Monday, April 30, 2012

Trophy Wife Monday

I'm on the phone with our financial guy, upgrading my life insurance. We're getting ready for a picnic and an excursion to the best lilac collection in our country. We've got a fancy event scheduled for this evening. Yes, another fancy event requiring a babysitter. Yes, on a weeknight. We're living large today. I feel like a Trophy Wife again. 

This fancy event is an alumni event for BestestHusband's undergrad alma mater (Yes, the one I got wait-listed at because I was from the Houston area and they valued Minnesotans more than they valued Texans. Not that I'm still bitter about that or anything... And I'll just ignore the part about BestestHusband maybe being smarter than me and maybe deserving to get in more...) It's being held at the home of one of the sons of a local sports team owner. I've heard the home is very nice. There's appetizers and drinks and valet parking. And some kind of fancy other stuff. I'm not really sure, but I don't really care. I get to dress up and go to someone's fancy home and talk to other grownups without having my sentences interrupted every 30 seconds. That's all I need to know. I'm in. 

We're all still fighting a sore throat. So I'm trying to keep the overall demands of the day lower than usual. We watched the new Muppets movie twice this morning. Ok, so we only watched the end of it - the Muppets Show re-creation part. But it was a lot of screen time for my media-deprived girls. A special treat. I'll spread the Trophy Wife wealth today.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stewardship Sunday

Thank goodness for frozen meals. Those leftovers saved our evening. I set a goal of regular 5pm Sunday Dinners. Well, the girls and I were still napping at 5pm. Then we took a walk to see the lilacs in the Arboretum. So we got home a bit before 8pm. And didn't have too many leftovers in the fridge. It's been a busy week. A not-many-leftovers kind of week.

Monday: We went to the children's museum, then later to the gym.
Tuesday: I had a migraine and was pretty much incapacitated. Did manage to have a meeting at daycare in late afternoon. 
Wednesday: Baked biscotti, ran a ton of errands, many on foot, and I'm sure we did some other fun stuff, but I don't remember... probably including the gym...
Thursday: Worked, then saw Alvin Ailey at night.
Friday: cooked for a friend, had another friend over for lunch, visited first friend for a playdate, then had a date evening with the girls at daycare babysitting night. (whew)
Saturday: worked, then had a home movie night.
Sunday: HeyMama stayed home with BestestHusband to nurse a sore throat. MeToo and I went to Sunday School. Then Trader Joes on the way home. Then lunch and a long nap. 4 hours long. We're all fighting off a sore throat.

Ok, so for some people, this is normal. This is not normal for us. Well, reading old posts, maybe it is becoming normal for us. But it still doesn't feel normal. We're homebodies. We like to be at home. It's a cozy place. It was a busy enough week that I didn't have the time to blog. I don't like feeling this busy. I feel out of control. I don't like that. I work only part-time to make our lives simpler and saner. Not let them get crazy busy and out of control!

Ok, so let's just report on the week so I can get to bed. I'm still tired after my 4 hour nap, and tomorrow is another long day...

Food waste:  We chucked a few fuzzy strawberries because we didn't eat them soon enough. Shameful in my book. I love strawberries. Especially the more expensive fresh ones.

Time:  We managed to shoehorn a lot of stuff into one week. We had a lot of fun. I'm realizing that I have to focus on it to make sure we have fun. Otherwise I let the ToDos get in the way. Life at home with small children is supposed to allow me to have fun. I was doing it all wrong for too long. This past week, we definitely had more fun. 

Patience:  More fun = more patience. I'm never perfect. But more fun helped. And MeToo's tantrums at church and Trader Joe's today were more tolerable. 

Money:  I've made a goal of eating through our freezer stockpiles. This doesn't prevent me from needing to buy groceries, but hopefully it will prevent the wasting of food already in the freezer. And eating more frozen leftovers = needing to spend less money on new food. 

Ok, so another busy week looms ahead. Hope it's a good one for you!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Date Night

We have a date tonight. 
We have a sitter. 
We have tickets to a show. 
I got off work early. 
I bought the girls a rotisserie chicken. 
The broccoli is in the steamer. 
My hair is flat ironed. 
My dress is laid out. 
As are my shiny tights and fun shoes. 
I am ready.

Here are the tickets!
Nevermind that someone at the Wang can't spell "Pharmaceuticals". 

The tickets are the completion of the Valentine's gift that BestestHusband gave me. He always planned to give me something other than X-rated gummy candies. I mean, the gummies would have been enough. But the date night is pretty great. I'm not complaining. 

