Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Children updates on this last day of November

1. The scoring of Flip the Poops is similar to that of golf---the lower the score, the better.  I lost dreadfully today because I had to flip the poops 4 times in the late afternoon.  Tonight, while I was at my neighborhood HOA board meeting, D had to flip them once.  That game sucks.

2. Despite purchasing size 3T onesies online as a means of keeping M from playing with his boys at night, pulling his penis upwards and soaking his crib with urine, it seems he has found a way to thwart me.  In his efforts to play with his junk, he just pushes down on the fabric of the onesie in a rubbing fashion, which also pushes the diaper down which ends up in wet sheets and clothes.  That sucks too.

3. Karma is a bitch.  All the grief I gave my mother when doing my math homework as an elementary school student is coming back at me now three-fold as I "help" N do her math homework.  It is not pretty, especially when both the boys are wanting my attention and I'm having to prepare supper.  This, I think, sucks the most.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ask and ye shall receive

I have spent much of the day completing one of my freelance pieces and starting another, so I am more than happy to do as my friend KB suggested, which is to share the poem I wrote for the book club ornament I made.

A Story of a Book Club

Once there was a book club that met the first week of every month.
The ladies would spend much of the time telling stories of their families and sharing snacks and wine.

Eventually they would get around to discussing their chosen book---
Its themes, its characters, the ways in which it delighted some and irritated others.

By years end, it was hard to recall all the titles the ladies had read and reviewed and reflected upon.

Bridge of Sighs, Two Rivers, Jitterbug Perfume, My Name is Asher Lev, The Tender Bar, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Left to Tell, The Paris Wife, Lit, The 19th Wife, One Day and Jane Eyre.  

Every month the book club met.
Seasons passed.
Some ladies moved away, as others moved in to take their place.
Some ladies had babies.
Before very long those babies were growing up.

Months of our lives measured by
pages read,
themes explored,
friendships treasured.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Month of thankfulness

Things I was thankful for via Facebook, November 2011
(My goal was to be thankful for and mindful of the little things....not just the big obvious ones like my husband and kids.)

Nov 1-3
Here's 3 things I'm thankful for (since I missed days 1 and 2 of daily thanks):
*Flavored creamer in my coffee
*English muffins with cream cheese and strawberry preserves
*The free public library's online book reserve system

Nov 4
I am thankful that, for the moment, G is waking me up during the night to pee in the potty instead of for his usual random needs, which are known only to him.

Nov 5
I am thankful that one day I will go through menopause.

Nov 6
I am REALLY thankful for Lexapro and my psychiatrist.

Nov 7
Is thankful for another round (#4) of refinancing the house. Shaving off lots of interest.

Nov 8
Is thankful my parents get back this week from their 14-day European cruise. I miss 'em.

Nov 9
Is thankful for antihistamines, decongestants, allergy shots, guaifenesin, hydrocortisone and all the other allergy-related things I use to keep my head and body from exploding, dripping and itching.

Nov 10
Is thankful all of my children were born healthy, without severe physical and mental disabilities. Sometimes I forgot what a blessing this is in the midst of aggravating "normal" child antics.

Nov 11
Is thankful for the peace that comes with knowing my family is complete and that I won't have to gestate, deliver, nurse or raise any more children than the 3 I have.

Nov 12
Is thankful for the ability to read and write.

Nov 13
Is thankful for the cuteness that is 2-year-olds in footed pajamas.

Nov 14
Is thankful for 6 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep.

Nov 15
Is thankful for my bi-weekly fitness class and the good health to be able to participate in it.

Nov 16
Is very thankful I will be volunteering in N's classroom this morning because my a**hole sons have driven me crazy, and it's only 8:08 a.m. Must get away from them so as not to kill them.

Nov 17
Is thankful for indoor plumbing.  

Nov 18
Is thankful for G's speech therapist, Ms. Melissa. In addition to being a super nice lady, she has helped make huge improvements in G's communication skills.

Nov 19
Is thankful for Tony W, a stylist who "gets" my hair and makes it look great every time. 

Nov 20
Is thankful for having friends in the right places (like Bill T). Networks are a good thing.

Nov 21
I am thankful for public education.

Nov 22
Is thankful for Thanksgiving stories composed by 7-year-olds about a turkey and beans that jump out of the refrigerator and leave the family without a feast.

Nov 23
(no post due to stomach bug)

Nov 24
Is thankful the stomach bug I had was mild and short-lived so I was able to share a Thanksgiving meal with my family.

Nov 25
Is thankful I have neither the desire nor the energy to engage in Black Friday shopping of any kind.

Nov 26
Is thankful for the Zoo and Free Public Library for keeping our family entertained over the long weekend without getting anywhere near a shopping mall.

Nov 27
Is thankful that my husband does the clean-up.

Nov 28
Is thankful to be seeing a good friend this evening.

Nov 29
Is thankful for my husband who, even, though sick with a stomach bug, manned up and watched the kids so I could do Sips 'N' Strokes with my BFF.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I knew this day would come, and I hoped that I would witness it.

