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

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.

February 17, 2011

"glub glub glub" is "happy birthday" in fish speak

happy birthday to you, you're one hundred and two, you look like a monkey, and you smell like one too! and many more.

yes, my dear fishie is one today. and that version up there is the happy birthday song my boys have adopted to sing to all people when it's their birthday. just some of the fun stuff they bring home from public school.

but a year already? where did the time go? not that she's so little, but she still seems so little to me. she's still just figuring out her world. every once in a great while, she still gets up in the middle of the night and needs to be cuddled back to sleep. she's still my littlest baby girl.

though i suppose she'll always be my littlest baby girl, no matter how old she gets. i don't ever see her passing her brothers in size. and i know for 100% sure that she'll never had a younger sibling (hubby and i decided i was broken when i had her, and so i got myself fixed). still, i call lumpy my littlest baby boy, and he barely fits on my lap anymore, but we try and cuddle anyway. and even my biggest boy bumble still cuddles with me, but then he's such a lover, he likes to sit and cuddle with everybody.

anyway, this post has gone wandering and now to get back on track. i wanted to say that, while this year has seemed to just fly by, i still think i've been able to really enjoy all the fun of fishie's babyhood. and being that this'll be the last of my little babies, i'm really trying to make the most of my time.

even though she's not taking bottles anymore, i still remember holding her in my arms, watching her slowly nod off while sucking down that last meal of the day. i have to admit it's funny, but i don't remember breastfeeding her so much. i tried, in the beginning, with all of my kids, but bumble was the only one i was at all successful with. i can still remember his little face looking up at me while he was latched on. all the night time feedings with b, me stumbling into his room and picking him up and him just going to town. it's something i never got with lumpy, and oddly enough, something i really don't remember much of with fish. though i know it happened, but maybe the lack of sleep haze i was living through kind of affected my long term memories of those times.

anyway, i can still remember when she was smaller, before she started really moving. she had a play mat that i would put her down on in the middle of the floor, and she would look up and kick at her toys and laugh at her reflection in her little mirror. now, half of my living room is encircled by baby gates and she still manages to find a way to get into all of the things she's not supposed to. when she is finally big enough to climb up onto the furniture i know it'll be all over, because that was the point when her brothers also figured out how to climb over the baby gates holding them in.

she's just getting too old too fast. though i still can count on bath time for cute baby fun. fishie is so nicknamed for a reason, she loves her baths and she loves the water. but she's still unsure of it sometimes. she has little bath toys she plays with, and sometimes she sprays herself with the water squirter ones, and so she startles herself and begins to cry. it's cute and funny and so silly, i can't help but laugh. while comforting her of course.

anyway, i think this post is rambling enough. i could go on and on about how cute and sweet my baby girl is. i could talk for hours how happy she is, how grown she's getting, and how small she still seems. but i think i'll end it here. i do still have a baby to cuddle with after all.

February 16, 2011

are my pants on fire?

*i want to preface this post by saying that i really am ok, everything is really going well for me right now, and this post is something that i have been thinking about and working on for awhile. so no worries, please, just read and enjoy.*

i am very good at saying all the things that people want to hear. i have had years of practice giving the answers that, while not a lie, are not really the whole truth. but they are the answers people really want to the questions that are asked. or even the questions that they wanted to asked, but were too afraid of what the answers might have been. so i told them what they wanted to hear, what they needed to hear. i said all the right things to make them go away satisfied, and to hopefully stop asking me questions.

now, it's not like i'm really hiding any great secret, not like i used to. i feel what i do is more for diplomatic reasons. i'm trying to give people a measure of comfort and security, a feeling that everything, including me, is right in their own little world. and i understand people very well. i usually know what they're trying to say, what they really mean, without them having to come out and explicitly say it. and in the same vein, i know not just what they want to hear, but more what they need to hear. usually their questions come from some worry or fear, and i have figured out what i need to say to assuage those fears.

there are some people who really don't need to or want to hear the whole truth. they just want to know that everything is fine, that you are generally ok, that there is nothing that they need to really worry about. so i tell them that i am fine and everything is ok. usually things are far from fine, but the truth is complicated and the explanation messy, so i take the easier route for both our sakes. i will admit that i believe there are some that are so oblivious they don't even realize there might be another truth, that they really think everything is ok. then there are those that know what i say is a lie of omission, but they don't care enough or are too frightened to find out what the real deal is.

