Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marriage Advice

One of my favorite things lately has been reading blogs associated with parenthood.  My favorite is Rants from Mommyland where two ladies write about the funny, crazy adventures life brings with children.  Their take on life is pretty awesome: they roll with the punches, laugh at themselves and honestly reflect on their roles as Mommies.  Most days I am giggling with them and also learning something.  Today I read an older post that included some marriage advice.  The first suggestion they gave was a good one and I decided to  share and elaborate on it in my own blog.

Spray each other with the hose.
At first I was all "huh?  How will that help?"  But then reading further it explained a little more and I realized this is actually pretty good advice.  You can have a little fun and tease each other with a little water spray.  It's funny to catch Chet off guard and I have had some fun with this in the past.  It can be funny and playful and just a way to be silly with each other.  Either you both end up giggling a bit about it or it ends up in a full on water match and power struggle for control of the hose.  Either way smiles will happen and as long as you keep it light hearted it will make a fun memory, or at least a way to blow off some steam.  Included with this advice could be to throw a snow ball, dance in the rain, make water balloons, and splash in the pool.
But wait - there's more!  Mad at hubby?  Holding a grudge?  Want to get even or get out some rage directed at him for his foolishness/ignorance/stupidity (insert any fitting ill mannered or inappropriate husband attitude or action)?  Well spray him with the hose works here too, just use the super cone setting that will sting a bit when it hits him and really let him have it for awhile.  Then pretend it was an accident.  "Oh sorry hunny, didn't see you there.  Boy, that really drenched ya" (the key here is to stifle the laugh and pretend to be genuinely sorry all while smirking on the inside).  And then let it go, the anger or madness.  He's sorry one way or the other after that blast so now its time to just get over the issue. 

Now that I have celebrated 2 years of marriage with my own hubby, I can officially give up the newly wed status but I know I am not exactly the marriage guru.  When my younger sister got married last summer I passed her all the wisdom I knew and now I share my limited learnings about life as a wife to you as well.  I am practically an expert after all...

1.  Expect him to do something weird or have an odd habit or two.  Learn to laugh at it, live with it and not stress about it.  My husband has odd theories on reusing towels so after every shower the towel is now dirty and he will not reuse it.  I find this odd - you just bathed and have never been cleaner so why is the towel dirty just from drying off your clean body?  But hey, whatever!  That just means we buy a couple extra towels and he does laundry more often.  (p.s. I find this particularly odd because I have witnessed the man go for a run, shower and then put back on the gym shorts he wore to run.  The towel is dirty but the shorts are still good?  So. Weird.)

2.  You are going to fight.  Oh yes sir.  There will be arguments.  Big ones, small ones, on topics that matter and trivial issues that you can't even recall later.  No matter how much pre-marriage counseling you have had or how well you know each other I promise there will be a few blow outs.  Expect it.  Play fair. And resolve it, maybe not that very day but find a way to get to a solution that you can either except, compromise on, or concede too.  I always say my husband and I are good fighters. I am a yeller but this doesn't bother him and I can turn blue in the face yelling without phasing him.  (When we first moved to our house with our gigantic kitchen I would fight with him in there because with only a little furniture my voice would really sound impressive when I got to hollering.)  I want to sulk and hold a grudge but he will push me to work it out with him.  He lets me be all controlling over certain things and I let him be "the man" on certain topics.  It doesn't always work, but it always works out. 

3. Tell him what you need.  SPELL IT OUT.  Hints do not work, and expecting him to just "know" something often leads to disappointment.  I give him wish lists for my birthday and Christmas.  I write honey do lists and I tell him how how I am feeling in clear, simple words.  We talk about expectations, for baby, for budgets, for holidays, for dinner... If something is annoying me, I tell him about it instead of letting it grow and grow till its a major problem.  If I want a particular thing for mother's day I tell him instead of hoping he knew what I was wishing for.  If I need more time with him, I ask.  If he hurts my feelings, I point it out right away.  Us ladies have physical, emotional and sentimental needs but unless you tell him what they are how can he help satisfy them?  Do you want a wrench set for Christmas?  No?  Then maybe you had better be more clear about what would make you happy. 

