Wednesday, July 31, 2013

But My Caboodle IS Pretty Awesome, Actually.

Some days you notice something that confirms your status as a parent so obviously, so quintessentially, that you have to chuckle.  Putting my jewelry away at the end of the night last night was just such a moment for me:


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There’s my dresser, complete with bottles of girly toiletries, Batman mask, Japanese action toy, and monster truck.  You just can’t mistake my house for anything other than the house of little boys.


Speaking of jewelry, though, I am in search of a good jewelry box, hopefully not too expensive (do you want to know what “not too expensive” means to me, when talking jewelry boxes? $100 give or take) and one which will house my myriad rings, necklaces, and bracelets.  I already have an earring organizer, but the tangles of necklaces are starting to frustrate me.  I really like this wall-mounted armoire:




It’s only $99 at, but the reviews are pretty terrible.  For one thing, it’s MDF.  For another, the drawers don’t have backstops, and that seems like a situation fraught with risk, especially when the reach of little hands in my house is growing longer every day.


But still, I like drawers and hanging-spots, as well as that lovely little shelf for perfume or whatever.


I should probably own up to the fact that I currently use a pink, purple, and teal Caboodle from the early 90s to organize my makeup.  Once again, I am totally at the forefront of modern style.


So here are questions: how do you organize your jewelry?  What kind of box/armoire do you have?  Do you like it?  How big is it (I’m terrible with spatial reasoning, so when I see dimensions of 17” x 11” x 4”, I have no idea if that will hold all my jewelry or not)?  Any other advice on jewelry organization?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Am Not A Fashion Blogger

Two cautions: read this post for the spirit in which it was intended, which is that I looked good these days, and I’m sort of widening my style choices to include more accessories; and my yard is a disaster, which is what happens when you have two boy-children and a dog who like to leave their toys everywhere.  And why shouldn’t they?  Summer is for playing in the yard.


Summer is also for skirts or dresses, if you’re me.  I do own some shorts, but my hips are wide and curvy, so shorts look, um, funny on me.  I always look either a bit like a hobo or a prostitute in shorts because they are either baggy and loose on the waist in order fit my hips or too tight and short and giving you far too much information about my lady parts.  I have culled my wardrobe of the latter, but held on to two pairs of the former because, well, summer.  It’s 85 degrees and sometimes I wear shorts regardless of how funny they look.


The other thing about summer is that it is so warm that I usually change after work into my shorts and tank tops or just a bathing suit (people come over and I’m in my bikini, letting my mom-body all hang out, like “what?  This is totally appropriate!”  It’s not.), so my photographer is either Charles or me.


See if you can guess which is which.


I wore this big scarf as a belt the other day, and while it is a touch too long, I felt like it dressed up a pretty simple outfit:


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Jamie’s room is the location of the only full-length mirror in the house.  And his curtains are, you guessed it, green.  The dress, however, is white.  I only had one “bridal” remark during the day, but the rest of the feedback was positive.  Plus, cute shoes you can’t see here and turquoise jewelry!


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The dress is from Dress Barn, home of things that look terrible on the hanger but great on a person.  The shoes are Payless.  The sandals in the top photos are also Payless.  I have no idea where I got the scarf, but the skirt is likely Fred Meyer and I think the tank top is Old Navy.  I am such a classy shopper, right?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Camping and Other Disasters

Should there come a time when I camp with the boys alone in the near future, I will take the smaller tent.  We will all three sleep together on the air mattress in a big two-sleeping-bags-made-into-one-sleeping-bag and then someone (whose name starts with J) will not wake up in the middle of the night and refuse to sleep for two solid hours.


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Who, me?     


I’d like to pretend that the lack of sleep didn’t ruin my whole day, but it sorta did.


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Yum, pancakes!


We had a wonderful family picnic (aren’t reunions great?  This family has been having one for over fifty years, reuniting my grandmother and her seven siblings, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and probably some great-great-grandchildren by now!), but the pall of a screaming toddler trying to wake the whole campground between 3:30 and 5:30 am on Sunday was hard to shake off.