It has been coming in small increments---G pestering M in whatever way he felt like pestering and M standing up for himself.  G taking toys out of M's hands, getting up in M's face and blowing raspberries, putting his feet on M's side of the couch while they watch tv.   All of these were followed by M screeching in ager, M hitting G, or M attempting to head butt G.

One day last week M was playing with some monster trucks and G grabbed one or did something that interrupted M's quiet involvement in his toys.  M took a monster truck and hit G on the head, causing G to cry and scream.  G followed up by hitting M in the head with a monster truck, causing M to cry and scream.  Both boys ran to me, tugging at my pant legs, tears streaming down their faces.  I took both boys upstairs for a book and naps.  Sheesh.

Just now, M was playing with a toy in the upstairs hallway.  G did his usual.  I told G to leave M alone.  The next thing I know, I hear M screeching a bit but as I walked over to deal with G, I saw M lift the toy and clobber G in the head with it.  Hard.

This was his weapon.

This is what G had been using to pester his younger brother.

I am hoping it doesn't take G too terribly long to understand that baby boy is no longer just gonna take it.  G will be getting his just desserts.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I screwed myself gift-giving wise a long time ago (also called What I Would Like for Christmas)

When D and I married and for numerous years afterwards, I fretted A LOT about money.  I still fret about it, but the volume is down thanks to my medication.  

Before D and I married and shared joint accounts for everything, I loved it when he bought me flowers and trinkets---before it became "my money too."  After we shared our finances, I hated it when he spent $60 on flowers for me.  What had been romantic and thoughtful when we were engaged became wasteful once we were married.  I very quickly put the kibosh on buying impractical (though romantic and thoughtful) gifts....which I sometimes think was a dumb move.

I simply get more satisfaction, most of the time, from saving money than from spending it, especially on items that I quickly forget about once they are stashed in a closet like clothing, shoes, etc.  If we spend money on the house, like our hardwood floor or our covered deck, I enjoy that spending more because in addition to enhancing our home's appearance, I see it constantly and we get daily use out of it.  Because there is practical value in it, I appreciate it more.

I also value effort far more than I value spending money or the stuff that one can get with money.  For example, if D walks into Kroger and purchases me a $5 bouquet of flowers it means far more than if he buys a $60 arrangement online.  The online arrangement takes no effort on his part since he just sits there at his desk and opens a new browser as he's working.  Since he hates to go into stores for any reason at all, it means more that he makes an effort to buy me a cheap flower arrangement after work at the grocery store.  The money spent completely isn't the point in my book, nor are the flowers themselves.  

With all that being said, there are some things that I would like to buy for myself if I would only do it.   But I don't because I don't really need it.  

Still there are times when other people might want to get something for at Christmas time...and they don't know what I'd like.  And D, who as I mentioned really hates to shop or think of something I'd like, seems to appreciate me laying it out very, very obviously here on my blog.  

So here are some things I would like but won't buy myself ever or for a very long time.  Heck, I saw the Joan Didion book at Half-Price Books for $2 last week and didn't buy it for myself (I am sorta kicking myself for this!).

Some people and children don't think books are a great gift, but I heartily disagree!
1. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson-- I heard about this book on NPR one day and thought it sounded interesting.  
2. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion 
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
4. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
5.  The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
6. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
7. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

1. Black or dark grey ankle-length boot-cut yoga pants.  I have a pair of black ones that are fading and losing their elasticity at the waist and have some stains on the leg.  But they don't have holes in them yet, so I can't justify buying myself a new pair.  
2. Tissue paper blouses.  I see these at Old Navy and like the feel.  Anymore I have to dress in layers because dealing with the kids makes me hot.  It can be 35 degrees outside but if I'm having to lug children and all the paraphernalia they require around, I am usually quite content to wear a lightweight long-sleeve top.  

1. Pretty scrapbooking paper and stickers and notions.  I love all different kinds of scrapbook paper, stickers, ribbons, etc.  But I never have time to browse alone.  And even if I do find time and can browse alone, I can always talk myself out of buying new stuff.  A few years back my mom bought me some random pieces, and I was thrilled to have anything new.  

I guess if there is anything good about being frugal and not buying for myself very often, it is that I am quite easy to please.  

(Dear husband, please save this link for 2012 reference.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Projects out the wazoo

When I get a hankerin' to take on a bunch of projects, I really take on a bunch of projects.  I have been on a somewhat manic project tear lately.  I will be a little glad when it subsides since it makes my usually long "to-do" list that much longer.

My parents purchased a new dining room suite a few months back, so I asked if D and I could have their old one.  When D and I moved into this house in 2001 we purchased a round glass-top table with seating for four, which doesn't quite work when your family is a party of five.  Glass is also very loud when Matchbox cars are banged on it.

The table and chairs are old.  Mom and Dad bought them used when I was a baby, so they probably have at least 40 years on them (I get being cheap very honestly).  Mom recovered the seats when she and Dad moved into their house in 2001 but they are in need of some loving.  D has also been complaining about how hard the seats are (D has a very sensitive ass, which could be the subject of its own blog post).

Project #200,684,629:  Purchase material for the chairs, some extra padding and recover them.

