Saturday, December 31, 2005

One MORE last post of 2005

This one's good... in case 2005 didn't bring you enough laughs, here's one for the road:

Giant Knitted Squid Attacks Life-Sized Knitted Digestive System.

Last post of 2005.

I made it to the coffee house with my sister and Grouper this morning, then the yarn shop. Picked up six skeins of soft wool to make into a felted bag, maybe a diaper bag. I've spent a few hours online today reading up on organic wool, ways to dye yarn, and knitty stuff in general. The only organic wool yarn the shop had was red, which was okay, but I wanted more variety for this project.

Grouper's crankiness continued today. He's still not back to his healthy self. Spent most of the day yelling, whining or throwing himself on the floor when I didn't feel like having him on my lap. But he did finally go to sleep! During his nap, Puffer and I cranked out four dozen gingerbread cookies.

Er, I should say, Puffer cut out the first half dozen, which took all of 4 minutes, and then he ran outside to play while I rolled out and the rest. After nap, I invited the neighbor kids inside to help decorate. Tiny multi-colored non pareils covered the entire table, and eventually the floor. But they did seem to have fun. The batch of frosting I created without a recipe turned out pretty yummy, if I do say so myself.

Now, I must get off the computer and go knit! I have a scarf to finish for my mom out of Fancy Fur, which looks kind of cool, but is really strange to try and knit.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Resolutions, already.

My house and the bodies within it are still recovering from the Christmas flu bug. We've had only one decent night's sleep all week, and it wasn't last night. Gingerbread cookie dough remains in the fridge from Christmas Eve, hopeful that someone will want to bake it before the New Year makes it obsolete. Phone calls need to be returned. Thank you notes need to be written.

It's only the fifth day of Christmas, and yet my excitement over Christmas activities and decorations is already waning. I'm making To-Do lists and New Year's Resolutions in my head, and wishing I had some energy to finally clean this place. I did manage to scrub my nasty bathtub, and soak by candlelight for a little while this evening. I laid there trying to remember how many times I've done that this year, and decided that this must have been the first -- and most likely last -- time for 2005.

Resolution #1: More candlit baths for Mommy.

The last couple days I've spent mostly on the couch at my mom's, watching HGTV, knitting and/or holding a feverish Grouper on my lap so he could sleep. I'm hoping we saw the last of the fevers today. Pray tonight goes well, or I might not make it to 2006.

I'm almost done with the final Christmas gift hat. I have two scarves to make next. Then I have to decide if I'm going to make a felted diaper bag or not. Or just jump right into baby clothes and diaper covers.

The Martha rerun today was all about baby stuff, with an audience full of pregnant women. Got me thinking about preparing for this next baby, and how I always get these grand ideas of how I might do things differently, and then I turn out to be as lazy as always. Or, at least, too busy making new plans to follow through with the last ones.

There was this couple on who had twins, and then SEXTUPLETS. The mom had charts, and diagrams and color-coordinated feeding schedules, and she was talking about how staying organized is the only thing that keeps her alive. I used to imagine myself as a mom of six, with everything perfectly organized just like that. I don't know where that came from. I'm not sure it's ever actually been in my nature to stay that on top of physical things. I did have an extremely balanced bank account before I got married. But throw one more actual, not imaginary, person into that equation, and I'm toast.

I do get a surge of organizational energy in January. When the holidays are over, and everything has to be packed away again, I start wanting to declutter every closet and cranny and clean behind all the crevices. I want to declutter and prioritize everything else about our daily lives, too. Housekeeping routines, social calendar, diet, especially diet. Mine needs a major rehaul.

I think I only had ate well the first two weeks I was actually pregnant. Then morning sickness took over, and I ate mostly toast, applesauce and string cheese -- when I wasn't scarfing down cheeseburgers and french fries. I do eat well at Knitting Night and Vegand.o.m, but I've gotten lazy at home. Besides wanting to give this baby all the right nutrients, I'm still fighting the Candidas Monster. Though I've tried to avoid sugar, this flu bug somehow KICKED MY BUTT. Literally. I can hardly sit on it. It's driving me INSANE.

Resolution #2: Make a healthful meal plan, and stick to it.

Other things on the To-Do list to prioritize:
Find a dresser and make space for baby's things.
Scrapbook the boys' first years before I have yet another album to work on.
Finish painting the woodwork project I started in July.
Hang pictures in the living and dining room that have been on the boy's top bunk for five months.
Host the Birth Junkie movie night I promised to have in January.
Prep for and line up next childbirth education class for couples due in April and May.
Clean up the mess in the backyard and plant spring bulbs.

I'm sure there's more, but my next resolution is to:

#3: Get enough sleep.

That could prove to be the most challenging goal of 2006.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Christmas Flu

This was the strangest Christmas ever.

Instead of finishing my last knitted gift Friday night, I laid on the couch with a headache. As relaxing an activity as knitting is, it still requires energy. I had none.

Instead of visiting with my mom and sisters or decorating gingerbread cookies with the boys on Christmas Eve Day, I slept until 2 p.m. I ate dinner in my mom's bed, while the boys played with aunties and grandparents and second cousins in the rest of the house.

Instead of being woken on Christmas morning at the crack of dawn by two small boys eager to see what Santa had brought them, we were woken before dawn by one boy whose fever caused him to wet the bed. And then the other, who coughed himself into puking. Once the beds were stripped, we dragged ourselves to the living room, where, instead of energetically ripping paper off packages, they half-heartedly asked for help getting them open.

Then we all went back to bed until 10:30. Eventually we made it over to my parents' house, where my dad was making breakfast. Puffer lay on the couch with a fever and headache, crying, "Somebody help me! I hate headaches! I don't want to be sick! Somebody help me!" while I rubbed his head, his brother curled up at my other side.

In between doses of Tylenol (Mommy included) and alternating naps (Mommy definitely included), we opened presents. My dad and Scott did all the cooking. My mother got out of the hospital on Wednesday. She has Valley Fever, and has to take antifungal medication and give herself IV antibiotics three times a day. We took up both couches in the living room for most of the day.

By early evening, the boys had a simultaneous boost of energy and actually played with their new games for a little while. Then it was back to feeling puney. They fell asleep within five minutes of climbing into bed.

So, I'm sitting here now after a short morning nap, with Grouper on my lap and still feverish. Puffer's feeling much better. He always seems to get sick noisily and recover quickly. Grouper's a quiet sick kid. Doesn't complain much, just looks miserable, and doesn't respond well to medicine.

I sure hope your Christmas was healthier.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Almost ready for Christmas...

It's almost 4 p.m. and we've barely been home 15 minutes. Had pageant rehearsal this morning, came home for lunch, then left again for more errands. I'm finally finished!! (I hope.) All I had to do was get more yarn (which was on sale!), get a gift certificate for a family at church, and take our movies back, but it took nearly 3 hours because the stores were all over town. I spent two hours with the crowds at Target last night -- by myself! -- to get the last few things for stockings, and other misc stuff we just needed. I'm hoping I won't be back there again until January!

Now I just have to finish knitting, help the boys make gifts for 10 of their friends, and wrap everything. Hopfully I bought enough wrapping paper, because I REALLY don't want to go out there again! Holiday drivers are WEIRD. They're either swerving through traffic or going exactly 4 mph below the speed limit with NO ONE in front of them, so you can't pass them and can't move as fast as you otherwise would.

Anyhow, I still have a post to finish about Grouper's visit to the dentist on Wednesday. That had my brain occupied for a solid two days, trying to decide what to do next, so maybe I'll actually finishing writing about it. I also wanted to post about the scary parenting going on during the pageant rehearsal at church, but it's going to have to wait.

Oh, and while I'm completely preoccupied by Christmas preparations, my poor mother is in the hospital on IV antibiotics and awaiting the results of a CT scan to determine what to do about a large abcess in her intestine, which has been making her severely ill for the last two weeks. Please pray that whatever they have to do goes smoothly and that she heals quickly!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An actual post.

So, I just want to say thank you to anyone and everyone whose prayed for me lately. I've been in a sort of spiritual slump the last six months, for no particular, or at least no good, reason, and I seem to be coming out of it. I have a FABULOUS life. I am so darn spoiled I can't even tell you. I've done nothing to deserve it, and God has blessed me completely. I have the sweetest children and husband in the world (no comparisons, please, just let me live in my personal bliss ;), amazing friends, a wonderful, close family, a beautiful home, steady income, perfectly fine weather, etc, etc.

I was looking over all our photos from this year, choosing the best ones to send out to friends and family, and I realized just what an incredible life we have. Heck, my kids haven't even had the flu this fall! (Please pray that doesn't change this week, now that I've mentioned it.) My mom attributed our good health to the removal of the old nasty carpet, which was yet another blessing.

With all the suffering happening in the world, I sometimes wonder why I made it out so good. And I wonder how I still manage to get overwhelmed and discouraged sometimes, when it's so obvious that God is taking care of me. But right now I'm just too grateful to worry about it. That's a good thing.

Which reminds me, I've given up Oprah for Martha when it comes to knitting and tea time in the afternoon (another blessing). Oprah's been a little heavier than I can take this season, but Martha keeps me inspired to be creative in simple ways.

I'm really enjoying the fact that it's Christmastime. Not stressing about too much to do, just doing it as I can. I've got all my out-of-town gifts taken care of, will be mailing a batch of Christmas cards tomorrow, waiting for an order from Amazon, still knitting gifts for the fam, done with most of my shopping. UberDad will be off next week, so I figure I'll send him out with the boys so I can do our wrapping. They boys have rehearsal for their first Christmas pageant tomorrow night and Saturday morning, then the pageant on Sunday. Monday we have our holiday party with our homeschooling group, and gift exchange with my knitting group. Tuesday we'll go out of town to visit close friends and exchange gifts. Wednesday we'll have an early Christmas with UberDad's family. Thursday we'll have another with my grandfather. Friday my sister arrives from Tuscon, and then it's Christmas Eve!

