my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

December 30, 2011

christmas super fun time, part two

i will now pick up where i left off, with eating cinnamon rolls just after ripping into everything santa and bubba and pap had given them. if you missed part one, click here.

so, after cleaning up from the shredded confetti of colorful paper, and trying to convince they boys they did not need every single present opened at once, we settled into waiting for the rest of the family to show up. it was a long night for those that played santa, as in my hubby and his dad, so while they napped, i tried to help bubba with dinner.

then all of my sister-in-laws showed up with all their kids. and we all exchanged presents with each other and all the young ones. and then set up dinner and ate and cleaned up. and there was toasting and deliciousness and cuteness and fun. and i probably wouldn't have gotten through all of it if they hadn't needed ice, because i was able to graciously volunteer to run for it, which enabled me to score free coffee from sheetz.

and then everybody went to visit with all the other family they had to go and see. and suddenly it seemed so quiet and late and everybody was ready for bed, even though it was only 6pm. so instead we sat down with the kids and watched the first two "home alone" movies, which my hubby has always loved, and "mr. popper's penguins," which the boys thought was hilarious. and that was christmas day.

we got up on the 26th, and i packed and got everything ready to go, because we were supposed to do a christmas dinner at my moms' that night. and then we waited. and waited. and waited.

see, my father-in-law is a skilled mechanic. and on saturday he had started fixing the breaks on our van. but the one part was wrong, and he needed something different. but the store closed early on saturday, and wasn't open on sunday, and so we needed to wait until monday for him to finish. it was supposed to be quick and easy, and we were hoping to be on the road by noon, 1pm at the latest.

unfortunately, something was wrong. and he tried to fix it. then he took the parts off and got different parts. and then he tried again. and something was still wrong. and he took it all apart again, and tried something else. and nothing was working. and it was getting late. we were supposed be at my moms' by 4pm, but it was 4 and we hadn't even left yet. and then it was 5pm, and he still didn't know what was wrong.

in the end we had to borrow my sister-in-law's car, and finally were able to leave. and we eventually got to my moms', even though we were almost 5 hours late. and the kids were understandably moody, because i had given them snacks, but made them wait to eat so we could actually have christmas dinner with my moms and sisters like we were supposed to, which finally happened just after 9pm. and they were overly excited to see everything else santa had left for them. and it just spiraled out of control, fluctuating between wanting more presents and not wanting anymore christmas ever.

well after such a fun and eventful day, we all slept in very late. and we still made it to my dad's in time for our planned christmas celebration with him on the 27th. it was nice and laid back and it was just good to hang out without having to worry about what was coming next, because it was the last christmas of the season.

and the kids made out like crazy on the presents front. so many toys and games and clothes. so much that we didn't actually open everything. and i'm not really sure we will open everything until we have a house of our own to put it all in.

all in all, things went better than i thought they would. monday was the only day that things got a little out of hand. and that was the day the kids ended up overly stimulated and tired. otherwise the boys did very well. fishie behaved like any almost two year old would.

so i'm thankful that we had a happy and safe holiday.

but mostly i'm thankful i don't have to worry about christmas for a whole year.

December 28, 2011

christmas super fun time, part one

i suppose, after all the worrying and complaining i did about christmas, i should post something about how things went for us. honestly, things went better than i thought they would, though there were some very sticky patches.

i suppose i'll just give all the details, starting with the 23rd. well actually, i'll mention that the boys stayed with my dad and paula overnight on the 22nd, because he always likes to keep them sometime around the holidays and take them shopping so they can pick out things for my hubby and i. so most of the night of the 22nd was washing clothes and packing, making sure all the presents were wrapped, and trying not to forget anything. which is honestly impossible for me, because i always forget something. this time it was lumpy's medicine, so thank goodness for rite aid and refills.

anyway, so i get up early on the 23rd, go pick up bumble, and take him to his doctor's appointment in the morning. then i come back to the house to finish packing. eventually my hubby wakes up, my dad and paula bring lumpy home, and we load up the car and head off to my in-laws' house.

instead of jumping right into christmas festivities, we have a surprise birthday party for lumpy, as his actual birthday is a week before christmas, but with the way things are, none of our friends and family from uptown were able to make the party we had here. so, hubby takes all the kids bowling, and i set up for a surprise party, with pizza and cake and fun like that. things went as well as they usually do, but i got a real treat later in the evening. my dear mother-in-law said she would watch all of my kids so hubby and i could go have an "adult night out" with some friends we rarely get to hang out with anymore.

after the fun of friday, i did not exactly get an early start on saturday. but still, there was plenty of time to get back to my mother-in-law's to get the kids ready for christmas eve service. my kiddies looked adorable, the boys so handsome in their ties, and fishie so cute in her dress and patent leather shoes. after service, it was just the kids and my hubby and his parents, so we watched some christmas specials, had some cookies and egg nog and got everything ready for santa. and i still got to read the boys "twas the night before christmas," which has been our tradition since they were little.

well, the next morning they got up and santa came! in truth, dear bumble, my early bird, got up before the sun and went down to check and make sure santa had actually found them. then he sat on the edge of my bed, waiting for me to get up too. that's another lovely christmas tradition.

after waiting forever for their dad to get up, the kids were finally able to open their presents. we took their stockings and a few little things uptown with us, but left most of the big stuff back home, because it would have been just too much to travel with. i even made sure "santa" left a note explaining there were presents waiting for them at the grammies' house. so they were satisfied.

and we had cinnamon rolls and egg nog for our special christmas breakfast. so even though it wasn't french toast, i was still satisfied.

the rest of our christmas exploits i think i will leave for another time. because though christmas day was fun, the events of the 26th were just epic.

December 22, 2011

i feel muzzled... again...

i've felt like this before, and it's why i left for so long. now it's the same all over again.

so many things i want to say, so many things i know i need to keep to myself.

maybe it's just that i don't like to share. maybe it's just that i've gotten myself in trouble for telling too much in the past, and i don't want to do it again. maybe, even though i feel like ranting about certain things, i still believe it's nobody's dang business. maybe i just don't want to look bad, or crazy, or bitchy, in the eyes of others.

i know i know, that's a lot of maybes.

i want to complain but i care too much about what others think.

i also want to complain, but feel like i don't have the right to say anything. i am the one that has gotten myself into this mess, so i have no one to blame but myself for this state of affairs. i'm also the only one that can really change things, so needlessly complaining would just sound whiny and annoying.

so here i am, complaining about complaining. or wanting to complain. or the fact that i want to say  something but i can't.

i'm just as bad as those girls on facebook that post cryptic messages about how something's wrong but people have to guess what, or about wanting to be left alone while seeking attention. oh gods, how i hate those girls.

December 7, 2011

love is worth fighting about

this has been something that has been on my mind for a long while now.

i know they say that love is worth fighting for. that if there is something  you love, something you need in your life and you just can't live without, then you need to fight to keep it. really, that's what love for me, the willingness to go against all odds to make sure you never lose the thing you love. because if  you really didn't love it, you wouldn't fight to keep it so close. and you wouldn't be so upset if that thing was taken from you by forces beyond your control.

now, the flip side of that is that love is also fighting, at least when people and relationships are concerned. if you really love someone, you're going to fight with them eventually, and i personally think that is part of a healthy and normal relationship. if you don't fight, you don't love.

of course, i don't mean abuse, i don't mean physical violence, or emotional, or being overly controlling. that's not fighting. fighting is two-sided, fighting is give and take. when it is all one-sided, it is time to step back and realize that there is something very wrong and broken in your "loving" relationship.

still, fighting is good. nobody gets along all the time. nobody agrees all the time. and even those closest to us, those who's views are most similar to us, there is always going to be something there that you won't agree about. and if you don't fight about your disagreements, if you don't fight for what you believe, then it's not something important. or the person you're disagreeing with isn't that important.

maybe i have a slightly skewed view of fighting in relationships, though i feel like it's true for most of the people that i know. i really believe that everybody fights. if you can't come to an agreement, then yes, fighting is futile and harmful. but if you argue, it doesn't mean your relationship is doomed. i think it's more when you stop fighting that there is something to worry about. when the one you love isn't interested enough to disagree and argue and fight with you, when they just nod along to whatever you say, that's when you know the end of your relationship is near.

at least, that's what i believe. and i try to convince my husband of that whenever we start fighting. i fight because i care. it's crazy, but true.

November 24, 2011


i feel like i have pressure all around me, people pushing in from all sides. all these tasks and responsibilities that i'm supposed to do, everything i need to take care of right now!

but i can't do it all, i know i can't. i can try, and i can drive myself crazy with the stress and the worry from trying. but i really don't want to do that. i've done that for so long, and i don't want to live like that anymore.

and i know that people aren't being mean about asking all of this from me. it's just they don't realize that their one more little favor that they want and need combines with somebody else's one quick little thing that they want me to do. and then there's somebody else and somebody else. add all of that on top of all the regular day to day things that i need to do to keep my family running and there just aren't enough hours in a day.

so i'm going to try and take a break. i'm going to step back and take a breather and let a few things slide. and i'm going to try to explain to everybody that i'm just one person, that i really can't be expected to get everything done on my own. i need help. or less to do. or a vacation. you know, something to help me destress.

i need to think about me for awhile. and in doing that, i'm going to have to let a few things fall until i can come back around and pick them all up. this blog will be one of those things.

because even if i don't update every other day, which has been my goal, or even every few days, it's no big deal. even if it turns into a post a week, it's not the end of the world. i mean, it's not like anybody will notice anyway.

