Thursday, August 28, 2014

Together

I had a meeting with a donor this week and she mentioned how glad she was that her work from home husband finally got some office space away from the house.  I mentioned this to my boss yesterday and he sympathized.  His wife would hate it if he were home and underfoot all the time.

I am amazed by this.  These aren't unhappily married couples.  I've seen both pairs together and they're quite happy.  But every morning that Nick is home and I'm headed off to work, he practically begs me to call in sick.  And trust me I'd REALLY love to!  I love my job.  I REALLY love my job.  I work long hours and take it home at night and on weekends and that's just fine with me.  I obsess over my work in the middle of the night--it's what keeps me up much more than worrying about, well, anything else really.  It's a great job and I wouldn't trade it for any other (maybe a promotion or a raise would be nice but even without them, I'm perfectly happy).  But I would so love to spend all day every day home with my husband.  Or out with him.  Or whatever!

When I was living in Kansas City and he would visit, he would come to work with me and sit in a spare cube all day.  When we lived in San Diego, I often spent entire weekends at Sea World, not riding the rides or seeing the animals, but hanging out by whatever ride he was working.  When he worked at the San Diego airport I would go with him on Saturday AND Sunday nights, sit in the food court (right by the Starbucks) and he'd sit with me in between flights and on his lunch hour.  If we can't stay home together, we'll go to work together.  Of course, this was all before we had kids.  I couldn't spend a weekend at the airport now and definitely couldn't get away with not fully exploring Sea World.  We often joke about finding a job where we can both work from home.  Or maybe one day when the kids are on their own, I'll get a job as a flight attendant and we'll travel the country together on the same flights.  I really can't think of a better way to spend my days than with the one person I enjoy most in life.  I'm absolutely thrilled that he enjoys me as much as I enjoy him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Denver

It was December 2002.  I’d been invited to go on a cruise with my then boyfriend (now husband) and his family for Christmas.  I was booked on a flight from Kanas City to Denver and then on to San Diego.  I was still afraid of flying but the excitement of the trip was outweighing my fears.  Also, I hadn't seen Nick in more than three months and had just spent the better part of the last year working out like a fiend and dropping 27 pounds.  In addition, I’d been spending my mornings in the tanning booth so I was a nice golden brown (I know—it’s really just skin damage but I was young and stupid.).  Yes, I looked GOOD! 

I’d planned my airport attire very carefully, wanting to walk off the plane that evening in such a way as to completely turn the heads of every man but most especially, Nick.  I wore a shockingly short tan skirt, black ¾ sleeve turtleneck (a slim cut) and my knee high black boots (my hooker boots—yes).  My hair was piled high on top of my head and put great effort into walking gracefully, sitting gracefully and just generally exuding utter beauty from every place possible.  This was NOT a practical outfit.

Sitting in the terminal in KCI, we were made aware of bad weather in Chicago.  Chicago—who cares?  Well, as it turns out, I did.  Our plane was coming from Chicago and it wasn’t expected to be on time.  I  walked up to the customer service agent, telling myself not to panic.  I was told more or less that I would probably miss my connection, but not to worry, there was a Frontier flight (I was flying United) that I should arrive in plenty of time for. 

Oh, whew!  Great!  He printed off something for me with lots of numbers and letters and said “Here—you’ll need this.”  I went back to my seat feeling much better.  When our delayed flight finally made it, I boarded with only slight nervousness.  Everything was going to be fine.  I’d make it to San Diego in plenty of time.
Or not.

Getting off the plane, there was a gate agent handing out hotel vouchers.  But I didn’t need a hotel voucher.  I had a ticket on a Frontier flight.  I tried explaining this to him but he didn’t seem to believe me. 

“Well, you can try to get over there.”  I would try.  Heading in some direction, I started looking for Frontier.  I was having no luck and time was short.  It was getting late and most things at the airport were closing.  I found a shoe shine man who was packing up his things.

“Excuse me,” I said.  “Can you tell me how to get to Frontier?”

His smile faded quickly to a look of pity.  “Oh…  Head that way—“ he pointed off to the right and I started to walk away.  “No no, you have to listen to me now.  Head that way, get on the train—“ a TRAIN?  As soon as I heard that I knew I would get lost.  I did my best to remember his directions and took off running—no easy feat in my hooker boots.  On my way to the train, I dug out my cell—nearly dead but I called Nick and left him a message with my new flight details.   I would make it—just keep believing it.
On the train, I finally relaxed.  Mostly because there was no other option.  We were packed in like sardines but I found a place to hold on and stand up.  I tried calling Nick again—no signal on the train.  I checked my watch—I had maybe 25 minutes.

Getting off the train I ran through the terminal, doing my best to remember the shoe shine man’s direction.  Finally I make it.

“Is this for San Diego?” I ask in a heaving breath.

“You just made it!”  The gate agent is taking my bag, my coat, asking for my ID.  I practically strip as they search me for who knows what.  I must have looked a fright—completely disheveled.  I’m sure I looked like a security risk of some kind.  But I’d made it!

Or not.

“Where’s your ticket?”  She asked.  I handed over the piece of paper I’d gotten in Kansas City.  “This isn't a ticket.”

“What?  What do you mean?”  I explained to her what had happened.  She’s typing furiously into her computer, shaking her head.  I started to panic.  Tears welled up and I paid them no mind.  What she’s telling me makes no sense.   I do not, in fact, have a seat on this plane.  I am not reserved.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200. 

I’m crying freely now.  Another gate agent has joined us and is trying to reassure me.  “It’s just one night in Denver.  It’s nice here.”

“I HATE DENVER!” I hissed at her.  I have lost all manners.  I was not polite.  I was not forgiving.  I was making an absolute scene.   Finally, the first gate agent says:

“Well, we can put you on the plane but your bags won’t make it.”

“That’s OK!”  I was suddenly cheerful.  My bags and coat are thrown back at me and the gate agent walked me down the jet way to the plane.  I was so grateful.  I thanked the gate agent over and over in between blubbering sobs. 

As I get on the plane, the flight attendant took my bag from me and pointed to the aisle seat in the first row.  I hurried to get my seat belt on.  They had actually held the plane for me.  I looked around and EVERYONE was staring.  The flight attendant leaned down and whispered to me.  “Do you need a drink?”

I just nodded and continued sobbing.  The internal monologue in my head was berating me for my behavior.
‘Stop it!  Stop crying!  You’re on the plane.  What’s the matter with you?’

But I just couldn’t stop.  I was sitting next to a little boy and his mom and I heard her whisper “Don’t stare!”  But everyone was still staring.  I was still blubbering.  The plane finally took off.  I had been using an airplane drink napkin as a Kleenex and it had long stopped working.  My makeup was completely cried off.  My hair was falling.  My eyes were red and puffy and now I was a snotty mess too.  At least my hooker boots were still on!

After I finally calmed down, a nice elderly lady sitting across the aisle put her hand on my arm.  “Are you ok?”  I relayed the entire incident and realized everyone was listening, even the flight attendant.  They were all so sympathetic!  I would have thought that since they were all now delayed because of me that I’d have gotten annoyed comments or harsh sentiments.  But they were all “Oh, you poor thing!”  Maybe Denver wasn't so bad after all. 

After half an hour or so, I was finally able to calm down and stop my blubbering.   I took out a mirror to try to salvage some of my hard fought outer glam.  It was hopeless.  The makeup was long gone.  Puffy red eyes, every blemish showing.  My hair had fallen from its once perfectly curled pile to dangling stringiness. 
Thankfully, when I got off the plane, none of this mattered to Nick.  He was there—just as I knew he’d be—to hold me and let me cry out the frustration and relief.  Of course, my luggage hadn’t made it.  When we went to his house, I finally got to meet his grandmother—my roommate for the cruise.  She’d said she wanted to go to Sea World the next day—Nick was working there at the time and could get us free tickets.  Would I like to go.  Well, sure!  But…


I had no clothes.  I had no makeup.  I had nothing.  Tossing the impractical outfit I’d worn all day into the wash and borrowing pajamas, I finally was able to rest.  The next morning, I put it all back on (hooker boots included) and spent the day completely inappropriately dressed for Sea World.  At least I’d made it.  My luggage was soon to follow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pedicures for Turkeys

I got a pedicure yesterday (ok, so I was trying to induce labor--it didn't work) so my feet are now pretty and swollen as opposed to just swollen.  I've always found feet to be pretty disgusting.  Just ask my friend Amy who was forever putting her feet on me when we were younger just to annoy me, or my dad who was always trying to find a way to put his foot in my ear (long story).  Feet=gross!  Pedicures are actually hard for me to sit through but that's mostly because my feet are really ticklish.  It's generally a pleasant process interspersed with moments of absolute torture.

