Wednesday, March 2, 2011

and then there were six ...

no, we're not adopting another baby, and I'm not pregnant, but I do feel that I have a fourth child at the moment.  DOTP, aka dinners on the porch, has taken on a life of its own.  It's so exciting and awesome, but like a new baby, it demands time, attention, feedings (of money), it causes me stress and worry, it gets me all hyped up late at night.  So, that's a partial, and lame, explanation for my laziness on the blogging front.  I am writing on the DOTP blog every week, but it's about food, not my family, so I'm missing writing about the kids, etc.
In the past month, we celebrated Ruby's Gotcha Day, and it's still making my head spin that she has been with us for a whole year.  So much has happened that in some ways it seems like it must have been more than a year, but then in other ways it feels like just yesterday that we came home with this new little person.  Leading up to the one year anniversary, we had a rough couple of weeks.  I have noticed that our relationship seems to have peaks and valleys, and I'm at a loss to understand why, but it's definitely happening.  Right now, we're in a great spot, and I can really appreciate the closeness and connection we're sharing.  A few weeks ago, I could feel Ruby pulling back, testing, reacting to something that was stressing her out (though I'm still not sure what).  It's like what I imagine having a teenager will be like, when all of the sudden your child realizes that it doesn't have to "be" with you for survival.  I think that Ruby already understands on some level that she can choose to separate from us when she doesn't like something that is happening, or is angry with us, or feels anxious about something.  Finn and Gus have never felt what it would be like to be outside the family all alone, so even when they are furious with us, they don't know that they have the option of pulling away, and they rage and carry on right inside the safe space of the web of our little family.  Ruby, on the other hand, seems to understand already that it's possible to go back and forth.  She can weigh her options at any given time and decide whether it's worth sticking with us or if she might just be better off going it alone.
Of course, all of it boils down to attachment, and there's no shortcut to getting there.  With the boys, I never was conscious of creating attachment, because it's so much easier to do with a newborn.  They need you for everything, you are there all the time, they never know anything different.  It's only now, going through this new experience with Ruby, that I realize how strong those bonds between myself and the boys really are.  With them, I know that there are times when I need to push a little to help them be more independent.  And, I am sure, in a few years they will see that they can tear a big hole in the web and walk right through if they want, and it will break my heart.  But, hopefully, when children open the door and walk out, the door is left open, and they walk back in and back out over an over again, maybe the next day, maybe a few weeks or even years later.  So Ruby maybe is just already there.  Certainly I'm so happy that she knows that there is a "here" to come, and she stays in that space alot of the time.  If I'm lucky, she'll get all comfortable and safe and attached just in time to turn 13!
Anyway, it's been a rollercoaster year, with more to come, no doubt, and I will try to keep up with it a little better.  so we'll see ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011


This week has been so hectic - I am in the middle of a longer post, but don't know when I can get a chance to finish it.  One thing I've been trying to work on this week is dealing with tricky food issues that seem to keep rearing up every time I think we're getting somewhere.  This adorable little Ruby, so sweet and cute, can turn into a total monster over food from time to time.  I am really struggling with how to handle it, and, sadly, I think I'm not doing too well.  Some days I think I'll just give her what she wants and that will calm her down - she'll see that food is available to her here and she can always have more if she's hungry.  Then other days I decide that I need to be more controlling about what she is eating and help her learn the difference between hunger and desire.
Of course, this is sending mixed messages and probably just increasing her anxiety about food.  I try to apply the same rules to her that I have for the boys, but they are so unconcerned with food that I don't think it's working.  This morning, I had bought chocolate chip muffins as a treat because today is Finn's Spring Sing, but I told them they all had to eat a banana before eating the muffin.  Gus ate a banana and a muffin, Finn ate half a banana and then decided that the muffin wasn't worth having to eat a banana and stopped eating altogether, and Ruby broke her banana into small pieces, hid them all over the house while I was getting dressed, pushed a chair over to the counter, helped herself to a muffin, ate half of it and then sat on the other half the minute she saw me coming into the kitchen.  Devious!  From the trail of crumbs, smashed banana around the house, and the guilty look on her face, plus the chocolate muffin all over her pants, I was able to piece together what had transpired.  So then, childishly, I was angry that she had clearly done something she knew she wasn't supposed to do, and in the process, created a giant mess all over the house.  At that point, we were late leaving to get the boys to school, so I just grabbed her and loaded everybody into the car.  Being separated from the remains of the muffin was, of course, the most tragic thing that Ruby could imagine, and she spend the whole ride to the boys school screaming her head off bitterly.  It was quite the way to start the day.
Anyway, muffin-gate is just a typical, daily struggle over here.  Probably pretty much my fault for even expecting a child to not take a chocolate chip muffin that was sitting right there.  Some days are better, some worse, and I keep hoping that one day everything will click.  I've talked to the doctor, other adoptive moms, a parenting counselor, and any number of friends and family, and gotten lots of really good advice that sometimes helps, so hopefully we'll just keep moving forward and get to an easier place.  Ruby's been with us almost exactly a year - Feb 15th is our gotcha day - and so many things have smoothed out so much that it seems ridiculous to worry about this.  But you know how you can look back at things you worried about after they have passed and realize that you were being silly - it was just a phase after all?  But when you're dealing with something new as a parent - whether it's a baby who won't sleep or a picky eater or a 15-month-old who isn't walking yet - you don't know that it will pass.  You don't know that it's a phase, and you worry that it's some sort of indicator that you don't know what you are doing and you are screwing your kid up.  And actually, who really does know what to do?  Not me, but at least I can be comforted that all of the things that I worry about will probably turn out fine, while the things I haven't even thought about will be the ones hurled back in my face years from now, just the way I used to do to my poor parents.  Sorry Mom & Dad ...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A year ago ...: 12 Days to Go: Snow, Baby Shower, Injera & More

