From Humor

Miracle of prenancy with text

The “Miracle” of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy may be a miracle, but it sure isn’t dignified!

Warning: This post contains proper names of body parts, frank discussion of bodily functions, and details about things that happen when you’re pregnant. If this sort of thing offends you, don’t read this (or get pregnant for that matter).

Miracle of prenancy with text

 

 

At 7 months into my second pregnancy (I have a 5 year old son), I’ve learned 2 things. 1) When you get pregnant, take your dignity, put it in a box, and place that box on a shelf in your closet. You won’t be needing it for a while. 2) I will have a least one humiliating episode per pregnancy.

Embarrassing Story – First Pregnancy

All of my initial ultrasounds had been internal ultrasounds (this means a phallic shaped object is encased in a condom like sheath, lubed, and placed inside your vagina to better visualize your internal organs). This was the first time my husband had come to an ultrasound with me. After we were let into the exam room, before the tech arrived, I started to take off my pants and underwear. My husband looked at me, and asked what I was doing. Silly man. With a been-there, done-that tone of vast experience, I let him know that I had to take my pants and underwear off for them to do the ultrasound.

A few moments later, the tech came in then stopped, staring at me. “Um. You know, you don’t, uh, need to actually take your pants off for an, um, ultrasound. I’ll just, uh, yeah, I’ll be right back. When you have your pants on.” Needless to say, that totally busted my: “I’m the woman, so I know way more about this” credibility for at least a month.

Embarrassing Story – Second Pregnancy

Since it was determined that I had preeclampsia at the end of my first pregnancy, my specialist OB wanted a 24 hour urine sample for a baseline protein count. When my OB was walking me through the process, she explained that I needed to collect all my urine, during a 24 hour period, and return it in the provided jug. (Ewwwww!) She noted that after the visit, I should walk over to the lab next door and pick up the “jug and hat.” I thought to myself, “I must have heard wrong. Surely she said ‘cap’ not ‘hat’.”

I go over to the lab. The very kind gentleman tech searches, finds the jug, but notes that they are out of the “hats.” I couldn’t help but note, “You actually said ‘hat’ didn’t you?”

The poor, puzzled tech responded, “Yes, you use the hat to collect the urine.” (The “Duh” was unspoken.)

Still trying to understand the terminology, I ask, “You mean a receptacle?” “Sure, if you’d rather call it a receptacle.”

I don’t know why, but I feel the need to explain, “It’s just that it’s right before Halloween. When you say ‘hat,’ I get these images of a little, pointy, witch’s hat.”

The tech goes still, with a forced blank expression, “I don’t know how to respond to that. I’m not going to say a thing. Nope. There’s just no good response to that.” Realizing that my response could be interpreted in a more risque manner than intended, I try to diffuse the situation with, “I admire your restraint. I started that, I apologize.”

He was still a little stuck, “You can say those sorts of things. I cannot say those sorts of things.” At this point, I just want to get out of there, especially as there are now other people observing this interaction. Finally, the tech gives up, gives me the collection jug, and tells me to go back to my OB’s office to see if they have any ‘hats.’

Continuing the never ending search for this mysterious hat-thing, I approach the OB’s receptionist and say, “The lab is out of hats for my urine sample collection. He said you might have some.” At the receptionist’s blank look, I realize that I have now become one of these strange people who casually talk about using hats to collect urine. After a few moments, she gets up and goes to find one of the nurses.

She returns with the nurse, grumbling about how they lab is supposed to have these, not them (finally, someone using language that make sense!) and carrying:

Urine collection hat
The hat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHA!

Bonus: When I got home, I just dumped everything (paperwork, glucose bottle, unused jug, unused hat) on the counter. When my husband came home, I hear, “What is this hat-thing, and why is it on my counter?!” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. I exclaimed, “You called it a hat! I have a funny story for you!”

Random Pregnancy Thoughts

1st Pregnancy

  • Oh my, this nausea is unpleasant; however, as long as eat 2 of each meal, I seem to be doing okay.
  • I love this! I’ve never slept better or felt more rested!
  • This is so cool – my food cravings are so healthy!
  • My mood is so stable and pleasant – and I was so worried about mood swings!
  • My boobs are getting even bigger?! How is this physiologically possible? How much do they weigh? (For the inappropriately curious, 1.5 lbs each.)
  • Okay, I’m slightly uncomfortable.
  • (Direct quote from 12 hours before my water broke at 36 weeks) “I’m finally ready to say that I’m more ready for pregnancy to be over than afraid of childbirth.”
  • (Upon water breaking) Where the heck is my pregnancy book? What do you pack in a hospital bag? Where in this book will it tell me what to pack to go to the hospital?! (Spoiler Alert – nowhere)
  • (In labor at the hospital) No one ever told me that it could be “too early” for an epidural.