This week I'm working my way through yet another Max Lucado book, Grace where he's talking about how good deeds don't get us into Heaven and salvation was paid for by Jesus and a debt we owed but He didn't (same old stuff, different book but always worth hearing).  The part I read this morning told a story of a women who was driving along when suddenly a frozen turkey landed on her car, smashing her windshield and shattering most of the bones in her face.  The teen prankster was eventually caught and prosecuted, but the astonishing part of the story was his punishment.  This woman would never look in the mirror again without seeing the effects of what he had done to her.  She was in incredible pain and forever changed.  Yet this young man got a very light sentence.  Even more astonishing was that despite the public outcry,  the victim was the one who suggested a light sentence.  She forgave him.

Max then went on to talk about the part of the last supper when Jesus washed the disciples feet.  He was basically saying that Jesus was cleaning the ugly stinky parts of his disciples and he went through the list of all of them who were selfish or prideful or some other undesirable character trait at some point.  James and John wanted special treatment, Peter would deny Him, Judas...well, we all know about Judas.  Anyway Max then suggested that we all have turkeys in our lives--a spouse, a boss, a friend, someone who treats us poorly when we don't deserve it.  What should we do about it?  Wash their feet!  This woman had washed the feet of her teen turkey thrower just as Jesus had washed the feet of his disciples, just as we are to wash the feet of the turkeys in our lives.

I have a couple of turkeys who particularly plague me and I'm trying to figure out just how I might go about washing their feet.  It's all symbolic, right?  I'm not actually going to touch ANYONE'S feet.  But doing something nice for them, forgiving them for being stupid (ok ok, so that's NOT exactly the lesson here), something like that.

But then I realized something very different about the disciples--at least in the way they are portrayed in the Bible, they would all agree that they were being turkeys.  Peter cried his eyes out after the rooster crowed.  Judas hanged himself for goodness sake!  I think we can all agree that they are being turkeys. But the turkey's in my life would strongly disagree that they are in fact, turkeys.  In addition, the disciples all agreed that their feet were dirty and needed cleaning.  These turkeys, I think, like their dirty feet.  What do you do when the turkey doesn't want his or her feet washed?

Now, I'm not talking about a turkey who has dirty feet, is willing to let me wash them but then walks right back in the mud.  That's an easy answer--you keep washing the feet.  That's what Jesus would say, right?  No, I'm talking about turkeys who like their feet dirty.  I don't think Christ's message would be the same if he'd had to wrestle the disciples to the ground and forcibly scrub their toes.  Can you imagine?

"Just hold still a minute!  Stop squirming!  Your feet are filthy!"  I say that to my children but I didn't see anything like that described at the Last Supper.  They might have felt unworthy but in the end, all gave up their dirt freely.  These turkeys don't seem to want their feet washed.  For example, I bring in a nice cake and give it to my turkey.  "Thought you'd enjoy this."

"I'm trying not to eat carbs," said the turkey.

I bring in the mail for my turkey, saving him a trip to the mailbox.

"I was trying to keep the clutter off of my desk," said the turkey.

So, what can I do?  How does one respond to the call to love thy neighbor (wash thy neighbor's feet) if that neighbor doesn't want to be loved (or have their feet washed)?  I don't think it would go over well if I to chase my turkeys around with a basin and a wash cloth.  I really think these turkeys would rather I just leave them alone.  All I can think is that if Jesus were here having this chat with me that He would tell me to pray that God would soften their hearts.  So I supposed I'll stop chasing turkeys around, keeping the pedicures for myself for now.  Unless anyone out there has a better idea.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not Today

I was so hoping to be posting the details of my weekend labor.  Not so much.  I keep telling myself that it's only 39 weeks.  I'm not overdue.  But I FEEL overdue.  I feel like I should be heading to the hospital any day now.

We tried every trick in the book--spicy food, lots of walking, even a bumpy hayride at the peach orchard yesterday.  Nothing.  Today, more walking and more spicy food.  When I went in for my weekly appointment this afternoon I was fully expecting SOMETHING to happen.  Another centimeter (already at 3) more effacement (just 60%) my water breaking during the exam--ANYTHING to tell me that today is the day.

Nothing.

Well, maybe tomorrow.  I have a pedicure planned to help things along.  Keep your fingers (and toes and anything else you can) crossed!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nick and Jane

Jane Austen was someone that my high school creative writing teacher told me that I would love.  He was right.  While I can't say that I've read all of her books, I've read quite a few.  Sense and Sensibility is my favorite.  I loved the movie when it came out and loved the book even more.

Nick loves a good period film and generally all things British.  We've watched every Simon Pegg movie (and I really love Hot Fuzz), Iron Lady, The Queen and dozens of others.  I suggested watching my favorite Austen movie earlier this week.  After World's End last weekend, I could stand for some intelligent film.  I wasn't surprised that he enjoyed it.  After all, it did star Hugh Grant, whom Nick often refers to as "charmingly befuddled".  Indeed he was in this movie.  Now that he's see this movie, I dared to suggest Pride and Prejudice last night.  But, not to push my luck too far, I also said that 2 Guns was also an option (a nice, violent, guy movie).  Much to my surprise and delight, and after very little consideration, he said he'd rather watch Pride and Prejudice.  What?  What wife could ever hope to be so lucky!

He loved Elizabeth Bennet and her quick and witty tongue and we were both charmed by Mr. Darcy and his reluctant esteem for this Miss Bennet.  Both so affable!

It's a rainy day today in Philadelphia so we have no specific plans (other than maybe attempting to induce labor).  We've explored the options on Netflix and both Emma and Mansfield Park are available to watch instantly.  I'm not sure which of the two of us is more excited .

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uncle Danny

My brother-in-law recently cut his hair.  You might not think that's saying much but until a few days ago, when describing Dan to just about anyone, I would have said that he looks like every picture I've ever seen of Jesus.  Full beard, long (very long) flowing brown hair, blue eyes and tall.  Dan is the only 6'7 person I know where his height isn't necessarily the first thing you notice about him...but then again, he is THE only 6'7 person I know.

Dan is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.  It's no surprise that our girls get more excited to see Uncle Danny than they do their own father.  Let's face it--Dad's lots of fun, but Uncle Danny is much more funner.  He does cool things like surf and ride a skate board (Dad can do these things too, but they always seem to forget that).  Uncle Danny has a dog.  We all remember what a disaster it was when WE had a dog.  Uncle Danny (and Aunt Meagan too) buys them really cool presents like marshmallow guns and bunny hats.  No one else does that.

Despite his gentle nature and kind heart, complete strangers might cross the street when they see him coming or at least be a little frightened.  Perhaps that misguided habit might change now that his once three-foot long tresses are down to a mere 12 inches.  It was a big shock for me when I learned that he'd cut his hair.  It's been this long for many years.  I was far less shocked, however, when I learned that he'd donated it to Locks of Love.  Well, of course he did.

Dan, you're a braver person than I.  My one and only Locks of Love donation happened just after Ivy was born.  I gave 12 inches of my own hair and was left with a shoulder length do that my husband proudly proclaimed was the "mom haircut".  (Note to all fathers--do NOT say this to your wife...EVER.).  Nearly eight years ago, this was my last true haircut.  I've gotten the occasional trim since then but my cautionary tales about hairdressers will have to wait for another post.  It's not that I don't like Locks of Love or respect what they do.  It's just that I like my hair a LOT more.  It's a wonderful thing to donate your hair and after all, it WILL grow back.  I just can't bear to part with mine.  I'm sure a lot of people thought the same thing about Dan.  Oh sure, we thought, he'll cut it SOME day, but not anytime soon.  How wrong we were.

Thank you, Dan for being an example of kindness and generosity to others--especially my children who will look up to you (literally and figuratively) for many years to come (until you're stupid like every other adult in their lives will surely be someday!).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sheldon

I have a friend and former coworker named Sheldon.  He reminds me of my grandmother's old boyfriend, Ed (how many people can say THAT!) mostly because they look the same.  He also reminds me a lot of my dad.  That's for the often predictable yet rarely anticipated sarcasm.  I'd say that Sheldon is interesting, but that's just not doing him justice.  Working with Sheldon was NEVER dull.  He'd say things that would have you doubled over laughing in one breath and things that would make you wonder how he's not yet been fired in the next.

Once we became Facebook friends, the real fun started.

It was a lovely day so I post about the weather.
Me:  Sitting outside enjoying the mid 70's.
Sheldon:  I didn't know you were in your 70's.

I'm eating my daily hard boiled eggs and am having trouble peeling them.
Me:  I hate it when my eggs don't peel.
Sheldon:  I didn't know you were ovulating.

Our dog chewed on EVERYTHING so I post.
Me:  Why does my dog eat sticks?
Sheldon:  It helps them bark!

Then I got pre-emptive:

When driving through several states on our way to Montana, I post at every state line.
Me:  Idaho!  Sheldon--don't say what I KNOW you're thinking.
Sheldon:  Hehehehe.

