Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just another Saturday night

It's not that I don't think a new year isn't full of possibilities but when you have two little ones in the house, haven't had a decent night's sleep for awhile and your husband has to work on Sunday morning, there isn't a whole lot to get excited about for a New Year's Eve that falls on a Saturday night! Big Love and I have both said a few times today that we really don't care that it is new Year's Eve right now (and we have no more plans than we would on any other evening in the week.) Looking around at our little Christmas tree and the other few decorations we have lingering to remind us that Christmas was only a week ago, my thoughts are more consumed by Sweet One's third birthday that is a week from today. I started a dress for her which I need to finish up and then I have to figure out what to serve alongside the hotdogs and cake so the adults have something to eat, too. I barely had time to breathe from doing all my Christmas preparations!

I do have some hopes for the New Year (and I hope they don't get up too high!).

Perhaps my children will let me sleep a bit more and that these stages that we always have to go through might not rock the boat so much. I want to continue to raise my children in a way that I can be proud of and that will help them be the amazing little people that I see when I look at them.

I really hope that the 3% raise Big Love is getting manages to feel like it helps out despite the 15-20% increase in our medical deductibles that will follow in its wake (and this whole inflation thing!). And if things don't feel any easier, I would like to deal with them better and not begin to lose my mind every time the end of the month comes around and we haven't saved enough to be able to go on a vacation at some point.

I would really like to not feel so gross - maybe I can find a little bit more time for me to exercise and to take care of myself. Learning to not take my tired crankiness out on others would be a good thing to learn this year. If I could figure out a way to let things go more and not self-flagellate over the past I'm sure that would help my new year be more enjoyable. To learn to let people be who they are, even if it means I have to let go.

And finally, to give myself a break now and again.

Happy New Year! Whether you have big plans or little, I hope you enjoy putting up a new calendar.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite time of night

In a few minutes I will be enjoying one of my favorite times of the day - bedtime. Or should I say, the few minutes before I crawl into bed. I go into Sweet One's room and check on her. Lately it isn't always as interesting as it used to be when I could find her in any position, sprawl either which way across the bed. Now, she's usually sleeping all snug in her bed. I make sure she has her covers on and then I sneak out and go to our room.

Walking into our room, I place my tongue in the perfect spot and then cross my third and fourth toes as I try to make it into my bed without waking up Little Man. His crib is still in our room and sometimes we wake him up. Other times he sleeps soundly through our entrances and after I am comfy in my bed, I do not full exhale until I hear a few sounds from him.

***
Big Love and I had a short chat tonight. I'll be ok. We'll be ok. One day I might get a stroller when he figures out just how to go about it! I guess I should be happy that I never got a broiling pan as that was what his mother got her first Christmas with my FIL!

No Santa for Mama

It's Boxing Day today. (Yes, I know it's just the day after Christmas here in the states but it's one more Canadianism I'm not willing to give up!) Sweet One and I just got back from a walk where she pushed her baby in the new stroller all the way. It was pretty cute to watch. She kept up a pretty good pace, not stopping to look at things around but determined to simply go for a walk. She's pretty excited about that gift and I think I'm safe in saying it is one of her favorites, along with the train set that Santa brought for her and Little Man. Unfortunately, the train set has been taken apart and is sitting out of her sight until tonight as I desperately try to impress upon her that it is not ok to bite her brother. My hopes were so high after a full 15 days where no biting took place. But today is day 5 of back to biting and I'm feeling crushed.

That's the thing for me when I get my hopes up. If I take the chance and hope that something might be where I'd ideally like it and then doesn't attain this, I'm crushed. Take for instance that moment when all the gifts are opened and I never got my 'stroller'. After spending every evening since Thanksgiving preparing Christmas for my loved ones, I have again fallen victim to hoping Santa might be able to figure out something that I'd be so excited to have that I'd be ready to take it for a walk rather than just grabbing a few things off my amazon wish list. Maybe I'm at fault because part of the reason I keep my amazon list is to remind myself of books that are recommended or to keep track of larger items in case they go on sale. But it's also not like I'm expecting something big and shiny because in the end, I'm a simple girl. As I alternate between to pairs of cheap jeans each day and outwardly express how jealous I am of all the nice clothes my daughter has, it would have meaned the world to me to get a piece of paper with "you get a nice new pair of jeans" scribbled on it. I've been known to remark how funny it is that the leather gloves I wear were left behind in my voice studio seven years ago by someone who didn't want them back because they had a few holes in them. A few holes? I guess I don't care. But I do. I don't go out and buy those kind of things for me because I don't feel like we can afford them and that I can make do, but I'm starting to feel embarrassed about how sloppy I look.

I always hope that after spending so much time perusing the internets trying to find just the right gifts that might bring a little smile of surprise to my nearest and dearest I would not end up feeling like an after thought.  I was silly enough that Santa would have pieced together a few of my not-so-subtle "why are my children dressed better than me" moments. But I also feel like an asshole when I am tearing up thinking of all the nice clothes everyone else in my house got when there are people out there who would have given anything for even a portion of what I did get. I guess I have a lot of growing up to do. But for now, I'll just try to be a better person tomorrow as I attempt to hide the back fat that keeps peeking out from under this shirt I'm wearing because none of the four shirts and three or four sweaters I alternate between are all in the wash.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (I hope!)

We only have two more Advent presents to open up! Sweet One has really enjoyed reading the stories and eating the chocolates. Christmas is almost here and everyone in this little family is enjoying it as best we can.

Sweet One has slept passed 630 for four days in a row - the last two it was 700! She's been acting a little funny the past two days and I think she's fighting something off and so I hope it doesn't make Christmas too much for her. We decorated the tree yesterday and with each 'ormament' she saw there were oooh's and ahhh's. A nice way to feel the magic of the season through a little one's eyes. After her nap yesterday afternoon, she came downstairs, knelt by the tree and just looked at it. Lots of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas and lots of other television specials have been watched. It's been fun!

Little Man has given me 4 days of decent sleep and so I am feeling the best I've felt in a month or so. He's so busy these days. I think it is time to put away the exersaucer because he really doesn't like staying put. Constantly pulling himself up to standing and grabbing everything that he can see. I'm feeling much busier making sure there is nothing dangerous for him. He does tumble every now and then but we're both surviving with no major injuries! I was worried about putting up the tree but he hasn't reached for it at all - maybe we'll be able to keep it up for more than a few days!

Big Love won't be able to spend much time with us until the afternoon of Christmas Day. I'm having trouble not feeling lonely about this. I married the guy knowing this would happen each and every year, unless he decides to change career paths, but up until Sweet One was born I was involved in all the church stuff, too. I'm going to watch Crazy, Stupid, Love once the presents are under the tree and the stockings have been stuffed. I also think I'll make some mulled wine. Eventually the kids will be bigger and they'll be involved with the happenings at church, too, so it won't feel like we're at home on our own.

We managed to keep to a small budget for Christmas but that hasn't stopped the gifts from piling up. I did want to buy a little more for the kids but there was no point after everything that our family has bought for them! It is really insane and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by how much they will have. I'll be curious to see if Sweet one wants to go through all the presents as fast as possible or play with each one a little like she did last year. Luckily we'll all be together until around 1030 so we can enjoy some time opening them up together.

I did end up getting a new iPod nano! It showed up today and I'm so excited!

I've been having some troubles feeling like it is Christmas. There is no snow on the ground but we did have some flakes in the sky for awhile this morning. With each little moment that Sweet One becomes enraptured by what she sees, I'm feeling a little bit more of what it is all about.

Merry Christmas! I hope that yours has many moments that make the season magical.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Sound of Silence

I never used to do well with silence. Going from High School to dorms at University, silence was pretty rare. As life moved on I felt uncomfortable with too much silence. Living on my own for four years I would either have the TV or music on to fill the air. I'm not too sure why that is. There's a big chance that I wasn't comfortable enough with myself and having to listen to too much going on in my head.

The first time my in-laws visited us Big Love had to work while they were here which left me with the job of entertaining them. They don't talk a whole lot and I found myself squirming in my seat to try and figure out if it was because they just liked the quiet from time to time or if they were not enjoying themselves. And so I rambled on and on and on (slam head against wall) because I simply didn't know what I was supposed to do. Silence by myself was one thing, silence with two other people I wasn't completely comfortable with was a whole other challenge!