2nd Pregnancy

  • This kinda sucks.
  • How can it be evolutionary beneficial to be repulsed by food, water, and other liquids when you’re trying to grow a human?
  • I want to go back in time and punch my prior pregnant self in the face.
  • Why am I crying?
  • I hate everyone.
  • My husband must really love me.
  • My back and butt really hurt.
  • Why can’t I sleep? It can’t be good to not sleep more than 2 hours a night. (Upon consultation with my OB, “Well, yes, that happens sometimes.”)
  • (While the baby is frustrating the heck out of the ultrasound tech with non-stop motion) Heh. At least I’m not the only one she’s giving a hard time to!
  • My husband brought me chocolate cake for no reason. I love him so much, I have to cry.
  • My back hurts so badly, I can only lay in bed and cry. (Upon consultation with my OB, “Sorry, it’s like that sometime. Take some acetaminophen.”)
  • Oh, yay. Now I’m peeing on myself every time I cough. And my human petri dish (my 5 year old) keeps giving me colds. I thought I wasn’t supposed to be doing this much laundry until after the baby is born!
  • Hello my little pugilist. You better be very cute, or at least extremely mild mannered, because you’re an awful lot of work.
  • What fresh hell is this?! (Dizziness so bad that I the room is spinning while I’m lying down and barely make it to the toilet for the vomiting.)(According to the OB, this can happen sometimes. Call them back if it persists.)
  • Seriously, I’m still crying.
  • So that’s what the inside of my belly button looks like. I really wasn’t missing anything, was I?
  • Actual Google search: “Can a fetus kick the mother in the urethra?”
  • My husband better love me if I’m going through this!
  • Did I ride a bike for 12 hours yesterday and forget about it? Why am I saddle-sore?
  • My husband just licked his popsicle too noisily. He. Must. Go.
  • Why does it feel like I’m being stabbed in the pelvis and vagina when I walk, stand, or shift positions? (Upon consultation with my OB, “Well, yes, that happens sometimes.”)
  • Seriously, bladder, is that what you were making all that fuss about? That’s all that’s in there?!
  • Is it possible to become dehydrated from crying?

Anything Can Be a Pregnancy Symptom

  • As noted from above – debilitating back pain, severe nausea and dizziness leading to vomiting, stabbing groin and vaginal pain, severe insomnia
  • Stories from friends: craving non-food, increased energy, decreased energy, increased appetite, decreased appetite, euphoria, depression, skin/hair changing color and/or texture, visual changes (including astigmatism permanently changing from one eye to another), skin tags, hair growth in strange and unusual places, hyper-sexuality, sexual monasticism, bloody swollen gums, bloody noses, discharge, crusty nipples, “interesting” new smells, onset of new and life-threatening food allergies, pelvic separation due to over-lax ligaments, the list is truly endless!
  • I strenuously assert that my arm could fall off, and when I told my OB about it, she would simply respond, “Well, yes, that happens sometimes.”

Ways to Win Arguments

Yes, fine, I get it. No one wants to hear anyone complain all the time. I even get sick of myself. However, sometimes, when you’re pregnant and feeling rotten, other people just need to suck it up and let you win.  I find these techniques to be especially effective with my husband.

  • The always classic, “I’m growing a human inside my body that is either going to be squeezed out of my vagina or removed by my being cut upon on an operating table.”
  • When faced with why you’re uncomfortable or having weird torso sensations, show them this web page (totally SFW).
  • Yelling, “My vagina hurts!” Especially while spreading your legs open and wildly gesticulating at the area in question. (In my experience, this strategy has the added benefit of ending the argument by making my husband crack up.)

What about you?

Please tell me I’m not the only one out there! Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories to share about attempting conception, being pregnant, being a parent? Please share! I’ve got 3(?) more months to go and need to feel the love (or laughter)!

Other people telling it like it is with humor:

  • I think I’ve linked to this before, but Beth Woolsey is my hero as far as “putting it out there.”
  • For the male perspective, you can’t beat How to Be a Dad
  • A book that was recently recommended to me, Pregnancy Sucks (Evidently there’s a whole “Sucks” series)
Star Wars Blog

10 Parenting Lessons Learned From Star Wars

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So, not long ago, in a galaxy all too familiar, there was a rainy day, and restless siblings at odds with each other. A decision was made to join the rebel alliance, and begin the Star Wars experience.

Star Wars Blog

Since then, There have been moments of great despair, a night of confusion when the kids find out the relationship of Darth Vader and Luke (I’ll never forget the looks I got that night, as if all father’s were now suspect), there were times for parents to cringe (J.J. Binks), and times to rejoice for all.

But what we didn’t expect were the major parenting wins.   Important themes and life lessons frequently met with eye rolls when coming from the mouths of my wife or myself, but suddenly appreciated and heard thanks to new friends in a galaxy far, far away.

  1. Use The Force.
    Perhaps long ago, midi-chlorians were necessary to access the all-encompassing Force. Thankfully today, we have the knowledge of, and power to use Conflict Resolution. We all have the ability to solve problems, calmly with Jedi-like zen – and not let fear rule our lives and decision making ability. And we know “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
  2. Choices made in anger are usually not our best choices.
    How many times did I use my Yoda voice in my head when my middle child revolted putting shoes on, instead slinging them to the other side of the room. “Mmmm… much anger I sense in you. Anger is the path to the dark side.”

This actually helps me from becoming angry and to use the FORCE to solve problems. And that’s just for my benefit. Hopefully my daughter will eventually learn that it’s much harder to build up your block tower when you’re angrily throwing blocks at the tower. This also leads to…

  1. Problems are best solved when we are calm.
    Young Padawan learner, “You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

So in other words, when you’re brother takes your toy, and runs away, find a way to make peace, not scream, cry and chase with harmful intent.

  1. Conflicts are going to happen.
    I love the squabbles of C3PO and R2D2. They are connected to eachother through all the movies, but they also drive their hard drive’s batty sometimes.

