Friday, April 30, 2010

East Coast Vacation

Last Thursday we boarded an airplane and headed to Washington D.C. for a week long stay with my parents who reside in Northern Virginia. I spent weeks, okay months, worrying about flying with our 2 year old son. It's not that he is poorly behaved, but he's an active boy and neither child has ever flown before. Turns out all the time spent worrying was time wasted. The kids could not have been more perfect on the 2 hour flight to Dallas and then the 3 hour flight into Reagan. Both loved flying (a lot more than their mother who hates it) and spent much of the time looking out the window.

I could write a book about all we did, but I'll try to keep it as concise as possible. First of all, we went in knowing that there would be quite a bit of walking involved. However, I think my husband and I severely underestimated the amount of walking that truly was involved. Our 4 year old daughter walked the entire time for the entire week. I still don't know how she did it. Our son did the best he could, but fortunately my husband was able to carry him for much of it.

We spent Friday visiting my dad at his office, then headed in to the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. The Air and Space was a hit, especially with our son. He is obsessed with airplanes. The Natural History was a bit disappointing. We had everyone tell us it was a must-see, but I guess as a whole I was a little underwhelmed. The other thing that took some getting used to was the crowds. The sheer number of people in DC is shocking. I thought Arizona was crowded, but it is nothing compared to the crowds we fought through in DC. We drove by the memorials and White House later that night and it was great to see everything lit up.

Saturday we rented a car and drove into Baltimore to visit the aquarium. Our son loved the dolphin show and we really liked the stingray and shark exhibit. After being to Sea World, though, the aquarium just doesn't compare. I'm glad we went and I enjoyed Baltimore and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

Sunday started off with a hitch as our rental car was towed from my parents' parking garage. We got it back relatively quickly and headed to Mt. Vernon. It was beautiful and walking the same grounds George Washington walked was amazing. I would kill for a house and yard like that!

Monday we toured the Capitol and then the Holocaust Museum. That was hard. We had the kids with us and were asked a lot of questions by our daughter about why someone would want to kill all those people. I'm thankful that some of the more graphic depictions had walls to block the kids from seeing them. When I was ten and living in Germany we visited Dachau. I still have very vivid memories of the gas chambers, incinerators, and the bunks. So seeing something to this magnitude put it all in perspective and really was hard to wrap my brain around. It is hard to believe that that type of evil existed in the world. We spent two hours there and could have easily spent another two if we were sans kids. The one thing that really haunted me was how anyone (and there are many) could deny that the Holocaust happened considering how well documented it was by the Nazi's. The other thing that was disturbing is that Denmark was the only country who refused to participate and who helped "rescue" the Jewish people who were escaping.

By the end of day 4 we were exhausted. We were tired and I was in quite a bit of pain. I have lower back problems that have worsened as this pregnancy has progressed and I also have a knee injury that will require surgery to fix that I re -injured days before leaving, so I was truly the Walking Wounded. We had planned to spent Tuesday at the DC Zoo, but the mere thought of an hour commute on the Metro and then actually walking the grounds of the zoo was not really that appealing so I did a google search and discovered something called the Reston Zoo. It was a petting zoo about 20 minutes from my parents and it was so much fun. I highly recommend it! There were ostrich, emu, sheep, goats, antelopes, kangaroos, bison, camels, and a plethora of other animals that you could feed and pet. The kids loved it and it didn't require much walking at all.

Our final day we stayed close to home again so I could get some laundry and packing done. We did drive into George Mason University. I wanted to see the campus and it was a good chance for the kids to run free and not disturb anyone.

Overall, the trip was amazing. The kids were beyond great, we had a ton of fun, ate great ethic food and seafood, and the weather was PERFECT!

