Sunday, January 30, 2011


Here's a radical concept: you can change your own mood. Maybe (hopefully) this isn't a radical concept for you, but for me it's a rather recent revelation.  

You mean moods aren't just randomly floating throughout the atmosphere waiting for someone to walk into them, like walking into a clingy spiderweb? And once I've walked into one, I'm not just stuck with it until I happen to walk into another one? Or until someone comes along and takes it off of me, hopefully replacing it with a better one?

Wow, sounds obvious. I guess I'm just a slow learner because this concept really did not seem possible to me not so long ago.  I'm not sure it even occurred to me. Now that I'm a little more aware of my own power over myself, I've been trying to be a more positive person in general. 

(My friend Angela pointed out to me that I was getting a little negative with my last post, complaining about the snow. Okay okay okay. Keeping negativity at bay is an effort. I'm trying.)

So okay, changing your mood might not always be easy. And if you're really depressed about something, it's probably not realistic to think you can suddenly transform your mood into one of unequivocal bliss. But you can improve it. Give it a try.

(Some of us might like to stay in a little place called Melancholia once in awhile, where maybe our sadness feels comforting and warm, like a pair of wet shoes you've been wearing for way too long. Once you get them off, you realize how much better you feel without them.)

Every time I hear that song by Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten, I'm reminded that I am responsible for my own destiny.

     Feel the rain on your skin
     No one else can feel it for you
     Only you can let it in
     No one else, no one else
     Can speak the words on your lips
     Drench yourself in words unspoken
     Live your life with arms wide open
     Today is where your book begins
     The rest is still unwritten


So last night I went out like I said I was going to and saw Chris's band, The Smiths United. It was so nice to go out and listen to good music and see my friends and watch everyone in the bar having a good time. Chris is channeling Morrissey, even though that might be sacrilegious and maybe impossible since Morrissey isn't dead. Chris has been working really  hard and it's paying off.  

A few weeks ago the awesome lady at Moon River Soap Company in New Baltimore (where they sell handmade all natural soaps that are helping Lucy's sensitive, eczema-prone skin) showed my friend Shelly and I how to make tissue paper flowers when I admired the ones she had hanging in the store. Shelly gave me a boat load of pink tissue paper she just happened to have laying around and luckily pink is my favorite color. I've been playing around with it and basically feeling like a failure because these flowers look easy to make but I somehow keep screwing them up. I think I'm starting to get the hang of it a little bit, and I decorated Bethany's friend's birthday present with one today. So just know, if you are a female and getting a present from me anytime soon, it will have a pink tissue paper flower on it.

Today was a nice sunny winter day in Michigan. We're supposed to get a huge snow storm later in the week. As long as the kids get a snow day, I'm totally fine with that.

Yes I realize these pretty icicles are probably not an indicator of healthy gutters.
And if they don't, I'll try really hard not to complain about it.



Saturday, January 29, 2011

Preschool is Perfect

Tonight we had a special night at Lucy's preschool, the Snowball Dance. Parents are welcome to accompany their preschoolers to school, along with siblings, to listen to music, dance, have snacks, and see a magic show. We had a lot of fun, but then I started getting that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. That one that says, "just a few more months of this sublime bliss and then it's all over. Then your little girl is going to be a big shot kindergartener. Then nothing will ever be the same again." It's like the last day of school when you've just had the best year ever and had so much fun and made so many friends, and you just know that no matter what everyone promises each other, you're never going to be able to re-live the awesome school year you just had..

As I've mentioned before, I love preschool. I particularly love this preschool, where Bethany and Connor went before Lucy. Where the teachers know our family. Where I have gotten to know many families throughout the years my kids have been going there. I do have some consolation knowing Mattie will be going there next year (fall 2012) 

Yeah, I'm really going to be a mess when Mattie is in her second year of preschool. Because the thing is, there's this warm and fuzzy feeling that second year, when the kids are all growing up at such an alarming rate, they're getting to know each other, and the parents and teachers are getting to know each other pretty well by this time too. And it gets cumulatively stronger with each of my kids because this is now my 6th year of sending my kids to this school. I've known some of these families since the very beginning of my experience here, when my oldest started preschool. I know the teachers by first name and love them, trusting them wholeheartedly with the care and well-being of my babies. Which is a big deal for someone who has never hired a babysitter. Only trusted family members and friends have ever watched my kids. Leaving my oldest at preschool for the first time was daunting (although certainly not for her) because I was leaving her with strangers. That is definitely no longer the case.

Yes preschool is perfect. Lucy will enjoy the next few months of preschool class parties and birthday parties and letter days and field trips. She will have her preschool graduation and her last preschool class picnic. And I will love seeing her enjoy all of these beautiful things, knowing that in a very short time, they will be distant memories for her. We'll run into a preschool classmate in Target or at the zoo, and she won't even remember ever knowing this kid with whom she shared so many happy times. Sometimes I just wish I could freeze time.

