Saturday, January 27, 2018

My Loud, Messy Life

My life is loud.  It’s really, really loud.  It’s also messy.  It’s really, really messy.  I DO like a clean, quiet house.  But I’d rather have messy and loud if I have the either/or choice.  Some women have both a loud, fun, messy, chaotic, CLEAN house.

And some women don’t.

That’s all I need to say about that.

My priorities are:

The health and safety of Ellie and Ben.
That the ‘fun’ force be strong in them.
Rest for me when I can get it.  I want the ‘fun’ force strong in me, too.
Making coffee/tea when I get the chance, to bolster the above mentioned ‘fun’ force.
Watching a movie with Ellie when she wants to.
Groceries, meal-prep.  Texting Bill to tell him we’re ordering pizza again tonight for dinner.
Bills paid.
Do their clothes still fit?  No.  Of course not.  It’s been two days since the last round of clothes to fit their stretching toes.  Buy new clothes.
Feed/play with Toby.
Pick up Toby’s poo so the kids don’t step in it.  (Ok, lets be honest, so Ben doesn’t try to EAT it.  Yes, yes he will.)
Driving Ellie to and from her mommy’s day out program and to/from whatever activity she’s involved in this season.
Writing my blog.
Working on a short story.
Editing my book.
Weeding/clearing/watering/planting/pruning garden and flower beds.
Taking the kids outside to play.
Cleaning the house.

As you can see, cleaning the house is waaaaaay down on my list of priorities.  Wait, is that why no one has wanted to come visit me lately?  Is that why my parents told me to go play outside while they washed my windows for me?  

Dad: Those spots are driving me nuts!
ME:  What spots?
Dad:  Find me a bucket and some vinegar then go play outside ok?  You're driving your mother nuts.

In any case, my new year’s resolution this year is to fake being more ‘together’.  I look around me at all the other girls my age and they’re like…throwing pinterest parties in their beautifully decorated (and CLEAN) homes and cooking Swedish Almond cookies and wearing tasteful ‘grown-up’ clothes and their nails are done.

Cut to me.  

Stepping over toys and piles of what is hopefully food THROWN and not thrown-UP, in my frayed black yoga pants I’d had since prehistoric animals roamed the earth with my straggly brown hair in a ponytail (that is also fraying) and chatting with the pizza guy since by now we’re on a first name basis and no one else will talk to me during the day because they’re busy working, or being wonderful and perfect.


Anyhoo.  So I’m going to work on being more awesome this year.  More put-together.  I pledge to add food to my Pinterest instead of just quotes and gardening tips.  I pledge to attempt to organize my day, my week, my month, but maybe just start with my day.  

I think wandering around in an unorganized fog of sleepiness and navigating tantrums and attempted sibling homicide at random isn’t really working well for me anymore. 

So I read a list of how to fake being more ‘put-together’ on Pinterest.  Predictably I didn’t save it and now I can’t find it.  But I think it was, just organizing your day each day will help.  Get up an hour early to get things done (Ok my day usually starts at 5am, ain’t nobody getting up at 4am to start the laundry).

Doing your nails, even if it’s just a buff and clear polish says a lot and doesn’t take long.  Having a signature style so you don’t have to think about it when you get dressed or shop.  (Ok that one’s weird.  And unfortunately for me, my ‘style’ is a sporty 8 year old boy).

I digress.  I can organize my day.  I can throw some polish on while Ben sleeps.  I can find jeans that fit and sweaters without stains and holes at reasonable prices.

Look out 2018…I am just going to BEDAZZLE you!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Being Warm While I'm Dying (I'm not dying. Or, not any faster than the rest of you).


I've moved around a fair amount in my life.  Not like, military-family moving but around the Maritimes growing up and as an adult around the US a little.

Suffice to say I’m no stranger to getting settled in a new space.  It’s strange because I am such a home-body.  My home really is like my shell, and me the happy little crab scuttling around inside.  There are constants to every space I move into.  My books.  My laptop.  A striving to create a peaceful place for my children to grow up in.

A sanctuary, a safe area where love and hugs are encouraged, a base we can all come back to for relief from the world outside.

I’m struck that the most important aspects of making a house a home can be applied to making the community I live in cozy too.  I want it clean, and safe.  A peaceful place everyone’s children can grow up in.

