don't jump up and leave your seat immediately after the credits start. I know, I know, after 2.5 hours you're really going to be yearning for the restroom. However, there is a final scene between Lucy and the Professor shortly after the credits begin.


Jargon, jargon everywhere and not a drop of communication

As a member of the corporate sector, I sometimes feel like I'm stuck in an episode of Star Trek or at the very least talking to a car mechanic. Honestly, I'm trying to figure out what on earth this sentence means: The goal is to reduce risk and provide the lowest possible TCO. What?!?! The memo only has 13 phrases and sentences. I'm scratching my head over 7 of them.

Maybe I need to get into the jargon business...

We'll have the TBD on the TBA when the STPD has been re-initialized.

The CRP has HT the FN with new enterprise-wide vigor.

Maybe I should start answering these memos in German. Ich versteh Sie nicht. Sprechen Sie Englisch?


Flu Shot Good, Flu Bad

'Tis the season when parents of young and/or asthmatic children everywhere drag their screaming bundles of joy in for flu shots. What a joy and a delight knowing that I, as a parent, am doing everything in my power to ensure reasonably good health during flu season. Well at least I'm hoping we don't all come down with the flu together. Or rather, if they do come down with the flu, Mr. W. and I can comfort each other with the knowledge that we did our best.

I have had one close encounter with the REAL flu. I'm not talking about those bugs where you are sick for a day or two, but then get back to normal within a week or two. I'm talking about the one minute you're fine and the next you're slammed with a 103 degree fever, sprawled on the floor hoping the world will stop spinning, afraid to pick up your kid because you may pass out on her, and takes a month to recover flu. I also managed to come down with strep throat at the same time. Do you know how difficult it is to swallow antibiotics while trying not to yak and with your throat so swollen you're not sure how well you can breathe? It's up there with changing a flippy-floppy nine-month old's slimy-poopy diaper while containing the poop to diaper, trash bag and wipes. In other words, darn difficult.

All to reinforce that I absolutely do not want my babies to endure that misery, so I push for the flu shots. Since S. is asthmatic and L. is 10 months old, I have added incentive to vaccinate. So yesterday morning, I made appointments to see the vaccination nurse, grabbed the kiddos from daycare and headed off to the clinic for their shots.

Only after I had S. securely buckled in her carseat did I break the news that we were going to the doctor's office for shots. She handled it with usual 3 year old vigor and asked 'Why?' about every 4.7 seconds for the twenty minutes it took to drive to the clinic. We settled down in the waiting room where S. counted the blue ornaments, the red ornaments, the stars and the drums on the lobby Christmas tree. My favorite nurse called us back and set us up in an examining room where I filled out paperwork that authorized the vaccinations and promised that neither kid was sick with the flu at that time. Halfway through the paperwork, S. looked at me and said, 'My throat hurts.'

'Ha ha, you little stinker,' I thought, 'you are not getting out of this flu shot.'

I finished the paperwork, read a story about some kid named Alexander who wasted a lot of money on bandaids 3 times, when S. announced, 'Momma, my throat hurts.'

'Okay, S. open wide and look at the ceiling...' There it was, in all its brilliant red glory, a pair of tonsils about 3 times normal size and covered in puss pockets. I felt around on her neck thinking, it's just the sinus drainage causing that appearance, and those nodes were swollen.

The nurse came back to administer the vaccines. When I told her what was up, she went ahead and vaccinated L. (who didn't even squawk, I'm so proud) and scheduled a work-in appointment with our doctor within that hour. Trying to convince myself that S. wasn't really sick, I told the nurse and the doctor I thought she might be faking in order to get out of a flu shot.

She wasn't.

Now S. gets to spend the day at Grandma and Grandpa's while I get to wallow in the guilties for having doubted my precious daughter. Sheesh, did I learn NOTHING from Chicken Little after retellinging it something like 346 times?


Friday, December 09, 2005

Why Mrs. Wheezer?

I am very reluctant to use my real name on the internet. Call me paranoid (or not, I really don't care), but I don't want every Tom, Dick and Jane out there knowing precisely what I'm called. I guess I feel there is power in a name. I also don't want to make it too easy on stalkers to find me.

