Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Abby: We do Love our Leap Year Baby

There’s nothing like having a child with a birthday on February 29th.  In some ways it’s wonderful – three out of four years, you get two days to celebrate (February 28th and March 1st).  It’s the consolation you earn for only having a “real birthday” as often as the world hosts the Olympics. 

Still, it’s not easy explaining to a little girl that she doesn’t get a birthday for three more years.  Such is the plight of the Leap Year Baby.

Of course, we didn’t plan on having our daughter on Leap Year.  My wife Tammy and I did everything we could to safeguard against it. 

Abby was due on March 7, safely past the phantom 29th by a full seven days.  But on February 28 we found ourselves at St. Vincent’s Hospital with contractions.  

The doctor was convinced these were false labor pains, and sent us home.  But my wife knew something wasn’t right.  She made the leap, and called to schedule a C-section for the very next day: the famed, feared and fleeting February 29. 

Thank God for a mom’s intuition. The umbilical cord was wrapped around Abby’s neck.  If it weren’t for the C-section – if my wife had proceeded with natural labor – the cord would have tightened around Abby’s neck.  And most likely we would not be celebrating her 12th birthday today.

We’re gonna celebrate big too.  A slumber party with 10 pre-teen girls is not for the weak or the weary.  Not that anybody will be getting any sleep at our house.  There’ll be pizza, though, a scavenger hunt, cake, ice cream and lots of giggling.  I might get in trouble for saying it, but I’m hoping we make it through the 16-hour event without too much “girl drama.” 

Secretly, however, I enjoy every minute of helping my daughter celebrate her 12th birthday, making all the arrangements, sending out her birthday party invitations.  Twelve years old is pretty big – it’s her last party before becoming a teenager.  It hasn’t been easy for her, being born on Leap Year.  When she was very young, she endured the teasing of other children, but now she is starting to embrace the idea of having a “special birthday.” (Well, some would say milking the birthday, ha ha.) 

With all this being said, I need to mention the Fox News story, especially since my family won’t let me live it down.  

Abby was the first baby born on Leap Year’s Day, 2000, in Birmingham. When they approached me about doing an interview, it really seemed like a good idea.  I didn’t make it on the newscast, but Abby and my wife – three hours out of surgery – did.  She has never completely forgiven me for how she looked on TV, when the cameras came into the hospital room with no warning.  It’s the Leap Year story we laugh about every year.  I’m so glad she has a sense of humor.

Most of all, on whatever day we celebrate Abby’s birthday, we’re incredibly thankful for God’s gift of a lovely daughter, and the intuition He gave my wife that preceded her safe delivery into the world.  He has made this special Leap Year birthday and all its fanfare possible for our beloved birthday girl.  Happy Birthday, Abby!

~ By Lee Moore

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Très bien, New Orleans! Good times are rolling for Mardi Gras

New Orleans. There’s no city quite like it. The sights, the sounds, and yes, even the smells make this city a one-of-a-kind experience.

Over the years, I’ve adopted this city as my home away from home. Near monthly road trips keep me up on the local events and the latest trip for our kick-off to Mardi Gras.

This year Krewe du Vieux was an especially good time. Krewe du Vieux is one of the earliest parades on the New Orleans Carnival calendar, and is noted for wild satirical and adult themes, as well as for showcasing some of the best brass and jazz bands in the Big Easy. It’s not for the faint of heart, though. Some of the floats even made me blush. But it’s all in good fun.

If parades are not your thing, there’s still all the food, history, architecture, music, art, and so much more. Take a guided tour on a horse-drawn carriage and learn a bit about the Big Easy that you didn’t know. 

But the best way to see New Orleans is to just walk through the city, talking to the locals. And they will talk. They love to share stories of their lives. What they’ve lost; what they’ve gained. We met several people who lost everything in Katrina, only to plant their roots right back where they were. It was amazing to see the devastation from the hurricane, which left nothing but the front porch steps of some houses, and then see ground-breaking on new construction on that same plot of land.

Life finds a way.

Today is Mardi Gras, and even now Cajuns, Catholics and Carnival enthusiasts are filling the streets of Nawlins with purple, green and gold revelry. I can’t be there for today‘s festivities, but our office really enjoyed the King Cake I brought back in honor of this grand holiday. And to you, mes amis, I wish you a happy Mardi Gras. I hope you've received many holiday party invitations to celebrate Fat Tuesday in grand style. In the meantime, please enjoy my holiday photo card du jour (attractive people pictured at right), a Mardi Gras lagniappe just for reading my blog.

