Friday, November 26, 2010

Recent Doings

Well.  It's been a while!  Believe me, I have not, definitely not, been lazy!  Thing have been happening one after another and I've been crazy!  However, I have gone to bed a LOT of nights, wishing I had blogged.  I miss it!

So, here's the update, along with a few photos to document our crazy lives around here.

I have been busy baking more fun cakes!

First, I made Simon a Reese's peanut butter cake for his birthday.  His request.  He also requested not to be posted on the internet, so here is the cake, sans birthday man (I wouldn't call it an incredibly gorgeous success, but it tasted good):
It was fluted around the edges, but the hardening chocolate glaze hides that a little. 

Caleb turned THREE (about six weeks ago).  I ended up making two birthday cakes.  Yes, overboard, I know.  But I had an awesome train planned for his birthday party, and then realized that he didn't have anything for his actual birthday...and ended up making him a dinosaur one on the fly.  It turned out pretty cute, especially for a spur-of-the-moment thing: (it's a little messy, I know)

Showing off one of his presents before our birthday dinner. 

He wanted to eat the head.
And then here is the Actual Party Cake, a train.  I have to admit, I had SO much fun making this one, and it turned out amazing...despite being a ridiculously easy thing to do.

On to other, non-baking things.  Simon and I went to Florida for a wedding in October, and had our first time away without kiddos in...a long time!  The kids stayed with Mom and Dad.  Here we are at the wedding

Right after the wedding, Lyla started crawling, standing up (assisted of course) and trying to cruise.  She's getting SO BIG!

For Halloween, we had a cowboy and a little bear.  Caleb was a bear his first Halloween, too:

That's all for now...more to come!

Found: One Mop

Also Pictured:
One suspect

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Myself Plenty of Grief

I. Am. About. To. Kill Someone.  If only the right, expendable person would surface, I would be able to seriously contemplate it.

Taking time out of this, the crazy day before Thanksgiving, to blog, was definitely not on my to-do list.  In fact, my list is a mile long--now longer, as I will explain.  It's almost noon and I have about forty-seven more hours worth of work to do before Hubs gets home.  Yet here I am...too frustrated to continue with the day until I vent a little.

Here's what I did.  I made a lovely little list--of course, overly optimistic, but what's new?--tuned Pandora to my Thanksgiving channel, threw another of the perpetual loads of laundry in, and turned to my kitchen.  Cleaned it quickly, then on to dusting.  But then I paused.  I glanced at the kitchen sink.

My kitchen sink is white, and very, very poorly sealed.  In fact, the term "very poorly done" could apply to just about anything done to this house in preparation to sell it to us.  The guy was either a complete, unbelievable idiot, or the laziest, cheapest jerk ever.  I tend to lean towards both.

Anyway--the sink stains like crazy.  Pour out half an inch of red wine and the last dregs of the coffee, and I've got a lovely, brown-mottled sink that drives me crazy.  So, there it is, and I think to myself--"No, I don't have time to scrub this sink.  I'll just bleach it."  I grab the bleach, give the sink a few glugs in each side, then open the hot water faucet.

And leave the kitchen.

Phone rings, I get on internet for caller.  I respond to email from Hubs.  I check a sale I get an email coupon for.  I talk to Caleb, I declutter the living room.  I grab a load of laundry from the bathroom floor, and bring it into the kitchen to deposit it as the Next Load.

I stare at the sink.  It is gleamingly full of a softly blue water. is the counter...the stove...THE FLOOR---and the SINK IS STILL ON!!!!!!!!!!

Oh yes.  I have flooded my kitchen.  And that's not the Awesome Part.  There are several more, Awesomer Parts.  First, remember: bleach in the water.  Second--

We painted two bedrooms this weekend.  Moved everything out of them into the kitchen and living room.  And a goodly number of Things haven't been moved back yet.  For instance, a mesh basket of ironing-to-do, a small ficus in a wicker planter, a tent (don't ask) only halfway in its box, and The Bills, which are lying on the floor next to the plastic filing cabinet they should be inside.

Okay, and here's the best part--where I really went over the edge.  NO mop.  None.  Gone.  I scoured that kitchen (wading through two centimeters of warm, bleachy water), then dried my feet and searched the rest of the house.  It. was. gone.  Called husband.  He tells me he has no idea where the mop is, and why am I so upset about a mop?  And exactly how did the kitchen flood?  I may have hung up on him then.

So.  Old towels sufficed, and the kitchen is now bleachily dry.  Except for under the dryer and the stove.  Lord knows what to do about that.  I guess they'll dry.

