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Remind me…

I constantly find myself thinking about things to write about here.  All. The. Time.  I should really write my ideas down, but I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl.  So I don’t.  When I sit down to write, you get what’s on my mind.  I kind of like it that way.  It keeps things more journal-like.  I like that I can go back through my blog archives and see precisely what was on my mind a year ago.  I find it amazing how my perspective shifts without me even realizing it.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my marriage.  Well, more like I’ve been trying to remember how I even got here.  Not to say that I don’t want to be here…I very much want to be here, but this relationship kind of came out of nowhere 6 years ago.  I wasn’t even this same person.  In fact, I think back to things I said and did 6 or 7 years ago and I don’t get why I thought the way I did.  It’s weird.  I wasn’t very happy then.  I was looking for anything and everything outside of myself to make me happy.  Whether that was a person, a place, a job, a possession…anything.  And then I met Mark.  At work.  He didn’t make a very good first impression and he made plenty of negative impressions after that too.  I knew him for about 3 months before I started to like him at all.  A year after we met…almost to the day, we got married.  Mark was 37 and he had never been married.  I was 28 and newly divorced.  My line of thinking in the last few days has been something I think every married person should think about on a regular basis…what was it that brought us together?  Why did I fall in love with this person?  It’s so easy to lose whatever that “magic” was in the course of everyday life.

Mark was different than anyone I had ever dated.  He was older than me by 9 years.  He lived alone.  He knew how to take care of himself.  He knew how to pay his bills.  He knew how to cook.  He knew how to clean.  He was very much independent, but he seemed pretty lonely and unhappy.  He made me feel needed, but not because he needed my help with anything.  He just made me feel like he needed me there.  That was a pretty big deal to me.  He didn’t need me to be his maid or his mother.  Awesome.  I admired his dedication to his family’s land…the house and the farm as a whole.  I admired the way he could fix anything, or at least, is never afraid to try.  We didn’t/don’t have much in common on the surface, but we have complimented each other well.  He has (somehow) settled me down…and I think, really, I’ve done the same for him.  I feel more grounded and content than I ever have, and really, I can’t ask for much more than that, can I?

We don’t talk about these things much.  Mark is an intensely private person, and that’s ok.  It wasn’t at first, but it is now.  Every now and then he’ll open up a little, and the fact that he does that – for me – makes it even more special.  I’ve learned not to fight the way he is, just to respect it and let it go whenever possible.  He does the same for me…and that is what has made the difference.  That is what helped me to calm down and stop fighting so hard against what I am and what my life is, and quit trying to make my life whatever way I thought it was supposed to be.  He may not have taught me to live in the moment, but he has made it so much easier for me to do just that.  That is where I am most content.  That is where I find happiness…it’s really not in a person, place or thing at all, it’s in just living…going with the flow.  He has allowed me to be me on a level that I had never quite experienced, and in doing that he allowed me to see how frivolous, even ridiculous some of my ideas on life were.  Not that he ever ridiculed me for thinking those things, but the contrast in his views and mine was so stark that it made me think.  And after I’d think something through I could see his perspective and understand it…my perspective began to shift…and here I am 6 years later, a much happier person.

When I thought earlier today about writing this post I considered waiting until our anniversary which is about a month and a half away.  I decided against waiting.  I don’t need a special occasion to remember why I married my husband.  It’s not been a smooth, problem-free 6 years, but I can say, without a doubt, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I love you Mark. 🙂

Parental anxiety

Parenthood is fraught with fear.  Sometimes even terror.  Always anxiety at the very least.  No one tells you this ahead of time…not that you’d believe them anyway.  Before I became a parent I had the same ideas everyone has before they become parents.  I thought I would have way more control than I actually do.  The truth is I have very little control and it freaks me out all the time.  For example, tonight I was getting William dressed after his bath.  He was lying on our bed…or rather he was supposed to be lying on our bed.  In reality, he was rolling all over, bouncing around and doing naked back-flips.  He came dangerously close to the edge once & I caught him and yanked him back over towards me.  As I was attempting to get a diaper on him, he rolled away from me again, and then it happened…he did a back-flip right off the other side of the bed onto the (hardwood) floor.  My heart lurched.  He was screaming immediately and he was in my arms seconds later.  It happened too fast for me to stop him and it could have been bad…very, very bad.  As it was I kept him up later than normal just to watch him.  He seems fine.  No bumps or bruises so far.  His speech was fine.  He was walking fine.  It’s been over an hour and I just went in to check on him…tried to wake him slightly.  He seems fine.  I’m still going to worry all night.

