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Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Convenient Inconvenience

For the past few months, I've been (sporadically) working hard on a presentation for my state-level professional organization.
I've been attending its conference annually for the past few years, helped organize the last two, but this was my first as a presenter.
I was excited. I was honored.
But somehow, I kept forgetting the date.

Like when my parents checked & rechecked that I'd be able to take them to the airport if they left for Nebraska on September 22nd. Of course. Yeah, sure - whatever.

Except September 21st was the big presentation. In Fort Lauderdale. Five hours away.

Now, the thing is? We all like learning things and comparing notes on professional matters. But it's also a solid social tradition. Times are had. And Friday night is the main event.

When I first pieced together that I couldn't stay Friday night, I may have literally smacked my forehead. Then I sorta let it go. I figured it would just keep me out of trouble, so to speak. Then as departure grew nearer, I got happier & happier about it. And when I left Thursday morning for work, I  was downright ecstatic to be able to tell my daughter: "I'll see you tomorrow night." (Sure, I had to drive the length of Florida twice in between, but I digress.)

That hug on Friday night with the accompanying "Mommy!" and insanely huge hug? - no place I'd rather be.

Then today. When I would have been nursing a hangover of whatever magnitude, while sitting in a conference room. (Well, first we got up at the crack of dawn to take my parents to the airport. But then ..) we went to Cracker Barrel for a darned delightful breakfast.

Even the hash brown casserole couldn't compare to the General Store though. My little girl apparently is ready to be a big sister or something.
So sweet to watch. But really, after 15 solid minutes, we did have to pick her up & carry her out (with just a little kicking & screaming). Because hey - we had to get to ...

to the ZOO!!!!

Kiddo had 2 speeds: Flat-out-Run and Mommy-will-you-carry-Me? Because really, how can you pace yourself when there are leopard cubs? And giraffes to feed? And ELEPHANTS?
It was Elephant Appreciation Day, and they were selling paintings -- BY THE ELEPHANTS. So of course, we bought one. Because - it benefits Elephant Rescue, and what could be cooler in a little girl's room, for pete's sake!?

Also, as it turns out, the Zoo parking lot is a good place to have your battery be totally dead. Thanks Jacksonville Zoo security - that was one prompt & friendly jump.

And all this before I would even have left Fort Lauderdale. All in all, this little inconvenience worked out pretty conveniently for my little family.

Best part - we still have all day tomorrow! :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In Defense of not Caring

Not caring what other people think, that is.

Remember when you were younger & spent too much time caring what other people thought about what you did? Maybe you even missed out on some fun because you were afraid of looking dumb?

C'mon. Admit it. Don't be afraid.

And if you still hold back out of fear of looking dumb ... Stop, you're probably missing some fun.

Here are some example just from the past 36 hours or so.

1. Walking on the beach in my work clothes.
I had to work yesterday. (Yes, on Saturday. It was my turn.) After work, I'd scheduled a haircut. The salon is literally spitting distance from the ocean. I had piled up to head home, when I looked left and thought - "There's the ocean. I should take a walk on the beach. Duh." So I turned left, parked & headed over. Then I noticed other people milling about in shorts & tanks, as well as - you know - bathing suits. Then I realized I'd probably look pretty weird in my dress pants and blouse. Then I thought "{expletive} it," and kicked off my flats. Yes, the the beach is nice when you're in comfy clothes and can really stay awhile. But the beach at all is still the beach.

2. Letting my kid eat chips for dinner on family date night at a local Mexican joint.
Certainly, that was not the plan. However, it's not like the Saturday burrito treat is some pinnacle of health food. So when she asks for chip after chip? Choose your battles. See also: all-day-buy-one-get-one drafts.

3. Letting her lay on the floor in a bookstore.
We have this atheists' tendency to forget that most places open late on Sunday. So there we were, trying to buy a table 30 minutes before the furniture store opened. Lucky for us, there was a lovely Books-A-Million with a slammin' kids' section in the same little strip. She literally ran right to that rack of books, grabbed that one & flopped on the floor. Because - hey, how's she to know to act differently there than at the library? And as for me? I breast-fed her for a year for the good immune system, so what do I care about a few germs? Anyway, it was early. I bet they vacuumed right before she laid there.

4. And finally, I must confess to actually encouraging dress-up with the crazy hat display.
Because I've never actually known anyone who got lice from trying on hats. My only regret is not getting a good pic of the one that makes it look like a shark is eating her head.

PS - It's added awesome to encounter people who know this secret too. 
Our neighbor hung outside this AM talking to us for a good half hour in her pajamas. Because she'd come out just to tell her husband something, when my little ball-of-energy went running over to get kisses from their dog, then proceeded to grab any & everything within her reach in their garage. Good stuff.
At the bookstore, we certainly made a few friends.
At the furniture store, when kiddo suddenly decided she never wanted to leave - I threw her under my arm, all wiggles & wailing, and walked out. Parents of a similar-aged girl, "We feel your pain. Have a nice day."
At the grocery store, when kiddo decided she definitely had to run back to the cart after bathroom break and throw the bouncy ball she'd grabbed. I, again, manhandled her and wrestled her back into the cart. A mom with 2 kids in her cart scooted past us and smiled, "Think happy thoughts," she said.