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Charles got to swim in the lake (there were no warnings of Goose Poop Bacteria this year, yippee!), we went for a run/bike ride, and there were so many marshmallows consumed it’s a wonder my children could unstick their lips (I am currently reaping the benefits of leftover s’mores chocolate).


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Jamie wanted to ride, too.


I love camping, but there were mishaps and miscommunications.  A raspberry cobbler that I made on Friday, it’s mouth-watering scent perfuming my house for the afternoon, was ruined in the cooler.  Breaking camp was harder than I could have imagined with that giant tent and having to lift everything to the pod on top of my car:


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Will you just look at that thing?  It’s absurd!


and then I had to unpack everything at home alone.  Jamie is testing his “Terrible Two” muscle with frequent tantrums over not getting his way, and Charles… well, Charles went the whole weekend without a potty accident, only to backslide on Sunday afternoon.  An episode that ended with him dropping a toothpick flag on the disgusting, wet floor of the lakeside State Park bathroom and then freaking out because I wouldn’t let him keep it.  He kicked and screamed and when I threw him over my shoulder to haul him back to the car, he bit me.  Both kids slept through the awful traffic until almost Everett, at which point they were hungry for dinner and I knew they would not get to sleep at a decent hour that night.  Indeed, I plonked them both in their beds after fighting their tantrums about teeth and pajamas and books and sleep until 9 pm and took a shower. 


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Everything is terrible!  He’s crying because he wants a third fruit snack pouch and I said no.


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Good thing he’s cute.


Tony arrived home shortly thereafter and had his only interaction with the kids since Friday (and he was gone when they woke this morning) and I am sorry to say that it was negative, involving getting both of the kids back in bed, or, in Charles’s case, to sleep on the floor because in an act of defiance, he had ripped all of the bedding off of his bed.  That kid knows how to party.


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Charles learned how to light matches for the fire and cookstove.  God help me.


I was clean.  There was laundry in the washer and dryer.  I poured myself a glass of wine and grabbed a couple of forks to share some of the leftover family reunion chocolate cake with Tony.  But the night was not over, no.  I thought I had better get all the cold packs from the cooler back in the freezer (what good are they if they’re not cold, right?) and that’s when I discovered that the big, upright freezer in our garage had failed over the weekend.  We lost almost everything.  We spent the rest of the night cleaning it out.  I poured my glass of wine down the drain and slept like the dead.


I almost want to go camping again right away just to prove to myself that it can be better.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Looking Forward to Smelling Terrible by Sunday

We’ve had this camping trip scheduled for months – years, really, since it is a family reunion that happens on the same weekend each year – and now it looks like Tony won’t go.  Or maybe he will, he hasn’t called me yet today to confirm plans.  Last week, Tony’s dad was hit by a car on his motorcycle.  He survived, in seemingly good condition, but now he has an infection and can’t work the weekend and the office is having trouble finding anyone to run the charter fishing trips.  It’s been a rough couple of weeks for my in-laws.  This is the second motorcycle accident my father has had recently, the first being when his brakes failed and pitched him over the handlebars at about 20 miles per hour.  And then, when we were just waking up from our two-hour nap the first day of Ragnar, Tony got a text from his mom that she had been in a car accident.  Prayers for my extended family’s health and well-being are greatly appreciated.


Thank goodness, though, the threat of not going camping this weekend seems to have been just the motivation Charles needed.  No accidents yesterday and I am keeping my fingers crossed for today.


Still, setting up a tent and managing my imps alone in the semi-wilderness of a state park doesn’t sound like much fun to me.  Especially since our tent is bigger than our living room.  Seriously.  It was a steal at Costco a couple of years ago, and we love it, but it is not so easy to put up and damn near impossible to do so alone.  My parents will be there to help, and hopefully some of my second cousins or cousins-once-removed, but still.  All that tent, just for me and the two boys?  Let’s face it, they’ll probably both end up in bed with me before midnight.


I wish we could camp more often, but there’s just too much going on.  I think next year that I will shoot for one weekend each month to camp.  The food cooked on the campfire and the smell of bug spray mixed with sunscreen mixed with wood smoke mixed with sweat is just, well, not nearly as disgusting as it sounds.  It’s a true break for me because there aren’t dishes or laundry to do, and damn it all, I love s’mores.  Gooey, chocolately, terrible-for-you s’mores and, well, shit, you might as well char me up a hot dog over that fire while you’re at it.  It’s the one time a year hot dogs taste good to me.


