Friday, October 28, 2011

Doodle: Grapheine

I often write about my kids learning new concepts but I would be remiss if I did not also show you how much I learn being a stay-at-home-Momvelist! For instance, since my daughter Adelaide was born I have been able to conduct an intensive five week experiment on caffeine.

Here are some of the results:


How Coffee Affects My Morning

How I Use Caffeine Induced Energy

And finally, just for kicks...

How I Drink My Coffee

Riveting stuff, yes? Fortunately for you we have decided to make this a long-term experiment.
In the name of science.

Now please excuse me, I have to go drink some science.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mom-ing: Adelaide Arrives: A Lesson In Humility

My newest daughter has finally arrived! Her name is Adelaide Marian Lorelai and she was seven pounds exactly, nineteen inches exactly. She's already a very exact person, clearly. Her arrival was something of an adventure -- and not in the yippe-doo-dah way -- more like the let's-never-ever-do-that-again way. It all started in the wee hours of the morning on 9/15 when I went into labor. At least, I was almost certain I was going into labor. The contractions were picking up in intensity but were irregularly spaced -- something that happened in both my previous pregnancies, so I considered to be normal. Then, just an hour or two shy of daylight, the contractions stopped. False alarm! I was honestly relieved though because my mom was arriving in town that very morning and I really wanted her around for the birth.

That day went well, despite my lack of sleep. I enjoyed getting to see my mother and we got right to work on finishing all the cleaning projects I had been attempting to complete single-handedly (okay, I used two hands. Also, Ben would help when he was home). My mother is like a force of nature! And praise God for it because over the next several days "us" cleaning turned more and more into "her" cleaning while I tried to sleep or lounge in some manner. I was pretty consistently tired in the days leading up to D-day because almost every time I rested my body decided it was time for more contractions.

It seemed like almost every morning I would wake up (if I got to sleep at all) with news of how many hours I'd had contractions the previous evening and how convinced I had been each night that this was the time we would be heading to the hospital. It was especially convincing because of how increasingly intense (read: "painful") the contractions were. Then each night would end in disappointment as my contractions would cease with the arrival of daylight and I would spend another day tired. It's not that I didn't rest a lot, I definitely did, and I am a huge proponent for naps even when someone is not pregnant or a new mother -- it's just that napping usually brought on at least one very painful contraction that would wake me up, and that'd be it! I'd be awake with no going back.

Finally, on the morning of 9/20, I knew this had to be it. My contractions were equally as painful as I recall them being when I was at least 6cm dilated in my previous two deliveries. I timed them. They were more regular than they had ever been. I got out of bed and walked around and they stayed consistent! The spacing moved closer and closer from 10 minutes apart to 5-7 minutes apart. At 5:30am I made the call to wake up the household so we could head to the hospital. A friend from church graciously took Liam and Darcie in so we could go do the day's hard work (thank you, Christine!).

Based on my previous two experiences I fully expected to have Adelaide by noon. I was aware that it was in no way guaranteed that this would happen, but given the "leg up" I had supposedly been getting I was sure that now that I was in "real" labor things would progress quickly. You can imagine my chagrin then when we arrived at the hospital and I was only (barely) 4cm dilated, not the 6cm+ I had thought. To add insult to injury my contractions stopped! So we did what any woman trying to jump start or progress labor does: we walked. We walked a lot. Despite the tiny, warren-like qualities of the labor and delivery wing I walked those halls like I was on a mission (which I was). The contractions continued to come so long as I was walking, but if I sat or stood still for any length of time they would stop again. We were given the choice between walking at the hospital some more or getting discharged so I could walk wherever I wanted. We opted for the latter and went to the mall across the street.

I had a fun time shopping! I did manage to get some more contractions via walking around but they were not regular enough to return to the hospital. I was starting to suspect the culprit for all this trouble was my level of tiredness. Too many nights (and nap times) in a row of not getting enough sleep. Thankfully my mom and husband were very gracious and kept up good spirits when I suggested we go home and take a nap. It seemed clear to everyone that I was indeed in labor, my body just didn't want to acknowledge it for the moment.