Indeed, think happy thoughts. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Week. And a Day.

This week has been a little rough.
After a month in my new post, I had to "flex" and help out where needed. I'd been loving said new post, so I was sad. Then I found myself less flexible than I thought I was, and I lost it a little.
There were a few other things eating at me too, and blahblahblah.

But then today happened.
And I have a bunch of work to do, BUT I just need to stop and record some of the highlights of an awesome day.
An awesome day that I really needed.
An awesome day that, if I had more time, I could write 10 posts about.

1. I got to do my "new" job again today. And it was one of my favorite days. ALS clinic. You might think that spending the day with people with a horrible illness would be horrible. But you would be wrong. For the most part, it is inspiring. It is awesome to see how families rally, how they not only "deal" but sometimes even thrive. It is amazing to be  a part of a team that can provide them with resources, information and support. I love hearing about the cool things my colleagues do, and I love helping the patients myself.
2. I sent a, I think, non-whiny / non-bitchy email to my boss about some of my concerns. I was proud of it. I did 2 things that are very scary for me professionally -- admitting that my job is not my first priority (i.e. my family is), and admitting that I can't do everything well that they think I can do well (i.e. that there are limits to my flexibility). Both are true, and it might as well be known.
3. At some point, I posted a dorky thing on Facebook. My husband commented, and I did in fact "LOL" - and repeatedly for a good hour, thinking about it. And just the other day, I was trying to tell him that he wasn't funny. Here it is ---

4. My boss actually came & talked to me about my concerns. And actually did what was possible for now to help out. And I ended the conversation feeling better overall about the professional future. Weirdly. Because I do think that maybe I ended up looking less "upwardly mobile" or whatever. But then I realized that, at least for now, I don't mind.
5. My afternoon appointments cancelled, so I got to leave early. Which is funny, because longer hours was one of my concerns. (Ha!) soooo ... theeeen ...
6. I got my kiddo early & went to the park!!  It was raining, but I didn't care. Neither did she. The rain stopped most of the time, and who cares about wet pants when the slide is awesome? Not us.
7. At home, I finished a book, while she watched a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. (Louise Erdrich's Porcupine Year. I guess it is for young readers, but I'm still young, right?)
8. Kiddo had earned 5 stars, so I gave her a new book from the goodie closet - Dinosours. How cute & heart-warming to watch her "read"  it to herself a few times before giving me a turn. (A favorite song right now is "We are the Dinosaurs" by Laurie Berkner. Roar!)
9. This guy is AWESOME. His lullabies are put her out! And she is actually staying in bed longer since we got him.

10. Now I'm sitting here with wine & chocolate. The end.
(Oh, except that work I have to do! Please excuse any typos. Gotta run!!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lessons Learned on Life & Love

Too little to learn.
But I guess that's relative, and subjective.

He's 5. She's 2 and a half.
She has adored him from day one. And the adoration only grows.
When his family first moved next door, he wanted to show her all his toys and would talk your ear off to keep us outside just a few more minutes.
But over the past year. He's started school, grown up, etc.

I took my daughter for a quick swim at the community pool this morning.
I'd entirely forgotten there was a big party for the holiday.
Or did I even open that email?
We had a nice enough time. (With some usual for right-now shenanigans & loss of listening ears.)

Then we saw our neighbors.
Great, I thought. And it was great to see them.
Then it was time for us to go. And she wanted a hug.
She in her Swimmer & SafeTSeal Vest.
He in his goggles, showing off for kindergarten friends.
Of course he didn't want to hug her. Of course. I saw that. I understood.
I tried to get her to leave. She wouldn't. Cried his name. "I want a hug."
I broke down and even asked him myself.
He pretended not to hear me.

I scooped her up. All tears, screams and writhing. I grabbed our bag and made it to our truck as quickly as possible. I hugged her tightly. I told her boys don't always want to hug you when you want them to. I told her I loved her.

What else can you do?

At the back of my mind, I can't remember whether I asked her if she wanted to hug him goodbye. And if I did or didn't? So what, really.

Boys don't always want to hug you when you want them to. Or girls for that matter. Disappointment is out there. That was her lesson. We all relearn that regularly.

I know the day will come with bigger disappointments and heartaches. I cherish every moment that doesn't hold tears. I cherish that, for now, I can stop the tears with a hug, a kiss, and a few whispered words.

My lesson was this -
Kids start caring what other people think all too soon.
I knew he didn't want to hug her. And I knew exactly why.
Because it was embarrassing. Because the kids his age might laugh at him for being friends with a baby.
I understood.
Then it hit me - a 5-year old cares what other people think? Those expectations are already upon us at such a young age? We can't just be who we want to be & be unafraid of judgment? .. even then?
And? --- I took it for granted.

