Tuesday, January 31, 2012

That darn school bell!

When kindergarten first started...


...I had no trouble getting Chickie to school early, every day.

What happened?! Lately it seems that more often than not, we're right outside the building, or in the hallway leading to her classroom, when that darn school bell rings!

This morning I thought we were doing great, and somehow things fell apart, and I was getting more and more stressed. I yelled at the kids to get in their car seats. I rushed as I walked them to the building. Chickie wanted to "play the crack game" in which she walks with one foot on either side of a sidewalk crack. Sometimes this slows her down. Today, honestly, it didn't seem to be slowing her down, but Mama did not have patience for a silly game!

I told Chickie to stop playing the game. She wouldn't. I grabbed the back of her backpack and attempted to pull her toward the school door on the shortest trajectory possible. She resisted, pulling the other way.

So I let go of the backpack, knowing she'd fall. She did.

It was not my proudest moment. I kind of felt like crawling into a turtle shell somewhere. Another parent was just exiting the building and he saw the whole thing. I avoided looking at him and explained to Chickie with a shaky, hormonal voice how much I just want her to be at school on time.

"I don't care if I'm on time," Chickie said.

"Well, I do," I said. "Don't you care about ME? Don't you want to care about it because I do?"

What a morning. I tried to force my daughter to hurry, and then I pulled her, and then I let her fall, and then I gave her a guilt trip. I felt about this big.

And then I spent the walk to her classroom apologizing to her. We were 10 feet from the door when that darn school bell rang. I took the time to give her a hug anyway, and sent her into her class.

As I drove home, I thought about what I should do. One option is to give Chickie a consequence if we're late because she's dawdling. (That was part of our issue this morning.) I may need to do that; she needs to learn to get ready more efficiently, and to care whether she's late or not.

But realistically, I know that there's one person in the house who has the most power over when we leave the house. And it's not Chickie. Or Zoodle. It's me.

I'm the one that sets my alarm at night. I'm the one that decides when to actually get out of bed and wake up Chickie. I'm the one that decides what all really needs to be done before we leave the house. And I'm the one that sets the tone, whether it's one of positivity and relaxation, or one of stress and anger.

So I've decided that we must leave 25 minutes before school starts (if we're driving) and 40 minutes before school starts (if we're walking.) That will get us to school 10-15 minutes early. I just have to build everything around that time. And I know on the mornings when something happens to mess up our plans at the last minute, we'll still have plenty of "cushion" so that we're on time. That means setting the alarm earlier, and choosing an attitude that somehow combines efficiency with patience.

I have a lot of influence over how my daughter's day starts. I want to use my influence for good, every morning!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why I cried today...

My best friend (and this baby's mom) Ann did her first half marathon today! I met her at the finish line, and then she showed me what she'd worn on her back for the race.


(Thanks to Ann for providing the close-up shot of the sign.)

So, yeah, I cried. And then later I kept looking at it and thinking about it and getting tears in my eyes again. It totally made my day!

Ann's blog post about the race is WONDERFUL. She explains why she did it for me, and how she considered those 13.1 miles to be her version of "labor and delivery." You've got to read it, here.

GREAT JOB, Ann!! I'm so proud of you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Smooth sailin'

I wrote last week about the challenges of being a gestational carrier. I'm so happy to report that these days, the sailin' is smooth.

Ann and I have tried to keep the lines of communication open through this process, but there have been times we just haven't known how to effectively communicate. Lately, however, we've both had breakthroughs that have made a big difference.

By sharing more about her pain, Ann has been receiving wonderful support from the people around her. She's finding so much freedom. I can see that a weight has been lifted from her. It's hard to live in dark places when there are so many people wanting to support you and bring you into light! The reality of cancer and infertility isn't always easy, but Ann is choosing to focus the bulk of her attention on the beauty of this situation, and to accept the love and support of the people around her.

Ann also encouraged me to be more open with her about how I was feeling--even when that's hard for her to hear. It's not easy for me to share things that feel "confrontational," but Ann made it so clear to me that she wants the truth! After writing my blog post, I was able to talk to Ann in more detail about my struggles with this process, and she's been so caring to me. I also have been choosing to enjoy spending time with Ann, instead of withdrawing due to my emotions and hormones.

In other words, Ann and I are both purposefully enjoying this process more, and purposefully doing things that help the other person to enjoy it too. It's a whole lot more fun doing it this way.

I know that the nature of this situation means there may still be emotionally-charged times, and that's okay. But Ann and I both feel we've crossed a bridge, leaving the most difficult times behind us. We're both really excited to experience the next 5+ months of pregnancy together, and to meet an amazing little baby at the end of that time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chickie and the BGF

Chickie is opinionated. And I do love that about her, but it gets annoying when I make her something crocheted and, after telling me she likes it, she decides not to wear it. I beg; I plead; I reason with her...and yet if she doesn't want to wear something, she doesn't want to wear it.