Taking a nap really did the trick. I started contracting after two hours of lovely sleep and they were getting toward the high end of the pain scale in intensity. The contractions were 5-7 minutes apart and I decided to walk around the house some more to see if they would become more regular. They did! They jumped to around 3 minutes apart and I was feeling pressure low in my pelvis. I was sure that I was at least 8cm and that if things picked up I could only be a couple hours from pushing! We returned triumphantly to the hospital.

That's when I found out I was only 6.5cm dilated and not anywhere near pushing. Also, once in the hospital, my contractions slowed down once more. That was okay though, we could do this! I had a great team who helped rally my spirits. My contractions were about 7 minute apart but at least they were consistently coming! And they were clearly painful enough to be doing good work. After almost four hours of hard laboring I was looking forward to getting my progress checked and having some good news. My contractions were still 7 minutes apart but I was feeling increased pressure in my pelvis and the contractions were so painful that I knew we were getting close to pushing -- which was just as well because I was almost out of juice. Not the literal kind, there was plenty of that stocked in the snack room, but the emotional & physical kind that gets you through tough situations. It was then that we found out that I had only progressed a single centimeter. We were nowhere close to pushing!

At this rate I would be laboring all night, no question. The doctor offered to break my water, which was certain to make the contractions more painful, but if my body somehow resisted being regular even after taking this measure I knew the dreaded Pitocin was next on the horizon, and there was even a faint hint of possible c-section in the mist. Furthermore, despite having snuck food at different points during the labor, I was so weak from how hard and prolonged labor had been that I was trembling and weak. The truth was that I hadn't just been in labor since that afternoon, or even 3:00 that morning, and I didn't have a "leg up" from the contractions before that day; I had been in labor since the previous Thursday (5 days beforehand) with weird and demoralizing breaks in between laboring sessions. I was exhausted in every sense of the word. It was then that I said the words I never thought would sincerely cross my lips.

"You want an epidural? Are you sure?" my husband asked. I had spent months, if not years, telling my husband never to let me talk myself into an epidural. It was a decision no one, least of all myself, was comfortable with.What I knew for certain was that even if it had been time to push at that very moment, I would have barely made it through. Though my will power was strong, I was too physically weakened. The reality of having to choose between dragging out labor for longer, or making it even more intense with the possibility of unwanted complications, made me face some hard truths. I was letting my pride impede the delivery of my daughter. I delivered both my previous two children without epidurals and I labored mostly in silence, with low lights, etc. It was common for nurses to remark how well they thought I handled laboring. Perhaps they say that to everyone, I don't know, but it's very encouraging to hear when you're in labor. I was especially pleased with how proud I made my husband with each successful, natural childbirth. Saying that I wanted an epidural was like admitting defeat. In my mind, Ben could no longer be proud of me if I got one and I did not want that. I wanted his praise. But I could no longer deny that I needed serious help in the form of some medical intervention, so, in a spectacular display of weeping, I announced that I was indeed getting an epidural.

I'm not sure what this all looked like to my husband and mom. They probably thought I had some break with reality. I wanted an epidural? Hadn't I spent years talking about the health benefits of not getting one? Sure, I knew friends and family who had gotten them and even thought they had made wise decisions for themselves, but I was not an epidural person. Or so I thought.

Turns out getting an epidural was (har, har, har) just what the doctor ordered. My body had been too exhausted to labor properly and I was too worn out to relax enough to even let my contractions do their business. Once I had the epidural my contractions sped up to 3 minutes apart and I shot to 9.5cm dilation within an hour. They broke my water for me then and within minutes it was time to push! Three painless pushes later and my daughter was born. I cried again (tears of joy this time, of course). We had a beautiful, perfect baby girl with a full head of hair! Praise the Lord!

It has been a big lesson in swallowing my pride and learning to trust the Lord's timing and looking to Him -- not the praise of other people -- for my validation. Not only was I reinforced in an important life lesson through this experience, but I also got a beautiful daughter! And Percocet. I like the daughter best though.