The boys' new trampoline, a Christmas gift from Scott's mom, arrived earlier than expected, so they've been enjoying that the last few days. This morning it was finally cold enough that they wanted socks on, and then they didn't last too long anyhow. But it's always pretty sunny by afternoon, so they're going to get a LOT of use out of it.

Once I get the Christmas cards and e-mail photos sent out, I have to get cracking at my knitting projects. Four more hats and a scarf to finish in one-and-a-half weeks! But -- I'm not stressing. I just might go buy some thicker yarn.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Just for fun, since I've never posted a photo of myself before... Grouper took this shot in July.
"A child will be born unto them."

Nativity photo. Take two.

Well, this sure took long enough...

Let's see if this works. Here's a photo of our nativity set.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Praise the Lord! My camera's been healed!

After two-and-a-half months of not being able to use my digital camera, I finally visited the fancy photo store to see what could be done with the thing. I'd put new batteries in it, jiggled and wiggled and jiggled the on/off switch, and the camera simply ignored me.

I told this to the lady at the photo shop, and she took out the batteries to make sure they were good. Yep, just fine. She put them back in. Then she turned the camera on. She turned the camera ON. By flicking the switch. The one I hadn't been able to get to work for two months. So, yes, the photo lady healed my camera.

Now I have to see if I still know how to use Hello, so I can post some pictures here finally!

Friday, December 02, 2005

A sorry attempt at sleep recovery.

So, my house is clean and lovely, and my mom even took my hypoglycemic self out to lunch. Now if I could just drag myself to bed instead of sitting at the computer in a trance, maybe I can get a few hours of sleep before 6:45, when Carla will be knocking at the door and dropping off her 3-year-old for the next nine hours...


Except for the gurgling of the fishtank in the boys' room, my house is quiet this morning. Unlike it was at 2 a.m. Or 4:30. Or 6:30. Or 7:45.

I feel like I already have a newborn again. I wake up feeling like it's the end of a long day, instead of the beginning. Only, instead of going to bed at 8 p.m. like I will when the new kid arrives, I climbed onto Grouper's trundle at 10, and accidently fell asleep. I woke up around midnight, squished against the side of Puffer's bunk, my back bare to the cold air under the bed. He felt me move, and slid that much closer to me, so I had to squeeze myself up carefully, the plastic mattress cover crinkling noisily the whole way.

Just as I was settled into bed next to UberDad, I heard Emma the cat scratching at the front door. So, I climbed out, let her in, and tried to get warm again. Two hours later, from deep in REM sleep, I heard Grouper calling me. My heavy body begged me to let him scream, but I knew if I didn't catch him in time, he'd be climbing into my bed soon anyway. Fortunately, a few caresses of his forehead had him settled again.

This time when I climbed back into my bed my stomach was starting to grumble. "NO!" I yelled in my head. "I will NOT get up and feed you! Go to SLEEP!"

Two more hours of so-called rest. Then -- "MOMMY! MOMMEEEEE!!! MOOOOOMMMMEEEE!!!!" Puffer this time, with a bad dream, and he's woken up Grouper. Rub the forehead, fix the covers, pick up the 3-year-old, and drag us back to my bed. Not to sleep, mind you, because outside it is now pouring down rain so loudly that I'm reminded of my visit to the Black Forest in Germany, where there's no such thing as a rain "drop," only rain boulders.

It's now 5 a.m. Grouper squirms. My stomach whines. The rain pounds. The covers fall to one side of the bed making me feel lopsided because UberDad refuses to straighten them on his side. And I'm reminded of being irritated with him for spending $120 on a hardbound set of The Chronicles of Narnia with the Christmas money I thought we were going to use on a trampoline.

I finally get up and storm out of the bedroom, drink some orange juice, and sit on the couch, fuming about the incessantly loud rain, my budget unconscious husband, and my own hypersensitivity, low blood sugar, and missing sense of humor.

Eventually, I get tired enough to go back to bed, where Grouper is at least not squirming anymore.

BEEP!! BEEP!! BEEP!! UberDad's alarm clock goes off at 6:30.

"MOMMY!! MOMMEEEEE!!!! MOOOOOOMMMMMEEEEE!!!!!" Puffer wakes up at 7, wanting me to come carry him to my bed. Thankfully, UberDad hears him and takes care of it.

"Mommy, I need milk." I get the milk. "Mommy, I'm COLD! I want my blanket from my bed." Get your own darn blanket. "Mommy, I had a dream about..." Tell me later, I'm still SLEEPING!

At 8 a.m., my mother comes in, coffee in hand. She get the boys dressed, tells me she'll take them to her house, and that my sister is coming at 10 to clean my house for me.

I might just survive the day after all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Missing you.

I've been thinking about friendship a lot lately. I have a lot of friends that I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like, and I miss them -- that is, you, because I know some of you read my blog. Some friends live too far to see very often, but others live in town and it seems almost as challenging to get together.

I think I've relied a lot on organized activities and readymade social groups to keep me in regular contact with my favorite people. But a lot of things have changed this year, and that's not working so well anymore. Our home improvement co-op hasn't met yet this season, and I've missed it. Several of the kids were in soccer, one dad works weekends, and Saturdays were just too booked. Our homeschooling co-op ended abruptly this summer, and I haven't managed to stay in contact with two of the moms I liked the best. Sundays it's hit or miss whether we ever see some of our church friends, mostly because of Sunday school committments and our own inconsistency. And our unschooling group hasn't gotten together at all this fall. We haven't even spent much time with our gardening friends -- and they come to our house every week!

We have gotten to know our neighbors really well. It's nice to have friends so conveniently located. And I don't know what I'd do without Knitting Night. But I feel sad about not seeing the friends who are less "convenient." It seems silly. But life just goes so fast when you have kids. Maybe I need to lower my expectations, increase my efforts to reach out, and just trust that the fact that we're not getting together as often does NOT mean we're any less friends.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Knitting Frenzy!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I ate so much that I slept all night without waking up hungry two or three times like I usually do! UberDad's mom did most of the work this year. All I did was roast some acorn squash, super easy. Instead of cooking, I spent most of the day knitting.

I've been a knitting FIEND this week!! If I could ever drag myself to the camera store to get my digital camera fixed, I could actually post some finished projects. They've all been hats so far. One each for the boys, one for a friend's preemie, one for UberDad for Christmas. I've got a few other things in the works, but some of them are secrets. ;) Carla and I are heading to the craft store today for more yarn!

Have I mentioned we have an ultrasound scheduled for January 9? So, hopefully we'll find out whether we're having a boy or a girl! Yes, I know it's exciting for it to be a surprise. Grouper was a surprise because the umbilical cord was wrapped between his legs hiding everything. But we'd really like some time to bond with and prepare for #3. We didn't even have a name picked out for Grouper, and for a few days I kept forgetting what we'd named him!

Anyhow, when Christmas is over and we, God willing, know what gender this baby is, I'm going to go crazy knitting baby stuff! I've been checking out diaper soakers (covers) and baby pants patterns on the web, and there are SO many cute ideas! I'm off to the yarn store, but you can look at my new favorite sites here:

Diaper Pages

Tiny Bird's Soaker

Little Turtle Knits

Holy Sheep Yarns

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Definition of Radical Christian Unschooling

Someone posted this fabulous definition on the Radical Christian Unschooling yahoo group I belong to, and I thought I'd share since not everyone who reads this blog is familiar with the idea.

"Radical Unschooling is the Trust that a child will seek out and learn what he needs to know, when he needs to know it, without coercion, without school or school type methods, in the freedom and safety of his family. Our role as parents is to facilitate and make available our time, space, money, and lives to helping them explore the world.

Radical Christian Unschooling is the Trust that not only will a child seek out and learn what he needs to know when he needs to know it, without coercion, without school or school type methods, in the freedom and safety of his family, but that God will direct the child's path Himself. Our role as parents is to act as guides and mentors in the learning process, and to disciple our children in our Faith through our daily example of walking out our faith before their eyes."

--Susan McGlohn

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Goodbye SuperMom, nice to see you Lazy Mom

So, I'm up bright and early this morning for some reason. Maybe it's because I relaxed yesterday afternoon instead of wearing myself out trying to be the perfect mom and housekeeper, and even went to bed on time. Yesterday I realized why I'm usually much more lazy than I was on Monday or Tuesday. Because I get GROUCHY.

My idea for this week was to try to stay more organized in my approach to parenting. Normally, I get away with ignoring the dishes until the next morning and the clutter until it's out of control, and I feed or give attention on demand instead of anticipating the boys' every need. (I've considered changing this blog's name to Lazy Mom since it might be more accurate.) I knew I'd have to increase my involvement this week to keep everyone happy, including myself. But I should have taken a break on Tuesday instead of getting so obsessive about it. I don't think I sat down between 4 and 8 p.m. except for 10 minutes to eat dinner. That might be normal for some parents, but NOT for me.

So, instead of lying in bed another hour just because I could have, I got up and made my tea so I'd be sure to finish it before I had three hungry boys to take care of. Having a few minutes of quiet first thing in the morning really does make a difference. Maybe today I won't have to lock myself in the closet.

On that note, I don't think my friend's ex was simply overwhelmed by his role as a daytime parent. Apparently he spent much of the day sleeping while his grandfather or brother watched his son. He had a history of self-centered decision-making, which was why their marriage ended in the first place.

The two full-time, at-home dads I know very well are FABULOUS in their roles. There is nothing in their genetic make-up that prevents that possibility.

Well, my boys are up, and sippy cups must be found. After all, Lazy Mom didn't finish the kitchen last night. But she IS in a good mood. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Dr. StrangeLove and the Disappearing Dad

Could someone explain to me how my 4.5 and 3 year-old children, who haven't seen their doctor in two years, could have suddenly invented the all-too-familar "Doctor" game completely on their own?? They've been chasing each other around the living room saying, "I need to check on your penis! I'm the doctor!" since dinner.

Hmm, maybe taking them with me to my ob appointment last week wasn't such a great idea after all...

