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The Deciding Factor

November 13th, 2006

I hate having to make decisions that force me to weigh the good of one over the good of another.   I am supposed to attend a meeting tonight for MOPS (I am on the steering team), and as Casey is working late, I was planning on taking Kenny over to my parent’s house for the night so that they could watch him and I could go out.

Unfortunately, we are doing a minor renovation to the house, and wouldn’t you know it, not only to I have to go to Home Depot for the SECOND time today (the one that’s 30 minutes away, instead of the one that’s fifteen minutes away) to buy the tile they need for tomorrow morning, but  tomorrow is the day that they are disconnecting the washer and dryer for the next three weeks.   I don’t know about you other Mommies out there, but I do about five loads a week.   This is broaching on catastrophic.   What do three weeks of undone laundry look like?   What do three weeks of undone laundry smell like?  

So I’ve decided that I need to stay home tonight for a variety of reasons:  to wash everything in the house that might need a trip through the washer and dryer, because I’m about to put Kenny (who actually just went down for a nap, no doubt because of the angst of our first trip to Home Depot where we stood in line for twenty minutes to return a vanity that their computer said we never bought, and then endure the questioning as to whether or not is was actually shop-lifted… yeah, I walk out of stores everyday with seventy pound boxes of bathroom appliances… then through the ordeal of buying another one) in the car AGAIN for an hour roundtrip to Home Depot for the tile (not to mention the time we will then spend in Home Depot, otherwise known as The Place Where Time Died), because Dudley still hasn’t gotten a walk today, which means I’m going to  have to put a post-nap toddler into rain gear and buddle him into the stroller for as long as we all can stand so that Dudley’s little canine brain doesn’t explode from a build-up of suppressed energy, and because my parents live forty-five minutes away and that’s another car trip for  the already car-sick  Kenny and the Mama.  

But:  staying at home tonight means that I will miss the meeting I’ve committed to, and miss the post meeting Girls Night Out that I so desperately need.   Staying home tonight means that I’m disappointing my sister, who is the coordinator of our MOPS chapter and the organizer of the meeting.   And finally, staying at home tonight means that I will need to swing by the grocery store on our way home from Home Depot, because we have no food in the house after having a college kid stay here to watch Dudley this past weekend, and I need something to feed my poor boy for dinner.

Did I mention that it’s raining?   Did I mention that there are workmen in the house, dismantaling the offending laundry room, with loud and dangerous tools, which we should really go someplace else to avoid?   And that going out to my parent’s house right now would really be the safest thing to do?  

What a crummy example of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.   Situations are so unfairly presented sometimes.   The choice I am making to stay here is not the best, and yet the alternative leaves my house in a lurch and my child in the car way too long.   If only Mary Poppins could show up and babysit and do laundry tonight.   Hm.

At least my angel is taking a rare nap, and I am freed up for the moment to express myself.   Too bad I can’t be using this “free time” to catch up on some laundry.

 

PS – Three hours after that post, and still no trip to the Home Depot or the grocery store.. by the time Kenny awoke from his beauty sleep, it was snack time.   Sometime during that snack preparation, he reached over my shoulder and pulled down a half-full coffee pot all over us, the counter and the floor.   After that was cleaned, it was Poopie Diaper Time.   After that was cleaned, it was Dudley Walk Time, which lasted for about eight minutes, as the rain was just too much.  

When we got back home, Kenny turned into the little girl from The Exorcist.   I made the mistake of giving him a chocolate chip cookie, and from then on it’s been more than a little bit of Whine-Tantrum-Scream City.   And for dinner, he’s gone from being an “all I want is CRACKERS!” kid to “WAFFLE now or I will scream!” little monster.   I’ve toasted seven, that’s right SEVEN, waffles for him today (at least three were whole wheat!) and he’s eaten most of them (except the three halves he handed over to Dudley and the two halves I ate) along with mountains of cheese, bananas, apples and cereal.   Now we really have no food in the house.   Looks like an early morning tomorrow (after my late night laundry date) to go to Home Depot and Safeway before the guys come back to work again.   Grr.

