Monday, January 19, 2009

The Downside Proof of being a Stay At Home Mom

I'm a stay at home mom. And when someone is a stay at home person, they basically stay home all the time. That's like their degree and what they do best at.

Myself included.

I do get out every once in awhile. You know, to put gas in the van. Or buy milk. Or maybe I'll be really wicked and go shopping. But basically, my driver's license only comes in handy when there's no one else on the block to rush my bleeding and dying child to the hospital and I have to be the brave hero that responsibly transports the innocent child to the local ER. Actually, that's never happened so I'm really not sure why I have my driver's license...

Anyway, on a certain day of a certain week recently, my charming husband was busy working on our basement project. Unfortunately, the incompetent delivery men truck from a few days earlier had not supplied us with the ingredients we had ordered that we needed in order to progress in our project. We were lacking in the "installation kit" to the drop ceiling Toby was installing in the basement. And if you don't have the installation kit, basically you can't install the drop ceiling.

So, being the virtuous wife that I aim to be occasionally everyday, I offered to go pick up the TWO installation kits that had not been delivered.

(This entailed a trip to Menards.)

My dear husband took me up on the offer and was relieved when I also offered to take our screaming youngest child with me. That enabled him to accomplish more work without having to care for our screaming littlest child.

As I headed out the door, Toby handed me the 3 foot long receipt I needed for proof that the installation kits were already paid for and also included the delivery report that the incompetent delivery guys had given us when they delivered all most of our stuff.

On a side note, he had written a few more supplies that I could pick up since I was going to Menards anyway. While on my way into town, he added a few more things to the list via my handy cell phone. And while I was shopping at Menards he called a few more times to add a couple other grab-while-you're-there-anyway items.

The list included (but was not limited to) the following:

24" right swing pre-hung door (6' long)
Black door knob
2- door stops
2- light fixtures
4- 8' long medium grade 1x4's

As I went into town patting myself on the back for being such a flexible person that was able to drop everything and just run into town for 2 installation kits so my husband could finish a project, our screaming youngest child sat in his car seat as quiet as a mouse. I was noticing that and commented to myself (quietly, mind you) that the child seemed quite out of the ordinarily quiet. I had to look in the rear-view mirror to make sure I hadn't left him on the side of the driveway. There he was sitting there perfectly quiet. What a nice surprise.

Suddenly, my passenger yelled:


I responded meekly with, "What?"

He said, "MOM!"

I said, "What?"

He repeated, "MOM!"

I said, "What Alex?"

To which he contemplated for a second and then said, "MOM! MOM!"

I decided to be quiet since responding wasn't helping him get his point across.

He said, "MOOOOOM!!!"

Not being able to figure out what this code word was, I glanced back at him and noticed he was adamantly pointing his finger at something in the front of the van. I could see my purse, a plastic bag, some paper and a box of Kleenex.

"What do you want, Alex?"

Getting more excited he said, "MOM! MOM! MOM! MOM!"

I finally turned on the CD player, thinking maybe that's what he needed.

There was no resounding "mom."

And then Alex started singing and looking out the window, content that his request was finally fulfilled.

I mentally filed away that now the word "mom" means:

"Mom" (literally, as in one's mother)
"Janae took something away from me"
"I'm done in the tub"
"Get me out of my high chair"
"Put me down now"
and... "Turn on the CD"

I have an idea the list will be added to as his definition for "mom" continues to expand.

So, we get to Menards and I find a parking spot and take my singing child into the store. Unbeknownst to me, the van door gets left open but that is due in part to a) me forgetting to shut the door or b) the electric door deciding to reopen while I walked away. At least I did remember to lock the van while standing IN the store about 15 minutes later. Like my remote key pad can work 100' away, I know, BUT at least I remembered I hadn't locked it. Hey, I can't help it-- I'm a stay at home mom. Don't expect me to make logical non-stay-at-home decisions in a busy parking lot.

I zig zagged around the store going from the service counter to the electric counter to the painting counter to the windows and door counter and finally, up the lumber rack with a baby on my hip in order to get 4 boards.

Now, if you have ever gotten wood at Menards, you know the usual routine:

Locate type of lumber you need (in my case, I needed pine.)
Find correct width (in my case, 1x4)
Scan racks for desired length (in my case, 8')
Look around store for assistance.
Call husband to see if he really needs the wood.
Look around store again for assistance.
Shoulder your purse, put baby on hip and mount stairs to the second level of the lumber racks.
While shouldering purse, and balancing baby on hip, pull out random pieces of lumber.
Look around store to make sure no one is watching.
Pretend you can recognize a bad piece of lumber as you eye down the length of the board.
Put wood back since both ends warp in opposite directions.
Listen to baby whine because you put the wood back (like he really wanted that piece anyway.)
Continue pulling out nicked pieces of wood and putting them back.
Conclude they're all nicked and just look for unwarped pieces.
Decide that they all must be slightly warped.
Narrow down 4 boards that are less warped than the others.
Carry baby and 2 boards down to the cart.
Lock baby in cart and position 2 boards on side of cart.
Relieve shoulder of purse since it would look bad that you kept your purse with you but left the baby in cart.
Climb steps for last 2 boards and position them on opposite side of cart.
Walk to front of store with 5' of wood on both sides flaming behind your cart like a race car.
Ignore stares and the natural impulse to speed.

