Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The finale

Saturday afternoon we had the kids birthday party at Jamtime in Maynard. I can't recommend it enough. We shared the party with friends, so there were three birthdays being celebrated by 26 kids. We had the whole place to ourselves and just had a huge blast. Plenty of space for the kids to run, plenty of pizza and cupcakes.... just fun fun fun.

I was a bit more vocal on what the kids wanted/needed for their birthday, as in years past I didn't say anything. If people asked me what they wanted I would actually send them our amazon wish list - and both kids were blown away by the presents they got, and somehow we didn't even get any duplicates. I had felt a little obnoxious being specific on what to get, but seems like the mom's actually appreciated it (I know I love getting an amazon wish list for a birthday party).

But this influx of toys brought me to the tipping point and I got rid of four HUGE boxes of stuff. I gave away our train table, all the track and all the trains. I gave away things the kids didn't play with. Things they grew out of. And I kept the things they play with often and put them in one of these storage things. And this morning, when they went downstairs to play while I got dressed, I cringed a little. Would they freak out that the train table was gone? Nope. They were delighted to be able to see all the toys they wanted to play with right there. They didn't care at all that the train table was gone.

Victory.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The News

I wasn't going to blog about this. But my Jen (I call her my Jen because she and I were due date buddies with Cam and Elizabeth, but now basically need to be next door neighbors.) wrote about it, so now I will say my piece.

I have trouble watching the news. Something awful happens, and they not only tell you about it, but they show you footage again and again and again and again. And interview the poor victims. And focus on the bad. There are rarely happy news stories. So I keep up to date by listening to NPR and reading my news, and I do it in a way that I can turn it off or stop reading when it becomes too much.

I've personally had enough bad things happen in my own life, that starting off my day listening to tragedy after tragedy seems like the wrong thing to do. I learned a long time ago that you worry about the things that you actually can do something about. I'm careful when I drive the car with the kids. I make sure they wear helmets when they ride bikes. I explain why we are careful around dogs and fires and high places. But I don't worry about the freak ways my child can get hurt or die. Because if I did, I would never leave the house. Or sleep. Or let my children's feet hit the floor.

There are 67,140 elementary schools in the USA. This horrible thing happened in one of them. Just like 2,000 babies die every year of SIDS (that was the official diagnosis for Nora.) But last year, 3,999,386 children were born. That is less that 1/4%  chance that your baby with die of SIDS. But how many people have worked themselves up into a frenzy when their babies start rolling over and sleeping on their stomachs - so much so that they will wake up a sleeping baby and roll it back onto it's back? The news skews things so out of context. Makes things seems so much more common and threatening than they truly are.

And watching news on a day like Friday, listening to the horror - that just has me visualizing the horror. Bringing me right back to the worst day of my life with my husband calling 911 while I performed CPR on my 5 day old. So yes, I avoid the news. And I don't sit and talk about why it happened and how awful those families must feel because guess what. I do know how it feels. I do know how awful it feels to lose a child. It's the worst feeling in the world.

But Cece! What about gun control? And mental health!? To this I say, my politics follow my heart. Guns were designed to kill people. They are very good at achieving that goal. I don't think anyone should have a gun. Anyone. I feel that we need to treat people with kindness and love and support people who need help. If they are hungry, we should feed them. If they are sick, we should try to help them. We need to care. About people, about families, about care givers, and about animals. Love needs to prevail always.

Like Jen says, the world does go on. This morning, for the first time, Maggie was brave enough to get out of her bed and come and wake me up. I got to spend my morning cuddling in bed with my kids. We watched a little Curious George and then, like we do every day - we race to see who can get dressed the fastest.

I try to worry about the things I can change. I can make my children happy. I can feed them their favorite dinner and move the god damn elf every night so Cam and Maggie can have the joy and magic of finding it every day. I take them to a school where they feel loved and safe. I take them to a church where everyone is welcome and we start every service saying 'Love is the spirit of the church, and service is it's law. This is our great convent: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love and to help one another." I hope by living a life of joy and love, that my children will grow up to live a life where that is the focus, instead of a life of fear.

That is how I deal with this stuff. I continue to live.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Risking joy

I'm ridiculously behind on blog reading. And commenting. Things have been insane here, but today I had some time to catch up seems like a lot of things are going on in blogland. I was most sad to hear of Dresden's loss. So unexpected.

But I also missed this post by a Half Baked Life. She talks about how sometimes those of us who have been through loss need to push ourselves to allow our children to risk. The whole world seems so dangerous - but I try my damnedest to just allow my kids to 'be kids'. To play outside, try to ride bikes, climb on high play structures.... and its hard. Damn hard. It's really hard for Aaron - if possible, he would have both kids wrapped in bubble wrap all day.

That isn't a childhood. Childhood is about the excitement of finally making it to the top of the play structure, and the scabs that came with the falls. It's about riding your bike too fast down the driveway and wiping out (hopefully!) on the grass. It's about playing 'hot lava' in the living room, jumping from couch to couch. And it's about parents cringing and closing their eyes and letting it go.

And if you click on the link to read her post, she even includes a recipe for Lime-cornbread cookies, which I had for the first time on Cam's birthday, and they were delicious!

Today is Cam's 4 year check up. I thought it was at 10:50, so I took Cam over for it. Well, it was really for 1:50. So I'm working from home while Cam watches Spiderman (circa 1981, gotta love netflix) and we wait for the REAL appointment. Sigh. Good thing my head is attached, right?!!?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Moving onto Christmas

Even though this weekend is the BIG birthday party for the kids, we are officially past the birthday's and I felt like we needed to get Christmas into the house. We've been doing the elf for a while (our elf only moves from place to place. He doesn't do anything crazy) but I didn't want Christmas to go up until the birthdays are over.

For the past two years, we've been cutting down our own tree in some nearby conservation land for $20. But this year, I find out that there is a cheap place in town from my girlfriend. Trick is, the place is run by an old man who is obviously just selling trees to keep his year round farm status for tax purposes. So the trees certainly aren't showcase by any means.

But it was fun, and Cam was very proud to have picked out our tree. It's a small tree (maybe 5 ft?) and one side has a big hole - but one side is against the wall, anyway, right? Both kids helped Dad cut it down with the saw:
 And we had it up and decorated that afternoon.
I'm all about the small tree now. Barely takes up any space, but still looks awesome and our house has that great Christmas tree smell. We have the lights on a timer, so when I'm working from home I get a smile when the tree turns on by itself. Love it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday night Leftovers

  • Have an interesting opportunity at work. I'll probably take it. But it's a risk.
  • My Christmas Cards got lost during delivery. Just got them reprinted. So not I'm not ahead of the game like I thought it was.
  • I did my once-a-month cooking all by myself this month. It was lonely and long. But it's done.
  • I have a cookie swap tonight, and I made some pretty delicious cookies. I'm excited to go. We will also craft. And drink wine.
  • And this weekend we are planning to get our Christmas tree - hurrah!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Big week!

Since I last blogged, we celebrated Maggie's birthday, I traveled to Nantucket alone with the kids, Maggie had her 3 year check up, dealt with the anniversary of Nora's death and then we celebrated Cam's birthday.

And I'm done.

 If I had the luxury of timing my children's births - they would have been spring or summer birthday's, about 3 month's apart. I always need to plan a birthday party at a 'venue' because there is no option of an outdoor party. And now that the birthdays are past, I need to deal with birthday present thank you notes, Christmas trees, Christmas parties, Christmas cards, and Christmas presents. No break. And giving a bike or outdoor toy as a birthday or Christmas present is kind of lame, because in New England they really don't get to play with it for months. Plus, by the end of December they begin to expect presents with every single visitor and that becomes obnoxious.

But. We had a wonderful time on both days. Maggie got to go horseback riding and Cam went on the T into the city to the Boston Children's Museum (with a stop at Daddy's office where the whole office sang him happy birthday). Both kids had mini-birthday parties with friends on the actual birthday. It is VERY important to me to make a big deal of there birthday so that they understand that the day they were born is a big deal because THEY are a big deal.

Maggie's 3 year check up went AWESOME. Maggie used to cry from the minute we walked into the office until we left. She wouldn't talk to the doctor, or even leave my lap. This year? She marched right into the office, told the doc all about her birthday, her love of horses, sang her the ABC's....it was great. I've been a little worried about a cough she's been having, and the chance that she possibly has an ear infection - but she has no issues. She is growing perfectly, looks great and is right on target for everything. And we went on the 4th, so I got to give my doc a hug and let her know we were doing OK with the anniversary of Nora's death. She is such an awesome doc that she had remembered the date and sent me an email checking up on me this past weekend.

