Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Long Weekend

 Dining Car

After the last shuttle flight landed and all of the stress leading up to it, M and I decided to get away for a long weekend.  It was pretty last minute, so we stayed within driving distance and booked my parents to stay with the kids.

We decided on New Braunfels, which is in the San Antonio area and still takes a great bit of pride in its German heritage.  Just to be different, we booked rooms at a cool hotel that was built in 1929.   The rooms were ok.  There was no central air, so each room had a window until.  The bathrooms had not really been updated, but the age of the hotel made that all forgivable for the sake of staying someplace a little more unique.

We went to Gruene, TX (pronounced "green") and had a great dinner and walked by the historic dance hall.

Gruene Hall

 It was relaxing just what we needed!  Later that night, about 12:30am, we were startled by the sound of our adjoining door opening!  We assumed that like most hotels, there was either a double door or the adjoining doors could be locked to prevent the person on the other side from busting in.  Not so.  Let's just say that his little entrance into our room was less than ideal timing, if you get my meaning.  The guy was drunk, came back to his room, and thought it was the bathroom door.  At least that's what he said.  He very quickly closed his door and apologized, of course, but it scared the crap out of us.  Plus, how embarrassing!!  I don't think he really saw anything, but still.

M went down to the front desk and they moved us to another room.  Of course, the window until wasn't on and it took about an hour for the room to cool down enough to get to sleep.  When we went to take a shower, there was a dead cockroach in the tub,  The next morning, we packed out things, made a reservation at the Hampton Inn and went to the front desk to get a full refund.  Of course, the desk clerk did not have the authority to do that, so after a few phone calls, they would only refund us for the night we weren't going to stay in the hotel.  So, I brought out the big guns.  I told the clerk to relay a message to the Manager:  If we don't get a full refund, at 8am on Monday morning, I am going to the BBB, Facebook, Yelp, City Search and Twitter and I am going to write this entire story down, including the hotel's dirty bathrooms and lack of security.

We got a call 10 minutes later from a very apologetic manager offering us our refund and another free night.  We took her up on the refund, but declined the free night.  That's the power of social media, I guess.

Despite the rough night, we had a wonderful Saturday!

We found a little railroad museum

Train Set

Lots of funky antiques

Cowgirl Up

and we even found a little a martini bar that served the best cucumber martinis I have ever tasted!

It was nice to get away, even if we did end up inadvertently putting on a show.  It wouldn't be a good vacation without a good story, right?  Oh, and the Hampton Inn was awesome. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hormones are the Devil

I have really come to hate my hormones.  It was like as soon as I decided I wanted to have children, there they were, mocking me.  Oh, you want to get off of the pill and get pregnant?  Hahahahaha!  Fool!  Now, pull your hair out for six months and have fun with that 52 day cycle.  After I had L, it actually seemed to help things.  It's like the shock of pregnancy evened things out, but that was not meant to last.  After E, my low progesterone screwed my milk supply and when I was finally done with that struggle, I got back on the pill.  I love the pill.  I lost weight and I felt even.  Best of all, I didn't have to face the wonkiness of my hormones.  A few months ago I realized that I couldn't keep taking those things like I was 25.  I'm 35 and it's time to face the facts that I need to do something more permanent that has fever long term health risks.  M is not keen on getting an operation because of this study and I have given up trying to convince him otherwise.  I am still in the information gathering phase, so we'll see where that takes me.

In the meantime, I am determined to win.  I gave birth to two healthy kids, didn't I?  I lost the baby weight both times, didn't I?  Hormones will not get the best of me.  Some days, though, some days it really feels like they will win.  The second I got off of the pill I gained 7 lbs, which is driving me insane.  I can feel the approaching mood swings when I really feel like crying because we are out of my favorite hummus.  I have devised conversations with myself, where the rational Miss K tells the hormonal Miss K, Calm down.  This really isn't worth getting upset about. This is not really you.  I hate it.  I hate feeling like such a cliche! 

So, to the gym I go.  The battle rages on.  I will win!  I will not let this get to me!  I realize that this isn't a big problem in the grand scheme of things, but I guess I felt like I won the battle with my hormones since I have two beautiful children.  Oh, how wrong I was, but it's not over, yet!

Friday, July 8, 2011


I remember watching the first shuttle launch on the news.  I remember my teacher crying when Challenger was lost.   I remember when endeavor made a cross country tour on its way from California to Florida, the cars lined up at the side of Bergstrom AFB where the special shuttle carrying airplane made a stop. I remember meeting my first astronaut. I remember crying with M when we lost Columbia. I remember being deep in the East Texas woods looking for shuttle debris and the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I found a circuit board on top of the the leaves.  Now, I will remember watching the last shuttle launch on a big TV, in a room full of fellow space workers, completely silent.

Everyone is trying to be optimistic, and it's true that we still have ISS until 2020 and there are other projects in the works, but all of this feels like an ending.  It feels like the end of something that really captured everyone's imagination.  It feels that way, I suppose, because we don't really have a plan for what's next.  Not really.  Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space travel will be turned over to commercial ventures, and perhaps it will become commonplace, but I truly believe that human beings have a need to explore beyond that. We owe this to our children and to future generations.  There is so little wonder in the world today, but this is something that still touches even the most accomplished among us.

