Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today...

Today would've been my Dad's birthday. I would love to talk to him and make a few "you're so old" jokes. I would love to put the phone to Love Bug's ear so she could show off one of her new words. And I would really love to just say hi and tell him how much I love him.

Today I'm am okay and I've finally come to a good place. I miss him, I don't like that he's gone, but dwelling on the bad does me no good, and it certainly doesn't honor him the way he deserves. My Dad was not the common virus (likely just a cold) that attacked his heart- he was such a healthy man. And the day my Mom found his body, after his spirit had already gone, does no justice to the rest of the days he really lived. He was someone who told great stories, could make anyone laugh, and someone people loved to talk to. He was a kind and faithful husband to my Mom until the day he died and he was the best Dad to my brother and me. He was a wonderful friend, a fabulous person to work for, and a good neighbor. To focus on the day my Dad died, rather than the 19,011 other wonderful days of his life, is unfair to the kind of positive person he was.

Today I pray for the rest of my family. I wake up everyday and choose to be here, in this good place. Some family members are so far away from closure, and still haven't been able to let him go. I hope they can find their way because the memory of him is much better from here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shower Curtain Hooks

I was going to write a Works-for-me-Wednesday post, but I had to ask about you all about shower curtain hooks instead. Does anyone hate these things? When I was back in the states last fall and shopping for our new place, I had to look for some. We only had one shower in Paris and the rings there were breaking, after being used for nearly 6 years. I shopped and these shower curtain hooks seemed to be the latest thing, so I bought them. They were only slightly more expensive than the regular rings and looked like so much fun.

Well, they are not fun. Not at all. Every time I try to move the curtain, even just slightly, a few hooks fall off. If you really forget and move fast, about half come off. I just don't have time to worry about this, especially since I shower (with the curtain in) and Love Bug baths (with the curtain out), in the same tub. I've seen some reviews that state you need a heavier curtain to hold the hooks in place. My shower curtain is thick plastic and the fabric curtain that hangs outside (on the same hooks) is pretty heavy as well, so this is not the problem.

When you look online to find something else, all you can see for miles are these stupid hooks. I finally called my Mom to help me since she's the one that will ultimately buy these things anyway. (She visits next week and always brings me lots of goodies.) She had the same problem and knows where to find those great rings with the rollers on the top. Anyway else feel the way we do? Why do stores keep ordering these hooks if no one likes them?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sand, Sand Everywhere!

We went to the beach today. It took less than an hour to be out in the warm sun (85 and sunny!) from our front door to our rented lounge chairs. We all loaded up on sunscreen so Love Bug just has a very light color... yeah, no burn! B and I weren't so lucky... we were so worried about Love Bug's skin that we did our sunscreen very quickly and left out some spots. I have a weird red patch down my right leg and the tops of B's feet are like lobsters with toes. We also look like we're straight out of Braveheart with crazy red streaks all over our faces. Our backs are fine (which we did for each other), so at least we know that we still care about each other, just not ourselves anymore!

We played in the sand, visited the playground on the beach, and ate some pizza for lunch. By the time we asked a friend who joined us what time it was, four hours had gone by and none of us had realized it! That was more than enough Vitamin D for one day, so we packed up and headed to the car.

Once we got home, I realized that the amazing childhood phenomenon of sand getting everywhere, extends as a Mom. You have to clean out everything once you arrive home and are no longer responsible for just your shoes and yourself. Sand not only shows up in weird places all over your swimsuits, it finds its way into pages of a book, crevices of every water bottle you have, and even ends up as a large pile of sand just inside your front door. I washed our towels and as the water was draining out after the first rinse cycle, I watched sand flow out of the washer and down the drain for what seemed like minutes! Our guest room/laundry room has a bathroom attached. Living in an old place, they installed the washer years later and have it draining in the tub of the bathroom. You can see everything that drains, which is normally just a few pieces of lint, not almost a cup of sand! I put the rest of our beach gear in that bathroom and plan to continue cleaning out tomorrow!