-----------------------------------------------------

Also, as a note, my husband is still very proud of me and cheers me on like I am champion among women. I am so thankful for Ben and his support! And thankful for my mother and all her hard work! I couldn't have done it, epidural or not, without you two.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Doodle: Rice for Dinner

So, the other night, at dinner...









Well, at least she's trying to eat it all?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Doodle: School Is Everywhere

The great thing about educating your children at home is that the classroom can be anywhere and even anytime. Want to teach about the stars? Take your kids out at night and view them firsthand! You get the idea.

The "great" thing about teaching preschoolers at home is that not only can the classroom be anywhere, it is in fact everywhere.

All the time.

Whether you like it or not.

For example:
(I drew a snail instead of a cockroach which is far more likely. You're welcome.)

D'oh! What do you do now? Praise? Scold?

Counting: A+
Appropriateness: C-
Still, that wasn't so bad. And the hilarity factor is pretty high. Let's look at some other examples!





Oops! Sorry about that one, honey.

Compassion: A+
Obedience: A+
Appropriateness: D-
She loves her daddy. What can you do? This not only has a high hilarity factor but also a humiliation factor. Those two things might be related, actually.
For our final example, let's head to a supermarket! There's a lot to be learned in supermarkets. The possibilities are almost limitless. I would, however, advise against certain subject matter...but sometimes you don't have a choice and your preschooler decides it's time for a pop quiz!



Super. Just super, son.

Anatomy: A+
Appropriateness: F
I think it's pretty clear that this next school year we need to offer a course on the appropriateness of certain situations. We'll call it Discernment 101. Or maybe it's more an 89 level class. Preschoolers have to start from scratch when learning these things because, let's face it, they come with zero discernment on their own.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time Warp: When Ben Brought Home Flowers

When Ben and I were the absolute newest of newlyweds (think: two weeks or so) we both learned what a control freak I truly am. I had Ben's schedule down to a science, so I always knew what he was doing and when he was doing it, and any deviation that was not communicated to me was met with panic. Inevitably, the days I would try to pop over to his work and surprise him for lunch were the days that he had taken lunch early and was so bogged down with work he really couldn't justify spending any time with me in the middle of the work day.
Oh no! my mind would wonder. What does this MEAN? He took an early lunch!
"You could have at least told me!" I would say out loud. But poor Ben had no idea he was expected to announce his lunch habits to me when he worked across town and I had given him no indication that I would want to know.

Ben often had to work long, long hours in those first few weeks. His studio was in crunch time trying to finish the tv show they were producing before the fast approaching deadline arrived. One night though, Ben was able to come home at a normal hour, and I was elated! I cooked some chicken alfredo -- one of his favorites -- and I timed it perfectly. By that point Ben knew he should let me know the exact moment he was leaving work (not when he was "wrapping up" -- there's a difference) and I knew down to within 120 seconds just how long it would take him to get home, even accounting for the traffic patterns of different days of the week. And if he took a little longer I could look up traffic reports on the highways he took home and create a revised ETA! That's normal, right?

Well anyway, the appointed time came and went for when Ben was supposed to be home. The alfredo was slowly congealing on the stove. It had been, like, two whole minutes since he should have arrived so I did some Googling. No accidents or unusual traffic on his route home...so what was causing the delay? I decided to be a good girl and wait until he was 5 minutes late before I texted him -- he seemed to get irked if I was too worry-prone and nosy, for some reason. When the clock finally hit the 5 minute mark I whipped out my phone with real relief, certain I was going to have answers soon. Maybe he had given someone a ride home?

No response.

I started pacing the kitchen. Peeking out the back door towards the parking lot every five minutes. Keeping my eyes glued to the window that faces the driveway.
5 minutes isn't such a big deal, right? Perhaps there was an accident so new it just hadn't been reported the first time I checked.
So I checked again...still nothing. Clear highways and streets. It's been 10 minutes by this point and I'm really starting to worry.

Oh, God! I prayed. Please don't let me be one of those tragic widows whose husband gets taken away after only a few weeks of marriage! Somehow I thought it was more tragic that way, as opposed to spending years with your spouse and raising children with them before having them die unexpectedly. Ah, the naivety of young love.

