Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A flock of fails

A lot of things in my life right now seem to fall under the "Well, it was a good idea at the time..." category.

1. Hubby went to a conference in Chicago for FIVE days. Normally I take that opportunity to high-tail it to a friend's house out of state, so I don't have to be cooped up with my howler monkeys by myself. I'd rather drag my friends down with me enjoy some quality time with friends I don't see often. But our schedule was too crazy and the thought of an 8-hour drive while missing a laundry list of things was too much for my already-frayed nerves. So I stayed home. With them. Like, the whole time. 

2. Well, almost the whole time. I got a new babysitter one night so I could cover a meeting for work and then swing by a bar to wish a friend a happy birthday. But the meeting went an hour longer than I thought. And since my sitter is 15 and it was a school night, she needed to be home early. No bar for Mommy. Night out fail.

3. I also got a text Friday from a friend/neighbor asking if I wanted to see a movie "tomorrow." I scrambled around and got a babysitter. My friend wanted to leave at 7. At 6:55, it didn't look like anyone was home at her house so I sent the "where r u" text. Uh, yeah... she got confused on her days and meant Sunday, not Saturday. So my big night out consisted of driving with two confused children to take a very understanding babysitter back to her house 5 minutes after she arrived. 

4. My disappearing, reappearing hip pain reappeared itself Friday, so I called my doctor and set up an appointment for the following week. To help in the meantime, I made Nathaniel do some Wii yoga "with" me and then iced it. Saturday morning I was as stiff as my 95-year-old Nana. Sunday was even worse. Today I would do anything to be able to stand upright. Self-rehab fail. 

5. When Hubby arrived home from the world's-longest-business-trip-in-the-history-of-ever, he brought a tub of Garrett's popcorn. It's sitting on my kitchen counter now, calling my name. It's supposed to be for me AND the kids. I could easily sit and eat the entire thing by myself. My new skinnier jeans would not be happy with me.

It's a good thing I can't stand up to get it...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Little legs can go a long way

At the beginning of the summer, when we shoe-horned our kiddos into the bike trailer, we realized that while they hadn't hit the weight limit, but they had definitely outgrown the comfort factor. They couldn't sit next to each other without severely bumping shoulders. Whoever was unlucky enough to pull them on our bike rides got jarred as they poked, prodded, tickled and all-out tormented each other.

We decided we needed to look into a tag-along bike for Nathaniel. He could practice pedaling and hopefully build his confidence and take a break and let me or Hubby pedal if needed. Leah could have the trailer to herself. Easier ride for everyone. Right?

Well IF we would have actually bought the tag-along. We didn't. So family rides were few and far between.

Until last weekend. Hubby decided that after a week of zipping up and down our cul de sac with no training wheels, Nathaniel was ready for a ride on the "big" road. We loaded Leah up in the trailer and gave him explicit instructions to stay behind Hubby, with me following close behind, making sure he stayed to the side.

We were on the county road for maybe a quarter mile before we ducked into another neighborhood. He pedaled his little heart out and started asking to go again as soon as we got home.

Tonight he got his chance. After dinner, we checked radar, crossed our fingers and rode 1.25 miles along county roads and state road to the local hot dog and ice cream shop. Nathaniel claimed he was tired about a half-mile in... until we told him we were going to get ice cream. As Hubby said, "It always worked for my sister. She managed to get an extra boost of energy every time."

Nathaniel doubled his speed and followed all our (ie Hubby's) instructions. The strawberry ice cream gave him just enough energy to make it home, where he asked to ride more. Really kid?

I'm hoping the exercise means he'll sleep in tomorrow. I know I could. A Mom can dream, right?!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting the most out of our health insurance

Nothing says fun-filled-Friday like a trip to the ER.

I knew it was coming eventually. And I was pretty sure which one of my darlings would get the first trip.

And Momma was right. Although Leah did not need stitches, a cast, and hadn't fallen off anything, she wins the ER prize.

Turns out she needed the help of her big brother and two friends to get there.