there are other times, more selfish times, when i tell people what i think they want to hear just so they'll leave me alone. there are things that people want from me, want me to do, and so i have figured out safe answers that are basically along the lines of "i'm thinking hard about this problem/situation/event, let me get back to you when i have everything sorted out." or i make up some far off date, saying that i will deal with/start said task then. and depending on the person, those answers satisfy and i am left in peace. and really, i can't say that it is a whole lie. usually i really do need extra time to think about things, i am very cautious and want to be very careful before making a big decision. and in most cases, i do have everything figured out by that far off date i set for myself. honestly, though, i like to do things my own way in my own time, and i don't like to feel pressured, so unless there really is some deadline i need to abide by, i set my own time line in such a way that those asking are satisfied too.

i will admit that there have been times, and still are times, where i just flat out lie. there are things i just don't want to tell people, things i don't think they need to know, or even things i'd rather not bring out into the daylight, things i don't want to admit to myself. there are certain opinions i have on various things and events and people, those are things that most people don't need to know. not because i am intentionally presenting a false front of myself, but because i know it would hurt feelings and make things more complicated than they need to be, and i am willing to go along with a lie i have created about myself if it will spare someone else grief. it stems, i think, from the fact that i try to be nice to everyone, and i don't like to hurt feelings or make people upset. people don't need to know that i really don't like their friends or that i think they were acting like idiots or that i really was hurt by some of their stupid actions from a long time ago even when i told them i was fine with it. there are also times where i will say that i am fine when i am not because i know the focus needs to be on someone else who needs more help and support than i do at a certain moment. there are also times where, in my head, i am a very mean and spiteful person, and there are so many things i want to say, or scream, at people, so many people i want to just go off and punch in the face, but i know that it is wrong, and so i bite my tongue and say what lie i need to so that i can keep the peace.

there are, of course, those closest to me that will call me on my lies and bullshit. there are those that i can no longer lie to, that can just look at me and see the truth. and i know i need these people in my life, i need them to keep my sane and grounded, because it's these people that want to know the truth, usually already do know the full and ugly truth, and are ok with it. they know the blackness i hide inside, and they accept me, all of me, for who i am.

February 15, 2011

baby shoes and my parenting skills

fishie is starting to walk. like more than just a step or two here or there, she really tries to take off. still, all she just manages is a step or two here or there, but she also gets up right away to try again, which is a step in the right direction. (forgive the bad pun, there will probably be more, i just can't help myself)

being that she is really doing the whole walking thing, it was decided that she needed good shoes to walk in. and so, my mother bought her shoes as an early birthday present. the very first time she had them on, when we tried them in the store, she just looked at her feet. i'm sure it felt weird to her, to have these huge things on the bottom of her feet. now, she has worn shoes before, little sneakers and these cute little black dress shoes for christmas, but these new shoes, these are the traditional baby shoes, the white lace up kind, with a flat bottom and good ankle support. these are walking shoes, they're what help babies learn to walk and move. they help stabilize baby legs and give support to chunky ankles and point the chubby little toes in the right direction.

and yet, i've never been a fan of baby shoes. i never bought these walking shoes for my boys, because i never thought they needed them. i have always been of the opinion that a baby will learn to move and walk naturally. give them a safe space to explore, and they'll figure out the best and fastest way to move around their environment. both of my boys learned to walk on their own, without shoes on their feet. they figured out how their little feet worked, how they needed to swing their legs around, how to bend their knees and ankles, how to point their toes in the direction they wanted to go. if it got cold, i put on extra socks, so i really felt there was no need for shoes. and that was the attitude i had going into helping fishie learn to walk.

but she wasn't really walking as fast as i wanted her to. not that she didn't know how, but she would stand and look around, and maybe take a step or two, but still, crawling was faster for her, so she didn't really try the whole walking process as much as i was hoping she would. she could get around just fine on her hands and knees, and that was all she needed. and like any paranoid parent, i started to get worried about her walking. why wasn't she walking yet? why wasn't she trying more often to walk? was there something wrong that made that kind of movement uncomfortable for her, and crawling was felt better? was she just lazy? was she going to regress and stop moving all together? yeah, my crazy and paranoid wonderings know no bounds when it comes to my children.

so because i thought maybe something was wrong, i turned to conventional wisdom, which was that to help babies walk, you need to get them the right kind of shoes. and so i did. or i let my mother did. or do. grammar is not a strength for me. anyway, so i caved in to popular opinion and fishie got shoes.

