Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sorry. Again

Sorry for the long absence again.  It's been a busy, long month.  I got my substitute teaching permit!  Maybe I already told you about that.  I haven't done anything about it, though, too busy and stressed out.  We had family for Thanksgiving, my husband's parents and uncle and aunt, and it was fun and busy and awesome and tiring, and now it's Christmas time and I'm not doing so great.

Things with my mom got a bit better and now seem worse.  I finally took the step to look for a therapist.  The first one I called today got back to me at the end of the day to tell me she's not taking any more insurance patients (huh? really?!) so I made a list to call tomorrow, since apparently it's not as easy as signing up and showing up (who knew?).  I did find someone who was recommended to me by a friend who also accepts insurance, so as long as he is currently accepting patients with insurance, that will hopefully work out.  I can't go on with this, and I don't know what to do, and this lost, helpless, hopeless anxiousness has got to end.  I can't take any more guilt trips and verbal abuse.

Anyway.  I decorated for Christmas, and it was rough.  I thought the kids would be better, but they were awful.  They broke stuff, they had no patience (I should have expected that, I just didn't remember how long it would take to put the lights on the tree), they got cranky.  Turtle in particular.  It was stressful and not super fun.  And the funk I have slipped into today is weighing me down.

Life with the kids has been rough lately.  We went on vacation several weeks ago, without the kids, and Turtle started having pee accidents, and is still having them.  He seemed completely out of diapers, I wasn't even looking back, for so long ... I'm so startled to have this setback.  It's so strange, too, he doesn't pee all over himself and the floor and everything, he just pees enough to dampen his undies and his pants.  I often don't even notice until I pick him up and feel his damp pants.  I don't totally understand what's going on, I just hope it doesn't lead to a major regression.  Sigh.

Both kids are also super jealous of each other (again? or still?) when it comes to Mamma.  I can't for the life of me figure out what to do about it, and it's driving me nuts.  I DO want to start doing stuff individually with them, I think it will be a huge benefit to everyone.  Maybe that would be a good first step.

Well, it's late, and I haven't even cleaned up after dinner yet.  I'm going out to visit my mom tomorrow, and I'm dreading it as if I were going to have my teeth pulled without anesthesia.  I can't wait until I'm in the car driving home again - and I'll keep that as my cheery thought for the night while I spend the next hour cleaning up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Advice? Help? Anyone have a difficult parent or in-law?

Hi friends.  I could use some advice, counseling, a kind ear to listen, or maybe just some words of understanding.  I am in such a difficult place with my mother, and it's really hard right now.

I've written about my mother before, and I probably will again.  She is an incredibly difficult woman.  She's manipulative, controlling, melodramatic, and very egocentric.  On top of that, she is incredibly oversensitive and arrogant.  She's difficult to be around for long periods of time (well, even for short periods of time), and she's impossible to talk to about anything except what she absolutely agrees with.  She is great at dishing out opinions and criticism, but can't take even the slightest bit of disagreement or criticism herself, no matter how constructive.  Even when someone with a golden tongue seems to get through to her in the moment, the next time I talk to her, after she's had time to mull over what they've said, she's turned it all around and made herself the righteous winner and the other person the jerk.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

To make matters worse, she doesn't eat well or take care of herself physically, and is in extremely poor physical health, which makes her believe everyone owes it to her to come over and take care of anything and everything - cleaning litter boxes, basic housecleaning, big projects - you name it, she believes someone else should do it.

My brother and sister-in-law moved away primarily to get away from her.  All of her friends are ten years older than she is and just as opinionated and difficult as she is (I don't know how they all get along!).  She was an only child, my father passed away 8 years ago, her parents are both gone, and she is basically estranged from most of her extended family, none of whom live anywhere nearby in any case.  So she has attached herself to me, and now especially my children, digging in her fingernails as hard as she can for fear of being set adrift.  Unfortunately, the neediness is really starting to get me down, since I have two 3-year-olds who legitimately need me.  The tighter she squeezes, the more I feel like I'm being strangled.

I could go on and on.  I could tell you stories of how she would buy gifts for me to give my friends for Christmas when I was in high school, and she'd wrap them first so even I wouldn't know what they were (?!?!).  How when I got my first bank account with an ATM card before leaving for college, she watched me enter my pin, then announced in the car that she knew what my secret code was - like she wanted to make SURE that I knew she was the one in control.  How when I worked at a movie theater for a summer during college and an old high school friend asked if she and her mom could come to a free movie, my mother told me she would never speak to me again if I allowed it, since she didn't like my friend's mom.  How she was so angry after my half-sister didn't come to my father's funeral (it's a long complicated story with a lot of misunderstandings), she asked my husband to not allow my sister to visit his family in Italy when she took a European trip YEARS LATER.

Every once in a while, my mom goes on a depressive binge and calls me constantly (well, even more constantly than usual), saying that she doesn't know if she'll make it another day, etc. etc. (I've heard it all before), and sometimes, like now, she accuses me of keeping my kids from her (when I don't want to visit more than once a week) and says that the kids are the only thing that makes her happy.  She says a lot of other accusatory things as well.  And trust me, I DO know that her problems and unhappiness are not my fault, but the constant bombardment is just getting me down (she called 5 times today, and that is relatively tame).

When my husband and I were first dating, she left a note that seemed suspiciously like a suicide note (it was vague enough that it could be interpreted in other ways, she later claimed she was just leaving to go on vacation) and disappeared, so my brother called the police, who caught up with her at my dad's nursing home and took her for psychiatric evaluation.  They let her go a few hours later, according to her because nothing was wrong with her.  I was terrified my now-husband would drop me like a hot potato after seeing the crazy he was marrying into.  My mom has seen a psychologist, too, who apparently (according to her, I've never spoken to him) says that there is nothing wrong with her, but that the real problem is her children.  I don't doubt that she has some depression, but I can't stand the way she uses it, threatening suicide when she doesn't get her way or when she feels like she's not getting enough attention, but then claiming nothing is wrong when I say she needs psychiatric help.

Basically, I'm tired of dealing with an extra toddler.  (Like I just said to my husband, if I had a dollar for every time my mother has said she has a big favor to ask of me, well, he could quit his job).

I just don't know what to do anymore.  I dread spending time with her, I dread talking on the phone with her.  It's impossible to have a reasonable conversation since I disagree with almost everything that comes out of her mouth, but she takes my silence as acceptance.  If I don't answer the phone, she calls again and again and again, but she refuses to leave a message with any real information about why she's calling.  I'm so tired of dealing with it all, and I feel like it's never going to stop.  I'm tempted to move farther away just so I don't have to keep making up excuses to not visit.

And here's the thing, all the reasonable-sounding things you'll suggest won't work.  She cannot be changed, this I know, and there is no way to talk to her rationally about any of this.  Trust me, I've tried, and many people in my life who originally advocated trying to work things out with her have admitted defeat.  It's more like how do I train myself to handle it better?  I would love, in some ways, to just cut her out of my life, but I don't think my conscience can handle it, so what else can I do?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Still dreaming, wishing for a third

I am having a bit of a rough week, although I am not feeling too down about it, surprisingly.  I had some bad coughing fits earlier this week which seems to have caused some rib pain - muscle spasms?  Not sure.  It hurts to cough, and it hurts to lie on my right side.  I'm also having insomnia.  Again.  The rib pain makes it worse, so I took ny.quil last night, but while that helps with the coughing, pain, and insomnia, it makes me super groggy in the morning, and I sleep in when I should really be getting up and doing stuff.

