Sunday, May 30, 2010

Deferred maintenance.

This week our neighborhood YMCA re-opened after a month long renovation. And as if that wasn't excitement enough, the outdoor pool opened this weekend as well! We are usually counting down the days until the pool opens for summer but were so distracted by the renovation that it completely snuck up on us. Thank Facebook we got the good word!

We couldn't wait to hit the pool. But first, I had to tame the beast that had become my bikini area. I'm usually pretty good about shaving on a regular basis - legs, armpits, the whole gamut - but this tends to go out the window when I'm pregnant. At least the bikini zone does. It's the whole out of sight, out of mind thing. I mean, if I can't see it, how can I be expected to go near it with a razor?

(This will only make sense if you've been pregnant before. If you haven't, it's probably more than a little hard to imagine not being able to see your own vagina. You'll just have to trust me on this one - it's completely impossible.)

Since there was no way I could do things my normal way, I had to come up with a new plan of action that involved the bathroom sink and Liam's step stool. I realized after I started that it would probably help if I had my glasses on, too. You know, so I wouldn't shave off anything important. Unfortunately I'd already lathered up by this point so I had to hobble and drip around the house until I found them. ("Nothing to see here, boys. Just go back to your video games!") I finished the job without causing any permanent damage and was pleasantly surprised at how not hideous I looked in my swimsuit. Plus I felt like I'd really opened up my hips. Personal hygiene and a workout in one. Bonus!

While it felt semi-ridiculous (and dangerous!) balancing one leg on a step stool while twisting my gargantuan torso this way and that, at least I was in the privacy of my own home. Why didn't I come up with this when I was pregnant with Liam?

I had just entered my third trimester and was looking for a new baby doctor. My first OB was fine but I never felt a real connection to her. That and when I mentioned I wanted to at least try natural childbirth she looked at me like, "Not on my watch, Missy!" As my due date grew closer, I found it hard to imagine birthing my baby with her by my side. So I left the practice. I mean, how hard could it be to find a better fit?

As it turned out, hard. Really hard.

First of all, a lot of doctors won't even consider taking a new patient in her 7th month of pregnancy. No matter what. But when that patient also happens to have opinions about things she wants and doesn't want, forget about it. I met with one doctor who seemed very nice and willing to accept me into his practice until I asked about going au natural. "It's my job to ensure a safe and healthy outcome," he explained. "For that reason, I require all my patients to get an epidural. That way, if there are complications, we are already prepared for a cesarean." I was so surprised I burst into tears. I spent the rest of the appointment sobbing, wondering, "What the hell am I going to do now?"

Fortunately, my childbirth education teacher introduced me to a practice of doctors who were much more willing to work with their patients. I called to schedule an appointment and was thrilled to find out that they were accepting new patients and would be willing to take me this late in the game. I felt like this was it: If I didn't make a stellar first impression, I'd be all knocked up with no place to go.

The day before my appointment, I was sitting at work when suddenly it hit me - I was about to introduce my nether regions to somebody new and had no idea what was going on down there. It had been months since I had seen the area first hand but I was willing to bet it was more than a little overgrown and bushly. Not exactly the first impression I was hoping to make.

So I found a salon near my office and called to schedule a bikini wax for lunchtime. A Brazilian bikini wax. Because what says, "Take me, doc! I'll be the patient of your dreams!" like a big ass belly and a naked hoo-ha?

The procedure was painful, yes, but I wasn't nearly as self conscious as I thought I would be. "Hold my knees up and out? Sure. How's this? Oh, you want me up on my hands and knees now? Okaaay. Uh. Oof! Is this *gasp, pant* is this good enough?" It was my (very young) technician's first day on the job and I felt like a mean upper class man hazing the hell out of her. Especially when she finished and innocently asked, "Well? What do you think?" I tried to see what she had done, I really did, but there was just no way. She watched me struggle for a moment and then (reluctantly) asked if I would like to see a mirror. What could I say? Did I want to check myself out with a hand mirror in front of her? No. But I didn't have much of a choice. So I held the mirror between my legs like a pre-teen in a Judy Bloom novel while Miss Teen Bikini Waxer stood by waiting for her tip. I felt so uncomfortable for her I didn't even mention the weird blood blister thing she had given me. I just smiled politely and said things like, "Nice choice on the landing strip."

I may have been dreading my OB/GYN appointment the next day, but spending an hour naked from the waist down in a multitude of compromising positions while some stranger poked and prodded at me, ripping things from my body left me feeling strangely prepared for childbirth. The wax job may have been so-so but the experience was priceless. Nothing I'd want to repeat anytime soon, but priceless nonetheless.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bittersweet.

