Monthly Archives: August 2010

Last Day of Summer

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Today was my last “real” day of summer home with Robbie. I have Friday off, but Justin and I are going to send the bambino to daycare and enjoy a day together. So, this was it. The day kind of snuck up on me. I guess I knew it was coming, but I didn’t want to think about it. And now that it’s over, I wish I had.

The first half of the day was actually a lot of fun. Robbie and I went for a walk with my friend Jane and her daughter Lily. We hadn’t gotten to see each other for the past month, so it was nice to catch up. I’d forgotten how nice it was to have girlfriends. Don’t get me wrong, I have some fantastic friends. But there’s something about having mom girlfriends. They just get you. They’ve been exactly where you are and find their husbands infuriating for the same reasons. And we all need time to gripe about men and children.

It was the afternoon of my last day of summer that really disappointed me. Robbie and I took Barkley to the vet, where we found out that all the things I thought were problems really were problems. I hate that. I went three for three this time… Barkley’s ear was cut when he got groomed a week ago, and it got infected. Then when Barkley was trying to scratch it, he cut the inside of his ear, which also got infected… Second problem? Brace yourself. Full anal glands. Lovely. But definitely worth $15 to have someone else fix them. Third problem? This is actually what’s been irritating me for months. Barkley chews on his paws. All. The. Time. The other night I noticed that the fur around his paws had changed color. Today I found out why: Barkley has chewed them raw. There are scabs everywhere. The poor puppy has a bacterial infection. So, $95,26 later, we have oral antibiotics for the ear, wipes for the paws, and clean glands. And a very relieved Barkley.

Then came the bad appointment. That’s right, it got worse than the vet. Keep in mind that poor Robbie has been toted along to all of this fun. And he’s really been good. The dentist nearly yanked him out of my arms, explaining that she has baby fever and it just wouldn’t be safe for Robbie to be in the same room while I had x-rays taken. Did I mention I had never met this dentist before? I do have to admit, though, that I think she’s fantastic. When the dentist looked at my teeth, her only concern was that I’ve been grinding them. She didn’t see any areas of concern (I was worried a filling had fallen out but didn’t know if it was real or a dream). And then she saw the x-rays.

There was decay everywhere. Under fillings. Between teeth. Near the nerve. SEVEN cavities. Five of them under current fillings. I was devastated. I didn’t have a cavity until I was twenty-six. Are you kidding me? In the past four years, I’ve had SEVENTEEN cavities. I brush religiously. I don’t floss like I should. But, I take better care of my teeth than a lot of people. And this is the thanks I get? On the last day of summer, no less?

So, my punishment for missing my dental appointment last October and failing to reschedule is two more appointments where they have to drill my teeth. Two of them almost to the nerve and then try to patch and rebuild. And this is where I urge you to do several things. First, floss. I know, it’s a pain. Second, rebook that dental appointment you canceled and never got around to. Trust me. You’d rather take care of this now. Third, get your dental insurance! This will still be a staggering $700. WIthout insurance? We’d be looking at over $1500. What are you waiting for? Go!

Family Fun Day

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Today was the first weekend day Justin, Robbie, and I have had at home without any plans (or obstacle courses) in almost a month. We didn’t do anything too terribly exciting… I walked to Bagels By Us to get breakfast, only to find out when I took the first bite of my bacon, egg, and cheese croissant that it lacked bacon (the key ingredient in my opinion). While we were eating, Justin and I made a list of everything we had to do.

Laundry took up most of the day, since we hadn’t really done it in three weeks. Not that we’ve been wearing dirty clothes for three weeks; I did laundry while I was in Kentucky, and Justin did enough to get by. But sheets and towels and the laundry we didn’t take with us and the laundry that we accumulated over the past week… Well, it’s twelve hours later, and we’re still doing laundry. I think there’s one load left. Surprisingly, it’s also all put away.

It’s nice to have someone to clean the house with, even though it’s the most ordinary thing to do. It’s a chance for us to turn up the music, get organized, and then enjoy the clean later. I’m currently sitting on a de-fuzzed couch with a twice Swiffered floor. I know the calm in the living room won’t last longer than five minutes once Robbie is up in the morning, but it’s nice to enjoy it while I can.

In the middle of our cleaning spree, we took a family trip to the mall. Poor Robbie. He looked at pots and pans (we finally settled on low-end Calphalon; much nicer than our Ikea pots and pans…). He toured the linens and pulled a bunch of napkins of the shelf while I looked at placemats. He got his animal cracker fingers on new clothes in the men’s department. He patiently went into and out of waiting rooms. He picked out Halloween pajamas. And he (not-so-patiently) browsed through purses.

