Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Human Head Weighs 8 Pounds!

Is this the cutest 13-month old with glasses you've ever seen?

A couple weeks ago, we had a check up and learned that we were right that in addition to his nystagmus he wasn't seeing things at a distance very well and was developing a slight strabismus in his right eye. The no. 1 question we've gotten from people since then: "How could they tell?"

Yes, it's remarkable. Thank God for pediatric specialists. We are seeing "the best in the city" according to other moms I've referenced.

Which brings me to finding myself smack dab in the middle of what I read about in terms of the biggest influencer in marketing to moms: WORD OF MOM. Hearing from other moms, whether a neighbor or a colleague, that the pediatric ophthalmologist we're seeing is the "best in the city" can not ring louder with me. This is the best endorsement any professional can get for me. Research shows that if a mom endorses a product or service to another mom, there is no better advocate. And it's so true. While we had already been referred to our doc by my pediatrician (also a mom), getting these reassuring endorsements from other random moms solidifies her expertise in my mind even more fully. I don't know what exactly her resume says or what JAMA research she's published, but hey other moms say she's the best. So I know she's the best. And she knows exactly what my baby's eyes need. His EYES. The windows into his soul. How could I trust those with anyone but the best?

So now I'm getting these images of Reid as a young Jerry Maguire kid...but even cuter. Don't you think?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Love Letter to the Drive Thru

Ah the drive thru. (Or is it drive through? Who know what I'm talking about.)

As a mom who is also a consumer, I feel compelled to patronize every drive thru I pass. I want to spend a little money to show my appreciation: Thank you for making my life with little ones a little easier. Thank you for understanding that I'm not lazy, it's just hard work carting them around, in and out of the car, kicking and arching their backs each time they have to strap back into those car seats. Thank you for alleviating the pain we all feel each time we have to go through that dreaded routine. Thank you for saving me from the physical and mental labor of hip-slinging one, dragging the other, wishing I could find a cart -- or if there is a cart, wishing I could keep them in it -- and hoping they don't run off with a criminal or dart into the street.

Yes, the drive thru, while perhaps it was a fast food ploy at first, now is the answer to an errand-running mother's prayer. Adding a drive thru to Starbuck's? GENIUS! And, just another reason to love Starbuck's even more.

As strongly as I feel about my beloved drive thru, I'm baffled by those "other" entities who haven't caught on yet. Do you not care about us multi-tasking moms of the world? Do you not want our money? And if you do, wouldn't you want to make it as easy as possible to get us to you in order to hand over that money?

Helloooooo, post office...library? Are you listening, Blockbuster?

Walgreens will let me drive thru to pick up my prescription, but not my one-hour photos? Excuse me?

And, what about you, Target? Why not let me peruse your aisles virtually, via the comfort of my home computer while my little ones run screaming around the house, not your store. I'll make my selections online, then load up the car and we'll drive to the neighborhood Target drive thru, pick up our bagged selections and pay at the window. Why not? I want to shop online, but why should I pay for (and wait for) shipping when I'm perfectly capable of driving down the street to pick it up myself?

Gas stations have mastered the swipe-and-go. Some dry cleaners offer a drive thru. Yet I'm still amazed that in our convenience-oriented society of consumers, others haven't followed suit more quickly.

Moms of the world, you know you're with me. Have you hugged your drive thru today?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In Memoriam

I love this photo of my grandma holding me. This is so 1970s. So small-town Missouri. This is so Grandma.

I thought it appropriate to take a moment to introduce you to her. Meet Louise. Well, that wasn’t her “real” name, which I only discovered a few short years ago. Her real name was Marjorie, but she never liked that. This is the woman for whom I was given my middle name…no, not Marjorie, but Louise of course. And fittingly, this is the woman at whose house I first watched the classic movie “Thelma and Louise.”

I am not her only namesake. Her daughter, Jennifer, is also a Louise, and Jennifer’s daughter, Justine, is a Louise as well. Three women named for one. That’s quite a feat in my book.

She gave birth to my dad at age 19. Barely an adult. I can only imagine what emotions surged through her heart when she realized she was pregnant so young in 1947.

She was a marrying woman, married three times in fact. But the third time, she was cautious, dating for seven years before she would even consider the “m” word. She ran off to Reno and came back Mrs. Howery, married to a trucker, a veteran. I would never do that. But I love it that she did. And boy did he love her.

