Friday, May 29, 2009

because my sister is awesome....

My sister Anne makes, in my opinion, way cool tea pots, vases, etc. They're whimsical and fun and beautiful. She just put up a web-site so here's a plug.

And my cousin, Becky, designed the web-site.

All my other sisters, Colleen, Molly, and Helen are also awesome. :)


Since, I've been especially whiney on my blog of late, here's a non-whine post. I finished Eric's socks and they turned out quite nice. I love wearing hand-knit socks and so does Eric, but they're not my favorite thing to knit in the world. But I was determined to finish these. And I'll have to continue to be determined if I want to wear hand-knit socks in the future. :)

These are the Caesar Check Socks from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks book. I used Knitpicks Essential Navy and Blue/Brown twist. The color contrast isn't super striking but I think it's nice for a man's sock. And Eric brought them on his trip with him to wear so that is a good sign that they will be enjoyed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

poop on the floor continued

Guess what... Gemma can take the special nap time diapers off by herself... She wasn't supposed to be able to do this. This means the poop on the floor problem is still a problem. And I know Gemma is stressed about it because little-miss-regular-poops-at-least-once-a-day is going every other day. Sigh.... So far potty training is not very high up there on my favorite parenting tasks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

more poop on the floor

And this time she stepped in it. Oy! I don't know why I neglected to put her "nap-time diaper" on. The nap-time diapers are cloth diapers with snaps that Gemma can't undo on loan from Sarah, a friend. I had some crazy thought that she would call me when she needed to poop or call me when she pooped in her diaper. Silly me! She pooped in her diaper, took her diaper off, poop rolled on floor and then she stepped in it, though I don't know the exact timing of these events. So she finally started crying because she had poop on her foot. I guess I can be thankful that she didn't walk around her room with poop on her foot. I guess?

I think everybody in this family woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning. I haven't been able to complete one single task today without somebody crying, fighting, needing something RIGHT NOW, whining, fussing, arguing, making inappropriate jokes. I haven't helped matters because my patience has been zilch, my temper short, and frustration level high.

Thanks for listening. Sorry to vent. Oh, and there is Oona crying yet again. Poor girl, she is teething. Wish I could have a chocolate martini and watch a dumb movie. Alas, Eric has class. I'm doing bath time by myself and then I'll collapse into bed and pray the boys survive until their Dad gets home to supervise.

Tomorrow is another day and thank goodness for that!

Over and out.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I excel at pity parties...

Yesterday I was thrown into a full blown pity party for one, the kind where I miss "me," the pre-baby/kid me that had time to relax, was skinny (though I didn't think so) and had a clean and controlled apartment (I was the only one making a mess.) This was all triggered by the enormity of work needed to be done around the house and frustrations with that (like a toilet with broken innards) and by my waist and hip measurements being more than my self-image allowed for. With our house, I usually keep blinders on and I just ignore a lot of what needs to be done. With Eric home more during the summer, I try to get more done because the babies can hang out with him while I do things like scrub the sink or tub or organize something (or write a blog entry.) Our house was a rental before we moved in and has been neglected for a very long time. We chip away at it but... So that makes me wish for the controlled environment of my little apartment with only me making a mess. I could clean and it would stay clean. And if it got messy again, there was nobody else but me to blame. On to reason number two for self-pity party, I had a sewing lesson with my friend Meghan yesterday and measured my waist and hips to see what size I needed to make. I'm making myself a very lovely skirt and hope it turns out as lovely as I picture it in my head. I used to be anorexic and less than a hundred pounds back in college days. I know in my head that I'm not fat in the least but I get caught in the "I know I'm not fat but I'm fatter than I want to be" trap and can very easily fall into not wanting to eat so that I can be skinnier - something I watch and guard against. So seeing my waist and hip measurements being more than several inches bigger than they used to be and seeing the number 20 for my size (even though I know that sewing pattern sizes are way different than store bought clothing sizes) just made me fall into the old trap of negative body image and eating disorder crapola. So I sit and writhe and squirm in self-pity and self-criticism.

And then I remember that I wouldn't have this house or this figure if I didn't have the girls and that doesn't even compare to living in an apartment by myself having self-pity parties because nobody loved me (except my family and they didn't count.) I must be unusually gifted at self-pity parties.

So now to get over it and love my house and my body in spite of their faults. What good do pity parties do anyway? Well, I guess they can be a reminder to be grateful but it would be better to remember to do that before starting the whine-fest.

