Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When will all these teeth be in?

So apparently when you spray yourself with one of those spray sunscreens (SPF 50) it helps if you actually cover your whole back.  And the top of your forehead.  And the side of your arm.  Because otherwise you will have a really weird, splotchy sunburn, that will remind you of its existence frequently.  Not that I would know anything about that.
We went swimming yesterday, my mom, my sister, her two daughters, and little Babash.  Adele stayed home with Chris, thankfully, because I still hadn’t forgiven her for being awake and displeased from 1 to 3:45 in the morning the night before.  Should I repeat that?  FROM 1 TO 3:45 IN THE MORNING.  (The caps mean it was super ridiculous.) 
It was rough, to say the least. 
I always say that’s it’s really, really hard to be a good mom in the middle of the night when you can’t see past your exhaustion.  I was so tired my body was aching.  And there was nothing I could do.  None of the usually soothing mechanisms would work.  Chris and I switched off, but it was mainly me because it was mainly me she wanted.  And so I took the brunt of the episode. 
When I became a mother I was unprepared for the rage that I feel in these situations.  And it’s probably not something you’re supposed to speak about, but truly, that’s the only word that seems to fit.  I am angry.  I am angry that my daughter won’t sleep and I’m angry that I’m not sleeping and I’m angry that the whole situation won’t resolve itself easily.  It’s so hard, so hard, to remain rational and caring and loving.  It takes all the strength you’ve got to step back from what’s happening and remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever.  At some point these awful teeth that are bothering her will pop through.  At some point she will sleep. 
Just not yet.
Last night she woke up at 11, right when I was going to bed.  She woke up every time I lay her down, so she just ended up in our bed and it was okay.  Until Sebastian woke up at 2:30 crying because of a bad dream.  But Chris took care of him, thank goodness.
Adele is such a happy baby most of the time.  It’s just that when she gets going, it’s pretty spectacular.  But on the flip side, when she’s laughing and grinning with her whole face, well, that’s more than spectacular.
And so she stayed home with her daddy when we went to the beach, which was for the best anyway because she’s not that fond of the heat and would have hated it out there after about 10 minutes.  It was nice to have a Sebastian and Mama day since we don’t do that much anymore.  When I told him where we were going he said “I’m so excited!
And that little man is fearless.  He loves the water and loves the beach, and loves my sister’s raft, which he called his ‘boat’ and used it to save his cousins (like ‘Fireman Sam’, naturally).
And thankfully I was aware enough to make sure that he was covered with sunscreen so he won’t be wincing in pain every time something touches the upper back side of his left arm.
Unlike somebody I know.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Craft Friday: New dress

One day this:

Will turn into this: (The white one with red polka dots)

It's McCalls 4769.

I'm not as good at sewing as I'd like to be, but I do keep trying.  I don't often put forth the effort that is required, though.  But lately I've been really wanting to sew, to create something in a way that is challenging to me.  And so I thought I'd tackle this dress.  I've also been on a vintage dress kick lately, and this is much cheaper than buying them of etsy and looks pretty close to what I'm going after.

I've spent a little more time on this dress than I normally do when sewing.  I've tried to follow the directions as best as I can, though I'm pretty awful at word problems and sewing patterns are just one giant word problem to me.  

But I've done better than I'd hoped, especially with trying to sew an hour here, 30 minutes there, whenever the children were sleeping or otherwise occupied.  One day I sewed while Sebastian painted on his easel, and then himself after he took his clothes off.

With any luck this will actually be finished soon rather than sitting in my craft closet for years like other projects I've started.

I still have no idea how to sew buttons on so that's something I'm going to have to make my mom do help me with.

And I've got plans for a short sleeve version and maybe even a long sleeve version.  But one thing at a time, right?

(Also, don't look too closely at the waist seam.  There's a mistake that I didn't feel like fixing so will try to iron out without taking the whole thing apart.  I'm not the perfectionist my mother is.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Okay, him reading me the books is pretty cute

I know I'm supposed to treasure these times, that they will be gone before I know it, and I try. But sometimes I really dread my kids’ bedtimes. They just seem to take so SO LONG! 