Anyway, my dad bestowed the oh-so-lovely nickname 'Wheezer' on me shortly after he and Mom watched Steel Magnolias for the first time. My adorable younger brother ensured the nickname would never die. There is a character named Ouiser (pronounced 'wheeza') in that movie. Ouiser is consistently and emphatically grumpy (Ouiser: I'm not crazy, I've just been a very bad mood for the last 40 years!). She grows tomatoes that she doesn't eat and wears big, floppy hats because 'that's what old Southern women do.' [For more great quotes, go here.] My real first name bears an unfortunate resemblance to Ouiser, and the male members of my family embraced that coincidence with perfect glee.

After years of 'Hey, Wheezer, what's up?' from Dad and little bro, I am embracing my 'Ouiserness.' Yes, I am crabby at times. Yes, I am a southerner at heart. Yes, I love dogs. Yes, I am a bit eccentric and don't spend too much time trying to hide my flaws. And yes, I have broken more than my fair share of eggs. Besides, when you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The nickname's been with me for 15 years, so I don't think it's going to go away anytime soon.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Very Muppet Birthday

I celebrate the 9th anniversary of my 25th birthday today, and so far it's been a pretty good birthday. Mr. W. and S. sang 'Happy Birthday' to me twice this morning, my parents called me at work and sang 'Happy Birthday' (boy am I glad I didn't have them on speaker phone!), and I have been given gifts of chocolate and Muppets (stamps and movie). Tonight after work, we will pick up takeout on the way home and plunk the family down in front of the tube to watch that great Jim Henson classic, The Muppet Movie.

It is a little-known tidbit about me that when I was in high school, I wanted to go to college to study electrical engineering, and become a muppeteer. Seriously! I was on church-sponsored puppet teams for years before going to college and joining the Baptist Student Union's puppet team. I even went so far as to take Calculus I my first semester with the intention of pursuing an engineering degree. It's a long, complicated road I traveled to go from that dream to my current reality. I don't regret abandoning that dream, but I do sometimes wonder what if.

Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoy muppet artistry. I was terribly disappointed when Muppets Tonight floundered, but I am loving S.'s current appreciation for Sesame Street. Heck, I can even tolerate brief snippets of Elmo's World.


Added 12/13 - My folks contributed to Muppet Madness by sending me the first season of The Muppet Show on DVD. I'm in Kermit heaven.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Oh my aching . . . er back

Only 2 hours and 45 minutes before I am home and can relieve the pressure.

I am a lactating mom who works outside the home on a fulltime basis. This means I hook myself up to a really ridiculous machine known as a breastpump and express milk a couple of times a day. Ordinarily I leave my pump in the office since I have a real loathing of pumping and would not dream of voluntarily subjecting myself to the nasty thing when I have a perfectly warm, cuddly baby who much prefers milk straight from the source rather than from a bottle. However, as was noted in on my day off, I was home on Friday sans kiddos.

Knowing that I would need to express milk on Friday, I took my pump home with me. Unfortunately I forgot all about that little tidbit when packing up the minivan this morning. My pump is sitting all alone in my house, and I am beginning to resemble some variation of Betty Boop or Barbie. As my bustline increases through the day, my back and other parts become achier and achier. As luck would have it, I am wearing a sweater that ordinarily shows the teensiest, tiniest bit of cleavage. Now that my cup-size is growing by the minute, it's showing quite a bit more than the teensiest, tinieset bit of cleavage.

The questions remain: Will I explode before I manage to get myself home? Will I eventually tip over as I become more and more top-heavy? Will L. even be able to latch on as engorged as I am? Will my supply be negatively affected? Will this hiatus wind up causing a plugged duct? Inquiring minds wait to find out.

As the countdown to my first-ever enthusiastic greeting for my pump continues, I am left sincerely hoping that L. refuses her third bottle today and will nurse like a glutton when I pick her up.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Taking the day off

Mr. W. and I took today off, completely off. We send S. to grandma and grandpa's, took L. into daycare, took vacation from work and spent three-quarters of the day being nothing more and nothing less than a couple. I cannot remember the last time we did such a thing, but I know we will do it again.