Anyway, back to the story. 10 minutes have passed. 11....12....13....14. The tension that was building in me with each passing moment was unbearable. It was like I had reached my absolute limit of stress and worry only to forcibly have my limits redefined and to reach those as well! I started bargaining with God.

Please, God! I will be the best wife ever! I will never take my husband for granted. You have shown me so much in this instance, please, please, bring him back to me alive!

15 minutes. I tried to calm myself down. I really, really tried. People have been 15 minutes late before, right? I reasoned. He probably just didn't see my text. I should call instead, he's sure to hear that. So I call. It rings. And rings, and rings, and rings. Voicemail. What? Ben didn't answer his phone? I genuinely could not remember the last time that had happened, and that is what finally sent me over the edge of reality I had so tenuously been clinging onto. I started waiting for that phone call or knock on the door from a police officer or medical professional letting me know that my husband was gone. I took a different tack bargaining with God.

Please, God, let me at least say goodbye to him! Let them notify me in enough time to see him alive one last time -- if only for a few minutes!

20 minutes late. I am now on the kitchen floor, crying my eyes out while trying to figure out how I'm going to tell people the bad news, wondering whether I should get a job or move back in with my parents, and realizing how completely crappy those life options are without Ben. The fettuccine noodles have, by this point, hardened to become one giant stringy monster from whom there is no escape. The alfredo sauce has cooled and thickened back into cheese-like solidity. I hear a sound at the door.

My heart freezes. That sounds like a key! But that couldn't possibly be...no, I won't let myself hope!

It was Ben. He was home. Standing sweetly in the doorway he held out a bouquet of flowers for me while grinning like a fool in love. And that was when he got to see his weeping bride scream at him for the first time, all because he took so #$%*$ long at the grocery store, meticulously picking out the most perfect flowers he could find for the love of his life.


__________________________________________________________________



Epilogue: For those of you wondering, we got past this issue by having a tracking chip implanted under Ben's skin and allotting him scheduled stops for flowers twice a month. No more worrying now!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Writing: July Update

Dear Blog,

I miss you. I am currently writing from Camp Nanowrimo which should explain my absence. The Offices of Letters and Light, in their extreme wisdom and awesomeness, decided to host not one, but two Nanowrimo sessions in the summer! I definitely wanted to take advantage of this opportunity since this is really my last chance to finish my novel before baby #3 (Adelaide) is born.

I have at least two illustrated blog entries that have been started -- and they're hilarious, I might add -- but due to the strenuous (okay, okay, leisurely) writing I've been doing since July started they have been put on hold. Hopefully once I get back from camp we can still be friends?

xoxoxo,
Nia

PS - 1,902 words and counting. Not a lot, I know, but I'm doing my best! I'm counting on the fact that I always build momentum later in the month. *crosses fingers*

PPS - I <3 s'mores

Monday, June 20, 2011

Time Warp: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Punches

When Ben and I were newlyweds...well, no, let me clarify. We've only been married four (and a half) years at this point so I think we'd still qualify for The Newlyweds Game show. When Ben and I had only been married a year or so we lived in a small-ish apartment in Annapolis. Often times we would take our showers together. I'm sure that sounds scandalous to some but really it was just that when we were home together we didn't (usually) want to spend any of our time physically away from the other person, even if we had to work on separate tasks. Even when we weren't actually showering together, if one of us was showering, the other person would usually find something to do in the bathroom so that we could still spend time together.

In this particular instance Ben was showering and I was doing some inane activity like tweezing my eyebrows or painting my toenails. We were teasing each other and flirting. Ben would send sprays of water over the curtain to get me wet. I would sneak a hand in and grab his ankle while his eyes were closed. Then, I don't remember the exact words, but one of us made an insult at the other and it was returned in kind. I decided to take the opportunity to punch in the shower curtain (which was opaque black by the way, neither of us could even remotely see the other) to startle Ben, or at the very least, spray him with the cold water droplets that collect on the shower curtain. Unbeknownst to me, Ben had decided to punch out the shower curtain at the exact same time! More than that, somehow, in the ten square feet of shower curtain that either of us could have punched, we both punched in the exact same spot!