With Adele we usually start somewhere between 6:30 and 7:15, giving her a bath if it's needed, then taking her upstairs. She usually is screaming and fussing while I'm putting on her pajamas and kicking and flailing about so it takes EVEN LONGER THAN IT SHOULD AND IF YOU WOULD JUST HOLD STILL YOU CRAZY CHILD I’D BE DONE ALREADY.

 Then, at least recently, once I’ve pajama-ed her up and sat in the rocking chair with her, she won't settle down to nurse and arches her back and cries some more. She will eventually relax and nurse and go to sleep, but some days take much longer than others.  And of course there are the days (last night) that she cries whenever I lay her down. (I know - she's got me trained) and I need to rock her a little more. I'd like to work on getting her to go to sleep by herself, but this was how I put Sebastian to bed and it wasn’t nearly this difficult. The difference is he always fell asleep ALWAYS when he nursed except right around the time he was weaned at 13 months. (He basically weaned himself because he just wasn't interested anymore. I was just happy it was relatively easy.)

With Adele, she doesn't always fall asleep and recently she has taken a stand against nursing. I think it’s because she is teething again, which she seems to have been doing NONSTOP since about 4 months. She's got eight teeth with another one coming!  (Everything in my life is difficult, is what I'm saying.)

So bedtime. It's a trial. When I get Adele to sleep there's no guarantee that she will stay that way. There haven’t been too many nights where she's slept all the way through.  I've pretty much stopped looking for it.  It’s not like she can’t because she HAS.  It’s just that SHE DOESN’T WANT TO.  (Or maybe her teeth are bothering her.  Or maybe she’s lonely.  Or maybe it’s because her room faces the street and sometimes firetrucks drive by and honk their horns so very loudly right in front of my house.)

So every night I go to bed knowing that I'll have to get up again at least once. It helps if she wakes up in the middle of the night so I can go back to sleep easily.  If it's too early in the morning - like 4:30 or 5 - I'm usually up for day.  Some nights, like last night, it's right when I get in bed, which is awful because at that point I'm ready to sleep. And I couldn't get her settled down so in order for me to get some semblance of sleep I just put her in our bed again, which I know is creating bad habits, but I NEED SOME SLEEP.

So, that's Adele. 

I usually start putting Sebastian to bed as soon as I’m done with Adele, or sometimes in between time spent trying to get her to sleep on those wonderful occasions when IT’S JUST NOT WORKING.  Then I’ve got to call in Chris to come take care of Adele while I take care of Sebastian, who absolutely refuses to allow Chris to put him to bed.  At this point I’m exhausted and just want to go downstairs and relax, but I can’t do that until I finished this last few mothering tasks of the evening.

When Sebastian goes to bed, he has to read books.  I usually limit it to three or four, but now he’s started insisting on reading them to me, (“Just look at the peekshures Mommy!), which would be so adorable except I’m convinced he’s just doing it to draw out the process.  And it works.  In spite of how much I just want to dump him in bed, give him hugs and kisses and turn out the light, I stay and listen to him ‘read’ and ask questions and usually respond (if I’m not dozing off myself).  And after the last book I usually have to threaten him with no song in order to stop him from yelling about the fact that I wouldn’t let him read another story.  The song I’m talking about he calls ‘Hush Hush’, and is one I made up myself when he was just a couple of months old and needed some calming down.  We have to sing it twice, no less, no more.

And after all that, I’m finally allowed to leave his room.  Sometimes I have to go back into Adele’s, sometimes I don’t.  

Sometimes I’m putting children to bed for three hours, only to be back upstairs an hour later.

As I’ve said, I know it’s I should take a step back and really be in the moment because these kids, they’re so incredibly adorable and an absolute delight (sometimes).  But it’s just so hard when I’m with them all day and all I want to do is put them in bed so I can have a little time to myself, a little time to sit down without someone wanting me to get them some milk or change their diaper.  