She had guts. She also had strength. Strength I think beyond even what she realized as she was dealt punch after punch. She lived with diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and through breast cancer. She inherited her mother’s dementia. In the past year, she would forget that I had children or that my sister was married, but she never forgot us. A blessing that we never got to that point. She could re-tell the story of when I was born like it happened yesterday. And she did. Recounting every detail of that blustery January whenever we talked, and I could always hear the smile in her voice. I’d heard it a million times and the smile was always there.

She was also a working woman – impressive for her generation. She ran a restaurant, then worked in a law office. I always imagined her working as a secretary alongside the likes of Dolly Parton in “9 to 5.” As you can tell, her big hair would’ve helped her fit right in.

She followed Hulk Hogan and friends at the prime of 1980s WWF. She called the sport “wrastling.” We didn’t watch it at home, only at Grandma’s.

She gave me my first television. I was dying to have one in my pre-teen bedroom and she obliged with a tiny black and white hand-me-down with massive bunny ears once after a trip to her house. My mother must have been so livid. But she did it anyway. I watched my three fuzzy black and white channels and thought of her.

Last year, when I was pregnant with baby no. 2, we visited her house for the first time in a long time. It smelled the same as I remembered. Graham played with an old push toy he found in one of the bedrooms as we chatted, and watching him, I imagined myself playing in the same way, in the same place, as a toddler. It was strange, and it was nice.

While we were there, Grandma and Clayton announced they had chosen their headstone and even had a mock-up of the design. “Wanna see it?” she asked. As morbid as it seemed to us young ones, I obliged while joking that of course she was never going to die.

But on Sunday, she proved me wrong.

As with any loss, it’s hard to face the definitive. I will never again see or speak to my grandma. I will never have the chance to tell her that I knew she was strong, and smart, and loved. I will never have the chance to make up for my lag between phone calls or visits. But at the same time, she will never break another bone, or face another hospital telling her they have no room and she’ll have to wait for the treatment she needs now. She will never have to live in a nursing home, her husband demoted to “visitor.” She will never again wonder in frustration why her son doesn’t call.

Though my lifestyle and goals are different, I can only hope that I, too, will be as stubbornly determined, as cared about by my devoted husband, as satisfied in the simple things, like getting my hair done or going out to dinner. We should all be so lucky.

Thanks, Grandma, for the reminder. I love you.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ode to the Hamper

Hampers are fun. Hampers have lids.
Hampers cause giggles for hours on end.

Sometimes they're full. Sometimes they're not.
My brother and I like hampers a lot.

I duck down inside. And then I pop out!
Like Jack in his box, that's what hamper's about.

Now you can see me. Now you can not!
Inside the hamper is my hiding spot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I have an idea...

Last year at this time I was on maternity leave.

I was enjoying long walks on the trail, pushing my double stroller, introducing the newest Hawklet to my favorite coffee shop, figuring out how to maneuver the grocery store with two babies, looking at new houses, and formulating ideas. Oh yeah, Hubby Hawks hates that part.

Those dang ideas. They haunt my mind. They keep my eyes darting around rooms. They send me on discovery trips to places like JoAnn’s fabric store. Those places I thought were meant for small-town quilting grandmas. Yes, I admit – I’ve shopped at JoAnn’s fabric store.

Yes, spending time in my home is sort of a danger to my wallet. Nearly every husbandly eye roll inevitably starts with my saying something like, “I have an idea…”

But I can’t help it. I absolutely love home projects. I love the problem solving, the creative outlet, the sense of accomplishment. I love reporting to myself as my own boss. I love living in the outcome. The feeling of fruition.

In our last house, we painted our bedroom three times in four years. The other bedrooms each were painted twice. I walked around my home and for better or worse, I could look everywhere and see our efforts, our sweat equity, our ideas. Not even a year in our new home and we’ve already done something in every room.

All I need is a quick trip to Home Depot right before the boys’ afternoon nap time and a little manly power drill intervention every now and then from loving Hubby. I will be the next generation’s Candice Olson. I can surely carve out some time between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. to replace my kitchen countertop…I mean, after all, I have the greatest idea…

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mommy, Daddy, Up High!