The Destroyed Things are small in number, and I think the bleach was diluted enough not to hurt most of the things it touched.  But seriously.  How much harder can I make my own life???

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Guilt Funk

I have spent the past few days struggling under one of the heaviest burdens a mother can place upon herself.  Guilt.

Isn't it amazing how you can go through the day, feeling, as Simon calls it, "funky," without realizing why?  (Funky, as in, "in a funk," aka throwing little temper tantrums in your head (or out of it) all day long.  Flipping out over nothing, because something bigger is wrong and you haven't faced it or figured it out.)  I am constantly trying to train myself to catch this midstream, address it, and get over it.  It's hard.  Especially when it's a nagging, come-and-go kind of funk.  The kind that sneaks up on you when the quiet of naptime finally descends, or you walk into your kitchen to a sink-and-counter full of dirty dishes, and you suddenly feel like crying and/or screaming.

So, the name of the game lately:  guilt funk.  I'm feeling guilty for...something...and it starts to seep into my whole life, coloring my view of things and overburdening my heart.

Here's why this time.  A couple of weeks ago, I began looking into teaching a couple of home school curriculum programs to Caleb.  Nothing big, just a basic math (as in counting and matching) and phonics program.  Then I started calling friends with lower school backgrounds, getting recommendations, and trying to make the best choice for us.

Then I started reading blogs.  Enter guilt.

I am constantly amazed at the level of accomplishment and perfection some women attain!!  I found a blog of one slightly obsessive woman who had made out a daily schedule (on a weekly basis--Mondays, do this, Tuesdays, this, etc).  She had vacuuming, dusting and laundry EVERY DAY.  No joke.  I am super-lucky if I dust once a week.  It's really more like, if I can make a finger-line on my beside table, then I'll put it on the "to-do" list.  And get to it within a few days.

Okay, I am not that bad, really.  I keep things nice and tidy around here.  But I am also not that good.  NO thirty-minute increments here.  And then I find other, home-schooling blogs, with more women, feeling guilty because they only did two hours of school and then a nature walk and then cleaned the house today.  Geez, what a lazybones.

And it creeps in.  The doubt.  "Wait, am I supposed to be doing it that way?  What in the world am I doing wrong, if my day is filled before I even get to the dusting?  My kid can't count to twenty!  He only counts to ten if we're counting jellybeans--cause it's no fun otherwise!  Am I a bad mom, bad wife, lazy jerk?  I do read a little each day.  And, yeah, I'm sometimes worthless until 8:30 or 9:00 am, depending on who slept/didn't sleep the night before.  Am I a failure?"

Then comes the Unrealistic Resolve:  "I must do better.  I will get up at six tomorrow morning.  There will be NO TELEVISION.  I will play with my child ALL DAY, and by the end of the day he will be able to count to twenty, say the alphabet AND know three more catechism questions."

And of course, the guilt.  Because I start out NOT getting up at six, and the rest of the day fails just as miserably.  And then I angrily tell myself that those Crazy Blogging Women are the weirdos, not me.  But I can't quite believe it...and am harangued by doubt and guilt thereafter.

SO.  Let's be real.  My kid is two.  I have every intention of starting a great homeschool program with him.  However, we can't afford it yet.  Saving, yes.  Buying now?  No.  Why do I allow myself to feel guilty for that?  I don't.  Not anymore.

Satan LOVES guilt.  And I think, as a young mother, I am more prone to it than any other time in my life so far.  And when I get into a guilt funk, I start to sin, bigtime.  I get sullen, resentful, defensive and--get this--lazy.  Enter more guilt, perpetuate problem.  And Satan's dancing around laughing at the fact that, just by presenting me with a few women (who I don't even know!!) who do things differently--or, let's face it, better--than me, he can cause complete and total meltdown in my life.  How infuriating!

I know, just know that there are those of you out there doing just the same thing.  And I know--of course!--that I can and should continue to grow, change and better myself and my life around here.  But what I must not do, if I can help it, is allow myself to live under a constant weight of guilt and self-loathing.  Because that doesn't just get me nowhere, it actually makes me worse! encouraged!  I am not perfect.  I can see a sinkful of dirty dishes from where I am typing!  And, here's another "secret."  I don't post blogs about the stuff I do wrong very often.  Blogging is a controlled way to look fabulous--even in our guilt!  "Oh, I did such a bad job today, only cleaning the house and washing the dog and mowing the yard and teaching my kid Yiddish.  I mean to paint my toenails, too."  Bleh.

