Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Warming up to summer

Despite being uncomfortably pregnant, this summer has actually been the best I can remember in the last several years.  Unlike almost everyone I know, I'm not really a huge summer person; a) because I don't enjoy feeling like I'm living in an oven every day for 3 months, b) because Irish girls like me might actually become cooked much like something you would put in the oven, and c) take the 'Irish' skin and add the curly hair in 90% humidity and... well, it's just not pretty.

There was a time when I dreamed that maybe-- just maybe-- by the last day of the summer, I would have some mild version of that beautiful tan glow that all of my friends seemed to have by some time around June 15... but then I realized that I could only lay on a towel in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes before I would plunge full speed into the ocean/pool for relief.   That's when I threw in the towel and started lathering on the SPF 50, sitting under umbrellas, and calling myself "fair-skinned" instead of "pale" (like it might become some kind of sought-after fashion trend).

So I have to say: THANK YOU GOD for keeping the 100 + degree heat index days to a bare minimum this year.  I vividly remember locking myself in my house almost every day last summer, promptly by noon and not coming back out until after 8pm (if at all).  This morning, I went for a walk at 9am in yoga pants and a light long sleeved shirt.  It was glorious, and I hear that the rest of this week will be just like today.  I seriously can't stop smiling.  I'm actually writing this blog post on my back porch sipping on a glass of homemade lemonade (and by homemade, I mean one of those all-natural ones that doesn't have a lot of sugar in it, so it feels kind of like I made it myself... maybe).

I would also like to give God a shout-out for the relatively low incident rate of bodily harm/ assaults by mosquitos.  If you could possibly take care of the gnats while you're at it, I would love you even more, but I'm not going to get greedy.

Finally, the most crucial contributor to my summer of happiness:  let's talk about this age...  Oh, this age.  It has been like the light at the end of the tunnel.  As much as Brendan drives me crazy with his struggle for independence these days, this summer with Niall and Brendan has been SO MUCH FUN.

I hardly know what to do with myself now that I can plop down in a chair and just watch them play.  Last summer, Brendan was 1 1/2, so he was walking but in a super NOT FUN kind of way.  The kind of walking where the kid can only get himself into trouble and the mom just wants to strap the kid into a stroller while the older one plays, but the kid is too smart for those kinds of tricks at that stage, and so you end up crawling through playground tunnels that are wayyy too small for you, just to make sure your little guy doesn't skydive off the platform on the other side.

I was helicopter-ing him everywhere he went and never had a second to relax or even remotely pay attention when other moms would try to talk to me.  In fact, every time we got in the car to go to a pool or park or other outdoor excursion where the kids couldn't be contained in one area, I did a quick mental assessment of how miserable the excursion we were about to attend would be (for me) and then force myself to snap out of it and go anyway.

This summer has been like heaven compared to that.  Brendan and Niall not only play together, but I can somewhat trust that Brendan is going to be ok as long as I keep an eye on him (from a comfortable sitting distance).  It also helps that nothing makes a better summer combo than boys and dads...

Ice cream, crabs, water slides and turtle discoveries come in at a close second ;)

Ok, maybe I'm changing my mind about summer... I guess it is kind of awesome :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rules Are Rules

I am a big time rule-follower; always have been, always will be.  I am the girl who tries to sign in under a friend's name at the pool and my face turns so bright red that I can't meet eyes with the people at the front desk.  These days, I will take a bite of an Italian sub, chew it up just to enjoy that one second of flavor, and then spit it out because I am told that you are not allowed to eat lunchmeat when pregnant.  I am also far more intimidated by my kid's pre-school teacher than I'm sure any of those 4-year-olds are.  The point is: I just don't feel comfortable messing with the rule book, regardless of who makes those rules.

So I would really appreciate it if, each time I get pregnant with another kid, the mysterious "THEY" could stop adding 15 new regulations and guidelines to make my life so thoroughly miserable for 9 solid months.

What's this about how I'm not allowed to sleep on my right side this go-around??  It was hard enough for me to adjust to not sleeping on my back with the first two; now I'm not even allowed to roll over?  I'm not sure if it's just the fact that I have been told I can't, or if I am really this tortured by the way I wake up 4 times a night with the urge to flop onto my other side and suddenly remember that I am undoubtedly going to rupture some crucial artery by doing that.

My better judgement keeps telling me that the thousands of generations of women in the past did just fine without the right side artery crushing sleep rule, but I am not one to test those waters-- after all, rules are rules.