but now i worry that is a prelude to the kind of mother i will be. instead of going with what i think is right, or doing what i think i should be doing, i won't stand by my convictions and i'll go along with what everyone else is doing. i've heard that doubt is all part of being a parent, because kids just don't come with instruction manuals. and there are certain things that will happen during this adventure to adulthood where there will be no right or wrong answer, there will just be a right for you and your kids. and even though taking a poll and going along with what other people are doing, raising your kids how other raise their own, isn't always a bad thing (especially if you're feeling truly lost), if there is something you feel strongly about, if there is something that you really believe in, you should stand up for yourself and your belief and do what you think is right. and i know i shouldn't second guess myself, that i really do have a pretty good idea of what i'm doing at this point. but still, i worry that if i don't do something right i'll ruin my baby forever. and then she'll hate me. and move out at 14. and start supporting herself by starring in "movies."

i know that's probably not what will happen. in fact i'm pretty sure that'll never happen. fishie's brothers are pretty decent boys, they've survived and thrived well so far, so i should feel more confident that i know what i'm doing during this whole baby raising stage. still, that doubt and worry is there, and probably always will be there. and because i am not the strong and confident person i wish i was, fish got shoes. which really isn't that big of a deal to anyone else but me. and it's only a big deal to me personally because of how i think it shows my lack of faith in myself and my abilities as a mother. to everyone else, these shoes are just a step on the road to my baby walking better. and just because i caved in this time doesn't mean i always will. i need to let it go and realize that there are other battles actually worth fighting. like how i think piercing a baby's ears is just silly and i won't be getting fishie's ears pierced any time soon. but that is a rant for another day.

February 14, 2011

i was going to say....

i was going to say something about how today is valentines day. about how love and affection are on display everywhere. how it still seems so fake and overly emotional to me. how my loving hubby was guilted into buying me flowers. not by me, mind you, because i really don't go in for that kind of stuff. i know how much he loves me, i don't need a plant slowly dying on my kitchen counter to remind me of that fact. though the chocolates that were part of the package were delicious. but seriously, i want him to buy me chocolates more often, not just because a commercial tells him to, but because he wants to, because he knows that i will always be appreciative of chocolates.

i might have continued on about why i got flowers for valentines day. it's for the same reason that i am getting a mother's ring, which is something he's been wanting to buy me for years. part of the problem is i wouldn't wear it, i hardly wear my engagement ring. my wedding band, a plain and simple ring of platinum is all that graces my finger on most days. so i kept telling him that i didn't really want a mother's ring, that i thought it would be a waste of money, that i don't think i need a piece of jewelery to tell the world i am a mom and that my family loves me. but my less than traditional views on things like valentines day and mother's rings were less than thrilling to his mother. and so, to make peace in the family and to make things easier on him, i told him just to get me all the things that he wanted to. or rather all the things that he was supposed to. though i've never understood it all and i doubt i ever will.

i was also going to talk about how my beautiful baby is turning one in only three days, and how the time has seemed to fly by. i was also going to mention how big she is and how much she can do. how smart i think she is and how well she walks and talks for a baby her age. and how about how happy she seems, how everyone says that she is always so pleasant. how i already had a first birthday party for her with all of my in-laws the weekend we last went up town, and how i get to plan and host another party for her on saturday at my dad's house for all my family down here, and maybe what i really thought about that whole situation.

i also would have said something about how my nephew was visiting last week, which really highlighted two things for me. one is that my fishie plays very well with kids around her own age. but also it showed cause and effect of different parenting styles. my mother-in-law is also visiting, coming down with my nephew last week, and stay through until next sunday.

it is, perhaps, the interruption of my regular routine that has cause this lack of posting from me. my concentration has been more than broken, it has been shattered. i crave consistency, i crave the expected and a schedule i can depend on. maybe now that one of my house guests has gone home, i can get back to some of my set ways. i don't want to give up on this, i don't want to just let it go and go, let the pauses between posts stretch into weeks and months and forever. so though this post be nonsense (and why i started pirate-speak i'll never know), it's at least something.

February 8, 2011

the weekend is over?!

it's tuesday already. how did that happen? where did monday go? better yet, where did the weekend go?

there was so much that happened this weekend. birthday parties and football games and dealing with kids and shopping and traveling, everything was done in such a rush, it all left my head spinning. and being that it was very important to me to get the boys to school yesterday, we left jtown after the super bowl so we'd be home in the morning. which also means we didn't get home until 1am, and after unpacking and putting enough stuff away so i'd be able to function in the morning (like the pile of bags had to get off the kitchen table, and i had to dig out the tooth brushes), i didn't get to bed until 2am. it made for an extra tough monday morning.