Ten things I'm grateful for (not in order of importance):
1) A little girl named Gemma and
2) a little girl named Oona, neither of whom I can now imagine life without.
3) A home that I will eventually make exactly how I want it.
4) a husband who stretches me to be a better person than I ever would have been otherwise.
5) A teenage boy named Jack and
6) a tweenage boy named Pat who teach me about boyhood and about being popular and being nice, which I had always thought were mutually exclusive.
7) Knitting and crochet and now maybe even sewing - great hobbies where you can make beautiful things and that fulfill so many purposes like relaxation, meditation, creativity, excitement.
8) Friends - I feel very very lucky and blessed in my friends right now, especially my Mom friends.
9) A reasonably healthy body which if I treat right will be even more healthy.
10) A career path that is flexible enough that I can be there for the babies and have time away to follow my own goals.

See, I really am quite lucky and blessed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poop on the floor

As any parent of toddlers and babies knows, poop is a common topic of conversation. "So, honey, did junior poop today?" "You would not believe the amount of poop that just came out of that baby!" You know what I mean. Non-parents would wonder why in the world would somebody blog about poop?

Enter Gemma's room after quiet time. Blankets, books, clothes piled all over the floor, pulled this way and that by a restless two year old who doesn't want to nap. Potty chair sitting on the floor, lid open, empty, purposefully left there by Gemma's Mama, namely me. Gemma laying on the floor with the chair cushion, removed from the chair, as a pillow and a blanket covering her. Gemma is wearing a shirt and two dresses, one on top of the other. Next to Gemma on the rug? Poop, a complete turd and a partial turd, thankfully not stepped on or otherwise disturbed or at least seemingly so. What else is on the floor? A removed diaper which has evidence of pee in it. On the chair cushion and soaking through her dresses? Pee. Smeared on the inside of her dress? Poop.

How in the world do you potty train a two year old who takes off her own diaper, refuses to sit on the potty, refuses to put her pee or poop in the potty and when asked where her poop and pee goes calmly replies "in my underwears?" How do I stay sane while trying to explain in no uncertain terms that pee and poop do not go in underwear (or on the floor for that matter) and that they need to go in her potty? All of this just reminds me of the fact that you cannot control the uncontrollable, least of all a willful two year old, and that fact is very extremely frustrating!

She won't be pooping on the floor when she's eighteen. Right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

in shock - in a good way

I was so prepared for night weaning to be extremely challenging. This was Oona, you know - the baby who woke up at 9, 11, 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 like clockwork for months and would squirm and cry and hit me in the face if I didn't comply and let her nurse. Our night last night - and just to remind you that this was only the third night of our night weaning program: Oona went to sleep around 7:30 after bath and nursing. She fell asleep with me holding her. I put her in her crib (side-car to our bed). I woke up at 12:30 completely shocked that she hadn't gotten me up yet. I went back to sleep. Oona woke up and nursed at 3 am. I put her down and she went back to sleep by herself. Then she nursed again at 6 and again went back to sleep - by herself (even more shock!). Gemma woke up at 8:20, also waking me up and Gemma and I woke up Oona a couple minutes later. I haven't had this much sleep for I can't even remember how long.

Now, I hope that I didn't just jinx myself, knock on wood! How sweet it would be if.... Must not get my hopes up too high, it was just one night.... But oh, am I so thankful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

night weaning night one

We had our first night of night weaning last night following the on-line article by Dr. Jay Gordon. I was fearing the worst and though it wasn't easy it wasn't nearly as hard as my fears built it up to be. (Thanks to all thinking of me - it must of helped!) Oona only cried for a couple minutes each time so I didn't have to listen to a screaming baby. (Big sigh of relief...) She definitely was mad, but seemed to get over it quickly. I did have to hold her hand while she tossed and turned trying to fall asleep and that took a lot longer than nursing her and cuddling her to sleep ever takes, but... it was only half an hour at a time instead of hours at a time like I feared. I also have to blame my exhaustion today on not sleeping well because I was worried about Oona and her hating me for the rest of her life and because I had too much decaf coffee and that makes my legs jump at night. I know, I know, what kind of person can't sleep after decaf? I inherit the caffeine and sugar genes from my mother so I both have somebody to blame and somebody that sympathizes. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

