Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Plan 2010

Well, 2010 is almost over. One of the things I did at this time last year was set some goals and things that I wanted to do.  Overall, I have to say that this year was not as full of kids being sick and not as many feelings of being overwhelmed.  However, it was still very stressful and hectic.  I'm not sure that there are any goals other than "teach kids to feed, bathe, and dress themselves" that would help with the craziness.

One of the biggest changes was the health of the kids.  Last year they were both so sick.  This picture pretty much says it all:

This year, they were both healthier and enjoyed the holiday much more, I think.


Part of The Plan is to look at your goals throughout the year and see how far you've come OR decide whether your goals were even realistic.  Some of mine were not, I think.

Physical Health
I only really did one thing which was lose the weight. The rest were either never done or I started and didn't keep up.
 - lose and keep off the rest of the baby weight

 - Take vitamins!
 - Become more active
 - Yoga
 - Finish dental work that I've been putting off
 - Follow-up with breast surgeon

Mental Well Being
To a degree I did all of these things. The one I found to be the hardest was connecting with people. I have come to think that maybe my alone time has become more precious to me.
 - Ask for help when I need it (laundry, dishes, general tasks)
 - Simplify (Throw things AWAY)
 - Read
 - Make more of an effort to connect with people

The weekend never happened because of money and vacation time. I would really like to do something like that, someday, but I think that it will have to wait until I finish grad school I don't have a good grasp of this category. I would like to say I was a better friend, but a big part of me feels like this was a year where I hunkered down and went into self-preservation mode. M and I did get out more that we had previously and we did find a babysitter, although we never actually used her.  So, I think this category was sort of a draw.

 - Save more, waste less

 - Plan a weekend get-a-way with girlfriends
 - Make an effort to spend more alone time with M
 - Find a babysitter other than my parents
 - Complain less
 - Become a better friend
 - Become a better writer
 - Become a better photographer

 I'm doing this again in 2011 and will post about it soon.  I would love it if you joined me.  It has been a great source of reflection for me and I point to which I could return if I needed to revisit some of my goals for the year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Little Humbug


I don't know what it is, but I just can't get into Christmas this year.  It's not like anything is really wrong.  I still have my job, the kids are fine, and M still has his job.  Compared to a lot of families in the space community, we're doing pretty good.  Still, I just don't have that happiness that I usually do during Christmas.  My shopping has been non-existent and I'm not even sure we're going to do cards this year, which has been a real sore point between me and M.

I really thought that 2010 was going to be the best year yet, and in many ways it's been one of the hardest.  I feel like I struggle to balance everything going on much more than I did at this time last year.  Many of the things that are stressful are temporary, namely school, but my job is always on my mind, as are money and time.  How did I let it get away from me?  I know I need to make some changes and, despite my resolutions to share some responsibilities, I have taken on most of the household chores and child rearing responsibilities again.  So, I am going to fix that.

I only have to work two days next week and then we leave for my hometown on Wednesday.  I think I just need a damn break, but Christmas isn;t always the best time for that.  I'm still worried about my mom, but it will be nice to have everyone together.  I hope something kicks in because this humbug feeling isn't fun.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

18 Months

 Eighteen months ago E joined our family, and I can hardly believe the little baby has turned into the smart ball of energy we know today.  She loves to run, laugh, sing, and play.  Luckily, she still loves snuggling, too.  She's big (93% height and 94% for weight) and that makes for some interesting wrestling matches with L.  He's so gentle with her, but we often hear "Mom, help!" when E pins him to the ground. They are great friends and play together a lot.  Seeing them interact has made that first difficult year worth it.  They will always be friends and they will always have each other.  I am very grateful for that.

She says more words every day.  Just this morning she pointed to her space place mat and was trying to say astronaut.  It's wonderful that she will never know a world without female astronauts.  She likes eating dinner at her little table with a big girl cup and uses all of her utensils.  It's like my baby has been replaced with a little girl.  I love seeing her grow up, but there is a bittersweetness to it, for sure. 

With the good news that E is thriving, we also welcomed news that my mom's heart condition was not critical.  She has a slight narrowing of the valve, but it doesn't need to be replaced, yet.  She is tired and will need to be monitored, but I think that maybe this was the wake up call that we all needed.  Life is too crazy and this time of year can make it even worse.  My mom opted not to make her annual pecan brittle and I was really glad that she chose her health instead of the idea that she has to "do it all".  I should probably take a lesson from that. 

We have each other and a lot of love.  It's good to remember to relax and enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


My dad very rarely calls me, so when I saw his number on my cell phone at 2pm, I had this really bad feeling.  He called to tell me that my mom was in the hospital.  Apparently, she has had a heart murmur that she never told my brother and I about and after feeling faint this morning, she went to the doctor.  The doctor sent her straight to the hospital.  I was able t get very little information from my dad and he was already at home. When I asked him if he was planning on going back to sit with my mom, he said "No, she doesn't want o be fussed over."  So what???  Ignore her!  I do it all the time.  Go anyway.  He's a practical Midwesterner to the core and if you tell him not to come back, he won't.  I called my brother and gave him some instructions.  Seeing as I have spent the most time in hospitals of all of my family, I told him to bring her a bathrobe, comfy socks and a pillow.  He said he would.  I hung up with my brother and called M.  We agreed that we would skip the company Christmas party this weekend and go to my hometown to stay with my parents.  They were scheduled to come to Houston and babysit so we could attend the party, but I am not comfortable with that.  I think my mom is more likely to rest in her own home (she is always trying to clean and do laundry at ours) and seeing the kids will cheer her up a lot. 

