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

May 28, 2013

all mixed up

things are crazy here, have been crazy here for more than a month. we, i, thrive on routine, and that routine has been thrown out he window. and though i feel like i'm just barely keeping it together, i am mostly doing ok. with, as is usual, some days being better than others.

normally i don't have to worried about losing the normalcy of my days until summer break hits, and the boys are off and wanting to watch cartoons all day. and then i have to feed them every meal and try to reign in their screen time and still get them to do some sort of work so their skills don't totally get lost. but now our nice daily schedule is all thrown off because my dear hubby has been home for more than a month. it's the longest time we've ever spent together with neither of us working, and the bottom line is that it has been a true test of our relationship.

more than a month ago, all the way back in april, he crushed his finger trying to put his ladder away at work. not just broke, the bone in his left pinkie was in about ten pieces in the xray that was taken in the emergency room. if he hadn't been wearing his wedding ring, he probably would have lost his whole hand, which is not the first time that circle of medal has saved his fingers. still, he only broke his littlest finger on his dominant hand (of course he's left-handed), which seems like such a small thing, though over the weeks we have been finding out how big on an injury is it. he has a very manual labor type job, and without his little finger, he can't grip anything with the rest of his hand. for a while, to hold everything straight, there were pins that made an x around the bone and came out through the skin, which he had to be very careful about. we're finally at the point where the pins are out, but now he has to go to physical therapy, because after being forced to hold his finger straight for so long, the joints no longer want to bend.

and so i've had him home with me for many weeks. and he hasn't been working, which has been very tough for him. he's worked since he was 16, and in fact the company he's at he's been with for 14 years, which is a feat for somebody only in their mid-30s. but he doesn't know what to do with himself, and i've tried to entertain him, and we've watched a lot of stupid tv, and he's gotten to play some of his neglected quest games on the xbox, but still i'll be happier and he'll be happier when he's not home quite so much.

also, he finally finished school and graduated. it was nice to not have to work, that he was able to throw everything he had into his finals. though one consisted of hands-on lab work, but his teacher liked him so much he was able to use all of his participation in class to cover the work he wasn't able to do. so he graduated, with highest honors, and because he wasn't working his parents came down for the week to watch him walk across the stage and get his diploma holder. and we had a huge party, more because i wanted to throw a party than he wanted to celebrate, which is when more friends and family came down.

so over the month or so i have been absent from here, i've had a house full of people, i've hosted parties and dinners, i've seen my hubby more in these weeks than i have since christmas, and then of course there have been the normal ups and downs of life with my kids and the dramas of elementary school. i'm actually looking forward to summer break at this point, because then we start a whole new routine, so i don't have to worry about adjusting back to our old one. this is all just another example of how life is crazy and unpredictable. i would have thought i learned that lesson enough by now, but obviously the fates think i needed to be reminded.

April 24, 2013

just a push

i'm really not good at dealing with people. strangers or acquaintances, people i know or don't know or really should know but can't remember, it doesn't matter who they are, other people scare me and i don't like it. the it being the fact that i'm scared and the fact that people are scary.

the problem is that i am not graceful in social situations. too many times to i find myself out and about, trying to make small talk and having nothing to say. or there are conversations going on around me and i have nothing to add. so i am there, quietly observing, doing my best to blend in with the scenery. or if i do find my courage to actually say something, i usually falter halfway through when i realize that people are actually looking at me and listening to the words that are coming out of my mouth. not that i really enjoy my lonely existence, but i am so much more used to being ignored than having people pay attention. honestly, it's unsettling.

the paradox is that i enjoy going out. i like to people watch and observe from the sidelines. and i'm actually almost comfortable in a small group setting. in fact, i can sometimes handle one on one conversations, especially if i don't have to say anything. as long as i am not the center of attention, i am fine.

i do know this, and try hard to remember it, that i will be ok and enjoy myself if i'm going to be somewhere that to focus is on others. or if i'm going to be with my very close circle of people who understand my issue and jump in to talk for me. the hardest part for me then is the actually getting out and going.

it's like i have trouble just walking through the door, but when i sit down i'm fine. or i will try and get somewhere early, and then i sit in my car for a while, hyperventilating, debating on whether or not it would be better to go in or to just go home and never leave again. of course, when i am done and back in my car at the end of the day, i always wonder what i was so worked up about. and then i make the impossible promise that i will be better next time.

i do try to remember that the world isn't quite as scary as i think it is. and people aren't waiting around just to point and laugh at me. and that if they're paying attention to me, it's because they're actually interested in what i have to say. or even if they're just being polite and paying attention because i was paying attention to them, it doesn't mean they're judging me in their head. i don't know why i am constantly surprised that i am able to have a good time in the company of others, but i am.

all of this, of course, only holds true if i am going anywhere by myself. if i have my hubby or my kids with me, it's a whole different ball game. which, of course, might be the whole reason there is a problem, because i am so out of practice at going out like a grown up. i don't know how to act anymore if i'm not filling the roll of mom wrangling three crazed monkeys. but i'd like a chance at trying to remember, i just need a little push out the door.

April 18, 2013

chocolate peanut butter crunch bars

i made a dessert yesterday as a special treat, because my family is kind of sick of easter candy. that's not to say we're anywhere close to eating all the easter candy in the house, but every time anyone wants a sweet snack, i push jelly beans and gummy bunnies on them. and so, to change it up a bit, and because i've already picked through everybody's basket and eaten the stuff i liked, i made something new.

let me share a bit of background on these fantastic bars first before i really get into talking about them. a few days ago, my hubby was pestering me to make him chocolate peanut butter fudge. and though i like to try and please him by making the treats he has a hunger for, i couldn't make that because i didn't have the necessary ingredients, and i really didn't feel like going to the store. i didn't feel like going to the store yesterday, either, but i knew my pantry was well stocked enough to churn out at least something special. i was not wrong.

i started with a basic brownie as the base of these bars. and though i could have gone with the homemade, totally from scratch route, i decided to keep this layer simple and easy. the only change i really made to the box mix i used was that i ran out of oil, so i used only half the oil called for and i used leftover coffee for the rest of the liquid, something i've done in the past.

while the brownie layer was baking, i knew i wanted to create a peanut butter layer. there are some very simple ones that just mix peanut butter with powder sugar and a little milk and graham cracker crumbs, and it creates a filling very similar to that of a reeses peanut butter cup (my hubby's favorite candy). initially i toyed with going in that direction, but then i decided to go all out and made peanut butter fudge instead. still, i wanted these bars to be simple and easy, because i was feeling lazy, so i went with the best microwave fudge recipe i knew of, from my hero alton brown. i timed it so that, just as the brownies came out of the oven, i finished the fudge and spread it on top. the fact that everything was still hot really helped it to spread.

while the first two layers were cooling in the fridge, i thought about how to finish these bars. i could have just used sprinkles for a festive touch. or i could have melted chocolate to drizzle over top for something fancier and more decadent. instead, i took inspiration from this post from the lovely blog cookies and cups, and made the topping that she used on her bars. because i liked the idea of a crunchy contrast to the smooth fudge and cakey brownie, i made her recipe but changed the peanut butter from smooth to crunchy, so not only was the top layer crispy from the cereal, but it also has bits of peanuts inside.

these bars were everything i hoped they'd be, and they were a huge hit with my family. all of the layers stacked together make for a very high and impressive treat. i made them in a 9x13 pan, and ended up cutting 20 pieces, but i know i could have made them smaller and nobody would have complained about not getting enough. they're definitely something i'll try to make again sometime, they'd be perfect for a party, dramatic and delicious and easily transportable. these chocolate peanut butter crunch bars are nearly the perfect treat.

