Wednesday, August 31, 2011

When Did They Get So BIG?

Lincoln has decided the high chair is for babies.  He needs to sit at the big boy table.  And, in fact, he is almost as much of a big boy as his big brother.  And he makes The Face.

Here you can see Linc's Face.  
And Sawyer's. 

He's huge!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Painting Jellyfish

Hey, remember a few months back when I said I was going to have a contest for my blog followers?  It was kind of embarrassing.  The contest basically is that whenever I get to 150 followers, I'm going to give away one of my paintings.  I was all excited, though I admittedly hadn't painted anything yet.  So (and here's the embarrassing part) when I got more followers, but only like ten, and was still really far from 150, I just let it go.  I don't mean I'm not doing the contest--I just stopped mentioning it because there was still no painting.

Guess what?  I have good news on a few fronts.  The first is that due mostly to my Facebook page, I have gained like 15 followers in the past week or two.  And the even better news?  I am painting right now!  Look forward to a photo in a few days.  To enter?  Simply use the "Follow" box in the sidebar.  Once I hit 150, I'll do a drawing and every one of you will be entered.  If you want the contest to finish sooner, shoot a link up on your Facebooks and Twitters and Thingamajiggers to your friends, coworkers, and those people you don't really know on social media.

I also added a new tab up on the top toolbar.  It's called "Shop."  I have a number of paintings and crafty things that I either can't use or don't think really fits into our house.  Whenever I have something for sale, I'll make a note here and you can check to see photos and prices and contact me if you are interested in buying!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sawyer On: Bathroom Courtesy

I can't believe I am posting this.  But it's too funny.  Yesterday, this was overheard while someone (not mentioning any names, Lincoln) was using the bathroom and Saw was hanging out in there.

S:  Could you do another courtesy flush?

It's Monday! (And I'm Ok with That.)

I probably shouldn't jinx it by talking about it, but today has been a really nice day.  I'm thankful just generally that my kids are (mostly) not sick.  Linc has been on pinkeye meds for a few days and it's cleared up.  Sawyer seems back to normal and every now and then has a crazy hacking spell, but is feeling good.  We actually got out of the house and used a Groupon I bought forever ago for Pump It Up, one of those jumpy places.  Monkey Joes is definitely the best of its kind, but Pump It Up was decidedly less shabby than Bounce U.

I think we may venture to the gym later--gasp!--the first time since Saw has been sick or since i've hurt my shoulder.  I actually didn't think I could get a sports bra on, and finally I can.  I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow for ultrasound therapy, but I turned a corner and have almost full mobility and much less pain.  Yay!  Fingers crossed I can play the last two games of my season.

And then after that, because I have total baby fever, we are thinking about expanding.

Eeek!  I know it's kind of bad form to talk about getting pregnant before you are.  What happens if you tell people and then don't get pregnant right away is this:

You are waiting to find out if you are pregnant.  You take a test, but it's too early, so you buy like 8 more.  Friends start asking if you're pregnant, and then you take 7 more tests and decide it's still too early, wait 3 days and then take the last test.  It's negative.  5 minutes later you get your period.   10 minutes later 50 of your Facebook friends ask if you're pregnant yet and then you have to say no, which makes it even MORE disappointing that you're not because you have to then listen to people quoting cheerful Bible verses at you, or being genuinely sweet and nice--all of which kind of makes you feel worse.  Then you wait til next month and go through the same cycle again.  Only every month after that, people start kind of asking in a way like they're concerned, or in a pitying voice, and then 18 people you know get pregnant so you start freaking out and researching in vitro.

This is not to make you feel bad if you've quoted Bible verses or asked friends if they are pregnant.  It's just to say that something that is so personal and can be so privately painful is really hard to share publicly, especially your first pregnancy.  (So before you think about trying, think CAREFULLY about who you share the news with.)  No matter what people say, it's hard and can sometimes come across wrong.  That's how I felt when we were trying with Sawyer.  We waited nine months for him, and I was just about to hit the doctor to make sure things were okay, but was also getting peaceful that if God didn't want us to have babies, we'd be fine.  During that time, not many people knew or were asking, but it was STILL hard.

So, um, why am I saying it publicly here?  I've been pretty open that we were waiting for derby to be over so I could have ONE season without a baby in there.  I also share pretty much everything here, and am less sensitive now about getting pregnant because I have two healthy, happy boys.  I would be sad if for some reason we couldn't, but I wouldn't be as sad as if we did NOT have a great family already.  I also feel that I have really come to the understanding that you can't take getting pregnant for granted.  I know so many people who have struggled and had heartache through the process or have had one or multiple miscarriages.  There are just so many things that could happen.  At this point, I feel content to trust in God's plan--whether that be a sudden baby, a long wait, or just my two boys.  Either way, I'll be sharing here along the way.

Wow, what was this blog post about again?

Maybe I'll start a new post called the Monday Ramble, because that's really what this turned into.  I think I started out saying today was a good day.  It is.  It has been.  No case of the Mondays here!  But clearly no logical thought processes either.

I like goat cheese.  I'm on a horse.

Discussion Today!

I'm just about to post the discussion for today on I Still Hate Pickles Facebook page.  Come join in the talk about the best and worst kid's shows!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where Reading Carries Me

I had a stolen morning with a book.  Strangely guilty--shouldn't I be in Sunday School?--as Sawyer is with my parents, Lincoln at church with Rob.  I will meet them all there in an hour in a cushioned row of chairs.  But for a few moments with my coffee and hymns playing,  I read, curled up in a chair.  Surprised by how many years can pass in a few moments.  In the pages children are being born and growing and their parents struggle with dreams: their own and those of their sons and daughters.

Every experience has changed now with children.  I cannot enjoy certain movies anymore:  there is real fear for lives somehow more important than my own.  Horrors that I could stomach when all I had to think about was myself.  Now I must turn away when there are only too-imaginable sufferings.  Sometimes, more than simply horrors, the passage of time and the growing of children is too much for me to bear.  It is this fear, the loss of time, with its hands at my throat this morning, coloring my otherwise sweet stolen moment.

I am reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter.  Haunted by the image of the transparent gown on the cover for years in bookstores, I finally picked it up at the Goodwill.  This morning in the space of a half-hour, I read of children growing into adulthood and the fractures of marriages built on secrets and vicarious crushed hopes.  I have lost the real sense of the novel itself and instead found my own life in it.

I ride on a train that inches forward moment by moment with the clack and rumble of the rails.  Not a fast train--it only seems so when I think of how far I have come, how far away recent memories seem.  I don't know where it takes me and don't fear that.  What I fear suddenly this morning, is the way each moment is lost to me.  There, there! Another point in time behind me, one second, one minute.  I have passed them by and they are now lost.  We will not double back on this train or make the same stops again--we only move forward toward an end in the rails that I cannot see.

Even those tiny, shimmering seconds that otherwise seems so insignificant: Lincoln's first word of the morning as I opened his door today,  "Ma."  A small hand grasping my own and tugging me to the kitchen, tile cold on my feet.  A kiss from Rob in the driveway and the smell of his clean shirt.  Sawyer on the phone, sounding so far away:  "Mommy?"

It is these moments, the ones that will not be captured in an album somewhere, will maybe not be remembered and recounted in years to come--these moments I feel are lost behind me.  I am suddenly nostalgic and mournful at their passage, and desperate to relish each one.  I want to examine each, to slow the forward motion.  To take something like a photograph that would capture it with all of my senses:  the sound, the sight, the taste, the smell, the feel.