The process does become easier, right?  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shedding the winter blues*

I think I might have had the winter blues.

With only having one car between myself and my husband at the moment, I wasn’t able to leave the house very much. I did try to take the kids outside as much as possible, but it wasn’t easy with the ridiculous amount of layers needed, and the inability to take a newborn out into the snow for very long. Everything had to be done around the littlest one’s schedule. And so we spent far too many hours inside staring out the window.

I tried to make it fun for my oldest. We played with cars and blocks a lot — I don’t know how many zoos and doghouses I’ve built. We listened to music and sang and danced along and I tried to have some sort of craft at least a few times a week. But by April I think we were all going stir crazy. And for most of April, even if it was warm enough the rain kept us inside, though we did have some fun splashing through puddles and playing with umbrellas.

And so it was hard. Everything felt harder than it should have. It was a struggle just to put lunch on the table on some days, much less breakfast and dinner. A lot of this could be explained with me being a new mom of two, and a new stay-at-home mom, I guess. I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to do what I was doing. I guess I still spend most of my time figuring out how to be the mom I think I’m supposed to be. But a lot of it also could be explained by just not being active enough, not getting enough sunshine.

When the weather heated up, I mean really heated up, we were outside all day. We set up our little plastic pool in the morning, we played soccer and ate lunch outside and Sebastian swam. We hunted for worms and flowers and dug in the dirt. It felt like we were finally living. Everything just seemed easier and how it’s supposed to be, how I always thought staying at home with my kids would be. Even Adele cooperated and for the most part enjoyed the fresh air, though when she didn’t I was in such a good mood that I didn’t let it affect me as much as it usually does.

I see now that during the winter I should have put more of an effort into walks or just outdoor stuff. Next year will be different. Sebastian hopefully will be in preschool a couple of days a week and so all of his educational and social interaction won’t fall mostly on my shoulders anymore. Adele will be older and maybe not quite so Mama-focused and needy.

You don’t really notice the weight that’s pressing you down until you get a few warm days in a row that are spent mostly outside splashing in some water, spraying on the sunscreen. We lifted off our layers, literally in the form of jackets and scarves and hats, and figuratively, too.

Just for those few days my shoulders loosened up and I relaxed, whether the naps happened as they should have or not.

I can’t wait for summer.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise's Wednesday's Woman on May 25, 2011.

Isn’t every story supposed to have a moral when you’re 12?

As a kid I was an avid reader. Just about any book I could get my hands on would find its way open with my nose stuck in it. And because of this I had a very vivid imagination. I also fancied myself a protégé in the writing field. I was going to be a writer - no doubt about it. And by sixth grade I was sure that everyone would feel that absolutely I should follow that path – if only they could read something I'd written. 

So I sat out to create the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL at 12 years old. Or at least the GREAT AMERICAN THREE-PAGE HANDWRITTEN SHORT STORY. 

Now along with my dreams and ambitions I also had a strong sense of morality.  Things were either black or white and prejudices fell most definitely in the black (evil, obviously) side.  And so I took a strong stance against this sort of thing and apparently at this age my feelings centered most decidedly on Native Americans issues. 

My GREAT AMERICAN THREE-PAGE HANDWRITTEN SHORT STORY would be about a couple - the man would be white and the woman would be Native American. In order to show how serious I was I had to have drama (some might call it 'melo') and developing conflict. I decided that the way to do that was to have the man be super-crazy prejudiced against Native Americans. He was not, however, aware that he was married to one.  In order to make it socially relevant I set it in the 1800s of course. His wife lived in fear of him finding out what she was. 

I don’t remember everything that happened in my magnum opus, but I'm pretty sure I fleshed it out with paragraph after paragraph on how afraid the woman was that her husband would discover her secret. 

I’m sure many of you can see where this is going what with my exceptional foreshadowing skills.  Alas the husband found out what his wife was and in a fit of rage he rage shot and killed her. 