April 16, 2013

tragedies and emergencies

back when i was in high school, i went on a back packing trip with my church youth group. after we had made camp, the leaders decided we should explore the area, which included crossing a 30 foot wide creek that was nearby. the water was only up to our knees, but the bottom was covered with large rocks that proved to be very slippery and the current in the middle was stronger than anyone thought it would be. we linked arms to try and steady ourselves when we were halfway across and realized it was probably a very stupid idea to be attempting. i was last in line, and when i slipped i let go of the hand i was holding and there was no one left to grab me. the current was too fast and too strong for me to stand up, but fortunately i had the presence of mind to point my head up stream and swim at an angle toward the shore. it turns out i was very lucky, because i ended up 30 yards downstream from where i fell, and there was only 10 yards between me and serious rapids. had i panicked, not kept a level head and tried to swim to shore, i surely would have drowned.

fast forward a number of years to a quiet afternoon at home. fishie was only a few weeks old, and i had just finished feeding her and put her down for a nap. my hubby was sleeping, as he had work that evening, and the boys were playing in their bedroom. suddenly i heard a loud crash and then crying. honestly, this was nothing new, as the boys were getting into the stage where they were starting to play rough. and then dear lumpy came walking down the hallway, crying. it wasn't a normal cry, it was a true cry of pain. he showed me his arm, and i could see where bone was trying to stick out of his skin and the whole forearm was at a strange angle because he had dislocated it from his elbow. i freaked out, i completely forgot what i should do in that kind of situation, and so i took him and we woke up his dad with the immortal words "does this look right?" after my dear hubby was full awake, which didn't take long given the situation, he took charge and sent me with lumpy to the e.r., where they set his bone and gave him a cast and sling. and the only reason i went instead of my much calmer husband is because i have all of the important medical history and information memorized for all of our children.

i wanted to share these lovely stories from my past because of the tragedies that seem to be happening more and more often in our world these days, and the wonderings of "what would i do in that situation?" because, unfortunately, i know what i would do, or at least how i would act. if it was only me, i'd be fine. when tragedy befalls my kids, i temporarily forget which way is up.

the truth is my family has been through an unfortunate number of tragic situations, and i wish that i could be calm throughout. invariably, i freak. eventually i will calm down and be the rock that is needed. still, because i know that i'm not so great in an emergency, i am trying to be prepared. so i plan what to do, and i go over those plans with my husband and my kids. they know where to go and who to call, and because the kids will probably act like me, they know where the important numbers and info are written so they don't have to worry about having everything memorized. i haven't gone all the way with fully packed bug-out bags, but that's really only because we have just enough money to live day to day. if i had enough left over, i'd definitely buy for tomorrow. as is, i plan. and wonder and worry and hope for the best. we know not what the future holds, but i will do my best to make sure we survive it, as calmly as i can.

April 15, 2013

adventures in getting to school

when bumble first started kindergarten, we used to drive to the bus stop. mind you, the bus stop was actually very close to our house, if i walked down to the end of our shared driveway, i could see it. the thing is, our shared driveway ended on a very busy street, and i just wasn't comfortable walking him and his brother down that road. especially since we would have to cross the street to get to where the stop was and there was no sidewalk so we were forced to walk along the shoulder. so as wasteful as it might seem to others driving such a short distance twice a day everyday, it's what we did.

then, when we were living with my moms, we still drove to the bus stop. we technically could have walked, it wasn't that far, and my moms lived in a quiet area. the problem was really that we were never all together and ready early enough that we could make it to the stop. there were many mornings that i can remember where we would pull up right behind the bus as it stopped, and my boys would jump out and run while i beeped so the bus would know not to pull away. have i mentioned how hard it is for us to get our stuff together so we can actually get to places on time? we rarely walked in the afternoon either. the boys were always bugging me to walk home, for whatever reason they thought it would be fun. the first day that it was nice, i threw fish in her stroller and we walked to get the boys, and then less than halfway home lumpy started crying. it seems that the bus ride was extra long and he had to go pee. we ended up "borrowing" a neighbor's bushes, and it was a long time before we tried walking home again.

now we live in a nice little neighborhood. quieter, and with sidewalks everywhere. and because the elementary school that my boys attend is connected to our neighborhood by a footpath, any child that goes to that school and lives in this neighborhood has to walk. technically, we have a choice: either we walk everyday or i can drive them everyday. depending on the weather, i will drive them, but most days we walk. of course, there are still days where we are running late in the mornings, and i end up driving them because they'll never make it if we tried to walk. or there has been a time or two when fish decided to take her nap at pick up time, so i'd plunk her in bed beside her dad, and then i'd drive to get the boys so i could get back quicker.

but now it's spring. and with the nicer weather and longer days, it seems easier to get up and going in the mornings. so we're trying something new: i am letting the boys walk by themselves in the mornings. for the longest time, i was worried to let them go, even though we live in a safe neighborhood. even though we see the same people whenever we walked together, usually people with dogs that walk the same way everyday. even though there are bunches of other kids that also walk. in fact, i finally realized that there are quite a number of other kids that walk by themselves everyday. so we sat and talked about it. and i talked about it with my husband. and everybody agreed that the boys were old enough, were ready.

still, we have walking rules. they go the same way everyday, which is the same way they'd go if i was with them. they always stay together. they don't talk to anyone they don't know, grown ups or kids, it doesn't matter. they walk straight to school, no detours.

so far, it's been good. they've made it to school on time every time, though i still have to tell them when to leave. and i always panic a little until after i know the school day started and the school didn't call wondering where my boys are. but then, that's just how it is, when you're a mom.

April 4, 2013

peanut butter cookies

i made peanut butter cookies for my dear husband today. he asked, and though i said no, i still made them anyway. because i love him. and am insane. but mostly it's the love thing.

i originally said no because there is a ton of candy in the house at the moment. our children received easter candy from four different sources, so that's 12 total baskets that entered our home. it's a lot of candy, way more than my kids need to eat on their own. they honestly get candy from random sources all the time, but i never let them eat tons of it at once. i suppose that's the reason why, when i was condensing all the baskets and containers into three separate bags, i decided it was time to throw out all the old candy. most of it was from valentines day, though there was a surprising amount of candy canes left. what was frightening, though, was at the bottom of the candy bucket was still some leftover halloween candy, and a small bag that came from a special shop on the boardwalk, the one we went to last summer. so i guess i either have to start letting my kids eat more candy more often, or i need to go through the candy bucket more thoroughly.

anyway, i told him he could just eat candy instead of cookies. still, i completely understand when you get hungry for something, and though you can find a sweet substitute, it's not exactly the same as what you were hungry for. and then you end up disappointed. i certainly didn't want to be the source of my husband's disappointment, so i gave in a made cookies. plus, i figured i could use this as an opportunity to experiment.

i have made many different kinds of peanut butter cookies in my day. many from trusted sources. but none were exactly like the peanut butter cookie i was looking for. honestly, i like all my cookies to be soft and chewy, not fluffy and cakey or crisp and crunchy. the problem with peanut butter cookies, or at least all the recipes i've tried, is that they come out perfect, but once they cool to an eatable temperature, they become all hard and crunchy. i'll note that my hubby doesn't really care, cookies are cookies in his eyes, though he really does like the nice and chewy chocolate chip cookies that i make.

