Thursday, June 28, 2007

Scotland 1

Tuesday, 12 June

The girls and I all have piles of outfits nearly ready to go into suitcases. The dining room table is covered with other stuff to pack. I have run 7 errands already today. Paul arrives home from work at 5:30 and I take advantage of the opportunity to hand off the girls and look over all the outfits again before giving Paul the go-ahead to start packing.

We paused briefly for leftovers (clearing out that frig!) in the midst of our packing frenzy, but finally had all loaded into the minivan - with 5000 miles already, and not quite 3 months old! - by 9:45. PM. We dropped Lizzi off with friends and hit the road, sipping Starbucks.

Ada stopped crying by the time we hit Illinois, Ellie watched two movies ("Elmo" - Nemo - and "Nsters" - Monsters, Inc.) before falling asleep, and we arrived at my parents' house at 3:00 AM.

Wednesday, 13 June

By 1:30 PM, we were all freshly showered and waiting out on my parents' lawn with our luggage. The neighbors came outside with their cameras; we were quite a sight. We loaded into a small, chartered bus for the long trip to O'Hare (traffic).

Once at the airport, there was mayhem in the form of an enormous flight to Hyderabad and confusion in the form of desk agents who didn't know what to do with our party.

After security (liquids, pastes, & gels, oh my!) we had time to pop into the restrooms then board our plane. Good thing we left home so early! Navigating the airport with young children and no stroller is no fun. Also, Ellie does still fit in the sling and can sleep there!

My shoulders are a little sore.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Points of Connectedness

Our marriage therapist is leaving us (moving away) which is very sad, although my sister (also a marriage and family therapist) tries to spin it positively. Before our marriage saver leaves, she'll help us to "transition" to a new therapist, who might be able to take us further, or in a different direction, or whatever.

Anyway, at our session this week, we were discussing our homework, which was to think of points in our relationship where Paul and I have felt particularly connected.

Every single item on his list involved sex.

My list was even shorter: I felt like Paul and I had an unusual connection, that we were always on the same page, that I could share anything with him without fearing an unsatisfactory reaction. So, basically, my answer was, "Every day, all the time, for about 9-1/2 years."

And now I understand why I felt this way. Here is the way Paul and I have been communicating:

Sarahlynn has an opinion and expresses it. (a not-so-shockingly common event)

Paul says, "Uh huh," or, "Yeah."

Sarahlynn hears: I completely agree with you.

Paul means: I acknowledge that you're speaking to me, but for various mysterious reasons of my own, I'm not going to carry the conversation any further just now.

Ah hah!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sunshine, Breeze, Warmth

We were up late packing last night, and Ellie woke up ridiculously early this morning (excitement!). Paul took Ellie into her room to try to get her back to sleep, and we all fell back to sleep. Soundly asleep.

At 6:15 the phone started ringing. I was completely confused and jumped out of bed to try to find and stop the racket before it woke one of the girls. There's a phone in our room, but I keep the ringer turned off, so I didn't even think about it and just ran for the kitchen phone.

By the time I got to it, the answering machine had picked up, so when I answered the phone the machine started making a horrible screeching noise. It took me several long loooong seconds to find the off button, all while I'm speaking basic gibberish into the phone.

The laughing man on the other end of the line politely apologized for waking me up, then explained that he was at the airport and had a passport for delivery to an Eleanor, slated for "before 7:30 am delivery" and needed to confirm that someone would be home to pick it up.

We would indeed! And we had Ellie's passport by 6:45 am on the day of our scheduled departure.

In other news of great sunshine and delight, Paul's sister and her husband had their first baby today! Welcome, baby Abby!

Good friends of ours had their second baby yesterday. Welcome, baby Xavier!

Both births were natural, healthy, and, it seems, exactly what the mamas wanted. It is indeed a sunny day today.

Now it's time for my June blogging hiatus. Enjoy the house, sitters!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Trendy Bob

I just had my hair cut, and I am miserable, but I am not crying about it because certainly there are more serious things for me to be upset about.

Like my marriage. And Ellie's passport still not being here. And the fact that I can't seem to find a place to be alone for even a moment in my own house, being blessed with a husband and two children who require my physical and emotional presence at all times. Oh, and the not-so-minor fact that my best friend's husband is in Iraq.