When I spoke with my mom she sounded good and apologized, of course, because moms are not supposed to get sick, right?  I asked her questions and got a lot more information from her.  She said that she was going to tell us about the murmur, but just hadn't yet (grrrr) and had been seeing a cardiologist about it.  They told her to come in with any symptoms, so I am really glad that she listened and went in this morning.  They think she has Aortic Stenosis and will be doing a dye test to see if there is any blockage.  Her EKG and Echo came back ok, and they know her general heart function is good.

This is all very scary.  Being 3 hours away makes it worse.  I am so glad that my brother is in town and can help and be my eyes and ears.  My fear is that they won't ask questions, or, if they do, they won't ask the right questions.  I am a big believer in making the doctor interact and tell you what is going on.  My experience with specialists is that they would rather throw a bunch of medical terms at you and leave out the explanation.  As of right now, I am going to stay put unless they find something they don't like in the tests.  Otherwise, we are taking off on Friday afternoon and visiting for the weekend.  My mom sounded really happy about that. 

I've seen others go through this, but watching your own parents get older and dealing with the reality that they won't be around forever is hard.  Intellectually, you know that they can't live forever, but facing the reality of that is much harder than I imagined. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flashback Friday

I started thinking about my old blog yesterday, and I realized that it is a good way to look back and see what was happening this time two or three years ago.  It's a little strange reading the old posts, especially the ones written before L arrived.  I was a totally different, better rested person back then.

Three years ago I talked about the surreal feeling of going from wishing I was pregnant to being in my last trimester:

It dawned on me when we walked into our first prenatal class on Wednesday that I am just days away from being in my last trimester. This morning when I was putting on my make-up I found the first pregnancy test I took with the + in the little window. I don't think it's something I will put in the baby book, but I just can't bear to throw it away. On that morning when I first stared in disbelief at that piece of plastic, nine months seemed so far away. I couldn't even imagine what I would look like with a large belly or how it would feel walking through the park with a stroller. It was beyond my imagination. Now, we're pricing cribs and registering for shower gifts and I'm wondering if I can come back to work part-time for a while.

I don't want to loose touch with the scared person that I was. I don't want to forget what it felt like have that outside looking in feeling. If I forget, then I might not appreciate what I have, and I do appreciate it. More than anything. As plans become more concrete and the realness of this situation sinks in, I have a lot of fears. I am not afraid of labor or delivery, I am afraid of what happens after that. I could tell you every hormone that is running through my veins right now and what is going on with the baby's development, but what's next? When the baby is finally here, will I measure up?

Is it ok to be afraid of something that you have wanted so badly for so long?

Two years ago I was pregnant with E and feeling really sick.  Then there was this little incident:

Yesterday, I got a call from daycare telling me that L fell and bumped his head. "It's a pretty big lump - maybe you should come and look at it." Being obsessive, first-time parents, M and I both went (we work very close to daycare) and it was a pretty big lump with a little scratch. He was standing on the other side of the exer-saucer and fell and bumped his head on the room divider. He has much more strength than coordination these days, so I wasn't surprised. It was the afternoon and he was so happy to see us that we took him home and played with him for the rest of the day for "observation".

Ha!  You can tell he was our first because it would have to be pretty serious before we would rush over to daycare nowadays.

One year ago I was frustrated because we didn't know when we were going to move and there were too many boxes and no room for a tree.  Well, this year we definitely have a tree and things are much more cheery.   It's fun to look back and I think it serves as a good reminder that things really do progress and move on.  It's hard when you are mired in the struggle of everyday to remember that, for better or for worse, things change and so do you.  I like to think that the change is for the better.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days

Well, I made it.  I can't say that any of the posts were literary masterpieces, but it was fun and I'm glad I did it.  My old blog used to be a really important part of my life. When I was struggling to get pregnant, there were many days when my blog was the only place I could go for some understanding.  Now that I've moved to my new space, I realize that I still don't feel as comfortable here.  Perhaps posting more often will help that.

I appreciate my blogging and Twitter friends so much, and if you aren't on Twitter, I highly recommend it.  It is my go to place to vent or get support when I need it.  It's also good when you need a few opinions, or 100.  In some ways, I think that blogging has become a bit too serious.  I see some bloggers who write about their families and agonize over every decision and every negative comment until the drama spills over into other social networks.  I am the first to admit that I do my share of agonizing, but to do it for a living would be exhausting.  Some people love that drama and intensity and I guess that's why their blogs have so many readers.  I prefer to stay in my corner and enjoy the outlet it provides.

