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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

dreads and bellies and adorable little people

How is that for a title? HA.

Just wanted to share some photos dada took this weekend (particularly for grandmas and aunties and those types)

check out the black "accident" occured involving
big brother's wooden sword (EEK)

i have a theory...

My theory is that my dominant mood when pregnant impacts my child's personality...or that their personality or spirit, if you will, is affecting my personality while pregnant? However you want to look at it...

What do you think? Is it true for you?

With little man I was, well, coming home from very stressful work in a war zone and was detoxing from the experience while pregnant. I was emotional, moody, passionate, and highly creative. This is very much little man. With little miss I was in a much more contented and calm state of mind but doing a lot of work that required me to be bull-headed, opinionated, spirited. This is very much little miss.

A friend of mine points out that our moods when pregnant - stress levels, contentment, happiness, mood swings etc - results in chemical changes in our bodies which are very likely swirling through baby as its growing and forming too. She said she read a study of babies born to women affecting by post-traumatic-stress disorder and that their babies couldn't actually process high levels of cortisol (the hormone your body releases under stress) making them more agitated and anxious.

Interesting, right?

With this pregnancy I have been...creative but in a more thoughtful way, maybe more academic-oriented, confident, emotional but fairly peaceful. It will be interesting to see who this little person is...only 6 or 7 more weeks! (or maybe 8...)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

embracing "Fun Mama"

It is hot. Sticky. The belly is huge. The contractions are endless. Everything hurts. But the sun is shining. Everything is green. It is summer. And my kids are awesome. So I have sworn I will spend the next several weeks (until my energy inevitably gives out) being Fun Mama.

You know her, right? The Mama who says, its 30 minutes till dinnertime and you want your second popsicle of the day? SURE. You want to go on the rip off five minute train ride at the mall for 3$ a pop? SURE. ALL ABOARD. You turn on the hose (a big no no) and point it over your head and then over your sister's head... with your clothes on... and then look at me? Uh. SURE. WHY THE HECK NOT.

That is where I am at.

Sometimes its good to let Fun Mama loose. She is a bit wild. A bit unconventional. But, she needs her freedom every now and then too.

"laser thingy" wars

endless bowls of cherries

fierce guys

the hose...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

more school woes...

So, just when you think you have everything figured out...well, you never do, right?

Our little nature school program isn't working out like we thought.


Well, we have had a few run-ins with the teacher. She is one of these awkward around adults people, more comfortable with the adoring children at her knees. She tries to tell us what we need to do to "fix" little man - which makes me bristle and immediately defensive.

More importantly, little man isn't really loving it like we had hoped. The first day he was ecstatic. Butterflies! Walks to the lake! Rain puddle splashing! The next week he was crying when I picked him up, and its been down hill since then. For the past three days now he has woken up anxiously asking "is today school?" and then when I say no he looks relieved and says, emphatically, that he doesnt want to go on the appointed day....

which is tomorrow....

or ever again for that matter... "Can you just ask for your money back?" he asks pathetically. (And I feel like crap that he knows we pay money for him to do this.)

So now you see our dilemma.

Do we stick it out and send him?

Here is the thing about that though. This isn't like kindergarten. He doesnt HAVE to go. Its not like day care either. I dont NEED him to go. This is supposed to be fun. Making new friends. Learning and growing. It's not school. It's a NATURE PROGRAM. Is it worth it if he spends three out of seven days each week dreading it, crying, and then the day of upset and, frankly, mad.

Last week his teacher even told me he cried on and off all morning, wanting mama, bravely trying to save face by telling the other kids he got "something in his eye." Doesnt that just melt you??? I mean, do you force that to happen every week??

And more, does he NEED to "learn to be away from mama" at FOUR, as the teacher keeps telling me? I mean, is that an important "skill"? I doubt he will be doing this at 12, or even 8 for that matter, so, is it that so crucial so as to force him to do it?? We are not "cry-it-out" at 6 weeks old because they "need to learn to self-soothe" kind of people, so this attitude just doesnt really feel right to me.

And he CAN be away from us. He goes into Sunday School every week just fine. He has friends there. He plays happily, listens to storytime, sings the songs. No problem. We have never had any screaming incidents. No tears of separation. (Although we didnt force him to go until he wanted to, our kids never go into nursery, they sit with us in church.)