This last visit ‘home’ to Canada has reinforced the surprising revelation that I am making a home here in Texas.  A life with connections to friends and community that I hadn’t realized I was forging.  I am…happy here.

Ba ba baaaaaa.  

Even though the entire animal kingdom is trying to kill me.  Even though trying to grow flowers and plants in this sandy soil, in this oppressive desert heat and swampy seasons is like spending money on the lottery.  (Will this one pan out?  Who knows for sure but…probably not.)  The only thing I’ve managed to keep from dying are Sage and Rosemary, Chives and Boxwood bushes.  Peppers and Tomatoes and Peas tend to do well despite the hostile environment and my lazy gardening but I’ve managed to kill everything else I’ve tried.

Growing up in an apostolic pentecostal church community has prepared me for the political and emotional arena most of my neighbors operate in.  I may not agree with everything they believe but I feel like I completely understand where they’re coming from and so I’m not threatened by it.

When I first moved here two and a half years ago I didn’t know if this place would ever feel like ‘home’.  Snakes that can kill me?  Spiders the size of my hands?  Sweating walking to the mailbox at 7:00am?  No beautiful change of seasons from Summer to Fall to Winter?  No snow at Christmas?  BILL WHERE HAVE YOU TAKEN ME!?

But here I am, Ellie has school in the morning, I’ve got bookclub next week and friends to share a Saturday evening with from time to time.  I’ve got play dates for Ellie on occasion and a concert I’m looking forward to in the summer.  I’m so blessed.  

Is this new revelation at least in part because I will never have to get the kids suited up in snow pants and jackets, hats and mitts, boots and scarves JUST TO GO TO THE GROCERY STORE?

I will never have to spend 10 minutes cleaning off the car so I can drive 6 minutes to get to the drug store for Blistex.

Wait…am I becoming a BIG WIMP?  Yes, yes I am.  Canada - I love you.  I will always love you.  I will always be at heart a Canadian - expansive, tough, resourceful, practical, polite, friendly, laid-back.  Forgiving and easy going.

But sweetie you can keep your cold.  Your 10 foot snow drifts.  Your black ice and your freezing temperatures.  Texas you may kill me yet with your poisonous…everything.  I may yet get eaten alive by red ants or burned to a crisp in the July sun.

But darn it I’ll be warm while I’m dying and that’s no small thing.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Being an Authentic Parent

I want to be an authentic parent.  I am, admittedly, the most lenient parent of most of my friends.  It isn’t that I need Ellie to like me AND love me.  It isn’t about wanting to be her friend and her mom. 

I’m her mom.  We can be friends when she’s twenty and just bought a new pair of black boots I want to borrow.

No, it’s about letting her be free to use her voice, to express how she feels.  I try not to discipline based on some principle I feel like I should be sticking to even though I don’t really understand why.

If I say no, it’s because there is a health and safety issue.  Or a cost issue.  (No, I will not buy you the $20 squishee at Michaels.)  That’s ridiculous.  

Ok ok, I am totally buying her the $20 squishee she really wants but I’m thinking I’ll get it from Walmart for cheaper and she doesn’t KNOW about it yet.  It’s a surprise for the trip home.  How did I get side-tracked?  Oh.  Saying no to Ellie.

I say no to Ellie all the time.  Problem is, she says ‘no’ back.  A lot.  At first I was like…holy crap can she DO that?  But apparently yes, she can.  And she does.  A lot.  Or, the other fun one, “ I caaaaan’t.”  As in, Ellie, pick up your markers please.  “I caaaaan’t.  You have to heeeelp me.”

Anyway, I pick my battles.  And a lot of markers from the floor.

There are two reasons for this.  

1) Working up enough indignant irritation to stick to my guns and battle it out with her thirty times before noon is really hard for me.  You don’t want to pick up your toys now?  Cool, cool.  I wouldn’t want to either.  Maybe later, eh?  And later daddy does it so, no issue.  (Thanks Bill!)

2) There are two of them.  And one of me.  And while I’m hovering over her making sure she’s picking up every last crayon Benji is teetering at the top of the stairs about to fall down.  Again. 