Don't be fooled by other women.  We all have our weaknesses.  Be confident that, with grace, we can change!  Be honest that, without it, no schedule or resolve would ever be even slightly effective!  And, when you feel guilty, like we all do, stop.  Acknowledge it.  Confess it.  Speak Truth to yourself--or get your husband to do it.  They're great at that, I find.  And go on.  Ask for grace and go on!

And, sorry for the dust.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rubber Ducky Cake

I made this for my nephew, Titus' first birthday!  Isn't it cute?  I had such a fun time making it, and it really wasn't that much work!

I found it on this website:

I intend to make Caleb the train for his birthday, October 1.  I actually intend to become a cake genius, a la Cake Boss.  (If you have never seen Cake Boss, watch it.  It's available instantly on Netflix!  Just don't blame me when your husband decides he must run to the grocery store and buy a cake from the bakery.  I am not exaggerating here, either.)

Here are a few more angles of Ducky:

And he was very sweetly and happily enjoyed by the birthday boy:

And this was what he ended up looking like:

I think he liked it!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ulta with a Kiddo

This fall's ' it-color.'  Which will not impress your kid.

Oh man...I did a stupid, stupid thing today!  I went to Ulta with my children.

I know, this was a bad idea.  Kids, especially three-year-olds, do not belong in a huge store, full of expensive, fragile makeup.  Duh.

But I thought, "My kid is a good kid.  I've taught him how to handle himself.  This will take fifteen minutes, tops.  How bad could it be?"  What I did not say to myself that I should have:  "It is already past his afternoon naptime.  He is tired, therefore unlikely to be overly cooperative.  Also, you have another child with you.  You are 50% more encumbered than you used to be."

So, in we went.  All was well, as we grabbed mascara, a pencil sharpener, and the two shades of Essie nail polish I really wanted.  Not so much anymore.  Two nail polishes were so not worth the following.

We got up to the front desk, and Caleb, who was allowed to take one small, yellow tractor into the store with him, starts driving it (with realistic noises, but at a fairly unrealistic noise level) along the big, white checkout counter.  The lady in front of us gives us one of those looks.  You know the kind.  It signals to you that this woman either never was a mother or hated her children until they were adults.  I calmly and sweetly tell Caleb to drive his tractor back towards me, which he does not do.

Pause.  I am, at this moment, carrying Lyla in her carseat.  I also have a huge diaper bag hanging off the other shoulder.  In my hands are mascara, two slippery nail polish bottles and a pencil sharpener that I have already dropped and popped open once.  Unpause.

When Caleb ignores me, the woman in front of us tips her head in a that-was-just-what-I-expected-him-to-do kind of gesture, and inches forward.  I blush, and start forward toward him, repeating myself.  As he pulls away, I realize how almost immobile I am at this point; how powerless I am, since I have Lyla, etc.

The world freezes as I lock eyes with Caleb.  He seems to read my mind.

And he's off.

Like a flash, running and giggling.  Out of sight in two seconds flat.

And what do you do at this point?  Let me say, the temptation to become that screaming mother you've seen in the grocery store line was incredibly strong.  Luckily, as I turned, I caught the gaze of the woman in line behind me, who is pregnant, and gives me a sweet, understanding smile--with no pity in it, bless her!--and I snap into gear.  I handed my products to the salesclerk, and said, "I am so sorry, but I am gonna give you these and have to go grab my kiddo."  I completely ignorned the Horrible Woman as I scooted past her, and luckily, she left the store after that.

Then Caleb and I engaged in the game of standing on either end of the aisles, with him running ahead a few, giggling furiously, then stopping to wait for me to haul myself and Lyla far enough to catch sight of him, say, "Come here, Caleb," and then he screeches and takes off again.  There is never fewer than a good thirty feet between the two of us.

And I am seeing red, red, red by this time, and have become a spectacle to boot.  I am starting to realize that this horrible game is going to go on as long as he wants it to--cause what am I gonna do, put Lyla down in the middle of the store so I can be fast enough to make it down the aisle before he disappears again?  Can't do that.  After maybe 30 seconds, he finally comes down towards me into one of the aisles as I get to it.  There were three girls in this row, of course.  I pulled together every ounce of dignity and command I had left and said, in my firmest, most un-disregardable voice, "Caleb, come here right NOW."  I may have gotten just a tad loud on the last word, but, well, I was doing good not screaming at the top of my very lungs.

Thank goodness for the three (very entertained) girls in that aisle, cause Caleb looked up at them and suddenly became Obedient Caleb, and meekly walked up to me, and put out his hand to mine. We returned to the checkout counter (believe me, it took what little self control I had left to actually go buy the stupid nail polish; never in my life have I wanted to buy something less), and out the door.  