I have never noticed this problem when we've been at my Mom's condo in Florida and we've spent a lot of time there over the years. It's a vacation home, so I guess a little sand doesn't seem so gross there, but I need a better system of sand control. We love the beach, and with it only being an hour away, I'm sure we'll be there almost every weekend! Does anyone have any good ideas? Should I just keep everything we used today in one bag and designate that our beach bag, like my Mom does in Florda? Should I shake towels out more thoroughly once we get home and park in our garage? Any tips you have would be really helpful. We've never lived so close to the ocean before and I want to really enjoy it and not dread the clean up afterwards!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The last two weeks...

First, I'm blue... no, not sad. I'm having a boy! As much as I wanted Love Bug to have a sister (and I do have all these gorgeous girl clothes), I'm so excited! As my friend says, "You won the gender lottery". I don't know if I'd say that, but it is nice to know that I'll get to experience motherhood with both a girl and a boy. We go for a more detailed ultrasound next week and I know my husband is excited to see for himself that, yes, it is a boy. I told him that I saw "it" pretty clearly, but I guess he just wants to make sure!

I continue to have annoying little worries crop up, and it reminds me that I took my easy pregnancy with Love Bug for granted. My doctor told me, just after we saw that it was a boy, that I have a low-lying placenta. It should move up on it's own, since almost 20% of pregnancies at this point, 20 weeks, are low like mine. Fortunately less than 1% are that way by the end, so it certainly looks good for me. But just the same, pray for me... partially for my placenta to move, but also to just relax and quit worrying about everything. I need to trust in God's plan to bring me a healthy baby and keep me healthy, and sane, throughout.

Well, it wasn't a computer virus that kept me away, like I thought (or now wish)... our poor laptop is going. This computer has served us well; it has probably travelled 20,000 miles or more, been dropped a few times, and banged on by a toddler for the last few months. It's over 3 years old and is just wishing for a peaceful end. We're doing just that, running it in safe mode, until my Mom brings our new laptop when she visits in two weeks. We ordered our new one, complete with the touchscreen that I'm drooling over, and as much as I'll miss this little guy, I'm excited to see all the new features it has! After we're set up, we'll clean out the hard drive and donate the old one for parts.

I'll catch you all up on my home-improvements projects after I download some pictures. After two weeks without internet, I see just how much I've gotten done! We now have curtains or blinds in every room, and I've planted all my window boxes. I'm working on some other projects too (baby proofing, some t-shirt quilts) and I'll incorporate many of my pictures into my posts over the next few weeks. We're going to the beach on Monday (for Memorial Day) so I'll have those pictures to share as well.

I'm glad to be back and you'll see my comments more and more these days, I hope. I had 196 posts to catch up on when I logged on to my reader... but I'm almost done. As I said after my last bloggy break... us bloggers are a long-winded bunch!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keep Your Fingers Crossed!

The english-speaking computer technician is coming tonight! Please cross your fingers for me. I'm tired of bumming computer time of off increasingly annoyed friends!

See you all soon... I hope!

Monday, May 12, 2008

*UPDATED* Moms, Virus, and a Prayer

I have a great mother's day post... but of course I typed it on word. I'll find it when we get our computer back (see below) and post it soon!

Our computer has a virus and I'll be out of commission for a few days at least. I'll miss you and check in when I can. *B (my husband) is trying to find our virus scan disk, so hopefully in a few days.... *

Please also say a prayer for me tomorrow. I have my appointment with the endocrinologist. It sounds like everything should be fine and they just need to monitor my thyroid hormones, but I'll feel better when I know that for sure. *UPDATE: Everything went great at the endo! He did an ultrasound of my neck and they said that everything looks fine. We'll just continue doing the blood tests and monitor it to see that the levels go back to normal after I have the baby.*

Have a great week!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Diaper decisions...