Aaron had a boy's weekend this past weekend, so I became inspired and took the kids to see my MIL. It was the Christmas Stroll on Nantucket and the kids had a BLAST. And I was so amazed at how well the two of them did.

But, I'm happy for a bit of downtime. It's actually relaxing to be at work right now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anniversaries

I'm just getting back to normal after 5 days off. My mom came for almost the whole time, which is a whole other story. BUT. It was a great break, and we did loads. Went for hikes, I got to go swimming, went to see The Rise of the Guardians (this was the first movie that neither child was scared of - totally recommend), had turkey, visited with friends, saw Grinch the musical in Boston, and even had a mini birthday party for the kids with grandma.

This year feels different somehow. In past years, I've felt out of control. It's either been because I was having a miscarriage, expecting a baby (or babies), had a newborn or two, or dealing with a loss or anticipating the sadness that would come with the anniversary of Nora's birth or death..... but this year I don't have that. We had a nice, low key Thanksgiving, I have plans for the kids birthday's (and some pretty cute invitations have been distributed for the party), and the Christmas cards have been ordered. I know I'll have a bit of tightness in my chest on Maggie's birthday - because I always think of the day she was born, and I think of the two of them... but it's starting to be a dull roar and not a scream.

Thursday is her birthday. Maggie will wake up to find both Mommy and Daddy home and presents waiting for her. She and I are going with friends to visit ponies, and hopefully take a ride. We'll spend the day together and have a blast. We will get home to meet MORE people that love her and have a tiny, family birthday party (she and Cam and another friend are sharing a huge party on the 15th). She will be surrounded with love, and that is what is most important to me. That when she grows up, she remember what a big deal her crazy mother made of her birthday. Because the day that she was born was one of the best days of my life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Get over it

People say that all the time - she should just 'get over it'. Usually it's for little things, like someone getting a wrong coffee order, but it's even bigger things, like a break up or a job loss or even the death of a loved one. I spent Saturday morning with a friend who, like me, has been through a lot in life, and is generally happy. I've been getting a lot of questions lately about Nora, so we talked about her. People want to know if I miss her (of course). Or do we know why she died (not really). Or do we talk to the kids about it (they know they had a sister Nora and she died). I answer the questions honestly, because I want people to understand and to know that Nora isn't a forbidden topic - but obviously some days are better than others.

But back to my friend and I. She mentioned that one phrase that drives her crazy is when people say 'When will they get over it'. And I totally agree with her. I'm NEVER going to get over the death of Nora (and the long list of other things that have happened in my life). But it is in the fabric of my life. I honestly think that Nora was here to teach us something, and she really did do that. We are closer, we know who our true friends are, and we really learned what is truly important. We lost something huge when we lost Nora, but we also gained something.

When I meet people that hold the anger from a wrong that has been done to them (abusive childhood, a cheating spouse, someone who stole money from them) all I can think is that they are giving their energy away. That the bad thing is getting all the energy - and that makes me sad. In my early twenties, I let my boyfriend use my credit card once. I didn't know it at the time, but when I broke up with him, I found that he had charged $18,000 on that card. At first I was VERY angry. I tried to get him to pay me back. I even went to small claims court (and for a small time, Judge Judy was in contact with me to put the case on air!). When it became obvious this guy wasn't going to pay me back, and I was getting more and more angry about it - wondering if he even cared about the position that he put me in.... I took a step back. I realized that this was a bad man. And I needed to be grateful that I walked away from the relationship only having lost $18,000 and nothing more. I learned to be less trusting (a sad lesson) and paid off the debt and moved on. I didn't want to waste anymore of my time being angry about something that I had no control over and wasn't going to get much resolution about.

My father always used to say 'If this is the worst thing that happens in your life, it's a pretty good life'. And that is true. Most things that we get so upset about? Some are awful, but the good always outweighs the bad. I try to focus on the good and happy things that happen in my life. I'm not getting OVER the bad, but weaving them in with the good and result is the fabric of a pretty great life.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers

  • This weekend, Aaron wants to hunker down and get the outside ready for the winter. Stacking firewood, one last spin around the yard with the tractor and pulling out the snow thrower.
  • This means two things. Winter is coming, and I need to entertain the kids. Because although they think they are helping, having the kids around when you really have to get yard work done is not helpful.
  • I'll be taking the kids with me to run errands, Maggie to a pony lesson, Cam to a swim lesson, to church and then to Drumlin farm. Assuming everyone is in a good mood, we'll have a blast.
  • If I have cranky kids, I will be drinking heavily on Sunday night.
  • Tonight I have a hair cut and a massage. At least I'm starting the weekend off right!
  • We are having a supremely low key Thanksgiving. Just my mom will be here. I think it's a good thing.
  • But I'm still stressing over the menu.
  • Oh! And I finished up the birthday shopping. We decided to get Cam a Darda Race Track. My mom is going to give him the Bat Cave over Thanksgiving - I can't wait to see that reaction.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Weekend

Man, did I have a great weekend. My unexpected quilt project discovery made for a very calm weekend. In the past, at these weekends, I would dream of finishing some epic quilt project and sit at my machine and (still having fun) stress about finishing and sweating on a difficult pattern. This time, I spent my time finishing up little projects, doing a few fun ones I've been thinking about for a while, and playing with the fabric I bought in India. It was awesome.

The first thing I did, was to finish up these little wall hangings I started at last year's retreat:
Then, before I went to bed on the first night, finished a full quilt! This one was one of the ones I found all the cut pieces for. Simple quilt, and I usually have a lot of trouble with quilts like this that demand 'random' piecing. I found a solution to that problem. Mudslides!!!
I went to bed thinking about what I could make next. I was thinking of another quick quilt, and decided to work with my India fabric. My original plan was to make three little wall hangings, but I had a lot of trouble dealing with the fabric - it was really thin, and the pattern was on the bias and was just being difficult. I came up with this wall hanging for my house:

And then used the leftovers to make a lap quilt to give to Aaron's grandmother. She visited India the year before me, and will love this!
Sunday, I worked on silly little things that having been bugging me, sewing in zippers in finished sweaters, making freezer paper shirts that I promised long ago to friends and even trying my hand at sewing some cute fleece socks I've been wanting to try for years.

A wonderful weekend, great time catching up with girlfriends I now rarely see - and of course I'm now inspired to make EVERYONE handmade gifts. Reality will set in soon enough.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Packing

Tomorrow morning, I leave on my annual girls weekend. This is our 9th year going away and quilting for 3 days straight. We sit and sew and craft to our hearts content. The woman who runs it is our friend, she cooks all the meals - so all we need to do is show up and have fun.

I haven't had a lot of time to plan what I was going to bring. I was at a friend's house, and the kids were playing with some handmade Hobby Horses. They look easy and I thought it would be a fun Christmas gift. That was my one big item. I went upstairs to pack up my sewing machine, fabric and look at my other stuff. I found 3 quilts worth of fully cut and ready to go pieces. I must have bought them pre-children, and then stored them away when I didn't have time to sew. I'm excited I found them, as they are VERY cool quilts.

So tomorrow morning, I drop the kids off at daycare and then have few days to myself to hang out with a bunch of my favorite people doing one of the things that I love. I'm excited!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Politics

This morning, I got up early, and voted. I took the kids and explained how important it is to vote. About how you vote for the people who believe what you believe, so that the rules that they make seem fair to us.

I'm not going to get into my political views here. I already got in a fight with my mother yesterday, and I can't have it happening on my blog too - but I'm watching the polls with baited breath and hoping and praying that the things I believe strongly in are upheld.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Night leftovers

  • I mentioned before that Halloween was postponed due to the hurricane. It's from 4-8 and I realized that was right during dinner time. I was stressing about if I should offer some healthy food for the kids... did I want a bunch of people running in and out of my house? Did I want to deal with mess? Yesterday, I said 'fuck it' and turned it into a party. I basically invited every family on the street and in the kids class. I figure we'll trick or treat and then come back for a potluck.
  • Speaking of parties, I'm working on picking out the kids birthday party invites. At first I was going to just do the invites that the party place offered - but it was really geared towards one kid. And then I was going to do an evite, but I have family members that don't 'do' evites.
  • I've picked this one. I was thinking of a way to word it so it has that Maggie is turning 3 and Cam is turning four, but it sounded awkward - and the people I'm inviting know how old the kids are.... so I'm going to ask him to change it to be more unisex colors (orange and purple) and do this wording "Ahoy matey! Help us find the way to Captain Cameron and Princess Maggie's birthday!" And find a cute picture of the two of them.
  • I often wonder if I care more about the kids birthdays then they do. Possibly, but if I enjoy it, what does it matter?
  • I just got up to raid the kids Halloween candy. One one Snickers. How does that happen!? I feel guilty eating candy they like. Of course, they've already forgotten about it.
  • This morning, I met with my partner in crime for the church craft group. Next week we are holding an ornament workshop - and are making these three things. I think it'll be a blast.
  • Next weekend is my yearly girls weekend! It snuck up on me this year! I can't wait!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mini-Halloween

This was really the first year that both kids are 'getting' Halloween. So they were both very excited to dress up (Maggie kept asking all day if it was time to be a Princess!?) and Cam couldn't wait to trick or treat. I'm really glad I decided to figure out a place to go last night, because they were super excited.