Do you camp?  With kids?  What do you take with you?  My kids each have a lantern and glow sticks, and we’re taking Charles’s bicycle this year.  We have a little picnic table and plenty of food, of course.  Charles has a sleeping bag, but Jamie does not.  I have a white noise app on my phone that I’ll use to get them to sleep before I do, because one thing I always make sure to pack is booze for after-kid-bedtime.  Wine in a solo cup and s’mores around the campfire is ten bajillion times better than drinking wine from a real glass and eating nutella with a spoon on the couch. 


Don’t tell my I’m the only one who does that.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Gross Life

In many ways, this has been the best summer I can remember.  Both of my children are old enough to enjoy being outdoors and playing, and they play really well with each other right now.  The weather is perfect: too hot for me, but warm enough that we are in the kiddie pool and on the slip n slide every day.


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We cook outside and we eat outside, which means I don’t have to wipe down the table as often.  There are fresh fruits and vegetables every week in the farm box and my garden is growing in amazingly well this year (my black thumb has faded a bit to grayish-green, I guess).


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We’re also getting shit done, you know?  The roofers come in ten days, I have been painting the trim on our house, we’re finally paying money to have our carpets professionally cleaned (hoo, boy, do they need it!), and I’m working on a bathroom remodel that, bit by little bit, is progressing.


But you know what’s not progressing right now?  In fact, someone is actually regressing, and it’s casting a pall over our summer days.  Charles.  It’s Charles.  And I hate to think that someday he’ll read about all this and be totally embarrassed, but eh, it hasn’t stopped me before.  And more than anything, I could use some reassurance that we’re doing the right thing and maybe that we’re not alone.


About a month ago, Charles started having poop accidents.  He’s always had pee accidents, and I’ve always attributed it to being a boy and waiting too long – and that’s exactly what it’s always been: he doesn’t even really realize that he has to pee until he’s leaked and it’s a total emergency.  One thing summer has been great for is that I let him pee in the flower beds (what!?  It’s good for them!) and since that is novel, he tends to pay attention more and go when he needs to.  But the pooping, my God.


He’s not constipated, we’ve ruled that out.  And for the past two years, he’s told us when he has to go and has then gone on the toilet, no accidents, not even a smear.  Oh, sure, he has trouble with wiping and often gets poop all over his hands, which he then wipes on the bathroom wall, but that’s a different issue altogether.


(Are you laughing at my troubles, mom?  Because cleaning poop off of the walls is not funny.  Not funny at all.)


But now, now, he has a full-blown, smelly, disgusting accident in his underwear almost every day.  It’s not ALL the poop… no, that kid’s intestines are voluminous, and he routinely fills the toilet immediately following our “sniff, sniff… Charles!  Go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW!” but it’s enough to be disgusting and require a clothing change and yet another lecture/beating of my head against the wall (not one of the poop-coated ones, though).


We have tried: a sticker chart with ultimate reward after so many stickers (he wants a Transformer); a reward for a “clean” day (a video or game on my phone); a small reward (candy) when he goes poop on the potty and not in his pants; setting a schedule and making him go every afternoon whether he claims to need to or not; and just last night, consequences for pooping in his pants.  Pretty harsh ones, too.


Of course, I know that I shouldn’t “punish” him or shame him for these issues, and I don’t, of course.  We don’t talk about it in front of his friends and I don’t get down on him.  I tell him I’m disappointed when he poops in his pants but I tell him I still love him always will, and when he is clean, I tell him I am proud of him.  But he’s not getting it.  So last night, Tony and I told him that unless he could go today and tomorrow without pooping in his pants, ONLY pooping in the potty, then he could not go camping with us and Grandma and Grandpa this weekend. 


