Saturday, November 28, 2009

November BOTM

Late, of course, but here it is- the November Book of the Month, Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. It is a book I remember my mom reading to me as a child- it was published in 1971. This is a fun book about Maggie and her grandmother who live on the edge of a cranberry bog in New England. They have invited two guests over for Thanksgiving, and one tries to steal Grandmother's secret Cranberry Bread recipe! Children will learn a good lesson about looking beyond outward appearances and about forgiveness too. My favorite character- Mr. Whiskers, an old crusty sea captain who loves to eat! The secret Cranberry Bread recipe is included for all those who love to bake. There are several other Cranberry books by the Devlins, including Cranberry Christmas which I will try to check out this month. Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Army Hospital

This is the saga I've been promising about our first trip to the Army Hospital. It is long, hence the word saga. Just think of it as a magazine article.

I found myself with all three kids in tow several months ago for our first visit to the DeWitt Army Hospital on Ft. Belvoir, the wonderfully convenient Army post we have been assigned for our medical care. I found the hospital and the adjoining building where I thought Harris’s appointment would be. I scoped out the entrance on my first drive by, looking for a ramp so I would know if I should attempt a stroller entry or not. There did not appear to be one. At this point in the adventure I shift into “new situation” mode- trying to think of what I needed to do, where to go in, how I could manage the kids and bags with no stroller, etc.

The parking lot was packed- not a good sign. The spot I got was only the result of divine intervention. (Didn’t someone once say there are no atheists in parking lots?) The bag situation was ridiculous, but unavoidable- I had a diaper bag for Harris, a bag with books, small toys and sandwiches for the kids as this was unfortunately a lunchtime appointment (unavoidable- you take whatever you can get at this place I have since learned), and my breast pump bag. This day I was feeding Harris bottles and off schedule with when I fed him and when I pumped, so I knew I would have to feed him in 30 minutes and pump about an hour later.

We made it to the Pediatric Clinic, where it took them a while to find Harris, because his name was entered incorrectly in the system. The desk lady and I went through one of those “who’s on first” routines together.
Me: They have him as Morgan but his first name is Harris.
Desk Lady: So his name is Morgan?
Me: No, his first name is Harris, but they have it as Morgan. Harris is his first name but they have it as his last name.
Desk Lady: So Hodges is his middle name?
Me: Strangled cry etc. etc.
Finally they tell me his appointment is in the Family Practice clinic. I was a little upset because in my mind I wanted a pediatrician for my children- they are doctors who specialize in what my children are- children. Makes sense to me. But I try to keep an open mind.

A kind orderly/nurse shows me the way to the clinic- me hauling three bags, a baby in an unwieldy car seat and two children moseying along behind. Oh, by the way, there was a wheelchair ramp but I missed it. I guess the army decided to camouflage it behind a large hedge. The army is good at camouflage, as we all know. So are chameleons. That ramp was invisible to even a well-trained mom’s eyes. I arrive at the clinic, starting to be overwhelmed- not sure of the process here. I approach the long counter across the front. The man looks at me like I am an intruder (maybe the desk should also be camouflaged) and says, “The line’s over there.” Now I see the faint, worn, tiny red line of paint, randomly on the floor across the room. No one is lined up behind it, except me now. The man calls me a second later so I cross the room with my entourage once again. He can’t find Harris. You know why. I try to explain the situation, but now Harris is ready to eat and he’s getting loud.

The man finds Harris’s info, hands me a clipboard with sheets to fill out and I somehow find a seat and fill out the papers. They call me back to check his weight, and the nurse helps me with the car seat. The first scale doesn’t work so we go to another room- now Mac is losing it because he is hungry. It’s like there is no advance warning system for these little kids. They are all of a sudden STARVING, and writhing on the floor in misery. I have to eat, NOW, or I will die. An exam room was unavailable so we had to caravan back out to the waiting room with Harris now inconsolable and Mac saying, “I’m hungry” over and over again as if I am a genie that might pop out a sandwich if he says it the correct number of times which he thinks is approximately 200.

Now I need a sink to warm up Harris’s bottle but there is no way I can take my stuff back through that door again. I need a luggage cart and a personal valet. I think this was the point when I started clicking my heels together and murmuring, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” The wonderful man beside me speaks kindly, says he’s been where I am in life with three small kids- he offers to watch the kids. I slap a sandwich in the kid’s hands and go to warm the bottle. I come back and begin to feed Harris- the kind man chats with me. I say ruefully, jokingly, “right now I’m the mom people look at and shake their heads and say ‘poor thing.’” He is encouraging and I cry a little because of his kindness. For a moment I am ok. Ruthie now has to go potty- ummm, impossible. Go in your pants I tell her. No, I would never say such a thing. She just has to wait. This is one of those other things for which children have no warning system, slowly alerting them that their bladder is filling up and soon they will be in an emergency pee-pee situation. No. It is- BOOM. All of a sudden she has to go so bad she will explode pee everywhere if she can’t get to a potty. I have to go, NOW, or I will explode pee everywhere!