I decided that I wasn't going to get all matching fabric for a couple reasons.  I wanted to shop clearance fabric, and it is often difficult to find a ton of matching fabric in those bins.  Secondly, I thought it would be best to buy somewhat coordinating fabrics rather than all the same so that when the children destroy the fabric (which they will and soon), I can relatively easily find other semi-coordinating fabric without having to recover every chair again.

Here is what a chair looks like with Mom's fabric on it:

I am also going to cover the chair at my desk in the kitchen:

And here is the fabric:

I am quite tired of browns and taupes, and my eye was drawn to blues and greens.  The Jackson Pollack-like print doesn't have either of those shades, but I thought it would be perfect for the boys' seats.  Stains????  What stains????

I also wanted something funky and fun, and I thought these fit the bill.

With a big role of padding included, I spent about $47.

Pictures of the completed chairs to come whenever I get them finished......

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book club ornament

The book club I'm in does an ornament exchange every December.  In the past I have tried to purchase ornaments that somehow related to a book we read.

One year we read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, and that Christmas I just happened upon an ornament at Pier One that looked like a little geisha girl.

This year I had it in my head that I wanted to get an ornament in the shape of a book.  Given that I don't have oodles of time to shop alone, I figured it was going to be nearly impossible to find what I envisioned and at a cost that was reasonable ($5 or less).

So, I decided to make a book ornament.

Inside I wrote a poem about our book club and listed the books we read this year.

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!

Thinking of what I have on Thanksgiving, 2011

(I was side-lined yesterday by a mild stomach bug, so I'll be making up for not posting yesterday with 2 posts today.)

"There but for the grace of G*d go I."

I know that I have lived a very fortunate life.  Born in the US, to educated parents who valued their children's education, who were not alcoholics or drug-addicts, who instilled in me a strong work ethic, who taught me the value of a dollar and of saving a dollar.

These are things over which I had no control.  They weren't my choices.

Like any young person, I made some choices that weren't terribly smart.  But fortunately, I didn't like the way cigarettes made me feel, and I wasn't exposed to hard drugs, and I didn't like the way alcohol made me feel, and I didn't become pregnant before I was emotionally and financially ready to welcome a baby into my life.  These choices were ones I made that somehow worked out for the best---that didn't leave me sick or destitute or addicted or dead.

Throughout my life I have lost friendships and loved ones.  Both of my parents have been diagnosed with cancer (breast and melanoma), and both are survivors because their cancers were caught early and they had the money and insurance to seek and receive adequate health care.  There will come a time when I will lose them, but I would prefer this course than for them to lose me.  It would kill me to lose one of my children, and I would never wish this on my own parents.

My children are, thus far, healthy and will hopefully lead long, productive, mostly satisfying and mostly happy lives.  I am doing what is in my power to ensure that this happens, but much of it has little or nothing to do with anything I might do or not do.

At some point, D or myself could be diagnosed with cancer or some other kind of life-threatening illness, and I hope that I show courage and wisdom in the face of it.

I have dealt with my own emotional demons, and while I know I will never be cured, I also know what I need to do to stay healthy.  I know that being open about my struggles and my medication has helped numerous friends.  Even though for many years I hated my mood disorder and how it made me suffer, in a way it has been a remarkably positive transformative element in my life.

Perhaps it is because I look at life not seeking "the best" life has to offer, but "better than what I have now" that keeps me engaged in every day thankfulness.  Perhaps it is because I do not wish to waste resources or spend thoughtlessly that helps me to be thankful.

Being thankful is being mindful, being reflective.  Being aware of what I think and say and how I act.  Being aware of how little my life is, how my choices have had some but not as much impact on my life as what I sometimes think they have had.

Being aware that it has been through g*d's grace that my life has moved along as it has.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flip the poops

This is the game we play in our house now that G is completely pee-pee trained but definitely not poop-trained.

Here are the rules.

1. Pooping on the potty is NOT allowed (per the 4-year-old).

2. When the 4-year-old boy poops in his underpants, he yells, "Mommy, FLIP THE POOPS!"

3. Mommy accompanies the 4-year-old boy to the powder room.

4. Toilet lids are raised.

5. 4-year-old boy's pants are removed.

6. Mommy turns the underpants so that the poops flip into the toilet.  The goal of the game is to get the poops out of the underpants and into the toilet WITHOUT any poops falling onto the floor.

7. Soiled underpants are removed.

8. Mommy tells the 4-year-old to touch his toes or the floor by bending forward.

9. Mommy wipes the 4-year-old's hieney-butt.

(NOTE:  With Mommy bending over to wipe the child's hieney-butt and the 4-year-old bending over to touch his toes, one MIGHT confuse this game with a very sick version of Twister.)

10. 4-year-old puts on clean underpants and pants and goes back to playing (or stands around naked informing Mommy that he is going to start greeting people from now on with his butt instead of his face).

11. Mommy washes her hands thoroughly and wishes for a soap that would wash the smell of poops from her nose and the vision of 4-year-old hieney-butt from her mind.