It turns out they were playing "rescue" and taking turns pulling one person out of water, quicksand, a giant vat of peanut butter... or something. But when it was Leah's turn, the strength of a 5, 4 and 3-year-old on her little pudgy arm was too much. Or they got her at just the right angle. Dislocated elbow.

She came upstairs howling, grabbing her arm and climbed on me. I didn't see anything obvious, but she wasn't acting right. A quick call to my friend's hubby who is a doctor (SO helpful) confirmed what we feared.

Off to the ER we went.

The doctor tried to pop her elbow back in, but she was crying too much so he stopped. He ordered some Motrin for her to help with the pain and x-rays, just to be safe. As long as I didn't touch her arm, she was okay. She was really okay once I let her play Angry Birds. (Note to self: download kid games to iPod and/or phone BEFORE walking into a giant building where you'll have no cell signal to speak of. I had games before, but then the cell phone from you-know-where reared its ugly head and had to be wiped AND replaced. It was on the to-do list. Somewhere. Maybe.)

About an hour after the Motrin and 30 minutes after the x-rays, the doctor came back and popped her arm back into place. She cried and it took awhile before she would move it. Once the doc saw she could move it again, we were on our merry way.

Three hours, no bloodshed and I didn't have a nervous breakdown. And as long as we keep the pain meds on time, she'll be fine.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big stuff

It's a good thing I didn't have to send Nathaniel off to kindergarten this week, when all our neighbor kids hopped on the school bus for the first time.

I don't think my nerves could have handled it.

Saturday morning, before the girls weekend from hell began, he went outside to play with Hubby and declared that he wanted his training wheels off of his bike.

Hubby raised an eyebrow and called me outside.

This wasn't our first foray into big kid bikeland, but we had initiated the other tries that ended with a lot of frustration for all parties involved. But since then, Hubby had moved the angle of the training wheels up so Nathaniel was forced to balance or wobble back and forth. He hated his bike for a week after that, but eventually got over it.

I had every bit of confidence in his ability - he has been riding with the training wheels barely touching for weeks. It's always HIS confidence that is the downfall. But he's branching out more and more, so I guess I shouldn't be shocked that he decided he was ready.

So after a shaky attempt at riding through our really-needs-mowed front yard, Hubby had him cross the driveway a few times. He let go of the bike after the first pass. Nathaniel didn't even notice that Daddy wasn't holding him. Within 10 minutes, he was speeding up and down our street, looking at everyone who was watching him and only half paying attention to the road.

After my girl friends and I left, he spent the rest of the day riding up and down the street, making sure every neighbor saw him. I am so proud of him.

But I can only handle one moment at a time. It's going to take me most of the next year to get ready for the school bus. I have a hard enough time wrapping my head around the notion that he will be FIVE in four months. FIVE!

Like I said, one thing at a time...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brownie Points

Sweets are my weakness. Hubby knows that. And he used it to his advantage tonight.

He was busy all day today volunteering with the United Way's Day of Caring building some little old lady a deck on her trailer. (I know, he's awesome and handy like that. It's one reason I let him stick around) Apparently the deck was quite involved - ramps and everything - so he stopped for 30 minutes for lunch and didn't look at his phone and then got right back to work. I had texted him mid-morning, figuring he'd eventually see it.

And he did. At 4:45. So he replied back that I shouldn't wait dinner on him. That's always nice to know.

But I was nice in my reply. I kept the grumbling to myself and left the howler monkeys to continue dismantling the basement while I started dinner.

As soon as I had their plates ready, both claimed stomachaches and went to the couch to watch cartoons. Normally, that doesn't fly in this house. But we didn't listen to Nathaniel last night at dinner when he said he wasn't hungry and saw his dinner revisited while we were still waiting on Leah to finish.

(Thank goodness we decided to eat on the patio. It's a lot harder to hose off my dining room floor. Although, when I have one of my architect friends design my dream house, I'm totally adding in floor drains. GENIUS! Hubby and I cleaned up the child and the table area and were about ready to yak ourselves. Leah just kept right on eating. I didn't realize my meatloaf was THAT good.)

So needless to say, we won't be forcing any meals in this house for awhile. But because they didn't eat, the kiddos went straight to bed after I ate and Phineus and Ferb was over.