Camping is a Big Fucking Deal to Charles.  He will be devastated if he cannot go, but I don’t know what else to do.  He has to understand that pooping in his pants is a Big Fucking Deal to me.  And can you even imagine cleaning up an accident while camping?  *shudder*


And lest you think there is some unresolved psychological issue, we are working on that, too.  I can’t fully rule it out, but we have talked with his teachers and the director of the preschool.  We have talked with Charles about the things that make him sad, happy, worried, and scared.  Everything seems to be just as it was two months ago.  I’m stumped as to the cause of this backsliding into incontinence.  Is he just too excited about summer activities to want to take a break to go poop? 


Shit.  Literally.  Mama needs a drink.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Let’s Do It Again! TOMORROW!

Runners are crazy, there’s no two ways about it.  And I can now count myself firmly in the category of “runner.”


Ragnar was amazing, and if you have ever thought about doing a race like this, I highly encourage you.  It was a challenge, to be sure, but not an insurmountable one, and I’ll tell you what: by hour 30 and your third running leg, EVERYTHING is hilarious.  I haven’t felt that giddy since college when I was… hmm… sleep-deprived and hanging out with a bunch of other sleep-deprived nutjobs.  Yeah, Ragnar is basically like college.




Friday morning dawned overcast and cool, perfect running weather.  Tony and I were in Van 1, and got to Blaine and decorated our van and began to see that, while we had all dressed up to fit our theme, we were totally outclassed by the really crazy runners.




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We ran as nerds, and I got plenty of high-fives for wearing suspenders and a bow tie (I thought the Carl Sagan shirt was pretty nerdy, too, but apparently not so recognizable), but we passed storybook princesses, jail inmates, and  this guy wearing nothing but an adult diaper and fairy wings:




And this guy, wearing a spandex Santa suit and crocheted hat (in 90-degree weather):




And a whole lot of other, totally committed, costumed runners.


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My runs went really well – even though we didn’t mark “kills” on our van like some of the teams did, I passed a total of 25 people on my three legs.  Tony developed plantar fasciitis somewhere along his first leg of 8.3 miles, but toughed it out until the end, and was fine for his later runs. 




By the time we met up with Van 2 in Bellingham, it was hot, hot, hot, and we were happy to go home to shower and sleep for awhile.


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We picked back up in Burlington at about 8 pm and ran until 1 am, then crashed at one of our runner’s houses in Anacortes for another three hours of sleep.  This was lucky for us, as I think Van 2 didn’t sleep AT ALL.  Then we ran our third legs really quickly and ended up about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, really screwing Van 2 out of some potential sleep.  They were not so pleased by this.


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You don’t just run, hand off, run, hand off at Ragnar.  You cheer on your runner and the other runners and you blast music and silly string and squirt guns and the more delirious you are, the more fun you have.




And then, as Van 1, you get to the finish line and wait for the rest of your team to complete the last legs of the relay.  If you’re Tony, you spray sunscreen on your chest in a haphazard manner and get a really wonky sunburn.


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And you spend some of those hours at the end checking out all the other crazy teams: Team Colonel Angus offering mustache rides; the kilted team blasting a bagpipe version of the Star Wars theme from their van; Escape from the 80s featuring a Ghostbuster, Indiana Jones, Richard Simmons; the Gagnam Style dancing team; and so many more.


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I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  You know an activity was worth the pain when your face is as sore from laughing as your legs are from running.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Well, it seemed like it was ages away when I signed up and paid my money in January, but now it’s here: Northwest Passage Ragnar Relay.


I’ll be up super early to braid my hair and load the van.  Sunscreen, giant ziplocks for sweaty clothing, snacks, blankets, on and on and I’m sure I’ll forget sixteen things at least.  Instead of worrying about that, I’m simply hoping that I can get a good night’s sleep tonight… because I probably won’t get any more until Saturday night.


Look for a recap Monday if I’m not too exhausted to type.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hacking the Strider “Bike”

You’ve seen them on Pinterest, the news, at the park.  They’re bicycles, but they have no pedals.  Balance bikes or Striders were created to transition kids from tricycles to bicycles without training wheels.  And you know what?  They totally work!  Kids learn balance just scooting along without pedals.  It’s fantastic to see.


But they’re so expensive: $100+ for a pedal-less bike you will have to replace with a real bicycle fairly quickly.  But lo, a new, regular 12-inch bicycle is less than $50 at Wal-Mart, and next to free on craigslist or at a garage sale near you.  What to do, what to do?