Most of the time this game is only played once a day, although some days Mommy is really lucky and gets to play 3 or 4 times.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baby naming

Our cousin is expecting a daughter in the spring and recently selected a name.  In the car this afternoon, I told N the baby's name.  She said, "Ooooo, I like that.  But she might want to name it Claire instead."

N and I got to talking about how the names you think you want to name your child when you are young are often not the names you select once you are actually having your own baby.  When I was a preteen, I liked the name Jocelyn but there is no way in heck I would have selected this for my child as a 30-something pregnant person.  I don't like names ending in -lyn (Brooklyn, Caitlyn, etc.).

Yesterday in a fit of couch-potato-nesss, I watched Freakonomics.  One of the segments in this documentary is about what people name their children and whether a name itself plays a role in how successful a child becomes.

I love the names D and I selected for our children because they are common enough to be recognized as "real" names, not trendy made-up ones that don't stand the test of time.  But they are uncommon enough that you don't hear tons and tons of kids with those names, as you do Emily or Aidan.  I would be willing to bet my children will be the only N, G and M in their classes.

And though I wasn't crazy about my name when I was a kid and still am not a fan of my first and middle names together (Carrie Ann sounds so whiney, but that may be because of the whiney-ness of the Hollies' song), I like each of them individually.

After 38 years, they feel like me.  They fit me to a T.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Travels with me (and my hair)

I didn't really catch the travel bug until after college, but my first adult-like travel adventure was when I was 19.  I went on a 10-week stint in England, Ireland and Wales with a professor and some other students.  I may have sent my boyfriend at home a Dear John letter and gotten temporarily engaged to a guy on the trip (ring included) only to get un-engaged some 4-6 weeks later.  I may also have done a tremendous amount of drinking while on this trip, which, perhaps, explains the engagement.

My hair was longish and shaggy until I got it chopped into a slightly more appealing do' in London.  (The picture below is after the haircut.)

Me and Bono at Rock Circus.

During college I went to two economics conferences---one in Boston, MA and one in NYC.  The NYC one was during my senior year.  That same year I went to NYC with a boyfriend to visit his sister.  When I graduated from college, my mom and I went to NYC as my graduation present.  We saw Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close.  We also rode up there on a bus with a bunch of old folks---we were party animals.  I felt like pretty hot shit visiting the city that never sleeps 3 times in less than a calendar year.

After D and I had been dating about a year, we went on a Caribbean cruise----St. Thomas, St.Maarten, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  It was on this cruise that we became engaged.  By this time, my hair was short again.

Me in Barbados.  

For our honeymoon in 1997, we went to Grand Cayman Island.

In 1998, we went to Las Vegas, NV, the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, CA.  Short hair (and apparently bigger boobs---wtf?).  Also HUGE glass lenses.  

In 1999, we went to Savannah, GA, St. Simon Island and the Biltmore Estate.
In 2000, we went to Virginia Beach, Colonial Williamsburg, and Assateague Island.  I was going through an unfortunate "longish" hair episode.  Clearly I hadn't learned my lesson from shaggy hair college days.  

In 2001, we went to Italy and Greece.  My bangs were longer but the rest of my hair was quite short, a look that I think suits me and was easy to maintain (until I became a mom).  

2002 saw me still sporting this longer "short" cut on our trips to Panama City Beach FL, and then Niagara Falls and Toronto later that year.

My hair was shorter again in 2003 when D and I visited Iceland.  

It was a little longer when we took our first trip with N in 2006 to Gulf Shores, AL.

A little shorter for DisneyWorld #1 in 2007 (in anticipation of baby #2, G, whom I was pregnant with at the time).

Similar style in 2009 when we went to Gulf Shores, AL again (while pregnant with M).

In 2011, a mom of 3 little ones and in DisneyWorld (take 2)---very, very short hair, and it looks to stay this way awhile.

Two things I love in life---traveling and getting my hair cut. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jane Eyre (and Edward Rochester)--how I love thee.....

D and I have begun watching the latest film adaptation of Jane Eyre, a book that I have adored since I was in high school.

I had no interest in the book at the time I first read it.  Had to force myself to read it for Mrs. Daub's class in time to take the test.  I was scrambling, to say the least.  It is a slow read until the orchard scene.  A slow, sometimes painful, burn.

But oh, how that one scene changed it all.  Now I had to force myself to stop reading to satisfy nature's calls to eat and urinate and sleep.

After the test, Mrs. Daub showed our class the 1946 film version, starring Orson Welles as Edward Rochester.  Oh heavens---was I in love.  You can imagine the strange looks I got when I said I thought Orson Welles was a sexy romantic hero.

As a teen, I adored Jane Eyre for its love story.

I reread the book in my twenties, and while the love story was still good, I was more focused on Jane as a feminist.  I read more closely the descriptions of her as elfin and bird-like.

My book club is reading Jane Eyre for our December discussion, and I am interested to see what themes of the book I will focus on this time, as a mother, as a woman nearing her forties, as a woman who has suffered from a mental disorder for some years now.  I wonder if I may pay attention closely to Bertha, if I will feel more sympathetic to her character who in the past has not grabbed my attention too much.

