Creativity: #NaBloPoMo Day 29

Charlotte is turning into quite the little artist. When asked what she was thankful for last week, she answered “crafts”. She will sit at the table and color detailed pictures of elaborate stories while she eats her breakfast. This is today’s masterpiece:

This is Charlotte (with “rosy cheeks and pigtails”), sitting in the grass after walking through the mud (black footprints). She has a baby in her tummy (ha ha, eek!). The sun is in the sky, so “of course” it made her shadow right beside her (purple). The yellow person next to her is a “girl pretending to be a bird.”

This girl doesn’t really have any interest yet in learning to write letters or her name, but I’ll take these sweet drawings and her creativity over that any day.

She’s growing up.

Monday, Monday: #NaBloPoMo Day 28

Things I’m proud of today:

  • We bought a new mattress yesterday with the money we got from an unexpected refund check. Our current one is about 9 years old and is so uncomfortable. I can’t wait for the new one to be delivered on Wednesday
  • I made myself sit down and read the manual to my new InstantPot and I cooked a whole chicken (in 20 minutes) to have on hand for the week, and I made shrimp and sausage for dinner. So far, the pot has been life-changing, at least for today.
  • Instead of watching Gilmore Girls like I really wanted to during naptime, I made 4 phone calls instead- oh the horror. All the calls were concerning Grayson and medical equipment and medications, and I’m glad to have these things checked off my list.
  • I cleaned and organized the play room, even though my efforts are pointless as it will inevitably be back to its disastrous state by tomorrow.
Things I’m not so proud of today:
  • I abandoned my original post for today because it was giving me a headache and anxiety. Some days I’m just insecure about putting myself out there, and I hate that.
  • The house is a mess. Always. Sigh.
  • I made grits to go with the shrimp and sausage and they were…bleh.
  • Nolan was a cranky mess from about 4:15 on and would not stop crying, even when I held him. Teeth? So I put him in bed with a bottle at 5:30 and he fell right to sleep. My goal of being able to stay in bed until at least 6 am tomorrow is not looking good.
How was your Monday?

      Is Something Wrong with Me?: #NaBloPoMo Day 27

      I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year analyzing Charlotte’s behavior and wondering if it’s normal. It’s no secret she and I have both struggled with age three. I was never one to say “My kid will never…” about most things, but I guess subconsciously, I did indeed think, “My kid will never…” For example, my kid was never going take until almost 4 to be potty trained. My kid was never going to look me in the eye, laugh, and continue doing the very thing I told her forcefully not to do. My kid was never going to constantly interrupt me while I talked to another adult. My kid was never going to shove her baby brother to the ground because he took her toy. And on and on.

      And there’s my side of it too. I was never going to completely lose my shit on my kid. I was never going to give in to an argument just for the sake of peace and quiet. And I certainly was never going to admit that a lot of time, the day to day, minute to minute aspects of parenting just totally suck.

      Never say never, friends.

      And while I analyze the normalcy of Charlotte’s behavior, I also analyze my thoughts and attitudes about parenting. Is something wrong with me that I am not particularly enjoying my children these days? That a lot of my parenting feels forced? That no matter how hard I try, at the end of the day most of what I remember are the messes, failures, conflict and tears?

      I’m almost certain that most people would say there’s nothing wrong with me or my kids. That this is just a really hard stage for both of us and somehow, we’ll survive, and most likely, things will get easier. Charlotte will eventually learn to regulate her emotions and Nolan won’t always be intent on destroying everything in his path with no regard for his personal safety.

      I try to laugh and find humor in the hard parts, but I think sometimes that’s just a cover up for how hard it really is. I literally cannot keep up with the mess, and that makes me feel like a total failure. So to cope, I take a picture of my toddler surrounded my hundreds of tiny beads that he flung off the table and either text it or post it on facebook. Laughing or rolling my eyes is better than dissolving in tears and burying myself under the covers, which is what I really want to do a lot of the time.

      I want to try giving myself a break. I’m going to stop beating myself up for not absolutely loving life and parenting right now. It’s hard, and it’s hard because it’s hard, not because I’m doing something wrong. And I’m so thankful for those of you who have written about this very topic in your own spaces, because it does help tremendously to know that I’m not alone, and maybe that I’m even a little bit normal.

