Friday, January 28, 2011

Challenger - 25 years later

I heard on the news this morning that it has been 25 years since the Challenger shuttle disaster. I think it is one of those events that, if you were alive at the time, you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. I was quite young at the time but I remember it distinctly. Challenger was something that many students heard about in their classrooms, because one of the astronauts, Christa McAuliffe, was a teacher. Many children were watching the shuttle launch in their classrooms that morning. I can only imagine how difficult it was for those teachers to explain to their students what had happened. I remember getting on the bus and that was all anyone was talking about. I remember hearing some crude jokes from the other kids. I remember looking up into the sky and thinking about the seven people who had gone up there and never came back.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christmas lights?

When do you take your Christmas decorations down? How long is too long to leave them up? I was surprised the other night to see lots of Christmas lights on. I suppose many people leave them up until spring, which is fine. I just can't imagine actually still turning them on!

We take down our indoor Christmas decorations right around New Year’s. I’m ready for them to be gone by then. We haven’t put up outdoor lights for a few years, and I’ll tell you why.

We have an enclosed porch, and one year we decided to put icicle lights on it. My husband went out our bedroom window and onto the porch roof to do so, and I was in the house doing various things. After a while, I heard knocking. I went to the door to find that no one was there. It happened again. Finally, I opened the door and heard my husband calling to me, “Help!”

The bedroom window had shut, stranding him on the roof in the cold. And that is why we haven’t put up outdoor Christmas lights since.

I am also reminded of the movie "Garden State," which is one of my favorites. In that movie, Zach Braff's character comments on the Christmas tree in Sam's house being up a little early. She tells him that actually, they never got around to taking it down. Eventually they figured they might as well just leave it up, since soon it would be Christmas again anyway!

Monday, January 24, 2011

One year ago ...

It was one year ago today that I got my positive pregnancy test. Well, it was actually the first of many positives since I took several tests that week! It was a bit early to have taken a test, but I couldn't resist. The day before I had come home from the gym and taken a hot bath. When I got out, I felt a bit dizzy and thought, "Hmmm ... maybe I should test tomorrow?" Sure enough, there it was, that second line that had been eluding me since September. It was faint, but it was there! As the week went on the lines got darker and it began to set in—we were going to be parents! I look back fondly now on that time of anticipation and the day my pregnancy officially began. Never could we have known then that our daughter would be half as wonderful as she is. We are truly lucky to have such a beautiful, happy little girl.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Even on Jan. 17, there's something to be positive about

I woke up on a somewhat gloomy, cold-but-not-too-cold Monday morning to be informed by my friends on WCCO television that it was the most depressing day of the year. Well, if that isn’t a great way to start the week!

What is wrong with Jan. 17? Its offenses are many, it seems.

Christmas is over, and any warm fuzzies left over from that most splendid holiday have worn off. The next holiday is what, Valentine’s Day? The holiday invented by the greeting card companies to make a significant portion of the population feel bad for not having a Valentine? Oh, joy.

Christmas debt apparently also has something to do with it. People go stir-crazy during the holiday season and rack up credit card bills, which they then receive in January and wonder what on Earth they were thinking.

Then there’s the fact that winter is obviously never going to end. The groundhog is going to take one look and say, “No way! I’m not coming out of here!” and winter is going to last forever. Or so it would seem from the perspective of someone who just woke up to be faced with the third Monday in January.

January starts off as an optimistic month. It’s a new year, filled with promise. People make resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, be more organized, and such. By the third Monday in January, apparently, everyone has given up. This is why I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Why set myself up to fail?

It is also no surprise that the worst day of the year is a Monday. Who really likes Mondays, anyway? Here we all are, enjoying pleasant Sundays, when all of a sudden it hits you: Monday. I’m reminded of the movie “Office Space,” in which one of the characters says to the other, “Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays!” This week, it was a case of the statistically saddest day of the year Mondays.

Top all of this off with the news that apparently high-waisted jeans are coming back in style, and it’s a recipe for sadness, for sure.

On the flip side, the happiest day of the year is the third Friday in June, which this year falls on the 17th. Let’s all imagine it now. The sun is shining. It’s a lovely 72 degrees. The grass and trees are green. The birds are singing. It’s a beautiful day as you cruise home without having to peer around four-foot-high snowbanks. Ah, doesn’t that sound wonderful? It’s almost worth putting up with Jan. 17 for.

