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!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Life (As Always) Marches On

It was a rough week, ya'll. Let's just say that everybody is physically fine... Well, everybody that lives in this house. The grownups are dealing with a situation that is not mine to share. This is hard for me. Writing has become my way of working through things. Taming the whirlwind of thoughts in my head and shaping it into a cohesive narrative calms me and focuses my thoughts. When the grownup stuff looms large, I tend to feel a bit isolated and silent even when surrounded by others. Telling the story out loud or in print means to me that I'm not isolated. That my voice is heard. Of course, I could always write it out and NOT share it, but my overtaxed brain tells me that I don't have any extra energy, so we won't be making time to do that just yet...

The kiddos are leaping right along with the glee of siblings who are much adored. As far as they know, it was just a regular week. A pretty good one at that.

Wednesday, I went up to Austin for my continuing education workshop. It was a really wonderful day. In addition to watching and experiencing some fun, cool bodywork,

Acro-yoga - I did not personally experience this :-P

Our instructors. Randy is laughing because Shane is muttering "don't drop me, don't drop me..."

Getting a bit closer than most people get with some advanced Shiatsu

The work comes back to me in waves - I REMEMBER THIS! I can do this!

I was completely on my own for over 10 hours. That has not happened in a VERY long time :-) While I was gone, Alec got to spend his first full day with just Daddy. They had a great time. They even managed to complete several errands AND get sister to and from Parent's Day Out and ballet class! *whew* I was thrilled and peeved that Daddy also managed to convince Alec that bottles are cool. Thrilled because he would have been one sad and hungry baby otherwise. Peeved because I have tried so hard with various bottles and strategies for AGES, and nothing doing. The ladies at Parent's Day Out have been worried and frustrated as well, because he wouldn't drink his milk from a bottle or a cup for them either :-/ One dang day with Daddy, and all of a sudden, he's a pro. Whatever. :-P

Thursday, I was pretty much useless. After a full day of stretching, lifting, pulling and breathing with intention, I was WORN OUT. I can't even remember if we made it out of the house.

Friday, I was loading Alec (still in his sleeper) into the car so that we could pick up Lily Ruth and head for 'school' when he threw up all down my only clean sweater. Hmpfh. Well played. ANYWAY - I may have ended up wearing layered tank tops and a cardigan in 30 degree weather, but he showed up at school in his pajamas. So there. After a good day at school for the kiddos, Alec D had his fourth tooth break through! Two up and two down. He has already figured out how to use them to actually bite into things - including me :-/ Nursing just got real up in here!

Saturday, I took Lily Ruth to the Frozen sing-a-long. That was BIG fun. We stopped at Target first, and got an Elsa dress to add to her current costume:

(Yep, a contractor trash bag for a cape and a pair of cat ears as her crown. She made it herself!) Then we went to the movie theater and sang our hearts out.

Yesterday, we ventured into the garden for a bit. I battled climbing vine weeds. Lily Ruth wove stories under the frame of her bean tee-pee. Alec ate hay and played with rocks. Hopefully the weather will be just as gorgeous next weekend, and we can get down to the business of tilling and planting.

SO, to sum up: Emotional whirlwind swirling just below the surface. Kiddos doing great.

Oh, and we still have to eat. This is a FACT. So here is the plan...

Monday:  Well, I wanted to make rainbow flatbread pizzas, but Lily Ruth said "No ganks. I like the picture, though. You could make it then send it up in the sky for God to eat after you make it." So I guess I'll make Red Lentils with Cauliflower andSausage again  

because it was soooooo good!

Tuesday:  Homesick Texan Carnitas Rachel Doyle's pin on Pinterest.

Wednesday:  Crockpot Gyros

Thursday:  Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts

Friday: Family dinner night - definitely calls for Sriracha Broccoli  

Saturday:  Could you be in charge, please?