Doing the locomotion

Last  night it snowed. It looks so pretty, I could almost imagine that I love it. Until I have to get in my van and drive in it in a little while. Then... yuck, just yuck.

View from my front door
But I do love when it looks all fresh, and all the tree branches are covered in snow. I'm definitely kicking the kids outside to play today. After they're done cleaning the house.

However, as pretty as it looks, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be heartbroken if I never saw it again. I would have my memories to sustain me. Memories of shoveling, getting my van stuck at the end of my driveway, slipping on ice, sliding all over icy roads (hello? salt trucks? why have you forsaken us????), piles of dingy gray mush that used to be snow and that will linger in random lumps on roadsides and in parking lots until mid-April.  Yep, I'm pretty sure my memories would be enough to get me through the rest of my life snowless.                                                        
View from my back door

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life List 101 Update

First of all, I've added a page for my Life List, you can see the link for it above (below the blog title and picture). I will update the page when I add new things to my list or accomplish anything on it. 

I've been reading Run Like A Mother, by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, to help get  me into the running mindset (so I can accomplish #3 on my list - Run A 5K). I also run in place in my family room while doing the Wii Fit. Stop laughing. I know it's so not like real running, but at least maybe I am beginning to train my lungs not to burst into flames. I'm planning to buy a jogging stroller, hopefully in the next month or so, and my friend Julie told me about a 5K in May that we could maybe do together. 

I have a few additions to my list. After I got through the first 34, I've been finding it more difficult to think of more things I want to add. 

Also, I want to encourage anyone reading this to go ahead and make your own list. Keep it private or tell everyone like I'm doing. But do it for yourself. It's a fun activity to get you excited about your life. (Wait a minute. Am I channeling Dr. Phil?) It'll make you think about what you want to get out of life, because cliche as it is, life is what we make of it. Make it something good.

35. Learn to play the piano. Just a little would be fine. We have this piano sitting in our living room, someone is going to learn how to play the darn thing.
36. Get on a vitamin regiment. Learn about what I should be taking and do it every day. I've been taking calcium supplements for a couple months now, but I know there is more I should be doing. 
37. Transform my bedroom into a restful oasis; a clean, tidy and organized place Chris and I can go to relax. As the only room with a door on our first floor (besides the bathroom), our bedroom is generally the catch-all where we shove everything extraneous anytime we're expecting company. I want it to be beautiful and peaceful instead. 
38. Get in a regular habit of rotating one-on-one time with each of the kids. We don't even have to leave the house, but it would be great if we did at least once a month or so.
39. Organize all of my photos, both digital and print. This is going to be a huge job, and when I'm done with my own, Chris's mom has tons of old pictures in her attic that I'd like to get in new albums. 

That's all I can think of for now, but I will be working on adding more. If you make your own list, I'd love you to share it with me. At least some of it. Please. I'm nosy, but I could also use some inspiration.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Hate To Admit This, But I Think I'm Becoming A Homebody

Lately I am perfectly content to never leave the house. I got this absolutely divine Eddie Bauer blanket for Christmas, and I have these perfectly plump pillows (look at that alliteration! and it's not even "P" day...), and truthfully, I would be pretty dang happy to do nothing but lay on the couch day after day with my blanket, pillow, and laptop, barking orders and delivering commands. (I don't really bark. Much.)

"You need help with your homework? Bring it here. No you can't use my blanket."

"Can't you people hear the phone?. Can someone get that?"

"Someone bring me the baby so I can change her diaper. Don't forget the diaper and wipes."

"Lucy wants a snack. Who's going to get it for her?"

"I think the dog needs to go out." 

Honestly I'm not very good at delegation, but I think I'm learning.

I'm pretty sure the entire problem is this whole winter thing that's going on. The thought of going outside and being cold just exhausts me. My blanket is so warm and cozy. Why leave it if I don't have to?  

Yes sometimes I do leave the couch. These people keep dirtying clothes and dishes. Sometimes I have to cook for them. I try really hard to do a bare minimum 20-30 minute workout most days. And let's not forget the driving done to facilitate the fetching and delivering of children. 

I am going out this weekend. I'm going to see Chris's band, The Smiths United, play. Like at the bar. So like I have to actually have real clothes on under my coat. (You should totally go too. What's not to love about a Smiths tribute band? Unless you don't like the Smiths, but that would be blasphemy.) 

So yeah, hopefully when the weather starts improving I'll get over my couch potato homebody existence. No, I definitely will. But somebody better hide this blanket from me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

They Say It's Your Birthday

Actually Chris's birthday. And it was yesterday. He wanted to stay home all day and just hang around watching movies and stuff. So my mom and his parents came over for pizza and I made cake.

