The Easter We Warmed Breastmilk Using Coffee

I want­ed to add a pic­ture here of the boys with my par­ents, but for some rea­son it’s not work­ing.  Here is the link to the pic­ture.  Feel free to check it out.  Well, I want­ed to link the part where I said, “Here’s the link” to the actu­al pic­ture.  That’s not work­ing either.  Here is the copy and past­ed link of my pic­ture!  http://www.flickr.com/photos/berberich/5624619442/in/photostream

Remem­ber all that after you read this post.  It might give you some idea of the type of day I’m hav­ing.  🙂

 

For East­er this year, we went to my par­ents’ house.  They spent most of their win­ter down south, and Kael and Asa were both very anx­ious to vis­it them.  They want­ed to get their share of grand­par­ent time in addi­tion to check­ing out their toy stash for any new arrivals or old favorites.

Some time in the semi-dis­tant past, I was in a place where I was able to vis­it my par­ents pret­ty fre­quent­ly.  I can’t remem­ber how often we vis­it­ed when we had only Kael, but I know that there were times dur­ing col­lege when we vis­it­ed at least every two months.  Oh, how things change.

We start­ed out for my par­ents’ house on Fri­day morn­ing.  Before we even drove six blocks, we had to stop.  One of the old­er boys dropped a book.  Not a prob­lem, right?  We can make a quick stop and keep going.  Before we were out of town, we stopped again.  This time it was some­thing else that was a pret­ty easy fix.  We kept going.  Our third stop hap­pened about 90 miles from town.  We stopped for lunch.  Luck­i­ly, after lunch every­one seemed pret­ty con­tent, and we were able to get a decent chunk of dri­ving in.  After about 45 min­utes Jason said he had to go to the bath­room.  I said what every good teacher mom says.  “Are you sure?  Is it an emer­gency?”  I urged him (very strong­ly!) to wait.  He gave me a look, but he did.  We drove anoth­er hour and at that point when he start­ed to pull into a gas sta­tion in a small town, I knew bet­ter than to argue with him.

As we got back on the road, we real­ized that we had for­got­ten baby food for Jonas.  Luck­i­ly, there was a town with a large gro­cery store just 10 min­utes down the road.  Yep.  Stop #5.  I ran in with Kael.  We got some baby food and gum and got back on the road.  We had about 70 miles left.  Sure enough, about 30 miles into the last leg of our trip, Jonas was tired of being in his seat.  Jason moved into the back seat next to him, and I took over dri­ving duties.  We made it through the final 40 miles with­out a stop.

 

Trip sum­ma­ry:

Total dis­tance:  281 miles (We took a longer route than nor­mal to avoid some flood­ing detours)
Time:  6 hours and 15 min­utes
Stops:  6

That’s an aver­age of 47 miles in between stops and one stop every 63 min­utes.

 

Of course we had a great time at my par­ents.  We relaxed.  We were very well fed.  We saw fam­i­ly.  We had very lov­ing, car­ing, com­pe­tent babysit­ters while we enjoyed a sup­per by our­selves.  We slept.  We watched the Food Net­work.  It was great.

This morn­ing, though, the time came to return home.  I was hop­ing for a trip that was easy and stress free as the trip out had been.  After dis­sect­ing the trip, it sounds a lot longer, chop­pi­er, and drawn out than it felt.  I had a book to read on the way out, and most of our stops were quick and easy.  So, even though we did stop 6 times, it wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

We packed all our stuff, and we got in the van.  We were on the road at almost the same time as we had left home on Fri­day.  Sure enough.  Just as we were get­ting going, Kael said, “I’m super cold.  I need some­thing that can keep my arms warm.”  So, we stopped and got him a sweat­shirt (after I turned up the heat and let it go a few min­utes).  A few min­utes lat­er, the boys were fight­ing over books.  Who had how many, who had which ones, etc., etc.  Then, one of the books fell on the floor.  So, we stopped to get it, and we got the grapes out at the same time (I think.  I may be con­fus­ing stops though.)  We drove for a while, and then we heard, “Dad, I have to go pot­ty!”  So, we stopped and used the con­ve­nient ditch pot­ty avail­able next to a flood­ed road.  For those keep­ing track, that’s 3 stops in about 30 miles.  We man­aged to make the next 40 miles with­out a stop, but then it was lunch time, so you guessed it.  Stop #4.  We ate lunch, and we got back in the van.  After we ate, Jonas didn’t want to have any milk, and he wasn’t ready to go back to sleep.  Not great.

