Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lifeguards, frogs, finding goodness, diabetes, and garbage humans

I took the kids to the pool for nearly four hours today! We went "early" and had a picnic lunch because Alexander doesn't like it when the lifeguard is at the pool because the lifeguard calls for "adult swim" the last fifteen minutes of every hour and he doesn't like to be forced out of the pool. But really the lifeguards are all really nice. We especially like Teaghan, who just happened to be working today.

It was hot out and instead of just chilling on her break like she usually does, Teaghan decided to delight the children (my four (Rachel didn't come) and three from another family (the only other family) there) by lining them up on the side of the pool and doing spectacularly splashy cannonballs and can-openers off the diving board, soaking all the kids over and over again. They thought it was the best thing ever!

I hope if they remember anything from this summer years from now, it's Teaghan the Lifeguard splashing them all during adult swim. (It would be cool if they remember other things, too, but I think this is a memory that needs to be locked away in their brains). 

And then when adult swim was over and Teaghan was climbing back onto her lifeguard chair, a bunch of little kids climbed up on the diving blocks, ready for her to whistle and call for "kid swim," so she teased them by raising the whistle to her lips and lowering it several times. Benjamin had a little "false start" and fell into the pool before she blew her whistle (and climbed back out as quickly as he could, because he's no rule-breaker!). When she finally blew her whistle the kids all screamed for joy and leaped into the pool together and it was utterly adorable.

So, again, I really hope they've all committed Teaghan the Lifeguard to memory. 


I watched a talk by Joyce Sidman the other day (as part of the Books for Young Readers Symposium at BYU (and my children may have listened in, too)) and it was so wonderful. She told a story about finding a little common grey treefrog on her garden hose and how she became so enamored with it that she didn't want to disturb it, so she didn't water her garden that day. And then she just...became obsessed with these noisy little frogs (who I can hear chorusing outside my windows as we speak (in fact, I took a picture of one climbing up our (very dirty) window this evening!)). She learned everything she could about them and began spending her mornings hunting for them with her camera. 

She said that sometimes she would find several frogs, sometimes she would find a few, sometimes she would only see one. Other times she wouldn't find any frogs at all, but that didn't matter!

"Because look at what I did find!" she said, sharing some beautiful pictures of flowers and dragonflies and all the other wonderful things she discovered while on her morning frog-hunting adventures.

The kids and I talked about how because she was out in the world, looking for beautiful things, she found beautiful things (even if they weren't the exact things she was looking for). I think that's such an important life lesson. If you go about doing good things, you're going to achieve some goodness (even if you don't quite achieve what you set out to do). If you go about trying to find good things, you're going to find goodness (even if you don't quite find what you set out for).

The important thing is to have a goal in mind, to be working toward goodness, to be looking for goodness.

(Joyce Sidman also ended up writing a book about those frogs called "Dear Treefrog," but I don't know how many of my kids want to be authors when they grow up (I want to be an author when I grow up, but still haven't figured out how), so this ending felt secondary to our purposes. But, still—look at this good thing that came out of her curiosity about a frog!)


Along the lines of seeking for goodness and inevitably finding some (not that you won't run into bad things on your morning frog-finding adventures, because I'm sure there were times she ran into dog poop or got a tick on her or whatever...but—by, golly!—she chose to focus on the flowers and the cloud formations and the curiosity and wonder of the world), I've had the chorus of the Avett Brothers song "The Weight of Lies" stuck in my head the past little while. Sometimes I change the word "lies" to "life" in my head because I don't always think it's lies people (I'm people) want to run from, but just the overwhelmingness that You know? 

Not that I personally feel like running right now. But I'm not altogether unfamiliar with the feeling. 

Anyway, I was talking to my mom this evening and told her about this song, so I thought I'd put the words here:

The weight of lies will bring you down
And follow you to every town 'cause
Nothing happens here that doesn't happen there
When you run make sure you run
To something and not away from 'cause
Lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you down

I just love the lines "nothing happens here that doesn't happen there" and the idea of being sure to be running to something (trying to find some goodness) rather than away from something. Because just always going to be there. 


I'm not sure if any of this makes me sound like an optimist or pessimist. Really, I like to consider myself a realist. I do my best to be optimistic about things but have way too much anxiety about, well, everything to actually be considered one. I wouldn't say I'm pessimistic, though. I just...try to keep things real. 

For example, I failed my glucose test this week (royally, as one does). 

In the past I've been bummed about this moment. But I really wasn't upset about it at all this time around (that does not mean I won't ever get angry about food; I am pregnant, after all). Instead when the nurse told me I failed I was like, "Glad we're on the same page now."

