Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Hair Loves Arizona

That wonky, wavy thing it does in the back even when I dry it straight? That doesn't happen in Arizona because it's the desert.

Dave and I spent the first three days of this week in Scottsdale. I was working, he was goofing off. This was my first trip to the desert and I really liked it. The weather was beautiful, and once I got past my initial impression that the dirt everywhere looked like a construction zone, I had to admit that the landscape is beautiful, too. I could vacation there, though probably not in the summer when it's 125 degrees, because 95 felt pretty dang hot. "But it's dry heat," Southerners always say. That's true, but it's dry like the inside of a hot oven is dry. Hot. And I fear that living there wouldn't be good for my Chapstick addiction. Also, while the food was fantastic (because I can eat Mexican for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), I'm hard-pressed to survive more than a few days without sweet tea.

Here's an obligatory picture of the clouds from inside the plane. I really took this one for Ella and Luke - both of whom are ready to ride an airplane now.

We had a layover in Vegas and our connecting flight was delayed. Being Vegas, even the airport provides an opportunity for gambling. Dave decided to put a few dollars in the quarter slot machine. He played $3.50 and the machine started dinging. As it went on, I asked him what we were supposed to do next. He said, "We leave," and he cashed out his credits and exchanged his voucher for $406.50. Only he could just walk up to a slot machine in an airport and win $400.

Golf Funds
While we both decided we prefer to have grass, it was really cool to see the mix of palm trees and cacti, flat land and mountains.

I finished up my work stuff around lunchtime on Tuesday, so we did some souvenir shopping. I had a hard time finding a t-shirt small enough for Luke, and we ended up in a sporting goods store, browsing the Arizona athletic paraphernalia when I found this.
I thought we were in Arizona?
Interestingly, we flew back to Birmingham with a group of guys who were from Arizona that were traveling to Tuscaloosa for the game this weekend. I knew college football was king in the South; I just didn't realize other parts of the country thought so, too.

We did find t-shirts and a couple of little prizes for the kids, but we also found these nice scorpion suckers. According to the lady who sold them to us, people have whole farms for raising scorpions for things like this and people actually do eat them. That's just about more than I can wrap my head around. Apparently, Ella and Luke felt the same because after confirming that these were real scorpions and reassuring them that they were dead, Luke instructed me, "Just don't open it, Mama."

They were billed as hot candy.
I assume that means the scorpions are still sting-y?
In other, more general, life observations, I never realized how literally applicable sorority recruitment would be in my real life. I was in Arizona for a big user conference that my company does every year, and in the weeks leading up to it, we had meetings that sounded just like recruitment workshops. In paraphrase: "Know the message, know the people and their interests, and introduce the officers." I found it very interesting. Also, all of that etiquette training? Absolutely applicable down to the formal place settings at the lunch table. Though I still consider myself bad at small talk, I can see how those recruitment experiences prepared me for professional networking.

After giving my presentations, I realized that even the theater classes I took in high school and the group presentations we had to do in business school (that I hated), prepared me to speak in front of crowds of people without throwing up, inadvertently cursing, or falling down (my three big fears when actually standing in front of people to speak). It went well, and I attribute that to practice in my past life as a student. For the first time, I can say that my degree became more than a piece of paper that got me a job and the sorority wasn't just about socializing. That's kind of fulfilling.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Life Bits

I've been too busy doing work things, and too fried at the ends of the days, to blog lately. I'm hoping for some respite sometime in the middle of next week. Until then, here are some life bits I collected from my phone.

Occasionally, if you are very lucky, Batman will attend a local football game.

These are scrunchies on his arms - the kind that gymnasts wear to match their leotards. He cannot stop playing with them when we are waiting for his gymnastics class to start. Also? Arms full of scrunchies make him a super hero.

Supper. I didn't say these wouldn't be random life bits. I force myself to refrain from posting pictures of supper on Facebook, but I do send them to my sister. She always gives appropriate praise for the beauty of the dish. Presentation is everything, after all.

Protective foot- and head-wear are essential for safety. The day those monkey rain boots stop fitting will be the day you see me in Target buying a bigger pair. He wears them ALL THE TIME.

This note looks like x, y, and z just fell out of the coconut tree, but it actually says something: "Not Available." That's EGR's polite way of saying, "Keep Out." At the writing of this note, she didn't yet comply with basic rules of writing the English language like writing sentences from left to right. That is slowly changing, but as she informed me a couple of weeks ago, "Learning is hard."

