Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Two Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Let me give you another reason to just love the month of January: in addition to the resolutions, the routines we resume, and the frigid weather, it's also cold and flu season. It's not enough that the Christmas decorations are stacked in a dark corner of the attic collecting dust and we are all stuck eating diet-friendly things like kale and baby carrots; every person you encounter is sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing. Like I have been for the last ten days.

Yes, you read that right. I am feeling much better and officially human-like again, but after a solid week and a half I am still not quite over this ailment that is going around. Clint doesn't usually bring me any tchotchkes or souvenirs from his business trips, but this last one was special. He came home from Boston with the beginnings of a cold, which progressed over the weekend from a scratchy throat into a full-blown debilitating disease and then glommed onto me. Last Monday, I thought I might be getting the sniffles, and by the time I woke up Tuesday morning, I was convinced that Death had come to take us both.

To give you an idea of the severity of our sickness, Clint stayed home from work for three entire days last week--that is longer than he was out when he had his appendix removed. He struggled back into the office on Friday, but wound up coming home early to "help me out." He's a giver like that, that man of mine. Especially since helping me entailed napping on the couch and helping drink my cough syrup. In sickness and in health, unless it means there is only enough codeine for one of you, and then all bets are off.

I call this look flu season chic. 
Last week was a pure haze of napping and Netflix, cough drops and couch time. My biggest accomplishments on most days included changing out of my real pajamas and into a long-sleeve t-shirt and flannel pajama pants for lounging, washing the blanket I stayed huddled under during my waking hours, a daily power nap after Days of Our Lives, and then--on Friday when I had a burst of energy--I changed a light bulb. I am woman, hear me roar!

I channel surfed and enjoyed all that daytime television has to offer until I was completely glazed over. Then, I scoured Pinterest for things I will never bake and crafts I will never make. I tried reading a magazine, but quickly found that having to hold said publication, read actual words, and turn the pages was just too much physical exertion. I thought about walking the dog, but I was afraid the neighbors would find me curled up beside my mailbox, asleep in a Nyquil-fueled stupor, and I'm pretty sure that kind of thing is frowned upon here in my suburban oasis neighborhood.

Since Clint felt marginally better than I did, and since he was the one who was the most hungry, he made a run to Harris Teeter to pick up some sustenance to get us through our infirmity. Like I mentioned, it's January, and since we have been on an all-you-can-eat spree since Thanksgiving, we had spent almost half the month trying to eat healthy (I guess we see where that got us, right?). This came to an abrupt end when my other half came in from the grocery store loaded down with Twizzlers, Swedish Fish, chips, queso, and cookies. Feed a cold, starve a fever? At the Stancil house, we feed it ALL. Heaven help us if we ever get whatever condition it is you are supposed to starve, because it will obviously be the death of us. Clint's get-well dinner menu for Friday night was a very nourishing combination of mozzarella cheese sticks, chicken fingers, and mini corn dogs. If that's not on the road map to recovery, we don't know what is.

Stocked with a surplus of snacks and a cache of cold medicine, we took turns coughing and complaining our way through the long weekend, and then Clint headed back into work on Tuesday, fully recovered. I am still nursing a sore throat, congestion, and steady, barking cough, but I'm proud to report that I'm back in the full upright position and am a fully-functioning citizen of the real world again. I even cleaned house today in an attempt to sanitize everything that we contaminated during our flu furlough. The candy is gone and the queso is running low, so it's time to get back to as normal as things get around here. After getting hit hard with that long-lasting ick, I think we are due for a run of robust health for a good long while (here's hoping, anyway). I'll leave you with wise words I saw on a cocktail napkin a little while back:

Stay healthy!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bye-Bye Baby

I just came across an article on The Huffington Post website called, "For the Non-Parents Who Think I've Turned Into A Total A**hole." In it, a mom describes 10 reasons that people "with families" stop hanging out with their non-parent friends once kids have come along. This got me eye-rolling, heat in my cheeks, head shakingly irritated for a few reasons.

