Category: Hospitality…with Children

Recuperating from Hospitality Overload

I finally felt “UP” yesterday…I have felt “down” for the past two weeks. Today I have energy and vitality and spark again!

Two weeks ago when Hannah visited, I overcrowded the week and wore myself out. I had some major work projects that fell that week…speaking briefly at my church on Sunday, speaking at the rally at the State House on Monday, media committee meeting Thursday night, and giving a presentation to 45 high schoolers on Sunday. I didn’t realize till those things were over how very much they had been stressing me out. Even though I can do my teen workshop in my sleep now, and I love doing them, preparing to get up in front of people makes me tense and irritable.

I feel really badly that those all fell the same week as Hannah came. I also tried to pack in AS MUCH FUN AS POSSIBLE! So we were going-going-going. The next time we get together, I’m going to schedule nothing but sewing, dancing, watching movies, eating, shopping…dang it, see? There I go again.

The week culminated in Matthew’s Super Bowl Party of His Life dot com. He had told me he wanted to have one and asked if I could help…I told him I couldn’t do much since Hannah would be visiting, but that I would straighten up the house and make a huge pot of chili.

Saturday night came, and we sat down to talk logistics. I asked Matthew to go over the RSVP list and it went on and on…neither of us had realized till then that 30 adults were planning to come, along with 8 children. We have a smallish apartment with only one bathroom. Matthew realized he had literally invited too many people. The thought of almost 40 humans crammed into my home sent me into an internal panic. And I realized that after the crazy week we’d had, “straightening up” the house would take hours, and we would need a lot more food than a pot of chili.

Hannah and Matthew both helped a ton, and Dan and Jenn came over early to help with last minute prep, and by the time 5:30 rolled around, we had 6 screens (laptops and TVs) set up throughout the house, chairs dispersed, drinks filling three coolers, and snacks spread out on the table. Total count ended up being 33 people. It took the rest of the next week to clean up, but we also got comments all week long about how much everyone had enjoyed the party.

By the time I had recovered myself and the house, it was time to get ready for a baby shower I was co-hosting with my friend Bekki (thankfully at her house, not mine!) on Saturday the 7th. The mom (Onalee) is doing the nursery in a circus motif, which provided a great party theme (most of the guests had all been involved in a couples Bible study for several years, so we’ve done SO many baby showers for each other that we were running out of themes and games!).

Katherine got sick on Thursday, and especially after staying up till almost 3 am Friday night getting ready for the party and catching up on other things, I was very sick myself by Saturday afternoon. (Joshua was a huge help – he actually slept 7.5 hours straight Friday night! 11 pm to 6:30 am) I doped up on cold medicine and ringmastered the party, but by the time it was over I was a wreck. Jenn took care of me afterward since the significant others were mostly all playing video games at my house still. I got worse and worse, and she realized I was in no condition to drive, so she had Dan bring Matthew to drive me home.

I spent Sunday in bed…Matthew left for church giving Katherine instructions to stay in her room till Mommy got up. By the time I did, around 1:30, K was naked (?) in the living room and Cheerios covered the floor in 70% of the house. (Sweeping was a small price to pay for that blessed sleep.) Then Katherine and I watched Back to the Future movies till bedtime.

So I’ve spent this week so far recuperating from the sickness and decompressing from all the hospitality. We’re mostly all well now, except for Joshua, who has a terrible stuffy nose.

Gwyn put it really well when I told her about the Super Bowl party: “wow. that is a becky nightmare + fantasy. the hospitality! but the PEOPLE! but the hospitality! and the cooking! but the PEOPLE, and muffliato isn’t WORKING!”

I think God knew He had to give me the gift of hospitality to combat my introvertedness, or I would live in constant disobedience. As it is, the two work in tension with each other, causing me to cycle through wearing myself out and recuperating. Hopefully I’ll continue to work toward finding a better balance.

Our Super-Automatic Espresso Machine

Two months ago…

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…the UPS man delivered the DeLonghi Perfecta and the stork delivered Joshua David.

In eight weeks, they have given us 366* shots of espresso and 336** diapers, respectively.

* actual figure
** estimated

Mexican Food, Newport, and My Baby Squirrel

We had dinner with Micah and Nichole last night. And it just so happens to be their anniversary today! We had a lot of fun. So much fun that we didn’t leave till after midnight! I didn’t realize it had gotten so late, and they were too polite to kick us out. : )

Their apartment in Newport is beautiful. It’s in a huge Victorian home that has been converted into eight apartments. (Nichole said that in the 1930s, it was 16 apartments!) Their apartment felt very open and airy, with calming paint colors on the walls, high ceilings, and hardwood floors. I can’t imagine how HUGE the house must have been when it was a one-family dwelling.

