Thursday, January 28, 2010

Family Time?

One day I was at Panera and saw a family of four having lunch "together." Dad was on his cell phone, Mom and daughter each had laptops in which they were fully engrossed. The son had earbuds in and was listening to his ipod. Few things can isolate you quite like personal electronics. Maybe they were in the midst of a cross-country road trip and desperately needed some time away from each other. At any rate, they were only spending time together in the most technical sense of the term.

And yet, tonight when Virgina decided to have some very awake time from 10:30 until after midnight, this was our activity of choice:
No, hers doesn't work. It died a few months ago. And James only has a laptop because his employer lets him use it for free. I really think Virginia only enjoys the laptop so much because the keys click and she can see herself reflected in the screen (and my wallpaper is a larger than life picture of her).

I will say that we all played and had a grand time when she pulled the same trick last night. But, tonight when we're all sick and nobody got anywhere near enough sleep last night, this is what our family portrait looks like:

Monday, January 11, 2010

January 10 - Three Pairs of Red Shoes (Part II)

Today I went to church in Madison, wearing my red shoes. Every time I looked at my feet and thought of my mom and my sister, I wondered whether they were wearing their red shoes as well? And whether they are or whether they're not, it made them feel a little less far away.

December 30 - Three Pairs of Red Shoes

Today, my mom, my sister and I went shopping. Among our many stops was Famous Footwear, where we almost always acquire more shoes than we really need. Our quest: brown shoes for Mom, black flats for me. Mom knew exactly what she needed (she always buys essentially the same pair) and quickly found them. And I found some cute black shoes, but they didn't have my size. They did, however, have a red version of the same shoes in my size. I love red shoes, so of course I tried them on. Mom agreed that they were cute, but they also weren't what I needed. I looked around, but I couldn't find any black shoes I liked enough to own. And I kept wearing the red ones.

Eventually, Mom admired them so much that I got her to try some on as well. They had her size in red, and while she preferred black, she was stuck with red because there were no black pairs in her size either. She said she didn't know what to wear with them, but we talked through some ideas, and soon I had her convinced that she needed to buy them. Of course, I wasn't going to part with mine either.

The only problem now was that, given Famous Footwear's eternal buy-one-get-one-half-off sale and Mom's other pair of shoes (remember the predictable brown ones?), we needed one more pair of shoes. It should be noted that at this point in the shopping day, we'd completely abandoned the mantra that even if you buy it on sale, you're still not saving money, you're spending it.

So, I asked Becca whether she'd like some red shoes and went back to the shelf. And there they were! Red came in her size too. She put them on, I kept up my lawyerly persuasivenss, and we left with matching shoes.
It should be noted that ten years ago I'd never have gone for this scheme. I did NOT do matching. A decade and several hundred miles between us have changed my opinion. It's not like we completely match anyway. The red shoes mean something different to each of us. Mom is thinking they may take her wardrobe accessorizing in new and exciting directions (thought you'll note that she still wore them with a red dress), Becca is thinking these are the shoes she was searching for last year when she found the perfect dress that only needed red shoes to complete the outfit (and so, since she still has it, she promptly wore them with that dress), and as for me, I figure I can just wear them instead of black shoes with whatever I feel like (and I have been doing so ever since).

As for Scout, she wants to know why the red shoes didn't come in her size too?

December 29 - Sleep

Sleep is a wonderful thing. I am amazed by the body's power to renew itself. Think about it. If your computer gets a virus and you shut it down, it's likely to be just as bad off, or worse, after a few days of rest. Your body, on the other hand, if given a little rest will heal itself of most things that ail it. It will even patch a hole in itself. That certainly can't be said for a pair of pants. And a car only recharges its battery when it's running. But if you put a dent in the hood, that dent is there to stay. Rest is a wonderful thing for regenerating the body.

Isn't it amazing that the world can seem to be at an end, but a little sleep will make it all better? Today, as is sometimes my privilege, I got to enjoy the difference between eight hours of sleep and two hours of sleep. Let me just say that I, and everyone who has to talk to me on the following day, prefer the former.