November 16, 2011

happy cake day

on friday i made a cake for my mom. there was a reason for making it, but really, i was just in the mood to make a cake. had it not been a special day for my mom, i would have come up with some other excuse, like the fact that it was friday. and the weather was nice. and any excuse is a good excuse to make a cake.

this cake, though, was supposed to be for my mother. and so i wanted to make it especially for her. hence i decided to make a snickers cake, because snickers bars are one of her favorite candies. really though, i can't call it a snickers cake so much as a cake decorated with snickers.

it was a chocolate cake with caramel frosting, and i sprinkled chopped snickers bars on top. i used my favorite cake mix, pillsbury super moist chocolate, because unless i am serving the cake plain, i see no reason to make it from scratch. the pillsbury mix is always consistant, stays moist, and stands up to flipping and carving better than my favorite scratch recipe.

this time i also used a canned frosting. normally, i am totally against the icing that comes in those plastic tubs (icing, frosting, whatever you call it), because it usually has a processed flavor and a greasy finish that coats your mouth instead of melting on your tongue. but i found one that was caramel flavored, which is something i wanted to try. and to make caramel icing from scratch would have been way more work than i wanted on friday. i have to admit, i was pleasantly surprised, this frosting was not too bad, so i'll add it to the very short list of already made icings that i'm willing to use. the rest of the list is that coconut kind that goes on german chocolate cake, because whenever i've tried to make it from scratch i can never get the consistency right.

like i said, to make it a "snickers cake," i chopped up snickers bars and put them on top. had i really wanted to make it a "snickers cake," and had i thought about it ahead of time, i would have melted some snickers bars into the cake batter. or i would have put chopped snickers between the layers. or maybe threw some honey roasted peanuts into the cake batter, and spread caramel between the cake layers. so many variations, so many wasted opportunities.

still, it was a very yummy cake. and it made for a happy day. and of course, there's always next time.

November 15, 2011

it's candy time

every year, i make candy for the holidays. part of the reason behind it is because it's a cheap and easy gift. part of it is because some of the people on my holiday list are impossible to shop for, and candy is something that is a hit. a large part of the reason i make candy is because i truly enjoy making it, and this way i can make it and give it away to grateful people without having to worry about it hanging around the house for me to eat myself.

normally, at this time of year, i would be worrying and thinking about and obsessing over pie. for the past five years, i have been in charge of making pies for thanksgiving dinner, and so i start at the end of october thinking about the different variations of pies, what little tweaks i'll try, which crust recipe i'll use. the reason is because for the past five years, we have been going to my in-laws' for thanksgiving dinner, and though she is an amazing cook, my mother-in-law lacks some skill in the baking department.

this year things are all turned around. this year we will be doing thanksgiving with my extended family, because this year we will be doing christmas weekend with my in-laws. so instead of being able to use pies as a distraction, i have filled that hole with thoughts of candy.

yesterday, i started the process with a test batch of chocolate peanut butter fudge. it didn't come out how i hoped, but i have weeks yet to perfect it. i'm still drawing up my final list of types to make, and there are a few more test batches i want to try. i still need to get my list of recipes together so i can get my ingredients from the store, but i have time. i might not be in the mood to really count down to christmas this year, but i'm always in the mood for candy.

November 10, 2011

irresponsible or pointless?

as some of you may know, my dear lumpy has what is considered by his doctors to be a cronic condition. he takes medicine everyday, and has for years. and i dutifully dose it out to him, no matter how gross he says it tastes. but am i being irresponsible for not getting him some of the optional, but conisdered a good idea, medicine, or am i justified in sparing him the pain of a shot for something that seems totally pointless?

i suppose a bit of background information might make the situation a bit clearer.

in march of 2009, lumpy got sick. he was in preschool, his brother was in kindergarten, so i thought it was just the basic bug that gets passed around. it couldn't be the flu, because i had gotten him a flu shot that year, just like every year. he was listless and tired and stuffy, and he was running a low-grade fever that i was treating with tylenol, as per his doctor's instructions. well, while i was at bumble's swimming lesson, lumpy was home, watched by his bubba. she said he was walking through the living room and just collapsed, and when she tried to stand him up, he was confused and disoriented.

after my hubby and i rushed him to the e.r., after waiting in the waiting room, after they took us back to get his vitals, that's when the nightmare started. it went from one nurse with a stethoscope to a team of people, hooking up oxygen and a blood pressure cuff, bombarding me with questions about what meds i'd given him and how long he'd been like this. it turns out he had pneumonia, and the hospital we went to didn't have a pediatric unit, so we were shipped to a different one. after staying there 48 hours, they decided to ship us to the special children's hospital, because there was talk of having to intibate him because his blood oxygen level wasn't coming up and they didn't know what other treatments to try.

he was released a week later, and we were told that he had contracted the flu and the pneumonia was a complication from his body fighting the infection. it was left at that, and i was told that i just needed to watch him over the summer and make sure that he didn't develop asthma, as could happen in kids his age.

fast forward to october 2009, when he started getting sick again. this time i was more ready, i knew the symptoms to look for, and so i took him to his pediatrician right away.

that's when his pediatrician looked him over, pretty much laughed that i didn't take him straight to the hospital, and called an ambulance to transport us. it seems he had pneumonia again. and it was again thought to be a complication from him having the flu, even though i had gotten him a flu shot again. so the hospital did breathing treatments and we were released a week later. also, being that he had the same condition in a six month span, he was labelled "chronic" and "high-risk" and i was given a card to see a slew of specialists to figure out why my otherwise healthy boy kept getting so sick.

over the next two years, he has seen breathing specialists and asthma specialists and allergy specialists. we were told that he doesn't have asthma, because he doesn't have shortness of breathe or any of the other symptoms. though they have him on a daily inhaler. and he did not have a reaction to any of the allergines they tested, but he has high levels of immunoglobulin antibodies, so he is allergic to "something," and gets to take daily allergy medication. he also had many chest xrays done, and his lungs look perfect, so no malformations. and yet, because the doctors still can't figure out exactly what is wrong and why he gets sick, we also have a rescue inhaler and special procedures to follow and extra medicine to take if we think he might be getting sick again.

he has been doing very well, growing and thriving. he is larger than the average 6 year old, and he is very active with no ill-effects. in fact, he had been doing so well, his pulmonary specialist said we could take a break from his medicine this summer. so for the month of august, he didn't take any of his medicine. he had no breathing problems, but what's more, he was so calm, and he could focus, and he could sleep. the side effects of all of his medications are that they make him so hyper and high strung.

unfortunately, the summer isn't the hard time for him. it's when the seasons change, from winter to spring and from summer to fall, it's march and october that are still the hardest. and so now he is back on all his medication. and i miss my sweet little boy from the summer when staring in the face of his wound up, strung out twin. but the one thing i've latched onto in learning about his condition with no name is that most of the kids that have it eventually grow out of it. whatever happens in their bodies that cause it changes when they hit puberty. and especially since he never developed real asthma, he should eventually be able to live medicine free.

now, after all of that, i suppose i should get to the point of this post, which is that i did not get a flu shot for him this year. he has had flu shots every year before this, but he has contracted the flu before. twice which we are certain of, and once, before, that i'm pretty sure about. so i wonder, is it irresponsible not to get him vaccinated against an illness he has such problems with, or is it pointless to force him to get a shot that doesn't always do much good?

November 9, 2011

"happy" christmas

it's not even december yet, and i already want to be done with christmas. all the stores have drug out their holiday merchandise, all the toy catalogs are coming in the mail, not to mention the commercials and specials and music filling every aspect of my life. i am sick of it.

true, i get sick of christmas every year. the overwhelming holiday spirit always gets to be too much. and the commercialization seems to get shoved further down our throats every year. but this year, this year is especially hard.

i feel like christmas really won't be real, because i won't be able to give my kids the christmas that i want to give them. sure, i'll be able to do some of the special stuff that has become a tradition with us, but it just won't be the same. i can't bring myself to dig through the stack of boxes to find where our christmas stuff is packed, so i won't be bringing out any of our personal decorations. i even told the boys i would let them pick out new stockings this year so i don't have to dig for their old ones. the boys are thrilled, and obviously not as sentimental as i am.

so, besides all these new fun feelings of inadequacy, all the old feelings are coming to the surface also. there are always so many toys and games and presents that i want to get for the kids, but i feel the need to hold back so we don't break the bank. more-so this year, because in the next few months we hope to be buying a house. my husband, on the other hand, feels that, to make up for the lack of a home, he will buy out the store to give the kids the kind of christmas they deserve.

now, our kids are great and wonderful, and i'll be the first to say that i want the best for them, but they have so many toys they don't even play with, some sitting in boxes with the rest of their stuff that they don't even realize are missing, so i just don't feel like going out and buying them all this new stuff. especially since i know i'll be the one packing it up eventually. so i've been trying to rein in my hubby's spending, trying to explain my point of view while also getting him to understand that i totally see where he's coming from, but all of this has become a sore spot between us. which brings more stress that i just don't need.

and then of course are the logistics of planning for all the christmas celebrations, trying to find time to spend with all of the families, trying to make all the grandparents happy. this is an impossibility, one i have conceded to long ago. it's just a matter of sticking to the plans i have set and understanding that i will be upsetting some along the way. which just feels more and more like a fact of life.