Much like the relationships of … well anybody in the household. We love each other, we are dedicated to each other. And we will drive each other crazy.
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  1. Size doesn’t always matter.
    From birth, our oldest daughter has been in the bottom of the percentiles for weight and height. She’s petite and likely always will be. But she has this longstanding dream of being “the biggest kid”. Friendships have been cast aside because a friend (truthfully) told her that she was the shorter child.   So when our kids got to watch Yoda do battle with Count Dooku, my wife didn’t hesitate to point out that Yoda was physically smaller than his nemesis. Yet, not only did he hold his own, he clearly is a great warrior with a smaller stature. Therefore, it’s ok to be smaller because:
  1. Hard work and perseverance are the way to achieve your goals.
    You may be angry, you may be sad, you may be scared, or you want to give up. Your ship may be deep at the bottom on a swamp in the Degobah system. But if you stick with your work, with your training, you can be a magnatile jedi, or a math jedi. Learn from your failures, and continue to push forward.
  1. Even when things seem darkest, there is always reason to hope.
    Maybe this one is more for us as parents. Even when your kids didn’t nap, and have been fighting for an hour, and at your heels with every move you make, you know that bedtime is coming. “Mmmm… sleep they will.” I say to my wife, “I am not afraid!” and she responds back: “You will be, you will be.”
  1. “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”
    You see it with Jengo Fett/Boba Fett, the climax with Darth Vader saving Luke from the Emperor, and even when Shmi Skywalker lets her only son go with the Jedi, there’s a feeling that these movies are a lot about relationships between parents and their kids. Our kids think a lot differently than we do – and that is an amazing thing that we should all appreciate.
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  1. Silly Jedi, Mind Tricks are for all of us.
    Obi Wan might consider this an abuse of power, but my wife and I were pleasantly surprised how we can use The Force to our advantage over our kids. “You do not want to stay awake, you want to go right to sleep.” OK, that worked 0 times.
    How about when we pass the $1 bin at Target, you just wave your hand and say: “These are not the toys you are looking for.”
    What Jedi Mind Tricks do you think your kids may be playing on you?
  1. Love wins. Always.
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What do you do on date nights?

Date Night: 99 Problems But Bedtime Ain’t One

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Date night – September 2015.

We get this one night, this one chance for glory. Tonight, there is no bedtime. Tonight, there we will be hearing no request for an extra book, a last drink of water. Tonight, we ride.

date night blog

6:00 – We feed the kids corn dogs, (thank you Trader Joe’s). The quandary begins. I so rarely think about what I am wearing. For work, I dress in the pitch black. Tonight, I have to pick a shirt, a special shirt. This shirt needs to be more than just clean, it needs to make my partner hungry for my time and attention.  “Yeah … but this T-shirt – now that would be much more comfortable than anything with buttons … Hmmm.”

6:30 – The kids are running around after dinner, throwing around their energy like Donald Trump throws around successful business ventures. I can taste it now – food that someone else has cooked for me- no dishes. A beer – with dinner, no less – unthinkable on any other weeknight. Man, I can’t wait – THE FREEDOM. What beer will I order? Something exotic maybe. Something shipped from the shores of Belgium, delivered specifically for me.

6:45 – A kid fight breaks out over a rubber duck.
What will we talk about? Grown up stuff. Sophisticated fair. The upcoming election? Alissa is the only person I like to discuss politics with. Hmmm .. maybe music. Or just something random. Maybe we’ll be eccentric: we’ll walk in, order some fancy beers, dressed in our clothes that we never really wear (out of fear of spills) … eccentric people need hats. Wait? What? Screaming! “OK, kids, how do we solve this problem with the rubber ducks?”

7:00 – Sitter arrives. Never look back, walk directly to the car, now run, “RUN!” Minds are changed all the time.

7:10 – Why have we not yet put on any of our old hip music and seranaded each other? Why have we not said a word? It’s silence. And what used to be scary is now BADASS. Silence. YES.

7:11 – I put on Wilco – just because that last thought made me feel a lot older than I need to feel tonight.

7:25 – We arrive – at a bar. Kids are not even allowed here. “LET’S SPLURGE – Get crazy in this mofo. FREEDOM!”

7:35 – “Someone is smoking at that table.” Grrr… “We’ll share a burger, please.”

8:00 – Our beer surplus is much better (and cheaper) at home, “let’s go home and drink a beer there, and enjoy being at home. I kinda miss our kids, don’t you?”

 

“We’ll try this again next month?”

“Yes! Next month, we make it to 10 – We can do it!”

“But, wasn’t it great to not put the kids to bed?”

 

 

This is a great bucket list for before you turn 30

My Bucket List: 30 Before 30

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This is a great bucket list for before you turn 30

This list was before two kids. This list was before I had real deal responsibilities, like making and cleaning up after 3 squares a day and making sure my oldest doesn’t torture my youngest, or something equally as fun. This was a list of my dreams and many of them easily obtainable. It was written in 2011, when I was 29. I am now 33. See list briefly, judge me on tardiness, dock me for incompletion, and meet me back at this point.

Life happens. Or shit happens, depending on whether you are a glass half-full or empty-type-of-person. We get going in the monotony of our day to day that we forget our dreams or ideas of how to make our lives more happy, challenging, and full. Isn’t that our purpose on this earth? To take care of ourselves and others, have some fun, hone some skillz, and honor and remember those we love? I think so.