So, thank you for sticking around for the last 30 days.  I hope you enjoyed it!  I poured you a glass of wine to celebrate........


Monday, November 29, 2010

That Time of Year

When I was growing up my mother had a strict rule that no Christmas decorations would go up until December 1st.  We would wake up in the morning and the whole house would be decorated with advent calendars and we knew that getting a tree wasn't far behind.  Christmas was a time of year when everything was right. My mom was in a better mood, we had time off from school, and our normally strict diets were relaxed a little and we got treats.  As a result, I am one of those people that loves Christmas, but I don't adhere to the December 1st rule.  We had our tree up on Saturday and there's been a lot of "don't touch" and we already have one broken ornament, but the kids have to learn how to be around a Christmas tree at some point. 

The last two years have been fun, but the kids were too young to really understand what was going on.  My company has a Christmas party and one of our employees plays Santa.  This is great because not only is his beard real, but this means I don't have to stand in line at the mall.

L's first meeting with Santa went ok, although he was a bit suspicious

The next year, he was not at all happy to see his old friend, Santa.  E was a little confused as to why we dressed her like that if we knew he would be wearing the same thing.

We're hoping that L will understand a little better this year, although I think it might be E's turn to freak out.  This Saturday is the children's Christmas party, so we'll see how it goes.  We've been playing Christmas music and I plan on showing the kids all of the usual TV specials. I want them to love this holiday as much as I do and to gain a sense of what is really important. We don't do a lot of presents, but we'll be together and I know that the love and security we all feel is much better than a gift certificate. 

(I wouldn't turn down a gift certificate to Starbuck's, though, if Santa happens to be reading this.) 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back to Work

Well, it's back to the real world tomorrow. The break was really nice, despite the Saturday we lost to M's stomach bug. I can't decide how I feel about going back. On one hand, I know that the kids need school and their normal routine. I need to work and, well, I also need a little peace and quiet. On the other hand, I'm going to miss being at home, being lazy, and getting extra time with L and E. The choice is made by economic need, so off to work and school we all go.

We went to the zoo today and I managed to take some photos that weren't of the kids. I am as shocked as you are.

Some big Texas sky:

A sculpture that I managed to catch without any kids in it:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Against One

When E was born a lot of people joked that we no longer outnumbered the kids. It was now a one-on-one defense. Not having more adults than kids does make it more hectic, but it's when only one adult is around that things get crazy.

M was laid out by a stomach bug today and my parents left this morning, so it was just me and the kids. The thing is, I find it really hard to take them to the park or to run errands when I'm solo parenting. L is almost 3 and E is just about 18 months. I live in fear of L making a run for it or getting lost in a store. He wants to be out of the cart, which makes E want out, as well. There's no way I can keep track of them both. At the park, L has been known to run off and leave you with no choice but to leave E and run after him. When we are together as parents, they both behave. It's like they test the weakness when we're alone.

I know that they are both still very young, but when only one of us is around, it really limits what we can do and it makes me feel like I'm a bad disciplinarian, which I am not. We ventured out briefly today to make a shopping trip to Fry's, and both kids were very good, but I didn't push my luck by going to a second store. I feel guilty for the TV watching and having to turn to TV so I can get just a few things done.

Things are looking up. M is better, poor guy, and we are annoying on going to the zoo tomorrow. Hopefully the kids will have more fun tomorrow. Also, we got the tree up and my Father Christmas collection displayed!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

When I lived in Boston I decided I would go to Filene's Basement, the one downtown, the day after Thanksgiving. I didn't buy anything because I immediately became fearful for my life when I saw the crazed shoppers going through the clothes piled high on the tables. I decided that it wasn't worth it. After seeing the Target flyer yesterday, my mom and I decided to give it a shot, but we went just before 7, not 4am. We got the two things we wanted and it was actually a pretty fun time! I kind of wish Target was open that early all the time. I could get a lot done that way.

We spent the rest of the day eating leftovers, watching football, and even managed another trip to see the Saturn V rocket.

Since my parents are still here, I was able to have a nice dinner with M in the city. It was another great day!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Today was a good day. We cleared enough boxes to actually eat in the dining room and even the kids ate some mashed potatoes and turkey. We talked, ate, and laughed through the meal. We even managed to take a quick trip to the park.

My brother and his girlfriend are fantastic with the kids and I can't wait to see him with his own kids, someday.

I have a lot to be thankful for today and every day. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This Is Not OK

I grew up n Texas, but my heart has always been in a colder climate.  I love cold weather.  I know that people will say, "Well, you've never lived in cold weather. Snow is a pain in the ass and the months of dreariness gets to you."  I have lived in cold climates, but family and other forces brought me back to Texas.  Otherwise, I would be living in a snowy place, trust me. 