They made a great hosting team. Micah did most of the cooking and served us a fabulous Mexican feast. The food just kept coming. I brought chips and homemade salsa, so we started with those and “Mexican Fudge,” which is really more like a spicy quiche. Then we had a salad with toasted tortilla strips, then beef AND chicken enchiladas, AND Spanish rice AND refried beans. And then chocolate cake. Nikki graciously made us coffee, and even though she and Micah are coffee-teetotalers, they each bravely downed a cup. We played The Dice Game and Dutch Blitz, both brought to us courtesy of Gwyn.

The only downside to the evening was my squirrley baby. Used to be, we could take her anywhere to anything and she’d be fine. Nice restaurant? No problem, she’d either sleep or sit happily in her carseat. Church meetings, volunteer meetings, no problem – I could hold her and she’d be fine. Only occasionally did she cry, and that almost always meant she was hungry. If I was trying to do something at home, she would be content in her swing or playing on her play mat. If I put her somewhere, she stayed put.

No longer. Scratch all of the above. She has recently learned how to Army crawl AND how to move from sitting to her stomach without smacking her face on the ground. All these developments came last week when I had a house full of people who were more than happy to watch her and play with her. Then all of a sudden I was alone with her again, and she had turned into Super Scooting Baby, and I’m not quite sure what to do with her! She wants nothing to do with her swing. If I sit her on a play mat, she turns onto her belly, scoots her torso to the edge, and drags herself and the play mat across the floor. I put her in her car seat on the living room floor a few days ago and went into the kitchen, and when I came back a moment or two later, SHE WASN’T THERE! I hadn’t buckled her in, so she must have slid out, rolled over, and dragged herself along, because I found her heading under the dining room table.

This is what she was doing last night. Dragging herself across the floor, gnawing on chair legs, pulling everything out of her diaper bag, arching her back and trying to throw herself out of the papasan chair we had pulled into the kitchen to contain her. Oh, and talking. And screeching. LOUDLY. This is the other reason we can’t take here anywhere anymore – she talkatively takes after her dad, but hasn’t yet learned his restraint.

She finally wore herself out enough to slowwwwwwwwwwwly driiiiiiiiiift offfffffffffff to sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m having so much fun watching her grow and develop, and I love the constantly increasing level of interaction we enjoy. I just feel like my mothering rhythm is off. I had it down…I knew how to take care of her, how to respond to her, how to meet her needs, how to keep her safe and entertained. Now she is changing so fast I can’t adapt quickly enough, so I feel off my game.

My dream room right now is a big, giant space, freshly carpeted, with nothing on the walls or the floor except for a bunch of toys, a room where she can crawl around and explore to her heart’s content and I can turn my back for a moment without worrying that she’ll peel varnish off the hardwood floor and eat it.

The Ill-Fated Rescue

For the Reader’s Digest version of this story, go here.

Saturday night, Dec. 1, I called Hannah to let her know I’d emailed her pictures of my bangs. I had forgotten she was in New York state for a Sunday afternoon wedding and wouldn’t have internet access. I’m glad I called, though, because she had a tale of woe, and since she couldn’t blog about it, I’m glad I was able to be a listening ear.

Turns out she had been given to understand that her transportation and accomodations would be taken care of, and all she needed to do was show up. When no one came to pick her up from the airport, she got an inkling of things to come. She found out about a dilapidated shuttle from the hotel just in time to avoid walking two miles in the dark and cold from the airport to the Days Inn. After finding out that, yes, she could stay in the hotel…for $100 a night, the true reality of the weekend ahead of her set in. No transportation? Check. No arranged room? Check. Oh, well, at least she had her…debit card? Nope. Still in Oklahoma. And she had Saturday and Sunday night to survive before her plane left early Monday morning, getting her back for her Tuesday morning flight from OKC to Washington, D.C.

By the time I talked to her, she was considering spending the night doing, well, THIS. Or going to the airport and surreptitiously sleeping in the baggage claim all night.

I encouraged her as best I could and then set about making a seven-layer Mexican dip for a Christmas party that night. Somewhere between the beans and the guacamole, the thought came. “HEY! Did Hannah say she was near West Point? I didn’t realized she was going to be so close! That’s only a few hours from here! Gosh, I should go and spend the night walking around Wal-Mart WITH her!”

Then I remembered not only am I not in college anymore, I also have a baby, who is laid back, but probably not THAT laid back. Still, there must be something I could do to rescue my poor stranded friend…plotting commenced. I called Matthew on the way to the party. “Want to go on an adventure with me?” I asked. I outlined Hannah’s situation and finished with several options… A. We pick her up and bring her back to RI with us. B. We find an all-night diner in Newburgh, NY, and take a re-he-he-he-he-heally long time eating. C. We pick her up and then stay with friends in New York City.