And I guess you could say we should be teaching him stick-to-it-iveness (made up word, sorry) Don't quit even when its hard, etc etc. and all those good things. four? Over something that literally makes him anxious for days out of the week? Why? What is he really learning? That playing in the sprinkler or going to the lake with kids he doesn't know all morning is an important life lesson? More important than his feelings?

And then I also wonder, is the whole new baby and changes coming up throwing him for a loop? Maybe he needs me, needs to be home?

So really. Here is the question.

Why is being at home so bad?

I mean, if we take him out, and GASP, do "nothing" next year (and I put nothing in quotes because everyone knows nothing is hardly NOTHING in the life of a SAHM) is that really so bad of us? I mean, are we stunting his development or something? Are we holding him back by well, holding him back?

I feel like I will have to justify his being at home the whole year with some kind of program or something. But frankly, the idea of driving a kid to school at 8am, preschool or whatever, with a newborn and toddler in a Minnesota winter....not too appealing.

But of course that is not the issue here, my convenience, its about him.

If he wants to be at home, still needs that, is that so terrible? This morning he told me he doesnt want to go now or in the fall, maybe when he is "bigger, like eighteen."

And if I am okay with that, and I really am, does that make me some crazy antiquated mother??

Sooooooo ready to move to my goat farm where there are no preschool programs for miles around and be done with the whole question already...dammit.
Monday, July 18, 2011

one of those "life is perfect" moments

Have you ever taken your children out in public - to the zoo or a restaurant or something - and have them act like the most charming, adorable, well-behaved little tykes on the planet???

Aren't those moments divine???

We had one of those recently, on a little trip we took to visit my sister.

It was before it turned gruesome hot here. The babies happily sat in the stroller as we walked around the cute little downtown festival. Then they played it up at the Children's Museum. And then they napped. BOTH OF THEM. FOR HOURS. (It was AH-MAAAAZ-ING.)

Then they awoke, cheerful and sweet, and we walked from our hotel, in the late evening summer light, through the cute Capitol square area, to a little Italian restaurant, where they charmed the socks off of everyone, myself included.

We were one of two families with kids in the whole place (the other family with kids ended up standing in front of the TV watching the ballgame the whole time). You know how it is, when you walk into a place like that, you get a few uncomfortable glances, a few worried looks. "Why are they bringing their kids in here?? Isn't it too late for kids to be out?? PLEASE not by my table!!"

It's nice to prove people like that wrong.

By the end of the dinner we actually got compliments from around the room. "The best little diners I have ever seen! What angels!"

AH. Yes. Of course. They always act like this, don't you know? HA HA.

But it made dada and I feel proud, regardless of how lucky we might or might not have gotten. Like maybe, we are doing okay at this whole parenting gig, you know? Like the choices we have made, however hard, the sacrifices however mind-numbingly frustrating at times, have paid off, and will keep paying off.

A good feeling.

So bring on the new week of sick-o heat, whining kiddos stuck indoors, aching tired pregnant body chasing after these little squirmy people, those moments in the fading sun of a hot July day will get me through it all...for a bit anyway.

Double fisting spoons for quicker ice cream consumption :)
Wednesday, July 13, 2011

sun bonnets and peasant skirts

So, whenever I get the urge at this stage in pregnancy to start being crafty for baby I first have to create for the "Others" - the big kids that will soon get the short end of the crafty stick, so to speak.

When pregnant with little miss I wanted to knit and knit all winter (ironic because she was a baby through the hot summer and didnt wear all the knitted goods very much. This baby will be in his/her prime in the winter and I am having to force myself to think about knitting.) But I dutifully made big brother a sweater first. A horribly scratchy affair that was too short ... and that he refused to wear.

In this case I chose to make baby girl a sun bonnet and matching skirt.

I saw this amazing sun bonnet at the local super-duper expensive kid store. Reversible with a large visor to block out sun that can be folded back to use as a regular hat in cooler weather.

It kinda looked like this one (except they were charging FIFTY DOLLARS for it???)

Looks like a snap, right?

So, yesterday I decided to undertake this. With all the contractions of late I decided to put myself on bedrest for a day or two, sewing seemed like a good way to still be productive.

