Wednesday, September 30, 2009


One thing that I really look for in the people I make connections with is emotional honesty. I talk with lots of pregnant women and lots of new mothers and lots of experienced moms, and I feel like I KNOW what it's like down in the trenches of motherhood.

There are so many wonderful things about having these little people around that call us "Mommy" and want only us when they are hurt or scared. It is rewarding beyond measure and satisfying beyond words.


It's also a relentless, all-consuming, thankless job, being someones personal butt wiper, chef, laundress, butler, and milk factory. Sometimes we just want QUIET. Or SPACE. Or a SHOWER without also refereeing a cat fight through the curtain.

There are a handful of people that come to mind (nope, not you!) that are just so Rose-colored-lens when it comes to EVERYTHING, but most especially their kids. Their babies only spit up mint flavored, chocolate molded butterflies! And their night waking is a bliss-filled three hours of teaching baby signs! And mopping up the floor 3857312 times a day is a GIFT FROM GOD HIMSELF, THANK YOU JESUS FOR THESE BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN.

Well, that's all good, but I can sniff out authenticity from at least 2 city blocks away. The real damage to mothers everywhere is done by these phony-bologna attitudes, because some moms (especially new moms) feel guilty about their own spit-up stained, filthy-floors existence when they listen to that crap.

I'm not saying that we all need to bitch and moan about every challenge we face. (I have a cousin on FB that does just that, and it's equally annoying). However, I love to have real conversations about our experiences.

I feel like the blog world, or at least the tiny corner of it that I am a part of, excels at Telling It Like It Is. So thank you, blog friends for being so honest about your lives.

(Also, it must be said, I feel lucky to have so many brick-and-mortar moms that ALSO have formed a community of truth. If I've invited you to read this blog, you must be part of that tribe!)

Many women of today are banding together to support each other through the peaks and valleys of raising kids. But my husband? He does not have this same support either IRL or online. I feel like there is a real gap for DADS these days, in terms of sharing their experiences and communing together.

Do any of your male partners have an outlet for this sort of thing, where they can "bond" with other dads/men through shared parenting experiences? Or is it mostly just a girl thing?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh, Birthdays!

When Joan and Kate came to meet their new baby sister in the hospital, Joan exclaimed with a sigh "Baby Marin.... what a wonderful challenge!" It was such an ODD thing for a 3 year old to say, that it quickly became part of our family vocabulary.

Only, this sweet baby was hardly a challenge. She's been easy-going and cheerful since the day she was born. As an infant, she nursed and slept like a dream, smiled early (around 3 weeks, I think), and entertained herself happily if I forgot to give her a toy (which was often).

I routinely "lost" her in my home. Where did I lay the baby down now? I'd think to myself. Then I'd turn a corner and find her, right where I left her, waiting for me with a big drooly grin, new spit up soaking the front of her shirt.

As she got more mobile we worried about the stairs, the slippery hard floors, the tiny parts of the big-kid toys. We had none of these things when the other 2 were babies... But she smiled her way through her "mobile babyhood" with nary a problem.

So far in her life, the only rough patch we've encountered with her was her 6-month-long ear infection that she got around 10 months and was never completely cured of until she got tubes at around 16 months. Yeah, those were some tired months in our house.

Soon she was a toddler and started winning over the hearts of our somewhat cold and distant neighbors. I don't know if it was the dimple, or the wave of the chubby hand, or her sweet chirping "hello's", but they are big fans of Marin. She even got to forever memorialize her two-year-old foot print in their concrete driveway. True story.

She's not sure why, at such a tender age, she's been given the "job" of helping me raise twins, but she accepts the responsibility with grace. She truly believes that she is my sidekick, and that together we are going to keep those girls in line.

She has a very serious nature about her and can give these dark, crusty looks at anyone who earns her disapproval. On the other hand, she is a very sunny and happy child with a bright smile. She easily draws people into her world and has many fans. While she has lots of playmates her age, she specializes in getting Adult Adoration.

She's determined to get what she wants in this life, but she does so in a gentle, polite manner. If you are not careful, she *will* convince you of whatever it is she is after, no matter how much you initially disapproved.

She is my baby, and I could talk and talk about her. From the moment I laid eyes on her, I felt instant and fierce love, and it has not wained one bit over the past three years.

I love all three of my daughters deeply and passionately, but this little Marin has a delicious, edible, irresistible quality about her that makes me nothing more than putty in her sticky little paws. I just... I can't... there are no words.

