Saturday, July 30, 2011


Guess who’s 8 years old today?
*photo of Bumblebee:

I really can’t believe that it’s been eight years since she joined our family.  We’re so glad she’s here. Her quick wit and spicy attitude keep us hopping.  Here’s an example:

I always give the kids a chore to do when they’re home in the summer.  Yesterday, I gave Bumblebee and The Boy the chore of folding a huge laundry basket full of socks.  There were hundreds of freaking socks to fold. I figured I had them held captive for hours with that chore!  While I was at work, she called me and got my voice mail, but since The Boy was within earshot, she pretended that she was talking to me.

"Hello, Mom? Um, we're doing chores and The Boy’s not folding any of the socks and he's just laying here making me do it all."




"Ok. I'll tell him."


"Love you too. Bye."

To The Boy, as she's hanging up the phone: "SHE SAID GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND HELP OR YOU'RE GROUNDED!"

*photo of Bumblebee laughing:
What a little punk.  I think we’re in for an interesting ride when she becomes a teenager.  Happy birthday, Bumblebee.

I love you so very much.

And I want to squish those adorable freckles of yours.
*photo of Bumblebee:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Making the right choices.

The Boy is fourteen, and a good kid.  I’m lucky that he’s got a strong head on his shoulders and a definite understanding of right vs. wrong.  His adolescence hasn’t been easy for him. Not that it’s easy for anyone, of course, but he’s had some struggles lately. He’s not as open with me as Hollywood has always been, so getting information out of him can be a delicate balancing act. I don’t know if that’s because he’s a boy or if it’s because his personality is just naturally more reserved.  I can’t push too hard to get him to tell me about what’s going on in his life, or he closes down.  But I can’t wait for him to come to me all the time, because he’s not an attention-seeking kid, and I’d have a long wait if that were to be my strategy.

All of this is to say that I worry about what I might be missing with him. He has a friend (Friend D) who has been going through a troubled period and making bad choices.  The Husband and I decided that we didn’t feel comfortable letting him spend the night at this friend’s house anymore, unless another friend was there too.  Friend J is another good friend of The Boy’s.  He lives down the street and is a well behaved, responsible kid.  So as long as Friend J goes along with The Boy, we decided that they could sleep over at Friend D’s house.  Yesterday, they planned a sleepover.

Last night, I was in bed trying to fall asleep when The Boy walked into my room.  I about jumped out of my skin because I didn’t hear him come into the house, and he was supposed to be gone.  He was clearly agitated – pacing back and forth and running his hands through his hair, which are classic signs of distress from The Boy.  I sat up and said, “What’s wrong? Is everything ok?”

He took a deep breath and let it out shakily, and then told me what happened.  Friend J and The Boy were over at Friend D’s house, when Friend D decided he wanted to go to Casey’s (a gas station/convenience store).  Hey – we live in the middle of nowhere. That’s what passes for entertainment around here!  Friend D’s parents had gone out for a quick errand, and weren’t home. Friend D decided he would just take his sister’s car and drive to Casey’s himself.

Friend D is also only 14, and doesn’t have a driver’s license. (In Iowa, you can’t get your license until you turn 16.) Driving to a convenience store five miles down the highway is clearly not a great decision.  Friend D asked The Boy and Friend J to go with him, and they declined, knowing they’d get their asses handed to them if their folks found out they’d gone along.  Friend D went anyway.  While he was gone, his parents came home.  The Boy and Friend J had to tell them where Friend D was, and they awkwardly stuck around, not knowing what to do.  A few minutes later, Friend D came come and after a brief conference with his angry parents, told the boys they had to go home.

They came to our house and The Boy explained what had happened.  As he told me the story, he was so agitated and nervous that I worried he might be omitting something.  But he assured me that he was flustered only because he didn’t know what to do in that situation.  I told him he did the right thing, and that I was proud of him. 

