Monday, September 29, 2008

A Request and A Contest

Okay, first things first, I promised you a pay-it-forward contest on Friday and it's now Monday. Maybe Monday is the new Friday?

(I hope not.)

We'll call this a "Kelsey's Favorite Things" pay-it-forward. The winner will get a subscription to Wondertime Magazine and a copy of Dar Williams' brand new CD, Promised Land. And maybe a couple of other goodies as well. I may also pick a second winner for a Wondertime subscription.

To enter, leave a comment on this post by midnight, New York City time, on October 6th. That gives you a week. If you don't know what to write, tell me either the first band/performer you remember being really crazy about OR the first celebrity you wrote a letter to.


And now the request. . . I'm substitute teaching all this week for a friend of mine - I'm a third grade teacher for the week! My mom is here to help with the kids and Matt's parents are also filling in some gaps here and there. It is one thing to work one or two days a month and another thing to work five days a week. (I bow to all you moms who work full time outside the home!) We'll see if I survive!

The reason I'm doing this is that my friend is going through the process of donating bone marrow this week. She is donating to a complete stranger, a match discovered through the national registry. I won't go into the entire process, but she is currently experiencing some very difficult ("painful as h*ll" were her words) side effects and generally having a very hard time. I think she is making an incredible sacrifice with the hope of saving another person's life and it is amazing to me. I feel like she hasn't received a lot of support for her decision -- many people have just told her they think she's crazy. So I'm asking for all the prayers, positive energy, good karma, etc. you can offer for both my friend and the woman she is donating for. She doesn't know I'm making this request, but I'm certain she'll feel the power of your kind thoughts.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We're Home!

Hello world, we're back! Our power actually came on late Monday night. We spent one more day at Mike and Ann's, allowing the refrigerator/freezer to cool and give us some time to grocery shop. You can tell others have been doing the same thing (restocking) because the store was out of weird things, like butter.

Michael slept horribly almost the entire time we were out of the house. On a "good" night he'd wake up between 4 and 5 a.m., for the day. This from a baby who had pretty reliably been sleeping until at least 6 for months. The child must love his own room because I woke up at 6:30 this morning, having not heard a peep from him all night. I went into his room, hoping he was ALIVE in there, and he was just stirring. Let's hope this is the beginning of a new trend.

I haven't posted much this month, before the power outage both kids had terrible colds which, frankly, were no fun for anyone. There had been kind of a general funk in the air around here. I've been a little spacey and preoccupied, and have had a difficult time concentrating on any one computer task for very long. Many things are knocking around in my head, but I haven't been able to make myself write about them.

In the last three weeks Michael laughed for the first time, tried rice cereal, and had his six-month doctor visit.

Harper has been cracking us up with her knowledge of the presidential election. When we see lawn signs she always asks me which person the sign is for. She knows the names of the major party candidates and will point them out on television. She is working on the vice presidential candidates' names. She wants to know them, but can't always remember. Recently Nana and Dziatku bought a presidential place mat to keep at their house. She used it while we were staying there is now learning the past presidents. The other afternoon she asked us how Obama or McCain would get onto the placemat. Guess we'll have to buy her an updated version in '09.

She really, REALLY wants to know who I'm going to vote for, but I won't tell her. I've been telling her how important it is to vote, but that voting is a private thing and you don't have to tell anyone who you choose if you don't want to. This is driving her crazy.

She, by the way, would vote for Obama. She said she likes his hair better.


Random aside: If you happen to know me on facebook, would you please tell it that I am the author of my blog! I think you can do that through my profile page.


