Monday, October 18, 2010


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."


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.


• 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.


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.


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.

Friday, October 1, 2010


"So, Mommy? What do the Bluebirds get if they win the football game?"


"Like, do they win a prize?"

"... no..."

"Well, if they don't win a prize, maybe each team could take turns getting goalies-"


"touchdowns, and then they could both tie at the game? And, kind of both... win?"

And with THAT dinner conversation, David and I loaded up our children and took them to the high school football game. Because JEEZUS, they should at least know the basics of football. Because it was homecoming. To see the band, of course.

And while no one in our family follows any kind of professional sports- I KNOW, how much did I luck out in that aspect of the Marriage Lottery!- I did feel a little sheepish that my 7 year olds didn't understand the fundamentals of a competitive game.

The football game itself was totally nutso. Teens and elderly and food and music and packs of big kids and packs of little kids and people we know and HELLO'S! and blankets and hot chocolate and bright lights and announcers and face painting; everyone a frothing mass of school colors; a sea of blue and gold.

Kate and Joan were immediately swallowed up into the madness- greeted and hugged and carried away in a stream of people- looking so tiny and so grown up all at once and beaming all the while. David and I bit the inside of our cheeks and let them go. Every third face was a teacher or staff person in the school district, and every second face was someone else we knew, and this IS Tiny Town after all, where children CAN safely run free at a football game. At least, that's what we told ourselves, as we craned our necks trying to spot them.

Marin ate starburst candy and wanted to know "what's dat brown sing they are kicking" (ah, that's called a football, honey) and asked "why do they keep just running all around?" (excellent question, sweetie) and cheered for the band and warmed her hands in her pants pockets even though she was wearing her winter coat, which had a better hands-warming option.

And then as we were leaving, I caught up to the twins' posse, and I overheard my girls explaining the stars and constellations and which planets you can see in the sky when to their friends. And I thought these girls know things- not football- but different things. And that was a good feeling.

We came home with a pep in our step and had hot chocolate and washed the Bluebird spray out of Joan's hair and put the kids to bed. We always mean to go to more high school football games, and now I remember why.

To see the band, of course. But lots of other reasons too.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stomp Rocket

This stomp rocket kept the children (ages 1-8 years) busy for hours at a friend's house the other night.

We need to get one.

Doll House

I knew our doll house was big, but I had no idea it would fit TWO children inside.

Now whenever I look at it, it seems RIDICULOUSLY big. Ah, because it IS.

This morning I'm having the urge to do some BIG projects around here. Everywhere I look things seem to be in disrepair- moulding chipping, windows dirty, walls needing to be washed, wall paper begging to be torn down. I could paint the mantle or dust- for the LOVE, I need to dust. Or declutter our toys and books. Or have another mug of coffee.

I guess it should be noted that this "urge" has manifested itself in a way that I'm WANTING to do something, but not actually motivated to DO something. Except look around and feel like I live in a dump. And maybe find a new spot in our house for that doll house.

Or maybe just muse about it on my blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Birthday Parties

My kids' birthday are bittersweet affairs for me. I like to make the day special for them, to spend some time really celebrating them. I get a little choked up singing Happy Birthday. Each year, I am smacked anew at how big they are getting, how fast it goes, and how I'm so lucky to have such awesome little people in my life.

Of course, we have presents. My girls like to open them in their p.j.'s right after breakfast, while it's just our family around.

There's always some kind of cake and candles. This year, Marin wanted chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and strawberries on top. She got her wish, and she didn't even notice that the "4" candle was reused from her sisters' past birthday. She had such a hard time blowing the candle out though- look at her face! She's lucky she didn't break blood vessels in her eyes.

We also have a traditional "birthday banner" that we hang for all of our family's birthdays. And I always buy a bunch of balloons for the birthday girl(s). (The twins each get their own bunch.)

David's family traditionally does "grandparents and godparents" for the kids' birthdays on his side. With 17 nieces and nephews, this makes a ton of sense- instead of doing the whole family for each kid. However, Marin comes up reaaaallly short in the "grandparent and godparent" department as my parents have never come for her birthday, and her godparents are scattered far and wide. Therefore she's had "kid" parties at a much younger age than her sisters.

This year she wanted to have her friends come over in their pajamas, drink hot chocolate, and eat donuts. Well, that's easy enough!

