Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Motherhood and More: Guiding siblings to friendship*

When I was younger and thought about having multiple children, I pictured them as the best of friends. They would play ball or dolls together, or maybe build intricate Lego houses complete with stairs and rooftop gardens. They would always talk kindly to each other and think of ways to make the other one’s day better.

Reality, of course, rarely follows that sort of idealistic daydream. It’s usually much louder and more disagreeable than I ever could have imagined.

No, my children, it seems, try to spend the majority of their time thinking of ways to make the other one’s day miserable.

I’ve heard my sister tell her own children on many occasions she and I were smart enough not to fight so much in front of our parents. Oh yes, we fought. But not so our mother could hear us because every time we got on our parents’ nerves with our arguments, we were sent to weed the garden. I think that’s probably why I don’t care so much for weeding now.

But, as my garden isn’t quite big enough for the both of my kids to weed without injuring each other and they aren’t quite old enough yet to resist the urge to pull up a perfectly good tomato plant, I have to resort to separation. This means, of course, they spend most of their weekends in their own rooms so I don’t have to listen to the bickering.

I feel like when they are together, my entire mothering experience consists of refereeing a cage fight. My daughter wants to spend time with her older brother, but can’t vocalize it enough to draw his attention. So she usually throws a toy at his head.

I mean, I guess it worked, technically. She got his attention. Just maybe not the way she wanted it, but instead in the form of yelling and screaming and stomping. And being sent to her room.

I’ve watched them arguing. I’ve tried to explain to my son his sister just wants to be included, that she only wants to play with him. But she’s destroyed his Lego creations a few too many times, I think. He doesn’t buy it.

My son isn’t innocent, however. He will seek out a toy of his that he knows she wants to play with and bring it right next to her but refuse to let her touch it until the situation erupts. And she throws a toy at his head.
I’d like to hear this is normal, that my children are not going to grow up despising each other because of how they behaved as little kids. And I know that’s probably the case. But it’s hard to see in the midst of all the strife.

And then sometimes, when I least expect it, I see them getting along. No, not just getting along – actually enjoying each other’s company. The other night they were laughing and playing tag and chasing each other through the house. Or sometimes they’ll sit and build Duplo towers together, taking turns with the red tractor.

It gives me a little bit of hope. I want them to be friends. I want them to get along. I want them to be able to rely on the other one in times of need, to share their greatest joys.

I cannot force them, I do realize that. But I can try to guide them, to show them without family, without our siblings, we’re missing our greatest and first friend.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on August 28, 2013.   

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Random Tuesday: More random than usual

1. Someone in the Ukraine really, really likes this post

2. I mean, I get it.  It's absolutely one of the best things ever written ever in the history of ever.  However maybe it's not quite as deserving of all the fuss.

3. But whatever.  You just enjoy that sort of anniversary post, you in the Ukraine.

4. I've been trying to come up with things to make and sell for some extra income, lately.

5. It's actually harder than I thought.

6. I mean, I make tons of stuff.  But I'm not sure my wrist could handle a whole bunch of knitting.

7. Also I don't know the laws on selling homemade kefir.

8. I've also recently made feta.  But it's still aging.

9. There's always sewing, but I'm not sure what I could sew.

10.  Of course, I also make jewelry sometimes.  So maybe that.

11.  I will probably open an Etsy shop.  Or something.  I don't know.  Any ideas?

12. It's always been my dream - to make things and sell them.

13. But now I can't figure out what to do.

14. I should probably use barn wood.

15. Everyone loves barn wood.

16. Subject change: I've been really enjoying my mornings at home with Adele while Sebastian is in school.

17. She's actually much calmer and insane one-on-one.

18. Of course, now that I've blogged that we'll have to call in an exorcist.

19. Again.

20. My feisty girl is almost 3, which means I've been at home with my kids for three years.

21. I'd like to think I'm better at it than I used to be.

22. But I'm probably just better medicated.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade Friday: Mini-Manu for Adele

Well, apparently I am the most ignorant mother around as I received a phone call yesterday morning telling me that my child, who I'd sent to school, was feverish and chilled and shivering.


So Chris went to pick him up and Sebastian told me when he got home that I should have let him get more sleep because he was yawning all day at school.  All my fault.

