Saturday, November 20, 2010

Date Night Preparations: Then and Now

Earlier this week, R and I celebrated our ninth dating anniversary.  (As it also happens to fall on his birthday, some of the celebration may have been directed elsewhere.)  In the few moments I have before we head out on a well-earned date night tonight, it seems to be a good time to reflect on how my dating life has changed over the past nine years:

THEN:  Sleep late in the morning -- 10am or so -- wake up refreshed and thinking about how to get ready for the day ahead.

NOW:  Sleep late in the morning -- 7:02am or so -- wake up exhausted and thinking about how much needs to be done before the sitter our friend arrives.

THEN: Enjoy a leisurely morning of pampering -- perhaps a haircut, manicure, massage.

NOW: Enjoy an activity-filled morning of making breakfast, doing housework, and trying to catch up on lost time with A and C.  Haven't had a haircut, manicure or massage since my thirties.  And I turned 40 nearly three months ago.)

THEN: Chat with girlfriends about the upcoming evening, the gentleman caller and the prospects.

NOW: Chat with the preschoolers about the upcoming evening, and how mommy and daddy need to go out once in a while.  Listen to "I don't want you to go on a date" about 200 times and remember to try to appreciate that they want to spend time with you.

THEN: One hour to go -- cute outfit on, hair and makeup done.  Waiting for nails to dry.

NOW: One hour to go -- clean outfit on.  Makeup done.  Waiting for hair to dry.  Quickie manicure not even a possibility.

THEN: Nine years ago, your best friend and the man you want to make a family with arrives at your door.

NOW: That man is the one by your side.

Here's wishing each of you a wonderful weekend too!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Writing Pink Today!

I was blessed to have been asked by the ladies of Bigger Picture Blogs to participate in their "Write Pink" for Breast Cancer Awareness month and Melissa of Peanut Butter in My Hair is hosting my post today.  Hop over here to read my thoughts on how you can answer "How Can I Help?"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You Left Me Wordless Wednesday

Mixing things up a bit on Wordless Wednesday, but I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to put in writing how I was left "wordless" by the outpouring of support over the past week for my husband and me as we have been dealing with some pretty scary stuff involving our 3 year-old C.  The e-mails, tweets, DMs, IRL hugs and prayers have raised us up and given us strength.

For those who I haven't updated yet, C completed her sleep study on Wednesday and had 12 instances of central apnea, each lasting about 3-5 seconds; with 5 instances being normal, C's definitely on the high side.  This left R and I feeling at once relieved that the professionals were able to observe what we had (i.e., we're not just overworried parents) and anxious that C's brain is taking little breaks from breathing overnight.  Next step is a rule-out MRI to ensure that these little breaks aren't being caused by a particular condition (which C's overconcerned mom needs to stop googling) and the likely end result will be simply knowing what's there, and not needing further attention unless things get worse over time.

R and I are comforted that the very smart doc has assured us that there is nothing dangerous at play here, but we are filled with questions -- what's the "circuit breaker" that gets her started breathing again, etc -- and new concerns about having to put C under general anesthesia to have the scan done.  (Something about a 3 year-old not being able to sit still for 45 minutes.  Go figure.)  But we are blessed to have a happy and healthy C and have faith that we are asking the right questions of the right people.

Thank you again for your thoughts, prayers and blessings.  I am truly lucky to have stumbled into this community of kindness.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just Breathe

Tonight I feel like half of my heart is sleeping somewhere else.

Tonight is the night that my sweet baby girl C is getting wired up, plugged in and monitored by some very smart people.  (Including my dear husband R, keeping guard nearby for the night.)  Seems that C's been taking mini-breaks in her breathing while she sleeps, and this has the docs curious enough to order an overnight sleep study to see what her little body's up to.

While these docs have assured us that there's most likely nothing to worry about, forgive us for being a little hypersensitive in these matters.  In the past ten months, we've seen not one, not two, but three families lose their young children, most recently a child just three days younger than A...while he slept, for a reason no one could have known until it manifested itself one night in a terrible, irreversible, cruel way.

So we're breathing.  And trying to find answers to the questions we don't even know how to ask.

And for my sweet C, whose bedtime routine I missed terribly tonight:

Mommy loves you,
Daddy loves you,
Grandmas and Grandpas love you,
Aunts and uncles and cousins love you,
And A loves you.
So God bless Mommy, God bless Daddy,
God bless Grandmas and Grandpas,
God bless aunts and uncles and cousins,
God bless friends who go on long walks with us,
God bless A,
and God bless C.
Sweet dreams tonight, big girl.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is This Thing Still On? :: tap tap::


Apparently it's been about 6 weeks from my last post.  Seems that "Wordless Wednesday" became "..and half the summer too."