Anyway.  A friend of mine went through infertility around the same time as I did (had an actual diagnosis of MFI) and went through 3 IUIs before conceiving naturally during a break cycle right before starting IVF.  Her daughter is a few months younger than my kids, she turned 3 in September.  My friend just had baby #2 last week, and I went to see him today.  He was precious, beautiful.  I was there for hours and didn't hear him cry.  I asked my friend to tell me all the crappy stuff, to remind me of the bad things, too, so I wouldn't want another baby so badly, but nothing she said sounded that bad to me.

My friend had her tubes tied, so she knows she's not having more kids, and she said that this time she's relaxed and enjoying it.  She lets him nap on her, sits for hours holding him, doesn't worry if the house is messy.  She looks wonderful.  She had an emergency c-section the first time (just like me), so she opted not to try for a VBAC but instead had a scheduled c-section again, and seems to be handling the recovery just fine.

It sounds like the biggest problem is her first child, her daughter, who is having regression and jealousy issues and has become really difficult to handle.  My friend said they've been trying really hard to give her attention and not have her feel left out but I guess it's not working that well.  I can totally understand, though - my kids are both three, and they are already super jealous of each other.  I can't even imagine having a baby right now, they would be horrified.

And yet, I can't help wanting one.  Just one more.  A family of five.  Another little one to hold and cuddle and snuggle, to watch grow up with his or her brother and sister.  I am so incredibly happy and blessed with my two sweetie pies, I know I wouldn't be heartbroken not to have another, not even close.  But that doesn't stop me from wanting another one anyway ... sigh.

P.S. I've mentioned it before, and I'm mentioning it again - I would not do fertility treatments again.  If I were to have another one, it would have to happen naturally.  So who knows if there's even a chance, anyway?

Monday, November 4, 2013

November goals

1. Bike more when the weather permits.  And my physical health.
2. Go to the gym!  Any weekday that I don't exercise at home (i.e. run in the greenbelt). 
3. Get the paperwork under control.  Clean out and organize the file drawers.
4. Finish up winter garden.  All that's left at this point is to plant turnips, carrots, beets, and radishes.  And broccoli, but that will take 5 minutes.  I'll have to clean out the rest of the summer garden more slowly.
5. No St.arb.ucks.  Pee.ts once a week at most.  It's to be considered a treat.  Tea and coffee at home are fine.  Still needs work.
6. Try to lose 5 pounds by Thanksgiving?
7. Get to bed at 10, lights out at 10:30 on weeknights.  Exceptions on Sundays if we are hanging out with friends.
8. Sunday family evening - movie with the kids, and talk about the week ahead with hubby.
9. Get lunches packed for the kids at night.  No excuses.
10. Clean out my closet - not the clothes (although I might do that soon), but all the other random stuff stored in there.
11. Combine this blog with my other blog and port it to a better site - working on it hopefully with my husband's help.
12. Hopefully work on some crafting.  Primarily, I need to make the kids' sleeping bags.  A few other small projects before Thanksgiving would be nice.
13. Practice piano once a week.
14. Get trundle situation in Tadpole's room fixed - I have a frame that goes with the beds, and I did get a foam mattress, but I need some sort of box-spring-like support for it.  Will try to get either plywood or pegboard cut to size and nail it on there.
15. Clean out Turtle's closet
16. Take loads of stuff to thrift store.
17. Clean out kids toys, get rid of obsolete stuff, package up some other stuff, organize in general.
18. Order Christmas cards
19. Order TURKEY!
20. Try to do one load of laundry per day (as necessary) instead of letting it all pile up until it's overwhelming.

I'll probably need to add to this, but it's a good start.

October goals? Yikes

OMG, I don't think I did very well here.  There's a LOT of red. Let's see:

1. Bike more when the weather permits.  And my physical health. - Nope!  Almost nothing!
2. Run - this one is temporarily on hold for a week because of hip pain and I'm experimenting to see if I can get it to go away.  But started next week, I hope to run 2-3 times per week. - Nope again!  Dang hip pain.
3. Go to the gym!  Any weekday that I don't exercise at home (i.e. run in the greenbelt).  I just joined this morning and I'm going this afternoon for a swim.  Yay! - Yes!  Did a pretty good job with this one.
4. Get the paperwork under control.  Clean out and organize the file drawers. - Nope!  Dang it!
5. Get summer garden pulled out and fall/winter garden planted.  I've already gotten started, not too much more to do! - Yes!  I'm almost done with this.
6. No St.arb.ucks.  Pee.ts once a week at most.  It's to be considered a treat.  Tea and coffee at home are fine.  I'm doing pretty well with this one so far. - Let's say yes!  I wasn't perfect, but I was MUCH better.
7. I'm trying to lose 10 pounds by Thanksgiving, so 5 pounds during the month of October.  My husband lent our scale to a friend, so I will have to weigh myself at the gym today to get a starting weight. - Nope!  Haven't lost a pound.
8. Get to bed at 10, lights out at 10:30 on weeknights.  Exceptions on Sundays if we are hanging out with friends. - Gah!  Nope!
9. Get lunches packed for the kids at night.  No excuses. - This one was a sorta.  Still needs work.
10. Clean out my closet - not the clothes (although I might do that soon), but all the other random stuff stored in there. - Nope!
11. Clean out the garage - this may go to November, because the garage is actually pretty clean, but I am storing a ton of stuff that I don't even know what it is and I can probably get rid of.  But sorting through it all is going to be slow work, not a half-day job, so I need to be realistic about it. - Nope!
12. Get my substitute teaching application mailed off - still need to find my CBEST scores and get fingerprinted. - YES!  Thank goodness, I did something on this list.
13. Start volunteering at our local Shriner's hospital for children - mailed the application today! - Still waiting to hear from them =(
14. Combine this blog with my other blog and port it to a better site - working on it hopefully with my husband's help. - Nope!
15. Hopefully work on some crafting.  A couple small projects at least.  This will probably require getting a bit more organized. - Another maybe.  Still needs a lot of work.
16. Practice piano once a week. - Nope!
17. Get the kids' Halloween costumes together.  Tadpole wants to be a pink fairy, and Turtle wants to be a firefighter.  I think.  I'm not so sure about him.  He wants to be something red, because he likes fire trucks.  He's a bit wishy washy about what that actually means, though. - YES.  Thank goodness.  Since Halloween has come and gone.

MAN, I was not good this month.  To be fair, we were sick.  A lot.  And it sucked.  And the kids were therefore home from school a lot.  So I didn't have much time.

Luckily, I have some motivation to get some of this stuff done this month because my in-laws and an aunt and uncle are coming from Italy for Thanksgiving!  Yay!  I have lots of cleaning and organizing to do, not to mention the usual Thanksgiving planning since I am typically the one who hosts and cooks and cleans.  So whew, a lot to do.  I'm going to get my November goals up shortly ...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!!!!!