It’s not just the physical injuries I fear though…it’s the less visible emotional injuries.  I know they are going to get their feelings hurt.  I know it’s unavoidable and even sometimes necessary.  I just hate the thought of them hurting for any reason.  I worry about us screwing them up as parents.  Does every parent worry about that?  The worst part is I know that no matter how much knowledge and wisdom I amass in my lifetime I can never give it all to them.  I can never keep them from making the very same mistakes I have made.  The mistakes I’ve made are countless and some of them are huge.  The thought of my children going through what I put myself through absolutely kills me.  Kills me!  I know there is no way I can 100% prevent them from going down those same roads.  I have the advantage of knowing, at least to a large extent, what led me down those paths.  I just can’t control how they will internalize things, how they will deal with being hurt emotionally.  I can’t control what is in their genes any more than I can control what is in mine.  The chances of one or both of them dealing with serious depression are pretty good.  I hope it’s caught early, and I hope they understand through watching me that it’s ok.  Depression certainly doesn’t have to be the end of the world…it sucks, but it can be dealt with and people (like me) go on to have happy, pretty normal lives.  It weighs heavily on my mind though…and my kids are still so young…there are plenty of other things for me to worry about.

I look at my kids pretty much every day and wonder what they will be like when they are older.  Of course, I would like to think that they’ll be angelic, perfect teenagers and wonderful, productive adults.  Then I remember –  I know their parents, and that’s  really unlikely…not to say we aren’t productive adults, but we certainly weren’t angelic, perfect teenagers (as if there is such a thing)!  So the thought of my children being teenagers terrifies me.  Completely.

I see why people tell me to soak up all the sweetness while they’re so young, even though I’m usually looking tired and frazzled when people are telling me this (because I have 2 toddlers).  I see the sweetness everyday.  Sometimes it’s just glimpses amongst the chaos that my little bundles of energy create, but it’s there.  And I do try to take it all in and soak up every ounce.  They’re growing and changing so fast and it’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

Weekend progress

We made some progress this weekend on our big project.  It doesn’t look like as much as it is, but at least we’re moving forward.  Mark spent yesterday finishing up the siding…even redoing some so it looked more even, which on our old, crooked house is quite a feat!  Then he caulked and painted the bottom half in preparation for building the deck…which he did today.  I helped where I could while the kids were napping, but I’ll get to what I got done in a minute.  Here’s a picture of the outside just an hour or 2 ago:

He still has to build the railings and the steps, but it’s nice just to have even this much done.  It makes getting in & out of the house a lot easier already.  Now he just has to finish the deck, finish caulking & painting the siding and fix all that nasty looking stuff around the roof line.  It has been slow-going, but it has also been hellishly hot, so I can’t complain really.

Somehow I managed to get all the laundry done yesterday morning, so I had a little more free weekend time than usual.  So I started painting the ceiling.  The ceiling is old beadboard, which makes a lovely ceiling.  What you should never do is paint a ceiling like that a dark color.

When we painted this room before, we wanted the ceiling to be blue.  Mark bought the paint & when I said “sky blue” this was his interpretation.  I wanted something a lot lighter, but whatever…we never should have painted the ceiling blue AT ALL, even if it was a much lighter shade than this.  In our quaint, old house it looks totally garish and ridiculous.  The bad part is, since it’s beadboard, you can’t just roll the paint on, especially if you’re trying to cover bright blue…it doesn’t get into all the little grooves…so you have to brush it on, which is a pain in the neck…literally.

I got the first coat on about half of the ceiling.  Ugh…it’s going to take awhile!  It’s amazing what a difference the white ceiling makes, though.  It completely transforms the room.  Of  course, walls and a floor would also completely transform this room, but we’re getting there.

I live in a college town, and it’s back-to-school time.  Generally I don’t love this time of year, but this year I’m kind of enjoying watching the college kids.  Crap.  I just called them kids, which makes me old.  Awesome.  Anyway, working at city hall I see lots of college kids during the course of my workdays.  When I go anywhere in town right now I see lots of them.  For some reason this year it’s making me nostalgic.  I remember moving into the dorm at the beginning of my freshman year of college, moving into my first apartment at the beginning of my sophomore year, transferring to a new school in a different town at the beginning of my junior year.  It was so exciting, so new, and maybe just a little scary…every time.  It was such an optimistic time, though…it felt like the beginning of my “real” life.  Ha!  Wasn’t I clueless?  🙂  And these college kids are no different.  Last week I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart at lunchtime.  The parking lot was full…the store was packed, with college kids.  I could practically feel the excitement, optimism & enthusiasm oozing from them.  It made me think of just how carefree I was during my college days.  It was nothing to go to Wal-mart at 11:30am…or 11:30pm.  It didn’t matter, my responsibilities were so few.  Ahhhh…sometimes I miss that.  If I could only go back and SHAKE that girl that I was then…and tell her everything I know now…it would’ve been even better!  And speaking of responsibilities…

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Our big project is making very, veeeerrrrryyyyy slow progress.  Here’s a little progression of the work done on the outside.  The first picture was from 2 weeks ago, the 2nd from last weekend, the 3rd is from today…

As you can see, there is still some siding that isn’t done…none of the trim is done  & the eaves need fixed still…Oh and we still have to build the deck & stairs.

Inside is not very done at all…but just for fun, here’s a few comparison shots of the interior:

To the right is the window that went into Anna’s room…that’s gone now, which gives her a little more privacy & makes her room quieter & darker for naps/nighttime.

The most dramatic transformation (inside & out) and the whole reason for this project was to replace the door.  Not just replace, but reposition…here’s the interior before & after of that.  I really like the new placement and the new windows look so much nicer.