Have I mentioned that I'm excited?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

World Malaria Day

Have you ever had malaria? No, thankfully, neither have I.
It's not something we have to worry about here. For this we should give thanks daily.
Because in other parts of the world, you have a good chance of losing your children to malaria. Your pregnant sister. Your own life. 
Malaria kills 1440 people every day. Someone every 60 seconds.
The Lutheran Malaria Initiative is working with partners around the world to reduce the deaths caused by malaria. With a bed net and some education, lives are being saved. 
Today is World Malaria Day. 
What should you do?
At 2:40pm, stop for a moment and consider what our lives would be like if malaria was as dangerous here as it is in Africa. Look around your family and wonder who would be taken by the disease. Imagine the conversation you'd have with your friend after she lost her second child to malaria. 
Pray for the people who live with such a reality.
Look in your wallet. Do you have $10? This is enough to save one family. Consider donating to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. 100% of your donation will go to mosquito nets and education. Yes, 100%. And a bed net can protect an entire family. Imagine that. $10 = saving a family. 
And when you're done, pass this info along to family and friends. You have the ability to make a concrete and lasting change to families around the world. So does your sister. Your mom. Your college roommate. Your neighbor. Your dog-walker. That's a lot of change...

Stewardship Sunday on a Tuesday. It's a first.

This week was a mix of enjoying and prepping. We tried to enjoy the glorious weather as much as possible. We took care of little details that have been niggling - shoes that needed repairing, and clothes that needed altering to be wearable again. I discovered that I'm no fun. But that's a post for another day.

I still find myself ruminating a fair amount on the balance of have-to's vs. want-to's. With all of the toddler drama that a two year old can bring, I still second guess a lot of my decisions. Am I providing enough structure and consistency? Too much? Being consistent? Too rigid? Even if I'm doing things right, can there still be this much conflict?

I've been experimenting with changing our schedule around to suit our natural rhythms in our days. I've been trying to be more flexible with our plans and try to take advantage of any great weather, surprise visits, or opportunities that might come along. And I'm looking for opportunities to just make them run. Cesar Milan swears by this approach when dealing with canine behavior. It seems to work pretty well with toddlers, too. The days have been pretty good. Just not very productive. Throw in working a Saturday, and napping away a rainy Sunday, and my floors are disgusting.


So I'm quite behind in my blogging in general. I'm just tired, and I'm spending less time at home in front of a computer. So this blog post is 2 days late, and I'll just try to report on last week before it becomes halfway through this week.

Food Waste:  the pork fat got thrown out. Shockingly enough, I didn't get around to making sausage this past week. Go figure. We also tossed some sketchy greens. But other than that, we've been good this week.

Patience:  I got a lot of exercise this week, and tried to take advantage of the gym's evening babysitting hours to combat those dangerous "arsenic hours" before BestestHusband gets home and we eat dinner. Both of these help the patience a lot. 

Money:  I gulped hard when I looked at how much it would cost to alter 4 garments. But 3 of them I wasn't wearing at all, and 1 just made me look preggo every time I wear it (I'm NOT pregnant, by the way). But the cost of repairing 3 pairs of shoes was so low that I'm letting myself combine the two amounts. The grand total is not bad to get 3 new pairs of shoes I couldn't wear and 3 new skirts I wasn't wearing. And one shirt that will look much better when I wear it now. I do own a sewing machine. And I do know how to use it. But I've been wanting to alter those skirts since HeyMama was born, and it just hasn't happened. 

Time:  I'm really taking a hard look at how I spend my time, especially how to best use it for fun and happy days. I can't help but think that there's got to be a better way...

Hope your week is off to a good start!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Procrastination Again

I should be writing a blog entry. But instead I'm watching back episodes of GCB and giving a doll a new hairstyle. Actually, I'm trying to make the doll look like she has hair again instead of a nasty frizz puff on her head. I promise to try to write more tomorrow....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sending Down Roots

This morning was one of those mornings that illustrated just how rooted we're becoming in Roslindale. Yes, we've lived here 5+ years. But I'm a Texan. BestestHusband is a Minnesotan. We've lived in Boston for over a decade, but in our hearts, we're not locals. 

Yet every passing week allows our roots to grow a little deeper into the rocky soil of our neighborhood of Boston. I love the coyotes that live behind our house. I love the stunning expanse of the Arboretum across the street. I love the short walk to visit friends for play dates. I love the hilly walks to Rosi Square and the playground. 

This morning, our goal was to get to Rosi Square to hear the Mayor speak. Mumbles was supposed to talk about capital improvements around Boston, including our local library. That sparked my interest. Our local library is grimy. It's definitely a good candidate for improvement. Well, thanks to a tantrum, a timeout, and meeting a new dog-walking neighbor along the way, we missed the talk. But we didn't miss the Mayor. He was leaving, on crutches and a walking boot, when we came face-to-face with him. We had the double-wide stroller, and we were kinda blocking the path... He was delightful. If he could have gotten face-to-face with the girls, he would have. He complimented HeyMama's glittery shoes. He asked what they were doing. He asked which playground they liked. I suspected he needed to get off of his foot, so I didn't launch into a quick tirade about the terror I felt about the BPS lottery. I got the stroller out of his way. But I wanted to the girls to meet the Mayor. Because in Boston, that's not an unusual thing. 