Recently I was stitching a purple hat for a customer. I ran out of yarn when I was about 90% through with the hat...and despite looking online and at four local stores, I couldn't find more of the yarn. It may have been discontinued.

So I decided to start the hat over with a different brand of yarn. But then I was stuck with a hat that was 90% complete.

Until it hit me.... This could be a hat for Chickie! So I pulled out some of the stitches, and made a tighter band that would fit her little head. I ended up with an adorable, slouchy hat. She said she liked it...


...until she wore it to school one day, and quickly took it off her head before she entered her classroom. Sigh. She really cares about what her friends think, and clearly she wasn't sure this hat would meet their approval.

Enter the BGF.

A BGF is the way to a six-year-old little girl's heart. A BGF just might, I thought, make this hat something Chickie would want to wear, even around her friends. A BGF was worth a shot.



So yesterday I got to work with the small amount of purple yarn I had left, and added some hot pink yarn. A while later, I had a genuine BGF, and it was attached to the hat.


Chickie not only wore it into the classroom today; she was wearing it when she came to the car after school. And that BGF even got her some compliments...so I bet she'll wear the hat again.


Hey, I'm the mom of a six-year-old. I gotta add to my toolbox whenever I can...even if the tool is big and gaudy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What's up?

This time of year is a little crazy. I've been thinking how I need to blog about the crocheting I'm doing (lots of orders in the winter!), and Chickie's sixth birthday (three days ago!) and The Engineer's and my 12th anniversary (two days ago!) Lots of excitement. At some point I should sit down and gush about my kindergartener and how well she's doing with reading. I should do an interview with Zoodle, who has this awesomely cute voice and face--he definitely needs to be on video more often than he is.

All in time...or maybe not. Life just keeps swirling whether I blog or not!

And in that swirling life, there's the challenging stuff too. The stuff I haven't been blogging about. Well, okay, to be honest, I haven't been blogging about much at all. But I wonder if not blogging about the challenging stuff is stifling my blogging instinct altogether. So, here goes....

The Pregnancy

This journey as a gestational carrier...it's kinda crazy. It's emotional. And not in the ways I expected.

I expected that it might be confusing, bonding with someone else's baby. And so far, that just hasn't been very challenging. We'll see how things go over the next 5 1/2 months...and after the birth, when my hormones may toss me around for awhile!

But so far, I'm really trying to enjoy this pregnancy for what it is. I'm not bonding as a mother with this child, but I'm enjoying carrying him or her. I love my pregnant body. It's got curves it doesn't usually have, and I feel beautiful! I'm feeling little "taps" when the baby moves, and it's such a miraculous thing to know that a small human is growing daily inside me. My whole mindset is different than it was with my kids--as it should be. But I'm enjoying being this child's temporary guardian, and want to continue to enjoy that.

What I didn't anticipate--what I don't think any of us did--was that this journey would be so challenging for Ann. Onlookers (women, anyway) tend to think about how they'd handle being a carrier for someone else. Most people don't think about how it would feel to watch someone else carrying their child.

Ann really wants to carry her own children! When her daughter was carried by someone else, that situation had some really intense, unique stressors, and Ann was dealing with all that. This time, without those stressors, Ann is "free" to really feel. To really grieve the loss of her ability to carry babies. And it has been, at times, very, very painful.

It's also been at times very, very joyful! With the pain and the joy, it's been, as Ann has called it, a roller coaster! And since we are striving to join as partners and truly share this pregnancy, it has been a roller coaster for both of us.

I'll be honest--it's not just Ann! I've been hormonal, and emotional, and sometimes I've pulled away. Our friendship has been challenged with stuff that most friends never have to deal with. We haven't always handled it well along the way, but I think we're handling it well overall. We are communicating--a LOT--about what our needs are in this unique relationship. Ann is learning to share more with me. I'm learning to choose my attitudes instead of being controlled by hormones. We both dream of having a lifelong friendship, and we expect to come out of this particular 9 months with a much deeper bond because of what we're working through.

I see the fight that Ann is fighting, and I rejoice in her victories! She is learning so much about herself, and this time of difficult healing is leaving her stronger, as a woman and a mother and a child of God.

It's just been hard at times. Hard and awesome and emotionally difficult and emotionally thrilling and bitter and sweet. And so totally worth it. Ann and I both dream of that moment when this child comes out of my body and into her arms...that moment when this child's mother holds him or her for the first time. I dream of looking back at the journey and saying, "It was harder than we expected. But it was so much more beautiful than we expected, too."

Ann has given me permission to share links to two posts she recently wrote about her struggles and victories. The first, Resentments, is very "raw" but definitely conveys the depth of her struggles. The second post, In Good Times And In Bad Times, shows how she is finding joy through this process, and not letting the difficult parts overcome her.