Sunday: Crapshoot!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meh. :-/

After my internal / emotional drama and the external / ridiculous drama of Little Miss Tantrum, I didn't have a lot left over by the weekend, so there is not a whole lot to report.

On Thursday, just before the tantrum, we made horse sock puppets with Lily Ruth's friend Lola. They are awesome. If I remember later, I'll take a picture for you. As the tantrum wound down, I made paper lanterns for a string of fairy lights as a way to diffuse my insanity. This also falls under the category of "possible picture later".

On Friday, I made Jaden's Beef With Broccoli  for our family dinner. This is one of our favorite recipes, you guys. Even Lily Ruth eats a metric ton of this! I sort-of tripled (parts of) the recipe, and made fans out of the rest of our gang :-)

Over the weekend, I procured the rest of the supplies needed to finish new messenger bags for the kids! Now I just have to carve out the time to make said bags...

I also had Big Girl Dinner out with friends to celebrate a birthday, and our whole family unit (Dottie Dog included) went to a Super Bowl party at our neighbor's house. Dottie had more fun than should be legal. She played with the neighbor dog for hours, ya'll. She cried when we brought her home :-( To celebrate her social success, she ate the corner off of the coffee table while I nursed Alec this morning

:-/ jerk.

Oh well. We already know that we can't have anything nice. This just continues to confirm that.

On to the menu plan for the week...

Mon:  Easy roasted chicken, steamed asparagus, butter garlic noodles

Tuesday:  Red Lentils, Cauliflower and Sausage with fruit

Wednesday:  Mama's gonna be in class!*

Thursday:  Rigatoni with tiny meatballs

Friday:  Family dinner - including sriracha broccoli :-O

Saturday: Homesick Texan Carnitas (didn't make them last week - tantrum night)

Sunday:  eh. Crapshoot

That's my big plan for the week. That and sleep. I could sleep for a WEEK, ya'll!

Not that I'll get to. I'm pretty sure that these guys would not allow even a nap, never mind a week of sleep :-P

* I have to take classes to keep my massage license current. I get to take a class from my favorite Shiatsu instructor on Wednesday!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Tantrum Days

Oh. Mah. GAW. Yesterday was a 10 on the Epic Tantrum Scale you guys. Since turning 4, Lily Ruth has done some experimentation with temper tantrums, begging and whining. This is not necessarily news-worthy - she's 4. If she wasn't testing boundaries and pushing limits, I'd be worried. We even had a few weeks of full-blown screaming tantrums that lasted for a minimum of 30 minutes each.

This blew all of those out of the water. I am still reeling. When I texted my husband at 3:37 with "possibly the worst day ever. Do not come home without vodka", I was only kidding a little bit. Luckily, he gets me. He came home with hugs and pomegranate vodka.

It started over candy (or rather, the lack thereof in Lily Ruth's hot little hand). It continued as a refusal to calm down. It escalated as she battled to stay angry.

"I am going to THROW this!" "Lily Ruth, you know that if you throw something, the consequence is that it will be taken away."

"NO, Mama! I am GOING to throw this, and don't you DARE take it away from me! Don't you DARE!"

"I am GOING to get out of my room. I am GOING to get my things back!"

"NOOOOOOOOO! Don't you DARE throw the candy away! I AM GOING TO BITE YOU!"

This is where she went into pure Berserker mode. A tiny hurricane of angry fists, furious kicks, gnashing teeth and top-volume shrieking. I held her at arm's length as she raged at me. At one point, she actually managed to grab a handful of my hair and pull. I slapped her hand before I even realized it.

"I HATE YOU! I am NEVER going to love you. Never. Ever. AGAIN."

"I am going to call Daddy and tell him that you are acting like a JERK, Mama. I am going to write him that you are throwing my things and acting AWFUL."

It went on. And on. And on. By the time she wound down enough to stop screaming, there were three large containers of things from her room in the garage, and the contents of the candy bowl were in the garbage.

