In Retrospect

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Let’s see… last year at this time we were just starting to come out about the pregnancy. Mama K was beginning to show and we were actually on our way to Las Vegas (!) for an overnighter with my work team and our spouse/partner/friends to celebrate a successful year. The Roquardts had also just sold their first home, a sensible three-bedroom ranch, to hole up in a third-story, two-bedroom apartment until the next thing came along. Because we were cheap and baby-less at the time, we would pack up a few plastic tubs every night and drive them over to the apartment, unpack, and bring back the empties for the next round. We did this for a month, and since Mama K was pregnant, it was Mama C who hauled the tubs up and down the stairs while Mama K sat in the car like a getaway driver.

The pictures we saw of the fetus were mostly profile, so we dubbed her “Monocle” for the duration of the pregnancy. We would sing her name to the opening tune of Orange is the New Black, because that’s what we happened to be watching at that time. Plus, it was an upbeat Regina Spektor song and we were just giddy about the new life ahead of us.

We had no clue what to expect, but were were excited.

One year later, we are still in the apartment, but now surrounded by boxes to be packed up for our next adventure. Plus, it’s the holidays, and who doesn’t love a good challenge during the most frenetic time of the year?

In retrospect? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

PSA

(101 blog entries and counting!)

WARNING: there have been several unconfirmed sightings of an escaped wild animal over the last few days. If encountered, please call the official Baby in Fuzzy Things hotline to report the incident to authorities.

Not actual size
Not actual size

If spotted, please approach the animal with caution; it has two hidden teeth that are very sharp and able to leave itty bitty bite marks if contact is made with human skin.

Do not put your face near it; you will likely get slapped. It will seem funny at first, but then the sting and embarrassment will sink in making it… less funny.

Do not try to trap the animal in a car seat. You will only agitate it further.

If you do detain the wildlife, do not put your corgi near it unless you are okay with the corgi’s ears getting slobbered upon.

This has been a public service announcement from the Department of Cute.

Memories… light the corners of my mind.

We used to take tennis lessons at the Parks & Rec department on Saturday mornings. Now this will have to do:

We used to hit the bars for happy hour specials. Does spinach and butternut squash blended with apple juice count?

We used to do cardio on elliptical machines. I have not stepped inside of a gym in almost a year:

We used to search the city for hidden treasures: events, bargains and mini-destinations. These days we search Little Bug’s mouth for new teeth. Sometimes more successfully than others:

Tongue: 1. Mamas: 0.
Tongue: 1. Mamas: 0.
Eureka!
Eureka!

Mama Muscle

Hey you! Yeah you! Are you sick of paying hefty gym membership dues? Don’t have time to work out every day? Bad weather got you staying inside yet again?

Have I got the solution for you. It won’t help you to open a jar of olives with a greater degree of ease, but it will make you feel plenty tired. Are you ready? Let’s get started with the Parent’s Daily Workout Regimen!

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ARMS: Put your incrementally fatter baby in the car seat and travel down the stairs to the daily car ride. For extra calorie burning fun, forget your keys and run back up the stairs before going down again. Repeat.

BACK: Build your back strength by forgoing a standard changing table and just put a changing pad on top of a short dresser. Feel the burn in no time.

LEGS: Pace, pace, pace, pace. Back and forth. Bounce, pace, bouncepacebouncepace. Also, don’t forget that you can do a lot with your legs in lieu of having your hands available, such as close doors, move furniture and herd dogs.

EYES: Train yourself to see in the dark, well enough to change a diaper or make a bottle without turning on so much as a nightlight. You won’t even have to get bitten by a radioactive animal to acquire these skills!

EARS: Hone your hearing to be able to pick up the faintest change in breathing, shuffling or other noise that the average human just doesn’t find interesting.

FACIAL MUSCLES: What’s the matter? Does your charming smile fail to entertain and appease the baby? You will quickly learn to contort your face in ways to make Jim Carrey jealous.

VOCAL CHORDS: Oh, you thought that those silly faces came without equally silly noises? Guess again. Also, if you never thought you would find yourself narrating your every movement for learning’s sake… welcome to parenthood.

Phase One (Baby Calisthenics) is a prerequisite for Phase Two (Toddler Martial Arts) and Phase Three (Teenager Meditation).

Hurry! This offer is for a limited time only!

