Monday, February 8, 2016

The New Hampshire 2016 Primary- Where's the Ground Game?

Living in New Hampshire these days has a lot of perks.  I was able to take the kids to see four "very important people" this week, aka presidential candidates.

There were three benefits of my little presidential tour: 1) Gideon learned the proper usage of "very" ("this toy is *very* special, mommy," "I'm very happy today, mommy"), 2) I was able to decide which candidate I liked most, and cast my vote a few days early, and 3) .02 seconds of fame.

Here's what I have learned from the town halls for Chris Christie, Marco Rubio,  Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina (I would have loved to have seen Hilary, Bernie, and Jeb Bush in action (no interest in Trump) but needed to focus limited time on people I would actually consider voting for) and straw polling any and all New Hampshirites:

1) Chris Christie is personable but negative.  I got the sense the staff are all from New Jersey.  He thinks an awful lot of himself.

2) Rubio is positive, articulate, disciplined, thoughtful, and, speaking volumes about him,  has attracted a team that is incredibly kind and organized.  They let me park in the spot saved for the campaign bus because of the kids, found me a seat where the kids could play with puzzles, and took my question on Libya (which Rubio knocked out of the park).  Their follow up has been professional and tasteful, and their literature and signage is compellingly New Hampshire-specific.

3) There's something about Ted Cruz I just don't like.  I agree with him on most things, but I sense an arrogance or sleaze or something that makes me not trust him.  In talking to a Princeton classmate of his yesterday, I am not alone - few liked him college.  It also didn't seem he jelled well with his New Hampshire crowds.  While listening in the overflow balcony area, I heard New England College (where the event was held) students who came to watch say as they left, "I'm so over him."

4) Carly Fiorina is still such a good idea and has great ideas.  Unfortunately I learned from a friend that she is incredibly and unprofessionally pushy ("you don't get a picture unless you vote for me!") and another who worked for her that she was no good as a boss.  Yikes, but wouldn't she be GREAT against Hillary??  

5) Bernie Saunders has an excellent ground game and people seem to really jive with his socialist (wha??) message.  I wouldn't be surprised if NH gives him a win.

6) No candidate but Bernie has a great ground game.  We don't have a TV and I am ruled in the car by nursery-song nazis, so I don't listen to radio.  I am campaigned-to only by yard signage, word of mouth, and my proactive seeking of it.  Based solely on yard signage, it's clear to me that they are going up only where national, non New-Hampshire staffers hover and land.  Rare is the local New Hampshire signage.  Granted, I live in a small village, but it is active and influential.  If you don't invest in grassroots politics, you aren't building a movement, people, just enriching the media outlets.

I was just changing G out of his PJ bottoms when Rubio walked by.  That might be the last time I attempt to change a babe at a political event!  Quite the feat to pretend/hide my son's half-nakedness so as not to draw attention to ourselves with all eyes in the room in our corner!

This was the kids' favorite event, probably because I let them crawl around in the overflow balcony. 

In the PJs again to meet Carly.

I only went to the Christie event because it required so little effort - it was in our own little town!

Small Wonders
* I failed at tying Gideon's shoes the other morning.  He looked at me with a smirk and said, "Nice try, mom."  Thanks.
* Recently heard by G: "I never do anything.  Leave me alone."  (OK, moody toddler-teenager!) and "That's totally fine." "That was big." (Referring to a momentous event) "Take care!" when Lance was about to walk on some ice.
* Gideon's mastered using "though" and, as discussed above, "very."  Where does he come up with this stuff?
* Esther took seven steps in a row on Friday!
* Esther got her 15 month check up this week and she is 35 inches long, having grown nearly a foot since birth!  My giant, three-foot baby can beat up your baby any day.
* Someone close to us has had some health concerns affecting the family, and it seems Esther has a sixth sense for these things, as she's been a bit out of sorts in the last few days and required extra cuddles.

Our family snowy walk a week ago

Testing the ice -yikes!

I got cream cheese stuffed deep fried french toast at the School House Cafe in Hopkinton - ostensibly for Gideon but sinfully eaten all by myself once he thought it looked yucky.

The joys of snow days!

Almost walking!

Gideon inadvertently knocked over a bird feeder, and I found its contents rather enchanting.

Do you want to build a snowman?

Boston Science Museum

Gideon loved climbing all over the rocket ship.

Chinese New Year celebration - she loved it until the paper dragon got within inches of her face. 

church ball

Lots of settling-in projects this week, like hanging the pots and pictures...

Monday, February 1, 2016

NYC Roadtrip and the "Magic of Tidying Up"

Gideon rapt by the train show at the New York Botanical Gardens
A little bit of catchup is in order.  I've gone from one big thing to the next recently, and have finally had a chance to slow a little and catch up with life (and the cleaning, and Mt. St. Laundry, and Mt. St. Ironing, and Mt. St. Mending, etc...)

Before the Esther Episode (see last week's post) and after the mid-January work deadline, I put the kids in the car, blizzard or no, picked up a smallish friend in Boston to keep me company and help with the kids, and drove the four-ish hours to New York.  

There we caught up with very dear friends and tasted a little New York magic - a broadway show for me and a train show for the kids, pictures below.

Upon returning home I faced Mount St. Boxes and attacked them from every angle till I made my final dump run with the last box on Tuesday.

As I cleaned, I organized.  Maybe micro-organized is a better term. Lance had me read the best seller, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up" by Marie Kondo a few months ago, and I pretty much followed her guidance: only keep those things that "spark joy", tidy your entire house in one go, and organize vertically so you can see what you have when you open its container.