We went shopping. Not once did we have to make a super-fast run to a restroom with a three-year-old declaring, 'I have to go NOW!' There were no cramped nursing sessions in our mini-van. Not once did either of us have to bark at S. to quit pulling things off the shelves. We leisurely browsed the shelves looking for the best sales and did not knock a stroller into a single elaborate display. Lunch was a leisurely, peaceful event. We didn't play the 'Your Turn to Soothe the Baby While I Eat and Keep S. Under Control' game. We talked to each other. We ate from each other's plates. We had dessert.

It was lovely, simply lovely, spending time with my spouse. We focused on each other without the distraction of the kiddos. The girls add a wonderful dimension to our life together, but it was good to step outside the parenting world and rediscover that we still like each other.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Crappy office vent

How blooming difficult is it to use just the teensiest, tiniest bit of courtesy? Apparently, extremely.

My office is cursed with some unfortunate geography. Just outside my door, I have the following:
  • Fax machine
  • Photocopier
  • Printer
  • The Most Amazingly Loud Electric Stapler in the Known Universe
  • Document disposal bins
  • Conference room
  • Open area where people constantly chitchat about everything under the sun
  • One secretary
  • A second conference room just across from the secretary

As if that was bad enough, I share a wall with the ladies restroom. All day long I hear tap-tap-tapping of high heels on ceramic tile floor, a pause, a flush, more tapping, the paper towel dispenser and then the tap-tap-tapping of high heels as they exit the restroom. It's enough to make a gal lose her sleep-deprived mind.

Today, there is an all-morning meeting going on in the conference room. During the breaks, the meeting attendees (you guessed it) stand around gabbing right outside my office door. Can't they at least use their 'indoor voice' rather than the testosterone-induced 'mine is bigger than yours' bull moose bellowing? Apparently not.

Well, close the door, you may say. Unfortunately, I suffer from a little bit of claustrophobia, my office has no windows, and my shut-door tolerance is oh, about 20 minutes. Even with the door closed, those bull-moose voices travel right through my walls.

To quote the inimitable Charlie Brown, 'Argh!' I cannot believe I allowed them to promote me into this crappy little office only 2/3 the size of my previous (and did I mention no window?).

Honestly I'm not bitter (well, at least most of the time) and 80% of the time I can ignore the constant racket. I've also picked up some interesting office gossip while located in Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, it's days when loud meetings coincide with raging PMS that I feel my head will explode. Today, I'd rather change spaces with Mr. W. He may have a cubicle, but at least he gets some hints of daylight and backup when individuals become too loud.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mr. W. is a genius

On day 3 of the ceaseless Chicken Little blow-by-blow rerun, Mr. W. had a stroke of genius. Let's buy the book! I hope this is the answer to getting off our current merry-go-round of 'Tell me about the emergency.'


Sunday, November 27, 2005

How many days 'til Chicken Little is out on video?

Mr. W. and I arranged a babysitter for L. and took S. to see Chicken Little yesterday. I came to the movie mentally braced to a. remove S. if she became too scared, talkative or restless (she did eat half a pack of Sour Patch Kids) or b. scurry her to the potty and back. Oddly enough, S. sat through the entire movie without making much of a peep and didn't need to potty until after we returned home. Mr. W. and I walked out of the theater giving each other mental high-fives and congratulating ourselves on a fabulous first movie theater experience for a three year old.

We were walking through the parking lot back to our car when we first began to realize that this little visit to the theater would be the gift that kept on giving.

The conversation in the car on the way home ran something like this:

S.: Mommy, tell me about Chicken Little.

Me: What about Chicken Little.

S.: Tell me about the beginning of Chicken Little.

Me: Chicken LIttle was hit on the head with a piece of spaceship, and rang the schoolhouse bell so everyone would know something had happened.

S.: Why?

Me: Why what?

S.: Why the bell?

Me: He rang the bell because it was an emergency

S.: Why an emergency?

Me: Because it's not normal for spaceship parts to fall from the sky.

S.: Why the bell?

Me: Because it was an emergency. The bell was loud enough for everyone in town to hear.

S.: Why?

