Last week I had the amazing experience of spending a week on Kauai, Hawaii, with my colleagues. I’ve never visited a place so lush. We worked (no, really, we did!) and connected over delicious food, spirits, and even a helicopter ride.
I started composing a post about two months ago and never finished it. I kept coming back to update it, tacking on bits and pieces here and there, until I realized I’d built a schizophrenic Franken-post. So in an effort to condense this summer into something someone might actually read, I put Frankie out of his misery, and here’s an only-slightly-incoherent bulleted list:
- I joined the ranks of Automattic in May.
- Las Vegas trip was Las Vegasy!
- Work. Work, work, work work worky work work.
- “Vacation” to New York to visit extended family. (I put “vacation” in quotes because a twelve-hour road trip with two young children hardly qualifies, but it was a surprisingly good time nonetheless.)
- Germany, Tim was in you! I was home with a sick baby and a three-year-old. Guess who had the better time.
- Winnipeg, I was in you! You were fun and only slightly haunted. Also, my co-workers are brilliant.
- The baby is finally sleeping through the night! In other fantastical news, unicorns are real, and if that wasn’t awesome enough, they poop Skittles! Life is AMAZING!
- The baby is going to be 1 (ONE) next month. Life is horribly continuous, what with time and the going forward-ish-ness of it all! Make it stop!
- Overuse of exclamation points? Don’t mind if I do!
- Ellie graduated from pre-pre-school today. She’s going to pre-school. I am feeling pre-nostalgic and pre-grumpy about this whole babies-growing-up business.
- Tim and I were married five years ago today. We’re celebrating in true parents-to-two fashion — he fell asleep on the couch at quarter to ten, I am writing this disjointed post. Oh yeah, it’s business time.
- Themes. Themes, themes, and more themes.
- We’re moving in the next year, but that’s a whole post in and of itself. Construction! Renovations! Secret mystery destination! Stay tuned!
Last week was Tim’s second big business trip. I wrote about my experience when Tim went on his last trip but I was feeling more confident this time. With a bit more experience under my belt, I was certain it would go more smoothly and I was fully prepared to handle a certain level of chaos.
I am a Capable Adult ™ now, after all.
Well, well, well.
First of all, his company sent him to Hawaii. Let’s just start there.
Hawaii. In January. That’s not a business trip, that’s a honeymoon. I thought I was jealous about Europe, but Hawaii in January is epic for a person who is used to snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures. Heck, anywhere warmer than fifty degrees is drool-worthy when compared to the alternative. It’s just plain wrong.
Once I got over my jealousy, we got down to the real work of finding ways to make this a little easier on me, the anti-single-parent. Tim made plans to have extra help around in the evenings in the form of Ellie’s two favorite sitters, he cooked and froze extra meals, and since I’m back at work I figured being at the office during the day would offer more than enough opportunities for adult social interaction to keep me sane.
With all those measures in place I thought, “What could go wrong?”
Ugh. That’s a picture of me, looking at my pre-last-week self and thinking, “Self, sometimes you should just shut the fuck up.”
The week before Tim left, my dad was admitted to the hospital. Nothing seriously life-threatening, but it’s rare for anyone in my family to have a “hospital-serious” illness, so that was concerning. Tim considered canceling his trip but we decided against it. We expected dad would be out in a few days, no worse for the wear, so no need for Tim to stay home.
The night before Tim left, the baby was inconsolable and refused to sleep for more than an hour at a stretch until about 3 a.m.–a rare occurrence for our Gwen. Tim’s flight left early so neither of us got much sleep, starting the week off with a bang–or more accurately, a snore.
The night Tim left, I backed our van into a lamp in the Target parking lot. I know I’m not the best driver, but I usually have the wherewithall to avoid hitting giant, well-lit inanimate objects. I’m blaming sleep deprivation. Thankfully the van itself was not harmed, save for a scratch, and everyone was fine… but I haven’t hit anything with my car since I was a teenager with a learning permit. Embarrassing much?