Though her writing and style leave much to be desired, now that I've organized per her method I can say that Kondo's philosophy is pretty much accurate.  My creativity was completely sapped while my house was a disaster.  Couldn't even think about blogging.  No ideas and nothing to write about.  My social planning skills, which always requires energy and creativity in some form, could not be mustered.  Cooking was even difficult - which I normally do on the fly and without recipes.

Yet as I started to put my house in order, my creative juices began to flow and I could think about writing projects both personal and professional, set goals and mentally plan vacations, and all of the various to-dos I hadn't done for months.  I don't know if it will change my life that dramatically as I am a generally clean person, but the process certainly underscored a life lesson: organization and letting go of dead weight engenders creativity and energy, at least for me.  

Time Square with Katie Lazenby

We got standing tickets to a sold-out An American in Paris for $27 then found seats 20 minutes in.  Score.

Loved seeing the lego miniature of Rockefeller Square

A very serious evening playing at the Claytons.  Will and Sarah were amazing with our kids, and Gideon asks for Liam and Coco nearly daily.

New York Botanical Gardens

All of the buildings at the train show were NYC miniatures made out of natural materials - twigs, cinnamon, etc.

 Small Wonders:
* I forgot to add Wednesday that Esther's vocab includes "ball," "hat," "apple" (a new addition today), "up," "dog," and "gentle"
* I got Gideon a 42 piece puzzle and opened it this morning (puzzles are our "Sunday" toy).  We thought it was a bit of a stretch for him, and have been helping him a bit each time.  I left to sing at a fireside and Lance put both kids to bed.  As he was finishing with Esther, Gideon went upstairs and told Lance that he finished the puzzle by himself, which Lance thought just might be a fib.  Turns out it wasn't - Gideon can do a 4+ puzzle by himself.  Now to get him to learn buttons and zippers so he can dress himself...  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to Survive a Night at the Hospital with Your Baby

She gave us a good scare with low oxygen levels the night before, but was herself again in no time.

Preparing to stay at the hospital for the birth of a child is done with excitement, checklists, and advanced warning (usually).

But who ever prepares for the ordeal of a suddenly sick child that requires constant care in the hospital?

With Esther's overnight stay last week, I have now slept in two different hospitals with two different babies.  Luckily, this time behind baby bars was brief, but it's an ordeal no matter how one cuts it.

The emergency room is not a place for babies: you cannot set them down anywhere, but must hold them, strapped to whatever monitors they have attached, and call for help should your baby need to be changed or fed or...whatever.  Once transferred to a pediatric unit, the going is slightly easier, as they will have little cribs, but it's still not the most comfortable place to attempt to care for a child, let alone yourself.

I've learned it can be less of an ordeal if one is prepared.

With Gideon, I was ushered from a casual doctor's visit to the hospital via ambulance without being allowed to go home.  This time, I arrived at the hospital directly from a road trip, so was able to bring food and luggage with me once admitted to the hospital.

Now that I have done this twice, I plan on take the stroller into the hospital with me (so I can set baby down and they can sleep in the ER!), and incorporating a hospital stay plan into a 72 survival kit, making sure to include the following:

1) An emergency childcare contact for any siblings.

2) Phone & charger.

3) Boxed shelf milk, especially as my babe takes a special kind of milk.

4) Three pairs of pajamas for the baby.

5) Baby medications, including tylenol/paracetomal (it can take hours to get this).

6) Whatever sleep aids for the baby - soothing blanket, white noise maker, etc., and any means to make their crib dark if needed.

7) Modest pajamas (yes, you are allowed to smile), warm socks, slippers, and an eye mask, plus a change of undies for me.

8) Basic toiletries - shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, face wash, face towel, and moisturizer, plus basic medications for mamma.

9) Copies of medical records for the baby and insurance card.

10) Snacks and food - for both of you - and a big water bottle - for at least 24 if not 72 hours.  No one will feed you unless you are nursing, and you can't leave your baby to go get food.

No need to bother with diapers and wipes- they provide that, and have pre-weighed the diapers for you because they weigh all soiled diapers as a way to measure progress.

If you've been unfortunate enough to have endured a hospital stay, what do you recommend putting into a hospital survival kit?

Back in November 2013, Gideon was on a nebulizer as well as oxygen tubes with RSV.  Esther had a oxygen nebulizer and had the tubes put in before she went to sleep, but thankfully never needed to use them throughout the night.

Small Wonders
* Esther's vocabulary includes mamma, dadda, all done, bot bot (for bottle), hi, Gideon, animal sounds (baa, moo, something akin to cock-a-doodle-do, and neh), and, my recent favorite, thank you.  She can also sign for more, all done, drink, and hello/goodbye.  She'll mimic just about any non-verbal sound as well, including clearing your throat.  
* Gideon's little friend Mary came over the other day, and Gideon got really shy, almost like a teenager.  His response to almost everything she said was, "Wow, that's cool," or "wow, that's fun."  I couldn't help but tittle.
* Gideon surprised us the other day by saying  while playing with his toys, "turbo engines, prepare for blast off!"  Never know what he is learning from cartoons.
* Last night, Gideon placed all his little people in his double-decker bus, pairing people by shirt and hair color, and carefully turning their faces forward.  OCD at its finest.
* Gideon always amazes us with his puzzling abilities - 25 piece puzzles aren't difficult enough, so we will upgrade to 50 piece puzzles \for our two year old.