After saying "Hi" to the Mayor, we went to the market. We bought coconut milk. We used their bathroom. Then we went to the local seamstresses' shop. I dropped stuff off for alteration. The girls played with toys in the waiting room. The seamstress and I chatted a bit before I left. The florist wasn't open yet, so we went to the bakery for a snack. There was another mom with 2 small children there. The kids ran around together. We moms chatted. The lady behind the counter chatted with us. The other mom told me about a fun activity planned in the Square later in the day. We all left and I tried the florist again. (Still no luck.) We headed to the playground. We stayed there for a long while. I found a mom I had met there previously. Her son and my girls ran around together. A few other kids joined them. We chatted for a while. She's a nurse, and also works part time. We talked work. We talked childcare and school. We talked church. We talked extracurricular activities. We discussed seeing each other at the gym later this evening. Then MeToo fell and cried for a long time. Then started sucking her thumb. She rarely sucks her thumb. I knew we wouldn't make it to the fun activity in the Square and we'd have to go home for a nap instead. So we started heading home. We poked our heads into an apartment complex's courtyard with a lovely garden. The gardener was there. She invited us to walk through and see the flowers. The girls ran around looking at the different colored tulips. The gardener and I chatted about plants for a few minutes. Then we walked home.

We did our morning's errands on foot, with a stroller. Now that gas is $4/gallon, this is a nice thing. But we talked to more than half a dozen other people during our errands. Nice people. This too is a nice thing. We could have stopped by a friend's house on the way home, but they just happen to be out of town. In a few months, one of our daycare teachers is moving in down the street. We're surrounded by friends and friendly people. We can't go to the Square without talking to at least 3 people. Usually they're strangers, but increasingly we run into co-workers and friends. I feel an increasing rootedness here in Roslindale. It's amazing how it can creep up on you. 

It has a striking similarity to our front yard. (This is a stretch of an analogy, so just bear with me...) A year ago, dear friends Anne and Audrey helped me rip up the sod in the front yard. It was one of the rare summers that we were all simultaneously NOT pregnant, and we were actually excited to do some dirty manual labor. We don't have a large front yard, so it was a do-able task, but it was a bit back-breaking. The yard looked pretty awful. We planted over a hundred small plugs of a creeping flowering plant that would remove the need to mow our tiny elevated/walled front yard. We knew it would take a few years to really fill in. But bit by bit, it has. The creeping tendrils have spread through the empty spaces, and the plants look good. Yes, there is still plenty of room to grow, but the plants have firmly taken hold. Noone would confuse our yard with the Sloanes' yard down the street that has been perfectly cultivated and groomed for decades. Our plants are still newcomers. But they're firmly rooted. Taking them out would be difficult and painful. I'm starting to think that this is how we are, too. We still have room to become more settled and integrated into our neighborhood, but uprooting ourselves would be quite painful. Like some of our tulip bulbs brought back from an extended layover in Amsterdam, we're transplants that have some history in this neighborhood. I think we're thriving here. 

Some lovely flowers that are thriving on our porch.

Here are some tulips be brought back from Amsterdam last year, and a baby lilac in the background that the Arboretum gave us when we became members.

Our front yard has really come along in one year...

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marvelous Monday

Marathon Monday dawned as hot as was promised. And the girls woke up bright and early. So we got an early start at the gym. Actually, we opened the babysitting room. It's a first. So I got in a long workout. Then we ran an errand (I returned my last unwanted bathing suit) and went to the playground.  We ran into Jenna and the boys (nice sundress, Jenna!). It was warm. The girls didn't really object when it was time to leave. We ate lunch. We all napped. We woke up. I had iced coffee. We went to the Lebanese market. We walked around the square and got ice cream. We sat outside eating it and watched the neighborhood go by. Busses. Trains. Dogs. Neighbors. We went home, cooked dinner, and ate it on the patio. We watched the sun set. We drank yummy wine. The girls played in the yard. BestestHusband rearranged some more dirt. The dogs frolicked. We watched the first stars and bats come out. The air was mild. The sky was lovely. Everything flowed together so perfectly. Life was as it should be. It was a delicious conclusion to a lovely day.

I frequently hear moms lament the ever-growing tendencies of their children. "They're growing up so fast! Where did my baby go?" I don't lament this. Growing up led them to joyfully leaping off the climbing structure tonight. Kicking their legs on a bench, eating their ice cream this afternoon. Growing up led them to running around the yard, giggling, singing to the bat that swooped overhead. I don't lament this at all.

I think it's all marvelous.

It's finally iced coffee weather!!!

Dinner alfresco. Waiting for the fish to come off the grill...
BestestHusband rearranging dirt.
A lovely evening sky

Flight of Imagination

"I'm packing a bag for the trip. This one has vitamins. She has gummy worm ones and crunchy ones. Some of them make her sleepy, some of them make her happy, and some of them make her awake. She can eat crunchy foods, like me. But she can only eat soft foods because she's a baby. I'm packing today and we're leaving tomorrow. I'll pack some finger foods for the plane. She can eat crunchy finger foods. But she'll need baby foods. NOOOO! Mama, MeToo took my baby!!! GIVE IT BAAACCKKK!!! So this bin is for her and this bin is for her. There's a little air conditioner in there so they can breathe in there. They're stacked together on the plane. But they have their own beds when they get to Texas. They like Texas. This bag has toys and this bag has snacks and this bag has vitamins. Her favorite color is yellow so she gets yellow gummy vitamins and her favorite color is pink and she gets pink crunchy vitamins. They're going to Texas to see their Nana and PawPaw and play. I'm packing their bathing suits and flip flops because it will be summer there. Maybe we'll see a thunder storm. She's afraid of thunder, but she's not. She likes it. I like it too. She cries when there's thunder, but I'll hold her and tell her not to be afraid. I'm packing their jammies and their toothbrush and their shampoo. And a towel and a washcloth. I need to go get bath toys to pack too. NOOOO! I was playing with that! THAT'S MYYY BAAAGGGG!!! Her name is Tessa and her name is Ritessa. She's the big sister and she's the little sister."