Here’s my floor currently:

Are you jealous?  It takes shabby chic to a whole new level!  We’re such trendsetters!!

Seriously…I’m hoping a real floor is in my near future because this crap is splintery!  And that’s all the update I have for now…fingers crossed there’s more progress within the next week!

This weekend was the weekend of the big project.  The kids and I left right after work/daycare on Friday afternoon to travel 3 hours to my parents’ house.  The kids behaved much better than I expected and we made good time.  I had 2 very tired kids when we arrived, but Anna did her best to stay up as late as I would possibly let her.

I slept pretty poorly Friday night and William was up at the crack of dawn.  I was so tired, but I had so much that I wanted to do while I was there…not that I accomplished 1/2 of it.  I put the kids down for naps Saturday afternoon & left them with my parents while I went to run a few errands.  In the course of my errands, I did a lot of thinking…this happens when I’m in the car alone!  🙂  All I could think is the place where I grew up is no longer the place where I grew up.  The change is astonishing when I think about it.  The “progress” had started before I left almost 10 years ago, but it has since gone into overdrive.  Every time I go visit there is something new or different.  I miss the fields that used to line the roads between Hendersonville and Gallatin.  I miss the long stretch of road that didn’t have any traffic lights.  It’s long gone.  Everywhere you look now there is stuff.  It’s not that it’s bad stuff…just stores, restaurants, office buildings, etc…there’s just so much of it.

I suppose if I still lived there, maybe the change wouldn’t seem so drastic.  The contrast between the small town where I live now and the much bigger town where I was raised makes all the changes…all the stuff seem especially crazy.  It just feels so alien to me now.  I know the small town atmosphere I am so immersed in now makes this seem so much worse, but I just don’t like all the stuff, all the traffic, all the people.  It’s just so more, more, MORE!

Still, as much as I don’t like it, I’m drawn to it.  I miss the town where I grew up…I miss the city in general.  It’s still so much a part of me.  I guess I do know that, deep down, if I were to ever go back there on a permanent basis (not that I see that happening!), I would fall right back into the pace of city life.  I would even like it.  I would be fine.  Of course, then I would just miss the farm & the peacefulness of a more rural life.  The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

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In “big project” news…I now have a room with 4 new windows and a new, relocated door…I also have a sub-floor on the inside, but that’s about as far as it’s gotten.  The magnitude of this project is starting to freak me out, but if/when Mark gets his momentum back with this project, it’ll come together fairly quickly…or at least it will get to a point where I feel like I can help (aka- to a point where I can do work on the room while the kids are sleeping).  We still need to finish putting siding on the outside walls and drywall on the inside walls…the floor still needs to be installed.  Then we get to the fun part of finishing drywall (ick).  Soon enough we’ll be on to painting & that’s where I’ll be most comfortable helping.  Right now it just feels like it will never be done and the list of home improvement projects that needs done next is ever-growing.  Gotta love an old house!

After 6 years, I feel like I my official indoctrination into rural life is complete. 

Today…I shucked corn.  Quite a bit of it!  And it was grown in our very own garden.

We froze enough for 25 meals…we also had some for dinner tonight.  It was tasty.  I figured the cost of the seed (and fertilizer, etc) vs. the cost of 25 cans (or the equivalent frozen) & I think we came out pretty far ahead with the corn!

I also picked, snapped and froze a few meals worth of green beans all by myself…also from our garden.

So, I have officially accomplished my goal this year of actually preserving (by canning or freezing) some of our harvest.  I’m just a little bit proud!  🙂

The garden isn’t done, of course, we’re still picking zucchini and cucumbers on a regular basis.  The cucumbers we eat fresh or pickle…the zucchini we grill or saute.  We had grilled zucchini with onions tonight…along with the aforementioned corn (also grilled) and steak.  Mmmmm…

The tomatoes…why do I never have good luck with tomatoes?  Ahhhh…I’m doing my best to baby the 4 plants we have.  I weeded the heck out of them this weekend and just finished spraying them with organic plant food.  We’ve had a very wet summer and the weeds have been taking over quicker than I can get rid of them.  After I weeded the tomato section yesterday I discovered that we just might have some tomatoes this year after all…if I can coax these into turning red before too long:

When I looked at this particular plant again this morning I counted 12 tomatoes…on just this one.  Maybe there is hope for my tomato-growing aspirations after all.  I guess we’ll see!  I have no pictures of these, but the next tomato plant down from this one is a Cherokee Purple…an heirloom variety I’ve always wanted to grow.  It’s got at least 3 green tomatoes on it too!  Fingers crossed they keep growing!

We’re still waiting for our melons too…but they’re coming along very nicely.  So far I’ve counted 7 cantaloupes:

And at least 5 watermelon, here’s the biggest:

I got plenty more accomplished this weekend that didn’t involve the garden, but I’ll save that for another post.  I just had to share my excitement about my gardening success!