More and more I am now finding myself loving the quiet. If I luck out enough to have a few quiet moments to myself in the day it isn't hard for me to just sit and drink my decaf coffee. Nothing really on my mind. I move only enough to raise my orange up to my lips. My skin tingles like it does when I'm falling asleep. I have no problem slowing down my brain. When I feel like I'm slogging through mud every day, it's nice to stop and give in to the weight of my tired mind and body.

***
On a very different note, the mail brought us notices to say that our status has been adjusted to permanent resident. This is such great news for us. No more worrying, nausea, fear of being deported or anything else like that that goes along with being on a temporary visa.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My wish list for Apple

Prior to moving this rural town, my day job involved selling higher end comfort shoes at a store owned by church members. Every once in awhile the particular brands would run contests for who could sell the most of their shoes and then for every so many pairs sold, your name would go into a draw. Just before we moved one of these contests was going on and I laughed at my chances of winning an iPod nano and JBL speaker donut as a few of my co-workers had with the previous contest. I left the job and forgot all about the contest.

A few months after we arrived here, I received a package that contained none other than a first generation iPod nano and JBL speaker donut! I couldn't believe it! The manager at the store stuck with his promise and mailed it to me!

Over the past six months or so I've been wanting a new iPod because Big Love bent mine a little (when Sweet One was less than a year old and so it has been working fine since) and I can't put anything else on it. I hadn't been able to get one and was a little sad but then one morning I opened my email and to my surprise, I had an email from Apple telling me that I qualified for a replacement due to a problem with the battery! I was so excited.

When the box arrived, I went to find my iPod on the shelf where I put it since the instructions said to stop using it and I was shocked because something funky went on. I couldn't believe it! But I decided to send it in anyway, hoping that perhaps the problem that happened was part of the reason they are recalling these old guys!

I also thought a little good humor might help me out and so I included this letter:


To the person who is opening up this box,

Hello! I wanted to provide an explanation as to why I am sending you my iPod when it looks as mangled as it does.

I have been using this iPod since I registered it (I'm assuming that you have that date on record ) sometime in the fall of 2006. I used it until the day I received my email from you to stop using it. Except for a small dent on the back there was nothing wrong with it. I have used it every night since my daughter was born January 7, 2009 for her to have her lullabies at night. (She has been asking where the music is since I've had to stop using it and I told her that someone will give a new one to the mailman.)

After receiving the email from Apple and learning that my iPod was eligible for replacement I first got very excited (I may have even danced a little) because I had been wanting to buy a new one but various circumstances made it impossible. Then I took my iPod and put it in a safe place away from the sun, water, children or anything else that could have damaged it.

When the box arrived for me to send the iPod back to you I was shocked to find the iPod in the current state that it is. I promise you I have no idea what happened to it. It had been working fine up until the day I received the email to send it back despite the small dent I mentioned before. I almost cried when I picked it up and it looked as it does. I have no idea what happened to it but it did happen while it was sitting on a shelf and not being touched or even looked at by anyone.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season.

It truly did not look like that when I stopped using it. I haven't received an email telling me I won't be receiving a new one. So here's hoping for a little Holiday Magic!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Read it! She's awesome

I love reading Woulda Coulda Shoulda. Quite honestly, if Mir wrote a manual on anything - especially being a great mom, I'd be the first in line. And then I'd tell her how much I love her writing and how much Otto reminds me of Big Love and how so much of her 'crazy' I can completely relate to. But I'd probably annoy her and she'd put a restraining order on me and then I'd desperately try to convince her that I'm not a psycho, I just don't have a lot of friends who get me where I live and in my dreams I will move somewhere and find a friend who is all kinds of awesome just like her.

But if I throw myself back to reality, I'll just keep reading her blog, and gleaning from it the wisdom that I so often find. Especially when she writes stuff like this with a Norman Rockwell reference that is absolutely spot on. Even Big Love thinks so.

And now back to my amazingly happy baby who had a brilliant sleep last night and a great nap this morning and is now nothing but a ball of "how the hell did I get so lucky for this Little Man to be my son"!

A simple Advent tradition is begun

I can't think of the word tradition without going back to my perch on the rooftop, fiddle in hand, as the play started. We had to omit the fun little transitional part between verses due to the incompetence of the pianist but it quickly became a song that drove me nuts. Now I chuckle as I think of simpler times.

Traditions are important and Sweet One is at the age where I can start some with her. She is catching on quickly to so many things. One question I've been asking myself these days is how to instill in my kids and understanding that Christmas is more than just the presents we buy. Another is how do I start to teach my child about being Christian. (That is the choice we have made for our lives and I believe it is more than just taking them to church.)

I wanted to start a simple Advent tradition this year. I learned about this from one of the blogs I frequent and decided that I wanted to use it. It took a lot of cutting and folding before I could put in a few m&m's along with one Hershey's kiss, but I am so happy that I did it.

Sweet One quickly learned that we wait until just before she goes to bed. Tea is made (this wasn't planned but it came about when she asked for tea on December 2) and I lift her up so she can take hold of the evening's present. Last night as Big Love was going to get our tea, Sweet One looked at me and said, "yesterday we had number 3." I was so happy that she remembered - she is catching on so quickly! And so she retrieved December 4 and said, "Oh! my favorite treat" as I poured the goods in her hand. (I need to replace some of the hard candies with more kisses because she didn't like them.) She savored each morsel and then we sat down to read the short story for that night. (I am really enjoying the book I got for this.)

I didn't expect her to grasp all of this so quickly. Seeing her find the magic in each of these little moments, I hope that I can let go of my feelings of inadequacy and help my kids understand what is truly important at this time of year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I don't want to keep up .... and yet

I've been struggling a little bit with things over the past few days. Unfortunately, it may be all whine because I think at the base of it all is my sleep deprivation caused by the inability to get Little Man to sleep for more than five hours at a time during the night. Coupled with an unexpected part of potty training being middle of the night calls from the room next door of "I have to pee", I'm starting to fall apart a wee bit. I've tried for quite some time to not let the lack of sleep get to me and have focused on getting through the day without any real downtime by myself (save some time first thing in the morning when Big Love takes the kids so I can try and scrape the crust from my eyes).

But it is our finances that get to me. We live on a modest salary and for the most part I am proud of how I've been able to make that work for us. (I know damn well that we are better off than many but for some reason I am still frustrated.) Ever since Little Man has been with us it has been harder to stay within our budget and I don't really understand why. With one car, no cell phones, mostly cloth diapering and maybe going to a fast food restaurant once a month, I just don't know where it goes. Then my brain starts to move into a place where I fear that if we ever had to do with less we'd be screwed and I become afraid that our situation will never improve. That I will always be counting every penny we spend, trying to keep our monthly spending within our means and never being able to save any money for anything! (The ability to save enough for airfare to visit our family is a bit of a joke right now.)

What gets me on top of this is envy. I am so envious of people who don't have to worry about things as much - or at least give the outwardly appearance that they don't. I get jealous of the gifts my brother in law sends to my house for me to then ship to him for my sister's Christmas present. They are beautiful and, in my world, very expensive. By the time he pays for the shipping he will have spent on this one gift, as much as I will spend on all three members of my family combined for Christmas. I hate being jealous! It's stupid! I would never dare to wish for something that costs more than $100 if it would only be used by me. There's just no point because we can't afford it.

The cry in my head goes out that THIS IS ALL STUPID! I have a healthy family, a roof over my head, food on my plate, all our bills are paid and I still can't be fully happy. I really don't want big expensive things. The Jones' don't really matter to me. I only want it to be a little easier to save a few nickels at the end of the month. To feel like we are getting ahead and that one day we'll be able to retire and not become a financial burden on our children. I know that the small amount we spend at Christmas on our family is a good lesson to teach them - that it is not about draining the bank accounts. There are children near us that do not get anything and I want to be able to give to them as well.

My stupid brain. How I desperately wish I could have a few nights of decent sleep. I know that would help. I can't even seem to get them if I pray and beg for them. I will try to be happy with what I have. Maybe one day I'll get there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All smiles and snuggles

Little Man is great. Despite the fact that he likes to wake me up twice a night to eat, he doesn't make my life more difficult at all. He's not fussy and seems to be quite content watching what other people are doing. He's old enough now that if I haven't been holding him for awhile and he gets fussy, he squeezes me a little extra when I first pick him up. I love it.

And yet I wonder .... so many moms talk about how their little boys become devils. Seems to me, from what I heard and the little bit of time I spent with my nephew, he was very much like this. And then he became the devil as perhaps little boys are wont to do.