I am so tired tonight, and Matt is at art class, and I have all my little kiddies in bed early and have just had a hot shower and am cozy in my pjs, about to enjoy a glass of wine, and then I realized that our social worker is coming tomorrow for our 1 year home study!  Crazy, and a bit of a bummer because our house looks like a lion chased a herd of wildebeests through it this afternoon, and that won't go over so well with the social worker.  But, that aside, I can't believe it's been almost one whole year since we were almost, almost ready to go get Ruby.  I was doing a countdown to the day we left on the blog, and I remember being so full of excitement and nervous anticipation for the trip and the baby and our new life.  So I decided to look back at the blog from this time last year, and it's so funny to read what I was thinking about.  It has proved quite prophetic, as I waxed poetic about how eager I was for the excitement of the adoption to wear off so that we could move into the mundane chores and life as a family part.  That's exactly where we are now, and, as predicted, it's a time of life that is filled with little moments and lots of work.  So anyway, here's what we were up to a year ago today ...

and then there were five ...: 12 Days to Go: Snow, Baby Shower, Injera & More: "This past weekend ranks up there with some of our best ever. For starters, we had a huge, beautiful snow on Friday night - unusual for..."

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm looking back at my last post about my happy mommy moment and realizing that I jinxed myself by writing that.  Things pretty much went downhill from that point.  Right now I am eating a big handful of peanut m&ms, and that's helping a lot, but earlier tonight I threw a big pot of spaghetti into the kitchen sink and had to actually leave the house so as not to frighten the children with the fit of rage I was experiencing.  Not that they were not alarmed with the spaghetti throwing, but I really didn't know what was coming next.  I'm not normally all that emotionally unstable, but lately I feel like I'm on edge all the time.  I have been struggling so much with Ruby lately, and she with me, and the frustration of seeing so much of the work we've both done over the past year erode away is really stressful.  I will probably be able to see everything more clearly when I have more distance, but when I'm stuck in this daily push and pull, it's hard to know exactly what is going on.  Ruby is now 27 months, which is the same age I remember things getting really hard with Finn, my oldest.  But in that case, that was also right when Gus was born, so I attributed much of his behavior to his displeasure at having to share the limelight with the interloper.  Gus at 27 months, on the other hand, was the easiest child in the world.  We kept holding our collective breath, waiting for him to hit a bad stage, and it never happened.  He's just one of those kids that it's hard to be mad at.  So maybe I sort of convinced myself that Ruby would be easy like Gus, or that, being a girl, she would be sweet all the time.  Who knows, but I'm all of the sudden plunged back into the fun of temper tantrums, out and out defiance, time outs, and self-recrimination over letting my own temper get the best of me in the moment.  I did spent 30 seconds today on Amazon, ordering Love & Logic, which we somehow lost in the move a few years back, and I'm awaiting its arrival with a slightly hysterical eagerness.  Perhaps the wise guidance of the love & logic method will shape me into the parent I really, really want to be.  The one who does not yell at a two-year old, or throw pasta across the kitchen before storming out of the house.  I want to be one who makes my children's lives easier, not be doing things for them or buying them things they don't need, but by giving them the gift of security and of knowing there are people who love them no matter what they do or where they are.  There are so many new terms for different types of parents - helicopter parents, tiger mothers, etc.  I can't think of a term for what kind of parent I would like to be, but I thought today of an image - actually from the movie Up, of a big cluster of balloons, holding my children up above the world, letting them cut the strings little by little as they find their places in the world.  That seems so peaceful and safe, whereas each day falls pretty far short of that little scenario.  However, it seems that each day does finally end, and a new one begins again with somewhat of a clean slate.  If everything is not erased, maybe it will have receded enough to not feel so raw.  Hopefully a better story to be written over the ugly words and missed opportunities of the day before.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Making Soup

