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Monday, October 18, 2010

Moved!

So... I've moved! Please come and visit me at my new digs and update your bookmarks/rss feeds!


See you there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our Groove

I don't take well to change, which is a little embarrassing to admit because I've heard that "emotionally intelligent" people adapt to change easily, and I like to think of myself as an emotionally intelligent person, and yet I DON'T adapt easily to change. Every time there is a big shift in our daily routine, our whole life as a family falls into chaos for awhile, usually several weeks. The start of the school year last month was no exception.

But I think, 5 weeks in, we've found our groove again.

I'm doing laundry on a regular basis instead of a crisis basis.

I'm doing the dishes between meals instead of letting them gather on the counter all day, and with their gathering also attracting a swarm of fruit flies.

I'm washing the lunch boxes and re-freezing the ice packs each night instead of finding them-smelly and not refrozen- in the girls' backpacks in the morning.

Our library books are returned when we are done with them instead of when I get the "first overdue" email notice.

Those same library books are pulled out and read daily, instead of sitting untouched in our library bag for a week or more.

In the evening, we are picking up toys and the house in general, going upstairs with plenty of time for getting ready for bed, and spending time together reading, instead of rushing up at almost-past-bedtime and grumpily hissing at the girls to hurry and it's past bedtime get your teeth brushed and sighing heavily every few minutes.

Instead of nagging the kids about their abhorrent table manners, we made a sticker chart to reward them for good meal-time behavior.

Speaking of, I have meals planned and ingredients purchased ahead of time instead of wandering despondently into the kitchen at 5:15 and pawing through the cabinets wondering what the eff to make for dinner tonight.

We've completed a couple of nagging little projects (like moving that ever-growing stack of board games out of my living room- where they looked horrible and messy- and into neat stacks on shelves in the basement) and feeling like I LIKE my house instead of like MY HOUSE IS A DUMP WE ARE HOARDERS SEND HELP AAAEEEEIIIII. (See also: decluttering.)

(Of course, it also helps that David and I are in a better place now too, working as a team again. HALLELUJAH!)

In short, things are chugging along as they should be. There's nothing extraordinary about these simple routines, except that when we're not in our groove and these things fall by the way-side, we are all more stressed and grumpy. When we are not in a groove, everything is harder, and skipping one thing (like washing the lunch boxes) has the domino effect of making 10 other things worse.

Being in a groove just feels good. Like relief. Like a train, chugging easily along. Like it shouldn't take us so long to find our groove, but it does, and we're just so glad to have it back. When we are in our groove, we are living our life intentionally, and we're more peaceful and content as a result.

What about you guys? Do schedule changes, new seasons, etc send your family into a tailspin for awhile?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Priceless Tidbit

In talking about the babywant situation with a friend after work last night, she said "The thing with you and David is that you both want to make each other happy."

Huh.

It's such a simple explanation for our stalemate, but it's so accurate. Ultimately, I don't want to force him to do something that he doesn't desire, because I want him to be happy. He doesn't want to deny me something I desire because he wants me to be happy. We are at odds because we both have strong opposing desires, and yet we both want to make big life decisions so that the other is happy.

Of course it works the other way too- I am used to him seeing that something is really important to me, to my happiness, and giving in. When he refused to budge on this, it made me so angry at him. And just angry at the situation in general because I honestly don't want to force his hand, to compromise his happiness. He is in the same situation- or the opposite situation, depending how you look at it- with me.

This aspect- this honest desire that the other one is happy- is what is so heartbreaking about not being able to reach a mutually pleasing decision. As someone said in the comments, there is no compromise- you can't have half of a child- it's either CHILD or NO CHILD. And it's either get what I want and make him unhappy or give him what he wants and be unhappy myself.

(Note that I do not see myself as responsible for his happiness- he's responsible for that and vice versa, of course. It's just that when decisions can be made that we know will make the other happy, we are motivated to do so.)



For Dinner

What I'm making this week:

Catherine Newman's Pork Roast with Cider-cream Gravy. You really should go read her version of the recipe (and all of her other recipes too!), as her writing is simply magic. She's my all-time favorite writer, I think, and her now-defunct column "Bringing up Ben and Birdy" literally changed how I mother, made me into the mother I am today. (Her personal blog is here.)

Anyway, I'm reprinting her recipe here, in case that link ever breaks and I get to a-craving some pork with apples.