These are just a few examples of how he lights up my Facebook page.  Now that we don't work int he same office, it's the only way we connect.  And I can honestly say that there are things I almost posted but then deleted in anticipation of what he might say.  It could be that I'm giving him too much credit in those unmade remarks.  But I really don't think so.  Yet every time he posts or doesn't post, I find myself laughing. And if he ever stopped commenting on my post in such a fashion, I'd be worried that he was somehow angry with me. Inappropriate?  Sure.  Rude?  Sometimes.  Funny?  ABSOLUTELY!  I hope he never changes...and I wonder what comments he might post about this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Coffeehouse Mysteries

"Why are you reading that?"  Nick asks, looking at my book.
I frown.  His question is completely ridiculous.  "It's about coffee.  Why wouldn't I read it?"

Now, this isn't Howard Schultze and his building of the Starbucks empire, it's Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mystery series.  THIS is my kind of book!  Not at all the dreaded Twilight series or that horrible Husband's Secret.  Don't get me wrong, it's not winning any literary prizes but it combines two of my great loves--coffee and reading.  GREAT!  Sign me up!  I'm working my way through the series via my library and am on book 8, I think:  Espresso Shot. 

The only troubling thing really is that the series's main character, Claire Cosi, seems to find her way into a disturbingly high number of murders.  She's the owner of a coffeehouse (a very famous one in the book--no idea if it's a real-life reference) and yet somehow murder seems to follow her around.  It's a bit like those Patricia Cornwell novels where the medical examiner keeps finding herself the target of a serial murderer.  She seriously needs to get a new job!  Claire isn't quite so unfortunate--she's not usually the target (though it happens more than once that she's in great peril).

In any case, it's the brain candy I like to indulge in every so often and I've definitely appreciated her tips on making the best coffee.  As fall descends upon me I have quite often found myself craving my own cup of joe while sitting outside reading this book.  In fact, I think I may just go do that!

Home Movies

We've been watching old home movies--the girls call them the Ivy and Iris movies.  It's been fun seeing them when they were babies and thinking how we'll get to do all of this again.  We've found absolute treasures mixed in with the holiday and vacation memories.

"Dad, do you want to play throw the catch?"--Ivy

"Oh WAH TAH!" --Iris  Don't ask me what that means, but she used to say it all the time.

An adorable exchange between Ivy and Nick about Great Grandma Olson's trip to Heaven.

We look at them when they were 1 and 2 and 4 and think how it feels like yesterday that they did these cute things.  And yet still it seems like long ago...

Just this morning, Iris saw my bottle of Tums (a.k.a. pregnant candy for those of you who know) and asked if I had "heart broken".  t was a moment for the camera certainly and reminded me that we really need to take more Ivy and Iris movies...and watch them much more often before these days too are gone.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fall is coming!

Nick and I took the girls to Red Robin for dinner last night.  We had to drive about 45 minutes to get there but it was worth it.  Long gone are the days when we go once or twice a week.  It's been nearly a year since we've been.  As we left the restaurant, I was suddenly reminded of a looming crisis.  We were out of coffee.  I had used up the last of it that morning, having every intention of going to the store on my lunch break (what's a lunch break?).

Fortunately, the crisis was easily averted with a stop off at Shoprite on the way home.  Shoprite is currently my favorite grocery store--they have expectant mother parking.  Finding decent decaf is a challenge here so I often settle for mediocre.  But when it comes to coffee cream, there's really only one suitable option:  Coffee Mate.  Perusing the cream options I nearly picked up creme brulee.  But then, I saw it!  The delicious, aromatic, creamy Peppermint Mocha (cue angelic singing).  This was a sign!  A true sign that fall is coming!

As I sit in my living room this morning, the windows are open.  It's August and 53 degrees outside.  (It's 90 in Phoenix, but not yet 4am there.  Getting up to 105.)  If it's one thing I love about Pennsylvania, it's the weather.  It might get up to 81 today but right now, it might as well be October!  Fall is coming!  I'm ready to pull out my sweaters and boots!  Later today we'll be bar-be-queing in the back yard but for now, I'm going to snuggle up under a blanket, drink my peppermint mocha and enjoy the morning breeze.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What a mess!

The world seems to be falling apart.  I can't keep all of these international conflicts straight.  Palestine and Israel (an old fight); Ukraine and Russia (I think?); Iraq and Isis (not sure who exactly that last one is); and last but not least, looters and the city of Ferguson, MO.  What a mess.

And none of it really makes sense to me.  I can't imagine hating anyone so much that I want to eliminate an entire race of people.  I can't imagine thinking that destroying a city will somehow bring justice to a young man who has gone home to God.  But that's just me.  I know I don't understand it all.  Someone somewhere thinks these fights are worth it.  I have to say that I don't.  Killing other people never feels like the right answer for me.

For all of the extremists who hate Americans, I'd really love to sit down and have a chat over a cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer) and try to really understand why you think I'm so awful.  I'd really like to know.  Maybe we can work it out like human beings.

But in the midst of all of this mess I find comfort in knowing that none of it was a shock to God.  He knew it would all happen and He knows exactly how and when it will all end.  And it isn't happening as He sits idly by.
I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay on them. (Ezekiel 39:21)
God's not sitting around going "Where are the American's in all of this?  Where is the national guard?  Why haven't they declared marshall law or armed the rebels?" or whatever.   By the way, I love how no one ever says anything like "Where is Norway in all of this?"  Why is it always us?  That's a post for another day...

Anyway, my point is I'm not worried.  He's got things under control and it's all part of a plan.  I might not like the plan or understand the plan but really, it's not up to me.  It's His plan.  And like it or not, He's going to do what's best for all of us.

I feel better already!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Write about a scent

Years ago, when I was living in Kansas, I fell in love with the library.  Every week I went and checked out as many books as I could carry.  Sometimes I finished them, sometimes not.  I found the cooking section, the writing section, the Christian living section and of course worked my way through the fiction.  Among the many treasures I found a book called A Writer's Book of Days.  It's a book of writing prompts--one for each day.  I loved it so much I found the book at a bookstore and bought it.  I've had it ever since and have gone through periods of time where I faithfully write a page per day.  Today's prompt was to write about a scent.  The idea is to grab the first image that comes to you and just write without thinking too much.  Eventually, what you want to say will turn up on the page.

The first image I had was very distinct. About a year after I had move to California, I'd been laid off of my horrible job and was working as a temp at a medical research facility.  I was hoping they'd hire me so I worked my behind off (my first fundraising job).  One of my duties was to walk from our building to the main campus building and pick up the mail.  As I was leaving the mail building one day, I noticed a very strong smell.  It was a clean smell--like laundry soap.  I looked around for flowers or something but only the huge torrey pines grew tall around me.  Those were horrible trees--they dropped this yellow pollen everywhere in the spring and didn't look like pine trees at all.  More like a cruel mix of pine tree and oak tree.

But what was that smell?  It took months to identify it--it was the ocean.  Just across the street, I couldn't even see it from where I was.  Those horrid trees blocked it's view (that and the country clubs) so that I could only smell what I could not see.  It was the kind of smell that made me want to turn my nose into it and gulp in as much as possible--following it until I could find the source and then roll around in that smell so I could take it with me.

Years later I would find a pale blue candle in a Yankee Candle store labeled "Ocean Breeze".  It was the very same smell--they had captured it in a jar and now I can smell it here--all the way across the country.

Nick said just yesterday how he missed the ocean--especially the beach.  But we're so close!  Let's go to the beach!  They Jersey shore is just hours away if that.  In nearly two years we haven't yet gone.

It's not the same, he says.

Well, why not?  And by the way, how do you know?  We've never gone.

Because, he says.  The Beach Boys and the Jersey Boys are not the same.

Surely not.  Perhaps next summer we'll venture to the eastern shore and I'll know if it has the same smell.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The End is Near!

At least I hope it is.  I have just three weeks to go until baby Olson arrives (assuming she's on time) and I can not wait!  On the one hand, I'm very excited to hold my baby and finally give her a name.  I can't wait to snuggle her and love her and put her in all of the adorable clothes we have.  Take a million pictures, introduce her to the world and celebrate her first set of holidays.  All that stuff.

On the other hand, I really just want my body back!  It's so true what they say--you forget all of this stuff after babies are born.  I had vaguely remembered how much I dreaded nights.  The waking every three or four hours to go to the bathroom.  How much it hurts getting in and out of bed.  How much I miss sleeping on my back and just how many pillows I require to even lie down at all.  It sounds counter intuitive but I really want to have this baby so I can get some rest!

I miss my morning runs!  I never really thought I would.  I've been walking but even that now is really hard to do for any length of time.  I absolutely hate how run down I feel.  It sounds stupid but I hate not having all of my usual energy.  I don't like having to slow down.  I don't like that I'm winded after walking up one flight of stairs.