And then we came home. And the dog pulled the chicken off the counter and to the floor. Twice. And Robbie screamed his head off, hitting several new octaves. And I got frustrated. And Justin came to the rescue. And our family fun day became not so fun. But, eventually, I got the chicken cleaned up (and spitefully decided to throw it away instead of give it to the dog), Robbie stopped crying, and the laundry dwindled. Order has temporarily been restored. It’s amazing how quickly that happens after Robbie falls asleep.

And so tomorrow I begin my last day of summer… Here’s hoping there are no tantrums or ruined chickens to taint it.

Spartan Warrior?

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Yes, I am! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Today I “ran” the Spartan Race (www.spartanrace.com in case you’re interested). I hadn’t planned on participating, but a friend of a friend got injured, and I would have hated to see a registration go to waste. Plus, I didn’t want to sit and watch everyone else finish and then listen to how the whole race was. I wanted to be a part of the conversation! After all, that’s why I started running in the first place.

My good friend Tara roped me into this. She told me that I made it through a marathon labor, so I could do this. When I figured that the race would take me an hour, or 1/47 of the time I was in labor, I figured I could do it. How hard could a 5K with twelve obstacles be? I could run a quarter of a mile between obstacles and take the time at the obstacles to catch my breath. Right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.

We got to the race for our 11:00 heat at 10:49 and still had to sign waivers (I may owe the Spartans my first born; I have no idea what I signed), get our registration packets, pin bib numbers, attach ankle timing chips, and go to the bathroom. We entered the race area as our heat was taking off and didn’t even have time to think about what we were doing. Thank God. If we had, I don’t know that I would have gone through with it.

Let me walk you through this “race”. It started with running up a ski slope. Since it was summer, the snow makers were blowing ice cold water. I haven’t run up a ski slope ever. Winter. Summer. Dry weather. Muddy hills. Not in any condition. But, somehow, I made it up that damn hill. With Justin. Let me just say right here that my husband didn’t leave my side for the entire event. And he never once told me that I shouldn’t have signed up (which is what I was thinking the entire time). He just pushed me on, telling me that I could do it. Amazing man, that Justin Manna.

OK. Enough mushy stuff; I’m a Spartan. Back to the race. At the top of the hill was a fire pit for us to jump over. And I was ready to give up 100 yards in. I’m sure part of my soles are melted because I was so slow going over. After that was a lovely run through the brush. We went down a hill. And up a hill. And up another hill. And down a little. And up a hill. To the cargo net. Which I had to flip myself over to get to the other side. I am not very flipable. But I did it!

After the cargo net was the path of mud. We faced about thirty yards of straight mud. I made my way past abandoned shoes (my friend Craig, whose wife talked us into this adventure, lost both shoes here and ran the last 2.5 miles barefoot). People in front of us ran into a bee hive and got stung dozens of time. Fortunately, I was so slow that the bees were all gone by the time we got there. And then we were on a run through the woods. Over fallen trees and exposed roots. Through more mud.

And then we go to another mountain. Seriously. I’m sure it wasn’t straight up, but it sure felt like it. I’ve never climbe up such a steep hill in my life. Ever. It was horrible. Painful. Humiliating. But I made it to the top. Only to face two four foot walls that had to be climbed. I made it over the first one. Justin helped me with the second one, and I fell on top of him. And then we ran (I did actually run this part because they were yelling at us to run) to a tall cargo net with a wall for us to climb down on the other side.

Disaster struck at the cargo net. I tried to get my leg over the top of the obstacle and fell backwards. Luckily, I caught myself on the rope, with a leg on either side. Horribly uncomfortable but better than hitting the ground. The lovely man working the obstacle got underneath and told me to stand on him to get my footing. Then he had me stand on his shoulder to get myself over the top. He had footprints all over his shirt from me. We hit one more wall to climb: an eight-footer. I have never been so happy to be a girl, as we got the “easy” wall with a few boards to help us out. One lady stayed to help me pull myself over, so we didn’t have a repeat of the cargo net disaster.

We ran downhill through the woods and through a field that seemed to stretch on forever to another two back-to-back obstacles. I crawled under a tent through a mud pit for ten yards and attempted to get myself across a wall stepping on and grabbing small blocks. I was not successful. I did a few push-ups and moved on. At this point, people from the 11:30 heat were passing us. (Remember my amazing husband? Still with me!). They encouraged me to keep going, which I really appreciated.