And I am proud that he made the decision not to get in the car with Friend D.  It would have been easy to rationalize the wrong choice. Nobody will know, we’ll only be gone for 10 minutes.  I can get a RockStar Energy Drink, that will help me stay awake all night long while we play X-Box for hours on end! But he didn’t. He knew it was dangerous, and wrong to ride with Friend D.  He’s got a lifetime of similar decisions to make ahead of him, and I can only hope he continues to make the right ones. But as I tried to fall asleep last night, thoughts of reports about underage drivers and fatal car crashes danced in my head. 

Oy. Parenthood.  It’s not for wusses.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Get moving...

I’m now 26 weeks along.  Goblin is due in a little over 3 months.  That seems so far away.  I look at this belly of mine and can’t figure out how it’s going to continue to grow for another three whole months.  God help me.

Lately, my body is trying to tell me something.  And that something is, “Get off your ass and MOVE.”

I have been having horrible insomnia lately.  I will lay awake for hours, stressing out over the time, and flopping from right to left side, like a giant fish, trying to get comfortable.  I’m a stomach sleeper, and since that’s not possible, unless I were to carve out a watermelon shaped hole in my mattress (hey… that’s an idea!) I can’t sleep the way I want to.  It’s very sad, and I’m looking for a piece of junk LaZBoy recliner on Craig’s List, to keep just for the next couple of months so I can actually sleep at night.

I also have been having restless leg syndrome (RLS) something fierce.  It gets so bad sometimes that I physically can’t sit still.  I want to kick, stretch, or completely saw off my legs when this happens.  I keep asking The Husband to get a hack saw and just saw them off for me, but he claims to like me better with legs, silly man. There’s an old remedy for RLS that seems insane to me, but people swear it works: putting a potato into a sock and sticking it in bed with you. I know… it sounds ridiculous. But don’t think I won’t be trying it…

Here’s why I think my body is telling me to get physically active.  Both of these horrible pregnancy symptoms are relieved, though not completely eliminated, by good old-fashioned exercise.  The nights that I go for a walk with the neighbor, or work on the floor tile project (it’s still going on, and man, is it a pain in the ass. But progress is being made) I sleep much better, and the RLS makes me fidget a bit, instead of kicking my legs in absolute frustration.

I have to force myself to get in the habit of doing something physical each night before bed.  It’s hard, though, my energy is not where it should be, and I just want to veg out and relax when it’s hot outside.  But I have to say, being able to sleep and not having the RLS too bad is worth an hour of sweaty exercise. So I’m going to do my best to stick to that routine.  Wish me luck.

I've also read that regulating your body's blood sugar can help with RLS too.  Yesterday was a particularly bad day for my RLS, and I did not have a good eating day, so I am going to try to stick to foods with a low glycemic index and see if that helps as well.  Those foods tend to be more healthy anyway, so I won't be hurting Goblin any with this experimentation.

Sigh... the things we do to bring humans into the world. Wouldn't trade it for anything, though. I got to hold three babies this weekend (my 5 1/2 month old niece and nephew twins on Saturday and my 3 1/2 week old nephew Simon yesterday) and they made me so excited to meet Goblin!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Photostory: Iowa in July

These pictures, taken from the passenger seat of my car on a long drive to visit my in-laws are why I love Iowa in July.

Everything is vivid greens and blues, sprinkled with a splash of red from a barn or outbuilding, for miles and miles.  Sure, it's no city skyline or beautiful water scene, but it'll do for me:
*photo of a windmill in a field:
windmill Iowa
*photo of the sign for a winery in Minden:
winery sign
*photo of the beautiful rolling hills of corn:
Iowa countryside
*photo of a red barn and outbuilding in the middle of the green fields:
red barn

Monday, July 18, 2011

"I think it's dead..."

We spend the weekend at a softball tournament for Bumblebee.

It was HOT. The heat index was supposedly 120 degrees at one point with a steamy dewpoint. Everybody kept asking me how I was dealing with the heat.  Truth be told, the heat doesn't usually bug me too much.  Even while pregnant, I'll take the heat over cold/rainy/windy any day. My fingers and toes looked like sausages by the time we got home, however, and I'd be lying if I didn't thank my stars for our shiny new air conditioner that is working overtime this month.