the joys of vacuum shopping

This is the story of a vacuum cleaner, or actually several vacuum cleaners. Back in the day, Eric and I both had vacuum cleaners. We joined households and he kindly allowed me to keep mine (possibly a mistake?) and we got rid of his. He had a canister vac, mine was an Eureka upright. That vacuum died shortly later. Eric prefers canister vacs and we had quite a bit of hardwood floors in our last house. We had a vacuum demoed at our house and loved it, but not the price. Enter next player, vacuum player number 2. Since we couldn't afford the cadillac vacuum cleaner, we opted for a Hoover canister vac available at Costco. This one worked well overall. It was a bit tricky to get bags, though. You couldn't hop over to your nearest hardware store or Wal Mart but either had to go to the Hoover store or order on-line. Jack, age 12 at the time, started vacuuming as one of his chores and several times neglected to tell us that we needed new bags (which was a PITA). Jack was also not very kind and gentle to the vacuum as he was rushing to get his job done and the vacuum broke - where the head joined on to the wand, the plastic snapped. Enter vacuum number 3. Since we didnt' want to pay an arm and a leg and also didn't want to buy a vacuum cleaner that would make us really mad if it were broken, we got a Dirt Devil bagless vacuum. After our experience with bags with the Hoover, bagless seemed perfect. Then the belt broke. Then it didn't do a good job. Then the switch to make it stand up broke. Okay, lesson learned, right? So my sister got an Oceanblue Vacuum and loved it. Rainbows are essentially the same. Enter vacuum number 4. We couldn't afford the full price of a Rainbow but found a less expensive one on ebay - a floor model. We nervously ordered it and were very excited about it. We used it. It was so great. Then it stopped after one hallway. The guy who sold it to us offered to fix it free (including free shipping). I had since read some Rainbow reviews which are very mixed - love them, hate them. But we got it fixed anyway, thinking if it worked, we'd be out only time, not money. We got it back. Two weeks ago, I used it and it worked great. It did get hot, but it was fine. Eric used it today and it stopped working ... again. It is packed in its box to be returned. So now we have three vacuums in our house and none of them work. We still want a canister vac because Eric prefers those and they're good when you have a mix of hard wood and carpet. So today, I run to Sears in between work and nap-time and we pick up a Kenmore Canister vacuum. They have reasonably good reviews on-line. My favorite were the Miele vacuums but they're twice the cost of the Kenmore ones. Also, a lot of people love their Dyson's but I've read on-line that they end up in the repair shop frequently because of clogged filters, etc. So now we have a not too expensive Kenmore canister vacuum from Sears (you buy bags and do repairs there) which I pray continues working for a very long time and that this will be the end of the vacuum saga. Who knew vacuums could be so stressful? Welcome to being a grownup.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

potty training

At Mama's group the other day, I asked for advice about potty training Gemma. I got a bunch back, some helpful and some less helpful. It's hard to give advice when it's different for every kid. It's turning out to be an interesting process. In fact, just as I started writing this post, Gemma started taking her diaper off - while she was peeing, thus getting pee all over the place. Obviously, she's starting to get it but she has yet to put her pee in the potty. When I suggested she sit on the potty this morning (night time diaper completely dry) she refused and cried really hard. When she knows she needs to pee, she asks to put a diaper on. She pees in her diaper, takes it off and then hands it to me. But then three days now, the first day being the day I was asking for advice, Gemma has put her poop not in her diaper. She made it in the potty twice and on the floor once. Progress, right? Let's hope so. I was so proud of her with the first poop. Something tells me, though, that once she gets it, she'll get it and have few accidents. This girl does not fit the typical mold, that's for sure!

Here's a picture (word picture that is) of our morning. Tired (exhausted) Mama sitting on a green plastic chair on the deck in the woodsy and messy backyard, crocheting a hat - a project she's not particularly enjoying but wants to finish nonetheless. Two teenage boys having a pine cone war, pine cones flying every which way and boys dodging, throwing, jumping, running. Two and a half year old wandering around eating Saturday candy, repeating the same things over and over again, taking pants on and off, sitting on the potty, getting up again and finally putting a poop in the potty (yay, Gemma!). One year old wandering around, crawling some, taking a few steps here and there, never straying too far from Mama but having fun playing in the dirt. Eric upstairs steadily grading finals - graduation tomorrow, grades due early next week. I sat there thinking that I'd like to remember this moment and noting how I felt like a still point amongst the chaos.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Oona took her first real steps today - ten little tiny ones and completely unassisted. I think she'll be fast once she really gets moving. She still likes to practice walk, holding on to my hand. It's sweet, she's been holding my hand and then Gemma insists on helping out by holding her other hand. As long as Gemma doesn't go too fast, it works out very nicely and is super cute to watch.