On a completely different note, I'm watching my friend's son all week since her ex-husband, who watched their son during the day while my friend worked, decided to leave town indefinitely with no notice. Dropped some toys on her doorstep after bedtime on Sunday with a goodbye note for their three-year-old. Seems that after less than a year of caring for his son for 40 hours a week, it was time to do something for himself. But don't worry, he wrote his son, Jesus will take care of you and your Mommy.

EXCUSE ME??? Is that what he considers Christian ethics?? Go do whatever the heck you want, leave your son with no notice after he's been used to spending all day with you, and call it FAITH?? Oh, well, your son has been baptised now and has godparents, I guess your work is done. Yes, Jesus WILL take care of my friend and her son, with the help of her friends and family, and her own faith and hard work. And the COURT will be terminating your parental rights since you think so little of your paternal responsibilities.

AARGH. Please pray for my friend and her son, that getting full custody and child support goes smoothly, and that the trauma for this small boy is somehow lessoned as much as possible. So far things have gone well at my house, but it's only been two days.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A little local lactivism

Dear Medical Group Prenatal Orientation Co-ordinator,

I attended the 4 p.m. orientation you led on Wednesday, Nov. 2, as I am 11 weeks pregnant with my third child. I am a patient of Dr. D--, and am happy to have found a doctor with as much respect for natural childbirth as he has. I was very glad to hear about your full-range doula care service. I hope the praise and admiration for doulas that you expressed convinced some of the parents to make doula care a priority. I was also excited to see that the group offers prenatal massage. I plan to use that service myself as much as possible.

I know the Medical Group is interested in promoting the best health for mothers and babies. So I was quite concerned with the wide use of formula and formula company-sponsored items during orientation as incentives for the mothers in your care. I'm sure you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of baby's life. Breastfeeding is not just one option mothers can choose for feeding their infants -- it is exactly what all babies need and want.

Giving free formula to mothers so early in their pregnancies sends a dangerous message that could damage their baby's health. Nearly all the women who attend these orientations should have no problem producing enough milk to breastfeed exclusively with the right support. But many babies cannot digest formula at all, and their mothers find out too late -- after their milk supply has been weakened by supplementing. These mothers cannot use the coupons or free samples, but must spend their own money on specialized formula to replace their lost milk. Given proper information about breastfeeding in advance, they could instead make the perfect food for free.

Perhaps as mothers fill out medical history and diabetic risk forms, you could remind them that NOT breastfeeding increases their risk of developing breast cancer. You could add a box on the diabetes risk list for women who were formula fed, since feeding a baby formula instead of breastmilk increases his or her susceptibility to diabetes, among numerous other diseases.

You could also hold a drawing for free breastfeeding class coupons, and offer diaper bags sponsored by companies that make nursing pads or breast pumps as incentives. Personally, I was disappointed that I could not participate in the drawing for the gift basket because I would have to add my name to a Similac mailing list.

Assuming that all expectant parents are interested in free formula samples sends the wrong message about what method of infant feeding is normal, healthy and best for baby and mother. Breastfeeding is the gold standard. No formula, however advanced, can fully replace it.


Crunchy Christian Mom

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

UberDad's got morning sickness.

So, here it is 11 p.m. already -- the first time in nearly two months that I've been up past 10. And I haven't blogged yet. It's a wonder anybody still checks this thing.

But YES! I am nearing the end of the first trimester, and I actually have energy again! I'm not nauseated 24 hours of the day! Only one or so, which isn't that bad.

Unfortunately, my poor hubby can't say the same. He's been sick for two days. Thinks he's developed an alcohol sensitivity, probably related to yeast overgrowth. He just picked up a few cases of wine that his mom gave him from his father's collection. Now he can't even look at it.

So, we're back to attempting the sugar-free diet. The boys aren't doing that one so well. Maybe if I could bring myself to finally throw away the Halloween candy...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

My baby is three.

While my youngest child may technically be the one growing in my belly, Grouper is still my baby -- and my baby turned three yesterday.

THREE YEARS OLD. Of course, that still sounds pretty little to me. When Puffer turned three, it seemed so OLD. I suddenly realized that my chance to make a significant impact on his life was OVER -- and I'd probably COMPLETELY SCREWED UP the little time I'd had. Thank God I no longer believe in those studies that say it's the first three years that truly matter. I actually think children need their parents FOREVER. You know, with reasonable limitations as they get wrinkles. (Don't worry, Mom, I'm fighting mine with Arbonne products.)

I'm going to brag, and then it's going to come back and kick me in the butt, BUT... Grouper has been sleeping all night in his own bed, WITHOUT a diaper, and WITHOUT nursing until the morning!!! Somehow, he's realized that this turning 3 thing is a big deal. He's made some serious progress on using the potty over the last few weeks.

He has been pretty tired of wearing diapers, doesn't want them at night or the day, but I told him that he would have to wear one at night if he was going to nurse. Thus, he's given up night nursing besides once at bedtime. The times he's gotten cold and climbed in bed with me around 4:30 a.m., he just snuggles next to me. He has quite an incredible bladder, nonetheless.

Oh, and look who's up from his nap and ready to nurse? ;) He IS still my baby...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The heartbeat

Today was our first midwife appointment. After an hour of chatting and catching up, we finally made it to the bedroom, so I could lay down and she could use the Doppler to try to hear the baby's heartbeat. I'm at nine weeks, so there was a chance we wouldn't be able to hear anything yet.

UberDad found the fundus first. He got pretty good at guessing fundal height correctly during the last two pregnancies. Then the midwife started listening. First she found my own heartbeat, on my side of the placenta. Then, after another minute, came the much quicker pulsing of the baby's heart. Hearing that sound the first time is so exciting! The boys were both in the room to listen, too. In that moment, the pregnancy becomes more than a combination of first trimester physical discomforts. The Baby is suddenly a reality of the current moment, not just an abstract idea or image of the future.

I found out today that one of my best friends is going to have a boy. She has two little girls already, so this was very exciting. We'll see in another two months whether she and I will be keeping our tradition of birthing opposite genders, and can trade all our baby clothes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Misc. updates

Yikes! I guess I've been ignoring my blog for a couple weeks, haven't I? Besides that last random iPod share, which apparently was difficult to find.

Anyhow, we had a great time in Anaheim. The conference was fabulous, I met the woman whose twin homebirth story I've been sharing for months, and came home inspired. The boys loved Disneyland, and we survived the crowds. My mom even let her mind leave her worries about my grandmother for a few hours.

On that subject, she's back in her own apartment after a third stint in the hospital. There's nothing wrong enough with her for them to let her stay indefinitely, but neither is she truly capable of living on her own anymore. Unfortunately, she's refusing all help from my mother, and still hallucinating terrible things about me, my dad, and my sisters. So, we're still praying and hoping nothing dreadful happens.

I had a four-day reprieve from 24-hour-sickness last week, which was lovely. Then my dear friend Emily came and helped clean my house the day of my Passion Party, which was almost more lovely. By the time I got home from a baby shower on Saturday afternoon, however, the sickness had returned. So, I've been napping a lot, and knitting some, and trying to do laundry in between.

Oddly, the reprieve from feeling pukey came at the same time as I was avoiding sugar and dairy and taking anti-yeast herbs. Then it returned after I had cake at both parties. So, I'm wondering if it's possible to rid myself of this misery by adjusting my diet again. UGH. It's SO hard to give up sugar!! The boys begged me to make banana bread Sunday night, so of course I had to oblige.

I did make a fabulous vegan minestrone soup tonight, which was perfectly healthy -- if you don't count the butter on the bread we ate with it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A different way to think of nutrition for children

I'm listening to an interesting online radio show right now about the Chinese perspective on the infant digestive system. Go here to check it out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Feeling pukey

Where do I get these brilliant ideas? You know, the one that went something like this... plan to get pregnant in September, so that I'll be nauseated and tired all through our October trip to Disneyland and will want to sleep through the conference seminars, and then commit to hosting a party the Friday after we return, even though the house still isn't totally put back together and I haven't mopped the floors in three weeks.

I must be having a girl. At least one. 'Cause I don't remember feeling like this with either of the boys. With them, all I had to do was snack a lot. With this one, I'm snacking all the time and still feel sick pretty much 24 hours a day. My stomach, hips and butt are getting bigger by the minute, and my back hurts because I can't use my abdominal muscles or I'll feel more nauseated. 'Course, I still can't really complain, at least I'm not actually puking.

Now I have to go use the tiny bit of energy gained from my cheeseburger, fries and vanilla milkshake to pack for three days in Anaheim. So much for my healthy pregnancy diet. Give me SALT! All I want is SALT!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A quiet crafty day

We finished off a very social week with a quiet day at home today. I caught up on some housework while the boys played. Then we baked cookies together and made sock puppets.

I'm going to attempt to make as many Christmas gifts as I can this year. The budget's requiring it after a rather extravagent summer of home improvement. Plus, I'm sure I won't have my hands free for another couple years after this baby's born. This will be my winter of pregnant craftiness.

I was going to make a trip to the craft store this morning for more yarn, until I remembered to check the closet for the stash I put away after my last pregnancy. I found close to a dozen colors of yarn, half of them full skeins. The boys both want me to knit them multi-colored hats, so I needed to check what I had before making my list. Glad I did, since that'll save me at least $20.

Now, I just need to get my digital camera fixed so I can finally unload and upload the last two months of photos. I'm so bummed that I didn't get to take county fair or apple farm pics during our field trips last week. Then again, I still haven't scrapbooked the photos from those trips from the last two years. But I do want to finally get new pictures to all the grandparents. I've been really bad about that this year.

Anyhow, I'm starting to ramble. Tomorrow I get to take on a dozen three and four-year-olds in the boys' Sunday School class. I think we're going to forget table work and go for a nature walk around the church, and then build forts.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Time to change the name of this blog to Not In Her Right Mind.

This seems like a good time to share a little story from my first pregnancy with you, in hope that you will not take me overly seriously during the next seven months, and will forgive any offenses that otherwise do not fit the me you know and love.

Most of my friends know I am not a huge worrier. But when I am pregnant, I do have a slight tendency to overreact on occasion. UberDad would omit the "slight" and "on occasion" from that last sentence.