I was so proud of this story and felt that it was powerfully meaningful. I just knew that whoever read it would worship my talent and possibly, if they knew the right people, find me a book deal and I would experience my DREAM! 

So I started with my friend. Surely she would be impressed, right?


She laughed. In case I didn’t give you enough detail to ascertain for yourself, this was not a comedic effort.

I let my teacher read it. I was sure that my friend was just the tiniest bit jealous of the fact that I had created something so amazing at such a young age.  (We were always competing against each other, you see.)

She made strange face that at the time I couldn't quite decipher, but that I knew wasn't all that encouraging, and said ‘Oh!’ 

And I now realize that the look my teacher gave me was actually her trying so hard to keep from giggling at her misguided student. 

I was not exactly crushed at their lack of response, but I did step back and start to reevaluate my plans.  I may or may not have written in my journal about how misunderstood I was.

In their defense, however, I did end my GREAT AMERICAN THREE-PAGE HANDWRITTEN SHORT STORY with 'And the moral of the story is...'

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

He lost me after the prison toilet

There’s this show that comes on sometimes during the kids’ naptime called ‘Prison Wives.’  It’s on the Oprah Winfrey Network, so you expect it to be classy, I guess.  (Anybody else irritated that she has her own network?  And that it’s called ‘OWN’?  And that she puts her ‘own’ photo on the cover of her magazine each month?  Just me?  Okay.  Moving on.)

The premise, in case you can’t figure it out from the title, is women who have married men in prison, either before or after then went there.  It shows their lives now, which mostly seems to be spent finding ways to visit their husbands or trying to get their ‘wrongly convicted’ husbands out of jail.

Don’t ask me why I watch it.  I’ll watch pretty much anything.  Except shark shows.

So yesterday they had a man who was married to a woman who was in prison for life, no parole, because she was part of a shooting/dismemberment/crazy murder.  The man, her husband, was older and married to someone else when he started writing her (she put an ad online, naturally).  Apparently she was just too irresistible and so he divorced his wife and moved from Seattle to Tennessee to be close to prison lady.

Now, all throughout this he actually seemed normal and sane.  He was a retired pilot who liked to canoe, had a ‘good Catholic faith,’ and just seemed to truly be in love.

But then they showed the creepy mannequin.  In a wedding dress.  Set up in front of the window of his house facing the street. 

He just wanted a female presence in the house.

And then.  AND THEN, toward the end of the show, so close to it that they kind of glossed over it, they showed his bedroom.  And his shiny, metal, working prison toilet that he bought just so he could feel close to his wife.

So now I think that his wife, the one in jail for helping dismember a 19-year-old kid, might be just a little bit more in possession of her senses.  Not by much though.

I think I might stick to HGTV from now on.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I’m hoping it has more to do with the amount of cake I ate this weekend than being sick

I woke up at about 5 this morning doing that queasy, prayer thing.  Like, “Please don’t let me puke, please don’t let me puke.  Maybe if I stay really, really still I won’t puke.  Please don’t let me puke.”

It’s like, you know you need to get up and go to the bathroom but are afraid that any movement at all will break down any control you have on the situation.  

So I just woke Chris up.

Chris.  CHRIS!


I think I’m gonna need your help.

He got up with me and got me a big glass of ice water even though it meant that he wouldn’t go back to sleep and would start his day earlier than he planned.  

And I didn’t even get sick.

He also took the baby monitor out of the bedroom so it wouldn’t wake me up and let me sleep a little longer after Adele woke up.

Once again he’s earned husband/father of the year.

And I’m okay.  Still a little queasy and kind of moving slow and wishing I could just stay in bed all day. 
But there’s pretty much no chance of that happening, no matter how many episodes of ‘Fireman Sam’ we watch.

Taken by Sebastian.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Craft Friday: Homemade Bread

Breadmaking has always been a fascinating thing.  There’s the chemistry of it – the yeast coming alive, the gluten developing, the rising and expanding.  And there are so many different types that all follow mostly the same pattern, the same essential steps.
I have lofty ambitions of making our bread a few times a week, and never buying any from the store.  It’s healthier and just tastes better.