When Charles was two-and-a-half years old, we bought him a bicycle as an incentive to potty train.  In retrospect, he was totally ready for the bicycle and not so much ready to potty train.  But I digress.  A year later, he still hadn’t given up the training wheels and he was frustrated and wanted to go faster.  Enter my genius husband, who turned our regular, old, cheap 12-inch bicycle into a strider bike by simply removing the pedals and lowering the seat all the way down (and removing the training wheels, obviously).  Charles scooted that thing around like crazy for two weeks.  Then we put the pedals back on and he was off!  No training wheels, no balancing woes, just riding like a bat out of hell.


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August 2012


So here’s my parent hack of the day: don’t buy a strider bike.  Buy a cheap, little bike and remove the pedals for awhile.  Your kid will be doing wheelies in no time.


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This is Charles, the day we put the pedals back on.  I’ve been yelling at him to slow down ever since.


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Slave to the Coffee

I’ll tell you what, until this morning, I was feeling a little cocky about being mostly well-rested and alert.  After all, the boys mostly sleep through the night and I get to bed at a decent hour and up at a decent hour and it’s sunny all day and this all combines to make me feel pretty good in the morning.  But today, we ran out of coffee.


Tony usually preps the coffee before he goes to bed, so I didn’t know that we were out until late last night, too late to go to the store (because I was in my pajamas, not because the stores weren’t open – once I’m in pajamas, I’m there to stay, and since I’m not a college freshman anymore, I’m unwilling to go out in public in my pjs).  I thought to myself, well self, you’re going to be fine.  You get enough sleep so you don’t really need that cup of coffee.  Besides, both times you were pregnant, you gave up coffee, and I know it was hard for a few days, but you was tired then and you’re not tired or pregnant now, so it should be easier to go one day without.  Buck up, self, you can do it!


Wrong.  I didn’t even make it until 8 am before I texted Leland to bring coffee to work for me.  At the first sip, the headache started to subside.  Cruel addiction.


This has all got me thinking, though… perhaps it’s time for a new coffee maker.  Ours is pretty old, 5 years or more, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get rid of the musty odor it has acquired.  I have run vinegar and bleach water through it (not at the same time) to no avail.  The coffee we brew doesn’t taste very good anymore, so maybe it’s time for a change.  What kind of coffee maker do you have and do you like it?


Thanks to Leland, I also got to enjoy this lovely Slayer travel mug this morning.  If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will.


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Monday, July 15, 2013

Running, Running, Running

Last week I ran or worked out (which usually involves a lot of running/sprinting) five days in a row.  And when I say “running,” I mean “4-6 miles.”  It’s not easy, but I’m getting stronger and, best of all, I’m more confident about Ragnar this coming Friday than I have been since I signed up in January.  Which I guess is how it’s supposed to work: you train, you get more confident, you feel good, you have a great race. 


Tony hasn’t really trained much.  I took the stitches out of his eyebrow on Saturday (here, let me wave my scissors menacingly at your eye!) and then he up and ran 7 miles yesterday and frankly, I don’t think that’s fair.  There’s NO WAY I’d be able to just go out and run 7 miles without working up to it gradually.  Men.


I ran a 5k on Friday night (the “Run Like A Girl” 5k, at which I won a wine glass that has “I run so I can drink wine” written on it and for which I got comments like, “That is so fitting!” and, “We were all thinking, ‘Amelia should totally win that!’” all night long… I guess I am much more of a lush than I thought) and had my best time ever.  If you had asked me last summer if I thought I could run an 8:20 mile, I would have told you that kinda fast was just dreaming.  But that’s what I did, 8:20-minute miles for over 3 miles.  Final time: 25:47.  I am so proud of myself, and every time that stupid voice in my head gives me the “yes, but” (yes, but there were people faster than you; yes, but no one thinks that 8:20/mile is fast; yes, but some people run whole marathons at that pace and faster so really, a 5k in 25:47 is no big deal), I shut it down and tell myself that I did an awesome job and I felt really good.


