Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to the normal topics

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised at how popular my last post turned out to be. 14 comments (not counting mine)! I never get double-digit comments. Very fun.

But now I need to return to the regularly scheduled whining about being pregnant (today: with bonus viral illness!) and then tell a funny-but-resigned story about motherhood.

So, first of all, pregnancy: Man, it stinks, eh? Especially when you combine it with a mysterious viral infection that I have dubbed "Entire Body Hurts Except For Your Arms Disease." Because that's pretty much what it is. I'm not stuffy, feverish, nauseated, or congested, I just hurt. Everywhere. I've had a headache for three days, and my back feels like someone has been beating me with a large, heavy stick. I went to the doctor today and they took a throat culture (negative) and some blood (will likely be negative) and basically said, "Yep. Sucks to be you." If I were being fair, I'd admit that I'm paraphrasing their kind words of sympathy, but the essential take-home message was the same: Nothing we can do but wait it out. And dammit, I was really hoping for some magic pills.

So then I went to my mom's and my parents took the kids to ice cream for lunch with their cousins and I took some Tylenol and slept for a while, and fortunately Andrew got home minutes after we did, so I didn't have to do any child raising today. Technically, the TV raised the children this morning, because I am ONLY HUMAN. And now I am lying in bed, internetting, while Andrew wrangles the children into bedtime-readiness. Part of me feels really guilty about listening to him wrangle without helping, but most of me is too distracted by Entire Body Hurts Except For Your Arms Disease.

Part of the wrangling included a discussion on what Andrew would have to do if Nora's poop (which she naturally did in her overnight diaper, after having already used the potty and gotten into her PJs) rolled off the changing table and fell behind it. (Answer: Andrew would have to move the changing table to clean it up.) The shape and texture of the poop was also a topic, and I was reminded of the last time I went to my sister's house. I told her how, back in the day, I used to think it was just so tasteless for people to say "I have to pee" instead of "I have to go to the bathroom." I was far too classy to ever explain what I would be doing in the bathroom. I always just said I had to go there, and left it at that.

But times change, and now I spend about 40% of my day telling people to check for pee before we leave, don't poop on the floor, you only get ONE M&M for pee in the potty, etc., etc., ad infinitum. I have therefore become the kind of person who announces "I have to pee" every time I have to pee. It started as a way to set an example and became a habit so ingrained that I actually once sent out a Tweet about how I had to pee but was trapped in the office because the kids had forgotten I was there and I didn't want to remind them. A Tweet! I, the high class one, essentially announced "I have to pee" to the ENTIRE WORLD.

At any rate, mere minutes after I sighed to my sister about my lowered standards, I told Jack that we were leaving as soon as I got out of the bathroom.

"OK," he said. "Pee or poop?"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Science and television

Let’s take a break from pregnancy and kids and talk for a second about what it can be like to be an engineer watching television. The other day, I saw a commercial for Exxon which started with a shot of gasoline being poured into some sort of container while a sexy female voiceover says something about how Exxon gasoline is special because it “works at the molecular level.” Now I think she went on to claim that the Exxon gas cleans the engine or something, but I can’t be sure because I was too busy mocking the ad to hear what she was saying. It “works at the molecular level,” eh, Exxon? Well that makes YOUR gasoline just incredibly unique! So with Exxon, do the gasoline molecules undergo an extreme exothermic reaction when mixed with oxygen molecules and heat? Funny, because THAT’S HOW GASOLINE WORKS. ON THE MOLECULAR LEVEL.

In fact, I am hard pressed to think of any substance on earth that doesn’t “work” at the molecular level. Take water. Did you know that liquid water flows because the molecules slide over one another, and ice is formed when those very same water molecules stop sliding and crystallize? That’s how it “works.” Take your furniture! You know how you can set something down on the table and it doesn’t fall through? That “works” because the molecules in the wood are tightly covalently bonded.

The Exxon commercial reminded of a news clip I saw years ago, but have never forgotten. The news anchor was talking about a vehicle full of volatile liquid. I forget what the liquid was, exactly, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it was oxygen. We’ll assume she was talking about a fuel tanker full of liquid oxygen. A dangerous thing, no doubt. But that doesn’t make this statement any more true: “But remember, even though the oxygen was in liquid form, it’s still a gas.” Because no. No it’s not. It’s a liquid. That’s why they call it liquid oxygen. Saying that something in the liquid form is “still a gas” is like saying… I don’t know! That two totally different things are the same! It’s like saying you can drown in ice because even though the water is solid, it’s still a liquid!


I have one more from year ago, but this one is more forgivable because it was one of those “But wait, there’s more!” commercials, so you expect them to lie a little. It was a commercial schilling some sort of plastic sealant which is “so air-tight, even water can’t get through it!” Riiiiiight. I think the phrase they’re looking for there is “water-tight.”

Andrew would like me to add a note to the writers of Covert Affairs that you don’t get “infected with radiation poisoning.” You can get “poisoned by radiation” or you can “have radiation poisoning,” but not so much “infected.”