                                                         It looked pretty good in the pan.

While I am unfortunately not much of a cook, I do enjoy baking. Mainly because I love sweets almost to the exclusion of all other foods. So I had a box of chocolate cake mix, but I wanted to do something different with it, so I found this recipe for meringue-swirled chocolate cake on the Betty Crocker website. Well it was my first time making meringue, so let's just say it didn't look so pretty once I took it out of the springform pan. Nor was it quite as intact.


                                               This is what an overcooked meringue-swirled chocolate cake looks like.

I followed the directions exactly, but I guess I should have shaved about 10-15 minutes off the baking time. But it tasted good, kind of like a sweet, crunchy cookie coating. I think I'll try this one again another time, and maybe not forget about it until the oven buzzer goes off so that I actually check on it, to, you know, make sure it's not getting ruined.    

The kids put together a little routine for Chris, to the Beatles "Birthday Song". Can I just say I love that my 9-year old daughter has Beatles music on her iPod? We'll just ignore for a moment the rest of the crap she has on there.

My own birthday will be here in a couple weeks, and my birthday is always a depressing day for me. This year I resolve to enjoy my birthday. In fact I think I'm going to add that to my Life List - Enjoy My Birthday Every Year. I will prepare myself to have a great day. Okay I have some time to get myself hyped up, I'll do my best.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Preschool Is Preposterous

Just kidding, I love preschool. Yesterday was "P" day, and also my working day at the cooperative preschool Lucy attends. And it's fun to think of "P" words all day long. Even though it's now the next day but whatever.

When it was time to clean up and get ready for lunch time at preschool yesterday, one child did not take kindly to my helpfulness in the matter of putting away the giant waffle blocks. This child (whose name and gender shall remain anonymous) rushed me, and commenced to beat me with little fists, kick me, and violently climb up my body while frantically hanging on to me. 

Whoa there little cowboy/cowgirl. Where's the love?

This is my sixth year being involved in a cooperative preschool, which means working in the classroom alongside the teachers at least once a month. I have never had a child attack me, especially not an almost 5-year old child who maybe should be well past the age of violent temper tantrums.

My instinct...well my instinct was to think, "thank GOD my kids never behave like this."  And boy is that dangerous territory.  I had to hurry up and get that thought right out of my mind lest my own 4-year old suddenly develop a bad habit of beating her parents or random strangers into submission. Because that's how the universe works.

Oh my GOD. I can't believe his parents let him use a pacifier. He's like 3 years old!

Enter the child who sucks her thumb until she is 6.

Co-sleeping is dangerous! Those idiots will be sorry when they suffocate their poor, innocent infant who should be safely sleeping in his own crib!

Enter the baby who will only sleep while being held, and believe me, there is only so much sleep one can endure while sitting up. Furthermore, there is only so much sleep-deprivation one person can tolerate. And for some of us, that might not be very much at all.

Judging our fellow parents can easily become an ugly habit. Maybe that kid you saw at the grocery store this morning had a filthy dirty face because his mother woke up late and had to feed him a chocolate Poptart for breakfast, in the car on the way to dropping her other kids off at school, because there was nothing else to eat in the house, and then when they got in the grocery store (because there was nothing to eat in the house, are you following?) she fittingly realized that she did not have any wipes or a single tissue with which to clean her child's face. 

But why would she wait until there's nothing to eat before going to the grocery store? Doesn't she plan for these things? Maybe her husband's paycheck came late, or maybe the whole family was down and out with a nasty stomach bug all weekend. Or a millions other things, it really doesn't matter.

But chocolate Poptarts? Who would feed their children such absolute garbage? Maybe a well-intentioned grandparent brought them over for a treat. Or maybe it's just a family who eats Poptarts, okay? Who cares? 

Well alright, but couldn't she have just taken him home to wash his face once she realized how filthy he was? How long could it take to get him out of the cart, put him back in the car seat, drive home, take him out of the car seat, bring him in the house, wash his face, get him back in the car seat, drive back to the store, get him out of the car seat, and put him back in the cart? Do you even have kids?

My own kids have done their best to embarrass me plenty of times. Don't all kids? And because I know I sometimes might have a snarky thought cross my mind when I see someone else's kid behaving poorly, I cringe all the more the one time my oldest decides to start crying at the store because I won't buy her something she wants. I know I'm being judged. My parenting skills are in question, my character, the character of my child, our family values. 

So that child who attacked me...well maybe he or she was having a really bad day for some reason. Maybe his or her dad was out of town for work and he or she was really missing him. Or maybe that little boy or girl was coming down with a cold, or didn't get enough sleep the night before.  Or whatever. 