Pork Roast with Apples and Cider-Cream Gravy
Serves 8, or 4 with lots of leftovers for awesome sandwiches
Active time: 10 minutes; Curing time: overnight; Baking time: 1 hour

1 tablespoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried sage
Black pepper
1 2- or 3-pound boneless pork loin roast (mine was tied up; yours may or may not be)
Olive oil spray
1 red or yellow onion, halved and sliced
2 apples, cored and sliced
1 cup apple cider
2/3 cup heavy cream

The day before you plan to make the pork, combine the salt, sugar, and sage in a small bowl, and rub it well all over the pork. Wrap the pork in plastic wrap, or otherwise seal it up airtight, and refrigerate it overnight. Remove it from the fridge about an hour before you plan to cook it, if you think to, so it starts off at room temperature. (If you forget, it doesn't really matter).

Heat the oven to 400 and spray either an oven-proof skillet or a stove-proof roasting pan with olive oil. Place the pork in the pan, surround it with the apples and onions, give everything a final misting of olive oil, and pop it in the oven.

After half an hour, flip the roast over and stir up the apples and onions, then roast for another half an hour. Now remove the pork from the pan to a cutting board, tent it with foil so it stays warm, and make the sauce. Over medium heat, add the cider to the pan full of dripping, apples, and onions, and boil, scraping the pan, until the cider is reduced by half and the pan is full of something that seems kind of like a thinnish, darkish applesauce. Add the cream and simmer very gently, whisking to combine everything, then taste for salt (you will likely need to add some) and pour it into a bowl with a spoon for serving. Carve the pork into think slices and serve.


Since I haven't yet purchased my pork roast, we'll be having it tomorrow for dinner so that I can properly cure the meat overnight.

So for tonight, I'm making Sundry's Creamy Butternut Squash Soup. We have a ... squash problem around here, you could say, with squash occupying nearly every horizontal surface, all threatening to turn mushy before we can devour them. With only the bathtub and our beds left as possible storage options, we need to keep on the squash-eating wagon.


CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

• 1 squash (the original recipe called for butternut, I used acorn. You could probably use delicata, whatever), peeled, seeded and cubed*
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 cups of chicken stock (Perhaps you have a freezer full of carefully prepared servings of homeade stock, from the weekends you spend simmering giant pots of bones and vegetables. I do not, and therefore I bought a container of Wolfgang Puck’s stock-in-a-cardboard-box. Campbell’s chicken broth in a can would probably be just fine.)
• Half a cup of cream/half and half
• 1 teaspoon curry powder
• Brown sugar, some amount thereof
• Salt & pepper
• Cinnamon

* Peeling a squash is a giant pain in the ass. You could suffer through this, or roast it first in the oven and scoop out the cooked pieces, or use frozen squash pieces, or buy the pre-cut/pre-peeled stuff. Up to you.

Saute the onion and garlic long enough to get soft and translucent, but not to the point of browning. Put your squash pieces in a pan, add the onion and garlic (or take out the garlic now that the onion has soaked up the flavor), pour in your 2 cups of stock/broth and bring it to a boil.

Cook until the squash is mushy, then mash it up with a spoon. You could puree it in a blender, but this way it’s thick and goopy. Mmm…goopy.

Add the cream, curry powder, and brown sugar – I used about a tablespoon of the sugar, but the natural sweetness of the squash varies so I’d go by taste. Stir, then season with salt and pepper and just a dash of cinnamon.

We're also having some kind of beef, potato, and carrot stew over the weekend, we'll do our regular Friday Homemade Pizza Night, and the other nights will be filled in with left-overs. I hate- HATE- the meal planning aspect of grocery shopping and cooking. I do, however, like cooking once I have a plan.

The weeks that I make a meal plan ahead of time are so much easier and more enjoyable than the weeks that I don't make a plan. WHY I don't do it every week is a mystery to me, but I suspect that being distracted by raising children, homework, jobs, household duties, etc is partially to blame.


P.S. Yes, the font type and size is ALL OVER THE PLACE, and every attempt to fix it makes another- different- paragraph messed up. I'm giving up now, but just know that the font changing isn't for dramatic effect; it's blogger's fault. (HOW difficult is it to switch to wordpress?)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Over Population

The one thing- or maybe the main thing is more accurate to say- that causes me to pause when I think about adding to our family is over-population. I'm actually surprised that no one brought it up with all the of the "wanting more babies" talk that has been happening around here lately.

