Summer, Diary 4, 2016

Tawny Scrawny Carrot Stew.

Doesn’t that sound divine?

My kids love the book The Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson. Incidentally, I do too… the copy we have is mine from when I was a little girl. We read it at least twice a week at bedtime, and lately James has been talking about having bowls of carrot stew and heaping his bowl with berries, and soon enough Roman and Rose started relishing the idea too.

So last week I made Tawny Scrawny Carrot Stew.

I looked up several recipes for cream of carrot soup, and then modified slightly to match the stew the rabbits make Tawny Scrawny in the book. The description was a carrot stew, with fish and herbs and mushrooms.

Oh my gosh… it was so good! I wasn’t sure at first, as it’s not a combination one often sees, but it was delicious and easy and I would make it again in a heartbeat.

My kids ate it for supper, grinning from ear to ear, and then we heaped our bowls afterward with fresh raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. A perfect finish to this dish.

I LOVE to cook from a good book. Redwall, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Little House, Boxcar Children, The Tawny Scrawny Lion, Miss Suzy… gosh, there’s so many wonderful books out there that just make me want to eat! 🙂

(Not the best picture. Sorry. I took it with my phone, after my growing hoard had all but consumed the pot.)

VZM.IMG_20160605_195723

_____________________________________________________________

Tawny Scrawny Carrot Stew

Ingredients
• 6 cups Carrots, chopped
• 6 cups Liquid (all water, or a mix of water and vegetable broth)

• 15 oz White Fish (I used Cod)

• 2 T Butter
• 2 cans Mushrooms (4 oz each), drained

• 1/2 tsp Thyme, dry
• 2 tsp Garlic, chopped • 2 T Butter
• s/p to taste

Directions
Put the carrots and liquid in a pot and boil, uncovered, till carrots are soft (about 15-20 minutes). Scoop out into a bowl, leaving liquid in the pot. Add the white fish to the pot, another 2 cups of water, and simmer till cooked (about 10 minutes), till opaque and flaking. Pull fish out, and add the carrots back in. Add the thyme and garlic. Use an immersion blender, or a regular blender, and puree the carrots and liquid.

In a small pan, sauté the mushrooms in the 2 T of butter.

To the creamy carrot soup, add the fish, the mushrooms (and mushroom/butter drippings), and another 2 T of butter. Mix to break the fish up. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Enjoy.

_____________________________________________________________

Advertisements

Signs You May Have Kids

Signs You May Have Kids:

• Your toothbrush tastes like hand soap.

• Your spouse’s voice: “Why is there a stuffed dog in the toilet?”

• A child streaking through the hall into the living room from the direction of their room/the bathroom, stark naked. They see you and freeze, and immediately say: “I didn’t do anything.”

 

 

Presenting… The Unpluggable Beast! \(˚o˚)/

The toilet…

… is plugged.

NOOOOOO! \(˚o˚)/

The beast glared at me, daring me to try the plunger that has, for two years, proved useless against the beast’s might. Formed in an oval, curved shape that could only have been designed by a maniacal madman, the bowl is resistant to any attempt to get a seal with the rubber plunger. What happens, instead of the plug dislodging, is the water burps and sloshes on either side of the rubber ring where the rubber and porcelain fail to meet. No effort of mine, however vigorous and determined, is ever successful. Only Sackett Man, my plumbing hero, has ever beaten the beast.

It chose its timing to strike well.

The disassembled remains of our basement bathroom mocks me with its silent, ghostly voice. To fix the water leak that happens every spring in the only finished room in the entire basement, Sackett Man has torn the bathroom down (walls and all), and jack-hammered up the raised concrete pad that housed the floor drain (which meant if a water flood happened, the water would have to be at least three inches deep before it could even reach the floor drain). Bags of cement wait in the garage for him to mix and pour a new, even floor, with a drain low enough to actually drain. A carpenter is on standby, ready to rebuild the walls. Other tools and materials for fixing the water leak are ready. Waiting.

But for now… there is nothing. Nothing but a room-sized, gaping hole in our basement floor. Bare dirt. A silent testament to what was and what will be.

There is only one toilet in the house now. One, for the use of a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy and her desperate, hourly trips. One, for the use of two potty-trained children, who often need to use it at the same time.

One.

And it plugged.

It was only 10:30 this morning when it happened. My mind raced. What could I do? I was facing an entire day, with little kids, with no working toilet!