So he slept all afternoon, only to wake up when Adele took her nap.  And by the time Adele woke up from her nap crying and feverish, I myself was feverish.  So we made a lovely trio.  When Chris came home from work I took to bed and layered blankets and shivered and moaned in agony.  I only warmed up when I put on fleece and sweatpants. 

None of us are feeling 100 percent, more like 30, so it's looking like it's going to be a 'take it easy as possible' type of day.  Although Chris did tell me he expected the house to be clean when he got home. 

He was joking.

I think.

But even though I feel like having a smack to the head with a baseball bat might be an improvement over the way I feel, I come to you with a Homemade Friday post.

This little sweater is one I started in the spring, I think.  I should really start taking better notes again as my memory is ridiculous.

She's mad because I wasn't pushing her on the swing.
I put knitting to the side throughout the summer while I sewed and sewed and sewed (and sewed.)  But I picked it back up again when the temperatures dropped a bit.  Of course, now they are ridiculously hot again so that cardigan I'm knitting for myself will probably not be worn for awhile.  Unless we have another bout of fevers.

Adele wore this one, the Mini-Manu, earlier this week when she was sick and feverish and couldn't get warm.  And I was happy to have something handmade and comfortable and warm to offer her.

Sick baby.
It's a sweet little sweater, with the pockets and the little vintage kitty buttons I found from this shop on Etsy being the parts I love the most.  And the pleats.  The pleats look awesome.  However, there were some short rows on the front of the sweater that I'm not entirely sure I knit right as they are extremely obvious and I don't think they're supposed to be. 

But no matter.  I'm not ripping the whole top out to change it.

I forced her to put it on this morning through both of our hazes of sickness because I am an awesome mother (see above).  And I am dedicated to you.

I knit the 4 year old size, but, as you can see from the pictures, it fits her right now.  So I'll probably have to lengthen the arms for her to be able to wear it through the winter and spring.  But it could always just be a 3/4 sleeve sweater, right?

As always, my mother sewed the buttons on because she is awesome.

Pattern: Mini-Manu by Kate Davies Designs
Yarn: Knitpicks Simply Cotton Sport in a dark grey
Size: 4 year old
Gauge: Um ...
Needle size: I believe it was 3 and 4.  But I didn't take notes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Do zombies even still have nuts?

My daughter is still sleeping and it's almost 8 a.m.  This can only mean that she is extremely sick or that she woke up at 4:30 a.m. crying and begging to play on the ipod.

The what?

Of course I was already awake because I my body hates me and gave me a headache and also because I ate a big bowl of pasta last night because Chris was out of town and the kids will eat pasta without wailing and whining and withering in front of their plates.  I haven't had pasta in awhile because of the whole Paleo thing, and my reaction to it last night is probably enough to convince me that maybe we're on the right track with this whole 'changing the way we eat' thing.  The stomach cramps are still continuing and also still making me want to jab a sharp object into my gut in the hopes of relieving the pain.  It's like, you don't know how much better you feel until you eat something that you're not really supposed to.  And then it's like, whoa, maybe there's something to all of this.
I'm impressed that I was able to take this
picture and no blood was shed.

So - no sleep for me.

Sebastian slept in this morning instead of waking up at 5 wanting to get ready for school.  I actually had to wake him up so he wouldn't miss the bus.  He wasn't feeling all that well, either, but I think that was more because it is relatively warm in our house and he insists on sleeping with a feather blanket, which slowly bakes him all night long.  So he was understandably sweaty.  But I sent him to school anyway because it's picture day and I didn't want to have to fiddle with make-up-day or whatever.  Also I am enjoying the peace that comes with my children not being together during the day.  There is much less yelling and screaming and crying.  I think it's good for them to be apart some.  Last night I even caught them playing in the same vicinity without physical violence.  Sebastian was working a puzzle and Adele was building with Duplos and there was a bit of tranquility.

Adele is a bit jealous of Sebastian riding the school bus.  But I want to tell here that it's not that pleasant of a place to be and her brother already discovered the word 'nuts' from a boy on the bus, as in "I'm going to kick a zombie in the nuts."

Ask me how happy I am about that.  Go on, ask.