At school they had an early dinner of mac and cheese, and then a little parade. If you look below, the boy in the Ironman costume is Cam's very best friend. This is who I called and we figured out a great street to go nearby his house for trick or treating. The little tiger next to Maggie is her 'boyfriend'. We invited them last minute at school pick up, and it was fun to have our little group running around together.

 The first house we hit gave out full sized candy bars, and by the second, Maggie was opening her candy and eating it as she left the house. Here she is clutching her goods and telling me 'Mama! I have CANDY!'.
By the end of the night, she was holding my hand. She looks up at me and says - I love you Mama! I said, I love you too, baby. Then  she tells me, I love candy! I said, I know, sweetie. And she starts singing me a song 'I love you, I love candy, I love you, I love candy'. It was hilarious.

Cam and his best bud had a blast running from house to house and ringing doorbells. They understood that you needed to say trick or treat - but once they figured out that if you say trick or treat, you get candy, they would ring the door bell, and you would hear 'TRICK OR TREAT! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! THANK YOU'. A very happy kid:
I let the kids eat as much candy as they wanted, and as I figured, they eat about 5 pieces each and were sick of it.

Now I'm really excited for Sunday - one last hurrah and we've got the same group plus a bunch more coming to trick or treat with us!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween

Today is Halloween, but not in my town. They have told us it's 'postponed' until Sunday - to be sure that everyone has their power back. I prepped the kids for it last night, but this morning decided that I would ask around and see what other towns are still on. Turns out that Cam's best buddy's town will still be doing it tonight - so we'll just get two nights instead of one! It'll be a great surprise when I tell them tonight.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storms

We had a 'stay-at home' weekend as Cam likes to call them. The Drumlin Farm thing was fun, but maybe the kids were a bit too young, They were scared of a lot, but in the car told us that had a blast. Kids are weird. Aaron was a bit of wreck when we got home, and turned out he had a fever of 101. This is his third fever in less than a month, so the next morning I left him home to relax and took the kids to the Discovery Museum.

The Discovery Museum is really two separate museums - one for ages 2-6 and then another Science Museum is for 'all ages'. Cam is totally into going to the Big Kid museum. We went with a girlfriend who has twins 6 months younger than Maggie's - so she needed to stay at the museum for the smaller kids. But they had really publicized a Pumpkin Festival, so we got there right when the museum opened, all excited for the events. It turned out to be pretty lame. The face painting was 'paint your own face' and the only really pumpkin activity was decorating a tiny pumpkin (which Maggie loved). But Cam didn't and spent a lot of time whining that he wanted to go to the big boy museum. We finally separated from our friends and went to the Big Boy museum, at which point I get a text from Aaron telling me he has a fever of 102.6 and is on  his way to the doc. Sigh. So my threat of Daddy is going to pick you up if you whine again is gone (Yes. I use threats).

Turns out Aaron has pneumonia. Which actually is good thing - he is super bad at resting, and he is forced to rest.

Sunday we left the house, did church and then spent the day at a nice play date to give Aaron rest time. I love it that we have friends that allow us to invade for a full day. I called Aaron to check in around 4 and he said - I'm lonely! Come home. So we did.

Needless to say, I didn't do anything to 'prepare' for this storm. I have my own storm of cranky kids and a sick husband. This morning I woke up, and thankfully daycare is still open. So I had a little mini panic and filled up the tub, washed the dishes, printed out knitting patterns and charged my devices. Hoping we DON'T lose power, but man. We've got enough going on right now.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers

  • Maggie has switched from being a devil child to an angel. I really wish I could get inside her mind to see what is going on in there. Wednesday morning, she screamed and kicked and cried her way to school, and has been perfect and happy ever since I picked her up Wednesday night.
  • Tonight we go to Drumlin Farm for the Halloween Happenings. There are lots of activities, including a Hayride. The kids get to wear costumes and see hundreds of craved pumpkins. It'll be a blast.
  • In a related note, I got them flashlights to bring. I got Cam a fun lantern, and Maggie a horse one. I didn't read the description, but turns out the horse flashlight makes horse noises. To some that would be annoying, but as Maggie runs around yelling NEIGH all the time, I bet I won't even notice.
  • Looks like a huge storm is coming through for Halloween. I really hope it's just rain! Or maybe, best case, just rain in the morning... but doesn't look like it.
  • I got my new iPhone yesterday. Love it. Of course, my old one was on it's last legs (the home button was having intermittent issues and yes, total first world problem). I didn't have Siri before, so I'm having fun messing around with that.
  • And I got a cool case. You can throw your credit card and few bucks in the back. 
  • The kids birthday party is on Dec 15th this year. Their birthdays are Nov 29th and Dec 5th - so I'm trying to plan a little fun thing on the actual day. For Maggie, I'm going with friends to visit their horse (and all the other horses in the barn!) and for Cam, planning a day at the Boston Children's museum.
  • While looking for something for Maggie's birthday, I found a place that will do a little pony party for her. They have a tiny pony called Tinkerbell, and she can use finger paints and ribbons to decorate her first (which made me feel bad for the horse, but they assured me that the horse actually likes the attention), and then go for a little lesson. They couldn't do it on the actual day, so I'm having my mom bring her as Grandma's special present.
  • Have I mentioned I'm back into swimming? I'm swimming with a real masters team (they compete and everything) Monday and Weds nights. They practice from 8 - 9:30, and I thought I would hate working out that late, but it's been working out great. Fun people, hard workouts - and yes, I sleep better and feel better.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reminders

Over a year ago, I was chatting with a father at daycare. They were expecting their second child, and in the process of moving to a new house. I asked why they were moving (it was an in-town move) and he said that he wife insisted. I asked casually, 'need more space'? And he said no, that his wife said there were too many bad memories in the current house. Their first son had severe acid reflux and she said the living room reminded her of the hours they stayed up trying to comfort him and all the crying.

I was taken aback. Nora died in my living room. I did CPR on her on my bed. Her ashes are buried in our front yard. I would never, in a MILLION years, want to move away from my house. While it does have sad memories, it also has wonderful ones. I remember exactly the day I ran downstairs to tell Aaron I was pregnant with Cam. I remember the fun (and drama) of Aaron and my renovation efforts. The laughter as we figured out that the awful smell in our living room was a dead animal in the Christmas tree and not a poopy diaper. The dinners we've eaten in our dining room, and the fun parties we've thrown for friends. The weekends Aaron spent doing projects with his father. All of it. Mixed in with the sad. That's life, right?

But ever once in a while I get it. When we took down Maggie's crib and they both left the house (we brought the matching one to my mom's cabin for overnights), it was like a huge weight was lifted. Getting rid of the crib that Nora never got to sleep in. I didn't realize until it was gone that every time I looked in Maggie's room, I would think of the hours spent setting that room up for my twin girls. But, slowly, we have new things to make new associations and memories with, and the pain gets a little lighter. Still, in surprising ways, I'll get slammed with the loss. Sunday, at church, they sang a song that was sung at Nora funernal. And the minute I opened the hymnal to that page, I burst into tears. So does the pain go away? No. And maybe a fresh start somewhere new would be nice. Where I didn't see reminders at every turn of what's been lost. But I can never imagine moving away from my home. Where Aaron and I have built this little family.

I'll take it all, the happy and the sad. Because the happy makes the sad bearable.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Grand Finale

This weekend was the grand finale of a seemingly endless string of packed weekends. We went to the cabin to see how Mom has settled in Friday, Saturday went to the zoo, Saturday night was a potluck Halloween party, we ushered at church Sunday morning, and went to a really fun birthday party after church.

Thank God It's Monday. Seriously. I need a break from the fun.