We held the party from 9:30-11am. Marin also wanted to do melting beads- her favorite- with her friends, so we set that up on the coffee table in the living room. (In hindsight, this would have been a better activity for an older group.)

To make things more "fancy" we set up a hot chocolate bar- the kids could pick from lots of different toppings for their hot chocolate. We had whipped cream, sprinkles, mini m&m's, and marshmallows. There wasn't much actual hot chocolate in those mugs, is what I'm saying. Luckily none of my friends seem too irritated at me getting their child(ren) all sugared up so early on a Saturday morning.

Marin's birthday was on a Saturday this year, so we decided to have her friend birthday party and her family birthday dinner the same day. I loved have one full day of celebrating her and then being DONE. It doesn't always work out that way, but it sure was that it did this year.

One other thing to note- we've always asked that her friends NOT bring a gift. She hasn't ever noticed/complained, and it makes things so simple and sweet. Her friends usually make her a card, or bring a small trinket from home, or bring her a bunch of flowers they picked, or something of the like, which she loves and cherishes. (She gets plenty of presents from us and our families that she's not lacking in gift-opening, either.)

For her birthday dinner, we invited her local grandparents (David's folks) over. Marin chose the menu of Swedish pancakes, strawberries, and bacon. She hates bacon, but we obliged her, because WE all wanted bacon. (Though David accidentally cooked the bacon that expired in Jan '10 that he'd been "saving" to return to the grocery- WHY did they have bacon that old on the shelf???- thus making our house smell like ROT. I could GAG typing that. Nothing says happy birthday like expired animal flesh!)

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah. Since we served donuts for her friends party, we saved the cupcakes for dinner.

She was so tickled that her grandma and grandpa came over, just for HER. She knows how to win hearts- for sure- and she has theirs all wadded up in her sticky little fists.

I'm writing all of this not because it's such fascinating blog fodder, but because I want to remember- and eventually my kids to remember- that we celebrate them. Everyday; and once a year we haul out the big guns too.

Though I say big guns, we try to keep their birthdays simple and special. I love choosing the perfect gifts for them, planning the perfect day. There was a time that I felt like I was coming up short in the Birthday Hullabaloo department, but now I feel like our own way of celebrating is just right.

Rotten bacon aside, of course.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Anatomy of a Preschool Morning

7am- Get everyone up and dressed, including myself. Help find matching leggings, non-itchy socks, sharing items for school, school library books, and anything else that should be brought downstairs when we go down to eat. Try to pull a brush through my own hair and over my own teeth. Succeed only sometimes.

7:15 am- Get everyone's breakfast going. Make toast, pour milk, cut strawberries, resolve squabble over certain spoons/bowls/cups, evenly divide cereal if the box is getting low, wipe tears, wipe spills, make 2 lunches, try to remember to take a drink of water, skip making coffee or eating anything myself until later.

7:30 am- Start reminding everyone in a rushed tone to finish. it. up. already. Do all three girls' hair, each to their own liking. Ignore Marin crying since she cries anytime a brush touches her head, no matter how gently. As each girl has her hair done, remind her to get her shoes and coat and backpack and sharing and library books and lunch and water bottle and anything else she needs ready.

7:35 am- Hear David get up and turn on the shower. Try to be understanding that he was up late, working.

7:42 am- Remind the older girls that I have to leave in less than 10 minutes. Continue finishing up everyone's hair, since I've been interrupted so many times for other minor "emergencies". Realize I still haven't got a drink of water.

7:44 am- Hear shower turn off. Try not to swear in my head about how HE gets a shower in PEACE while I'm spinning 100 wobbly plates in the kitchen directly below him. Take a deep breath a force a smile when another plate shatters and "crisis" ensues.

7:50 am- On a good day, be out the door with Marin. Kiss the older two, at least 5 times (their request), run back in the house at least 2 times for things I forgot- like the car keys. Catch glimpse of self in reflection on the door and realize I look like ass. Try not to care.

7:51 am- See David come downstairs and pour himself some cereal. Hear my own stomach grumble. Frantically check the clock and give Joan and Kate more last minute reminders (library books! sharing!) and kiss them AGAIN. Glance nervously at David and wonder if he'll get them to school on time. (He does, but barely.)

7:55 am- FINALLY back out of driveway and head to pick up Marin's classmate (it's my "driving job", and her family pays me to drive her to and from her daycare to preschool).

8:16 am- Drop both girls off at preschool. Only 1 minute late today- hurray! Talk to some of the parents outside the school.