Up and Down

The title sums up the last 96 hours of my life.  My kids have both been sick.  Their temperatures fluctuated, their moods fluctuated…and so did mine.  Dramatically.  They had tantrums, they had sibling spats, but their were sweeter moments as well.  Much sweeter.  William started feeling better a day or so before Anna did, and William seemed very aware that Anna didn’t feel well.  While she was flopped on the couch watching Nick Jr, waiting for her latest dose of ibuprofen to kick in, he’d go give her kisses, he’d find her lovey bunny and give it to her, he’d bring her sippy cup and give her a drink.  He was oddly and sweetly attentive.  That said, after about 15 minutes of this Anna just wanted him to leave her alone!  It was so nice to see though.  They aren’t always nice to each other, but you can tell they love each other a lot.

Up.  By Saturday morning their fevers were gone for the most part and they had been stuck inside the house for 2 1/2 days.  Anna hadn’t eaten anything put popsicles and a handful of fruit snacks in 2 days.  I took them outside for a bit.  They had popsicles for their morning snack, then I loaded them both up & we hit the McDonald’s drive-thru.  McDonald’s is a rare treat for them, so I was hoping to coax Anna into eating a little something…and it WORKED!!  They each had 2 chicken nuggets (Mcnuggets…whatever) and some fries.  Anna drank part of a berry smoothie too.  Success!  They napped, I grocery shopped and then we all made a trip to Lowe’s later in the afternoon…more supplies for the big project!  By Saturday night I was feeling good.  It wasn’t the most productive day ever, but the kids were so well- behaved!  I was proud of how well they did at Lowe’s…(Anna is a big fan of selecting paint colors).  I was glad they had a good day after feeling so yucky the 2 days before.

Down.  Then Sunday arrived…and with it came whining and tantrums.  Anna didn’t nap at all.  She didn’t eat much.  William was a little wild man.  The highlight was some family time spent in the backyard.  Mark set up their sprinkler in the shade of the pecan tree.  We sat and watched them run through it…somewhat half-heartedly after the first few minutes, so I took the sprinkler off and just sprayed them with the hose.  This they liked!!  We played that came for quite a while before the kids were worn down and Mark and I were dripping with sweat.  It was downhill from there.  William didn’t go down to bed very easily.  I left to buy some ice (we made more ice cream!) and while I was gone Mark gave Anna her bath.  To say she was resistant might be putting it lightly!  She was screaming when I got home.  I took over.  I tried to help her settle, I tried to read her books (as we usually do just before bed).  It wasn’t happening.  I ended up putting her in her crib kicking and screaming.  Less than 30 minutes later I peeked in her room to see if she was asleep, her crib was empty…completely.  She had thrown everything out, and then climbed out herself!  She was lying sound asleep on the floor with her head on her pillow.  I was shocked.  Why?  She’s 3, right?  Most 3 year olds don’t sleep in cribs anymore, but Anna has always loved hers.  She has only gotten out of it one time and that was purely an accident on her part (she was only 8 months old or so).  She’s never climbed out again.  I’m not against putting her in a big girl bed, but we wanted to keep doing what worked for her.  Mark is in the process of cleaning up his old twin bed for her.  I think she’ll love the bookcase headboard, and I’m going to let her help pick out some bedding of her own.  I just can’t believe how “little girl” she has become suddenly.  *Sigh*

Down some more.  This morning she didn’t want to go to daycare.  AT ALL.  She fought me from the time she got up until I dropped her off…and by fought I mean she had a ridiculous tantrum.  It lasted at least an hour.  She wouldn’t eat breakfast, she wouldn’t keep her shoes on, she wouldn’t let me fix her hair…it was a nightmare.  Once we got to daycare, she went right to Miss Amanda (thank goodness!) and I made a hasty retreat.  I felt rattled.  And I felt like that all day.  I had 2 1/2 days of catching up to do and I had a hard time.  My focus just wasn’t there, but I made significant progress just the same.

Up.  As for William, he’s been a trooper for the most part.  He’s not wanting to go to bed nearly as easily at night as he used to.  He’s such a big boy too, though.  He’s been asking to sit on the potty and while he’s only been marginally successful at going in the potty once, he still likes to try.  I’m more than fine with that…Anna still isn’t all that interested and she’s 3!  He’s also likes to be my helper.  He helps me pick up laundry and put in the basket.  He loves to “sweep” the front porch.  If I drop something, he runs to pick it up.  If I ask him to get something for me, he’ll go do it the majority of the time.  He likes to put his cups and Anna’s dishes in the sink after snacks and meals.  He’s such a neat kid!  He’s still a wild little man, but he’s got a helpful side too!

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Down.  In other farm news…our house & yard is now surrounded on 3 sides by 9-foot tall walls of corn.  This doesn’t allow for a breeze of any sort.  I don’t love it, but since that corn pays at least the taxes and the insurance on the farm and house most years…I guess I’ll get over it.