Thankfully, the Windows-and-Doors-counter-guy had been capable of putting my 24" right swing prehung door on a cart and pushing it to the front of the store. It was waiting for me with ample room for my 4 - 8' long boards.

I had to finish up at the electrical counter and then on to the service desk before I could check out. Funny thing is, the installation kits I originally came in for were out of stock. How convenient!

A kind wall-coverings lady helped me improvise on the needed ingredients and I was soon set to go. I ended up saving about half the money we had spent on the original installation kits since we improvised and ended up with something more cost effective. That at least paid for my gas to make a special trip into town, thanks to the incompetant delivery guys and I felt like the classic Proverbs 31 women, like one of my friends who always seems capable of being since she knows how to shop at CVS.

Anyway, I paid for my purchases and watched a capable young man load my van with a large door and 4 long pieces of lumber. I couldn't see out half of my windows or out the rear-view mirror but at least my tail gate could close. And I could sit in my seat without bumping my head on large wooden objects.

Since it was long past supper time and Alex's shouts for "mom" were taking on a I'm-hungry-and-starving-and-near-death sound, I picked up a snack for him. He commenced to fake choking on it most of the way home. At least he wasn't screaming for food though, for which I was relieved.

My industrious husband made my effort worth it. By the time we went to bed at 2 am that night, the door had been hung, the installation kits had been implemented and the van had been unloaded. Plus, the room he was working in had all the trim installed that the four-year-old had painted earlier. It was a productive day.

And I felt right at home when within 30 minutes of resuming my stay-at-home position, my daring darling daughter had crushed egg shells on the kitchen floor because she liked the way they felt in her hands and she had also broken glass from a candle holder on the livingroom floor because she had scooped up a whole selection of such candles into a snow shovel and then dumped them, resulting into shards of broken glass.

There's nothing like sweeping and vacuuming your house and planning and making supper all within a 30 minute period. Since I can witness handle all three events at such short notice, I must indeed be a stay at home mom.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Overpriced Sunflower Seed

After several false attempts at starting this blog, I have decided to just jump right in. I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to talk right now since I usually am capable of talking whether I have anything to talk about or not whether I want to or not. Sometimes I think I just try to act like I'm bashful. Sometimes I can hope I am becoming a more shy person. I guess admitting that proves I really am not shy and probably never will be.

So, here I am.

I am not sure what to blog about. I could blog about our cat and how she screamed and cried and tried to bite us when she had the first 2 of her 4 kittens today. That's pretty much all the information I have on the cat though so that would be the end of this blog if I decided to blog about the cat.

I could blog about the weather but that isn't very interesting... it's only in the 40's. I could blog about my kids but other than eating, drinking and occasionally not getting along being little angels, we don't have much new to report on the home front.

Unless I go back to last year.

And by last year, I mean just last week, December 29, 2008.

Yeah, I think I'll blog about that fateful day.

It was a fair evening and after a week of subzero temps, a fair evening was a special event. The weather was mild, probably in the twenties (balmy, let me tell you) and the day's events were just wrapping up to a nice end with warm biscuits and hot soup for supper. We were on our Christmas Vacation trip and staying with my parents. And when you're on "vacation" everything is supposed to be fun and nothing is supposed to go wrong. Or, we supposedly think anyway.

I had been gone all day and upon arriving "home," I naturally assumed that my baby would be glad to see me. And he was. I could tell. Even though he was irritated and fussy. He kept poking at his face and crying and not acting very comfortable. But he was still happy to see me, I'm just sure of it.

He had that I-just-put-something-in-my-nose look and knowing his habit and addiction of doing so, I instinctively looked up his nose. Sure enough. An unknown foreign object lodge where it wasn't supposed to be.

Okay, just so you know, Alex puts stuff in his nose like most people put stuff in their mailbox. Sometimes every day, sometimes he might skip a day and sometimes a lot of stuff goes in on one day. It just all depends.

We have a system down where we tell him to blow, he blows, everyone cheers, and odd colored objects slime out one of his little nostrils. It's that simple.

