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


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


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


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 even if it is--I'm still not telling.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


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


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.