Unfortunately a giant crack on the Netflix dvd has thwarted our attempt to finish the movie this weekend, but I know from what we have seen that Michael Fassbender might just kick Orson Welles out as top Mr. Rochester in my book.

I think I may have actually been holding my breath in the scene where Jane saves Mr. Rochester from the fire in his room and he takes her hand as she is leaving.  Be still my heart.

Who needs porn when you have this!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy anniversary to me

This week marks 5 years that I have been doing this blog.  You'd think in 5 years I'd have some some different things to talk about.  That I'd be more interesting.  

But no.  

It made me feel better recently to read a post by Teacher Tom in which he said he generally writes about the same old stuff but he tries to write in such a way that it all seems new.  

Sometimes I think about when or whether I will stop blogging.  Swistle posted recently about how there are very few bloggers who write about parenting teens but how great of a need there is to read about the experiences of these folks in dealing with their teenage children.  

When I began this blog I was still very much coping with my mood disorder diagnosis.  When I began this blog I only had one child.  When I began this blog I had no interest in or intent to do freelance writing.  

Five years is a blink of an eye and a million years all rolled into one. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More ways I'm using the drop-side baby crib

I have found two uses for the sides of the drop-side crib that we disassembled recently.

Here is what I started with.  I took a side of the crib and cut it in half.

I used some of this.

I bought two of these at Home Depot and sawed off the decorative top part.

I then used some of this to attach the above decorative ends to the gate, to pretty it up just a tad.

More spray paint.
I also purchased 2 black hooks at Home Depot.
And now I have this in my family room.

For the other side of the crib, I bought 2 silver hooks from Home Depot and now I have this in the laundry room, which is perfect since I haven't had anywhere to hang my damp dishrags.  Once they are completely dry, I can throw them into the basket below.

I have another project in the works but it has me using a mitre box.  Scary stuff, but I am hoping it turns out well.  I think the ones I've done thus far have.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mommy, are you going to jail?

This morning I was up at 6:45 a.m. or so, which wouldn't be so bad, but at 2:00 a.m. M woke me up having a crying spell.  Then G needed to pee around 4:00, which wasn't a problem, except then the thunder kept him up, requiring me to squeeze into his twin bed.  I fell asleep and woke around 5:30 with a terrible backache due to cramped sleeping quarters.  And then G was up for good at 6:45.  

Not the worst night of sleep ever recorded, but certainly not a great one either.

At a little after 7:00 a.m., M began throwing a tantrum over....well I don't even know what it was about.  Did I take away the apple he was using as a ball?  Did I refuse to let him have a third Buzz Lightyear vitamin (since 2 is the daily limit)?  Did I strap him into the booster seat because during his tantrum he kept pulling on my pajama pants and head-butting me?  All of the above?  

After M's tantrum, G decided to throw a tantrum because I gave M a Cars bandaid, even though G thinks that he gets dibs on both the Spiderman bandaids and the Cars bandaids.  G was given a time-out in his room, which was fine except for the part where I had to half carry/half drag G up the steps and gently toss set him into the bedroom.  

When I looked at the clock it said 8:08 a.m.  Not even a quarter past 8, and I'm ready to bolt and never come back to these two XY chromosomed idiots.  

Given the boys' penchant for driving me to crazy and back on a daily basis, I may have said recently, in a fit of frustration, that one day Mommy is going to go to jail for hurting the boys when they act like rabied gorillas.  Ok, there's no maybe about it;  I totally said it, and somewhat meant it.

G has latched onto this and now often asks me, as he did this morning while M was pitching a fit but before G pitched his own, if I was gonna go to jail.  He asked, "Mommy, are you fusterated?"  Sometimes after he's gotten up for the 11th time after being put to bed and can see the steam coming out of my ears, he'll say, "Mommy, I don't want you to go to jail."  

While I'm certainly not proud of having mentioned the jail thing and think it drops my scores in the Mom of a Lifetime contest, I also don't necessarily think it is a bad thing for the kids to understand that mommy does get frustrated and that their behavior is quite often the cause of it.  Maybe it is not such a bad thing that my saying the jail thing gets him thinking that maybe some parents do end up in jail for hurting their kids.  

I don't want him to feel scared or insecure or doubt my love for him, but I also think kids also need to learn respect and kindness and that their behavior does have consequences for themselves and others.  It is certainly up to me to control my behavior and not end up in jail, but when dealing with completely or mostly irrational little people with very basic communication skills and no or limited bowel control, jail sometimes sounds like a mini holiday.  

I jest. (sorta)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Santa letters and Superhero qualifications

I had the kids write/dictate their letters to Santa this past weekend.

G keeps adding toys to his, but he's still including the 3 or 4 items he's been yammering about wanting for a month now.

Dear Santa Claus--
I'm behaving so well, being nice, and I want a new toy.  Actually I want a Spiderman helicopter with Spiderman, Captain America and a Captain America truck.  And I want a Frank toy and a rusty Mater.  And I want a Cars 2 movie.  And I want a lollipop.
Thank you for coming to my house.

N's note was a little more wordy, but she gets straight to the point early on.  (I especially like how she wants items 1 and 3-10 but she needs more of #2.)