4.  You can't win them all.  Sometimes I have to accept I am wrong/won't get my way/I have to do something I don't really like.  And the same goes for him.  It's not going to be win/win all the time.  Some years I don't get to see my family in PA, and we spend time with his in OK.  Sometimes I put more money into the joint account than he does, and its not fair but needs to be done.  Sometimes I have to say sorry and let him get his way.  It sucks, but we survive and we are a better couple for it.  Sometime we give and sometimes we take, but we always have to (at least try) to have a good attitude about it.  Its bigger than just today, or just this argument.  Your relationship is more than being right. 

5.  Keep laughing.  One of my favorite things and least favorite things about my husband is his crazy sense of humor.  He really is a very funny guy.  I even included this in my wedding vows, I was lucky to have someone who can make me laugh everyday.  But sometimes you are also the butt of his jokes too, it goes hand it hand.  There are times when his humor saves my mood, and times when his words are the last straw!  The first couple times he called me pregasaurous during my pregnancy I wanted to smack him!  How dare he make fun of my size, I was already feeling fat and huge without him rubbing it in.  But then I had to relax a bit and laugh about it, especially when I caught my self begging him to get me donuts or eating a huge portion of whatever I happen to be craving.  It really can be funny, if you let it. 

I know by now you are all very impressed by my wisdom.  Clearly, I know it all about marriage. Who would have thought I could be so insightful after only two short years of married bliss?  No, really it hasn't been all bliss.  We have had our highs and our lows, some very low lows when I suddenly understood why some of my young friends abandoned marriages after a short time.  And if I am being really honest, I don't always take my own advice.  My own desire to control things makes it very hard to see his view point at times.  I am a serious grudge holder, I can treat it like a full-time job.  And there are days when he isn't funny, and his words hurt me deeply.  But if you love someone, if you truly meant what you said about being committed you find a way to move past it toward something better.  Even on our lowest days I was still his wife and he was still my husband and that means something.  So maybe my biggest piece of advice, something I still work hard to do, is to remember that you love each other and let that impact everything else.

Friday, July 22, 2011

You know you're in the 3rd trimester when...

Anyone whose has experienced a pregnancy will tell you the end is the hardest.  This unbelievable heat has only compounded my uncomfortableness.  So in an effort to stay positive (the opposite of my whine post) I thought I would poke a little fun at all the challenges a very round belly throws at you.  Humor is after all, the best medicine.  I did get my gripping out of the way, and several friends did their part to help cheer me up!  Shout out to Rachel, Sarah and Sasha who surprised me with sno cones, and Michelle who hung out with me!  Thanks for making the time go a little faster for me and cooling me down, I appreciate the effort!

But now on to the funny parts of pregnancy that you just have to laugh about, mostly because there is nothing else you can really do about it anyway!

You know you're in the 3rd trimester when...

1.  Items that get dropped on the floor tend to stay there.  It takes a good amount of thought and preparation to retrieve it at this point so unless its really important or made of chocolate I am going to leave it on the ground.  My kitten Trixie seems to enjoy the additional toys anyway. Currently scattered about my home: a christmas bow that fell from the wrapping cabinet, several pens, at least 3 hair ties, spare change, and a collection of other random objects that fell from pockets, purses or bags. 

2.  Something that triggers a craving or tastes amazing ends being up consumed in large portions, and quickly.  I recently made a batch of homemade Tasky Cakes, they didn't survive two days!  Thankfully I was smart enough to bring half the pan to work with me to share with my co-workers but I ate the rest!  And I cut them into shamefully large pieces, but it was AMAZING!  Same goes for ice cream, watermelon, milk, cereal, and pretty much anything chocolate in my house.  Chet tried to take a cherry from the bowl I was eating and I had to stifle the urge to growl at him. 

3. Lets talk about getting dressed in the morning.  I battle putting on my undies every day.  The day Chet caught me slowly turning in circles trying to step into a pair made him question my sanity.  Even I have to laugh thinking about how often I fall over while struggling to do this simple task.  Who knew underwear would present such a challenge?

4.  My view is hysterical.  Looking down I can no longer see belly button or anything below.  My bump is now a shelf, crumb catcher, and has it's own zip code.  The only problem is even though I know its there, I still misjudge spaces all the time.  I whack my belly into doors, bump it trying to squeeze in tight spaces and bang it against counters and the sink all the time.  You'd think I would have adjusted but I constantly find myself thinking "Oh yeah, forgot that was there".