This is the first Halloween that the kids have been excited about, the first they picked out their own costumes, and the first that we're taking them trick-or-treating.  This morning at preschool we had a parade and went trick-or-treating to the offices across the street.  Tadpole was not really into it.  She refused to talk to anyone, refused to say "Trick-or-treat" and "Thank you", and in general just eyed everyone suspiciously.  Turtle was all about it.  He made up for Tadpole silence by shouting "TRICK OR TREAT!!!!!!" at the top of his lungs.  At one point, he got confused between "Happy Halloween" and "Trick or Treat", and starting saying "HAPPY TRICK OR TREAT!"  It was ridiculously cute.

Here are a few pics.  First up - one of the best close-ups I could get:

And a decent view of the costumes.  Here, Turtle is doing his signature "pull-up-his-pants" move, AND his signature "stick-out-his-tongue-while-concentrating" move.  He is constantly terrified his pants will fall down.  I'm thinking of getting him suspenders to stop him from hiking them up under his armpits.

Nice group pic!  But no one is smiling.

Fireman and fairy from the back.  Cuteness. 

 Turtle saying cheese, Tadpole doing what she did all morning- a suspicious sideways glance. 

Last, we went to the gym across the street where they take swim lessons, so here's a pic with their swim teacher, who they love more than anyone except maybe Mamma.

Well, Happy Halloween, everyone!  Here's to not overdosing on candy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Still .... sick ....

Oops.  I wrote that last post and then never hit publish.  Sorry about that.

We have all settled into out nasty little cold, but the kids seem mostly over it.  Thank goodness.  As for me, it has settled in my sinuses, and is causing me terrible sinus pain.  I'm not sure at what point I should go to the doctor.  Last night I slept 10 hours, causing us all to sleep in (I'm the family alarm clock normally), resulting in a rushed, difficult morning.  And now I'm at home at a bit of a loss about what to do with myself, while the kids are in school, because I'm lethargic and leaning over hurts so bad that it's hard to do anything.  I'm not sure if I'll go to the gym, either.

Just found out that not only are my in-laws considering visiting us for Thanksgiving, but also possibly my husband's aunt and uncle, too, so we might have a house-full.  A fun house-full, though! Although we may not be able to invite all the local people I thought might be possibilities (most of whom are actually Italian) for lack of space but also to keep the English-speaking company a slightly larger minority.  I hope we can get a final head count pretty soon so I can order a turkey - I can't believe it's almost that time of year!

On other fronts - I haven't lost any weight (was hoping to lose 5 pounds by a trip we have coming up in 3 weeks, but I'm doubting it's going to happen), and with all this sickness, going to the gym is still hit or miss.  My garden is almost completely planted for fall/winter, finally.  Still need to get some broccoli and onion starts, and plant more turnips, beets, and carrots, but otherwise we are looking good!  I do have some stuff to get out of the ground, still, too but I am waiting for a day that I feel better and the weather is better.

I'm reading a fantastic book called The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.  I'm really enjoying it a lot, although I haven't finished it so I can't give a final thumbs up or down just yet.  But it is an intriguing, well-written book that is totally captivating my attention.

In the meantime, I have a hugely long to-do list of crafting projects, cleaning projects, and organizing projects, none of which ever seem to happen.  I'm doing a very loose-meal-planning theme in which we have a soup night, a pasta night, and a rice night every week.  Most of those include vegetables or salad, and the other nights, we might have meat or a variety of other vegetables.  Tonight we are having carrots sauteed with garlic and split pea soup, which is already smelling fantastic bubbling away on the stove.

I hope by the next time I write that I am feeling better and have things a bit more under control around here.  Maybe by Halloween!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sick and tired

Oh my goodness.  SEND HELP!!!  We are still sick.  It has been such a rough time.  Last Monday Turtle was diagnosed with croup and prescribed prednisolone syrup - friends, that is AWFUL stuff.  I couldn't get it down him without him gagging it back up.  Luckily the two doses I managed to get into his stomach seemed to help with the inflammation and his croupy cough went away.  The fever stayed for both kids, though, so we went back to the doctor on Wednesday, the fifth day of the fever.  The doctor was convinced it was viral, and asked me to check in on Friday if they were still sick.  By Friday, the fever was minimal, although a nice runny-nosed coughing cold had settled in for the weekend (and beyond!).

In the meantime, we enjoyed a fun time with friends at a huge local pumpkin patch, complete with mini-corn maze, hay bale maze, giant hay bale pyramid, a corn pit, and cool bikes, trikes, and quadricycles to ride around.  Neat.  On Monday, we went to ANOTHER pumpkin patch, Turtle LOVED all the tractors.  He spent the whole time climbing up and down on each tractor, trying out each lever and button and switch to see if he could get the tractor going so he could drive it, his tongue hanging absent-mindedly out of his mouth.  He tends to stick out his tongue when he's really concentrating, which is darn cute.  Tadpole spent most of the day crying.  OMG, she was cranky.  Sooooooo cranky.  She cried over every little thing, all day long.  I almost lost my mind.

Tuesday they went to preschool, still coughing and snotty but otherwise fine.  But at lunchtime today, the preschool called to say Tadpole had a fever.  Again.  After 6 days of fever last week.  Sigh.  They were sweet enough to let her take her nap there so I could get some stuff done before picking her up (thank goodness, after them being home all last week, I am WAY behind on housework), but when I showed up at 2:30, her fever was 104.  Not that you would know it, she was out in the yard running around with friends.

I called the doctor and managed to get in right away for an appointment, and what do you know.  Both ears look bad, despite her not complaining about any ear pain.  So finally, 12 days into this rotten experiment in illness, we have an antibiotic.  I am, like my doctor, not excited about using antibiotics unless they are necessary (and unlike my mother, who thinks an antibiotic is good for any and every minor cold that comes along).  But I think we've reached the point of needing it, and I am happy that it is an option.  Whew.

Well, since I also have caught this same nasty little bug, I am going to go take some nyquil and hit the hay.  Good night, blogland.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Hi friends.  We've had a couple sick kids here the last few days.  Tadpole's been managing quite well, but poor Turtle has a horrible cough and fever and his breathing sounds awful, so we're going to the pediatrician to see if he might have bronchitis or croup.

I am not going to finish all my October goals for sure, but I am feeling happy that I've managed to do a few of them!  It's good to have a list to look at, to keep me motivated.

I joined the gym and I've been swimming a few times.  I also took advantage of my free personal training appointment, and that backfired badly.  I was so sore for four or five days that I couldn't go to the gym, couldn't work in the garden, could barely walk.  It was a good wake-up call for how out of shape I am, but it was tough to lose so many days of productivity.  Now with the kids sick, I am probably not going to the gym for at least another two days, and I'm not sure I am ready to go for a jog yet (but maybe it's time to give it a try and see if the hip pain is gone), so it will be more than a week without working out.  So much for that goal!  I need to figure out how to challenge myself at weight-lifting without repeating the last week, because I was really non-functional, and as a very involved Mamma and keeper of my home and garden, I can't be physically incapacitated for days at a time.