Dear Santa Claus,
Here is what I want for Christmas.
1. I want some Monster High dolls.
2. I need some more Christmas shirts.
3. I want Barbie princess charm school movie and Smurf movie.
4. I want alot of GUM!!!
5. I want a justin bieber cardboard poster.
6. I want Liv dolls.
7. I want Bratz masquerade dolls.
8. I want more barbie clothes.
9. I want shake it up clothes from target.
10. I want Disney V.I.P. dolls.
Thank you for being my buddie for christmas and all year.
P.S. Leave a note to G and tell him to share the Cars 2 movie with me.
P.S.S. I have been very good!

Later on this weekend, I found this that N had done, and I thought it was just funny as heck.  Edna Mode would totally agree with N's number 1. (Who besides me knows who Edna Mode is without googling it?)

If you can't read it, it says "List the kind of powers your superhero would have?
1. style
2. speed
3. invisibility
4. flexibility

Monday, November 14, 2011

The joy of not being a first-time mom

I know a number of ladies who are expecting their first baby or just recently had their first child.  They are giddy with excitement and wonder and overwhelmed with love, which is just as it should be.  I am very happy for them and excited to see their babies' sweet faces.

I am also happy I am not them.  As much excitement and wonder and love as I felt when my first child was born, there was also an equal amount of anxiety and confusion and disappointment.  These things just come with the territory.

Perhaps the best thing about being a first-time mom is the time to sit and hold your baby without interruption, without having to tend to anyone else but that one infant.  Every milestone is a HUGE milestone as if that baby is the only one in the history of the world to ever smile or toot or drool.

The downside of first-time motherhood is you just don't know what the hell you're doing, and you KNOW you don't know what the hell you're doing.  Every moment is just wingin' it.  You don't know any of the tricks that you realize you've figured out when the second or third or tenth child comes down the pike.  You realize that someone made a huge mistake and made you TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE for this wee babe.  WTF????

I recall the dread I felt when D and I brought N home from the hospital and set her carseat in the living room.  What the heck do we do now?  We wondered how life could continue as normal--- everything was suddenly very different because of this small little person in the room.  I think we just kinda puttered around the house for awhile, wandering from room to room.

Another downside to first-time mothering is you think every stage is gonna last forever.....both good stages and bad stages.  N was one of those exceptionally weird babies who start sleeping 12 hours a night at 4 weeks of age. "We're good to go now!," I thought, anticipating that this was the way it would be forever.  When she started waking up constantly at 6 months of age due to teething, I was confused and unbelievably disappointed.

I sometimes still find it hard to believe that I am a seasoned mom.  Somehow having 3 kids puts me into a weird category of "How do you do it?"  I think about the mom friends I know who have 5+ kids, and I think, "I don't know sh*t.  How do they do it?"

This category of "momdom" brings with it the sometimes slightly smug internal laughter at newbie moms and moms of singletons who lament how tired they are or how challenging it is to care for one baby.  One child is like a spa vacation, but you don't realize this until you have more than one child for whom to care.

Still, I try to be positive for and supportive of all of my mom friends because motherhood is a tough gig, no matter how many you mother or for how long you've been mothering.  

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I don't intend to (ever) do for Thanksgiving

We do Thanksgiving at my MIL's house every year.  Everyone brings a dish, although my MIL still seems to do a lot of cooking---the turkey, of course, but also her frozen cranberry salad and two types of stuffing (oyster, my favorite) and other things of which I'm not fully aware.  D's aunt usually brings a heavenly sweet potato casserole that is out of this world.  I bring something.....and every year it changes because I am sorta not very traditional when it comes to traditions.

I am perfectly happy to make a meal out of the side dishes.  Eff the turkey, I say.

My brother and his family generally spend Thanksgiving with my SIL's large family, so I always worried about mom and dad being alone.  Fortunately, my MIL always invites my parents for the meal.   My parents and MIL get along well, and I'm super thankful for this.  The kids get to see all their grandparents at the same time,  D and I aren't leaving one house having just eaten to then go to another house and stuff ourselves silly again, and I don't have to feel guilty that I'm not spending time with my parents and they are sitting alone in their home twiddling their thumbs.

I enjoy spending the holiday eating and enjoying the company of family, as well as going back to my MIL's on Black Friday to eat leftovers for dinner.

As much as I do enjoy this day of the year, I don't ever intend to cook a Thanksgiving meal of my own.  I have zero desire.  There are no Norman Rockwell dreams of family harmony I envision with hosting my own Thanksgiving.  Given how much I dislike cooking dinner every night, I most certainly don't want to fix anything larger than my usual nightly casserole and Ore-Ida french fries.  I know there is no gold medal in heaven for having prepared a Thanksgiving meal for one's family.  And if there is, I don't wanna go there anyway.

Sure, I fully anticipate changing my mind about this at some point....perhaps when I'm desperate to see my children and grandchildren and will be willing to cook and bake for days on end in order to do so.

But I'm gonna have to be really desperate to love on some grandbabies.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Duct tape years

I had never heard of the Duct Tape years until Giselle mentioned it in her blog.  D and I are well into these years, having just begun our 15th year of marriage on Nov 1.  We have been in this house for 10 of those.

