Monday, November 30, 2009

Picture pain

Who would've thought taking a family picture would be so hard? We like to include a family picture with our Christmas card, but it is never an easy endeavor. Last year we had success simply sitting on the front steps and putting our camera on a timer.

This year, we wanted to capture the essence of our new home, so we planned to pose in front of the state capitol. Twice we ran out of daylight. Countless times one or both boys was looking down, squirming, screaming, or just looking weird. A few times I was blinking or T was grimacing. Occasionally we drew a crowd, and once a helpful woman (and former Santa's elf and Easter Bunny) danced behind the camera to draw a smile from our boys.

We finally got a decent one yesterday. These were some of the finalists. Next year, we may resort to Photoshop.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Why I am not going shopping today

Black Friday makes people do crazy things. I heard today that people have been sleeping in tents since 10 a.m. yesterday for post-Thanksgiving sales. That's just silly. I will not be joining them.

In truth, T and I did join the mob of shoppers a few years ago when Wal-mart was offering cheap TVs. We were dirt poor, and my only TV was a 13-inch leftover from college, so we jumped at the chance. It was a frightening experience as people with steel determination in their eyes rammed their shopping carts through whatever was in their path. We grabbed our TVs, hit the checkout, and high-tailed it out of there. I haven't returned since.

Last year I was sickened when a worker was trampled in a Black Friday stampede. Was that man's life really worth a cheap Ipod? It is depressing and disgusting. And that bargain buy isn't going to bring you happiness. You'll be back in line to replace it next year.

The consumerism of the season puzzles me as well, especially this year. I and most other people I know are a little financially challenged this year, so gift-giving is a tricky endeavor. Without fail we scrape together money to buy presents for other people and they buy gifts for us. We are all out roughly the same amount of money, but now with more material possessions that we may or may not want. It doesn't make a lot of sense....except for retailers.

My sister-in-law came up with a good plan of choosing names between all the siblings on that side of the family, so each person only has to buy one present. I think we will be carrying that theme to all our gift-giving. Our presents this year will be simple and thoughtful. Especially between T and me, and even to our children. I want to teach them that accumulating more "things" well never make them more happy and it is more likely to make them miserable.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This and that

I'm reading Sarah Palin's book. Crazy, yes. I am no supporter of hers, but I have always found her life interesting. I remember first hearing her name when her fifth pregnancy became public while she was governor of Alaska. I found that just mind-boggling, as I attempted to keep my life together during my second pregnancy. Any woman who can navigate a successful career while managing a large family is a hero of mine. I want to know how they do it and glean any bits of wisdom from them I can. Plus, she is polished and stylish, and I just like that.

Her book has its interesting parts, but she lays on the political rhetoric extra thick, and that is a turn off. I wish it was a bit more autobiography and a bit less propaganda, but what can you do.


On a related note, I am weighing a return to a full-time job. I applied for one yesterday and am considering pursuing TV news again. I constantly vacillate. Another salary would be very nice, and I often feel confined and half-crazy in my mostly stay-at-home life. Then people tell me I am lucky and doing the "most important" job, and I wonder why I don't feel more fortunate. Maybe I will never be satisfied? I don't know. I have a lot of thinking to do.


I am still crooked. After several manipulations at my doctor's office, I thought I was getting better. But the last few weeks I have been in a lot of pain, with nerve sensations shooting down the front of my thighs, my right hip sticking out and my back hunched over. It is so difficult to teach my classes and even hefting R out of the crib is a major undertaking.

This weekend I tried alternating ibuprofen and Tylenol along with half doses of muscle relaxants. I ended up passing the weekend in a delirious zombie state and with an upset stomach to boot. I expressed my frustration to my doctor, and she referred me to physical therapy.

I just finished my appointment, and I feel like I may be getting somewhere. She said my joints are more flexible than the average person, and my hips and pelvis are especially loose after giving birth twice. So I have to learn specific strengthening exercises to counteract this instability.

We'll see how it goes. I have been in pain on and off for almost four years, so I am about ready to figure this out.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hallowed ground

T has finally made his pilgrimage to the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field. His birthday was this past Friday, and about a month ago I got him tickets to a Packers game. I couldn't wait to give them to him, because I knew he'd be thrilled. But I waited till dinner at The Melting Pot to hand over the card. He lit up and grinned from ear to ear incredulously. It was a great reaction.

I have been to two Packers games before and both were painfully cold. I was dreading the same for this game, but we got lucky. Temperatures were near 50 at the beginning and though they cooled down as the sun went down, it was tolerable. The last time I went, the metal bleachers were iced over. This time they were cool on the tush, but not frostbite-inducing.

The Packers won 17-7. The game got off to a slow start but the second half was gripping. The excitement and passion in the stadium was energizing, and I am glad T got to experience it. It's good to be back in Wisconsin.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The price you pay

Usually T does the grocery shopping. I plan our meals and make a grocery list on Sunday and then he shops that evening and gets cash for the sitter. He was out of town this weekend, so the shopping was my task.

I do everything humanly possible to avoid long shopping trips with the children, so I went between classes today while they were at childcare. I decided to hit Whole Foods because it has great food and was near where I was teaching. I found great stuff of course, but even by choosing generics and sale items, it was still pricey. I'd love to start buying more organic food, but it painful to pay often double the price. I do believe some items are worth the extra cost, and I do think I will invest in organic milk. For rice, beans, and flour, however, I am heading back to the cheap store.



Saturday, November 7, 2009

On my own

T is out of town. Off to a work conference for five days. That leaves a lot of dirty diapers and messy high chairs for me. Not fun. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I don't know how single moms do it. I don't like going solo. I like sharing the load.