8:20 am- Head out for a walk, leaving my vehicle parked at the preschool. Enjoy my walk around the lake on such a fantastic fall day. Compose this blog post in my head while walking.

9 am- Jump in my van and head home for breakfast and coffee. Finally.

9:15 am- Contemplate what I'm going to "do" with my child-free morning. Realize I only have 1 1/2 hours left before I need to pick up the preschoolers. Coffee is done; sit down to eat.

9:30 am- Decide to leave the breakfast dishes for later. Pour 2nd cup of coffee and log onto the laptop for the first time. (HI!) Look up and realize that it's already 10 am and I haven't showered. Contemplate whether or not I'm going to have time to shower AND get groceries. Finish up 2 emails that I need to send.

10:20 am- Look up again and realize I STILL haven't showered. Frantically run around house rotating laundry, picking up messes, and showering in record time.

10:43 am- Leave the house to pick up the preschool girls. Wonder where did the morning GO?! Console self by thinking "I still have tomorrow morning to finish XYZ." Try to ignore that little voice that says that tomorrow morning will go just as fast as this morning did.

[*Actual activities during this time vary- sometimes I run errands, see friends, tackle projects, read, get a coffee from a coffee shop etc. The thing is, it doesn't matter what I do, the time goes by in a blink. My "child-free morning" is about 15 minutes in length, I swear. WHY?]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kisses and Hugs

I noticed yesterday that I signed my last two posts in a row with "XO". Nothing too odd about that, except that heretofore I don't think I've ended that way. I guess I'm feeling extra kissy and huggy towards ya'll. As I should be, with the support and love I've received over the baby thing and Kate's eating has been wonderful. And in person, I'm pretty kissy and huggy. To my kids, my husband (well, not actually lately, not that he's NOTICED. HRMPH.), and even with friends. Anyway, I will return to those posts' comments whenever I'm needing encouragement.

I'm sitting here eating apples (honeycrisp) and cheddar cheese (extra sharp) and thinking about all of the things that have been on my mind in recent days and weeks. It's sunny and perfectly fall here today, and the rain has stopped, yet my friend's yard remains a lake that is prevented from flooding her entire house by only a wall of sandbags and plastic. Roads are washed out, nearby towns are now nearly islands. Our own basement only became a little damp- though our sump pump had quite a workout- but our house still vaguely smells like wet basement.

So the rains came and went (we got anywhere from 7 to over 10+ inches in 18 hours, depending on which source you listen to), my grandma came and went, Marin's birthday is over, and my husband still hasn't really noticed that I'm not speaking to him.

I have tomatoes rotting on my kitchen counter- which is a wonderful (if guilt-inducing) summer/fall problem to have- and three fat pumpkins outside my back door. I have gourds and popcorn and decorative corn and 8 foot tall broom corn and those weensy little pumpkins that are both decorations and toys around here. The air is crisp and wonderful, and those bright red maple leaves are appearing on the trees and ground, and by day the light is wonderfully golden, and at night I smell woodsmoke. All of this I love, and yet I mourn summer, mourn the passing of time. We only get so many summers in our lifetime, and another one from my own life is over.

I'm also growing exhausted of babywant. I'm so tired of aching for a baby, of pondering my situation, of wondering what will come of this conflict between David and me. Sometimes, I'm not even sure I WANT another baby, I'm so weary of it all. I want the yearning to end, the wondering to be answered, the big question mark about our family's future to reveal it's reality. Will he change his mind? Will I ever be ok if he doesn't?

Then there's Kate's eating situation, which sent panic and alarm through my system (as well as through cyberspace, as I frantically posted about it and sent emails to her teacher). And the comments on that post were so very wise; thank you much for your insight. Tess' comment about how I couldn't "allow or not allow" her to eat really struck a cord with me, mostly because when I stated that I "couldn't allow her to skip 2 meals and a snack everyday", I didn't actually MEAN "allow", but instead I meant "I can't stand by and do nothing while she skips 2 meals and a snack a day". But it made me realize that sometimes? Semantics MATTER, and THIS was one of those times. How I speak to my daughter about this- the very words I choose- actually DO make a difference.

My god, parenting is HARD.