Tonight I am thrilled to be going to see Dar Williams in concert. I'm driving all the way to Kentucky (not actually that far) for the concert. Dar has been a most favorite artist of mine for a very long time. She doesn't play in this neck of the woods very often and I'm practically giddy with excitment. Tomorrow (or Saturday) there will be a new pay it forward contest which will likely include something Dar related - lucky you!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Lights Are Still Out

So, anyone who has spoken to me in the last week knows this is official, I am incapable of talking about anything other than this massively ridiculous power outage. We had the equivalent of a category one hurricane here in Ohio, thank you Ike, and to say that we're having trouble dealing with the resulting damage would be an understatement. As I mentioned earlier, we are so fortunate to be staying with Matt's parents. I can't imagine living in our house which hasn't had power in a week, despite the fact that tens of thousands of people in this area are doing just that. Mike and Ann are being gracious, wonderful hosts, but I think we'd all agree this has gone on long enough. In our area, at least, the water situation has been resolved, thank goodness.

So how about some pictures?

A huge tree limb down in a yard across the street:

A large limb dangling from a tree at the edge of our yard:

Michael (miraculously in his seat and not screaming) and Harper, chillin' in the yard:

Matt, standing on the spot where we had a huge, rotting tree taken down several weeks ago, please note the proximity to the patio and house. There's no question that Hurrican Ike would have toppled it. We are so darn lucky it was no longer there:

Harper next to the pile of debris from our yard, it extends almost to the stop sign:

Harper and debris from another angle, we talked to the men who came in that white truck, a crew from New Jersey:

The family that picks up sticks together, stays together?

Harper taking a break, apparently picking up sticks is hard work:

We did some clean up today, this after Matt and his dad spent several hours earlier this week dragging all the big stuff out of the yard. Literally anywhere I stood in the yard I could lean over and pick up two handfuls of sticks. Enough tinder and kindling for hundreds of campfires! Earlier this week I actually heard a radio host joke that the firewood salesmen in our area were pretty much out of luck.

One of our neighbors talked to someone from the power company today and was told that it may be well into this week before we have power. Crazy.

For Jess and Torsten

Tonight I am part of a big bloggy bridal surprise thing happening across the country. A big internet toast, if you will.

I am posting tonight to wish Jess and Torsten all good things as they grow closer to their wedding day.

I wish them a beautiful ceremony and a fabulous party and that it only gets better from there.

"Love one another and you will be happy. It's a simple and as difficult as that."
-Michael Leunig

Monday, September 15, 2008

Temporarily Connected

Matt and I drove up to Detroit on Saturday, had a fun movie-going, hotel-staying weekend which concluded in an awesome Green Bay Packer win over the Detroit Lions.

Then we found out that our children and Matt's parents were dealing with power outages due to hurricane force winds in Ohio. Our power company is calling it the worst disaster they've ever dealt with. There hasn't been power at our house since 1 p.m. Sunday. We may not have it back for several more days and we're on restricted water use. If the power is not restored soon we may lose the ability to use our water as well.

Matt is sleeping at the house with Rebound. The kids and are I staying with Matt's parents since their power was restored early this morning. We are so grateful for a good meal and lights this evening!

I am borrowing Ann's laptop to post this. We may be out of touch for the next several days. They say it will take two months before crews are able to clean up all the debris. Our neighbor had an uprooted tree go clear through his roof. We seem to have some exterior damage to our chimney, which doesn't appear to be an immediate danger of any sort. I hope it won't be too long before things are back to normal. My heart goes out to those who are suffering through so much worse along the gulf coast.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Burning Down the House

Allow me a moment to educate you on the dangers of combining breast and bottle feeding.

Michael had his six month visit today at the pediatrician. Among other things we discussed how I needed to move on from the "slow flow" nipples we're using for the two bottles a day he is required to have. When Michael was first born and learning to eat he had all kinds of choking problems. We don't really have those issues any more, but I've still been reluctant to switch to the faster flowing nipples. Anyway we stopped and bought some on the way home from the doctor's office.