Not a metaphor for anything, I'm just actually making soup all day today.  I found this wonderful (-ly easy) dumpling soup recipe, and I've adapted it a little, and all of my diners will be enjoying that tomorrow.  The house smells so yummy - ginger, garlic, shiitake mushrooms.  Ruby is resting, the boys are peacefully relaxing after school, the laundry is all folded and put away (by someone else, which makes it even better), there's plenty of diet coke and hummus (which I eat massive amounts of every day) in the fridge, and a sitter is coming at 5 so I can take Finn to basketball without losing my mind keeping up with Ruby during his practice.  I know, it's not the Four Seasons in some exotic locale, and I'm sure in a few minutes all hell will break loose and I'll regret having cursed myself by writing this, but right now, at this one moment, peace reigns and I'm having a happy mommy moment.  Hope you're having one too ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Right now I have a million things that I really need to be dealing with.  My kitchen is a horror show (since I cook for DOTP on Sunday, Monday & Tuesday, I can't bear to deal with it for a few days after I get all the meals delivered).   There is mail in probably 6 different places in my house that I need to gather, sort and deal with.  That's on top of the bills already piled in the bill "section" of my desk.  There's laundry, there's grocery shopping, emails I have put off responding to for weeks, toys everywhere, a flooded guest-house that needs to be remediated today, and so on and so on.  But, thanks to some very hard work over last weekend, the office - where I'm standing right now - is very organized and clean.  Pictures are hung on the walls, there is nothing on the floor, notices are hung neatly on the pinboard, and there is a general appearance of good house-keeping.  I stay in my computer room for long enough, writing this blog, maybe all of those other problems will somehow sort themselves out.
I actually have been trying really hard lately to be realistic about what I can accomplish with the time I have, and get help with the things that I know I can't.  It's been a little hard admitting to myself that I am not just a stay-at-home mom, even though I am still at home.  The dinner idea that started out as something I could do in a few hours on Monday has changed into something that takes up at least 20 hours of my time every week, even if a lot of that time is on Sunday or in the middle of the night on Monday.  This last week I had 40 orders - which is awesome - but I was basically cooking for 48 hours straight.  While all of the cooking is going on, I'm also trying to feed my own kids, keep up with their sports, activities, emails from teachers, potty-training Ruby (at her insistence, over my strenuous objection since she's so young), and all of that other stuff we all do every day.  As always, I find myself in awe of women who do all of this and work full-time outside the home - they must be beyond tired all of the time.  One of my good friends is getting ready to go back to work after maternity leave with her third child, and just hearing how early she has to get everyone out of the house with lunches packed and clothes on and extra diapers and bottles and changes of clothes for baby and homework in book bags makes we slightly panic-y, and it's not even me!  I feel like I would just need to stay up all night in order to make it out the door with all of that done.
Last night Matt and I had one of those (sadly) frequent discussions where I freak out because I feel like I can't handle everything, and he calmly reassures me that alot of the things I am freaking out about are not that important, and I get mad because I think they are important, and then after arguing for 45 minutes over that, we agree on our shared priorities - spending time with our kids, our health (ie, exercise), spending time with our friends and family, etc.  I know that those are the important things, and I know that I will not look back 40 years from now and remember that there was always a crumb-layer on the floor of the kitchen (why I am the only person in my house who is bothered by this), but it's so hard to keep all of that at bay from day to day and focus on that big-picture stuff.  The little stuff just eats away at the edges until it all but consumes your time and energy.  I don't really have a neat way to wrap this up - no insight, so maybe you can share your tips and advice.
In the meantime, here's a picture of Ruby I just took - she is so done with diapers that she prefers to wear them on her head - somewhere in between a fashion statement and a really gross idea.  But she's pretty cute even with a diaper on her head!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


So, blogging is sort of hard, I think, because it's hard to write openly about things when people you know - friends, neighbors, family members, might be reading.  I don't really care if people who I will never meet know every detail of my life, but it gets dicey when I know that someone I do know may read it.  There start to be lots of subjects that are off-limits - nothing too "personal" in case my family reads it, nothing related to Matt's work after his patients started telling him things about Ruby that they read on the blog (which is awesome, but obviously means I would never want to write anything about his work situation - which he loves!), nothing too revealing about friends who may not want other people knowing things about them, nothing about my parents or Matt's parents, and on and on.  I find it difficult to write about politics or religion, and it's preachy and annoying when people write about the environment or things like that, so I think that pretty much leaves me to choose between writing about the weather or about different cities I've lived in.  Fun.  I can - and mostly do -write about my kids, of course, but then there's always this concern that I'm misrepresenting them or making it sound like they are the worst kids ever who drive me crazy every second of the day.

A few months back, I realized that I was doing that with respect to my writing about Ruby and her adjustment, because people would constantly refer to all the "problems" I was having with her adjustment.  They would ask, very sympathetically, how I was doing with everything.  And, of course, I was writing openly about some of the struggles of parenting three kids, one of whom had only been with us a few months.  At the time, I felt like I was really struggling in some ways, but there were also lots of great moments and happy days.  I just didn't particularly think anyone would want to read about some nice, boring day where everything went really smoothly.  I felt like I would try to share this other side of my life, since I think a lot of moms - adoptive or otherwise - have similar struggles and dark moments, and I always appreciate reading or hearing about those since they make me feel better about all of my short-comings and unperfect encounters with motherhood.  You know, you see someone at the park or at the PTA, and you see this side they are presenting to the world.  I'm always curious about the other side. Whenever that book came out called "Tuesdays with Morrie" (a great book, even if it was super inspirational), my mom and I kept joking about the book they didn't write - "Wednesdays with Morrie" where you find out that he's a total jerk to waitstaff in restaurants or refuses to stop driving even though he has ALS (if we seem like total heartless biyatches, remember that my dad has Parkinson's Disease for 30 years, and we love him, but he has his moments).