As I told you a few months ago, I've been unable to use the more biodegradable diapers at times, because I can't find them. Really I want to go one better anyway and start using cloth diapers or something similar. I've been researching cloth diapers for about a month and the maintenance (multiple washings) sounds pretty environmentally unfriendly! Nicol had a comment that mentioned gDi.apers- does anything use these or know about these? It seems that gDiapers, while expensive, are less work and better for the environment. Our toilets have a half flush option, so if that works, it may use less water too. Anyone have any other ideas?



Speaking of the environment, I got a great email from my friend Lynn with a great video to watch. You can check it out here. Eye opening stuff! Make sure you also check out the 10 recommendations for another way! I love all of them, but number 2 is my personal goal right now. We're down to one 13 gallon bag (medium trashcan) per week... yeah!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What-Doesn't-Work-for-me-Wednesday: Antibacterial Soaps and Lotions

I'm definitely a germ-conscience Mom, but now I'm questioning my love for anything antibacterial. More and more reports are saying that kids need more exposure to germs. Adding to my concern is that in the last 3 days, I have read two very scary articles...



Daycare may protect kids from leuk.emia... if you'd like to avoid reading it, it basically says that some kids are born with a genetic mutation and if they get certain infections, it can trigger leuk.emia. The theory is that if children are exposed to and contract many infections in early childhood, they will have better immunity later.



The next article I read was from Pare.nts Magazine called "Surprising News About Diabe.tes". The don't know exactly what causes type I diabe.tes, but they think it could be caused by environmental factors. One they mention is Extreme Cleanliness, since many of our kids aren't exposed to normal germs, their immune systems aren't as strong, which can cause an auto-immune reaction in the pancreas... type I diabe.tes.



Now, don't get me wrong. I am a Stay-At-Home Mom and plan to keep it that way. Daycare has some positives, but also has some negatives, and I won't change my parenting philosophies for a theoretical risk... especially if I can do something about it.



I have decided to stop buying antibacterial gels and hand soaps. Many pediatricians, including mine, seem to think we should anyway. And maybe we should be scheduling more play dates and playgroups, even if kids are sick, to expose everyone to normal germs. I need to be careful of disease since I'm pregnant and I'll also want to be careful once the baby is born. But once the baby is a few months old, I will swear off them for good.



Now, if I could only get Bath & Bo.dy Works to make a hand soap without antibacterial properties. I love their scents so much! Anyone know if they already make it? Anyone want to join me in emailing them to request that they start a new line of regular (non-antibacterial) hand soaps?


To share what doesn't work for you, stop by Shannon's blog, Rocks in my Dryer.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pregnant? Oh yeah, I forgot!

I apologize for the messed up spacing and font... I couldn't get it back to normal and had to put these periods in to keep spaces between paragraphs!
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I realized I haven't told you all much about my pregnancy. When you have another child to take care of, it's not on your mind constantly, like it was your first time. That's not to say I'm not excited and feeling incredibly blessed... it just means that I really don't have much time to think about it! When I do think about it, what I find incredible is that this happened without even trying- we hoped to be settled in Italy before we had another baby. Love Bug was conceived after scary tests, over two years of trying, and lots of prayer. She was a miracle, but to be considered "fertile" now is even more miraculous.
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I'm almost 18 weeks. We have the big ultrasound in three weeks and will hopefully find out what we're having. I know, I know... I'm no fun. It's for my sanity really. All of our baby gear is neutral, but we have a problem in the clothing department (picture all pink, all flowers... all the time). I will have to buy a few things for each age range if it's a boy. I won't go crazy, but I can't leave the house with him dressed in pink all the time. Poor child might end up in a few of Love Bug's sleepers as it is. A healthy baby is the most important thing, so we don't care what gender it is, but secretly, I hope it's a girl. I didn't have a sister and would be thrilled if Love Bug did.

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I've felt pretty good... just some typical morning sickness and heartburn. My doctor now thinks I have a thyroid problem. I'm going to see an endocrinologist to have an ultrasound of my thyroid done next week. My actual thyroid hormones are great, but my thyroid stimulating hormone is really low. They think it's either small thyroid nodule or just a problem at the lab. They've successfully reassured me that it's not cancer, since my TSH would be normal (not low) and I'd have a noticeable lump (which I don't), so that makes me feel better. Please pray for the baby's safety, and mine as well. But hey, knock on wood that this is my worst complication, and I'll be one happy Momma.