Caleb, of course, has been summarily dealt with by now, and is quite clear on the ins and outs of running away from Mom in stores.  Not that he'll be in another one anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting Naturally Slim

Well, friends, the time has come to say goodbye to the babyweight.   All thirty-ish pounds of it.

This week I began a program called Naturally Slim (, which is an awesome, lifestyle-change kind of way to lose weight.  Low maintenance, no counting of points, calories, grams or carbs, and eat anything you want.  Quite literally.

I'm telling you this so I have some small measure of accountability.  Hopefully I'll be too ashamed to quit!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"She gets up while it is still dark, and provides food for her family..." Proverbs 31:15

Yeah, that's not me.  And I am feeling the need to reform this area of my life!  I would be a much, much better mother and wife--and generally a whole lot more sane--if I did a better job in the mornings.

If I'm being honest, I have to say that I have never, ever had a really good, successful morning routine.  Even when I was working, I was constantly rushing around, late and completely frantic by the time I got anywhere.  The best I've done was with Caleb before Lyla, when he was sleeping a bit late.  However, that was still unsatisfactory.

I need some suggestions!  Staying at home with kiddos is ahhhbsolutely wonderful, and one of the biggest challenges it offers me is Creating Structure.  And Sticking to A Routine.  I'm super bad at both.  I've gotten better, and am working on it.  However, in the morning, it is nearly impossible for me even think straight, much less be a careful observer of what is going on and what needs to change.  

I'd like to be the mom that wakes up before her kids, makes coffee and breakfast, has a quiet time, has breakfast with hubby, and gets dressed.  Perhaps even goes on a early morning jog or walk.  My mom always did that--still does.  

Do you have any strategies or pieces of wisdom that have helped you get into a good morning routine and stick to it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Five Months Old Today!

Happy 5-Monther
I did not pose her.
Happy Five Months to Lyla Anne!
She got her first haircut yesterday, which is what I'm showing here.

Yes, it's a little retro, a little fifties, but she likes it.

She fell over, effectively ending the photo shoot.

I also de-mullet-ed her.  She thanks me.

Beauty Doubles

Today is Lyla's five-month birthday!  Yay for my little girlie.  She got her first haircut yesterday.  Pics of that soon...she's pretty cute with her little bob.

This also means that I've been un-pregnant for five months!  I've spent the past two or three struggling to reclaim my body and my...overall appearance...without breaking the bank.  I have found SO many cool things, I've just gotta share them!  

First and foremost--and where most of my other tips are coming from, is  This girl is fabulous.  Before her, I had been putting my eyeshadow on the same way since high school, I kid you not.  And then I wondered why my little sister always looked better than me...more current and cute.  It can't all be because Mom and Dad are still footing the bill for her makeup!  Anyway, this site put me back in the game.  So did the free subscription to In Style I got for spending money at Ulta.

So. The problem, for me, is that there are, of course, millions of amazing products out there, that will do the job right, and make me look as fantastic as possible.  They are just way too expensive, all together.  I still have a few that I'll fork over the dough for, but fewer than I anticipated.  I went on a search for Beauty Doubles--drugstore prices for department store quality.  Here they are, with my un-double-able ones thrown in:

1.  Base your face!  Artists do this--prepping a canvas.  Makeup artists do it, too.  And so should you!  This tiny step makes all the difference in the world, makes makeup go on smoother, and last waaaaaaaaaay longer (cause what mom has time to retouch her makeup?  Please.  That is so eighth grade.).  Two products that changed the way my makeup stays put--even in the 109 (no exaggeration!) degree heat.

You are going to think I am crazy for this first one!

Monistat Chafing Gel, $7.00.  I KNOW!  I thought this was nuts, too.  It is technically for...other areas...that might rub, chafe, etc.  But what it does is "matte-ify" your whole face, dissolve the oil, and makes the foundation slide on like butter.  It also holds onto it, and keeps the oil and sweat more at bay.  If this just freaks you out, spend the dough on alternative products:  Urban Decay Face Primer, $30.00.  

Palladio Herbal Eyeshadow Primer, $8.00.  As opposed to Urban Decay Eye Primer Potion, $30.00.  Second in the Base Your Face Program is eyeshadow base.  This stuff smooths eyelids, acts as a concealer as necessary, makes colors pop and literally clings to the shadows.  I have accidentally gone to sleep with makeup still on, and STILL had it on in the morning with this stuff.  Added bonus: it makes slightly less quality eyeshadows work like the high-end ones. 