Don’t Leave Home Without It

November 12th, 2006

Casey and Kenny and I were off again this past weekend for another conference, this time for The Clapham Institute.   We decided, after last weekend’s debacle of me missing all of the events, that Casey would go on Friday for the first half, and Kenny and I would join him on Saturday at lunch, when my Mom, who was attending as a guest with my Dad, would watch Kenny for the evening so that I could attend the final lectures and dinner.  

There’s a really funny story about the drive Kenny and I experienced out to the retreat location, but I’ll need to recount it later, as not enough time has passed to make me see the humor in it.   (In a nutshell, there are two Inns with the same name on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, about two hours away from each other… I  showed up  right on time  to the wrong one.   Ha Ha.)

But the part of the weekend that I did manage to be present for was really fantastic.   Critical thinking and conversations are something that I love to take part in, yet don’t get to do as often as I’d like.   No matter how I try, all of the Mommy conversations always seem to revert back to diapers, diets and milestones.   But every minute of the twenty or so hours I was there was packed with converstations that stretched my brain, kindled my imagination and jolted me into paying attention so that I could participate coherantly.   It was definitely not a weekend to check my brains at the door.

And oh how I needed that!!   It reminded me that I can be quite inclined to critical thinking, I only need the discipline to practice it.

Kenny was a dream kid throughout the trip.   He is such a blessing, such a joy.   On our drive home, we somehow mis-timed lunch and he started to ask for everything he could pronounce… crackers, waffles, apples, and juice.   As I had nothing in the car but a bag of trail mix, we pulled off at a McDonalds and shared a sandwich.   There is something so uniquely charming about Kenny whenever we are in a public place to eat, just he and I.   He seems to know that it’s something a little different, even a little special, and we sit close and keep our heads together, smiling and giggling.   He was a tough cookie when we got home, though.   All the travel and a not great night of sleep caught up to him.   He’s just a little guy, after all.

Days like this, from the conference to the drive home to the afternoon challenges, make me want to be not just a better Mom, but a better woman.   It makes me want to work harder and be more patient and cherish every moment.   How did I come to be so blessed with this precious boy?   Works alone could never make me deserving of all that I have; all I can do it be grateful to my Creator and strive each day to be the woman He created me to be.

Under the Weather

November 9th, 2006

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He may not feel well, but he’s still a charmer!!

I actually find myself at a loss of what to write.   Kenny is still not quite himself, Dudley is still a shadow of his normal crazed whirlwind, and I still can’t seem to shake my cold.   Today was fine; nothing to note, nothing to complain about.     It was one of those rare days where I found myself staring off into space in the middle of reading, “Swim, Duck, Swim!”  

Is it ok to admit that being a housewife is somestimes boring?   Corporate types can admit that they sometimes tire of their jobs, why can’t a Mommy?   It doesn’t mean that I don’t love everything about raising my son and running my household, but some days it just isn’t as fun as I think it should be.   I love Kenny more than I ever thought it was possible to love a child, and yet…

…well, sometimes it’s boring staying at home.   Sometimes I look at the clock, certain that it must be time to start dinner, and I find it’s only two o’clock.   Sometimes I get tired of playing legos and strolling around the block and doing laundry and washing sippy cups.     Sometimes I wish I could get up and stretch and go to the water cooler and talk about the elections or Britney Spears or the sale at Nordstroms.     Sometimes I wish I had a lunch break where I could order a nice salad instead of eating the crusts off of Kenny’s toast and the rest of his pear and the little pieces of cheese that he didn’t manage to get into his mouth.  

Maybe I just need to go to bed.   As I sit here staring at the screen, I can suddenly think of 99 super-adorable things Kenny did today and  I remember how wonderfully blessed my life is.     So please don’t read this and think I’m ungrateful.   I love this life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.   Maybe I need a night out.  

Note to Husband:   Date Night Needed!!