Me: (bringing out the big guns) Because those were the rules. When there is an emergency, Chicken Little knew he was supposed to ring the bell.

S.: Why?

Me: Daddy, don't you want to take it from here?

S.: No, I want Mommy!

Mr. W.: She's all yours (thanks a lot Mr. W.)

Me: Chicken little was playing under the oak tree when a piece of spaceship hit him on the head. He knew it was an emergency and rang the schoolhouse bell so everyone would know. People got really scared and did not drive safely. They had a bunch of accidents and even knocked down the water tower. Nobody believed Chicken Little and he was very sad.

S.: Why?

Me: Because they didn't see the spaceship piece.

S.: Why?

Me: Because it disappeared.

S.: Why?

Me: Because.

S.: Why?

Me: Because

S. : Tell me about the emergency.

Me: Chicken Little was playing under the tree...

S.: No, the OTHER emergency.

Me: Chicken Little and his friends were chased by aliens from the spaceship. They knew it was an emergency, so Chicken Little rang the bell again. The people came running, but still didn't see the spaceship. Chicken Little was sad when the people didn't believe him again.

S.: Why?

Me: Because it's sad when people won't believe you. That's why we always tell the truth.

S.: Why?

Me: Because lying is bad.

S.: Tell me about the emergency.

Me: Chicken Little was hit on the head by a piece of spaceship. He rang the bell on the schoolhouse because he knew it was an emergency. The people of the town were very upset and had a bunch of accidents. Nobody believed Chicken Little, and this made him sad.

S.: Tell me about the OTHER emergency.

...Well, you get the drift. She started up on the 'Tell me about the emergency' questioning process again on the way to and from church this morning. I may be pre-ordering and standing in line to get the first copy of Chicken Little when it comes out on DVD. Either that, or I'll just tape our next conversation and play it back to her over and over and over and over again.

I have been told that having a toddler who asks a lot of questions is a blessing. It means she's very smart. I'm beginning to think it just means she's perfected parent torturing techniques that can make grown women cry.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A little slice of heaven

Sitting and rocking, rocking, rocking.

Twenty pounds of snuggly warmth snoring gently on my shoulder.

Sitting and rocking, rocking, rocking.

The scent of baby shampoo intertwined with milk breath.

Sitting and rocking, rocking, rocking.

A restless stretch, belch and sigh of contentment.

Sitting and rocking, rocking, rocking.


Friday, November 25, 2005

S. gems on the road back home

In a closed Luby's parking lot on a portable potty:
  1. I need to go potty. I'm busy pushing my poopoo out.
  2. I'm going potty. I need some privacy, please.
  3. Whew! That's pretty stinky. I haven't done that much poopy in a long time.

Who would have thought a 3 year old would add so much hilarity to a single pit stop?


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thoughts on the beach on Padre Island

This sand looks soft. Wouldn't a mini-van look ridiculous stuck in the sand on the beach next to all these SUV's and campers? Oh, he's parked on nicely packed sand.

Now, where is that baby pack... 'Thanks, Mr. W.' Now let's see... These straps go over my head, around the back and snap in front. Oh, wait, that's twisted... There!

Oh drat, the wind's really kicking up. I know I have a clip somewhere in this purse. Sheesh, I need a wallet. That's what Mr. W. and the girls need to get me for Christmas: a wallet. Ah, here it is. Too bad I don't have a comb or brush. Oh well, not here to impress the gulls.

Mr. W. has S. ready to go walking the beach. Now if I can just get L. into this carrier... Baby faces front. Left leg here; right leg here. Where'd the blasted clip go? Oh, there it is. Snap one, snap two and there! L. is secure.

Sheesh, I hope the water isn't too cold, I want to wade a little bit. The sand feels great and the water... not too bad. I hope there aren't any jellyfish laying around. Oh, crap, there's one now. It's dead though, and let's hope it's brothers and sisters aren't hanging around today. Last thing we need is a crying 3 year old with jellyfish stings.

Mr. W. looks so cute with his bucket for shells. It's amazing how quickly S. got over her timidity with the water. L. is having a ball kicking her little legs just as hard as she can and chortling over every gull.

