Monday, August 25, 2014

Hike to Heather Lake

With earnings season, teaching yoga at three studios and a new job (more on that later), my days off have been few and far between this summer.

August 24th is a big day here. For reasons that perplex, both of our respective ex-spouses share this birthday. So 8/24 is "happy ex-spouse birthday day" ... and our cat Fergus and poodle Charley were born on 8/24. I realized that I had zero work scheduled for Sunday or Monday (or Tuesday for that matter ... three consecutive days off, oh!, the possibilities!).

I hopped on to the Washington Trail Finder and decided that Heather Lake met all our criteria: less than 2-hour drive, less than 5 miles, rated as kid friendly.

Perhaps the newly-legal marijuana factored into the "kid friendly" reviews ... but, man!, this was one tough hike.

The first 100 feet were great and easy and we're like, yah, we are Rainier hikers, we got this.

In fact, I was filling chill enough to stop during the easy part of the trail and photograph the happy family. This is pre-waterfall, pre-mud, pre-river and (importantly) pre-meltdown.

Then the remaining 1.95 miles was a series of gnarled tree roots, loose unstable boulders or water-slick granite.  Like this little stretch.

James and I are both super proud of our little mountain goats. They did great despite the challenges and the second we got to the top and found the lake, oh!, what a view. Both girls scrambled up to the stop of a boulder to get a better view of the ice blue (and icy!) lake.

One teeny tiny meltdown over which was a 'nicer' boulder on which to dine ... and we settled on this spot. All I'm thinking here is "damn, one energy bar and bottle of water per person and one pound of trail mix ... I totally underpacked!"

And about ten minutes after this idyllic photo was taken, a thunderstorm blew in and it poured rain for at least 30 minutes ... and then hailed. We were oh-so happy to see our car and I was quick to point out how lucky our children were that I had packed dry clothes for them (but not the big people ... but the big people had heated seats for the way home). And a Family First: first drive through ... at a Starbucks. Hot cocoa for the two brave girls in the back, and yes!, of course we need whip cream on top.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Snowflake Hotel: Party On, Wayne

Who ya gonna call when your frozen snowbabies are staying in a hotel that just doubled its rates?

Well, I started with the FDA. They oversee a vast majority of the IVF process and, if I recall correctly, about $4,000 (mas or menos) of our IVF bill was paying fees to the FDA for their oversight.

The FDA wrote back fairly quickly and said that, yes, while they oversee a lot ... they have nothing to do with pricing. They recommended I contact the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The ASRM members are doctors, os the odds of a group of doctors taking the side of a patient would be teensy. Say, about the size of a six-day old blastocyst.

I then contacted the state attorney general who replied about two days later saying that they would get in touch with the clinic on my behalf to investigate the pricing change.  And, voila!, I received an apology from the clinic and the lovely offer of another year at the Snowflake Hotel at our prior low low price of $360 for the year. Phew! This gives us some breathing ... I mean, I can barely pick out a new chair for our living room in 100 days, how in god's name could I find a new womb with a view for the snowflakes in 90 days?

If it seems a little windy up on our hill in Bellevue, that's us exhaling enormous sighs of relief. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Snowflake Hotel: Do You Guys Do Groupons?

For me, writing feels like a train station. All these cars line up in my head – both word by word and idea by idea and when the tracks are clear (e.g., no little people stealing sharpies and hiding my bras), then the trains just slide off the tracks onto the keyboard and it is easy. Really easy. 

Every now and then, though, a big giant locomotive stomps his way, a la Godzilla, into the front of the queue and I wrestle. No, it isn’t time for you, stomp to the back of the line. Put that cute weird-student-stories train down!  Quit huffing and puffing, I can’t see beyond you. I don’t want to write about you, you aren’t the boss of me.  I’m in charge. 

But like the rest of the human race, I’m in charge of very little, including, apparently, the billing practices of in vitro clinics. Specifically, the storage fees for my frozen children. 