yesterday was also spent finishing unpacking and washing clothes. fishie got a bunch of clothes for her birthday on sunday, which she desperately needed, but it created three times the amount of laundry to be done. i still have to find places to put it all, but i've left that to be done today.

i also did my grocery shopping yesterday, so there was some food in the house. usually i go shopping every two weeks, basically whenever hubby gets paid, and he got paid on friday. but being that friday was spent packing and preparing for the weekend, i had to put off food shopping. not that this mother hubbard's cupboards were bare, but if i hadn't done my shopping yesterday, i would have had to do it today, and i basically wanted to get as much done yesterday as i could.

though, as a result of running around like a chicken with my head cut off (lovely mental image, i know), i am wrecked today. and i still have to put all of the baby's clothes away. and go to a different store today than i went to yesterday, because i need to get soda. and i need to pick up some refills on lumpy's meds.

still, i think today will be more calm than yesterday, simply because some of the things i was worrying about and stressing over turned out to be nothing at all. and i'm making fried pork chops for dinner tonight, and fried pig product always brings a smile to my face.

February 4, 2011

what me worry?

stressed? what me? why in the world would i be stressed? everything here is fantastic! haven't quite had a chance yet to start packing, my morning has been filled with running errands. and technically the laundry isn't put away yet, and that comes before packing, so there will be clothes to put in suitcases. and right now i have to sit here and feed my fishie babe lunch.

so i figured i'd do a quick little post about how light and breezy i'm feeling. but just in case you're not feeling as serene as i am, i want to leave you with a little recipe i picked up a long time ago. it really helps me out in times of stress. if you're feeling a little overwhelmed or down and out, try making it and see if it doesn't give you the pick up you oh so desperately need....

5 minute chocolate mug cake

1 large mug
4 Tbsp. flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 large egg
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. oil
1/4 cup chocolate chips (plus some extra for sprinkling on top when it comes out of the microwave)
a small splash of vanilla extract

1. Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well.
2. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
3. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
4. Add the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and vanilla extract, and mix again.
5. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high). The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed! Remove from microwave and sprinkle top of cake with chocolate chips.
6. Allow to cool a little, and then dig in!

a few quick little notes about the recipe. first, i didn't not create it, i found it many months ago on a blog and copy/pasted into a word doc. i have a whole recipe folder saved on my computer, filled with things just begging to be made. anyway, ditz that i am, i forgot to save where i found said recipe, so if anybody recognizes it, please let me know because i'd love to give credit where credit is due. second is that the title is a little misleading, because i've never been able to make this recipe in only five minutes, it usually takes me closer to ten. though i keep making it in order to try and get my time down. it's a sacrifice i'm willing to make.

February 3, 2011

i don't want no drama llamas on dis trip

today i get to start preparing to head to jtown to visit the in-laws. it's a super birthday fun weekend, what with my niece's birthday party on saturday, my mother-in-law's actual birthday on sunday, and, just to make things easier on everyone else, round one of fishie's first birthday party is on sunday also.

oh yeah, and the steelers are in the super bowl this sunday, which is cause for much celebration. it's kind of required when your hubby and his family and most of your friends grow up and live in a town less than two hours from pittsburgh. a town that is super into football in all forms. a town, in fact, where the movie all the right moves was filmed and set. so you all can guess what i'll be doing on sunday.

that's right, running around trying to keep the kiddies quiet and out from in front of the tv.

so i know i'm i for a fun weekend. as long as your idea of fun is mounds of stress dealing with groups of people that don't always get along. and people that like to cause drama for drama's sake. and all the dynamic family bonds that can exist between sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers. and cousins, my kiddies and all their cousins, my lovely nieces and nephews, all crammed in together for fun family bonding.

really, it's not all bad. but everybody has different ideas on parenting. and opinions. loudly expressed opinions about what you're doing wrong when raising your own children. now i know that my hubby and i sometimes think outside of the box when dealing with our kids, but we do what works for us. and the most important part is that we agree on how we want to raise our children. we're not doing things like how my parents did or like how his parents did, we have our own style and our own way. a way which happens to be different from his parents and his sisters.

so i know this weekend will include a lot of smiling and nodding and trying to be nice. because one of the worst parts of all of this is the fact that if i do something that really pisses everybody off, i don't actually hear about it. for some reason instead of telling me, they tell my hubby. i really don't know why, because if they have a problem with my actions, then they need to tell me. but that's not how things usually go down. and because i love my hubby so, and i really do respect his parents, i try to be nice and keep my crazy to a minimum.

i don't want to cause problems for anybody, and i know the best way is to just keep my mouth shut. i don't need people telling me how to raise my kids, so i really shouldn't go around and tell people how to raise their own. we all have our own styles, and our kids are individuals themselves, so of course everyone will be doing things differently and dealing with situations differently. hopefully we can all get together and have a nice time, which i think is possible if we can all remember to be civil to each other.

if nothing else, there are kids who are having birthday parties, that is the important thing to keep in mind. they are the ones that need to have a good time, and they are the ones that we need to focus on making happy. hopefully all the drama will be left at home.

if nothing else, my beautiful fishie will have an awesome pink and black cake. because she's my little punk princess, and she's got the skull socks to prove it.

