Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Last night Marc said, "I need to go back to work tomorrow to recover from the weekend."
It all began on Wednesday night when I went to a French cafe in Alexandria, Virginia to meet Washington, D.C. area folks who follow the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog. It was really fun to meet some like-minded people (though, I must tell you I was the only housewife in the bunch). I was so charmed by Alexandria that I told Marc it should be our next date night destination. Marc did not take much convincing and promptly called his mom to babysit. Friday night, Grandma and the Aunties watched Joseph while Marc and I went to Alexandria. We walked along the water and along the shops on King Street, we rode the trolley and ate at Eammon's.

Saturday morning I took the metro downtown to the Grand Hyatt where a former professor of mine was giving a presentation at the Global Awareness Society International Conference. Marc enjoyed staying at home and working on his garden with Joseph.

Saturday afternoon we went to a birthday party for Cousin Lila. It was fun to see so many members of Marc's family. Joseph had a ball playing on their trampoline. And as always, the food at Fatima's was amazing.

Saturday night we went to the rehearsal for the National Memorial Day Concert on the steps of the Capitol. It was a beautiful night, great performances--and a grassy area where Joseph immediately joined in playing chase with a bunch of other children. Joseph has no hesitancy to jump right in to any game with kids he doesn't know. He usually just starts chasing them--and they chase right back.
Sunday night we had Aunt Joyce, Uncle Dave and Cousin Missy over for dinner. Aunt Joyce and Uncle Dave are in town for a few days before heading out to Utah for the summer. Our little card table is getting lots of use, but we really need to get serious about finding a dining table. Missy and Joseph had a picnic (read: our guest ate sitting on the floor!!!) because we didn't all fit at the table. Missy is a great sport.

Memorial Day, 2009: Gettysburg (otherwise pronounced "Spaghettisburg" by Joseph)
We took our bikes and rode around the park, had a picnic lunch, climbed the overlook tower, explored rocks--and found frogs and lizards.

Monday evening we went to Missy's for a barbeque--which was delicious and classy (as only Missy can do). Joseph was delighted by magic tricks from Aunt Joyce and Grandpa Lincoln. We fed the ducks and Joseph played "soccer" with Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Rachel. We got home past bedtime, tired but happy for such a fun packed weekend.

May 23-25,2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What is Art?

At the Embassy of Bangladesh, I got my hand painted with a beautiful henna design. Joseph was very interested in this. He decided he needed to be beautified as well.
May 2009

Embassy Days

Our third annual tour of the Embassy open houses was a smashing success. This has become one of our favorite family traditions. This year, there were two weekends of open houses so we could double the fun.

At the Irish Embassy, we tasted the food of Ireland (black pudding anyone?)and learned that our next door neighbors are caterers--and were catering this event!

Joseph would not let us leave until every last dance was finished. Maybe he can take Irish dance lessons someday.

Outside the the Embassy of Pakistan
At the Malaysian Embassy, Joseph found a friend. In a huge empty ballroom, Joseh went and sat directly next to this little boy to watch a video. Later the room filled as we watched a live dance performance (before trying out our own dancing skills). Joseph and his new friend were inseparable.

Inside the stunning Italian Embassy. The video with gorgeous footage and music that they showed in a leather seated theater had me ready to move to Italy.

Outside the Italian Embassy, this Ferrari convinced Marc to join me in Italy.

Joseph got a Romanian flag painted on his face.
One of our favorite embassies was Latvia. It looked like a medevial castle on the inside. They also had some traditional singing/chanting.

We visited the Embassies of Nepal, Bangladesh, Benin, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Serbia, Italy, Ireland, Romania, Latvia, and Sweden.

May 2 and May 9, 2009

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Tonight as I have been procrastinating writing my Mother's Day talk for sacrament meeting, I came across this essay that I wrote a while back . . .

When I was pregnant with my son, my husband went with me to the midwife for our first appointment. Midwife. Doesn’t that sound relaxed, natural, peaceful? The exact opposite of the intense, extreme, all-or-nothing woman that I am. I had already fired my first obstetrician and was trying out other options. One of the questions on the clipboard of paperwork was, “What do you do to relax?” My husband started laughing. Relax? I filled in the answer: “Getting things done helps me relax.”