I dug out fabric and found these pieces. And then I found more and thought, hmmm, two hats. But then my computer was acting up and I couldnt get on the internet to look at the Etsy hat as a model. So I tried to wing it. Cut out shape. Sew separately. Put right sides together. Sew in ties. Voila, hat!

sewing right sides together...and yes, the only way this
sewing was possible was the veiwing of PBS kids...
...all morning long

you can see the displeasure...this hat got ties (from the
straps of the shirt i cut apart!) i like the button closure better

i should've left the button on the little sticking out strap
i originally made...i cut it off without trying it on,
thinking it would be too much strap...once i wrestled it
onto her head i discovered it was much too short.
i need to sew the button side strap back on...

her look says it all. she is NEVER wearing this hat...and it
totally doesnt fit right.
Except it didnt fit right.

And then she wouldnt try it on altogether.

So, after the kiddies were in bed, and the internet was back up, I ripped them both up and added a back piece, to give more shape to the hat. Ugh. Still doesnt fit right. the back piece should be narrower at the bottom. I think I will rip it out again today.

She still wont try them on. I am hoping this baby is a girl, just for the sake of these cute hats. Although I do plan to make a gender neutral one for baby (with matching shoes!) now that I have assuaged my guilt.

The skirts were MUCH more successful, probably because I was following the instructions from this book. (HA HA.) Its a great little book with tips and pointers and shows the shape of pieces needed and gives general guidelines on varying sizes but doesnt require you to cut out tedious patterns and blindly follow insstructions. I seriously HATE patterns. The pinning. The cutting out of little diamonds to line things up just right. UGH. Takes all the joy out of creating, in my opinion. I would rather be ripping out and trying again (as with the hat) than going through all that! So the general guidelines in this book are perfect for me.

In any case. The skirt was pretty simple. Cut out three tiers of coordinating fabrics, with each one being approximately 6 inches longer than the one above it. You could do this with more tiers (if you had more patience at time!) for a super cute skirt. The top tier was about 36 inches (for a 2-3 year old size). Sew the strips together to make a loop. Make the waistband at the top with a little ruffle at the top and a "pocket" for the elastic to slide through. (Tying your elastic in a little knot makes it easier to shove through. Dont put it in yet though!)

Now it gets a tiny bit tricky. Hand sew all the way across the top of the next tier, to make a gather. Arrange the gathering "just so" so the loop is the same length as the upper tier. (So pulling it to 36 inches.) Sew these together, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER (I put that in caps because this is my number on thing to remember when sewing. Nothing is worse than sewing the wrong sides together and having to rip it out...) Now do the same to the lower tier. Now make a hem at the bottom of the skirt. For one of my skirts I used the decorative hem of an old shirt as the bottom tier (I used more of the fabric from the shirt for the coordinating ining of the - as of yet unworn - sun bonnet.) Now put the elastic in. Make sure there is room in your elastic for your little miss to grow as this is a long skirt that can be worn for awhile. Ripping out the finishing seam to make the elastic bigger is a pain. (I did this last night. HA.)

So here are the results. Cute right?

i love this one. the top tier fabric is leftover from a dress i made
when i was FOURTEEN. the middle one is from
a dress i made at 16...

she refuses to take off this toy story shirt

i snatched the shirt off her head super quick to
catch the whole skirt...

she proceeded to hug the sunshine...and then
yes, we put the shirt back on...  :)
Confused? Write me your questions. It was fun to do and a great use of scraps. I plan on digging around for more clothes to cut up for the nice fabric soon.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011


We are having one of those days. Little man woke up refusing breakfast and shrieking for chocolate ice cream. After lunch, which he wouldnt eat, he then starts shrieking for candy. Then he wakes up little miss only half way into her regular naptime. And shrieks for candy again. (Dada bought some at the store over the weekend. I am tempted to let them eat it all up so its DONE. You know?)

This shriek makes me C-R-A-Z-Y. Like, I want to punch myself in the face kind of crazy.

We play outside for awhile. Then he declares, while stripping off his wet swim trunks in the middle of the yard, that he is done with water play.

So we go inside.

Its hot. The crafty project I tried to do for little miss is 1) a failure and 2) she refuses to wear it (will post about that later). Then dada texts to say the predicted $200 car repairs are going to cost close to $1,000. On our minivan. That has over 150,000 miles on it.


So now? I am eating chocolate grenache while the children quietly play at the table. How is this possible?

Homemade playdough.

