Saturday, August 16, 2014

Last Day at the Hamptons, I mean, Holiday Lake

Friday was officially our last weekday of summer.  School doors across our state are opening and summer ventures are closing down.  Theme parks and pools and zoos and museums are switching from "summer hours" to "regular hours"-- which means closed in many cases.  The other day I heard a marching band practice, and the cadence of the drum-line couldn't drown out the distinct sound of whistles and helmets and shoulder-pads clanking together in the background.  I can't bring myself to type the words-- but I know what is happening.  I know what seasons lie ahead-- and I'll dwell on those another day.  For now, let me show you how we spent one of our last summer days:  At Holiday Lake!

We met up with Dee Dee and Sara (and their minions) for an afternoon in the sun.  As I've mentioned before, the best part about keeping in touch with college friends is that everyone is real.  Sure, we all may look like 30-something suburban wives & moms with little kids, but we have an extra layer that our neighborhood friends aren't privy to.  At the moment, we drive minivans and vehicles with 3rd row seating, we change diapers and wipe noses.  We attend play dates and smile politely and ask our children to 'please share' and get a little embarrassed when our cherubs aren't model citizens.  We send party invites and thank-you cards and post happy pics on social media.

But there was a time, (that doesn't feel like so long ago) when we drove beat-up gas guzzlers-- anything that would get us from point A to point B.  We skipped 8:00 a.m. classes and attended parties with our new best friends-- people we barely knew from the night before.  We probably were not very dependable-- at least, I'm sure I wasn't, and I don't think we were very responsible either.  (Except Mindy was definitely both of these things-- everyone needs a room mother in college, right?) We laughed and cried and definitely let those close to us know the real us.  I don't think we sent thank-you cards.

So while we all have grown up (hopefully, a little), that thread of realism remains woven beneath the surface of these friendships.  You don't have to pretend with me, girls.  I know you and love you just the way you are (I'm feeling very Billy Joel-ish right now).  Don't worry about your kids' noses or tantrums or stinky diapers-- I know they're in good hands overall.  And I won't worry about my grey roots and baking fails and inability to reason with a four-year-old. Let's just hang out and BE.

And that's exactly what we did.  We packed up beach bags and water bottles and coolers and headed down to Holiday Lake.  Later, we joked that we were like those women who packed up and headed to the Hamptons for the week together, although I'm not sure I could even fake my way to that level of classy.  We spent the day playing and chatting and dipping toes in the lake.  When it was time to leave, we tucked tired bodies into soft jammies and wiped tears from sad faces.  As we drove home, Charlie chattered about the day and peppered the conversation with endless un-answerable questions.  His eyes were heavy but he was determined to stay awake--which he did until his head hit the pillow minutes after stepping inside.  I was not far behind him-- exhausted from a day filled with smiles and laughter and true, genuine, friendship that I have a feeling will last a very very long time.    

Charlie and Vincent yelled, "This is awesome! This ride is so cool!" all the way to the park. 

"You're spinning us too fast, Mom!"

Charlie: I don't think I can do this way high thing!
Vincent: You're doing it, Charlie! You're doing great!
Charlie: I am! I'm really doing it!

Moms: Let's get a picture with all the kids.
Here goes:

Almost! One more!

Not quite! Last one!

Swimming suits on.....and time for more jumping-on-the-mattress fest!

And they're IN!

What is it with little boys and anything that shoots? 

K: Ellody, are you stuck?
E: No, I'm just floating. 
 Let's be all Kardashian-like and take selfies!

And this guy.... you'd be hard pressed to find a sweeter baby! (or a cuter mama!)


Photo bomber

This guy was running on fumes.  By suppertime, he was ready to call it a night.
(But aren't other people's kids way cuter than your own when they're tired-crying?) 

We had such a great time and are so thankful for these friends and opportunities to get together.  (And a special thanks to Matt, who came home from work and twenty seconds later, jumped into the lake to catch those who were begging to jump in.)  Now, if only I could muster as much enthusiasm to jump into this next season as Charlie has when it comes to jumping into the lake.  Here goes.....  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Reality Check

Friends, it just got real up in here:

Four years ago, preparing for preschool seemed like lightyears away.  We were knee-deep in sleep training and breastfeeding and figuring out life as a family of three (plus Maddy).  All the days morphed into one big, long, day.... where there was little distinction between weekday and weekend (after all, the wake up call came bright and early no matter what, and the baby still wanted to be fed at appropriate intervals).  Our lives were tipped upside-down and we first time parents had a hard time navigating that ship after sailing solo for seven years.

