Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyclocross races

Mr. T ringing the cowbell at the Cyclocross races. This also involved a make-your-own oatmeal bar and a bonfire. As should all events.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Sleepover

Miss E had her first sleepover party this weekend. One of her friends was turning 7 and had a sleepover with 5 girls to celebrate. I was a little nervous but really it was the best situation we could have had for her first sleepover. The birthday girl is the daughter of some close friends of ours who also happen to be exceptional parents and kid-wranglers. And it was a total success. Miss E had a great time, they made a super-cute stop motion animation film and she got along well with all of the girls (2 of whom she had never  met before).  I felt really good about the entire thing.

Tonight, just after Miss E went to bed, she came out complaining in a giggling voice that her room smelled like fart - yes, little girls find farts hillarious also. A little bit later, I walked by her door and found this note on the floor in front of her door (her spelling):

Dear Mommy,

I think the fart smell is from Daddy! Please keep this a secrit! : )

I love you so so so so much

Love, E

P.S. When I smelled my pillow it smelled like fart!

P.P.S. This is really a mistery!

P.P.P.S. You can write a mesege back in this space:

I just cracked up. I mean, how adorable it that? She is endlessly amusing and growing up so quickly. Although not quickly enough that fart jokes still aren't silly. But fast enough that she's having sleepovers and learning compound words and multiplication tables all at a pace that feels a bit too rapid for me. I just love her.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas Card anyone?

I've been in a tax class for the last two days (ugh....) and haven't been taking any new pictures. I had to share one more from our walk last Sunday though. This so perfectly represents the kids. Miss E being a bit annoyed with the picture taking and her over - exuberant brother and Mr. T just hamming it up for both.

On a side note, this is the first year that Peter hasn't had to burn 12 or 24 hours of vacation time for me to go to my continuing ed class! He only had to take 3 hours off on Wednesday to drop the kids at school and then my mom picked up Mr. T at 2:30 (which he was SUPER excited about) and came home to meet Miss E's bus. School is pretty awesome, despite the fact that I feel like I have no time with Miss E anymore. I miss hanging out with just her and this weekend she's going to be gone both nights! One night to my parents and then the second night to her first sleepover party. Also, first sleepover party? When did my kid get that big?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Me and Mr. T

I always swore I wouldn't be one of those moms who's never in the pictures. I want my kids to have a record of their childhood, but I also want them to have a record of me in it. However.  I don't love the way I look in pictures is Peter is not a great photographer and the few that do have me in them don't turn out well. This one was taken by Miss E on our walk on Sunday. I hadn't showered, was wearing a wool hat for most of the day and obviously need to re-dye my hair (it's pretty bad, no?). But dang it, Miss E took a picture of my smiling Mr. T and I. I'm not deleting it.

In other bad picture news, here is Mr. T's school picture:

People. What happened here? He looks like he's about to be poked with a stick by an axe murderer. That's my smiling Mr. T. You know, the adorable kid with dimples in the first picture of the post? I cannot figure out what events occurred to create this travesty of photography. So now I'm trying to figure out if I should have them re-taken or not. Thoughts?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walking in the woods

The kids and I were feeling a bit cooped up this morning so we headed to a local nature area for some hiking, exploring and photos. My class assignment this week is just to take pictures of leaves, which feels pretty open ended to me but I'm going with it. Turns out my walking picture-taking speed is about the same as the kids hiking speed so we had a pretty good time. I ended up taking a bunch of pictures of the kids, because that's what I really like, and a bunch of leaves that I can't tell if they are good or not. Honest to God, my instructor walked into our last class with a brown/yellow curled up dead leaf and espoused on how wonderful it was to take pictures of. Not the pretty red or orange leaves, but a holey dead brown one. I don't know. The one below is one of my favorites that I took today but then again, I'm more likely to frame the cute one of Mr. T's face. To each his own I guess!

Yesterday, Miss E and I were out playing at a park and taking pictures and I took this one of her:

I'm not sure if I like it in black and white better just to tone down her sweater a bit. Miss E is so fun to take pictures of. She hates posing but I also hate taking posed shots so it works out. For this I just asked her to jump up and down a few times, which she happily did. Maybe I'll just take it to my class anyway. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day! The kids are off of school, I am making blueberry muffins and Peter is attempting to fix our furnace. Instead of the long-ish post I was thinking about commenting on how proud I am of my Dad's service in Vietnam and how saddened I by the after effects of war, I will leave you with this little conversation that Miss E and I had this morning.

Miss E: What's Veteran's Day?

Me:  A day in which we celebrate our veterans. Grandpa's a veteran.

Miss E: I  know, because his parents fought in the war.

Me: Well, he fought in a war too.

Miss E: Why didn't he die?

Me: Not everyone who fights in a war dies, quite a few of them come home.

Miss E: Like Obi Wan Kenobee?

Me: Ummm...yeah, kind of like that.