I have been working on crafts, though!  It's been so much fun.  I made Tadpole a fairy skirt, and I made three magic wands (an extra for one of their friends).  I will post pictures at some point.  I've also been finally doing a bit of cooking.  Yesterday I made up a recipe for an absolutely delicious and easy savory pumpkin (or winter squash) soup.  I want to try making it again soon with a few additions.  Now that the weather is cold, I'm happy to eat soup every night.  I'm not sure my family agrees, though.

I sent off my substitute teaching permit application, but it looks like they are several months behind in processing, so I doubt I will be able to try teaching until after the New Year.  Which is fine, I've got a lot going on right now.  

I'm doing great not drinking coffee.  Weight loss is not going on at all, but I am getting a bit better at being more mindful of what I'm eating.  I'm not sure that losing those 5 pounds by the end of the month is realistic at this point, but I really need to make a much more serious effort.  My pants are just uncomfortably tight, and I don't want to buy a whole new wardrobe over 5-10 extra pounds.  We are going on a really expensive weekend vacation mid-November with a few friends, which will involve beautiful scenery, staying in a fancy tree-house at a resort (so excited!!!!), eating at exceptional restaurants, and perhaps enjoying hot tubs on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  I want my clothes to fit by then, and I want to feel better about myself, so I'm giving myself the next month to work really hard and have the vacation be my reward.

Speaking of weight loss - if anyone has read this far - how do you measure?  My home scale seems really inaccurate, and my weight fluctuates 3-5 pounds depending on the time of day and various other factors.  Just before lunch now I weigh 3 pounds less than I did yesterday afternoon, but I know I didn't lose 3 pounds in less than 24 hours.

Anyway, today, besides taking Turtle to the doctor, I need to clean up the house a bit, fold laundry, chop and freeze the last tomatoes from the garden, and make a nice dinner.  Doesn't sound too bad - hopefully I get it all done.  Which means it's time to get moving.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October Goals

Well, I need to get this out there, somehow.  So here we go!

1. Bike more when the weather permits.  And my physical health.
2. Run - this one is temporarily on hold for a week because of hip pain and I'm experimenting to see if I can get it to go away.  But started next week, I hope to run 2-3 times per week
3. Go to the gym!  Any weekday that I don't exercise at home (i.e. run in the greenbelt).  I just joined this morning and I'm going this afternoon for a swim.  Yay!
4. Get the paperwork under control.  Clean out and organize the file drawers.
5. Get summer garden pulled out and fall/winter garden planted.  I've already gotten started, not too much more to do!
6. No St.arb.ucks.  Pee.ts once a week at most.  It's to be considered a treat.  Tea and coffee at home are fine.  I'm doing pretty well with this one so far.
7. I'm trying to lose 10 pounds by Thanksgiving, so 5 pounds during the month of October.  My husband lent our scale to a friend, so I will have to weigh myself at the gym today to get a starting weight.
8. Get to bed at 10, lights out at 10:30 on weeknights.  Exceptions on Sundays if we are hanging out with friends.
9. Get lunches packed for the kids at night.  No excuses.
10. Clean out my closet - not the clothes (although I might do that soon), but all the other random stuff stored in there.
11. Clean out the garage - this may go to November, because the garage is actually pretty clean, but I am storing a ton of stuff that I don't even know what it is and I can probably get rid of.  But sorting through it all is going to be slow work, not a half-day job, so I need to be realistic about it.
12. Get my substitute teaching application mailed off - still need to find my CBEST scores and get fingerprinted.
13. Start volunteering at our local Shriner's hospital for children - mailed the application today!
14. Combine this blog with my other blog and port it to a better site - working on it hopefully with my husband's help.
15. Hopefully work on some crafting.  A couple small projects at least.  This will probably require getting a bit more organized.
16. Practice piano once a week.
17. Get the kids' Halloween costumes together.  Tadpole wants to be a pink fairy, and Turtle wants to be a firefighter.  I think.  I'm not so sure about him.  He wants to be something red, because he likes fire trucks.  He's a bit wishy washy about what that actually means, though.

Whew, that's a lot!  And I've got exactly 4 weeks to get it done, so please wish me luck.

Do you have goals for October?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Toddler misbehavior and quotes

I wish I had more to write, but I don't, really.  Life is busy.  I started running again and my hip started aching and I'm not sure what to do about it.  I'm going to go join the gym one day this week (maybe tomorrow!) so I can start swimming and spinning, and try to skimp on running for a week and see if that helps.

I just put up IKEA lights in Tadpole's room the other day.  The IKEA website isn't working right now, but they are the pink flower and green beetle wall lamps, with the switch on the cord.  I stupidly hung them above the head of her bed, where she can easily reach them without getting out of bed.  So now she turns them on and plays after she goes to bed.  It seems to be mostly role-playing in which her bigger frog is the mamma and the di.sney frog that she takes everywhere is the baby.  Since it's bright in there, I can watch her from the doorway, and it's sooooooo cute.  The other night, though, she was up until like 10:30, and I kept going to the door and whispering "TADPOLE!" and she'd jump and turn and look at me, then put her head down on her pillow and cuddle her frogs like she was going to sleep.  Then I stayed there to watch one time, and after like 5 seconds, she picked her head back up and looked over at the doorway to see if I was still there.  So we have bedtime issues all around, now.

Today, we went to visit my mom, which entailed going out to lunch at a rather fancy Mexican restaurant, riding on a small train, and doing a bit of shopping.  My mom has been training Tadpole to say "I'm gorgeous" and Turtle to say "I'm adorable".  Which I think is kind of obnoxious, but well, that's my mom.  If I put a stop to all her obnoxious behavior, we would have an even worse relationship than we already do.  Anyway.  Tadpole started saying "I'm the gorgeous and you're the dorble!", but then she decided to switch it and say "I'm the dorble and YOU'RE the gorgeous!" (they're still more fluent in Italian than English, and those aren't English words they already know). That made Turtle very mad, which I think was Tadpole's goal.  She likes making him mad.  So then they started arguing in English about which one was the dorble.  Then Turtle said that Tadpole was brutta (it's a way of saying mean or bad).  I said that we don't say that about others, and he started shouting "YES YOU ARE!" and she started shouting "NO I'M NOT ARE!"  Maybe you had to be there, but it was really funny.  Like I said, their English is still lagging a bit behind (but catching up quick!).

The other day, Tadpole also told me several times that she was doing yogurt with her feet.  And I couldn't figure out what she was talking about.  And then she did downward facing dog.

I just wanted to get a few of these funny little things they do down on "paper", because otherwise, I will forget, and it's so so so cute.  But now it's getting late.  My 5pm self was really kind to my 9pm self and went ahead and packed the kids' lunches, and since we ate leftovers for dinner, cleanup wasn't too bad, so now I can probably just about go to bed.  Good night!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Labor Day camping trip - Mammoth! Tufa towers! Lots of fun!

It was a lovely weekend!  We went camping!  In the Mammoth Lakes area!  And it was really awesome and a great time was had by all.  We drove in on Friday, leaving just after lunch so the kids could nap in the car.  The first half of the drive was lovely!  The second half was awful, due to thick smoke from the Rim Fire.  After a few hours of driving in smoke, and getting closer and closer to our campground with no end in sight, we started making alternative plans in case camping wasn't going to be an option.  Luckily, about 15-20 minutes before arriving, the smoke cleared up and we drove in the twilight up an abandoned-seeming road to one of the most beautiful campgrounds I've been to in the US.