2.  Foundation.  We all need it!  Those of us over 18, anyway.

Revlon Colorstay Foundation, $5.00.  Yep, five bucks.  This is the first liquid foundation I've used in a long time.  I've been a longtime fan of Bare Minerals, which'll run you about $30.00.  It looks absolutely fantastic, but recently some doctors have brought up the potential danger of breathing in the powder (the particles are so  small, your  lungs can't really filter them out, supposedly).  I have no idea whether this is true or not--but I can say, it's harder on the pocketbook.  An extra tip:  for any liquid foundation, get a a stippling brush: 
 makes the foundation look even smoother and more perfect.

3.  Eyeshadow.  This stuff can run you pretty expensive.  My favorite brand is MAC, and it's a good $12 for a single color there.  But drug stores can catch you up, too...I was forever resolving to find a match for that perfect MAC color (for me, it's a color called Grain), and then spending 3, 4, 5 bucks over and over, ending up with not-good-enough imitations, until I got frustrated and went back to MAC.  Even more expensive in the end!  My go-to-solution, not just for eyeshadow, but for pretty much anything else they make:  

NYX Single Eyeshadow - HERBNYX Single Eyeshadow - GOLDEN DUNENYX Single Eyeshadow - EGGPLANTNYX Single Eyeshadow - MOROCCO
NYX eyeshadows, $5.50/single color.  These are basically MAC-equivalent.  So many great colors--I even  found my Grain-alike.  You can also get them in three, five and zillion-color packs.  They're available at Ulta an some drugstores.  Ulta frequently does buy-two-get-one-free sales on this stuff, so stock up then.  

4.  Mascara.  This is a no-brainer for me...I've spent ridiculous amounts trying out expensive brands, and always, always take them back and return to my original, drugstore fave:

L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Waterproof Mascara, Carbon Black 395 .23 fl oz (6.9 ml)
L'oreal Voluminous Mascara, 12.00.    I use the waterproof kind, and it. is. awesome.  Especially great for those of us with straight-as-a-board eyelashes, who spend time curling them, only to have them straighten right back out if your mascara is too watery.  Not a problem with this stuff.  If you don't mind non-waterproof, they have a new Carbon Black color that is about as black and eye-catching as you can get.

5.  Okay, let's make this simpler.  NYX products of any kind.  I've been pleased--well, delighted, actually--with everything I've tried by them.  You can't find much they have that's more than $8.00.  Here's a few I currently use daily:

NYX Mega Shine Gloss - Sunrise
NYX Megashine Lipgloss, $5.00  This stuff is shiny, gooey, and all that lipgloss should be.

NYX Cream Blush - Golden
NYX Cream Blush, $6.50.  They also have powder blushes, but I haven't tried them yet.  The cream ones have a tiny shimmer in them, great for summer.
NYX Lipliner - RoseNYX Round Lipstick - B52
NYX Lipliners, $3.50, and lipsticks, $4.00.    The lipsticks aren't that thick, pigmented kind like MAC, but they have lovely colors and go on smoothly.  I prefer the lighter kind to the goopey kind anyway.

6.  And finally, the one thing I can't find a double for, but that makes all the other savings last even longer:  Makeup setting spray.

All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray

Urban Decay "All Nighter" Makeup Setting Spray, $30.00  Here's my justification for this expensive product.  First, I can't find one that's cheaper.  Second, this stuff makes my makeup last through Texas sweat, housecleaning, nursing, chasing a two-year-old and everything in between.  And thirdly, in this busy life, if I am gonna spend time putting this stuff on, it dang well better stay there.  Or else why do any of it in the first place?  I'll let you know if I find a Beauty Double for this one.

That's it for now...gotta go get out the kiddie pool and ensure a quality naptime for Caleb.  And, just so you know, I'm not wearing a stitch of makeup while I do it.  :-)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sacrificial Mothering

Caleb has been at my mom's house for the past two nights.  It's been sad not to see him, but, wow am I accomplishing things!  I did more yesterday than I would get done in two weeks around here!

The most interesting part of not having him--this is the very fist time he's done this--is realizing how much he really does demand from me on a daily basis.  Even my thinking is constantly interrupted!  It makes me feel alot better about the things I do get done, despite the parenting!

I think, somewhere deep in my heart, I start to doubt my worth, and myself, when I have repeated "in between" days, or even just a whole week where I don't get the laundry and the mopping done, etc.  The world tells us that, as women, we can have it all, do it all, and still come out looking like supermodels.  But it simply isn't that way.  Motherhood is, ultimately, a complete sacrifice of who we are as women.  It's saying, "My life for yours," to our kiddos each and every day, in tiny little ways:  playing with him instead of reading or talking to friends, disciplining correctly instead of losing your temper or letting things slide, doing the housework, the cooking, the teaching, the planning and the loving instead of getting a tan and going to the gym.

