Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vignettes From My Edge

I started this post in mid-March, and I wandered off without publishing it, because it seemed like such a Debbie Downer. But it is a realistic snapshot of that time, so I'm going to let it stand. And I am going to move forward with a new post as well... let's see if I ever get around to publishing it...


So, what exactly does it say about my life when I break one of my toes yet don't notice for at least a day (possibly longer)? Also, what is the universe trying to tell me when I whack that same poor toe really REALLY hard with a rake the day after I notice that it is broken?


Alec D is has officially entered the Terrible Twos. I don't like to label things so off-handedly, but in his case, it is totally true. He woke up one morning with a burning desire to Do It Myself, shriek "NOOOOOOOOO!" at me all day, and ramp up the drama of any given situation to an 11. He is also in search of a larger vocabulary. He will jump up and down shouting "Ma-MEE-ah" (why the extra syllable all of a sudden?!) at me until I name every object / subject / event in our immediate area. When I hit upon the thing he wants to talk about, I then have to give him more words to describe it. It's exhausting - for both of us.

This is Alec just after he whispered "nooooooooooooo" at me. Notice the stubborn set to both his jaw and his eyes...


I am so tired of food. This makes me incredibly sad, because I love food, but right now, I am sick of it. I have a husband who has finally actively joined me in a desire to erase processed foods... but he doesn't have to be in charge of the meal planning, shopping and preparation of said 'clean' meals. He just enjoys them, and feels good about the changes that we are making for our health and longevity. Then I have 2 kiddos who are so picky that their diets currently consist of somewhere between 6 and 10 foods... oh, and the 11-year-old nephew who joins us for dinner most nights is crazy-picky too, but about different things than my guys. So I spend intense amounts of time and effort each day worrying about how to feed my family healthy food that they will eat, yet Don and I are the only ones who eat a full meal on any given night. The rest of them pick and poke and frown and ask to be excused. Just thinking about it makes me tired. And I have lost my love of dinner. By the end of the meal, I just want everyone to go to bed. I don't care if it's only 6:30 - do not speak to me again until I have calmed down... and that may take a while.


Lily Ruth is really coming into her own. She is blossoming from a shy little bud of a kindergartener who only ever wanted to play School and could only play with her friends if they let her be in charge into a much more willing participant who can almost read, speaks up in groups and has learned how to let her friends have choices and control when they play together. She is sillier and funnier than ever. She is bold with color and has a beautifully open fashion sense. I cannot WAIT to see what's next!


We went on vacation last week. When you have small children, vacations aren't really a break for Mama. Vacations just mean that all of your regular routine still needs to happen, but without the benefit of your own things, familiar surroundings, or playdates to take the edge off. We still managed to have a wonderful time. The kids were fantastic, the scenery was incredible, and I now have a new fitness goal - to be strong enough to attempt skiing in a year. I haven't wanted to ski since the first and only time that I attempted it 20 years ago, but after learning how to dress for cold weather, and realizing that there is a lot to see up there that I can't get to without riding up that lift, I want to try again.

I also want to spend more time alone with my husband. He's wonderful, and even though we are together every night, we are so tired and stressed right now that I feel like I miss him.


There is so much going on that my head spins 24/7. Much of it is just not my story to tell, so I end up writing nothing. *sigh* Well, there are a lot of fun things coming up - including VBS (and I am in charge of crafts!!!!), so perhaps I will find a comfortable groove and a story to tell soon.

Love you anyway!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Still Me, Still Here

Ya'll, I have been struggling, and struggling mightily. I don't really know how to explain said struggle except to say that I am struggling with where we ARE now. I am worn down, frazzled and short-tempered. But because all of us are healthy, we have enough money to pay our bills, and good things keep happening, I haven't felt entitled to my struggle. Instead, I have bottled it up and pushed it down. I have forced myself to keep taking steps forward. Until today.