Playdough is seriously SO easy to make. And with little miss still sneaking tastes of it now and again its nice to know all the ingredients are in fact edible.

little girl mixed her colors, brother was appalled, of course.
Here is the recipe I used. I totally just googled it. You could too. But, here it is just the same.

Cream of Tarter Playdough Recipe

2 cups of plain flour
2 cups of water
1 Tbsp. of cooking oil
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a medium size or large pan. Cook slowly on medium-high and stir it until the playdough thickens. Keeps best in the fridge in plastic containers. This is simular to the traditional playdough recipe.This recipe takes less than 10 minutes.

We added around 8 drops of food coloring to separate balls of dough to make colors.

(ETA. No promises on the length of play this will provide. Little man just declared he was done and is now running up and down the hall with his lego spaceships making shooting laser type noises. Did I mention dada is working late? YIPES.)
Monday, July 11, 2011

the story of little man

My body was contracting for a week before you came. I spent hours pacing the floors of the house, literally wringing my hands, and crying.

Was this supposed to happen?

We went to the hospital late one night. I was 1cm dialated. The nurses laughed and sent me home. I was so mad no one was taking me seriously. THIS IS REAL! I wanted to yell at them.

The next day I decided to smile through the pain, not let it get to me. We went to the park, next to the rose garden by the lake. Your dada laid out a blanket. Sitting under the crab apple trees, shaded from the summer heat, I finally felt at peace with you coming, the not knowing of it all.

My giant belly, with you squirming inside, was so uncomfortable in the heat but, I was at peace. We ate grapes and salads from the deli and talked and laughed. I laid with my head in your dada’s lap, squinting up at the blue sky, sunlight dancing through the leaves.

At 2am that night my water broke.

I was ready.

We went to the hospital. The same nurses let us in this time. I refused drugs for hours. I wanted you born under the best possible circumstances. Finally I relented, just to take the edge off they told me. I rolled on a ball, listening to music through my ipod, the same ipod that saw me through flight after flight into Baghdad, runs in the dusty heat. This time I, as a warrior, focused in on the music, each wave of pain rolling through me, requiring concentration I didn’t know I had.

But you wouldn't come.

They told me you were stuck, your little head tilted to the side, and your heart rate was dipping. I didn’t know then but that was pretty normal at 7cm and in transition. I learned later that if I had gotten up, walked around, moved a little you would’ve likely un-stuck yourself.

But, I didn’t know. I was scared and tired. I took the epidural. They gave me 30 minutes of lying on my side to "see if that helps."

When they came back they told me you would have to be cut out of my belly. I was devastated. I sobbed and sobbed. Please, isn’t there any other way? I wanted this to be perfect, your entrance into the world. I should've fought back but I didnt know.

Resigned to what they told us, they wheeled me into the sterile room. I was exhausted from 16 hours of struggle, plus the days before of pre-labor. The doctors worked for an hour to un-wedge you out of my pelvis. I choked on my vomit, neon green stomach bile, and lurched to the side. They yelled at me to be still. I focused my breathing, again, for you, taking tiny gasps of air so they could get you out.

Finally they pulled you from me, and cut the cord that attached us together for so long. I felt suddenly empty, like part of me had been removed. But then they held your wriggling red and bruised body over the curtain so I could see you.

My boy. My son. My Jack.

They took you to the table to check you out. I wanted desperately to hold you, touch you, but I was too tired to insist. Your squall sounded so scared, almost frantic. I could see you on the little table right by my head. Dada crying tears of joys over you.

I called out in a croaking voice, "It's okay, little man. Mama is here. I am here!"

You immediately stopped crying and turned your head toward me.

And in that instant I fell in love. We were no longer one, but you were mine.
Saturday, July 9, 2011

a humid day in july - blackberry poetry

Thick wet air, pressing in
Hazy skies
Patches of yellow, pink and red flowers nodding to the wind
Acknowledging its path with a rippling wave of color
Cicadas, joining, letting out a riotous call, then settling in to silence, listening to the green things call out their song

For the world is green
Green all around
Green inside and out
Laughing at winters desolation
Ridiculous and forgotten
The air itself growing, alive, the vibrations all around

And I too am the same
Thick, hazy, growing
Lazing in the breeze
Vibrating with life
Calling out to the world, in a riotous whoop
I hear you!
I feel you!
I join you!
Green with life, like you!

A humid day in July
Wednesday, July 6, 2011

have patience...have patience...