November 8, 2011

green-eyed moster

i really don't like to be petty. i don't like be jealous of others, of what they have or what the get to do, or don't have to do as the case sometimes is. it's not that i don't feel these things, but i try to be above them, try not to let them bother me. i especially try not to let them dictate my actions toward others.

there will always be people that have more than me. there will always be people that will get the help with their responsibility that i wish i had. and there seems to be people that will ignore their responsibilities, and i will always feel the need to pick up the slack.

i understand that these are just facts of life, there will always be things that we want in this life, that we want better and more and what someone else has. and i really try not to let it bother me, but it's hard sometimes. really really hard.

especially when there are people that wave in front of your face what they have and you do not, because part of their enjoyment comes from knowing that people are jealous of what they have.

worse for me, though, are the people that do it without knowing. they are the people that have and do, and go around their life normally, but still i am forced to see it every day. and in most cases i am forced to act like it's not a big deal, like everything is normal, even though i wish that i was their shoes.

i know that most people have these feelings sometimes. that if we didn't want more in our lives, we wouldn't strive to do better and be better. and sometimes i have to stop all my self-pity and realize that i am lucky compared to some. i have things and do things that might make other people jealous.

still that is small comfort in the face of seeing all the things that i want and having to be happy for the people that have them. because some of them did work hard and sacrifice a lot to be where they are today, and i know the right thing is to be happy for them. even if i wish i was in their shoes.

November 3, 2011

a very sweet distraction

i have enough stress and drama in my life right now, and i'm getting worn out worrying about it all the time. so, for the moment, i've decided to focus my thoughts on the one constant happy in my life: my ability to make good cookies.

yeah, i know, it might seem trivial to some, but baking has always helped set my mind right. and i know i've talked about it before, but baking is where my mind always goes when i need to reduce the stress in my life. baking is the one constant, the one thing i can always count on. as long as i follow the recipe, i am guaranteed that good things will come.

even though i haven't been baking as much as i used to, just looking over recipes and planning future kitchen experiments helps to set things right in my head. maybe it's just that thinking about cookies gives me something to focus on. or maybe it's just that cookies are my ultimate comfort food, all warm and sweet, with soft centers and crispy edges. or that there are so many different kinds of cookies, usually no matter what i've got in my pantry, i can always make a cookie. i have recipes that are egg free or flour free or butter free, so make cookies doesn't mean stress about lack of ingredients, it just means getting a little creative. and getting creative in the kitchen in one of my personal pleasures.

i believe that everyone has something in their life that helps them de-stress. people talk about closing their eyes and finding their happy place in times of worry. baking in the kitchen is definitely my happy place. the act of baking is enough to calm me, but the cookies are a pretty sweet a bonus. and knowing that i can make others happy, just by sharing, helps too.

i know the saying goes that misery loves company, but for me, whenever i'm baking in the kitchen, i can't help but share the cookie love. i think if more people shared their happiness with others, the world would be a better place.

November 1, 2011

i corrupt my boys with music, but only let them watch preschool tv

i have always been careful what i let my boys watch on tv. for a while i wouldn't let them watch many movies because they scare easily and i was tired of dealing with them waking up screaming that something was going to get them. i can remember that even "finding nemo" would make lumpy hide behind the couch when the sharks came on. even when watching movies as a family, i used a very limited selection, because i really didn't feel like trying to explain what was happening in some of those "adult situations." some considered me over protective. i was even told that "a kid's got to learn sometime," which i suppose is technically the truth, but silly me wanting to be the one to teach them when i know they are ready to learn.

lately, i've been more careful about what tv shows they watch. adult sitcoms are out for the same reason most movies are, but i've had to start limiting some of the cartoon shows that they want to watch. yes, my kids understand what cartoon violence is, and that i really have no problem with. it's all the annoying jokes and catch phrases, the potty language and sound effects at the dinner table, the running around yelling and screaming at top volume, most of the shows today really get my kids wound up. a lot of the shows they want to watch are TV-Y7, which is supposed to be shows that they can handle for their age, but i just don't like how they act after watching them. honestly, i feel like they get enough bad influences from their friends at school, i don't feel the need to let them rot their brains at home.

now, for as careful as i am about tv and movies, you'd think i'd be just as selective with the music i let them listen to.

the truth is that i'm not. i let them listen to whatever i listen to, which is mostly alt rock. but somehow, with music, it's different. music doesn't make them act out. and they don't quote all the bad words that they hear in the song lyrics. we sing and dance along and have fun with music, but for whatever reason, it doesn't seem to have any ill effects on my boys.

and honestly, i never really gave the matter much thought until we made a cd for bumble to listen to on his player in his bed room. sitting down together, he was describing the songs he wanted and i had to supply my hubby with the titles and artists, because it's definitely more my music than his (though he did sneak a few country songs on there). bumble said he wanted the creepy one with kids singing about tearing the world down ("virgin" by manchester orchestra), the "faster than my bullet" song ("pumped up kicks" by foster the people), and few old green day songs that of course we couldn't find radio edited versions of.

it's definitely not the musical tastes of an average 8 year old, but, for as bad as some of those lyrics are, i don't think they're worse than a lot of the pop songs that other kids are into. and listening to this style of music is something my boys and i do together, which i think is the most important thing of all.

October 27, 2011

raising kids these days

i recently saw a commercial advertising a math program for your preschooler. it's supposed to help teach them counting and basic addition. it says it's supposed to "give your kids a jump start," to make sure they're ready for school.

when my boys entered kindergarten, they weren't required to know any of that. in fact, in the beginning, they just worked on writing and recognizing their numbers and shapes. it was only at the end of the year that they touched on basic addition. in fact, lumpy is in first grade and they're still just working on basic addition.

i know there is a lot of competition in school these days, that kids are being pushed farther and faster than when i was in school. i've read articles about how america is behind the rest of the world in maths and sciences, about how are schools are lacking and something needs to be done if our children are going to be competitive in tomorrow's world market. i've heard about all of the challenges that they'll face, trying to get in a good school so they can get a good job, and how if they don't start early they'll be on the wrong track for the rest of their life.

i've also read articles and studies about how kids just need to be kids. about how playing games and using their imaginations are just as important for their development as all the studying that is recommended. about how they need to be silly and have fun and there's no reason to rush the growing-up process.

with all this contradictory advice, what exactly are you supposed to do? i believe all of the pressure put on kids equates to pressure for parents. aren't we responsible for their upbringing? don't we help to make sure that they succeed? then too, aren't we responsible for their failures? how do you know if you should push your kids harder or just let them have fun? how early is too early to push the fundamentals of learning? is it ok to let them watch educational tv shows and play learning computer games, or is it more important to restrict screen time?

the bigger question for me is what do you do when you child is average? that no matter what you've done, how much help you gave, what expenses you went to, they are still as good as they will ever be. are we becoming a culture where being average is looked down on, and exceptional is the new standard?

seriously, if anybody has any answers, please share, because all of this is making my head spin.

October 25, 2011

home for the holidays

there is so much i want to talk about. like visiting all the inlaws over the weekend because my sister-in-law finallly got married. or all the crazy fun halloween plans that we have for this week. or how amazingly grown my fishie seems. or maybe about some of my worries for my dear bumble.

but no, instead i'll talk about what is forefront in my mind at the moment, how i just want a house of my own again. and about how i don't think i'll have one in time for christmas. and how that thought is like daggers in my heart.

a bit of backstory is probably necessary for those that don't know me in real life: at the beginning of september, tropical storm lee parked his lazy butt right over central pa, which is where i happen to reside. there was much craziness and flooding, we were forced to evacuate, and it was a week before the waters went down enough to assess the damages and figure out exactly what it all meant for us. the flooding damaged my house so that we had to move out until we fixed everything. after talking with my husband, we decided that the house we had wasn't really worth fixing, that it would be better to try and sell it as-is and find a new place to live. this wasn't a decision we made lightly, but we were outgrowing the house, and though the flooding from the tropical storm was as high as i've ever seen the waters get, it wasn't the first time we had to leave because the roads to my place were underwater. all in all, we decided it would be best for us and our children to find a better, safer home.

the selling of the old house is a saga (and a post) all it's own, but this post is about trying to get a mortgage. about how my husband and i made some terribly bad decisions, about how we didn't understand how all our bad choices would really affect our credit for years to come. so getting a mortgage wasn't as straight forward as we thought it would be. i know now how silly and naive our outlook was. i'm beginning to understand now how long the financing process is. how we'll be lucky to be in our own house in six months.

the wait and frustration is just getting to be too much some days. filling out forms, making phone calls, getting all the required information together, at least all of that gives me something to do. it's the waiting that's the worst. right now i have to wait until november 8th before we check to see what else they need, what more forms there will be, what other hoops we need to jump through.

what this all really means is that we probably won't have a home of our own for the holidays. my moms are wonderful, letting us live with them until we get our situation all sorted out, but they have their own traditions and we have our own. and it just won't be the same staying at somebody else's house. it won't be our tree, with our ornaments. i'm not even sure which box has the kids' stockings in it, where "twas the night before christmas" got packed, where the plate for cookies for santa is.

every year i feel like i let my kids down around the holidays. there is so much i want to do for them, want to get for them. there is always a long list of things that don't get done. but this year i already know it will be so much worse. because all i want to get my kids for christmas is a home of our own, so they can have their own place. so i can unpack all of their toys and games and crafts. so that we don't feel like guests staying somewhere, but are actually living somewhere. and i already know that i am going to fail.