I know that I can't keep him from all that forever.  But he's 5 years old!  He's just a little boy!

I really wish we could have kept him in the private catholic school that he went to for preschool.  Part of that is because when we went to open house to meet the teachers, in the big meeting with transportation people and lunch room people and whatnot, everyone who spoke basically told us that we were idiots, and that we were going to be an idiot sometime throughout the year, and that they would have to have someone escort us away once we did become idiots.

It wasn't very promising.

But he's learning a lot, I do admit.  He's started sounding out words for real now, and not just sounding them out by repeating what I say.  And he's writing his name so much better than he used to.  He's had some trouble as somehow his name includes more letters than any other name in the history of ever.

Sorry, kid!

So we'll see.  Maybe for first grade we can put him back in catholic school.

We also have both kids playing soccer this year.  Sebastian started on Monday and I spent the entire practice trying to keep Adele off the field.  I brought her ball with us in the hopes of distracting her, but all she did was try to kick it in their goal, and then scream when I kept her from her Olympic soccer dream.

Last night was her first practice and it was ridiculously adorable.  I think she had a lot of fun and I think she's a natural.  She's so athletic and tough.  She was the only girl on the team not wearing a hot pink shirt.  Their team name is Uruguay, but the coach insists on calling them The Princesses.  I kind of wanted to shake him and tell him that his attitude and need to force girls to be dainty princesses is what is wrong with society today.  And then my daughter smacked his daughter in the face so I think he got the point.

(Chris saw it and said she was just playing - not trying to be mean.  But I say it was a direct response to being called a princess.  He made her apologize but I think he should have given her a high-five.)

(I'm joking - please don't fuss at me.)

With Sebastian, I've noticed a big improvement in how he plays.  And he has some of the same boys on his team as last fall, which is nice because there were some parents I really liked and wanted to keep in touch with but am too shy to say "Hey! Let's hang out!  I need friends!"

So now I can see them a couple of times a week.

(Adele is still sleeping.  I should probably go check on her.  Or maybe she sneaked downstairs and found the ipod and is playing in her closet.  Either way, at least she's quiet.)

My girl can kick any princess' ass.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Homemade Friday: The Great Star Wars Birthday Extravaganza (only a month late)

I'm a little behind on my Homemade Friday posts, I see.  There's a really good reason for that, I swear.  At first it was just because I was preparing for the Great Star Wars Birthday Extravaganza and so didn't have any time.  And after that, I wanted to show you all the cool stuff I made for the Great Star Wars Birthday Extravaganza but I knew it was going to be a long post full of link backs and whatnot and I either didn't have the time to devote to it or I just didn't feel like it.  So in my warped mind, I couldn't show you anything else that I've made lately, and there have been lots of things, because I haven't showed you the birthday stuff.  Chronologicality and all that.  (I totally made up that word. And I'm sure you didn't know until I told you, right?)

The Birthday Boy got the first three episodes of Star Wars for his birthday.

But today I just decided to go ahead and get it over with.  It may not be the exciting, detailed post I had planned, but at least there will be lots of pictures, right?

Sebastian decided awhile before his birthday that he wanted a Star Wars theme, but not just any Star Wars theme.  He wanted an Angry Bird Star Wars birthday theme.


If you search for Star Wars birthday ideas, you'll find tons.  But there aren't too many Angry Bird things, unless you want to pay $35 for a fondant cake topper.

Spoiler: I didn't.

So I incorporated a lot of different types of Star Wars shows - and THERE ARE MANY.  We ended up with Clone Wars, Lego Star Wars, Angry Bird Star Wars, and just the regular, normal Star Wars.

Sebastian also insisted that he have a costume, which is a part of his personality that I adore and encourage every chance I get.  The kid loves to be in character!  He wanted a Luke costume.  I used the same pattern as I used for his Ninja costume and leftover fabric I had around, so it really didn't cost me anything but time.  He loved it, but then was a bit disappointed that it didn't come with boots.

Sorry kid.  My sewing skills only go so far.

Once it was finished and he was in costume, both Chris and I decided he was more of an Anakin than a Luke. 

See?  Almost twins.