He start­ed to fuss.  Jason reached into the back­seat, and he gave Jonas a few new toys to play with.  That didn’t seem to be what he need­ed.  So, he popped Jonas’s paci­fi­er in.  That wasn’t it either.  So, we stopped.  Jason hopped into the back­seat.  I drove.  As we drove, Jonas was get­ting more and more sad.  At one point, I remem­bered that I had a bag of expressed milk in a cool­er bag in the back of the van.  After lis­ten­ing to my baby who nev­er cries cry for so long, I stopped.  I grabbed the milk, and I start­ed warm­ing it up on the dash of the van.

Now, nor­mal­ly I would not use direct sun­light to warm expressed milk, but trust me, this wasn’t a nor­mal sit­u­a­tion!  It was get­ting a bit warmer, but as it slow­ly warmed up, Jonas was get­ting angri­er and angri­er.  I grabbed my mug of cof­fee and took a drink.  Then, I real­ized that both Jason and I had ther­mos mugs of warm/hot cof­fee.  When we are at home, we use warm water to reheat breast­milk.  I fig­ured that in a pinch this cof­fee could be a sub­sti­tute.  So, Jason stuck the bag of milk into his ther­mos and warmed the milk.  Appar­ent­ly it did the trick.  He was able to get the milk into the bot­tle and feed Jonas as we drove.  Then, we drove.  And we drove.  And we drove.  We drove some­where around 150 or 160 miles with­out stop­ping!

As we were get­ting clos­er and clos­er to home, I start­ed ask­ing as we approached each town, “Every­one okay?  Any­one need any­thing?”  I knew that if we need­ed to make a bath­room stop, I wouldn’t be able to stretch it for just a few more min­utes after the boys had wait­ed over two hours.  They kept answer­ing the same, “No.”  “I’m okay.”  “Nope.”  Until we were about 12 miles from home.  As we were approach­ing our last chance bath­room stop, Jason asked if they need­ed to stop, and they both answered, “I do!”  So, we made our final stop.  12 miles from home.  We then arrived home to unload all our stuff in a quick rain show­er.

Trip sum­ma­ry:

Total dis­tance:  281 miles
Time: 5 hours and 45 min­utes
Stops:  7

That’s an aver­age of one stop every 40 miles and about every 49 min­utes.

This, peo­ple, is why we don’t trav­el very far or very often.  🙂

Hap­py East­er!

I Have an Idea

from green­hem via Flickr

 

If you’ve talked to me in per­son in the last year or so, it’s no sur­prise that help­ing peo­ple, sup­port­ing char­i­ties, and engag­ing in social jus­tice are con­cepts that I val­ue.  So, when I was going through a pile of stuff that I have been accu­mu­lat­ing for at least a year and I found a brochure for the Hunger Free North Dako­ta Gar­den Project my mind start­ed run­ning.

Maybe I could donate some food from our gar­den.

Maybe I could plant some food specif­i­cal­ly for dona­tion.

Maybe I could get some friends to donate with me.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Maybe I could get some friends to com­mit to tak­ing care of a com­mu­ni­ty gar­den plot (20 feet x 40 feet) and donat­ing all of the veg­eta­bles we get to the Hunger Free Project.

That sounds AMAZING to me!  If I could com­bine two of my inter­ests and be able to pro­vide for peo­ple who might not have enough oth­er­wise, I would be so hap­py.  What could be bet­ter?

So, now I’m in the mak­ing con­tact and doing research phase of my idea.  I’ve con­tact­ed the Ag Depart­ment to get any updat­ed infor­ma­tion they might have on the project.  I’ve con­tact­ed a local gar­den cen­ter that has com­mu­ni­ty gar­den plots.  The next step would be to put this out there to friends and acquain­tances to see if any­one would be inter­est­ed in help­ing me.

I loved my gar­den last sum­mer, and at times I wished I could have had a big­ger space.  The thing that wor­ries me is time.  New gar­dens need a lot of care.  Our gar­den last year need­ed hours of weed­ing every day for 3–4 weeks.  Hours.  Every day.  I’m not sure that’s fair to my fam­i­ly.  That’s why I think I’ll need help.

