Monday, August 30, 2010


This week I am working on getting the house under control and basically organized. The way I usually operate is that I go through phases of trying really hard, then I find it impossible, then I have some deadline, then I quit trying, a week goes by, and then I try again to get it under control but it's hard because I've let it go for a week. It's actually quite a bit like losing weight, or at least my experience with losing weight.

I have never really known how to keep a clean house, and I have to kind of learn it as I go. One thing I have learned lately is that it takes pretty much constant effort. This is hard because of course I want to do something and then have it be done, but housecleaning is not like that.

An obstacle I have discovered is part of my own personality -- in general, I do not fight losing battles. If I see that I will not succeed at something, I quit trying, to save my energy for something else. This has cost me a couple of friendships and people close to me have been frustrated and annoyed by this habit of mine, but I just can't get interested in wasting energy on things that are guaranteed to not work. It seems like a foolish waste to even try.

But then, I am thinking lately, life itself is a losing battle -- nobody's going to make it out the other end still alive -- but it's still worth it to live. So maybe it's still worth it to clean, even though the house will never actually be clean.

So this week, I am trying to practice the discipline of cleaning every day, whether or not anything actually stays clean. We will see how it goes! Already, there are more clean clothes. ;D

Monday, August 23, 2010


Score one for attachment parenting! I guess all the hard work for the past three years means something after all -- dropping C off at preschool went so smoothly. I have had a harder time eating a cupcake or parking my car than I had dropping him off. It reminds me of me, actually -- I remember my first day of kindergarten so clearly, I think I hurt my mom's feelings because I was so ready to go. Other kids were crying, and I was like, okay, see you later! Same thing C did this morning. So either he is a really secure kid, or he would trade me away for a train table. Or maybe both. ;D

Now Norah is enjoying an extra long, uninterrupted breakfast, and I am marveling at the quiet quiet house.

So proud of my boy! :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Only the Good Notes

Last fall I had a weird moment of realization while I was watching "The Holiday," of all things. I am forever having these epiphanies because of random pop culture tidbits.

Anyway, it's a great romantic comedy, if you like that sort of thing (which I do!), and there is this one scene where Kate Winslet and Jack Black's characters are talking. Basically, KW is a woman who has been in love with a man who likes her but is too flighty and ridiculous to really be in a relationship with her, and JB is in love with an actress who is two-timing him, but I think at the point in the movie where the conversation takes place, they are both sort of attached to these other people (you know, the classic "fall in love in spite of yourself" trope). Anyhow, JB is playing a song on the keyboard, and... you know what, instead of describing it, let me just attach the clip:

When he says, "I used only the good notes," it was like somehow I just looked at my life and I saw that there were so many good things filling it up -- like a table loaded down with bouquets of flowers, or like right before Thanksgiving dinner when all of the dishes are laid out and everyone has made their specialty, and it is special and beautiful and it smells great, and there is laughter in the background. I could see how many "good notes" that God uses in my life. That it was almost obscene how lucky I was.

I have been having moments like that again this week, feeling so grateful that I am almost ashamed. I mean, I am actually ashamed, thinking of the things I complain about -- the laundry keeps piling up, the dishes never end, C has tantrums in public... but then I think, I have a great husband, a house, health insurance, beautiful children, and an extended family where everyone basically gets along. I can afford my groceries. My challenges are real, but they are "detail-level" challenges.

This morning my life feels like a Hallmark card from God -- "Here are all the ways I love you," from Him to me, and I look around the table and see them -- shiny little baby blue eyes, faces smeared with chocolate or bananas, twenty sticky fingers, and then B comes in the door and he is glad to see me and I am glad to see him. It's like God's love was so huge and all-encompassing that I couldn't even see it. I almost can't really think about it, it's too big.

I can't think of a really good way to wind up this post -- I will just say that I am waking up to the huge blessings in my life, and feeling like I need to live my gratitude a little better than I have been. I mean, it's a gorgeous life.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cabbage Two Ways + Preschool!

This week I had a huge head of beautiful purple cabbage from the organic buying club, and I prepared it in two different ways. I made them both up, and they were both really yummy, so I thought I would share. Recipes at the end of the post.