Up (mostly).  Our garden is making progress.  We seem to have suddenly lost a squash plant over night…it just shriveled up!  Our peppers look as awful as usual, but we have still had some good peppers anyway.  Mark grilled some poblano’s stuffed with a cream cheese/sausage/mozzarella mixture the other night and they were goooood!  We have lots of green tomatoes, so despite the appearance of the plants, I’m still hopeful we’ll have a decent tomato crop.  Our corn is almost ready…Mark picked an ear tonight and it looked rather perfect…it was so sweet too!  The cucumbers and zucchini are producing at a steady pace.  We need to make at least one batch of pickles this week (bread and butter maybe?) to use up the cucumbers we’ve already picked.  Then there are the melons.  Ah…they look so promising!  We have probably 7 cantaloupes and several watermelons.  I’m so excited about them!

And ending on an up!  I’ve been on an ice cream making kick since my family visited on Memorial Day weekend.  We made cherry ice cream that weekend.  I made some banana a week or 2 later.  I’ve always used the same recipe, so I decided to try something new.  I did some internet searching and came up with a very rich, very fabulous (very unfat-free) recipe for peanut butter & chocolate ice cream.  I loved it!  This weekend I made mocha frappuccino ice cream.  It turned out really well too…Mark seems to really like this one!  I took some liberties with both recipes…I didn’t use heavy cream for either, but they both turned out very well.  Yum!

Sigh…Another day at home with sick kids.  I guess this explains some of their less-than-ideal behavior over the last few days.

I feel bad that my frustration level (with the kids) has been so high lately.  Knowing they are sick makes me way more tolerant, but even so, there will be a glass of wine or 2 at the end of this very long day!  I worried about the kids all night.  When their temperatures jump way up I don’t sleep well…I’m listening for them constantly.  Anna had fallen asleep on the living room floor last night around 5:30, so I knew she must be feeling really, really bad.  She didn’t want dinner (even though I made strawberry pancakes for them).  She told me she wanted to play with her trains, so I told her that was fine.  I looked in her room 2 minutes later to find her lying on the floor *barely* moving a train back & forth on a piece of track…2 minutes after that she was asleep again.  I moved her to her crib & she slept until 7ish this morning.  I didn’t hear a peep out of her all night.  William seemed fine when I put him to bed, but was awake at 1am.  His temperature had shot back up into the 101’s.  A dose of Motrin and a bottle later he went back to sleep without too much fuss.  I checked on Anna while I was up.  She stirred a bit while I took her temperature (almost 103!) and asked for some water.  A dose of Motrin and a few sips of water later she went right back to sleep.  Me…not so much.  I slept lightly, I swear I heard the kids every time they rolled over in their cribs and I was up before 7 as usual…even though I knew I wouldn’t be going to work today.

We’ve already made a trip to the pediatrician since they are both so prone to ear infections.  Everything looks fine, so we’ll just have to ride this virus out I guess.

Here I sit with the laptop in my lap…typing a blog entry when I really have 100 other things I could/should be doing.  I really need to sit down and prioritize my to-do list!  Since we have a rather major home improvement project on the horizon I could be doing some early prep work for that.  I really should be doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen or picking up the toys that are E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.  I could sort through all the kids’ clothes that need to be prepared for consignment.  I could make Mark the music CD’s he’s been bugging me about for the past 6 months.  (Seriously, Mark, I know you know how to make a CD!).  I should also probably eat something today since it’s almost 1pm and all I’ve had so far is coffee.  But no, I think I’ll just blog.  About nothing.

I’m amazed at how my maternal instincts shift when the kids are sick…it’s so automatic.  I monitor temperatures, keep up with their Motrin/Tylenol dosing schedules, sponge their little heads with cool, damp cloths when their fevers spike back up.  I rub their little backs and brush the hair back from their faces.  I’m gentler, more patient…and I worry because I’m their mom and that’s what I do.

When each of my kids was born I felt that sudden, overwhelming feeling of responsibility…that rush of knowledge that it was my sole purpose in life to nurture and protect them.  If I step back and look at it, that responsibility is so monumental, so huge that it’s scary, but as I’ve learned since I first became a mother in June 2008, it’s something I just do.  One foot in front of the other…So when they are sick or hurt I’ve noticed that Mark and I both shift into auto-pilot.  We hold them and soothe them and check on them way more than normal…we make decisions on who is going to miss work, who will take them to the doctor, who will make a trip to the pharmacy.  And it’s no big deal anymore…not that we don’t worry about them being sick, it’s just what we do because we love them and because we are Daddy and Mama.

As my cousin was discussing on her blog the other day…parenting is largely instinctual…it’s innate or at least it should be.  This week the news had made me sick to my stomach more than once.  There’s the Casey Anthony thing…I’m not even going to get started on that, because it makes me ILL.  Then there were 2 kids (3 years old and 2 months old) that were left in a car one town over from here by their grandmother.  Thankfully someone called the police when they did because the little one was dangerously close to dying.  It’s not just intelligence that makes a person not do something like leave small children in a car with a window barely cracked in 90+ degree heat.  It’s instinct, it’s common sense.  It’s the internal drive to make sure your offspring survive and thrive.  It’s the natural order of things, at least for humans.