But eventually, things slipped into place.  We found our footing on that rocky ground called Parenthood.  We gained confidence and gradually (very gradually) calmed down a little.  Somehow, everything went from being such a big deal to something we can deal with.  Our moods became less dependent on the happiness of our baby and each other.  What felt like an out-of-balance house has really turned into a pretty peaceful home-- although somedays I can sense the zen state much more than others.  Now, it seems like we are a pretty well-oiled machine that functions properly-- but definitely requires some regularly scheduled maintenance to keep us on our toes.

So when this Preschool doctor visit crept up on me, I thought nothing of it-- just one more thing to do in our regularly-scheduled, go-with-the-flow-life.  And then, while I was sitting there in the tiny office next to Charlie, it dawned on me that this-is-it.  We're stepping up to that roller coaster of school-age life.  We're pushing past the turnstile and choosing our seats.  Once he hops on, there's really no turning back--from everything I know (and have yet to learn) about the next thirteen years, it's going to be an incredibly fun, worrisome, exciting, exhausting, bumpy, challenging, thrilling, and fast ride.  I know he's ready for it-- the sticker clad orange folder tucked neatly inside his new dinosaur skeleton backpack is all the proof I need.  Surprisingly, I'm just not sure his mama is quite as ready.

PS:  Doctor visit went great-- he took his two shots like a champ and 'only cried just a little bit'.  Of course, two days later he came down with a low-grade fever and sniffles, but that's the way he's handled every other round of shots as well.   

Monday, August 11, 2014

Interview with a Pregnant Lady

It probably should come as no surprise that the question I've been asked most (as of lately) has been, "How are you feeling?"  In a way, it cracks me up because the emphasis is always on the word "feeling"-- not what I"m up to or what we've been doing or anything else-- just how I'm feeling.  And for the most part, my answer has been "I'm doing well!".   I usually add a tag line about feeling uncomfortable and creaky but overall, I really can't complain.

Then, a few days ago I found this questionnaire online and figured it would be good to jot down some of my thoughts.  (I did a lot of journaling when I was pregnant with Charlie and haven't done any with this one.  Poor 2nd child syndrome starts in utero I guess.)   Also, there's a chance we'll have some maternity shots taken in the near future and if so, I'll update this post with those. 

How far along are you? 35 weeks!

How did you discover you were pregnant and how far along where you? 
 I peed on the stick sometime in January-- and was just about a month along.  We found out much sooner than we did with Chariie.  

What was your initial reaction to being pregnant? 
 Excited with a heavy dose of anxiety/reservation. 

Was this baby planned? 
 Yes. Definitely.... I think.  :) 

If planned, did you have a hard time becoming pregnant? 
 Um, those of you closest to us know this answer and are probably chuckling right now.  

Did you have to give up any habits, was it hard? 
 Just the usual ones-- no coffee & alcohol.  It's not hard, exactly-- except that I crave crave crave beer when I'm with child.  So, I feel that Mason is drinking entirely too little beer these days, although I do try to keep the fridge stocked for him (I'm so thoughtful).  Every time he twists a cap off, I'm at his side-- it reminds me of Maddy appearing in our kitchen the minute we placed bacon in a hot pan.  OMG, all I want in the delivery room fridge is a 6 pack!

Also, I've really had to scale back on the physical activity.  Running was out right away (ouch) and walking has been even more painful this time around.  I've tried to swim as much as possible, but that's pretty much it. Because baby was breech for so long, my midwife told me to stay off the bike-- which I've missed tremendously this summer.    

Has your sleep been affected? 
Not at first, but lately it's been terrible.  I'm usually late to bed, and up in the middle of the night.  (If you're up with a baby or the night shift or something and bored, text me!  I'll probably be around!)

What is the best part about being pregnant? 
 Knowing that I have a live little person growing inside me-- feeling him/ her kick and wiggle and squirm is always amazing. 

I'm also enjoying my increased internal thermostat.  I've never ever ever ever been able to shop in the summer without my little cardigan draped over my shoulders (or walking around with my hands below my chin in "prayer position" to cover up the sign that my turkeys are done).  This summer, I've waltzed through the aisles of the produce section in a tank top like I owned the place.  It has been amazing and quite liberating!!

I also really enjoy not being allowed to clean the bathroom. 