Happy Veteran's day to my Dad, our own personal Obi Wan Kenobee.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Purse Strings and the Pressure

For the one who holds the purse strings:

New shoes for Mr. T, wait make that new shoes for Mr. T and two new pairs for Miss E.
Pajama's for Miss E
School fundraisers
Girl Scout field trip (to the zoo! almost overnight!)
Christmas pajama's
The power company
More groceries
The phone company
More groceries
Our mortgage
Property taxes
More groceries
Aftercare for Mr. T
Upcoming vacation...

etc., etc., etc., etc.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, managing the day to day expenses for a household is a HUGE task. Doesn't seem like it should be but wow. There is a lot of stress and maintenance that comes along with it.

Making the burdens on our shoulders light so we don't go about our days feeling the weight is, I think, one of the biggest tricks to parenthood. Handling the responsibility, the stress, the pressure with a light heart and a happy attitude.

One quote that I found recently that I love is this: "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

So many people I think wait for their lives to calm down and be tension free to feel peaceful and happy when the reality is that you need to be able to feel peaceful and happy in the midst of the chaos.

There. A few words of wisdom from an admittedly not-wise lady, but it's free. And these days, that's a bargain. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Business of Marriage

At the heart of it, a marriage is a business. A business whose success is reflected in a well-run household, secure finances and happy children. The people who make that happen? Mom and Dad (or Mom and mom or Dad and dad or whatever combination thereof...). There are a few different ways this business can be set up. The 2 most common (stereotypical and generic) ones are outlined below:

1) Equal partners. Both parents work full time and share household/childcare duties.

2) Separate Divisions. One parent stays home, the other works. In this situation (USUALLY), the stay at home person is in charge of the household, the schedule, the meal planning, and for the most part, the raising of the children. This person does the bulk of the childcare, housecleaning, cooking and scheduling. The other person brings in income. In this relationship power is split. Each person has their domain and works within it.

And then there's the method we use - which may possibly be the worst way of running the marriage business. So. Peter works about 72 hours a week (including overtime). I work 15 hours a week. I also manage the schedule, the household, the meals and the bulk of the childcare. Because I work 15 hours a week. Here's the problem though. My work hours are in the middle of the week, during the day. Leaving Peter to handle the daily childcare, household duties and, often, to cook dinner on those days. Which  means I am telling him what to do for the day when I leave for work because I know the calendar, know what each kid needs to do and made the meal plan and shopped for dinner groceries. He basically has to implement the plan. Which ends up kind of like me being the boss and him the employee. Which is no good.  Because:

1) He hates being told what to do (juvenile I know but we are who we are)


2) this puts me in the position of checking up on him to make sure everything got done OK and see #1.

It's endlessly frustrating for both of us. He feels like I don't trust him to take care of stuff at home and I feel like he doesn't respect the systems I have in place and the work that I do. In the end we are stuck. Financially, the family needs me to work. Logistically, we need me to stay at home. This has been the impossible dichotomy I have been working under since Miss E was born. I think quite a few fire families end up in this boat since for several reasons (the fire schedule being the main one) regular day care is not a practical option but at the same time, while Peter makes a good living, it's not quite enough to get us by.

My main problem with this system is that nobody ever gets to claim the credit. He never gets the props and sense of pride for earning all of our money and I never get to fully claim ownership for how well the house and kids are doing. It's like an endless competition to the point where when I come home from work, if he has cleaned anything he immediately lists it out for me like he's waiting for a gold star and I  let him know whenever I'm covering the family's extra expenses out of my bank account. And then I get annoyed that he's making a huge deal over the fact that he cleaned the sink and I'm sure he gets annoyed when he's reminded that he doesn't make quite enough to support us.

Add into this that we disagree on parenting methods (oh boy is this a big one...) and it ends up feeling like constant tension. And competition. And having winners and losers and constantly having to prove or defend yourself. It really is, I believe, the worst way to run your business.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


A very rushed Halloween picture  - they were in no mood to pose long, trick or treating was waiting!

1. I have been too busy and it's not good for anyone. On the flip side, I've learned how much I can and cannot do so hopefully this won't happen again.

2. Halloween was awesome except this year, the kids are counting their candy. Every year up until now, we have kept their buckets on the counter and given them a few pieces each day and thrown a few away each night. About a week after Halloween we let them pick 2 or 3 last pieces and then toss the stash. This has worked well, as they haven't been eating that much candy but they also haven't been feeling deprived of it. This year though, they are keeping track so we need a new system. Dang it.

3. I'm in love with this blog , it takes me back to my feminist theorist days of college in a fun way, which I never thought was possible.

4. My kids have stopped eating food. Miss E went to school with yogurt and pirate booty in her lunch and that's it. I'm pretty sure Mr. T ate pretzels for dinner last night. Meanwhile, Peter and I had a delicious corn chowder which neither of them would touch.

