Saturday, February 26, 2011

blessings and chaos

i want to thank you all for the tv watching affirmation in my last post. your words meant a lot to me-it's always nice to be reminded that i'm not the only mom who needs a break. and thanks for your recommendations. when census guy mentioned shawn the sheep, i couldn't believe i forgot to include it. ben loves that show, and honestly, i find it pretty amusing too. we're big wallace and grommit fans, tim especially, so anything nick park creates is going to be a hit around here.

i didn't hit my self-imposed post deadline this week. life has been full in good and annoying ways. but that is, of course, life. i really enjoying writing, but carving out the time or brain power is often a struggle. i can't have long periods of concentrated computer time when the boys are awake, or at least not if i want to keep my walls relatively clean of "artwork", the fridge not pillaged by two marauding beasties, or the boys from brawling. but by the time the boys are settled in bed, i feel like my brain resembles those "this is your brain on drugs" commercials from the early 90s with the fried egg. not exactly a brain that is conducive to writing.

but i think about writing all through out the day, formulating many posts that never come to fruition. i think i do this since i don't have any one to talk to-the boys don't count. once, deciding that i needed to talk to the boys instead of keeping all my thoughts in my head, i shared a business idea with ben that i had been thinking about a lot. he totally shut me down, in a nonsensical three year old kind of way. silly mom.

anyways, this is the post that has been rolling around in my head for a week. it finally gets to come out.


last saturday, me and the boys had a wedding to attend. honestly, weddings are tricky for me. they usually fall during nap time, so they require either skipping the nap (nightmare) or rearranging the daily routine, which my boys don't do very well. i usually feel frumpy at weddings compared to all the young, single, or newly married without kids gals that i compare myself to that seem to populate the weddings we go to. having been pregnant or nursing for most of the last five years, my clothes are in a constant state of not fitting quite right, and, since i'm usually holding a wiggly child or chasing one, utilitarian and practical outfits are necessary. necklines and hemlines suitable to bending over and being tugged on a lot, accessories that aren't to tempting to pull on, comfortable shoes-you get the idea. "mother of young children" and "fashionista" don't usually go together very well.

a couple of years ago, not wanting to feel frumpy for a wedding we were going to, i insisted (to myself) that i was going to get cuted up, wearing a dress and heals. although max was eating solids and i brought a sippy cup of milk for him, because he had skipped his nap and was exhausted, he was would have no part of it and was becoming a hungry, angry monster toddler. i ended up stripping in the bathroom so i could nurse him. before that, all through the dinner, ben kept touching me with his greasy fried chicken and ketchupy fingers. nothing makes a gal feel foxy quite like stripping in a bathroom or being covered in dinner debris. take that vanity!

the boys add a certain level of constant, sometimes chaotic, energy to my days, so weddings are no different. by the end of the wedding mass, or any mass, i feel like i've tried to contain two very cute, very loud, very active spider monkeys in a small space, while spectators either scowl at their antics or encourage them with giggles and waves.

at the reception, the monkeys wriggle free of my exhausted grasp and run laps, flirt, and fuel there energy with the oh so cute hershey's kisses that are strewn on all the tables. any attempts i try to make at conversation are interrupted at some point when i have to go find the boys because i can't see them anywhere. keeping somewhat constant visual confirmation on two shorties in a crowd of hundreds of people can be tricky, especially when the room has exits.

we usually come home from weddings with me feeling exhausted and frazzled, envious of the well dressed people who could just sit and have a conversation while they sipped their adult beverage, while the boys are buzzing around house, hopped up on treats and energized from all the people. oh, that, and they're hungry. because of course they didn't eat at the reception, not fond of the food and too distracted by all the people.

so like i said before, weddings are tricky for me. the refreshing thing about the wedding that we went to last weekend was that it was much of the same, and yet, very, very different.

the wedding itself was beautiful-simple, elegant, and sacred. it's difficult to describe how the ceremony felt so different than most weddings i've been to, but it did. instead of feeling like everyone wanted to get the mass part over with to get on to the real party, it was a reverent embrace of the sacrament of marriage. it spoke of sacrifice and service and real love, not just romance. and all of that was affirmed by those in attendance. (i must note, i was able to actually take in the wedding, and even *gasp* listen to the readings because i wasn't trying to contain the monkeys. tim's parents kindly kept them at their house so that max could nap.)