in fact, i used my chocolate cookie recipe as inspiration for the peanut butter cookies i made today. yes, today i went and made up my own recipe, which was a lot easier than i thought it would be. i knew i wanted a chewy cookie, and i remembered the trick from other recipes is to use all brown sugar. white sugar makes a crisp cookie, and the only difference between brown and white is the addition of molasses. so, when i made the peanut butter cookies today, i only used brown sugar, and i threw a few tablespoons of molasses in for extra insurance. i also remember that butter will make for a crunchier cookie, so i probably would have used shortening if i had any. instead i added extra peanut butter, because i figured that there was enough fat in the peanut butter to make up for the lack of any extra fat. that and i've come across a few peanut butter cookie recipes that don't add any extra fat or flour. it was that reason that i used very little flour in my recipe today, though i was too afraid to skip it completely. also, using my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guide, i only used one egg, which made the batter too stiff, so i added some milk for additional liquid. i also added baking soda as per that recipe, because i wanted these cookie to rise a little.

the end result is exactly what i hoped it would be. the cookies have a nice outer shell around a chewy, very molasses-y center. the peanut taste is present, as it should be, but it's not overwhelming like eat a spoon of the stuff straight from the jar. i don't know yet how these cookies will hold up over the next few days, if they'll dry out and get crispy, but if i know my family, they won't last that long.

these cookies are a double win, as they are delicious, and a signal to myself that i am getting very comfortable in the kitchen. this isn't the first recipe i've successfully adapted, and i know it won't be the last.

April 2, 2013

sring break

my boys are on spring break right now. it boggles my mind that they have such a thing. everyone else i know with kids in other districts near and far don't have to deal with this, the trecherous evil of the school board to give kids a vacation with a weekend filled with sugar and candy smack in the middle of it.

last week was a short week for them. it snowed monday, and though they could have handled a two hour delay, the school closed and the boys had off. then on thursday, the "start" of break, they only had a half day. it still counts as a full day of school, but really it's a day to rush through a little bit of work and then let the kids play "educational" games. not that i'm really complaining about them playing those kinds of games in school. lumpy needs more practice playing games with peers, unfortunately he's sometimes lacking in the good sportsmanship department. and it's not he's really a sore winner or loser, it's that sometimes people want to modify the rules to make things more fair or run smoother, and he freaks out. lumpy is a stickler for following rules to the letter, and working any loophole made by them.

well on thursday, i picked the boys up from school, and bumble came home with easter candy, so i can only imagine how much work was done if they stopped to hand out candy to all the kids. it is at that point i realized this break would be sugar-fueled craziness.

they then had off on friday, and they don't go back to school until this thursday, so it's almost a week off. and it really doesn't help that we had an easter dinner with my moms on saturday, and then with my dad on sunday, at both of which they got more candy. and of course, the easter bunny had to stop at our house sunday morning. though the easter bunny here was clever and left a handful of candy and a nice toy instead of a basket full of sugar.

still, it's been sugar overload. everyday, a few times a day, they have a piece or two of candy. i'm trying to be reasonable, and we're talking about appropriate serving sizes together so they understand, but still, that kind of constant sugar buzz is something they're not used to. and i know there have been studies done that say sugar doesn't wind up kids, and that might technically be true, because the amount of sugar they're eating is not what is calling their craziness. it's the fact that they're eating any sugar, because they're not used to it, that winds my kids up so. it's the treats, and then going out and doing things, it's all the over stimulation. all three of them have been bouncing off the walls at different times, and then dropping down in a crash when they don't get what they want.

unfortunately, my boys need the structure of school to help them hold their emotions in, and i just don't have the time and energy to keep a constant super schedule going at home. especially at this point, where everybody is bouncing around like rabid monkeys, i'm lucky to keep everything from falling into total chaos. i believe all of us are secretly, or not so secretly, counting down the days until school starts again. and already, i shudder to think what summer will hold.

March 28, 2013

keep it together until it comes together

i am by no means perfect. i don't even pretend to be perfect. there are days where i feel lucky to make it out of the house in one piece only slightly late while forgetting one or two things. seriously, my goal in life is to be able to get everyone in my house out the door on time for a whole week completely prepared for their day. it hasn't happened yet, but when it does, i will be throwing myself a party.

and so, when i'm out and about, at the store or on the way to school for example, i look at other moms with pity and understanding. because i know what it's like not to have it all together. and i'd hope that they look at me with the same sort of understanding.

like if i'm grocery shopping, and i hear screaming. full pitched, throwing a fit, should be accompanied by rolling on the floor and kicking feet, i feel bad for whoever that kid belongs to. well, my first reaction is to be glad it's not mine, because there but for the grace of god it could be. and then, i feel for them. because i've been there. in fact, there are times i'm there right now, because dear fish thinks she's a big girl so she doesn't want to sit in a shopping cart anymore. and it's hard to keep her near me and not run off. and it's hard to get her to not touch everything. and some days i just don't have the patience to deal, and i strap her in the cart, and then she screams bloody murder. so i know how it goes with kids in stores sometimes.

i try to be organized. i try to have it all together. mostly, i'm trying to get my boys to realize that they are old enough to mind their own stuff and get themselves ready. because if they could manage that, then all i'd have to do is focus on myself and fish (and making sure their dad is awake, but that's a whole different challenge). lately, they've been telling me that they are old enough and responsible enough to handle everything, and i've let them try and prove themselves. and sometimes it goes well. and sometimes they have a water fight when they're supposed to be brushing their teeth. or bumble forgets to wear his glasses to school. or lumpy forgets to give me the papers he brought home, the ones i was supposed to sign.

i know i wasn't always the most together and with it person, or maybe i never really was, but it seems to me that i have become less and less organized over the years. and yes, i know that i'm not only responsible for myself, but also for all the people that reside in my house, so i've got more work to do just to get out the door. but there are days where i can get everyone up and dressed and moving and out the door on time, but i forget to brush my own teeth. and it seems lately that's how it goes, that i can remember everything for everybody else, but i forget myself sometimes.

i must admit that things are slowly getting better. there are weeks where i remember to help the boys with all of their school work, and only forget the work they were supposed to do for cub scouts. and when i go to the store, i actually remember my list and only forget to buy the things i forgot to write down. and most weeks i actually remember all the places we're supposed to go, even if we're a little late for most of them.

i also know that this state of barely controlled chaos is temporary. as my kids get older and actually become more self sufficient, they'll be able to manage their own affairs and better remember their own responsibilities without needing me to constantly remind them. and one day, i'll look back on all this craziness and wonder where my children went, as eventually i'll be surrounded by young adults who are too cool to hang out with their mother. so i've been told to cherish this time, even though many days all i want is for people to take control of their own affairs so i have the time to manage mine. also, most days i'd like a nap.