One would think that things have been quiet in the Just After Bedtime house as summer has been winding down to an end.  But, of course, that isn't the case.  I've simply been away, too tired to think or blog at the end of a long day, but so many things to report on.

Like how we ended up doing on our summer bucket list.

And how I spent 3 days in August trying to make a little bit of a difference for a cause I'm passionate about.

And how I turned 40 and managed to make it through.

And how I blinked and my girls have become preschoolers -- sometimes seeming more like teenagers trapped in preschool bodies -- but preschoolers nonetheless.

And how life keeps moving on, one day at a time, bringing joy, laughter, craziness, worries, silliness, seriousness and all the rest.

Thanks to those who are still sticking with me.  I'll start checking in more often and appreciate each of you who do the same.  Hope this back-to-school week finds you all happy, healthy and loved.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - A Snort!

"Are you my mother?"

"You are NOT my mother!"

 "You are..."

"...a SNORT!!!"

With many thanks to PD Eastman, whose classic "Are You My Mother?" is one of the dog-eared favorites of our girls.

Friday, July 2, 2010

So Mad I'm Seeing Pink, or Why I Keep Walking

Unless you haven't taken a peek at the left side of this blog, or you've somehow evaded being on my e-mail mailing list, or you aren't one of my Facebook friends or Twitter tweeps, you probably know that I'm walking in the Komen 3-Day for the Cure in August. 

This will be my second 3-Day in a row.  The training is hard, the time away from R and the girls is wrenching, but less than an hour after Closing Ceremonies ended last year I knew I'd be signing up for another 3 days and 60 miles this year.  It's hard to put into words what a truly life-changing experience it is, and I won't try to duplicate the efforts of the legion of 3-Day bloggers who've gone before me and eloquently described the sights, sounds and emotions.

But my take on it?  I'm mad.

Mad that my mom had to spend a single minute worrying about what her diagnosis of breast cancer would mean for her, for her health and for her family.

Mad that one of my dear friends (and my 3-Day captain who keeps us so motivated) had to lose her mom to breast cancer before she had her lifetime and before she got to hold her baby's babies. 

Mad that moms of young children have to face, fight and - heartbreakingly - sometimes lose their fights against breast cancer, leaving behind babies that will have fleeting, if any memories of them.  This week my heart hurt when I learned of another, a friend of a training partner, who was taken away from her 2 and 5 year old babies, at 40 years old.  She could be me, and her kids could be mine.

Mad that so-called experts want to change when and how women get their regular mammograms, to set new rules that, had ithey been in place a couple years ago, a teammate/survivor/friend of mine would have likely faced a much different future.

Mad that every year, I hold my breath for a week until I get the "all clear" on my own annual mammogram, not able to fight off fleeting glimpses of what otherwise could be.

Mad that if something doesn't change, my daughters will have to do the same one day.

I know that anger isn't productive, and I know there is hope.  I know that the research that's been done and the progress that's been made over the past few years has changed so many women's stories for the better, including my mom's.

But until there is a cure, until there is an end, I will be mad, and I will walk, and I will do whatever I can do so my daughters never have to raise money for the cure or face a diagnosis of their own.

I write this not to promote my fundraising efforts, but as a reminder to myself.  As I've heard other 3-Day veterans tell, it's a little harder that second, third, etc year to get up at the crack of dawn on weekends for training walks, to relentlessly fundraise, to do the whole experience over again. 

But as long as I'm still mad, I will walk.  For them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Parenting While Plugged In (or Anything Else)

I love it when the mom-guilt stars align.

Last week, the New York Times published a story you may have already seen, "The Risks of Parenting While Plugged In."  At this point it's hard for me to remember if I glanced at it during one of the nights I was at the office until midnight, 1am, 3am...or at home but up working until 5am.  But it was one of those weeks that from time to time raises its ugly head but is unavoidable in my line of work - the work needs to get done, the clients' deadlines need to get met and everyone's burning the midnight oil.  At any rate, I sent myself the link, figuring it might be an interesting topic to blog about.  (On a side note, if you follow me on Twitter, I offer you my thanks for putting up with my late night pity parties and not dropping me like a hot potato.)

So here I am, nearly a week later, finally reading it, finally thinking about it, finally blogging about it.  Yes, I have a laptop and a smartphone.  And yes, it is too easy to just do a quick e-mail check, which leads to a Twitter check and a Facebook know the drill.  And yes, some of these checks are in the presence of my girls.  I hate that somedays it's a conscious effort for me to be unplugged for a given span of time, that it isn't my first instinct to leave. the. phone. alone.

