25 June 2011

Getting schooled.

I have to admit, homeschooling sounds like a TON of work. It makes me so glad they're not born entering high school. I just signed up with our local homeschool support group, and I'm starting to get very excited. Seeing Claire get past the 8 week mark makes me feel like homeschooling could be one of those things I could manage again. I'm pretty sure that when we're actually doing this school thing, our "summer" vacation will be whenever the next baby arrives.

At this point I've thought very little about the mechanics of curriculum and the like. We have lots and lots of time. We're mostly just thinking it all over right now. We don't plan on doing a whole lot for another year and a half or so. . Lots and lots and lots of reading aloud, simple math and critical thinking. We'll do that. Just growing and the things they're learning in their everyday life are sufficient at this point. Right now Lucy's obsessed with "ingredients." She asks me constantly, "What ingredients are in...a phone? A car? A muffin? A person?" Kills me. Her mind is just absorbing everything right now. She wows me about 5 times a day at this point.

There are about 20 thousand reasons we want to homeschool, but I realized today that my number one reason for wanting to educate them at home is because I can't bear to part with their minds. Andrew and I (along with a loving God) created these tiny people out of deep love, and seeing their little heads turning things over, learning every day, experimenting, growing, these things drive our family and our marriage. When Lucy has these tiny epiphanies, all I can think is, "Wow. She came from nothing and is growing into such a dynamic, huge person." I just can't imagine missing all of those moments throughout the day. How can I let her give all of those amazing thoughts to a person (people) who has no idea what's made her who she is? These girls are truly a miracle, and their real worth is so valued here, with Andrew and I. Something in me tells me that by being educated by the people who so admire their growth, our girls will grow up really knowing that their minds and souls are something of great, unreplicated worth.

Blows my mind.

I'm pretty sure that life was meant to be lived like Molly's living it. 100 miles an hour, as loud as you can manage. Life with Molly is nothing but screaming mad joy. 

In care you're wondering...

...no. There is not a cuter baby in the entire world. 

The Great Outdoors, y'all.

(Ha. I just gestured vaguely across the living room and said to Andrew, "Oh hey...can you hand me...the thing?" He just sat there and stared at me until I realized I was really not asking for anything at all. Tee hee. Poor Andrew. Also, I just found a cookie crumb in my ear. No joke.)

So, I'm reading an amazing book. The kind of book that leaves you breathless and gets your mind racing. Oh, it's just so good. If you've ever stepped outside and you've ever met a child, this book's for you. So, yes. This books for you.

It's not an expensive book, but it's absolutely a must-read for anyone who once camped outside in the backyard, who ever went to summer camp, who ever played on a playground without warning signs, and anyone who's raising a child or plans to in the future.

I was raised on a farm at the base of the Olympic Mountains in front of the Pacific Ocean by a family of nature lovers. Backpacking, homesteading, camping, bird-watching, hiking, beach-combing, skiing, RVing, any variety of outdoor fun. A recipe for a perfect childhood. My childhood impacted me in such a way that when I pursued a degree in Recreation and Parks Management, it was a soul-fitting education. My studies in R&PM were so eye-opening and really connected me to all of the things that I was taught as a child. I can only hope that my own children will eventually find a course of study that pulls their early passions into something that they can study deeper and connect with. This book once again drove home the importance of knowing how and where to play in the context of fully shaping the mind and spirit of a child.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, would say that my ecstatic experiences in nature as a child are what shaped my ability to think, to find peace, to create and to connect with the world on a whole. The type of connection to the outdoors that I formed as a child is becoming a rarity among Lucy and Molly's generation. This book absolutely drove home the things that I found so soul-stirring as a child and gave me an intense desire to help shape my own girls' childhoods in a way that will connect them to the outdoors. I haven't spoken this passionately of a book in as long as I can remember. I'm almost finished with it now, and can't wait to start over on page 1 with a highlighter.

Last Child in the Woods absolutely drove home the importance of our decision to make our home in the neighborhood we've chosen. The tall trees, the lake, the golf course, the quiet solitude, the big windows, the large green lawn, the private feeling of the property, all things that our children will cherish as they grow.

Buy. This. Book. You won't be sorry, and you'll find yourself babbling about it constantly to any number of random strangers. And that, my friend, is evidence of a very good read.

24 June 2011

Vacation Bible School Quitter. That's Me.

We played hooky today, for a variety of reasons.

  • I was incredibly tired.
  • I've been having trouble getting my feet back under me since having Claire, and I needed an unscheduled morning to get some things done. After my mini-meltdown last night, Andrew was thrilled to see me take a morning off to get my head straight.
  • I had a dream about how best to get out of VBS today. And then I woke up and realized that my subconscious was trying to tell me something.
  • I started a new antibiotic a couple of days ago and sudddenly became very, very ill. Once I did the math and realized it was the meds, I figured out that I'd probably be feeling a little better by about noon today. Seriously, google "clindamycin side effects." That'll send you looking for a Savior.
  • Andrew was sick last night. Completely unrelated to my own problems, but I wanted to be here when he finally emerged from the guest room (have I mentioned we no longer share a bed?) so that I could appraise his general appearance and pep-level. (He looked pretty perky for the rough night he had, and he's back to a pretty good level of pep.)
  • Lucy has been doing VBS for three days and was no longer acting quite like herself, as all those kids were starting to rub off on her. I needed to make sure she was still in there. She was.
That's a lot of reasons, and they were all valid. And really, they couldn't possibly miss me much in the nursery, as I wasn't doing a whole heckuva lot and by not showing, I removed two children from the situation. We have our last day tomorrow, and we're all back to actually wanting to be there for it at this point.

