Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties is a Genius

I'm not exactly a technology expert.  I have bemoaned technology a few times on this blog, actually.  But in the last few months, as the book stuff has begun happening (and happening-- I've got deadlines, people!) I've had to get a little smart(er) about how technology works.

Particularly this whole blogging/website thing.

Soon, I'll share all that new stuff with all of you.  But in the meantime...



Sure, fine.  You're probably reading this going, 'Gee.  Big deal.  You figured out templates and added some pages and social media.'  But to know me is to know that THIS IS A BIG DEAL FOR THIS WOMAN IN HER THIRTIES! 

Here are a few hints for those of you technology-challenged like me:

1.  Blogger is not nearly as easy to use as Wordpress.  If you are smart and brave, you can migrate your site to Wordpress and have much more designing fun.  However, since I was terrified to lose any of these posts (and too cheap to hire someone to migrate it for me), I just worked with the simple templates on Blogger.

2.  Do you know about Fiverr?  You can go on there and basically get anything for five bucks.  Know what I got for five bucks?  A really nice logo!

3.  I got really freaked out when I realized I had to mess with code to make the social media stuff happen.  But did you know there are all kinds of EASY tutorials for that?

This one taught me how to add social media buttons:

And this one taught me how to center my header:

So... whaddya think?!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties Turns a Corner

It is no secret that when I found out I was pregnant with Aaron when Anna was not even a year old, I was a little scared.

Another one?  You're kidding, right?

More than a little scared. My baby was still a baby, and I couldn't imagine adding another baby to the mix.  Don't get me wrong-- I was happy.  But scared.  

Everyone with kids close in age told me the same thing:  The first year will be hard, but after that you will be glad you had them so close together.  Through the last year of sleep deprivation, carrying two children through an endlessly snowy winter, 24x7 workworkwork, I held on to those words.  Soon it will get easier.  Soon I will turn a corner.

And you know what?  We have.  (Except the in sleep department.  Sleep remains a subject I do not want to talk about, and if you have children who sleep through the night then please do me a favor and do not bring it up in my presence.) Both children get more independent every day. We are almost completely weaned from bottles, thank you baby Jesus.  Both kids can go to the gym childcare without an appointment.  Anna and Aaron eat the same things, can share a grilled cheese sandwich, and can even watch Thomas the Train together.  Oh, and they play:

Let us talk about this video for a second:  How Aaron rocks on the rocking horse.  Anna calling, "MisterBuddyMisterBuddyMisterBuddy! I made a tent for you!"  How she pats his head at the end.

My kids can finally play together, and that is just... well, awesome.

I thought that was going to be it for this week's post, but then this happened yesterday:

The picture does not do the damage justice.  Someone seriously rammed me in the Target parking lot, and left without even leaving a note.  On a sweltering hot day, when I had both kids with me because of course L is out of town.... you fill in the rest.  When I walked out to my car and saw this, I shrieked and may or may not have used profanity.  

And this is the conversation I immediately had with my sweet Anna:

Anna:  Mommy's car got bonkie?
Me:  Yes, Bubbie, Mommy's car got bonked by a not-nice person who didn't even leave a note.
Anna:  It's okay, Mommy.  We go back inside the store and get bandaids.
Me:  No, Bub, the store doesn't have Bandaids that can fix Mommy's car.  We have to take it to the shop.
Anna:  We go to the shop and fix Mommy's car?
Me: Yes, Bubbie.
Anna:  Then Mommy will feel happy?

People left this part out when they told me about how much better it gets. How, after so much giving and giving, your kids start giving back.  In the form of kissies, lovies, and a whole lot of perspective.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties Stops Apologizing

When I lived in China, I worked with a Danish guy who told me he could always spot an American by the way they are always apologizing for everything.  I remember fighting him on this, and now I am eating crow as I write this post.  You were right, K.  Sorry.  

It is no secret that I was nervous for my trip last week to California.  Nervous is an understatement.   Petrified.  Terrified.  Stupefied.  All of the above.

And of course, as it always goes, Aaron had a rough week right before we left, including a slew of new teeth and a throat virus which we will NOT call Hand, Foot, and Mouth.

(Trust me, he's not feeling good here.  Promise.)

So I was scared as we said goodbye to L at the security gate early Sunday morning, and maybe a little teary as we watched him walk away and Aaron whined for me to lift him out of the stroller.  

That is when the apologies started happening:

To the lady I pushed in front of because she was trying to cut in front of me in the security line:  Sorry.
To the TSA agent who had to do an additional screen of my milk bottles:  Sorry.
To the people around me in the waiting area who had to watch my kids play on the floor:  Sorry.
To the flight attendants:  Sorry.
To the other passengers:  Sorry.
To the rental car agent:  Sorry.
To every single person who might have been inconvenienced by the fact that I was traveling by myself with two small children:  Sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry!  Sorry!!

(Actual photo of us waiting at the gate for our flight.  Dora PJ's.  Tiara.  Michigan Sweatshirt. Check, check, check.)