October 20, 2011

a new kind of normal

i know i know, it's been a good long while since i've posted anything here. my life has just been absolutely crazy. you know, what with all the things and stuff that have been happening.

or i just let myself get really lazy.

anyway, i'm back! kind of and mostly. really, i've been falling down the rabbit hole of the bloggy world again. i used to follow like 20 blogs a day. and it started taking up all of my time. so i tried to cut back, and only follow the ones that i really liked, or that were really interesting, or that i really connected with, or were written by interesting people that i liked. which meant i was still following like 15 blogs a day. way too many for me to follow and still get my day to day stuff done.

so i did what was the only reasonable option to me, i quit cold turkey. i stopped following all blogs, even my innocent little foodie blogs.

and because i wasn't reading other people's blogs, i didn't feel the need to write in mine.

and now, seven months later, i find myself with a bit more free time. fishie is older and can entertain herself. i can trust that if i leave the room she won't have caught the house on fire... probably. so i've started back up with my blog reading. and as makes sense in my own crazy head, that means writing here again also.

a lot has changed in the months that this blog went into a holding pattern. the basic day to day of my life has totally changed do to unforeseen circumstances. and of course the kids have grown and changed, as kids will do. but mostly my outlook has changed. i really care less about living up to other people's expectations. because i have realized that there are some people i will never please, and some people that will never be happy with what i do and how i live. people are giving me advice and their suggestions, and i totally have the option of not listening to a word they say. i can do my own thing, and my children aren't going to suffer for it. because really, who better than their mother knows what is good for them and how to make them happy?

so i'm changing things up in my life. a change that is long overdue. because when so much else is changing, what's one more?

March 27, 2011

the reason i write

i am afraid. afraid to say the things that i want to, afraid to say the things that i probably should. i have so many thoughts swirling inside of my head, just crying to get out. and yet, i try to hold them all in.

because of certain events in my past, i am very careful with how much i say, with what i reveal of the true inner workings of my brain. my own thoughts and words have been my downfall, and i learned hard lessons i do not want to repeat.

though part of me wonders if i am just chicken. if i am afraid for no reason. surely those that i have surrounded myself with now are much more understanding, much more reasonable people. they wouldn't dare to jump to conclusions and twist my words. i should trust in them, and trust in myself that the people i choose to consort with are the kind of people that will know what i mean and won't run from me shrieking or try to use my words and thoughts against me.

i know full well the consequences my rambling, runaway mouth can have. if nothing else, i know i have caused needless worry, because people read too deeply into what i say. they add extra weight and meaning. it is why my dear husband won't read these words here, even if i asked him to, because he and i both know that he is most guilty of that kind of behavior. i have tried to explain that most of what is here is just random bits that i need to get out. once out, i am done and more content.

what confuses me the most when people worry over what i write is the fact that they were never worried before. i don't think that people need to be worried in the first place, but these thoughts that are here, they are always with me, it's just now i am sharing them with you. of course i realize you wouldn't worry about things that you didn't know were there, but nothing has changed in me other than what was inside is now out.

this is my outlet, it's really why i write at all. i worry and obsess and fret and freak out, all on the inside, until i am ready to burst. and so, as a cheap form of therapy, i write what is on my mind, what is worrying me, what thoughts i just can't let go. and when these are out of my head and on paper or on screen, these ideas seems much smaller and more manageable, they don't worry me so much.

so as i've said, i don't share to worry others, i share to vent. these are not signs that things are taking a turn for the worse, in sharing i look at it as exorcising demons so that i am better in the end.

March 25, 2011

things no one ever warns you about

my boys are close. close in age (only 15 months apart), close in size, and physically close because they share a room and all their toys.

they also have vivid imaginations. though, when lumpy was younger, i was worried because he really wasn't very good with imaginative play. he never really initiated any games, he always let bumble create whole worlds and he would just join in. they even shared an imaginary friend that bumble made up.

her name was maya, and she was a yellow dinosaur who was sometimes bigger than them, and other times she could fit in their pocket. usually one of them had to call her on one of the toy phones so that she could come over. one of the more surreal fights i had to break up was when lumpy said that bumble wouldn't let him talk to maya on the phone anymore, that she wasn't allowed to be his friend, she was only bumble's.

it was one of those moments in parenting they really don't warn you about. and one of those moments that i really wasn't sure what to do. if they had been fighting over a physical toy, i could handle that. i've had much experience with that. fighting over an imaginary friend's affections was something i wasn't prepared to deal with.

eventually lumpy created his own set of imaginary friends. he called them his "ant friends," because, realist that he is, they were imaginary ants. he would call them and talk to them and play with them. he would pretend they were driving his matchbox cars and living in the lego cities that he'd build. he then took it even further, and started blaming his ant friends for leaving his toys out when he was supposed to put them away.

my boys, creative like they are, still have imaginary fights that they want me to deal with. they've both become very interested in transformers, and now like to pretend that they are transformers fighting other transformers. but sometimes they can't agree on the rules of the fight, and one will say that they are on different sides and that they have to pretend to shoot at each other. then the other will say that they are still on the same side fighting an imaginary enemy. or one found a gun that makes the other one lose power and that means he's winning and the other is losing. or there are any number of other arguments about the details of their imaginary world.

and they come to me to make peace. usually i give them the age-old line that if they can't play nice, they shouldn't play together at all. or i try to distract them with a puzzle or board game or art project.

the best part is when they have these imaginary fights when my hubby is home and awake. because after they explain why they're fighting and what is going on, he looks at me and asks "really?"

because he can't believe this is what they fight about.

and i answer with "yes, really."

because this is what my life has become.

March 24, 2011

the winds of change are blowing through... in my head

lately, i've been looking at all parts of my life, trying to figure out what i could change, what i could start doing differently, even what i should change. i'm not sure why, but recently i've just been feeling a little "off". i feel like things have changed, or are going to change, that there is something going on around me, even though i'm not sure exactly what.

am i the only one that every gets that feeling? that the world is suddenly spinning faster, that something is happening, somehow, somewhere, behind the scenes where we can't exactly make out what it is.

the worst part is that this kind of feeling always gets the crazy in me going. maybe everybody else but me already knows exactly what is happening and they just assume i know too. or they're all purposely keeping me in the dark. or they're all plotting against me, and this is all part of their master plan. or there really isn't anything going on, and it's only me that thinks there is, and everything is completely normal to everyone else.

so i try to keep my mouth shut in times like these, lest the crazy come out and i get all sorts of dirty looks.

still, it is spring, the time when the whole natural world changes. so maybe it is time for a change in me too.

March 18, 2011

my st. patrick's day meal

yesterday was st. patrick's day, and i was totally going to talk about delicious irish food. sadly i didn't have this post ready to go yesterday, so i figured i'd just save it for today. i'd like to blame it on all the whiskey and guinness i drank, but with kids like mine, i find it best to remain as sober as possible when dealing with them, so no alcohol passed these lips.

anyway, growing up we had a tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage and dyed green mashed potatoes on st. patrick's day. unfortunately, my hubby and kids don't really like corned beef. also, i made pork and sauerkraut on monday, so i think i've already eaten my weekly allotment of cabbage product this week.

so, instead of making corned beef and cabbage, i was going to make a shepherd's pie. now for those that don't know, a shepherd's pie is a thick stew of meat and vegetables and gravy, with the whole mess covered in mashed potatoes. it's then baked until the potatoes get all nice and crispy on top, staying creamy in the middle. it's hearty and satisfying, and i personally really enjoy it.

one very important fact about shepherd's pie is that it is made with lamb or mutton. it makes sense that shepherds would eat the kind of meat most readily available to them, and being that they were raising and tending sheep, sheep meat is the answer.

now, i have nothing against eating mutton or lamb, though for me it's a bit expensive. so when making shepherd's pie, i substitute beef for the lamb, which then technically makes it a cottage pie and not a shepherd's pie. to me, it's still quite delicious.

so i had settled on making a cottage pie yesterday, but when it came time to make dinner, i just wasn't in the mood. see, though i love cottage pie, my dear bumble does not. he's not a big fan of ground meat, though we're working on that, and he's not a fan of mashed potatoes or gravy at all. so i knew if i had gone ahead and made cottage pie, i would have had a fight on my hands, and like i said, i just wasn't in the mood.

i decided to change it up a bit, and instead of using mashed potatoes, i made a biscuit topping for it. i've always been a huge fan of bisquick, and this was just another good excuse to pull it out of my pantry. i also decided to switch out the gravy for low-fat cream of mushroom soup, a trick i use when making other kinds of casseroles. and instead of using a mix of vegetables, i just used corn, though that's because my hubby doesn't really like cooked carrots or peas.

now, after all the exchanges i made, i know it's not a cottage pie anymore, it was more of a hamburger pie. it was still good, and a hit with everybody except lumpy, who realized i had thrown some onions in with the meat when i fried it up, and he hates onions. though by the time he realized there were onions in it, he had eaten half his food.

in the end, our st. patrick's day dinner last night wasn't really irish food, though it was still good and super easy to throw together. maybe next time i'll add green food coloring to the biscuit part to make it more festive.