It is in the 50’s today, bright and sunny, but did I dare send my two sons outside every time nature called, into the mud and melting snow? Did I dare go outside, every hour, hiking entirely too far to get to our woods so that I could answer ‘the call’ in privacy, beyond the curious eyes of three little kids and the many windows of our house? I couldn’t hike that far. I’ve had three false labors already; I didn’t need to have the real one out in the woods!

No. While my oldest could stand on the edge of the deck, my second was too young yet… I didn’t want to think what the state of his pants would be!

What else? I could throw aside all shower rules and have them go in the shower. It had a drain, and could be easily cleaned. I was pleased with this solution. No muss, no fuss. But then my eldest posed a very dark and disturbing question: What about… number two?

Oh no. There was no plan for this. No good way to fix it. What about Two? That was NOT happening in my shower!!! I couldn’t see any good way of having the two little ones going outside for it, either. Not in the mud and barely-melting snow, and we certainly didn’t want a surprise of that sort in our yard when spring really, truly came!

I could line a pail or a bucket with plastic bags, but then I would have to help them perch by holding them up above the bucket so they didn’t fall in. Kids are heavy. Not pregnant, I could do this. Nine months pregnant? This was not a good plan. I scratched it immediately.

And then it came to me. The potty chair! The one we had put away months and months ago! The boys could easily use that! And if I lined the bowl with a bag, that would make any cleanup the easiest thing ever!

With more delight than a scientist discovering renewable, unending world energy, I set about my task. I made my single trek downstairs to the basement (my doctor has limited me to stairs once a day). I found the potty chair, brought it up, and cleaned the dust from it. I lined it lovingly with a plastic shopping bag. I set it gently against the wall in the bathroom, and put the free-standing toilet paper holder beside it with great care. I took blue painter’s tape and taped the toilet-beast shut. And then I called in my two-member troop of boys, and explained to them what to do when they needed to go. I was met with approval, but not the applause I was hoping for.

Oh well. I thought. Someday, when they are grown and have children of their own, they will understand.

Silently, I cheered.

The toilet, unpluggable beast that it is, thought it had finally beaten me. But I have risen victorious and found a way.

The day may be long. The hours will not be the easiest. But we will survive.

And when evening comes, so too shall Sackett Man, riding up the driveway in his noble green pickup.

With his toilet auger.

Nesting a Car

Nesting is a funny thing. We ready-to-pop pregnant mothers have so little energy, but a buzz of unexpected, out of the blue get-up-and-go can enable us to do some hard stuff. I have so little energy right now, and the little mister inside of me is currently grinding his head into some rather painful nerves, making it hard to walk and causing my sciatic to go bonkers. Naughty boy! So moving is difficult, to say the least. But yesterday I went down into our attached garage to clean the seat where our baby will go. Vacuum up the crumbs, clean off the spill of milk from my daughter, and then hook in the base for his infant car seat. I took a big rag, some safe cleaner, and the dustbuster to vacuum up the crud and crumbs.

About ten minutes later I realized I was upside down vacuuming under the seat, and that I’d removed two car mats already. And I couldn’t stop! I just kept removing mats and vacuuming and vacuuming and vacuuming, crawling and getting myself into crazy positions to try and get the crumbs and crud that liked to hide in out-of-the-way places and corners, and then I took my rag and cleaner and scrubbed and scrubbed. Then I took the rubber mats and dumped them in the tub of our basement bathroom, grabbed a cleaning brush, and washed and scoured them till they looked like new. Finally, an hour-and-a-half later, I hooked in the infant car seat and shut the doors. (Don’t worry, I had turned off all the lights to save the battery.)

The car doesn’t look brand-spanking new, but it’s pretty good. It’s the best that a fully-pregnant woman could do, anyway!

You should have seen the look Sackett Man gave me when he came home from work. “Not to criticize, but was that the best thing for you to do right now?” he asked, concerned. “I mean, you can hardly walk…”

I hobbled around, my baby boy grinding his head, nerves pinching and hurting like fire and my sciatic twanging away as I tried to prepare supper. “Right now, I go when the energy’s good!”

He shook his head in exasperation, but his green eyes were soft and tender, and a little smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.