We all knew this was coming and I am not arguing for a return to the shuttle program, but where are we going now?  Where is our direction?  There is no agreement on a path and no consensus on where human space flight will go from here.  That is what makes people sad.  That is what breaks my heart when L tells me "I want to be an astronaut."  I tell him that he can because I want to believe that we will get back on track.  I hope we do.

Thirty days after landing, thousands of workers will be let go.  They will turn in their badges and try to figure out what to do next.  As you think about what the shuttle program has meant to you, spare a thought for the people who loved it enough to make it their job.  They will retire or move on to new careers, but if you've ever known anyone who has worked for the space program, you know that a piece of their heart will stay there, forever bound to the idea that we must explore and reach beyond our place here on earth.

Godspeed, Atlantis.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Do it yourself

It's that time of the summer when I start to long for a vacation.  It's so hot, much hotter than it normally is at this time, and it sucks the very life out of you.  Even small tasks seem difficult when the humidity is 80% and the heat index is over 100.  Last year, I promised myself we would take a proper vacation, but with the insanity of the last shuttle flight and a possible new contract at work, I'm not sure it's going to happen.  I find that so depressing.  E has been extremely clingy.  I thought it would go away when she felt better after a brief illness, but I am still unable to leave her line of sight without hearing "Mommy! Where are you?"  I love my children dearly, but I would like to use the restroom, or make dinner in peace.  Two demanding toddlers and a life full of responsibilities makes me a little itchy for some sort of break.  We might make it to Illinois in the fall, but even that is uncertain right now.   My only escape has been reading.

When I was a child we lived on an acreage and really didn't have neighbor's, and the neighbors we did have didn't have kids my age.  When most kids were running next door to play with friends, I was reading a book.  It was a habit brought on by boredom and a need to escape the tension in the house brought on by my mother's eating disorder and depression.  I completely escaped into books and became obsessed with the stories and the characters.  I wanted to be in the books.  If I was more talented, I probably could have written one, but I have settled for being a happy consumer.  I love that obsession.  I love thinking about how the author came up with the idea behind a book, and I wonder about the characters after the book ends.  (What happens to Johanna Mason??)

As I wrote in a previous post, I can't believe I ever left reading behind.  I'm glad it's back.  I really enjoy writing my reviews, although I might be the only one who reads them. If I can't go somewhere, at least I can spend my evenings reading.  Of course, that might explain how messy my house looks at the moment.

Are you on Goodreads?  It's an excellent way to keep track of the books you want to read. Let's connect here.

I just read a really good, but kind of spooky book called Dismantled.  My review is here.

**I took the above photo at Ikea. The title means "Do It Yourself".  My other favorite Ikea book title is "Married to a Communist". 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two Years

The last two years have been a whirlwind.  I look at E now and I see a little girl, walking, talking and interacting with the world around her.  In some ways, time has crawled, but when I see her playing with friends or laughing with her brother, it seems like time has raced by, never looking back.

I make mental notes to myself all the time of books and experiences that I want to make sure E has and things that I want to share with her.  I want so much for her to have the confidence that was so difficult for me to develop.  I want her to have the support system to propel her into life, full speed ahead.  Having a daughter is such a scary thing these days.  I see older children and teens doing idiotic things and exposing themselves to such dangers that I wish I could keep E in her crib forever, safe in her comfy cage until I lift her out.  That isn't the way it works, and even now I see the independent and stubborn streak that frustrates me and gives me hope that this is a girl that knows her own mind.

She is my smart, strong and beautiful girl.  I am so glad that she's ours.  Happy Birthday, E.  I love you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dark Days

Keeper of the Seagulls

I just finished reading The Hunger Games series and as my husband and I were joking about those first few months after E was born, The Dark Days came to mind.  There was no nuclear war or widespread annihilation of a population, but those first several months with a toddler and a newborn were tough.  Ok, they were pretty awful.  My heart trouble, our cramped and tiny house, and L being too young to really understand that this baby was here to stay all created a situation that still gives me a touch of the PTSD, to be honest.  We moved, sold our old house and were down to one car.  I love my children more every day, but I never want to go back to the way I felt then.  I was tired and overwhelmed and even though I wasn't, I felt alone.

It's almost two years later, and we have survived, just as everyone said we would.  We found a bigger house, E started sleeping through the night, L got used to his sister and his new bed.  Things are certainly still hectic, but I just feel like I am dealing with it better than I was.  It's like we're just on the edge of finally feeling like we might actually have it together.  I only have 3 classes left in grad school, I finally got a promotion at work, and the kids are thriving. We still have a mountain of boxes to go through, but it's a smaller mountain than it was.  That overwhelmed feeling is still there, but not as often.