Harris has finished his bottle, the nurse calls us back to a room, we’ve made it. The nurse watches Harris in the room while I take Ruth to the potty with Mac along for the ride. The kids enjoy the moment, “it smells good in here, mommy.” “Don’t touch anything, Mac.” Back in the exam room the doctor shows up. He is kind, he asks about Harris and I have a breakdown. I manage to explain about his feeding issues, how concerned I am. The doctor is wonderful- sympathetic, patient with my post-partum emotional wackiness (hey, I can still claim that 3 ½ months later). I settle and he asks questions and we discuss what could be the problem. He wants to help- he gives me advice on the new hospital, I tell him I think he’s wonderful and I ask him to be Harris’s godfather, I mean, I ask if we can always see him specifically and he says yes. At this happy moment Harris grunts and blows out the nastiest poo ever; I smile calmly and watch it squishing out the side of his diaper and running into the corners of his car seat. It was like the 1812 overture, at the end when the cymbals are crashing, the music has reached a crescendo, the finale that brings us to our feet! The final release! Poo! It was poo-etic. I had had my breakdown though, I had been emotionally immunized. I could take anything at that point.

To wrap up this saga/misadventure- the wait at the pharmacy for Harris’s reflux medicine was 45 minutes- the pharmacy described by the doctor as “like Calcutta- tons of people sitting around looking despondent.” I remember the Calcuttas of my youth, when I could sit and read every Reader’s Digest and National Geographic and leave an hour and a half later with some drugs. Now as an adult with three kids I would need the drugs for myself upfront so I left- Jay could stop by after work.

Back in the car, all bags and kids stowed, I breathed in and knew it would be so much better next time. I could bring four bags, one containing a baguette and a bottle of wine for myself, plus hire a Sherpa to haul my gear.

These moments, days, are my continuing education and my ongoing sanctification. I used to think I was patient, that I could handle anything. I used to think I was loving, kind, self-controlled. Well, I’m not. Or at least not like Jesus. He must have just been amazing. Seriously. Imagine just living with him and watching him handle life. Of course in my situation he would have known ahead of time that there was a wheelchair ramp. And that would have changed everything for me. But I love a good adventure, and good misadventures are great in the retelling, and Harris’s car seat needed a good cleaning anyway.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy 3rd B-day Mackiedoo!

Mac chose to go to the zoo on his birthday.

We saw flamingoes (did you know that they are pink because of the small crustaceans they eat? Their bodies absorb the pigment, hence the pink tint.)

Ruthie had been wanting to find this hairless creepy creature last time we went to the zoo, and this time we found it- it is a naked mole rat! They live in a colony and the queen, who bears the young, has an elongated body so she can carry babies and still fit through the tubes of the colony. They are so creepy, their teeth are outside their mouths. Once again I am reminded of a hilarious book by Mo Willems, called Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. It is the tale of one of these mole rats who decides he likes to wear clothes, and shocks his whole community. Check it out.

We saw a giant panda...

And ducks swimming in a beautiful pond under brilliantly colored leaves...

Fun with panda...

Jay, the sloth bear...And much more. I loved the otters, they played and wrestled in and out of the water the whole time we watched them. And we saw deer, that were not part of the zoo- they live in DC in the wooded park that surrounds the zoo. One of the deer was an 11 (or more) point buck. Crazy. We saw on the news recently that a doe accidentally jumped into the lion enclosure- and of course was attacked. She got away but had to be captured and euthanized. I bet that was one shocked deer. "Wait a minute...lions aren't native to North America! What the...?" as she ran for her life. And the lion, "Oh baby, live prey! I didn't know it but this is what I live for! I got some serious instincts kicking in right now!"
We had a fun day, with a just-us party which was nice. We certainly missed our family and friends from Down South that couldn't come this year- but there is a time for everything! And I think we won't ever take it for granted again. Mac loved his gifts, the trip to the zoo, and his Lightning McQueen cake! And we love Mac and can't believe he is three years old. He is such a joy, such a fun boy, full of life and adventure and silliness.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ready to GO

Harris is ready to go! He gets so frustrated because he can't put it all together and start crawling yet. I am about 1/3 ready for him to get it, but probably 2/3 not ready- this means baby proofing a new house, with two other children not used to keeping small or dangerous objects off the floor. Plus we have stairs. Yikes. But isn't he handsome! I could really just eat him up.
A disclaimer for the grandmothers, other concerned citizens and Child Protective Services:
Don't worry, I was very close to Harris as I took these pictures of him on the changing table. No, I do not walk away and leave him unattended.