March 17, 2011

this one time at the lunch table

i was sitting at the table with my kids eating lunch the other day, and the boys had the most fascinating conversation. usually their talks revolve around transformers or bakugan or their shared imaginary friend maya. this time, though, was a little bit different.

they started talking about the future, and lumpy proceeds to explain how when he grows up he's going to live in a really huge house, and he'll invite bumble and his kids over. and bumble's kids will be allowed to sleep over, but they won't be allow to do karate in the house because there will be lots of fragile stuff everywhere, and lumpy doesn't want his "fragile pretties" broken.

bumble then has the brilliant idea to make it a rule that there is no karate practice allowed to happen in the house. and then both the boys try to figure out what to do if it rains or snows and they really want to practice karate. so lumpy decides his house will have four bedrooms upstairs: one for him, one for bumble when bumble stays over, one for bumble's kids, and one to be used as a karate room. this is decided to be a brilliant plan, and with everything sorted out, they finish lunch and go off to play.

i never realized that my boys thought so much about the future. it does make me happy that even when they're grown they still want each other in their lives. and i know that might change, but still, i'd like to think that no matter what happens later in life, my boys will be there for each other and will be able to count on each other if they need to. it gives me a sense that maybe these boys of mine are going to turn out all right after all.

the one other thing that amused me greatly about their whole conversation is that my dear bumble has picked out names for his children already. he plans to name his son after himself, which means that my husband's desire for bumble to be proud of his name is realized. bumble is actually the fourth, my hubby is the third, and bumble wants his son to be the fifth, a tradition i don't think you find much anymore. bumble has also decided that if he has a daughter, he wants her to be named stephanie, which is especially funny because he's still in the stage where he thinks girls are gross, so i'm not exactly sure how he thinks he's going to be having these children. though he's only seven, so he has years (and years and years, hopefully) to figure that out.

March 13, 2011

at a loss for words

i keep trying to think of something nice and lighthearted to write about. i don't want this blog to turn totally serious and depressing. i also want to represent who i am and stay truthful to my life. i want to share my thoughts and ideas and opinions with the world, and i want to be able to stand up for those thoughts and ideas and opinions, to be able to say that the things i talk here about aren't lies. everything here is truth and open and honest, because even if that's not the side that i show all the time to the real world, it's the side that i want to portray here.

and yet, it's very hard to do that. because it's not just me and my life that i want to talk about. it's not just my kids and their cuteness. or the issues that really affect only me and my hubby. i want to talk about everything that is going on. i want to share the things that i worry about or that are stressing me out. but i am hesitant to do that, because that would mean talking about other people.

if it's not obvious, i have a very large extended family. some of it i'm close to, some of it not so much. but i try to love all of them. still, they stress me out. i look at them, at what they're doing, and i just shake my head. and i want to talk about it here, about what's going on, because sometimes dealing with all of them is all that is going on in my life. but i don't want to seem like i'm talking about them behind their backs. "behind" mostly because i know they don't read this, but that doesn't mean that they won't hear about it. and i don't want them mad at me because they think i'm talking about things that i shouldn't.

and it's not like i want to talk about them because i want to cause drama. trust me, i avoid drama at all costs. i want to try to help them, i want a resolution to the conflict, i want to post both sides so maybe they can see that there is no right or wrong, both sides have valid points and both sides need to give a little if there will ever be compromise.

but i'm too afraid of feeding the fire. too afraid that me talking about what is going on here will be like throwing rocks at a hornets' nest. that whatever good i try to accomplish will only fail because i'll upset both sides by sticking my nose where it doesn't belong and i just need to mind my own business and stay out of it.

so i've been at a loss for words lately. because i don't know what to talk about. the things i do want to say i feel like i shouldn't, because it's not about only me. this is my blog to talk about the things that i am going through or the things that are affecting me, but i still want to try and respect the privacy of those around me, even if it is other people that are affecting me most right now.

maybe i'll try to turn this into a food blog, like i had wanted to in the first place. but that means i'll have to start posting pictures, because any good food blog has yummy photos to go along with the recipes. or maybe i'll turn this into a full on mommyblog, where all i do is talk about my kids and the cute things they do. where i talk about the funny things that happen during the day and how great and wonderful they are. but then i'd feel the need to sugarcoat everything, make it seem like i'm living in this perfect world of motherhood, which would be a total lie.

this is hard, and i'm really not sure what i'm going to do. i want to respect people's privacy, i want to give them space and a chance to work things out on their own. but i want to write and i want to post and i want to share, and things that i want to post and write and share are the things that are going on in my life. right now i am personally taking a back seat, i have a supporting role to the drama that is unfolding around me, so i feel like it's not my place to say anything.

i guess my problem is i'm not really sure what my place is at the moment. it's the age old dilemma i find myself in all the time: what i want to do versus what i think i should do versus what i need to do. these are hard questions to work through, made even harder when i have to be terribly vague if i want to discuss them. though i have a funny feeling it doesn't really matter what my conclusions are to this whole mess, i am so far removed from the center of this problem that nobody'll listen to me anyway.

March 9, 2011


i have guilt and baggage. i've been accumulating it for years, stockpiling it for some later date. this way, if i ever start feeling really good, if things seem to be going my way, i can pull some out and have reality slap me around a bit. or, rather, just what is my reality, what life is when seen through my eyes, what i believe happened in the past. there's so much baggage, i'm surprised we have room for the furniture in the living room.

i have always believed that reality is a fluid thing, moving and changing, totally subjective. the past is in the same category in my view. how else could i go through the same things as someone else, be in the same place and time, share an experience, and have both of us bring away something completely different? maybe reality isn't the right word in this context, maybe it's more a person's world view, how they react to certain situations. that would help to explain how different people focus on different parts of an event while going through it together. that might explain why, when retelling the past, people remember different details, different moments were important and key.

i know i look at the world differently than most. i've been told i have a "messed up view." and there are times where it has caused problems, because i have misjudged what people's reactions would be to my own actions. there are certain things that i don't think are that big of a deal, certain things that i don't think are worth fighting for or arguing about, but i have found some of these things are very important to some people, and i am looked at like i'm crazy for not making a bigger deal out of it all. the reverse is also true, though. there have been times where i was upset and offended by things that were meant as a joke. or i was told i took things out of context. or that no one else thought it was a big deal so why did i?

also, i remember things, mostly random things, stuff that nobody else remembers. stuff that was very important to me, that had a huge impact on me. but the fact that nobody else who was there even remembers any of it happening, it makes me question myself. maybe it's not something i'm remembering, maybe it's something i wished had happened, but only ever existed in my head.

i've always had a tenuous grasp on reality. i know there are things that never happened, that i have built up and convinced myself that they are true and real, even though they are only figments of my sad and twisted imagination. that's always been my problem, that i am able to fabricate the truth and convince myself it is real. and also i am very good at completely banishing things from my mind, forgetting things, making it like it's never happened.

all of this, i suppose, is why social interaction is so painful for me sometimes. i am always afraid i am going to make a mistake, that i am going to bring up something that isn't real, or forget the things that are. so i always second guess myself, wondering if what i am about to say is something i should be saying, or if it's a comment that will earn me weird stares and whispers behind my back. or if a conversation i remember having with someone never actually happened. or if i'll actually be able to remember what people are talking about, if i'll actually be able to understand what's going on.

so i try to remain reserved and keep myself in check. and of course i fail miserably at times. my mouth runs off, and before i can stop myself i've said something crazy again. those that have known me the longest expect this kind of behavior. my husband, for instance, just lets me ramble at times, knowing eventually i'll get a hold of myself and stop. though there were times in the past where he used my confusion against me, convincing me that i'd agreed to things i don't even remember discussing. and of course i second guessed myself and went along with his plans. because really, he knows he is responsible for me, and i know he has my best interests at heart. i am a heavy burden to him at times, and he deals with me with all the grace and understanding that he can. i warned him long ago what he was getting into if he stuck by me, and i guess he really thinks i'm worth it, because he has stayed with me. even if i don't remember all of it.