This kind of narrative can go on for hours. It's such a joy to see the birth and development of an imagination. But if you can listen to this without your ears or brain going numb, you're a better person than I am. She really can go on and on and on... 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stewardship Sunday, Marathon Edition

Tomorrow is Patriots Day. In Boston, that means its Marathon Monday. The weather is supposed to be so warm that they're offering runners the chance to defer until next year. They're training the runners and bystanders to do CPR on each other. One official described it as a potential "mass casualty event". They're encouraging the charity runners (who didn't need to complete stringent qualifying times in other races) to not do it. What a tough choice to make. Glad I'm not the one making the decision.

I actually did run a marathon once, years ago. Melissa talked me in to it (Happy Birthday Melissa!) I was moping about relationship woes, and she convinced me it would be good for me. And she was right. I wasn't fast. I like to think of myself as a completer, not a competer. But I did it. And used it to convince myself that I could do other crazy things. Like natural childbirth. 

Anyway, I ran around Cape Cod in chilly Fall weather. I wore gloves. There were coastal snow flurries. Not an early Summer heat wave, and I was sweating anyway. Tough athletes will be falling down tomorrow. And I feel bad for them already.

What a whirlwind of activity these last few weeks have been. This week was no exception. I'm looking forward to getting back to a more normal schedule.

This past week was spent trying to recover from the prior weeks and prep for the yard work event. I went to the gym more than usual, which I think was a good thing. My mood definitely benefits. And that benefits the girls, of course. And I worked at the rehab hospital down the street instead of taking an early train ride into Boston. This benefits BestestHusband. And the girls, of course. 

This weekend was full of work and fun. We had great friends over to help us rearrange the dirt in our backyard. Yes, BestestHusband is motivated to make at least part of our yard flat. And put in a veggie garden. So he had 7 cubic yards of compost and a tiller delivered. To go with the 20 cubic yards of wood chips that the tree company delivered a few weeks back. And he and our friends dug up the yard, pulled out the boulders, mixed the pitiful sandy rocky soil with compost, and smoothed it all back down again. The seeding for grass is supposed to happen next weekend. (This week's weather is not great for grass seed, and we just plain ran out of time.) Our combined 5 girls between the ages of 2 and 5 all ran around together and had a blast. We ate some food, drank some beer, then went home and collapsed. Except for BestestHusband. He went back out to spend some quality time with the tiller. We all cleaned up in time to welcome the babysitter and go out to Christine's birthday party. (Happy Birthday Christine!) It was at a shishi bar in Boston. Lots of people there didn't have kids. There were yummy cocktails. Lots of them. And we had a designated driver. (Thanks Anne!) It was a fun night. Getting up for church this morning was rough. 

Food waste:
I really cleaned out the fridge tonight. And I found a lot of nasty stuff. I few a few random things I need to use this week. Including pork fat. Long story. But yes, I bought pork fat last week. And veal. We ate the veal already. But not the pork fat.
Here's what I threw out tonight:
2 blueberry yogurt smoothies. They were fermenting. 
Half a head of lettuce. I just forgot about it. Sigh.
Leftover salad. The dressing on it kinda did it in. 
Mint. It's been in there a long time. The paper towel helped, but it still went bad.
About half a cup of half and half. I got it for a recipe. I served some to a friend in coffee. But I don't really use half and half. Must try harder next time to find a recipe for it. 
All and all, it's pretty shameful.
I'll spare you the closeups. 
The fridge is starting out the week clean and full of leftovers (all of the second shelf from the top).

Patience:  See mention of extra gym time. It helped a lot. Really a lot. I was actually fun on occasion. 

M&Ms:  One week of the month, even Plain M&Ms are tempting. This was that week. Tonight was all about chocolate chips, because I'm running low on M&Ms, and MeToo's started pooping on the potty more, which requires more M&Ms. 

Money:  I'm finally returning the bathing suits that didn't make the cut. I'll post a picture of the final winner at some point. I've never spent much time and effort on a bathing suit before. But I don't think I've ever spent as much time in one as I think I will this summer. The refunds will be coming back in. So this makes it feel a little better to have spent so much money ordering the bathing suits. 

So I'm looking forward to the fun that this week will bring. Anyone up for frozen margaritas on the patio?

Friday, April 13, 2012

You're a Mom

The sea of children's music is a deep, dark, and scary place. It's inhabited by Wiggles. And a purple dinosaur. And adult music sung by children and labeled "children's music." (ahem, CPH!) I made a rule for myself that I'd never let the girls listen to music that I couldn't tolerate listening to. It was basically a rule of self-preservation. 