Today started off hard. I was awakened before my alarm, and it all sort of snowballed from there. By 1:00 I was sitting at the kitchen table paying bills and working to fix several mistakes  / oversights / messes caused by my recent inability to focus and/or complete tasks / thoughts / sentences. I stopped to stare at my facebook feed for a while, and there was a post from Anne Lamot:

"I have been having a hard time, full of struggle, awful things happening to people I adore, even me. But I knew the plates of the earth were shifting when I dreamed this morning that a friend and I shot and killed her evil husband. We thought it was a perfect crime, except it turned out I'd left my purse there.
Because the small brown paper bag miracle is that I got my sense of humor back, about the truth of who I am: hilariously screwed-up. I seem to be, and strive to be, an incredibly kind, generous lovebug. But I am--and i bet you are--the tiniest bit more complex.
I know I have a murderous streak in me. We are a violent species. Cain is still killing Abel. I get mine from DNA, the culture, and my mother. She was a short, plump Englishwoman with huge brown eyes, which could turn pinpointed and black when she went into self-righteous trance. I got my brains from her, but also my black belt co-dependence, and tiny, tiny control issues. These always lead to suppressed fury.
Once my beloved Jesuit travel companion Tom Weston was crunching ice so loudly that it got on my nerves. i asked this man of Christ's love, "Why do you do that?" He replied, "Rage."
So that is a part of the mix, our dark scary shadow. But so is this:
A recent day had been horrible in every possible way, beginning with nightmarish weather, very sick friends family feuds; ending with my doctor's nurse forcing me onto the scale, although I was puffed up like a grampus after a run in with full-sodium soy sauce. Then my '59 VW broke down on our main boulevard.
I was able to glide halfway out of the lane, so now there were one and a half functioning lanes during high traffic. Everyone honked. What a great feeling. It was such a final straw that I got a small miracle. Instead of it breaking the camel's back, I started to laugh.
Then I said the fourth great prayer: "Please, God, fix my car."
I turned the key. Click click silence. But they say when all else fails, follow instructions. Or, as my pastor said when I was fearfully headed on a plane 10,000 miles away, "When you step onto a plane, it's a little late for beggy prayers. It's time for trust and surrender." So I sat there mostly believing that she was right. Cars honked. I remembered a sober woman with oral cancer, who'd lost part of her tongue, and was on chemo, nonchalantly telling some sober friends, "I'm not worried. God's got it."
So I sat there fingering a medallion I wear around my neck, that says, "God's got it."
Then, Knock knock knock, a man was knocking on my car window, in the pouring rain, making the universal sign of "Roll down your window." I did. He asked if I needed a push. I asked him if he worked for God. He said that he didn't know about that, but he tried to. I took off my handbrake, and he rolled me to the side of the road. He asked if I was out of gas. I said there was no way. There is no gas gauge in my old car, so I keep excellent records. I could prove I had gas, I announced, getting out my gas log. He waved off my effort. Then he set about fixing my car.
Well, if you have one more minute, I will tell you the excruciating truth: he tried to jumpstart me, although the clicking indicated the battery was fine. He pushed my car really fast, so I could throw it into 2nd gear, and get it started. It started, and died.
He opened the back where the engine is, blew on the spark plugs, tugged on other things in a mysterious manly way, asked again if I might possibly be out of gas. I got my gas log out of the glovebox, and showed him self-righteously that I had bought ten gallons, but had only used 5. (My mom was a lawyer.)
He went and got his iPhone, and turned its flashlight beam into my gas tank. "I don't see any," he said, rather apologetically. "We could go to my house and get a gas can. I live nearby." Hah! Like I was born yesterday! Like I don't know that this is a classic modis operandi of serial killers. But I was exhausted, and exhaustion is usually the beginning of wisdom and change. So I decided to practice trust and surrender. I got in his truck and we drove to his house, where got his gas can from his too-neat, Dexter garage, and he treated me to two gallons of gas at the local gas station. He poured it in my tank. The VW started right up. We hugged and kissed and I did a crazy Wavy Gravy dance of gratitude, right there on the road, for everyone to see. Then I filled up my tank, which had been bone dry, Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones dry; despite my excellent records.
Beauty and mess go hand in hand. The Good can look like a sunrise, or like the winner in an Ugliest Dog contest, all Dr. Seuss spots of hair, and buck teeth. This goodness is the only thing that can ever save us. It is what grace looks like, this unmerited, freely given spiritual WD-40. Grace means that love is bigger than any dark weird shit life can throw at you, or even that we can throw at our nutty, tender, worried, exuberant, baby selves. All truth is paradox. For instance, I miss my mom; and she is also right here."