I have put this out there to start a conversation.  I am interested to hear what’s on your list. I may or may not steal some ideas for my new one: 40 before 40. I *think* I have enough time.

What do you want to do before you turn 30?

30 before 30 List

  1. Join an group-intellectual, emotional, giving etc-Joined a women’s group nearly 3 years ago. Love those awesome ladies!
  2. Habitat for Humanity- helped out with the TPUMC 2015 Mission trip just this past week. Great fun.
  3. Successfully grow a garden-Summer 2015 The basil and dill is eeking along…time will tell.
  4. Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it- Tried this a few years back, was way too ambitious and failed miserably.
  5. Create a piece of art worth “professionally” framing
  6. Open a flower shop- bahahaha Yeah, no. Uh Uh. I’m doing good to do events out of my mother’s house on frequent trips to San Antonio. I can see this (maybe) way down the line once the littles are in school full time.
  7. Big Brothers Big Sisters-has evolved to Drive a Senior September 2015
  8. Cultivate a new group of friends
  9. Regularly attend yoga…I’ve realized this is just not me. I am looking forward to Kundalini Yoga in a park on our upcoming San Francisco trip. Random yoga is more my style.
  10. New York City- Christmas 2016???
  11. Landscape (design) the front and back yard
  12. Grief counselling- Since I wrote this list I’ve lost someone (again) who was very dear to me. Do we ever really work through the pain of losing someone special? I feel as though I might be numb or desensitized to death. Need help with this one.
  13. Wear a bikini (tankini?)-Realistic goal?
  14. Volunteer at the Majestic and San Pedro playhouse DID IT back in 2007. Great fun and got to see nearly an entire show for “free.” I feel I won’t go down this road again until I’m 70.
  15. Start and maintain a book a week reading schedule-need this
  16. Take a radio voice class
  17. Have a fondue party-I think my neighbor Chris could make me do this one.
  18. Attend a book binding class
  19. Attend the gym regularly- my fairly recently acquired FitBit is pushing me towards this one.
  20. Learn how to apply eye makeup correctly 2014/2015 In 2014 I discovered the genius that is YouTube. Yeah, I know, I’m a late bloomer. Also, I still suck at eye liner.
  21. Know how to use all of our electronics-this will probably be on the list at 50
  22. Maintain a small email inbox-organize- My friend Andria just helped me begin this process by showing me a nifty thing called “the swipe”  Thanks Andria!
  23. Camping at Big Bend- anyone have any tips for camping with kiddos?
  24. Befriend the elderly- Drive a senior September 2015
  25. Attend a hat making class- really
  26. Invite Chavez family for a backyard bbq-some of the best neighbors of all time. One of those families you want to adopt you or at least have you over for delicious coffee bread and a good chat. Will make this happen one day.
  27. Get rid of all unwanted furniture- DID IT August 2014 before our move from Frisco to Pflugerville Best.Feeling.Ever.
  28. Go swimming in that cave pool- see clipping in travel scrap book or click here. This is an easily obtainable goal now that “that cave pool” is just south of where we reside. Waiting for school to start and the crowds to die down before reaching this one.
  29. Marathon-for Cindy and my dad- I just ran for the first time a few weeks ago. It hurt like hell. This goal may be eons away.
  30. Walk dogs daily

Herb Garden

Extras

Sand, seal, and install gardening/bar sink- this was a giant sink unit we pulled out of our 1920’s kitchen..sat under the carport and eventually was stolen by metal pickers. Heartbreak!

Keep poop out of yard- haha

Take a glass blowing class

Take a dance class-master it!- For those that know me, take a moment to laugh.

Form a habit of completion- Says it all.

Bored? Check out these ridiculous ways to pass the time!

Summer Smorgas-Bored

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Already bored this summer? Have you run out of energy or ideas with what to do with yourself or your family in between summer camps, summer school or family trips? Introducing the summer smorgas-bored! A top 10 list of completely random things to do when you don’t want to learn a musical instrument, go to the library, go swimming again or go see local tourist attractions (because…you live there…and you hate tourists)!

So here it is. All ideas certified by me to come completely off the top of my head without any research, planning or higher purposes.

Bored? Check out these ridiculous ways to pass the time!

10) Look up a famous actor, actress or director on IMDb and watch the first major project that person was involved with, if you can find it.

IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is 19 years old. In the summer of 1996, it was an amazing discovery that my college roommate and I found and we spent hours watching movies we wouldn’t have normally known existed. We were inspired by Kevin Bacon. Who wasn’t? My roomie devoured IMDb while I got bored after 1-2 days of this and moved on. Still, if you don’t know that Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey got their first major movie break in the same movie, you should find out and watch it. It’s a classic.

9) Count the number of peanuts there are in the peanut jar.

This is arguably a boring task but it can also be incredibly versatile. If it’s just a time waster, it’s still one that doesn’t involve a screen, a thumb or a controller, so that something. If you have 5-6 year olds, you can practice counting AND safety with small objects all at the same time! If your kids are a little older, you can make it a guessing game and the closest guesser can win a prize, like ice cream – which is also an excuse for everyone to go get ice cream!