5. Also, tears in the morning for the last few mornings. This morning I even pulled out the "some kids aren't lucky enough to have winter coats". Not my finest moment. Once I calmed down I explained that throwing a fit because our perfectly lovely and warm winter coat was "too puffy" was not in any way ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR.

6. Mr. T has been waking up screaming on and off for the last month because he thinks there's a monster in his closet. It's heartbreaking. Also a bit jarring to be woken up by screaming at 6:30 in the morning.

7. I can't wait for soccer to be over! This year has been a bit of a debacle for a variety of reasons and I am just so glad to be putting it behind us. Hopefully next year will be better.

8. Peter went to each kid's class yesterday with all his gear to do a fire safety talk for them. The kids were SO PROUD of him and Miss E told me that kids kept coming up to her all day asking her questions about him.

9. Speaking of Miss E, she's in a 1/2 blend class and is on the topish end of the 2nd grade curriculum. And she has another year in this class. Fortunately, once kids learn to read the stuff they can learn widens (umm.... the more stuff there is to learn? the depth of the academic field widens? you know what I mean) so we are going to be supplementing a lot.

10. Last night we finally showed the kids Star Wars and oh boy was there a lot to explain. Considering they have only seen animated no-fighting things so far, we spent most of the movie answering questions. About what war was and space travel and ships and who were the good guys and who were the bad guys and on and on... Miss E had a TON of questions about HOW the movie was made - are the actors really dead or just pretending? How did they film that scene? How did they do the space effects? Which kind of led me to believe that  a home-school type unit on movie production might be fun. We could write a movie, act it out and film it. Maybe in January.

11. I am continually amazed by how sweet, funny and awesome my kids are. I'm a really lucky mama.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Miss E

My dear Miss E. You're 7. I cannot believe that 7 years have gone by since the day you were born. When you were in my tummy, your kicks were so strong that I commented to your daddy "I think we have a strong one here" and then for your birth. Honey, you went through 3 days of labor with nary a drop in your heart rate. You walked first in our playgroup, you put on your clothes at an impossibly young age. You were the first kid doing and undoing your own car seat straps. I feel like your whole blessed life I have been trying to keep up with you and the way things are going I don't think that's going to slow down anytime soon.

This year has been a big one for you. You're lost 5 teeth including your two top front ones which is adorable. You started first grade but you are past all the first grade (and most of the second grade) curriculum so we are trying to figure out what the heck to do about that. You read, you do math, you make these incredible books and drawings, it's all just amazing to watch. You started riding a bike with gears You do not like to be told what to do. You started sleeping in! This doesn't seem like a big thing but when you have kids you'll understand. Here's what you are NOT INTO: princess things, playing dress up, superheros (although you will humor your brother sometimes), pink. Here's what you are into: science, writing, reading, picking out your own clothes (which must be comfortable and somewhat girly), mailing letters, drawing. You are thus far neutral about sports which I can't quite figure out.

Here are some words Daddy and I have described your personality as this year: smart, strong, sweet, powerful, empathetic, fierce, awesome, kind, delightful, fun, exasperating. No other person in this entire world has made me stretch more to be better. To learn, to really think about how I'm parenting, what I'm feeling and what kind of person I am. You make me want to be a better person. I mean, all parents want to be better people for their kids but something about your toughness combined with your tenderness makes me want to just be perfect for you. And while I never will be perfect, I do try and be my best. Although often I'm not and neither are you and we are learning how to work through those times together. We are both learning how to manage our emotions, to be kind in the face of anger and to think about what's best for the family.

The other night, on Halloween, Mr. T had a melt down while trick or treating. He had devised a system where you would each take turns getting to the door first but he was slower than you and you knew that it doesn't matter who gets there first that you both get candy and he just lost it. You stood there for a minute looking at him and then we urged you to just go ahead, trick or treat on your own while he calmed down. You went up to that house, said trick or treat and then asked if you could have a candy for your brother as well. Then you came down and gave it to him. You did that as the next few houses too, until he recovered and then for the rest of the night you went together, with you gently encouraging him to go to the houses he was scared of. It's things like that, that just define your personality for me. For all your toughness on the outside (which will serve you well in life) , you are very tender on the inside (which will also serve you well). A few years ago, Nana told me that it would only be a lucky few friends that would be let in to KNOW you as you truly are. And she's right. The people in your life that you let see that tender side will be lucky.  Every once in awhile Daddy and I joke that on your wedding day (should you choose to get married) we are going to give your husband (should you choose a husband) a card that just says "good luck". It's partially facetious and partially true but the real truth is that whomever you let love you in your life will be a fortunate person indeed.

I hope that down the line, when you are grown, we have the sort of friend-relationship that I have with Nana because, lady, I just really like you. You are smart and fierce and funny and sweet and observant and full of a sense of yourself that most grown ups don't have yet. Happy happy birthday my dear. I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.