Monday passed without incident, and this is probably the only time in my life where I will rank a Monday as one of the best days of the week, because it was all downhill from there.
I woke up at 2:30 Tuesday morning to Ellie’s frantic sobbing. I ran to her room to find she’d vomited all over her bed. Her first stomach flu! Lovely! She continued to be sick throughout the day and I did my best to console her in between loads of laundry.
Oh, so much laundry.
That evening I remembered just how contagious the stomach flu can be… so instead of eating the lasagna I’d heated for dinner (one of the meals Tim graciously prepared before he left) I had a few bites of raspberry Jell-O and stuck the lasagna back in the fridge.
Good thing, because I spent most of Wednesday either in bed or the bathroom. I won’t go into the gory details; let’s just say the “I Can’t Keep Anything Down” Diet worked its magic and I lost over 10 pounds in 24 hours.
Ellie stayed home and watched episode after episode of Dora the Explorer, with the occasional break to play games on my iPad, and I tried to wake myself up once in a while to make sure she hadn’t strangled herself or burned the house down around us. I only caught her playing with a lighter once. Parenting WIN.
We even spread the love to one of our sitters, who had to cancel on Thursday and Saturday due to illness. Go Team Sick!
While all this was happening, my father had to be transferred to a local hospital for further tests–again, not super serious but not the quick in-and-out procedure we’d hoped for. More stress.
On Thursday morning I was feeling better but not 100%, so I stayed home from work. My mom (who stayed with us while my dad was in the hospital) offered to take the kids to school, and that’s when we realized I’d left one of the overhead lights on in our van for three days. The battery was dead and my mom had to call AAA for a jump.
Meanwhile, my darling husband is posting photos like this on Facebook:
He has some nerve, but karma is a bitch. On Friday, his flight out of Hawaii was delayed due to mechanical failure. Apparently the plane was fully boarded and on the runway, ready to take off, before they noticed a problem (because that’s not scary at all!)
Tim called me from a hotel in Honolulu to let me know this–and then had to run to the bathroom mid-conversation to vomit. Apparently that stomach bug was strong enough to follow him across 48 states! After some fancy finagling with his flight schedule he arrived home on Sunday morning, only 17 hours later than planned. Given our luck, I’m just grateful his plane didn’t drop out of the sky.
Thankfully things have settled down a bit since he got home. Life is mostly back to normal, with the exception of my dad still being in the hospital (he’s recovering from surgery and doing very well!)
As for the whole traveling thing, I was really hoping the third time would be the charm… unfortunately this was the worst trip of them all. To think, our family hadn’t even had so much as a bad cold since winter started–to get hit with the stomach bug from hell, on top of my dad being sick, on top of car issues and flight cancellations… gah!!!! When it rains, it pours.
What life lesson do I take away from this experience? I’m not quite sure. Part of me thinks chaining Tim to the house is the only viable solution, but he’s not having it (and I’m sure his employer would take issue with that). I could take the Positive Spin route and choose to forget the negative stuff entirely–after all, Tim got home safely, I lost ten pounds, everyone is still alive.
Eh, that’s not my style.
Instead, I’ll say this: Sometimes, no matter how well you plan or how positive you are, life is just plain crappy (literally and figuratively in this case) and the best thing you can do is put your head down and keep going. It sucks, but you’ll get through it because you have no choice.
And it’s going to take a lot of effort not to be an anxious wreck the next time Tim says the words “business trip.”
It’s that time again! 2011′s highlights:
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: We had a baby!
I spent most of the first nine months of 2011 gestating this cutie, and as such, 75% of the year is a blur. But yeah, she’s pretty awesome. I can officially remove “Have a home birth” from the life list, since Gwen is most definitely our last child and, once again, the home birth didn’t work out. In retrospect, I’m not disappointed with either of my babies’ births. The experiences were just as powerful and life-altering despite having taken place in a hospital–and I got two amazing kids out of the deal so I can’t feel bad about that!