Now that things are in perspective, back to my haircut.

We made ourselves a budget two weeks ago. In an attempt to keep to it, I decided that the expensive haircuts I got every 3 months last year were a luxury we can ill afford this year, so I went down to Great Clips for a quick trim before our vacation.

I thought things were pretty clear. "I haven't had a haircut in 6 months, so I need some length taken off," I said. "I have some natural wave to my hair, and I like that. I curve my it under at the ends, and like my hair to fall about here when it's dry" (indicating a point in the middle of my neck, well below the chin).

"Below the chin, dees is goot length for you," she said. "And you wear eet curled under on bottom?" She went on to explain to me that I have a lot of hair, thick, full, healthy, I'm lucky, etc. And that the hair on my neck would cause the rest of my hair to curl out. So she was going to thin it. OK. For the first time ever, I experienced clippers on my neck, but I was not afraid, because Helga and I were clear on what I wanted. She pulled out a razor and did something with it while I tried not to notice.

Then she had me lean forward and she started cutting. I became a little concerned about how much she was cutting off in back, but she explained that it would be a leetle shorter in back than in front, which wouldn't be noticeable but would give the cut a much trendier look, like Charlize Theron's trendy bob. Uh, OK.

As she cut the sides, it became apparent that I was going to hate this.

When I'm uncomfortable with my weight (love of eating combined with newborn baby/lack of time for exercise) and the way that it adversely affects my chinline, guess what I want least? A super-short haircut that hits the middle of my cheek when dry and leaves my entire neck exposed.

Especially when I'm about to go on vacation to somewhere humid, where I expected my natural curls to fly wild and free around my head in most romantic fashion.

Why-oh-why did I not procrastinate on this haircut?

My hair is too short for a ponytail, too short even to keep behind my ears. Just long enough to get in my eyes.

Damn it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Schedule

We had a 2-1/2 hour special town hall meeting at church this afternoon (5/20) about a painful controversy that's been festering under the skin of our church for at least 14 years in its current incarnation. I've been a member of this church for 7 years and only realized that this issue was serious, more than a humorous mild irritant, about a year ago. Now, even church visitors can tell it's a mess.

Here are some of my reflections after the meeting:

Money talks and people listen. Except that that's not the way the reformed church is supposed to work. "Several families" have withdrawn their financial pledges, and the church needs donations to continue its good work. But the church shouldn't be easily bullied, either. Gifts to God shouldn't come with strings attached.

One woman got up to speak and toxic waste spewed out of her mouth. Her diatribe was full of innuendo, veiled threat, and vague criticism.

"Lots of people" are really unhappy about this.
"I thought we were hiring" a minister who would do what we wanted.
"I never thought my family would consider leaving, but - "
We're in the middle of a capital campaign. "This is the worst time" to piss people off.

At one point, she suggested that we just "buy another minister," and my shocked gasp/gulp/choke was clearly audible throughout the sanctuary. Others started murmuring and looking uncomfortable. She looked around and clearly didn't understand what she said wrong (ditto with all her previous threats to withhold money pledged to the completion of our new building). Finally she realized what people were reacting to - or someone explained it to her - and said, "Oh, hire, call, whatever. Get a new guy in here."

"Being heard" means the same thing as "getting exactly what I want," apparently.

Compromise is unacceptable. So is taking time to deliberate and do the process right; the session just needs to do what these people want, immediately.

Fortunately, our new minister didn't back down. And he said that he'd rather hold 4 more capital campaigns to pay off the new building than accept one dollar with those sorts of strings attached. Score one for the new guy.


Dear Department of State,

I am very angry with you. I hardly know where to begin. The whole process of applying for a passport is nigh onto ridiculous anyway, but like hundreds of thousands of my fellow Americans, I gamely filled out forms, stood in line at the post office, and jumped through hoops without complaint.

Then I waited, and waited, and waited. My checks cleared. Still I waited.

Look, your website and recorded messages say that due to the increased demand for U.S. Passports, it is currently taking up to 10-12 weeks to receive a passport. So please apply early, etc.

