Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Anni--, or is it Blogi--(?) versary

Today marks the date that I quit working. My boss didn't know that I didn't plan on coming back. My plan was to stay out at least 4 months (maternity leave plus 12 weeks of FMLA), but to quit as long as my husband was still working . Brandon was born on September 16th. Layoffs at Brian's company started in January, and he weathered those until the bitter end. So, happy anniversary to me.

Today also marks 2 years in the blogosphere. My first blog, on August 31st, 2006, was just the beginning of many. I'd lurked on various blogs over the years, but not nearly as many as I do these days. It's a very strange thing to me that I can read a person's blog, sometimes written over several years, and feel like I know that person very well, but yet not know them at all. I can become fascinated with the passions and wonderful writings of people that I know in real life would drive me bonkers! It's those passions, though, that make their blogs so much fun!

So, to you 3 readers out there, thanks for joining me on this adventure. I've been officially unemployed now for 5 years now, and busier than I've ever been in my life!

My Sister Is Engaged!

MY SISTER IS ENGAGED! my sister is engaged! My sister is engaged! My sister is engaged! My SiStEr Is EnGaGeD!!!!

I think it's safe to blog about this now...

My baby sister, who is almost 17 years younger than I am, got engaged on her birthday, August 11th. Her boyfriend of almost 2 years, Ryan, made a very nice dinner, gave her a photo album chronicling their dating life together, put the ring in the back, and proposed. It's much nicer when she tells it, but still sweet to hear!

I don't have any nice pictures of them together (I have lots of boating pics, but nothing that that shows them smiling), so I stole this one from my mom's photo site. They look nice, and it's recent (for those of you who still picture her being 2, or 5, or 11, or 16).

I'm so excited for her!! Marriage is fun! Only 2 and a half short months until the wedding. And now I won't have to stop myself from saying "Uncle Ryan" whenever I point out pictures to the kids of Aunt Elizabeth and Ryan together. That was hard not to say in July.

Thinking in Extremes

"The Sound of Music" came on this afternoon, right after "Chitti Chitti Bang Bang" - which Brandon was watching in rapt attention. (And, seriously, who knew the friendly toymaker was played by Benny Hill?)

Brandon was very curious as to why the credits were at the beginning of the movie instead of the end. The conversation ensued thusly:

Brian: " This movie's kind of old. It was made a long time ago."
Brandon: "Kind of like "Cars"? ('Cause "Cars", released in 2006, is just soooo old!)
Brian: "No. This movie was made even before me and mommy were born."
Brandon: "Was it made before all our friends were born?"
Then, turning to Brian, very seriously, "Was it made before God made the earth?"

That's our boy, always thinking in extremes.

Of course, if you looked at what all the actors look like today, after seeing them as they were in 1965, you might think the movie was made before time.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog.....

No, I didn't really forget that I had a blog. Well, maybe. I'm still reading ones out there, in my few minutes of free time, but even that's been random.

Brandon started kindergarten on August 20th. Since then, we've been tweaking our lives to learn to live with this new schedule. He goes to school from 11:45 to 2:30 every day. The school is close by, maybe half a mile away. But this new schedule is just so odd - and I'm trying to fit our lives around it. We have had to rework most areas of daily life just to figure this out. Seriously, kindergarten shouldn't be this hard!

Food has been one of the hardest things. Due to the start of school, I've been trying to keep things low key this week, which means we aren't going out much (not that we have anywhere to go....). Brandon has been waking up around 7:30 and has a big cup of milk. He then eats breakfast around 8:00 or 8:30, and is only mildly hungry around 11:15, which is when he needs to eat something . We need to start our leaving process around 11:30 (shoes, bags, any schoolwork, etc), so we can be at the school around 11:40. Trying to figure out what to feed him at 11:15 has been hard. He doesn't want lunch, but the snack has to be healthy and enough to keep him full until school's out at 2:30. Right now he's all into organic whole-milk vanilla yogurt, along with the blueberry and flaxseed granola, from Whole Foods (it's one of the few places I can find flavored whole-milk yogurt!). We might get more into bananas soon, and other filling snacks. He has another filling snack when he gets home, too. And, I'm trying to incorporate more protein into his breakfasts so he won't be hungry. I need to hit Sunflower Farmer's Market again to get some good, healthy ideas.