December 28 - Beautiful Vistas

Catching the 6:50 a.m. flight isn't all bad....

December 27 - Perseverance

During church today, Virginia was tired, cranky and loud. We were only in Sacrament Meeting a few minutes before I had to get up and take her out. I was hoping she'd go to sleep before long. She had other plans. While she did not sleep, she did make plenty of noise. In the end, I didn't get to take the sacrament, I didn't hear any of the talks. In short, I missed everything but the opening song. Thankfully, it was one of my favorites, so that portion at least was uplifting.

As the final talk began (it was given by my father-in-law and I'd really have liked to hear it), I thought about forgetting the last two hours and heading home to try and get a decent nap for the baby. I reasoned that it couldn't be that beneficial, particularly if I were going to spend the whole time in the hall. But, I decided to give Sunday School a try and see how things went.

Scout did pretty well. More importantly, about halfway through the lesson, I looked to the other side of the room where someone was making a comment and saw a familiar face. A good friend who moved away from Madison several months ago was sitting near the back of the room with her husband. I waved at her and after the lesson we were able to catch up. We sat together in Relief Society and she was finally able to meet Scout (Becky, my friend, moved away just after her birth). Seeing Becky brightened my mood considerably and absolutely made my day. And Scout even gave in and slept through most of Relief Society.

I'm thankful that my perseverance was rewarded with a completely random and wonderful reunion.

December 26 - Music

I consider music one of the most valuable gifts my parents have given me. When I was a child, they took us all to the Utah Symphony's programs for children on Saturday mornings. They gave me dance lessons and piano lessons. Music was on in our house all the time. As a little girl, I was always puzzled about strange lyrics talking about washing men out of your hair and the like. I can hardly imagine life without music and the expression in provides. I was reminded of the power of music in a very simple way today.

We're sitting around Boxing Day evening just before dinner. Everyone has been hanging around doing a little of this and that. There are between eight and nine people at the house all day (including one rather cranky baby) and it's been busy, if enjoyable. As is usual at my in-laws' house, the classical music radio station is on in the background, playing random varieties of stuff. Suddenly, amidst the hubbub of getting dinner on the table, Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme From Paganini comes on. It too is largely rather exciting, spirited music. But then, about three quarters of the way through the twenty minute piece, out comes the most peaceful, beautiful melody. I make everyone in the room hush as I enjoy the pure musical ecstasy. It's meditation, visualization and relaxation all in one simple melody. On hectic days, when I'm running around doing errands and hoping Virginia will still get somewhat decent naps, this is the piece I put in the CD player as we drive around. And for the two minutes that the Eighteenth Variation lasts, I am reminded that amidst all the excitement of life, there is also peace.

To channel ABBA, and even though I can't really sing it, "thank you for the music...."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jan 7 - Insomnia

I will say this for being terribly, terribly awake even after the baby settles back down again: it does provide a good opportunity to accomplish things I haven't been able to find time for (like blog entries that are almost two weeks overdue, just to cite an example).

January 6 - I'm "broken"

Virginia drinks formula. And she only drinks formula. I do not breastfeed her at all because I cannot. Shortly after she was born, we discovered that I don't produce much milk. In fact, I struggle to cover the bottom of a bottle, let alone feed a growing infant.

Of course that didn't stop me from trying. I can be fairly stubborn and have a difficult time admitting that some things are beyond me. This was one of those times. So for two months I went to the lactation consultant regularly (until she said there was nothing more she could do for me), I drank teas and tonics, altered my diet to encourage lactation and took pills that increase milk supply, I never gave my baby a bottle (okay, that only lasted about five weeks), I hooked myself up to a breast pump for twenty minutes after every feeding, and basically every single feeding required two people (me feeding her and someone else to keep her awake for the sucking and to hold her while I hooked up all of the accompanying apparatus). Let's just say that I really wanted it to work, and even after two months it was very difficult for me to give in at last and decide that my little Scout needed a happy, nurturing, rested mother more than an inadequate food supply. I remain fairly sensitive and rather sad about it, though I've gained some perspective with a little time and a lot fewer hormones.