And once the kids were in bed, he treated me to a leg and foot rub. 🙂

The Two Week Drain

We’re nearing the end. Hallelujah. Not that I don’t love parts of being pregnant… but this last month has quickly propelled me to an early state of “I’m ready when you are!”. Especially the last two weeks. I had spotting two weeks ago, and ended up under observation for five hours being poked, prodded, ultrasound-ed, and monitored. It was nothing. He’d shifted down, causing the stitches of my cerclage to pull. That was it.

The next week I got the mother of all stomach flus. It would have been bad enough getting it on a normal day, but getting it while eight months pregnant? At one point I was crying and begging God to ‘just take me now’. It took three days to get to a point where I could eat normal food without my stomach cringing.

Two days later I started contracting. I laid down on the couch, drank water, did everything one is supposed to, but pretty soon I was timing the contractions to about ten minutes apart. Which for me means “Get in the car NOW!” (I have 3 hour labors. Fast and Furious, according to my doctor.) In the car it went from six minutes apart down to four. I labored with contractions four minutes apart for TWO HOURS at the hospital. The doctor on call wasn’t my doctor, and he did not believe me when I told him that I have three-hour labors. It took them two hours just to check and see if the labor was real, and I still had my cerclage in. Because of my repeated insistence and my husband and my mother’s pushing he finally called some other specialists, and was flatly told that due to my history, YES, the cerclage should come out. Even if this labor turned out to be false. Because I live 40 minutes from the hospital, I’m home alone during the day with my three children, the next time could be real, and let’s just say that labor and cerclages don’t mix. So he grudgingly came in and took out the cerclage stitches.

Within 30 minutes the contractions stopped.

Needless to say I was upset that it had turned out to be false. It’s hard being in labor that long and being all ready to welcome your little one and dealing with a difficult doctor and then having it all be for nothing! The one good thing is that I no longer have the stitches to worry about. If I go into labor now, I can just proceed like a normal woman and have my baby. Yay!

Perhaps God had this happen so that we went from almost-prepped to totally prepped. Not only is my cerclage out (a HUGE stresser gone), but I have packed my hospital bag completely (along with stuff for my husband and our baby boy), packed an overnight bag for our other three kids, prepped our room with the bassinet, another dresser, baby clothes and paraphernalia, and got the infant car seat ready.

Now I can just rest easy. And wait.

The unfortunate thing is that I am so physically exhausted from the last week that it’s hard to do much each day. Between the flu and the long false labor, I’m still in rough shape. I’ve had to pick one project for the day, per day, and that’s it. If I find I have energy enough after to do another thing—score!

But now I can look forward to having my baby, whenever he decides to show up, in peace. Because I’m no longer stitched shut.

Sackett Man and I can welcome little William whenever. 🙂

Gestational Diabetes

Yep. I’ve got it. I went in for the obligatory glucose test, and darn it if I failed! Obviously my insulin did not study for this particular test.

I felt ill all day. It’s no joke to ask a pregnant woman to fast from midnight the night before until after the 4 hour test is done. I didn’t get to have anything at all to eat until 3 pm. That, my friends, is hard. I would have been able to stand it better if they hadn’t forced 8 ounces of orange-flavored sugar syrup into me three hours earlier, at noon. That much sugar would make me unwell on a good day, but on a stomach that had been empty for 14 hours? Then they drew my blood every hour for three hours to track how my body processed that much sugar. This is all done to see if you’ve got Gestational Diabetes or not. And when they’re done testing you, what do they offer this potentially diabetic lady? A third of a cup of juice. And 2 cinnamon sugar graham crackers. In other words, sugar and carbs.

Now I am being somewhat sarcastic. I knew it would be like this; I’ve been through it before, and knew what to expect. Which threw them, for some reason. But I just wanted to share some of my frustrations with being Gestationally Diabetic— not because I’ll have to eat carefully, sugar-free, low carb, and have to prick my finger before and after every single meal— but because I’ll have to deal with a couple ‘experts’ in the diabetics department who, honestly, I’d really rather not.

What is Gestational Diabetes? It’s pregnancy caused diabetes. There is nothing you can do to prevent it; if there were, I wouldn’t have it. The reason is because it’s the placenta that’s causing all of the trouble. Placentas become ‘plugged in’ to your body’s nutritional system, and are therefore perfectly poised to mess with your body’s insulin levels. A healthy placenta will leave well enough alone. A placenta that formed ‘wrong’ in some way, won’t. It will mess with your body’s insulin and therefore your ability to process sugar and carbs and voila! You are now diabetic.