Anyway, I tried to find some neutral or upbeat things to write about, and I found that I wasn't really interested in writing about myself and my life in that way - does anyone really want to hear about how I handily solved a parenting dilemma in between taking my kids to sing at an old folks' home and sewing them each a new costume for make-believe playtime (3:30 - 4 pm every day) out of organic cotton that we purchased on a family field trip to a local shearing?  No, I didn't think so.  That would just make you feel sort of annoyed with me for being obviously more into my kids than you are into yours, and also feel like I was trying way too hard and my kids would probably end up hating me by the time they reach middle school (where they would, of course, not be going, since I would be home schooling all of them).  So, even though I did not do any of those things and never would, I do have great days with my kids - or, more often, great moments in days that are both hard and good at the same time.  I do have fun with them.  I do love them to pieces and think they are obviously the most beautiful, smartest, most talented kids in the world.  They are definitely going to be way cooler than your kids, and that's saying alot, because your kids are pretty cool too.

So I have a little journal where I write all of those sappy things down for them to read when they get older.  That's where you'd find the Pollyanna version of their childhoods where Finn "was so awesome in basketball game today - could not believe he is so fast!!!"  Or where Gus "is getting really interested in reading!!  He keeps showing off by spelling the word "h-a-m" - so adorable!!!"  Or where we are so proud that Ruby "is totally on top of the whole potty-training thing - she has figured out that she gets a mini marshmellow every time she pees, so she has mastered the art of peeing about a teaspoon of pee every 20 minutes or so!!  Hilarious!"  This will be where the children learn about themselves as children - how special they were, how smart, how loved, how funny.  I want them to know that, and I know it, but I'm betting that you, dear reader, think your own kids are the bee's knees too, so you're not as interested in hearing me brag about mine.  It's more fun to share the other stuff, and I think I'll keep on doing that.  And then later I'll start some anonymous blog to talk about all my friends and my family behind their backs, and sex, and money and all of that fun stuff!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A "Shining" kind of day

Isn't it such a big kick in the face to come home after Christmas, get everybody back into their routines, feel really good that you are getting to the gym on a regular basis, start putting the house back together after the assault of having all three kids home over the holidays, and then, a week later, have several inches of snow completely derail all of that?  The boys were out of school Monday and Tuesday and went in late today, and Ruby's little preschool seems to be indefinitely cancelled.  People, I depend on those few hours when all of my children are under the care of other people for my very sanity.
It's getting a little frightening around here.  I found myself taking a very, very long shower today in the middle of the day, while presumably Gus and Ruby were watching Max and Ruby, and even though I was pretty sure that there would be some consequence to pay for my neglect of the children, I couldn't seem to get out.  I was just standing there staring into space, scalding my already dry skin and wondering what I could possibly do with the two of them once I got out.  Indeed, when I got out and got dressed and went to face the music, there seemed to be water everywhere.  Ruby loves to fill up cups with water, then dump the water into other containers and pretend she is cooking.  So there was water all over the floor, the couch, pile of single socks that I keep out in the middle of the living room in case the mates show up one day.  Except, somehow, the water smelled like pee, so I am a little suspicious that in this instance she might have filled the cup up with water from the toilet (which of course the boys never flush if they only pee in it), but I pretended to myself that that was not the case and just treated it like a regular water spill - ie, lazily allowed it to dry on its own).  Anyway, that did take up a little piece of time, and then there was the 45 minutes it took to get Gus and Ruby out the door and into the Y for Gus' indoor tennis practice, discover that it too had been cancelled, and turn around and go back home.  Some days are just like that.  Time seems to stand still, and everything you try to do just seems like a big dead end.  Those kind of days suck the life right out of you, and when they are over, and you are standing in the kitchen eating some enormous leftover cake the neighbor brought over with a big spoon right off of the cake plate, it's just pretty sad.  From the cake-eating, I moved to the couch to watch TV, only to find that Modern Family had been replaced by the memorial service for the victims of the Arizona shooting.  And, of course, watching the grieving families and listening to President Obama speak so thoughtfully about loss of those lives made me so sad and so grateful for just a normal day with my family.  I don't mean to be too Hallmark Hall of Fame, but it is such a miracle that we don't appreciate enough every single day.  It's so hard to be mindful of that when there is so much whining and spilling and dirty dishes and shoes tracking in wet dirt and all, but I always feel sick to think that there are mothers and fathers who would give up everything for just one day like that.  So I'll get up again and try to do better tomorrow.  Right now I have to go deal with someone up out of bed at 11 pm - with pleasure!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Moving on ...

Where to begin?  I don't even remember what was going on when I left off blogging, but here it is 2011 and that doesn't even seem possible.  Since I last posted, Ruby turned 2, we left the kids at home and took a 4-day trip to San Francisco (amazing!), we drove up to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving with Matt's family, we celebrated our first Christmas together as a family of 5, we flew down to Texas for a week with my family after Christmas, and now we're back!

Finn & Gus ready for Halloween as some sort of Star Wars characters.

Ruby as Cookie Monster with our neighbor Scarlett - guess who loves trick or treating?!?

Me in SF!!