If you haven't read the article, I can give you the Cliff's Notes according to me.  (1) If you don't unplug, you are not mentally present and maybe your kid will bite you.  (2) More research is needed, but we're all pretty sure you're screwing up your kids if you bring work outside of the office.  (3) Parents, you get an "E" for effort trying to avoid being in the office from dawn 'til dusk and seeing your kids for more than a few minutes, but too bad.

Okay, I exaggerate.

But when so many of us are trying to do right by our spouses, our children and ourselves, it's more than a bit wearing to hear from the "experts" that we're missing the mark.  Frankly, I'll file this article with the other research that tells me:
  • If you stay at work too long and aren't home long enough, you're harming your children.
  • If you don't stay at home with your children all day, you're harming your children.
  • If you stay at home with your children all day, you're harming your children.
  • If you're overly involved in your kids' day to day lives, you're harming your children.
And once I've got that filed away, I'll head back to play with my girls, catch up with my husband, and - yes - maybe even check my e-mail once in a while.  And I know that there's always room for improvement, but wouldn't parenting be dull otherwise?  

So...are you plugged-in but present?  Do you declare technology-free times in your home?  Or are you in danger of your kids biting you?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Summer Bucket List

Great parenting minds must be thinking alike -- note, that I will not be claiming to be one of them.  On the same day that my bloggy friend Darcie posted her own family's list of fun to-do's for the summer, R started building one for our own.  R's the stay-at-home half of our parenting team, and the girls and I are all the better for it.  As you will see below, he keeps them busy enough to be nice and tired at bedtime active, engaged and just plain having fun.

With full props to R, and without further adieu...the Just After Bedtime summer bucket list, 2010 edition.

Traditional Favorites
Local Finds
Friends and Family / Out of Town
  • Visit our friend Laura's horses
  • Burley and bike rides to a picnic lunch
  • Hopscotch on the patio
  • Plant a vegetable garden
  • Visit Grandma in St. Louis, visit the St. Louis Zoo (I may be biased, but STL's zoo blows our local ones out. of. the. water. 
  • Wisconsin Dells
  • Sleepover with neighbor friends
  • Backyard campout
  • Cooking practice/assistance
Just for the Parents
  • A Father's Day surprise (sorry, no link, R reads the blog!)
  • Date nights, date nights, date nights
  • And, if the stars align, maybe an overnight without the little ones to celebrate our fifth anniversary?
Yes, it will be a busy summer around here but it's great to have a list in place to help us avoid the "What should we do's" that inevitably come up on the occasional unbusy weekend.  It's been great to read everyone else's lists too! 

Hoping you all enjoy the long weekend, the glorious weather, and whatever fun you can find!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Impersonating a Blogger?

So when I caught ShePost's tweet today about a "crazy woman pretending to be a blogger," for a moment I was worried they were referring to me.  After all, it's been a good long time since our last visit together and, having not been at this bloggy thing all that long, I still feel a bit strange saying "I have a blog" and even stranger saying it to my friends and family.  I did finally sort of "came out" to my Facebook friends & fam with my last post, but if they're reading, they are awfully quiet about it...comments, anyone?  ::crickets chirping::

But, as with any new endeavor, I know that with practice I'll blog better, and will eventually find my blog voice and feel less like that "crazy woman pretending to be a blogger."  Or at least the "pretending to be a blogger" part.  I'm learning from a lot of great folks, many of whom I'm looking forward to meeting, or seeing again, at the May 20 Minnesota Bloggers Event.  (A big ol' Just After Bedtime shoutout to Molly of The Snyder 5 for putting this together!)  Can't wait to pester the blogging vets with lots of questions...

And as for that real pretend-blogger?  Yiiiiiiikes.  It never ceases to amaze me that if people took their collective energy spent coming up with ways to get away with crap and devoted it instead to doing something good in this world, my, what a wonderful world it would be.  I can keep hoping, I suppose. 

So, how have YOU been?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why Mom Needs a Night Out

So, like a lot of moms, I don't take a lot of opportunities to have a girls' night out. (And no, going to Noodles & Co. with my 2 & 3 year old daughters for dinner is not the kind of "girls' night" I'm referring to.)

So yesterday, I was happily getting ready for an evening out.  I'd already teed up my plans with A & C, letting them know that I'd be leaving after suppertime but home when they woke up in the morning.  There were the usual, half-protests (although I know that they equally enjoy R handling bedtime as well).  While R worked on supper, I was enjoying the quiet and solitude of a nice, hot shower.  Bathroom door closed, room warm and steamy, mental state relaxed.