I was born in Southern California not far from both sets of grandparents and lived there until I was almost four. My mom says she used to take me to my Grandma Day's house almost every single day but, sadly, I don't remember these visits. I do have memories socked away from my time as a California girl but they are few and far between and really, really random.

Like the time we were all sitting around our living room (me, my parents, some grandparents, more adults...?) watching Connie Chung on the news while I wore my Connie Chung wig. Or the time I debuted my new hair cut - bangs cut into the shape of a W - and explained (in song) that I had to "Cut that gray right out of my hair!" (do you remember that commercial?). Or how about the time I ran after the ice cream truck in my mom's long powder blue negligee pretending, nay, convinced I would be mistaken for, Princess Di?

I was nothing if not fashionable.

But most of my memories of my grandparents are from after we moved. A handful of Thanksgivings with cousins we didn't know, summer road trips divided between this guestroom or that, extended grandparent visits at our house that always felt more weird than anything (you run home from the bus stop to find your grandpa vacuuming the living room in his bathrobe WITH HIS COLOSTOMY BAG SHOWING and tell me it doesn't weird you out a little!).

While I loved these visits (yes, even the creepy ones), I always wondered why we had to live in Reno while everyone else lived in California. And that's not even that far away! We could all pile in the car and be at my grandparents' house by dinnertime if we really hustled. It was why we couldn't just stay that I never understood.

Fast forward almost 30 years (gulp) and here I am raising my child (soon to be children...) no where near the rest of our family. A 10 hour drive for Thanksgiving with Grandma is a pipe dream - the one time we drove it, it took close to a week for us to get to here from there. And the flights, while doable, are an all day affair that really add up once you start booking two, three, four separate seats.

When Liam talks about Reno (like, allllll the time) and says things like, "Wouldn't it be cool if we just found a house in Reno that we could live in all the time?", I have to admit, it's hard not to see his point.

I mean, there are tons of good reasons we live where we live but I don't think any of them help a four year old understand why time with his Grandma and Patches (and Grandma and Boompa and Auntie Moose and Uncle Erick and his cousins...) has to be such a luxury.

And after a blissed out couple of days with grandparents in the house, it's even harder not to take his side. I mean, they were so darn cute together! Happily squished into the backseat on Liam's request, walking hand-in-hand everywhere we went, on lock-down in Liam's room for hours on end...not to mention such random acts of cuteness as Liam sighing out of the blue, "I love you, Patches."

I'd like to convince myself that it's no big deal to live far away from family but I'm starting to wonder if I'm wrong. Am I wrong? Or am I doing that thing where I think my family would be exactly like the made for TV families if only we lived in the same town? How important is it for children to grow up as a part of something greater than themselves? Does that have to mean biological family? Are we robbing our son (and ourselves?) of something irreplaceable or creating something precious all on our own?

(I feel like Carrie Bradshaw when I type questions like this to no one in particular. Now I can't help but wonder...is Sex and the City 2 going to be good or have they totally jumped the shark? I mean, camels? Really?)

How does your family do it?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Growing.

One of the hardest things about having this new baby is figuring out where to put him. It was hard figuring out where to put Liam too, if that gives you any indication of what we have to work with. It's not that our house is small necessarily - 1600 square feet feels just about perfect to me - it's just that it was built before the standard master-bedroom-plus-kids'-rooms layout became all the rage.

Here's an idea of what we're working with:

When we first moved in, it looked like this:

Then Liam came along and we changed it to this:

Which, let's be honest, didn't take long to turn into this:

I know what you're thinking, Just turn your office/guest room (aka "college") into the baby's room. Duh! But it's hard to imagine handing that entire room over to a newborn. I mean, if he's in there, where the heck are we supposed to put the rest of our crap? We have very limited closet space, our laundry room is packed and our basement is, well, a basement (I'm not a huge fan).

Also, and I swear this is not just me being selfish, that room is not an ideal space for a baby. It shares a door with the living room and the hall (and the front porch but who's counting?) and is nearly impossible to keep quiet. I don't want to spend all of Finn's future naps tiptoeing around the house and forcing Liam to whisper if I don't have to. Not to mention, what would happen to our social life if we couldn't have friends over after we put the kids to bed?