For instance... during my pregnancy with Puffer, I was working full-time for a newspaper, and got off work around 6 p.m. UberDad got off work by 4, but generally called me before he left. So, one day near the end of my pregnancy, it was close to 5 p.m., and he hadn't called, and hadn't told me of any extra meeting he had to attend. So, I called the school to check on him. This was long before we joined the rest of those living in the 21st century and actually owned cell phones. This was also before the school he worked at had phones in the classroom.

The school secretary answered the phone, and the conversation went something like this...

"Hi, this is UberDad's wife, is he still in?"

"Well, I don't know. I haven't seen him."

"Were there any meetings scheduled?"

"No, not that I know of."

"Do you think you could check to see if he's around for me?"

"Well, I can't leave the phone, there's no one else in the office to answer it."

"You can't leave the phone. And you don't know who's there and who isn't. So, WHAT'S THE POINT OF ANSWERING IT?? My husband could be DEAD on the road from a car accident, but I can't even find out whether he's still at work because YOU'RE TOTALLY USELESS!!!!"

Yes, it was just about that bad. Yes, I am ashamed. Yes, I need Jesus.

So, anyhow, if I've offended you, please forgive me. I know it's a terrible excuse, but I'm pregnant.

Defining child abuse

Dear friends and other readers, it looks like I need to do some clarifying. A good friend of mine wrote me very concerned about the reference in my last post to spanking as child abuse. I do NOT believe all spankers are child abusers. I should not have even used the term in my last post, because it is so very loaded. Some people consider even homeschooling child abuse, or at least neglect. It's not a term to be used lightly, imo.

To me, child abuse is something that would require Child Protective Services to interfere with the parent-child relationship. That would require that the child is not being cared for, physically and/or emotionally, and is truly suffering.

There are parents who are so drugged out they haven't gone grocery shopping or done laundry in a month, and their children go hungry, wear dirty clothes, and get themselves to school just to survive. They're neglected. There are children of raging drunks who watch their every move to avoid being hit. They're being abused.

There are parents who spank because they think they have to, but have no decent understanding of normal childhood behaviors, and so spank much more than they otherwise might. There are parents who don't believe in spanking, but scream and yell about every little thing the child does. The children of both these parents might be suffering and have a hard time believing their parents love them. But would the inconsistencies of foster care be any better? Doubtful.

Then there are parents who care for all their children's needs, who dole out humor and affection daily, and who also believe that children sometimes need physical discipline. Could their children be suffering inside? Maybe, at times, depends on the child. Do they know they are loved? Most likely. Are they being abused or neglected? I don't think so.

This is what I think: the more affection and attention children receive from their parents, the more negative experiences they can survive. Children are resilient. They might learn things from our mistakes that we'd rather they not. But we will not avoid making any.

I am NOT a perfect parent, as you all know. My parenting philosophy is pretty radical, and my children might not fit in perfectly with the rest of our culture. Not everyone wants to take that risk. UberDad and I are pretty different, so we figure our kids don't have much chance being normal anyhow. :) We'd rather them be free to be themselves, even if that makes our lives a little more challenging along the way. I hope that clarifies.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Just so you know, I'm not complaining.

The boys dragged me out of bed before 8 this morning because they wanted to go to church. After all my worrying and fussing about the coercive forces of Sunday School. I did not want to get up. I had just laid down. Or it felt like it. I guess it had been a solid three hours or more.

Last night I made brownies. Obviously I am no longer following the Don't Get Fat Just Because You're Pregnant diet. Instead I'm trying the Eat Every Hour to Avoid Feeling Pukey diet. I made the brownies because UberDad asked for them on Monday, and I was just finally getting around to it. Plus we had impromptu guests for dinner.

So now I must warn you: brownies are suprisingly stinky as puke. But before you empathize with the normal signs of early pregnancy -- it still wasn't my puke. It was Puffer again. Apparently three full-size brownies is one or two too many for a boy whose tummy was just starting to recover from that icky bug he'd caught. He woke up around midnight and made it to the bathroom just in time to let it out all over the towel and dirty clothes that had been left on the floor after bathtime. I was so proud of him for not puking on his bed. Of course, I had just finally fallen asleep when I heard him start coughing. UberDad actually made it to him before me, which NEVER happens.

We got the sleepy child and the bathroom cleaned up, and I only had to lie next to Grouper, who had woken up despite our attempts at puke-secrecy, for another 20 minutes before I could go back to my own bed. As I lay there trying to go to sleep again, I remembered a "humor" post someone had sent to our local homeschooling list, which I had found offensive because of a reference to spanking. And, since I couldn't relax anyhow, decided to get up and groggily write an appropriately self-righteous response to let them know that I don't find child abuse funny. So much for brilliant ideas arrived upon in the middle of the night. Now most of the people we see at Park Day are unlikely to ever speak to me again.

I went back to bed after that, but soon realized it was time for snack. Ate applesauce. Tried again. 3:30 a.m. arrived. Grouper was climbing onto the bed to nurse. Gave him one side, then had to get up for another snack. Ate some string cheese. Tried to go back to sleep, but was too hot between husband and child, plus there was a weird smell in the room I couldn't figure out. So I got up and laid down in Grouper's bed. That's where he found me at 7:30 this morning.

I was SO prepared to sleep in until 9 and skip church. As it was, Grouper didn't want to go into the Sunday School room with Puffer, so he came and sat quietly next to me through the service. NOT. He was okay for a little while, but then his best friend arrived, and the two them did everything they could to entertain themselves and the back three pews, including responding to the sermon with enthusiastic affirmations ala Black Pentecostal congregations.

A little childish noise might not be a problem in some churches. But we attend a VERY conservative Episcopal church where the children come in after the sermon for communion, and parents spend significant energy on shushing even the slightest whispered chatter. Next time Carla and I will have to sit in separate pews, or else leave the boys in Sunday School despite any protests or concern for the potential for great damage to the 3-year-old room.

Now, I'm ready for my nap. But not before I have another snack.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Found Nemo

*Sigh.* Sad news this morning. I fed the fish this morning, and noticed that Nemo wasn't coming out to eat. I looked all around the tank, and there he was -- stuck in the side of the filter. Ironic, no?

That's our second fish loss in two weeks. Last week we lost the yellow tang, still not sure how or why. UberDad found the tang. I'm a little grossed out now, and haven't told the boys yet. UberDad'll have to fish out Nemo when he get home. I just can't do it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How's this for a visual?

So much for Park Day. Puffer woke up at 3:30 this morning blowing red chunks. I mean that literally. Across his bed, his brother's bed, the rug, my arm, and into the bathroom. Three loads of laundry from five minutes of puking.

Fortunately, the event has not yet repeated itself. Not that Grouper couldn't do the same thing tonight. But hopefully not. I won't let him eat apple slices and tomato before bed. Puffer went back to sleep after a nice bath and new sheets, but has eaten very little today. I made banana bread, 'cause I thought that might help him feel better, and we played Battleship this afternoon. It's been a pretty lazy day. The house is a mess.

My mom offered to babysit so Scott and I can go out to dinner with my sister and her fiance tonight. Hopefully everyone's food will stay in their tummies while we're gone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Potty Learning Progress Report

Oh, I guess there is one more significant thing happening here. Grouper has used the potty to pee in TWICE this week. This really is significant, even though he's used the kitchen floor a few more times than that. At least he's no longer completely averse to the idea. Now, if only he'd start pooping at home instead of only when we go out somewhere.

Craziness runs in the family.

Well, life around here has been pretty well focused on the subjects of my last two posts -- my pregnancy, and my maternal grandmother. My parents went down today to visit her in a psychiatric hospital where she's been since Saturday night, when she called 911 five or six times. The police finally decided she needed to be taken in for treatment.

That was actually her second check in to a hospital this week. The first time she was diagnosed with severe dehydration, a UTI, and a small mass was found on her brain. So far, the doctors aren't saying much about the mass, except they don't think it's related to the dementia, which apparently has been going on for quite a while, possibly a decade.

Unfortunately, my grandmother been the stubborn naturalist she is, she's refusing any treatment. They rehydrated her, but after two days she ripped out the IV. They got her to take anti-psychotic medicine for a couple more days, but now she's refusing that, too, and is on the phone every day with patient rights activists. Apparently she's taken to keeping an eye on all the other patients, too, to make sure they're being treated well. She was a nurse, after all.

The hardest thing, besides knowing that she's having disturbing hallucinations, is not knowing what's going to happen next. My parents haven't hired an attorney yet, but that's probably going to happen soon, because the doctors can't share much information with them otherwise. We don't know how long they can keep her in the hospital. She's talked to psychiatrists, but it's not going to do much, since she won't take the meds, she's extremely secretive, and her brain has been imagining impossible scenarios for much longer than we realized. Apparently she said some things to my middle sister quite a long time ago that coincides with what she's told us this summer.

Anyhow, it's been pretty wearing, and the hormonal exhaustion has been setting in. It's time to cut back on activities a little, so I can keep up with the basics at home and still be in a good mood for my family. I can push myself when I'm tired, but not when I'm dizzy or really cranky. I have to eat more often, but still try to avoid sugar. NO MORE SCONES. As yummy as the one I had this morning was, my blood sugar dropped so fast I had to sit down on the floor of a toy store, and Raving Lunatic Mommy appeared not long after. Ugh.

Thankfully, the boys have forgiven me, and tomorrow's a new day. Park Day, even.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

More news

Doesn't it seem like good news always must be accompanied by bad? Today's news is about my grandmother.

Yesterday she called me and said some really weird things. She talked for 45 minutes, but I never got to tell her my news. She's always driven us a little crazy, but this time she was completely loony. She's been hearing things in her apartment all summer, and we didn't know what to make of it because reality was mixed in just enough to make us wonder. Plus she lives two hours away. We've known she has paranoia issues for a long time, but this went way beyond exagerrating everything she hears on the news. But she's so secretive and controlling, even though we suspected she probably had vitamin deficiencies from not eating enough, we couldn't do much about it.

