Thursday, December 23, 2010

Welcome home!

After spending an enjoyable week in Atlanta with my family, we came home to a state that had just been hit by a huge blizzard. "Snowmageddon", "SnOMG", and "Snowpocalypse" were liberally sprinkled among the Facebook updates I saw while checking in on my phone at the airport. We weren't sure what to expect after touching down in the tundra, but braced ourselves for the worst.

Bracing didn't help.

One of Mark's good friends was kind enough to be our personal chauffeur again, so at least we didn't have to deal with airport parking. Mark was sure to jokingly point out that our car parked on his driveway during the blizzard was actually our favor to HIM, seeing as how it was that much less space to shovel. And when you're talking about an average of 2 feet of snow and drifts that were much higher, maybe he's right. Regardless, we appreciated his efforts but the luxury stopped when we dropped him off at his house and headed home. It was about 6:30 pm when we pulled up in front of our house. The sky was dark and the girls were cranky from all of the traveling, and were falling asleep because it was their bedtime. And our driveway was covered in 2 feet of snow, with a nice big drift right down the middle and an icy 3-foot bank at the bottom from the city plow.

We decided to leave the suitcases in the car and bring the girls in first. After getting them to sleep, we'd deal with the driveway and emptying the car. So we each picked up a kid and trudged through thigh-deep snow up to the house. What a sensation cold snow is on warm ankles when it sneaks in through jeans and socks! And what fun it is entering your house for the first time in a week to be met with the chirping of a dead smoke alarm battery and an empty fridge. Even better when you discover that you're out of 9v batteries, and the offending alarm is the one in your bedroom.

Long story short, we unbundled the girls and Mark handled bedtime alone while I handled the battery and driveway issues. Only this time when I went through the snow I was wearing boots. Quite an improvement for my feet and ankles, but the jeans still didn't cut it. I ran to the gas station to get a battery and then returned home to tackle the driveway, cursing as I trudged back up the driveway yet again.

At least we have a snowblower. We have a longer-than-average driveway which is compounded by the fact that it's L-shaped, so I think Mark had wanted one for a while. But I tipped the scale when I was stuck frantically shoveling myself out for work one morning while he was on a business trip in China. This was during the worst of my Rheumatoid Arthritis, so it was more than just a nuisance. And that memory helped to put things into perspective for me on this particular night. Yes, we had just spent the day in airports and on an airplane, traveling with two small children who are not fond of the pressure changes on the descent. And yes, this was an incredibly annoying time for all of these inconveniences to greet us. But I am in a completely different place now than the shoveling incident in 2005; I'm strong, healthy, and mostly free of chronic pain.

First I had to figure out how to turn the snowblower on.  Yes, I was starting from that point! Then when I realized that the snow was a good 6 inches higher than the blower, and it had a 2 inch crust of ice on top, I had to perfect my technique. And then when it took an hour to make a dent I had to ration my energy if I wanted to get the car into the garage and avoid a parking ticket. Oh, and I also had to refill the snowblower when it ran out of gas. Twice.

My body was bruised up by the time I was done, thanks to my having to throw myself against the snowblower just to get it through the snow. And I could barely push a cart at the grocery store the next day because my palms were so sore. It was not a fun experience, but it was a good one. I like feeling self-sufficient, and boy what an accomplishment that was for me.

How fortunate I am that this is my biggest complaint in a long time.

Eating with a toddler

Those with a weak stomach should not eat with a toddler.

This is what was going through my mind while eating breakfast with Claire this morning and, unfortunately, is a regularly occurring thought. I must admit that I love her enthusiasm and zeal for life in general, but especially for food - if anybody enjoys her food, it's Claire. And maybe we adults could learn something from her and her fellow experimenting peers.

One of her favorite things to do is mix things together. If she has a bowl of berries and a glass of milk, the berries are sure to wind up in the milk and her fingers are guaranteed to be covered in milk (as are the table, her chair, and her shirt.) That's not so bad - it's reminiscent of berries and cream, and milk is easy enough to clean up. A more borderline experiment is crackers and olives in her kombucha. But maybe the worst combination to date was this morning.

It started with an innocent glass of milk. She mastered drinking from a glass months, if not a year or two, ago. But she got a huge cheek-filling gulp and had to spit some back into the glass. It happened again so Mark said "watch mama drink from her glass, see how she does it." I slowly brought my glass to my lips and demonstrated a nice, slow sip for her. No drips, no filled cheeks. No spitting. I gently set my glass down on the table again.

"Oh, with ONE hand," she said in all seriousness. Yes, that was the takeaway; that all of her problems would be solved by using only one hand instead of two to hold her glass of milk. Way to nail that lesson, mom and dad!

She went on eating her breakfast of 2 eggs over easy with a piece of toast cut into little pieces so she can get the perfect egg/toast ratio on the fork each time. One of the next bites were apparently too big, so naturally she spit it out. Into her glass of milk. Mark started to say "OK, that's enough," when Claire proceeded to drink the milk, without spilling or filling her cheeks. She followed it up with an emphatic "Mmmm-Mmm!"

I was taking my supplements and had a mouth full of milk myself, and was trying not to laugh when she leaned over as if to tell me a secret. "I have toast in my milk!" And then she took another sip with closed eyes, as if to say "this is divine!" I would have taken and shared pictures of this, as I normally do, but won't for two reasons. 1. it looked pretty gross, and 2. I try not to encourage this sort of behavior and it's already hard enough to hide my smiles and laughter - whipping out the camera would almost certainly make her want do it bigger and better next time.