There is no such thing.  Suddenly from the pages of this book where children can grow within minutes of my reading, I see my life and my children's lives passing just that quickly.  I don't want to miss them or to forget one brief moment.  I can't hold them here or stop the constant forward motion of time.  I can only try to remember the cascade of seconds and minutes and hours and to be fully alive in each.  Not one second of life is insignificant, and no sooner has each come than it stretches out behind.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vicarious Skating

I've been off my skates for a week now (but with sudden improvement--I can even wash my left armpit!!) and so naturally I had to buy some for the boys.  Okay, I didn't really plan it, but I found two matching sets of Diego skates for $3 each at the Goodwill.  The boys are really great--as long as they don't leave the carpet.  Whenever they tried to leave the carpet, they ended up with bruised tailbones and head bumps.  Sorry these turned out blurry.  The boys are too fast!

Sawyer jumping.

Tired of skating.

Star jumps!

Gotta love his uniform.

It's Hard with Boys

Or even multiple people.  I don't mean life; I mean taking a photo with everyone looking at the camera.
Or not looking crazy, Lincoln. 

Or blinking and coughing.  Come on, guys.  Really?

Or flying and looking down. 

Or, looking up.  (When I said, "Sawyer's an airplane," Linc looked for planes.)

Oh, my photogenic boys. 

Waiting for Irene

I have that creepy fear/dread/excitement thing going on about Hurricane Irene.  Hurricanes are devastating, but there it gets all that adrenaline flowing.  We're praying for the people and places in the path, and some of our good friends Ginny&Mark set up a webcam that's looking out their window in Newport News, VA.  Right now it's so dark that you can just see a few porch lights in the distance, but if you want to follow along, click HERE to watch!  Take care, everyone, and we will see you on the other side.

If you want a recap of us during Hurricane Ike, click HERE and read the posts surrounding.  So long ago!

Saturday Morning

Imagine with me for a few moments, if you will.

You wake up with a spike of pain in your head.  Everything is foggy.  It takes you a moment to get your bearings, but as you do, you register a queasy rumbling in your stomach.  A sour taste on your tongue, which feels cracked and dried.  In short: a really terrible hangover.  

Your phone is buzzing from somewhere.  As you sit up, everything in the room seems to lilt, and your stomach rolls.  You hold your hand over your mouth and somehow manage not to vomit.  A noise to your right startles you:  there is someone next to you in bed.  As he rolls over, you realize that you have no idea who he is.  

You freeze, but his eyes stay closed.  The face is totally unfamiliar and a sense of dread and slow panic overshadows the headache and nausea.  

Inch by inch, you make your way out of bed, trying not to wake him.  In the bathroom, your phone is almost out of batteries, on the floor by the toilet.  Before it totally dies you read a few of your messages.

From your best friend:  U make it home?

From your bank:  Your account has been overdrawn. Please contact us for account details and related surcharges.

From a coworker:  I don't know if you've seen, but there are some photos online you might want to take down.  I don't know if the boss has seen them yet.  Watch your head.

With each, your stomach clenches.  A sheen of sweat breaks out on your face and you feel suddenly impossibly hot.  Your stomach rolls and you barely get your head over the toilet lid to throw up.  The burn of stomach acid on your throat,  sickly sweet taste in your mouth.  

Your back is drenched with sweat and you lean up against the wall by the toilet, pressing your pounding temples.  You cannot still the shaking in your hands or the hot tears spilling down your face.  What happened last night?  Who is the man in your bed?  

You remember a bar, shots, laughing.  Getting kicked out of the bar, then another.  The beach, sand cool on your feet and stars blurring overhead.  Driving--yes, you were driving--and then...what?  A few blurry sounds and images:  a siren's wail.  Blue lights.  Running barefoot.  Another bottle on your lips.  Then: a blacked-out blur.

You need water, coffee.  A place that's dark to lie down until the shaking and nausea passes.  But then you will be sober, left to deal with the stranger in your bed, your precarious finances, whatever photos have made their way online.  Finding your car.  

You swore last week that it was the last time.  That you could handle this, keep your life under control, stop the spiral and the slow burn of the important things in your life.

This is a private moment in the life of someone with serious substance abuse problems.  Someone in need of real help--and quickly.

Or, it's simply the story played out in Katy Perry's song "Last Friday Night."

I found myself absently humming along to a bright, chipper melody a few weeks ago as I was driving.  And then I listened to the lyrics and was sort of shocked by the disparity.  If you hear the song, it sounds like summer:  light, fun, cheerful.  A party anthem.  Definitely aimed at the teenage crowd (and above) and played on their stations.  The story is exactly what I've written above (though my depiction leaves a lot out), but the difference is that Perry leaves a haunting commentary:  "It's a blacked-out blur but I'm pretty sure it ruled."

I don't want to pick on Katy Perry, because honestly, there are so many songs with terrible messages aimed at young people.  Don't even get me started on Kesha.  What really bothered me about Katy Perry's song is the dissonance between the musical stylings and the reality of the lyrics.  The song is so stinking happy.  But waking up not knowing what you have done, a stranger in your bed, a maxed out credit card, incriminating photos online, and a warrant out for your arrest does not, in fact, rule.

At least Kesha is honest and the lyrics and music and her persona all fit together:  she's dirty and doesn't care.  "Last Friday Night" got under my skin because of the way that it couches something really dark and serious in a light, fun package, complete with chanting:  "TGIF!"

I don't typically rant about music, but this song really bugged me.  Again, it's not the only song and it's not the worst.  But I hate the way it downplays someone bottoming out.  I hate the cheer and the pep and the clean cuteness, and the lame 80s saxophone solo in the middle.

You know what?  It made me really kind of nostalgic for Rebecca Black's "Friday." (The topic for discussion today on the Facebook page.)  Annoying?  Yes.  But the largest problem was whether to kick it in the front or back seat.

Friday, August 26, 2011

If I Had a Girl...

...she would look like this?  Long, nappy purple hair, chatting into the phone.

Gammy's Home!

My mom came home from Virginia early to avoid the hurricane.  We are excited to have her--some  more than others.

M:  Gammy's coming over!
S:  That makes me want to shake my booty!

Casual Friday

R:  Daddy's going to work!
M: I think you need to put pants on.
R: It's casual Friday.

So THAT'S how it is in our family.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Raining! (Or, It Rained.)

Last night a lovely storm rolled in that sent us on the front porch to watch and sent Tex cowering into Sawyer's closet.  This morning it was still (or again?) raining and Lincoln ran outside in his pjs to dance. The kid gets sheer JOY from rain.  I didn't catch any great shots of that on my camera, sadly.  But you can imagine.

Because the plants need watering in the rain.

I just missed the real smile.  

Again, didn't quite capture the dancing in the rain. But it happened!

We are thankful for a little bit of rain here in Houston!

You Know You're a Parent When...

You find an old, dried up piece of poop in the floor and, instead of being surprised, you think, "Oh.  There's a piece of poop in the floor."

(You know you have at least two kids when you then think, "I'll come back and pick that up later,"  but then forget until you are writing a blog post about it.)

