Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Climate Controlled

I've come to realize that the people of the Northwest must be more acclimated to dealing with the heat than myself, a desert dweller. These barbarians have no air conditioning, as a general rule. In Phoenix I spend my summers in the comforts of my seventy-eight degree home. Here in Portland I am roasting in our apartment with the comforts of a small fan blowing around warm air. If the US were a human, I would be found nestled in its inner thighs.

Everyone says, "Well, we don't need air conditioning because it's not hot here for very long?" Define "very long." Because I've been here for three weeks with a sweaty midriff the entire time. Who do they think they're fooling? Certainly not the bacteria in their own sweaty pits.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


For lack of time to write anything and my camera refusing to cooperate with my computer, here's a little pic of the girls in Portland. Granted it could be anywhere on any couch, but take my word. Jamie's phone seems to be the only successful device for sharing photos at this time. This causes me frustration and middle-of-the-night troubleshooting thoughts

Little Grubs

Monday, July 13, 2009

I've Taken to Calling Her Roni

She has many nicknames, to be sure, such is the way in the Hanson house. This happy little photo was taken before the witching hour overtook our entire, especially small while we're in Portland, household. Shortly after all the smiles we descended into an emotional and behavioral mire that required my (failed) attempts at restraint. Instead, I turned Stella over to the television and put Gianna to bed early. It was nice to think back on this photo and "cling to the good" as St. Thomas Aquinas, and my husband, frequently remind me.

Happy Roni

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Law School Gauntlet

I recently settled my mind on the difficult thing about being married to a law student: the stakes are high. It's a huge investment of time, money and un quantifiable resources and the outcome is an unknown--as in all investments. You could end up in the top of your class or the bottom. Thankfully, for Jamie thus far, he has ended up in the top twenty percent of his first year class. This is an achievement for someone who has/had a pregnant wife and two/three daughters at the time.

In law school everything is graded on a curve. So your ability to succeed is literally tied to that of the best in your class. If you're lucky you're the best in a class on dopes. I told Jamie he should get his class ranking--30--printed on a t-shirt and wear it to a class and his response was, "No. There'd be 29 other people who could laugh at me."

I was thinking of all this last night as the girls and I embarked on our nightly stroll. I had a coffee and the girls were enjoying their Trader Joe's cookies that I parcel out at that time. I was thinking about what a treat it was to be out and about but how dismal my spirits were in contrast. It's always hard when you're somewhere new, relatively alone yet surrounded by people. I was missing the friends I take for granted in Phoenix. I was missing my little routines (surely thought of as ruts when I'm at home). I was just generally feeling sorry for myself. Such is the human condition, no? I'm strolling down a beautiful green park, outside no less (Phoenicians understand this July luxury), and taking in all the green and the late day sun filtering through the trees and I was all woe-is-me.

If I had seen a picture of that park in a book at home in Phoenix I would think, "If only I were there, life would be ideal, perfect, enjoyable. I would be able to seize the joy of life with my brood of children and we would be laughing together and stroking each others' hair in glee. We would partake of the best of ice cream and coffee..." Instead I was wishing my husband was with us and thinking, "Well when law school is over I'm going to buy myself a really expensive _______." Expensive what? I don't know. I couldn't even think of something that I want that badly that I couldn't get today. I just have this idea that when law school is over the Golden Days will commense.

Do I not realize that I am living them right now?

Yes, I do realize it, but I need constant reminding. Constant.

Isn't that the way?

I have a friend whose husband is in the midst of studying for the Bar exam. And she realizes, too, the faulty thinking that whatever is wrong with life will cease to be wrong "once the Bar exam is over."

Makes me glad I'm not the only feeble-minded little human muddling through life here on this beautiful but sometimes frustrating planet.

File this one under Things I Think About Way Too Much While My Small Children Grow Up Before My Very Eyes.

Monday, July 06, 2009

It Only Takes a Week

I always maintain that vacation with small children needs to be longer than a week. I know that's not possible for everyone, or even most, but thankfully the last few years of our school schedule have afforded us this luxury. I really feel like it takes a while to settle in to your new surroundings enough so that ANYONE has a good time.

That said, we've been here a week and we've hit our stride.

Jamie has come up with pithy statements (his description) to help me get through the long, consecutive string of nights where he is absent. This week it's five night, next week only three. Here's his advice, "Rely on the reliable."