Matt in SF (not sure why we didn't ask someone to take a picture of us together, but you get the idea - no kids!!)

In the midst of all of that, Ruby was on a fun little roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows, so from one minute to the next I was not sure what was about to happen with her, and my little business ( kept getting busier and busier, and things just seemed to be in a constant state of confusion and chaos.

But now, after a few weeks off from making dinners and with the kids back into their routines at school, I feel a little more sane.  Not totally sane, of course, but getting there.  Over the past few months, there were so many moments when I wanted to try to summarize what was going on with Ruby, in particular, but whenever I would sit down to write, I couldn't quite put my finger on what was going on.  One minute she would be happy and loving, the next throwing a world-class tantrum over something pretty minor.  Things seem to have evened out now, and I think her growing vocabulary is helping alot, but she's definitely a willful little person.  So independent and determined to do everything for herself - which is great in many ways, but a little dangerous too.  I love that even though she is barely two years old she can dress herself, put her shoes and socks on, put her toys away, use the potty with some regularity and lots of other big-girl things that I don't think the boys were doing until they were at least 4.  But.  Of course there is the other side of the coin.  I'm trying to be careful not to let her jump straight into self-sufficiency without a little mothering.  I don't want to wind up on the other side of an argument 14 years from now where she can rightfully say that she's been taking care of herself all of these years and now I have no business telling her what she can and can't do.  Love those mother-daughter politics!

Anyway, lots of good stuff to work on (always), but in general everything is ticking along.  The Christmas decorations are down (I think it counts that I have them in boxes, even if the boxes are still stacked in the living room, right?).  I've got another week before I start back to being a delivery girl, so I'm enjoying the relative peace and quiet.  It's a snow day today, so we're laying low.  After naptime we'll make cookies and hot chocolate, during which time I will try very hard to be patient even when things spill.  I will try to start (and finish) a few loads of laundry and I will most certainly wait until 5 pm before I have a glass of wine.  And then I'll start trying to think of ways to keep everyone occupied tomorrow, which will almost certainly be another snow day.  I'm trying very hard to keep New Year's Resolution #7 - I will only allow myself one Mommy Dearest outburst per day!!

I know we have more pictures proving that we did have Thanksgiving and Christmas together, but I can't find them, so will have to add that later!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So sorry, happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year's!!!

I'm coming back - really!  It's one of my new year's resolutions, and so far I'm 1 for 1, so I think the odds are good that I will make it back to the blogging world.  In my next post I will explain my absence and set forth a new blogging plan.  I think that I have maxed out on insightful posts about adopting - or at least as a main topic for this blog, so now I will move on.  Freeing and (hopefully) more interesting.  At the moment I'm making pizza (heating a premade one) for some kids who came to a party too late to get any food and started crying, so I only have 3 minutes left.  That seems to be sort of the way every day goes - 3 minutes is the most time I have before fluid is spilled or a timer goes off or we have to all get in the car to go somewhere "right now!!!"  But, I have missed writing and feel that there are new things to explore and opine on, so if you haven't totally given up, stay tuned!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Naps Suck

How much do I hate scheduling my day around naps?  I had about two years where I did not have to do this, and it was heaven.  Don't get me wrong, I love the "break" from a busy toddler when they go and crash for two hours and I can take a shower or start dinner or reply to emails or, ever so occasionally, write a blog.  But.  It's so complicated to actually achieve that "break" that it often seems like it rules the rest of the flow of the day.  Ruby will still try to take a morning nap if we're in the car or she's in the stroller anytime around 11 am.  That would be fine, except that I have to pick up Gus from school at 12:30, so I have to make sure we're doing some activity or hanging out at home between 11 and 12:30.  Otherwise, she's determined to fall asleep for 30 minutes, which in turn means that I either don't put her down for an afternoon nap (and she's a cranky clingy baby all afternoon), or I put her down late, meaning that she will then need to stay up later if we don't want to spend an hour lying on the floor of her room trying to get her down.  So my mornings are constrained by the need to be finished with all exercise and errands before 11.  Then, at 12:20, we leave to go pick Gus up.  Most days, like today, she falls asleep approximately one minute into the drive to get him.  That is great, because if I go pick him up and come straight home, she'll go right down in her crib.  If, however, I do something crazy, like I did today, and go through a drive-thru to get Gus some lunch, when we get home she will have had enough sleep that she wakes up, ready to party with Gus.  So that's it.  A 30 minute nap for the day.  What a great afternoon I'll have to look forward to.  I still put her down in the crib to see if she might, possibly, hopefully, go back to sleep.  But no.  I can hear her in the next room moaning and saying "mamamamama" in a tired but definitely not on-the-verge-of-going-back-to-sleep sort of way.  So no shower for me, no emails, no bills, but at least a little blog ...  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I miss you

Blog!  I miss you.  I have many things to tell you, but can't seem to get all the way through a post lately.  I have a few half-posts, which maybe I'll just post and see if anyone can make sense of it!  At the moment, I'm stressing over whether my babysitter is going to come this afternoon when I have to go off and deliver all of my dinners on the porch.  If not, I'm screwed.  She super-secret texted me in the middle of the night asking if I still need her today!  Yes, I do.  That's why I said I need you every single Tuesday.  When I said that, I meant that I didn't want to have to confirm it every week.  Ay!  Will let you know how it all turns out!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When will September be over???