8) Make an old board game new again

Sick of playing the same game over and over again? Make up 5 rules off the top of your head. Play the game with the new rules. For bonus points, make up a completely new game with scrap paper and poster board. Need help coming up with rules? It may not work the first couple of times you try it. There are some rules that are common and necessary to all games to make sure they go smoothly (how to start a turn, end a turn, etc) If you’re not feeling creative and need a couple of examples:

  • Compliment the player to your right before every turn
  • If you roll doubles, sing a song lyric

7) Event a catchphrase and use it for a weekend: could be awesome, could annoy your kids – it’s a no-lose situation!

The good news about this one is that you don’t have to be creative to come up with a catchphrase. It doesn’t have to be contextual, It doesn’t have to make sense and it doesn’t have to be words. Random sounds can do the trick, especially if combined with high-fives. You’re kids will either adopt the catchphrase or try to disown you – either way can be highly satisfying. Triple bonus: public catchphrase + high fives to random strangers. Upload to youtube.

6) Send a text message to 5 people in your contact list that you don’t normally chat with that says “OMG, did you see the last episode of Rizzoli and Isles”?

Okay, so my Mother-In-Law is in town and I’m currently watching reruns of R&I on TNT. In fact, the only time I watch R&I is when she is visiting. It may or may not be a good show. Apparently it was the most watched show on cable television last week (shows in 2nd-4th place were 3 episodes of WWE Wrestling) so there is a shot that your shout out to your long lost contact may result in a meaningful dialogue. If not, just claim that your text was meant for someone else and move on.

5) Write down all of the things that need to be picked up around the house. Then play a scavenger hunt with your kids using the list.

This may be my favorite one, because It is equally tidy and sneaky. The optimist in me thinks that this could become a go to way to clean up the house without it feeling like such a chore. The downside of this one is that it might only work once or you may have to continually up the ante on the reward for the winner. Plus – high degree of colluding could occur if you have multiple older children who like to team up against their parents.

4) Have everyone find anything in the house they can use for a drum. Have a family drum circle.

We’ve done this several times and it is fun every time. It’s loud, obnoxious but also sweet and hilarious – depending on your family’s ability to keep rhythm or make up songs if you don’t know enough tunes together to cover. If it’s too noisy for you indoors, take it out to the deck or back-yard, then go on vacation to avoid your neighbors for awhile unless you invited them over for the drum circle. Bonus points: Front-yard in the evening — encourage passers by and neighbors to join in.

3) Make a 3-minute movie

Don’t over-think this. Go with the first ideas that pop in your head. Don’t perfect it. Actually, aim to make 3-4 movies and host a film festival in your living room! Bonus points: Submit to Sundance!

Example for movies:

  • Miniature car chase around the living room furniture
  • Dump all your trash on the ground and shoot a dystopian eco-humanitarian tear-jerker using action figures, Lego figurines or tongue depressor people.

2) Choose 5 ingredients in your kitchen that you would be willing to eat together. Have a cooking contest with the 5 ingredients.

This is less about teaching chemistry or cooking and more about finding your limits on what you will willingly consume from the concoctions that your kids (or other family or friends) make. Cooking is by its nature creative and affirming – just ask about the mixture of vanilla, chocolate syrup, milk, sugar, etc that I found sitting in my freezer from when my oldest son decided to make a frozen dessert for us one night.

1) Create a world from the moles and freckles on your belly: Connect the dots in the form of a new nation-state!

Give yourself a capital city and a benevolent dictator or problematic bicameral legislature. Draw some terrain or some industrial centers. Expand out to border nations or maybe Frecklandia is an island? Give your kids a civics lesson. Stay away from import/export discussions or ports of call. You could quite literally get into sensitive territory there.

The End, but not the Ending

Hopefully you are no longer bored and you found something in my top 10 list that was enticing or motivating. But, you see, it’s not really about the specific list. It’s about everyone’s ability to think of completely random things to do, doing them and then surprising yourselves with how much fun these random acts can be! Not everything has to be the best thing ever and most things won’t be. But if you’re looking for something memorable, think back to your childhood and try to remember the silly, spontaneous and inane things you use to do. Then, try to remember the time you tried to teach yourself the piano. Now, go enjoy yourself and your family this summer!!

Yes. You can have success with a Pinterest idea! Try this easy Ice Painting Project with your toddler!

Embrace the Mess: Ice Painting with Your Toddler

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Yes. You can have success with a Pinterest idea! Try this easy Ice Painting Project with your toddler!It’s finally summer, which means I’m compiling a “summertime bucket list.” I get really excited to pen lists chocked full of fun, family-friendly activities. The very idea of having a place to reference is inspiration enough to create one. If you are like me then you have already scoured Pinterest in search of even more ideas to add to “Summer 2015.” Reality will hijack this list somewhere between Go Camping and Bake Pretzels from Scratch, but for now let’s fulfill those big summer dreams.

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Ice painting is at the top of our list this week. Grab some food dye, water, ice cube trays, and watercolor paper. Mix your paint (put some water and many, many drops of food coloring) the day before you plan on using it. Don’t even mention this to your children. Do it in the dark of the night and then just like magic it will be ready to go in the morning. How does she do it all?? The answer is, always in the dark of the night.

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Step 1
Pop ice paint out of ice cube trays

Step 2
Sit back and watch your kiddo go to town.

Notes: Am I the only one who thinks painted kids are cute? Yes? Oh ok. Dress accordingly.

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Keep young kids entertained with Fizzy Moon Rocks. Good for ages 2 - 8.

Celebrate the Moon Landing, Fizzy Moon Rock Style!