I can see why my dad loves it so much out there. Truthfully, I'd probably move there in a heartbeat. I made the comment multiple times that people on the east coast seem to be a more civilized people. They aren't necessarily more friendly but they are more polite. People would bump into me and immediately say, "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry." In Arizona if that happens people either don't say anything or they say something like, "Eff you, asshole." That was made apparently clear as I was grocery shopping today. I almost screamed out, "Oh, please send me back to Virginia!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Big Picture

I have a tendency to view things as "the worst possible thing ever." Then inevitably something happens to either a family member, a friend, or even a stranger that puts things in perspective and makes me feel foolish and ashamed for ever feeling that way in the first place. Not to necessarily minimized the particular plight or hardship we are facing but it makes me realize that there are worse things and that maybe I should be more thankful for the blessings that I do have and not take them for granted or just expect that they will always be around.

For example a few years ago my husband was a car salesman. He did really well until the economy tanked and we were really struggling. He was looking for another job (thankfully he has a college degree to fall back on which made his current job a possibility) but money was really, really tight. He found a job almost immediately and while he has to work his ass off (80/hr. weeks every week) he is providing for our family in such a way that continues to allow me to be home with our children. During this same time a co-worker of my husband's was facing a similar situation, but he has no education or work experience outside of working at a car dealership. They have had to give up much and things are not looking good for them. Foreclosure on their home and bankruptcy is a real possibility. There are times I get down because my husband seems like he is always gone but then I think "At least we're not near bankruptcy" and it puts things in perspective.

Similarly, there are times I am annoyed at little things. Maybe because my husband leaves his clothes all over the house so I can tell the exact path he took when he got home the night before. Or the fact that I receive virtually no help ever with my children. I am with them 24 hours/ 7 days a week. No one ever takes them for an hour so I can run some errands or anything like that and there are days that togetherness is hard. But then I think about a friend whose husband was just diagnosed with cancer and they have young children who may soon be fatherless. Or I think about a young girl who has brain cancer. She is the same age as my daughter. The thought of living a day without her makes my frustration with no "me time" seem silly.

Then I think about this new life growing inside of me. I would never say that I have taken any pregnancy for granted. I know from first hand experience how possible and devastating it is to lose a child somewhere along the way during a pregnancy Because of that experience, I always worry early on until a few ultrasounds have been done if there is anything wrong, anything that might cause me to lose the baby. I'm always so thankful when I find out that things are looking great. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that not every pregnancy is smooth sailing. I have close to ten friends who are pregnant and all due within a month or two of my due date. A couple of them have recently learned there are complications and more than likely will lose their children at some point during their pregnancies. I am crushed for them. Learning that something is wrong is at times crippling and it puts in perspective the miracle that childbirth truly is. It's amazing that so many make it into this world at all with all the variable of possibilities of things that could go wrong.

I guess it just seems like at times people, myself definitely included, fail to see what is going on around them. We tend to live in our little bubbles where what happens to us is "the worst." That is not to say that because someone has it worse, our problems aren't problems. I guess what I am saying is that it helps to look at the big picture.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facebook and Me

I reluctantly joined Facebook a little over a year ago after caving into some hard-core peer pressure. (Yes, I know...I'm weak, so weak)! Relatively quickly I got back into contact with a ton of old friends and even some former really great friends who I had just lost contact with over the years. It was nice catching up, hearing about what was going on in their lives, and going through pictures of their kids. It felt like the past 10-15 years had been condensed into a high-light reel, which is many instances is a good thing.

But then I started getting friend requests from people I barely knew in high school and/or college. My first instinct was to reject the friend request, but I figured that might be too mean, so I started approving everyone. You know, it just seems a bit ridiculous though that if I never spoke to you or you me in real life that we are all of a sudden Facebook pals.

Then for some of these people (and in all honesty some actual friends as well) their Facebook page became the place for them to rant about politics or religion or the state of education and on and on and on. Truthfully, that is the part I HATE, LOATHE, DESPISE about Facebook. I started hiding "these people" from my news feed and then I started deleting them as friends. The one good thing about Facebook is that when you defriend someone they don't send out a notice announcing that a defriending has taken place. I can just slink quietly away and hope they forget about me and our Facebook friendship.

I have thought regularly about deleting my account entirely, but then realized I would miss the updates from actual friends who live half a world away. It is a quick, easy way to keep in touch with people I am friends with in "real life" and I wouldn't want to sacrifice that because of a few annoyances.