When she came to me white faced and red eyed to ask for water, I was shaking with the effort of holding her back physically and the mental effort of not losing control myself. I made her a large glass of ice water, and led her to the couch. I folded her grasshopper-long legs into my lap and wrapped her in a hug. I leaned my head against hers and whispered "I ALWAYS love you. Always. Even when there is screaming, I love you." She started sobbing again. We hugged for a while. Then I unfolded myself and went in to comfort poor Alec who had been awakened from his nap by all of the screaming. He had himself had been crying for quite some time, but I had been unwilling to let Lily Ruth out of my sight until she calmed down. *sigh*

Don made it home not too long after it was all over. It felt like an eternity. I was completely wiped out. We made (giant) cocktails in to-go cups and bundled everybody up for a walk. After a few minutes of banal pleasantries, I told Lily Ruth that we needed to talk about what happened.

I started with why and how it began. I walked her through the series of events and reminded her of each opportunity that I had given her to calm down and change her behavior. Don and I both talked about how opinions and emotions are both allowed, but temper tantrums are not appropriate ways to express either. We talked about the fact that a temper tantrum will NEVER (not even ONE time) cause Mama or Daddy to give in to a demand. I finished up by reminding her that the loss of candy and toys were a direct consequence of her actions, and asked her if she understood that...

"Yeah, but I get all my stuff back later." She skipped off to pick a weed.

Crap. All for naught?

"Actually, Boo, you will get three things back tomorrow, and we will talk about the rest of it later."


Ya'll, I don't think I am cut out for this. Is it too late to pack her off to boarding school or even sell her on etsy? That's right - etsy. I made her. She's handmade. Therefore, etsy instead of e-bay. I'll bet if I don't mention her propensity for tantrums, I could get a FORTUNE for her.

We made it home, and Lily Ruth retired to the back yard with Dottie Dog to play with the ridiculously over-sized stick that she had picked up on the walk. Soon, she had broken it into two, and was racing around the yard using them as comically large drumsticks.

"Mama! Come out here and listen to the noises that I am making! Do you like my sounds?"

Oh Baby Girl. I love them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Still A Mess

After yesterday's tirade, I still feel unsettled. Today has been at best, a difficult day and at worst a terrible day. Currently, it is fair to middling, but it ain't over yet.

Poor Don has a massive sinus infection and didn't sleep AT ALL last night, but he still left early to see the doctor and worked most of the day. Poor Alec is either teething or going through separation anxiety or both - whatever the cause, he is either ON me or crying. Actually, he is so miserable that sometimes he is crying even if I am holding him :-/ Poor Me is emotionally exhausted and physically a wreck - my arms and back ache from holding Alec so much, and my temper is on a hair trigger. Poor Lily Ruth is convinced that I am trying to pawn her off out of spite and that she is going to miss out on something. *sigh*

After Alec's morning nap, I attempted to corral the troops and get ready for a run to the grocery store. That weekly menu plan isn't going to shop for itself, people! I managed to dress Alec, style my hair and apply the only 2 cosmetics I have time for these days - concealer and mascara. I was attempting to dress myself when Alec crawled over to the dog water dish and soaked himself head to toe in less than 3 seconds. I shrieked at him which caused him to begin screaming in a truly epic fashion. I picked him up and apologized. He continued screaming. I stripped off his sopping wet clothing while crooning sweet things in his ear. He kept up the crying, and began rubbing impressive amounts of snot into the shirt that I had just barely managed to put on. I gave up and sat down to nurse him for the umpteenth time.

Since today was going so poorly, I called my (step)Dad and asked if he could take Lily Ruth to lunch. It was my intention to get her out of the House of Misery and give her some quality fun time with someone who loves her very much. Instead of seeing it that way, her first response was " 'out you, right?" (I love that despite her daily vocabulary and word usage growth, she still has a few Little Girl foibles in her speech! 'Out for without. Comote for remote...) When I confirmed that Alec and I would be staying home, she immediately balked and announced "that's not what I want to do." I dismissed her refusal, got her dressed and zipped her into her coat, but before we could get out to the car, she announced that she wasn't going to eat. She just wasn't hungry. I buckled her in to the carseat anyway, and waved as they drove away.