As I sit here and type this, my little boy is lifting his bum high into the air as he tries to figure out how to crawl. He does quite well getting to where he wants. Then he finds a little toy Smurf, lifts it up and smiles. In a few months, I'm wondering if he is going to be throwing it across the room and breaking the window rather than just trying to eat it.

For now, I'll go and smother him in kisses because he can't run away from me yet!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grocery Aisle Dancing

Sweet One wanted to come grocery shopping with me this afternoon and since that is usually the norm, I was ready to go. We only needed one stop (I had an hour of shopping yesterday without any kids with me! Miracle of miracles!) to grab a few more items and so we went to a small, locally owned grocery store. The average shopper here is often using their cart as walker. It's almost a joke that they have one Senior Citizen parking spot when only one spot in the parking long isn't used by a senior.

Have you ever seen Little Bear? It's an old school kids program put out by Nick Jr. and based upon a children's book series written in the 50's. My friend loaned it to us and unfortunately, Sweet One loves the DVD filled with nine minute stories. In one of her favorites it has a repetitive song that any preschooler could compose consisting of things to do. I'm not a hundred percent sure of the lyrics, but this gives you an idea:
Little Bear, Little Bear sing a song,dance along,touch your toes,wiggle your hips,do back flips,fall to the ground ...
Sweet One loves this and will do it over and over. And today I learned that she even loves to do it in the grocery store! Asking her to stop spinning and walk so that she wouldn't crash into other people's carts was of no use. Luckily, these old people loved watching her. "She's just dancing." They maneuvered around her moment of "fall to the ground" better than they can steer their vehicles in and out of the parking lot! One woman particularly enjoyed my comment of, "stop spinning you crazy kid!" (I did say this with good humor and I was in no way using an annoyed voice.)

One of these days all I'm going to get is rolled eyes and "Mom! You're embarrassing me!" when I'm out grocery shopping with my little girl!

Note: I was motivated to share this story after reading All & Sundry. Is imitation the best form of flattery? I don't know. But I was smiling about her dancing six hours later and thought I'd go for it. Luckily, the only thing I was missing after my shopping trip was cold leaf lard. Partially due to the fact that I don't know what the hell it is!

Lightning Wish List

Today is the first day that I become almost obsessed with watching the lightning deals on amazon. I have a small list of things I'd like to find at great prices which include: a Kitchenaid Food Processor, a 32 or 37" TV, and a printer (because this new computer is not working with our old printer). A fairly modest list but I'll still be watching until all this lightning mania is over. Also add to that a few Christmas gifts for my kids.

But there's another reason why I watch the deals so much - because it blows my mind some of the things that are out there that people buy! And sometimes they come with a huge price tag and I have no idea why people would ever have need of some of the weird things that pop up, but it is good for a laugh from time to time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My best friend's birthday was on Wednesday and for the first time since I have known her, I was unable to hear her voice as I wished her a Happy Birthday. She has a job that makes her travel and, unfortunately, she was traveling on her big day. I hope she got the email I sent into the abyss that can be the internets while her card makes its way to her by land.

I still sometimes wonder how we both made such a big move five years ago and ended up only 8 hours of driving apart. I absolutely loved going to visit her in that fancy Canadian city. Sweet One and I took the train up there once and there were other trips to visit that I will never forget. Not being in the same time zone anymore kinda sucks ass.

I hope she was able to find a few moments to enjoy despite starting a work trip that day. And I hope that her hubby celebrated her day (or will once she is home) in the wonderful way they do.

If things work out as Big Love and I are wanting them to, we'll be moving to a bigger center in time for Sweet One to start kindergarten and I can only hope that it will end up putting my friend and I closer together.

Happy birthday, dear friend. You are an amazing person, friend and auntie. I'm pretty sure you know all the other blubbering I am capable of when I think of how much you mean to me, so I'll spare you for now! (And I'm sorry for sucking and not getting you your birthday present yet!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Purpose

When I've been striving to do something but never finding the exact words, it is wonderful to come across them in someone's FB status. And I shall aim to read this to start each and every day.
The real purpose of life is love. Love is our very essence, the all which created us and is us. This day I will work to remove that which blocks my love from flowing freely. I will learn to love myself and I will liberally share my love with others. I will be kind, understanding and compassionate. I will make love a daily focus and priority in my life, and I will try to fill every moment of my life and yours with love. I will tell you how much I love you as often as I can. - "Principles of Being" by Austin Vickers

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Letting go and moving on

Three and a half years ago I made a decision to cut my father out of my life. I had struggled since my teenage years with his emotional abuse and his complete inability to take responsibility for his anger. He phoned at Christmas for the first few years and I took his phone call but other than that, the only communication we have is when I send him his birthday card and Christmas present.

There are moments when I wish I could have made a different decision but for my own mental health I had no other choice. Having children has only made my decision stronger as I do not trust him around them. Big Love and I decided to state in our will that my father is not allowed to be with my children unsupervised, even if I am dead.

I know I have tried to post about this in the past but was never ready. I went back into my drafts to see what was there and this is what I found. I am ready now. By posting it, I hope to let go more.


September 4, 2009
If I've ever understood the idea of an albatross around my neck, it was him. Casting shadows of anger and sadness through everything I did. I hope that one day there will be so much sunlight and the shadow will be obliterated. Without being able to do this I will not be able to find my own path. Without being able to find it, how will I ever teach Sweet One to have the courage to find her own?

His anger may have defined my past but it does not have to define my present or my future. There is a little girl asleep in her crib and she will wake up with the biggest smile on her face for me. Me! Of all the people in the world, I am the lucky one who gets to be her mother. To help her have the best childhood she possibly can and to watch her grow into the woman she will one day be. This is the present and future that matters. 

I hate it that there are moments where I am sucked into the past where I did not feel free to be who I am. I was afraid that I would anger him and that would result in being screamed at, with hisspit accumulating on my face ... or worse. "Because it stung good" was the reason there was a foot long, plastic shoe horn hanging in the utility room. His inability to deal with anger or confrontation is why I still get sick each time of think of it - my stomach turns, I get dizzy and my chest tightens. At the age of 31 I no longer want his anger to have such power over my life.

The bookends to our visits were often a bottle of wine and huge amounts of anxiety. The person to blame was always me, or so he said. The last time I was voluntarily in a room with him he directed the conversation solely to my husband. When I tried to be involved his reaction was one of annoyance. After my sister and brother had joined us neither Big Love nor I were involved in the conversation. My husband is a man of few words but when I heard him say, "That was bad," I knew it wasn't all in my head. As I left the house it was final - I was done. Done being the one to blame and done putting myself in a position where I would leave feeling like shit.

Almost ten years ago I mentioned in passing how I got a lot more beatings than my sister or brother. His response was this : "When i0t's your first child and you're at your wits end, what do you do?" Me? If I ever feel like I am too angry to react in a respectful manner to my child I will leave the room. Take some responsibility for my own actions and then return to finish dealing with the situation. But a complete lack of responsibility in any relationship he has is MO. Three years before his second marriage failed he told me that if it were to end, it would be the fault of her daughter. Really? A stepdaughter can decide whether a marriage is a success or fails?

And so each day I do my best to let go of the hurt and the anger that is left. My father will never truly hear what I have to say. I have tried so many times to get him to hear me since I was just a wee child and it has never worked. But I refuse to let him blame me. I refuse to allow the kind of violence his anger can produce to be near my daughter. One day down the road it is possible that I will let him in our lives but not now.

Prior to becoming pregnant I spent months grieving for a little girl who was wounded from her father's violent outbursts. No matter what I did it was never good enough and if I pushed him far enough he would scream until his spit covered my face, or even worse, beat me until I screamed in agony and humiliation - unable to sit down because of my burning ass. Recalling them immediately makes me sick to my stomach as the little girl inside of me desperately tries to hide.


There are moments in my mothering where I feel overcome by anger but I am proud to say that I do leave the room. I have never hit my daughter, nor will I ever. I have yelled but never directly in her face and I always apologize. I still have a ways to heal my own wounds but I know I can get there. There are moments when I hold my children and I feel sad that he does not know them. But quickly after this thought, I try to figure out how anyone could ever harm a child and I know my decision is the one that I needed to make.

It was good for me to read this post this morning (and the link in the post). To help me understand that I am not alone in my struggles with this relationship. While we all get to a difficult place in different ways, it all sucks. But we don't have to let it continue ... we can do better for our own children.