No kid is perfect, no parent is perfect, and there is no one perfect way to raise a child to ensure perfection. Sometimes we do the very best we can, and still our children misbehave or do things we really wish they wouldn't do.  Despite our best efforts, they might lose their homework or spill juice on it. They might say something rude to somebody. They are their own people, after all. They don't follow scripts that we carefully prepare for them. Sometimes we might wake up late and not have time to brush their hair. Sometimes we might not notice that their shoes don't match until we're half way through the mall. The end result that everyone sees and judges is a conglomeration of so many things. Things that the person judging usually has no way of knowing.

When I realize these judgments are cropping up into my consciousness, I do my best to nip them in the bud a.s.a.p. Because it's true what they say about walking a mile in another man's shoes. Being helpful, kind, and understanding might take a little more effort. But it's effort well spent.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

We're Little People And We'll Always Be Friends

I love Little People. When I was a kid I had a blue Little People house and a Little People fire station, and how I loved to play with the choking-hazard Little People figures that went with them. Once when we moved cross country I had to part with some of my toys, and one of those was my beloved Little People fire station. To this day I regret getting rid of that toy. My mom still has the rest of my Little People stuff, which my kids play with when they visit Grandma.

When I grew up and had kids of my own, I was thrilled to discover that Fisher Price had re-imagined and modernized Little People. I became maybe a little obsessed with buying Little People sets for my kids. Oh the details! The furniture! The accessories! The endless variety of imaginative scenes to be played out! So we have quite a few Little People toys. Maybe, just maybe, a ridiculous amount of Little People toys.

But when we moved into this house in 2009, five (yes 5!!) days before Mathilda was born, the boxes of Little People went to the storage room in the basement. We have high hopes, you see, of creating a play room for the kids down there. It just hasn't happened yet. 

(But it will! I swear! Hopefully sometime before they've totally outgrown playing with toys altogether. Otherwise our grandkids are going to have a kick ass play room.) 

So the Little People have been living down there ever since, sad and lonely with no one to play with them.  Poor Little People. However, this past Christmas, Mathilda received some new Little People sets. And that reminded the kids that there is a stockpile of these plastic gems in the basement. Yesterday Bethany hauled one of the boxes up to the family room and boy they all went crazy playing with those Little People that have been ignored and neglected for almost two years. The first thing Lucy did when she got up this morning was play Little People. Bethany and Connor can't wait to come home from school today just so they can totally annihilate the family room with Little People. Daddy will be so thrilled. 

 this is just a wee sampling of the Little People mayhem

And I'm about to go hit up Amazon to see which new and exciting Little People toys I can save in my cart for Mathilda's birthday. 

See, Little People, I knew we'd always be friends.

Monday, January 17, 2011

...Like A Stranger In The Night

Don't worry, this is not where I share with you from my journals of unpublished poetry. (I don't have any, cause if I did, well, no promises).

So I woke up this morning and realized I haven't nursed Mathilda in like 3 or 4 days. Whoa. Oh my GOD. I never thought she was going to release me from her evil clutches. In fact, not long ago I seem to remember tears in the middle of the night. My tears. And maybe a teensy bit of ranting, something about never being freed of my servitude to a little person with a huge will to nurse forever. And then suddenly I woke up today and realized it's over. Like it was a huge joke.        

Hahaha. You really thought I was serious about that? Breast milk? Eh. It's okay I guess.

I've definitely been all over the board on the nursing thing. I don't judge any mother for whatever choices she makes on the milk front. Because I've done it all, from nursing at first and then switching to formula, to straight formula from day one, to doing both formula and nursing for 18 months, and finally, exclusively nursing a child who would rather starve (loudly) than touch a bottle. Now that those days are behind me, I have to say, I wish I had had the fortitude to stick out the nursing with the first two. And I say that in a totally non-preachy way, because I really don't care how you feed your baby. It's just in my 20/20 hindsight, I can see that if I had just suffered through the first few torturous months, I would have survived and it would have become much easier eventually.  

Nursing is great for lazy people who don't want to mix formula and wash bottles. And for people who don't like to sleep. (hey don't let this deter you if you are right at this moment debating: breast or bottle? because you could get lucky and have a nurser who likes to sleep. I've heard they do exist.) Because on the plus side, those two little formula fed babies slept like rocks, and for that I was so grateful. 

I'm glad to have resolved the hostage situation with my body, but honestly, I think I will miss nursing a little bit. Not that I wasn't TOTALLY ready for it to be over, it's just that Mathilda is a big girl now and so busy. Snuggling on my lap doesn't hold as much appeal for her anymore. So here I go again sniffling about my baby growing up.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Life List: 101 Things I Want to Accomplish In My Life

I've written before about life goals, but I've been inspired by others to expand my list. I'm going to begin with the things on my original list and add to it.