Oh, Marin. Happy birthday! I'm so glad you joined our tribe!

P.S. Why yes, I DID make that snazzy little birthday crown. I got the idea and pattern from The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule, aka SouleMama. I love it and will be making 2 more come January as Teh Sisters *also* love it.

P.P.S. Also, I realize that you can see Marin's "real name" on that top picture. Isn't that fun? I'm always curious of other blogger's "real names". Frankly, I'm more worried about brick-and-mortar people finding my blog than I am about my bloggy friends finding my brick-and-mortar residence. Internet security, I spit in your general dye-rection. In any case, I will continue to call her "Marin" here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Thing 1: On Saturday morning we went to a Tiny Town parade where the kids collected candy to their hearts content.

There was also a great deal of that "baking in the sun WTF I thought it was fall" feeling.

Honestly though? My favorite part of the parade was the nice family next to us. You know, the one who decided that it would be a good idea to bring their HUGE PIT BULL to a parade where there are hundreds of children (who, it must be pointed out, when they are seated on the curb are at LOWER THAN EYE LEVEL with the dog, the PIT BULL dog). The same parade where there are marching bands and fire truck sirens and old cars backfiring randomly. Any number of which could spook a dog into biting my child's face off, thankyouverymuch.

I mean, really? Did the pit bull NEED to come to the parade? Did it really get ANYTHING out of the experience, besides baking in the sun?

Of course, when I quietly warned Kate not to sit so close to the "nice puppy", the woman turned and snapped at me "HE is THE BIGGEST BABY IN THE WORLD! HE wouldn't hurt a thing. If anything, if he gets scared, he'll just jump into his daddy's lap."

Look, call me crazy, and trust me, I'd love to believe you. HOWEVER, your dog should be at home. Or at least more than 6 inches from my child's face.

Thing 2: A friend invited us over to pick apples. From her yard. Her pretty, spacious, out-in-the-country yard.

Here's my kids, just hanging by an rustic wall, not being forced AT ALL by their mother to "pose" for a picture:

Also, not being forced at all into a "here's our family, picking apples" type of picture:

They looked so thrilled to be alive! And taking pictures!

Thing 3: THIS child had her "1st day of school" today.

After a slight wardrobe malfunction this morning (wherein she accidentially got the back 50% of her dress wet with toilet water), this was Outfit #2 of the day- a little 70's vintage number I got at a garage sale for a quarter. And of course, an old Dora backpack of the twins', complete with broken parts!

Thing 4: These two are home from school early today. Nope, not H1N1*, just a routine "early out" day. See how close they choose to sit next to each other while watching tv? Awwwwww. They are loving school and loving being apart and loving coming together again to walk home. Seriously, their transition to 1st grade/seperate classrooms could not be any more rainbows and unicorn kisses. Happy!

Thing 5: Someone has a birthday on Friday.

And someone else on our household is a bit sad about her baby being a BIG THREE YEAR OLD. Boo!

*I have to say, after all the talk, all the hype, all the notes home from school, the wondering about the vaccine, the statistic that are being thrown around about who's at risk ETC ETC ETC, I'm just ready for my kids to get the damn SWINE FLU already and get it over with. This way we'd a) have natural immunity to it and b) be done with it and c) MOVE ON ALREADY.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I made a decision today. To go off of Zoloft.

Marin has a birthday this week, and a party and birthday company coming this weekend, so I'll wait until next week to start the weaning process.

I'm going to consult our family doctor as to her recommendations. I assume I'll go down to a lower dose for a length of time and then either go off of it completely or go to an even lower dose for awhile.

This was not an easy decision to make, as I have waxed poetic many a time about how much I loved how Zoloft made me feel. I feel calmer, more in control, less frazzled, less wound too tight while taking it.

However, last December/January, I increased my dosage because the (very low) dose I had been taking was no longer working. Since the increase I have noticed a few unsavory side effects:

1. Weight gain. Like more than 30 lbs. My diet/exercise has not changed really at all, unless I get more exercise and eat healthier. And yet. 30! pounds!

2. I feel tired, heavy, and groggy much of the time. Yes, part of this is likely Teh Anemia. But I've been taking iron since May and only have noticed a slight decrease in fatigue.

3. Foggy-brained. I feel forgetful, too spaced out, and like I have the worst memory IN THE WORLD. And usually, I have a steel trap for a brain!

A friend lent me her copy of The Chemistry of Joy, which I intend to read in the next week too. As I understand it, the book is a case against taking SSRI's for the long term. So, at least that will be encouraging.