So, today I bravely logged on and started deleting "friends." My criteria was simply two-fold: a)If we weren't friends or spoke on a regular basis in real life then you were cut; b)If we haven't communicated regularly through Facebook in the past 6 months you were cut. At first I was super hesitant to hit that "delete friend" button. Pretty soon though I had deleted around 30 people and here, five minutes later, I probably couldn't tell you one of their names. It felt freeing, liberating!

Are you on Facebook? Do you occasionally "weed out" friends?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Random Thoughts About Our Upcoming Vacation

* We have been planning on a trip to visit my parents in Virginia for three months now. I have prayed every single one of those days that we would all be healthy for the 8 days that we are there. Three weeks ago the kids got sick followed by me. The illness only lasted a week so I figured we'd be good to go. We were good for at least another month or so before it was our turn to be sick again. But, last week my brother and his wife came to visit from Milwaukee. They brought the plague with them and got most of our family sick, me and my kids included. We now leave in 10 days. Oh, how I am hoping a)we are completely recovered and b)my husband doesn't catch it and end up spending the entire trip sick.

* There is a major difference between how I plan for a vacation versus how my husband plans for a vacation. Case in point: I have been making a rough outline of the places we want to visit while there. I have done this by trying to appropriately balance the museums and other places of interest that we as adults want to see with fun activities and places to visit for the kids. Nothing spells disaster like a day of visiting museums while dragging two disinterested kids around. My husband's primary concern for each city or area I mention is the food. For example, we were contemplating a day trip into Philadelphia. While I was thinking Liberty Bell my husband was thinking cheese steaks. He was mapping out Pat's and Geno's and some other off-the-beaten trail place that is supposedly better than both. When it became clear that Philadelphia was probably too far for a day trip he was bummed....not because of the places we wouldn't get to visit, but because he wouldn't get his cheese steaks. We are now planning to spend a day in Baltimore. Again, I am thinking aquarium, walks along the waterfront, etc. He is researching seafood restaurants where you can get crab and bang them open on a table lined with newspaper.

* I have successfully managed to pack a week's worth of belongings for me and two kids in one bag, with still 5 pounds to spare. How I did this is beyond me. I am the person who packs for a month when we are gone for 4 days. I am the person who usually takes two huge suitcases just for myself for less than a week. I think part of it is knowing that my parents have a washer and dryer so I didn't bring as much, but I still probably brought more than we'll end up wearing. I swear this particular suitcase has a never ending bottom. I just keep filling it and more room remains. It's awesome!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Dangers of the Sharp-Toothed Snail

When my son was around a year old he found a tiny, round, pink piece of plastic that had come off my daughter's jewelry box. He managed to quickly stuff it up his nose so far that I was unable to get it with tweezers. We ended up having to take him to the doctor where they inserted what looks like a device used during pap smears in order to safely remove the plastic. It was not a pleasant experience and since that time I talk almost daily about NEVER, EVER sticking ANYTHING up your nose. EVER! Did I mention ever?

Every once in a while I'll catch him with something close to his nose where I promptly remind him to not stick that up his nose. Fast forward almost two years.

My husband and I read to the kids from Where The Sidewalk Ends fairly regularly. One of the poems that has stuck with them is entitled "Warning" where it states, "Inside everybody's nose/There lives a sharp-toothed snail/ So if you stick your finger in/He may bite off your nail/Stick it farther up inside/And he may bite your ring off/Stick it all the way, and he/May bite the whole darn thing off." For whatever reason they talk daily about the sharp-toothed snail and how if they pick their nose it'll bite their finger off. That's all well and good, until today.