The good news is that it ends literally the moment you give birth. The placenta is discarded with a ‘good riddance’ by the body and the baby, and that’s the end of that.

The other good news is that you can, ABSOLUTELY, control it with a sensible diet. I had Gestational Diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter. I researched till I was blue about Gestational Diabetes, and got smart about my activity and eating. I used My Fitness Pal, an online food diary that you can completely customize to give you exactly the nutritional info you need, and I set it to show me: carbs, vit. C, iron, calcium, and protein (but there are many, many things you can track beyond that). I found that 20-30 carbs a meal (3 meals a day) and 10-15 carbs a snack (morning, afternoon, pre-bed) was perfect. My blood sugar numbers were glorious at those levels! My baby girl wasn’t affected at all, I never suffered low or ultra high sugar spikes, and everything was dandy.

The fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the gestational diabetes counselor and the g. d. nutritionist. After one meeting with the nutritionist I refused to see her anymore. The reason? Here’s one of many: she told me to eat a full cup of ice cream for my evening snack because the ‘protein content was worth it’. And what about the sugar content? You know, the sugar that could make me spike, said spike could mess with my growing baby, and I might need insulin shots to control it? She just shrugged and said ‘Then you’ll need insulin. No big deal.’

The g. d. counselor was very upset with me for several sessions because I wasn’t eating enough carbs. She wanted me to eat 40-60 carbs per meal, and if that caused problems for my blood sugar I could just take insulin. Needless to say I didn’t do that. I continued eating the amount I’d found worked, and I and the baby continued to be healthy. She scolded me. I was nutritionally depriving my baby and being irresponsible. I finally went onto www.myfitnesspal.com and printed off the last 3 weeks of my food diary and took it in to her. She was quite suspicious (insultingly so) and dubiously took the papers from me. Her expression changed as she glanced through, and soon she was mumbling something about ‘one of the best diets she’s seen’ and ‘tons of good nutrition here’ and ‘maybe I was all right.’

For example: for breakfast that morning I had made myself a 2 egg omelette with a slice of cheese, a ton of sautéd greens and cabbage, and a cup of decaf coffee with a splash of whole milk. Low carb, delicious, and so so satisfying! It’s still one of my favorite breakfasts.

Now, two years later, I have a perfectly healthy and rambunctious 18 month old daughter, and I am pregnant with a healthy baby boy. And darn it all, if I don’t have to start dealing with those two medical diabetes ‘experts’ again!

So please, mothers, if you find yourself gestationally diabetic: educate yourself. You may luck out and end up working with a fantastic g.d. counselor and nutritionist (my sister-in-law did). But if you end up with people like I did… take what they say with a huge grain of salt and educate yourself and do what’s best. Please.

No one knows you and your baby like you do anyway.

 


 

Check out my pinterest board for low carb meal ideas: http://www.pinterest.com/phoenixvoice/the-low-carb-plan/

 

Pregnancy Advice, from the Experts(?), to a Mother of Three

The holidays are over. Fun, food, gifts, family, visiting…

… wait… where’d my SLEEP go?!!! I’m sure one is supposed to get at least ONE morning to sleep in during the holiday break!

You mean I missed it? I missed my chance?

I’m going to lay my head on the table and cry now.

Sackett Man kindly told me the other day that my being tired right now, in this third trimester, is good practice for March. If I think I’m tired now…! Ohhh, just wait! Of course I refrained from pointing out that we have three children already, so I am well aware of the malady that afflicts twelve out of ten mothers who have new infants. Somnus Privatio is the technical term. We know it by it’s common name: sleep deprivation.

I have been feeling the effects of Somnus Privatio most acutely this pregnancy, and was interested in the possible causes. I first looked up the effect on the mother’s body of growing a human being from scratch. It’s actually quite incredible and also a bit… well, almost unbelievable. Did you know that in order to successful nurture and grow another human being, the energy output of the body is equivalent to running a marathon? Every day? Without having trained first?

No wonder I’m tired. I’ve been running a marathon every day for 202 days!

I also have kids. Three of them. Did you know that kids are a major cause of Somnus Privatio among parents?

I’m pregnant, and a stay-at-home mom of three, and I homeschool. I have Somnus Privatio coming out of my ears.