Anyway.  Maybe she’ll grow up and be a jerk, hopefully not.  I do know that when I cracked my toe on the couch earlier today the first thing she did was ask me if I was ok.  And then she gave me a hug.  And later when dad was wrapping my toe (it’s all big and purple and…gross.  It’s gross).

Anyhoo, when Dad was wrapping the icky crooked one to the nice straight one she sat next to me even though she was nervous and held my hand the whole time.  And looked into my eyes and told me everything was going to be ok.

Folks, that’s the kind of thing you can’t ‘discipline’ into a child.  Sure she pushes the boundaries and yes she’s stubborn and strong-willed.  She’s also compassionate and empathetic and loving.

She is a beautiful soul.  

My job isn’t to hammer her into a socially acceptable mold.  It’s to show her how to listen to her own voice and believe in her own intelligence and capabilities.  Her own innate goodness.

Parenting Ellie is like guiding a canoe.  Too harsh a course correction sends us veering off center.  Relaxed, keeping the goal in sight, we’ll winnow the water to the shore of adulthood just fine.

Anyway, as a wise woman once told me, “Everything is just a stage.”  Just hold onto the boat people, after the rapids comes the calm.  Or the waterfall.  But then, for sure, after the waterfall is the calm.

“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.”  Mikhail Lermontov

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Things We're Obsessed With Right Now

I thought since some of us were making New Year’s Resolution lists I’d share a few lists of my own that have nothing to do with the New Year, or resolutions.

Things Benji is obsessed with:  

Taking the dryer balls into and out of the dryer

Putting Nana’s oatmeal packets into and out of the box then hiding them all in a Ritz box

Putting his food down the little hole in his chair-highchair

Throwing his food to the floor

Throwing his food at me

Crawling up the stairs
Crawling down the stairs
Stopping midway on the stairs and having a break
Not sleeping

Things I am obsessed with:

Sleep.  When will I sleep again?  For how long?  When is my next chance to try to sleep again?

Inventing a wet/dry hand-held vacuum

Inventing a robot that will climb the stairs for hours with a toddler to keep them from falling
A New Book!  101 Ways to Keep your Toddler Entertained Away from Home.  (This doesn’t actually exist and I’d write it but while I did he’d probably be taking a header from the top of the stairs, or eating the dryer balls, or shoving that pen up his nose.)

Benji’s mouth.  As in, did that tooth come through yet?  Is it here?  Is it HERE YET!?  Argggggggg.

A NEW HEALTH BOOK!  ‘Fasting’ by Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore.  I know.  Why fasting?  Am I crazy?  Probably.

I’ve been reading some studies that have shown it to be good for your immune system, helps reset your sugar levels, and may have cancer and heart disease prevention benefits.  I’m all about prevention people.  Add to that it doesn’t cost anything, I can start and stop anytime, and it falls into my ‘can’t hurt’ category of my optimal health endeavors.  

Well ok I’m still nursing so I’m not doing ‘actual’ fasting.  All of 12 hours a day, from about 7:30pm to 7:30am the next day.  Pretty much everyone does this, it’s called sleeping.  Ah, sleep.  Please RSVP me soon.

I was worried about not getting enough nutrients (nursing) but I decided baby could do without vitamin I.  (Ice cream.)  Or Vitamin CH.  (Cheezies).  Which is all I eat after supper anyway.

Which leads me to…the word Autophagy - a form of cellular cleansing.  Basically it’s what happens when our bodies don’t have sugar nearby to use for energy - it ‘culls the herd’ in our bodies by destroying old or diseased cells that aren’t working optimally to leave room for the new, stronger cells.  Sounds like important work right?  It is.  And it doesn’t happen well until we aren’t spending so much time eating and digesting, so it can spend energy repairing and restoring.  Hmmm.  Food for thought!  Or, not-food for thought, in this case.

Things Ellie is obsessed with:

That $2,000 necklace the lady at La Mine D’or let her try on
Taking away anything Benji is calmly, quietly playing with
Running around in circles, screaming, as Benji totters after her, also screaming.

Mommies day out anyone?  Anyone?  Beuller….bueller…?   

The Grand Experiment

A storm rolled through my town last night, around midnight. The tall Texas pine trees surrounding my house thrashed their tops, the light...