March 7, 2011

she's just got too much junk in her trunk

maybe it's always been this way with baby girl clothes. i honestly wouldn't know, with two little boys ahead of her, fishie is the first baby girl i've really been buying clothes for.

i love my little fishie. she's happy and adorable. but, like everybody else in this family, she's a little chunky monkey. now, she's not one of those ridiculously huge, get on tv, freak show babies, she's just a little heavy for her size, but it's nothing that her doctor is worried about. and now that she's actually walking, she is slimming down some. still, the little jeans and pants i try to put her in don't fit her very well.

for her birthday, fishie got lots and lots of clothes, mostly because she needed them and it's what i explicitly asked for. most people bought her cute little outfits in the sizes i told them. the problem i'm finding now is that the shirts fit her perfectly, but the pants really don't.

for some reason, the people who designed and made these outfits decided that little girls clothes should look just like big girls clothes in smaller sizes. most of the pants that go with the outfits have curves. the pants have a low waist and a bottom that bubbles out, then the legs get skinny to show off the hips, then the pants flair out at the bottom again, boot-cut/bell bottom style. this is craziness, babies don't have hips to show off, and they don't really need boot cut pants. maybe it's just my little fish, maybe she's the strange one, but i highly doubt that other one year old babies have curves that need accentuating.

i've always said that most babies are just babies, whether they are boys or girls. they sleep, they eat, they like affection and attention, they move and crawl and explore their world, they like the same toys, even if some toys are marketed in a gender specific way (though that's a rant for another time). most babies of the same age are also the same shape. some babies are chunky and some are skinny, but i've never seen a baby, girl or boy, with curvy hips. and honestly, even if babies did have curvy hips and skinny legs, that's not something i think is appropriate to showcase.

my fishie is a big girl, and her legs are big too. i like to think that it gives her stability when she's walking and crawling. a big base, from an engineering standpoint, usually means something is structurally sound. and maybe there are skinny babies out there, my kids never fell into that category. so maybe there are little girls that fit into these pants that are supposed to be the size that fishie needs. but most of these pants will not fit, i just can't pull them up far enough. the legs of the pants don't go over her chunky thighs, and the waist fall down off her big bottom, so the whole pair of pants is falling off, making it seem like it's way too long for her. and because she is walking, it is more important now that she wear pants that fit well so that she can move in them and not trip over them.

so i've resorted to buying her little boy jeans. the waist is elastic, and the legs are huge and roomy, straight all the way down. it's perfect for her to move in. and jeans are jeans, plain blue denim, so nobody can tell they weren't made for girls if i don't tell them.

i don't think fishie will always be this big. like i said, now that she is moving and walking, she's really slimming down. and if she's like her brothers, and so far she is, she'll go through a growth spurt soon and shoot up a few inches without gaining any weight. then maybe she'll be able to wear some of these curvy pants she's got. though by then it might be warm enough to put her in cute little skirts. the ones that she has i know will fit and give her plenty of room to move and grove. even if some say they're too short.

March 2, 2011

i never thought i'd see the day

maybe it's a sign that the world is coming to an end. or it's the apocalypse. or the sky is falling. or today is opposite day and nobody told me. i am confused. i am frightened. i need somebody to hold me.

today, i found a chocolate i didn't like.

for valentines day, my hubby bought me this gift package from 1-800-flowers. the website made it look so awesome, with a cute little stuffed dog, a box of chocolates, and a little rose plant in a pretty pot. well, i have issues with delivery guys in general, not finding my house and all, but this time they did find the house. the problem was that they dropped the box on my porch and didn't knock or anything, so i'm not sure how long it was sitting outside. the other problem is that the box was sitting sideways, so when i finally got it inside and opened it up, all the dirt had spilled out of the pot and gotten all over everything else. i could have just blamed the delivery guy for not knocking, but i also blamed 1-800-flowers for the fail packing and shipping.

in the end, my hubby was so upset that his gift was so wrong that he complained. to make amends, they sent a gift card. not for the whole amount, but it was at least most of it. and i had liked the dog and the chocolates that i had gotten, so i wasn't going to complain anymore.

anyway, with the gift card they sent i went and ordered more chocolates because i didn't trust them to send more flowers. flowers that i would have eventually killed anyway because i don't have a green thumb. i don't even have a brown thumb, i have a black thumb of certain death.

so the other day, my yummy looking replacement box of chocolates came. and again they were just thrown on the porch, but at least i got a delivery conformation email so i could walk over to the door and open it to find the box.

i'm trying to be a good and responsible type person and not eat the whole box in one sitting. so i've been limiting myself to one or two pieces a day. there is no helpful list in the box of what each piece might be. some people might like the surprise of not knowing what each piece will contain, but i personally like knowing exactly which filling is where. what if i'm feeling like caramel and end up with a piece of vanilla cream? that'd still be happy, but not as happy as getting the piece i'm actually hungry for.

still, i've been throwing caution into the wind and eating the chocolates anyway. today though, disaster struck. i popped a piece of chocolate in my mouth and chewed. it was raspberry cream! not that i have anything against raspberries, but i'm not a fan of them mixed with chocolate. and this piece was ten times worse than any raspberry and chocolate type candy i've had in the past, because the cream part had seeds in it. maybe it was to show that it was "real raspberry" or make it seem "homemade," but seriously, it was just gross. crunching through the outer chocolaty exterior is one thing, crunching through seeds on the inside is something else entirely. i actually spit it out.

it felt so crazy and surreal, spitting out chocolate. i thought that surely something must be wrong with me, because i am a lover of all things chocolate. and even if i didn't love it, i normally would have still finished it. but to spit it out? that's unheard of.

the really worst part was that i took another piece to make myself feel better about getting such a crappy one. i guess they had put two pieces of raspberry cream in the box. i'm seriously considering giving the rest of them to my kids and sticking with hershey bars. at least i know they're safe.

March 1, 2011

an experiment in restraint

lumpy has issues. i'm not sure if they're exactly normal kid type stuff, or if there's something deeper going on. we have talked to doctors and taken him to professionals, and so far every one of them has said that he is in the "normal range." there are some things he will struggle with and some things that will come easy for him. basically we shouldn't really worry because most of what is going on right now are things he will outgrow eventually.

that really isn't much of a comfort. but, as he's grown out of most of his toddler behaviors, as he's entered school and his world has expanded beyond his home and his family, as he interacts with more people than just his brother and i, i have seen an improvement with most of his behaviors.

still, his conversations skills leave much to be desired. he still just talks, there is no give and take, there is no worrying if who he is talking to is paying attention. and when he gets upset he cries, big fat blubbering tears. just as quickly as he gets overly upset, he is over whatever it was that he was crying about. his emotions and mood swings are so crazy fast sometimes it's frustrating and scary.

the other problem he/we seem to have is that he doesn't pay attention to his surroundings. or maybe he just tries to get done with certain tasks so quickly that he makes a mess of things. he has potty issues, and when he rushes he makes a mess, so often that i've started making him wipe the bathroom down in hopes that being forced to clean will prevent messes in the first place. he also throws things while cleaning, knocking things over or hitting his brother with stuff, who then tries to hit him back with his hands. it usually ends up as a bad situation, but with them forced to share a room, i'm not sure how to fix it. the other thing he does sometimes is jump around like an excited puppy. he runs up and down the hall or jumps from couch to couch. for awhile i was worried for the furniture, but now that fishie is moving, i really need him to settle down. he's knocked her over, run into her and pushed her down, and just recently he kicked her in the head while he was rolling on the floor.

she wasn't badly hurt, but it's never fun to try and explain bruises on a one year old. and of course lumpy felt bad, which only made him cry. it's hard enough to comfort a crying baby, trying to figure out where she is hurt, but then to deal with an overly emotional six year old, it's just too much sometimes.

i know he's still young, but i don't remember his brother being overly emotional or hyper like this. though, like i said, as he's getting older and out and about more, he is getting better. i suppose part of me wishes that his progress was faster, and another part wishes that i could help him more. but how do you teach a six year old self control and restraint?

one thing that seems to be working is timing his every activity. in talking with his teacher, i began to realize that most of the problems and issues i'm dealing with at home are not present at school. so beyond the fact that it is a different mix of people, i also realized that one major difference between home and school is a schedule. his whole school day is broken up into blocks of time dedicated to different activities.

schedules have always been important in this family to avoid meltdowns. both lumpy and bumble crave consistency. they hate surprises during the day, they like to know what's going on and what will happen next. but when it's just lumpy and i and fishie at home during the afternoons, i became kind of lax in our schedule. if he wanted to go back in his room and play for a few hours, and there weren't any chores for him to do, i would usually let him. if he wanted to play video games or watch tv, i would usually allow it. it was only as a punishment that i would really put strict limits on the amount of time he was allowed to do things.

limits helped to keep him calmer, and so i adapted that method into our daily routine. unless he is having "quiet time," which is when i force him to lay down in his bed with the lights off, i time him. whatever he is doing, he is only allowed to do for 30 minutes at a time. building with blocks, playing with puzzles, watching tv, it doesn't matter, after 30 minutes, i make him stop and move onto a different activity. later, if he wants, he can pick up where he left off with whatever he was doing before.

i've also started limiting his video game time. now, i know that little kids aren't supposed to sit and play video games for long periods of time anyway. and i suppose my only excuse for letting him play as much as i was had been because it kept him quiet and settled for a short period of time on the days where he couldn't play outside and he and his brother were at each others throats. now though, he's only allowed to play for a certain amount of time each day, and for only about 15 minutes at a stretch.

so far this timing thing seems to be working. though we only started doing it last week, and we're still working out all the kinks. the first few days were a little rough, if he was playing with something and being good, he didn't want to stop, and it was hard to explain to him why he needed to. and with certain things, like when we sit down and watch a movie together, the timer doesn't count.

i'm hoping that with the weather getting warmer, sending him outside will help him to get rid of some of his extra energy. i remember having problems like this last winter too, though as he's gotten bigger in size, it's harder to physically control him when he gets overly upset. i know some of his medication that he's on also makes him hyper, and i've expressed my concerns with his doctors and we're talking about switching up some of his doses and seeing how he does. though not until after march, because the change of seasons is always bad for him.

honestly the hardest part is that i wish i could do more for him. i wish i could help to calm him down, and i wish i could help him to control his own body and his own emotions better. he is my baby boy. i know he's always been like this, sometimes worse and sometimes better, but always himself.