So, you know it's really happening when you do look terrible, or you feel emotionally raw and drained.  Or your tummy still jiggles from your last pregnancy.  Those things mean you're doing something other with your time--giving it to someone else besides yourself.  That's what being a Mom is all about.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The In-Between Days

Today has, sadly, become the kind of day I like to--no, have to--think of as an in-between day.  Essentially, it's a day where things feel out-of-kilter; lots of punishments are happening, and you know someone's growing or changing, and you've got to figure out why and how, and then adapt to it.  So, it's in between the good, solid times, and I like to think it doesn't count.

Recently, I seem to have these days especially often.  Today, it looks like this:  Lyla, who usually sleeps well, woke up two and three times to eat the past four nights, and I'm exhausted.  The house is dirty, the pantry is empty, and I am feeling guilty about these things.  Normally, I'd get Caleb into bed and start hacking away at the chores, which are numerous on a Monday.  Today, I am stuck in a holding pattern that looks like this:

Me:  Caleb, get in your bed and stay there.  Be still. Be quiet.  Go to sleep.
Caleb:  Yes, mom.
Two minutes later, I hear a thud or a clink or the patter of feet (not as cute as it usually is), which tells me that Caleb has gotten out of bed, gotten a toy, etc.
I head into Caleb's room.  He hears me coming, and I hear him scrambling frantically to return to going-to-sleep position.  I usually open the door to him leaping onto the bed, or pulling the sheet up over his head.
Me:  You were out of bed, weren't you?
Caleb:  (muffled and whiney) Yes.
Me:  So now you get _______ (whatever I have threatened him with).
Caleb: NO!
Me:  Yes.  Discipline proceeds.

REPEAT, over and over and over.

I am literally writing this in the two-minute increments between repeats of this scene.  Because there's not much else I can get done in that time.  And I am starting to second-guess myself:  Did I put him down too early?  Should I have worn him out more before I put him down?  Is he getting too old to take a nap?  Should I just let him play in his room, quietly, instead of taking the nap?  Hence the in-betweens.  Questioning and reassessing the situation, trying to stay calm.

Today, I've decided he's just being difficult.  And he does still need that nap, or he'll be a holy terror tonight before bedtime.  But my kitchen, laundry and...well, the whole house...are calling to me to clean them, and--there it is!  His little voice, putting off bedtime with an "owie," a "drink," or a "monster."

These are the days I need the most grace.  And maybe a bottle of wine.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I don't know HOW you do it...

Let me step up onto my soapbox for a minute...and warn you that I am doing so.
I have recently become aware that I am offended by the following statement: "I don't know how you do it. I could never stay at home with my kids all day long."
Why is this okay to say? I have heard it from multiple women. Usually said in a half-adimring, half-pitying kind of way, it's supposed to be laughed at. I'm supposed to respond by saying, "Oh, I know...I barely stay sane, at home with toddlers all day. Believe me, I envy YOU. Your identity is still intact."
Okay--deep breath. Let's back up. I am fully aware that my choice is my own, that my reasons are my own, and that no other woman is like me. I am not writing this to talk about those choices. The subject here is the inherent attitude these kinds of comments reveal: that women who stay at home with their kids have lost a part of themselves; are lesser women because they don't work; are doing something any sane person would avoid; are in a position to be pitied; or don't have as much to offer society and therefore just hang out at home.
Don't believe me? Think I am making waaaaay too big a deal out of this? What if I were to say "I don't know how you do it. I could never leave my children with someone else while I went to work." It's the reverse of the statement, and holds the same amount of inherent judgment and disapproval. I would NEVER get away with saying something like this! And I don't want to. Obviously, it's not loving. It's a sinful, judgmental attitude.
Maybe I'm just asking for a little awareness. I know it's easy to let comments like this slip out. Especially ones you hear others say all the time. But this one stings. It's a backhanded compliment. It's rude.
So, don't say this to me. Or to any other stay-at-home mom. And, if you stay at home, and have someone say this to you, respond
lovingly. But truthfully! Let's not allow ourselves to get bogged down. Respond with a cheerful, "I love it! Wouldn't have it any other way!" or even, "It's hard work, but it's the only work I wanna do."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cloth Diapers: going with the G

great orange little gPants

I am not a very au-naturale kind of girl. I looooove makeup. I still use hot rollers in my hair sometimes (lingering effects of an eighties childhood). I like doctors, I don't generally distrust Western medicine. I was recently completely unable to have Lyla sans epidural, despite the desire to know what it felt like. I started--desperately--NOT wanting to know ANY more about what it felt like pretty early into labor. I also eat meat, prefer JuicePlus to many vegetables, wear leather and would wear fur if I had any.