And there’s the mon­ey.  The gar­dens cost either $125 or $150 to rent.  I can’t remem­ber which.  Of that mon­ey, either $25 or $50 goes toward a cred­it you can use for seeds or plants at the gar­den cen­ter.  That’s still $75 or $100.  That’s a lot for me to put up at once.

This is where my plan hits a stand­still.

In my head, there’s some­thing about a spread­sheet assign­ing dif­fer­ent jobs or break­ing up the respon­si­bil­i­ty by assign­ing peo­ple respon­si­bil­i­ty for a few days at a time.  I can see a big sheet of graph paper with the gar­den all planned out.  I can see work days where we go and do a mass weed­ing or har­vest­ing.  I’m just not clear on what comes in between these things.

So, as I said in the title of this post.  I have an idea.  I’m off to obsess about it for a few days and see if I can move it for­ward to the next step.

Crafting My Life Works!

 

I have talked a lit­tle bit about sign­ing up for the Craft­ing My Life course that Amber Stro­cel is facil­i­tat­ing.  I signed up because I’ve been at home for almost six years.  I had a job that was s0-so before I had my first son.  I don’t want to go back to that job.  For a long time, I was okay with that.  Then, grad­u­al­ly I wasn’t.  For a long time, I won­dered how any­one would want to do any­thing else when they could choose to stay at home.  (I know how that sen­tence sounds.  I real­ly do.)  I couldn’t imag­ine want­i­ng to do some­thing else.  I even imag­ined myself still stay­ing at home once my chil­dren were all in school.  Then, lit­tle by lit­tle, that start­ed to sound less and less like what I want­ed.

First, I real­ized (because of our mis­sion and playsheet in week one of the course) that I want to be real­ly good at some­thing.  I want to feel com­pe­tent and to be good at what I do.  I real­ize I’m a great mom to my kids, but there are very few days when I sit back at the end of the day and feel like I have a good han­dle on what it takes to moth­er com­pe­tent­ly.  Most days I feel lucky that I end the day with three hap­py, healthy, won­der­ful chil­dren.  I feel lucky.  I don’t always feel like I caused or cre­at­ed that out­come.  In fact, some days I feel like I have three hap­py, healthy, won­der­ful chil­dren despite my actions not because of them.  (This doesn’t hap­pen every day, but I think we’ve all felt like that at some point.)

Then, in week three, we talked about role mod­els.  Now, I’m not one of those peo­ple who can say that I have role mod­el, and I want to fol­low direct­ly in his/her foot­steps.  I don’t have any one per­son I look to as “it” when it comes to find­ing a role mod­el.  I have a friend who is an amaz­ing moth­er.  She is calm, respon­sive, kind, gen­tle, lov­ing, and she is a great role mod­el for me when it comes to deal­ing with my own kids.  There is a cou­ple I know who takes time to express their feel­ings for each oth­er and show their appre­ci­a­tion for each oth­er.  I have a friend who is very intro­spec­tive.  She’s very self-search­ing, and she’s also real­ly hon­est about shar­ing what she finds.  I have a friend who start­ed her career in one area, left that job to have chil­dren, and is now in the process of mak­ing a plan to pur­sue a sec­ond career when her chil­dren are a bit old­er.  Real­iz­ing that I admire these peo­ple has also helped me to iden­ti­fy areas where I would like to change my life.  In par­tic­u­lar, I real­ized that I want a career.  When my kids are old­er, I want to iden­ti­fy an area of inter­est, pos­si­bly return to school, and pur­sue a career in that area.

Right now, I have a cou­ple ideas about what area(s) I might be inter­est­ed in when the time comes to pur­sue a new career.  When the time comes, I hope that my ideas are firmed up a bit and pro­vide me with some sort of path.  Until then, I’m enjoy­ing hav­ing these real­iza­tions a lit­tle at a time.

The last thing that I have real­ized is that life isn’t some­thing that hap­pens to me.  It is a choice I make. I know that there are things that hap­pen in our lives that can change our plans in an instant.  I’m not think­ing about that so much right now.  Right now, when I say this, I’m think­ing more about the “I’m bored” feel­ing and how I’m always tired but nev­er get to bed before 11 type sit­u­a­tions.