      Nolan’s Birth Story: #NaBloPoMo Day 26

      It’s Saturday evening and we are driving home from the ranch. I’m tired and have a lot of work ahead getting unloaded and kids fed and in bed. So I’m cheating on #NaBloPoMo today and publishing a 2/3 written draft from almost 15 months ago- Nolan’s birth story. I never totally finished writing it, and am not going to try and jog my memory now, but I am glad I wrote the most important parts. Sorry, kid, love you to pieces. 

      As you may know from my posts (or lack of posts) since January, I had a hard pregnancy. I was sick almost immediately after testing positive and it never got much better. I was constantly hungry and nauseus, which is not a fun combination to endure for 9 months. I honestly wonder why I didn’t gain more weight than I did, because it seems like I was constantly stuffing food in my mouth, both day and throughout the night. So, by the end I was done. Done, done, done. I hate that I felt this way, because it was my last pregnancy. I’m still processing the whole “last baby” thing, and all the emotions that go with that, both negative, positive, and everything in between. And I’m sure I’ll be processing it for quite a while, as Nolan grows and meets milestones that I’ll get to witness for the “last” time. Sigh.

      Anyway, already having had two babies that were two weeks early, I assumed this one would follow suit. As I approached full term, I got more and more uncomfortable by the day, and honestly was in pain and just miserable most of the time. I was ready. I briefly considered scheduling an induction, but my doctor said she couldn’t do it until 39 weeks and she didn’t think I would make it that far anyway. At my 37 week appointment, I was dilated 3 cm. The next day, I started having mild contractions.

      My appointment was on a Thursday, and the next day I got an email from my doctor with the subject line being “Stay Pregnant!” I adore my doctor, and I would have been crushed if she wasn’t able to deliver my third baby. She was going out of town that weekend, so I had to stay pregnant until at least Monday, August 31. Right after reading that email, I went to the bathroom and eek, I was starting to lose my mucus plug. Shoot. I emailed her back and she replied that she was going to be covering for the on-call doctor starting Sunday at 5:00. Ok, new goal- make it to Sunday at 5:00. That weekend, I tried to lay around and relax as much as possible and “stay pregnant”- ha! I was having contractions and generally didn’t feel very well, but I was determined.

      Sunday afternoon, I decided to start walking, because I knew I would make it to 5:00 and like I said, I was ready- done being pregnant. I took Charlotte around the block a few times, and then my mom came and got her for the night. I went upstairs around 3:00, went to the bathroom, and honestly thought my water broke. I was contracting, “leaking”, and ready- so I took a shower and off to the hospital we went.

      Once I got to L&D and changed into a gown, the doctor (not mine) checked me- still at 3 cm, and no, my water had not broken. Aaaa! I was having regular contractions and my blood pressure was high, so they took a lot of labs, which came back normal. The doctor told me to get dressed and go home, but my amazing friend J, who helped me with Charlotte’s birth, was there with me and encouraged me to walk to see if that helped jump-start things. I walked for a few minutes, but got frustrated quickly and just decided to go home.

      Monday, I really don’t remember- really, I have no recollection of what happened that day. I woke up Tuesday morning about 6:00 having strong-ish contractions- definitely painful, but nothing I couldn’t talk through. I called my doctor and she said to come in to the office at 8:30 and she’d check me. My mom offered to help, so we drove to the doctor- she took Charlotte to Chick Fil A down the street and I took Grayson in with me. In the office, my blood pressure was high again but I was still only dilated 3.5 cm. My doctor said because of the BP, she could induce me that day if I wanted (I was exactly 38 weeks). I didn’t hesitate at all- YES. By this point, I was so tired of the uncertainty, and the stress of coordinating where the kids were going to be. I just wanted to have the baby!