Just reading this particular post caused the tears that have floated just behind my eyes 24 hours a day for the past several weeks to come gushing forward. They brought their best friend Uncontrollable Sobbing with them. Heeding my mother's recent advice that 'sometimes you just have to cry until you can stop', I just went with it. I cried while I removed my eye makeup and pinned my hair back. Then I cried while I filled the bathtub, added some bath oil, gathered my kindle, towel and robe and got in. By the time I settled in, I was pretty much done crying, so I just read until I could coax myself out of the tub. 

I just keep hearing "When you step onto a plane, it's a little late for beggy prayers. It's time for trust and surrender." I know that it's time. I know that. What I don't know is how to do either. I am a control freak at the end of her leash - barking at everything that moves past me. Completely unable to influence any of it. So, what do I do? Cry some more? Poke at my demons with a stick? Shout my (unasked-for) opinions until somebody does what I say? I dunno.

What I DO know is that I now have 20 minutes until my daughter steps off the bus and the merry-go-round starts turning at full speed again. Just enough time to fold laundry and wash dishes. Yay.

Here, hold this for me, will ya?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Oh, HI!

Oh my. So, I have refused to look at my blog stats to even see how long it has been since I last posted. Perhaps I'll look once this post is done... but I've MISSED YOU! I've missed writing. I've missed taking the time to chronicle the minutiae of our lives. I especially miss the hours that I have wasted staring at social media instead of feeding any sort of creative urges that I might have had.

That brings me to the NOW. The new year. A time for good intentions and clearing out and moving forward in a purposeful manner. And so I shall - but first, let me catch you up.

Lily Ruth is FIVE. She is a kindergartener, a ballet dancer, a budding thespian, a singer of silly songs, a tiny fashionista, and an all-around wonderful girl. She is bolder and braver every day. She is wild and funny, stormy and petulant, kind and thoughtful all in every day.

Alec D is 20 months old. Almost old enough to stop counting by months ;-) He is talking up a storm, running, climbing and changing so fast that it's hard to keep up! He loves water, swings, and work of any kind (For Christmas, he got a broom / mop set and a toy vacuum cleaner. He spent the next 3 hours "cleaning" the house). He stopped nursing January 1st. This week, we will dismantle the crib. Next week, I expect him to learn to solve for "X" :-P

Dottie Dog just passed her first anniversary of being a dog with a permanent home. She is funny and kind and full of crazy dog energy. I am thankful for her every day.

Last year was hard and wonderful and full of change. But most of it was just hard. I used almost all of my energy every day just trying to keep us afloat and not act like a total jerk. And we are. Afloat, that is - I may or may not have been a jerk... It took all of us working together, but our family is happy, healthy and whole. I know that I managed to make a few things along the way, and a few story-worthy things happened. If I end up remembering any of it in sufficient detail, I will tell you all about it.

For now, it just feels good to be typing instead of scrolling on my phone. Let's just call this progress, and hope to build from here, shall we?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Alec D Turned 1!

I have a hard time reconciling the passage of the last year. Each day seemed eternal yet fleeting. As one who may not be suited to Stay At Home Motherhood, I am irritated, humbled and blessed in every day.

Just one week before his birthday, Alec took the momentum that he had spent several weeks building, and took off walking. Seriously. Just wandered off. We were at my stepdad's ranch. Daddy and Lily (she has announced her preference for just Lily) were outside with Pops and the horses.

Alec and I were inside with Grammy. He was standing holding on to her chair just bouncing and giggling. Then he let go, pivoted away and walked off - for somewhere between 8 and 10 feet. We started laughing and clapping, then I started crying... which is unfortunately my go-to when I am overwhelmed.

He was giddy with the freedom of it all. He didn't stop walking and hooting until well after 10 p.m. This made sleeping in our hotel room a bit of a challenge. We finally turned off the lights and t.v. and let him wander in the dark. He was fine with that for a while and eventually he climbed in with me for a rousing round of If Baby's Not Sleeping, Ain't Nobody Sleeping. Then he passed out.

Side note: I have talked to several mothers since who relate tales of taking baby who seemed to be in no hurry to walk to the coast and having them suddenly stand up and walk off. Perhaps it's the invigorating salt air?

We spent the next day at the aquarium.