We had our first foray out into the real word the other day. I went to the opening brunch for my Bible study on Wednesdays. The morning was interesting. I got up at 6:00 am to walk. I return home around 7:00, and need to leave around 8:40 to get to Boulder between 9:00 and 9:15. Back in my PK (pre-kid) days, that would have been completely doable. These days.... forget it. I'm not sure how walking is going to fit into Wednesdays anymore! Really - I couldn't do anything right! I did manage to get us all fed, dressed, and out of the house before 9:00 am, though. I got to pick my study early, since I was helping run a cashier's table. I picked out a Beth Moore study on the Psalms. I've only done one Beth Moore study years ago, but I've seen her at a conference, heard her on the radio, and really like her work. And, if I hate it, it's only one semester. I'll do a different study starting in late January. It can't be worse than last year! Although I felt convicted to stay, I also felt like I wasted several months in a study I hated. On the bright side, Brandon ate 3/4 of a sandwich and some dried banana chips on the way home. At least feeding him on days that we have morning activities should be so bad! Our mornings have to start earlier on those days, and will eat quite a bit on the way to school.

I'm really hoping to get this new schedule down soon. It's quite a bit different than anything we've done for the last couple of years. I can already see that I won't have much, if any, time to myself, which might make me a bit batty. We'll see how it goes!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Too Busy to Go Outside

From the August 1953 issue of Popular Mechanics. Seriously.

Of course, I have seen many a tot practically hanging out of apartment balconies, so in some ways this does look like an improvement. What about going outside for some fresh air? If it's nice enough to open the window and play in a mesh soccer goal net, it's probably nice enough to go outside.

Kindergarten, Here We Come!

Today was Brandon's first day of kindergarten. My baby boy! I guess I'll need to drop the "baby" part from that last phrase, now that my boy's a big kindergartner. I'm still wrapping my mind around the fact that Brandon's almost 5, and now in kindergarten.

He's in the afternoon class, which runs from 11:45 to 2:30 five days a week (yes, it's less than 3 hours a day. No, I don't know why. Seems to be a Colorado thing. Every mother I've talked to thinks this is the most ridiculous kindergarten schedule they've ever heard of!). I chose the afternoon kindergarten class for a couple of reasons:

#1 - Selfishly, because it means that I still get to keep my morning mom activities, like a weekly bible study and MOPS. I'll have to leave everything early in order to get him to school, but at least I still get to go. The morning class is from 7:55 to 10:45 am. Besides grocery shopping, there is nothing I could do during that time frame at all. Most stores don't even open until 10:00 or 10:30 around here. Even Costco would be a challenge.

#2 - more relaxed mornings. I'm not a morning person, and neither are my kids. We won't be rushing to get out of the house by a quarter to 8:00 this year to get to school. Next year will be different, but this year I get a breather!

Brandon was all excited about going to school. We've received a lot of going to kindergarten books, and the kids in the books are nervous and/or sad about going to school. Brandon thought he should be, too. In reality, he was so ready to go, and we were ready for him to go. I'm looking forward to PE next week. He needs to get out all that boy energy bottled up inside. As you can see from the photos, there's not a hint of sadness about going to kindergarten. He was rearing to go!

I'm excited about the school. I've heard that they are very academically focused. How that translates in kindergarten, and how they do that in less than 3 hours per day, I don't know. Brandon is trying so hard to read, so that will be a good measure of achievement for me. But he's excited, and wants to learn. I'm glad. And, quite honestly, I'm ready for him to be at school 3 hours a day. More time for me, and Caitlin.

Who Do I Write About?