And oh HO HO, did I mention that right after Kate miraculously recovered from her hunger strike that Joan came home with her lunch wholly, 100% untouched? Are you pissing your pants from the hilarity of it all? Luckily it was an isolated incident, but my GOD do I ever have PTSD from last spring's neverending Anxiousgate. Since it wouldn't be unlike them to swap problems- one picking up where the other one left off- I thought FOR SURE we'd have a not-eating-Joan on our hands. Whew.

Lastly, I have my sweet Marin, who proclaims with shock and awe a few times per day "Mommy! I just can't BELIEVE I'm FOUR." The first words out of her mouth on her birthday were "I'm taller now! I'm up to Joan's neck Mommy- I GREW because I'm FOUR!" She told me today "Mommy, look how fast I can RUN. FOUR year olds sure are fast, aren't they Mommy?!" You guys, she is so delightful and charming and sweet. And earnest, my LANDS is she earnest. I hope I never forget her at this age- her soft cheeks and curls bouncing and wide-eyed joy at the world around her. Have I told you how I lie down with her at naptime, and she places her still-chubby hand on my cheek and tells me how wonderful I am, and then falls asleep with her hand still on my cheek?

My god, parenting is wonderful.

P.S. Is it weird that I kind of like that damp-basement smell?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

SOMEONE is Four.

I have so many things that I want to write about that I composing blog posts in my sleep. Do you ever do that too? Anyway, my grandma- one of my favorite people on the planet- was here to visit, and then my wittle bitty baby turned FOUR.

My delicate constitution apparently cannot handle so much commotion in so few days, and you probably think I'm kidding, but I took a 2 hour nap today, starting at eleven (11!) this morning.

Additionally, I am- at this very moment- committing a cardinal Fall Sin, which is sitting indoors on a beautiful and not raining fall day. Did I mention that we got around 10 inches of rain in 1 1/2 days and flooding abounds?

So much to tell you, friends. But for now, I'm heading outside to the hammock.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Better Now

Kate is better now.

I emailed her teacher.

My grandma arrived.

Kate and I had a nice talk.

She's eaten breakfast, her snacks at school, and lunch with a smile since my last post.

Her attitude made a complete 180 degree change in direction.

I'm not sure which factors- all, none, or some- helped, but ALLELUIA she's snapped out of it.

More thoughts on this later, friends. Thanks for so many kind words and ideas. More on that later!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Not Eating

Wow, you guys. Talking about this whole "aching for another baby thing" has been so very helpful. Thank you all, so much, for your kind words and support. I had a few comments that were more critical of my situation, but Swistle pretty much summed up every thought in my head- and BETTER- with her comment. (Seriously. Go read it here.) And she's definitely onto something with the whole "two kids in normal" mentality observation.

Moving on...

So, this morning I discovered that this girl:

My hat wearing, bug loving,

snuggly and sweet girl Kate,

has not been eating ANYTHING until she came home from school.

Her school year has started off FABULOUSLY, especially compared to last spring (here, and just about every post for the month of May). But she's been refusing breakfast, so I've been coaxing her by allowing her to eat WHATEVER she wanted, as long as it was something. I was so frustrated by her not eating breakfast, but I was trying to not make an Issue out of it, and I was also comforted by the fact that she does get a morning snack at school.

But this morning? I discovered her stash of everything I thought she'd been eating for breakfast, plus all of her morning snacks UNEATEN. And then David, who's been emptying and washing the lunch boxes lately, told me she's MAYBE eating one teensy bite of her sandwich at lunch, leaving the rest wholly untouched.

So she is not eating ANYTHING (except that one small bite of sandwich) until 3 pm when she gets home???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At 7 1/2 she weighs around 44 pounds- she's already a tiny kid.

I was LIVID to find this out. This is not normal! Why isn't she eating? What the hell is going on here? How can she even LEARN a single thing, with zero food in her small system?

You guys. WHAT do I do? She's obviously not doing this for attention, because her sneaky ways say otherwise... I can't force her to eat. I don't want to make a HUGE issue out of this. Food, of all things, is so goddamn tricky. But I can't allow her to skip 2 meals and a snack every day, right?

This is the kind of situation that makes me feel like I'm failing as a parent.

Monday, September 20, 2010

State of the State, Part II

Oh, wow. Hundreds of you have clicked on over (via Swistle's link- thank you Swistle!) to commiserate with me over the STATE of not being able to convince my husband to have another child.

So many of us are in the same boat, it seems, and so many others of us can guess what that would feel like, and not much can make me feel better about my situation, but hearing all of your voices was very comforting. I can picture this whole community of crying ovaries, banding together to beg for ANOTHER BABY PLEASE.