5.  Rolling out of bed now requires a pep talk and a count down... "Three, two, one, GO!"  Getting off the love seat requires me to roll onto the floor on all fours, grab the coffee table to get onto one foot, then heave myself up to standing.  It's like a little circus show only with out grace or coordination and often involves a boob flash or underwear reveal followed by hiking up my pants.  Sexy, very sexy. 

6.  I accidentally snort when I laugh, snore when I sleep, and fart when surprised.  All very ladylike I might add, and I giggle when I catch myself doing them.  And then I snort again, which makes me laugh harder, and the cycle continues till I have to pee!

7.  And then there is the issue of my feet.  Sometimes I forget I still  have them, but sure enough those little swollen piggies are down there.  Good thing it's not winter because I can't imagine putting socks and shoes on every day.  You should see me break a sweat and swear a little every time I have to get my compression stockings on.  Lets hope Reagan doesn't come out swearing after all the grumbling she has undoubtedly heard me doing lately. Chet asks "Who are you talking to?"  My response "These *#@$ compression socks won't cooperate!" (Yank, pull, cuse, give him the stink eye)  "Help me!"

8.  Everyone calls me "Mama" and I don't mind.  My friends, co-workers, and even the checkout lady at walmart.  "How you doing Mama?"  "You getting close to your due date Mama?"  There was a time when I would have thought someone was being fresh to call me that word but now the world sees me as a mom!

9.  I am learning how to milk it.  Chet can you grocery shop this week?  Chet do you mind unloading the dishwasher?  Chet can you vacuum in here?  Chet can you help me with dinner.  Chet can  you bring me some more water?  And he does!  What a good hubby! 

10.  I live a glamorous lifestyle.  Last weekend Chet went out for some beers with friends and ended up jamming with Stoney LaRue on his tour bus till 5 am.  Then he took me out to dinner for a big o' steak using a gift card he won during a rib eating contest.  After he evaluated his crazy weekend he declared "I had a rock star weekend".  I told him, "Me too, I got to nap both days!" and I was honestly as thrilled with that as he was with his adventures. 

11.  And what is up with my breathing.  Every thing makes me winded and breathing heavy.  A trip to the bathroom (here we go with struggling with the underwear again), getting off the couch, dressing, showering, walking, thinking about doing anything....
I am breathing like darth vader and all I did was heave myself out of a chair.  This is so normal to me that I barely notice it but Chet often comments about me being pregasarous when he hears me gasping for air.  I have to admit, that's pretty funny.  (I got this great big belly and little tiny hands!)

12.  Lastly is the humor others find in pregnancy.  I read an article the other day talking about recovery after giving birth and it called my lady parts "No longer very private parts" since the whole world gets a peek at them during delivery.  Or when my doctor asked if my nipples were inverted, and since they are capable of poking someones eye out I told him "No, they are very extroverted!"   I think I found this one funnier than he did.  Or Chet rubbing his head trying to make sense of the ultrasound telling the lady "I can't see anything!".  It's all a bunch of funny stuff!

So you already heard my complaints, now you can see some of the stuff that makes me laugh!  I found the cutest pair of ruffled bloomers that made me smile and I adore the headbands and bows I have ready for the little lady.  While I may not enjoy everyday, I can find something fun to laugh at each day.  So it an attempt to scare off my pregnancy grumpiness and fly through the next two-six weeks till her arrival share with me your funny pregnancy stories!   Bonus points if you make me laugh so hard I pee, which is a very good possibility!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A better Dad

I watched an older stand up performance of George Lopez recently and spent the whole time laughing at the stories from his childhood.  His antics of living in a low income home, making the most of what he had and finding simple happiness in some of the most basic parts of life was an awesome reminder of what brought me joy as a child.  Some of his stories I could relate to, and others were just down right funny!  This got me thinking about the type of childhood Reagan will have.  In George's advice he said just be the person you were growing up.