  1. Become a foster parent. I've wanted to do this for years. When my kids are a little older, I'd love to provide a safe and loving temporary home for little kids. 
  2. Participate in the Breast Cancer 3-Day. I think this would be such a great experience, but I need to enlist a friend or two to do it with me and help me raise funds because I really hate asking for money.
  3. Run a 5K. Sounds pathetic, I know, but this would be a challenge for me and I really want to do it.  
  4. Get LASIK eye surgery. Originally I also had "get contact lenses" on my list, but I did that in 2010. And I hardly wear them because I'm lazy. I'm still glad to have them for those times when I don't want to be wearing glasses. But it would be lovely to lay in bed at night and watch t.v. and not worry if I'm going to wake up laying on a pair of crushed glasses.
  5. Live somewhere outside of Michigan. I don't know if I'd ever want to permanently re-locate, but I would like to live someplace outside of the mitten for awhile, preferably someplace where months of endless winter don't suck the life out of me.
  6. Scuba dive. This one scares the crap out of me. I don't know if I could overcome my fear of spontaneously combusting from oxygen to the brain or something. (boy, am I my mother's child or what?) But I think it would be totally surreal to get an up-close view of life under the sea. I will at least snorkel. I can totally handle that. I think.
  7. Take my kids on a major, life changing trip. My real dream is to take a family round the world trip, like my idols at did. They inspire me, as does this family
  8. Volunteer in a third world country. I'd love if we could do this as a family someday, when the kids are a little older. It'd be great if my youngest was past the eating anything and everything she happens to see on the floor no matter where she is phase.
  9. Master sewing. I'd like to be able to follow a pattern and make clothes. I don't quite aspire to be like my friend Hilary who can sew the most amazing things, like turning her husband's dress shirts into the most adorable dresses for her girls, but it would be nice cause I'm totally jealous. 
  10. Learn to crochet or knit. I want to do this one this year. I need something to do with my hands while I'm watching t.v. or riding in the car. I just need someone to teach me because I don't think I'm one of those people who can pick it up from watching You Tube tutorials.
  11. Go on a zip line. This one scares me too, but I think I could do it. Maybe a little Valium beforehand would do the trick. Kidding. (probably). There's one at the Grand Rapids Zoo, which I know isn't as exciting as zipping through the rain forest, but it might be more my speed.
  12. Master French. French was my favorite class in high school, and I started out as a French major in college, but transferring colleges a couple times got my classes screwed up and I switched to Psychology (smart move. not.). I want to speak fluent French and understand it when I go to France someday.
  13. Ride a bike again. I haven't ridden a bike since I was about 11 years old. But my aunt is giving me her bike and I'm totally going to ride it this year. I better get a helmet though cause I'm not exactly known for my grace and athleticism. I see family bike rides in my future.
  14. Be in decent enough shape that I'm not mortified to be seen in public in a bathing suit. Don't worry, not a bikini (scared you there for a minute, didn't I?), that will never happen without the aid of cosmetic surgery. It's sad that the most comfortable I've been in a bathing suit in the last 10 years was when I was pregnant. Cause then it's cute to have a huge belly.
  15. Go on a trip with friends. No kids. That's for Chris whose reading this and thinking, go ahead. You and the kids go ahead and take a trip with friends, what are you waiting for?
  16. Go back to Jamaica where we went on our honeymoon. That was the plan for our 10th anniversary, before Chris lost his job and then almost died of a ruptured ulcer. Fun times, 2008.
  17. Go to Prince Edward Island and see all the sights from Anne of Green Gables, one of my favorite series of books as a child.
  18. Take a family road trip across the entire U.S. As a kid I traveled from Michigan to Arizona and California and back again a few times, but I don't remember much of it. I'm probably nuts but I just think it would be so much fun.
  19. Buy a camper. Then we could take it on our cross-country trek. And lots of other places.
  20. See the pyramids in Egypt. Maybe I helped build them in a former life because I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember.
  21. Get in the habit of meditating daily. I need this to calm my busy mind.
  22. Take a mother/daughter, mother/son trip alone with each of my kids. Even if only for a night or two.
  23. Get in the habit of washing my face every night. Again, I'm lazy. I don't wear much make-up though, so it's not totally disgusting. Just a little disgusting.
  24. Get braces. The sooner the better.
  25. Publish a book.
  26. Potty train Mathilda. oh wait, how'd that get on here?
  27. Do something fun on New Year's Eve. We need to break our tradition of boring nights in on NYE.
  28. See a play on Broadway. 
  29. Go back to Arizona and California and see where I lived as a kid.
  30. Go cross-country skiing. 
  31. Try out being a being a vegetarian for awhile. Not a vegan though. I need my cheese and ice cream, thank you very much.
  32. Ban the children from watching television for a set period of time, like a month or three. Notice I didn't mention anything about the parents.
  33. Learn to draw. This is another thing my mom can do but somehow never taught me. Maybe it was the poisonous lead...
  34. Teach my girls to sew. Well Connor too if he's interested. Which he's not because girls do that. And girls are like so gross. But I'm totally equal opportunity and all. Once I figure out what I'm doing, I'd like to pass it on.
I'm going to continue this next time. I better quit before I fall asleep on my laptop. Which is not as uncommon as you might imagine. In the meantime I'll be thinking of more goals to add to my list.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Has Anyone Ever Actually Sold Their Kids To The Gypsies?

