Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pass the Germs, Please

Parenting is great. I know that I am not saying anything new, but it is better than I thought that it would be.

Some days are difficult because the needs and wants of an infant (rapidly moving to toddler) are relentless. I liken it to swimming against the tide, sometimes there is no hope, and it just wears you down.

A few weeks ago Madden brought home some sort of illness from daycare. Poor thing was up all night for two nights running and Beth and I, being diligent parents, were up as well. Since Beth is still feeding Madden, her defenses were down and got sick almost immediately as well. I was spared, good thing too, because someone has to take care of the others. Madden got over it within a few days but Beth struggled with it for weeks. In fact it got worse and she didn’t improve. Beth thinks that once she builds up immunity that she passes it right to Madden. I am not sure this is medically sound but it is a good working theory. Everything around here remains OK as long as one of us is well – that task became mine.

It is at this point when the young one ends up sneezing in my face. If my life had a sound track, the theme song from Jaws would be playing in the background. It is then that the hard work starts. Beth is unwell, I am unwell, and little metabolism Madden is just fine and since she HAD been sick, is still waking up several times in a night. She is still waking anywhere between 4:30 and 6:00AM for the day. During these early hours we would bring her into bed with us thinking that she may fall back to sleep. She rarely does but we are still hopeful. Sometimes I lie very very still so that she won’t notice me. To move in even the smallest way is to get her attention. It is a good morning when Madden chooses to poke, prod, yell at, and chew on the OTHER person.

My parenting approach is trying to avoid mistakes and I figure everything else will take care of itself. So far we have been lucky, nothing major. Madden is healthy and happy. Which makes us happy…..We are still working on the healthy.

I thought that I would post the top ten boneheaded parenting moves that I have made so far. I am happy to report that most are pretty mild.

10. Running out of nappies
9. Running out of nappy wipes
8. Traveling on a road trip while she is sick
7. Feeding her a bottle in the car seat on a road trip while she is sick
6. Forgetting to pack a bottle for Madden's after swim snack
5. Realizing that she got a shock after chewing on the end of a computer power cord.
4. Trying to get her to sit in the bathtub – oops.
3. Stepping on her fingers
2. Watching while she toppled 11 cans of Sprite on top of herself.
1. Forgetting that I had just peeled a bunch of garlic, I applied nappy rash cream to her sore

Thursday, May 28, 2009


This is how babies keep up with their grandparents when they live 10,000 miles away. Heck, if babies (or grandparents)can figure it out, so can you. It's free. It's easy. It's downloadable with the click of a button. Skype!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random Tuesdays

It’s Tuesday. It’s random. It’s just how it is.

I have never seen a shop here that sells popcorn. Ever. Movie theaters offer popcorn and it tastes like it was made two weeks ago. But back to the popcorn shops – remember all those shops in the 80’s in the US that sold JUST POPCORN. Seriously, did they really think that business model would actually last? And do you remember the tins that you could purchase for housing the popcorn? Those tins cost a silly amount but you could keep them and put stuff in them. What stuff? More popcorn?

Most of my coworkers are Australians and I find that when I am reading an email from one of them, it plays out in my head with their accent. Perhaps this happens because it’s a rather infectious way of speaking.
However, most recently we have hired someone from the UK and now that seems to be infiltrating my brain as well. After just a 15 minute conversation with him, everything I read plays along in my head in the Queen’s English – even MY OWN writing.
Spot of tea, anyone?

Speaking of accents…When I am meeting someone new in one of my accounts, I introduce myself this way, “Hi, I’m Elizabeth from Boston Scientific…”
For some reason, certain people don’t hear the last word of that statement. I know that I’m in for an awkward situation when they start to talk about whether or not they’ve been in Boston or if they’ve visited America at all. After this goes on for a bit, they will usually realize something is amiss and politely ask, “So, Elizabeth from Boston, what company do you represent?”

Cords, Outlets, Dishwasher, Shoelaces = Madden’s favorite toys

In our house we have several cute little soft cuddly toys for baby. Has she bonded with them? NO. Instead, she has chosen to bond with a felt block that we got for free from a local fair. About eight weeks ago this fabric block was rather OK, but is now flattened to an oval, covered in drool, and overall just nasty. That ridiculous thing is her favorite. Other toys forsaken, I am sorry to report that (much to the chagrin of her parents) this felt nasty cube is the chosen one.