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My 5.5-yr old brought home one of the coolest activities from school a few months ago: Erupting Moon Rocks.  Why so cool?  Keep young kids entertained with Fizzy Moon Rocks. Good for ages 2 - 8.

First, it’s about space: one of our family’s favorite subjects. (It really is.  We named our oldest after an astronaut, his room is all space-y, and – so-far – he loves space as much as his father and I do.)  Second, anything that fizzes or erupts is pretty darn cool, in my book.  When I saw it, I knew that we would have to try it out ourselves when the weather got warm.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin left this bootprint in the lunar soil at Tranquillity Base, July 20, 1969. According to the Air and Space Museum, the impression demonstrates the fineness and cohesiveness of the lunar soil.  Maybe something like baking soda??? Image Credit: NASA
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin left this bootprint in the lunar soil at Tranquillity Base, July 20, 1969. According to the Air and Space Museum, the impression demonstrates the fineness and cohesiveness of the lunar soil. Maybe something like baking soda???
Image Credit: NASA

A few weeks ago, a trifecta of circumstances occurred. First, the weather finally got warm. Second, each of the kids had a friend over. I needed a fun and novel activity that both the big and little kids would enjoy.  Third, I miraculously had ALL of the required ingredients.  (Really, the glitter was the only one I had make an effort to get.  I do my best to keep glitter out of our house unless it is VERY FIRMLY and PERMANENTLY glued to something.)  And for those of you reading this now, you can add a fourth reason to do this: the anniversary of the first manned moon landing is coming up! July 20, 1969 is the big day – so start planning your space activities now.

The sample moon rock sent home from school conveniently included a short description of how to do this at home. So, here is what you need:

  • Lots of baking soda
  • Glitter
  • Water
  • Food coloring or liquid watercolor paint (optional)
  • Vinegar

The instructions are pretty simple and this seemed to be good for a range of ages.  The 5.5 and 2.5 year olds all had fun, each in their own way.

I love these little vials of glitter!
I love these little vials of glitter!

Step 1. Pour a bunch of baking soda into a container.  I gave each kid their own plastic box to mix in.

Step 2. Add as much glitter as you want/can stand.  I found a multi-colored package of little vials of glitter that were just perfect for this activity. Each kid chose three colors, dumped them in, and mixed it up.

Getting your hands messy is half the fun of this activity!
Getting your hands messy is half the fun of this activity!

Step 3. Stir in enough water to make the baking soda stick together when you play with it with your hands.  Too much and it’s soupy; too little and the mixture is too dry.  To make it easier for the kids to add the right amount of water on their own, I filled squirt bottles up for them.  We used both spoons and our hands to mix.  They all did really well, save for my own 2.5 year old.  She decided she would much rather make sparkly soup, so that’s what she did.

Here is a close-up view of pieces of breccia from the Moon, courtesy of http://www.uml.edu/News/stories/2013/NASA-Moon-rocks.aspx.  The moon rock my oldest brought home from school looked remarkably like these!
Here is a close-up view of pieces of breccia from the Moon, courtesy of http://www.uml.edu/News/stories/2013/NASA-Moon-rocks.aspx. The moon rock my oldest brought home from school looked remarkably like these!

This is also the step where you add the food coloring, if you want. To make them really look like moon rocks, add enough black/blue so that it looks gray.  (With the glitter, this really does look neat.)  Our crew decided to do their own thing, of course.  We ended up with blue, green, and pink moon rocks.  I used liquid watercolors (and not very much!), because I was worried the food coloring might stain clothing.

Finished moon rock mix, all ready to shape into moon rocks!
Finished moon rock mix, all ready to shape into moon rocks!

Step 4.  Play.  The mixture is a great texture at this point — kind of like a very fine, barely wet sand.  The kids played with it for a while, then wanted to get on with the erupting part.  In theory, this is the step where you form the mixture into rocks. We did that a little bit, but really — the kids just wanted to see it fizz, so on to Step 5…

Pouring the vinegar on our moon rocks!  We loved how they bubbled and fizzed.
Pouring the vinegar on our moon rocks! We loved how they bubbled and fizzed.

Step 5. Pour on the vinegar!  We put the rocks we had made on the driveway and squirted vinegar to see the fizzing & erupting.  As with the water, I chose to fill squirt bottles with the vinegar. This made it easier for kids to get the vinegar in the right spot and helped prevent dumping the vinegar all over.

Forget about the moon rocks -- let's just see the baking soda fizz!
Forget about the moon rocks — let’s just see the baking soda fizz!

Eventually, the kids were just squirting the vinegar directly in the containers.  The activity held my 2.5 year old’s activity the longest. Long after the other kids were done, she was still having fun pouring all of the containers together and then dumping it all on the ground.  I had a very sparkly driveway after that!

Cleanup was really pretty easy — with all that baking soda and vinegar everything ended up VERY clean.  And the latest rainstorm took care of the sparkly driveway!

Asthma, Not Ass-ma

Asthma, Not Pronounced Ass-ma

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Asthma, Not Ass-maIt’s Asthma Awareness Month

It’s “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month”, so it’s time to be aware of asthma. In general, I’m not a fasthma-156094_1280an of awareness campaigns. Like billboards, I assume they achieve just enough to keep folks coming back but I refuse to believe that we’re saving lives as effectively as possible. That’s my cynical side typing. My ever-positive side, on the other hand, knows that any spark that causes one more research donation or one more vigilant friend or parent has to be a good thing – so I write about asthma.