March 26, 2013

i wish i could be brave

being brave and speaking my mind on important topics is hard. especially when i always try to be so careful not to upset or anger people. if i know my thoughts on a subject are different, i do my best to avoid talking about.

yet, there are some things that i feel very strongly about, things that i believe in with all my heart. these are the things that i am trying to teach my children, important values that i want to instill. some are basic, but i realize that some are more controversial.

i know that as we go out in the world, we'll encounter people who are different than us, people come from different backgrounds and hold different beliefs. i like to think that i have a very open mind. as long as it doesn't affect me or my kids, i don't really care what others believe. jesus or budda or the flying spaghetti monster, i feel like you have the right to worship whoever you want. but you don't have the right to tell me who or what to believe in. and if i believe differently, you can't tell me i'm wrong simply because your god tells you that i am. my god is one of compassion and acceptance, of tolerance and love.

it's harder still when we want to be a part of things, join organizations and such, and the benefits for my children seem to outweigh the costs of keeping silent. but then sometimes it feels very wrong to keep quiet, like we are all pretending that nothing is wrong by not talking about it. or everybody assumes we all agree on all things just because we are not as vocal with our beliefs.

i feel so weak, and i wish that i could stand up and tell everybody what i really think. because though they haven't always been talking specifically to me, i know their thoughts and views on most things. especially way back in november, they made it very clear what they believe in and what they think others should believe in too.

i'm afraid, also, that if i do find courage to say something, it won't just be me that loses out, i'm afraid that their retaliation would affect my children. now i don't know for sure that it would happen, or that anything would change, but i'm sure i'd be the talk of their little circle. it's hard enough sometimes to explain the cruelty and unfairness of the world to my boys, but then to try to explain to them that they can't be friends with others simply because their parents are so close minded, i know they wouldn't understand. i had a hard enough time trying to explain what slavery was when it came up in their social studies homework. because when they ask you "why would a person do that to somebody else?" i just didn't have a good answer.

and i guess that's my problem. i don't really have a good answer for any of this. i just want people to be happy and treated fairly. and i can't understand why everybody doesn't agree with that.

March 20, 2013

one pot of happy

long ago i spoke of my love of casseroles, how i think they are a wonderfully perfect food. they are easy to prepare, make ahead, throw them in the oven, and all ready for dinner. they almost stress-free to make, and personally i think they're delicious. unfortunately, my kids enjoy eating all their food separately, and therefore do not share my love of casseroles.

there is another style of food i love for dinner, one that is easy to make ahead, one that i can pull out of my freezer and heat up, one that helps keep supper time stress free. i am now talking about my new found love of crock pot meals.

i used to make food all the time in my crock pot. i even have a much loved, falling apart cook book filled with different crock pot recipes. and then, as my boys got older, i stopped. like i've mentioned, they like to eat all of their food separately, spread across their plate in neat piles, eating one kind of thing at a time before moving onto the next. crock pot meals cook everything together, so it's not always easy to separate into different components. and so, for the exact same reason as casseroles, my boys don't like them. and because i got tired of all the complaining, i stopped making them.

lately, though, i've seen all sorts of links and site and talk about crock pot meals. and not just regular crock pot meals, but make ahead meals. these are recipes that allow you to throw everything into one bag, pop it in the freezer, and pull it out at a later date to cook when things get really busy. some recipes are even complete meals, no need to make mashed potatoes or pasta or rice as a side.

i personally think that's a brilliant idea for a couple of reasons. using these make ahead and freeze for later meals means not only do i have dinner for a night where i don't have much time to make anything, it also means that i have something to cook when i don't really have any ideas of what to make, because it's already done for me. also, because these are crock pot meals, it means that i can start it in the late morning, go and be busy for awhile, and still have a yummy dinner all ready and waiting when we need it. the extra bonus of cooking it in the crock pot is that if we are running late, an extra hour cook time doesn't mean a ruined meal like it would if it was a dinner in the oven. an extra benefit i found when preparing these freezer meals is that i was able to make them now when the protein i was using was on sale, so it's even more economical than saving the recipe and making it later.

so yes, today i made 12 meals for future use, all bagged and tagged and stored in my deep freeze. i went through a couple of different sites, picking out the recipes that i thought my family would like best. still, i know i'm going to hear some complaints about how everything is all mixed together, but with three kids it's very rare that i don't have at least one complaining about something i'm forcing them to eat, so i'm not that worried about it. these crock pot meals might just turn out to be my new favorite thing.

right behind chocolate cake.

March 18, 2013

feeling tropical

i'm kind of sick of winter. actually, i don't mind winter, i'm just kind of sick of this time of year. it's still cold and crappy, but then the next day the sun comes out and it's nice and warm. or the sun comes out, but it's so windy it only seems warm, and then when you step outside you realize how bitterly cold it really is. i wish the weather would just make up its mind.

so because the weather has had me down lately, i decided to push past spring and think about summer. warm tropical breezes, the sand and the sea, fruity drinks with paper umbrellas, all of these were my inspiration for a delicious beachy feast.

ok, i'll be real here, a while back i bought a lime flavored cake mix. last year i found pink lemonade flavored cake mix and cookie mix and frosting in a tub, and this year it's back with all its friends in lime flavors. so i broke down and bought the lime cake mix to try. and i decided to use it as a starting point for my tropical meal.

yes, i know, lime isn't overly tropical. but pair it with coconut and pineapple and it is. or at least in my head it is. so when i baked the cake mix, i decided to do a pina colada sort of frosting. or rather it was exactly a pina colada frosting because when i made it, i used pina colada mix in place of the milk and vanilla called for in the recipe, and i mixed in some shredded coconut for good measure. to get some extra pineapple flavor going on, i mixed a bit of crushed pineapple with some of the frosting and used that as a filling inside the cake. with extra coconut sprinkled on the outside of it, it looked very tropical indeed.

after dessert was done, i turned my thoughts to what we were going to eat for the main meal. i decided to try an easy recipe for coconut shrimp that i had found, because i was again stretching the limits of the definition of tropical food. the coconut shrimp was simply peeled and deveined, dipped in egg and then dredged in a mix of coconut and shake'n bake, then baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. it was super easy, and it was a recipe for breaded shrimp that didn't involve frying, so i figured i'd give it a whirl.

to pair with the shrimp, i looked up a recipe that was a mock up for the red lobsters sauce that they pair with their coconut shrimp. turns out it was the perfect way to use up some of the pina colada mix and pineapple that was left over after making the cake.

the meal itself was a hit. the shrimp was amazing, and definitely something i'll make again. i was actually surprised how crispy it got in the oven, but i guess that's due to the magic of shake'n bake. the dipping sauce i made to go with it was kind of weird honestly. for whatever reason, it called for powdered sugar, which i used, but it made the sauce overly sweet. it also wasn't very thick like i would have preferred, but then i don't think i boiled it for the 20 minutes the recipe called for. if i make it again, i'll definitely be tweaking the recipe so it's more to my liking.

the cake was ok, which was actually rather disappointing to me. i used a different recipe for the frosting, one that called for a higher butter to sugar ratio than i'm used to, so i'm not sure why i was so surprised when the finished product was so buttery, more buttery than i like. also, the pina colada mix didn't flavor it as much as i hoped, so if i try it again i think i'll add some coconut extract also, to help bump up the flavor. still, i thought it was edible, and lumpy and fishie liked it well enough. neither my hubby nor bumble would even try it, because the lime cake part was green. very very green. and both of them said they don't eat green cake.

i can't say the whole evening transported me to the tropics, but it was definitely something different, and different can be good. because sometimes different is all it takes to get me out of my winter blues, which was the point of the meal in the first place.

