Friday, July 31, 2009

Couples Growing Alike Over Time (Not Always a Good Thing)

The more a couple is together, the more alike they become. A romantic notion? Maybe when one is young and newly in love and still separate people. After 13 years of marriage, I have come to a terrifying realization: you do not get to choose the direction you “grow together.” I’m sure Peter didn’t intend to become more socially awkward any more than I intended to laugh at an episode of the Family Guy. And yet, here we are.

I think it may be worse. Our individual geekiness is combining. The other day Peter wanted to know where I kept my copy of the Lao Tzu and I found myself reading an issue of Kiplingers. At this rate he will one day enjoy Sudoku while I watch professional golf on TV. The very thought makes me shudder.

I suppose when I was 1st married I pictured our conglomeration as something similar to a trip to the grocery store. I could stroll down the isles, carefully examining my options. “Hmm, Peter is good at debating. Sounds good, add to the cart” or “Late night snacking smells a little stale, let’s discard it.” I’m sure he would have much rather added my love of math than my love of naps. You would think if we were doomed to become alike, we could at least pick which similarities we would adopt and which we could discard. I sort of thought we would take the best of Peter and Charlotte, sloughing off the less desirable parts, when we created our “Cheter” (Did you snicker when you read that? If so you might be as deprived as we are).

At least we don’t have to worry about beginning to look like each other (of course that is because we already look alike, when first married we were mistaken often as brother and sister (a weird brother and sister who held hands and kissed a lot (and had a proclivity for nested parenthesis))).

And so we may be doomed to watch our friends become adorable older couples as we become complete social misfits. Just call us Parlotte.

Monday, July 27, 2009

And That is How I Learned the Value of Water Shoes

I never understood the tides until I moved to the ocean. I knew there was high tide and low tide, but I didn’t realize that low tide could at times be very, very low and other times be only sort of low. Since there is a sandbar that extends several hundred yards out from the water edge behind our house, we can judge how low the low tide really is on any given day by how much of the sandbar is showing. Sometimes an extremely low tide aligns with an afternoon hour and Peter’s day off. When this happens it is time to explore.

That is how I ended up stranded, barefoot, in the middle of a large stretch of sharp, broken sea shells while Matthew sat on my hip wiggling to reach his father a few yards ahead…

Peter had tired of exploring the sandbar last Friday and wanderlust struck. He took the kids with him to explore the area left of our sandbar, a place we had yet to investigate. Unfortunately there were two kids left on shore (they decided too late to participate). I decided I would hold off dinner prep to take them out to join their father’s excursion. By the time I reached the edge of the sandbar to hand off the kids, Peter was all the way across. Having already pointed out the adventure their brothers and sisters were having, there was no easy way out: I was crossing the bay with Kirsti and Matthew in tow, still wearing my regular clothes.
As soon as we stepped off the sandbar we noticed the water turned a reddish hue. You might think metal oxidation or red algae, but my mind went directly to blood in the water. “Directly” does not always equate with “immediately” in my brain, so we were in water past my knees before the gruesome thought struck. A few more steps and I was busy trying to recall if I knew the water depth a shark needed to swim. Hadn’t I heard somewhere it was pretty shallow? Unlike the clear water directly around the sandbar, this water was opaque. We were now up to mid-thigh (did I mention I was not in my swimsuit?) in red, possibly blood tainted, water where we couldn’t see our own feet (much less if anything swimming toward us). Memories of watching Jaws as a child flashed before my eyes.

We were already half way across the bay and I figured there was a shorter walk to shallow water ahead than behind us, so we continued forward. Peter and the rest of the kids had wandered up and down the far beach and were slowly making their way back to the return point. Matthew sat on my hip and Kirsti grasped my hand (I didn’t share my irrational fears with her, but she was smart enough to be freaked out on her own). Just as Peter noticed we were crossing, we hit the shells.

Take hard shells and break them, leaving them strewn across several yards, many layers deep. Hide your feet to prevent a visual of where you’re stepping and try to walk across. Doesn’t that sound like fun? But we were nearly across the bay and had reached shin height, semi-transparent water. Given the choice of turning around and crossing the deep, reddish, monster filled water or walking across broken shells barefoot, I choose the shells. The top of my arches still ache as I type this. We met the rest of the family half way across the shell covered sand and we gingerly tiptoed our way across the last several yards. We finally hit tide-uncovered sand that could be followed back around to our own dear soft sanded beach.