Gemma is really working at potty training. Our nap-time adventure was her taking off her poopy diaper by herself, trying to find something to wipe herself with (also getting poop all over her dress), putting on a pair of shorts - with no diaper - and peeing in them. One of these days, I'm hoping way sooner than later, she'll figure it out and put her pee and poop in the potty.

I have registered for my first class in the fall, philosophy 101 at 8 a.m. This is the first step towards becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife. Am I sure I'm doing the right thing? Can you ever be sure that you're doing the right thing? I know I'll combine it somehow with the massage work - craniosacral, etc - that I already do but don't have a clear picture of what that will look like. I have ten plus years, though, to figure it out.

Oona and Gemma will start at their new daycare in June. I really hope I'm making the right decision to have them go there. And Pat will start middle school in the fall and Jack will start high school. And Eric is promoted to associate professor in the fall. New beginnings for all.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Teenage boys

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how strange it is to have two teenage boys. I'm one of five girls and we grew up in neighborhoods where we were really the only kids. Boys were strange. I never understood them and was scared of them and uber shy around them. I had one date in high school (admitting to being a complete nerd, I know) and didn't have a real boyfriend until college. So interacting and observing teenage boys is kind of like observing a completely different species. Add to that I'm their step-mom and was sixteen years old when Jack was born and eighteen when Pat was and it gets even more interesting. I act as their Mom because we have them full-time but it is definitely not the usual set-up. At least it's not like I'm their step-mom and the same age as they are. I would imagine it would be very strange to have your parent married to someone your same age. Actually, I don't really want to imagine that, especially if the kid is still young enough to really need a full-time parent.

I started thinking about it because I just went through a two hour on-line shoe shopping experience with them. Who knew boys could be so picky! Jack, especially can be very very very picky. We finally found a web-site that met all their requirements (cool shoes) as well as mine (reasonable-ish prices, free shipping and one site where both boys could find shoes they liked and one that sold helmets because Pat needed one.) I would never in my life have imagined shopping at The House Boardshop, a web-site I would never have visited if I wasn't step-mom to the boys. And here are the shoes they finally came up with. The black ones are Pat's and the others are Jack's. $40 was my limit so Jack is using his own money to cover the extra. The shoes better be good ones and they better last!

the reason

Now I know the reason why I've been a complete mess. PMS. Holy crampola! I've never ever had cramps this bad. Back pain, almost nauseating, can't move or function, also can't go back to sleep, been sucker punched in the belly cramps. Yucks. So far I've taken a couple Advil which usually (as in used to) do the trick. We'll see. Maybe a trip out to try some Motrin later? As I need to be relatively functional because Eric is away at a conference.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I think I can (or I'm trying to persuade myself that I think I can)

These are all signs that I could be doing better.

1. I'm typing this instead of changing my 2 1/2 yr old's poopy diaper because I don't want to have to deal with wrestling her or persuading her that I need to change her diaper now. I've already told her three times that I need to change her diaper. Surely that is enough.

2. Yesterday I made frosting - the crisco kind with vanilla, almond, and butter flavorings in it - and ate it with a spoon. I also had frosting and graham cracker sandwiches (1/2 inch of frosting on each sandwich).

3. At Costco I bought Ghirardelli Chocolate ($10 worth) and a box of individually wrapped Rice Krispies Treats. And yes, I've already eaten some of them. And these are Costco size packages. I'm going to try not eating them all in one day, though no promises for the weekend.

4. I keep snapping at all four kids (babies and teenagers) for the smallest annoyances. Okay, some of them are not so small but the annoyance/amount of snapping or yelling ratio is a bit off.

5. I don't feel like I have anything to say except to whine. And who wants to be around a whiner? Hey, I don't even want to be around myself.

6. On the way home from Costco, I neglected to buckle Oona into her car seat. I got half way home and realized this. I stopped right away and buckled her in and I was incredibly grateful that nothing happened. But it is scary when you do something like this.

7. I've been having quite a bit of pelvic pain but my fertility signs are not clear. What in the world is my body trying to do?

8. I keep distracting myself by spending hours on ravelry or just on the internet aimlessly searching for something, anything, that will keep my interest long enough to be able to ignore all the housework, etc, that needs my attention.

I am in desperate need of the following: sleep, an infusion of patience, my hormones to figure themselves out, and for everybody to do what I think they should do exactly when I think they should do it. Just kidding on that last one. Seriously though, the sleep and hormone issues are being really problematic. Sugar isn't helping but it's so hard to stop when you're hormonal and exhausted. I really really really wish Oona would just be one of those babies that just slept through the night through no effort of mine. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Two more weeks. I can make it two more weeks. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.