BaOON and OON

November 8th, 2006

I mentioned a while back that Kenny had a mild obsession with balloons.   What kid doesn’t?   His  balloon radar is  s keen that he will even start earnestly calling, “BOON!   BaOON!” from the backseat of the car when we pass a car dealership having a sale.   Going through the grocery store is a wild symphony of, “Boon!   BaaOOOON!” and “Cracker!”   as we go up and down the aisles.   Yesterday, he finally noticed the red balloon in “Good Night Moon” and it has nearly replaced dancing to Rodney Atkins as the most popular activity of the day.

Everytime he saw the book today, he picked it up, brought it to me and sweetly said, “Boon?”    Then we would walk to the couch where he would say, “UP!” an we would snuggle in for a good read.   Actually, he only lets me read the pages that the balloon actually appears on.   We worked on saying “Balloon” and “Moon” quite a bit though, and by the end of the day, he was able to point to each and say both, “BaOON”  and OON!”   He was quite pleased with himself.  

The poor little guy still doesn’t feel well, and had no appetite today.   He ate nothing but a few crackers and a half piece of cheese.   I tried to sneak some Pedialyte into his sippy cup, but I was chastized with a look from Kenny that told me what he thought of that stuff.   He wouldn’t even touch his favorite pizza at dinnertime.     It’s hard to watch him push the food away, as if there is something he would eat, if only I could think of it.

He seems to be sleeping peacefully so far though, and I hope that a good, long night of sleep will make him as good as new in the morning.   He’s so sweet.   The way his little body melts into mine when we hug and when I hold him.   The way he lays his head on my shoulder with all its weight.   The way he smiles even though you can tell he doesn’t feel well.   I love that kid.

In other news, I’ve signed myself up for a 15-K.   In January.   In Maui.   Now that’s incentive to train!   More on that to come…

The Best (Almost) Day Yet

November 7th, 2006

I took Kenny to his first gymnastics class today (not Gymboree, but a little different, a little better in my opinion), and he had the most fun that I’ve ever seen in his precious fourteen months of life.   He was in his glory ~ endless safe, soft things to climb on, obstacle courses (that he surprised me with by his incredible agility and coordination!) and a trampoline runway which he actually jumped all the way down.   I was amazed.   This kid is a natural athlete, and the best part was witnessing his boundless joy and happiness through it all.   We ran, we jumped into a pit of nerf blocks, we hopped over the beam, we climbed a ladder, jumped on a moon bounce and then did it all over again.   Gymnastics rocks!

And I have to admit that I had a blast, too, getting to do it all alongside him and the twenty other kids there with their moms and dads.

Unfortunately, we we piled back into the car, all smiles and giggles, he lasted about four minutes before projectile vomiting everything he’d eaten in the last twenty-four hours all over himself, the carseat and his sippy cup.   I shuttled him home and we snuggled and cuddled and he seemed fine the rest of the day, other than having no appetite.   I put him to bed early (he wouldn’t eat any dinner), and not twenty minutes later, when I peaked in on him, I found him and his bed covered in vomit.   I actually put him on the floor, cleaned the bed and changed the sheets, cleaned him off and got him back in without him waking at all.   The doctor said that he most likely caught a virus on the plane this weekend.   My poor, sweetest little boy!   My heart hurts to think of him not feeling well today and managing to be so sweet through it all.

Hopefully we’ll get over this virus soon… it’s a veritible infirmary around here between Dudley’s pink eye, my vicious cold and now Kenny’s virus.   Now that he’s sleeping soundly, I think  this calls for some ice cream.

A Public Apology to Dudley, the Wonderful Weimaraner

November 6th, 2006

We do not usually kennel Dudley when we travel.   In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times that we have put Dudley into boarding (and we go out of town at least twelve times a year).   Unfortunately for this past trip though, we were unable to find anyone who was availible (and willing) to stay with or keep Dudley, and we were forced to send him off to Happy Tails Pet Resort, the best of  an awful situation.