He conjured this one up while I was coming to pieces last night trying to deal with all three on my own. It's a perfect storm of issues that makes nighttime difficult:

It's light out until past 10.
Every entertainment device is within Gianna's reach and button-pushing capabilities.
The cable doesn't work.
The computer, which has access to streaming Netflix videos, has way too many tempting buttons.
The baby is confused.
The mother is confused.
The confused mother starts to think about all her pillows at home.
The middle child starts, literally and figuratively, pushing buttons.
The oldest child screams and scratches the middle child.
We are in a small apartment and I am overly sensitive to bothering the neighbors.
Someone nearby has a baby that I can hear cry through our windown and I'm always walking our creaky hallways to go back a check the status of my baby.
Ad nauseum.

So, "Rely on the reliable." Surprisingly this makes sense. This means that I take the children out every night after Jamie leaves. We go to the park. We stay out way past our Phoenix bedtimes or even our Phoenix be-at-home times. I get myself a drink at a coffee shop. I bring cookies and hand them out to the girls. We go home and take baths. We make sure Gianna is good and tired out, stick a Nuk in her mouth, put on a video for Stella and go lay down with Gianna.

One kid down.

The baby gets nursed and wrapped really tight and put in her little bed. Usually she lays back there and grunts and squirms for about forty-five minutes before she goes to sleep.

Two kids down.

Stella's video is over and she brushes those teeth and hops into bed sans pajamas (because it's been that hot here) and her and I go to sleep.

Three kids down.

Confused mother is down.

It's a little dance that I'm perfecting. And all last week it caused me major stress. Now I have embraced it and I'm no longer dreading Jamie's departure.

It's like a friend of mine said to me after I told her that recuperating from a c-section is nothing compared to mastitis with a three week old:
That which doesn't kill us makes everything else bearable in comparison.

That is to say that all my adjustment here prepared me for the public transit kerfuffle I experienced today with all three kids, a double stroller and little ol' me. That's a story for another day, though.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Day Two Tizzy

Here are some other things about new city experiences:

At night Stella tells me, "I can't wait to go back to Phoenix." She doesn't say it in a sad, longing way, just matter-of-fact.

I can't wait to get back to all my pillows in Phoenix. How many pillows do you have on your bed? Do you take them for granted? Think about those sweet pillows right now. Give them a hug next time you see them. We have four paltry pillows here and four heads. Jamie and I have already tried to swindle our children out of their pillows. They're not buying it. We are on the lookout for pillow substitutes. It makes you look at all the soft things in your environment diferently. "Would that stack of towels make a good pillow if I stuffed them in a pillow case? What about that stack of t-shirts...?"

We need the pillows so we can get good rest because we walk all day. We've had to significantly increase our calorie intake. We walk all the time and are, therefore, ravenous. I am a breastfeeding mother of three who walks, pushes a stroller and carries a wee babe strapped to my chest--I cannot get enough to eat. Come and take me out to dinner. Actually, scratch that. Come and cook me a tasty meal. Unless you've had a prior good experience at a restaurant, I'm not into wasting calories on slop.

We at a the worst restaurant the other night because we didn't have our act together yet. Tonight we ate it and I praised the kitchen St. Pasqual because it was tasty. It was not, as Jamie described our Asian dumpling meal, "doughy and sweet." Doughy and sweet does not tide one over for intense walking.

We went to the Farmer's Market that's about two minutes from our building. It was awesome. It make this whole trip worthwhile. There's another one on Saturday. Every Saturday and Wednesday will find us eating strawberries at the Farmer's Market.

I would like to post some photos, but by the time I get everyone to bed I can barely make myself record these thoughts.

For example, I just remebered that I wanted to note the new-city blues that I go through whenever I go on vacation. No matter how much I look forward to things I spend the first few days adjusting and getting over enormous fears and anxieties about EVERYTHING. You name it and I've feared it the last few days. I don't realize what a creature of habit I am until I'm thrown into an adjustment like this. It's good for me though, because just when I'm feeling most out of sorts and I want to call someone and feel sorry for myself, I remember to pray. "Pray to Jesus," says a voice in my head. It'a a good reminder that He is there to receive all those anxieties. Today was a beautiful day and I was contemplating my own mortality.

I'm such a downer that way.