Enter C, in her 2 1/2 year-old exuberance.

::sigh:: "Yes?"

"I want to sit in your LAP!!"

::sigh:: "Okay.  Can we take care of that in a few minutes?"

Exit C.  Bathroom door open, steam and warmth departed, mental state re-mommified.

I love you, my energetic, loving, busy, amazing girls.  And after a fun night of laughter and fun with some great gals last night, I'm "reset" and ready to see how you make me laugh this week ahead.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

(Semi-) Wordless Wednesday - A Shakespearean Masterpiece

The last stop on my girls' weekend was our old college haunt in Columbia, MO - Shakespeare's Pizza.  Best pizza in town and I'm pretty sure they were able to finance construction of the patio on what I spent on pizza, beer and pinball during my time at Mizzou.  A great end to a great weekend!

(Only in Columbia.  Seriously, there are stores that offer all three.)

Before (sort of)...

Almost there...

And after.
Then we ate the smiley face.
The end.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A 20-Year Road Trip

If you caught my tweets yesterday, you know that I'm enjoying a long weekend with some girlfriends this weekend.  (Mad props to R for doing single-parent duty for four days.) 

The occasion:  all four of us are hitting a birthday that ends in "0" this year.  I've known each of these ladies more than half my life, and it seems not so long ago that the milestone birthday we were hitting was "20" and not... well, you can take your guess based on the title of this post.  But it wasn't too far into our 20s that we all started to go our separate ways. Some moved, some married, some started families, and while we've kept in touch and gotten together from time to time, it's been less and less over the years. This will be the first time we've all been together since my wedding, nearly five years ago, and I can't wait.

One of the neat parts of this trip is that it took me through my college town, a place I don't get back to often and where I spent a lot of time with these gals during those "20" years.   I had the luxury of not having to be anywhere by any certain time today, so I took a little mini-tour back in time and around campus. 

Oh, those columns.  It's weird how six big chunks of stone can almost instantly bring me back to my college years.  There was nothing I looked forward to each spring more than that first warm day that I could stretch out on the fresh green grass of the quad, look at the blue sky and enjoy the moment.  But, like any other 20-year old, I couldn't have imagined that my life 20 years later wouldn't look exactly how I had it planned back then.  (Seriously, try telling that permed-haired, acid-washed-jeans-wearing smartass that over the course of the next 20 years she would become a lawyer and mom of two living in Minnesota...and watch her laugh, and laugh, and laugh...)

As I was driving through my college town, though, I really started to feel the past 20 years.  My old hangouts look somewhat more run-down or are gone altogether.  (The old cool basement alterna-techno-bar where everyone dressed in black, moped around and danced by themselves?  Yeah, it's an underground cafe/coffee shop now.  Sigh.)  When did traffic get so bad?  Why did all these darn kids take the good parking spots?  And how can these really, really young looking kids be in college? 

So we clearly aren't 20 anymore:  all four of us have said how much we're looking forward to nights of uninterrupted sleep during this getaway, and we're all bringing crafts to work on - not quite the "stay out until bar close" nights of our youth.    But none of us would trade the blessings, challenges, joys, struggles and ordinary moments of the past 20 years for anything.

What's your college nostalgia?  Or, what are your fun weekend plans?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

'Tis the (Baseball) Season

We love us some Twins baseball in the Just After Bedtime household.  Witness:
  1. The ratio of Twins caps to people in our home is about 3-to-1.
  2. Our 3 year old cheers "Get a hit, Joe" when a game is on.  (Okay, so maybe she says it regardless of who is at bat, but its a valid point nonetheless.)
  3. The Easter Bunny's biggest hit with the girls this year was their new Twins shirts.
There's just something beautiful about the game, and the season itself -- especially here in Minnesota.  Spring training kicks off just as the grey and cold of winter is really weighing us down and we're sure we'll never feel the sun again.  Opening day, just like the springtime with it, brings the fresh promise of a new year, rebirth and warm, fun days ahead.

I was raised to love the game.  When I was young, our hometown newspaper offered free or discounted passes to Cardinals games for good report cards.  The better the grades, the more games you got.  Now, it's a bit of an understatement to say my mom is a huge Cardinals fan.  HUGE.  And I like to joke with folks that the baseball tickets deal were the reason I did well in school, 'cause I sure didn't want to cost us any games by bringing home a less-than-stellar report card.