The first bit of awareness: we need the “th” in asthma. In all likelihood, the “th” prevents us all from pronouncing it ASS-MA. I’ll leave that right there for you to decide whether that’s for the better.

Giggles aside how do we respond to someone when they mention their asthma? Someone says “Oh, I have asthma” or “my kid has asthma” and we usually respond with a reaction somewhere between hearing about someone’s fender-bender and hearing what someone had for lunch yesterday. Asthma, for most of us, is perceived as a condition in which someone has an issue, inhales some medicine and feels better. Many of us have witnessed a friend or someone who has paused what they were doing, taken their inhaler, and gone about their day.

I will admit that before becoming intimately aware of asthma because of my son, I thought of asthma in much the same way even though my brother has asthma and I remember childhood nights when I would wake up to the sound of an air compressor forcing asthma medicine into my brother’s lungs. Still, he took medicine, and got better, and I was a kid so this is how my parents explained it to me. No big deal.

When my son was hospitalized with asthma before his first birthday, I started wondering if I hadn’t been underestimating asthma all these years. Still, I wasn’t sure at first if I was worried just because I was a new parent. After all, doctors are leery to diagnose asthma. Here was how our conversation went in the hospital room:

Us:       We’re confident that our son has asthma!

Dr:       Well, we don’t diagnose asthma this early. It may not be asthma.

Us:       His birth-mom and birth-dad have asthma and his biological brother and sister both have asthma.

Dr:       Okay, then he has asthma.

This didn’t happen over the course of multiple conversations. The exchange lasted as long as it just took you to read those 4 lines. And just like that, my son had asthma. Just like that!!

postit

But watching my infant child cough and spurt and struggle to breathe changed my perception of asthma, of course, and my understanding continued to evolve with every hospital visit, in-home treatment and pulmonary function test over the years. It’s hard to change awareness with pamphlets, infographics or tons of data; so instead, I leave you with some ways to shift your understanding a little bit.

 

One Breath Every Second

When my son was still an infant and having an acute asthma attack, we would time his breathing over the course of a minute. We would hope for 20-30 breaths per minute. We would wince when it would hit 60.

stopwatch-153398_1280If you have a moment and you’re not around anyone who might think you need medical attention, try inhaling and exhaling every second. Ready. Go. For me, it takes about 5 seconds for my brain and body to wonder what the hell is going on. It’s not comfortable, yet this is a typical of an infant suffering from an acute asthma attack.

 

 

Sometimes my son needs help to breathe

Do you respond differently to the two following statements?

“I have asthma.”

“Sometimes, I need help to breathe.”

We know that asthma is a lung condition and that breathing is a fundamental, involuntary thing we do, but our reactions to an asthma attack and someone visibly struggling to breathe are different. Obviously an asthma attack and choking are two very different episodes with different medical responses. However, we gain a better understanding of asthma when we remember that our friends and family with asthma sometimes can’t get enough oxygen in their lungs without assistance. I’ve only struggled to breathe once in my life and it terrified me. I slipped off the top of a fence in my friend’s backyard and landed flat on my back. I had the wind knocked out of me for the first time in my life and I absolutely thought in that moment that I was dying. When we need help to breathe, it’s kind of a big deal.

 

Carbon Dioxide Retainers keep poison in their lungs

 Here’s a quick breathing primer: We need oxygen, we make carbon dioxide, we get rid of carbon dioxide as fast as possible. This last step is important, because carbon dioxide is poisonous to us and doesn’t belong in our bodies. Carbon Dioxide in your lungs is like a Nick Jonas song in your ears. You have to un-hear it as immediately as possible or bad things happen.

Unfortunately, while some asthmatics struggle to take in oxygen, carbon dioxide retainers struggle to expel carbon dioxide. The result is that CO2 then lingers around potentially causing long term damage. Retainers face a higher risk of mortality, in part because the issue isn’t as noticeable to a parent, friend or doctor trying to listen for a cough or wheeze.

 

The inhaler is not an accessory

Cough, wheeze, chest tightening, puff of albuterol, and all better…

…is not exactly how it goes.Photo

The infamous inhaler that sometimes identifies the weaker adolescent co-stars of Hollywood coming-of-age movies IS a first-responder medical device that is necessary in an emergency situation. It is NOT a complementary fashion accessory to a pocket-protector.

During an acute asthma attack, it is used to slow down, stabilize or reverse an inflammatory reaction that is blocking air from getting where it needs to go.

Sometimes, this may be all a patient needs. In severe cases, what follows could be an ER visit or overnight hospitalization. Either way, parents and kids then deal with days or weeks of steroid doses and round the clock treatments and breathing tests to monitor progress. The medicine has unkind side effects, the routine is exhausting, the situation is demoralizing.

 

Moving Forward

So as you close the laptop lid or put your phone back in your pocket, go forward with a little more empathy and a little better understanding for the tumult and tenacity it takes to live with asthma.

As you watch a friend or loved one pause what they’re doing to grab their inhaler, keep in mind the extensive protocols in the hospital and home that you don’t see.

Next time you take in your first deep breath of the day, keep in mind that sometimes infants need 60 breaths per minute to get oxygen and remember that getting air out of our bodies is just as important to getting air into our bodies.

If nothing else, keep in mind that asthma isn’t inconvenient, it is life changing.

 

Is Dinner Ready Yet?