In all seriousness, this Jan. 17 did have one good thing going for it. And no, I don’t mean that plans have begun for the Fourth Annual Brett Favre Retirement Party. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I always feel a little more hopeful on this day, as I reflect on Dr. King’s life, and his abiding influence on us today.

A little hope goes a long way on a day when you would rather have stayed in bed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mommy wars

I've been reading and hearing a lot lately about something called the "Mommy Wars." Basically, mothers feel the need to defend their own choices for their children, and often in doing so, end up fighting with and criticizing other mothers who do not make the same choices. Go to any message board aimed at mothers and you will see what I mean.
It starts from the moment the pee is dry on the stick. There are all the things you should and shouldn't do during pregnancy. These discussions, for the most part, don't get too serious. It's when you get toward the end of the pregnancy that things start to heat up. There's the good old C-section vs. natural birth debate. Epidural or no medication. Home vs. hospital birth. Circumcision. Vaccinations. Baby-wearing. Strollers. You name it. Bring up any of these topics and World War III could break out.
I'm all for healthy discussion and debate. This is what challenges us in life to use our brains. It's good to be exposed to other points of view. The problem is that some use these platforms as a way to not just promote their point of view, but to criticize others'.
That's what I have a problem with. Why do mothers--a group that should be supporting and encouraging one another--feel the need to be superior over one another? There was a time when the only people new mothers had to learn from were each other. There was no Dr. Sears, or "What to Expect When You're Expecting." There was just your mother, your grandmother, your aunts, your sisters, and your friends. Now we have so much different information coming at us from all different directions that, for a first-time mother, it's overwhelming and discouraging. This at a time when we are rebounding from childbirth and dealing with extreme hormonal changes.
One mother might feel extremely satisfied to finally get her child to sleep using one method only to have someone else tell her that method is bad in some way. The baby should be held all the time, one person tells you. Someone else claims that holding the baby too much will spoil her. You should let her cry it out ... you shouldn't let her cry. Babies should learn to self-soothe ... babies who learn to self-soothe have "given up" that their parents will fulfill their needs. It's enough to make your head spin!
What it all comes down to is this: I believe that the vast majority of mothers are doing the best that they can. We are all just trying to keep our heads above water. We love our children, and that is the best parenting technique there is. We should encourage, not belittle. We should empathize, not criticize. We should focus on what we have in common, rather than what sets us apart.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Three Months Old

Our beautiful baby girl turned three months old on Saturday. The time has flown by, but rest assured, we are treasuring every moment of it. It is a amazing to us how she has gone from being that squishy little newborn to who she is today. Her personality sparkles out at us as she smiles, giggles, and kicks. To see how happy she is makes me think we must be doing something right. We often comment now how she changes on a daily basis. Every day she becomes more engaging, and seems to enjoy life a little bit more. I reminded her Saturday that she was the one who did not want to come out, and did not seem happy at all about being born. She seems to have forgiven us now.
So how does one spend a three-month birthday? Jane celebrated hers by sleeping in until 6:45, which her mama certainly appreciated. She had breakfast, played, and then had a three-month photo shoot, courtesy of mama. We got some great shots! After a nap, she got dressed and went for a car ride to grandma & grandpa's, where she spent a couple of hours visiting so mom and dad could go to a movie. Later we went home, where we played, snuggled, watched the aquarium, and read some stories. It was a pretty typical day at our house, but I couldn't help thinking it was just a little bit special. In my mind I relived the day of her birth, the moment when life changed for the better.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking back

I'm sitting here on the first morning of the new year, watching my almost 3-month-old baby daughter playing on the floor, happily squealing away. One year ago, we were still hoping that by this time the next year we would be parents. Our hopes came true!
Yesterday I was contemplative and a bit sad about the year 2010 being gone. As years go, it was definitely one of the best of my life. I loved being pregnant, giving birth to my daughter, and every moment that followed, both good and bad. I would live all of it over again in a heartbeat. I would do some things the same, and change some as well. I can't help feeling as though I could have done a better job at times. I think that's a natural feeling for a parent.
As much as I would love to hang on to what has passed, I am equally looking forward to the future. By this time next year our little Jane will be running around, and, if she takes after her parents at all, running into things! There's so much to look forward to--her first foods, her first words, her first steps ... and as we experience these moments with her we will watch her grow and become more beautiful each day. Yet I still can't help but mourn the loss of the squishy little newborn we'll never get to hold again.