T left this afternoon, but we managed to enjoy a gorgeous fall day. We went to the final farmers market and then to the children's museum. The boys were busy building, digging, and exploring.

They napped well when they got home.

Tomorrow I am escaping to my sister's house so I won't have to figure out how to keep the boys busy for a long Sunday. They can run around with their rambunctious cousins.


I made two loaves of bread this evening. This time I made them the old fashioned way rather than in the bread machine. They look good, but we'll see how they taste tomorrow. I did one part wheat flour and two parts white.

I making more and more of our own food or buying it is naturally as possible. I am growing increasingly frustrated with how food is processed and the crap they put in it. I find it maddening and a bit depressing, really. So, might as well make my own! I enjoy the process and most of the time it tastes better.


Thursday, November 5, 2009


We accidentally overpaid for childcare this week, but I benefited. T paid our provider on Monday, but I realized he had paid her for three extra hours. We didn't want to say, "Hey, can we have some of that money back?" So I just found a use for that extra time.

Today I got a massage. It was lovely. I did have a small gift card and some birthday money from my grandma, so I didn't even feel overly self-indulgent. I almost fell asleep during it with those half-dream fleeting thoughts skipping across my brain. Afterward I was like a puddle on the exam table.

T and I met for coffee afterward. Overpaying turned out to be a happy accident. Don't you love those?


On an odd side note, while walking to Starbucks, I saw a scraggly, bearded homeless man carrying a baseball bat over his shoulder and nothing else. I gave him a wide berth for obvious reasons, but he came over to tell me he thought I was beautiful. Thanks, I guess. I'll take compliments where I can get them!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Four-legged vaccuum

I am not a dog person by nature.

We grew up with cats, and they have always been my first love. There was Toby, then Charlie, now in my own family there are Abby and Maddie. (Abby is my favorite. Don't tell Maddie) T however grew up with dogs. And we thought the boys needed a dog. Enter Ruby for Christmas 2007.

Clearly as cute as a button but a major pain in the buttocks. She chewed many things (including my mom's new shoes) and piddled regularly on the ground. She still has frequent accidents and is a lap dog to an annoying degree. But there is one thing she does the cats don't do, and I love it.

She is our own living Roomba. She licks up the bits of granola bars and bread that fall to the floor. Of course we chase her away from entire sandwiches or chocolate chunks from cookies pitched from the high chair. But if the morsel is small and harmless, I call her right over and let her clean up for me. When I am somewhere else I have to catch myself before I mindlessly let crumbs fall to the ground.

Sometimes she gets a bit too aggressive, lunging to lick a far-flung piece of cheese in the corner of R's chair. Thankfully she's short and usually misses, but she never gives up. It is a nice little perk, though I'm not sure this bit of housekeeping makes up for all the spots on the carpet.

I think I am finding my inner dog person.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mom Comrades

The first thing I did when I moved to a new city was join a moms' group. And thank goodness I did.

It gave Q and R a set of playmates and introduced me to friends as well. Our weekly play dates are a great way to get out of the house and to burn off energy for the boys. But the value of the moms' group extends beyond that.

There are some moms who drive me a little crazy of course. You'll encounter that in any social circle. But there are others with whom I have quickly formed a friendship.

We have met for drinks and dinner and our husbands have gotten to know each other.

We can depend on each other for last-minute babysitters or compare potty-training stories.

It's really an invaluable part of my life now, and I would recommend it to any new mom or any mom moving to a new area. Many of us in the group are new residents. We even had one mom come to the group while she was still pregnant and now her newborn has joined the ranks. You can't beat the support system and the camaraderie.


One of my favorite times of the day is nap time. The boys are down now after running and climbing at this morning's weekly play date. Some sort of time warp exists during nap time however. Time seems to slip by at twice the normal speed and my plans of eating lunch, resting, Internet surfing, and cleaning are rushed. I constantly watch the clock and dread that first whimper from their bedroom. Is that wrong?


Monday, November 2, 2009

Fresh-baked bread

Is there anything better than the smell of fresh-baked bread? I don't think so.

T got me a bread maker for my 24th birthday, and I used it pretty frequently the first few years. Then it stayed tucked away in storage for the last few years we were in Oregon. T was downsizing our storage unit, and I told him to unearth the bread machine box. I dusted it off, found a recipe online, and had it baking this afternoon.

In my effort to eat cleaner and cheaper, I am attempting to cut out most processed foods and make more of my own food for our family. I used whole wheat flour and flax meal in the recipe. Q "helped" put the ingredients in the pan and pushed the button. He continually asked me to pick him up so he could see the progress and asked repeatedly if it was done.

About three and a half hours later, it was. I used it tonight for some sandwiches with hummus, greens, cucumbers, avocado, and provolone. It was quite tasty.

There is something very satisfying about eating something you made. So now we are eating oatmeal every morning, homemade granola bars, and homemade bread. Our grocery list includes very few boxed or processed foods. I feel pretty good about that.


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Dad got the one thing he wanted for his 60th birthday: six grandsons crowded around him. We enjoyed a few days in Wisconsin Dells, eating Dad's favorite tacos, and playing in the massive indoor water park.

R kept going down the toddler slides over and over. Q was a bit more hesitant at first, but had a ball splashing his cousins.

Next up: Halloween. We went as a group of doctors.

Everyone thought R was a girl and one man made the insulting on multiple levels comment of "Oh look! A little nurse!"

They cleaned up in the candy department, and now they are rationed as am I.


Keeping in the Halloween spooky spirit of things, T and I watched Rosemary's Baby. It was intriguing and very different from horror movies of today.