Hubby Hawks and I have a gift certificate drawer in the kitchen. It’s the dumping grounds for all things redeemable. Every now and then I open it and this wave of guilt comes over me. If I don’t cash these in, they’ll go to waste! I will be letting down the thoughtful gift-givers from whom these came! I will be a bad person, wasting hard-earned money, at the benefit of corporate giants! Nooooooo!

And that’s when I have these “cashing in” days where I run around town, certificates in purse, redeeming what I can and tossing what’s expired.

Recently I realized one of those folded up slips of paper stashed in the mess was a certificate I actually gave Hubby. It was his Father’s Day 2007 gift – the Father’s Day that hit shortly after Reid’s birth and his first as a dad of two. I wanted to make a splash. I was so proud of myself when I landed on a hot air balloon ride – something neither of us had ever experienced. It was unique! It was a first! It was not going to clutter up the garage! Done.

(And, oh yeah, I got to participate in enjoying this gift, too! I am no dummy!)

But as happens with balloons, and weather, and schedules, and planning ahead, it didn’t get done. It sat in the kitchen drawer, keeping company with a Ziploc coupon and expired Applebee’s gift card.

Until a couple weeks ago.

Just a year and a couple days after he opened his gift, he finally got to enjoy it. We did it. We floated, drifted, soared over beautiful, peaceful northeastern Kansas, spotting deer and smelling hay. We watched our colorful reflection in ponds and we waved to kids jumping on trampolines. It was great. (Minus the concern that the tops of our heads might actually catch on fire at any second.)

The hawklets came as well. Not in the balloon (please, we’re not REALLY hawks) but to watch us launch with Mimi, who babysat while we ballooned. They sat there in the field in their double stroller, eyes wide, taking in the balloon and all its colorful glory, and attempting to process. I was reading their little minds, as I love to do: What in the hell is this sheet tied to this giant basket and why do they keep trying to light it on fire?!

Then it was go time. Graham was crying, Reid was confused, Mimi was snapping photos, and Hubby and I were running towards the noisy flame, jumping into the basket, rising off the ground…I can only imagine why Graham was brought to tears. As we called out to him “Byyyyyyyeeee Graaaaaahhaaammm!” waving ferociously, he surely thought he would never see us again.

Two weeks later, he’s still talking about it. Over breakfast or before bed, he reminds us that this traumatic moment still races through his thoughts: “Mommy, daddy, up high!”

Yes, bud, we sure were. And, we’re going to get 50 cents off our next box of Ziplocs, too!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lucky Me

Over the past six weeks, I’ve been away for overnight trips every other week. Luckily, I am married to one of the most hands-on dads I’ve ever seen. Hubby Hawks tackles dinners, baths, PJs, tooth brushing, stories, diapers, sippie cups, breakfasts and car seats maybe better than I do. He can be found mingling with the other moms in the cul-de-sac watching the kids ride bikes in the street while I’m banging away on my lap top or off at night class working towards my graduate degree. He fills me in on the latest neighborhood news.

Hubby Hawks grew up in the middle of eight kids in his small town Catholic family and although I’ve never seen his dad cook dinner or change a diaper, somehow he came away with zero sense of traditional male-female stereotypes. He cooks nearly every night and thank God for that or the rest of us might starve. Or we would eat things like tomatoes or protein bars for dinner and surely that can’t be enough to sustain two growing boys.

We both are dedicated to our careers, but somehow Hubby Hawks manages to leave it at the office and I’m always carrying mine around. It buzzes at me constantly on my blackberry, the looming Wi-fi penetrating all sides, my lap top begging me to it. Somehow, he doesn’t see the point in multi-tasking whereas I am an addict. I envy him.

Recently, in the midst of my latest marketing-to-moms research someone asked me: why moms? Aren’t dads more involved now more than ever? Aren’t parents more likely to share traditional “mom” roles? So, why focus on moms? Is anyone really just focused on moms anymore?

The answer is a resounding yes. While I celebrate the ground we’ve covered as moms and dads who are -- both sides -- responsible for developing the little people we’ve created, the data shows that moms are still making 85% of the family’s purchase decisions. Dads are more willing to change a diaper, but moms are more likely to decide what kind of diaper dad will be changing. The decision-making doesn’t stop at baby products. Moms are deciding what kind of vehicle the family will drive, where they should bank, what healthcare services they will use.

I thank God for the gift I’ve gotten in such a wonderful husband and father. And I’m also thankful that this wonderful man will put whatever brand of diaper on our boys that I choose.