In July Tim started a new work-from-home job, putting his WordPress expertise to work at Automattic. While this isn’t my accomplishment to share, it’s certainly had an impact on our family. Prior to this we worked together in the same office for several years, but he quickly realized he couldn’t keep up with both workloads and resigned from his position at the university in August. The new job also means more travelling and that’s been difficult for both of us. So far he’s been to Montreal and Budapest, and next month he’ll spend a week in Hawaii (the stinker!) Despite those challenges, I really can’t complain–his new schedule offers more flexibility than the university could, the benefits are excellent and it’s a significant step up in his career. We’re still figuring out how to navigate this new world, but I have a feeling it will get easier as time goes on.
I had my gallbladder removed shortly after Gwen was born. Although certainly not something I wanted, in one sense I’m glad it happened. It was the wake-up call that allowed me to take a critical look at my daily habits and take steps to better myself. I bought a Fitbit which motivated me to start exercising and monitoring calories again, and after just a few weeks I feel ten times better about myself and my abilities. It’s a careful balance between doing the work and becoming obsessive about it, and while I don’t always win that mental battle, I’m getting better.
Creatively I don’t have much to show for myself. I’m not feeling the illustration bug, my shops have been dormant most of the year, and I have a few ideas for photo shoots but it’s too darn cold outside and there’s not enough room in our house. Meh. I did spend a few months teaching myself about WordPress theme development and crossed off “learn PHP” from my life list, so that’s something!
Three of my list items had to do with the kids–make their Halloween costumes, make Ellie a birthday cake (I didn’t bake it but I decorated it, so I’m counting this one) and take them to Santa’s Village–so it’s easy to see where my focus was this year. However, Tim and I also took our first “long” trip away from Ellie in April to see Iron & Wine in concert (something I never wrote about due to pregnancy yuckiness) which was fun. And I visited my extended family in North Carolina for the first time, crossing off another state on my “visit all 50 states” goal.
Overall, I would say this was a banner year for personal and family growth, not so much creativity. That’s an acceptable exchange, though. I’ve devoted many years to creative pursuits, so it’s only fair that other things come into focus for a bit. As the kids get older I will have more time to spend with my projects, but right now it’s all about them. Seeing how much Ellie has grown and then having our second child has made me keenly aware of just how fast it goes by.
Next year I’m looking forward to more of the same–more introspection as I get closer to my thirties and more time spent enjoying my family. I’m hoping to travel a bit, too–nothing crazy long distance, but now that we have a bit more disposable income I want to get out of the state occasionally!
Happy new year, all!
I’ve had a difficult time getting into the Christmas thing this year. Not sure why, although I’m guessing a last-minute trip to North Carolina for a funeral and the stress of going back to work had something to do with it. In any case, I just wasn’t feeling the holiday cheer… I’m way behind on shopping, we’re not even putting up a tree until Christmas Eve, and I ordered Christmas cards but I kinda forgot where I put them. Oops.
Last Saturday I woke up and decided I wanted to do something to change that. So in a rare moment of spontaneity, we booked a motel room, strapped the kids into the van and were off to New Hampshire to visit Santa’s Village for the weekend. We figured this would be one of Ellie’s birthday gifts since she’s just as excited about experiences as toys (and she already has way too many of the latter).
It was cold, but only in New England do people still flock to an amusement park when it’s 25 degrees out. We spent most of the time bundled up in layers with the occasional pit stop into a restaurant to warm up. You don’t see Gwen in many of these pictures because she was tucked away in her stroller, wrapped in a snow suit and a couple blankets with a canopy cover to keep the wind out. In fact, she slept through the majority of the park, waking only to eat and smile and smugly prove to us just how easy-going a baby can be.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the park was especially friendly to little kids… there was more than enough stuff to do in the two days we were there. I was worried Ellie would get scared on the rides but she LOVED them–the train, the monorail, the spinning cups, everything. She liked visiting with the reindeer and decorating her own gingerbread lady (and then inhaling it, of course.) The light display after the sun went down was spectacular (I’d hate to see their electric bill) and Tim and I both enjoyed watching Ellie soak it all up with wide eyes.