I'm obviously not spending enough time writing about Caitlin. Wordle told me so....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"But I'm Never Tired!"**

Brian got a Wii Fit for his upcoming birthday (no, seriously - it's what he wanted). We decided to try it out last night. Somewhere in the middle of the game where you ward off oncoming soccer balls with your head, Brian thought he heard a snicker. But no one was behind him. Turns out there was a young Brandon sitting on the stairs, watching all of this via the reflection in the face of our wall clock! Every night for the past month he's been asking us why he has to go to bed before us? Why can't he stay up late like Mommy and Daddy?

Any good suggestions? I haven't been able to supply him with an answer that fulfills him, despite trying. He isn't convinced that he's not exactly like mom and dad. Now, not only does he have to go to bed early, but he now knows how much fun he's missing out on!!!

**uttered nightly by a young Brandon

Monday, August 18, 2008

Enough, Already!

I really think I might lose it if Caitlin has another meltdown about a bug. This is one of her new, irrational fears. I realize it's a phase, but the screaming and the crying is enough to send any mother over the edge.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Please Come Home

I am greatly looking forward to Brian returning tonight. I don't even care when he gets home - just that he is at home. This is one of those days when I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff. If I lose my footing and fall down the cliffside, I may never be able to get out of. I'm exhausted. I'm alone. Lately the kids have been pushing all my buttons. The headaches increase in pressure and pain as they race through the house with their play stroller and shopping card - wheels clattering over the boards of the hardwood floor. It doesn't help that both kids had issues earlier in the week which caused immense amounts of crying (Brandon was sick, and Caitlin was constipated). I cherish silence, but kids are not quiet. These days I would settle for a mere "not so loud".

I miss having Brian around for many reasons. Even when I have been surrounded by a huge support network, and had a life, I would feel very alone when he was gone. I missed having someone to talk to, someone to see. He's always traveled, ever since I met him, and I use to enjoy that time away. It was my time alone, when I could do what I wanted when I wanted. There was no one who was waiting for me at home. Then Brandon came along, and it all got more difficult. I was lost in my baby, nursing, diapering world, and I was very much alone. I had friends, but most of them worked, and I wasn't close to the ones who had kids. My days were very much the same, which can drive you insane in a very short period of time. It wasn't the joy of structure, it was the dullness of stagnation. I began to reach out, and joined a mom's group when Brandon was just a few months old. I went to playgroup with friends, even though Brandon was too young to play. And after about 6 months, I fell into an easy rhythm with Brandon. Brian's trips weren't as bad.

Then Caitlin came. Her infancy was much harder on me. While I knew what to do baby wise, the rest of life got harder. I was achy, exhausted, and felt like like it took all my energy to rise out of bed in the morning. Caitlin wasn't a great nurser, which left me sore and exhausted from all the effort it took to get food down her mouth. My patience with just about everything was gone. I kept thinking that if I could just get a good night's sleep, it would all be okay. But I couldn't sleep. I was awakened by the baby, by Brian's snoring, by my own thoughts. Each day was joyless. I was quietly scared that I might never be myself again. For the most part, I didn't tell anyone, and I really didn't think anyone cared. Each day went on forever, and I thought that having a second baby was a huge mistake. 6 or 7 months down the line, after a conversation with a friend, I finally called the doctor. After a diagnosis of postpartum depression and a prescription, things got a little better. Things that never occurred to me were part of PPD were gone. Moving to Colorado didn't really help all of this. I sometimes wonder if I thought this would be a good idea because nothing seemed good in California during that year. I do have the kind of brain that thinks running away will make things better, but change doesn't change who you essentially are. And here I am - still me - in a different state. Alone with kids.