The main point of this post is this: I'm a homemaker. This morning I could have flown out the door and come home at 2pm exhausted and crabby, put the kids down for naps and thrown together a half-hearted meal with ingredients I scrounged up after I was too tired to go groccery shopping. But as a homemaker first, I really needed to reevaluate what I was doing and why, and make the right decision to care for my family first. It was in our best interests to say no regardless of what we planned, in order to keep the peace at home and give ourselves time to take care of what needed to be done.

Okay. I'm done here.

21 June 2011

Vacation Bible School. Day 2.

Today was a day that should have killed me. As evidenced by my blogging, I so killed the day instead. We were up at 5:45, out the door at 7:30 and into VBS-land by 8. I am in the nursery for the entire week, nursing Claire and commenting on the other children. (There's not a whole lot I can contribute with a 7-week old attached to me, so I point at children who stick things in their mouths and sniff out poopy diapers as they toddle past.)

We were out of there at about 11:45 and then headed over to the House of T where Charlotte ran an errand and I hung out with 5 little girls. She was back within a couple of hours, but we stuck around until 4, since none of us really had anything to do and we had a bunch of kids who'd missed naps - nobody likes to be alone with a grumpy toddler. Best to just let them all wail in unison.

We got home and the girls ran around while I cleaned up the house - Andrew is out tonight at a profession-specific dinner with his fraternity of legal eagles, so I had big plans to watch a movie and eat peanut butter cookies. I put the girls in bed right on time and I'm STILL looking for the movie I was anticipating so much.

You need to know that I generally never lose things. When I do, I have this fit of self-examination/loathing and can't function until the entire house has been set right and I can confirm that the missing item is completely and utterly never coming back. Enter white Fossil watch. My Christmas gift from Andrew. Gone. Disappeared into the abyss of family life. In my pre-baby nesting, that puppy was outta here and I know for a fact that the likelihood of finding it after nesting is about .0001%. The Netflix movie is in a big red envelope. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and it's just not here. My only hope is that it might possibly be in Andrew's car. Why on earth it would be there, I have no idea. (As I type this I also cannot find my remote. But that seems to be a trend. I won't mention that I was also in a panic over my "missing" Nikon, which turned out to be not-so-missing. I'm assuming that the thought of losing something just sets my entire world on a weird tilt and I panic over everything. Remotes are always lost. I really don't count them.) Oh, anyway. The movie is seriously NOT HERE. Cry, cry, cry. Of course, my mother put it into perspective when she mentioned that only minutes before, I thought that my Nikon was missing and that it would be far more expensive to replace that than my $14 netflix DVD.

Okay, well, I'm done with this. Andrew is home from his golf club dinner party event thing.

20 June 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Some would say I'm late, but anyone who's ever had a newborn knows that I have until this time next year to post this, so I'm really just 364 days on time.

We had a fantastic Father's Day. Well, I think we did. I wasn't the one being celebrated, but we did our best to show Andrew how much we love him! Lucy was so excited about doing a "cwaft" for him, and she was meticulous about making sure it was kept a surprise and that the entire "cwaft" was executed perfectly and with love.
It wasn't fancy, but I blame that on Claire. My crafting time is limited by my breastfeeding, burping and laundry-doing time. In any case, Andrew's desk will be adorned with a third handprint this year, and that's a good feeling for any loving Daddy. And that fat little handprint is so cute! Dying.

Let's see. Daddy was showered with many gifts - new sunglasses and a Wii headset, windchimes from Lucy and the promise of a new boat as soon as we're moved in out at the lake. (I may be good, but surprising a boat-lover with a boat while I'm trying to buy a house and control three small people is a stretch for even the most heroic of wives.)

Any day set aside to celebrate Andrew is a great day for all of us. You'll never meet a more adored Daddy. In a house full of girls who owe him everything, you can imagine that Father's Day is a big deal. Andrew is by far the most doting, loving, silly, well-spoken and gentle papa I've met. He walks in the door at night ready to jump into our busy routine, and he never fails to greet each of us with a big smile and a kiss. He's endlessly patient, and that's important in a house full of women. He's kind, and his teasing is always gentle. He listens carefully and never answers until he has the facts. He's slow to judge and quick to forgive. He assumes the role of leader effortlessly, and somehow each of the girls (myself included) still feels like an individual who's so valued. He spends countless hours showering each girl with attention and love, and I know that their lives are so rich because of the careful love he shows.

