Monday, June 29, 2009

Beginning My "Jesus" Year

So yesterday was my 33rd birthday (thanks Mommy! I appreciate you popping me out SOOO much more now that I've done it myself a couple of times!). Some people call your 33rd year on Earth your "Jesus" year since that's when his Earthly ministry ended. Not all of the important stuff happened that year, but a whole lot of it did. We'll have to see what it brings me. (Oh, and happy 5th birthday, free Iraq!)

Leading up to my birthday, God gave me His present - a new, fabulous job! I'm working at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab. I'm working with some former co-workers and customers (a.k.a. "old friends") doing stuff that I enjoy doing! They have a new laptop for me and _TWO_ ginormous screens (and a docking station) for when I'm in the office. Right now, that's daily mostly in the afternoons. In a couple of weeks, I'll start working most days from home. The main reason that I haven't posted about this (or anything else) since I started two weeks ago is that they became aware of a cyber attack the day before I started and today's the first day that they've restored complete internet access to us. They're paying me (way) more, they're a (way) better organization overall, they value me as an employee (way) more, they've bent over backwards to do everything possible to make working for them as convenient for me as they can. And did I mention that I'm working with friends doing stuff that I love? :) It's _GREAT_!

It's been hard being away from the kids even though it was just the afternoons, but we've got a friend watching them for us and they're really enjoying her. Plus I'm really only missing lunch, naps, and the post-nap whiny period. For the most part, I'm ok with that. :) It _has_ been difficult trying to keep the house "company" ready-ish and getting stuff like grocery shopping done while still pumping enough to meet Joanna's needs while I'm away, picking up our friend (who is currently car-less), and getting to work "on time" (which is really just a requirement I set for myself - no one here cares when I get here). But we're making it work!

Joanna was 6 months old last Tuesday, so we started with the solid foods. She's not the fan of carrots that her big brother used to be. Didn't mind the peaches so much, but just isn't as into eating solids as AJ was at 4 months! It's still amazing to me how different they can be!

Hopefully she'll do alright with them though because the next two weekends we'll be apart for significant periods of time and I'm not sure I'll be able to pump enough. My folks are sending me and VNB to a little B&B on St. Michaels this Friday night (with babysitting included since my mom's flying up Friday morning and staying through Monday morning). Then the following weekend, we're taking our first family-of-four camping trip with a big group of friends. The group is leaving Friday night, but I've got a meeting till late, so I'll be away from her a good bit of the evening, then most of us (myself included!) are going white water rafting on Saturday. So I'll spend this week and next downing my "Mother's Milk" tea and eating oatmeal cookies to boost my production as much as possible.

But speaking of which, I need to go pump. So things are good! I just haven't had time in the mornings to post anything.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Life on Planet Mom

So I was sent the book "Life on Planet Mom: a down-to-earth guide to your changing relationships" by the MOPS people to review and tell everyone about. It's written by Lisa T. Bergren and is the theme book for the 2009-2010 MOPS year. The main point of the theme ("Together on planet Mom") for the year is that when you have your first baby (either through birth or through adoption), all of your relationships change as a result. Some of them change for the better, some for the worse, and some just disappear.

The book focuses on six different relationships that are vital to a mom: your relationship with yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends, the world, and God. In each chapter, Ms. Bergren gives understanding and encouragement for a mom as she navigates each of these relationships and how they change when kids enter into the picture. She also gives practical advice on how to maintain or even improve each relationship.

Scattered throughout the book are responses to an online survey that MOPS moms were invited to take. I can't tell you how surprised I was when I read one quote that sounded vaguely familiar only to have it attributed to "Leia!" Yep, I'm quoted in the book! Pg. 138, if you're curious! I only barely remember the survey, but how cool is that? :)

My favorite chapter was the one on how your relationship with the world changes when you become a mom. It's very important to me that my children get exposed to many different opportunities to help various people both locally and around the world. Finding toddler-friendly service opportunities may be difficult, but it's slowly becoming a passion of mine. At the very least, it was good to be encouraged that sometimes even if the kids can't come, it's good for them to see their parents serving in various ways.

Coming from mostly a fiction background, Ms. Bergren begins each chapter with a short snippet of the lives of four friends who are in various life stages and situations. Without being too hokey, the various situations give excellent examples of ways that relationships change with kids, but how important it is to work to maintain important relationships in our lives.

All in all, I liked this book (really there _are_ books out there that I don't like, MOPS just seems to be sending me books that are well-written, interesting, and pertinent to me - I promise I'd let you know if they were bad or poorly-written). I'm really looking forward to this new MOPS year and am excited to get to share what I already know about the theme with the rest of our steering team!

Thanks to MOPS for including me in their "Blog Book Tour!" I can't wait to see what they send next! :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head

So VNB's been doing this weight loss challenge through work and after depriving himself for most of a month and reaching his target weight (but still losing the challenge since someone else lost a greater percentage of weight), he was really craving a Frosty. Wanting to maintain his renewed slimness, he wasn't going to indulge until I mentioned that it wouldn't be so bad as long as we walked over to get it (Wendy's is about a mile away along wooded paths - yay, Columbia!). So we pulled out the stroller, strapped Joanna in, packed an umbrella since it was supposed to storm, and went on our merry way. AJ had a great time running (his favorite thing ever), we all got exercise, and it was a lovely walk. We decided on Chik-fil-a rather than Wendy's when we got there, then decided to check to see if Walmart had something we were looking for (same shopping center). Well, after our Walmart stop, we headed back outside only to be met by the very first drops of rain. By the time we reconfigured outfits and the stroller and dug out the umbrella, it was pouring, as it continued to do most of the night.

AJ (who was riding since we were in a maze of parking lots and roads) immediately started screaming like every drop of rain burned his skin or he was melting or something. So we put AJ in the back, piled the baby on top of him, I held the umbrella over me and VNB, and VNB pushed the stroller. We made it most of the way home (although VNB ended up taking the umbrella back since he was better able to protect the littles than I was) with only the occasional screams from AJ about his "piggies" getting wet (seriously, you'd think the kid was made out of sugar or something for all of his screams about getting wet). After a while, he was done with holding Baby, so I ended up carrying the baby the last little bit while AJ cowered in the stroller and VNB pushed.

Fortunately, it was a warm night and a warm rain...and our laziness after a recent zoo trip meant that AJ and Joanna had jackets in the stroller. Even so, we were all sopping wet when we got home.

It was a fun adventure though, and one that VNB and I, at least, enjoyed. Joanna liked it too, once I was carrying her. AJ's the only one who will probably be scarred for life (although it didn't seem to make him want to hurry at all _today_ as we were running through parking lots to avoid getting wet - no, _today_ rain was tons of fun). Still, remind me never to walk for Frosties on a whim again. At least not without serious rain gear.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Jesus Is My Friend!

I'm not really sure what disturbs me more. This video by itself or the fact that AJ wandered by while I was watching it, saw a close-up of the lady on the left with the glasses, and said, "MAMA!!" like he thought she was me.