This is always such a crazy month for me, ever since the kids started "real" school.  I get totally overwhelmed with the volume of papers and sign-up sheets and new committees and all of the other stuff that comes my way at the beginning of the school year.  It starts to pile up in little corners and on table tops all over my house, and when I walk by and spy a pile that I know needs attention, it just makes me want to cram my whole self into a bag of peanut M&Ms.  I just finished writing apologetic emails to both of the boys' teachers for not returning the parent-teacher conference sign-up sheets on time, because I can't see any time listed that works for me, Matt, and the babysitter where we could do both conferences at the same general time.  Achieving this conference seems to be a logic puzzle that is going to defeat me, so I tire of trying to solve it and figure I'll update the blog.  With what?  Just my ranting about how busy I am.  And what better way to solve that problem than to spend some time telling people about it?  Perfect.
In other news, things are going well on most fronts.  All kids are healthy at the moment, and everyone - including Ruby - loves school.  She loves, loves it.  When I tell her it's time to go (2 mornings a week for 2.5 hours), she claps and says "yay yay yay" and rushes around gathering her shoes, her backpack and multiple sippy cups (she needs at least two with her at all times to prevent a major tantrum).  Very cute.  She is in a little class with mostly younger kids, since she has an October birthday, and she goes crazy over babies, so she thinks she is in heaven.  Adding to her advanced status, she has also decided to potty-train herself.  I'm going along with it, trying not to get my hopes up, but she's pretty determined.  We spend quite a bit of time each day on the potty, cleaning the potty, admiring pretty underwear and, occasionally, cleaning up accidents.  This is not the way I went about things with the boys, but I'm trying to be flexible and try new things if that's what Ruby desires.  So we'll see about that.  Her birthday is coming up in a month, and I'm trying to decide what to do - small party, big giant party, something in between?  I want to celebrate her and make a big deal, but there's a part of me that wants to keep everything just in our family too, so, typically, I'm not doing anything about it and will have to decide at the last minute, making whatever I do all the more stressful.  Anyway, life is good and I feel like I have many, many things to write about, but no time to do it yet.  Maybe when the kids are all in college I'll have a little time ...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bird on a Wire

Y'all, this morning I went for a little jog - 3 miles - and it was really a grind.  Last January, my husband and I ran a marathon - that would be 26.2 miles, and now it's a struggle to move my butt 3 miles.  Not too cool. But I'm still doing it, because if I stop, I'll never start again.  Have you ever let yourself get totally out of shape and then tried to start again?  It's hell.

It's really hell after you turn 30, as I found out when I decided to get back into shape several years ago.  I had been pretty fit during my late 20s, and then the day I found out I was pregnant with Finn I decided that I didn't need to bother with exercise for a while.  That little honeymoon lasted 4 years, since after he was born I was breastfeeding (love the weight-loss, eat all the cookies you want bonus of that!), then pregnant again with Gus, then breastfeeding again, then just too busy to exercise.  When Gus was about 2, Matt and I noticed that we had become very, very slack and could not run a mile even if there was a wild bear coming for us, so we hit the pavement.  It was so, so miserable and painful to bring our bodies back from the brink like that, that we have tried to stay somewhat in shape (sometimes more than other times) ever since.  With 40 looming like an exam you don't want to study for, I know that the next hiatus I take from exercise will be a permanent one.

Anyway, so I drag my body around, pushing Ruby in the stroller or, very occasionally, on my own, and I actually like it now, so that's a plus.  Today, I was alone - Ruby is starting at a little preschool and I had ONE free hour (!), so I got out my Ipod and hit it.  Where am I going with this?  Well, one of the songs that came up was Aaron Neville's version of Bird on a Wire, and it reminded me of an entry that I wrote on the blog that I kept while Matt and I were training for the marathon last winter.  You can read it right here.  That was before we had Ruby, and I remember having a very emotional breakdown on the run as I listened to the lyrics of that song.  I was thinking so much of my dad, who has lived with Parkinson's for 30 years and for whom we were running the marathon.  But it was January, and we had just passed our court date and knew that Ruby was our daughter, but we still had to wait 6 more weeks to go and get her.  It was so hard, knowing that she was there, not being loved by us, even though I knew she was being cared for and loved.  And I also felt (and still feel) brokenhearted for her to have lost so much already.  That's a loss that she will always carry in her life, no matter what we do or how happy and perfect the rest of her life turns out to be.  At the time, before knowing her like we do now could balance out the facts of her life up to that point, I think I was more focused on that sad year when she lost her family and suffered so much.  I had a lot of trouble with the fact that I could not protect one of my own children from sorrow, even though, obviously, without that sorrow she would never have been mine.  The lines of the song where he talks about things having been paid for always choke me up, because, as I wrote then about my dad, that's what we want to do for the people we love.  And sometimes we can, and sometimes we can't, but either way, you try and hope, fingers and toes crossed, that it's the effort that counts.
(Now go grab a kleenex and listen to some Aaron Neville!  Don't even get me started on "I Bid You Goodnight.")

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Football Season Is Finally Here!