I love the feel of sand on my toes, squishy squashy. Oops, the water got a little high that time. Where's Mr. W? Oh, there he is. Crap! Where is S.? Oh, man! I hope we've got a change of clothes still in the van. She is wringing wet announcing that she just got a bath. What a toot!

I guess S. isn't too cold. She isn't shivering and is running around like a child possessed. We can stay a little while longer. What a gorgeous day. Mr. W. was right, this is a great day to go to the beach.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

My grandma is old

The title pretty well sums it up. Gramma is 80+ years old and is having health problems. Nothing currently life-threatening, but plenty to try her and my dad's patience. Intellectually, I know that she is aging, but seeing her on this trip has brought home to me emotionally that she is beginning to lose her battle with time. The years continue to march forward and add up mercilessly.

Gramma is moving in with my parents now that she is no longer able to care for herself. This means my father has to help his mother use the bathroom and change her 'pampers' (as she calls them) on a regular basis. No man should ever have to help his mother go potty. I am so sad to see his stress levels go through the roof and stay there.

We are a bunch of optimists and hope and pray that in a few months, Gramma will get a prosthesis (her foot was amputated a few months ago), learn to somewhat walk on it, eat enough to have her feeding tube removed, and develop enough bladder control to get out of diapers. We know there is no cure for old-age, but there is a lot of spark left in this woman whose mother is rapidly approaching 100.


Monday, November 21, 2005

I love new parents

My brother is a first-time parent to an adorable 11 month old and a highly-protective SAHD (stay at home dad for those of you unfamiliar with the lingo).

The fam and I are traveling 300+ miles to go stay with said brother (did I mention he was highly protective?). Me, being the courteous big sis, mentioned that L. and I are just getting over the cold that Mr. W. and S. are possibly getting. My brother's reaction? "Well, just don't touch baby I. while you're here." I think he was joking, but who can tell with new parents?

When S. was a baby, I probably had similar knee-jerk reactions to sick relatives wanting to cuddle her. Those reactions were rather pointless since she was in daycare, but still, they were there. Now that we have L., I'm much more laid back. For better or for worse, I place a lot of faith in the antibodies I am supposedly giving her while breastfeeding. I'm still not fond of sick strangers/acquaintances touching her. However, the most diseased relative gets reasonably free access. Hmmm.... maybe that's why L. has her first cold.


It must be Harry Potter

After being in existence for a mere 4 days, my profile view counter has already hit 44. I'm guessing something on my list of favorites is drawing the crowd, and since the latest HP movie released over the weekend, I'm guessing Harry Potter is the big draw. It's either that or my name (Mrs. Wheezer) is drawing some real sickos. Being an eternal optimist, I choose to believe the former.

Since I haven't been to see the movie (and I have the nerve to call myself a HP fan?!?!), I am limited to commenting on the latest HP book. I have seen page upon page of debate on whether Snape is truly evil. Since misery loves company (how many months 'til the last book, Ms. Rowling?), I am tossing out my 2 cents.

My opinion? No, Snape is not evil. He is/has been/and will continue to work for the side of Albus Dumbledore. I don't think a truly evil Snape would have continued to teach Harry while fleeing Hogwarts (remember he kept giving Harry really good advice about using his mind?). I do think an evil Snape would have gloated to Harry about having killed Harry's hero (Dumbledore).

Boy, I envy my kids. They will get to sit down and read the entire series first to last without these interminable waits.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Marital bliss

Happy anniversary to us! Six years ago today, sweet hubby and I said 'I do' in front of a little church packed with 200 people. It was the wedding of my mother's dreams and is the marriage of mine.

I am blessed beyond words to have as my life partner a man who loves, respects and cherishes me, our children and our families. Sometimes I gripe because, after all, he's just a man, but I wouldn't trade this man for all the tea in China. It took me 28 years to find Mr. Right, and I will do my very best not to blow this.