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Vomit Chronicles: Be Prepared

The Vomit Cup
The beginning of school brought snot, as expected, and snot brought vomit, as expected. Every Wednesday morning since school started, Ella has thrown up. Once, before we left the house. The second time, just as we were approaching the sidewalk to let her out of the car. I had to jet out of the car rider line and park. Everyone driving by, the teachers, and the traffic cop could see that there was vomit. I'm sure that's why the cop didn't say anything about my driving. He didn't want any part of our situation. That day, she checked in late. Last week, she choked and threw up right as we left Grandmother's house from dropping off Luke. This time, I had The Vomit Cup, so we just pulled over, wiped her face, tied up a sack full of vomit, and then we were on our way. That's how we roll, with sacks of vomit.

Friday, she threw up on the way up the stairs to car rider line at the end of the day. The poor kid. Someone had to help her change clothes. She got in Grandmother's car and threw up again. Then she threw up twice more that evening. I prepared the house for a stomach virus, because that many pukes in a row falls outside of our personal range of normal (which, admittedly, allows for a lot more vomit than most families). I cancelled our birthday party plans for the next day, bought a giant can of Lysol, and hunkered down. She slept all evening and all night, and woke up feeling decent. Luke didn't throw up at all. I let my guard down a little.

She had told us that her milk tasted bad at lunch and she could only drink a little bit of it. In fact she told me, "My milk just tasted fried." To which I responded, "Umm, that's not right. Milk should never taste fried." I'm thinking that fried milk may have been responsible for the Friday evening illness.

Clothes and wipes
We carried on through our Saturday business since she hadn't thrown up in 12 hours. I packed our Vomit Preparedness Kit in the truck with us. It wasn't in vain. All it took was a few swervy moves while merging onto the interstate to set her off. She puked in the cup while Lukey choked back his sympathy vomit as hard as he could. He managed to breathe through it and refrain, thank goodness, because I only had one cup. She gave me a cup full of vomit, I handed her a hand full of baby wipes to clean her face. That's how we roll, with cups of vomit.

That was all the vomit we saw on Saturday, but Sunday started with a bang an hour before the alarm when I woke up to The Vomit Cough (yes, there is a Vomit Cough). I ran into her room just as she was waking up, having already thrown up in her bed. That's how the reflux works with her. It happens while she's sleeping and so suddenly that she doesn't wake up until mid-puke. It's awful. I put her in the shower while Dave cleaned the floor, then I changed her sheets and put her back to bed. I put The Vomit Bowl back in the bed with her. She never went back to sleep, so I let her get up and play. We were cuddled on the couch and she went back to her room for her water when I heard her throw up again. She had no warning; she said she just tasted it in her mouth when she drank some water, so she threw up in the bowl and "thank goodness that bowl was just in there." Poor kid. That's how we roll, with bowls of vomit.

She'll be fully back on the reflux meds for a while after this weekend. That's how the reflux works. The snot makes it worse, a stomach virus makes it worse, food borne illness makes it worse, and then it takes a while to get in under control again. Pepcid, and Prevacid, and Tums, oh my.

Vomit Bowl
Ropers' Portable Vomit Preparedness Kit
1 wide mouthed cup lined with a plastic grocery sack, held in place with a rubber band
Baby wipes
Changes of clothes including socks and underwear
Flip flops
extra grocery sacks
Extra strength Febreze

At home, when there is illness or a reflux flare up, we use a large bowl to catch the vomit when they can't make it to the potty. They do run for the potty, but in cases like Sunday morning, there isn't even enough warning for that. (That bowl gets sanitized with Lysol spray and wipes, scrubbed with Dawn, then run through the dishwasher once we are finished with it.)

As I've rambled enough about vomit for this month, I'll leave you with a couple of thoughts: Never let the sun set on a pile of dirty, spare sheets (because that will be the night that you'll have to make the bed with throw blankets), and may you never drink fried milk.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Around the House

A word mix up, bad language, and a new nickname for Dave.

One evening while I was cooking supper, Ella asked me, "Why are you wearing that easel, Mama?" She meant "apron".

After asking to watch Brave, which he as seen numerous times, and watching half of it, Luke called me into the living room one morning with his panic voice: "Mommy! There's a bear on TV! Turn on Nemo!" It wasn't news that there would be a bear in Brave. I'm thinking he's just the child embodiment of Dory at this point in his life. Are all little boys so easily distracted?

Grandmother was telling Ella and I that she had a chair she thought she would paint for her new living room. Ella was not in favor of painting the chair and required a reason. Grandmother explained that it would match her coffee table, to which she immediately responded in her completely rational, this-is-the-end-of-this-conversation voice, "Well, you don't drink coffee." She has an answer for everything.