I am impatient. We all know this. I work on it. I try. But patience is not one of my "natural giftings" you could say.

When I was little the number one most annoying things my parents would do would be to sing this little horrible song called "Have Patience" (click here if anyone who knows what I am talking about wants to relive their childhood) which was supposed to encourage us in the developing of this character trait. The song was about a snail kid whose snail dad is trying to tell him that being slow is a great thing. Or something like that. (And yes, my father would sing it in the slow snail voice, adding to the torture of the song.)

They would sing this when we were in a hurry to open birthday presents or, more likely, waiting for some dawdling little sister to finish putting on her shoes so we could all go get ice cream, etc. etc.

I find this song and these memories taunting me in this phase of pregnancy. I am huge. I have heartburn. I have contractions ALL THE TIME. Yet I still have ELEVEN WEEKS to go (although I am banking on only ten left as the other two were early...maybe just nine or eight?? Please??)

Its torturous. Too early to go into labor any day. (Although it is comforting to know baby would likely survive if I did!) But still, way too early to get out diapers and newborn clothes and bassinets and so on.

It makes me crabby.

It feels endless.

Dont get me wrong. I am all about the miracle of pregnancy, feeling the baby move, yada yada yada. I am just, well, impatient! Weeks 35 to the end usually zip by for me. It COULD HAPPEN ANY DAY! But these days...oh how they drag.

This is the stage I sewed like a madwoman last time.

Eh. I don't FEEL like sewing.

And for little man this is when I obsessed over planning out his nursery (which was never used as such seeing as he refused to sleep anywhere except our bed!) Embroidered pillows, handmade curtains, the whole nine yards.

But it feels especially long this time around. Maybe its the heat but I have the most irritable uterus in the world. Contracting if I need to pee. Contracting while I pee. Contracting standing up after I pee. Contracting if I have too much food. Contracting with not enough water. Contracting to put on my shoes. Seriously, unless I am sitting my ass on the couch I am having contractions. (Although I just had one, just sitting here doing nothing. GOOD GRIEF.)

I feel sorry for myself. (Can you tell???)

And I take the crabby-ness out on the kids. "STOP THAT WHINING NOW!!" "NO, you CANNOT rub yogurt up and down your arms!!" "PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP ASKING TO WATCH THE PLAYMOBIL DRAGON MOVIE ONLINE. AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN."

And poor dada. He gets the brunt of it of course.

My new tactic from today hence is going to be to 1) ignore the contractions (until they turn into the real thing of course!) and 2) to totally indulge my children and be super nice mama. You want to watch the dragon movie online 30 times in a row? FINE. You want popsicles BEFORE lunch? Sure. Watermelon for dinner? Why not. (Sounds good anyway.)

And maybe indulge myself a little too. Sweet tea daily, a must. And maybe even a massage every few weeks? I think I should, thank you very much. I might even ask dada about hiring a housecleaner occassionally. (Would June ever do that???)

Now I need a project. Maybe some sewing? Trying to work up the energy for that one. Definitely need to get on the knitting. And then there was that book project I was supposed to finish pre-baby...oops.

Eh, I might let myself unpack some baby clothes after all, just for the morale boost.

So mamas, seriously, what do you do to keep yourselves going at the end of pregnancy??
Saturday, July 2, 2011


Sitting outside, breeze finally feeling cool after too many hot days, babies happily gnawing on corn and grilled chicken and then laughing with dada, stong arms wrapped around our little loves.


Despite crabby tempers and big bellies (that seem to get bigger by the minute) and aching backs and whiney little voices and messy houses and hot sun.


one year old

I just realized, as I sit here feeling crappy and crabby and tired all at the same time (don't you HATE those moments), that my dear little June blog is one as of...several days ago...

I am not one to commemorate such occassions I guess.

BUT what a year its been! Big changes, big decisions, and lots of little moments that have changed me, meant the world to me.

Some of my favorite early posts...this one...this one...and of course this one...(was I funnier back then? I feel rather humorless these days) and I also loved rereading this one and this one and this one.

Then there were a lot of big moments...this one...and especially, of course, this one (the real game changer of the year, which brought on this one).

In any case...(I guess I like elipses tonight) its been fun, hasn't it? Thanks for reading along and for your input into my little world. Let's have coffee sometime for real, 'k?
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