So I was happy when my parents gifted the girls some CDs by a band called Go Fish. The music wasn't annoying. It inspired dance parties. The Jammies song narrates the beginning of our bedtime routine. And I'm never afraid to hear the girls belting out any of their lyrics in the grocery store. Priceless. 

One of my favorite songs is the Mom Song, which is on a few of their CDs:

If you have a stroller
But you’re still a rock and roller
You’re a mom
If you’re tired of doing dishes
And you know who Elmo’s fish is
You’re a mom
If you have a lot of fun
But your work is never done
You’re a mom

You’re the boss, the driver
The ultimate survivor
A doctor, a cooker
Your man thinks you’re a looker
If you work all day
But you never get paid
You’re a mom

If you need a sick day
But instead you’re gonna play
You’re a mom
If your first occupation
Sounds like a sweet vacation
You’re a mom

If your living room floor
Looks like a toy store
You’re a mom

You’re the boss, the driver
The ultimate survivor
A doctor, a cooker
Your man thinks you’re a looker
If you work all day
But you never get paid
You’re a mom

If you mean the whole world
To a little boy or girl
You’re a mom
The Bible that you hold
Can shape these little souls
You’re a mom
If you have the most important job in the world
Then you’re a mom 

I highlighted my favorite line from the song. But the others are all true, too. 

Do you know who Elmo's fish is?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"I Don't Know How You Girls Do It"

One of the joys of my job is that I have the privilege of working with people with 8+ decades of life experience under their belts. I make a point to tap into that experience whenever I get the chance. Functionally I'm assessing their speech, their thought organization, their pragmatics. But really, I'm looking for advice. Nuggets of wisdom. Recipes.

Most of my female patients are mothers. I ask about their kids. The number is usually in the 4-10 range. So I ask for advice. "How did you do it? I have 2, and they keep me plenty busy. What's the secret?" They usually just chuckle and shrug. "I don't know, I just did it!"

But some of them turn the tables. I was actually surprised the first time I heard it: "I don't know how you girls do it these days - kids, jobs, the busy schedules you all keep." They say things like, "Oh it was easier back then. Everyone had kids. We sent them all outside and they entertained themselves." They talk about having their moms and sisters nearby to help. They didn't take the kids to the grocery store to have meltdowns in the frozen food aisle. They didn't drag them to play groups and story times. Their three year olds didn't play on soccer teams. They didn't work when their kids were young, so pumping breast milk 3 times during a work day wasn't a concern. And they certainly didn't worry about whether they were making the best choice in the career/family balance.

I have no doubt that momnesia has kicked in during the 50+ years since they had small children at home. I'm sure they had plenty of struggles of their own. We won't even get into the gender issues and educational and career opportunities available to these women when they were our age. But their words are kind. And maybe even true. And it's the kind of encouragement I need from time to time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your Children Are Certifiable

Your children are certifiable. My children are certifiable. Children are just crazy. Watch them for a while and see for yourself.

Here's a small example of what my insane 2 yr old has done lately:
Sit on the potty for 10 minutes singing, not go potty, then immediately take a shower and poop on the floor
Ask for something, then scream when I gave it to her.
Say no when I offer her something, then scream because I didn't give it to her.
Ask for a pink cup. Then when I give her one, scream that she wants a purple one.

Here's a small example of what my insane 3 yr old has done lately:
Talk nonstop about imaginary events for 30 minutes straight. 
Concoct an imaginary birthday party that will happen 6 months in the future, then get upset when I tell her the party isn't really happening this week, and please don't invite over any more of her preschool friends quite yet. 

Now, I'm no psychologist. I'm no licensed mental health provider. But if a grownup did these things on a regular basis, they would earn them self a DSM Axis II diagnosis and a trip to McLean Hospital. The terms "personality disorder", "logorrhea", and "delusional" come to mind. If you had to interact with them and care for them every day, you'd be working in the locked unit of a mental health facility.

But they're our children. Their behaviors are "developmentally appropriate". We're supposed to help them learn to be not crazy. And I've heard it takes years.

This is just one of the things that makes parenting hard. The world says your child is "normal", but you can't help but feel like they're insane.

And you read funny articles or blog posts that try to make light of the phenomenon of parenting and are just SO TRUE!. And then you get commenters who snippily say things like, "Well, I know that they're only young once, so I CHERISH EVERYTHING they do." This just isn't helpful to the psyche of parents. Lady, I'd love for you to come over and cherish the poop stains on my rug any time.

Of COURSE our children are blessings from God. Of course they're only doing what's in their true nature. But paranoid schizophrenics are only doing what's in their true natures, as well, and God loves them too. Staff clinicians on psych wards are allowed to say that their jobs are sometimes hard. Are we not?

I wonder if this is more difficult to manage in a demographic group where we're all encouraged to go to college. So we can get jobs where we don't get stuck working for demanding narcissists who don't pay us much. And we pay lots of money and work hard to get great jobs. And we do! We know stuff. People seek out our opinions and knowledge. We don't have people following us around all the time or standing over us. We're independent! We accomplish things!