That is... unhelpful

I think I might be anemic. I mentioned to my mom that I was really tired, and she said I probably was, that it's a common pregnancy ailment. "Nah, I don't think I'm anemic, I think I'm just tired," I said.

"No one ever thinks they're anemic," she replied.

So once the idea was planted, I started to consider it because I have hypochondriac tendencies anyway, and it's not really hypochondria to consider the possibility that you have a common pregnancy ailment. And I'm really, seriously, tired.

I have an appointment on Thursday anyway, so I will ask for a blood test then, but in the meantime I looked up the symptoms of anemia on Babycenter.

"If you do become anemic, you might not have any symptoms at all, especially if your condition is mild. Or you might feel tired, weak, and dizzy... You might also notice that you're paler (especially in your fingernails, the underside of your eyelids, and your lips). Other symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, irritability, and trouble concentrating."

Yes, I am definitely tired, weak, irritable, and short of breath. But here's the thing: Those are also symptoms of PREGNANCY (which Babycenter does also admit, that's where I put the ellipses). I also have trouble concentrating and have a headache, but THOSE are symptoms of MOTHERHOOD. So now I'm obsessively checking my fingernails and eyelids for paleness. Unfortunately, paleness is a symptom of my Irish heritage. So I guess I'll wait for the blood test.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don't shake it! DON'T SHAKE IT!

When Jack was four months old or so, we left him with his grandfather for an afternoon as a test run for my upcoming return to work. Andrew and I used the baby-free time to go find some bedside tables at the unfinished furniture store. We found some perfect ones and bought them along with some stain and poly. The man who helped us pick out the poly made very clear that we were not to shake it when it was time to mix it, as that would introduce bubbles. He even wrote "STIR" in black Sharpie on the lid so that we wouldn't forget.

And so we didn't shake it. Any time we rearranged the four trillion paint cans we had, we made sure to pick that one up and set it down again without shaking it. We were very careful.

So when I finally did stain the first of the bedside tables a few months ago , I knew there would be no bubbles in the poly. And when I opened the can, I found out I was right! There were no bubbles at all! It would have been really easy to see them if there were, because bubbles show up very plainly in solidified polyurethane.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

He may be right, you know

Before lullabies tonight, Jack said he just wished he knew where heaven is. "Well no one really knows except God and the people who are there, Jack," I told him.

"I think I know," he said. "I think it's all around us."

"Because God is all around us and heaven is where God is?" I asked.

"Right!" he said.


Monday, August 8, 2011

THIS is the right spot

I was just reading Jonniker's latest post on vacations, and had to stop in the middle to come tell you this story. The comment that sparked this little blog aside was about how she and her family slept in a car on the side of the road during last year's vacation, and it reminded me of the summer between college and grad school when I spent a month in Colorado as a... home aide? Horse's aide? I don't know what we were, but my friend Elizabeth called me that June and asked me if I was interested in spending a month on a horse ranch in Colorado with her and helping the 95-year-old couple around the house. Ranch. Whatever. I said yes, obviously, because who would pass that up? We "worked" about 4-5 hours a day, doing household chores and things, and then we got to ride horses for an hour or so in the afternoon and then we were off the clock. I think 90% of our responsibility was probably to be non-95-year-old people on site in case there was an emergency of some sort. It was an isolated ranch.

But that is not what I came to tell you about. I came to tell you about how we went to the Royal Gorge one weekend. According to our Rand McNally Road Atlas, there was a campground about twenty miles or so from the bridge, and that's where we planned to spend the night. In our rental car, because we didn't have any camping gear or anything, but we figured we could just park in a campsite and sleep in the car.

We arrived around dinner time, so we were going to camp out and visit the gorge the next day. So we had dinner in the local hotel - where we saw an impromptu fiddling concert - we headed out for the campground. We drove and drove and drove and drove and eventually discovered that Rand McNally was a big fat liar. (I feel I should point out for those of you who are wondering why we didn't just use our GPS-enabled smart phones to find a place to stay that this was last century, when there WERE no GPS-enabled smart phones. No smart phones at all, and the military were the only ones with GPSs. Imagine!) (For the record, I still have neither a GPS nor a smart phone, although Andrew has both.) So, as I was saying, no campground. Nothing for miles, actually, and it was getting late. So we just slept there. For free! And then the next morning, we drove back to the Royal Gorge.

So let me recap: We were at the Royal Gorge, then we drove twenty miles out to a very specific spot on the highway, parked the car, slept, and drove twenty miles back to the Royal Gorge.

An interesting side note is that the day we were at the gorge, there was a fiddling competition. "Wow!" we kept saying. "This is so crazy! First we saw those fiddlers last night at the hotel, and then today we see all these fiddlers for the competition! What are the odds that we would see SO MANY fiddlers in a two-day span? It's so strange!" We marveled about the amazing coincidence for quite some time.

It was not until we were on our way home, hours later, that we put it together.