But the thing is...the first year I was old enough to earn tickets, it was just my mom, my brothers and me -- money was tight and baseball games were a rare treat, and to be able to help contribute to something so important to our family has stayed with me much longer than the curriculum I learned to earn the tickets in the first place.  (Pythagorean theorem?  World history?  The periodic table?  Yeah...I got nothin'.)

With that history, it wasn't even a question what to do when the Twins announced that their first games at their shiny new stadium would be against my hometown Cardinals.  It was an unexpected blessing, though, to have a connection at work who set me up with seats three rows behind the Cards' dugout for Saturday afternoon's game.  The sun was shining, the field was gorgeous and the Twins won.  But best of all, my mom was as giddy as a schoolgirl.

As R said that day, I'd earned the best report card ever for her.

Any baseball fans out there?  Share your favorite memories (though I'd appreciate none involving the Twins beating the Cards in the World Series...I was still a St. Louisan back then...)!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Just wrapping up a weekend with family, friends and many blessings.  Better Minnesota Easter weather than I could have hoped for, and a chance to enjoy the season through the eyes of A & C.  They did a great job sitting with Mom, Dad and the grandparents in the "boring room" at church (i.e., the sanctuary - their words, not mine) and had a great time hunting for eggs in the backyard.

Couldn't help but share a couple of favorite shots from the weekend. 

R and me at the Twins/Cardinals exhibition game.  Couldn't have asked for better weather.  Outdoor baseball is a beautiful thing.

C and A enjoying their egg hunt in the backyard.  Honestly, we could have put puppies and the entire Disney princess lineup in their plastic eggs and I'm pretty sure that they still would have lost out to the peeps and chocolate.  Hello, sugar rush / sugar crash...

So, how was your weekend?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Loves and God Blesses

So to get this blog thing started, it seems a post about bedtime would be in order.

With my husband on kid-duty from dawn to dusk, I generally get to be the boss o' bedtime around these parts.  As any of you who have parented for any amount of time are well aware, some nights go well, some not so much, but it's time with my daughters that I'll take any day.

Today was a particularly trying day.  Coming off an emotionally-wearing, up-too-late night the night before, trying to get the house in order before my folks arrive tomorrow for the holiday weekend, wrapping up things at work to spend time with said folks, and trying to keep a non-profit organization in crisis afloat - by the day's end it was starting to take its toll.  By the time bedtime rolled around, I had to stall an extra 40 minutes while the younger one's lovies finished a spin in the dryer after a naptime Pull-Ups fail.  This slight change in routine resulted in everyone, including me, being worn slick by the time we made it upstairs.

Got C, my 2 year old girl, tucked in, and headed to do the same for A, my not-quite 4 year old girl.  C pops in and needs to be escorted back to her room, where she proceeds to melt down entirely, while A calls me in a sing-song voice from her room.

By the time I drag myself back to A's room, it's a good hour after normal bedtime.  We get to the "Loves and God Blesses" part of our nightime routine, where we list everyone who loves A and everyone who needs God's blessings.  With A, this can be a mixed bag -- she either comes up with a winner ("God bless friends who go on a long walk with Mommy") or a dud ("God bless SpongeBob"). 

Tonight was a good one.

"God bless God.  He made a pretty nice world for us to live in."

Yep, that's a winner.  If my 3 year-old has this figured out, seems that it would do me some good to remind myself from time to time.

Here's hoping you are enjoying our pretty nice world these days too.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taking a deep breath and jumping in.

So, I'm dipping my toes into the blogging waters.  I've been fortunate enough to connect with a community of wonderful, talented bloggers locally who have encouraged me repeatedly to dive in.  At the same time, because these other bloggers are so wonderful and talented, I'm more than a bit intimated to join the ranks.  But here goes.

Why "Just After Bedtime"?  I'm the mom of two beautiful and busy girls and my days are filled with time at the office and time with them.  It seems that only "just after bedtime" -- that moment after both girls are tucked into bed -- is when I can collect my thoughts about the day and not be something to someone else.  Some days these moments last longer than others, before I jump back into work, planning for the next day or downtime with my spouse.  I hope to use this blog as a place to help capture these moments and put a few thoughts down from time to time.

Things I may cover here from time to time?  Being the work-outside-of-the-house-wife to a stay-at-home-dad.  Putting an end to breast cancer, 3 days at a time.  How fast time goes when you're spending it with two active children.  Turning 40.  Pop culture.  Learning as I go while I blog.  And very likely, trying to find my blogging voice and the time in which to use it.

For those who are out there, thanks for joining me on the ride -