We hiked in a gorgeous mountain valley.  We canoed around a beautiful mountain lake and then played for a long while at the beach there.  We tried to go to a bluegrass festival, but they upped the prices for tickets not bought ahead of time, and the festival didn't look at that cool, so instead we rode the Mammoth gondola (the kids loved it) and hung out in the Village.  We stopped at Mono Lake.  We drove home through the smoke.  The only real bummer is that the combination of campfire smoke and huge wildfire smoke really irritated my eyes, and after a doctor's visit this morning, I am confined to glasses for a week.  Which is worse because in their irritated state, they're super sensitive to the sun, but I don't have prescription sunglasses.  Boo.

Here are a few cute pics taken by my sister and her boyfriend:

Turtle getting dirty at camp - this is just the beginning.  It got a lot dirtier than this:

Tadpole posing at camp, near the bear box:

Pausing to smile for a photo while climbing on rocks, their favorite camping pursuit:

Drumming around the campfire in the evening.  This was an activity they came up with all on their own, and they sang loudly to go along with it.  It was pretty funny.  Especially when Tadpole kept shouting at her father to "stop breaking my song!"  We're not really sure what she meant by that:

Sitting on a log barrier at Mono Lake

Tadpole posing among the tufa towers.  Mono Lake is a very cool place.

All's well that ends well, I suppose, as long as my eyes get back to normal in the next few days, I guess.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cycling Mammas and kiddos

I have been wanting to get back to cycling regularly.  I stopped (again) because I was helping my mom pack every day, which required a 45-minute drive to where she lives.  So I would drop off the kids at school with the car, and then head out to my mom's house.  The kids got out of the habit of biking, and so did I.  I live in one of the most bicycle-friendly towns in the US, and I spent years commuting to work and doing all my errands by bike, so it's been really frustrating for me to spend so much time driving.

I've been inspired by a few things to start biking again, one of them being a book I read In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist, by Pete Jordan.  I really enjoyed this book, although the organizational structure of the chapters was sometimes a bit confusing and incoherent.  That's because it was partly, but not exactly, chronological, especially since it mixed the author's story with the history of cycling in Amsterdam, and therefore shuttled back and forth a lot between past and present, and didn't always stay chronological in the present, either.  Like I said, a bit confusing.  But still really good, and really inspiring about how cities could be planned a lot better in the US.  I was also surprised by the amount of anti-bicycling sentiment there has been at various points of time, even in a city that is known world-wide for cycling and the cycling lifestyle.

The last few days, I've been working on getting the kids back into the bike trailer, but it's not the easiest proposition.  Part of it is that they're outgrowing it.  For the moment, they still fit, but it's getting tight.  For some reason, I thought they'd get too tall for it, but elbow room is actually the current issue.  It's a bit squished in there, and they like to read while biking, which is even more of a problem.  So I'm looking into other options.  My husband is against my ideas, saying I won't bike enough and it will just be more stuff sitting around in our garage.  I get what he's saying, but I hope to prove him wrong.

My idea right now is to get a cargo bike - the type I'm looking at has an extended rear frame with a platform that kids (or adults!) can sit on and that saddlebags and cargo can be strapped to.  There are two brands I'm interested in: the Xtracycle and the Yuba Bikes Mundo.  They both have child seats that can be attached, and safety bar attachments as well, but all the attachments start getting expensive, and I'm not sure how long we'd use them.  I discovered that children under 4 need to be in a seat or a trailer, and I'm also not sure about using this bike in the rain (which the trailer can handle), so my current tentative plan is to try to use the trailer through the winter, rack up as many miles as possible, and then reconsider in the spring after the rainy season.  And then, we'll see ... I hope I can surprise both my husband and myself and make cycling a major part of my lifestyle again.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nice times in Davis

It's been a nice weekend!  Friday night we got a babysitter, the kids' swim teacher, and it went so well!  It's the first time Turtle didn't cry when we left.  We went out for happy hour/dinner, and then to a bluegrass concert with a bunch of people and it was really fun.  Although it was a late night, for me at least.

Saturday, we ate at our local food cooperative after doing our grocery shopping there, and met some friends for lunch who moved out of town but were back for the day to take care of their house.  Then we came home and I cooked all afternoon.  I made Soupe de Poissons , stuffed eggplant a la bonifaciene, and almond flan with chestnuts (just FYI, all my recipes are from a cookbook I bought in Corsica, the ones I linked to are just the best (or only) ones I can find online).  We had friends over for a really nice dinner on the patio, the kids played, we enjoyed a pastis aperitivo, and after dinner we sipped genepy around the firepit.  It was a nice relaxing evening, and I even had time to mostly clean the kitchen, so I didn't wake up to a huge mess the next morning.

The next morning, I called some friends to see if they wanted to get bagels, and they already had some at home, so I biked over there with the kids in the trailer and left my husband at home for a morning alone to do whatever he wanted (he slept and then worked).  We spent the day puttering around the house, letting the kids bike in the yard, attending to chores, and just generally lazing about.  While the kids were napping, my husband proposed taking the kids to see their first movie, so after they got up, we explained the concept of a movie theater, had a quick dinner out, and went to see Planes.  They actually did really well for a little over an hour, then they really lost their ability to sit still.  Luckily there was almost no one in the theater, because Turtle is not capable of speaking quietly.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I'm not sure I would recommend the movie - it was a bit long and boring for the littles, and I suspect doesn't have enough of an original plot for older kids, but I don't know.  It was a good first movie, in general.

And today!  We biked to swim practice, then downtown for a bagel sandwich for lunch, across to the square for some ice cream, to city hall to pay our utility bill that was due today (oopsie), and now home to get ready for a nap.  Goodness, three-year-olds like to visit public restrooms - we went to the bathroom at every one of those places except the ice cream place.  I'm a single mom tonight, so I hope the rest of the afternoon and evening goes well, too.  Almost time for a nap!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Big kids!

Yesterday I worked my butt off getting big kid beds set up for the kids while they were in school.  I had to disassemble the cribs and cart them out.  They're in our living room right now, I need to move them into the garage in the hopes that a friend and/or my sister will be needing them in the next year or so.  Then I brought in the pieces of the new beds.  They are solid wood bunk beds that my brother had in his room when he was a kid, but I have them set up as two separate twin beds.  It took three trips to the hardware store to get all the hardware I needed, since we had lost it in the last 20 years.

I also took a trip to IKEA for bed slats, mattresses, and mattress covers and a trip to Target for bedding sets, since we have basically nothing for twin-size beds.  Then home to assemble everything!  I also had to rearrange the furniture in Tadpole's room, since the bed would not fit where I had imagined it.  Turtle had asked for a red bed, but nothing at Target was really red except just solid red sheets, which I got as a back-up set, but I wanted something a bit more exciting for his regular bedding.

Here are the photos of the rooms and the kids ... they were SO excited!

Tadpole saying "CHEEEEEESE!"