I have no problem at all with the Duggars. I think they seem like happy people that are making a choice that they believe is right for their family. They have the means to care for their huge brood, and their children seem like they will grow to be productive members of society. They are making choices for their family that are- in many ways- more responsible than most of us. For example, they don't have ANY debt; not their vehicles or their house or anything. Also, if I remember right, they built their (huge, yes) house themselves, using many environmentally friendly and sustainable choices.

The only hang up I have with them is when I consider our planet. She's only so big, and can only hold so many humans, and over-population is already rampant and devastating in 3rd world countries. China, for example, had to stipulate their famed "one child" policy for certain sects of their population, and while that policy has many negative and unethical aspects, it DID significantly reduce poverty.

I know of people that don't want any children, or no more than one child, for the specific reason of wanting to be responsible citizens of this planet. Most people that use over-population as a guideline when family planning would say that two is the upper limit- you replace yourself and your partner in the world, but don't actually ADD to the population. I even have a friend who wished for twins her 2nd pregnancy so that she could have 3 children without having to wrestle with this morality issue.

Since I already have three children, I am already over my quota. And adding one more makes me feel like an irresponsible steward to this earth. David is not called- like, AT ALL- to adopt a baby, so the only way we would be adding to our family at this point is by a pregnancy.

Obviously, if you've been reading here lately, you already know how I feel about another pregnancy. If David came home tonight and said he'd changed his mind, I would agree to another pregnancy/baby in a second. I mean, I think I would; recent confusion on the topic aside, of course.

However, the fact that I would have FOUR children would- and already does- nag at me a little. Or a lot, depending on the day. Since I already have three kids, please don't feel like I'm judging YOU in any way for having more than two, because I'm really not. This is just something that I weigh, over and over, for myself in my own life. I think having a 2-kid-maximum for environmental reasons is different too from the prolific 2-is-normal-everything-else-is-abnormal mindset Swistle pointed out. (Here in the comments section, if you're interested.)

I'm wondering- have any of you considered this when doing your own family planning?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ten Ten Ten

Wow, it's been warm- nay HOT- here the past few days. Highs in the 80's is definitely a treat this time of year, even if it leaves us a bit confused by the calendar date. Well, and those tiny black biting bugs? Noo-see-um or some such? NOT A TREAT.

I know many people make a big deal out of dates like today's (10-10-10!!), and I have to be honest: I like cool dates like this. I would especially love to have a baby on a "cool" date. My own birthday is 7-7 but I was born two years too early to be 7-7-77. How cool would THAT have been?

Anyway, I took a bunch of photos of the girls today, playing outside in this summer's last hurrah. It was too nice not to take advantage of all that natural light.


Marin and her dollie have matching dresses thanks to my mom. It was probably too hot to wear a black, long-sleeved dress, but she insisted. And while we walked to church, she rode along in her stroller like the royal highness that she is, pointing out any bit of garbage that she saw, insisting that we trot all over and pick it up, and admonishing us "We don't want garbage around our world, right guys?"

Bless her little environmental-bleeding heart... I guess? Even if it means being on garbage duty on our way to church.


This is our old fashioned door bell that David installed at kid-height. I love it, so much. That's all I have to say about that.


Aw, my twinnies. For some reason, this photo reminds me of their baby-selves.

Ha, ha, Marin pulling Posie in her toy wagon. Special place in heaven for this cat, there is.


Our elementary school does a fall and spring can drive. We collect cans all year for it, and when it's time to turn them in, David and the girls have devised quite a system for counting them, including the ever-accurate tallying with sidewalk chalk.

And of course, because David is David, he's also devised a... pulley???... system to weigh the cans so they don't actually have to count each one. I think they had about 900 today. I'm married to a tinkerer, you guys. All he needs is a jump rope and some wood and he'll McGyver up just about anything. Add in duct tape, and he can build an entire motor vehicle.

+++++++++++

Things are better around here; my husband and I are now talking again. We've "made up" so to speak, and more than just the "bow chicka bow bow" kind of making up, in case you were wondering. I feel so much better.

But I also feel so much worse because we still cannot agree, and this whole thing is just sad. I feel like now it's either have a baby by twisting David's arm into it (which feels gross) or NOT have a baby and feel empty and sad. I honestly don't even KNOW what I want anymore. But I'm glad to have my husband back; not that he ever really left, of course, but it's nice to not feel alone in my own life.

Sometimes I have hope- heart-bursting, joyous hope- that he will change his mind in a way that feels like we could go forth and have a child with integrity. Other times that very hope seems so utterly, well, hopeless that I never want to feel it- and all of it's stupid delusional promises- again. Hope is tricky that way, I guess.