As I write, Dudley is curled into an impossibly small ball next to me on the couch.   He has barely looked me in the eye.   And no wonder: when I picked him up, his right eye was nearly shut with sticky mucus, glazed and swollen.   The staff of the kennel claimed ignorance.   The Vet pronounced Pink Eye ~ yes, the dreaded, ultra-contagious, only disease that can be passed between man and canine in the entire scope of the medical manual.     But the fact that Dudley has caught a baterial infection that Kenny and I are now in danger of contracting is only the outward expression of the indignity that I have subjected Dudley to.   And so, the apology:

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My Dear, Sweet Dudley:

You are not always a perfect dog, but  your heart is always in the right place.   You are not always at the right place at  the right time, but you are always willing to spoon in the big bed.    You are not always obedient, but you always do a perfect sit/stay when bacon is involved.     You do not always hear me say, “Dudley, Come!” but you always hear the glass top come off the cookie jar, and come running.   You  do not always “drop” when you trot by with expensive shoes or Kenny’s favorite toys  in your mouth, but you are always willing to drop the dead bird that you caught on the doorstep just for us.

You are the most loyal, protective and comical dog I’ve ever known.   And you did not deserve to be left behind in a lonely  cage-free (except at night and  on  Sundays)  doggie camp, which I know was not even close to the “pet resort” it promised to  be.    While we were  snuggling into a deliciously soft feather bed in one  of the few  five-star resorts in the US, you were trying to sleep while curled on the  cold hard  mat with only your blankie (which those MEAN kennel people LOST!   Oh, I promise I’ll order a  new one from LL Bean for you online tonight!) to keep you warm.

Will you forgive us?   I know that words cannot  make up for the trauma.   Some chocolate chip cookies, perhaps?     An extra lap around the block on our walk tomorrow?    A new red blankie?    You can sit on my lap the rest of the night, ok?    We can discuss letting you sleep in  the big bed.   I know that this is  no small matter.   I hope you can forget about it soon… how long do dogs remember things like this, anyway?   You don’t seem to remember that  you aren’t allowed to eat food off of Kenny’s high chair, or remember that stilletto heels are not chew toys.   But you are a good boy, most  of  the time, and we love you.    We really do.

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The Short End of the Stick

November 4th, 2006

Tonight was the black tie dinner for the RZIM conference “we” are attending.   And I was suddenly so jealous that Casey was going without me, as I watched the gorgeous couples arrive in their gowns and tuxes, that I burst into tears in the lobby and had to wheel Kenny out for a hasty exit.   There are few things I enjoy more than an opportuity to put on a ball gown and eat exquisite food with beautiful and interesting people.   I hate to even admit my childish woe, but woe it was as I looked at the fashionable dresses and dapper gents walk into the ballroom lobby, I in my “business casual” attire and Kenny in his stroller.  

We walked slowly and sadly back across the grounds to the casual restaurant for our own dinner, and I had to work hard to keep the tears from flowing down my cheeks as I greeted people I knew walking briskly by in their finery.   Kenny and I were the first to arrive at The Tavern and I ordered a cheese pizza for him and a glass of merlot and a steak for me.   Halfway through that peppery glass of vino I cheered a little as Kenny made a glorious mess of his face and the tablecloth.   When the steak arrived, I daringly ordered another glass of wine, this time a mertage, and went ahead and requested the biggest piece of chocolate cake and ice cream they could find.   After the pizza and a bit of my steak, Kenny ate all of the ice cream, focusing so intently that I had to scrape up a bit for myself in haste before he devoured it all.

As we left the restaurant, big tip and sweet “Nigh, Nights” to the waitress, we ran into one of the RZIM staff wives on the elevator.   I had another brief pang as I took in her elegant hairdo and flowing gown as we bid her goodnight.   Kenny was all too ready for bed, and I all too ready for another long bath once we got into the room.   He is now sleeping soundly, and I am wired from the chocolate and pondering what I can do to occupy myself in the dark hotel room for the next few hours until Casey returns.

So here’s the hard part of being  “Mommy.”   I’m thrilled to stay at home, to take on Kenny as my number one job 24/7, but suddenly thrust into  being left behind  for one of my favorite social nights of the year has hit me hard.   Kenny has been a dream on this trip,  all considering; we dragged him across the country and two time zones  for a mere  two and a half days, and he has been an absolute trooper.   Tonight he was the miniature Life of the Party at the hotel restaurant, flirting and cooing at all the  waitstaff and shyly smiling at the pretty bartender.   He is a joy and always will  be.  