Today's Discussion: Homeschool

I'm going to start posting questions for discussion on the Facebook page, because it's easier to discuss via that format of comments than here in the comments.  Most of the discussions will eventually feed into a blog post.  If you want to take part, you simply have to "Like" the page and then you can see the question. I know there are tons of homeschool people out there, and I know so little about it.  Come discuss HERE.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sawyer On: Chinese Food

M: Do you want Chinese for dinner?
S: Yes.
M: What kind do you want?
S: The brown ones.
M: ......

I Say That?

Sometimes I don't realize that I say things until I hear Sawyer saying them.  Like, banging on a toy that wasn't doing what he wanted:  "Dangit.  Stupid thing."

Little kids are like a vocal mirror.  Heard anything parroted back from your kids lately??

Laughter and La-La's

I get home to double pinkeye--or quadruple if we are counting each eye--and Lincoln with a fever.  Saw is acting like he has an ear infection, just being whiny and cranky and bursting into tears every second.  You know what?  It's okay!  I just had three days off!  I can handle pink-eye and cranky!  (I should stop now before I get sent something worse...)  I'm glad to be home.  I had fun today with the boys.  The highlight was when we were in the car and Sawyer starting singing, "La la la la!" This made Lincoln laugh, which egged Sawyer on, so he kept on, louder and louder and laughing at Lincoln and Lincoln was laughing and La-la-ing and so I started singing "Deck the Halls." It was a wonderful and fun moment.

Here are some fun pictures of Lincoln wearing Uncle Geoff's shoes and hanging onto his feet.

Have I mentioned that Linc has a shoe thing?

Lincoln's having a blast.  Tex is getting scared by the rain-less storm.

Aw!  Uncle love!
Copying whatever Geoff did.  Impressionable little fellow.

Goofy Faces

I like these crazy faces.  Oddly, Lincoln looks JUST LIKE ME when I was this age.  I'll have to scan in a photo.  It's creeping me out.

Introverts, Extroverts & Parenting

If you are not following my I Still Hate Pickles page on Facebook, you are missing out on great discussion opportunities, which I will be utilizing more.  Click HERE to join in on a discussion about whether you think parenting is easier for introverts or extroverts.  You can also join in by the little Facebook widget in the right column.

Pinkeye and Puke

I promise I am not complaining.  I am simply recording and sharing the hilarity of my re-entry to home.  I got home just before nap time, and Linc gave me a big kiss, whereby I could see that what I suspected to be pinkeye in Sawyer before I left was now pinkeye in Lincoln.

Then Sawyer flipped out about going to sleep for his nap and made himself cry, then coughed so hard that the threw up all over my teddy bear, which he asked to sleep with.  If my bear weren't 33-years old, this wouldn't be such a big deal.  I washed him in the sink and now he's drying on the clothesline.

It was still an absolutely happy and wonderful moment to reunited with all of my boys, despite the reality of parenthood.  I would have been shocked had everything been perfect. And really, on the scale of things, pinkeye and a little vomit aren't so bad.

A Few Birds to Warm the House

I wanted to leave a gift for Eric since he gave me some really nice space and let me dirty up every coffee mug and eat those delicious crackers in the back of the fridge.  And finish off the doubleshots and maybe a few of those lemon waters.  See? I needed to leave a gift.  Hopefully he won't see this online before he gets home.

My camera never captures the right colors, and this would really look better hanging, but I'm not about to start hanging things on the walls here.  It's not what I set out to paint, but I'm kinda happy with how it turned out and think it will fit in nicely.  There are already some wooden owls here to keep these guys company.  Thanks and hope you enjoy, Eric!

Mommy Vacay or Writer's Retreat?

I had two things in mind when I planned this little vacay.  The first was a chance to have some space and recoup after an intense summer as a mother.  Summers will always be intense when Rob works at the church doing youth stuff.  Summertime for youth is like crack and Rob is the dealer.  Wait--that doesn't even make sense.  I'm tired.

The second reason was to work on my novel.  You know, the one I mention every now and then on here?  The one I haven't finished yet?  That one.  I always have heard of writers taking retreats.  There are places you can pay to do this--not like a hotel.  Like an actual retreat for writers.  Or you can just rent a hotel.  I've always wanted one of those.  So when my friend Eric said his apartment needed a sitter, it was (instant and FREE) writer's retreat!

I mentioned offhand to Rob that I might get the novel finished in these three (two and a half) days.  I was really hopeful.  If not finishing, I thought I'd work really hard and come close, or have something to work with, something that someone else could finally see.  I mean, the thing is 285 pages--how much more work could there be?

You see where this is heading, right?  Right down in flames.

Okay, maybe it's not that bad.  It was very productive, sitting down and reading the whole thing. I could see where I have edited sections like 5-6 times.  I could see the place I stopped working before Linc was born, and then where I picked up again after he was born, and then where I stopped again.  There were huge fissures and seams showing.  In addition, most of the writing is really basic and boring, there is not enough action, and several key components are totally missing.  In fact, I really only like one chapter in the whole thing, and that's because that chapter was part of the original short story that sparked this whole thing, and I've edited that section probably like 30 times.

The good news is I'm not going to burn it.  And while eating Shiner Bock ice cream at Amy's Ice Cream today (ohmygosh it was amazing), I thought it through and figured out how to plug up the holes.  I found some missing characters, maybe a new ending, and a whole lotta action.  The writing part (making it not so first-grader-y) will come as I write and edit.  But now I think I FINALLY know where I'm going, and that's important.

How long will it take me to really finish?  Who the heck knows.  This was definitely an important time, and while I did mention how lonely my solitude is, I think tiny mini-retreats will be helpful as I work to get that big picture look I need without interruption.  Maybe not a three-day retreat.  Maybe just a day at home while the kids play with Rob or the grandparents.  Or a day holed up in a Borders coffee shop somewhere.

I got a lot done, but I wish there weren't so much left to do.

Solitude after Children Feels...Weird

I am at the last night of my three-day Mommy Vacay.  Of course I'm staying up past midnight--I'm still me!  The difference is I can sleep maybe til like 8am.  Then again, I'm so excited to see the boys, I might wake up at 6 and start driving.

As I'm sitting in this empty apartment that does not belong to me, I'm realizing something:  time alone never feels the same after you have children.

Before kids, time alone was normal.  I didn't think much about it.  I definitely took it for granted.  Every now and then in college, when surrounded with roommates in dorms full of people, I needed to have a night in.  I would lock my door and paint or read or write.  It was always available to me, so I didn't think about it much.

Before you have children, time alone is simply normal.  Whether you are single, married, have a roommate, or live alone.  Even if it's just going in the bathroom, you can grab a few minutes to yourself. This does not seem luxurious to you in any way until you've tried to go to the bathroom alone only to find one or two children grabbing onto your ankles.  With kids, every moment by yourself is an odd kind of indulgence, because it's not the norm.

Though indulgent and luxurious, time alone now also feels very empty.  I've had a great time watching movies, reading, painting and just doing whatever I want to do all day every day for the past few.  I've made great strides on my novel.  I had fun.  I feel rested.

But being alone nowadays feels wrong.  It feels too still, too empty.  There are supposed to be voices, people, faces.  Chaos.  There is a loneliness now that I didn't have before. (As a side note, being alone felt different after I got married.  But because my kids depend so completely on me at this age, there is more of a palpability to their presence.)  When I am alone, it's the exception, not the norm.  There is an echo in here.  While time like this is luxurious and I enjoyed myself, it does not have the same easy feeling of pleasure.  There is something missing.  To be more exact:  three someones.  And a dog.