While I bounced and walked with Alec, I composed a scolding speech to Lily Ruth in my head. One that I knew that I wouldn't ever give, but I organized my thoughts nonetheless. I was inwardly ranting on and on about how important it is to spend time with family. How important it is to get to know them and to just be with them... then I stopped... because I felt like a total hypocrite. I spent yesterday convincing myself that I didn't need part of my family. That it wasn't important. That they weren't worth the emotional risk. So where do I really stand? Do I care or not? Will I risk or not?

Oh, Lawdy! I wish I had answers. I wish I felt stronger. I wish that I felt like a better version of myself. One who could push past years of little girl wishes and big girl disappointments and just be the bigger person who always does the right thing. That's who I want my babies to see me as.

Monday, January 27, 2014

In Which I Am A Mess

My brains are mush, ya'll. I am a mass of wildly swinging emotions, and all I want to do is sleep. No, I am most definitely NOT pregnant, so there's only one other thing that makes people act like this, right? Family.

My hope is that in writing and editing this, I can make some sort of sense out of the information I have, and how I feel about it.

My mom dropped an emotional bombshell on me last night. I love that woman. I love her deeply, madly, truly, fully... but DAMMIT! I have no idea if she is aware of this, but she drops bombs about my biological father and his family when I can't do anything about them. Like the time we went for pedicures. Two and a half hours side by side. Not a peep about anything 'heavy'. On the way home, she starts talking about how crazy busy the rest of her day is going to be. Two blocks from my house, she blurts out that my paternal grandmother has colo-rectal cancer, and it's always best to be aware that these things are lurking in our family trees. Then she basically shoves me out of the car at my door and races off down the street...

A bit of background: my parents married when my mother was 17, and my father was not much older. He was, however, being shipped off to Vietnam. While I was that age, I was working in restaurants, drinking too much, meeting my husband and making bad decisions that only impacted me. My dad was fighting a nasty, horrible war and jumping out of aircraft. My beautiful, feisty mother was alone on army bases far from everything she knew and trying to make a home out of everything she found. When he came back, things fell apart. They were divorced before I was born. My mom never said anything bad about my dad when I was growing up. He just wasn't around.

I met him for the first time when I was in high school. We ran into each other a few times in the next few years. He made it to my high school graduation, but not to my wedding. We never had direct contact, and eventually, my mother grew tired of playing go-between. She announced that if we wanted to communicate, we could buck up and do it ourselves. Neither of us seemed capable of figuring it out, so we let it drop.

Last May, just after Alec's birth, mama mentioned a call from him, but never said anything about it's content. Last night, as we stood in her kitchen making birthday dinner for the incredible man that I now call Dad, she leaned in and confided that she (the inveterate worrier) had "found something new to worry about." "Lay it on me" I belted out; confident that it had to do with Alec and something that we had failed to baby proof or are completely unprepared for - the field is vast as we are genuinely completely unprepared for a LOT of things. Instead, she told me that my paternal grandfather was diagnosed with congestive heart failure last May, and she hates to think that I might never meet him. "Do you think you might need to meet him?"

Wait, WHAT!?

She stirred the mushroom sauce and talked sotto-voice about how wonderful he is and where he is from. She mentioned that my dad has a half brother from his dad's second marriage who is also pretty great. I clutched my son and inwardly swooned.

"There might not be too much more time. Or maybe there is. What do you think?"

What do I think? I lost it a little bit. "What about the part where I'm FORTY YEARS OLD and none of these people have said a word to me!?" Why is this MY responsibility? Do they even want to talk to me? If so, why have they waited so long? It's not like I'm hard to find. "Shame," she said. "I think it's shame."