And I did feel good, in that euphoric, post-run stage.  But here’s the thing: I am not built for sustained running.  Five days of running and working out and I was useless yesterday.  I took a 2.5-hour nap in the middle of the day and did nothing else but play with my boys.  I have trouble eating because nothing sounds or tastes good.  My whole digestive system is revolting against me.  I haven’t pooped anything solid in a week.  The euphoric, post-run stage only lasts so long and then I feel terrible.


So I’m a runner, but I’m not.  I have worked really hard to get into distance running shape, but as I found out when I trained for my very first long run (a 10k six years ago), I am not built for maintaining the kind of conditioning needed to do a half-marathon or other long races.  I’m looking forward to Ragnar, yes, but I’m also looking forward to next week, when I’ll probably only run twice during the week and stick to 3.5-mile runs.  And then maybe I won’t get the runs.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Surprises and A Well Child

Charles likes surprises in theory.  He sort of thinks all surprises should be toys, but I’m trying to “help” my kids understand that a treat can be a movie, or a candy, or ice cream, or breakfast for dinner, or a special person coming to visit, or an unscheduled trip to the park, and that surprises mean that I don’t tell them much ahead of time.


My mom says that I used to have to know exactly what was going on every day.  I needed a schedule to feel secure.  I sometimes see this with Charles as he gets older: when we do something that was not, in his mind, “scheduled,” he can become a little upset, constantly asking “why” and looking for reassurance about the rest of the day’s schedule.  More often than a surprise activity, though, is when we have to cancel something I had scheduled and prepared him for.  Then he flips out. 


I love surprises, so I’m trying to show Charles that surprises are good things, that some of the fun in life is anticipating a surprise or getting a totally unanticipated surprise.  Yesterday, I received a surprise gift in the mail:


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Rad necklace, huh?  I’ll get into chunky jewelry yet, you’ll see.


So I told the boys that I had a surprise for them yesterday afternoon.  When Leland pulled up in his new car, I yelled, “Surprise!” and told the boys they could help Uncle Leland wash his car.  Charles didn’t end up helping much, but he does think that having Uncle Leland come over for an hour or so is a wonderful treat.


Jamie helped:


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That’s peanut butter dripped down the side of Jamie’s pants because while I was outside talking to a neighbor, the boys had a surprise for me: it was 5 pm and they were hungry, so they decided to eat peanut butter straight from the jar with giant soup spoons.  Luckily for the dog, they got peanut butter everywhere (later that night, I found that Buster had drug out the rag I had used to wipe up the majority of the peanut butter from the laundry room and was compulsively sucking on it).  This led to a surprise for Tony: dinner was postponed until 7 pm (since the boys had filled their tummies at 5) and he got to eat with us last night, instead of alone when he got home at 7.  Pretty good outcome, I guess.  I didn’t get mad, I just sighed and went with it.  No use yelling at your kids over spilled peanut butter, not when it’s nice outside and there are sports cars to wash.


It all might have been avoided had I given the boys their usual post-school snack, but instead, they ate applesauce pouches in the car on our way to the doctor’s office for Jamie’s two-year well-child checkup.  And what a well child he is, too.  Charles refused to get on the scale, so no official findings for him, but Jamie weighs 27 pounds and is 35 inches tall.  That’s one inch shorter and 6 pounds lighter than Charles at age 2.  Before we left, Jamie threw a nice little tantrum over getting his clothes put back on, so the doctor got to see the full range of his health.  The doctor kindly offered to help me wrestle clothing back on the little bug, and while Jamie was kicking the doctor, I shifted position while holding Jamie’s bucking torso and managed to head-butt the doctor.  Never a dull moment when the Cook family is around.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Busy Bees

It’s been a crazy week, as weeks go, but then I think back to the week before and the week before that and you know what?  They’re all crazy.  Every day is filled with this and that, errands and work and school and fun time and chores and there’s never a breather because even if we’re spending our time hanging out in the yard with the kiddie pool and the new slip n slide, we’re totally still doing things like weeding or dishes or making dinner or just trading off watching the kids while one of us studies or goes running or something.


I’m not complaining.  I’m not much good at “doing nothing.”  I like to get out and go, I like activities.  The TV doesn’t come on during the day unless it’s really raining AND someone is sick, so there are always activities to do in between the stuff I have to do as the matriarch of this little circus.  Mouths to feed and laundry to wash, you know.  I’ve never seen the kids bored because they make up their own adventures in the pool or behind the trees or with the train tracks.  We visit the library, we go berry picking, we go kite flying.  It’s more than wonderful to count on the good weather to get us outside.