I think it's about time to head home and fill that space back up again.  Alone time is great and wonderful and I'm thankful for these few days.  I think from now on, though, I'll just take little doses.  It's way too quiet by myself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of School: Just Two Years Away

Today, Facebook filled up with first day of school photos.  From Kindergarten to high school, parents were posting pictures of their babies going off on their own.  It freaked me out and I'm two years away.

I had a really lovely perspective moment recently with one of my fellow derby moms, Shank.  Her daughter started Kindergarten today.  The night beforehand, she told me that it was so hard because she always wanted to stay at home full time, but that didn't work out.  And now, officially, she was losing the time to just be at home with her kids all day.  Or to decide that today was going to be an impromptu beach day with the kids.  From now on, things will be different.

I had already been thinking about how wild it is that my boys are growing up. Two years until Kindergarten sounds like a long time, but I know it will feel like minutes.  And it seems to me that once kids start school, time rushes headlong until you're suddenly in an empty nest.  I want to enjoy this time with them home alone.  Sawyer will be in a three-day preschool soon and Linc a two-day, so that leaves just a few days a week to really love every minute of my time with them as little boys.  All too soon, I know it will be over.

I'm still on Mommy vacay, and this is making me want to drive home right now and climb in bed with them.

Mommy Vacay Day 1, by the Numbers

Number of

Novels Finished: 2
Pages of My Novel Edited: 138
Pages of My Novel Left to Edit:  149
Hours I Stayed in the Same Pajamas: 22
Hours I Went without Seeing Another Person: 22
Movies Watched: 2.5
Bottles of Wine Ingested: 1/2
Cartons of Ice Cream Eaten: 1/3
Paintings Finished: 4

While I may have become a greasy mess sitting on the couch all day while wearing pajamas from last night, I got a lot done, yes?  My goal is to finish editing the manuscript.  I think I'm burned out on reading for now, but have high hopes to finish the wine and ice cream.

Mommy Gets a Vacay

It's weird.  I haven't spoken in like two hours.  No, wait--I did pray out loud.  Which sounded creepy in this empty apartment.  I have changed no diapers, gotten no sweet kisses, and have not seen another person yet today.

Mommy's on vacation!  

Well, a working vacation.  Things worked out for me to take a few days away to Austin.  A friend needed an apartment-sitter and I needed some time to recoup after the summer, to rest my shoulder (which is still really painful--boo), and hopefully to work heavily on my novel.  So far, I've eaten out, watched movies, read some of my manuscript draft, finished a novel, painted, and really really really missed my boys.

I called Rob this morning and we had to stop talking because Sawyer just started wailing, "I miss my mooooommmmmyyy!"  That was really hard to hear.  It made me want to jump in my car right now and head home.  I'm trying to keep it in perspective.  I don't usually get a chance like this, and I do want to use it.  I am enjoying it, but the enjoyment is colored totally by missing the boys and thinking about getting back to them.  It's good to miss people.  

Anyway, I'm going to work on my book, so blog posting will be light.  I have some interesting post ideas dealing with Zombies and Jesus, and maybe will take photos of food I eat or things I do here in Austin when I'm not working.  

My Morning Hair will also be light, but I'll put up a few photos later.  For now you can see who won Awesomely Bad Hair of the Week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vote for Awesomely Bad Hair of the Week!

You have until Monday to vote for this week's Awesomely Bad Hair over at My Morning Hair.  There were some really lovely examples this week, so please go check them out and vote!  You can find the survey HERE.

I appreciate all the support and the photos!  Keep them coming!

Roller Derby Is a Pain

Most of the time, derby is a great way to round out my experience as a mom.  It gives me exercise, camaraderie, a brief escape from the house, and some serious fun.  Then there are the times when it is a pain.  Literally.

At practice Thursday, I took an odd hit that sent me crying to the floor.  There was this intense pain in my shoulder, which turns out to be (the doctors think) a tear in the ligaments of my ac joint.  I don't even know what that is, but it's located in the top of my shoulder and hurts like a mother.  (Why is that even a phrase?)

Derby is now making motherhood (and hygiene) very hard.  I can barely change a diaper.  I can only use my left arm to pick kids up.  Random movements hurt when I don't expect, so just keeping up with the kids  in general is challenging.  Getting dressed takes help from Rob.  As of this morning, I can put my hair in a ponytail (which is a plus since Rob is not the best at ponytails), but I can't wash both armpits and for sure can't shave.  So I am in pain, grumpy, depressed I can't skate in the bout tonight, and also smell.

I have more mobility today than yesterday, so that is a good thing, but it's still excruciatingly painful when I move certain ways. The doctor said not to baby it so that I don't end up with frozen shoulder, which sounds bad.  I am hopeful that it's just a small tear and will heal quickly (this is what the doctor thinks) because if it's not better in a week or so, it means MRI to see how bad the tear is an possibly surgery.  Eek!

When you're a mom, derby injuries knock you out of playing, which stinks, but make home life really challenging.  My trip away tomorrow could NOT have come at a better time.  I'm going to hope and pray I can at least pick up my kids when I get home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Tiny Ray of Hope...and Thanks

In all my complaining this week about Saw's sickness and my worn-out-ness, I have not pointed out all the help I've had from my family.  My parents watched Saw the other day so I could work out and take a nap, then they came over last night so I could go out to derby and have some fun and exercise.  Rob took the night shift last night so I could have a night with more than one uninterrupted hour of sleep.  I think I actually slept for 6 hours!  4 in a row and 2 in a row.  Not wonderful, but much better than 6 hours with 6-7 wakeups during that time.  I am still zonked, but feel like a human.  Rob's parents will be hanging out with Linc after school and both boys tonight so I can hit up derby again.

AND...I had a friend in Austin that needs a house-sitter (or, more of a plant-waterer) that coincides nicely with the early part of next week. So I plan to take a little mommy-vacay that's much-needed after this summer and write, write, write while holed up in an empty apartment.

Thanks to all the help I've had and the offers of help.  Now if someone could just make Sawyer better, that would be great.

It Is Good to Be a Sheep

I've been trying to read a Psalm a day, and yesterday was Psalm 23.  This is probably the most famous Psalm, the one everyone knows.  It feels kind of cliched to say that it brought me comfort in the midst of this tough week.  But it did.  I wanted to share a bit about why it's good to be a sheep in God the Shepherd's care.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

What better shepherd could there be?  And this is personal; I've heard before that shepherd's in that day knew their sheep by sight and name.  He is a personal shepherd to me.  I'm not just another sheep in the herd.  Because he is my shepherd, I shall not lack for anything.  He will meet my needs and answer my cries for help.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  

The places he leads me are safe.  Even though I often run from rest, he MAKES me rest in good places. He provides for my needs with safe pasture, still waters.  There is peace and contentment in His provision.

3 He restores my soul.

Surpassing just the physical, He offers restoration to my soul.  There are two restorations offered: the restoration when we first come to God, broken and lost, and are reconciled to God through Jesus--that restores our place in relationship with God that was lost because of sin.  The second is the restoration when we have been in relationship with him, but have rebelled or just sort of drifted away.  I felt a real need for restoration, and the peace that comes from it when I read this.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I haven't been walking in the valley of the shadow of death this week, just maybe a valley of normal proportions.  But I don't need to fear either--for He is WITH ME.  Not just up on some far-off throne watching and offering distant help.  He is present with me as I walk, wherever I walk.  The rod of protection and the staff by which he leads offer comfort--He will guide me and protect me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; 

There may be enemies afoot, but I have no need for fear.  In front of them, God lays out a banqueting table.  Kind of a weird image, but it makes me think of ultimate protection.  If you have something to fear from enemies, you run, you hide, you fight.  You don't sit down and eat right in front of them.  Unless, of course, you know they cannot harm you.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

An honored guest is anointed.  Thus again, I am not just a nameless sheep in a herd.  God knows me and cares for me and offers me the blessing of an honored guest.  He gives without measure, so that my cup overflows.