I love everything that is New Orleans. Maybe it’s just more laid-back. Or perhaps I’m more laid-back when I’m there, ambling along Jackson Square, or feasting on beignets at Café du Monde. New Orleans is the fleur de lis, the crème de la crème, the city that invites us to “laissez les bons temps rouler.” It’s a wonderful host, and I’m forever in love with its graciousness and Southern extravagance.

Whatever holiday or whimsical reason I can find, I count down the days until my next trip, which is right around the corner. St. Patrick’s Day. Another parade. Another reason to celebrate. 

Look for me! I’ll be the one in green.

~ By Fred "'Ello Gov-na" Krischke

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day ~ Kisses and candy are good, but fake luggage is hard to beat

Another 365 days have passed, and the Holiday of Love is upon us once again. It’s Valentine’s Day – a date which, depending on the gender and relationship predicament of the person you ask, is generally nestled somewhere betwixt beloved and bedreaded.

Among our office pool, we’ve been sharing the highs and (some abysmal) lows of our dating adventures. Yes, some of our dates were a lot more tragedy than comedy, but even the sad ones get funny as the years go by. I don’t mean the truly tragic, mind you – I mean those moments of dating just traumatic enough to make us look really pathetic, or in a moment of tender mercy, wreak havoc on someone else’s ego.

I’ve had plenty of these moments myself. In high school my date nights always had a back-up plan. If the guy didn’t show up, I’d move on to Plan B. Plan B and I went out a lot.

For high-action (mis)adventure, however, consider the case of my friend “Emily.” Her date showed up in a stolen car. I don’t think they even got dinner before he landed in the pokey.

Actually I’ve heard several woeful date stories with a vehicle antagonist. Another friend – “Amy” – went out with a guy whose vehicle was in such a dilapidated state, the passenger seat actually rusted through and dumped her in the floorboard. That was right before the motor blew up and the tow truck hauled the rubbish away.

One of my favorite awkward moments comes from a coworker recently out of a seven-year relationship, only to be set up on a blind date with the very same person. It didn’t have the happy “Pina Colada Song” ending, though. I think there was profanity.

Most of the guys I’ve interviewed have been relatively mum on the subject of their bad date experiences, probably out of their own miserable guilt. Kudos to the one guy honest enough to tell me I’d probably get some good stories from the women he’d been out with, but strangely, he didn’t offer to put me in touch with any of them.

I hate to say it, but girls are bad too. Once we ran into my date’s ex-girlfriend at dinner. She sat her brazen self right down at our table; our cozy venue made the perfect setting to tell me details from their romantic escapades. But as low-rent as she was, she had nuttin’ on the girl who gave my boyfriend a hickey while I was looking the other way.

Of all my own personal dating mishaps, there’s one that really stands out. It’s a real crowd favorite, and I enjoy telling it at parties when I have nothing else to talk about. It loosens people up, and makes them feel better about themselves.

It goes like this. A few years ago I was out with a guy who traveled a lot for his job. The company was out of Chicago, so I didn’t question it when he got a call from his superiors to take the next plane out. He packed his bags; I dropped him off at the airport and wished him a safe flight.

Only later did I find out this guy didn’t fly to Chicago. He didn’t fly anywhere. I’d taken him to the airport to meet another girl he had flying in for the weekend!!! It was an evil scheme, dang it, but brilliant. It was the perfect plot to get rid of one girl, and get a ride to the airport to get another one. The man packed fake luggage. That’s hard to beat.

How to wake her up on the WRONG side of the bed
It might be a little late for Valentine’s Day shopping today, but I’ll share some good advice I read yesterday for you last-minute guys. Avoid any gift with an electrical cord. It’s a valuable lesson. Women want ro-mance, not appli-ance. It’s better to learn this before making a major milestone birthday blunder or other holiday gift-giving gaffe. (Just ask my ex.) You can’t go wrong with a simple, sincere holiday card, or even better, make your own Valentine photo greeting card.

We’ve all got some cringe-worthy moments in our dating history. But it’s Valentine’s Day, and we’re here to celebrate love in all its wonderful, imperfect forms. Real love, without motive, always makes the world better. If we keep on sending it, it’ll come back to find us. This year, Plan A is to make someone else’s Valentine’s Day special, and I love it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Crinkled Friends!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 fabulous things to do while they're napping

Naptime. . . Ahhh, for the parents of little ones, this means peace and quiet for a couple of wonderful hours in the middle of the day. As parents, our day starts out hectic and is promptly filled with activities to entertain and/or educate the kiddos, feed them, potty them, and run them ragged enough to go to sleep.