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Our new obstacle course.


Of course, the guilt and questioning is still there.  I’m a mother, after all.  I’m taking more and more time for myself to run, prepping for Ragnar (I haven’t told the kids yet that we’ll be leaving for two days, ugh).  I had a book club/girls’ night out on Monday.  Tony and I haven’t had a date night in a month or more, but I want to plan one, even though we seem to go out a lot for work-related functions – it’s not the same, you know?  But that will just take us away from the kids for another night.  And frankly, I find my attention span for the kids’ railroad-building and pool-jumping to be short; with a million other things to do, I am constantly going back and forth between chores and play.  I want to be the kind of mom who can play with her kids on the floor for an hour, but I just don’t like it.  I’d rather read them thirty books in a row, or help them play on the slides and swings at the park.


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Pooped pooch after a 3.5-mile run.


I’m a go-er, so we pack our weeks with play dates and dinner dates and community concerts and farmers’ market visits and library visits and family runs/bike rides.  I try to tell myself that my compulsion to go DO things and to do them with my kids will make up for the fact that I don’t get down on my hands and knees very often to chalk up the sidewalk.  But I know it’s not true.  I don’t have to schedule us so much.


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Beach time.


The only way I seem to be able to relax and “live in the now” instead of over-scheduling is to get way away from home.  Visiting my parents and in-laws over a long Independence Day weekend was perfect for this.  We all played on the beach and took naps together and went on walks and it was lovely.  In a couple of weeks we are going camping for a weekend and I am really looking forward to it.  


I think I need to change my focus.  I think we need to get out for camping or visiting a lot more often, just so I can let go and relax and be in the moment and not feel compelled to wash windows or run errands at every minute of the day.  I like to get out and go, to do lots of neat things and be busy all week, but damn.  I’m exhausted.  And I probably can’t sustain staying up late and getting up early just to get everything done for much longer. 



Eye Injury Update:  My husband looks like he is involved in a fight club.

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Also, his whole eyelid has turned a vibrant shade of magenta (and is no longer so swollen), making him look like he has rockstar makeup on one eye.  I giggle uncontrollably whenever I catch sight of him.  Is it good to laugh at your spouse’s misery?  Who cares, it looks funny.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Elbow to the Face

Tony described his basketball style as “football” this morning.  I’m thinking maybe he should reevaluate meshing the two sports.  After all, in basketball, he doesn’t wear a helmet.


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Though maybe he should.  Apparently, a couple of months ago, one of the other players broke an ankle.  Sheesh.


So we’re waiting at home for the doctor to get in to his office so he can stitch or glue Tony back together, and I thought I would show you what I’m wearing today (because right now I have a photographer):


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A $12 black sheath dress from Wal-Mart, a similarly cheap chunky necklace from Wal-Mart (I bought large jewelry!  Hooray me!), a button-down shirt from Express that I bought, oh, ten or twelve YEARS ago, and black slides purchased at Payless Shoes yesterday.


I’ve mentioned before that I love Payless Shoes, and I honestly get the most compliments on the least expensive shoes I own.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look great.  What are YOU wearing?

Monday, July 8, 2013

More Than My Way

Something that never ceases to amaze me is how different we all are.  I know, like, this should be obvious, right?  But I have been reminded several times within the past few weeks that not everybody does it my way.  Not that I have been trying to impose my way on others (outside of my immediate family, and well, I’m mom, so my way is THE way), but I have had a few moments of “huh.” when the person I’m talking to about our plans for this, that, or the other thing looks at me in horror or screws up their face and says something like, “oh, that would just stress me out.” 


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I have friends who might call this an accident waiting to happen.  My kids, and my niece and nephew, called it fun.  Honorary Aunt Stephanie doesn’t seem to mind it, either.