6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

God's goodness and mercy will be always with me in this life, and in the next, I shall dwell in the house of God.  Not just his barn.  Not his field.  His HOUSE.  From the beginning of the Psalm to the end, I have been moved from a sheep to a member of His family member.  There is no end on forever and my place there is secure.

It's no surprise that this is the most comforting Psalm in the Bible.  This isn't even a scholarly look at it--there are whole books that pull out more meaning.  My little glance showed so much that I have to be thankful for, so much I can take comfort in with my little sorrows.  And you know what?  I think that Psalm 23 shows something amazing--God cares about those little sorrows because He cares about ME.

Kind of makes it hard to have a bad day.

The Face of This Week

I don't know how, but Sawyer is STILL running a fever.  It keeps ebbing away, then coming persistently back. He is pitiful, lying around the house saying, "Mommy, I still don't feel good."  My poor, pitiful little man!
I asked him to smile for a photo and he said, "Okay."  This was his smile. Aw! :(

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dressing Up Your Eggs

Ever since I got pregnant with Sawyer, I've been hooked on breakfast.  Before that, it was a take-it-or-leave-it meal for me.  I like going out for breakfast, and sometimes cereal or something hot at home.  But mostly I could totally miss it.  (I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob.)  When I was pregnant, my midwife and my Bradley classes drilled the need for protein into my head, so I've been hooked not just on breakfast, but eggs or something with substantial protein.  The only problem with eggs:  they're kind of eggy.

Am I right?

I've discovered two things that really help keep the egg in eggs from being overwhelming.  The first is cheese.  Eggs + cheese = deliciousness.  The second is bread.  I typically use whole grain and will make either an egg sandwich or a half-pita with eggs.  Or a whole wheat tortilla with eggs.
This was my fabulous breakfast from this morning, which did not turn out so well in the photo.  Kinda looks like it's floating in space.  In any case, I bought some clearanced whole wheat hoagie rolls, sliced them thinly, toasted them (ie, broiled without burning in the oven) with a light smear of butter substitute, then layered on scrambled eggs and cheese.  Back in the broiler just until melted.  Delicious!  Not so eggy after all.

Anyone have a special way they hide the eggy-ness of eggs?

Quarantine, Day 4

Will it ever end?

I kept thinking Sawyer was almost over his sickness this week.  His fever would subside without medicine and he'd perk up and start playing.  His voice got less hoarse, his cough less tight.  Then he'd be all flushed again, feverish, saying, "Mommy, my eyes hurt."  The past three nights he has woken me up more than once an hour, everything from "Mommy, I need water"  to vomiting in my eye.  Yes, in my eye.  Now I have had both my eye and mouth thrown up in by my kids.  Way to go, guys!

I feel horrible for him, but it's also just so hard on us.  Rob and I aren't sleeping and he's getting up at 4:30 for boot camp in the mornings.  We've had to change our sheets twice in the night after Sawyer threw up in our bed.  (Unlike Lincoln, Sawyer does not sleep well on his own when sick.)  Every few minutes it's: "Mommy, I need.  Mommy, I want.  Mommy, mommy, mommy."

The thing about sick kids is that your house becomes a prison.  I was SO looking forward to Sawyer feeling better and going back to school tomorrow, since it's the last day they have school for a few weeks.  But his fever just shot back up to 101, which means no dice.  We are all tired of these walls, but it's deathly hot outside and I don't want to infect anyone else, so we can really go anywhere fun.  My plan after naps is to pack everyone in the car, fill up with gas and just drive.  Linc isn't really into the car, so I don't know how this will work, but at least it will be a change of scenes.  The other day we went to see the peacocks and spent 7 stupid dollars to enjoy a car wash.  Today?  Maybe go the whole way around Beltway 8?  Okay, maybe not.

I ache for him and wish that he felt better.  He's pitiful.  But I'm also exhausted and I'm sort of shutting down.  It's like I have a certain amount to give, and then I'm just kind of out.  I feel out of niceness and out of patience, for sure.  The good thing is that God doesn't run out of those things, so after a horrible night that I wasn't sure I'd make it through and a ridiculously early morning, a tossed-up prayer refreshed me so I was able to enjoy the boys this morning.  I'm still running on empty and longing for a break (and maybe planning a Mom evacuation in a few days), but thanks definitely to God's grace, I have refreshment.  Not a lot, but enough to get me through.  I think.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Social Media Living

Clearly having sick kids means I think a lot.  Something I've been mulling over recently is the weird effect that social media has on my life.  I put a lot out there.  On this blog, on Twitter, on Facebook.  I try to keep the Facebook and Twitter posts light and humorous, though typically about what I'm actually doing.  The blog is my everything, an eclectic mash-up of my random life.  What becomes weird for me is when they intersect.  Or don't.

For example, more than once I have been telling someone a story about something, only to be interrupted when they say, "I know.  I read it on your blog."  Don't get me wrong--they weren't being rude and telling me to stop. It was more of a letting me know that I maybe didn't need to tell the extended version, or that I should be aware that my audience was aware.  It does add a weird pause to a conversation when someone lets you start a story and then says, "Yeah, I saw it on Facebook."  Do you continue?  Do you stop?  Do you thank them for reading?

I also have the opposite.  I've talked to family members or close friends who I assumed knew that I had sick kids or was really struggling or something awesome happened.  And they didn't.  Because they weren't reading my blog or keeping up with my Facebook updates.  Which oddly shocked me, though it shouldn't.  I have lots of readers I don't know, or readers I don't see all the time, in addition to friends and family.  Heck, I don't read all my friends' blogs.  I'm a terrible blog-reader, since my computer time is almost solely updating.  My Facebook stream also tends to not update me on those people I'm most close to, despite my attempts to change my settings.

Every now and again I've also had the odd joy of having a friend tell me, "So, I have this friend and she's totally addicted to your blog and wants to meet you!" I feel like an odd celebrity of sorts. Famous for nothing more than oversharing, with fans I don't know who for whatever reason still want to meet me after reading about my daily life.

Social media does impact our real world.  It informs our conversations and our understanding of what's going on in other people's lives.  Where I might have communicated a hard day through a phone call to a friend or two, now I toss it out to the world on Facebook or blog about it.  It's really weird, when you think about it.  It makes communication easier, and somehow also less personal, despite the fact that I might share very personal things.

It's just one of those odd things, and it's not about to change in my life.  I will still tell you when I burn toast or get thrown up on, when I'm having a great or bad day.  My little successes and failures.  I guess the thing to do is assume no one I'm talking to has read anything on my blog or Facebook, or else I wouldn't have anything to say in person.

Working at Home with Kids--Is It Worth It?

The same thing keeps happening when I try to work on my novel.  I have to get geared up, as there is a lot of guilt involved in leaving it alone for so long.  Then I have to remember where the thing is about and figure out if I start in the beginning of the 300 pages, or wherever I last left off (if I remember) or just burn it and start anew.  When I get started, there is the up-and-down of hating it, then loving it, then hating it, then remembering why I want to write it and getting excited about where it's going next.