Not that I really care about football at all, but it's a good season for me nonetheless.  Matt is a fanatical Philadelphia Eagles fan.  When I say fanatical, I mean that he spends vast amounts of time reading information about the team online (does this help the team?), he cannot watch games with other people (in case he has a little baby tantrum if the Eagles are not playing well), and he will do almost anything in order to be allowed the sizable chunk of time it takes to watch an entire football game.

Some women would let an opportunity like this pass them by.  They might think, my husband works so hard, surely he deserves to watch a few hours of football on the weekend without having to pay for it.  Not me.  While I agree that Matt works hard and is a good father, provider, husband, etc, I do not think it is reasonable to spend what actually amounts to one-fourth of the weekend watching car and erectile dysfunction commercials interspersed with a few moments of football.  I'm not even anti-football.  I think it's fine, and I'll watch a few minutes here and there.  I get the team loyalty and the interest in the backstories of the players and all that.  But I'm not one to let a golden opportunity pass me by.  Several years ago, when Finn was a baby and Matt and I realized that any free time either one of us wanted would have to be negotiated and paid for, I made a deal with Matt that has eternally paid great dividends.  The deal is that he can watch the game, or games, if games other than ones the Eagles are playing in are "important" to the Eagles (meaning that their standing in the division might possibly depend on the outcome of said other game), so long as he is dealing with the child(ren) during the hours of play.  That means I have at least half of the day, and often the whole day, to do as I please.  Sadly, "as I please" today meant dealing with the house, but I was actually very pleased to be able to do it in peace.

Over the years, Matt has become a master at entertaining the children without actually having to engage his brain, which is, of course, otherwise occupied.  We think the person who invented Candyland (was Milton Bradley a person?) was either an idiot or a genius, because if you play a whole game and you do actually engage your brain, you might throw yourself out a window before you round into Peppermint Paradise.  For a while, puzzles were Matt's tool of choice, and I would come home from a long walk with a friend to find 17 puzzles laid out on the floor, the children clamoring for me to admire each one while Matt sprawled happily on the couch.  Now the boys create giant lego things with a little guidance from the father figure, or they bring every stuffed animal they own into the living room and make a practically life-sized zoo for them with blocks and pillows.  It's literally the only time I see Matt truly working on his multi-tasking skills, as he keeps up a stream of encouraging murmurs to direct the children in their activity while he keeps track of the main event.  Ruby has thrown a bit of a wrench into the situation, but Matt is handling it well.  It turns out he can read books without actually looking at them, and it's not like Ruby cares, she's just happy to be part of the football party.  So we're all happy on football Sundays, win or lose, because we all have a few hours to do exactly what we want.

Now if only the Eagles could make it to the post-season this year ...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zen and the Art of Housekeeping

So, the boys are back in school and happy as can be, and you would think I would have more time on my hands to get organized, update the blog, keep the house clean, and all of that.  But, instead, I find myself in a constant state of chaos, with fifteen minutes here and there between dropping off at school, trips to Target to pick up soccer gear, parent meetings, and on and on and on.  Plus, now it's just me and Ruby at home, so whenever we are here, I have a little shadow following me around the house getting into trouble.  Right now she's sitting on the floor beside me with my coffee cup, eating ice from the bottom (since I can never finish a cup of coffee, I have to convert it to iced coffee halfway through, and as soon as Ruby sees me do that, she starts demanding "i-ee" until it's all gone).  So nothing is really getting done, but I'm trying to be at peace with it.  This morning in carpool I discussed with the boys (Finn, Gus and our carpool buddy Owen) the concept of Zen.  I told them that if we could achieve zen in the morning carpool (rather than the usual mayhem of shoes being thrown about, hair being pulled, threats being made (by me)), we would all enjoy a happier day.  They didn't know what zen was, and I admit I'm a little fuzzy on the actual concept, but I suggested that we could only achieve it through quiet, and it actually worked, at least until we arrived at school and all three boys wanted to be first out of the car, meaning they had to pile onto one another to get out.  Oh well.

As for me, I don't know if zen would help me not be anxious when I look out into our back yard and see weeds and massive shrub overgrowth taking over everywhere.  Or when I walk through the playroom to get something out of the downstairs freezer and see every single lego we own covering the floor in a sea of disorganization.  Is this discomfort with disorganization something that just comes on as women age?  I know that in college I was a big slob, letting my half of a tiny dorm room go native until either parents' weekend or the end of school was approaching.  I'm thinking it must be an evolutionary urge, making women - especially mother-women - crazy at the sight of something out of control the way our playroom or shoe area seems to always be.  As if I could finally "get everything organized and keep it that way"(my ultimate desire), then everything would be perfect.  I think I like car trips for this very reason - I can get everything packed and organized in the back of the car and, because it's such a small little universe, I can maintain that order by tidying everything each day.  Plus, in the case of a car trip, the children are literally restrained in car seats and cannot disrupt the order I have imposed in the car.  Ahem.  Controlling much?  I know, it's true.  But I'm just saying that I would like life to be like that, not that I actually achieve it or even try very hard.  Instead of cleaning and organizing, Ruby and I spend our mornings on walks, doing errands, making cupcakes or playing with little friends.  And then I have a little moment of panic when I think of all the tasks I didn't get done all day, but by that time it's usually too late to do anything about it, so a nice glass of red wine takes care of it.  Zen or wine, whatever works.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

always seems to wear me out.  Why do I seem to take the name literally?  Anyway, we're tired but had a good weekend, and now I'm going to bed.  More tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Healthy Baby Dance

Okay everybody (and self), everything is fine.  Ruby is fine (although I did have to rush her to the weekend peds clinic on Sunday when she was gasping for air, but that was a bad case of croup, so unrelated to our near-death experience).  I now need to convince myself that danger is not lurking around every corner and move on.  I have been having unsettling flashbacks to the whole event, and I keep thinking about what I would be doing right now if something really awful had happened.