Since I wrote that post 12 days ago, I've been increasingly mad and desperate feeling. I can barely LOOK at him, you guys. I'm just so ANGRY. It's just not fair that I feel so passionately about this, and he can so nonchalantly say "Hmmm. No. I don't feel like another child." He's not an emotional person, so of course his response isn't going to be as impassioned as mine, but STILL. It seems like the person who wants something so badly (ME) should trump the person who offhandedly disagrees (HIM).

So what do I do? I have no idea. It seems like the only thing I DO have control over is me- so I've been giving him the silent treatment for 12 days. I know it's extremely elementary, but it's the truth about what's been going on around here.

And before you feel the need to defend him, I should point out that ahhhh.... he hasn't NOTICED that I'm not speaking to him. HE HASN'T NOTICED. You know the one way that the silent treatment FAILS? It's if the recipient DOESN'T NOTICE. Eff. you guys. Effffffff.

(Also, David isn't a jerk, nor is he a complete buffoon. He simply is very straightforward. In his mind, if I was mad at him, I'd say so. If I'm simply not talking to him? Doesn't really register on his radar.)

So to recap: I am so angry at my husband, so frustrated that he has all the control in this situation, can barely stand to be in the same room with him. So I stop speaking to him, mostly because I cannot stand to, but also because- if I'm being honest- I WANT him to notice and care that I'm not speaking to him, but he doesn't notice. So, I'm still pissed, but now even MORE SO and WHAT DO I DO NOW?

It seems like this is something that will not just blow over in our marriage. And that's the scariest part.

Family Room, Now With Table

Ahoy! Welcome to my blog, AKA the land where "tomorrow I will upload photos of my family room" loosely translates to "sometime in the next five days I will hopefully remember to upload photos of my family room. Maybe." You see, I do this strategically, so that you don't feel any pressure to be perfect either. You can let your hair down around me, scootch in a little late, I won't mind.

(That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

So! Pictures!

This is the front half of the family room before adding the table and chairs:

And this is the back half of the family room before adding the table and chairs:

To take that last photo, I'm standing at the door that we always use to enter/exit our home. The ottoman that you see is used by the kids to take on/off their shoes. Our family room has two sets of french doors that lead outside, one- the one we use- directly behind where I'm standing, and the other one right by the shopping cart in the above photo.

Basically, this back half of the family room wasn't being used for much. There's a few random toys, and a couple of baskets with blankets and dress-up clothes, and that's about it.

Here's an after of the family room, with the table now:

The doors you see behind the table are the ones we don't use. The ones we use are off the left hand side of the photo.

Here's an after of the back half of the family room:

We didn't rearrange any furniture, other than move those few toys out of the way. So far, this table has been used for crafts and homework. The dresser/old side board from the dining room also fit in the family room. It's not pictured but is waaaay off to the right of the above photo, along the wall.

We're trying this out for now... not sure if we'll decide it's too crowded in there or not. Any opinions? Too much furniture?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Before and After

So, upon uploading these photos, I realized just how... insignificant the "change" in our dining room looks based on the before and after shots I took. I should have taken a better shot of the crappy dresser that was serving as a "side board"/craft holder with all of my extra bowls and serving dishes stacked haphazardly on top. It's there, behind the table, but it's hard to see.

There were also two extra-crappy white book cases on either side of the "side board" that held additional craft stuff and kitchen stuff. Those, too, are now gone from the dining room.

(Also, please don't cringe too much at the hideous light fixtures and the weird wall paper. Both are slated to be gone, ah, someday.)


The new table is longer, with the ability to add three leaves (is that the right spelling for this usage?). Only one of the leaves is in it in the photo. With all three, it will be around 7 feet long. Also, it has pedestal footing instead of 4 legs, so it's very easy to cram a hojillion chairs around it, if needed.


I plan to recover the chairs, though I don't hate the green. I can just think of so many fun fabrics for this project, and (I think) recovering chairs falls within the boundaries of "crafty things I am able to do". Also, the red metal stool is new-to-us. Marin loves it, and it matches the red tiles of our kitchen floor exactly.

I like the new/old table. I think.

The striped recliner chair that you can see in the back corner is looking for a new home in our home. David recovered it for me when I was pregnant with our twins, and it's one of the only chairs in our house that rocks. I don't want to get rid of it, but I just have... no idea where to put it. I think the 1912 china cabinet is going to go in that corner, but it needs to be fixed up and painted first.