And then:  interruptions.

After Linc was born and started sleeping like a madman, I began working from 10-12 at night.  This worked until Linc got teeth or started rolling over or otherwise not sleeping well, combined with Sawyer doing the same thing.  I zombied through a few weeks, then ditched my office hours and figured I'd give myself a longer break to just be a mom.  I figured this summer when my kids were both going Tuesday and Thursday, I could write again.  But then there were all these house projects that needed to get done (er--started), so I waited a bit into that time.

I got all pumped again after talking to Amanda Eyre Ward, who was so encouraging and said she only works three days a week when her kids are both in school.  I felt like it was possible and started back to work.  I went through the hating and loving cycle, then really got to work and saw vision for where I wanted to go.  Then we have sick kids.

When you work from home (AND don't get paid yet for said work), the days when your kids are sick become simply lost days.  My parents helped out with Saw today while Linc was in school, but because of sick kid, I felt like I needed to work out and take a nap.  I don't do things well halfway, so I either need a big block of time, or it's not going to happen.  I need to know that I can protect that time and not get frustrated by interruptions.  Who wants to get frustrated with a kid that already feels terrible?  Not me.  And having only two days a week and then missing one of those days means that you have something like a week's break between work, which is not conducive to my process.

The struggle makes me question the reality for me personally of working at all with little kids.  I have this yearning to write, to finish something and see it in print.  To be able to smell the pages of a book that I wrote. (Did you know I have a book-smelling thing? I do.)  But, again, I need real, set apart, and consistent time to work, and motherhood doesn't really offer that right now.  Which makes me frustrated.  With my kids, with my life, with the chores around the house I must do when I'd rather write.

Wanting to embrace the chaos of home life and to be content where I am called as a mother, the frustration that comes from me trying to work is often overwhelming.  It makes me not want to try at all sometimes.

So I want to raise some questions.  For me, clearly, my "job" as a writer is one that has only a hopeful paycheck attached--it's not a real paying career.  This makes it hard for me to claim it.  For those of you who really have a job at home while also having little kids, how do you make it work?  What makes it worthwhile to you--the paycheck?  The feeling of accomplishment?  How do you guard against getting task-oriented and frustrated with your loved ones?

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

If you haven't seen it already, please go look at this hair. Just go.

My Morning Hair: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!: "This is a look that Tim Burton would be proud of!"

Nurtured Family Sale!

If you are in the market for slings or cloth diapers or info on both (and more!), then you need to check out Nurtured Family.  Local to Houston, they are a great resource for learning more about all things baby.  You can also check them out online if you're too lazy to go out or you aren't from Houston.  I have a little button for them in my sidebar to the right.  Right now, they have a deal where if you buy 6 Fuzzibunz (a  brand I use), get 2 free.  You can also buy 5 BumGenius (also a brand I use) and get 1 free.  That's fabulous!  Their slings are also the very best--I use the SlingEZee and want to try the Hava if mine ever wears out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh, Borders. Do You HAVE to Go?

My emails from Borders lately have been really desperate and depressing:  "Come in now for great savings!  We said NOW!  Everything on sale!  We said EVERYTHING!  ON SALE!  GET IN HERE NOW!  WHERE ARE YOU?  GET IN THE STORE BEFORE IT'S GONE!"

I hate it.  I saw it coming, but I hate it.

Did you know I worked in Borders?  Three stores--in Fredericksburg, Richmond, and Houston.  All cafe, all the time.  How do you think I got this coffee addiction?  I love books, I love coffee--it was a great fit.  In fact, I remember my junior year in college, freaking out because my course load was too heavy, sleeping four hours a night, trying to figure out what I could give up to make my life easier.  The only thing I didn't want to give up: my job at Borders.

I remember the smell.  The smell of coffee beans, freshly ground.  One shot of espresso, two.  Frothy, steamed milk.  Cocoa powder.  In the near distance:  the scent of new books.  I can hear the espresso machine, hissing like a demon, trying to burn my fingers while I made a latte.  It was comfort; it was home.  I even love their font!

I love Borders.  I loved Borders.  I saw the end coming back when I worked in the cafe, when coffee was skyrocketing and Starbucks was landing on every corner (including the corners of Barnes and Noble) and Borders was downgrading the cafe, taking away the managers and placing the coffee management underneath someone also responsible for magazines and young adult novels.  Or something. I dont' remember exactly how it went down.  But while coffee outside the store went up, coffee inside went down.

By the time I worked at the store here in Houston, just after getting married to Rob, the cafe was a mess. No one ordered drinks (though I'll stand by the fact that they were better than Starbucks) but would bring drinks in from other places and sit in our cafe, reading our books.  When I quit after a month, I considered telling our manager that he needed to fire every other cafe employee for being so terrible.  The alignment of Barnes and Noble with Starbucks was really the beginning of the end.  Period.  I will stand firm in my belief that the demise of a bookstore came down to coffee.

In any case, I am really very sad to see Borders go.   I hate Barnes and Noble.  I'm sure because I worked at Borders, but I think I hated it even before that.  It's just  And sleek.  Ick!  Borders, don't go!

I made my mom drive with me to Borders the other day.  The closest one to me (where I once worked) has closed, but we tried the next closest.  Also closed.  At this point, my mom started complaining that I was holding her hostage and I had to keep driving, throwing in a maniacal laugh or two.  The Borders we found was hot, had no bathrooms, and was a disaster.  Not enough was on sale for a going out of business sale.  It kind of ticked me off.

And yet...there was the font I love.  The look of the store.  The smell--even without the coffee being brewed.  I love it there.  I know we are all supposed to shop at local stores (Blue Willow Bookshop!), but I can't stop loving Borders.  And I never will--even when it's dead.

Parenthood is Sssssexy!

[Yeah. We keep the romance alive.]
"I'll be right back to bed," I whispered, slipping off my pants.

"I'll be waiting," Rob said, and ducked under the sheets.

Sounds like a good beginning to a romantic evening.  Except--I was taking off my pants because I just got vomited upon by Sawyer.  We were whispering because Sawyer was still in our bed, feverish and sweaty and coughing.  For mood music, we had our loud fan and the humidifier whirring.

Not so sexy now, huh?

It can be really tough sometimes to feel romantic when you have little kids.  I don't know about big kids, since I don't have them yet, but little ones are so needy and so messy.  Having children hasn't killed the romance in our relationship, simply made it harder to maneuver.  It was a lot easier to FEEL attractive and mushy and lovey-dovey when not wiping snot from other people's noses, or cleaning poop off the carpet, or shedding vomit-covered pants.  Or even simply when we both weren't so tired at the end of the day.

If you're waiting for some kind of sage advice or something, I think you're reading the wrong post.  Consider this more of a warning, a reality.  I think it's easier to go into things expecting reality.  The reality is that having kids doesn't mean that you can't have romantic, special times.  You just have to work harder for them.  I think you also need a sense of humor to laugh at the middle-of-the-night puke on the pants times.

Rob and I are still enjoying our marriage, our kids, each other.  I did laugh as I tossed my pants into the washer last night, thinking about this post.  How this works is probably different for every couple.  It isn't always easy to keep the romantic feelings alive once you have kids.  But you CAN.