And now that I'm at a point in my pregnancy where I can't comfortably bend over or squat for more than 5 seconds, they have conveniently decided to come out with a study on the dangers of kids' spray-on sunscreen.  Of course they did!  Why would I be able to apply sunscreen in an easy, no-fuss- kind-of-way that kept my varicose veins from bursting out of my legs?  That would be absurd.

The drop side crib I used just 2 years ago?  It's in the trash.  Not allowed.

Bug spray?  Don't you preggo ladies dare.  You can sit inside or be eaten by the West Nile spreading monsters of the back porch.

Oh, and apparently, even after what I thought was some pretty thorough research on which fish I needed to stay away from (swordfish, shark, tuna only allowed in moderation), I just found out that I shouldn't have eaten those crabs over the weekend or the shrimp I've been serving for dinner just about every other week for the last six months.

And I certainly hope you don't get a sore throat.  Because after I popped about 6 of those Ricola herbal throat drops, I found out that they will most certainly cause me to miscarry.  Thankfully, that was about 4 months ago, so I must have been one of the lucky ones.  

Is there a certain point where I am allowed to say "no" to all of the so-called expert advice?  Where I get to say "If I can't have a beer at a BBQ, I'm going to savor every last sip of an ice-cold coke and not feel guilty about it."

Well, if there is, who am I kidding?  I'm too much of a worry wart to torture myself wondering what terrible fate awaits every time I defy the pregnancy commandments.  So I will stick it out and play it safe for these last 3 months-- but someone had better bring me a knock-your-socks-off cold cut and a thoroughly chilled Blue Moon right up to my hospital bed on this little guy's birthday ;)

Monday, July 7, 2014

No, I'm not a soccer mom... (but my kids do play soccer)

If you had asked me 10 years ago, I never would have dreamed that this day would come.  In fact, I would have bet my life that it wouldn't.  But the first kid came along, and along with that tiny little 7 pound bundle of love came strollers and backpack carriers and giant car seats and diaper bags the size of a week's worth of luggage... then, the second kid multiplied that cargo... and now a third will triple it.  You probably know where I'm going with this.  Yep, last weekend, we decided it was time:

Needless to say, there are a lot of emotional hurdles to conquer on the day you trade in your sporty mid-size SUV for the keys to a minivan.

  • First of all, you need to accept that any shred of coolness you had left in you is now gone forever.  I imagine that I lost that last shred a few years back, but at least I didn't have to announce it to the whole world.
  • Second, you have to tell yourself that you are different from the other soccer moms in this world, because you are still a regular person-- you just needed a little bit more space (like the other moms didn't get a van for that exact same reason) .
  • Third, you have to mentally prepare your talking points of the many cool new technological features that minivans come with these days for when your friends without kids start making fun of you.  

Obviously, I am going to do that right here and now... because honestly, this van is SO AWESOME!!! (I'm actually not joking... at all)

We walked into the Chevy dealership on 4th of July with full intentions of getting a Traverse (it's like the car I had but with a third back row).  But when we found out that the particular model we wanted had sold the day before, we both agreed that we should at least look at the Honda Odyssey at the dealership next door.  And when we did, it was no competition.  I don't care what anyone says-- the Odyssey is the nicest car I have ever been inside of (Note: I have never been inside of a really nice/ expensive car before.  Other note: Yes, we did feel really guilty for being so un-American by purchasing a Japanese car on our great nation's birthday.)

Aside from the fact that there are approximately 14 cup holders, a "cool box" to keep drinks cold, and a "conversation mirror" (AKA "make sure your kids aren't killing each other" mirror)... aside from all the hands free everything, blind spot cameras for turning, and aside from the fact that the arm rests adjust to different levels for short people (my personal favorite)... let's be real here:  the back of this van could host a better shindig than my current living room.  Even when we put the third back seat in, this thing is like a party bus!

So, yes, maybe I've hit 30 and lost every shred of my dignity with it-- but I'm completely willing to take that fall in exchange for the sanity that this new set of wheels has brought me.   It's truly the little things that make me happy these days, and this could truly be my biggest thrill of 2014 (oh right, aside from the baby that is on his way).  Maybe I'm a little more excited than a normal person should be about riding through town in a glorified school bus; but hey, come talk to me when you are shoving grocery bags on your kids' laps because your double stroller takes up the entire trunk of your cool, sporty looking mini SUV.  It will be me who gets the last laugh then ;)

Long live the minivan (and the soccer mom)!