One a year, Southwicks Zoo does a special in October where the kids get in free if they are wearing costumes. So that is when I bring them, as it's a pretty expensive outing otherwise. They not only have a bunch of animals, but mechanical rides (not included in the free admission) that little kids can go on and pony rides. My kids were in heaven.

Like I said on Friday, I had the kids dress up in more lightweight costumes for the zoo trip then what they are planning on wearing for Halloween. Maggie was very happy to be a fairy princess from her dress up box and I couldn't have laughed harder when Cam was dressed up as hulk. Destiny. He hammed it up all day, too.


 Here is Cam on one of the more scary rides - it went up really high and then dropped down - he wouldn't stop laughing, and I got him to raise his hands off the bar.
 Of course Maggie rode the horse ride over and over. The smile never left her face.
 The weather was so great - a perfect fall day. This zoo also has a ride called the Sky Safari, where you go on a ski lift and see the zoo from above. Cam just met the height requirement and we ended up going three times. It was a blast.

Sunday morning, we were filling is as ushers in church, and you would have thought the kids won the lotto for how excited they were about it. They ran up to everyone, said good morning, and gave a program. Cutest thing ever.


Then we went to at birthday party - we have had a birthday party every weekend since the beginning of September, and I think this was the last one for a while. It was at Teamworks - an indoor sports place. They had full run of a field, with a bounce house and an arcade. Both kids had a blast.

Anyway, I'm sitting and finding work more relaxing then my weekend!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winner!

Cam is taking a nap (thank god), so I used the random number generator to pick the winner....

Sara Skates is the Tiny Prints $50 credit winner! Congats, and enjoy ice skating! Please email me your contact info so I can pass it along to Tiny Prints!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Night leftovers

  • This week has been insane. Way too much weekday excitement. Nantucket Tuesday, big dinner last night, and this morning - I drove to the cabin for a visit with Grandma.
  • Last night, I was able to repay some of the kindness from my India trip. My friend that I visited India to see get married was here for work, and I had him over for dinner. I made a roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, home baked bread, and an apple pie. I tried to make it the most American meal I could! And I sent him back to the hotel with a loaf of banana bread. It was great to catch up with him and let him meet the kids.
  • But pulling off a dinner like that in the middle of the work week is hard work!
  • Right now, I'm sitting at the clubhouse while the kids are at the cabin with Grandma. We are visiting for the first time since she's moved up here. I'm hopeful all is going well with her and the kids, while I enjoy working with a view of the lake and the rain drumming on the roof.
  • This week, Maggie has been a complete devil. I'm really hoping she shapes up today because it's exhausting.
  • Tomorrow is the trip to the zoo. I was so fed up with everyone this morning and the weather looked so dismal, I almost didn't bring the kids costumes. But last minute, I grabbed things out of the dress up box. I'm glad I did, because all of a sudden, the weather forecast went from 50% chance of rain to 70 degrees and sunny. Gotta love New England in the fall.
  • I pulled stuff from the dress up bin (Maggie will be a fairy, and Cam The Hulk) because both kids costumes are fleece and HOT.
  • I have friends who get books sent to their Kindles free from the library. I thought this sounded like a fabulous idea. So I requested the next book club book. And then spent hours figuring out how to download the damn thing. When I finally got it downloaded, I found out I requested a audio recording and not the book. I was annoyed.
  • But on the drive to the cabin this morning, both kids were plugged into the DVD player and I blissfully listened to my book for two hours. Fortuitous mistake.'
  • One of the things I made in my last freezer cooking stint was steel cut oats in the slow cooker. Then you freeze it in the extra large muffin tins (fits a cup of oatmeal). I had it for the first time this morning, with an apple cut up in it. OMG. So good. And such an easy way to have oatmeal in the morning. Faster than the crappy instant stuff.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holiday Season (with a giveaway!)

I'm a planner. The kids' Halloween costumes were in my house in September,  I've already gotten Maggie's birthday present, and I haven't ordered Cams' just because I'm hoping for a Black Friday sale on it. But when it comes to holiday cards, I'm always scrambling in the middle of December to get a decent picture that includes all of us, and then desperately trying to address and send all the cards so they arrive before Christmas.

Many of my friends don't do Christmas cards, and I get that. I personally love getting Christmas cards and I hope that when people get ours, it brings a smile to their face.

This year, I'm thinking about this EARLY. I'm going on the Tiny Prints site, and picking out my favorite Christmas Cards so I can get the right picture without stress. And maybe even order them in time so I don't need to pay for rush shipping! Shocking, I know!

If you are interested in getting your Christmas Cards from Tiny Prints too - go check out their special offers page . Find something you like? I have a credit to give away! The winner will get $50 off your total order (does not include shipping and cannot be combined with any other promos). Leave a comment by midnight on October 20th telling me your favorite holiday/winter activity, and I'll have Cam pick us a winner on Sunday morning!

This is a sponsored post. I received compensation from Tiny Prints to share this information with you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Traveling

We just got back from a trip to Nantucket. My mother-in-law's birthday is today, so we thought we'd make a quick mid-week visit. A special treat for her birthday, and really the best case scenario for us. Our weekends have been and will be totally booked for the next few weeks. And we've visited before and the kids do great.

Well. We arrived on Monday night at 8 PM. The kids were super excited, but tired. They sat around and had an ice cream sandwich and then happily headed up to bed. They didn't go down quietly, but after about 45 minutes, they finally fell asleep. But around 11, Maggie woke up crying. And Cam tried to tell her it was OK - and she responded by being nasty to him. So, I now have Cam crying because he is sad that Maggie was being mean to him, and Maggie crying for god knows why.

I made the snap decision before things REALLY melted down to throw Cam in bed with Aaron and for me to sleep in the room with Maggie. Seemed like such a simple solution. Well. It wasn't. Maggie stayed up until 4 AM alternating between trying to get me to play and crying. It was awful. She finally passed out and we both got maybe 5 hours of sleep.

The following day was about 25% good and 75% tired awful kids. It was brutal.

I've mentioned that Mom has moved up to the cabin full time. And our plan was to visit her on Friday, stay for an overnight and then go to the zoo (Southwick's Zoo is having their special BOO Week. Kids get in free if they wear costumes. We did this last year and it's a great way to test drive the costumes). If this is a repeat of Monday night, oh my god. I called my mom to try and cancel. But she said we have to just go for it. I see what she is saying, because it would be so easy to never travel again after Monday night. But we shall see.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers

  • Fall has arrived in MA. It's cool outside, and my house is currently 61 degrees. We resist turning on the heat as along as possible. We strive to wait until Nov 1st. I don't think that is happening this year.
  • Today I did my freezer cooking. If you haven't even looked, I INSIST you go over to Once a Month Mom and just think about it. I just cooked (with a friend) 12 dinners, 6 lunches and 8 breakfasts in 5 hours at a cost of $97. It's almost a religion to me at this point. That is $1.50 a serving. Seriously. Just do it.
  • I have a cold, and I'm actually having trouble breathing. Now I understand why kids end up on nebulizers with colds sometimes.
  • Tomorrow, I have a spa day planned (I know, didn't I just HAVE a spa day? But this one was planned months ago).
  • Tomorrow the kids have 2 separate birthday parties to attend, all in the time frame that I'm at the spa. So Aaron is braving the world of pre-school birthday parties on his own.
  • And, if he was a normal parent, I would say he would be fine - but he somewhat overprotective. So taking two kids, in a chaotic party atmosphere at an indoor playground? It will either kill him or teach him that it's OK to relax.
  • We shall see.
  • Sunday is Aaron's company outing - and they have told us there will be real life angry birds to play (with a huge slingshot) and also those big hamster wheels to run around with. Should be a blast!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Maggie

Two posts in one day! I know. Crazy. But I really wanted to share these picture from Maggie's horse adventure.

One of my friends made a passing comment that I'm a bit obsessed with horses. I was thinking about that - am I? I think there is a lot of stuff that is making me like this, but the biggest is that Maggie liking horses is the first thing that she has liked 90% on her own.* She has always loved animals FAR more than Cam has (she once cried for 45 minutes because my mom left and didn't give her a chance to say goodbye to her dog). And once we put her on that pony this summer, it's been all horses all the time. Cam was obsessed with firetrucks early on, and we went with that (lots of firetruck toys, the whole firetruck bed). But Maggie? She would just like what Cam liked.

I'm really loving that SHE loves something on her own.

I was a bit nervous for this horse riding 'lesson' - as it is a real horse, and a REAL barn (with other horses and rules). And a person that she needed to listen to that wasn't me. But she did great.