One thing that I have slowly started to get back, is myself.  I don't know why, but it occurred to me the other day that the last 6 years have changed me beyond anything I ever thought possible.  Marriage, career, and kids:  those three things have molded me into someone who is completely different than the music teacher that wrote lesson plans every night and never missed happy hour.  Some of that is good.  Most of the changes are positive, but I find myself missing other things.  When the Spring semester ended, I picked up my nook and read a non-school book for the first time in years.  Yes, years.  I can't believe I ever stopped.  I immediately fell into my old habits of staying up until midnight telling myself, just one more chapter, over and over again.  I joined Good Reads and I think I've read about six books in the break between semesters.  It feels so good to have something in my brain besides schedules, meals plans, and HR related topics. My friend Maura also pointed out that it's important for the kids to see me reading.  Of course, they really see me staring at what must look like a giant iPhone to them, but by the time they are teenagers, I'm sure my nook will evoke laughter similar to what the 1990s giant cell phones do now.

My next wish was to join a book club, but I know that to have one would mean that I would have to do all of the work.  I learned the hard way through the parents group I started that people are more than willing to show up and less willing to make an effort to keep something going.  That's ok, though, because most of the people that I would like to talk to about books are online!  I decided to start up the old book blog again and use it as a place to write about the books I read and give people a chance to give me their thoughts.  Maybe no one will read it, but at least I have a way to write about books that I truly love.  The first thing I want to do when I finish a book is discuss it with someone, but L and E have very little interest in dissecting character motivation.

My first post is about The Help.  Please visit it you've read it, or even if you haven't, because I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Between Here and There


I feel like I've been in purgatory for the past few years.  I live in this in-between place working to finish school, waiting for funding to stabilize so I can have a promotion, and wishing my life was less hectic.  This semester has been the hardest, so far.  Two classes with one being very high maintenance.  (That's code for "the professor is a dick.")  Combine that with a very, very busy April and I am down to my last weekend with a 30 page paper to write and two days in which to finish it.  M is taking the kids to my mom and dad's and I will  stay at home and write a very mediocre paper. 

I know the finish line is within sight.  I know that this time next year, I will be finishing my last course and walking away with a Master's in HR, but I am so tired and missing some of the confidence that I had when I started.  It was so much easier when I was in high school or even an undergrad.  There were cheerleaders everywhere; parents, classmates, and teachers were all available to tell me I was smart and that I could do it.  Now?  Now I'm a mom, I work full time, and I am expected to have the inner fortitude to man-up and get it done.  Grad school is an every-man-for-himself kind of place.  Everyone works and everyone has a completely separate life outside of school.  There are no cheerleaders, just professors that sort of care, but mostly they would like you to shut-up and just do the work.

People always say to me, "I don't know how you do it."  I'm not sure that I'm really doing a very good job at work, home, or school.  If you are willing to do everything kind of half-assed, you can appear to do whatever you want!  My only other choice is to walk away, and I am way too close to being finished to really do that, although I fantasize about quitting school almost every day.  I am ready to have my life back.  I am ready to read books that aren't about employment law and dedicate more time to the Foundation.  I miss my friends, online and IRL, and I am ready to stop feeling like I have been a terrible friend to many people that I care about.  I am ready to just be a working mom instead of a working mom in school who must be crazy to do all of this.

If this really is my purgatory then I can only hold out hope that all of this torment will lead to heaven on the other side.  A heaven with a promotion and time to spend with my family on the weekends.  And wine.  Heaven must have wine.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Act of Kindness Friday: Easter Lily

The previous owners of our house were the original owners. When we bought it, it was obvious that no updates had been made since 1992 when the house was built. We replaced flooring, paint, stripped wallpaper, the whole nine yards. It left me grumbling about how someone could live in a house that long and never even replace a faucet, especially when they were trying to sell!

A few months after we moved in, I was in the back yard and I realized that while the inside needed work, the outside had banana plants, a huge mint patch, and a few rose bushes.  Not too bad, really. Among the mint I noticed a strange looking plant. It was kind of spiky and unfriendly looking.  When I examined it a little closer, I realized it was an Easter Lily that hadn't bloomed, yet! There were actually two of them. Whoever the family was, they left behind a little bit of beauty that comes up every spring to remind me that good things can come from spiky situations. I can't wait for it to bloom this year.

Easter Lily

Friday, April 1, 2011

Act of Kindness Friday: Pocket Ninja

Life has been overwhelming, lately.  I've been struggling to keep my head above water with school and work and family.  There have been lots of mini-meltdowns, and it's not the kids doing the crying.  When I was trying to get pregnant and that first anniversary came and went, I had that same feeling of being overwhelmed.  Even some of my closest friends didn't understand and I felt very alone.  Being a part of the Braces Bunch gave me sympathetic, non-judgmental shoulders to cry on and I will always be grateful for that.  I have met so many wonderful people through this group and I count them as good friends.  Just a few days ago, I got a little package in the mail from fellow buncher, Suzy.  In it was this little guy.

Pocket Ninja

He's my pocket ninja and I keep him in my purse at all times.  He arrived just when I needed a reminder that there are people who care and are with me in spirit.  Thanks, Suzy, it means so much to me. 

Would you like to join in? Write about an act of kindness!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Act of Kindness Friday: Three Years

Three years ago a woman that I did not know passed away before she could hold her baby girl.  A few months later, I stumbled across her husband's blog while I was home on maternity leave with L.  That little girl and L were only one month apart and I was touched by her husband's grief and willingness to share his sadness, joy, and apprehension about the future.