But first, I have to say that I am going through some kind of transition -- I think it is brought about by C starting preschool, me shifting back into getting in shape, N sleeping well, etc. She is in the phase of infancy that I like the best -- still little, round and squishy, but interactive!

But I digress.

I thought I would not cry about C starting preschool, and I am still not sad about it, but I started crying today thinking about it, mostly out of wondering if I did well enough in his first three years, did I give him a good enough start? It sounds silly to write it down like that, because it's not like I'm cutting him off and kicking him out of the house -- he is just going to spend 9 hours a week down the street playing with his friends and learning to share -- but still. It also made me realize how much time I spend with him. In an average week now, I am away from him (i.e., not in the same building) maybe 3 or 4 hours total, and some week it's 0 hours. So going up to 9 hours every single week will be different. I have no idea what it will be like.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to it. I think it's great that Norah and I will have some time together, and I also suspect that I might do a better job of cherishing and enjoying the time I do have with C if it is somehow limited. Don't we always take for granted what we have? Right now -- since N was born, really -- the daily balance is very precarious. I have to let something fall every day, some juggling ball has to hit the ground, and usually more than one. The mental list goes something like this:


I can keep maybe 3 of those consistently in the air, and sometimes a 4th if I am on top of things. But every day I end up having to drop a few of them, and it's hard to decide. But if I don't decide, and try to do them all, then they *all* fall. So I have to sort of shift around which ones I let go on which days, so that they all get some airtime, if that makes sense.

Today Mom, Housekeeper, and Teacher did pretty well, but Editor dropped a deadline and Wife made a dinner that B doesn't really like much, because it was easier than defrosting meat and cooking a different thing. Self had a big day yesterday (went out to a bar to meet my school friend for her birthday) so even though she didn't get to do much today, she still feels fine (and hey, she's blogging right now, so there you go). Mom lost her temper a few times, but she ended well with peaceful happy bedtime stories, so she gets an A for effort.

So that's the merry-go-round of my day. With C learning social things in school for part of the week, I might be able to get some things done without having to compete or choose quite as much, which might make me more relaxed when he comes home. I am just speculating here, but I do know for sure that keeping up with a creative, energetic 2 year-old is a full time job, to say nothing of N, teaching, or chilling with B.

I was also crying a bit because I am so glad that we get to send him to school -- I didn't interact with kids my age until I started kindergarten, and I have always been a little "behind" socially because of it. Even now, when I am on my way to a dinner party or a gathering where I do not know everyone, I have to give myself a little pep talk, and part of me always wants to run when a room has more than about six people in it. So it means a lot to me to take steps to help C avoid that painfully-shy socially-awkward millstone that I drug around during my school years. There are no guarantees, but wouldn't it be marvelous if he just didn't really think about being awkward? Wouldn't it be great if he grew up confident enough to just jump into a situation and be himself?

But part of the tears are because of something I have only realized since N was born. I worry overmuch about C because of his beginnings in life, being a preemie and all that. I thought I was over it, pretty much at least, and having a healthy almost-term birth with N really helped to heal a lot of that, but I still worry more about him. I think part of me will always be sitting by his isolette, hands folded, nervously watching the little beepy monitors and his tiny tiny sleeping swaddled self. But I don't want that to cloud his own experience of his life -- I don't want to tell the story a million times so that he feels like he is somehow responsible. I want it to be a fun fact he tells about himself when he meets a new friend -- I was born 8 weeks early, but look at how handsome and charming I am now! But I don't want it to be a defining feature.

And he is my first, and he is my boy, and he is my baby. My giant, three-year-old baby who can already operate the PlayStation better than I can.

But that is enough of that. On to the cabbage!

Cabbage Two Ways

1. Cardamom Coleslaw

Mix together:
-half a head of purple cabbage, finely chopped
-just enough slaw dressing to barely coat the pieces -- maybe 3 tbsp?
-a splash of white or apple cider vinegar
-grated carrots (if you want)
-crumbled feta
-a pinch of cardamom (a little goes a long way)

It is so good. Seriously.