The Engineer's Family

In my post about Christmas, I hinted at the difficulties that awaited us when we visited The Engineer's mom and stepdad. At this point, I still can't go into details. I'll just say...aging isn't always easy. Sometimes it's very painful, not just for the person getting older, but for the entire family. Decisions are being made, decisions that aren't easy or fun. And The Engineer is in charge of a whole lot of it.

He's awesome--I'm so proud of him. I see his desire to take the best care of his mother that he can take. I see his desire to make the best decisions that he can make. I see his pain, as he knows that sometimes there aren't any "good" choices, only a "best" choice. In less than a month, some changes will hopefully have been implemented. Honestly, none of us are looking forward to what's coming. We are praying for God's divine intervention in this situation, and as vague as this is, I'd appreciate your prayers too, if you're the praying type.

The pregnancy has to be way up on my priority list right now, and I'm so glad The Engineer is handling all the stuff with his family. He's busy with work and church, and his plate doesn't really have room for one more (big) thing, but he's handling it with a grace that makes me love him more. I just want to choose to trust that God's grace is even bigger than The Engineer's, and that He'll walk with us all through this.

So...that's what's up. And now that it's off my chest...I'm looking forward to writing some fun, "happy mommy" posts. Soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tune into Jeopardy! today!

Remember how almost two years ago, my sister was on Jeopardy!? I didn't mention it at the time, but her husband had been on the famous quiz show the year before. There are a lot of IQ points in that household!

Now our brother Sean has joined the grand tradition! He'll make his national television debut on Jeopardy! today! The show is syndicated, which means it's shown at different times and on different channels, in various locations. You can find the show time in your area by clicking here.

So tune in and watch Sean today! Apparently you can even see a little of his interview/intro with Alex Trebek on the commercial that airs all day prior to the showing. I'm hoping to watch our local Jeopardy! affiliate today to see if I can catch the ad!

I would like to point out that I feel pretty special.... I'm the only one of the three of us siblings who hasn't been on Jeopardy! How many people can claim such an honor?! In all seriousness, I'm really proud of my big brother Sean, and I know he's really excited. (But no, I don't plan to attempt to make it "three for three." I'm just not as good at trivia as my esteemed siblings, so I'll leave the quiz shows to them!)

In closing, a little Jeopardy!-style answer/question of my own:

A: This word looks weird and misspelled when you type it repeatedly.
Q: What is Jeopardy!?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pink flowers...green thumb?

At The Engineer's holiday party for work, we won one of the table centerpieces. It was an amaryllis in a vase. I know very little about plants, and I must say, it wasn't much to look at. It hadn't bloomed, and it looked something like this:

I have a "black thumb." I'm very good at killing plants. But when we were given the box that the centerpiece had come in, it showed photos of the blooms, and they looked really pretty. I figured it was worth a shot--I'd see if I could get this thing to bloom before committing unintentional planticide.

I went to the website listed on the box, and read a bit about caring for amaryllises (amarylli?). Turns out they need very little water--it's a lot easier to over-water than to under-water them. Perfect!

So I gave it a bit of water, and then let it sit. We went on vacation. We came home, and it was a lot taller. I was encouraged to see that it had grown (instead of groaning, as my plants tend to do.)

Then a couple of days later, the bud started to open. It took several days, but eventually we had a gorgeous, big bloom. And then there were two more blooms, several days later!

And I'm proud to show you our beautiful amaryllis, as of today....

I haven't killed it! And it's pretty!

What's next? Maybe a little herb garden? We'll see. For now, I'll just enjoy this proof that my thumb may indeed not be entirely black.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"And so this is Christmas"

We spent Christmas in California with The Engineer's mom and stepdad. We enjoyed the beauty of far-northern California. We even got to choose our own Christmas tree from the forest!


Honestly, in a lot of ways it was a tough trip. I can't go into detail in this public forum, but The Engineer's mom is in her 80s, and, well, sometimes age makes things complicated. It was an important trip to take, but I am very glad to be home.

Thankfully it wasn't all stressful! Christmas was really lovely. The night before, we put out reindeer food, plus cookies and milk for Santa (with letters from the kids.)


The next morning, the kids got up, and we confirmed that the cookies and reindeer food had been eaten!

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We all got gifts we were excited about...

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...and we had a really nice, relaxing day together...ending it by eating an "engineered turkey"! I wish I'd gotten a picture--The Engineer made a fantastic turkey. He did his research (like a true engineer) and we ended up with a delicious bird with crispy skin and moist meat.

We stayed in California until the 29th, and then headed back home. The 30th was The Engineer's birthday, and we also had our belated family Christmas that night.

For some reason this Spiderman car/boat/plane toy has been a big hit with Zoodle!


The big toy was Chickie's new Barbie Dream House. (This is a combo birthday-Christmas gift since it's a larger gift than we'd planned to purchase this year.) It was another hit (of course.)


I'm finding Christmas is so much fun as the kids get older. Everything is just so exciting to them. I'm looking forward to next year (or I guess that's really this year--Happy New Year, all!!)