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Friday, October 28, 2016

New Baby Prep and the Threat Level of a Gerbil-Zombie Apocalypse

Like a busy, hugely pregnant beaver I have stocked up on soups, quick home-made frozen meals, ketchup, vitamin water and apple juice.  And french fries.  And teeny, tiny Halloween candy.  (Five bags…)  Also, Costco-bought toilet paper, paper towel, and Kleenex.  And Chicken Pot Pie. 

What else does a new mom need?  We’ll be ready for this baby, or the zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.  Just a quick question that will be explained later - does anyone think a GERBIL zombie apocalypse would be scary?

It’s an exciting next few weeks.  Halloween (the first one Ellie will be cognizant enough to enjoy…or hate.)  She does love candy.  She’s not exactly a fan of strangers and since the whole point is to go door to door talking to strangers for candy…well I guess we’ll find out which is greater - her love of candy or her fear of strangers.

Then there’s tha ‘lection.  I think by this point it’s clear Hillary will win and I predict, by a landslide.  I can’t imagine anyone who is a woman, loves a woman, or has a daughter who would vote for that guy.  Hillary may have trust issues but I trust my daughter is safe if they happen to ever be in the same room together.  I do feel bad for Republicans - I’m sure they’re all scratching their heads wondering how that guy ever got to be the nominee in the first place.  

If Paul Ryan had stayed in, or..there were a couple other Republican candidates that were decent.  Rubio, I liked him.

Anyway since I'm Canadian and can’t vote…all this is a moot point.  They won’t let me vote in the Canadian elections anymore either since I’ve been here in America so long.  It’s really starting to drive me nuts.  I think it’s probably time I at least LOOKED into getting dual citizenship.  First things first.  The newest American citizen is about to be born.

I’ve washed and rewashed the blankets and sheets and gender neutral new-born onsies we had from when Ellie was born.

I’ve spent every afternoon quietly noshing on chocolate and cookies while Ellie naps.  In preparation for…the rigors of birth shall we say?

I think though, that I’m done.  I can’t think of anything else we need in bulk or can do to make the new-baby house less stressful.  I even finished Ellie and Bill’s Christmas shopping.  I figured it’s a lot easier now than it will be with a 2.5 year old AND a new-born.

Now I think I can rest.  No more baking and cooking and cleaning every weekend.  Except maybe making some macaroons this weekend.  Yum….I even made and froze some pancakes.  I may have gone a leeeetle overboard.  (I did get maple syrup at Costco - that’s just good spending.)  

And now I’m going to just rest, and wait.  Probably could put away the 500 piece Halloween puzzle I ambitiously dumped all over the dining room table a month ago.  I got about 20 pieces together.  Probably could put that puzzle away for a few YEARS, until the kids are old enough not to want to eat/carry off the pieces and give them to the dog to eat.

Last thing to do is finish the short story contest I started.  It’s supposed to be a horror with an addiction theme.  I wrote about 10,000 words and then realized there was no horror in it at all.  

Zip.  Zero.

Two cute boys and some straight-talking, really interesting girls but…nothing scary.  So, I added Zombie Gerbils at the end.  Probably not a contest I should have tried to enter.  

Cutsy-cozy mystery about a sweet girl who fell for the wrong boy?  Got that covered.  Serious horror - ew.

And I wonder why my writing career hasn’t taken off yet….

“It ain’t watch write, it’s the way atcha write it.”  Jack Kerouac.







Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tantrums. So...my 2 year old and the current presidential nominees


            I’ve got three and a half weeks left until this squirmy, kicky, bladder head-butting little guy makes his appearance. 

            I’m not sleeping much at night but I am starting to feel better about it, I’m in the home stretch!  I’m really trying to enjoy the time with Ellie, how easy it is now for us to get around town and run errands, how our routine allows me to read, and write, and nap if I need to.  I’m savoring every cuddle, every snooze, every big-girl independence she so stubbornly holds out for. 

She still has random tantrums from time to time.  She cried because she wanted me to play the Frozen CD and when I put it on she cried because she didn’t want to listen to it.  So I took it out, then she cried because she wanted to listen to it…etc into completely irrational melt-down city. 