Anyhow, yesterday it became obvious that she's been hallucinating severely, and is blaming my parents for all the things she's been hearing. My mom went down after a disturbing phone call, but my grandmother was completely irrational and kicked her out. My poor mother felt helpless.

Fortunately, my grandmother called 911 last night after having visions of flashing lights and possibly a fire, and got herself checked in to the hospital. It the best thing that could have happened. If my mother had tried it, she never would have gone. Today we found out that she's severely dehydrated, has a UTI, and has a mass on her brain, although the doctor said the latter is probably not related to the hallucinations.

So, we're praying that somehow they can get her treatment, or at least feed and hydrate her enough to stop the hallucinations. If that doesn't work, I don't what else they can do, because she thinks she's allergic to all medications and would never admit to mental illness. Plus, she's still too sharp to slip anything past her. She will not be coerced.

Anyhow, please pray for her. And my mother. And me. Thanks, friends.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Aaahh, UberDad took the boys next door to play XBox, the house is quiet, and I finally have a moment to sit and write. Yes, so I have company coming over in the morning, and there are dishes on the counter, the bathroom's dirty, and I still haven't unpacked our suitcases from Labor Day weekend. Gimme a break -- it's only been two weeks!

Besides... I have news to share. Let me warm up to it. First, I think everyone should know that s-e-x without a diaphragm is a heck of a lot better than s-e-x with. I didn't realize how much spontaneity was missing because of having to take the time to mess with the horrid thing. I didn't think it was a big deal. Apparently, I'd been pregnant and/or nursing for so long I didn't have much of a memory of S-e-x Before Children.

Anyhow, suffice it to say that it's been good. Really good. And, apparently, successful.

By now, unless you're 8 (in which case -- you shouldn't be reading this! Go find a game site to play on!), you've probably figured out my news. Yep, Offspring #3 has implanted him/herself in my womb, and if everything goes well, should be ripe sometime around June 1, 2006. (For those of you doing prenatal math in your heads, that means I'm just four weeks along, which isn't much at all.)

As much as I wanted to keep my mouth shut for a little longer, I should have known not to take that Early Response test. I have no willpower. Then again, I did manage to go AN ENTIRE DAY without sugar yesterday on my new Refuse To Get Any Fatter Just Because You're Pregnant Diet.

So, this means that I'm finally paying attention to what I eat. There's no deadline like a due date. I might even start taking a Prenatal Yoga class on Saturdays. (It looks like the Saturday night church service won't get going until sometime after Christmas.)

And now, I must go read stories to my secondborn, who, by the way, is still nursing, despite the decreased pain tolerance of my nipples.

Please pray that my chipper mood remains for the duration of this pregnancy, and that the pregancy itself lasts the full nine months -- but no longer.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Something smells STINKY

Grouper came to me this morning to announce the arrival of something "messy" in his underwear. No, he's not potty-trained. He refuses to use the potty. He also generally refuses to wear diapers. But he LOVES his Power Ranger underwear, and makes sure I keep up on the laundry he creates.

Anyhow, so we're in the bathroom getting him cleaned up, and he says, "Eew, something smells STINKY." And I say, "Yep, that would be the poop." And he says, "No, I think it's Emma." As in, Emma the cat, who was innocently sipping water from the bathroom sink.

Apparently, denial of the stench of our own crap begins early.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Weekly posts just don't cut it.

All of my writing this week was directed toward those potentially involved in starting up a new family-integrated service at church. I completely forgot to write for God's Gals on Monday -- sorry, Laura! :(

We also attended our first-ever all-vegan potluck to celebrate my friend Sarah's 35th birthday. I made a Thai peanut pasta dish. Not as great as expected. But the tofu coconut birthday cake was quite yummy!

AND... I made significant progress on overcoming the messiness of my house. Inviting over a dear friend who hadn't yet seen the new floors was my motivation. Today I finally got out the paint and started on the quarter-round molding that needs to be installed. That's been the big project looming over my head as we've gotten back into our busy social routine. Once the molding's installed, we can finally move the rest of the furniture in, and empty all the boxes that are taking up all the play space in the playroom.

All in all, it's been a pretty good week. Lunatic Mom hasn't been around much. Unfortunately, my blogging muse also appears to be on vacation. Thus, all you're getting today is this boring update.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


You may not have noticed, or you may have, that I've been in a funk for the last couple months. Something happened that I don't think I blogged about, but it was related to the ending of our relaxed weekly homeschooling co-op.

Well, apparently the whole thing affected me more than I let myself admit, and I kind of closed up emotionally and didn't realize I needed to grieve the loss and connect to my friends more. Until today. It's as though the loss and grief being experienced across the gulf reminded my soul of its own loss and grief, though smaller in scale.

This morning I found myself in the shower getting angry with someone I love about something completely unrelated, and I couldn't snap out of it. It wasn't something I wanted to confront the person about, because it couldn't be changed, and it wasn't even particularly rational. Instead, I packed up lunch and took the boys to meet our homeschooling group at the park, hoping I could escape myself by being with friends.

That was good, but it was also an unconscious reminder of what was lost, and what hasn't yet been recreated.

Fortunately, I married my life coach. UberDad is a pretty perceptive man. Rational, objective, and perceptive. He gives good advice. After I talked about seemingly unrelated things, trying to piece together thoughts and reasons for my funk, he reminded me of that event in early summer. And the tears came. I always know when truth has been reached when the tears come, even if I'm not sure what that truth is.

It seems it's time for some community rebuilding. We've been doing a lot of that with church friends through our small group and knitting night, but I need more. I have other (namely, unschooling) friends who are without a church home, who are looking for a truly family-friendly place to worship and fellowship.

So, I'm praying about a new possibility, and brainstorming how to make it work. Pray with me?

Monday, September 05, 2005


While I'm not the best about keeping up with the news, I'm not completely oblivious to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced and devastated by Katrina. (I'm pretty sure that name will soon drop completely off every list of popular baby names.) Though it did take me a couple days after the storm to get filled in. Not unlike the federal government, apparently.

In times like these, I have a hard time looking at the death and destruction. I'm not one to slow down to check out wrecks on the side of the freeway, so long as there are emergency personnel present. But something this far-reaching is much harder to ignore. I want to have faith that God is present and in charge even in the midst of our horror and grief. That He has some kind of plan and purpose to enact through this display of force and strength by His own creation.

We enjoyed the more peaceful, beautiful side of that creation at our church family camp this weekend. Spent two days in the Sequoias enjoying the clean air, enormous evergreens, and time to walk through the woods, drive to the lake, or just sit by the fire -- no cooking or cleaning required. The experience contrasted so dramatically with the suffering of those in Lousiana, Missippi and the rest, it was difficult to think about. Even as I had trouble sleeping on the hard, narrow camp bed with my almost 3-year-old son plastered to my side, how could I complain? I had a bed to sleep in. I had an intact home to return to as soon as I wanted. I had my children and husband with me.

In fact, despite our peaceful surroundings, I wondered how much more God's Spirit was at work across the country in the aftermath of the hurricane. Even as new life grows out of the ugliness left by a forest fire, the chaos and filth left behind by Katrina might be more fertile ground for human displays of genuine community, love, and depth of life. Shock, fear, grief and anger come first, of course. But I have to hope that stories of love, hope and bravery will follow.

In the meantime, we can send blankets to refugees, volunteer at our local Red Cross, and pray. It helps to do something, and prayer isn't a small thing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My living room no longer resembles a skating rink.

Hooray! The sofa and love seat are here! They're cushy and comfy and have New Couch Smell, which is otherwise known as toxic outgassing of fabric protectant spray. Well worth it, considering their first official use was by a naked 2-year-old and his artificially-colored bubble gum.

We got home from the first park day of the season to discover that they'd been delivered while we were out. I made the boys take a bath since they were filthy. And then Grouper was ready for a nap and Puffer was ready for some cable. So, no one sat on them all afternoon until Grouper woke up while I was starting dinner.

Some day I'll get photos posted. They're very cute!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Balancing act

So, my post is finally up at God's Gals, and I added an update. We didn't go to the moms group at church this morning, but I still need to call the leader and let her know why, and that I won't be able to recommit to the group after all. I like most of the members on an individual level, which is one reason it was so hard to admit that I don't belong there.

In general, it's been a challenge for me to find balance between staying home and going out, family time and time with friends. My eldest prefers to be at home, playing on the computer or with a friend. His brother loves to GO, or at the very least, be outside riding his bike. My personal tendency is to make too many social commitments, or else to spend too much time on the computer or otherwise preoccupied and not playing enough with the boys.

It is one of my goals this fall to stay aware of what's working for us all, and what we can live without. Our homeschooling group is growing rapidly, and there are now way more activities than we could possibly commit to. Plus we have a new family small group through church which is awesome (who but Episcopalians would meet, kids included, to discuss theology and life at a BREWERY?). We have friends in the group(you know who you are!) who are my role models for prioritizing family time above too many adult-exclusive or otherwise extraneous social events.

Giving up the Tuesday women's group was step one on my road to recovery from an over-active social life.

I'm also trying to balance my personal desire for order and daily rhythm with my children's desire to have me at their disposal and to choose their activities freely. In the process of figuring out this unschooled life, I've sometimes found myself un-schooling *myself* instead of my kids -- and then CHAOS reigns instead of FREEDOM.

Speaking of freedom, here's one of my favorite Bible verses...

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
–2 Corinthians 3:17


What the heck?? It's 1:30 a.m. and I'M STILL ON THE COMPUTER! Not that I've blogged or written lovely e-mails to my dear friends who never hear from me directly. Nope, just up. Browsing. Trying to ensure that I'll oversleep tomorrow so I won't have to go face the Moms Who Think I'm a Freak at church. Read more here in the morning. My post should be up tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Not that you asked...

I've been trying to recreate some balance in our lives the past two weeks, as in, Do Dishes Daily, Blog Weekly, instead of the other way around. But I just have to blog about the subject of Hathor's latest cartoon.