This prompted a conversation with Chet about the things we loved about our own childhoods, and therefore the things we wanted for Reagan, but also the things we wanted to change.  Despite very different backgrounds we oddly enough had the same complaint.  We both wished our Dad's had been around more.  Chet's Dad, as a result of divorce, shared custody so his role in Chet's life was sometimes absent or disproportionate to his mother's time with him.  For me, my Dad had a full-time job and started his own business which took all of his time.  Not to mention his smoking habit often kept him in the garage and out of the house. 
Neither of us will claim to have had perfect fathers.  In fact, my feelings about my Dad are somewhat mixed even to this day.  I loved him dearly and he also was somewhat of a disappointment to me at times.  He died when I was only 21 years old and I often feel extremely robbed of my time with him.  He could be a very selfish man who often felt if I wanted more time with him then I should be out working the farm with him or spending time in the shop (despite the sign that hung on the door declaring no girls allowed).  I did in fact spend a good amount of time working along side my family planting hundreds of sapling Christmas trees and completing chores on the farm but of course as a child I never valued those experiences.  Now I look back fondly thinking of all the friends and family who would come out to to farm and leave hours later after dozens of rows of trees on several acres were planted each year.  Back then I thought it was just a lot of dirty work, now I can see how amazing it was that everyone was willing to donate their time and energy to help us and how rare a group of friends like that can be.

Those same friends would come out for Rigger Pigger races, when they raced junk cars around a dirt section of our farm until the cars caught fire or someone was declared the winner and received a match box car mounted to a wooden plaque.  Christmas season to me as a child meant spending freezing cold hours outside selling or cutting down trees.  It was several years before we had steady business or a shed to work out of.  I hated this work most of the time, and I was glad when it snowed too much for customers to come out because then I could play instead of work.  Looking back now I recall many happy memories of playing with the tree shaker or racing my brother and sister to be the first to cut down and drag in a perfect tree.  Our whole family spent time together working and the business was something special to lots of people.  When we closed after Dad's death I knew a lot of people were sad not to have the farm to visit.

I was keenly aware, even as a young child, that time with Dad was precious and rare, and I can recall the times in detail when he brought home a new toy for us, or when he came to one of my tennis matches.  The day he showed  up at Wal-mart on his motorcycle to pick me up from my shift  I pretended to be so annoyed.  But that was one of the few times I ever rode with him and I secretly loved it!  I never told him that, and he didn't ask me to ride with him again.  Dad was so busy with his own life that he often had no idea what was going on with mine.  He didn't check on my grades, he couldn't tell you about my friends or activities, and he rarely realized all he was missing out on.  I didn't question the fact that he loved me, but I felt it was pretty clear there were a long list of things that came before me on his priority list.  Some of those things I don't begrudge him of, starting your own business takes a lot of time and energy and I know his long term plans were intended to give him more time at home.  Sadly those long range plans were never reached when a heart attack too his life too early.

There were times when I was sure I had the best Dad in the world.  Our farm was certainly a lot of work and upkeep but it also gave me the luxury of a swimming pool, trampoline, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and lots of room to run around.  Our house was the hang out place for our neighbors and friends because we had stuff to do!  Dad installed a light pole with a volleyball court and horse shoe pits, we would host large picnics and pig roasts, and I spent every day of the summer outside barefoot playing with our cats or exploring the land around us.  Snow days were filled with the diesel fumes of snowmobiles and tromping around the farm to find the biggest snow banks to jump into.  I loved the nights we hosted campfires and invited a large group of friends to roast marshmallows and sleep under the stars.  Those were always the events Dad put together and without his planning and ideas they never would be such cherished memories.  I had a huge two story barn to explore and play in, creating play rooms and letting my imagination go wild.  I looked forward to Halloween night when the entire neighborhood would meet at my farm for a hay wagon ride around the neighborhood that stopped at every house with the porch light on to trick or treat.  I could write a book about the adventures I had as a child playing outside and though some days were fraught with bee stings, poison ivy, and the horror of sharing friends with my little sister, the good days always outweighed the bad.

But I remember other details too.  I remember going to our summer beach trips with just Mom most of the time because Dad couldn't take off work or leave the farm.  I remember a 12 hour road trip lasting much, much longer because Dad had to stop to smoke every couple of hours.  I remember eating dinner without Dad because he wouldn't leave a project he was working on or wasn't home.  I remember going days without seeing Dad because our schedules were so different.  I remember missing him when he wasn't around, and that sting only got worse when he died and the reality of his loss really sunk in. 