Is dinner ready yet? I’m STARVING!!!

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Is Dinner Ready Yet?

It’s 5:30 – pick-up time at daycare.  I am – quickly – learning about the kids’ day from their teachers, collecting their things, and trying to ward off melt downs.  Why so quickly? Because, with or without the meltdowns, I know the kids are hungry. And if they’re not absolutely STARVING now, they will be by the time we get home.  In the car, the dinner menu is socialized with the kids to avoid a huge “I don’t like that!” meltdown at the table.  (I’ve noticed that it’s helpful to do this when they are buckled up and stationary.)  Luckily, the 2 year old lets her 5 year old brother do most of the what’s-for-dinner whining.

Hungry little monster
Image Credit: http://ivan-bliznak.deviantart.com/art/Monster-Hungry-209060090

But the real challenge lays ahead.  At home, my goal is to make a tasty and healthy dinner as quickly as possible.  And to keep the kids from turning so hangry they won’t eat a bite of it.   If I’m really on top of my game, I can get dinner done in 30 minutes.  Most of the time, though, I’m looking at 40 – 45 minutes.

I’ve tried strategies to be more efficient; most of them don’t work for me.  For example:

  • Meal plan & prep on Sunday.  My husband and I both work during the week. Our weekends are spent with our kids and catching up on sleep.  The last thing I’m motivated to do on Sunday is meal prep for the coming week.   I’m lucky if I make it to the grocery store and have a general idea of upcoming meals.
  • Freezer meals.  I make some freezer meals, but opportunistically.  If I’m making a time consuming casserole, I’ll double the recipe & put one in the freezer for later.  Or I’ll buy an extra big package of meat, use some, and marinate the rest in the freezer.  My biggest challenge in using a frozen casserole is remembering to take it out of the freezer the night before.
  • Crock pot meals.  I’ll use the crock pot on days I work from home.  But when I go to the office, I don’t have enough time in the morning to put it together and my day is too long for even the most forgiving of crock-pot recipes.  By the time we get home, dinner is a soggy, overcooked, unappetizing mess.

So, what strategies work for me?  It’s not rocket science, but here are a few that I use:

  1. Set up the meal for quick cooking.  For example, I’ll use boneless, smaller chicken pieces that will cook quicker than a whole chicken or bone-in pieces.  If I want roasted potatoes, I’ll cut them up into inch-size pieces in order to speed cooking.
  2. Choose dishes you can cook at the same time.  So, if your oven isn’t large enough to cook a meatloaf and roast the potatoes at the same time, make boiled potatoes instead.
  3. Sequence your cooking.  Start each dish so they are (mostly) finished at the same time.  Start prepping the items that will take the longest first. I usually focus on the carbohydrates and protein.  If I want to marinate the chicken strips before sauteing them, I’ll immediately get them marinating.  Rice is always started dishes early; once it’s done, it can rest off the heat just fine until we’re ready to eat. Similarly, put a pot of water on to boil first.  I may wait to add the pasta, but at least the water will be ready.  And potatoes always get priority cooking treatment.  Veggies are almost always last, since they cook pretty quickly.
Hungry Toucan
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/florida_photo_guy/15664318563/in/photostream/

Even under the best of circumstances, I still need to do something to quell the rumblings in the two little people’s bellies.  Or distract them.  So, here’s what I do:

 

 

 

  1. Get them something to eat.  It seems obvious, but it took me a while to come to terms with this. You spend time making a homemade meal; the last thing you want is for your kids’ appetites to be ruined.  The key, I’ve found, is WHAT to eat.  I give them options that, if they do ruin their appetites, I won’t mind (so much). They are welcome to eat any of the raw veggies I’m prepping for dinner.  They can also grab a cheese stick out of the fridge.  This is their typical choice and I love it.  They can get it on their own and since neither are big fans of meat it helps them get enough protein.
  2. Distract them. The older one is now big enough to chew gum.  Giving him a stick to chew on the way home from school has cut the hangry whining by at least 80%.  Once we’re home, a short TV show is just the thing I need to keep them out of trouble until dinner is ready.  TV has it’s place in our home and this is it.

Hangry

If you need some new dinner ideas, here are a handful of quick dishes that are proven winners in our household.

  • Tacos (preferably on Tuesday, since the kids LOVE to say “It’s Taco Tuesday!”).  Leftover taco meat is usually used later on in a taco casserole.
  • Teriyaki chicken.  I use a store bought marinade to make life a little easier. This is one of the few meat proteins the kids will eat seconds of.
  • Macaroni and cheese.  If time is very short or I’m exhausted, the boxed version will do the trick. But really, homemade doesn’t take more than 30 minutes, we all like it better, and I usually have leftovers for lunches.
  • Chopped cucumber and tomato salad.  Sometimes I had chopped peppers. Olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar, S&P go on the table so we can all season it ourselves.  (If I have half a lemon, the kids LOVE squeezing the juice on themselves.)  The kids eat this salad up.
  • Quesadillas. I can turn these babies out faster than Ming Ming can say “This is se-wious!”.  Add some veggie sticks and you’ve got a meal.  The adult version has sauted veggies and black beans in the quesadilla.
  • Pasta with garlic, cannellini beans, parmesan cheese, and a smidgen of red pepper flakes. I often don’t serve a separate protein with this meal — just a nice veggie.  The kids love the cannellini beans, which always amazes me.

What are some of your proven winners?