Finally, after another jaunt through the woods, I could hear the music and announcers indicating that we were finally getting close. And then I saw it. The mud pit. The barbed wired. The men in uniform barking at us to run. Justin dove in. I took a slower approach. “Why are you taking so long getting through my obstacle? Get down! Get your face in the mud!” There was gravel at the bottom of the mud pit, and I couldn’t seem to get myself through it fast enough.

From there it was down the ski hill for the last three obstacles. Yes, three. The spear throw, which I failed and had to jump on a huge tire fifteen times (don’t tell, but I only did seven). The wall climb with a rope, which I tried and opted for twenty pushups. While I was on the ground, I noticed at least ten empty dish soap bottles. No wonder I couldn’t make it up the wall! It was covered in soap!

Finally, I was within twenty yards of the finish line. There were just four problems: the six-foot ledge I had to drop off and the three Spartan warriors with padded sticks (what’s the official name?). I scooted my way off the ledge the same time as one of those fast 11:30 racers. He paused to size up the warriors, and I decided I wasn’t waiting. I hoped they’d just go for him. And they did. The one warrior who “got me” told me to finish strong and lightly jabbed me.

I crossed the finish line with a time of an hour and ten minutes. And I got my medal – I’ve never earned one more! I’m still not sure how (or why) I did it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with a husband urging me to keep going when I just wanted to sit down.

As I sit here typing, I am covered in scrapes and bruises. My entire body aches. But I’ve never felt better.

Ignored

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Every afternoon, I pick Robbie up from daycare, and he is always thrilled to see me. Until today. Usually, Robbie is in the front room with Zhining and very excited to see me. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems like he tries to jump out of Zhining’s arms and into mine.

I walked in, and Zhining told me she was taking pictures of the boys playing. Robbie’s good friend Pete was at daycare with him for the past two days, and they were playing with KanKan, a nine-month-old. My dear, sweet little boy didn’t even look up. It took a full minute for him to realize I was even there, and even then he just held up a toy, imparted a few words of wisdom about what he had been doing, and went right back to play.

My friend Rebecca came in about three minutes after I did, and her son dutifully squealed with delight and ran (yes, he’s polite to his mother and a walker!) over to give her legs a full body hug. And Robbie continued to dig in the toy box looking for more Happy Meal treasures. It was only when I picked him up to go that he realized I was there. And he started to scream.

I was conflicted about how to feel. Should I be happy that he is so independent or mildly heart broken that he isn’t thrilled to see me the minute I walk in the door? In a rational mom mindset, I know that he’ll probably be thrilled at the sight of me the next time I come to pick him up. And I know there are going to be far more offensive things that Robbie will say or do to me as he grows up. But boy to those first steps of independence sting a little.

Strawberries and Hot Dogs

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So… Remember how I was complaining about Robbie puking up pretzels and apple juice all over me on the plane? I didn’t know how good I had it! Last night, as I was coming in from letting Barkley out, I heard Robbie crying upstairs. Justin, who was already upstairs, got to Robbie before I did.

I could smell them before I got there. I walked through the door and saw Robbie in Justin’s arms, both covered in bright red vomit. Robbie was crying, and Justin, perhaps more covered than Robbie, was comforting him, totally at ease covered in vomit.

It’s times like these that I fall even more in love with Justin than I already was. It sounds silly, and perhaps a little disturbing. But until we had a baby, I never had an opportunity to see Justin in this light, so devoted to someone that he isn’t concerned about anything happening to him. He and I talked a few months after Robbie was born, and we had a surprising revelation: we loved each other more than we ever had before. It occurred to us that we had never seen each other as parents, and it opened up a whole new side of our relationship.

Eventually, Robbie went back to bed. We gave him some water, a few animal crackers, and a book. I left the light on, since this tends to work better than trying to make Robbie think he is going back to bed. We thought he had gone to sleep an hour later and were ready to go to bed when we heard a laugh from Robbie’s room. Justin went in to peek at him through the door and found Robbie flipping through a book and talking to Buzz Lightyear. I couldn’t have told you who I loved more at that point: Robbie for entertaining himself with a book or Justin for peeking in at him like a kid trying spy Santa by the tree on Christmas.

A Sense of Humor

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I know I’ve probably said this before, but where did my baby go? He doesn’t seem to be anywhere in my house! Much to Robbie’s delight, I keep looking for him. Usually with Robbie thrown over my shoulder. He squeals with delight when I turn around looking for him, tickled that he really is hiding from me. But, when Robbie decides it’s time for me to “find” him, he taps me. It’s like he’s saying, “Mom! I’m right here! See?”