Lily LOVED showing all of her favorite sea dwellers to her brother. They were united in their loathing of the splash pad play area :-/ After spending at least 15 minutes getting everyone into swimsuits and sunscreen, we spent maybe 5 minutes dragging miserable kids through sprinklers before giving up and drying off. Back to the dolphins for some soothing of the senses, then we made our way home.

The vehement dislike on the part of both kids really threw me. They both LOVE water. On any given day, if things are going poorly, I can dump them both in the tub and turn it around in an instant.

Alec already shares his sister's love of the pool, and he has only been swimming once. I guess that my tiny control freaks just hated the concept of random giant sprinklers and even more random splooshes of water from above.

My big guy followed his break though with yet another one - he can now climb the ladder to sister's loft bed. I am exhausted just thinking about it! In what is becoming Typical Alec Fashion, he just walked over to it and began climbing. No hesitation. No previous tries.

It's almost as though those incoming curls give him bravery, strength and agility beyond measure...

In Small Blessings news, all of these new skills wear him OUT. While this creates extra whining, it also creates extra snuggle time, and opportunities for me to just sit still and hold him. Moments that are fewer and farther between as he grows.

I love you, my son. I am so proud of you! Happy first birthday, and many, many more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Let's Play Catch-Up...

Shall We?

** side note: I once read a book wherein a good portion of the communication was portrayed through e-mails. Said e-mails were titled with a sentence, and then the body was a continuation of the thought from the title. I loved that format. It really tickled me.**

SO! Toward my goal of re-finding the joy in my motherhood days, I have allowed a LOT to slide... (great. Now that I have typed "a lot", I now have to go read the "alot" post from hyperbole and a half. I'll be back in a minute - after I stop snorting with laughter... o.k., I'm back.) as in, I stopped keeping up with the dishes and the laundry :-/ As it turns out, those things still have to be done. Apparently, ignoring them just causes large-scale messes that must be dealt with when you are at your most exhausted and emotional. Lame. I was kind-of hoping that the droppings in the garage were from a house elf and not just the suspected mice. They were not from a house elf. So now I have mice AND huge piles of responsibility. Whatever.

While letting things slide, we managed to have big fun. Wanna see? Well too bad. This is my blog.

Sister Girl introduced Brother Bear to acrylic paints!

We did some exploring at the botanical center. There are currently kid-size birdhouses made by architects and designers all over the grounds:

Our daughter is exploring her limits with brash, adventurous leaps. Sometimes she falls, but she is finally learning the joy of trying until you conquer your fear and achieving something that takes real courage and effort. I am so proud of her! Also, I have started carrying antibiotic ointment and band-aids.

Our poor garden took a beating during a surprise spring hail storm last week. The plants survived, but seem very confused and a bit bedraggled.

*sigh* I really think that we are going to have a much lower yield this year than we did the first year. This weird weather and the continued growth of the neighbor's giant oak tree (it now shades a majority of the garden for the majority of each day) combined with my general lack of true garden knowledge mean that everything just seems a bit *meh* back there. I may be wrong. It may just be early days yet...

Back to my adventures in motherhood... I surprised Lily Ruth with a visit to the splash beach at the zoo - Alec is surprised every time that we leave the house, so he doesn't count. I snuck a bag with their swimsuits and a few towels into the stroller, and we had a ball :-) Alec may learn to walk solely in order to better navigate the shallow water and deep, coarse sand.

So there you have it. Trying to stay on track with the love and the joy. Finding new times for chores. Finding that this means less time for personal hygiene :-O Oh well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Playground Rant

OR: Why You Are Irritating Me

Let me preface this rant with a statement - The upcoming diatribe is purely my opinion. As a human adult, I have my very own opinion. It may or may not differ from yours. If you feel strongly about your differing opinion, please feel free to let me know.


The weather here has finally rounded the corner from winter to spring! Sap is rising in our plants and our spirits. Lily Ruth has re-fallen in love with a neighborhood playground. It is an easy walk away from our house, and if no one else is around, Dottie Dog can run a few leash-free laps around the adjoining baseball field.

A few days ago, I decided to attempt to circumvent an Arsenic Hour tantrum by taking a late afternoon walk to the playground. I loaded Alec D into the stroller, harnessed up the dog, and passed out sunglasses. Away we went. As we approached the park, we noticed that it was BUSY. Soccer practice on the grass. Picnic-ers and barbeque-ers around the tables, kiddos swarming over the playground equipment. In short, the logical occupancy expectation of a neighborhood park on a gorgeous spring afternoon.