March 16, 2013

naked and free is the way to be

i have always had this idea that i believe is an absolute truth. it might sound crazy to some, but i'm sure there are others out there that will nod their heads along with what i have to say.

all children like to be naked.

it's true, it really is. once a child is old enough to take their own clothes off, it's next to impossible to keep them fully dressed.

my kids all went through that stage. in fact, dear fishie finally grew out of that stage when she grew into regular clothes. she used to unzip her sleepers. she tried to take off her shirts. and if you took off her pants to change her diaper, it's a fight to get her to hold still long enough for you to put them back on. though even now she likes to run around with no pants on. many times after she's done going potty, she comes out just to wiggle her naked butt, which is super awesome when the boys have friends over.

though my boys like to be naked also. when i send them to get dressed in the mornings, or put their pj's on at night, they'll sit around in their underwear until i go up and get them moving again. they even got robes for christmas so they could hang out in their underwear without making their sister jealous, because i'm trying to teach her, as a girl, she needs to wear at least a tee shirt and underpants at all times.

the thing is, i don't think all this semi-nakedness is a very big deal. i, personally, hate to wear shoes and socks. all summer i run around outside with nothing on my feet. my mother tells me it's the way i always was. and i also am not a big fan of pants. now, as a lady, i know i need to wear something, but for a very long time i would wear skirts because it was like the freedom of no-pants but the modesty demanded by modern society.

my hubby, too, is not a big fan of clothes. though i think his views might have to do more with the fact he complains that he is always hot. lucky for him, he is a male and can run around shirtless all he wants. if i tried that, i can only imagine the horror.

the only real problem our clothes-free lifestyle runs into is the fact that most other people don't share it. and i don't mean my family has gone all the way to being nudists, but there were times, like when we would watch movies at home as a family, that the boys wouldn't wear shirts. or socks. and if it was warm enough i'd let fishie be just in a diaper.

because really, what is the big deal with wearing clothes? clothes just get dirty, and spills are easier to clean off your skin. and if you're not ashamed or self conscious, why must you cover up? especially since we keep our clothes-free ways limited to the privacy of our own home, why would any body else feel the need to say anything against us?

maybe this just falls in line with my liberal views. there are certain things that i consider personal freedoms, certain things that i don't understand why people make such a big deal out of. society is a collective mind, it is many voices that speak as one. but its collective voice is not the only voice. and if what i do doesn't hurt or inconvenience others, if it doesn't effect them in any way, then why should i feel ashamed or wrong? what right does somebody else have to make me feel bad about my choices?

March 15, 2013

cherishing mementos vs. hoarding stuff

at the moment, i am spring cleaning and organizing closets, and i remembered i had this and never posted it. i wrote it last june, when we were moving into the house we're in now. i am still no better about not holding onto things for reason only worthwhile to me...

are you tired of hearing about my moving adventures? yeah, i'm kind of tired of talking about them too. but, the fact is that it is the all consuming entity of my life right now. and, if i don't talk about it nicely like this, i'll probably just start randomly screaming on street corners, holding up signs that say "no more cardboard!" made out of cardboard, of course. because when you're yelling on street corners, it helps to get your point across if you look extra crazy.

my point of this post is that i have lots of stuff. too much stuff by some people's reckoning. but i'm trying to get better about all the random crap i keep. there have been boxes of things that haven't moved into the new house, they went straight to the dump or the donation pile. and there have been boxes that i've opened, and instead of trying to find homes of all contained there-in, i have gotten one of our lovely contractor bags (the 70 gallon kind designed to hold bodies), and filled it with all manner of stuffs.

and sometimes, the boxes are filled with things that i just look at and wonder why they got packed in the first place. those are the easy boxes to deal with, because there's no attatchment to them. it's the other boxes that are harder to figure out. ones that are filled with things that i don't really want, but feel like i need in some way. or it's filled with things that are still perfectly good and in working order, but nobody else wants, so i feel like i need to hold onto it, just in case.

just in case is kind of my downfall. that phrase is what does me in. because there have been boxes filled with old books or toys, or perhaps my wedding decorations from years ago, perfectly fine things that could totally be reused, but nobody else wants. so i think about getting rid of that stuff. and then, of course, i think that maybe tomorrow i'll need it, absolutely have to have it, so i should hold onto it. mind you, i haven't needed any of it in years and years, but tomorrow may be different! i made suddenly need to decorate my yard with frilly paper streamers, or absolutely have to set up a tea party for 20 stuffed bears, whose origins i no longer remember. so i have this burning desire to hold onto things, just in case.

that feeling is honestly easier to overcome than the other side of my problem. because i've become rational enough to understand that if i haven't used it in more than three years, or even gotten it out of the box it's stored in for more than three years, chances are i'm not going to need it. and if some random and crazy "just in case" moment comes up that i absolutely need it, i will go and buy a new version. because the truth is, in real today money, none of it is terribly expensive to replace.

the other side of things are the boxes filled with stuff that i deem irreplaceable. stuff that isn't worth anything to anybody else, but that i feel i must hold onto, lest i forget. they are boxes filled with physical memories. and yet, i'm getting to the point where i realize i don't need to save everything. still, it's very hard to figure out what is worth saving for all of time, and what are things i can let go of. because this is really where my problem lies, i want to save everything, and given the space, i know that i would.

ok, so honestly, my problem is that, even though i don't have the space, i try to save everything. like my closet is filled more with stuff i want to hold onto then clothes for me to wear. and the crazy part is, i am perfectly fine going through my clothes and getting rid of the things i don't use, so that i just enough "nice" outfits to get me through maybe a week.

and i can step back and realize that there is something slightly twisted in that viewpoint. but it's really very hard to get rid of the things you can never replace. like the boxes of drawings and art the boys made me, i have a box for every year that they were in school, starting in preschool. i've also saved all their writing and test and report cards. not that i know what i'll ever do with any of it, because i have a funny feeling they'll never want it. i also, for about twenty years, saved every card, birthday or thank you or congratulations, i ever got. i realized it was a silly thing to do, to save every card, so i stopped, but i still have a whole box from when i was still saving that i just can't bring myself to get rid of. and of course there are my notebooks. two boxes worth. most of them are a testament to my craziness. i finally was able to get rid of a box of disks; 20, filled to capacity with randomness, 3.5 inch diskettes to be precise, and the only real reason i was ok with getting rid of them was because i couldn't find the program i needed to open them anymore.

harder still to part with, but easier to rationalize why i keep them, are all the bits and broken things from all the people i'll never see again. i have a jewelry box filled with odds and ends of broken necklaces and bracelets, many from my grandmother who died years ago, some from friends i'll never see again. the hat from the hospital nursery, and pictures and scribbles and other things, all from my dear niece we lost too soon. and then there is the most random box, with a license plate and an old copy of macbeth and all the bits from high school physics projects and all the photos i took and some i stole from photo albums, all the things that remind me of my brother. and so many other random things from all the people i've lost and are gone forever.

so yes, i suppose that's why i really save all that i do. because i'm afraid to forget. memories are not something i can rely on. they twist and confuse me. my mind plays tricks on me. it's really the part of me that i know is not quite right, the part that can't keep the past straight. but with physical things, it's easier to hold them and remember what really happened.