I never would have thought how much I miss being able to eat a hot dog.  It's summer for goodness sake and I can't eat a hot dog!  Heartburn!  Oh the heartburn!  I wake up with it.  Water gives me heartburn.  How is this possible?  I can't complain about weight gain though or swelling.  Those things just haven't happened.  I'm lucky in that sense.

All of this stuff happened with my last pregnancy.  I should have known.  Who am I kidding, I did know! Really it could be over any day now.  I spent most of yesterday in false labor (which is just nature's cruel joke!) and I really hope that at the very lest I got a centimeter or two of dilation out of the whole thing.

Of course, I hope she's early.  I hope she shows up a day or two after Nick gets home and I can relax about all of the scenarios of how do I get to the hospital and what will I do with the girls.  But mostly, I hope she's healthy and I try to take comfort in knowing that the entire labor process has already been worked out and planned and that everything will happen exactly as it should.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I just don't care

I'm reading this book, the Husband's Secret.  The jacket cover was so compelling!  A woman finds a letter addressed to her from her husband that she is to read in the event of his death...but he's still alive! Somehow, this letter affects not only her, but two other women that she barely knows.  Wow!  What a premise!  I have to read this!

Um, no.

Sadly, these characters are completely unsympathetic.  I don't like the woman who's daughter was murdered 20 years before.  I don't like the woman who's husband has left her because he's fallen in love with her cousin.  I don't mind the woman who found the letter but I don't really care about her either.  The only person I can identify with and feel defensive towards is the daughter-in-law.  She's a career woman who has a wonderful opportunity that will move her and her family from Australia to New York.  Her mother-in-law is angry because she's taking the grandson away.  Sorry, lady, I don't feel sorry for you.

Now I have a dilemma.  I'm more than halfway through this book.  I know what the mysterious letter says and I know who killed the daughter.  Do I finish the book?  This far in, I feel like I should.  But I just don't care.  To top it off, the person reading the book (it's an audio version) has a very thick Australian accent and some of the words she pronounces-- I just can't stand it.  Niver.  Nuh-ooh.  Theengs.  UGH!  One of the daughters has a lisp--she sounds like she's baby-talking on purpose and I REALLY hate that.

Sigh.  I suppose I will finish it.  Maybe I'll be shocked with a twist ending!  Here's hoping!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

My Dad

My dad’s 58th birthday is coming up.  I had to sit and think about how old my dad will be because in my mind, he’s always about 35.  (Grandma is 42 and I’m just now 26).  But whether he’s 35 or 58 or 110, I have to say I have the coolest dad ever.  I mean, like EVER.  And not just that he’s a great dad (‘cause he is).  But my dad is REALLY cool. 

Growing up, dad was always into music.  He was a drummer and had always had an eclectic musical taste.  He was a station flipper when we were in the car but liked a lot of different stuff.  I remember browsing through his CD’s for some of the stuff that my friends and I were listening to.  He had Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots before I did.  He had Enya before Enya was cool. 

The best present I ever got my dad was tickets to see Stomp.  I remember walking from my dorm room in college down to the Fox Theater to buy the tickets for Christmas.  My older brother and I decided to go in on the gift and as I carried them home, I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face.  I was not disappointed.  We put them in one of those money holder cards and I’m pretty sure he thought they were a gift certificate.  I was absolutely thrilled when I got to go with him to see the show.  And it was REALLY cool.  One of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen. 

Dad and I saw a lot of theater together—we saw Phantom of the Opera, Taming of the Shrew and a couple of other shows I don’t remember the names of.  Just the two of us.  Very cool.

But perhaps the coolest thing about my dad is that at age 58, he’s in a band (actually a couple of them).  He’s out most weekend nights playing the blues into the wee hours and even earning a bit of extra cash doing it.  When my family came to visit us here in Philadelphia this past Christmas, Dad borrowed my car and GPS to head to King of Prussia to play the drums with a bunch of guys he only knew from the internet.  He was out wherever they were playing until about 3am. 


By the time most dad’s are 58, they’re starting to slow down.  But my dad—he’s just getting started.  And that’s pretty dang cool.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Our Secret

I was meeting with a prospective donor yesterday and after we had discussed our work business, the conversation turned casual.  My colleague who'd come along with me is engaged.  I'm clearly quite pregnant.  We chatted about such matters and  he revealed that he'd had two failed marriages, one of which resulted in a teenage son.  His son, he said, was getting ready to go off to college.  This man's advice to his son was that no matter what you may think you're feeling, you will NOT discuss getting married to anyone until you're at least 26 and you've lived together for two years.

We shared a laugh and my colleague said that she'd spend enough time with her fiance (they'd dated for more than five years) to be sure that this would work out.  While I respect the opinions of both of them, I could not help but disagree.  Nick and I didn't live together before we got married.  And we never fight.  Both of my companions were shocked at this news.  Our friend the double divorcee wanted to know what our secret was.

I thought for a minute and said that the only thing I could think to say was that we had learned in 13 years, what's worth getting upset over.  Most of the things that upset us aren't worth fighting about.  He's frustrated when I leave my shoes laying around.  I hate it when he doesn't put dirty dishes in the sink.  Is it worth a fight?  Is it worth half an hour of our limited time together?  No.  The big stuff that we disagree on (where to move to next and the best place to store the vacuum) is better discussed over long periods of time.  We're not going anywhere right now and we've both learned that the decision isn't ours to make and that really, it's already been planned out.  We just have to wait for God to reveal it to us.

It's certainly not a secret.  A lot of people would assume that we get along so well because we're never together.  But I don't think that's true.  We have had long stretches of time when we are together and do live in the same world.  We don't fight then either.  No, I think the secret really is that we were carefully chosen for each other.  We both know that and don't want to mess up the greatest gift God has ever given us--each other.  So we take care of it.  It's not hard and it's not work.  It's the best form of worship I can give.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Acts 5

I was reading this chapter of the Bible tonight, working my way through the book.  It starts out with this guy and his wife, Ananias and Sapphira.  They have this farm or some kind of land that they are to sell and give the money to Peter.  They do this but don't give him all of the money.  It seems to be one of those Adam and Eve type situations except that this time, it's him that does the sinning and her that says "yeah, sure I agree with that".

Well, somehow, Peter finds out about this and just goes off on the guy.  He accuses him of lying not to Peter but to God.  What a horrible thing to do!  Don't lie to God!  Everyone knows better than that.  Well, when Ananias hears this, he falls down and dies!  Then Peter lays into Sapphira, accusing her of the same thing and promising her the same fate.  Then she falls down and dies!

Wow!  Don't cross God!  Other people hear about this and are freaking out!  They don't dare lie to God and presumably, are spared from falling down and dying.  Can you imagine?  Being yelled at by someone you were supposed to help and then falling down dead right there?  Then your wife does the same thing!

Sometimes I wish the Bible read more like a novel.  It would be less shocking.  You wouldn't just fall down and die like that--there'd be some description of thought or emotion or even the rumbling of the sky and the dark clouds rolling in.  There'd be wind whipping all around Peter as he made his accusations.  Ananias and Sapphira would be cowering!  Begging for mercy!  Denying the whole thing!  Something!  There'd be some explanation for it all.

But no.  Just falling down dead.  Just like that.  Wow!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Pictures

A couple of years ago our computer crashed.  We had a few moments of panic because ALL of the pictures of our kids were on that computer.  Thankfully it was recoverable but the computer was toast.  Since that happened, we've been determined to diversify our photo portfolio.  As we were looking through a thousand or so pictures of our babies we saw the last nearly eight years scroll by, one scene at a time. 

We saw our first Christmas after we got married.  We saw Chicago and remembered all of the places we took Ivy when she was just weeks old.  We saw Nick's first class of flight students and the last day we saw Jean-Claude.  We saw Iris grow from the baby she was to the little girl she is.  We saw the family trips and the moves from state to state.  We watched are lives go by and even though it feels like a flash, we're so excited to do it all over again with the next baby.  She'll start her life here but who knows where we'll be in another eight years?  That's the exciting part.  We can look back at where we've been but we're looking forward to where we're going.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cruise Food

Nick and I have been talking about taking an adventure.  Nothing too exciting—we are about to have a baby.  We thought maybe a cruise would be fun and that the girls would like it.  It’s easier than going to China and if we do it right, no one needs a passport.  As we dream up the ideal vacation, I could not help but be reminded of our first (and only) cruise.  It was the fall of 2002 and Nick’s parents were taking their family, including Grandma Olson on a cruise to Mexico over Christmas.  There was room for me so I was invited to share Grandma’s stateroom.  All I had to do was get to San Diego.  No problem! 