I mention your website and recorded messages, because they're my closest points of contact with you. This, of course, increases my frustration exponentially. I cannot get to a live person on the phone, despite calling over and over and over, at various times of day. I can't get a response to my emails.

And listen, civil servants, I applied more than 12 weeks ago, my "estimated date of departure" is less than a week away, and still I do not have my passports!

I would willingly hang around on hold for an hour or more, waiting for the next available representative. But, no, although my call is "very important" to you, all representatives are always busy assisting other callers, and my call cannot be answered at this time. Or any time.

I applied early, as suggested. I repeatedly checked the website for the status of my passports rather than bothering your representatives. I waited until inside of your magical 14 day window to call, as you requested.

You took my money. There is no reason why these applications are anything but straightforward. My problem is urgent. AND YET I CANNOT FIND ANYONE TO TALK TO ME.


Passport Status:

Paul: Still has valid passport from our honeymoon. Lucky dog.

Sarahlynn: Passport renewal application submitted over 12 weeks ago. Approved yesterday. Scheduled to arrive in the mail the day before our departure date. I hope my mailman isn't late!

Eleanor: Needed a passport. Applied at the same time as my renewal application. Request still "currently being processed."

Adelaide: Needed a passport. Applied a couple of weeks later than Ellie and I, due to not having a birth certificate yet. Requested (and paid royally for) "expedited service" since window to travel date was smaller. Received passport weeks ago, although not within "2 weeks" promised with expedited service.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Chocolate Eval

I've never been a chocolate lover. Quite the opposite, in fact. As a child, I sucked my thumb: my right thumb, which I called my vanilla thumb. Sucking my left thumb felt as weird as sucking someone else's thumb, and I called it my chocolate thumb to mark the difference between preferred and non-preferred. I've been known to pass up dessert if chocolate was the only option available.

Then I got pregnant with Ada. I think that Ada is going to be a chocoholic, if the way I felt during my pregnancy - which just happened to span the winter holiday gorging season - is any indication.

I thought that, perhaps, I'd go back to normal after she was born, but apparently this is the new normal. Oh, how fortunate for all those lonely pants languishing in a "too big" box down in the basement.

My new drink at Starbucks is hot chocolate, and oh, is it delightful. In fact, I think that all brands of hot chocolate are quite delightful, though some versions are better than others. Land o' Lakes can't make a bad flavor, but the Swiss Miss Diet packets are less fun than drinking plain hot water. A lot less fun.

As for actual blocks of delicious chocolate, here is a meltdown of my favorites and not-so-favorites:
  • Frango, all varieties: quite good
  • Hershey's, without toffee: quite decent
  • Nestle: aren't we supposed to be boycotting them or something?
  • Ghirardelli: I know that I'm supposed to love this, but it tastes like chocolate-flavored wax to me
  • Godiva: divine, indeed!
What kind of chocolate do you like best?

Friday, June 01, 2007

I Don't Get Enough Sleep

My day can be summed up like this:
Today was the first day of Ellie's summer vacation from preschool, and it rained. Meanwhile, she greatly improved her success rate at manipulating interior doorknobs.

On a related note, Ada didn't get much of a nap this afternoon.

More happily, our new stroller came yesterday, and the girls both like it very much. Ellie can climb in and out on her own, which I love (as does she). My main complaint is that the cup/snack holders are wide and shallow, so they don't hold a cup very effectively. The main functional issue at this point is that Ada seems to prefer her hood pulled over her, reducing glare. Ellie prefers Ada's hood to be pushed back, so that she can see her little sister better. So far, I'm happy with our choice. In two trips around the block, I had no significant problems. Paul thinks it could be a little taller (he's 6'4") but wasn't bent over uncomfortably for his trip around the block.

I've invited our new minister and his family over for dinner on Monday evening. That feels like a scarily grown-up thing to do. And it turns out that he's a gourmet chef, primarily with Italian dishes. So I decided to cook a Thai meal. My cooking confidence took a big hit this evening when, for the first time ever, my Béchamel totally failed during a routine dinner prep. I didn't even think that was possible. Now I'm going to attempt something much more complicated, and for company.

Happy weekend!