The first part of any lesson is brushing the horse and putting on the saddle. This could have been the only thing that Maggie did and she would have been happy:

And does anyone think that is a HUGE horse!? It was the sweetest thing though. Then she had to put on her helmet and sit up on the horse. I was nervous we were going to have an issue getting her to wear the helmet. No problem whatsoever. I probably could have asked her to do ANYTHING if I let her sit on that horse. Shave her head? Give up all her toys? Sure, if she could ride that horse, lol.
They spent about 30 minutes walking down a path, walking in circles in the ring, and then going around a path in the woods. I watched from a distance, and the smile never left her face. I was worried about getting her off the horse, but she was very happy to give Spring a peppermint and brush her down again and lead her into the stall.

There were two little girls (age 5 and 6) who were at the farm for the day, and they were so sweet to Maggie. Maggie wanted to see every single horse, and there were a lot. So we walked all around, and the friendly horses came right up for some pats.
Maggie was in heaven.

* I say 90% her love of horses, because we have a family that we hang out with often, and the older daughter also loves horses. She is about a year older than Maggie, so Maggie does idolize her a lot. But usually, if she is with someone who likes dolls, for example, she will like dolls while we are hanging out with them. But when we get home, the doll thing is over. Not with the horses. Maggie sleeps every night clutching a tiny plastic horse.

Weekend leftovers

I missed posting on Friday, but have so much random stuff to share - so it's late leftovers!

  • For the past year, I've been working to get the craft table at our fall fair more upscale. And better goods. In the past, they have taken whatever people handed them, and then just laid it out on a table. Surprisingly, sales weren't great. I finally bit the bullet and took over with another enthusiastic woman. The fair was this weekend, and it was the highest earning craft table they've ever had. Huge success.
  • But it was a LOT of work. A lot. I'm so glad it paid off. We pushed and pushed and if we did all that work and had no good sales, it would have been very disappointing.
  • My nephew visited this weekend. We'll call him A. He was on spring break from college, and we just had a blast. He was fun, the kids loved him, and it was AWESOME to have someone eat my cooking and be excited about it. I'm sure Cam and Maggie will be the same as teenagers.
  • While I was at the fair all day Saturday, Aaron took the kids to the Science Museum, and they had a blast. Aaron said he kept getting compliments from the museum staff about how well behaved they were.
  • Sunday the big excitement was taking A to the McDonald's with a play place. Cam kept asking when we were going to show that to him.
  • Sunday night, after the kids were in bed, Aaron took A to Jillian's. I had a groupon that was about to expire and they had a blast.
  • Monday was Maggie's big day - she had her first riding 'lesson'. She got to brush down the horse, led her outside, and then the rest of the 'lesson' was Maggie being led around on this horse. When I first got the idea for this, the girl told me that Spring was a little horse. And damn. Horse people's definition of a small horse doesn't look small to me. But they were very careful and Maggie had a BLAST. We will definitely be doing it again.
  • Tonight is our book club meeting. We decided to meet at the local bar. My kind of book club, lol.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Braces

I'm considering getting braces. I had them as a kid, but I didn't get everything fixed. My father had a huge space between his two front teeth, and I inherited this from him.

Lucky me.

And I don't know if he thought he was being funny or clever, but he wouldn't pay for that to be fixed with braces, because it was a family trait. And my mom couldn't afford to do it on her own, so I was stuck with my big space.

Between high school graduation and college, my mom paid for my teeth to get caps on them, so instead of a big space, it just looks like I have two VERY big front teeth. I think it looks fine (and so does everyone I ask), and had been fine with it for a while. But as I've aged, the space has gotten even bigger, and you have to maintain caps. Not a huge deal, but they need to be replaced every certain number of years, blah blah blah.

So about 5 years ago, I looked into getting braces. It was right around when I was going to be starting IVF, and Aaron and I decided not to do it, as did I really want to dealing with sore teeth on top of IVF and hopefully a pregnancy? I bagged the idea. fast forward a few years and I was hanging out with my cousin, and noticed that her teeth looked AWESOME. She had done invisalign. I asked her about it, and thought that maybe that is what I would try when I finally got around to it.

Well, its getting to time for me to deal with getting my caps redone, and I thought I would look into braces again. I just found out the cost, and while not cheap, it's doable. So I'm trying to decide if I'm just being silly about my space, or if I really want to go through the pain and expense of braces.

Anyone out there do braces in their late 30s? I would do the invisalign and fix some other issues on my bottom teeth too.... so I'm not going to running around with a metal mouth (although I bet Cam would think that was cool! Mommy! You look like a robot!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A bit much

This weekend, we had a bunch of things going on. This was somewhat by design, as we were missing out on the family wedding, and I was trying to keep us busy. Saturday, both Aaron and I had one on one time with the kids. A neat new art place opened up in West Acton, and as that is totally Maggie's thing, I planned on taking her there to meet with some of her friends. Cam is not as big a fan of painting, so Aaron took him out for a Daddy day. My plan with Maggie was to grab coffee and a muffin at a coffee shop, hit Trader Joe's and then head to the art place. I bumped into a friend at the coffee shop, and we ended up going to her house. She is a mom to 4 girls, and of course, within minutes, she and Maggie were best friends.
My girlfriend needed to make cookies for a dinner she was going to that night, and Maggie was VERY excited to help.

After the cookie making detour, we made it to Colorful. Maggie was a huge fan. It was totally worth the $10 an hour to let her run free, making paintings on the wall and decorating boxes. She loved it.
Aaron and Cam called from their adventure, and Cam really wanted to show me his new Ironman toy, so Aaron stopped by the art place. I was a little annoyed, because I knew Cam wouldn't do the art stuff. And I was right. His good buddy S was there, and he spent the whole hour building a house for his new Ironman toy and S's horse.
In an excellent move, the lady in charge didn't charge me for Cam's hour. I'll totally go back there on a rainy Saturday.

Then Aaron and I split up again, and I delivered Cam to a fun afternoon with his best grownup buddy, Suzanne. She took him to the Fluff Festival, where he had loads of fun, and came home with a marshmallow shooter.
We capped off the weekend with a birthday party on Sunday. It was a wonderful party - a standard, at home party, but there must have been 18 kids there, and everyone had a great time. All the kids were so wonderful, my usual comment of  'it always ends in tears' didn't happen for this party. Love that. But, one of the mothers announced that she was pregnant with twins. That still takes the wind out of me when I hear that announcement. I'm pretty sure she did fertility treatments, and she is obviously stressing on having twins and a 4 year old. I gave her the information for the twins club and told her not to waste her pregnancy stressing. That it would all work out in the end. But it's still hard for me. Such flashbacks to all the time I wasted worrying about my situation, and then look where we are now. Anyway.

Oh, and I captured this shot of Maggie. She was eating birthday cake and I asked her if she liked it.
What do you think she said?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday night Leftovers

  • I couldn't be more delighted with the good news in blogland this week. We have Jen's sweet baby boy and Serenity's pregnancy announcement. I cried happy tears when I read about both.
  • Thanks for all the good words on my body image post. I think a large factor about why I'm feeling great is my decision to buy new clothes that fit well. Not sitting around in old yoga pants does a lot for your self esteem.
  • We have a calm weekend ahead. This is the weekend of that family wedding, and it's like the elephant in the room. Aaron hasn't been sleeping well, and Facebook is filled with posts of family members making their way to Nantucket for the wedding. It's just sad that we are missing out on this.
  • But I still don't question the decision. We need to protect our hearts.
  • Work has been crazy this week, but the good kind of crazy where I've got everything under control in a whirlwind of chaos. I like that feeling.
  • Mom is closing on her house today. I'm surprised I'm not more sad about the sale of my childhood home, but I think it's time for mom to start her next chapter.
  • Any recommendations for new fall TV shows? I wasn't paying attention and haven't started watching any new shows.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This body of mine.

I'm pretty sure that people who read this blog know by now that I'm not thin. And honestly, I really haven't ever been thin. But I've done a lot of things with my life that 'overweight' people don't usually do. I've done a lot of big deal athletic events. I rode a sport motorcycle. I have a pretty good opinion on my appearance (most of the time).

Could I be thinner? I'm sure I could. And there have been times in the past that I was obsessed with doing just that. I would barely eat anything, I would exercise ONLY to burn calories... and guess what? I met with minimal success and misery. I remember the exact moment that I decided I wouldn't diet anymore. I was going for a walk with Cam. He was about 2 months old. I was high on life, feeling pretty good about myself, and thinking about what to cook for dinner. It was a cold day, and thought that I would maybe make mac and cheese from scratch. Immediately I thought - damn, that is a lot of calories. And I just thought. FUCK THIS.