Our refrigerator, which we purchased a few months before we married, is somehow clinging to life, but I am waiting for it to conk out any day.  The microwave has had a nice run of acting normally but then yesterday started making the noise associated with heating food without actually heating the food (which it is wont to do every so often).  It has been years since I could put dishwasher detergent in the detergent cup, close the lid and have it actually pop open during the proper cycle to efficiently clean the dishes.  The oven seems to be doing ok, although some of the porcelain surround was nicked off when a heavy glass crockpot lid landed on it.

I continue to save money in our "Home/Car Repair" account because I just know that all the appliances will bite the dust on the same weekend, prompting us to deplete the account and possibly have to resort to selling plasma in order to purchase new stuff.

I know the windows will need replacing before too long since they weren't very good to begin with.  The idea of replacing the roof makes my heart heavy.

I can't count the number of times I've had our vacuums repaired---new hoses, new cords, new belts.  I lovingly gaze at Dysons at Target, knowing full well mine will just have to keep on keepin' on for awhile longer.

The towels we were given as wedding presents are faded and stained.  The clock--also a wedding gift--ticked its last tock a weekend or two ago.

And what has not grown old on its own has been destroyed by our children.

We make due with much of what we have because we I am cheap and figure if an appliance still sorta works then that means its usefulness hasn't been totally depleted.   We also make due because there are often more pressing needs like diapers and the endless supply of cheese slices and Triscuit crackers our children devour in an afternoon.

Just as I groan now upon getting out of bed in the morning, moving a little more slowly than I did 10 or 15 years ago, all the knicks and knacks and furnishings and whatnots I've surrounded myself with for those years are doing the same.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

History cannot repeat itself when it comes to 2nd and 3rd children

I think I am finally working through an issue that has plagued me for the past few years---my desire to replicate all the wonderful things I did with N when she was a young child with my boys and the near impossibility of doing so.

There is a luxury with having only one child that one doesn't fully appreciate until one has more than a singleton child and especially when those other children are closely spaced in age.

When N was a toddler and preschooler we took My Gym classes and Music Together classes and participated in all sorts of fun MOMS Club activities, and those things were wonderful and created great memories.

Our local My Gym is now closed (sadly), and while I did take a class there once the boys came on the scene, it was with both boys, which eliminated the possibility of having quality "alone" time with either G or M.

I took a Music Together class with G when M was smaller, and while we enjoyed it, it sometimes felt like a chore every week since I had to make sure M had been nursed prior to going and I had to get back soon after the class to put M down for his nap and on occasions when I didn't have a sitter, I had to take M along with us.  It just wasn't the same as it had been when N and I took classes together when she was 2-and-a-half.

When N was small, I was able to take her and my mom out to lunch quite often because N was able to sit and chat and enjoy being still for longer than half a second.  Boys, or my boys, at least, don't sit still.  Ever.  So while we are sometimes able to eat a quick bite at Panera or McAllister's, we don't do it very often because I can only handle so much indigestion from eating a sandwich in 2 gulps.

When N was 4 or so, D and I took her to see The Nutcracker ballet, and it was magical, but I would be a complete fool to spend $60 to take G to see a ballet.  Perhaps when he is older (like 22)?  I do what I can with him, though.  His playgroup will be seeing a short play based on the picture book How I Became a Pirate in the spring.  I figure since he likes pirates and will be 4-and-a-half by the time the show runs, he can probably handle sitting still for an hour.  (Plus, if he is miserable and we need to skedaddle, I will only be out $10 for both of our tickets.)

It is impossible to be the same doting, patient mom with my boys that I was with N.  I am older now and more tired from tending to 3 children.  I have to consider the needs and desires of both boys, where back in the day I only had to consider N.  My boys personalities and energy levels and interests are nothing like N at the same age.  She could play kitchen and restaurant but the boys only enjoy dumping out all the play food items on the floor and trying to stick the plastic hot dogs up their nostrils.

With the boys I have to discover a new definition of quality time, a new array of interesting activities, a new way of creating lasting and special memories.

And that is ok.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Skate party

Tonight I took N to her first elementary school skate party.  She has been asking to do this since she began kindergarten, but due to being almost 9 months pregnant at the time then caring for a newborn and a toddler for the past two years I have been unable to do so.

I finally decided it was time to stop putting this poor child off and take her skating.  (She and I have gone skating one time prior on a weekend, back last winter.)  But at tonight's event, she had friends with whom to skate, which means she had far more fun than bugging around with her dear old mom.  She kinda blew me off a bit.  Fortunately, my feelings are not easily crushed.

The skates are on, and she's ready to roll.  
(It was "Wear Green Night.")

I loved skate parties when I was in elementary school.  I distinctly remember clinging to the rails for dear life my first few attempts.  Eventually I asked for speed skates for Christmas because as I got older I started spending every weekend at the skating rink where I rolled in circles and developed crushes on some pretty skanky guys.

And she's off......

And she's down....

Back up again....with the hoodie off, sweat on her brow, doing the Frankenstein skate shuffle.

With her BFF.