February 28, 2011

"you are beautiful, no matter what they say..."

here is a logic problem, or rather a bit of logic i have a problem with. my baby fish and both my boys are beautiful. and all my kids look like me. so that means that i am beautiful too, right?

yeah, right.

it's hard to admit that i'm beautiful, especially when i've had so many people reinforce throughout my life that i am not. i know it's something i'm dealing with, and there is probably a part of me that will always struggle to accept that fact, because there was a time in my life that i surrounded myself with terrible people that told me awful lies. and there will always be a nagging little voice inside my head, somewhere deep down in the darkest parts, that will be whispering that i'm really not beautiful, that i'm just as fat and ugly and disgusting as certain people have always said that i am.

for years and years i have been struggling to change my way of thinking. there are some that have tried to help me. my mommy tells me all the time that i am beautiful, but then that evil little voice chimes in and says that she is my mother and she has to say nice things like that. then there is my hubby, he has always said that i am gorgeous and wonderful and the best thing ever. there are times though, especially when i'm having a bad day, that i don't believe him. that i think he's saying such nice things because he wants something. or that he thinks it's what he's supposed to say even though he doesn't mean it. which is especially crazy because anybody that knows my husband knows that he is the definition of sincerity.

so i'm trying to be better, i'm trying to improve my self image. to understand that there are parts of me that i truly do love, and that even though there are parts that i don't like doesn't mean i should scrap everything. i have the ability to change what i don't like, it is my own body. or, if it's something i can't change (like my ridiculously huge clown feet), that i just need to accept that fact and actually be ok with it and move on. no one is perfect, and no one likes every single little thing about themselves, trying to get to a place like that is impossible and i need to understand that.

i need to do this because i've come to realize that i have a beautiful baby girl and i want her to believe that she is beautiful and not think that it is a lie. i want her to accept the body that god and i gave her and understand that she is perfect no matter what. i have come to realize that kids will mimic their parents, and for her to feel beautiful, i need to show her what feeling beautiful is like. which is hard. crazy hard.

a serious bit of truth here: i never wanted a daughter. when i found out during my pregnancy that i was having a little baby girl, i totally broke down. honestly, when i got back from my doctor appointment that day, i woke up my husband bawling and it took him quite some time to calm me down. and then every time i told anyone that i was having a girl after having two boys, their reaction was invariably that i must be so excited to finally get the little girl i must have been hoping for. that sentiment was like being stabbed by jagged rusty knives, because it was the complete opposite of the truth and yet i felt the need to play along instead of launching into a long and complicated explanation. the truth was that i never wanted a girl because i was afraid that she'd be just like me, and i never wanted that for any child. i can remember times in my life where i hated myself so much, where i thought the world was filled with darkness, and life just wasn't worth living. if i have a girl like me, doesn't that mean she'll have all my faults and craziness too? how is it fair to curse an innocent little baby to a life like that? so, while i've always wanted kids, i've never wanted girls. i got lucky the first two times, but my luck ran out with fishie.

well no actually, that's not really true. because she is beautiful and perfect. and i can work to give her the life i never had, the life i always wanted. i have the chance to show her how wonderful the world is, how kind and loving people can be, and how special she really is. she is my chance at a do-over, a chance to make things right. but i know the first step is trying to fix myself, to show her through my own thoughts and actions how beautiful life is. that there is no such thing as a "good hair day," you just have good hair. that everyone looks different, there are an infinite amount of body types and shapes and sizes out there, that instead of trying to get yourself to look like how you think you should look, you should be happy and revel in the individual and unique way that you look. you should be able to celebrate your differences, you should show off your own brand of beauty and style.

i need to show my fishie that all of these things are truth, just as i need to learn them for myself. it's hard to be a girl, even harder to grow up and be a strong and happy woman. being the mother of a daughter is a challenge i never wanted to have to face, because i never thought i was good enough or strong enough or even qualified enough to accomplish it. now though, i'm beginning to think that i might be, and i know people who tell me i am. and i do have the support of lots of loving people. it'll be a struggle, but i think i can make things right this time.

February 27, 2011

silver-tongued devils

i might not have the greatest self-image. i consider myself a realist, but maybe i don't actually see the real me. still, i have had people tell me all sort of compliments that i just don't believe are true. random things that are usually the sign that they want something from me. maybe i'm wrong, though, maybe these things are actually true. how does one really know, though? especially when one has been hurt so many times in the past.

i had a rough time of things for awhile. growing up, i was searching for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. i was looking for somebody else like me, somebody else that would actually understand and sympathize, maybe actually think the same and act the same as me. i'm not sure if i could say i ever found anyone that really met my high standards. but i did run across some nice and not so nice people.

the nice people were great, and at times i was comfortable enough to let my guard down, to show my true colors, to reveal the depths of my craziness. the not so nice people were not good to me. the took advantage of my naivety, my desire for acceptance. they told me all sorts of tales, and i believed them all, and they ruined me in the end.

those not so nice people, they would tell me how great i was, or pretty or nice or funny. they would flatter me until i blushed and smiled and thought they were the greatest people in the world. then they'd ask for favors or money or acts of kindness, and i would gladly agree to all their demands. and eventually, when they grew tired of me, they told me what they really thought. they told me how strange i was, how funny looking, how unstable, how stupid. they thought i was a joke, and they laughed and left me.

and so, because of them, i grew more cautious. i used what powers i had to find out all that i could about a person before i would open up to them. rarely did i share much of my true self. and i tried never again to believe in the niceties that people said. most times i would smile and say thank you for the compliment, but i would never take it to heart. i always believed their sweet words held ulterior motives or dark intentions.

to this day i have trouble believing people when they say nice things to me. i think i will always have that little voice in the back of my mind, wondering what they'll eventually want from me, thinking they're trying to pay for favors with pretty words.

i know i have a skewed sense of self. who i think i am and what i think i look like is not exactly real. it's still a shock to see myself in pictures sometimes, because i never think i really look like how i show on film. the real problem comes to light when i think one thing and i have the world telling me something else. that things are not as dark as they seem, that i am doing well or am nice or am pretty or am smart. how do i get over all the mistrust that swirls in my head? how can i start to believe people when they say nice things to me, and that they don't just want something from me in return?

like all of my other issues, i am working on it. slowly slowly, little by little, i think i am getting better. or at least that's what i've been told.

February 24, 2011

i am obsessed

i used to read all the time. i still own stacks of books that i read through and just couldn't put down. now, i'm not saying they were all great books, though i did enjoy most of them. still, even the ones that i didn't like i couldn't put down. my problem has always been that when i start reading most anything, i need to read all of it. it feels strange to me to read a chapter and save the rest for another time. which i suppose is also why i feel like i have no time to read books anymore, because when i start i just can't stop.

i'm like that with a lot of things, actually. i used to frequent various message boards, but i had to stop when they became too time consuming. or i let them become too time consuming. i couldn't jump in at the end of a long thread or topic. no, i had to read it all from the beginning, even if it was months old and 1000 or more posts long. i had it in my head that i had to read the topic completely before adding my own reply. and then if i actually did say something, i would check back obsessively to see if anyone had responded to me. obsessively like i would sit and refresh the page, just waiting. i eventually learned that i was unable to use message boards in anything approaching a normal fashion, and so i forced myself to stop posting on them. i still read them, but because i'm not saying anything myself, i don't feel the need to check them so often.

i don't know why i become obsessed by things. why i feel the need to immerse myself in something to the point that it takes up all of my time. not just my free time, all of my time, even the times where i'm supposed to be doing other things. a terrible confession here: there was once that i was so wrapped up in checking on an online community that i was actually late to pick up bumble from the bus stop. i consider that the exact moment reality slapped me right across the face and i realized i had a problem.

i do consider myself lucky that i was able to mostly stop. the temptation is there, but i'm fighting it. the temptation is always there, though. before it was books, for awhile it was writing stories. the access to all this information online has given me other obsessions now too. there are people that i've become obsessed with. and with a few mouse clicks i can find out all the information that i'd ever want. so i keep looking deeper and deeper, trying to find out all that i can, i want to know everything about them, read everything they've written, watch every video they've made, check out every organization and group they even mentioned in passing.

and usually, just as quickly as i'm swept up in my obsession, i am over it. i move on to the next thing that catches my eye. now i believe i have learned to be more careful. i know there are more important things in my life that i need to be focusing my energy and attention on. and i'm beginning to understand that it's ok to put the book away for awhile, because it'll be there later. and to shut down the computer, because sometimes sleep is more important than the latest reply. and it's ok to be interested in someone or something, but i need to draw the line at internet stalking.

i'm like a cat with a shiny bit of string. it's my whole world, all consuming. but if i'm not careful in my playing, i might end up running head first into a wall.