Through Matt's blog, a group of strangers friends connected to help him get through that first year.  We made sure he had cards on his birthday, on father's day, and support on the first anniversary of Liz's death.  Matt then decided to take that kindness and turn it into something that could help others.  The Liz Logelin Foundation is still new, but it's growing every day and helps many people cope with the loss of a life partner.  The stories are amazing and the inner strength of the applicants never ceases to amaze me.  On a personal note, the people that I have met through my work with the Foundation have become some of my closest friends and I cannot imagine my life without them.

It's not often that you see kindness blossom and turn into something this big, but I know that where there are people who care, there will always be hope.  Seeing how a group of people came together and helped someone they didn't know showed me the power for good that the internet could become.  I am so glad that I am a part of it.

Matt has written a book that is coming out next month.  A portion of the proceeds will go directly to The Liz Logelin Foundation.  It is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Would you like to join in? Write about an act of kindness!

Monday, March 21, 2011

All of the Little Things


It wasn't long after we had L that people were asking "when will you have another?"  When we had E people backed off because when you have kids 16 months apart people tend to leave you alone due to the crazy, sleep deprived look in your eyes.  Our grace period appears to be over, however, and now a few people have asked about having a third.  Three is a popular number for kids these days, and it seems that many of our friends have three. It seems so surreal to even examine this question because, in some ways, it seems like we just had our first.  It seems almost selfish to ponder considering how lucky we are to have two. I haven't forgotten the stress of that first year, either.  My answer is always that we're done.  We have one of each, they are healthy and happy, and we're done.  My heart freaked out (that's the technical term) after I had E, so we're done. I would need a lot of monitoring and progesterone support, so we're done.  M is ten years older than I am and won't be able to retire if we have a third, so we're done.  We can't afford it, so we're done.

Those are all good reasons, right?  I know that they are, but when I sat in my OB's office last week for my annual exam, the question about more kids was brought up once again.  I told her I really thought we were done.  She looked at me for a second and said,

I just don't feel like you believe that, yet.

I was a little taken aback.  I hadn't really examined my feelings about being done with having kids because of the logical reasons behind it.  She was right.  I can't believe it, but she was right.  I do think about having another baby.  I think about being able to finally do the things I wanted to with L and E - a VBAC, more nursing, less stress about buying a house, and more time to really enjoy that brief period when they are so little.  Do I just want a second chance to appreciate all of the little things that are already gone? Is that a good reason to want a third child?

All of the emotional reasons aside, the real obstacle is money.  I think that M would be open to having a third.  I think the kids would love to have a little brother or sister, but the reality of paying for three college tuitions and daycare and preschool and schedules.......  It means that one of us would have to get a really big promotion or we'd have to win the lottery. So, here I am with this little tingle in my heart for just one more.  I'm not really sure what to do with it or if it will ever go away, but it's there.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Act of Kindness Friday: Spring Break

When I left teaching, I also left behind the holidays that went along with it.  It was a tough transition, at first.  It seemed so odd to be working all year long.  It's been almst six years since I was last in the calssroom, soI've gotten used to it now.  I've learned to enjoy the small breaks that I get here and there.  My  mom works for a school, so she decided to come and visit us for a few days while she was on Spring Break.  The kids adore "Nana", so it was win-win.  We usually take turns and have her stay home with one kid at a time so that they each get a day with Nana.

The other great thing about having her here is getting to go OUT.  M and I went out every night she was in town and it was so nice.  It was nice to have help in the evenings and in the morning.  It was nice to have someone to help make dinners, fold laundry, and change diapers.  I know that the chores we do everyday aren't the fun part of having grandkids, so I am very grateful for the kindness that my mom bestowed upon us by helping us this week.  I feel like I got a spring break, too, and it made all the difference.

I can't believe you people

Have you seen kindness this week?  Please blog about it and join our project by using Mr. Linky at the bottom.  Suzy and I would love to hear about your acts of kindness!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Act of Kindness Friday - Just Plain Sick

A wave of sickness has been going through my office.  First my boss, then one of the assistants.  One had stomach flu, the other a bad case of bronchitis.  To top it off, L is sick again, as well.  Since I still have my immune system of steel from my years as a teacher ::knock on wood:: I have somehow managed to avoid the sick.  When I came to work on Tuesday I had two messages telling me that I would be the only person in HR that day.  To top it off, my co-worker was supposed to be organizing an awards ceremony.  She called in a panic asking me to reschedule and worrying about her job.  I told her I would take care of it.

I guess the act of covering for a sick co-worker is kind, but really, it is about all of the kindness that people showed me when we went through our terrible winter last year.  The kids were sick one after the other and M couldn't take off from work because of a contract re-bid, so I was the sick nurse.  I remember breaking down after the second ear infection/fever in a four week period and really thinking that I was going to get fired or passed up for that promotion.  However, my co-workers were kind and understanding and they put me at ease.  It may have seemed like a small thing to them, but it meant a lot to me.