Thank you, Andrew, for making me a mama three times over. I love that we're on this journey together, and I can't wait to see what our future holds as parents, friends and smoochin' buddies. I love you!

Happy Father's Day!

Cutest blogger in the world?

My little itty bitty wife. Just bloggin' away. Smiling to herself as she thinks of her next sentence. I smile at the sound of how fast her fingers go tick-tick-tick across that keyboard. No doubt she's sharing her never-ending wit and charm with the world. God bless this beautiful, wonderful, young soul. Even if she cannot stop thinking about Bentley! ROFL.

Let's Start with Claire.

Claire is adorable. Not only is she adorable, but she's now 7 weeks old! And what is she doing? ....pretty much the same thing she was doing about a week and a half ago. These first 12 weeks are pretty consistent, you know...sleep, eat, poop...

She's getting VERY close to smiling and is starting to show us a little more personality. At this point, I would say that Claire is a very peppy little girl. She's a pretty cheerful little observer, but I think I could also say that anyone who dares to cross Claire is endangering themselves. She goes from 0-60 in about 4 seconds and doesn't really wind up OR down. She's just wound, all the time. And that may very well change, as we really don't know much about her yet. 7 weeks old is really just 7 weeks of being on the outside. At this point, she's just staying alive, you know? Another 4 weeks or so will start to tell us more about her. At this point, we know that she's adorable, chubby and LOVES the bath tub. We put her in the tub every night for her "swim" and she just kicks around like a little fish. I hold the back of her head while she "frogs" about in the water, kicking off the sides of the tub and splashing her tiny little arms around. She'd stay in the tub all night if she could, and her sisters would probably stay just as long, watching her splash around little a little frog.

Claire's eyes appear to be turning to blue, like big sister Lucy's. She's still got bright red hair and Molly's adorable Beaker-mouth. She's much chubbier than her sisters were at this age, but I'd guess that's just because she nurses approximately 21 hours of each day. This time goes by so fast. The huge amounts of nursing can feel tedious at times, but I would say that I'm really enjoying it this time around, just knowing how quickly it passes. Every time her eyes roll back in her head and she passes out in a milky stupor, I'm so thankful that we have that time together. It's just too precious not to encourage it as long as she'll nurse. (And let's face it. The "sorry, nursing the baby!" excuse is always a fantastic way to get out of things.)

Umm....well...that's about it. I think we'll keep her. She smells too good to trade in - of course, I said the same thing about my van when we bought it last June. I'm sure as long as we continue to change Claire's oil regularly and get her detailed around the 6-month mark, we'll cherish her as much as we do our Kia. (I'm KIDDING! We always love the lowest-mileage family member the best, of course.)

19 June 2011




I was impressed when my 3-year-old caught two tiny minnows on his new fishing pole last weekend. After all, it was his first time fishing -- and mine. And it just seemed amazing that a fish of any size would actually grab onto a worm at the end of a plastic line.

The experience gave me some perspective on the news this week of a 260-pound Mekong giant catfish caught by Welsh fisherman David Kent in Thailand. The angler had baited his hook with a mere piece of sweet corn. It took him just under an hour to reel it in.

NEWS: Climate Change Threatens Mekong Species

Kent, 54, caught the freshwater fish in November at Gillhams Fishing Resorts in Krabi, on the west coast of southern Thailand. But it took until last week for the fish to be declared a world record as the largest of its species caught, in the all-tackle category.

Gillhams Fishing Resorts also produced the two previous record holders for this species, said resort owner Stuart Gillham. One, caught in 2008, weighed 184 pounds. Another, snagged in 2009, weighed 191. Gillham said there are fish in his lake that exceed 300 pounds and that he has recorded growth rates among his fish of more than 50 pounds per year.

Kent's catch, which measured more than seven feet long, was set free after its official sizing-up. Luckily for me, Thailand is a long way from Minnesota. I would hate to see my preschooler snag one that big.

Photo credit: Gillhams Fishing Resorts


17 June 2011

Today started rough.

I'll be honest. I was a mess this morning. We're back on our cash budget as most of our visitors are gone and we're about to be incredibly house-poor, so we're watching every dime until things cool off. We're okay with that. We're thrilled about the house, but things will be tight until we're on the "new" schedule of paying bills, getting things switched over, paying for all of these professionals and inspectors and surveys, etc.

I got our cash out of the bank last night and when I arrived home, an important bill was waiting in the amount of about $65. I was immediately BUMMED. I hadn't budgeted for it, I didn't want to use grocery money for it, and it needed to be paid before I forgot about it. And of course, it's the one place that only takes cash. So I spent this morning moping and whining to my mother. I'm sure she had better things to do, but we whine to our mommies forever, don't we?

I decided that I would just use my cash, pay the bills and let the chips fall where they may. It was a terrible moment for me, realizing that our date tomorrow afternoon (which never happens...) was essentially going to be a free one. I rounded up all of my chickens and put them in the car. 100 degrees. Three carseats. Dying. I called my mom as I pulled out of the driveway, because it had been about 20 minutes since I'd last whined to her. As I hung up with her, I thought, maybe some music will improve my mood. I hit the button for our favorite oldies station, and heard, "Even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with you honey..."