We sent L to school with shorts on this morning.  Shorts on the day before Thanksgiving.  It is so hard to get into the holiday spirit when you have to run the AC and put on bug spray.  It's just depressing.  I am so tired of being miserable all summer and then still sweating in the humidity in the "winter" months, or should I say "month".  No matter how much you hate winter, you would not want this weather.  It's humid, your hair always, always looks bad and summer lasts for 8 months.  It's not a pleasant, Midwestern summer, either.  It's omygodi'mgoingtodie summer.  There are no seasons.  You don't really think about it until you go somewhere that actually has a fall.  Trust me, you would miss seasons.

If we were less practical, I think we would move just to escape the heat and occasional hurricane.  However, I think we're stuck here for the time being.  I resent it, though.  Shorts on Thanksgiving is just wrong.

What about you? Do you wish you lived in a different climate?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Almost Ready

I'm not good at cleaning. I like things to be clean, but I have a really hard time talking myself in to cleaning rather than relaxing or doing almost anything else, really. I usually do really well when company is coming because it forces me to power clean.

Right now, my kitchen looks awesome and all of the bathrooms are clean. Bring on the company.

I swear, if I get a raise or win the lottery I am totally getting a maid to clean the kitchen and bathrooms. Maybe everything. Cooking and laundry would be nice, too.....

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Thing About Twitter......

I'm on twitter a lot. It has become a great support system for me. I can honestly say that I've met some wonderful people there. Of course, there is an element of drama. There are those that bring all of their issues to twitter in the hopes of getting some attention. One in particular is such a train wreck that I can't unfollow her and I can't look away. I am fairly sure she is making some of it up in the attempt to become the powerful blogger she dreams of being. It's fascinating and bizarre, just like Twitter.

What about you? Do you have any dramas or train wrecks you follow?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Closet

When we moved into our house we had to replace all of the flooring. The carpet and tile were original and quite gross. The master closet was supposed to have carpet, but there was a very odd floor to ceiling shelf thing in there that was old and gross like the old carpet. We opted to not put carpet in there so we could rip out the weird shelf and still keep our move in schedule. It's had cement floors......until now.

M is very handy, but he is also meticulous. So, while things end up looking very nice, it takes a while. Add to that juggling kids and every day stuff, and it takes a long while. The closet is actually really big and M put in carpet tiles which are really cool. For storage, we bought some cabinets from Ikea.

Here is a view of the carpet tiles and the cabinet.

The funny thing is that many of my shoes and clothes have been packed away. I've been getting by with a lot less because I had to. I might just give the unworn clothes away. Obviously, I don't need them that badly.

That was my exciting weekend! I still have a lot to accomplish before Thursday, but we have free HBO and The Hangover is on, so we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Well, the good news is that M finished the closet. We have a painted, carpet tiled room and I can't wait to get my stuff in there. The bad news is that it took him all day. All.Day.

We try to limit the TV watching for the kids, but on the days when I am solo and I still have to get a lot done, it's so hard not to turn on Nick Jr. We did pretty well. It was on in the morning, as usual, but was off for almost all of the afternoon.

If you have kids, how much TV do they watch? I'm curious.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Checking it Twice

I made the mistake of listing everything I need to do before thanksgiving. Ugh. We are trying to clear our dining room of boxes from the move so that we don't have to eat in the kitchen. Bathrooms must be cleaned, sheets and clothes washed, and grocery shopping completed.

I don't mind being busy. In fact, I actually kind of like it. Next week is short and I am looking forward to the visitors. The only possible hitch could be the free HBO we get for the next week.

Well, if I don't get everything on the list life will go on. Right?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Begins

We had the annual Thanksgiving feast at work today. As you can see from the dessert table above, there was a lot of food. The holiday season has begin and, as usual, I have decided on gifts for friends and family and will be looking for the best deals possible.

The kids will be more aware of what's going on this year, especially L. I am getting E a baby doll and a doll bed that I saw at Ikea. L is getting a toy garbage truck that makes noise. (I'm sure I'll regret that choice.). I try to limit my parents to 2 gifts for each kid but it hasn't worked, so far.

I can't think of anything I really want. I guess a new point and shoot camera or an iPhone 4G, but money is tight with big property taxes looming, so I might just opt out of gifts. What do I really need, anyway? It's much more fun watching the kids enjoy theirs.

I think E is making her list right now...

What are you asking for this year?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Making My List


One week from today it will be Thanksgiving Eve.  I can't believe it's already that time of year!!  We're hosting even though we still have mountains of boxes, but we'll make it work, somehow.  We are creatures of habit when it comes to food.  My dad smokes a Turkey, which is really awesome, and brings it with him so all we have to do is heat it up in the oven when we're ready to eat.  I thought I would share the dishes we're making and hope that you'll tell me about anything that you just couldn't live without at Thanksgiving.  If the recipe is online, I linked it, so check it out!

Side Dishes:
Mashed Potatoes - smooth, no skin or lumps

Sweet potatoes with orange glaze (my mom has been making this for as long as I can remember)

Green Bean Casserole - One of my favorites

Dressing - I just get one out of a box and add spiced walnuts and bacon.

Cranberry Sauce - I am making this sauce, which is so good.  It's easy and I highly recommend it.  I am also going to make Ma Stamberg's cranberry relish.  I am a big NPR fan and I have wanted to make this for years.  We'll see how it goes!