In an effort to get our child to bond with something other than the felt nasty block, we purchased a new little set of toys for Madden. It was a box of cloth sea creatures - some rattled, some squeaked, and one even had crinkly paper inside. Four soft little toys that we knew she would adore. We proudly lay the box on the floor and she pulled out the toys one at a time and unceremoniously dumped them on the floor.

Then she got a huge smile on her face and squealed in delight as she stuffed the paper packaging into her mouth. The toys remained untouched on the floor but our daughter proceeded to play with the packaging and the box itself for the next day and a half.

A note to all shoe-free households: Please stop making your guests deposit their footwear at the door and walk around in their stocking feet for the duration of the evening. It is simply not realistic. My feet get cold in your home. My pants are tailored to the bottom of my heel and I personally like making people think I’m actually 5 foot 8 inches tall. Besides, the best part of my outfit are my new shoes.

Whenever I’m chatting with patients and they mention that they have been married for a number of years (40 or 50 years of marriage is not unusual), I ask them to share their secrets. This idea is actually borrowed from a friend of mine whom I used to work with at United in St. Paul. Anyway, patients will usually giggle for a while until they realize I’m serious. Then they put some deep thought into their answers.

I have been asking this question for about 5 years now and I love the replies. Most people say things like “Don’t go to bed angry…Marry the right person…or communicate.” All excellent advice and I love the look on their faces as they are thinking about their own relationships.

Some of my favorite bits of advice have included “Just remember you each need to do 70% of the work…Hold hands…and let the other person win.” One elderly woman winked and said, “Oh, honey, it works because I always let him drive the car.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I find myself sitting in the dermatologist’s office waiting to have the doctor look at a spot on my back. Apparently, this spot has been growing steadily for the past year and my lovely hubby who can actually see it on my back told me it was time to have it checked. So, here I am. Waiting. And waiting. It’s nice. I have a little me time. Normally I think I’d be peeved about waiting, but at this time in my life, I’m happy to have a moment to myself. I look at my watch and realize I’m waiting because I actually arrived early. Um, really early.

So, for the first time in months, I find myself reading a magazine. And I am really getting into reading this magazine. So much so, I miss it when they call my name. And I’m the one and only person in the waiting room.

The particular article I was reading was commentary from women sharing their experiences about being 30, 40, 50, and 60 years old. It was well written and a fantastic read, but I was cut short and I didn’t finish it. Perhaps it being unfinished for me is why it’s still very much on my mind - but I think it also really spoke to me. I’d love to chase it up and have a read of it from start to finish, but I didn’t catch the magazines title and I think the issue was September 2007 anyway.

Having reached a new decade myself in January, age has been on my mind. Well, not so much age as stage in life and how I feel about my age and where I am versus where I thought I’d be.

First of all, I don’t feel 40. I can’t remember what I thought 40 would feel like, but it wasn’t like this. Older maybe? More together? More in control? Inside I’m still the same insecure geeky girl I was in grade school. I’m surprised everyone doesn’t see it – but they don’t.

I’m not where I want to be but I’m OK with where I’m at, for now. In 5 years time, I don’t know what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be but it will be different from now. I’m more accepting of change and the good and bad that goes with it, but I look for something to grasp for security.

40 has brought exhaustion. Blame it on age, work, or baby. Whatever. But dang, I’m tired! I just want 5 more minutes of sleep. People, it’s all I ask. 5 more minutes.

I also want more time. The clock moves faster and faster...days become weeks….weeks roll into months and suddenly, its Christmas again. Year after year, it’s Christmas and next year I swear I’ll buy gifts earlier, and I’ll get into the spirit of the season more, and it won’t be so chaotic, if I could only breathe, and then it’s Christmas again. Eek.

And every year I go through more gallons of moisturizer and yet those lines are not going away. The ones around my eyes show up in photos now. So do the bags. Because I just want 5 more minutes of sleep.

In my 20’s I had time to do extensive make up and elaborate hair. I would like a bit of that time back. I promise I’d spend it more wisely.

I would also like to be back in a smaller size. But I’m not. And strangely, it doesn’t torment me like it would have a decade ago.

When I spend time in front of a mirror these days, it’s because I’m holding a baby and she wants to see herself. For the first time in my life, I know what I look like when I genuinely smile and laugh, because I can see it played back at me. I look happy.

Work and baby leave no time for some of the things I used to love to do – pottery, nights out, good books, working out, gardening, traveling, and cooking. I think these things have stopped in part because she’s just a baby still. I miss them and I’ll get back to them over time but I’m not willing to pursue them now at the expense of cutting my time with my family short.