Ways Mr. Man endears himself to me:
  • He washes and dries the laundry, all the laundry.
  • He tells me I'm beautiful, sexy and lovable on a daily basis. Even when I feel fat, frumpy and extremely cranky.
  • When I am at the end of my rope with S. (who is very good at being 3) or L. (who is quite good at being 9 months), I can hand over both girls, and he will cope.
  • He has taken on all the grocery shopping. How can a girl resist a man who is willing to buy Kotex and Tampax on a regular basis with NO complaining?
  • He can cook better than I.
  • He bought the cutest little purse for me for our anniversary a month ago. It wasn't a surprise because he is transparent as glass, but I think he was wonderful.
  • He lets me take a mid-morning nap on Saturday mornings with no grief.
  • He goes to Baptist church every other Sunday despite the fact he is a die-hard Lutheran. (note: dual-denomination family-life can be really tough)
  • He is awfully cute.
  • He is very responsible.
  • He supports my silly obsession of taking classes in all things insurance-related.

I love you forever Mr. Wheezer.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Germfest 2005

Nothing like having two daycare kids in the house to ensure somebody is sick with something at any given time. L. and I are getting over a nasty cold just in time for hubby and S. to come down with it. Joy of joys. Hello Vicks, good-bye good night's sleep.

This is better than the last time hubby and I shared germs. Nobody's needing to go to the doc for a shot of phenergan...


Friday, November 18, 2005

Wahoo! Another weekday bites the dust.

It's Friday! In 4 minutes, I will leave my little cave, grab my husband and go pick up the baby. She will shriek with completely unrestrained delight upon our arrival and will wail pitifully when we buckle her in her carseat. Fortunately, we have THE LION. THE LION is the magic soothall that turns L.s tears to chortles of glee. THE LION has spitup embedded in his mane and in the fluffy bit at the end of his tail. He is remarkably tolerant of all things slobbery and slimy that are part and parcel of a baby and L. adores him.

Tonight is pizza night. On our way home, we will pick up pizzas. My sweet husband's parents will be returning our 3 (and a half) year old after a day of unadulterated spoiling interspersed with way too many hours watching Thomas on the old boob tube and joining us for dinner. Cooking on Friday night is strictly verboten in my household, so pizza it is.

TGFPJ (Thank Goodness for Papa John's)


Dear S. and L.

Originally written: 8/7/2005

It's Sunday night and you two are sleeping in your respective beds. Of course, if your father keeps making such a racket, it's going to wake L. the rest of the way...

This has been a red letter weekend on 2 accounts. S., on Saturday night you woke yourself up, went to the potty, washed your hands and climbed back into bed ALL BY YOURSELF! you didn't quite remember to put your pajama bottoms back on, but hey, you remembered to wash your hands! Not bad for only 3 years old. L., this weekend you caught your balance. I can sit you on the floor completely unsupported and you don't tip over. Unfortunately, you haven't figured out how to go from sitting to lying down unassisted, but I know it won't be long now before you're crawling and cruising and then walking.

I feel privileged and supremely blessed to be your mother. S., I look forward to tomorrow when it is my turn to be loved by you. For some reason you've begun withholding affection. You told Aunt Toot you didn't have any kisses for her and you told me you just didn't love me today (but you promised you'd love me tomorrow). As you grow, your thought processes become more and more complex. Today I'm awed by your understanding the difference between 'today' and 'tomorrow.' Who know how you'll surprise me next.

My beautiful little L. You are busy learning all the 'rules' of this world. I watch you look at something (usually a toy or my glasses), assess the distance your chubby little fingers can reach, and stre-e-e-e-e-e-tch out to see if you can reach that object. When you can, you cheerfully snatch up the coveted object and stuff it in your mouth (I may forget what it is like to look through un-smudged glasses). When you can't quite reach, you grunt and strain and roll back and forth never giving up until the object is in your grasp. I admire that kind of determination in a baby not quite 6 months old.

It is past time I went to sleep.

I love you both more than I can say.


Words that make me melt

Originally heard 7/29/05

S. (age 3.5): 'We have a beautiful baby!' about L. (age 5 mos).

Jumping on the bandwagon

After finding out a dozen or so friends of mine have blogs, I am jumping on the bandwagon. Seldom one for following trends, this surprises me. Maybe this will be like the first time I tasted Vodka and decided all it did was ruin perfectly good orange juice. On the other hand, maybe this will be the start of a beautiful (if slightly self-absorbed) friendship.