One of my favorite things about my Dad was his charisma, the power he had to draw people to him.  This suited him well as business man, but anyone he met in everyday life could clearly see this too.  He was great with people, everyone liked him and he rarely went anywhere without making a friend.  Mom would roll her eyes as he charmed the ladies at the bank, all sorts of guys from his work would come out to the farm, and Dad was never short on friends.  But perhaps the most surprising thing about a man his size was his nature with children.  At first kids would shy away from him, he was both tall and round but somehow he would draw them in.  Tractor rides and play time with Dad was so fun!  And it wasn't just my siblings and I that got along so well with him as children, every child loved Dad.  I never said it out loud, I may not have even realized it till after it was too late but I thought my next golden time with my Dad would be the day I gave him grandchildren.  I thought when I started to have children would be the time we reconnected, and I looked forward to those days even though they were far off.  I knew how excited my Dad would be the day I got to tell him I was pregnant, and I know he would have been over the moon to have a grandson or granddaughter.  After his death I recall crying with my sister when we both talked about how sad it was that those memories would never get made.  We would never get the chance to see him glow as a grandfather and it was heartbreaking to loose that chance. 

I may not be able to give Reagan all the same memories I had as a child, but I am gonna try.  I am not going to worry about the money I spend on her clothing or the latest and greatest video games.  I won't worry about name brands or private lessons.  But I will always have a jar I can make into a firefly container, a fresh towel to wrap her in after time in the pool or sprinkler, a Popsicle to share on the porch, and games to play in the yard.  I will have pets for her to enjoy and show her the magic of all the adventures you can have playing outside!  I won't demand she wear shoes, I won't guard her every movement, and I won't keep her tucked inside.  And just as importantly, I want Chet to show her how to ride her bike and come to her dance recitals or sports games.  I want his hand to be there when she reaches and I want her to have a relationship with her Daddy that rivals any other man in her life.  I want her to create as many memories with him as she has with me.  I want her to run wild outside and also to be able to always find her Daddy.  I want her to know that she is Daddy's number one priority. Even though I had campfires, and four wheelers I didn't always have access to my Dad and I want Reagan to feel differently about her childhood.  So here's to learning from my past and trying to make life a little bit better for my own children.  I know I won't be perfect, and to be honest I didn't expect perfection from my father either but I can try to do things a little differently for my daughter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It's my blog, and I'll whine if I want to