Oh! The horrors of modern motherhood. We have two embryos in storage. Six days old, which is a feat in and of itself. Prior to creating them, I made certain I had done my homework. I learned that freezing in liquid nitrogen, flash freezing, is the preferred way to go for little tiny people. Heck, Whole Foods flash-freezes their salmon, so if it is good enough for them … 

For the past six years, we get an annual bill for the little snowflakes. (kidcicles, snowbabies, souls on ice … new technology yields new terminology; snowflakes seems the least cheeky.)  The bill has always been $360 for one year’s stay at the liquid nitrogen hotel. This year’s bill? $750. That’s a 108% increase. The $360 we plan for when we budget our HSA set aside money ... so maybe if the Snowflake Hotel had been moral and told us of this price "change" last year, we could have planned better. 

With the invoice, you get four choices every year: 
1. pay the bill, ensure your children stay deliciously frozen for another 365. 
2. donate them to science 
3. discard them 
4. donate them to another fertility-challenged couple 

(Charlotte: Mommy, can we watch one more Magic School Bus? It is the third one, but our last one we promise. TLC: Sure, mommy needs more time to write about your frozen siblings.

(p.s. I love the Magic School Bus, BTW ... educational and Lily Tomlin is the voice of the bus driver.) 

James and I are on the same page: option #4 is the best choice. I pushed the issue to the front burner last year when I felt like, damn, our snowflakes have already run up a $2100 hotel bill over the past six years, maybe the thawed children need that money added to their college fund. (Or, better yet, shoe fund.) I approached two friends, two people I had spent maybe a year or more eyeing as good candidates … only to have both say “no thank you.” Which is fine, really it is, it isn’t like I asked them to water my plants or take my tires in for rotation. 

Who ya gonna call? I mean, seriously, it feels as though someone has grabbed my kids and are holding them hostage, gun to the head. If they were real, non-frozen children, then 9-1-1 would be a good place to start.  If we were under a tsunami alert and they decided to double their fees, then it would clearly be a case of price gouging. Is it hoarding, perhaps? Obtaining a scarce resource (children are quite scarce to those of us that are barren) and holding on to the resource so they can be sold to customers for profit? Maybe. 

Whatever you name it, it is really heartbreakingly ugly. 

B&C... five days old
This is their petri dish mugshot, immediately prior to installation 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cleaning Suggestion From Bernadette

They say that apples don't fall far from the tree, but when it comes to house tidiness this little apple flung itself from the tree into the next orchard.

Growing up, we had an immaculate house and to this day, my parents have a home that is both glistening and stylish. I often think Pottery Barn should hire my mum to improve their stagings. They did have someone help plan out bookshelves and I think my mum does have a cleaner 2 x month. In other words, they aren't supping juleps while the Downton Abbey staff does the heavy lifting.

(Though as a side note, when she was looking for a cleaner, she actually hid dirt under the corner of a rug as part of the job interview.)

In my defense, I am working 35 hours a week and have little twinados dervishing from room to room constantly. Whenever I mewl about how much I wished I had more time to have a cleaner home, James reminds me that our 60+-year old home isn't exactly air tight, that dirt has many, many entry points. Not to mention the in-out shenanigans of Gigi, Charley, Fergus and Coco.

Since we visited my parents over the holidays, Bernadette keeps mentioning the tidiness of grandma's house.

"That was so nice, I wish we had a clean house like Grandma Ruthie."

"Remember, peanut, Grandma Ruthie doesn't store cupcake liners and peach pits under the coffee table."

I made a cleaning schedule and told the girls if we work at it just  30  75 210 minutes every day, we could have a clean house.

"Can't we clean later? It's sunny outside and I have my new bee bubble blower."

"Grandma Ruthie cleans on sunny days. Also, I'm pretty sure Grandma Ruthie doesn't put used kleenexes on the bookshelves and blueberries on the windowsills."

We've been power cleaning one room per day. Yesterday, Bernadette said to me "Maybe the person that gave the house to Grandma Ruthie told her how to do it and that's why her house is clean."

Sure, we'll go with that.