The moral of this story? There are many: invest in water shoes, be wary of Peter’s spontaneous adventures, wear a swimsuit whenever you plan on entering the ocean, and don’t let the kids watch Jaws until we are finished leasing a house just off the ocean.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A fringe benefit of an ED physician father and the dangers of attacking a submarine.

This morning the kids and I headed out early to explore a submarine museum before swim lessons. We met a couple families there and had a wonderful time (although I'm sure the other patrons were not as thrilled by our 12 children's attendance). Anyway, after looking at the exhibits and playing with old controls and walking through the 1st nuclear powered sub, we let the kids run outside the museum around the displays of old subs before loading up. And that was when my 7 year old had a collision with a submarine. Surprisingly enough, she lost.

(Look at the bottom of the post for a picture of the offending sub)

Luckily I have a doctor on call for just such accidents. What? Aren't you prepared for nautical disasters that happen on dry land? You really should have a submarine/pedestrian accident plan. As we headed home, my oldest alternated calling our home phone and her dad's cell until Peter woke up enough to hear ringing and answer. I explained that there was a gash right at the hairline, not long, but deep enough to need something done, that we were headed home, and that I had accidentally taken both sets of car keys so he couldn't save time and meet us at swim lessons. I also had to explain that I was unable to tell from the front of the Suburban if she was still bleeding in the back of the Suburban.

We arrived home to find Peter just out of the shower. He looked at the wound and said, "You didn't tell me it was gaping!" to which I replied "Why else would I have called you? It's not like I tend to overreact." (Which is totally true, you'd think after 13 years he would know that if I call with a medical problem it is REALLY a medical problem- I think bleeding makes for a great story and fevers don't count until they top 105.)

Anyway, it isn't often you get treated by a towel wearing doctor while laying on his unmade bed. Peter deftly numbed her with lidocaine and put two staples in her head. When I asked her if it hurt, because it looked like it hurt, she said it felt like Dad had stapled her. She was less than happy when I told her that is exactly what happened. She also didn't appreciate the Frankenstein reference I made.

I gave her some ibuprofen and tried to convince her a band-aid would make it better enough to not miss swim lessons. We were in and out in 5 minutes, tops. All told, we were only a couple minutes late for lessons, but Kirsti opted to sit out; which was probably for the better as there was still a slow trickle of blood running down her forehead.

Monday, July 20, 2009

That's It, I'm Choosing Favorites!

Today we start swim lessons and I can't help but remember last year. While all the other moms would talk and read and check their email, looking up every 5 minutes to check on their children's progress, I continually scanned the pool (they were all on a different level and in different parts of the pool) to ensure I gathered enough information for the drive home. "Mom, did you see me dive into the pool?" "Mom, were you watching my backstroke?" "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, where you watching ME?" Someone with 1 child could spend 10 minutes observing their child's progress and 50 minutes relaxing. If I spend 10 minutes a child, I do nothing else the whole time.

This year I have all 6 kids in lessons (last year Matthew was out due to a cast on his left arm) each in a different level. I've decided to save myself the hassle of watching all of the kids by choosing favorites. That's right, I said I'm choosing favorites. I've seen it done before. One child can get the majority of the attention while the others are given an attention level barely above ignored. It is a good plan, but I need to figure out which child to pick.

I was thinking of staging a trampoline cage match, but couldn't decide if the winner or loser should get the favored position. Perhaps I should use a sword in the stone technique, but then I'd have to deal with the whining over who got the first turn. I would go with the most clean and organized, but none of them qualify. A writing essay wouldn't be fair to the kids who can't read yet.

Maybe I should narrow it down to two favorites. Surely I can pick my top half? Two thirds? I think I have it now. I can, without any effort, chose my top 6 children. I will focus my attention on them for now. See, choosing favorites is a great idea.

Just got home from lessons and decided the best plan is to ignore them all equally. Next lesson I might drop them off and go to Dunkin Donuts by myself. Just kidding. Sort of.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No I didn't dye myself red, that is a lobster level sunburn.

The other day I sunburned myself. I was such a beautiful shade of red, I could have disguised myself as a lobster. For two days clothing was excruciatingly painful. Forget that, wiggling my nose was excruciatingly painful. Walking was a joy, stiff movements intended to allow as little contact as possible to clothes or other parts of the body. I wasn't burned enough to blister, but I think I was close.