The best solution I could come up with (aside from the boys sharing a room) was to divide college into two rooms, like this:

That would have given Finn a nice quiet sleeping space (no doors to the living room or hall!) without forcing us to hand over our entire house to the kids. I was pretty excited about this idea until I realized two things: 1) Kids come with a lot of stuff. Do I really want to drive myself nuts trying to cram it all into one room just so I don't have to give up my big messy closet office? 2) I'm having this baby in like 3 months and am no closer to completing (or starting...) this minor renovation today than I was 5 months ago. The likelihood of us getting it done at all is probably slim to none. If I don't want to procrastinate myself into a co-sleeping situation (nothing against co-sleeping, it's just not my thing), I need to come up with another plan.

Or finally just listen to what Bill has been saying all along:

Since Liam doesn't nap anymore and we already know he can sleep through a party, having him in a room that shares doors with the rest of the house is no big deal. Plus, doesn't it make more sense to invest in big boy stuff than to buy more baby stuff? I mean, why re-invent the nursery if you don't have to?

With Finn's room basically dialed in, I have turned my nesting energy to Liam's big boy room. I've chosen a color palate, picked out paint for the walls, ordered new bedding, set up his BIG big boy bed (when company comes to visit, they can crash in Liam's room!), and spent hours just lounging around in there imagining what it will be like when it all (eventually) comes together.

Liam's been spending time in there too; getting used to the space, introducing his friends to their new home ("I've got to show this bed to Baby Panda - she is going to freak out!"), and wondering how in the world he has possibly grown so big so fast.

Or maybe that last bit is just me. It's just...wasn't Liam a baby like yesterday? I've been right here with him almost every single moment since he was born and yet I can't begin to tell you where the time has gone.

He's so big. And mature. And increasingly independent. And while most of the time this makes me nothing but proud, the last few days it's also made me kind of...sad. Or maybe not sad exactly but just very aware of how quickly he's growing. One moment I think, "This is going to be such a fun room for us to play in together!" and then the next moment he asks me to leave him alone so he can have some privacy.

Oh yeah. Right. Sometimes I forget that we're here already but we are. Oh my goodness, how we are.

Last night Liam was my date for a Cinco de Mayo party at our friends' house. I was a little reluctant to go because I knew I'd be bringing one of the only kids to the party (if not the only kid) and would be stuck toting my big pregnant belly around all night. Did I mention it was a margarita party? Yeah. That's like the worst interpretation of BYOB ever.

But as we were walking up to the door hand-in-hand, we spotted Miss Courtney and all my worries about bringing a child to a fiesta instantly vanished.

Because Liam's not just a child, he's Liam. And I don't know what it is but there's something really special about him.

For the rest of the night, instead of feeling like I was the one at the party with a kid in tow, it honestly felt more like he was the one at the party with a mom in tow. I tried to give him his space, I really did, but when you have a four year old wandering around in a sea of adults you have no choice but to keep tabs.

I left him alone when he played in the hammock with Owen (another kid - woo hoo!), shook more candy from the decapitated pinata, and ran around the back yard with his new "animal finder friend" (a pretty grown up who was sweet enough to totally engage the boys in a made up adventure!). But whenever I felt the need to intervene - like to issue a "no kicking or screaming in the hammock" rule, or to stop Liam from walking face first into a lit cigarette, or to force the boys away from the bathroom door where they were yelling for their animal finder friend to "hurry up!" - it was as if I had just dropped my middle schooler off at a party and called after him from the car, "Be a good boy tonight and remember, Mommy loves you honey buns!" I just got the vibe that I was totally cramping his style. Like he was this close to whisper shouting through gritted teeth, "Mo-oommm. You're soooo embarrassing!"

He's still my little boy most of the time, but there's no doubt about it - he's growing up. Which, of course, is the point. But still. I can't help but feeling a little bit like a sappy Hallmark card once in a while. And just in time for Mother's Day! Today he's stealing smooches from his favorite singer and chatting up all the pretty girls at the party; tomorrow he's, well, he's probably doing the same exact thing. The only difference will be instead of me being at the party with him, I'll be waiting outside in my mini-van, listening to Delila dedicate some soft jams and rocking a nasty pair of mom jeans. Because time flies once you become a parent. Just like that cheesy mother's day card says it does.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I spoke too soon.

Yesterday afternoon, I found a story online that referred to the aftermath of the Nashville flood as a tale of two cities. "Higher elevations began drying out under sunny blue skies but urgent rescue operations were still under way in vast swaths of the city and its suburbs covered in floodwater that won't begin receding until later this week." I found this article, of course, after I published my post titled, "After the flood." After. Obviously I am one of the lucky ones. I was high and dry and completely oblivious to the devastation continuing to happen all around me.