Tonight I had Robbie playing in his room while I put away his laundry. I thought everything was going well. Until I heard the gate click. I turned around to see Robbie standing on the other side of the gate in his bedroom door, laughing. He had locked me in his room! And thought it was hysterical. As soon as he saw me turn around, Robbie dropped to the ground and started to crawl away frantically. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry myself. It was, quite possibly, the funniest thing I have ever seen him do, but I don’t feel like he should be big enough to be playing jokes like that on me.

Robbie crawls around the floor with a phone held to his ear. He stands by himself, eating animal crackers and watching TV. He knows what he wants and how to get it. Robbie has conversations with us and laughs at the right time when someone tells a joke. We don’t know what he’s saying, and he doesn’t have any idea what he’s laughing about. But, I guess that’s how most of us get through life at one point or another. We just laugh at the right time.

First Day Back

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A funny thing happened between my first new teacher orientation in Fayette County in 2002 and the new teacher orientation I attended today. I got old. My first year teaching, I was the youngest teacher in the school. When I taught in Georgia, I was the second youngest teacher in the school. At Willow Hill, I was the youngest teacher for the first six months and the second youngest for the past two-and-a-half years. In Lawrence? I was one of the three or four OLDEST new teachers. How in the world did that happen?

But, despite being one of the oldest new hires (how did I wind up in my thirties?), I know I made the right decision to make the move to Lawrence. I got the statistics about the town during a presentation today (90.4% of the students are on free and reduced lunch, over 30% of them live below the poverty line, and 62.3% of them are from single-family homes). I know this is exactly where I am meant to be. I think there is an amazing opportunity to make a difference in so many lives, and I can’t wait to be a part of that.

My classroom is amazing. I think I’m still in awe at the size of it. For the past three years, I’ve had a room big enough for eight students. This one is big enough for a gazillion! Or thirty… I have a flat screen TV, with a DVD/VCR player and a computer hook-up. I also met up with a returning teacher who helped me claim an LCD projector and document projector (I’m sure there’s an official name for it). I have four student computers in my classroom, ample storage, two teacher desks. It seems silly to be so excited about a classroom, but it’s been five years since I’ve had my own public high school classroom. Those blank walls are ripe with possibility!

My first day of work meant Robbie’s first day back at daycare. He and Zhining were so happy to see each other, and, at the end of the day, Robbie and I were so happy to see each other. I feel like we had some really good play time when we got home, and it was so nice to enjoy all the time I had with him. I’m definitely not meant to be a stay-at-home mom. At first I felt bad about that, like there was something wrong with me as a mother for not being able to enjoy day after day after day home with Robbie. Don’t get me wrong; I loved having my summer with Robbie. We went swimming and on long walks and on road trips. And it was amazing. For three months. But now? I’m excited to have the time to be me again.

Baby on a Plane

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Over-weight luggage? Check. I went down to Lexington with forty pounds of luggage and left with fifty-one. And a purse filled to the brim. And a boy’s backpack that barely closed. I have no idea how I accumulated so much stuff. Well, yes. I do. I bought new work clothes. And a pair of shoes. And baby clothes. And shorts for Justin. And it weighed about fourteen pounds. But now it’s all home, sitting in the hall outside my bedroom. Totally worth the drama.

Guy who shouldn’t be sitting next to a baby sitting next to a baby? Check. On our first flight, a lovely gentleman in a very nice suit was seated next to us. He wound up holding Robbie for a minute when the flight attendant had concerns about my carry-ons not fitting under the seat. I purposely didn’t have Robbie eat the snack I had brought for him because I could just see cheesy residue on this man’s suit and business papers. I was even more happy when I found out that he was on his way to a job interview.

Puking child? Check. Yes, I kept the cheesy fingers off the man’s suit. I also managed to keep an apple juice/pretzel puke combination off his suit. Unfortunately, that meant that it was all over me. Shirt. Pants. Hands. This gentleman was willing to hold a plastic bag for me while I mopped to vomit off with paper towels.

Nowhere to buy a new pair of pants in the Atlanta airport? Check. I looked all over Terminal B for a pair of souvenir pants. They didn’t have any. So, I continued to travel in puke-stained pants. But, I did get a pretty fancy $9.99 Atlanta, Georgia shirt.