Don't lose hope, couples without kids!  Just enjoy the freedoms you have right now, and realize that one day, you are going to have poo on your shirt, dirty hair, and somehow figure out how to be romantic with a kid sleeping in your bed.

The Sick Household

I should have known.  It had been too long.  I had forgotten.  I had just told someone that we haven't been sick in forever, that my kids are so healthy.

All signs point to:  sick.

Rob and I both had colds last week where we were stuffy and congested.  Not horrible, not great.  A little fuzzy in the head.  Neither kid seemed to get it.  Then yesterday Sawyer started coughing in the morning.  REALLY coughing.  Not frequently, but when he did--oh, the sound.  The kind that just hurts your chest.  It's one of those dry, tight coughs that you can almost feel in your own throat when you hear it.

He complained of being hot, but it was a few hours before his temperature actually got up into the 100s.  It stayed there all day and has finally (maybe?) broken.  What a pitiful little man.  The coughing isn't frequent, but he'll have a fit of it every now and again and has thrown up from it three or so times.

Linc, I assumed, was getting it also, as he had a few coughs yesterday.  But he played like a wild man and seemed okay other than a few coughs here and there and a slightly runny nose.  When he woke up during the night (something he NEVER does, unlike Saw), I feared the worst.  But he's up again, just with a runny nose, playing ball with himself and dumping out every toy basket in the house, while Sawyer is totally lethargic, sitting in a chair watching a movie with too-bright eyes.

I'm hoping we've passed the worst.  That Sawyer's fever will stay down and for the rest of us, this will end with some runny noses.  I have a scary tickle in my throat and feel hot, but it's probably paranoia.  Hopefully?

I don't really understand how sickness travels through a home, hitting some and skipping others.  Sawyer spent last night coughing directly into my mouth, two inches from my face, when he wasn't throwing up on my pajama pants.  In other words, I have been exposed.  I know the boys have been drinking out of the same cups--it's just inevitable in our house.

For now I just have that stir-crazy, pent-up feeling of being trapped in a Sick House.  I'm fighting the clutter of a Sick House also, as it seems that dishes and toys pile up and laundry and I'm mostly so busy carrying around little bodies and wiping noses that I can't keep up.  I did have time to write this blog post, so again--a little hopeful for change.  In any case, we ALL need to get out of the house, so heat or no, I think we're going to take a long walk just for some fresh air.  Hoping for a full escape maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Morning Hair: Vote for Morning Hair of the Week!

My Morning Hair: Vote for Morning Hair of the Week!: "It's our first Morning Hair of the Week! Please vote from your favorites. I chose my favorites for you to vote on. Next week, maybe you c..."

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Afternoon Lion & the Evening Lamb

We have a new pattern now that Sawyer is officially almost-never napping.  I still have him stay in his room for like an hour and a half to two hours and set an alarm clock to go off at the end.  He cannot come out (except to go potty) and we ask that he lie down. We are a little less strict on the second, as we keep his door shut during this time, but I will check in if he gets too loud or I hear dangerous sounds.  If he stays with his head on the pillow, just maybe he'll fall asleep, but usually not.

After this period, we typically have a rough later afternoon.  More tears, more disobedience, more attitude.  Then comes bedtime.  We can put him to bed a little earlier, and he will mostly likely NOT come out of his room, NOT pitch a fit, and actually fall asleep right away.

It's hard, as I miss the real nap time and hate the Afternoon Lion (more like a Grumpy Bear), but I LOVE the easier bedtime.  The worst is when he doesn't nap, is a bear, and then fights bedtime too.  Usually he doesn't do that, but every so often if we go somewhere in the late afternoon and he falls asleep in the car, he gets just enough sleep to fight it later.  Weird to get used to a new routine!

But I still feel like a constant in child-rearing is the flux of change.  Never get comfortable because it will immediately change!

I Am Old.

I feel like my parents sometimes.  (By the way, have you seen When Parents Text?  I was heaving dying laughing.)  I remember being in grad school and I was the second oldest in my program (there were only 7 of us in the Fiction workshop, so it was small) and everyone was all about Myspace this, Myspace that.  And I was like, "I'm old and crotchety and you can take your stupid sites and stick it."  Then I joined Myspace because otherwise I never would have known when they all, like, went to dinner and stuff.  Then I got addicted to Myspace.  Then I found Facebook, and didn't really like that.  Then I got used to it.  Then I started blogging, which before had seemed like something people only did when they thought they were soooo awesome that other people would want to read about them.

Never realized how judgmental and obnoxious I was, huh?

Anyway, now I'm all digging in my heels and dragging my feet about two new things that I do not understand fully: Pinterest and Google Plus.  Pinterest I have seen, and while I don't get its inner workings, I like that I can google things like "blue walls" and see millions and billions of photos of pretty blue walls.  How fun!  Then I requested an invitation to join and they said that I was happily added to the waiting list and I was like, "Who needs a waiting list? Whatever!"  So now I'm mad at them.  Not like I know what to do when I get there anyway.

And Google Plus.  I don't even know what that IS.

Ugh.  I hate changes.  I feel old.  And crotchety.  Anyone want to explain what Pinterest and Google Plus have to offer that I should be excited about?  Is there a little blurb I can read somewhere and figure it out?  I'm just lazy and annoyed.  And crotchety.

Sawyer On: Not Being a Baby

Today, I grabbed Sawyer and snuggled him in my arms like a baby.

M: Don't fight.  Just be a baby.  That's a good baby!
S: [struggling free] I'm hatching!

I laughed so hard that he climbed back in my arms so we could do it again. :)

What's with Today, Today?

There are some really fun posts today up on My Morning Hair.  If you are not checking out my latest brainchild, you are missing some wild and wooly hair.


Also, you still have a little over 12 hours to enter my giveaway from Nerdy Shirts. You can enter HERE!

And, it's been a while since I've plugged Swagbucks.  I have paid for a lot of my derby gear this season using Swagbucks.  You get "bucks" for things like searching with a search engine, inviting friends (like I'm doing right now), using coupons on their site or doing offers.  I exclusively use it for search and earn about 50-100 points a week.  Friday is what's known as Mega-Swagbucks Day and there are more Swagbucks to be had!  You get points just for signing up, so try it if you haven't!  Sign up HERE and get yourself Swagbucks whilst helping me buy more derby gear.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Daily Disaster

I should be proud--a few months, even, with no disaster.  Then I spilled the fajita seasoning.  Ears of roasted corn everywhere wept.

Photo of the Day

I actually laughed out loud when I saw the look of sheer terror on Lincoln's face.  I am still laughing, actually.  Believe it or not, he loves this game of being hoisted into the air and then whooshed softly onto pillows.

And if you are just distracted by the sheer insanity of Rob's physique, think about trying out Camp Gladiator in Houston, Austin, or Dallas.

Just Call Him Lumpy

Photo evidence that Sawyer is not, in fact, Spiderman, able to leap onto walls.
The headband is a nice addition.

Blurry, but you can really see that lump!

Speaking of Superheroes...

Lincoln has invented a new one:  bucket-head.  With the super power of, um, having a bucket on your head.

He would not dance for me, but his bucket-head dancing is some of the best in town.

When Superheroes Fly...and Hit the Wall

The other day I got a call from Sawyer's school.  When they said they'd had an "incident," I was imagining some kind of epic fight between Saw and this kid Stewart that he sort of has a love/hate relationship with.  Instead, the told me that during nap time, Sawyer refused to nap (just like at home) and got up on the tables and started jumping from table to table saying he was Spiderman and could walk on the walls.  Oh, my.

