Monday, November 26, 2012

Travels

Noah had the entire week of Thanksgiving off from school. Something about seeing that long, school-less week stretching before us made it seem like A Good Idea to drive to Iowa to visit my grandmothers. I even managed to talk my parents and brothers into meeting us there by flying in from Rhode Island.

About a year and a half ago, when Mattias was 15 months, we did the same trip. It was truly terrible to be in the car for 10.5 hours with a 15 month-old. Give me airplane or train travel any day. But a car trip - no, thank you! I finished THAT trip vowing never, ever to do it again. Did I change my mind? Or did I forget? Well, I'm pleased to report that this trip was much easier: a 2.75 year-old has A LOT more stamina for sitting in the car. Still, it was not easy. At mile 883 both the boys were done, just done, with being in the car. And they still had 774 miles to go.

As my grandmothers have gotten older and experienced more health concerns, it's become increasing complicated to visit them. One grandmother has moved into assisted living. The other grandmother is no longer at an energy level where she can host. (Or at least, we're really not comfortable asking her to host us.) They both live in small, rural towns about 3 hours outside of Des Moines, and 2 hours away from each other. Visiting them from out of state, especially with little kids, presents a logistical challenge. This time, we stayed in 3 different hotels over 5 nights. My father picked up the bill for most of the hotel stays, and for that I am entirely grateful: this trip would not have been financially possible for us had that not been the case.

At the same time, I found myself thinking quite a bit about the impact of living out of suitcases (and the car!) on the boys. Not enough running around, too much time trapped inside, not enough independence to explore their new environments, very cold weather foiling outdoor plans. When cold, windy weather made even the run between the hotel and the car unbearable, their behavior plummeted. By the third day of visiting, they were atrociously, embarrassingly beyond parental control. By the time we turned westward and headed for home, Fritz and I had all but given up: "Hey! Let's stop at that big box retailer so they can run around a bit." If you live in Nebraska and a two year old sprinted in front of your shopping cart, nearly causing the whole thing to dump onto the floor when you swerved to avoid him, while his mother deflatedly followed muttering apologies without correcting the behavior: yes, that was me.

I'm still muttering apologies: I'm sorry. He really needed to run. It was, like, mile 1106 of car travel and night 5 of staying in hotels.


I keep thinking: how could we do this better next time? What could make it more enjoyable (for everyone)? I don't have many answers, but I know the logistics of visiting relatives become a really important part of life when you live so far apart.

I once thought Long Distance Relationships were for young, unmarried adults. Turns out, there's a whole life-long art of the Long Distance Relationship. I'm still trying to figure it out.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Random

Yesterday my high-maintenance child was sick by official guidelines, and thus, home from school for the entire day. He was not sick in such a way that he was low maintenance. (That does happen sometimes. I hope you won't judge me too sharply when I tell you that I sigh in relief on those days.) Yesterday he still had as many requests and opinions as a normal day. Constant boundary pushing. I try to see the positive side in this characteristic. He'll make an impressive manager! He knows how to push the envelope. Or I just cross my fingers that this behavior is something he reserves for me. Oh please, please don't act like this way around your friends! Then my mind drifts back to how wonderful the 7 hour school day is for me. Please let it be wonderful for you, your classmates, and your teachers, too.

I'm not sure why I feel compelled to share this. Maybe because his presence at home yesterday meant I DID NOT get to take a nap. I wrote this post instead.

Fritz has been busy a lot the past month. Conferences, meetings, retreats. He's been gone overnights and in the evenings. And here on the home front we've had three house guests. I now feel spoiled by the relatively calm pace of the early fall, when Fritz's presence was here and involved. The weekends were quiet and unplanned. All the recent change in routine (with lots of single parenting for me) has been hard. I cringe when I think about typing this: but, life and parenting are much harder without Fritz. The feminist in me wants to tell you that I can do it myself. I'm strong, I'm independent, I don't need a husband - I don't even need a partner! Fritz can travel all he wants! I'm fine. I can do it!

Well, the truth is, especially in parenting, I do need a partner. It's overwhelming to try to be everything the boys need. Eventually, I start slipping. It's almost always discipline consistent expectations that go first. Mattias will do something like intentionally pour a glass of juice on the floor. He's too old for that. But instead of addressing the action, I'll just grab a cloth and soapy water and start cleaning up. I just don't have the energy to make him do it himself, or give him a time-out, or any of the other various parenting strategies employed on better days. Sheez, I can't even find the energy to THINK about the right parenting strategy.

You might be thinking this is exactly how one ends up with high maintenance children. You might be right. I tell myself that I'm not often stretched so thin in my parenting. But when I am, it's not good for any of us.

In more cheerful news, the persimmon are here! Have you seen them? I didn't make the same greedy mistake as last year. This year I went with the fuyu and I have been happily enjoying them without losing sensation in my mouth. Last year, I must have waited WEEKS for those hachiyas to ripen. Sure enough, they looked more and more and more disgustingly, mushily ripe, and still my mouth went numb when I tasted them. I was on the brink of tossing them in the compost when a friend sent me this Bon Appetit recipe for persimmon bread. The persimmons were salvaged and the bread was yummy, but I did miss eating raw persimmons. The fuyu persimmon are crispy like an apple when you eat them, and that, in my opinion is a big part of their appeal. Also, the edible interior star design when cut latitudinally makes me smile.

Monday, November 12, 2012

just tired

I feel that I owe some sort of explanation for my absence on this blog lately. Unfortunately, the reason is so mundane that I've had a hard motivating myself to type it out:

I'm so tired.

Really, really tired.

I'm sleeping about 12 hours a day. Physically, I feel mostly good. The morning sickness is decidedly over. But my need for sleep is overwhelming normal functioning. How can I sleep 12 hours a day? Well, I go to bed when the boys do and nap during the day when Mattias naps. The house is a filthy mess. Dishes and laundry are going undone.

Among the people I've talked to about my tiredness, there are lots of different explanations. Some think that being pregnant when you have a school age child is more exhausting than being pregnant with (just) a toddler. Some think it's standard with the third pregnancy. Some think it's my age. Some think I need more exercise. My doctor doesn't have a theory, since I haven't told her. But I can guess what she would suspect and find:

The last two times I was pregnant, I struggled keeping my iron levels high enough. In fact, even during nonpregnancy (ha!), I struggle with getting enough iron. Over the years, I've created my own little tautology about why this is. My version goes like this: well, I've never really liked meat. I still don't like meat. Meat has a lot of iron in it. And eating meat is the most effective way to absorb iron. MAYBE, it's not just me who doesn't like meat, MAYBE my body doesn't like meat because it has so much iron in it in the first place. Maybe MY BODY hates iron. Which would explain why every iron supplement out there seems to make me terribly sick. And it would also explain why I find myself avoiding iron supplements, even in pregnancy, and even if it means I'm A LOT more tired than usual.

Does it work that way? Can I consciously choose between being either 1) tired or 2) sick? Hmmm... maybe I better google complications of anemia in pregnancy.

For the record, however, my tiredness is getting to be more than I can handle. So I'm either going to make myself sick by taking iron supplements or make myself sick by eating some red meat. Maybe we should take a vote? At least that would make a not-very-fun situation ... more interesting? Less sleep-provoking?