There are so many great things about a cruise but perhaps my favorite was the food.  It was all-inclusive so you really could eat anything at any time.  My first experience with the lunch buffet was a gorge-fest which I can at least partially blame on the insane diet I had been on for the past several months which helped me to lose 27 pounds (who on EARTH is bikini ready in December without such drastic measures?).  Of course, feeling disgusted with myself, I resolved to do better next time.

Unfortunately, it only got worse.  Dinner in the formal dining room was like eating at a five star restaurant.  The waiter hands you a menu and you get to choose one thing from each section:  an appetizer, a salad or soup, an entrée, a dessert.  There’s always a list of things on the side as well which are always available.  Looking at the menu, it’s full of things like coconut prawns and coq au vin.  At 23, I have no idea what these things are.  The descriptions don’t help much but I do have to eat something, so I pick something, hoping I like it but not sure.  What if it’s awful?  What if it’s fish?  What if it’s full of mushrooms and peas?  I’d better get something from the a la carte menu that I’m sure I’ll like.  Baked potato!  That’s something I recognize!  Yes, definitely!  I won’t starve!  Plus dessert—always order dessert in case everything EXCEPT the baked potato is inedible.  I will survive this dinner!

They bring the appetizer—it’s AMAZING.  I don’t know what it is but it sure is good.  The salad is equally good, but it’s hard to screw up a salad.  I’m practically licking the plate of my entrée and can’t leave that baked potato all alone (not with sour cream, bacon and butter all over it—that’s just wasteful) so I eat that too. 

Just when I think nothing else will fit into my dress, they bring out coffee and dessert.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  Heavenly—every last morsel.  When we’re finished eating, I roll back to my room, promising to eat more sensibly tomorrow at breakfast.  Fruit—they’ll have fruit.  I’ll get a big bowl of fruit.
Breakfast comes and I’m in line at the buffet.  Ah, there’s the fruit!  I pile it up in a bowl ready to dig in.  That’s when I spot the pancakes.  I love pancakes.  Maybe just two.  Sure.  Pancakes and fruit.  Yes.  That’s it.  Until I see the bacon.  I really love bacon.  Ok, just one or two pieces.  Great.  I have bacon, pancakes and fruit.  I head over to our table and just as I’m set to eat, I realize I’ve forgotten syrup.  I go back up to the buffet and now they’ve got donuts out.  If I love bacon and pancakes I worship donuts!  Just one.  OK, I have syrup and a donut.  Getting back to the table I look at the food before me.  It doesn’t make sense to eat the cold food first, so I dig into the pancakes and bacon.  They’ll be no good if they’re not hot.  I devour the donut and frown at the bowl of fruit.  I’m so not hungry anymore.  But I said I’d eat the fruit!  I eat the fruit.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be better.  FRUIT for breakfast.  Plus, there’s no way dinner tonight is going to be as good as dinner last night.  I’ll go over to the ship’s gym later and get in a good workout. 
As we walk out of the dining room, the all day ice cream bar is setting up.  Oooh.  Ice cream will be good later when it gets hot.  Later.  Later!  Definitely later.  Oh, what’s that?  Butter pecan—my favorite.  I’ll definitely try it later.  It will be good later…and it WAS good later.

I go to the gym and hop on the treadmill.  It’s surprisingly hard to even walk with the way the ship is moving.  I give up after half an hour—nowhere near the 90 minutes I’ve been working out but this is vacation after all.  I’m getting kind of hungry and realize it’s nearly dinner time.  I should head to my room to dress for dinner.  Formal again.

By night two I understand the drill and immediately skip the appetizer section and peruse the salads.  Oh a nice Caesar!  Yes.  Salad is good.  I’m confused by the entrees again but pick something.  What if it’s awful?  Better peruse that appetizer section after all—I think they have some kind of fried shrimp.  I like fried shrimp.  I play it safe and order the baked potato again (plus dessert) and am sure I won’t be as fortunate as last night.  I was wrong.  It was all good.  I ate it all.  Again.  Waddling back to my room I think that there’s no way I can be hungry again for breakfast and even if I am, fruit will be perfect.

I sink into a food coma and sleep it off.  Morning comes and I’m in the buffet line again.  There’s that pile of fruit.  I fill up a bowl.  How is it possible that I’m even remotely hungry?  Then I see the eggs Benedict.  Hmmm.  I’ve always wanted to try those.  They didn’t have them yesterday…which means they might not have them again tomorrow so I’d better get them now if I really want to try them.  I pick them up and head to my table, again, needing to eat the hot food first.  Those eggs were good.  I’m more enthusiastic about the fruit today and eat every bite.  I’m not too stuffed, which makes me feel very proud of myself.  I get up to leave and pass by the ice cream bar again.  I’m fully prepared to walk right past when I see that they have cinnamon ice cream.  Cinnamon?  Wow!  I’ve never had cinnamon ice cream!  They didn’t have that yesterday…which means they might not have it tomorrow, so I’d better get some now.  I’m not too full; I just had fruit for breakfast!  The cinnamon ice cream is amazing.  I’m so glad I got some.  Ok, that’s IT for food today.  I’m spending the rest of the day at the gym!

Except I get motion sickness from the movement.  Ugh.  The remaining five days pretty much go the same way.  Delicacy after delicacy.  New food after new food.  I do not find anything that I don’t like. 

When finally I return home to Kansas City I am afraid to step on my bathroom scale.  In a week I have gained eight pounds.  I can’t even say it was mostly water.  It took a few months to lose it but the memories of that food have never left me.  If I ever go on another cruise I’m 100% certain that the food will be just as amazing and I won’t waste precious calories on potatoes and fruit.  Bring on the buffet!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Writing Practice

Every weekday morning I get up early to spend some always appreciated "me time" with myself and a little time with God.  I kick myself out of bed and into my gym clothes.  Come downstairs where my coffee is waiting, pour a cup and pull out my bag of projects.  I read a bit of my Bible, a short devotion, spend a little time praying and then get down to writing.  My writing practice sessions come from a book I'd found in the library in Kansas City when I lived there.  It has prompts for every day writing practice.  The idea is that you find the date, write the prompt at the top of a page and then just start writing for however long you planned to write.  For me, I try to get in a page every day.  The prompts are sometimes simple ("Write about the moon") and sometimes are things I just don't get ("Write of something done in a small moment" huh?).  But I give it my best 4am effort.  Sometimes it's great.  Sometimes it's awful.  Whatever the case, it's always finished.

I like to use them to write down memories I don't want to forget.  The little things my kids do.  The early days of my marriage that were so completely different than life now.  The things I think in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.  Thinking through opinions I have that I wouldn't discuss in mixed company.  The sad memories.  The painful memories.  The ones that have shaped me into who I am.  The mistakes I've made.  The successes I've enjoyed.  The near misses and missed opportunities.

I write them down so I won't forget.  So I can look back to fifteen or twenty years ago--peeking through a hole in the wall at something I can only remember through the lens of my younger self and see it now from a different angle.  So many things make sense to me now that didn't then.  The reasons for the pain and sorrow.  What it must have meant to someone else who'd made a sacrifice for me.

The adult insight into my child's mind sometimes provides clarity and understanding.  Sometimes it just makes me angry and renews a sense of hatred for that moment in my history.  But I am glad for the memories.  I am glad that I can point to the things that have built me, one piece at a time.  Despite some of the more difficult pieces, I rather like who I've become.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Delivery

I've done something stupid.  With just five weeks to go in my pregnancy, I should not be watching documentaries on birth.  I just shouldn't.  But I did.  It's bad enough that I get scared by my doctor, ultrasound technician, flabotomist and anyone else providing some type of treatment for my prenatal care.  I don't need to be scared by Rikki Lake and a bunch of granola midwives on a farm.

Because I'm old and fat, I'm at greater risk of all sorts of things:  cromosomal defects, spina bifida, premature birth, misscarriage, a too large baby, a too small baby and a whole bunch of other scary stuff.  Good thing hospitals are there to intervene if I need it.  Whew!  Then I watch this movie and it tells me that just delivering in the hospital can put me at greater risk for unnecessary induction, c-section, a lethargic baby, being strapped to an IV, pitocin (NASTY stuff) and best of all, these things could kill me.  STAY AWAY from hospitals.  Have that baby at home.

Who's right?  I have no idea.  I know two people who've had successful home births (one of them is my mom!).  And they both thought they were great.  I myself had two epidurals and definitely thought they were great.  Decisions decisions!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dallas

In the summer of 2008, Ivy was not quite 2 and Iris was due in about four months.  My brother Andrew was graduating from the 8th grade and I was headed to St. Louis to attend the ceremony.  Nick and I had just spend the weekend moving from one apartment in Phoenix to another.  His parents had driven in from San Diego to help.  After a very difficult night’s sleep, Ivy and I headed to the airport quite early in the morning.  So early, that I decided it was more practical to keep her in her pajamas and change her at the airport once we were through security.  I was always nervous flying with a purchased ticket, which we hadn’t done often since Nick left Southwest for Mesa.