And then we have kids and start working for tiny demanding narcissists who don't pay us much. Or anything, actually...

I adore my girls. They are special treats, and I love watching their personalities blossom. 

But they're certifiable.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Joys of Quality Time

My in-laws are still in town, so I took advantage of their presence to spend some quality time with HeyMama. I had a meeting at Ruth House and didn't really want to inflict my defiant and loudly opinionated two year old on anyone unnecessarily, so MeToo stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa. Not that she was thrilled with the idea. Actually, ear-splitting wails ensued. But my attempt to let her "help" me prepare Easter stuff at church was a spectacular failure. I actually turned around and took her home before returning to the church on Saturday. And I wanted to spare myself the gas and time today.

So HeyMama went with me. She entertained herself appropriately during the overly-long meeting. Then we went to Ikea for lunch. I somehow managed to not buy more Samla. But I did buy a few picture frames. We did a few more errands, then she fell asleep on the ride home. So here I am blogging in my driveway while HeyMama sleeps in the back seat, thinking about how I view my children as individuals, and as a unit.

As a unit, they are an extremely chatty and demanding entity. While they are occasionally delightful to observe playing together, they are also occasionally enragingly quarrelsome. I'm glad I had them 14 months apart, but they are exhausting. 

Individually, without the conflict and whining, they are a lot more fun. When they're not busy arguing, their personality traits come shining through.  HeyMama is such a planner. She doesn't forget a thing. She remembers that the dogs' birthday is in April. And it's April now. So she was planning a birthday party for them: what kind of cupcakes we'd have, what we'd eat, who we'd invite, etc. We need balloons. Definitely balloons. She'll wear her pink tutu and a party hat. She'll make them cards. It's all planned out. HeyMama's got it covered.

Her sister is quite different. I swear that MeToo has her own personal soundtrack in her head. She is always singing. You don't need a radio in the car when MeToo's in the back seat. And now that her speech intelligibility has significantly improved, you can actually recognize the songs and sing along. She's not quite on the same generative level as HeyMama, who can make up songs on the fly. But she's getting there. And it's a hoot!

I'm coming to the realization that I enjoy my girls more and can engage with them more as individuals when I'm actually just working with them as individuals. Hmmm, it's taken me 28 months to realize this? But I feel lately as if I'm doing more disciplining and redirecting than having fun with them. Ok, so MeToo is just doing her job of presenting a larger-than-life caricature of the "Terrible Twos". But I'd like to spend more time with her as "my life-of-the-party daughter" than "my spirited and punky two year old". I know that this is a phase, but I'd like to find ways to enjoy it a bit more. 

So anyone want to take a 3 or 2 year old for a few hours once a week? I promise you'll have a good time. And I will too. 

We girls went out for lunch and drinks. 

Stewardship Sunday: Easter Edition

Happy Easter!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Holy Week is a reminder that I will have to admit failure every week. No matter what I do. No matter how hard I try. I will never live up to Jesus' example of patience. I will never live up to Jesus' example of service. I will never be righteous, no matter how hard I try. I can focus on doing better every week of my life, but the struggle will never end while I walk this Earth.

But then Easter happened. A Savior was willing to take the punishment for our imperfection. Our weakness. Our inability to achieve our own righteousness. Easter is about Grace. Easter is about Joy (the emotion, not my friend who just had a baby boy 2 days ago - congrats Joy!) Easter technically makes this blog unnecessary.

I don't NEED to be better. I mean, I would like to be. But I don't need to be. I WANT to be. Grace and Joy are powerful motivators.

So I'm ditching the stewardship check-in for this week. I'll just report on the Joy from this week.

Joy the friend had a baby boy. He's doing well. She's doing well. What joy!

The other joys of this week:

  • I got a massage that helped my back pain.
  • I rearranged the girls' room and put their beds together. It's pretty cute.
  • Flat Stanley came to visit, went to Amsterdam with BestestHusband, had great adventures, then headed to the Middle East to fly planes with other extended family members.
  • BestestHusband came back from Amsterdam safely and a little early. My mother-in-law met him there and came home with him to join us for Easter.
  • I had my father-in-law around for the entire week to help out.
  • We took two family naps that helped even non-napping HeyMama take much-needed naps.
  • I spent an hour sleeping with MeToo while she sucked her paci in my face and twisted her fingers in my hair. Priceless.
  • Our family enjoyed a joy-filled Easter service with incredible music.
  • Our family and church family enjoyed a delicious brunch feast together.
  • Our family and friends enjoyed an unparalleled Easter lunch/dinner/all-day feast with lots of wine and revelry. And a crazy-potent cocktail.
  • Our family and friends got to spend several happy hours together chatting and watching the kids play together.
  • During all of the revelry, only one kid peed on the rug and only one kid had a poop explosion that required borrowing clean clothes.
  • Only one of those kids is related to me.
  • And tonight has back-to-back episodes of GCB!