From that day forward, I tried to focus on all the great things this body has done for me. It's run marathons, ridden bicycles more than 150 miles in one day, completed an ironman, swim an 8 mile race, was all American in college, got a silver medal in a national crew regatta... birthed 3 babies in one year. Jesus. This body, flaws and all, has done some pretty amazing things. I'm going to love it for what it is. And not make apologies for it.

In the summer, I wear bathing suits without cover ups. And tank tops. I try to choose things that are actually flattering for my body, but I do have a belly and large arms. And hiding it under layers in the summer just makes me hot AND fat.... wearing more layers doesn't hid the fact that you are larger. When looking at pictures taken of me, I acknowledge that I may see a double chin because, well, I have a double chin. But I don't let the fact that I am an 'ample' woman limit myself. I choose to live my life without apologizing for my body's tendency to hold onto weight, and my own love of food.

I'm writing about this because swim team started up again last night. I started up again with a team that I haven't swum with in about 6 years. I'm slower and differently shaped (I'm back to my prepregnancy weight but everything is different about my body since I gave birth. Damn kids) than I was 6 years ago. And, honestly, I've lost a lot of the fitness I gained over the summer with the combination of the shoulder injury and a more recent ankle sprain. I'm a bit of a mess, honestly! But as I was swimming (slowly) I would think - I may be slow, but at least I'm moving.

I choose to love this body I've got, and take care of it the best I can. Occasionally feed it cake. And keep myself happy with a good balance. And yeah, sometimes I get down on myself, wishing I could wear some awesome dress to a wedding that doesn't come in my size. Or bemoan the fact that when I swim for exercise I can really only expect to get a better nights sleep and feel better mentally, whereas the lady swimming with me will report that she has lost 5 pounds ever week since she started swimming.... but hey. Everyone is different, there is a dress out there for me, and I will chose focus on what I know this body can do, and be happy with that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend

I mentioned on Friday that my stepmother was visiting this weekend. We had a great visit, but it's so hard for me to describe my relationship with her. She has been in my life since before I can remember (my dad was with her before I was born, if you get my drift). She was a lot of fun - she would play with me when other grownups in my life were either disinterested (my dad) or way too busy (my mom). But I was never super close with her. When I was growing up, my father made it very, very clear that his love was conditional. He would often tell me that if I did x (dye my hair, get bad grades, join some extra curricular he didn't approve of) that he would disown me. And I know he meant it, he had 4 other children that he never spoke to. Yep, I have half-brothers and a half sister I've only met once.

So my defense? Once I was old enough to realize what he was saying, I just didn't share anything with them (I rowed crew in high school for two years and never told him). I didn't talk to them about anything of substance, in case it turned out to be something that he would disown me for. We weren't close. Sure, I saw him weekly (I lived with my mother), but it was a very superficial relationship. And as I became an adult, I just had nothing to share with them. They didn't know me. One year, I didn't call Barb on her birthday (which, FYI, she didn't call me this year on my birthday), and he stopped speaking to me for 6 months (this was after I called and apologized numerous times and sent a card and a present). At first, it was a relief. It was finally done. The threatened 'disowning' that had been hanging over my head for YEARS happened. But it dragged on me, and I just called them and called bullshit on the whole thing. He said that he 'expected' a phone call once a week and on all major holidays. Basically rules for our relationship. I was just so tired of the drama that I did it. He lived far enough away that it wasn't a huge stress, and I just didn't have the energy to fight it.

Barb always introduces me as her daughter, and for the longest time, I would feel bad, because I just don't feel that way about her. I love her, but I really don't count her as a mom figure. And I couldn't figure out why. But my light bulb moment this weekend made me realize that although she was IN my life she was in it from a distance. And honestly it wasn't her fault. It was my dad. And I feel bad about it, but there it is.

It was a good weekend. We had some nice meals together, took the kids to Drumlin Farm and to a neighborhood block party. But a bit uncomfortable at times too. I do feel settled now that I've kind of figured it all out.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday night leftovers

• It's freaking cold in my house. 59 degrees. As our goal is to not turn the heat on until November, I need to start remembering to close the windows at night!
• I'm having a blast figuring out what to get the kids for birthday's and Christmas. I think we are going with a mix of legos, super heroes and horse stuff.
• Speaking of horse stuff. Maggie is completely obsessed with horses. I've decided to roll with it. I know every little girl wants a pony, but she really really loves them. We went to a party and a girl was babysitting who has her own pony. And she said she would love to show Maggie about horses. So we are going to try it and see how it goes.
• Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous about my little Maggie around big horses (even though ponies are small horses). On the flip side, though, that is why I think learning about horses is good for her. There is a lot of good things - confidence around large animals, teaching about caring for animals, good exercise....
• When I scheduled the kids birthday party, I was all bitter about past years, in which I invited everyone to my kids party, and no one was invited us to one. So I was going to only invite the core friends (and also those that we have been to parties for. It's a total of 5 kids). And then the invites have started rolling in. By the end of October, we will have attended 6 birthday parties in 2 months. Sigh.
• This weekend, my stepmother is visiting. It used to be so stressful when my father would visit. Now that he's passed, it’s great to see her and not have the undercurrent of judgment and offensive political and social views that would come with his visits.
• And now I need to run over and deliver the lunches that I forgot when I dropped the kids off this morning. TGIF.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Glorious

Yesterday was my 37th birthday. I'm not one to get all upset about getting older - as my father used to say, that's the goal, right?

For the past few years I've been too wrapped up in babies or toddlers or money has been to tight to really do much for my birthday. I used to throw big parties for myself, or at least get myself nice presents (I figure, why leave the present buying to other people? I know what I really want!). But this year, was different. We've got our finances a bit more under control, and I'm feeling a bit burned out lately. So I decided to take the day off work and schedule myself for a spa day.

Cam came into my room around 7 AM saying 'Happy Birthday, Mama!' and both kids proceeded to be super cute and helpful all morning. We got dressed, and I asked Maggie what we should do for my birthday, and she said "Eat cake and wear party hats!" And Cam said 'Open presents!' I explained that we would do that after dinner, but appeased them both with a trip to the donut store. Everyone got TWO donuts and then I happily left them at daycare.

I drove to my spa day, which consisted of 45 minutes reading in the jacuzzi/sauna, followed by facial, body scrub and a massage (4 hours of heaven). I left there feeling wonderful. I then went and got my favorite fast food (bean burrito from taco bell) and got the kids presents for my birthday. Which I know doesn't make any sense, but we call them unbirthday presents, and it gave us a lot of time to sit and have grown up appetizers at dinner time. Maggie got horse figurines and Cam got a super hero activity book.

Then, off to the mall for some clothes shopping (I'm very close to having a fall/winter wardrobe again - in a size smaller than I was last year, woot woot!). Got home just in time to meet my mom who came to have dinner with us and we got the kids from daycare. They are always SO excited to see her that it warms my heart. We got home, and then Aaron proceeded to cook me the most amazing dinner ever.

And now I'm back at work, back to the real world. Heavy sigh.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Night Leftovers

  • Last night a friend had us all over for dinner - an early birthday dinner. We get together often, and our kids are in a groove now where they hang out and play nicely. It was awesome. I didn't have to cook, the kids were happy, and we had nice grown up converstation.
  • And this morning! While I was showering, the kids played so well - building a time machine together with blocks. The cuteness kills me.
  • This morning I did a bit of freezer cooking. The website I love, onceamonthmom.com changed some of their content to be subscription access. I still think it's totally worth it. I think it's $72 a year ($63 if you join by the end of September). I made 10 dinners for $90 at the grocery store and it took me two hours in the kitchen. You really can't beat that.
  • While cooking, I realized I haven't been in my vegtable drawers in my frig for a while. Yuck yuck yuck.
  • This weekend we have fun stuff planned - a local fall festival, friends visiting, and a CSA potluck.
  • I'm busy making Amazon wish lists and purging toys in preparation for the kids birthdays. I know it's 2 months away, but if I don't get it out there now, people tend to get the strangest things.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lost my crafting mojo

I'm crafty. Always have been. Before the kids came, I would hammer out knitted items weekly. I knit all my own socks. I knit a huge amount of baby sweaters. I have made every quilt on every bed in my house and my mother's. I make fun little crafty things like hair bows and freezer paper tee-shirts.

