Mommy Chronicles

Because some days are just worth remembering…

A couple of weeks ago, Lydia and Abby had doctor appointments. I remember when Lydia was the only baby in our home and she had appointments. It would take a grand hour and a half out of our day, which felt like a huge chunk of time. With three, things sure have changed. Partway through this adventure-of-a-day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much was involved in one little appointment. So here I am, documenting for my own future entertainment someday when life is either far easier and more peaceful or (more likely) even more chaotic.

Planning for the appointment started the day before as we prepared to get the kids to bed extra early. We were all going to be getting up early the next day so we ate our dinner and cleaned up quickly, put the kids in their pajamas, and tucked them in to bed. That’s where our troubles began…

Every night we wash a load of diapers, since we use cloth and don’t have enough to make it longer than a day (with two kids in diapers). I promptly started the load at 7:00, right after the final diaper changes for the night. Sometime later we realized the washer wasn’t washing. The switch was on, washer plugged in, lid down, and the tub was filled with water but the washer wasn’t washing. Some quick Youtube searching allowed us to diagnose our problem: the lid switch was coming unglued.

Can I interject an important truth here? I have a college education as a mechanical engineer. Most people think that means I can fix stuff, anything really. That is not the case. A mechanical engineer can do math, solve mathy problems, create complicated Excel sheets, and design parts. No fixing. No repairing. And no diagnosing. My dad does that, not me. (and as an extra side note, either of our dad’s could have fixed this problem in no time flat, I’m sure of it).

Now Dan has his training in Math and Physics with a lot of experience in programming. There is not a single math, physics, or programming course that teaches you how to repair household appliances. Although, Dan and I could quickly sit down with our skills and calculate the time and cost comparison of fixing a part, paying someone to fix the part, buying a new washing machine, or using a laundromat until one of our dads makes a trip down to fix the part.

Well, the diapers needed to be washed and we had a big day coming so we found a useful Youtube video and started tackling the repair. Things went great. We got the washer apart, found the switch, duct-taped it back together (whatever works, right?) and began the process of reassembling the washer.

Then our sweet girls, who always go to sleep without any problems, both started crying. Lydia was beside herself in tears although no one knew why. We interrupted our repair to snuggle her back to peace only to have Abby start crying, wake Lydia up, and the whole episode began again. Then Paul, who was sitting happily in his bouncy seat, started crying too. We struggled through the repair process for a little while and finally took a break to calm the criers and feed the baby.

The rest of the night was just an upsetting mix of crying and unsuccessful attempts to put the washing machine back together. It was terrible. But, we did it, and finally everyone was asleep. The diapers got washed. Dan’s lunch was packed. Clothes were laid out for the next day. We made it to bed two or three hours later than we had planned.

The next morning I had planned to get up at 5 to feed Paul, so naturally he woke up hungry at 4:30. Oh well. I fed him and took a power nap before getting up and getting the girls ready. Much to Dan’s surprise, we made it to the parking lot of his work more than ten minutes early. The kids were quiet in the back seat so we just sat and enjoyed a few minutes more of peace before saying goodbye for the day. Then it was my turn to take over the driving.

I don’t really enjoy driving. In fact, I really don’t enjoy driving especially on busy or new roads. I tend to be a pretty cautious driver and my greatest weakness is not trusting any of the other drivers to do what their supposed to do. I’m also terrible with directions and can get lost going just about anywhere. Driving is one of my scariest responsibilities as a Mommy. So when I have to drive, Dan always prays for me first. Then I pray for me. Then I tell all the kids they have to be quiet because “Mommy is driving”. I pray every time I have to get on an entrance ramp, make a turn where there’s not a stop light, or think I might be going wrong direction. I also avoid lane changes at all costs even if it means driving ten miles below the speed limit because I’m “stuck” behind a slow truck or bus.

Dan, on the other hand, is an excellent “down state driver”. He can handle traffic, construction, detours, and makes lane changes like it’s his job. He has a wonderful sense of direction and can get anywhere without asking for help even if he’s never been there before and even if he’s “lost”. He can find our car in the parking lot without a problem. He can talk and listen and dodge potholes, watch for street signs, pass slow drivers, avoid fast drivers, keep track of what our kids are doing in the back seat, and sing along to the radio all at the same time. For this, and many other reasons, Dan always drives when we’re together.

We were made for each other.

So as Dan headed in to his work building, the girls and I prayed for my driving and I began reviewing the directions Dan had given me to get home. (He’s also very good at giving directions.)

Potholes. The last thing Dan told me before going in to work was that there were horrific potholes on the highway that would definitely give me a flat tire if I hit them. As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, I was supposed to dodge potholes We prayed for that too.

I was a nervous wreck driving home. It took half an hour and I still had another hour and a half of driving ahead of me for the day. At least the kids were being quiet. I did it though, I dodged those nasty potholes and thanked God for every single one we passed successfully. We made it home and I unloaded the kids. Now, breakfast.

After breakfast we had our daily “Bible Time”, prayed (for all the driving yet to come) and sang a Bible memory song. Then I packed the diaper bag, and repacked all the kids into the car.

Would you believe we actually made it to the doctor early? Not only were we early, we were 40 minutes early. Well, I guess I needn’t have worried about the rush hour traffic after all. I fed Paul and gave the girls some last minute snacks. Maybe I was trying to give them one last little boost before the big weigh-in. When you’re only 3rd percentile, every ounce counts. 🙂

The doctor appointment went remarkable well (everyone is growing and developing at a pleasing rate). I was feeling like a pretty good mom and even made a lane change on the way home to pass a slow truck. Now you all know how monumental that is, so you know I was feeling good.