Sebastian also wanted a pinata for his birthday.  We settled on the Death Star since there seemed to be a lot of instructions online for it and I thought it would cause me the least stress as I was already up to my eyeballs in it because I've never actually made a pinata before, and I have no memory of making a paper mache anything ever.  So I dove right in.  As I do.

I used instructions from here and here

I used a beach ball to make a round shape and lots and lots of old newspaper.  I think I did 3 or 4 layers - enough to make it sturdy and strong to hold all the candy that Chris made me to put in it.

I was actually pretty proud of it.  Especially considering I didn't really know what a Death Star was and couldn't remember ever seeing one before this.  Here are a lot of pictures of the pinata:

I let them hit it with pool noodle lightsabers that my friend Laura helped me put together.  Basically I just cut large pool noodles in half and duct taped the end to make a handle.  They were supposed to have designs on the handle, but I ran out of time and energy.  Here's where that idea came from.

Once they all attacked it at once, I let the kids each have three swings with a tobacco stick.  I didn't blindfold them as I didn't want to have to take anyone to the hospital.

In the end I 'helped' by ripping it open.  Here's the aftermath:


I also made lightsaber napkin wraps, which I found here.  Here are mine:

And I used that same person's idea for R2D2 cups that I put in the gift bags.  However I don't really recommend them because as soon as the cups got wet all the ink bled all over the place.  It was kind of a waste of money and time. 

I used the cups as party favors and put them in Star Wars bags I freezer-paper-stenciled for all the kids. I thought I took an actually picture as I was painting it, but I can't seem to find it.  Here's one I took this morning: 

I think they're pretty awesome myself.

With it you can see the popsicle sleeve that I put unfrozen popsicles in to make little lightsabers.  I got that idea from here.

I also freezer-paper-stenciled Yoda T-shirts for Adele and Sebastian, which I saw here.   I think Adele's actually turned out better than Sebastian's.  The black looks a lot better with the silver spray paint than the blue does. 

For drinks I made my version of Yoda Soda - which is a punch I fall back on regularly because it is delicious and simple.  Plus it's green so it totally fits.  All it needs is a big can of pineapple juice - I think it's about a quart and a half - with 2 liters of Ginger Ale and a container of lime sherbert.

And here is a blurry picture of the double-sided Angry Bird Star Wars banner that I printed out, cut and strung.  It's still hanging in that window, mostly because I forgot it was there.  Eventually I'll put it in Sebastian's room.  Whenever I remember.

 Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing and lightsaber sticks in Star Wars cupcake liners:

And a chocolate cake with white chocolate icing in the shape of a 5 that was supposed to have little Star Wars Angry Bird figures on it but that I forgot about until after the party:

I did put a lot of work into this party, but the thing is, Sebastian is so excited.  He gets really into the whole thing so I want to make it as special as possible for him.  And he appreciates it, you know?  He understands that I'm doing this for him and is grateful.

That means a lot.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

So I cut my own bangs

I blame the two people who chimed in on facebook yesterday to tell me I should cut my own bangs.

I mean, I did ask for your opinion.  Though maybe you didn't make it all the way through yesterday's rambling post.  I'd say that today's will be better but my son woke up at 2 a.m. ready to start his day, then climbed into bed with me, and I believe I've said before that I don't sleep when my children share bed space with me.

So anyway, I decided to cut my own bangs.

Actually, I decided months ago that if I were to cut my bangs, I'd do it myself for two reasons.  The first is that I am unable to sit in a hairdresser's chair without immediately turning awkward and jittery and embarrassing myself, as I've mentioned before

The second reason is because I am economical* by nature and so the idea of paying someone $5 plus a tip so I can stumble my way through small talk while said someone I do not know breathes in my face while she trims my bangs was enough to send me to the store for shears.

I've already used them on Sebastian.  I gave him his last haircut, which actually doesn't look as bad as it could have.  There are only a few choppy parts.

So I thought, eh.  I can cut my own bangs.

Pinterest said so, and everything on Pinterest is true except for those pins that make you feel like a horrible mother compared to all the other mothers who have constant educational activities for their children and always speak lovingly and whatnot.  Those pins can suck it.