To combat this fatigue, experts say one should get plenty of safe exercise, lots of sleep, and naps. One should schedule one’s nightly routine so that one always goes to bed at the same time, and make sure you get 10-12 hours of sleep. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before you go to bed, but a eat a snack right before lying down to combat any heartburn or queasiness! Don’t work too much in the evening as that will keep your energy levels up and mess with being able to go to sleep. If you’re tired, sleep! 30 minute catnaps through-out the day, whenever you need one.

Now I realize that much of this advice is for new mothers who have the luxury of owning their own schedule. But what about for us veterans who lost said ownership years ago?

Safe exercise? I’ve decided that taking care of three children under the age of six counts.

A scheduled nightly routine? My kids have a nightly routine. Mine consists of ‘get done what I can now that the kids are in bed, fit in time with Sackett Man, and hope I remember to brush my teeth before I topple over on the couch in the middle of what I’m doing!’

I’m kidding. It’s not really that bad.

(Yes it is.)

10-12 hours of sleep? That sounds lovely! When I’m retired and mature that luxury will at last be mine! Mwa ha ha! For now I’ll have to do with 7-8 hours. Chopped up into little bitty pieces with bathroom breaks, little kids, and a teething toddler. (So make it 5-7, depending on the night.)

Don’t eat too close to bedtime, but eat something so that you don’t get heartburn? Well, because I’m efficient and organized… (don’t laugh! I heard you laughing!)… I like to combine the two and just get it over with in one go.

Don’t work too much in the evening? A) If I have work that needs to get done, guess what… it needs to get done. My husband and children like having clean dishes to eat on and clothes to wear. B) By the time evening rolls around, if I don’t have to do any work (aka: Sackett Man did the dishwasher, and no one is in danger of needing to wear a pillow case or towels  the next day) I’m usually way past the point of of even contemplating more work, much less doing it.

“If you’re tired, sleep. Take as many naps as you need.” Okay, this is my favorite one. Really. Because in my experience, unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at home even before children, you can’t sleep whenever you want. Much less when you have kids! I can’t even take a 2 minute bathroom break without something happening. What would happen if I checked out for 30 minutes?!

“Sir, do you have any idea what happened here today?”

“No, officer. I came home to a pile of smoking ruins, my kids in a tree looking like Call of the Wild, and my wife standing in the middle of it all in a crazed daze muttering ‘I just took a nap. All I did was take a nap!’ ”

I even get this advice from the nurses and doctors when I go in for my prenatal appointments. I’m tired? Take a nap. Get more sleep. Take a relaxing bubble bath. Go in for a spa treatment. Read.

Again, I know that 99.9999999999% of the advice is for new mothers. You know what is lacking? Practical advice for the rest of us. What can we do when we’re tired?!

Someone needs to write a book.

Here are some things that I do:
A) Sackett Man and I had several conversations, and I ‘accidentally’ left some web pages open on the exhausting effects of pregnancy upon the woman. So he knows, is aware, and I ask for help. I don’t whine about my aches and pains and weariness and the kids and whatnot, and then expect him to magically know what I need. I ask for it. I say: “I did this and this, and we (I and the kids) did this and this. I’m really tired and sore now, and really need to sit down. Could you switch the load that’s in the washer, and load the dishwasher after supper? That would help me so much!”

And guess what? He’s happy to do it!

B) I drink tea. No, I’m not kidding. I avoid almost all herbal teas as there’s this whole what’s-safe-and-what-isn’t thing. I drink: black tea, green tea, and peppermint tea. I am quite serious when I say that a cup of hot peppermint tea is relaxing and rejuvenating (I don’t care if it’s only in my head; it works).

Photo on 1-2-15 at 3.17 PM

C) I try to stay organized. I get up one morning, and sit down with a steaming cup of coffee. One cup of caffeine is not going to kill you or harm the baby, I promise. Just don’t drink 3 or 4. I open my planner and my computer, and I take the time to organize my calendar and plan my son’s school, my doctor’s appointments, the grocery lists… whatever I can think of. One day of organizing can take the stress (and thus weariness) out of a dozen weeks.