Some other portion of our family and our evening intervened, and we both let it drop.

I found a wine glass, and made it mine.

When we got back to our house, I started my rant. My poor husband. He of the toothache and case of exhaustion. He finally stopped me and said "I think that you have all of the dads and grandpas that you need." He hugged me and kissed the top of my head. Then he led me down the hall so we could put our children to bed.

I slept like a baby - up every hour, and restless in between.

As a child and a teen who had an occasionally adversarial relationship with her step-dad and two younger brothers that felt like two too many, I just knew that my dad would treat me differently. I had overblown fantasies of him coming to take me away and make me feel special. As a twenty-year-old, I decided that I had no need for this mysterious figure that I knew only through a handful of old photos and meetings that I could count on one hand. In my thirties, I found that I was no longer angry, but I wasn't interested in being the one to pursue a relationship, either.

So. Here I am. A forty-year-old, long-time married, mother of two. A planner and organizer. An avid reader. A novice writer. A teller of tales. A lover of ridiculous adventures. An excellent friend. A massage therapist. Pretty good at making things. Even better at cooking. Surrounded by those who love me.

And ya know what? This is where I choose to stand. I am not going to put myself out there and risk. Not this time. In this relationship, I am the child. I am the one they chose to walk away from. If they're so great, and I'm missing out, they can take the risk. If they choose to make the first move, I'm right here. In my nest of crazy love.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Week, New Plan

Menu plan, that is. I have more to say, but right now, it's Sunday night and I am too tired to post anything else...

Monday:  homemade pizzas

Tuesday:  Pork chops and Cauliflower Gratin

Wednesday:  Roasted chicken, quinoa and broccoli

Thursday:  Carnitas tacos and such

Friday:  family steak night

Saturday:  rigatoni with tiny meatballs

Sunday:  crapshoot...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fish Soup

I have no idea what brought this story to the front of my exhausted brain, but here it is...

When my younger brother Lucas was much younger than he is now, we lived in an "established" (read: not new or fancy or suburban) neighborhood. A nice little house with a backyard just right for make believe adventures and plastic splash pools.

Being an older house, it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. One winter, we had goldfish. Well, we probably had goldfish over more than just one winter, but this is a story about a particular instance of having goldfish in winter, not a log of goldfish-having experiences. This particular winter, Lucas was old enough to be really mobile, and to really think about things. One of the things he spent a good deal of time pondering was the goldfish bowl and it's occupants. To be fair, we all spent at least part of the day thinking about the fish as their bowl resided on the kitchen counter.

Our regular babysitter had also given some thought to our fish. She gave us a small heater for them. It perched on the lip of the bowl, and dangled into the water. We kept it's dial set between one and three, and it kept the fish water at a nice lukewarm temperature. One night, it got really cold. The kind of cold that we just don't get down here very often. The kind of cold that grown ups talk about all day. The cold became something that a small boy was giving a lot of thought to. Something that worried him mightily. By the time night rolled around, he was worried how the cold would affect the fish. He made a plan.

He crept out of his warm, snuggly bed and padded his little footed sleeper clad way into the kitchen. He carefully pushed a chair up to the counter, and contemplated the fish. He decided that yes, indeed, they were cold. He decided that this observation required action. He reached his tiny fingers up and turned the dial of the fishbowl heater up and up and up again. He may or may not have turned it all of the way to eleven. Then he maybe (just maybe) gave the bowl a satisfied pat or two and (definitely) climbed carefully down. Then that sweet, thoughtful, sleepy boy made his way back to his bed.

We woke up the next morning to a fishbowl of roiling, boiling water, and two very warm fish.


On a completely unrelated fish note, we went to the zoo yesterday. Alec D is as much in love with petting goldfish as his big sister is. He holds as much of his arms as he can reach into the pond and waits for the fish to come up and lip his fingers gently. When they do, he hoots excitedly, bounces like crazy and splashes like mad.