I should know better than to create opportunities for burning, as a teenager I would sometimes burn on the 15 minute walk home from school. I don't know how I thought a couple hours sitting on the beach would be safe. I suppose I arrogantly assumed I would be OK since I had yet to burn this summer and we are on the beach every day. The last few days, I have had ample opportunity to realize I spent most of that time in the shade and late in the afternoon, so had yet to be exposed to direct sunlight: I was reminded every time I had to turn over in the middle of the night from pain on my front to pain on my back.

But the real cruelty came the evening after the burn. We went to see Harry Potter and, true to our impulsive reputation, decided to go to the hottest ticket of the summer the day after it opened and with enough time to get there 5 minutes after the movie was set to start. There were still tickets available, but we were bunched together in the front of the theater. Which meant I had a near five year old on my lap for most of the time.

So I sat through the extra long movie, with highly sunburned legs, wearing jeans, and letting a five year old (who is not exactly light) wiggle all over my lap. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch!! I expected my skin to be rubbed off by the time the movie ended. I would have been willing to scrape off my skin and replace it with frozen popsicles, if only I wasn't too wimpy to withstand the scraping part.

Anyway, the burn is finally easing up, and can let the aloe vera have a break. All that is left is to wait for my entire outer layer of skin to peal off my body and I will be back to normal. Unfortunately I can't just slide out of my old skin like a snake, it will be more of a flaky process (although if I could slide out, that would be awesome- can you imagine all the things I could do with a Charlotte shaped skin?).

I have definitely learned my lesson. I will be using my sunblock on our daily playtime on the beach, even though it is expensive and greasy and smelly. I will even put it on the kids, who all burned, but not as badly as their translucent skinned mother. Or maybe I will skip the sunblock and only enjoy the beach by the light of the moon:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

6 Births and 1 Epidural Part 2

Having already birthed a child, I was, of course, a complete and total expert on pregnancy. Or at least I would have been, if only all pregnancies were the same. Despite a very different pregnancy, I dreaded most the worst part of my last labor: the pushing.

A little over two weeks before I was due I went in to a doctor’s appointment and was pleasantly surprised to find I was dilated to a 2 and starting to efface. Since I had been nothing with Elise at the doctor’s appointment the day before I had her, I took this news to mean I was seconds from labor. Seconds. Any idea how many seconds are in 2 weeks? Enough to feel like an eternity or two.

Two days before my due date I was miserable. Dilated to 3.5 cm and seemingly 150% effaced, it felt like the baby was ready to drop out. I was busy watching a terrible Sylvester Stallone movie( I know, I know describing Stallone movie as terrible is redundant) when my labor FINALLY began. We dropped off Elise, grabbed my bags which I had packed and ready to go weeks ago, picked up my parents and sister and headed to the hospital. I was still dreading the pushing phase.

And then my husband slept through my labor. Or at least that is how I like to tell the story…

Trying to save enough energy for that detested pushing, I quickly decided I wanted medicine, unfortunately, not quite quick enough. Too late for an epidural, I was able to get a sedative of some sort that allowed me to sleep between contractions. I woke for the actual contractions, though! I remember distinctly waking during one and looking to my husband for comfort only to find him snoozing in the chair beside me, his head resting on my hospital bed. I almost killed him! He claims something about working a night shift the night before, already late into the night, me already asleep, blah, blah, blah. I just remember myself in pain and him in dreamland. I try to never let him live it down.

Like my first baby, this one was posterior. I spent transition on my side trying to get him to turn before entering the birth canal, thoroughly unpleasant, but effective. After what seemed like forever, it was time to push; I had been dreading this time for 9 months. It took all of 15 minutes and only a few pushes. I was greatly relieved.

Ryan was born on a Friday (I think). On checkout day, which was a Sunday, I requested my church clothes brought in so I could change before leaving. We went straight from hospital to Church. Two weeks later we moved half way across the country for Peter’s medical school. Apparently I enjoy moving while pregnant or with a less than month old baby. I’ve done it thrice.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'd rather drive twice as far than go back to these fireworks.

This year's fireworks was quite an (mis)adventure. Last year we frantically searched for fireworks in our area only to head into another state to find them, so we were pleasantly surprised to find that a town 15 minutes from us celebrated the 4th of July ON the 4th of July WITH fireworks. We had already filled our day with yard work, hours on the beach, neighborhood parades and ice cream sundae parties, but we just weren't done celebrating.