      My mom drove me to the hospital and then left to take Grayson to school and Charlotte to the zoo. Labor and Delivery was really busy that day, and I ended up waiting about 20 minutes to be called back to a room. There were no actual delivery rooms available so I was put in an ante-partum room for much of the day. Ryan arrived at the hospital shortly after I got in that room and J came up a few hours later- I was starving and she was so sweet to go to the store and snuck me my favorite crackers. 
      An IV was started right away, and a few hours later I was given penicillin because I was Group B strep positive (ugh, I was negative with both other babies). That penicillin going into my hand was the most painful part of the entire day- it burned SO badly I wanted to cry. My blood pressure was fine in the hospital-probably  because the stress of ot knowing when this was going to happen was gone. There were several times when the nurses told me they were moving me to a delivery room, but I kept getting bumped for women coming in in active labor. 
      Finally, I was moved to a delivery room and things started happening quickly. I got my epidural, my doctor broke my water, and pitocin was started all in about 45 minutes. My doctor was concerned that the baby was head down but turned to the side, so I had to lay on my side with one leg in a stirrup for 30 minutes and then switch to the other side. And actually, that position was really comfortable. As we did with Charlotte, we all (me, Ryan, J, my doctor, and the nurse) made predictions about the baby: sex, weight, and time of birth. I was a lot more accurate this time than I was with Charlotte!

      My epidural worked just as it should and all I felt was pressure. At about 8:15 pm my doctor arrived and I got ready to start pushing. 

      Nolan Reid was born at 8:31 pm on my third push. After two pushes I heard “look at all that hair!” ha! and then on push 3 “It’s a boy!”He immediately started wailing. 

      Black Friday: #NaBloPoMo Day 25

      We are currently at the ranch, in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest Walmart is 18 miles away. So, physical Black Friday shopping wasn’t going to happen this year. Not that I ever do Black Friday anyway; the older I get, the more I detest going to actual stores.

      The Instapot Black Friday Amazon deal did suck me in this year, and with a swipe of my finger, I am now the proud owner of this life changing pot. We’ll see. Actually, I need it to be life-changing, because I haven’t really cooked dinner in almost a year. Grayson’s nurse used to eat with us every night she worked, which was actual motivation to make actual meals. When she told us she would be gone for a month starting Christmas week last year, we decided to take that month off from cooking. Well, she disappeared and never came back, and neither did dinner. It’s been an 11 month hiatus…I need something life changing. And apparently you can throw frozen meat in there, which really would be life changing because one of my major weaknesses is not remembering to take meat out of the freezer to thaw.

      We had a nice, relatively low key day today Miraculously, the kids slept until 6:30 (Nolan has been up before 6:00 since the time change) and we took our time getting the day started. The weather has been perfect, so we’ve been able to be outside for hours at a time. Nolan and Grayson actually napped at the same time, so I was able to nap outside by the pool. This afternoon, we said goodbye to my brother and his new wife who are flying back to their home in Australia. We may not see them again for a year. Sad face. After they left, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores by the fire pit, and the kids played in the dirt and threw rocks in the creek. It really is a kids’ paradise up here; I love that they play, play, play, get filthy, and then we bathe and feed them and stick them in bed. I told Charlotte tomorrow she can’t yell for me when she wakes up, that I will come and get her when it’s an acceptable time to get out of bed. If we make it to 7 am I will consider it a major win.

      Tomorrow we’ll go home and *deep breaths* head into the holiday season. As much as I would like to fast-forward through the next 5 weeks, I really am determined to have a good attitude about Christmas this year. But decorating the tree is already stressing me out and it isn’t even out of the attic yet. I’m trying not to see decorations as just more things I have to keep the toddler from destroying, ugh. More deep breaths.

      Let the crazy Christmas season begin. But first, Gilmore Girls.

      Pineapple and Immigrants: #NaBloPoMo Day 23

      Today’s Exit the Echo Chamber challenge was to create an empathy map, which “allows you to tune into another person by considering what that person thinks, sees, hears and feels.”

      We are at the ranch for Thanksgiving, so I had my two sisters in law, my mom, and my brother help me with this exercise. Family group project for the win!

      We warmed up with empathizing with people who like pineapple on pizza, and then finished with the slightly heavier subject of mass deportation of illegal immigrants.

      This was an interesting, thought-provoking exercise, especially given the perspectives of my sisters in law, one of whom is an immigrant and one who is an Australian citizen.

      What issue would you choose if you were to complete an empathy map?