Love helping my girl make memories.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I like being in a book club

I only like to read in bed, before I go to sleep.  I can read at other times and in other places, but I am able to focus best when I have no distractions (I'm talking to YOU Facebook!).  Just as we read to the kids before bed to settle them down and help them relax, reading to myself in bed works the same magic.  

I have a terrible time picking books.  Sometimes all of the dust jacket descriptions sound wonderful and sometimes none of them sound appealing.  The fact that virtually every stinking bookstore in this town has gone out of business contributes to my inability to find a good read.  Oh, also I usually have to shop with two boys who refuse to let me browse.  Ever.  

So I rely on my book club to tell me what to read.  This year I have read the following:

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
Two Rivers by T. Greenwood
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer
Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
Lit by Mary Karr
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
One Day by David Nicholls

(Of these books, I would give My Name is Asher Lev the highest rating.  It was exceptional.  I think the weakest one is One Day.  It held my interest, but I found one of the main characters highly annoying and it tended toward to be a love story, which I generally dislike with the exception of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, A Room With a View and Pride & Prejudice.  The Brontes, Austen and Forster knew how to do it right.)

On my own, in the couple months that I decided not to read the selected book for book club, I managed to read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House and I am determined to finish Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen before the end of the year.

As soon as I can buy a copy, I will also re-read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for December's book club.  I read it the first time in high school and loved the "romance" of the love story about Jane and Mr. Rochester.  When I re-read it in my early 20s, I was more enthralled with Jane's feminism and strength as a woman.  I submit that this 3rd reading will find me more interested in the crazy wife in the attic, Bertha.

I could have sworn I had my own copy of Jane Eyre on my bookshelf, but I don't, which I think makes me ineligible to continue hanging my English degree on my wall.

In recent years my book collection has shrunk considerably.  At some point I decided that I was only going to keep my children's novels (that I bought when I was a middle school teacher), classics and/or books I truly ADORE, which means I pass along quite a few that I read to friends and family.  I think the fact that I am purchasing books for 3 other people (ages 7 and under) also contributes to me not having as many of my own books to enjoy.

Despite my smaller collection, being able to see books one loves on a shelf gives me a tremendous sense of joy and pride and is one of many reasons why you'll never see me with an electronic reader.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Falling leaves

Watching the kids play in autumn leaves is another of the reasons why I love this season.  Our yard has  immature trees, so we don't get a bunch of leaves from them.  But my MIL's trees are 30+ years and so the leaf piles could grow immense if we attempted to rake them all.

When the kids tire of the leaf piles, they can always find other stuff to do.
Like hill rolling.....

And helping momma and Mamaw pick greens out of the garden....

Monday, November 7, 2011

The refinance dance

D and I bought our home in June 2001.  Our interest rate was 7.16% on a 30-year mortgage.

In 2002, we refinanced at 6.50% on a 30-year and shaved $119 off our monthly payment.

In 2003, we refinanced at 5.50% on a 30-year and dropped $137 off our monthly payment.

In 2009, we refinanced at 4.971% on a 20-year mortgage.  Our monthly payment went up by $17.

Today we refinanced again at 3.75% on a 15-year mortgage.  Our monthly payment will be going up a whopping $3 a month.

Over the years we have made extra payments on the principal.  I believe we have about 45% equity in our home now.

Our first payment will be Jan 1, 2012, but we will make an extra payment at that time with the goal of putting any extra dollars towards the mortgage and paying this baby off in 11 years or less.

Fingers crossed.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Making use of what I have--Cool project #1 from old baby crib parts

D and I have been married 14 years and in this house 10 of those.  We are fully into the Duct Tape years (which I will blog more about at another time).  

There are nicks in the paint, as well as holes in the walls from the baby gates.  Except for when M was a newborn and we hired someone to paint N and G's jointly shared bedroom, I have been the one to paint the rooms in the house.  It is cheap to paint if one does it herself and a super easy way to change the look of an entire room.  But right now, with the boys being the ages they are, I simply don't have the time to do it myself, nor do I have the energy to paint AND clean up the messes that the boys would make should I attempt to do so with them around.  Painting will have to wait a while.

But I am itching to make some small changes.  

Having recently taken down the drop-side crib M was sleeping in, I also have crib parts that are taking up space in the closet.  (We also have bits and pieces from N's crib which converted into her current full-size bed.)

The desire to make changes coupled with an increasing wish to reuse what we have and not purchase more stuff took me to the Internet for inspiration.

This is what I started with......the metal spring part of the crib on which the mattress rests.

I bought some of this...very flexible vinyl from Hancock's Fabrics.  Maybe $5 worth from the scrap bin.

With the help of a glue gun, fabric scissors to cut the vinyl into strips and some tiny clothespins (all of which I already had around the house), I made this:

Now I have a place to put some of my all-time favorite pics of the kids since I only keep their most current pictures in frames on the walls.  I figure if I get really inspired I can change it for the holidays--put only Halloween pics up in October, only Christmas pics up in December, and only Easter pics up in the spring.  I can relive all the fun of past years seeing the kids as they've grown and changed.  

What a perfect way to use something from their babyhoods throughout their lives.