Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Motherhood and More: Emotions spin as Mom heads back to work*

I can’t call myself a stay-at-home mom anymore.

You see, I got a real-live, brush-your-hair-every-day, leave-the-house type of job. And I’m so excited, so thrilled and so nervous.

It’s been a long time — three and a half years — since I’ve worked in an office, outside of my home. And I know it’s conceited to think the whole world stopped once I left the workforce, but in some ways, that’s how it feels. I feel like I’ve been in limbo a bit, waiting for something. I honestly didn’t have specific plans of what I would do once it was time for me to go back to work. Or even when it would be time for me to go back to work.

I’ve applied for a few jobs over the years, mostly because it’s financially difficult to live on one salary with two children. But I half hoped I wouldn’t be chosen because then I wouldn’t have to deal with leaving my kids. So it was never a huge disappointment when I didn’t get a call.

But when I saw this job, I knew it would be perfect. It’s a writing job, close by and starts part time. So maybe I can ease back into the world again.

The thing that is causing me the most anxiety, though, is my daughter.

My son was in day care from the time he was 3 months old until he was 2 1/2. And then at 3, he was in preschool. So he’s always had time away from me. He’s a social little guy and the only thing that will be different for him is he will ride the bus to a day care in the afternoon and probably will not be allowed to watch as much television as he does at home. He is, of course, terribly upset at that fact, but I’m sure he will adjust. This way, I don’t have to always be the bad guy limiting his screen time.

But my daughter always has been with me, right by my side. She was much more independent as a younger child than my son, but I think that’s because she had never really been separated from me. She knew I always would be within shouting distance.

So I’m worried about how she will take the adjustment. I’m worried there will be tears and crying and clinging and I’m worried she will do those things, too. Because it’s just starting to sink in I won’t be around her all day. Yes, of course, it has been so difficult and trying and exhausting staying at home. But I always knew she’d be in shouting distance if I needed her.

And now, I won’t know what she’s doing all day. I won’t see how much she eats for lunch or how she plays with the other kids. I won’t watch her tuck her baby dolls in on the couch because “they need to feel better.” I won’t be there to kiss a booboo or play ball during the day, or stop her from eating all the toothpaste straight out of the tube.

Part of me is relieved at being able to be a person other than Mommy again. I will be with adults most of the day and be able to think without a small child interrupting me to ask for a cup of milk. But, oh, it does hurt to think of not being available for my kids whenever they need me.

It’s a fantastic opportunity I’ve been given, one I honestly never thought I would have. I’ve been able to stay at home with my babies for longer than many other mothers. And now that it’s time, I’m able to re-enter the workforce doing something I love to do.

So, yeah. I’m lucky. And thrilled. And nervous. And excited. And sad. And terrified. And nauseous. And ecstatic.

And ready.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on February 26, 2014.   

Friday, February 21, 2014

Homemade Friday: Homemade Laundry Detergent

In my quest to be all things hippie all the time, or at least reduce the amount of unnecessary chemicals my family comes in contact on a given day, I make things at home that normally would be bought.  Also it saves money, which I like.  More leftover for wine, you know?  Or maybe clothes for my children if I must.

The thing is, I enjoy making things myself.  It makes me feel like I’m putting forth an effort, and not just going the easiest route.  I know it sounds silly, but that’s how I am.  I prefer to make bread rather than buy it, or make yogurt from raw milk from my sister, or make homemade pizza every Friday instead of buying it.  Hell, my husband makes the beer we drink.  And the wine, when I can talk him into it.  If I can make it, I feel like I should.

I’ve always been that way about food, but lately it’s made its way into the household cleaner department, too.  I’ve made a few things: shampoo, dishwasher detergent, general cleaner.  But I’ve had the most success with laundry detergent. 

Once I decided I wanted to make my own, I searched around to find the recipe/instructions that looked manageable and included easy-to-find ingredients.   

I found Soulemama’s, and it was just what I wanted.  It’s an easy recipe, and one that lasts around a month or so, maybe more.  It was super easy to find the ingredients, and even easier than that to mix it up.  I actually had the most trouble grating the soap.  First I used a box grater, which was ridiculous.  The soap kept clumping up on the grater and I’d have to get a butter knife to scrape it off.  I tried a food processor, but that was worse – just clumping up around the blade.  

I finally settled on a handheld cheese grater, which you can see in the pictures.  It’s worked the best.  The gratings may not be super fine, but I haven’t noticed any adverse affects on the laundry.  I’ve been solely using homemade laundry detergent since the summer and couldn’t be happier with the results. 

Plus it totally ups my hippie cred.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Baking Soda
1 ½ bars Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s peppermint.  I’ve also tried Lavender, but you can find the scent that you like the best.)

1.       Grate the soap in the easiest way possible, preferably not using a butter knife and box grater.
2.       Measure out other ingredients into a large bowl.
3.       Mix well with grated soap.
4.       Poor into air-tight containers – I use canning jars.
5.    When it’s time to wash – use 1 tablespoon per load. 

I get about 2 ½ pints out of this recipe.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Homemade Friday: Not a Valentine’s Day Craft

I feel that as it’s a holiday, even a “Made up, greeting card” holiday as some people seem to think it is, I should probably be posting a story about how my children and I sat down to create hand-stamped, decorative valentines for them to give to all their little friends.

And in this fantasy crafting session there was no yelling and frustration and eating of the glue.  Which is why it was a fantasy. 

We don’t do a whole lot of making things together anymore.  It never ends well.  Sebastian likes to do it.  The kid learned how to make snowflakes out of construction paper at school and so came home and made no less than 15 that I have taped to our kitchen windows.  You know, in case we don’t have enough snow outside this winter.