I finally heard from Hubby at 7:30 that he was on his way and "What do you want for your understanding?"

Like he needed to ask.

I have their app on my iPod and just downloaded the Droid version yesterday. I can tell you what the flavor of the day is anywhere in the country, give you nutrition information - trust me, you're better off not knowing - and have it alert me when my favorite flavor (bananas foster) is on tap nearby.


The Wii Fit is totally gonna yell at me for that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I have talked about weekend hangovers before. Not the kind I used to get in college (and for that, my liver thanks me), but the ones where I look around the disaster that is my house and wonder "Whuck?!"

Mondays are not what you'd call my "productive" days.

Then there was this weekend. Holy Mother-of-all-craptacular-weekends. The house is the least of my concerns.

I'd like to say I'm doing fine. Trust me, about 50 people have asked in the last day or so. So many people have told me they rushed to their computer or phone after hearing the news because they knew I was there. I'd feel all warm and fuzzy and loved inside if I didn't still have the feeling like my stomach was closing in on itself.  But after rehashing it with so many people, talking about what happened is almost easier.

I said almost.

I still picture the rigging going down and still feel the knot in my stomach when I talk about it. I woke up at 4 a.m. because I was reliving it in my sleep. It's hard to play tough guy when your dreams say otherwise.

I teared up last night recounting the story for someone, because I mentioned how close we could have been, if only my friends had responded faster to the idea of surprising me. We would have gotten tickets earlier, and probably closer.

Talk about guardian angels.

I'm not sure what to do with my fears that have multiplied overnight.

Storms? Ya 1,000 times worse now.

Crowds? Dislike has mutated into fear.

Outdoor concerts? Yup, that's a new one.

The fear of storms is not new, but I will think twice before being outside for any length of time. I tried to check my phone and understand what weather was coming toward us, but I couldn't. I didn't have access to all the information that concert organizers did. I was excited and wanted to see the concert, so I pushed my nervousness aside. I thought it was just paranoia; that I was overreacting like normal. I trusted that someone was looking out for me and my fellow concert-goers.

Talk about reality check.

We weren't evacuated. People exited the grandstand in as orderly a manner as you could expect when we were all terrified. In an open area like that there were several ways to get out of the stands. But it was too late for everyone on the track. But I will pause before going to any inside venue with a large number of people. If I do go, you can be sure I will take stock of the exits immediately.

I love music. LOVE music. I want to be able to sit and enjoy a live concert, but I don't know how I'll be able to. And I can't picture listening to Sugarland without tears or feeling nauseous.

So much for happy birthday...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Girls weekend gone horribly wrong

Thanks to the glories of Facebook, most of you know where I was this weekend. No matter how I try, the reporter in me will never go away. Like my friend told me, I'm still a journalist, no matter how many times a day I ask "Do you have to go potty?"

Thanks to the managing editor for letting me share my story in my own words.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Party Planning 101

I am two days away from our annual cookout. The one that has the ability to run screaming for my room, so I can sit in silence and rock back and forth, hoping all the people in my house would magically disappear.

Me this week? Hells no...
To be fair, that's only happened once. We had everyone we invited actually show up and it rained, so there were 50 people in my house and garage.

It wasn't pretty. Well, for me anyway. I'm pretty sure everyone had fun, because they keep coming back.

The invite list is a little smaller, but with a few last minute adds, we'll be up to 40 this year. I think I can handle that. Weather promises to be mid-80s and sunny. Otherwise, I guess our friends will end up hanging out with the clutter in the garage. Whatevs.

I make the same things every year and let guests bring a dish (learned after year two). That way I only have to worry about feeding the overnight guests a few extra meals. I have my simple menu list written out and the grocery list made.

We've been a little stressed in our casa lately, so I'm desperately trying a new approach to party planning - don't worry. It's not going well. Hubby is still trying to nail down treatment of his ulcer (ugh, don't ask. I hate doctors right now), so even when he isn't doubled over in pain, he's exhausted. That means the prep falls to little ole me.

Right. No stress there.