Perhaps one day I will allow him into our lives, but not until I know he has taken some measures to deal with his issues and his anger. But he is a child and behaves as one in many situations. So I'm not expecting any miracles any time soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It won't last forever

Efedents and Poka nots! That's what my days are made of. Or as the rest of us say, elephants and polka dots!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sometimes you just have to back off!

I've been wracking my brain trying to find something that would strongly motivate her to poop in the potty or to just trust what others have been telling me, that she'll figure it out when she's ready. I'm not very patient and I just wanted this stage of things over and done with. But my attempts to persuade her turned me into a rabid asshole and were also unsuccessful.

I just didn't understand why she wouldn't do it. She knew when to tell her poop to return whence it came and she was completely capable of running to a hiding spot and taking care of business.

As pretty much every other day, we were across the street playing at our friend's house. Grabbing at her butt once in awhile, we asked Sweet One if she wanted to go home and poop in the potty. "No, thank you!" she tell us in the most cheerful of voices. (If there's anytime good manners can grate on ones nerves, it is this!) A few moments later she is beelining it to get underneath the slide in time. Her favorite place. And just as quickly as she disappeared, she returned requesting a bum change.

And what's a little salt in the wound? She repeated her performance about twenty minutes later!

My friend suggested that I back off completely for a few weeks. No prompting and no encouraging. Just let her be. With only my sanity at stake, I wondered if it was just what we needed.

Every day we'd go without a poop, I'd get more anxious about dealing with it later on. Every time she'd show signs of needing to go, I'd be stressed out and disappointed before I even asked her to sit on the potty. Something did need to change. And indeed it did when I least expected it.

Big Love didn't return her to training pants after the second bum change and so Sweet One was hanging out with a bare bum. She started grabbing at it a bit like before and the only thing I did was make her wash her hands. My chest was getting tighter wondering how things were going to play out, but I made myself keep my trap shut.

Little Man and I were in the living room, Big Love was doing dishes and Sweet One was doing her own things. I'm not sure what it was. The next thing I knew, Sweet One announced, "I did it! I pooped in the potty!" I wasn't sure what to think and as I ran to the bathroom to see what was going on, I was also looking on the floor to make sure I didn't step in any droppings. But sure enough, there was poop in that there potty!

My daughter pooped on the potty with no prompting from anyone. It was her decision and her very own accomplishment. I didn't really have anything to do with it and I think it is better this way!

Now if you'll excuse me, there are no cold beer in the house and so I'm going to watch Terra Nova instead. (And I promise that I will not type the word poop in this here blog for awhile.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beef Roast - Take 1

While I do enjoy cooking I don't have a huge passion for it. I aim for healthy food that is tasty and I try to make different things because eating the same thing over and over gets really annoying! These days, it is more difficult to get supper made when I have kids getting fussy, melting down and demanding more attention at the same time! We rarely eat out especially when having two wee ones makes it impossible to sit and enjoy our meal.

But all that aside, there are a few dishes that I want to learn to make well. I guess their sort of like my holy grails of cooking because so far I have not been able to make one to my liking. A juicy, flavorful roast beef accompanied by yorkshire puddings is one of them.

Just before our vacation I bought the October issue Every Day with Rachel Ray and really like it. I've made a few recipes and they turned out good so I thought that I give her method of making a roast a try. (And I've since got myself a two year subscription. It seems like a nice replacement for the chatelaine and Canadian Living magazines that are just. too. expensive. to have sent down here. I miss them very much, especially at this time of year when they're coming out with all their holiday baking issues.)

When I was at the grocery store I noticed that a bottom round roast of Angus beef was on sale and so I thought that it should work. I even asked the butcher guy because, frankly, I'm a little clueless on which cuts are good for roasts. Especially because the States uses different terms than Canada. I had forgotten that recipe stated to get a rib roast and when I got home I was talking with a guy whose family raises cattle and he told me that bottom round was just another word for rump roast. Good lord, I know that the ass cut doesn't make a nice roast for how I wanted to cook it.

But I got it started anyway. After 15 minutes on 475 and another 15 on 375 there was no moisture at all coming from the roast, so along with my parsnips and carrots I added a cube of beef bouillon dissolved in a cup of water.

In the end, I did manage to get it medium rather than well done but it was tough and the flavor was lacking. I had no time for Yorkshire Puddings. It looked much prettier than it tasted.


An extra, completely unexpected bonus we did encounter was that Sweet One ate her roasted potatoes and the roast! She hasn't eaten beef like this EVER!

I'm thinking that next time I need to not cheap out and just spend some money on a rib roast. We'll see how that works.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crappy Mothering

I've been struggling over the past few days. I desperately want Sweet One to be potty trained and seem to be completely devoid of patience.

The biggest problem is when she says, "Get back in there, poop!" Seriously? A kid who can feel her poop on its way out and then commands it to stay inside can't just decide to go and put it where it belongs? I was feeling like things were coming to a head Sunday night when Sweet one spent over an hour crying due to her discomfort. I started getting my hopes up that eventually she would decide to go and it would be that moment. The moment the switch flips and we finish the process of potty training.

But nothing happened that day. And so the next I spoke to another woman who had gone through this with her child. Her instructions were to basically sit the kid on the potty and make her go. Well, to make a long story short, we had two days of some screaming, hitting and biting that resulted in some success. She was proud of what she did and I got optimistic. But on the third day we ended up with me running into the kitchen screaming and Sweet One throwing her potty across the room. Not something I am proud of. I was so frustrated and cried while I held my 7 month old baby boy. Sweet One didn't like it that I was crying and told me so by slapping me across the face.

I want to relax and calmly wait for the day Sweet One decides to go in the potty for this. As the doctor once said, and my friend recently reminded me, 'you can't make them go poop in the potty'. Well, for a brief moment I thought I could .... and then I learned how completely wrong I was.

This morning I went to the moms group and sat at a table. Three other women were talking about potty training and I am not alone. Sometimes the words I need to hear aren't in the formal 'lesson' that we hear at these meetings but in the conversations that surround me. "It's probably one of those things where in 6 months I'll be wondering why I got so worried about it. It just isn't worth it."

So I will try hard. I will listen to those around me who say that one day it will all click. She'll just decide to do it. And I desperately hope that I will stop feeling like I am failing as a mother because Sweet One isn't potty trained yet.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm a Mom and it's all about the glamour

"Get back in there poop!" my daughter says after not pooping for at least four days.

I know eventually things will just click for her and it will all be wonderful but right now I'm at my wits end. And not because she won't shit in the toilet but because she spent an hour crying, screaming and flailing because she is so uncomfortable.

And next Sunday we have a time change. Last year the time change caused months of her waking up way too early.

Parenting is glamorous. I'm gonna start having people call me Marilyn Monroe.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hush little Mum-mum don't say a word

Sweet One was having troubles fall asleep tonight after an exciting evening of getting jacked up on her pink pumpkin full of candy. From what Big Love said she had SO much fun. I was feeding her brother when she came home stuffing a peanut butter cup in her face as she told me that she was home.

I started bedtime with her around 730. (I'm trying to slowly move her time clock later with the hopes that the time change won't be the beginning of months when 500 is her usual time to wake up!) At 815 I left her room, five minutes later I heard her singing and then around 830 she was calling for me so I crawled in with her.

Once in awhile I really don't mind it if she needs me to help her relax a little bit. I'm not going to have these moments forever!

A few minutes after she settled down she reached over and rubbed my cheek to make sure I was still there. It tickled a little.

What I didn't love was that I can't remember exactly what time I crawled in with her which also means I have no idea how long I fell asleep for! It was probably only a few minutes but these days a few minutes at the wrong time of day will make the rest of my night completely messed up. Too bad I didn't just pass out and stay there sleeping peacefully for the rest of the night!

But really, I'm going to remember her little fingers on my cheek more than a few lost hours of sleep!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our skies were blue

The weather ended up absolutely gorgeous and we were able to spend so much time outside! Sweet One absolutely loved going fishing - with a stick and a piece of red yarn tied to the end. (This is how Big Love learned to fish and I call it "fishing with no hope in hell of catching anything".) She also loved running around to her heart's desire!


While I will have many memories of walking outside with the kids, I will also remember how much I loved the quiet. I used to find silence hard to handle for too long but this time around I loved it. It seemed to recharge me. While Little Man slept in the morning, Big Love and Sweet One went on adventures as I read a magazine and drank my Americano. With no chores looming I felt like I could truly turn off my brain and not worry about a thing! There was more quiet as the kids napped in the afternoon (although Little Man had troubles sleeping at this time of day).