And I started to cry, because I knew it was once again a sign that when your perspective is off, everything can seem tragic. Oh Loggins and Messina....you rascals. I started thinking about all of those "free dates" we went on in college, sitting in the grass somewhere kissing and leaving (some) room for the Holy Spirit, laughing at people as we walked down Main Street, munching on a cheap piece of pizza while it snowed, enjoying just existing in a very small world together. And then I remembered that I found my Which Wich card last week and I'm due for a free sandwich! Sweet. So tomorrow we'll hit the antique mall and dream a little, split a free sandwich and people watch, find somewhere to kiss (I mean, isn't there always room for the Holy Spirit??) and just spend a little time enjoying all those things that brought us together in the first place. Well, except my flat tummy. You can't enjoy something that's been missing for 5 years. 

(NOT that my flat tummy was what brought us together, Mom. He didn't even know I had a belly button for three years! He just knew it looked very nice in a shirt. Yes, I dodged that one completely.)

And it turns out, I got more change back from paying my bill than I was expecting. Maybe we'll get a drink with that sandwich after all! My mood has improved so much since this morning, and I'm back on track. What's a few weeks of penny-pinching when you're staring down the barrel of your dream house?

And believe me you, if this thing doesn't go through in the end, we're going out on a not-so-free date!

13 June 2011

The Playboy Gene: Promiscuity Can Be Inherited - Discovery News


If dad was a playboy, there's a good chance that his sons and daughters will also be promiscuous, suggests a new study that identified a genetic link to such behavior.

Moral objections aside, promiscuity can benefit a species because it often results in more progeny with greater genetic diversity. There are clear risks, such as having a higher chance of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease, but the genetic predisposition to play the field appears to be locked into the DNA of socially monogamous species, including humans.

"Other research has concluded that sons of promiscuous fathers are two times more likely to cheat than others," lead author Wolfgang Forstmeier told Discovery News, adding that daughters of such fathers and mothers would also be more likely to cheat.

WIDE ANGLE: Why People Cheat

Forstmeier, a researcher in the Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, and his colleagues wondered about the genetic connection after conducting studies, such as behavioral surveys, on humans.

For this paper, published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they decided to investigate the phenomenon among zebra finches, which are also socially monogamous.

"That means a male and a female will hang out together as a couple; they will build nests together and share other forms of bonding," Forstmeier said. "They may also, however, engage in extra-pair mating behavior."

In other words, like humans do from time to time, they may cheat on their primary mates.

For the study, the scientists studied the behavior of 1,554 zebra finches from five consecutive generations. During one experiment, the researchers analyzed the DNA of some adult bird parents.

The scientists then took the eggs of those parents and placed them in the nests of other individuals. Fostering of unrelated offspring occurs naturally among these birds, but only about 15 percent of the time.

The scientists next analyzed the DNA of the offspring, comparing each young bird's genetic profile with that of the adults. The genetic analysis not only indicated birth family connections, but there was also a strong noticeable genetic correlation between both male and female measurements of extra-pair mating behavior.

The birds could not have learned this behavior from their randy parents, since foster parents raised them. They must have inherited a tendency for it.

"The study provides a good explanation for what we see in humans," Forstmeier said. "Statistics have shown that promiscuous parents are more likely to sire sons and daughters with a greater tendency to cheat."

He is quick to add, however, that promiscuity is a complex trait involving many other factors.

"Even if a person has such an internal desire, the outcome may depend on that individual's attractiveness," he explained. "Also, differences in extroversion exist, meaning that some people may be more inclined or not to act on their feelings."

NEWS: Is Online Flirting Cheating? Couples Need Own Rules

Personal experiences, education, and other more environmental influences could also help to shape the person.

It remains unclear precisely how genes may predispose an individual to play the field, but hormones must be involved. Interestingly enough, testosterone, primarily thought of as a male hormone, appears to help drive the female sexual libido, so that connection could be key.

For years, researchers have wondered why females would cheat on their mates, given that there appears to be no direct benefit, but it could be that they retain the genes in order to pass them down to their sons, or just harbor them because the trait is positively selected for in males. DNA associated with large body size and risk-taking may persist in genomes for similar reasons, Forstmeier said.

David Westneat, a University of Kentucky biologist, told Discovery News that he thinks "this is an excellent and thorough study producing some thought-provoking results. The authors did an excellent job with their methods and with appropriately interpreting their results."

"Applying this result to humans is both thought-provoking and dangerous," Westneat continued, adding that "there are many reasons to think that human behavior is influenced by many other factors. But, he concluded, the new "study does make one consider the possibility with more seriousness than before."

DISCOVERY HEALTH: Do Men And Women Cheat for Different Reasons?

You've Gotta Be Kidding Me.

I was going to blog, but now Claire is starting to stir. thanks, Claire, for always picking the perfect moment to need something.

Today, Andrew is peeved that the US would consider military action against a cyber attack. When I first heard that the Pentagon would consider a cyber attack an "act of war," I didn't even think about it the way Andrew did, which is why we're still married. Andrew says, "Seriously? We love our computers more than we value human life? I cannot wait to unplug later in life."