D) I cut back on sugar. No, I’m not on a sugar-free thing. I just try to eat smart. I eat lots of vegetables, good grains, hearty proteins… I don’t put sugar in my coffee anymore (sadness) because it’s one daily thing that can make a big difference. No harm in indulging a bit during the holidays or if you get that sweet-tooth craving, but all in all… moderation! Moderation! Moderation! Also, if you can’t or don’t eat a lot of that good-fatty-fish doctor’s like us to eat, take fish oil. I get the enteric coated fish oil (the coating keeps that fishy after-taste from happening!). Fish oil does amazing things in regards to health and mental/emotional feel-good. I started taking it when I suffered postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, and I’ve never stopped! A healthy diet can help more than you realize when it comes to weariness.

C) I don’t ‘exercise’ when I’m pregnant, but I don’t just sit back either. Firstly because I can’t. I have three children depending on me. And I firmly subscribe to the belief that: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Lift those laundry baskets and keep your arms trim! Use your abs when you do things, not so that it hurts and you end up with sore crampy muscles, but so that you can feel them working. When you lift things or do stairs, use those leg muscles and buttocks! Tighten it up! You’d be amazed at how much you can stay fit just doing the everyday. And when it comes time to have the baby, you’ll be so glad you did. Keeping yourself moving does actually help combat weariness (even if it does nothing more than distract you!).

D) Realize and accept that you won’t get it all done, and that’s okay. Pick what needs to be done. Your family needs clean clothes. Clean dishes. Food. Your kids need your time. Your husband needs your time, too. (A healthy marriage makes for a much healthier, happier family.) The floors should be swept once a week. Clean the toilet every week or two. Change the bedding every couple of weeks. Make sure the cat gets fed every day. You know, the important stuff. Because you know what your kids will remember the most later on? You. Not the corners of the carpet being crumb-and-fuzz-free, not the house being Martha-Stewart-perfect. You. Did you take care of them and love them? Or were you crabby because you were over-stressed trying to do it all?

E) Do set a time of evening when you stop moving. If someone needs underwear and socks, throw them in the washer earlier in the day so that all you need to do is throw them in the dryer that evening. They can rummage in the dryer the next morning for their clean underwear. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 at night is when I stop. And I mean stop. I don’t think about the work around me, the next day, the next week… (unless there’s something that needs to be thought about)… I just relax and be. I open my eyes and look at my Sackett Man. I breathe. I recline against the couch pillows. I watch whatever it is we choose to watch. I talk with my beloved about whatever (the day, some frustration I have, a problem, the new movies coming out in theater, what our favorite foods are…). I rub his neck, he rubs mine. My thoughts wander hither and yon, or just settle and I go blissfully blank. I let myself get tired and drift off. And after a while Sackett Man gently rouses me enough that I can walk to bed, and I crawl under the covers and return to sleep.

And pray that none of the three critters in their rooms wakes up before dawn.

“I’ve Got It!”

Every good day must and always shall be tempered with a little excitement.

We are in the middle of an aggressive potty training routine for our second son. With a fourth child on the way and him reaching three and a half years of age, we decided his relaxed comfort with where he was diaper-wise needed to be shaken up. So Sackett Man and I planned. We drew complicated diagrams and battle plans. We rendezvoused  in the dark of the night and whispered together secretly. Supplies were gathered, the preparations carefully made.

On Sunday we took the kids shopping. We wooed them with pasta and meatballs and breadsticks  at their favorite restaurant, then we went to the store, and marched our oldest to the boy section to pick two packages of awesome underthings in just his size, and then… gasp!… our second boy was taken to the aisle where, wonder upon wonders, there were undies in HIS size! And… he got to pick his very own package! Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.21.12 PM

Monday morning dawned. The nighttime diaper was changed, and he was slipped into a pair of undies. He thought it was cool. His potty chair was put in the little back room off of the kitchen, within fast and easy access as he played (restricted as he was to the dining room/kitchen area, the only place in the house without carpet). A Potty Chart was taped on the wall. Whenever he tried, he got a smiley face drawn with a red crayon. When he was successful he got a sticker on his chart and a treat (consisting of one jelly pumpkin, one of his favorite treats). It got to the point that even our youngest 16 monther would throw her hands in the air and cheer “YAY!” whenever he announced a success. We only had one accident, early on, and not again after.

It was my turn: “YAY!”

Must to our son’s chagrin he learned, as the day wore on and the novelty of undie-wearing wore off, that this was a permanent deal. The only diaper allowed to him from now on was his nighttime one. We had a few tears; he wanted the comfort of routine back, but I was gentle and firm that this was the new routine. I wiped his eyes and kissed his forehead, and gave him another candy pumpkin.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.21.42 PMThe boys played with duplos all day, sitting together on the kitchen floor. In the afternoon I made popcorn and set up a movie on my computer for them.