What’s a mom to do?  I sympathized, I empathized, I distracted.  The tears stopped when I gave up on figuring out what she wanted and put my ‘Spa’ music on.  I calmed down and, weirdly, she calmed down.  I guess I’ll have to adjust to the fact that as a mom, I’m not always going to know what to do.  You'd think I would have adjusted to that already...

I always thought being a parent was just about loving them but I suspect you also need to be able to stay emotionally centered to be a good parent.  I find if I constantly ‘mom’ myself, being aware of when I’M feeling tantrumy or tired or stressed and take steps to alleviate it then Ellie and I have easier days.  It’s not that her behavior changes so much that when I’ve got patience and a calm center, I’m able to keep from overreacting or over-personalizing.

            For example she didn’t ON PURPOSE spill yogurt all over her shirt when I am rushing to get us out the door for an appointment.  She didn’t begin to walk more slowly and stop to pick up a leaf from the floor because she KNEW we were already late and she wanted to make me PULL MY HAIR OUT.

            No, she’s just being a kid.  And it’s my job to stop, take a deep breath, and keep things in perspective already.

            Speaking of keeping things in perspective – I have to, HAVE to talk about the elections and the third and last presidential debate.

            First, I have to say I’m disappointed they didn’t shake hands again at the beginning.  Second, Trump seemed to do better there for awhile; he was subdued for the first 30 minutes or so. 

            Third, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but no matter who wins, this election has done more for the current democratic system than probably any other election before it.  I think this election has more people talking about real issues (like abortion, women’s rights, access to healthcare and higher education not to mention immigration, gun laws) than any other election before it. 

            These issues are hot button issues – people often feel passionately one way or the other.
 
            I think debate is very good for us as people, and for us as a country no matter which side of the issues you fall on.  If you’re sitting in a room and everyone there agrees with you…you’re not learning anything new. 

In fact the discussions tend to devolve into conspiracy theories and crazy ‘facts’.  You stop thinking critically when you’re in a room with like-minded people and untruths get accepted without the proper research.  Worst of all, you come away thinking you’ve got a fully developed and researched opinion when…well…when you don’t.

If we can disagree with one another, debate the issues and feel out exactly WHY we believe the way we do, well, we may walk away with our convictions all the stronger because of it.  We’ll certainly walk away with a better understanding of ‘the other side’ and maybe realize there IS no divisive US vs THEM, there’s just US. 

People. 

Regular people who work hard and cherish their children, who only want the best for the people they love.  Friends who, no matter how unbelievable their opinions seem to me, would be there for me in an instant if I needed them.

That’s the kind of friendships I want to have.  I want to be friends with people who make me think, who push me, who stand up for what they believe, even if I think they’re wrong.  (And vice versa)

That’s the only way to the truth as I see it.  It’s certainly the only way to a robust, educated opinion.  If I may be so bold, it’s the only way to a robust, educated society.  We teach each other or we separate into different camps and grow slowly more and more entrenched and invested in half-opinions and fearful stories.  Nothing good can come of that.

Well, as usual that’s just my two cents.  At least the presidential tantrums will be over soon...and maybe the first female president.  Whether or not you like her or agree with her, that's AMAZING.  She may be doing it for the first time for all of us women.  For our little girls.

“An educated, enlightened and informed population is one of the surest ways of promoting the health of a democracy.”  Nelson Mendela.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Elections and Births, How Good Girls Go Bad, Why My Dog is Addicted to Drugs.

Four weeks to go.  FOUR.  I.  can.  do.  it!   Four more weeks until this magical, wonderful, sacred, miraculous experience is over.  Thank.  God.  

Yep, about 4 weeks left until the country finally picks between Trump and Hillary on November 8th.

Oh, and I’m having a baby a few days later too.  I may also be pushing Bill to move to Canada…we’ll see who wins Nov 8th.

Baby Update - He enjoys long walks in the womb and standing on my bladder.  He loves a good kick to the spleen and savors a good roundhouse-punch combo to the belly that makes me look like an extra on the movie Alien.

He’s over 5 pounds right now and it could still be a she.  We won’t find out until the election.  I mean, the BIRTH.  It is exciting isn’t it?

Ellie Update - When I dropped her off at ‘school’ this week she didn’t even look behind her.  I’m proud, relieved, and a little bereft at the same time.