Monday, June 2, 2014

... we interrut this blog for breaking news ... about last week

I don't know why I still have a bee in my bonnet about last week's horrific Biden-caused traffic situation.

Here's the scenario: we are tired from a good swim at the YMCA, it is about 2.30 and I convinced the girls that if we cut the swim short, we could stop by Target to buy some nose clips for our next swim. This is about a 7-minute detour flying solo and about a 47-minute with twins in tow. We are a little peckish but decided we'd suffer through the hunger pangs knowing that nose clips were in our near future.

I turned the corner to head towards Target and there were no cars moving. Maybe one car per light. It took 45 minutes to move 0.20 of a mile. I'll admit, I'm freaked as I need to be 22 miles north at my job in about 2 hours and, mathematically, it is not looking good.

When I final wiggle into a turn-around spot, to just abandon ship to head home, I'm two cars behind the turning point. And car #1 decides that, in the midst of epic traffic, that she wants to turn left across six lanes of stopped traffic. After 12 minutes, I'm so out of my mind that I get out of my car. I'm either going to convince her to turn right and move on with her life or I'm going to stand in the middle of the six lanes and stop traffic so she can move.  So I can move.

Also, I had honked angrily and the guy in front of me took in personally, so I talked with him first and said "look, that honk was totally aimed at her, and not you." Which he go and he laughed and said "I think she's lost her mind, this is insane." And right as I'm about to approach the car, the seas parted and she drove off and then I think someone honked at me because now my car is not moving because I had left my car to talk the car that wasn't moving.

My peace was totally, completely stolen. I'm so out of my head that A. I forget I told me sitter to come early and B. I forget to go to yoga which is why, C. I had asked her to come early in the first place.

Then I keep hearing "Oh, yeah, it was great Biden was in town." WTF? Seriously. Turns out that our major east-west thoroughfare and bridge was CLOSED for his visit. What the hell? Someone had heard he wanted to tour an average neighborhood. Fine. Do it on your own dime.

Anyway, after making a list of days to vacuum and realizing that a list is not going to be any sort of cure all, I decided to ignore housekeeping altogether and sat down to write to our darling, wandering VP to find out what the hell was so important about Bellevue that entire highways were closed. (Did I mention? There was no warning about this visit. None. I mean, I read Huffingon Post every day and nada.) 


Dear Vice President Biden:

Hello there. I believe you made a visit to Bellevue, Washington last week -- 29 May 2014. Our major east-west bridge, I-90 was closed for a substantial amount of time and I was stuck in traffic for over an hour. With twins. Who were hungry. And mad that we couldn't buy nose clips for swimming lessons.  Someone said you stopped at Target and someone else said you wanted to visit and walk around a neighborhood.

Anyhoo, thousands of local residents were trapped in horrific standstill traffic for hours and it would be nice to know:

A. really? don't they have a Target near the White House?

B. seriously? you don't have neighborhood with sidewalks on the east coast?  haven't you used google maps and the little yellow fellow? that would be a great, cost-efficient and fossil-fuel friendly way to visiting a 'hood w/out upending all the WhoVille residents trying to get to their WhovilleJobs.

C. why? why the splashy and yet stealth entrance? Couldn't you have just taken a limo from SeaTac without all the hoopla and disruption to those of us earning a living that pays the taxes that pays your salary?  Why weren't we forewarned of your arrival?

I look forward to getting some clarity about your visit to my current hometown.


Tracey L Croisier

p.s. I'm a fellow Pennsylvanian by birth ... my parents both come from the Clarion area and I was born in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Relax Your (Damn) Toes [weird yoga student story #2]

After about year of teaching yoga, it was easy to see that about 95% of student issues were related to the environment. The room was too hot. The room was too cold. The drunk guy couldn’t stay on his mat. The person on the purple mat smelled bad. The man in the corner looked pervy. The woman in the zebra pants was hogging the space heater. 

I think Bikram Yoga appeals to the Type A folks more than regular yoga, and so it was fairly easy to smile and Namaste my way out of it. 