I can recall a time, seemingly not so long ago, where I envisioned pregnancy to be a joyous occasion.  I heard harps playing and angels singing and I imagined feeling womanly and glowing.  The birds would sing to me, grandmoms every where would wink at me, and children would smile at me.  I would ooze wisdom and charm, and my upcoming birth would draw near quickly and painlessly. I actually thought I would enjoy pregnancy, and that it would be a magical time.
And then I woke up... in my 3rd trimester and all its unpleasant reality.  The real truth: I DO NOT LIKE BEING PREGNANT.  Of course, I still love my child and wouldn't trade this experience for anything but that doesn't mean I have to like the beating my body is taking and how horrible I feel.  I know this time is temporary but telling me it will all be worth it when its 105 degrees for the 4th week in a row and I still have 8 long weeks of 100+ degree weather to go does not make me feel better right now.  One day I will look back on this time and probably feel differently but today (heck this whole past month) I am miserable.  Hormones and heat do not mix!  Here's the run down on a normal day for me now.
I wake up at least 3 times to pee during the night, although my record is 6 trips to the bathroom in 9 hours.  If you do the math, thats less than 2 consecutive hours of sleep in a row.  And if my bladder doesn't wake me, my sore back does.  Or even better, I wake myself up because I was snoring... awesome.
I then proceed to take a cold shower, luke warm at best.  This is because any exposure to warm water, even for a 15 minute shower, causes my swelling to jump start.  So I start my day with a cold shower to at least attempt to control the puffiness. Have you ever attempted to lather soap or shampoo in cold water?  Hopeless!
The doctor has officially banished me from spending any time in the heat so I usually get up a little earlier so I can go outside first thing in the morning before the heat is unbearable.  I water my plants and eat breakfast on the patio so I can enjoy the outdoors for at least a little while.  Sadly, this means my vegetable garden was a complete bust.  I didn't have the energy or heat tolerance to give it what it needed this year, heck I have barely kept my potted plants and flower garden alive.
On the weekends, I spend all day indoors.  My house is very clean as a result, and I have watched a lot of bad TV.  Thank goodness for my new kitten Trixie who has been entertaining me or I would have gone completely stir crazy this past 3 day weekend.  Don't get me wrong, I love having the time at home but when everyone else is enjoying the lake, BBQs, or fireworks and I am stuck at home it can be a real downer!  Chet has been working all weekend so this leads to alot of alone time.  Good for napping, bad for boredom.
On the week days, I am at work during our slowest season.  YAWN!  And no matter how much water I drink or how long I keep my feet propped on the foot rest under my desk, my ankles swell.  By Friday, the swelling is in my knees and at the end of the each day its very uncomfortable to even walk because my joints are so stiff.
My lunch breaks used to be fun, I could run a quick errand or pick up a treat.  I would go get a book from the library, or do a little shopping but those days are gone.  Now due to the heat, I can't go out unless its pretty urgent.  Exposure to the extreme temps, even for a short period, make me so uncomfortable that it takes forever for me to cool down and my swelling always blooms out of control.  So I stay in at the office during lunch, BORING! I avoid doctor appointments in the afternoon too, because it just makes the already bad swelling worse.   Last appointment he estimated I was carrying 10 lbs of water weight, and almost 30 of normal baby weight.  No wonder my back and knees hurt! 
After work, because my swelling is out of control by the end of the day no matter what I do, I have a very short time span to make dinner before I am forced to sit with my feet up.  Failure to be off my feet by 7 pm means my swelling will not go down much by the next morning and I will make even more trips to bathroom during the night.  This means, I can't run errands, do chores, or have much fun in general without paying the price of increased swelling.  On the busy nights where I am on my feet for a while the swelling will stay all night, and I will wake up with cankles which only makes the next day more uncomfortable for me.  More than once I have had to take a cold shower just to help my body return to a normal temperature. 
The good news is that my nausea is gone, replaced by major hunger!  I feel starving a lot, this kid is stealing all my food.  Lets not get started on the heart burn, I could breathe fire!  And of course the belly is really growing!  This makes moving around and picking things up really hard.  If I drop something I really consider if its at all worth picking up.  A pen? Nope, I've got more in my desk drawer.  Chocolate, maybe because I am pretty hungry.

In some ways 8 weeks feels so close!  Chet and I spent some time this weekend finishing assembling the crib and putting together the swing.  I want to start making some real headway in preparing for baby.  And then I remember I still have 2 more months of this.  2 MONTHS- AHHHHHH!  Let me tell you, 40 weeks of pregnancy takes forever.  And never, ever ever will I be this pregnant during an Oklahoma summer again.  If I wasn't a normal person with a budget and a career I would pack my stuff and live at the beach for the rest of this pregnancy.  I am going to play the lottery this week, just in case....

So yes, I am grumpy.  Yes, I am swollen.  Yes, I am tired, and bored, and uncomfortable and HOT!  I am always hot.  Even in air conditioning, eating ice cream with ice packs on my feet.  But don't give me that look, the one that says "Oh you poor thing".  And don't tell me all the million reasons it will all be worth it, because though I have to agree in your reasoning it only makes me want to punch you in the throat right now (hello hormones).

If you see me and you can tell I am having a bad day or the temperture is currently in the triple digits here is what I suggest:
1: Make plans with me!  I have been alone way to much lately and hence the pity party.  You could come visit me at my home in the AC - I will happily show off the nursery!  Or we could go to a movie, or rent a movie or do anything in an air conditioned location!
2: Give me a sno cone (sour cherry or creamsicle please).
3: Nope, those are your only two options.  Spare me the pep talk or belly rub.  I don't want to pretend this is fun, I am excited for my baby but I am not excited about getting through today.

With 54 days till Reagan's due date (but hey, whose counting) I am just trying to make it through.  Some days I have a much better attitude about it and some days my feet are so fat I look like a sumo wrestler and I am just not going to pretend to be in a happy place.  Every mom out there knows what I talking about, and being honest about it doesn't make me a bad mom.  It just makes me an uncomfortable pregnant yankee who shares her honest feelings.  Would I do this all again for my daughter?  Yes!  But I am not going to cut the complaining, venting is the only way to get some of it out.