Toby Update - Toby, my Xanax addicted Chihuahua mix has now added Benadryl to his nightly routine.  He is, in fact, allergic to his own fur.  We know this because he has kept his allergies from two different countries and three states.  Either he’s allergic to himself or me.  Maybe it’s Bill.

Angie Update - Between Toby’s scratching (I ran out of Benadryl) , Bill’s snores, my own heartburn/reflux plus joint pain and frequent needs to pee…I’m averaging about 3 hours sleep a night. 

As a result I am not my usual chipper self.  And by that I mean…the girl from that Exorcist movie saw me this morning and RAN THE OTHER WAY.  This is how good girls go bad.  Right here.  Eight months pregnant, no sleep, reaming out patience and love to a toddler all day until there is nothing left inside but the urge to eat tubs of ice cream in sweet, sweet silence.  And to pee. 

House Update - After a few months long (boring) saga where I tried to get a fence built but found I had to jump through hoops of fire (HOA) and fill out forms in triplicate and sweat blood and tears (HOA)…the fence people came and started today.  I am so excited to remove the chair and fence and barb wire I had to erect around my willow tree in the backyard.  At the risk of offending anyone who has ever lived in a ghetto...it looks pretty ghetto.  And now I’ll be able to plant things and THEY WON’T GET EATEN!  Also, no more worries about deer poop when Ellie totters around the yard half on her feet and half on her hands and feet. 

To sum up - When dealing with a dog who scratches a lot, don’t forget to take his squeaky toys out of his bed at night.  (Squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak, SQUEEAAAK.   Squeak.  Squeak.)  When putting your toddler on potty in a brand new dress, don’t forget to make sure the back is up ABOVE the toilet.  When dealing with an HOA - it pays to remember they’re humorless and hate you on principle.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Top 10 Signs you’re Really, Really Pregnant:

Top 10 signs you’re really, really pregnant:

10) You’re constantly making lists of what you’ll need in your hospital overnight bag.  You know, which chocolate bars, what kind of chips.

9) If someone mentions ONE MORE TIME how you must be ready to go ANY DAY and you have 6 weeks left…you’re going to tweak their nose and stamp on their feet.  If you can find their feet.

8) You have to turn sideways to get your tea mug in the morning.

7) You’re getting hands and arms of steel just washing the dishes.  That will happen when your belly is pushing you so far away from the counter you’re washing with the tips of your fingers. 

6) Depending on the dominant color you’re wearing you either look like an orange, a watermelon, or a pumpkin.

5) Your innie is now an outie.

4) You can see your toenails, but you can’t reach them anymore.  Pedicure anyone?

3) You need tubs of whale blubber harvested from a special region in Alaska just to get your wedding band off each night.  You haven’t worn your engagement ring since month three.  Come to think of it, you haven’t seen it since then either…

2) You regard something you’ve dropped on the floor with the same regret you’d watch it falling off the edge of the Grand Canyon.  That stuff is gone for good.

1) You don’t even notice the sounds you make as you try to get in and out of bed anymore but hubbie will rush in now and again asking what all the groaning was about.  You tell him you don’t know but it IS all his fault.

And a special treat today - a poem worthy of T.S. Eliot himself:

                                                The 3am Pregnant Poem:

                                                     Crack of the Tums
                                                  The urge to pee (again)
                                              Dragging my elephant body up

Beautiful isn’t it?  And quite magical.  I think it captures the essence of the wonder and mystery of ushering in a new living soul to this strange world.  

Maybe I should keep trying…

“To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life.”  T.S.Eliot.


Sunday, October 02, 2016

Roll down the windows, See past the fear and Connect my friends to Failing as Parent.

BUT THAT’S JUST HOW TEXAS IS:

I used to love spring because I got to turn off the heat and roll down the windows and ‘hear the world again’.  And smell the grass (and the mud).  And hear people chatting and dogs barking and the world just seems to come alive after being asleep all winter.

Here it’s fall when I’m finally able to shut off the AC and roll down the windows and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  I can smell fresh cut grass, and donuts, and gun oil.  See, pretty much the same here in Texas just a little different.