Three guess as to whether that actually happens.


I haven’t actually made bread, other than corn bread or a no-knead dutch oven bread, since my KitchenAid broke a few months ago.  (Even though it has a dough hook, I really don’t think it’s made for actually kneading dough.)  I’ve got really weak, inferior wrists and they get enough of a workout typing and knitting.  I figured I’d give them a break and not try to make the bread by hand.  But we ran out this past week and forgot to buy some at the store.  Now, I’d probably be okay but Sebastian eats a peanut butter sandwich almost every day, so I figured I better suck it up and get to work.  

And it really is something I enjoy, even with helpers who, when given their own bowl of flour and water to mix, just eat the results.

And once I got going, I didn’t stop with just a couple loaves of wheat bread.  I decided the next night that I’d make falafels.  And you can’t have falafels without pita bread.  And so back to the dough I went.  Now, I’ve only been able to get pitas to puff up and create that pocket a couple of times, and this time wasn’t one of them.  But that doesn’t stop them from tasting super delicious.  

So even though I probably won’t be making all of our bread from scratch, I do enjoy the fact that I can, when needed, rise to the occasion.  (See what I did there?  Am comedic genius!)

And I probably will be trying to incorporate more homemade bread into our diet, if nothing else than to see my little helper covered in flour and sporting a dough face mask.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

No kangaroos in Austria*

I can’t remember what I ate.

And for some reason that’s kind of what haunts me the most about my study abroad trip to Vienna.

I went in the fall of 2002 and I made friends with people I’m still in contact with.  It was an amazing, life-changing experience and all the other clichés that people who have been on trips like this say.  In some ways I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years since I was there.  In some ways I can’t believe it feels like a lifetime ago, like I was a different person.  

I learned how to bake bread from the Norwegians and Finns while I was over there, got addicted to hot tea with no sweetening, drank a ton of sangria made by the Spanish girls (or as we call it – hooch), and ate far too many chocolate bars.

But what did I eat every day?

I remember that hunk of cheese I bought on that excursion to some little town I can’t remember.  But I remember the cheese and how I finished a whole quarter pound of it all by myself.

I remember the day I accidentally ate calf brains.  I’d ordered something from a restaurant not knowing exactly what it was but trying to be adventurous.  I am not nearly adventurous enough for calf brains, but I did eat at least a few bites of it before I pushed my plate away.

I remember Henrik, from Denmark, bringing back a corn pizza to the studentenheim, and how everyone laughed and said corn wouldn’t make for a very good pizza, and how much of the vegetable was actually piled up on it.  He finally agreed.  It was just too much corn.

I remember the Thanksgiving dinner the Americans fixed for the rest of the international students staying in the same building, and how we didn’t have anything to mash the potatoes with and so used a fork.  And they didn’t have turkeys in the store so we had to buy small chickens.

I remember having Ramadan dinner with Faraj, from Jordan, and some of his friends.
I remember coffee, lots and lots of coffee.

And copious amounts of beer.  By the crate.

I remember freedom and adventure and laughing.  I remember staying up until morning every weekend, then sleeping all afternoon.

I remember stopping by McDonalds after talking with my boyfriend, (now husband), because I just missed home so much and unfortunately that was the only thing familiar.  

I remember the apple yogurt that I haven’t been able to find anywhere since, that was the best yogurt I’ve ever tasted.

I remember making pizza with Riitta, from Finland, and going on our own excursions together because we both missed our boyfriends.

I remember Zanoni & Zanoni, an ice cream parlor where we went over and over, but where I mainly ordered vanilla because it was so creamy and smooth and tasted like cake.

I remember the Norwegian glug party, where we drank warm spiced wine and Lise told fairy tales.
I know I ate, and I remember some things pretty well, like all the salads I made with balsamic vinegar for dressing since I couldn’t find ranch anywhere, or the chocolate and pretzels.  