They asked him to get down and stop, but he wouldn't, and as they were working to get him down, he leaped into the corner of a bookshelf. With his face.  Needless to say, he now looks worse than he did earlier in the week, with a big goose-egg on his forehead that's turning purple and a cut.

Little boys love superheroes.  I'm questioning the fact that we've been letting Sawyer watch some superhero shows (like the 1967 version of Spiderman, which is hilarious to me) and have found that a lot of things aimed even for his age have a lot of fighting and bad guys.  They pick up on this quickly, and really, I think that the idea of good v evil is sort of already programmed into us, even before superheroes.  Superheroes and villains just make it more extreme.

I liked what Rob said to him about this afterward:  "You don't need to be a superhero--you are SAWYER."  I've also told him that there are no real superheroes, except Jesus.  Which is kind of cheesy, but at the same time, Jesus conquered death--what greater enemy is there to be defeated?!  In any case, we had a long talk with him, both about obeying at school and about not trying to be a superhero.  He is Sawyer--exactly who he was created to be.

Confession: I Ate Fast Food!

On the way to derby yesterday, I broke down.  If I don't eat enough before our 2-3 hour practices, I get low blood sugar and it doesn't go so well.  My planning failed, so I stopped at Whataburger and got a chicken sandwich. And onion rings.  So, I did not make it a month without fast food.  I am still keeping the spending to a minimum and will be donating money.  It's great to set goals for yourself, but it's also nice to have grace when you mess them up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teaching Your Toddler?

Recently I've been on this kick about teaching Sawyer.  I think it started when several people with kids younger than Saw were telling me their kids knew the alphabet.  Sawyer's experience with the alphabet is the song and he sings it like this:  "ABCDEFTUVWMNOPQRSD!" 

In his defense, many of the letters sound the same.

My goal for the summer is to teach him the alphabet before his preschool (PRESCHOOL!!) starts.  So far, he knows like four letters.  Maybe.  I'm doing different activities, and nothing seems to stick.  We'll spend five minutes on just capital A, drawing it, using a keypad thing that says the letters out loud, coloring a page of As.  Then I will show him an A, ask what it is and he thinks really hard and says, "I don't know."

I know that he's a sharp guy.  He's great at picking up concepts from science, like water displacement--a favorite since we talk about it in the bathtub.  He can tell me how to get to many places in Houston and recently has started watching for cars and will tell me when none are coming so that I can turn.  (Trust me--I'm still looking!)  His memory is super sharp and he processes information well and speaks amazingly well. 

So, I shouldn't worry...right?  I know that the whole comparing kids thing starts as babies when everyone starts talking about when their kid walks, talks, sits up, etc.  I somehow escaped caring about that because I just felt like the developmental scale is so broad.  And my boys did a lot of things early (save Lincoln talking) so I haven't worried.  But with schooling things, I'm starting to get weirdly nervous.  What if Saw is the only kid in his preschool who doesn't know the alphabet?

I'm talking myself down, trying to remember that like physical and motor skill development, this will mostly all even out in the end anyway.  Plus, I don't want to start in on the whole extreme parenting thing where we are putting our kids in insane programs trying to "get them ahead" or making them take private sports lessons or things like that.  I definitely want them to learn and be active and involved, but I don't want to overdo it.

What is normal for this age?  Is there a normal?  How do you find the balance between teaching your kid and going over the top?  I'd love your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lincoln's New Trick

Today, Lincoln took a new step toward adulthood.  Or, at least, toddlerhood.  He started trying to use the potty.

I say "trying" and not actually using, because he has not actually USED the toilet.  But he has decided that any time I mention potty (whether it's me needing to go or Sawyer), he needs to have his turn as well.  I'm kind of hoping that sometime he'll actually pee while sitting and then maybe we'd have a miracle potty-trained boy, but I'm not holding my breath.  I'm sure he'll grow out of this phase soon, like a new toy that loses its newness.

It's pretty cute, though, when he goes in there and waits for me to take off his diaper and hoists himself up onto the toilet.  It also makes me realize that I want another baby.  A REAL baby.  Not this toddler child who is trying to potty-train himself.  Baby fever, you have officially arrived!

Now go away until the derby season is over.  M'kay, thanks.

Photo and Un-Photo of the Day

I just really love this photo.  

And then...there's this one.  Oh, Lincoln.

Busted-Up Faces

Really, his eyelashes totally eclipse the cut in his eyebrow.  I like the yellowing bruise on his eyelid.
Yuck!  Linc's nose and lip are just a mess.  Poor guy!

Embrace the Chaos

This is my new prayer, and one I plan to pray daily.  No--hourly.  Minute-ly.   It is:  "Help me embrace the chaos."

Marrying into Rob's family, I inherited a lot of chaos.  Rob has five brothers and a sister.  There are now 14 grandchildren, so our boys have 12 cousins.  In the beginning, when we were dating, there were only a handful of little ones, but it seemed like there were millions.   Christmases and dinners and holidays were LOUD.  Fun, wonderful, amazing: but loud.

Coming from a family with just me and my brother, I was used to more quiet.  Less people = less noise.  Just makes sense, right?  I really enjoyed the loud family gatherings with Rob.  I had to escape (and still do) every now and again for a moment of quiet to soothe my introvert soul.  But then I could go back and rejoin the chaos.  I was pretty proud of myself for coming from my background and doing so well with everything happening at once, and loudly.

Now that the chaos is in my house, it's wholly different.  It's harder to escape because it follows me.  And daily I'm trying to also ACCOMPLISH things in the midst of the chaos.  Like make dinner or answer an email or fold laundry.  When you are trying to actually do something, the noise and the activity and bustle exponentially increases somehow.

I find myself getting really frustrated and harried and kind of crazed in the midst of it all.  I hate being that person, the one all frazzled by loved ones.  I love them!  I don't want to be frustrated with them.  Ever.  But it happens, on the daily.

There is no way to avoid the chaos.  And chaos isn't bad!  I really actually like it--but when it's all the time, or when you're trying to complete a task, it's hard.  We want to think soon about adding to our family and thus adding to the chaos!  So I am praying to embrace it.  I want to let it roll of when I have two voices saying, "Mommy! Mommy!" and four hands clutching at me and I'm knee deep in pasta.  I don't want to just survive in it and turn off my brain to limp through it, but to relish it.

Probably this will be more of a struggle and something I need to remind myself of all the time.  That's okay!  The best things are often the things you have to work for.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fast Food Fasting

I sort of unofficially gave up fast food this month.  Well, starting on July 23rd.  With derby and so much driving back and forth, I find it's all too easy to stop at a drive thru.  Originally I wanted to just save money so I could buy more clothes or something, but I have another idea.

Friends of mine like Nicole over at The Stubborn Servant have done fast food fasts and donated the money to charity.  With the drought and famine going on in Africa, now seems like a good time.  I'm going to look back at how much I spent last money on fast food and donate that this month, since all that money is money saved.

Want to think about making a donation?  World Vision is a fabulous organization that has an emergency response effort going on right now in the hard-hit areas of Africa.  85% of donations go straight to relief, guaranteed.  Click HERE to read more about what they are doing or to donate!  Consider joining me in giving up something this month (fast food, starbucks, a new shirt) and giving that money instead to an area that needs help!



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