The week was full of joys, small and large. There was a great deal of preparation that led up to this weekend. But in the quiet moments, we think of a little boy that we hoped could be born this week. But was instead buried many weeks ago. And we look forward to a promised joyful reunion. And remember that this is what Easter is really all about.

A cross that church-goers covered in flowers as they walked into Easter services. 

The girls can now sleep together under their coordinated quilts. (Thanks Miss Bev!)

Jet-setting Flat Stanley in his brief Boston layover. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fearless Faith

Holy Week is a wonderful week. It's wonderful and horrible at the same time. The preparation and celebration of Easter is such a joy. The miserable reflection on our own corrupted natures that led to Good Friday is a crushing blow. Think you're doing ok on the road of life? Think you're a pretty good person? One dimly-lit evening tenebrae service will squash all notions of self-righteousness. The crash at the end of the service is the weight of your sin sealing Jesus' tomb.

I think it's a healthy thing to dwell upon the sorrow a bit. Can you really experience the full joy of Easter and rejoice in the generous grace of God if you don't understand how filthy and undeserving you are?

Anyway, I find it amazing that I can read the same gospels every year, the same story of Christ's death and resurrection, but have something in the scripture touch me in a new way each year.

This year, I'm struck by the faith of the Marys. (Mark 16:1-8) Mary Magdalene, and Mary mother of James wanted to finish anointing Jesus' body for burial. The timing of His death necessitated a hasty and incomplete burial process. Jesus died on Friday, right before the start of the Jewish sabbath. Work was forbidden. And preparing a body for burial was work. So as soon as was possible to go to the tomb, Sunday morning, they did. They knew the tomb was sealed. They knew they would not be able to move the giant stone in front of the tomb by themselves. But they wanted to anoint Jesus' body with spices and oils. So they went.

That is amazing faith. They knew that their task would be hard. In fact, they weren't quite sure how they would do it. They just knew they needed to do it. So they went.

I like to think that their fearless faith was rewarded by being the first people to hear the news that Jesus had risen. Well, the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb knew, but the earthquake and sight of Jesus and the angels left them catatonic and mute on the ground. So it was the women who had the privilege to spread the good news first.

Ah, to have such a fearless faith!
I wilt in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Those women surely knew that they could be mocked or punished for attempting to open the tomb. That would be enough for me to turn back.

But perhaps that's why they're in the Bible. They're a reminder that, when His work is being done, God will make it happen. And frequently in ways we can't predict. I suspect the women were calculating how many strong men, how much rope, and what special tools would be required to get the stone rolled away. I doubt the idea of "stone-rolling earthquake" even crossed their minds.

So as we prepare for the joyful season of Easter, I pray that I might not stop marveling, and may also have the fearless faith of the Marys.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Poop in the Shower

I cleaned poop from the shower tonight. A lot of it. I'd been wondering when MeToo was going to poo, it seemed like it had been a while...

So after cleaning the mess, bathing the girls, and getting them to bed, I called my day over. I'm on the couch, drinking a beer. Because I cleaned poop in the shower. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Trying Not To Drool

I'm having a bit of a trophy wife day. 

I got my hair cut. The complementary scalp and hand massages were divine. The hair cut was great. I feel like a million bucks.

Then I went straight to my massage appointment. It was divine. I was so relaxed I had to struggle to not drool. She didn't quite fix my back. But she loosened up my shoulder enough that I can stretch it out without crying. Sounds like I need another session soon. When I left, I felt like a million bucks.

Later, we went to the gym. I've never gone in the evening, but they had babysitting tonight and I felt the need for some cardio. So I spent an hour with some good cable and got my heart rate going. Then stretched. I felt like a million bucks.

Jealous? Don't be. There were plenty of tantrums, time outs, squabbles, painting of inappropriate furniture, and general shenanigans to undo it all. But it was nice while it lasted. And besides, living in a city like Boston, we're not likely to save up a million bucks, I'll just have to occasionally FEEL like it.

Thanks again to Grandpa for holding down the fort so I could get it all done. And for vacuuming my car. Ok, now I'm sure you're jealous now...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Today was a great day. I worked at the rehab down the street, so I had time to run a few errands before picking up the girls. I dropped off BestestHusband's suit to be dry cleaned before Easter. I went to the liquor store and bought yummy wines for the Easter Feast (also called "The foretaste of the Feast to come"), and picked up a case of Sam's Spring seasonal brews. Sam is great. I love Sam. Then I went to the grocery store and bought milk. ON SALE! And got tortillas for the turkey tacos that wonderful neighbor Jackie made for us for dinner. And got Easter treats for a certain BIL/Uncle that's been deployed to a place where chocolate bunnies dare not go. (Thank God for jelly beans! I don't have to worry about them melting!) I was super-productive! I was on top of the world!

Then I went to pick up the girls. It took us 30 minutes to leave daycare, but the girls were outside on the playground, and I was chatting with other moms. But as soon as we got home, the insanity began.