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So far Love Bug has no idea (obviously, she's only 18 months), but we have a few babies for her to carry around. We will keep those as a focus as the day gets closer. The only big impact on her was that we stopped breastfeeding a month ago. I decided in the end that it was such an amazing bonding experience between the two of us and it was only fair to the new baby to repeat this one-on-one time. Maybe it sounds silly, but I didn't want the new baby to have to compete for my attention in that way, and I didn't want to stop too late, for fear that Love Bug might be mad that the baby took this special time away from her. Love Bug had weaned herself down to two feeds on their own, so I forced the last two, but she took it really well. No interruptions in her schedule and she has never pulled my shirt up once. We made it almost 17 months, with no need for formula or supplements, and I feel really good about that.

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I definitely feel more prepared, if that's reassuring to those of you who have yet to attempt round two. I have the maternity clothes, know what to expect, and generally feel much less worried and stressed about this pregnancy. I'll keep you posted, but really, with a toddler to chase around, it will hopefully keep going by quickly, happily, and healthily.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Book Posting, Number 1

As I said when I came back from my blog break, I'm hoping to post my reactions to the books I've read, here on my blog. You'll see by my posts, I just come by most books randomly. The one English speaking library here is small and the findings are often random. I could go in with a list of 10-20 books I'd love to read, and come out with 3 or 4 completely different ones that look good. In fact, most of my friends agree with me that they have never found the book they were looking for! I've read 6 books since I arrived, mostly chic lit, to sooth my crazy soul after days of unpacking and finding my way around Italy. I've finally read something I wanted to post about, so here it is...

As you know, we've had trouble with our neighbors. I've been able to pray about it and reflect on what in their life was making them so loud and inconsiderate of other people. Your comments after that post were so kind, but really I have to give the credit to a book I just read.

I can't honestly tell you why this book came into my life, but I know it was meant to be. It's a sad book and I tend to read only sad things that I know that I can handle. With my Dad's unexpected death just two years ago, a story of a dying father would not make the top of my "to read" list. I think I took it in the end, because it was about a pastor, and I already enjoyed the Mitford Series so much.

As hard as my Dad's death was on me, it was also so very hard for my Mom, so I'm sure you'd never think I'd find it on her bookshelves. But that's exactly where it was. I asked her after I read it, why she would buy such a sad book, so close to our situation? My Mom explained that it was a book from her book club, and normally she would never have bought it either.

The book is Pulitzer Prize winning Gilead, by Maril.ynne Ro.binson. Here is the paragraph that really changed how I was viewing my neighbors, and it's changed how I view everyone I meet as well:

"When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone at all, it is as if a question is being put to you. So you must think, What is the Lord asking of me in this moment, in this situation? If you confront insult or antagonism, your first impulse will be to respond in kind. But if you think, as it were, This is an emissary sent from the Lord, and some benefit is intended for me, first of all the occasion to demonstrate my faithfulness, the chance to show that I do in some small degree participate in the grace that saved me, you are free to act otherwise than as circumstances would seem to dictate. You are free to act by your own light. You are freed at the same time of the impulse to hate or resent that person. He would probably laugh at the thought that the Lord sent him to you for your benefit (and his), but that is the perfection of the disguise, his own ignorance of it."

So I've been working on this. Working on my usual reactions to the people and things that bother me. It's hard, after years of scoffing at those who walk too slow, at people who jump on the bus before I can get off with my big stroller, to change how I feel about them. I'm trying to look at slow walkers, as a question to myself, "Do you really need to get somewhere that fast? Can you slow down and enjoy the world around you?" I try to see the bus crazies as the question to myself, "Do you need to talk the bus? Could you benefit from exercise of walking and pushing a stroller instead?"

It's been helping a lot. Does anyone think about things like this when they're dealing with difficult people? Any recent situations you want to share, like with my neighbors?