Initially, we were going to get rid of the old table (garage sale? craigslist? something), but then we got the bright idea to put it in the family room. Somehow we decided to try putting it in the family room as a craft/homework table. We also moved that dresser (previously "side board") into the family room too, so at least all of our craft supplies still have a home.

Tomorrow I'll post before and after photos of the family room, i.e. the room with (probably) too much furniture.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Family Pet

These fall days are achingly perfect lately- achingly only in that we are so very aware that we won't be feeling the sun on our skin for a LONG time soon- so when Beautiful Neighbor called and asked if I wanted to have some "porch time", I had to say yes. It's, like, the law. MUST. SIT. OUTSIDE. AND. ENJOY.

When I finished putting the big girls to bed, and went downstairs to tell David I was heading to the neighbor's for a little while. What I found was this scene:

The dining room was cheerily lit, with our new (old!) table in the middle of the room, 8 chairs around it. Sitting together on one side, in the middle of that long table, was David and Marin. Marin was wearing a purple night gown and her bare legs were swinging as she was earnestly telling him something, and he was beaming love darts from every pore at her, intently listening. In front of Marin was a jelly jar of milk and some apple slices. David also had a glass of milk and a piece of pie, which he was sharing with Marin.

Now, Marin should have been in bed- or at the very least upstairs looking at books- but for whatever reason, she was downstairs having a small feast with her daddy. She naps very late (from 2-5 or longer!), so we don't expect her to zonk out at 8pm on the nose. But the fact that she can convince her daddy to cut up some fruit, pore her a drink, and spoon feed her pie when she's supposed to be upstairs reading quietly?

Proof that she is, indeed, the family pet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Old Things New

This past weekend all of David's family came together to go through his grandparents' house and divide up their things. It was weird, dissolving their home like that, as they are both still alive. His grandma has severe Alzheimer's and his grandpa is 97 and decided last fall to move himself into the nursing home to be with grandma. I guess at that age, he figured he deserved to have his meals delivered and his toe nails clipped for him. Can't really blame the guy, ya know?

I really love old things- not that I want my entire house to look like a walk through Aunt Bessie's parlor- but old things mixed with, well, IKEA stuff is what we have around here. Most of our furniture is a patchwork of stuff we've found 2nd hand, and I like that too. Our house feels less like a furniture store and more like a home this way. However, much of our stuff was cheap stuff left over from our college days, purchased never imagining that it would still be gracing our 7 year old daughters' bedroom almost 20 years later.

David is the youngest of eight (!!) siblings, so most of his family members already have much more "established" homes than we do. This bodes well for us. From grandma and grandpa's house we received a dining room table and 6 chairs, a side board, a china hutch that was a wedding gift to grandpa's mother in 1912, 2 dressers, an end table, a old red metal stool, and lots (and LOTS) of miscellaneous other stuff. Nearly without exception, this stuff was all headed to Goodwill if we didn't take it.

After we loaded it all onto trucks and headed for home, I suddenly got nervous. What if I didn't like those pieces once they were in my home? But it's all here now, and (I think) I really like it all.

The furniture brought with it a little bit of grandma and grandpa's "house smell", and even though they aren't MY grandparents (and therefore not a scent I grew up associating with anything) I kinda love it.

It smells like history.

We've done lots of rearranging to make things fit and work for us. I'm taking before and after photos to post later, so ya'll can play along. It's a game I like to call "Does this room have too much furniture?"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why "Four" is the Magic Number

Well, that last post inspired some good points in the comments section. I talked about some of this there, but I am feeling like putting it all together, organized-like, here.

Q: Perhaps this wanting another baby is hormonal? How do you know that this feeling won't pass over time?

A: Babies are my THING, and always have been my thing since I was first old enough to hold one independently (at around age 5 or 6). I was the oldest of four children, and I was very hands-on with both Seester and Kiner, who are 5 and 7 years younger than me. In fact I remember an older girl in our neighborhood named Trish that also loved babies and drove me to near insanity doting on and carrying around MY sister, MY BABY.

Ah, the good ol' days of wandering the neighborhood with my baby sister or brother on my hip!

(I should have cut that bitch.)

Anyway, from a very young age, if a baby was around, I was hovering over it. I'm sure this was annoying at times, but I think my mom's friends and our relatives were mostly LUCKY to have me- a willing set of arms to hold, change, sing to, feed, and dote on their baby.