The kids didn't have much trouble with the heat.  Mostly they hung out and were goofy:
*photos of the girls on the team being goofy:


Leave it to my kid to be the one with the spazzed out smile when the other girls look so nice and sweet:


I love watching Bumblebee play ball.  She's got spunk, that kid, and it's evident when she's up to bat.  You'll hear people from the opposing teams comment on how tiny she is, and then they'll chuckle when she does a practice swing.  Seriously - that kid has a cut like no other.  Her backswing is about as fast as the forward motion.  It's pretty funny to watch.  And when she connects, she can crack that ball.
*photo of Bumblebee up to bat:

Lately she's been doing this thing where she smacks home plate with her bat several times before giving her practice swing a whirl.  It's pretty funny watching her because she's ALL BUSINESS.  Yesterday, during their last game of the tournament, she beat home plate with her bat a few times while she was warming up. The crowd chuckled as she did it, because she was giving the plate a serious beating.

"Easy, there, sweetheart."  the umpire said to her, "I think it's dead."


The girls won the lower bracket of the tournament, and got to take home individual trophies.  They were SO EXCITED about those trophies, they may as well have been made of solid gold.

Sure, it was a hot couple of days, and The Husband and I weren't able to get anything done around the house because of the time commitment, but watching Bumblebee play with her friends and socializing with their parents was great. These are the memories I love about sporting events.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Goodbye, Harry Potter

I took the kids to see the final movie in the Harry Potter series last night.  It was fantastic, as I knew it would be.  They did a marvelous job casting for the films, and the special effects were amazing. For me, the books were more enjoyable than the movies, though. An escape into a place so richly developed that, after I finished reading from them, it would take moments for my brain to clear and realize what reality is.

I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Hollywood when she was seven or eight. It was a challenge at first, because of the British nomenclature that was difficult to explain to a second grader. But of course the story won out. We read the first two books together, and then she grew out of our reading together stage and finished the series on her own.

The Boy became obsessed with them when he was old enough to read, too.  He's read the entire series at least five times and can tell you exactly what happened in each story.  After reading the first couple books to Hollywood, I waited until book seven was complete and then read books three through seven in a Harry Potter marathon that ruined me for other books for a couple of weeks.  (No small feat for someone who has to constantly be reading something.)

The movies have been a family event for us too.  We saw one of them at the drive-in theater in Door County, Wisconsin on vacation, we went to one for The Boy's birthday party. We aren't huge movie-goers, but there was never any question of seeing each of these films in the theater, and then buying the DVDs as soon as they were available. Last night was special - it was the first time we've gone to a midnight showing of any movie.  The crowd was fun to interact with, people of all ages, but many of them teenagers who have grown up alongside Harry Potter, saying their final goodbyes to Hogwarts. Bumblebee is a bit young to understand it all, but we let her come to the movie last night because it would have been mean to keep her at home.  She stayed awake for the whole movie, although I question how much of it she understood.  She's old enough now that we will begin reading the stories together this coming year.  I'm looking forward to starting the adventure over again with her.

I'd say what everyone has about the series. The wonderful stories got kids interested in reading.  They got kids and adults talking together about a place that lives in our minds. (What do you mean Diagon Alley isn't a real place?!)  Kids were jazzed - it wasn't geeky to love seven stories about a wizard, it was just what you did!  For our family, it was a springboard for conversation.  The Boy and I will go for a walk with Reggie and talk of Harry, Hermione and Ron for an hour.  And don't forget Snape - as I was reading The Deathly Hallows and Snape's story unfolded, revealing that he was on Harry's side, protecting him, all along, I was a sobbing, blubbery mess.  I cried so hard that I had a headache for the rest of the day. The Boy was amused at my emotional response to how that part of the story unfolded, and we have talked about it as though Snape were a relative or someone we knew.

Because, you know what?  He was.  They all were.  And I think it's amazing that a story about a little boy with messy hair and round glasses could bring a family together, giving them so much fodder for conversation and happy times like this one did.

Goodbye, Harry Potter.  Thanks for the memories you have created for our family.  I will see you again this fall, when I crack the pages open and begin the adventure with Bumblebee.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This is not a complaint post, honest.

Ok, well maybe it is.  A little bit.