2. Cabbage and Pasta

Heat 2 tbsp of butter on medium -low. Grate in a clove of garlic and a smallish shallot. Add bacon pieces (I used bacon bits but you could cook some bacon ahead of time and use those drippings instead of the butter.) Add half a head of purple cabbage, cut into thin ribbons. Saute slowly until tender. Put in a bowl.

Boil a pound of whole wheat angel hair pasta (I used Barilla Plus). Drain.

Mix the pasta and cabbage together in a bowl. Add parmesan cheese.

Yum! :) I wish I had a picture to share, but I was juggling a fussy baby at the time so I just got it done quick and ate as soon as it was finished. I was especially proud of this because C ate a whole plate of it, and while B might not have voted it his favorite, he did eat a whole plate as well and didn't have to go to McD's to make up the difference. ;D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back in Balance

I have been delaying my next post because last week I had so many deadlines, I was just working, working, working. This week is much better and I am enjoying my time as Mom and even some time as just me.

N is easily rolling over now, and she does a little inchworm-crawl in combination with rolling over. It gets her across the room but not necessarily with any intention -- she just sort of moves around willy nilly, ending up wherever she will, whether it's under the piano, trying to crawl through a wall (Ow! Mom! My head keeps cramming into this baseboard, no matter how many times I try it! See? Ow! Ow!), or rolling across C's cars and trucks like a bulldozer.

It's funny to me how much less concerned with germs I am with N than I was with C. I was joking with mom the other day that with C, we did everything but boil the carpets. I remember washing everything in water so hot it scalded my hands, and wondering whether I should boil his apple juice to sterilize it before I gave it to him. Now, I pick a pacifier up off the floor, run it under the faucet for a second, and poke it in. ;D

N is also cooing, giggling, gurgling, and blowing bubbles now, which is maybe the funniest thing I've ever seen. C never blew bubbles, but N loves it. I look over at her and and goes grbblllllvvt and then smiles a drooly smile at me. I am not sure why being a parent makes me think that drool is cute, but there you go.

C is preparing for school, which is he very excited about, but I think I may be even more excited. With all due respect to my homeschooling friends, I am not sure how I would ever manage that -- I have a hard enough time keeping him occupied in playtime, and to be completely honest I am looking forward to him having some productive time away from home. I think the biggest thing is that when I can't give him enough attention, whether it's because I'm taking care of N or because I'm working, I feel twinges of mom guilt. But if I know that he is learning and making friends and playing, then I feel good and I know that it is healthy and right. There may be some adjustment but I think he is going to do really well there. We have orientation tomorrow to meet the teachers and see his classroom.

I am working on a story/article idea that is too un-formed to discuss in any coherent way, but I am excited about it. I finally entered my story into a contest. My goal was just to submit it somewhere, and I did it! :) I find out the results of the context of September 30, and then probably find another place to submit it. That is, I will be submitting it somewhere else as long as I don't win the contest. ;D

My other big thing right now is that I am getting back on the fitness train. I had a good gym week 2 weeks ago, and then a really bad (nonexistent) one last week because of the deadlines, staying up too late, sleeping in too late, and dragging through the day. I am very glad to have a more balanced schedule this week.

B just had a root canal, his second in less than a month, and he is tired of getting dental work! He and his bandmate are preparing for their first couple of gigs, and excitement is running high. The latest preparation is a fog machine to add a little mystique to the show. I am very excited for the first gig, coming up at the beginning of next month!

Well, N beckons with an "I'm starving!" cry -- more later!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bricks from Heaven

I was praying the other day about whether or not to join a gym. There is an endless list of pros and cons -- the cost, the convenience, the focus, the potential for real change, how necessary it is, how practical to join or not join, etc.

The answer slapped me in the face a bit: "Do what you need to in order to not think about yourself all the time."

And I realized I have gotten a little [more] self-obsessed [than usual] in regards to weight loss. So what I take away from that unexpected answer is that I should make a plan and carry it out, instead of agonizing. Don't try, do! So you can move on to more important things.

I joined the gym and am enjoying my first week, and enjoying the extra mental space I have now that I am not sitting around wondering whether or not I should join the gym. ;D