I never had any questions about wanting to be a mother. In fact, after meeting and marrying David it was physically painful to wait as long as we did before starting our family. Those were a long 18 months, boy.

I'm passionate about breastfeeding and gentle parenting. When my twins were a year old I got a job teaching childbirth classes, and shortly after became a doula to empower other new mamas. I am STILL drawn to babies and get a "mouth-watering" sensation when I see them, aching to hold their warm little bods or smell their sweet heads.

Also, I've never- not for a moment- thought of Marin as my last baby. Not when I was pregnant with her, not the day she was born, not ever. She's going to be four years old this month, so that would be a long time for it to be a hormonal craving. In fact, I'm quite sure that the longer I go without my "last baby", and the farther I get from my viable childbearing years, the more intense the longing will become.

Q: What makes you so sure you'd be willing to stop at four children? What if you want to keep having baby after baby after baby, ala Dugger-style?

A: Well, this is an excellent point, because I'm quite positive that I WILL always want "just one more baby". I don't think I'll ever stop wanting and craving babies. As I said, babies are my thang.

However, I've always said/thought/believed that 4 children was my absolute upper limit. I'm not exactly sure how I came to this number- perhaps my own upbringing of a family of four children has something to do with it?- but it is the number that feels like "enough" for me. More than four seems... like it would be more than I can handle. If we proceeded with another child, it would be our last child. I'm not saying that I wouldn't WANT more, but we would stop after one more. We just... would.

As far as comparing wanting a fourth child to bearing children into infinity like the Duggars? Friends, I have only had two (Tee Doubleyou Oh) (2!!!!) pregnancies and three children. I am miles (and miles and MILES) from being Michelle Dugger. I appreciate what Swistle said too; basically that the mindset of "if we don't draw a line here, we won't evah EVAH be able to draw a line in the future" is such faulty thinking. SO TRUE. So faulty!

And the whole two pregnancies/three kids thing? Babies are my thing, but so is pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, etc. I simply love all of these things. I feel most at home- most right in the world- when I have a small human in my arms, on my hip, or in a sling on my chest. Nursing a child or carrying a baby in my arms seems exactly like what I'm supposed to be doing. And I've only done those things twice. I realize this makes it seem like I have some uneducated "breeder" mentality, but I assure you, I DO have other ambitions in life. I'm just not done with THIS phase yet.

My first pregnancy was high-jacked when I found out I was having twins. From that point on, it was very stressful (would I have preemies? incubators? breathing problems? go home from the hospital without my children?).

Also, I had a very clear image of the kind of mother I was going to be. When I found out I was having TWO babies (remember, that was 5 months into my pregnancy... five months is a long time to fantasize about how lovely my first baby- SINGULAR- experience was going to go), my vision of mothering was gone. I went from picturing myself and my cute baby having leisurely mornings at Target to OH MY GOD I'M NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE WITH TWO BABIES.

And ah, that much was true. I WASN'T able to leave the house much with two babies.

So, anyway, my first pregnancy was stressful. My first birth experience was awful. I was forced into a C-section I didn't want, and I was very angry about it for years. My first "newbornhood" was a blurry, numb season that lasted about 2 years. I had a hard time enjoying my daughters because I was so stressed out and so concerned about not favoring one over the other. I was also suffering from some pretty intense anxiety, but I didn't realize it until years later.

My second pregnancy was hard too, simply because I kept having preterm labor signs and was never sure if it WAS preterm labor or if it was just my "irritable uterus" (<<--actual diagnoses, swear to GAWD), and what if my "irritable uterus" suddenly gave way to ACTUAL PRETERM LABOR... how would I know? My 2nd birth experience took a turn for the douche when I hemorrhaged and suffered some pretty annoying side effects that led me to have surgery 4 (!!) more times after Marin was born.

Marin was a wonderful newborn and baby, and I really enjoyed her babyhood. BUT. It was spotted with surgery after surgery after mothereffing SURGERY, and damn if I didn't just want to skip all the health-problems bullshit and just be a mama to my three girlies.

Also, I should point out that having twins has always made me feel robbed of a pregnancy/newbornhood. Since I LOVE pregnancy and babies, I would have loved spread out those twins of mine over a couple of years, so that I could have cherished each one, instead of having them come together in one stressful, chaotic lump. Again, I've only had 2 pregnancies. I'm 100% positive that if we had only two children right now (instead of 2 pregnancies, 3 children) that David would easily- happily!- agree to one more. Neither of us ever imagined stopping at 2 children.