If he won't blow, then we bribe him by giving him a whole Kleenex to hold under his nose himself and then we all take our own Kleenex and everyone gets to blow at once. It's great family fun. The problem with involving the Kleenex is that as soon as you look away, Alex will immediately shred his own personal Kleenex and eat it like cotton candy. The problem with that is then the object in the nose can be quickly forgotten while everyone tries to get the remaining Kleenex away from Alex as he viciously chews the pieces in his mouth. I know, he's an odd child.

The following list is a compilation of items based on memory of what has been inserted in his nose or insertion was at least attempted:

French Fries
A Tiny Bell (those are easy to detect: you just shake the child.)
Sunflower Seed Shells
Anything Found On Highchair Tray
Anything Small Enough To Fit In Nostril

So, upon realizing we had another Object in Nose Epidemic on our hands, we did the usual system. Alex blew hard, nothing escaped, Alex got a Kleenex, nothing escaped, everyone got a Kleenex, Alex blew hard, nothing escaped, etc. Finally, Toby got a bright flash light and tweezers and went on an intensive recovery mission.

The only thing we concluded was that it was an item of the Sunflower Seed family and it was firmly lodged in his nose.

We waited a bit to see if it would work down. It didn't. So we went to the Emergency Room. Yeah, the ER.

It was funny how we got lost on our way there because Alex's mom thought she knew a short cut. That's embarrassing because she grew up in that area.

Even funnier was that Alex sang the whole way. And he had never really sang before and definitely not in the car. Alex usually cries in the car so to sing was really out of character for him. We made sure he was really our kid before we were admitted to the ER. To have to pay an ER bill for a kid that's not our own would not be something we'd necessarily feel compelled to do. But of course, he was indeed our son.

Alex got quite the treatment. He was weighed. Had his pulse checked. Flirted with the nurses. Listened to mommy answer a million-and-one questions. And then Alex waited. And so did his parents.

What is it with ER's requiring making people wait so long? It's as if people get there, could be half dying and then they just sit in a tiny room and wait. And wait. And wait. It's almost as if the waiting part is the processional to the doctor's exam and treatment. His treatment just might not work if you don't spend a good period of time waiting before hand. Maybe they want to make sure you are good and sick/dying before they attempt a treatment.

And their timing is always off. The nurse said to wait a minute. We waited for several minutes... like as in at least a half hour.

Once the doctor told us just to wait 45 seconds. It was at least 5 minutes before our wait was up.

It's like these people don't know how to tell time. Seriously. If they said, "Wait about 45 minutes to an hour and then the doctor will be in" it would be easier to cope with the anticipation of every noise potentially being the doctor coming in. But they don't. They give you false hope that you will be out of there in no time.

But I won't complain. Even if they can't tell time, at least they know medicine.

Anyway, the doctor came in, gave us a few options of what he'd try to use to pull out the foreign object but admitted that our best bet would probably be with a Ear Nose and Throat doctor. Of course at 9:00pm that wasn't really an option.

The ER doctor tried a couple of his instruments in hopes of getting the 'object in nose' out. Alex screamed and screamed. Nothing was productive. Except for Alex's lungs producing lots of air that helped sustain a nice, steady wail. He disliked the restrain -- the instruments in his nose were painless since the doctor really couldn't get too deep with them anyway. Alex screams like that in a car seat and I know a car seat is entirely painless but very restraining.

After making a few phone calls, the doctor gave us our last option: "Drive 20 minutes to the next hospital where the regional ENT doctor will meet you." I wanted to laugh. The hospital he was talking about was at LEAST 30-45 minutes away. But, that didn't matter... even though he did say 20 minutes. We agreed to go.

So, before we left the first hospital, we gave our address to the front desk so the nice people in that ER who never helped us could send us a nice, generous hospital bill. And then we drove to another hospital and gave them our contract contact information so they too could get a donation from us.

A weight, pulse, background check, etc. was all required here as well but we told them we had already verified all that at the last hospital. We were able to skip out on some of the requirements, thankfully. I think every time they pick up a pen or use an electronic item, you're charged another $50. Seriously, the kid has an object IN his nose -- does it really matter if the kid is up to date on his shots?

The wait began in another ER room but this one didn't last long. A kind, country-style doctor came in with frayed hemmed jeans, a wrinkled doctor's gown and a soft smile. He apologized for his attire as he explained he had just came from a movie theatre and was dressed for that occasion, not for medical purposes. He said all that while he waited for his microscopic glasses to unfog that he had just carried in from his car in a rustic, wooden box. He didn't make us feel like we had invaded on his evening and when we thanked him, he seemed too humble to even admit that he was doing anything worth thanking him for.

Now, this doctor was smart. He took one look at Alex and immediately called for a male CNA. He had Toby hold Alex, the male nurse restrain him and I (the soft hearted mother) stood on the perimeter and just watched.

7 seconds later a WHOLE sunflower seed popped out of Alex's right nostril. Seriously. The doctor just pulled it out with his long pick. Alex immediately stopped crying once he was no longer restrained and then he just looked at all the men in the room as if he was embarrassed that he had shed tears in such a masculine environment.