      Dragons: #NaBloPoMo Day 22

      Charlotte has a book about a little boy who woke up one morning to find a small dragon in his room. The boy went and told his mother and she told him, There’s no such thing as a dragon. So for the rest of the day, the little boy ignored the dragon, acting like it wasn’t there, because he thought there was no sense giving the dragon any attention or correction if it really didn’t exist. But the problem was, the more he ignored the dragon, the larger and more destructive it became. Eventually, the dragon filled the family’s house, pulled it up by the foundation, and ran away with their home. The little boy’s father found the family and asked, How did this happen? When he was told that it was the dragon, the mother tried to deny its existence again, but this time, the little boy wasn’t having it. There IS a dragon! A very BIG dragon! and he patted the dragon on the head. Immediately, the dragon began to get smaller.

      Small dragons are still dragons, and can quickly turn into big dragons when good people deny or downplay their existence.


      Read the full article.

      Hamilton Love and Controversy: #NaBloPoMo Day 21

      Hamilton has been the soundtrack of my life since June and I haven’t listened to much else the last 5 months. I haven’t seen the actual Broadway performance (hopefully someday!) but I could not love this cultural phenomenon more. My thoughts on the Hamilton/Pence controversy are at the end of this post, but first, why Hamilton has my whole heart right now.

       

      The story

      Hamilton, written by Lin-Manual Miranda, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and the other founding fathers, the revolution, and the early days of our nation in the most creative, compelling way imaginable. It’s a history lesson, love story, sex scandal, and social and political commentary all rolled into one energetic masterpiece. I often think how amazing it would have been to have access to this in high school while taking US History.

      There is no dialogue apart from the music, so just by listening to the soundtrack, you get the whole story. This is how the vast majority of people are experiencing Hamilton right now; the ticket prices and location (currently only on Broadway and in Chicago) shut most of us out from seeing the live performance. Just like anything else, the more you listen to the lyrics of the music, the more details and subtleties you pick up. So many of LMM’s lyrics have double and triple meanings, and if you are a nerd like me you can go to genius.com and read commentary about the words until your head explodes.

      The Music

      Hamilton isn’t a traditional Broadway musical. There are a few traditional show tunes, but a lot of the music is hip-hop, the language of revolution. There’s also pop, love ballads, and R&B music, and the musical styles correspond perfectly to the characters who sing the songs. There are 46 songs on the soundtrack, and it is impossible for me to pick a favorite (my favorite totally depends on the day and the mood). I challenged myself to pick my top 15, in order on the album (I tried to do top 10 and couldn’t do it): My Shot, The Schuyler Sisters, Helpless, Wait For it, That Would Be Enough, Yorktown (gun to my head, this one might be my favorite), Dear Theodosia, Non-Stop, Cabinet Battle #1, Take A Break, Hurricane, Burn, It’s Quiet Uptown, The Election of 1800, Who Lives, Who Dies Who Tells Your Story. The music is addicting, and I’ve started actually thinking in Hamilton lyrics, and words in totally unrelated contexts will trigger me singing a line in my head!

      The Message

      Every character in Hamilton except for one (King George of England), is played by a person of color. This is a deliberate, crucial part of the show, and the casting, music and language all emphasize the role of immigrants and diversity in our country, as well as the spirit of revolution (there’s a lot that’s been written about the correlation between Hamilton and movements like Black Lives Matter). The themes of legacy, ambition, and revolution are all woven throughout the show. And Alexander Hamilton is a writer, and uses writing to process his circumstances and challenges, which I totally relate to. Hamilton is the story of the birth of our country, but so much of that story is playing out today in our current political climate, and we need to be paying attention, because history tends to repeat itself.

      ————————————————–

      I’ve been thinking a lot about my response to the Hamilton/Mike Pence controversy that occurred over the weekend. I realize my response is going to be biased not only because of my political leanings but because Hamilton is just about my favorite thing right now. But, I did try to think critically and consider both sides. Here are my thoughts:

      • The audience shouldn’t have booed. That was rude and inappropriate (although considering the  makeup of the audience, understandable).
      • I wish instead of just making the statement that they did, they would have invited Pence backstage for actual conversation instead of just a one-sided message.
      • The message they did deliver (from one VP (Aaron Burr) to another (Pence)) was heartfelt, respectful and totally appropriate considering how he chose to spend his Friday night.
      • Mike Pence went to see Hamilton, a political show with political messages. He didn’t see Wicked or Mama Mia. Hamilton is entertaining, but anyone who sees it purely as entertainment is completely missing the point. I’m calling bullshit on Trump’s whiny tweet saying the theater should be a safe place. That’s not what theater is, especially for a show like this.
      • The cast of Hamilton is representative of people who feel they will be marginalized and discriminated against when Trump and Pence take office in January. They had a platform to voice concerns respectfully and that’s what they did. Pence was elected on a ticket that is anti-immigrant, anti-POC, and anti-inclusion. He needed to hear the message of Hamilton, as well as the message delivered by the cast.
      • Because revolution is such a central theme of the musical, I saw the message to Pence as a form of resistance that was in a small way revolutionary in itself.
      • I’m not a Pence fan at all, but I do respect his response to the controversy. I think he and his boss need to talk more.
      • Donald Trump proved once again he cannot handle the slightest criticism (he was whining about SNL less than 24 hours after whining about Hamilton).
      • I could totally believe that this is a manufactured controversy to distract from more troubling issues: the settlement of the Trump U lawsuit, Trump’s conflict of interest with his businesses, children, and running the country, and his appointment of white supremacists and racists to his staff and cabinet. Hey Trump- Winning is easy, young man, governing’s harder.
      • #boycotthamilton people, you are RIDICULOUS. You can’t boycott something that is inaccessible to 99.9% of the population. But I will be glad to take your ticket if you feel like you can’t in good conscience attend.
      Rise Up!

      Exit the Echo Chamber Challenge Day 1 and 2: #NaBloPoMo Day 20

      My newest podcast obsession is the show Pantsuit Politics. The hosts are two women who are friends from college; one is a Republican and one a Democrat. They refer to themselves on the show as Beth from the Right and Sarah from the Left, and the whole premise of the podcast is nuanced, respectful conversations on politics. I have learned so much from these ladies since I started listening, including a much better understanding of the stances of both major political parties.

      Since the election of Donald Trump, their shows have been focused on where do we, as a country, go from here and come together. Even though one is a Republican both hosts were opposed to Trump and did not vote for him, but have tried hard to offer perspective to their listeners.

      This week, Pantsuit Politics is hosting an online challenge: Exit the Echo Chamber. You can read the premise of the challenge here.

      I am taking on this challenge in order to find some way to understand the perspectives of so many that I love, perspectives that right now I just don’t understand at all. I need to find away to redirect my anger to make a positive difference in my world.

      I’m not expecting to change my position. I vehemently opposed to Trump and the rhetoric that got him elected. But I hope I will have a little more understanding and perhaps compassion at the end of the week. If nothing else, I’ll be a better listener.

      Day 1:

      Day 2:

      Since I lean to the left, I chose to listen to 1 right leaning podcast and read 2 right-leaning articles. Yesterday, I listened to “Evangelicals and Women Who Voted for Trump Must Be Ready to Get to Work” from the podcast The Federalist Radio Hour. I also read  “The Painfully Obvious Reason Christians Voted for Trump (that liberals just don’t understand)”  from LifeSite News. I chose this one because it was posted in one of the Facebook groups I’m in and there was a long and intense thread of discussion about it. Thirdly, I read “What to Tell Your Children About Trump”. in the Wall Street Journal.

      Honestly, this day was a lot harder than I expected to find compassion and empathy for the views professed in these sources. The podcast and the blog post both reiterated the two things I’ve seen over and over again from Christians as reasons for voting Trump: abortion and religious liberty. As I was already aware of these positions and am firm in my opposing positions, these really didn’t do much but further frustrate me. I just can’t say I learned anything new or gained any compassion by listening or reading. However, I do realize that most Christians who voted for Trump aren’t budging on these issues, so there’s no sense in constantly being angry about it. The third article by Peggy Noonan gave me a little more perspective on where our country is today and where we are headed. One of her points is America has survived a lot of hard times and the Trump presidency may not be either a wild success or a wild failure. America is strong and we should trust our country. While I’m skeptical, I do hope she’s right.

      Today’s challenge is to have an in real life conversation with someone who voted differently than you. This will be happening tonight, although not with a Trump voter. Hopefully I can have one of those soon- I think it would be good for me to talk with someone face to face instead of behind the keyboard.

      I’m definitely not in an echo chamber with the people I interact with personally or even online. I have just as many friends who I disagree with politically than who I do agree with. However, I do tend to read and listen to things that reinforce my own views, so this week has and will definitely challenge me.

      #exittheechochamber