Pretty much everyone that supports the space program is worried about their job right now.  I can see it in the faces of our engineers and the administrative staff.  Getting sick can make everything worse.  When I heard my co-workers voice on the phone, I remembered how I felt and, really, how could I not help ease her mind a little? Kindness breeds more kindness, whether it's the next day or the next year.

Have you seen kindness this week?  Please blog about it and join our project by using Mr. Linky at the bottom.  Suzy and I would love to hear about your acts of kindness!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Acts of Kindness

Today is Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, depending on where you live, which means that tomorrow is the beginning of the Lenten season.  When I was growing up, I always thought that Lent was only a Catholic thing, but I soon found about that many different branches of Christianity practice it in one form or another.  It is viewed as a time of reflection and sacrifice.  The flowers and decorations are taken down, the holy water is removed and the music becomes minor.  I have observed Lent for many years, always giving something up like fries or soda, but in the last few years I have tried to make it more meaningful by putting something into practice, as well.

Lately on Twitter I have seen several people talk about receiving acts of kindness from strangers, mostly in the form of free coffee at a drive through.  As much as I complain and lament about the difficulties of working full time, being in grad school, and having 2 small children, I know that for every inconvenience I have a gift or a blessing.  So, I will be giving up chips and crackers for lent (that's gonna hurt) but I have also teamed up with the wonderful Suzy to post about Act of Kindness Friday.

Every Friday the participants will post about acts of kindness that they participated in, received or observed.  They can be big things or little things.  The point is to help you notice that kindness really is all around you if you take a moment to notice.  While Lent is a Christian observance, I think that kindness is a universal concept, so there is no belief requirement to join in.  I would love to see everyone's experiences, whatever you do or don't believe.

So, how about it?  Could you use a little kindness in your life?

Join in and sign up on Mr. Linky so we can all visit each other.  Feel free to spread the word, too!  To get the button you can grab it on my sidebar or go and visit Suzy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

February Update


Oh, February, you kicked my ass.

It was a month of fun things and not so fun things.  We had the Superbowl and L's birthday, which were very fun.  In the other category, we had potty training and both kids being sick.  The thing I struggled with the most was food.  I rejoined Weight Watchers and am having a hard time adjusting to the new Points Plus system.  I know that I can go back to the old way, but I want to try to make this work.  I still don't like it, but I am going to keep trying.  I bought a new scale because the old one gave out, and the new scale added 2 lbs to my weight.  I went back anc changed my weigh-in weights so it measures correctly, but seeing that higher number didn't do much for the old ego.  I also saw a photo of myself that was taken at L's birthday party and it was not good.  So, I am going to recommit to eating healthy and really try to identify my bad snacking patterns, which is what gets me every time.  So, as of the last weigh-in I have 12 lbs to lose.  Yuck.

My other big goal is to be more patient.  I find that my level of patience is directly related to the level of stress I feel.  I know that the stress won't be leaving anytime soon, so I really want to try be better at taking a breath and not letting everything get to me.  This will be a big challenge.

I wrote about my frustration cycle yesterday and I am looking forward to the upside of the cycle which should be coming SOON.

My Goals for March:
Start C25K again - didn't quite get to that last month
Clean out my closet
Track everything I eat
Make my annual physical appointment for April (Well Woman is in March)
Post to my Tumblr blog at least four times
Be more patient

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Frustration Cycle

Rocket From the Back

L got rotavirus.  Somewhere in his infancy I must have flaked or been too tired and scheduled his check up too late and he missed a vaccine.  Let me tell you, I wish I could go back and get that shot because this is not fun.  There was no fever or throwing up, just lots and lots of poop.  It has totally set us back in potty training. He has a terrible rash and is asking for diapers.  Not good.  Even before that he was still having one accident per day. His friends are transitioning to the next classroom, but he can't join them until he gets potty training down.  I'm so frustrated with the situation and I feel so badly for him.  The doctor gave us some prescription probiotics, so I am hopeful that they will work.  If I had known that probiotics came in prescription strength, I would have asked for them a long time ago because this virus has taken over our life and I am tired of thinking about poop.

I have a theory that everyone's life goes in cycles of frustration.  There are times when we are chugging along, making progress, and generally having a good time.  Then, there are the other times.  There are the times like the last few weeks, when everything is a struggle.  Everyone is in a bad mood, doesn't feel well, and is generally not happy.  I know this is normal and is expected when you are raising toddlers, but what I struggle with is the feeling that I hit a wall and that all of a sudden nothing works.

I just need to keep going.  What else is there to do?  The hard part is not to compare your frustration cycles with others.  When someone is on the upside of their cycle and planning a vacation that does not involve seeing a relative when you know that you're not going get a real vacation for years, it's hard not to compare.  When you are still living with tons of boxes, your oven is broken, and your dishwasher can't be used due to plumbing issues, it's hard not to look wistfully and someone else's neat, fully functioning house, and compare.

The really hard part is accepting that life isn't like Parenthood.  Wouldn't it be nice to live in a beautiful college town in Northern California with tons of family around to support you and problems that seem to either resolve themselves or at least take a break after an hour?  Wouldn't it be nice to look pretty when you cry and have witty, rapid conversations with your spouse while cooking a big meal in a gourmet kitchen?  Yes, it would. Instead I hear M's voice yelling "HELP!" from the bathroom and then I wish I had a bio-hazard suit to take the underwear that L just soiled out of the house.