Ironically, the only thing we didn’t do was visit with Santa… the line was too long for a three-year-old’s attention span. But you know, I don’t think Ellie missed out–the whole “sit on an old man’s lap to get candy” thing probably seems pretty creepy to a kid who is finicky around strangers.
We know it was a successful trip because by the end of the day, Ellie was an overstimulated grouch. She passed out in the car on the way home and didn’t wake up for two hours. Operation: Exhaust the Preschooler was a success!
And wouldn’t you know, I found a bit of Christmas spirit along the way (and a pound of homemade fudge from the candy shop certainly didn’t hurt).
I didn’t write about it at the time, but Tim returned from a business trip to Hungary a couple weeks ago and at the risk of sounding incredibly un-feminist–I’m not entirely sure how I survived that week and a half without my husband.
Let me preface this by saying, I am not single parent material. Period. Tim and I make a great team and he’s an exceptional and involved father. For that I am very grateful, but when he leaves life gets… difficult. Like I’m suddenly missing a large and very valuable limb.
Case in point: Tim went to Montreal for a weekend WordCamp this summer, leaving Ellie and me (a very pregnant me, I might add) to our own devices. My mom came to help for part of the time, but mostly it was just the two of us, hanging out. I thought I was prepared for the chaos. I even dug out my giant childhood sticker collection and let Ellie have at it, thinking that would keep her busy for a while (and obviously forgetting most two-year-olds have the attention span of a gnat on crack.)
Sticker fun lasted about five minutes. Five minutes of peace–that summed up my weekend. Ellie refused to nap, so by the time Sunday evening rolled around she was alternately bouncing off the walls with giddy happiness and throwing herself on the floor in a fantastic tantrum–all in the span of maybe two minutes. At one point Tim Skyped us to see how things were going and, upon answering the video chat, was greeted with two sobbing females–one child, one adult, both at the end of their proverbial ropes. Let’s just say it was intense. I’m surprised he didn’t decide to stay in Canada permanently after that.
So that gives you an idea of how I fare when I parent alone–I’m basically on autopilot, and a pretty crappy autopilot at that. I’m less hormonal these days, sure, but now I have two children to think about–twice the chaos! Half the sleep! Continue reading
Happy Halloween, Voxers!
I’d been meaning to write about our Boston trip, but MMS caught up to me. Unfortunately there are no documentary photos to go along with this, as I never got a chance to buy film for my Olympus XA-2 point-and-shoot, and I didn’t want to drag the big, digital Pentax *ist D around. Apologies, though this entry is not entirely without illustration.
I have to admit, I went into this trip feeling ambivalent for a number of reasons:
1) It’s a long drive from Bangor to Boston, and we weren’t familiar with the area at all. We actually stopped and spent the night in Portland, waking up early Saturday morning to head south instead of doing the whole trip down in one night. This wasn’t the original plan, but was a good idea nonetheless. We got lost in Boston even in daylight, so trying to navigate the neighborhood at midnight would have been hell.
2) I’m not a city girl, and the S.O. is even less a city boy. We’re country mice. I love the idea of living within walking distance of everything you could possibly want to do or see, but the crowds kill me. 2-3 days in the big city and I’m ready to see wide open spaces again.
3) I knew that we’d only have a short amount of time to explore, and while I certainly wanted to see some sights, the original reason we were there was to see my friend and her future hubby. I hadn’t really thought about it until she brought it up, but we hadn’t actually seen each other in three years! Where the hell does the time go? Anyway, rushing around from one stop to another like regular tourists wasn’t going to work, ’cause there was much catching up to do.
4) Finally, we planned this entirely at the last minute, and spontenaiety is not my strong suit. The fact that we went through with it at all is a tribute to the S.O.’s patience and my own ability to hold my silly nerves at bay. I think I did particularly well considering I only flipped out at traffic once – a giant truck came flying up on our right side, and at the time I didn’t realize we’d moved from a two-lane high-way to a three-lane. I thought said giant truck was trying to pass us in the breakdown lane, and this meant certain death for us in our tiny little Golf. I’m such a dork.