March 14, 2013

the outside world is a scary place

confession time, and because this is what keeps running through my head lately:

i don't like people. i don't like talking to people or being around them or having to deal with them in most capacities. i nearly have a panic attack when i have to call the school if the boys are sick. i get all flustered dealing with their doctors or dentists or friends' parents. i struggle to rsvp for parties they get invited to, simply because it means talking to somebody else. someone came into my house recently to explain to me how to use less electricity, part of a process to qualify for help with my bill, and all i could do was stare and nod answers to questions. when i have to go to cub scout functions with lumpy, i do my best to stand in the back and blend in with the wall. not an easy feat when i also have to wrangle fishie, though she gives me the perfect excuse to cut short any interactions with others.

i also don't like kids. well, i don't mean not my kids, though sometimes they are hard to handle, but mostly i don't like other people's kids. i don't know how to deal with them or what to say to them. i don't want to yell at them, i don't know how to discipline them, and i don't want to be accused of being "too friendly" with them. most of them are loud and messy and hyper, and i can barely deal with my own loud, messy, hyper children. at least i know what i can do and say to my own kids to get them to settle down. other kids are a mystery to me, and i will stand quietly by and let them run amok because i don't know what to do and anything i want to say seems to me like i'd be interfering with whatever is going on.

there were times where i used to force myself to go out and about in the world. i hoped that if i had enough contact with random strangers and crowds of people, it would seem less terrifying over time.

it never really worked.

there were also times where i felt so stressed out that i couldn't deal with anyone, and so i wouldn't unless i absolutely had to. i can remember times where i wouldn't leave my house for days, where the only people i would see where my kids and my hubby. i would take the boys (this was long before fishie was born) and do all my grocery shopping at walmart at 2am on a wednesday because the only other people in the store besides us would be the stockers, and they were too busy doing their job to want to make conversation.

the last few jobs that i had were ones where i didn't have coworkers, because then i didn't have to worry about trying to make mindless small talk. customers i can deal with because i help them with what they need and then they leave and i don't ever have to see them again. it's why, if i ever get another job, i'd probably chose to be a register monkey again. there's comfort in knowing that all i have to do is focus on the task at hand and keep my "how can i help you" fake smile plastered on my face.

i wish i could say, after all these years of trying, that it's gotten easier to go out and about in the real world. unfortunately it hasn't. there so many things that i'd like to do, and many more things that i'd like to do with my kids, but i know if i tried to go , i'd just be freaking out the whole time. the boys, at least, are getting older now, so it's ok if we go and they run off to do an activity, and i can sit in the corner and mind their sister. and it's really not so bad if i have another grown up with me. the stress of taking the kids out in public coupled with the stress of being out in public myself is more than i can handle for more than an hour at a time.

that isn't to say that i never go out. or that i actively avoid letting my kids go out. mostly this confession is that i just hate going out. as much as i might complain about the fact that i have days where i don't talk to anyone other than my kids and my hubby, i still prefer it. but i do know how important it is for my children to get out into the world and interact with others. it is my hope that they don't end up like me. and so we go out, to the park and to playground and to other various activities. i might not like being there, but i know my kids do. just, if you see me, and i start acting weird, understand it's not you, it's me. me and my craziness.

March 13, 2013

you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family

so here's some real talk about my family and the fact that i don't know how to deal with parts of it.

and when i'm talking about my family, i mean more than just my hubby and my kids. i mean my parents and his parents and all of our sisters. which is tricky when you try to think about everyone together, because we're all so different.

i suppose it's something that's always been difficult, blending families through marriage. mine is a story that is just like so many others, the way i was raised and the way my husband was raised were very different. more than that is the way our families interact with each other, which is really what i'm having issues dealing with.

when i was younger, still in high school and living with my dad, i wasn't ridiculously close with my sisters. it's not that we didn't get along, it's just we had very different interests. through growing up and moving out, getting married and having kids, i haven't really gotten much closer to them because our lives are so different. that isn't to say that i don't like spending time or hanging out with them, because i do. just like i enjoy spending time with all of my parents, though it doesn't mean i feel the need to call them everyday. once a week to touch base is usually how things work with my parents and sisters and i.

not with my husband. his family, the relationship he has with his parents and sisters, is close. ridiculously close in my opinion. he calls his parents everyday, and depending on his mood he'll even call his sisters a couple of times a week to find out what is going on. and everybody in their family likes to know what is going on with everyone else. sometimes it causes conflicts, huge blow outs where they don't speak for days. but just as quickly as the drama starts, it ends. they apologize (or not), and get over whatever it was, and move on to the next thing. it might be my hubby and one of his sisters fighting, with the others expected to take sides. and the next weeks it's probably two of the girls exchanging words, with my hubby drawn into the mix.

it boggles my mind, really, how into each others lives they are. to me it seems that they don't make big decisions without running it by everyone else. or they have to share what's going on in detail. which is why, when one of them doesn't agree with the others' choice, what they've done or what they're doing, they say something and then the drama starts. i don't know why they need to share every detail, why they need to be so invested in each others' lives. if they would just focus on themselves and worry about their own little families, their own spouses and children, then maybe there wouldn't be all this constant fighting. because it seems that if it's not one of them fighting, it's the other. with calls of "why can't you just be happy for me?" or "why ask what i think if you won't listen?"

though that isn't to say that i don't sometimes wonder what it would be like if i was overly close with my own sisters, if we over-shared every intimate detail of our lives. i wonder if we would still get along like we do or if we'd fight constantly like my hubby and his sisters?

one thing i do know with 100% certainty is that, if something were to happen, if tragedy were to strike or if any of us needed something, our sisters would be there. angry words forgotten and week long silences broken. because no matter how different our relationships are with our siblings, i know that we can count on each other when we need. and that fact is more important than knowing the day to day details, or lack there of.

March 12, 2013

recipe collection

recipes have always been my things. they always make me smile. i read through them and imagine the smells that would be coming from my kitchen as i go through the steps, and of course i dream of what the finished dish might taste like.

for many many years now, i've been reading different cooking blogs. mostly the ones that focus on sugary treats. oddly enough, though i would page through my cookbooks at random, i was never into collecting books. but recipes from blog sites? totally different story.

maybe it's due to the fact that my digital recipe collection takes up no physical space. so there's no guilt about using up what precious little cabinet space i have now. also, cookbooks cost money, but copy-pasting text from various sites is free! and because i'm not using other peoples' amazing creations for profit or gain, i don't feel bad about collecting them for later.

well, i don't feel bad about using other peoples' recipes because i don't call them my own. but i did start to feel bad about the amount i have amassed. so many wonderful ideas for the kitchen, and so few i actually made. and yet i would continue to read blogs and click links and save files for later use.

finally, i realized it started bordering on the ridiculous. over 400 recipes taking up just over 8mb of space on my hard drive, i think i needed to slow down. and so i have. or at least i'm trying to.

now, though i still look every day, i've been more careful about what i save. there are so many recipes that look amazing to me, but i know i'd never make them. sometimes it's because my family would never eat it. sometimes it's because the ingredients are expensive or hard to find around here. or sometimes it's because the recipe is long and complicated. not to brag, but there aren't too many recipes that are above my skill set, it's just i don't have hours during the day to devote to making a particular dish.

unless it's a cake. i've spread super complicated cake recipes out over days, because i don't have the six hours it would have taken to make it all in one shot. but then, in my mind, some cake is just worth it.