It bothers me immensely that I can't seem to get this mothering thing down. That I feel like I should stay home with my kids, but some days it drives me batty. Weeks can seem endless and joyless when I have no support. Any goals or ideas for my life that I might have tinkered with would be so hard to pull off living life like this. But mostly, I miss having my life partner around. Trips are getting much longer, and more frequent. When business trips come up, they seem to come in waves - meaning Brian might be home for a month or two, and then gone for what seems like month at a time. Home long enough to dump dirty laundry, and then leave a few days later. I do get tired of it. Work already gets the better part of his day. Now it gets his nights and the occasional weekend, too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kindergarten and Mom Assessment

Today was kindergarten assessment day for Brandon. I got to take him down to our local elementary school to meet his teacher and see his classroom. There were 8 students per each hour and a half block, so we did a lot of waiting in the library. Brandon vacillated between the dinosaur books, and the cutting and coloring table. At least there were things to keep him entertained. Caitlin, on the other hand, was entertained for approximately 11 minutes. After that she whined, talked, took many, many books off the shelves, and jumped on the chairs. The librarian was on kid-duty, as were a couple of pre-teen girls and a few moms. I was able to leave Brandon there and walk around upstairs. The library in the school is in the middle, and sunken, so we walked the main the circle of the school, but at all times could see Brandon through the windows that look down in to the main part of the library. That was nice.

Brandon's new school is very nice. It's K-5th grade, and not too large. It's far nicer than anything he would have gone to back in California. It's only about 11 years old. I think it's sort of a Midwestern thing, and the fact that most of the town we live in was developed about 15 years ago, so things are much newer as a result. Our neighborhood was built in 1994. Brandon's school is also an indoor school, due to our weather, which make it seem nicer, too. I only went to one indoor school in my life, back in 5th grade when we briefly lived in the Sierras, and I liked it soooo much better than all the outdoor schools I went to. It was so nice to not have to put on my coat and drag all my stuff around during inclement weather.

After Brandon's assessment was done, we were herded out through the cafeteria and on to a playground. I was greeted by a wave of overly tanned, overly buffed moms talking with each other, or playing with their kids. I swear, I was the fattest, whitest person on the playground! And I'm tan right now! Since we moved here I have been inundated with the fact that people in Colorado are very healthy and spend a lot of time outside. The healthy part is obvious - the population is far thinner here than anywhere else I've live (or even ever been). However, being from the bay area in California, I haven't noticed the outside part as much as I feel I should. There were far more people outside in our old neighborhood in California. And, they were out pretty much year round. The mass amounts of cyclists here, while amazingly annoying, are not nearly as annoying as the traffic-stopping cyclists I use to encounter daily on my way to work (still irritating, but not as much. The urge to run over those riding 3 or 4 abreast on the roads at 15 miles per hour has decreased). I've chalked that up to a denser population there, and better weather. These moms, though, fit the healthy, outdoorsy descriptions. These moms reminded me of the kind of people I use to run into when I went to pick up the coffee cambros for our old church. Palo Alto was overrun with overly tan, overly buffed women with color-streaked hair who jogged in the morning, ran home for a shower, and then showed up at Peet's Coffee, practically drip-drying in their designer sweats. I'm not sure what the moms here do. Maybe it's skiing. Or cycling. I'm out walking early in the mornings, and haven't noticed a lot of joggers. Maybe I'm in the wrong neighborhood. All I know is that they don't dress well, and look much older than their actual years. Maybe it's all that sun.

We played for a while, until the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and threatened to burn us to a crisp (the sun is more intense at 5,400 feet!). The kids wanted to go to Chick-Fil-A, and I was pretty burned out from playing single parent this week while Brian's gone, so I agreed with their "great idea" (as they say when presenting something to me). While there I ran into an overly tanned, but not overly buffed woman and another women who looked more normal than the other mom, and they invited me to join up with a local moms group. I've looked it up online, and I think I'll call them next week. I have a few friends here, but they aren't close by. I'd really like to meet some people who live close by. I miss living next door to my friend Chris, and Brandon misses playing with Emily. It would be nice to know people who have kids the same age as mine, who don't have exercise as their only hobby, and that I may have something in common with. But really, at this point any real friends would be nice.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rough Days

It's been a rough couple of days. I'm really not sure what's prompted all of this, but Brandon and Caitlin have been behaving terribly! There is the whining, which is normal for us, but it is far worse these last two days than normal. The kids are just over 2 years apart, but usually play well together. But not yesterday. Not today. Not only is Brandon not listening to me, but when he is "forced" to do whatever it is that I have asked him to do, he's throwing a screaming, flailing tantrum afterwards.