Both kids taking a photo in Tadpole's bed

A couple views of Tadpole's new bed - I love her room

Now we've migrated to Turtle's room - he is a happy little kid

And a couple pics of his new bed and his room:

Their rooms are so nice and comfy and cozy now.  I never bought any special bedding for their baby rooms - it was all so expensive and I knew we wouldn't use the comforters and quilts etc.  Everything they had was mismatched and purchased second hand or on clearance, and I didn't mind at all.  I actually found quite a bit of cute stuff.  But now I know they will use this stuff for years, and they actually care more now, so I was totally ok with getting the matching bedding sets.

Turtle has been sleeping on the futon in his room since we got back from Italy at the end of February, so I put a pool noodle under his fitted sheet and he had no problems.  I was really worried about Tadpole, who has only spent a few nights out of her crib and generally falls out of bed whenever she does.  I used a pool noodle in her bed, too, and put a comforter and a quilt on the floor next to her bed.  Luckily, no falling out last night!  I'm not sure how I'll know when it's time to get rid of the noodle, though!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Addiction and withdrawal

This post is not about me, although perhaps I am a bit addicted to chocolate and decaf coffee.  No, this post is about Tadpole, who has been addicted to her pacifier since she was a wee little thing.

When Tadpole was little, I believed (and possibly still do) that being dependent on a pacifier was better than sucking one's thumb, because a pacifier could at some point be taken away, while a thumb is there more or less forever.  I felt like even though we were probably creating a future problem by allowing heavy pacifier use, we were at least creating a problem that had a viable solution, and so I went on with my life with that unhappy future day looming over my head, but still, always in the future.

Until here we were, Tadpole is over three years old, and still had her pacifier.  She didn't use it at preschool, but otherwise she had a pacifier with her almost all the time.  Let me rephrase that, actually - she had TWO pacifiers with her at all times.

Honestly, I didn't really have a problem allowing her to keep her pacifier until she decided to give it up on her own, assuming that she decided to give it up at a reasonable age (say, before 5 or 6).  Unfortunately, two other problems developed.  First, she started chewing on her pacifiers, and that was awfully hard on them.  Pieces started breaking off.  She wasn't even getting suction as far as I could tell (so much for the plan to cut holes in them - she basically did that herself, and it didn't bother her in the least).  We threw a bunch away and warned her that any new pacifier that got chewed on would meet the same fate, but that didn't stop her at all.

The second problem was essentially her downfall - she kept leaving her pacifiers lying around (or she would actively hide them), and then have no idea where they were.  That drove me absolutely crazy - I can't tell you how much time I spent looking for pacifiers with a wailing, distressed child who could not remember where she put the dang things even if her life depended on it (and let me tell you, from her point of view, it did).

Last Friday morning, we left for my mom's house and I vaguely remembered that she left the house while eating a snack and I meant to run in and grab some pacifiers, but alas, with all the last-minute things, I forgot.  She spent the whole day without pacifiers, which was sort of ok until the drive home, and then she wailed for the entire 45 minutes.  When we got here, I went to look for her pacifiers to put her down for a late nap, and could not find a single one.  I looked all over the house, which had been cleaned that day (by the professional cleaners, which meant it had also been thoroughly straightened by me, so there wasn't stuff lying all over the place as usual).  ZERO pacifiers.

So.  We decided it was time, cold turkey.  She'd spent the whole day without and skipped her nap, so she'd be nice and tired and probably sleep through the night.  My husband bought a few backups in case things got really bad, but it went ok.  She slept all night, and was definitely sad about the pacifier situation all weekend, but I managed to distract her each time, plus it was a busy, crazy, fun weekend so it went mostly ok.  She even got on skype and told her grandparents in Italy that thieves had stolen her pacifiers (I'm not totally sure where she got that story, but I'm ok with it).

And then ... today ... OMG.  She woke up from her nap wailing and weeping and gnashing her teeth, my little daughter who always wakes with a smile.  Tears ran down her face and she rubbed her eyes and her runny nose and most especially her mouth.  She rolled on the floor and flailed her arms and legs and threw herself back down every time I picked her up.  It seemed like she was going through a really strong physical withdrawal - she kept pulling at her lips and rubbing the back of her hand across her teeth and tongue and wiping her face on the couch (causing lots of brown lint to stick to her face, which was covered in snot from her runny nose).  It took me about 45 minutes to calm her down, the first half of which she didn't even want me near her.  It was rough.  I've actually never seen her like that, and I'm a little bit worried about her having an addictive personality (maybe I should talk to the doctor at her 3-year appointment this week?).

During this time, I called my husband and asked him to come home from work early (it was only about 14 minutes early, really).  Tadpole finally calmed down with a graham cracker snack, and we explained that her pacifiers were all lost and that she was a big girl and didn't need anymore.  We also have been playing up the fact that she's going to get a big girl bed (hopefully tomorrow, if I can get the right size bolts and get to IKEA to get a mattress and some sheets and then get the cribs taken apart and the beds put together for both kids in time).  So ... I hope this was the worst of it.  I am crossing my fingers, because I hate seeing her like that, but I just know it's for the best.

On a side note, it is SO sad taking apart my little ones' cribs.  I just want to cry.  Sometime I wish I could have another one.  Sigh.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Potty foibles

I didn't want to bribe my kids to get them to use the potty.  I felt that it was something that was a normal part of life, that they'd be doing for the rest of their lives (or at least until they're in diapers again when they're old), and you shouldn't be bribed for doing something that is an everyday, normal thing.  I also just don't want them to start expecting a bribe anytime they do anything I ask them to do.  Or throwing a tantrum if they don't get a treat any time they do something they're supposed to.  I can't even tell you how hard it is sometimes when Turtle is throwing a fit and I just want to say "PLEASE, just get in the car and I'll give you a cookie when we get home".  It would make my life SO MUCH EASIER.  But I don't do it.  Because I know what will happen.

But anyway, after months of leaving potties around and asking a million times if they wanted to go potty and getting no results whatsoever, we let them run around naked a lot earlier this summer.  Turtle figured out pretty quick when he needed to pee, but he still didn't want to use the potty and started fighting us when we asked him to wear underwear.  The final straw was when he started asking for a diaper just so he could poop in it.  Which I know, it's not abnormal to do that.  But I wasn't sure if, with the right incentive, he could easily make the switch to the potty.  I figured that by offering a cookie, he would take to using the potty if that's what he really wanted, and if he really didn't, he could give up the cookie, and no big loss.

So, we introduced a small cookie for peeing and a big cookie for pooping.  With Turtle, it's worked great.  He almost never has any accidents.  We use diapers for naptime and overnight, which is fine.  He also switched to using the toilet instead of his little potty, with no special attachments, almost immediately.  Tadpole is another story.  She continues to have accidents, sometimes several per day.  She's not as motivated by sweets, which is also ok.  She's getting it, in her own time.

One side effect to the cookie reward is that Turtle often wants cookies more often than he is able to produce anything, and that is frustrating to him.  It hasn't gotten out of hand yet, but when he needs to pee, he'll often declare he needs to poop, too, in the hopes of getting a bigger cookie.  The other day, we were at the table and he said to me "Mama!  I have to pee!!!!" and we rushed down the hallway to the bathroom.  On the way there, I heard him talking to himself, saying "I'm going to poop, and then I'll get a BIG cookie!"