Bathroom drama? Check. Some woman burst past me in line for the bathroom, shouting that her son had to go to the bathroom. She went into the open handicap stall. So, Robbie and I wound up in a small stall that, for future reference, does not fit a stroller. While I changed shirts, Robbie tried to play in the toilet. And then he threw my old shirt in the toilet. And then I couldn’t get the door open, so I had to put the stroller on top of the toilet to get out. I have to be honest; I loudly complained about the other woman and how she could have used a regular stall. I told Robbie that I hoped he would be polite to people with strollers and use the appropriate sized bathroom stall. But I don’t think the other lady spoke enough English to understand.

Delayed flight? Check. Our flight from Atlanta to Boston was delayed 67 minutes. And then we got on the plane, and it was delayed another twenty minutes. The good news about the initial delay was that it gave me time to find a new shirt, fish my old shirt out of the toilet, have a bad chicken salad sandwich, and determine that there are no pants for sale (other than Lacoste and Sean Jean) at the Atlanta airport.

Screaming child? Check. Check. Check. That’s right. We were “those” people on Delta flight 1400. The people other passengers are probably still bitching about. “Can you believe that child screamed for at least half the flight?” Yes, I can believe it. “That” child didn’t have a nap. He hadn’t been able to play and crawl around all day. And when he gets to that screeching and howling stage, there is no consoling him. But I did the best I could. Robbie finally fell asleep after screaming at the top of his lungs for twenty-five minutes. It was almost worth it because he fell asleep in my arms – something he never does. But then he woke up screaming again. For another twenty-five minutes or so. At the top of his lungs.

Survival? Check. Robbie and I made it. Micah and Allie were there to get us at the airport. And we made it. Alive. We weren’t kicked off the plane mid-flight. I’ve decided that Robbie and I were kind of partners in crime. Granted, I don’t ever want to relive this day. But, if I had to, there’s no one I’d rather do it with than Robbie.

Saying Good Bye

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I’ve extended our trip home as long as I could, and tomorrow Robbie and I fly home. I don’t know that I expected good bye to be so hard, but it’s been so nice being home. So easy. I don’t care how old you are; when you go to your parents’ house, you don’t have to be in charge. I had forgotten how nice it was to not be in charge for a little while.

Robbie and I have seen all of our friends in Lexington, except for one. We have spent countless hours with family, banking up as much quality time as we could until the next visit. Hilary and I have watched six episodes of Big Brother together, and I’m not sure I’ll survive the rest of the season without her on the couch next to me. I have eaten at all of my favorite Lexington restarants and visited some places I had forgotten about. It is the first time that I don’t feel like I had to rush through a trip to get to everything and everyone. And I don’t feel exhausted going home – although the idea of Robbie on a three hour flight from Atlanta to Boston does make me tired…

And you know what else? I miss my husband. And it’s kind of a nice feeling. We haven’t been apart for two weeks in close to two years. Sure, he traveled a lot when Robbie was really little, but he was never gone more than a week without coming home for a day or two. I cannot wait to see him Tuesday night when he gets in from Texas. For the first time in a while, we have so much to catch up on!

It’s hard tearing yourself away from family when you come visit (unless it’s been a terrible trip, and you just can’t get to the airport fast enough!). I must have hugged Hilary six times before I left her house tonight (the poor cat got two!), but I only got teary once. I know I’ll be a mess when Mom drops me off at the airport tomorrow morning. But, you know what? There’s always Thanksgiving! I hear we’ll be home for Thanksgiving for the first time in six years…

Exhausted from Nothing

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Ever have one of those days when you’re so exhausted you can barely stand at the sink long enough to brush your teeth? Me, too. Every day of my life. And I have no idea why I am so tired. I’m lucky enough to get about seven hours of sleep a night; perhaps my body just craves eight. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything so extraordinary that my body can’t stay awake. Am I just old?

I nearly went to bed without writing tonight. It didn’t even occur to me until I was halfway down the stairs. And then I thought about ignoring it because I was too tired to even think of anything to write about. But what did I do today to make me so tired?

I slep until 8:40. Maybe that’s where the problem started – eight hours of sleep. It’s too much now; my body can’t handle it? We spent two hours at a craft fair, but Robbie only got fussy at the end. Surely that isn’t it. We spent forty minutes at the pool. I could understand tired from the pool, but forty minutes shouldn’t qualify. I diverted full cups of water that were being poured onto the floor from the bathtub – mostly unsuccessfully – and wrestled with a thirteen-month-old boy as I tried to wash his face and hair. I drank a few beers, had pizza, and caught up on all the latest Teen Mom drama. And almost fell asleep during Date Night.

Are mothers just this tired because we bear the emotional responsibility for everyone else in the family? Is it their way of beating us into submission? I don’t know. I’ll have to sleep on it…