Sometimes I do well as a single parent, and other days I wonder how single parents do it all. I'm sure every mom has days when she feels like throwing in the towel, and I no exception. It's been a lesson in patience the last few days, and I'm not sure I'm learning it well.


It's only been two days since Brian left for a week long business trip, and I am already cherishing my time alone. The kids are great, but they are kids. Between being sweet and wonderful and playing together nicely, there is the fighting and the arguing. There is the "mine" and the fact that if one has a toy that the other wants and child number one puts it aside for a nanosecond, it is snatched up by the child number two, leaving the first child whining. Mommy can only handle so much of that!

It's almost mid-August, and summer is almost over in Colorado. School starts next week, on the 20th, for Brandon. He's going to be a big kindergartner. We have his school supplies all ready. I've only managed to find one backpack for him, and it's a Cars one. It is so hard to find a backpack small enough for a kindergartner, but yet big enough to hold school papers, that doesn't have some sort of character or graphic on it. I can't be the only parent who cringes at the thought of my kid being a walking advertisement. At least he likes Cars. I just hate having to buy character stuff when I am really looking hard for something else. I just bought Caitlin an Elmo backpack because it's what she really wanted. That's fine. But I don't want logos, graphics or characters on everything. That's why I rarely shop at Old Navy for the kids. Graphics and logos are on almost every boy shirt in the store!

I find myself longing for some order from the chaos I call summer. Yes, I could enroll the kids in art classes or sports classes, but they both seem to young to benefit from that right now. Maybe next summer. It would have given me something to do here, but I still balk at it at such a young age. But not doing anything like that means they are with me That gets old. For me and them. I am looking forward to Brandon starting school, and schedules starting up again. I am looking forward to MOPS starting again. I am looking forward to giving Women to Women another chance (this time I am going to be ultra picky about which study I choose, and who is leading it!). I am always looking forward to the possibility of making friends (I did make a few friends last year, but two families moved at the end of the school year. So were are almost back to the starting line). The last couple of years have been difficult and extremely long. I no longer feel like time flies by (except when I'm sleeping). Instead, it trudges uphill in cement-laden boots. My emotional highs and lows have been a roller coaster. Each time I stabilize, I find that I was really going up a hill and just wasn't aware of it until I went cascading down the other side! My home life is fine, but the life I lead inside my head is still a jumbled mess. I do feel like I've reached a plateau. A place I haven't been to in years. But my vision is still cloudy. I'm not sure if I'm at the plateau, or if I'm just heading up another hill. Let's hope that a return to the schedulizing of the P-4 household will clear it all up for me!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Oh, For the Love of Snoopy!!!

Let me introduce you to my new frenemy, the Snoopy Tendonitis Sno-Cone Machine.

The joyous machine of old? The fun of your childhood (not of mine. I don't recall ever having one). You can make a wonderful snow cone at home! No need to go out! No need to spend money! After all - it's just shaved ice and syrup! Let the fun begin!!!!

Brandon got his Snoopy Sno Cone Machine for his 4th birthday or for Christmas last year. Due to various factors (either the fact that the temperature plummets in September to fall-like conditions, or the fact that we were moving into our new house, or maybe the whole Christmas/snow outside/cold/cold/cold), Snoopy got put up in the closet for future use. We discovered it last week as we were doing some closet cleaning and got it out. Brandon was so excited for shaved ice, and I agreed to make some.

The instructions say to put 1 ice cube in the top, where the Snoopy is, and turn the crank on the back. Magically, shaved ice, about the consistancy of Colorado snow, appears in the little round area in the front. The kids are as happy as the Lucy and Charlie Brown on the front! But what they don't tell you is, OH MY GOSH, it's hard work! And not only does it take a lot of strength in arm #1 to churn out enough ice for one little cup full, but it also takes all the strength you possess in your other arm to hold the little plastic machine on the counter. As of this post, both shoulders and both elbows hurt way more than they should. I found that if I partially crushed the ice prior to putting it in the machine it worked a lot better. But it still was a lot of work. Then there's the syrup - which is just sugar melted in water with some coloring. Niiiicee. More sugar to rot their teeth. It's not as if my kids are sugar deprived. When you pour the syrup on the shaved ice, the ice melts down. You end up with a little cup that's now only half full, and you have to crush more ice! AAAHHH!!