First, as someone without children, I resent it when people refer to giving birth as starting a family. My husband and I have been married for 13 years, and we are most definitely a family. Whether or not we choose to expand our family is a personal decision, but it doesn't make our relationship less or mean that we are just two yuppy morons temporarily playing house. Trust me, when you've spent over a decade sharing a bathroom, nursing sickness, discussing money, and attempting to share the remote control, you should be considered family. Because there are times that we certainly don't feel like friends!

Next, I have experienced this vanishing phenomenon in spades. Inevitably, friends with new babies begin to disappear off the grid--so much so, that we have joked that our baby gift to expectant friends is ultimately our parting gift and our way of saying so long, farewell, and thanks for the memories. Babies come along and we never see that child's parents ever again. This is both baffling and frustrating for us as it continues to happen. Yes, having a baby is time-consuming, draining, and a completely new way of life. Parents need time to adjust, to bond, to savor these moments. I get that, and I totally agree. What I don't agree with is when this continues long through the child's second or third birthday. It's hard, if not impossible, to maintain a relationship with someone with little to no contact for months at a time.

Life needs balance. Everyone needs to come out of their cocoon from time to time and socialize. Believe it or not, your child needs time away from you as well, and when everyone is reunited at the end of a date night, you will probably find yourselves refreshed and happy to see each other. I'm not saying that parents need to maintain social butterfly status, but I don't think that dinner with friends once or twice a year warrants child neglect.

My generation seems to handle babies in an entirely different fashion than our parents. My mother is continually baffled by all the new baby products and "necessities" that abound--one mom-to-be that we know registered for a $300 baby seat with various speeds and (allegedly) soothing motions for the baby, a warmer in the seat, and an MP3 player input for baby's favorite songs. Seriously? Where do we go from there? How can that child be expected to grow up and sit in a regular chair, after spending the formative moments of life hanging out in some futuristic, high-tech baby Barcalounger? A friend of mine who has grown children even laughed at all the baby monitor choices on the market today--video monitors, interactive monitors--as she put it, "believe me, that baby will let you know when it needs something and you will not need an expensive walkie talkie to figure it out." Somehow, our moms and dads managed to raise us without spending thousands of dollars on fancy baby equipment, and we survived, even without MP3 connectability.

I had a fantastic childhood. My mom doted on my brother and me and did all the stereotypical motherly things that are expected: she volunteered at school, led our youth groups at church, baked for us, cooked family dinner, helped with homework, drove us to practices, and hosted birthday parties in a more-than-Martha-Stewart manner. And yet, she still managed to maintain friendships with other women. She and my dad regularly spent time with other couples. We had babysitters and we loved every minute of it--it was a night that everyone in our house looked forward to, and I dare say that no one was damaged by my parents' nights out to enjoy dinner and grown-up conversation.

People have been having children literally since the beginning of time, and many have even managed to still maintain full, happy, seemingly normal lives after procreation. It can be done, and frankly, using your baby as an excuse to withdraw from friends and relationships is wearing thin. My mom's pediatrician offered this advice to her as she left the hospital with her first child (also known as moi): "Remember, you are bringing this baby home to live with you; you are not going home to live with this baby." He meant that kids can and should adapt and that life as you know it does not have to end when baby's on board. Life--specifically, your life--should go on.