instead of my usual feelings of envy as i looked around at the other guests, i was inspired and thankful to be surrounded by so many good people. next to me in the pew was a dear friend who had spent the last week taking care of four sick kiddos while another one snuggled in her womb. her husband was home with the kids- that's real love. on my other side was another dear friend who was my "date" for the reception, agreeing to help me wrangle the boys- service. tim wasn't able to come, like most events and gatherings these days, because he was at work, providing for our family-sacrifice. there were more families with small children at this wedding than any other i have been to. tired parents and wiggly little ones-a celebration of life. (although, even with all those little one's, there was not a single frumpy momma in that church. beautiful, stylish, and faithful-what amazing friends!)

the reception was much of the usual for me. interrupted conversations, interrupted meal, messy hands coming at me, trying to keep track of the boys, etc. but instead of feeling jealous of everyone else who was able to act like a civilized adult, i was uplifted by the many moms and dads around me who were also in the trenches of parenting- nursing babes and chasing kids. while taking ben to the bathroom for the second time in five minutes (during dinner, of course) i had to smile and joke with the other moms in the bathroom-one changing her baby's cloth diaper and using a hand towel instead of a prefold because she hadn't had time to wash diapers, and the other, the matron of honor, taking her twin flower girls potty and trying to treat a stain in one of their dresses. at one point i couldn't see the boys, or any of the kids that they had been playing with, and started searching, feeling a little panicked. one dad noticed the "crazed momma searching for her cubs" look in my eyes and assured me that the kids were playing hide-and-go-seek. as i stood there, relieved and taking a moment to relax, right in front of me, six little ones popped out from under a table cloth and scattered in all directions. so. dang. cute.

i'm often overwhelmed by motherhood and marriage and the responsibilities of being a grown up. i'm so very, very thankful for the amazing friends and family that i have around me, living out their vocations, inspiring me with their strength and sharing our struggles and our joys.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

just call me ming ming, tasha, or uniqua

before tim went on a 13 day work trip back in december, he signed us up for a free trial of netflix. through his playstation 3, we only watch shows and videos on demand-we've never actually requested a movie in the mail. we had considered doing the free trial several times, but had avoided it because i was pretty certain we would enjoy having it and wouldn't want to give it up when the trial was over. but i didn't want to pay for the service either. well, it turns out that i was right-the free trial sucked us in and we are now subscribers.

as much as i would love for us to be a no television family, i just can't do it. ben is a very constant kid, always wanting me to do an activity or project or play a game with him. i try to engage him and keep him busy, while also trying to encourage (and sometimes force) him to have quiet time by himself, but it's just not enough. with all of the parenting/interaction falling on me most days because of tim's work schedule, i just need a break sometimes. and by sometimes, i mean several times a day. : (

before netflix, because we don't have cable, we only watched pbs and movies. i liked pbs because it was usually somewhat "educational" and because it didn't have commercials. the problem was that unless i caught a show right when it was starting, ben would be annoyed or would what to watch more than one show because he only caught a part of one. the other problem was that max was starting to develop opinions about what shows he liked and disliked (ben will watch pretty much anything the magical glowing box has to offer)and he seemed to dislike a lot of the pbs shows-especially the ones on in the late afternoon, when i need a break the most. the last thing i wanted was them arguing over the very thing that was supposed to give me a break when my sanity was at a tipping point.

(an old picture, but proof none the less of ben's total and unflinching attention to the tv.)

netflix to the rescue. i can pick when we start a show and we have a larger selection of shows to watch. i try to keep our viewing times at set times of the day, other wise the boys will whine and beg for shows all the time. ben would very happily watch tv all day. and sadly, when both ben and i where sick, we did. max will watch for about one show, but after that he'll find something else to do, watching on and off. it was very strange experiencing what life would be like if i let my kids have the tv on all day-very tempting and certainly a lot less work for me, but of course not what is best for any of us.

as we explored the new shows available to us, the backyardigans became a fast favorite of both myself and the boys. if you've never seen the show, as i hadn't, this is the wikipedia plot summary:

The show is an animated musical-adventure series aimed at children between the ages of 2 and 10.[4] In each episode, the show's five friends—Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Tasha, and Austin—rely on their vivid imaginations to transform their backyard into completely different worlds, in which they go through many sorts of stories and adventures. The time-frame of the show can range from a few hours to more than one full day, but in reality, the story always ends just in time for one of them to invite the others for a snack. The imaginary story then reverts to the backyard, and the characters all rush to the house of the person who offered the snack and enter it. After a second, one or more characters open the door, quote the catchphrase specific to the episode and then close the door, ending the show. The episodes focus on music and dancing as much as they do on the stories, with each one featuring a different music genre (such as big band, reggae, Spaghetti Western, polka, Motown, and disco) and four new songs, usually with at least one rearrangement of a well-known or traditional song. For example, in the episode where Pablo, Uniqua, and Tyrone imagine they are secret agents and they are going under the laser beams of a door, they sing the "Laser Limbo Tango", which is sung to the tune of the popular Chubby Checker song, "Limbo Rock".

the songs are clever and catchy and the corresponding dances make me want to stand up and try to reenact them. i can't think of any kids shows that i actually enjoy watching, other than backyardigans. a bonus of this show is that it has really encouraged ben to use his imagination-something he really didn't do much of before. and i can't blame him-i'm totally NOT an imagination player. like, it's almost painful for me. but i'm trying to be better. the other morning we got the whole house picked up because we were pirates ( i was tasha, ben was pablo, and max was pablo two. we have to refer to each other accordingly, otherwise ben is quick to correct.) and we had to follow the treasure map from room to room searching for the treasure. (i did reward them with an m&m when we finished/found the treasure. and yes, my boys are so deprived that ONE m&m is a valid treat.)

another show that the boys really like, but i find totally annoying is wonder pets.

whenever we play an imagination game and ben dictates that we're the wonder pets characters, i always have to be ming ming, the duck with the speech impediment.

the only merit to the show is that i can sometimes get the boys to get in the car faster if i call it the "fly boat" and call them by name while singing the wonder pets song. (yes, i stoop to that level sometimes.)or when i need the boys to help me with something and sing the song "we're not too big and we're not too tough but if we work together we've got the right stuff!"

to add to the annoyance of the show, tim will often walk around the house (as does ben) quoting ming ming about how "sewius" any possible situation is. i try to skip over the wonder pets icon really fast when we're scrolling through, looking for a show to watch.

the boys also really like dora and diego, and while i find them annoying, i can ignore them much better than wonder pets.

so that's our life these days. pretty wild and exciting.

what do you do with your kiddos to keep them entertained when you need a break?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


please excuse the pictures in this post. late night pics=poor quality. but i figured sub-par pictures are better than none at all.

a couple of saturdays ago tim's sweet momma hosted a valentine making party. she had hosted one two years ago and it was so much fun, so i was really looking forward to doing it again. it is so interesting to sit around a table with other women and watch then create, have some peaceful, UNINTERRUPTED creative time to myself, and of course, just chat. i love to see the ideas that other people come up with-the creative energy really seems to brew and build.

i love to see how people's personalities come out in their projects. tim's sister had an idea of who she wanted to make her valentines for and worked accordingly, customizing each card for the recipient. i, on the other hand, just spent my time making cards that i liked, trying to incorporate different ideas and elements that i thought would be interesting, with no one in particular in mind to receive them.

one of the best parts of the morning was that tim's dad sat down with us for quite awhile and made a card for jeannie. i didn't get to see the final product-we made him hide it away until valentine's day to give to her, but i'm sure it's dazzling. i know i've said it before, but it's worth repeating- i'm so blessed to have such wonderful in-laws. they are kind and generous, and honestly, they're just fun people to be around.

(while we had all the supplies out, i made a card for some friends' wedding that is coming up. aren't their wedding invitations so cool.)

i picked these up on clearance last year-not because we watch yo gabba gabba but because i thought they were so squirrelly. since i didn't get christmas cards sent out, i've been working on sending out valentine's day cards and have fun putting these in for the kids in the families. my motivation for sending out cards, other than telling our family how much we love them, is to give them our most recent family picture.