After a quick stop at Illiano's for dinner (because nothing says I love America like Italian food, right?), we headed up to the fireworks. Upon GPS's insistence that we'd hit our destination, we were forced to accept that the area set aside for fireworks was really small and already PACKED with people. Confident we could still find a spot, we found a place to park about 1/2 mile away and walked back to the venue.

By this time we needed a restroom. Badly. So we started looking. This city had planned their fireworks display at a boat dock. A BOAT DOCK. A long, narrow strip of land mostly covered in asphalt with a small sliver of grass on the edge of the water. I began to wonder what the event organizers were thinking. The crowded area was made more so by vendors running the length of the dock. Weaving through the throng of teenagers and young adults milling around, we finally found the restrooms: two little porta potties. We had passed CHAIN LOCKED bathrooms, which appeared to have running water, before finding these. Did I mention the place was packed with people? After waiting in line forever, we were finally next in line. The lady leaving the potty kindly informed us there was no toilet paper left. I considered switching lines, but we'd already waited 20 minutes and the line next to us was just as long. Plus, there was a suspicious amount of women in that line getting napkins from the food vendor next door, discretely folding them up as they waited their turn. We opted to use the wipes I had on hand.

Our bathrooms needs finished, we started looking for a spot to sit. This was when we realized another problem. Not only was there limited grass, most of it already jam packed, there were also huge tress blocking the view from most places. The larger asphalt areas was covered in vendors and loud, half drunk young adults. The whole place reeked of cigarette smoke and pheromones. Finally we gave up and set up our blanket on the back of the asphalt where there was a small break in vendors. Very comfortable, nothing says relax and enjoy like a thin blanket on a hard surface. After what seemed like a small eternity, we enjoyed the fireworks display, or at least the half of it that wasn't blocked by a big tree in front of us. (In the picture, you can see the tree blocking the view. You can also see some of the people walking up and down the strip the entire time the fireworks were being set off. After sitting on the asphalt all night, I don't blame them.)

Next year we'll head out of state again instead of going to a too small, mostly asphalt covered, bathroom limited, toilet paperless, more young single adults than families, smoking everywhere, tall trees lining the entire strip of land blocking the display venue. It will be worth the extra drive.

On the plus side, we did get lots of compliments on our matching tie dyed T-shirts!

(P.S. Instructions for the hairdo can be found HERE. Instructions for the shirts HERE.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Are You a Kindred Mom? (reposted)

I posted this last July. Now that is it summer again, I thought I would repost it so you could gauge your comfort level at my home. I am thinking of making another test, so if you have some creative Kindred Mom questions let me know and I will add them to my next test.

~Find out if you are a kindred mom or not~

1. Have you ever played the “find that smell" game?
A) Yes, and I have offered an award to whomever wins.
B) I might have once, but the the smell was not caused by my action and/or inaction.
C) What is the “find that smell game?”

2. Have you ever noticed your child doing something against the rules and pretended you hadn’t seen because they were staying out of your hair?
A) Yes, and I got mad when another child tattled and I couldn’t pretend anymore.
B) For a minute (I couldn’t stop what I was doing when I first noticed), but stopped the child as soon as I could.
C) I always stop my child as soon as I see them disobeying, which is RARELY, maybe never.

3. Have you ever scoured the house to find a missing library book?
A) Yes, I found it in the laundry basket in the basement (or some other ridiculous place) –or- had to pay for the book only to find it a year later.
B) Yes, I found it under my child’s bed.
C) My library books are always put away, and my own children books are in pristine condition.

4. Have you ever realized it is bedtime and you haven’t fed the kids dinner?
A) Yes, and I couldn’t remember if they had breakfast or lunch, but they did get into all the chips and popcorn and cereal (I know because their remnants are all over the floors of the house).
B) Yes, but we were out and didn’t have time to eat yet.
C) I always have a nutritious, delicious gourmet dinner, that my children devour, ready at 5:00.

5. Have you ever yelled at your children to stop yelling?
A) Only after spanking their hand because they were hitting.
B) Yes, but I try not to raise my voice too often.
C) I never yell at my children, who would only raise their voices if the house was on fire.