This morning the kids were in the backyard blowing bubbles when my son became hysterical. I ran out to see what the problem was and my daughter said she thought he got bubbles in his eyes or up his nose. So, I started hugging him to comfort him when he said something about a rock. The inside of me panicked and I asked, "Did you stick a rock up your nose." He manages to nod his head yes. I look up and incredibly deep, beyond my reach I can see the tip of a rock lodged in his nose. I hold the "good" nostril and tell him to blow as hard as he can. Nothing happens. He continues to cry and sucks it up further. At this point I am trying to decide whether to call 911 or rush him to the hospital. I keep having him blow, hoping to at least get it to a point where I can reach it with tweezers, although I was a bit worried that I would even be able to grab it then due to the size of the rock. How he managed to fit that rock up his nose, and that far, is beyond me. After about 5 minutes of this he finally got it close enough for me to reach with my finger nails and pull it out.

The inside of his nose is scratched up pretty badly and he was obviously pretty scared, as was I. When he finally calmed down enough and the hysterics had passed I asked him why he stuck a rock up his nose. He said, "So, the sharp-toothed snail could eat it." He was apparently trying to feed the sharp-toothed snail and wouldn't you know the snail likes rocks to eat.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good Monday

Well, our broken water pipe proved to be a bigger deal than we initially thought. My husband worked on it until dark on Sunday and then took Monday off to finish the job. The materials we thought we needed actually weren't going to be compatible with the particular piping used so he spent three hours being send all over town to different plumbing supply stores until he finally found a place that had all the necessary parts and a very helpful guy who walked him through the process step by step. It took another 3 hours once he got home to finish, but it appears to be fixed, we have water, and we are hopeful this will last. Part of the problem is a huge mesquite tree whose roots entangled and punctured the pipes causing the break. We would like to rip it out but our Gestapo home owner's association mandates that every front yard must contain one 5 gallon tree (ridiculous considering how close together our homes are). So, now we have to have a plumber come out to look at the tree, the roots and their proximity to the pipes and hopefully put in writing the fact that if we leave the tree the roots will cause further damage. It is then our hope that we could successfully contest the mandate. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to go against common sense that an HOA could mandate the necessity of certain foliage when the presence of that landscaping would cause damage to the actual dwelling.

In other news, we were supposed to find out the sex of our baby tomorrow. My husband was going to take the day off and come with. Long story short, since he took off yesterday to deal with the water pipes I called the office to see if there was any way we could come in and have the ultrasound done then instead. They actually said yes, which I totally wasn't expecting so we hustled out.

The baby looks perfectly healthy and was very active during the ultrasound, although proved to be very modest, refusing to uncross the legs. I was starting to get a little anxious because I wanted to know the sex, not really for myself, but the kids were dying to know. Finally at the end we got enough of a glimpse to determine.................................IT'S A GIRL!

Our two year old son was thrilled. He has said since the moment we told the kids I was pregnant that he wanted a sister. However, today when we were at the store, my daughter was pointing out all these cute little girl clothes and I don't know if he started to feel left out because all of a sudden he started crying and said, "I don't want a sister anymore. I want a brother." Broke my heart.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Do It Yourself If You Can

Today really couldn't have gone more wrong. If it wasn't so utterly frustrating it would have been comical. We woke up, intent on going to church, and then heading to my mom's to celebrate Easter. As I was out in the front yard hiding Easter eggs for the kids I discovered that our entire front yard was flooded. We initially thought it was coming from our irrigation system, but later discovered the main water pipe to our house had burst....and it's located UNDER our concrete driveway.

I started calling plumbers to get estimates, etc. The cheapest we were going to get off was $537 and that was assuming they didn't have to tear up the driveway, which truthfully would have been the easier way, and therefore the way they probably would have chosen, regardless of cost to us. So my husband spent the morning digging a ditch to try to locate the pipe. Later in the afternoon my brothers came over to lend a hand in pulling up foliage, sawing out roots, and digging about 3 feet down and 3 feet in (and under) our driveway.

It took 6 hours but my husband and one of my brothers were about to put the new piping in when they realized the pipe they got was 1/16th of an inch too big....and by this time all the hardware stores had closed. So, my husband has to go back and get the correct size tomorrow and hopefully since all the heavy labor has been done it won't take too long to size, cut, and assemble the new piping. Total cost of piping and supplies? Sixteen dollars. Even having to go back and get new piping after the mis-measure will result in a grand total of $32.

That's a lot better than $537!