She likes me Chunky

Boys only bathtime! This was Harris's first sitting up bathtime (I usually use a big bath sponge and lay him down on it), and he was so intent on playing I couldn't get him to look up and smile. Mac wanted to join in with his baby brother so he jumped in and they had fun together.

Fall Bonfire

Last weekend we had our friends the LeRoys (Laurie, Adam, and their kids Mella (3), and Dante(1), and one on the way!) over for chili, hot-dogs, and a bonfire in our firepit out back. It was a lovely, cold but not too cold evening, and despite the trouble with the oldness of the firewood in getting the fire going, we had a great time. The kids played in the leaves (this was before Mackie made the pile his potty) and ran around, and decided they preferred un-roasted marshmallows.

Finally they pull their weight around here...ummm, I mean Fall Fun!

This was a week or so ago, in our side yard. This week one of the piles in the back yard was still there and Mac informed me that he had peed in the pile while he and Sissy were out playing. Note to self. Don't jump in that pile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All I want for Christmas is....

These beautiful cloth-bound books from Anthropologie. Once again I am drawn to books, like a moth to a flame, except the books don't kill me, in fact, quite the contrary. Here is something I wrote about books recently...

I have this dreadful habit of acquiring old crumbly books. They seem to have a whisper of eternity about them. The written word, passed down from generation to generation. Containing the genius and creativity of men and women long dead, but still so relevant that the authors scarcely seem dead.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Washington Monument

Mac came and got me last week, excitedly telling me that he had built the Washington Monument! I think he did a wonderful job. You can see him jumping up and down with great energy and excitement.
George would be glad to know that my kids are such big fans of his. Ruthie is constantly asking to go to "that place where George Washington lived and is buried." They have found George on the quarter, and they love looking for the Monument when we're driving around town (there are certain places where on clear days the Monument can be seen.) Ruthie has been so curious about George, asking me tons about his faith and what he ate. She told me she felt like he was in her thoughts, like he was there when she went to bed and changed clothes and went potty. This made me laugh, but I think what she means is just that she is thinking about him alot, wondering about his life. I am glad she and Mac are learning and interested in history, and I plan on looking up some books for them to learn more about our great first president.

Ruthie Van Gogh

Mary and Baby Jesus
The Angel Gabriel


Mary and Baby Jesus

(Ruthie is obviously gearing up for Christmas. I love her art- check out the lovely lashed eyes on Mary and the halo and wings on Gabriel.)

The Kind You Find at a Secondhand Store

Secondhand store outfit:

Spanish Leather boots (7 1/2 Narrow): $6.96
Cream and tan wool houndstooth pencil skirt: $6.98
Pale pink belted sweater top: $2.98
Gap striped lambswool scarf: $2.98

TOTAL: $19.90

(I just have to comment on the boots which are a miracle to me. I have small, narrow feet and tiny calves. I have never been able to buy a pair of high boots like this because they are so wide around my calves that my legs look like that last fry sticking out of a fry carton. These actually sit perfectly on my weenie calves, and on top of that, they are narrows, which means probably the best fitting boots I have ever found. And for $7! I have to thank God. He has convicted me lately of my lack of trusting him with money. It is that simple and straightforward. It is tight around here due to the fact that we're paying a mortgage in Mobile, and rent here...I love thrift stores anyway, but I think this trip he really blessed me- I not only found this outfit but another plaid wool skirt (Ann Taylor) for a couple bucks, plus snow pants for Mac for a few bucks too.)

Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.

Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all.

I Chron 29:10-12

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

Fall leaves are fading, and now with Daylight Savings gone we are trying to soak up every minute of sunshine and nice fall weather. Monday we went on a walk up towards Mt. Vernon. There is a network of sidewalks and then trails through the woods that lead from our neighborhood up to the estate. We love it! The kids did great- it was about an hour round trip and they really didn't whine until the last 10 minutes or so. I carried Harris in the Ergo baby and he slept for about 45 minutes, leading me to think this is a great use of his morning nap. We saw some beautiful purple berries (that I am trying to i.d.), black squirrels**, dandelions for wishing and blowing and some brightly hued leaves for pressing.

(Fun Fact)
**Black squirrels were introduced to the Washington, D.C. area near the beginning of the 20th century at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Since their introduction, the population of black squirrels in Washington has slowly but steadily increased, and black individuals now account for up to 25% of some squirrel populations in the area. (from Wikipedia)


Last Saturday I put Harris on the Elmo couch in the playroom to play while I folded laundry. I looked over a couple of minutes later and he had fallen asleep. He has been working on another tooth plus getting over sniffles and he has been sleeping alot. I went upstairs briefly to get his room ready to lay him down, and when I came back downstairs lil' mama Ruthie had snuggled Harris in her arms and was just gazing down lovingly on his little self. It was so sweet- she whispered to me, "He never slept on me before" just in awe.