Here's where part one of my rant begins. As we entered the park via the only opening that a stroller can fit through on that particular side, a couple of young ladies were throwing a ball for a unleashed young and very large dog. As I struggled across the grass with a stroller, an excited dog and a petulant four-year-old, the ladies allowed their (illegally) unleashed dog to bound over and tackle my dog. Now, Dottie is an excellent dog who ADORES playing with other dogs, but she is young and a bit small, and if she doesn't feel dominant, she starts snapping - an issue that we intend to address with a trainer as soon as we can afford one. SO, while I am attempting to keep my young children from being bowled over by a dog interaction that is not going well, I am also being wrapped in my dog's (required BY LAW) leash. After a few half-hearted rounds of calling their dog's name, the girls finally make their way over to us and haul their dog off of mine. At this point it becomes evident that they have not even brought a leash for their dog. They simply wait until we are 'far enough' away, then let their dog go again.

Now, I am all for having a well trained dog. I understand their pride in the temperament and obedience of their dog. Don't all dog owners ultimately wish for a perfect pooch who walks calmly by your side without the burden of a leash and responds instantly to hand signals and quiet commands? It sure would be nice... But the truth is, even if your dog is perfect, you have NO IDEA what any other dog is like. What if the dog your dog approaches off-leash has aggression issues? What if Dottie had been abused and the interaction really scared her? This is not a dog park. It is a people park. What if your rambunctious, good-natured pup had inadvertently caused injury to one of my kids or to my dog because you wish the rules were different?

Ugh. Then I spent our entire park visit hauling on Dottie's leash as she whined and pulled trying desperately to get over to the unleashed dog... who was eventually joined by two other unleashed dogs. All of those dogs got to romp and play. Dottie got to wish.

Ready for part two? Absentee playground parents. Last week, a friend's three-year-old girl harassed on a playground by several six and seven-year-old boys acting as a pack and who's parents made not one appearance. That is one type of hands-off parenting that irritates me. Yes, let your kids run and play and figure stuff out for them selves, but watch them. Do not allow their freedom to include bullying. How is that ever o.k.?

Our experience didn't involve bullying, but it made me a bit more sad. Kids so starved for parental attention that they cling limpet-like to any available adult. As soon as we entered the playground, the circling started. Not at all unusual - kids are curious. They clock each new arrival and gauge the potential for interaction. I started to unbuckle Alec from the stroller, and a young boy (possibly 3 or 4, but big for his age) ran up and started to pull all of the toys from Alec's hands and lap. He proceeded to shake, prod and attempt to 'open' each one. Then the kid turns and starts poking at the dog. All of this happened in less than 10 seconds. I was prying toys from his hands and attempting to step between him and the dog before he stuck his fingers in her mouth. "Aiden. Get over here. Leave them alone. Go play right now" a voice calls out in an unattached, bored manner. Three completely contradictory statements combined with the lack of actual action by the parent in what was obviously an oft-repeated refrain equaled a pretty obvious conclusion - the kid did nothing to change his behavior. In a few seconds, he wheeled off to the next situation... which happened to be shoving Lily Ruth out of the way so that he could use something that her actions had drawn his attention to.

In the mean time, a young girl (maybe 4?) begins drifting toward us. As Lily Ruth, Alec, Dottie and I climbed up the play structure and started playing, she made laps around us. Each lap brought her closer. Meanwhile, Aiden streaked through the center of our group every minute or so. About every third time through, his mother said the same thing: "Aiden. Get over here. Leave them alone. Go play right now." The girl eventually made her way to us, and as we played, she leaned in with naked longing on her face, but never said a word or actually tried to play with us. She sidled in and made several attempts to cut one or both of my kids away from me so that she could take their place. Aiden continued to rush through and kick / bang on things as he passed. Occasionally, he poked at Dottie, grabbed her tail or announced that he was going to unbuckle her harness.

I kept my voice sweet and calm. I kept my hands light and off of kids that weren't my own except to remove other hands from my kids and dog. We just kept moving and changing our play. At each change, these kids shadowed us or ran ahead. They crowded onto ladders as Lily Ruth climbed; knocking her aside and stepping on her. The shoved into the tunnel as she moved toward it. They tried to slip between Alec and I as I guided him up steps and down slides. "Watch me!" "Help me!" "I'm gonna do THIS!" Aiden begged for my attention with loud words and big actions. The girl begged with her eyes and her physical proximity. I never heard her name. No one spoke to her (other than me) the whole time we were there.