I suppose he does raise a good point. I'm not sure a "cyber attack" is worth killing people over. I mean, I understand that our entire infrastructure is technology-based. I get that. But haven't we been told since childhood that you never throw the first punch? I'm going to see how this develops.

In other news, I have a raging sinus infection. It makes my mood so crazy. It's hard to be chipper when your face is figuratively exploding.

12 June 2011

Raising Children in the Digital Age

I'm pretty sure you could say that my generation will be the first raising children from birth in a truly digital era. It's intimidating.
My own childhood was just barely dotted with technology. I remember my mom and Julie on the phone for hours, our extra-long phone cord wrapping around walls as my mom laughed and laughed with her best friend. We thought we hated it then, but the memory is sweet. I could always find her by her tether, and hearing her say, "No, I really need to go now" is something I now say as our own kids are wailing in the background while I talk to Julie's daughter, Katie, about the funny and tragic parts of parenting.

I remember our expansive collection of 30's, 40's and 50's movies, all on VHS. Nina and I could sit for hours watching The Thin Man, Rogers and Hammerstein, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. We really only watched very old movies and I still think we were so much the better for it. We were too busy feeding animals, 4-Hing, dancing, hiking the Olympics, hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa, traveling and really living. I remember being read aloud to until I was well into my teens. Mom and Grandma and Grandpa all believed so strongly in the power of reading aloud, and boy, did we reap the benefits! Nina and I loved listening to Grandma Susie read from The Book of Virtues, hearing Mom laugh through The Phantom Tollbooth, and thinking about our blessings as we listened to The Endless Steppe. We were immersed in the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Louisa May Allcott. What good fortune, to be raised by people who truly understood how books can transform a child's mind and heart. When I look back on my childhood, I'm so very aware that we had such a wonderful childhood. It was innocent as long as it could be, it was full of happiness and surprise and my memories of it now are hazy and comforting.

Raising kids today is different. Mama carries an iPhone, communicates via email and text, doesn't carry maps and shows blips of history on YouTube. Is that okay? I just don't know. I know that my own "village" must have had the same kinds of questions about other things as they were raising me, and I think I had a wonderful childhood and am a thriving adult. But it still doesn't calm my nerves. Is it okay to consult my phone so often? Is it okay to watch my children play as I send emails? Is it any different than bygone days when Mother would work on her correspondence? (Don't get me wrong, I do that too...is there anything better than a handwritten note arriving in the mail?) Is it okay to let them watch Nick Jr vs full-length Disney films? Should we avoid TV altogether? Is it acceptable to read aloud from a Kindle, or are real books part of the experience? Will they have any imaginations left if anything they want to see or experience can be conjured by Google?

Maybe I'm the only one who has panic attacks over these things. Do I spend far too much time worrying about the manner in which I mold our young breed, or is the world not worrying enough? (For the record, I'm pretty sure the world's not worrying enough.) I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm a young parent of young children. Maybe it's as simple as ordering The Phantom Tollbooth. It could be. Thank God we have Amazon now.

(Okay, I was done, but now I have a rant. I do try to GO to the library, but I find that they never have the books I want. I'm not looking for totally obscure books here. Maybe I'm just lazy, but Amazon is SO the way to go. I'd rather just order the darn thing than wait 3 weeks for 6 people to finish the book. By that time I forgot I even placed the hold on the book in the first place, and then I've racked up $15 in fines and can't check it out anyway. End rant.)

10 June 2011

Stream of semi-consciousness.

I'm so almost-not-conscious that I had to google how to spell "consciousness" and decided dictionary.com probably had it spelled wrong. I'm just going to let it go...I know it's been a long day when I have to look up a word spelling, because I can spell absolutely anything. I sound like a 5th grader bragging about my spelling...yes, I really am that good. I can spell.

Claire is in her Boppy snoozing next to me. Where did babies sleep before Boppies? I shudder to think they actually just slept in their cribs. No wonder my generation is so messed up...no Boppies. I also love that the word Boppy is capitalized and people actually say it out loud.

So, you REALLY wouldn't believe how many faucet pictures I sent out today. I hope that it totally takes off and peoople are like, "Oh, you never saw the faucet? I did - it was so funny! Too bad you didn't see the whole joke because we're aaaallllllways laughing about it." It'll be one of those cult things that people have heard about. I can't wait.

Andrew is on his way home from the Big City. I've been doing housewifely things for 48 hours. Sweet. I presume that most housewives don't do the dishes while their husbands are away. I have lots of friends who have traveling husbands and I hear it pretty regularly..."yep, once he's gone, I don't cook, I don't clean and I don't wear makeup." I just happened to be the idiot who said to her husband today, "Oh, I did the dishes so they'd be clean when you got home." Mostly thinking out loud. He responded with what could only be, Uhhhh....is this news? not realizing that I don't do the dishes at all while he's away. I totally fell into it and admitted I hadn't done the dishes since Wednesday. Fail. Laura + desperate phone call = failing to keep up the facade.