However, this trial hasn't been without its lessons. I have gained some empathy and learned that it's impossible to be a "perfect" mother. Everyone has to do what works best for them and their family. I hope I've also become a little more humble. And I must say that on nights like tonight, when I still have the remains of a migraine and can barely stumble in to replace Virginia's pacifier when she wakes up at 2 a.m., I'm glad that James can take over feeding her and putting her back to sleep. I am thankful that, although I do wish it weren't so, I am not Virginia's only food source.

January 5 (again*) - Cost Free Repair

While we were traveling for the holidays, we left our car with our friends, the Solomons. As happened to these poor, patient folks in a frighteningly similar fashion last year, once the temperature dropped the car stopped working. The engine refused to turn over.

Last year, we bought a new battery (after having the old one tested), but the car still wouldn't work. So we had it towed and it was quickly repaired once the shop discovered a loose cable. Fortunately, the repair wasn't too expensive and it helped us find a good mechanic.

This year, a jump start did the trick once, but the car soon went completely dead again and, to make matters worse, the hood wouldn't close properly. The car isn't exactly a spring chicken and I was rather afraid that something major had, at last, gone wrong. January is not a good time to need major car repairs, and transporting a baby through sub-freezing temperatures without a vehicle isn't exactly ideal.

Once we returned to Madison, our friend Ryan kindly recruited more generous help and got the car going again. James returned to the shop where we purchased the battery last year. They tested it and said it should be replaced. Car batteries are supposed to last more than one year. So, they gave us a new battery for free. To top it all off, following the final jump start, James was able to close the hood without incident. James replaced the battery and the car has been functioning wonderfully every since.

Major expense and inconvenience avoided, yet again!

*I'm allowed to be thankful for more than one thing per day sometimes, right?

January 5 - My Bed

It's so nice to return to my own bed, my own apartment, my own stuff and my regular routine. I love my mattress, my pillow, my sheets and my nightstand. I absolutely love visiting family, but one thing I've learned from my baby is that there's nothing like sleeping in the place you're used to. It provides a whole different kind of rest.

January 4 - Services Rendered

Sometimes I feel bad about asking people to help me. It's even hard to accept when they offer. I don't want to be an inconvenience and I don't want to impose. Plus, let's be honest, I'm very independent. Every once in a while I remember, however, that if I enjoy doing things for others so much, it's likely that they enjoy doing things for me too. So it's okay if I'm not always on the giving end of service. Someone has to receive it, or else it's just wasted. Today, I did some major receiving.

Since we can't leave it parked on the street for weeks on end, our friends, the Solomons, watched our car for us while we were traveling. They kept it in their parking spot, dug it out of the snow, and even tried to repair it when it decided to stop working once the temperature dropped (more on this later). Then, despite being busy with twins, grad school and life, Ryan offered to come pick us up from the airport in Milwaukee, and Tish made us dinner when we got home and lent us transportation to stock up on groceries. It made the return home immeasurably better than it would otherwise have been. I felt, and still feel, very indebted. There is nothing to do, however, but issue a heartfelt thank you (I did) and be even more grateful to know such selfless, thoughtful people.

December 25 - The Star

One of my favorite symbols of Christmas is the star. I love that Christmas comes in the darkest part of the year and Christ is represented by light shining through the darkness. Of course this is no mere twinkle in the great dark sky; His star was so bright that there was no night at all in the Americas when He was born. And it was a guide to those who sought their Savior.

This Christmas I read about the Nephites in America and thought about the sign of Jesus's birth appearing on the last possible night before they would be put to death for believing in Him. So often, Heavenly Father sends relief only when we cannot wait any longer. In those moments of waiting, hoping to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I learn my own strength and often become stronger than I would have been without having to wait, hope and have faith that whatever blessing I need will come.

Still Thankful...

...I just got a little behind with being on vacation and getting up with Scout at night while she adjusted to sleeping in a new place. Here comes the backlog!