Within 5 minutes of me being in the house, we had 1 girl injured, 1 girl in timeout, ink stamps all over the girls' play/craft table, 1 poopy butt wiped, 1 urgent diaper change, 6 nose-blows, and 3 refereed conflicts. And supervised apologies and table-cleaning. And that was just after I got the groceries into the house. The backpacks are still sitting on the counter, hours later. The lunch boxes still have dirty containers in them, hours later. We were in full-blown crisis mode for nearly the entire time we were home. I mixed up a batch of strong margaritas and herded the family to Jackie's for dinner as soon as I could. 

Seriously? We can't be home for 20 minutes without constant crisis? It's no wonder that I don't feel like I get anything accomplished!!!

I keep telling myself that this constant "crisis" management is preparing me for greater things in the future. Maybe I'm meant to have a thriving private practice with a large staff? Raising children will certainly prepare me for managing the constant stream of conflicts that can arise. It's amazing what kids can use as a source of conflict. I'm not sure what other purpose this can serve. I do believe that God gives us challenges for a reason. Maybe my sense of humor needs honing? Maybe I just need to "exercise my patience" (as the girls and I chant while doing mock calisthenics and waiting for something). I have to believe that all of the absurdity is for a greater purpose. Because, seriously? I mean, really? You've got to be kidding!

Thank you Jackie for giving us a destination and a reason to not be crazy. And thank you for a yummy dinner. Sorry to not leave you the rest of the margaritas. I needed the water bottle for the gym tomorrow, and I figure that with nursing the twins and all, you wouldn't drink them. I'm finishing them as I type. Thank God for spell-check. I think I decided that I shouldn't blog after margaritas... Whatever. Because these kids... seriously!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thank God for Grandpas!

We got hailed on today. Just briefly. But it was enough to make the girls want to leave the playground. It was tiny hail, really just slush that couldn't figure out what form of precipitation it wanted to be and leaned a bit too far in the "solid" direction. So not painful, but cold and unpleasant. But it was quite handy.

I'm appreciative of anything right now that makes the girls easier to get along with while BestestHusband's in Amsterdam. Last night was not a great night for sleeping. So this morning was not a great morning for waking. So I'm especially thankful for Grandpa. BestestHusband's mother went to join him in Amsterdam. His father came here. I consider it to be a pretty good deal. Already we've had a handful of niggling little projects finished. And the dogs are currently being walked by Grandpa. And Grandpa's just so darn helpful around the house. And the girls love him. So it really is a joy to have him here. 

And while he's here, I've scheduled a haircut. And I'm trying to get a first appointment with a PT for my back and shoulder. And maybe even a massage. Life is good. 

Thank God for Grandpas!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stewardship Sunday. On Sunday This Time

It's Sunday again. Time to reflect on how I managed the many gifts I've been given.

This was another busy week. We made it to the gym, we tried out having a baby in the house for a few hours, we planned and prepped for the Easter Egg Hunt, had some fun playdates, welcomed Grandpa to town, then sent BestestHusband to Amsterdam for a week. Oh, and I spent a lot of time lying on the couch, resting my gimpy back and spastic shoulder. My house was disgusting, and I felt like I didn't get anything done. But my ToDo list tells me I did, and the Easter Egg Hunt today was more evidence for that.

The Easter Egg Hunt:  By the grace of God, the organizational skills of our daycare manager, the attention to detail of Anne, and the last-minute volunteering and attendance of a bunch of kids and families, it was a blast. And everyone's talking about next year. So I guess there's going to be an Easter Egg Hunt next year. As most of my energy this week went towards the EEH, that's what you'll see pictures of today. Thanks to Dan for using my camera to take lots of pics! Dan is dating Miss Ashley, our beloved toddler teacher, so he got roped into helping out while Miss Ashley was leading crafts.

Cupcakes. We had dozens of yummy cupcakes. Laura made these. Mmmmmm....

This was the food table BEFORE the ham and cheesy potatoes arrived!  Mmmmmm...

HeyMama's basket.

The jelly bean jar. Can you guess how many are inside? Wait, are there jelly beans in those eggs? Hmm, geometry can't help with this guess...

The Easter Bunny came!

Chocolate. Mmmmmmm...

Cute bunny mask craft.

Food Waste:  Nothing stands out this week. I didn’t cook much. We ate sandwiches, leftovers, and “5 buck cluck” (ie. Rotisserie chicken on sale at the grocery store) this week. I did not buy groceries with ambition. But in preparation for Grandpa, I did this weekend. So this week will be more of a challenge.

Patience:  I was cranky all week. But things weren’t too bad. BestestHusband did a lot of running interference for me.

M&Ms:  Joy (my friend Joy, not me talking about myself in the third person) brought over a baggie of peanut M&Ms. Which I finished off in a shockingly short period of time. Other chocolately/minty/peanut-buttery candies were also consumed this week. It was bad. It was really bad. I will be cranking up the intensity of my workouts tomorrow. Did you notice that the cupcakes had peanut M&Ms on them? Yeah, that didn't escape my attention. They really were good...

So the upcoming week will be a busy and emotional one. Holy Week is a strange time; there's much to mourn, but so much to do and the excitement of what is to come. I'm sure there's a good symbolism for the rest of life in there...

Have a great week!