Big Love and I filled our short time between the kids going down and us going to sleep with conversation. Usually we fill it with tv shows so it was nice to realize that we can still carry on a conversation between the two of us for more than five minutes! As long as the conversation didn't require me to speak as I was counting the stitches in Little Man's blanket it was nice to reconnect!

Something that really surprised me was my own energy levels during our time at the park. While I was getting woken up two to four times a night, I was get out of bed much earlier and didn't feel like crap all day. I don't fully understand this and hoped that perhaps I could carry it on once I got home (I usually go back to bed until around 8 while Big Love watches the kids so I can catch up on some of the lost zzz's). Big Love reminded me that someone once told me that this town has a lower energy than others. I'm interested in learning more about why this is (and what it is) but at this point all I know is that it does affect me. We've noticed this on other trips as well. (Quite a princess I can be!)

As we drove home it didn't take long to realize that during our time away we had missed out on gray, drizzly skies. In the end, it was a great trip. We did have cheesecake, but it was just from the freezer section of the fabulous Target we stopped at on the way. It had a St. Arbucks inside! That's definitely my kind of combination! AND I finally managed to get to a Sonic Drive-In! I've wanted to go to one of those since we first crossed the border 5 years and 3 months ago! I had no idea there was one by the Target and so within two hours of being away from home I felt like I already had a great trip!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Because it made me chuckle

We needed to figure out our route to the USCIS office and so I sent him to the car to retrieve the map. Returning very quickly and empty handed he says, "There's a large animal out there! I heard it walking." And these are the pictures I had to take!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

One vacation a year, and it looks like shitty skies

Sadly, it has been a year since I've posted about vacations and that is because we haven't gone anywhere since. Tomorrow we will be leaving for the same state park as last year, sans cheesecake and I am having a few troubles finding any optimism for our stay. The weather will be similar. Drizzly days that are not very warm. Yes, I know that packing up and going to a cabin in October means taking a risk that the weather will suck ass, but last week at it was magnificent! We will be staying one day less than last year but that is probably better since we have a wee baby with us. (Then again, he's not so wee as he weighed in at 18lbs 9oz on Tuesday. I've now started calling him my little moose!)

In anticipation of crappy weather and being stuck in a cabin far too long I just finished making some supplies to keep Sweet One as demonstrative of her name as possible.
A play-dough recipe from my mom that never seems to have enough flour so I need to almost double it.
and some noodles soaked in rubbing alcohol (the fumes almost got a little too fun!) and food coloring that she can string onto yarn.

On the way home we have to stop in the nearby big city to give USCIS our fingerprints. (We've only been waiting for these appointments since the end of June!) I am hoping to be cleaned up and out the cabin door early so we can stop for breakfast and then get to either the Zoo or a Children's Museum. Again, weather permitting but I'm REALLY hoping we can do the Zoo because they have three different types of penguins and Sweet One is in love with penguins these days!

Maybe I'll be lucky and the weather will change bringing us brilliant skies and lots of outdoor adventures. But if it doesn't, wish me luck!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Being Thankful

It's the Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and even though I didn't make any pumpkin pie (opting rather to go to the park with the kids), we enjoyed turkey, roasted compost butternut squash and roasted potatoes.

My son ... he wakes me up multiple times a night, and in the morning I am not sure if I'm going to make it through the day without collapsing into a ball of exhaustion. But somehow I do. His smiles and giggles are enough to make up for the lack of sleep. And really, he's just hungry. I have a healthy boy who is slowly earning the nickname Little Moose because he is growing so quickly during this growth spurt that has lasted for two months and counting.

Sweet One ... she lives life to its fullest, teaching me what it means to not be scared to say hello to a stranger (and in some cases she gives them a hug) and also to take responsible for my actions. Because when she pushes my buttons she really pushes them. An alarm goes off and I learn very quickly that I need to take responsibility for how I react. And then twenty seconds later she has thrown on her cute and plants a kiss on me with such gusto that I sit there wondering how I was so lucky to have her as my daughter.

Big Love ... He deserves a prize. Stuck with whatever I have leftover at the end of every day (and I can guarantee you that since we made Little Man there isn't much of anything left over!), putting up with my mood swings and frustrations, and has never once raised his voice to me or said mean words. I'm not sure how he does it because there are times I am a cow and would fully deserve it. I'm much more lucky and thankful to have him in my life than I show him on a regular basis at this point in our lives. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to want to run and hide.

I've had struggles with the family I grew up in over the past few years, but I am thankful every day because they helped to shape who I am. Whether I am desperately trying not to do what my parents did or wishing I had the courage to take a leap of faith like my sister, my family will always be where I came from.

My friends rock. A kick in the pants to smarten me up, wise words that help me realize I'm not losing my mind, or helping me enjoy the day outside despite the fact that our kids are driving us nuts .... their numbers are huge, but the few close friends I have are worth more than gold.

I have a lot of 'have not' moments in my life. But really, I have more than I truly need. In our house that keeps us warm and protected from the outside, we have full bellies and lots of laughter. There are many who do not and I am thankful for this.

The random moments in a day that make me laugh ... this year was my best crop of butternut squash, and I didn't even plant any this year! They grew from my compost along with these small gourds. The funniest part is that two years ago we went to Baltimore and on our way back we stopped at a Trader Joe's. Sweet One found a gourd that she really liked and so we bought it for her entertainment while I continued to shop. That is the only gourd we have ever had and I remember throwing it in the compost. Two years later it has two kids. This is practically a family picture of us!
I am thankful for so much more than what I have typed but since my brain is slowly shutting down I will finish the day being thankful for television. Because when I am exhausted and my body hurts, there is nothing that turns off my brain better.

Friday, October 7, 2011

There is no where else to go

I've been struggling over the past few weeks about whether or not I want to continue attending the moms group that I do. Twice a month Sweet One and I go while Little Man stays home in the morning with his Dad. I drink coffee, sit at a table with other women, listen to the 'lesson' that they teach, do a craft and eat some food while Sweet One goes to the room where they have things set up with age appropriate activities for her. She seems to like it and I do not have another place at this point in time where she can go and socialize with her peers.

The group is a chapter of a national organization based upon concepts and beliefs of Evangelical Fundamentalism and we meet in a large church. The building is enormous and the strange bubble that we meet in is their sanctuary, carpeted to look like it doubles as a basketball court. I've struggled with Evangelical Fundamentalism since I first attended a church when I was sixteen. The sermon hour ended up with people laying on hands, fainting, crying out and having muscle spasm that they claimed was 'the spirit of the Lord God upon me!' The language they use to express their beliefs, the minimal education required for their pastors and how the bible is interpreted are all things I do not fully understand.

Last year it felt different for me. There have been a lot of new moms joining the chapter this year and the bigger it gets the more uncomfortable I am feeling. I am an introvert by nature and I get overwhelmed in too large of a group. I express these feelings by spurting out things I later regret or by getting too eager to talk (our discussion time is limited and I wonder if others feel like I don't share that time enough). I wish I could just sit back and relax, contributing to conversations only when my brain isn't feel like it is about to short circuit.

Another factor that seems to be contributing to my sense of uneasiness here is that I sense a division growing stronger within the group. The very large steering committee is comprised mostly of women who attend the church where we meet. They do a lot of things together. This chapter seems to be an extension of their already established social group that goes from church, to home to everywhere else in their lives. As the overall chapter grows larger the divisions of cliques becomes more established. I think I fear the meetings might end up like their Sunday morning services.

It is so hard for me to fully understand what I am uncomfortable with. While sitting at my table yesterday morning I had a complete view of the entire room. I looked around and saw some faces I recognized and many I hadn't. I starting feeling like we were all there to sit back and watch what the steering committee was doing; that what was being done was more to fulfill their own sense of purpose and self-importance than to build and foster a community of women.

If I were to stop attending these meetings there is nothing else like this in this little rural town. My friend attends as well and I know that she would be sad if I were not going. I like that it gives Sweet One somewhere to play with other children and begin to develop her social skills. (One of the women in the two year old room was my discussion leader last year and she says Sweet One is doing better and better every time.) However, shortly after each meeting this year Sweet One has developed a cold which has also affect Little Man. I don't want to spend the entire winter with sick children!