Rolls - of course

Salad - A little extra green

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie - It's really good and probably the healthiest thing you'll ever see on Paula Deen's site.
Blackberry Pie - Every year I somehow manage ruin the pecan pie, so my parents are bringing one to put me out of my misery.

So, there you have it!  What are you having?  Are you staying in town or traveling?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rough Night

I'm really tired today, so I can't think of anything very interesting to write about.  Why am I tired?  Well, there seems to be a bit of a tummy bug going around.  The funny thing is, while we are dealing with it here, a friend in Mississippi is dealing with it, as is my friend in Chicago.  Are we seeing the spread of an illness or can you catch something from Twitter??

Anyway, about midnight last night M woke me up saying "L threw up everywhere, I need help!"  I was so out of it, I thought it was morning.  I stumbled to L's room and saw the damage.  L was in the bathroom, naked as a jaybird, and started jumping up and down when he saw me. Mom, mom, I made a mess in my bed!  No joke, kid.  M put him in the tub and hosed him off while I changed the sheets.  I realized that I never quite got around to buying an extra twin sized mattress pad.  Dammit.  L got some new PJs and I rinsed and put the old sheets in the wash.  In the mean time, L was wide awake and as chatty as ever.  I guess throwing up made him feel better.  M stayed with him, bless his heart, and said he didn't fall completely asleep until 4am.  Ugh.

Since there was no fever and L kept his milk down, we went ahead and sent him to school.  As I type this, 30 minutes before I leave, I am amazed he made it through the day.  I'm going to guess that he didn't eat much and took a really good nap.  I am going to put some probiotics in his milk this evening and see if I can kill whatever it is that's getting him.  E is fine, knock on wood, and slept through everything.  She is the only one that will be in a good mood tonight, I predict.

These are the stories you tell your kids when they are grown and raising their own families.  M and I joke about earning parenting badges and I think we deserve one for our teamwork last night.  Hopefully we'll all get some rest tonight.

Got any good middle of the night throw up stories?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seventeen Months

I looked at the calendar and realized that E is 17 months today.  There are parts of the 17 months that have rushed by and parts that have gone in slow motion.  Namely, the 10 months that she wasn't sleeping through the night.  As I look back, it all seems to blur together.  I can only separate the moments when I look at photographs.

I love seeing her personality emerge.  She is becoming quite the firecracker, which is exciting and terrifying all at once.  She plays really well with L most of the time and has a very specific screech when he tries to take a toy away from her.  I call it her pterodactyl noise.  She loves to say "dog" and her favorite phrase is "what's that?"  She still uses her pacifier, which we will soon be working on, and she is really good about letting me do her hair. 


Yesterday she was playing with a balloon and tried to bite it, which made it pop, of course. I held my breath to see how loud she would cry, but heard nothing but laughter instead.  I thought, you should be crying!  That must have stung a little.  I have never heard her laugh that loudly.  Like I said, firecracker.  I'm glad.  Girls need a little attitude in this world.  You're never too young to start kicking ass and taking names.

Considering What's Next

Sunday, November 14, 2010

En Bra Dag

I don't have much to write about today. We went to one of my favorite places - Ikea! M calls is the Swedish Embassy. I don't know if it's the cheap food or the well organized layout, but I love it there. They even put Swedish books on the shelf.

This roughly translates to "do it yourself", I believe. We got some stuff for our newly remodeled master closet, ate some meatballs, and loaded the van.

It was a good trip and I can't wait for my new closet!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Here I am in bed with tea. I added an instagram filter to make me look less like death warmed over. All of a sudden I started feeling terrible and I just don't have time for this!

It was cold and dreary today, but we managed to go to the art museum and a festival at the local nature center. The kids had a great time, of course, and L was completely enthralled with the square dancers. I'm not sure what to do with that - square dancing lessons?

I am hoping that a good night's sleep will put me right again. In the mean time, I leave you with this photo I took of L and M's hands. It melts my heart.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad Things and Good People

Kitchen Flowers

Some days the news just weighs me down.  For the past few days the big internet hubbub has been about Amazon and its respective cancellation of objectionable material for Kindle.  (By the way, they still sell videos and picture books with underage (11-13) year olds without clothes on, so no big victory there.)    Then you bring up your favorite news site or watch the evening news and there is always a story about a child being abused or killed or dying in a fire.  I don't know if its because I'm a parent now or if the exhaustion of life has made me more emotional, but these stories just makes me die a little inside.  I see the link to the story and I want to look away, but nine times out of ten, I click on it and the sadness crushes me. 

I can't relate to anyone who would ever harm a child and a part of me wants to scream and rage and the injustice.  As the economy has worsened, so have the incidents of mindless violence and people snapping under the pressure.  Every holiday season the donation boxes go out at work and the Salvation Army angel tree cards are available.  My pocketbook prevents me from taking all of the cards, but I wish I could.  I take two, one boy and one girl, and I try to make myself feel better by knowing that they will have something new, something that they wanted, to open on Christmas morning.  I know there is no way to heal all of the sadness in the world and there is no way I can control it.  All I can do is hug my kids and hope that I am raising two loving people to live in the world that might have a chance to cancel out some of the evil.