In truth, there's part of my brain that doesn't want FOUR children, either. I mean, I like how our little family still fits around our small kitchen table. I like how people will still invite us for dinner because we don't seem like this HUGE family; I feel like another child would scoot us into "huge family" territory. I like my freedoms now that Marin is older. I've really enjoyed having more time to explore things I love (like photography). I look forward to working again, or going back to school, to doing things that are good for just ME.

And yet? That thirst? That longing that transcends all logic? It wins, folks. It simply does. Despite all of these really excellent reasons, I still physically yearn for another baby. I do.

But David doesn't, so. There's that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

State of the State

So remember how I wanted another baby?

Well, I still do. But something has changed. See, before I wanted a baby... in the future sometime. I wasn't ready to get pregnant, but I wanted to get pregnant at some future point. Now? I'm ready to be pregnant. Like, yesterday.

It happened overnight, this sudden shift from someday to NOW. I'm actively longing for a baby now, I'm doing "pregnancy math" as far as due dates and how old my other kids will be, etc. My arms ache sometimes, wanting a wee sprout to hold. I'm thinking about my cycle a ton, wondering, hoping, calculating.

But the crazy part is, I can't be pregnant, WON'T be pregnant, unless my husband changes his mind, or unless the universe decides for us, which seems unlikely since our current method of birth control has been fool proof for the past, oh, at least 8 years.

Can I take a moment to tell you how pissed I am at him? I've done everything I can think of- up to and including begging and bribing- and he steadfastly says no. I've tried giving him time (ah, like 3 years), not talking about it so as to not nag the issue, reasoning, explaining, and- as I said- begging and bribing. I've even threatened to outright trick him, though mostly jokingly. MOSTLY being the key word.

Still no.

I've tried to explain to him that if we don't have another child, I will long for one the rest of my life, whereas if we do have another child, he certainly wouldn't regret it. He agrees. But he still doesn't want one. I've tried to explain to him that our next child already exists- can't he see that child? Over there? Just past that shimmering veil? Our child- our precious baby- is waiting for us, and HE is keeping me away from him/her.

He doesn't see.

I tried explaining to him that this longing I feel is like thirst- you can tell me all you want that I've had enough to drink- I have three perfectly healthy glasses of water already; I can't possibly need more. But if I'm thirsty- if my tongue is dry and my body is longing for water-nothing you can say to me will change that. I'll still be thirsty until I get a drink. Just because it only takes you three glasses of water to be hydrated doesn't mean I too will be hydrated with that amount. I'm still thirsty; I need another glass of water. And it's not fair for you to keep that water from me, just because YOU are not thirsty.

I used the analogy of "this is the last computer you can own. Ever. If it gets older, etc, no matter what you can never have another new computer." Funny enough, this was the only analogy that actually hit home with him.

Yesterday when we dropped all three kids off at school, my longing and begging and hoping suddenly transformed into a ANGER towards him. I'm pissed that he refuses to have a change of heart; I'm pissed that he is keeping me from the water I crave; and mostly I'm pissed that HE hold all the cards, all of the control.

Something about dropping all of our children off at school awakened a raw emotion in me, and it surprised me. Perhaps it's because when we dropped Kate and Joan off for their first day of preschool (at the same place we dropped Marin off yesterday), I was hugely pregnant with Marin. I had 3 weeks of "no kids at home during preschool" before she was born.

Now, my body is not carrying a baby. My body is not even all that hopeful of carrying a baby anytime soon.

This past weekend, we had a overnight date to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We had 24 hours of no children. We stayed downtown Minneapolis, walking and biking all over the city.

We roamed aimlessly and peacefully around the Sculpture Gardens.

We talked and held hands and didn't worry about the clock or anyone's schedule or anyone else's needs. We remembered what we were like before we had children.

It was a lovely time, and I cherish looking back on some of the photos I took, knowing we were so happy together, knowing I was still in the "hoping state" instead of the "angry state". We are usually happy together, with our three little ducklings underfoot. And it was nice to be happy together without them, too. We've had 10 good years of marriage. I'm proud of that. (More photos start here.)

But right now- just a few days later- I'm mad, not happy. I'm restless and aching, not content. And I don't know how to fix it...