But Adele, she doesn’t have the patience.  I bought some plastic beads and string the other day which I thought she’d enjoy.  Sebastian was cool making a blue and black necklace, which are his favorite colors.  But Adele was upset that her brother was getting a bit of attention so she dumped her entire bowl of beads on the floor and then picked up handfuls and threw them at him.  Also we don’t use playdoh very often because it always ends up in her mouth.  Why, you ask?  Wouldn’t that be a little gross on account of the taste and the slimy texture that occurs once it’s wet?  Well, yes.  You’d be right.  But Adele is strong-willed and knows she’s not supposed to and she’ll be damned if she’ll give up driving me crazy on account of the nasty taste of playdoh.  She knows she’s not supposed to and she knows that I will fuss at her and so will look me right in the eye and put it in her mouth like “What the hell are you going to do about it, Lady?”

So there hasn’t been much Valentine’s Day stuff happening here.  I can’t even find the heartgarland that I accidentally left up all year long that one year.  See?  It’s when you take the decorations down that you lose them, so I should never have removed it.

I thought I may get the kids to glue some little hearts onto a bigger heart for their father but I’m not sure I have the energy for that.  I took Adele to the grocery this morning.  Well, actually two groceries.  I shop at a tiny local, hippie, organic store and then go to the giant, commercialized, big box preservative store for all the stuff I can’t buy at the hippie store.  We were fine in the smaller one except there was a little girl there who followed Adele around and wanted to see a toy she’d brought in with her.  Obviously, Adele was not willing to share and so there almost was a toddler battle over a tiny blue ball.

I know it's blurry but LOOK AT THE TIPPY-TOES!

And then once we got to the other store Adele refused to leave the little area that has the vending machines because they had a large one with the claw thing and balls inside and she wanted one.  Oh boy did she want one.  And then when I drug her screaming away from that she found a stuffed elephant on a shelf that she wanted.  And then a Hello Kitty dream light.  And candy.  And more candy.  And then the ball again on the way out.  Add all of this with the flood of SNOMG and Valentine’s Day shoppers and you can maybe understand why I will probably curl up with my knitting and my book until Sebastian gets off the school bus.  I don’t feel like prepping for a craft, is what I’m saying.

So I have socks to show you.  Remember last week when I was extremely worried about Adele’s extremities falling off from frostbite?  Well, I finished both the socks and mittens.  

The socks were my own pattern.  I used German sock yarn that I got from my mother-in-law and size 0 needles.  I CO 42 stitches for her, but I think I should have gone up to 45 or even 48.  They’re a bit tighter than I wanted.  I did a K2P1 ribbing until about 3 rows before I started the heel, then knit all around.  I use a short row heel because I think it looks cleaner than the other type. 

In my obsessiveness I attempted to make sure that all of the stripes matched on both socks.  They are close, but not exact.  So don’t tell me if you can see the difference because it will hurt my heart.

Adele seems to like them okay.  However I don’t think my family is nearly as excited over hand-knit socks as I am.

No matter.  At least her toes won’t fall off during the latest SNOMAGEDDON that is headed our way this afternoon.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Adele woke up in the middle of the night crying and hysterical about "M-F-N SNAKES IN MY M-F-N BED, YO!"

I mean, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that but for real.  She is terrified of snakes in her bed.  The first time it happened she freaked me out a bit because she cried and I went upstairs and she wasn’t in her bed.  I had a half-second heart attack but then saw her standing in the middle of her room.  And then I had another half-second heart attack because why was she out of bed?  That never happens when it’s dark outside.

I picked her up and tried to put her back in bed but her legs curled up and she refused to put them back on her mattress, then screamed about a SNAKE IN MY BED.  Turns out, in that instance, it was a red glow stick that she’d taken to bed with her.  I calmed her down, threw away the light stick and she was fine.  Every so often since then she’ll point to her bed and say “See?  No snakes!”

Last night she woke up again, which isn’t all that abnormal, honestly.  But this time the imaginary snake was back.  She was relatively calm when I got upstairs, sitting on the foot of her bed.  But then I started removing the paraphernalia she collects throughout the day – including all the hard plastic toys she insists on leaving in her bed – and she flipped out.  She jumped on to me and squeezed her arms and legs around me and refused to touch a toe to the bed.  She cried and screamed and seemed to completely believe there was a snake in her bed.

It’s a little disconcerting, to be honest.  I cleared out her bed and lay down with her once I convinced her there weren’t actually any snakes.  But she still wouldn’t stretch all the way out and a tiny, itty bitty part of me wondered if there wasn’t actually a snake in her bed.  I mean, I know.  Snakes aren’t really known for being out at this time of year, but if one had gotten lost or stuck or whatever, wouldn’t it look for a warm place to be?  Like a bed?

(There were no snakes.  I feel like I should emphasize that.)

It took two extended cuddles to get her completely able to sleep, which I was happy to do.  She will lay still, unlike her brother who insists on rolling and kicking and flinging his arms all around until I finally give up on having a nice, relaxing time together.

So I don’t know.  I have no idea where the fear of a bed full of snakes came from.  Maybe she’s watched too many of Sebastian’s fighting shows with him, which I always thought she didn’t really pay attention too.  But Ninjago has a few large snakes that aren’t all that nice. 

And it’s hard because I was lying with her, seeing her fear manifest itself into her chewing on her nails, and I didn’t know what to do.  So I held her and told her I loved her and made sure that there were no snakes.

She’s been fine, today, going about her business of taking care of her babies and running away from me when I try to get her dressed.  And occasionally she’ll mention that there aren’t snakes in her bed. 

(There were no snakes.)