But tonight is one of those rare nights when I suddenly feel  like my  role as a Wife and a woman has been somehow reduced to Dowdy Suburban  Mommy.    After all, how many black tie nights does  a girl  get to go to in a year?   And if anyone reading this knows anything about RZIM, you know that the guests here are brilliant  and facinating.     I’m going to get over this, just give me time.   For now, though, I am content to be a little melancholy and wistful.

If only the Fairy Godmother could come over here and babysit for a few hours…

Rocky Mountain High

November 3rd, 2006

I just had a glass of Malbec, a room service dinner  and a long, hot bath.  Am I on a solo vacation?  No – we are at a conference with RZIM in Colorado Springs, CO, staying at  The Broadmoor, the  most beautiful resort I’ve ever been to in the States, and Casey has gone to the Ballroom for a five course gourmet dinner and a session with a phenominal speaker, and I am here in a room to rival all rooms with a sleeping Kenny and a mug of hot tea, wrapped in a spa robe, and relaxing.   Though I wish I could have joined Casey for what will no doubt be an incredible evening, I didn’t exactly get the short end of the stick.

We had a wonderful day here before the conference kicked off.   We visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, where we fed the giraffes (no joke – we were in a tree house and they were nose to nose with us), watched deer swim in the mountain lake in the center of the resort, and Kenny, the apple connoisseur, ate his first three dollar apple from the hotel coffee bar.   We’ve seen old friends, made new ones, and learned what happens when you take a jet-lagged toddler to the white-tablecloth breakfast buffet.   We even met several dozen secret service agents, K-9 dogs and local police… it turns out that Dick Cheney is a guest here tonight as well.   But I think Kenny’s favorite part of the day, second only to playing in the floor of the massive ballroom with twin boys five weeks younger than him, was taking a bath in the over-sized tub here in our room.   I was so jealous of his obvious good time, and the fact that we could have easily fit another seven people in there with him, that I took a twenty minute bath myself as soon as he fell asleep in his crib.  

Oh, the crib.    It’s the  only thing not five-star about this place.   It’s a vintage (read: hopelessly old and not quite safe) metal crib, about half the size of a pack-n-play, with bars perfectly spaced for a toddler to stick his legs through and get stuck.   Kenny is sleeping now, thank goodness, tired enough not to voice opinion about the thin mattress, nor renew his efforts to squeeze his little thighs through the bars.

I am still hoping to attend at least some of the sessions of the conference this weekend, but  our little guy will have the last  word on that.   For now, I’m content to put up my feet on this luxurious feather bed and read an  Amy Tan  novel with no interruptions, no Dudley trying to sit on my lap and lick himself silly and no dinner dishes crying out to me from the kitchen.    Definitely not the short end of the stick.   Now if only I could figure out how to have an in-room massage without Kenny waking up…

Traveling Light

November 1st, 2006

There is no such thing as traveling light with a one-year-old.   As I put Kenny’s things together to pack for a three and a half day trip to Colorado, I realized that half his suitcase was toys, a quarter was diapers and the rest as many outfits and sweaters as I could smash in.   He is packed with not a centimeter to spare in a suitcase that I could take on a two week trip to Europe, and still have room for souveneirs on the way home.

But any angst I had over packing entertainment and cleaning supplies for the little guy cannot compare to the adventure that it will be to have him on my lap tomorrow for four hours in the middle seat on a plane.   This is the kid who won’t even sit still to eat, much less sit in my lap for more than two pages of a book.   Oh, help us all.   Too old to just sleep through it, too young to be entranced with a DVD.   Do you think the flight crew will let him run laps around the plane?   Do you think they’ll let him help push the drink cart?   My palms are sweaty just thinking about it.   Last time I flew with him, I swore it was the last time without buying him  a seat.   And that was before he learned to walk.   And here we go again…

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