Or a lot. But we all have the right to complain from time to time, yes? I had to leave work early today because I got such horrible gas pressure and pain in my stomach that I felt like it was going to explode. Raw veggies tend to do this to me during this pregnancy, but a gal has to try and eat healthy!  I knew I should've had the chicken fingers and fries instead of a salad.

Pregnancy is not new to me.  I've been down this road a time or two and know firsthand that each pregnancy is unique, with different quirks and symptoms. But still, I am shocked that this time around it is so much harder.

Pregnancy at age 20:  Physically, it was a piece of cake.  I didn't gain very much weight, you couldn't tell I was pregnant until I hit at least the six month mark, I didn't get stretch marks. I jogged several times a week until my doctor told me to stop because he wanted me to put on more weight. Bwahahahaha! That makes me laugh so hard now. I couldn't jog with this watermelon gut today if I was being chased by a giant smelly foot.

Emotionally it was very difficult. The Husband and I weren't married yet and our future was uncertain. We were broke, I was still in college, and there was other stuff going on in my life that complicated things. I tend to block out the emotional hell that I went through back then.

Pregnancy at age 24: All I remember is that I needed to eat. And so I ate and got big and ate some more and got even bigger. The Husband and I were married and things were more stable in our relationship, but we were still poor, both of us starting out in our careers. Even though I gained something like 45 pounds, there wasn't much discomfort other than lack of sleep.

We lived in a rental duplex at the time, and there was a cockroach problem. When dealing with bouts of insomnia, I would come downstairs at 2 a.m., place my fingers in my ears, squinch my eyes shut, and flip the kitchen light on with my elbow.  Then I would count "5...4...3...2...1..." to myself and open my eyes and take my fingers out of my ears.  That usually gave me enough time for the cockroaches to scurry across the seventies patterned linoleum to their hiding places, without me having to see or hear them. Then I could get a snack and deal with my insomnia. Shudder.  Funny that my pregnancy with The Boy is filled with memories of food and cockroaches.

Pregnancy at age 30: I remember it being tougher on my body. My joints and hips seemed to be sore more frequently, and all of a sudden I felt fatigued.  I didn't feel tired at all with the first two kids, so this was something new.  I gained exactly the right amount of weight (25 pounds) and still felt pretty awkward there toward the end.  Even though Bumblebee was born at the end of July, I didn't have much swelling and the heat wasn't terribly bothersome.

Emotionally, though, this pregnancy was a nightmare. Two years earlier, our son Joseph was stillborn and I was terrified of it happening again. I spent that entire nine months worried sick, even after we knew Bumblebee didn't have the chromosome disorder that our second son had.

Pregnancy at 108:  (Oops, I mean 38.) I feel old. And bloated. And huge (even though I'm right on target to gain the 'right' amount of weight again).  Every single symptom that you can get in pregnancy, I have.  Except varicose veins, I guess I don't have those.  (Damnit, I'm sure I just jinxed myself. Should I stock up on support hose now?)  Heartburn? check. Edema/swelling even when it's not hot outside? Got it. Nausea/vomiting, even still at 6 months along? Yep. Dizziness and vertigo? You betcha. Fatigue bordering on exhaustion? Yes. This is the worst.

I'm not joking when I say that I feel ancient and decrepit. It's taken a hit on my confidence and I know I've been guilty of tarnishing genuine compliments with my commentary on how huge I am or how gross I feel. I have to stop doing that.  I'm supposed to be big.  There's a kid inside of me.  A ninja warrior, from the feel of it.

Physically this pregnancy has been very challenging. It has been such a surprise to me (because my other pregnancies were not physically taxing at all) that I'm working through depression-type coping strategies.  Feeling so unbelievably awful for so long has definitely taken its toll on me. I can't help but wonder how people with terminal or long-term illnesses can cope without losing their minds.

However... emotionally, things couldn't be better. Funny how things try to balance themselves out.  The Husband and I are both well established in our jobs, our finances aren't scary, we have a great support system nearby, and we know how to be parents. I have a job that allows for a flexible schedule, taking time off or working from home as needed, and a great home/life balance.  It really is a great time to be having a baby.

My aching back and upset stomach would say otherwise, however.