Somewhere along here I had the brilliant idea, since we had the car for the day, to stop and get Dan a Father’s day gift on the way to pick him up from work. So when we got home I took a few minutes to research the cheapest place to get a Wiffle Ball and bat. It turned out that Dick’s was the place to go and, as it turns out, there is a Dick’s conveniently located right on the way to Dan’s work. Success.

We took our time eating lunch and then everyone got a half hour nap before we got back into the car. Prayed for Mom’s driving, And off we went. During the ten minute drive to Dick’s I tried to explain to Lydia what a surprise is and that we were going to get a present for Daddy for Sunday. Since it was for Sunday, she was not to say a word to him about it. Did I really believe that would work? Well, I was hopeful.

Finding a Wiffle ball set at Dick’s was more involved than I expected, and I was sad to learn that they no longer sell the balls in a set. You have to buy every single ball individually for $2 each. Ridiculous. We decided to just get the bat and ball and order more balls online. I was grateful there weren’t more people in the store to judge my parenting as Lydia ran chaotically through the kayaks yelling to me that there were purple life jackets. We survived the checkout line, even with its walls of colorful toys and candy and playground balls (honestly, who thought that was a good idea?) and made it through the checkout and back to the car with time to spare. I hid the bat and ball in the trunk and Lydia and I talked some more about surprises.

Then it was back to dodging potholes. I was a little less confident this time and decided to patiently follow the slow truck in front of me for the few miles to Dan’s work. I realized I didn’t have to worry as much about the potholes if I just followed the path of the car in front of me. That seemed to work well and soon enough we were finally safe in Dan’s work parking lot. I fed Paul and Dan came out promptly at 3:00.

Now, there are some days when, as a stay at home Mom with three, I feel like I don’t accomplish much. Dan comes home and asks what I did and I say, “I got the kids dressed and fed, did laundry, and cooked dinner. That’s all.” But this day trumped all days. “How was your day?”, he asked me. “Great! We didn’t do anything but go to the doctor, eat, and take short naps. BUT, I didn’t get lost, wasn’t late, and didn’t hit a single pothole!” And my husband, who knows me well, congratulated me and gave me a hug.

Now, as a side note so you are not all left hanging…I never heard Lydia say a single word to Dan about the Wiffle ball and bat. I snuck it into the house, and, at Lydia’s request, we made Dan a card to go with it. On Sunday we triumphantly brought out our surprise and gave it to Dan. He read the card, admired the bat, and than confessed, “Lydia told me about the bat.”

“What?!?”

“Several times…and I saw it when you opened the closet a couple of days ago.”

Good thing Dan doesn’t really like surprises. 🙂

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I’m Pleased to Announce…

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I know thumb sucking is a controversial topic, and in this case I really do believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As a retired thumb-sucker, I’m partial to the thumb-sucking myself. So I am pleased to announce that, despite our use of a pacifier with this Big Guy, Paul has found his thumb.

His left thumb no less. Three for three. Maybe left-thumb-sucking is a dominant genetic trait…

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Trains and Dinosaurs

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It’s been a couple of weeks now, but I promised I’d share a report from our staycation, so here I go.

After our visit to Plymouth, we gathered up our munchkins and headed out for a day on a farm, including a used homeschool book sale. Our favorite part was getting to see the animals. Lydia loved petting the bunny and watching the ducklings. We like to call them Ducklets. Lately I’ve been thinking about the way baby ducks follow their Mommy around in a little train. I’ve been wishing it was that easy going places with little people. Ours tend to scatter in all different directions rather than follow their parents in a little row.

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The next and biggest event of our staycation was a trip to Greenfield Village. It was Abby’s first time and Paul’s too, and for the rest of us it was only our second visit. I wanted to watch the glass blowing, Dan wanted to see Edison’s buildings, Lydia wanted to watch the train, and Abby wanted to eat some sweet potato tots. Paul just wanted to be carried around all day.

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In the end, Dan got to see his buildings, Paul got to be carried, and I got to see my glass blowing. The girls loved the playground. Abby never got her tot, and Lydia’s first glimpse of the train made her cry (too loud). But in time, we figured out how to enjoy the train. We even stayed late to watch it go by one last time.

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The last successful voyage was over to Ann Arbor to look at the dinosaurs and animals in the Natural History Museum. As always, the dinosaurs were a big hit. We splurged and ate out at a restaurant, only to learn that it’s not worth it to buy the girls a $9 plate of food to share. Abby will definitely throw it on the floor. Lydia will complain that it doesn’t taste good, and in the end they will enjoy the $2 fruit cups from Seven Eleven much more than the $9 plate of restaurant food. Lesson learned. After our lunch and museum visit we trekked over to the Ann Arbor Arboretum for a little walk in some nature. We found a bench in the shade and sat to rest for a long while. I think that time resting on the bench might have been my favorite part of the whole week!

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The last outing for our week was to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. It was an epic fail. Dan and I don’t really enjoy art that much, but when you throw in a needy baby, a very loud toddler, and a high energy preschooler, we really don’t enjoy art. So, another lesson learned: dinosaurs – yes, paintings – no.

In all I’d say the staycation was a success. We learned a little, had some fun, and ran around enough that we were ready for a normal Monday once Dan started his job. Getting regular meals, naps, and playtime does our family good.