But lately? I do nothing. I sit in my chair after I the kids to bed and I just veg out. I don't knit. I don't go upstairs and sew. I just sit.

And that's weird. I can't figure out what the issue is... but just not into it anymore. When I do knit - I make stupid mistakes - misreading the pattern or casting on wrong. It's frustrating. Because being crafty is one of the ways I define myself. I was searching through ravelry trying to find a fun little sweater to knit to kick start me, and it isn't working.

Sigh. Hoping this passes soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stuck

I grew up in a small family. Not small in that I didn't have a bunch of aunts and uncles and cousins. Small in the fact that we rarely, if ever got together with them. My maternal grandfather died when I was only 6. My father's parents died when he was young, and the rest of my father's family all lived far away. My mother and her family had a bit of a falling out when I was a child, so we rarely got together. Thanksgiving was always small. And I certainly didn't have close relationships with my relatives.

When I met Aaron's family - what a difference! The first Thanksgiving we had together, I think there were something like 28 people there. All close relatives. I was totally overwhelmed, but I thought wow! This is neat!

As time moved on, I've learned all the ins and outs of the family, and although they do a better job than my family in keeping in touch, I've learned that they aren't as close as they appeared that first thanksgiving. They do get together and have fun at gatherings, but it isn't this close knit group.

In 2009, there was a tough patch that Aaron and his brother's were going through related to Aaron's father. If anyone remembers, my FiL had a stroke before Cam was born. Aaron's brother, a normally abrasive guy, became more so as he navigated being my FiL's power of attorney. Which is understandable. And what's also understandable, in my mind, that he and Aaron butted heads over more than a few things during this time. They yelled at each other. Eventually, they needed to meet in person, and Aaron stated that he would prefer to not meet in our home, because he knew the conversation may become heated, and he wanted to be able to walk away if he needed.

In the middle of all this, Nora died. Aaron's mother asked if there was anything she should do, I remember stating, I know it would mean a lot to Aaron if you could get his older brother to come to the service. She assured me she would do that.

He didn't show up. He claimed that Aaron told him he wasn't welcome in our home. Which was not the case. And I have trouble with the idea that if you yell at a brother, you can't be forgiven (and I know that Aaron did apologize for yelling). Isn't that what family is for, sometimes!? To let it out?! And what is more frustrating that dealing with your 60 year old father's estate?

As the days, weeks and months moved on, we didn't get a lot of support from Aaron's family. The death of our child was treated as though it never happened. Most people came and gave us hugs at the service. After the service, there were only 2 people in that family that kept checking in on us. Making sure we were OK. And Aaron's older brother? To this day hasn't spoken to us or met Maggie.

In two weeks, Aaron's cousin is getting married 2 hours from where we live. We decided that if his big brother chose to attend the wedding, we wouldn't go. Still, to this day, when I think of Adam, it feels like kick in the gut. That a brother was willing to act in the manner, and show no love to a sibling in one of the worst days of his life, it's still shocking to me. It hurts me. And seeing him also reminds me of the days I sat, alone, in my living room, with my two best friends making sure I was OK. Not a family member. Friends. People that I haven't known my whole life. People that I only have ties through friendship. And it hurts still. I will not put myself at a place where I will feel bad.

Just writing this post makes my chest hurt.

More than a few people have told us to 'be the bigger person' and talk to him. Forgive him and move on. And sometimes I think that maybe I should. But then, I feel the hurt again. It's deep. It's painful. And the loss of a child is something I hope no one I know has to experience, but until you do, trust me, you have no idea what you are asking. And I'm pretty sure that Adam's older brother has no concept of the hurt he has caused. I am thankful that he lives all the way across the county, so issues like this rarely come up.... but it's sad nonetheless.

Anyway. I've been stuck. The mother of the bride (who is one of the few people who stuck with us after Nora's death) in this wedding asked me to knit her a shrug. Which is a very easy thing to knit, and I should be done with it already. But every time I sit to knit it, I think about all the reasons I'm not going to the wedding, and it makes me so sad and angry and all that crap wrapped into one. Today I came up with the great idea to pay a friend to finish it up for me. It's like this huge weight has been lifted off my chest.

But I hate feeling stuck. And that is how I feel in this situation. No way out.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Things and Stuff

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but I'm tired. My life is such that usually, everything isn't busy at once. But this last month, my weekends have been stuffed with activities, work has been busy for both Aaron and I (which is very rare, we somehow manage to trade off having busy times at work), I've been dealing with my Mom's move and parenting has also been a challenge.

And I know that is is life. This is what is always happening. There are people that have much crazier and busier lives than I have - for instance, my commute (when I got into the office, which is only 2 times a week) is 20 minutes. I have a cleaning lady to help with the housework. My kids are in daycare and my husband is helpful.

But I really want to go somewhere and just sit. Sit and do nothing. Have someone delivery me chocolate, stinky cheese and the occasional cocktail.

Since that isn't happening anytime soon, my plan tonight is to take the kids into Boston to hang out with a friend who is in town, take her to the Museum of Science, and then Aaron will pick up the kids, and we will go out for dinner at the North End. And I scheduled a spa day for myself on my birthday, so I have that to look forward to!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Halloween

Because I know you guys are already figuring it out - what are your Halloween plans? Cam and Maggie have been pretty consistent in asking to be an orange dinosaur and a purple butterfly. A friend of mine has a son who is also obsessed with orange and made an awesome orange dragon costume. It's a little big for cam, but I can make it work. And a butterfly? What is easier than that!!?!? I found these wings, and then I'll throw on black pants and a shirt, maybe a tutu, and she is good.

And, worst case, the other ideas they've been throwing around are super heroes, and we already have capes and super hero attire galore here. I'm done.

And everyone else? Let's hear it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Unwinding

The past few weeks have been busy. Both Aaron and I have been busy with work, lots of kids birthday parties and events - and swimming has been over for a bit. I also have a bit of a family drama brewing over our decision to not go to a family wedding, and some deadline knitting to complete for the mother of the bride in that wedding.

Any time I have some space to take a breath, my mom is calling all excited or distraught over moving. I was glad when she had 2 months to go until her closing, but now I think it's given her a lot of time to obsess.

Anyway. I'm stressed out. Aaron is stressed out. I want a break - but what does that even mean? Aaron barely has any vacation left, and if I go alone, it would have Aaron home alone with the kids and me, alone. Not really what I want. What I really want is a vacation at one of those family places like Tyler Place. I hang out with Aaron, someone else entertains the kids.... it's all good. But that isn't really in the budget right now.

So I'm trying (again) to find balance. Do some sort of exercise until swimming starts up again, take deep breaths, do a spa day on my birthday (Sept 18th! Presents welcome!). Easy things. Small things. Maybe that will get this everlasting headache to go away (4 days and counting).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Leftovers

I'm not going to get online tomorrow, so I thought I'd throw up my leftovers from the week today.
  • Aaron has a huge project at work, and he knew this week was going to be hard. So my mom arrived yesterday to help.
  • I also have a huge project going on, so I didn't do my normal 'prep' until the day of.
  • I walked into the guest room and I remembered that I had thrown anything I couldn't deal with the day I moved everything for Maggie's Princess bed into the guest room.
  • I opened the closet to stuff everything in there, and the closet was overstuffed. From other visits when I didn't have time to fully clean up.
  • Sigh. So I proceeded to sort through about of year of crap to give away, toss and donate within about 2 hours of mom's arrival. When she got here, the whole downstairs was a wreck because I didn't have a chance to pick THAT up.
  • All mom said was - Wow, you guys must have a lot going on right now, and proceeded to help me sort things out. Hurrah for Mom!
  • The kids love my mom. And my mom loves them. This morning, Cam woke up and went to her room instead of mine, and I could hear the two of them happily chatting to each other downstairs. Love it.
  • I'm taking tomorrow off and going to Davis Farmland with my mom, the kids and a bunch of the kid's friends. It's supposed to be 92 degrees and sunny. Perfect weather (there is a splash pad there too).
  • In the midst of organizing yesterday, I decided to put up the kids train tracks on the train table. I've noticed that when we go somewhere with an awesome train track all set up - Cam will play with it for a long time. But at home he doesn't play with what we have. A good example is at the Great Escape - they not only have the exact same train table, but all the same roundhouse, wooden trains - everything! And when we were there, he played for a good 45 minutes with the train. Then my friend pointed out that it's probably because those tracks are set up, and attached to the table - so they can't fall apart and Maggie can't destroy. So I got a pretty cool track set up and I'm going to have Aaron just stick it to the table somehow.
  • I know that some of the point of train tracks is for the kids to build stuff with them - but they do that at school, so I don't feel like they are missing out. And I was also feeling guilty because doing this ruins both the train table and the tracks - but both were hand me downs. So whoever gets my hand me downs will either deal with the preset up track or not take it. For free. Not my problem.
  • And - hurrah for long weekends! We have plans each day, but nothing stressful. I'm excited for some downtime.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Brave Girl

I wouldn't classify Maggie as shy. But she does like to have me close in new situations, and she takes a while to warm up to new people. Once she determines you are OK, though - you are OK! She'll run up and give hugs and walk around with you... but it takes a while. I don't think that means she is shy, just cautious, maybe? Whereas Cam is super outgoing. He walks up to people and tells them is name and will ask 'What's your name?' 'What's your MIDDLE name?', which always gets a big smile.