I know the day will come all too soon that it's my daughter on the giving end of the disappointment. The day she'll decide whether or not to do something based on what her friends will think.
I will hate that day.
The end of innocence.

So till that day - I cherish each moment completely lacking in pretension. Announcements to full restaurants that you've pooped (be it in your pants or in the potty). Conspicuous playing with imaginary friends and talking to dolls or her fingers. Wearing Hello Kitty rainboots with everything. Making funny faces for the camera anytime mommy asks.

What else can you?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

29 (not) forever

Today, my daughter is 29 months old.
I stopped counting in months sometime around 2 years old.

Certainly, the months still make a difference. You can tell a 26 month old from a 32 month old, but they're both still "2". But you feel dumb saying, she's 28 months. For a time I said, she turned 2 in April. Now I say, she's about 2 and a half.

Since she was born April 1st, the 1st of each month always strikes me. And yesterday, it struck me - 29. I was 29-years-old when I met her dear-old daddy.

29-years-old. That's the age people (jokingly or seriously) say they are when people ask & they don't want to say.

I guess there's something magical about it.
There was for me.
Life. is different now.
My path. diverged.

Have you watched Dora or Diego? If you've not had the pleasure, let me tell you - there's a frequent question - "Which path should we go down?" 
Sometimes there's 2 choices, other times 3. 
There's always a correct choice. 
They always tell you what was down the other path.

So different than life.

In life, there are infinite choices. 
Maybe they don't feel infinite at the time, but in truth they are.
There's is certainly not one correct choice. 
There are better choices.

But it's entirely subjectively, never concrete. Nothing so delightfully simple as "We chose the path with the cuddly animal we were helping. Down the other path was a baby-eating snake."
Good choice. Go, us.

I chose a path. 
I'm happy with it. Very.
I suppose you could call it a right path.

Sometimes I get a glimpse of the other path.
And I can't deny it's appeal.
Couples without children (and I'm looking at you, H&K) - your travel pics and nights on the town, microbrew tours and so on - all of it is right up my alley. But I do such things rarely. Because of the little girl sleeping on the other side of the house.

Really, I don't know how to go on from here. Without sounding like - a) I want to trade my daughter for a few beers or a trip to Greece. Or - b) Going on & on  about why I'm glad I chose my path (or it chose me?) and unintentionally making it sound like I think you made a bad choice.
Neither is true.
I hope only this - that all of my friends (single, married with or without children) are happy & fulfilled. A tall order really.

But why am I even pondering these choices?
Yes, there's the 29//29 thing.
But more.
We're making the choice again.
Another one? 
Many people assume that having one means you'll have two for sure, 3 or more is questionable. But 2 certainly.
Not us. We pondered. Our answer evolved.

At this point, signs point to yes.
The intention is now there. If not the full certainty that was there the first time.
I'm scared.
Life is good now. Why rock the boat?

Well, again - I don't want to sound to parents of onlies like I judge your choice. I do not. I still hold it at the back of my head as "maybe that would be the best thing for us."

But then I see my kiddo looking at pairs or groups of children. At the park today, "Look at those kids having so much fun." Tonight at the Nebraska bar, just looking and wondering about a table with a bunch of kids.

I've read the studies. I know only children can be every bit as happy as (or -ier than) those with siblings. I know the benefits of being an only child for her. I know the benefits of having an only child for me/us. I find them compelling.
Hence the lack of full certainty.

Unfortunately, Dora is not going to show up and point me down the correct path. 
For better or for worse, you can't go back and "try out" the other choice. Quantum physics and all that.
Fortunately, I think it is highly unlikely that there are baby-eating snakes down either path.

Fate will decide, I suppose. Also biology. Also my frequent inability to stay awake through her bedtime.
Wish us luck.
And much happiness to each of you on whatever path you choose.

Here's a little help ---

Centered & Consistent

My brother posted a link on Facebook the other day. He commented: "Can we get a center-right coalition, please?"
The article was about Republicans for Planned Parenthood. 
What? That exists? 
Yeah, I didn't know either.
My reply was: "Center Right, Center Left. I'll take either. Center Center?"
Does that exist?
Like operational in the real world?
Not to my knowledge.

Centered Schmentered.

And what about Consistency.

Just take this Republicans for Planned Parenthood thing. Why didn't we know about them? 
Because the party line is "No abortions. Ever. Under any circumstances. End of story."

In my humble opinion, it is inconsistent to the point of blatant absurdity. Why inconsistent?
Because purportedly the core of the party is Freedom. 
Freedom of religion.
Freedom to bear arms.
Freedom for "job creators" to behave in any fashion they see fit.

Businesses can make decisions about anything. People can make decisions about anything, except anything having to do anything with sex.
(Abstinence only. No abortions. No same-sex marriage. Connect-the-dots.)

I don't get it. I just plain don't get it.

On the other hand, I don't feel completely at home in the Democratic Party. 100% for certain, it's my best option. I just wish I had more options.
Like one consistently in the Center. Okay, let's be honest - left of center.