What is the worst part about being pregnant? 
 For me, this pregnancy has been harder because it prevents me from being as active with Charlie.  Summer has been tough because we're so active (or used to be).  Standing tends to hurt after awhile, walking tends to leave me sore the next day, my lung capacity seems to be shot, and my heart races when I do the smallest physical exertion.  My lap is non-existant, I can't run, I can't jump (not that I ever really could...), I could nap at any given moment (except during the night).  My tummy is tender and Charlie wants to kiss and squeeze the baby all the time-- which hurts!  I want to be more energetic and not so tired, I want to be able to ride  amusement park rides and slide down waterslides, and chase Charlie around the yard.  It's been a long pregnancy for him and I'm really ready for him to have his Mama back.  

I'm also that point where bending over is terribly uncomfortable.  Mason keeps promising me that he's going to pick up one of those garbage grabber things at Norby's but he keeps forgetting.  Yes, I definitely think I need to remind him of that.  

Is Baby moving a lot?
I'm writing this post at 5:15 in the morning because Baby woke me up with movement.  So yes, this baby moves a TON.  At our very earliest ultrasound, this baby was already squirming around and flipping it's legs (tail?) back and forth like a little mermaid. 

Did you have any odd or different cravings? 
 I ate super healthfully when I was pregnant with Charlie-- counting my protein and getting tons of extra leafy greens into my diet.  This time around, I've eaten plenty of ice cream and random sweets & junk-- but part of that might just be summertime too. 

 As far as cravings go, all I seem to crave is fruit-- raspberries, peaches, and cherries.  I cannot get enough.  

What's the belly button situation?
Ugh.  I was soooo worried about the belly button popping out with Charlie and it never did.  This time it's popped right out and it's just as uncomfortable and painful as I imagined it would be. (Note:  Having my belly button touched is excruciating to me anyway-- I absolutely hate I might be a little abnormally sensitive to this)

Are you taking any birthing or parenting classes prior to this child being born?
No, although I should probably dig out my Bradley books and review them pretty soon.  After being through it once, I feel like I can get through that part just fine.  It's what happens after we bring the baby home that I'm a little nervous about.  

Did you have morning sickness? 
No, I was just incredibly exhausted and had severe pregnancy brain during my first trimester.  I remember the months of April and May being especially difficult to keep track of even the simplest tasks without writing them down.  

Does anything make you queasy or sick now?
Nothing except the smell of coconut.  We had a few B&BW soaps around our house that made me gag every time I washed my hands-- those have since been replaced with much milder and friendlier floral smelling soaps. And coconut oil about sends me over the edge--so no coconut oil cooking this summer.  

Are you still wearing your wedding rings?
Nope.  My wedding band nearly falls off all winter long and fits 'just right' in the summer.  This summer, it's just a smidge too tight for comfort so I've been wearing an anniversary band Mason bought me a few years ago. 

Do you know the baby's gender?
 Nope.  Much to the dismay of my sister, we never found out.  Plenty of people think it's a girl this time.  Mase and I are totally undecided.  I would LOVE another boy but Charlie really wants a sister and I'd LOVE to see him with a little baby girl.  Can't wait to learn who's in there....and if we really want to know early, there is a little envelope out in the pickup that we could peek into.....

Have you planned/ created the nursery? 
Kind of.  We (mason) painted the guest room and I have a general idea of some things I'd like to do with the room.  When I was expecting Charlie, there was no time to design/ create a nursery because well, the house was completely torn apart.  It's crazy to think of that now and I have to admit, I'm really enjoying "nesting"-- just wish I could be comfortable while doing it. 

Will you have an OB or midwife? 
 I'll have a midwife again-- but different midwives through a different hospital this time.  We're also using the same doula as last time-- she's a good friend of mine and I'm excited to have her be a part of this birth as well.  

Do you have any concerns or worries about delivery?
 Just the usual stuff-- childbirth is so common yet always risky.  Baby was breech for awhile but was head down during the last appointment.  The idea of a c-section terrifies me (and so does the recovery) so avoiding one would be my biggest concern.  

Have you had any signs of labor?
Not really, just some Braxton Hicks contractions.  With Charlie, I knew he was going to be late (and he was) but I totally wouldn't mind this baby coming early. Don't worry, I'm not getting my hopes up.   

So there you have it.  I'm feeling well and doing fine and realizing that the end is starting to come into sight. One week until school starts, two more until Labor Day, two more until the due date.  I have a feeling it'll go quickly, even as I grow bigger and more uncomfortable each day.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Visit from @kellywaz

It's true that Charlie and I have hit the open road on several occasions this summer, but last week, we were on the receiving end of someone else's travels.....Kelly came to visit!!  (With Mr. Turner, of course.)  As was expected, we had an amazing time (well, I did and I'm hoping that she enjoyed some of it as well).