Maybe I can let go of my own ingrained biases about the denomination. Perhaps I'm dwelling on what I don't like about the denomination because I'm feeling self-conscious there. I'm 33 years old, fer fukk sake, so I should be able to behave myself a little better when I recognize my anxiety growing during the meetings! I just hate sitting here more than 24 hours after the meeting ended still regretting the petulant child who whined too much about the decaf running out quickly. If I'm really lucky, I may be able to gain enough self-confidence to not feel like people are looking at me funny wondering why I'm there. And the cherry on top would be that Sweet One won't get sick every time we go and if she does get sick, she'll fight it off quickly and not give the gersm to her brother. I don't really know. I do know that I wish there was a group in this area I could become a part of that I didn't feel like a sore thumb sticking out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Goodnight, Sweet One

- Goodnight, my love.
I walk to the door.
- Mom?
- Yes?
mumbles - No, thank you.
I opened the door and start to walk through.
- Mom?
It's like she was waiting for me to make my way out the door before our conversation continued!
- Yes?
- Can you make spaghetti tomorrow, too?
- Sure, sweetie.
We didn't have spaghetti tonight.
- Goodnight, Mom.
I hear the smack of her lips as she blows me a kiss through the darkness.
- Goodnight.

This has been the scene of the last few minutes each night as I leave Sweet One's room. (You can thank the NickJr. series Olivia for the spaghetti line. It's in one of the episodes we have on DVD because I we don't actually get that channel.) I love it. I absolutely love it. Just as much as I love looking at my Little Man's eyes light up when he looks over and knows he has my undivided attention.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One day I'll wish I could have these days back

It's hilarious how overwhelming moments can be and then they're so quickly gone.

Little Man has seemed to work his way out of screaming himself to sleep. I can say that it has made my life much easier because while I knew we needed to go through it, my entire body ached and sometimes trembled while I listened to him scream. For awhile I thought he might be getting confused when I'd hold him during the day for his naps and make him go to sleep on his own at night. I think I was right. Today is day three of having him go to sleep on his own during the day as well and it has made all the difference. Very little crying at all. I'm not sure if there was even a total of two minutes of crying for all three times I put him down! I miss holding him and watching him go to sleep. After feeling worn out from the day, it give me quiet time to breathe and relax that I didn't feel guilty for taking.

With the change in seasons coming I'm going through the kid's clothes. I can barely keep up with clothes for Little Man as he is already moving into 9 and 12 months clothes. Sweet One isn't growing out of her hers that quickly but there are some 24 mth clothes that are finally a little small on her. After all, she is almost 33 months now! I'm a little emotional as I pack up some of their clothes knowing that any child of mine will never again be this little.

Right now I'm trying to have a few minutes to write these thoughts out hoping to clear my mind a bit. The day goes by and it is one nap after another as Little Man's two naps are on either side off Sweet One's one. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by this as I do not have even five to ten minutes of kid-free time for myself. Big Love is a great help in the morning but really, I'm just trying to get myself functioning so he can get to work. After an interrupted night's sleep it isn't always easy. Today as I was telling him how draining it feels to have our days defined by naps, he said that it won't always be like this. I know there will be the day I wish I could have them both napping and playing right by my side.

"I need my mum-mum," I hear as Sweet One is obviously having a difficult moment. I'll go to her and hold her. Because one of these days I may only hear that over the phone, if I'm that lucky.

***
I walked into the bathroom. Sweet One was on one end of the room and Big Love was on the other. She didn't want him to do anything to help her get ready for bed. (Usually he does most of it because I've been taking care of Little Man.) She hadn't even let him put her lotion on and so as I made my way to the floor I started rubbing her back with her lotion. "That feels good!" she said with a smile that took over her entire face and planted a huge kiss on me. If that isn't enough to make this all worth it, I'm not sure what is.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Violence at my doorstep

Last night I spent more time awake than I'd like. Little Man woke me up for a second time around 3am and I didn't fall back asleep until nearly 5. The longer I was awake, the more frustrated I got. I starting thinking that if it were actually happening 'now' rather than the few days previous I might have known something of such magnitude was going on.

Three gunshots. One to gain entry, one to kill her and the third to kill himself. She no longer loved him and he wouldn't have it. A sad situation of domestic violence that her two children in the apartment when it was happening. I can only pray that they were asleep when their mother was shot. But I am not so naive to think they wouldn't have seen her body lying there or his as he took some of his last breaths before he died in the hospital. A grim scene that shouldn't happen to anyone.

My bedroom is approximately 50 feet from where this happened; Sweet One's is even closer. All of us were completely unaware of the entire event that took possession of the early hours. I didn't hear any shots nor did I see lights from all of the emergency personnel who came to the scene. I am ashamed to say that I didn't notice the crime scene tape around the building until Big Love pointed it out around 930 the next morning. He only noticed it after our friend pointed it out. That's six hours after it happened.

The only time we've been aware of things going on in that building were when people were screaming at each other on the balconies facing our house or when a young woman's children were playing on the steep hill that makes up the backyard (she was no longer living there when all of this happened).

So it does make sense that it could have all passed us by. But it feels wrong that we only learned of it the way the majority of this community, by word of mouth and the newspaper. "Too close to home" and yet it still feels miles away.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A renewed choice

For the past five years, I haven't worked. My choice to move to this little town so Big Love could begin his career and enable us to start a family also meant that opportunities for my work were minimal. Also, I don't have a social security number which you need for almost everything in this country. (Luckily you can get an ITIN - income tax identification number - when you're in my situation and health insurance companies will still let you be covered without any number.) I could have found a specific type of job and then applied for a corresponding visa but there didn't seem to be anything in the area for me that was worth all of that gong show.

But yesterday things changed. Our Work Authorization Cards unexpectedly arrived in the mail and I can now go and get myself a Social Security Number. This also means that I could go and get any kind of job that I could find. But I'm not going to. I'm not going to leave my children in a day care. It's not that I'm opposed to day care, it is just that I would need a job that was highly personally fulfilling to let someone else raise my children for such a significant part of that day. And so, today I renew my choice to be a SAHM - a role I never thought I'd be 100%. I thought I'd have teaching/performing on the side while still spending the majority of my time with my children.

Hopefully renewing this choice with my new 'status' will help me find more fulfillment in my days with my children.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Soured Memory

A few weeks ago I started craving a milkshake. Not just any milkshake but the kind we used to have when I was growing up. All three of us kids would join my dad in the kitchen. I think I can even remember all of us sitting up on the counter, waiting for a little taste of what was being put into the blender. We'd open our mouths like baby birds as we got a little bit of ice cream to sample. So tasty and so fun.

First my dad would crack some eggs into the blender. I faintly remember it being one egg per person. Next was the milk just before the ice cream. The blender turned on and whirled away as more ice cream was added to get the perfect consistency. At the end, the finishing touch - a little bit of orange juice concentrate. We loved these milkshakes and thought they were the best in the world.

It had been years since I had this particular milkshake. (During high school my preference was a nice thick 'shitty shake', or chocolate, as my friend and I would pick them up in the drive thru.) So after two or three days of wanting to taste this childhood memory, I picked up the ingredients and got rather excited to make one with Sweet One. (I opted to veto the egg just to be safe since I'm still nursing Little Man.) It whirled and looked so incredibly thick and tasty.

I poured some for Sweet One but she said, "No thank you!" Next was my glass. I made quite a bit because there was still some in the blender and Big Love didn't want to help. The moment I started drinking it I was completely disappointed. What was with the sour smell? There was no rich vanilla-ish flavor. Every mouthful made me wonder why I remembered it so fondly. Near the end, still wondering if perhaps some milk had dried and soured in the blender, I remembered that if I'm all out of buttermilk I can substitute regular milk with lemon juice in it. DUMBASS! The orange juice concentrate was the culprit!

I think I'll go back to my shitty shakes. At least they don't taste like soured milk!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Speechless

Tonight, Little Man went down without a sound, save for a few grunts. It took him 8 minutes to fall asleep. I'm amazed and speechless!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

All dressed up

Little Man was baptized last Sunday and this is the outfit I made for him.I really had no idea if I'd even have the time to sew but after searching online for something appropriate, I realized that anything somewhat dressy for baby boys was rather expensive. In the end, it really didn't take me that long and I was happy with what I did. (I wasn't all that meticulous with the snap tape which is why the shorts hang somewhat uneven.)

My friend found a Simplicity pattern which I used (thank goodness it wasn't McCalls because I always do a better job on a Simplicity pattern) and the rest is history. A texture polyester material on top and a linen blend navy material on the bottom.