Does the news get you down, too?  Do you have a hard time turning away from stories that you know will break your heart?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What I'm Watching

I don't know how I ever survived without a DVR.  I would be completely out of touch with anything happening on TV it it weren't for that magic little box.  Not only is it invaluable for controlling what the kids watch, but it allows me to see my favorite shows without having to drop everything to catch it when it's actually being shown.  Also, being able to fast forward through commercials is nice.

After the kids go to bed I have to do dishes, make lunches, do laundry and then homework.  I'm lucky if I get to squeeze in one episode of anything, but I try to watch something to give my mind a little break after a long day.  I used to love to read, and I'm sure that once I graduate I will be able to go back to it, but for now it's all about school books.

I tend to stick to comedies and what I like to call non-exploitative reality shoes, or reality shows where you have to have a talent other than whoring.  Top Chef, Project Runway and House Hunters all fall into that category.

Some of my current favorites:

The Office - required for any HR professional
Parenthood - So well written with such great acting
30 Rock - Funniest show on TV right now
Glee - Of course
Raising Hope - I loved My Name Is Earl and this is just as good. LOVE seeing Martha Plimpton on TV!
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret - It's a BBC show with some Arrested Development alum and it's being shown on IFC. It's on Fridays, so if you liked AD, you will like this.

I also love my usuals:  Futurama, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Seinfeld reruns and Freaks and Geeks reruns which I recently discovered on IFC, as well.

The kids watch most stuff on Nick Jr., but the current favorite is called Dino Dan. It;s a CBC production and is a live action show with CG dinosaurs.  L is completely in love.  He is constantly looking out the window saying "Oh no, Dinosaur Rex!"  Even E seems to like it. 

So what are you watching these days?  Anything good I should check out?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Always On My Mind

 If you did a survey I think you would find that most women are either dieting or think that they should diet.  All of the stats about how we're getting fatter and not exercising at alarming rates is constantly in the news.  Dieting has become a way of life for most people.  It certainly is for me.  Lately, though, I find myself becoming increasingly apathetic towards it all.  Until I was 30 I never had to think about counting calories or worrying about putting on weight.  When I got off birth control so we could start a family, I gained about 15 pounds for various reasons, one of which was a hormone wackiness that I wasn't aware of.  After L was born, I got tired of feeling big and enrolled in Weight Watchers.  It really worked for me and I lost the rest of the baby weight plus the 15 that I gained before I got pregnant.  After E I did the same thing and had great success.  Weight Watchers worked for me because my inexperience with dieting makes me very weak and prone to justifying bad decisions.  I need that structure to help me see the numbers behind the stuff I was eating.  In September I actually saw a number in the 140s, which for my 5'9 frame is a lower number than I had seen in almost 3 years.  

Several weeks ago M and I were looking at ways to cut costs as we face the first round of property taxes in our new home (ouch) and I volunteered to give up my online subscription so we would save the $20 per month.  Every little bit counts, right?  I was about 4 pounds away from my ultimate weight goal, but being on the plan so long, I thought I would be ok without it.  Big mistake.  I can't blame the lack of Weight Watchers for my almost immediate gaining of 6 pounds, but I know it didn't help.  With everything else going on in my life, I just fell into this pattern of "who cares?"  When you have that invisible wife/mother feeling it's really easy to stop caring whether your pants fit or how you look.  I do care, though.  I want to look good, because I want to look good.  When I was young, being attractive was something that came from the outside.  I was attractive because others said I was.  Flawed, yes, but I was in my 20s.  Now, I want to look good because it makes me feel good.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  If I am healthy, I feel better and look better.  It's something I do for myself.

Instead of going to to Weight Watchers I have decided to think about what got me here.  One thing is snacking.  I am such a snacker.  I snack when I'm bored or watching TV.  The bored thing I can battle, but while watching TV is a powerful association.  So, I've either limited the amount of the snack or changed it to a healthier choice.  I am going to back to tracking on The Daily Plate which lets me see the calories, but also the nutritional content.  I can always tell when I've had too many processed food because the sodium goes waaaay up.  It's a great tool if you've never checked it out.  The third factor is exercise.  We run around with the kids and walk to our neighborhood park, but I really don't exercise.  The lack of gym time stressed me out so much that I had to just say "ok, you may not have that luxury until school is over".   After I accepted that, I actually felt a lot better.  Now that the weather is nicer, I anticipate that we will be outside and running around a lot more.

I have ten pounds to go until my ultimate weight goal.  I know I can get there but I'm not going to put a time line on it.  I know that the holidays will involve some indulgences, but getting back in the good eating habit now will make it easier.  I can't promise that I won't cave and have some more of these fried pickles and jalapenos.


I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shots & Rockets

L wasn't able to get a flu shot last year because he was always, always too sick. So, we took advantage of this period of wellness (knock on wood) and got him a shot. I was conflicted about getting it at all, but I'll blog about that another time.