The good thing about the cycle is that it has to come around to the upside eventually.  I just hope that the cycle moves quickly because I'm running out of hand sanitizer, bleach and patience with the universe.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Three Years

 iChat 25w5d

Here we are at three years.  When L's birthday comes around, I don't really think much about the day of  his birth.  It was a c-section, so the whole thing was precise and right on schedule.  There was no screaming or pushing, just a tugging feeling and then a very, very loud cry followed by a lot of joy.  I tend to think more about how much he has changed and grown in the last year.


His stubborn streak (M blames me and I blame M's Polish heritage) is shining through, but so is his empathy and sense of humor.  He loves his sister and although they drive each other crazy at times, he always asks about her if she is not around.  He loves dinosaurs and all things NASA, of course. His best friend is still Daddy, with E running a close second.


As hard as it is to raise a toddler and deal with all of the things that go along with it, like potty training and socializing, I know that this is a simple time.  The world is still full of absolutes:  good and bad, nice and mean, yes and no.  There is no gray area, yet, and I try to remind myself that there will be a day when I won't know where he is at all times and I won't be able to check on him every night before I go to sleep.  This birthday seems more bittersweet to me.  His increased independence means more freedom for the whole family, but it also means that we're traveling farther away from that little chunky baby that felt so good in my arms. There is no stopping time, so we try to enjoy this stage with all of the ups and downs included.

He is a wonderful and amazing little boy and I am so lucky to be his mom.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Show & Tell: The Ice Storm Cometh


I live in Houston.  That is to say, I live in the little strip of Houston that is only 30 minutes from Galveston and right next to the Space Center.  So, when cold weather gets all the way down here it's pretty rare.  Even more rare is freezing precipitation.  All week there were dire warnings about snow and thick ice and WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.  While the rest of the country dug out from legitimate storms, we woke up to nothing but a little ice.  The Space Center is closed and so is daycare.  I went in a little late since I work just off site, but M is home with both kids. To top it all off, we've got L in underwear.  That will be a whole other blog post, I'm sure.  So, my show and tell is photos of our little piece of the storm that swept across the country.

Icy Chair

Icy Chair

Very angry Jalapenos.

Icy Peppers

 Gutter Pipe

Gutter Pipe

E wondering what the hell I am doing outside when it's so cold.


You can join in or see more show and tells here!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Update


Is it me, or did January go by very quickly?  The month was a whirlwind of recovering from the holidays, job changes for M and starting school again.  I think the only goal I kept was to start a 365 blog for the kids.  It's been going very well and I haven't missed a day, yet!  My family seems to like it and I can't wait to see what it looks like at the end of the year.

School started again for me.  This is my last year and I cannot wait to be done and have my life back.  I have been better about insisting on uninterrupted time during the weekend to study.  M agreed to keep the kids away while I am working and it's going well, so far.  On the weight loss front, I rejoined Weight Watchers and the new plan is interesting.  I have lost a few pounds, but my plan is to start Couch to 5K again to help things along.

Then there's work. We were very disappointed when M's company lost its contract. He has already started with the new company and we're feeling the pinch with much higher health care costs and an overall reduced benefit package.  There's nothing that we can do about it, though, so we'll just have to move forward the best we can.  My workplace is feeling the pinch, as well.  We had a layoff last week and my department narrowly missed getting cut.  We're hearing negative reports about the new budget for the space program, so things could get worse.  I am really scared about the future.  I am looking for another job, just in case.

So, some good, some bad.  I hope that for February I can start running again, keep up the 365 blog and visit the doctor for all of my annual exams.  With Superbowl, L's birthday, and Valentine's Day it should be a fun month!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Taking a Break

Ok, fine.  Not only am I going to post about potty training, I am going to post about how potty training has totally kicked my ass.  L will be 3 in less than a month and it's time to try this again.  We made one very unsuccessful attempt in November and L just wasn't getting it.  So, after talking to a few people, I decided to pull back and try again later.  L uses the toilet at school when he gets his diaper changed and he uses it at home every night before bath and less frequently in between, but we haven;t put him in underwear since November.  Last weekend he told me "I want to wear underwear".  I was surprised, and since it was bedtime I talked him out of it, but I know that was the sign I was looking for.  Maybe.

I feel totally overwhelmed by all of it.  The problem is, since we both work, the weekends are the only time that we have to get anything done.  If I am at home with L, it becomes really hard to catch up again.  I realize this sounds really selfish and lazy, but there you have it.  I am dreading this whole process.  I also had to talk with M about really being around to help this time, too.  If I'm stuck at home, we're all stuck at home.  I need someone to keep E from following us into the bathroom and bothering L.

I have formulated a plan and I would like to share it with you.  Maybe that will help me stick to it.

This weekend - put L on the toilet for every diaper change, lots of praise for any results.  Talk a lot about being a big boy and wearing underwear.  Let him pick out some underwear at Target.