6. Have you ever sent the kids to bed a little early because there was a treat you had, that you didn’t want to share?
A) I am an expert at hiding ice cream bowls quickly in case my threats of death go unheeded and they still come downstairs.
B) A few times, but they wouldn’t have liked the treat –or- I made/got it after they were in bed so I couldn't share.
C) No, I don’t eat things unhealthy and I always share all my treats with my children and husband.

7. Have you ever let your child eat something they dropped on the ground, using the 3 second rule excuse?
A) More like 3 hour rule.
B) Yeah, as long as it is a floor I know is super clean.
C) No way!

8. Have you ever let your child’s diaper stay on so long it sags to their knees and/or ignored the smell of what they had done in it?
A) Either that or they take it off themselves and I have to play the "find that smell" game.
B) Yes, but my husband was watching them and I changed it as soon as I got home.
C) No, I change my baby’s diapers every 2 hours unless they pee or otherwise use it sooner.

9. Have you ever been washing a pot and realized it was from dinner several days ago?
A) Try a week ago
B) Maybe a couple of days of old
C) I never have dirty dishes, I wash them immediately after using them.

10. Have you ever told your child “maybe in a minute” and then forgot?
A) My child thinks “maybe in a minute” means “no”, besides, that is better than saying “yes” and then forgetting!
B) I did, but I did go do it when the child reminded me.
C) I always drop whatever I am doing to play with my children.

11. Have you ever gotten to church only to notice your child still has bed-head and/or a huge stain on their outfit?
A) Yes, and once they went to church wearing only socks and/or their rattiest shoes on their feet.
B) Once, but only my boys’ hair or the stain happened on the way to church -or- it has happened, but not at church.
C) My children look perfect every time they exit the house, and I don’t own any clothes with stains on them.

12. Have you ever gotten to the store only to realize your hair is still pulled into the ponytail you threw it in when you got up, your wearing your worst cleaning clothes, and you’re wearing no makeup?
A) Yes, and I had forgotten I was only wearing slippers –or- you should have seen what the kids were wearing!
B) Not to that extreme, but I have hoped I wouldn't see someone I knew while I was out.
C) I look perfect every time I exit the house and even my cleaning clothes are fashionable enough to wear out and about.

13. Have you ever had to force your baby to ride in the stroller or store cart because you couldn’t find their shoes when you were leaving and thought they might be in the car?
A) Either that or they were wearing mismatched shoes.
B) At least they had on socks.
C) I always know where my kids’ shoes are. Either where they belong or where I go to clean them every week and since my car is spotless, I would never think the shoes were there.

14. Have you ever ignored the fact that your children are awake and playing in their rooms even though you sent them to bed?
A) Just about every night.
B) Every once in a while, more often on weekends and during summer.
C) No, my children always go to bed at 5:30 and fall asleep directly after I bathe them, tuck them in, read them a story, tell them a story, and sing them 3 songs.

15. When you read this test (My answers are all A’s) how did you feel?
A) I laughed
B) I rolled my eyes
C) I was horrified

Scoring: A=2, B=1, C=0

= You should feel comfortable dropping by anytime
10-19= You would probably feel more comfortable stopping by if you give me 1 hour - 24 hour warning (depending on the score)
0-9= You might need a lot of tolerance to stop by my house, but you are still always welcome

Too busy to really be called Summer Vacation

Our first full week of summer vacation is coming to a close and I have to admit, I am really enjoying myself. I've even enjoyed having the children around. We have been to the zoo, bowling, piano lessons, friends' houses & park. We have been on the water at least once every day and had company over to play twice, even though it was raining both days. I am a little tired. Today will be no different. We are tie dying T-shirts and cleaning out the garage. Even though we cleaned it out really well just a month ago, it smells like something crawled in there and did its business & I have to play the worst game of find-that-smell ever.

Anyway, I am in the middle of a haiku contest at Diapers and Divinity. If you'd like to vote, click over here. If you'd like to read my full haiku (it is cut down to 2 stanzas on the contest page)read the comments here. The contest ends tonight.

Summer is the time for playdates and friends visiting (especially if you live on a private beach). We love company, even drop-ins. I thought, in honor of the season and my impending find-that-smell game, I would repost my Kindred Mom Test. Look for it later today. I had so much fun doing it last year. In fact, it was so much fun writing last year that I think I might even make another test. If you have a kindred mom question, let me know and I will add it into the questions!

I hope your day is a little less smelly than mine!