All three happily sat at the table and watched Frozen, munching away on buttery, yummy popcorn.

Around 3:30 I started on supper. I pulled the thawed beef soup bones from the fridge; they still had a good amount of meat on them, so I browned them first in my dutch oven and then I added water and slowly began to cook them through, watching as a delicious broth began to form and rejoicing as the fantastic scent of rich meat filled the room. I was going to make a rustic beef stew for the night. Satisfied that all was well on the stove, I hurried off to pick some things up and put things away and organize and… well, you know, mother stuff.

“What did you do today?”

“I… well, there was… You know, stuff!”

Sometime after four I heard James announce he’d had another success. I, with my arms full of something (I know longer remember what) quickly checked the location of my three children. All three, oldest to youngest, were back at the table watching Frozen. Good. I had time to quickly dispose of whatever I have in my arms so that I could go take care of the potty chair (this is a very important thing to take care of with all possible speed when you have a curious 16 month old). I emptied my arms and hurried to the little back room barely a minute later.

Rose had beaten me to it, and was now industriously cleaning.

Enter the excitement.

A box of baby wipes was sitting, open, next to her, and she was crouched before the chair, scrubbing the inside of the bowl vigorously with a thoroughly-used/soaked wipe. The seat was covered with many splashes, liquid dripping and running down the sides. Rose herself was also soaked, and crouched in a puddly mess that spread out across the floor from the base of the potty chair. The soggy remains of two wipes were left in the bottom of the now-semi-dried bowl.

I stood for a second in amazed horror and mind-numbing shock. My first thought was: How am I going to clean this? My second thought was: How am I going to carry her through the house to the shower?

Rose noticed my presence and looked up at me. She paused in her scrubbing and the biggest, cheesiest grin split her little face, as if to say:

“Don’t worry about this, Mom. I’ve got it!”

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.04.52 PM

My Friend, J.R.R. (No, not Tolkien…)

So I have this friend who’s a writer. And sometimes, may I just say, the way she thinks is crazy.

For example, she once went white water rafting (not like the kind of rapids that puts your stomach in your throat and your lungs in your toes, but rapids nonetheless). She isn’t the best swimmer, and she’s normally shy about trying new things of that sort. But she did this, paddle in hand, with 5 or 6 other people (plus a guide), arms pumping as the guide called out instructions, icy water spraying her from every direction. No seatbelts to keep you in the raft as you bounce and fly along. And do you know why she did it?

Not because she wanted to. But because she thought to herself “I might one day need to write about going down a river. I should know what that’s like.”

It turns out my friend has done several things solely for that reason.

At times I think she’s a goofball. Other times I think she’s crazy. And at others I envy her, because she musters up the courage to go out and do amazing things from time to time because of that, no matter how shy she is, no matter how nervous it makes her. It doesn’t mean she’s done anything too crazy, like bungee jumping or leaping from an airplane. But she has hiked briskly for miles in the wilderness, over roots of huge trees, down incredibly steep slopes, along river banks and streams, through valleys, up and down hills so large they really should be classified as mountains, so that when one of her characters (I’m not giving a spoiler here, I promise!) is on the run, through the wilderness, she knows how to describe it all. She studies herbs and spices so she knows how to use them for medicine in a pinch. She has endured high heat and blistering cold just to see what it’s like. She was excited when she had to have her leg sewn up once because she would at last know ‘what it was like to have stitches.’

She also is a food lover. We have that in common. 🙂 She loves good wine and rare steak and fresh salads. She adores bread and butter, and she will never, ever say no to Indian food. And she’s a bit of a coffee contradiction; she appreciates and loves a really, really good cup of coffee, but I have also known her to come into her office on Monday and turn on the coffee machine to warm up old coffee left over from Friday. That stuff is thick and STRONG… just the smell of it made my hair stand on end. I like to call her Daniel Jackson whenever she pulls a stunt like that! (Those of you who are Stargate SG1 fans will get that.) 😉

Every single song she or I has ever listened too is filed away somewhere in her head as part of some soundtrack for some story she’s writing. I kid you not. Sometimes it’s really strange listening to, for example, a couple songs I have from the soundtrack for the movie “300” and in the middle of the song “Message for the Queen” have her suddenly exclaim: “Isn’t that just AWFUL? Halmden sitting there, holding her and there’s nothing he can do!”