Oh, so, anyway, Andrew was off doing important work things. I don't really know what this means because I'm still not entirely sure what he does. Every time I ask and he explains, I go cross-eyed. So. Many. Acronyms. He's got a POE and an EEC and EKG from LET and needs a BT3 and ate a BLT and flew to NE for a 343...you get the gist. I know his job involves lots of "shalls" and "hereuntos." I also know that there are three people sharing a cube across from his desk. I can't even go into his office without a blood test, proof of citizsenship and my SAT scores. (And I didn't take the SAT...) I do know that last night he stayed at a hotel and ate dinner with TK. See? More acronyms. (Well, okay, kind of but not really. TK is a friend from college who seems to be hanging on into our adult lives. I was hoping we'd have some of those and I'm happy to report that TK is a good egg. Hi TK!)

Lucy just yelled from her bed, "Hey Mommy? I still have cake on me." I thought about this and said, "Well, where on you?" She replied, "On my ankle." Hm. Yeah...I just don't care. But I told her to grab a wipe anyway and clean off her ankle.

We had our friends over for dinner and a movie tonight - Lucy was so excited about her pizza picnic in front of Tangled with her friends! My absolute favorite moment of the night was when J walked up to me and said, "So...I ran into the wall with my cake." I asked, "Which wall?" She stares at me for a minute and says, "Your wall." Tee hee. Kids.

Oh, that reminds me of a cute Lucy-ism from yesterday. We were in the playroom playing "Animal Doctor" and Lucy said to me, "Let's play house!" I thought this sounded like a fantastic idea, as I was running out of animal maladies and Lucy doesn't know what hip dysplasia, prolapse (don't gooogle that) or hoof rot is. So I said, "Great!" Lucy started running around the room getting ready to play "House" and gave me a quick rundown of the cast of characters. She said, "Okay. You can be the mommy, I'll be the big sister, Molly will be the little sister and Claire can be the pretend new baby in our pretend family." Come again? Being the supportive and attached parent I am, I exclaimed, "That's such a creative family!" Sigh. Kids.

House inspection is done. It was a very decent and normal inspection for a house built in 1970. Now we send back our repairs and wait for Mr. Dream House to decide if he's going to fix them or risk us walking away. Blah. I'm still tracking down a ton of paperwork for our mortgage man, and Andrew is my fax-gopher. It's working well, but my brain is tired. I'm not used to do so many businessy things in one 72-hour period. I do things like...bake. Mop. Break up fights. Wipe tooshies. Scrub bathrooms. (You're right. I rarely scrub bathrooms. That reminds me that I wanted to clean my bathroom before Dreamboat gets home. That also reminds me that the bathroom is next to the bedroom, which is also in a bit of a shambles. But now it's 9pm. 9pm vs. keeping the domestic dream alive...ugh.)

I need Tylenol. But first, would you like to hear my little list of things we've come up with for house repairs and improvements? This will be strictly off the top of my head, so I may forget 15-20 bullet points.
  • Scrape ceilings - yum....popcorn!
  • Paint entire house
  • Replace carpet in bedrooms
  • Take out white railing on side porch. Maybe.
  • Replace all sliding doors with French doors.
  • Replace approximately 17 single-pane windows with double-pain awesome windows.
  • Replace 5 ceiling fans.
  • Replace master bath faucets. Or not. Giggle.
  • Remove obscene track lighting from living room and master bedroom.
  • Replace every light fixture in house.
  • Paint brass fireplace insert with black high-heat paint.
  • Move washer and dryer from kitchen (I know. Who does that?) to one of the bajillion closets in the master bath. Garage won't work. I tried.
  • Add screen doors and new flooring to back porch.
  • Add screen door to front of house. Just a cheapie that slams well. I adore that sound.
  • Paint exterior of house to something sexier than yellow.
  • Front flowerbed - new mulch, remove silk flowers and put in something....living. I have a vision of billowy sea grass, but can't find a picture. Turns out there are approximately 75,000 varieties of sea grass. (trust me, it'll match with the sexy exterior paint)
  • Landscape yard. That's a lot of yard.
  • Swing in tree.
  • Clean ductwork and repair small hole near a/c unit.
  • Figure out how to water an acre of grass without a sprinkler system. Grandpa? Are you reading this?
So, there's the short list. From memory. I'm sure the written list is ten times longer. Oy vey.

I need to go take more Tylenol. My jaw hurts and while I think it's sinus/allergies, all I can think about is my abcess and now I'm all freaked out. And here I never thought I'd actually wish for allergies. Bring 'em on!

Wow. My mind is clearly much busier than it feels.

How to tell if your kitchen floor is level.

1. Drop a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's as you approach the pantry door. Marvel at the way the lid cracks open and half the bottle immediately pours out. Whisper-scream a profanity just loud enough for your four-year-old to ask, "Was that a bad word?"

2. Notice that the syrup is rushing under the pad of your Wet Jet. Grab the Wet Jet and put it on the sink, allowing the pad to hang over the sink. Very gingerly peel the pad off and leave it in the sink.

