Friday, December 20, 2013

Carmageddon - The Messiest Family Car in America

This morning, I took Emmy and Oren to a mommy group "festive cookie decorating get-together" at one of the mommy leaders' houses. It was a well-attended event, and by the time the kids and I arrived at the house, the driveway was already packed full of family-friendly vehicles. So I parked our car on the sidewalk, helped the kids out of their car seats, and we made our way up to the house.

On our walk up the driveway, I gave in to my voyeuristic urges, and peeked inside the windows of all the other mama cars. I wasn't scoping out their car seats, or sizing up their interior upholstery. I was on a mission to find out if the other parents' vehicles were in the same state of horrible messiness our car is always in. It's gotten so bad, I've nicknamed the poor Hyundai "Carmageddon."

It's not that I don't clean. I DO. Just maybe not ENOUGH. And, seeing as I play chaperone to a 3 year old girl and 1 year old boy, the cards are seriously stacked against me.

Whenever we get into the car, my daughter decides she is dying of thirst, and my son starts screaming for a snack, so I grab a juice box and a bag of pretzels. As soon as I put my key in the ignition, my daughter goes to town, spilling as much of her juice box as possible all over her skirt, her car seat, and the floor beneath her. My son eats half of the pretzels I give him, and then throws the other pretzel pieces in the air like its New Years' Eve confetti.

And every time we leave the house, my daughter has to bring an entourage with her. She will tell me that her BFF pink kitty cat needs to come shopping with us, and her plastic dinosaur wants to come along to make sure we don't get in an accident, and we need to drop her My Little Pony off at pony school. She also wants to bring a toy to play with (because the other things are her FRIENDS, not her TOYS), some markers and paper so she can write HER shopping list (which consists of the letter "E"), a musical instrument, and a ball to throw at my head while I am driving.

Also, both of my children seem to be somewhat obsessed with taking their clothes off in our car. We will leave our home totally clothed in seasonally appropriate outfits, but by the time we arrive at our destination, the kids have stripped down to their underwear and sunglasses, looking like they are headed to the beach. I swear, it can be the dead of winter, with wind chills in the negative teens, and my son will still think the car has a "no shirt, no shoes, NO PROBLEM" policy.

So every afternoon, after my children and I return from our play dates and shopping excursions, the car looks like it is has just barely survived a nuclear explosion. Pink kitty cat has found refuge underneath the front passenger seat. Plastic dinosaur is floating in a pool of juice in a side door compartment. My Little Pony is nibbling on pretzel crumbs that have been smooshed into the seat cushions, my children's shoes are having a secret meeting under the driver's seat, and the back of the passenger seat has been "tagged" with red marker. Total Carmageddon.

I'd probably be a little more motivated to keep the car spotless if I thought the car could STAY clean for, say, more than twenty seven seconds. But I know better. I know that the minute I finish vacuuming up the pretzel crumbs and scrubbing juice off the carpet, my daughter is going to beg for more juice, my son is going to scream for another snack, and fourteen stuffed animals are going to be hitching a ride to the supermarket. Why fight fate?

But every time I see a spotless family car, with no sign of crumbs, clothes, or kitty cat friends, I am filled with envy and wonder. Do other parents just deny their children snacks in the car? Do they refuse to give rides to hitchhiking stuffed animals? Do they glue their children's shoes to their feet? Or do they just spend an hour cleaning up the car at the end of each day? 

Which kind of parent are you? If you manage to keep your car clean, how DO you do it??? Is it sorcery?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Fruit Roll-Up Story

I was just about to back out of the driveway, so that we could drop my husband off at his parents' house, when Emmy asked for a snack. I ran inside the house to grab a fruit roll-up.

I hate fruit roll-ups - always have, always will - but my daughter LOVES them. She doesn't even bother unwrapping the plastic that the roll up is stuck to. She just takes the whole roll - wrap and all - and sticks it in her mouth. Purple colored drool starts spilling out the corners of her mouth, and she looks like a toddler with a chewing tabacco addiction. Don't get me wrong, I don't CONDONE this behavior. I try to show her the civilized way to eat a fruit roll-up. She watches my instructions, and then she ignores them.

On this particular day, Em needed help opening the silver wrapper that held her beloved snack, so before my husband got out of the car, he helped Em tear the wrapper open.