So there we were, laughing our heads off, both of us with sore knuckles. What were the odds? We still think about that moment and chuckle. We still take all our showers together too. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Doodle: New Words

One of the best parts of having a pre-schooler is how exciting they think it is to learn the most mundane things. For instance: the other day, I decided to teach Liam the different kinds of shoes he likes to wear.








Things went really well! We practiced and practiced and Liam got even better at pronouncing them correctly. I was so excited for Ben to get home so we could show off what Liam had learned.






So yeah. Somehow our carefully practiced articulation went out the window as soon as daddy came home. And you know how kids are once they learn something new...


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing: June Update

Dear Blog,
I am a fail monster. I have written zero words and logged zero hours in even blogging! Partly due to computer issues but mostly due to I-don't-feel-like-it-ness. I mean, sure I'm pregnant. And yes, I'm potty training Liam. And okay, I've been busy. But still. You mean more to me than this, Blog, I promise!

Well I must depart. Screaming from upstairs informs me that Liam is displeased with something even though he should be asleep at this moment.

Until next time!
xoxoxox

Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing: May Update

I think I ought to make a habit of updating monthly on how my writing is going as yet another way to keep me accountable. As you may have noticed, I did not do a lot of blogging in April. Okay, okay I didn't do ANY blogging in April.

Initially I was taking a break from blogging because, much as I enjoy it, I really needed to focus on writing THE novel. I had a good week or so of doing actual work, then I got swept up in the busyness of what some have called "real" life.

Then my wonderful husband gave me a birthday gift in the form of a 10 day vacation to my parents' place. My parents took care of the kids and I got to gallivant about town with my friends like I was a well-funded adolescent! It was superb. I even got a full-blown, no-holds-barred pedicure from a day spa. What luxury!

Anyway, despite how crazy life has gotten, I committed myself to starting to write on either my novel or my blog this week. To be honest, I tried to "commit" myself last week, but I ended up having to do laundry and wash dishes because we could no longer walk around naked, eating with our hands, because we had company over. But behold! Here I am writing on my blog! Success!

That said, I do have a hilarious story or two up my sleeve that would make great illustrated blog entries (about the kids of course). Not sure whether I'll work on that or on my novel but I surely have a lot of words dying to get out of me. One way or another I'll have to let them out!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Doodle: Fear is Healthy

Most people's kids are afraid of the vacuum. Somehow, the parents of these kids think this is a bad thing. They (the parents) are very careful to warn their kids about what they're going to do (clean the house, like good parents) and/or hide their kids and pretend vacuuming doesn't exist and is not, in fact, a healthy habit.

I'm here to tell you, kids who are afraid of the vacuum are a blessing. It is very difficult to successfully clean your carpets (without injuring anyone) like this:



How I ended up with TWO kids who adore the vacuum, I have no idea. But I find myself similarly hiding my vacuuming habits from my kids, if for completely different reasons. That was the case until recently anyway.

Nowadays Darcie has a healthy fear of the vacuum. Why?
Well...



Now, before you call child services, just take a minute to look at the first image. My kids LOVE the vacuum. They play with it when it's out. They hug it like it's a friend. When I'm using it, they want to stick their fingers under it (I don't let them).

What led to this traumatizing experience was a slow progression of efforts to make my daughter laugh. First I put the vacuum on my hand, then on hers. Her whole face lit up. She thought it was hilarious. Then I tickled her side with the vacuum hose. Also hilarious.

Then...well, her cheeks are just so cute and chubby! Again, I showed her what would happen on me first. Then I tentatively went in for it...bad, bad mommy! Oops.

Thankfully Darcie seems to have handled the whole experience well. Instead of screaming or hiding when I use the vacuum she just quietly turns and walks away. Now if only I could get Liam to do the same... ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Doodle: Anthology of Parental Horrors

Part I: The Wrong Kind of Pride.

When Liam was about 18 months old he learned how to throw his own diapers away. This was a fantastic little trick -- the best kind of trick: a useful one. Because of this though, almost her entire life, Darcie has seen Liam running around with dirty diapers and getting praised for it. Which led to this...