I caught myself about mid week, and put an end to the excessing apologizing.  We had invaluable time with Grandma:

Met and played with lots of good friends:

And spent time with family we never get to see:
(No babies were harmed in the taking of this picture.)

And for that, I am most definitely NOT sorry.  

I'll be totally honest-- the trip was hard at times.  Not PTSD hard, but hard.  The flights were hard.  The sleep was.... well, this is a subject I would not like to discuss.  But even though I didn't get a chance to see everyone I would have liked, and even though Friday could easily have been dubbed 'Mental Breakdown Day,' the trip was totally worth it.

I adopted a mantra for the flight home yesterday, one of many little gems I picked up from Southpark: 'Screw you guys.'  When people gave me the please-don't-sit-next-to-me death stare at SFO, I repeated my mantra in my head.  When Aaron was done sitting in the seat but the fasten seatbelt light was on.  When Anna shouted loudly, 'Mama!  I have to go PEE PEE!' at 25,000 feet.  I did what I had to do, and told myself that anyone put out by it can go take a hike.  Preferably off the plane.  While it was flying.  

As we deplaned yesterday, I heard from a random person (for the billionth time), 'You did this by yourself?  You're crazy!'  My first instinct was to apologize, since she was probably inconvenienced in some way by my situation.  Instead, I silently repeated my mantra and said, 'Yup, just call me Super Mom!'

Because-- sorry-- that's exactly what I am.  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Woman in her Thirties in the Sky with Babies

As some of you know, I traveled to San Francisco in May for a weekend.  L received a huge award at work, and we were invited for an all-expenses-paid adventure.  L didn't want to go, but I pushed it.  Not only was this award a big deal, but it was a great excuse to see my family and get out of P-Ville even for a short while during our endless winter.

Us.  May-ish. Notice the hoods and jackets.   

There is a reason I haven't blogged about this trip.  I could have talked extensively about our hotel with an incredible view:

Our phenomenal dinner at The Slanted Door:

 (The view from our table- amazing)

(Lychee cotton candy- I die.)

Or the awards ceremony itself, where I was bursting with pride in my hard working husband:

(I wore these shoes.  THAT is love.)

No, the reason I haven't blogged about this adventure was because the trip was hell.  HELL.  I'm talking no-sleep, barf-everywhere, top-of-Nob-Hill-with-a-stroller HELL.  And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, our flight from SFO back to Minneapolis happened.

And the puke.  Oh, the puke.  Everywhere.  Three times.

Hard to believe this girl had it in her.

I am only partially joking when I say L and I have PTSD over this trip.  I cried about it for three days after returning home, not just from pure exhaustion and frustration, but because our summer plans were ruined.  We were set to see our very close friends from China, visiting the States with their two small children-- CANCELLED.  We were talking about going with another couple and their children to a camp up North-- CANCELLED.  And, most importantly, my trip back to California with the kids to visit my family in August.  It killed me, but I couldn't go through with it.  I just couldn't.  

But I didn't cancel.  And now it's August, and even though I'm terrified out of my mind because THIS TIME I'M TRAVELING ALONE, I'm going to do it.  I'm going to California with both kids in ten days.  Because family is family and I live far away, and this is important and there are lots of people out West who need to meet this guy:

I have had dreams about this trip every night for the last week.  The sleeplessness.  The adjusting to the time difference.  The absence of our 'stuff'.  But, more than anything, the flight.  3.5 hours of pure torture.

('Or not!  A woman in her thirties thinks positively!' I can hear you all say. Whatever.  YOU do it.)

In all my thinking and stressing about it, a few things have come to the forefront.  Airlines really don't have it right when it comes to children.  For example:

1.  I would pay extra to be on a flight that does NOT have a drink service.  HELLO!  Leave the aisles open for toddling children and bathroom goers.  Do we really need tomato juice?  Cranberry juice? Just give us a bottle of water on our way in and be done with it.

2. Children should board the plane LAST and de-plane FIRST. Yeah, the frequent-flyers will get all pissy about it.  But you know what is worse than waiting 20 minutes while everyone de-planes?  Waiting twenty minutes WHILE A CHILD SCREAMS NEXT TO YOU.

3. Changing tables.  I have flown a LOT with children, and I would say that maybe 50% of the planes have a changing table in the bathroom.  Seriously, people.  KIDS POOP THEIR PANTS.  Not rocket science.

4. Offer people $5 to check their bag at the gate.  Do it while everyone is waiting in the waiting area staring each other down, and NOT while everyone is boarding the plane and wrestling their neighbor for overhead space.

5.  Give parents flying solo the ability to have a buddy.  Someone on the flight who wants to make an extra buck. Someone un-creepy to hold the kid(s) or play with them so you can get a break.  I would pay $100 for this service.  PROBABLY MORE.

I just finished Jim Gaffigan's book Dad is Fat, and he offers some sage advice for traveling with children:  DON'T DO IT.  Fine, I get it.  Anything else?