Helping with the whole moving-on process is that Ruby is such a funny little doll.  We've been out and about so much these last few days with back to school stuff, sports for the boys, birthday parties, and she is such a little socialite.  She can be throwing a no-holds barred tantrum in the car, but the minute we get into a crowd, she's all shy smiles and coy glances.  After a few minutes of that, she moves on to walking around, checking out new people, and, of course, looking for snacks.  I will say that Ruby's interest in food has definitely calmed down quite a bit (and this whole low iron finding has made me rethink the compulsive eating in the first place - could it be that she was like pregnant women who eat dirt and other oddities in an effort to get enough iron - pica?).  Now when we're at home she often chews up a bite of something and then chucks it on the ground if it's not tasty enough, so I would say she is your basic American toddler.  In new settings, however, she definitely appeases anxiety by trying to eat.  Or by trying to drink any juicebox within a ten mile radius.  When I had her at the pediatrician with the croup, and she was tossing around ideas of where Ruby might have picked it up, I had a distinct memory of a recent playground party during which I saw Ruby on the make with at least 10 different juiceboxes.  I didn't mention that to the doctor, but I think Ruby and I both knew the score.  But overall I am so happy that she seems to have replaced her food attachment with her family.

On another note, Ruby seems to have kicked out all of her uninvited gastrointestinal guests, and with the extra iron she's taking, we're down to very few diapers over here.  Major plus.  She has actually been pretty healthy in that regard for a while, but people keep asking me how she is doing, so I didn't want people to think that she is still having diarrhea constantly - not a very lovely image.

As Ruby's general health has improved, her hair has been growing like crazy.  When we wash it, the curls hang down to her shoulders - so cute!  I have so many thoughts about the whole hair issue, and I find it interesting that people are so curious about it - as I was.  I will write more on that topic soon, but for now I will just say that I feel like her growing hair is such a good sign of a healthy baby.

So, as you can see, I'm ticking off all of these things to reassure myself that "everything is fine."  Ruby is okay, better than okay, and we're great.  It's just been a long week, and after six months where things happened pretty slowly, a trip to the ER and an acute case of croup within three days of each other was a lot to deal with.  I think we're making up for all of the months she wasn't with us, though, and I've been thinking that nursing a sick little baby is definitely a bonding experience.  Finn was sick all the time when he was a baby, so there were so many nights of worry and trying to comfort him when he was burning up with fever and couldn't breathe.  It was awful, and we were always exhausted, but we also were putting into action the bottomless love we felt for him.  When we heard the first lovely croup cough issue out of Ruby's mouth, we realized that we were going to be in for a few sleepless nights, and Matt's comment was, typically, very patient.  He said he guessed that we owe her a few nights, since we missed so many.  And it was good, because on Sunday night, sleeping on the floor next to Ruby's crib, listening for her to breathe in and out for hours, I realized that we really were "there" with her in ways that I hadn't realized.  All of that stuff about adjusting and her hair and language skills and every other little detail that I've thought about in the last six months are these objective things that I can think and talk about, but now, to me, she is really just my child, and I love that.  That love you have as a parent is so amazing, because you can see certain things about your child - they are good at sports, or introverted or pretty or not as pretty as the others or they struggle with math or can't ever remember where their shoes are or may have to be held back in school, or whatever, but none of it has any impact on how much you love them.  You just do, and all of that other stuff is separate (even though it can sometimes drive you crazy).  So it was good to realize that I just do love Ruby like that now, since when someone plops a 16 month old baby in your arms, the details are what you (or at least I) tend to focus on.  You know you will love this child, but at first she's a little mystery that you're trying to unlock so you can figure out how to love this child and how to make her love you.  Anyway, as with most things, it all happened while I wasn't paying attention to it, so a night or two on the floor or a few hours at the ER is not the highest price to pay for the realization.  And now that I've had it, we can all stay healthy for a while, right?

First meeting, six months ago.

Now, just one of the gang, looking for frogs.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Inhale, Exhale, Rinse, Repeat

I am so glad that tomorrow begins a new week.  A week of first soccer practices, back to school nights, planning meetings, play dates, homework and trips to the grocery store.  Those are good.  In the meantime, here are some good recent pictures of our happy little troop of troublemakers.

Gus' first day of Jr K - Ruby trying to go with him.

Walking in the woods.

Playing peek-a-boo!

Finn tried to teach Ruby & Gus how to play War, but they didn't exactly get it!