Darcie fetched herself a fresh, poopy diaper from out of the trash can and pranced around with it as proof of her grown-up-ness. I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised though, this wasn't even remotely Darcie's grossest adventure with poopy diapers. Which leads us to...

Part II: Teething Toys...Sort Of

When Darcie was just a wee little infant she would occasionally have a grumpy day (shocking, I know). On one particular grumpy day Darcie woke up early from her nap and kept up a continuous stream of fussing and grunting in an attempt to garner some sympathy. She succeeded actually, because Liam couldn't stand to hear her upset. He was getting quite antsy to go talk to her, but I wouldn't let him, in hopes that Darcie would go back to sleep. When I finally gave up I told Liam he could go to her.

Much to my delight, Darcie perked up right away at her brother's company. Even better was that Liam was making a real effort to entertain her. I even heard him dropping toys into her crib from the little toy box we had nearby. Thinking that this was definitely a kodak moment, I snatched my camera and peeked around the corner to get the perfect shot. This is what I saw...

Liam handing Darcie dirty diapers from the diaper pail...not toys. Darcie seemed to appreciate the effort regardless. At least, that was the impression I got because she was contentedly chewing on the diapers. I am super glad I put the camera strap around my neck because I most definitely would have dropped the camera in horror otherwise.


(That's me being horrified)

Still, there are worse things a kid can put in their mouth. At least the diapers were covered in Darcie's own brand of yuck.

Part III: Mini Sand Box?

One afternoon, more recently than I care to think about, I took the kids out for a walk. We ended up strolling past the offices to our condo community. I was holding Darcie's hand and we were taking our time while Liam ran ahead and inspected everything. It took me a few minutes to realize that Liam hadn't come back out of the alcove to the office doors but I wasn't too worried because I remembered there was a mail slot and name plaque that he was probably playing with. If I'd realized what he WAS playing with I definitely wouldn't have taken my time in catching up.

Yep. Liam was collecting used cigarette butts. In his mouth.
Don't let this discourage you from having kids though. Odds are your kids, like mine, will love taking baths...

Part IV: Who Needs Soap?


Yep. That's my kids bathing themselves in toilet water. Darcie is even rubbing it thoroughly into her hair. This is the sight that greeted me AFTER picking the lock to the bathroom door that I was not previously aware had a lock.

I figure my kids' blood will end up containing the cure for AIDS or cancer or something. Some type of hepatitis at the very least.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Doodle: Morning Smiles

These smiling faces have been greeting me and Ben in the mornings...


...




...
Oh, Liam.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Time Warp: Retired Ninja

Without question, one of the greatest theme parks in existence is Six Flags over Georgia. I feel this park gets overlooked because it belongs to the Six Flags franchise, and so does not have much to distinguish it from all the other Six Flags', unlike Cedar Point or Disney World which bring their own distinctive images to mind.

I still remember my first visit to SFoG, it was my first theme park ever (and I have since grown to love parks), and my mom took my brother Keith and I for a home school themed day at the park. I was wary of riding roller coasters at that point, so I had to work up to it. First we rode on a small attraction that spun around while you sat in a carriage -- like a horizontal ferris wheel. After we were done with that, I felt I had worked up my nerve enough to try a "real" roller coaster. Luckily, there was a coaster Keith wanted to try that was immediately nearby. It was called The Ninja. It changed my life.

Though I can't say I enjoyed that first ride per-se (I found the flips to be too much to handle) it did open my eyes to the possibilities of enjoyment. Since I didn't like the flips, I only stuck to rides with drops, like The Great American Scream Machine, The Mind Bender (later to become The Riddler), and what soon became my favorite: The Georgia Cyclone. I rode that one twice.

The day at the park was phenomenal. We got to stay until 10pm. The evening air was quite chilly and none of us thought to bring jackets, so my mom bought us all matching white hoodies with Six Flags emblems -- an extremely rare splurge at the time. We also split a funnel cake. It was disgusting and I loved it.