Part of it, I suppose, is personality; some people like to host giant backyard barbeques for their two-year-old’s birthday because it makes them happy to feed so many people and see them all have fun in their space (this is me), while others think that sounds like the seventh circle of hell.  Part of it is probably upbringing; my mom cooked all the time, so I cook all the time.  Also, my children are heathens, so we don’t like to eat out anywhere that isn’t especially kid-friendly.  When I was a kid, we always went to the beach just for walks or to play with dogs or to drive up and look at interesting things that had washed up and we never bothered about sand in the car or wet clothing or dirt, so now I don’t pay too much attention to the aftermath of a beach trip.  We are not so firm in our schedules that a special thing, like letting the kids stay up WAY past their bedtimes to watch fireworks once a year, is a problem – they’ll sleep in the next day, or nap in the car, they’ll probably fight a bit more and someone will cry, but eventually the world will right itself.


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Dumping sand and water from the boots… before he took his wet clothing off and rode home naked.


But would you ever guess that NOT EVERYONE is like this?  Some people, whom I love and respect very much, do things differently.  My husband’s family ate out all the time when they were kids.  Look how much I love my husband anyway!  My sister-in-law and her family do not like sand in their car, so our beach-going styles are incompatible.  Plus, I want to get AWAY from the crowds and do not like taking my kids to the “main” beach during the season, and they do.  Look how much I love them anyway!  Their kids didn’t stay up for the fireworks on Saturday (yes, our hometown does two AMAZING fireworks shows, and I cannot even begin with the insanity and number of dollars spent on consumer fireworks) because the crankiness the next morning is not worth it in their eyes.  I understand that!  


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‘Lil Patriot is not enthused.


It’s good to remind myself that there is no right way of doing things, lest I get all self-righteous.  There are whole industries built on the “my way is the BEST way, the ONLY GOOD way” line of thought, and you know what?  They’re wrong.  Certainly, there are some BAD ways, like never having a bedtime ever for your kids is pretty detrimental, it actually stunts their intellectual and emotional development, and there are some bad ways of eating, and disciplining, and then there are the monstrous things that don’t bear mentioning because they’re so wrong, but there are many many many good ways to do things and sometimes they are incompatible and contradictory but that doesn’t make them bad.  People are different, and that’s a good thing.


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Don’t you wish you could just turn off the voices telling you “THIS.  THIS IS THE ONLY WAY.”  If I believed everything I heard or read, I would be paralyzed.  I would eat nothing but vegetables grown in my own garden, and maybe not those because my parents’ dog used to poop there.  I would think that my lack of artistic skill when it comes to craft projects and my dearth of time for learning how to sew is some sort of black mark on my character.  I would feel guilty all day for telling my son, as I did this morning, “Charles, I am frustrated right now because it is time to go to school and work and you are not following directions” because good moms don’t get frustrated with their kids and they don’t go to work, except when they have high-powered executive-level jobs at which they make a boatload of money, in which case working is actually setting a good example.


Maybe some days I just wish everything could be prefaced with “this worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way.”  But if that were the case, no one would ever be able to sell a weight-loss book.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Birthday Celebrations at School in the Modern Age

There’s a girl in Jamie’s class who is allergic to nuts.  I have friends with kids who are gluten intolerant.  Others who can’t eat ice cream.


Remember when everyone just brought cupcakes to school and everything was good?  No more.


I’m here to tell you, though, that there is another way.  Another way that is, perhaps, even more exciting for young kids due to the many, many possibilities.  Another way that is gluten- and nut-free.


Rice Krispies Treats.  You can use fruity pebbles for some color, or shape them into a dragon, or frost them with a “Happy Birthday!” message, or just cover them in sprinkles and slice into servings as I did for Jamie’s birthday party at school.  Kids love ‘em, adults love ‘em.  No one has an allergic reaction and gets rushed to the ER.  They’re not even messy.  You’re welcome.



This two-year-old likes sprinkles best.


For the party we hosted at our house, I made messier desserts: a cream puff cake and a banana split cake.  They were both so delicious, I could cry.  I modified the cream puff cake recipe by using real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip and hot fudge sauce instead of Hershey’s syrup.  The banana split cake?  Well, I post the recipe sometime.  I’ve been waiting years to make it and it was every bit as good as I had hoped.



As of tonight, I’m on vacation, bitches!  See you next week!