Next weekend - I am taking Friday off and keeping Luke at home.  We'll watch movies and I am going to give him lots of stuff he doesn't normally get that might encourage peeing, like popcorn, juice, maybe even some Sprite!  I'll let him set the timer, pick out his underwear, and try to make it as fun as possible.  This will give us a jump start to the weekend and allow me to concentrate on L rather than trying to juggle everything else.

I've looked at potty watches, but the only one I found got terrible reviews for breaking after two weeks.  I might buy a fun timer to use instead.  Maybe one shaped like a chicken or something?  I am writing this partly because I need to get it done and it creates some accountability, but I also need some encouragement and/or advice.  Anything you have ever heard or experienced, whether you have kids or not, is something I would love to hear.  This has to work eventually, right?  RIGHT?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friends Are Friends Forever


In my 20s I had many, many friends.  We took care of each other, we were involved in each others lives, relationships, jobs, etc..  There was always something to do on the weekends.  Oh, the fun we used to have.  Then, I married M and we didn't go out as much and the circle got a little smaller, which was ok..  Then, I had L and was wrapped up in my baby boy, so the circle got a little smaller still.  After E was born, I'm not sure there were even enough people to make a circle. It was a combination of my old group of friends still being single and not relating to my new life, and having no time to be the one to reach out.  The problem with adult friendships, as I see it, is that there has to be a equality of communication.  It can't be one person's job to always be the one to initiate phone calls, emails, and lunches.  I think more than anything else, that is what makes finding a friend as a married adult with kids so difficult.

Over the last two or three years my new friends have been found online, for the most part.  It started out when we tried to get pregnant and I felt like I had no support and no one to talk to about my fear of infertility.  Starting my first blog made me feel so much better and so supported by a community of people that felt the same way.  My involvement with the LLF has added many friends that I first met virtually and then in person.  There have been many days when I wished I was geographically closer.  Many journalists have written about it and I am here to say it's true - social media is a savior for a busy woman.  Sometimes, though, I think that it might also be a bit of a crutch.  There is always this base fear that you aren't worthy of friends or that people won't like you.  It starts in school and no matter how much you think you're over it, it's still there, hiding. Being rejected virtually is much easier than leaving a phone message that isn't returned.

For a while I organized a parents night out.  I planned dinners, called restaurants, sent emails, and made sure everyone felt included.  When I became pregnant with E and had some pretty nasty morning sickness, I asked if someone else would like to take over. Despite the fact that turnout was always pretty good, not one person volunteered or seemed to care that the dinners stopped.  It was a real eye opener to me.  I was really hurt and never tried to resurrect the group. I realized that just having a large number of friends, as I did in my 20s, wasn't as important as having friends that I could really count on.

I don't mean it to sounds like I am friendless.  I have some wonderful friends, although a few of my very close friends have moved away.  They are busy with work and want to spend as much time with their kids as possible, as they should.  Spending time with L and E will always be my priority, but when it's 8pm and the house is quiet, I wonder if maybe I should just embrace my loner status and go out by myself.  Getting out of the house for the sake of getting out has its value, but it doesn't really solve my desire for adult female friendships. I have a wonderful family and I am not alone, but there is a part of me that feels a little lonely, if that makes sense.

I need to figure out a way to feel comfortable with reaching out.  I tend to avoid workplace friendships since working in HR can make things messy, and it's hard to strike up a conversation at daycare when everyone is rushing to get to work, but it's clear that I need to try harder.  Work and motherhood can make for an isolated life, but I don't think it has to be that way.  Does it?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Keeping Up

Tick Tock

I really want to be a better historian for our family.  I want to scrapbook and digital scrapbook and put together photo albums and generally preserve every moment.  I'm just not that person, though.  I have yet to do baby books for the kids and we couldn't get our shit together enough to send out most of our Christmas cards this year (sorry).  I had to take a hard look at what I really need to concentrate on right now, which is school, and just make peace with the fact that things will be pushed aside until that is done.   The bad part is, this time is taking place when I should be enjoying the kids.  Ever since E was born I have become hyper-aware of how quickly this time is slipping through my fingers, and I try desperately to record it in some way. The toddler years bring changes daily and I always feel like I struggle to keep up.  Thanks to blogging and Flickr I can go back and piece together events enough for a baby book or album. My friend Maura got me a One Line a Day book, which I really love.  The 365 blog I started for the kids is another way I plan to chronicle this time, but it's hard.

L will be three next month, which is probably why the rapid passage of time has been on my mind so much.  I came across some photos of him as a baby and it seems like it was so long ago. I remember holding him and just staring for hours. I had a baby!  I also remember having sobbing break downs at 2am when breastfeeding was going really badly. I felt so alone.  I wish I could have reached out more to lessen the stress.  I know I missed out on some really special moments because I felt so overwhelmed.