Mostly, I just want to see how I do without it. I don't like the idea of taking a synthetic drug EVERY DAY FOREVAH AND EVAH, ya know? Especially one that effects the brain. Also, it only makes sense that over time, I will continue to need to increase my dosage for to achieve the same positive results of the drug, while at the same time increasing the negative side effects too.

I'm not against trying a different drug if I need it. I've wasted enough of my motherhood years being anxious and/or depressed. But maybe I've also gained the coping skills, support network, and knowledge to deal with myself without drugs. Maybe?

If any of you have experience going off of an SSRI drug, I'd love to hear from you! What worked? How did you do it? How long until you felt detoxed?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Produce Catch-Up

The CSA produce is still coming, fast and furious, and we've enjoyed (nearly) all of it. I'm so glad that I decided to photograph each week's selections, not only because I think all that fresh produce is beautiful (because I do), but also because I think it will be useful during the (soon up-coming!) L-O-N-G winter. I can browse the photos, remembering the tastes of the summer past... the tastes of the summer to come!

So it may not make for super-exciting blog fodder, but I like the record I'll have in the future.


Week 8:

Basil, purple basil, zukes, broccoli, fennel, sweet corn, cukes
kohlrabi, green beans, purple beans, and garlic

Most (well, ok ALL) of that basil was quickly and feverishly made into basil pesto on the eve of our trip to South Dakota. The zucchini went into zucchini bread, the broccoli made it's way into the freezer with the pesto, the corn and cukes were immediately consumed, as was the beans (albeit not as enthusiastically).

The fennel went into a recipe that Erin so kindly left on this post and it was DELISH. Unfortunately, some of it also found a home in the compost (i.e. it didn't get used up before our vacation.)

Week 9 was gifted to Beautiful Neighbor (b/c of aforementioned trip.)

Week 10:
Okra, beans, cukes, cabbage, purple and regular (um?) kohlrabi, purslane (a "weed"), basil
onions, tomatoes

Mmmmm! Tomatoes!

Week 11:

Okra, some kind of herb (??), kohlrabi, corn, 2 kinds of squash, pepper, cuke, cauliflower, green pepper,
tomatoes and ground cherries (centerish)

Have you tried ground cherries? I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I had NEVER, and I liked them. They are sort of like a really sweet tomato, with a bit of pineapple zing.

Week 12:

Cauliflower, cabbage, celery, potatoes, summer squash, carrots (even PINK carrots!), dill, sage
tomatoes, turnips, and cukes (center)

First of all, pay NO MIND to the zukes behind the curtain. They are just hanging out, waiting to be composted... or um, made into some chocolaty-cakey treat. Second: Celery. Have you had it fresh out of the garden? It has FLAVOR. Amazing. And delicious.

Week 13:

Swiss chard, hot peppers, green peppers, winter squash, summer squash, lots and lots of tomatoes, and 2 small purple onions.

(Don't the colors keep getting more and more vibrant as the weeks go on?)

Look, I know the squash are not to blame, but I have to admit to a certain bitterness towards anything bearing the name "winter" in its name. The summer squash? It has been happily baked and sauteed and consumed with glee. But the winter squash remains, staring at me, from its post on the kitchen table.

Also, do you see that bit-o-green near the top of the picture? That looks like Brussels sprouts?

Well, it IS Brussels sprouts, though not from the CSA. Did YOU know that Brussels sprouts grew like this? That they were nearly as big as a (almost) 3 year old child? I sure didn't!

They came from a friend in town, known in our household as the Vegetable Santa, as he comes quite often bearing more veggies.

Carrots, potatoes, green peppers, corn, onions the size of human skulls, corn on the cob, garlic.... He has a big garden, and he works for a place that does research on growing food, AND he's part of the same CSA that we are part of. So he has MUCHO vegetables, and shares with us regularly.

Sometimes he doesn't even knock, instead leaving a fresh pile of newly harvested goodness for us to discover.

How wonderful to be buried in so much PRODUCE!

I remind myself of this as I put another pot on the stove for the purpose of blanching and freezing yet another batch of something.

Or when I feel weary about getting out the flour, sugar, chocolate chips for yet another loaf of squash-laden fast bread.

Or as I stand before the open refrigerator, triaging the contents in order to prepare the "most likely to become compost before tomorrow unless I use it tonight" for supper.

Because this winter? I am going to long to head to my window sill for a fresh and flavorful tomato to bury in salt.