That is, until Big Guy.  Big Guy was physically gi-normous. He was a former ball player. No, I do not know which team or which sport. I only know that the sport involved a spherical object because I overhead people saying "Is that ___? Man, he was a helluva ball player." Big Guy was probably close to 7 feet tall, had many scars and weighed at least 350 lbs. He had been recently diagnosed with diabetes and his doctor told to drop the weight. When he heard that Bikram Yoga would burn off at least 700 calories, he decided he’d come twice a day to up the ante. 

As much as I’m a fan of doubles and as much as I’m a fan of committing to a weight loss plan, Big Guy was a very challenging student. For starters, since he was (allegedly) some kind of fallen sports hero, people fawned all over him. Since he was doing doubles, he seemed to think this gave him a special get-out-of-jail free card, a pass on socially acceptable yoga etiquette. 

His sins? Well, his biggest sin came at the end of class. He refused to do a final savasana ... and to protest that we taught such a thing, he'd stand up and shake his mat vigorously, much the same way you shake sand from your beach blanket. Only instead of sand, he was flinging his sweat everywhere

Smaller sins were in the category of being oppositionally defiant. For example, when instructed to “lock the knee,” he’d bend it. When advised to “focus, meditate,” he’d hop. And when told to “exhale,” he held his breath. 

I kid you not, he’d take in this room-clearing snork of fresh oxygen and then on the exhale, he’d seal his lips shut and inflate his cheeks outward, like a puffer fish. A really big, sweaty puffer. 

About a month into this, I approached him after class. 

TLC: Just curious, do you have a hearing problem? 

BG: No.  Why? 

TLC: I noticed on the exhale, that, you, um … aren’t exhaling. Your cheeks puff out actually. 

BG: Yep. 

TLC: I’m a new teacher, it is possible I’m not instructing this correct. When you exhale, you push your chin back and ideally your mouth is wide open, like a yawn. 

His brow furrows, his nostrils flare and I think he could snap my neck like a twig with one of his big paws. 

BG: You said when I inhale I’m breathing in energy and life force, right? 

TLC: Yes. 

BG: I  need all I can get. If I exhale, I’d blow it all out. And I ain’t sharin’ my life force with anyone else here. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What To Do When Baby Flings Poo

1. Wrap duct tape around the top of the diaper, being careful to bring the ends of the tape together in the back of the diaper. 

2. Buy footy pajamas, cut off feet, duct tape the top of the zipper. Summer time? Cut off the arms and shorten the leg, you’ll still have a diaper containment system. 

3. Do not buy the crib tent, not even a black market one. Those people at the Tots In Mind company should be taken out and … have poo flung at them. Such a great idea they had and such amazingly crappy construction. Thankfully we didn’t suffer a brain injury though, lol, I’m sure the tailor that kept repairing it thought I had some thinking problems. Instead, get a PeaPod Plus mini travel bed / tent. Also works great on camping for parents who are not dirt-, bear- and insect-intolerant. 

Look closely. Lean in a bit more. That is what it looks like when a child escapes from the defective crib tent only to get stuck in between the crib and the tent. 

4. Poo flingers are often “rewarded” with 1-on-1 parent time, warm baths and clean sheets. In a toddler brain, this is their version of room service delivering eggs benedict and mimosas. You are not running the Four Seasons. Inform them that the Mommy Handbook says only cold water rinses off poo, make no eye contact when icing down the child, no cuddling, and just put a towel on top of the sheets. They will help you change the sheets in the morning.

5. Purchase and install a video monitor… and be certain the video monitor has an intercom system. Catch them in the act and give them clear, precise instructions on what to do. E.g., “Stop taking off your jammies. Bad Baby!”  

6. Whenever said child wakes up with diaper still on, be sure to reward with a chocolate bon bon. This is especially effective in twin households, as there’s usually one good twin that gets the reward. 

Snaps! to triplet mom. I wish I could remember her name, this lovely triplet mom. She had boys who were uber-naughty and actually helped each other strip nakenake to engage in multi-player extreme poo flinging championships.