Many of you will disagree with me, and that's okay (frankly, if you've recently had a baby, we probably don't speak much any more anyway). I've been biting my tongue about this for so long it hurts, and it's time for both sides of the story to be broadcasted. Call me a selfish, childless idiot, but I long to live in a world where having children is not a death sentence for friendships. And to the lady who penned that Huffington Post article that inspired this post, I would suggest this: if the thought that you've turned into an "a**hole" has crossed your mind so many times it warrants writing about it, there just might be some truth to it. The world (and all those long lost friends) is right there waiting.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Year In Review

Well, shoot. Just about the time I finally started writing 2014 and didn't look at it with my head tilted to the side like a curious dog, the new year is upon us and it's 2015 time. I'm not one who readily embraces change, and I don't especially love making resolutions, so rather than forge ahead with 2015, I thought I would take a look back at the last year and all of the (mis)adventures that came along with it. As a side note, there is a slight possibility that the title should be Year End Review (the same way I sometimes say work in process instead of work in progress). If that's the case, just don't mention it to me--unless one of your resolutions is to stop ignoring grammatical errors, in which case, go ahead and let me have it. Hey, it's not like I'm saying "liberry" instead of library or taunting people with "ain't skeered."

Let's recap of a few standout moments from 2014. Most of them made it on the blog, so I am linking to their respective posts, in case you missed it. If you find that you missed a lot of them, I might suggest that doing more quality reading be one of your New Year's resolutions.

Drum roll, are a handful of the major moments that helped define the year:

Back in April, we were lucky enough to (thank you, Holly!) have badges for the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta. The Masters exudes old-fashioned Southern charm, so I donned a sundress and some allegedly comfortable shoes, and spent an entire Saturday afternoon taking it all in. It was my first trip, so I made sure to enjoy enough pimento cheese and egg salad for a lifetime, just in case it takes me a while to get back.

Summer vacation gave us the chance to bask in the Bahamian sun at the Atlantis resort, and we were lucky enough to discover a rather fetching weave someone had left out by the pool. In an eerily similar coincidence, we also found out that, apparently, the welcome basket at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas includes a shower chock-full of the previous guest's hair. Spoiler alert: we preferred the sidewalk weave.

Knowing what an adventurous nature lover I am, it will come as no surprise that we spent a fair amount of time at the U.S. National Whitewater Center here in Charlotte during the warmer months. Granted, we never actually went in the water for anything, but they did have some great concerts and really good food and drinks. If you can avoid all that kayaking and stuff, it's a pretty fun place. Because of our whitewater exploits, we also discovered the rustic ambiance of a charming dive bar called Ricky J's.

2014 was the year that we finally got season tickets for Clemson football. And we tailgated our orange-clad tails off, much to my heart's delight. There was food and fun, old memories revisited and new ones made. It's hard to beat a weekend that includes the Esso Club, reconnecting with college friends, lunch at Pot Belly Deli, and oh yeah--a little football, too. For the record, the Tigers won every game we attended; in retrospect, I guess we should have gone to more games, right? Next season! I'm already planning my outfits.

In November, I crossed a major item off my bucket list when my mom, dad, Clint and I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was an experience I will never forget. The crowd, the balloons, and all the excitement in the air are truly awesome. If you've never been, or are thinking about it, I would recommend it to anyone. It is the perfect way to kick start the holiday season. And if you need a seasoned tour guide to accompany you, I am reasonably sure I could make myself available.

There are also several other moments that made this year what it was, and even though they didn't get their own blog post, they are very much worth mentioning:

February brought us several inches of snow, and thus our wine-swilling snowman, Henri.

We spent Easter in Toccoa with my parents, and the Easter bunny himself.

We kicked off beach season with a long Memorial Day weekend in Hilton Head.

Also in May, I got to meet Clemson's head football coach, (the adorable) Dabo Swinney. All in!

June included a sorority reunion with some very special ADPi sisters of mine in Charlotte.

Another fun summer date: boating on Lake Wylie with my friend and former college roomie, Stacey.
Some things never change.

When we weren't in Clemson, we were lucky enough to spend lots of our fall enjoying the fire pit.

And just like that, December was upon us and it was time to get merry!

2014 was really good to us, and so I am sad to see the year come to a close. Knowing us, I can all but guarantee a year ahead of mishaps, memories, and mayhem. I'll be sure to keep you posted!

Happy New Year!