On a reg­u­lar basis, I say to Kael, “This isn’t some­thing that is hap­pen­ing to you.  It’s some­thing you are choos­ing.”  I need to hear my own words!  Instead of get­ting stuck in a rut or wan­der­ing around look­ing for “it,” I need to start mak­ing some choic­es.  Sure, if I don’t know what “it” is, I may not find it, but I can choose to enjoy the jour­ney!

If you’re feel­ing some­thing like what I described or if you’re feel­ing your own sort of wan­der­ing feel­ings, I high­ly rec­om­mend­ing Craft­ing My Life.  It has been great so far (and we’re only half way through!).  It has giv­en me a rea­son to sit down and think about some of these issues in my life.  It has also giv­en me some tools to take the steps to do it.  I am so excit­ed for the next six weeks!  I can’t wait to see what else I can find out about myself.  🙂

Equally Shared Parenting

A few months ago I was attempt­ing to write a post for the Car­ni­val of Nat­ur­al Par­ent­ing.  The descrip­tion of the month’s top­ic was:

Novem­ber 2010: What is Nat­ur­al Par­ent­ing?: Explore one con­cept from the nat­ur­al par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy – why is it impor­tant to you/your fam­i­ly?

I knew right away what I want­ed to write about.  I was going to write about Equal­ly Shared Par­ent­ing.  So, I start­ed where every good writer starts.  I googled it.  I found the web­site for Marc and Amy Vachon’s book by the same name.  I start­ed writ­ing my post.  I wrote about how we share the child rais­ing, house work, recre­ation, and then I got to bread­win­ning.  We don’t share that.

Jason has a career that he enjoys.  He likes what he does.  He is good at it, and he wants to con­tin­ue to do it for some time.  I went to school for edu­ca­tion.  I have a dou­ble major in ele­men­tary and mid­dle school edu­ca­tion with areas of con­cen­tra­tion (sim­i­lar to minors) in math and his­to­ry.  I also have a mas­ters degree in spe­cial edu­ca­tion with the gen­er­al strate­gist cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.  I, unfor­tu­nate­ly, do not have a career that I enjoy and want to return to.

So, while as much as I like to think that we are prac­tic­ing equal­ly shared par­ent­ing, we are not.  Jason shares all the respon­si­bil­i­ty for the tasks around the house and with the kids, but I do not share any of the respon­si­bil­i­ty of bread­win­ning.  I could explain why we’ve cho­sen for it to be this way, but in the end it real­ly comes down to the fact that I don’t work.  Right now, I’m okay with not work­ing (for mon­ey), and even­tu­al­ly I hope to return to a career.  How­ev­er, shoul­der­ing all the respon­si­bil­i­ty for this area is a lot.

(As a side note, remind me in the future that my 5 year old can­not nap for more than 30 min­utes or he will be up at 9:45 just toss­ing and turn­ing in his bed.)

So, as I was try­ing to write that post, I real­ized that in the future Jason and I may very well prac­tice equal­ly shared par­ent­ing, we don’t right now.  Some days I’m okay with that, and some days I wish it was dif­fer­ent.  Some days I feel guilty about ask­ing him to share all the oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties of our fam­i­ly but not shar­ing in the bread­win­ning.

I have some oth­er thoughts on careers, moth­er­hood, etc.  I may share some of them in the future, but until then I don’t have any­thing to neat­ly wrap up my thoughts on this.  I don’t have a great response ques­tion for any­one who might read this.  I guess I just thought I’d put this out there and see what hap­pens.

Hi, Mom!” “Bye, Mom!”

That pic­ture is fin­gers wav­ing to me from under our bath­room door.

I remem­ber when I was younger, I used to do the same thing to my mom.  I used to won­der what she could pos­si­bly be doing in the bath­room with­out me!  Didn’t she miss me?  Didn’t she wish I could be in there with her, too?  What was the point of pri­va­cy any­way?

These mem­o­ries came flood­ing back to me the oth­er night.  I was in the show­er, and the two old­er boys were get­ting ready for bed.  First, Asa came in to get his tooth­brush.  Then, he left.  A cou­ple min­utes lat­er, he came back in to rinse it and put it away.  Then, he left.  Then, Kael came in to get his tooth­brush, and I have no idea what hap­pened next, but he came in and left five times.  Each time, he said, “Hi, Mom!”  “Bye, Mom!”  He was so hap­py to be greet­ing me both on his way in and out.  Just want­i­ng to let me know he was there in case I didn’t know.

So sor­ry, Mom.  Very very sor­ry.