It’s been a busy long weekend here.  The kids have been alternating between very well behaved and complete heathens.  Not always at the same time.  That’s been fun.  William has enjoyed (or not) many time-outs and Anna has been threatened with time-out several times.  Thankfully, threatening is all I usually have to do with her…it works, at least temporarily.  The other thing that’s suddenly working for her is counting.  I have officially turned into my mother with this one.  “Anna!  ONE…” (She gives me a mischievous look), “TWO…” (She usually starts doing whatever she’s been asked to do).  If I actually get to three and take a step toward her she scrambles to do whatever she’s supposed to be doing.  Why does this work?  I don’t actually threaten her with any sort of punishment.  I don’t say, “if I get to three you’re going to time out” or anything…she just somehow instinctively knows that if I’m counting I must mean business.  What the heck?!  Kids are weird.

William couldn’t care less whether I’m counting or not…maybe he’ll catch on to that eventually.  I hope so because it’s almost kind of magic.  Much easier than listening to him scream through a timeout…he hasn’t caught on to that totally yet either.  There has been A LOT of, “William don’t throw that.  William!  DO. NOT. THROW. THAT!  William!  If you throw that you’re going to time out.”  He throws whatever it is about 75% of the time.  I guess 75% is progress from 100%, right?  Yesterday he pulled a whole handful of Anna’s hair out of her head.  I left the room, Anna started screaming, I run back in and her ponytail was all skewed on her head.  William had a big handful of hair and Anna was (rightfully) upset.  He went to timeout.  She got her ponytail re-done and after a little soothing from me she was ok.  Argh!  William is a terror lately.

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A quick recap of our weekend…Friday Anna had her last swimming lesson.  She loved getting a little pool time 4 afternoons as week.  She was already really comfortable with the water, so she didn’t need much (any) help with that.  She learned to paddle around using either a pool noodle type thing or a floaty ring.  By the last few days of lessons she was paddling around the pool (with one of the above floatation devices) without the instructor holding on to her at all.  She seemed a little resistant to the instructor letting go of her at first, but by the end she seemed to like it.

Saturday was a day of cleaning, grocery shopping and yard work.  Saturday night Mark and I had a date night.  We had a really good dinner at The Opera House and then a few drinks at The American Legion (OMG we miss The Pub!).  We were home by 10:30 and in bed not much later.  Man, we’re getting old!

Sunday we did more yard work and more housework.  We had some friends over for a little cookout.  The kids stayed up a little later than usual because our friends brought their daughter who is just a few weeks older than William.  They played in the sprinkler and had a good time.  We put William to bed an hour or so later than usual, but kept Anna up to watch some fireworks.  She was NOT a fan of the noise.  We were pretty surprised how freaked out she was by it…usually she’s so fearless.  Mark shot off a couple of things, but it was clear that Anna was just not having it, so we went ahead and put her to bed as well…about 2 hours later than usual.  She was ready to go.  We stayed up and sat around on the porch talking until 11ish before calling it a night ourselves.  We did a few more fireworks, but nothing spectacular.

Today Mark got up with the kids & I got to sleep in a little.  We did a little sidewalk chalk, we played briefly in the backyard, then the kids had snacks and went down for their naps.  Anna gave me a pretty hard time about naptime, but she went down eventually.  Mark and I rushed to the garden to do a little weeding & tie up the tomato plants that had started to sprawl everywhere.  We got most of it done…still some weeding left to do, but it was about to rain & we were hearing lots of thunder in the distance.  Mark managed to squeeze in a little more mowing & threw some fertilizer on the garden just before it started to rain.  The garden looks as good as it has ever looked.  Our corn probably get the award for most improved…we’ve never had much luck with it before, but it’s looking really nice this year.  We have 4 cantaloupes about  the size of softballs, so maybe they’ll be ready in a couple weeks.  We (finally) have tomatoes on our tomato plants, but they are still small and green.  I’m hoping we have better luck with those this year too…We never have much luck with our tomato plants for some reason.  We’ve gotten a few zucchini, one squash (just yesterday), a few jalapenos, maybe 1 poblano pepper and a TON of cucumbers.  Mark has made at least one batch of pickles.  We’re still waiting for the green beans and the watermelons.

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We’re in the process of preparing for a rather large renovation project.  It has needed done for a  very long time, but it’s kind of involved and I think Mark just wasn’t ready to tackle it until now.  I’ll post some after pictures once it’s complete, here are the before pics (excuse the mess on the indoor ones…this room has become kind of a catchall):

This is the back (or really the side) of our house.  That’s the main door that we use to come and go…

Facing the dining room…the interior window (why is that necessary?) to the right goes into Anna’s room:

The crappy door and windows (note the plastic sheeting over the windows and the exposed insulation that’s been stuffed next to the door – stylish, yes?):

The closed door here is William’s room.  See the square of wood screwed to the floor?  It’s covering a hole.

There are 5 doors off this room…the one to the left goes into a small hallway off of which leads to Anna’s room, our room and the bathroom.  You can just barely see the edge of the doorframe on the right…that one goes into our front foyer from which our bedroom is on the left, the living room is on the right and our front door is straight ahead.  Also…the blue ceiling?  That’s gotta go!