***
Day 1 of helping Little Man self-soothe. Good lord do I hate it! 49 minutes of him crying but thankfully the last half was on and off. I took the first 20 minute shift and I am not kidding when I say that as I sat on a stool, resting my head on the railing, I cried and asked God He had to make it so fucking difficult! I loathe the idea of leaving my baby to cry it out at all but luckily one of the sleep references I use recommends sitting beside the crib for the first three nights. Gradually, we'll make our way out of the room.

I use one other reference as well and mix the two together to find what I feel works best for us. In the end,deciding that tonight was the night we'd start him getting to sleep on his own came from my gut. (Shit, he just sneezed.) I've been working myself up to it for a few weeks. Prior to August he had been sleeping so well. An average of 9 hours at a time at night with a few nights where he'd sleep through the night. Since August has started I am lucky if he goes 5.5 hours. I don't expect forcing him to sleep on his own will cure this as it is quite common for babies his age to wake twice a night, but I do hope it will help him in the long run.

One hour after he fell asleep, one gin and tonic and some popcorn and I'm feeling a little better. Hopefully things won't take quite as long tomorrow night.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Motherlode

It is impossible to pinpoint a time when my relationship with my mother started to decline but I know it wasn't always like this. The actual moment when I no longer felt like my mother would actually listen to me and hear what I'm saying is gone. It's rather sad. Quietly, I've always hoped for an idealized relationship with my mom. You know, the kind you see in the movies! Despite struggles, miscommunications and emotions, it always ends up being resolved after reaching an intimate honesty that can only be found between a mother and daughter. Well, maybe not exactly like the movies but similar to some I've seen between my friends and their mothers.

Last Thursday my mom and step-dad came for their first visit since Little Man was born. I was excited for the kids to see them and I thought that it started out well. We went to a zoo-type place on Friday where Sweet One had an amazing time and then on Saturday my mom and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing the brunch that would follow Little Man's baptism. Sweet One absolutely loved having her here and I loved watching them together. I will especially remember how much Sweet One loved to walk hand in hand with my mom. But then it all suddenly went to shit. I didn't even realize what was happening. One of those moments where it is almost impossible to grasp what is really going on.

Let me set the scene with a little back story. My kitchen sucks. It is small and the space is poorly designed. Very little counter space to do anything. My mom made many comments about how difficult it is to work in my kitchen on Saturday and I agreed because we were working. I often complain to myself or Big Love while I'm working in there. On Sunday there were a total of 10 adults and 4 kids eating brunch and we pulled it off nicely. In the evening I was looking forward to some relaxing after such a busy day but my mom seemed to want to spend more time consumed by how shitty my kitchen is and what she would do to fix it. I asked her to stop. It wasn't only this visit that she has told me over and over how bad my kitchen is and I just wanted a break for a bit. I was tired. It had been a long day. She went off her rocker! Suddenly saying, "you have to let me be me" and a myriad of other things that made absolutely no sense. The more I desperately tried to get her to listen to what I was saying, the more she pursed her lips and stiffened her face. I wanted to scream, "wake the fuck up! I am not trying to criticize! You are putting words in my mouth!" but as my sister later told me, there is no point. She's in a point in her life where she is wrapped up so tightly in her own things that she doesn't hear what people are saying and it's annoying. There is nothing we can do about it.

Monday morning she came to me and said that she and my step-dad were thinking of leaving early "because we haven't seen much of [the area just north of the US border]. You're so busy with the two kids and I think we're wearing out our welcome." I was sick to my stomach. As if all the struggles in our relationship are solely my fault! (As my sister also told me, my mom acts as if she never does anything wrong.) They did end up staying for one more day but after that you could cut the tension with a knife. I couldn't say anything without her reacting negatively. When they left the next morning, my step-dad said good-bye to everyone but me and pretty much ran out the door as fast as he could.

I sometimes wonder if we put too much expectation on these visits. With such a huge distance of space between us, it's as if we want a perfect time together to make up for how little time we spend together and how much money we have to invest in order to see each other.


Unfortunately, I think I need to lower my expectations. Both for these visits (if there are anymore!) and my relationship with my mom. I wish she was my 'go to' person but if I am honest with myself, she really hasn't been for many years. It is obvious to me that at this point in our lives we are not going to meet in the middle any time soon. My sister also struggles with my mom's deaf ears and so it is not just me being targeted and this helps me feel a little better.

I can not change her, I can only change myself. I will learn to let go. But the disappointment this realization brings is hard.
"Oh, Mother. I loved her at that moment, but what a motherlode she is."
Remembering the Bones, Frances Itani
(Today I put together a tumbling composter that my step-dad had bought me while he was here. Shortly after it was done I began to fill it with compost and about 5 minutes later it broke. I can almost guarantee you that my mom is thinking it is a symbol of our visit! "Because everything is a symbol to her.")


Friday, August 26, 2011

the great lesson ... is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's backyards.

- Abraham Maslow

This is where I saw the above quote and it seems to align with so much of what I'm trying to work through. And now back to family - because my mom and step-dad are here. Contrary to most of the latest visits, I don't want to kill my mother yet!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet Snippets

My mom and stepdad are going to be here in a few days. Since Sweet One hasn't seen them very much, and the last time they visited she was terrified of my stepdad the entire time, I've given her pictures of them to look at whenever she wants and we've been talking up their visit for a few weeks now. Yesterday at suppertime, Sweet One was providing us with Quintessential Sweet One - all her cuteness balled up and presented in a way only she can.

Big Love: Oh Sweet One, Grandma and Grandpa are going to get a kick out of you.
Sweet One: But no Dad, Gramma and Gramma are not going to kick me.

***
Today was a bit of a rough day for Sweet One. She was a champ when she got the FluMist but later in the afternoon she started acting bored and not quite herself. Then when we were across the street playing with the boys she tripped going down the stairs with a few toys in her hand. Luckily, it was only a few stairs but she still managed to hit her forehead on the concrete sidewalk and somehow cut the inside of her right index finger on the toys. It was probably one of her biggest falls. Between the two, I wasn't sure what to expect with nighttime because she was a little funky between the two major things during the day. Shortly after I tucked her in I heard her talking. Usually I wait a few minutes before going in and telling her to go to sleep, especially if she's not yelling. As I stood near her door I heard chatting and then, "Good night, Lamb". She was saying goodnight to all of the 'amimals' that are on her bed with her!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A small change with huge results

I had a couple of days that forced me to reevaluate my current mindset. Sometimes I need this. A kick in the pants so hard that it leaves my legs wobbly long enough for me to figure out a new way to stand firm.

A week or two ago I first saw some news about Somalia. I wasn't aware of what was going on there and after about two minutes of AC360 just before going to bed, I felt nauseous. As a child I would see World Vision programs on the tube and my little heart would ache. I didn't understand why there were people out there who weren't getting enough food. It seems that my reaction as a mother is even stronger. It is beyond my comprehension why there are women out there who have their children dying.

For as long as I can remember, it has always been a challenge for me to look at the positive before the negative. And then it is just as difficult for me to let go of the negative and not let it overwhelm me. I have found varying degrees of coping from time to time, but unless I am constantly applying my tools I revert back to my old ways, feeling like there is a dark cloud hanging over my head. (The lack of sleep with an infant in the house only makes this more difficult.)

After reading this article and letting it work its way into my gray matter, I became disgusted with myself. I have the luxury to feel my emotions. I have a roof over my head and can provide for my children each and every day. There is nothing in my life that could be considered a hardship at. all. Why the hell can I not find a way to be happy where I am?

"If you don't like your life, change it." For awhile now, I thought that I can't. It would require a geographical change and that is not an option. I erroneously believed that any change to help me be happier would have to be on a large scale. Then something clicked. I can change my negative thoughts. And I would. I owe it to myself, to my children and to my husband. After trying to figure out just how to go about this, I remembered some things I learned awhile back. While eating a Dilly Bar on our porch while the rain came down, I watched my family playing together and silently committed to stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Some were a "that's bullshit, it isn't really as bad as it looks" and others were "this is how I'm going to change it so that it doesn't continue". Perhaps it was all the work I did while doing the Tools to Life program, but after only a week or so I am already feeling better.

I can not change the world but I can change my world.

Friday, August 12, 2011

She's walking around in circles and carrying her letter X while watching her favorite show (Word World). I whisper, "Can I give you a kiss?" and her face lights up as she walks over so we can plant one on each other.

I absolutely love that she will stop what she's doing because she likes my kisses so much. I'll pucker up as long as I can because I know one day she'll gag at the thought!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

At Little Man's 4 month appointment

Dr: He's looking good. You're doing a good job. Are you going to have more?
Me: Nope. I'm done.
Dr: (Something along the lines of, really?)
Me: It hurt too much when his head dropped.
Dr: You didn't have that exhilarating feeling when the head came through the birth canal?
Me: I was a c-section girl.