But there is this blissful, two-hour span of quiet just after lunch, smack-dab in the middle of the day, that is our time – mom's and dad's time – to do whatever it is WE want to do. That time is so precious, I thought I'd share some creative ways to spend it to your greatest advantage:

1) Do some "mental" chores
During the kids' waking hours, they demand our attention. Sometimes we can fit in a short, active chore here and there, and if we are really lucky, we can get the kids to help us with chores like putting sheets on the bed, de-pooping the backyard (mine love that one), or raking up leaves. These are chores that are active and need little direction for them to perform the way you need them to, so you don't have to go behind them and do them again.

Anyway, for all the chores you just can't do with the kids – balancing the bank account, analyzing the monthly bill situation, making the grocery list – there's no time like naptime. These chores take concentration, real brain power to complete. Get them done and you'll feel like a real adult for however long they take you to complete.

2) Chill out
What is that? Relax! It's good to just do nothing. And that is so hard to do, because the entire time you're thinking, "There are so many things I need to be doing." But sometimes it's good just to power down and not do a thing.

3) Take a nap
You run yourself ragged, why not take a nap yourself? Curl up with your little kiddo and have snuggle time with them, or just sack out on the couch for those two magical hours. Not a bad idea, huh?

4) Hang out with a friend
There are few times we are able to chill out with a friend. Maybe you could invite a buddy over and play catch up with them during those naptime hours. If it's a pretty day, you two could sit on the porch and talk community or celebrity gossip, come up with amazing solutions to family problems or just have a cup of coffee with some cake. Ahhhh, that sounds awesome!

5) Watch a movie
There are just some movies that are not appropriate for our little ones. Take this time to curl up on the couch and watch a grown-up flick. Movies not your thing? Then watch some HGTV and get inspired to redecorate a room or reorganize a closet. Which leads me to the next idea . . .

6) Do a small project
There are so many house projects that need to be done. Plan ahead and make sure you have all your supplies (if any are needed) and do a project you can complete in two hours and that is somewhat quiet. Hammering nails into the wall, for example, is never quiet, so don't plan to hang pictures on the wall. But you could frame-up some photos or artwork to hang later! Clean out a totally unorganized closet, vacuum (as long as you keep it on, it's great white noise for the kiddos), paint a wall or a room (my personal favorite), etc.

7) Make a photo album
We have pictures, a ton of them. Take this time to make a photo album. It doesn't have to be extravagant. Simply getting the photos printed and put into a standard photo album is hard enough. But if you have a creative, craft-loving bone in your body, naptime is a perfect opportunity to decorate and enhance your photos. This kind of project is ongoing, because we have new photos and stories to add all the time. Scrapbooking requires a dedicated area where you can easily get to all your supplies, and not have to put them away every time you have to move on to something else.
8) Organize upcoming events
We all have obligations that require our attendance, whether it be a birthday party, PTA meeting, play date, soccer practice or game, or even a long-awaited date with your "squeeze." This is a good time to make sure your calendar, digital or physical, is up-to-date with events and reminders.

I always stick reminders like birthday party invitations and school function fliers on the fridge. You can kill two birds with one stone and clean off that fridge when you update your calendar. But then again, I like my crazy-looking fridge. I have a magnetic photo card on my fridge from four years ago still clinging to the door. Some reminders I just can't seem to part with. Oh well, for the rest of the clutter, it can be kept neatly on the calendar where it should be.

9) Yard work
On a beautiful day, why stay inside? If you enjoy yard work, this is a perfect opportunity to pull weeds, plant new flowers, trim shrubs (no power tools unless you're on the opposite end of the house from the kids), rake leaves, mow the lawn, pull ivy off the house. Wow, the endless possibilities of yard work!

To have a beautiful house, you need to keep the yard clean. Yard work is great for mental and emotional wellness, not to mention the physical benefits. If you're mad, yard work can be soothing; if you're sad, it can be uplifting; if you're happy, well then, it's just fun. If you don't like yard work, then leave this chore to your "squeeze."

10) Read a book
Quiet time for a couple of hours is the best opportunity to read a book, next to bedtime reading. If you've got a good novel, everyday reading is a pleasant way to enjoy the kids' naptime. It's an escape from the ordinary, a way to visit another time, place, or be another person (living vicariously through the characters).

Naptime is one of the things we parents look forward to when the kids wake us up too early in the morning. Use that time wisely. Once the kids grow up, that time is no longer reserved. But for now, naptime is your special time to do with as you please.