As we headed away from my in-laws' house, Emmy chewed on her fruit roll up with gusto. She made lots of lip-smacking, yummy-yummy noises.

"Mama," Emmy said, "Dada just gave me the BEST fruit roll-up in the whole world."

"Oh, really?" I said. "Just so you know, Emmy, I was the one who got the fruit roll-up for you. Dada just opened the package."

"Mama," Emmy said, "Dada just gave me the most delicious fruit roll-up. EVER."

"Well, Emmy, I actually GOT the fruit roll-up for you. I went into the house to get it for you. Remember?"

"Oh, right," Emmy said.

And then, two seconds later...

"Mama, did you know that Dada got me the BEST fruit roll-up in the whole world?"

"I GOT YOU the fruit rol- up! ME! I DID it! I gave you the BEST fruit roll-up in the whole world, Emmy."

A moment passed.

"Well," Emmy said, "maybe later today, Dada will get me a fruit roll up, and I will tell him that YOU gave me the best fruit roll up in the whole world."

Emmy is AMAZING.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oren's Birth Story

On Tuesday we celebrated Oren's first birthday. I can't believe that Oren has been a part of my life, and a part of our family, for ONLY one year.

One year ago, I was still pregnant five days after Oren's expected birthdate. I had been hoping for the possibility of a natural birth with Oren, despite the fact that I had had a rather complicated c-section with Ember. But with each day that passed beyond December 5th, I knew the chances of having Oren naturally were getting slimmer and slimmer.

On December 10th, I was sent for a routine ultrasound to check my fluid levels and make sure Oren was doing okay. C came with me, and we kept trying to get information from the ultrasound technician, who of course wasn't allowed to tell us much about what she was seeing – she was just gathering information for my midwife to interpret. But at the end of the appointment, the technician very pointedly asked me when my next midwife appointment was scheduled for, and when I told her it was for later that day, she said “GOOD.”

When C and I got out to the car, we looked at each other, and I said, “we should probably start packing for the hospital.” C agreed that the technician's demeanor seemed to indicate that we'd be heading to the hospital later that day.

Sure enough, within minutes of leaving the ultrasound, I got a call from my midwife telling me to go home and pack for the hospital, because my fluid levels were too low. She told me a c-section would be scheduled for later that day, and that the OB/GYN that I loved and really wanted to be my operating doctor (if it came down to that) would be the one bringing Oren into the world. Though I was very sad and disappointed to not be able to experience a natural childbirth, I was so glad to know I would have a doctor I knew and trusted in charge of the delivery.

So C and I went home, packed for the hospital, made sure to make arrangements for Ember's care, and got ourselves to the birthing center. From there, everything went so quickly. I was checked in, I was given an IV, and I was told the anesthesiologist would be in to administer the spinal in just a few minutes.

Now, my c-section with Emmy had been a somewhat traumatic experience, but the most frightening aspect of the ordeal had been that the anesthesia administered through THAT spinal traveled too high, and during the operation I went through more than a few minutes of feeling like I was underwater and unable to breathe. So when my anesthesiologist for Oren's birth came in to speak with me, I told him how frightened I was of the anesthesia traveling high, and he assured me he would monitor me very carefully so it wouldn't happen again.

The operation itself was as smooth a c-section as I could have asked or wished for. The anesthesiologist was a godsend (if there is one thing I can advise about c-sections, it it that a great anesthesiologist makes ALL the difference). He stood at my head and spoke to me calmly throughout the section. His whole demeanor was love and comfort, rather than cold and professional, and I was SO grateful for his graceful nurturing.

C sat by my head and held my hand. Using my Kindle, we put on the playlist that I hoped would be playing through a natural birth. The operating doctor and the nurses commented on how much they loved the songs I had chosen, and even sang along to a few of the tunes. C kept my mind off of the yanking and tugging that was going on by asking me questions about the songs I had picked, and telling me how much he loved me. Within minutes (though a few minutes longer than had been expected, because Oren was a BIG baby), our baby boy was brought into the world and into our arms – a beautiful bundle of smooshiness.

So that is Oren's birth story. It is different from the story I would have hoped to tell – one of natural labor and sweat and tears – but it is still Oren's story, and a birth I am incredibly blessed to have gone through.

I love you, baby boy. You came into this world one year ago, but even when you were just a few minutes old, I felt like I had known you forever.