I guess I turned off the local news too soon.

It's just that from where I sit, it really is hard to imagine there's still a flood going on. Even when I ventured away from my house yesterday around noon, things seemed fairly under control. Liam and I drove over the Cumberland River and through downtown to get to a sculpt class and a swim at the YMCA, and while the river way crazy high, spanning all the way from 1st street to Titan's stadium, it seemed like the clean up effort was under way and progress was being made.

On our way home; detour past the Titan's stadium.

When I turned on the TV much later in the day, I was shocked to see what was happening.

The Grand Ole Opry, Opryland Hotel and Opry Mills Mall were all under water (10 feet inside the hotel). The Country Music Hall of Fame, Schermerhorn Symphony, Titan's Stadium and many other Nashville landmarks were all flooded. Downtown Nashville was completely without power. People who had survived the storm and weekend flooding were suddenly forced to evacuate (many in boats) as the water continued to rise.

I honestly had no idea.

And I guess, really, a lot of people didn't. If you were outside of the affected areas and didn't happen to turn on the Weather Channel, there was a very good chance you would have had no idea there was a catastrophe under way. Curious as to what kind of national coverage our drowning city was getting, Bill and I checked out all the major news networks on Saturday night, Sunday, Monday...and never once saw anything about Tennessee. It was a continuous loop about the "possible" car bomb in Times Square. Over and over and over they played the same footage and said the same things. It didn't feel like news so much as something they were desperately trying to make into news. Meanwhile in Nashville, the water continued to rise...

Image from The Tennessean.

Late yesterday afternoon, Liam and I walked down to Shelby Bottoms park with some friends to get a first hand look at some of the damage. It definitely gave me the perspective I'd been missing. The Cumberland River had merged with the duckpond forming a huge lake that covered the softball fields, the golf course, the playground...everything as far as the eye could see. It was all under water.

Vinny Links Golf Course.

Softball fields and snack shack.

It's all sad and depressing until you see rednecks playing in sewage!

Last night we were pleasantly surprised to catch a glimpse of Nashville on something other than a local affiliate.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

We would have missed this too had it not been for a friend's posting on Facebook. It's been an unexpected source of news and information during this ordeal and a great way to keep tabs on friends or neighbors who might need help. It's been really inspiring to see everyone pitch in and help each other out and makes it easy to see why Tennessee is called "The Volunteer State."

BTW: There's a great list of volunteer opportunities HERE if you want to help. And if you're local and want to pitch in (or just need to dry out your basement) but don't think you can because you've got little ones underfoot, hit me up - I'd be happy to watch your kids while you do some heavy lifting. I may not be able to haul sandbags or bail basements, but I've still got the Volunteer spirit! And by the looks of things, recovery is going to take every last one of us...

Monday, May 3, 2010

After the flood.

Today is so beautiful and sunny (and dry!). It seems truly impossible that yesterday much of Nashville was under water.

Isn't that incredible? At one point, a mobile classroom building got caught up in the flood waters and carried down the Interstate. It's hard to fathom how that is even remotely possible but I swear it happened. I don't have any personal photos to share because, thankfully, our little home managed to weather the storm unscathed. Not even our basement flooded! Also, I'm a good girl so when the Mayor said to stay home and get off the roads, I listened!

We spent all day yesterday hunkered down, listening to the rain pour down in buckets and watching enough local news to satisfy us for at least the next year or so (yet somehow we missed the Weather Penis!). If it wasn't for the destruction happening all around us, it would have been a real nice little Sunday.

Since there wasn't much else to do, I actually managed to get all of my April photos uploaded and sent off to the Grandparents and aunts and uncles. I've done this every month since Liam was born but this is probably the first time I've done it so soon after the month has ended. It's not unusual for me to procrastinate several months and then spend a whole grueling day editing and uploading (and whining and cursing) and swearing I'll never let myself get so behind again.

When I had all the photos ready to go, I showed the slide show to Bill and Liam. When we got to the end Bill said, "Wow. Those photos make it look like we had a really good month." I scrolled back through and agreed.

You'd never know looking at our smiling faces that April 2010 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month. But it was. Oh, how it was.

I am incredibly glad the month is over and done with. Good riddance! I like to think that the weekend flood washed away all the bad ju-ju so May (and ever after!) will be an awesome, amazing, no whammies, very good month.

Bring it on. I'm ready.