Somehow I thought that giving birth naturally, without medication would be a good idea for me. It seemed the hardest option—so therefore it must be the best option. If anything, I am of the “no pain, no gain” generation. I dragged my husband to birthing classes with me where he coached me with scripts about imagining myself in a place with lush green grass and beautiful waterfalls where I would feel no pain. When I had a fit of hysterics because I hadn’t bought a relaxation CD and started “practicing” my relaxation yet, he sampled all the forest and ocean sounds CDs right along with me. I religiously listened to my recorded affirmations and practiced mental relaxation every night in my darkened bedroom.

Weeks before my due date, I visited the hospital and pre-registered so we could seamlessly check in during my delivery. I brought copies of my “birth preferences” to pass out so everyone who would work with me would know what kind of birth I was going to have. Soft lighting in the room, a nurse who prefers to work with natural deliveries, only intermittent monitoring so I could freely “walk through” my birth, no medication, no reference to a “pain scale”—instead instructing everyone to ask about my comfort level.

All of this in preparation for the most important day of my life: the birth of my child. This day of all days must be perfect. I would remember it forever, right? It would be the start of our new family, of my child’s life in this world.

Even I, the most controlling and uptight woman couldn’t plan for what happened. I couldn’t control that I was in a car accident that broke my foot six weeks before the baby was born. I spent the final six weeks looking like a woman about to burst, precariously perched on crutches in the middle of a snowy winter. On what was to be my most important day, I hobbled in to deliver my son in a walking cast.

As the nurses checked me in to the dimly lit delivery room and my husband started setting up our stereo with my relaxing music, the nurses started hooking me up to monitors. Going against all my plans, I had to be attached to monitors since the baby had not been moving enough at my last check-up. I began to panic because I realized I wouldn’t be able to move about as much with monitors that slipped off with every move. I wouldn’t be able to walk the halls. My plan wasn’t going as planned. But I also knew panicking was the worst thing I could do when I’m supposed to be in the zone. Argh! Focus on not panicking. NOW!

I had prepared for labor. In addition to my relaxation music, I had packed homemade wheat bagel pizzas for my husband so he wouldn’t get hungry during the labor. I had packed lotion for him to rub on me to help me stay relaxed and enjoying my mental happy place with the lush green grass and beautiful waterfalls. The smell of the lotion made me ill. Before he ate more than a bite of his pizza, I snapped, “Get out of here. That smells awful!”

Nothing was working. Nothing was going as planned. I spent hours laboring without much “progress.” Don’t they know better than to tell a Type-A control freak that she is not making any “progress?” So, they gave me medication to increase the contractions. The drugs made the contractions hurt worse, but I still wasn’t making any headway. I tried laboring in a warm bathtub which is actually more like fitting a swollen whale into a puddle of water. I tried sitting on the birthing ball—a.k.a the exercise ball I’d actually never been successful at sitting on for a workout much less delivering a baby. I tried visualizing my body opening up like petals on a flower. But, dammit, my body isn’t a flower! I was vomiting and convulsing, and my perfectly planned birth experience was imploding right in front of me. Finally, I begged for pain medications. And I sobbed. Mostly I sobbed because I had failed at my beautifully planned, natural birth experience.

One drug increased the contractions while another took away the pain so I could finally relax enough to “progress” far enough to start pushing. I loved pushing. It felt so proactive. No more waiting around! My husband and a nurse each propped up a leg as I pushed. “My broken foot isn’t even hurting,” I thought even as I pushed it against my husband with all my might. Then I remembered the epidural was numbing everything, including my foot. Almost three hours of pushing later, my baby’s head began to crown, but he still wasn’t coming out. Apparently all of the medical personnel in the room could tell from his head that this was a big baby because all around me they started making bets about how big he was going to be. He was 9 pounds and 15 ounces; one ounce shy of ten pounds and red faced and slightly cone headed from the delivery. And the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. The world stood still. I couldn’t have planned to enjoy it so perfectly.

It turns out I didn’t control a single thing about the most important day of my life. But, it was the first day of the rest of my life where I can’t control much of anything. When he was a newborn, I couldn’t control when he slept or when he woke; I couldn’t control the blistered breasts from nursing or the post partum depression. Now that he’s a toddler, I still can’t control what he’ll eat or what embarrassing thing he blurts out at family gatherings. I can’t even control how much I love him; I can’t shut it off. It just overtakes my whole being. And I can’t make him love me back. So now, when he hugs me and says “Mommy, I love you with my whole heart,” I know I didn’t control, force or even plan that. It is just like the most important day of my life when he was born—a gift that I don’t control, but just enjoy—intensely!

May 9, 2009