So, I thought I would never, never be interested in cloth diapers. To me, they went in the "things mothers can do to make their lives needlessly more difficult" category. I was so wrong!

I don't even have a thoughtful reason for why I first became interested in them. I just thought they would look really, really cute on Lyla. (Of course, they do!) But I couldn't justify the (supposed) work, or commit to the whole thing based on the cuteness. So I started to do some research. And, wow, was I shocked. Not that disposable diapers are technically pretty environmentally unfriendly; I knew that. It's much more. Some of the most horrifying disposable diaper facts included:

Nearly 10 billion diapers are thrown away each year.
Disposable diapers take 100 years to disintegrate, because they are made largely of plastic.
Disposable diapers take up 1-2% of landfills.

There are more--exposure to chemicals, etc., but those three really stuck with me. Another surprising one: The average baby goes through around $2,000 worth of diapers before being potty trained. It doesn't seem like that when it's 20 bucks here and there, does it?

So, I was disturbed enough to start looking into whether or not there was a product out there I could handle. I didn't want to be stuffing and un-stuffing diapers full know. I also didn't want to be lugging dirty cloth diapers around in my diaper bag, but didn't want to resort to using disposables when I went out. If I was going to do this, I wanted to do it whole hog.

I won't go into what I didn't choose and why. Just tell you that the research I did led me to gDiapers. They're a California-based company that first set out to make biodegradable disposable diapers, then added cloth to their line. The diaper is adorable.

It involves three pieces: the outer, colored layer, alot like underwear. They call them gPants:

girly girl ruffle little gPants

 The middle layer, a waterproof "liner" that snaps in and out of the gPants and holds the third, inner layer, which is either disposable or cloth.  This is a photo of the disposable liner already inside the plastic layer:

gDiapers starter kit

The disposables bio-degrade within 100 days, and can be composted or even flushed down the toilet if you feel so inclined. I don't. The cloth are made mostly from hemp, and are so soft!

As you can see from above photo, the inner liners--the ones that do the job, so to speak--just lie down inside the middle, waterproof liner, instead of being stuffed in and out. This means two things: no pulling poopy diapers apart, and, usually, the other two layers of the diaper can be reused. With most other cloth diapers, you're using a whole new entire diaper every time. This takes up space, makes for more laundry (I have only 8 gPants, and 18 cloth liners, instead of having to buy 18 of each). But the best part of this is that you can go "disposable" without double crossing the environment. The disposables are a little bit more costly than a regular diaper--maybe 8 cents or so--but since I'm using cloth except for when we travel, it's still a huge, huge cost savings.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that the cloth inserts tend to make the outer layers a bit damp-feeling if they don't get changed every three hours or so. Not that they leak--Simon calls it "breathing." They are also supposed to get more and more absorbent with washing, so that may go away. The disposable inserts are literally just as good, as absorbent and as long-wearing as regular disposable diapers. AND I've never had the explosive baby-now-needs-a-bath thing happen with them, if you know what I mean.

Finally, the cost. I've spent about $300 getting this whole thing set up, including waterproof bags for nursery and diaper bag, 8 sets of gPants, 18 cloth inserts, a "case" of 180 disposable inserts, and the right laundry detergent. I could have done it a little more cheaply if I had done it in bulk right from the beginning, but I wanted to make sure I liked them before getting a ton! You can even get a Starter Pack at Whole Foods, with two gPants and two middle liners. Then you get a pack of disposable inserts (WF doesn't sell the cloth inserts).

So there you go. My thoughts and my story. Let me know what you think if you try them!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When You're "Just kinda...not tired"

This is what Caleb did instead of sleeping today. After a while of being quiet, I thought he was asleep. Then I got the call: "Momma! My face hurts, Momma!"

That's Desitin.

It was also on his feet.


from The Office:
Dwight: Michael once said to me, "Dwight, don't be an idiot." Changed my life. Now, when I am about to do something, I think "Would an idiot do that thing?" And if they would, then I do NOT do that thing.

I have a second conscience. His name is Simon. I love him. He keeps me from being an idiot.