(Comparatively, I am sitting in my bedroom typing while my children have a screaming match upstairs, but as I've already cleaned up a bed full of poop today, I feel that grants me free pass to ignore them.)

So Pinterest had a tutorial and made everything seem easy and my friends told me to cut my bangs and I'm a sucker for peer pressure so there you go.

Here's the before:

 Dirty mirror and random child wanting my help putting toothpaste on her toothbrush?  Check.

I took these in my Jesus bathroom.  See?  He marked it.

Or the woman who lived here before us was super religious and had crosses everywhere and I'm a bit superstitious and refuse to scrub this discoloration off or paint over it.

For the last five years.

(Don't worry.  I'll get over it one day.)

 This is what Pinterest told me to do:

I couldn't take a picture of me actually cutting my hair because I am not so talented or coordinated.  So picture me with scissors.

And here is the after:   

Notice I took the time to brush and style my hair for you.  (HA!)  (Also don't look too close or you'll see all the little pieces of hair that fell in my eyes while I was cutting.)

They're only a little bit lopsided.  Totally worth it. But I'm not that picky.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go separate some Thomas children.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I'm boycotting blog post titles, and totally not just because I can't think of one

I learned an important lesson last night.

When you listen to your child whimper for you over and over throughout the night, only to hear her go back to sleep before you can fully wake up, you may want to check on her. Otherwise when you go to get said child up you will find her naked and standing in the middle of a bed and blankets covered in pee because for some reason she thought it was a good idea to take all of her clothes off before falling asleep, including the diaper she still requires overnight because of all the peeing.

At some point this morning, though, in between all of the wake-ups that I should have paid better attention to, I dreamed that someone told me I was lazy and needed to go back to work.  It wasn't someone I knew, but he sure had an opinion about me and my productivity.

I think it was because yesterday was a relatively easy day in the parenting department, a first in a very, very long time.  Adele didn't misbehave too much, she took an actual nap, not just a 'Let's make her stay in her room for a couple of hours in the hopes that she'll fall asleep but we really know she won't' nap.  Sebastian didn't lash out at me because he was exhausted from school and the stress of it all.  And they didn't fight too much when they were together.

Obviously this meant I felt guilty and that I didn't deserve to be at home with my children all day because it wasn't NON-STOP DRAMA AND ARGUING.  Apparently you have to earn being a stay-at-home mom with lots of conflict and irrational behavior, both from yourself and your children.

And after that I dreamed that I was hired back at the newspaper where I used to work, but they didn't have any writing or editing positions available so I was hired to clean the newsroom.  This included dusting off everyone's desks, which was not something that ever happened when I worked there except that one time they had people coming in who were thinking about buying part of the company.

And so I dusted on second shift.  And then I had a dinner break and Chris brought the kids to see me.  After I woke up I immediately searched to see if there were any openings at the newspaper, just in case.  I didn't see any, cleaning or otherwise.

So since this is already kind of random anyway, let me ask your opinion on something totally not related to anything I've said so far.

Should I cut my bangs or let them grow?

Here's where they stand now:

Kind of grown out but not really.  Too long to be bangs but not long enough to be layers.  So cut?  Or let grow?

(I probably should have used a fancy filter on those photos to make me look less exhausted, but I just spent many paragraphs rambling about how I didn't sleep that well so you wouldn't believe me anyway.  Of course, I took these after the daycare worker at the gym told me I looked super nice and also after I took a sleep-deprived child to the grocery.  So.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my knitting needles and Torchwood, which I just discovered and can't decide whether I like it or not.  It's a spinoff of Doctor Who, if you didn't know.  And they're sort of similar, except Torchwood has lots more sex stuff and no time travel (so far) and pretty bad acting.

So win?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

But surely the next one wouldn't be as insane as the last one, right?

This morning, after dropping my son off at his first day of kindergarten, I unsuccessfully attempted to convince my husband that we need to have another baby.

He thinks I'm cracked to want another one.

I understand, I do.  But I'd also just dropped my oldest child off at real school, at his first day, for the very first time, and at the beginning of a whole new way of adjusting our lives.