I went back to SFoG a few times over the years, mostly traveling with my youth group to Atlanta Fest (which was so epic, every single year), but when the park really came back into my life, like a long missed friend, was on the eve of my 21st birthday.

My husband Ben and I had moved to Atlanta for a job back in '06, where he worked for a few months, and then was promptly laid off because the company couldn't support all the employees they'd hired. Though we were dirt poor, Ben scrimped and saved and got us both season passes to Six Flags, and we went on the opening weekend of the seaon, which happened to be the weekend of my birthday. While we were there we tried out the new ride (The Goliath -- my new all time favorite), and then set about riding all our old favorites. I got in a ride at the Cyclone and the Scream Machine. As we were walking past The Ninja I told Ben about how it had been my first roller coaster. Turns out it was his first roller coaster too! So we got in the non-existent line and decided to ride it for old-times' sake.

The Ninja has never been a smooth ride. Even when I first rode it, back in '93, it was known to knock your head around into it's not-so-soft, over-the-shoulder plastic harness. It was even worse than I imagined. I guess that was to be expected, considering how old it was, but it was pretty bad to begin with. Less than halfway through the ride I realized I'd made a big mistake. Not because of the loops (I like those now) but because I knew I was in for a headache afterwards. I don't really recall the ending sequence of the ride, but I do know that the car jerks about in some way that caused me to lose my vision for a few seconds. It was like a gift straight from Heaven.

I know that is a confusing conclusion to come to but I'll tell you why I was grateful for the Coaster Ride from Hell. For those who don't know me, I want to give you a brief recap of an important event that happened my senior year of high school. I got a dark spot in my vision one day and slowly, over the course of a couple weeks, I noticed it got bigger. My mom had us all scheduled for routine eye exams so she told me just to mention it to the optometrist when I was there.

Unbeknownst to any of us, the ever growing dead spot in my vision would cause a whirlwind of increasingly dire predictions from increasingly educated doctors. The final theory, and the scariest, was that I had a tumor on the back of my eye that had caused some bleeding. I was told not to lay horizontally for an indefinite period of time -- not even to sleep -- so that the blood would drain more quickly so they could see underneath it. And I obeyed that command for months. It was agonizing and I never felt fully rested, and had stopped feeling fully human even.

Finally, one day, I was sitting in church and I had just completely given up. I prayed (not for the first time, but probably with more abandon than ever before) for God to clear the blood out of my eye so we could finally figure out what was wrong. Instantly, my vision cleared. I know that sounds so churchy-cliche, but if ever there was a miracle in my life that I feel the need to share, that is it.

Well, we packed our bags and headed to see the oncologists in Philadelphia (where they resided and worked). They found, much to the relief and utter joy of everyone, that I did not have a tumor, just a clot of scar tissue resting right on top of my eye. They had no idea how it got there, or why my eye had bled so much, when I had not been in any car accidents or been beaten by a jealous ex-lover or anything. Though I was glad it wasn't cancer I was always left with a bitter taste in my mouth. It seemed the mystery would never be solved. What had happened to my eye?

Cut to my LAST ride on The Ninja, when my vision has just cut out. Suddenly I'm recalling details of that summer when the eye problems started that I would never have pieced together otherwise. I had come to SFoG for Atlanta Fest. My friends and I had rode The Ninja. Due to my "monthly visitor," I was taking large doses of ibuprofen (which at the time, and for many months afterwards, I did not know was a blood thinner). The mystery was finally solved. It was the violence of the roller coaster that had caused the trauma. This was a theory the doctors once had, but had dismissed it because they didn't know why I had bled so much, because I had told them I hadn't taken any aspirin products -- again, not knowing ibuprofen counted.

So there you have it. Now, don't let this stop you from riding roller coasters. They are wonderful and I always look forward to riding them, especially at Six Flags over Georgia. Just don't ever ride The Ninja. I certainly never will again. But there's no stopping me from riding The Goliath. :D

Friday, February 4, 2011

Marriage: The Best Things In Life

Do you and your spouse have a date night? I highly recommend it. Most of the time though, mine and Ben's date nights are usually nights in, spent with take-out and movies from Redbox. I mean, the costs of going out on a "real" date nowadays are just astronomical. It used to be that we could go somewhere and split a meal and make goo-goo eyes at each other and easily only spend $20 total.