The kids and I were quickly overwhelmed. It was time to go. I buckled Alec back in. Aiden grabbed toys and poked at Dottie's ears. "Aiden. Get over here. Leave them alone. Go play right now." He followed us to the edge of the playground. "You NO GO. STAY. Play wif me NOW!"

We walked away... right into a dog ambush from yet another unleashed pooch. Dottie whined and pulled. Lily Ruth whined and dragged her feet. Alec threw his sunglasses down. I mentally stomped my feet and outwardly gritted my teeth.

Maybe next time I will find the fortitude to say something to the dog owners. Maybe next time I will find the energy to better deflect or engage the sad kids. *sigh*

Rant over.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Have You Seen My Head?

Because I can't find it. I may or may not have left it somewhere in last week... or perhaps the week before that.

Just when I think that I have everything under control, I find myself lost in a tornado of early spring colds, weird family stress and temper tantrums.

My children are amazing and wonderful. I never stop thinking that. Where I falter is my belief in myself. In my ability to believe that I can manage this whole two-kids-thing. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, ya'll. I kind of thought that it would be hard. In the same way that you pay lip service to understanding things that you know that you should have read up on, but didn't.

When is it exactly that I will feel like the one in charge? I read blog posts by women who serve their children red lentil with arugula soup and lightly toasted sprouted grain crostini with goat cheese... and I feel like an asshole for the "discussions" (read: arguments) with my four year old about weather or not she will eat anything other than the 6-8 foods currently in her repertoire... Then Alec D pulls himself up on my leg and starts bouncing and whining and honestly, I feel like walking out the damn door.

I don't, though. I try to take a breath. I try to calm myself... but I usually end up snapping irritably at one or both of the kids then trying to appease all of us with snacks and naps... in front of the t.v. ...


The weather is changing. Finally warming. I feel a little like maybe I'm warming too. We can go outside to play and walk the dog. We wait for the school bus while watching snails and pillbugs. Lily Ruth collects worms and Alec eats dirt while I thin out our garden beds and replant the thinned shoots. We get ready for bed while the sun is still saying goodnight.

Spring truly is a time of rebirth. Perhaps I can get in on this. Allow the new growth around me to open my heart. Let these warm breezes start to blow away needless worry and mismanaged stress. I know it's a lot to ask of a season. For a simple flip of the calendar to fix me. So maybe I admit that the work has to be done by me. I am the one who has to (yet again) reset my focus. Resolve (yet again) to be more grateful for the opportunity to stay home with our children. This is a blessing. I really shouldn't treat it like a curse every day at 5 p.m. when all three of us are left with patience stretched thin enough to be transparent.

Here's my idea: I want a kid-sized table right at the edge of the kitchen. I want them to be able to sit near me and play or draw or eat snippets of the upcoming meal. Since meal prep time happens to be inevitable, and has lately been a bit strained because the kiddos just want to be with me (and whine), and I just want some damn quiet time (and wine)... I dunno. I just feel like if we could be together instead of separated by walls with the t.v. blaring... hmpfh...

Obviously, my head is a bit jumbled. Cranky resentment, good intentions, grandiose plans. It's a bird nest up there. Apparently, coffee doesn't unsnarl bird nests. Neither does cheap wine. I wonder if expensive wine and/or tropical vacations are good unsnarlers. If so, could you send me one?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gardening Makes Me Hungry

I am fairly pleased with us as a family. We actually managed to uncover, till and prep the garden beds on time! We even planted a few things. The rest of the seeds will be planted soon, and we have a few seedlings coming from a junior high fundraiser.

If you care about this sort of thing, we covered the beds with hay a few weeks ago (after clearing them of leaves, acorns and the largest of the weeds). We could have (should have?) done this after clearing them from the last planting season, but a few weeks of weed suppression is better than none. In order to finish prepping them, we uncovered each bed (moving the hay to the weed covered areas around the beds) and tilled (using a tiller rented from Home Depot) a bag of Ladybug Revitalizer Compost Blend into each bed. Then we just had to rake the soil relatively flat and water the beds really well and we were ready to plant. We planted corn (step one of the Three Sisters garden), red runner beans for the tee-pee and my much loved Baby Mesclun Lettuce Mix. By the by - most of my seeds come from Renee's Garden Seeds, and they produce beautifully.