For the past few days I have been thinking about the parents of the little girl who was shot in Arizona.  I think about how her father's job as a MLB scout must have taken him out of town a lot.  I think about how he must wish he had those lost moments back.  Obviously, you can't live your life expecting the worst to happen.  You need a job and a way to support your family, but when the kids spend more time in daycare than with you, it makes you wonder if there might be a better way. There must be a way to find balance and a way to handle everyday stress and not let it overshadow what's going on in front of you.  The truth is, the biggest obstacle to really living your life is life itself.  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Every Penny

We try to live very frugally so that if an emergency arises we aren't put in a bad financial situation.  I was never very good with money, so when I first married M I was introduced to some basic but important ideas about saving and debt.  When we bought a new house last year we used a lot of our rainy day fund to make some needed remodels and changes so that it would be a healthier and cleaner environment for the kids. New flooring and some repairs in and around the place added up. On top of that, we paid two mortgages while we were getting ready to sell our old house, so it was a year of expenses.  Of course, just when you think that you can get a handle on things, the oven breaks.  (No, really, our oven broke.)  Property taxes are due, we found out last night that our medical insurance costs will be going up almost $300 per month, and we need a new garbage disposal along with some plumbing work.  When it rains it pours, right?  When I think of it all it overwhelms me.  Since we send our kids to Montessori school our childcare expenses are high, too.  That's not a complaint, just a fact, and we gladly pay it because we feel that they are really thriving in that environment.  However, that takes up a good chunk of my salary, so I have to be creative with money.

I am in no way trying to compare us to people that truly struggle. We have plenty of food and never worry that we won't be able to pay the water bill, but when we have months that are tight financially, I have to wonder of we just have a lot of waste in our life.  I throw away too much food. We aren't organized so I end up buying something that we already have.  Do the kids really need more clothes?  (The answer is NO).  Getting organized and budgeting resources as well as money is something that we will have to do to make real headway. We have all of the expenses that I mentioned, but we would also like the freedom to get a new TV or take the kids to Sea World one weekend. So, I am going to concentrate on organizing and reducing waste in January and February.

Here are some of my ideas:

Strict meal planning - no getting lazy and ordering out
Sort through toys - Some of our toys can be put into the garage sale box
Starbucks habit - I really need to cut down on my visits. I'm thinking of reducing it to once a day on weekends only.
No more clothes for the kids unless it is an urgent need - they have so many clothes.
Organize the pantry - I know I could make meals out of there for a week, but it's too messy for me to see everything we have

We'll see how this works.  I would love to hear any more ideas if you have them.  I am hoping that baby steps become big steps as the year progresses.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Plan for 2011

Last year I realized that the frantic life I was leading wasn't working for me and I needed a way to get it back in order.  So, I asked friends on line and in "real" life if they would like to join me.  A group of us set goals and connected on Twitter and in the blogosphere to try to support each other and share our experiences.  As the year progressed it became harder to post the updates, but I know that several of the people in the group, like myself, kept their goals in mind throughout the year.

2010 was hectic and crazy, but I can't say that I feel as stressed out as I did at this time last year.  Looking back at my goals, I see that some of them weren't accomplished at all, some were, and the others just didn't matter as much as I thought they would.  I am going to do this again and try to keep up with the updates since it helped to keep me honest even if no one else read them.

Here is how it works:
You come up with goals, ideas, suggestions for yourself and write them down.  Some people make lists, some put them into categories, like Health or Work.  You post your goals on your own blog, The Plan blog, or both.  Every month or so you update on how you are doing and feeling, what has happened as it relates to the goals.  These aren't resolutions and no one is going to point and laugh if they don' happen.  You can even change them as your circumstances may change.  The only person yo are accountable to is yourself.  In addition to The Plan blog, there is a recipe blog where we share recipes and meal ideas.  It has some really good stuff and you will be able to post there, as well.

We are all busy and this might seem like a daunting task, but if you feel like you could use a push, some encouragement, or a community that supports you day and night, I hope you will join.  We're all just trying to make things little easier and more enjoyable for ourselves and the people in our lives.  Some of us have kids, some don't. We are all in different places emotionally, financially, politically, and that's what I loved about it.  If you are interested leave a comment or let me know on Twitter (button is on the right) and let's connect.

So, to serve as an example, here are my goals for 2011:

 - Take vitamins and keep taking them!
 - Lose 10 lbs and keep it off
 - Be more active
 - Yoga, yoga, yoga and include the kids
 - Eat less processed food
 - Go to the dentist

Family Life
- Find new meals for meal planning
- Stick to the grocery list
- Put more money into savings
- Feed my family less processed foods
- Do more Montessori activities with the kids
- Watch less daytime TV on the weekends
- Unpack the last of the boxes
- Put some art on the walls
- Have at least one garage sale
- Get rid of more stuff

- Be more patient with people, especially M and the kids
- Be more forgiving of myself and others
- Read more non-school books
- Plan out weekends so that every one's needs are met and no one gets upset
- Communicate what kind of help I need (time, housework, etc..) more clearly to M
- Post on my Tumblr blog more often

One more thing that I am excited about is my 365 blog. I thought it would be a really cool thing to take a photo of the kids every day and post it.  At the end of the year, I can make it into a book.  I am usually taking photos of them, anyway, so this seemed like a good way put the photos to good use.

You can check it out here.

So, if you were already thinking about making some changes, join us!   2011 is going to be a great year.