I love having my kids home with me. Snow days are fantastic, school breaks are lovely. Sick days, on the other hand...not so much. My big kids have strep throat and the antibiotics have started to kick in, so they're still sick enough to miss school tomorrow but well enough to follow me around the house all day and drive me batty. Oh my gosh they never stop eating. The very second they finish one thing, they are pestering me about what's up next on the menu. Lucy and Mathilda love to do everything their big brother and big sister do, so they have joined in on the fun too. Four kids taking turns begging me for food all day long, and well I pretty much got nothing done all day that didn't involve toasting bread, pouring Vernors, making Jello, cutting up apples, and washing dishes. Cause all that eating uses up lots of dishes.

Luckily, they love t.v., so at least I don't have to entertain them all day while I'm preparing and delivering food, and perpetually cleaning up the kitchen. Well Mathilda does love t.v., but she also loves mischief  plus she seems to have me confused with the cruise director, so I spend a lot of time sort of pretending to play half-ass games with her while I'm simultaneously doing ten million other things. Sorry Mathilda if you're scarred for life. Someday maybe you'll be a mother with kids home sick from school and you'll understand I didn't mean you any harm. 

So I'm wondering, does anyone actually have a number for the gypsies, or should I just put a golden lantern on the porch or something so they know I have wares to offer them? Anyone???

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life Doesn't Always Have to Be Scary

I was raised, with the best of intentions, in fear. The purpose was to keep me safe, but at times the over-protectiveness was a bit stifling.

Cooking, for example, is a mystery to me that I just sort of stumble through because, well, we George's like to eat. But my mom never taught me to cook since she was absolutely certain I would burn the house down if I got near the stove. Luckily I can read and more or less follow a recipe, but there are times I think to myself, "shouldn't I have learned how to do this like 20 years ago?"

And I suppose my mom never taught me to sew because then I would have, you know, pricked my finger and fallen into the inevitable sleep of 100 years. Because that is what always happens when you mess with dangerous sewing needles. My aunt gave me a sewing machine a few years ago, by the way, and I've pretty much taught myself how to use it (and lived to tell!). However, the truth is I don't exactly know what I'm doing. Which is kind of sad since my mom and her sisters can sew like nobody's business.

I don't mean to pick on my mom. I was an only child. So I naturally lived in a parallel universe where danger lurked around every corner. Particularly perilous were the unassuming, "safe" seeming things; you know, like puppy dogs and parked cars. Anyone who knows my mom will be nodding in acknowledgment right about now, because I am not exaggerating. At all.

Now that I'm a parent myself, I know how absolutely terrifying it sometimes feels to let go and give my children opportunities to explore and learn, and how unnerving it can be to stand back even though they might get hurt. Last summer when Bethany wanted to ride her bike around the block, I hyperventilated a little but I let her do it. Okay, it took some convincing, but I let her do it. And I didn't follow her. (I did make her take her brother). When she asks to cook scrambled eggs or grilled cheese sandwiches, I panic slightly on the inside, but I agree - with only a minimal number of reminders to be careful. I may have been known to say something like "don't catch your hair on fire" once or twice, but geeze, that could happen.

But the thing is, I don't want my kids to live in a world of "what if?". I want them to take chances and push themselves out of their comfort zones and do things they never thought they were capable of. 

I don't want them to be afraid to LIVE

I don't want them to wait until they're living in a dorm with no clean underwear to learn how to use a washing machine. Although where's the danger there? Maybe that one had more to do with fear of material damage. Or else the drowning thing. Because you know a 2x4 could randomly fall from the ceiling, hit you in the head and knock you out cold, thereby causing you to fall head first into the washing machine, left to drown with no one around to help you. It could happen.  

A little bit of fear is a good thing. If fear keeps my kids from doing drugs or drinking and driving or going to bed without brushing their teeth, well I'm totally okay with that. Yes! Be afraid! But I guess I want them to save the fear for the big stuff. And I'll try to do the same.
(even though it's really, really hard).