3. Attempt to mop up half bottle of syrup, wondering why anyone would ever put items on the floor of  the pantry when there could be a syrup catastrophe at any moment.

4. Note that 5-week-old and 2-year-old are crying in unison. Maybe even harmonizing. Because it's a beautiful morning! It is now glaringly obvious that the Lord does not send angels to entertain your child, as she is never found smiling at nothingness in front of her. Lord = 1, you = 0.

5. Rinse out already-filthy-before-syrup washrag and vow to find another before Tuesday. Notice that the Wet Jet pad is almost as absorbent as a nursing pad, and we're always looking for items that are as absorbent as nursing pads. Score!

6. Yeah, the kitchen floor is not level.

09 June 2011


It turns out that I am not immune to the misery of pollen. And a breastfeeding mama, half the stuff in the house is either bad for babies or bad for my milk supply, so I'm trying to ease the pain with a little Betty Crocker. It appears to be working. She's definitely a healer, that Betty.

So, today was the house inspection. It was wildly funny, but I'm really not sure if I can post the picture that would explain why it was so hilarious. I will just TELL the story and see if it's near as funny as the actual event. You can email me for the picture if you'd like.

Okay, so here's the story. The girls and I arrived at the house this morning for the inspection to find my agent and his wife, who informed me that the inspector was inside getting started. Fantastic! My dear, dear agent says, "My wife will watch the girls while we get to work." LOVE her. So Agent Man and I head into the house to see how it's going in there. We're met by Inspector M, who is busily running around the house turning things on and off, testing outlets, etc. We start talking about the plumbing and Agent Man says, "Oh, did you notice the faucet in the master bath?" I reply, "No, why?" They drag me off to the master bath, where they begin to chat about water pressure. Apparently this faucet works okay, but the one on the other side does not. The water pressure on this one is fine, but no one adjusted the other side, so water shoots out of the faucet and across the room. I think to myself, Huh? Why would it shoot across the room when the water pours into the sink? Well. I take a look at the faucet. Suddenly I can't even think about water pressure, because the faucet I'm staring at resembles a very specific part of the male anatomy much more closely than I was prepared for.

So here I am staring quizzically at this faucet, thinking to myself, am I really the only person who wants to scream with laughter? Agent Man and Inspector M seem totally oblivious. They absolutely can't be. Inspector M says, "Well I've inspected about 1200 houses and I've never seen a faucet like this one." No. Kidding. All I can think is, I cannot believe Andrew is missing this. And everyone just carries on, while I'm literally stuck to the floor staring at the faucets, wondering how we can possibly just abandon the elephant in the room without so much as a giggle. So I take a picture. Now every time I see this picture I positively fall over, dying with laughter.

Well, it's much funnier with the picture. But my mother would be scandalized. I'm torn.

07 June 2011

Daddy Lucy & Pascal!

Room to Run

We're an adventurous family down here in Texas. We love to move, see things and experience new stuff. But as most parents finally realize, it's time to put down roots for our girls. Now we have three sweet daughters, and our oldest is at a point where she knows where she is and what we're doing.

We spent most of the Spring looking for a house. This being Texas, homes are mostly big, brick/rock and uniform. They all look alike outside, and mostly inside, too. The developments just roll across the hills, and it's been hard to imagine living in an HOA-run, cookie-cutter neighborhood. We're an eclectic couple and we enjoy making our home fun and unique. The house hunt has been frustrating and tiring, trying to find something that's really "us."

In addition to wanting a house that is unique and different, we also want a house that has plenty of room to run, that's near the water and in a neighborhood without an HOA. We want to be close to shopping, the gym, the city and several Catholic churches. This leaves a pretty tall order. I would also like mature trees surrounding the house, because shaded areas are a hot (giggle) commodity in Texas. Our home needs to feel idyllic and magical with lots of natural light and windows. If I can't imagine throwing parties and picnics in the summer, kids sledding in the winter and wide open doors in the spring, it's the wrong house. We have such a big vision of what childhood should be, and a large part of that is the home we're raising our kids in.

We thought we found that home in April, and it felt so right. A house near the water, 4 bedrooms, room to expand later, almost an acre to run and play, trees surrounding the house with lots of shade, enough natural light to never use the switches. There was a tree in the backyard with a big u-shaped branch, and I couldn't imagine how badly that tree would like a child swinging from it, just like The Giving Tree...the thought of leaving it someday was difficult, and we hadn't even bought it yet.

We put in an offer immediately and spent two weeks trying to negotiate with a very difficult seller. By the time we decided on a best and final, we were shocked when HIS best and final was actually over asking price. We were pretty bummed out to lose "our house." It was so hard walking away from the house we knew was just meant for us. We decided to call off the house hunt until the winter, so we could have a little time to welcome our new baby and get things under control again. After getting used to the idea of renting for almost another year and letting go of our little real estate dream, we got into the swing of regular life again.

We've been slowly getting small lists together of houses we'd like to see and neighborhoods we could "live with." It's hard to look for something you can live with when you've just lost the place you want to thrive in.