Huhwhat?

(Apparently she was talking about a scene in the book she’s currently finishing.)

She’s weird, but so much fun to hang out with.

Just don’t ask her what she thinks of “Thor” and the relationship between Thor and Loki. She’ll never stop talking.

 

Chaotic Kablooey

Sensationally Uncontrollable Chaotic Kablooey.

Seriously. I couldn’t think of a better description for the last two weeks.

It started as a mad scramble to get ready something we’ve been trying to find out the date(s) for for a long time. Emails, phone calls, calendar plannings, more emails. The whole family came down with a wicked “spring” cold (please note the sarcasm between those quote marks). Which resulted in more emails and a rearranging of schedules and more back and forth because it meant we couldn’t make a required pre-meeting.

And then my husband’s grandmother, a woman we all loved dearly, had a major stroke, and passed away almost four days later. That was a miserable time.

But now it is a new week, and while there are still, naturally, the wisps of melancholy floating through the air, it is still a new week, and I am trying to focus on the good.

Which brings me to today. A stay-at-home mother, with three kids ages five-and-under. The youngest learned how to crawl last week.

Nothing is safe anymore.

I just got off of facebook, where my sister-in-law posted the FUNNIEST blog another mother wrote about being a parent; the ideas and promises we make ourselves before we have kids, and then the reality afterwards. It was hilarious.

I’m sitting here, laughing and empathizing with this woman about the day-to-day craziness of it all, laughing as she described her own disheveled state (sometimes forgetting to brush her hair before going out, and the antics of getting young kids READY to go out). I sympathized with some of it, and thought “I’m glad I’m not that crazy” with other parts of it. And then I realized something: my life is that crazy.

Last night I took the last leftover piece of dense, fudgy chocolate cake (a new recipe) to my mom’s, to share with her in decadence and complete happiness. It was frosted with dark chocolate ganache. I delightedly removed the lid to the tuppeware, geared up for the big reveal, and my nostrils were immediately teased by a heavy, deep aroma…

… of garlic.

Yup. The last piece of chocolaty heaven had been put away in a piece of tuppeware that had (previously) housed some leftover garlic.

Chocolate-Ala-Garlic-Ganache somehow just isn’t the same.

I woke up this morning and came into the living room to find my husband’s HUGE recliner set three feet from the entertainment center (which houses an electric fireplace). It was so cold this morning that he had huddled there to eat his breakfast, with the fireplace heating away, wrapped in a blanket and cradling his coffee.

I have yet to move it back. Not only is it huge and heavy, but I’m thinking it might be a cozy place to snuggle up the kids for their mid-afternoon movie. (I can’t wait for the heat wave coming later on this week! 33˚F! WHOOT!)

Now I’m sitting here in yoga pants that are too short because somehow they shrank in the wash two years ago and I have yet to move on to new and better things. My hair is unbrushed (but pulled back in a ponytail), a blue stuffed lamb is on the table beside me, and a cold cup of coffee is still waiting at my elbow— mostly finished except for the half-cup of grounds in the bottom (because the filter decided to collapse in on itself as the coffee brewed).

Roman and James, 5 and 2, put away their own clean clothes this morning. The piles were dragged through the house and stuffed into the drawers, the neatly sorted and folded shirts, pants, and pajamas no longer neatly sorted OR folded, instead looking like the result of a natural disaster that was stuffed and hidden away in an attempt to hide the evidence.

But my boys put their own clothes away. Score!

My daughter took her morning nap on the floor, laying on a couch pillow, and covered with an afghan. When she woke up she laid there and bawled because there was no WAY she could possibly roll over and crawl over a flat pillow!

Now she’s happily playing and crawling after her brothers, traversing stuffed animals and pillows and toy helmets like they were nothing.

I just came back from telling my sons that no, they could not use the kitchen stool they were currently balancing on as a jumping off point to leap and flip over the back of the couch and onto the cushions, and to “put the stool back in the kitchen. Now.”

They were quite disappointed. After all, how are they ever going to join Cirque Du Soleil if I never let they DO anything?

I am, oddly enough, unsympathetic.

And now I’m going to finish my drinking my coffee and chewing my grounds. 🙂