We made it in plenty of time and once through security, Ivy and I headed for the changing station.  She’d pooped!  Great!  A steady one poop per day kid, I was glad to have that out of the way early.  I cleaned her up and changed her clothes.  We were both in good spirits and ready to take on a day of travel.  As I was putting things back in our diaper bag, however, I noticed that I only had two diapers in my carry-on.  Wow.  Well, again, good thing the daily poop was out of the way.  We headed to our gate and waited.  Boarding our VERY full flight, Ivy and I had a window seat.  It was about two and a half hours to Dallas where we’d have time for lunch and maybe even a nap before our last leg.

We settled in for the moderately long flight—plenty of toys, books, a movie if we needed it.  After taking off, maybe twenty minutes into the flight, she poops again.  Seriously?  What the heck?  Ok, no problem—I would just wait for the seatbelt sign to go off and head to the lavatory to change her.  Except it wasn’t going off.  Turbulance was heavy and we were instructed to stay in our seats.  Well, sorry everyone nearby—you’re gonna have to smell her.  There was NO room to try to change her on my lap with every seat filled.  She didn’t seem particularly bothered by it so we just continued on.  It wasn’t that bad.

Landing in Dallas, we quickly checked the monitors for our next gate.  Delayed.  Ok.  No big deal.  Just another hour.  Now we had plenty of time to change, eat and figure out where we were next headed.  To the bathroom we went.  A very pregnant mom needed to use it too.  Cleaned up (and down to one diaper), we found a McDonalds and ate French Fries and chicken nuggets—a rarity since we were vegetarians but kid friendly veg food was scarce in all airports, let alone one in Texas.  Finding our gate, we sat on the floor and hung out for the extra hour.  I called my dad to let him know our status so he wasn’t waiting longer than necessary.  Just an hour.  No big deal. 

About thirty  minutes before boarding, the gate agent made an announcement.  Our gate was changing.  Unfortunately it was on the other side of the airport but we’d have plenty of time to get there because the flight was delayed another hour.  Ok.  Not great but we might as well head over there.  Ivy and I packed up and headed for the airport train (yes, a train) to another terminal.  As I settled her into her stroller, I noticed the familiar smell.  Yes, another poop.  What on Earth had grandma fed her yesterday?  Fine.  Our last diaper was on (along with our spare outfit by this point) and we headed for the correct gate.  As we walked, I had a heart-to-heart with my one and a half year old. 

No more pooping, OK?  We’re completely OUT of diapers.  She gurgled and smiled and I took it as a good sign.  The train was a bit of a walk but once on, we could sit.  Traveling to the next gate, I called Dad again.  Another delay.  Fine no problem.  We’re doing ok.  When we got to our gate we were met with more of a delay than we’d originally thought.  Now we were looking at about a two and a half hour delay.  Great.  Fine.  No problem.

We played for a while and then I heard the unmistakable grunting of my child pooping.  You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.  Well, what now?  I have no diapers.  Our plane is boarding in thirty minutes.  I can’t just NOT deal with this.  I head to the nearest airport convenience store.  Do you have diapers?  No but try gate 24.  At gate 24, do YOU have diapers?  No, but try 36.  Gate 36 do YOU have diapers?  PLEASE?  Yes!  Hallalujah!  I pay ten dollars for three-one size fits most diapers and it is the best money I’ve ever spent.  Ten minutes to board—I’ll change her in the stroller once we get back to our gate.  We’re rushing through the airport and make it to our gate with minutes to spare.  I can change her in a rush!

As I push back the awning of our stroller, I see that my child is fast asleep.  Well, of course she is!  But I can’t not change her, so I wake her up and with less finesse than most mothers, get her changed and back in her pajamas (pooped right through the spare outfit).  OK!  We’re ready.  Let’s GO! 

Another announcement.  Gate change and yes, another delay.  WHAT?????  You mean I have to get BACK on the train?  AND we’re delayed?  I was supposed to have landed already.  But at least we don’t have to rush.  We head back to the train.  This pregnant mom was beyond exhausted and now HATING everything about the Dallas airport.  Ivy was now cranky at having been woken from her far too short nap.  Another call to dad. 
Sitting on the train back to our first gate, I try to keep it together.  I am uncomfortable, hot, tired and my nerves are shot.  My phone rings—it’s my mother-in-law.  Are we there yet?  I completely break down.  No we’re not and I’m losing my mind.  I give her our poop-escapade not caring at all that I’m on a crowded train.  Across the aisle from me is a woman with a sleeping toddler on her shoulder.  She hears my tale of woe and wordlessly reaches into her bag, pulls out two diapers and hands them to me.  God bless you was all I could think to say to her in my blubbering mess. 

We arrive at what I hope will be our final gate and have plenty of time to waste.  I spot a Starbucks and decide that pregnant or not, I am in desperate need of coffee and I don’t want to share.  I order a Frappuccino for me and one for Ivy.  I don’t care who sees my child slurping on her very own cup of coffee.  She’s thrilled.

We find a seat and sit.  I try to decompress as our plane finally pulls up to the gate.  We’ll be boarding soon.  Ivy and I finish our coffee and board the plane.  She even gets her own middle seat.  Great!  This plane isn’t nearly as full as the last.  In about ninety minutes, we’d be there. 

Everyone is strapped in and ready to go.  Ivy starts to fade and I pull her into my arms, hoping, praying that she’ll sleep for the entire flight.  Just as she nods off, the pilot comes on.  It will be just a few more minutes. 

And a few more…

And a few more…

What was going on?  We’d been sitting on the plane for nearly 45 minutes.  The pilot asks us all to please be sure we have all electronic devices off.  Something is interfering with the communication system on the plane and they can’t figure out what it is.  We all check and double check.  Still we sit.  It isn't until another plane lands and notices the same problem when they pull INTO the gate that we try pulling AWAY from the gate to see if it goes away…and it does.  We’re now more than four hours delayed but finally cleared for takeoff.  Just as we get into the air, Ivy wakes up…and poops.  I can not believe it.  I am flabbergasted.  I’ve lost count of how many poops we've had.  I wait for the seat belt sign to go off but then I realize that it’s not just a poop—it’s an explosion.  It’s leaking through the pajama pants she’s wearing and is now on my pants.  Great.

We do our very best to change her in the seat but there’s poop everywhere.  Her pants are done.  My pants are done.  There’s poop on her shoe, on the side of the plane—it’s everywhere.  Wipes are only so effective in a situation like this but we do our best.  When finally the plane lands, Ivy proudly walks down the aisle pant-less and wearing only one shoe.  I’m a sight to see with poop on my pants, mascara cried off a long time ago and my pregnant waddle.  We make our way to baggage claim.

As soon as I see my dad, I crumble into his arms.  As they wrap around me I hear my little brother.
“Sissy what’s wrong?”  Followed by my dad’s quiet but forceful “Shut up Andrew.”


As we wait for our bags I re-tell the tale.  I’ve never been so glad to be anywhere in all my life.  In all of the chaos, I’ve misplaced the poop covered shoe.  It is on a plane somewhere and I just don’t care.  I never want to see Dallas again.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Names

Everyone wants to know if we've picked a name for our new baby yet.  We haven't.  But even if we had, we're not telling.  It's hard picking out someone's name.  They'll carry it for the rest of their life.  I remember all of the teasing I got about my name when I was young and it still grates on me when the occasional immature idiot sings Rockin' Robin when they  meet me.  Kids are cruel and will find something to make fun of with any name.  Adults have absolutely no excuse.

So when Nick and I settled on names for our first two children we kept them to ourselves.  It wasn't that we thought we might change our minds but more that we didn't want to see the reaction on people's faces when we told them.  Even if they insist they won't react--they do.  The non-reaction is a reaction.

Now, everyone assumes that we'll pick a name that starts with "I" or some kind of flower or plant.  The truth is that we didn't plan any type of theme with our kids names.  It just happened that way.  We heard both names on a movie and were simply inspired--that's it!  That's the name!

So far, no movie has so inspired us.  I can't say it won't be an "I" name or some kind of plant.  But eve if it is--I'm still not telling.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Philanthropy

I've been reading (well, listening to actually) this book called Never Eat Alone which is all about relationship building and networking.  Overall, it's pretty interesting, but yesterday I came across a section in which the author referred to fundraisers as having the "unenviable job" of asking people to willingly part with their hard earned money.  He gave the impression that he thought fundraisers had a job that no one in their right mind would want to do and thank goodness some poor souls were willing to take it because he sure wasn't about too.  Sales was much easier.