It has looked like crap for a long time.  The wood siding has gotten so old that it no longer holds paint and it’s starting to rot in places.  The wood all around the eaves needs replaced.  The door was not installed properly and we have trouble with it constantly.  We either have a hard time opening it (it sticks) or we have a hard time getting it to close all the way.  It’s a completely energy waster in the winter especially…cold air just pours in around the door.  There is very little insulation in the walls and NONE over the ceiling.  The wood floor on the inside is old and soft…so soft that when I walked across it one day (carrying William no less) it cracked below my feet and I looked back to see a nice hole.  The windows are about as energy efficient as the door.  Oh, and where the door is positioned is awful when it rains.  All the water from that side of the house (a rather large area) runs into that valley of the roof and comes down in the corner right by the door.  We can’t get gutters big enough to hold all that water…so it all just pours off the roof…right on to the steps in front of the door.  It’s awesome!  So…here’s the plan:

I’m leaving town for the weekend on the 22nd, with both kids.  I’m really heartbroken that I’m going to miss all this fun, but someone has to take care of the children, right?  😉  My brother-in-law has so kindly offered to help Mark with this rather large project…we have an electrician friend helping with the wiring and a couple of other friends that will help other random manual labor tasks.  Thank goodness for friends and for a really nice brother-in-law!  I promise to make a grocery run before I leave town so they will all be well fed and there will be plenty of beer for AFTER each work day is done.  🙂  Anyway, Mark and I will prep the room the week before.  I’ll take down anything hanging on the walls.  We’ll move the computer desk into the living room (which we’ve been planning to do anyway), we’ll take down our dining room table and move it to the shop (it needs some work anyway) and move the big rolltop desk that is the bane of my existence into the dining room.  The bookshelf may go in there too and then a piece or 2 will temporarily reside in our bedroom.  Mark will take all the door & window trim down along with all the (crappy…there’s that word again!) molding.  We’ll also get all the new wood siding painted and ready to go.  After the kids and I leave the house Friday morning, Mark will start tearing out the floor and walls.  Hopefully (ha!) they won’t run into any snags, but with an old house you just never know what you’re going to find when you start a project like this.  It’s going to take weeks to finish.  The plan of the one weekend (when my brother-in-law comes over) is to get one wall reframed (we’re moving the door to the middle of that wall…it’ll have a window on either side), the siding up and the subfloor and wood floor in place.  If they work really hard, they can hopefully get the drywall hung inside too.  Mark and I will have to work on finishing the drywall (and floor) later.  I don’t even want to think about how long it will be before we’re able to actually get it all painted and get the trim and moldings back in place and painted.   Oh, and there will be a small deck to build too…at least eventually…it will be just sort of a long landing to provide a little space between the steps and the door…Can you tell I’m excited?  And a bit terrified too?  I’m looking forward to documenting it all here…Anyone have suggestions for wall color?  I’m still on the fence.  I do want a color more so than a neutral…but I want to keep it light because our house is so dark overall.  At the moment the front-runner is a very pale icy blue aqua color.  Is that weird?  It just screams old house to me.  🙂

A Good Life

Sometimes I have an off day as a mother…or a whole string of off days. This weekend was one of those times. My patience was shorter than usual, the kids were clingier/whinier than usual and it was just not a good combination for anyone involved.