We picked up K & T on Thursday and spent that evening hanging out and letting the boys get acquainted with each other.  This also gave Turner time to check out Charlie's bedroom and toy-room-- which he seemed pleasantly satisfied with.  (My cooking, however, was another story.) The two boys fell into friendship easily and played well together the majority of the time.  Kelly & I had to chuckle because at one point, Charlie clearly needed some space and though he tried to escape Turner (he'd move from one part of the room to another, only to be followed by Turner) he never could quite achieve that solitude he seeked.  Finally, I mentioned that he's always welcome to play in his room for a little while if he needs some alone time.  He eagerly went to his room, played for about 40 minutes on his own, recharged his battery a bit, and came out to join the group.  (Such an introvert--I totally love it.)

Our five days together were busy and eventful but not at all too stressful or scheduled.  We spent mornings lazily hanging out at the house (Turner was the early riser, Charlie slept in every morning) and eating breakfast on the deck.  A few hours in the afternoon were spent napping (or reading or tv viewing) and our evenings included more playing and lots of rough-housing with Mason.  The boys took baths and we read books and they usually fell asleep quickly after being tucked into bed.  Kelly and I would settle onto the couches in the living room with every intention of going to bed by 10:00, only to end up talking late into the night (midnight!) every single evening.  Our conversations never felt forced or awkward-- there was just that much to say and I have a feeling that there always will be. There were times, however, that we also enjoyed sitting in silence next to each other, watching our boys play in the basement or outside on the play-set or at a park.  In those moments, it felt like we were silently communicating-- enjoying the company of an soulmate without having to even say a word.  Magical, I tell you, magical.

Looking back, I wish I had taken more pictures of their visit.  But honestly, things just flowed so naturally and the moments never felt like the necessity for a photo op.  Everything just felt right-- and I think I momentarily took them for granted, thinking that they belong here in Iowa with me-- I might have even momentarily envisioned them moving into the empty house across the street.  I got lost in the moment, completely let down my guard and was 100% myself (mood swings and all)-- which is sometimes so hard to do.  We even forgot to take a picture of the four of us, which is probably fine in the long run.

Fortunately, the wonders of the smart phone nudged me to at least take a few pics of our magical time together.  Here's the snapshot version:

The hum of a crop duster lured us outside during breakfast.  Turner wasn't quite sold on the idea of this coming so close...Charlie took a seat at the picnic table and happily watched it.  (I know, food while spraying chemicals over a field?  I'm trying not to think about the hazards of this.  It was good entertainment.)

We visited Hansen's Dairy Farm in Hudson and gained tons of dairy farm knowledge.

And what's a dairy farm without kangaroos and wallabies?  (The Hansen logo is a kangaroo with a calf in it's pocket)

At the end of the tour we made butter all by ourselves.  We had excellent shaker-help.

And they fed us ice cream.  (Might I suggest getting the key-lime pie if you're ever in the area?)

We spent an afternoon/evening at the Grundy pool (but this is the only picture I took asides from the moms in their swimming suits and that's not something that needs to be on the internet).

And every night we read lots of books-- and listened to the baby inside my belly.

We did have the foresight to take a picture of the two of us belly to belly.  I love that we're sharing pregnancy together and how fun that we'll have babies just a few months apart.

On Monday, we spent the afternoon at the Iowa Children's Museum in Iowa City.  This place is like the best-thing-ever if you're 2 or 3 or 4 or probably under twelve.

He took his pizza making very seriously...

So did he:

T loved the air tunnels

Charlie: Mom! I can reach the pedals and make the propeller turn this year!!

Plane simulator.  (I felt bad because I really had no idea how to work the thing and couldn't really get them to "fly".  Definitely needed Daddy there.  He would've flown that plane for sure!)

They LOVED the train room and chased that train for a huge amount of time.  No complaints here--- there was a bench just right for the moms to sit and get some more chatting accomplished.

And after we dropped them off at the airport (it was a quick hug or I would have for sure cried), we had a little date at Perkins.  Pancakes for supper? Sign us both up!

AND....while we were at Perkins, I got a call from my sister... just letting me know that this little one came into the world while we were wrapping things up at the Children's Museum.  What a great way to end our day!

I'm feeling filled up and grateful and happy as we start bringing the summer to a close.