Oh, and as step one of my personal campaign to make our wonderful little house a place that is not so visually disappointing, we cleared out a completely overgrown and hideous bed in the front of the house to use for flowers and herbs. Very exciting (for me). Don seems invigorated by my plans and helps as much as he can on the weekends. If only I weren't overtaken by compulsions to make huge and sweeping changes in the middle of the week! With some weekend help, I managed to get rosemary, lavender, sage, lemongrass, and a few snapdragons planted. On the "*huh* didn't quite expect that" end of it, clearing the groundcover and weeds from the bed has liberated the grass. New, tender shoots of grass are poking up happily every half inch or so. Um, I guess we should have tilled that bed when we tilled the garden because the roots for the grass are obviously deeper than the raking that we did and new soil that we put down. Oi. Live and learn.


Both kids LOVE to be outside. Lily Ruth could play for hours in the garden, in her fort or running with her dog. Alec is crazy excited about the outdoors. He stands at our windows and stares out with fingers gripping the sill and eyebrows raised almost into his hairline in anticipation of going out there and putting everything he can see into his mouth.

All of this time thinking about and working in the garden means that I think about food even more than usual. Um, that's a LOT.

I've been doing my menu plans, but I've lost interest in sharing them. My recent lack of energy means that I can make good food, or talk about said food, but not both :-/

We've tried some new recipes, and have even loved some of them. I have started moving recipes that I like to my google drive. Maybe I'll just start sharing those instead :-)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Day Is It?

Ya'll, if Lily Ruth didn't have someplace to be every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I am not convinced that I would have any idea what day it is. Ever. This whole Stay At Home Mother Of Two "thing" is hard and exhausting and at some point every day I am convinced that it is not for me. That said, I still genuinely thank God at least once a day for the amazing miracles that are my children. No matter how weird, wild, awful or insane the day may be, there are still moments of pure gold. Glimpses of holiness.

Alec crawls lightning fast into the kitchen where I am making dinner. Pulls himself to standing using my pants. Waits until he has my full attention (which he usually gains by hooting and bouncing) then growls, attempts to zerbert me (through my pants) then takes off at the speed of light while laughing hysterically.

In a moment of flurried activity while trying to get out of the door, I was listing what we had and what we needed out loud. "Lily Ruth has shoes and a jacket. Mama has shoes and a jacket. Alec is not ready. What does Alec need?" From the other room I hear Lily Ruth "HUMPS!" "What!?" She bursts into the nursery and proclaims "Camel humps, Mama! Alec D needs CAMEL HUMPS!!!"

Oh MAN! I need these moments. I need to hold them close and pull them out when Alec is crying hysterically and pulling on my leg while I prepare lunch for Lily Ruth and try not to start crying myself or yell at my baby. For when Lily Ruth's eyes narrow and she loses the ability to back down or even just calm down. *sigh* It is REALLY hard to see your least favorite personal character traits reflected in someone you love so much.

As a four-almost-five-year-old, Lily Ruth's job is to catalog her world, interpret what she sees and find her place in it. It is essential that she find her boundaries and understand how firm or flexible that they are. This means that she is constantly pushing me. Constantly. She has almost stopped the tantrums, but has replaced them with subtle insurrection. Refusing to meet my eyes when I am giving her directions (that she then chooses not to follow). Not stopping a behavior immediately when told to (something she used to do every time). Repeating an infraction that she would normally have not returned to because of the consequences. Trying out her lying skills... Oi. I am not known for my patience, people.

Yesterday was a real challenge. Not just an every day challenge. In addition to some subtle pushing, she tried a fairly major power play. I was tidying the house in a pretty manic manner. Both kids were playing in Lily Ruth's room. Then there was screaming. From Alec. When I rounded the corner, Alec was hysterical and Lily Ruth was attempting to hide behind the guest bed. I scooped him up and asked her what happened. She claimed not to know. Then she claimed that he fell. Then she said that she was "just holding him like usual" but he slipped. She was miming standing up straight and holding him under the arms. Then her arms went limp. Crap. She is shooting up like a weed, and he is as heavy as a tank. She knows for a FACT that she is not allowed to pick him up. We have this discussion every. damn. day. as part of a reminder program that she is not in charge of the baby or the dog or the family... So there I am holding a freaked out baby and staring at a freaked out, defiant child. Where the hell is that fabled How To manual for parents when you need it? Why do I not ever feel like I know the right way to react? I'm guessing that verbally chastising the defiant one then banishing her to the indefinite Time Out while you nurse the bruised one is not the right choice...