February 2, 2011

baking from scratch

yesterday was an alexander type of day. you know the kind, just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and it just seems like nothing goes right. that was so my yesterday. and though i said in yesterday's post that all i wanted to do was climb back in bed and pull the covers up over my head, i was unable to. still, anybody that knows me knows that i have another coping strategy just as healthy as hiding in bed. i bake!

of course, sweet smells from the oven always help in horrible situations. and the sugar rush is a pretty nice bonus. my favorite aspect of baking is how organized and orderly it is. as long as you follow the recipe right, then you know that good things will be coming out in the end. something you can actually count on when everything else is going wrong.

i do have some standard, go-to, make me feel good type recipes, but yesterday, i wanted to try something different. partly because one of the other things i do to make myself feel better is to read cook books and imagine all the yummy things that i could be making. the process of cooking is something i enjoy, so just reading a recipe and going through the steps i my mind sometimes is enough to make me feel better. and there's certainly less dishes to wash that way.

so out of the cook books i got for christmas, i picked a new recipe to try. but of course i was missing a few of the key ingredients. which was par for the course yesterday. now, i could have just picked a different recipe, or made a few substitutions, but instead i decided to use my head to solve this little problem of mine. my head and the internet.

first i needed some brown sugar. that is actually an easy fix. i learned a long time ago that brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses, it's really nothing fancy. before, i used to think it was sugar from some special stage i the refining process. oh those tricky sugar barons, making me actually buy stuff that i can make myself with things i have on hand all the time. now, i do realize that not everybody keeps molasses in their cupboards, but i don't know why not. that stuff is great, it's oh so versatile, and it keeps forever. anyway, though i knew the components of brown sugar, i was kind of fuzzy on the application. lucky for me, i knew exactly where to go for such information. the lovely joy the baker had done a whole post about it a few months ago, and i am obsessive enough that i just happened to bookmark is for a rainy day. or a day like today, when i was out of brown sugar and needed some.

i also needed some self-rising flour. the recipe for self-rising flour i found in the back of my better homes and gardens cook book. it's a sad looking, well used book, with the binding broken and pages falling out. how happy i am that in the recent editions they've switched to a 3-ring binder style. anyway, a cup of self-rising flour is just a cup of flour and a teaspoon and a half of baking powder and a little salt. super easy, and now i had all the ingredients that i needed to making exactly what i wanted.

which, of course, i did. dark brown sugar and butter, eggs and vanilla and flour. i threw in some walnuts and baked it in a pan. it came out all gooey, with crispy edges, such happiness. and because i was having a bad day, i decided to melt some dark and white chocolate chips on top, you know, just to really make myself feel better.

and i think it worked, because i think today is going to be a better day than yesterday. even if the world is covered in a thick layer of ice, and the kids have off of school again, and i still have laundry to put away and a bathroom to clean. right now, i'm going to enjoy my cup of coffee and a nice piece of the cookie bar i made and pretend all is right with the world.

February 1, 2011

grumble grumble growl

today is not a good day. yesterday wasn't very good, and tomorrow isn't looking much better.

the worst part is that it's not like any one giant bad thing happened. there's nothing i can pinpoint as the reason why these days are bad. it's more of a feeling. like i feel all grumpy and sleepy and out of sorts. all i want to do is go to bed and stay there for a few hours and hope that when i get up whatever is going wrong has finally passed. of course, being that the main part of my day is wrangling my kiddies, and i can't really do that from bed, i kind of need to stay up and awake and mostly coherent.

also, though, i really need to try to stop yelling and getting frustrated with them. because they are kids, and they are all out of sorts too. but the cause for that is known: my boys have a snow day today, and we are family that lives for schedules, and now our schedule is all out of order. so they are stuck inside, and being boys, they are at each others throats when they are not seeing what mischief they can get into together.

so today i'm trying to keep everything together, to keep everything moving forward with the least amount of casualties as possible, to keep my calm when the world feels like it's spinning out of control.

ever have a day like that?