And I also have this fear that David is right. That we can't afford another child, that this is our family and adding another will fuck it all up and I'll be forever sorry for not being able to SEE that before it was too late. And this fear does not jive at all with the desires of my heart, which still wants a baby, of course. And so I'm confused.

But we're talking, and we're listening. If nothing else, at least he knows how important this is for me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Good Day

I woke up this morning curled next to David. I don't even know if he noticed, but I did.

I took Marin to have her school picture taken. It was re-take day; the original picture day was a NIGHTMARE wherein we waited for almost 2 hours during LUNCH/NAP TIME, and in the end Marin refused to even leave my arms. Today? We walked in, no line, she jumped on the stool and smiled so sweetly I almost cried. WIN.

We came home and sorted laundry and she was actually, truly helpful. Also: cheerful, sweet.

The sun is shining through our windows, making the whole house happy. The fall colors are peaking- oranges and reds so vibrant they look fake. The thermometer reads 68 degrees. Cold is coming, but right now delicious warmth remains.

The washing machine is chugging away, the dryer thumping along. I found the box of Halloween decorations. I did a few chores I've been dreading, and it feels great to get those monkeys off my back.

Kate and Joan are bringing a friend home after school. I'm making them caramel apples and popcorn and hoping they will think raking leaves is "fun". (Fingers crossed.)

I'm wearing my favorite worn and hole-y sweatshirt. It's the one I wore to give tours of a gold mine in back in college.

My big girls don't have school tomorrow, and I'm so glad. I realized recently that I miss them, now that school has started.

In short, it's a good day.

Nothing has changed, nothing at all. And yet...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Great Divide

What's hardest about this whole conflict with David (besides the wanting and not having a baby, of course) is that we can't agree. I'm not used to us being unable to reach an agreement, being on different pages- nay, different mountains- with a huge gorge between us. It's an odd feeling, unfamiliar, and it makes me feel lost in my own life. When it comes down to making big life decisions, David has been my compass, my thermometer, my touch stone, and now the readings on all of my gages are wonky and confusing.

Because we are usually so in tune with each other, I feel unsettled about the outcome our conflict no matter what happens. Not having a baby is scary in that I'm afraid the emptiness will never leave me. But. Having a baby seems scary now that I can't see the direction we are going or the temperature of the situation.

Even worse, I'm not sure how I'm going to find my way back to David.

I know- wamp, wamp, sad trombone. At least I'm not melodramatic, like, at all.

Really, in many ways we're fine- I know we're fine. We're not seeing eye to eye, but things are hardly DIRE. We're not fighting or yelling or actively miserable. No one is packing a suitcase or sleeping on the couch. We'll get through this.

(But wait, I take that back. I am actually pretty miserable.)

On the other hand, I always wonder what it could be that might tip the scale, that might be the beginning of our undoing. Even though I have all the faith in the world in our marriage, I believe that so do most people who have faced a divorce- or at least they did at one time. My fears about divorce are broad based- not actually due to the specifics of this situation- because I don't want to be that person that believes that could never be MOI. We are not above divorce; we are not divorce-proof, not anymore than anyone else is. Which is to say, I don't think any marriage is completely divorce-proof.

SIGH.

On top of everything, I just miss him. Because- get this- now he's not speaking to me. Oh, silent treatment. You are so effective. (SNORT)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Welcome! Here, Look At Some Photos!

Hello, hello! Once again, Swistle has sent so many of you my way, and I'm so grateful for her support and for the kind words left by all of you. Really, you guys. Thank you so much.

I'm hoping a few of you will decide to stick around- have a seat! Would you like a scone? Can you imagine it if we were really all together? We'd pass around the sharpie so we could all fill in the "hello my name is" name tag, and we'd laugh- at first nervously but eventually naturally. We'd go around and introduce ourselves and talk a little about our lives or kids or whatever. We could even have wine! Or floofy frozen drinks!

I have to warn you though, the conversation might end up being about vibrators, since that seems to be the favorite topic whenever I'm with an all-girl group these days. Hopefully that won't make any of you uncomfortable.

I can tell you what I wouldn't do, if we were really together: I wouldn't pass around a photo album and force you to look at pictures of my kids. Why do I do this in my virtual living room then? I have no idea. I guess I'm hoping that some pritty pritty pictures of the apple orchard we visited this past weekend will be a nice place holder until I can muster up some content beyond Sob, I want a baby!

So anyway. Apple Orchard! (The one we visited 25 minutes after David wanted to "discuss" the baby thing. Ahem. His timing? Is impeccable!)