March 11, 2013

my dear smart boy

bumble struggles with school. he has issues and trouble, and he's getting tons of help by very qualified teachers and assistants in school. but that doesn't mean we get to be lazy at home. oh no, part of his action plan is not only all of his school work, but also a rigorous schedule of homework. extra work beyond what is assigned to all of the other kids. he has flash cards and worksheets and general practice we have to do.

a lot of this extra special homework is stuff i can have him do on his own, and then check over to make sure he's getting the concept he's practicing. some of it, though, i have to sit with him and work with him and help him with.

so on a typical day, after all the regular homework stuffs and the special homework stuffs and having dinner (the making, the eating, the cleaning up after), there isn't much extra time to do anything that isn't required. which is why, most nights, lumpy gets to do whatever he wants. his only real duty is to keep his sister quiet so his brother and i can work.

see, for whatever reason, lumpy's teacher this year has said that she just wants to let kids be kids, so unless they're struggling with something they work on in class, she won't assign homework. which means he hardly ever gets homework.

already poor bumble has said how not fair it is that he gets tons of homework and lumpy doesn't get any. honestly, i also think lumpy's teacher's view is a little strange. it's especially strange because last year, when we were in a different school and he was only in first grade, lumpy was bringing home a book every night to read and a math worksheet to practice. and now, because he does so well in class during the day, he rarely brings anything home.

i guess it's also strange to me because to look at both my boys together, to see their abilities, it's amazing how far behind one is and how advanced the other. for the longest time i would worry about what would happen when lumpy would catch up to bumble, because it was clear from the beginning that it would happen one day. well honestly, i shouldn't have worried, because lumpy is miles ahead in reading and writing and spelling, and hasn't made a big deal about it. in fact, my usually un-empathetic boy barely said anything when bumble brought home books to read that he had brought home months before.

it does make me wonder, though, if i had the time to spend with him and help him and work with him, how much further along would he be? all my time is devoted to trying to help bumble catch up to his grade levels, so it's a blessing that lumpy can manage most of his work on his own. i already know he's intelligent, and he's proven that he's clever, it makes me hope all the more that things get figured out with his brother, because i have a feeling that lumpy could really go places and impress people. if only i had time to help him along.

compare, contrast, and change... all with a side of guilt

so there's been a lot of talk of change lately. how different people are doing different things, making positive changes in their family's lives. but change is hard, and for every thing worth doing differently, i have what i feel is an equally valid reason as to why i can't change it right now.

there are those that are going totally organic, or making everything from scratch. families that are spending as much time together as possible, or setting up specific times just for family time. those that are getting rid of tvs, and some that are doing arts and crafts together everyday. and then there are those parents that are just trying to yell less and read together more. those that are cleaning and organizing their homes, or volunteering and raising money for good causes.

and then there is me. i compare myself to all these parents and i feel so inadequate. i look at all the changes they're making and the good their doing, and i think how much better off my family would be and how much happier my kids could be if i could just be more like all those other parents.

it's hard enough for me to deal with the day to day without feeling totally overwhelmed. with my dear husband working and going to school, i don't get much help at home. so it falls to me to deal with bumble and all his school works, to find time to give him all the extra help he needs. and of course lumpy needs homework help too, though thankfully he can figure most things out that he brings home himself. and then there is my dear fishie, who is now three and needs all the supervision a normal three year old needs. also and as always, it falls to me to attend to the cleaning and laundry and cooking and shopping.

and so i sit and look around me and wonder why my house is a mess and my kitchen is filled with quick to make processed foods. why, though we have tons of books, i don't have time to sit and read to my kids every day as much as they'd like. the same goes with all the craft supplies that go unused and all the easy, kid friendly recipes that go unmade and all the games we don't sit and play.

so i feel tremendous guilt. i feel like i am somehow failing my kids. that they could be happier or healthier if only i was able to squeeze more into our days, to actually find a way to make all the good changes that it seems everyone else is making. with that also comes the extra special guilt that crops up when i wonder if, had i been more in-tune with my kids, i would have been able to help bumble more. that maybe somehow all the difficulties he has with school could have been prevented if i had done more with him or gotten him help sooner or sent him to a better school that had the resources to give him the special help he needs. in the debate over nature versus nurture, maybe it was my failings at nurturing from the very beginning that caused all of this.

but then that line of thinking is exactly what goes through my head when i remember fish and all her medical fun. and it's worse with lumpy, because he ended up in the hospital twice for a week at a time with me supposedly "caring" for him. what kind of care was he getting from me exactly?

but then, this is the way it always is in my head. i compare myself to all the happy families i see, and then i think that, if it wasn't for me, my family could be that happy too. my kids could be happy and healthy and satisfied with life if they had a more together and in-tune mom. unfortunately for them, they are stuck with me and all my short comings.

and yes, i know, the glimpses i see of other families don't necessarily mean that they really and truly are happier and better off than we are. and what i'm dealing with is terrible mommy guilt. i might not be perfect, but i am trying. we might not read or play games everyday, but we make time when we can. and though i don't always have the patience to have fish help me in the kitchen, i let her help when we're taking cakes to visit family. and it's totally ok that our house doesn't look magazine perfect, because this clutter suits us better.

i like to believe that, if i asked them, my kids wouldn't trade me for any other mommy out there, even with my imperfections and all.

March 6, 2013


in my past, i have been labeled many things. and because of those labels, it changed people's notions of who i was. and, even worse, i let myself be changed by them. i would try to grow into a label that didn't quite fit, instead of fighting against it or ignoring it completely, which, in hindsight, is obviously what i should have been doing all along.

so i've rallied against them. i do my best to not label people, to let them show me who they are and what they can do, instead of grouping them in with all the other people that they seem like, stamping them all with the same label, and dismissing anything extra they might possess or be. in short, i think labels are bad and i try not to use them.

and yet, i know find myself in the strange position of working hard to label my dear bumble. i want him to be rubber stamped and categorized, because that seems to be the only way he'll get the help he desperately needs.

i love him dearly, and he has many talents and strengths, but school is not one of them. not all of school, and certainly not the experience as a whole. he makes friends, delights his teachers, and sets a good example by working hard and doing his best. and honestly, he's good at math, numbers are his strong suit. it's all those pesky letters that trip him up.

last year he was in a different school. and there he learned to spell by memorizing lists of words. and it was easy to get him to practice by writing and rewriting that list, then quizzing him on it and making him write the ones he missed again. this year, at this new school, they don't use rote memorization to teach spelling, they use a phonics system. it's a system all the kids were introduced to in first grade, and bumble, who is in third, had to learn not only the new lessons but how the whole system worked.

and he just doesn't get it. and i've tried to help him, but it's one of those things in my head where things just are the way they are. like, if there is a silent e at the end of a word it makes the other vowel long, just because that's how it works. so it's hard for him to wrap his head around because i can't really explain it to him.

but it's extra hard because, for his tests, he's supposed to spell the words by saying them out loud and figure our the letter combinations by how the word sounds, all according to the phonic rule he studied that week. but how is he supposed to sound out words if he can't say them correctly? i mean, he sees a speech therapist for an hour a week because he can't sound out word like everyone else. so even though he tries his best, he's barely passing spelling.

and because he can't speak properly and sound words out, and because there also seems to be some break down in his comprehension, he is failing reading. there are levels set by the school, and there are guidelines set by the state, and he sees a reading specialist to try and help him catch up. because he isn't just a little behind, according to all the guidelines he's only reading at a second grade level. like the latest tests he took, he scored at level 20 (whatever that number really means). by the end of second grade/beginning of third, he was supposed to be a level 28. by the end of third, he supposed to be a 42 or something ridiculous. sadly, he's so far behind, i haven't even bothered to see where he's supposed to be grade level wise at this point. his brother, lumpy, who is in second grade, recently tested at level 24. bumble has started bringing home the same books his brother brought home months ago. so you can imagine how fun this is to deal with when faced with competitive brothers.

i am at a loss with all of it. i try to help him. we practice practice practice at home. he does his regular homework, his speech homework, and extra worksheets we've found to try and help him catch up. because i keep desperately hoping that something finally clicks and he just gets it. because he loves school and loves to learn and tries so hard, he definitely deserves to get it.

unfortunately, i've finally accepted that he's probably not just going to get it. that, as much as i love him, there is something not quite right going on in his brain. and so now his teachers, his specialists, and i are working toward getting him a label. because he's getting all the help they can give at school, unless he's labeled with a learning disability. because until they can say exactly what programs he needs, according to his label, then he can't have access to any of them.

this broken system breaks my heart. and as much as i don't like it, i know it's best and the right thing for him. looking toward the future, it's what needs to be done.