Like, I already knew I was going to fail. There were no surprises here. I have failed more glucose tests than I've passed (for the record, I have passed two glucose tests and have failed six of them (two with Benjamin and two with Zoë, but only one each for Alexander and this baby because...I I got smart and learned that I could request to not take the three-hour test. Since I've failed it twice (and it's three times as miserable as the one-hour test), I figure I'm not likely to ever pass it). 

I've been really good so far with diet and exercise. I think. I mean, I haven't been testing my blood sugar, but I've been doing things like eating fried zucchini and yellow squash while everyone else eats pizza and I've been militant about post-prandial exercise. So I just have, like, 19 weeks left of this. 

Not that I eat terribly unhealthily when I'm not pregnant (my father-in-law swears I'm a hippie because I eat vegetables), but I do enjoy ice cream every now and again. As one does.

Anyway, I was talking with my family about my glucose test this week (I had to check on why we were talking about that—it was because of Rachel so kindly making a chocolate cake for her birthday so that I wouldn't feel tempted to eat any) and Patrick said, "You don't have gestational diabetes this pregnancy, do you?!?!?" 

And I was like, "Well, not yet, but probability-wise I simply probably do." 

Having had gestational diabetes once is one of the greatest risk factors for having it again. Women who've had gestational diabetes once have a 45 to 65% chance of developing it with subsequent pregnancies (and that percentage just keeps going up the more times you've had it (so since I've had it three times before it's kind of a given that I'll have it again at this point). 

So Patrick said that he hoped that I'd get "lucky" and pass the test this time around, a sentiment I appreciate because there's always a part of me that hopes stuff like that, too. But the more rational part of my brain squashes those unrealistic hopes because, see, if I truly allowed myself to hope for that outcome (as I did when I was pregnant with Zoë, for example, because I was sure my diagnosis of gestational diabetes with Benjamin had been a fluke many other things went wrong) I knew I would be crushed if things didn't go my way (and, indeed, I cried when I found out I had failed my glucose test with Zoë). 

Instead, I decided to just tell myself that—of course—I had gestational diabetes (like, duh). 

That way when I inevitably failed the test it was...completely expected. 

Passing would have been a pleasant surprise (though it still wouldn't have gotten me off the hook because I would have had to repeat the test at 28 weeks just in case it had developed in the interim), but failing didn't feel like a crushing blow. Failing felt like the expected outcome. 

I'm not excited about having to test my blood sugar a billion times a day (four; it's four times a day (that's finger pokes...)) but...whatever.


Yesterday before our post-prandial walk (we haven't been able to go on many of those this week because it's been storming, storming, storming (including this evening), but we got the RingFit game and I've been doing that on days we can't walk), Alexander followed me upstairs instead of getting on his shoes to head outside, like he'd been instructed to do.

"You need to go get your shoes on and head outside, I think," I told him.

"I don't really want to," he said, climbing into the big, comfy chair in the corner of my room.

"Well, that's what Dad said to"

"He also said I could come upstairs," Alexander said.

"Did he though?" I asked. "Because I only remember hearing him asking you to put on your shoes because it's going-outside time."

"He did say to put on my shoes, but then I just ignored him and started coming upstairs and he said, 'Whatever,' so..."

"Okay, so...sometimes when grown-ups say, 'Whatever,' it's because they're annoyed that you're not listening, not that they're granting you tacit permission to do whatever you want. So...downstairs, shoes on."

That little boy is the sweetest thing but, oh, he can be such a handful. Like most little kids, I guess.


He tiptoed into our bedroom early in the morning one day this week (or last week?), naked, with his arms full of clothes. 

"I'm sorry to wake you up, sweet Mommy," he said, stroking my face. "But Daddy is taking Rachel to work and he took me potty before he left but do you know what?! He forgot to point it down! So I peed all over my pyjamas. And then Dad had to leave. So he said I could wake you up to help me get dressed."

He knows he's supposed to let Mommy rest, which is awfully sweet.

He woke me up another morning this week after Andrew had left to take Rachel to work (not that it's terribly early in the morning; or so), hesitantly opening my door and whispering, "Mommy..."

"Yes?" I asked. 

To my surprise the door flew open, crashing into the wall, and Alexander burst through the doorway shouting, "WHERE'S OUR SAFETY KIT?!!?!?!"

"Whaaat?" I asked, immediately sitting up in bed. "What do you mean, 'Where is our safety kit?' What do you need a safety kit for?!?!"

