Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eating elephants

Here's the thing. I'm overwhelmed. In both the good way and the bad way. Life just does not slow down, does it? Day in, day out; laundry, dishes, dusting, moping, toys toys TOYS everywhere. Snotty noses, grumpy moods. And I often find myself sitting amongst it all, bewildered and confused that this is actually my life. That sounds bad, doesn't it? But when did this happen? And didn't I JUST congratulate myself for finishing all the laundry? How has that pile grown? And when did my life become defined by chores? 

I'm trying to eat an elephant. One bite at a time. 

But... amid the fear that I am drowning, that I can't keep up with this life and the maintenance... I see two little smiles and hear two little souls giggle. I stop thinking about the elephant and breath deep, smelling their lavender bath soap. 

It's often hard for me to reconcile the two overwhelming things that make up my life. The drudgery of being a housewife and all the work (oh, the work!) it takes to maintain my comfort level in my home. The insane amount of love that I have for my children. And the fact that the two are not mutually exclusive. 

And while I would much rather be defined as a good mother than the woman who always has the spotless floors...

So I'm working on it. Managing my time. Dealing with the fact that, no matter how much I balk, there will always be a mess. This life we are living, this season, isn't always pretty. Literally and figuratively. 

But, my word, how I love my little mess makers.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

See, Mama?

Yesterday was a long day. I have not been feeling well in the heart department and was very busy feeling sorry for myself. Amelia wanted nothing to do with being anywhere else besides my arms while Noah was very busy being a three year old All. Day. Long.

Amelia was in her bumbo, screaming because she had finished her peaches. I was trying to load the dishwasher while simultaneously keeping Amelia happy and finish up dinner for me and Noah (chicken enchiladas). And Noah? He loves to 'help' in the kitchen at dinner time. I gave him a cutting board, opened a can of sliced black olives and gave him a bunch of green onions. I gave him a butter knife, thinking this should occupy him long enough for me to finish the dishes before we eat. 

"See! See! Seeeee! Mama! See!!"

Hands still wet and soapy, "Yes, Noah, I see, you're helping cook! Way to go, buddy!" I say, with my back to him as I toss some Cheerios on Amelia's tray. 

"See. See? See! See!"

I turn to the cupboard, get out a few plates, and finally walk over to Noah's prep station. 

And I see.

He had taken out almost all of the sliced olives and cut them in half, then arranged them in a line of perfectly intended, little letter 'c's. 


It's moments like those. My heart freezes, my thoughts slow, and I can see my son for who I know he is. I see. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Deep in the bowels

Day three of potty training. 

My gosh, this is the hardest damn thing I have done as a parent. And the truth is, I have no idea what I am doing.

I did, however, just make up and sing a song about a pee pee penis pizza party. 

I know in hindsight (or is it hiney sight?) this will all be hilarious. 

But for now, I am very serious when I say I would give my right arm just to see some shit in the toilet. Because it's all down hill after the first shit, right?

No, really, am I right? Tell me your best potty training tips. Stand on my head? Sure, I'll give that a try. Promise to buy him a pony? Why the hell not. 

And, for the record, I did just run into the bathroom with Noah, who was yelling STINKY, while holding Amelia... nursing her. I don't need hiney sight to know that is hilarious. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The earthquake, one year after

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan. I spoke briefly  about our experience at the time, but have not revisited the topic in great detail on my blog. 

Truth be told, not a day passes where I do not think about March 11. 

I will be sitting in my favorite chair, watching the children play. All of the sudden I feel like I am shaking; my heart starts to race, palms sweaty. I look over at the lamp: the chain is not moving. Another 'phantom quake'. Panic attack.  

When I notice an actual earthquake I brace myself for the intensity to increase. I search online to find where the epicenter was, if there is a tsunami, if it was close to the still fragile Fukushima power plant. 

Always waiting for the other shoe to drop/be shaken off. 

I feel guilty indulging in such worry. Really, we were lucky. The thousands of lives that were lost around Japan. The thousand still that are unaccounted for. These tragedies did not touch us. And while we live here, this is not our 'home' or our Country. 

News reports, articles, videos... with the anniversary people have been posting tributes and facts about the day. I stoically listened and watched them all yesterday. Then today, the day after, I listed to a piece on the radio while driving to the Base. And I wept. 

One year has passed. And Japan has picked herself up, shaken off the dust, and the process of rebuilding is in full swing. 

And, for the most part, so have I.

But that day has left scars. Fear and anxiety. 

I look forward to the day where we are not only celebrating the calendar passing of the date, but the fear and anxiety passing as well. 

But one thing is certain; we can all learn a thing or two from beautiful Japan. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday Farm Muffins

When I was preparing for and recovering from my open heart surgery in August of 2010 I was lucky enough to spend time with my Aunt Donna and Uncle Roy at their lovely home in Ohio. The Friday Farm. 

Donna is my Dad's sister. When she heard that I was in need of medical attention that I could not find in North Carolina, she called and offered to help me get an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic. She and Roy opened their home to me and Noah during one of the hardest times of my life. Donna accompanied me to appointments. We talked about the results. She offered support and encouragement. 

Beyond the scope of medical issues, we also became quiet close. We would talk about all manners of things; relationships, politics, religion, friendships, children...

And food.

Donna is an amazing cook. She has what is (truth be told) my dream kitchen. The window over her sink in that perfect kitchen looks out onto a fantastic garden. Because, on top of everything else Donna does well, she has a green thumb... made of gold. 

Donne would come inside with a basket full of the daily harvest. We would have fresh salads or soups and talk about the importance of fueling your body with proper nutrition. 

I have been looking for the perfect blueberry muffin recipe for a while now. After searching hi and lo on the old internet I decided to make one of my own. As I brainstormed ingredients it dawned on my how much my Aunt would enjoy these muffins. 