So imagine our surprise when the owner of our dream home returned to us last week, asking us to reconsider and resubmit our offer. As of this morning, it looks like we might actually become the owners of the house we fell in love with months ago. We're now two months out from ending our lease and the timing feels perfect. We have exactly enough in the bank to close the deal and a couple of weeks ago, Andrew was promoted to a more senior position within his company. Just as we started shopping around for a Father's Day canoe for Daddy, we were given a lake for him to use it on and a lake house in which to store it. God is so good, isn't He? Ask for a tiny canoe and He'll give you a great, big lake. Pretty peachy.

We will have lots and lots of cosmetic updates. The house was built in the 70's and it does show. But it's a sturdy, older house with lots of potential for a growing family. We can't wait to get our hands dirty again and start working on our forever home. I don't know what I'd really do in a brand-new home - I'm such a tinkerer and dreamer that I really can't keep myself from changing and improving things. We need a house that can take the wear and tear of my imagination, so we're very happy with what we've found. It's going to be a great pallette for our ideas and vision, and eventually it'll reflect the way we live - with passion, laughter and peace. This house is truly a retreat in the middle of the state we love, and we can't wait to sign those papers!

Please pray for us as we work on closing on our house; there are so many i's to dot and t 's to cross, and there are still many hurdles in the process, obviously. Nailing down the contract was crucial, but now we have many checks to put on our list before we have those keys in hand. We appreciate every good wish and prayer you send our way as we work toward home ownership in the Lone Star State!

05 June 2011

You people think I'm funny.

I can't believe the number of people who say, "I read your blog and I just laugh hysterically!"

This never fails to amuse me, because I'm not funny. I'm just brutally honest. If people spoke their minds more, this world would be a riot. That being said, please don't speak your mind to ME. I prefer to assume that you think nothing but happy thoughts and are envious of my trim waistline.

So....I've been sitting on this couch all. freaking. day. Claire loves to nurse, and she's hitting another fantastic growth spurt. It's easier to just watch the house crumble around me than it is to get away from her scary little newborn jaws. Or is she an infant now? Who knows...

Claire is going to be so hilarious when she's about 6. I know this because she doesn't hide a thing. I have to assume that I'll eventually enjoy her attitude, because right now she's about the most demanding and crabby tiny person I've ever met. The minute I sit down to do just about anything, Claire lets out this terrifying scream that brings me running. And then she eats. While she's eating, she completely fills her diaper. And it's loud, just so I know exactly what's going on. She's getting chubby and sort of looks dazed all the time, just like most newborns. She goes from cross-eyed to wall-eyed and back again, all day long, just like most newborns. And that's pretty much it.

Life around here is chaotic and exhausting. I know it's just the demands of having a newborn in the house, but not being able to keep up with the laundry and the housework and the cooking makes me incredibly edgy. I like order and routine, and babies are so Type B. Claire is still a stranger for the most part, and trying to figure her out is a little bit like looking for the Ark of the Covenant. Most of the time, it seems like I'm never going to get there. Right now she's at that point where you just don't let them cry because they're at a crucial point in developing trust and they're completely helpless. Sleep "training" isn't really something I even think about until 6-8 months, and we really just nurse on demand until then.We've started using the pacifier, which she loves a whole lot, but she's really not interested in anything but Mama. I get that. She can't see much and all she really knows is that where there's a nipple, there's a smile and a nap. But she's in my arms 24 hours a day, and I'm tired. I always think it's so funny when people ask, "Can I hold her?" Yes, you may. Until Wednesday.

It might sound like I'm losing my mind down here, but I'm so lucky to have the perspective that comes from having done this before. It'll be over soon and I'll be begging Andrew to have another one. The first time around was so difficult and Lucy was very much like Claire when she was tiny. Very demanding and not so rewarding. Without those great breastfeeding hormones, I might have jumped out a window. But it does fly by so fast. I know that deep down, but it never feels like it when you're in the thick of it. What I'm trying to say is, this is something that comes with every birth. When emotions are crazy, tensions are high and sleep is out the window, it's bound to be a recipe for disaster. I'm so lucky to have a husband who is willing to pull me aside and say, "Don't you remember this? This isn't you. We'll regroup on the other end - just survive for me." Most days, I need to hear that.

Last night Lucy was playing by herself in the living room and I could hear her singing. "How are youuuuuu ya.....How are youuuuuuuuu ya.....How are youuuuuuuuu ya!"

Howareyouya indeed. This too shall pass, faster than I'll want it to. And even with the stress of having another tiny person making demands in my direction, it's still a tiny person I'm so blessed to be feeding, dressing, cuddling and toting around in my incredibly heavy infant carrier. With each little howl she throws my way and every scary diaper I change, I'm learning a little more about her and falling in love a little more. I know she's going to be stellar, because anyone with a voice that loud probably has something important to say.

Howareyouya! God is so good, even in these trying times. I do know that this young family we're raising right now will be what we someday look back on as the very best years of our marriage. Even with a few months of newborn chaos, I know that's true. Howareyouya!

Happy One Month, Claire!