Anyway, as is usually the case, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. We had a great time and did quite a bit, all things considered.
First things first, shopping! Because you can’t visit the big city without getting mall-ed at the mall (hah-hah). We braved the weather and headed out to the monstrousity known as the CambridgeSide Galleria. The S.O. drooled himself silly at the Apple store (iPods) and Borders (Sony’s new book reader), while my friend and I shopped for clothes (mostly for her, some for me). I found the best scarf and hat at Old Navy, and thoroughly enjoyed my very first Cinnabon. Yes, I said my first – I was a Cinnabon virgin until last weekend, and I didn’t know what I’d been missing. I probably should have stayed in the dark, because if they ever bring Cinnabon to Bangor, they’ll have to roll me out of the store like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
But I digress. After the shopping spree our legs and feet were quite sore, so we lunched at the California Pizza Kitchen, then headed to the science museum to catch an Imax movie about Greece history. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I was also an Imax virgin (giving my friend a second chance to look at me incredulously and say, “You’ve never what?!?”). The movie was okay, but the experience itself was a riot. Now I want to see all my favorite films on a 180-degree dome screen, just for the novelty factor.
After the film, we visited the Body Worlds 2 exhibit. It was interesting, though I enjoyed it more for the art sculpture than for the human anatomy lesson. I understood that these were real human body parts, plasticized, but everything still looked… well, like plastic. I really had to admire the amount of work that went into each of the sculptures, though. It’s an artform in its own right.
After the exhibit we crashed at my friend’s place, ordered take-out, and talked until all hours. The next morning we got up early and headed out around 9 to explore Harvard and Harvard Square. Taking the T was easy-breezy, and the S.O. only got panhandled once! Good times! I enjoyed my very first (so many firsts!) chocolate croissant from Au Bon Pain, then we wandered over to the Harvard Museum of Natural History (free admission to local residents, so my friend got us in at no cost). I’m pretty sure I visited this particular museum as a child, but I didn’t realize it was so huge. So many exhibits! I particularly enjoyed the minerals exhibit, the glass flowers exhibit, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. I think we spent a good two hours wandering the place and still didn’t see everything, but by that point we needed to think about lunch, since the S.O. and I wanted to head back to Maine around 1 or 2. I did stop at the museum’s gift shop before we left and bought a souvenir – Cranky – the most awesome little wind-up toy. He’s currently sitting on my desk at work, holding up my tag from the natural history museum in his left paw. I’m in love with him, and now I want an army of crazy wind-up toys from Kikkerland.
We also stopped at the Lush body shop in Harvard Square, where I almost lost my sense of smell from sniffing all the fancy soaps and washes and cremes. Mmmm. After fifteen minutes there, everything smelled like cocoa butter – my hands, my clothes, my S.O. (rawr!). When we told him we were going to the Lush shop, the S.O. thought we were talking about a liquor store, and it might as well have been just that! A place to get drunk on smelly stuff, mmmm, smelly stuff. I passed on purchasing anything then, but I might have to order some Chocolate Whipstick lip balm.
Finally, we had a long lunch at UNO’s before it was off into the wild blue yonder. All around, it was a great trip. We didn’t get a chance to do everything I wanted (we never made it out to the pastry shops in the North end, and I would have liked to have spent more time at the museums) but I expected that much. Next time we’ll have to take a couple days off from work and do a long weekend in the city, now that we know a bit more about the area firsthand. Thanks to everyone who recommended things to see and do!
A quick gaming update: The S.O. and I missed it since we were out of town, but our guild finally defeated Ragnaros on Saturday; this was only their second serious attempt, but they got him, even though half the “regular” raiders were off at Halloween parties or touring Boston (*ahem*). Now we can officially say we’ve cleared Molten Core (though I’d like to see it for myself sometime soon!) Since it seems the Burning Crusade expansion won’t hit the shelves until January 2007, it looks like we’ll all have a shot at trying Blackwing Lair as level 60′s. Mmm, more dragons.