She was pretty furious about a column in Salon criticizing outspoken attachment parents. And I love her cartoon's response. It truly is not fair that parents who base their parenting choices on history, thought and research are the ones NOT allowed to share their opinions. Not that I think anyone should be handing out unsolicited advice to strangers. But AP moms get more than their fair share. I can't tell you how many times people "warned" me that my baby was going to "overheat" or be "smothered" in his sling. AP parents suffer through all sorts of nosy, unwanted questions. "Isn't he potty trained yet?" "He's not still sleeping with you, is he?" "When are you going to wean that child?" or "Why don't you just spank him, then he'll stop that whining!"

I think Ayelet Waldman is correct that advice from AP parents is more threatening to a parent's sense of adequacy than the advice of those whose practices are "often less a matter of conviction than one of convenience." Shouldn't it be? No one wants to be a detached parent. And everyone knows "breast is best," whether or not they want to admit it or do anything about it. But what, exactly, is wrong with conviction? The problem is NOT that AP parents give conviction-based advice. The problem is that human beings are imperfect. They forget that other parents have feelings and love their children. They forget that NONE of us WANT to screw up our kids. And they forget that it's rude to give unsolicited advice to strangers.

On the other hand, I, for one, am tired of giving good advice to people who don't really want it. Did I mention that my last client is using Baby Wise as her parenting bible? She had that baby on a schedule before she even got home from the hospital, and quit breastfeeding not long after that. She had no business taking my class in the first place. She wasn't the least bit interested in natural childbirth, and she thinks that you can't raise a child on less than $80,000 a year.

In other disappointing news... Our neighbors across the street became parents for the first time a few days ago. (That's not the disappointment, of course.) They're very private people, and we haven't been especially forward in our neighborliness because of that. Nonetheless, they know that I'm a breastfeeding educator, and that I was available for any assistance they might need. Unfortunately, they chose to keep their difficulties of the first two days to themselves, and their baby girl ended up back in the hospital with severe jaundice.

My neighbor and friend who lives next door to the new parents brought me the news. She was pretty irritated by the whole scenario, knowing it could have been prevented. I'm frustrated by the fact that they were released from the hospital before the baby was nursing well, just because the mother had an easy birth. But I wasn't surprised that they didn't ask for help.

One of the first lessons we were taught in lactation educator training was the maxim "Don't work harder than the client." In other words, if the mom doesn't want to do the work, there's nothing you can do to make her succeed at breastfeeding. At first I thought it sounded like a cop-out. Aren't we supposed to care about our clients and their babies? Wouldn't anyone who loved their baby and had the right information WANT to breastfeed? We have to start out as idealists, or we'd never bother at all.

But eventually we're forced into realism. When you get that first call from a mom who's clearly looking for a way out, who doesn't really want you to have a solution, only a reassuring "you tried, it's okay to give up now." Because the truth is that a lot of people don't want the information at all. They don't want to do the work, and they don't want to feel any guilt. Ignorance is bliss -- though only when you have no idea of the greater bliss that's available with the right information, motivation and support.

The problem, of course, is that some moms get caught in the middle. They desperately want to breastfeed their babies, and they've tried everything they and their consultants know of, but some piece of information, some amount of support, some act of God is missing, and the bliss they expected never comes. It's not fair.

In the case of our hermetic neighbors, I don't think it's a matter of not wanting to succeed so much as it is our culture's bizarre reverence for medical personnel. As though somehow people who specialize in the care of sick or premature babies in emergency situations would know more about the proper care and feeding of a healthy, full-term newborn than an experienced mother certified in breastfeeding education. They don't. They used to give babies sugar water, for heaven's sake. Not that a NICU nurse can't also become a CLE or IBLCE -- I wish more would! But it's not a normal part of their training.

Another part of the problem is the idea that you can't actually prepare for parenting, that you just have to figure it out as you go, and learn from your mistakes. Sure, that's true to some extent. But there IS information out there. And some mistakes CAN be prevented. Severe jaundice would be one of them.

Anyhow, I think I've gone on long enough. This post went in a different direction than I planned, so maybe I'll actually write again soon. ;)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Checking in.

Hey, we're having a good day so far! I'm really happy to be back in my own house during the day. It's nice just having the computer right next to the kitchen where I can talk to the boys while they play games and I clean. I had a lot of guilt when at my parents' because Puffer's favorite spot was on my mom's bed watching her tv, while I was usually all the way across the house in the kitchen, or down the hall on the computer or watching the other tv in the sunroom. My parents have a huge house, which is perfect when a lot of people are there together. But not so managable when it's just me and the boys.

Our house is an old-fashioned shotgun. So the living room, dining room and kitchen are one long, connected space. Even when the boys are in their bedroom/playroom, we can hear each other easily. The drawback, of course, is that it gets really noisy, especially with the new wood floors and no doors on the bedrooms yet. So naptime will be a challenge until I finish painting the woodwork. I did find a super deal on some cute rugs for the living room. That tones down the noise and give the boys another soft place to play.

Anyhow, not that you needed an explicit description of our layout... just wanted to check in in case anyone prayed that the day would go well. It is, thanks. I even know what I'm making for dinner, and it won't matter if UberDad gets home late. (Chilled chicken and veggie pasta salad, if you wondered.)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bear with me. Maybe this'll end when the sofas arrive.

So, I'm still living between two homes due to lack of seating at our house, and despite the best efforts of my friend Carla, who helped me move the computer back home, the Internet connection isn't working now, and I haven't had time to call about it yet. I finally got the connection back up at my parents' house tonight, and now I'm wasting time writing about computers...

Anyhow, it was a stressful week, and PMS didn't help. UberDad started his new job and worked a few 13-hour days, which I am NOT used to. Despite my cheery first day back on full-time mom duty, by Thursday I was a mess. I started thinking maybe the decision to try for a third baby was completely insane.

Then I remembered that I was probably premenstrual and possibly over-reacting. And, if so, we had some time to rethink the idea anyway. If not, pray for Scott. Poor man has to live with me.

Fortunately, Saturday was my mom's birthday, and we got to have a girls' day. Shopping, movie, lunch, gossip, etc. I'm so darn spoiled. Between bites of cobbler and ice cream, my sister told me she thought I'd been really present and attentive to the boys since she got back this week. As in, way more so than before she left a month ago.

On the one hand, I was very happy to hear this, considering how I felt I'd been all week. On the other hand, it made me wonder just what kind of horrid mother I'd been during the month of July.

I lie. I know what kind of horrid mother I was. The preoccupied, don't-bother-me-I'm-blogging-don't-you-know-I-have-READERS-go-ask-Daddy kind of mother. Ego so big it's a wonder if anyone shows up again to read this post.

Okay, so I'm being melodramatic. But I did default to Scott too much and was pretty bitchy on occasion.

But, tomorrow's a new day. Monday. And UberDad has to work late again. So, if you have time, pray a little prayer that I can be present and attentive, and not distracted by less important things.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Back to work.

So, it's been over a week since I posted that ridiculously long to-do list. And of course I haven't completed them all! BUT -- we did reach my goal of sleeping in our own beds Saturday night! The floors are finished, and are absolutely gorgeous. The first coat of paint is on most of the trim, and the second is on behind the bed and computer desk (though the computer's still not up, so I'm back at my parents' to write this).

Today was UberDad's first official day back to work, though he put in quite a few hours last week. So I went to work, too. I made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, visited with my sister who just returned from Vienna, did the dishes, changed all our sheets, scrubbed the bathtub, washed the car with the boys, swept and hosed off the front porch, and did two loads of laundry while the kids ran in circles and slid all over the new floor. I even got a shower before lunch! Still not sure how I all managed that. Guess it helped that there's still no furniture to sit down on besides a bench at the table.

During Grouper's nap, Puffer and I played a new card game (like Go Fish, but with bugs) twice. And then my sister, the boys and I went out for coffee while we waited for Scott to get home. He made a massage appointment for after work since he could barely sit down after all the strain on his lower back. Then I made a salad, grabbed my knitting bag, and we went to visit friends for dinner.

I think I must have taken my vitamins, too.

So, now that you're updated... here's a link to my posts on God's Gals. I planned to post them here, too, but didn't get a chance. My parents' computer was being wacky this week.

A time for every season

By the way, I've been reading that Enneagram book, and I'm definitely a Nine (sin: laziness). A recovering Nine. At least today.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Have Done, Still Have To Do

I feel like a freight train so overloaded with cargo that at the next bend in the track everything's going to topple out of my cars down a mountain and crash into the sea.

This is my to-do list for the week:

Help Scott clean the living, dining and bedroom walls, and tack floors to prep for finishing.
Return phone calls to two good friends whom I haven't spoken to in a month.
Wash diapers and fold three other loads of clean laundry.
Unload and reload two dishwashers.
Dig through three weeks of mail for last month's bills before the water and power get turned off.
Sweep and mop two kitchen floors and three bathrooms.
Make salad and attend potluck planning meeting for homeschool group Monday night.
Search mess in boys' room for copy of "The Great Divorce" before church book discussion group meets Tuesday night.
Prep and paint baseboards in living, dining and bedroom.
Help Scott measure molding for around the floor.
Shop for bedframe so we can move mattress into bedroom.
Shop for curtain material, take sewing lesson from Mom.
Pay overdue CAPPA membership dues, register for childbirth conference, reserve hotel for Disneyland trip.

This week I've been living in a vacation fantasyland, avoiding the reality of the work ahead of me as much as possible, even as Scott has been laboring nonstop next door. I went to the craft/fabric store FOUR times to shop for scrapbooking supplies (and completed three pages alongside my neighbor -- woohoo!). I went to the yarn shop TWICE for knitting supplies (started making a cover for a scrapbook). Had date night with Scott and went to Target for more scrapbooking supplies. Took the boys to McDonald's with Carla so we could catch up and talk knitting. Started reading "The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective" per recommendation of Madcap Mum. Shopped in catalogues and online for games and books for the boys, went to the toy store once. Attempted to organize a Nurse-Out for World Breastfeeding Week, decided at another mom's suggestion to postpone it a few weeks and do it right. Searched online for knitters from my town, joined a local stitch-and-bitch Yahoo group. Took the boys swimming at Scott's mom's house, vacuumed whole house and watered her plants. Stayed up late to write an essay in my journal about Why Capitalism Sucks and Stay-at-Home-Parents Rock while my dad was using the computer, never made time to type it up as a blog entry.