"I think Daffy Duck needs to watch his mouth!" - Ella, emphatically, when Daffy said he hated coconuts. "Hate" is a bad word in our house.

"Here's a tip: When you're dressing one, stretch the clothes, not the kid." - Practical advice from Dave in response to an unfortunate Polly Pocket clothing accident.

"Hey! I'm playin' baseball! Calm down!" - The neighbor dogs were barking and disturbing Luke's peace in the front yard.

About once every week or two, I make brownies after supper because the monkeys require them. One evening when there were no brownies, and there had been no brownies in quite a while, Luke asked for them. I told him we didn't have any and he asked me, "Big 'Ole Daddy ate them all?" That is now Dave's name in our house.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Perfectly Boring Weekend

It was a fantastic weekend - and by fantastic, I mean I only left the house twice in three days. I'm not even sure one of those counts since it was just to ride down the street on the golf cart. Doesn't that sound gloriously boring? Sometimes I just need a few days in a row to be a recluse and recharge. And get some things done.

Football season started with a home game Friday night, so we made our way via Bulldog Bridge.
Our own "secret" passage.

Luke was beside himself with excitement and he wore his new football outfit that he got for his birthday. It's our team colors AND it has a football on the front of it. We sat with the statistician's wife and the band director's mother. There was a time in my life when I could never imagine living in my hometown. I guess most people think that as teenagers. I'm glad I do though. It's kind of neat that my child is going to the same elementary school that I went to, and that my dad went to. I like being down the street from the family, I like walking to the football games on Friday nights, I like knowing the people in the stands. There was a time when I needed anonymity, but I think that's passed now. It's comfortable to know someone when you go places.

As for the Bulldogs, they didn't do so hot in their opening game, but the Marching Troubadours sounded fantastic.
It was a tough game to watch.
Saturday morning, Dave took the children to breakfast and grocery shopping so that I could fulfill my promise to clean out all the kid things. With the closing of the summer gift giving season, it was time to purge. I worked most of the day on their rooms and sent away two bags of toys they had ignored or outgrown, a bag of clothes, and threw away two bags of trash. As of yet, the only thing anyone has argued about was the ever increasing Barbie population. We negotiated down to getting rid of five of them and she got to pick which ones. We should have gotten rid of three times that many, but this was but one battle in the war on clutter. Super Fast informed me that I could not get rid of his new "aputer" (that's computer, for that those that need a translator - a Disney Smart Pad and books to go with it), but I assured him that it wasn't even in the running since he just got it for his birthday. He doesn't grasp how the elimination process works yet. Aside from the Barbies and a small stack of books that we gave to Jake, no one has even noticed what is gone - and some of it was big stuff that just took up space. That tells you how much they played with it. It also makes me think I left money on the table. I probably should have put a few more things on the truck. After that, they played like children in toy store in their rooms with their stuff that they could actually find, and we watched college football and cooked on the grill. 

Sunday, we went to Sunday School and church. I'm involved with the puppet ministry at church and we do a show for the kids during Children's Church at the beginning of every month. It's a fun and easy thing, and the kids love it so much. The lesson was about how people define beauty by what's on the outside, but God defines it by what is on the inside. It was very timely for our household. Having thrown up my hands Friday morning and asked God for help, I was once again amazed by answered prayer. Both the Sunday school lesson and the Children's Church lesson reinforced the points I've been trying to make. My favorite part of doing the puppet show, though, is standing behind the curtain where the kids can't see me and listening to them interact in the class. I always want to observe them at school when they don't know I'm watching, and this is the closest thing to it. 

Sunday afternoon, I napped and the children did not. Not even Luke. They played and helped Dave wash cars and I slept until Ella woke me up by yelling into my ear, "MAMA! I'm stuck in my shirt!" It was so ridiculous that I couldn't even pretend not to hear it, so I got up. 

Monday, the children slept until 7.53. I said 7:53 ya'll. That's LATE. Dave made breakfast and Luke and I ate on the front porch in our pajamas. I stayed on the front porch reading Leviticus until Dave was ready to put the ribs on the fire for lunch, and I finally got myself dressed and did some kitchen work. After lunch, he he fell asleep in the chair. Since Dave napping is a very rare occasion, I took the children outside to play hide and seek. I learned a very important lesson: Luke is the worst hider in the history of hide and seek. He cannot be quiet and he cannot wait to be found. He gets so excited at the prospect of being found that he runs out of his hiding spot at the most inopportune times. I wasted a few good hiding places with him as my partner. Once everyone was good and sweaty and one of them had fallen down and commenced bleeding, we decided to fill the baby pool and cool off. That lasted until supper, and then we fast tracked them to bed. 

It was a great weekend.