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The Good Stuff

Bad news. It’s so pervasive– especially with online media updating at a constant rate. Worst of all, each headline seems to be tailored to my new parental worries. All of the things I found distantly disturbing are now so much more troubling as a mom: kidnapping, abuse, failing schools, inflation, pollution, drugs, Justin Bieber. Sometimes it’s hard not to think that the universe is picking on me, showing me all of the horrors just waiting for Lucie down the road.

And then there are days like today. Yes, it’s sunny out and yes, we are on our way to celebrate Mama K’s birthday. But this is a story about the good stuff that still exists in the world, and something that I hope Lucie gets to see a whole lot more of growing up.

This morning started out with a great breakfast. Our realtor and her partner, both friends of ours, took us out to celebrate the closing of our new home (more on that later). While eating, we witnessed an unleashed German shepherd and what seemed like her owner (turns out it wasn’t) running up and down the street. Up and down, up and down. Another woman joined them. Casual comments were made about the dog’s safety and the owner’s ability to catch up to his dog. Before we could get up to assist, the group was out of sight.

After breakfast, The Roquardts were headed back on a busy 5-lane road, when Kate saw the German shepherd again. “Is that the same dog?” she asked. Before I could reply, she did a U-turn and followed it down a neighborhood street. We also noticed two other people who were jog/walking down the sidewalk with a leash. I jumped out and Kate grabbed the leash in our trunk– the one we keep for occasions such as this, which oddly occur more than one would think.

“Are you chasing that dog?” I called. The couple said yes, and that it wasn’t theirs, either. I could tell they were pooped; it turns out they had been running for about a mile. At that time we were two miles away from the breakfast place.

“Jump in,” I said. At that moment it didn’t strike me as odd that I was inviting two strangers, a man and a woman, into our car to sandwich the babbling infant in the back seat. Okay, it sort of did, because I “gave up” the front seat to occupy one of the back seats.

Long story short, we stalked the dog for about 30 more minutes and finally caught her. It turns out that the couple didn’t know each other, and that the man saw the woman running and offered to help. I also learned that the other woman kept an extra leash in her purse “just in case.” The strangers offered to take the dog to the shelter, but Kate and I ended up driving her there. Here paws were bloody from her travels, and she had already made a bed in the back end of our car. On the way, I found a lost dog posting on Craigslist and contacted the potential owner. The microchip ID was confirmed and the dog went home with her relieved family. The owners lived about six miles away from where we finally found the dog.

There are bad people in this world. They hurt others. They steal, lie, cheat, extort and act in cruel and selfish ways. But today we saw at least four people, not including ourselves, who risked their physical safety to prevent the harm of another creature. Those people came together for a common cause and kept in touch for the rest of the day. We also met kind and caring staff at the animal shelter, who told us that contacting the owner directly would save them the intake fee (i.e. revenue for the shelter).

All of those people learned their good values from someone, and Kate and I learned them from our parents, teachers and mentors along the way. That means that there are at least ten other good people in the world. Those ten people learned kindness, generosity and compassion from at least ten others, so that makes twenty. You see where I’m going with this. The world is not such a bad place, after all. In fact, it can be filled with inspiring, loving, altruistic moments, and I’m looking forward to passing that along.

This Thanksgiving

To say it is a tad stressful when Lucie is hungry would be an understatement. She cries and pulls at her hair and flails about and gives us this look of “oh, how could you?” It is during these moments that the bottle warmer cannot work fast enough.

That is one very hungry kiddo. But she’s not chronically hungry, and for that I am very thankful. I came across this statistic today in the November 2014 issue of Metro Parent magazine: 27% of kids in Oregon are “food insecure.” This means that they do not know where their next meal is coming from, nor do they know when to expect it.

The Roquardts very much look forward to the weekends. For us it means sleeping in, taking long walks together, catching up on the week’s TV episodes, and imbibing at least one pizza between Friday night and Sunday evening. Okay, maybe two…

But for almost one in three school kids in Oregon, the weekend means something different. Those two days away from the structured security of school meals could mean growling stomachs, headaches and weakened immune systems from malnutrition.

So, when we are sitting around our Thanksgiving table later this month, or even during tonight’s dinner, I will give thanks for the access to food that we have. I will be grateful that our daughter will not have to go without eating for extended periods of time and that her hunger can be quelled within minutes.

Babies may get “first Christmas”, but we mamas get to claim a “first Thanksgiving” this year. Every moment of every day… we are thankful.

For more information, please check out this article, or visit http://www.oregonhunger.org.