March 5, 2013

i'm not dead yet

i know i know i know... i'm really bad at this writing thing.

or maybe i'm just bad with consistency and follow through.

or maybe i'm just at a loss of words that i want to share. over sharing is a problem, but then that leaves me with the "how much is too much" issue. so i err on the side of caution and don't say anything at all.

and then i'm silent for weeks at a time. which is honestly lame and pathetic.

i'm trying, i really am. i'm working through issues, i'm dealing with my problems, i'm tackling this crazy life thing head on.

i'm also going to work on my own time line. i'm not going to do things when i think i should, or how i'm supposed to. because seriously? i make the rules here. i don't know why i care so much what others think if i do things differently, or wrong, or strangely. as long as i stay true to me, what does it matter what others think?

well honestly, it matters tons what others think to me. my head is still back in high school with the worries over what the cool kids will say. it's what makes me bite my tongue and be overly careful what i say. the internet is forever, right?

i know this might not make sense to anyone but me, but this line of thinking is logical in my own head. it's something i'm working on changing, it's something i'm trying to fix. but it's hard. and a long process. and maybe baby steps is where it's at. and posting more here is the first step.

and the second step is no more beating myself up over the fact that i'm not posting often, or as much as i should, or as much as i think that i should.

no promises of posting this time. just that i will try to be better. because really, that's all anyone can do.

January 9, 2013

strange days

these are strange days, full of strange thoughts and weird coincidences.

maybe it's from the foggy haze my brain is in because of this lovely head cold and resulting on slot of medication, but things just seem not quite right. like the world in on a slow, shuffling march forward. things are happening, things always keep happening, but it seems more like the world is spinning on whether or not we are interacting with it. so we plod along just to get by. it's like everything is gray, not good or bad but just is.

(on a random side note [and everything lately seems random], i finally learned the gray/grey trick. i was always confused which it was. then i read somewhere that it's grEy in England and grAy in America. why did nobody tell me this years ago?)

the other thing that strikes me about reality lately is all the coincidences that have been happening. it's like when you learn a new word, and suddenly you see that word everywhere. what's been happening to me is the same sort of thing, only much more depressing, because it's all been suicide and crisis intervention. for instance, i follow people on twitter, famous people and not famous people, who i know don't follow each other, and yet there were bunches of them talking about stress and bullying and mental breakdowns and where to turn if somebody you know needs help. it's honestly a topic i've always thought needed more discussion and openness when regarding it, just strange to hear it brought up by so many at the same time.

maybe it's just the holidays and the new year and everybody's in the slumps. i'll admit i'm not quite fine, but honestly i never really am. things are as good as can be expected. i'm not overly up or down. i just am. oddly enough, a few weeks ago i had a conversation with somebody who was commenting on all the bad luck i've had over the past few months. i thought it strange, because though i usually will dwell on the bad, for every instance of evil he brought up my first thought was how much worse it could have been and how lucky i felt i was. like i said, it's been strange days lately.

one thing i know though, even if the rest of the world has the surreal quality of a dream, i'm still me.

January 7, 2013

the hardest part of motherhood...

...is trying to answer "why?"

bad things happen to good people, and that is a fact of life. things just happen sometimes, not through any fault of anybody, not because they deserve it or were expecting it or planned contingencies for it.

and sometimes terrible things happen to truly innocent people. and that's when it's the hardest, trying to explain how it was a once in a million situation, something that no one every really thought could or would truly happen.

it happens that while you're driving along down the highway of life, sometimes the bad just sideswipes your car and runs you off the road and speeds off into the distance before you can exchange insurance info. and the trick is to try and not live in fear of the what-ifs. even though there is bad in this world, we must try and find the good. we must strive to look for the light in our darkest days.

these concepts are hard for adults to embrace, but it's a million times harder for kids to understand. and so they turn to their parents and ask that magical little word: why? and sometimes it's hard to admit that we just don't know. though when we try to explain, we leave out the unspoken truth: one day bad things will happen to you too. and you'll have to try and pick yourself back up and put all the pieces back together and move on. but you can't let fear and worry rule your life and ruin your day. because worry doesn't stop bad things from happening. the best we can do is surround ourselves with people who love and support us, who will help us when we need it most.

there are so many answers to the question of why, things that we say and things that we left unsaid. our job as parents is to prepare our children for life, all the while trying to reassure and comfort them. and at the end of the day, all we can do is hope that our efforts were enough.

January 4, 2013

welcome to the new year

it's been a while since i've posted. and i really do hate writing those words, but it does seem like i take a break every few weeks. and then i dissappear for a few weeks. but i'm back! again.

and it's the new year already! it's mostly still new. and so i'm going to post a few of my hopes and wishes for this new time, pretty much like every other person anywhere is doing right now.

first, allow me to make the usual excuses for my absence. simply, i blame life. yes, all of it. the unpredictability, the bills and worries and school and family. and kids being kids. life and being out living it and dealing with it and sometimes just struggling to get through it is why i haven't been around.

and now that the excuses are out of the way, on to the promises: i will post more. i will be here and i will share and i won't pull dirty tricks like writing ten posts in one day just set to auto publish. i'll be here and around and will let you all know what is going on. as much as i'm able to at least.

see, that seems to be my problem. i have a very specific line, defined over years of trial and error, of the things i will and will not talk about here. and the biggest thing that happens in my life is that i get so overwhelmed by something i can't see anything else going on in my life. and if that something is a something i refuse to discuss on the interwebs, then i kind of don't have anything to write here.

so that's my other resolution if you will. and something i've been trying to work on for a long time. i am attempting to see more going on in my life then my problems. me being overwhelmed by them is an understatement, sometimes i feel like i'm drowning. and it's not good for anybody when that happens. everything else in my life gets fuzzy when i begin to obsess on one specific issue. and i know i can't do that, i have too much going on at all times. i just don't have to luxury to act that way. i need to realize that sometimes things will work themselves out, and so instead of worrying about the things i can't change and all the stuff i have no control over, i need to shift my efforts and energy to the things i can affect. and then i need to pull back a little further and see all the things in my life that aren't problems or to-dos, all the wonder and amazing things that are always present that i forget to notice when things get stressed.

i'd make other resolutions, but really those are the things that need the most work in my life. i have been and will be working on them, getting better at seeing the wonders of the world around me and sharing it here with you. and honestly, they're not new resolutions, they're my everyday, trying to get better at, slowly but surely improving type things. because working harder at connecting to the people around us is something i think we all need to work a little harder on, every day.