So, in honor of my loving Aunt and Uncle in Ohio...

Friday Farm Muffins

- 1 cup plain yogurt 
- 1 egg, slightly beaten 
- 1/3 cup agave nectar 
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly 
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
- 1 cup whole wheat flour 
- 1 cup almond meal 
- 1 teaspoon baking powder 
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins.

In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, egg, agave nectar, butter and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and the salt. If using frozen blueberries, reserve a 1/4 cup of the flour mixture before adding the rest of it to the wet ingredients. Stir just until the wet ingredients are combined with the dry, about 5-6 stirs. Add the frozen  blueberries to the remaining flour mixture and toss to coat. Fold the blueberries into the batter.

Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 of the way full, bake for 18-20 minutes. Let them cool slightly in the tin before running a knife around the edge, then transfer to a wire rack.

I have it on good authority that Donna and Roy would enjoy these muffins with a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Well... maybe not Roy, he's more of a bagel man. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Here's to starting a new decade!

The best part of my birthday so far... yes, the birthday in which I turn 30 years of age... 

It wasn't the pie (although it was delicious).

It wasn't all the love via the Worlds Wide Interwebs (although these have made me laugh, smile, cry...).

No, the best part of my birthday has been listening to Noah sing the Happy Birthday song. 

And if I am lucky, he occasionally swaps out birthday for bacon. 

Yes, happy bacon to me! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Celebrating Parents: Blink

My friend Emily over at keeping time decided to challenge her readers the other day. She challenged us to throw away labels, guilt, pressure, statistics and articles. To strip all of that away and to celebrate ourselves as parents. Read her original post, where she ever so eloquently explains how she came to this crossroad. Then read the success stories of other mothers, maybe even share your own! 

Here is my success.


Just a few short months ago Noah was evaluated for his speech delay. Oh, how easy it was to become wrapped up in his initial diagnosis. To obsess over every interaction I had with him. To want to make every. Minute. Count. To make sure I was doing all that I could for him. Eyes wide open, all the time, looking... evaluating... measuring. 

Then I blinked. 

He just told me he was a gentleman. And that there was no such thing as a Gruffalo.

I often cup my hands around his sweet face and whisper, reminding him that the way he sees the world is a gift, and most importantly, that he is special.

The other morning I was in the kitchen, mixing blueberries with vanilla yogurt. He's jumping, singing, and waving his arms around his baby sister. Then all of the sudden he stopped, kneeled down, cupped his hands around his baby sisters sweet face and whispered 'you special'.

And just like that I knew, he gets it. He always has. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On faith

When I was younger (I am talking preschool, kindergarten age) I was convinced that the world we lived in was really a dream that a man named Charlie was having. 

Incidentally, I have a cousin named Charlie. While I did (and do) think he is fantastic, I did not think he was god... maybe I was just being lazy with my name selection? 


I also thought that when I was asleep and had dreams of my own that I was looking in on a whole other world. I also thought that everyone thought just like I did. It did not cross my mind that someone else did not believe we were just in Charlie's dreams. 

Because I thought it, it was true. 

I also thought that I could speak German. In particular, to my stuffed animals and my favorite blanket (a green bed sheet). I had a whole plot where we were trying to escape Nazi guards and I would speak German to my stuffed animals and blanket (whose name was vobelstauf, which roughly translates to 'green sheet' in my made up German...). Years later I was friends with someone who was actually from Germany and I was actually surprised to find out that vobelstauf was not a real word. 

Because I thought it, it was true. 

My mom told me she invented banana pudding. I believed that fallacy up until high school. She also made up words that I would use on a regular basis with the general public, not knowing they were just cute 'mom words'. (I promise I am not bitter over these lies, I just like to give her a hard time. Love you Mom!)

My point is, that when I was younger there were things that I believed, without a shadow of a doubt, to be true. Maybe it can be chalked up to childhood innocence, but I like to think it is a testament to my faith. 

In my own egocentric, childlike world I had faith in my crazy ideas. They were things that I thought to be true, and so they were. I was blissfully unaware of others opinions; all that mattered to me was that Charlie kept having his dreams. And, oh, how I loved to imagine what the world I got to look in on at night was going to be like. To be a visitor in MY dreams... 

Of course, as you get older, the childlike thinking fades. You discover it isn't your world, there are others here who think completely different than you. And now, all of the sudden, having faith in something is just not enough. You have to have proof. Or at least one other person who agrees that vobelstauf IS INDEED a word. Faith vs. Facts. 

As an adult there are a few things that I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, to be true. A few things I have faith in. 

I have faith in my love for my children. That, to me, is the one thing that is constant, steady and unwavering in this world. 

I have faith in the healing power of laughter. There has never been a time in my life where I was in too much pain to laugh or have laughter help me feel better. Even if it is just .1% better, it always does. 

And then there is my faith in God.

I have a hard time putting this faith into words. When I try to put it into words I feel like I am a child once again, trying to explain who the hell Charlie is to my confused kindergarten teacher. 

I do have faith in something bigger than all of us. All of this. I have faith in the beautiful, thoughtful, awe inspiring world that we live in; a world that is not here by chance.

It may not match Christian faith and it may not match an atheists lack thereof, but it is there. This is my one faith that is a work in progress; it ebbs and wanes, strengthens and is tested. 

But I still believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that my faith is true. Just like if you had asked me when I was six years old if my mom invented banana budding, I would have answered with an emphatic 'YES'. If you asked me now if I believed in a God... 

Yes. Emphatically and always, yes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Magical thinking

Arms reached out, fingers
dancing in the wind, he sighs,
"... I catch...". He is magic.