I have to say, I took exception.  A LOT of people envy my job!  I mean, not mine specifically but the ability to say, everyday, that what you do is helping people.  Sure everyone in my office can do that (even the non-fundraising staff--but really, everyone is a fundraiser) but it spoke to the common misconception that fundraising (we in the field call it development) is all about going to parties, rubbing elbows with the wealthy and getting all you can out of people you meet.  There's sometimes a disdain from non-development people who think my job is going out to lunch all the time (which I do get to do but I wouldn't call it a perk) and that we're somehow doing the dirty work.  Fundraising is a necessary evil and we should keep our pure program people well away from the dirty money.

People who see it that way are missing the point.

Fundraising/Development/Philanthropy is NOT about money.  It's not about wealthy people or squeezing the very last dime you can out of someone.  Philanthropy is about seeing wrong in the world and having the desire to invest in the righting of those wrongs.

Most people look around and see the unfairness of life and want to do something about it.  It might not be long term or any type of grand gesture but every time you see one of those commercials where the puppies and kitties are looking through the bars of their cages or cowering in the rain because some heartless human left them out in the cold you are compelled to act (even if it's just changing the channel because the images are too harsh).  You hear a story on the news about a tornado that left hundreds or even thousands without homes.  You see a truck full of pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse.  A dead deer on the side of the road.  These things point out the unfairness or cruelty of life.  Most people are moved to action by one of these things--even if that action is only to feel something.

But what do you do about it?  Most people don't have the first clue.  But a brave few have put feeling into action and created a plan to change things.  But they can't do it alone.  They need others who believe what they believe to invest in their plan.  It's not always money--it can be time or expertise but usually, money is the easiest way for people to get involved and feel like they're making a difference.  The amount doesn't matter.  If you believe in the plan, do what you can to see that it succeeds.  That's philanthropy.  My job is to find people who believe in the mission of the organization I work for.  If there are others out there who think our plan can right a wrong, I want to get to know them and help them see how whatever they are doing to further our cause is working and that we are moving forward because of them.

Now tell me--who wouldn't want to do that for a living?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Setting up the Nursery

Even though this is our third child, it's the first time Nick and I have really ever set up a nursery.  I have to say it was a lot of fun.  Ivy was born into a 1 bedroom apartment--we carved out a corner of the room and that was her room (of course, her stuff took up more space than the both of ours combined so really, she gave us a generous portion of the bedroom and slept wherever she felt like it).  We moved three more times before she had a room of her own and even then, she still slept most nights in her car seat.

We moved into a three bedroom apartment when Iris was on her way but had to make one of those rooms a den of sorts, and Ivy was still using the crib when she arrived so once again, the new baby had a corner of a room and slept in her car seat.  Six months later, in our first house, she was upgraded to the pack and play.

This time around, we're still re-purposing another room but it's much more "on purpose".  We have one of those useless rooms--a formal living room--that we had used for a den/TV room for the girls.  Our formal living room is really our only living room and probably our most "adult" room--the furniture all matches and was carefully chosen for THAT room.  It's a great room!

We moved the den to the basement and eliminated our guest room, so now, baby get's a full half of a room!  Remarkably, we were only missing one piece of the crib that has traveled across the country three--no, four--times and let's face it, bolts aren't really that important (kidding!).  Our changing table had long since collapsed along with our rocking chair but we still have a dresser and most of the other baby things.  At least, that's what I thought.

As it turns out, a large portion of our baby stuff has expired.  That's right, expired!  Now, I'm not talking about formula or food or perishable items.  We're talking car seats here!  We saved four of them--FOUR!  They're all expired.  Can someone tell me how car seats expire?  I mean really!  We were never in an accident with them and none ever came close to any type of breaking of any parts.  Naturally, our infant seat fit perfectly into BOTH of our strollers.  Add that to our bassinet, high chair and crib mattress and we're back to buying all new stuff.

So, after hours of hunting down those precious screws and bolts to the crib, we all headed off to the Spend Ooodles of Money on Your Unborn Child store...uh, I mean Babies R Us, and created a baby registry.  It was more for window shopping really.  I'm not expecting a huge baby shower or anything like that but now, we've picked it all out and can buy one piece at a time without needing multiple trips to make a decision.  Plus, if someone asks what we need, we can just point them to our registry.

All in all, putting things up was really a lot of fun and with just 8 weeks to go, the end feels nearer than ever.  I'll spend the next week sorting through and folding little tiny baby girl outfits which sounds like torture but I'm really excited about that too.  It's making the sleepless nights and painful morning runs more worth it.  Two more months to go!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Eclipse

I know what you're thinking.  After my multiple rants more than five years ago about Twilight, why have I continued to torture myself.  The short answer is, I don't know.  I honestly don't know.  But it popped up in my Netflix queue and I couldn't stop it in time.  That's an excuse of course.  IT only made it IN to my Netflix queue because I put it there.

The truth is, the movies aren't that bad. They're not that good, but they're not that bad.  The movies escape the bad narrative.  They escape the wretched praise of life in Phoenix.  However, the one thing they can't escape is the dreadfulness that is Bella Swan.  Ick.  UGH!  I just don't understand what these two boys (and they really are boys) see in her.  Why on earth are they risking their lives to save her?  And why oh why is everyone trying to kill her?  She's not that pretty and there's really nothing spectacular about her.  If I were her, I'd save everyone the trouble and join a convent or something.  Seriously!  Put everyone out of their misery!

Eclipse was just as bad as the others.  Except now I have a bit less respect for Bryce Dallas Howard for making an appearance.  What's the attraction?  I would love to know.  Maybe i keep watching the movies in hopes that they get better.  I can't say I'll watch the next one (whatever it is).  But I can't say I won't either.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Doctors are Everywhere

Doctors are everywhere.  At least they seem to be when you’re pregnant.  Complete strangers are suddenly giving me advice on how I should be behaving. 

“You know you’ll have to stop running soon.”

“Pregnant women really shouldn't wear heels like that.”

“Don’t you think you should stop drinking coffee?”

People, please.  That last one is just ridiculous.  No, I don’t think I should stop drinking coffee and you don’t want me to do that either. 

It’s a shock to me that total strangers feel that it’s OK to say these things to me.  My childless brother once gave me tips on how to deal with morning sickness but he at least knows me and is married to a midwife.  The others really have no excuse.  Even if they are doctors, they’re not MY doctor.  MY doctor, by the way, is thrilled that I’m still running 3 miles a day at 24 weeks.  The nurses in my doctors office always complement me on my shoes as I take them off to stand on the devilish scale (every ounce helps).  They did tell me to cut back on coffee, which I did.  Six cups of decaf instead of 12 cups of regular.  That’s major progress if you ask me.

I just really can’t understand why people would be so bold (not to mention rude) as to say these things to me or anyone else for that matter.  Would they go into a McDonald's and say to an overweight person, about to dig into an extra value meal “Should you really be eating that?”.  NO!  Of course they wouldn't.  Why?  Because it’s none of their business!  Same thing here.  Don’t touch my belly.  Don’t give me medical advice and never, EVER, try to take away my coffee. 


What’s really interesting is that it’s never men who say these things.  Only women.   I wonder if it’s because the men know they have no idea what a pregnant women should or shouldn't do.  Ladies, you could learn a thing or two here. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Best Teachers

Yesterday Nick and I were talking about feeling guilty for not spending more time with our kids—particularly the fact that neither of us stay home and Ivy and Iris have gone to daycare more or less since infancy.  Nick and I both had brief stints at being a stay-at-home parent when Ivy was young and we both knew without a doubt that it wasn't the life for either of us.  I think he feels the guilt more than I do since he’s gone for days at a time and I’m home every night (more or less), but the girls have a hand in that as well.  They’re VERY good at giving him the puppy eyes and sulking around when he’d rather do something for himself or (GASP!) spend time with me than play with them. 

I've had the occasional snide remark sent my way about how selfish I am for working or even how unfortunate I am for not being able to financially manage staying home with my kids.  I do my best not to engage or simply state that I am a better mom when I can go to work every day.  But it’s really much more than that.

I’m simply not the best person to spend all day every day with my kids.  I’m not the most qualified or the most able to give them everything they need to make the most of life in this world.  Don’t get me wrong—there are LOTS of things I’m great at, but even more things that I’m not so great at.  I firmly believe that there are better qualified people out there to teach my kids a lot of what they need to know.  I've done my best to find them and will happily pay them for their time and expertise.  I've only been a mom for seven years and though I like to think I’m getting better at this whole parenting thing, I haven’t yet experienced the teenage years or high school from this side of the fence yet.