I find I feel a greater connection to the world around. World events shape me and haunt me more than ever.

There is more calm at this age than there was at 20 or 30. There is also far less drama. I am no longer fighting small battles, but find that I sometimes become outraged by inequities within a greater system.

I notice a desire to learn. I’m shamed that I can’t recite the names of the US Presidents in order. Certainly I should have learned this along the way. I find myself staring at world maps. I desperately want a greater understanding of the political machine, world economies, and investing. I demand to know who got us into a global financial crisis.

Sometimes, like in this doctor’s office simply reading a magazine, I get a nostalgic feeling about my past. I can vividly remember everything from studying in college to living in Italy to starting a job in Aspen. It’s like a flood sometimes. I miss moments of it but I’m more aware, content, and fulfilled in my life now.

Mainly I just think, how did I get here? Wasn’t I just 20? Weren’t my sister’s kids just babies? When did we all grow up?

I came across a birthday card once that read, “Inside every old person is a young person that wondered what the heck happened.” Does that mean when I’m 90 I’m still going to feel like an insecure, geeky grade schooler?

Oh, and that spot on my back…it’s fine. “It’s what we call a liver spot,” said the dermatologist. “It’s something that happens with age.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Since writing a blog entry in my head and actually getting one posted are two entirely different beasts, I've decided to copy an idea from someone else's blog. Jenni over at Oscarelli posts what she calls "Random Tuesday's". I've been a bit scatterbrained with my thoughts and ideas and this seems a good way to get the ball rolling. Besides, none of these things are actually enough to be an entry on their own. Let the Randomness begin…

I ran into a customer today that I haven’t seen since before taking maternity leave. She asked how things were going and I went on and on and on. I couldn't help it. She also went on and on about her own two kids. Finally, she asked if I was getting used to being someones mum and I had to pause.
The answer is no. I still don't think of myself as someones mom.
Sometimes when Madden is in her cot sleeping, I sit by her side and thank the lord that she is in my life. Yet I don't think of her as "mine." In my mind she's just this sweet little being that has come to live with Eric and me. Sometime, her real parents will show up at our door and want her back, but until that time, she's staying with us and we are going to have a lot of fun.

On my route home from work, I drive past a beautiful old Victorian church tucked neatly into a neighborhood. Outside the front of the church is a very unattractive black digital sign. It's the type of sign that flashes or scrolls typed bright red words across its length. On Monday evenings the sign boldly flashes the words AA MEETING TONIGHT. So much for that second A.

Apparently we don't have the Greek alphabet in Australia.
Here is the conversation when I had to spell a patients name over the phone…

Me: That’s S as in Sam, E like elephant and K like Kappa….
Other: Don't you mean C like cuppa?
Me: (Pause) That's K as in Kappa
Other: Kappa?
Me: Yes
Other: We don't have Kappa's here

One of our favorite Australian shows is "Bondi Beach Rescue". Yes, the Bondi lifeguards saving people from waves. Not much happens on that show, but it's got great characters and I think we are both fascinated by the fact that life guarding on a beach like Bondi is a career – people do this their WHOLE lives.

My Industry sponsors a big conference each year in early May in the US. The meeting took place last week in Boston and on Friday afternoon I got a call from my two Aussie coworkers who attended the conference. They were drinking and dialing – it was 2:30 in the morning in Boston and they were hanging out with people that I had worked with in Saint Paul. My worlds collided.

Facebook. Still not sure how I feel about it. Privacy invader or fun social outlet?

I remember when we used to go out on Friday and Saturday nights. All grandparents are invited to move to Australia. We need babysitting.

On Mother's Day we went to the Botanical Gardens. The day was one of those rare perfect weather, perfect time of year moments. It was a bit of Indian summer. We walked to our favorite wide expanse of lawn in the park and as when we arrived, we stood in silence. It was a scene from a painting. The green lawn sloped down to the water and rose up the other side. The cityscape was visible in the background and the lawn was dotted with people picnicking, kids playing, and dogs in little plaid sweaters being walked by their owners. We sat on the lawn next to the pram and basked in the sun for an hour. Even Monet couldn't have done justice to that scenery.

I'm thinking about working out. That's a good step. Maybe I will even attempt to put my thoughts into action.
I'm also thinking about reading a book, something other than Baby Love, What to Expect the First Year, The Sleep Easy Solution, Healthy Sleep Habits, or Settling Your Baby.
You get the picture.