“That’s insane!” he said. “It sounds like something *I* would come up with. I love it! I’ll call Adam.” (I was loving having the tables turned. My visionary husband is constantly coming up with out-there plans, and I usually have to bring in the reality check. It was so funny for me to have the crazy idea and him to carefully think out the logistics.)

I was so excited to call Hannah later that night and tell her, “We’re coming to rescue you!” She was surprised/happy/elated/shocked/overjoyed…apparently things there had continued to go downhill.

So it came about that Sunday after church I was hurriedly packing an overnight bag and gathering everything for the trip. The true psychoticness of this idea didn’t sink in until I went to GoogleMap directions and was confronted with my previously hazy understanding of New York geography…Newburgh is 4 hours from Providence, not 3, as I had thought, and Harlem, NYC, is a further 1.5 hrs., not 45 minutes. And Hannah’s flight left at 6 am, not 7. Which meant…quick mental calculations…we would have to leave the City between 3:30 and 4 am on Monday to get Hannah to the Newburgh airport on time. After sufficiently caffeinating ourselves, we set off on our mission/quest/thing. We reached the reception site (which reminded me an awful lot of this inn) as the party was winding down and Hannah was about ready to stove her own head in out of sheer boredom. She ran out to meet us, and when I jumped out of Fritz Alvaredo, she gave me a huge hug and said something about being happier to see me than she had been to see anyone in a long time. I was thoroughly happy to see her too. As she said, it was a lot like this:

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We ventured on to the Gahagans’ apartment and made great time getting there. They were so gracious to put us up in their tiny space on such short notice.

Me with Elasia, and Evita with Katherine:

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Adam making the girls smile:

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We stayed up way past the babies’ bedtimes talking.

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I really appreciate the Gahagans willingness to upend their schedule for us! It was encouraging as usual to see them. They are some of the most spiritually refreshing people to spend time with. Their passion and vision is catching.

We finally went to bed, Matthew, Katherine and me on the futon and Hannah on the little chair.

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We crashed for a few short hours…stumbling around blindly in the morning, we tried to hurry out the door, but I fell back to sleep instead of getting re-packed while Matthew was showering, so it was almost 4:40 by the time we sped onto the George Washington Bridge and headed northwest. NO ONE was on the road, so Matthew booked it down the highway. Finally at 5:45, Fritz pulled up to the terminal. Hannah dashed out to run through the tiny airport and board her 6 o’clock flight. We told her to call us to let us know she made it on the plane.

The phone rang a few minutes later. As if 6 am weren’t early enough…the flight had left early, leaving Hannah tarmac-bound. A couple hours of stress and repeated calls to Northwest ensued. The multiple Northwest agents she spoke with couldn’t grasp the idea of saving the airline money by consolidating her two trips – NY to OK, then OK to DC roundtrip – into one trip, so she could ride home with us and go to DC directly from Providence. Ultimately, we had to say goodbye and leave her to catch a much later flight to Oklahoma. And, as Matthew said later, by the time 11 am and he rolled around at Saint John Stone, his boss had so many things to talk to him about that he didn’t really notice how late Matthew was to work.

So. It turns out that I saved my friend from spending 9 hours in the Newburgh airport…by leaving her to spend 9 hours in the Newburgh airport.

Morals of this very long and drawn out story:

1. Our adventuring days are by no means over now that we are parents. Katherine was a gem the whole trip.

2. I love my friends and will do pretty much anything for them. But don’t ever count on me to get anyone anywhere on time early in the morning.

Painting the Town Pink (Baby in Tow)

Lisa Robinson, a college friend of ours, is visiting us this weekend. Yesterday we took her, my mom, and Katherine on a big tour. (Not that Katherine really saw much of anything…she slept most of the day!) At lunchtime, we girls drove down to North Kingstown and had lunch with Matthew at Seven Moons, an Asian restaurant near his work. Then we drove back to Providence, and I took them on a driving tour of Providence – we saw all the cool artsy/beautiful/historical parts of the city. We went to Roger Williams Park right about sunset. Here’s Katherine admiring the view from the Temple to Music.

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When Matthew got off work, we started our little “Providence Progressive Dinner” with roasted vegetables and salad at the house, then we went to Spike’s Junkyard Dogs. All beef hot dogs on freshly baked rolls, with all kinds of tasty toppings…our favorites are the Reuben dog and the buffalo dog.

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For dessert, we went to Pastiche, a classy little place on Federal Hill, which area was formerly the main stomping grounds for the RI mafia. At Pastiche, the tables are so tiny and there are so many of them jammed closely together that there was nowhere to put the carseat. So…

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All the old Italian ladies eating dessert with their goombahs oohed and ahhed over the cute baby. Our table was the talk of the restaurant!

Then we stopped by The Coffee Exchange on Wickenden Street, arguably the best coffee shop in town, thence home for the Dice Game, and Katherine finally got HER dinner.

The ADORABLE hat is from Erynne.

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