We woke Saturday morning to a nice summer thunderstorm – perfect sleeping-in weather. Not that anyone slept-in at our house! Mark got up with the kids both Saturday and Sunday, so I guess I can’t complain…I got to stay in bed, but after listening to Anna say “Get OUT, get OUT” (as in “get me the heck out of this crib people!”)about a thousand times and hearing William chant “Mama-mama-mama-mama” incessantly, I was no longer sleeping. I tried though. Oh how I wanted to sleep! No luck.
The power went off around 9am and was off for at least 2 hours. Toddlers don’t understand what is powered by electricity and they don’t really accept “the power is out” for an answer. The electricity came back on just before nap time so we made the kids lunch and put them down for naps. Thankfully they slept, but not as long as I would have liked.
Sunday was much the same. We got up and we all got dressed, we made a trip to Lowe’s to price a few more things for our upcoming big home improvement project (more on that to come!). The kids were pretty well behaved, but about 2/3 of the way there it started to rain. Torrentially. Is that even a word? WordPress says no – I say it is. Anyway, on the way back home as we were coming into Martin the traffic lights were out…not a good sign. 😦 Sure enough, our power was out again. It stayed off for even longer that time. It was nap time when we got home, but that didn’t go well. William still wants a bottle before his naps at home, but we had no way to warm it. That didn’t please him. He didn’t sleep. Anna played for awhile in her crib before alternately screeching and demanding to be released from her baby cage. I wanted a nap. I needed a nap…and I’m not usually much of a napper. It wasn’t happening. In the middle of this William starts screaming, I went in, settled him down and went back to bed myself. 5 minutes later he was SCREAMING…turns out he had his leg stuck in the crib slats. About this time my mother-in-law drops by…not the best timing. This was getting to be a comedy of errors! Oh, but it wasn’t over yet! During my mother-in-law’s quick visit, we got both kids up. They weren’t sleeping anyway, and I had *just* freed William from his crib slats. We fed them some lunch. Maybe they were hungry and couldn’t sleep? We let them play for a little while. The power FINALLY came back on and we were able to get William to bed with a warm bottle. We tried putting Anna back down, but it was just more of the same. I finally gave up and brought Anna to bed with me. Mistake! I’d close my eyes for a minute and she’d be quiet, then I’d open my eyes and she’d be inches from my face. She thought this was hilarious. Then she started trying to pry my eyes open with her fingers. Then she stopped that and decided to comment on anything and everything in our room. I finally gave up and told her to go in the living room with her Daddy. I still didn’t get a nap. Neither did Anna.
Later that evening it became apparent that Anna still needs to nap. She had a HUGE tantrum…I’m not even sure what it was about…In the midst of it, I gave her a bath…she loves baths and had high hopes that this would settle her down. Nope. It went on for 30 or 45 minutes. Mark finally got her settled enough to read a couple bedtime stories and I think she was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
I bathed William while Mark tried to settle Anna. He was upset because Anna was upset. He suddenly decided that he loves the tub and doesn’t want to get out. I had to practically pry him from the tub. I somehow managed to get him dressed while he flails all around. I make him a bottle, I sit down in the rocking chair in his room and try to read him some bedtime books. He wants his Daddy. His Daddy is still in with his sister. I stall. Mark finally puts Anna to bed and I hand off William. I breathe a huge sigh of relief and walk to the garden. Ahhhh…the garden is quiet!
Today was a bit better. My patience at least lasted through Anna’s swim lesson (probably only because I hadn’t seen my children all day). Once we got home, they were tired and hungry. William was whiny. Anna was clingy. It was a mess. We managed to get through dinner and the bath/bedtime routine, but I’m just not feeling like the best mama lately.
We’re struggling with 3 year old tantrums and trying to find what works to either stop them or prevent them. I’m not even sure either is possible. We’re also dealing with the early onset of the terrible twos. William is a handful! He throws his toys. Not out of anger…or at least not always, but just because he thinks it’s funny. It’s less funny when he hits someone (me or Anna usually). Speaking of hitting…he thinks that’s funny too. Again, not usually in anger, but just because he seems to think it’s fun. Now if he does get mad, he breaks out the triple-threat…he throws things, he hits, AND he bites. Awesome. So, he’s been getting a lot of time outs lately. I think he’s still too young to really understand them, unfortunately, because they don’t seem to be getting the point across. I just keep doing it over and over and over again. Maybe one of these days he’ll make the connection. This aggression is something I want to nip in the bud!
Well…that was quite the bitch-fest about my children! I love them both dearly, but they are both going through some challenging stages.

In contrast…Anna has adopted my latest “happy” song as her personal favorite song ever. If she sees me plug in the iPod, I must play it! When it’s over she wants me to play it again…and again…and again. Ad nauseum.
Here it is:

I really do love this song…even if I have heard it about 500 times in the past week! It really does put me in a good mood. I got to thinking about the lyrics…because usually the songs I like best are ones whose message I can relate to. This one is about a lifestyle that is way more jetset than my life has ever been (or will likely ever be). So I got to thinking about it Saturday afternoon during my weekly grocery run…Despite my not-so-great weekend with the kids, they are what my good life is all about. Despite their tantrums and the headaches that they cause, they make me happy beyond belief…so I decided to write my own little parody. You can thank me later. I’ve kept a few lines of the original song because they still fit, but overall…this ain’t about jetsetting. 🙂

The Good Life (of a parent)

Woke up in the hospital yesterday
Found myself in the nursery
Brand new baby
Took me so very long to get here.
I got some pictures on my phone
New names and numbers that I don’t know
Pediatricians at work and home.
Day turns to night.
Night turns to another long day.
We’re way too old we say

Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life.
Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight.
Yeah, we probably won’t sleep tonight, but
This could really be a good life.
A good, good life.

To all my friends on Facebook I say hello
Old friends from The Pub they don’t know
Where we’ve been for the past few years or so
Diapers to sippies to stale Cheerios
Sometimes there’s tantrums, they won’t calm down
Discipline tactics that don’t work out
We’ve got our stories, but please tell me what there’s to complain about

When you’re happy like a fool
You let it take you over
When everything is out
You gotta take it in.

Oh this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life
Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Yeah, we probably won’t sleep tonight, but
This could really be a good life, a good, good life

Hopelessly. I feel like there might be something that I’ll miss.
Hopelessly. I feel like the window closes oh, so quick.
Hopelessly. I’m taking a mental picture of you now.
Hopeleslly. The hope is we have so much to feel good about.

Oh, this has gotta be the good life,
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life
Oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight
Yeah, we probably won’t sleep tonight, but
This could really be a good life.
A good, good life.

To all my friends on Facebook I say hello
Old friend from The Pub they don’t know
Where we’ve been for the last few years or so
Diapers to sippies to stale Cheerios
Sometimes there’s tantrums, they won’t calm down
Discipline tactics that don’t work out
We have our stories, but please tell me what there’s to complain about.

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And now, after that silliness, I’m off to bed. I’m sure I have another challenging day ahead of me tomorrow!