Well, that about sums it up. I have done laundry, dishes, watered my dying perennials, made lunch for the boys and Scott, and even made dinner two nights. Ate out a lot the rest of the week.

Now I'm going to go to bed like Jesus told me to do. I asked Him last night to wake me up at 7:30 this morning, and he let me sleep in till 9:15. Guess He thought I needed the rest.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Amazing New Baby Product!

Another great link. This is so right on.

Time for some lactivism!

Yesterday my neighbor and I took the kids to the local children's museum to let them run off some steam. It's the perfect place to go on a hot day since it's all indoors. My friend Megan and her family gave us a membership for Christmas (thanks, Meg!!), so it's free, air-conditioned fun!

There were just a few other moms and kids there, and one I recognized from the Nurse-Out Carla and I organized two years ago for World Breastfeeding Week. She and another mom were there together after meeting on the Mothering Dot Commune message boards, so we chatted a bit about birth, cloth diapers, extended nursing, etc. And I realized that it's actually World Breastfeeding Week NOW!

Unfortunately, I haven't really become any more connected locally to other lactivists in the last two years besides my own few friends. I've never been to a La Leche League meeting, or a Breastfeeding Promotion Coalition meeting, although I get the latter's monthly agenda via e-mail. I haven't even been helping out on the Comfortline since management went through some changes a year ago. I'd like to get involved again, but of course I have a million other things I want to do, too.

Anyhow, getting some moms together for a Nurse-Out or other event this week seems like a fairly minor commitment while still being politically active. So, I'm going to see about it. In the meantime, here's a favorite link to 101 Reasons to Breastfeed.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Patience I have none.

"Love is patient, love is kind..."

Despite the many parenting books I've read, the best description of how I want to love my children is still in 1 Corinthians 13. It's one of only a handful of Bible verses that I actually remember easily. It came to mind today when I noticed how impatient I was being with my secondborn, and how my firstborn was repeating my impatient tone when speaking to his friend.

I don't remember what I was irritated by, only that I took on that typical bossy, corrective tone parents like use when we feel a child has crossed some boundary, whether known or unknown, reasonable or arbitrary. We like to imagine it comes from a sense of righteous indignation, the kind born of the belief that our child needs to obey us -- even if that child is only two years old and what we want them to do is unclear or unreasonable. It's easy to remember the verse telling children to obey their parents. It's harder to remain aware of when we're provoking their anger.

My son is bright, verbal and very independent at not quite three years old. Despite his desire to be treated as a grown-up, I sometimes forget that I cannot expect him to behave with the same foresight and understanding of even the least mature adult. What two-year-old does not require patience as he swerves between security and self-sufficiency like an out-of-control driver speeding down a crowded highway?

Hearing my impatient tone repeated by my four-year-old the very next second was painful. Before I could say, "Hey, that's not a nice way to talk to your friend!" I realized where his attitude had come from. And that it wasn't the first time.

Nonetheless, my sudden awareness didn't prevent me from repeating myself at bedtime. While I brushed my four-year-old's teeth, my secondborn discovered the diluted-soda-filled pufferfish sippy cups which were left in a bag beside the bed. When I saw the liquid puddled on the floor beside the bed, the "righteous indignation" arose again. "Why are you messing with those? I asked you to get in bed! If you'd done what I said, I wouldn't have to clean up this mess."

But as I headed to the kitchen with the dripping fish cups, I realized how unfair my anger had been. Where was the love in my attitude? Is that how God talks to me when I don't do what he says the first time, and proceed to make a mess of my life? Of course not! Because He IS patient and kind. He is not rude, or self-seeking. He is not easily angered and keeps no record of my wrongs. I am forgiven everything. And yet, my children suffer my wrath.

Lord, thank you for your unending patience. Please help me love my children as You love me.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

I took the boys to my friend Carla's tonight to go swimming and play with her almost-3-year-old son. UberDad stayed home to continue work on the floors.

The thermometer outside read 110-degrees as we climbed into the lukewarm pool. The temp difference was just enough to relieve our hot bodies for an hour. My body finally relaxed enough that my brain could stop spinning for the first time since we got back.

I'm reading "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg right now. It was a gift to all the Sunday school teachers in June, and the first time I've read this author. This passage made me laugh out loud and sigh in relief:
"There is good news here: Whatever your natural temperament may be, it is not a barrier to your spiritual growth.

Do you tend to be spontaneous, or are you a well-organized-plan-ahead type of person? ... (If you are still trying to decide which type you are, you can pretty much eliminate spontaneous.)"

Um, yeah, that would be me. (In my old life working at a newspaper, I was once accused of being "inflexible," mainly because I expressed irritation when the computer program needed for my specific job was completely overhauled while I was on vacation. Yes, I do like to be warned at least, if not consulted, before major changes are made to my daily life.)

Not much about my home or life right now says "organized." But spontaneity is something I have deliberately chosen to cultivate, if that's even possible, mostly as a coping technique for my inability to set boundaries and my desire to be available to interesting people and opportunities. I want to do the right thing (my sister would say that's because I'm a One on the Enneagram), so sometimes that means doing things spontaneously. But often what that really means is that I plan nothing and wait for things to just happen. And then when nothing happens, I feel all out of sorts because I was expecting something spontaneous. Or, I give up on spontaneous and make plans, only to have something spontaneous make me late for my planned event. Crazy, I know.

So, right now my house is in chaos, and I'm back to craving routine and structure and control ala Flylady (whose been relegated to no-mail for over a year). I think that means I should go to bed now. So I can get up and shower before noon. Unlike today, which was so filled with spontaneity that I never managed a shower.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Back from the beach

So, we got back from the coast last night, after staying an extra day and then getting delayed because of an oil spill on the freeway. We had a great time -- went swimming, shopped, ate lots of good food, suffered PMS, played with the boys at the beach, tried to keep them quiet in the hotel, watched teenagers train to be lifeguards, ate too much ice cream, was a terrible example of sibling rivalry with my sister, survived that, splashed in the ocean, avoided stepping on jellyfish, rented a bike surrey, consumed too much caffeine, swam some more, rode a carousel, walked to a park, shopped some more, took the boys to the zoo, ate some more, and came home. Thanks, Mom, for a fabulous vacation!

UberDad concealed the extent of his progress on the floors while I was gone, and I (mostly) believed him. He met us at the car when we arrived home, and walked me to the door, apologizing that he hadn't gotten farther with the installation than the bedroom. But by that time I knew he was exaggerating (plus I could see the installed floor peeking through a gap in the living room curtains). He had all but two feet of the floor installed, and the rest he and our home improvement guru friend Alif finished this morning. They've done a fabulous job so far, and the wood is just gorgeous. I felt like one of those weepy homeowners returning to their transformed abode on Extreme Home Makeover.

Scott's taking the weekend to rest his sore body and do miscellaneous tasks (like making room in the garage for all the extra lumber) that have to be done before he can begin the finishing process on Monday. The boys and I will be sleeping at my parents' house for at least another week before the bedroom furniture can be moved back in. I have tons of pictures I want to share, but I'm using their computer so it might not happen right away. Chances are good that I won't get to blog much this week, so be patient with me.

Friday, July 22, 2005

And, we're off!

I finally loaded some photos of the work-in-progress. They were taken a few days ago before the Brazilian teak flooring arrived. It's now piled high in the space that's empty in the first picture.

Please pray UberDad's back doesn't give out before this project's done, and that he gets enough help while I'm gone. Now, I've got to finish packing so the boys, my mom, my sister and I can get out of this hot, dusty town and head to the beach!
BEFORE: With the carpet out of the dining and living rooms, this is what's left: partially-stained white pine subfloor covered with plaster and paint from the last remodel.
BEFORE: The view to the front door. The white pine subfloor ends where the old front porch was, the front part of the living room is douglas fir.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Media aliens are eating his brains

So, it's really (restraining foul language) HOT here this week. And there's nowhere to sit at my house but on the bed, which is piled with laundry. And I stubbed my toe on a piece of wood from the immense stack filling my dining room, and I'm not sure if it's broken yet. And I stayed up too late last night sweeping so the boys wouldn't get splinters in their feet, and then watching "Kinsey" (that film about the sex researcher; interesting, but only inspiring in a let's-clear-our-minds-of-the-weirdness sense). And my sister just arrived from Tuscon, but she's hanging out with my other sister who leaves for Vienna tomorrow. So... we went to coffee this morning for an outing, and then the boys and I came back to my parents' house and have basically been watching tv and napping all day.

We're waiting around for everyone to return, which they're doing one by one as I write, so we can go out to dinner. UberDad took Grouper (the boy who loves to go ANYwhere) to Home Depot. And Puffer (the boy who would rather watch TV) is... well, watching TV. After I awoke from my last nap, I was starting to feel guilty about the amount of television he's been consuming today, and in general lately. Then I checked my e-mail and felt even worse. This was the subject head awaiting me from the latest Sojourners Weekly:

"Mass media aliens are sucking out your kids' brains."

Gee, thanks for the subtlety. I was wondering if my guilt was the useful kind, or just the stressed-out, hyperfrenetic, must-be-doing-something-creative-and-useful-at-all-times kind of guilt. The kind I was also feeling after watching part of an episode of "Crafters" on HGTV, where this mother of three-under-5 was showing us how she makes really cool, colorful purses out of DUCT TAPE.

Puffer comes in to ask me excitedly, "Mommy, can you make fudge? It's made with chocolate, sugar and nuts." What? You want me to MAKE something? Obviously, the aliens have succeeded in sucking out the last remnants of his brain and are frying it up for dinner. Which reminds me, I should go get my kids dressed so we can eat.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Yesterday I awoke to the sound of carpet ripping. Today it was the squeal of tires as the back of a pickup stopped just short of my front porch.