Now though, we not only have the cost of our date activities, we have the cost of a babysitter, which is sure to at least double the price of our date. Then there are also scheduling problems so that by the time you actually get a babysitter, and have gone on enough "dates" to Target that you can afford a babysitter, that by the time you get to go one a real date, by golly you don't want to split a meal! You've earned your !#@#$% entree! Heck, you've earned an appetizer too! Why shouldn't you get the fancy flavored lemonade instead of water? So when it's all said and done, a "real" date costs so much that you can only afford to do it once in a blue moon.

Well folks, tonight there is a Blue Moon. I am half-prettied-up. Getting ready to "put my face on" and go drop the kids off. Do you know how this night was possible? Because our church youth group had the best idea for a fundraiser I have ever heard of. They are sponsoring a Parents' Night Out! So you can drop your kiddos off from 5:30-9:30 and the youth group + the certified nursery staff will watch your kids for a donation to their missions trip. GENIUS!

Now, not only do I get babysitting that isn't $10 an hour, but I feel like I'm genuinely helping others by having them watch my kids. It is win, win, win, win, WIN!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Doodle: Sit. Stay.

When Darcie was about 5 months, she learned how to sit up on her own. She must have been aware that this was a little above average because she was very, very proud of herself


She was so thrilled with this new skill that she sat up any time you laid her on the ground.



No one realized the potential evils of such a skill. We all praised Darcie and cheered her on. When it was time for bed, she wouldn't even stay down to sleep, she was too excited about being able to sit up.




Of course, that night, we became aware of a problem. Though Darcie had learned to sit herself up, she had not learned to lay herself back down. She didn't cry though, she just did this...


Yep. Darcie just let gravity do its business and went to sleep face down, completely folded in half. After we overcame our horror (and I'll admit, we giggled a few times) we repositioned her so that she could be more comfortable. Unfortunately there was no stopping Darcie. She continued to do this night after night until eventually that became her favorite sleeping position, even after she finally learned to lay back down. God really knew what he was doing when he made babies flexible :D

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mom-ing: Bathtime, whether I like it or not.

Today I was planning to give my kids a bath. I generally plan to give my kids a bath every couple days, but then I enjoy not giving them one and saying "well, tomorrow works just as well." Today has been fairly legitimately busy, and it was starting to look like we would run out of time for bathing the two munchkins, but then something happened that forced my hand.

It all started when I put the kids upstairs for playtime. Normally they spend a couple hours in the afternoon playing in a room full of toys and chasing each other up and down the hallway to their bedroom. I can keep an ear on them pretty well because the upstairs is loft-style so it practically opens into the first floor living room. Occasionally the kids get reprimanded for sneaking into their bedroom closet and making a mess of their laundry, but usually they're very good.

Today, however, they were not good. Very, very not good. I heard a "clunk" that sounded exactly like a toilet lid closing. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I was furious! They have only ever been caught playing in the (close-doored) bathroom once before and I know I made it perfectly clear to Mr. Door Opener (Liam) that that was not acceptable. So I went stomping up the stairs, working up my righteous anger, only to discover that the kids are not only in the bathroom, they've locked themselves in!

Well that knocked the anger right out of me, if only to be replaced immediately by panic. There was no space between the door and the ground for me to try to communicate with the kids. My only hope was to lure Liam out with a calm sounding voice and hope that he would figure out how to unlock the door. Thankfully, he did. Which is just as well, because I was about to have a panic attack. Darcie was screaming her head off the whole time like she had been injured and I was unable to get to her. Well the door creaks open and my first thought is "wow, it's surprisingly humid in the bathroom!" And then I see the water on the floor. And then the water all over my kids. And then the lumps of wet toilet paper everywhere. And most especially, I see the back of the toilet tank has been opened and is half empty of water.

Well, needless to say, my kids got a bath today. It's amazing what toilet water can do to rearrange your priorities.