BUT THAT’S JUST MY OPINION:

And now to politics.  I’m just going to say…yes I watched the debate.  Instead of letting myself totally unravel into a pit of despair and misery I will just say that both sides aren’t angels.  Both are using some sort of fear tactic whether it’s fear of Trump’s temper, and his general disgusting view of women and hispanics and blacks in particular, or of Hillary…well I’m not sure what they’re afraid Hillary is going to do but they sound really frightened about the possibility she will be president.  Something about a 'progressive agenda' which sounds a lot better than a nuclear war because China insulted his hair style.

I’m looking forward to seeing the first female president, and to showing Ellie every time Hillary comes on TV.  Is she perfect?  Of course not.  Would she be getting this much flak if she were a man?  Nope.  

Does she have a track record in politics that some may see as inconsistent?  Yep.  But she HAS a track record.  Because she’s made decisions and weighed global consequences and then gone back the next day and done it again.  For something like twenty years.  I don’t understand why people would WANT an outsider to global politics.  Kind of seems like something you should have dipped your toe into first before declaring yourself master and commander of all.  

But that’s just my opinion…

BUT MY LITTLE WEED:

I was weeding the other day, early in the morning before it got too hot and I was a little lost in the process.  A weed.  Another weed.  Three more weeds.  Pull, pull, turn and pull, dump in bucket, pull, pull.  

There’s something meditative about the repetition, about being outside in the soft morning sun.  And then a pine cone dropped from a branch high above me.  I heard it bounce between the branches and fall to the ground.  I don’t know why but it struck me as magical and amazing.  This much peace, and sort of quiet joy.  So quiet I can hear the pine cones falling.  It’s every-day magic.  A balm to the soul.  

Why did I need said balm?  Because I’ve failed as a parent, yet again. 

The day before Ellie had a total-major-crazy break-down tantrum with full high pitched screaming in the middle of a lunch date with a friend.  At a busy restaurant.  

I was mortified.  

But actually, worse than that, I was more embarrassed about my own reaction.  I can usually, USUALLY stop and focus on her and what she needs and figure it out.  

In this case, I was starving and the tantrum hit just at the wrong time (right when the waiter put my plate of carb-licious spaghetti in front of me).  So, pregnant, starving, and now my toddler is screaming her head off for no apparent reason I can deduce.  I got angry.  And impatient.  And disconnected from love.  From her.  Why is she ruining my lunch time!?

I got her calmed down eventually, distracting her with the phone but it wasn’t easy or quick.  So the next day, I’m vigorously yanking weeds and wondering where I went wrong.  

I looked around at my pumpkin plants who are showing a little yellow around the roots.  I thought…I’m not mad because the pumpkin is having trouble.  I’m not telling it to stop turning yellow, (useless) and that it’s embarrassing me in front of my friend and people I don’t know who are judging me (useless and it doesn’t care).  I’m sitting there trying to figure out what I need to do to help it thrive.  What does it need?  More water?  Is it a pest problem?  Does it need more fertilizer? 

This is how I usually try to react to Ellie when she spins off into a tantrum.  Her yellow leaved tantrums aren’t a reflection on me and my parenting ability.  She needs something and it’s my job to take my own ego out of the picture and figure it out.

I see the way some parents shut down their kids with statements like ‘you’re embarrassing me, stop crying right now or….’ etc.  These things may work in the short term but ultimately if we shut them down we’re missing out on a chance at a real connection with them.  They’re feeling, thinking, evaluating little beings who need us to get past our selves and really SEE them.

I’m not saying Ellie would have sat down and had a logical conversation with me while in high-tantrum gear - once she’s already there it’s more like…we need to wait out the emotional storm with love and patience.  I missed the steps before it, and in truth was just trying to keep her distracted so I could talk to my friend and eat.  Which is fine most of the time but that day she needed a little extra connection and she didn’t get it.  That combined with the full sugar apple juice I gave her and the fact she was tired…it was the perfect storm.

All that to say…my failure was a parent wasn’t the fact my kid had a tantrum in a public place.  It happens to EVERYONE.

It was the fact that I was disconnected from that calm, loving place inside myself that would have allowed me to connect with her and thereby diffuse the situation.  I could feel it, she could feel it.  

She felt MY anxiety and anger and impatience and was reacting to it, too.  They’re incredibly attuned to our emotions.  If you think about it, they depend on us for everything they need from food and water to affection and protection.  How sensitive would you be to the moods of someone who controlled everything you needed to survive and thrive?

To sum up... “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you  don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”   Thich Nhat Hanh