I’m not the best person to teach Ivy math (especially this Common Core stuff.  I’m so confused!).  Her 1st grade teacher is.  I’m not the best person to teach her how to interact with other seven-year-olds.  I have VERY little experience with it.  Her 1st grade teacher has been at this for years!  She knows how to do it and I can trust that she’ll treat my daughter the same as everyone else.  I couldn't do that.  I notice it every Thursday at Girl Scouts—I either give my daughters extra attention or less than everyone else.  But it’s really hard for me to stop being their mom and ONLY be a Girl Scout leader.  I just can’t do it.  Am I the best mom to be the Girl Scout leader?  (I’m the MASTER of circle time!)  No, probably not, but I’m not any better or worse than the other moms so I might as well do it. 
I’m not the best person to teach my girls how to play the piano, so I've hired someone else to do that.  She’s the best and she does a much better job than I could, despite my 13 years of lessons.  I’m not even the best person to teach them how to be a good sister!  I wasn't that great at it when I was their age—a fact I’m sure my older brother could attest to. 

Now, I’m absolutely the best person to teach my girls how to be a good wife and mother.  I’m the best person to teach them how to make the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookies (‘cause I’m the ONLY one who knows how!).  I’m the best person to teach them a good work ethic, how to be a good working mom and how to trust God for everything.  Not because I know how to do those things but because I’m the one they’re going to look to for guidance and I’m the one they’re going to expect to show them such behavior.  Nick is the best person to teach them how a husband should treat his wife and what to look for as they consider the right father for their children. 

Neither of us is the best person to teach them about heart-break—their first boyfriend will take care of that.  But we’ll teach them how to get over it and how to move on.  I’ll never be able to teach them how to handle divorce.  Someday, one of us will have to teach them how to handle the loss of a spouse.  I’m not looking forward to that lesson any more than they might be. 


There’s plenty I’m going to teach my kids but shapes and colors, algebra and chemistry are not among them.  Far better people out there are more qualified than me and would do a much better job.  I want my girls to have a variety of teachers they can look up to.  And I am the best person to ensure that happens.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Birthday

I love my birthday.  No, I mean really.  Like a five year old at Chuck E. Cheese.  It’s my favorite day of the entire year, second only to Christmas.  I LOVE IT!  It’s one day that’s only about me.  I get to be selfish.  I get to expect people to focus on ME.  When people forget my birthday, I get a little upset.  My husband, poor soul, learned this the hard way. 

When we were dating, he forgot my birthday twice.  He had some lame excuse the first year, like being in intensive care at the hospital for mono.  And the second year, he thought having Lasik surgery and being in lots of pain was a good enough reason to let the day pass.  (Please!)  But by the third year, he finally understood and sneaked out of his room while serving in the Navy’s Officer Candidate School to use the phone to call me on my birthday.  (Yes, it was breaking a military rule and he took a big risk, but it was MY BIRTHDAY!)

After that, it became the Robin Olson Birthday Extravaganza!  No longer a day but an event!  The first year we were married, I got a surprise trip to San Francisco for the day.  Now we’re talkin’.  Last year we spent the day at Hershey Park.  And this year—well, this year is one for the books as well.  We spend the evening downtown at a fancy dinner and then, dressed in our finest, took in a play—The Phantom of the Opera.  Yes, the weather was awful and we lost the car, but it was still AWESOME. I got flowers and half a day off at work plus double bonus birthday rewards at Starbucks when I used my birthday reward (free coffee!) and got a coupon for another free drink 'cause I had to wait too long.  Boy, do they know me!  Cookbooks, new CD's and cards came from my family and a Starbucks gift card from the in-laws.  Perfect.

Now, most years, Nick and I have strangely not been in the same city on my birthday.  And it’s not always him that’s gone.  After the first disastrous year, he was in San Diego and I was in Kansas City for two years running.  Then he was in Florida while I was in San Diego.  Almost every year after that, one of us was traveling.  That doesn't mean anyone is off the hook by the way—in 2009, I was in New Orleans for work and was taken out to Emeril’s restaurant.  Holy wow!


In all reality, though I really don’t care about presents or any of that.  I just want it remembered.  Make a bit of a fuss.  Say happy birthday.  Send me a card.  Something—anything to let me know that you remembered today was the day I was born.  I’ll return the favor on your day.  If you don’t know it’s my birthday, don’t worry!  I’ll be sure to let you know.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Coffee Control


I would never call myself a control freak.  Many who know me might disagree, but I’m not someone who HAS to have control.  It’s more that I think SOMEONE should have control and when no one seems to, I’m happy to step in and assume the role.  For example, I once noticed my husband struggling to cook dinner in the kitchen.  Clearly, he did NOT have control, so I helped him out by taking over.  There’s nothing wrong with that, right?  Now, he clearly DOES have control when he’s using the bar-be-que and I’m happy to stay out of it.  He’s definitely in control when it comes to mopping floors and I can easily stay out of that too. 

I’m NOT a control freak.  I AM, however, an absolute freak when it comes to my coffee (big shock, I know).  One of the many things I’m very picky about are those little two inch wide sleeves that slide onto the end of, say, a cup at Starbucks that keep your hand from getting too hot when carrying your cup o’ joe (or in my case, a venti, decaf, non-fat, peppermint mocha with whip).  It’s not an issue in the summer, of course, when I have it iced or blended, though I do use them for my kids when we get spinners (that’s the Irisism for icee, slurpee, whatever—‘cause the dispenser spins, get it?) so their little hands don’t get too cold.  I never use them for myself.  NEVER!  NOT EVER! 

I’m not trying to be macho or suggest that my coffee isn’t hot.  Nor are my hands less sensitive than anyone else’s.  I don’t have calluses that keep my sense of touch from being scalded and I am not a glutton for pain.  What I do have is a very strong aversion to being told where to place my hand when it comes to holding my coffee.  When I reach for my java, my hand is no less than an inch from the bottom of the lid rim.  Using that sleeve would force my hand to be much lower—around the middle of the cup.  Maybe I have big hands.  Maybe my 24oz cup habit is causing the sleeve to sit lower that it might on smaller cup.  I wouldn’t know—I don’t use small cups. 

And as I sit here with a burn on my left forefinger from standing in line at the gas station for longer than usual, I still refuse to use a heat sleeve.  Stubborn?  YES.  Control freak?  I still say no (then again, it could just be my stubbornness talking).

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Car Maintenance

I love my car.  I love it so much that when I first had a car I named him Craig.  Craig has been reincarnated three times since we first started driving together.  He was first a Hyundai Excel.  After that body died, he was reincarnated into the body of a Saturn.  After that, he had a brief stint as a Toyota Avalon before finally becoming the Corolla that he is now.  As much as I love Craig, I HATE dealing with my car.  It’s something I think most women feel—certainty that we’re getting ripped off just because we’re women and presumably don’t know any better.  I did get ripped off (almost) once with my first car.  I took it to the place my dad told me to  for a safety inspection and came out with a bill for far more than I’d ever had at one time in my meager college student checking account.  They listed item after item that needed to be fixed in order to pass inspection.  I left, telling them not to do anything until I talked to my dad.  He took one look at the estimate and knew I was being fed a line of you-know-what.  He then went up to the shop and was recognized immediately.

“Hey Mike, how’s it going?”

“Well I’m a little confused at the estimate you gave my daughter here.”  That’s right, his daughter.  Suddenly things had changed.

“Oh, well, that’s just what we recommend.”  Uh huh.  A more modest few hundred dollars later and I had a car that passed inspection.  Ever since then, I've always sent my husband or my dad to do my car “dirty work”.

Now that I've moved too far for daddy to rescue me and Nick is gone four out of seven days a week, I've often had to deal with Craig’s minor maintenance issues on my own.  It wasn't so bad in Arizona when we had a nice factory warranty and anything the Toyota dealer wanted to do was covered.  Not so much anymore. 

Last week, Craig needed an oil change.  I took it to Jiffy Lube on my lunch hour, expecting them to find something else wrong with it and of course they did.  New air filters (inside and out—whatever that means), new windshield wipers (which I’m pretty sure I did need) and they wanted to rotate my tires. 

I’m convinced that tire rotation is a scam.  It used to be every 10,000 miles they recommend it.  Now it’s every 5,000.  I only get my oil changed every 5,000 miles (recommended by the dealer) so now, I need a tire rotation EVERY TIME?  What’s the point?  They say it’s so the tires wear evenly.  Well why do I need that to happen?  That just means that when I need one new tire, I’m gonna need four!  I’d rather they wear unevenly and only replace one at a time.  THAT seems to make more sense to me. 

Not a few days later, I was getting ready to leave for work and Craig decided he didn't want to start.  It was lightly snowing so I got the girls out of the car and called AAA.  The guy showed up, revved my engine a bit and tells me my car has a cold.

What?  Excuse me, do I have STUPID written across my face? I must have because that’s the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. 


No, really—my car is congested.  I need to have my fuel injectors cleaned.  OK—whatever.  The car was started so off to work I went.  Nick can deal with that when he gets home from wherever he is.  The last thing I’m going to do is go into a car store (or whatever they call them) and say, “My car has a cold.  Can I get some car Sudafed?”  I don’t think I’d be taken seriously at all.