He sat on the potty, and said "First, I'm going to pee", and he did.  Then he said "Now I'm going to poop, so I'll get a BIG cookie!", and he tried.  And tried.  And I started getting a bit concerned, so I asked him if he really needed to poop or not.  And finally he looked a bit disappointed and said "Fine.  I guess I'll just have a little cookie", and gave a big sigh as he hopped off the toilet.  I could barely contain my laughter.

(Just FYI, I do plan to mention to the doctor his over-willingness to try to poop in exchange for a cookie at their 3-year appointment next week).

(Also, all the dialogue was actually in Italian, I just translated it into English).

Monday, August 12, 2013


My mom moved last week.  It was such a huge effort.  The last two weeks were pure hell.  We had 2 or 3 charity pick-ups (I've lost track), two trash pick-ups, and countless hours packing, sorting, and cleaning (we found THREE dead mice in the garage).  I ended up spending the night on Wednesday before the movers came, totally unexpectedly, since we were still packing up until shortly past midnight and then up at 5:45 the next morning, luckily since the movers showed up at 6:30 instead of 8 as confirmed.  After spending the night in the same clothes I'd worn for two days and putting my contact in two cups of water because I had nothing with me, my mom's cat bit my finger when I tried to get him in the carrier to spend moving day at the vet, so I had to go get antibiotics.  Then the movers did a crappy job, so my sister and I spent Friday loading up cars and transporting stuff to the new place.  We forgot a few things.  Nothing important, I really hope.  We were supposed to be out at 5pm on Friday, and I drove away with the last load at 5:30, just as the new buyers were pulling up.  The cleaners were still there - 20 years of never cleaning your house can have a brutal impact.

I have such mixed emotions.  I'm happy my mom is in a more manageable place, but I'm worried that she still won't be able to manage it - the cleaning, the organizing, the finances.  She's extremely irresponsible.  I'm angry at my mother for having her priorities so screwed up that she couldn't keep the dream house she and my father built together, due almost entirely to her irresponsibility.  On the other hand, it was way too HUGE for one person to live there, even if they could afford it.  I am angry that all the work fell on me, that I nagged and badgered for weeks to start packing, and that she never did a thing unless it was under my direct supervision, which led to these last few weeks of horrible screaming fights and stress for everyone.  And then I feel so sad for her.  She's like a child, all alone, no husband, no parents, no kids because she's driven them away, and few friends.  It's just a rough situation.

I'm also just sad for myself.  I have so many memories in that house.  My dad built the gazebo, and my husband and I were married in it.  The master bedroom has old etched glass windows that were in my grandparents' house in Pittsburgh, PA, and which my mom moved with her everywhere until installing them in her dream house in such a way that you'd have to destroy the walls to get them out.  It had a beautiful library with built-in bookshelves and an oak ceiling, my favorite room in the house, and I'll miss it so much.  But things look good in general - my mom's new neighbors seem awfully nice, and she has one friend who already lived in her new neighborhood.

So anyway.  I have my life back.  I'm so happy to spend more time with my kids again.  I'll write about them soon!  More time for my garden, I hope.  I'm taking the CBEST and will look into substitute teaching this fall, to see if I like teaching.  After I ran my last half-marathon in mid-July, I think I've laced up my shoes only once or twice, so it's time to get back to exercise, too.  And baking bread and cooking yummy fall meals.  I'm looking forward to a visit to our local Apple Hill (on a weekday, weekends are nuts up there in the fall).  And more crafting time, too.  I have so many projects in mind, mostly sewing, either quilted items or kids' clothing, but other stuff, too.  We'll be setting the kids up with real beds soon.  If I can get some good projects going, I might sell some stuff on etsy, too.  I have lots of ideas going on right now, and it's nice to be able to consider them again!  On the other hand, my house is also full of stuff I took from my mom, so I know I have quite a few days of sorting, organizing, re-packing, and getting rid of stuff in my future.

In the next couple weeks, look for me to be posting regularly again.  I hope.  There's still a lot to do around here, but life feels pretty sweet right now.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Life, out of control

Life is getting away from me.  The kids turned 3.  It was wonderful.  They are wonderful, and difficult and beautiful and challenging and the most amazing people I've ever known.  They're taking swim lessons, and Tadpole can swim!  She's awesome!  Turtle is capable, but too scared, which is ok.

They speak fluent Italian, and are improving their English every day.  They play together a lot.  They fight a lot, too.  We've been camping with them a couple times.  It's been fun, and we're learning more about how to make it work each time.  I'm in the process of planning a big camping trip at the end of the summer.  I'm very excited.

What else is going on?

- Turtle is potty training, pretty much on his own.  It's really nice.  Tadpole doesn't really get it yet, and that's ok.

- I informed the Waldorf school that the kids won't be attending.  It almost broke my heart, I LOVE that school, but I think it's best for the kids not to have more changes in their lives.  I still meant to write about that.  The gist of it is that they've adapted well to their current school, they're making friends, they're happy to go, they have some good programs (like swimming and soccer), and I don't think it's worth the upheaval of moving them at this point.

- I ran another half-marathon.  I felt good about it.  I haven't had time or energy to run since, though (see below)

- I have lots and lots and LOTS of projects I want to work on.  I hope to have time starting soon.

- I plan to move both kids to their own real beds in the next month.  I want to get the Kura bed from IKEA and paint/decorate/hack it somehow.  I'm very excited.

- My garden is doing great.  I don't have enough time for it, though.  I'm doing the best I can.

- I'm working on future career plans.  Slowly.  Again, see below.  I'm too busy right now, but I'm laying the groundwork for what I hope will be a career change.  And an actual career when the kids go to real school.

I'm spending all my free time, and have been for the last two months, helping my mom sell her house and now packing her stuff.  She has a 6000 square foot house and is a pack-rat.  It's been a lot of work.  Like a part-time job.  She lives 45 minutes away, so it's a long commute to my part-time job, too.  It's exhausting.  My brother finally showed up, fit as much of his stuff as he could into a full-size moving truck, left what my mom has said is a HUGE mess (I haven't been out there to see it yet), and is gone.  He is also a pack-rat.  Luckily, I was expecting him to both not be able to fit all his stuff and to leave a huge mess, so he pretty much met my expectations.

Now I'm trying to set up movers, people to haul junk away, a garage sale, a piano mover (I'm taking our old childhood piano, very excited about that), consignment store for all the extra furniture and nice stuff, cleaners, and more.  I have also cleaned out a ridiculously full garage (not done yet), and the attic, and the giant library, and brought boxes and boxes of stuff back to my house.  Not to mention e-waste to the dump.  Let me tell you.  I'm exhausted.  EXHAUSTED.  I desperately need a vacation.