As a fairly emotional woman, I tend to want to fly off and do things without much forethought. It used to get me into trouble pretty often--mostly when I said things I shouldn't say to the wrong people. But it also included buying random, unnecessary things, wasting time in stupid ways, reacting badly or emotionally to something, and even just being selfish. Simon has helped me with this. And continues to.

If I can remember--and I'm trying to make it habit--I check back with Mental Simon before I do things I know might be...something an idiot would do. And then, I know what he would say. And I do not do that thing.

But, really, what this comes down to--what Simon has lovingly, almost wordlessly taught me--is being thoughtful of others. Being loving as God is love. Putting others' feelings and needs ahead of my own. Not taking the risk that you might be sinning, no matter how good it feels or how much you want to. Another name for it is self-control.

I need the bracelet: WWSS?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back in our "homey home"

This weekend we were in the Dallas area with some old friends. It was the first time we've been away with Caleb and Lyla anywhere besides my parents'...and boy, was it work! Lyla cried half the way there, Caleb (and friend) stayed up till almost 2 am the first night, then didn't nap the next cetera. Needless to say, we were all exhausted by Sunday! The upside was that Caleb and Lyla both slept the entire way home, a never-before-accomplishment. We had a ton of fun, too...but might limit time with friends to one night in the future.
Being away like that always makes being home even more sweet. Now, we generally have great times at home, a fact mostly attributable to my sweet husband. Simon literally gets joy from being home. It's his favorite thing. And, while this makes it a challenge for me to drag makes for a joyous and contented home life.
Last night, Simon was downright giddy. Well, almost giddy. His happiness to be home overflowed into his interaction with Caleb and Lyla, and into our time alone--finally!--after the kids were abed. We were too tired to do much more than pop in our latest Netflix arrival and snuggle up, but there was something so nice about it. Just knowing Simon is happy is pretty much enough for me.
Caleb, probably picking up on Simon's attitude, calls our house his "homey-home," and woke this morning with a huge smile. During breakfast, he looked up at me and said, "I'm so glad to be back in our homey-home, Mama."
Me, too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Anniversary Greatness

Did you know there are official present-types for each and every anniversary? I didn't. But Simon's Mom is into it, and he enjoys looking it up each year. This year, he brought out the big guns. He looked up each and every different "official" gift for a fourth-year anniversary. Included in the options: fruit, flowers and linens. Yes, linens. Weird, I know. So check out the photo of what I got. First, the gorgeous flower arrangement--he picked out the flowers himself. Caleb especially liked the purple snap dragons. Second, he and Caleb colored me an apple. Third, that candle is "Clean Cotton" scented! Isn't that great? A thoughtful husband is worth more than anything.
(Also pictured: the sweet card that came with the flowers. It made me cry.)

Caleb's Creativity

I had to share this one. Yesterday, Caleb's favorite buddy, Ben, came over while his little brother was at the doctor. We decorated cupcakes with colored sugar and candy. Caleb, all on his own, looked at the brown icing and said it was dirt, then sprinkled green sugar on "to make it grass," then took one end of a gummy worm and poked it down into the cupcake, "so it's crawlin' out." Pretty awesome.

Beginning the Fifth Year

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of Simon making me his wife. Four years is so much longer than it feels! Trying to make sense of that number, I started looking back over all that has filled them. And, wow, have they been full! The biggest change is the to kiddos that have come, changing almost every aspect of our lives as they did. Another big one is the sweet little house we now own, and the new city I have lived in for the past year. Additionally, we've moved four times, Simon has changed jobs twice--from one to another and back again--and I've retired from a long, lustrous teaching career of two years. Alot has happened; alot of days have gone by.
And each day is a tiny, lovely blessing.
As a used-to-be writer, I go to bed almost every night, cataloging my experiences, thoughts and growth from the day, but never really recording any of it at all. I stay up, finding the perfect words to describe my exact emotion at getting the last of the carpet ripped up, or finding that perfect spaghetti sauce recipe, or peeking into the crib and seeing Lyla's huge, toothless grin. But those thoughts, like most of mine these days, dissolve away almost as quickly as sleep takes me, and I'm left the next day feeling like I really described those things well--but can't do it again.
And when I add up four years of that, well. A tiny tragedy.
I know there are literally millions of stay-at-home moms out there blogging their little hearts out, discussing the every day things like diaper rash and gardening. I ain't saying I got anything on them. I don't. I garden. Okay, I aspire to garden. But, regardless of the stereotype I am perhaps furthering, and the cliche I may be participating in, despite the fact that this may be a boring, nondescript little blog unworthy of much notice, I'm doing it. And I hope that, those of you who come with me, will enjoy it.