(the frame for the picture is another one i painted. such a rewarding, cheap project.)

i'm pretty proud of myself for getting such an early start on sending out the cards. i always have such good intentions, but don't actually start trying to send out cards until right before the holiday, and then it just doesn't happen. even with the million interuptions of the boys, i'm pretty certain i'll get these finished in time. huzzah for small victories!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

summary of an away

life has been pretty full around here. family gatherings, illness, a craft project, a book read, more family time, organizing, and of course the boys. nothing too dazzling- just things that consumed the time (and energy!) i would otherwise spend writing.

family time:

for my birthday, tim's mom hosted a dinner and game night. i am so blessed to have such an amazing second family. tim very sweetly got off work a little early, then after hanging out with us for a little bit, took the boys home to put them to bed, allowing me to stay and play balderdash with tim's brother, his wife, two of their boys, and tim's uncle. they are all such clever, funny people, including the boys, and we laughed sooo hard. i couldn't believe how late we stayed up.

fortunately for me, tim then had to stay home my whole birthday weekend(!!!) because his back was really bothering him. bummer for him but totally awesome for me to get to have him around and have help with the boys-even if he was mostly restricted to the couch and recliner. having some quiet time to myself was the best present.


i've been cleaning out the house, organizing, and rearranging furniture. being stuck inside for so much of our days makes the changes exciting, even if just for a day. it amazes me how just moving one thing can distract the boys and awaken creativity.

normally i am a saver, and tim is big time, but lately, i have been cleaning out a lot of stuff. our house isn't huge and i want to make the most of the space that we do have. more than toys, the boys seem to need space. to run, wrestle, jump, and play. with all their busy buzzing about, i seem to need more open space too.

crafty time:

one of my college roommates was expecting a little girl at the end of january and i knew i wanted to make her something. i had really been wanting to try to make a bunting for awhile, but just wasn't very motivated. when i visited jenny in december and saw the nursery, i knew exactly what the blank wall above the crib needed. when baby piper came early, i had to kick the bunting up the priority list.

i was so happy with how it turned out, but couldn't get a good picture of it. (not that i tried very hard. i was really eager to get it in the mail.)

i used this tutorial as my starting point, but because i have a complete inability to follow directions, i had to make some changes.

instead of running the string through it, i used bias tape to finish the top. i think this was easier and bonus-i already had the bias tape. i think my mom had given it to me a couple of years ago when she moved and majorly purged her craft room. (proof of my hoarding.) i also changed the measurements and hand embroidered the letters.

it was really hard for me to slow down on this project and really take the time to do it right-ironing all the pieces, hand embroidering, double sided with finished edges. i tend to like fast projects, so when this one dragged on for several days, i had to fight my impatience. i'm so glad i did. and most importantly, jenny really likes it. (and i'm sure piper does too.)


tim, being the sweet guy that he is, picked up anthony bourdain's kitchen confidential for me from the library. we like watching his show on netflix, not so much for his personality, but for the places he goes and the food. because of his personality on the show, i was hesitant to read the book, certain it was going to be pretty crass. when i finally picked it up, i was quickly proven right. i almost stopped reading it several times-i really dislike vulgarity. but when he's not describing the way the kitchen staff talks to each other or his personal life, the food and restaurant parts were pretty interesting. i like food and i like reading about food.

more family time:

for my goddaughter's first birthday, i had her and her siblings over for dinner so her parents could have a break. really, i just wanted an excuse to snuggle and kiss and smush her with love.

sometimes i offer things before i really think them out. dinner by myself with five kiddos ages 4, 4, 3, 2, and 1 certainly wasn't a very logical way to spend my evening. but we all survived and i got the snuggles i needed.

as a bonus, i got to take some pictures of the "quilt" i made for my goddaughter when she was born. like with the bunting, i was hasty in giving it to her and never got any pictures. along with the quilt, i gave her an outfit that said "sweet pea", so that was kind of the theme for the quilt.

she didn't like being put down. i quickly accommodated her with more snuggles.

and of course the boys:

they're still alive. and cute. and making me crazy. ben is sick right now. the other night i heard him crying in his bed and when i went to check on him, i got to feel the cold squish of vomit between my toes. ah the joys of parenting.

so that's what we've been up to. now to tackle february.

i'm going to try posting weekly, with wednesday as my goal. i won't go into the overly extensive analysis that led to this decision. but that's my goal.