Friday, January 7, 2011

Snip, Snip; Sniff, Sniff

Our baby making days are officially over. Chris bravely faced his own 
personal V-Day yesterday. He is sore but relieved, oh so very relieved. 
Not that he doesn't love being a father of four, but being a father of  
five is decidedly not on his agenda. 
As a friend pointed out to me, perhaps the anticipation of this event has 
spurred my recent melancholia concerning the rapidly passing youth of my 
little chickies. Maybe so, and I do miss the younger baby days. But I think
I'm ready to move forward, to a life that will never again include maternity 
clothes and epidurals, and that will soon no longer involve nursing and 
diapers.I will enjoy my ever expanding freedom as my kids grow more and 
more independent. Even while periodically wishing I could go back in time 
and smell that new baby scent once again, and hold their tiny little fingers, 
and kiss their delicious itty bitty ears.

In the not-too-distant horizon, I can almost see a life where all of my kids are in school, every day. Where no one needs me to wipe their bottoms or pour them some juice (as soon as I sit down to eat my already cold meal). Where I can maybe think about going back to school, or having a career, or going grocery shopping alone anytime I want to. I have to admit, it sounds kind of nice. I am looking forward to this new life, but I will also savor the moments and milestones along the way to it. I will hold their 9,7,4, and 1 year old hands, and kiss their 10,8,5, and 2 year old ears. And maybe sometimes I will still think, "what if?", but I will know in my heart that I would have lost my mind with one more baby, so it's best that we stopped with four.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm About To Enter Another Dimension

I think I must be living in the twilight zone. How else to explain that this little girl...

is going to Kindergarten this very year? I filled out the registration paperwork, gathered up the required documents, and I'll be dropping everything off at the school office tomorrow. But since time and space have no meaning, that means I can just go back to those sweet baby days  ^ any time I want to, right? Right??? 

Maybe her next birthday would be a more appropriate time to reminisce my sweet Lucy's babyhood, but...but...she's going to Kindergarten! This fall! Holy cow!

When I discovered I was expecting Lucy, my Grandma was fading from this world quickly. Although the pregnancy wasn't planned, I felt so happy and at peace with it. Of course I was happy and excited when I was pregnant with Bethany and Connor too, but my third felt different somehow. Maybe just because I was in my 30's as opposed to my 20's, or more experienced as a mother, or because I really wanted another baby but didn't quite believe it would ever happen. All I know is that when I look back at that point in my life, it was one of my most joyful times. Which is really kind of weird because my Grandma was so very sick, and I couldn't imagine my life without her in it. When she passed away, I hadn't yet learned that Lucy was going to be a girl. I wish I had known so I could have told my Grandma that her fourth great-grandchild was going to be named after her. 

I used to think, when she was in-utero, that Lucy could understand me when I talked to her.  Later in my pregnancy, when I would find myself worrying because she wasn't moving around much (hello? not much room in there), I would ask her to please move so I wouldn't worry. And she did.

When Lucy was born, the peaceful feeling continued. I decided to try nursing again, after a disastrous attempt with Bethany. I kept at it, talking myself through the horrible pain and...well I won't go into details, let's just say it was uncomfortable. But I made it through the ugly part and before too long it wasn't so hard, and I was really proud of myself for making it work this time. She was a horrible sleeper, which was a blow after having my first two champion sleeper-through-the-nighters. I seem to remember the pediatrician telling me it was about time I "got a real baby." But oddly, I didn't really mind. She slept with us and prevented me from getting a good night sleep for about 18 months. Yet somehow I was patient and enjoyed the time with her. Even before she could talk, we always kind of had a way of understanding each other. Sometimes I wonder if my Grandma came back to me in the form of a lively little sass-pot named Lucy Margaret George.

My Lucy continues to be a source of endless joy in my life, although she can sometimes be, ahem, challenging.  She skipped right past the terrible 2's, and didn't really start with the tyrannical 3's until she was thoroughly convinced Mathilda was a permanent fixture in our family. Nonetheless, Lucy is a good big sister (most of the time) and a good(ish) little sister (most of the time). She is sweet and loving and generous and cuddly and has cheeks I just want to gobble up. And I really don't know how it is possible that she is going off to Kindergarten this fall.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Keep It Simple Stupid. 

(Or the friendlier version, Keep It Simple Silly)

I like to make things complicated for myself, I think I always have. I remember when I was planning my wedding, I read in one of my six ton wedding-extravaganza magazines that the average bride-to-be tries on 8 wedding dresses before finding the perfect one. I was dumbfounded. Eight? Seriously? I went to twice that many stores and tried on countless dresses. The same with my cake. Fondant cakes were hard to come by in this area 12 years ago, but that's what I wanted (and that's what I got). Chris and I searched high and low for a bakery that could make us a fondant cake we could afford (jackpot at Christine's Pastries in Clinton Township ~ definitely some of the most yummilicious cakes EVER!). We did end up with a beautiful wedding, and my dress, well if I could think of some excuse to wear it again (in my fantasy life where it still fits me, of course) I totally would. Right now. I love it and I will be heartbroken if none of my daughters wear it someday.