In conclusion, I have NO IDEA how Ma Ingalls used only garden produce, year round, in her cooking, without the use of the internets! No! Idea! Is it even possible to make meals without at least occasionally looking up a recipe online? No, I don't think it is. (Yet another reason to be glad I am not a pioneer. Or even, a mother in the 1980's, for that matter.)

What produce have you been enjoying this summer? RECIPES WELCOME.

P.S. One interesting thing being in a CSA has taught me: I don't know how to spell most vegetable words FOR SHIT. Example: Did you know the Brussels sprouts had an "s" at the end of brussel? As in, it's NOT Brussel sprouts? And that, according to Teh Almighty Blogger, the "b" has to be capitalized?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Among Millions, Dusting It Off Today, As A Tribute

"Try Southeast Asia, Ma."

"I carried a watermelon."

"Why don't you just sky-write it: Penny got knocked up by Robbie the Creep."


"Oh, Come on ladies. God would not have given you maracas if he didn't want you to shake them!"

"This is my dance space; this is your dance space."

"How do you call your loverboy? COME HERE LOVERBOY."

"Me?.... Most of all, I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you."

"You just put your pickle on everybody's plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me."

"Frances. That's a real grown-up name."

"Max. Our baby is going to change the world."

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

"I think she gets it from me."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Separate, But Hopefully Somewhat Equal

If you've been reading here for awhile, you may remember my post about wanting the girls to be together for kindergarten. After "fighting my battle", I got my way, and the girls were placed together in a classroom. They were, as far as anyone could tell, the first twins to be placed together in the history of our elementary school.

Their teacher last year was a woman who has twins herself, and who kept her twins together through first grade (though they attended the private catholic school in town). I first met her when Joan and Kate were still newborns; she was my "parent mentor" in a local community ed program. It was great, back then, to have another twin mom to talk to.

And it felt absolutely right that *she* was their kindergarten teacher. The girls did not remember her from their infancy, but my immediate comfort with her surely helped them adapt to all day kindergarten. Also, she completely supported our decision to keep them together.

Since she kept her twins together through first grade, I think I'd always had it in my head that my girls would also be together until then too. As the school year progressed, the teacher and I had several conversations about how the girls were doing together.

Essentially, their being placed together was a non-issue. They behaved like all the other children in the classroom. Kate wore a rainbow pin everyday to help the other students (and the teacher!) tell them apart. (Joan wore an apple pin in preschool for the same reason, so it was Kate's turn).

I was ready to go full-steam-ahead with them together for one more year, at least.

But then, right at the end of the year, things changed for the girls. The teacher noticed more bickering between them. And if I'm being honest with myself, I noticed it too, both when I volunteered in their classroom and at home.

When I talked to their teacher about 1st grade placement, her opinion had changed, and now she recommended that they each have their own classrooms.

She thought they were ready to have their own identity, to not simply be "Joan and Kate". She lovingly believed that it was TIME.

This was hard for me for a short time because THEY WERE GOING TO BE TOGETHER THROUGH FIRST GRADE.

But then I had to set my pride aside, to be humbled, to realize that the teacher and her professional opinion was right. That she actually knew what was better for my children than I did, in this particular situation.

So, (*GULP*) separate classrooms it was.

Up until then, the girls had insisted that they wanted to be TOGETHER. When I broke the news to them, bracing for the worst, they amicably and eagerly responded "Yeah! We want our own classrooms!"


Not how I expected them to respond, but good none-the-less.

Last week, the girls had their first few days of 1st grade. I was a tiny bit nervous for Kate, as she took a long time (2 months!) to leave me in the morning without tears.

But this year? She is fine. And they are both content being in different rooms and are happily exchanging stories and comparing notes after school. Their rooms are right next door to each other, and they see each other at lunch and recess and various other times throughout the day.

I am so proud of them for spreading their wings a bit. For having such a unique bond, but for also having the ability to form bonds with other people too. I'm excited for them to have their own adventures, their own stories, their own "truths".

I am thankful for the time they had together, because I think it was a gentle and safe way to first taste the world outside our home.

And now, they are ready to step into their own.

So, how about the obligatory First Day of School Photos:

Funny, I think Joan (on right) had the same nervous/excited look on her face in last year's picture! (<--She's on the left in that one.)

Marin didn't want to be in the pictures "because I'm not wearing a very beautiful dress!"
Oh, but your sunglasses are very fancy, sweet girl.

They were so excited and happy to get to school that we didn't need to prod them to get ready.
Yeah, that will be short lived, I'm sure.