So we got home and Michael had fallen asleep in his car seat. I brought him in, left him in his seat, and put the new nipples in a pot with some water to boil them for five minutes as you are supposed to do to sterilize them. Normally when I do this I stand in the kitchen until the water boils and then set the timer on the microwave for five minutes. For some reason today, I failed to set the timer. Then Michael woke up, screaming to be fed, and it was during a point in the day when he usually nurses. So I took him into the living room to feed him, totally forgetting about the stove. Do you see where this is going?

Harper and Michael and I were in the living room when, several minutes (fifteen maybe?) later, I heard a funny noise in the kitchen and sent Harper to see what Rebound was doing. She walked out of the living room and then walked right back in and said, "I think something is not good, there's stuff coming out of the pot!" I thought she meant the water was boiling over, so I got out of the chair where I'd been nursing Michael and walked with him into the kitchen. Into the kitchen where I saw a pot full of FLAMING NIPPLE REMAINS! (Oh my, Google's gonna have a field day with that sentence.)

It's amazing how many clear thoughts you can have in a very short amount of time. Fortunately I tend not to get upset/panic until a dangerous/scary situation has already been dealt with. As I looked at the flaming pot I remember thinking I had to put Michael down before I could pick it up, thinking that I had to remove it from the heat, thinking that the fire extinguisher in the garage was a little too far away, and thinking that it was grease fires that you weren't supposed to throw water on. . . I am pretty sure I managed to tell Harper that things would be fine, while refraining from swearing, and sliding Michael into the exersaucer. Then I turned the burner off as I moved the pot toward the back of the stove, realized that wasn't going to stop the already burning fire (duh!) and picked the pot up, put it in the sink and ran water over it until the flames went out completely.

Michael was drooling cluelessly in the exersaucer, Harper's eyes were wide with fear, and I found myself wondering, as the kitchen filled with smoke, why the heck our smoke detector wasn't going off. When I broil pork chops it goes off every time, but for an actual fire, nothing? I think we may be replacing that soon.

There was a huge and surprising amount of smoke created when I put out the fire. I turned on the fan and opened the door to try to clear out the house. I wasn't sure what to do after that and called my mom to see if she thought any further action was necessary. She didn't think so and Matt walked in as I was talking to her, asking what happened, and Harper started telling him there was a fire so I pretty much hung up on my mom to go explain to Matt. Oops. Sorry Mom!

After an hour or so the smoke had cleared, the ruined nipples and pot had been thrown away, and the ashes had been cleaned out of the sink. Not that I hadn't respected what a fire could do before today, but I was pretty stunned by the smoke and smell and mess created by this one, relatively minor, fire.

Thank God the fire was contained to that one pot. I can't recall ever having an experience like this before and I'll tell you even a small fire is a scary one. My stomach is still knotting up a bit just thinking about it.

So today's lessons are:

1) Don't leave stuff unattended on the stove. (Although I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in the universe to have lapsed on that safety rule.)

2) Don't forget to set your timers.

3) It might be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher somewhere in the kitchen.

4) Check smoke detectors more regularly.

5) Always set the baby down before handling a pot of flamming nipple remains. (I did remember to do that, but feel like it bears repeating.)

Thank you and good night.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indulge Me

I know I already posted a series of photos showing how Michael has grown, but I was playing with layouts in our photo-editing program and now I want to post these too. I'm aware that it is sort of a no-brainer that the child has grown/changed significantly in six months, but when I think of where we were six months and a few days ago, I'm still in awe of him.

There were so many ways my pregnancy/his birth could have gone even more wrong than they went. I look at him today, and, even though his current state slightly feverish and blowing huge snot bubbles (thanks to preschool germ-carrier Harper), I just feel so darn lucky.

Six Months in Photos

Friday, September 05, 2008

This is Where There'd Be Theme Music

Harper and I had a contentious sort of afternoon. At one point I just put my head down in my hands for a moment to do some deep breathing. Then I felt a little hand patting my shoulder and rubbing my back. "It's okay Mom," I heard her say, "When things go wrong you just make them right again."

It was very sweet, but I also felt a little like I was living a moment from a sappy TV sitcom.