So I swear, I am only cleaning my bathrooms and any surfaces that will come in contact with food. I will run the sweeper for the benefit of my overnight guest with cat allergy and attempt to chisel some of the kid-related mess off my dining room table.

I will not dust.

I will not deep clean anything.

I will not suddenly decide that picture that I've always wanted to go in *that* spot on the wall needs to be there NOW or any other house decorating projects that I've ignored for the last 11 months.

I will not painstakingly sweep, mop and scrub my dining room and kitchen floors for my children to promptly spill something or for 40 people to be traipsing over with grass and whatnot on their shoes.

I will not try a brand new recipe or add to my minimalist contribution to the food feast.

I will find a box and gather up all the random clutter "stuff" and hide it in my closet until they all leave. So if you want to know what my house looks like every day, feel free to nose in my closet. That is where random miscellaneous crap goes to die.

At your own risk, of course. Who knows what might fall off a shelf onto your head. Probably whatever I hid there last year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Brickyard 400

I did something Sunday I never thought I would do.

I went to a NASCAR race without Hubby. Or his grandfather.

I still remember the first time I sat down to watch a race on TV with Hubby. It was the summer before our junior year of college and I was asking a lot of questions (as I tend to do) to try to understand what it was about racing that held his attention. I just thought it was a bunch of guys turning left forever.

Hubby has attended every Indianapolis 500 since he turned 13 and until now had only missed the inaugural Brickyard 400. His grandfather has been attending the 500 since the 1960s, and Hubby was the only one of his family who really got into racing, so has been at his side for years.

The following year I got to go to my first 500. I was hooked. There's something about being at the track, watching the cars whiz by at amazing speed and with the kind of high-pitched whine that the unruliest toddler can't rival. Helio Castronevez won that year, and famously climbed the fence.

Grandpa had enough clout to get a few more tickets so I could eventually go to the Brickyard as well. Hubby's favorite driver, Tony Stewart, won his first that year. The cars are so much brighter in person and if you close your eyes, you can feel your ribs vibrating when the cars drive past.

Every year, we get up early and head to breakfast. We talk about who's on the pole, who didn't qualify and I end up picking Grandpa's brain about the history of the race. The last few years, my brother-in-law has joined us as well.

I've frozen to death at the 500 and melted in the failed-tire-fiasco that was the 2008 Brickyard, when tires were blowing out left and right and they had to bring in the cars every 5 laps for new ones. I've seen 4 races pregnant, and wondered why I thought sitting in Indiana's 90-degree July heat was a good idea. I was keeping hydrated, but had to pee about every 10 laps. I saw Danica Patrick nearly become the first woman to win at Indy, when 250,000+ people were on their feet, cheering for a chance at history.

And the whole time, I had Hubby and Grandpa with me. I never met my grandfather, so he's as special to me as if he were a blood relative. But this year, after a terribly slow and painful walk into the track in May, Grandpa admitted his knees weren't up for the Brickyard this year. He's gonna talk to his doctor and see what he needs to do to be in top shape by the next 500. Can't let that nearly 50-year attendance streak die so easily.

Hubby stayed home with a mystery illness that we now know is an ulcer. Like HOME home. I drove to Indy without him. I couldn't believe that I was doing all the things we normally do on race day, just me and my brother-in-law. I was even more impressed that I remembered the back way into the neighborhood where we park, without needing my brother-in-law's GPS or the over-the-phone walk-through with a map in front of me that Hubby insisted on the night before. I couldn't tell you road names, but I knew exactly where I was going.

Hubby's cousin and her boyfriend used two of the tickets too. The four of us had fun, and maybe this was foreshadowing what is to come - the younger generation taking over. We probably won't wait until 13 before we take Nathaniel to his first race, if we have the opportunity. And I was kinda "in charge." I still feel like a kid a lot of the time, especially with family (never mind the fact that next month I'm turning th... thhh... well I can't say it, but that number after 29).

I texted Hubby throughout the race, knowing it pained him to be missing it, but I couldn't NOT turn to him when something happened. I had to have him to talk to.

And I hope I don't ever have to do that all again alone.