We've been to this orchard before- without the kids- to buy some apples from their little store, and we loved it then. They sell apples (well, DUH), freshly made apple donuts, hot cider, cheese, strudel, frozen desserts like pies, and various other yums.

However, it turns out that the grounds are even cuter than the store. How we never knew this before is beyond me!

Some of the orchards in our area are very over-commercialized. Also? Overcrowded. This place was so quaint- a pond, roses everywhere, a sweet little outside eating area covered in grape vines that were heavy with grapes, and little benches everywhere. It was truly lovely.



They had a pick-your-own area, where we did indeed pick our own apples. We filled our bag in about 3 minutes flat. And then we just wandered through the trees, letting the kids run and fantasizing about what it would be like to grow up on an apple orchard.

We went with our friends- Beautiful Neighbor and her family- and our girls had a great time together.

It was such a gorgeous fall day at such a gorgeous place. I definitely want to go back often. Though, I was a little sad the whole time we were there, the weight of the conflict with David heavy on my heart. It's not that I didn't have a good time- I really did. And I really hope that future visits don't bring back those same heavy-hearted feelings.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ding, Ding, Ding

(Back story here, here, and here, in that order.)

If you heard bells ringing this weekend,


it's because David finally figured out hmmm, my wife doesn't seem to be talking to me and asked me what was up.

(Either that, or he finally got around to catch up on reading my blog and found out ALL KINDS of information when he stopped by here. I honestly don't know which it is.)

(He did ask me one night about a week ago- at effing MIDNIGHT-if I was mad about something. Since it was so late, I simply sighed and rolled over and went back to sleep. He didn't mention it again until yesterday.)

Of course, he brought it up a mere 25 minutes before we were meeting our friends to go to an apple orchard. Because, you know, that's enough time to have this kind of discussion.

Men!

Well, at least my husband. Sorry, didn't mean to over-generalize there.

Anyway, you would think that it would be better now that we've talked about it, but in actuality, it's not. It's too bad, really, that life's problems don't resolve themselves tidily with a neat little bow. But alas, they do not.

Basically it boils down to this: Despite my talking and talking and TALKING (not to mention begging, persuading, deal-making etc), David never realized how much I wanted a baby. Wha? Ta? Fa? I've been telling him for YEARS how I felt.

He also said that if it came down to another child OR our marriage, he would agree to another child.

Yeah, that's exactly the way I want to make the decision to have another baby. With my husband basically saying I'm giving him an ultimatum. WHICH I'M NOT. I do worry about how all of this will affect us long-term, but I can honestly say that I don't want to conceive another baby under the premise that my husband feels THREATENED.

This whole thing has made me realize that I have no idea what I had hoped to achieve when I decided to stop speaking to him almost a month ago. I mean, I know I was angry and aching for something that I couldn't have. And I know that I felt that it was unfair that HE held all the decision-making cards. And I know that the only thing I felt like I could control was me- so I stopped talking to him, outside of the essentials (like "Can you help Joan find her shoes?").

What I do want is to have a baby under the same circumstances that we decided to have our other children- with both of us ready and excited to add to our family. If I can't have that, then I'd like to have him have a change of heart about it. Not because he feels threatened or "talked into" it, but because the idea of another child has grown on him.

I'd even settle for him not really wanting another child, but seeing how important it is for me and deciding that he could suck it up. He KNOWS he would love the child once that child was a reality. He's SAID SO, on numerous occasions.

(As a reminder, his reasons for not wanting another are 1) we can't afford it and 2) it wouldn't "do" anything for him. And when he says this, it's like saying that frozen pizza won't "do" anything for me when I'm craving Punch Pizza. He says it casually, nonchalantly. He doesn't passionately NOT want another child. It's more like "Hmmm. Nah. Not interested." And here I am, walking around with my body feeling empty and my arms ACHING to hold a baby every day.)

(And don't even get me STARTED on the "can't afford it" slant. I mean, really? We're going to base our family size on the cost of fucking piano lessons and sports fees?)

I wish he'd just go get a vasectomy, so I don't have to wonder and hope all the time. Sure, it'd be for all the wrong reasons, and I'd probably regret it, but I'm sick of being disappointed every month that goes by that I can't even TRY to conceive a baby. If he's not going to change his mind, then at least let's just get this OVER so I can move on.

This sucks, ya'll. And I'm a little fragile, so be gentle. Trust me, I KNOW how much is sucks to be married to me. Or at least, I have a pretty good idea.