My mom told her co-worker that she could have our piano if they could get here to pick it up before the charity truck arrived today. So, the co-worker and her helpers pulled up to our house at 7:23 a.m. this morning. Apparently she really wanted the piano.

The piano and couches are gone now, nearly all the carpet is out, and UberDad and his hired assistant (a former student) are scraping up the gunk left behind. All the furniture except the computer desk are pushed into the middle of the living room where Puffer is attempting to watch outakes of Ice Age. I, of course, am seated at the computer in the middle of the dining room. When I'm done here, I might help out by sweeping up.

Besides the ongoing transformation of my living and dining room, I've been preoccupied with scrapbooking again. My neighbor and I dragged the kids to the scrapbooking store yesterday, locked 'em up in the play area, and attempted to make some progress. I focused on my secondborn's baby album, and got all the way through his first Halloween! 'Course, he was a whole two days old.

Speaking of my secondborn, he's currently napping, so I think I'll leave the noise, mess and fumes and take Number One and my photos across the street where it's quiet and I can think straight.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Can't blog for trying

This is why I don't put my kids to bed at 7:30 p.m., like so-called normal parents... because they wake up at 11 and want me to stay in their bed while they take an hour to fall back asleep. My secondborn is lying in his bed awaiting my return. I tried to sneak out twice and got caught both times. Finally told him I needed to turn out the lights.

I awoke to UberDad ripping the carpet out of the living room this morning. I took before shots to record the mess, and then finally cleaned the kitchen thoroughly to make up for the disaster in the rest of the house. Tomorrow I attack the bathrooms, and Scott rips out the carpet in the dining room.

Boy is calling me... till tomorrow.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A very big moment

Hooray!! Natural potty learning is at work, folks! My 2-year-old has just used the toilet for the very first time! While I soaked and salt-scrubbed my feet in the tub, and big brother Puffer did acrobatic jumps on the bed in front of us, little Grouper worked patiently on his goal. And, lo and behold, it was a success! We are rejoicing! He was very proud of himself. "I pooped on the potty! I'm a big kid!" he exclaimed.

We'll see how this goes when we leave town on Friday for our vacation with my mom. Don't these things always happen right before some excursion away from home that would make diapers more convenient? Well, no matter, we'll take both the diapers and the toilet seat insert he likes and hope for the best.

Did I mention we've decided to go to the beach 120 miles away, instead of to visit my cousin and family 800 miles away? I'm likely to return with fewer funny travelling dramas to share since we're taking the easy way out this trip. My mom decided she wasn't up for 16 hours in the car with my kids after all. She'd rather buy plane tickets for my cousin and babies to come see us. I honestly don't know how people with small children make those big treks across the country. My mom and I are wimps.

On a completely different subject... this is absolutely the most thorough, encouraging explanation of Christian Unschooling I've ever seen. It's long, but well worth the time if you have it.

Friday, July 15, 2005

More lessons from the world's worst housekeeper

Have you ever stuck a couple of overripe bananas in the freezer, thinking you could make banana bread sometime? Did you do it again with the next week's uneaten bananas? And the next week's? Did you ever actually make banana bread? No? Any chance you've got a nasty lingering smell coming from area of the fridge, even after you tossed all the rotten veggies?

In case you were wondering, ripened bananas do NOT last indefinitely in the freezer. And, if you happen to have more than four dozen of them shoved in the door between the frozen peas and frozen juice, you probably won't have time to make banana bread from them all before they rot.

Yes, I learned this lesson myself this week.

By the way, if your cat is ever polite enough to pee on a cloth diaper instead of the carpet, might I suggest throwing it immediately into the washing machine with some cat scent-remover? Otherwise, the scent will simply consume the rest of the diapers, the entire laundry room and leach directly into the kitchen where it will blend horrificly with the scent of decomposing bananas.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Just for fun: Cheesemaking

Need a new hobby? This one's a cinch. If you've never tried it, you're really missing out on some fun. The professionals like to portray cheesemaking as truly serious business, akin to winemaking. But I discovered recipes for both mozzarella and feta completely by accident.

Recipe for Feta (Makes 0-4 servings, depending on your taste for it.)

Take 1 sippy cup. Fill with milk. Give to toddler. After toddler drinks half the milk and tosses cup under the coffee table, leave it there.

Three days later, move coffee table to do pilates video. Discover sippy cup. Take to kitchen and open carefully. The feta should be ready. Store in sippy cup in refrigerator if you don't want to clean cup right away.

Feta cheese goes well in salads.

Recipe for Mozzarella (Makes 0-2 servings. This recipe works best in very warm weather.)

Fill 2 sippy cups with milk. Give to children as you leave the house to run errands. (Come home, put away groceries, make lunch, check e-mail, get toddler down for nap, play games with older child.) One day later, go out to car for missing Bionicle. Note smell. This means your cheese is probably ready. Dig sippy cups out of the bottom of backseat floor, take inside. Drain liquid from sippy cups. Slab of mozzarella should come out next.

Mozzarella is a staple in Italian recipes, though I haven't actually tasted this version. Maybe your cat will want it.

Look! Look!

Isn't the new design gorgeous?!! Laura at Ciao! My Bella! is THE BEST!! (Can you tell I'm excited?) So please, stay, look around, enjoy! I'm going to go finish a few details of my own...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Sanity is for children.

It occurred to me at the dinner table tonight that my children have reached a milestone. This milestone is not one included in the usual Baby Book List Of Incredible Things Your Child Will Do and The Exact Date He/She Should Do Them.

No, the milestone my 4.25 and 2.75 year-old children have reached is usually not talked about at all, much less included in the What To Expect series of Know-It-All parenting books. Perhaps because it's more humiliating than the grave possibility of your child NOT WALKING AT HIS FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY.

Fortunately, neither of my boys were walking by their first birthdays, so I've had lots of time to recover from the realization that some things can't be predicted by books. Nonetheless, this new milestone was not something I expected to happen until at least their preteen years.

What is it, you ask? My children... KNOW THAT I AM CRAZY. Yes, yes, there have been lots of clues, and they're not stupid, of course. So the simple fact that they are aware of my delusions is not really news. What struck me at the dinner table tonight is that they have ACCEPTED my obvious mental illness.

See, here's what happened. Scott and I decided to finally watch "National Treasure" this afternoon, since the DVD was due back at the store tonight, and in five days we hadn't managed to see it. But we started the movie pretty late, and had to pause a gazillion times due to inference from some Very Loud Children, so dinner got started a bit late. Also, while Scott was barbecuing chicken, and I was trying to make taboule salad, the boys needed to be chased and eaten by Mommy Dino several times. By 6:30, the chicken was getting cold on the counter, the onions, cilantro and bell peppers still needed to be chopped, and Mommy Dino was getting hungry for more than just Baby Dinos.

When we finally sat down to eat dinner, the Mommy Formerly Known as Lots O' Fun suddenly turned into Raving Lunatic Mommy. This is how it went:

Family sits down to table, hands are held, thanks are given. Fly wanders into dining room, lands on boy's bread. Suddenly, Raving Lunatic Mommy appears.

She pounds on the table by boy's plate, shouting loudly, "GO AWAY, FLY!!" Fly remains on plate, unperturbed by shouting or pounding.

RLM goes hysterical. "AAAAHHHHH!!!! I SAID 'GO AWAY"!!! GET OFF HIS FOOD!!!!" she shrieks, and slaps boy's bread with her hand. Fly slowly meanders off, rolling his many eyes at his inept attacker.

After an awkward moment, Lots O' Fun returns to the table, wondering what just happened. She looks up to see her sons viewing her with mild curiosity, but mostly undisturbed patience. One boy glances at the fly still working its way to the kitchen. The other takes a bite of his broccoli.

"Mommy just went a little crazy, didn't she?" their father notes. Both boys nod, and continue to eat their dinner.

Do you see what I mean? They didn't laugh. They knew I wasn't trying to be funny.

Do you see why this is so important?! No longer do my out-of-whack emotions have any power over my children! No longer can I throw a fit in order to get my own way! My children see right through me! They know I am crazy, and they remain as unperturbed by it as that DAMN FLY!

This new psychological milestone of theirs has two consequences. First, as I mentioned, there will be no more Manipulation via Tantrum, which has been useful in so many emergency situations, such as when I absolutely HAVE to go to Starbucks. Second -- and this is the GOOD thing -- it means that they are at least somewhat secure in their knowledge of my love for them, and that my chances of completely screwing them up are finally lessoning.

Praise God for his unending mercy and undying sense of humor. Raving Lunatic Mommy may return, but at least she can do little damage.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

It's good to have friends.

Two visits to the mall is usually my maximum for the year, with exceptions for occasional haircuts. This week I got to go two days in a row, thanks to a cell phone cover that didn't fit, and the fact that I forgot to get an urgent birthday present during the first trip.

Upon returning home, I discovered a party had begun in my absence. My husband, wine glass in hand, was seated on the loveseat next to a homeschooling friend of mine, also garnished with a drink. She'd come to see our piano, which we're trying to sell. Her 18-year-old son was playing Halo 2 with our 7-year-old neighbor. The neighbor's sister was in the playroom with two other little girls, both of whom were naked. My eldest was perched on the couch between the older boys watching the game; and his brother was somewhere amidst all the girls. As I entered, a baby cried out and reached for me. The mother of the baby and his siblings, and the father of the naked girls were not in sight.

So, of course, I dropped my bags, picked up the baby, and refilled wine glasses. Unfortunately, I was needed in the playroom before I could pour one for myself. In fact, I didn't get to pee for another hour-and-a-half. By that time, most of the aforementioned guests were gone, and new ones had arrived.

Just yesterday I'd been thinking that I needed to see more of my friends; I haven't been very good about making actual plans lately. A day of spontaneous socializing was just what I needed.

At four o'clock, my 2-year-old finally got his 2-hour nap, and then we headed out for more socializing to celebrate Carla's birthday with pizza, salad and ball pits.

Tomorrow we're going to attempt haircuts again, this time at a new salon just for kids.
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