When I was pregnant with Bethany, I wanted to decorate her nursery in a friendly bug and garden theme. Before Target came out with a line of friendly bug and garden kids bedroom accessories. I scoured eBay, stenciled walls with butterflies and flowers, enlisted my mom to paint clouds and a sunshine on the ceiling, and got really creative. It was fun, but would have been so much easier if I had just gone with a more popular theme.

I sometimes like things so complicated that I don't get anything done. I have a vision, but can't figure out exactly how to carry out that vision, so instead of just going the easier route, I fret and procrastinate and end up with nothing to show for anything. If I don't have time to do things thoroughly and completely the way I want them done, instead of taking a short cut or just getting the job partially finished, I don't do anything. 

There has to be a better way. I'm trying to train myself to keep things simple. Complexity is not always a selling point. Doing something the same as someone else, to save myself from figuring out a new way, does not have to be a bad thing. Someone else often knows better. Partially finishing a task might be better than not starting it at all in some cases.

Easy, simple, classic meals are okay. I don't have to think of something new to cook for dinner every night (and then when I can't think of anything, everyone eats frozen pizza or cereal instead ~ is that really better than an old stand-by recipe?).

Easy, simple, classic outfits are often just right. It's not necessary to leave the house naked because I can't find the perfect clothes, or to wear something I might not be comfortable in. (Kidding about the naked thing. Bet you were wondering.) 

Easy, simple activities are usually best for the kids. I am not a cruise director. Playing hide and seek, board games, cuddling up with movies, kid-lead arts and crafts and made-up games are more fun than contrived activities that are sometimes more work than they're worth. The great thing about this is I have four kids. My very own play group. Put them together and one of them is sure to come up with something fun to do. And I don't have to organize it. Although sometimes it's fun to plan something that requires some adult interference. Sometimes.

I already wrote about my New Year's Resolutions in my last post, but I'd like to add K.I.S.S. to that list. Actually it is more of a lifetime goal than a mere resolution for the year. I want to move toward simplicity as a way of life. More or less.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcoming 2011

Yesterday morning I woke up and it was spring! What a way to bring in the New Year! Fifty degrees and no trace of snow! Of course I do live in Michigan, so 24 hours later and it's back to the reality of winter. (boo)

Well we got through the holidays intact and I can't believe the kids are already going back to school tomorrow.  They may suffer a bit from screen withdrawal since we've been letting them turn their brains to mush at their own discretion for the past week. (Disclaimer: They've also spent tons of time with friends and family and playing with the millions of new toys in our house. So it hasn't all been a zombified wash.) But still, their heads might explode this week when they're forced to do things like reading, talking as opposed to screaming, and walking past the Wii and the PS3 without turning them on.

I've been thinking a little about New Year's resolutions. I know nobody needs a date on the calendar to tell them it's okay or an appropriate time to make life changes. But the start of the new year is symbolic of a fresh start, and after the craziness of the holidays, I am ready to re-evaluate my life and think of things I'd like to accomplish this year. Here are a few things on my mind:

  • Take better care of myself. The reality is I'm not getting any younger, and since I have no health insurance (and thus never go to the doctor unless I'm pregnant...which is SO not happening), I really need to be extra vigilant about my health. I need to eat better, take vitamins, drink more water, and get regular exercise.
  • Pamper myself a little more. I've heard tales of women who get their hair cut more than once a year...that can't possibly be true?!
  • Write more, and maybe even take a writing class or two.
  • Spend more time with my friends.
  • Send my kids outside to play until they love it and never want to come in. This is going to be a year of bike rides, pool time, picnics, digging in the dirt and maybe even playing in the snow. I'm contemplating something drastic, like no television all summer. I'm not sure any of us would make it out alive...but it might be a risk I'm willing to take.
  • Take up jogging and run a 5K. That might not seem very ambitious to some, but to me it would be a huge deal. 
  • Get caught up with Mt. Laundry and stay caught up. A daunting task with a family of 6, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
  • Create a work area for myself somewhere in my house where I can sew or whatever. One that doesn't involve the dining room table and everyone eating in the family room every time I'm in the middle of a project.
  • Learn to crochet. I've been wanting to do this forever. 
  • Take a family camping trip. It's been way too long since we've done this, and we had such a memorable experience last time. 
I am excited reading my list and thinking about what an awesome year this is going to be. I'd love to know what everyone else is planning for 2011.