Brandon's reaction to having a cup of shaved ice - "MMM, tastes like cold PEZ!" Great.

Luckily my kids only requested two cups of ice. The hard work paid off because both of them were pretty happy afterwards. As for me - I'm going to freeze some juice in ice cube trays so that I don't have to add that nasty syrup again. And I'm putting Snoopy away for a few days, until my arms recover.

Don't you just love the face Caitlin makes when I say "smile!"

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Today I cut myself a lot of slack.

I went through my closets.

I consider myself an organized pack rat. I have a lot of stuff, but it's all categorized and filed away. It's not better than being a regular pack rat, but it does mean that my house is neater and there are not piles of junk everywhere (which I hate). In spite of my organized pack rat ways, I seem to possess a gene that makes me go through my closets and house every so often and purge things I no longer use or find useful. Seriously, I sometimes wish I only owned large items, like furniture, and didn't have full closets. Then I'd have no possessions to stress about. Anyway.... going through clothes can be very emotional for me. I'm not quite sure why, since I'm not a fashionista (although, in certain circles around here I'm so fashionable it's silly!). But there is still that little voice that thinks I should hold on to something because I really like it (even though it's outdated or is really really snug doesn't fit me anymore), or because I paid a lot of money for it. This time it was work clothes.

Let's be real. I haven't worked outside the home for 5 years now. Due to pregnancy, I haven't worn some of these clothes for almost 6 years! My stay-at-home mom wardrobe is vastly different from my working world wardrobe. And, as much as I may long to dress in the nice, pressed, office-ish clothing that I see in the stores, it isn't practical, or even functional for my current life. There is no place for high heels at the park. I'm finding places for them in other areas, now that I'm not balancing a baby on one hip, and holding a toddler with the other hand. But I don't need every pair I see.

I don't want to work outside my home right now, and I am fortunate enough to not have to. That may go on forever. It may not. Right now, however, the most important place for me to be is smack dab in the middle of the lives of my kids, physically and mentally. There are days, mind you, when I think that I should absolutely go back to work part-time for my sanity (and maybe the sanity of my kids). And sometimes, I just really need a break from this whole mommy business. But really, I don't even want to think about that for at least another 3 years. (I hate the whole Mommy-Wars thing, so please note that I am not berating those of you who want to, or have to work. I'm just saying that it's not for me right now)

So - back to my closet. And those nice suits. I donated a lot of nice stuff to Career Closet back when we lived in
California. I guess I should look for something in Boulder. I'd hate to just get rid of the suits and sweater twin sets that I no longer wear when I could donate them to a good cause. Some of these outfits don't look like they've been worn. I wore out all my heels, so hopefully someone else can donate those. Brian was very supportive of the fact that we'll need to invest a lot of money in a new career wardrobe for me should I decide to head back to work in the future. He was the one who even suggested giving my outfits away before they become outdated, so that someone else can get some use out of it. So into the bag go the suits, and the button down shirts, and the shoes. My body is different now. Parts of it may never go back to what they were in my pre-kid life. I can accept that. Shopping can be tough, since I am not 17, nor am I 50, but most stores don't seem to cater to my age. Shopping is like a treasure hunt, and many days I'm just not up for the challenge. I prize the things I find that fit and that make me look good. But I make mistakes at the store (mostly in the age 17 category), so into the bag go those as well. Plus anything too clingy. Having kids added problems in places I didn't use to consider problem areas. And, when the bags go out of the closet, all of sudden, I've got room to breathe! It was sad to see some of my stuff go, but it's just stuff.

And now I have hangars. And slack, from the break I gave myself with my stuff.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Richard Simmons is singing ABBA songs to David Letterman. Wearing a very weird outfit. Wow-Richard Simmons is really weird. I think I need to stop watching....