Hence my absence.  Again.  I hope to do better.  I like blogging and writing, and want to get back to it.  So here's my list of excuses, and I hope to see you all soon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Notes and scribbles from my disorganized mind

We're having some insane weather here in the Sacramento Valley, very strange for the end of June.  It's cold and rainy.  I am LOVING it.  I missed winter here - I spent it in Italy in the freezing snowy Alps (which was awesome for winter), but then we came straight back to California spring.  I thought I would go an entire year without rain, so I've been so psyched for these rogue rain storms that have passed through the last couple months.  Not to mention after hot weather, the cooling rain and beautiful wet earth smell is so uplifting and refreshing.  I love cool mornings in warm pajamas with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Like I mentioned in my last email, life is a bit crazy here.  Luckily, the kids are in preschool three days per week, or I couldn't manage.  I am working part time for my husband's company, which is not a ton of work, but it's a lot of responsibility, and it weighs on me pretty heavily.  I am just getting started trying to move my mom out of her 6000 square foot house, which she has lived in for the last 20 years, and where my brother has left a ton of stuff over those 20 years and is not showing much intention to come get any of it.  My mom is also a packrat.  Oh, and she also doesn't really do anything when I am not there.  She thinks I am going to handle it all.  And she gives me a ton of sh!t when I am there about how I'm not doing enough for her.  She makes me completely crazy.  She has been a bit of an anchor around my neck lately.

So yeah.  I'm spending every bit of free time I have doing crafting.  I know it's crazy.  I have made Tadpole a skirt, which we both love.  Also lots of napkins, which I love.  And a few other little things, like a few pillow covers.  My big upcoming project is a window-seat cushion.  The custom-ordered foam arrived yesterday, and I have the fabric, I just need the zipper now.  I will probably start cutting fabric sometime this week.  If I get a chance.  I'll post pics when I'm done!  I'm also making some outdoor pillows for our benches in our yard.

My exercise is really going by the wayside, which is really bad considering that I have a half-marathon coming up in just a few weeks.  I'm finding that I only have time for one or two things that I want for myself, and when I'm working on crafting, I can't really find time to exercise.  I wish I could find more balance.

To top things off, Turtle is sleeping really badly.  Going to bed late, waking up early, and waking multiple times during the night.  I wish we could fix this, but I'm not sure how.  I know for sure we've developed a lot of bad habits - late bedtimes (but he still stays up really late in bed regardless of what time we put him to bed), too many sweets, not enough good habits like cleaning up after oneself and staying at the table.  Having two kids going through the difficult stages at the same time is exhausting.

My husband invited a business acquaintance and his family to dinner last night.  He told me that they had four kids.  So imagine my surprise when they arrived and I saw four boys come in.  And then a girl.  I thought, ah, well, he didn't realize they had 5 kids.  Then I counted again, and there were 6!  SIX kids, between the ages of 3 and 9.  And about an hour later, another older girl showed up, who I figured out after a while was the nanny (no one introduced us).  And then my husband mentioned that he had invited his two coworkers.  So we went from having a dinner for 10 to a dinner for 15.  Can I just say that I felt like I had been run over by a bus?

I always wanted a big family, and I somewhat knew it was a reaction to having such a small family and no extended family when I was a kid.  I wanted the big family holidays and family reunions and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and I had basically none of that.  But now, I'm not so sure.  I've been yearning for a third child, and in some ways I still want that, but I looked at these people with their nanny and wondered how much time they spent with each child.  How they managed doctors and dentists and school and activities, and meals and getting around town and traveling and running errands and all the LAUNDRY.  And cooking!  And washing dishes!  They had most of their kids only one year apart, so I wonder how much they got to really treasure each child before the next one came along.  I feel like we had a tough road having twins, but I am grateful that with only two of them, I get to spend a lot of quality time with them.  I don't think I'd want a nanny to manage my kids, even though I'm often frustrated by the jealousy and fighting and limit-pushing and daily boredom that can come with spending so much time with 2-year-olds.

Anyway.  I'm off shortly to my mom's house to go look at smaller houses for her to buy.  I hope it goes well, but I'm really nervous.  I'm especially nervous to show up there after not having been there for 4 days and finding that as usual she has not only not packed a thing, but her kitchen is a mess with dirty dishes and there is trash everywhere.  I'm not sure I can handle it.  How does one handle an aging relative who refuses to admit that she's aging if you suggest assisted living, yet expects you to help her with every tiny little responsibility because she can't manage anything herself?  I'm really at the end of my rope here, and will probably be writing a lot about this in the next month or two.  I'm just trying to remember that it will all work out somehow, or as my good friend says, "This too shall pass".

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Questions and quick update ...

I have so many posts I want to write!  But this is going to be a real quick one, with just a couple questions.

1. This question is especially for those of you with boy-girl twins, but I would love feedback and opinions from anyone.  My kids definitely have their own distinct personalities, and society is clearly having an impact on them choosing "girl" toys and "boy" toys to some degree, but when they are not around other kids, they tend to play together.  In addition to "girl" toys, Tadpole plays with cars and trucks, and vice versa - Turtle plays with cars and trucks in addition to dolls and the toy kitchen.  Tadpole's favorite toys tend to be her stroller and stuffed animals, and Turtle's favorite toys tend to be his trucks, but for the most part they both play with everything.  They each have a couple special toys that are their own, but share everything else.  But they're definitely starting to claim toys more and more - this is MINE, and that is YOURS.  I'm struggling now that I'm starting to buy toys that are more "gendered" because I DO want them to have things that are special to each of them, but not to stereotype them as much as possible.  For their birthdays, I'm getting Tadpole a cute little stuffed frog because she loves stuffed animals and especially frogs, and I also got her the IKEA bath set, which I'm expecting her to share for their role-playing games.  For Turtle, I want to get a fancier set of blocks (like this one, maybe), but I want him to share it, so I feel like I have to get him something just for him, maybe another truck or something.

I know bigger issues are coming.  We went to a store with cool wooden toys the other day, and they both loved playing with the (very gender-neutral) wooden dollhouses.  (Why is a dollhouse a girls' toy anyway?  Don't men live in houses?)  They're expensive.  I don't want to buy more than one.  I'm considering getting it for Christmas, but who do I give it to?

So my question is ... how do you handle this?  Who gets what?  How much do they share and how much should I let them have their own toys?   I think it's a bit more complicated because they have their own rooms, so any shared toys have to stay in the living room.

BTW, their big birthday present was a sandbox that I still have to post photos of, and their grandmother is getting them bicycles, so if it sounded above like we did a good job not overdoing it, I'm not so sure ...

2. Kind of random question - my husband and I are right-handed, although he has lefties on both sides of his family.  I don't know of any lefties in mine, but I don't know my extended family that well, so I've never noticed.  Turtle and Tadpole are both lefties.  That seems awfully improbable.  How weird is that?  Also, one of my brother-in-law's two daughters is a leftie, so my in-laws have three out of four grandchildren who are left-handed, and they are both righties.  I'm just pointing it out because it seems so odd!  Cool, but weird!

Hope you are all having a good weekend.  We are about to have some unseasonable cloudy cool weather, and I am LOVING it!  One thing I don't like about where we live is the boring, two-season weather - hot and sunny all summer, rainy and cool (but never cold enough to snow) for a relatively short winter.  I'd love a bit more rain and all-around slightly cooler temps, so I'm really enjoying this variety!

I'm up early to sew, a hobby that's really catching on around here.  I'll have to do another post with photos of my recent crafting, and to catch up on life in general.  It's been awfully busy here - my mom sold her house and is in the process of me packing her up while she does nothing, my kids are in swim lessons and summer preschool, and I'm just trying to hold it all together for everyone - crazy crazy times!  And our first camping trip coming up, and my garden is doing great, and the kids' third birthday is coming up, too!  Lots to talk about, soon!