February 23, 2011

do you want fries with that? or tater tots? or mashed potatoes?

i've held many different jobs in my time. i was a barista and a pretzel roller and gas station attendant, a file clerk and a secretary to a secretary, a "sandwich artist" and an inventory specialist and a wedding registry consultant. most of my previous employment experience included a plastic name tag, and over half had me wearing some sort of head covering to keep hair out of the food. the jobs i liked best were the ones where i worked alone. i can handle customers, i've just never had a job where i really got along with my coworkers (with one major exception of course). the one job, though, that provided me with the most real world experience i've been able to draw from was my time spent as a short order cook.

there i learned to handle the pressure of taking multiple orders, multitasking so everything came out as quickly as possible, and just generally trying to make the customers as happy as i could. it's those skills that i utilize these days as my role as a mommy.

now, i don't think i have terribly picky eaters. and i've been lucky because they actually like their vegetables. it's usually the meat eating that they have a problem with. though each of my boys does have their own silly little quirks.

bumble hates mashed potatoes and gravy. it's sometimes a struggle to get him to eat potatoes in any form. and he has a problem with ground meat, so that means that hamburgers and meatloaf and meatballs and sloppy joes are all things i have to force on him. but any time we go out, he orders a salad. he's even eaten the decorative lettuce off a deli tray. if it's green, he likes it, and if it's raw, it's even better.

now lumpy, he's not so big on vegis. and unless it's a carrot, he won't eat it raw. meat he usually doesn't have a problem with, as long as you tell him it's chicken. a steak, a pork chop, a piece of ham, tell him it's chicken and he'll wolf it right down. with most food, he's happiest if it's well cooked. things like oatmeal and pudding and mashed potatoes he likes because everything is smooth. and if you give him a lunch meat sandwich, no cheese please, he'll eat the meat and give back the bread, sometimes asking for a refill.

i know this sounds like my kids are picky, but really, i think it's just because they're kids. they know what they like and they know what they don't, and they want to stick to things inside their comfort zones. though i can get them to eat whatever i make if i try hard enough. some days though, i'm tired and worn out and it's just not worth the effort to fight about dinner. that is where my short order skills would come in handy.

when making peanut butter sandwiches, it was always crunchy for bumble and smooth with no crusts for lumpy. bumble always wanted extra salt and pepper. for dipping fries or chicken nugget or even carrots, lumpy always wanted ketchup, while with bumble it depended on how he was feeling, though usually he went with ranch dressing. if you give them garlic bread, you have to take the crust off. and if you give lumpy a hamburger, you have to make sure you squish it down really well, or he'll pick it all apart.

my kids sometimes make figuring out what to make for supper a challenge. and it's not like i'll make them a completely different meal if they don't like what everyone else is having. but sometimes i switch up the sides to keep them happy. like keeping a few vegis raw for bumble and overcooking a few for lumpy.

they're really good kids overall. and i know that even if they stage a hunger strike over yucky food, missing a meal won't kill them. i'm their mom, and keeping them happy and healthy is my job, and i certainly try my best. so far, i've lucked out with fishie. now that she's on solid foods, she's happy to eat anything that comes close to her mouth. hopefully, she stays that way.

February 22, 2011

looking back

i want to try to explain something that probably will sound crazy and contradictory. i have been looking through old pictures, some from as long as fifteen years ago. i look at myself and at all the people that i knew, the people that i have lost contact with and the people that i have lost forever, and it makes me sad. i miss the life that i once had. a life full of unstoppable dreams and wild hope and crazy expectations. and yet, i'm not really upset with the place that i'm at in my life right now.

i used to be a wild and crazy girl, believing in magic and happy endings. now i am much more of a realist. now, if i hope for things, it's things i know are possible to achieve. that way there is less chance of being let down in the end. my dreams are much smaller, things that i know can happen. instead of expecting the best and greatest possibilities, i prepare for the worst, because anything can happen, and i've learned not to expect that "anything" to be good.

i used to dream big. but most of those dreams ran straight into reality, and i had to face facts. i grew up and found myself, and came to understand the person i am and the place that i belong. there are things in this world i am not suited for, and i understand that. i know my responsibilities, i know what i should be doing and need to be doing. i don't regret the choices i've made, the life that i've built, but i do miss the surprises that life used to hold.

my life used to be filled with random and unpredictable moments. now it seems i know exactly what will happen on any given day. my life has a schedule, and with kids like mine, we don't stray far from that schedule if we want to avoid melt downs and drama. i love my kids, i really do, but it's not exactly possible to take spontaneous road trips to far off places. it's more important to make sure that they get to school on time, that there are clothes on their backs and food in the house.

i guess i'm just jaded. i dreamed big and lost. now i'm more careful because i'm so afraid of falling again. what i miss the most about the girl i used to be was that i was able to live unafraid. the future was this great big mystery out there, and i was content to explore and wander and figure things out as i went along. but i've been beaten down by reality too many times to live like that any more. i am well aware now that actions have consequences, and i find it easier to live carefully and avoid trouble than to try and live free and recover from the bad things that happen.

if i could ever go back in time and tell my younger self one thing, it would be that i should cherish my carefree days, because once they are gone, they are so hard to get back.

February 21, 2011

i'm a cat person

there are a lot of things going on right now in my life and in my own head. things that i want to talk about, want to write about and blog about. but they are things i need to think more on, digest a bit, before i share my thoughts with others. and so, instead of talking about the more important, deeper things in my life, i will talk about something i consider a universal truth. in this world, there are cat people and there are dog people.

now, i know that there are people that have both cats and dogs in their lives and in their homes. but i really and truly believe that, if forced to choose, people would be able to decide between having a cat or having a dog and be comfortable with that choice.

personally, i am a cat person. growing up, i always wanted a cat. my father is not a cat person, and so, while living with him, i wasn't allowed to have one. back when my hubby and i were just dating, i had told him that i always wanted a cat. and so, when we first moved in together, one of the first presents he bought for me was a beautiful black kitten, who i named isis. all of my in-laws couldn't believe that i would want a cat more than i dog, but i loved that kitten. she used to greet me at the door when i would come home from work, she would come when i called her, and she would sleep at the foot of my bed. giving her up was one of the hardest things i had to do, but unfortunately i wasn't able to take care of her and my two young boys.

the years went by, the boys grew up, and we moved into a new house. eventually the time was right and i was able to get another cat. this was a rescue cat, who my boys named percy after the green number 6 engine from the thomas the train series. this was another friendly cat that didn't act like a cat. i taught him to roll over so i could pet his belly, i taught him to sit up like a dog for a treat, and he was a great mouser. even the dog people in my life had to admit he was a great cat. unfortunately, i was again forced to give him up when i had fishie.

eventually i know the time will be right and the stars will align and i will get a cat again. and eventually my hubby, who really is a dog person, will be able to get the dog he always wanted. though he will be the one that has to take care of a smelly, drooling, wiggly pup. i will stick with a cool and laid back cat.

February 20, 2011

my baby is a princess and she's got the cake to prove it

yesterday we had take two of fishie's first birthday party. being that all the sides of my family live so far away from each other, it was necessary to have a party with my in-laws last weekend and a party with my family this weekend. and being that i was away from my kitchen and all my required equipment, for the uptown version of the party we went with a bought cake. it was very cute and yummy, with pink and black roses to match the decorations perfectly. but since i was home for yesterday's party, i decided i needed to make the cake myself, as i've done with my boys' cakes whenever we have the party around here.

and so, i made fishie her first birthday cake. it was a three tier affair, covered in baby pink frosting and decorated (to the best of my abilities) with dark purple accents. because i wasn't sure how to write on the sides of the tiers, i formed a dark chocolate disk that i wrote happy birthday on, and then stuck onto the top of the bottom tier so it was supported by the second. and because i was already playing with chocolate, i made a little three inch chocolate crown to put on the very top of the cake, with i also decorated with some of the leftover purple icing.

my fish, being the birthday girl, and being that it was her first birthday, got to eat the very top tier all by herself. chocolate crown included. by the end, she was a very happy messy sugared-up baby.

now please don't think i'm insane and gave a little baby a huge amount of cake. you can think i'm insane for other things, but with sugar consumption, i try to keep my head. the very top tier was what i called "the pixie tier." it was made with a cute little three inch round by two inch high pan. though i did split the layer in half and put a chocolate filling in the middle. and still covered it all in baby pink frosting. and there was still the cute little chocolate crown on top.

the rest of the cake was left for everyone else to enjoy. and being that it left two tiers for twelve people, i was able to enjoy some yummy cake for breakfast this morning.

the actual cake part was from a box mix. it wasn't that i was lazy, but i wanted something that would stay fresh for a few days, and i knew that box cake would. also, though i do make my own cake now and again, name brand cake mix is actually very good. and nothing screams a party like a funfetti cake (and pillsbury is my mix of choice), so that had to be the kind i made.

now, though i use box cake mix, the icing that comes in a tub is awful stuff. so even when i don't make a cake from scratch, i always make my own icing. or frosting. i've never really understood the difference, if there even is one. anyway, i usually use wilton's basic buttercream recipe, because not only is it easy to spread, it pipes well and can handle sitting around on the side of a cake for a few days. if made ahead, you need to keep it in the fridge, but once on a cake, i just leave the whole cake sit out and it's still yummy.

i had the cake and i had the icing, but i really wanted to take this cake over the top. so after i baked up the bottom tier in two nine inch pans and the second tier in two six in pans and the cute little pixie tier for the top in my three inch pan, i split all the layers in half and filled them all with this chocolate fudge frosting recipe i had. so the two big tiers were actually for layers of cake. it made for a very pretty presentation, even if i do need more practice splitting cake layers evenly.

all in all, it was a delicious cake. i made it look as nice as possible, though i need to work on my piping skills. guess i'll just have to make a few practices cakes next time, just to help ensure everything comes out looking how i want it to. and i was very pleased with myself for the size of this cake, it's the first time any of my cakes reached two feet tall. though i have made some pretty sweet looking cakes for other celebrations. every new cake i make seems to be my new favorite. and now that i have a girl, i can flex my creative muscle and make more than just land of the dinosaurs or construction sites or monster trucks. my hubby wants me to try and make a castle next time, for his pretty pretty princess. i'm thinking i just might. though i do have a year to decide.