Does that sentence even make sense?  I'm not entirely sure, probably because I didn't sleep much last night on account of the Kindergartner.  Well, not so much him as the fact of him going to school.  When there's a big change happening, I don't sleep, I eat a lot of carbohydrates, drink wine, and attempt to hold down all of the carbohydrates and wine because my stomach rolls and turns and tells me that the whole world is going to implode because my son is going to kindergarten.

Or something.

I could tell that Sebastian was nervous last night when he told me he didn't love me because I took away his cup of water he was using to stall going to bed.  That's not like him.  I mean, yeah, he loses his shit occasionally over stupid things because the world is so cruel to him and it's hard out here for a 5 year old, of course.  But this was different.

I told him that wasn't very nice and I came downstairs and cried, then made him homemade chocolate treats for his lunchbox because MY BABY IS GOING TO SCHOOL.

This morning, the first thing he did when he came downstairs was to tell me how sorry he was for saying that and that he didn't mean it.  And then he let me kiss him.

We walked him into school and sat with him while he ate his free breakfast, then walked him to the gym where all the students gathered first thing in the morning.

And then we left.

And then Adele and I went home and she peed on the couch because I was cleaning the kitchen and wasn't paying attention to her.

Maybe I've changed my mind on the third baby.

When Sebastian got off the school bus I had a whole 7 minutes of him telling me about his day over homemade muffins before he had had enough and wanted to play on the ipod.

I'll take it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

If you'll excuse me I have to go hippie up my lifestyle now

I probably shouldn't be taking the time to blog because my house looks like life exploded inside of it in the form of unmade beds and toys and random dishes and Duplos all over every room because a grumpy little girl threw them at me. 

Also I've scheduled myself to can a bunch of crushed tomatoes this afternoon, thanks to my parents and their abundance of romas that they are willing to share.  And I'm making yogurt as soon as the milk thaws.  And I want to try coconut milk yogurt on account of all the paleo that's happening in our lives right now.  Also I'm making Quark for Chris' mom, which for those of you who have no idea what it is, much like myself before my German mother-in-law, it's a sort of yogurt-cheese-thing that can be used to make cakes (Quark-Sahne Cake!) or savory dishes. 

First day of kindercamp.  Before he left me on the bus
and I went inside and forced myself not to throw up or
cry, because MY BABY!
And tonight is Sebastian's open house for kindergarten (!!!!!!!!).  He went to kinder-camp last week to get him used to his classroom and teacher and general school-related atmosphere.  He insisted on riding the bus, which I thought I was okay with until I put him on the bus and my stomach dropped and I felt like I didn't give him enough of a goodbye and my heart hurt because I wasn't going to be walking him into school and you better believe I won't be making that mistake the first day of actual school, though now that he's already ridden the bus he's questioning why I have to drive him. 

As his father told him, "IT'S FOR YOUR MOTHER, CHILD."

And then when it was time for him to leave school I sat on the porch to wait for the bus to drop him off.  And then I waited some more.  And even more.  And 45 minutes after he was let out of kindercamp that is all of FIVE WHOLE MINUTES from our house I started calling the school.  But unfortunately I was not unique and I'm assuming that all the other mothers of bus riders had the same hyperventilating worry and the phone was busy the entire 12 times I called.

Oh yes I did.

But he made it home fine, if an hour and ten minutes after camp ended. BUT WHO'S COUNTING?

To compensate for my stress level I took the kids out to McDonalds.  I ate a quarter pounder with bacon.  At least the bacon was paleo, I guess.

So tonight I will meet Sebastian's teacher and attempt not to cry when I see the room where he will be spending all of his time away from me.  I think he's a little nervous, too.  We've had some behavior issues, and then this morning he told me he had a bad dream where I drove away from him and the school bus left him and he had to find his own way home.

I told him (again) that he doesn't have to ride the bus, that I will drive him if he'd prefer, but he told me that IT WAS JUST A DREAM, MOM.  IT WASN'T REAL.

He's also been letting me kiss him without smacking me in the face, so that's been nice.  Although he tells me every time that he doesn't like kisses because they are gross.

So to sum up, I'm batshit crazy on account of all the Hippie Homesteading I'm doing to distract myself from the fact that I'm batshit crazy because my oldest baby is starting kindergarten in two days.

(Let's talk about Kombucha and Kefir next time!  Hippies Rule!)