But it doesn’t add up.  All the breakfasts and lunches and dinners.  

I was just reading through the journal I kept while I was over there, and I’m amazed at who I was, and what I did.  And I have a strong urge to tell that 21-year-old of all the things she should do while she’s over there, of all the stuff she’ll miss out on if she worries too much about what other people think.  

It was my first time on my own, really on my own, even if only for a semester.  It was so crazy, and so normal and so vast.  I so much want to go back, to be there all over again, to experience everything I did, but with the maturity and knowledge I’ve gained since.

In a way I’m still searching for that time.  I’ve lived so much since, but a part of me is still sitting in the studentenheim, drinking sangria or red wine late into the night with the international students, planning our next adventure.

* When I told people I was going to Austria, far too many mentioned kangaroos.  Turns out it was A THING where people got Austria and Australia mixed up.  I actually bought a t-shirt that had that saying on it.  And I didn’t see one kangaroo while I was there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I knew I shouldn't have mentioned ear infections in Monday's post

Well, apparently, it wasn’t just bad parenting.

Ear infections.  Both children.  This is where I sit back and say, ‘Wow.  That makes total sense.  Way to use your brain, there Einstein.’

After another night of Adele not sleeping very well and us waking up this morning to the lovely sounds of Sebastian hacking something up, I thought ‘Enough.  We’re going to the doctor.’

You see, I avoid going myself and taking my children as well.  I think I’m afraid of being one of those parents.  You know, the ones who take their kids to the doctor for every little cough and sniffle.  As a result, there probably have been times I should have taken them and didn’t.  But I sucked it up this time, even though it is not easy to leave the house and coordinate car usage with my husband.

And now we’re medicated up and hopefully everything will go back to being a nuthouse normal.

And hopefully we all can get some sleep.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'd also settle for gin

It’s been a rough few days.  Someone, I’m not naming names but it starts with the letter A and ends with ‘dele’, decided that her bedtime was no longer 7:30 or 8.  Nope, apparently it’s now 10 p.m.  And so I’ve been spending my evenings trying to get the little stinker to sleep and it doesn’t really work and she doesn’t seem to be in pain, like she’s teething, she’s just awake.  WIDE AWAKE.  AT 10 P.M.  I’m not even that awake that late.  And that’s usually my only time to myself.  I don’t feel completely sane without those couple of hours before I go to bed to knit, watch TV or read.  As a result, I’m losing my mind and my comprehensive abilities.  (I don’t know.  At this point I’m just making shit up.)

I thought for sure yesterday evening would be better since she refused her afternoon nap.  REFUSED!  Her no-napping brother even went to sleep.  But nope.  I think maybe it was the screaming fit that wore her out in the library that evening (Sorry.  That was us.)  She fell asleep at on the 3 minute drive home at 7 and decided that was enough.  I AM NOT EXAGGERATING.  IT IS A THREE MINUTE DRIVE.  Once I tried to get her to sleep for the night, she just wasn’t having it.  So since I was feeling my blood pressure rising and my fingertips tingling from irritation, I took her downstairs to let my husband take over for a little while.  If I just stay in her room and try to rock her to sleep when it’s not working, all it does is drive me crazy.  

So, she was finally out by 10, only to be up by 1:30.  Every time I got her to sleep she’d just wake back up so I put her in bed with us so at least I could be laying down.  She finally settled down around 2:30, but of course I didn’t sleep very well.  And we were all up again by 6:30. 

And I haven’t had a shower and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get one and I desperately need it and so do all my children, especially Sebastian since he took all his clothes off sometime last night and peed in his bed and the stupid ‘waterproof’ mattress cover apparently doesn’t work on pee, or at least my child’s so I’ve got to clean that up (again) but I’ve got to time the shop-vac usage around the little one’s naptime so that doesn’t wake her up and it has to be dry by his naptime but I don’t have any baking soda and I may be losing my shit.

Somebody bring me some wine. 

You're not fooling anyone with that cuteness you little demon.