The doctor wrapped up his things and the CNA dropped the seed in the trash. We said thanks and goodbye and then a nurse came in and discharged us. Okay, that took a little bit since we hadn't filled our wait quota yet. But it was only a half hour 'minute'.

Our discharge papers had follow-up care which simply stated that we should "teach child not to put objects in nose." We entirely agree with the logic but have to conclude that it's slightly idealistic.

I can assure you we are doing our best to practice the hospital recommended follow-up care and when we get a double ER bill in the mail in a couple days, we'll be tempted to tie Alex's hands together so he can't put anything in his nose sue the sunflower seed company in hopes for enough money to cover the bill. Actually, we'll probably sell one of the kids just pay it and hope we never have to again.

The worst part about it is that we paid for that sunflower seed three times and ended up just throwing it away. And in our any economy, that's a pretty inefficient budgeting system.

Monday, January 05, 2009

When Reality Hits

I have never entered a new year with so much foreboding. So much holding on to the old year. So much trepidation. Even fear. And lots of uncertainty.

Yeah, the economy is bad, the war is sad and the change in presidency could inflict a lot of change in our world, etc. But the biggest reason for the unwillingness to go into the new year is because my brother and brother-in-law are leaving for a whole year and going to Iraq. They won't even be home for next Christmas.

That is sad. Because Christmas time always promises the gathering of families. Or so we like to think.

Have you ever stopped to think about what a whole year can bring? I was the other day. It dawned quite obviously on me that 12 months have a lot of potential to bring a vast experience of excitement, grief, change, burdens, hopes and dreams fulfilled. It's such a huge variety of what life holds that to look ahead to a year that already gives a glimmer of sadness, makes it even more foreboding to head into it.

On the lighter side, a child can go from barely wiggling to walking in a year's time. Another child can go from not knowing their alphabet to learning how to read in a year's time. And conceivably speaking (pun not intended), a child can go from conception to pregnancy to birth to 3 months old in a year's time. Even a woman can go from one pregnancy to another in a year's time. (not that it's ever happened to me before...)

A job can be lost, a house can be sold, a trip around the world can be taken, a move can be made, etc, all within a year's time.

And what about hard change. Like death. Or misunderstandings. Or sickness. It can all happen in a years time.

Reality can be hard to grasp. Even harder to accept. But, sometimes whether you're ready or not, reality hits and life goes on. I admire the courage of my brothers and their ability to embrace the reality of a year of war. But, a year of worry for me doesn't sound too thrilling.

The perspective of my reality versus their reality is enough to sober me into a year of prayer. Why worry when you can pray, right? And that's what I intend to do for the next 13 months.

Pray with me please.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Procrastinators Unite

I won't even try to capture a nostalgic committed-to-change New Years Resolution spirit right now. I know it's the first post on my blog this year and the unwritten rule is that all first posts in the New Year must emphasis the importance of what will change in the new year, etc. I am resisting the trend.

Honestly folks, since when are NYR's (figure that out) anything to talk about? All we do is TALK about them. What's the point of talking about something you only talk about? Why not discuss the things you actually DO.

It dawned on me today that people who wait until January 1 of whatever respective year they're in to "start over" or make a fresh start on something, are really procrastinators. That's the hard core truth, I know. (And it takes one to know one.)

Not to totally desert you in your defeated state of mind as you attempt to grasp the truth of what I just said, I have hope: you CAN start over today, tomorrow, the next day or even next week. It doesn't HAVE to be the beginning of a new year. I know, isn't that amazing news?

So, go get on that diet you've been talking of trying for the last several months. Start that hobby you've been threatening your loved ones with. Make a change in your coffee drinking habits. Whatever it is you want to start over or begin with or make an end to, do it now. Don't wait until next year.

OH, and if you get it down pat but fail tomorrow, don't worry: each morning is a fresh start. A new beginning. You don't have to wait until January 1 2010 to attempt it again.

If you insist on making me admit that I have a NYR, then fine. Here it is: I'm taking on God's perspective in 2009. He starts over every morning. He gives a new beginning. A new abundance of mercy.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness..."

Lamentations 3:22-23

A fresh beginning on January 1 is always fun. But it doesn't usually last long into the week month year. I'm taking all my new endeavors one day at a time. That's what God does with me and I think He has the right idea.

Since God relentlessly does that for me, than I will always have hope to start that new menu. That efficient laundry schedule. That coupon clipping craze. That better-use-of-her-time planner. That love-her-crazy-adorable-kids more. That be a better wife idea.

My goal this year is that in everything I set out to do (that I end up failing in), the next day will bring all the hope I need to start over. I won't have to wait until the next January 1st.

And that's my New Years Resolution.