In other words: who's bleeding?!

"Because it's gonna storm," he answered calmly. 

"Well, in that case," I said, snuggling back into my pillow. "It's kind of scattered all over the house. We've got flashlights on all our phones and in the kitchen cupboard. First aid stuff is in the hallway by the bathroom. The generator and the camping gear is..."

He ran to the top of the stairs and hollered, "She said it's scattered all throughout the house, guys!!"

I blame Daniel Tiger for this one (it's not the first time Daniel Tiger has done me wrong) because there's this one episode where it storms and the power goes out so the Tiger family breaks out their safety kit, which has a flashlight, a snack, and an emergency stuffed animal? (Maybe; Alexander was adamant about having an emergency stuffed animal). Anyway, we're decently prepared for emergencies and have weathered a few yucky storms out here, so I don't know why he was so terribly worried about a storm the other day. It did rain that day, but nothing out of the ordinary. 


Since I'm telling Alexander stories, let me tell one more. And then I need to get to bed. Because there's a reason I don't love getting up in the mornings and...this is the reason (I stay up way too late reading and writing every night, but also I can't sleep unless I get enough writing done so it's not counterproductive work, really, except that I have a paper that I should be working on, except that I've also been under a bit of stress and writing about other stuff feels good in a way that paper-writing doesn't, so none of this is counterproductive...until it's the morning and Alexander is banging at my door (or stroking my face, depending on his mood) to tell me to get out of bed).

We've been having some work done on our house. You know. Because remember that one time one of our bathrooms fell into the other one. That was a, uh, good day. 

Anyway, we've been parking our cars on the street most days so that our contractor can use the driveway and garage at his leisure. But I don't love parallel parking (who does?) so sometimes I do a bad parking job in front of our house and ask Andrew to fix it for me in front of the neighbour's house. Parking in front of our house is tricky because we've got mailboxes everywhere, and the storm drain, and the electrical box, and there's a fire hydrant just next door. And our plot is kind of pie-shaped anyway. Or wedge-shaped. Like, what's considered "ours" is very narrow up by the street, but very wide in the backyard. So factor in the mailboxes and everything else and there's just no good place to park.

So we usually park in front of one of the neighbour's houses. Except that I don't do this because parallel parking. Boy, I dunno. Like, if there are no other cars parked, I'm golden. But, like...sometimes there are other cars and then...I hand the keys to Andrew.

Anyway, we came home from the pool the other day (yesterday? I feel like it must have been yesterday because I think we only made it to the pool twice this week on account of all the thunderstorms) and I parked in the little spot between our mailbox and the neighbour's mailbox, in front of the storm drain where our garbage cans are currently sitting. 

"Ummmm, Mommmmm," Alexander said. "I don't think you should park here."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because the garbage humans don't like that when they need to get to the cans sometimes."

I just about died—garbage humans!

"Oh, well, it's not garbage day today," I said, stifling my laughter, "So I think the, uh, garbage humans will be okay."

"But...the mailbox? What about the delivery people?"

"The mail already came today but we'll move the car before mail time tomorrow," I assured him.

He's very mindful of others, this one. He's even politically correct! Can't call them garbagemen, so...they must be garbage humans! Why it's garbage humans but delivery people, I don't know. All I know is that there's often a time in a little boy's life when they want to be something that involves driving a big truck. 

Benjamin wanted to be a UPS driver. Uncle Patrick wanted to be a pizza delivery guy (that doesn't involve a big truck, but we'll count it in this same vein). I can't stop imaging someone asking Alexander what he wants to be when he grows up and having him answer proudly, "A garbage human!"

In fact, that's the one thing I don't want him to be. 

He can be a trash collector, an author, a national parks ranger, a pizza delivery guy person, a lifeguard, a paleontologist, an astronaut, a teacher, a brick layer, a dentist, a plumber...

It's really unimportant to me. 

Just don't be a garbage human.* 

Be a human that seeks goodness. Seek to find it. Seek to share it. 

Even if it doesn't take you where you thought you'd end up, at least use the journey to collect (and spread) all the goodness you can along the way! 

Splash the kids on the side of the pool on a hot, muggy day in July!

* I don't have a real definition of what this means. Perhaps along the lines of Eleanor's from The Good Place? 


I don't know how all these stories connect, or even if all these stories connect, or even why they were calling to me to be written down. But here they are. And now it is far too late. 

So goodnight, dear readers. 

Goodnight, blog.

Goodnight, frog making tiny, sticky footprints on my window pane...

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