He did great and didn't cry at all! As a treat, M and I took him to a local diner for pie and ice cream.

I got the fried pickles and , but also ended up tasting L's pie. Oops.

Since L has been obsessed with all things NASA (can't imagine where he gets that) we picked up E from daycare and headed to Rocket Park. It's not a park as much as a large building that holds a Saturn V rocket. It's quite impressive and L loves it there.

Each stage is separated so you can see its inner workings, including its balls.

I mean, come on, this thing isn't phallic enough?

Outside there are some smaller rockets and engines to admire.

This was used to perform abort testing during the Apollo era.

It was nice to get some one-on-one time with L. It was a great afternoon!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Anti-Supermom

I don't usually do this, but I would really like you to read this article before you read my post.  It's not too long and totally worth it.

In my dream life I am the "perfect" mother.  By perfect, I mean that I breastfed exclusively for a year, made all of the baby food for my kids, and the weekends are spent in museums with TV watching being a very rare occurrence.  Like I said, in my dream life.  M pointed out the article linked above and when I read it, it really struck a chord in me.   I never imagined that the ideas that have become accepted in motherhood over the last twenty years could be viewed as a burden or even a prison, but if I am honest with myself, I admit that it feels that way, sometimes. 

I don't totally agree with everything that Erica Jong says, and she comes across as being almost as hard lined as the proponents on the other side, but I think she has some very valid points.  It is easy to forget how much motherhood and its ideals are perpetuated by the media.  In this age of social networking, I would say that it is even worse.  If someone makes a comment on twitter that they were uncomfortable seeing someone breastfeed in a restaurant, they are attacked and verbally beaten until bloody.  My question is, why wasn't there a place that the mother could go and quietly feed her child?  Why isn't that the norm in a society that so clearly thinks a good mother = a breastfeeding mother?  We expect mothers to breastfeed, but there is very little support.  Lactation consultants in hospitals are an absolute nightmare of conflicting information and the state laws that require employers to set aside a room for pumping are inconsistent and weak.  So, basically, we are supposed to be comfortable breastfeeding in public, but we are also expected to take the abuse and defend ourselves when people object. 

If you open up a People magazine, there are entire subsections devoted to pregnant celebrities and celebrities with babies.  I'm sure their research tells them that the readers like to see that celebrities are just like them, raising their children.  Really?  Just like opening a Cosmo makes me feel like crash dieting, seeing some perfect looking celebrity mom does not help me, either.  I'm not going to make assumptions about Angelina Jolie or Madonna and say that they are using children as accessories.  Maybe they are, or maybe they just love children.  My issue is with the depiction of it all.  Women shout from the rooftops about the horrible things that supermodels do to our daughter's body images.  How can they put these skinny girls in magazines when it's not realistic?  Shouldn't we also decry the entire spreads that are put in magazines about women losing all of their baby weight in six weeks?  Why aren't there photos of Angelina with pink eye that she caught from her kids, or Giselle with toddler puke all over her?  This fake ideal that is constantly being pushed and that people eat up is a sort of prison.  Just as looking at a fashion magazine makes me feel bad about the size dress I wear, reading an article about  celebrity mom doing it all with no mention of the support she has from nannies and assistants is deplorable.  Getting help is not shameful, but that's the way it is treated.

It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable with my choices as a mother.  I'm not looking for anyone to tell me I am doing a good job or that I should do whatever I want as a mom.  Until I read this article I didn't realize how much of a burden the barrage of do this, do that or you are a sub-par mom was weighing me down.  I think that attachment parenting is great, but it just wasn't a reality for me.  I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, but the reality is that it's extremely tough and not everyone can make it work.   I breastfed my kids for six months until my supply was literally nothing and they got formula for the rest of the time.  I made some of their baby food and fed them plenty of the jarred stuff, too.  If I really need to get something done on the weekends, I turn on Nick Jr.  I never let my babies sleep in bed with us when they were tiny because I just didn't think it was safe.  I hug and kiss them as much as possible and it annoys them sometimes, but that's just too bad.  I miss the kids when I drop them off at daycare, but when L comes home and counts and names the planets, I can't really say that being in daycare is a bad thing for him. 

I think that all moms do a little helicopter parenting and  little hands off parenting.  Sometimes, it's as simple as just reading what your kid needs.  I am lucky because my job doesn't include a long commute, so a mom that  barely gets home in time to tuck the kids in might have different views about all of this, but I do know that some of the things that I am seeing in magazines and on Twitter and Facebook are a little disturbing.  If moms are being victimized by the expectation that there is an ideal mother who can work and carry a baby all day, then we need to start by not victimizing each other.  I'm not always going to agree with the choices that another mom makes for her kids, but I can't possibly know the inner working of their lives.  Is this feminism?  I have no idea.  I have the luxury of not really having to answer that question.  The combination of work and home is my life and it's not really a "choice" as the feminist movement loves to call it.   

I think that this quote from the article sums is up for me:

"We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules."