I did avoid using my little joke that my uterus spit out resignation papers after Little Man was taken out!

But oh! how mortified I felt when the doctor was checking Little Man's nethers and found a little bit of poop hidden in only the way a little boy could hide it. I quickly explained that last diaper change was in the dark, right before a nap. And when I got home I remembered that his last diaper change was done by Big Love right before we left for the appointment. (Pass the buck, thankyouverymuch. I'm still a good mom!)

He's now weighing 15lbs110z. This kid is huge! Well, at least he is to me because Sweet One was always in the 5-25 percentile and this kid is right in the middle. Little Man was getting tired near the end and really I don't blame him because we had been there for an hour. He screamed harder with his shots than he did two months ago and my levees were about to break. By the time we got home he wa back to his normal happy boy and didn't take long to get sleeping again.

Me, on the other hand, feel like I need to scrape the tired off my eyeballs. (That's what happens when you wake up every two hours even if your kids aren't waking you up.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stickin' like glue

A few days ago I read this post from the Pioneer Woman and no matter what I do, I can not get one of the letters she featured in it out of my thoughts. Written two or three generations ago, a father writing to his daughter advice that is universal. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"We're all placed here to do something. It is for us and not for others to find out what that something is, and there with all the energy of which we are capable, honestly and prayerfully to be gone about our business."
And then this morning on FB I read something in a status that is also not going anywhere.
An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between the two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth."

The boy thought about it and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?"

The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."
Both of these seem to be sticking to my innerds like glue. Quietly working their way through my mind, my heart and anywhere else that needs it.


Link

Sunday, August 7, 2011

One small change

As I went to bed last night I realized that perhaps I can change things, a few minutes at a time. So I've decided that I will take 5 to 10 minutes for myself every day. Even if I have to go and hide out in our newly insulated attic, I will take these minutes for myself. I will not let anything interrupt me (unless its an emergency). And I will breathe. I will sit there and breathe. That is it. But I think a small change like this will possibly yield great results.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A muddled mess

I can not get my thought out. I want to scream it but each time I start to type and try to figure out what it really is, the words suck. My feeble attempts to put words together fall apart. I'm frustrated. Being a SAHM isn't something I imagined being. I imagined being home with my kids but having something of my own to do on a regular basis.

I thought that by the age of 33 I'd have a better idea of what makes me happy. But I am still just a girl trying to make sense of life. And I get sick and tired of reading things that tell me to follow my dreams, live my passion, if I'm not happy I should just change it. It's not that easy. (And for many others, it is impossible because they can barely keep food on their table.)

But that is where this foggy brain stops. Eager for a few answers. Hoping desperately that just once, the work I do to get my gray matter to function better doesn't always have to have the "one step back". That the times I feel like I got somewhere, managed to get a bit more of a handle on my dysthymia, don't have to be a memory.

I want to be able to be more present in each and every moment but it is hard because I am constantly thinking of what needs to get done next, or where I need to clean when the opportunity arises. I hate it that I check my watch while I am playing with my daughter to see how long I've been doing it for, rather than just doing it.

How often I am reminded of growth being an erratic "two steps forward, one step back" in so many ways. It happens with my kids and it happens with my emotional state. But when it is the latter I get pissed off because I hate being in this place, feeling like I can never get my steps quite big enough to get out of the mud.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Potty talk

Potty training is in full swing and I am so proud of my little girl.

So many people told me to wait until she was ready and not try to get her going earlier. Well, I tried earlier and it was awful.

Then I waited.

I cried when I had nasty diapers to change because it seemed they always happened when I was dead tired and had a screaming baby.

A few days ago she decides she's going to earn the lollipop and pees all on her own. "I did it! I peed in the potty!"

That was three and a half days ago. Many lollipops have been eaten, as well as other 'surprises' earned from the prize box. Sometimes she gets mad because she wants another prize but has peed too recently. "Potty is not working!"

Today ended with a 'big poop' (according to Big Love) in the potty right before bed, uncoached by either one of us.

I could not be more proud of my little girl. I could not be more relieved that it is going so well. Now if only we can make sure her teeth don't fall out from all the lollipops!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Of course the day after I am crying and screaming inside about how I feel completely bizarre about how my body looks to me in our family portraits, I read someone's post about trying to present a good model for her child! Hopefully I, too, will learn to give myself a break.

I'm lucky because this time around, I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight already. That is, my second pregnancy, as I never did get back to where I was before Sweet One was born because I no longer had time to work out 1.5 hours a day, 5 days a week. I do strongly attribute my weight loss this time around to how active I was with this past pregnancy. I did a challenging work out two to three times a week for most of the pregnancy, only stopping in the last few weeks or so because I felt very uncomfortable for the day after doing it. (This workout had me sweating, grunting and building a lot of muscle safely!) I also had two yoga videos that I did in the evening up until two nights before Little Man was cut out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A case of dysmorphia

Our church is doing a new directory and so with that comes family portraits. Today we had our appointment and I left, holding onto a flood of tears for when I was back in the safety of my own home. I don't know what it is with what I see. Leaving the house, I looked in the mirror and thought everything was fine. (I am reminded of the movie Julie and Julia when Julia Child and her sister say something along the lines of 'good but not great' when they are finished preparing for a special dinner.)

The picture taking experience itself wasn't the greatest. Sweet One decided to see just how many times she could say, "No!" in the twenty minutes or so that we had. Luckily, we got some good shots of her. Little Man started getting cranky just when it was his turn for solo shots and so we only got a decent one of him. (Good, not great, once again.)

We sat down with our photographer and looked at the pictures on the computer deciding what we'd like to purchase. I barely recognized myself in the pictures. The rest of my family looked just how they look to me, but I had proportions all over the place that I didn't realize were there. I don't know if it was the angle or the fact that I was worrying about the kids more than I should have been .... but I hated what I saw. And now I'm miserable.

On top of it, these pictures were ridiculously priced and despite our photographers best attempts to get us as many pictures for as little of a price, I'm not fully happy with what we spent money on. If the pictures of Sweet One hadn't been so good I probably wouldn't have spent a penny. But as it is, we bought 4 - 3x5 of the family portrait to give to family as well as a proof set. (Still $75!) I'm embarrassed to think family will have these pictures for many years. Perhaps we need to one day splurge on a really good, professional photographer.

I don't know why I see something so much different in the mirror. Perhaps who I am and what I see in the mirror is more connected than I'd like it to be. I don't know how to fix this. But I do know that if I want to raise a daughter who is confident and happy with how she looks I'd better figure something out - quick.

Friday, July 22, 2011

If only I had a Dymo label maker lodged in my temple

Because then when I am sitting in the dark, holding Little Man as he falls asleep and my mind is finally resting after a long, hot day filled with temper tantrums, time outs and everything else that goes with having a toddler, all of the thoughts I am processing could actually be put to blog as clearly as I hear them in the quiet. It is amazing because in those moments before I place him in his crib I can actually process a thought without everything else interjecting.

The problem is that by the time he is in his crib, I will either have to continue fighting with Sweet One to convince her to fall asleep or come downstairs to a mess that needs to be cleaned up. Lately, it has been so goddam hot here that if I don't have to do either of those, the only thing I can do is collapse into a heap on the floor. This western girl doesn't fare in the humid heat. Gimme a dry heat and I'll suck it up. But with the house not cooling off at night and me worrying about whether my swaddled infant is overheating, I'm almost losing my mind. If I didn't have children, I'd probably be lying with my body spread out over as much surface as possible as I drool and watch tv show after tv show with a vacant expression in my mind. Having to care for two children doesn't really make the heat better. I can tell that the kids are starting to lose their minds from it, as well. And really, I'm not the greatest mom when my gray matter has turned to pudding and sloshing around my skull.

So onto a completely different topic, my newest pet peeve. Then and Than. Why are people so incapable of using it correctly? I have no idea but I wish they'd learn.

Onto Love Bites. One of my favorite summer programs. Three different short stories each episode seem completely unrelated to one another, but there are tidbits that pop up to connect them through a few recurring characters. I giggle. And for some reason, I love Greg Grunberg. He always makes me chuckle. Especially in this show with the relationship between his character and the wife. So cute.

Ok. Officially mixing the pudding up as I shake my head so I will turn off and hope for clearer brain days ahead!