She is also pretty cautious about trying new things. She has had numerous chances to ride a pony, and it's always been a no-go. She usually loves to LOOK at animals, but won't approach one unless I'm holding her. When we go to baseball games, she is excited to see Twister (the big orange dog mascot) but certainly will NOT approach him or give him a a high five.

That is all over now. This weekend, we had a lot of fun, but one of the big highlights was going to the local 4H fair. I have to say, if you have one in your area, totally go. I let the kids do EVERYTHING (hay rides, pony rides, tractor ride, bounce house) and we spent $30. Everyone was really friendly and the kids had a blast. But it was Maggie that blew me away.

When we arrived, we were meeting friends. Their daughter loves horses. They actually told us about this fair, so we planned to meet them at the horse competition. Which meant walking through where the horses were being held. Maggie wanted to touch every single one. Cam asked if we could ride one (Cam LOVES pony rides), and I explained that we could go in a little while.  Maggie chirped in that she wanted to ride too. I said of course, Maggie (but in the back of my mind, I was assuming she would back out).

Nope, not today!
She was SO happy. We walked around a bit, visited the chickens and the bunnies and cows - and then were asked if our kids would want to lead around a calf. Cam was first in the ring, ready to go and  Maggie kept saying 'Me too! Me too!' Again, I said sure, Maggie, you can be next, figuring when she walked up to that huge calf she would back away - but she did it! And she acted like is was no big deal.
So then, I started checking the program for other Little Sprout classes, and we made it over in time for the kids to lead around a goat. At this point, it's old hat for Maggie:

We spent a good 3.5 hours at the fair, and the kids had a blast. As usual, it ended in tears when we rode the school bus to the car - Cam insisted on sitting in the way back and we hit a bump and he went FLYING through the air. Poor kid. Although I asked him later if he like riding on the bus, and he said YES! So apparently flipping up in the air and landing on your head is fun. Sigh.

They were SO tired when we got home, I wasn't sure we would be able to make it to the baseball game that night, but they took great naps and were ready to go. As usual, Cam was SUPER excited to see Twister. At the end of the game, the Tykes Club members get to run the bases, and Twister gives everyone a high five at 3rd base. Cam usually runs right up, but Maggie gives him a wide berth. I didn't manage to catch the actual high five, but she did it!
Blows my mind. She has grown up in so many ways in just the last month. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday night leftovers: the bag edition

  • Our weekend is JAM packed. I think I panicked a bit about summer ending and possibly overbooked us.
  • This weekend includes multiple swimming play dates, a date night for us, a fair and a baseball game. And dinner at a friends house on Monday night.
  • Next week is going to be insanely busy for Aaron at work - so I asked my mom to come and help me with the kids. I never do that. I don't really need the help, but it will be nice to have my mom visiting. Aaron will probably leave the house before I wake up and come home after I go to sleep, so it'll be nice to have a grown up to hang out with.
  • Mom has sold the house I grew up in and is moving the cabin full time. This is old news. But she is now packing, and you can tell that she is mourning leaving her home of 44 years.
  • But this has me fielding phone calls daily from her. Long phone calls. God. Save. Me.
  • The drama is starting to ramp up around us not going to a family wedding. Much more on this in a future post.
  • And finally, the two nice diaper bags I'd like to get rid of.
The first is a Nest Bag. I bought this right after Maggie was born. I was so sleep deprived, I thought the price tag said $75..... it was really $175. But I have to admit, it is an awesome bag. The diapers and wipes fit in a zipper compartment underneath the bag, and it really doesn't look like a diaper bag. The handles unclip so you can easily attach it to your stroller handle.

The second is a Fleurville Mothership Bag. I bought this one to travel to the West Coast - and it rocks. Lots of pockets, easy to clean. And I now realize, looking at links, that I paid about $150 new for this thing.


Jesus. It is a good thing I haven't had more kids. I spend a lot of freaking money while sleep deprived. And I no longer feel bad about the $80 I spent on my replacement!

If anyone is interested in one or both, give me a offer. I will note that the nest bag has some wear on the bottom. Anything reasonable and it's yours.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My closet

In April, I got fed up with my crappy, ill-fitting, out of date wardrobe. So I threw it all away. It felt great at the time. I bought some nice things for the spring and summer and patted myself on the back. Monday, it was cool, so I went to grab a pair of pants. And discovered I had no pants.

Glad I noticed it now, while I could still wear my warm weather clothes and not look silly! So I've spent the last few days looking around and buying a few things. I used to HATE dresses. But I've learned that they are a really quick and easy thing to throw on for work. Add one of my scarves from India and funky tights, and you can change the look really quickly too. So I got a few new dresses from Lands End (who has really upped their plus size options) and some funky tights from Lane Bryant.

I needed some pants too, and a friend with more style than I said to get leggings and tunics. And I was like, really?! I'm still unsure, but found a pair on sale and a few fun tunics. I'm willing to give it a try. I'm trying to not be that mom that is stuck in the clothes that she thinks are cool because it is what what cool when she was twenty.

AND. In big grown up girl news, I'm ditching all my diaper bags and bought myself a REAL bag. It's a big one, because I want it to fit my computer for work, and some knitting. And I'm realistic, I'll still need to throw in snacks for kids and toys... but it's a REAL bag. Without a plastic lining and bottle holders. Anyone need fancy, but used, diaper bags?

I'm also going to get some high boots, but still trolling around for a pair that I like that are decent quality and fit my rather abundant calves.

Anyone else doing some fashion changes for the fall? I have to admit, I'm enjoying shopping for myself!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's purging season again

If I was pregnant, people would be accusing me of nesting. I've been pregnant or have had children for 4 years now, and I can tell you - it's not about 'nesting'. It's about the major season change. Those that know me in real life, know that I'm not the best housekeeper. One of the things that help keeps this house in somewhat decent shape is the fact that we have housekeepers come every 2 weeks. In order for them to be able to clean, I clean up before they come. It keeps me honest.

But, when the weather starts to change, I need to sort through clothes. My hand-me-down storage system involves boxes of clothes and some stored in dressers... and plenty of cute out of season things that I couldn't give away because it was too cute last season so I prayed it would fit again when the weather changed (which it never does).

This purge fest was enlarged by the re-do of Maggie's room. And the fact that the dresser I wanted to move to Maggie's room was in Cameron's closet, filled with Cameron's clothes. Behind a year of stuff I just threw into Cam's closet. I had to start and clean out Cam's closet to even be able to start with the dresser, then empty out the stuff leaving Maggie's old dressers, get the right sized stuff out of Maggie's closet for the late summer/early fall... and move and sort and move. And reorganize. I always feel like a rock star when it's done, but things take about a week or so to shake out. And in the process, the house is a freaking wreak. This time I called it pretty close. I decide I should have Maggie's room looking decent when she got home to her new bed - so I started it about 4 hours before Aaron was coming home with the bed. This is Maggie's room about 45 minutes before Aaron arrived home with her new bed:


I did manage to pull it off. It's always ugliest before the end. I take EVERYTHING out, dump it in the middle of the room, and sort from there. So the above picture was right before I got everything settled back in storage boxes, drawers, donation bags or garbage bags. Proof Maggie isn't living in a pile of junk:


I've got one more re-org to go. Her purple castle is arriving tomorrow! I have a few things I need want to get set up to make the playhouse area more fun, but nothing as disruptive as this last purge.

This time, the shuffle involves getting rid of all of the crib bedding, changing table, changing pads, and other 'baby' things. So we need to put these things on Craigslist. What a freaking pain. But in the end, both rooms will be less cluttered and only storing things that they actually use (or will use in the near future.) This makes me happy.

And somewhat inspired to deal with the guest room. But I need a rest first.