You would think that injury to her favorite sibling would put the kibosh on further antics. I would think that. But it didn't. She went ahead and pushed forward with poor listening, some light lying and some serious whining when her friends left after an impromptu play date. *sigh*

You know, I've had two days of workshops this month (done hurriedly due to poor planning on my part...). After each day, I felt renewed and revitalized. Excited about my career (and eager to someday return to it) and so thrilled to be reunited with my babies after 6-8 hours apart. I felt determined to rejuvenate my parenting and bring joy back to what was becoming a slog. Then the reality of each day sets back in. The teething and the whining. Constantly fluctuating naps. Guilt that I don't have more energy and time for either of them after I'm done just trying to provide the basics (like food, clean clothes and naps).

We just have to make it through this part. Make it through with as much love and care as possible. Not all parts of parenting are as hard as the first year. Not all parts are as hard as the fourth year. Heck, not all parts are as hard as the forty-first year :-P

I can do this. I want to do this. And I really want to get it right. Hopefully that counts for something.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Au Revoir, Monsieur Cafe

I think I killed the coffee maker. Maybe... Probably... ugh... This will be hard for me to put into words because, you see, I haven't had my coffee.

When you have hard water, things are different in the kitchen. Special detergents and rinse aids in the dishwasher. Pasta pots develop calcium deposits faster than you can blink. Coffee makers clog with scaly deposits. Oh, and what happens to the poor bathroom is best left unsaid...

I have noticed for a while (read: possibly months) that the coffee maker needed a quick vinegar cycle. It's just that when I notice it, I am in the middle of making and/or enjoying my coffee. Not really a time when I am amenable to vinegar-related chores.

So I ignored it and kept my nose in my coffee cup. Until today. When my poor coffee machine took more than 10 minutes to deliver not-quite-3/4 of the liquid that I had requested. During that time, there were repeated check-backs, much eye-rolling, and groans that deteriorated into frustrated growls.

*sigh* I sucked it up, and grabbed the giant jug of vinegar from the garage. And now the coffee maker is DEED. It sits on the counter gurgling impotently. It's innards bubbling with a thick sludge of calcium, lime, and every other mineral in the city water supply. No water spitting through...

Standing in front of it whilst holding my rapidly cooling partial cup of crummy coffee didn't seem to have any effect. So I glared at it. Poked at it with a spoon. Jabbed at it with the turkey baster. Nothing. I shook it. Emptied it. Refilled it with vinegar. Nada.

Now I'm ignoring it. This also seems to be NOT HELPFUL.

Here's the deal: it may only be half-caff, but I am still addicted, people! What I'm gonna need here is a restaurant-grade coffee behemoth hard-wired to our water supply - STAT. Baring that, I'm gonna need for you to refill my Starbucks Gold Card once a week AND deliver my order by 7:30 every morning. That's a grande brewed half-caff with 3 pumps of toffee nut and a splash of cream. Thanks!

** update: I tried once more. Vinegar out, water in. Luckily, I only filled it maybe halfway full because after just a few short minutes, there was an audible *POP*, and water began seeping from the BOTTOM of the machine. Um, ya'll, there is NOT supposed to be water seeping from screw holes :-(

I feel like I should give it a Viking funeral. A pyre of fire or a flaming boat set out to sea. It would make no nevermind to the coffee maker, but I would feel better if I got to set something on fire. Stupid machine. It had ONE job - deliver the coffee.

*** next day: I managed to make the world's WORST cup of "coffee" with my individual cup pour-over system. SO sad.

**** Hmpfh. Oddly enough, Don had a coffee maker in the trunk of his car. It has been there since April when he moved out of his old office. He is sharing it with me. It makes crummy coffee, but not truly crappy coffee. I guess I know what I will be using my birthday money on...

***** Here she is! Bella!!!