 What do you think?  I am really interested to hear your thoughts on this article.   If you are a mom-to-be or a mom-in-waiting, I am looking for your input, as well.  As a follow-up, Erica Jong's daughter wrote an article about what kind of mother Erica was and it is worth a read, as well.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fold 'Em

Well, Kenny Rogers was right, and we know that when it comes to potty training L, we should fold 'em. I spent all weekend trying to bribe him with M&Ms and wiping urine off the floor. After an epic meltdown right around bedtime, I decided it wasn't worth the stress to either of us.

I'm actually very ok with this. Being tethered to the house while potty training seems like such a shame when the weather is so nice. We'll try again in a month and see what happens.

The day wasn't all bad, though. The kids helped me make gingerbread and then cleaned up

We even ventured outside, where they ignored all of their toys and played with rocks

I'm so lucky to have those two. They are amazing little people.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


We had a rare night out, just M and me. We talked a lot about an article about motherhood that ran in The Wall Street Journal. I really want to blog about it at a later date. It had some excellent points.

On another note, we started potty training L today. There were a lot of accidents and I feel a little discouraged, but I know we'll get there. I'll be doing a lot of laundry, though. A lot.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 5, 2010

When I Was Your Age......

1979 halloween

As I was completing my paper about the new health care reform, I looked at my resources and groaned. They were all online since the legislation rendered all of my textbooks obsolete, and I couldn't remember how to cite a web page. So, I used google, of course, and came across something called Easy Bib. It helps you to properly format a bibliography and will even keep a list of your sources and put them into a word document. I was stunned and a little ticked off. I mean, how many hours did I spend as an undergrad, looking up the latest MLA or APA formats in the library, in an actual book, in fear that I would be docked grade points for misplacing a period. You can just push a button now?? Humph.

I got my first email address in college through my university in the mid 1990s. I still have the first personal email I ever had, a hotmail account. I thought it was amazing that I could get my email from anywhere! Was it magic?? I also remember my first friend that got a cell phone that wasn't a car phone. It was a pay per minute plan and it was as thick as a large textbook. We thought she was the luckiest, most tech savvy person that we ever met. When I was growing up we lived in a rural area and our olive green dial phone that matched our olive green fridge was on a party line, believe it or not.

It's amazing how we have adapted to so much change. I think about the childhood that L and E will have and it amazes me. They have access to so much information right at their fingertips. They don't have to actually open an encyclopedia to find out information. They can watch almost any program they want on TV with no commercials and at a time of their choosing. They will never know a world without the availability of internet, cable and gps.

It makes me feel old to say it, but sometimes I think all of this information at your fingertips takes the fun out of looking. I know all of these e-readers are really popular, but I like actually opening a book. Asking a local for directions might give you a better route than google maps. Don't get me wrong, I love the instant gratification of modern life, but I'm not so sure it's good for our kids. That doesn't mean I'm ready to give up using my phone to reload my Starbucks card, though.

I'm the sad Holly Hobby in the front.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Current Obsession

 An election clerk totally hassled me for taking a photo of this old fire truck

I feel all twitchy this morning because I left my iPhone on the kitchen counter, but the two of us are usually inseparable.  It has become a lifeline to social media, news, maps, and serves a a great distraction for the kids at the doctor's office.  Recently, I downloaded a free app called Instagram.  It's a way to take photos and apply cool filters to them and then share them with others.  You share them through instagram and you can also upload them to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare.  It's really cool.

The playground looks much cooler

A jar of candy at works seems more interesting
I took two pieces.

Clowns look scarier

Even your kids look cuter!

I guess what I like about it is that it's simply sharing a photo without a long explanation and people who follow your profile can "like" or comment on a photo.  It's like tweeting in a purely photographic format.  If you have an iPhone (it's only available through them right now) I highly, highly recommend this app.  My name is katetheowl, so find me!  We can share some photothoughts.

**this post was not sponsored by anyone**

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

FourSquare - An Uninformed, Unsponsored Review


At first, I thought to myself, why are people always telling me where they are?  Then, how can you be the mayor of  Starbucks?  Ah, Four Square, the app that is part game, part stalking tool.  I initially refused to play because of all of the warnings about being robbed since everyone would know you are at Target and not at home.  Like anything else, though, it's only as dangerous as the amount of information you are willing to share.   I looked around and decided that it would probably be a good thing if I was robbed.  It would save me a lot of cleaning and unpacking.  So, I signed up. 

I like checking in and I've already been made the mayor of my workplace.! (That is actually kind of sad.)  I like seeing what my friends are doing and there's more than a little bit of vicarious living when I check to see who gets to go out on Friday nights.  It's funny how we feel the need to stay in touch every second of every day.  Twitter, Facebook, and Four Square are all ways that we check in and ask for feedback.  I am one of those people that check twitter throughout the day and put my thoughts, happy and sad, for all to see.  If I really stopped to think about it I guess I would have to ask myself what is missing from my real, in-person life that makes me seek feedback so much about every move that I make.   Or, I can go to Target and see if they've made me mayor, yet.